Archive for the ‘Washington Nationals’ Category

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals

There was a time when Ryan Zimmerman was one of the best, up-and-coming third basemen in baseball. He hit the ground running his rookie year, posting above-average offensive numbers in his age-21 season. He improved offensively every year, though injury robbed him of some time in 2008. He responded with back-to-back superstar level seasons, asserting himself as one of the game’s premier third baseman.

His early production at the hot corner placed him among the best in baseball history across the first five years of his career.

Third Baseman by WAR (through age-25 season)

Rk Player WAR/pos Age PA HR BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Eddie Mathews 38.9 20-25 3807 222 .281 .388 .556 .943
2 Dick Allen 28.0 21-25 2580 112 .311 .387 .558 .945
3 George Brett 27.5 20-25 3114 51 .305 .351 .455 .807
4 Evan Longoria 27.4 22-25 2414 113 .274 .360 .515 .874
5 Ron Santo 27.0 20-25 3793 137 .278 .351 .471 .822
6 David Wright 26.1 21-25 3048 130 .309 .389 .533 .921
7 Ryan Zimmerman 24.4 20-25 3229 116 .288 .355 .484 .839
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/9/2014.

Unfortunately for Zimmerman, he toiled away for the perennially terrible Washington Nationals, the worst team in baseball in both 2008 and 2009. But Zimmerman was an island of greatness amid the fetid mess that eventually netted the Nats Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. He provided one rare highlight in those dark days, hitting a walkoff home run to end the first game in Nationals Park history.

Then the Nationals got good! They won the National League East division in 2012, their first playoff berth since moving to the nation’s capital. It would be Zim’s coming out party on a big stage!

Except shoulder injuries already started taking their toll on Zimmerman. After his left, non-throwing, shoulder cut him down in 2008, it was his throwing shoulder that dogged him in 2012. What has now been dubbed an “degenerative condition” in his throwing shoulder, the eventual migration of Zimmerman across the diamond is well under way.

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Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals

There was a time when the name Stephen Strasburg was on the lips of every baseball fan in America. He was the phenom, the first overall pick destined to become the next great ace. He burst onto the scene, striking out 14 Pirates in his big league debut. He was a force of nature until the elbow got’em. A year down after Tommy John, Strasburg returned in late 2011 to show us all what we missed.

2012 was to be Strasburg’s season. And, by and large, it was his season. He was one of the best starters in the National League that year, leading the Nationals to the postseason for the first time since their move to D.C. Together with Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, the Nats pitching staff mowed down the National League before losing an unfortunate five game series against St. Louis in October.

Of course, during their fateful collapse at the hands of the Cardinals, Stephen Strasburg was nowhere to be found. He was cooling his heels in the dugout, shutdown in mid-September as the team protected him against an oversized workload. It was for his own good and the future good of the team, we were told. They did their research, we were instructed (even though they kind of didn’t). They’ll be back, the Nats swore.

And maybe they will. Perhaps this year’s Nats squad will pick up where the 2012 club left off, learning from their 2013 disappointment to overcome a decision that looks worse and worse by the day.

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Those who have followed Zack Greinke‘s career know not to underestimate the power of his baseball mind. Greinke knows as much about what goes on in baseball, both on and off the field, more than almost any active player, and I would bet more than a good number of executives. And don’t just take my word for it — take Brewers general manager Doug Melvin’s. Greinke was a member of his draft war room in 2012, and one of the first things Greinke did as a member of the Dodgers was text GM Ned Coletti to congratulate him on the club’s first-round pick, Corey Seager — Greinke loved the high school third baseman’s talent.

Thanks to a no-trade clause included in his final contract as a member of the Kansas City Royals, Greinke’s baseball mind was allowed to play a pivotal role in the winter of 2010. That December, Greinke was dealt from the Royals to the Brewers (along with Yuniesky Betancourt) in exchange for shortstop Alcides Escobar, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress. It was a deal that helped the Brewers win their first and only National League Central division championship and reach the playoffs for just the second time since losing the 1982 World Series. But if not for the no-trade clause, Greinke would have been a Washington National, a move that would have radically changed the landscape of the National League.

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MLB: Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins

2013 has been nothing but a disappointment for the Washington Nationals. After all the bluster and hype, the team expected to dominate the National League saw their season end almost before it even began. Injuries, underperformance and regular old bad luck stopped the Nats in their tracks. In a move reeking of desperation, they fired their hitting coach at the end of July. The barn door closed just as the last of the horses disappeared from view.

Except that the Nationals are not dead yet. The second wildcard gives them new life and a glimmer of hope. A glimmer that would have been snuffed out long ago were it not for Jayson Werth.

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Even though it just opened its doors in 2008, Nats Park has seen its fair share of heartbreak, ugliness, and mishap. There is only so much #NATITUDE one ballpark can be expected to handle. Yesterday, the Nationals turned up the NATITUDE to unseen levels, allowing Stephen Strasburg to come back out for the seventh inning (!) having already thrown 100 pitches (!!!)

This didn’t sit well with the ghosts of Nats Park, who saw fit to do what they could to restore order to their domain. First, they wrecked havoc with the phone system, destroying the Diamondbacks ability to communicate with their bullpen. Later, they started the above fire in the light standard. CHAOS IN THE NATION’S CAPITAL!

“There was a minor technical malfunction in the lights above Section 226,” the team said in a statement. “All those in the vicinity were immediately evacuated and our facilities team is currently looking into what may have caused the problem.”

I suppose we can’t fault the Nats Park Ghosts for stepping in, trying to make things more exciting for the floundering club. Anything to get Nats fans noses out of their books is okay by me.

So here’s a thing nobody wants to read: Stephen Strasburg was evaluated for tightness in his forearm after tonight’s start against the Atlanta Braves, a game won 3-2 by the BARVES.

No need to rush to twitter doctor judgment but this is never something you want to hear about a guy like Strasburg. He hasn’t quite looked himself recently, with some wondering about his mechanics deserting him, causing an increase in walks.

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Florida Marlins v. Washington Nationals

Ryan Zimmerman has a wonky throwing arm. This we all but know. His shoulder was all but rebuilt this winter and now, despite protestations that he’s fine, his throwing continues to be a problem. He’s making errors and looks awful at third base.

Getting Blanked probed this issue earlier this month, wondering aloud how much more time Zim has at third base. The Nats mediasphere took to this problem this week, as his poor throws became the elephant in the room. It’s a complex problem with no easy solution. For most people.

Luckily, internet commenters of the world are not most people. This is an open and shut case, like just about everything in the world of the kind of person who takes time to comment on news articles on the website of major newspapers. These brave men and women are not lacking in ideas for how Zimmerman can get right. Let’s dive in and see if we can’t lick this thing, you know?

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