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Monday, August 27, 2012

MLB: Nationals banking on new offensive philosophy

Swinging away at Riggleman…as if he were still an annoying Nat.

In the previous two-plus seasons, Washington was ranked in the bottom 10 in offense. So what is different this year? The team has a new philosophy about hitting when compared to Jim Riggleman’s managerial tenure.

According to Johnson, the Nats had too many hitters trying to hit the ball to the opposite field, and it made the players vulnerable on inside pitches. Johnson made it clear that Eckstein did not have this philosophy, having often been overruled by the previous regime.

“To a man, we got a little too much concerned about hitting the ball the other way,” Johnson said recently. “I think the regime before liked everybody to go the other way. We really couldn’t handle fastballs [inside]. We didn’t hit the ball where it was pitched. We have the talent to hit the ball where it was pitched, but we were a little defensive. ... We had the book on us—‘Pound them in with hard stuff’—and we weren’t able to do much.”

... “Between last year and this year, it’s night and day,” Jayson Werth said. “Just the whole atmosphere in the clubhouse. You have an iconic manager that really knows how to handle this team. If we still had a guy like Riggleman as the manager, I don’t think the team is where it’s at.”

Asked why he felt that way, Werth said, “You have a guy [in Johnson] that is confident in himself and in his players. That alone can go a long way. ... Being a big league player for so long, being a big league manager for so long, Davey has a real good feel [for the game].”

Repoz Posted: August 27, 2012 at 05:23 PM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nats

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   1. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: August 27, 2012 at 05:51 PM (#4219499)
My first reaction to a "Nationals offensive policy" was to wonder if the Lerners had released a statement telling the fans to quit kvetching about the Metro closing before midnight and just find a damn cab to take home.
   2. clowns to the left of me; STEAGLES to the right Posted: August 27, 2012 at 06:03 PM (#4219511)
so, the nationals have lost 2 series since the all-star break, both to the phillies, including being swept this past weekend.


i'm still ~99% sure the phillies have no shot at getting into the playoffs, but with halladay and lee pitching like halladay and lee, and with utley and howard starting to produce, and with frandsen, brown, kratz, and mayberry playing like a solid supporting cast, and with the bullpen kind of finding its stride with papelbon, bastardo, horst, lindblom, and valdes, they really could be able to do some damage if they could get in.

that 1-10 stretch going into the allstar break was just a killer. if they'd have gone 5-6 instead, they'd be just 5.5 games out of the wildcard, and hitting their stride going into the stretch run.
   3. PreservedFish Posted: August 27, 2012 at 06:20 PM (#4219519)
I like this. It's annoying how commentators gush when a guy gets a hit to the opposite field, as if that were the sign of an enlightened hitting mind.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: August 27, 2012 at 06:30 PM (#4219530)
Between last year and this year, it’s night and day,” Jayson Werth said.


However, between last year and later in last year, it was like night and a little bit later at night.

   5. The District Attorney Posted: August 27, 2012 at 07:06 PM (#4219581)
My God, was I frightened that David Eckstein was a hitting coach.
   6. God Posted: August 27, 2012 at 07:23 PM (#4219599)
Better than the Mets' philosophy of offensive banking.
   7. Bhaakon Posted: August 27, 2012 at 08:31 PM (#4219641)
I like this. It's annoying how commentators gush when a guy gets a hit to the opposite field, as if that were the sign of an enlightened hitting mind.


With the sudden increased popularity of the shift, it very well may be.
   8. something like a train wreck Posted: August 27, 2012 at 08:39 PM (#4219645)
Or maybe they have better players this year. 4 starters are the same, only Werth is dramatically better this year, and he was a prime bounceback candidate
   9. Brian Posted: August 27, 2012 at 08:55 PM (#4219648)
My God, was I frightened that David Eckstein was a hitting coach


Why? People like David Eckstein had to learn as much as he could about hitting and the mechanics of it to make the majors with very little else going for him. I remember Barry Bonds talking about something that Eckstein either told him or that Bonds noticed Eckstein doing that really helped BB become a better hitter (Cue the roids jokes). Most hitting coaches were not offensive MLB stars.
   10. Sweatpants Posted: August 27, 2012 at 08:58 PM (#4219650)
Ian Desmond's improved a lot, too. I knew he was doing well, but I wouldn't have guessed he was slugging over .500.
   11. Good cripple hitter Posted: August 27, 2012 at 09:01 PM (#4219653)
I remember Barry Bonds talking about something that Eckstein either told him or that Bonds noticed Eckstein doing that really helped BB become a better hitter (Cue the roids jokes). Most hitting coaches were not offensive MLB stars.


I'd never heard about that, but it's in a fantastic Gammons column from 2003:

"He's one of my favorite players ever," Bonds said. "I told him that he's a gift from God. Everything is difficult for him, yet he gets it done and done well... it brought a tear to my eye to think that someone could will himself to be a winning major league player. We can all learn something from him."

[...]

Eckstein's hitting coach -- his brother Ricky -- happened to be on the trip.

"I couldn't believe it," David said. "I looked over one day, and there's Barry with my brother, talking about the fundamentals of what I do."
   12. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: August 27, 2012 at 09:06 PM (#4219657)
(redundant)
   13. JJ1986 Posted: August 27, 2012 at 09:20 PM (#4219666)
Eckstein's hitting coach -- his brother Ricky -- happened to be on the trip.


In case anyone doesn't know, this is the Eckstein who's the Nats hitting coach.
   14. The District Attorney Posted: August 27, 2012 at 09:23 PM (#4219670)
Heh, well, I guess it's actually far weirder that David Eckstein's brother who didn't even make the majors is a hitting coach...
   15. jacjacatk Posted: August 28, 2012 at 02:23 AM (#4219821)
Heh, well, I guess it's actually far weirder that David Eckstein's brother who didn't even make the majors is a hitting coach...


Do a little reading on teaching hitting and it won't seem that odd. Being able to do something, and teaching how to do it (or even understanding how you do it, in some cases) aren't necessarily related.
   16. toratoratora Posted: August 28, 2012 at 02:53 AM (#4219826)
You have an iconic manager that really knows how to handle this team


Derail time.
"Iconic manager, eh"

Question-If the Nats win it all this year, does Davey get in the hall. Or do they need to win two in a row.
Serious question.
He's managed 16 years, finished 2nd seven times, 1st five times, won a pennant a Series and has a lifetime winning % of .588%.

He's also had the joy of managing not only two of the best young pitchers of our time (Doc, Strauss), but also two of the most ballyhooed prospects(Straw and Harper)

What's it gonna take for Davey to get the nod?
   17. Mess with the Meat, you get the Wad! Posted: August 28, 2012 at 02:57 AM (#4219828)
Also i think this helps the group think whem they asked why he wasnt getting manager gigs before this
   18. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:25 AM (#4219851)

Derail time.
"Iconic manager, eh"

Question-If the Nats win it all this year, does Davey get in the hall. Or do they need to win two in a row.
Serious question.
He's managed 16 years, finished 2nd seven times, 1st five times, won a pennant a Series and has a lifetime winning % of .588%.

He's also had the joy of managing not only two of the best young pitchers of our time (Doc, Strauss), but also two of the most ballyhooed prospects(Straw and Harper)

What's it gonna take for Davey to get the nod?


I'd give it to him. He's a fun character, and that helps if you want to be elected as a manager. Plus he was a darn good player. He's also had success in Baltimore and elsewhere.

I'd say another series puts him a little past Lou Pinella and just barely in.
   19. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:28 AM (#4219854)
Jayson could bone up on his diplomacy skills towards a former manager. Or was Riggleman an idiot?
   20. McCoy Posted: August 28, 2012 at 08:26 AM (#4219883)
When you quit on the team mid-season you aren't going to get a lot of sympathy quotes.
   21. God Posted: August 28, 2012 at 08:33 AM (#4219887)
Riggleman was also a coach for the Dodgers when Werth was there, so you'd think if he disliked him that much he'd have signed with a team other than the one Riggleman was managing.
   22. Bitter Mouse Posted: August 28, 2012 at 08:39 AM (#4219891)
I love the Bonds quote. Barry is an interesting guy and usually comes across very smart.
   23. McCoy Posted: August 28, 2012 at 08:46 AM (#4219897)
If someone is quoting Bonds and he is talking about a fellow player it is generally either bland or positive about that player. Barry Bonds very very rarely ever says anything negative publicly about his fellow players.
   24. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: August 28, 2012 at 08:53 AM (#4219904)
Also I think this helps the group think when they asked why he wasnt getting manager gigs before this.

The reason why is because whenever his bosses start thinking that they're smarter than he is, instead of being a good yes man he has a tendency to come back at them with responses like "If you're so smart, YOU manage the ****ing team."
   25. McCoy Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:00 AM (#4219910)
And he generally said that while absolutely bombed on liquor. I believe for the most part his battle with alcoholism explained most of his absence away from the game.
   26. JustDan Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:19 AM (#4219929)
Going back a bit, when Lenny Harris was the batting coach for the Nationals, he preached going to the opposite field all the time. It was frustrating to watch guys like Zimmerman attempt to punch hits there all the time.

Googling, I see that Harris was replaced by Eckstein at the end of the 2008 season. Zimmerman was regressing under Harris, but since has hit a lot better since Eckstein has been coach.
   27. God Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:23 AM (#4219933)
About 8 years ago some lady was running around saying she had a Jayson Werth sex tape she was going to release to the media. I guess it's best for all concerned parties that it never saw the light of day. It would be like watching a caveman have sex.
   28. Chris Needham Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:24 AM (#4219934)
Going back a bit, when Lenny Harris was the batting coach for the Nationals, he preached going to the opposite field all the time. It was frustrating to watch guys like Zimmerman attempt to punch hits there all the time.


A-Freaking-Men. And Lenny got the job because Mitchell Page (RIP!) drank himself out of it. Page's approach was the perfect philosophy... be patient until you see the first good pitch you see. Then whack the crap out of it. I don't know if it was coincidence or luck or whatever, but his work with Alfonso Soriano was incredible. I saw a lot of Soriano and New York, and for that one year, he really did have the discipline to lay off that slider away. He took that pitch, and either took the walk. (I think he had like 20-30 more walks that year than any other season in his carrer). Or he waited it out and smacked the bejesus out of the ball.

They want from that approach to that "happiness is a softly hit single to right". Ugh.
   29. God Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:39 AM (#4219945)
Didn't know about Davey's troubles with the bottle. Is that really what kept him out of MLB for a decade? (And why didn't it seem to bother the USA Baseball folks?)
   30. McCoy Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:44 AM (#4219952)
He took that pitch, and either took the walk. (I think he had like 20-30 more walks that year than any other season in his carrer). Or he waited it out and smacked the bejesus out of the ball.

Well, it also helps that teams were pitching around him that year. He had 16 IBB that year and I think he had a bunch more unintentional intentional walks as well.

He did layoff the first pitch a bit that year compared to his career and other years surrounding that one. But part of that is because of the IBB and UIBB.
   31. Chris Needham Posted: August 28, 2012 at 10:10 AM (#4219969)
[29] I hadn't heard that either. But Boz (who's in his pocket as much as anyone) has repeatedly talked about his health problems. I think he had pancreatis or something and was in pretty rough shape for a few years.
   32. toratoratora Posted: August 28, 2012 at 11:14 AM (#4220049)
Didn't know about Davey's troubles with the bottle. Is that really what kept him out of MLB for a decade? (And why didn't it seem to bother the USA Baseball folks?)


Jiminy Crickets-Davey even fooled God!

Seriously, I've never heard this. It would make sense, I guess, (Like drinking has ever hurt Ozzie from getting a job.)in explaining Davey's long hiatus
   33. SoSH U at work Posted: August 28, 2012 at 11:18 AM (#4220060)
I don't know about the bottle, but I think Davey's biggest problem was that he had difficulty suffering fools in the front office, yet he continually signed on to work for fools.

   34. Guapo Posted: August 28, 2012 at 11:33 AM (#4220083)
This article reviews some of Davey's trials over the last 10 years.

Money quote:

Johnson could not perform his job without his renewed health. For a decade, Johnson contended with atrial fibrillation, a heart defect requiring medication that lessened his energy and sapped his strength. In the winter of 2010, Johnson traveled to the Mayo Clinic for an ablation, a procedure that sends electrical impulses to reset the beat. The doctor told Johnson the walls of his heart were as thick as a boot.

The procedure changed everything. Johnson works out every morning and says he can lift 40 percent more weight now than two years ago. “I got a better beach body,” he said.
   35. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: August 28, 2012 at 12:04 PM (#4220113)
Davey Johnson never battled alcoholism. McCoy is just once again doing what he does best: talking out his ass and spouting complete bullsh*t. What else is new?

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