Nationals Baseball: Tuesday Puppy Kicking

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday Puppy Kicking

I assume that's what I did yesterday based on some reactions.  You've come here before. You know I tend to focus more on the "what needs improvement" as opposed to the "what's going along swimmingly" That's the way this thing rolls. Just because I say Rizzo's true test is what happens with the Nats after 2015, doesn't mean I don't think he's a good GM.  I do.  Just because I say the Nats lack a true superstar hitter that you trust to come through regardless of the pitcher on the mound, doesn't mean I don't think the Nats are favorites to reach the World Series. I do.

On the latter I said I do like the Dodgers over the Nats in a "Kershaw starts in Game 1" scenario.  But I give the Nats a better chance to beat the WC winner than I do the Dodgers to beat the Cardinals. Overall I'd give the Nats a slight edge as long as they hold onto that #1 seed (which seems very likely).  I haven't really thought about the World Series possibilities. We'll just hold off on that until that chance gets a bit more into focus.

Hmmm hmmm Well what else do we talk about?  The playoffs begin a week from today (AL WC). For the Nats it's a while though, a week from Friday. In the meantime, we're going to watch how they use Zimm and Soriano. I have a hard time seeing Soriano being left off the post-season roster and you know Zimm won't be, so let's see what happens over the next few games. That should tell us all we need to know about how they'll be used in the playoffs. We'll also sit and wait for the formal announcement of Gio as the 4th starter.  I will note, this doesn't actually have to happen until either the Nats lose an NLDS game or the NLCS starts. They could just not say anything because best case the Nats won't need a 4th starter until like October 15th.

The "funtracker" stuff 

Span :  . 298 . Back of the envelope has him needing 9 hits for the rest of the season to get up to .300. Maybe 10. Certainly doable. One or two hot games at any time would likely do it.

Rendon : 5 runs ahead of Pence. Unless Rendon just stops scoring he'll take this easy.

Desmond : 3 K's behind Howard, tied with Byrd. Stanton's injury knocked him out of the running but it looks like Desmond will just fall short to one of the Phillies.

Strasburg : He's 7 ahead of Cueto and Kershaw. Both he and Kershaw have one start left, so barring something really terrible/special he'll stay ahead of Clayton. Cueto could start twice, which would give him a decent shot. Does he start that meaningless last game when he's already at  235 innings? I think he might, if it could be win #20.

The playoffs

Any idea of how you'd like to see games covered? I'm going to do what works for me, obviously, but there could be several things that fit that bill.  Live tweet? Some sort of chat room? Nothing - you'll be too busy watching the games to be on a computer (how OLD are you)? Nothing - you'll be AT the game? 

29 comments:

Jeff Hayes said...

I prefer live tweeting. I'll be at some of the games and watching the rest at home. I won't be at my computer but normally follow twitter during games.

I for one don't mind the occasional larger context you provide. Even if it is sometimes cold water. Right now, though, cold water is about right. It's like you know you have a date with an attractive girl but it is still more than a week away. It's not healthy to spend the whole week thinking about that one night, let alone future dates with the same girl, even if it brings you enjoyment.

Zimmerman11 said...

I wouldn't mind a live chat room... I will follow the Twittererers. I will definitely hit one game out of each series the Nats reach...

I'm definitely in "hold your breath until playoff start" mode... hoping for a happy healthy Nats team to hit the postseason and erase some of the bad taste leftover from missing the dance last year :)

Donald said...

I like the live-blogging, though I'd like a focus on manager decisions -- what they've done or chose not to do or will have to decide coming up, rather than just a recap of events.

BTW -- I'm not so sure about Soriano making the roster. Rizzo has a history of making some bold moves -- demoting Lannan; giving the #5 to Roark over Det, and maybe calling up Harper early. I think if he and MW think they'd be stronger with Trienen, they may go that way regardless of experience and salary. In any case, I don't think they've made that decision yet. I think Soriano will get several more opportunities this week and if his location and movement improve he will probably make the team. But if he's still pitching like he has the past several weeks, he gets left behind. At least for the first series.

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JWLumley said...

I hope my puppy grows up and bites you in the ass Harper. Just kidding, you didn't hurt my feelings, I just liked to argue. I still think Harper is the guy you're talking about when healthy he can hit anyone. Yes, he'll scuffle at times and be more hot and cold, but when he's hot it doesn't matter if it's Bob Gibson and the ghost of Sandy Koufax, he can hit them.

As for the coverage, I'd say live tweeting for road games. I'll be at the home games, so live tweeting would be good there too.

@Jeff Hayes You're exactly right. Let's talk about offseason moves or minor leaguers instead.

Max said...

Thanks for another awesome post Puppy Kicker. I'm always optimistic, so I prefer reading bloggers who are more pessimistic (they would say realistic).

I much prefer the live tweeting. I'll be at all of the NLDS games. For what it's worth, I've seen chat rooms that somehow integrate tweets into the chat room. I'm not sure if that technology requires a budget, but I thought I'd let you know.

bsimon24 said...

I'm an usher at NatsPark...lets just say it has its privileges.

Kenny B. said...

NL races kind of got dull here at the end, didn't they? ATL collapsed like a flan in a cupboard, and MIL is hanging on by an obnoxious gold thread. Even the order of the division leaders hasn't really changed in weeks.

The most interesting thing happening right now besides roster guessing and Zimmerman-newswatching is the AL Central and WC. DET, KC, OAK, and SEA are four teams fighting for three spots. I would love to see DET be the one that loses out, but I suspect they win the division, with KC/SEA fighting for the WC spot against the A's.

How about an AL analysis to pass the agonizing days until the playoffs start? Are the O's as for-real as their record shows? Are the Halos basically an unstoppable force destined to crush whoever the NL sends out there? Will Mike Trout ever wash that stupid gum-chewing grin off his face?

Wally said...

I'd vote for the chat room, but that looks to be in the minority.

Looking forward to seeing Gio as a super reliever early on.

Froggy said...

Does Lumley have a man-crush on Bryce Harper or what? Geezus... Harper, Harper, Harper! (Brady Bunch)

After sitting in my seats all year the last thing I'll be doing while I'm at the post-season games is checking Tweeder to tell me how the game is going!

But some more 'I'm pissed that my Yankees didn't even make the postseason I guess I'll settle for pessimistic, puppy kicking how we barely won post game analysis' would be good. (friendlr sarcasm). ;-)

Harper said...

Froggy - STILL TECHNICALLY ALIVE

Froggy said...

Ha! That's the spirit!

Strasburger said...

I didnt even know you tweeted - I don't really use my twitter account but I'll boot it up for that. Might not read though, I get over the top intense for the games and will hopefully be at most of them in person.

Nick said...

Live tweet! Between you and Steinberg, that'll be the in game analysis I want to read. I plan on going to every home game possible though. I'd rather see the games in person than have trivial things like money

Zimmerman11 said...

The flan in the cupboard was flattened by a big fist named the Nationals :)

They exorcised that demon at the end of the year and have been riding a high since... if they can do the same to STL in a division series, then Mystique and Aura will become Nats fans... and the team will be destined for the immortality taht only comes with multiple world series championships!!!

BxJaycobb said...

Harper: How incredibly stupid was Matt Williams to not pinch run when Zimm was on third the other night? It may well have cost the team the chance of starting him in the playoffs. the guy is straight up just too injured. end of story. especially after re-injuring the hamstring (see today's news).

A Fly Moses said...

Another vote for live tweeting (esp. road games)

Chaz R said...

I vote for LIVE TWEET Harper. I'll be at every game and I'm old, but I still will check my phone to see what you have to say.

Richard Parker said...

Another win by embarrassingly terrible Washington Nationals. Okay, just being a bit hyperbolic since Harper never suggested anything of the sort. But really, who has closed their season in a more impressive fashion than the Nats? And not just this season, but in past seasons? It's really not something to shrug off. You realize that if they win out (only 7 straight at this point) it equals 2012? Difficult? Sure. Impossible? Not on your life.

Anonymous said...

@JWLumley - no one can hit the ghost of Koufax. Believe me, aint no body that good.

Lurch said...

@JWL and Anon - Hitting Koufax's ghost should be impossible at this point. Andre Ethier did hit a line drive off of the real Koufax back in spring training. Fortunately Sandy only had some minor bleeding.

ocw5000 said...

Span pretty clearly "injured" himself after going 1-for-1 to get his BA up to .300 just to stick it to you, Harper

JWLumley said...

@Froggy You only think I have a man-crush on Harper because you haven't brought up Mike Trout. I do kind of have a thing for generational talent. At least the few I've been alive for (Bonds, Griffey and probably A-Rod). I played baseball for a long time and came to one stark conclusion: It's really hard. So, yeah, I'm kind of enamored with guys like Harper, Trout and Stanton because they're so good, so young.

Still, consider this: Clayton Kershaw, pretty much the best pitcher since Pedro--but not as good as Pedro--hadn't given up an RBI, let alone a homerun to any left handed hitters all year, Harper took him deep and it wasn't cheap either. Harper also took Wainwright deep, in the playoffs no less, took Venters in his prime deep, has taken Kimbrel deep and has got Matt Harvey in his book too. All before the ripe old age of 22. How is that not the very definition of a guy who can hit anyone? Harper has been a beast when healthy, his problems have way more to do with health than ability.

@Anon Everybody can get hit, even Koufax, even Gibson, even Maddux, and even Pedro, well, maybe not Pedro.

Zimmerman11 said...

@JW... Good stuff! Let's hope Harper goes full on BEAST MODE in the postseason. Talents like his seem to flourish on the biggest stages. Let's hope we get some of his best years before he departs for the NYY.

JWLumley said...

@Z11 I don't think Harper is going to New York, unless he has issues with ownership for one very simple reason: The Lerners have lost more money than the Steinbrenners have. Contracts like the one Harper will most likely get are made at the ownership level and the Nats have the richest owners in baseball. Now, it may ultimately be a bad contract that hurts the team, but if the Nats can get a fair-market TV deal by the time Harper hits free agency, there's almost no reason they'd let him go.

Donald said...

@JWLumley -- While the Lerners could no doubt win a bidding war over the Steinbrenners and can afford to sign him at almost any price, I get the sense that they aren't so emotional to actually do it. They seem to run the team like a business and if signing Harper means exceeding payroll or triggering the luxury tax, they might not go for it.

We'll see though. Winning a World Series would likely increase revenue, allowing payroll to expand, etc.

Froggy said...

@JW, I don't have a man-crush on Trout (yet) but he is clearly the better athlete, and ball player. Doesn't mean I don't love our Bryce but he has more developing to do in the outfield and being patient and taking what the game gives him instead of trying to crush the ball every swing.

To your point about him going to the Jankees, I don't think that happens either as the Lerners are not in this business to make money per se, as much as they are as a hobby and boasting rights amongst their bazzilionaire friends. 'Look at us, we OWN Harper, Strasburg, Zimmerman, and have two division titles in the last three seasons...yadda, yadda.'

...now if they could get Mike Trout for Harper...

Froggy said...

...and yes, the Lerners are in it to run a fiscally successful organization that pays for itself and what not. Washington, DC being the capital of the universe and all.

JWLumley said...

@Froggy First, let me say that up until now, Trout has been significantly better than Harper, but here's the problem with all of the Trout/Harper comparisons. It's not an either/or debate, it can be a both/and.

First, when you compare two things you always wind up diminishing one of them. They're both great, I love watching both of them play and think they will eventually be viewed in the same light as Mantle and Mays. Generational talents who were the face of baseball over more than a decade.

Second, Trout's main asset is speed. From a scouting perspective it may be the only 80 skill that Trout possesses on the 20/80 scale, which is no knock against Trout, since most players don't possess any 70 skills, let alone an 80. And most of Trout's other skills are in the 60-70 range, except his arm which is probably like a 40. Harper, on the other hand, has two 80 skills out of the 5 tools in both his arm and his power. Speed plays a lot better when you're younger and most power hitters take more time to develop and reach their peak. This isn't to say that Trout doesn't have power, but it's pretty widely accepted that the only two guys in baseball with legitimate 80 power is Stanton and Harper. The other thing is that neither of these guys exists in a vacuum. MLB goes through cyclical changes where scoring increases and limiting scoring decreases. This is why most Saber-metrically minded people will tell you that Pedro's peak seasons were much better than Kershaw's because of the environment he did it in. Right now, power is at a premium in the major leagues. There's probably only going to be 10 guys who hit over 30 dingers this year and probably only one will clear 40. It kind of feels like the late 80's all over again. This means that if Harper can stay healthy, he can match Stanton's power, which is at a premium. We're talking about two guys that can potentially hit over 50 homeruns a year in an environment where very few players can hit 30. So, while Trout has undoubtedly been the better player up until this point, I see a lot of reasons to suggest that won't necessarily continue. I also don't think you can make a blanket statement that either is "clearly" the better ballplayer before at least one of them turns 25. Too much can happen and neither guy is done developing.