With the last three games not proving to be too kind to Washington’s offense, I’ve decided to declare today “Comeback Sunday.” What? Did you really think I was going to go with Women’s Equality Day? The law was the only thing we had on our side and we threw it all away.
I kid. I kid.
Anyhoo, hopefully later today the Nats can get back on track and avoid the sweep at the hands of the Phillies, though it will hurt not to have both Michael Morse and Ian Desmond in the lineup. Until game time rolls around, for kicks and giggles, here’s a Sunday morning edition of quick hits:
- I thought this was supposed to work the other way around? Dodgers bail out BoSox, acquire Gonzalez, Beckett, and Crawford. While it is heartening to see something in Brokefornia come into money, methinks long-term this won’t end well for the Dodgers. However, in the short-run, the addition of Gonzalez and if he is rejuvenated, Beckett, could propel Los Angeles into the playoffs. And if they make it in, you would have to think they would be a formidable opponent. So while the Nats continue to barrel towards unilateral disarmament, their foes stock up. Sigh. I wish I wasn’t such a brooding auditor.
- Thankfully, the Nationals joined the frequent Tommy John surgery club. This one’s free! Lucas Giolito, the Nationals’ top draft pick, will undergo Tommy John surgery.
- This is probably going to come as a shock to everyone, but I have a thing for numbers. So this fascinating column from Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports allowed me to slip into nirvana without coming out smelling like teen spirit. 25 things you didn’t know about baseball. My favorite: Fernando Rodney and his 0. 77 ERA. Who says God doesn’t interfere in the affairs of men?
- And finally, I guess the 50-game suspension of Fatolo Colon earlier this week only goes to show that you can lead an athlete to steroids but you still can’t make him work out.
And that’s all folks!
Sometimes, the writing business is hard. But when difficulty and despair creep in, I remember the fans, or more accurately, the fan who calls out for July’s edition of the MESPY (Matt’s Excellence in Self-Promotion Yada Yada) Awards. Sniff. That’s what makes it all worth while.
AL MVP: Mike Trout. Somewhere, Tim Salmon is crying, realizing the gig is up as the top fish to ever play for the Angels. Trout put up a monster July, hitting .392 with 10 home runs, 32 runs scored (32!), 23 RBIs, and 9 stolen bases, just because he can. His 2.8 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was 33 percent better than the next highest in July, Ryan Zimmerman’s 2.1 WAR.
AL CY Young: David Price. WAR will tell you that Felix Hernandez had the edge, but that was due in large part to King Felix having one additional start. Take that away, and the Price was Right snitches!
AL Rookie of the Month: Trout. I knew fish was brain food but I didn’t realize it made thinking this easy.
NL MVP: Ryan Zimmerman. Andrew McCutchen must be starting to feel like the Susan Lucci of the MESPY awards at this point, but Zimm edged the Dread Pirate in home runs, runs, and RBIs. Also, McCutchen’s surprising total of zero stolen bases and Zimm’s edge in defensive metrics pushed Ryan over the top in WAR, 2.1 to 2.0.
NL CY Young: Jordan Zimmermann. After the July JZ had, I can’t help but wonder if the other Jaz-Z wrote A Star is Born about Zimm:
And I am one, of one
Can’t you see just how long my run?
NL Rookie of the Month: It would be a real dogfight between Michael Fiers of the Brewers and Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs (both 1.0 WAR), if it weren’t for Rizzo accumulating 153 at-bats last season with the Padres. According to those fun-busters at MLB, that’s 23 too many to be considered a rookie. Sigh.
Nationals’ MVP: Ryan Zimmerman. I guess I was talking about Zimm’s monster July around the office so much I shouldn’t have been surprised when I overheard management discussing whether cortisone shots would increase audit productivity.
Nationals’ CY Young: Jordan Zimmermann. Six starts. Six quality starts, with four wins banked. All he does is throw darts, though his xFIP (3.12) in July does leave some room for an upward ERA correction (.97 ERA in July).
Nationals’ Rookie of the Month: Steve Lombardozzi. No Nats rookie really shined in July, with Lombardozzi pacing all rookies with a 0.3 WAR. But with Ian Desmond going down, Lombard has swung a nice bat and picked it on a pretty consistent basis. I can think of far worse things. Like being the sap donning the Teddy Roosevelt costume everyday, running around in a thousand-degree heat, never winning the Presidents race. Yeah, that would make me hot and bitter. Hot and bitter.
And that’s all folks!
At least that’s the word from a source to the Washington Post. Although I gave up rumor mongering after it turned out that a band of wild monkeys was not the Y2K revolution vanguard, I have to say that among the various whispers about possible deadline acquisitions for the Nats (starting pitcher, catcher, etc.), this one I cannot only see happening, I can feel my head nod in approval. At least with the concept. Let’s not go crazy and give up Anthony Rendon for Nick Punto. But losing Ian Desmond, who had been the team’s hitting MVP, to a torn oblique, does leave the Nationals one bump and bruise away from a real serious problem up the middle. The prospect of Desmond being out until the end of August (if not longer; oblique injuries are notoriously slow to heal) is already quite a challenge. The Nats would be prudent to try to make sure they don’t turn a challenge into a near impossibility.
Boy, yesterday was a roller coaster of a day for the Washington Nationals. Thankfully, the train road upwards for most of the day, with the Nationals taking game two of the series against the Rockies 4-1. The Nats were led to victory by the usual suspects: Gio Gonzalez, Ian Desmond, and the bullpen, with a nice assist from a Colorado team that found itself throwing around the ball in the bottom of the sixth.
Then after the game, it was announced that Bryce Harper would replace Giancarlo (say one more time, baby) Stanton in the All-Star game, becoming the youngest position player ever to make an All-Star team. The only plunge on the ride though was the news that Desmond would not be participating in the game, sitting out to rest a sore oblique. I can’t imagine how difficult a decision it was for him to elect to miss his first All-Star game. But I do love the message he sent by choosing to put his health and his team before personal accomplishments. Come the battles of September, I can’t help but think that his team-first mentality is going to do a lot for the Nationals.
Game ball(s): Desmond. For all the reasons elucidated above, and oh by the way, he hit another home run yesterday, his 16th on the season.
Goat(s): Colorado’s defense. I guess I see now why the Rockies have committed the third-most errors in baseball.
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Yeah, and the kid made the All-Star game. I know the Harper-hype machine has a lot to do with it, but there is no doubting that he is playing at a high level, especially given his age. From day one, he has made the title of this award seem a bit silly and nothing so far indicates that this ride is going only where but up from here.
Current Record: 49-33
I’m in a celebratory mood this morning. The Nationals rolled off another win last night, and in the process, put another curly w in the box score for Jordan Zimmermann. Baseball is a funny, funny game. Zimm goes winless between late May and late June and now sees superlative pitching being rewarded in his last two starts, with the Nats offense knocking in 20 runs combined. And of course, it’s our nation’s Independence Day, and while I still have time to write without IRS compulsion, what better way to celebrate than with June’s MESPY (Matt’s Excellence in Self-Promotion Yada Yada) Awards:
AL MVP: Mike Trout. Robinson Cano had a monster June, but on the day we celebrate standing up to the big bully on the block (alliteration!), I’m not going to shirk away from my disdain for the Evil Empire. So it goes to Trout, who actually edged Cano out in WAR (Wins Above Replacement), 2.2 to 2.0. And Trout did this at the tender age of 20. Wow.
AL CY Young: Hiroki Kuroda. Dang. Well, the British did give us the Beatles.
AL Rookie of the Month: Trout. I hate to be a Benedict Arnold on such a hallowed day, but what I said in May’s MESPYs hasn’t changed. Trout has been baseball’s best rookie and at this pace, could be in the running for the AL’s best player by season’s end.
NL MVP: R.A. Dickey. Andrew McCutchen and Joey Votto both deserve kudos for tremendous months, but Dickey taking home the award just goes to show you how dominate he was during June. He posted the second best WAR in baseball (2.1), a sub-one ERA (.93), a .60 WHIP, struck out 55 batters while only walking 8, and went 5-0. Oh, and he did this throwing a knuckleball.
NY CY Young: Dickey. If only I had a Forever Lazy this would be the perfect day.
NL Rookie of the Month: Andrelton Simmons. Bryce, I still want to be your accountant. But while you hit a bit of a soft patch in June, the Braves shortstop batted .333, showed slick fielding skills (alliteration!), and posted a nice 1.6 WAR. I’m going to take a long walk off a short bridge now.
Nationals’ MVP: Ian Desmond. He crushed another one out last night off of Tim Lincecum, which was just more of the same for the Nats’ All-Star shortstop. I’d like to think this is all because of my talk with Ian at Spring Training two years ago. Oh, but he didn’t do so well last year. I see. My silence is golden.
Nationals’ CY Young: Stephen Strasburg. A 2.25 xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching) points to his 3.09 June ERA being unlucky. But a 13.37 k/9 and six quality starts demonstrate that even without luck, Strasburg is simply dominant.
Nationals’ Rookie of the Month: Tyler Moore. I can see why I got into auditing and not public relations. That depressing thought aside, in 68 fewer plate appearances, Moore had the same number of home runs as Bryce Harper (4), same number of RBIs (11), batted a robust .425, and topped Harper in WAR 1.0 to 0.6. I hate myself.
And that’s all folks!
With the Nationals off tonight (there is no truth to the rumor that in a sweaty act of desperation, the Nats offered to play the Giants in San Francisco), I figured it was time for another edition of quick hits:
- First things first. Congratulations are in order for Washington’s All-Star game representatives, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Ian Desmond. It is only fitting that the Nationals landed two starting pitchers on the squad, given the dominance of their starting five through the first half of the season. And Desmond’s selection by manager Tony LaRussa was a very nice surprise. Given some of the putrid selections in both leagues, it was good to see a player not among the fan’s top eight shortstops get selected, as Desmond has been among the NL’s best shortstops.
- Now what to do about Bryce Harper being on the final five-man All-Star ballot? He says that he’d vote for Chipper Jones. For still basically being a kid, he is handling this moment with class. The most interesting thing about all of this is how MLB leaves so much about a glorified exhibition game they’ve made mean so much up to things like a fan vote. And that’s why, while I applaud the kid’s reverence, I actually think Chipper would be the last guy I would vote for. If possible home field advantage is on the line, unless 28 year-old Larry is walking through the tunnel, I would rather take a chance on the kid. Think about that while you go vote here.
- I am bit of a stathead so this was pleasing to my senses: Nationals second in SI.com/FanGraphs Power Poll.
- And a fond farewell to one of baseball’s greatest joys of the early and mid-2000’s, as Dontrelle Willis announced his retirement from baseball today. Living in Florida, I’ve gotten to see a lot of Marlins games on television. And there was a time when a Dontrelle Willis start was must-see tv, if only for the simple pleasure of watching the man smile on the mound. He truly loved what he was doing and while the last few years he has been a wild shell of himself, for a brief moment, he was one of baseball’s better starters.
12 runs on 21 hits. It took the thin air at Coors Field and baseball’s worse pitching staff (as measured by team ERA), but my gosh at last the Nats offense went nuts and posted double-digits on the scoreboard. After Washington struggled yet again at the plate Monday night, and then Stephen Strasburg melted down after plunking Marco Scutaro, I told myself to take a deep breath, refrain from penning something in frustration, and wait and see if Tuesday would bring better things. Oh, how I love when procrastination and rage make for a merry outcome!
Game ball(s): Edward Calvin Kendall. Could have handed out a half-dozen game balls to actual Nats, but Nancy Reagan started this nation’s conversation on drugs and I’m not about to go quiet now! I know in 1950 Kendall won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research related to the discovery of cortisone, but they’ve been handing out those Nobels like candy since 1901. Homer Simpson probably has one. But he doesn’t have a game ball, which Kendall now can now proudly claim in heaven for contributing to the resurgence of Ryan Zimmerman. I’m thinking maybe now the whole team should line up for cortisone shots and see where that gets us.
Goat(s): Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper. In the midst of the offensive breakout, Espinosa and Harper continued their struggles, going a collective 2 for 11 with just one run scored. This comes on the heels of Monday’s collective 0-7 performance. I understand the Nationals don’t have a lot of great options at the top of the order, but unless they generate more on-base productivity from their top two hitters in the lineup, I can’t foresee many more games like last night.
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Tyler Moore. All the kid does is hit when he is in the lineup. If he is going to play more (pun!), which it seems like he will (and should), may I humbly suggest that Davey consider moving Moore behind Adam LaRoche and sliding Ian Desmond up to the #2 spot against lefties (keeping Espinosa leading off since he has swung the bat well against southpaws)? And against righties, perhaps Desmond could lead-off while Harper could still hold down the #2 spot?
Current Record: 42-30