Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nats vs. Braves - 3/6/11

File photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
It's raining in D.C., and there's a chance of rain today at Space Coast Stadium.
Well, this is indeed a treat: Today's game is both on TV and on the radio. First time this season you've got the opportunity to watch the new MASN team of Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo and listen to returning radio team of Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler on new flagship station WJFK (106.7-FM). (For those outside the MASN broadcast zone, the game is being picked up by MLB Network.)

Ross Detwiler, who was very sharp out of the bullpen last week, gets a chance to start today against the Braves. Pay attention to Detwiler's altered mechanics -- he's striding more in a straight line toward the plate instead of throwing across his body -- and pay attention to the radar gun on his fastball.

This is technically Livan Hernandez's slot in the rotation, as it lines up perfectly for the March 31 opener against these same Braves. Livo was due to throw a simulated game this morning, just to get his work in.

It's raining here in Washington, and there's also some rain in the forecast in Viera, but hopefully it will hold off enough to get the game in. And since it's on TV for a change, I'll try to post some thoughts of my own along the way. Enjoy the game...

Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: MASN, MLB Network, 106.7-FM
Weather: Chance of storms, 77 degrees, Wind 16 mph RF to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
DH Rick Ankiel
C Wilson Ramos
LF Laynce Nix
2B Danny Espinosa
1B Michael Aubrey
3B Alex Cora
(P Ross Detwiler)

LF Martin Prado
CF Jordan Schafer
3B Chipper Jones
2B Dan Uggla
RF Jason Heyward
SS Alex Gonzalez
1B Freddie Freeman
C David Ross
P Tommy Hanson
1:25 p.m. -- I was about to say Ross Detwiler's off to a really strong start, but then he walked Jason Heyward and served up a double to Alex Gonzalez. Fantastic relay, however, from Danny Espinosa to nail Heyward at the plate. Detwiler would have gotten out of the inning if not for Ian Desmond's first error of the spring, which allowed the day's first run to score. So the Braves are up 1-0 in the middle of the second, though Detwiler has looked pretty sharp so far. Velocity in the 91-92 mph range.

1:48 p.m. -- The makeup of the Nationals' projected rotation may not allow for Detwiler to crack the Opening Day roster. But I'll tell you what: Ross is doing everything he can to make this decision difficult on Mike Rizzo and Co. He has looked fantastic so far through three innings, striking out five (including four in a row). He dialed up his fastball to 93 mph to end the third, another encouraging sign. Offensively, not much happening through the game's first three innings against Tommy Hanson. Braves still lead 1-0 as they head to the fourth, with J.D. Martin coming on to replace Detwiler.

2:18 p.m. -- Pretty uneventful day at the plate so far for the Nats, who have been shut out for five innings by Hanson and Cristhian Martinez, a right-hander who has been getting some tremendous movement on his 2-seamer. The crosswind may be helping that pitch out. So is the plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt's strike zone. Whatever the case, the Braves hold a 2-0 lead in the sixth.

2:48 p.m. -- Bryce Harper in the game now. Worked the count in the bottom of the seventh, then rapped a sharp, sinking line drive to left that was caught. From what we've seen of him so far this spring, Harper definitely looks to go the other way a lot. And he hits the ball pretty hard that way. More evidence of his supreme baseball talent. Still needs to refine his game. A lot. But you can see that he's got the full package.

3:22 p.m. -- Well, not exactly a scintillating performance from the Nats today. Kind of hard to be scintillating when you only collect two hits and get shut out, 5-0. Really, though, the biggest thing to take away from this game is Ross Detwiler. Kind of difficult to make any substantive evaluations about the lineup when several regulars (Zimmerman, LaRoche, Morse/Bernadina) weren't playing. Curious what everyone thought of F.P. Santangelo in his debut broadcast. It seemed like he really did his homework on various members of the roster, though there were moments when you could tell he didn't really know certain guys' backgrounds. Wasn't the most enthusiastic color man, either, but again that could have to do with this being his first game. I would imagine he'll get more comfortable over the course of the spring. All in all, I thought it was a satisfactory debut.


bobn said...

Is Harper with the squad today?

Mark'd said...

TIVO is set to record!

Knoxville Nat said...

Why do the Nats have a DH in their lineup and the Braves don't have one?

Rob Dibble's Ghost said...

The defense giveth, and the defense taketh...

As for the DH, it appears to me that teams get to choose.

JayB said...

new guy does no much about Ian D...."he will make that plan 9 out of 10 times".......FP will learn he never makes that play because he always fails to charge that ball.....flat footed and rock hands....looks just the same.....Morgan's throw bounced from the track to RF....what 100 feet and he still can not get it there.....Morgan sucks so can Rizzo miss this stuff.

Ross looks great....what a difference.

DCGuy said...

espy saved morgan's crappy throw to the cutoff. and detweiler looked as sharp as i've ever seen him in the top of the last inning

JayB said...

94 MPH.....go Ross!

JayB said...

Morgan too a really bad route to Jones double......should have cut off in the rolled to the wall and his for the second time today his throw one hopped the cut off man who was less than 100 feet away......this can not last....just pathetic

JayB said...

What is the point of pitching JD Martin....aren't we past these types.....He has nothing....just like Josh Wilkie yesterday.....PB pitchers

JD said...

The point is that the starters are only pitching 3 innings this early in the spring so you need lots of arms to fill the rest of the innings. That's why you can't take spring wins and loses to mean anything.

What you can take away from this game is that Detwiler is looking good so far.

Another_Sam said...

Yes I've seen enough of Morgan finally. And JayB has it right on Martin.

Strangely I miss Dibble's cynical approach. These two cheerfully oblivious guys in the booth don't seem to get what they're watching. They even gushed about Viera.

JayB said...

Get a real prospect to fill those innings....Sammy Solis.....Martin types just drag down the level

DCGuy said...

damn, coffey really needs to lose about 30lbs

JD said...

Coffey; this year's Matt Capps?

JayB said...

Morgan is the worst lead off man in a lot....he can not bunt or work a walk.

fpcsteve said...

Re: Coffey. Someone once asked Sonny Jurgensen about his conditioning and the "shape" he was in. He famously said, "I don't throw with my stomach."

Knoxville Nat said...


Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Mickey Lolich was reported to have made similar comments as Jurgensen's after he won two games in the 1968 world series and before he went on to win a third in game 7 of that series (on short rest I might add).

JayB said...

pretty clear Alberto Gonzales does not want to be in camp with the Nats.....just going through the motions....cut him or trade him but we know from last year he and Kennedy types are cancers.

Doc said...

Harper has been quoted that his "oppo boppo" is the stronger part of his power game. Like Kal Daniels, his batting arm extension seems to be best on pitches on the outer part of the plate.

You're right also Mark about how this demonstrates how, at an early age, sophisticated a batter Harper is. Bernadina was still working on opposite field hitting last year at the grand old age of 26.

Positively Half St. said...

I have to say that I think FP Santangelo has been pretty good, if I got his name right. I don't have much loyalty to Bob Carpenter, although he is mostly inoffensive at this point. Debbie Harris doesn't add much.

I might have listened to the radio instead, to hear our A Team, but I was watching GMU get dismantled at the same time.


Positively Half St. said...

I must say one thing about their optimism, though. As much as I want Zimmermann to be a star, it is a bit of a stretch for everybody to assume he is a solid #2 in a rotation. Let's hope, but don't pencil that in quite yet.


Mark'd said...

Read Goessling on Nyjer / Riggleman on the MASN link. Huh?

JD said...


I read it. What are you objecting to?

Rob Dibbe;'s Ghost said...

Did Bob Carpenter just not care enough to know who was playing OF for the Braves in the late innings? There were two or three flyouts where you could tell he wanted to say the name of the player who caught it, but he didn't know, so he ended up saying something like "and it's the Braves outfield."

masnstinks said...

Just got home from work - by the time I got in my car the game was over - was it a really short game?? And it's rainy - March 31st can't get here soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Geez Ghost, in the late innings they're running a bunch of scrubenees out in the field and making wholesale lineup changes... I'm not a Carpenter fan either, but it's spring training. Give him a break.

Anonymous said...

Two things to take away:

Its very early but Detwiler looks like a #2 starter after Strasburg. Even more than JZimmnn at this point. He and Maya have really ramped it up. I can't see either not being in the rotation at this point. It begs the question as to how Rizzo finagles the final rotation. Trades?

Harper looked like night-and-day at the plate! He looked pretty impressive in his at bat today considering? Thought maybe he was three years away now it looks like two good years again. He may yet end up in AA Harrisburg before the end of this season. He just might get a rapid promotion to Potomac.

Anonymous said...

"Yes I've seen enough of Morgan finally. And JayB has it right on Martin. "

Then JayB had better add Livo, Marquis, Lannan, Atilano to that list of soft-tossing, innings eating marginal pitchers.

Anonymous said...

Sammy Solis isn't even close to ready ... how many innings in AAA again? JayB keep in mind that Martin has consistently proven that he was the best starter in the rotation in AAA Syracuse (with the exception of Strasburg) and its ace the past three years before getting promoted.

Solis needs to at least pitch in AA before he should even be considered at this point.

Anonymous said...

"It begs the question ..."

No, it doesn't.
"Begging the question (or petitio principii, "assuming the initial point") is a type of logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proven is assumed implicitly or explicitly in the premise."

JayB said...

My point is Martin is never going to a a pitcher in the Bigs on the type of team we should be going forward. This team needs to be putting forward pitchers who have a hope of helping a winning team. Martin, Chico, Wilkie should not be in the organization at all. I really hope by next winter Solis types replace these types of place holders for bad teams.

Ian going to make 40 errors this year....he still has not learned to charge the routine grounder.....flat footed every time.

Mr. NATural said...

I liked FP. Humble, perceptive, funny. Not an ego guy like Sutton and Dibble.

Nyjer made a PATHETIC throw to Espi on the big relay. On a bunt, he doesn't touch FIRST base?

If ST performance matters, then Mix and Bigby (Bigbie?) are both making significant statements.

nats24 said...

Detwiler looked great. Nyjer looked awful. But if he's gone, who will hit lead-off? If Nix has any chance of making the team, Bernadina would have to be optioned. You gotta have somebody to lead off.

Grandstand Fan said...

I hate the argument that we need to keep Morgan because, "who else will lead off?'

He can't lead off either! He can't bunt, he can't hit, and he can't draw a walk. Just because he projects as a leadoff man doesn't mean he's getting the job done. Bernadina, Espy, Desmond, all would be better than Morgan even though they're not ideal.

And you can't let Dunn and Willingham walk under the pretense that defense is the priority and then watch Nyjer meekly throw a bouncer to Espy who's sitting 100 feet away. He literally throws like a girl (no offense to our female fans). He's put no work in this offseason, has no arm power, can't take good routes to the ball, can't bunt, can't hit.

Why is he here?

While I've given up on him, I don't expect the FO to at least for another few weeks. It's unreasonable to cut him based on a few weeks of ST. That being said, if there's no improvement between now and the last week of March, I'd have to seriously question the management strategy of Mike Rizzo keeping him on this team when e clearly contributes nothing.

JD said...

Morgan avg. .283 OBP .344
Bernadina avg. .241 OBP .304
Desmond avg. .270 OBP .309

How are Desi Espy and Bernadina better leadoff options than Morgan?

PS I obviously don't have data on Espinosa by I venture to say that Morgan's OBP at the end of the year will be higher than his.

NatsJack in Florida said...

A couple of points after sitting behind homeplate and watching the game.

Ross Detwiler is the real deal. Yes, I agree that it will be nice to see him get through the lineup two complete times unscathed but his fastball explodes the last 10 feet. Part of it is because of his ability to hide the ball until the last possible instant before it comes out of his hand and the other is the late movement, especially to right handers.

As for Morgan, I was done with him last year but at least they have trained him to hit the cut-off man. They want him two bounce the ball to the cut-off man on balls to the track primarily because, as sad as it seems, he lacks the ability and the strength to hit him on the fly.

And after watching the DVR of the game last night, it sounds like Rizzo is now closer to the rest of us because when discussing the front end of the lineup, he named Desmond as the #2 guy but only stated "lead off hitter" with no mention of Morgan.

DunnWatch said...

Big Donkey 2 for 3 yesterday with his first ribbie of spring. Now hitting .214

P.S. Morgan 0-3 yesterday. Now hitting .063

Big Cat said...

Yes NatsJack....Ross has struggled to get thru the lineup 2 times around....and God forbid 3 times. He has a live arm, but for some reason he has been at 89-91 mph the last year and a half. Funny how this throwing across his body is just now being brought up. I saw it 3 years ago in Potomac. Anyhow....if he can keep it at 94 he might do something this year

NatsJack in Florida said...

So Adam Dunn and Bryce Harper are tied in RBI's.

LoveDaNats said...

New drinking game.......every time Bob Carpenter says FP

Rabbit said...

JD...I read the article on Nyjer/Riggleman too. It wasn't the article that is objectionable, it is the implication of the article that Riggleman is closed-minded and inflexible - which would be objectionable to me. Believe me, if someone came in and batted 1.0, Zimmerman would be rushed over to shortstop. I would be very concerned if Morgan was 1-13 after such a lousy 2010. Yes, Riggleman is very inflexible and I hope it doesn't hurt the team too much.

JD said...


I think that the Morgan situation has nothing to do with Riggleman. I think that Rizzo made a decision to give this one more try based on the strong 2009; the decent lifetime numbers and the fact that we have no one else ready to lead off.

I think that most of the posters here objected strongly to Nyjer's antics last year (so did I) and are rooting openly for him to fail to the point were there is zero objectivity or fairness in any of the anti Morgan posts.

To be clear; I think that Nyjer is a mediocre player at best and it would not have bothered me if we had released him in the off season but he is not a .063 hitter so let's not take a 6 or 7 game spring sample and use it as a referendum on his abilities; he is a lifetime .283 hitter with an OBP of .344 which is not great but better than any one else we have to put in that position.

If you want to think out of the box; Derek Norris will be a huge OBP guy when he makes the show; exactly the type of guy you want at the top of the order but I don't know if our organization is forward thinking enough to use a catcher as a leadoff guy (he is not slow).

Sunderland said...

I wouldn't think anyone would even consider D Norris for leadoff. In 2010 Willingham had huge OBP until he was hurt, no one was clammoring for for Hammer at leadoff.
I also wouldn't project Norris's high OBP in A ball will translate to a high OBP in MLB. That's definitely a reach.

Those that reference Nyjer's .344 career OBP are defintiely accurate. But it's also just as accurate to note his .319 OBP in 2010 (and you may want to add to that the MLB leading number of outs he made on the basepaths in 2010).

If we get Nyjer of the .344 OBP, and a Bo Porter inspired smarter base runner, that would be great. We'll just have to wait and see what Nyjer delivers.

Anonymous said...

Whoever said Morgan was a good leadoff hitter anyway. He just goes up there hacking like a cleanup hitter. He routinely swings at the first pitch and gets himself out. My favorite is that little flair off the handle to the third baseman in foul territory. He has no instincts as a hitter, or, as a baseball player for that matter.

Steve M. said...

JD said...
Morgan avg. .283 OBP .344

JD - You put up lifetime stats instead of his real adjusted OBP from last year where he couldn't get on base and stay on base and was 60 points below that OBP when adjusted for caught stealing and pickoffs.

I am not rooting for Nyjer to fail as I just hoped he would prove me wrong so I have stayed indifferent. I said before the season started my 2 areas of concern were NYJER and the back-end of the starting rotation.

I am actually starting to feel sorry for Nyjer just because it is like watching a train wreck. How sad that from 100 feet away he short hopped a ball with no zip on that throw yesterday to Espy and then missed 1st base on that slide.

My question to Rizzo is, what is your Plan B? You can easily replace Nyjer's defense but where is your leadoff man as you don't have a .340 OBP guy that projects well at leadoff. I am thinking Espinosa or trading a catcher or Lannan for a quality leadoff guy.

This actually has the makings of a good team and the one weak spot I am fearing right now is leadoff.

The guy the Nats need is Brett Gardner from the Yankees. With his high OBP and great attitude, he would solve so many issues for the Nats if a deal was doable.

JD said...


Norris has had a very high OBP everywhere he has ever hit and all scouting reports I have read suggest that he projects to carry this into the majors; this is why he is projected as a much better prospect than Ramos across the board.

I agree with you that no one will consider Norris for leadoff but IMHO this is because no one thinks outside the box; everyone thinks that your leadoff guy has to be a skinny fast outfielder and this is why guys like Juan Pierre, Willie Tavares etc have jobs even though they rarely get on base.

BTW; hitting the hammer leadoff would have been a fine idea last year; maybe Dunn and Zimmerman would have had someone to drive in once in a while.

I agree with your take on Nyjer; it's fair and based on data unlike comments like :'He has no instincts as a hitter, or, as a baseball player for that matter'. We absolutely have to see what he delivers but not in one week of ST.

JD said...

Steve M.

You are right about Gardner but the Yankees absolutely love him. We are going to have to develop our own leadoff guy.

JayB said...

JD....did you watch over 500 Ab's of Morgan last year.....His spring training stats mean nothing....500 MLB AB's last year tells you all you need to know about Morgan. He is that guy....all the data tells you that.

Steve M. said...

JD - My other favorite since his short time in Milwaukee is Lorenzo Cain, a .533 OBP this Spring and now with the KC Royals. Watch the video of him on this link.

JD said...


I certainly did; there is no denying that Morgan had an ultra crappy year last year; but his lifetime numbers tell you that he is better than that. For the record; if they release him today or next week it won't break my heart. Just let's not project Espinosa as a leadoff guy until he proves that he can get on base more than 30% of the time.

Billy Beane said...

"I also wouldn't project Norris's high OBP in A ball will translate to a high OBP in MLB. That's definitely a reach."

Go read (or re-read) Moneyball. OBP is one of those things that appears to be born into a ballplayer, not something that can be taught. High OBP tends to follow along with players as they move up the levels.

Jeff L said...

I wasn't able to watch the game. Other than Morgan, how was the defense? That was a big turd last year.

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