Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2013 World Series or Bust?

When I started this blog, one of my name choices was 43/63.

Those were my goals for the season, first to reach 43 wins and put the specter of the '62 Mets away then 63 wins to lift the burden of a 100 loss season.

Expectations have taken a marked turn for the better since then.

A 98 win season and a near perfect off season will do that.

But I don't expect the Nats to win the world series.  At least if you gave me even odds, I'd take the field.

Such is the nature of baseball's postseason . . . if Game 5 didn't already highlight that.

Will the Nats make the postseason?  Yes. They absolutely should. There is no reason they shouldn't barring catastrophic injuries or underperformance.  I think we'd all be bitterly disappointed if that happened, more so with underperformance than with injury but disappointed nonetheless.

Will they win a championship?  That is left to the fates.

They have everything they need to do it and they should have a shot but I am not going to judge this season's success or failure based on the postseason luck-o-rama.

One of the reasons I've been quiet lately is: there just isn't much to criticize.  Back in the bad old days, there were plenty of bad decisions being made. But this front office has been nearly perfect in its handling of decisions not just for 2013 but for beyond.

That means instead of a luck-filled magical post season run followed by 5 years of starry-eyed failure, they have built a team that should contend for years.  They have built the 1990s Atlanta Braves.

That's all any Nationals baseball fan could ask for.  That all any baseball fan can ask for.

So its important to remember what the legacy of those Atlanta teams are: they only won 1 championship.  And they are considered losers.

I only hope the Nats can enjoy such successes.  I believe they can based on their current salary structure, team age and continued development of prospects.  The only thing that can sully it, at least in my view right now, is an overemphasis on postseason success.

Yes, it would suck to get to the postseason five years in a row and come up empty but that's a damn sight better than 43/63.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Win now?

Keith Law pretty much sums it up for me.

A not terrible CF for a decent price in exchange for a high upside pitching prospect. A truly win-now move.  We've come a long way on the success circle.

I suppose this means the last of Adam LaRoche.  I wouldn't be happy to have to pay him for the next three years based on last season's production because that's most likely not going to turn out very well.

The idea that the Nats needed a speedy leadoff on base defense CF has been one I've written about many times.  I've also noted that they are hard to find.  However, in the 2nd half of 2012, that problem had been resolved.

Jayson Werth IS the leadoff hitter we needed.  I don't give a crap about this he needs to be a "run-producer".  He's not.  He's ideally suited to the leadoff role, a little pop and a lot of on base.  Harper can handle CF just fine from a defensive perspective, moving him to left seems like a waste of a potentially sterling defensive player anyway.

 I'm guessing the plan is having Morse at first next year and then having Zim stay there for the course of his contract with Rendon taking over at third.  Span sits between Harper and Werth for the next two years with Goodwin taking over just as Span's $9m option can be turned down.

I hope they at least made La Roche a qualifying offer so that when he signs with Boston, the Nats get a compensation pick.  That will hopefully replace Meyer in the now-depleted system.

It seems to me that it would have been smarter to use Meyer to get the other starter they need rather than the CF.  Think they could have gotten James Shields or jon Lester for Meyer?  That wouldn't have broken the budget for 2013 nor forced a long term commitment.  It would have meant paying LaRoche for the next three years but exactly what will it take to fill that open starter slot over the next three years?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Live Blog Game One NLDS

OK so it's the 4th inning and I'm just getting started.

Would this even be recognized as a no-hitter?  At least we know it won't be a complete game.

So much for that.  There goes the no-hitter.

I guess going halfway across the country meant Gio found that lack of control he lost coming over from Oakland.

Backwards K how about that TBS.

More Steve McCatty interviews please.

Only 9 more days of the "Teenage" accomplishments list?  I'll miss Tony C.

Just for my own edification, I'd like to know how much Capital One paid Jimmy Fallon to humiliate himself with all those accents (aside from the lobster guy which is clearly in his comfort zone) and I'd like to know how much Dish Network is lowballing WUSA. It must be a lot since they are annoying the F*&% out of me with those gd crawls.

God damn. We get it Gio. We're all saying the same thing

Adam Wainwright doesn't seem to have a problem with the shade, light shade thing.  Has no problem throwing strikes.

What would be the kangaroo court fine for a Cardinal that swings at the first pitch today?  $100?  $500

This has to be Gio's last batter.

Would Davey consider Lombo for game two if the Cards weren't throwing a lefty? Espi looks lost right now

It will be Gio's last batter.  2 runs in 5 IP.  It was ugly but at least it didn't get out of hand.  And although Lynn is really good, I'm glad to get into the Cardinal bullpen this early.

Our first key moment:  $126 million for this moment Jayson

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHJHHHHHHH.  Don't tell me strikeouts are not worse that other outs at this very minute.

That makes up for Some of the K last inning Jayson.  Not enough but some

I was going to say it must not be our day with the Harper robbery and LaRoche's error but hello Ryan Mattheus houdini act . . . no runs bases loaded no outs . . . you are telling me we have a chance

I'm 99% sure Espi did that on his own.  I'm sure it wouldn't have happened if Davey were still alive


OK Drew Storen against their 1-2-3 hitters for a postseason win.

One kid and 15 social security recipients behind home plate tonight. Not good long term baseball

Again, it was ugly but Morse got it done. one down.  and the leadoff guy.

Why am I still nervous?  The Win Probability has to be over 50% right?

You can throw strike one? Someone tell Gio

Thanks Dick.  Announcer jinx of all time on the extra base thing

GAME OVER!   Thank you Tyler Moore and Ryan Mattheus.  Never expected to write that.  Now, we'll have at least two games in DC

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wow. The season isn't over.

INTERNET BASEBALL WRITERS ASSOCIATION: Washington, D.C. Chapter: DC-Internet Baseball Writers Association Announces 2012 Player Achievement Awards:

'via Blog this'

I suppose something must be said at the conclusion of the 2012 season.  98 wins, an 18 win improvement, the NL East crown and the best record in baseball.  OK not bad guys.

Really, not a lot to say.  Other than it's not a fluke.  There aren't the otherworldly luck in close games the O's had or fluky out of career norm seasons by one or two players.  This was a team that started the year as a 80-85 win team with upside and ended the year as a bone fide 98 win team.

True you can point out that the rotation was healthy all season and maybe we got more than we could expect from LaRoche and Desmond but all in all really nothing that out of the ordinary.  Yes they had no serious starting pitcher injuries but that will happen with a young yet experienced rotation.  They lost Zim, Desmond and Werth for significant time and it really didn't slow things down.  Now they are better with those guys don't get me wrong but they were able to paste over any holes that appeared in the lineup with ease.

I can't even recall a serious losing streak although when you win 98 games that isn't likely anyway.  That strong stable of starters meant if you were only as good as your next day's starter, they were pretty damn good every day.

I think the two things that really elevated the team to this remarkable regular season were Gio's brilliance and of course Bryce.

I've already made my mea culpa on Gio.  Nothing in his past would indicate he'd be an easy top 4 Cy Young vote (R.A.'s got that sewn up sorry).  but he clearly is.  Dickey, Cueto, Kershaw and Gonzalez in any rational ballot.

But Bryce really moved the needle.  And the number that flabbergasts me is one that never gets talked about. It's not a new fangled stat either. It's 98.  That's in runs scored.  They flashed that number in a recent game and my jaw hit the floor.  Seriously, 98 Runs!  That's insane.  It's absolutely true (just Fangraphed it to be sure.)

Throw out every other number.  He's 14th IN THE MAJORS IN RUNS AS A 19 YEAR OLD.  Who missed three weeks!  Now a bit of this has to do with the guys hitting behind him driving him home and I under stand that but 98 runs is still a damn impressive number.  It really brings out a lot of those little things that Bryce brought . . . taking extra bases for example.  Also, Bryce got ON BASE.  Can't score if you can't get on.

Hoist a tall one boys. Great season.  Which will not be diminished by anything that happens from now on.  Postseason is a crap shoot.

And one more thing, STFU you stupid troll Christine Brennan.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nationals clinch playoff spot, first for D.C. team since 1933 | Big League Stew - Yahoo! Sports

Nationals clinch playoff spot, first for D.C. team since 1933 | Big League Stew - Yahoo! Sports:

'via Blog this'

For such a big deal, it doesn't feel like a big deal.

I mean I started this blog with the idea that it would be an accomplishment to reach 43 wins . . . the low standard to ensure forgetability for bad teams or 63 wins to avoid the dreaded 100 loss season.  Of course they weren't successful in the latter and thanks to Riggleman (thought we forgot what Jim did for us not as the Nats manager but sweeping that last series in Seattle and gifting us Strasburg).

Even though playoff baseball is devalued, this is a franchise that has played what 5 postseason games period.  Haven't had a postseason game in Washington since 1933.  That's exorcising a lot of demons and ending a lot of narratives.  I'm all in favor of ending sportswriters narratives.

Side note: how freaking good was Ross Detweiler last night?  Spotting a 95+ FB all over the place.  Am I crazy for thinking that I wouldn't be ashamed to have him start a post season game?  And he's the 4th starter. h/t to Davey for having the guts to put him in the rotation from Day One (we'll just all agree to forget the regrettable CM Wang era OK).

Storen was pretty special too.  That's a key to postseason success -- 8th and 9th inning shutdown guys.  Pretty glad to go into a series with Clip and Storen at the end right now.  And I'm confident Davey will keep them both fresh.

Honestly, how can anyone other than Davey get a vote for NL MOY.  Making the Lannan/Detweiler call out of ST, the way he's handled he bull pen from Day One mixing and matching and generally creating favorable late inning matchups all year long, having a productive bench and using it and finally and IMHO the key move convincing Jayson Werth to be happy in the spot he belongs -- leading off.  How many managers would have both the smarts and the balls to tell a 6' 5" $126m guy he's no longer a "power" hitter and get him to go where he makes the team work best as a high OBP leadoff guy.  Short answer not many.  (Would Manny Acta? I doubt it.)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How the Nationals Were Built - The Triangle Blog - Grantland

How the Nationals Were Built - The Triangle Blog - Grantland:

'via Blog this'

Expos apologist forgets that it was the Expos that made the hideous Colon deal which is just as responsible for the bottoming out as anything else.  Oh and Omar's terrible drafting after the first round.  Lots of 1st rounders go bust but usually teams find mid round gems.  Not under the late term Expos.

I'm sure I could look this up but I prefer to just ramble on and say I am certain there were times in 08 and 09 when an overmatched Nats team walked into Philly or SF or anywhere really and had their asses handed to them.  Where is was so patently obvious which was the better team. The games not even close.  Well, payback's a bitch Chicago.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oh Noes? What if the steroid narrative is bunk?

Was MLB's Juiced Era Actually A Juiced-Ball Era?:

'via Blog this'
What will lazy sportwriters do now?  Although the evidence is not definitive, it does appear MLB was complicit in trying to"juice" the game via modification to the ball itself.

Check this quote:
The 49.1-foot discrepancy in flight for two balls at the extremes of tolerance is roughly three times the distance produced by a three percent increase in batted ball speed. That's according to the rule of thumb cited by Nathan in his evaluation of data on home run distances, whereby each additional mile per hour of batted ball speed increases the fly ball distance by 5.5 feet. That's a lot of extra homers added to the ledger without anyone violating the rules.

If you have ever wondered why some pitchers can be picky about the ball, the specs for MLB baseballs is a 1/4" in diameter and 1/4 oz in weight.  I couldn't tell the difference but I would be willing to bet someone who played the game would.

Interestingly, they even note that gameballs for minor leagues flew on average 8 feet less than MLB game balls.  Sort of explains how a guy can go from minor league double machine to home run derby guy without juicing doesn't it?

The larger point I'm making is: we've slipped into a convenient narrative for the late 90s early 2000s regarding the "steroids" era.  Oh records from that time are suspect, everyone was juicing and the game was just out of control.  Well, we still don't know how many were doing it  (and we never will) and we don't know if it helped or hurt.  (BTW -- why isn't it ever discussed that pitchers juiced too. Doesn't that even things out?)  This narrative while easy is not complete nor correct.  The so-called "steroid" era is not different than any other era and attempts to portray it as such as just ill informed.

Personally, I don't give a crap about steroids.  But I'm stuck living in this world where sportswriters love the stuff and infect historical discussions with it every chance they get.  Oh the lamentations I will have to ignore come the 2013 HoF ballot.  I know its too much to ask to say just let it lie.  but can we please have some perspective.

Also, I AM NOT IN PANIC MODE YET.  Losing streaks are inevitable and after such a great run to be expected.  We're just one quality start away from putting all this behind us so cheer up.