Gauging Nats Fans Feelings On Jayson Werth and Their Young Ball Club

Gauging Nats Fans Feelings On Jayson Werth and Their Young Ball Club

Prior to the Phillies kicking off a series tonight against the
Nationals in DC, we thought we'd ask the biggest Nats fan we know, Cathy
Taylor aka Miss Chatter, about how their team has fared early in 2011.
We also asked about our old friend Jayson Werth and just what kind of
expectations Nats fans have for their club. You can follow Miss Chatter on Twitter or read her blog featuring her awesome photography here.

Enrico: The Phillies are off to a
nice 7-2 start which I think has Phillies fans pretty excited with their
performance thus far into 2011. The Nats are off to mediocre 4-5 start
that puts them right in the middle of the pack in the East. We haven't
spent much time watching the Nats yet this season, have DC fans liked
what they've seen thus far? Feel free to touch on our old pal Jayson
Werth and his beard's performance thus far, if you so wish.

Miss Chatter: Jayson Werth's beard has put on a phenomenal
performance so far this season, after a nervous offseason wondering if
he'd make an appearance in spring training. He did and has been there
since. (Love the twitter account!) Jayson Werth, beard owner, has had
so-so results thus far this season in the field and at the plate. Off
the field, however, I admire Werth's talk. He is defending his new ball
club vigorously and with humor, which has been rather endearing. Fans
were rather stunned at the length and value of the contract he was
given, and there is some "show us the money" regarding him.

The Nats have had a rough start to the season thus far. They just
lost prized third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to the disabled list for a
strained abdominal muscle. That's a heavy blow. The DL stint arrives on
the heels of losing 2 of 3 games in their first two series, but then
they won 2 of 3 against the Mets to finish their first road trip with an
even record. New first baseman, Adam LaRoche, who was brought on as a
defensive upgrade over Adam Dunn, is also walking a fine line that could
easily land him on the DL. First, he revealed he has a balky shoulder
and can't really make throws. Then he strained his groin in the game
Sunday, but expects to be back today. If the Nats lose Zimmerman and
LaRoche, things could get very interesting.

However, Nats fans have been pleasantly surprised by the starting
pitching so far this season, and are particularly eager to see Jordan
Zimmermann thrive in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery.
His success also eases nervousness over the future of Stephen
Strasburg, who likely won't return until next season. The solid bullpen
arms of Storen, Clippard and Burnett have also continued their dominance
in tight situations.

When he had his welcome to DC presser, Werth talked a lot
about building for the future, but not necessarily winning now. What's a
best-case scenario season for Nats fans this year?

Best case for Nats fans this year is umm, well, I'm not exactly sure!
I wouldn't even dare to predict a final record for the season. I would
have to say best case for Washington this year is if the team stays
healthy and Bryce Harper makes a loud statement in the minors over the
course of his development, Strasburg's rehab proceeds swimmingly and
Jordan Zimmermann's starts this season go deeper and remain effective
all year. Also add Ian Desmond committing less errors in the field and
Danny Espinosa becoming a true batting threat consistently!

What's the one thing about this Nats team that has encouraged you the most about their future?

One thing? Only one? (Why am I having such a hard time thinking of
something?!) I'm going to say the talent and progress of the young
players provides the most encouragement for the future (catcher Wilson
Ramos, 2nd baseman Danny Espinosa and shortstop Ian Desmond). I guess
that's three things.

Looking forward to spending so much quality time with Philadelphians over the three game series in DC?

Only if they're housebroken! I kid! I love a good baseball
conversation with fans of any team, so if Philadelphians come down and
respect our house and want to talk baseball, then that's fine.
Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case in the past (nightmares of last
year's opening day still haunt me).

Thanks to Miss Chatter for her time and her photo of Jayson Werth above.

Source: Phillies have gotten trade 'nibbles' on Carlos Ruiz

Source: Phillies have gotten trade 'nibbles' on Carlos Ruiz

CHICAGO — Another trade deadline arrives next Wednesday.

Could a Phillies veteran such as Ryan Howard or Carlos Ruiz, the lone holdovers from the 2008 World Series championship team, be on the move?

ESPN reports that both players have cleared waivers, which would make them eligible to be dealt. Players traded after Aug. 1 must first clear waivers. They have to be on a new team’s roster by Sept. 1 to gain postseason eligibility. Players traded after Sept. 1 are not eligible for the postseason.

Howard has been available for a trade for a couple of seasons, but there has been no interest. Even now, with him hitting .339 with seven homers, 16 RBIs and a .742 slugging percentage since the All-Star break (entering Wednesday), there remains little interest, according to sources. Howard is still owed about $16 million in the form of salary and a $10 million contract buyout for 2017, but that would not be an impediment to a deal as the Phils would eat that. Still, it’s unlikely he will be traded because most of the American League contenders are set at designated hitter, which would be his optimal role.

So, Howard, 36, is likely to play out the final year of his contract with the Phils, take his well-earned bows and exit either to retirement or a new team next season. He says he wants to keep playing.

Ruiz, 37, is also in the final year of his contract. Like Howard, he has swung the bat well recently, hitting .298 with a .433 on-base percentage in his last 26 games. He’s a backup catcher at this stage of his career, but that could appeal to a team like Cleveland or Boston, contenders who could be in the market for catching depth.

A baseball source said the Phillies have received some recent “nibbles” on Ruiz. It’s unclear if a deal will reach the finish line.

As players with 10 seasons in the majors and five consecutive with the same team, Howard and Ruiz both have the power to block a trade. It’s doubtful that either would because both have stated that their goal is to play in the postseason again.

“I’m still happy here,” Ruiz said. “We’ll see what happens. If that happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I'm going to play.”

Howard has taken the same attitude.

“Those are situations where I guess you’ve got to see what presents itself,” he said. “You know me. The last 12 years I’ve just been focused on playing ball. If it presents itself, it presents itself. You handle that situation. Otherwise, I just try to stay in the moment, stay in the now and prepare for the game.”

Trace McSorley named Penn State's starting quarterback

Trace McSorley named Penn State's starting quarterback

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Trace McSorley will start at quarterback for Penn State when the Nittany Lions open against Kent State on Sept 3.

Coach James Franklin settled on the sophomore after McSorley battled redshirt freshman Tommy Stevens for the job through the spring and summer.

"We're excited what he brings to our offense," Franklin said Wednesday. "I think the biggest thing is he's been the backup quarterback for two years. He has game experience and there's value in that. You've been able to see it already, you're not projecting as much."

McSorley will make his first career start at home against Kent State.

"It's a lot of weight off my shoulders," McSorley said. "Over the whole offseason, Tommy and I were pushing each other. This team will be better because of how this competition went with us pushing each other."

Both quarterbacks are strong runners, but McSorley's experience gave him the edge.

His shiftiness was utilized in practice throughout his tenure as Christian Hackenberg's backup. He usually led the scout team against the top defense, offering a similar look to the opposing running quarterbacks Penn State would play.

Although he's played sparingly on Saturdays in that time, McSorley saw meaningful snaps in Penn State's bowl game in relief of an injured Hackenberg. Then, McSorley completed 14 of 17 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns, ran seven times for 31 yards and nearly led a comeback against Georgia.

Now, McSorley will try and turn around a unit that's ranked 105th and 114th in total offense the last two seasons. He'll do so in a spread-based offense designed for a mobile quarterback and led by new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.

"I think the best thing about the way he runs the ball is he's savvy," linebacker Jason Cabinda said. "He sets up his cuts. You play a guy who's a statue in the pocket and you cover well, he gets sacked. Now we have another element. Not only do you have to worry about covering guys, but when that four or five seconds is up there's that option of scrambling, another aspect of the play you have to worry about."

NBA Notes: City officials declare Kobe Bryant Day in Los Angeles

NBA Notes: City officials declare Kobe Bryant Day in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES -- Lakers fans packed Los Angeles City Hall chambers to witness the mayor and other officials declare Kobe Bryant Day in honor of the retired NBA superstar.

Councilman Jose Huizar said Wednesday's declaration is the city's way of thanking Bryant for his excellence on the court and philanthropic efforts across Los Angeles.

Bryant attended with his pregnant wife and their two daughters. He called the experience "surreal" and jokingly said someone would have to explain to his unborn daughter why "daddy has a day named for him."

Fans cheered and chanted Bryant's name as he was presented a framed proclamation by Mayor Eric Garcetti and council President Herb Wesson.

Bryant played his entire 20-season career with the Lakers, leading them to five NBA championships.

Lakers: No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram, vet Yi Jianlian signed
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers have signed top draft pick Brandon Ingram and Chinese NBA veteran Yi Jianlian and re-signed center Tarik Black.

Ingram was the No. 2 overall pick in this summer's draft. The Duke product's rookie contract is expected to be worth more than $23 million over four years.

The 28-year-old Yi hasn't played in the NBA since 2011-12 with Dallas. The former No. 6 overall draft pick by Milwaukee spent five seasons in the NBA, averaging a career-best 12.0 points and 7.2 rebounds for New Jersey in 2009-10.

Yi spent the past four seasons with the Chinese Basketball Association's Guangdong Southern Tigers. He is an eight-time MVP of the CBA, winning four championships.

The 6-foot-11 Yi averaged 20.4 points per game for China at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Black has averaged 5.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in two seasons with the Lakers.

Timberwolves: Towns chosen as face of 2K mobile app
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns has been tabbed to be the face of 2K's mobile companion application to NBA 2K17 video game, which is set to launch on Sept. 8.

The reigning rookie of the year will be the icon cover athlete for MyNBA2K17, the latest in a series of high-profile endorsements for Towns. The NBA 2K franchise has been the No. 1 selling NBA video game for the last eight years.

"I've been a dedicated NBA 2K fan since I was young, and being selected as the face of MyNBA2K17 is an incredible milestone this early in my career," Towns said on Wednesday. "Playing MyNBA2K and NBA2K is an essential part of my offseason and keeps me grounded during the season with all my travel. I love that I will have the opportunity to connect further with my fans through MyNBA2K17."

The free app connects players to the NBA 2K17 console game and includes facial scanning technology. That allows fans to design players for the game on Xbox One or PlayStation 4 using their own facial features. The app also allows users to watch 2KTV on their mobile devices and play quick games and season tournaments against users around the world.

Towns also has deals with Nike and Samsung among others and made a guest appearance on the Disney television show "Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything" this summer.

On the court, he is teaming with Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Ricky Rubio and Kris Dunn to try to end the Timberwolves' 12-year playoff drought.