I like talking baseball. It’s what I do when I’m at the park. It’s what I do online. And it’s why I jumped at the chance to blog here when Frank and Susan made the terrible mistake of asking. Twitter is great for lots of things, but it’s not great for in-depth conversations. When the team was losing regularly, internet postings and comments were the only way lots of kept from going crazy. I can’t bear to flog the latest heartbreak, so here are some other things we can discuss:
No, not that one, the new one. I’ve got no problem with the Nats shutting down Taylor Jordan just like they did with Zimmermann and Strasburg. I bring it up only to point out that the negativity surrounding Strasburg’s innings limit has not changed the franchise’s priorities. Jordan’s Friday night start was his last but he’s done the job asked of him by filling in and holding his own. He’s certainly played himself into a rotation spot audition next spring as well. Strasburg’s numbers are better this year than last, just like Zimmermann. The Shutdown works and it will continue to work for Sammy Solis and Lucas Giolito, among others.
Establishing an unflinching dedication to Tommy John rehabilitation will only help the team as they continue to go after high-end pitchers with injury histories in the draft.
Unlike most years, a lot of major league talent will be coming back to town once the rosters expand. Mattheus, Moore, Espinosa, Marrero, Cedeno, Davis, Perez and Kobernus have all been on the MLB roster at different times this year and Corey Brown was called up last year. Zach Walters deserves a call-up after the power numbers he’s put up but he would require a 40-man roster spot being cleared by somebody else. Ryan Perry has gone back to relieving and could also be an option, but he too would need a 40-man spot first. These are not a bunch of fresh-faced kids looking for their first taste of the big leagues. These are guys who will be counted on to pitch in and help the team out in crucial situations. The bench has been a disaster this year but maybe there is power in numbers. Maybe the same can be said of the bullpen. Davey will have a lot more options to consider and more chances somebody gets hot. Let’s hope this bunch is improving their game since their demotions and is able to give the team much needed reinforcements.
The Race for the Postseason
Despite a short turnaround last week, things still don’t look good. The Braves and Reds are winning too, plus the Diamondbacks are still in the way. It’s going to take a couple long winning streaks to get back into this thing. Five games are great, but the Nats really needed do a 10-game streak, or at least go 12-1 or 13-2. Boz is great as summing up how a season plays out. He noticed that the teams that have great years go on a couple long winning streaks then basically play .500 the rest of the time.
The way I see it, the team needs one streak of +10 wins or a dozen or so games to get back in the conversation, then another similar streak to really make a run. That’s a lot to ask, but the starting pitching staff is capable of carrying the team as long as Dan Haren doesn’t turn back into a pumpkin. Harper turned it on down the stretch last year. He’ll need to do it again. Lefties have made adjustments to him and now it’s his turn to adjust back. So far he’s been a quick study so let’s hope he does it again. If the Nats can play well enough to put pressure on the teams ahead of them, anything can happen. Funny things happen in September, if you can get there.
The Next Manager
I wasn’t sure Davey was really done this spring training. I am now. At least in Washington. The way the Eckstein firing went down tells me Rizzo is ready to shake things up. Bo Porter ain’t coming back. Kirk Gibson seems like the typical opposite-from-the-last-guy candidate. Randy Knorr knows the system and has been at Davey’s side this year. I like the way he handled Soriano when Davey got tossed. There could also be the opportunity to get an existing manager. The Nats have the roster to win and enough pitching in the minors to seemingly sustain it. Maybe Girardi or Mattingly jump ship? I’d like to see Tony Beasley get a look too, but he’s more likely to end up as a coach. For now, I’d say Knorr would be the leader in my clubhouse.
Considering the play this season, I don’t really see the harm in letting Davey go now and seeing what Knorr can do with an on-the-job interview. It’s going to take something special for the Nats to get into the postseason, and if it hasn’t happened by now under lame-duck Davey then it ain’t happening. It’s not a great way to treat Davey after last year, but I think the team should do what’s best for the Nats, not what’s best for Davey. Knorr is Davey’s guy anyway, so it helps him get an opportunity to show he can be the guy to take the team forward. At this point in the standings, why the hell not?
I was wrong about “Take On Me”. I thought it could be a new tradition that would hearken back to the magical 2012 season, filling us all with joy and glee for decades to come. It doesn’t. It only reminds us what last year had that this year lacks – winning. Like Teddy winning, some things should be left alone. Frank was right. I was wrong. Edit: I really gave singing it a try, and I enjoy it as much as I can…but it is just weird.
Sorry. Me Too.