Archive for the ‘trades’ Category
Monday, June 17th, 2013
The Washington Nationals beat themselves on Sunday, but they had help: Cleveland’s Corey Kluber wiggled out of numerous Nationals’ scoring opportunities, throwing eight innings of seven hit baseball, as the Indians went on to defeat Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals, 2-0.
The Nationals had a chance to score against Kluber early, in the fourth inning, when they had runners on first and third with one out; but Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond struck out to end the threat. In the sixth inning, the Nationals had runners on first and third with one out and also couldn’t score. The Nationals left 21 runners on base.
Give credit to Kluber. “I tell you what, that guy that threw for them today … the stuff that he had, that’s probably top-five stuff that we’ll see all year,” Jayson Werth said of the Indians’ pitcher. “He had some really good stuff. Especially when he had to make pitches, he even stepped it up a little bit.”
The game marked the return of starter Stephen Strasburg from the disabled list and he pitched well: he threw five complete innings and gave up a single hit, while striking out four. “He was a little bit rusty and didn’t have his command, but I thought he settled in pretty well,” skipper Davey Johnson said.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Anthony Rendon continued his hot hand on Sunday, with a 3-4 day. He’s been a spark for the Nationals since being recalled and is handling his chances well at second. Jayson Werth is also back in stride: he was 4-10 in Cleveland . . .
The Nationals pull into Philadelphia to face a Phillies’ team that is on the verge of deciding whether to sell, or hope for a seven or eight game winning streak. Doing that would put them back in contention for a Wild Card spot, but the Phillies have struggled all season . . .
Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
With one-third of the season now in the books, the Nationals on Tuesday made the decisions that many of their fans wanted, and many had predicted, sending relievers Henry Rodriguez and Zach Duke to the minors — and Danny Espinosa to the disabled list.
To fill their spots on the national league roster, the team recalled Anthony Rendon from Triple-A and brought reliever Ian Krol up from Double-A Harrisburg. The Nationals also activated Jayson Werth, whose bat they desperately need.
Espinosa is expected to rehab (both his shoulder and his wrist), before returning to the club. “He is a tough guy. He reminds me of myself,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He is playing with a bad shoulder, he is playing with a broken wrist. He needs the rest.”
But General Manager Mike Rizzo made it clear that it’s unlikely Nats fans will see Espinosa anytime soon. “We finally put Danny on the disabled list to clean up all the wrist questions that we had, and for him to rehab and then go down to the Minor Leagues, with a healthy wrist, go down there and work on the mental side of hitting,” he said.
Injury or not, the message is that Espinosa has played himself out of a job, and this morning’s Bleacher Report said that it’s time for Washington to “see what Rendon can do” at second base — adding that the Nats don’t have “a second baseeman on the stat list this season (Espinosa and Steve Lombardozzi) hitting above .231.”
An uncertain coda might well have followed these moves, as Washington continues its struggles. But just hours after announcing the team shake-up, the Nats responded by notching their first walk-off win of the year, a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over division rivals New York.
While the Washington victory didn’t result in a win for starter Jordan Zimmermann, it lifted the Nationals one game over .500 and made a hero of Steve Lombardozzi. Lombardozzi’s sacrifice fly in the 9th inning scored Adam LaRoche, after the Nationals loaded the bases on Mets’ reliever Bobby Parnell.
Monday, June 3rd, 2013
The Washington Nationals fell one game under .500 for the season after dropping a 6-3 decision to their division rivals, the Atlanta Braves. A combination of poor relief pitching and a (by now) predictable lack of hitting proved the be the Nats’ undoing.
The loss put the Nats’ 6.5 games behind the Braves in the National League East and was their third loss in their last four games. “We deserve to be where we’re at right now,” Nat’s first sacker Adam LaRoche said after the loss. “We’ve played like crap.”
As with most of their recent losses, the Nationals allowed their opponents to rally in the middle innings after a solid outing from their starting pitcher. Rookie Nathan Karns threw well enough through 4.2 innings, though he gave up home runs to Ramiro Pena and the struggling B.J. Upton.
But Atlanta pulled away from Washington in the 6th, when Zach Duke walked the lead-off and second batter. Duke looked like he might wiggle out of trouble after a nifty glove play by Ryan Zimmerman, but after intentionally walking Justin Upton, he gave up a double to Freddie Freeman.
After the loss, Nats’ skipper Davey Johnson said that the offense could get a lift after the return of rehabbing Jayson Werth, who should be with the team on Tuesday for the start of their series against the Mets. But Johnson knows that getting Werth back is only a part of the solution.
Thursday, May 30th, 2013
Ryan Zimmerman had a career night in Baltimore, hitting three home runs in three consecutive at bats — and notching four RBIs — but the Nationals were victimized by Orioles’ first baseman Chris Davis and a six run 7th inning, and the Nationals lost at Camden Yards, 9-6.
Zimmerman’s home runs came in the first, fourth and fifth innings, sending Baltimore starter Chris Tillman to the pines and staking the Nationals to a 6-2 lead. But in the 7th inning the Orioles leaped on Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals for six hits, including home runs by Steve Pearce and Davis.
The Baltimore victory showed just how lethal their line-up can be: while Davis could not equal Zimmerman’s home run total, he went 4-4 on the night and hit two round trippers of his own. His second, in the seventh inning off of reliever Tyler Clippard, put the game out of reach for the Nats.
“That one hurt,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of the loss, and noted that the Orioles victory came in a ballpark with a reputation as a launching pad for free swingers. “I thought Zim had pretty good stuff,” Johnson said, “but this ballpark can eat you alive.”
Indeed, the Ace of Auburndale’s “stuff” was effective for six innings, as Zimmermann seemed headed for his ninth win. But Zimmermann couldn’t make it out of the seventh, surrendering singles to Ryan Flaherty and Nate McLouth, a double to Manny Machado — and a Davis home run — before being relieved by Clippard.
“I look up, and we’re losing,” Zimmermann said after the loss, his third of the season. “Those guys give me six runs like that, I’ve got to do a better job and we should win this ballgame. It’s solely on me [with] this one.”
Despite the loss, the Nationals showed again that they’re capable of putting the ball in play. In addition to Zimmerman’s three home runs, Roger Bernadina also went long and the Nationals accumulated eight hits, with Zimmerman, Bernadina and Denard Span coming away with RBIs.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Ryan Zimmerman wasn’t the only National Leaguer hitting the long ball on Wednesday. Out in Chicago, back-up Cubs’ catcher Dioner Navarro hit three of his own, as the Cubs pummeled the White Sox, 9-3 . . .
Navarro had never hit more than one home run in a game, telling reporters after the win that he might have hit two in one game when he played Little League baseball. Navarro’s homers came in the 2nd, 4th and 7th innings and (unlike the Zimmerman home runs) each of them was pulled . . .
Saturday, May 25th, 2013
Out in north Arlington on Friday night cars slowed as drivers gawked at a scene that might have been four seasons old: a gaggle of young jersey clad Phillies fans headed for the Metro, and thence on to “Citizens Bank Park South,” as Nationals Stadium was once, back in 2010, rudely named.
Of course, a lot has happened in the intervening years to transform CBP South into enemy territory (at least for Phillies’ fans), not the least of which is that the Nationals no longer have a line-up that features the likes of Adam Kennedy, Christian Guzman and Nyjer Morgan.
Strangely, the same cannot be said of the Phillies — and therein lies Philadelphia’s problem. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins still patrol Philadelphia’s infield and Coles Hamels is still a major presence on the mound. But the Phillies are four, going on five, years older, and the years are catching up with them.
But then, don’t tell that to the Phillies. This week, Philadelphia General Manager Ruben Amaro said that the Phillies would not be “selling” come the trade deadline — but would be looking to strengthen themselves for a run at the post-season.
“I view us as a contender,” Amaro said with great bluster on Wednesday. “My job is to be a contender every year, whether or not the guys are old or young or whatever the case may be.”
He added: “And, yes, our core players are not getting any younger, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be productive and we can’t try to find players, either internally, develop them ourselves, or find them outside the organization to cover any deficiencies for things they may not be able to bring.”
In the game of “what he means when he says,” Amaro’s declamation is as clear as the eyes of a blue-eyed blond: the Fightin’ Phillies won’t be sellers come July because no one in baseball is dumb enough to buy what they have.
Aging? The Phillies are the 10th oldest team in the majors, and the oldest in the National League East, averaging just over 29 years per player. That’s not so bad, except that their core players are even older: Utley, Howard, and Rollins are all over 33, while newbie hot corner addition Michael Young is 36.
That’s a lot older than the Nationals, who are the youngest team in the N.L. East (except for the Braves), and the fifth youngest in all of baseball. Ironically, the oldest Nat is a former Phillie, Jayson Werth — who’s 34. Their core? Zimmerman, Desmond, Lombardozzi and Harper are 28, 27, 24, and 20. The ancient Adam LaRoche is 33.
Then too, while Amaro says that the team can still contend, a lot of Philadelphia fans disagree. The Phillies’ blogosphere is filled with talk of who should go and when, with Michael Young a prominent nominee to be shipped out come July, presumably for younger players (which, given Young’s age, shouldn’t be all that hard).
“Regardless of where the Phillies are in the standings in July, I think it’s time to face the reality that this is not a World Series caliber team,” Don McGettigan says over at Phillies Nation. “Being that they likely can’t win a championship with this current roster, it’s easy to see that it’s time for a complete overhaul.”
Friday, May 17th, 2013
Stephen Strasburg had his best outing of the year, throwing eight complete innings of three hit baseball, and the Washington Nationals won their first of a four game series in San Diego, 6-2.
Not only did Strasburg look unhittable, he pitched around difficulties that previously derailed him. In the fifth inning, with the bases loaded and one out (and after a throwing error by third sacker Ryan Zimmerman), Strasburg induced a ground out and then struck out Will Venable to hold San Diego to a single run.
The San Diego native pitched in front of a large number of friends and relatives — which seemed to spur him on. “It’s just another place for me, to be honest,” he told the press following the victory. “That’s my hometown, I’m an Aztec. I look forward to pitching any place in the big leagues. Now, it’s a dream come true.”
Strasburg’s win was only his second on the year, but he looked better than he has since Opening Day. Strasburg threw 117 pitches, 68 of them for strikes. This was the first time that Strasburg had pitched into the 8th inning in his MLB career.
“I thought he pitched a heck of a ballgame,” Nats’ skipper Davey Johnson said. “It was the first time he’s ever gone eight innings. It was a good homecoming for him. I liked it. I didn’t think he was as sharp as he usually is, but it was a good ballgame. It was nice to see some offense coming up to give him some run support.”
The Nationals punched out seven hits, but their scoring came on home runs from first sacker Adam LaRoche and the returning Bryce Harper — who hit his eleventh in the 7th inning. Harper’s shot was a monster: the ball traveled 431 feet to straight centerfield off of reliever Tyson Ross.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The Nats’ win came came against righthander Edinson Volquez, who has struggled on the mound this year. San Diego swapped Matt Latos to the Cincinnati Reds in December of 2011 for Volquez, who is 3-4 with a 5.55 ERA so far this year . . .
San Diego had high hopes for Volquez, but the Dominican fireballer has turned into more of an innings eater than an ace. He was 11-11 last year for the Padres in 182 innings. His best outing this year came at the end of April against Milwaukee, when he showed flashes of what he could be — throwing seven innings of five hit ball . . .
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
“It was a tough night, tough night,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Johnson said of Washington’s disappointing 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
Johnson’s words reflected not simply the team’s latest inability to score runs, but a rash of in-game injuries — to lefty starter Ross Detwiler (who left with back tightness after the third inning) and catcher Wilson Ramos, who reinjured his hamstring and left the game in the top of the 4th inning.
Wednesday night’s loss to the Dodgers left the Nationals at just two games over .500, and allowed Los Angeles to take the three game series. The problem for Washington (aside from the two injuries) continued to be the team’s inability to drive in runs: the Nats’ stroked nine hits in Wednesday’s loss, but left 16 runners on base.
For L.A., the big story of the night was the return of Zack Greinke, who took the mound after more than four weeks on the disabled list. Greinke pitched five complete innings in notching his second win on the season. “I thought my stuff was pretty good,” he said after the victory. “My stamina needs to grow a little bit, but that could be next start.”
While there’s no doubt that Greinke pitched well, the Nationals had several opportunities to knock him out of the game — but were unable to capitalize. Before leaving the game, Wilson Ramos got on base in both of his at-bats, but was left stranded his teammates. The only Washington score in the early going (and all night) came in a home run off the bat of Adam LaRoche, his fourth of the season.
The only piece of good news for the Nationals was the continued brilliant relief pitching of Craig Stammen who came in after Detwiler left the game and kept the Dodgers scoreless in three innings of work. Stammen has been the best pitcher in the Washington bullpen and lowered his ERA to 2.25 on the year.
The best chance to win the game for the Nationals came in the 8th inning, when the Nationals had runners on first and third with nobody out but weren’t able to push across a run. “We had the right guys up there,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if we are trying to do too much instead of just hitting the ball and putting it in play. I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It’s amazing but true — after losing two of three in L.A. (and after struggling at the plate), Washington is still only one game behind the Atlanta Braves in the surprisingly uncompetitive N.L East . . .
The reason? The Braves have a deplorable road record, going only 7-13 on their two ten game road trips this year. The losses have been keenly felt in Atlanta, particularly after the early 12-1 start. The Braves have only won ten of their last 27 games, and are 11-15 against teams better than .500 . . .