2014 Predictions

You should take my predictions seriously. At least as seriously as you would take a person who suggests boarding a submarine to travel to the moon.

Anyways, Dave Nichols from the District Sports Page organizes the preseason survey of the “Natosphere” each year.The results of the survey were published today at the Internet Baseball Writers Association: Washington D.C. Chapter.

So, here is the “pulse” of the “Natosphere” as it stands on Opening Day:

Washington, DC — Members of the Washington, DC chapter of the Internet Baseball Writers Association were asked to reply to a survey of 11 questions regarding the Washington Nationals upcoming season. Twenty-four members of the association replied to the survey, which asked for predictions on several position battles, statistical leaders, and win projections for the 2014 Nats.

Survey respondentsDistrict Sports PageFederal BaseballWe Love DCThe Nats Blog,  Nationals ProspectsLet Teddy WinCenterfield GateRed Porch ReportDC Baseball HistoryCitizens of Natstown,William World NewsNationals ReviewMatt’s BatsDistrict on Deck,Nats NationDC Pro Sports ReportDC NatitudeNationals Arm Race,Nationals EnquirerNats NoodlesHalf Street Heart AttackSpaceNat.

Results after the jump. Continue reading

It’s finally OPENING DAY!

The day we’ve been waiting for since the end of September is finally here. IT’S OPENING DAY!!!

Here’s the Washington Nationals’ Opening Day lineup card, courtesy of @Nationals:

nats-2014-opening-day-lineup-card

 

I was just a little surprised to see Ramos in the 4 spot and Bryce in the 5 spot. But hey, I’m sure Matt Williams knows more than I do. After all, he’s a manager and I’m a blogger.

Kevin Frandsen is now a Nat

kevin-frandsen

Kevin Frandsen is now a Nat and no longer a part of the Phillies organization. I’m not sure what to make of this. After all, the Phillies stink and Frandsen was sent to AAA. So he couldn’t make the big leagues with them but he will with the Nats… Odd.

From the WaPo:

Shock came first for Kevin Frandsen. He envisioned himself as part of the Phillies, playing for a manager he loved in Ryne Sandberg. Sunday, the Phillies sent him to Class AAA. He had 72 hours to decide if he wanted to play in the minors or opt out of a contract that guaranteed him $900,000.

Shock also came to me as I saw the news that Frandsen was on the team and Tyler Moore was sent to AAA.

Queasiness came Monday. “Sick to my stomach,” Frandsen said. His decision formed in his mind, and Tuesday brought confidence. He believed himself a big league player, and he believed other teams would see him that way, too. He walked away from $900,000 and became a free agent.

Queasiness also followed reading the news. How is Tyler Moore in AAA and Kevin Frandsen on the Nats 25-man roster!?

Before Tuesday evening, the Nationals validated Frandsen’s belief. They contacted him with interest in signing him as a pinch hitter capable of playing second base and both corner infield spots.  By Wednesday morning, Frandsen had signed a contract – $900,000 guaranteed, with a chance to make $300,000 more. Thursday morning, he rode with his new team on a bus from Viera to Port St. Lucie, and tonight he will head to Washington with the Nationals.

Okay, okay. I get it. Tyler Moore has never proven to be consistent. Frandsen is a veteran. But still, how are we ever to know what Tyler Moore can be if he doesn’t get the chance?

Honestly, Nats need to settle on Moore. They either need to deal him or let him get regular Big League at bats. He needs to get in a consistent rhythm of doing something other than being called-up and being sent-down.

Finally, NATS park has a food stand dedicated to crab!

It’s about time. NATS Park has a food vendor dedicated to serving crab.

I’ve long felt that NATS Park didn’t serve enough local flavor. Aside from Ben’s Chili Bowl and Hard Times, there really isn’t any local offerings at NATS Park aside from the newly offered local craft brews. So serving up some tasty crab is a welcome addition!

And the new Chesapeake Crab Company stand isn’t the only new food addition this season! Dan Steinberg over the the DC Sports Bog has you covered on all the new additions.

I sure hope that the Chesapeake Crab Company has Nattie Boh. Nothing is better than crab meat with Nattie Boh.

Doug Fister’s hurt again

doug-fister

Just as we could start to breathe a sigh of relief about the right elbow inflammation, Fister left a Minor League game earlier today with a right lat strain…

From Nationals.com:

Nationals right-hander Doug Fister left Thursday’s Minor League start with a right lat strain, bringing into serious question his readiness for the beginning of the season. The setback could mean that both Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark, previously battling for the fifth-starter’s job, will open in the rotation.

Fister, who dealt with right elbow inflammation earlier this spring, returned from about a three-week absence to pitch against the Marlins on Saturday. He was scheduled to throw 60 pitches against Minor Leaguers on Thursday morning back at the Nats’ complex in Viera, Fla., but came out after the first inning. He’ll be re-evaluated on Friday in Washington.

“Not on any particular pitch, nothing involving the elbow, but took him out after his first inning as a precaution,” manager Matt Williams said. “He’ll see the doc in Washington tomorrow. We’ll evaluate from there.”

The good news is that Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark are more than capable of holding together the back end of the lineup. The bad news is that we may not see Doug Fister right away this season.

Why do MLB players hate Bryce Harper?

bryce-harper-si-cover

Am I missing something? Why is it that other MLB players look down on Bryce Harper?

According to ESPN, Bryce Harper is the most overrated player in baseball according to a poll conducted anonymously of MLB players. Of the players who voted, 24% said Bryce Harper was the most overrated. Coming in second was Yasiel Puig. And in third was Alex Rodriguez.

I know Bryce had a bad reputation coming up through the minor leagues, but it now looks like a lot of that was exaggerated. Since coming up to the big show, Bryce has been quite mature and did not play into the likely media-hyped and manufactured story that he was a cocky teenage player.

Nonetheless, he is still trying to shake off the image that the media portrayed. Hopefully this is the year he shuts everyone up.

Ian Desmond turned down long-term contract extension

ian-desmond

Well this is interesting. Ian Desmond turned down a contract extension over the winter that would have kept Desmond in Washington for another 6+ years.

According to Hardball Talk:

[Jon Heyman's] sources estimate the extension was at least six years in length and between $80 to $90 million in value. The two sides eventually agreed on a two-year, $17.5 million deal in January to avoid arbitration.

While it will be nice for the Nationals to lock up a key player at a key position, they’ll eventually have to do the same with Bryce HarperStephen Strasburg, and Jordan Zimmermann. The Nationals currently have a $129.5 million payroll according to Cot’s Contracts, and already have $84 million committed for the 2015 season.

Desmond has become one of the best–if not the best–shortstop in baseball. Once his two-year deal is up, he will be able to command a significant sum on the open market. Will he stay in Washington? Who knows. But I’m starting to doubt it.

Steve Lombardozzi traded from Detroit to Baltimore

steve-lomardozzi

Steve Lombardozzi has been dealt yet again–before ever playing in a regular season game with the Detroit TIgers to the Baltimore Orioles.

According to MLive.com:

Less than four months after being acquired by the Tigers, Lombardozzi has been traded to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for shortstop Alex Gonzalez.

The Tigers announced the trade early Monday.

Gonzalez, 37, was in Orioles camp as a non-roster invitee after signing a minor league deal with Baltimore in late January. He has hit .429 with two home runs in 28 at-bats this spring.

“Everybody, no matter how hard I pushed them, said this move upgrades us,” Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “This guy will still help us and make us a better ballclub.”

It’s the second trade for a shortstop in less than a week for the Tigers, who acquired Andrew Romine from the Los Angeles Dodgers last Friday.

“We need a couple guys that can play shortstop on a regular basis,” Dombrowski said. “And in our mind, we don’t think that (Lombardozzi) can do that.”

Lombardozzi was dealt to Detroit as part of the Doug Fister trade. While Lombo was a fan favorite in Washington, it’s becoming even more clear that Washington and Mike Rizzo really won that trade.

SHOCKER: Stephen Strasburg named 2014 Opening Day starting pitcher

stephen-strasburg

In SHOCKING news, NATS Manager Matt Williams declared Stephen Strasburg the 2014 Opening Day starting pitcher. But that wasn’t all that Williams announced.

Gio Gonzalez will be the #2 pitcher in the lineup. Jordan Zimmermann will be the #3. The back half of the rotation is still to be determined.

From Adam Kilgore at the Washington Post:

Manager Matt Williams named Stephen Strasburg the Nationals’ opening day starter for the third consecutive season, choosing the team’s anointed ace over 2013 all-star Jordan Zimmermann for the March 31 opener in New York against the Mets.

“He has experience there. He’s done it before,” Williams said. “And he’s earned it.”

Gio Gonzalez will follow Strasburg and Zimmermann will take the ball in the season’s third game. Williams wanted Gonzalez, a left-hander, to separate the right-handed Strasburg and Zimmermann.

“We spoke to Jordan,” Williams said. “He’s good with wherever and whenever he pitches. Opening day is important. But the rest of the games are important, too.”

With uncertainty swirling around Doug Fister’s arm and the competition for Ross Detwiler’s former position in the rotation, it may be another week before we know the #4 and #5 starters.

Is this the 2014 Nats batting order?

It looks like tonight’s starting lineup (just switch the 9 slot for whoever is pitching that day) is the likely Opening Day batting order for the Washington Nationals.

Photo courtesy of Adam Kilgore:

possible-2014-nats-lineup

 UPDATE: In the debut of this lineup, the Astros shutout the Nats 2-0. Nonetheless, this lineup has a lot of potential. And without a doubt, this lineup will finish way ahead of where the Astros lineup will.