Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Washington Nationals Off-Season Transactions, 2013-2014

2013 Player Departures: 
RHP Dan Haren (FA Acquisition- LA Dodgers) 
LHP Fernando Abad (Trade- Oakland A's) 

Trade Rumors: 
Denard Span, 11.06.2013
Ian Desmond, 11.25.2013

  • November 25, 2013 Assigned LHP Tyler Robertson outright to Syracuse (IL).
  • November 21, 2013 Promoted Doug Harris to assistant general manager and vice president of player development, Kris Kline to assistant general manager and vice president of scouting operations, Mark Scialabba to director of player development, Mark Baca to national supervisor, Jeff Zona to special assistant to the general manager and Fred Costello to national crosschecker.
  • November 20, 2013 Agreed to terms with RHP Chris Young and RHP Gabriel Alfaro on minor league contracts. Selected the contracts of Aaron Barrett from Harrisburg (EL); and of LHP Sammy Solis and OF Michael Taylor from from Potomac (Carolina). Designated LHPs Fernando Abad and Tyler Robertson for assignment.
  • November 14, 2013 Requested release waivers on 3B Mauro Gomez.
  • November 4, 2013    Reinstated LHP Ross Detwiler and RHP Christian Garcia from the 60-day DL.
  • October 31, 2013      Named Matt Williams manager.
  • October 24, 2013      Assigned 1B Chris Marrero outright to Syracuse (IL).

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Unfinished business

Sitting 12 games behind the top seeded Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals are forced to start thinking about the wild card chase.

 It is easy to assume the Nats won't catch the sizzling Braves, however, it is certainly conceivable the Nats can finish strong, make the postseason, redeem the disappointment from 2012 and get some bitter sweet revenge in the process.

Reason #1 the Nats want to finish strong: 
The Nationals can catch the Cardinals, knock them out of the NL Wild Card Spot and obtain some bitter sweet revenge they've desperately wanted since game 5 of the NLDS.

Reason #2 the Nats want to finish strong:
In both 2012 and 2011 the NL Pennant winners did not have the best record in the National League. The Cardinals (2011) and Giants (2012-wild card team) both got hot at the right time- October. Getting hot in October is all that truly matters. Just ask the 2012 Nationals. 98 wins is nice but post season success is nicer. If the Nats can sneak into the post season AND peak at the right time their 2013 campaign might just end as they expected.

Reason #3 the Nats want to finish strong:

If the Nationals win the wild card, there is no stronger starting rotation and a pitcher more feared in a one game playoff than Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg has everything to prove after sitting out last post season and NL wild card teams know it. It would certainly be a difficult challenge for an NL Wild Card Team to face a pitcher like Strasburg in a one-and-done scenario.

Monday, July 29, 2013

From Rock Bottom to Rock Solid in One Weekend.

On Friday afternoon, the Nationals lost 11-0, sent their star closer to triple-A Syracuse and were facing arguably the best pitcher in MLB: Matt Harvey. You could say that was rock bottom for the Nats this year. Yet, somehow, as luck would have it, the Nats didn't have any time to dwell on that 11-0 loss. They actually had only about 2 hours to dwell on it. So in a situation where most reasonable fans were expecting the white flag, the Nats digged deep and willed their way to a dramatic Zimmerman walk off home run. After that dramatic win, the Nats looked like the 11-0 game 1 loss never happened. 

There is no doubt the rest of this season is critical for the Nationals. In the past, the Nats could always point to the fact that there are 162 games, that it's a long season, and that there's plenty of time and they were right. Were... right. Now, the Nats no longer have the benefit of keeping fans hopeful. If the Nationals are truly the best team in the NL East, we will find out once and for all this month. They play the Braves six times and have everyone on their roster healthy except Detwiller. The Braves have lost Tim Hudson for the rest of the season and have only played .500 baseball since their hot start in April. 

So excuses are limited at this point. There aren't many injuries that the Nats can point to should they fall victim to another losing streak or string of low offensive performances. There is, however, statistical improvement from Denard Span, Dan Haren, and Steve Lombardozzi in the past week. If the Nats want to keep this pennant chase alive, their Bench and bottom of the Rotation needs to keep progressing toward their preseason expectations. Obviously, time will tell, but when the Nats score 14 runs in one game, have Dan Haren earn a quality start, and see Denard Span hit home runs in back to back games, as a fan, you have to be optimistic. We've been here before, but never with this much on the line so... exciting baseball is back in Washington, at least, for now. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The morning before the All Star Break

Here we are. The morning before the All Star Break and the Nationals sit at .500. Two years ago, the Nats were a .500 team without Bryce Harper, without Davey Johnson, without Wilson Ramos, Gio Gonzalez, or Anthony Rendon. Yet, now, this underachieving team sits right at .500. This team couldn't really hit then. It was accepted and understood that they were a "small-ball" team. It was even pitched on the television and radio advertisements that "small ball" can be entertaining, and it was, actually as the Nats in 2010 and 2011 played baseball the right way. They executed bunts, managed the bullpen to perfection, and grinded out every at bat. 

Then 2012 happened. And this team exploded. But if you look closer, this team was more clutch than anything. The Nats were ranked No. 1 in the MLB in one run wins and walk offs. So does a bunch of 1 run wins and walk offs make you a great team? Honestly, 2013 is proving that it doesn't. What the Nationals were in 2012 was a clutch, "never say die" team. They were more grinding than the St. Louis Cardinals. They just would not give into an at bat. That's why they broke down bullpens. 

Fans and the media often ask how could a team win 98 games in 2012 and suddenly digress to .500? The answer lies in 2010 and 2011. The Nats took the "small ball"/"Grind-it-out" philosophy from 2011 into 2012 and coupled with good pitching and clutch hitting, that team was phenomenal. The answer every Nats fan and reporter is looking for is discipline. The 2011 and 2012 Nats were disciplined. When you don't think you're a juggernaut and have an approach at the plate to get as much as possible, you get as much out of an at bat as possible. The 2013 Nationals might be remembered as a team that just didn't grind it out. They just didn't step up when the situation called for it. The definition of of discipline is: The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior to avoid a punishment. 

The 2011 Nationals knew what punishment was. They were well aware of the beat downs they received from the Phillies, Marlins, and Braves from 2006 to 2009. The 2013 Nats do not seem to have that fear of punishment. In baseball there is little margin for error. Maybe the 2012 Nats just seemed to recognize that more than this 2013 team. Or maybe the Nationals are just not obeying the rules of baseball. There's stats on plate discipline that clearly show the Nationals downward trend. However, a higher level of discipline may be missing as we approach the All Star Break. This team seems to have forgotten just how valuable each at bat really is. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Taylor Jordan... So far

 In 2013, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (93mph), also mixing in a Change (83mph) and Slider (83mph).

His change up has gotten better (via average line drives per batted ball in play). However, his four seam fastball appears to be attacked more than his other pitches. 

Taylor Jordan seems to be mixing it up pretty well. His lowest whiff rate seems to be when he is not pitching down and away in the zone. Surprisingly, he has a high whiff rate for rising fastballs up in the zone, which shows that he mixes it up and challenges guys every once in a while. 

As you can see below, Jordan is getting more creative as the game progresses. This shows that he is setting guys up with the fastball and then mixing in change ups and sliders as his pitch count goes up. His sinker has been his least prolific pitch.