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Wire Taps: Michael A. Taylor simplifies swing; Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes ready for platoon; Howie Kendrick prepares for return

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before we get to the first Grapefruit League game of the year tomorrow night...

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MLB: Washington Nationals-Workouts Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Today is the final day until October that the Nationals will have not played a nine-inning game within the last week. That’s a nice thought!

Here’s the news from the FITTEAM:

Michael A. Taylor simplified his swing and is excited to show it (WaPo)
Michael A. Taylor has always had pop — it's consistency that has always escaped him. Now, as he competes for a starting spot with Victor Robles, he hopes to finally put behind the injuries of the winter and break back through with a simplified, shorter swing.

Despite rumors, Bryce Harper has no issues playing in Philly (NBC Sports PHI)
Apparently, the rumors about Harper being iffy on the City of Brotherly Love are, well, iffy.

Aldridge’s Morning Coffee: If Nats are ready to let Bryce walk, they better be special in 2019 (The Athletic)
"No more excuses about injuries, or running into a hot pitcher in October, or blaming Dusty Baker, or bad baseball luck. Going out in the Division Series after winning 90-plus games isn’t going to cut it... They will have to hold each other accountable, then, the manager and his players. Because there are no more excuses. The Nationals went all in on 2019, Bryce or no Bryce, filling every hole while strengthening their strengths. It’s fine if they’re a boring 94-win team that grinds out at-bats in October, when it gets cold and you’re facing an ace, whether at the start of the game or out of the bullpen in Game 5. If this group breaks through where other Nationals teams failed, they’ll get their deserved glory."

Mike Trout Has Been as Good as Manny Machado and Bryce Harper Combined (Fangraphs)
Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, for much of the last decade, have produced less value—combined—than Mike Trout has. Fangraphs lays out a pretty convincing case — heck, even when adjusting for injuries, the two combine on average for 9.1 fWAR/600 PAs, while Trout puts up 8.5. On his own. (Mainly because he's a stellar fielder and a legendary batter.)

Kendrick, Taylor will start spring opener; Gomes sent home sick (MASN)
Howie Kendrick and Taylor will play on Saturday, but Yan Gomes went home with, uh, food poisoning? (Also, Kurt Suzuki will debut on Tuesday alongside Aníbal Sánchez.)

Suzuki, Gomes bring stability, pop behind plate for Nats (AP)
The Nationals (smartly) let Matt Wieters go this offseason, replacing him with Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki — two guys that pitchers, such as Sean Doolittle, delight in pitching to. In the meantime, the two will have to put feelings aside as they run an essential platoon for the year.

Howie Kendrick, healthy again, is like another new face for Nationals (WaPo)
The Nationals made a boatload of acquisitions this winter. But Howie Kendrick, is a force in the clubhouse and on the field, and he could play a vital role on the Nats this year.

After injury-plagued winter, Taylor hopes new swing pays off (MASN)
“The biggest adjustment is the timing,” he said. “When you have A, B, C and D you need to do before you’re ready to hit, and then you bring it down to just A and B, it gives you a lot more time. So I found when I got down there I was out in front of some fastballs that I normally wouldn’t be. So it was just trying to get used to being in a position early and then just waiting.”

Why is Bryce Harper still so hesitant to sign with the Phillies? (PhillyVoice)
Are the Phillies in fact not offering what Harper thinks he's worth? Did Jayson Werth and Jonathan Papelbon convince him to not go to Philly? Has the reputation scared him away?

Phillies fans left a message to sign Bryce Harper on the news (
Construction crews in beautiful Cherry Hill, New Jersey—mere moments away from Philadelphia, good schools, and a few sketchy restaurants—used a water main break as an opportunity to broadcast their demands to a news helicopter.