Archive for the ‘Washington Nationals’ Category

They added a closer. They added a center fielder. They re-signed their first baseman. They strengthened their rotation, both now and in the future.

The Washington Nationals prepare to enter the 2013 season as the best team in baseball. But they still face the toughest decision of this or any offseason: who gets to join the Nationals Ballpark Presidential Race?

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91 – 89 – 94. The Atlanta Braves win totals over the last three years. For their trouble, the Atlanta Braves received zero National League East division titles in that time, even though just four teams have more wins in that time.

Last year, the Braves won 94 games but finished second to the Washington Nationals, who won 98. Then the Nationals acquired Denard Span, Dan Haren, and Rafael Soriano. They re-signed Adam LaRoche and traded away Mike Morse. The 98 win team got better, not matter how much regression you forecast for Ian Desmond and Gio Gonzalez.

The Barves lost OLE CHOPPER JONES to retirement but swapped Michael Bourn for B.J. Upton, signing the latter as a free agent but losing the former to the siren song of the open market. They were treading water, still stinging from their experience as the first casualty of the new Wild Card system.

The Braves needed to answer – not just now but for the future. The Atlanta Braves trade two non-insignificant pieces in Randall Delgado and Martin Prado for Justin Upton, a move which does plenty to address both “now” and “future.” There are other pieces — a platoon third baseman for the Braves, three prospects of a fringey nature to the Diamondbacks — but this deal is about Arizona giving up on Upton and Atlanta building an incredible outfield.

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The news trickled out earlier this afternoon but now the news hose opened all the way up, blasting reports of Rafael Soriano nearing a two-year deal with the Washington Nationals. A move that is surprising to say the least. If you really think about, the move is actually shocking.

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Well well. After much dancing and playing hard to get and foreplay and heavy petting and trepidation, it appears the Washington Nationals and Adam LaRoche will indeed go all the way. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports the Nats and LaRoche agree to a two-year deal worth $24 million with a mutual option for 2015 and $2 Mil buyout.

The first baseman comes off a strong season in DC, one in which he hit 33 home runs and posted a .361 wOBA in his age 33 season. It will be interesting to see if what kind of options might attach a third year to this deal. LaRoche and his camp wanted it bad, hard to envision them simply walking away from any type of carrot for an extra guaranteed year.

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Dan Haren throwing underhand to ease the pain on his broken body

So much for Dan Haren as cheap low-risk investment. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the Washington Nationals have a one-year, $13 million deal in place for the right-handed starter, pending a physical.

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Well hey! The Nationals address their hole in centerfield with Denard Span and the Twins get a strong young pitching prospect with legitimate upside in Alex Meyer, who is also enormous.

Not only do the Nats add a solid centerfielder, it also helps them all over the diamond at a reasonable cost. Slotting Span and his very affordable contract (under $11 million for the next two years, plus an option for a third at $9M) allows Washington to move Bryce Harper to left field and Michael Morse to first base, meaning Adam LaRoche is no longer in their plans.

Considering the huge contract B.J. Upton signed yesterday, this looks like a great move for a team looking to take another step closer to the World Series.

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There were a whole pile of words written here before. They explained how well the collective bullpens pitched over five games. They detailed how none of the starters really brought their best stuff in this series but the bullpens picked up the slack. How the offenses worked in fits and starts and the Nats managed to squeak out two surprising one-run victories.

Some of the words were written tentatively about the Nationals ability to overcome a very tough Cardinals team. About how the Nats jumped out to a big lead over the defending World Series champions and, after some bending but not breaking by the bullpen, the Nats moved on to the League Championship Series.

All the those words are gone now. They disappeared into the re-write ether. In their place is bewilderment. Amazement over witnessing something for which there are no words. There is only shock.

Down to their last strike…five times. Fighting back to within a single run then coughing up a seemingly crucial insurance run…only to score four times with two outs in their final at bats.

The St. Louis Cardinals are the defending World Series champions. They lost their best player and their head genius. They are still moving on to the LCS. Unstoppable, it seems. The Giants await the Cardinals, a fate I’m sure the West champs do not relish. When not getting huge home runs from Daniel Descalso or game-winning ribbies from noted sociopath Pete Kozma, the Cardinals turn to (arguably) the greatest post season performer probably ever.

Carlos Beltran is not the story but he cannot NOT be the story. Carlos Beltran came to the plate five times during Game Five of the NLDS. He safely reached base five times. He walked twice and started the final rally with a ringing double in the ninth, his second two-base hit of the night.

The Nationals tend to the broken hearts of their fans and press corps. The time required to process the unlikelihood of winning 98 regular season games then leading 6-0 in an elimination game then scratching across an insurance run then being one appealed check swing away cannot be measured in hours or weeks. The resulting fatalistic streaks are sure to run deep and permit a creeping suspicion of anything that even smells like success for an indeterminate amount of time.

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