The powers that be told us this would solve everything. Introducing the technology of instant replay would stop calls that were made out of human error, and would allow for the most fair play on the field possible.
It had its dissenters, including myself. Why introduce a technology to the game that will take away from its charm. Yes, umpires miss things, yes they make mistakes. It’s part of baseball lure however and as a true fan we take the Jeffery Maier’s no-matter what side of the ruling we’re on.
Wednesday night crossed the line.
A Daniel Murphy double, was turned into a Daniel Murphy home run. The ball landed 10 feet short of the fence and was fielded on one hop by Adam Dunn. Mets Manager Jerry Manuel came onto the field to complain that the ball must have hit an overhanging Subway sign in right field. Not a single umpire had felt this way, and there was no indication by anyone that the ball had left the ballpark.
After reviewing the play, it was ruled a homerun, giving the Mets the go-ahead run.
The evidence? Nowhere near conclusive. The ruling? Unprecedented. The Nats? Screwed.
Later SNY reporters would ask fans in the outfield whether or not they heard the ball hit the Subway sign on the flyball in question, none of them responded saying they heard it, and several said the Mets, “got away with one.”
Now if you are going to introduce this technology to the game, it better be used correctly. I can live, in fact I embrace the occasional human error on homerun calls. It’s those little twirks that make the game go around. But if you are going to take that away, and promise with video replay 100% accuracy, I expect better calls.
I expect calls that aren’t 90% disagreeable. I expect calls that don’t make my gut wrench. I’m not even one to argue calls in general, but if you are going to bring in technology, for gods sake, get it right.
While everybody has accepted that the Nationals will take Steven Strasburg with the number one overall pick June 9th, often overlooked has been the Nationals next pick. For failing to sign Aaron Crow in 2008, the Nats received a compensatory pick at the 10 spot in this years draft. So essentially the Nats have two ‘lottery’ picks in 2009. Over the next several days I will go over a few possibilities of who they may draft.
Today: Tyler Matzek
It seems much of the talent that the Nationals are scouting for their two top-10 picks in the upcoming draft hail from the great state of California. Whether it be the obvious number-one of Steven Strasburg, last weeks pick number 10 candidate Grant Green, or this weeks candidate Tyler Matzek, it seems California is a true hotbed for talent.
Matzek is a hard throwing lefty who is currently a senior for the Capistrano Valley Cougars. At first glance, Matzek stands 6’ 3”, 215 pounds and looks like your typical hard throwing high school prospect looking to sign a division one contract.He packs much more in that frame however.
There are two things that separate Matzek from being a great high school pitching prospect and being the best. The first thing is velocity.
Matzek improved from throwing consistently in the high 80’s his junior year to a fastball that sits at about 91 even into later innings as a senior. This kind of escalation often draws attention of scouts, most high schoolers can not hit 90 on the gun consistently, certainly not with good accuracy. Steven Strasburg himself could barley hit 90 in high school, a large reason for him attending San Diego State in the first place.
What makes Matzek’s velocity so impressive however isn’t the age at which it has developed, but the fact that he’s a lefty. Not many lefty’s have overwhelming power, and most make it to the majors with solid velocity and great secondary pitches. Lefty’s, unlike righty’s, have great natural movement on their fastballs, when you add velocity they can be very difficult to hit.
Matzek has also shown the ability to gas it up, pushing his fastball to as high as 96 during a team trip to Florida in the spring.
The second thing that separates Matzek from other good pitching prospects is his mastery of his secondary pitches. The big lefty throws a very good curve that while it is not yet Major League polished, it has the ability to freeze hitters with his power fastball. He also throws a very solid slider which sits between 79-84 MPH and projects as a plus pitch. Matzek also has a change-up, although he is not often forced to throw it against lower level competition, and he is developing a two seem fastball to induce groundballs against better level hitting.
So far this senior year Matzek has pitched 78.1 innings and has posted a 1.07 ERA with a .153 opposing batting average. He has struck out 97 while walking 28. At the plate he has been nearly as impressive, batting .381 with 5 homers and 26 RBI.
While he is not the best pitcher in this draft, or the best talent, he may very well be the second best of both. Strasburg has a complete stranglehold on all hype regarding pitching talent in the first round of this years draft, and rightfully so, however Matzek’s future is no joke. Given the right upbringing it would not be too unlikely to see him break into the big leagues by the age of 22, or even earlier if he develops fast enough.
The Nats selection of Matzek would certainly make them pitching prospect heavy. They already have four rookie starters in the Major Leagues with Zimmermann, Martis, Detwiler, and Stammen, and with the pick of Steven Strasburg they will have one more very close by. However pitching prospects don’t always pan out, and many argue because of this you can’t have too many. Perhaps he becomes a closer down the line, perhaps he just becomes that much better than the Nats currently breaking into the bigs today.
The bottom line is, the Nats shouldn’t hesitate to take Matzek, and should bank on his great future and upside.
According to Gorden Edes at Yahoo Sports, the Washington Nationals currently have scouts evalutating both the Mets Triple-A team in Buffalo N.Y and their Double-A team in Binghamton, N.Y.
This is a clear-cut sign that the Mets currently have interest in trading for the Washington Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson, as they have been left without the services of Carlos Delgado for the next two months following hip surgery.
Johnson is in the last year of a heavy contract and the Nationals are not likely to resign, making him prime trade bait. Johnson is having one of his best starts in years, currently batting .329/.436/.460, and more importantly, his glove is a lot better than Daniel Murphy’s.
According to Edes, the Nats are paying close attention to pitchers Jon Niese, Mike Antonini, and Eddie Kunz.
Lets take a look:
Jon Niese-Jon Niese is a 22 year old left-handed starting pitcher from Lima, Ohio. A childhood friend and teammate of the Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley, Niese has often been overshadowed by great talent around him. This is what caused him to slip to the 9th round of the 2005 MLB draft, where the Mets selected him 209th overall. Since being drafted Niese has been successful at every level, including a 2008 that saw the young lefty combine to go 11-8 with a 3.13 ERA with 144 K’s to 58 BB’s, in AAA New Orleans and AA Binghamton. 2009 however has been rough so far as Niese has only gone 0-3 with an 8.17 ERA in six starts.
Mike Antonini- Antonini was drafted by the Mets in the 18th round of the 2007 draft out of Georgia College & State University.He combines a solid fastball that sits in the mid-low 90’s with a plus change up that keeps hitters off balance. The 23 year old saw early success in 2007 where he combined for a 1.99 ERA in 12 games. 2009 has not been as productive for Antonini however, as he has combined for a 6.28 ERA in 8 games. His strikeout-walk ratio still stays high however at 32/15.
Eddie Kunz- Eddie Kunz is a 23-year-old righty drafted out of Oregon State by the Mets in the second round of the 2007 MLB draft. In his first full season in professional ball, Kunz had pitched 44 games for the Double-A Binghamton Mets, recording a 2.79 ERA with 22 saves. He was called up to the Major League Mets during the club’s bullpen meltdown in the fall of 2008, but only saw limited action. So far through 12 games for the Mets Triple-A affiliate he has a 3.79 ERA. He has also allowed 14 walks in 19 innings pitched.
How often did we sit back and watch Livan Hernandez pitch 9 innings while scattering nine hits on well over 120 pitches to complete the unorthodox complete game.
What was one more time?
This was the case Tuesday night as the Nats fell to their one-time ace, now pitching for the Mets, 6-1. Hernandez lobbed 127 pitches en route to his fourth victory of the year, proving that a true junk-baller never ages.
Of the nine hits the Nationals managed to muster against the old righty were Josh Bard and Cristian Guzman doubles and an Adam Dunn homer. But while Hernandez threw junk all day long, he did throw strikes, only allowing one Washington walk.
Tuesday’s game also saw career start the second for rookie Craig Stammen. Despite earning his first decisions, a loss, Stammen posted a quality start for the second straight game. Tuesday the 25-year-old pitched five innings, scattering seven hits, allowing three earned runs. He walked two and struck out two. His first career start, he pitched 6.1 innings, allowed four hits, four earned runs, struck out three and walked only one.
As Stammen is 25, this is the type of development we should expect for someone in his age group. While its rare for a ball player not to get their first taste of the majors until the age of 25, he is a college pitcher (from Dayton) so he is probably arriving just about on time. Because of his age however, if he doesn’t continue to adjust at the rate he currently is, he may be given up on before long.
Garry Sheffield wants you to know: He’s not finished
Garry Sheffield entered the 2009 season expecting to be the starting designated hitter for the Detroit Tigers. He had a $14 million, a hall of fame career, and was one homer shy of reaching the illusive 500 record club.
Then, as if out of nowhere, the Tigers dropped Sheffield the day before the season, eating his $14 million just to get him off the team. The reason wasn’t clear, the Tigers simply said they wanted to have ‘more diversity at the DH position.’ Some obviously speculated that the Tigers, as well as others in the league thought the 40-year-old former star was done. In 2008 he had only batted .225/.326/.400.
So far this year after being picked up by the Mets, he has proven that he’s anything but finished. The 40 year old is batting .291/.430/.535 while platoonning in the outfield. He earned his 500th homer in his first at bat of the 2009 season, and has hit four more in only 86 at bats this year. He has walked more times than he has struck out, and is providing a pop to this line up that the Mets need in this injury filled time.
A strong John Lannan start ended in a poor John Lannan finish as the Nats fell 5-2 to NL East rivals, the New York Mets.
Through five innings, Lannan had allowed only five hits and one earned run. He effectively pitched out of the jams he created, forcing three double play balls and by forcing the Mets to strand runners.
The wheels fell off in the bottom sixth as the Mets officially welcomed the Nationals to their new Citi Field. John Lannan would never record an out. A Castillo double, a Beltran walk and in a flash a Gary Sheffield homer put the Mets on top 4-1. That was it the Nats lefty.
The play didn't come without controversy however. Manny Acta and the Nats argued fan interference on Sheffield's dinger, a la Jeffrey Maier. Despite looking at replay, many Nats fans still believe they Umps got it wrong when they refused to overturn the call.
Coming in to relieve after the delay was Jesus Colome who had problems of his own. He allowed a Fernando Tatis single which drove David Wright from first to third, and a Ramon Martinez sac fly scored Wright, giving the Mets their 5th and final run.
Just like that, the Mets had struck, and the Nats were left behind.
Once again this season we saw Lannan have problems with his accuracy. This is not only evident in his four walks to zero strikeouts on the day, but also his 53 strikes out of 92 pitches. It’s plain and simple, when opposing batters know that the only pitch Lannan can throw for a strike is his sub par fastball, batters are going to wait for that pitch. It has shown this year with the increased number of poked singles off Lannan, as well as the increased numbers of bombs. He’s simply not fooling anyone.
Are we going to have an Austin Kearns Problem?
It amazes me. Elijah Dukes loses his starting job in the spring to Austin Kearns because his numbers are slightly worse in spring training. Then when it becomes evident that Dukes is the premier hitter of the future on our team, our prize centerfielder Lastings Milledge gets sent down after less than 30 at bats.
Yet Austin Kearns, our old stand by. The Man who batted .217 last year into a mysterious season ending injury (torn pride), keeps his job even today. As of last night the mighty Austin Kearns is batting .213, getting on base at .341, slugging a whopping .389, and is serving as a big whole in the middle of the Nats line up.
In the month of May, Kearns is batting .196/.274/.286. He has 16 strikeouts to 4 walks and only four extra base hits.
There has been a lack of updates on The Nats Blog for this weekend series against our neighbor to the north the Baltimore Orioles. Some have speculated that as a childhood Orioles fan I couldn’t bring myself to write against the team that I grew up rooting for on those faithful October nights in the late 1990’s. Others have asked if it was a result of the inability to write about the same loss over and over, a situation many may argue the Nats are currently in.
No, as exciting and dramatic as those circumstances would be, the plain truth is that after four years of being Mono-free in college, I catch the notorious kissing curse merely a week after I graduate.
Shortly following the Clippers climbing the lottery to snag the number one overall selection in June’s NBA Draft. Instead of the Wizards moving up just one spot to win the number one pick, and with it the cities second top pick in a major sport draft this summer, they slipped to fifth and likely out of relevancy. Blake Griffen doesn’t know what he’s missing.
As the ‘National elect’ with the number one overall pick this coming June, Steven Strasburg will soon find out how sweet it is to be a sports star in Washington. The District is a city built around hero’s. People from all across the country, and world, that have done one thing extraordinary in their life at some point. It’s a city that appreciates character, wit, humor, and supposed playmaking ability.
This is why Washington is drawn to its sports stars, and to making them into our hero’s. What other city has three superstars already established in their city? Los Angeles has Kobe, and Vlad Guerrero, but no football team. Chicago has all the sports but who really stands out as a superstar? Not Derek Rose yet, not Derek Lee anymore, and Jay Cutler has only just arrived. D.C on the other hand boasts Gilbert Arenas, who when healthy is the epitome of a star, Clinton Portis, and Alexander Ovechkin.
This trio rules D.C as we fall in love with their individual accolades, their style on and off the court, and often their plain ridiculousness. And maybe it’s our jaded view of our towns political leaders that allow us to look past our stars flaws more than any other city that allows them to be so popular in D.C. Maybe we’ve learned to appreciate individual accolades and ignore group shortcomings. We see politicians come into this town as great representatives from other places,and as long as there is no scandal their success is relatively ignored and their support still maintained.
Such is our view towards the Wizards, Redskins, Capitals, and Nationals. Let’s be honest, we struggle a bit when they put up last place seasons, but for the most part Washingtonians don’t start to care about a team until The Washington Post tells us to.
So this is what we have to offer you Steven Strasburg. If you chose to be sign-able, and you do come to Washington, we can give you undying love.
Be in an Eastern Motors Commercial!
Do Whatever Gilbert Arena’s does while he hasn’t played the last 2 years!
I don’t know if Strasburg has any sense of humor or not, it doesn’t look like it, but he would be well served to gain one. Apathetic D.C fans need something to chuckle at while spiraling into last place. A pudgy Dimitri Young or a neck breaking quarterback can only go so far here.
Pitch well. Make us laugh. Don’t worry about the winning, we’ll take it when it comes.
I have recently come down with a bad case of Mono and I haven’t been able to watch all the Nats games in full, at least not lucidly.
So every morning when I get up I look at the box score first thing to see first; the score, and second; how many runs the Nationals let up in the 8th and 9th innings. It’s usually pretty predictable.
It was no surprise to me this morning to see the final score to a game that when I fell asleep watching it was tied 1-1, to have the Nationals lose 1-2. Guess when that losing run crossed the plate? That’s right the ninth. On a wild pitch no less....jeesh
John Lannan pitched a beauty of a game. His accuracy dead-on, and his breaking pitches freezing. Through seven innings pitched Lannan allowed seven hits, one earned run, struck out five, and walked two. He finally pitched like the ace we had hoped for going into 2009, dropping his season ERA to 3.63, despite not earning the victory.
Ron Villone came on to pitch a perfect inning in the eighth, setting up the potential loss perfectly for Joel Hanrahan. Hanrahan surrendered three hits, one walk, and one earned run, just enough to earn his second loss of the year, and the Nationals’ 28th.
What’s most scary about Hanrahan’s performance is that he didn’t have control problems. 23 out of his 35 pitches were strikes. This means he just plain got rocked, and that his stuff just is not very good.
David Ortiz is a unique player who has followed a unique career path. While Big Papi broke into the majors with Minnesota at only age 21, he didn’t have his first 20 homer season until 2002 when he was 26.
That makes five years of a large first basemen in a bandbox ballpark not hitting for great power. The doubles were there, Ortiz recorded 30, twice before reaching the 20 homer plateau, but Ortiz never put it all together.
Following 2002 Ortiz was shipped to Boston where his career would really take off. From 2003-2007 he was arguably the best hitter in baseball, posting career highs of .332/54/148 in various seasons. Papi and Manny Ramirez combined for one of the best one-two punches since Ruth/Gehrig, and Redsox nation loved it.
However in 2008 the wheels started to fall off, as Ortiz’s injuries appeared to catch up to him. His power total dropped to only 23 homers, he batted only .264 and drove in less than one hundred runs for the first time he has been in Boston.
This year it has gotten out of hand. Through 161 plate appearances Ortiz has no homers, and is struggling to bat above .200.
So what’s wrong?
The easy answer is the removal of Manny Ramirez. Without the hitter of a generation hitting behind him, maybe Ortiz isn’t as scary? But he still does have Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkalis, Jason Bay, and JD Drew hitting around him….so plate protection is still there.
Maybe the problem is that Papi, who is now 33, is over the hill. Yes, 33 is not that old for most ball players, especially ones who didn’t start to play every day until the age of 27/28. However, if you look at other ‘big bodied’ players like Ortiz, such as Mo Vaughn, or Cecil Fielder, both of their careers ended in their early to mid 30’s. Perhaps Big Papi is just worn out?
If the Redsox decide he is. They may look to Washington and target Nick Johnson as their new DH. He’d fit in well in the Sox line-up, as he is an on base conscious, line drive hitting professional hitter.
Johnson is also in his last year under contract with Washington, and for the first time in a long while he is healthy. The Nats should dump him for some pitching help as soon as possible, and clear the way for Morrero.