When the Nationals beat the Phillies on October 3 to clinch the N.L. East, Philly shortstop Jimmy Rollins had a hard time congratulating the new champs. He said the only reason that Washington won was because the Phillies had so many injuries.
Rollins took a lot of heat for his statements, but according to CSNphilly.com he still strongly believes the Phillies are the best team in the division. Here is what he said at a charity event on Monday night:
"It still runs through Philly," he said. "[Washington] had one year to win it. It was just like when the Mets took it from Atlanta, it was still up for grabs. I'm sure Atlanta felt it was still theirs, but fortunately we were able to come in and take it the next five years."
"We were undermanned," Rollins said. "It was written -- you'd write the lineup every single day and we're undermanned against a lot of teams.
"As soon we got healthy, you start to see us turn back around and catch our rhythm."
Rollins was one of the only Phillies players to be healthy for the majority of the season. Philly saw significant time missed by Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, and Carlos Ruiz. They finished 81-81, a full 17 games behind the Nationals in the division. Though they were injured, it wasn’t really close.
And Rollins’ assertion suggests the Nationals themselves were healthy. But the Nationals, in fact, had more starters lost to injuries. Wilson Ramos, Drew Storen, Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Ian Desmond, and Jayson Werth all saw significant time on the disabled list. If the Nats were healthier they could have won even more than 98 games.
Rollins' comments provide a great offseason debate, but nothing can be settled until next season. The Nationals and Phillies first play on May 24.
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history.
Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him.
During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.
In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons.
Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store
Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract.
On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.
Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop.
It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series.
Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster.
Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.
The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda.
There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.
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