Monday, September 28, 2015

Now They're Done

Note from your author: What follows was written prior to the choke hold heard round the twitter-verse. If anything, I think it's even more applicable now. If you want an opinion on the Harper-Papelbon dust up, there are plenty of hot takes out there, including a good one by Boswell. But I will offer up a few points to consider: 1. Yes, Harper took his time getting to first. However, even if that lazy fly ball was dropped in shallow left, he would have been safe at first and no amount of hustle would have gotten him to second safely. 2. If the team does decide that his "lack" of hustle means something, it should be a veteran National pulling him aside in the privacy of the clubhouse. Someone like Jayson Werth or Ryan Zimmerman, not rent-a-closer Papelbon who has all of 5 weeks with the team. 3. This clearly goes back to Harper's comments to the media, venting his frustration at Papelbon's beaning of Machado during the Orioles series. It may have been ill advised for Harper to be so blunt to the media, but the repercussions of that should (and usually do) take place behind closde doors 4: This turns an already sticky situation into a disaster. In trading for Papelbon, The Nationals excommunicated their own closer, Drew Storen, who now has a broken hand. Papelbon has assaulted the Nats best player. Matt Williams looked on, and essentially sided with Papelbon (quick aside, his lame excuse of not knowing how bad the confrontation was ignores the fact that it's in his job description to know and, even worse, that two of his bench coaches were the ones breaking up the fight. If he didn't see it himself, he had the resources to find out, if he wanted to). The people siding with Papelbon in this honestly astound me. Can Harper rub people the wrong way on the field? Sure. But that's, like, your opinion man. That's not a justifiable reason to assault the kid. Anyways, fun end to the season right? Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The Mets finally put the Nationals out of their misery over the weekend by beating the Reds Saturday night. It was a long time coming, since the Nationals got swept at home by the Mets earlier in the month, essentially, but now it’s official and everyone can move on from this disaster of a season.

Despite all the frustration that was the 2015 season, let’s not forget there were some great moments this year. Bryce Harper put together an offensive season that rivaled the greatest single seasons in MLB history and will likely bring home the MVP hardware at the end of the season. Max Scherzer was literally unhittable for nearly an entire month and threw a perfect game no hitter (are you sure Jose Tabata is a real person?). Joe Ross proved he can hang at the major league level and makes the departure of Jordan Zimmermann a little easier to digest. Finally, in a development that is flying under the radar, Stephen Strasburg has found his old mechanics and is putting together a stretch of really impressive starts that bodes well for him in 2016.

So the Nationals 2015 season is essentially over. There will be lots to cover this offseason. We will do our individual player reviews and some team level analysis to discover what went wrong in 2015 and what that means for the 2016 season. We will point fingers and decide who should be fired and who should stay. We will peruse the free agent market and debate Qualifying Offers. That’s all on deck for the offseason.

But, while the Nationals season is over, the baseball season is far from over. It’s always hard to watch the postseason when you don’t have a horse in the race, but this postseason figures to be a fun one to watch. Heck, even the finish to this regular season could be an exciting couple of weeks. The AL West is still up for grabs, with the Astros and Angels sitting 2.5 and 3.0 games back of the Rangers, respectively. Furthermore, the race for the second AL Wild Card spot is a neck and neck race between the Astros, Angels, Twins and Indians. Once the playoffs roll around, we will have the pleasure of a one game playoff between two teams with title hungry fan bases in the Cubs and Pirates. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke will bring their pitching dominance to a playoff run. The Cardinals will test their devil magic and see if their zombie lineup of injured stars and untested rookies can hold up in the heat of the playoffs. The Royals will look to make another magic run on the back of their speedy lineup and shutdown bullpen.

There will be plenty of time to deconstruct the Nationals season, and you can get all the analysis here once the offseason rolls around. But for now, let’s enjoy the quality baseball still to come.


  1. Thanks for your excellent commentary throughout the season. I wish you could do this for another month. Two ideas: what managers are out there to replace MW, and what are the main roster changes we can expect?

    1. Thanks for the compliment. As always, the best compliment I can get is to have people forward the blog around!
      As to your questions, these are obviously two of the biggest questions facing the Nats this offseason, so I'll devote some individual blog posts to these very questions. But, quickly, the Nats should be looking for someone with manager experience. That means (by my opinion) no Cal Ripken, as fun as that would be. Randy Knorr wouldn't be a terrible idea. The big roster moves will be which players to offer QO to, how to rebuild the bullpen, and who plays shortstop. I wouldn't expect Rizzo to make any big splashes, though.