Friday, May 25, 2012

Nats Injury Update

The Washington Nationals have recently updated three players on their injury list. Brad Lidge, Michael Morse, and Mark DeRosa are all making strides in their journeys back to the playing field.

Outfielder Michael Morse will participate in his first extended spring training game since Aprill 11th when he was shut down for six weeks following a torn lat muscle.

Morse is expected to return by June 8th. However, the Nationals are very confident that Morse will return before then. He has been participating in hitting and throwing drills daily and the trainers are pleased with his progress.

For the first time since May 1st, closer Brad Lidge threw off of a mound on Wednesday. Lidge has been sidelined with a sports hernia which he had surgery on to repair.

According to Lidge, he is expected to return June 12th or 13th.

Finally, do-it-aller Mark DeRosa has been slowed by a strained oblique muscle as well as family concerns.

DeRosa has been balancing spending time with his family and rehab and is hoping to return to Viera, Florida to begin rehab soon.

Keep DeRosa in your thoughts. His father has been diagnosed with cancer and he has been trying to balance rehab with family time.

While many of us only see the baseball player on the field, they do have a personally life that can get quite difficult especially when a loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness.

UPDATE: According to multiple sources, Michael Morse will be starting his minor league rehab this Monday with the Class A Potomac Nationals.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Super Court: NFL vs NFLPA

Roger Goodell, left, and DeMaurice Smith, right, are once again in a legal battle. (Photo:
Welcome to Super Court! In today's case, we have the NFL Players Association versus the NFL!
The NFLPA is claiming that the NFL and the owners went behind their back in 2010 and created a secret salary cap during an uncapped year.

Let's do a little recap...shall we?

Back in March, the Redskins and the Cowboys were both handed salary cap reductions that added up to be $46 million for overloading contracts during the 2010 uncapped NFL year. The Redskins lost $36 million over the next two years and the Cowboys have lost $10 million over the same period.

Yesterday, the Redskins and Cowboys appeals were heard by an arbitrator that went on to throw out both claims and in doing so let the ruling and the penalties stand.

Today, the NFLPA filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the owners stating that they had a secret salary cap in place for the 2010 NFL season. Originally, that year is believed to been an uncapped year. Today, however, the NFLPA claims that the owners and the NFL had a secret cap of $123 million.

The biggest problem with this is the fact the owners and the NFL went beyond the restrictions with the NFLPA. 2010 was supposed to be an uncapped year. Instead, without letting the NFLPA know, the NFL and the owners instituted a salary cap of $123 million.

The lawsuit is for collusion and conspiracy against the NFL and the owners for the secret cap of 2010. The NFLPA is looking for $1-3 billion in damages.

The timing of this directly correlates to the decision to uphold to rulings to the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys. If 2010 was truly an uncapped year, there should have been no penalties handed down to them due to a salary cap violation.

When the violations were first issued back in March, the two franchises were essentially cited for spending too much money. If there was no limit on the money they could did they spend too much?

At the time when the NFL handed down the violations, the NFLPA first learned that there might have been something fishy with the salary cap of the 2010 year. They waited and once the NFL upheld their ruling yesterday, they attacked.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello threw another loop in this already tangled mess with the following statement.
"The filing of these claims is prohibited by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and separately by an agreement signed by the players' attorneys last August. The claims have absolutely no merit and we fully expect them to be dismissed."
I'm no CBA expert, but if what he said is true, the NFLPA has no leg to stand on. Aiello basically told the NFLPA that, even if these claims are true, filing a lawsuit about them is against the CBA.

There are a lot of signs that point to the NFLPA actually making a case for a secret 2010 salary cap. The NFL tipped it's hand when the NFL...and the owners...cited the Redskins and the Cowboys for overspending during the 2010 "uncapped" year. If it was uncapped, the Redskins and Cowboys never should have gotten in trouble.

However, after hearing Aiello's statement, I see no reason how the NFLPA can come out on top in this one. There are two written documents stating that what they are doing is against the CBA and will be dismissed shortly.

Redskins, Cowboys Lose in Arbitration

Yesterday, the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys appeals of their salary-cap penalties were dismissed by special master Stephen Burbank.

A couple months ago, the Redskins and the Cowboys were both docked a sum of their salary caps due to overloading contracts in the uncapped 2010 year.

The NFL claimed that they verbally warned the Redskins and the Cowboys that doing so might result in some sort of penalty. According to all reports, a written statement was never issued to either team.

Neither the Redskins/Cowboys nor NFL won in this situation. Simply put, Burbank heard all sides and decided just to drop the whole mess and force everyone to move on.

Personally, I think the whole thing was organized chaos. Before the teams had even heard about the penalties, several media outlets had already reported of them. That's how the Redskins and Cowboys heard about them...through the media.

The fact that they were penalized for what could be labeled a "salary violation" in an uncapped year is ridiculous. In theory, teams should have been more than allowed the ability to load contracts like both sides did.

The NFL's argument to make their side safe was that they warned the teams that something bad could happen if they overloaded contracts. Nothing was ever submitted to either team in writing. If that's the case, no disciplinary action should have ever been taken.

Arguably the two best businessmen in the NFL, Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones, outsmarted the NFL. They took an uncapped year and designed contracts accordingly. The NFL got upset and took action to make sure that the league knew they weren't ever going to be outsmarted again.

Now that this whole mess is over with, it's time for both sides to look ahead and plan out their salary strategies around the cap penalties.

The Redskins have been docked a total of $36 million over the next two years and the Cowboys have lost $10 million over the same time period.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wang Activated

CSN Washington has reported this afternoon that Nationals pitcher Chien-Ming Wang has been activated from the DL and will be available for tonight's game against the Phillies. This move comes on the heels of the club sending reliever Ryan Mattheus to the 15-day DL due to a partial tear of his plantar fascia.

Mattheus has been bothered by this condition for a few weeks now. His foot has gotten so bad that he needed to see a specialist in Baltimore about it. According to the report, even if he needs surgery, he'll only be out for no more than two weeks.

Wang has been out of the majors since March 30th when he pulled his hamstring. Wang had an ERA of just over 4.00 throughout his starts in the minor leagues.

Tonight, he will take over an unfamiliar role. He will be used solely out of the bullpen. Since three days ago he started on the mound for AAA Syracuse, Wang will only pitch one inning if he is needed.

Don't expect Wang to get back in the starting rotation this season. Nationals manager Davey Johnson has stated before that he is not going to break up the majors best starting five. Wang will take on a long relief role and will be used incase someone gets the hook early in their start.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

What Are OTAs?

Yesterday, the Washington Redskins began their 10-day stretch of Organized Team Activities (OTAs). Which may lead many to think...what exactly are OTAs?

Organized Team Activities are basically the NFL's version of NCAA spring practice. For the next ten days, nine NFL teams, including the Redskins, will be implementing the early workings of their offenses and defenses.

Under the new CBA, there are restrictions and guidelines about how and when teams can practice.

As stated before, teams can only practice for ten straight days. Practices must be helmet only. Players are not allowed to wear shoulder/pant pads. And there are to be no full contact practices. It is strictly ten days of walk throughs and teaching.

OTAs are voluntary. Players and teams do not have to participate or conduct them. It is solely up to the coaches and ownership. Only nine teams are currently conducting OTAs.

For a team coming off of a bad season or that is in the rebuilding stage, OTAs can be very beneficial. It gives new players a chance to come in and get a leg up on the veterans that are not attending the practices. They will learn the playbook and even get reps with their new teammates.

For teams that are switching to a new defensive/offensive coordinator, this is also a chance for the players to begin to learn the new system. There is a lot of language and formations involved with each and every system and all are different. Learning them early will provide and added boost heading into training camp.

In the case of the Redskins, rookie Robert Griffin III has been declared the starting quarterback. The first time he ever saw the playbook was a few weeks ago. In the style of offense that the Redskins run, it is very complex and hard to learn just by reading the book.

For RG3, OTAs are an extremely important key to his success. If he focuses and takes them seriously, which he has, then when training camp arrives, he won't be making silly mistakes such as forgetting a signal and mistaking what a certain word or phrase means.

Organized Team Activities are an extremely important, and often underrated, part of the NFL year. A successful OTA program can ultimately lead to success in the regular season.

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Strasburg, Johnson Not Concerned

Following yesterday's game against the Orioles, a game in which Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg only went five innings, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said that Strasburg got the hook early due to arm tightness.

Johnson went on to say in the post-game press conference that he merely lifted him early just to be on the safe side. The Nationals had a lead and with the bullpen that the Nationals have, he had more than enough confidence turning it over to them.

Neither Johnson or Strasburg seemed too concerned about the tightness in his throwing arm. Johnson stated in the post-game press conference that it was his bicep that was experiencing the tightness.

I, too, don't see a reason to be concerned about Strasburg's bicep getting tight. If it was his elbow or forearm that was experiencing any sort of discomfort, then there would be cause for concern.

Tommy Johns Surgery is nowhere in the future of Stephen Strasburg. That kind of procedure is mainly used to repair damage to the tendons and ligaments of the elbow. What Strasburg is dealing with is a muscle.

It was getting close to time to pull Strasburg anyways. Strasburg was already up to 90 pitches after five innings. Just three times this year has he gone over 100 pitches in an outing. Usually, Strasburg goes around 85-95 pitches before getting the hook.

There really is no need for concern in D.C. Strasburg himself said after the game that bicep soreness was an expected experience following Tommy Johns surgery.

Five days from now, when Strasburg takes the hill again, expect him to be just as dominant as usual. If the Nationals want to be extra careful, they may push his start back one day. However, I don't think that will be necessary. Expect Strasburg to recover fully from this tightness in his right bicep.

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Morse To Start Rehab

Today, Nationals outfielder Michael Morse begins his rehab in Viera, Florida.

Morse is still recovering from a strained lat muscle in spring training that was eventually torn in a previous rehab game in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Viera is home to the clubs minor league headquarters. While he's there, he is expected to take a number of at-bats and take part in throwing drills regularly. He will not be immediately activated for minor league availability, however. But expect him to be activated within the next two weeks.

As we stand right now, Morse is expected to return June 8th. Nationals Manager Davey Johnson, however, is optimistic that he could return even sooner.

"I know he's chomping at the bit," Johnson said in an interview with Gene Wang of the Washington Post. Johnson went on to say that Morse was just looking for something that the medical staff would let him do.

Last season, Morse was one of the teams leading hitters the whole way through. He had a batting average of .303 with a slugging percentage of .550. He hit 31 home runs with 95 RBI.

The absence of Morse's bat has certainly been evident. The Nationals are near the bottom of the league in batting average with runners in scoring position. Adam LaRoche has been able to pick up some slack, but especially now that Jayson Werth is out, the Nationals need another big bat.

If everything goes according to plan, Michael Morse could return to the Nationals well before June 8th.

Before last Saturday's game against the Orioles, he was running around the outfield catching fly balls during pre-game batting practice. His arm looked strong as he had little trouble throwing the ball.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

The Beltway Battle!!

Ever since its origination in the 2006 season, the Beltway Battle is a rivalry that hasn't exactly taken center stage in Major League Baseball.

It's not as historic as the Yankees versus Red Sox. There haven't been near as many games as the Cubs versus Cardinals rivalry. And it is not nearly as dug into baseball lore as the Dodgers versus Giants rivalry.

This year, however, the Orioles and the Nationals have a chance to take their rivalry to a whole new level.

In years past, the Beltway Battle has been a contest between teams in or near the cellar of their respective divisions. The games were a cite for blunders, SportsCenter Not Top 10 highlights, and just bad baseball.

This year, the Beltway Battle features two teams at (or in the Nationals case NEAR) the top of their divisions. Both teams are also in the top six in the MLB standings. These two are separated by just 1.5 games in the overall MLB standings.

Many times this year, both teams have been featured highlights on SportsCenter...for good reasons.

The Beltway Battle actual has some meaning to it this year. With a sweep, it would catapult the Nationals into the second place spot just behind the Dodgers in the overall MLB standings. If the Orioles sweep, they could send themselves to the top spot for the entire league.

Currently, after 36 meetings, the Orioles hold the series lead 19-17. They have had the Nationals number throughout the six year history of the event. The O's have won the season series twice. The Nationals have won the season series once back in 2007.

This past season, the clubs split the season series 3-3. The most memorable game from last season came on May 20th when the Nationals clubbed the O's 17-5 with 19 hits.

Through the first six seasons this rivalry has not been a one sided affair. It has gotten more and more interesting as the seasons have gone on. Now, former Oriole second baseman, and current Nationals Manager, Davey Johnson is part of this mix. That extra element could end up sparking a long standing tradition in baseball history.

While the season is young, this weekend has a lot on the line for both teams. Depending on the outcome, there is a possibility for the series winner to be at the top of the MLB standings.

For both teams, however, this weekend is a chance to jump start this rivalry into one for the history books. This is their chance to make The Beltway Battle one that sticks with baseball historians for years to come.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Redskins Sign Robinson

Via their Twitter page this morning, the Washington Redskins announced the signing of inside linebacker and 2012 fourth round draft pick Keenan Robinson.

Robinson was a standout linebacker for the University of Texas. His junior year for the Longhorns was by far his best. He racked up 101 total tackles with two sacks, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions.

Robinson has experience playing both inside and outside linebacker. However, the Redskins drafted him with the idea of developing him to back up London Fletcher and Perry Riley at inside linebacker.

While terms of the deal are not known, fourth round draft picks of last years draft signed four-year deals worth around $2 million.

The Redskins now only have three draft picks left to sign. First round pick Robert Griffin III headlines the group followed by Josh LeRibeus and Kirk Cousins.

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LaRoche Hits 1000

Adam LaRoche had yet another night for the history books last night. Not only did he go 3-4 with one home run and four RBI, but he also got hit number 1,000 for his career.

Hit number 999 was a memorable one, as well. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth frame, LaRoche stepped to the plate and crushed one nearly 400 feet over the right field wall. Xavier Nady then sent the very next pitch 436 feet over the left field wall for back to back home runs.

In the top of the seventh inning, Pirates first baseman Josh Harrison hit a two-run home run to cut the lead to 4-3.

In the bottom of the seventh, with the bases loaded and two outs, LaRoche stepped back up to the plate looking for number 1,000.

He took the first pitch he saw into the right field corner for a bases clearing three RBI stand-up double. Following his stand-up double, LaRoche got a standing ovation from the home crowd.

LaRoche's three-RBI double would be the difference as the Nationals went on to win 7-4. Gio Gonzalez picked up his fifth win of the season and Henry Rodriguez was credited with his ninth save.

Adam LaRoche joins the likes of Pete Rose, Ty Cobbs, Cal Ripken, and Derek Jeter (just to name a few) of players to have amassed 1,000 hits throughout their careers. He's got a ways to go, however, if he ever wants to catch Pete Rose's ridiculous all-time mark of 4,256 career hits.

Many believe that Adam LaRoche is headed to the All-Star game and after the hot start that he has gotten off to this season, how can you blame them?

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Strasburg's Days Are Numbered

It's something that many know about, but try not to think about. It's something that, when it happens, will rock the Nationals organization to its core. It's something that, no matter what, is unavoidable.

Eventually, at some point this season, before the playoffs, Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg will be shut down for the season.

As part of his recovery from Tommy Johns surgery, surgery done to repair ligaments of the elbow, the Nationals put a cap of 160 innings on Stephen Strasburg's season. Strasburg is currently 48 innings into that 160. Many times this season, the Nationals organization have stated that they are sticking with their game plan no matter what.

It's a tough situation. If the Nationals continue their winning ways, at about the time when Strasburg's innings run out, the Nationals will be in the thick of the playoff race. Then what?

Hopefully, Chien-Ming Wang will return to form. Gio Gonzalez will step into the top starting role for the rotation and Ross Detwiler, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, and then Wang will follow in behind.

So now I propose this question: Should the Nationals leave in Strasburg if they are in the playoff hunt? My answer: No.

It would be a terrible decision to try to push that elbow. After the great care that the Nationals have taken to make sure that Strasburg returns just as good as the day he left to then watch them throw it all away? It would be a sad sight to see.

You have to look at from this angle: Do the Nationals want to be a playoff contender for years to come? If the Nationals are still in the playoff race that deep into the season, that is fantastic. Don't fans want to see them there year after year?

If so, then Strasburg has to be pulled after 160 innings. For the Nationals to be a playoff contender year after year, Strasburg must be part of the rotation. I know the thought of seeing them win it all this year is tempting, but, at some point we have to look beyond this year.

It's still early in the season. A lot can happen between now and whenever those 160 innings run out. The Nationals have already stated that Strasburg will not skip any starts in order to preserve his innings. Whenever they run out, they run out.

It's a day that can be startling to Nats fans everywhere. But, it's a day that's coming. If the Nationals want to contend year after year, they must stick to the game plan and respect the inning cap that has been placed on Stephen Strasburg.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Morse, Lidge Eye Returns

Two of the Nationals projected major contributors, Michael Morse and Brad Lidge, have failed to do just that this season...contribute.

Their lack of output from their respective positions can be easily accredited to one thing: injuries.

Since spring training, first baseman Michael Morse has been battling a torn left lat muscle that has kept him out of the majors all season long. In his first rehab game with the Hagerstown Suns, the injury prevented him from even finishing the game. As a result, the Nationals shut him down completely for six weeks to give him a chance to heal.

According to Bill Ladson of, Morse has begun his road to recovery. This past Tuesday, Morse hit from an indoor batting cage without any troubles. The team plans to have him hit and throw every other day.

As of right now, the Nationals are anticipating a June 8th return for the slugger. That day the Nats are in Boston taking on the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Since it is considered an American League game, Morse will serve as the designated hitter if he is ready to go.

According to, Nationals closer Brad Lidge has also begun his road to recovery. Back on May 1st, he underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia.

This past Monday, Lidge was able to throw off of flat ground on Monday. Lidge is eyeing a return to the mound for the Nationals in the second or third week of June.

There are still a number of other key players that are on the disabled list. Mark DeRosa, Drew Storen, Cole Kimball, and Chien-Ming Wang are all scheduled to return with the next three months.

Monk to Hall of Fame

Today, former Redskins wide receiver Art Monk was named to College Football Hall of Fame.

Monk, a four year lettermen for Syracuse, led the Orange in receiving from 1977-1979. He currently ranks sixth on the all-time career list for receptions and seventh on the all-time receiving yards list.

In 15 years in the NFL, 13 years with the Redskins, Monk totaled 940 receptions for 12,721 yards and 68 receptions. In 2008, he was inducted into the National Football Hall of Fame.

How to Fix the Ninth Inning

A topic of discussion in DC his how to fix the Nationals ninth inning meltdowns. It's a really simple fix: eliminate Henry Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, nicknamed "Hot Rod" (should be "Hurricane Henry"), has been the source for a number of ninth inning meltdowns. In the month of May, Rodriguez has an 8.10 ERA with three blown saves, six earned runs, two home runs, and six walks. Rodriguez is hardly someone that makes batters shake in their stance when he stares them down from the mound.

He has a fastball that can reach 101 MPH on the radar gun, but, he has no control of it. His breaking ball pitches break either straight into the ground four feet in front of the mound or sail off four feet wide of the strike zone. Bottom line, Rodriguez needs to be ousted as the Nationals closer.

I was listening to a radio show this morning and someone called in saying that the Nationals had no one else to go to outside of Rodriguez. Are you out of your mind?

How about the All-Star reliever that is Tyler Clippard? I hear he's pretty good. What about the guy that came in with the bases loaded and recorded the final two outs of last nights game to get credited with his first save? I think his name was Sean Burnett and he's pretty good, too. Craig Stammen isn't that bad, either.

The nice thing is, the Nationals starting pitchers have a solid seven innings in them night after night. I understand that the starter won't get through 6-7 innings every night, but, most nights they usually do. So, you bring in Clippard, who pitched a scoreless-hitless eighth last night, and let him go two innings. He gets the save, the Nationals get the win, and everyone is happy.

I know what you're saying: "Brian!! Clippard can't pitch every night!" Oh my goodness me you're right! That's why Sean Burnett exists. Bring him in the next night and let him throw two solid innings.

Oh, Sean Burnett gets tired, too? Craig Stammen isn't that bad. He threw two scoreless-hitless innings last night, as well.

The point is, there's at least three better pitchers than Hurricane Henry Rodriguez that can come out of the bullpen. Put them in a rotation like the starting pitchers. Use Rodriguez every once in a while to give those three a break, but, focus on Stammen, Clippard, and Burnett as the teams closers/relievers.

We really only have to ride out this storm (you see what I did there?!) for a little while longer. According to Davey Johnson, Brad Lidge is expected to return sometime in mid June. Drew Storen, the Nationals best closer, is expected to return near the All-Star break. Until then, the Nationals can actually hold their own with the bullpen they have.

Henry Rodriguez cannot be the Nationals closer of the future. Sure, he has eight saves, but he is certainly not who he was in April. It's time to let Clippard, Burnett, and Stammen save the day for the Washington Nationals.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Why Sign Hightower?

After the success that Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster had last season, the Redskins still went out and drafted a running back, Alfred Morris from FAU, in the later rounds of the draft this year. Now, just last night, the Redskins signed yet another running back. They resigned Tim Hightower to a one-year contract.

When you look at the overall picture of the Redskins, it can lead many to wonder whether or not the resigning of Hightower was necessary since technically they do have three running backs already on roster. However, looks can be deceiving.

First off, expect Alfred Morris to take on more of a fullback roll. Despite the fact that Darrell Young was one of the NFL's best fullbacks last season, Morris could still give Young a run for his money and playing time this fall.

So, after breaking it a down a little bit, we see that the Redskins really only had two running backs that would most likely see the field: Evan Royster and Roy Helu Jr.

Now, the signing of Tim Hightower makes a little more sense. While it may seem silly to have three running backs on the roster, it does makes sense to have a safety net.

Roy Helu Jr. is for certain going to be the starting running back of the Washington Redskins next season. He was dominant last season and asserted himself as the starter once Tim Hightower went down with an ACL tear in his knee.

Let's look at who would be backing up Roy Helu Jr. Before the signing, it was safe to assume that Evan Royster would be the back up. In the Redskins zone running offense, you need to have two quality running backs in order for it to work most efficiently. Royster was decent, but, didn't quite get his running legs under him until late in the season.

Hightower, however, was solid from the get-go. He began the season as the teams number one running back and the combination of Hightower/Helu really gave teams a headache. Last September, the Redskins averaged over 100 yards rushing per game.

The month following Hightower's season ending injury, November, the Redskins averaged just 70 yards rushing per game.

Keeping Hightower is definitely the right move for the Redskins. He and Helu really have a grip on the zone running scheme and should give defenses fits coming out of the backfield.

Hold On A Minute...

After last nights melt-down by Henry Rodriguez, Twitter exploded into a frenzy about the quality of the Nationals team.

Are you kidding me?

Without even looking at the stats and numbers I can tell you that the Nationals are one of the best baseball teams in the MLB today.

They have a rotation that is tops in the league in all categories and their offense is actually starting to spark. Danny Espinosa has seemed to have found his swing again and they've got a great young hot shot in Bryce Harper. What's not to love about the Nationals?

Sure...they were 6-19 with runners in scoring position last night. Okay...Henry Rodriguez blew his third save of the year in another dramatic mound melt-down. You're right...after this road trip the Nationals aren't in first place anymore. But aren't we forgetting something?...


I think that it is utterly ridiculous to hit the panic button over last nights collapse. You know what I think the problem is? D.C. has never had a winning baseball team. Now that we do have one, people don't know how to handle it when that team collapses.

In all seriousness, this team is still just as good as when the season began. The only thing that they are REALLY missing is Jayson Werth. Jesus Flores was able to pick up the slack from the missing Wilson Ramos and now that Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche are back, nothing is really missing.

The Nationals didn't start the season with Drew Storen, Chien-Ming Wang, and Mark DeRosa. Would those guys certainly have helped win a few more games? Sure. But, the Nationals were a first place team without those guys nonetheless.

When those players return, we can only expect the Nationals to get better and more dominant. All three of those players are game changers and will do just that.

In the mean time, put down the pitch forks, take your jerseys out of the fire, and just relax. It's okay for the Nationals to have a game like last night. The key to winning a championship is to limit games like that. In my opinion, they've done a fantastic job of that.

Be patient, DC, just let it all play out. The Nationals had a tough road trip losing 3-of-5. Everything is going to be fine. The Nationals are for real.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tweet: Hightower Returns to Redskins

Per a tweet from the man himself, Tim Hightower reported that he is back with the Washington Redskins.

Last we heard, the Redskins were "still in play" for the 25 year old running back following his visit with the New England Patriots.

However, tonight Hightower sent this tweet out over the twitter-waves:

"@Tim_Hightower: I'm baaaaaaaaack"

The tweet also included a picture of himself in a Redskins hat.

Last October against the Carolina Panthers, Hightower tore his left ACL on a run in the third quarter. He had to have surgery done to repair the knee a couple weeks later. The injury caused him to miss the entire season.

Prior to the injury, Hightower had 84 carries for 321 yards and one touchdown.

Hightower played three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before joining the Redskins last offseason.

Hightower is a very reliable back and if the report is true, and it's from a very reliable source, he will certainly be a difference maker and will be an excellent compliment to Roy Helu Jr.

Stay tuned for details as they arrive.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Ramos Tears ACL

This morning, the Nationals officially announced that catcher Wilson Ramos tore his ACL last night in the seventh inning while trying to field a passed ball. An MRI he had last night revealed the injury.

According to his spokeswoman, Marfa Mata, Ramos will undergo surgery to repair the torn ligament. An injury like this usually results in a player missing an entire season.

In an interview with Amanda Comak, Nationals manager Davey Johnson stated that Ramos will most likely be out the remainder of the season.

So where do the Nationals go from here?

Jesus Flores will now be the Nationals number one catcher. In 35 plate appearances this season, Flores is batting .200 with an on base percentage of .256. He has seven hits with one double and four RBI.

In nine starts behind the plate, the teams ERA is 1.39. Flores has caught three runners stealing and has no passed balls or errors.

The Nationals called up Sandy Leon from AA Harrisburg to be the back-up catcher. In 94 at bats, Leon is batting .319 with an on base percentage of .356. He has 30 hits including 10 doubles, one home run, and 12 RBI.

In 26 starts as catcher this season, he's committed two errors and has caught 12 base runners stealing. However, 17 base runners have managed to steal a base against him. Leon has allowed three passed balls.

Wilson Ramos is just another name on the already long list of should-be starters that are on the DL. He joins the likes of Brad Lidge, Drew Storen, Jayson Werth, and Mark DeRosa as players on the disabled list.

Jesus Flores has been a reliable person behind the plate for the Nationals in the past. If he can pick it up at the plate, the Nationals will be just fine and continue their winning ways.

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Reports: Ramos Tears Knee

This morning via Twitter, Wilson Ramos's agent tweeted that he has torn a ligament in his right knee and he will need surgery. An injury of this kind can sometimes result in a player missing an entire season.

In the seventh inning of last nights game against the Reds, while turning to field a passed ball, Wilson Ramos's right knee buckled underneath him. He dropped straight to the ground in obvious pain.

Ramos was later helped off the field by the trainers and underwent an MRI on his right knee. The Nationals expect to hear the official word on the injury sometime this morning.

Stay tuned to The Skinny on Sports for details.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Harper Cuts Eye

Last night during the eighth inning of the Nationals game versus the Reds, right fielder Bryce Harper emerged from the dugout with blood flowing from his left eye.

Post-game, Davey Johnson gave a very detailed explanation on what happened.

Simply put, Harper threw a fit. He was in the midst of an 0-5 night with three strikeouts and had to blow off a little steam. He took a bat, went to the tunnel that leads to the clubhouse, and swung away! the wall (not his eye).

In theory, the bat was supposed to break when he hit the wall with it. Like I said, that's what was SUPPOSED to happen. However, the bat didn't break and it swung back and hit him in the face just above his left eye.

Since then, Harper has gotten stitches to sow up his eye. It took ten stitches to close the wound.

If you ask Harper, he'll be in the line-up tonight. If you ask Johnson, he'll be out a couple of nights to let the swelling go down.

I don't think that there is any reason to question Harper's maturity level. The kid was having an off night and needed to blow off some steam. If he hadn't cut his eye, we'd never know about his incident in the tunnel.

At least Harper was mature enough to go to a less public place to throw his fit. He could have stayed in the dug out and thrown the water cooler, helmet, and bats around for all the world to see.

Harper has gotten off to a rough start this April. Every major leaguer has been in a slump at some point in their career. Hopefully Nationals hitting coach Rick Eckstein will work with Harper to help get his swing back.

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Redskins Draft Profile: Jordan Bernstine

This past April the NFL hosted their annual entry level draft. The Redskins selected nine players in this years draft. In the seventh round, the Redskins selected cornerback Jordan Bernstine from Iowa.

Bernstine saw immediate playing time upon his arrival at Iowa. Prior to the 2009 season, Bernstine suffered an ankle injury and red-shirted that season. He returned to form for the 2010 season.

In his senior season for Iowa, he recorded 84 total tackles to go along with one sack. He also had 30 kick returns for 713 yards.

First off, looking back at your career for the University of Iowa, what is the fondest memory you have of playing for them?
"The fondest memory is probably going to the Orange Bowl and winning. That entire experience was amazing and something that I will always remember."

Where were you when you received the call from the Redskins saying they were drafting you?
"I was actually sitting in my mom's room playing PS3. I dropped everything and answered as quick as possible."

What was the moment like when it was announced that the Redskins had drafted you and it became official?
"It was amazing! I didn't see it on TV because I was walking outside still talking with the coaching staff. But I could hear my family screaming from inside the house and was just like a huge weight lifted. I'm grateful for the opportunity."

How were you received when you first arrived at Redskins Park to be introduced?
"I was received with open arms. Everyone involved in the program that I spoke with was great. I'm looking forward to being in D.C."

What are your expectations or goals that you have for yourself this season?
"My goal is to be a part of the Redskins and contribute in anyway possible, whether that is on special teams, sub packages, or playing safety. Anything I can do to help I'm completely open to."

How are you going to contribute to and help improve the Redskins defense?
"I'm going to learn the system. And play hard and try to bring a level of physical play to the secondary."

How do you plan to get involved in the Redskins community?
"I'm not sure yet. I'm open to any opportunities to help out in the community. It's a new area to me and I'll be doing anything I can do to help."

Once you get that first paycheck, what is your first big purchase going to be?
"I'm not really sure. Probably a Mac Laptop. Nothing too crazy. I like to keep it simple."

What excites you the most about becoming a Washington Redskin?
"The fact that it is my new home. They are giving me an outstanding opportunity and there is so much tradition and pride in Washington. Being able to be a part of it is like my dream come true." 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Nationals, Angels to Trade?

Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reported this morning that the Los Angeles Angels and the Washington Nationals are currently in trade talks. The player the Nationals are trying to acquire is center fielder Peter Bourjos.

The report went on to say that the two sides had discussed a trade in the offseason, but that eventually sputtered out. Now they have reopened the discussions.

Now that Jayson Werth is out, the Nationals need another quality outfielder. The combination of Bernadina, Nady, and Moore at left is nice, but, Bourjos would certainly be an upgrade.

At just 25, Bourjos has only been in the MLB for two years and he has spent both of them with the Angels. Last season, he started in 138 games for LA in center field position. He totaled 350 putouts on 361 attempts and committed four errors with seven assists.

At the plate, Bourjos batted .271 with an on base percentage of .327 last season. He also hit 12 home runs and racked up 43 RBI.

This season he has gotten off to a cold start. Through 21 games, he's batting .192 with a home run, two doubles, and nine RBI.

However, the Nationals want him for his defensive ability. He's got great range and would certainly be an upgrade from what the Nationals currently have in left field.

While his usual spot is in center field, that is currently occupied by Rick Ankiel. It would be interesting to see if whether or not Davey Johnson would move Ankiel to left or stick Bourjos in left field.

The Nationals have shopping John Lannan all spring and the Angels do need help on their pitching staff. This could be the deal Mike Rizzo has been looking for.

Like it was stated before, these are merely preliminary trade talks. Stay tuned for details.

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Time to Walk the Walk

I am so sick and tired of hearing about concussions and what they do to the brain and how former players have had their lives altered because of them. I don't know about the rest of you, but, all I'm hearing is talk and I'm not seeing any action.

Last time I checked, talk is cheap. Here's another saying in action: you can talk the talk, but, can you walk the walk?

That's what the NFL is right now. It's cheap and full of talkers.

Look, Roger Goodell, ANOTHER player has died, by his own hand no less, because of the effect that a concussion has on ones brain. To me, hearing Goodell say how the game should be made safer just seems like he's blowing hot air for the press.

Stop talking...for once...and start doing! The longer we talk about how we ALREADY know that concussions can really mess someone up mentally only makes the problem worse and allows more players to be effected.

It is absolutely sickening that yet another former player had to die, by his own hand, to finally bring this to the forefront.

I mean, how out of touch are you, Roger Goodell? He keeps preaching "player safety" and I have yet to see football made safer. You know why? Because football is, and always will be, a dangerous game. Deal with it. But all he's doing is preaching. When is he finally going to do something?

It is VERY simple to prevent concussions. The past couple weeks the theory of the NUMBER of hits has risen to the top as a reason why players are more susceptible to concussions. Great! We've established a problem, now let's establish a solution. This is the easy part.

Since it's the number of hits, just reduce the opportunity for players to get hit. In one practice, a player will endure more hits in that practice than throughout the course of one game. You see where I'm going yet?

It's simple: eliminate the number of full-contact practices. It's really that easy. Instead of having full contact practices 4-5 days a week, how about 3-4 days per week? Really! Eliminating ONE full-contact practice will drastically reduce the number concussions we see.

This starts down at the high school level. But still, it is very simple to create a sport wide rule to limit the number of full contact practices.

I am absolutely finished TALKING about concussions. I get it! They're bad and can cause MAJOR post-career head trauma. How about some action then? If we KNOW that they are dangerous and we KNOW how they are caused, why don't we move towards eliminating them by addressing what creates them?

So how about it NFL? Talk is cheap. You have talked the talk, but, WILL you walk the walk?

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Road to Recovery: Chien-Ming Wang

Nationals pitcher Chien-Ming Wang has begun his minor league rehabilitation so he can start working his way back the major league level following his spring training hamstring injury.

His first rehab start came back on April 28th for the Potomac Nationals. In that start, he pitched four innings and allowed one run on four hits with no walks and three strikeouts.

His next rehab start came May 4th with the Hagerstown Suns. Wang threw a total of 65 pitches through six innings giving up three hits, one home run, a walk, and struckout seven batters.

In his most recent rehab start, this time for the Syracuse Chiefs, Wang pitched a total of seven innings. He allowed two runs on eight hits while walking and striking out one batter.

According to Amanda Comak, when Wang returns, which could be at the end of this month or early next month, he will most likely take on a relief pitcher role. Since Ross Detwiler has been so reliable on the mound, don't expect him to be replaced by Wang.

Wangs contract with the Nationals is up at the end of the season. While he is not the pitcher that he once was for the Yankees anymore, he still has some solid innings left in him. If the Nationals do resign him, expect him to continue with more of a relief role.

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One Pitch Pitcher

After Henry Rodriguez gave up a walk-off home run to Rod Barajas last Tuesday night, it has led some to believe whether or not Rodriguez should be the Nationals closer.

Personally, I think that Rodriguez has what it takes to become the Nationals closer. While he has blown two saves this season, he is tied for sixth in the NL with six total saves.

Rodriguez has a fastball that can hit 101 on the radar gun. What's not to love about that? At times, he does miss his location and hitters will make contact with it. But, it is very difficult to catch up to something moving 101 MPH.

Rodriguez's biggest enemy can also become his best friend. He's got a slider that falls right off the table just before it gets to the plate. We saw him throw two wild pitches on Tuesday night with it just before he gave up the home run.

The way that pitch can also become his best friend is the fact that when it comes out of his hand, it's easy to read it as a fastball. Hitters will swing right where it's going, but it won't be there as it will drop.

The problem, however, is consistency. When Rodriguez's slider doesn't work from the get go, he tends to rely on his fastball and becomes a one pitch pitcher. Then batters will sit on his fastball and will be ready when it comes.

If Rodriguez can figure out a way to be more accurate, consistent, and have more faith in his slider, he can become one of the premier closers in the game. His biggest problem facing him is avoiding becoming a one pitch pitcher.

Statistically, Rodriguez is near the top of the NL in a few major categories. He has 17 strikeouts and has given up just seven hits. He has a 2.84 ERA and a WHIP (walks/hits per innings pitched) of just 1.11.

Already, Rodriguez is intimidating out of the bullpen thanks to his 101 MPH fastball. If he can manage to control his slider, he'll be the closer the Nationals have been looking for since Chad Cordero left.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Nats Sign Gonzalez, Rizzo Gets Fined

CSN Washington reported today that the Washington Nationals have signed left handed reliever Mike Gonzalez to a minor league contract.

Gonzalez was originally at 30th round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 1997. He has played for the Pirates, Braves, Orioles, and Rangers throughout his career before the Nationals.

His most notable season came back in 2006 for the Pirates when he appeared in 54 games and recorded a save in 24 of them. He has a lifetime ERA of 2.94 and a lifetime WHIP of 1.243.

CSN Philadelphia reported today that Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo has been fined for comments he made after Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels admitted to intentionally hitting the Nationals 19-year old outfielder Bryce Harper.

Rizzo called Hamels "classless", "gutless", and even through in a few choice words that will not be repeated following Sunday nights fiasco.

The sum of the fine has not been disclosed. Hamels was suspended five games for his actions.

Did Shanahan Jump the Gun?

This past Sunday, Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan officially declared Robert Griffin III the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins. That move led many analysts and fans to question whether or not Shanahan jumped to that conclusion to quickly.

I'm here to tell you that Mike Shanahan simply had no other choice. Let me explain...

Do people honestly think that they gave up four draft picks, including three first rounders, to move up just FOUR spots in this years draft to select RG3 and then have him on the bench to start the season? Of course not!

Robert Griffin III was selected to be the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins. The days of Grossman vs Beck are over.

If anything, Shanahan took a while to officially declare RG3 the starter. He waited till the end of the rookie mini-camp! What was he waiting for?

Let's look at this from a PR point of view. Would you, a "loyal" Redskins fan, really pay 80 bucks a ticket to go watch Rex Grossman start at quarterback? Nope. Not one "faithful" fan would ever pay that much to watch a terrible quarterback start when there is a first round draft pick sitting on the bench.

What about Shanahan's reputation? How would that make him look if he sold the house to pick this guy and then had him on the sideline the whole game week one versus the New Orleans Saints? That would make him look pretty bad and would lead every single Washingtonian to question his coaching ability.

It is an absolute insult to Mike Shanahan's coaching intelligence to say that he jumped the gun in declaring RG3 as the starter. After how all of us ranted and complained about Rex Grossman, now people are saying that he may be a better option to start the season?

That is ridiculous. Robert Griffin III is the face of the franchise for the next 10 years. Why not start him week one? Throw him to the wolves and have him learn even quicker. He's not going to be great from the get-go, obviously, but give him some reps and he'll be a star before you know it.

Shanahan is also saving himself and RG3 a lot of media drama by declaring him the outright starter early on. Now we won't have to speculate all summer who the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins will be.

Mike Shanahan is absolutely making the right move in declaring Robert Griffin III the starting quarterback. Many times Shanahan has been called a quarterback guru. I think the decision between Griffin, Cousins, and Grossman is a no-brainer.

**For what it's worth, a brief note about Kirk Cousins. Former Redskins superstar quarterbacks Sonny Jurgensen and Joe Theisman were also fourth round draft picks in their respective drafts...just a thought.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Where's The Run Support?

Let's try to put Jayson Werth and the Cole Hamels/Bryce Harper saga aside for a minute and take a look at a real problem for the Washington Nationals: they have no run support.

The Nationals are probably one of the weirdest teams in the MLB. Their in first place in their division and yet near the bottom in the MLB when it comes to offense.

Sure, the Nats can get away with a few low scoring games because of their sensational pitching rotation and quality bullpen, but, eventually that all runs out.

The Nationals rank 27th in runs scored (96), 24th in batting average (.238), and 26th in slugging percentage (.353). So how have they been so darn successful?

It's simple, really, the Nationals are getting on base. They are 16th in the MLB in on base percentage with .313. Before Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche were sidelined (LaRoche to return today), there were four players in the lineup with an OBP better than .350.

Including Werth and LaRoche, four Nationals batters have drawn more than 10 walks this season and Bryce has already drawn five in eight games.

Simply put, these guys have been playing money-ball.

But, eventually the money is going to run out...right?

The Nats have the best starting rotation in the MLB and one of the best bullpens in the majors. Together, they average an ERA, rounded up, of about 2. Thats incredible.

However, like we saw against the Dodgers, they will give up more than two runs in a game occasionally. In fact, four times this season they have given up over five runs. When that happens, the bats have to be able to pick up the slack.

However, the bats have not been there this year to support the starting pitcher when he struggles. Just seven times this season have the Nats scored more than five runs in a game. However, ten times this season the Nats have scored two runs or fewer in a game.

While they have been able to rely on the starting pitcher for much of the beginning of the season, eventually the arms will tire and five-plus runs will be given up multiple games in a row.

I know talking about playoff chances is fun, but, if the Nationals can't figure out a way to put 4-5 runs on the board on regular basis, that playoff talk might become just

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Werth injury Details

The final blow, or so we hope, to Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth's injured wrist was delivered this morning.

As first reported on Twitter by William Ladson, Werth had surgery this morning to repair his broken left wrist. He is now expected to be out for at least 10-12 weeks.

It was also reported that Werths break was a clean break and that it had nothing to do with a previous break of the same wrist back in 2005. Werth had to have surgery done on it then, as well. He also tore a tendon in the 2005 injury.

The most worriesome part about this ordeal is that Werth's career nearly ended back in 2006 after he had the surgery done because of the severity of the injury. Now that he has injured the same wrist the same way twice, the cause for concern of his career is there.

Werth is expected to remain with team and will be in the dugout for the all the games like he usually would. While his leadership on the field will be missed, he will still be a vocal leader in the clubhouse.

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"I was trying to hit him."

Are you serious? Really? Cole Hamels? Seriously?

As if Washington fans didn't already have enough reasons to purely hate Philadelphia sports, Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels certainly gave them one more following last nights game.

In the first inning, Hamels scorched a first pitch hardball right off the small of 19-year old phenom Bryce Harper's back.

Never, in all of my years of watching sports, have I ever seen a more gutless, tasteless, classless act. To then admit it afterward? makes me sick.

What's worse is that Hamels almost feels proud of his actions. He said after that game that he's "old school" and that's just how baseball is. No it's not and you're not old school! You're just old and past your prime.

You know what would have been a better way to "welcome him to the big leagues"? How about striking him out on three straight pitches. That would send a better statement than showing you have not control plunking him in the back.

Harper did get his poetic justice. Two batters later he stole home off of Hamels when he checked the runner at first and Harper stole home from third base.

But the point remains, Cole Hamels is a punk. He didn't prove anything by hitting Harper in the back. If anything, he only proved that Harper is a huge threat at the plate and that he was afraid to pitch to him.

Cole Hamels should be suspended for his actions. Not only did he intentionally hit a player, he could have also seriously injured Bryce Harper. The spot where the pitch hit him was near his kidneys. Had Harper been hit square on his kidneys, his life could have been at risk.

I know it's easy for me to be biased since I do cheer for the Nationals, but as a baseball fan, I am extremely disappointed. The "old-school" way of baseball is just that...old.

Before I wrap up this rant, let's check out how Bryce Harper has handled this. He hasn't gone on Twitter or Facebook and said terrible things. He hasn't trashed Hamels on national television, either. He's handled himself with the utmost class should commended for it.

Well, if there wasn't a rivalry before there certainly is one now. Both sides have now made it quite clear that there are hard feelings between the two. Be sure to circle this date on your calendar: May 21st. That will be the next time the two sides square to go nine more rounds on the diamond.

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Werth Breaks Wrist

Nationals manager Davey Johnson confirmed following last night's game that left fielder Jayson Werth broke his left wrist.

In 2005, Werth had surgery on his left wrist to repair a torn tendon. He missed all of the 2006 season and almost had his career cut short due to the injury.

Multiple reports about when he will return have been thrown around. In an ESPN report, it was stated that there is no timetable for his return. However, many Nationals reporters believe that he could return as soon as six weeks.

Werth injured his left wrist when diving for a fly ball hit by Placido Polanco. His glove got caught underneath him and he rolled over his wrist and came up in obvious pain. He was then helped off while clutching his left wrist.

While Werth started the season slow, he quickly became one of the Nationals most feared hitters in the line-up. Before his injury last night, he was 1-2 with a single that moved Bryce Harper over to third. Harper would eventually steal home a few pitches later.

In 27 games this season, Werth totaled 26 hits with five doubles, a triple, and three home runs. He had a .271 batting average and an on base percentage of .369. He had been walked 14 times and struckout just three times. Werth was also in the top three for the team with 12 RBI and 10 runs scored.

Losing Jayson Werth is no need for concern for the Nationals. While he was becoming one of their most premier hitters, his absence will mostly be felt in the outfield. Werth was an excellent outfielder and was part of the three headed monster of Harper, Ankiel, and Werth out in the outfield.

According to Mark Zuckerman, Davey Johnson plans to move Bryce Harper over to right field and then use a combination of Roger Bernadina and Xavier Nady at left field. When Michael Morse is healthy, he will then be put in either left or right field. Expect Rick Ankiel to remain at his centerfield position.

Luckily, the Nationals biggest bat, Adam LaRoche, is set to return this Tuesday. Ryan Zimmerman is also scheduled to return to action that same day. Michael Morse should help offensively when he returns, too.

For the Nationals, there is no need to be concerned at this point. Bryce Harper is swinging the bat well and the two best hitters on the team are returning this week. If they can find a quality outfielder to replace Werth, everything will work out just fine and the Nationals should still be able to continue their winning ways.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Redskins Sign Rookies

Today, via the teams Twitter page, the Washington Redskins announced the signings of three draft picks. The team tweets even included photos of the players signing their contracts.

The first of the three signed yesterday. Fifth round draft pick and offensive tackle Adam Gettis signed his deal yesterday afternoon.

This morning, the Redskins inked their two sixth round picks. Running back Alfred Morris and offensive tackle Tom Compton both signed their rookie contracts.

This morning also concluded the Redskins rookie mini camp. Rookie mini camp is a chance for the team to bring in undrafted free agents to see if their worth a contract. Mainly players from small schools, NCAA D-1AA and D-II, are invited to participate.

This morning was the final practice where the players participated in team drills and situational play. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't perfect, but, the Redskins were impressed by a few players.

Once again, via their Twitter page, the Redskins announced the signings of five undrafted rookie free agents that participated in the camp this weekend.

Utah wide receiver Brian Hernandez, Marshall defensive lineman Delvin Johnson, Kent State wide receiver Samuel Kirkland, Oklahoma State offensive lineman Nick Martinez, and Florida State tight end Beau Reliford all received rookie contracts upon finishing the rookie mini camp.

Most of these new guys will only contend for back-up spots. However, a few could possibly surprise us and make it to the field on game days.

The Redskins have four more drafted players, including Robert Griffin III, left to sign. Look for them to have their contracts in hand within the next couple of weeks.

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Redskins Sign Picks

Mike Jones reported that the Washington Redskins have signed seventh round draft picks Richard Crawford and Jordan Bernstein.

Crawford, a cornerback out of SMU, signed for a reported four years and $2.164 million dollar contract with a $64,000 signing bonus.

Bernstein, a safety out of Iowa, signed for the usual four years, however, cash details of the deal are currently unknown.

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

What To Do With Bryce Harper?

Bryce Harper, above, should stay in the majors. (Photo:
Ever since he was called up to the major leagues one week ago, Bryce Harper has been the Washington Nationals best far.

Now the question becomes, however, is who will get sent down once Ryan Zimmerman is healthy. Keep in mind, the only reason Harper is in the major leagues is because Zimmerman can't be. Zimmerman is expected to return to the Nationals as early as this weekend.

So now the decision that is in front of Davey Johnson and Co. is whether to keep Bryce Harper on the big league roster or send him back down to AAA Syracuse.

The answer is simple: Harper HAS to stay in the majors. Reason number one: he is, and deservedly so, the number three hitter in the line-up.

Hands down, he has been the Nationals best player since his arrival a week ago. He's batting .375 with an on base percentage of .389. He has four doubles on six hits with three RBI. He's even scored two runs himself. He's drawn a walk and has struckout just twice.

But, it's more than just the stats that make Harper so good and so valuable. It's his effort, hustle, and enthusiasm for the game that is contagious and will spread throughout the entire locker room.

Just last night in game three against the Diamondbacks, he hit a slow roller right up the middle in his first at bat. He rocketed out of the batters box and down the first base line to try to beat the throw. D-Backs pitcher Ian Kennedy saw Harper hustling and ended up throwing the shoulda-been out over the head of the first baseman.

Harper would advance to second on the error, but, would eventually be called out because he apparently, and he did, did not touch first base when he rounded for second.

Harper has the ability to stretch a long base hit into a double. Every time he leaves the batters box he's thinking about whether or not he could turn and head for second.

Then you have to turn to his play in the outfield. He has a perfect fielding percentage and has not committed a single error yet. He's got a cannon that rivals that of Rick Ankiel and can get the ball from deep left field to home on a line without a single bounce.

His maturity level has gotten considerably better since he blew a kiss at an opposing minor league pitcher last year. He has stopped talking and instead is letting his play do all the talking. He shows up to the ballpark with the attitude that more big league players should have. He shows up and you can tell that he has realized his dream and you can't help but get inspired by his enthusiasm.

So who could the Nationals send down instead? Tyler Moore was called up a day after Harper was. He hasn't played very much and was called up to sit on the bench. Xavier Nady could be sent down, as well. He's been quiet as of late and was primarily a pinch hitter when he did make an appearance.

Harper is the most valuable player, next to Strasburg and Zimmerman, that the Washington Nationals have. He's productive, enthusiastic, and consistent defensively. It would be a HUGE mistake to send Bryce Harper back to the minor leagues.

QB Controversy in DC?

Ever since the Redskins selected Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round of the NFL draft this past weekend, Washington fans around the globe have been claiming that there is a controversy brewing in DC.

First of all, those people are the reason there are quarterback controversies to begin with! The Redskins make a move and they start talking and creating their own rumors.

Personally, I don't disagree with the player they selected. I do, however, disagree with the POSITION that they selected.

Kirk Cousins is a great quarterback with a bright future on any other team. He was a three year captain for the Spartans and saw playing time his freshman year on campus. If anyone can play quarterback, it's him. If anything, the Redskins have done him and his career an injustice by picking him.

BUT...there were bigger needs for the Redskins than a back-up quarterback. They could have turned to the defensive side of the ball and selected cornerback Brandon Boykin or linebacker Ronnell Lewis.

Another dimension to this is what they can do with Cousins further down the road. Let's be realistic, he may not be a Washington Redskin this time next year. Let me explain...

Let's say the Chiefs, Raiders, and Cardinals are shopping for a quarterback that can run a spread/west coast offense. Kirk Cousins has plenty of experience running an offense like that. The Redskins currently don't have a first round draft pick next year, they could attempt to trade Cousins for a draft pick.

What if Robert Griffin III doesn't pan out (don't hurt me for saying that!!)? Then what? Turn to Rex Grossman? At least now the Redskins won't have to wait another year to draft ANOTHER quarterback. They will already have one.

The move to draft Kirk Cousins was certainly an eye popping one. To sum up my feelings: I don't think they drafted the wrong PLAYER, I think they drafted the wrong POSITION.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Strasburg Earns MLB Honors

The Washington Nationals announced today that pitcher Stephen Strasburg has been announced the National League Pitcher of the Month for the month of April.

In five starts this past month, Strasburg posted a 2-0 record with an incredible 1.13 era. He also struck-out a National League best 34 batters and walked just six. In 32 innings of work, he only allowed four earned runs.

For Strasburg, this is just another stepping stone on his way to becoming the best pitcher in the MLB. His fastball is corkscrewing batters into the ground and his curveball is sending batters back to the dugout frustrated.

Strasburg has the ability to win the NL Cy Young award this season. I know! The season is young and I don't want to jinx it either...but, with stuff like his, he has to be the early favorite.

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