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Clippard gets his opportunity to close

May 23, 2012, 2:54 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Tyler Clippard recorded his second career save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

PHILADELPHIA — Rarely does Tyler Clippard get the opportunity to watch the Nationals celebrate a victory in person, let alone be at the center of such a celebration on the field. Such is life for a setup man, who upon handing over the game to his closer heads down the dugout tunnel to ice his arm and watch the ninth inning on TV.

"Usually when I pitch the eighth, I just come to the clubhouse and we just do this," Clippard said, making a high-five motion to no one in particular. "It's a lot more fun out on the field."

Something the Nationals reliever finally got to experience last night. Summoned by manager Davey Johnson to pitch the ninth inning with a three-run lead, Clippard made quick work of the Phillies and then got to receive high-fives from everyone on the Nationals' roster following the 5-2 victory.

Might we see this scene play out more moving forward? Earlier in the day, Clippard made an impassioned case for himself as the Nationals'Read more ยป

  1. Corky - May 23, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    It is imperative that the Nationals organization treat Clippard like the elite reliever that he is. I would begin by tearing up his contract and giving him the Storen contract.

  2. Section 222 - May 23, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    Reposting a slightly modified version of my comment from the last thread, on this topic:If Clipp is lights out as a closer, which we all know he will be, how do you tell him he's going back to being the setup guy when his younger roomie returns? I completely buy the sabermetric argument that Clipp as our best reliever is more valuable in high leverage situations in the 7th and 8th (check out this great Posnanski blog on that, which I think someone here linked to yesterday) but if he's been waiting for this opportunity for years, and he excels, can you really give him what he thinks is a demotion when Storen comes back? At the very least, you'd want to have a transition period to let Drew get acclimated to major league pitching, right? This is going to test Davey's managerial skills in a number of ways. Perhaps this is one reason Davey wants to go the closer committee route rather than move Clipp into the job. It would have been a lot easier to move H-Rod out of the job upon Storen's return than Clipp.

  3. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 23, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    O would like to see a 2-3 extension with a raise for Clippard too. Been lights out going on 3 seasons now.Going for the sweep tonight (I count the Marlin 2 game series as a sweep, so I call this sweep number 2). Need to win 6 of now on the road trip.

  4. Section 222 - May 23, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    Corky — I think Clipp already makes more money than Storen, being significantly more experienced. Not sure if you factor in Storen's signing bonus, but I don't begrudge him that at all. And Storen's long term prospects are greatly enhanced, being a closer. I think it's pretty clear that Clipp wants that kind of earning power too, and he deserves it, even if he continues as a setup goy.

  5. bowdenball - May 23, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Corky-I don't understand your comment. Clippard does just fine for a reliever in his first year of arbitration eligibility. He certainly makes a lot more money than Storen, who has yet to reach arbitration.Section 222- I was the one who linked the article. Like you I really hope they keep him as the setup man. It's more important than the closer, for the reasons you and Posnanski give. I like that the Nats are one of the few teams in baseball that has been smart enough too use their best reliever in the most important bullpen role.

  6. jcj5y - May 23, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Clippard is the Nats' best reliever, even when Storen is healthy. Whether by chance or design, they have to this point frequently used him properly, in the highest-leverage situations. But baseball doesn't properly compensate those players, and Clippard knows it. (I remember Boz mentioning something in Spring Training about Clippard being aware that he had a great WPA in '11.) So I certainly don't blame him for wanting to close when he can.

  7. Drew - May 23, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    In our excitement about all of the young talent — the starting pitchers, Harper, Rendon, Goodwin, Rosenbaum, Skole, Purke — it's easy to forget that the Nats are less than two weeks from making their next first-round pick.I have no idea who will be available at No. 16 and I don't pretend to know the players listed in the mock drafts, but the track record of Rizzo, Clark and Co. has me psyched for June 4.

  8. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 23, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    So what other team goes four-deep in the closer rotation (Storen, Lidge, H-Rod and Clipp) and comes up with a lights-out All-Star?PFB!

  9. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 23, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    Tyler, if you're reading this: You aren't closing, because you don't have a good graphic identity–a brand, a logo, in short: a cool beard. If you had a cool beard, you'd be closing. Yes, there are exceptions.

  10. bowdenball - May 23, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    Soul Possesssion-Really? Clip's specs might be the best branding on the team! Except the Harper eye black, I guess. They even have a pop culture tie-in, since they kind of recall Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn.

  11. peric - May 23, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    It's wait and see with Clippard. I eouldn'tvrushvto conclusions just yet.

  12. JD - May 23, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    Clip Earns $1.65 mil which is ok but to make the big bucks as a reliever (3 years $15 mil) you need saves. It's not necessarily fair and I agree that you can win or lose games in any inning not necessarily the 9th but that's the unfortunate economic reality. Notice Clip wants to close; he's not stupid.

  13. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 23, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    I agree with what I think Peric and his fingers and wordcheck wrote

  14. Section 222 - May 23, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    Yeah, wait and see. He might not be suited to the closer role, since the pressure is so much greater than the kinds of situations he's been facing so far in his career. Those three outs are the toughest outs in baseball.. Clipp might not be up to the task. Sheesh.

  15. SCNatsFan - May 23, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    If Clip wants to close I can understand that, he just has to realize it won't be here unless Storen blows his arm out. He'll get his $ but Lerner won't be signing that check.

  16. Oldguy - May 23, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    Just checked out the Harrisburg game–Danny R. is pitching another gem. One run on 6 hits, 3 K's through 5.

  17. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 23, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    Bowdenball, I thought of that, but I dunno, they just don't look scary. A good closer needs to look a little crazy.Mo was the only one to make the clean-cut look really work, and that was really The Old Gunfighter thing.

  18. Section 222 - May 23, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    I think Clipp is plenty scary. It's not only his goggles, but his delivery. I'm not big into tearing up contracts or granting big extensions mid year because you like how someone is playing — think Meathook, and Kearns. But when the time comes, in the cold light of day, with all the numbers closely analyzed, I hope the Lerners do open their wallets to keep Clipp on our team. He's one of a kind.

  19. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 23, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Yes, the money, but even if that weren't true, Clippard says, and I firmly believe, that being a closer is just inherently a good thing. Eighth-inning shutdowns are great, but while there's life, there's hope, in baseball. Closers close.

  20. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 23, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    What, wait — "might not be up to it"??I concur: sheesh.

  21. NatsJack in Florida - May 23, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    I'm with Steve and peric. The situation will dictate who closes and it won't always be Clip.

  22. Gonat - May 23, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    I was kind of surprised by the comments by Clip. I also thought he was comfortable in his role and thrived in it. Last year he was the big Fireman too. When Riggles needed a fire put out, it was either Coffey or Clip.Can he close? Sure. I don't think there was a question of that but sometimes on teams everyone has to have defined roles and this team has a closer when Storen comes back. There will also be times in this closer by committee that Davey needs him to take out the 8th inning.He was chosen as an All Star last year so most astute baseball people know that guys like Clippard and Venters are studs.

  23. Sue Dominus - May 23, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said… Tyler, if you're reading this: You aren't closing, because you don't have a good graphic identity–a brand, a logo, in short: a cool beard. If you had a cool beard, you'd be closing. Yes, there are exceptions.Storen would be one. Peach fuzz is not at all intimidating, except maybe in little league.

  24. whatsanattau - May 23, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    Also, when Storen comes back, there will be limits on how many days in a row they will let him pitch. Probably even limits on how many days in a rown they will let him warm up. It will likely be September at the earliest before he's the only closer.

  25. JaneB - May 23, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    I love that Clippard is as terrific as he is. He absolutely has an out pitch, and he can close. I'm glad they are giving him a shot. I realize he might be happiest closing for Some Other Team in Need of A Closer and closing for us till Storen comes back might make him an even more valuable trading piece. So, for the first time, I find myself wanting the best for a player's spirit and development but at the same time wanting NOT to show him of for fear we lose him. Another reason it's good I'm not the manager, because I feel very, very selfish about Clippard.

  26. Section 222 - May 23, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    This is the great thing about having "long men" like Gorzo, Stammen, and perhaps Detwiler. It means that if your starter can get through 6, then you don't need an 8th inning setup guy. I can see Davey using Clipp in the 9th, whenever he's in a situation where he can let one of his long relievers pitch the 7th and 8th. And that guy no longer has to be Clipp. Now that the "he's a set up guy only" restriction has been lifted, who would you want to pitch the 9th in a close game after one of the three long guys has made it through the 8th? It has to be Clipp. And the great thing about him is his changeup is very tough on lefties. So those match ups won't always dictate Burnett. So yes, the situation will dictate what Davey does. But I'm betting the situations give Clipp plenty of save chances until Storen returns, and maybe even afterwards.

  27. natsfan1a - May 23, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    Did I miss something between the lines? peric typed "wait and see," rather than "might not up to it."

  28. natsfan1a - May 23, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    Further, I'm not a GM, armchair or otherwise, but I'm fine with waiting and seeing, generally speaking. :-)

  29. freshee - May 23, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    JaneB: I'm selfish with Clip too.bowdenball: I think the glasses are fantastic. Also, does Clip still come out to "Peaches"? Because that's an unbeatable combo.Finally, does anyone have any good stories about Clip trying to make it as a starter with the Yanks? My baseball knowledge is relatively recent. Did he just not have a starter's mentality, or did something else push him into the bullpen?

  30. Section 222 - May 23, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    I interpreted "it's wait and see with Clippard, i wouldn't rush to conclusions yet" to be about Clipp's ability to handle the closer role. If it was just "wait and see" what Davey does with him, well yeah, that's obvious. No one has a crystal ball, we're just expressing our opinions about what should or will happen. If we have a long debate over whether Tyler Moore should be sent down, or played in LF, or subbed for LaRoche at 1B, it doesn't contribute much to the discussion to say – "we'll just have to wait and see what happens", does it?

  31. Zach - May 23, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    ironically off-topic, but please lend your support to help increase the respectability of wapo's nats discussions:http://www.thepetitionsite.com/874/218/374/ban-any-user-making-off-topic-and-otherwise-unnecessarily-anger-inciting-comments/#sign

  32. natsfan1a - May 23, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    I'm all about not contributing to GM discussions, sec222. :-)Section 222 said… I interpreted "it's wait and see with Clippard, i wouldn't rush to conclusions yet" to be about Clipp's ability to handle the closer role. If it was just "wait and see" what Davey does with him, well yeah, that's obvious. No one has a crystal ball, we're just expressing our opinions about what should or will happen. If we have a long debate over whether Tyler Moore should be sent down, or played in LF, or subbed for LaRoche at 1B, it doesn't contribute much to the discussion to say – "we'll just have to wait and see what happens", does it? May 23, 2012 12:39 PM

  33. djinFl. - May 23, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Gee Zach, that is where we send the posters we have had enough of.

  34. Section 222 - May 23, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Clipp was a starter when we acquired him from the Yankees (in a trade for Jonathan Albaladejo). He started 6 games for the Yankees in 2007, and 2 for the Nats in 2008 after starting 27 games in our then AAA affiliate in Columbus). Moved to the bullpen in 2009 and was called up after having a 0.89 WHIP in 39 IP. IIRC, his fastball/changeup combo seemed more suited for relief but perhaps others have a better recollection or sources.

  35. natsfan1a - May 23, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Dang, we forgot to point our friend from Philly to that site. :-) I don't tend to comment there these days, although I do read AK's posts. imho, their commenting policy never had any teeth, due to not being enforced. I don't see that ever changing, honestly.

  36. Zach - May 23, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Yeah, and I'm glad they aren't here. But I look at this as part of a larger problem – the media not respecting the Nationals enough. You may view it as a trivial thing, but how long will our success last if the Lerners' decide coughing up all this money for talent isn't worth it in a few years because fan turnout hasn't increased?

  37. Section 222 - May 23, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    1a, as you've always said, "your mileage may vary." :-)

  38. Sue Dominus - May 23, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Section 222 said… Reposting a slightly modified version of my comment from the last thread, on this topic:If Clipp is lights out as a closer, which we all know he will be, how do you tell him he's going back to being the setup guy when his younger roomie returns?Don't overthink this. Davey will not have to tell Clippard anything, because he already knows that as soon as Storen returns ready and able to pitch, Storen is the closer. Sabermetric arguments have nothing to do with it. The most important thing a closer needs is the mentality, the ability to bounce back from a blown save as if it never happened. Stuff doesn't matter at all. No matter how good it is, without the closer mentality you don't have a closer. Ask Henry Rodriguez about that. And a big part of maintaining closer mentality is knowing that the manager has your back, that you are the man no matter what you did last night. There is absolutely no way Davey would tell Storen "Before you got hurt, you were the man. But now you're not." That could destroy Storen's closer mentality right there. No one wants that, not Storen, not Davey, and definitely not Clippard. If Clippard shows that he has closer mentality before Storen comes back, well that's great. You keep it in your back pocket in case Storen goes down again. Clippard has to know that the only way he will ever close on this team is for something to happen to Storen – he gets hurt, he starts blowing too many saves, or he gets traded. Unless that happens, he will have to decide when he hits free agency in a couple of years whether he wants to sign with another team that has a closer opening or stick with the Nats in whatever role he has then. That may seem like a bad break for him, but really there's nothing he can do about it, and I'm sure he knows that.

  39. natsfan1a - May 23, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    To clarify, speaking only for myself. To me, it's a waste of energy trying to predict or obsess about the future or to trying convince someone else to embrace my point of view. But y'all who do so have every right to, of course. natsfan1a said… I'm all about not contributing to GM discussions, sec222. :-)

  40. natsfan1a - May 23, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    Exactly. ;-)Section 222 said… 1a, as you've always said, "your mileage may vary." :-) May 23, 2012 12:49 PM

  41. Section 222 - May 23, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Sue — I think the situation is trickier than that, given Clipp's apparently long standing desire to be a closer. And I doubt that Storen's first appearance when he returns will be a save opportunity. I also disagree that Storen's "closer mentality" will be permanently ruined if Davey explains to him that Clipp has been lights out as a substitute closer, and Davey wants to ride the hot hand for a bit, and let Storen work back into the role, rather than making an immediate switch. Remember that no closer works every night of the week. So Davey has some options. But if Clipp gets most of the save chances before Storen returns, I'm expecting him to continue in that role for at least a little while.By the way, this delicate psyche stuff of closers is overrated in my opinion. (Remember how some folks insisted that Davey would never remove H-Rod when he was wild because that would be a huge slap and ruin him for the next time out?) Just about every player wants to win, above anything else. If the manager thinks it's in the best interests of the team for Clipp to keep closing, I think Storen will understand that and make the best contribution to the team that he can. His psyche seems pretty solid to me.

  42. Drew - May 23, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    Rosenbaum improves to 6-0, but his ERA balloons.To 0.99.

  43. JD - May 23, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    Sue, I disagree with you. If you read what Clip has to say it's hard to make a leap of faith and conclude that he will happily relinquish the closer's role if he's successful. Don't kid yourself; it's all about the money and you have a small window to maximize your earnings.

  44. JD - May 23, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Drew, Seeing as he's 24 years old we will soon find out if Rosenbaum has what it takes to make it in the big leagues. I,m thinking AAA sometime in mid June and DC in September.

  45. alexva - May 23, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Agree with 222, Storen will be worked back in to the role and, if need be quickly. Bullpens rarley last more than a few years without some transformations. If Clippard proves to be a lights out closer then either he or Storen could be valuable trade material.

  46. ehay2k - May 23, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    natsfan1a – thanks for the rocking chair and clock links. Imagine a line of those comfy rockers in the philthies dugout, with some nice cushions for all those aged bottoms. PFB – I snorted my coffee when I saw your new profile pic. I wish I had thought of that.Storen should not lose his closer job, especially since the Nats drafted him as a closer. He appears to be born, or at the very least raised, to do it. But as he comes back, they can let Clip have a few save chances to ease Drew's transition and also to give Clip a taste. Everyone, including Clip, needs to see how he will react to blowing a save. Personally, I still like Clip best as a setup man, because he can deal with men on base better than anyone except Burnett. (And that is mainly because Sean is proving to be impervious to lefty/righty matchup statistics.)

  47. ehay2k - May 23, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    Ooh – check out the link from Nats Enquirer on the left. Yet another reason Gio rocks. Great to see them get along, since we have our SP rotation, save for EJax, locked up for a while.

  48. Sue Dominus - May 23, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    Sue — I think the situation is trickier than that, given Clipp's apparently long standing desire to be a closer. And I doubt that Storen's first appearance when he returns will be a save opportunity.Possibly not. But if Storen pitches any rehab at all in the minors (which he surely will)it won't be long until he starts closing. And once he does start closing, except for situations where he's been used three or four nights in a row he will be the closer. And Davey will call him the closer, and not call anyone else that – even if they do get a save opportunity every now and then.I also disagree that Storen's "closer mentality" will be permanently ruined if Davey explains to him that Clipp has been lights out as a substitute closer, and Davey wants to ride the hot hand for a bit, and let Storen work back into the role, rather than making an immediate switch. Sure it might not affect Storen's mentality. But it might, and why take that chance? Davey has said repeatedly and verified by his actions that he doesn't "audition" players for roles. What you are proposing would be nothing if not an audition for the closer role.Remember that no closer works every night of the week. So Davey has some options. But if Clipp gets most of the save chances before Storen returns, I'm expecting him to continue in that role for at least a little while.That would be doubtful, because once Storen returns Davey will have his "A" and "B" bullpens back. Storen and Clippard are both part of the "A" bullpen, so if Storen has been used too much lately, so will Clippard. Someone from the "B" bullpen would close.By the way, this delicate psyche stuff of closers is overrated in my opinion. (Remember how some folks insisted that Davey would never remove H-Rod when he was wild because that would be a huge slap and ruin him for the next time out?) Just about every player wants to win, above anything else. If the manager thinks it's in the best interests of the team for Clipp to keep closing, I think Storen will understand that and make the best contribution to the team that he can. His psyche seems pretty solid to me.It's not a "delicate psyche" with closers, it's a hardened mentality. Either they have it, or they don't. And if they don't, they won't be closing for long. Davey didn't keep going back to Henry after the first blown save or two because he was afraid of damaging his psyche. He went back to him because it was the only way to find out whether or not he had the closer mentality. As it turned out, Henry didn't have it, so Davey made the switch.As for Storen's psyche, have you noticed that he never pitches as well when he's not in a save situation as he does when he's in one? Spring training is a prime example of that. Clippard OTOH pitches well in most any situation. So why would you want to move him into the closer role if it means Storen is then going to be a minus in the setup role?Again, you're overthinking here. If something's not broke, don't fix it.

  49. A DC Wonk - May 23, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    >Danny R. is pitching another gem.So, I need to repeat my weekly question:When does he get promoted?

  50. Eugene in Oregon - May 23, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Ghost of Steve M. (in the previous post) wrote: "It's hard enough hitting a stationary golf ball…"———————I'm afraid I have to disagree with you. It's actually pretty easy to hit a stationary golf ball. What's hard is getting the ball to go the direction you want it go and land where you want it to land.*************************Separate subject: I just got around to reading last week's Sports Illustrated (print edition). Nats fans should note what Scott Boras has to say in an article ostensibly about Eric Hosmer but largely about the economics of signing good young players to long-term contract extensions. Mr. Boras all but accuses agents of malpractice when they allow their clients to sign a long-term deal that involves giving up their arbitration and early free-agent years. "My job," Boras is quoted as saying, "is to teach our players to [maximize their value] and I can't fathom how [any agent] would give direction to players [to sign] contracts of this nature at that young an age." A sidebar to the article lists Messrs. Strasburg and Harper, among others, as potential targets for such early contract extensions, but — as others have noted before — it's just hard to imagine Mr. Boras allowing that to happen. And the Boras quotes in SI only underscore that unfortunate (for the Nats) reality.

  51. JD - May 23, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Sue, I agree that it makes the most sense for the Nationals to have Clippard and Storen in the exact roles they have had for the last couple of years but it just might not sit well with Clippard and his agent to lose an opportunity to close (and make more money) if he proves he can do it. Long term these 2 may have to be split up so they can both close and perhaps someone such as Matheus steps into one of these roles.

  52. natsfan1a - May 23, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Glad you enjoyed them, and good idea on the dugout. Speaking of Tick-Tock, I need either a bigger computer screen or a higher magnification on my reading glasses, as I hadn't made the connection on sec3's avatar. :-)ehay2k said… natsfan1a – thanks for the rocking chair and clock links. Imagine a line of those comfy rockers in the philthies dugout, with some nice cushions for all those aged bottoms. PFB – I snorted my coffee when I saw your new profile pic. I wish I had thought of that.

  53. Section 222 - May 23, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Sue — A well argued retort. Thanks. I still disagree with you, but I guess we'll have to wait and see (in peric's formulation), probably until after the ASG, to find out how this plays out. I suppose this is why cliches like "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" are not worth much. I could just as easily argue that that maxim applies to not removing Clipp from the closer spot if he's doing really well. Also, I'm not sure which of us is overthinking this. :-)As to the A and B bullpens, I thought that the closer was basically assigned to both. So Davey would have a long man, seventh inning and set up guy in both, but Storen is the closer unless he's worked too much recently. This makes sense because the closer isn't going to work if we're up by 4 or more runs, or down by a couple, so he's not going to work with the rest of the A pen, and he'll definitely take over for the B pen in the 9th. The idea behind A and B is that it's a different approach from the "we're winning" and "we're losing" bullpens that lots of teams (including the Nats in the past) have used. Everybody is capable of protecting a lead or coming in to eat innings. But it also seems that in his use of Clipp as a setup guy, Davey might abandon the A and B formulation. Clipp and Storen (once the regular order of things is reestablished) would be the 8th and 9th inning "we're winning" bullpen, while earlier innings would be handled by the alternating A and B groups, and the mopups would be handled by whoever is rested, especially the long relief guys. It's definitely a Rubik's Cube that Davey seems very skilled at manipulating. I'm especially impressed, as I've said before, with his use of Gorzo and Stammen to pitch more than one inning and save the rest of the bullpen, who are pretty much one inning guys.

  54. NatsLady - May 23, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  55. NatsLady - May 23, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    Sue, I agree with you. Storen will blow out his arm in a few years, maybe less, go back to school, and eventually become Clip's agent. Clippard is aiming for Mariano Rivera territory. They both know that.Speaking of Mo, I read he got a blood clot and his surgery is delayed. Really hoping he overcomes it and we see him next year.

  56. D'Gourds - May 23, 2012 at 6:39 PM

    Yeah–I've thought about how unlikely we'll be able to lock up Strass and Harper. We just have to keep the same formula–great scouting, great signs, grow the talent. In the meantime let's enjoy that we got them now.On another note, I'm watching the replay of last night's game and caught something really interesting–Ankiel struck out swinging from his heels in the second. He stood at the plate momentarily before he realized he had struck out. He didn't even know there were 2 strikes! Compare that to Hunter Pence's at bat where he chokes up 3 inches with 2 strikes and drives a grounder up the middle. I was pretty surprised that a major leaguer was so unaware at the plate. That said, his defense is amazing. And when he's on a streak, he can carry the team. But he doesn't need to be so streaky if he would just make some 2 strike adjustments.

  57. Sue Dominus - May 23, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    I agree that it makes the most sense for the Nationals to have Clippard and Storen in the exact roles they have had for the last couple of years but it just might not sit well with Clippard and his agent to lose an opportunity to close (and make more money) if he proves he can do it.If it doesn't sit well with them, they can address it as soon as Clippard hits free agency, which will be after the 2016 season. Until then, he's under team control, and this is one of the aspects of that. The team controls when and where he plays, and arbitration makes sure he gets paid fairly for that. That's how baseball works. If he doesn't like it, tough. He could cry, but there's no crying in baseball.

  58. JD - May 23, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    D'Gourds, Ankiel is your basic bench player; great defensively but terrible at the plate. When you take all the hot streaks and you add them to the cold streaks and everything in between the overall results are not good. That is why we would all love to see what Corey Brown brings to the table.

  59. JD - May 23, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Sue, It's 2014 not 2016.

  60. Sue Dominus - May 23, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    JD said… Sue,It's 2014 not 2016.Actually it's 2015. He has 2.148 years service time coming into 2012, so he needs four more years on top of that to exceed the 6.0 required for free agency. Sorry for pulling a Kilgore on my earlier calculation.

  61. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 23, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    JD, I agree with your comments at 2:47 but it ain't going to happen. Rizzo is the GM and unless Davey requests the change its no change, and furthermore it wouldn't be Ankiel leaving if Brown was called up unless Ankiel was injured and that would be a DL stint.I remember reading that Ankiel was going to be a better hitter in 2012. I guess there's still time.

  62. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 23, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    Eugene, many chuckles on my golf ball comparison. Any of us who have swung a club or baseball knows the degree of difficulty of doing either. ;)

  63. Theophilus T. S. - May 23, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    Clippard is smart enuf to recognize that the perception makes the money as much as the performance. If he goes to arbitration next year, he will make more than Gorzelanny (sp?) gets ($4MM) because of the perception that he is superior at what he does — not just to Gorzelanny(?) but to everyone else in the league. It would not shock me if he ended up w/ $5MM. He's not going to get a long term deal until he reaches FA status — but $5MM/year plus inflation ain't a bad consolation prize. And he will out-earn Storen every year.

  64. Section 222 - May 23, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    The team controls when and where he plays, and arbitration makes sure he gets paid fairly for that. That's how baseball works. If he doesn't like it, tough. He could cry, but there's no crying in baseball. Not sure why you have this hardcore, "he'll take his medicine and like it" attitude towards Clipp, but not Storen. Are you that convinced by the closer mentality stuff to think that Storen's psyche is worth protecting, but Clipp's isn't? Don't you want your most valuable reliever, high leverage situation, All Star to feel happy and respected too? Storen got injured. There's no gaurantee he gets his spot back when he returns, just like there's no guarantee for Wang, notwithstanding his salary and incentive laden contract that putting him in the bullpen makes less likely to pay off for him. To the extent Davey said at some point, "Drew's my closer when he gets back," that's worth as much as "John's my guy."

  65. JD - May 23, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    Steve, Ankiel shouldn't leave. He has potential power off the bench and can be a terrific defensive replacement at any outfield position. He just needs to leave the every day lineup. I think Bernie needs a fresh start somewhere else. He still has a chance to be a serviceable every day player somewhere; just not here. I thought that we Boston's injuries in the outfield and our need for a backup catcher we could do a Bernie for Shopach or Salty.

  66. JD - May 23, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Sec 222, I agree completely but also if both are healthy and productive it makes sense for the Nats to convert this asset to something valuable.

  67. JD - May 23, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    Theo, No setup pitcher ever got that type of money in arbitration; more likely $2.5 – $3mil. The arbitrators use saves as a measuring stick for relievers and you don't get these without closing. Unfortunately to the arbitrators perception means bupkes.

  68. UnkyD - May 23, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    222… I don't see where Sue exempted Store from the same reality which applies to Clip… Did I miss something? To a man, these seem like good guys, and with the team winning, I dont envision much pissing over what role whoever plays. Circumstances change, every day, up here…

  69. Sue Dominus - May 23, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    Not sure why you have this hardcore, "he'll take his medicine and like it" attitude towards Clipp, but not Storen. Are you that convinced by the closer mentality stuff to think that Storen's psyche is worth protecting, but Clipp's isn't? Don't you want your most valuable reliever, high leverage situation, All Star to feel happy and respected too?Storen's operating under the same rules as Clippard. As Joey Eischen would say, they can both suck on it and like it. And their situation bears no correlation to the Wang/Lannan/Detwiler thing. That was definitely a competition for a job in spring training, and it shook out the way it did based on injury, performance and option status. Wang never had the job in the first place, so he has no automatic claim on it when he comes back. Storen OTOH had been the established closer for almost two full seasons before he got hurt. He has first claim on the job again once he returns and is ready to take it. There's nothing that requires Davey to observe this rule, but it would be extremely surprising if he doesn't. Especially since the team is in a better position with Storen closing and Clippard setting up than it would be with those roles reversed.

  70. Section 222 - May 23, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    JD –Agreed. If there's another Ramos out there to be traded for, or the right CF can be had for one of the two of them, I'd go for it. But in the meantime, I want both to be happy and productive and make what they are worth.

  71. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 23, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    I think "wait and see" for us here is pretty much like "day-to-day" for the players. What can we do but wait, and see? Even if DAVEY DOES read this stuff. (Which I kinda doubt, but maybe some players do, and tell him about it occasionally. Maybe.) So if by "wait and see" Periculum meant "WE will wait and see what happens," as opposed to "wait and see if Clippard has what it takes to be a closer," then I've unfairly maligned him (as opposed to maligning someone fairly, which is a pretty strange idea, come to think of it), and I regret the error.

  72. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 23, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    Bernadina for Shoppach or Saltalamacchia? You don't want them to throw in Pedroia, too, while you're at it?

  73. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 23, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    1a, to see the chair better: [control][+]

  74. NatsLady - May 23, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    Well, they're not going to trade Clip before he becomes a free agent, and if he maintains his current level of productivity, they'll make him a nice offer to extend before that. But bear in mind there is risk to do that with a relief pitcher, so he has to prove both his worth and his durability. He is eligible for free agency after the 2016 season (see baseballreference.com). So in the winter of 2014 you see about an extension (y'know, after he has a couple of WS rings on his fingers…). He will be plenty expensive at that point, not to worry. If they didn't trade Storen last year before his injury, they aren't going to trade him now when he has less value. But far more likely is that he (and they) will wear out his arm in the 2013 and 2014 seasons going for those rings.

  75. NatsLady - May 23, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Also, this "closer" thing is a recent phenomenon. The term didn't even exist back in the day, nor did "setup man." How do you know Davey (or some other creative manager) won't pull a Tony LaRussa? By 2016 we could completely revise how we (and arbitrators) use and evaluate pitchers.BTW, it tickles me that Clip is bored with life as the top middle reliever and needs an adrenalin kick. I had a feeling last year that he was walking the first guy every inning just to make it more interesting until someone told him to knock it off–among other things I suspect he does to live dangerously. Just, hopefully, on a baseball mound and not in a car!!!

  76. JaneB - May 23, 2012 at 8:42 PM

    Thanks for the heads up about the Nats Enquirer story on Gio, ehay2K. This puts me officially around the bend on how glad I am that we have Gio on our team.

  77. NatFanBethesda - May 23, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    hey its good to see Clip getting his due. hey people, this guy has been owed this opportunity: he's wanted it badly (and didnt hide that fact) and was the obvious choice after Storen went down — yet, he was denied. I was afraid Clip was going to sink into a bad 'tude. And I wouldnt have blamed him.I'm glad Johnson came to his senses and stopped playing around — Good luck, Clip. This role is totally YOU.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 79 15.0
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Sunday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 67 2.5
y-ST. LOUIS 87 69 4.5
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 71 7.0 --
PITTSBURGH 84 71 7.0 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 11.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Sunday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
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FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
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