Monday, Apr 27, 2009, 7:05 PM EDT
Citizens Bank Park
Shairon Martis vs Joe Blanton
Clear. Game time temperature around 85.
?'s For The DC Faithful...
• So The Way Things Are Going, We Just Assume This Is A Win, Right?
• Think There's Any Chance Manny Acta Goes With The Dunn, Maxwell, Dukes Outfield?
• When Was The Last Time Austin Kearns Hit A HR As Impressive As The One He Hit Yesterday, Going Straight-Center In Shea?
• Do You Go With Dukes Or Maxwell In Center Tonight?
• Can Ryan Zimmerman Hit In 16 Straight, And 17 Of 18?
DC Starting Lineup...
- Anderson "Elvis/A-Hands/Winter League" Hernandez - 2B
- Nick "Two-Spot" Johnson - 1B
- THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! - 3B
- The Big Walkay - LF
- Elijah "Super" Dukes - CF
- AK - RF
- WWJD - C
- Alberto "The General " Gonzalez... - SS
- Smarty - SP
On The Mound...
Joe Blanton and Shairon Martis faced off in Nationals Park back on April 16th, in one of the four games the Washington Nationals have managed to win three weeks into the season. Blanton gave up 8 hits and 3 ER in 6.0 IP. Shairon Martis, in earning the first of his two wins so far this year, went 6.1 innings on the mound and allowed 5 hits, 1 walk and 2 ER. The two right-handed starters meet again tonight in Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA, in the first of a three-game series between the NL East rivals...(ed. note - "Even if no one in the NL East will consider the Nationals their rivals...")
After the 4/16 loss to DC, Blanton's now (1-2) with a 5.33 ERA in 5 starts against Washington in his 6-year MLB career, having given up 34 hits and 19 R, 16 earned in 27.0 IP against the Nationals, who've hit .298 with 3 HR's and 9 walks off the Bowling Green, Kentucky native.
The Nationals vs Blanton...
Ronnie Belliard - 3 for 8, .375 AVG, 1 2B, 1 RBI.
Alex Cintron - 2 for 5, .400 AVG.
Elijah Dukes - 2 for 10, .200 AVG, 1 2B, 2 BB.
Adam Dunn - 1 for 6, .167 AVG, 1 HR, 3 RBI's.
Nick Johnson - 4 for 6, .667 AVG, 1 2B, 3 RBI's.
Ryan Zimmerman - 3 for 8, .375 AVG, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI's.
Getting Our Bearings...
The Phillies (9-8) just took three straight from Florida (11-7) on the road and they return home a game and a half behind the NL East's 1st Place Marlins, who have lost six-straight now that they're not playing Washington (4-13) every day. The Mets take two of three at home against DC, and New York's now (8-10), in 4th Place in the NL East behind the Braves, Phillies and Marlins. Atlanta (9-9) just took 2 of 3 from Cincy in Ohio, and they return home to face St. Louis. The Mets and the Marlins meet up in NY and 90 minutes southeast of Citi Field it's the Phillies and Nationals in Philadelphia's miniature ballpark, Citizens Bank.
The Mystery Of Daniel Cabrera's Velocity...
Both MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in an article entitled, "Cabrera's Velocity Drop Perplexing" and Washington Post writer Chico Harlan, in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "The Fireballer Without The Fire", wondered aloud this weekend about DC right-hander Daniel Cabrera's slowed fastball, which according to the calculations Mr. Harlan presents, has dropped from a 96.2 mph AVG in 2005 to 90.4 mph AVG so far this season.
Both articles mention how Cabrera has begun to change his delivery in an attempt to throw more strikes, resulting in noticeably decreased velocity, but little or no improvement in terms of accuracy. I couldn't help but think, while reading both articles, of Baseball Prospectus' writer Eric Seidman's article* from early February '09 entitled, "Risking Daniel" in which Mr. Seidman noted that Cabrera, "In June ('08) began to tinker with his delivery", after his inability to locate anything other than his fastball had forced him to throw them exclusively, resulting, eventually in a marked decline in velocity. By the time he came to his, "final start on September 13," Mr. Seidman writes, "Cabrera's fastball averaged just 89.6 mph."
Cabrera's reliance on the fastball exclusively at the end of '08, prompted Mr. Seidman to speculate that, Cabrera might have suffered an injury that was, "...more serious than reported, hindering his ability to even throw breaking pitches." In Chico Harlan's Washington Post article, Mr. Harlan writes that, "The Nationals are convinced the problems are not injury-related", and Mr. Harlan quotes Nationals' Pitching Coach Randy St. Claire who states that, "In my mind, the velocity is still there...but he will have to make up his mind to get back to where it was."
Can Daniel Cabrera still dial it up? Is he injured? How long will the Nationals stick with the struggling righty in the starting rotation? Why is he deciding on his own to "tinker" with his delivery? What are your impressions of Cabrera so far?
(ed. note - " * = You'll need a subscription to Baseball Prospectus to read the article in its entirety. Which, once again, I highly recommend.")
Washington Times' writer Ben Goessling, in his enthusiastic Chatter post about DC rookie Jordan Zimmermann's performance on Sunday entitled, "Nats win 8-1", takes a moment to gaze into the future and speculate, that in 2010:
"Assuming the Nationals draft Stephen Strasburg (probably only something a surgeon could prevent at this point), the Nationals' rotation could look like this in a year: Strasburg, Zimmermann, Lannan, Olsen, Martis. Two left-handers, all 25 or under, only one under club control for less than four more seasons. That's how you start contending."
Are you starting to believe?
ESPN.com's Peter Gammons checked in again with more on Stephen Strasburg in a quick article entitled, "If the Nats want Strasburg, they'll have to pay up", in which Mr. Gammons offers the contract Mark Teixeira received from the Texas Rangers as another point of comparison for what the Nationals should be expecting to pay, as Mr. Gammons writes:
"With his signing bonus and three-year contract, Teixeira got $11 million. He then received salaries of $6.5 million, $9 million and $12.5 million, so he earned almost $40M for his first six years before signing his $180 million deal with the Yankees."
And if not Teixeira-money, Mr. Gammons once again mentions Daisuke Matsuzaka's deal for 6-years/$52 million...So now we've heard everything from $10-$60 million dollars, but definitely six years...which is why Mr. Gammons concludes his article by writing, "...Strasburg has an Aug. 15 deadline signing written all over him." Are you prepared to wait until the very last minute to find out if Strasburg signs? I remember last year checking in around the Nationals blogs all night just to see what happened with Aaron Crow only to be disappointed, please, let's not do that again?
And How About This?
At ESPN.com's MLB Draft Blog, Jason A. Churchill, in an article entitled, "Why drafting for need is a bad model", (which you'll need to be an ESPN Insider to read), writes that:
"If the Washington Nationals were to draft for 'need' this June, Stephen Strasburg would be left on the board because Washington's biggest need is catching and middle infielders. But there's virtually no chance they pass on the best pitching prospect to come along in decades."
Jesus Flores is still young, Luke Montz questionable in my estimation, and they have Derek Norris and Adrian Nieto in the system, and outside of infielders Stephen King and Danny Espinosa, who are both at Class-A Potomac...what other infield prospects have caught your attention? As for pitchers, there's Collin Balester, Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard, Ross Detwiler, Cory VanAllen, Luis Atilano, Jack McGeary...Does Mr. Churchill have a point?
Over At John Sickels' SBN Blog, Minor League Ball, a writer named Andy Seiler has been conducting mock drafts, and in one of the latest entitled, "2009 Amateur Draft Mock #2 Round One", Mr. Seiler has Washington taking Stephen Strasburg with the first pick and University of Georgia First Baseman Rich Poythress with the 10th pick? As of today, Poythress, a 6'4'', 245lb, right-hander is hitting .414 with 13 doubles, 20 HR's and 70 RBI's in 169 at bats.
But that's all in the future...In the now...
To Get A Philly Fan's Perspective On The Upcoming Series, Check Out The SBN's Phillies Blog:
Washington and Philadelphia get going at 7:05 pm EST in Philly.
Who's Watching The Nationals?