Since I made a post here.
Off-season has been crazy for Nats fans. Lot of signings, trades, and accusations.
Just wanted to jump in and say hi.
I hope to post more as off-season comes to close.
Oh and I am visiting Cooperstown next weekend.
You know I have heard and read other people complain about Nationals’ offense, but I did not pay as much attention to it since we managed to win or be competitive in all games so far. After attending last night’s game, upgrade is a must and no idea where it will come from. Yesterday Bronson was good but not so good that we could only get 3 hits and 0 runs. Come on! JZ allowed only one run, that’s also on a kinda botched play by Bernie (I think he could have held Harris at first or thrown him out at 2nd). If there is one thing I can’t stand besides bad acting, it is meager offense Nats put up last night. Anyways, our bullpen, pitching, and bench all look better than last season. Let’s hope offense gets going today.
Lincecum bombed his second outing in a row. Well, he was pitching in hitter friendly parks last two times, but getting pounded by Rockies and DBacks was a little too much. Why I care? because he is on my fantasy team, the one I care about. My rotation is made of Haren, him, Gallardo, and Hamels. All of them tanked their first start. Hoping for something better next time around.
Ichiro is doing OK so far. It is the beginning of the season, so not much can be read into it. I am still kinda worried with him in number 3 spot. We will see.
Nationals are doing alright, having won two in a row against Mets. Strasburg beat Santana today with some great stuff. I think it is GG tomorrow for home opener against Reds, should be interesting.
Opening Day is not far for us, Nats fans now. Cubs host us when Strasburg takes mound against Dempster. I am very much looking forward to it.
In other news, Nats host Red Sox in the afternoon at Nats park for their last spring training game. If not for work, I would have gone to see Nats play.
Anyways, Ichiro went 0 for 4 in the second game against Oakland in Japan. I did get to see him yesterday in MLB’s free game of the day against Rockies’ Moyer. He drove in a run with a double in his second at bat, while contact was not as solid as I would have liked it to be. Just from that one game, it seems he is not changing his approach as a number 3 hitter. I don’t really care about power as far as he does his job of driving in runs and stealing bases and just keep hitting like it is ’04. Go Nats and Ichiro!!!
Yay season started earlier today. Could not have asked for a better beginning.
Ichiro went 4 for 5 and drove in a run. I think I am gonna start tracking his hits.
All four were singles, three against the Oakland starter B McCarthy and one against Blevins (no idea who he is) which added to Mariners’ lead in 11th inning.
Nats season will be starting soon too. Looking forward to that!
Well we all heard it by now.
Mike Cameron will not be platooning with Bernie or Ankiel for Nats’ CF job this season. He has retired after 19 seasons. I did not know him well as a player, but looking at his stats I was hoping that Nationals won’t have to rely on this guy. Now we don’t have to worry about that. Sorry to hear you retired Mike, but I am sure you enjoyed your stay. tc!
What now? I am fine with Bernie/Rick platoon until Harper comes up.
I think so. When EJax is your #4 and you have ‘ace’ of your previous rotation battling for #5 spot, you know you have improved. Strasburg might be on innings’ limit but I expect a great season from him nonetheless. JZ surprised few last season and I hope to see that continue. GG in national league should be able to adjust without Oakland’s stadium. Things are looking up for Nats, pitching-wise.
Offensively, we are relied heavily on ifs. If RZ remains healthy, if LaRoche goes back to his norms, if Werth produces as expected, and Desi survives as lead-off. Right now Morse seems to be the only legitimate threat in the everyday lineup. Ramos and Espinosa won’t regress but they won’t develop into silver sluggers either. I expect them to be average, which I don’t mind because they are so great defensively.
If you look at the rotation, it seems that Nationals are ready for contention this season. If you look at the everyday lineup, it seems that Nationals are waiting to promote Harper up and sign one of the CF free agents. I think we have a shot. NL East is difficult, but we could surprise everyone.
Anyways I am eager to see Harper and Rendon in the bigs soon. I also hope Purke and Myers develop soon enough to join SS, JZ, and GG. Ooooh I am excited for baseball.
Since I last posted here.
Lot has happened. Nationals have a legitimate #3 now, involved in Fielder sweepstakes, while looking for an affordable CF.
I am not sure what I think of our trade for Gio, but that gives Nationals one of better rotations in NL. Offense still needs improvement, not sure if Fielder on a long-term deal is the answer. Either way, I am excited about the new season.
That’s what Nats Blog reports. Our lineup was struggling as it is but now we are without our #3 hitter and let us not forget that our #4 hitter is also playing injured. We all know that we have nothing solid in minor league system to backup Ryan. Morse continues to struggle. Zimm’s backup will most likely be Hairston or Cora. What now? we press the panic button?
Finally I have some time to write down my thoughts on the opening day game today. Weather was a concern before we left. At the game, it was cold and damp, and getting chillier as the game progressed. But it did not matter much because baseball was finally here.
Brief recap of the game before I pass grades on pitching, defense, and offense (Nationals):
Livan got two quick outs in the first before giving up a run with two outs when McCann drove in Chipper. Nationals failed to capitalize on one outs, runners at the corners situations with Laroche and Morse coming up. Heyward took Livan deep in his first at bat for Braves 2-0 lead. From then on, it was all about pitching. Nationals never actually posed a threat, except Danny’s one out double.
Let me pass out some grades now:
Pitching – Livan started out shaky, giving up two runs within first six batters. I thought this could be a long game for Nationals pitching staff but he settled in nicely after giving up a HR to Heyward. He retired 15 straight batters. The most impressive pitches were not fastballs of 90+ velocity, but couple of curveballs that Uggla and Heyward badly misread. Pitchers tend to throw faster in an at-bat as it prolongs but Livan does the exact opposite. Maybe Braves hitting is not the greatest threat, but Livan’s performance was no less superb. After he was taken out in favor of Doug Slaten to face off against Heyward, Slaten allowed a walk that moved McCann to second with only one out in the 7th. I was surprised to see Riggleman take Livan out of the game when he had only thrown 77 pitches. Heyward does have good numbers againist Livan so that could be a reason (small sample size though). When Slaten failed to do his job, Clippard came in and cleaned up the mess. Coffey and Burnett also kept the Braves scoreless in 8th and 9th respectively. Grade: A-
Defense – Nationals have advertised this off-season that the team will be built around defense and pitching. Today was the first true test. Werth as RF performed well, except a wide throw to 2nd in the first inning. If the throw was perfect, that could have been the end of Chipper and Nationals would not be ‘burdened’ with a comeback. Otherwise, he made couple of nice catches, especially the one off Prado’s bat. Not much went in the OF besides couple of fly balls to Ankiel and Morse, and they made no mistake. Espinosa and Zimmerman made nifty plays against McLouth and Jones. If anyone could be considered the weak link in the defense based on today’s game, it will be Desmond. No errors but a wide throw which almost went for an error and not 100% effort on McCann’s 7th inning single. At least from the LF seats, it looked like Brian’s single went under his glove. Grade: A-
Hitting – The one area I see Nationals having problem is driving in runners from scoring position. Top of the first with one out, Nationals had Werth at 3rd and Ryan at first with Laroche and Morse coming up, the guys we are all counting on. Well they failed, miserably. We could not even get a sac fly deep enough to score Werth, which is a shame. Later on, Lowe kept them off the base paths, inefficiently (105 pitches in 5 and 2/3). Anyways, our offense posed no threat whatsoever. Once Ankiel took a walk with two outs, he was caught stealing and inning ended. Danny’s one out double did not help much with Pudge grounding out and Nix striking out behind him. It was pretty much a forgettable day at the plate, with only one positive. Working out Lowe to 100 pitches before sixth ended was a positive I guess. That did not help is a different issue. Grade: C
Difference – The most noticeable difference between the two teams were the velocity displayed by the relievers. While Braves pitchers were consistently throwing 90+ mph, only Clippard and Burnett threw few pitches in the low 90′s. I am not making any conclusions based on this, just stating what seemed obvious to me.
Joke of the Day – When it was announced “now the main event for today” in introducing the presidential race, my cousin remarked that what is the ballgame then?
I will try to write as season unfolds but this detailed description is only for games that I attend in person.