Two former NL East GM's shared their opinions on the future of the Washington Nationals yesterday afternoon with one-time Mets' GM Steve Phillips appearing on 660 WFAN The Fan in NY with Mike Francesca to talk about the success the Nats have had so far this season and what to expect the rest of the way, while former DC GM Jim Bowden shared what he believed to be the Nationals' plans for this year's draft on the Twitter. Phillips and Francesca began the Nats talk with a discussion about Livan Hernadez, who failed to impress anyone in his short time with the Mets last season, but has gotten out to a surprisingly good start in twenty-ten with Washington:
Mike Francesca: "Last year he looked like you had to get the infielders off the field to protect them, right now, even yesterday where he didn't get a decision, he pitched 7.0 innings of 1-run baseball, he's got a 1.00 ERA, how is it possible? How is it possible Livan Hernandez has a WHIP under 1.00 and a 1.00 ERA?"
Steve Phillips: "Smoke and mirrors, I think is how he's doing it. I'll tell you this, I'm willing to say right now that come August he'll be released from the Washington Nationals. I mean, you look at his history, and he's never been this good the first part of the season, but he always seems to get off to a fairly decent start, but as the season goes along, that stuff catches up to him. It's amazing. He's has more guts than any pitcher at the major league level, because to have the courage to throw that stuff over the plate, that he throws up there, and not be afraid of getting a line drive back, or that he's going to hurt a third baseman. It's amazing because he does not have dominant stuff, he works a sequence of pitches, he can throw up any pitch at any time in the count to keep hitters off-balance, but sooner or later it seems like stuff catches up to him and he gets crushed, and I can't believe that this year will be any different than the last three, four or five years for him and by August I don't think he's going to be a Washington National and I think he'll be released and looking for another job."
Mike Francesca: "Now, Washington comes into NY now 17-14, they're getting ready, people are talking about the first week in June for the phenom, I've seen June 6-8 as the weekend they're talking about for [Stephen Strasburg] to come...but that first week of June, they come to NY over .500, we just mentioned Livan Hernandez, [Matt] Capps is 13 for 13 in save opportunities, [Tyler] Clippard is a guy who's (6-0), now he has blown saves but his ERA is under 1.00, he's got a WHIP under 1.00, so Clippard setting up Capps, the two of them have had great numbers, they've had incredible success at the start, I mean, you buy in to Clippard and Capps as they get ready to welcom the phenom to the major leagues?"
Steve Phillips: "No, not really. Look, I think Matt Capps is a tough competitive guy, I think we saw that in Pittsburgh with him, I mean he's a real competitor, but I don't think he's a legitimate first division closer, and Clippard has had the hot hand, there's no question about it, I mean 12 hits in almost 24.0 innings for him so far this year, and I've never seen that kind of stuff from him that would warrant that. They've ridden the hot hand and that goes a long way with a young team, with young starting pitchers to have guys that can get the job done there, but they can score runs. You know, last year their offense was okay, I mean they can do some things swinging the bats there and put up some runs on the board, the question was always going to be was their pitching good enough? And I don't think it's good enough over the long haul. I mean, Scott Olsen has always had good stuff from the left side, he made a run at a no-hitter the other day, but I don't see him as a legitimate guy to be a first division pitcher. So, you know what, they're improving, I think right now they're the best team in the Washington/Baltimore area, and they're moving in one direction, the Orioles are moving in another direction and I think you're going to start possibly seeing that fanbase shift a little bit as they become disgruntled over in Baltimore."
Mike Francesca: "That's a very good point, they have to watch that, because that scenario, that it can split either way, and the Orioles can't afford to give up all those fans, and if they get themselves a couple of more exciting players, that could switch dramatically there and that's a dangerous thing for the Orioles."
Steve Phillips: "The crazy thing about it is Peter Angelos wins either way, cause he has the regional broadcasting rigths for the Nationals as well, so there's no real motivation for him to do anything that dramatically different for the Baltimore Orioles, because if the Nationals do well and more interest is there, you know what, he's capitalizing on the regional broadcast advertising and sponsorship deals he's going to get anyway having those broadcast rights."
• Bowden on Bryce:
The College of Southern Nevada ended their regular season schedule this weekend by dropping three of four on the road in Utah against Salt Lake Community College, but Bryce Harper continued to hit, going 4 for 12 with 1 double, 1 triple, 2 HR's and 4 RBI's. In 55 games, in his freshman year, as a 17-year-old, playing with a wood bat, and opponents a few years older than he is, Harper ends the year hitting .417 (75 for 180) with a .509 OBP, .917 SLG, 17 doubles, 2 triples, 23 HR's, 68 RBI's, 16 stolen bases and a .982 fld%, establishing himself as by far the top-rated prospect in the country heading into next year's draft, and if you believe what the Washington Nationals' former GM Jim Bowden wrote on twitter yesterday (@JimBowdenXMFOX), the top pick in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft:
"Nationals are taking Bryce Harper with the first pick in the draft. His make-up is fine. Maybe some immaturity. Superstar LH 40 HR BAT"
Is there any doubt in your mind that the Nationals will select Harper no.1 overall on June 7th?