While it was a very mild winter in the Mid-Atlantic region, it feels like forever since I have had a reason to interact with my readers, so with MASN televising tonight’s Nationals game against Detroit, I thought this was a good reason to do a Live Blog – Join me at 6pm with your questions, thoughts, or even your heckles in the comment’s section below. Thanks!
5:59pm -> We are LIVE!!! from the now-famous butterfly chair in the NatsGM headquarters as I settle in for tonight’s Nationals game against Detroit. Edwin Jackson is the starting pitcher for the Nationals against a mixture of starters and reserves for the Tigers. I hope you join me with your thoughts in the comment’s section below, by email email@example.com or on Twitter @NatsGMdotcom.
Scott from the Comments Section -> “Any surprises amongst the first round of cuts yesterday?”
Scott, thanks for writing… No particular surprises from the first round of cuts, I thought Rafael Martin and Jared Hoffpauir might stay in major league camp longer than the first wave of cuts, but neither was going to make the big club. Otherwise, it was good to see the Nationals push Matt Purke and Anthony Rendon to High-A Potomac to begin the year.
6:08pm -> Wow, Edwin Jackson just struck out Andy Dirks with a nasty 3-2 slider…. best slider I have seen in 2012 thus far. Two quick outs for Jackson and the Nats-
6:09pm -> Bad error by Jason Michaels on a routine fly ball to left field, and definitely not any help to Michaels as he is currently in a dogfight for a bench position with Brett Carroll and others.
6:11pm -> The next batter, Ryan Raburn, takes Jackson deep to left field for a home run… Michaels’ error cost the Nationals 2 runs…. After the 1st, 2-0 Detroit.
6:14pm -> Ian Desmond leads off with an opposite field double that appeared close to being a home run. Nice to see him drive a pitch hard to the right side. Desmond is one of the biggest keys for the Nationals and their success or lack thereof this year.
Lawrence via Email -> “NatsGM, what is your prediction for the Nationals bench on opening day?”
Lawrence, thanks for the email – Jesus Flores and Mark DeRosa are locked into positions on the bench, and I think Roger Bernadina and Steve Lombardozzi should feel pretty secure of their spots as well. The final slot is up for grabs between a few names, specifically Jason Michaels and Brett Carroll as mentioned above. That said, I would not be surprised if the final name is not with the Nationals as of yet, and is acquired via trade or free agency closer to opening day. Thanks for writing-
6:21pm -> An infield single by Danny Espinosa and a sacrifice fly by Ryan Zimmerman, who continues his outstanding spring, and the Nationals are now trailing 2-1.
6:24pm -> Mark DeRosa has a terrific at-bat with two outs – He was very impressive to me last week while I was in Viera and he has continued to hit ever since. His signing was somewhat under the radar this winter but I think he has the potential to be a real asset as a utility player this season.
Werth flies out to deep right field to end the 1st inning, after 1, Tigers lead 2-1.
6:28pm -> Totally off-topic but who thought or thinks signing Pierre Garcon for $40+ million dollars is a good idea for the Redskins? Further proof D.C. will be a baseball town in 6 months.
6:30pm -> Three up and three down 2nd inning from Edwin Jackson… he looks terrific so far aside from the one pitch to Raburn. Fastball and slider are both midseason quality and impressive through 2 innings.
6:36pm -> If the rumors are true that Detroit is interested in acquiring LHP John Lannan, Nationals fans should probably be rooting hard for the Nationals to hit tonight’s starting pitcher LHP Duane Below around the park.
@ScottySnodgrass via Twitter – @NatsGMdotcom What are the chances John Lannan is traded by the Nats prior to Opening Day?
Scott, nice meeting you last week in Viera – Although I do not have any inside information, the odds are pretty high that Lannan gets traded before Opening Day, as the roster crunch somewhat dictates it. I would put it at 60% he is in another uniform before April 5th. Thanks for the question.
6:42pm -> Nationals strand a runner in the bottom of the 2nd… after 2 innings, Detroit 2-1. Edwin Jackson returns for his 3rd inning of work.
6:48pm -> Edwin Jackson topping out around 90-91mph with his fastball today, with some movement. Runners now at the corners with 1 out in the 3rd.
6:51pm -> Nice 5-3 double play started by Ryan Zimmerman to get the Nationals out of the inning and minimizing the damage. Detroit scored a run in the 3rd to now lead 3-1.
6:58pm -> Zimmerman rips a double with one out in the 3rd – Ryan is completely locked in right now and hitting the ball hard each time up. He cannot wait for the season to start.
6:59pm -> And yes Mr. Santangelo to answer your question, Zimmerman is the most underrated player in baseball.
@DavidWillams6 via Twitter -> @NatsGMdotcom what are the odds that Bryce Harper heads north with the Nationals?
Quick answer, not nearly as good as they were a week ago, but with his injured calf and missing some games this week, I would figure his odds are less than 20% now. That said, he will not be in the minor leagues for long, and I think June 1st is a good over/under date for when he is called up to Washington.
7:08pm -> Two terrific at-bats from Mark DeRosa and Jayson Werth, as they both draw walks to load the bases – With that, the Tigers are pulling their pitcher Duane Below, after 2.2 innings tonight as Wilson Ramos comes to bat. LHP Adam Wilk enters in relief for Detroit.
Prediction time – Some quick Nationals predictions for 2012: Comeback player of the year – Jayson Werth, Breakout player of the year – Wilson Ramos, Best Free Agent Signing – Edwin Jackson, and Surprise Player of the year – Mark DeRosa
7:20pm -> Edwin Jackson appears to be tiring as he walks the first two batters in the 4th inning. I wonder how much longer he will remain in the game? Ross Detwiler is expected to follow Jackson this evening.
7:24pm -> Following a bloop hit to center field, Jackson’s evening is finished with 1 out in the 4th inning. Jackson numbers do not reflect how well he pitched, as he looked solid through 3 innings and appeared to tire in the 4th. Now, a NatsGM personal favorite, Ross Detwiler, comes in to pitch for the Nationals.
7:27pm -> Love that you can hear the Space Coast Stadium “Ice Cold Beer Man” through the MASN broadcast microphone. If you have ever been to a game there, you know that man, and yes his beer “is cold and in ice!” as he promises: you won’t find a colder beer in Viera, I promise you-
7:29pm -> Detwiler impressive in relief as he shuts the door on the Tigers in the top of the 4th – now Detroit leads 4-1
James via the NatsGM Facebook page -> “What is your prediction for the bullpen come opening day for the Nats?”
James, thanks for writing and for your support – As for my predictions for the bullpen, I would expect it to be comprised of Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Brad Lidge, Sean Burnett, Henry Rodriguez, Ross Detwiler, and Tom Gorzelanny, with Ryan Mattheus being the final and toughest pitcher to cut.
7:38pm -> Love hearing Drew Storen interviewed by Bob and F.P., doing a great impression of Bob Carpenter. Besides Bryce Harper who will receive all the media attention he wants once he arrives in Washington, I predict Storen will be the breakout media star of the team this season.
7:41pm -> The Nationals bats have gotten awfully quiet the last two innings – still 4-1 Tigers through 4 innings.
7:47pm -> Ryan Raburn continues to wear out the Nationals (and all spring training pitchers) with another RBI single as the Tigers now lead 5-1.
7:49pm -> Ryan Zimmerman just made one of the best defensive plays you will see from a third baseman all season, throwing out a runner at 2nd on a slow bunt to him. Tough to really impress a big league player, but Drew Storen was clearly impressed with that play.
7:53pm -> Detwiler really struggling with his release point right now, and is having trouble locating the strike zone.
7:56pm -> Detwiler finally gets the 3rd out on a soft fly ball to shallow right field, to the bottom of the 5th, 5-1 Detroit
7:59pm -> Andy Wilk may not be a top prospect or have a recognizable name, but he is absolutely baffling the Nationals hitters right now. Very impressive job mixing his speeds and getting some awkward swings from the Nats regulars. After a leadoff hit by Danny Espinosa, three quick outs. After 5 innings, 5-1 Tigers
8:04pm -> Mark Teahan enters at 3B, Andres Blanco at SS, Steve Lombardozzi in at 2B, and Chad Tracy at 1B… Tracy is in a dogfight for the last spot on the bench and has had a nice camp thus far, and Blanco appears to be behind Lombardozzi for the utility infielder spot.
8:08pm -> Detwiler continues to struggle with his command but gets out of the 6th unscathed… Still 5-1 Detroit. Not sure if Ross returns for the 7th inning, but this outing will not be on his highlight tape.
8:11pm -> Werth leads off the bottom of the 6th with a monster home run to right field off Jose Valverde – that’s a wonderful sign as that was reminiscent of his days in Philly.
8:17pm -> When asked by Bob and F.P. his approach to sliding this season, Ryan Zimmerman answered “just hit home runs and you don’t have to worry about sliding” – this is going to be a great year…
After 6 innings and the Jayson Werth home run, Detroit now leads 5-2.
Steve via Email -> “NatsGM, I assume you are a fantasy player, who are your sleepers for this season?”
Steve, thanks for the question and most certainly I play fantasy baseball… I wonder, is there any interest in forming a NatsGM league? If so, contact me and maybe we could get one together, but I digress. I will answer this question more fully in a “Dear NatsGM” column in the next few days, but I really like Pedro Alvarez and Dustin Ackley to have big seasons from players perhaps not expected to do so. Thanks again!
8:26pm -> Quick, impressive inning from Brad Lidge in the 7th. His slider was outstanding, moving straight downward reminiscent of a split-finger. Time to stretch Nats fans, still Detroit 5-2
8:28pm -> It’s beer time…. Laughing Skull Amber Ale it is!
8:31pm -> Long-time reliever Octavio Dotel enters the game and immediately gives up a two-base error (I called it a hit) to Andres Blanco and a walk to Steve Lombardozzi… Now Mark Teahan to bat in a nice spot to make an impression on Davey Johnson and tie the game with one swing.
8:34pm -> Teahan singled to left, Tyler Moore popped out to third, then Chad Tracy hit a sacrifice fly to score Lombardozzi – another nice at-bat for Tracy this spring. Now 5-3 Detroit, top of the 8th inning.
8:38pm -> As Bob comes back from commercial, “a lovely Friday evening here in Viera…” ummm, Friday, someone isn’t in midseason form yet-
8:44pm -> Tyler Clippard struck out Eric Patterson on a devastating changeup… Patterson was so far out front he missed that pitch by nearly a foot.
8:48pm -> Tigers score another run in the 8th inning and now lead 6-3… Clippard’s changeup was excellent but he seemed to struggle a bit with the fastball. Rally time-
Jenny D. via Email -> “Great coverage of the Nationals while you were in Viera; who was the most impressive player(s) you watched that were not established names?”
Jenny, thanks for the question – Besides some of the bigger names, I was very impressed with Tyler Moore’s bat and how solid he looked at third base, Michael Taylor’s physical makeup and talent is off-the-charts as is his bat speed, and Bryce Harper’s desire and hustle stood out to me as well. There were many others that impressed, but those three immediately come to mind.
9:00pm -> This game sure is dragging for a spring training game and Lakeland is a decent drive from Viera, would expect the Tiger hitters to be swinging in the 9th… After 8 innings, the Nationals trail 6-3
9:04pm -> So I focus on baseball for 3 hours and in that time the Redskins signed 3 Wide Receivers and spent $60 million… That makes sense, not at all -
9:08pm -> Onto the bottom of the 9th and the Nationals need runs, trailing 6-3
9:14pm -> Jose Ortega enters as the reliever for Detroit in the 9th… he has a small frame and a massive fastball – big arm on this young man, file his name away as a player to remember.
9:20pm -> With that Ortega sends the Nationals down three up and three down to end the game – the Nationals fall 6-3 this evening.
Final impressions, first for Detroit, I was very impressed with Adam Wilk and Jose Ortega, two names I was not particularly familiar with prior to this evening, but they certainly made quite a lasting impression. Also, Ryan Raburn continued his hot hitting this spring with two hits including a home run in the first inning – if he winds up batting #2 in front of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, he could be in for a monster season.
As for the Nationals, plenty of positives to take from this loss as both Jayson Werth and Mark DeRosa were impressive at the plate with solid at-bats, especially Werth’s rocket opposite field home run. Pitching wise, Edwin Jackson’s stuff tonight was much better than his results tonight, as his fastball had some life and his slider had major downward movement. Brad Lidge also deserves a mention as well, pitching a 1-2-3 inning and flashing his plus slider that moved straight down, more similar to a split-finger.
Thank you to everyone who join me this evening with your questions and for following along with this Live Blog. I encourage you to follow me on Twitter @NatsGMdotcom, email me NationalsGM@gmail.com, and “Like” me on Facebook search NatsGM.