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Wire Taps: Nationals drop series opener to Angels; Matt Williams on team indentity

So... 20 games into the 2014 campaign, have the Washington Nationals developed an indentity? Matt Williams was asked on Monday what kind of team he has? After questions about Harper vs Trout, Pujols and more, he had an interesting answer...

Rob Carr

Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams spent most of the pregame press conference on Monday talking about the Harper/Trout showdown in D.C., Albert Pujols' push for 500 HRs and the progress of Nats' catcher Wilson Ramos, who is rehabbing from surgery to remove the hamate bone from his left hand.

At one point, however, Williams was asked about his team's identity 20 games into his first season as a major league manager. Has the team developed one already? Williams came in talking the importance of defense, bringing your glove to the park and being aggressive in every aspect of the game. Here's what he said about the Nationals' identity early this season:

"I think we're powerful. We have a power team. We've got some speed. We've got, certainly, the ability to pitch at the top of the rotation. And have a back of the bullpen that's going to shut down games. So what does that identity mean to us? It just means that we have lots of ways to win. Which is a good thing."

Of course, the back of his bullpen, or Tyler Clippard in particular, faltered last night, with a four-run eighth inning leading to the Nats' 4-2 loss. The Nationals have overcome some rough starts early this season. They have gotten runners on base but failed to drive them in. They've struggled against Atlanta, but got some satisfaction from St. Louis taking two of four after having dropped seven straight to the Cards going into this season. It's too early to draw any real conclusions on what sort of team Williams has inherited, but interesting to hear what he thinks after twenty games...

Links and lots of them, starting... RIGHT NOW!!!:


• "Baseball is a different animal than other sports, so those of us in the media who keep playing the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird card regarding Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are overlooking an inconvenient truth..." - "Harper-Trout tilt an ad for interleague play" - Jerry Crasnick, SweetSpot Blog - ESPN


• "The Nationals placed commercials and newspaper ads hyping Mike Trout vs. Bryce Harper, with the team logos sprinkled somewhere there, too. Forty-eight other players? Whatever do you mean?" - "Mike Trout, Bryce Harper prepare to clash amid comparisons, hype" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "Mike Trout and Bryce Harper may be inextricably linked, now and for some time to come, as phenoms of the same generation. But they are distinctly different people." - "Mike Bauman: Special occasion when Mike Trout, Bryce Harper intersect" - Mike Bauman, News

• "It was billed as a star-studded showdown between Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, but the two phenom outfielders played little role in the outcome of this game." - "Instant analysis: Angels 4, Nats 2" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "The comparisons between the Angels' Mike Trout and the Nationals' Bryce Harper come naturally." - "Harper not interested in Trout comparisons" - Bill Ladson and Andrew Simon, News

• "After a difficult 2013, Pujols is off to a hot start in his third year with the Angels, entering the series opener batting .280/.349/.587..." - "Williams: Pujols one of best hitters of generation" - Bill Ladson and Andrew Simon, News

• "The Nationals have three left-handed relievers currently in their bullpen, but Williams stuck with Clippard against the left-handed-hitting Ibanez." - "Nationals Pastime: Williams discusses Nats' 4-2 loss" - Dan Kolko,

• "Four days ago, the Washington Nationals’ starting rotation was near the bottom of the majors." - "Nationals starting pitching is slowly trending up" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "In his last start on Thursday, Jordan lost to the Cardinals after allowing seven runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings..." - "Los Angeles Angels at Washington Nationals - April 22, 2014" - Alden Gonzalez, Preview

• "There is something about Roark at Nationals Park. He has allowed one earned run in 26 innings at home for a 0.35 ERA." - "Roark did his job Monday, left with the lead" - Byron Kerr,

• "The night had been billed as an event, a showdown between Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, but all that had been scrubbed away by the eighth inning at Nationals Park." - "Angels get best of Nationals, Clippard in eighth, beat Washington, 4-2" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• "Since the start of the 2011 season, Clippard has posted a 2.64 ERA and a 0.964 WHIP, struck out 10.3 batters per nine innings and allowed just a touch over a home run per nine." - "Nationals Pastime: More on Clippard's tough start to 2014" - Dan Kolko,

• "Desmond is committing errors like it’s 2010, and Clippard is pitching through one of his worst months as a National." - "Desmond, Clippard combine to unravel in eighth inning of Nats’ loss" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider

• "Desmond felt like he didn't give Tyler Clippard much of a chance in that inning." - "Desmond and Clippard on what went wrong in the eighth inning" - Byron Kerr,

• "The Nationals had a 1-0 lead going into the eighth inning when the Angels went ahead against reliever Tyler Clippard." - "Los Angeles Angels at Washington Nationals - April 21, 2014" - Bill Ladson, WSH Recap

• "Williams would not have been questioned had he pulled Clippard there and summoned one of his three lefty relievers to face Ibanez instead." - "Matt Williams shows faith in struggling Tyler Clippard" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "Rick Eckstein, the Nationals hitting coach for five years, is back in Washington to face his former team for the first time since he was fired midway through the 2013 season." - "Former hitting coach Rick Eckstein returns to Washington with the Angels" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "For the second time in five nights, Ian Desmond stood in front of his locker and answered questions about his faltering defense following Monday night’s 4-2 loss to the Angels." - "Defensive woes continue for Ian Desmond" - Andrew Simon, All Nats All the Time


• "Wasn't the Nationals'€™ change in managers supposed to solve the problem?" - "Washington Nationals new manager Matt Williams doesn't have team focused on details yet" - Ken Rosenthal, FOX Sports on MSN

• "The Garrett Richards Pitch Return! (Please send all royalties to Yahoo Sports, c/o Big League Stew.)" - "Garrett Richards pitches to himself using wall behind home plate" - David Brown, Big League Stew - Yahoo Sports

• "Ibanez might be, um, much more experienced than many of his teammates, but he happens to be leading the Angels this season with 15 RBIs." - "Ibanez's 3-run double leads Angels over Nats 4-2" - Howard Fendrich, AP/Washington Times

• "'I don't think about stuff like that, but it's a really valid point,' Ibanez said, when asked if there was any irony in the fact that he upstaged the first Trout-Harper matchup.'" - "Angels beat Nationals, 4-2, the old-fashioned way" - Mike DiGiovanna,

• "Raul Ibañez doesn’t have much to show for his season in terms of quantity of hits, but he’s making up for it in terms of their quality." - "Ibañez does damage as Angels top Nationals" - Jeff Fletcher, The Orange County Register

• "'I really don’t care,' Harper said, when asked if comparisons between the two players were fair. 'Everyone has their opinion.'" - "Nationals star Bryce Harper not keen on comparisons to Mike Trout" - Mike DiGiovanna,

• "I think it's time for me to be a bit more optimistic about the Angels' chances for this season." - "Tuesday Halolinks: Raul Ibanez shows how to stay positive" - Jim Gardner, Halos Heaven

• "Another day, another Bryce Harper story that casts the Las Vegas slugger in a negative light." - "More negative stuff about Bryce Harper" - Ron Kantowski, Las Vegas Review-Journal


• Low-A Hagerstown: Greenjackets 4 - Suns 2 - Nick Pivetta - 4.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K - Hagerstown Suns Scoreboard

High-A Potomac: "P-Nats LHP Brett Mooneyham threw 32 pitches in the 3rd inning and was lifted after giving up two earned runs on one hit while walking four in 2.2 innings. He did not receive a decision." - "Dupra and Perez Tame Hillcats in 4-2 Victory" - Potomac Nationals News

• Double-A Harrisburg: Curve 10, Senators 1 - Blake Schwartz - 5.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks - Harrisburg Senators Scoreboard

• "Tuesday’s News & Notes" - Luke Erickson,

Triple-A Syracuse: "On Sunday afternoon in NBT Stadium, Jose Lozada played shortstop for the Syracuse Chiefs. A day later, he pitched an inning of relief." - "Chiefs lose to Red Wings on Monday; Lozada pitches, Souza recounts first MLB hit" - Donna Ditota,

Triple-A Syracuse: "After managing for nearly 20 years in the minors, new Syracuse Chiefs skipper Billy Gardner Jr. has decided to get a much different perspective on the sport." - "Syracuse Chiefs manager Billy Gardner Jr. sees baseball in a whole new way" - Lindsay Kramer,

Triple-A Syracuse: "The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, dropped the series finale on Monday afternoon, 5-2, to the Rochester Red Wings from NBT Bank Stadium." - "Chiefs fall in series finale to Red Wings" - Syracuse Chiefs News


• "Looking at the some of the advanced defensive numbers, we find that Werth's defensive prowess has been in decline since his arrival to D.C." - "Could Werth be at start of defensive decline?" - Nationals Buzz: Stuart Wallace,

• "E is for Eighth Inning" - Harper, Nationals Baseball

• "The Bryce Harper and Mike Trout comparisons may die down now that their respective teams have played, but there was no shortage of Harper-Trout talk yesterday." - "Let’s stop comparing Bryce Harper to Mike Trout" - Scott Allen, DC Sports Bog

• "It’s early still, but 2014 is shaping up to be the a historically tight battle in the presidents race standings." - "Video: Lincoln catches Teddy in the standings" - Presidents Race Fan, Let Teddy Win!

• "Beer Guide 2014" - The Nationals Review

• "The game between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim got a lot of attention on the national stage on Monday night for obvious reasons..." - "Nats Waste Strong Start From Roark, Fall 4-2 To Angels" - Joe Drugan, The Nats Blog


Braves: "Braves reliever Anthony Varvaro has been known to get his fastball into the mid-90s, but when he touched 97 mph to strike out Chris Young Sunday in New York?" - "Varvaro lighting up radar gun" - Carroll Rogers,

Phillies: "We’ve heard all offseason that their core players need to perform, that their big money guys need to earn their big money..." - "Phillies' core four waiting for everybody else to catch up" - David Murphy, Philadelphia Daily News

Mets: "Still, the bullpen could stand to improve. That's why general manager Sandy Alderson is keeping an eye on Joel Hanrahan's workouts." - "Mets interested in Joel Hanrahan, Alderson says he's making progress" - Aaron Yorke, Amazin' Avenue

Marlins: "Aside from stellar numbers that made him an All-Star and the clear-cut National League Rookie of the Year, Fernandez made his mark last season as a player who wears his heart on his sleeve." - "Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves - April 22, 2014" - Joe Morgan and Mark Bowman, Preview