In preparation for the Nationals upcoming series against the Mets, The Nats Blog did a cross interview with one of the top baseball blogs on the internet, MetsBlog.com. MetsBlog, founded by Matt Cerrone, truly has been a leader in the development of sports blogging, and has really elevated itself into something special. Here is what Mike Nichols from MetsBlog had to say about the state of their team.
The Nats Blog: Jose Reyes is such a spark plug and a key to the Mets line up, what’s the latest on his injury and when do you expect him to be back in full ‘Jose Reyes’ form?
MetsBlog: As I write this it was announced Jose Reyes has a slight tear in his right hamstring and from all reports will not be back until late July. Will Reyes come back in July? I'll believe it when I see it. The Mets medical staff has done a poor job managing injuries this season.
Sitting the game tonight, I was finally able to pinpoint something that has bothered me for a long time.
The Washington Nationals, in an effort to build a fan base, have tried overwhelmingly hard to create a tradition out of nothing. It was a marketing scheme from the beginning. The Nats knew that baseball was a game of tradition and they were very open about creating ‘landmarks’ and of their attempts to build traditions before, during, and after games.
The problem is all these bells and whistles don’t come off as genuine, as they are not. Too often the Nationals attempt at tradition building just turns into a phony, annoying, and possibly even fan-deterring nuisance.
You see, the thing about tradition is that it’s true. It’s true because its built through time on something that is lasting that people enjoy. Simply put, you can’t manufacture tradition.
The best traditions come out of nowhere. They are things that catch on over time that eventually we come to embrace. Anything else is fake; it’s Disney. It’s unappreciated by the true baseball fans, and unappealing to the rent-a-fans.
Between male model Clint’s annoying Nat Pack and the random fan at the start of the game proclaiming ‘Washington Nationals Play Ball,’ I’ve had enough. No matter how hard the front office try’s it will not be the same as guest celebrity’s singing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game at Wrigley,’ or blasting Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York New York,’ over the loudspeakers at Yankee stadium.
So please Nationals, stop trying so hard to create ‘Nats Town’ and just play baseball. After all, the best way to build a tradition, is to build a winning one.
Here are some of the traditions at Nats park which we DO love:
The Washington Nationals Center Field Entrance
Coming out the Metro and walking through that alleyway, surrounded by Nationals fans might be a better experience than even the game. There’s something about emerging from underground, taking a left out of the station, and seeing nothing but red white and blue, and that glowing Nationals Park sign above everyone’s head. There’s always something entertaining on the way to the stadium, whether it is a street performer or a random guy with an Owl. Now The Bullpen is installed and soon more restaurants and bars will join it to only build the atmosphere.
The Presidents Race
You may be saying, isn’t this the very fake thing you were just speaking out against? Well it started that way, but the Presidents Race has taken a form of its own. Maybe it’s because of the lovable loser Teddy, or the various mischievous antics our former Presidents take part in, but there is something genuine and lovable about this race. Maybe as Nationals fans we identify with Teddy, but for whatever reason this race has gone from a carbon copy of the race in Milwaukee to something genuine and unique.
The Veteran Salute
Every Nationals home game the PA Announcer draws attention to several military veterans who have recently been released from Walter Reed Memorial War Hospital. These service men and women have been given seats in the Presidents Club and are hopefully enjoying a much deserved reward for their service. It’s truly moving to see as these men and women get a legitimate standing ovation from the fans time after time who truly appreciate their service. It’s only a shame that every man and woman who serves does not get the standing ovation of an entire stadium, because they deserve it. The reasons this tradition works is because while it is initiated by the ball club, the reaction can not be falsified. The appreciation for the veterans is true, and so is the tradition.no comments
Off topic? Yes. But still funny.
Lebron James refused to shake Dwight Howard's hand after losing to him in the playoffs, but here we see the man himself shake hands after a crushing defeat.
Earlier this week we spoke about the possibility of the Nationals taking Chad Jenkins with their 10th overall pick.
We promised a more in depth scouting report, so here it is:
Chad Jenkins is a Georgia grown pitcher with a head on his shoulders and a cannon on his arm. Graduating in the top five percent of his high school class at Cherokee High School, he was named the Cherokee County Player of the Year and was named as one of Georgia’s top 50 prep prospects.
Jenkins enjoyed success his freshman and sophomore years at Kennesaw State. His freshman year he posted a 2-3 record with a 4.02 ERA while working mainly out of the bullpen. In 40 innings pitched he struck out 44, walked 20 and allowed 45 hits.
His sophomore year he made the move from the bullpen to the rotation, recording a 5-5 record with a 3.96 ERA. In 88.2 innings he had 78 strikeouts, but only surrendered 13 walks and 91 hits.
His Junior year however saw Jenkins true transformation from a gifted but unmolded pitcher into a true first round prospect. This season he has posted an 8-1 record with a 2.5 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 92 innings, earning the Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year Award. He was also just recently named to be third team All American.
Entering 2009 Jenkins was the number two starter for Kennesaw state behind top prospect Kyle Heckathorn, however through the course of the spring Jenkins has out dazzled and out performed his teammate and has passed him on most team’s draft boards. He is considered not too far off from the Majors and a workhorse who could contribute to a rotation as early as the middle of 2010.
Scouts say Jenkinns constantly throws his fastball, which he splits between two and four seams, in the 90-94 range. He uses the four-seamer to paint the corners and a hard heavy two-seamer, with late sink, to induce lots of groundballs.
His plus changeup is considered a major league out pitch, which is consistently thrown in the 80 MPH range with a good amount of sinking action. He supplements his trailing fastball and change with a sharp breaking slider, which is also considered an out pitch.
The biggest downside to Jenkins is that his track record is short, and his competition level is rather low pitching in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
His projectable’ s however offset his lack of a consistent past. At 6 foot 4, 235 pounds, Jenkins looks to be a career workhorse in the mold of a Scott Ericson or a Cuck Nagy. He certainly could be an excellent compliment to Steven Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.
The Nats Blog currently has an article featured on the front page of CBS Sport’s website. To see it go to CBSsports.com, it is underneath the three pictures of Randy Johnson, the link is titled “B/R Tip your cap.”
The link goes to a Nats Blog story that was published on BleacherReport.com
This is a huge deal for The Nats Blog as it is our first recognition from a mainstream news source. So check it out, and continue to come back here for all your Nationals news.
Thanks for reading!
-Will Yoderno comments
There has been some discussion as to whether or not Randy St. Claire deserved to be fired. I decided to do some research to figure out just how effective St. Claire was during his time in Washington.
It is obvious that 2009 has been an awful pitching performance by the entire Nationals club. They have the worst ERA in the National League at 5.69, they’ve allowed more runs than anyone else at 308, and the bullpen has been awful, blowing 12 saves less than a third of the way through the season.
It is also obvious that the Nationals front office utterly failed planning this season, and no coach was put in a position to succeed.
Some say the fact that the Nationals ERA has ranked near the bottom of the Major Leagues since 2005 is an indictment to the performance of St. Claire, while others argue that it is more an indictment of the people hiring the pitchers.
I decided to look into this and wanted to see if St. Claire helped his pitchers overachieve, not succeed under traditional standards. We all know the Nationals did not have the best pitchers, but St. Claire’s job was to get the most out of them that he could.
I went back and identified the top 10 contributing pitchers from 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. Not the top 10 producing pitchers, but the five starting pitchers who had the most games started, and the five relief pitchers who had the most appearances.
I looked at the pitchers record and ERA for the respective season and compared it to their career 162 game average. Simply enough if the player had better numbers in the respective season they were labeled as outperforming their ability. If the pitcher had worse numbers than their career average they underperformed.
This obviously isn’t the most in depth research I could have gone in, and there are some loopholes. Some players may have been in their prime when they pitched with the Nationals and some may have not, there for obscuring their performance with the Nationals compared to their career.
For example Ray King had a 4.45 ERA with the Nationals, which is actually a pretty solid output considering his age. However his career ERA was much lower due to his performance as a much younger Cardinal.
In the period from 2005-2008; pitchers outperformed their career averages 29 times, underperformed their averages eight times, and four times was the performance equal to their career average, or put up by a rookie.
The only year where St. Claire had more pitchers underperform was 2006 when six pitchers failed to meet their career averages. In 2005 and 2007 however, nine out of ten pitchers outperformed their career averages. In 2008 six pitchers outperformed, and four pitchers were either rookies or too close to their career averages to pass judgment upon.
Randy St. Claire did an excellent job given the poor talent he received from Jim Bowden and the front office. Under his tutelage the pitchers who had the biggest effect on the ball club almost always had one of their career years.
Up until 2009, the bullpen had been absolutely outstanding for St. Claire, almost always outperforming their career averages. Even when Chad Cordero hurt his arm, Jon Rauch and Hanrahan filled in well as a closer underneath him.
Journeymen pitchers like Esteban Loaiza, Livan Hernandez, Tim Redding, and Odalis Perez all outperformed their long career averages, proving that these pitchers pitched better under St. Claire than other pitching coaches.
The Bottom Line: The Nationals pitching failures came from those selecting the pitchers, not coaching them.
See the numbers:
Steve McCatty’s ascension was almost as fast as his decline.
The right-handed starter made his debut for the Oakland Athletics in 1977 as a 23 year old. Three years later McCatty was the centerpiece of a pitching staff that claimed to have ‘Five Aces” in him, Rick Langford, , Brian Kingman, Matt Keough and Mike Norris.
The Five Aces carried the Oakland A’s in the late 70’s and early 80’s, to go from a cellar dweller to a competitor in the American League West perennially. Led by notorious manager Billy Martin, the Five Aces made the idea of a bullpen essentially useless as they all ate inning after inning after inning.
In 1980 McCatty went 14-14 with a 3.86 ERA. In 31 starts he had 11 complete games and threw a total of 221.2 innings. 8 of those 11 complete games were recorded in McCatty’s last 11 starts of the year, where he won four of his last five games. The Five Aces often refused to be taken out of the game, and Billy Martin wasn’t going to force them. This was evident on August 10th of that year when McCatty pitched the entirety of a 14-inning game against the Mariners, only to end up on the losing side 2-1.
McCatty was tenacious and only got better in 1981 as he was arguably the best pitcher in baseball before the players strike. He went 14-7 with a 2.33 ERA at the age of 27. While the season was ended early, he still recorded 185 innings in only 22 starts, 16 of which ended in complete games. 1981 saw McCatty lead the league in wins with 14, shutouts with 4, and saw him finish second in Cy Young Voting behind Rollie Fingers.
Things fell apart quickly for McCatty however, and the rest of the Five Aces. In 1982 McCatty’s arm started to throb. Not wanting to lose his spot in the rotation McCatty pitched through the pain. Opting not to have surgery, he just decided to work through the pain and slowly became a full time starting pitcher again by 1984. His fastball was gone, as was most of his ability to make outs consistently.
By 1984 he was the last of the Five Aces to remain in the league, and by 1985 he was gone himself.
While McCatty’s career was certainly brief, there was no question he enjoyed himself while he was in the big leagues. Often considered a mast prankster, he will always be remembered in Oakland as the guy who lit Billy Martin’s shoe’s on fire during the middle of a game.
Perhaps McCatty’s most famous moment came not on the mound but a the plate when Martin sent the pitcher to bat with a toy, 15 inch, wooden bat. The act was a protest during an exhibition game played in a National League stadium that wouldn’t allow the designated hitter rule. Umpire Jim Quick refused to allow McCatty to hit.
Upon retirement he worked as a radio and television personality for the Oakland A’s, and eventually with ESPN. In 2002 McCatty served as pitching coach for the Detroit Tigers.
McCatty has been described as a no nonsense style pitching coach who likes to give his pitchers freedom and space. In an interview with MASN last night aired during the game, McCatty spoke about letting pitchers implement their own game plan, but making sure they had a reason for their pitch selections.
To me this seems like the type of pitching coach many established pitchers would love to pitch for. He’s a former starting pitcher who understand the psyche of pitching in big games, and big situations. He appreciates the stigma of being called out of games and the importance of self-confidence on the mound.
However it troubles me to think what that kind of mentality will do for young pitchers who may need more guidance that space. It will be interesting to see how effective McCatty will be for the Nationals, all we can do is hope for the best and pray that he will show our youngsters the way.no comments
The scene seemed all too familiar last night as the Nationals trailed the Giants in the late innings at Nats Park. The Nationals batters had given a valiant effort against arguably the most dominant pitchers in baseball, Tim Lincecum, but to no avail, as they trailed 5-4 and turned the game over to their bullpen.
You see for the Nationals it had been simple, good hitting plus bad pitching means losing more than seventy percent of the time. All season the only way the Nationals could earn a win would be by a slaughter at the plate or an outstanding performance by a starting pitcher. For the Nats, once the game goes to the bullpen, it’s usually over.
Tuesday was different. Tuesday the Nationals bats didn’t give up, and the bullpen didn’t give in.
Trailing 5-4 in the eight the Nationals posted a six run inning to overtake a very strong pitching ball club, and earn their 14th win of the year.
Leading the Rally was Cristian Guzman who finally broke out of a long slump that had found his batting average drop 20 points over the last two weeks. Also helping out were the old reliables, Ryan Zimmerman and Elijah Dukes both providing RBI doubles in the Nationals winning effort.