Aaron Boone’s take on Nats
Aaron Boone played one year for the Nationals, in 2008. However, he is best remembered for hitting the game-winning home run that helped Yankees win the 2003 American League pennant.
Now a baseball analyst for ESPN, Boone, 40, spoke with MLB.com on Friday about the 2013 Nationals and their chances of making the postseason.
MLB.com: What do you think of the Nationals’ latest run?
Aaron Boone: I think it’s too little, too late, but stranger things have happened over the last couple of seasons. Obviously, they are going to try to continue it at a lights out level during the final month of the season.
Obviously, you have to go on a 20-5 run, but then they need help from other teams. Those things have happened over time. No question. But they are still well behind at this point.
MLB.com: How surprised were you that the Nationals were inconsistent for most of the season?
Boone: I was. I thought, provided their pitching stayed healthy, it would carry them and [they’d] be in a position to win the division or at least get a wild card. [The pitching] hasn’t been as overwhelming as we anticipated. The bullpen is very average – at best. I think what has hurt them this year is that the bench hasn’t been very good. It seems they don’t have anybody they can plug in or step in during the course of the season. That adds up.
MLB.com: The overall offense hasn’t been good for most of the season.
Boone: I still think this offense is solid all around, but when your starting nine aren’t completely healthy and you don’t have pieces to plug in — they haven’t had a guy off the bench that’s had a big year for them, a person they can plug in for a week or two. There has been a really big drop off that I’ve noticed. Outside of the main core guys, they’ve had some struggles.
MLB.com: Do you think the Nationals made a mistake by letting lefty relievers like Tom Gorzelanny go?
Boone: When I looked at this team in Spring Training, … everyone felt like, well, their starting pitching is so good and then with [Tyler]Clippard, [Drew] Storen and [Craig] Stammen and adding Soriano in the back end, [the Nationals] have guys who can neutralize the lefties – how Clippard has been over his career [against lefties]. They thought they could get away with it. … I think going in, it’s the one area I thought they would have a concern, but I thought the overall strength of the bullpen would be able to counter it. It is something that has bit them a little bit.
MLB.com: What do you think about the way Jayson Werth has carried the Nationals the last two months?
Boone: It has been really awesome. He has been a beast. This is what they’ve signed him to do. You have to tip your cap for what he has done and what he has been able to put together. Obviously, he is right in the middle of being on a nice little run and giving them a fighter’s chance down the stretch.
MLB.com: How are things going with you health-wise?
Boone: I’m doing really well. I’m enjoying my gig. It’s a lot of fun to be able to cover game that I love and have a small part in the sport. It has been a blessed transition for me.