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Thursday, Mar. 07/2013
Remember when Buster Olney went on Baseball Tonight and predicted the 2007 Nationals would just be historically bad, but they would be lucky if they could win 42 games. Or remember when columns like this one from Jeff Passan were the norm with catchy little puns like, “National Disaster.” At times it is hard to even remember the bi-gone days when Jason Simontacchi, Mike Bacsik, and Micah Bowie were key figures in the Nats rotation.
What makes it even harder to hold on to those memories of the bad Nats are columns like this about how the Nats could be historically good. In the terms of history five years is nothing. The build up of World War I started with the Bosnian Crisis in 1908 and didn’t officially start until Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914. The build up to historic events is a mention in a paragraph on the actual history itself. Those five years from 2007 until 2013 are throw away lines in the book that will be written if the Nats can manage to be historically good.
Wil Nieves used to have the Nationals Defining Moment…. Who?
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Wednesday January 23rd, 2013
Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer): Follow @BernieOlshansky
Having his breakout season in 2012, Jordan Zimmermann has been a guy the Washington Nationals have been able to rely on. 27 years old in 2013, Zimmermann helps anchor the young Nationals rotation including Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals had success in 2012, winning the NL East and making the playoffs for the first time as a franchise. The Nationals got unlucky though, and were eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals in the Division Series. This year the Nationals will hope to build on their 2012 performance, and Jordan Zimmermann will most likely be a big help.
One of the main reasons the Nationals were eliminated so early last season is because of the shutting down of Stephen Strasburg. In the middle of the season, I wrote about the pros and cons of shutting Strasburg down, and in the end the situation ended badly. Last year, the Nationals had a very strong rotation consisting of Strasburg, Zimmermann, Gonzalez, and Edwin Jackson. By shutting Strasburg down, the Nationals lost a quarter of their rotation and had to scramble when the Division Series went more than three games. Ross Detwiler got the start and Zimmermann had to come into the game in a relief role. There was no reason for this to have to happen. Protecting Strasburg was important, but in my opinion the Nationals overprotected him, which cost them dearly in the playoffs.
Jordan Zimmermann Flashback Highlights:
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Sunday January 20th, 2013
Jonathan Hacohen (Lead Baseball Columnist, Oakland A’s Correspondent and Website Founder): Follow @Jhacohen
My name is Jonathan Hacohen. And I am a John Jaso fan. There…I have said it. Feels very good to get it out. Ok, so I don’t own any John Jaso t-shirts or jerseys. I wouldn’t recognize him if I hit him with my car. But when #27 (formerly #28 on the Rays) comes up to bat, I know that good things will usually happen. Remember that .372 OBP in 2010? I sure do. So do many Tampa Bay Rays fans. For you see my friends, John Jaso is a special breed of baseball player. He is a catcher with patience. He won’t hit for great pop, but he finds ways to get On Base. That is a skill that served him very well back in his aforementioned first full MLB season.
From that season on, I came to expect great things from Mr. Jaso. But then 2011 hit. Or actually, he didn’t. A .224 AVG with a .298 OBP was good enough for the Rays to dump Jaso on the Mariners for Josh Lueke. Remember him? Do I really have to say more? The Rays, for all the talk of their poor offensive showing and need for major league bats, decided that John Jaso just didn’t fit into their system. So Jaso was off to Seattle and Jose Molina was brought on board. The same Jose Molina who hit .223 last season with a .286 OBP. The same Jose Molina who got paid $1.5 Million last season. John Jaso on the other hand got paid $495,200 last year. What did he do? Only hit .276 with a .394 OBP. Plus a .456 SLG for good measure. His reward? A one-way ticket to Oakland with a 30 second stopover in Washington. The man can’t win. A good or bad season, either way MLB GM haven’t shown faith in this kid so far in his career. But then, most GMs are not Billy Beane. Despite being apparently set at the position for 2013, Beane proceeded to trade for Jaso and dump George Kottaras, to catch with Derek Norris. Beane said on record that he would have kept Kottaras unless Jaso was made available. So does Billy Beane know something that Andrew Friedman, Jack Zduriencik and Mike Rizzo don’t? The answer is yes. Beane knows which players he wants and usually, he will get them at the end. Now John Jaso is set to bring flair, leadership and of course, On Base skills to Oakland. The playoff picture just got much rosier for the A’s.
Monday October 15th, 2012
Robert Whitmer: About two months into the season (May 21st to be exact), I wrote an article about Stephen Strasburg explaining that he was at a crossroads in his career. We discussed Justin Verlander and his abilities and compared him to the jock that you can find in any high school in the world. We said that he was the kind of guy that was good at anything that he tried to do. I said that it was just plain unfair how he abuses hitters at the plate because of the wide variety of pitches that he has to deal with. We also discussed Mark Prior and how he was the coulda, woulda, shoulda, of the argument. He did not live up to his potential and injuries were to blame. I remember saying that we would have to see what happens and where he ends up. Well the end of the season for the Nationals has come (for Strasburg it came earlier than the teams and don’t worry we will cover that later) so let’s take a look back at how the season that Strasburg had compares to the third season that Verlander and Prior had. You can read the above mentioned article here.
We shall start with Mark Prior for the sole purpose being that I have his stats up on Firefox first. Prior had a less than stellar third year for the Cubbies. He started 21 games but could only squeak out a 6-4 record in 2004. His ERA wasn’t that great either because it ended up at 4.02. We compare this to the previous year for Prior when he came in at 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 30 starts. Let’s look further at the 2004 numbers. He struck out 139 while giving up 14 jacks. The other number that is striking is that he only faced 510 batters the entire year. That’s just over 24 batters per game. This would be a great number if he were pitching into the ninth inning every game and having almost complete games each outing. That wasn’t the case. He started 21 times but only factored into the decision 10 times. That’s 11 outings where something happened that cause him to get the no-decision as evident by the 0 (zero) complete games that year. Like I said, it was a less than stellar year but in his defense, he did start the season on the DL for two months. Read the rest of this entry
Friday September 14th, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen: Before fans of the Nationals start to write any angry comments in respect of this article, please do me one favor. Stop. Read the article in its entirety and then pass judgement. That’s the least I can ask from each of you.
Now that being said, I have a bone to pick with the Nationals. While I love the game with a passion, I also need to separate the fan in me from the writer. When it comes to the topic of Stephen Strasburg, I honestly have a hard time doing that. Shutting down Stephen Strasburg to me is like ripping up the winning lottery ticket. You just don’t do it. Too many stars have aligned this season for the Nationals, to have the season put into possible jeopardy due to a decision that could have been avoided. Putting it bluntly- Stephen Strasburg should be pitching right now. To the end of the season. And throughout the playoffs. You just don’t take out your ace when you don’t need to.
I have talked with colleagues, players, fans…everyone and anyone who has an opinion on the subject. Believe me, there are many of them. If I had to take an informal poll of say 200 people with knowledge on the game, about 195 are against the move. Plain and simple. In my eyes, it seems that everyone sees the logic to keep him pitching (including Strasburg himself), except GM Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson. Even Johnson I am not that sure about. How often do you criticize your boss? Exactly. Read the rest of this entry
Saturday August 11th, 2012
Jake Dal Porto: The 2012 season has been full of surprising teams. From the Orioles to the Pirates, new teams that have always had the potential to be contenders appear to be taking the next step foward. However, no team has taken that vast step quite like the Washington Nationals. Led by a starting rotation that leads the National League in ERA (3.23), and opponents’ batting averages (.232), the Nationals have put together a magical season. Even though Washington’s offense hasn’t be as stellar as their pitching staff, a healthy lineup might change that. More importantly, a healthy Jayson Werth.
Jayson Werth, who was signed as a free agent by the Nationals prior to the 2011 campaign, has been a disappointed thus far. In his first year as a National he posted a 2.5 WAR. In three straight years with the Phillies before becoming a free agent, he posted WAR averages of plus five. Per FanGraphs, his 2011 season was worth about $11.5 million, compared to his actual salary $13 million. That $13 million will be the lowest mark of his contract, as his annual salary will steadily be on the rise over the next few years, eventually making the leap to the big $20 million plateau. However, the pressure will continue to amount if his production continues to slip. If he wants to prove his worth, there’s no better time for him to do so than now, when the Nats boast the best record in the National League and crave a veteran presence such as Werth. Read the rest of this entry