Great first two games for the Nats so far. Let’s see if JZimm can keep pace with the rest of the staff and put goose eggs up there today.
Last night felt like a football game. I actually think I was colder last night than I was at any football game this past season. By the way, black mark for ownership on another promotion. They can never seem to get those right. If you are having dollar dog night, you should 1) start cooking them before the crowd arrives, 2) cook more than you usually do and 3) have additional staff since there will be a lot more business at those stands. If you don’t do that, it’s yet another addition to the long list of bait and switch moves by team ownership. Wouldn’t you rather have your fans in their seats rooting for their team instead of waiting on line in the concourse for 3 innings for a hot dog? If you did, last night’s situation wouldn’t have happened. But you want to give the appearance of a good promotion, without having to live up to the deal. I took a look at the lines and bought nachos instead. But really, if you’re going to do a promotion, do it right.
Joining Harper on the 2 homer game list already this season: Michael Morse. Yep.
Finally, it’s good to see that we re-signed Chris Young today. Nice to have someone like him stashed in the minors in case we need him.
Sixteen days until opening day, and the Nats have looked pretty good so far this spring. While Bryce Harper has received much of the press surrounding the team this spring, their steady play and winning record have not garnered as much attention. There is more optimism surrounding this team than any I can recall since their initial spring of 2005.
I do think there are a good number of supporters who drank a lot of the Kool-Aid this year; that is to say they have been impressed with the team’s spring performance so far but seem to have forgotten that the Nats went 0 for 2 this offseason when trying to land a couple of top-flight starters to the mix. I do believe that starting pitching will remain their weakest point this season. Livan and Jordan Zimmermann have looked great so far this spring, but we need to keep in mind that JZimm has all of 4 wins in his major league career and that we can’t expect Livan to duplicate his impressive season from a year ago. I do expect Marquis to bounce back nicely since he appears to be healthy. No one knows which John Lannan will show up this year, but we all hope it’s the one who may be primed for a breakout season. On the offensive side, I love that Morse has had a great spring and seized the LF job. I’ve been impressed by him ever since we acquired him. I really hope Espinosa matures quickly as a major league hitter, and I’m hopeful that Ian Desmond is able to cut down on his errors so that we don’t lose his bat in the lineup. Center field could be a mess for awhile until someone separates themselves. Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later. I’m just trying to be optimistic but also realistic. Go Nats!
Posted in Opening Day, Spring Training, Starting Rotation, Uncategorized, Washington Nationals
Tagged Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Jason Marquis, John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann, Livan Hernandez, Michael Morse, Nationals, Spring Training, Washington Nationals, Washington Nationals Blog
Members of the Nats Nation (ha, I realize this doesn’t exist for teams that lose 103 games) will undoubtedly be talking over the next few weeks about Strasburg’s results in the AFL and his potential to be part of the rotation next season. Yesterday’s result proved that he is human, allowing 8 earned runs in his second start. As the eternal optimist, I’m thinking that perhaps this was a good thing. It eliminates the false hope that he is going to come in and be a 15 game winner in his rookie season. I’m not knocking his potential, but these were double A hitters that blew him up, so at least everyone realizes that he has work to do to become a major league pitcher. More importantly, hopefully the Nats’ front office will not try and pencil him in as part of the 2010 rotation already, which would be an easy excuse not to sign as much starting pitching from the free agent market.
If we want to be decent next year, I still believe we need to sign a #1 and a #3 starter for our rotation. Plug Lannan in at #2, Olsen at #4, and pick the #5 guy from whichever of this group rises to the top during spring training: Martin, Martis, Mock, Stammen, Balester, Detwiler and perhaps Chico. Zimmermann likely will not pitch at all next season in the big leagues. When the injury bug bites, another one of them will probably end up back in the rotation. 2-3 of the guys in that group should make the roster as relievers. That being said, we still need at least 2 new quality, proven arms in the bullpen, which we need to find in the offseason.
Posted in Starting Rotation, Washington Nationals
Tagged Colin Balester, Craig Stammen, Garrett Mock, J.D. Martin, John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann, Matt Chico, Ross Detwiler, Shairon Martis, Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
I want to avoid talking about yet another blown save that has cost us a game, so I will focus on an earlier turning point in last night’s game. In the fifth inning, Jordan Zimmermann loaded the bases but was able to quickly get ahead 0-2 on Edgar Renteria. Then the wheels came off. Zimmermann threw three straight breaking balls—all away, and all outside of the strike zone. Then he comes back with a fastball, which Renteria knew was coming, and he slapped it to right field for a 2-run single. You could argue that those 2 runs eventually cost us the win. (I realize that is a reach since it was only the 5th, and we lost by 2). But those are the kinds of little things that have costs us victories almost as often as our bullpen. I actually blame Nieves for the way he called that at-bat. Even the announcers were saying well, he got himself in a pickle by throwing three straight breaking balls. Now everyone in the world is expecting a fastball on a 3-2 count with the bases loaded. Even though a curve or a slider would have been risky to get in there for a strike, it would have been a better pitch to throw. The final insult was throwing that fastball on the outside part of the plate. You had him leaning that way for the last 3 pitches. It you must throw a fastball, bring it inside on his hands. Don’t put it right where you put the last 3 pitches. While we still should have won the game, those are the kinds of things that winning teams are more careful about. Thanks for indulging me in that minutiae. Let’s see Martis go 5-0 tonight.
Great to see Jordan Zimmermann come through with another solid outing. The guy does not seem to get fazed out there, even when he got down by a run early in front of a hostile crowd of 40,000 people. Now I‘d love to see us take 2 of 3 from the Philles and get some momentum before the Cards come to town later this week. They are red-hot lately, although their defense has been their Achilles heel thus far. Hopefully it’s still an issue when they get into town, as they score a lot of runs and we’ll need to do the same.
On a separate note, Jamie Moyer just got his third win of the season and it’s only April (although his ERA is over 5). Let’s be real conservative and say he wins just 10 more games this season, and ends up going 13-12 on the season. Then next season (he’s signed for 2 years, even though he is 46), let’s say he cobbles together a 12-14 season. That gives him 271 wins. Does he eventually get into the Hall of Fame?
It looks fairly clear that Jordan Zimmermann and Shairon Martis will make it out of camp as the 4th and 5th starters, although the order is fairly significant since the 5th starter will begin the season in the minors due to early off-days in the Nats’ schedule. At times they have both looked great this spring, but on almost every other major league team, these guys would both be honing their skills in the minors, at least early in the season. Look at the Rays’ David Price for exhibit A. I just hope people don’t expect too much out of them right away. I predict both will have big up days and big down days. But even if they get roughed up a little this season, that will give them experience and situational practice that will benefit them next year and beyond.
Great to see the strong starts for these two guys the past few days. I’m sure Zimmermann will have his rough outings this spring, but this was good to see. I think playing a competitive game this early in the spring (vs. Italy) brought out the best in the guys. A few more matches against WBC teams would have been great for the club. Johnson is looking good at the plate again, although it’s still way too early to call anything happening in Florida a trend.
Manny finally took his $45 from the Dodgers, although he had to swallow his pride and take the money over 5 years instead of 2, with no interest being paid. The Dodgers obviously were counting on him playing for them all along and wanted to avoid any further awkward negotiations before he comes into camp. Otherwise, they would have driven an even tougher bargain, as they were effectively negotiating against themselves. Nobody else wanted Manny at that price. He’s lucky to have gotten $45 million.