Looking Ahead

Dapper Dan can’t resist after this sweep of the Mets.  6 games up with 43 to play is by no means secure, but let’s take a peek around the corner and see what may lie in store should things keep moving in the direction they are…

The Nats are 2 games in back of the Dodgers, 4 down in the win column, for the #1 seed.  Right now the #1 seed obviously gets home field through the playoffs, so that’s potentially 2 more home games.  Home fans like that.  Players like that.  I’m not so sure though about how that shapes up against potential opponents.

The wild card hopefuls looks like the Bucs, Cardinals with the Giants close by and Braves still lurking.  Against SF, the Nats are 3-1 with a series coming up next week.  Against the Cards, 2-5 (gulp).  Against the Bucs, 1-3 and they play this weekend.  And against the Braves:  4-9 with 6 to play.

The #1 seed may better be left to the Dodgers to avoid all that mess!  But the match ups may look better if the Nats step it up against the Giants and Bucs in the next 10 days.  Two potential playoff teams are coming to town.  

Now the #2 seed hands us the Brewers at the moment.  The Nats are 4-2 against them, with the Cardinals 2 in back of them for their division.

What’s my point?  The Nationals need to serve notice to the Bucs and Giants that they are not the product of a weak division, and that they can compete against accomplished teams. And…I’d love to have the home games (if…if…), but perhaps it’s better to draw the other division winner and not the teams who are scrabbling to get into the dance.

Oh, and enough of the Strasburg and Harper bashing by the press!  Stras leads the NL in strikeouts for shit’s sake, and Harper is finding his swing again since his mouth seems to be out of the way (those impetuous 21 year olds…) and his thumb/grip is feeling more comfortable.

More soon.  Have a good weekend! 

The Trade Deadline

Hello boys!

Dapper Dan finally sitting at the PC to ponder Nats after they salvaged one from the stinking minnows of Miami today.

I don’t know about you, but with our Zim out for what appears to be awhile, it seems to me that the offense has taken a little step back from it’s torrid pace. While that’s okay at the moment I’m not sure how long the Nats can manage without that solid bat in the middle of the lineup. I mean, let’s face it – Bryce Harper is not the answer just yet. While ALR and JWerth are carrying the lionshare of the offense, there is a hole at 2B in terms of offense with Rendon parked now at 3B. Harp needs to step it up but that tendon surgery is not something that you bounce back from quickly. DSpan is doing his job nicely, Desi has put his fielding woes behind him and is having a solid power shortstop type of year, and WRamos…shhhh, let’s not say anything while he’s healthy.

The Miami Meltdown not withstanding, the bullpen is holding up – but the guys will get tired as we head into the dog days. The starters are pitching out of their heads.

So what do the Nats need? What can they pull in that won’t upset the chemistry?

Well – for starters they need a true starting 2B. Rendon is staying at 3B, and as much as I want Danny to be THE 2B stud I’m not sure it’s going to happen. I think he needs a fresh start, and Det need someplace he can pitch every 5th day too. Lucas Giolito is a force to be reckoned with and there does not seem to be much room at the inn for Det. So perhaps a true LH reliever as well.

The bench could always use an upgrade. McClouth is a pro, but Hairston does not scare anyone. But what do you want from a bench player?

There is a power outage folks. 4 guys on pace for 20-25 homers with Harp and Ramos unfamiliar with their power swings. Zim isn’t putting them out either. But I don’t see how at all a power bat can be injected to the lineup at this point. I mean, Wily Mo Pena and Preston Wilson have retired….

Let’s hope Harp and Ramos find their stroke and the hole at 2B somehow starts getting smaller.

See you at the park!

Under the fence

Opening Day at home, 42,000+ people, the day was gray, but serviceable.  And – we all saw it.  Upton signaling a touchdown while Desi is cruising around the bases.  Then as Desi rounds third, Upton grabs the ball easily and tosses it into the infield.  The 3B umpire signals, well, nothing.  Gonzales is out, the headsets come on, rulebooks flip open….and Desi is sent to second on a ground rune double.

BullshXt.

Now, the Nats lost this game for a number of reasons – and this is definitely one of them, but sending LaRoche home against one of the best arms in baseball?  Desi getting picked off 2B trying to steal third with nobody out?  Oh, and Harper looking like a plucked chicken getting caught off 1B in what looked like to me to be a clairvoyant play where the Braves suddenly “knew” he was going to try and steal?

The Nationals lost this game because of Matt Williams.

I know, I know – the padding should come to the bottom of the field, and the play in LF definitely shifted the momentum.  Desi would not have been caught off 2B had the run stayed on the board.  But Williams and his coaching staff were not playing the Nationals to the capabilities of the Braves.  It was like….they had never seen film on them and assumed that they could make something happen – that the Braves would not execute fundamentals.

Look, I’m all for trying to snag the extra base when possible, to put pressure on the other team to execute.  But 3x in a game – well, Williams did not see the signs that in a close game, you play it close, not get reckless.  And the base running decisions they made were in my opinion, “overly aggressive”.  The Braves are the division champs for a reason.  Hopefully the new manager has a better understanding of what he’s up against now.

Let’s get them today.  Go Nats! 

Danny or Anthony?

Greetings all!

Dapper Dan here to make another stab at getting this blog up and running.  I know everyone is completely jonesing for some warm weather, shorts, flops and dreamy, steamy nights at the ballpark.  This winter will end.  :)

So – the new manager…that’s old news but I think everyone is happy with Matt so far – though I do agree that we’d’ve been cheering for Brad Ausmus to come out of the dugout just to wave at us from time to time…

Zimmy at 1B:  well, IMHO this is an utter waste of time, but I don;t make the decisions, eh?  Maybe having Zimmy come across the diamond will allow us Gnats to get better….shots…of him fielding grounders.

Danny and Anthony though.  I think this is a tough call.  Dapper Dan has to go with his namesake though and allow Danny one more trip to the well.  Anthony would be powerful off the bench – mores than I think Espinosa would be.  And I’d rather have that glove in there early to minimize errors while our starters are on the mound.  You folks have any thoughts?

Bryce’s knee seems okay.  Let’s hope this is truly his bustout year.  Werth found his power stroke (mmmm baby) and watching Denard glide around CF is a treat.  Desi is back for a couple years and Ramos is healthy and swinging a big stick right now. ALR will return to form.  I promise!

I dunno – I’m happy with the starting 8 whether it’s Anthony or Danny.  I’m just ready for this thing to get started.  While last year was a little disappointing, they did finish over .500, and in 2008 we would have been all over that with both hands.  And the division is, well, let’s say the Braves, Metropolitans, Pholdies and that team in Florida all have issues.  “This is OUR time” as a famous Goonie said.

More soon from the desk of Dapper Dan.  Hope to hear from you guys!  Let’s GO NATS!

DD

 

Methinks it’s starting to happen

Greetings folks, and happy Flag Day!

Like our ballteam, I’ve been laying low…ducking the hype and expectation – letting others cook in the spotlight while getting stronger…making adjustments, getting used to the new folks in the clubhouse.  Good thing the season is 162 games right?  

Regression to the statistical mean is what it’s all about.  Now that the boys are getting healthy, taken some time off I think we all are ready for them to step on the gas and reel off a nice little hot streak.  They have picked up 2 1/2 games on the Braves while gathering some momentum.

Fear not!  The Kids Are Alright.  I don’t see a June Swoon coming as we head into summer.  And be sure to get your tickets for Night Out!  More soon.  :-)

Dapper Dan

What do sports pundits and meteorologists have in common?

From April 2012 …

MLB 2012 Preseason Predictions

SI.com’s resident experts provide all of their picks for the 2012 season.

**signifies World Series champion

 
American League
 
Tom
Verducci
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card **Champion

Yankees

Tigers

Angels

Rays

Rangers

Angels
MVP: Albert Pujols, Angels; Cy Young: Dan Haren, Angels; ROY: Matt Moore, Rays
 
Joe
Lemire
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card **Champion

Yankees

Tigers

Rangers

Angels

Rays

Rangers
MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers; Cy Young: Jered Weaver, Angels; ROY: Yu Darvish, Rangers
 
Ben
Reiter
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card **Champion

Yankees

Tigers

Rangers

Angels

Rays

Rangers
MVP: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox; Cy Young: Dan Haren, Angels; ROY: Matt Moore, Rays
 
Albert
Chen
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card **Champion

Red Sox

Tigers

Rangers

Yankees

Angels

Rangers
MVP: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays; Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Mariners; ROY: Matt Moore, Rays
 
Cliff
Corcoran
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card **Champion

Yankees

Tigers

Rangers

Rays

Angels

Yankees
MVP: Albert Pujols, Angels; Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Mariners; ROY: Yu Darvish, Rangers
 
Mel
Antonen
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card Champion

Rays

Tigers

Angels

Yankees

Rangers

Angels
MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers; Cy Young: Jered Weaver, Angels; ROY: Matt Moore, Rays
 
Ted
Keith
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card **Champion

Yankees

Tigers

Rangers

Angels

Red Sox

Yankees
MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers; Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Mariners; ROY: Matt Moore, Rays
 
Stephen
Cannella
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card **Champion

Yankees

Tigers

Angels

Rangers

Rays

Angels
MVP: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox; Cy Young: Jered Weaver, Angels; ROY: Matt Moore, Rays
 

 

 
National League
 
Tom
Verducci
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card Champion

Phillies

Reds

Giants

Marlins

Diamondbacks

Giants
MVP: Joey Votto, Reds; Cy Young: Roy Halladay, Phillies; ROY: Bryce Harper, Nationals
 
Joe
Lemire
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card Champion

Phillies

Reds

Diamondbacks

Cardinals

Nationals

Phillies
MVP: Joey Votto, Reds; Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; ROY: Bryce Harper, Nationals
 
Ben
Reiter
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card Champion

Marlins

Cardinals

Giants

Phillies

Dodgers

Marlins
MVP: Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; ROY: Devin Mesoraco, Reds
 
Albert
Chen
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card Champion

Marlins

Brewers

Giants

Phillies

Diamondbacks

Giants
MVP: Justin Upton, Diamondbacks; Cy Young: Madison Bumgarner, Giants; ROY: Trevor Bauer, Diamondbacks
 
Cliff
Corcoran
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card Champion

Phillies

Cardinals

Diamondbacks

Reds

Brewers

Cardinals
MVP: Joey Votto, Reds; Cy Young: Roy Halladay, Phillies; ROY: Bryce Harper, Nationals
 
Mel
Antonen
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card **Champion

Marlins

Cardinals

Diamondbacks

Dodgers

Nationals

Diamondbacks
MVP: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates; Cy Young: Josh Johnson, Marlins; ROY: Bryce Harper, Nationals
 
Ted
Keith
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card Champion

Phillies

Reds

Giants

Marlins

Cardinals

Phillies
MVP: Jose Reyes, Marlins; Cy Young: Tim Lincecum, Giants; ROY: Bryce Harper, Nationals
 
Stephen
Cannella
East Central West Wild Card Wild Card Champion

Phillies

Reds

Giants

Diamondbacks

Marlins

Giants
MVP: Joey Votto, Reds; Cy Young: Tim Lincecum, Giants; ROY: Bryce Harper, Nationals

Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/baseball/mlb/04/02/expert.picks.2012/index.html#ixzz28B010KHa

X – Clinched Division

Can this really be?

Have our Washington Nationals actually done something that seemed so improbably fantastical 6 months ago?

Let’s dispel something right away.  No team with 96 wins, and the best record in baseball, “back in” a division championship.  The Nationals have weathered the crucible of division competition and come up the winner.  And we have weathered all the growing pains associated with being ‘foundation fans’.  I said long ago I’d give the Lerner family 5 years before I started questioning my baseball dollars.  Looks like that was just about right.

Am I happy that they have to start the playoffs on the road?  Nope. Thanks for that Bud.  They should be at home against the Giants/Braves/Dodgers/Cardinals.  But they will be – soon enough.  There’s no telling where it goes from here.  If they fold like a tent in the wind people’ll say “Well. they surpassed all expectations this year”.

At this point, I have no reason to think they will not continue to surpass expectations.

Congratulations team G*Nats.  We have exceeded all expectations too.  So let’s cheer them on to nailing down the home field advantage, and ride this crazy train to it’s final destination.

Washington Nationals:  2012 Eastern Division Champions!

x – clinched playoff berth

Hey everyone!

If you have a couple minutes, check out Tom Boswell’s article in the WaPo this morning.  He details really well how exceptional our Nationals are this year – and how the rest of the baseball world better start taking more notice of us.

To say I’m thrilled at the now confirmed prospect of Nationals Post-season baseball is an understatement.  And to my fellow G*Nats  I again offer that through thick and thin, rain and snow, heat and cold – we’ve shown up and ‘taken our medicine’ for 7 years prior to the beginning of this season.

You never forget your first time, right?

So our mission now is to slap those Phillies around and crush any remaining hope they may have of making the dance.  The next couple weeks are a good tuneup for what lies ahead.  This team is confident, poised, has tremendous leadership and the best fans – who have themselves earned this spot in the baseball sun.

Congratulations to our Washington Nationals on their first step to what could be something extraordinary.  They are the best team in baseball.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/washington-nationals-hit-bump-in-otherwise-historic-road/2012/09/20/763ce336-033d-11e2-91e7-2962c74e7738_story.html

The stretch run

Now, I know I’ve been resistant to uttering the p-word.  Just too many variables for me to give myself over to that – but we have a HUGE series against the Bravos this weekend.  Not looking past the Metropolitans now, but in their house…Det, Jackson and Gio will take it to Chipper Jones and the only other viable team from the NL East.

I am however starting to consider what a Nattily-dressed Nats fan wears to a division series game.

Bumps in the road

Okay guys, we’re all a little relieved that the Nationals have righted the ship after their week-long skid that made everyone a little wigged out.  But hey, it’s baseball….these things happen and better now than later in September, right?

So how about that – September baseball!  First time since Davey Johnson managed the Orioles back in 1997 that I have a team I give a hoot about playing meaningful games this late in the year. Hopefully by 9/4 the Nationals will be sealing the deal on the most wins in their history, and ensure that this year is noteworthy on at least that level!  I mean hey – if someone said to us we’d be finishing over .500 this year we’d’ve probably taken that to the bank and been happy.  But the most wins in their history by the first week in September?  Rock OUT!

So did you guys see the monster shot from Bryce in Miami?  Talk about delicious.  I wish I could have seen Guillen’s face as the ball smacked off the bat.  And I’m glad Harper gets pissed at himself when he hits into a double play.  More ballplayers should be that hard on themselves.  Maybe not quite so demonstrative, but I’ll take it.

And how about Bryce passing Mickey Mantle on the latest made-for-TV statistic of most home runs by a teenager, born on the west coast on a Tuesday, with the moon in the seventh house and Jupiter aligned with Mars?  Bet you don’t find that nugget in the Baseball Encyclopedia anywhere.

So yeah – it’s almost time to say goodbye to Stras for the year (yes, we kinda heard about that already Dan).  But hey, we know he’ll be chomping at the bit to pitch next year and can you imagine what we’ll see when they turn this guy actually loose?  I think we all agree Rizzo is making the best call possible for the player, and the team.  No way he risks Stras breaking down on national TV and inviting THAT second guessing.  It would ruin everything…Rizzo’s career, not to mention Strasburg’s, player’s faith in management’s decisions…and it would wreck Davey, McCatty…potential free agents wanting to come here, etc., etc.

Yeah – just sit him down.  Let’s all say Goodnight Ladies to Stephen and look forward to seeing him next year.

I’m real curious if the pitchers can help Suzuki shut down the opponent’s running game.  The pitching has been SO GOOD that we haven’t had to worry much about the swipes – but momentum is a tricky thing…just ask the Yankees when they led the Red Sox 3 games to 0 in the 2004 ALCS, leading by a run in the bottom of the 9th with Mariano Rivera on the mound – who then walked Kevin Millar, then allowed pinch runner Dave Roberts to swipe second who ultimately scored the tying run on Bill Mueller’s single.  That whole series pivoted on that moment.  Don’t let anyone kid you – stolen bases matter.

So let’s enjoy the last 10 games of this home stand, and see how we stack up against the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals…because perhaps, just perhaps we’ll be seeing them again in the p…..p…..pl…..p…. (sigh).

Let’s get to 82, then look over the fence.  Have a great weekend!

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