The Nationals Are Horrible

What would make William Ladson, who has covered the Nationals franchise since 2002, tweet that during Monday’s Nats-Red Sox game? Well, how about this:

Or maybe THIS from the SAME INNING:

Or maybe it was Ian Desmond’s fifth error in seven games (thankfully not pictured).

Can we just hit reset on this season?

Some Awesome Ovechkin Goal-Scoring Stats

Ovi got to 50 on the season the other night and 472 on his career, tying Peter Bondra for No. 1 in Caps history. A few cool stats/bits of trivia to celebrate the occasion, starting with:

Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Marcel Dionne, Guy Lafleur, and Mario Lemieux are the only other players to hit 50 goals six times. And they all played in eras with significantly more goal-scoring.

Putting 50 goals into further perspective for the modern era:

And from a few years ago, Via Daily Sports:

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Stick it, Crosby.

Remembering Kevin Frandsen’s Finest Moment as a Washington National

Big news out of Nats camp is they’ve released utility man Kevin Frandsen (via @ZuckermanCSN). He didn’t hit much in his one season with the Nats (.259/.299/.309 in 220 at-bats), but that doesn’t mean he didn’t contribute in other ways.

Happy trails, dude. There is no wrong pipe.

(Vine taken from last year’s division championship celebration.)

Are We To Believe The Wizards Are Good Again?

Here with your semi-regular look at the Wiz is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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Let’s recap the Wizards season so far.

They were really good up until the end of January, going 31-15 through January 27.

Then they were godawful and excruciating to watch not as good the next five weeks, falling to 35-28 in a brutal stretch that included losses to cellar-dwellers such as the 76ers and Timberwolves (back-to-back in fact, by a combined 28 points).

Now, they appear to have regained at least some of their early magic, winning four games in a row by an average of 18 points an sitting at a very respectable 39-28.

So the million dollar question: Are the Wizards good again?

Continue reading

Offseason Champs No More?

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I hesitate to say the Redskins have reverse-engineered their approach to team building, learning from nightmares past, but that does seem to the case under new GM Scot McCloughlan. A recap of their moves through the opening days of free agency:

*Depth D-lineman Ricky Jean-Francois for three years, $9 million ($4M guaranteed)
*Pass-rushing D-lineman Stephen Paea for four years, $21 million ($12.85M guaranteed)
*Run-stuffing 3-4 nose Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton for one year, $4 million guaranteed
*Quality, 26-year-old cornerback Chris Culliver for four years, $32 million ($16M guaranteed)

Update: The Skins also signed 26-year-old strong safety Jeron Johnson for two years, $3.5 million. He was Kam Chancellor’s backup in Seattle, but he’ll probably start in D.C.

What they didn’t do: sign Brian Orakpo for four years, $32 million ($13.5M guaranteed). They let Tennessee do that, and there’s no takebacks if Rak tears a pec while signing on the line that is dotted.

So, a new leaf for the Skins? These are sensible deals addressing areas of major concern. Without doing the research, I’d say Washington had one of the worst defensive lines in football last season, as well as one of the worst secondaries. That was fun!

Now they’re improved on both fronts, and they’ve got a full boat of draft picks to use next month. This must be how quality organizations operate.

Added bonus: Both the Giants and Eagles land on Bill Barnwell’s top 10 *worst* free agent signings so far. #facts

Still, With The Strasburg Shutdown

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In an otherwise excellent Grantland piece outlining the Nationals for what they’re projected to be — a 100-win team, which is an increasingly rare creature in MLB — Rany Jazayerli strikes a nerve:

It is widely assumed within the industry that Boras was a driving force behind Rizzo’s worst decision as GM of the Nationals: shutting Strasburg down in September 2012 with the team barreling toward its first playoff berth since moving to Washington. It still makes no sense that the Nationals would jeopardize their postseason chances in order to theoretically protect Strasburg’s long-term health, but such is the cost of keeping Boras placated.

Regardless of Boras’ influence and what you think of Rizzo’s decision, the move made sense then and makes even more now. The facts:

*Strasburg was in his first full post-Tommy John season, and the plan heading in was to limit him to 160 innings.

*When Strasburg hit 160, in early September with the Nats up 6.5 games, he was shut down.

*Buzz bombs went off left and right about how silly the Nats were for this, especially as compared to Atlanta, which was in a similar situation with Kris Medlin. He was used in relief through July before moving to the rotation in August, effectively keeping his innings down.

*The Nats lost in the first round of the playoffs, dropping a heartbreaker to St. Louis. Strasburg’s would’ve-been start was given to Ross Detwiler, who pitched six innings, allowing one unearned run.

*The Cardinals were in that series because they beat the Braves in the Wild Card game. Medlin started and picked up the loss, allowing five unearned runs.

*In the two seasons since 2012, Strasburg has thrown 398 ace-level innings, posting a 3.08 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 433 strikeouts. Medlen was very good in 2013 but required a second Tommy John Surgery in 2014. He’s now attempting a comeback with Kansas City.

So yeah, flags fly forever and all, but the Nats had a plan, they stuck to it, and it’s working out pretty well. This is the same plan, by the way, that they executed to similar effect with fellow ace Jordan Zimmermann.

Rather than risk the future by squeezing a few playoff starts out of Strasburg, they attempted to bolster their fortune for years to come, effectively spreading more bets across the roulette table that is the MLB Playoffs.

That’s the thing with October baseball, you never know. From the same Grantland piece linked above:

Since 1986, 26 teams have won 100 games, but just two of them — the 1998 and 2009 Yankees — won the World Series.

Two out of 26! The Nats won 98 games in 2012 and 96 in 2014, yet didn’t make it out of the first round either year. The Braves made the playoffs 14 times in 15 years but only won it all once. The A’s have made it eight times in 15 years without even winning a series.

The point being, while this year’s Nats are as stacked as a modern team can be, they probably won’t go all the way. The best-case scenario is they win the division and get about a 1-in-8 chance of winning three straight playoff series. That was the best-case scenario in 2012, too.

1989 Caps ‘Goalbusters’ Poster

I was 11 or 12 when this poster became a thing, but I didn’t see it ’til yesterday (via @japersrink):

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Based off of the goal totals/puck pyramids, this must’ve been during the offseason of ’89. Dino Ciccarelli, Geoff Courtnall and Mike Ridley would go on to score 106 goals the next season, one that ended with a run to the conference finals.

Twenty-five years later, Ghostbusters III still hasn’t been made, though it is in production for summer 2016.

Previously: The Early ’90s Redskins ‘Posse’ Poster