December 22, 2014

Washington Nationals acquire Trea Turner, Joe Ross from Padres; send Steven Souza to Rays

According to multiple sources, the Washington Nationals completed a three-way deal with the San Diego Padres and the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Nats will acquire SS Trea Turner and RHP Joe Ross from San Diego and sent OF Steven Souza, Jr. and LHP Travis Ott to Tampa. Tampa sent Wil Myers and others to San Diego.

Turner and Ross are both former first round picks and were on the Padres Top 10 Prospect List.

Since Turner was drafted this past summer, he will have to be included in the deal as a “player to be named later” and will most likely play in extended spring training next season until the deal can be consummated.

Turner, 21, was the 13th overall pick by the Padres in last summer’s amateur draft. He hit .323/.406/.448 with four home runs and 23 steals in 27 opportunities between low- and high-A last year in 321 plate appearances. He grades out with 80 speed according to MLB scouts with the defensive ability to stick at shortstop.

Ross, 21, was the 25th overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Padres. In 62 minor league appearances (60 starts) he’s 15-18 with a 3.90 ERA, 1.308 WHIP, 7.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. His strikeout numbers took a tick up last season moving from low- to high-A and he made four appearances in AA at the end of last season. According to one report, Ross features a plus fastball in the low 90’s with heavy life, a slider that projects as above average, and a changeup that is still mostly a show-me pitch.

Souza, 26 on opening day, enjoyed his career last season in Syracuse, hitting .350/.432/.590 with 18 home runs in 407 plate appearances. He will forever be remembered by Nats fans for making the spectacular diving catch to save Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter on the last day of the 2014 season.

Ott, 19, is a former 25th round pick in the 2013 draft. He’s 4-4 with a 3.96 ERA, 1.310 WHIP, 6.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 23 appearances, mostly in rookie league and short-season A ball. He’s a soft-tossing lefty with limited MLB upside.

This trade, as with last season’s deal for Doug Fister, is a bona fide and clear win for Nats GM Mike Rizzo. He moved an older prospect and a fringe at best lefty for two of the Padres top minor league prospects, both legitimate MLB talents. Turner obviously becomes the Nats best middle infield prospect, providing strong insurance if the Nats can’t — or won’t — re-sign Ian Desmond to a long-term contract. Ross is added to an already crowded stable of hard-throwing right-handed starters in the Nats minor league system.

Souza was clearly a fan favorite for his catch and power potential, but he had no place in the Nats outfield and, frankly, has limited MLB potential. He owns a long swing and is not a quality defender, despite his tremendous diving catch. The Nats got two of the three best players in this 11-player deal and didn’t give up the third. The Nats got better for the future without giving up any of the present.

Win-win for Rizzo and the Nats.

Washington Capitals Game 23 Recap: Leafs tromp Capitals 6-2 in Toronto

In likely their worst performance of the season, the Washington Capitals sustained a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Plagued by defensive breakdowns and shaky goaltending, the Capitals that bounced back to win on Long Island were not the same ones that entered the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

The Leafs’ first goal, scored but Morgan Rielly, came on a deflection that bounced off the shinpads of at least two Caps defensemen. There wasn’t much Justin Peters could do to prevent it. Defenseman Cody Franson added a power play goal during the final seconds, and the Leafs led 2-0 at the beginning of the first period.

Justin Peters was replaced by Braden Holtby after allowing 2 goals on 6 shots in the opening stanza. Holby didn’t fare much better than Peters, allowing 3 goals on 12 shots (a pair from Tyler Bozak and one from David Clarkson).  Troy Brouwer’s PPG got the Caps on the board before the period expired, but Bozak and Clarkson’s tallies put the game out of reach before 2nd intermission.

Trailing 5-1 at the start of the third, Barry Trotz made a strange decision to give Holtby the hook and put Peters back in net. Much like the previous goalie swap, it didn’t help.  It didn’t help because this loss wasn’t all about the goaltending. It was a product of defensive breakdowns and fatigue from playing 3 games in 4 nights.

Tom Wilson scored his second goal of the season in the final frame, but it was lipstick on a pig. Joffrey Lupul added insult to injury and the Leafs’ sixth goal of the night.

Notes:

  • The pair of John Carlson (who assisted on both Capitals goals) and Brooks Orpik were on ice for 4 of Toronto’s 6 goals, which is less of an indictment of Carlson than it is of Orpik. It’s been discussed that Orpik is actually bringing Carlson down, and you certainly expect more than what we saw tonight from the team’s top defensive pairing. Orpik was caught coasting on more than one occasion that led to a Leafs goal. Bad night for everyone, but Orpik was exceptionally terrible. For as much as he’s making, he should be better.
  • Alex Ovechkin had 4 shots on goal in the first 4 minutes of the game, had a final total of 7 shots on goal for the game, and led all skaters in PP TOI with 5:33, and all forwards in TOI with 20:45. There’s a lot this guy can do, but he can only carry the team on his back so far.
  • Nicklas Backstrom collected assists on Brouwer and Wilson’s goals, and has 8 points in 5 games (1g, 7a.). Backstrom had the second most TOI of all forwards with 19:56, and logged 4:20 of PP TOI.
  • The Capitals outshot the Leafs 37-23. Peters made 11 stops, and Holtby stopped 12. Their respective SV%s were horrendous.
  • Tom Wilson had another strong showing, and if you ignore his shenanigans at the end of the third period, he’s been okay at keeping his nose clean. His resume for the night boasted one goal, 5 shots on goal, and 15 PIMS.

 

Fantasy Football: Week 2 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

NFL Survivor

Welcome back to DSP’s NFL Survivor Pool picks column for Week 2. I said Week 1 is the toughest week and we saw nearly a quarter of entries drop out with Chicago the main culprit. Hopefully you didn’t have too many of your eggs in the Bears’ basket.

Now, on to Week 2 where we can overreact [Read more…]

Washington Redskins Preseason Game 4 Review: Redd, Seastrunk Impress in 24-10 Preseason Finale

The fourth and final game of the 2014 preseason for the Washington Redskins was all about the competition for roster spots, so the resulting 24-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was almost immaterial. Colt McCoy went the distance at quarterback and went 22 of 29 from 321 yards and two touchdowns in the teams’ final tuneup before the regular season openers next week.

Several positions are still up for grabs and this game is more than likely the final chance for the proverbial “bubble players” to prove their worth to Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden and the rest of coaching staff.  The three position battles that stood out the most in this matchup were third/fourth running back, backup linebackers, and the kicking battle.

Chris Thompson, Silas Redd, and Lache Seastrunk all received considerable playing time tonight and it’s hard to say who will come out on top in Head Coach Jay Gruden’s eyes.  Redd averaged just under six yards a carry and Seastrunk caught a screen pass and took it 80 yards for a touchdown.  Redd looked to have improved from earlier in training camp in his pass protection as well and he picked up the blitz nicely, allowing McCoy to keep his eyes down field. Redd capped the night off with a late fourth quarter touchdown and amassed 79 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.

The two running backs who did not necessarily impress were Thompson and veteran running back Evan Royster.  It’s hard to fathom that Royster will make the roster, and Thompson faces an uphill battle as Redd and Seastrunk have both shown flashes of brilliance through the offseason, training camp, and the preseason games. Thompson rushed eight times for 18 yards and Royster lost one yard on four carries.  On a night that each running back was hoping to secure that roster spot, only two made a strong case.

The backup linebacker battle has become an interesting one, especially in the case of Gabe Miller. He was used on some blitz packages in the first quarter and showed that he is very physical and was able to generate penetration up the middle. Late in the first quarter, Miller strip-sacked Bucs’ QB Mike Kafka and recovered the fumble near the goal line leading to a Redskins score.  Akeem Jordan is also another interesting “bubble player” as he is a special teams ace, but we will have to wait and see the result of his knee injury he suffered early in the third quarter.

Then there are the kicking battles. Robert Malone seemed to be a shoe-in for the punting job after the release of Blake Clingan, but newly signed Tress Way impressed in this game.  His first two punts pinned the Bucs deep in their own territory and kicekd for 103 yards on only two punts.  Meanwhile, Malone punted once in the first half for 31 yards. 

For the place-kickers, both showed why each is still on the roster and the battle not yet been decided.  Kai Forbath was 1-for-1 for a 45 yarder, and made his extra point attempt.  Hocker, on the other hand, missed his only attempt, a 39-yarder, and made his extra point.  So, in essence, both have missed in the preseason from distances that NFL kickers should not routinely miss from.

The key in the kicking battle could be on kickoffs, and Hocker seems to be farther ahead than Forbath in this area.  The incumbant has already kicked one out of bounds earlier in the preseason, and Hocker just seems to be able to put the ball deep every single time.  This is crucial for a coaching staff that would like to boast one of the best special teams units in the NFL.

Now on to positions that seem to be decided.  Wide Receiver Ryan Grant is something special.  He was a consistent target for McCoy all night, amassing 71 yards on seven receptions and a touchdown.  He came back on his routes to receive underthrown balls, maintained awareness when making catches on the sideline, and went over a defender to catch his touchdown pass.  Needless to say, Gruden is happy with his draft pick that seemed like a head scratcher at the time due to the depth at wide receiver.

The amount of penalties in this game was another encouraging stat.  The Redskins were penaltized just four times for 45 yards.

There was some bad news. Both nose tackle Chris Neild and linebacker Akeem Jordan went down with apparent knee injuries.  MRI’s should be expected in the near future for both, but these are two players that could have been key role players and depth on this 2014 team that may now be potentially lost for the year.

Overall, this was a good final test for the Redskins reserves and “bubble players”.  It will be interesting to see just how much this final preseason game will factor into the final cutdown to the 53 man regular season roster.

Washington Nationals Game 104 Review: Offense leaves Strasburg out to dry against Marlins

When the offense dries up, it dries up hard.

With Ryan Zimmerman out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, and Jayson Werth out resting a sprained ankle acquired when unsuccessfully trying for an extra base Monday, the Washington Nationals were missing two of their most productive hitters entering Tuesday’s rematch with the Miami Marlins.

The results weren’t pretty. The Nats wasted six walks by four Marlins pitchers, went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base, spoiling another strong outing by Stephen Strasburg, to fall 2-0 to Miami at Marlins Park. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 100 Review: Roark, Span lead Nats over Reds

NATIONALS EXTEND N.L. EAST LEAD TO 2 1/2 GAMES

Behind a masterful performance from starter Tanner Roark — and a four-hit effort from Denard Span — the Washington Nationals knocked off the Cincinnati Reds 4-1 Friday at Great American Ballpark.

Roark allowed just three hits and a walk over seven innings to earn his 10th win of the season, tops on the Nationals staff. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 13 Preview: Defending MLS Cup champs visit RFK tonight

D.C. United looks to make up ground in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference tonight when Sporting Kansas City comes to RFK for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The game will be broadcast locally on CSN. Given the combination of United forward Eddie Johnson having his red card from last week rescinded, and the lack of availability for a couple key Sporting Kansas City players, United are presented with a decent chance to get all three points and move to 6-4-3 on the season.

United comes into tonight’s match off a 2-1 loss at Eastern leaders New England last week. D.C. sit five points behind the Revolution in the race for first place, and one point back of SKC for second. United are 4-0-2 in the last six home matches following a season-opening loss to the Columbus Crew. Sporting Kansas City is 2-3 away from home in 2014. [Read more…]

Washington Redskins upgrade offensive line with two third round selections in 2014 NFL Draft

The Washington Redskins came into the 2014 NFL Draft looking to upgrade their defense and offensive line.

With their first pick, the 47th overall, the Redskins selected OLB Trent Murphy from Stanford.

Then in the third round, with the 66th overall pick the Redskins selected Morgan Moses, offensive tackle from Virginia. Later, with the 78th overall pick, the Skins chose Spencer Long, an offensive guard from Nebraska.

Moses, 6’6″, 315, is a devastating run blocker, but his lack of foot speed might limit him in the pass game. Moses is from from Richmond, VA.

From Moses’ draft profile on NFL.com:

[Moses] has outstanding size and vines for arms — sheer mass and length makes it difficult for rushers to run the arc on him. Has strength to anchor. Wins with his hands. Pulls with a head of steam and can eliminate defenders when he has a bead.

Long, 6’5″, 320, is big, strong and good in pass protection with a bit of a mean streak, as you’d expect from a former walk-on.

From Long’s draft profile on NFL.com:

Solid in pass protection — good anchor, shadow and mirror. Good base and balance — controls and steers defenders. Flashes some nastiness. Intense, competitive battler. Smart and instinctive. Lunchpail worker will do a lot of extras and is very ambitious and driven to succeed. Excellent weight-room strength — can squat a small house.

 

Washington Capitals Game 59 Recap: Capitals shut out Devils 3-0; Erat scores his first of the season

The Washington Capitals have five Olympians on their roster, but before they set off for Sochi they had one more task to complete. After sacking the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, the Capitals finished off their four game homestand with another victory, a 3-0 decision over the New Jersey Devils.

The Caps enter the Olympic break on a 5-2-1 tear.

Braden Holtby got his second start of the week, and earned his third shutout of the season.

Julien Brouillete, called up from Hershey this week to aid an ailing Caps defense, scored the first goal of the game in the third period and the first of his career, with his parents in attendance as well.

“I’m sure he’s flying high right now. Big goal,” said Adam Oates. “But you know what, Backy [Nicklas Backstrom] won a draw. That’s what it’s about. You win a draw, we get it across the blue line, you throw it to the net with a little bit of a screen and you’ve got a chance to get a goal.”

Martin Erat experienced a milestone of sorts himself, as well. The Devils pulled Cory Schneider for the extra man to try to tie the game with two minutes left, but Erat fired a wrister at the empty net, finally scoring his first goal of the season, just before his trip to the Olympics as a member of the Czech team.

Troy Brouwer scored his 100th career goal just a few seconds later to cap off the win.

Adam Oates was impressed with the patience of his players during a game that was sleepy at times.

“Obviously the Devils play that kind of game. They are willing to play it every night, and it’s a frustrating team to play. They don’t give you much. I looked up with nine minutes left in the third period, and I think it was 20 each in shots. Both teams played stingy. It was good.”

District Sports Page looking for writers

Do you have a passion for one (or all) of the pro teams in DC? Can you articulate that passion via thoughtful analysis or constructive opinion? Do you have an interest in describing game action, and not just who did what, but why and how they did it?

District Sports Page is looking to add to our staff of writers covering the professional teams in Washington, DC.

Do you currently have your own blog, or write for someone else’s, but looking to expand? Are you a college student or recent graduate looking for experience? Are you a seasoned writer but not in the industry anymore? Do you have a particular sports expertise but need guidance in the creative process?

We’re looking for candidates with strong writing skills, a deep understanding of the sports they write about, time and energy to commit to the endeavor, and most of all, a passion for DC sports.

Our mission here at the District Sports Page is simple: To provide independent daily, quality, analytical, critical and opinionated coverage of the DC pro teams.

Journalism is comprised of the asking and answering of questions: the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the story. The mainstream media in town do a great job of giving sports fans a broad overview of the Who, What, When and Where of the games and stories they cover, but because they have to cater to a mass audience, the Why and the How often are overlooked.

Hopefully, that’s where you’ll come in.

If you have a deep understanding of the games, and can articulate that in writing, DSP might be the place to showcase your talents.

We are in need of writers for all sports, so if you want to write about the Redskins, Capitals, Wizards, Nationals or United, let us know! Shoot, if you have a particular knowledge or passion for the Kastles or the Mystics, we’ll make room for you.

If you’re interested, please send an email to: comments@districtsportspage.com and include the following:

  1. Resume
  2. Examples or links to previous writing
  3. Cover letter describing your writing style, expertise in a particular sport, level of commitment, and writing ambitions

We look forward to hearing from you.

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