April 17, 2014

Washington Nationals fans learning the price of getting good

In the last two days, the Washington Nationals have relegated two fan favorites to lesser roles on the team and discarded two others. It’s part of the unfortunate part of the business. Fans get attached to certain players for their personality or willingness to engage fans, then see those heroes leave the organization unceremoniously when a better or different or cheaper option comes along.

This winter, it’s all about maximizing the roster for a legitimate World Series run, as it should be. That doesn’t mean it still doesn’t hurt when a fan favorite is pushed out of a job or off the team altogether.

The acquisition of closer Rafael Soriano Tuesday pushes Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard each up one inning in the pecking order, if not placing one or the other squarely on the trading block. On Wednesday, the other shoe from re-signing Adam LaRoche fell: the Nats traded Michael Morse to the Seattle Mariners in a three-team deal with the Oakland A’s in a trade that had most of the fan bases for each team complaining they didn’t get enough in the deal. [Read more...]

NATS: Happy Birthday, Jesus Flores

HAPPY 28th BIRTHDAY JESUS FLORES!

Washington Nationals Catcher Jesus Flores was born on 10/26/1984 in Carupano, Venezuela.

Follow Jesus Flores on Twitter (@JesusFloresN26) and be sure to wish #26 a Happy 28th Birthday.

Jesus Flores – Philadelphia Philles v. Washington Nationals, August 1, 2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Jesus Flores and Pitching Coach Steve McCatty meeting with Stephen Strasburg – Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/21/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Nationals Catcher Jesus Flores, May 20, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

 

The Nationals started adding Twitter handles on the scoreboard recently. Catcher Jesus Flores is @JesusFloresN26. June 19, 2012 at Nationals Park. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Nationals 2012 Roster Review: The Catchers

The Washington Nationals finished the 2012 season with the best regular season record in their short history since the relocation in 2005 at 98-64 and a bitterly disappointing loss in the best-of-five National League Division Series to the St. Louis Cardinals. In this series, we’ll take a look at each of the 43 players that appeared for the Nats in this historic season, grade them, and evaluate their position going forward. Age listed is 2013 Opening Day; grades are relative to expectation.

Today, we look at the catchers.

Jesus Flores (28): 296 plate appearances. .213/.248/.329. 12 doubles, 1 triple, 6 homers, 26 RBIs. 59 Ks/13 BBs. Flores proved his health this season, but showed little at the plate and struggled throwing out base runners (9-of 60, 15%), though that’s symptomatic of all Nats catchers due to the pitchers’ problems with holding runner. Flores is third-year arbitration eligible so his salary will bump up from his $850 base last season, though probably not appreciably enough to warrant letting him go for that reason alone. He’ll stand third on the depth chart however entering spring training, so it’s not out of the question the team does not offer him arbitration and allows him to leave as a free agent. Grade: C-

Kurt Suzuki (29): 164 plate appearances. .267/.321/.404. 5 doubles, 0 triples, 5 homers, 25 RBIs. 20 Ks/11 BBs. Acquired in a mid-season trade, Suzuki did everything the Nats hoped he would upon arrival. He mightily struggled in Oakland this season after several years on 15-homer power. Reunited with Davey Johnson and Rick Eckstein, who had him with the U.S. Olympic team, Suzuki cut down his stroke and made better contact in the N.L. Threw out 5-of-33 (15.1%) of base stealers in N.L. after nabbing 23-of-60 (38.3%) in A.L. in first half speaks to Nats pitchers complete ineptitude of holding runners. Under contract through 2013 for $5.21M with team option in ’14. Will enter spring as No. 1 catcher. Grade: B

Wilson Ramos (25): 96 plate appearances. .265/.354/.398. 2 doubles, 0 triples, 3 homers, 10 RBIs. 19 Ks, 12 BBs. Ramos remains the Nationals best long-term fixture at the position, but after tearing the ACL and meniscus in his right knee in May and the subsequent surgeries June 1 and July 18, Ramos might not be ready to start catching in spring training. Even then, they will want to take an abundance of caution not to put full-time stress on that knee until he’s in full baseball shape. Threw out 4-for-23 (17.3%) base stealers in limited time. Will be backup and work his way back into the lineup as the season progresses and he gets stronger. Ramos is not arbitration eligible until 2014. Grade: incomplete-injury

Jhonatan Solano (27): 37 plate appearances. .314/.351/.571. 3 doubles, 0 triples, 2 homers, 6 RBIs. 5 Ks/2 BBs. The man they call “Onion” made his Major League debut at age 26 this season and didn’t look overmatched at the plate at all. But he’s a career .250/.306/.339 hitter in seven minor league seasons, so Solano isn’t a real prospect. He’s thrown out 33 percent of base stealers in the minors though, so he has some proficiency behind the plate. Still, he looks more like organizational depth than a player looking to get a chance in to prove himself in the big leagues. Battled an oblique injury all year that limited him to just 141 total plate appearances across Majors and minors.  Grade: A, in extremely limited duty.

Sandy Leon (24): 36 plate appearances. .267/.389/.333. 2 doubles, 0 triples, 0 homers, 2 RBIs. 11 Ks/4 BBs. Leon was the unfortunate catcher that was called up, started, and injured in his first game. He came back later in the season for a few at bats after the roster expanded. He hit .322/.396/.460 across three levels in the minors this season, mostly for AA-Harrisburg so he looks like he has a pretty good idea of what to do at the plate. Not eligible for arbitration. Grade: B

 Carlos Maldonado (34): 12 plate appearances. .000/.182/.000. 1 RBI. 4 Ks/2 BBs. Maldonado has amassed 74 plate appearances in parts of four Major League seasons. He’s a AAA catcher, only to be used at the Major League level in the most dire of circumstances. He could return as a minor league free agent to catch at Syracuse.

PHOTOS: Washington Nationals Game 123, August 21

The Washington Nationals defeated the Atlanta Braves 4-1 on Tuesday, August 21, 2012. Stephen Strasburg pitched another gem. You can read the re-cap here.

Beautiful rainbow over Nats Park just before rain delay. – Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/21/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page-iPhone Photo)

It was Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards Night at Nationals Park last night with Caps alum Rod Langway and Bullets alum Phil Chenier. Nats fan James Carville sat down with Clint for a brief interview on the field during pre-game festivites and  then threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Ross Detwiler. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 123 Review: Division lead stretches to seven after another Strasburg gem

Stephen Strasburg racked up another 10 Ks during his six inning outing – Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/21/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Many pundits proclaimed the Washington Nationals series this week against the Atlanta Braves to be a “statement series”, pitting the N.L. East’s two top teams. So far, that statement has been load and clear, as loud as the Nats Park fans that have supported their team through two rain delays and 22 innings of baseball.

“Come and get us, if you can.” [Read more...]

Washington Nationals acquire catcher Kurt Suzuki from A’s

The Washington Nationals acquired catcher Kurt Suzuki from the Oakland A’s in exchange for minor league catcher David Freitas. Suzuki, 28, is a terrific defensive catcher in the worst hitting year of his career, currently hitting .218/.250/.286 with just one home run, but he is a lifetime .254/.311/.378 hitter with 15, 13, and 14 home run seasons to his credit.

Freitas, 23, is hitting .271/.374/.407 for High-A Potomac. He’s been an All-Star in each of his three minor league seasons, though he’s still a work in progress behind the plate.

Suzuki is due about $1.8 million this season and under contract next season at $6.45 million, and has a team option for 2014.

Suzuki will immediately address the Nats biggest need: someone with Major League experience to share the catching duties with Jesus Flores, who has been beaten up with the workload this summer. Teams have been running wild on the Nats pitchers lately and Suzuki has thrown out base runners at a 29 percent clip for his career and at 38 percent this season.  He is well-respected by his peers and pitching staffs, and will be reunited with former teammate Gio Gonzalez in D.C.

PHOTOS: Washington Nationals Game 103, August 1

The Washington Nationals hosted the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, August 1 and fell to Phillies 3-2. Read the game review here.

The following are a few of our photos from the August 1, 2012 game. The Nats are wearing the blue patriotic jerseys for Military Night.

Nationals Park at sunset, August 1, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page; Photosynth on iPhone) [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 71 Review: Rockies rally against Strasburg in sixth after HBP

Sometimes in a ball game, one pitch changes the entire course of the game. In the Washington Nationals 4-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies Monday night, that one pitch was a scary one.

The Nats were leading 2-1 entering the bottom of the sixth and Stephen Strasburg was flat-out dominating, needing just 64 pitches to get through five innings, accumulating seven strikeouts along the way. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 51 Review: Strasburg dominates Braves in 2-0 win

Stephen Strasburg’s last four starts were disappointing in the sense that he didn’t have his normal pinpoint command and he gave up a few earned runs. You know, not perfect. In fact, alarmists looked at the four earned runs he gave up in two of the last three starts and wondered aloud if something was wrong with the still just 23-year old hurler. Even his manager mentioned that Strasburg had become a little difficult to live with since he’s so demanding of himself.

Well, Saturday afternoon’s start should put that talk to rest. [Read more...]

PHOTOS: Washington Nationals Win Final Game of Battle of Beltway

The Washington Nationals hosted the Baltimore Orioles for the first of two “Battle of the Beltway” meetings this season, May 18-20, 2012. The weather was perfect, both teams are at the top of their divisions and fans poured into Nationals Park over the weekend.

Quick highlights from Sunday’s game: Nationals won 9-3. RHP Stephen Strasburg hit his first MLB home run and took a curtain call. Jesus Flores and Danny Espinosa also hit home runs. Washington Capitals Jason Chimera threw out ceremonial first pitch. The Nats won on Jayson Werth’s birthday. You can read the full game re-cap here.

Here is a small sampling of our photos from May 20, 2012 Nats 9-3 win. Enjoy. [Read more...]

%d bloggers like this: