Thanks for Thanksgiving for our Washington Nationals!

What the Nationals and their fans have to be thankful for:

Max Scherzer:  Family.  Despite what we hear on this blog and elsewhere, there are things more important than baseball.

Stephen Strasburg:  the miracle of modern antibiotics.  And rain.

Gio González:  Matt Wieters. And good health. Continue reading

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Mike Rizzo and analytics are moving forward; The Pentagon and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon All rights reserved)

After the Houston Astros won the World Series, the Jeff Luhnow hand-picked analytics team was brought into full focus that analytics can make a difference. Winning in new ways like the Royals did three years before opens eyes to new directions on success. Analytics to many was dismissed for years, but slowly baseball changed to new paradigms as shifts and pitch probability and drafting and scouting started to show analytics worked. The new technology has given credibility to those who believe in probability and trend analysis and the attention to detail while executing on that information which is a key. The manager on the field still has to make gut decisions often because baseball is a game still played by humans. It is a combination of all of old-school and new-school that has changed the managers in the game today and the coaches.

The Astros pitching coach, Brent Strom, will be 70-years-old next year, and showed that an old-dog can learn new tricks so don’t ever think people can’t adapt.

“I was out of the game and working at my wife’s dog store in Tucson,” Strom said after the World Series. “I didn’t know if I’d ever work another day in baseball. I owe Jeff [Luhnow] so much.”

Strom was 55-years-old when Nate Silver formulated PECOTA in 2003 and who knows how old Strom was when he embraced analytics as Strom was hired by Luhnow in 2014 at the age of 66. Analytics have come a long way since Davey Johnson was a baseball player and tried to show statistics that would prove out to his manager that he should be batting second in the Orioles batting order in 1971. Continue reading

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The Winter Meetings start in exactly 3 weeks from today, Rule 5 decisions on Monday

On December 10th, the Winter Meetings will officially kick-off at 7am in Orlando with the annual job fair. It is not your usual Sunday morning for the thousands of job seekers with much hope and yearning for a career in baseball — the crowd is unusual as you have a mix of people from college students to retired baseball players. For anyone who has walked the halls at a winter meeting event, they will tell you about the hundreds of former players in attendance who are working or looking for work.

Last year’s Winter Meetings: Joel Hanrahan (L), Jamey Carroll (Center), Chad Cordero (R)

While Thanksgiving week is usually a slow week, there are still some deals that get done. Last year at this time, Mike Rizzo made some smaller moves re-signing Chris Heisey as a bench player, and he added some non-roster players like Brandon Snyder. So far this week after the GM Meetings ending, Mike Rizzo has signed outfielder Ryan Raburn to a minor league deal. Raburn played in 25 games for the Nationals this past season batting .262 and is part of the filler you add to Triple-A. Continue reading

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A woman swinging the SSK lumber for the fences and catching what they throw her way!

Baseball, like all of the 4 major sports, is dominated by men — from the players on the field to the coaches in the dugout and the lifers in the front office. There are also all of those independent companies that provide the players with their equipment from batting gloves to cleats to gloves and bats, and those companies have been a good ole boys club until recently when Nell Kucich of SSK Baseball USA broke some of those boundaries. A fashion model a few years back, she traded in the glitz and glamour of designers, photo-shoots, and New York Fashion Week for the grit of the baseball diamond and the grind of traveling to clubhouses all over the map from the obscure Minor League parks like AT&T Field in Chattanooga to Major League stadiums like AT&T Park in San Francisco.

SSK Baseball USA is the US branch of a Japanese company that has existed since 1946 and has been the staple of fungo bats for decades in the United States.  Continue reading

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We have baseball today! Top #Nats prospects in Arizona Fall League championship game!

It was just 37 days ago that Washington Nationals top-prospect Victor Robles was playing against the Chicago Cubs in the post-season, and today Robles is leading-off in the Arizona Fall League championship game at 3pm EDT on MLB Network. Two weeks ago, Robles was the named the MVP of the Fall Stars game which was the third All-Star team that he made in 2017 as he played in the All-Stars Futures game as part of MLB All-Star week as well as Robles was named to the Carolina League All-Star team as a member of the Potomac Nationals.

Robles is a game changer as Nationals fans have seen. In the Fall Stars game, Robles scored the first run that he manufactured after stealing 2nd base, and then he knocked in the game tying run and scored the winning run on his way to being named the MVP. Today’s starting line-ups will feature several names familiar to Nats fans like Kelvin Gutierrez who is a potential rule-5 player for the Nats and led the Mesa Solar Sox in hitting during the AFL, and hitting #3 for the Mesa Solar Sox is former Nat prospect Sheldon Neuse who was traded to the Oakland A’s as part of the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson deal. Ronald Acuna, the top prospect from NL East foe Atlanta Braves, starts in left-field for the Peoria Javelinas. Continue reading

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The people have spoken; Top needs for the #Nats 2018 roster

The fans have no “say” in the personnel decisions a team makes — but the fans often have a good perspective on the needs of the team. The previous article was a good discussion on just that subject. Sometimes suggestions are “spot on” but are payroll restrictive and just can’t happen. When you want a particular player, Mike Rizzo has said in the past that the obstacles are sometimes that “it takes two to tango” meaning both sides have to want it and in trades that means the other team and in free agency the player/agent. Continue reading

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Mike Rizzo will make a big trade this off-season as it’s in his DNA!

DNA scientifically known as DeoxyriboNucleic Acid is what we call someone’s genetic traits, and we also use the term “DNA” loosely as we see someone do the same thing over and over again and it has become cliché. Maybe there is a “trade” gene or something impulsive in the DNA of some baseball general managers. Continue reading

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Updated: Max Scherzer wins his 3rd Cy Young award; Only the 10th player ever to join that grouping!

UPDATED: Max Scherzer has won his 3rd Cy Young award. Congratulations! Stephen Strasburg finished in 3rd place and Gio Gonzalez finished in 6th place followed by ex-Nats farmhand Robbie Ray. Voting is here.

The BBWAA will announce the winners of the AL and NL Cy Young award winners tonight, and Nationals fans already know that Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are two of the three finalists along with Clayton Kershaw. Nats’ teammate Gio Gonzalez should finish in the top 7 after he tumbled out of contention for the award with a 5.47 ERA in the month of September. Continue reading

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A week of meetings in Orlando sets groundwork for GM and Owners

Bonnet Creek is a newer area in Orlando near Disney World and the Waldorf Astoria resort is the official venue for the General Manager meetings this year as well as Orlando will be the destination for MLB owners for their quarterly meetings on Thursday and Friday. With all the big-wigs in town this week, this could be a busier week than previous years. Early arrivals got in their tee times today at the Waldorf Astoria Bonnet Creek golf course and many hung out in the lobby of the adjacent Hilton resort where they have sections with big screen TVs with the football games on-demand. The actual meetings will take place mostly tomorrow and on Tuesday and Wednesday and if the GM’s don’t like the format or schedule they can blame Mike Rizzo and Dayton Moore who were this year’s co-planners.

This is like a mini-version of the Winter Meetings as each GM is limited to bringing two members from their front office into the actual meetings. All of the top agents will be in Orlando for their own side meetings. The stars this week should be some familiar faces who will be very popular as new Marlins’ CEO Derek Jeter and his GM Michael Hill have perhaps the hottest trade chip in baseball with Giancarlo Stanton. Then you will have Scott Boras who is the super-agent representing some of the biggest names in free agency with J.D. Martinez and Jake Arrieta.

This was Scott Boras two years ago at the GM Meetings.

It is quite possible that the largest contract for a free agent this off-season goes to J.D. Martinez and Scott Boras will tell you what he thinks of Martinez.

“He’s a superstar talent,” said Boras. “He’s done things that few players have done.”

Those words have been spoken by Scott Boras before. Few agents have represented the superstars that Boras has.

On Jake Arrieta, he could wind up back in Chicago if they are willing to write the contract that Boras is seeking.

“The Cubs’ calculus of what they’ve done is very revealing to me,” Boras said. “That is they’ve traded four or five players to win a championship [last year]… And when you do that, you’ve created more of a ‘now’ scenario, more of a ‘now’ window, and that I think bodes well for having veteran pitching [like Arrieta].”

Mike Rizzo will certainly chat with Scott Boras this week and maybe share a laugh about the recent rumors that swirled in the wake of the Dusty Baker departure that Scott Boras had his hand in that which started with a Thom Loverro interview.

“I want nothing to do with the managerial process,” Boras said to Jon Heyman. “If I’m involved in managerial decisions, that would interfere and conflict with my commitment to the players. I represent players. It would be totally against my interest. I would never do that. I refuse to represent managers because I have players on the team. I don’t want to recommend a manager, and then have Bryce Harper come to me two years later and say, ‘How could you have picked this guy?’”

This past week, Mike Rizzo backed up Boras saying that he did not influence the departure of Dusty Baker who was replaced by Dave Martinez.

“It really doesn’t make me crazy because it’s laughable,” Rizzo told The Sports Junkies Wednesday. “Anybody who knows me from Day 1 knows it’s laughable that some outside force is going to affect what decisions I make. I make decisions for the long-term benefit of the Washington Nationals franchise. And I think we’ve done it as good or better than any franchise in all of baseball over the last six or seven seasons, and it’s no accident.”

Mike Rizzo and his staff will be busy this week as Rizzo lays much of the groundwork during the GM Meetings for potential trades and free agents. This year should be no different.

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When a mother’s creativity took her talents to sculpting the #Nats Mt. Rushmore and more!

As the autumnal equinox turned the calendar from summer to fall, it was a reminder to Catherine Ladd, a mother of four, to consult with her children on what they wanted to be for Halloween. Sure, Catherine had about 35 days before Halloween, but she is a planner and not a procrastinator. Her older sons wanted to be Washington Nationals players like Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth, and then after some brainstorming the ideas got bolder with the kids wanting to be “Racing Presidents“. Mom got to work on research and development thinking she could create the presidents in sizes to fit 4 foot tall boys who weigh about 70 pounds.

Catherine Ladd is from Missouri and her husband, Scott Ladd, is from Potomac, Maryland. They grew up liking other teams, but when Washington got the Nationals in 2005, their allegiances changed to the Nats and when they had children, they became rabid Nats fans also and it became a family thing.

YouTube videos on the papier-mâché process became her basic training for this gigantic Halloween endeavor. How many people back in elementary school did papier-mâché on top of balloons to make pint-sized heads? For this project, Catherine had to think much larger and scale it to fit a 10-year-old. She used those giant sized yoga balls to create the basic shape of the heads. Ladd studied as an interior designer specializing in commercial architecture so she had some artistic background to pull this off and have enough confidence to move forward.

Continue reading

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