A Washington Nationals Blog

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Schedule Released!!

Well, only sort of. The tentative schedule for next season has been released and is posted on the Nationals Journal, courtesy of Barry and the Post. Among the most obvious and shocking items are what seem to be missing from this particular schedule.

No "true" Home Opener
Away game on July 4th
No Memorial Day
No Labor Day
Finish the season on the road

So that means that assuming that this schedule isn't changed in some fairly fundamental way, a number of Nationals traditions are going the way of the dodo as of this year. Now, I don't count opening the season at home among these, since it never happens, though it would be nice to start the new park in such a manner. But the 4th of July baseball in the Nations Capital and the new Nationals Park seems like a fairly good tradition to build on. So, if I were king of baseball for a day, this is what I would change in the ol' schedule.

First, baseball in DC on July 4, 2008. And every July 4 from now until the end of time. This is the way it should be and there is simply nothing else to say.

Second, if we can't open at home, at least let us close at home. In the case of this year, give the Nats their ESPN game at home against the Metropolitons and let us be happy. We can finish on the road if we have to.

Third, why is there no baseball on Labor Day?! I mean, if not at home, then fine, but just not playing? That isn't American, its something unholy that should not be allowed to happen. So change it.

No, I understand that these things are difficult and complex, blah, blah, blah. But we should at least get something from the league as opposed to a schedule that is, at best, lacking. I hope that when the "Tentative" is removed there is something to show for it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Season Ticket Blues

I got an email today in the account that I get my junk mail sent to. It was from the Nationals and had a subject that mentioned both season tickets and a "Special Bonus". Needless to say, my interest was peaked. I opened the email and to my surprise I found that the Nationals were going to try and hock season tickets at a special Postseason get-together at the ESPN Zone. Everyond would be there: Stan, Jim, ummm did I mention Stan? Anyway, that isn't all, all new season ticket holders that sign up and pay a deposit during a special hour either online or at the ESPN Zone get a goodie bag from the Nats! It includes:

• A Nationals game-used baseball

• An MP3 player

• A Teddy Roosevelt bobblehead

• A red curly W New Era hat



So aparently the answer to the often asked question, "How are season ticket sales going?" is "anemic to poor". That would be the only reason that the Nats are dumping a whole bag of trinkets on someone, anyone who will sign up. And you don't even have to go anywhere; do it online and you still get the goodies!!



This means that sales are going poorly, and so, for the sake of the team, I hope that a little stunt like this results in a bump in season ticket sales. I want them to do well, I want the park to be full, I want a big, happy long-lasting season ticket holder base for the Nats.



Which brings me to my next question: What about all of us that ARE season ticket holders? I understand that gimmicks exist and are used to put people over the top, but I also seem to remember a lot of talk from Stan about how important the season ticket holders are, "life-blood of the franchise" and all that. So Stan, where is my game-used ball? You have had my deposit for months and the only thing that I get is the possibility of a slightly better seat, but even that doesn't seem like such a big deal if you are pulling this to get more folks to sign up. So I ask again: Where is my game used ball? We didn't see many of those neat little things in the outfield seats at RFK where baseballs were the Holy Grail and I once saw a man dive over three rows of seats for the solitary t-shirt that "Clint" managed to actually fire to the rabble and masses in the cheap seats.



I would have bought my tickets with or without a gimmick, but I feel like the "perks" that were promised to season ticket holders have been slow in coming, or non-existent. There was no picnic this year, there were no benefits, there were no cheaper to purchase ticket deals. Where was it all? I don't want much Stan, and in fact, if you hadn't brought it up I wouldn't care at all! But since you did, I think it needs to be addressed: I want my game-used ball.

New Ballpark thoughts

As I watched the Discovery Channel's inside look at our new Park, I got to thinking. So why is it that I had to stumble onto this program. I mean, I read the blogs regularly, I check the website daily, I get emails, I have season tickets, and yet I didn't hear a thing about this. The only thing that showed up was an ex post facto mention on the Journal. Though for those that are interested, Screech's Best Friend does have some info on the statues at the new park. In fact a brief review of the Natosphere found NOTHING regarding the show.

While this isn't the end of the universe, I do find it strange and depressing that the team made little to no effort to advertise this show to the fans on any level. And there is no excuse for it. The team produced a bunch of footage and access for the program (Build it Bigger), and even gave Schneider a cameo on it at old RFK.

The utter lack of any communication about a free and fairly good program regarding the Nats on national TV only goes to reinforce the concept that the Nationals do not have an actual, living, breathing, marketing department.

For those of you that are interested and didn't follow the above links to either the show's site, or the Journal, here are the dates that the program will be replayed. Watch. Revel. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Case for Cordero

With the season now over and the playoffs more than underway, I finally decided that now would be the time to post on a topic that has been under consideration among Nats fans for as long as there have been Nats fans: Chad "the Chief" Cordero's durability and longevity as a closer.

This last season, Chad recorded 37 saves, while blowing 9. Now, 9 is a lot, and arguably too many, but it isn't the kind of numbers that should have a closer considered "done" and have people calling for his replacement or trade. So before everyone gets all up in arms over how Chad is done and he never could get a 1-2-3 inning so lets get rid of him, stop and look at the number of blown saves among the other Top 10 closers:
7, 8, 7, 7, 6, 2, 6, 4, 6

Now I was lazy and didn't include names, but sufficed to say that some of the gods of NL closers are on that list. And they aren't the guy who only blew 2.

So what does this show us? It shows that Chad, who admitted to struggling during his grandmother's passing, still recorded a huge number of saves on a losing club and only blew 2 more saves than 40% of the Top 10. He only blew 3 more than 70%. That is simply astounding. While Chad has not been nearly as overpowering in his relatively short career, it should be remembered that he has and continues to get the job done with numbers that are comparable to the best in the Senior Circuit. So what does this mean?

It means that the Nats really do need to stick to their guns. Chad is a closer, plain and simple. He should only be traded for closer type levels, nothing less.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Home and Away

So, with the pain that is Atlanta now only a Delta flight of a memory, lets look back on what was an important home stand and will be an important trip to Miami. First, the 5-1 home stand was a showing of why the Nationals are not nearly the worst team in baseball this year, let alone history. Now, I was out of town, so that meant only limited internet review and no actual watching of the living bobble head series. But I did live the dream during the Marlins series. What we say is a team that was happy at home, wanted to stay out of last, and played well against mediocre opponents.

The Result: bad wins against bad teams. None of the Florida games were serious blow outs, and all of them seemed to show that the Nats were a better, though not by much, team than the Fish. Then go to Turner Field. Now our bad play turns into ugly and pathetic losses. The main reasons for this was not only the lack of offense, a chronic problem, but the defense that made average little league teams look good. Zimmerman needs to figure it out. I know games like that happen. But he made repeated errors in back to back games and looked worse than a September call up. Need to fix that. Now, FLop. He not only looked bad, but didn't look like he cared. He doesn't talk to the media, only reinforcing the lack of concern. Plus, I'm beginning to see Jimenez as a serious offensive and defensive replacement for SS. That is not a good sign. But what it shows is that FLop needs to show a little bit of pop (or contact) with the bat if we are to put up with the multiple errors every game. It like Wily Mo, I can almost stomach the 2,503 strikeouts per season when he hits a home run every other plate appearance. But with Lopez hitting weak numbers, playing poor defense even for him and not even seeming to care about the issue, it means that I have to see him as not being part of the long-term future. But that means that Belliard becomes an everyday player with Guzman for next season. I don't see that as a real solution. Ronnie has shown what he is this year: a solid player with decent defense and a .270-80 BA. Fine. Put that on the bench and make us a contender. But there is nobody in the farm system and no one on the roster that is likely to help us out in this middle infield. So look for a replacement for Lopez in the off season, or at least someone brought in to remind him to actually try in the Spring. Now onto Florida and a hopeful nail in the coffin for the last place Marlins.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Wily Mo Connection


OK, so now a guy with a career reputation, with number to back it up, as a prolific strike out goes 3 for 4 and absolutely kills one out at "The Juice Box." So this raises a huge new question mark for the Nationals outfield. Alright, fine, Bowden found the 40 HR bat that we need, even though it came along with a ton of Ks. But the real question is: where do you put him? He is, at best, a mediocre, and more likely a poor defensive corner outfielder, who wants to play right field. The problem is that Kearns is the Nats right fielder of the present and future. I know that Kearns hasn't been putting up the numbers at all this season, but I don't think that you can give up on him regardless. Church has also failed to meet the expectations of everyone that said, "Just give him a full season, he'll show you." But has he done so poorly all around that you replace him with Pena? I don't know, but I think that such a decision comes too soon. Plus none of this solves the issue of CF, which has been a revolving door for the Nats ever since they moved to DC. And it is a problem that still hasn't been solved and I don't think will be until 2009 at the earliest.


As for the long term impact of Wily Mo, its still way to early to tell. How will he handle RFK in the long run, or more importantly, the NEW ballpark next season? Will he continue to hit for average and not strike out? Will his power truly help turn this line-up around offensively? I think that the answers are going to be bad, then just poorly; no; and not as much as we need because of the previous 'no'.


Despite this, the trade was a good one. We got a big, although flawed bat for a minor league 1B that is probably only going to cost us one minor league reliever. So we basically are going to get Pena for a Winston Abreu.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Chico Gets the Hook


So Matt Chico's time in the bigs, at east for now, is over. Chico has been sent down to AAA after another lackluster start where he committed the trifecta of pitching sins by throwing too many pitches, walking too many batters, and going less than 5 innings. The move makes room for Wily Mo, who will likely be starting in left field.


I have to feel bad for Chico. His most recent starts have been poor to terrible, but the kid has managed to take the ball every five days and go out there and at least try. And with his demotion, the Nats have now eliminated the last member of the Opening Day rotation. I would assume the goal over sending him down for a couple of weeks is to get him the chance to work on his control and mechanics, which have been seriously struggling and causing most of his problems. Hopefully we will see good numbers in the two or three starts out of Chico and not a collapse that sometimes comes from a demotion like this.


But I would anticipate that Matt will be back with the big club in September as one of the call-ups. In fact I think that the club owes it to him to come back up and at east keep him with the club and give him a couple more innings in September. I understand the need to see more of Lannan, Hanrahan, and possibly Bowie if he returns, but Chico has been the closest thing that this team has had to an iron man on the pitching staff and deserves at least a little prize for his efforts. Plus, even with his bad starts, the kid posted an ERA of under 5.00, better than some of the pitchers on the '06 staff. So Matt, good luck and see you again in September, and then again in February when you get a shot to pitch that opening series in the South Capitol home.

Trader Jim Strikes Back

So only one day after signing the last in a long line of draft picks, JimBo has finally pulled the trigger on Wily Mo Pena who has been widely talked about as a possible waiver trade for the Nats. So now we have a 25 year old former Cincy outfielder for a player to be named later. It is now officially my hope that we can pursue Adam Dunn in the off-season if for no reason other than consistency in our outfield acquisitions.

But the trade with Boston raises at least two questions. First, who goes to pay for Pena. In a perfect world, you would trade a Logan or a Church or maybe even a Langerhans; coupled with a King or Bacsik for Pena. The main hope is that the Nats don't give up one of the shiny new draft pieces for the seriously slumping Pena. The second and more pressing issue is: where will he play? Even if he gets sent to Columbus for a couple of weeks, Pena is almost a given as a September call-up, but the other question is whether he will be at RFK as soon as this weekend and whether we will try him at LF or CF. These questions and more have yet to be answered. But here is the official release anyway.

OK, question answered. Pena will play left, Church center, and Kearns continues in right. So ends the Nook Logan Experiment.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Zimmerman's Defense

At this point, it is well established that Zimm is one of the best defensive 3rd basemen in the majors. That is right now, at age 22. But he does have a serious problem, namely, sailing the ball every time he has an easy play to make. This simply doesn't make sense. It goes against the fundamental concept of "easy", being something that is "not hard or difficult; requiring no great labor or effort." (Thank you Webster's). In fact, Ryan has now committed 18 errors over the course of the season, which just happens to be the same number of home runs the Zimmerman has hit going into tonight's game. Now, the thinking from the Nationals brain trust seems to be that there is a basic mechanical issue that needs to get worked out by Ryan. It is either foot work (Manny) or he is standing too tall (Ryan). In a way, it seems that they are both right. Zimmerman seems to pull his feet in too close together when he has time with a throw, which both puts his feet out of position and makes him stand too tall. This isn't something huge. In fact, its something that can get and hopefully will get worked out in the near future. But if Zimm wants a Gold Glove, he needs to take the problem seriously, or he risks just become a mediocre infielder and a defensive liability as he loses range later (much later) in his career. Last year's winner, the perennial winner, Scott Rolen, committed only 15 for the season, which was a high number for Rolen, who has committed 10 or less a number of times in his career. But one thing is forgotten about ol' Scotty: in his first full season, he committed 24 errors, and followed that up with 14 the next two seasons. Even the god of all third basemen, Brooks Robinson committed 21 errors in his first full year. But Zimmerman has the talent, and ability, to be as good or better than Rolen, and maybe even Brooks defensively. This year is, in effect, the delayed rookie season for Zimmerman, and if he works to solve his issues, we should see the outstanding numbers that he is capable of.

In the meantime, he has hit 18 homers going into tonight's rubber match. Last year he hit 20. This year he will easily match and likely surpass that total by a wide margin. But all this raises the new poll question of the week. Will Zimmerman end this season with more HRs or more E5s? The polls are now open, please vote and feel free to discuss.

A little hometown love for John Lannan

This is a great little story about Lannan from the point of view of a guy who knew him in middle school and got to watch him pitch that solid game against the Giants a little while back (that was only like a week ago wasn't it? Seems longer to me.) But anyway, hopefully the guy will get his wish: Lannan isn't at Shea, but he is starting against the Mets (Lannan is from Long Island) on Saturday at RFK.

Batting 1.000 in the Draft!!!

OK, so the Nats have decided to really step up tonight. A great win over the Phillies, and a last minute announcement that Jack McGeary signed on the dotted line for a $1.8 million bonus. This means that the Nationals have signed 20 of their top 20 draft picks. This is not only astounding, it is borderline unprecedented. I tip my hats to the Lerners who went out of the slot to pay for McGeary and got what they said they were looking for. I mean, this kid turned down a scholarship to Stanford and now finds himself the next in line of Washington Nationals young LHPs.

The big thing is that the Nationals went way over slot for this signing. Everyone has said that McGeary of 1st round talent, but nobody thought he would ever sign. Turns out he had 1.8 million reasons to sign with the Nationals and he did. This just makes me giddy, I got to watch another great home game, plus the last of the star draft picks is in the fold!

Now, Bill Ladson had posted a downer of a story right after the Smoker signing about how McGeary was not, just flat out not going to sign with the Nationals and had decided to go to Stanford. I've got to say that I was a little skeptical when it was published, and it was roundly denounced in both the Post and the Washington Times and pretty much everywhere else that said the deal was still open and it was just a matter of how much money the Nationals were willing to spend (read; how willing to piss off MLB the Lerners were). And now, reading back through that article of Ladson's, two main things caught my eye. First, Dana Brown was the source of all the talk on the Nationals' side of things. Brown knows scouting, but he is not, repeat NOT the GM or the President, who are the ones making decisions on whether deals are dead or not. This one clearly was not. I think that it was telling that the info was coming from a scouting director, not somebody more directly involved in the operations and signing side of these things. It was Brown's job to find McGeary, not to sign him. The second thing is the statements from McGeary himself, "I was surprised that I was taken as high as sixth. I thought I would be falling in the teens or 20s." This means that he probably felt like the Nats wanted him, plus it made it easier to go over the slot and pay 1st round money for a sixth round pick then 1st round for a 15th round pick. Overall, I think that Nats320 is right, this draft had the ability to be a turning point: it is. The Nationals and the Lerners have stepped up and paid the money that they needed to and have now made the light pay roster of this year make even more sense. The extra bonuses to those like Smoker and McGeary were at least in part possible because of The Plan. All hail The PLAN (at least for tonight).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Josh Smoker is a Washington National

Or, more precisely, a Gulf Coast League National for the time being. The signing was announced today and means, as I'm sure you have heard, that the Nats have signed 19 of their 20 picks. Smoker came for a nice even number: $1 MILLION. It was a good pick up and means that the Nationals have now signed both of their compensation picks from letting go of Soriano at the end of the season and not trading him last July. The result is basically getting Smoker, a hot prospect and only 18 years old, along with Jordan Zimmermann, a RHP currently with the Lake Monsters as part of that phenomenal pitching lineup in Vermont. So, in the end, Bowden got what he wanted, namely two young pitching prospects in exchange for an all-star rental.

That leaves only one late pick that the Nationals would love, but don't need to take in order to have had a great draft year. So for all the comments about how the Lerners haven't been giving up the $$, this should quiet some of that, it means that they are willing to not only pay for usable now college talent (Detwiler), but also to pay good money for high school talent that will fill out the system and give us something to grow over the years.

Smoker likely the Newest National

Barry on the Journal is reporting that Josh Smoker has likely signed and the official announcement will be made at 4:30 this evening. I haven't been able to find any info about dollars or anything else, but it looks like that Nationals have brought another good young arm to Washington and have now signed all but one sixth-round draft pick from this year's Amateur Draft. More on the details if I find them. Ok, Nationals Farm Authority now saying a $950K bonus was reported by the Washington Times.

Wily Mo

The Boston Globe is reporting that the Sox are looking to reach a deal with a National League team in the near future and are close to reaching a deal. There has been a lot of talk about the Nats being the team that picks up Pena, who has recently cleared waivers and could be up for grabs. There isn't a lot of additional info on this, though I have seen some rumors that the deal has fallen through. Still no word on the more hopeful (and more likely) signing of Smoker or possibility Jack McGeary, though McGeary is widely thought to be going to college, not pro ball. Here is the deal, the Nats have the chance, but likely not the goods, to make a trade with Boston for the likes of Pena, who has had an awful season. But there is, at least in my mind, a good possibility that Smoker will get signed, likely above his slot, and that we will see him in the system for a couple of weeks before he heads out to fall and winter ball, which I would assume is likely for a kid in his position. If something is heard, which is hopefully will be, then I'll get it our as soon as possible.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bye bye Bacsik

And with that, you can bid Mike Bacsik adieu as a starter from the Washington Nationals. With Tuesday being the return of Hill to the, well, hill, it means that there needs to be a spot opened up in the rotation. So Bacsik was the choice. And really he was the only one.

Lannan-been too good, and you haven't seen enough to make a true decision.
Hanrahan-same as Lannan, but has shown more consistent composure and has seriously looked like a veteran of a couple seasons in his starts.
Redding-Older than the rest of the options (he'll be 30 over the winter), but he has shown good stuff recently and could become a good veteran piece or even a low-level trade at a later date. But again, you need to keep seeing him.
Chico-Last man standing. I know that he has struggled in his last 3 to 5 starts or so, but he is the only person to hold up through the whole season and you have to at least give him a cookie for that work.

That leaves Bacsik. He simply hasn't been spotting his pitches and, to be honest, it looks like everyone has seen enough of him now that the book on Bacsik is pretty open and he has to pitch perfect in order to work through a major league lineup once, let alone two or three times. So he's going to the bullpen. I hope that he does well and I wish him luck.

But all this raises an even bigger question. The Nats, with the 300 pitchers called into Spring Training and mocked in so many places (including here to some degree), but the end result now is that you have a bunch of mediocre to promising arms that you have let start and now you want to see them all. But I've heard rumors, especially on the TV broadcast Don Sutton had a throw away line a couple nights ago, that there would not be a six-man rotation. This, in my opinion, would be the way to go with this team. It would give you the chance to see an additional pitcher for a couple more starts and spread around the experience. But I wasn't hired in the off-season and Manny was, so the rotation stays at five. This means that as Bergmann and maybe Bowie get back, there may be even fewer spots and more people will have to get shuffled to the 'pen. It also means that we will likely not see Ross Detwiler brought up, even for a brief showing, this season. I think that this is probably good. We have seen a lot, I mean a lot of young arms and have found a couple of guys that might have parts in the rotation in '08. But we don't need to rush Detwiler just so that we can all oooh and aaah until he gets slapped around in the early innings. The most impressive thing is the confidence and ability to bounce back after a beating that most of the call-ups have shown. A lot of that comes from time spent well in the minors and is something that Detwiler (who needs a nickname by the way) can only learn down on the farm. So, with folks like Bacsik going to the 'pen, its best that the young promising arms stay down and build experience. No ball on Monday, and look forward to the all important August 15 deadline for draft signings coming up this week!!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

So that was an abusive loss. 11-4 is not what you look for out of a team that is supposed to be on a winning streak and looking for a good end to the regular season. But it is what we got. And it was all because of one thing. Walks, all 10 of them killed this game. I thought it was over for sure when Chico started literally giving away runs like candy, but then Livo decided to give up homer like so much of the same candy. I was really kind of a chronic problem for all Nats pitchers today. 10 walks. I really just don't know what to say. I mean, Rivera and King walked 4 and only got one out between the two of them! But deep breath. This is bound to happen to all pitchers sometimes. They are after all, human. Except for Rauch who is simply too tall to qualify at simply human.

But back to my point, the real issue is that they all crapped out at once. This is no good. We could have handled Chico, or even Chico and Rivera. But three pitchers all missing their marks on one night is just too much. It really cast a shadow on the fun of batting practice off Livan, or as Carpenter referred to it, slow-pitch softball off Livan.

So, since its late, or early, or whatever two things to take away.

1. Matt Chico is starting to look shaky and in need of some more seasoning again. This is unfortunate, but not really unexpected. The kid is 22 and never even saw a AAA start in his life. Months like this are going to happen.

2. Homers are not enough for this team to win consistently. In fact, the Nats look their best when everyone is drilling doubles around the park like the St. Louis series looked at times. We hit 3 solo shots and scored 4 runs. Need more base runners, more base hits, and less of the ill-timed long ball.

Alright, enough for now, I need sleep.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Just Had to Post This...Now w/ Commentary

Got this email from MASN regarding the outage earlier:

Thank you for contacting MASN.

Television blackouts are periodically imposed upon all teams in Major League Baseball. They are beyond the control of the teams themselves.On Saturday night, the start of the Nationals’ game was briefly blacked out for about 15 percent of MASN’s subscriber audience.

A miscommunication regarding blackout programming for Saturday night’s game caused some DC area cable subscribers to miss the first several innings of the game. Satellite customers were not affected, nor were any cable customers outside of the Washington, D.C. area.While this was an isolated incident --- and was in fact the first network error in MASN’s three year history of televising more than 430 Nationals baseball games -- it was unacceptable and we apologize for the inconvenience.

We appreciate the feedback from Nationals fans, who allowed us to correct the mistake quickly.

MASN will continue to hold ourselves to the standards of excellence that the Nationals and their fans deserve from their sports network.

Thank you again for contacting MASN.

Sincerely,
Your friends at the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network

Well, it only took 5 days for them to email back, so thanks for small favors. But here is the real issue. It seems like MASN is dumping the blame either on Baseball, or on DCA. Well, that's fine. But here is the problem: As the provider of the game's feed and as the producer of the product, you would think that MASN would make an explicit effort to make sure that their product gets out eeach and every day. Apparently, they don't do that. I guess its just enough to have cameras and Bob and Don there and hope for the best. This is not only bad for the fans, its a stupid premise to run a network on.

Second, it said that the blackout (read here: our inability to do our jobs) only affected 15% of MASN subscribers. Those being the 15% that are within the DC Metro area and could have seen the game on DCA. Masn covers a huge area according to their website: The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) is a registered trade name of TCR Sports Broadcasting Holding, LLP, a regional sports network. MASN serves a 7 state area, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Charlotte, North Carolina and including Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, the District of Columbia and parts of West Virginia. So what this means is that the people who couldn't watch the game are the ones that would be most interested in doing so. It was the people that live in DC and the 'burbs. I would be that folks in Cleveland Park, Rockville, and Arlington have more interest in the Nationals game than people north of Aberdeen or in North Carolina. So this means that even though only 15% of possible viewers were blacked out, something like 50% of the hardcore Nats fans got screwed. This is just poor and needs to be fixed.

The last thing is the half truth about it being the first network failure. OK, it is the first time that the game was suposed to be on WDCA that it wasn't. But it is by no means the first time that there have been 'technical difficulties'. I have personally had at least 4 outages this season, including Wednesday night when the feed went black right at the beginning of the game and the sound and picture kept freezing and cutting out for the first inning. If you want Nationals fans to quit complaining, yelling, emailing, calling, and writing letters, then don't run a network that would be considered poor by a Community College-run local cable access channel. In other words, Peter Angelos, pay up. You got the TV rights, now spend some money to protect them. I would be that a failure to provide regular TV access to the DC area for Nationals games could be considered a breach of the agreement that you stole from MLB. In fact, maybe that's it. DC is a litigous town Stan, find some lawyers and sue MASN. If they can't provide good access, maybe this agreement should be void. Put somebody on that. Or send the MASN agreeement to me and I'll get on it! Just so long as we can end this idiocy and I can watch games every night like anyone else in the United States (and parts of Canada) get to without fear of 'technical difficulty' lies from MASN.

Giants Early Re-cap

So now we are only waiting for the business-person's special in San Fran to start and then the Nats' date with history is done. Its obvious that now Mike Bacsik is going to be the answer to a trivia question for the rest of time. And after I saw the pitch, the first thing that I thought was, man, he really missed with that pitch. But then, after staying up late to watch the press conference, and reading some of Manny's comments in the paper, I almost have to wonder if Bacsik accidently on purpose left that pitch up in the zone. I've got three reasons for this thought. First, Bacsik is a soft-tosser, but he chose in a full ocunt against the most feared hitter in a generation to throw his fastball. Just doesn't really make sense. I would love to hear from Schneider how they come to that pitch and why they threw it then. Second, is Manny's comments after the game that he felt Mike was a little to excited about being part of history. And third is the way that Bacsik came off during the interview. He was well-spoken, funny, and thoughtful. But that isn't what was so interesting. When he was asked about giving it up, he seemed less interested in the fact that it but the Giants up by one, and more interested in the fact that he was now part of history and since someone had to give up the homer, it might as well have been him. All of this make me wonder if he wasn't at least a little happy in a perverse sort of way that it was him that gave it up. Now, I'm glad it wasn't Lannan, who would then become the most infamous rookie pitcher in the history of the game, but I get the feeling, kinda like when a cable company tells you that a game isn't on because of 'technical difficulties', but you suspect something more, and wonder why Mike Bacsik chose that pitch then.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

No Bonds, but I still don't care

Alright, so Barry didn't hit 756*. But it happened in a game that I can only describe as bittersweet. I hate watching losses in extra frames, and I hate it even more when it means that I stay up until something like 2 in the morning only to watch Chad give it up (not that I blame him, everyone gives it up occasionally) and then Ray King, giver of sage advice, pretty much fall apart on the mound in the 11th. I hate games like that. just hate 'em.

But, every cloud has a silver lining as they say, and this one was named John Lannan. Lannan, it is well known, is the 3,241st starting pitcher to be used by the Nats this year and started the season playing Real Baseball, Real Close, down in A ball. But now, despite the fears of many who have commented on the Journal and elsewhere, Lannan's most infamous moment remains breaking Chase Utley's hand. And for that I'm happy. I'm also glad that the team got a little respect out of the national media who was in S.F. to make an electric atmosphere more circus like, and then cover the moment. ESPN, si.com, thank you for mentioning that at least our pitcher doesn't suck, though your story was at best one note when compared to Svrluga's. But even though some of it was begrudging admiration at best, the most backhanded compliments came from John Donovan. John I guess thinks that a kid pitching seven innings of 1 run, that's right 1 run ball isn't reason enough to leave him in. Nope, it must be a slight against Bonds, because Bonds is in a hitting slump, yep, it was a hitting slump, not a decent outing by a rookie pitcher that you haven't heard of because you have your head so....well, I think that I make my point. The worst part is I agree with Donovan about Bond's hitting. He isn't in a slump, he's just not that good anymore. He is 43 years old. His swing does have holes in it. Yes, he can crush the ball if he hits it, but he has to hit it first. This is why I respect Manny, who chose to not once issue the intentional walk, and instead Bonds only drew 1 "normal" walk and went 0-3. That isn't so shocking, it just shows that he's human. A living incarnation of a juiced bobble-head sure, but still, largely just human. I just don't see this 'slump' as something new or creative. More just a thing to roll out when a new and under-the-radar pitcher comes in and does something unexpected while you are actually watching a game that doesn't involve a team from Boston or one wearing pin-stripes. But enough of that, I'm still mostly angry from lack of sleep and losing a decent little win-streak.

Next up for the merry-go-round of fun is Mike Basik. He's been pitching pretty solid and if he doesn't let his nerves get to him, he should be able to handle the most aging Giants line-up and make for another great game. By the way, my prediction is, NO HOMER in this series. I have my reasons, which I will only get into if I am proven to be a genius. So take a nap after work and stay up late on a Tuesday to watch history not be made as the Nats take on the San Fransisco Barry Bo...er...Giants.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Open Letter to MASN

To TCR Sports Broadcasting Holding, L.L.P., who is better known to sports fans in the region as MASN:

We, the fans of the Washington Nationals are tired. Since the creation of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and the revival of Washington baseball in 2005, we, the fans, have suffered insults that no other fans of any sport have been forced to endure.

For the Inaugural Season, the majority of us were left without games in our homes because of a disagreement that your principal owner had with Comcast cable. Disagreements between the Orioles and cable providers resulted in a stunted fan base, a confused public, and frustrated Washingtonians. While this slight was taken personally by many in the Nationals Nation, we have, largely, moved beyond it. The expansion of MASN and MASN2 to all the major cable providers salved some, if not all wounds.

But the 2006 and the 2007 seasons have not resulted in any honeymoon period. For 2006, our club operated like a shoe-string minor league team. There was no pre-game, no post-game, minimal graphics, and extensive advertising for sports teams in a different city all together. All of this while the Nationals served as the sole reason for the existence of the MASN network at this early stage in its development.

With the 2007 season we again looked hopefully for change. The inclusion of pre- and post-game programming, the addition of commentators and reporters all gave hope that the Nationals and their fans would be treated to the professional programming that is due a Major League baseball team. But again, our hope has been misplaced. This season has resulted in technical difficulties that have meant lost games, missed moments, and damped efforts to grow a fan base for a still very new club in its new home. The "technical difficulties" that resulted in the loss of the game on August 4, which was scheduled for WDCA was not the first, and will likely not be the last such transgression.

This letter is not a call for restitution, or compensation, or even an apology. This is a demand that you, quite simply, do your jobs. Produce and supply to us, the fans and your customers, the very minimal product that promised us when you handed out schedules for our refrigerators at RFK Stadium on Opening Day. Give us our baseball. Give it to us in its entirety. Give it to us with sound, without fear of blocked signals, of programming cutoffs in extra innings, of innings or even entire games lost to "technical difficulties" that never seem to be sully resolved. All that we ask is that you MASN, give us the very same treatment, and quality product that you supply to any other Major League club that you serve. Many fans of the Nationals are fans of wider baseball. Sadly, I have heard no stories of "technical difficulties" that have resulted in the loss of games, or even innings, for any other Major League club that you provide for.

All that we ask is for the same. All that we ask for is what we have been promised. All we ask for is our Nationals. And if you cannot provide it, then give us back control of our own future.

Signed,

A Nationals Fan

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Nook Logan Experiment

OK, I know that I'm likely not the first to write about this, but with Fick due back from berevement any day now, the status of the various center field experiments need so be discussed.

Watson, as I discussed earlier, had to come up and show that he could hit in the bigs. He has, by and large in the last ocuple of days, shown that he can. As Barry discussed in his blog, Watson is also out of options and would have to clear waivers if he goes back down. That's not likely to happen. So, if Watson stays, and he should stay, then who goes down to make room for Fick? I see only two real candidates. Tony Batista and Nook Logan. Tony would be an option, but then you have a team that is really heavy on outfields and lacks any serious options in the infield.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Is Cleveland still owned by that lady from Major League?

Since we have now finished receiving our just deserts out behind the woodshed, lets just take a minute and consider what has happened recently.
1. We have been playing, as is so oft-reported, above .500 ball recently
2. We are better than not one, not two, but THREE other major (that's right I said major) league clubs.
3. We swept the O's in Camden and they fired their manager. hahahahahaha.
4. We then proceeded to get swept (and abused) by the reigning AL Champs and .300 BA Tigers.

So what does all this tell us? That we are a really bad team with no hope of competing in the 2007 or probably 2008 season. But it also shows us that we have the ability to string together wins and play at least as well as one team with a payroll that is $60 million dollars more.

But looking ahead to the Indians series this weekend, when I get to go and sit in my real seats as opposed to the impostor ones that I had for the Tigers series, which, even though a way better view than I normally get disoriented me without the need for Miller Lite for at least the first 3 innings, oh yeah the Indians. We need to see what we have to learn. First, we get to see if this team can bounce back from a hard set of losses after a fairly lengthy decent streak. I'm going to be an optimist. I think that they can. I was there for the 9-8 loss and it was good to see that even though they put themselves in that whole, they tried to dig out of it. It shows character. So we have limited talent, but plenty of moxie. I also think that it will give Bowie and Basik what could be the last shot they have at showing why they belong here and not with the Clippers. Which leads me to my next point. It is very nearly July. Trader Jim has been hording his roll-over minutes from the New AT&T for months and is ready to spend them. So who is going to be gone by this time next month? Here's my Top 5.

1. Dimitri Young-Traded to Minnesota
2. Nook Logan-AAA Columbus
3. Micah Bowie-traded, don't have any idea where, but somebody will want a lefty.
4. Mike Basik-AAA
5. Ronnie Belliard- St. Louis (yes, that's right)

Starting with Young. He's gotta go. I think he has played great, I think he is hitting the cover off the ball, but he will ultimately get shipped off.

Nook. What can you do with Nook? Well, for starters, nobody is going to want him. He will get sent down at some point because he is taking up space. If Watson shows any ability at all with the bat, I think that you could see Fick returning from bereavement as the end of the Nook Logan Experience.

B&B-I just have a feeling that they will go either as part of a deal, or to make space in the big club. I don't really have any reason for this one, just a gut feeling.

Belliard. Now, everyone knows that he is another catch and release veteran for Bowden. But I only put him on this list because I don't think that anyone will bite at that 500 lbs. tuna that Trader Jim has named Cristian Guzman. If someone would take him, and most, or at least part, of his salary then Guuuuuz would be out of here. We would play Belliard up the middle and have ended the Guzman era in DC and be waiting for the next thing up the middle.

So, that's it for now. comments, as always, are welcome.

Friday, May 25, 2007

OK, a new post finally

Alright, I'm finally done with law school, have a week before the bar review classes begin, and the family has left town after graduation. As a result, I can finally post again. And while I have been lax on the posts, I certainly haven't missed the last couple of weeks of baseball. I mean, hom cooking is supposed to be good, but 1-8 followed by 7-3 from a club that is supposed to lose 130 games?!? I think that this just goes to show that the national prognosticators don't really know anything about baseball if it doesn't have Sox in the name or wear pinstripes. But that is a story for another time. Since the big Nats aren't playing on Memorial Day, I have taken the advice of the pamphlet that came with some season ticket junk in the mail and decided to go watch the baby P-Nats play some real baseball real close. And as I type we have a 5-2 lead over the Cards and Power Austin just made a spectacular catch in right field. More amazing than the diving catch on the warning track was the fact that he turned it into a double play at first base with an outfield assist! I love this game. (Man, I'm just a walking slogan right now). Ok, there really isn't anything serious in this post, just a check in and prove that I'm alive (not that anyone really reads this). But since I'm going to watch Class A this weekend, I figured that I would do a comparison and a note on my impressions from the kids that are the real future of this club, with no disrespect to the guys at Columbus or Harrisburg. So more after the weekend, but enjoy the games against your World Series champs for this weekend and hope for another good couple of wins.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Minor League update and Battle of the Basement

Barry Svrugla mentioned in his Nats Journal today, as I did a couple weeks ago, that the minor league teams aren't really living up to the hope and dreams of The Plan. I'm glad that I am not the only one who finds this notable, if not concerning. But more on the generalized state of the Minors after we talk about the true meaning of today's game against the Phillies.
This game, more than any of the others we have played against our divisional friends is one that gives us a chance to really build some team mojo by playing a club that is NOT meeting or exceeding expectations. The Mets, Marlins, Braves, and even the D-Backs were expected to be at least decent this season and have been playing better than, well, at least us. But the Phillies, oohhhhh the Phillies. Thanks to the Curse of Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies have made our bad start look, umm, bad instead of galactically awful. The Phils are 3-9, making our 4-10 look, while, at least slightly better. So this first little mini-series of the season between the Nationals and the Phillies is a chance for the Nats to not only gain a little ground from the cellar of the division, but its also an opportunity, the very first opportunity of the season in fact, for the Nationals to beat up on a team that hasn't is playing poorly, meshing poorly, and has a coach that wants to beat up radio personalities. So what the Nationals need to do is play the same ball that they have for about the last week. Even though the record hasn't always borne it out, the play for the last week or so has been solid. Even in the games that end up in the loss column, the team is losing 6-4, 4-3 instead of 8-2, 137-4. This really means that it is the pitching, especially our much vaunted starters that have toed the rubber and started at least throwing a serviceable outing each night. We still don't have the 6 2/3 to 8 inning starts that we need to be truly competitive and protect our bullpen (by the way, what about Saul Rivera on Monday?!) but 5 to 7 innings with 2-4 runs is at least competitive. So if the Nationals play how they have been and maybe actually score a run in the first inning, then we have a golden opportunity to take a couple of wins (and a short series) from a division rival.

Now, onto the Minor League standings:

Potomac 6-3
Hagerstown 4-8
Harrisburg 2-9
Columbus 3-9

That is a combined 15-29, but more telling is that the upper Minor League teams are 5-18, while the Class A clubs are playing a more respectable 10-11. This, even more clearly than my little mini-analysis last week sometime shows that the talent, what little there is, isn't ready to be in the bigs yet, its stuck in the low minors. That means that you won't be seeing much of it this year, probably not much next year, but you should really be getting ready for 2010 when we should have some pretty good young kids playing ball in DC! But in all seriousness, its should be expected that as the organization develops those numbers should continue to improve up the list so that Columbus is playing 7-5 right now instead of 3-9. But just for the sake of consistency, 15-29 spread out over 162 magical games is 55-107. But if you look only at Class A teams, the young guys, you get 77-85, which is better than last year's team. So keep looking to the future, but enjoy beating on the broken Phillies tonight.

Monday, April 16, 2007

New Blog Added

OK, if St. Barry can show that he is goig to at least be around for the summer (which, if his latest post is at all acurate, is a yes) then I'll add him to the list. Congrats Barry and the Nationals Journal, now we only need you to compete with the other team that plays in RFK.......

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Back to the Future....

This should, in effect be the theme of this enitre season for the NAAAAtionals. Much of this team, especially the pitching, is either a cheap filler (Hellloooooo Jason Bergman) or a prospect that would be in the International League with any other franchise (awkward silence and stares at Matt Chico and Jerome Williams). But despite this, we have learned a couple of things over the last (almost) two weeks.

First, starting pitching IS important and we have none of it. Since Opening Day, the NAAAAts have stuck out 46 batters AS A STAFF and have also walked 46. The next closest teams are the Metropolitans and the Yankees, both of whom have 9 more Ks than BB. And they both have lass than 40 walks. While this does take into account the bullpen, the point remains the same, AS A STAFF, our pitching can't find the plate. This means walks, this means people on base, say at the start of every single inning you pitch because, hey, what fun would it be if you don't walk the pitcher who is TRYING to get out in order to load the bases with no outs against the Bravos. But I digress, the issue is our pitching and why it needs help.

So, for a little better picture, lets look at where we are as a team, in a number of pitching categories. I looked at the top and bottom 5 for each of the following, and here it is:

TOP 5
Losses
Hits
Runs
Earned Runs
Home Runs
Walks

bottom 5
Wins
ERA
Saves
Save Opportunities
Strikeouts

Now, the saves thing isn't fair to Chad, since we only have one win and it came in the bottom of the 9th, but the point really is that we have a club that seems to be in pitching bizarro world where a walk is good and Wins are something to be scorned like lepers.

But there remains hope in the world because, as we have all been told since we couldn't trade Soriano last July, the Nats were going to be the NAAAATs this season and we should all just shut up, sit there waiting for the new park and be glad that they aren't the NAAts or the NFRONTIERLEAGUEts. So that's right, this all all ok because its part of THE PLAN. Which should mean that even if the big club sucks, the kids in Columbus, Hagerstown and Potomac should be showing signs of possible greatness, right?

So here are the records so far:
Columbus 2-4
Harrisburg 0-6
Potomac 4-1
Hagerstown 2-5

I'm leaving out the Rookie leagues, but the point is, our minor league system is a combined 8-16. This is a record of 54-108 over 162 games, since that is kind of the standard we work with here. Now, I don't think that the Senators are going to actually lose EVERY single game, but when THE PLAN hinges on getting good players and having depth in the minors, Kasten and Bowden have a loooooooooooooooong way to go.

So, after two weeks, yelling at the TV, freezing in the upper deck at RFK and wondering what sort of voodoo hex Christian Guzman put on Zimmerman, this is what we can learn from the last couple of weeks:

NOT A THING

Manny is right, the guys are right, and we should all just bear in mind that the fine and upstanding folks at ESPN, si.com, or where ever else you read national (not Nationals) baseball news really don't pay attention unless you play in New York or Boston or your name rhymes with Roger Clemens (oh wait....). So we should all just understand that this season is probably going to be really painful. But it will still warm up, there will still be good plays, good hits, and even Ramon Ortiz could take a no-no into the 9th once in a season. The failures of the current, already injury-ridden, big league team isn't what we should be worried about. We should be more concerned that the Harrisburg Senators are 0-6 and that the plan, sorry, THE PLAN might not be happening as quickly as we all might hope.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Season Tickets!!!!



The fact that I was finally able to get my season tickets from the nice people at Fedex, who while


requiring my signature and making me drive to Rockville to get them at least managed to be a major improvement over the clusterfuck that was DHL last year. And with my tickets in hand (even though I had my Opening Day seats a couple weeks ago), it is making me consider the status of the fans for this season.




Where are they all? Yes the Nats are supposed to be bad this year. I don't think that there is cause for the 100+ losses that some have been predicting, but I DO agree that there is little hope for an 82+ win season. That being said, it is still baseball, in DC, and the first opening day in the District since anyone except maybe Boswell can remember. So then why are there still 15K seats available?




The Answer: SPREAD THE WORD!! Like the holy gospel that it is the Good News of opening day (which does fall close to another particularly important holiday), those that are Nationals fans must proselytize to the unbelievers. And in this quest for conversions there is no greater power than tickets to OPENING DAY. There are few, if any that can resist the true and blessed experience of playing hooky on a Monday to drink beer in the early afternoon, eat sub-par food, and watch some baseball. This is the Holy Trinity that will lead to the survival of the franchise. The Lerners are the owners and the city has the ability to support a team. But in order for this to work, for the franchise to be successful, and for us to have a team 10, 20, 50 years from now, we need to establish that this IS a baseball town. That means that people need to do what they do every time it thinks about snowing within 50 miles of RFK: skip work without any remorse. And when you do, go bask in the warmth of the best thing in the world, mid-day baseball.




So for anyone who is actually reading this post, remember this one last point. This point in the season, especially Opening Day is not about winning or losing so much as about the EXPERIENCE. By June, July, or maybe even May, this site will be complaining about the numbers and the pitching and the total lack of a center fielder who can hit a double while the shortstop is asleep, but that is for later, NOW is about the possibility of being 1.000 after next Monday and the POSSIBILITY of a winning season. It is about the giant American Flag on the field, the extra fanfare, booing Cheney and everything else that can and does make baseball in DC great. But there is one thing that is needed to make it all work, ALL THE SEATS IN RFK FULL. So please, bring a friend to the ballpark on April 2 and make Opening Day in DC the tradition that it needs to be.






Thursday, March 22, 2007

More of the Rotation Name Game

OK, there were more cuts and more to talk about after yesterday's game against Atlanta. First, Belliard and Fick both got their contracts purchased by the Nationals. This isn't a huge surprise. Fick isn't great, but he can play almost anywhere with some level of competency and hits from the left. This means he will almost ALWAYS find work somewhere. Acta seems smitten with Belliard, so he was all but given a spot on the roster. To make room, Restovich and Castro got outrighted. This should have happened and isn't that big of a deal. Restovich looked awful at the plate and Castro just doesn't have the tools to be in the Bigs. This means that the last big question is the rotation. It looks/sounds like Hill and Chico have pretty much been given a spot in the lineup. That means that 3 of the 5 spots have been filled. Jason Simontacchi was also considered to be a lock, but he is struggling with a muscle strain. This means that two spots, not just one still remain open. For the sake of argument, lets say Simontacchi misses his next start and won't be ready for Opening Day. I don't think it likely, but lets just say. So who is available for those 2 last magic spots?

Tim Redding
OK, Redding is a re-tread. Fine, has experience, needs a shot. Had a couple of bad starts but could have had a chance to make up for it. That chance was last night. He blew it. 3 ER in 3 innings. His ERA for Spring Training is over 11 and it's not due to one really bad start. Its because of a lot of really bad starts. He should and will be gone, even if Simontacchi isn't ready to play.

Jerome Williams
Williams has pitched alright. He isn't a re-tread, he isn't a rookie. He is a could-have-been. And he has pitched fairly well this spring. 5.40 ERA, 4 BB and 5 Ks. This is over 8.1 innings. Like I said, not great, but at least OK. He could be a decent #5 guy if Simontacchi isn't able to start the season. Plus, he is young enough at 25 to still be worth something if he turns out to be serviceable in the middle of the season. I make him my #4 guy.

Joel Hanrahan
He has a worse ERA than Redding (12.71), but has only thrown for a little over 5 innings. If I remember right, Joel got rocked once in a really short start, and then has thrown well a couple of other times. I don't think that he has shown what is needed, but he is on the bubble. I would out him as a #6 guy that you may see in if he has a glowing start.

Jason Bergmann
First, I don't really like Jason Bergmann. No particular reason, I just really didn't like him last season. I cringed when he took the mound. But that said, he has pitched better than the rest of the possibilities for the rotation. But most of this is out of the 'pen, not in starts. I think that you may see him spot start and work out of the bullpen. If Simontacchi looks to be out for a short period and the Nats have already decided to carry Bergmann out of the bullpen, you might see him get a couple of starts. I think he may deserve it. As crappy as Redding was yesterday, Bergmann looked good. He got hit hard at the end, but pitched a few solid innings. I think he deserves a shot, but since he has options available, he might not be up to start with.

Levale Speinger
Speinger is a Rule 5 guy, which means that he (like catcher Jesus Flores) has to stay on the club's major league roster or we lose him. And it stands to reason that if you got him in the first place, you want to keep him. Plus, in 8.2 innings, Speinger is yet to give up a run. This means that I give him the best shot at being the #5 guy for the rotation as a stop-gap from the bullpen if Simontacchi isn't ready.

So, if Simontacchi is out, then the rotation will likely look like this:
Patterson
Hill
Chico
Williams
Speinger (out of the bullpen)

Questions, comments, anyone that I missed are always welcome.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rotation

Just a quick update....Here is my prediction for the rotation. (A little late, so not really a genius guess)
Patterson
Hill
Simontacchi
Chico
Williams

Who is missing from the list? Early favorite Mr. Redding who has currently given up 3 runs 2 ER in his first innning of work against the Bravas. Consider this the last time you will see Redding in a Nats uniform. I'll write something about the minor league pick-up of the week (Pedro) tommorrow. Now, GO WATCH THE GAME!!! (its on MASN).

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Tony Womack bobblehead day has now been postponed indefinately.....


The Nationals have seen the light and cut 112 year old infielder Tony Womack. So begins the great purge. Fear not Mr. Womack soon other has-beens and never-wases will join you on the scrap heap of Viera 2007.
In releasing T-Wo, the Nats also sent a number of others to the minors. I could list all the names, or you could follow the link. But of note in the list Tony Blanco and Melvin Dorta, both of whom have been on again, off again choices for off the bench infielders. They have now effectively been replaced. This means that, even at this still somewhat early date, Ronnie Belliard is going to be the off the bench middle infielder. So if you don't like Agent .000 (I just love that one), or J-Lo's husband up the middle, I hope that you like Belliard, because that is who you are going to see.
Remember kids, the Nats-Astros rematch will be live today at 1pm on MASN, and it looks like it will be replayed at 7pm. If somebody knows that for sure, let me know and I'll update.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Nats 2, 'stros 5

Ok, this is just a quick little analysis post. First, for the good things that happened. Hill looks like he might actually be able to show up and make a couple of good innings of pitching (like at least 3) and if he does this at least one more time looks like a lock for the rotation based solely on the numbers. The other good, D'Angelo "E6" Jimenez managed to overcome his nickname (thanks to Barry Svrugla) and not commit an error today! Couple that with a 2-3 showing at the plate and this is a positive impact for the day, Hooray!! Ok, enough of beating up on the scrubs that got invited to camp...at least the position players.

From the pitching line....Saul Rivera is the reason we lost. I'm sorry to be blunt, but he gave up 2 homers in one inning and the result was an L. Better luck next time Saul. Also, Nook "Powerhouse" Logan went 2-3 to raise his average to an almost Guzman-esque .200. If this keeps up then he may yet avoid the curse of center field. Which brings up a point that will be tomorrows post...pick a name for the curse of being named the presumed Nationals center fielder heading into Spring Training.

Thank you also to Basil at Federal Baseball for the mention in the ever-growing list of newcomers to the Natosphere!

Can anyone out there throw a decent change?

Or maybe even a curve, slider, oh, who cares, I'll take a BP fastball that you can throw for a strike. If this is you, please contact Jim Bowden at:
Space Coast Stadium
5800 Stadium Parkway
Viera, FL 32940

But seriously, the collapse of the Dirty 3-Dozen that are trying to fill the holes in the Nationals rotation is something of concern. Concern enough in fact that not only have the likes of Ball Wonk, Anacostia, and Curly W reported on it, but Boswell, one the great supporters of "The Plan" has started to comment that maybe it would have been a good idea to find somebody who could pitch to fill at least a couple of gaps in the rotation.

For the Nats, the hopes are really hanging on two things: that some wash-up will remember how to pitch (Tim Redding and Jerome Williams, I'm looking in your direction) or that some of the younger arms will be able to hold together for the season.
I'm honestly thinking that the younger arms is the way to go in the long term. This means that even if your starting 5 on Opening Day includes some vets, by June you are going to see the kids running the show after we have had a couple of blown out arms and a bunch of 13.85 ERAs.

So even if the starting 5 include some re-treads, be forewarned: You will see NO pitchers over the age of 30 in the starting rotation after July 1, 2007.

On a totally unrelated note, Frank Robinson has taken a job with the Bud "The Body" Selig's office in some unknown capacity. I saw this on si.com, but couldn't find the article now, so no link for you.

Also, Thanks to Banks of the Anacostia for adding me to the link list!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Chief Wins Out


The Chief Cordero won his arbitration hearing yesterday in Arizona. As a result, Chad will receive $4.15 million for this season. The Nats were arguing that he should only be paid $3.65 million. This is a HUGE raise for the Chief who made only a little over a half million for last season. This loss by the Nats, and the fact that were not able to reach a long term agreement with Cordero prior to this last-day arb hearing raises a number of questions about the Nationals' plans for the closer in the long term. We all already know that the Chief was shopped around along with Ryan Church for most of the off-season. Its clear that for the Nats, starting pitching is more important than a closer. But what isn't clear is exactly how willing they are to part with Cordero. Rumors about a deal with Boston seemed to hinge on a Cordero for two starting prospects type of deal.

For me, this constant shopping and the lack of any longer term deal for such a young and fairly proven pitcher like the Chief mean that the Nats are not willing to take a long-term deal now and would rather wait and see if the can't unload Cordero at some point during the season to a team like Boston or even the Indians whoo might be looking for a longer term solution at the closing spot.

Now, just because this is what I see doesn't mean I think that its a good idea. The Nationals decision to gamble on arbitration for $500K may prove to be penny wise and a couple million dollars foolish if they end up still holding onto Cordero at the end of the season and find themselves looking at another 2 years of arbitration. They might end up signing him at the end of THIS season to the same long term deal at a higher cost. While money for the Lerners isn't really an option, I don't think that this outcome was what either Kasten or Bowden expected out of the deal.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tickets Available

The Nationals website reported this morning that the individual game tickets for the 2007 season will be going on sale Saturday at 9AM sharp. This has special impact for those, like me, that don't have the financial wherewithal to afford a full season package and need to pick up particular games (i.e. Opening Day, the O's, the Tigers) that aren't included in the 20 game packages. I DO have one complaint about this though. Even though I renewed my seats in December (I checked the bank just to make sure) I haven't heard ANYTHING from the Nats regarding an early purchase session for season ticket holders. I understand that as a partial plan holder I do not in fact walk on water, but I DO hope that my package along with my desire to spend MORE money on seats at other games would lead the Season Ticket and Marketing folks to give me the opportunity to have at least a day in advance before the rest of the world gets a crack. And if this is too much to ask, then at least a form email sometime around now saying, thanks for paying us in December for what you won't get until April, hope to see you then! Or at least they could have sent me my promised MP3 player by now. But I digress. As far as the more important issue of whether season ticket holders get a preview buying period, the emails are out, and the call will happen soon, like tomorrow.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Nats Sign Belliard

Bowden announced on Sunday that they have signed Ronnie Belliard to a non-guaranteed minor league deal. While this deal could just be seen as a continued effort by Kas-den to sign more backup players and fill out the minor league roster, this particular signing may have a more sinister consequence.
Basically since last fall, it has been a foregone conclusion that the middle infield would be Lopez-Guzman. This was confirmed over the winter with the trade of Vidro, making room for Lopez to move over to second. But reports have now been circulating that Guzman, who is recovering from shoulder surgery may not be 100%. This would mean that the Nats need somebody, anybody up the middle. Minus of signing Belliard: he's not exactly the physical build of your proto-typical 2B. Plus of signing Belliard, Tony Womack, hero of the 2001 World Series, will likely not make the team. Just to put this all in perspective, Zimm graduated from high school in 2001. So while I don't see Belliard as a huge plus, as Capitol Punishment reports, a $750K signing isn't a bad deal.

On other topics, tomorrow is the big day for the Chief. It looks as though a long-term deal couldn't be reached between Cordero and the Nats, so the trip to Arizona for arbitration is now the next step. Bowden was on News4 with the soon to be retiring George Michael bashing his closer tonight ahead of the arb-hearing. Bowden claims that since the Chief put up only 29 Saves and a 3.19 ERA last season he didn't deserve Brad Lidge type money, so he was willing to fight over the $500K. I have two problems with this position: 1. Signing Cordero isn't only about what he will do this season, its about what he will continue to contribute in the next 2-3 seasons. Signing him and keeping him happy now is how you make sure this happens. 2. Using numbers from 2006 for a closer is just cheap. The Nats had no chance to put a lcoser to use, Chad only had 33 SVOs, meaning that to say he 'only' got 29 is just unrealistic. Does that mean that after this year he deserves less money just because our starting pitching sucked and he only had 19 saves in 22 chances? That is just a rediculous position and Bowden is running the risk of damaging the teams relationship with a consistent and productive bullpen member.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

*update*

Well, Banks of the Anacostia is reporting that the Nationals are looking to sign Dimitri Young. Now, the logic in this possible signing needs to be looked at in 2 ways. First, what exactly are the Nationals planning on doing with a 34 year old player that posted the following stats last season:

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO OBP SLG AVG
47 169 19 43 4 1 7 23 70 11 37 .298 .414 .254

Oh, and did I mention that mlb.com lists Young as a DH? Now that doesn't exactly instill confidence in his ability to contribute defensively off the bench does it? Now I loved D-Ward last season, but seriously, how many slightly older, more than slightly overweight off the bench hitters do the Nats think are going to work out? But if we do sign Young in the great Nationals tradition of Ward and, lest we forget, Carlos Baerga, then congrats to Dimitri, we salute you!

Just for fun here are Baerga's 2005 and Ward's 2006 numbers

Ward
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO OBP SLG AVG
98 130 17 40 10 0 7 26 71 15 27 .380 .546 .308

Baerga (2005)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG
93 158 18 40 7 0 2 19 7 17 .253 .318 .335

What can $850K get you?







Well, the short answer is: a condo in Dupont or, apparently a staff pitching ace. The Nationals first aribitration of the season ended with John Patterson on the losing end of a deal that got him $850,000. While this is short of the $1.85M that he wanted, it is $400K more than Patterson made for his 8 starts last season. So in one way, the Nats won. But this does raise the question of what exactly Patterson's future with the Nats is supposed to be. Other players that were arbitration eligible, most notably Austin Kearns, received a long-term deal rather than head to arbitration. So what are we supposed to get from this determination by Kasten/Bowden to take Patterson, the lone arm in the rotation to arbitration? It means to me that while Patterson is seen as a possible fixture in the rotation, nobody in the front office is entirely sold on the idea of him being a fixture on the team. And as much as I enjoyed watching healthy John pitch at the beginning of last year, you can't blame the Nats for not offering, or not taking a longer deal in this case. The fact that Patterson was almost as, if not more untested last year than some of the other arms now doing the meet and greet in sunny Space Coast Stadium means that the Kas-den is not as sold on him as the "ace" of the staff in the long term as one might have believed. This means that for Patterson, just like the rest of the Gang of 37, 2007 is going to be a make it or break it season in a lot of ways. If he is injured or consistently unreliable then the Nationals will look like geniuses for having a sub-million salary. But if he pitches to his potential, a word I hate to use to describe any pitcher, then he will be able to come back next season and ask for a LOT more than the still relatively cheap $1.85M that he was seeking this season.
The other (and only) major arbitration question remaining for this season is The Chief. But Chad seems like he would be much more interested in a little bit more job security after the off-season and continuing rumors of him being sent to, ummm, well I guess only Boston has been mentioned. But either way, and even though he has been good about the rumors, I would bet that The Chief would be more than willing to take a little less cash today if Kas-den would be willing to offer him a longer term deal that sends the message: yes, we like you, you are good, you are young, and we want you in the 'pen until 2010. Hey, that rhymes! Anyway, here is what Chad himself had to say about the arbitration.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Here we go

This is the first in what will hopefully be a long and growing number of posts on the Washington Nationals. I'm hoping to not only cover the efforts off the field, but to give a little bit of my personal experience from those of us that live in the upper deck of RFK. And, as would be expected, my own personal and totally unprofessional analysis will also be involved. Now first, I don't want to attempt, or even claim to compete with the more established and experienced members of the Natosphere, but I hope to add my own opinion (and on ocassion vent my frustration). Thanks for stopping by, and hope that it continues!