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Video: The streak, Morse and Trader Jack

Jun 21, 2011, 12:26 AM EDT

Should we have seen the Nationals’ recent winning streak coming? Has Michael Morse been the best hitter in baseball over the last month? Can the Cardinals survive without Albert Pujols? And what are the Marlins thinking bringing back 80-year-old Jack McKeon to manage?

I tackled all these questions today on CSN’s SportsNet Central with anchor Michael Jenkins. Enjoy…

  1. FS - Jun 21, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    I do not see Cardinals in NL Central race from now on. I had Reds as winners at the beginning anyway. I am sure by the time Pujols returns, Berkman will find a reason to go on DL. I am surprised by their pitching since Wainwright's absence and Carpenter's poor performance, but do not think they can maintain another 3-4 months.Marlins have too much talent to be playing this bad: Hanley, Gaby, Stanton, Morrison, Josh, Nunez, etc. They should fine their way back to respectability, but let us hope not against Nationals.

  2. JaneB - Jun 21, 2011 at 2:04 AM

    Nice interview! It's mystifying to me why teams fall apart and come together. I agree that the Marlins have such great talent. Did they just bump up against an especially tough schedule? I hope that whatever is going on for them, it's still going on when we see them next.

  3. Grandstander - Jun 21, 2011 at 3:56 AM

    Maybe it's just me, but the Marlins seem to fall apart every year despite great talent. It's just a matter of when. I guess playing in an empty ball park every night might weigh on your psyche or something? Every home game during the streak was packed for us, and not just with Cards or Os fans. I'd actually be interested in hearing about what effect crowd size has on the players.

  4. Knoxville Nat - Jun 21, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    I agree with Grandstander it just seems as if the Marlins find a way to under perform to the level of talent they have on their roster. I did hear someone on MLB television mention the lack of veteran leadership on the team and that the roster was filled with too many younger guys. No one stepping up in a leadership role. Makes me think we are fortunate with our veteran leaders. Add in Hanley's suspect history of not being a team player and you have a situation ripe for failure. Interesting that McKeon benched him in last night's game (Ramierz was late arrival at the park, again)perhaps that sends a message to everyone. Oh well I have no love for Loria as he was as guilty as Selig et al in the dismantling of the Expos. I hope they lose 90 or more.

  5. natsfan1a - Jun 21, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    OTOH, it's always seemed to me that the Fish have tended to exceed expectations given their payroll and attendance. I also heard the leadership need theory on MLB Network yesterday. Maybe they just need a bit of "old schooling," in the form of an octogenarian skipper. On the same show, there was a graphic about the oldest MLB managers. If memory serves, F-Robby and Casey Stengel were mere pups in their seventies. Connie Mack, though, was up there.

  6. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 21, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    The problems that plague the Fish are organizational, and it starts with Loria. The fact that Hanley Ramirez gets away with the antics that he does reflects how he has been handled through out his carreer once he arrived from the Red Sox. He's a prima donna and receives "kid glove" treatment at the direction of upper management.

  7. Gonat - Jun 21, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    The Marlins went into the nose dive after they lost Josh Johnson to injury. It certainly doesn't help that Hanley Ramirez is a clubhouse cancer.Another reason NOT to even attempt to bring in BJ Upton.

  8. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 21, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    B.J. Upton is NOT Hanley Ramirez. If Mike Rizzo is OK with Upton, he's OK by me.

  9. baseballswami - Jun 21, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    Sounds like one of the reasons the fish are using Trader Jack is to bring Hanley in line. He was benched yesterday for being late to the first team meeting. I think they are considering their season lost and are using the second half to decide who stays and who goes. Going in to their new stadium, they might just need fresh canvas, new manager and some playing-time hungry call-ups.

  10. Drew8 - Jun 21, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    I do think Upton has upside as a ballhawking CF with pop. While the "clubhouse cancer" stuff is overblown, he does have a history of "maturity issues." This is an Upton compendium compiled in the summer of 2010 by the St. Pete Times.Upton issuesDuring spring training this year, Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton said he had matured and there would be no further incidents of being benched for not hustling, or any similar issues. "I just want to squash all of that and move on," he said. A look at incidents that have dogged him in his career:Aug. 5, 2008: Doesn't run hard on a grounder back to the mound against the Indians. He is benched the next game.Aug. 15, 2008: Fails to run hard to first (5.33 seconds vs. 4.3 on average for a right-handed batter) on a double-play ball against the Rangers. Manager Joe Maddon waits for Upton to take his position in center in the bottom of the inning then pulls him out, baseball's version of a slap in the face. He is benched the next game.Aug. 18, 2008: Looks shocked when he is thrown out at second on what should have been a routine double against the Angels. He went into a trot coming out of the batter's box on a drive that hit the leftfield wall. Veteran Cliff Floyd vows, "He's going to get it right, trust me."Aug. 19, 2008: Apologizes for his "mental lapse" on the bases the previous day, saying he doesn't want to be a distraction: "There's no excuse for it. It can't happen, especially in the middle of a pennant race."Aug. 9, 2009: Says "it's almost like a kick in the face" to be dropped from leadoff to No. 9 in the order. He was hitting .242 with an on-base percentage of .317 as leadoff.Sept. 9, 2009: Taken out in sixth inning against Yankees after not running hard on several hit balls, but he and Maddon say it's due to his sore left ankle: "I know some think I might be faking it or whatever."[Last modified: Jun 27, 2010 10:33 PM]I think a clubhouse of Zimm, Werth, Pudge and Stras could halt that stuff, particularly since Zimm goes back with Upton. Maybe they could also play some Nat King Cole in the clubhouse:Straighten up and fly rightStraighten up and fly rightStraighten up and fly rightCool down papa, don't you blow your top…

  11. Knoxville Nat - Jun 21, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    NatsJack, I'm curious to know why you are so willing, or so it seems, to put so much faith into Rizzo's evaluation of Upton? Based on the past few years experience on the field it would seem to me that Upton is someone to stay away from and not go after.

  12. Gonat - Jun 21, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    NatsJack, you are right, –B.J. Upton is NOT Hanley Ramirez–. BJ Upton isn't nearly as good over his career as Hanley. Both have had attitude issues and have been known to jog after balls and 'take plays off' only the FoftheF of the Rays lit BJ Upton up in the dugout and Hanley is a coddled star. BJ is a bench role player and putting up so-so numbers for a 26 year old player who was supposed to be a star.Reminds me of Lastings Milledge. He had the same rep with the Mets and sure didn't change when he got to Washington. The Nats need to break the cycle of becoming the home to 2nd chances for guys with known attitude issues. You can throw Nyjer into that grouping also. The difference with Hanley is that he is a star player but still not sure I would want him on "my" team.This is my opinion NatsJack, and you are entitled to yours.

  13. Mark'd - Jun 21, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    Drew8, good recap. If you read the Rays blogs they can't stand BJ. Basically they call him an underachiever with an attitude issue on and off the field.This isn't Justin Upton, two different players and we all know how much Rizzo crushes on JUp.

  14. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 21, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    I put my faith in Rizzo's evaluation because he has a proven track record in the business of baseball. And, living in Florida, I get to watch my share of Rays and Marlins games in conjunction with following the Nats and see the difference between Ramirez and Upton. I would not hesitate to put Upton in CF and in the lead off position with the Nats. I WOULDN'T want Ramirez anywhere in my organization.

  15. A DC Wonk - Jun 21, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    That BJ Upton stuff was from 2008. Perhaps he's matured since then.But what mystifies me is why a team would want someone who's stats look like this the few years:BA/OBP/SA:2009: .241 .313 .3732010: .237 .322 .4242011: .218 .305 .359Not particularly impressive to me.In Upton's defense, he WAR over those three years were: 1.3, 4.3, and 0.9. 4.3 is all star material (and I'm not sure how he got that high) but, given this year, and 2009, we sure don't see any consistency from him.Now, I'm no expert on Upton. Perhaps others can enlighten me?

  16. Mark'd - Jun 21, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    The last time the Tampa Bay baseball team traded with the Nats it was another problem in Elijah Dukes. When was the last time the Rays traded a player who played better on their new team? Any time the Rays want to trade, enter with extreme caution. NatsJack, his numbers suck. Batting .218 now and even worse against LH pitchers at .207 this year.

  17. Anonymous8 - Jun 21, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    Mark'd, didn't know that split on Upton which makes it even worse since the Nats need a RH compliment for CF that can crush on LH pitching. .207 is just awful.I liked the idea of Lorenzo Cain. He is MLB ready and can hit LH pitching but can't hit RH pitching well so he becomes an excellent platoon with Bernadina.

  18. Knoxville Nat - Jun 21, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    If we are talking trades for a CF leadoff hitter I'd rather see the Nats go after Michael Bourn. I know he bats LH but I think he is still a better over all fit for the Nats than B.J. Upton.

  19. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 21, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    For the record, I am not a proponent of a trade for Upton, just a realist when it comes to Rizzo and his ambitions.And I think we all acknowledge that a true lead off man AND a ball hawking CF'er are on his wish list. Bourn would be OK with me as well but I believe he has more knowledge of Upton. People seem to forget that, as a scout, Rizzo has a book on pretty much everbody from the time they were in high school till there current position.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 47 --
ATLANTA 58 49 1.0
MIAMI 53 54 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.5
PHILADELPHIA 47 61 12.5
Through Wednesday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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