Wire Taps: Washington Nationals Trade Rumors – Tyler Clippard, Todd Coffey.

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 03:  Pitcher Tyler Clippard #36 of the Washington Nationals warms up prior to the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on June 3, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Todd Coffey and Tyler Clippard's names have been mentioned often in recent rumors revolving around teams in search of bullpen help. FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, in an article entitled, "Trade Thoughts: Rangers, Nationals", suggested that if Washington was willing to part with, "...right-handed setup man Tyler Clippard and a young position prospect perhaps," in a deal with Tampa Bay, the Nats might be able to find the center fielder they're looking for and, "...make a [B.J.] Upton deal work." Upton's declining production, his high K totals and his .342 career OBP (.305 this season) don't necessarily make him the ideal leadoff man the Nats are said to searching for, however.

Mr. Rosenthal talked Todd Coffey too, reporting on the Rangers' interest in the sprinting reliever, and ESPN.com's Jayson Stark discussed the big right-hander in an article a week back entitled, "Their 'Free Agent Meter' is running", in which he wrote that, "The Rangers are stepping up their hunt for a right-handed setup man," and, "One name clearly on their list: Washington's Todd Coffey." MLB.com writer T.R. Sullivan stated without qualification that, "The Rangers have had discussions with the Nationals about their deep bullpen, including Todd Coffey and Tyler Clippard," in an article earlier this week entitled, "Daniels willing to deal for 'pen help". Boston Globe baseball writer Nick Cafardo too mentioned the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox' interest in acquiring a back-of-the-bullpen arm recently.

Asked directly about the Nats' search for a leadoff man, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo told MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in an interview published Friday night entitled, "Q&A with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo", that the Nats would still like to find the solution to their top of the order issues in-house, and, "If we can’t find that guy within the organization, we will look elsewhere," but as he has in season's past, the Nats' GM says the Nationals will be, "both buyers and sellers," at the Trade Deadline:

"If there is a trade to be made that will help us down the road, we will trade a player away to get a piece for the future. But we are not in sell mode. There are a lot of games to play, a lot of games to win. We are here to win games."

Do the Nationals trade Clippard at the height of his powers, while the whole league's still confused by his deceptive delivery, devastating change and rising heater, or do the Nats hold on to the right-hander and hope he continues to strike 11.45 batters out per 9.0 IP, while posting a 1.94 ERA (2.92 xFIP) and a low .207 BABIP? Do the Nationals already have, in the person of Henry "Lightning" Rodriguez, Clipp's eventual replacement? Rodriguez has shown recently that when he's in control out there, his triple-digit fastball, 90 mph change and brutal slider are all plus pitches capable of sending the major league's best hitters back to the dugout scratching their heads.

Can Collin Balester continue the transition he started late last season and finally claim a bullpen role in the big leagues with his own mid-90's heater and brutal 12-to-6 bender? Cole Kimball's another right-hander with a mid-90's fastball and a cruel split finger fastball. Do the Nats have the arms to replace Clippard and Coffey now? Can D.C. GM Mike Rizzo deal from a position of strength to fill other holes in the roster, or is Jason Marquis the arm the Nats pull the trigger on this year like they did with Matt Capps last year? If the outfield equivalent of former-Twins-and-current-Nats' catcher Wilson Ramos is out there, Rizzo's shown he's not afraid to make a trade.

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(Michael Morse did that thing again on Saturday: smacking himself on the head as he rounds first after hitting a HR. Screen grab of TV/MASN)

Mike Morse, of course!

Nationals 4, Orioles 2: Take that, Angelos! The Rigglemen just keep on rolling, courtesy of Zimmerman n' Morse n' Zimmermann n' Henry (5 outs!) n' Storen n'...

...and now, the only thing standing between the Nats and a .500 record (and a 9-game winning streak) is...Tom Gorzelanny.

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GAME 71 REVIEW: Streak Reaches Eight with 4-2 Win Over O’s

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Henry Rodriguez’s strong relief appearance against Orioles; Tom Gorzelanny to be limited in start Sunday

With two runners on with one out and the Nationals up 4-2 in the seventh inning against the Orioles on Saturday, Manager Jim Riggleman turned to Henry Rodriguez, a flame-throwing right-hander with previous control issues, to get two more outs for starter Jordan Zimmermann.

Rodriguez, who has suffered through neck spasms and problems with his mechanics and control that got him shelved earlier this season, got Nick Markakis to fly out to left field on four pitches. And then, Rodriguez struck out Adam Jones on three pitches, one of which was a 101-mile per hour fastball.

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A winning streak that matters

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Nationals power past O's for eighth straight

Jordan Zimmermann overcame a first-inning home run and throwing first-pitch balls to 14 of the 28 batters he faced and Michael Morse chipped in with a two-run homer in the Nationals' 4-2 win over the Orioles in front of 36,614.
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Riggleman pondering .500 mark

Riggleman pondering .500 mark
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Game 71: Nats win, Blue needs LASIK

Today's game report: Nats win 8th straight on Morse HR.


via www.fangraphs.com

  • Squeezed: Jordan Zimmermann (+9.7%) struggles through 6.1 IP, only giving up 2 ER in spite of a non-standard strike zone.
  • Beast mode: Michael Morse (+25.1%) hits a go-ahead, two-run bomb in the 6th (+23.7%).
  • Offenza: Ryan Zimmerman (+13.1%) hits a solo shot into The Bullpen (the bar across the street, not the place where the pitchers warm up) to tie the game in the first (+10.8%).
  • Lightning: Henry Rodriguez (+20.5%) throws 1.2 scoreless with 2 Ks in relief.

What do these graphs mean?

Bonus graph after the jump!


via www.brooksbaseball.net

The square on this plot is the strike zone, and the points are the positions of the pitches as measured by the Pitch f/x cameras.  Red squares and triangles are pitches that were called strikes, and green squares and triangles are balls.  See the green ones right in the middle of the zone?  David Rackley is not good at umpiring.

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Gorzelanny returns as Nats eye nine straight

The Orioles will ask Chris Jakubauskas to cool off the red-hot Nationals on Sunday in the finale of their three-game Interleague set. Washington will counter with Tom Gorzelanny, fresh off a three-week stint on the disabled list.
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