Which translated for polite company reads: “The issue is currently being reviewed by Major League Baseball and it would be inappropriate for the Nationals to comment until that review is completed.”
January 29, 2013
November 13, 2012
I'm not in the habit of re-posting press releases from the Nationals, but this is an issue that touches NTP directly, as I have family in central New Jersey still struggling with the after effects of Sandy and the follow on Nor'easter.
Tuesday, Nov. 13 to Saturday, Nov. 17: 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Kudos to the Lombardozzis, JK Moving, and the Nats. If you can donate, please do.
July 12, 2012
Via D.C. Sports Bog (& the Nationals), behold your Michael Morse bobblehead:
Yessir, I'll be getting one (or two... possibly three) of those. Kudos to PNC on some fine bobble-heading. All that's missing is a "Beast Mode" t-shirt and a little button you can press to play "Take On Me".
I just hope that Morse's early season lat strain was the only manifestation of The Curse of the Nationals Bobblehead, a mysterious affliction that has already felled Chad Cordero, Jose Guillen, Fat Screech, Dmitri Young, Nyjer Morgan, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman (twice) and Stephen Strasburg (preemptively) to name but a few.
Filed by: Nate File under: Fan Experience
July 8, 2012
Turns out we're not dead, just extremely lethargic. Plus, a competently run winning organization just doesn't pique our morbid fascination the way the old Trader Jim/Sideshow Stan carnival used to do. Still, never let it be said that we won't bestir ourselves for a little self-congratulatory back-patting.
Nats Triple Play premiered this very day in 2005, and honestly it sorta marked the tail-end of that inaugural team's magical run. So... yeah... let's not talk about that. Here's to hoping this year's second half is considerably less anti-climactic. No promises that we're going to be particularly more active, but be assured that we are watching, and waiting with bated breath to see who gets to be the 2012 version of Preston Wilson and Junior Spivey. (My money was on Marlon Byrd and Orlando Hudson, so I'm out of the betting pool.)
So, once again, happy birthday to us, and happy all star break to the NL East-leading Washington Nationals.
February 21, 2012
So much for doing these periodically to keep on top of the smaller news items as they trickle out. Since last we spoke the Nationals have added Edwin Jackson and Brad Lidge, subtracted Mike Cameron, seen all but 3 players report to Spring Training well ahead of the full squad deadline, and gotten injury updates on the only two really injured Nats, 1B Chris Marrero and reliever Cole Kimball, neither of whom will be doing anything but rehabbing in Viera.
We've also gotten the obligatory feel-good quotes from a post-TJ Stephen Strasburg and a post-post-abduction Wilson Ramos. In other words, the early Spring Training non-news is in mid-season form. So let's get to it:
With a Long Enough Lever and a Firm Place to Stand... You Probably Still Won't Move Ryan Zimmerman Off Third Base - All-Star and Gold Glove winner Ryan Zimmerman quite understandably doesn't feel compelled to volunteer for a position change just because the Nationals drafted standout college 3B Anthony Rendon in the first round last year. I've always been surprised that there's a contingent of Nats fans that considers Zimm's move to 1B to be an inevitability, and sooner rather than later. Yes, he's had some injuries and having to develop a new throwing motion in mid-season was hair-raising, but the RZA is still one of the best there is at the hot corner, and at all of 27 years old there's no reason to think he'll be on the downside of his career any time soon.
Whether that career will continue to be in Washington remains an open question, with Ryan holding firm on a Spring Training deadline to complete a contract extension, and both sides saying nice things about wanting to get a deal done. Of course, just because Ryan doesn't want to talk once the games count, that doesn't mean that his agents and Mike Rizzo can't still spitball ideas back and forth. If they can come up with something that meets Zimm's parameters, an in-season extension should be cause for celebration, not disruption.
Rendon, for his part, is saying all the right things about keeping his head down, soaking in the big league experience and playing wherever Davey Johnson tells you to play.
Cameron's Latest Disaster Epic - You could say that Mike Cameron's retirement threw the Nats' CF situation into disarray, except that might lead you to believe that there has been a point in the last eight seasons when the Nats' CF situation wasn't in disarray.
Harper spills some digital ink on the topic over at Nationals Baseball, and it's well worth a read. Short version: In eight seasons this team has been unable to identify and retain a centerfielder who can simultaneously hit and field competently without alienating his teammates and/or coaches, GM or owner. And that doesn't look likely to change in 2012.
160 And/Or Bust - From the beginning of his rehab it's been widely assumed that Stephen Strasburg will be on an innings-limit for 2012, and that limit will be approximately 160 innings (the Jordan Zimmermann Plan). What wasn't known was whether the team would try to tweak Strasburg's workload either by holding him out to start the season, going to a 6-man rotation, or some other shenanigans. Apparently the answer is a resounding "No". Strasburg will start the season in the rotation, pitch his 160-or-so innings, and take a seat.
Of course, should the S.S. Franchise feel the slightest discomfort or experience the tiniest setback, you'd better believe he'll be in extended Spring Training faster than you can say ulnar collateral ligament. But he survived his first bullpen session, so he's got that going for him, which is nice.
January 10, 2012
The Nationals' off season to date has been characterized by a marked lack of activity on the position player front. No major free agents (Sorry, Mark DeRosa does not qualify as a blockbuster signing.), no "big" trades; lots of sound, very little fury (apart from certain quarters of the fanbase). Signifying what, exactly?
Unlike seasons past, when the plan for the winter was less roster upgrade than roster overhaul, the Nats approach 2012 with relatively well-defined needs. Foremost among the holes to be filled, a centerfielder and a lead-off hitter, either separately or all in one player. The free agent market for lead-off hitting centerfielders was less than impressive even before Grady Sizemore re-signed with Cleveland, and Coco Crisp is a cereal, not a solution.
Remaining free agents like Cuban Yeonnis Cespedes or trade targets like B.J. Upton are centerfielders, but not classic leadoff hitters. And now the jungle drums are rumbling that Mike Rizzo may wait until 2013 to upgrade the outfield, even as Buster Olney suggests that the team may be eyeballing ex-Nat Marlon Byrd in the Cubs on-going fire sale. And all of this leaves aside the looming, ever-expanding profile of the Prince of Milwaukee, Wisconsin's very own Hamlet. "To be or not to be?" is indeed the question, but not one we're concerned with today.
Today we're looking at the Opening Day 25-man roster as though the franchise was frozen in time on January 10, 2012. No more bench bats or bullpen arms, only what Mike Rizzo has to work with as of right this moment. With that in mind, I give you your 2012 Washington Nationals:
Starting Pitchers: S. Strasburg (R), G. Gonzalez (L), J. Zimmermann (R), C. Wang (R), J. Lannan (L)
First Thoughts - Easily the best rotation since baseball returned to Washington, DC. Three potentially legitimate top-of-the-order starters, and the 4/5 pitchers are slotted below their ability.
Relief Pitchers: D. Storen (R), T. Clippard (R), H. Rodriguez (R), S. Burnett (L), R. Mattheus (R), T. Gorzelanny (L), R. Detwiler (L)
First Thoughts - This bullpen could easily be as good as the 2011 version, but in a perfect world one of the lefty long relievers would be swapped for a right-hander and there'd be one more veteran arm to support the youngsters.
Starting Eight: W. Ramos (C), A. LaRoche (1B), D. Espinosa (2B), R. Zimmerman (3B), I. Desmond (SS), M. Morse (LF), M. Cameron (CF), J. Werth (RF)
First Thoughts - If there were an award for Comeback Lineup of the Year, the Nationals would be strong contenders. The team will need bounce back years from LaRoche, Zimmerman, Desmond & Werth to stay competitive. The inclusion of ageless Mike Cameron shines a harsh spotlight on the Nats' on-going struggles in centerfield.
Bench: J. Flores (C), M. DeRosa (UTIL), S. Lombardozzi (INF), R. Bernadina (OF), C. Tracy (UTIL)
First Thoughts - Equal parts question marks and potential, but if the season started today the bench would once again be a weakness. If Flores and DeRosa have overcome their injuries they'll be solid contributors, but it's unreasonable to expect too much from the rest.
The Nationals have made tremendous progress and fans have every reason to hope for a winning record in 2012, but significant holes remain, and there's no clear-cut path to filling them. Thank goodness Mike Rizzo still has 40 days until pitchers and catchers report to fine-tune his team.
N.B. - There is one glaring absence from the Opening Day roster, a Mr. Harper. First, please observe that this is The Worst-Case Scenario Opening Day Roster. Second, slotting Bryce Harper in as the Opening Day rightfielder and pushing Jayson Werth into center may nominally resolve some questions, but it's not a panacea. Harper's presence in the starting lineup creates problems of its own. But that's a topic for another post.
November 8, 2011
Already this offseason the Nationals have been "linked" in one form or another to free agent starting pitchers C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson, as well as potential Japanese imports like Yu Darvish and Tsuyoshi Wada. And that's just the pitchers. The Nationals have also been named as a potential destination for free agent hitters from Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes to Grady Sizemore and Cuban refugee Yeonis Cespedes. Now the Nats aren't going to sign all, most, or necessarily even more than one of these guys. There's a possibility they'll end up with none at all. But even being in the conversation is a sometimes unsettling new reality for Nationals' fans.
A welcome side-effect of the team's status as newly-minted offseason players is a spirited debate among fans. Who's a better fit, Wilson or Darvish? Oswalt or Buehrle for veteran staff-leader? What's the bigger risk, a Sizemore reclamation project or an unknown quantity like Cespedes? Hot stove chatter is good for keeping baseball in the DC sports fan's consciousness, particularly now while the Redskins are imploding, the Wizards are locked out, and the Capitals are just beginning their long march toward a playoff berth. If the Nationals are going to become a year-round topic of local sports conversation, now is the time to get started.
Beyond the PR value though, the rumors are a sign that the Nationals have (finally) arrived as an MLB franchise. Fans can be forgiven for thinking that all this chatter is unusual, but really it's a result of the front office doing it's job. Mike Rizzo and his assistants should be making and fielding phone calls, kicking tires, examining all the options. This is what good teams do to get better and the only reason it feels novel is that for the first half decade of their most recent incarnation in DC the Nationals couldn't, or wouldn't participate in the process.
The team's "needs" for 2012 are fairly well defined. Someone has to play centerfield, and someone has to hit at the top of the order. Please, for the love of all things holy, note that these two roles do not have to be filled by the same person. The Nationals have been pursuing a "leadoff-hitting centerfielder" since 2005, with comically disastrous results.
Every thing beyond that is a "want". Rizzo wants to add another veteran starting pitcher, another bullpen arm, possibly a middle infielder and some big bats for the bench. These aren't quite luxuries, but they aren't indispensable either. Between the needs, the wants and the guys they have to find playing time for (Adam LaRoche, eight starting pitchers with 2011 MLB experience), there are a plethora of potential combinations, signings and trades for the Nationals this offseason. That's the biggest reason we're hearing the team's name pop up so often. (The other reason is leverage. Every free agent wants to be courted by as many teams as possible, and the Nats have a recent history of offering up big deals.)
Of course, the team probably doesn't see a fit for every player it's been linked to thus far, and even if it did it won't get them. The Nationals are not the only fish in the sea, nor are they the biggest. But they've finally graduated to swimming with the sharks, and fans will eventually learn to love the ride.