Enjoying the Ride: A Quick Advice Column

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Don’t expect the playoffs to be easy. That’s not what they are. The playoffs are the final test for the best of the best. The playoffs are impossible, improbable and many other words that begin with “I”.
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Two Years Later, The Strasburg Decision Holds Stronger Than Ever

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One thing that the Major League Baseball advertising department would like you to believe would be that you can’t predict baseball. And while that’s been a slogan for many a campaign, it’s a mainly false statement. Baseball, for the most part, is a very predictable game. The best hitters only make something happen one third of the time. And there are only so many possible outcomes for every situation. Groundout, flyout, strikeout or hit. But the times where you see something amazing, crazy or just odd, are the times where the phrase comes to your mind. Maybe it’s an unassisted triple play. Maybe it’s when the pitcher hits a home run, or when catcher legs out a bases-clearing triple. However, the one thing you can never consistently predict is how successful a player will be next year, next month, week or even game. So when Stephen Strasburg was controversially shut down as an effect of his previous Tommy John Surgery in 2012, right before the Nationals were poised to make a deep run into October, and right after he had a career year, the baseball world was unhappy. People questioned if he’d ever have a year this good again. People wondered if it was the right decision for him mentally and physically. Everybody from government officials to columnists to football players weighed in. The verdict typically seemed to be to let him pitch. Mike Rizzo stuck to his plan. Two years later, on the brink of another postseason, how does that decision look now? Continue reading

Zimmerman – Second Baseman?

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It’s a good problem to have. Ryan Zimmerman is back, and his return creates even more depth in one of baseball’s elite lineups. This year, he’s batted at a .287 clip, which would be a significant addition to the lineup. But here’s the question – where do you put the face of your franchise? While some argue Zimmerman belongs in left on days that lefties pitch, that moves Harper. First base is out of the question as LaRoche is one of the best defensive players in the league. Third base continues to make Nats fans cringe every time a ball is hit near the bag; it would also move Rendon to second and the web-gem producing Cabrera out of the lineup.

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Side of Reviews: OOTP Baseball 15

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At the beginning of the season, the folks at Out of The Park Baseball made all baseball blogger association members an offer; play our game and review it for your blog.

Out of The Park Baseball is a game basically allowing you to become the general manager of your team. You pick a league, team, and then start the ultimate quest; building a team that can win the World Series. However, if you fail, you’re fired from the team you pick. Since I didn’t want to mess with the Nationals, I picked the cellar-dweller White Sox. Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 9.23.49 AM

Your inbox consists of everything from memos from Bud Selig, messages from the owner, trade offers and free agency reminders. Once you set your lineups and pitching staff, you can skip the timeline to opening day.

This aspect of the game is super fun, especially for wannabe-GM’s like me. The only problem I could really find was that at times, the controls were a bit confusing.

You are then taken to the gameday interface, where you first set your lineups and then watch a simulated game. Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 9.41.06 AM

The game ended with a 10-4 rout by the White Sox, which ended our three game losing streak.

OOTP Baseball is tons of fun, and I would recommend it to any serious baseball fan. And now for something I never really I thought I would say… Go White Sox!!

Slowly But Surely, D.C. is Catching October Fever

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The Nationals celebrate yet another win.

Maybe it’s in the air. Maybe it’s the new manager. Maybe it’s that the Redskins are poised to have one of their worst seasons of all time. Maybe it’s that D.C. has finally gotten used to having a baseball team. Maybe it’s none of the above, and it’s just inexplicable. But D.C., slowly but surely is turning into a baseball town.

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The Rafael Soriano Era Comes To a Close, And The Right Man for The Job Is In Front of You.

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Soriano stands after blowing a save against Los Angeles.

Soriano has been inconsistent and blown six saves since the All-Star break. 

Drew Storen has had a major bounceback season this year, pitching dominantly.

Drew Storen has had a major bounceback season this year, pitching dominantly.

He was supposed to be the final piece of the puzzle. Even though Drew Storen had come off of a career year, the Nats wanted insurance. So, they gave Soriano the closer role instead of Drew Storen based on veteran experience and coolness under pressure after Storen blew a two run lead in the fifth game of the NLDS.

But, on the heels of what may soon be considered the franchise’s most successful stretch of all time, one problem has persisted. In fact, the problem created the record. Rafael Soriano was that problem. In his past twelve save opportunities, Rafael Soriano has given up one run or more in seven of them. He owns a 6.98 E.R.A. since the All-Star Break, and his FIP, which takes out all possible lucky or unlucky factors is 3.16, which compared to Craig Kimbrel, is more than 1.5 points higher. These numbers are unacceptable for a closer in general, but a closer on a postseason team especially. After giving up three runs and two home runs on Friday night, it looks like Soriano’s stint as closer may be over, especially since the Nats can’t afford meltdowns like that on a consistent basis when they reach the postseason.

And while the rest of D.C. wonders who will replace him, whether it will be new but lights out reliever Matt Thornton or long-time setup man, Tyler Clippard, the choice is actually obvious. The only pitcher in the bullpen who has postseason experience as a closer under pressure, been consistent all season and has closing experience is Drew Storen. It seemed to be a given after last year that the Nationals would let Soriano go, and Storen would return to his old spot. But now that Soriano is in a downwards spiral, there is no better time to prepare Drew Storen for the future than now. If he was given the role down the stretch, he would get experience under the pressure that September brings and would be prepared for the postseason. If the Nats are expected to make postseason runs for years to come, wouldn’t Drew Storen, the once and future closer be the right one to put in the driver’s seat if the pitcher they brought in to perform in these types of situations can’t perform the tasks?

While many people are not sure of him, due to his rocky 2013 performance, it’s actually quite easy to explain. 

“‘You basically send a guy a message this offseason, for having one bad game, that he’s not the guy for the job,'”Said Drew Storen’s friend and bullpen partner, Tyler Clippard. “‘He’s only human. I mean, it’s going to get to anybody. Eight months later, you get to a point where he’s struggling, and you turn the page on him and you send him down. I just think it’s been handled very poorly.'” 

 

Storen in all likelihood would be more than happy to take his old job back. On closing, he has said “That’s my job. That’s what I’m supposed to do, and that’s what I want to do.”