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Around the NL East: Deadline time

Jul 30, 2013, 12:48 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today

By Steve Roney
CSNwashington.com

All around baseball, buyers are looking for parts to add and finding few willing trade partners; the second wild card, still a new facet of the game, has widened not only the playoff field but also deepened the pool of teams who believe they have a shot. That likely doesn't apply to most of the NL East, however, as a recent tumble has made Philadelphia realize that it has no business making a run, and also-rans New York and Miami have been out for months already.

Atlanta Braves (61-45)
It's over-simplifying, a bit, to call Atlanta the division's only good team; it's also a pretty fair assumption to make after 100 games have been played. The Braves boast not only the East's only winning record, still, but now lead Washington by nine games. The fat lady isn't warming up her vocal chords just yet, but she's at least going over the sheet music. Atlanta added Scott Downs from the Angels, nabbing that left-handed relief that everyone is looking for at this point in the season and that they sorely needed with Venters and O'Flaherty sidelined. Do they need more help to make the playoffs? No. They should still contemplate a bat, because too many regulars are hitting around .200 for the Braves to truly feel like a championship-caliber club.
One player who is not swinging the cowhide-averse bats apparently favored by the Uptons and Dan Uggla is Chris Johnson, who has manned third base more than admirably for most of the season now. A throw-in at the time, he has been the most productive player acquired from Arizona over the winter, hitting a crisp .338. He offers almost no power for a third baseman, but a .377 OBP forgives a good deal of that. 
Player of the Week: Johnson, 3B: 5 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .476 AVG

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  1. NatsLady - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    I see Michael Morse is back (Jason Bay DFA). Too late for us, unless he isn't traded and goes on the waiver wire, where, with our record, we (sadly) pick higher than the other "pretenders/contenders."I understand Rizzo is looking for a lefty bat, but Morse's splits aren't bad, vs. RHP (career) .284/.337/.475vs. RHP (2012) .291/.326/.478The only question is how he would fare as a bench bat or DH (vs. the Royals, I think that's all we have left of interleague in AL parks after this series). I'm not advocating, just speculating.

  2. The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    They're not bringing Morse back. They kept his song, but they gave his number to Taylor Jordan.

  3. SCNatsFan - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    ou have to think if they are looking at the bench that Tracy, Hairston, Suzuki and Lombo are safe (and realistically unless included in the trade they aren't going anywhere) so Roger must be the guy checking his voicemail every half hour or so.

  4. NatsLady - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Yeah, I don't really think Rizzo is bringing Morse back, either. He has no place to play, and if our RH bats get going (which they seem to be, other than Rendon) we're fine, or as fine as we need to be. Rarely agree with you, Feel Wood, but I also agree with your comment yesterday. My sis didn't understand why that song. Well, IMO, better than Sweet Caroline. At least it has some history, from a Division-winning year. I don't mind it, there are worse songs.

  5. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    Player of the Weak: Fernandez, SP: 2-0, 15 IP, 21 K, 2.40 ERA, 0.80 WHIPInteresting spelling of "Week". Just looking around the NL East, the Marlins have something all teams want "young controllable arms" and they got a bunch. Fernandez, Turner, Eovaldi, and Alvarez and 3 more stashed in AA and a few more in A ball.Sure, the Marlins are playing 4 regulars that are bench players on most teams but don't sleep on them. When they traded Anibal he was a soon to be FA and Hanley was a problem child. Buehrle wasn't better then the arms they had in their system and Jose Reyes is no longer a game changer. They have stocked their system and now could be a trade partner in the off-season to trade a young arm for a stud position player.Philadelphia is the team to watch at the trade deadline. Can they move Cliff Lee and Utley and Cooch. This is their chance to get younger.

  6. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    SCNatsFan said… ou have to think if they are looking at the bench that Tracy, Hairston, Suzuki and Lombo are safe (and realistically unless included in the trade they aren't going anywhere) so Roger must be the guy checking his voicemail every half hour or so. July 30, 2013 9:30 AM Hairston is still a head-scratcher. He fits in perfectly with all the bench players. A bunch of under-achievers who had great 2012 seasons.Suzuki isn't going anywhere as previously mentioned because he makes about $1.1 million per month and if his option is triggered someone's on the hook for $8,500,000 next year!Tracy is expendable. We've seen his defense. We've seen his offense and neither are good. I saw Giambi hit a walk-off yesterday as a pinch-hitter and it wasn't a wall scraper. It was crushed. When Rizzo signed Tracy it was supposed to be the big scary LH guy off the bench. Tracy isn't scaring anyone but Papelbon.

  7. Faraz Shaikh - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    nice catch GoSM.

  8. RC - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Despite the number of regulars hitting "near .200"' the braves are 3rd in the league in wOBA at .325. Nats are 3rd from last at .303.Braves hitters lead the league in fWAR.

  9. NatsLady - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Braves hitters take a lot of walks and hit a lot of HRs. Makes up for all the strikeouts.

  10. natsfan1a - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    That's been consistently spelled that way in this feature over time. I believe it's meant to be ironic.

  11. NatsLady - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Re: Martinez. There are two (or more) sides to every story, and Martinez gave his in this very candid interview. I doubt I would have approached it the way he did, but he did seem to be coaching a bunch of "entitled" players who didn't want to do the smallest amount of grunt work. Seems like they could have just hired a ballkid for the job, though, especially after the first couple of incidents.Tino Martinezhttp://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/tino-martinez-resign-hitting-coach-miami-marlins-picking-up-balls-batting-cage-072913

  12. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    BTW, Chris Johnson now leads the NL in Batting Average. He's that guy who Arizona sent over with Justin Upton in that big trade last year where the DBacks got Prado and Delgado and a bunch of MiLBers.It looks like Chris Johnson who is under team control for 4 more years may be the steal in the deal!

  13. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    natsfan1a said… That's been consistently spelled that way in this feature over time. I believe it's meant to be ironic.Either that or the copy and paste format just keeps perpetuating the mistake. Either way, duly noted. ;)

  14. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    That's been consistently spelled that way in this feature over time. I believe it's meant to be ironic.To be fair, it was actually funny the first time.

  15. bowdenball - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said…BTW, Chris Johnson now leads the NL in Batting Average. He's that guy who Arizona sent over with Justin Upton in that big trade last year where the DBacks got Prado and Delgado and a bunch of MiLBers.It looks like Chris Johnson who is under team control for 4 more years may be the steal in the deal!"It's a Guzman-esque .339. His walk rate is 5.7% (for comparison's sake, Desmond is at 7.0% and he gets flack for not walking enough) and he only has six HRs on the season. His BABIP is .424 this year, which is obviously unsustainable. And he's a terrible fielder. The last four months is the best he's ever been or ever will be, I promise.

  16. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    NL, thanks for the link on Tino. I find it hard to believe those players weren't picking up the balls around the cage. That's a common practice from A ball and up.I have to think those players will have their own story on it. Tino has now put that dreaded asterik on his name now when he is looking for his next job.

  17. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    NatsLady, how do you rate the beat writers? I see in the comments section it's Kilgore by a landslide!

  18. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    "I have to think those players will have their own story on it. Tino has now put that dreaded asterik on his name now when he is looking for his next job."As will Valaika*, Dietrich*, and Ruggiano*, I have no doubt. Maybe Tino can buy them apology gifts–a coffee cup with an asterisk, maybe. I've had a boss or two like that–guys who answered the phone with "What the hell do YOU want?" Social grace of a Klingon, generally. I didn't like it. They weren't mean, they were just really socialized to a different set of rules. And more than a little Captain Redass.

  19. fast eddie - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    FWIW:SI is picking the Nats as a WC, losing to the Cards. They have the Cards also beating the Barves, then the Rangers in the WS. Of course, they also picked us to win it all last March. In retrospect, Davey's quote of "World Series or bust" provided bulletin-board material for teams in both leagues.

  20. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    bowdenball, last I checked an almost .380 OBP is pretty darn good no matter how you slice it up. Chris Johnson has improved as a fielder and while he will never be Gold Glove he is improving. When you are hitting almost .340 this far into the season you have to start to think that this player figured something out. It's large sample size. He's also had a few slumps.Johnson and Simmons are carrying that offense since the All Star break. I'm not saying it's sustainable but you never know. I'm just giving the man the props he deserves as he is leading the entire NL in batting average.

  21. phil dunton - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    Ozuna (Marlins) out for the season withan injury.

  22. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    "I see in the comments section it's Kilgore by a landslide!"That's because we're elitists. A quality microbrew to the Post's Budweiser. Not to disparage the excellent done by Kilgore. I've always he's a pro.

  23. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    FWIW: SI is picking the Nats as a WC, losing to the Cards.Seriously? What on earth are they basing that on? I can understand fans being cockeyed optimists–it's pretty much the job description–but why SI?

  24. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    Assuming no news is good news on McCatty. Assuming he makes the Detroit trip, here's hoping he takes it easy on himself.

  25. Section 222 - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    have to think if they are looking at the bench that Tracy, Hairston, Suzuki and Lombo are safeWhy on earth would Tracy be safe? The Shark at least has some value for late inning defense and pinch running. Tracy is basically just taking up space at this point.

  26. fast eddie - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Sofa:No explanation from SI. They have us finishing 87-75, one game ahead of Dodgers and Reds. Then beating Pirates in a one-game playoff.

  27. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    Thanks, eddie. When did they write that, I wonder? All-Star break, maybe, before the L.A. series?

  28. bowdenball - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said…"bowdenball, last I checked an almost .380 OBP is pretty darn good no matter how you slice it up. Chris Johnson has improved as a fielder and while he will never be Gold Glove he is improving. When you are hitting almost .340 this far into the season you have to start to think that this player figured something out. It's large sample size. He's also had a few slumps."He's been a useful player this season, no doubt about it. I just don't think it is sustainable, based on his walk rate and K rate and BABIP. Nobody sustains a .424 for a season, especially not a guy who doesn't have the speed to beat out IF grounders That number is first in baseball by 30 points and is 40 points higher than the league leader last year.

  29. bowdenball - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    To clarify my last post, .424 is Johnson's current BABIP, thirty points ahead of Joe Mauer and forty points ahead of last year's league leader among eligible players, Mike Trout. His Line Drive % is very good, so it's not all or even primarily luck, but other quzlified players with similar line drive rates have BABIPs closer to the mid .300s.

  30. fast eddie - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Sofa:The SI forecasts are in the July 22 issue. They call it "The Reforecast" since they missed on just about everything, including MVPs, Cy Young, etc.

  31. SCNatsFan - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    My thoughts on Tracy are that he makes significant money, has hit some important HRs and Davey and Rizzo obviously like him – that's why I think he is not going to be released. You won't hear me argue he has had a good season, has been worth the money or generally anything supportive of him, just that I don't think he's going anywhere. He is the left handed bat management wants.

  32. JaneB - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    I started reading this post and could tell right away it wasn't by Mark. Funny how you get used to the "voice" of the Insider. Like others of you, I'm also curious about McCatty. ANd expecting that we won't hear any trades this week that impact our roster.

  33. natsfan1a - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    Agreed on all counts.Sec. 3, My Sofa said… Assuming no news is good news on McCatty. Assuming he makes the Detroit trip, here's hoping he takes it easy on himself. July 30, 2013 10:58 AM

  34. Tcostant - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    This is a great story:http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/tino-martinez-resign-hitting-coach-miami-marlins-picking-up-balls-batting-cage-072913I'm sick of these spoiled players, Tino Martinez can coach my team, any day of the week.

  35. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    bowdenball, people also said Trout couldn't sustain his pace from last year. The season is about 2/3rds complete. Johnson is going through a hot streak. He also hit .308 one year for Houston with a .386 BABIP. Line drive hitters have higher BABIPs. I would guess he will fall into another slump which will bring his BA down some but he will probably finish the year with a BABIP north of .380 and a BA north of .305 and a OBP better than .345.

  36. bowdenball - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    Who said Trout couldn't sustain his pace from last year? Not me.I'm not saying he's gonna regress to a replacement level player. I'm just giving you the facts. His BABIP is .424, which is 320 points higher than anyone else in the game and 40 points higher than any qualified player in 2012. Yes, he has a high LD%, as I stated in a previous post, but not high enough to support a .424 BABIP, because nobody can sustain a .424 BABIP.

  37. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    SCNatsFan said… He is the left handed bat management wants. I disagree. Management wanted the Tracy from early 2012. What they got is an incosistent mess on offense and defense. 2 of his 3 HRs were wall scrapers and Denard Span has hit 2 further. Span: 388, 391 Tracy: 346, 377, 400You call this slash something any GM would want?.177/.210/.302/.512 Sure, for a pitcher.

  38. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    bowdenball, you bring up a good point. Johnson has benefitted by a good share of luck but he neutralizes so much of it with his ability to pull balls with laser line drives. I've watched him enough to tell that he is making his own luck and I will give the guy some credit. Trust me, I hope he slumps like 0 for his next 150 but it won't happen. As I said, he's finished a season with high BABIP before in 2010 at .380+ and a .308 BA. I'm sure some said he couldn't do it then.

  39. bowdenball - Jul 30, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    I think we're pretty much in agreement on Johnson, GoSM. He will regress a lot- I was talking more about 2014 and beyond than this year- but he's a decent addition and was wrongly overlooked in the Upton-Prado trade.

  40. Section 222 - Jul 30, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    If Rizzo can find someone else, Tracy is gone. Didn't he as much as say that a few days ago? I don't think that someone is Corey Brown though.

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