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Nats-Braves rivalry getting serious

Jan 24, 2013, 7:24 PM EDT

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Frank Wren signed B.J. Upton in November and today traded for Justin Upton.

The Nationals spent years chasing down the Phillies in the NL East and took legitimate pride in dethroning the five-time division champs last season. Philadelphia, though, is anything but the Nats' most significant concern heading into 2013 and beyond.

The road to the NL East title now bypasses the City of Brotherly Love altogether. It starts on South Capitol Street and runs due south through Atlanta.

Yes, the Braves are far and away the Nationals' toughest competition this season, a team that already posed a strong challenge last year and has now made some of baseball's boldest moves this winter to improve an already impressive roster.

The boldest move of them all came today with the completion of a seven-player trade that brings Justin Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson to Atlanta and sends Martin Prado and prospects to Arizona. Combined with November's signing of B.J. Upton to aRead more ยป

136 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Alex Howard - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    the nats have no rotation depth though to be honest, as soon as one of those guys go downwho the heck have we got? no one, hopefully we sign vazquez

  2. RickH - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    Bring 'em on!

  3. MicheleS - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    Only thing I disagree with is the Lineup. I think that is dead even.You also forgot Manager. And Fredi, is well Fredi. Edge Nats

  4. Charlie - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    @Alex – most teams have no rotation depth. Most teams don't even have a good 5th starter. The Braves do have depth, so that's relevant, but the Nats don't really have a "weakness" just because they don't have a 6th starter.

  5. The Fox - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    Michele,Thank you for letting us know about the new post. It seems that you always know when there is a new one. Is there a trick to this?

  6. MicheleS - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    Fox. I follow Mark on Twitter, and he tweeted the new link. Plus I am bored and avoiding doing any real work today.

  7. Alex Howard - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    i feel that way, cause nats staff was so good and so healthy last year, which was so awesome, but that makes you think it can last a whole season again, so its great to have someone there, we dont have john lannan anymore, i mean i guess stammen shifts to the rotation, or duke, i dont really know to be honest

  8. The Fox - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    Thanks Michele, maybe I have to breakdown and do the Twitter thing. I agree with you I think the Nat's line-up is more balanced. I believe in synergy. Also i give the Nat's a slight edge in management and GM.

  9. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    People are worried about depth because of how injury-free our rotation was last season. I think we had what five starters that made 27 or more starts. Only reason RD was demoted was his performance. Wang then got injured again which was nothing new. RD came back and did not look back. While Lannen was used only in emergency, we mainly relied on five pitchers. Most of the teams don't use just five pitchers. I think Reds were the only team with six pitchers, with sixth pitcher starting exactly one game. All other teams require more than five SP throughout the season.

  10. Joe Hardy - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    This brother brother stuff seems to be in the Braves DNAFrank and Joe Torre -1960Hank and Tommie Aaron- 1962-1971Phil and Joe Neikro- 1973-1974

  11. EmDash - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    The x-factor is how the Uptons will react to the change of scenery; they both have reputations as poor clubhouse guys (though I think that may be a little overblown – Arizona just seems really dysfunctional in general, and the constant trade talk seems to have soured that relationship), and having them on the same team could make them both better or worse.

  12. Natman - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    Mark,You give the advantage to the Atlanta lineup based on power. I'm not sure how you can use that as the predominant factor in assessing advantage. Where does defense come in to it? And, respectfully, you can hit all the solo home runs you want but lose lots of ball games because the batters ahead of you struck out. It wouldn't surprise me if Atlanta leads the league in strikeouts in 2013.

  13. Tony - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    Lineup would have been Advantage Nats if we still had Morse.

  14. Tcostant - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    Interesting think about Michael Bourn and the Mets. The Mets have contracted MLB (per the NY Post) asking for "protection" of their #11 pick if the sign Bourn or another FA who requires a pick. Their point is they had the 10th best record and should not be punished because Pittsburg couldn't sign it's #1 pick in 2012 (which nexted them the #2 overall pick this year).I think they have a valid point.

  15. Unknown - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    Yes, the Braves will have some serious power, but that outfield could just as easily combine to hit .265-60-200 as .280-90-275. All three of them seem to have some serious baggage, and I'd much rather gave an outfield will less talent and more drive. I absolutely dismiss the chance that Medlin can repeat his 2012 record of 10-1, 1.57.In 2009 and 2010–before he was injured–Medlin was a very pedestrian 9-7, 4.26 in 33 games. Yes his 15-11, 2.55 in five minor league seasons is good, but he's not Greg Maddux. I think the league will figure him out at some point.I also don't believe that Kimbrel can repeat his 1.01 ERA, 42 saves and 16.7 strikeouts per 9 innings. This is a very good Braves team, perhaps 95-wins good, but the addition of the Upton's and the loss of Chipper and Prado isn't that earthshatteringly (word?) better for Atlanta.Farid @ Idhao

  16. IKN8wxU2 - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:08 PM

    What about defense? In the discussion of the lineups, the conclusion seems to be that Atlanta is a little better, but that's based on offense. I like our defense far better than Atlanta's. I think our outfielders are better (although Heyward is probably better than Werth at this point) and our infield is far better.

  17. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    Davey over Freddi and Nats chemistry is a big + and then of course the Nats rotation.All signs are Nats are better than last year.

  18. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    as soon as one of those guys go downwho the heck have we got?The other four.

  19. Natman - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    Just like to re-post what I said in the previous thread…Seven of the eight starters in the new Atlanta lineup struck out at a rate of over 100 times last year. Th lone exception is Simmons who, if you extrapolate the data, would K at a rate of 80 times this year. Looking at last year's numbers, you have McCann (76 K/121 games), Freeman (120 Ks), Uggla (168 Ks), the duo of C Johnston/B Fransisco (152 Ks / 70 Ks in 50 games), BJ (169 Ks), J Upton (121 Ks), Heyward (152 Ks).To give Atlanta its due for 2013, you aren't running much on balls hit to the outfield: assists from left to right (assuming Justin plays left) are 5 / 10 / 11. But never fear – hit the ball up the third base line and you're laughing; Johnston has made 19, 15 and 18 errors in the last three years as a platoon. Fransisco is equally efficient with an average of 24 errors over a 162 game schedule.

  20. NatsLady - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    MicheleS, don't knock Fredi. He's learned a lot over the last few years and his players love him. Don't assume he will overwork his bullpen or make dumb in-game moves. The Upton brothers have gotten what they wanted and they are going to bust a** (I know that's not a sabermetric category). They are going to put up a whale of a fight. Which is not a bad thing. Nats need to NOT get enchanted with Rizzo making them the "best team in the NL." Play to win, yet, conserve energy. It's a long, hot summer. Get to the playoffs, and then show 'em what we're made of.

  21. John C. - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    I had the same first thought that IKN had: what about defense? The Braves outfield defense is still good, probably about equivalent to the Nats, although the loss of Bourn will hurt them. But their infield defense, with Uggla at second and the platoon at third, is not even close to the Nats. I really respect the Braves (I do like that lineup), but I think that the acquisition of Soriano puts the Nats on par with their bullpen. Kimbrel is clearly the #1 guy overall, but the Nats not only go three closers deep, the 4-5-6-7 are better as well.

  22. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    Overlooked in all this is that the Mets, Marlins, and Phillies each have to play these two teams 18 times each–nearly a quarter of their schedules. Somebody is going to lose an awful lot of games.

  23. NatsLady - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. NatsLady - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    Personally, I want to(1) Smack Atlanta.(2) Remind Filly that pitching ain't everything.(3) Pity the Mets, but not enough to lose games.(4) Grind the Fish into ashes, so the Supreme Court has to get involved.Then I want to (1) pulverize the NL Central and(2) remind San Francisco who's boss; tell the Dodgers money ain't everythingand, while we're at it(1) punch out every AL team we meet including (sob!) the White Sox.Then, I wanna do the same next year.Ok, ready, set, go.

  25. MicheleS - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    I just want to watch baseball games at this point.

  26. MicheleS - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    I can't believe I am listening to LaVar and Dukes just so I can hear Denard Span. SLOW work day.

  27. Tony - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    Why should Michael Bourn be granted an exception to the rules when Adam LaRoche wasn't? Because he's a Boras client?

  28. NatsLady - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    Sofa, the Fish are going to lose a LOT of games. Mets are sort of trying, but unless they sign Bourn, it's not a serious try. Fillies pitching is not rolling over, and their infield could still have some punch but, hello, that outfield???? The problem is, Atlanta has the same advantage over the "lower level" of our Division as we do. Remember how Davey works. Not every game. Rather, every five (5) games. Steady as you go. The key will be NL games outside of our Division and inter-league games.

  29. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    Here are some stats to compare:Nats 2013 hitters – http://bit.ly/WxjI2TBraves 2013 hitters – http://bit.ly/YqqpZyYou can modify as you wish adding or subtracting players.

  30. NatsLady - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    P.S. Buy a Zach Duke jersey. Not only does he have a good record, he has the CUTEST daughter on wheels!!!!!!

  31. Tony - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    I hope Lavar asks Span if he's met "Tad" Lerner yet.

  32. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    Tony, problem with mets pick was because pirates did not sign their pick last year so they are getting an additional pick which bumps Mets to number 11. otherwise, mets technically ended up with tenth worst baseball record and should be getting the tenth pick, not eleventh as it stands now. mets are clearly in no fault of their own so I back them that they should not be penalized for signing any FA with QO, not just Bourn.

  33. MicheleS - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    Tony they are trying to work the 10 worst teams in baseball vs the top 10 picks clause. And lets not forget that Bud Loves the Wilpons, so it's more than just Boras

  34. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    Michele, I'm tuned in also.

  35. The Fox - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    I'm with Michele!If the Marlins don't lose 100 games I won't know why?If anyone throws a ball in the strike zone for Giancarlo I won't be able to explain that either.Section 222,On the Pythagorean W-L records I think the negative numbers are more likely to be because of poor coaching and management than the positive ones. Personally I've always found it easier to screw something up than it is to make something better.

  36. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    here is a better version of Nats vs Braves hitters: http://bit.ly/10UF7tq

  37. Section 222 - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    I'm not sure what this big focus on the Braves' Ks is all about. So what if they strike out rather than ground out to short? These days, lots of pretty good hitters strike out a lot and still manage to put up good numbers. Five of the Nats expected starters struck out over 100 times last year. And Werth K'd 57 times in 344 plate appearances.Oh, and Ryan Zimmerman made 19 errors.

  38. Tony - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    So if the Mets win that ruling, LaRoche should get a do-over. He could have signed somewhere else if the pick rule was waived.

  39. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    Tony, pick rule will only be waived for Mets. not all teams. so LaRoche will have to sign with Mets on their conditions to not be tied with compensation pick.

  40. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    When did the Mets first bring this up? It seems a little late to be kvetching now.

  41. Theophilus T. S. - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    Detroit had Frank and Milt Bolling in 1958 and it didn't take us anywhere.I think Mark really over-rates the Braves lineup. Until proven otherwise, Simmons is a high-A ball (see, Desmond in 2009). Uggla has become a caricature. Johnson and whosee whatsis does not make a major league 3B. Laird hasn't played regularly in years and McCann's return is at least as problematic as Ramos's.I predict Werth will outhit at least one of their outfielders and I'll take the Nats' OF defense over theirs.The only guy of theirs I really covet is Freeman.

  42. baseballswami - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    Pulled over into a parking lot in the car listening to DSpan. Sounds articulate, passionate, eager. As to the post – advantage goes to the team with the least injuries.

  43. Theophilus T. S. - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    "Simmons is a high-A ball SS"

  44. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    So, if the Pirates had signed a relevant free agent, they wouldn't have lost either of their picks? That does seem a little odd.

  45. Tony - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    Since Nationals Park is ADA-compliant, will that give FDR an edge in the Presidents Race?

  46. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    Agree Sofa. they could have signed any of the FAs they wanted but it seems like they are only interested in Bourn. I am guessing this happened may be due to not-so-great market for Bourn.

  47. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    advantage goes to the team with the least injuries.or the fewest, as the case may be.

  48. Tony - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    Then LaRoche should fire his agent for not at least trying to get the pick rule waived for him.

  49. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    Sofa, I don't think Pirates have one of the ten worst records. Their only pick protected, no matter who they sign, is the compensation for not signing Appel last season.

  50. MicheleS - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    Denard sounds like a good guy, wish he could have been on with Danny and Holden, at least those 2 know something about baseball.

  51. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    FS, thanks for the correction. I knew that. I am just so used to thinking of them at the bottom.

  52. Tcostant - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    Tony -It only effects the Mets. I think they have a valid point, the CBA was written and said the top 10 picks were protected, but the substance vs. form is thay really wanted to protect the bottom 10 teams from losing their first round pick if they sign a FA.As for ALR, if the Mets were interested in him they would have let his agent know that they are waiting on a resolution from MLB and the agent could have chose to wait or not wait. I don't see any do over needed. Again, this issue only revolves around the Mets only this year; but will effect other drafts if they rule in the Mets favor.

  53. Theophilus T. S. - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    Natman — OF assists are only a sign that opposing 3B coaches are willing to take a chance on your arm.

  54. NCNatsie - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    I'm predicting that not only will McCann not be ready by Opening Day, he will not be the same player he was even when he does get back, and will be prone to re-injury. There is no medical miracle comparable to what Tommy John surgery can do for an elbow when it comes to shoulder injuries.

  55. Theophilus T. S. - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    In contrast, 3B coaches look at Harper and see God w/ a lightning bolt in his hand. They won't run on him this year.

  56. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    My network connection cut out on the Denard interview after dopey asked him about RGIII.That was a good interview. I also caught the tail-end when Denard was giving props to the other members of the outfield.

  57. Tcostant - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    Just to be clear; in the Mets "win" their case; then they would loss their second round pick.

  58. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    So it seems the only team for whom it would matter are the Pirates (who get a comp pick in the top ten, not a bottom-ten-finishers pick) and the Mets, who get screwed out of the 10th pick, not because they finished 11th, but because of the way the rule/agreement was interpreted. I wonder if they thought that through when they negotiated the change in the CBA? Did they intend the comp picks to be protected?

  59. Tcostant - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    Gio's 980 interview is up in their auto vault:http://www.stationcaster.com/player_skinned.php?s=65&c=426&f=1004921

  60. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    Are the Mets arguing that they thought the pick was protected?Still, no matter what they did, *somebody* was going to have the highest unprotected pick.

  61. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    MicheleS said… Denard sounds like a good guy, wish he could have been on with Danny and Holden, at least those 2 know something about baseball. January 24, 2013 3:48 PM If 106.7 was smart, they would hire an ex-Nat who can talk other sports to pair up with Lavar. The baseball season is much longer than the football season and as we know, you can talk about baseball 365 days a year also!

  62. Tony - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    It affects the Mets and it affects Bourn. Boras is probably the one who put the idea of trying to get the pick waived in their heads in the first place. Before that, everyone including LaRoche just assumed that a waiver was not possible. So after LaRoche is penalized by the rule, it gets waived for Bourn. How is that fair to LaRoche?

  63. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    I don't see how LaRoche was penalized by anything here. It's not as if he was going to sign with the Mets.

  64. Theophilus T. S. - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    Did I read somewhere that the Mets are tinkering with the dimensions at CitiField?

  65. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    as far as I understand, no matter what ruling MLB passes, it does not affect Pirates. Pirates do not have one of the ten worst records so their original pick is unprotected but their pick due to losing Appel is protected and will be protected I think.tony, ALR should also be interested in signing with Mets. What you are saying is correct but I doubt he goes to NYC for more years and more money. Besides why would Mets sign him? Don't they have Ike Davis under control for next five years or so?

  66. MicheleS - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    Theo, Citi was done before 2012, this year it's Safeco

  67. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    Theo, I think they were researching playing in two dimensions only, to reduce the number of home runs they give up.

  68. Tcostant - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    As I said, I think the Mets do have a valid point; it's not their fault that the Pirates could sign it's #1 pick last year.Here is the link with the noted lobbying of MLB:http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/mets/bourn_in_play_I1UR6RPl8tiQX7rAwq3aMPRead and decide for yourself.

  69. Eugene in Oregon - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    As much as I would have liked to see the Nats dominate the NL East without having to break a sweat (not that I think that actually would have been the case), I love the notion that the two teams are gearing up for a real battle royal — not just next year, but for the rest of the decade. Given that both the Braves and the Phillies will be opening the season with back-up catchers, here's hoping the Nats can — once again — get off to a fast start. There should be at least four divisions (both easts, both wests) that offer up-to-the-final-week races, especially as folks have figured out how much it matters to avoid the play-in (wild card) game.P.S. – I wouldn't worry too much about the Mets and Michael Bourn. While I think the Mets' bottom-ten pick probably deserves protection, I don't see them actually signing Mr. Bourn even if they get the exception. I'm guessing that Scott Boras is using the Mets to generate a better deal with the Rangers, notwithstanding their alleged lack of interest.

  70. JayB - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    I think the Nats win all 4 categories. Then add Davey and Chemistry of Nats Park and Harper/Ian D. and I see 100 wins and Braves losing in the Wild card game again!

  71. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  72. MicheleS - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    OH MY!!!! JAYB has been drinking my spiked Koolaid! LOVE IT!

  73. PDowdy83 - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    Tony, it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with Bourn. It is an entirely separate concept. The Mets are trying to get their 1st round draft pick protected because they had the 10th worst record in baseball. If the Pirates had signed their pick last year this wouldn't be an issue.The rule is not being waived for Bourn. I'm sure if the Mets had really wanted LaRoche they would have asked to had their pick protected so they could sign him but they don't need a first baseman and LaRoche stated he wanted to play for a contender.I don't see how you are coming up with this being unfair for LaRoche.

  74. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    Faraz, they control Davis through 2016 at this point.2013 Contract Status: 1st Year Arb Eligible (Super 2), 1 yr/$3.13MService Time (01/2013): 2.168, Arb Eligible: 2014, Free Agent: 2017,

  75. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:11 PM

    Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing the Mets get a little better–than much more chance they'll beat the Phillies, Marlins, and maybe the Braves more often.

  76. PDowdy83 - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:11 PM

    As far as Braves vs. Nats once fielding is factored in I take the Nationals every day lineup over the Braves. Someone mentioned Zimmerman making 19 errors. Yes he did but he also got to countless balls that Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco couldn't even sniff. LaRoche is a gold glover and Freeman is a tick below average defensively. Danny Espinosa eats Uggla alive at 2B. Andrelton Simmons is known to have a really good glove but Desmond made a lot of strides last season. I haven't seen enough of Simmons to really make a call on who has the better defensive SS but Ian has a better bat if he comes anywhere close to last season in 2013.As far as the outfield goes I take Harper and Span over the Uptons and give them the advantage with Heyward over Werth.Our catchers top their catchers while McCann is out.

  77. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    thanks Sofa. proves my point that mets would not be signing ALR for any number of years. ike is not half bad himself.

  78. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    add Davey and Chemistry of Nats Park and Harper/Ian D.and don't overlook Rizzo's ability to go get help if they need it in-season.

  79. Section 222 - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    PDowdy is right. This has nothing to do with who the Mets want to sign, but with them thinking the interpretation of the rule that has them losing a pick if they sign a FA is unfair. From what I can tell, it's the Mets, not Bourn's agent, who are asking that the rule be waived or interpreted differently.

  80. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    Agreed, FS, you correctly point out there was approximately zero chance of Adam signing with the Mets.

  81. MicheleS - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    And seriously.. Other than $$$ why would anyone want to play for the Mets for the next 5 years. They MIGHT be able to rebuild by year 4, but that's a big IF>

  82. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    But getting back to the topic at hand, I'm wondering, how bad would the Braves have to tank to get Fredi fired this season? Finish under .500? In last place? Every season, somebody massively underachieves–why not them?

  83. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    Sofa, given that all holds, if Braves finish under .500, Fredi deserves to be fired. I doubt that happens unless Uptons mess-up team chemistry beyond repair.

  84. peric - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    the nats have no rotation depth though to be honest, as soon as one of those guys go downwho the heck have we got? no one, hopefully we sign vazquezStarting depth starts with Stammen and Duke. Both more than capable 5th starters. If they sign Vasquez than Stammen likely returns to Syracuse and gets stretched out. Well they have great rotation depth i AAA honestly, its just they lack in the experience department but it. I know Mark likes to put Ohlendorf ahead of these guys but that's ridiculous … if the guys pitch in AAA and maximize their talent?Who are Christian Garcia, Ryan Perry, Bradley Meyers, Tanner Roarke, and possibly Danny Rosenbaum if he is returned before the end of ST.IN addition Nate Karns might be pitching well in AA. AJ Cole might move rapidly up the ladder … Solis and Purke will be rehabbing in Potomac and Harrisburg possibly.

  85. Nats106 - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    Tcostant, spoken like a true former Mets fan.

  86. peric - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    Yes, the Braves will have some serious power, but that outfield could just as easily combine to hit .265-60-200 as .280-90-275.Which could potentially push Span or Werth out of the lineup depending on who is performing for T-Mo. T-Mo potentially has more power than anyone in the Braves lineup and is the replacement for Morse … just not as adaptable/flexible defensively as Morse. But younger and under long-term team control.

  87. bowdenball - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    Lot of people underestimating Simmons here.In his first year in the majors last year his OBP was equal to Desmond's. There is almost no chance his OBP is less than Desmond's in 2013. And while the posters here may not have seen his glove enough to evaluate it, people who have seen it plenty can't stop raving about it.I think that he'll have one of the five highest WARs for 2013 among the two teams combined. His 2.2 fWAR in 182 plate appearances would be tops on both teams if projected out over a full season. Long term, the only offensive players on either team with higher trade value are Harper and Heyward. Andrelton Simmons is a stud in the making. There's a chance he stops developing, but not much of one.

  88. peric - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    In contrast, 3B coaches look at Harper and see God w/ a lightning bolt in his hand. They won't run on him this year.But like his earlier prototype Span has a weak arm like Morgan. So, consider that advantage lost unless/until Brown, Goodwin, Bernadina move into the spot. Span is a single dimension player. He has speed. One tool.

  89. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Yes, the Braves will have some serious power, but that outfield could just as easily combine to hit .265-60-200 as .280-90-275.Which could potentially push Span or Werth out of the lineup depending on who is performing for T-Mo.Why would the Braves' outfielders' hitting change the Nats lineup?

  90. peric - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    Why would the Braves' outfielders' hitting change the Nats lineup?Because that's who the competition is … and Davey likes to get out to a fast start. Davey also plays the old-school Earl Weaver Oriole way … he doesn't like to waste outs on base stealing, sacrifice bunts and their ilk. Prefers to give more chances to the big hitters further down in the lineup. And last season the guy who was most productive percentage-wise when it came to extra base hits was Tyler Moore. That's why.

  91. peric - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    And when it happens I'll be here to regurgitate 100 posts in bold to remind you sofa.

  92. baseballswami - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    I have been jumping right out with predictions that Jordzn will be our horse this year and Detweilet will have a break out year . Next —Ryan Zimmerman will be an all- star, silver slugger, MVP and whatever else there is. My guess is that his shoulder has been gunking up for a while. He has been plagued with freak physical issues. This year he will be a monster. The throwing issues were the shoulder. Look out, NLEast!

  93. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    It's all about pitching.

  94. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    Totally off topic: team I am dying to go "Under" on the wins totals this year:University of StanK (Dodgers).I don't think they win 84 games. There, I said it.Mattingly gone by A-S break.

  95. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    Swami, those sounds like Trek names more than our pitchers. :P

  96. Tony - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    If LaRoche had any idea at all that waivers would be allowed, his agent could have pressed the teams that would have signed him except for the draft pick to come up with some reason they could try to get a waiver.

  97. bowdenball - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Tony- I think you're missing the very legitimate argument the Mets- and only the Mets- have regarding the waiver of the loss of draft pick. It's a letter of the law vs. spirit of the law type thing. They could have made it if they wanted LaRoche too, and no other team in baseball can make it, or any other argument that I can think of.

  98. Section 222 - Jan 24, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    Span has a weak arm like Morgan. I think that might be libelous. What's your source that his arm is as bad as Morgan's?Unless he is injured, Span will have more than twice as many ABs this year than either T-Mo and or Bernadina. Write it down, bold it, regurgitate it, turn it into a limerick, do you whatever you want with it. Continuing to assert that Span won't be our regular CF and leadoff guy won't make it any more likely.

  99. Tony - Jan 24, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    When the Mets get a waiver to sign Bourn, don't be surprised when right away some other team has some other reason they need a waiver so they can sign Lohse.

  100. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 24, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    You are definitely not understanding the situation, Tony.

  101. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 24, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    Baseballswami @4:41. Nice predictions!

  102. Theophilus T. S. - Jan 24, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    NatsJack is correct — "it's all about pitching." Head-to-head, Nats' five versus Braves' five (in that order), I'd pick the Nats to win four days out of five. Of course, it doesn't work out that way after the first week of the season, usually.The only one I'd be uncertain about would be a Gonzalez/Medlin match-up. I didn't understand what was so magic about Medlin last year and I don't expect it to be magic two years in a row. But my confidence about Gonzalez in a big game won't be very high until he stops walking people.

  103. ForDaFanz - Jan 24, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    Can't believe the worry over the potential "6th starter". I think Christian Garcia can be every bit the insurance policy that John Lannan. So if the eval is six man rotations for the Nats and Braves, the Nats are still ahead by a sizable margin.BTW if pitching and defense are the keys to the pennant, aren't those exactly where the Nats have the most substantial advantages over the Braves? Just sayin…

  104. Tony - Jan 24, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    I totally understand the situation. But isn't it funny that the Mets didn't even have a need for this waiver until there was a Boras client involved? Boras is a master at finding loopholes in the rules if it will benefit his client. If the Mets are the ones who realized this inequity, why didn't they raise the issue at the beginning of the FA signing season when they could have signed a multitude of FAs that would cost them a pick? Funny, isn't it, that none of this came up until there were only two such FAs left, both Boras clients. Things that make you go "Hmmmmm."

  105. #4 - Jan 24, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    It seemed that the last couple of years, every time the Braves rallied v the Nats, Prado was in the middle of it. He scared me every time he came up. I've never felt that way about either of the Uptons. Stats be damned. I think the Braves weakened themselves both in the short and long term with this deal. Who will bat lead-off for them?

  106. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 24, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    And just how many free agents requiring a lost draft pick have the Mets expressed interest in?Zero till now.

  107. baseballswami - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:06 PM

    I do think the mets have a point. If you are on the bottom 10 you are supposed to get a protected pick. Just because Pittsburgh couldn't 't sign theiir pick last year, the Mets get bumped to 11. Their record did not change , and it seems totally unrelated to what happened with PIT. I think the bottom 10 should get the protected pick even if they get bumped. I do think it is quite funny that the Mets are in the position of having to constantly brag about their bottom ten record and keep reminding everyone.

  108. Just wonderin' - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    On a lighter note, just visited MLBTradeRumors and someone has suggested the Braves complete their Alou-style outfield package by trading Jason Heyward for Kate Upton.

  109. TNealls - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:50 PM

    Like #4, my first reaction when hearing of the trade was Great – no Martin Prado. Don't know if the stats back that up, but he seemed to be clutch for them against the Nats.

  110. Donald - Jan 25, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    Not sure why the power edge goes to the Braves? Span v. Simmons is a wash since neither has power.Werth v. Heyward goes to Heyward.Harper v. J. Upton goes to HarperZimmerman v. Freeman is a tie, leaning Zimm.LaRoche v. B.J. Upton is a tie, leaning LaRoche.Desmond v. Uggla is a tieEspi v. 3B is a tie, leaning Espi.Suzuki v. Laird goes to Suzuki.And our pitchers beat theirs.

  111. baseballswami - Jan 25, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    So the MLB poll question of the day – who will win the NL eas? 56% Braves, Nats got under 20%. I am guessing mostly Braves fans watching because of the trade today . I don't really think that is the prevailing opinion .

  112. Donald - Jan 25, 2013 at 12:27 AM

    @Peric — while I agree that Davey likes power, I don't see Moore pushing anyone out of the line-up on a regular basis other than through injury. Werth is being paid too much and provides too much leadership to be benched for Moore. Span is in the line-up as much for CF defense and lead-off ability as anything — two characteristics that Moore can't beat him at. LaRoche provides the defense and lefty bat.

  113. MicheleS - Jan 25, 2013 at 12:50 AM

    So here is the link to Danny's interview on ESPN 980; he talks about the strikeouts and his injury.Espinosa Interview

  114. Laddie Blah Blah - Jan 25, 2013 at 1:09 AM

    The Nats have the edge everywhere except in the bullpen, where they ain't too shabby. The Nats lineup will score more runs than the Braves, which is the purpose of the offense, and will prevent more runs on defense than the Braves, which is the purpose of the defense.The Nats have lost a strikeout guy (Morse) and replaced him with a contact OBP guy who can run and play defense. Even without Morse they will hit more HRs than last year's team with Ryan back at full strength for an entire year, with Harper's rookie year behind him, with Werth's wrist fully healed, and Ramos back. The Braves have added a 169 K man to their lineup (BJ) and another 121 K guy (Justin) while losing one of the best contact hitters in the game (Prado). The Nats have the edge on defense at the majority of positions, and are no worse than a wash with the Braves players everywhere else, e.g. shortstop, catcher.The Braves rotation cannot match the Nats, even if Medlen somehow pitches as well as he did coming back from injury last year. Or maybe his game will be solved the way it was by the Cards in the Wild Card game, when he was pummeled.The Braves are scrambling, and they will make it more competitive, but the Nats have the better offense, better defense, and a better rotation. Whoever leads their games after 7 innings will win, because neither pen is going to give up very many runs. The 2013 Nats will not blow any 9-run leads, or even any 6-run leads.The Mets and Marlins will be division doormats, and the Phillies look like the MLB version of the LA Lakers, a locker room that may as well be the geriatric ward at a retirement home. The games with the Braves will be the ones to watch. They have a strikeout lineup and we have strikeout pitchers. Their revamped lineup plays to the Nats' strength.The Braves have lost their team leader and FOF. Who is the take-charge guy there now? They got younger, but they lost their 2 most savvy veterans, Chipper and Prado. The Nats are hungry and determined and close-knit. The Braves have a slew of new guys who will be trying to see where they fit in.If these Nats are as good as I think they are, they will welcome the challenge and more than meet it.

  115. baseballswami - Jan 25, 2013 at 1:13 AM

    I think it's going to be very competitive. Both teams are built well with talented players. Now we see who performs at, above or below expectations. And again, how many players remain physically intact. I think we need to jump out at the beginning of the season while McCann is still out and before the Braves gel and find a team leader.

  116. Tony - Jan 25, 2013 at 1:36 AM

    NatsJack has apparently figured out the Mets situation. It's all driven by Boras.

  117. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2013 at 2:15 AM

    Here I combined all hitters and all pitchers into one dataset:Nationals vs Braves: HittersNationals vs Braves: PitchersNationals vs Braves: FieldersCursory glance at stats back what Mark Z has said in his post.

  118. sjm308 - Jan 25, 2013 at 2:18 AM

    Laddie -great analysis

  119. Dbowen10 - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:07 AM

    Braves fan here. Don't hate on me tho! I respect the nationals as much as I respect my beloved hometown team and I absolutely cannot wait for them to match up this season. However, I'd like to point out a few flaws on the evaluation of the Braves from the writer's perspective.-you left out Big Mac (McCan). Don't count him out, or uggla. This offense is the real deal (for once)-during the last 1/3 of the 2012 season, the Braves starting roation was either immediately behind the Nats or in front of it. keep that in mind before claiming that the Nats rotation is head and shoulders above the rest in baseball-bench goes to the braves. we have the best pinch hitter in baseball, and can easily fill out any position. Jose Constanza isn't listed here, but he can be called up to the 40 man roster at any time. -braves have more minor league pitching depth (and a much stronger reputation for their pitching…which means something during 162 games)These two teams will either win the wild card slot or the division and they are absolutely stacked to the teeth. Either way, I hope that the NL east takes home the title this season! This division is NUTS!!!

  120. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:20 AM

    WOW is this the first non-Nats fan around here? Is Mark attracting non-Nats fans here? That would be great for discussion.Welcome DBowen10.

  121. baseballswami - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:20 AM

    DBowen-,what do you think about the Phil's? Experienced or old? You do realize that they still think they are still the top dogs, right? Poor babies just had soooo many injuries. Excuse me while I play my very tiny violin. When will McCan actually be able to play? Uggla can be good, but when he struggles it is dismal. We shall see.

  122. notBobby - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:52 AM

    Y'all are correct that defense should be a category and Nationals would win it easily.I think the lineups are a wash. Nationals have a higher floor, but Braves have a higher ceiling. Personally, I prefer the higher floor. The strikeouts scare me on the Braves. The offense on that team will be great, but it will be a rollercoaster ride.Nationals win the pitching category. Braves are very good, but not as good as Nats. All of this 6th starter talk is very important though. The Nationals are light on 6th starter types. We do not have Lannan lurking in the wings this year. Garcia needs to be stretched out to starting stamina and wont be there for a while. I would think Maya would be the call up. Not too confident in that.Braves win the bullpen. Nationals have a very good bullpen, but Braves have a great bullpen. Braves have proven it and they have the mixture of lefties and righties. I wholeheartedly believe that Rizzo will get another lefty at some point during the season (probably after letting Tracy go at some point during the season), but cant evaluate the bullpen on who might be there.As for the bench. Nats have the edge. Ramos is a starting caliber catcher, Lombo is better than Pena. I take the Shark over Reed JOhnson and Moore over Schafer. I think Tracy had a lucky year last year, and is more there as a clubhouse presence. Which after the all star break will mean less and he will be released.As for the Simmons convo…the kid is a STUD with the glove. I dont think it is a stretch to say that he may very well be the best defensive SS in the majors next year. He is in the starting lineup bc of his defense, not his bat. He will always be a singles hitter, maybe doubles sometimes. He has holes in his swing and is not a consistent bat. But he more than deserves to be looked at as a top shelf SS bc his glove and arm are really that good.notBobby

  123. NCNatsie - Jan 25, 2013 at 4:18 AM

    Okay, 222 at 5:04, here's your limerick:When the Shark boasted "I am the man."Ty-Mo said "you can't do what I can."But their hypothesesRequired ABsAnd those were all taken by Span.

  124. Doc - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:04 AM

    Granted their 3 headed monster at the back (Kimbrel, Venters, & Walden) has more power, but Soriano, Storen, & Cip are more than competive. The final pitching stats last year had the Nats' overall BP better than the Braves, mostly because of our 4th to 7th guys were better than their 4-7 guys. Don't think that that has changed this year. Besides Henry is our secret weapon and has better stuff than Kimbrel–it just isn't always over the plate like Kimbrel's.We have a better fielding team in the IF, and a better hitting team in the IF. Also, we're ahead of the Tommy Hawk pin heads at C, big time.SP's it's more than an edge, and goes to our Nats.As for the OF, well yeah they have a power edge, but probably not a fielding edge. Sorry Mark but I think that starting lineup have no real batting edge, but if there is one then it is on our side.Let the games begin!!!Go Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaats!!

  125. Gonat - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    MicheleS said… So here is the link to Danny's interview on ESPN 980; he talks about the strikeouts and his injury.Espinosa Interview January 24, 2013 7:50 PM _______________________________Thanks for that link. Czabe was either being kind when he said his strikeouts led 2nd baseman or he wasn't aware that the K's led the entire National League.Unfortunately they spent more time talking about his beard.Right above that Podcast I clicked on Jess Atkinson's interview hoping he was going to discuss his Bryce Harper film which he did talk about briefly. My friend knows Jess and was able to talk to him during ST as he saw Jess following Bryce during Spring Training and he told us what he was doing. It sounds really exciting and something that may be ready to air soon. He said in the interview that he has 18 months of film.

  126. Gonat - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/01/orioles-agree-to-sign-jair-jurrjens.htmlI see Jurrjens signed a $1.5 million deal in Bal'more. That's either going to end poorly or be a genius move. My guess is it will end poorly.

  127. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 25, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    I stand corrected, Michele. I believe Tony is Feel Wood.

  128. baseballswami - Jan 25, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Bit early in the morning for pseudonyms . Morning, peeps. Another cold day here in the DMV and another day closer to "play ball"! Hurry, please. First the Wizards, now the caps smelling up the place. Need baseball. Soon.

  129. Rabbit34 - Jan 25, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    At least if Braves fans come to Nationals Park, most of them should be civil! At least at the same level as we would be in Atlanta. GO NATIONALS!!!

  130. Teddy Rochlis - Jan 25, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Braves fans will be under the microscope for this entire season after last year's debacle very classless act and they should still be ashamed imo.

  131. John C. - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    Welcome dbowen10! We don't hold your Braves background too much against you. No doubt a flaw in family upbringing or some such ;)As for McCann, when healthy he is an offensive force for a catcher. Until he proves that the shoulder is sound, though, he's a question mark. As Nats fans (and Jesus Flores) know, shoulders for catchers is a troubling injury.If Uggla puts up 30 bombs a year, he has to be reckoned with even with all the strikeouts (Uggla is a "three true outcomes" hitter (whiff/walk/HR). At 18 bombs a year, his contribution is much less (his OPS+ last year was 98, below league average). He'll be 33 before the season begins, so there has to be concern that the slide has begun for him. And he's certainly not on the team for his glove. I have several friends who are Braves fans who are openly hoping they can dump Uggla and his contract somehow.

  132. JB - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    This is only sort of related, but D.C. and Atlanta are sort of similar in appreciating this fact: In an era when baseball is now dominated by kids of Latin descent and white kids from the Sun Belt kids, the African-American baseball star has been getting rarer and rarer. The Gibson-Mays-McCovey-Aaron-etc-etc days are gone. There are a number of reasons why that I won't go into here, but suffice to say, the new Atlanta outfield must warm the hearts of the Braves' own Hammerin Hank and of all the folks behind the Reviving Baseball in the Inner City (RBI) program and other urban youth baseball programs.That said, I'll still cheer when SS sends each back to their seats in order.

  133. JB - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    We have a new baby at home, which explains how the word "kids" made it in the previous post a few too many times. Need more coffee.

  134. JB - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    Dbowen10,Your point on the actual numbers of the rotations in the latter part of the season is spot on. The reason for confidence in these parts is that the Nats biggest transgressor was Strasburg, who had pretty pedestrian numbers in his last several starts. Most of us assume he was quite fatigued as a young pitcher in TJ recovery that deep into the season. He should be the #1 well into October this year without that constraint, which would shift the balance pretty starkly in the Nats favor.

  135. BigCat - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    I can see it now. The Braves come into DC for a three game series in late August and run into Stra, Gio and JZimm. Thats a hole lotta cheese being thrown at the Braves. Good pitching beats good hitting.

  136. BigCat - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    I might think about Garcia for Stammen in the penIf Haren stumbles out of the gate, I'd try Garcia in the rotation

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

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

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (3) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 68 3.0
y-ST. LOUIS 88 69 4.0
-------------------------
PITTSBURGH 85 71 --
SAN FRANCISCO 85 71 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 5.0
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
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.
(End of regular season)
MON: OFF
Full season schedule

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ON THE RADIO

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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.
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