Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Memorial Day landscape

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Monday Quickie - Memorial Day landscape

Work, work, work. Too much work.

Here's a follow-up to the "two-weeks in" post.

NL East
Guess : Nats - Mets - Braves - Marlins - Phillies
Currently Nats - Mets - Braves - Marlins - Phillies

Nailed it. Of course technically the Mets and Braves are tied and for a bunch of the time between then and now Atlanta actually led, but I think things are evening out. The Mets have been crushed by injury, but much like the Nats of years past, at this point you have to say that's the gamble the Mets took coming into the year, rather than blame bad luck. They've managed to hang on though and assuming they can get healthy should separate from the Freeman-less Braves. With out Freddy the offense becomes as mediocre as the pitching and Atlanta looks headed to a 75 win season at best. Of course the bottom two NL East teams would love to get to 75 wins. The Marlins starting pitching is as bad as expected and the bullpen isn't as good as they hoped. They might though have a little run in them, at least to 70 wins. The Phillies though, God bless their little hearts, are heading straight to the bottom as they've seemingly gone 1 for 20 in prospects for 2017.

So by the end of the year the order might change but I think it'll only be a flip of ATL and MIA if it happens, and I'll say it doesn't. Nats - Mets - Braves - Marlins - Phillies


NL Central
Guess : Cubs - Brewers - Pirates - Reds - Cardinals
Currently : Brewers - Chicago - Cardinals - Reds - Pirates

The division is super tight (3.5 from top to bottom) so really the order is meaningless but hey - I didn't specify it had to be meaningful when I guess at it. The Pirates on the bottom is easy to explain - they lost their best hitter to suspension. They should struggle all year to get the offense to support a solid pen and good top of the rotation. The Reds second to last was the only spot I got right and it's not hard to be down on them. Even with a good pen and a surprising offense the starting pitching is so bad to keep the team down. Well the offense may not keep being surprising and bullpens are volatile so expect the Reds to keep sinking. The questions for the Top three are more about what is real or not.  How real are the Cubs offensive and pitching woes? My guess is not all that real - at least not real enough to keep them from winning the division again. They are only held back by these surprise disappointments. Is the Cardinal starting pitching good enough to last? My guess is yes - but that should probably just put them in a holding pattern a little over .500. Can Milwaukee's offense carry the team to the playoffs?  It's held on this far but I remained unconvinced.

I will give them some benefit of the doubt though as I like a team relying on bats rather than arms. Fragile, fragile, major league arms. I'll Go Cubs - Brewers- Cardinals - Pirates - Reds for EOY


NL West
Guess : Dodgers - D-backs - Giants - Rockies - Padres
Currently : Rockies - Dodgers - D-backs - Giants - Padres

Everyone ok with the Padres being the worst? Ok moving on. I was completely right the Dodgers would be fine. They might actually be the best team in the NL, putting records aside. (Either them or Nats).  And I was right to feel good about the D-backs. This is why when you build a team to be good and don't fill up on veterans, you can't give up after one bad year. Bad years happen. The Giants are surprise bad. The talk is about Bumgarner, but the reality is that the offense was full of "why are they hitting like that" guys that are no longer hitting like that. Pence being gone is just what makes a bad offense terrible. They should gain ground but not enough to compete for the playoffs and thus expect a sell-off of sorts. But the biggest question is the Rockies. The offense will always score a lot being in Colorado but it's not a bad line-up getting lucky. They have three good bats and only one bad one. And looking at it you can see potential rising and falling balancing out here. But the pitching. Can the Rockies really have the 5th best staff in the majors? There's a great back of the pen going on here lead by Greg Holland and the pitching staff is across the board... well ok. And for Colorado that's shocking.

I'll say the Dodgers catch them, they are just better but this feels like something real to me in Colorado. The question is only if the Dbacks are more real.  I like the D-backs so I'll go with them but it wouldn't shock me if both WCs come from West. Dodgers - D-backs - Rockies - Giants - Padres



Oh the fight?  I don't care about it. Strickland was a moron. Everyone knew it. Rather Bryce didn't go after him because I think that's nearly as silly and dangerous as throwing at someone. But I do understand it so I don't think anything of it. And the Nats are so comfortable right now a suspension is fine.  In fact given that we're at the beginning of a long stretch of games with little break, maybe this will help keep Bryce fresh so he can carry his more tired teammates down the path a little.

25 comments:

1natsfan said...

When a player or manager gets tossed, does the team or the player pay the fine? Who do they pay the fine to (does it go to charity)? Lastly, if a player is suspended by the league, is he suspended without pay? Does anyone know?

Ole PBN said...

Strickland is a moron, and apparently his teammates and manager feel the same way, judging from Bochy's post-game comments. I find it odd that Posey and the infield didnt even move until the first punch was thrown, as if to say "you dig your own grave Hunter." The Nats dugout was practically crossing the first base line when the Giants players made their first step towards the melee. Bryce shouldn't have thrown his helmet, but whatever.

P.S. - Can we talk about Glover? I'd like a slow-clap for Ole PBN for calling this kid's success last year.

Fries said...

I'm right there with Harper. Bryce really shouldn't have charged the mound. Curse as much as you want, glare at him, point your bat, etc, but it's so easy to get injured in the middle of a brawl, it's a dumb risk to take. I suspect we won't see Bryce until Saturday or Sunday.

But I do love the way Posey didn't even flinch. He knew what was coming once Strickland shook off like 3 pitches. I wouldn't be surprised if Posey told Harper after the fact that it was totally intentional (not that Bryce really needed to be told). Kid has always been a hothead, but holding a grudge for like 1000 days takes it to a new level of stubbornness.

sirc said...

Harper, I want to be excited, or at least feel good, about the way the pitching has looked over the past week. Glover and the pen have done great, and Tanner has 2 excellent starts in a row.

But...

Mariners, Padres, Giants.

Those are horrible offenses.

So, is there genuine cause to feel good, or should I be waiting for the Dodgers? Are there ways to tell that a pitcher's performance was actually good versus the result of facing poor hitters?

Harper said...

1natsfan - as I understand it it comes out of the players salary though I don't know if they pay directly or the team pays and then docks them. The fine goes to MLB which currently puts it in a general charity fund. Drug suspensions are without pay, I'm not sure fighting ones are.

Ole PBN / Fries - the way Buster reacted, not even slightest move, I wonder if Strickland told him before hand this is what he was going to do and he was all like "No one has your back if you do this"

Fries - yeah, I mean I get it but it should be ingrained in you to do nothing because last thing a team needs is a freak injury in one of these things.

sirc - you should feel good regardless. This is a coasting to the playoffs. As for the pen - and any problem or surprise positive - we should just wait it out. Where is it after ASB matters far far more than where it is now and where it is in mid September matters even more than that.

So I guess feel good - but don't clap your hands and say done! They have to crawl before they can walk and they are crawling now

Dusty's Toothpick said...

The crazy thing is I stopped the broadcast and rewound right before the fight even started because Bryce gave Strickland a little nod when he stepped into the box. I noticed that and rewound it because I thought it was so funny and then after I hit 'play' and.... thennnnn the fight happened. I think it is funny that everything is being so analyzed, but that little nod before the chaos ensued is being TOTALLY overlooked. Bryce maybe had that coming from the hothead that is Strickland, but I do think that head nod pissed him off. But, you can't hit people with 96mph cheese like that...GO BRYCE! I guarantee UFC has already reached out to Harper and his people. The whole thing sucks though, just play ball. What are you suppose to tell kids that look to Bryce as a role model and mimic his every move?

Flapjack said...

Yup, the team is fine. The bullpen is sorting it out. Maybe Blanton comes back from IR as the man he used to be. Zimm is not cooling off, which is wonderful. Murph is the same guy as last year. Rendon is showing his pedigree. Werth is not showing his age. Taylor has been a pleasant surprise. (Though if the surprise had come a year earlier, we wouldn't have needed Eaton.) Harp is an MVP contender, once again. The top three starters have come back from a few wobbly performances. Ross is a concern. And, well, Giolito no-hit the Chiefs, triggering a tinge of regret. First world problems.

Now can we talk about the fight? All the flailing around was a good thing, no doubt. But fight technique goes, this was as bad as it gets.


Anonymous said...

Dan Uggla hit a walk-off against the Braves (while still being paid by ATL) a few years ago. No regret from them, I can assure you. Giolito is a bust.

BxJaycobb said...

Dusty's Toothpick. I'm inclined to agree about wishing Harper wouldn't have charged mound. I do have to say though. NORMALLY I hate when former players say stuff like "oh if u haven't played baseball blah blah." But in the case of a hitters reaction when he is intentionally hit with 100......I just have to say I don't know how scary or painful that it. It could be that after that happens you just as Bryce said afterward "see red" and go into a semi shock physical and mental situation. I always wish Bryce would be less crazed than he is in some of these situations....some of it is personality. Zim is like the polar opposite....so comatose as to almost make you WANT more emotion......but look...he's a passionate player and honestly I love that aspect of him. It makes him fun to watch and electric. The fact is that adds something to Harper than say Robinson Cano or even Trout doesn't have in terms of pure entertainment. Yes. If I could pick I wish he wouldn't risk injury like that, but I don't feel like I can criticize somebody fro acting that way from my couch.

@sirc: yeah they're bad offenses, but the pen couldn't close games against bad offenses earlier in the year, so I'll take it.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was bush of Strickland to throw at Bryce for something that happened 3 years ago of course. And I think Bryce did the right thing by going after him. But if you are going to commit to duking it out have a plan. Throwing his helmet was a good distractor as it made Strickland flinch but it was a bit too early to be effective. Had he waited a couple seconds Bryce could have landed a nice crossing left and made his point better. As it turned out Bryce walked into a couple good right hand jabs before landing the overhead hammer fist across the bill of Strickland's cap and nose.

I just wonder whoes head hurts more today, Morse or Samardzija's. Sweet beejuzus that was some collision!

Anonymous said...

The plunking was definitely bush, but I wish Harper hadn't charged the mound. I understand why he did, though.

On another topic, about two weeks ago after his start in Pittsburgh, I wrote here expressing some concern about Strasburg. His K rate was way down, and I wondered whether moving to the stretch full time was affecting his stuff. Since then, Strasburg has gone 14 2/3 innings, given up 2 ER, struck out 26, and walked 2. He's now second to Sale in Fangraphs WAR for pitchers.

I will now take the opportunity to wonder aloud about Trea Turner. The BABIP is low for a fast guy (.279) but not insanely low. We knew his numbers from last year were high and that some regression to the mean was coming, but perhaps this is the new normal for him...

Fries said...

@11:02 Anon

While you're at it, you may want to mention that Ross looks like he belongs in the minors and Zimmerman's average is being propped up by seeing eye groundballs

blovy8 said...

Only trouble is who is playing OF when he's suspended? Bryce has to appeal just to avoid Lind or Difo playing out there, until Heisey can come back, and that's pretty sad.

BxJaycobb said...

@Anon, Fries:

It's not the new normal for him. But nor is his 2016 the normal. He is probably what we expected him to be based on projections and his minor league numbers. A .280-.300 hitter with blazing 50 SB speed, a problem with not walking as much as you would like, and pop. Frankly what I take away from his season so far for long term purposes is: (1) he's a better SS defender than I expected...above average at position by all metrics so far (see play in 9th IP last night) and (2) he really does have 15-20 HR pop, which is welcome news compared to our expectations of him.
@fries: I am absolutely super worried about Ross on the other hand. He looks hurt based on how his velocity dips drastically in games.

mike k said...

I agree that I'm not worried about Turner. As BX said, the main things I'm taking away from this year so far, are 1) he's not a .330 guy, ho hum, 2) his SS defense is better than I thought, and 3) the pop is real. I already knew he wasn't going to walk a lot (though I still had hopes) and I know he's not going to hit .250. I'm not worried about what I see this year at all.

I have nothing to add about Bryce that hasn't been said already. He looked silly when he threw the helmet. I wish he didn't charge because now he's going to miss games, but I'm not mad at him. Anyone catch those online pics of Zim and Harper compared to prom pics? Good stuff.

Alan Wiecking said...

4 and 6 games?!? I can't believe either of those. 2 and 8 would be more reasonable. Why wouldn't you throw at a star now, if you're a 1 inning back-bench RP?

Alan Wiecking said...

Do you hit Posey? or wait for Samardzija? One of them are going to get hit, I'm thinking. MLB doesn't dispense reasonable punishment, they are just asking for the "players to sort it out". Passing the buck.

Alan Wiecking said...

Of course, there's always the Frank Howard school of hitting every one of the first nine batters in the minors.....

Froggy said...

I think the whole hit by pitch thing should be handled like it is in hockey: let em fight it out on the field and then toss them both. Done.

There would be a lot less hitting batters intentionally if pitchers got their asses beat on the pitcher's mound.

Annia King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Froggy said...

Remember, these are grown men doing deliberate things. Everybody on the field (on both sides) knows when a pitcher is intentionally throwing at a batter. When a pitcher hits a battery unintentionally there is a code of conduct to convey such. All one has to do is watch what Poaey does to defend Strickland's actions...Which is nothing.

Richard Parker said...

@Annia. Wait until someone tries to throw a rock at you at 98 mph and see how calmly you'll react.

Richard Parker said...

@Annia. Maybe that's not the best analogy for a woman. What if you had a 12-year-old daughter and a guy threw a rock at her and hit her in the thigh? Would you stand and cry or would you try to beat him into the ground?

Josh Higham said...

Bryce's behavior is problematic as a role model, and in terms of potential scrum-related injuries, pretty stupid. But I hate beanball, and from that perspective I love how Bryce, the Nats, and the Giants handled the whole thing.

Bryce fought Strickland, showing that he is not willing to play along with the tired "right way" to do things that would have involved somebody plunking Buster. The Giants did not rush to Strickland's aid, and refused to defend him in postgame interviews. The Nats called Strickland out, and Bryce was candid about his decision making in the moment. Everyone but Strickland was transparent about what happened. Better yet, the suspensions/fines get handed down and everyone decides that's enough and plays a clean game. Bochy compliments the Nats on their class and reaffirms that Strickland was playing his own game yesterday.

It's not all positive of course. The Nats will have a hole in right for a few days. Bryce reminded everyone he's got a bad temper and if you get under his skin enough you might be able to get him ejected in a big moment. Morse is on the concussion DL after Samardzija destroyed him by accident.

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