Abrams Up To 21-Straight Stolen Bases:
CJ Abrams got caught stealing second in the seventh inning of a May 5th game against the Chicago Cubs in the nation’s capital, but he hasn’t been caught since. Going into Sunday’s game with the New York Mets in Citi Field, Abrams, 22, had stolen 18 consecutive bases (for 24 total on the year).
Abrams added three more stolen bases in the Washington Nationals’ 5-2 loss in their series finale with the Mets in Flushing, Queens.
“Per @EliasSports,” the Nats’ PR team noted during the game, “... with three stolen bases today, CJ Abrams has stolen 21 consecutive bases without being caught. He has matched Philadelphia’s Trea Turner for the longest active streak of stolen bases without being caught during the 2023 season.
“Additionally, his 21 consecutive stolen bases without being caught are the most in a single season in Nationals’ (2005-pres.) history.”
“He’s been really good,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters after Abrams’ 2 for 3, 3 SB game in the matchup with the Mets. “He’s understanding how to steal bases, which is awesome. So he’s done really well up in that one-hole, and he continues to do well. I think he stole three bases today, so he’s got the leeway to run in certain situations, but he’s paying attention to detail, which is great, and [First base coach Eric Young, Jr.] has been working with him really well on knowing who to steal off of, what to look for, things of that nature.”
“I’m just trying to get to the next base, get into scoring position for my teammates,” Abrams said in his own post game scrum with reporters. “I don’t really pay attention to the number.
“But I mean, it’s a good thing.”
His own take on what he’s learned about stealing bases at this level?
“Got to get a big lead and a good jump,” Abrams said. “The catchers are good, pitchers are quicker to the plate. So, it’s on the lead and the jump.”
No Offense, But...:
In six starts going into the fourth of four with the Nationals in Citi Field, Mets’ starter Justin Verlander, the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer, was on a nice run, with a 1.46 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 17 walks, 32 Ks, and a .168/.269/.229 in his previous six starts and 37 IP. Davey Martinez and his club knew what they were in for as they tried for a split in NY (in what might have been Verlander’s last start for the Mets).
“We got to get him in the zone,” Martinez explained. “He’s got 3-4 good pitches. Mostly we’ve got to get him in the zone and be ready for the fastball. But he’s tough. Everybody says they thought he was struggling, [but] this guy has been doing it for 20-something years, and he’s been really good, so we got to go out there and try to compete today.”
Nats’ hitters put up a run early, with CJ Abrams singling, taking third on a single by Jeimer Candelario, and stealing home when Candelario took off from first, and the throw through bounced by second base.
It was the visitors’ only run off Verlander in the outing, however, and by the time he was out of the game, it was 5-1 in the Mets’ favor.
“We faced a tough opponent in Verlander,” Martinez said after the game. “We came out early and scored first. We gave it right back, but he settled in and kept us off-balance throughout the day.
“We had opportunities to score again, we just — when you’re facing guys like that, and have those opportunities, you’ve got to cash in. And we just didn’t do that today.”
TRADE DEADLINE QUOTES FROM GM MIKE RIZZO ON SIRIUS/XM:
Former Nationals’ GM Jim Bowden and his co-host (former big league GM) Jim Duquette had the current GM in D.C. on their Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio show on Sunday, and Bowden tweeted out some quick takes on what he heard from the Nationals’ President of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo about the club as the 2023 MLB Trade Deadline approaches (Tuesday at 6:00 PM ET).
Mike Rizzo #Nationals just told us they have 8 teams in on Candelario and when they get the right player they will move fast and get something done.— Jim Bowden⚾️ (@JimBowdenGM) July 30, 2023
Mike Rizzo #Nationals told us that Lane Thomas is 95th percentile in running speed and arm strength has played well defensively with improved angles, jumps, and going back on balls. Has speed and power. The only reason they would trade him is to get a position they need more than…— Jim Bowden⚾️ (@JimBowdenGM) July 30, 2023
Mike Rizzo said they are getting a lot of hits on reliever Kyle Finnegan from other clubs. #Nationals— Jim Bowden⚾️ (@JimBowdenGM) July 30, 2023
What did Rizzo actually say about each of the players mentioned above, Jeimer Candelario, Lane Thomas, and Kyle Finnegan?
When it comes to Candelario, 29, who’s playing on a 1-year/$5M deal with the club, there is significant interest, Rizzo said, but no deal was imminent as of Sunday when he spoke.
If they get the right offer though?
“We got about eight teams that are calling on him, and nothing serious right now,” Rizzo told the MLBNR hosts. “we’ll get serious ... today or tomorrow probably.
“And I think once we get a player that piques our interest, the deal will happen quickly.”
Thomas, 27, has been a topic of discussion around the baseball world in recent days, as teams gauge the Nationals’ willingness to trade the outfielder, who’s having a breakout season in D.C., three years after the club acquired him in a deadline deal in 2021.
If another team sees him as an everyday player and wants to make a deal, it’s going to hurt.
“I think that his ability level and his control and his price tag makes him very attractive to other teams,” Rizzo said, with Thomas under team control for two more years, and a very reasonable (in baseball terms) with a $2.2M contract for 2023 after he avoided arbitration with the team this past winter.
“We put a price on him I think is fair, but I think it’s something that works for us,” Rizzo said.
“We see him as an everyday player. Now, if you as the opposing team trying to acquire him see him as an everyday player, then I think that we can make a deal, but if you see him as a kind of a good bench guy or a platoon player, then our value system isn’t going to allow us to do a deal.”
Rizzo tells rival GMs where he stands up front, so no one’s time is wasted.
“You know me, I’m up front with each of these General Managers, and kind of tell them what our approach is going to be on each player,” Rizzo said.
“And though we’ve had some inquiries about [Thomas] we’re nowhere even close to moving him somewhere.”
And Finnegan, the 31-year-old reliever currently serving as the team’s closer again after Hunter Harvey was injured earlier this month?
“We’re getting hit a lot on Finnegan,” Rizzo said.
“We like him as a reliever, he’s our closer right now, we think he fits on a championship club, and somewhere in the back of somebody’s bullpen.
“Here’s a guy that we kind of took and really developed and watched him improve for us to become a really competent major league reliever. So, we’re open to it, he has two years remaining for us, and we like to win games, and nothing is more frustrating than to be leading in the seventh or eighth and then cough it up in the ninth, so we’re going to be prudent with our trade guys, especially those controllable guys, because we’re looking to win in the near future and they could be a part of the next winning team.”
“Ownership is tired of losing games,” Rizzo said at another point, “... and we’re trying to really compete to finish this year off, and go into next year with a team we think has a chance to be a very entertaining team to watch.”