Atlanta Braves v San Diego Padres

Casey Kelly shines in his major league debut


Casey Kelly has had more advanced pub than a lot of rookies. He was a big-time draftee for the Red Sox and famously split time as a shortstop and a pitcher in the minors.  Then he was part of the Adrian Gonzalez trade v.1.

On a personal note, the girlfriend lives in San Antonio, has season tickets to the Double-A Missions and watched him pitch a bunch last year during which time she decided he was one of her baseball boyfriends, so I get an earful about him. I showed her, though: I saw him in his skivvies in the clubhouse during spring training back in March and won’t tell her how he looked.

Anyway, because of all of that, his major league debut last night was notable. A debut I would have missed but for the fact that the girlfriend reminded me of it — which is awful on my part considering he was pitching against the Braves and I wasn’t planning on watching them — but I tuned in anyway.  And the kid was impressive.

I wasn’t a dominating start. He only struck out four and was only touching the low 90s when scouting reports say he’s capable of much more. But he was nonetheless impressive. His curve looked great, fooling many a Brave batter. He held Atlanta scoreless for six innings before the bullpen took the shutout the rest of the way. Thank God he didn’t strike out 12 or something or else the girlfriend would be writing mash notes to him all morning.

Anyway, just another thing going right for the Padres these days.

Nats expected to consider Cal Ripken for the manager job

Cal Ripken Jr

FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Nationals are expected to consider Cal Ripken Jr. for their managerial vacancy. Ripken, of course, was recently reported to have been considered by the club the last time the job was open.

This could be a courtesy. And if you’re a Nats fan, you have to hope it is, right? Because the single biggest argument in favor of Matt Williams when he was hired was that he was a top player in his day, wasn’t too far removed from his playing career and could be a good clubhouse guy who understood what made major leaguers tick. His lack of experience was brushed off. All of which would be the same thing for Ripken, except he doesn’t even have the coaching experience Williams had and is even farther removed from his playing days.

I know he’s famous and everything, but if the Nationals’ 2015 season is evidence of anything, perhaps it should be evidence that sometimes it’s useful to have a manager who has actually, you know, made a pitching change once in his professional life.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired Williams and his entire coaching staff following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.