Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Caps Re-Sign Laich

A team source reports today that the Washington Capitals have signed Brooks Laich to a six year $27 million dollar extension. This deal came not a minute too soon. In just three day Laich was set to test the free agency pool. The official announcement is set for sometime today.

The Capitals acquired Laich in 2004 in a deal with the Ottawa Senators. In seven seasons with the Capitals Laich has raked up 237 total points. Last season he tallied 16 goals with 32 assists. Laich has proven reliable as he has played in at least 73 games in each of the last six seasons.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Caps Could Lose Goaltender

CSNWashington.com reported today that Washington Capitals goaltender Semyon Varlamov is unlikely to return to the team next season.

The Capitals have issued a qualifying contract which retains his rights but also gives the club the ability to match any contract offer made by another NHL team. Varlamov has also talked about going back to play in the KHL in Russia. If the goaltender does go to Russia, the Capitals will receive no compensation.

Should Varlamov leave, the Capitals have two proven goalies that could step in. Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth are two excellent players between the pipes. Hotlby went 10-2-2 last season with a GAA of 1.79. Neuvirth was just as effective going 27-12-4 with a GAA of 2.45. Neuvirth, however, struggled in the postseason going 4-5 with a 2.34 GAA.

This comes as a surprise from Semyon Varlamov as just earlier this month the 23 year old Varlamov expressed interest in staying in Washington D.C. next season.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

NHL Entry Level Draft Review

This past Friday and Saturday the Washington Capitals acquired five new players. One via a trade and four by selection in the draft.

On Friday night the Capitals traded away their first round pick to Chicago for RW Troy Brouwer. On Saturday, the Caps would use all their picks.

The Caps next pick did not come until the fourth round. With the 117th pick in the draft the team selected a goaltender: Stephen Soberg. Soberg, from Norway, was named one of Norways top 3 players at the U-18 Championships. He posted a 3.90 GAA and a .931 save percentage in six games. In 27 games in Norways premier hockey league, Soberg had a 4.17 GAA with an .884 save percentage.

In the fifth round the Capitals selected D Patrick Koudys. Koudys has just recently finished his freshman season at Rensselaer in the Eastern College Athletic Conference of the NCAA. He played 32 games and had 1 goal, two assists, and 14 penalty minutes.

With their sixth round pick the Caps chose C Travis Boyd. With the US National Development team he recorded 18 points (5 goals, 13 assists) in 24 games. Boyd will attend the University of Minnesota this fall.

In the seventh round the Captials picked D Garret Haar. In 51 games in the US Hockey League Haar had 23 points (7 goals, 16 assists).

What's next for the Capitals new players? On July 10-16 the 4 draftees will attend the Capitals Prospect Development Camp at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Capitals Acquire Right Wing

In a trade last night at the NHL Draft, the Washington Capitals acquired right wing Troy Brouwer from the Chicago Blackhawks. In return for Brouwer, the Blackhawks got the 26th overall pick in the draft.

Last season Brouwer had 17 goals with 19 assists to score 36 points in 79 regular season games. The right wing was fifth in the NHL with 262 hits. Brouwer also had 5 game winning goals.

“I’m very excited to join the Washington Capitals organization,” said Brouwer. “They are consistently one of the top teams in the NHL and I look forward to helping them reach the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup.”

Quote from Washington Capitals website.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Johnson In as Nats Manager

MLB.com confirmed the story, originally broken by ESPN.com, that Davey Johnson is the new manager for the Washington Nationals.

Johnson originally started his MLB career with the Balitmore Orioles. As the starting second baseman, he helped the club win 4 American League pennants and 2 World Series titles between 1965 and 1972. Johnson also played for the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Chicago Cubs.

Johnson began his major league managerial career with the New York Mets from 1984 to 1990. In each of his first five seasons with the franchise he won 90 games or more. In '86 he led the Mets to a World Series championship. He next managed the Cinncinatti Reds from 1993 to 1995. Again, he turned the franchise into a winner. In 1995 he guided the club to its first NL Central title. He then went on to manage the Orioles (1996-1997) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (1999-2000). Johnson led the Orioles to the playoffs in '97 and also the American League East title. With the Dodgers, however, Johnson finished his first season 8 games below .500. The next season the Dodgers came back to finish second in the division but it was still not enough to keep Johnson around as their manager.

It's been eleven years since Johnson last managed an MLB team. He inherits a very young roster that has promising talent already on it. Johnson will also acquire one of the best farm systems in the MLB. With the likes of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in his back pocket for next season. The team has a great rhythm currently to its season. Hopefully the transition between managers will swift and painless for a franchise that is on a roll.

Wang to Class A Hagerstown

MLB.com reports that Nationals pitcher Chien-Ming Wang will have a rehab start with Class A Hagerstown on Monday. The start will be the first of any kind for pitcher since joining the D.C. franchise in 2009. Wang has been troubled by a shoulder injury that has been with him since joining the team.

NBA Draft Review

Tonight the Wizards were able to draft smart and filled some glaring holes in their roster.

With the sixth pick in the draft the Wizards selected Jan Vesely. Vesely (pictured above) is a monstrous small forward standing tall at 6 feet 11 inches and weighing in at 240 pounds. Vesely is also from the Czech Republic. While his numbers may not show much, Vesely is a very athletic forward that can defend well and can cut to the paint on offense effectively.

With the 18th pick in the draft the Wizards selected Chris Singleton. Singleton played small forward for the Florida State Seminoles. Singleton is a very athletic small forward. Once he takes it to the paint he is likely to get either get sent to the free throw line or make an off-balance shot. Great wingspan also allows him to be effective defensively by blocking shots.

With the 34th pick in the draft the Wizards selected Shelvin Mack. Mack played point guard for the Butler Bulldogs. I got a chance to see Mack in person during the NCAA Tournament this past March. I liked what I saw. Mack was able to take over the game against Pittsburgh. He simply put the team on his shoulders and never looked back. Mack is able to jack up threes from all around the arch and most likely he will make them all. He is a clutch shooter. Great athleticism and skill also makes him tough on the defensive end, too. While he won't start over John Wall, Shelvin Mack has the qualities to make an impact for the Wizards.

Two small forwards and a point guard. The Wizards were able to help themselves out on the perimeter while also adding depth. This season the Wizards will be one of the youngest teams in the league. The owner and coaches are building this team the right way: through the draft and trading for young and promising talent. Look for the Washington Wizards to be tough in years to come.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Riggleman Out As Nats Manager

Just minutes after the Nationals complete a three game sweep of the Mariners, manager Jim Riggleman resigns as Nationals manager.

In a brief write up by the Washington Post, all Riggleman wanted was for the clubs management to pick his option for 2012. Riggleman expressed his want and desire to manage the Nationals. All he wanted was for his option to be resolved.

“Jim told me pregame today that if we wouldn’t pick up his [contract] option that he wouldn’t get on the team bus today,” Rizzo said at a news conference after the Nationals defeated the Seattle Mariners.

Quote from Washington Post website

Break Out The Brooms!

The Washington Nationals completed the three game sweep of the Seattle Mariners today with a dramatic 1-0 victory. While pitcher Jason Marquis gave the Nats 8 solid innings, it would be reliever Tyle Clippard that would pick up the win.

Jason Marquis entered the sixth inning with a no hitter. One out into the inning, however, Mariners pitcher Michael Pineda broke it up with a single that blooped into center field.

Both teams had runners in scoring position multiple times. The Nationals even had the bases loaded with one out and Pineda managed to strike two consecutive Nats to keep the game a 0-0 tie.

The 0-0 tie lasted all the way to the ninth inning. Reliever Tyler Clippard took the mound for the Nationals and was near perfect. Clippard allowed only one hit which was a double. The runner would stay at second, however, as Clippard got out the remaining hitters.

Michael Morse led off the bottom of the inning with a single into left field. Danny Espinosa then bunted and was safe at first and moved pinch runner Bixley over to second. Pudge Rodriguez then came in and again executed a perfect bunt to send Bixley to third, Espinosa to second, and himself to first. Enter pinch hitter Laynce Nix.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Laynce Nix popped a fly out to left field. Espinosa tagged at third and came home for the dramatic game winning run.

The Nationals go on the road for their next two series. They take on the Chicago White Sox before playing the Angels. The Nats then return home for a series against the Pirates.

Nix Could Return Tomorrow

The Washington Nationals website has reported that outfielder Laynce Nix could see some action in the  coming days for the ball club. Nationals manager Jim Riggleman will most likely use Nix as a designated hitter.

The Nationals go on the road for the next six games. They first head up to Chicago to play the White Sox and then to Anheim for a three game showdown with the Angels.

Captials Get Honored

NHL.com has officially announced the 2010-2011 NHL All Rookie and All Star Teams. There are Capitals on both squads.

Defense man John Carlson was named to the All Rookie Team. Carlson tied a franchise record for most points by a rookie defense men in one season with 37. He also finished with a rating of +21. Carlson appeared in all 82 games and averaged 22 minutes per game.

Left Wing Alex Ovechkin was named to the Second Team NHL All Star Team. This is the sixth time Ovechkin has earned a spot on a post season All Star Team. The winger was named to the First Team All Star Team in each of his first five seasons.

NBA Draft

Tonight at 7:30 in beautiful New Jersey is the NBA Draft. This year the Wizards have the 6th, 18th, and 34th picks in the draft. As of late, they show no signs of changing that.

The Wizards have worked out a number of forwards and centers this year. With there not being many NBA-ready players after the first two picks, the Wizards should look to draft a quality big-man that can assist Javale McGee down low with rebounding and scoring.

Two players that should be available at the sixth spot are Jonas Valanciunas and Kawhi Leonard. While Valanciunas is a true center, Kawhi Leonard is a tough power forward that can get the job done in the paint. I think the Wizards will pick Valanciunas.

While the beginning of the season will be tough, the Wizards are going to need the 7 foot 230 pound Lithuanian to hold strong down low against the likes of Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh.

While many things can happen on draft day (trades, surprises, etc.) look for the Wizards to draft a big man with their first pick.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back at .500

With tonight's 2-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners, the Washington Nationals improve to a record of 37-37. I know, it's not impressive, but at least they are there. This is the first time since May 11 that the club is at .500.

The Nationals were out pitched tonight as Mariners pitcher Erik Bedard K'd 10 Nats hitters. The Nationals, however, took advantage of Seattles miscues.

In the bottom of the first Michael Morse hit what should have been a routine ground out to the third baseman. It wasn't and Morse reached first base with 2 outs and Ryan Zimmerman now on second. Enter Danny Espinosa. Espinosa then laced one into center field and brought Zimmerman around to score the first run of the game. Espinosa was not finished, however.

In the bottom of the fourth, Espinosa singled. He then advanced all the way to third base on a wild pitch from Bedard and throwing error by catcher Miguel Olivo. Jerry Hairston stepped up two batters later and singled to bring Espinosa in for the go-ahead run.

Nationals pitcher Jon Lannan didn't have a career day, but he did enough. He pitched through 5 2/3 innings giving up only one run, three hits, and striking out three. Drew Storen then came in a pitched a beautiful ninth inning to get his 18th save.

The Nationals now find themselves 5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the wild card spot. While their upcoming schedule doesn't have many marquee games, it is important that they get through then next month of games with the same success that they've had.

The Nationals are finding ways to win ball games as of late. Whether it's a dramatic ninth inning comeback or capitalizing on the other teams mistakes, the Nationals are simply getting done. Keep an eye on them, you just never know who will be in the hunt come October.

Nix, Kimball Out

MLB.com reported last night that Nationals outfielder Laynce Nix and reliever Cole Kimball will both be taken out of the clubs line-up for at least a few days.

Nix, one of the clubs most valuable bench players this past month, said his Achilles has been bothering for the past couple of months. However, as Tuesday nights game progressed, so did the pain in his Achilles. The Nationals have listed him as day-to-day and Nix will not play Wednesday night against the Seattle Mariners.

Reliever Cole Kimball has also suffered a set back. Kimball has been on the DL since June 10 due to inflammation in his right shoulder. While throwing on flat ground yesterday Kimball said his shoulder started to hurt again. Kimball is not allowed to throw again for next two weeks.

Tonight that Nationals take on the Seattle Mariners at 7:05 in Washington, D.C. John Lannan (4-5 3.52 era) will go against Erik Bedard (4-4 3.16 era) on the mound. With a win tonight, the Nationals will improve to .500 for the season. Their record currently sits at 36-37.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wizards Eye Draft Prospects

The Washington Post reported that the Washington Wizards have worked out Enes Kanter, Jan Vesely, Jonas Valanciunas, Kawhi Leonard, and Tristan Thompson. What do all these players have in common? They are all forwards.

The Wizards, similar to last year, know exactly what they want. They are simply looking for help down low. Somebody that can come up and set screens for John Wall or Jordan Crawford and then roll to the basket to get the rebound and the put back. JaVale McGee is tough, but there is only one of him.

The Wizards plan on keeping their pick in this years draft, sixth, instead of trading it away. The top two picks in the draft will most likely be Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams. This will insure that the Wizards will get one of the top forwards in this years draft.

The Wizards aren't showing any signs of who they want, but definitely look for the them to select a forward on draft day.

Preseason Schedule Out For Capitals

While there may not be football this fall, there will be hockey. The Washington Capitals website has confirmed the release of the preseason schedule for the Washington Capitals. Preseason will begin September 20 against Nashville.

The complete seven game preseason will go like this:
  1. Tuesday, Sept 20 vs Nashville
  2. Wednesday, Sept 21 at Columbus
  3. Friday, Sept 23 at Chicago
  4. Monday, Sept 26 vs Columbus
  5. Wednesday, Sept 28 at Nashville
  6. Friday, Sept 30 vs Buffalo
  7. Sunday, Oct 2 vs Chicago
This past season the Capitals went 5-1-0 in the preseason and are 140-112-29-9 all time. While preseason games don't mean much, they are a great preview of the toughness of the team. They will also show which players are for real and which players are there just to be on the team. Look for the regular faces to shine through with limited playing time, however. This is a chance for lesser known players to stand out.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wizards Extends Contracts

ESPN.com reports that the Washington Wizards have picked up contract options on numerous players as well extended offers to other current members of the team.

The Wizards have picked up the third year option on the rookie contracts for John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Trevor Booker, and Kevin Seraphin. This means that these players are now under 3 year contracts.

The Wizards have also extended qualifying offers to restricted free agents Nick Young, Othyus Jeffers, Hamady Ndiaye, and Larry Owens. Since the Wizards have made qualifying offers they can now refuse any contracts the players may sign after there is a new labor agreement.

Gorzelanny To Start for Nationals

After spending 3 weeks on the disabled list, MLB.com says that Nationals pitchers Tim Gorzelanny will start tomorrow against the Baltimore Orioles. The Nationals will go for their 3rd straight sweep and their 9th straight win. The team is currently the hottest team in baseball.

Manager Jim Riggleman will ease Gorzelanny back into the rotation. He is only expected to pitch 5-6 innings or up to 90 pitches. Riggleman is taking a passive approach at bringing back one of his aces. "Depending on how things are in the bullpen and how rested we are," said manager Jim Riggleman, "if we are fortunate to get five or six innings, 90 pitches, that would be a pretty good workload for [Gorzelanny]."

The streaking Nationals look to keep the magic alive tomorrow afternoon at 1:35. They will be going for their 3rd straight sweep and 9th straight victory.

Caps Re-Sign Goaltender

The Washington Capitals website stated that the franchise has re-signed goaltender Dany Sabourin. The financial terms of the deal have not been released. The deal is for one year.

Sabourin spent this past season with the Hershey Bears. He finished the season with a record of 14-9-0 with a 2.45 GAA and a .908 save percentage in 23 appearances. Sabourin also recorded 2 shutouts.

Sabourin is an 11 year veteran of the NHL and has played for Calgary, Pittsburgh, and Vancouver.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

6 Games and Counting...

After tonight's walk-off sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals the Nationals are now on a six game winning streak.

In the late stages of the game the bullpen allowed 2 runs in the 8th and 9th innings. In the top of the 10th pitcher Sean Burnett was lights out against Colby Rasmus, Albert Pujols, and Lance Berkman. Burnett only allowed one base-runner that inning with Matt Holiday. In the bottom of the 10th inning Danny Espinoza hit a 3-run home run into the right field stands.

The club currently sits 10.5 games back of the first place Philadelphia Phillies. 

The Nationals will put their 6 game winning streak on the line tomorrow night at Nats Park against the Baltimore Orioles. Jason Marquis (7-2 3.67 era) will face Zach Britton (6-4 3.18 era) on the mound. Tune in tomorrow night at 7 as the Washington Nationals battle the Baltimore Orioles in the classic "Battle of the Beltway".

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pryor Leaves OSU

The Ohio State University quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, has left the Buckeyes program based on advice from his lawyer. His career at OSU is over.

This past year Pryor violated NCAA rules by selling memorabilia in return for tattoos. Pryors punishment was to miss the first 5 games of the upcoming season.

"In the best interest of my team, I have decided to forgo my senior year of football at The Ohio State University," stated his lawyer Larry James.

This is just another chapter in the saga that is the fall of the OSU football program. A week ago the schools best coach since Woody Hayes resigned on allegations that he lied about his knowledge of his players selling memorabilia in return for tattoos.

Quote from Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Welcome to the Bigs, Rookie"

Pretty soon that's what Bryce Harper is going to be hearing from opposing pitchers. Just last night Harper went yard in for Class A Hagerstown Suns. As he rounded third base and headed for home he blew a kiss to the pitcher.

Not only did he immaturely blow a kiss at the opposing pitcher, but Hagerstown lost the game 3-2 to Greensboro. They didn't even win. If that was a walk off homer to win the game then he can blow all the kisses he wants. He can even blow a kiss at me for all I care. But if your big fly didn't even help the team win, keep your lips to yourself.

How does that make him look? Sure, he hit a home run, for Class A Hagerstown. He's not even going up against top competition in the minor leagues. Harper is hitting .342 with 14 home runs for Class A Hagerstown. So he's not just wasting his time on the team. But that's not the first time he's hit a home run.

Harper can't go to the bigs until he matures. Some sources say he has had a history of immature behavior in the minor leagues. When Harper does mature enough to move into the bigs, he better be ready to struggle. Big league pitchers are a little bit better than Class A pitchers.