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The Jays return home to face the rampaging Nationals, who are closer to their division leader than the Jays are. Led by its no-name rotation, Washington is slicing through middling AL teams like a sand wedge through sand. Can the Nats keep it up at the Dome?


Seriously, this isn't a guaranteed series win. The Nationals have won 5 of 6 in AL ballparks to claw within 8.5 games of the NL East lead. They just swept their rivals in Baltimore behind Micah Bowie, Matt Chico and ace Jason Simontacchi. The Nationals clearly are committed to building pitching cheaply, which is not a terrible strategy at all for a team that plays in a pitchers' park. Why not? Build pitchers who become overrated because they benefit from the RFK factor and trade 'em for hitters. Sounds like a winning plan, especially when long-shot veteran acquisitions like Cristian Guzman and Dmitri Young come up aces.

Who the heck are these pitchers? Good question. Let's all hold hands and find out together.

Friday - Mike Bacsik: It's pronounced Bass (the fish)-ick. He is the 29-year-old son of Mike Bacsik, who used to pitch for the Minnesota Twins. Bacsik failed to show up his father's former employer in his last start - he gave up 4 runs in 5 innings in a loss to the Twins. Last year, Bacsik went 11-0 with a 2.79 ERA at AAA Tucson. The Nats snapped him up through free agency in November and promoted him about a month ago. He's your typical finesse lefty who doesn't throw hard and needs to establish a presence on the inside corner to succeed.

Saturday - Levale Speigner: It's pronounced Spy-gner. The only Levale in major-league history is a 26-year-old rookie who has pitched as a reliever ever since 2002, his junior year at Auburn. In that season, he was pounded as a starter and demoted to the Tigers' pen. But in 2003, he pulled an Aaron Small-like resurrection and got 10 wins out of the bullpen. So he got drafted by Minnesota. The Nationals Rule 5'd him from Minnesota this winter. In his last start, he showed off his vengeful streak with six strong innings at the Metrodome to beat Johan Santana and the Twins, 3-1. Speigner had good groundball rates throughout his minor-league career. Baseball America says Speigner came into the year as a two-pitch pitcher, using a fastball in the low 90s and a hard curveball, but he appears to have worked in a changeup during his stint as a starter as well.

Sunday - Micah Bowie: The one Washington starter I'd heard of before this series, and that's only because I picked him up for an emergency fantasy start on a Sunday because he plays in a pitchers' park. He is 32 years old, and has 1.1 innings of playoff experience, in which he has a 0.00 WHIP, 0.00 ERA and 75% strikeout rate. He throws fastballs and sliders. His K/BB ratio splits are pronounced this year: he's murder on lefties (12:1 in 60 PA) but less so against righties (15:14 in 105).

Bullpen situation: The Nationals are in a bind. The root of the problem is that they're actually winning! Problem is, they've won three straight games that built up to save situations in the ninth, so Chad Cordero and "Very Tall" Jon Rauch have both pitched on three straight days with no rest. That's a bit of a crippling blow to a team that's sending out three starters who all began the year as relief pitchers. However, the bullpen is pretty clearly a strength on this team, and the other guys in the pen are a barrel of fun. Baseball vagabond "Slender" Winston Abreu has great stuff, though he's hit-prone; "Slender" Saul Rivera, who nailed down the save in extra innings on Wednesday after the bullpen's big guns blew a lead in the late innings, looks kind of like Casey Janssen in that he's got some kind of slider/cutter type thing in the high 80s which breaks sharply and looks like a royal pain to have to try to hit hard. Veteran Ray King was brought in to add a lefty presence; the enlightening if unreliable tubes of the Interweb indicate that King wears the Burger King King's suit on his free time and is a fan of Paris Hilton. Then there's...

"Personal" Jesus Colome: He's ba-ack! After pitching all of 0.1 innings with the Devil Rays last year, the hard-throwing righty has resurfaced with the Nationals. Unlike in the good old days in St. Pete where he'd just go out there throwing fastball after fastball, however, Colome now reaches for his slider pretty often. Although it hasn't translated into great strikeout totals yet, Colome's increased reliance on offspeed stuff has bamboozled NL hitters. Colome has pitched in 35 games with a 2.63 ERA. He is 4-0.

The Credit Section: All offensive stats, pitches per PA for pitchers and league average stats are from the Hardball Times. Pitchers' stats and leverage indices are from Fangraphs. K% and BB% are strikeouts and walks as a percentage of plate appearances; GB% + LD% + FB% = 100.

The Nationals are 29-37, 8 games behind first-place New York. Their team DER is .705, which would put them fifth in the AL.



Advance Scout: Nationals, June 15-17 | 20 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Rob - Friday, June 15 2007 @ 04:46 PM EDT (#169933) #
Tony Batista, first base? How is this possible?
jeff mcl - Friday, June 15 2007 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#169934) #
Tony Batista?!?  If there's a blowout game I wouldn't mind seeing one of his patented laser beam homeruns for old time's sake.
Mike Green - Friday, June 15 2007 @ 05:19 PM EDT (#169936) #
It's kind of fun that Speigner defeated fellow Rule 5er Santana.  Somehow I doubt that he has quite the same future as Johan. What is it with the Twins and Nats connections, anyways?  Speigner, Bascik, Guzman.

Right now, they're calling for showers and warm weather on Sunday.  What are the odds that Josh Towers throws in humid weather with the dome closed?  Born under a bad sign....

Mike D - Friday, June 15 2007 @ 07:06 PM EDT (#169944) #
Is there any reason why the Dome is closed tonight?
christaylor - Friday, June 15 2007 @ 07:17 PM EDT (#169945) #
Looking at Young's line makes me a little upset, as I though he would have been a better acquisition than Thomas over the winter and still do.

I'm not sure I'll still believe this by September, but I like the odds so far.
Magpie - Friday, June 15 2007 @ 08:48 PM EDT (#169946) #
Is there any reason why the Dome is closed tonight?

The whisper around here is a mechanical problem. In other words,
"The roof is  broken!"


westcoast dude - Friday, June 15 2007 @ 10:31 PM EDT (#169948) #
Jerry said, "The roof is closed because of a computer glitch." Tom Henke guested and Jerry recalled Tom's 0.33 ERA coming up from Syracuse in '85. Shortly after, my Gameday Audio was done for the night.
MondesiRules - Friday, June 15 2007 @ 11:36 PM EDT (#169949) #

Interesting tidbit on who our new GM might be next year according to our good old friend Marty York:

http://www.metronews.ca/column.aspx?id=55092

 

subculture - Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 12:13 AM EDT (#169950) #
Wow, that article plays fast and loose with facts and assumptions.  While I feel it's ironic that Ash is getting kudos for Milwaukee as I felt he 'won' his trades with JP (at the time each trade was made, esp. Koskie, imo), how can you say the Jays have a 'dearth' of talent, and that Zaun has 'done nothing' without mentioning his injury this season?

Heck the Jays who spent substantial time on the DL (Ryan, League, Halladay, Overbay, Johnson, Zaun, Chacin) represent more talent than some teams have on their entire roster!  One example being the Nats...

Now my question is can we somehow turn Stairs, Clayton, Thomas and prospects into Tejada?  How about add Thigpen and Lind and get Bedard? 

Anders - Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 04:08 AM EDT (#169961) #
Fun fact: Marty York is a terrible "journalist." Another fun fact: he is a plagiarist as well.

In his MLB report of June 14th (http://www.metronews.ca/column.aspx?id=55092) Marty York writes

"Wilson is in the doghouse with the Pirates now. Hes their highest-paid player with a salary of $5.4-million US, but hes been benched this week and is guaranteed an additional $14.25-million over the next two seasons. And, based on precedent, the Pirates are enormously unlikely to keep that salary on the payroll if there is any doubt he will be their everyday shortstop."

In his Pirates Notebook, also of June 14th (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07165/794060-63.stm) Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes

"Wilson, the team's highest-paid player with a salary of $5.4 million, is guaranteed an additional $14.25 million over the next two seasons. And, based on thick precedent, the Pirates are enormously unlikely to keep that salary on the payroll if there is any doubt he will be their everyday shortstop."

I added the emphasis. While exact times of postings arent listed, I doubt the Pirates beat reporter was stealing from Marty York writing in Toronto.

3RunHomer - Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 09:34 AM EDT (#169964) #

Now my question is can we somehow turn Stairs, Clayton, Thomas and prospects into Tejada? How about add Thigpen and Lind and get Bedard?

First we get the baseball fairies to put a "dunce spell" on the Orioles' front office ... heh ... looks like someone beat us to it.

Actually, I doubt that Angelos allows the Orioles' fire sale to start before he finds a new GM.

Rob - Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 10:57 AM EDT (#169968) #
Fun fact: Marty York is a terrible "journalist." Another fun fact: he is a plagiarist as well.

These facts, while fun (and accurate!), are hardly new. (Ask Michael Farber about Ivan Calderon, or pretty much any Toronto/Montreal/Hamilton beat writer about any Blue Jay, Argo, Ti-Cat, or Expo.) It's fitting that York now has to write for a publication most people ignore on the GO Train while they look for a real paper to read.
Pistol - Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 03:49 PM EDT (#169974) #
And if he did any minor research he'd know that while Clayton is providing next to nothing Wilson isn't exactly lighting it up.

Clayton:  .237/.289/.331
Wilson:  .255/.308/.359 (in the JV league)

Of course, maybe that difference is worth $5MM/year and the Jays will be all over Wilson...........

VBF - Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 05:45 PM EDT (#169977) #
Man, are the Nationals boring to watch.

To be truthful, I have no idea on the state of their farm system, and they have a couple exciting players, but trotting out all those one hit wonders of ballplayers makes for some really boring baseball.

Nice to see one of the most dedicated, hardworking, leaders have a couple good games in a row. More to come.

Dave Till - Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 05:56 PM EDT (#169978) #
Here's a link to a Ryerson Review of Journalism article about Marty York, written in 1992. It looks like the article was scanned using an OCR reader, which explains some of the unusual typos.

The article has a reference to the Michael Ferber/Ivan Calderon incident, and also mentions that York moved only reluctantly from the football beat to the baseball beat. I got the impression, back in the day, that York didn't really enjoy writing about baseball, and this article seems to confirm this.

The article also mentions that, on a plane flight in about 1987, a bunch of Jays were lobbing peanuts and other things at York from the back of the team plane.
Magpie - Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 06:11 PM EDT (#169980) #
Martin and Sean O'Malley ran into still fresh memories of Marty back when they were covering the Jays, which they described thus:

...the almost universal disdain the writers and players had for... Marty York when he used to write about baseball. The writers didn't like the way York wrote nasty bits about the Blue Jays, but always stationed himself anonymously at the rear of the scrum, or avoided the clubhouse altogether.


Which is then contrasted with mighty Dave Perkins of the Star. After writing his still legendary "Welcome Back, Tony" column, Perkins marched right into the clubhouse the very next day, planted himself in front of Fernandez' locker, and asked Tony if he had anything to say.

Manhattan Mike - Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 06:59 PM EDT (#169981) #
I don't recall that column about Tony Fernandez... what was it about?
Magpie - Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 07:15 PM EDT (#169982) #
that column about Tony Fernandez

Well, it began:

Tony Fernandez  is exactly the kind of chicken-hearted, self-centred clown the Blue Jays needed to get rid of before they could win the World Series.
It is almost inconceivable that they would bring him back again.
It wasn't until they thoroughly cleaned out the clubhouse of brittle brains like Fernandez...


And then, he took the gloves off.

Afterwards, Perkins noted that he and Fernandez had a long talk and "that was that. The public took it worse than he did."
Anders - Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 11:14 PM EDT (#170017) #

More fun facts with Marty York - the Metro News article was changed subsequently to include the highlighted line. Im just bringing this up as I think its funny. Plus Marty emailed me and denied that anything happened.



Wilson is in the doghouse with the Pirates now, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Hes their highest-paid player with a salary of $5.4-million US, but hes been benched this week and is guaranteed an additional $14.25-million over the next two seasons. And, based on precedent, the Pirates are enormously unlikely to keep that salary on the payroll if there is any doubt he will be their everyday shortstop.

Advance Scout: Nationals, June 15-17 | 20 comments | Create New Account
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