Davey Johnson made some headlines with a joke about his team and Boston Red Sox' catcher Mike Napoli's personal life, but perhaps the most interesting thing the 70-year-old skipper said this morning concerned the Washington Nationals' $28M closer. Early in his interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Sports Junkies, the Nats' skipper talked about the struggles the team as a whole has dealt with this season, especially offensively, and whether or not he expects the offense to bounce back next year.
"I don't think last year was a career year for everybody," Johnson said. "But I do think this year everybody is really down with the exception of a few guys. [Jayson] Werth... and the catching is playing pretty good. But everybody is off on their year a little bit... well [Stephen] Strasburg and a couple of pitchers are all right. But everybody is down on their performance. We're not scoring as much. We're giving up more runs. The defense is not as good. The talent is still there and just as good and should be getting better."
The hosts asked what Johnson thought about Adam LaRoche, who walked in two at bats last night, leaving him with a .235/.321/.419 line, 15 doubles and 18 HRs after 118 games and 464 plate appearances over which he's been worth +0.2 fWAR coming off a .271/.343/.510, 35 doubles, 33 HR, +3.4 fWAR campaign in 2012 that earned the 33-year-old, 10-year veteran a 2-year/$24M deal. It's not an injury issue according to the Nats' manager.
"I think he's all right," Johnson said, "It's just one of those years. You don't expect it. He's put the numbers up many times in the past. But... it's tough."
Johnson was also asked about 33-year-old closer Rafael Soriano, who earned his 32nd save last night, but gave up a run for the fourth straight outing. After a 42-save season with the Yankees last year in which he had a 2.26 ERA, a 3.32 FIP, six home runs allowed (0.80 HR/9), 24 walks (3.19 BB/9) and 69 Ks (9.18 K/9) in 69 games and 67 2/3 IP over which he was worth +1.2 fWAR, Soriano has 32 saves this season, with a 3.78 ERA, a 3.99 FIP, 7 HRs (1.20 HR/9) allowed, 13 walks (2.24 BB/9) and 40 Ks (6.88 K/9) in 53 games and 52 1/3 IP over which he's at +0.2 fWAR so far.
Davey Johnson was asked if he thought Soriano was having a good year in the manager's opinion? "No," Johnson said, "he hasn't had as good a year as he's certainly capable of. He hasn't pitched to his abilities. I'd say he's down too. He saved a lot of games. He's had miscues in some. The defense has helped him..."
"He wasn't that great last night either," one of the Junkies interjected.
"I thought he threw the ball exceptionally well last night," Johnson said.
"They were just hitting him?"
"He made a really good pitch," the Nats' skipper said, "and that Donnie Murphy, 'Mike Schmidt,' or whatever he is, hit the pitch out. I never heard of these guys and they're swinging the bat like they hit 700 HRs."
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