Nationals Baseball: I don't want to sweep alone.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I don't want to sweep alone.

Take that Nyjer Morgan! Who I actually like and I think the Morgan hate is ridiculous. What happened last year was a guy who couldn't handle having the worst year of his career having the worst year of his career. He didn't "not try hard" for the Nats. He didn't always suck. He is a talented player with a 100 MPH personality who just happened to have everything go wrong for him at the same time. It was a shame that things didn't work out here because I truly believe he's got a couple good years left and he could have given the Nats organization a respite in their eternal search for a CF. On the other hand, at least since it didn't work out I don't have to worry about the Nats giving Nyjer a 4 year deal after this season when he's going to age out of that skill set sooner rather than later.

ANYWAY, the Nats are on a roll and it reminds me a lot of the 2005 Nats. No not because this team is super scrappy winners. Get out of here whoever said that! I mean it! And no, not because Ryan Zimmerman is some sort of angel of death who causes the team to lose with anti-clutchness powers. You go watch "The Program" and get some ideas on how to do night reading. It reminds me of that inaugural seaseon because in 2005 a consistently average pitching staff carried a terrible offense to a .500 record.

If you don't remember the offense in 2005 was terrible. Of course there was Cristian "Am I supposed to see out of my eyes?" Guzman, but as a team they had a line of .252 / .322 / .386. That ends up being Worst / 12th / Worst in the National League. And that's with Nick Johnson finishing 6th in the league in OBP. Without him it basically works out to be a lineup of 7 2010 Ian Desmonds. They hit 117 homers as a team.

But pitching wise they were good - 4th in the league in ERA (7th as starters and 3rd as relievers), and it seemed like everytime Livan, John "My Boy" Patterson, or Loaiza took the mound they gave the team a quality start.

So far this year seems awfully similar to what I just described. The offense currently has a line of .226 / .316 / .351 or 15th / 11th / 15th, but they are 5th in the league in ERA (5th starter, 9th reliever) and they are among the league leaders in quality starts. Only Gorzelanny so far has had a start where he both pitched badly and gave up a bunch of runs. Everyone else either has pitched well, or gotten lucky when pitching poorly.

Of course this doesn't mean the team is going to take first place for the majority of the season. That crazy run had everything to do with a ridiculous, unsustainable record in close games. It was an average team that everything broke right for, for the first 3+ months. In 2011 the Nats have more normal luck so far (2-3 in 1 or 2 run games). If this is a .500 team it'll more likely be a boring .500 team all year long. Anyone want to complain about that?


Sec314 said...

It was Morgan's recent crack about being happy to be playing in a baseball town that ticked me, and others, off. The Nats Mgmt may have mishandled him, but they said all the right things in public. Nyjer is the one who failed to "stay classy."

Section 220 said...

Well, I definitely agree the team has taken the high road, and that "baseball town" incident certainly ticked ME off, but I don't think that was the start of the weird Nyjer bashing. On other blogs there was a tremendous amount of unfounded nonsense (comparing him to Elijah Dukes, spouting theories about drug use), that was just mean-spirited and petty, and I have no idea where it came from and why some people were so eager to make Nyjer the focus of their discontent. Actually, that's not true. I have some ideas, but none of them are pleasant.

I'd be willing to bet that a full season of Nyjer in CF would wind up being as or more productive than a full season of Rick Ankiel. (But Ankiel's AWESOME! He's a GAMER! Look at that ARM! He hits the cutoff man! He's...not very good.) Now, that doesn't necessarily mean anything. If you're a mediocre talent, it's totally fair for the club to take the line that you have to be 100% on program in everything you do, and we're not privy to their thinking on that subject.

At any rate, to Harper's rhetorical question, I emphatically have zero, zero problem with a nice, boring .500. I will dance jigs about an uninteresting .500. Rock on, un-enthralling middling Nationals!

bdrube said...

I agree with the other commenters. Had Nyjer kept his yap shut I would have been willing to let bygones be bygones. The booing of him yesterday was not nearly loud enough. Or as I said to my wife, imagine how loud the booing WOULD have been had he pulled the exact same crap in St. Louis, Chicago or Boston, where the fans are actually passionate about their teams.

Kevin Rusch, Section406 said...

First off, it's so nice to have blogs with thoughtful comments.

Second, I strongly agree with the initial sentiment that he just had a bad year and handled it poorly. The fact that all members of management had been so impressed with his work in March says a lot.

Now, I've not paid much attention - was the "in a baseball town" thing all he had negatively about us? If so, you really have to give him a pass. He's just trying to speak well of his new town, which every new player wants to do. And really, he busted his ass all winter long to improve and still got traded, and replaced by Rick Ankiel, who.. really? I'd be a little miffed too.

Also, "Or as I said to my wife, imagine how loud the booing WOULD have been had he pulled the exact same crap in St. Louis, Chicago or Boston, where the fans are actually passionate about their teams." -- doesn't that kinda define "not a baseball town"?

Harper said...

Nyjer certainly didn't help himself with the backhanded slaps at DC, but I think most of the hate pre-dated his comments. If you honestly turned on Nyjer just for those cracks, I understand I guess. I think it's a bit overly sensitive but then again - it's not my town.

Sec 314 - that makes is sound like you're ok with the Nats screwing over anyone as long as they smile politely and talk nice in public... you aren't from the Deep South are you? (though I don't think anyone believe the Nats screwed Nyjer. It was a philisophical difference - they just didn't want hotheads, even ones that may have talent)

Sec 220 - I'm not taking that bet.

bdrube - It's the great Nationals Fan Schizm then. Gotta say that makes me glad he didn't go to an East team. 6/7 times of this would get old fast.

KR - I like the guy and I can't read it without seeing the backhanded insult at DC. Might not have been the focus but it's there. Of course as you say there is some truth to it - but given that we expect our athletes to be non-confrontational when someone does say something it stands out even more.

Hoo said...

I'm in the anti-Morgan but hate the trade camp. I don't think Morgan is that good but yes, probably better than Ankiel.

I was in the Bernie camp due to youth and the fact that Bernie could been a contributor in 2013 and Morgan couldn't. (of course then Bernie has shown he's not much if any better than Morgan).

I do think Rizzo set Morgan up to fail. But Morgan helped with his comments and complete inability to back up his act. His base running was abysmal and beyond frustrating.

All that said, it's crazy that the Nats gave him away for pennies on the quarter. I'd bet that Morgan has a better MLB career than Cutter.

Harper said...

I'm going to guess that Cutter's MLB career will be eerily similar to my own.

Sec314 said...

No, not from the Deep South... Although Vienna, Va. did have its share of Confederate apologists in the 60's and 70's.

I didn't boo him myself (I was pre-occupied with a 4 year old who WANTED COTTON CANDY RIGHT NOW!!). But I ran out of patience with Nyjer after the glove throwing incident. My 4 year old kind of brought back that memory...

Who knows what went on in the Clubhouse between Werth and Morgan or in the Front Office between Rizzo, Riggleman and the mid level baseball people? Maybe Nyjer got the raw end of a deal, but at least the Nats Management didn't air their dirty laundry.

People get fired all the time, but good organizations and businesses try to make it look like the decision was "business" not personal. Smarter employees play along... or protest, proving their former employer's point.

Setting aside the personalities and internal stuff we'll never know about, yeah, I'd have kept Morgan (and Bernadina) over Ankiel. But I'd probably bat Morgan/Bernadina 7th or 8th and have Espinosa lead off. (and have Desmond bat 2nd)

John O'Connor said...

"Or as I said to my wife, imagine how loud the booing WOULD have been had he pulled the exact same crap in St. Louis, Chicago or Boston, where the fans are actually passionate about their teams."


Doesn't that sort of suggest that Nyjer's comments were right on?

Theo Mackie said...

does anyone miss chad "the cheif" cordero? only time nats croud would get wild was when they brought on 'the cheif" at rfk

Lee said...

We aren't even through April yet and the Nationals seem to be done with the Ankiel experience. When I read articles like the one I'm linking I can't help but be hopeful. Even if we don't land Upton, management is signalling that they want to win. Think about this team:

CF: Upton
2B: Espi
RF: Werth
3B: Zim
LF: A fully realized Harper
C: Ramos
1B: LaRoche (or an upgrade)
SS: Dez

Bench: Morse, Bixler, Bernie, Flores

SP: Stras
SP: Rizzo finally coming through
SP: Lannan?
#5 SP: Not Gorzy
RP: Clip, Storen, Burnett, HRod

One can dream. Here's the link:

Harper said...

sec 314 - It appears you hold Nyjer to a higher standard than a 4 year old. You need to watch more sports.

JOC - On, but not necessary.

Theo - possibly the only positive to having a set closer.

Lee - It'd be nice but my guess is that it'll be tough to get Upton without giving up a MI. Also I still think Chris Young is a more likely endpoint - just feel like it