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Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Chief

It’s a lovely Sunday here and I had a great morning walk on a crystal-clear blue sky day. Even worked up a bit of a sweat. While I was walking, I thought about – what else? – the Nationals.

It is not true I think about the Nationals all the time. I only think about them when I’m awake.

Anyway, I’m working on my promised post about what I don’t like and part of that will be the pitching. I decided to make a separate post about The Chief because, while he is part of the pitching, he is not the major part of what I don’t like and I didn’t want that post to get bogged down with this stuff.

I pretty much love the guy. He seems like a good dude, I love the way he wears his hat, I love the nickname. I loved him a lot during that magical June of 2005, through the whole first half of the season.

I’m just not sure he’s the right closer for the future.

Yeah, it may be a moot point. There are no guarantees this shoulder thing won’t be a long-term problem. For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume he’ll be back at some point and eventually be the same pitcher he was during the Nats’ first three seasons.

When Chad Cordero is on, and I mean dead on, he’s excellent. He just has zippy margin for error. If he’s the slightest bit off, put on a hard hat if you are sitting in the outfield. I still have nightmares about the two he gave up in the ninth late in 2005 against the Phillies. They were two of the biggest “holy shit” home runs I’ve seen. Ryan Howard hit the first and it was mammoth. David Bell hit the second and it was mammoth cubed. My wife got the “holy shit” out of her mouth before I could even speak.

The next season, I enjoyed a great weekend at Virginia Tech with my son. I turned 50 on Friday, he graduated on Saturday, Sunday was my anniversary and Mother’s Day. We were at his crib, watching the Nats and Braves. Bases loaded in the ninth. Cordero struck out Andruw Jones on as good a pitch as can be thrown. I started going on what a great pitch it was, yada yada yada. I had not yet shut up when Jeff Francouer hit the next pitch out for a game-winning grand slam. My smartass son just turns to me and says, “How did you like that pitch?”

Chris did some excellent stuff on Capitol Punishment that made it clear The Chief is nowhere near as bad as it sometimes looks. I can’t argue any of his points and I sure can’t argue against the numbers. Cordero is an average to above average closer. But to win a championship, I think you need a great closer. I don’t think Cordero is that.

It pains me to say this – and you’ll have to trust me that I said it before he got hurt – but I wish they’d traded him when he had some value. Too late now so all I can do is hope like hell he gets good and healthy quickly and proves me wrong. It is some crow I love to eat because I think he’s in Zimmerman’s league as a top-quality representative of the team. It would thrill me to no end if he had a Hall of Fame career as a Nat.

While I’m on the subject of The Chief, I want to add this: It chaps my ass to no end that his injury situation has come to this. I feel very strongly someone in that organization should have figured out that something was more seriously wrong than what was being claimed.

You simply don’t lose that much velocity without there being a problem. Manny kept saying Chief said his shoulder felt fine. Just needed to build up the ol’ arm strength. Far be it from me to challenge Dr. Andrews, too. But the evidence on the mound was just screaming that there was a bigger problem. Major props to Ray Knight – were you watching the night it finally blew? Ray was in the booth instead of Don and he jumped on it when Chief came in and never let up. This kid is hurt. Why is he out there? This kid is hurt. You can see it in his face. You can see it in his pitches. And the thing finally gave out. And my heart sank.

Maybe I’m full of shit. It wouldn’t be the first time. I just can’t shake this feeling that it could have been caught before it got to this point.

Get well, Chief. Prove my dumb ass wrong. Please.

3 comments:

Sean Hogan said...

Your son made a good decision regarding which college to go to =)

MikeHarris said...

It's been a great place for him. I suspect he'll be there forever. He's in grad school now. My daughter spent four years there and is in Woodbridge now.

Sean Hogan said...

Nice, Nice. I'm done with year 1 of 4+ (depends on grad school), can't find a more beautiful place.