Friday, May 18, 2012

Gio: I apologize

Nationals Pitching Is Still Excellent After A Weird Week of Outings | May:

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Hey man, so sorry about that whole mediocre thing.  Believe me, had you just said that you had found the strike zone on the cross country flight from Oakland to DC I wouldn't have written it.  Really.  And as long as you know to find that elusive strike zone, boy you are really good.

A couple of other thoughts:

I was pondering a post about the Brett Lawrie/Bill Miller umpire incident focused not on the helmet throwing visual but the obvious "I'll show you" call the umpire.  I was going to write about how while I can't condone Lawrie reaction, I can understand it.  That was Ball 4 by any measure and it was so clearly a case where an umpire let a personal disagreement influence his judgement.  As unprofessional as it was for Lawrie to throw the helmet, it was equally unprofessional for that call.  I was also going to point out how baseball wouldn't do a damn thing (at least publicity) to Miller.

So they decided to suspend another umpire Bob Davidson for who knows what.

Umpiring is tough job and to their credit, they are right a lot more than you would think.  And I can understand why MLB keeps umpiring discipline a closely guarded secret. They don't want to give the impression that one guy is a problem. Understood.   Hopefully they are sending the long overdue message to the umpires that people don't care if you get "shown up." They don't pay to see you.  If you become part of the story, you have failed.  I will be interested to see how the union reacts. My guess is they go ballistic.

The fact that no plan as ever withstood contact with reality is cold comfort for GM Rizzo.  I would be the first to say that he had quite a nice little catching plan in place a week ago.  Two young well rounded backstops and a nearly ready one waiting in reserve.  There are a lot of teams that would love to have a stash of potential quality catchers like that.  And then its gone.  Nothing you can do about what happened.  All I'll say is remember the process was right and don't panic!

When can we start worrying about Zim's lack of power?  Defense and good AB's don't make a $100m player.  Need some more out of you.

Ian -- its great that you can hit home runs.  Fantastic.  However, between you and me, I'd trade your home runs for 30 points of OBP.  .330 is all I'm asking for.

Another feather in GM Rizzo's cap at least so far this year is the marked improvement in the Nat's bench.  Actual dangerous PH's lurk making these late inning rallies a lot easier to assemble.

edited to reflect the fact that the umpire suspended wasn't the guy involved in the Lawrie incident.  Although it should have been.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Three Things from last night

Baseball Video Highlights & Clips | ARI@WSH: Harper goes 3-for-4 with two runs scored - Video | Multimedia:

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1. On Harper's first double, Parra the D'Backs CF makes a barehanded grab on the carom off the wall and makes a strong if off line throw to second.  Assume for a moment his throw was Ankielian -- it would have made for a close play at second . . . for most anyone else or someone who was admiring a drive that very well could have been his 1st career home run.  Harper however was already standing on second before the ball ever left Parra's hand.  Wow.

2. The contrast between Bob Carpenter's "call" of Desmond's game winner with Charlie's is black vs. white. Polar opposites.  MLB TV's version of the highlights keeps Carpenter's call up till Desmond swings. Then its all Charlie. We don't need Hawk Harrelson but c'mon Bob give us something.

3.  Ian I want to introduce you to one Kendrys Morales.  I know it is highly unlikely you will ever hit another walk off homer but if you do don't freaking leap to land on the plate!!!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How sportswriters create myths

How the Washington Nationals became baseball's sleeping giant - Ben Reiter -

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If you are interested in a handy easy to follow narrative, I point you toward this.

Why oh why do we point to Strasburg and Harper and call it a "focus on development?"  Those guys have absolutely nothing to do with development.  They are a product of two 59 win seasons. Period.  Zimmerman isn't really a product of scouting either he was the 4th pick in a loaded draft.  They can be applauded for at least not missing here. We can quibble about whether Bruan or Tulo or Jay Bruce or Andrew McCutchen or oh man so sorry Mariners fans!

But oh that was the Plan (trademark Stan K) We didn't want to go out an sign free agents to make us somewhat better.  OK so you are telling me that the whole Texeria thing was just a pile of Boras bullshit?  I can understand that but I can't wrap my head around how you can say we meant to suck that's why we didn't sign anyone and also claim we tried to sign Mark Texeria to an albatross contract.  Those are mutually exclusive but as you will note they are presented in two different contexts by the writer. Each piece in the place it needs to be to support the narrative.  Clever but mendacious.

I certainly enjoyed the part about scouting and development being the focus of the organization and how the billionaire owners starting putting tremendous resources into it.  Kudos to them for building up what was to be generous a skeleton crew of scouts.  But let's also remember that this focus of development is wayyyyyyyy more recent than this writer lets on.  Cast your eyes back to the draft of 2009.  The Nats spend more in that draft then anyone ever before in history!!!! Development. Scouting! The Plan in action!  No.  Just one one in a generation pitching prospect who had the foresight to hire Scott Boras.  Check the rest of that draft. Slot or below for THE REST OF THE ENTIRE DRAFT!  Didn't see any of those guys in the Gio loot pile did ya?

Of the four guys in that loot pile only AJ Cole stands out as part of the development and scouting plan.  Clearly they had no desire for Tommy Milone based on the outcome of the Lannan v Detweiler competition. This is not the place for soft tossers (Danny Rosenbaum keep your bags packed in late July)  Norris was excess in the wake of the Ramos robbery and Peacock -- they filled that slot for $11 million.  A much better outcome than I thought at the time. Gio's relative lack of wildness being the main reason this deal looks so good right now.

Don't get me wrong.  I for one applaud the scouting and development plan.  Would have been nicer had they started it a few years earlier but hey who am I to argue now.  A more accurate narrative would say the Nationals and their billionaire owners hoped a new ball park along with the most affluent metro area in the country would be enough to fill the seats.  When they realized that this is a frontrunning town (sometime in 2009 would be my guess) they changed course and opened the wallets to at least appear to give a flying F.

Thanks to having what I have no problem calling a Top 10 GM they've been successful in building a pretty good team for now and better still for the next few years.  

Of course I am still waiting for the first impact international signing.  Carlos Alvarez doesn't count.