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Davey Johnson harsh on himself, Stephen Strasburg after ugly Nats loss

After getting out to a 9-0 lead on Friday, the Nationals found themselves on the losing end of an 11-10 loss after a stunning comeback by the Braves. It was a game Nats manager Davey Johnson called “probably the worst I’ve ever managed in my career.” Johnson was just as unforgiving with Stephen Strasburg, who went five scoreless innings before allowing four runs in the sixth, when Johnson gave him the hook.

“He felt like he was missing, but I felt like he just wasn’t going after them,” Johnson told the Washington Post. “He wasted a lot of pitches. He really doesn’t know who he is at times. He doesn’t trust his stuff. It was a little avoiding contact, trying to make too good of pitches. I know they’re a pretty good-hitting ballclub, but he’s got pretty good stuff.

“Another thing, too, when you throw a lot of pitches to hitters they get a better gauge on you. It’s easier to hit. You see 2-3 fastballs missed, it’s easier to start gauging somebody. It’s a lot tougher when you go right after them and they’ve got to put it in play.”

Jeez. It’s as if Johnson forgot Strasburg was actually still in line to win the game when he was pulled, and that it was shoddy bullpen work that ultimately let that win slip away. Kind of unfair for Johnson to get all grouchy about Strasburg when we know the Nats ace wasn’t going to get a chance to right the ship anyway.

On the other hand, Strasburg has struggled of late, earning losses in three of his last five starts. So, this could have been an instance of underlying frustrations finally rising to the surface. Natitude!

Photo: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE

Davey Johnson: Joe Maddon is a ‘weird wuss’

When Davey Johnson brought Joel Peralta’s cheating ways to the umpiring crew’s attention on Tuesday, Joe Maddon was not happy. Maddon’s argument was basically that everyone does it, and Peralta even used to pitch for the Nationals. Maddon went as far as to call the Nationals manager “cowardly” for making a big deal over it.

Johnson said there are small rule violations and then there is going overboard. As far as Maddon calling him a coward, Davey said he’s not too concerned.

“I didn’t know him that well, but I thought he was a weird wuss, anyway,” Johnson said Wednesday according to the Washington Post. “I understand where he’s coming from. His job as a manager is to protect the players. Striking out at who ever he thinks is causing your players any grievance. So I understand where he’s coming from. But he doesn’t know me from a hole in the hill. Or I him, for that matter. But I do know the rulebook, and I do try to follow it.

“I don’t want to get in a shouting match with Joe. I looked him up on the Internet and found out he has a Tweeter, so he can get to more people than me. And so I don’t want to get in a shouting match with him. He’s got a bigger following. But it was interesting reading. But you can tell him I have a doctorate of letters, too. Mine’s from Loyola, in humanities. And I’m proud of that, too.”

As we all know, you can’t fight Twitter. I must say I tend to side with Johnson on this one. If you see someone blatantly cheating and think that pointing it out gives your team a better chance to win, that’s exactly what you have to do. If it’s any consolation, he’s not the first person Maddon has called a coward this season.

Photo credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Davey Johnson says the Nationals should fire him if they don’t make the playoffs

If you don’t think the Nationals have high expectations heading into the 2012 season, think again. Washington is trying to build a contender. Over the past year or so, the Nationals have committed nearly $250 million to signing and/or extending Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, and Edwin Jackson. Combine that with the young talent they have in Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper and you can see why this is a team that is serious about becoming relevant. As you can see from his interview above with Kelli Johnson of CSN Washington, it’s playoffs or bust for manager Davey Johnson.

“No question in my mind,” Johnson said when asked if it would be a disappointment for the Nationals to miss the playoffs. “You know, and they can fire me. … I mean we should make the playoffs. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

With the MLB set to add a wild card team for the 2012 season, Washington’s chances look even better. If they can remain healthy and Strasburg can avoid more shoulder troubles on his limited innings count, the Nationals could make significant strides this season.

H/T Big League Stew
Video via SB Nation DC

Davey Johnson Says Nationals Can Win Pennant, Needs a Drug Test

The NL East had two of the best teams in the National League last season. Neither one of them was the Nationals. That won’t stop manager Davey Johnson, whose option for 2012 was exercised by the team, from boasting about the Nats’ potential for the upcoming season.

“Winning the pennant. Winning the National League,” Johnson said of his expectations for the team. “I couldn’t have said that last spring. I didn’t think the talent was ready. After being there and seeing the progress that some young players made, I think we definitely can contend. I would be sorely disappointed if we didn’t do just that. The talent is there.

“I like the way we stack up against everybody in our division. I’m not just sticking out my chest and saying some hot air. My baseball instincts tell me that’s where we need to be, that’s where we need to go. And we can get there.”

The Nationals went 80-81 while the Phillies were 102-60 and the Braves were 89-73. If Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg are healthy for the season, the Nats have a shot at being a .500-or-better team. The Phillies have Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Madson as free agents, and Ryan Howard recovering from surgery on his ankle. They could drop off, but they and the Braves still look strong.

We can see the Nats competing in the division, but there’s a difference between having an improved season and being competitive, and actually going to the World Series. Davey Johnson says the Nats can win the pennant. That’s not going to happen. They still don’t have enough talent, and they need a few more bats.