Wire Taps: 2011 Washington Nationals 80-81 Edition; Stephen Strasburg 10 K Edition.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals pitches during a game against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium on September 28, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

• Winter Without Baseball Day One: I wanted to, I really did. I could have watched the Phillies/Braves with my brother, a Braves fan, but I couldn't. I could have watched the AL Wild Card situation sort itself out. But, no. From everything I've read this morning, including a thread here at Federal Baseball, I missed one of the greatest nights of baseball in recent memory. The Washington Nationals' final game of 2011 ended at approximately 6:30, I posted my game story at 7:00 and went to a movie, Ryan Gosling in "Drive", and tried to forget for a minute that I was about to enter into another long winter of Arizona Fall League games, Hot Stove Rumors and five months+ of waiting for Spring Training to start. Thankfully, after Stephen Strasburg's dominant outing in Game 161, Nats fans end the season on an optimisitic note. Another 10-game improvement. Who could have predicted that?

March 23, 2011:

Q: How many games will the Washington Nationals win in 2011? Federal Baseball: 75-79, another ten win jump. Considering how little pitchers like Marquis and Zimmermann contributed last season it shouldn’t be out of the question, I’d be very surprised to see a .500 team at this point…2012-13 though…

• LINKS AND LINKS AND...

• NATS BEAT: 

• "At one point, Strasburg struck out eight in a span of nine hitters, reaching 99 miles per hour with his fastball." - "Stephen Strasburg strikes out 10 Marlins in Nationals season finale" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "'I think the bar has been raised,' said Nationals general manger Mike Rizzo. 'We still came in third place which is not where we want to be but we see progress.'" - "Strasburg earns first win of year as Nats take season finale" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "The most remarkable thing about Strasburg's six-inning, 10-strikeout performance in the Nationals' 3-1 win over the Marlins on Wednesday afternoon was how effortless it seemed." - "Stephen Strasburg's impressive outing a teaser for 2012" - Ben Goessling, MASNSports.com

• "'I was pretty impressed and what I liked more about it was that he just pitched,' Johnson said. 'He didn’t overthrow, stayed within himself, made pitches.'" - "Strasburg has impressive outing vs. Marlins" - Bill Ladson, All Nats All the Time

• "Michael Morse, among other Nationals, said it best: 'I can’t wait for next season.'" - "HELLER: Great expectations are just around the corner" - Dick Heller, Washington Times

• "The players in the clubhouse hope he will return to his managerial role next year. And [Davey] Johnson does, too." - "Davey Johnson wants to manage the Nationals in 2012" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "'We're going to take some deep breaths, go unpack and the decision will be made after that,' Rizzo said." - "Mike Rizzo on the Nationals' managerial search" - Ben Goessling, MASNSports.com

• "'I didn’t plan on starting this job,' he said Wednesday afternoon. 'But when I start something I like to finish it. We haven’t finished anything." - "Johnson wants to come back to manage Nationals" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Gone are the days when Zimmerman was the lone cornerstone for the future. He's surrounded by young, talented players who established themselves this season..." - "Nats ready to take the next step" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "[Davey] Johnson wants to come back as the field general because he feels he is the best candidate for the job and likes the direction the team is going in." - "Davey Johnson wants to manage Nationals in 2012" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "And, less I forget, the Nats finished with a record of 80-81, a game under the break-even mark, but slightly beyond my projections from last March." - "Still the best sport" - Phil Wood, MASNSports.com

• "As Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said following Wednesday evening's game, 'We start thinking about 2012 on the plane ride home.'" - "Nationals wrap up the 2011 season on a high note" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Another surprising aspect of the research was that the idea that teams approach contention incrementally, at least with regard to major league performance, seems to be a myth." - "Looking at the Nationals’ improvement" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "'We're going to take some deep breaths, go unpack and the decision will be made after that,' Rizzo said." - "Mike Rizzo on the Nationals' managerial search" - Ben Goessling, MASNSports.com

• "'Davey has believed in me ever since the beginning,' Desmond said. 'That's what he does for everybody in the clubhouse. He puts us in situations where we can succeed.'" - "Washington Nationals at Florida Marlins: Strasburg fans 10, wins season finale" - Bill Ladson, MLB.com WSH Recap

• "'We certainly would consider trading some of our pitching depth to fill some of our needs if the trade makes sense to us.'" - Mike Rizzo - "Rizzo: Nationals' pitching depth necessary currency to pull off major trade" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "The number of viewers for Nationals broadcasts on MASN in September was 65 percent higher than this time last season." - "Nats' surge at season's end boosts TV ratings, ticket sales" - Amanda Comak, Nathan Fenno - Washington Times

• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama): "All human endeavor is potentially great and noble - so long as we carry out our work with good motivation." - 

• NATSTOWN: 

• "Season Review: 2011 DSL Nationals" - NationalsProspects.com

• "So. Last night was probably the single greatest night of baseball in the history of the world." - "Um... Wow" - Mac, Capitol Baseball

• "Instead, the Nats finish 80-81: 44-36 at home, 36-45 on the road. Not too shabby." - "The epitaph of the 2011 Washington Nationals reads as follows..." - Nats Enquirer:

• "Strasburg was simply sensational, using all of his pitches in a masterful performance. The Marlins got one base hit, a sawed-off bloop single from Gaby Sanchez in the second inning." - "GAME 161 REVIEW: Nationals End Season on High Note, Beat Florida 3-1" - Dave Nichols, NatsNewsNetwork

• "The stars had to align in an incredible way for things to happen the way that they did late Wednesday night." - "The Most Incredible Night in Baseball History" - Joe Drugan, The Nats Blog

• "Groundballs become hits more often. But they're better for pitchers because they never become home runs. That's all there is to it." - "Boz Bugs Me" - Steven, FJB

• "Since he's out of the lineup for today's finale, Morse's final line (not withstanding a pinch-hit chance) is .303/.360/.550 with 31 homers and 95 RBIs in 571 plate appearances." - "Revisiting My Michael Morse Projection" - Dave Nichols, NatsNewsNetwork

• NL EAST UPDATES: 

Marlins: "'I want people to be proud to wear the Marlins jersey, for kids to say, ‘I’m a Marlins fan,’ Guillen said." - "Florida Marlins introduce Ozzie Guillen as new manager" - Linda Robertson, MiamiHerald.com

Mets: "Prior to the game, Reyes informed  Terry Collins that if he did manage to get a hit in first at-bat, he would then remove himself from the game, which he did - to a chorus of boos from the sparse crowd at Citi Field." - "B&C Morning Show: Jose Reyes Goes Out Like A Chump" - CBS New York

Braves: "This is not a "Fire Fredi Gonzalez" column. But we’ve just witnessed one of the worst collapses in sports history...' - "Braves collapse, and the shine just came off Fredi Gonzalez" - Jeff Schultz, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Braves/Phillies: "This wasn't the way Braves fans pictured this team going out. Large wild card leads in late August and early September seemed at one point too large to lose, but they weren't." - "Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves Series Recap" - SCrebel10, Talking Chop

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