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Excellent Tom Boswell column on Matt Wieters, Nats and O's


Frobby

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Tom Boswell wrote a really good piece in the Post today about what Matt Wieters has brought to the Nats.    Here are a few excerpts:
 

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This week, both in Baltimore and Washington, an emblematic piece of excellent Orioles baseball in recent years has been on display — but in a Nationals uniform. What Matt Wieters brought to the Birds for eight years, in the clubhouse and behind the plate may be one of the most important injections of chemistry-improving sauce that’s been added to these Nationals.

The Nats have generally had a good clubhouse — a strong balance of braininess and competitive toughness — in recent times but, probably, not quite as strong as the Orioles. It’s one reason Baltimore has a 19-8 record head-to-head vs. Washington since the beginning of the 2012 season. In those years, the Nats are tied for the most wins in the majors with the Cardinals (480), but the Orioles also lead the American League in wins over that span with 466 . When they’ve met, the Orioles have seemed a bit more focused, precise, mistake-free, cocky and intense.

* * *

Wieters has played an undeniable role in establishing Baltimore’s toughness in close games. He seldom talks to rival players before games. Even chatting with his former teammates seemed strange to him, though of course he did.

“We all came up together. So accountability to each other was set at a high standard from the beginning, even when we were trying not to lose 100 games a year,” Wieters said Thursday before the fourth game in a home-and-home Nationals-Orioles series was rained out at Nats Park . “We didn’t let any excuses get in the way. We said, ‘Never give away a single game.’ All the players took that responsibility seriously.

“Nick Markakis was the oldest one in the group with Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy,” said Wieters, leaving himself out, although he was central as well. “But there were veterans, too, like Miguel Tejada, who made sure we had that professional attitude — grind every game, April or September. They all count. We were young but we got thrown out there to play. And we learned how to compete.

“So, when we got more talent and [Manager Buck Showalter] came, we already had that team concept and a close locker room.”

* * *

His pitch-calling has probably helped Gio Gonzalez (2.64 ERA), who has been willing to use his curveball. Tanner Roark, who thinks of himself as a sinkerballer, has discovered how effective going up the ladder with his fastball can be.

Wieters has only thrown out 3 of 15 base stealers, below his norm, and he had early problems with blocking balls in the dirt from his new pitching staff. His history indicates this should improve. His pitch-framing? Too early to judge.

What won’t show up in stats or PitchFX is Wieters’s remarkable baseball IQ. More accurately, it could simply be his all-around IQ since he went to Georgia Tech. For example, how are the Orioles and Nats different in their offensive game-planning?

“Buck [Showalter] was really good at mixing and matching in making lineups — making use of what each one of us could do well and keeping us out of situations where we’d fail,” Wieters said.

Showalter didn’t just use platoons or lefty-righty matchups. “He’d match up swings with pitch types,” Wieters said. “He didn’t mind left-on-left matchups if they worked to our advantage. We might face two left-handed pitchers in a row but we’d use very different lineups based on what type of pitches they threw.”

“Over there, they have a game plan for the day and they stick to it. They hit mistakes and they hit ‘em out of the park. That’s why they’re still dangerous with two outs and nobody on base. They can put up runs,” Wieters said.

Each Orioles hitter has a different idea of what kind of pitcher mistakes suit them best. But the pregame conversation is on how to hunt gopher balls against that pitcher that day.

* * *

If anyone would know whether a Nats-Orioles rivalry truly exists, it would be Wieters. He denies it, saying modern players only feel rivalries within their own division or against teams they’ve met in postseason where passions rise and memories, including bitter ones, linger into future seasons. Nonetheless, the three Nats-O’s games this week were played at such a high level with such intensity that it feels like these teams are measuring themselves by each other.

“They’re one of the best we’ve seen so far,” Nationals Manager Dusty Baker said. “Who are these experts who don’t see what they have? They’re an American League club, built for comfort not for speed. That’s an old blues song. They can [beat] on that ball. . . . I don’t know what [critics] are looking at. I see quality.”

So does Wieters — on both sides of the field. “I guess the only way this would feel like a true rivalry would be if we ever met them in the World Series,” said Wieters, adding with a grin, “Love to make it happen.”

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/matt-wieters-is-the-rare-bird-to-be-on-both-sides-of-budding-nats-orioles-rivalry/2017/05/11/9050f97e-366e-11e7-b4ee-434b6d506b37_story.html?utm_term=.a3082edd9965

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Thanks for sharing. Wieters' quotes provided more insight into how Buck and the O's approach lineups, opposing pitchers, etc., than anything I have read in the past few years. The demise of "independent" baseball journalism, alas. Anyway, that was insightful. Letting Matt go was probably the best move for both the Orioles and Wieters, although Wieters' caught stealing rate is horrible. Nats fans may not be so warm and fuzzy about him if the team has a losing streak that coincides with a bunch of stolen bases.  

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I always loved me some Matt - but it was time for him to move on. Life is like that. I wish Matty well - but not when he plays us. I should add that it does get tiring hearing that the Nats are going to win the World Series every year. I bet they even get tired of hearing it - when it doesn't happen. The Nats are an interesting organization. They have spent huge in FA - going all the way back to Werth, and Scherzer more recently. But they also have some talented youngsters - and in the case of Harper, a potential future HOF'er. And yet... they don't seem to be able to break through. I wonder why. 

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13 minutes ago, Ohfan67 said:

Thanks for sharing. Wieters' quotes provided more insight into how Buck and the O's approach lineups, opposing pitchers, etc., than anything I have read in the past few years. The demise of "independent" baseball journalism, alas. Anyway, that was insightful. Letting Matt go was probably the best move for both the Orioles and Wieters, although Wieters' caught stealing rate is horrible. Nats fans may not be so warm and fuzzy about him if the team has a losing streak that coincides with a bunch of stolen bases.  

It's more likely they'll tire of him topping weak grounders to second base... :)

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10 minutes ago, Bradysburns said:

I always loved me some Matt - but it was time for him to move on. Life is like that. I wish Matty well - but not when he plays us. I should add that it does get tiring hearing that the Nats are going to win the World Series every year. I bet they even get tired of hearing it - when it doesn't happen. The Nats are an interesting organization. They have spent huge in FA - going all the way back to Werth, and Scherzer more recently. But they also have some talented youngsters - and in the case of Harper, a potential future HOF'er. And yet... they don't seem to be able to break through. I wonder why. 

Because it's not easy.   Bullpen issues have been a thorn in their side in the postseason.   And, as can happen, they've run into some hot teams/pitchers at times.   

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4 minutes ago, Frobby said:

Because it's not easy.   Bullpen issues have been a thorn in their side in the postseason.   And, as can happen, they've run into some hot teams/pitchers at times.   

I think you nailed it - bullpen issues have plagued their team for years. When they elevated Papelbon to closer, you knew there were deadly problems.

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15 minutes ago, Frobby said:

Because it's not easy.   Bullpen issues have been a thorn in their side in the postseason.   And, as can happen, they've run into some hot teams/pitchers at times.   

I've said for years that the most important indicator for success in the postseason is having a rock solid back end of the bullpen. There's been teams who've won World Series in recent years with average starting pitching and average hitting but very few teams have won without a really strong back end of the bullpen. 

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18 minutes ago, Roy Firestone said:

He may not have been the "Mauer with power" guy or the second coming of Johnny Bench, but he was a solid player for us. He came up with some big hits(opening day last year for example) and was a good presence in the clubhouse. I can only wish him well. I liked Matt a lot,

Roy, thanks for sharing and I totally agree. To hell with the haters, you can't please some the people all the time.

I wish Matt best wishes and lots of success except for when he plays the Birds.

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3 hours ago, Frobby said:

Because it's not easy.   Bullpen issues have been a thorn in their side in the postseason.   And, as can happen, they've run into some hot teams/pitchers at times.   

Not unlike the Caps, great seasons and playoff failures.

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Wieters could have stayed here and signed the same contract he ended up signing with the Nats.  He and Boras tried to hijack our offseason.  He could have easily stayed.  It taints his Oriole legacy just like how Markakis is tainted.  Both could have stuck around and rode things out with the core, but they chose to take the biggest contract out there.  

I don't care for Boswell at all, and for that matter the whole sports team at the washington post.  Let them have MW, Wizards, Redskins, Georgetown, and the fake red nation.  I'll take the O's, Gary Williams and the Terps.  At least the post found their match when it comes to people overrated and terrible at their jobs, Dusty Baker.  

 

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3 minutes ago, sportsfan8703 said:

Wieters could have stayed here and signed the same contract he ended up signing with the Nats.  He and Boras tried to hijack our offseason.  

I seriously doubt the O's would have offered him that.    I disagree with most of your opinions expressed in your post.     

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