Nationals Infield Preview – 2019

Second special edition episode of our Washington Nationals Spring Training Preview! Check out how the infield spots check out in our minds. Plus, will Anthony Rendon become the new “Face of the Franchise?” Take a listen…

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Episode 23 – (Capitals, Wizards, Redskins, DC United)

Is walking needed in life? We are getting close to floating chairs like in the Pixar movie “Wall-E.” Landon Collins is a Redskin, the Caps staying the course and the Wizards aren’t doing anything exciting once again. Check out the latest episode and stay tuned for our Nationals infield preview to come!

Lastly, we have Jonathon Warriner of http://www.MakingTheMadness.com coming on the special edition episode talking everything March Madness! He will give some insight and information for some teams you may not know about in this years tournament!

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TIMESTAMPS:

  • Pre-Show Talk – (0:00)
  • Capitals Staying True – (13:15)
  • Wizards still trying to win? – (24:25)
  • Redskins New Additions – (39:50)
  • DC United Discussion– (57:30)
  • “What Grinds Our Gears” – (1:04:25)

Music By: Kenneth Thomas (www.DJKennethThomas.com)

Supporters: We Organize “Professional Organizing Services” ~ Parrando’s Tex-Mex Grill

On Deck: Big Week of Audio Content

On tap this coming week we will have Jessica Towne (@RunThisTowne13) from Philadelphia’s “Wildfire Sports” on the program to discuss all things Bryce Harper and National League East. Plus, we will have College Basketball writer Jonathon Warriner (@Bracketologist3) joining the show to give us his breakdown of the NCAA March Madness bracket after “Selection Sunday!” We will also have our Washington Nationals Infield Preview and our good friend Danny Nokes (@DannyNokes) of FOX Sports 910 Richmond giving us a breakdown of Virginia Tech’s first round matchup and his takeaways from the Atlantic-10 Tournament in Brooklyn!

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Virginia Tech/ACC Tournament Preview 2019

Danny Nokes of FOX Sports 910 in Richmond joins the program for this special episode focusing on Virginia Tech Basketball and the ACC Conference Tournament as a whole. Plus we dabble into the Atlantic-10 Tournament focused on Virginia Commonwealth University & George Mason University.

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Nationals Season Preview: Five Random Thoughts on Pitchers/Catchers

As we continue our season preview (check out the podcast episode we did here: (https://dccrossover.com/2019/03/04/dc-pitchers-catchers-preview-2019/) I wanted to add some other key thoughts as a companion to our preview podcasts. For this installment, I’ll go over five random thoughts regarding the Nats Pitchers/Catchers. 

1. I’m terrified about the Nationals Bullpen

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Overall the Nats are getting glowing reviews regarding their off-season acquisitions, and deservedly so. But an area that still absolutely terrifies me is the bullpen.

Per RotoChamp (and various other projections) here is the current setup for the bullpen:

Closer: Sean Doolittle

Relievers: 

Kyle Barraclough

Matt Grace

Justin Miller

Trevor Rosenthal

Sammy Solis

Jimmy Cordero

Koda Glover

(other candidates include Kyle McGowin, Tanner Rainey, and Austin Adams)

Last year’s Nats were just “okay” in the pen. They gave up the 6th most Home Runs (81), were near the bottom of the league in strikeouts, and as a team were middle of the pack in ERA (4.05).

For a team that is trying to contend for a World Series, they didn’t do a lot to improve in this area. Barraclough is an innings-eater and brings some value, and Rosenthal is more of a low-risk gamble but is coming off a major injury and hasn’t been good for 4-5 years.

Koda Glover has already been bitten by the injury bug early in his career and left a spring training game with forearm tightness, Sammy Solis is only around because he is left-handed, and a lot is riding on guys like Matt Grace and Justin Miller to repeat their strong 2018 campaigns.

I’m nervous, the bullpen has constantly been an issue for the Nats and Mike Rizzo as they shipped out Madsen and Kintzler last year after a failed season. A lot is riding on Doolittle who is also coming off a shortened season due to injury.

Rizzo either needs to make a few more moves, or cross his fingers and pray this group can get the job done.

2. I think Strasburg will beat the projections

MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves

Everyone is very hesitant to give Strasburg the benefit of the doubt that he will come back strong in 2019. I get this somewhat, last year wasn’t disastrous but it also wasn’t great (10-7, 3.74 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 156 K’s, with opponents hitting .309 on balls in play). He got hit around a bit, and only pitched 130 innings.

In both 2016 and 2017 Strasburg tallied 15 wins each season, with his 2017 campaign being in contention of a Cy Young with a 2.52 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. He was dominant, and most projections say he won’t get back to that level this season. I’m seeing a lot of 12-8 records with an ERA in the 3.50 range but I think a fully health Stras can get back to his 2017 form.

That is the key though: fully healthy. Strasburg made his spring debut early this week and looked good (2 scoreless innings with a couple strikeouts). The big thing last season was the disappearing velocity, but his fastball topped out at 94 in his Spring debut so hopefully he can push that up a tick before the season starts.

I think a healthy, confident, Strasburg can rebound from a roller coaster 2018 season and snag 14+ wins with a sub 3.30 ERA.

3. I like Justin Miller and you should too

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In case you wanted a quick background on Miller:

This was a guy that signed with the Nats in a minor league deal last year, and worked his way up to the big club. Prior to last year he had pitched sparingly, 42 innings in 2016, 33 innings in 2015, and 8 innings in 2014.

Last year for the Nats here’s what Miller was able to accomplish:

52 Innings, 3.61 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 60 K’s, 17 BB’s, 12.8% Swinging Strike percentage, 83% of runners Left on Base, and opponents only his .254 on balls in play against him.

Miller has a 94-95 MPH Fastball, decent slider, and solid changeup and really held together the broken bullpen last year with his performance. He is known to be a good clubhouse guy as well.

Unfortunately, right now he’s got an injury that could possibly keep him from being ready for Opening Day, but when he gets back I’m sure he’ll go back to having a key role in this questionable bullpen.

4. The Nats don’t seem to think Pedro Severino is ready

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Pedro Severino had a pretty bad 2018 (to be fair, so did the Nats as a whole). With an injury-prone Matt Wieters also playing the same position, Severino had a great opportunity to solidify himself as the catcher for the immediate future. Instead he hit .168 in 70 games, with only 2 HR’s, 15 RBI, with a .254 OBP and .247 Slugging.

You can see in the highlight reel there is still potential obviously, and he is still very young:

The twenty-five-year-old now has to wait a bit, as the Nats bring in Yan Gomes and bring BACK Kurt Suzuki to split time at catcher.

Neither is expected to blow away the league offensively but both are improvements over last year and Suzuki brings Veteran leadership and already was a beloved National before.

Severino still will have time to grow, but the position has now gotten a little more crowded. My gut is the Nats simply don’t think Severino is ready whatsoever to take the reigns, the trust just isn’t there yet.

5. Please for the love of god can we just pick a 5th starter

On the 1st, Hellickson was quoted discussing his desire to solidify the 5th spot in the Nationals rotation: https://www.federalbaseball.com/2019/3/1/18243361/jeremy-hellickson-wants-fifth-spot-washington-nationals-rotation-wants-to-go-deeper-in-starts

And to be fair, he probably has earned that after a strong run in 2018 (5-3 Record, 3.45 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) but it appears Davey Martinez has not fully decided on that 5th spot. Joe Ross is clearly the guy with the highest upside, but he is only some months removed from his full recovery from surgery, and Fedde didn’t have a great 2018 but then again he only threw 50 innings and is still young.

I would love for this spot to be solidified out of camp. Here is how the guys are doing so far (though Spring Training stats themselves don’t mean THAT much)

Joe Ross: 5.2 Innings, 5 K’s, 1.59 ERA, 1.59 WHIP

Erick Fedde: 5.1 Innings, 5 K’s, 11.81 ERA, 3.19 WHIP

Jeremy Hellickson: 5 Innings, 7 K’s, 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP

Based purely on that it is clearly a two-dog race between Ross and Hellickson for that 5th spot. Do you lean on the younger, higher upside Ross? Or do you go with the 31 year old Hellickson who performed last year when the Nats needed a band-aid?

Please just make a choice and stick with it, we know this rotation tends to get banged up anyways so I’m sure whoever doesn’t make the initial rotation will work their way in. What I don’t like is any idea of working in different guys constantly. Pick a man, let them perform, and adjust from there.

DC: Pitchers & Catchers Preview – 2019

The first special edition episode of our Washington Nationals Spring Training previews. Up to bat first are the Pitchers and Catchers. We discuss the additions of Corbin, Sanchez, Gomes, and Suzuki to the club. Take a listen and come back next week as we breakdown the infield for our Washington Nationals.

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Episode 22 – (Capitals, Wizards, “Grinds Our Gears”)

What is it with Alaska? What about Gas Attendants? Where did they all go? Take a listen to this condensed version of the podcast. Check out our Washington Nationals position preview special editions!

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TIMESTAMPS:

  • Pre-Show Shenanigans – (0:00)
  • Capitals Surging – (11:55)
  • Signs of Grunfeld Downfall? – (21:55)
  • “What Grinds Our Gears” – (38:52)
  • “Pine-Pony Express” – (50:00)

Music By: Kenneth Thomas (www.DJKennethThomas.com)

Supporters: We Organize “Professional Organizing Services” ~ Parrando’s Tex-Mex Grill

BREAKING: Bryce Harper signs with Philadelphia Phillies

And there it is. Bryce Harper signs with the Phillies. Now let me start by saying this whole article may be an overreaction to what has just transcribed a few hours ago, so I apologize if some of my thoughts are irrational.

I have loved baseball my entire life. The sound of the lawn mower cutting those last few blades of grass in the outfield. The smell of the freshly manicured ball field dousing your senses. The subtle noise of the crowd chatter in the background. Honestly, there is nothing like going to a baseball game. You can like whatever sport you want. But baseball is in a class of its own.

Fast forward to 2009. In comes Stephen Strasburg throwing lightning and hearing the thunder of the crowd. I was there against the Pirates when he threw for 14 K’s and electrified this city. Then it happened. The following year, we drafted BRYCE HARPER. The golden boy had landed in D.C.

BryceHarperYoung.jpg

The anticipation of Harper grew and grew. Strasburg was one thing, but the hype for him was not compared to the intrigue an everyday player who was labeled “the chosen one” brought to the table. After a couple of years, the Nationals surprised us all and headed to the post-season. Then this happened:

Every year since 2012, we have been one of the favorites to win the World Series. Yet, we have been one of the most disappointing teams year in and year out since that year. Missing the playoffs multiple years, and not making it passed the National League Division Series in four tries, even though having one of the best “on paper” rosters in the league was heart wrenching. Yet, one thing remained, Bryce Harper.

With Bryce Harper, anything was possible. Eyes were always on Washington D.C., because we had the rights to arguably one of the Top 5 players in all of baseball. Other cities didn’t get that type of recognition because Harper was an icon at his young age. The hair, the Sports Illustrated Body Issue (see below), the sound bites, and above all else, the monster bombs he hit over countless fences. You never knew what could happen because ANYTHING was possible with this guy.

HarperBodyIssue

So here we stand as a franchise, poised to make a deep run this year and for multiple years to come. The average age of the core group for this team is only 22.25 years old (Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, Carter Kieboom). That takes into account over half your outfield and infield with only those five guys. Mike Rizzo has built this team for the future and it has started to come to light. The only question, where was the face of our franchise going to end up?

The Nationals offered a “fair” offer at first. (Nationals Initial Offer For Bryce) The Lerners, Rizzo, and the city wanted Bryce back, at first. Then, rumors swelled and the debates began as time passed. “Where will he go?” – “Does he want to stay in D.C.?” – “Is he only in it for the money?” – “Doesn’t he want to win?” These were just some questions that arose in the beginning portion of this Free-Agency period.

But, the vitriol start to arise with the fan base after Bryce turned down Washington’s initial offer. People’s rationale started to decline. Everyone did not understand that if they were in his situation, with his talent, upside and prowess, we would want to get fair market value as well. Now I am not going to say I was happy Bryce was shopping with other teams, because I honestly wasn’t thrilled about the idea. Yet, I saw the bigger picture about how our team was constructed and decided to let the whole Harper thing fizzle out.

After over four months of discussions, four months of back and forth’s, four months of almost pure torture, Bryce Harper has signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. Did we expect him moving on? Yes. Did we expect other teams in this sweepstakes? (i.e. Yankees, Cubs, etc.) Yes. Would we have rather him go to any other team besides one within our division? YES.

SERONE’S TAKE:

Okay, here is my view on what this whole process has boiled down too. I wavered so much during these last four months debating in my head the pros and cons to having or losing the face of our franchise. But then it happened. It actually happened. The Phillies were the last team in the running to swoon over “our guy.” Now I could honestly care less about how much money yada yada yada. I am more so hurt by the fact he decided to take the job in Philadelphia, the city in which dreams are shattered because of their fan base. Take a look at some examples of what I am talking about.

NHL PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

(Fans throw TRIBUTE BRACELET OF LONG TIME OWNER on ice and at players)

NFL PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

(Fans pelt opposing fans with countless snowballs for many minutes)

MLB PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

(Fans throw Duracell Batteries and Trash at JD Drew)

Who would ever want to play in front of these fans? I literally hate when Philly fans try to say things like: “Oh we are just passionate people!” or “We love our teams!” No, no you don’t. I am a diehard Redskins, Nationals, Capitals and Wizards fan and you don’t see me throwing beer on a Houston Astros fan or a Miami Dolphins fan. You don’t see other fan bases doing these things year in and year out. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some good fans out there but the majority ruins it for everyone. Would you ever wear a rival jersey in one of their stadiums? Would you ever jump in a pool with piranhas? They are classless and literally will scold you until you break down. I am not sure if Bryce was only in it for the money or not but wanting to play for these fans and that city over ANYONE OR ANYWHERE else is a gut-wrenching blow.

It is free-agency, I get it. But you have to think of your legacy at some point, right? I loved watching Bryce. Every at-bat was something to get excited for. But now, it is over. He has pulled an Anakin Skywalker and turned over to the Dark Side. We are Obi-Wan Kenobi and he is Darth Vader.

The D.C. hero has now become possibly one of the most hated sports figures for all of our nations capital. He went from Washington D.C’s sports “Mount Rushmore,” to our evil Thanos. The rivalry has been ignited once more, now with even more despise and more hatred. I loved Bryce as a baseball icon, but now he is gone and we have to deal with it. Enjoy your next 13 years Bryce. My last thought comes from one of the best movies of all time. There is only one thing left to do now. (Clip Rated: R for Strong Language)

 

Let’s Go Nats!

Episode 21 – (Capitals, Wizards, Nationals)

The duo is back on the mics from the brief hiatus of the holiday weekend. Spring Training has begun and the boys are ginned up. Join in on the action as Ben talks about the “Lovers Kit” from his hotel during Valentines Day. Also, we discuss a Frenchmen getting 4-Months in prison for a brilliant theft attempt, and answer a few Spring Training questions for the Nationals!

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TIMESTAMPS:

  • Pre-Show Banter – (0:00)
  • Capitals Trade Deadline Acquisitions – (19:10)
  • Wizards Terrible Defense – (38:45)
  • Spring Training for Nationals – (1:00:00)
  • “What Grinds Our Gears” – (1:33:00)
  • Long-Time Guest “Ian Hollerin” – (1:43:30)
  • “Pine-Pony Express” – (1:45:50)

Music By: Kenneth Thomas (www.DJKennethThomas.com)

Supporters: We Organize “Professional Organizing Services” ~ Parrando’s Tex-Mex Grill

 

Is it weird that I literally don’t want Bryce Harper?

Washington Nationals v Arizona Diamondbacks

Am I an idiot? Bryce is one of the best hitters of our generation right? The Millenial Mickey Mantle? The Vegas Golden Boy? I should be kicking myself for even CONSIDERING the idea of not wanting him on the Nats right? RIGHT?!

And yet…I am.

bryce bryce

Look, the credentials speak for themselves. Six all-stars, Rookie of the Year, NL MVP, with an absolute TEAR of a 2015 season.

But as a Nationals fan I have the ability to see more than the numbers. Some of the characterizations are unfair. Coming out of high school, and in his early years in the MLB, the guy had a really bad rep.

Umpires baited him, media-types pounced, and overall Bryce was the “crybaby” in a lot of eyes.

Going beyond some of the unfair criticisms lies a small grain of pitching mound sand of truth. The guy cares ALOT. He is emotional, he is combative, that much is a fact. You watch a season of Nats games and you can see it both on the field and with occasional camera shots to the dugout.

Is it a problem? Max Scherzer is intense too, right? Here’s the difference. When I see Max Scherzer giving his all and being a psycho on the mound, I see it as “I am doing everything in my power to help my team win”. When I see Bryce lose his mind I see “I am doing everything in my power to help ME win.”

I’m not in the dugout, I’m not in the clubhouse, I can’t REALLY speak to his abilities as a leader. But I think a fan perspective is worth something, and I have not ever looked at Bryce as the “Leader” of the Nats. We look to Zim, or to Max as leaders.

Bryce cares about Bryce. Is that a bad thing? No. Is it bad for a team that is trying to contend for a championship? In my opinion, yes.

As much as I envy the World Series champs from previous seasons, look at the guys on those squads.

world series

Those were TEAMS. Those guys worked as a UNIT. Did they each have their own stars? Of course. But it was not one guy leading the charge. And the stars that were at the front, would you put them in the same realm as Bryce as far as competitive and combative attitude? I don’t think so.

The point is, I look at this year’s roster without Bryce Harper and I’m excited. I don’t see one guy leading the charge. I see a cohesive unit. I see young studs mixed with guys in their prime mixed with crafty vets. Without Bryce, I don’t see this weight hanging over this team.

If you resign Bryce to a monster contract you will forever have the “Is he worth it” debate for the next decade. It won’t be about the Nationals, it will be about the scrutiny of every action Harper takes, every at-bat he swings and misses. Everyone will constantly be doing calculations “Oh look, is that ground out worth ___ million dollars?”

Without him I’m looking at a unit that can play free, maybe fly under the radar and surprise some people.

None of this is taking into consideration any of the financial impact or handcuffing of the team. The shuffling of the outfield, and any other logistical impacts along the way. This is one fan’s opinion, purely on emotion and gut feeling.

I think Bryce Harper is an incredible talent. I think Bryce Harper could be a hall-of-famer. I think Bryce Harper could win multiple MVPs in the future.

I just don’t want him.