Thursday, May 17, 2012

LaRoche gets his well-earned praise

Associated Press photo
Adam LaRoche tips his cap to the crowd after recording his 1,000th career hit.
The first standing ovation came as Adam LaRoche stood on second base, his bases-clearing double having just given the Nationals a comfortable lead over the Pirates they would not relinquish, the scoreboard congratulating the veteran first baseman on recording his 1,000th career hit.

The second standing ovation came moments later, after the bottom of the seventh ended and LaRoche began walking back toward the Nationals' dugout to swap out his batting helmet for his cap and glove. Realizing all this applause was directed solely at him, the 32-year-old quickly doffed that cap to the gathering of 25,942.

That's as much of a public display of emotion as you're ever likely to see out of LaRoche. Rest assured, he was beaming inside during that moment, the highlight of the Nationals' 7-4 victory.

"It was really special, to say the least," he said. "Obviously going through what I did last year and not being able to be a big part of it, and now to come back and have [the fans] behind me the way they are ... it was perfect."

Stop for a moment and think about how unlikely a scene this would have been only a few months ago, when Nationals fans' lasting image of LaRoche was either his .172 batting average or his left arm in a sling following season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum.

Even after making a full recovery, LaRoche still spent much of the winter listening to chatter about the Nationals making a play for free agent Prince Fielder, a move that would have resulted in him being kicked to the curb despite his $8 million salary.

LaRoche, a baseball lifer whose father and brother played in the big leagues, said all the right things and insisted he wasn't offended by all the Fielder talk. But he did admit he entered this season feeling like he had something to prove. Not to the Nationals or to their fans. But to himself.

"I don't look at what's going on, on the outside and feel like I've got to come here and prove the salary, or prove missing a year," he said. "But as a competitor, I wanted to prove to myself that I could come back from this surgery and do what I know I'm capable of doing. So to come out and do it is nice reassurance."

This is beyond reassurance, though. A consistent, steady hitter throughout his nine-year career, LaRoche has never stormed out of the gates like this. Following Wednesday night's 3-for-4, four-RBI performance, he now ranks seventh in the NL in batting average (.339), ninth in home runs (seven), third in RBI (29), fifth in on-base percentage (.429) and sixth in OPS (1.024).

More importantly, he's consistently produced big hits in meaningful situations for a Nationals team missing Michael Morse and Jayson Werth and still waiting for Ryan Zimmerman to catch fire.

"He's been indispensable," manager Davey Johnson said. "We're missing the guys in the lineup. Even Zim's been struggling. And he's been one constant from Day 1. Drove in a lot of big runs. Just a big player."

LaRoche wasn't the only contributor to this victory. Ian Desmond and Xavier Nady also homered, the latter doing it for the 100th time in his career. Gio Gonzalez struck out a season-high 10 batters over seven strong innings. And Henry Rodriguez overcame his demons and faced the minimum in the ninth inning to earn the save.

But this was a night to recognize LaRoche and what he's meant to the Nationals through the first six weeks of this season. Obviously, it's still early, but if they held an MVP vote today, LaRoche would probably show up on the ballot. And he certainly deserves consideration for his first All-Star berth.

"I've never been mentioned in any All-Star ballots, considering my typical first halves (he was a career .229 hitter in April and May before this season)," he said. "It would be neat. It would be a true honor."

Whether LaRoche is recognized by the rest of the baseball world or not, his teammates and coaches know very well what he's doing right now.

"He's been mighty big," Johnson said.

"Mr. Clutch," Gonzalez added.

LaRoche, in his typical, laid-back, country-boy manner, shrugs it all off. He's never been one to seek the spotlight or the admiration of fans.

Nor is one to say I told you so to anyone who was ready to dump him over the winter.

"I don't think that's his personality," Desmond said. "I think he understands the game. He's been around the game his whole life, literally. I think he came back, and if anything, he wanted to fulfill his contract and not necessarily repay the organization, but show the organization that he's going to fulfill his contract and play well and make it worth their money."

As the season nears the quarter-pole, the Nationals are more than getting their money's worth out of LaRoche.

Eight million dollars for an MVP candidate? Not a bad price by today's standards.

102 comments:

Theophilus T. S. said...

The Nats should pick up the option for next year, then rewrite his deal for the two years after that.

No way they're going to improve over what LaRoche is doing at 1B, inside the organization or out.

peric said...

LaRoche currently has a wOBA of .427 that is elite level. His pRAA of 12.4 is the highest for the Nats. This is the very best he's done in over 3 years. Its kind of an outlier. Its almost as if he and Zim swapped places hitting wise.

Corky said...

Loving every minute of LaRoche's success. G Y F N G!

Theophilus T. S. said...

"Outlier" -- maybe. But what it says, at a minimum, is that his career norms of, say, .275 and 80-100 RBIs are not a fluke and that he can be counted on to produce, and defend, for the next several years.

Scott from Burke said...

He has been fantastic with the bat..and glove. I hope he rakes vs. the O's all weekend.

JaneB said...

Every time I think of a different Nat, I think, "oh, THAT guy is my favorite." But Gio's joy and ALR's bat and humbleness keep rising to the top. I'm jealous of all who got to see ALR meet this milestone tonight...not to mentions the milestones for Nady and Gio, too! GYFNG,

Gonat said...

Theophilus T. S. said...
The Nats should pick up the option for next year, then rewrite his deal for the two years after that.

No way they're going to improve over what LaRoche is doing at 1B, inside the organization or out.

May 17, 2012 12:22 AM
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The Nats have plenty of time to excercise that option. It still amazes me how cruel this game is that their were people who comment here who were ready to dump this guy for a bag of balls.

Gonat said...

Anonymous said...
Laroche sucks. He is awful. I called this earlier on here and was criticized. Now what do you think. As soon as Morse is healthy we should platoon Laroche and DeRosa.

April 05, 2012 3:09 PM
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Gonat said...Typical dbag comment. First game and you already have stupidity like this. His walk in the 8th kept that inning going and loaded the bases that led to the tying run.

April 05, 2012 6:15 PM

Gonat said...

How funny, I was the only one sticking up for Adam LaRoche back on Opening Day. People were already calling him LaDouche.

Gonat said...

Mick said...
Ryan Z should have 2 HR's, LaDOUCHE simply SUCKS, and Jayson is WerthLESS. Same old fing Nats

April 05, 2012 3:47 PM
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Definitely one of the better Opening Day rants. Even some idiot named gonats (Not me) with dumb comments.

Glad we have this new non-anonymous system.

Gonat said...

NatsBrat said...
Take that, that, that, & that--3 hits, and a ribbie!!!

All the Desi Haters need to sit down and shut-up!

Gooooooooooooo Desi!

Gooooooooooooooooooooooooo Nats!!!!!

April 05, 2012 6:53 PM
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Gonat said...
Don't worry, the haters all crawled for cover when the lights came on! They are like cockroaches. They will crawl back out in the dark moments.

April 05, 2012 7:25 PM

Gonat said...

I love the old posts. Some thought after tonight's game I was a pessimist. I am a Kool-Ade drinker but also a realist that when I see things, I will say it. Glad I was there to have LaRoche's back, Desi's back, Werth's back, Bernadina's back, etc.

I guess no team is perfect. No team's fanbase is perfect.

Dryw Loves the Nats said...

JaneB, I'm completely with you on having multiple favorite Nats! I get happy about pretty much every guy on the team--in fact, I think it might just be easier to say that the Nats are my favorite Nat. And I felt that way BEFORE we started all this fun winning stuff.....

Joe Seamhead said...

Well, Gonat, you won't find a negative quote regarding ALR anywhere from me. I consistently have said his glove alone made the pitchers better and letting Dunn walk was one of the best moves Rizzo ever made. I am so happy for Adam for the start that he's off to.

NatsLady said...
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natsfan1a said...
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NatsLady said...

First off, congrats to ALR. Big supporter here, always was because I love me some great defense. When people here were saying how great Morse was at first base I was shaking my head. But I didn't know about the bat!! What a nice guy, too, everyone says that, and you could see it in the interview.

NOW:
Hey, guys, how about my man Clip? Not only does Davey have Mattheius warming up behind Henry, but he sends Clip out there with a 4-run lead in the 8th to take care of the big boys. Too bad he gave up the run (he looked mad at himself for that) but McCutchen was being McCutchen. And, lo, Henry gets the bottom of the order. Not by accident, in my book.

natsfan1a said...

Yeah, kinda like some are with Henry. Loved Davey's postgame comments on him last night.

Was happy for ALR, and I'll also send some glove love his way. I'm not one to chest thump over past comments, but I wasn't busting on him either. I don't tend to do that, generally, at least with Nats. (Oh, and take that, Pirates fans. Our fans made up for your boos, big time. ;-))

It still amazes me how cruel this game is that their were people who comment here who were ready to dump this guy for a bag of balls.

natsfan1a said...
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natsfan1a said...

If memory serves, SS had some trouble with the bottom of the Padres order on Tuesday. One can play that either way. I'm just saying.

Section 215 Row A said...

Let me among the first to admit I had grave concerns about ALR this year. With his history of slow starts and having missed almost all of 2011...I expected his slowest start EVER. I could not be happier to be proven SO wrong!

jeeves said...

Sometimes it is hard to get respect. Of course, LaRoche has been nothing short of terrific. But Kilgour said this morning that he has been the sole offensive contributor. Well, other than LaRoche Desi leads the Nats in practically every offensive category. He leads in total bases (is even ahead of LaRoche), has the most runs, is second to LR in RBI's. As well, only six other players in all the NL have more total bases. His overall offensive stats are better than any shortstop in the NL not named Furcal or Castro. Granted he has too many errors, but no more than Reyes and not as many as Tulo and Castro. (I'm not counting the umpire mistake). It seems that every time the Nats offensive gets going, Desi is in the middle of it. As to the OBA, well...that's another story.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

May 17, 23-14, back in soul possession of first place, NL East.


What's exactly not to like?

Put me in the camp that sez extend ALR's contract now. And I guess then we can officially put Chris Marerro in the Larry Broadway circular folder.

320R2S15 said...

That was pretty cool. Now if we could get one more guy going, either Danny or Ryan, just think about it, with our pitching. Shut up Billy, have another Strasberger... some folks on here confuse hate with passion.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

I just going to throw this out there: I believe the Nats infield defense is among the top three or four in the game. ALR and Zimm no question are the best at their positions. Espi is nearly flawless at 2B. And Desi, for all the heat that he gets here, is perfectly adequate at SS and makes more spectacular plays than most (even though he will still boot the occasional routine play).

Repeat after me, people: Pitching and defense win games in the post-steroid era. We scratch out a run here and there and hope the Big Four (and Det/Wang/whoever) can make it hold up.

Theophilus T. S. said...

There was an alternate Davey in front of the microphone last night. Claimed he didn't say anything in particular to inspire Henry's confidence, just dialed him up out of the bullpen and put him in the game -- and further that that's all he does to express confidence in any player -- just writes the name in the lineup.

This completely contradicts previous press conferences and stories by Mark and others. My conclusion is Johnson was choosing between untruths. He could have said what he has claimed about others, "I pumped him up and told him to hang in there, nothing was changing, you'll get your chance," etc. But, truth be told, I don't think he said that to Henry. I think Davey's conversation with Henry, or the message relayed by McCatty to Henry, was something like, "Son, you're skating on a very thinly frozen pond. Now get your head back in the game."

The outcome was fine; Henry was unnerved by Desmond's fox pass but got an at-em ball at the end. Neither his velocity nor his command seemed particularly great. But he didn't fall in love with the breaking ball and everything worked out. Baby steps, baby steps.

TimDz said...

Meanwhile....
Prince flailed at ball thrown to him by the third baseman...then threw a box of bubble gum in the dugout ...
ALR would have made that pick with ease...

TimDz said...

So glad the team passed on Fielder...in retrospect, Prince was the flashy sports car....well...flashy Hummer...that we wanted...
ALR is the reliable minivan that we pretty much took for granted ...

baseballswami said...

I will gladly confess that I had my doubts about ALR - not his skills or reputation. I just thought that the very long time without playing would cause him to be rusty. I thought he might have a great second half. Here's to being totally wrong!!! I don't mind at all.

NatsLady said...

Just looked at the HBP Rhymes got in the 8th inning of the TB-Boston game. He stayed in the game but passed out a few minutes later and was carted off the field.

(Definitely not intentional, btw, the guy was just all over the place.) Anyone who doesn't think getting hit by a pitch isn't serious is NUTS. Meanwhile the announcers says nine TB guys are on the DL and they are emptying their farm system bringing kids up. Where, O where, have I heard that?

Report on Rhymes is he's ok.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

Don't forget LaROche is a slow starter. So once he starts to get hot in June and July, the sky is the limit.

whatsanattau said...

Note to self: try not to make a virtue out of being a curmudgeon. and never write posts including the phrase "... I was the one ..." You probably were neither the first nor the only with whatever thought you may have had. (and even then, it might have just been gas).

natsfan1a said...

lol, whatsa!

MicheleS said...

TimDZ.. ALR is your trusty pick up truck (covered in dirt from making the picks at 1b).. no way is he a minivan ;-)

Scott from Burke said...

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said... Zimm no question (is) best at (his)position

zimm's arm is average at best and his glove is ok...no question? have you been watching the games?

Scott from Burke said...

These NL third basemen have made zero or one errors this year..and have not been injured this year: Placido Polanco, David Wright, David Freese, Hanley Ramirez

TimDz said...

That too, Michelle...

Maybe I should have written :

"Reliable (insert whimsical vehicle of choice) that we pretty much took for granted...

natsfan1a said...

Good call on ALR, MicheleS. Definitely a truck, not flashy or trendy and gets the job done.

Or if you prefer, Old School.

Gonat said...

Joe Seamhead, you have made some smart comments about ALR. The smart comments were the fair comments about a 100 RBI guy at 1st base is a good thing and that's what ALR has been when healthy plus you always get his great glove.

There were more LaDouche type of comments when the Nats were trying to get Fielder and people really did want to trade him for a bag of balls just to dump his salary.

MicheleS said...

So Svrluga is hosting the chat on WaPo today.. Let's pester him about the Nats...

NatsLady said...

Note to JFlo-- Don't do this!!!

Twins catcher Ryan Doumit landed on the disabled list because of a strained right calf after Wednesday night's 11-7 victory over the Tigers, and he appeared to hurt himself in celebration, after Brian Duensing recorded a key, seventh-inning strikeout.

natsfan1a said...

Good find, MicheleS. Have to catch up with in-house work and a couple of bids, so don't know that I'll get in there. Maybe you could ask the Blogfather a couple for me, too. :-)

ehay2k said...

Very happy for ALR. However, he still got off to his typical slow start - all of 2011! :-)

I still wonder if, as good as ALR is playing now, we wouldn't rather have Morse at 1b and a big bat and better arm in LF? Just seems like we have a lot of talent in the farm system that we could use, and ALR would be a big piece for a team needing a first baseman to make a run. (I don't know what teams would be looking, but injuries happen so even teams that are set now may be buyers later.)
All in all, it looks to me like a July trade is not very likely given the light of today. But it's also not out of the question, it really depends on how well Morse hits (and throws) when he comes back and how Rizzo and Davey want to handle the young guys.

And don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of ALR. I'm just thinking of the possibilities once Morse comes back. It is really nice that we have the depth where finally have options.

MicheleS said...

Ehay2k.. I think that Morse will be fine in LF. He might not have the ARM (but who does), but I think he can be average out there. I think when you see Ian and RZ winging it over to 1b, thats when you have to be thankful that ALR is over there. He just has more experience than Morse (not that Morse couldn't learn that, but he only has a part of last year at 1b where ALR has his entire career).

MicheleS said...

NatsLady.. I think i am sending boxes of bubble wrap for the catchers. Need to keep them safe and healthy.

hiramhover said...

Congrats to ALR on #1000! Count me among those very pleased with his hot start to 2012.

I would add a note of caution, tho:

His BABIP right now is crazy high--.405 for 2012, vs. .313 career. That's going to regress at some pt this season, and his other #s are going to come down. I think his performance will still be very strong on the season, but he can't keep this up--and those who think otherwise are setting themselves up for a big disappointment.

Gonat said...

With Bernadina back to a bench role when Morse returns and Ankiel to a bench role when Werth returns, there's your late inning defensive replacements for Morse's arm.

fast eddie said...

With the recent upsurge in hitting, the "Fire Eckstein" posts have virtually disappeared.
Someone asked who could replace him. Mickey Hatcher is immediately available after being fired by the Angels yesterday.
Rizzo refuses to discuss the issue. More importantly, the players seem to embrace Eck's individual approach, versus a one-size-fits-all philosophy of hitting.

MicheleS said...

Has anyone taken a look at the standings around the league?

The AL/NL east are the beasts. Which is what we thought - even though the order is looking out of whack (Mets/Orioles - who knew!)
The NL Central/West have lots of teams under .500.
Big disappointments: Tigers/Phillies (who cares)/Angels. And sooo happy we don't face the Rangers this year. Geesh that lineup is scary.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Gonat, enjoyable read. You have been a supporter of ALR and others.

On the other hand, you haven't been supportive of Henry but at least you don't make it personal.

I call it like I see it and you catch more resistance when you sail against the prevailing wind. Just be fair with your comments and try to back it up with fact/stats.

By the way, I'm not a Henry Rodriguez fan myself. I kind of thought he was being showcased for a trade. He's a one inning low stress performer who generally can't hit the catchers mitt.

TimDz said...

This is off topic, but I have a question about the weekend series against Baltimore:

FP said something about sitting in the bleachers This weekend (I believe he spoke specifically about Saturday)...Is he not calling the game? Are they doing something different? Or is the game featured on Fox?

MicheleS said...

TimDZ.. Game on Fox. Bob C and Billy Ripken will be your announcers..

NatsLady said...

The O's not going to be a pushover this year--for us or any team. But...

Oriole Post's Anthony Amobi, in guest blog, wonders why Camden Yards isn't packed.

http://masn.me/nkp5

Gonat said...

fast eddie said...
With the recent upsurge in hitting, the "Fire Eckstein" posts have virtually disappeared.
Someone asked who could replace him. Mickey Hatcher is immediately available after being fired by the Angels yesterday.
Rizzo refuses to discuss the issue. More importantly, the players seem to embrace Eck's individual approach, versus a one-size-fits-all philosophy of hitting.

May 17, 2012 9:23 AM
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Eck isn't going anywhere. We can all save our breath on that one. Eck is certainly one of the hardest working guys who is available 24/7 to the players. There is a lot of mutual respect between the players and Eck especially with Ryan Z.

Davey certainly has been to some of the guys a hitting mentor also which is giving the team 2 sets of eyes.

The results unfortunately have not been good overall however they have been improving of late (except RZim) which brings it back to, is it the student or the teacher?

NatsLady said...

Ghost, I also think Henry would be long gone in a trade if Storen hadn't gotten injured. Love his talent, not sure he has the "closer" mentality that Storen has, but bear in mind Storen was trained and drafted for that from day 1.

Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said...

And Gonat makes a key distinction between "not a fan of that guy, rather have this one" and "what a bum! Dump that loser!"; the former may be right or wrong, but you can easily say so in hindsight. Not a lot of posts expected saying "Yes, I called him everything but a Child of God, and I was wrong."

peric said...

Davey certainly has been to some of the guys a hitting mentor also which is giving the team 2 sets of eyes.

My understanding is that Davey IS ONE OTH REASONS Eckstein was selected? Uh people do you know who your manager is? And since this is his first year he had plenty of opportunity to switch batting coaches.

Still, I must admit I was partial to wondering if he might bring back his old friend Frank Howard who performed that duty for him with the Mets. "Turn on the fan!", Davey claimed he was fond of saying ....

Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said...

Storen was, in fact, a closer in college, so well before he was drafted.

NatsJack in Florida said...

TimDz.....the Saturday game is a Fox regional telecast. Carp and Billy Ripken are doing the broadcast.

peric said...

Ghost, I also think Henry would be long gone in a trade if Storen hadn't gotten injured. Love his talent, not sure he has the "closer" mentality that Storen has, but bear in mind Storen was trained and drafted for that from day 1.

Relievers that throw in triple digits and are wildly successful, if somewhat inconsistent are hard to come by. Henry's original role was setup/situational relief. Storen and Clippard can't do everything.

Rizzo would have to get a lot in exchange for Henry.

I am so glad Riggleman is gone, gone, gone! No more problems with players so that they had to be traded for minor league org filer (Nyjer Morgan).

JD said...

Theo,

Thank god for ALR. Without him we would be in serious trouble and he is performing above and beyond what anyone should have anticipated or expected coming off a serious injury.

On the other hand giving him a 2 year extension now is a Bowden move. It's like signing Dimitri Young and Belliard to 2 year extensions based on unexpected good results.

ALR is 32 so yuou say sign him now for 2 years taking him to age 35. While it is possible that he won't decline unsubstantialy it is more than likely that he will. Why not wait and see how the rest of the year plays out,pick up the option if it makes sense and the re evaluate again next year? where's the fire?

NatsLady said...

Sofa, yes, exactly. They knew that when they drafted him. It was unusual, and I remember the questions about "spending" a draft pick on a one-inning reliever.

Eugene in Oregon said...

Scott in Burke: I'm not going to argue that Ryan Zimmerman is the undisputed best third baseman in the NL. Fielding remains (and will likely always remain) the hardest baseball skill set to judge objectively and compare among players and across eras. All of the metrics used -- whether traditional or more advanced -- are suspect in one way or another. But errors are among the most suspect, measuring only one element (and a pretty subjective one, at that) of fielding. At this point, UZR is probably the best single measure -- and I'm not arguing it's perfect -- that anyone has come up with. It strives to captures both the positive and negative contributions a player makes. And UZR/150 then adjusts it for a full season for a fairer player-to-player comparison.

While Mr. Zimmerman may have more errors than the players you listed @8:26, he ranks higher than all of them except David Wright in UZR/150; in fact, Mr. Zimmerman ranks third in the NL so far this year. Hanley Ramirez -- while he may be avoiding errors -- is in negative numbers. David Freese -- while a good hitter -- is right in the middle of the pack when it comes to fielding.

As someone who does watch the Nats games (most of them, at least), as well as games played by other teams, my eyes and instincts -- as well as the meaningful numbers -- tell me that Mr. Zimmerman remains one of the top defensive third basemen in the NL, his hitting struggles notwithstanding.

NatsLady said...

peric, I agree. But when we were hunting around for outfielders, and all the relievers were healthy (remember those days?) I would bet Rizzo was thinking of getting something good for "good Henry."

natsfan1a said...

Seconded on the idea of being fair and not making things personal. I always think of that old saying about "I made a mistake" vs. "I am a mistake," only in the second or third person as applied to players. On the other side of things, sticking up for a player isn't necessarily about [player name] love but may be about brotherly love.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Gonat, enjoyable read. You have been a supporter of ALR and others.

On the other hand, you haven't been supportive of Henry but at least you don't make it personal.

I call it like I see it and you catch more resistance when you sail against the prevailing wind. Just be fair with your comments and try to back it up with fact/stats.

By the way, I'm not a Henry Rodriguez fan myself. I kind of thought he was being showcased for a trade. He's a one inning low stress performer who generally can't hit the catchers mitt.
May 17, 2012 9:30 AM

JD said...

Gonat,

I plead guilty to criticizing Desmond. What's more; I haven't changed my mind about him in the least. He's totally miscast as a leadoff hitter and his overall numbers are barely mediocre. Let's not go crazy over a strong week.

This is not hating; I root for Desmond every time he comes to bat; it's just an objective opinion based on objective data analysis.

natsfan1a said...

FP was in the bleachers for the ESPN game as well.

Gonat said...

Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said...
And Gonat makes a key distinction between "not a fan of that guy, rather have this one" and "what a bum! Dump that loser!"; the former may be right or wrong, but you can easily say so in hindsight. Not a lot of posts expected saying "Yes, I called him everything but a Child of God, and I was wrong."

May 17, 2012 9:44 AM
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To use a Gio term, positivity, was based on what LaRoche was prior to coming to the Nats where he would return to those Arizona type numbers and be a 100 RBI guy here (if healthy) and of course be a great glove around the bases.

Obviously it didn't happen in 2011 due to the injury, but the way people make it so personal with the name calling is just over the top.

NatsLady said...

Oh, people were really NASTY about LaRoche last year, saying he intentionally hid his injury to get the big contract, etc. etc. And when they weren't ripping on him, they were ripping on the medical staff for not diagnosing it sooner, letting him try to "play through it," etc. etc.

Steady Eddie said...

JD -- agree with the "no rush" in resigning ALR but disagree strongly with your "unexpected good results". As many have pointed out upthread, in other posts, and offseason, ALR's career numbers make this kind of hitting anything but "unexpected." Sure, he's on pace for more than those career numbers, but he's been a pretty streaky hitter generally so the odds are that he'll revert to HIS mean over the course of the season -- but ALR's mean is very solid. And similarly, RZim, Morse, and ultimately Werth (who was having a decent season before his injury) should reach their means and pick up any dropoff from ALR.

On the "no rush to resign", I agree because the Nats already have a team option for next year. Assuming no great dropoff, he'll likely be good for another 2-3 years after that -- but by that time, the Nats should be such a good team that ALR should be thrilled to take a fair contract for that period to be with a great team with great team chemistry.

The other part of that -- which also relates to how Prince is doing -- is that huge, to-the-end-of-career contracts seem to throw a wrench into the performance of almost everyone who gets them for the first year. Cases in point Pujols, Dunn, Fielder, Werth, Crawford... the better ones seem to pick up the second year but the psychological effect in the first year of the jump is unmistakeable. ALR strikes me as the kind of guy who'd rather stay with THIS team at, say, ~$12m/yr for 2-3 years rather than $14-15m/yr for 5 at an iffier team (in both performance and chemistry).

Gonat said...

JD said...
Gonat,

I plead guilty to criticizing Desmond. What's more; I haven't changed my mind about him in the least. He's totally miscast as a leadoff hitter and his overall numbers are barely mediocre. Let's not go crazy over a strong week.

This is not hating; I root for Desmond every time he comes to bat; it's just an objective opinion based on objective data analysis.

May 17, 2012 9:54 AM
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JD, fair enough. Up until last night, Desi went 5 straight games without swinging at the 1st pitch of the ballgame. Like magic 6 days ago, he worked the count to 2-1 and smashed a single.

Davey has publically said he wants him to be aggressive. There is also a mental side to being leadoff just like there is being a closer. I think Davey wants this mental burden on Desi so his #2 hitter can be more relaxed at the plate.

Given all that, a .300 OBP is 30 points at a minimum below where you would like to see your leadoff however Desi sports a nice .448 slugging percentage and say what you want about Desi, he is ahead of Jose Reyes in most stats and #6 in the MLB for all shortstops in Runs Created.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/batting/_/position/ss/sort/runsCreated/type/sabermetric

bowdenball said...

Something else worthy of praise:

The Nationals are 19th of 30 teams in attendance, better than their year-end finish every year since the park opened. Their per-game average is already higher than it was in any of those seasons, and school is still in session.

When you consider that they opened on the road and that only three of the 19 home games to date have been against an opponent who is a big attendance draw, I think that's really phenomenal. I would bet that after this weekend's series against the Orioles, a weekend series against the Braves, and visits from the Mets, Yankees and Rays, the Nats attendance picture will look very impressive.

I think that by June 22, that many members of the media will owe Nats fans an apology for their rush to judgment, just as many Nats fans owe Adam LaRoche an apology for their rush to judgment.

Theophilus T. S. said...

JD -- the "fire" for ALR is that, once you've exercised the option for 2013, an easy call, you have absolutely no hope of getting LaRoche to sign a one or a two-year deal. Granted he might start declining down the road but again he might not. I think a "sunk" year (2015) is worth making sure he is on board for 2014.

Who are the better FA 1Bs in 2014? Morse (at LaRoche's current age, so the same pro/con arguments apply); Morneau (a year older); Morales (history of injury). You wanna sign one of them to the 4-5 year deal (minimum) they will be insisting on?

Peric's man-crush on Skole notwithstanding, he's got two, maybe more years to serve in the minors, plus learn 1B. I.e., not ready in 2014. And there are no guarantees he'll continue to progress.

If the Nats are looking for a 1B in 2014, and they expect to continue to contend, I think LaRoche will be the guy -- and you shell out what's necessary (in years) to make sure you get him.

Or you see if Carlos Pena is looking for his fourth consecutive one-year deal -- not much of an option.

NatsJack in Florida said...

TimDz ... I apologize. I had this weekend confused with my trip next month for the Nats/Birds series ay Camden. THAT Saturdays game is the Fox broadcast.

I still think FP is off Satirday and Billy is fillong his spot.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Theo, keep in mind that the Nats have Morse under contract next year and a team option for LaRoche for next year.

No decisions have to be made for a while. Let the season play out and see where things look in September as you also need to factor in both these players ages and injury histories.

natsfan1a said...

You were right, NatsJack. This Saturday is a Fox broadcast.

bowdenball said...

Theophilus T.S.-

Many people think that by 2014/2015, Zimmerman will be playing 1B and Rendon will take his place at 3B.

Obviously there are question marks with respect to that plan too, but the good news is that the Nats have the time and the personnel that allow the club to take its time and learn the answers to those questions before it has to make a decision.

Theophilus T. S. said...

Mind, I'm not sure LaRoche would settle for a two-year extension. The "rational" (hopeful) view would be that he remembers the experience of being the Last Man Standing in the 2010 free agent season and decides it's better to take the short(er) deal offered by a team that wants him NOW.

natsfan1a said...

National broadcast schedule is here.

LoveDaNats said...

Slightly off topic but speaking of FP. I think he reads the blog and if so I just want him to know how much he has taught me about baseball this last year and a half. He takes the time to explain the why of pitch sequence, what the players are probably thinking and most of the time when he says, "this is what I would do", it happens. So, thank you FP for all of the great baseball wisdom you've handed out. And when will you take a turn at coaching?

Gonat said...

LoveDaNats, not only do I think they read the Blog, I think they have it up during the game as some of our comments like last night about Gio had only thrown 1 curveball in the 1st inning was mentioned shortly after it was posted.

Steady Eddie said...

Theo, your assumptions seems to be that every FA will hold out for the highest bidder. Generally but not universally true, because, especially at these ridiculous dollar levels, some players value "where I personally want to be and feel most comfortable (at great $)" over "whoever pays me most (regardless of how I feel about the place I'm leaving and the place I'm going)". DC exhibit A is RZim -- and regardless of the snarky comments some may make about his performance lately and even coming back from injury last year (he did start to pick up late), his market value in terms of what some team would be willing to pay is unquestionably higher than he got from the Nats.

Maybe I'm wrong, but ALR strikes me as the kind of guy who's comfortable in himself no matter what (and his demeanor this offseason sure supports that). If he's happy playing with a winning team with great chemistry (look at Morse's ambush of Nady last night -- is that fun or what?), he's smart enough to value that over the difference in $ between great and absurdly great.

NatsLady said...

Gonat, yes, and Desi likes the leadoff position, he fancies himself getting a single or double to start off the game right. Doesn't always happen, of course, but that's his mental image. Just like Storen wants to be the last man off the field, Desi wants to be the first man on it.

That may not suit us as fans, with our stats and images of what a leadoff hitter should be, but if it suits Desi and the team, then I'm for it.

SCNatsFan said...

I don't think you can blame Desmond for not being a lead off hitter; he's been thrust into that role and if he feels more comfortable hitting lower but leads off for the good of the team then how do you hold that against him.

I for one thought LaRoche would have a good year but never thought it would be like this and I'm on record in ST as saying that. He's been consistent thru his career so I don't know why he wouldn't return to the norm once his injuries healed.

NatsLady said...

SCNats, I would agree with you except I don't think Desi does feel more comfortable lower in the order. I think Espi does, especially when he's struggling but Desi's a bit of a showman and doesn't mind the spotlight.

Steady Eddie said...

NatsLady @ 10:38 -- very well put, concisely summarizes a lot of insight about Desi and the team.

To some degree Desi may also have put himself into (or further into) that mindset because Davey needed him to. Not the ideal leadoff hitter but unless you bench Espi and leadoff Lombo -- which is a lot of pressure on a rookie and isn't going to happen with Davey managing unless Espi totally fails to get his hitting game together -- who else do we have to lead off?

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

Nats' Lady I was not one who ripped ALR, but did rip the medical staff, and still do. Morse's situation a perfect example. Originally going to be a week then two, the mid June. Had they started the non baseball activities at first, the time would be over now.

Same for Storen. The problem started in late February to early March, and not taken care for another month. Done in a timely manner, he would be back in mid June.

Maybe someone who understand physiology better than me can tell me why in the last 5-10 years more oblique pulls and other things like that are occurring than back when I first started watching baseball in the early 60's. Is it because they do more weight training. If so maybe we need to do less of that.

T-Rex said...

Hilarious, 90% of the posters on this blog were calling for LaRoche's head and "Morse to First!."

What a fine bunch of baseball managers you all are.

MicheleS said...

TRex.. that's why we are fans/arm chair GM's... I think it's in the fan job description to question every decision made every second of the day.

Ann Ominous said...

Maybe someone who understand physiology better than me can tell me why in the last 5-10 years more oblique pulls and other things like that are occurring than back when I first started watching baseball in the early 60's.

There were just as many of these injuries in the '60s. They just called them groin pulls back then. Think about it. In the '60s, everyone had a groin pull and you never heard about obliques. Now all you hear is obliques, and no one ever has a groin pull any more. And there wasn't any medical breakthrough like the polio vaccine that eradicated groin pulls, either. They just changed the name.

Theophilus T. S. said...

For what it's worth, I think Desmond likes the lead-off spot. He's a speed guy; he likes bunting for base hits; he likes stealing bases. He's a gap guy, extra base, put the pressure on the defense; not a real power hitter. Where else in the lineup would that set of skills be more useful? Possibly batting second but right now they've got a 6'3", 225# No. 2 hitter. What Desmond needs to do is learn to draw maybe one more BB per week. I think he'll do it, eventually.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsLady, well said on Desi. If we view him as a Shortstop instead of as a leadoff hitter, he is in the upper half offensively as a SS and #7 in runs scored and #8 in batting average and #16 in OBP.

Ian's OPS is 17 points above Troy Tulowitzki and 57 ahead of Jose Reyes.

Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said...

Hilarious, 90% of the posters on this blog were calling for LaRoche's head and "Morse to First!."

Well, maybe not quite 90%. Half that, maybe, though.

Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said...

There were just as many of these injuries in the '60s. They just called them groin pulls back then.

I thought the oblique muscles were in the side, around the ribs. Or are you just pulling our ... umm, leg?

Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said...

Also, in the pre-free-agent days, they were more likely to play through injuries, I am told, tho I don't have numbers, which should be available, come to think of it. SO somebody probably knows that one. Did they go on the DL more often after free agency, and thus higher salaries/greater investment on the club's part?

Gonat said...

Good discussion for Desi and I think NatsLady really nailed it.

It seemed everyone that tried the leadoff last year not only failed, they went into a slump immediately.

I still think that's what ruined Roger Bernadina's season last year because if you take out his leadoff ABs where he batted a horrible .209 and look at the rest of his ABs in other lineup spots, Bernadina had a BA of .319. Shocking, isn't it?

Its amazing what the mental mindset does to your game and Davey is a numbers guy which is why Bernadina has been batting 2nd and Desi has been taking one for the team at leadoff.

Gonat said...

Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said...
There were just as many of these injuries in the '60s. They just called them groin pulls back then.

I thought the oblique muscles were in the side, around the ribs. Or are you just pulling our ... umm, leg?

May 17, 2012 11:39 AM
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If thats the case, Ryan Zimmerman last Spring Training had the oblique issue and the groin pull.

Definitely 2 different injuries and these oblique injuries and all the muscle pulls are a matter of strength and conditioning especially in the core balance.

Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said...

LoveDaNats said ....

@LDN, I think FP has said he misses it, more than once.

And FP, if you're indeed reading this, please tell Bob to give "spit on it" (for taking a pitch) a rest. A little of that goes a long way.

Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said...

all the muscle pulls are a matter of strength and conditioning especially in the core balance.

particularly when you injure it by high-fiving people.

natsfan1a said...

I'll trade you an "good, old-fashioned country hardball" for a "spit on it." (Just kidding. I don't really mind any of the phrases, no matter how many times I hear them.)

And FP, if you're indeed reading this, please tell Bob to give "spit on it" (for taking a pitch) a rest. A little of that goes a long way.

SonnyG10 said...

I get this urge to lambast anyone harping on our medical staff, but then I read a comment like the one from Mischelle and all is well.

MicheleS said...
TRex.. that's why we are fans/arm chair GM's... I think it's in the fan job description to question every decision made every second of the day.

May 17, 2012 11:07 AM

natsfan1a said...

In the interest of balanced reporting, plenty of folks had good things to say about ALR a few days after the negative posts that were pulled from the archives and pasted above.

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