June 2013

Matt’s Bats on the West Coast

Here I am holding the 3-week old Lane.

This edition of Matt’s Bats is coming to you from the West Coast.  I’ve spent this week across the country: in San Francisco, California.

I went to SF to meet my baby cousin, Lane, for the first time. While I was in Fog City,  I was able to see sights such as AT&T Park,  the Golden Gate Bridge, the Coit Tower,  Lombard Street (between Hyde and Leavenworth), the Bay Bridge, and many more.

One of the best parts of being on the West Coast is that 7 pm is 10 pm in DC. So on Wednesday, when Ian Desmond hit his grand slam against the Phillies, I was awake to see it, when usually I am fast asleep.

So here is the play-by-play of my vacation.  I don’t have a lot of time, so I will break it down in different posts.  I also plan to write about the differences between seeing games at Nationals Park and AT&T Park, home of the 2012 World Series Giants.

Me and the Mustang at Crissy Field, near the Marina

After landing in SFO, we went to rent a car.  My dad’s rental car paper said we’d get a Toyota Corolla or a similar midsize sedan, but they didn’t have any left so we ended up getting the best car possible: a Ford Mustang Convertible!

Later that first day, we drove up and down the hills with the top down.  We drove down Lombard Street, between Hyde and Leavenworth. That block is known as the “Crookedest Street in the World.” We also went to Crissy Field, a beach near the meeting of the Presidio and the Marina District.  There are views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.  That is where I posted a picture on Twitter that we arrived in San Francisco.

At Crissy Field, I started to skip rocks in the San Francisco Bay.  I pretended that I was a played and used my best imitation of Charlie Slowes: “That ball is belted! Going, going gone goodbye. Bryce Harper got all of that ball!”

I’m 1/679,924th as tall as a Redwood!

On Tuesday, I headed to Muir Woods. Muir Woods is a national park where they have giant redwoods.  Sheesh, these trees are HUGE! I am about 5 feet tall, one tree was 359 feet taller than me.  So I’m 1/679,924th of a redwood. We did a hike for an hour.

Going there, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco into Marin County.  The bridge is 8,796 feet taller than me.

For lunch, we drove to Sausalito and I had a burger.

Wednesday we went to a Giants game.  You’ll hear more about that in the next post.  Now we have to leave my aunt’s house to do another drive.  We leave tomorrow morning and get back to DC at night.  But I am going to Nats Park on Sunday for Bryce Harper bobblehead day!


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His Favorite Letter is K: Craig Stammen

Craig Stammen is your typical long man. You need a guy, left-handed or right-handed, to swoop in and relieve the starter’s day if things aren’t going well early on, and eat up innings. The baseball term for this is perfect: the vulture.

About 365 days ago, Nationals Inside Pitch honored Stammen and Tyler Clippard for their vulture role. After the issue, Stammen became a dominant reliever in the Nats bullpen, from relieving injured starters, to closing games when Drew Storen had the day off, or to pitching extra innings games. Craig Stammen is continuing as the vulture in 2013 and may be the best reliever in the bullpen this year.

Like everyone, Craig had a long road to the majors.  Craig Stammen was born in Versailles, Ohio, on March 9, 1984, 96.1 miles away from Cincinnati. Stammen started playing ball in the Marion Little League, along with future Padres pitcher Cory Luebke. Craig graduated from Versailles High School, where he played a trio of sports- Baseball, Football, and Basketball. He attended the University of Dayton. He majored in entrepreneurship and business management. Craig also made 60 pitching appearances in 3 years at Dayton, and pitched for the Lexington Hustlers in the Great Lakes Collegiate Summer League. Craig was later named a part of UDLegends, a group of the most renowned and respected graduates of Dayton. His baseball career, though, was just getting started.

How Fox Sports announcers frequently pronounce Craig’s name.

Stammen was drafted in the 12th round of the 2005 First Year Player Draft, with other Nats such as Ryan Zimmerman and Tyler Moore, and former Nats such as Justin Maxwell (HOU), John Lannan (PHI), and Marco Estrada (MIL). Yes, the 2005 draft, with Justin Upton, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitski, Colby Rasmus, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andrew McCutchen, and Jay Bruce.

He was assigned to the Vermont Expos in the Single A New York-Penn League, where he made 7 starts and 6 relief appearances, posting a 4.06 ERA, striking out 32 while giving up 12 walks and 62 hits. All of that was done in 51 innings.

In 2006, he pitched for the low-A Savannah Sand Gnats. He also had a stint with the advanced A Potomac Nationals. In 92 innings more than 2005, accumulated a 4.03 ERA, 109 Ks, 36 walks, and 144 hits.

2007 was mostly spent in Single-A, although he made an appearance with AAA Columbus. He pitched on September 2, 2007, receiving the loss in a 6-4 Clippers deficit to the Toledo Mud Hens. he pitched 3 2/3 innings, giving up a homer to Jason Perry.  In 2009, Stammen started with AAA Syracuse, going 4-2 with a 1.80 ERA.

On May 21, 2009, Stammen made his MLB debut. The Nats won, 5-4, sparked by an Adam Dunn base hit that scored the go-ahead. In September, Stammen felt he had a sore elbow. A MRI on 9/3 showed that Stammen had a bone spur, and was shut down for the rest of ’09. He needed arthroscopic surgery.

Stammen was ready for ’12 Spring Training, after spending the summer with the Chiefs in ’11.  Stammen succeeded Spring Training, and made it onto the Opening Day Roster. He had a change, though. After spending his early career with the Nats as a starter, Stammen became a long reliever, although he recorded his 1st career save in late September against the Cardinals.

People may not know this interesting fact about Stammen: he is a sinkerballer. Along with fellow pitcher Ryan Mattheus, Stammen and Mattheus become the Sinkerballer Show, baffling hitters with the tricky pitch. He gets batters to roll over the pitch and hit ground ball outs. 

I like what I see from Stammen in 2013!



ROSS DETWILER (2-4, 2.76 ERA) VS. JEFF FRANCIS (2-4, 6.30 ERA)


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Familiar Names in the 2013 Draft

You get to be a professional baseball player because you are the best.  The players who take the field on an MLB diamond are the best from their high schools, their colleges, and their minor league teams.  Just because you are a relative of a former or active MLB player does not mean that you automatically can continue your family’s baseball legacy.  You have to work hard, be the best, and get signed.

But in the 2013 First Year Player Draft that took place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, there were a lot of players with famous family members in the MLB.  Here are a few of the almost 50 relatives of current or former MLB players who were just drafted.  They’re listed here in alphabetical order (last name).

Cavan Biggio, the son of former Houston Astros infielder/outfielder Craig Biggio, was selected by the Phillies in the 29th round (871st pick overall).  Craig Biggio played his whole career in Houston, and is probably one of the best Astros players in franchise history.  Cavan was drafted out of St. Thomas High School in Texas.

Kacy Clemens, son of former Major League pitcher Roger Clemens, selected in the 35th round (1,037th pick overall) by the Houston Astros. Roger Clemens won seven Cy Young awards, 6 in the AL. Kacy was drafted out of Memorial High School in Texas.  Roger “Rocket” Clemens pitched for the Astros from 2004-2006, and is now Special Assistant to the General Manager.

 J.P. Crawford, No. 19 on MLB.com’s Top 100 Draft Prospects list
J.P. Crawford is the cousin of Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford.  J.P. was selected in the first round (16th overall) by the Phillies. Through 2011, Carl Crawford had the third best fielding percentage (.990) among all active LFs. J.P. is a short stop who was drafted out of Lakewood HS near Long Beach, California.


Bucky Dent hit .417 in the ’78 World Series, helping the Yankees defeat the Dodgers in that series, four games to two. He famously hit a go-ahead home run over the Green Monster in a playoff game as a Yankee in Boston. Bucky Dent was drafted 6th overall in the 1970 draft.  His son is now in the Nats organization, drafted 676th overall.


Current Red Sox manager, John Farrell, has the same birthday as Barack Obama, but he’s one year younger. He pitched for the Cleveland Indians, California Angels, and Detroit Tigers. John has 3 kids, and all of his children have been drafted in previous years. Now, his youngest son Luke was drafted 174th overall by the Kansas City Royals.


Jacob Heyward, brother of Atlanta outfielder Jason Heyward, selected in the 38th round (1,153rd overall pick) by the Braves. Jacob was drafted out of Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in Georgia.  Wouldn’t it be crazy if Jacob makes it to the big league club and his brother is still playing for the team?  Maybe after the Upton brothers patrol the outfield for Atlanta, then the Heyward brothers could too!

Torii Hunter Jr, Son of Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter Sr., was selected in the 36th round by the Tigers. So both father and son play for the Tigers!  Hunter hit 3 grand salamis in 2007, more slams than the Nats hit in all of 2012 (both of the Nats were by Michael Morse).

Mark Leiter, Jr., is a relative of two former MLB players.  Mark is the son of former pitcher Mark Leiter and nephew of former pitcher Al Leiter.  Al Leiter is now an analyst for MLB Network.  Mark Jr. was selected in the 22nd round by the Phillies. Al Leiter pitch back-to-back no-hitters in high school. Mark Jr. was drafted out of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.


Chicago White Sox legend Shoeless Joe Jackson was a great player, but ended up being banned from professional baseball for life for throwing the 1919 World Series. Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned Joe and seven other White Sox from baseball for life.  Even though he has the third highest lifetime batting average, he cannot be in the Hall of Fame.  Almost 100 years later, his great-great nephew, also named Joe Jackson, was just drafted by the Texas Rangers.


Lee Mazzilli was a hero player for the Mets in the 1980s. He played either center or first. And he helped the Mets win the 1986 World Series. Lee was picked 14th overall by the Mets in ’73. L.J. was picked 114th overall in the 2013 draft out of the University of Connecticut.

Dillon is the son of former Major League pitcher Jamie Moyer.  Last year, Jamie Moyer became the oldest player in the major leagues and had the most wins, losses, and strikeouts of any pitcher.  He also has the record for the oldest major league player to get an RBI.  Dillon is on his way to set some records.  He plays short stop for U.C. San Diego.  He was selected by the Dodgers in the 38th round.  His father Jamie pitched for 9 teams, but never played for the Dodgers. 


Josh Pettitte, son of Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, was just selected in the draft.  He was the 1,124th pick.  Like his dad, he was picked by the Yankees. 

Jordan Sheffield, nephew of former Major League outfielder Gary Sheffield was selected in the 13th round (383rd pick overall) by the Red Sox. Gary’s uncle was Dwight Gooden, which means Jordan’s great uncle was an awesome pitcher for the Mets. Jordan was drafted out of Tullahoma High School in Tennessee.


Justin Verlander has won the MVP, Cy Young Award, and the Pitching Triple Crown all in one year– 2011.  Maybe the Tigers thought that if Justin was such an excellent pitcher, his brother would be just as excellent as an outfielder.  Ben was taken 426th overall by Detroit.

Carl Yastremski was an all around baseball player– so of course he won the 1967 AL Batting Triple Crown. And it took 45 years for the next player to win the triple crown– Miguel Cabrera in 2012. Carl became a Red Sox player in 1961, and Mike was drafted 429th overall by Baltimore more than 50 years later.

Cody Yount is the son of former Major League pitcher Larry Young and nephew of Hall of Famer Robin Yount.  Cody was as the White Sox’s 37th round pick out of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Some current Nationals players also have family history in Major League Baseball.  They include:

  • Jayson Werth (grandson of Ducky Schofield and nephew of Dick Schofield, and stepson of Dennis Werth)
  • Steve Lombardozzi (son of Steve Lombardozzi, Sr.)
  • Adam LaRoche (son of Dave LaRoche and brother of Andy LaRoche)
  • Ian Desmond (brother-in-law of  Josh Roenicke)

In the Nats minor league system, some players with famous relatives are:

  • Brian Harper (brother of Bryce Harper)
  • Cutter Dykstra (son of Lenny Dykstra)
  • Lukas Schiraldi (a new draftee) (son of Calvin Schiraldi)

Are there any others I forgot?  Leave a comment below or tweet me if I did (@MattsBats).



DAN HAREN (4-7, 5.45 ERA) VS. JHOULYS CHACIN (3-3, 3.95 ERA)

The biggest problem is that Dan Haren might give up monster bombs to Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitski, Dexter Fowler and Todd Helton at Coors Field in the Rocky Mountain altitude.


 Let other baseball fans know about my blog (www.mattsbats.com) and Twitter (@MattsBats).  I write almost every day about baseball, and especially the Washington Nationals.  I love getting new followers and RTs.  If you want to receive an email whenever there is a new post you can SUBSCRIBE HERE.


Nats Make Some Big Roster Moves

There have been so many names splattered on the Nationals’ Disabled List this young season that it looks like a Jackson Pollock painting.  Wilson Ramos, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Mattheus, Bryce Harper, Christian Garcia, Ross Detwiler, Stephen Strasburg (maybe) and now Danny Espinosa all have spent time off in 2013 with injuries.

To deal with the loss of these key players, the Nats have had to call up Anthony Rendon, Jeff Kobernus, Erik Davis, Jhonatan Solano, Fernando Abad, and Nathan Karns to replace the injured guys on the ballclub.

Yesterday, Tuesday, June 4th, was the “call up and send down” day for the Nats. GM Mike Rizzo called up LHP Ian Krol from AA Harrisburg, and INF Anthony Rendon, who was just moved up to the AAA Syracuse team last week to learn second base. At the same time, the Nats put their starting second baseman, Danny Espinosa, on the 15-Day DL for his broken wrist. On April 14, Espinosa got hit in the wrist by a pitch from Paul Maholm. He stayed in the game, but what Davey Johnson and trainer Landon Brandes didn’t know is that Espi had a broken wrist. He spent time off, came back in Game #1 in Baltimore, and probably will get surgery on his wrist.  Danny had been playing his usual great defense, but his hitting was off because he was injured in his wrist and his shoulder is not 100%. 

The Nats also made some cuts.  They designated LHP Zach Duke and RHP Henry Rodriguez for assignment.  At the same time, the activated RF Jayson Werth from the disabled list.  The cuts were needed in the bullpen, which has struggled.  But it’s a sad day for the players and fans when people are cut from the team.  Zach Duke and Henry Rodriguez were struggling out of the bullpen. Zach Duke actually started a game in 2013, but the Giants crushed him 8-0. On April 28 Henry Rodriguez did the 2 things a pitcher hates to do- walk the bases loaded and almost get hit in the back of the head on a wild pitch that ricocheted off the wall at him like John Wilkes Booth did when he assassinated Lincoln. 

With the designation of Duke, Krol is most likely to pitch out of the Washington ‘pen. Krol is a lefty who has done well this season in Harrisburg.  Krol came to Washington as a Player to Be Named Later from Oakland to complete the Michael Morse trade (Morse was traded to Oakland for the PTBNL, and then Oakland traded Morse to Seattle).  Krol did not make an appearance in Tuesday’s 3-2 win over New York, but with Dan Haren getting the Nats’ start today, a righty, Krol will be a candidate to pitch. Krol was drafted by the A’s in the 7th round of the 2009 June Amateur Draft.

And now, Anthony Rendon comes back to DC after replacing the once-injured Ryan Zimmerman at third in April. Rendon hit .240 with 1 RBI, 6 hits, 5 of them singles, 1 double, no homers, a .647 OPS, a .280 SLG, and a .367 OBP. Rendon’s first hit was on April 22 of STL pitcher Shelby Miller. It looks like he’s a candidate to play second, but Steve Lombardozzi has been doing a fine job there too and had some big hits in recent games.  Lombo got the walk-off SAC fly last night.

The Nats activated their veteran outfielder, Jayson Werth, who has played 1,034 games for Toronto, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington. Werth mobbed Steve Lombardozzi last night after Lombo’s walk off.  That walk off was great for Nats fans.  There hadn’t been one yet this year.  The last Nats walk-off was when Werth was getting mobbed himself in the NLDS Game 4 on 10/10/12.



DILLON GEE (3-6, 5.68 ERA) VS. DAN HAREN (4-6, 5.09 ERA)

ROOKIES OF THE DAY (Rookies from around the league doing big things)

NL: DODGERS OF YASIEL PUIG (Hit his first 2 major league home runs to beat the Padres 9-7).

AL: RED SOX OF JACKIE BRADLEY, JR (Hit his first major league home run to beat the Rangers 17-5)

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Welcome to the Bigs, Nathan Karns and Erik Davis!

The Nationals, poisoned with injuries in early 2013, called up 2 important rookies this week: pitchers Nathan Karns and Erik Davis. Davis made his debut Sunday at Atlanta pitching two scoreless innings of relief, while Karns debuted as a starter on May 28 against Baltimore.

Erik Davis was drafted in the 13th round by the San Diego Padres, out of Stanford University. Davis pitched alongside Drew Storen.  He has been pitching in the Nats AAA Syracuse team this year and last. He’s been 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA in Syracuse this year. 

Nathan Karns was drafted in the 12th round of the 2009 June Amateur Draft by the Nats, but he was also drafted by the Houston Astros in the 10th round of the 2006 June Amateur Draft. He smartly signed with the Nationals.  He went to Texas Tech and has been pitching in the Nationals’ AA Harrisburg team this year before his call-up.  He made his MLB debut in a spot start when Ross Detwiler went on the DL on May 28.  Karns pitched well against the Orioles, but gave up home runs to Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy.  That’s not so bad, because probably every starting pitcher has given up a home run to Chris Davis by this point.  The Nats won the game 9-3, but he didn’t get credited with the win because he came out of the game with 1 out in the 5th, and Zach Duke got the next 2 outs and was given the win. 

Karns started again in Detwiler’s place on Sunday in Atlanta.  He was credited with the 6-3 loss to the Braves, but he struck out 6 batters in 4 2/3 innings.  Pretty good!  Again, he gave up 2 home runs in the Braves game.  In total, Karns has pitched nine innings, giving up 7 runs. Six of them were earned. The unearned run came on Sunday when Ryan Zimmerman had a throwing error that allowed Andrelton Simmons to go to first. Then, one of the rarest things in baseball happened: Ramiro Pena hit a homer.  He’s pitched both games in bad weather, so I think he is going to settle in next time out against the struggling Twins.  If Detwiler is out for a while, Karns will make three of his first 4 starts against AL teams (Orioles, Twins, and Indians).

Together, Karns and Davis create a force in the Nats pitching staff.  Although he has only played one game, Davis has been perfect.  Literally.  He hasn’t allowed a hit  That’s important for a rookie.

They also represent an upgrade to the current pitching staff.  Karns and Davis have both pitched better than bullpen regulars Zach Duke and Henry Rodriguez.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Duke and Rodriguez were sent back to the minors or traded and Karns and Davis were made permanent call-ups on the big league team.  Karns could slip easily into Duke’s role of long reliever when Detwiler comes back.  He and Stammen have both been great in that role, but it is nice to have a lefty (which Karns is not).  Davis has made 1 MLB appearance, but he definitely looks better than Rodriguez who can throw a fastball 100 mph but usually not in the strike zone.

The stars of tomorrow are important to needy franchises early in the year.  I hope we get to see Karns and Davis a lot more.


METS @ NATS (6/4/13)


Tracking the Braves, they take on the fearsome Pirates who have one of the top 3 records in the National League.  This is a chance for the Nats to gain some ground on the Braves if we can pull off some wins and the Braves get handed some losses.

A.J. BURNETT (3-5, 2.72 ERA) VS. KRIS MEDLEN 1-6, 3.48 ERA)

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