August 20, 2014

Nats acquire pitcher Dakota Bacus from A’s to complete Suzuki deal

The Washington Nationals announced on Friday the mysterious “pitching prospect” the team acquired from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki — Dakota Bacus, a 22-year-old, 6’2″, 200 right-handed pitcher from Terre Haute, Indiana.

Bacus was a ninth round pick in the 2012 draft for the A’s out of Indiana State University. This season, in 26 games (16 starts) for Low-A Beloit (Midwestern League), Bacus was 9-5,  3.56 with a 1.335 WHIP in 121 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out 6.7 per nine innings while walking 2.3 per nine.

Last season, in 18 appearances (one start) for the A’s Arizona Rookie League team, Bacus went 3-0 with seven saves, a 1.20 ERA and 0.567 WHIP, while striking out 10.5 per nine innings and walking 1.5 per nine in 30 innings pitched.

Bacus was considered old for the rookie league that he dominated last season, and he’s seen a corresponding down-tick in his stats this season. He’s been converted into a reliever already in low A, which doesn’t bode all that well for his long-term viability as a “prospect.” He has decent velocity on his sinking fastball (90-93), but his secondary offerings are fringe-avergae at best at this point in his development.

This seems to be a case where “something is better than nothing,” as the Nats were not going to pick up Suzuki’s $8.5 million option for next season and the veteran catcher would have left the organiztion as a free agent at the end of the season. With the A’s desperate for big league catching (both co-starters John Jaso and Derek Norris are on the D.L.), Natstown was hopeful that the player returned for Suzuki would have had a more promising pedigree.

Nationals trade Suzuki back to Oakland

Kurt Suzuki expressed his dislike with the 1B ump's call in 1st inning (Allen Craig reaches on a missed catch error by first baseman Chad Tracy) -  St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, 9/02/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Kurt Suzuki in action in September 2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

According to this Washington Times article, the Washington Nationals have traded catcher Kurt Suzuki to the team they acquired him from, the Oakland Athletics, in exchange for an unnamed prospect.

In 78 games this season, Suzuki hit .223/.284/.311 with just three home runs and has been a man missing in action since Wilson Ramos’ return from the disabled list.

The A’s, in post-season contention, have dealt with a string of injuries to their catching corps. Starter John Jaso has been out over a month with concussion symptoms and Derek Norris injured his toe the other day and is destined for the disabled list.

The Nats will need to activate a catcher to back up Ramos and the most likely candidate is Jhonatan Solano.

Suzuki had a team option for next season, but at $8.5 million, the Nats were not likely to pick up that option. It remains to be seen the player the Nats will receive for Suzuki, but if they knew they would let him walk, at least they were able to get a return for him.

This also might signal the team’s acceptance that the Nats aren’t going to contend for postseason play this season. Manager Davey Johnson has been working Tyler Moore and a few others into the lineup on a platoon basis lately, so the team is entering the evaluation phase for next season it appears.

Washington Nationals Game 37 Review: Suzuki’s error proves costly as Cubs top Nats 2-1

For the second day in a row, the Washington Nationals (20-17) were reminded of why, in baseball, it all comes down to the fundamentals.

With the Chicago Cubs (15-22) and Nats tied 1-1 in the ninth, Alfonso Soriano led off against Rafael Soriano with a single to left before pinch-hitter Julio Borbon followed up with a single of his own. With one out, the Cubs successfully ran the double steal with Wellington Castillo batting. Much to the Nats’ misfortune, however, Kurt Suzuki threw so far left of third base on the play that he bounced the ball into foul territory, allowing Alfonso Soriano to score the only go-ahead run the Cubs would need.
[Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 6 Review: Reds take series with 6-3 win over Strasburg, Nats

After a strong outing against the Miami Marlins on Monday, Stephen Strasburg (1-1 struggled Sunday afternoon in the Washington Nationals’ (4-2) 6-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds (4-2) at the Great American Ball Park.

In 5 1/3 innings, the pitching ace allowed nine hits, four walks and six runs over 114 pitches – 73 of which were strikes.

The Reds proved a headache for Strasburg without ever banking on the long ball. Shin-Soo Choo flew out to right in the bottom of the first before four consecutive Reds reached base safely. Xavier Paul and Brand Phillips sandwiched a Joey Votto walk with two singles before Jay Bruce doubled to left to plate Paul and Votto. Phillips reached home on a Todd Frazier ground out and Cincinnati took a 3-0 lead into the second inning. [Read more...]

PHOTO: Washington Nationals Pitchers and Catchers Reunited

Washington Nationals pitchers and catcher reported to Viera, Florida yesterday and start workouts today.

Happy spring training everyone!

Drew Storen and Kurt Suzuki after win and Nats clinch playoff berth - Los Angeles Dodgers v. Washington Nationals, September 20, 2012, (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Drew Storen and Kurt Suzuki after win and Nats clinch playoff berth – Los Angeles Dodgers v. Washington Nationals, September 20, 2012, (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Nationals 2013 Season Preview: The Catchers

This week, District Sports Page has taken a look at the players that should comprise the 2013 roster of the Washington Nationals. Following a record-setting season last year that saw the Nats finish first in the N.L. East and advance to the playoffs for the first time since the relocation, GM Mike Rizzo has tweaked the roster a bit and expectations have never been higher for the organization, which is expected to be a legitimate World Series contender this season.

On Monday we broke down Nationals’ starters, Tuesday we evaluated the bullpen, Wednesday we looked at the outfielders. Thursday we previewed the infield. Here’s our final installment, The Catchers.

PROJECTED OPENING DAY CATCHERS: Kurt Suzuki, Wilson Ramos, Chris Snyder. First callups: Jhonatan Solano, Sandy Leon, Carlos Maldonado. Down on the Farm: Spencer Kieboom.

Kurt Suzuki: Suzuki, 29, came to the Nats in a deadline deal with the Oakland A’s for catching prospect David Freitas and became the Nats full-time catcher down the stretch. Reunited with Davey Johnson and Rick Eckstein, who coached the then-youngster with the U.S. Olympic team in 2008, Suzuki hit much better in D.C. (.267/.321/.404 in 164 PAs) than he did the first half in Oakland (.218/.250/.286 in 278 PAs). Suzuki is signed through this season (at $8.5M), with a team option at the same rate for 2014. [Read more...]

NATS: 2013 NatsFest Details

Washington Nationals fans should check the website for updated information as all player appearances and activities are subject to change.

Ryan Zimmerman and fan at 2010 NatsFest (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Ryan Zimmerman and fan at 2010 NatsFest (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nationals fan at 2010 NatsFest (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nationals fan at 2010 NatsFest (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo answering fan questions at 2010 NatsFest (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo answering fan questions at 2010 NatsFest (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

WASHINGTON NATIONALS ANNOUNCE 2013 NATSFEST DETAILS

Event to take place Saturday, January 26 from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. at
Washington Convention Center

The Washington Nationals today released new details about 2013 NatsFest, taking place for the first time at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday, January 26, 2013.

More than 25 Nationals players and prospects are expected to attend the fun-filled baseball festival, including but not limited to*: Corey Brown, Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Ross Detwiler, Danny Espinosa, Christian Garcia, Gio Gonzalez, Brian Goodwin, Bryce Harper, Nathan Karns, Steve Lombardozzi, Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Moore, Michael Morse, Ryan Perry, Anthony Rendon, Will Rhymes, Matt Skole, Drew Storen, Kurt Suzuki, Chad Tracy, Jayson Werth and Jordan Zimmermann.

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and Mark Lerner, one of the team’s Principal Owners, as well as team broadcasters Bob Carpenter, F.P. Santangelo, Charlie Slowes and Phil Wood will also be in attendance. In addition, Nationals fans will have the first opportunity to meet two of the team’s latest additions, Dan Haren and Denard Span. Please note that all autograph vouchers are SOLD OUT; autograph voucher holders are encouraged to visit nationals.com/natsfest for important information.

Open to fans of all ages from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m., NatsFest will offer a variety of activities including:
o Q & A sessions with players and coaches on topics including ‘Preparing for Games’ and ‘Life on the Road’

o Opportunities to take photos with players and team mascots

o A special Jr. Nats Kids Forum featuring Player Story Times and Kids Press Conferences

o The chance to learn about the team’s innovative virtual ticketing system

o Games, interactive events and surprises

The event will also feature:
o Live broadcast by 106.7 The Fan, the team’s official flagship radio station

o Opportunities to purchase the latest Nationals merchandise as well as game-used and autographed memorabilia

o Batting cages, inflatable games and 2012 trophy display

o D.J. Stylus Chris spinning music throughout the day

o Concessions for purchase

NatsFest will also offer fans the first opportunity to purchase individual and group tickets to see the Nationals take on the New York Yankees in a special preseason exhibition game on Friday, March 29 at 2:05 p.m. Tickets for NatsFest are currently on sale for Season Plan Holders at $15 for adults and $5 for children under the age of 12, and for the general public at $20 for adults and $10 for children under the age of 12 and can be purchased at nationals.com/natsfest.

Fans planning to utilize Metro’s Red Line to attend NatsFest are encouraged to add at least 20 minutes to their planned travel time due to scheduled weekend track maintenance. For directions and parking, visit the Convention Center website at www.dcconvention.com.

*All player appearances are subject to change

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.

NATS: Happy Birthday, Kurt Suzuki

HAPPY 29th BIRTHDAY KURT SUZUKI!

Washington Nationals Catcher Kurt Suzuki was born on 10/04/1983 in Walluku, Hawaii.

Kurt Suzuki joined the Washington Nationals in August, joining former Oakland Athletics teammate LHP Gio Gonzalez. The two were reunited and have been a dynamic duo. With Wilson Ramos out for the season, Suzuki was added for this defense, not his bat. After working with Nats hitting coach Rick Eckstein, Suzuki’s batting average keeps rising and his bat has became an asset and almost like a secret weapon.

Nats fans have embraced Suzuki and hope to see his success continue into the post-season.

Follow Kurt Suzuki on Twitter (@KurtSuzuki) and be sure to wish #24 a Happy 29th Birthday.

Kurt Suzuki expressed his dislike with the 1B ump’s call in 1st inning (Allen Craig reaches on a missed catch error by first baseman Chad Tracy) – St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, 9/02/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Bryan Anderson flies into a double play, right fielder Bryce Harper to catcher Kurt Suzuki. Allen Craig out at home on the throw in 4th inning. – St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, 9/02/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Kurt Suzuki is player of the game – Chicago Cubs v. Washington Nationals, 9/6/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

 

Washington Nationals Game 158 Review: Suzuki rescues Nats with 10th inning double for 6-4 win over Cardinals

Danny Espinosa leads the National League in strikeouts this season, and not by a particularly close margin. But with a runner on second and two outs in the top of the 10th inning, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny trusted a different, smaller set of statistics. Espinosa was 2-for-3 lifetime off Cards reliever Fernando Salas, with a home run and triple. So Matheny ordered Salas to intentionally walk the N.L. strikeout leader needing one out to keep it a tie game in extra innings.

Matheny chose wrong.

After a passed ball by Yadier Molina moved the runners up, Kurt Suzuki drilled a Salas fastball off the wall in left center, plating both runners, to give the Washington Nationals a 6-4 10-inning win to clinch at least a tie for the division title, reducing their “Magic Number” to win the division outright to one.

Espinosa entered that pivotal plate appearance with one hit and eight strikeouts in his last 16 trips to the plate and is 5-for-31 (.161) with 10 Ks in his last 10 games. But with the success Espinosa had against Salas in such a small sample size, Matheny decided going after Suzuki with forces at each infield base was a better option than Salas, who owns a 9.3 K/9 ratio, to try to strikeout the most-prone-to-strikeout batter in the league with a runner on second.

Instead, Suzuki is now 1-for-1 lifetime with a two-RBI double against the reliever.

Suzuki’s heroics were necessary in the first place as the Cards rallied for a run in the bottom of the ninth against Drew Storen. The Nats reliever allowed a couple of ground ball singles and a sacrifice fly to Jon Jay to tie the game up and force extras. That completed a four-run rally that was eight innings in the making.

The Nats got their first four runs in the top of the first on a grand slam by Michael Morse, his third home run in as many games. The clout to right center hit the top of the wall, bounded off a back wall, and came back into play, creating all sorts of confusion. After a video review, the umpires declared that it was a home run, and made all of the Nats return to the bases they occupied to recreate the play. Morse pantomimed his swing and the Nats trotted around the bases the second time for the four runs.

Jordan Zimmermann fairly cruised for the first six innings, allowing just four hits and a walk through six. But the Cardinals nickel-and-dimed him in the seventh for three runs on a series of bleeders and ground ball singles to draw within one. All told, Zimmermann had thrown a season-high 112 pitches, going 6 1/3 innings. He gave up three earned runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out five. Sean Burnett allowed an inherited runner to score, but stanched the bleeding, and Ryan Mattheus and Tyler Clippard delivered a one-run lead to Storen in the ninth.

Craig Stammen pitched a scoreless 10th inning, striking out Molina for the third out, for his first Major League save.

THE TAKEAWAY:

THE GOOD: The Nats had lots of opportunities to blow this one open, with nine at bats with runners in scoring position.

THE BAD: They never did break it open, which made things difficult in the late innings.

THE UGLY: Espinosa is in another deep funk. He seemed like he had things going well for a while, but the game two weeks have been brutal.

THE STATS: 13 hits, 3 BBs, 13 ks. 3-for-9 with RISP, 10 LOB, no GIDP. No errors, 3 DPs.

NEXT GAME: Sunday at 2: 15 pm against the Cardinals. Ross Detwiler (10-7, 3.28) tries to clinch the Nats first-ever N.L. East Championship in his hometown against Cardinals’ All-Star Lance Lynn (17-7, 3.69).

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