In the Winter months off most people have their minds on the NBA, NFL and the NHL, but not the MLB. Baseball is a spring, summer and early fall sport. The majority of the improvements with the players skill level and player acquisitions occur in the offseason.
The issue with the acquisition of players in the off-season is that many of the players that are looked at are not United States Citizens or residents. For example Cespedes is not a resident of the United States or the Dominican Republic, which are the two countries where mostly every baseball player resides. Before the Nationals or any other team is able to look at Cespedes he has to declare residency in the Dominican Republic before any MLB team will be able to look at him. Another prerequisite is that Cespedes petition Major League Baseball free agency to become a free agent. http://tracking.si.com/2011/11/28/report-nationals-targeting-prince-fielder-yoennis-cespedes/)
Fielder is the first base prospect that the Nationals are pursuing. Originially brought up by the Brewers, in the last season Fielder was named MVP of the All Star Game, and came in third for National League MVP of the 2011 season. His slugging percentage was also high (.540), which would be very helpful for the Nationals because their offense is lacking. He would be a valuable addition to the Nationals roster if he continues to play the way he has been playing in recent years.
This has been an eventful week in Washington Nationals Baseball! As the public learned last week, catcher Wilson Ramos was taken captive in his home country of Venezuela. It was reported in Caracas, Venezuela that Wilson Ramos was rescued earlier Friday by the Venezuelan police in the mountain regions of Venezuela. Venezuela is a dangerous place, and surprisingly this is the first known kidnapping of a major league baseball player in the country.
According to sources, the kidnappers were holding him and going to ask for a lot of cash. He did not seem to mean anything to the kidnappers, other than monetary wise. The group who kidnapped Ramos is thought to be a paramilitary group, and are linked to known kidnappings around the country and Columbia. There have since been arrests in the case, and five men are now being held in police custody.
Had Ramos been killed, it would have been a drastic loss to the team as a whole. Ramos is a key player in the future of the Washington Nationals franchise. He will be the next “big hit” that the Nationals make after Ivan Rodriguez retires or gets traded from the Washington Nationals. Had the fate of Ramos been different the team would have not only lost an important member of their team, but would have had to find another player with the same standards as Ramos, which is not the easiest to do.
For every baseball team the coaching staff is the glue that holds the team together. There are many different coaches that are assigned to the coaching staff, all are under the head coach, Davey Johnson. He replaced Jim Riggleman following his sudden June 23, 2011 resignation on June 25, 2011. Jim Riggleman Resigned for numerous reasons, citing that the team did not do anything about his contract in a timely manner (aka the end of the June 23 baseball game) so he was fed up and decided to resign, instead of re-sign. (http://www.federalbaseball.com/2011/6/23/2239994/washington-nationals-jim-riggleman-resigns-following-nationals-win).
Each manager has a specific role on the team. There are pitching coaches, hitting coaches, bench coaches, first base coach, third base coach, bullpen coach, the strength and conditioning coach, and the rehabilitation coach. Each of these people play an integral part in the team’s development and how well they thrive together. Not many people really realize that each coach has a purpose, even though it may appear otherwise.
The job of the pitching coach is to help the pitchers develop their throw and work on movement and different pitches. He also tells the manager how the pitchers are developing and weather or not they are able to pitch in the upcoming games. The pitching coach is also the coach that frequents the mound to tell the pitcher how to pitch to a specific batter, or work on his mechanics. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coach_%28baseball%29#Bench_coach)
The role of the hitting coach is just like it sounds to work on the mechanics and style of how a player bats. He helps the players improve their swing and work with them through the use of video. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coach_%28baseball%29#Bench_coach)
The role of the base coaches are to direct the base runners. tell the base runner when to steal a base through signals, and prevent getting picked off. The third base coach holds more responsibility than the first base coach because the third base coach is responsible for second base as well as determining if the running has enough time to score from third base without getting tagged out.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coach_%28baseball%29#Bench_coach
The role of the bullpen coach is also pretty obvious, he is the coach that is in the bullpen that works with relief pitchers. That is the only difference between pitching coaches and the bullpen coach. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coach_%28baseball%29#Bench_coach)
Finally the strength and conditioning coach and the rehabilitation coach have similar jobs. The strength and conditioning coach is the coach that deals with plays that are out of rehab in order to build back their strength to play. Sometimes the two coaches work together in order to help the player recover faster. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coach_%28baseball%29#Bench_coach)
Since the Washington Nationals have been in Washington, DC they have morphed into a team that could potentially be a playoff contender in the coming 2012 season. They have made successful managerial changes as well as successful trades and player acquisitions.
Washington has not been a town with bandwagon fans (except for the Capitals Hockey Team due to their continued success in recent years), but is beginning to attract more fans. In our class we discussed fans and the idea of fandom. In my opinion the fans and the support that the Washington Nationals receive at home adds to their success as a team, as it would for any other team. So many of the fans of the Nationals were from the days when the Washington Senators were successful in the 1950s.
Through the use of successful fans, a manager that is more in-tune with his players and players that actually want to be successful is what is going to lead the Nationals to the potential of a spot in the 2012 playoffs. The return of Strasburg and Zimmerman as starting pitchers as well as the return of Zimmerman, Nix, LaRoche, Morse, Desmond and Ramos add to their success. Without these key players (Bryce Harper will come up in September when they are allowed to have more than the 40 man roster). Since being in Washington these players have developed before our eyes and gaining a peak interest among the MLB. Assuming everything goes according to plan, the Nationals should be continuing to succeed in baseball and attract those bandwagon fans.
As many people know, the top round draft pick of the 2010 season was Bryce Harper. Bryce Harper is an 18 year old prodigy that Washington Nationals acquired from Las Vegas, NV. Harper played Junior College Ball, and during his last game he was ejected and sentenced to a two game suspension, which was the culmination of his non professional career.(Cite: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryce_Harper)
Harper was introduced by the Washington Nationals on August, 26, 2010 wearing the number 34. He picked his number because he said “I always loved Mickey Mantle, three and four equals seven”. Mantle wore number seven. (cite: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryce_Harper).
Harper has been a very successful draft pick for the Washington Nationals the year after the acquired Stephen Strasburg. Many people argue that at his young age he is not mature enough for some of the responsibilities of being a major league baseball player. Being a major league baseball player requires that a person be a responsible, mature adult and a role model for young children, who one day hope to be in the same position as their favorite player. When I was a little kid, I remember always wanting to be a baseball player. This was of course before my dad had to break my heart and tell me that no girl has ever made it to the major leagues (this was almost as heart breaking as telling me that Santa was not real). Harper has not always displayed the most responsible actions. For example, earlier this season he was ejected from a game for getting in an argument with one of the umpires over a call and acting foolish instead of just taking the call and walking away.
It is known that he has a very large temper. His anger issues have gotten him in trouble before not only with the high school and college leagues but in the A and AA leagues as well. Had it not been for his injury he probably would have been ejected another time for his anger and disagreements. I was fortunate enough to see him play and watch his progression as a player on the field. Weather or not he will be able to contain his temper off the field and act like a mature adult has yet to be seen. His attitude will hopefully progress to the mature adult the Nationals expect him to be. Bryce Harper
One of the reasons the Washington Nationals chose Bryce Harper as their top draft pick is his ability to be a power hitter and a diverse player. In high school in Las Vegas, NV he played as a catcher, but for the Washington Nationals he will play as an outfielder. Back in 2009, there was the High School Power Showcase where Bryce Harper hit a 502 foot home run, which is the farthest ball ever hit in Tropicana Field. The YouTube video below is of that 502 foot home run.
My first post was about how Stephen Strasburg has struggled and overcame his challenges with Tommy John’s surgery. Now I am going to focus on Jordan Zimmerman’s experience with the surgery.
Jordan Zimmerman, a successful 23 year old pitcher at the time claimed he was experiencing a tightness, which is a common symptom of tommy john’s disease. (cite: http://www.federalbaseball.com/2009/8/10/984608/jordan-zimmermann-+-tommy-john). He was scheduled to miss roughly 18 months of the season. Because he had the surgery at such a young age and the recovery period was not that long of a time, he was able to have his whole career still in front of him.
He returned in full for this season. There were no issues until the end of the season where fans noticed he was getting tired after four or five innings. I went to a game in July and he started to get sloppy with his pitching around the fifth inning. It looked as if he was tired. Even though this is how long pitchers normally stay in, he was throwing sporadically. A person does not really fully recover from this surgery until he has the full range of motion for a continued period of time where he is able to return to his full potential.
Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg and the backbone of the Nationals bullpen. With both of them now returned and healthy the Nationals are on the upward trend. Their records have gotten better and both pitchers have made progress. His last start of the season was on August 28 (due to his continued recovery from Tommy John’s Surgery), against the Cincinati Reds, making his current ERA 3.14 for the season. (cite: http://www.rotoworld.com/player/mlb/5511/player?r=1). His ERA before his surgery was 4.63 (cite: http://www.rotoworld.com/player/mlb/5511/player?r=1). Which means his stats have gotten better due to the surgery.
Over the next several years we will see the Nationals develop into a team that is successful (hopefully) if they continue in the direction they are headed. Having healthy players and decent players contribute to the success of the ball club. Even though Zimmerman’s record was not very good this year, he will improve every year as he fully regains the strength in his pitching arm.
The Washington National’s phoneme pitcher that was brought to the major leagues in June of 2010 is Stephen Strasburg. Stephen Strasburg is known for his accuracy at extremely high speeds (up to 102 miles per hour). On a Tuesday night in early August, Strasburg said something did not feel right as he was warming up for a game. I was extremely excited for this baseball game because it was the first game I was able to go and watch Strasburg pitch. All of his other games I was not able to go to or were sold out due to his popularity. As the Nationals were taking the field the announcer said that there was a last minute change in the schedule and Strasburg would not be pitching because he was not feeling well. The stadium was packed because many people still had not seen this phnome pitch in person. The entire stadium was furious and booed the replacement starting pitcher, Llevan Hernandez.
Later that week in the sports section of the Washington Post, there was an article about how Strasburg had been diagnosed with Tommy John Disease. I had no idea what this was exactly, so I did some research of my own. All I knew was that another Washington National’s pitcher, Jordan Zimmerman was on the road to recovery from having the same problem.
Tommy John Surgery (ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction) is a procedure where a ligament in the medial elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. The most likely locations for a tendon to be taken from are the knee, the forearm or the foot. The surgery is most commonly associated with baseball as a procedure done to pitchers. This surgery would be the only hope if Strasburg wanted to continue to pitch in the major leagues.
The rehabilitation process associated with this procedure is roughly a year for pitchers. It took Strasburg around thirteen months with constant rehab and practice pitching. Some orthopedists say that the surgery can cause the pitcher to pitch with more speed than before because their elbow is now fully supported.
Strasburg has successfully returned to the major leagues earlier this month, some say with even more fame now that his rehabilitation process is finished. They have him on a limited number of innings he is allowed to pitch (roughly 100) for the remainder of the season so he does not risk injuring himself again or regressing in the rehabilitation process.
The article from the Washington Post Article: