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Mar
26

Garcia Likely To AAA, Strange-Gordon, Cavalli May Stick Around

With less than two weeks remaining until the MLB regular season begins, it’s becoming clearer what and who we can expect to see on Opening Day. By the looks of it, the roster won’t look like we expected it would – and Dee Strange-Gordon and Cade Cavalli could be among the unplanned inclusions.

An Infield Without Luis Garcia

One unexpected change is that middle infielder Luis Garcia will likely start the season in Triple-A Rochester. As we recently discussed, manager Dave Martinez had expressed concern with Garcia’s consistency in the field. Defense was supposed to be his calling card, but there have been routine plays – in games, and presumably also in practice – that Garcia hasn’t made at the major league level.

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Mar
20

Franco, Cavalli, Fox Are Among Early Spring Training Winners

Admittedly, three games into Spring Training isn’t enough time from which to draw significant conclusions; players haven’t gotten more than a handful of innings or plate appearances, and there’s often a disparity in level of competition that they face.

With that said, there are players that have made bigger impressions than others – and perhaps enough to merit more attention than we thought as recently as a few days ago.

Infield Emergences

Thus far, Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia haven’t performed up to expectations – although for very different reasons. Kieboom suffered a flexor mass strain in his right forearm and is expected to be sidelined for 4-to-6 weeks, while Garcia has effectively been benched over an inability to make routine plays defensively.

Their absences from the starting lineup have benefitted two players. Alcides Escobar has started at shortstop and batted second in both of the games he’s played so far this spring – which wasn’t expected, but is directly in line with his usage last season. Meanwhile, Maikel Franco has started two games and drawn the lion’s share of practice reps at third base.

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Mar
17

Washington Nationals Add To Roster Ahead Of Spring Training

Brace yourselves, Nationals fans! Spring Training begins Friday, and Washington’s roster is continuing to evolve.

No one expected the roster to remain as it was when the league first reached a labor agreement last week. In spite of that, the level of activity the Nationals have had seems surprisingly refreshing.

Over the past week, the Nationals have signed veteran pitchers Anibal Sanchez, Aaron Sanchez and Erasmo Ramirez, catcher Chris Herrmann and outfielder Gerardo Parra to minor league contracts and pitcher Sean Doolittle, infielder Ehire Adrianza and designated hitter Nelson Cruz to big league deals.

Certainly, they won’t all crack the Opening Day roster, but a few of them will, and one of them could have a substantial impact.

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Mar
10

Play Ball! The Washington Nationals Will Be Back in 2022

After months of labor negotiations – enough to delay the season – Major League Baseball and the Players Association finally reached an agreement Thursday. With terms agreed upon, baseball is back and we’ll get to see the Washington Nationals again this year.

Considering how uncertain the fate of the league was, it’s easy to forget how much has changed since the Nats won the World Series in 2019, especially over the last year.

Of course, All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon left in free agency after winning a ring, but that wasn’t the organization’s biggest recent blow. Superstars Max Scherzer and Trea Turner were traded to the Dodgers last season, Stephen Strasburg suffered yet another significant injury, and Ryan Zimmerman – the face of the franchise – officially retired earlier this offseason.

Following all of these departures, the Nationals are entering their first full season of a likely multi-year rebuild. They made major strides to replenish their farm system last year, but there’s still plenty of work to do, and the fruits of their labor won’t be seen immediately.

Before the season begins, it’s only right to refresh everyone’s minds on how the roster looks entering Spring Training – yes, we will have one before the regular season begins.

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Mar
01

What Are Washington Commanders' Plans Entering NFL Combine?

With so much change going on around the Washington organization, the new league year may have snuck up on a few people.

But March is a very important month on the NFL calendar, as the Combine starts today, will take place for the next week, and free agency opens on the 16th.

That means it’s time for Washington to prepare to add to its roster.

The Commanders’ roster isn’t particularly strong, but they also don’t have many glaring holes. Maybe that’s part of what made 2021 such a strange, frustrating season for Washington.

In my opinion, their biggest needs are as follows:

  1. Offensive Line

They don’t have a bad group. Charles Leno signed a three-year extension to presumably be their left tackle, and 2021 second-round selection Sam Cosmi held his own at right tackle. Even the starters on the interior were solid. However, the unit doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, and they’ll have to somehow address the loss of Brandon Scherff (assuming he signs elsewhere).

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Feb
10

Addition Of Kristaps Porzingis Makes Wizards Interesting Again

Up until about 2:30 p.m., it looked like Bradley Beal’s season-ending wrist injury would leave the Wizards with the same roster that had lost 26 of its last 40 games.

But sometimes, deadlines create an increased level of urgency.

Minutes before the 3 p.m. buzzer sounded, Washington agreed to send point guard Spencer Dinwiddie and power forward Davis Bertans to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for forward/center Kristaps Porzingis. General manager Tommy Sheppard found a suitor for his team’s two least tradable contracts without attaching draft picks to them, while acquiring a valuable player.

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Feb
06

What Will Wizards Do At Trade Deadline? What Should They Do?

It’s been a strange, disappointing season for the Washington Wizards. With a five-year, $242 million new contract potentially looming this offseason, Bradley Beal hasn’t been able to elevate the Washington Wizards to a top six record in the Eastern Conference so far this season. By his own admission, another play-in game appearance would be a step backwards.

With the NBA Trade Deadline coming up on Thursday, February 10 at 3 p.m., the Washington Wizards, and President and General Manager Tommy Sheppard (right), have multiple decisions to make. Do they want to push forward for a playoff spot, or is it time to start over? Who amongst the plethora of young players on the roster should be retained as foundational pieces going forward? Who could be moved on from for something of greater value?

The Roadmap For A Rebuild

If the Wizards were to “blow it up” – which is what a lot of Wizards fans want, they’d have to do so delicately. Realistically, the organization will want to keep Beal, and Beal will also want to get paid as much as he can get (which by league rules, can only happen if he re-signs in Washington).

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Dec
23

Who I Would Play In The Pinstripe Bowl For The Hokies...

The Hokies have released their depth chart ahead of Wednesday’s Pinstripe Bowl against Maryland, and with the amount of roster attrition that has taken place since the end of the regular season, it seems a difficult task in trying to put a particularly inspiring team on the field.

Despite all of that, however, I think there are some alternatives that should be considered.

As always, depth charts are unofficial. What you see above may not be reflected in the players’ on-field usage during Wednesday’s game. In some cases, maybe we should be hoping that the pecking order at some positions changes on game day.

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Dec
07

So Far It's Been Defense First, Offense Second For Hokies

Following Brent Pry being announced as Virginia Tech’s new head football coach, he was quick to address the defensive side of his coaching staff. Tuesday’s announcement was perhaps the most shocking, but it might’ve been the best – and most heartwarming. It also underscores how unconventional, yet smart his approach in hiring a staff has been.

J.C. Price – who has quickly become a spokesman for the program, thanks in large part to his stint as the interim head coach – and Pierson Prioleau were quickly retained by Pry. Soon thereafter, Shawn Quinn (Savannah State head coach/defensive coordinator) and Derek Jones (Texas Tech co-DC and defensive backs) were brought on board.

The latest addition is Chris Marve. The 32-year-old up-and-comer was most recently the linebackers coach at Florida State, after stints in similar roles at Vanderbilt and Mississippi State from 2016-19 and as a graduate assistant at Vanderbilt for the two prior seasons.

Given how early it is in Marve’s career, it’s tough to gauge how good of a coach he is. However, Florida State’s run defense improved by more than 50 yards per game this season compared to 2020. He also guided Willie Gay Jr. to a second-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft during his tenure as a run game coordinator in Starkville, Mississippi.

Marve has been viewed as a rising star for a few years. He was named to the 247 Sports “30 under 30” of coaches in 2017 and 2018, as well as ESPN’s “40 under 40” in 2018.

Perhaps more relevant within the context of his new job, Marve was a highly-productive linebacker at Vanderbilt from 2008-11. He was also a team captain in his final two seasons – the last of which came under the James Franklin regime, with Brent Pry as their co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

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Nov
27

Who Should the New Leader in Blacksburg Be?

Charles Huff

The Hokies clawed their way to six wins by beating their in-state rival Saturday, so now that the regular season has come to an end, Whit Babcock’s top agenda item is clear: find the next head coach of the Virginia Tech football program – with no disrespect whatsoever to J.C. Price.

Over the past couple weeks, many preferred candidates have received extensions – including our pal Ricky LaBlue’s top option, Dave Clawson from Wake Forest. That may take away some excitement about who the next guy will be, but it certainly doesn’t negate the importance of the hire.

Much like I did last season, I have written what I believe is a comprehensive list of coaches that the Hokies might consider – a discussion about 35 potential candidates, including an in-depth profile for 23 of them.

Now that I’ve talked myself into a lengthy list of coaches, here’s who I believe are the top candidates given specific criteria.

Best Veteran Head Coach: Dan Mullen

I don’t know how Babcock will feel about him – or how Mullen will feel about the program – but I believe at face value, they’re each the best that the other can do. Mullen is one of the better offensive coaches in college football, and Virginia Tech is probably the best program beneath Florida’s tier (where Mullen was recently fired from).

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Oct
14

Maybe Justin Fuente Isn’t Virginia Tech’s Biggest Problem

In the famous words of legendary NFL coach Dennis Green, “The [Hokies] are who we thought they were.”

But it's possible Justin Fuente and the coaching staff may have been forced to shoulder too much of the blame.

Virginia Tech enters Saturday’s home game against the Pittsburgh Panthers with a 3-2 record, having just lost to Notre Dame, and they won every other game except for one of the North Carolina/West Virginia rivalry games.

This is exactly what most people expected; yet here we are, feeling as if the Hokies have let everyone down.

Many key findings have come to light throughout the early portion of the season, but I challenge you to ask yourself this: How many of these things are actually surprising? Are the Hokies really losing because of in-game coaching decisions, or are there larger issues with the roster that are driving these decisions? Is the coaching staff truly the problem?

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