Archive for the ‘Brad Peacock’ Category

How The Nats Got Mark Buehrle Right — By Accident

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

When Davey Johnson looks out on the mound tonight in Miami, he’ll see a southpaw pitcher who was a Nationals might-have-been — and he’ll breath a sigh of relief. We forget: back in November of last year, Nationals G.M. Mike Rizzo made it clear that then-White Sox starter Mark Buehrle was his number one free agent target — a lefty veteran that could shore up his team’s young pitching staff.

Rizzo made this clear to Buehrle himself, when he visited him at his home in St. Louis in November of last year. That meeting followed one with Buehrle’s agents, at CAA, just weeks before — a confab held to find out just how much the Chicago veteran would cost. Signing Buehrle seemed like a great idea: the Nationals staff was then comprised of Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan and an untested Brad Peacock. It wasn’t nearly enough.

“Buehrle, a consistent and durable veteran who has thrown more than 200 innings for all 11 years of his career, spent entirely with the Chicago White Sox, perfectly fits Rizzo’s description of the kind of pitcher the Nationals hope to add to the top of their rotation this winter,” Washington Post reporter Adam Kilgore said on the day of Rizzo’s visit to Buehrle.

By all accounts, that meeting went well. Buehrle was interested in the Nationals — and they were definitely interested in him. The only difficulty was that he was asking for a lot of money. He thought he was worth it: he was just 32, had notched a workmanlike 3.59 ERA with the Pale Hose in 2011 and had won his third consecutive Gold Glove.

The Nationals made a good offer but, as it turned out, it wasn’t good enough. Just two weeks after talking to Rizzo, Buehrle opted to sign with the Miami Marlins, who’d offered him more money, and a chance to pitch for Ozzie Guillen, his old manager in Chicago. “The Nationals’ best offer, made Wednesday morning, fell short of what the Marlins offered in duration and salary per season,” Kilgore explained on December 7 — and he went on to speculate that Rizzo & Company would focus on a secondary target: Roy Oswalt.

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The Price For Gio

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

It’s probably just a coincidence, but on the day that Tom Boswell pummeled the Lerners and Mike Rizzo for refusing to spend money (or take chances), the team pulled off a major trade with the Oakland A’s. Maybe Mikey was feeling the heat. Maybe not. Either way, the deal brings uber-talented lefty Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals to head up what is now one of baseball’s best rotations, but ships out four talented prospects, including Brad Peacock, whose as close to a “can’t miss” as the Nationals have. So: was it worth it?

Amanda Comack over at the Washington Times says that Gonzalez “fits precisely what Washington wants,” and gives the team a top-of-the-rotation innings eater. Comack points out that Gonzalez’s numbers translate well into the National League, though he walks a lot of hitters (91, to lead the AL last year). John Heyman over at Baseball Insider gives the Nats an attaboy, saying the team improved its rotation to the point where it may be a contender. Keith Law, meanwhile, says he’s not that impressed with Gonzalez (you have to wonder why, but it’s Keith Law), while Buster “Blind Dog” Olney (who actually sometimes finds a bone) says that Gonzalez reminds him of Twinkies starter Brad Radke — which is to say that Buster doesn’t know what to think.

We prefer to issue our judgments over a glass of scotch, which is where (last night) we received this opinion from one of the team’s season ticket holders. “The price is high,” this fan said, “maybe too high.” The fan then pointed out that “Rizzo would not have done this had he landed [Mark] Buehrle.” True. Which is not only to point out that scotch is a powerful truth serum (not always a good thing, mind you), but to suggest that if Rizzo & Company had bid higher for the former Pale Hose veteran, the team would not only have a front-of-the-rotation arm that is (arguably) better than Gonzalez, but they would have been able to hang on to both Peacock and Milone — whose arms will now be tested in the cavernous confines of the Oakland Coliseum.

Sometimes the most obvious conclusions are the ones you stick with — that Boswell’s criticism remains on target precisely because when Rizzo couldn’t pony up the bucks for Buehrle he had no choice but to part with four prospects for a front line pitcher. Gonzalez is a great addition and we applaud it, but spending the money on Buehrle and hanging on to Peacock, Milone, Norris and Cole would have been the wiser move. Yeah. True. But we’ll take it and hope that the Lerners are so irritated by what Boswell wrote that they’ll be determined to prove him wrong.

The Nats Sweep The Ponies

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

An early morning email to CFG seemed to say it all: “What a series. It makes me proud to be a Nats fan.” Indeed, Nationals fans have a right to be buoyant after sweeping a four game series from the Phillies. And in Philadelphia. Phillies fans felt the disappointment after dropping their sixth loss in a row (by a score of 6-1) — when it became clear that the Nats were on their way to a victory, they streamed from “the Bank,” issuing boos to their team.

“Our pitching is great. Our defense is great and we have timely hitting,” the Nationals Michale Morse said following the victory. “We had a lot of big hits. We had timely hitting this whole series. It shows you that we could play. We could be a big contender in this division coming up.”

The story of the game, once again, was what was happening to the resurgent Nationals on the mound. Indeed, the Nationals were only able to bang out seven hits against an effective Roy Oswalt. But it was Nationals’ pitching that won the game: rookie auditioner Brad Peacock threw 5.2 innings of one hit baseball — an extraordinary performance from a former Triple-A star who is now in the running as a potential fourth (or even third) starter in 2012.

“I had a lot of good pitches tonight,” Peacock said following his outing. “Everything was working. I just let them put the ball in play. My defense was great tonight. [Catcher Jesus Flores] called a great game. That’s all you can ask for. I didn’t shake him off one time — not once — because I trust him back there.”

The victory was not only the culmination of a four game series: it marked the tenth victory for the Nationals in eighteen meetings between the teams this year. And while the Phillies said they weren’t panicking, they were clear disturbed by the reaction of their fans.

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Curb Your Enthusiasm . . .

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

. . . because, while the Nationals keep winning in Philly, they still have seven games to play and, no matter what they do, will finish no better than third. We’re not just being killjoys: while it’s wonderful to see our Anacostia Nine play so well (especially at “Nats Park North”), there are some among us who (in the middle of the 7th inning last night — and then again in the 8th) stood up and screamed — “that’s just great, but where were you in June?”

The answer oughta be obvious: trying to find a pitching staff. That the Nats have now won consistently, when it counts the least, is evidence that (finally), that seems to have been done. John Lannan didn’t pitch brilliantly last night, but he fought hard and well (he’s not the same pitcher we saw last year), and a whole handful of other arms have now emerged: Milone and Peacock, and Wang and Detwiler — not to mention Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg (and, just maybe, Livan Hernandez). And those are just the starters.

Then too, the bats have nearly ended their slumber: the Nationals pounded out ten hits last night, which included home runs from Danny Espinosa (his 21st, setting a Nationals rookie record), and the vastly underrated Wilson Ramos (who hit his 14th, which is none too shabby). More importantly, the Nats shook off their disturbing habit of serving tea to men on base — eight were left on base last night, but that number is going down, and they’ve damned near returned to the league mean.

As important (we think) is that the Nationals are now 9-8 against their in-division rivals — with the bonus that Nats fans have started to stream north. That an indication (perhaps), that Nats fans are anticipating what might (might) happen next year. “It’s a fun time,” Danny Espinosa said of his visit to the not-so-friendly confines of The Bank. “It’s a fun game to play against them. I want to play them hard because I know we can beat them. We are showing that. For myself, personally, I enjoy playing against the team.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: We’ve decided to change the description of the New York Mets — they’re no longer “the chokes.” That description more aptly fits the Atlanta Braves, who barely showed up to play the Marlins last night in Miami, and lost to the stinking Fish. It wasn’t even close. Now they know how it feels. The Braves now lead the Cardinals (who woulda thought — and certainly not us), by a single game and some spit. The Cardinals surprised everyone (including their own fans) and rallied to beat the Mets in St. Louis, 6-5 . . .

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Peacock Struts His Stuff

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Washington Nationals rookie Brad Peacock pitched five complete innings, shutting down the New York Mets — and giving the Nationals a 2-0 shutout win (their fourth victory in a row) at Citi Field in New York. Peacock, one of a passel of arms in Washington’s pitching-heavy farm system, threw 94 pitches, 61 of them for strikes in his first start, and his first win, in the major leagues.

“To tell you the truth, I thought I was going to be nervous, but just like my last outing, once I made that first pitch, I was fine,” Peacock said, following the victory. “I made sure I took deep breaths out there. I settled in nicely.” Nats’s skipper Davey Johnson praised the young righty’s approach. “I was real impressed,” Johnson said. “He showed a lot of poise. He didn’t get flustered.”

The Nationals scored their only runs of the game in the top of the 3rd inning on a fielding error from David Wright. With Ian Desmond on first, Ryan Zimmerman was given a free pass, after which Michael Morse and Jayson Werth singled. Desmond and Zimmerman scored in the inning. That was all that Washington would need.

The Washington bullpen was again impressive. Former starter Tom Gorzelanny shut down the Mets in two complete innings, Tyler Clippard registered his 34th hold, and Drew Storen came on in the ninth inning to notch his 37th save. Gorzelanny was particularly effective, and has been so over the last ten games, lowering his ERA from 4.50 to 4.13.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Peacock throws a knuckle curve, though it’s reportedly more of a “spike” curve of the type thrown by Cliff Lee and Dan Haren, than a knuckling curveball that was used by Mike Mussina. But Peacock throws it more regularly than either Lee or Haren. The knuckle curve creator (though there is strong disagreement on this point), was Chicago’s Burt Hooton, back in the early 1970s . . .

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