Thursday, February 28, 2013

Quiet camp is good camp for Nats

Associated Press
Davey Johnson has presided over an upbeat and uneventful camp.
Across Florida and Arizona right now, you'll find plenty of ballclubs dealing with adversity, whether in the form of injury, roster woes or clubhouse controversy.

And then there's Viera, where for 2 1/2 weeks now the Nationals have merely gone about preparing for the upcoming season with hardly any hint of trouble.

Seriously, what has been the biggest news out of Nats camp so far this spring? Bryce Harper adorning the cover of Sports Illustrated? Ross Detwiler being added to Team USA's roster for the World Baseball Classic? Chris Young signing a minor-league deal? Rafael Soriano arriving four days late because of a visa problem?

That's not to say there haven't been a couple of negative developments, but none has seemed all that significant (whether or not Drew Storen had back spasms during Game 5 of the NLDS) or has been brushed aside without snowballing into something bigger (Gio Gonzalez's less-than-ironclad connection to Biogenesis).
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Anonymous said...

I trust that "quiet" won't somehow migrate into "complacent".

ehay2k said...

I believe that memories of Game 5 will prevent complacency.

NatsLady said...

Colbert is pitching on TV against Atlanta.

sm13 said...

I just hope Mark didn't jinx us! Let's hope that storyline still applies a month from now.

Doc said...

Yeah ehay2k, bad memories of Game 5 of the NLDS should remove any complacency.

That was our game, and our game to lose, not the Cards game to win!

Drew said...

A byproduct of the improved talent is that when I get to Viera in a couple of weeks I'm guaranteed to see entertaining players.

If it's a lineup of scrubs, Perez, Skole, Karns, Walters and Martinson are pretty good scrubs.

It's a far cry from the bad old days when we traveled all the way to Florida and actually paid money to see Garret Mock, Jerome Williams, Pete Orr and Shelley Duncan.

NatsLady said...

New post--hope it makes you smile... as we wait for the next "meaningless game."

Take Two

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Quiet camp = Good

Get well Christian Garcia!

NatsLady said...

Everybody's playing today except RZ and Harper? Wonder if Davey's going to lock Harper out?

Section 222 said...

Another sick day for me, so I've been watching the Phillies knock the ball around on the Braves and moving on to July in my review of Harper's hustle in 2012. A pretty amazing month really, especially since he hit only 1 HR, had 7 RBI, and slashed .222/.306/.313, easily his worst month of the year at the plate.

But I count 13 runs that his hustle contributed to, making 28 for the season so far. Some are a matter of interpretation, but bear with me.

July 1 vs. ATL – Two hustle runs for Harper in this game. First, he scores from 1st on a Zimmerman double.

Then, in the 9th inning, he helps break the game open by walking, going 1st to 3rd on Zimmerman’s chopper up the middle, and then scoring on a ground out by Tyler Moore. (The sequence starts at 10:50.)

Giving credit where credit is due, Zim's hustle contributed to that last run. He had a huge game, going 3-5 with a double, a homerun, and 4 RBIs. On Moore’s grounder in the 9th, he went hard into 2nd base, helping to prevent up what would otherwise have been an inning ending doubleplay.

July 3 vs. SF -- After a Lombo walk, Harper laces a double down the right field line. Zim walks to load the bases and Morse grounds a single up the middle, Harper scores easily but I think it’s apparent from the replay that the CF was watching him and thought he had a chance to get him at home. That drew a terrible throw, which allowed Zim to get to third. He then scored on a sac fly. So it’s a judgment call, but I’m giving Harper credit for one hustle run here – either his own, or Zim’s.

July 7 vs. COL – With Espi on 2nd with a leadoff double, Harper bloops the ball into LF. Espi holds at third and Harper, after racing about ¾ of the way to second, scampers back to first. He then goes first to third on a single to left center by Zim (the sequence starts at 6:52), putting him in position to score on a strange play that was scored WP/E2. I think it’s best that you just watch because I can’t really describe it.

July 8 v. COL – No hustle run here, but I had to give you the chance to see this replay of Harper stealing second, and then third. Classic. (The sequence starts at 3:30.)

July 13 vs. MIA –– Another great Harper heads up plus hustle sequence to open the game, when he singles to left and takes second when LF boots the ball. He then steals third when Marlins infield falls asleep (The sequence starts at 0:17.) Incidentally, none of the Marlins players involved in that play – Ramirez, Reyes, J. Johnson, and Buck – are still on the team. But no runs scored as a result of their embarrassing lapse.

Just two innings later, however, Harper hits a DP ball, but beats an off balance throw by Reyes to first (credit to Lombardozzi’s slide as well). He then scores on Zim’s homer. (The sequence starts at 3:40.)

More in the next comment.

Teddy Rochlis said...

Just going to say 222 look at my comment about UBR and what goes into that. I is on the previous page, err maybe two pages ago

Section 222 said...

Picking up on Harper's hustle runs in July:

July 17 vs NYM – Harper hits a game tying triple to right center in the 10th inning. As Carp says – "reckless abandon on the basepaths". His hustle almost ended the game right there as the throw got away from David Wright and almost ended up in the dugout. But it put the winning run on 3rd base with only 1 out. That meant the Mets had to issue two IBBs to load the bases, so even though Harper was forced out at home for the second out, Zim was able to score the winning run on a WP. Your mileage may vary, but I credit that run to Harper's hustle.

July 18 vs. NYM – Harper beats out a chopper up the middle, scores on ALR’s homer two batters later. Unfortunately, the condensed game doesn’t show his infield single, only a bunt that went foul. Weird. But I checked the full game replay, and he clearly beat out the infield hit, so he gets credit for the hustle run.

July 21 v. ATL – Harper was removed from the 1st game of the DH after two innings when he turned his ankle. The X-rays were negative, but he sat out the nightcap (the famous John Lannan season saving start) until he pinch hit in the 8th inning with 2 out and the bases empty. Check out the highlight of what ensued, entitled “Harper’s trip around the bases.”

For those who aren't able to watch, Harper stroked a single to left and then, bad ankle and all, stole second, and came home on a single to right by Espi, challenging and beating the arm of Jason Heyward. By the way, this was Harper's second pinch hitting appearance that led to a hustle run (see also, the Sunday game in Boston). A truly great moment. (I suppose it's only fair to note that Heyward threw Harper out at home in the 6th inning of the Nats rout of the Braves the next day. Those two are going to be dueling in the NL East for many years.)

July 22 vs. ATL – Lombo leads off the 1st inning with a line single to right. Harper hits what looks like a tailor-made DP chopper to 2nd but foils the DP with his sprint down the line. (The sequence starts at 0:28.) (Props to Lombo as well for a good take out slide.) Up next is Zim, who hits a 2 run homer. The Nats went on to score two more runs in the inning with 2 outs. So that’s 3 runs resulting from Harper’s (and Lombo’s) hustle.

July 23 vs. NYM – With the bases loaded, Harper drives in the go ahead run in the 10th inning with a line single to right. The field is a mess from rain, and everyone has been tiptoeing around the bases going station to station. But when Zims rips a shot to deep right-center, Watch the replay to see how close he is to Lombo when he scores.

July 26 vs. MIL – Harper singles, then is running on the pitch when Zim lines the ball to RF. Harper goes to third, and scores on a weak infield groundout to first. (The sequence starts at 4:42.) Incidentially, E-Jax runs all out to go first to third ahead of Harper’s single. Don’t think we’ll see Dan Haren doing that.

So in the month when his power and OBP were way down, Harper has a huge impact -- creating almost as many runs with his hustle in July as he had in May and June combined. It will be interesting to see whether this kind of impact continues in August and September when his hitting picks up.

Looking forward to watching the game tonight.

Section 222 said...

Saw that Teddy. Interesting. If I were really smart I'd try to figure out how Harper has such as low UBR score when he's clearly having such a big impact on the game. Any ideas? The month of July was really interesting. He wasn't hitting that well, but he was still tearing it up.

Scooter said...

222, I hope you feel better. But I'm sure you're having fun doing this!

As to why UBR (with which I'm not familiar) might not love Harper, I have three thoughts: 1) they're counting where his hustle took him off the bases; 2) losing a runner costs much more than a gain of one base gains; 3) they're comparing him to league average, and everyone gets a hustle run sometimes. You yourself mentioned Zimmerman tagging from first, which I know he's done a few times in his career.

Probably, though, it's this Bonus fourth Reason: Bryce Harper's awesomeness defies even the world's greatest supercomputer!

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

222, There's a doctoral thesis somewhere in this. Don't laugh. Degrees have been awarded with far less original research. Thanks.

Joe Seamhead said...

Probably, though, it's this Bonus fourth Reason: Bryce Harper's awesomeness defies even the world's greatest supercomputer!
Brought a big smile over here in cloudy, downtown Seneca!

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