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Game 72 discussion thread: Nationals vs. Royals

The most puzzling aspect of the Nationals' opening months may have been Nyjer Morgan's defense. After he arrived from the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, Morgan was one of the best defensive player in the majors. Defense, the saying goes, doesn't slump. In April and May, though, Morgan cost the Nationals more than he helped. He stopped making highlights and started making people scratch their heads.

This month, though, Morgan has played more like the electric outfielder he was last season. Morgan's UZR/150 this year is -7.3, which actually represents a drastic recent improvement. At the start of June, Morgan's UZR/150 was -12.1. He will not likely approach his outstanding 39.4 UZR/150 from last season, but if he continues on his current pace he will again be a run-preventing force in center field.

Today, Morgan allowed that he feels better now than earlier in the season. "It's starting to come a little bit," Morgan said. "I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable than I was the first maybe month or so. I feel just fine."

Morgan missed the final month and a half of last season with a broken hand. In spring training, he did not play defense for roughly two weeks with a hamstring injury. Morgan never used it as an excuse, but the missed time may have affected him.

"I've just got a better feel for stuff out there," Morgan said. "Just had to get a lot of rust off, I guess. I just needed to get my reps. I didn't have my timing right out there in that first month. I feel right at home now, like I was last year when I first got traded over here."

Morgan will try to help Luis Atilano lift the Nationals to their first back-to-back victories since they swept the Pirates on June 10. The Nationals will face Anthony Lerew, who is making his second start this season and the seventh start of his career. Talk about it right here.

By Adam Kilgore  |  June 22, 2010; 6:45 PM ET
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Oh please -- what is he hitting? What's his OBP (including his mindless pick offs etc)?

Posted by: swanni | June 22, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang- Yikes!-park looks empty, so I'm gonna wander over (I live on the Hill). Much as I enjoy the Silver Fox.......
Also-we need to come up with a tee-shirt identifying ourselves as both Nats AND NJ fans (Insider an Ben G as well?),,,so's we can I.D. one another when we're at the Yard. There are some sites where you can have a logo on file and then order kinda neat to meet live, IMHO-as long as the "disputes" didn't carry over! Mebbe Adam could talk to the Post? (Who knows? Hey,the Post can become tee-shirt vendors-as the news vending bizz seems to be in steep decline...)
On another note, I saw my pal dargreg lamenting the seeming lack of a "fiery" player on our squad (where have you gone, Frankie Robinson?) and I got to thinking- ARE there any in the game anymore? Not saying you have to be that way to play right/lead/inspire, but...heard some sports talk guys talking about the U.S. open and how, Tiger (due to his recent issues) excluded-Phil, Els...could you see a Watson or Nick or any of the past greats having such poor last rounds in a major, when they were so close? The point they were making was that the modern athlete is so well off, is GOOD for 'em-that they just don't have that same fire. Not that they don't wanna win, or that they're not competitive.... BUT. See where I'm going here?
So-who ARE the fire breathers in todays' game? And again, I'm NOT saying that that's the only valid way of inspiring your team.
Any nominees, gang? (And Not the guys who are just plain angry,,,and end up alienating as many teammates as they inspire).
Go Nats!!!
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | June 22, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm really worried our hitters are going to be mesmerized by this guy's sideburns.

He looks like half of my graduation class from high school back in the 70's...

Posted by: baltova1 | June 22, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

zendo, starting off the night as an instigator, are ya??? ;-)

I think part of this "calmness" is the 24/7 sports news cycle which catches every breath, glance or aside for the professional athlete. I think that takes a lot out of natural athletes because they always have to be "on" and anything they might say that is "fiery" becomes fodder for bloggers and media and everyone in the netosphere.

It doesn't mean there isn't a place for fire, but rather, fire is more behind closed doors. The Kobe style fire that is behind the scenes more now. In baseball, I would've put Clemens in that category, when he's pitching, he was taking on all comers!

Posted by: mo_dc | June 22, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm getting some Bernadina stock. He goes right back up the middle with everything. Completely basic. And effective. .290. Morgan on the sac fly. Good job. He's still not a full-time player.

Posted by: Brue | June 22, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Bernadina. Put him in center and let Morse go to town in RF. I cannot for the life of me understand why they are sticking with Morgan (whom I like) when he continues to often play brain dead baseball. Yeah, his D is coming around but Bernadina is an excellent CF, has a better arm and Morse gives some pop. But I guess that's why baseball people get paid more than me.

Posted by: Natstoyou | June 22, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

and we're back!

Posted by: mo_dc | June 22, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Willingham is killing the ball tonight. Bats are coming alive and Strasburg is on the hill tomorrow. Nothing like a sweep to break out of a losing streak

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | June 22, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

I've never seen a fan base so quick to jump off the bandwagon when a player is having a slump i'll say this here and now Morgan is a major league caliber ballplayer, we all got spoiled last year and now we expect the guy to duplicate last season, tell you what he'll hit .280 45 steals and improve his OBP!!.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 22, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

agree 100% with you dragregmag people around here are very "what have you done for me lately"

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | June 22, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

That looked pretty easy. Another inning for Storen? Wouldn't follow Riggs schedule but I'd be inclined to send him out again.

Posted by: marathoner | June 22, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

My bad. I guess that's why Riggs has his schedule and I'm watching on TV.

Posted by: marathoner | June 22, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm not jumping off the bandwagon, but I wouldn't mind seeing Morgan and Bernie switch places in the order. Keep Nyjer in CF if his defense is coming around, but why the deuce is he batting leadoff? Two more *solo* shots by the meat of the order ...

Posted by: reddog278 | June 22, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

PS - Clip and save (did anyone see if those t-shirts got passed out the gates tonight?)

Posted by: reddog278 | June 22, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Carp and Dibble making excuses for Kennedy on that ball hit by DeJesus,it was a tailor made double play ball "scorched" or not it was hit right to him had it not been for Clip making another hold i would place the blame right at the feet of Adam Kennedy, and now Carp talking about placing a star next to AK's name for taking that hard shot....................... "oh poor baby want mommy to kiss it and make it all better" give me a fu_ _in break!!!!!.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 22, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Madd Capps! Majors-leading 21st save. What I love about the guy is his high fastball leads to my fast highball. Drink up, all. Barkeep, the bourbon and Maalox are on me. Let's sweep these Royals out the door tomorrow, Jesus.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | June 22, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Guzman's lack of range really hurt tonight in the 9th. While those 2 balls weren't lollipops, they were playable and turned into the 2 baserunners who eventually scored.

Serious heartburn from Capps tonight, but nice to see/hear the crowd getting into it in the 9th!

Curly W!

Posted by: mo_dc | June 22, 2010 11:00 PM | Report abuse

well, dargramps, if it's worth anything to you, Charlie and Dave were cutting Kennedy no such slack.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 22, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

2 observations:
Bottom 4th, bases loaded none out and Atilano up. The skies are turning black and there's about to be a long rain delay. Pitchers never do well and some never even return after a rain delay. I know Ati was pitching well and wouldn't have gotten the win if he was removed at that point, but you've got to think ahead and a little outside the box here knowing the game is about to be stopped for awhile. Atilano should have been pinch hit for by Morse. Sure enough he struck out and we were lucky to get 1 run out of the inning and he only lasted 1 more inning because of the delay. Think ahead. Morse could have blown the game wide open there.

Next: How long are we going to tolerate non-errors errors by Kennedy on blown double plays. The guy is simply awful in the field. Thought he wa supposed to be a defensive wizard. He never gets called for the errors because he gets one out but he blows so many sure double plays. Some have cost us the game. Last night it could have but luckily it didn't. But he simply can't field routine hard grounders. Enough already.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 22, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

I don't think you'll find many supporters, dove, on lifting Atilano in the 4th. Hindsight is perfect, we know, but a lot of times what looks like heavy rain turns out out be a few sprinkles. And your move would have taxed the 'pen even more.

This is the NL. Pitchers hit. Situations like this are going to come up. Riggs is not a weatherman. Ya gotta live with it.

And all's well that ends well, a bard (not Josh) once said.

Posted by: nats24 | June 23, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

New things that seem to be working out ok or better in addition to Strasburg: Pudge, Guzman at 2d, Dunn at first, the bullpen, Bernadina as a starter. Coming up: is Morse for real as an everyday big league player?

Posted by: markfromark | June 23, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Considering that the Nats two top starters coming into the season are on the disabled list or the minors (Marquis, Lannan) and a 3rd starter has been hurt much of the season (Olsen), it is pretty amazing the Nats have been close to .500 all season. I would like to see Rizzo make a deal prior to the trade deadline for a veteran starter in the last year of his deal to stabilize the rotation.

Bigger issue facing Rizzo, Kasten, and the Lerners is the monster season being put up by Adam Dunn. He's on pace for a 40-HR, 100 RBI season and has been adequate at 1st. Trying to replace his big bat in the lineup would be a major undertaking. I would have thought the Nats would have been more aggressive in getting him under contract for 3 to 4 years but they have not been doing much to date.

Posted by: wizfan89 | June 23, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Our local radio station (Nebraska) broadcasts the Royals. Their announcers' take on Nats pitching this year focused on one thing: injuries. They were pretty complimentary of the team with one exception: Morgan (lot of speed, can't get on base). They made an interesting comment on Desmond. They called him the "shorstop of the future" and then followed that remark by saying the jury was still out on whether that would be the case or not. It was interesting to hear their take on the Nats. They were pretty positive about the progress the Nats are making.

Posted by: fpcsteve | June 23, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

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