Washington Nationals: Weekend Roundup.

• Sadly, the Washington Nationals get just one mention in New York Times' writer Tyler Kepner's look back at the first decade of the 21st century in Major League Baseball entitled, "The Yankees, and Everything in Between", in recognition of the Yanks' 2000 and '09 World Series wins, between which, Mr. Kepner notes, five of the, "...eight teams (that) had never been to the World Series," made their first appearance, leaving, "...only three: the Texas Rangers, the Washington Nationals and the Seattle Mariners," as the major league franchises who have yet to make it to the World Series. 

The Rangers' streak of seasons without a trip to the Series stretches back, of course, to their time as the Senators in DC, going back to 1961, the first year after the Original Senators left to become the Twins. The Nationals stretch of futility stretches to the Montreal Expos' inaugural campaign in 1969, during which time they've made just one playoff appearance, in 1981 when they were able to sneak in by winning the NL East in the second-half of a strike- shortened season and beat the Phillies in a Division Series before losing to Mike Scioscia, Steve Garvey, Fernando Valenzuela and the '81 LA Dodgers in the NLCS. 

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• Jim Riggleman/Baseball Prospectus Q&A.

• 2010 Bullpen Projections. 

 

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• Jim Riggleman/Baseball Prospectus Q&A.

The most interesting discussion in Baseball Prospectus' writer David Laurila's interview with Washington Nationals' Manager Jim Riggleman in an article this weekend entitled, "Prospectus Q&A", occurs when the 57-year-old skipper is asked about any concerns he might have about managing the Nationals' '09 No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg, knowing that any injuries which might befall the young starter could be connected to the man who's managing the team at the time. In response, Riggleman explains that whether it's Kerry Wood in Chicago, or Jordan Zimmermann last year in DC, sometimes injuries can't be avoided, but as he says:

"In the case of Stephen Strasburg, we will do what we did with Jordan Zimmermann. We’ll be extremely careful, and as careful as we can be, there is no guarantee. That’s the thing where the ownership has really shown great courage in making this kind of financial commitment to a pitcher, because he clearly was the best in the nation, but there is nothing saying that he isn’t going to get hurt. We can try to minimize the risk, but we minimized the risk on Jordan Zimmermann, and he got hurt."

Just how much time Strasburg spends in Washington this summer has yet to be determined, and may be by the other moves DC GM Mike Rizzo is able to make in the two-months-plus that remain before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. The entire interview with Jim Riggleman is available even without a subscription to Baseball Prospectus, elsewhere in the article, the Nationals' Manager discusses how much statistical analysis influences his decision making, what similarities he sees between himself and former manager Manny Acta and just how closely he's working with Mr. Rizzo in making decisions this offseason. Read it HERE or in the title link above.

• 2010 Bullpen Projections. 

Working with the twenty-ten bullpen that Washington Times' writer Mark Zuckerman suggests in a recent Times Chatter post entitled, "The Capps effect", I thought it might be interesting to see what The Bill James Handbook 2010 predicts for the Nationals' relievers. Mr. Zuckerman presents a bullpen that he sees as being significantly more impressive that last year's edition, predicting the following pitchers will make the roster coming out of Spring Training: (Bill James' Predictions from Fangraphs.com): 

  1. Matt Capps - (3-3), 3.47 ERA, 57.0 IP, 30 Saves, 45 K's (7.26 K/9), 11 BB (1.74 BB/9), 7 HR, .258 BAA. 
  2. Brian Bruney - (3-3), 4.68 ERA, 50.0 IP, 48 K's (8.64 K/9), 34 BB (6.12 BB/9), 5 HR, .242 BAA. 
  3. Drew Storen - '09 Stats (A,AA,AAA) - (2-1), 1.95 ERA, 11 Saves, 37.0 IP,  49 K's (11.9 K/9), 8 BB, (1.9 BB/9), 2 HR, .162 BAA. 
  4. Sean Burnett - (2-3), 5.14 ERA, 49.0 IP, 27 K's (4.96 K/9), 25 BB (4.59 BB/9), 5 HR, .281 BAA. 
  5. Eddie Guardado 162-G-AVG - (3-4), 4.32 ERA, 69.0 IP, 58 K's (7.6 K/9), 25 BB (3.3 BB/9), 10 HR.
  6. Tyler Clippard - (4-6), 4.55 ERA, 91.0 IP, 84 K's (8.31 K/9), 45 BB (4.45 BB/9), 13 HR (1.29 HR/9), .249 BAA. 
  7. Jason Bergmann - (3-4), 4.35 ERA, 60.0 IP, 48 K's (7.20 K/9), 24 BB (3.60 BB/9), 8 HR (1.20 HR/9), .259 BAA.
Four of the seven are new arrivals in DC, with only Clippard and Bergmann pitching in the Washington organization when the '09 campaign began. Left-hander Doug Slaten, claimed off waivers from the D-Backs might fit in here somewhere as well. Last year's bullpen posted a league-high 5.09 ERA, with a league-worst 25 blown saves, league-leading .261 BAA, the most walks 288 (with 21 more BB than the second-place team), the third-most HR's allowed and 11 more losses than any other bullpen in the National League. 
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