Tag Archives: MLB

Farewell, Michael Morse

It was certainly an inevitable situation as Mike Rizzo tinkered with and cemented the Nationals line-up for the 2013 season, and now, Michael Morse’s time in Washington has come to an end. The Beast was traded yesterday to the Seattle Mariners in a three-way trade that will bring AJ Cole back to the District.

It was his 2011 campaign that truly brought him to the forefront as his bat did the work and his antics made fans swoon. His impact on so many games that season is undeniable and he was the offensive spark in the otherwise lackluster Nationals line-up. That season brought the Nats to the verge of taking the team to the division title the next year and his contributions will not be forgotten.

Singing his signature song, his cobra snake pre-bat routine, his elaborate schemes to smack shaving cream in teammates’ faces, and the phantom grand slam, among others, made Morse seem like the guy you could strike up a conversation with and instantly like him. And it felt like he’d enjoy it just as much.

Morse was the personality that made the Nationals in 2011-2012 so incredibly likeable. The Nats have a plethora of likeable personalities that seem, at times, to just be shy. Morse brought out those personalities. Not only did he make the fans smile, but it was clear he was that eccentric spark in the clubhouse that made fans cherish the roster they had.

Morse’s final at-bat came directly after the 45,966 in attendance at game 5 of the NLDS sang him one last tune, his signature late-game walk-up music of Aha’s “Take on Me.” To be perfectly honest, the above video nearly brought me to tears. It certainly became a tradition for the faithful and one that should follow the Beast on the rest of his journey through his career. So long, Beast. You will be missed.

Oh yeah, I’m also thankful he got traded to the other league. Thanks, Rizzo.

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Bryce Harper might break the internet

“Dear Internet Friends, I give you Harper-cat.”

Those are eight words I thought I’d never hear, but I’m beyond glad I have now. The only problem I have with this video is that it isn’t 10 hours long. Get on it, internet friends.

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Welcome to DC, Gio Suave

Photo via www.natsnq.comPhoto via http://www.natsnq.com

Welcome to DC, Gio. Or as Nationals Inquisition calls him: “the freaking James Bond of the Nationals rotation.”

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Bubba Starling another “once in a generation” talent.

Today’s MLB draft has been called one of the deepest draft classes in the last five years. It also features another “once in a lifetime” talent in Bubba Starling, a 6’5″, 193 boy wonder from a small town just south of Kansas City.

Starling’s lore is founded on 500-foot home runs, 395 yard rushing performances and roof-lifting dunks. Where those who have not seen him doubt his god-like talents, those who have are able to back-up the phenom’s generational talent.

[Read: ESPN profile on Bubba Starling. Definitely a must-read.]

Already committed to Nebraska to play quarterback, Starling will have to make a life-changing decision when he is drafted later today. Which way he is leaning remains unclear, though he has said he will be ready for practice in Lincoln when practice begins in late July.

The question is whether Starling truly is a “once in a generation” talent. The past two MLB draft’s have been host to two other generational talents, the National’s Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. It can be tough to justify three consecutive years of praise for top talent in the draft, so the superlatives laid on these three may only be justified when the trio have actually excelled in the majors. By then, there will likely be others who will have the generational tag bestowed upon them.

What they have at this point in their lives is promise. In the 46 years of the MLB draft, no number one pick has ever made it to Cooperstown.  Even if they are not labeled the “once in a generation” talent by the end of their careers, they will need to show their worth. They will need to prove their talents as they have done on the lower levels of competition they’ve excelled at.

While it is incredibly possible Starling, Harper and Strasburg will excel in the majors, it is also possible they can flame out. Strasburg’s first season was cut short by Tommy John surgery and his violent throwing motion has been called into question very early on.

We’ve also been warned to be wary of the generational superlative. Ryan Leaf  could never cut it in the NFL. Sam Bowie’s talent could not overcome his injuries. Kwame Brown was too young and inexperienced. Tony Mandarich cracked under the pressure.

The list goes on and on.

Things change when you play in different environments and there’s a reason to wary when Starling isn’t in Kansas anymore.

Whether Starling lives up to the hype in the bigs (or even opts to go the baseball route altogether) will take time to evaluate. For now, though, we should praise this mammoth talent from a small town south of Kansas City.

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Nationals rotation returns from injuries. Seriously, like 60 percent of them.

Jordan Zimmermann continues to impress. (picture via natspark.blogspot.com)

I promise not to make every Nationals post about the Stephen Strasburg.

I promise not to make every Nationals post about the Stephen Strasburg.

I promise not to make every Nationals post about the Stephen Strasburg.

OKAY! This one isn’t all about him. It’s about 60 percent of the Nationals rotation including Strasburg, but also Jason Marquis and Jordan Zimmermann. Exciting stuff if you ask me. Let’s get started with the Golden Boy.


Stephen Strasburg (Starting Tuesday home vs the Marlins)

The protected ace threw a successful simulated game at Chase Field in Arizona, paving the way for his first start since being placed on the disabled list July 29. The Nationals simulated 40 pitches in the Arizona heat on their road trip, in which they took two of four games.

Justin Maxwell, Willie Harris were the batters during the two-inning “game.” The two were green-lit to swing at every pitch, per Adam Gilgore’s video. How successful the hits were was hard to determine, though Harris did strike a ball and throw his arms up in celebration of the hit.

Jordan Zimmermann (First start with AAA Syracuse)

TWO-“N’s” has pitched well recovering from his Tommy John surgery, albeit one tough start. In his first start at AAA Syracuse, the other one the kids call ZIMM was hitless and allowed just one walk. He faced the minimum batters in three innings because the walk was erased by a double play. SEE, EVEN HIS D STICKS UP FOR HIM!

His workload will increase to his four in his next start and five in the start after that. Gilgore reports he should be back in the Nationals big league rotation in early September, though I’m holding out for seeing him get a start in the last few days of August. Definitely a player to look forward to.

Jason Marquis (Starting Sunday at Los Angeles Dodgers)

After the Start That Will Not Be Named Jason Marquis couldn’t find a way off the disabled list. Now, he’s back and taking Scott Olsen’s(also recently enabled!) start.

Marquis will make $250,000 in his next two starts and $15 million over two years.

From the sounds of it, Marquis will be earning his spot back in the rotation, though he will be given an adequate in-game tryout to remain.

Overall:

Strasburg is obviously great to get back on the mound to be the only proven pitches beside Livan Hernandez. Zimmermann looks ot be a great number two next season, but the addition will also do good in the final stretch of the season.

Marquis will be back next season and hopefully capable of not being on the disabled list next year. Chien Ming-Wang? Who knows. Will he ever play in a Nationals Uniform? I couldn’t tell you and neither could anyone in the Nationals organization.

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Stephen Strasburg is marketable (and other things you already know).

If you couldn’t already tell from the way MLB, Fox, and TBS advertise Stephen Strasburg starts, he’s a pretty marketable player.

Now comes validation from SportsBusiness Daily, who say Strasburg is the fourth-most marketable player and most marketable pitcher in MLB.

With less than a year of professional starts, the young ace has already topped the list of best-selling jerseys in the league and sold more jerseys than any other player on the Nationals. Ever.

The list is chock-full of obvious with Derek Jeter sitting at number one, while Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, Strasburg and Ryan Howard round out the top five. That’s right, Strasburg is considered more marketable than former MVPs Howard and Alex Rodriquez.

It became legend when Strasburg took the mound and struck out 14 in his first professional start, and it continues to grow as he continues to develop as a pitcher (and marketing tool for the Nationals franchise).

Next, we’d like to take a look into the year 2013 and see where Strassy sits on a list like this one.

The rest of SportsBusiness Daily’s list of marketable MLB athletes:

1. Yankees SS Derek Jeter
2. Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols
3. Twins C Joe Mauer
4. Nationals P Stephen Strasburg
5. Phillies 1B Ryan Howard
6. Rays 3B Evan Longoria
7. Giants P Tim Lincecum
8. Mets 3B David Wright
9. Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez
t10. Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia
t10. Angels CF Torii Hunter

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Nationals pitching woes continue while the disabled list has never looked more promising.

Jordan Zimmermann hopes to make an impact for the Nationals in the future, though he's currently on the 60-day DL recovering from Tommy John surgery. Picture via http://www.centerfieldgate.com

Pitching has been the center of talk for the Washington Nationals simply because of der Wunderkind, Stephen Strasburg. After a fantastic performance from the stud, the Nationals dropped their fifth straight after 11 innings at Nationals Park last night. So what about the rest of the rotation who have given up 42 earned runs in their past 12 games, with a record of 1-8 between the four? And what about the pitchers the Nationals currently have on the disabled list?

It hurts to see a rotation struggle as much as these four have (Strasburg excluded), especially after such a successful start to the season. John Lannan has struggled for the majority of the season, with much of that due to location issues while Livan Hernandez has just seemed to cool off after such a surprisingly hot start to the season. Luis Atilano has struggled with consistency for much of the season while J.D. Martin seems to just be a placeholder on the injury-ridden pitching staff.

What we haven’t seen this season is an incredible amount of talent that has been plagued by injuries.

There is a ton of young and veteran talent currently sitting on the 15-day and 60-day disabled lists.

Jason Marquis (60-day DL)hasn’t been seen since April 18th where he allowed seven earned runs and couldn’t get out of the first inning. It could be over a month for the former Cardinal return to the mound after announcing he would likely need surgery to remove spurs and bone-chips from his right elbow. The sun could be setting on the once promising addition to the Nationals rotation.

One of the best prospects in the Nationals system Jordan Zimmermann (60-day DL) won’t pitch until at least August, but that won’t stop me from hyping up the fantastic right arm of this kid (even though he’s two years older than I am). After undergoing Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2009 season, Zimmermann is ahead of schedule in his rehab. It’s going to be nice seeing him finally take the mound in August when the rotation is hopefully somewhat restored. We can only hope. More from Riggleman on Zimmermann’s rehab: [via Federal Baseball]

Zimmermann’s been on…and with Jordan, he threw to hitters out there, threw a couple innings, threw a lot actually, warmed up for a long time, threw an inning, sat down, went out and threw another inning, and threw the ball very well. Very encouraging that he’s responded well to everything, to the surgery itself then to all the throwing sessions that he’s had since then, so, you know, we’re crossing our fingers and hopefully we’ll have him back in a reasonable amount of time. I’m not sure how many starts he’ll go down and get, but it will be really nice to have him back.”

Chien-Ming Wang (60-day DL)was another promising addition to the rotation, but hasn’t yet thrown a pitch this season since recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. Things are looking up for Wang, though, as he continues to pitch bullpen sessions with the coaches. The Nationals pick-up of Wang was risky after his production dropped off considerably from his back-to-back 19 win seasons in 2006 and 2007.

Unlike the four pitchers above, Scott Olsen, who has been recovering from a injury to his throwing arm, should be back in the rotation soon. After a slow start to the season, Olsen settled in to his role in the rotation and allowed only eight runs in six starts before succumbing to tightness in his pitching elbow.

There are obviously other problems the Nationals need to fix before becoming a successful squad in the National League East such as hitting and defense (yeah I know, the problems seem to be everywhere), but the future is bright especially with so many improvements to all facets of the pitching game. The Nationals can’t rely on a player that pitches every five day, so getting these players back in the rotation will be incredibly helpful.

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