Should the Nationals 2014 Season be Viewed as a Failure

After losing in the first round of the playoffs the Los Angeles Dodgers went out and hired Andrew Friedman to be their team president and are still searching for a GM. This is the reaction of a team that views not winning in the post-season to be a failure. The Nationals made no such move and shouldn’t. There are some that have said Matt Williams should be done after this season and if Mike Rizzo can’t take the Nationals deep into the post-season in 2015 then perhaps he should be gone as well. A 96 win season should never be viewed as a failure.

The playoffs are a funky thing. The Los Angeles Angels got swept by the Royals in the first round of the playoffs and the Royals are currently on an eight game post-season winning streak. The Royals are a good team, but even bad teams can get hot. The Washington Nationals suffered sweeps at the hands of the under .500 Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins this season. Any team can sweep another team in a short series. A cold good team meets a hot bad team and there is a recipe for a sweep. It is less likely in the playoffs as teams get to line up their pitching staffs but it still happens where a lesser team wins in dominating fashion because baseball is not a game made for small sample sizes.

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Citizens of Natstown 2014 End of Season Podcast

With the 2014 season in the rear view mirror the Citizens and good friend of the show Ryan Sullivan from NatsGM sit down for our annual roundtable to recap the 2014 season, talk about the Nats’ performance in the NLDS, decision points for players on expiring contracts as well as those a year out from free agency, somehow get on the topic of malls, and much more. As always, check out our Extra Life campaign; benefitting Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.

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Citizens of Natstown Podcast - Citizens of Natstown - A Washington Nationals Blog

Citizens of Natstown 2014 Wrap-Up

Off-season Targets: Jung-Ho Kang

With so many players in the last year of their deals and Mike Rizzo being a GM that likes to think more about the year after next than simply next year this could be an interesting off-season for the Nationals. With the potential for it to go in so many directions and for it to be quite unpredictable I am going to highlight a few of the players the Nats could go after starting with an international free agent who is going to be posted this November. Jung-Ho Kang is a shortstop by trade and has won the KBO equivalent of the gold glove but there are questions about both his bat and his glove, and how they translate to the major leagues.

Those questions exist about every international free agent or hot prospect for that matter. Until a player does it at the major league level there are going to be questions. There were questions about Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, and Jose Abreu as well and so far they have all had success in the major leagues, but that doesn’t mean the questions are unfounded. Jung-Ho Kang could be a flop, and there isn’t as much track record for KBO hitters as there is for Cuban hitters or Japanese pitchers. Teams should be wary, but they should also recognize this as a way to get talent that doesn’t cost prospects with a larger upside reward than regular free agency.

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The Playoffs Stink

I was originally going to write this right after Game 4, but I determined I was just too angry to give a fair assessment. The day after was a bit better, but I still wasn’t ready to do a deep dive into what went wrong. So here we are, having slept on it, pondered it, slept some more and pondered some more. Simply stated the playoffs stink. They’re an awful jumble of emotions and anxiety that no one should be put through willingly and yet we’re overjoyed when the occasion occurs. Make no mistake though, the Nationals did not lose this series because they are cursed, or because they aren’t a fundamentally sound team or didn’t “want” it enough. All of that is a bunch of hooey sold by snake charmers who don’t have two brain cells to rub together and come up with an actual piece of real analysis. Continue reading

Let’s Talk About the Nats Window

The window of opportunity is one of sports writer’s favorite clichés. It is a metaphor that many sports fans buy into because teams do go from being bad to being good and then back to bad, but this isn’t always the case. The Cardinals and Giants are playing yet again in the NLCS, and the last time one of those two teams wasn’t in the NLCS was 2009 when the Phillies and Dodgers matched up in that series. The strange thing about the Cardinals three straight NLCS appearances is that they’ve all come after Albert Pujols left via free agency. That was supposed to be when their window closed or start to close, but by filling the gaps with smart free agent signings, trades, and prospects the Cardinals have remained good.

This is why it is silly when people talk about the Nationals window closing. Even if the Nationals were banned from making free agent signings, trades, or drafting new players they could put a decent team on the field after Desmond, Zimmermann, Clippard, Fister, Span, Strasburg, Ramos, and Storen have all left via free agency after the 2015 and 2016 seasons. This is why 2017 is the year most people pick for when the Nationals window will be closed, but even if the Nats fail to re-sign any of the above players and are banned from making player acquisitions they still have the ability to put a competitive team on the field in 2017.

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Extra Life 2014: It’s for the Kids! And We Need Your Help!

Hey Everyone, just a quick audio promo for our Extra Life 2014 event that will be on October 25, 2014. We’re looking to raise $1,000 that will benefit Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

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Citizens of Natstown Podcast - Citizens of Natstown - A Washington Nationals Blog

Citizens of Natstown Extra Life Promo

A Disappointing End and the Road Ahead

The corpse of the Nats 2014 season isn’t even cold and it’s time to look ahead to the off-season. I sat and listened to the final game of the Nats season in pitch darkness as the thunder echoed and the storm raged outside my windows. Charlie and Dave’s voices guided me to the bitter bloody end as the Washington Nationals slit their own wrist on the field in San Francisco. Gio Gonzalez botched a comebacker and then faked out Rendon as he first went for and then peeled away from a bunted ball. Matt Williams went to his 8th best reliever in a critical spot after the Nats had tied the game and it all blew up.

The Nats shouldn’t be judged by the playoff series. The 162 games they played before that were far more important than those four. It is hard to deny that Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth’s bats looked old and slow. They Nats may have squeezed the last drops of talent from LaRoche and the dead money years of Werth’s contract may be at hand. Both of them had fine seasons, but two hits between the three and four hitters has a lot to do with the Nats offensive shortcomings in the series against the Giants.

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Ian Desmond: A Player to Watch in October

When asked which Nationals are key to winning in October the trendy picks are going to be Jayson Werth and his .264/.374/.586 postseason batting line or Bryce Harper along with the fact that he has the most raw talent of any National, hit .288/.359/.454 in the second half of the season, and is fully capable of a month like he had in April 2013 when he hit .344/.430/.720. Both of them are full capable of carrying the Nats for a month, but there is another Nat that is known for crazy hot streaks and can carry the team and that is Ian Desmond.

Ian Desmond finished the season with his best month hitting .277/.351/.458 and while that isn’t a particularly hot month for Ian Desmond he never had a truly cold month this season with April being his worst month with a .644 OPS. Ian Desmond never truly had one of his hot months in 2014 like he did in June of 2013 where he produced a .988 OPS or September of 2012 where he had a .927 OPS. Ian Desmond has always been a streaky hitter but he wasn’t for 2014 and that means the regular season ended with us still waiting for that true Ian Desmond hot streak.

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Citizens of Natstown Podcast 10/2/2014

On the eve of the NLDS the Citizens get together to welcome October, discuss what exactly lies between the Nats legs, NLDS match ups, the 2008 Cubs, Playoff roster predictions and more! Oh and stick around tip the end for a nice little rant by O’Hara. As always, check out our Extra Life campaign; benefitting Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.

Click here for more information about Extra Life

Citizens of Natstown Podcast - Citizens of Natstown - A Washington Nationals Blog

Citizens of Natstown 10/2/2014

HELP! Should I root for the San Francisco Giants or Pittsburgh Pirates, Tonight?

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ABOVE: Barry Bonds played for both San Francisco and Pittsburgh.  Now, he stands on rooftops casually drinking coffee and wearing Google Glass.  If the U.S. Postal Service wanted to (finally) make some money they should partner with Google and turn this picture (along with A-Rod, McGuire, Sosa, and Clemens) into a stamp series of all of them staring into the horizon with Google Glass.  Think about how much better that birthday card from your Aunt would be if the stamp was Sosa, wearing Glass, and sipping champagne on the bow of a ship (this picture may exist, by the way).  Alright hackers, enough of the nude celebs. You’ve been commissioned to find and leak steroid era players wearing Glass.

Time to move on.

The winner of tonight’s 1-game playoff between the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates will advance to play the Nats in the NLDS. There are plenty of articles bouncing around the net making very good statistical and strategic arguments for who the Nats should “root” for tonight so that the Nats can, presumably, have an easier path to advancing in the playoffs.

Those are all great. But, what about the fans out there who don’t care about the stats? How about the one’s that are essentially being guilt tripped into watching the Nats in the playoffs? Who should they root for?

Let’s take a look at some groups of people to help them identify which team they should want to spend their weekend watching the Nationals play.

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Jordan Zimmermann’s No-Hitter is an Exclamation Point on a Dominant Season for the Nationals

The four projected starters for the Nats postseason roster (Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, and Gio Gonzalez) all had one final tune up start before the post-season began. Gio Gonzalez was the first to pitch and he went seven innings with one hit, two walks, and twelve strikeouts. Doug Fister followed the next day pitching a complete game shutout allowing three hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. Stephen Strasburg was next and he pitched six shutout innings with two hits, one walk, seven strikeouts and again no runs allowed. All three of those starters went deep into the game, gave up at most three hits, and allowed zero runs. Jordan Zimmermann in his final start of the season topped them all throwing a complete game no-hitter with only one walk and another base runner reaching via a strikeout. It was a dominant start for Jordan Zimmermann that capped off a dominant run for the Washington Nationals, and the only reason more people don’t realize how well the Nationals have played is they didn’t do it for the whole 162 games.

As if it were a sign of things to come the Nationals on Opening Day would fall behind early, lose Wilson Ramos before the seventh inning stretch, and rally to win in extra innings. Those are all marks the Nationals wore for the entire season; a team that overcame injuries, finished the season with 36 comeback wins, and overcame a slow first couple months. April went well enough. It was a winning month with the Nationals finishing it 16-12 and two games back of the Atlanta Braves. May was the turn of the screw for the Nationals. It was a month all too reminiscent of 2013. Injuries mounted up as Ramos was joined on the DL by Zimmerman and Harper and finally LaRoche. It was the Nationals’ worst month of the season and on May 28 they hit their low water mark with a record of 25-27.

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Game 152: The One Where Life Stopped Mattering

Against your better instincts you decided to turn off the ‘Dog: The Bounty Hunter’ marathon and go outside.  ‘I’ll go for a walk.. maybe grab a coffee or a beer’ you thought.  You sit down at the bar counter and the man seated next to you glances at you casually.  Crap.  You both recognize each other.  Who knows from where — who cares from where, really.  ‘Is that Gary, or Grant, or maybe it’s Steve’ you think as you shake hands.  It doesn’t matter what his name is.  You’re stuck now.

“Can you believe how beautiful the weather’s been?  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love summer and all but I’ll take 70 degrees everyday all year,” said Gary, Grant, or maybe Steve as he let out a light chuckle.

You smile and agree.  This is how you’re going to be passing the time.

This is what life is like now for everything involved with the Washington Nationals.  Sure, everyone is polite enough to sit through a conversation about the weather because there is nothing interesting to talk about, but no one is enjoying it.  Everything involved with the Nationals is in excitement limbo as it’s just beyond the “OMG NL EAST CHAMPS” phase and a bit too early for the “OMG LET’S FINISH OUT AND PLAYOFFS PLAYOFFS PLAYOFFS” phase.  This is a good problem to have, and many other organizations who are in a tight race right now would undoubtedly trade spots, but boy oh boy is it boring.

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Dan Kolko: A Modern Day Tragedy

Pride has brought down countless people throughout mankind.  Most of the time- us- the mere spectators in their great play, don’t get the access to see it happen in real time.  Sure the events get pieced together after the fact, but it is quite rare when we get to watch it unfold on live TV.  What I’m about to share with you is a true story of what the MASN viewing audience saw last night.  Let it be a cautionary tale.

The Tragedy Of Dan Kolko

Dan Kolko was a hard working kid.  The kind of guy willing to fill in on NatsExtra, or help set up interviews.  He was a salt of the Earth, real blue collar American.  Look at him here:

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Just like us, he was willing to dip fried dough into some sugary sauce before likely heading off to his bowling league. Continue reading