2 GUYS TALKING: The Nationals, Braves, and the Surprising NL East

Davey Johnson NationalsMike:

The Mets head to Washington tonight for four games with the Nationals. The Nats are wounded badly, at 49-53, and they are fading out of the playoff picture. The hitting coach, Eckstein, just got fired. Davey needed to issue a statement that he is not quitting. Not exactly what was expected from them.

Jimmy:

One of our themes this blogging season is summed up in the phrase, “You never know,” uttered by Mariano Rivera to dopey Jeff Wilpon as he was conceding the season back in June. The point is, “You never know” works for both ways. There are no sure things in either direction.

Mike:

It puts a bright light on their decision to shut down Strasberg last year. On one hand it was admirable putting the long-term health of the player ahead of winning a championship. But it was hard last year not to sense an arrogance coming from their GM Rizzo about that decision. They had Harper and Strasberg, the mentality kept smelling of “We will just wait a year,” like it was a given that the team would contend for years. I never bought that. I’ve lived through too much baseball, that was the mentality around here when Doc and Darryl were kids and again when it was with young Wright, Reyes, and Beltran. Stuff can happen, and when the ring is in sight you need to go for it.

Jimmy:

Oh yes, that’s the word: arrogance. Rizzo was dripping with it. I am a big advocate of the win-now perspective. In 2007 and 2008, for example, the Mets were thisclose to the WS (they’ve won it exactly twice in team history, btw), yet the front office would never go the extra yard. It’s the downside of the oft-told Wilpon goal, “meaningful games in September.” Fred has never talked about dominance, about being the absolute best. Historically, even when the Mets have championship potential, Fred just wants to be in the hunt. And at that point, you hope.

Mike:

Didn’t go the extra yard? You forgot about Luis Ayala. Can’t say I blame you, I would like to forget him too.

Jimmy:

HeywardHey, I have to change the subject. I went to the Monday night game against the Braves with my 14-year-old. All game long I was thinking, these Braves aren’t that good. The Uptons are weird, and Uggla can’t break .200. Ike Davis hit a gift double to LF thanks to slow-footed, lumbering Evan Gattis out there. Gattis is a catcher, but the bat plays so  they are trying to squeeze him into the outfield now that McCann is healthy. Anyway, I had flashes of Lucas Duda. Gattis might not walk like Lucas, but he slugs a shit-ton, 15 HRs in under 200 ABs. It’s that same old mathematical equation, offense divided by defense, divided by team needs. Anyway, BJ Upton was out hurt, so the entire game I kept looking at 240-pound Justin Heywood filling in at CF. I was thinking, “At some point in this game, we will exploit this weakness.” I know Heywood is a Gold Glove RF, but CF is a different story; it requires speed. Of course, as you know, Heywood lays out to end the game with a sensational catch. I don’t remember seeing that before. Three last asides: 1) Teheran looked fabulous, getting swings-and-misses on 73 MPH off-speed stuff, coupled with a real good fastball; 2) Freddie Freeman is becoming one of my favorite players, he’s awesome; and 3) David Wright really doesn’t like hitting against Jordan Walden. I can’t say I blame him.

Mike:

As for those Braves, I took in Wheelers start Thursday and Gattis stood out to me as well. There were a number of doubles down the line that he was nowhere near. Citi Field is not the park to try to hide an outfielder. The Braves have been winning despite themselves all year, and now Hudson is down and out. Before this year began, the consensus was that the NL East was going to be a rough and tough division, now it’s a very safe bet neither Wild Card comes from the East.

That Mariano, he knows stuff.

Jimmy:

He does. We should give him a gift or something. You still have a copy of the Matt Franco single? We could send him that. Of course, you might want to upgrade from VHS to DVD.

 

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5 comments

  1. Notice that the Mets are now tied with the Phils and the Nats in the lost column? Wow, who would have predicted that back on April 1st?

    • Michael Geus says:

      I suspected the Phillies could have had real issues, but I did not see the Nationals struggling like this.

  2. James Preller says:

    Interesting, too, that Rizzo is saying that he will stand pat.

  3. IB says:

    Freeman is awesome? One of your favorite players? Argghhh!
    Blaspheme!

    Kidding aside, I just saw the Nats boxscore from last night. They blew a 4 run lead in the 9th. Something aint right in DC…and I like it.

    • Hey, don’t tell anyone, but I really, really liked Chipper Jones, too. How’s that for blaspheme? Freeman — besides just being really, really good — does this thing every time he misses a pitch. He’ll foul back a fastball and the expression on his face is priceless. He’s pissed off at himself, CAN’T BELIEVE HE MISSED THAT F’ING PITCH, and you can see him berating himself as he steps out of the batter’s box. When he steps back in, though, watch out. He’s Harvey-esque that way, high expectations.

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