Talking Points #5: #Wedgegate, Four Outta Six and Improved Depth.

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Don’t like baseball? Don’t feel like you know very much about it? Don’t think that should stop you from sounding like you do? Nats101 presents Talking Points, a weekly series designed to take advantage of the BSing nature of Washington D.C., and make you sound like a seamhead on your very first try. (And maybe learn ya some baseball while we’re at it).

Look – I hated that call, but Justin Upton wasn’t being lazy, he was playing a gamble that paid off. If you want to be mad at anyone, be mad at the Umpires. 

  • Hopefully you made it to Opening Day and had some fun despite the 2-1 loss to the Braves. The play of the day was Ian Desmond’s inside the park home run turned ground rule double that had to do with the picture above. It drew great ire from the home crowd, as it should have. Still why just sound like everyone else?
  • Federal Baseball did a great write-up of what happened and how the rule 7.05(f) affected the play. Credit where credit is due, you should read their article.
  • Upton, as an MLB outfielder, knows that if a ball is “lodged” he can raise his hands and the play is dead. He had nothing to lose as Desmond is a fast runner and this hit was at least a triple. If he indicates he can’t get the ball he’s going to put it into the mind of the umpires that the play should be ended. It paid off
  • The problem, of course, is that the ball was easily picked up and tossed in after Upton indicated the ball was lodged. In the picture above you can see is not lodged under the padding. it must have rolled forward enough that it wasn’t “under” the padding.
  • As such, in your talking points, you can take pains to say that Justin Upton made a smart, if dirty, play. The history of baseball is built upon plays like that. Save your ire for the umpires who didn’t make a quick call on the field nor got it right in review.

Forget how they got there, if I told you on March 30 the Nats would be 4-2 after 6 games you’d be pretty happy about it. 

  • The common wisdom in baseball is to “win the series at home and split on the road.” Given the usual three game structure of a series, winning 2 and losing one at home is okay. If you have two road series (6 games) winning 3 of those 6 is really good.
  • Expectations can get a little pumped up after a 3 games sweep of the lowly Mets. It’s also pretty easy to get deflated after the Nats drop two out of three to the not so lowly Atlanta Braves at home.
  • But that’s baseball. It doesn’t come in actual neat little 3 game packages. Yes, 3-0 is great opportunity to shoot for 5-1 with a home series, but if you fall short that’s what the extra win in New York gets you. Winning two-thirds of your games will get you 108 games. (That’s a ton of wins).
  • The Nats will play 15 more games against the Braves and Mets each. They won’t lose each series to the Braves, and I’d be surprised if they won each series against the Mets. Going 12-6 against either team ought to be considered the outer limits of “great job.” Anything less than that can still be really good, including 10-8 or even 9-9 against the Braves.

The Nationals need some of the guys to come back healthy, but at least they are in a much better position than last year to absorb some of the injuries. 

  • Sunday featured the sixth different line-up in six games for the Washington Nationals. While some of that is juggling by Matt Williams, a chunk of that is injury. The big blow was to Wilson Ramos in game one who’ll be out 5 weeks. After that though, the Nats have had a series of smaller injuries take their toll.
  • Ryan Zimmerman has a sore shoulder (though no structural damage). Scott Hairston hurt himself in batting practice and is on the 15-day DL. Oh and Doug Fister, of course, hasn’t started the season yet.
  • The good news is flash forward to Sunday: On top of no Hairston, Ramos and  Zimmerman, the Nats gave Denard Span and Bryce Harper the day off. Instead of Kurt Suzuki, Chad Tracey, Roger Bernadina, Steve Lombardozzi and… gosh…I don’t even know, Tyler Moore?, the Nats have a solidly deep bench that didn’t really flinch on Sunday. Sure, Danny Espinosa, Jose Lobaton, Nate McLouth, Kevin Frandsen and… well….okay, still Tyler Moore is a serious step up.
  • Sunday’s lineup isn’t built to win a lot of games, but they are built to be competent in games occasionally (and even more effective when all five of them are not in at once). With the news that some of these injuries are already looking better (and that some guys were just pulled for rest), the Nats ought to be in a much better position to weather short term injury bugs.
  • Particularly if Zim misses a few days. His bat is a big loss, but the flexibility to move Rendon to third and put Espinosa at second is a huge help…as long as that stays short term for now.

 Did you read David Huzzard’s piece on MASN? I mean, I usually read him on Citizens of Natstown too, but his post on the myth of the 25 man roster was very insightful. 

  • Dave Huzzard is a smart damned baseball dude. The only thing new followers need to be aware of is that sometimes he’s sarcastic with no remorse…as in he won’t clue you in that he’s being sarcastic, he’ll just let you hang there. (I can almost see his “I am never sarcastic” tweet right now).
  • He writes for the Citizens of Natstown blog, a network that we are happy to say we got our start under three years ago. He’s such a good blogger though that he also writes for MASN-the official TV Network for the Washington Nationals.
  • He wrote a very clever piece outlining the myth that who makes the 25 man roster out of spring training is particularly important in the long run of a full season. You should read the article, and you should follow Dave if you’re not already.

Cliff Notes: Angsty April Edition

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Anthony Rendon called up on Sunday is now 2-15 with 5 strikeouts.

No Review-Preview this time around gang I’m not sure I can bring myself to do one.  Okay, the Nats got swept by the Cardinals, but strangely looked better (on the pitching and defense anyway) doing it.  The Cards have great pitchers and great bats.  The Reds are coming into town and they have good pitching and great bats.  The Nats could have all, or none, of any of those at any given time because it’s only April and no one knows what the heck is going on.

Okay that’s your review-preview.  On to the Cliff Notes:

  • Dave Huzzard knows a ton about baseball.  When he writes up stuff for MASN as a guest blogger, it’s top notch stuff.  This week he put in crystal clear terms why you the Espinosa/Lombardozzi debate at second base isn’t even a debate.  Basically, I’m with Dave the right thinking people can’t honestly compare the two.  (Also, I need to figure out how to get one of these guest blogging gigs).
  • Matt’s Bats watched BP from the field, and basically everyone you’d want to come say hi came and said hi.  I do not wear my jealousy well, particularly when it is directed at an 8 year old.
  • From the Sports Bog: Henry Rodriguez throws a ball into the President’s Club.  To be fair it took the long way round, and he’s actually been a much better pitcher so far this year.  Also “Full Monkey-Tilt” might be the early candidate  for this year’s “Clown Question Bro.”
  • Lastly, Nationals Prospects is a blog I’ve been reading more of lately.  This weekend they ran a story about the call up of Anthony Rendon which included some skepticism regarding the timing of the call-up. Being a high level top prospect is a tough job on a call up, especially when a chunk of the fan base expects you to fix things as soon as you get to the show.  Couple that with the fact he’s following two “once in a decade” type of players like Harper and Strasburg, and well…expectations can be outsized very quickly.  (and yeah, lying to reporters-while part of the gig-is still cruddy).