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Ready for the grind

Apr 3, 2013, 10:00 AM EDT

There are few baseball traditions worse than the day after Opening Day off-day. I understand why MLB schedules it like that — in case of a rainout, it allows everyone who held Opening Day tickets to still attend the first game of the season — but it's still a frustrating quirk for managers, players and media members alike.

Managers and players, because baseball is such an everyday sport and the immediate off day throws them out of whack. Media members, because we have to come up with something to talk about for 48 hours in between games, and the only way to fill that much time and space is to rehash every minute detail from Opening Day. (Hey, how 'bout that perfectly executed, 7-2-3-4-2 double play by the Nationals' defense!)

By the time 7:05 p.m. arrives tonight, the Opening Day hoopla will have ended and the true grind of the baseball season will begin. This is when we start learning what a team is really all about. And there are several things we could learn about the Nationals tonight when they re-take the field against the Marlins…

CAN GIO GONZALEZ GET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT?
You've probably forgotten about it since he proceeded to win 21 games and put himself in the discussion for NL Cy Young, but Gio Gonzalez really struggled in his first start last season. The leftyRead more »

111 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. UnkyD - Apr 3, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    :)

  2. Navy Nats Fan - Apr 3, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    Good morning Mark! I'm ready for the grind too – looking forward to watching on TV tonight with the sound down and Charlie and Dave on the radio. For those of you going to the game – dress warm!

  3. Joe Seamhead - Apr 3, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    Well, while our boys were sitting around, our ol' buddy Michael Morse went and drove in four runs with two dingers last night.BTW- I think keeping his "Take On Me" for the seventh inning stretch is pretty tacky.Turn the page.

  4. NatsNut - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    And fans!"…but it's still a frustrating quirk for managers, players and media members alike."

  5. Steady Eddie - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    Sorry, Joe, gotta disagree with both the explicit and implicit points in your 639 comment. Last year the fans took ownership of "Take On Me" by their participation in singing it, and it will stay – or not – based on how much they continue to do so. At least on Monday, they embraced it.And much as I miss Mikey Mo's personality and bat, his fielding is a liability that a championship team can't afford. His lack of range and speed lets many potential outs turn into run-scoring doubles, and the psychology for pitchers of the difference between a dramatic out and a big inning can turn an entire ball game. It is the converse of the difference that LaRoche's glove makes for pitchers' confidence in their infield defense.Anyway, my .02.

  6. sjm308 - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    Good mornings all:Any stat on how Gio pitches in colder weather? It's not going to be like Minnesota tonight but it won't be the greatest weather either. Also, with high winds expected, is our park affected by that? I just can't remember it having a spring training affect but I could be wrong.Seamhead – I am not sure why people will keep bringing up Morse but I am betting they will. Where were you going to play him? I was a huge proponent of keeping him as a super utility player but most of that was done with the idea of being loyal to a player I liked and I understood it was not a sound baseball idea. My point now is, he is gone, what good does it do to point out his homeruns and successes? Is that a dig at Rizzo for chosing LaRoche over Morse? Is it a dig at LaRoche? Or is it just fond memories of one of our favorites? Not being critical, just asking?

  7. Michael Matthews - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Perfect headline for me as I sit in the jury assembly room for my day in Orange Co., Fl. jury duty.

  9. Doc - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    Thanks for the update on The Beast, Seams. Can't think of any player that has been traded, over the years, for whom I'll be rooting more!We'll miss his presence maybe more than his bat, as good as his bat is.After all the years of having the DH in the AL, it's unfathomable why it hasn't been instituted in the NL. Even more important now that inter-league play is being scheduled more frequently.

  10. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    I wonder how much effect weather will have on the game. I will watch from comforts of my home.

  11. Positively Half St. - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    I am happy to brng up Morse in terms of wishing him well. I don't think it was a bad move for the nats, no matter how he performs at bat. As for Take On Me, I agree that it belongs to the fans. Every team tradition starts somehow, and this is one that is ours first, even if Morse plays it in Seattle.I really want a sweep against the Fish, and I especially want the bats to wake up against Slowey tonight. I really hope they can knock him out in less than 3 innings. We need payback for all the Jason Simontacchi's we threw out there for years.+1/2St.

  12. TimDz - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    NarsJack….Try to sneak in a cold one…..Here's to the jury NOT getting sequestered…..

  13. TimDz - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    NarsJack….Try to sneak in a cold one…..Here's to the jury NOT getting sequestered…..

  14. MicheleS - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    Joe S. Yesterday, FP put out a question on twitter asking what fans thought of Take on Me. It was a 50/50 split. During the actual game he put out a tweet about the reaction to Take on Me during the game and how the fans really got into it. Mikey Mo favorited the tweet. So I think if MM is okay with it, we should be as well

  15. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    I figured there would be a lot of Beast comments. He made 2 great defensive plays also with a nice dive for a ball. Morse looks very eager to be a two-way player.

  16. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Great point MicheleS. Mikey is behind it. He loves DC and most Nats fans. I hope my predictions on him pan out as I think he will put up MVP numbers.

  17. Greg - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    @natsjack if you do not get released do you want to meet for lunch?

  18. sjm308 - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    Doc – I hate to agree on the dh. I am old and have enjoyed the game with pitchers batting, sacrifice bunts, double switches etc. BUT your point is well taken. The AL and the players association will never allow the dh to be removed. It really is a big advantage for one team or the other depending on who is the home team. We would have definitely kept Morse if we had the dh. I did notice he played both LF and RF last night. Kind of scary if he is their defensive stopper. One last thought and this is just me. I love our team and most of our players when they are here. When they leave, I do not stay connected and in fact, if they are in the national league, I do not want to see them help their teams to wins. I have every card of Eddie Yost from 1948 until he retired in 1962. Once he left the Senators (traded to Detroit), I basically found a new favorite. So, I will not be rooting for Morse. Not encouraging others to follow the yellow brick road here, this is my quirk.

  19. Joe Seamhead - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    Hey, Guys! I wasn't griping about Morse's not being retained! I was just mentioning that he had a good night and that I think we should turn the page on "his" song. [If I could remember how, I'd make "his" in bold, as I see it as his]. I understood, and reluctantly agreed trading him was the right move, and was a huge supporter of re-signing ALR. I also think the addition of Span gives us the best outfield the Nats have ever had.

  20. Navy Nats Fan - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    NatsJacks's assignment today reminded me of one of the reasons Morse was so popular – remember the time he live-tweeted his jury duty day? That accessibility (even if only 140 characters at a time) endeared him to many. I still hope he does well, but I'm glad he's in the AL! I'll make one extra road trip to OPACY and begrudgingly drop a little cash into Peter Devilos' pocket just to see Morse.

  21. Laddie Blah Blah - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    "I am not sure why people will keep bringing up Morse but I am betting they will. Where were you going to play him?"Don't know about anyone else, but it was clear Davey was going to give him full-time bench duty, if he had not been traded. He is much better off in Seattle, and Rizzo did him a big favor trading him there. He is likely to become as big a folk hero there as he was here. I hope he hits 50. I always root for ex-Nats to do well, except in special circumstances, like Lannan going to Philly."Kind of scary if he is their defensive stopper."LOL. Like having Lidge as your closer.

  22. Joe Seamhead - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    sjm308 said…Good mornings all:Seamhead – I am not sure why people will keep bringing up Morse but I am betting they will. Where were you going to play him? I was a huge proponent of keeping him as a super utility player but most of that was done with the idea of being loyal to a player I liked and I understood it was not a sound baseball idea. My point now is, he is gone, what good does it do to point out his homeruns and successes? Is that a dig at Rizzo for chosing LaRoche over Morse? Is it a dig at LaRoche? Or is it just fond memories of one of our favorites? Not being critical, just asking?April 03, 2013 7:36 AM—————————————————-308, Certainly not meant to be a dig at Rizzo, or ALR. As to what good it does? None that I know of, but it's a baseball blog, just made what was meant to be an innocuous mention that MM had a good game. And if the song still works, then the song stays. To keep using it has got a little bit of Bill Veeck schtick to it, but if it heightens the fan's experience to attend the game, then so be it, but I will always feel that it has us rooting for a guy who is now on another team. That's all.

  23. Whack-a-Mule - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    Beast-Mode:While there is no dispute that Michael Morse would have been retained had we lost LaRoche to free agency, with LaRoche in the fold Morse was competing head-to-head with Tyler Moore for the 4th bench position. Rizzo's choice of Moore was deliberate. Time will tell us if the younger, less-expensive player was the better choice. In the meantime, I believe that the "trade" ("bag-of-pucks") will benefit Morse by allowing him to play every day (position or DH) and shine offensively in his free-agency year. Go Beast!

  24. Joe Seamhead - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    Mule, it remains to be seen if getting Cole back is akin to getting a "bag -of- pucks".

  25. 320R2S15 - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    The Beast was great and so was Johnny, and Jamey too. I always follow my favorite exNats but the point is we have outgrown most of them. It is a great position to be in. The thing I like most about the song is that it is ours, Mikey said it was his gift to us and I hope it sticks, if not, I would suggest something by DC fav, Little Feat.

  26. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Morse didn't write the song, he just used it. It wasn't even his idea that we sing it. And FWIW, I am happy to continue to root for him and other favorites (their laundry notwithstanding).Wasn't Slowey one of the rumored deals in trades for Soriano? I remember certain posters ripping the FO for not taking that over the draft picks, one of which became Jordan Zimmermann.

  27. natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Thanks, sec3, I was just about to point that out. :-)Morse didn't write the song, he just used it. It wasn't even his idea that we sing it.

  28. Navy Nats Fan - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Like Fat Man in the Bathtub? In honor of our newest racing president?

  29. DaveB - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    Whack … That was no "bag-of-pucks". I was quite impressed that get Rizzo could get three of Oakland's top 15 prospects (including Cole who was in the top 5) for a guy with just one year of control.

  30. Nattering Nat - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    I consider it a sign of my own maturity as a fan that I can root for the best for Morse but still accept, more or less, that the decision to let him find success elsewhere, once LaRoche was resigned, was the right one. I've usually been in the "want to eat my cake and have it, too" category as a fan. It's much easier just to bemoan the choice to let him go than to confront the reality of the choices facing the Nats front office.Of course, it's easier for me to swallow this if I keep reminding myself that Morse was going to be a free agent after this year, and given his defensive liabilities, we were unlikely to match his free market worth.It also will be less hard to accept if Span comes through in his role as leadoff as well as solid defensively. I was glad he got a hit in the Opener, as I think we as fans are likely to be more judgmental about him than almost anyone else on the team (exception, Henry) because that was the final nail in Morse's coffin for playing time here.

  31. 320R2S15 - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    What, do you mean to tell me that Michael Morse didn't write that song….well in that case.

  32. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    No, 320, he is just one of many players who use it.What? Nobody?!

  33. Tcostant - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    I couldn’t agree more with Mark, I hate the off day after opening day. I also wish the preseason game vs. the Yankees would have been on Saturday rather than Friday. One vacation day is one thing for opening day; but not two within a week. No reason that game shouldn’t have been on Saturday and hope any future ones will be.Now that the Nats have Game 1 out of the way, they really need to sweep here, with huge pitching advantages over the next two days. Boswell has done a great job detailing the Nats tuff early schedule with includes lots of game vs. the Braves and Reds. We need another fast start this year and then we can switch to cruise control in mid-May.I wish the Nats were in town this weekend, Sunday looks great!!!Happy start of baseball season to all.

  34. JamesFan - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Morse hit two bombs last night to beat the A's.

  35. Dryw Loves the Nats - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Wait….Bryce isn't going to hit 2 homers every night? Really?? Oh well, I guess 324 was a bit much to ask of the kid.

  36. Candide - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    Joe Seamhead said……I think we should turn the page on "his" song. [If I could remember how, I'd make "his" in bold, as I see it as his]For italics: Before the text you want italicized, put < em >, WHILE REMOVING THE SPACES IN THE EXAMPLE SHOWN HERE. Then when you want to end the italics (again, remove the spaces in my example).For bold: Same as italics, just substitute "strong" for "em".

  37. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    We will see if Michael Morse stays healthy because if he does he will put up near MVP numbers.I was in the minority in thinking Morse at 1st for the Nats would be a big offensive upgrade since he had that motivation of the contract year and that chip on his shoulder while ALR would have a hard time repeating what he did last year.The one area that ALR is better than anyone is scooping that skipped throw and while it never shows up as anything more than a 1st base out, ALR gives the entire infield the ability to field the ball and get the throw in his vicinity and he will catch that ball. It is a huge intangible that can't be calculated in any SABR type of stat and that is a big part of the value of ALR.

  38. Navy Nats Fan - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    TCostant – not sure which is chicken and which is egg, but the Yankees had an exhibition game on Saturday too (against USMA) so they could not have played here.

  39. sm13 - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    I am fine with Take on Me. We have so few homegrown crowd traditions at Nats Park . Next, I plan to start singing along to Jason's newest walkup song: Werewolves of London…..Owooooooooo

  40. Joe Seamhead - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Thanks, Candide, though I rarely, if ever will use it on here, as I usually see that as being a trademark of another poster.Ghost, I agree about ALR's glove,but I have little reason to think that he can't come pretty close to repeating last year's performance at the plate. Last year was pretty hard to say who was the Nat's team MVP, but one could certainly have made a good argument for Adam.BTW, this day off stuff after opening day, though maybe a necessary evil, still seems like torture.

  41. Diz - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Regarding today's matchup, with Eovaldi and Alvarez out, the Nats get Kevin Slowey.I was a little concerned about the Nats bats coming out of ST, except for the "Kid", of course. I expected some tough hitting against Nolasco, since he's always pitched well against us, but we better be able to get to Slowey and LeBlanc.

  42. SCNatsFan - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    I think Stras, Gio and JZim play 'can you top this' all year. Detwiler just hides in the backround and pitches well. Haren lays some eggs but has some monster games.

  43. Joe Seamhead - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Yes,sm13, I agree on the crowd howling along with Jayson's walkup! Seriously, the idea of "Werewolves in London" was Nats Jack's, but last month while in Florida, I threw it first to Mike Rizzo, and then to Werth personally. Both said that they liked it, so I was just dying in the stands Monday when he actually used it! First thing I did was to text Jack.

  44. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    Ghost……Re:ALR…..don't underestimate Eck's abilities to help him to similar #'s as last year.ALR works with Eck alot.

  45. Tcostant - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    I did know the Yankees played at West Point on Saturday. My understanding from listening to Phil Woods' Nats Talk wlast Saturday that Lerner called someone with the Yankees towards the end of last years regular season. I think they could have said the game was on Saturday and the Yankees could have adjusted and eith had their game at West Point ion Friday or Sunday.Just short seighted by the Nats, like the year they had Nats Fest on a weekday in March.

  46. m - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Regarding the Morse debate. I do not agree that his defense is that bad. He made the whole batting lineup better. Morse and LaRoche could have played if Span had not been acquired. I was not thrilled with the Span acquisition. This will resemble the Willingham trade. Harper could have played a few years in CF until maybe Goodwin. Span does not make up for the loss of Morse's bat. Concerning Rizzo, he is good but he does not walk on water. Can you imagine if the Grienke trade went down. That would have been on par with Minaya's trade of Phillips, Lee, Sizemore for Colon. Everyone should relax in anointing Rizzo as the second coming.

  47. A DC Wonk - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Hey all — my just-turned-18-year-old mega-fan managed to convince her parents to get a couple of tickets for tonight's game. We found some $13 tix in sec 309 and scooped 'em up.Anyone else going tonight?(I brought my biggest/warmest ski jacket ;-) )

  48. Theophilus T. S. - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Someone said Morse made two "great" defensive plays — I didn't see 'em so I don't know how "great" they were. "Effort" makes most of the plays that "Talent" makes. The difference is smaller than you assume, and Morse didn't ever short anybody on effort in the field. Seattle scored more than 110 fewer runs than the Nats last season. Morse's offense will be much more important up there than his defensive limitations.

  49. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    GoSM, first game itself convinced me that bringing back ALR was the right move.

  50. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    Joe Seamhead, I sure hope you are right about ALRs offensive output getting near last year. Personally, anything north of 80 RBIs for ALR would be good!

  51. A DC Wonk - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Concerning Rizzo, he is good but he does not walk on water.OK, granted. And he's not perfect either.But that doesn't take away from the fact that the early evidence seems to show he might be one of the best, perhaps _the_ best in baseball. He inherited a team that was terrible, and a farm system that was a shambles after MLB had spent years letting it dry out due to neglect. In a few short years he replaced something like, what, 21 or 25 players, and somehow made improvements in every area: batting, fielding, pitching, attitude, age, coaching, etc etc.I'll take the best guy (even if he isn't perfect) every time!

  52. A DC Wonk - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    GoSM, first game itself convinced me that bringing back ALR was the right move. Indeed. That scoop in the first inning might have saved the Nats from being down 1-0 before they had every taken a single at bat this year!

  53. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… GoSM, first game itself convinced me that bringing back ALR was the right move. April 03, 2013 10:17 AM I'm so tainted in how poorly Adam Dunn was on the bag at 1st base and watching how the pitchers would get rattled by stupid errors that ALRs scoops saved 2 errors on the Dunn-Meter on Monday.The defense on Monday for a "first" game was so excellent that the only close call was Werth's snowcone catch.The true test will come when we see how DSpan handles a flyball to that angle where the visitor's bullpen meets the Red Porch seats in left-centerfield.

  54. Alphabet Soup Erik - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    The Nationals will rue the day they traded Michael Morse. He is head and shoulders a better player than Span or Werth. In a year where you come out and say World Series or bust, how can you justify trading a guy like Morse for someone who won't even be in the big leagues for at least 2 years? Rizzo wants to build a system here, for better or worse, and there are many dangers in that way of thinking. Sacrificing the present for the future may help them win 90+ games for a longer period of time, but weakening your current team is too high of a price for consistency.

  55. A DC Wonk - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    (that was: 21 _of_ 25 players (or was it 23 of 25 players?))

  56. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    I would consider at least 90 as a floor considering the OBP you are likely to get from top four guys, span's career OBP .357 (.342 last year), Werth's .360+, Harper's .340 last year, and RZ's .350+. Which lineup has this kind of OBP from their four guys? maybe Tigers? Angels? Not too many lineups I can think of.

  57. sm13 - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Seamhead – good work by Natsjack and you on Werewolves. Hope the crowd catches on.

  58. UnkyD - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    "Like Fat Man in the Bathtub? In honor of our newest racing president?"——-THAT'S funny, Navy!!! I was thinking that "All That You Dream" might be appropriate…?

  59. Alphabet Soup Erik - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    DC Wonk-Listen, I like Rizzo and what he has done, but best in baseball??? He has yet to win a playoff series as a GM. I would think a guy out in SF who traded for Pence and Scutaro, had to put a guy who won 2 CY Awards in the bullpen, lost his closer and still won the World Series might get a little credit. Substitute Jameson Taillon and Dustin Ackley (#2 picks in draft) for Strasburg and Harper an you might have a very different level of adoration. Those two guys can make Vinny Cerrato the GM of the year.

  60. Tcostant - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    One positive Monday was not being told when to cheer by the scoreboard. I hope the Nats keep that up & let the fans decide when to cheer or make noice.

  61. sm13 - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Maybe Screech could dress up as Dixie Chicken?

  62. Unknown - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    The Beast–two homers and 4 RBI's last night leading Mariners to second straight win. Wonder if Rizzo is checking the box scores??? He will live by Werth-less and die by Werth-less.

  63. sm13 - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Adam will be fine. He'll come close to 25/.265, as he always does. His defense, though is irreplaceable. Ryan, Ian, and Danny need him at 1st.

  64. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Danny not as much as the other two. Danny's throws are usually on the spot I think.

  65. Navy Nats Fan - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    I'd be fine with just about any Little Feat song at the ballpark. Well, except "Oh Atlanta" of course.

  66. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    "Sacrificing the present for the future may help them win 90+ games for a longer period of time, but weakening your current team is too high of a price for consistency."I don't agree. 1) Getting into the playoffs is the goal. Winning once they're there is unpredictable, so getting there as often as possible is the best outcome they can control at all. Winning 90+ games regularly is a good way to do that. 2) They're going to have a team in 2016, and presumably we will all still be following them. You probably can guess now who would be whinging about weakening the team then for a shot at the world series "two whole years ago!"

  67. sjm308 - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Besides the great baseball talk and anlysis, the Insider's understanding of great Rock & Roll is also impressive. Warren Zevon and Lowell George(may they both rest in peace) are pretty much always on my ipod. I think at last count I had 5 Zevon albums and 7 Little Feat. Still not convinced to root for Morse but I don't wish him ill either. He is not a National, plain and simple. Wonk – I had Thursday afternoon game in my package but I have punted and "hopefully" made an exchange for the afternoon game in July vs. Pittsburgh. We will definitely meet up this season.Go Nats!!Not needing a sweep here but sure would love that. Just win each series guys!

  68. Doc - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    Ghost, I agree with your comments on The Beast and his spot on the team's offense.Just the same I think that Rizzo did well with the trade with Oak/Seattle.ALR's scooping ability, and that of other 1st base guys could be subject to SABR stats if the nerds over at Baseball Prospectus stopped wasting their time on GIGO stuff like the Nats winning 88 games in '13 and Harps hitting 24 dingers this year.And NatsJack, thanks for the observation that Eck is seen working frequently with ALR. Seems that Eckstein most posting days goes under appreciated here at NI. Bet that The Beast will be on the phone with Eckstein a few times in '13! LOL

  69. A DC Wonk - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    DC Wonk-Listen, I like Rizzo and what he has done, but best in baseball??? He has yet to win a playoff series as a GM.Yes, he might be the best, or among the best. I said it was early to tell, but, yes.As for Strasburg and Harper — check out their WAR — it's nowhere near enough to turn a two-time-59-win team into a 98-win team. Take away Strasburg, and you still have a formidable pitching staff that's probably top-five in MLB.

  70. A DC Wonk - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    … and we're just a few years past the day when the Nats' staff was anchored by Lannan, and backed up by cast-offs and walk-on-invitees.

  71. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    FWIW, Todd Van Poppel was a consensus #1 pick. The Braves passed on him for Larry Jones. It's not that cut-and-dried.

  72. Alphabet Soup Erik - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    Sofa-Winning in the playoffs in unpredictable??? Many great teams would beg to differ. Winning in the playoffs may be unpredictable for good teams, but not for great ones!!! That was the whole point of my argument…sacrificing the opportunity to be great for the safer bet of being good. You can find those teams in every major sport. As to your second point, the odds of A.J. Cole making the difference between making the playoffs or not, I would say those odds are about 1000-1. That being said, the Nationals are probably good enough to win the World Series right now, but if Morse hits .300 with 35 HR and 100 RBI, you can't tell me they are a better team without him.

  73. Doc - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    Interesting observation, Sec.3. Larry did pretty good!!!What if Harper and Stras were in the same draft?I'd always go for the hitter over the pitcher, even if the pitcher was Super Stras!

  74. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Circular argument, if you're defining "great" as teams that won the series, but I do agree that it's a fundamental difference of philosophies. You can set whatever odds you like, in your head, on Cole or Morse or Time-Machine Willie Mays. Time will tell. But I think you've described the difference well; we disagree on which is better.

  75. Tcostant - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  76. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    What if Harper and Stras were in the same draft?Well, then they don't get both. But Strasburg and Trout were in the same draft, IIRC. I love Drew Storen, but still. Would have been interesting.

  77. Tcostant - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Sec. 3, My Sofa said… FWIW, Todd Van Poppel was a consensus #1 pick. The Braves passed on him for Larry Jones. It's not that cut-and-dried.Me  Anyone who says that the Braves didn't want Todd Van Poppel over Chipper doesn't know the full story. The Braves wanted Todd Van Poppel and he kept telling them he wanted the college experience and was going to Texas to play college baseball there. In addition, he sent a letter to every team telling them not to draft him and waste their draft pick (there was no #1 pick coming the following year for unsigned picks then). He made it know that he would not sign and the Braves moved on to Chipper. I think 12 other teams also believe Todd Van Poppel as he lasted to the mid-first round where the A's took him because they had extra picks for losing Dave Parker.Don't kid yourself, Todd Van Poppel would have been the Braves pick if he indicated that he would sign. Anything else is revisionist history.

  78. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    I seem to recall, and I could be remembering this wrong, that Van Poppel said he wouldn't sign with the Braves, because they were a bad team, not that he wouldn't sign with anybody. And he did, in fact, sign with the A's. But that's the point–the "obvious" pick isn't always so obvious.

  79. UnkyD - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    "you can't tell me they are a better team without him."——-They are a better team without him.They are a better team without him.They are a better team without him.Can, too……

  80. Laddie Blah Blah - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    "Everyone should relax in anointing Rizzo as the second coming."Maybe taking the team from the worst record in baseball to the best record in baseball in 3 years is not the 2nd coming, but it's on a very short list. I'll take that. You can leave it, if you like.Sure, he's made some mistakes (Nyjer Morgan, Garret Mock, et. al.). Really, so what? Anyone looking for the 2nd coming from Rizzo can't blame him because he's only human. But he has done a heckuva job with the Nats for a mere mortal. Enough of a job to be named Exec of the Year.

  81. UnkyD - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    {=^D

  82. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    Doc said… Ghost, I agree with your comments on The Beast and his spot on the team's offense.Just the same I think that Rizzo did well with the trade with Oak/Seattle.ALR's scooping ability, and that of other 1st base guys could be subject to SABR stats if the nerds over at Baseball Prospectus stopped wasting their time on GIGO stuff like the Nats winning 88 games in '13 and Harps hitting 24 dingers this year.Given the circumstances I'm happy with the trade, but if Morse was available to be traded in the "heat of the moment" at the Winter Meetings, I think Rizzo would've gotten more.I bet ALR saved RZim 10+ throwing errors last year. I believe that if RZim didn't have his throwing issues that Rizzo probably would've stuck with Morse after ALR opted out.

  83. Tcostant - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    Not only did the A’s give him enough to give up college, they gave him a major league contract; which wasn’t done much then. The approach back fired on both Van Poppel and the A’s, as his contracted dictated that he needed to in the majors before he was ready, thus hurting his development. Van Poppel made a lot of money in his career, but thinks might have been very different if he just went to college like he wanted and then went to proball after he was developed more. Will never know and the Braves lucked out!

  84. Alphabet Soup Erik - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    Unkyd-Good one!!! However, I require all students to show their work in my classroom.

  85. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Mike Rizzo's greatest addition to the Nats was the change in philosophy in a more athletic and defensive team and guess what, Michael Morse was not going to cut it in Rizzo's outfield. It just doesn't fit his model. Outfielders must save runs and cover more ground. As much as it's going to hurt not seeing the Beast in the Nats lineup, this outfield will make the pitchers better.You have now seen the 'new' Stephen Strasburg remolded in the JZim style of pitch-to-contact to where he has to have full confidence in his defense and so far so good!!!

  86. Joe Seamhead - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Two points, Ghost.I agree about the pitchers are better because Denard has been added.

  87. A DC Wonk - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Winning in the playoffs in unpredictable??? Yes, indeed it is. In a short series, anything can happen.The Cards won in 2011, despite finishing only second in the anemic Central Division of the NL.Last year, the Giants don't even make it to the world series, but for a passed ball and and error in the 10th inning after two were out.In 2010, the two best teams in the AL, Tampa Bay and Yankees didn't even make it to the WS — the Rangers did. The Rangers had the worst record of any AL team that make the playoffs.So, yeah, once you get into the playoffs, it's a crapshoot.

  88. 3on2out - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    Ghost:You nailed it. Athleticism and defense and power pitching. The Rizzo Triumvirate! Damn! I love this Kool-Aid.

  89. Section 222 - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    Not going to reenter the Morse/ALR/Span debate. Hashed and rehashed. What's done is done. I'm happy for Morse though, and since he's in the other league, I hope he has an MVP season. Fun to see him slap his helmet like old times. His first dinger was a classic Morse oppo shot. Looked like he hardly got the bat on it but he's so freaking strong. Someone (ahem) said yesterday that it was unclear whether the fans in Seattle would embrace his quirky-ness like we did. Yeah right. He's a fan favorite already, especially since he used to play there and has embraced his new home with the cheerfulness you would expect.I'm also glad we kept Take on Me. The song was his choice, but the sing-along was fan generated, and it would have been a shame to lose it just because Morse was traded. So good on the Nats for perpetuating the tradition. We've come a long way since Sweet Caroline (ugh). I'll bet A-ha is happy too. I'm also happy

  90. SCNatsFan - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    sec 222, I agree. I would have loved a situation that would have allowed Morse to stay but Rizzo, who has a little better baseball smarts then me, thought that Span and his OBP, speed and defense was better then one year of MM and Harper in CF. Was he right? Who knows but the argument is moot if Span performs well.

  91. EmDash - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    For what it's worth, every evaluation of the Morse trade I've read considered three great-to-solid pitching prospects (each with 6 possible years of major league control) an absolute steal for 1 year of Morse.

  92. Theophilus T. S. - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    I'm w/ M- on the Morse trade. It looks to me that most everyone thinks Cole is a Top-10 prospect for the Nats; the AA guy looked very good in ST, and the PTBNL has a good shot at reaching the majors. If Cole is starting in 2016 (or, more likely, could be spun for a regular/starter), and the other two are in the BP, we will think it's a great deal. Wait and see.

  93. Section 222 - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    This will resemble the Willingham trade. Not to reeenter the debate, but you do realize that if the Nats had not traded Willingham, there was no place for Morse to play and emerge as the star he is today.

  94. bowdenball - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Section 3, My Sofa:If you don't mind, I'd like to just copy your 10:44 AM post and use it over and over again every time we have one of these discussions about trades around here. Very very well said.

  95. JamesFan - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    We won't know enough to debate LaRoche/Morse until the end of the year. I think it was a toss-up, but tended to favor Morse. Let's look at it in October.

  96. SCNatsFan - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    Plus we didn't really trade Morse, he's still here – he just looks like Tyler Moore now.

  97. NCNatsie - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Maybe this makes me a glass-half-empty guy, which I don't want to be, but for me, Morse vs LaRoche has always been a case of which bad outcome is more likely: that the 2012 ALR was the high water mark and he'll never come close again. Or that Mikey gets hurt again.And at the airport, my rental car bus alaways comes last, too.

  98. natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  99. natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Agreed. I felt like we fans picked up where we left off in the playoffs on the cheering front with a strong, organic showing. I know it won't be that big a crowd for every game but still…Tcostant said… One positive Monday was not being told when to cheer by the scoreboard. I hope the Nats keep that up & let the fans decide when to cheer or make noice. April 03, 2013 10:33 AM

  100. natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    Corrected version. Is it time for lunch yet?Sounds good but who would be the Tennessee Lamb? sm13 said… Maybe Screech could dress up as Dixie Chicken? April 03, 2013 10:34 AM

  101. UnkyD - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    I have a little trouble seeing what all the fuss is about, in losing the power bat of Mikey. I love the guy, but seven of the eight starting position players have a reasonable chance of getting 20+…some as many as 30-40 taters, this year. Lack of power does not seem like a major worry…

  102. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    "One positive Monday was not being told when to cheer by the scoreboard. I hope the Nats keep that up & let the fans decide when to cheer or make noise."Maybe somebody could do a Where Are They Now book on Elwood, the Rally Possum.

  103. Candide - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    Tcostant said… One positive Monday was not being told when to cheer by the scoreboard. "Ev-ry bodyClap yo' hands!"God, I hate that.

  104. ChapJim - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    Going to be pretty frickin' frio tonight.Go Gio! Go Nats!

  105. Navy Nats Fan - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    (clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap)me too.

  106. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    I half-expect to see a flamenco dancer during that.

  107. slidell2 - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    Re clap, clap, clap . . . . . . Me third.

  108. Adam - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    Digging out my warmest coat and my drinking gloves for tonight.

  109. natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    I must get rid of Clouseau…Sec. 3, My Sofa said… I half-expect to see a flamenco dancer during that. April 03, 2013 2:43 PM

  110. ChapJim - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    What's odd is that in spite of the cold, StubHub only has 729 tickets left.Could it be a sellout with temps in the 30s?

  111. ChapJim - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    Yes, I know ticket on StubHub don't determine whether a game is a sellout.

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