Are the Twins, A's and Nationals for real?

The Twins, Athletics and Nationals have toiled at the bottom pretty much all year, but each has turned it around, suddenly making us wonder if they're legit, or if their current state is just an anomaly.
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Wire Taps: Washington Nationals Get Day Of Rest Before Seattle Mariners Come To D.C.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals makes a catch against the Baltimore Orioles in the seventh inning at Nationals Park on June 19, 2011 in Washington, DC. The Baltimore Orioles won, 7-4. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

• Programming Notes: The Washington Nationals have a Monday off after their eight-game win-streak was ended by the Orioles on Sunday afternoon. Ryan Zimmerman's back. His arm?Tom Gorzelanny's back, though he struggled to keep his pitches down (by his own admission) in Sunday's loss. Bryce Harper sat out again on Sunday, but he'll be in the SAL All-Star Game and HR Derby on Tuesday night when the Nats are taking on the Mariners in Nats Park. Til then, here are some links to keep you busy...

• LINKS AND LINKS AND...

• NATS BEAT: 

• "Said General Manager Mike Rizzo: 'Right now, he’s part of the Hagerstown team until we feel that he needs to move.'" -"Bryce Harper rests to finish the first half" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "Jayson Werth: "We've been playing good ball. We dropped a game today but we won the series and we're having a good homestand." - "Reaction from the Nationals first loss in 10 days" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "If Zimmerman's error set the tone, Tom Gorzelanny's struggles on the mound prolonged it." - "Orioles win, end Nats streak at 8" - Mark Zuckerman, CSNWashington.com

• "No one in the Nationals' clubhouse seemed too concerned with the effects of the loss beyond today's game, and after they'd just won eight straight games, there's probably not much reason to be." - "Nationals' streak ends with mistake-filled loss to Orioles" - Ben Goessling, MASNSports.com

• "We're growing up a little bit. We still have a relatively young team with guys that are learning to play, including myself," said Zimmerman..." - "Seattle Mariners at Washington Nationals: Mariners travel east for Interleage tilt with Nats" - Tom Singer, MLB.com Preview

• "The platoon favors [Wilson] Ramos, and [Pudge] Rodriguez has been his perfect tutor, especially with the biggest statistic for a catcher being caught-stealing numbers." - "Rodriguez, Ramos catching runners at high percentage" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "'With Rick [Ankiel], we've played with 24 players for a long time, but the trainer wasn't sure if it was going to be two days or three days,' Rizzo said." - "Rib-cage injury sends Ankiel to DL" - Bill Ladson and Steven Miller, Nationals.com: News

• "Nats Insider: Video: Catching up with Jerry Hairston" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "'I’ve been saying for a long time, you put a good product on the field and start winning ballgames and the fans will show up,' Werth said." - "Jayson Werth was liking the Nationals Park crowds this weekend" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "The great mystery of the newly rejuvenated Nationals isn't that they're now getting a whiff of the break-even mark." - "A good day for exercise" - Phil Wood, MASNSports.com

• "Even thought the Nationals’ season-best winning streak came to a halt, they enter Monday’s off day having won of 13 of their past 19." - "Gorzelannny rocky in return; Nats' 8-game win streak ends" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "'I felt healthy and strong, had a lot of energy,' Gorzelanny said. 'I felt good out there today, I was just leaving balls up.'" - "Baltimore Orioles at Washington Nationals: Nats make three errors in streak-ending loss" - Steven Miller, MLB.com WSH Recap

• NATS MINOR LEAGUE UPDATES: 

• Class-A Auburn: "Powered by early offense and solid bullpen work, the Auburn Doubledays took the first series of the season by beating Batavia, 6-4 this afternoon." - "Bullpen, offense leads Doubledays to series win" - Auburn Doubledays News

Class-A Hagerstown: "[Bryce] Harper will travel to Salisbury, Md., and is expected to play in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on Tuesday." - "Harper thumb update and P-Nats notes" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• Class-A Hagerstown: Sammy Solis - 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K's; 11-4 Suns over Shorebirds - Hagerstown Suns Scoreboard

Class-A Potomac: "A sixth-round pick by Washington in the 2008 Draft, Demny was perfect until he issued a two-out walk to Daniel Butler in the fourth inning." - "P-Nats' Demny outduels Ranaudo" - Robert Emrich, MiLB.com News

Double-A Harrisburg: "Brad Peacock went the distance in game one, earning his eighth win of the year against two loses. He allowed three runs on four hits while striking out seven." - "Senators sweep two from Altoona" - Terry Byrom, Harrisburg Senators News

Triple-A Syracuse: "Syracuse scored the game's first three runs thanks to center fielder Corey Brown, who collected the Chiefs' second multi-homer game of the year." - "Knights edge Chiefs in 10-9 slugfest" - Syracuse Chiefs News

• Triple-A Syracuse: [AUDIO] - "Syracuse Chiefs Inside Pitch: Getting To Know the Chiefs: Tug Hulett

• "Erik Arnesen did everything he possibly could to carry a feeble Harrisburg offense to victory. He offered a quality six innings. He got a hit." - "Monday’s News & Notes" - Sue Dinem, NationalsProspects.com

• "The Nats have now signed 3 picks from the first 10 rounds, 6 out of the top 20 and either 18 or 19 overall..." - "10 more Nats draft pick signings" - Sean Hogan, DC is for Baseball

• "He doesn't show up on top prospect lists, but he has exceptional command and has ridden this skill to the cusp of the major leagues." - "Prospect of the Day: Tom Milone, LHP, Washington Nationals" - John Sickels, Minor League Ball

SHARKNATSTOWN: 

• "Since Shark Night on Tuesday, when we met up with the Shark after the game, Bernadina has batted 11-24 (.458 avg) with 3 home runs and 6 RBIs, while sporting a 6-game hit streak." - "Shark rocks, but Nats fall" - Sharkadina: Roger Bernadina's Unofficial Blog

• NATSTOWN: 

• "You are going to hear a lot of talk about him in the MSM in the next few weeks leading up to the All-Star Game, deservedly so." - "More Morse" - Mac, Capitol Baseball

• "2011 Washington Nationals Dream Gala (Photos)" - MissChatter : The Chatter Files

• "Tom Gorzelanny’s return from the DL was poor: he failed to get out of the 5th inning and got pounded by the Orioles to end the Nats 8-game winning streak on 6/19." - "Nats Rotation Cycle #15: good/bad/soso" - Nationals Arm Race

• "On top of all that, Tom Gorzelanny, making his first start since being activated from the 15-day Disabled List due to soreness in his left elbow, was completely ineffective." - "GAME 72 REVIEW: O's Say Eight Is Enough; Beat Nats 7-4" - Dave Nichols, NatsNewsNetwork

• "Bet you a dollar Michael Morse had his Beast Mode t-shirt on under his tux during the Nationals Dream Foundation Gala Saturday night." - "Michael Morse in a tux" - Nats Enquirer.com

• "So the next question is: what's next, Nationals? What comes now that the streak, the best the team has had since 2009, is over?" - "Winning Streak Means Time Is Now For Washington Nationals To Make Big Decisions" - Andrew Kinback, SB Nation DC

• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama): "If you treat people as brothers or sisters, they respond accordingly."

•  NL EAST UPDATES: 

Braves: "With the emergence of Jordan Schafer in center field and everyday left fielder Martin Prado on the DL, McLouth's temporary move to left was necessary." - "McLouth activated off DL, starts in left field" Chris Cox, braves.com

Mets"'He's hit so many triples,' teammate Willie Harris said, 'to the point where it's raising questions.'" - "Mets' Jose Reyes having a historic season for triples" - Anthony DiComo, mets.com: News

Phillies: "As legend has it, Manuel was known as "Aka-Oni" or The Red Devil by Japanese fans and teammates." - "Charlie Manuel Can Still Speak Japanese (Allegedly)" - Enrico Campitelli, The 700 Level

Marlins: "Born Nov. 23, 1930, he is older than the Hall of Fame managers Whitey Herzog and Sparky Anderson, who retired in 1990 and 1995." - "How Old Is Jack McKeon?" -Benjamin Hoffman, NYTimes.com


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Nats Farm Report for Week Ending June 19

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Video: Catching up with Jerry Hairston

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Michael Morse in a tux

Dream Gala

(The opposite of Beast Mode? Michael Morse in a tuxedo. Photo courtesy of Miss Chatter/Flikr.) 

Bet you a dollar Michael Morse had his Beast Mode t-shirt on under his tux during the Nationals Dream Foundation Gala Saturday night.

Off day today for the Nats, and the .500 dream will just have to wait until at least Wednesday against the Mariners; and with the Mariners in town, please don't forget to give thanks for that June 2009 Ryan Langerhans-for-Michael Morse trade. Thank you, Mariners.

If you're bored and looking for something to do today, go over and write in a vote for Michael Morse for the All Star Game here.

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Jayson Werth was liking the Nationals Park crowds this weekend

Over the weekend, Nationals Park was more packed than it has been at any time this season. The series attendance total for Nationals-Orioles came to more than 107,000. Sunday, cars were parked on the roof of the garage out beyond center field, a rarity and a sign of a large crowd. The presence of all those fans thrilled at least one Nationals player.

“I thought it was awesome,” Jayson Werth said.

The big crowds over the weekend, of course, had as much to do with the opponent as the Nationals’ recent surge. This is an estimate, but judging by crowd noise and the colors in the stands, it seemed like about three-quarters of Sunday’s crowd was Nationals* fans. And as for those cars on the roof, folks from Baltimore are more likely to drive than Nationals fan in D.C.

Read full article >>

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Wire Taps: Washington Nationals/B.J. Upton A Quick Review Of The Rumors.

Rumors are flying about Tampa Bay Rays center fielder B.J. Upton. Are the Washington Nationals trying to deal for the outfielder? (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

As far back as April 2010, when the Washington Nationals were casting about for a replacement for then-recently-released right fielder Elijah Dukes, Tampa Bay Rays' outfielder B.J. Upton's name came up in discussions, with MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling writing in a 4/3/10 article entitled, "As Nats enter the season, status quo in right field", that the Nats, according to a "club source", had reached out to Milwaukee (to ask about Corey Hart), Chicago (to talk about the Cubs' Kosuke Fukudome) and the Rays, though he wrote that the Nationals, "came away feeling Tampa Bay wouldn't part with the 24-year-old speedster [Upton] unless it was out of the AL East race this summer."

A little over a year later, on April 18, 2011, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthalin an article entitled, "Nationals: Seeking help in center," wrote that he expected to hear, "...the Nats to be linked to any and all available center fielders," this season since they'd dealt Nyjer Morgan and weren't sold on either Roger Bernadina, Rick Ankiel or any other in-house options as the solution for their center field and leadoff issues...

Among the potentially available outfield options, according to Mr. Rosenthal, was B.J. Upton, though Tampa Bay was saying they would, "...not entertain moving Upton unless they fall out of contention," at which point Washington would, "...hardly will be the only team interested." The Nats, according to a source with the team who spoke to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's a day after the Rosenthal rumors went into print, were scouting Upton at the time, they admitted, but, as Mr. Ladson wrote, "The source pointed out that it was routine scouting that is normally done during the season. The Nationals have not had any talks with the Rays about Upton."

Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo's was next, reporting in the 4/21/11 edition of his weekly Sunday MLB column, "Baseball Notes", that "major league evaluators" had informed him that the, "Rays [will be] exploring a deal for Upton if they should fall out of contention, or even if they’re in contention," if they can, "...make a deal similar to the one they made involving Matt Garza, in which they received good talent, including Sam Fuld."

In a May 31st blog post by MLB.com's Bill Ladson entitled, "Nats looking for center fielder, leadoff hitter", the Nats beat writer for Major League Baseball wrote that the Nationals were in the market for a center fielder/leadoff hitter, "... according to a baseball source, who also said the club [was] willing to overpay to get what they want." On June 5th, MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported that the Nats felt Rays' center fielder could fill that role in D.C. in a blog post entitled, "Nats continue to have interest in Upton", Mr. Ladson wrote that his sources were telling him that the Nationals consider Upton, "an excellent defensive center fielder" and, "according to the source, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo believes a change of scenery would help Upton’s career."

Last week it was FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal angering Nationals fan all over NatsTown when he talked Tyler Clippard to Tampa Bay in an article entitled, "Trade Thoughts: Rangers, Nationals", in which he wrote that Washington could, "...make a [B.J.] Upton deal work," if they were willing to part with, "...right-handed setup man Tyler Clippard and a young position prospect perhaps." But is Upton even available? 

ESPN.com's Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) tweeted Sunday night that, "The Rays will listen to offers on B.J. Upton --but probably won't trade him unless they can get a good bat in trade (not nec. in same trade)." In this week's edition of Boston Globe.com writer Nick Cafardo's Sunday "Baseball Notes" column entitled, "In a renaissance of pitching, artists paint the corners", Mr. Cafardo writes that deciding what to do with Upton has been a, "should-we-or-shouldn’t-we-trade-him dilemma for the Rays,":

"The Nationals, for one, want a young center fielder they can grow with. Many believe Upton will smooth out and be that guy. So is he available? All signs point to yes."

Upton's posted a .216/.300/.361 line so far this season, down from .300/.386/.508 in '07, 273/.383/.401 in '08, .241/.313/.373 in '09, .237/.322/.424 last season, and .256/.341/.408 on his career. Upton's BABIP's fallen from .393 in '07 to .344 in '08, .310 in '09 and .304 in 2010 to .262 this season. The '02 1st Round pick, taken second overall that year, did hit 18 HR's last season, the second-highest HR total of his career, and he did steal 42 bases in 51 attempts. A +5.0 WAR in 2008 dropped to 3.9 last season (Roger Bernadina was worth +0.5 WAR in 2010, Rick Ankiel +0.8), and this year Upton's played at a +0.5 WAR to the Shark's +0.3 WAR and Ankiel's -0.1 WAR. 

How much of an improvement is Upton over the Nats' in-house options? Is a change of scenery enough to help the now-26-year-old outfielder reverse the steady decline in production he's experienced over the last few seasons? Will playing close to his childhood home in Virginia and alongside his childhood teammate and friend Ryan Zimmerman help Upton turn things around? Is it even worth discussing Upton based on a few rumors? For over a year now the Nats and Upton have been mentioned together in rumors from sources and writers around the country. If the Rays wanted a significant return on their '02 1st Round pick, maybe they should have traded him last season. Can D.C. GM Mike Rizzo get a good deal on Upton now that his value has dropped some? Do the Nats' need another lightning-quick, light-hitting, plus defender? He is a right-handed bat at least...

• Another Note: The Upton talk is not the only time the Nationals were mentioned in Mr. Cafardo's "Updates on nine", this week. No. 9 on the list is Milwaukee Brewers' first baseman Prince Fielder, about whom the Boston Globe baseball writer writes:

"One man’s opinion: The Nationals will emerge as a major suitor for Fielder. There’s an amiable relationship between them and Scott Boras, they need a big-name power hitter, and they are an emerging team with Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, and Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals are the "team of the future’’ and at age 27, Fielder is still a young man who can put people in the seats."


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Livan, Nats look to start new streak

The Nationals' big test begins now: Eight-game winning streaks become products of momentum. But how do you respond when the streak ends? Washington will have a chance to find out in Tuesday night's series opener against the Seattle Mariners, always a tough Interleague foe.
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GORZELOUSY

20110619 

(Tom Gorzelanny returns to the dugout after a poor showing in his return from the DL. Screen grab of TV/MASN.)

"You don't deserve to win when you play like that."
(Ryan Zimmerman, via CSNWashington.com, 6/19/2011)

Battle of the Beltways 2011 ends in a draw.

Orioles 7, Nationals 4: Winning streak dead at 8, .500 dream deferred for another day, thanks in no small part to Tom Gorzelanny and the defense.

4.2 IP, 10 H, 1 BB, 5 R, 4 ER: was that Tom Gorzelanny, or Yunesky Maya?

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GAME 72 REVIEW: O’s Say Eight Is Enough; Beat Nats 7-4

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