Monday, July 2, 2012

Conducting himself like an All-Star



Bryce Harper hasn't played like an All-Star for the last three weeks. Since homering in Toronto on June 12 and then uttering his now famous "Clown question, bro" quote, he's hitting just .205 with one homer, three RBI, 20 strikeouts and a .558 OPS.

Harper may not have played like an All-Star during that time, but he's sure conducted himself like one.

As more and more attention is thrust upon him, and as the Nationals become one of the most-compelling teams in baseball, Harper continues to be tested off the field. And he continues to pass every single test.

He could've snapped at that reporter who asked him what kind of beer he would drink after homering in Canada. Instead, he displayed both maturity and snark with his perfect response that created an instant catch-phrase used even by the majority leader of the U.S. Senate.

Harper could have made a major faux pas when the Yankees came to town and said something that indicated his desire to someday play for his favorite team growing up. Instead, he kept his focus on the Nationals, resisted the urge to hobnob around the batting cage with A-Rod and CC and Derek and eventually professed his desire to spend his entire career in Washington.

And when MLB's All-Star teams were announced yesterday and Harper learned he was among five players on the "Final Vote" ballot, he could have bragged about his own case for a ticket to Kansas City. Instead, he repeatedly insisted the retiring Chipper Jones should win the vote.

"He should have already been in the All-Star Game, no matter what," Harper said following yesterday's 8-4 win in Atlanta. "He's an All-Star and has been an All-Star for 20 years. I think Chip should be there and ... if I had to vote, Chip's going."

Talk about knowing the right thing to say. Harper couldn't have handled that sticky situation any better. Would he like to be an All-Star at 19? Absolutely. But he understands there will be plenty more opportunities to play in the Midsummer Classic before his career ends, and he understands this is Jones' last opportunity to do it.

It's that kind of humility and respect for the game that has made Harper so popular among both his teammates and his contemporaries. Shoot, even Cole Hamels said he voted for the guy he intentionally plunked two months ago on his All-Star ballot.

"19 years old," left-hander Gio Gonzalez said. "That says it all."

Fans have until 4 p.m. Thursday to decide whether to vote for Harper, Jones or the other three NL players on the ballot (Michael Bourn, Aaron Hill, Aaron Freese). Harper's teammates say he's worthy of a spot on the roster.

"I think he's got a pretty good chance," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "Obviously he's a fan favorite everywhere he goes. Even though they boo him, I know they still love him."

Truth be told, a quiet vacation in mid-July might be more valuable to Harper than a whirlwind few days in Kansas City. He's been dealing with some lower back soreness for several weeks. He's struggled at times at the plate. The physical and mental grind of his first big-league season might be starting to take its toll.

Asked yesterday if he thinks Harper has a shot to win the final vote, manager Davey Johnson replied: "Yeah, I do, but I hope not. I hope he gets the rest. I've been playing him everyday, every inning. I hope he gets the rest."

Harper didn't necessarily disagree with his skipper.

"It'd be great," he said of an All-Star selection. "I think it'd be a lot of fun to be out there around guys like that and stuff. But taking some time off and going home for four or five days, I think, would be good also."

As has so often been the case since he arrived in the big leagues, Harper keeps saying all the right things.

100 comments:

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

I said 3 1/2 weeks ago before the buzz started on Bryce that I thought he could be an All Star with the caveat that he had to keep up his numbers.

He was in the Top 8 to 12 in almost every outfielder offensive stat including the all important OPS and RC+ stats.

Now he has dropped off to the Top 20. Should he be an All Star? Sure, why not since there are so many that make it based on the 1 player from each team format.

baseballswami said...

So we thought we were getting a potentially great baseball player, especially hitter, who might be a loose cannon personally and who might make a lot of mistakes in the field and have trouble adjusting to the majors.Turns out that what we get is a smart baseball player, who respects the game, plays for the team and is a better person than he is a player. That's what I call the bonus plan. It also sounds like the Nationals were the right team for him to come to as far as guys who are of similar character, don't have ego problems and who accept him and take care of him. Can you imagine if he had gotten drafted by a team like the Marlins? The Nats seem like the right environment for him to grow up in. Good fit both ways.

Doc said...

Nice write Mark.

Even if he doesn't know about Canadian beer laws, Harpss is still a good person. I particularly liked it when the Canadian fans supported him in Toronto. They responded to his aggressive play.

Toronto fans like it when baseball players play like hockey players.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

The kid has said he wants to be a Nats player for his entire career, and has said he will move here, in the DC area, permanently. That makes him an All-Star, regardless of whether or not he makes it this go-round. He will have plenty of AS appearances, and all of them will be as a Nat.

He likes the Nats' fans, his teammates, and the organization. Says a lot about both him and the Nats, too. He sometimes acts like a 19-year-old, but hey, that's what he still is. But he is already a team leader, just because he makes every play like it is his last.

And his appreciation for Chipper is classy.

LoveDaNats said...

The words "classy" and "19 years old" don't usually go together but not in Harper's case. We hit the jackpot on that one.

JamesFan said...

The kid is perfect in his personal comments. He's right. Chipper should be voted in before him. He has very mature.

Candide said...

So everyone who's commented above about how mature Harper is, is going to vote for Chipper, right...?

(...ducks, runs...)

Theophilus T. S. said...

I hope Jones goes. Lots of players, e.g., Ripken, went long past their prime. Jones, albeit w/ DL time, has put up top-of-the game nos. Apart from that, there is the irony that Jones is the player who reminds most people of Harper. Outstanding skills, teammate and person. Who wouldn't be happy if Harper turned out to be Chipper Jones (w/ a little more power)? Shouldn't Jones go to the All-Star game to usher in the era of Bryce Harper? So next year Buck/McCarver will say, "Bryce Harper reminds me of Chipper Jones?"

NatsLady said...

Kid is a walking PR machine. Not that there is anything wrong with it, just, um, not buying everything he's selling... You've heard the words, "too good to be true"?

Theophilus T. S. said...

NatsLady -- Until proven otherwise, you've got to take everything he says at face value. You can't enjoy it unless you own it. If some day he goes LaBron or Strawberry on you, then you can be upset. Until then, assume that this is too good to be a script.

NatsLady said...

Nats consistently ranked No. 3 in the MLB power rankings of various sites (MLB, ESPN, etc.). Seems right, for now.

There was some semi-intelligent baseball (Nats) talk on ESPN 980 this morning. Commentary about Davey's motive for leaving SP's in too long (Gio, Det, maybe you could include EJax). SP's not efficient, Gio 114 pitches for only 5 innings, etc. The one weakness of the staff, which will wear out the bullpen if not improved. Davey needs SP's to go 7 and 8 more often, so he is pushing them. Did not feel it was necessarily that Davey couldn't spot when SP's were tired/should come out, just doesn't want to give in to it. So there you are, baby steps ESPN980, baby steps.

NatsLady said...

Theo, I am enjoying it. Don't think he's Darryl Strawberry by any means and LaBron is doing his level best not to be "LaBron." However, I'm not ready to get out the oil and anoint him St. Bryce--yet. I hope twenty years from now he can look back on a Chipper-type career and have the respect Chipper has.

NatsLady said...

But, it is a script, right down to him donating the proceeds from his beer-label to a lady cop in Denver and a pickup game of softball near the Washington monument. A good script, maybe a script with a lot of truth and insight into Bryce's character, but a script nevertheless.

Section 222 said...

If the powers that be want Chipper to be there, they should name him honorary captain as someone here suggested, not stick him in the last man standing ballot and hope the fans are sentimental enough to vote him in. His numbers are good, but the guy has only 154 ABs, compared to 331 for Bourn, 283 for Hill and 272 for Freese. Even Harper has 223 ABs. The guy who's really getting screwed is Bourn, whose teammate is going to get all the Braves fans' votes.

It wouldn't surprise me if Freese squeaks by given his name recognition from the World Series heroics. I'm not convinced that the teen age girl factor is going to be all that significant for Harper. Last year, I thought Morse deserved the recognition, and did a lot of voting. This year, I can't say the same for Harper. Not over the other choices.

Feel Wood said...

Candide said...
So everyone who's commented above about how mature Harper is, is going to vote for Chipper, right...?

(...ducks, runs...)


Doesn't matter. Once again, LaRussa is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. He knows he will need to make at least one injury replacement to the team, so he has things set up perfectly. Either Harper or Chipper will surely win the last-man fan vote, so LaRussa can choose the other one as the injury replacement. That way LaRussa is not the one who made the tough choice between young phenom and future Hall of Famer, it was the fans who made that choice. And if for some reason either Chipper or Harper doesn't poll well with the fans, LaRussa is under no pressure to choose that guy as the injury replacement. Even if he should decide to choose someone else (like Freese, for instance) LaRussa still comes out looking good. He can claim that the fans indicated that either the phenom or the legend was not All-Star worthy, not him. The man is not going to be a first ballot Hall of Fame manager for nothing.

JT said...

If Harper wants Chipper to go over him, so be it, I'll help him out. Natituder

JD said...

BTW,

Sandoval over Wright?

Melky Cabrerra over Bourne?

Furcal over Desmond?

This is why you shouldn't let the fans pick the starting team.

Greinke and Cueto not on the team ?

Is the NL trying to win?

Theophilus T. S. said...

Nats Lady --

I don't want to be argumentative but not everything was a script. The Denver beer thing was someone from Boras's office; the softball thing maybe Boras or maybe (but unlikely) Nats FO. But Boras doesn't have a microchip behind Harper's ear that synthesizes speech every time a microphone is turned on w/in a five-foot radius.

Nobody scripted his sluff-off of the Hamels incident, Toronto, or his comments about Jones. His instincts are genuine, candid and amazingly attuned to fans who want somebody to admire.

Maybe it's because he's young and uncalloused. Maybe, looking at the long Kilgore piece, it's because he's young and has no peer group, no narcissitic knuckleheads on the roster, by necessity learning his baseball lessons from lifers like LaRoche and Ankiel who may have holes in their talent but not in the way they approach the game.

This reinforces the model that Rizzo and Johnson have created: Emphasis on character as much or more than talent, steady hand at the wheel, no drama. (To take a rough example, ship H. Rodriguez out so no one is pouting in the clubhouse.) Harper, in his unique situation, couldn't have picked a better organization in which to come up. (Hopefully Giolito is paying attention.)

Section 222 said...

Well put Theo. There's a difference between a staged event (softball game, beer proceeds) and off the cuff interview comments. Sure he's mastered the "just giving 110%, honored to be here, all about the team, blah blah blah" stuff, and he's undoubtedly getting training from the team and Boras, but his instincts appear to be perfect. And thank goodness for that because a microphone's going to be shoved in front of his face after every game for hopefully the next 15-20 years.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Not to pile on, but intrigued. By "script" you're saying it's planned, and he was coached for this outside-the-lines part of his life, is that right?

This is the first I'm hearing that the softball on the Mall was anything but him showing up on his own, accidentally, so maybe I'm not paying as much attention; as a PR plan, that strikes me as counter-intuitive (headline from hell: 'Harper hurt playing softball, out 6-8 weeks'), but if you know it to be so, OK.

But really, I would hope he gets a great deal of Crash Davis-type advice on this type of stuff. He's going to need it. If that advice is really good, and he's as coachable off the field as he seems to be on it, that's aces. And as Theo points out, much of it has to be spontaneous. The kid is a natural at self-branding. Some people just get it, and he's one of them. I bet he eventually becomes an accomplished, articulate public speaker, someday, too.

mick said...

Lost power shortly after Morse HR on Friday and still as of now do not have it! PEPCO and their CEO's suck!

Any way, with that off my chest, here is my take from the weekend... first off, what better PR for baseball than too have both Chipper and Bryce as All Stars!! The old great old school player Chipper with the new generation old schooler, Bryce, this would be great pub for MLB and a win win!!

Wang is done, I love davey but i I fear he at times does not havea feel on when to take pitchers out, Det on Friday, Wang, Sat and Gio yesterday.

that said, Ryan Z, as I said last week, forgive us, we know not what we boo, lol

still trying to figure out why Mets are still in this, they looked awful verse Dodgers last night... when Werth comes back and with Storen and Tracy back is the sky the limit for the Nats?

did i already say Pepco sucks?? lol

NCNatsie said...

Harper is either sincere, mature or both. Yes, there's some training involved from Boras, the Nats, perhaps someone else. But Theo's right --some of it is w/o teleprompter.

Sincere 19 year olds blurt out what they're really thinking. Mature celebrities understand the ramifications of their comments, and know what the right thing to say is.

If being Bryce means being both, so much the better.

smurff said...

NatsLady said there was some semi-intelligent baseball (Nats) talk on ESPN 980 this morning...

You must have been listening to Al Galdi, who is covering for Kornheiser. He is actually pretty good. He does a show on Saturdays 0900-1200. One of the better sportscasters that they have.

mick said...

Galdi's a Prep guy, Hoya Saxa, lol!

Feel Wood said...

I bet he eventually becomes an accomplished, articulate public speaker, someday, too.

He will need to lose the "whatnots", though.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Hence "eventually." He's not there now, fer shure.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsLady said...
Gio 114 pitches for only 5 innings, etc. The one weakness of the staff, which will wear out the bullpen if not improved. Davey needs SP's to go 7 and 8 more often, so he is pushing them.


Gonat brought up Gio's pitch chart and the fact of his curve ball not being used much.

It got me thinking that he is spot on and that is probably the issue. I started doing some research and the numbers are startling.

-4.82 H/B -7.38 V/B 20 pitches 9 strikes / 45.00% strike % Yesterday

-7.12 H/B -9.85 V/B 30 pitches 21 strikes/ 70.00% strike % 4/17/2012

What that tells you is the break on the ball is considerably off and he isn't throwing it for a high amount of strikes and he is using it much less. On April 17th, Gio went 7 innings and threw only 91 pitches. He threw the curveball 32.9% of the time on April 17th vs. 18.4% yesterday.

This should be of concern as Gio needs an effective breaking pitch and he doesn't throw a slider.

This may explain the longer innings and the nibbling with the fastball.

I'm very surprised that no beat writer has explored this in great detail.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NCNatsie said...
Harper is either sincere, mature or both. Yes, there's some training involved from Boras, the Nats, perhaps someone else. But Theo's right --some of it is w/o teleprompter.

Sincere 19 year olds blurt out what they're really thinking. Mature celebrities understand the ramifications of their comments, and know what the right thing to say is.

If being Bryce means being both, so much the better.

July 02, 2012 1:31 PM


In season top athletes have the camera and microphone on them more than famous actors.

I was impressed with what Bryce said. If it was orchestrated showmanship, I don't know. If it was 100% sincere, I'm blown away. Either way, the haters will continue to bash him because that's what haters do.

jcj5y said...

Excellent research by Ghost of Steve M. I had thought that Gio wasn't using his curve as much or as effectively has he had been at the start of the season. This is definitely something that should be the subject of further inquiry.

That said, if you'd told me at the beginning of the year that Gio would struggle with curveball command for a period of 3-4 starts, I'd have said he gets killed in those starts. His fastball and change are way better than I ever realized.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

jcj5y, thanks. Gio had a rough start on May 11th where he threw a season high 115 pitches in 5 innings but rebounded. There is just a large divide between all the starts before that and all the starts since with the use of the curveball.

Keep in mind though that if I know this, the scouts know this and the coaches and players know this. His curveball was his put-away pitch.

Now he is relying on his fastball which is good, but not great like Strasburg's or Verlander's. He is throwing much too many pitches per inning and getting into too many 3-2 counts because he is biting on the fringes with fastballs and many of them are just being fouled off.

There is something clearly wrong here. Rizzo paid for a pitcher with the best curveball in the Majors. If Gio can't throw his great curveball he needs to develop a slider for his arsenal of pitches.

Candide said...

Regarding the "scripting" business: Is it just possible that he's been taught how to behave since the day he was born? From what I read about his family, they're loving and supportive, but also disciplinarians. There was an episode when he was in HS or college, where he started ripping his teammates in the dugout. His father went into the dugout himself and gave him a dressing-down in front of his teammates.

Mickey Mantle - to whom Harper is often compared - was my boyhood hero. His father kept him in line as he was growing up and was a good, strong influence on him while he was in the minors. Unfortunately, he died when Mickey was about Harper's age, maybe a tiny bit older. And in the days of prop airplanes, trunk-line long-distance phone calls, and no email, Mickey probably saw and heard a lot less from his family in 1952 than Harper does today. And instead of having a bunch of sheltering, protective teammates to make sure he stayed out of trouble, he had Whitey Ford and Billy Martin taking him out to get drunk every night. There's a photo (I can't find it...) of Mantle and Martin playing poker and a grinning Mickey holding a revolver in the shocked Martin's face.

Parents make a difference.

jcj5y said...

I have to assume that Gio will "find" his curveball again, hopefully sooner rather than later. In the meantime, if he can battle through by being more aggressive with the fastball and using the curve more as a show pitch, he should be OK.

What I mean is that Gio has gotten him in trouble at times the past few games by throwing the curve when he's behind in the count (1-0, 2-0 and 2-1) instead of challenging with the fastball. Batters are taking curves in those counts. If you can throw the curve for a called strike, it's a great weapon. If you can't, it's a recipie for a higher pitch count.

I'd like to see Gio save the curve for times when he's trying to get batters to chase, at least until he can get the command back where it should be.

NatsLady said...

Please, I'm not hating on Harper. I think it's a mix of "script" and his own character. After all, he bashed his head spontaneously.... Seems to me that Kilgore did a good job interviewing Harper's family, and the "Pop I just want to go home" (meaning DC) probably did come out of his mouth. Personally, there's nothing wrong with script or cliches. I don't care that much about it, where he lives, etc. I care how he does on the field, and--a little--just a little--how he does in the clubhouse and that he doesn't do dangerous or illegal stuff off the field. Beyond that, you are getting into paparazzi territory.

Drew said...

Love the kid. I hope he does stay here and he makes 20 All-Star teams. This time I voted for Chipper.

Hear hear on Rizzo's emphasis on character as well as talent.

It's a lot more fun to root for this team without knuckleheads like LoDuca and Dukes.

NatsLady said...

Tim Kurkjian just said the Nats are the favorite to go the WS...unreal.

Section 215 Row A said...

Nats Lady! Do you have a link to that? I think Kurkjian is a wise baseball man. I want to revel...

JD said...

Ghost,

Having said all that about Gio he is still 3rd in the NL with a 2.9 WAR tied with Dickey and behind only Greinke and SS. his K to BB ratio is 10.5 to 3.5 per 9 innings and he gives up 0.38 HR per 9 innings; this is close to Cy Young stuff.

We would all like him to be more efficient that he has been lately but as you pointed out he is having some trouble locating his curve ball lately which forces him to be finer with his fast ball (otherwise he'll get clobbered). This happens to pitchers occasionally and if the talent is there he will work it out.

Still and all he is 11 - 3 and always keeps us in the game. As a frame of reference JZIM is at 1.3 WAR his K to BB ratio is about 6 to 2 per 9 innings and he gives up 1 HR per 9 innings; very good but not nearly as good as GIO.

NatsLady said...

Here is the link to the ESPN audio of Kurkjian.

ESPN audio

http://www.stationcaster.com/player_skinned.php?s=65&c=428&f=602391

NatsLady said...

Speaking of character, Johnny Cueto's agent is threatening to appeal because TLR didn't chose him for the All-Star Game. You have to read up on the history, but, bottomline, Cueto is somewhat of a punk.

I suspect the Kid is torn about the ASG. He's young enough to be excited about going, but smart enough to know he needs a rest and family time.

will-johnny-cueto-appeal-all-star-snub

http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/eye-on-baseball/19463969/will-johnny-cueto-appeal-all-star-snub

baseballswami said...

I think what we are seeing is one of the first major league players to grow up with facebook and twitter and constant media attention as part of life. It is also apparent that he has a strong family unit and it sounds like strong coaching , too. He doesn't know anything different than being the youngest kid on the team and having people watching his every move. Kilgore's piece was masterful and really captured a kid in a man's world. He is an equal on the field, but off the field he is alone. He doesn't really have peers. I do think he has been sheltered because all he has done is play baseball, and I think the Nats are watching out for him, too.Again - I am so glad for him that he ended up in our classy organization. I admire all the guys on our team as people for how they handle themselves.

jcj5y said...

JD--
I don't think anyone is down on Gio (I'm certainly not). I'm just trying to figure out what's been different over his past several, less effective, starts. Overall, I've been blown away by how good he is. In particular, I can't believe how hard he throws. I do not think his fastball would get pounded if he threw it more frequently in fastball counts. He's sitting 92-93 and can get up to 95-96. I think David Price is the only lefty starter who consistently throws harder than that.

Section 215 Row A said...

Thanks, Nats Lady. Awesome!

JD said...

jcj5y,

I thought that some of the comments yesterday during the game were a bit harsh; he was pitching in 120 degree heat against a very deep lineup and he gave up exactly 1 run through 5 tough innings. I thought Davie gambled on the 6th inning and lost and I think he knows it. Watching the game I thought we'd go Matheus, Stammen, Burnet and Clip.

JD said...

jcj5y,

Gio also threw about 12 strikes in a row to Simmons and he kept fouling them off. Sometimes you gotta tip your cap.

NatsFanJim said...

Harper is somewhat scripted, so are they all.

Just listen to all the interviews; 95% of them say the same things: "I'm just happy to get the win; God willing we'll get the win tomorrow. I'm just glad to be here; this is a great bunch of guys" etc ect ad-nauseum.

Watch the scene in Bull Durham when Costern's characer is schooling La Rouche (sic?) on how to answer questions without saying anything, and especially not to say anything controversial. This stuff is really adhered to.

Yes, it's mostly scripted -- there are some wonderful exceptions, though: Ozzie Guillen anyone?

jcj5y said...

I didn't read the comments yesterday. I don't think any harsh comments were justified. Leaving Gio in was a questionable decision, but not completely indefensible at the time. I'm talking about more of a big picture issue with curveball command.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

Natslady, et. al.

Bryce spends a lot more time with his teammates than he does with Scot Boras, or any other cynical manipulator. Only 3 other Nats live in the DC area. No way he moves here unless he wants to. When Werth was here, the kid planted himself next to Jason in the dugout. Now its Ankiel, since Werth is injured.

He is being schooled by solid pros who give it everything they've got, and who are glad to mentor a kid like Bryce, who actually listens, and learns. I think Bryce said he had been discussing aggressive base-running with Werth just prior to his stealing home on Hamels.

Sure, there was the bat incident, and he has shown a flash of temper on several occasions. He's 19. Stop pretending that kid is as cynical as you are. He isn't. Baseball is his life, and he wants to do it the right way. Maybe, some day, that will change. Right now, appreciate the kid for what he is.

Maurymania said...

Does anyone know what happens to the pitching rotation when we come back from the All-Star game? As I figure it, Ejax, Det, Stras-against the Giants, then the weekend of Gio, Zim, and Ejax against the Rockies. Then four days off, maybe with Gio and Stras each pitching an inning on Tuesday. So what happens after four days off? Do we go with Stas? Or maybe Jzim, and go from there? Advise please

Section 222 said...

Ok, I don't get this. Can someone explain? -- The new CBA says if you're a pitcher named to the team, you have to play unless you're injured or you started on Sunday so wouldn't have enough rest. If you started on Sunday, it's up to you whether to participate. If you do participate you're limited to one inning. If you're injured or choose not to participate, the manager gets to replace you. You're encouraged to go to the game, be introduced, etc. See page 72 of the CBA.

CC Sabathia is named to the team by the players. He gets to go, be recognized, etc, and the AL gets to replace him. Johnny Cueto isn't named by the players, but he has the 4th best ERA and the second best WAR in the NL. Yet La Russa says the reason he didn't pick him is that he started on Sunday -- meaning having him available for an inning, if he chose to participate, wasn't enough. That's not credible, and it sure seems like La Russa had some other grudge against him. I don't blame Cueto and his agent for being upset at all.

I have no idea whether he's a punk or what the history is, but regardless, he should be an All Star. And I have no idea whether the appeal has any chance of success, but it's certainly not a sign of lack of character that he's pursuing it.

JD said...

Maurymania,

You missed it by one: it's JZim,EJax and Det against the Giants and SS,Gio and JZim against the Rockies. so pretty much Davie can do whatever he wants for next Friday in Miami.

I would say he goes back to the top of the rotation unless they want to start getting creative re conserving some starts for SS.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Yes, it's mostly scripted -- there are some wonderful exceptions, though: Ozzie Guillen anyone?

To be fair, how *wonderful* Ozzie gets is a matter of taste.

JD said...

Sec 222,

To me the whole thing gets trivialized when a massive right in vote gets Sandoval to start over the obviously deserving Wright and Melky Cabrerra instead of Bourne and then this is compounded by the players and managers snubbing Greinke and Cueto.

What's the point?

Gonat said...

jcj5y said...
JD--
I don't think anyone is down on Gio (I'm certainly not). I'm just trying to figure out what's been different over his past several, less effective, starts. Overall, I've been blown away by how good he is. In particular, I can't believe how hard he throws. I do not think his fastball would get pounded if he threw it more frequently in fastball counts. He's sitting 92-93 and can get up to 95-96. I think David Price is the only lefty starter who consistently throws harder than that.

July 02, 2012 4:02 PM
________________________________

I think there may be something to this. There was a time when some of us were watching one of his starts and concerned he wasn't throwing his hook.

Clearly there is something to it. Sure, you can understand not throwing it in Colorado but why wasn't he getting the break in Atlanta? Are you telling me it was the heat?

baseballswami said...

About Gio's outing - Simmons broke him with that 14 pitch at-bat. I knew it at the time it was happening. He and Strassie are just going to use up a lot of pitches as long as people can't make contact. That guy makes contact a million times ala the Yankees. That's how they worked our starters. Our hitters need to observe and imitate. Tyler Moore has done that a few times. It just wears out starting pitchers. As for Cueto - I don't know if he is a punk or not, but Dusty Baker has been involved in way too many ugly incidents for my taste. He said some completely inappropriate things during the Derek Lowe incident a few weeks ago. Things mlb tv wouldn't even air they were so bad. Yesterday they had some ugliness with the Giants. Seems to me they are always in the middle of the nasty stuff. Maybe it's not Cueto, maybe it's Dusty.

Section 222 said...

Has anyone seen a story or link that shows the complete player/coach vote for the ASG -- who was first and who was second (and who was third if available) at each position? The CBA says that the player vote governs any substitutions in case of injury unless the office of the Commish and the Players Association agree with the manager's decision to choose someone else. It seems like this could have an impact on La Russa's ability to pick Harper or Chipper as an injury replacement if they don't win the final five fan vote.

Section 222 said...

There's definitely bad blood between the Reds and the Cards. But La Russa should have risen above that. Cueto is a superstar pitcher and it's not fair to penalize him for Dusty Baker's or Brandon Phillips's conduct.

baseballswami said...

By the way - did you see that Tyler Clippard was named the Delivery Man of the Month for June in all of major league baseball? Another award for a Nat and very cool. Sorry I don't know how to do links, but it's on the mlb site under press releases. Very complimentary article. Tyler is awesome!!!!!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

JD, I don't care about WAR or pitches W/L when my eyes tell me something isn't right.

May 27th Gio pitched in Atlanta. It was 85 degrees and Gio threw a 28 pitch 1st inning. Gio won and went 7 innings. No Freddy Freeman, no Chipper Jones, no Andrelton Simmons, no David Ross instead he faced JC Boscan, Tyler Pastornicky, Eric Hinske and Matt Diaz.

Gio gave up 1 hit and 2 runs. Walked 3. Struck out 10.

In that game Gio only threw 18 curveballs and 8 for strikes. H/B was -5.35 and V/B was -8.09

baseballswami said...

Ghost -- getting to know the NL? Catcher changes? Trying too hard? Anyway - back to the original topic. We have lots of guys who could have been candidates for the ASG. Each and every one of them conducts himself like an All-Star every single day. I can't remember one minute of this season where I have been ashamed of something one of our guys did. I am continually grateful that Nyger is gone.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Nyjer. With a J.

I can do this as long as it takes.

JD said...

Ghost,

My eyes tell me that Gio was and is in the top echelon of MLB pitchers. I don't focus on a game or 3 the way you do because I think everyone goes through phases when they can't command a pitch or 2 and other times when they arms are dead. I prefer a global outlook and this one shows me a top notch pitcher.

natsfan1a said...

Agreed on Guillen, sec3.

Nice item from Mark's Tweeter thingy at the top of this page:

RT @mlbbowman Chipper: "I texted (Bryce Harper) last night and said that’s a very classy thing for 19-year-old kid to say." about an hour ago

natsfan1a said...

222, Amanda Comak broke down the All-Star voting here. Not sure whether that's what you needed, though.

natsfan1a said...

222, there's also this.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

baseballswami, my issue is the curveball and how it isn't Gio's "out" pitch for several starts. His fastball is very good. He is throwing his fastballs to the edges. Not a good system to keep his pitch count low. He has to go deeper in games.

When Gio makes a mistake on the fastball, his HR count goes up. In Gio's last 2 games he has given up 3 HRs versus Gio's previous 14 starts Gio only gave up 1 HR.

Again, it may be nothing or it could be something.

Theophilus T. S. said...

Cueto has been a Nyjer-head in his own right. From August 2010:

"Major League Baseball has suspended Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto for seven games for his role in the August 10 benches-clearing melee with the St.Louis Cardinals. Managers Dusty Baker of Cincinnati and Tony LaRussa of the Cardinals were also suspended two games apiece. The two skippers were the only ejections from the incident that occurred in the bottom of the first inning at Great American Ball Park. Cueto was pinned against the screen behind home plate during the incident and MLB deemed Cueto's actions "violent and aggressive" in doling out the severe punishment."

The fight was probably inspired by Brandon Phillips saying, at the outset of the series, that he hated the Cardinals and used demeaning language. Without regard to the details of how the actual fight began, Cueto was suspended for kicking Chris Carpenter in the back.

Now, how eager would you be, if you were LaRussa, to pick either one of them for your All-Star team?

baseballswami said...

Theo - what goes around comes around? Karma? So glad we don't have that crap around here. Funny thing on twitter - apparently Lombo and TyMo are trying to go to Pentagon City and are having trouble figuring out the metro. So I can understand Moore, being a country boy, but Lombo is from here. Rookies.

Gonat said...

JD said...
Ghost,

My eyes tell me that Gio was and is in the top echelon of MLB pitchers. I don't focus on a game or 3 the way you do because I think everyone goes through phases when they can't command a pitch or 2 and other times when they arms are dead. I prefer a global outlook and this one shows me a top notch pitcher.

July 02, 2012 6:14 PM
____________________________

Its not a game or 3, its the last 6 games is a 4.76 ERA. Pitch count is high. Curveball is breaking like it was.

OK, everything is fine because he won 4 of those 6 games.

Did I mention the Nats scored an average of 7.17 runs per game in those 6 starts?

Gio is receiving excellent run support considering he has only had 5 games of run support where he has received less than 3 runs.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Gonat, you're right. Nothing is wrong. Nats are winning. Even Wang will win most games with 7 runs of support.

Old Wino said...

I hate not having Nats baseball to watch. What do u do on the off days? I'm lost.

MicheleS said...

Gonat/Ghost,et al.

On Gio. Remember the Flop slide into 3rd in the Phillie game? he hurt his hands on that (part of the reason that he was not swinging the next several games). could it be that he lost the touch for the curve? I don't know how much the curve is a feel pitch, but if your hand hurts, wouldn't that impact it?

BTW. .They need to take the IV's before the game or the day before like Hudson was doing.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I'm flipping between the Cubs/Braves, Yankees/Rays, and Indians/Angels.

natsfan1a said...

Here's hoping that the Bravos continue their trend of Monday losses.

JamesFan said...

Too many of his comments are locker room interviews before or after the game to be scripted. Sure his agent may advise him about the beer thing or the softball deal, but I don't think that much of his comments to spontaneous press interviews are scripted. Absolutely think the Hammels and Chipper comments were real and consistent with what he often says. Finally, you can only script a guy so much. He can reject it or ultimately go off script, and Harp has been very consistent.

baseballswami said...

Gio is kind of the anti-JZim - seems he can get into a jam, get away with mistakes and he gets the run support. By JZim's starts, the backups are playing and the bullpen is tired. I think Gio is having a mid-season hiccup. Not even a really bad hiccup. A blip. Going to the All-Star Game with Strassie and Desi, though - not exactly party animals. Hopefully it will be a good change of scenery and mental health break.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

MicheleS, thanks for the memory jogger on that Gio slide. Could be he lost the feel for it. I hope he gets it back because he will be more dominating. If not he better work on a slider.

These short outings take a toll on the bullpen. Davey is smart enough to know that. That's what cost the Braves in September and I believe Venters is still showing the effects of over-use.

Joe Seamhead said...

JD said...
jcj5y,

I thought that some of the comments yesterday during the game were a bit harsh; he was pitching in 120 degree heat against a very deep lineup and he gave up exactly 1 run through 5 tough innings. I thought Davie gambled on the 6th inning and lost and I think he knows it. Watching the game I thought we'd go Matheus, Stammen, Burnet and Clip.
July 02, 2012 4:27 PM
--------------------------
Except he didn't actually lose. I'm quite sure that the final score says that we won.

SonnyG10 said...

AMEN to taking the IVs before the game, MicheleS. Obviously the way Stras was trying to hydrate didn't work so well.

BTW, I support those that want to vote for Chip as I would like to see him in the all-star game, but I am voting for Bryce (and Hammels) as much as I can get done.

SonnyG10 said...

I mean Bryce (and Hammel)

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Now, how eager would you be, if you were LaRussa, to pick either one of them for your All-Star team?

Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle, and quick to anger.

baseballswami said...

Ghost - short starts do take a toll on the bullpen, however our bullpen is shorter than usual because of Wang. We need a full bullpen to make it through the season. If you check the stats you will see innings pitched per team and per individual. I am not sure how to get innings pitched by starters, though. I heard some of the masn guys talking about how the Nats were doing really well in terms of their starters number of innings per game. We think it's horrible when a starter leaves after six, we think five is a disaster. But there are many teams that have had multiple games where the starters are out very , very early in games. That has been very rare for the Nats. Every other team in baseball has the same number of guys in the bullpen. I don't think we have had an abnormal number of extra innings, either. Ever since Davey took over the team he has complained about not having enough bullpen. Clip, Burnett, Gonzalez, Stammen, Gorz - this is not their first rodeo and many of them were starters. Last year the Braves back end guys were rookies. Storen will ease in gradually but probably be hitting his stride when someone starts to tire. Mattheus has had some injury time so that will help him go further. Our starting staff has been remarkably consistent. We have only used six starters,though. I can't even imagine how many starters some of these teams have had to use. Our pitching staff has been pretty stable with the exceptions of HRod and Wang.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

baseballswami, I agree with that and the Nats last time I checked was 3rd in average starters innings. Consider how Strasburgs 3 innings and the Colorado series overused the bullpen which makes a more recent issue.

Gonat said...

Greinke is getting smoked.

Gonat said...

Brewers in the 3rd inning go 1-2-3 with only 6 pitches shown. That team is so different without Fielder.

baseballswami said...

Off days are always so strange.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Off days are a blessing to 25 banged up players.

timeless46 said...

totally off point, but I am watching/listening to the ESPN monday night game between the Yankees and Seattle. For some reason, Chris Berman is doing the play-by-play. He has got to be the absolute worst baseball broadcaster I have ever heard.......

natsfan1a said...

Go Cubs go!

baseballswami said...

Ghost - I am sure you are so right. I hope they all got some rest, relaxed, had some good food and that they come back refreshed.They deserve it.

Gonat said...

Agreed, as sucky as it is for no Nats baseball tonight, for the players it has to be great and Stras and Gio really need that extra day.

Hope Bryce and his sore back enjoys his day off too.

Gonat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theophilus T. S. said...

Berman is the worst broadcaster ever, any sport. Hands down. Not even close.

baseballswami said...

Basically a joke.

Gonat said...

The Braves lost. Have to love picking up games in the standings on an idle day.

The Brewers just scored 3 unanswered to tie the Marlins at 5. Amazing with as poorly as Greinke pitched tonight in Milwaukee that the team finds ways of picking him up. I think he is 15-0 for the Brewers at home. Tonight a no-decision. Still could have been a Loss.

sjm308 said...

Still no power
Takes 10 min to get 3G to connect
Hope this is over soon

Go Nats!

Section 222 said...

1a, you're probably headed off to bed by now, but thanks for this link about the player/coach picks for the ASG. It's fascinating that the player/coach picks were the same as the fans for 5 of the 9 spots on the AL team, including Derek Jeter. But the fan picks were either No. 1 or No. 2 in the player/coach voting.

In the NL, only 3 of the player/coach No. 1 picks were selected as starters by the fans. Again, though, it looks like the fan choice was at least No. 2 for the players/coaches.

Bottom line for me is that all the belly aching about the ASG being just a popularity content is misplaced. Either that, or the players and coaches are falling victim to the same mistaken reliance on reputation and popularity as the fans.

The actual players/coaches vote tallies are shown here. One very interesting thing is that Dickey was an overwhelming choice for the NL starting pitchers, with Cain, Strasburg, and Gio bunched closely after him, in that order. The fifth pitcher, Lynn, had a much lower total vote. Chapman and Kimbrell were overwhelming picks as relievers with Hanrahan well behind. I'd be interested to know how close Clipp was to Hanrahan.

peric said...

Ghost - short starts do take a toll on the bullpen, however our bullpen is shorter than usual because of Wang. We need a full bullpen to make it through the season.

Wang is ostensibly there as a replacement for Strasburg when the innings limit comes and he is shutdown ... that's not going to wash ...

After him there's Stammen and Gorzelanny ... then I would think Zach Duke before John Lannan ... he made the IL All Star squad along with Corey Brown. Either choice just isn't palatable if you are truly thinking division crown. Not by comparison to Strasburg. And if the Braves manage to land Grienke after the All Star snub?

I'm not worried about the bullpen with Storen just about ready to return along with H-Rod. Plus Christian Garcia has looked good in Syracuse.

I think the looming Stras shutdown is going to loom as a much larger issue if the Braves manage to bolster their rotation ...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

When is LaRussa going to announce his replacement for Matt Kemp?

natsfan1a said...

You're welcome, 222.

Feel Wood said...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...
When is LaRussa going to announce his replacement for Matt Kemp?


After the results of the fan voting for last man are announced. That way he can choose one of the runners-up there if he wants to. Also, MLB would not want injury replacements announced while the fan voting is going on since it would draw attention away from that vote - the same reason it doesn't allow major announcements during the World Series.

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