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Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm gagging

from all the crap that is being stuffed down our throats.

I'm not knocking Mark Zuckerman for this article in today's Washington Times. He's a reporter, not a columnist. Now and then you check in with the brass and throw what they say out there for public consumption. At which point, we hope, the public gives a collective Bronx cheer.

Just once, I'd like to see a Nats official man up and say, "We suck worse than we should, something is wrong and we need to fix it. We didn't think we'd have a contender this year but we didn't think it would be THIS bad and we can't use injuries as our crutch. If it is me, I need to go. If it is him, he needs to go. We needed to be much better than this in the year we moved into our new stadium." I'd also love them to add, "We feel so bad we're offering refunds," but I won't hold my breath on that.

So many prospects in this system? Well, get a couple of them up here then and let them learn on the big league level. And, as long as injuries keep coming up, why are so many of them hurt in the minors, too? Look at this list from Zuckerman's article: Collin Balester, Garrett Mock, Jordan Zimmermann, Adrian Alaniz, Cory VanAllen, Chris Marrero, Justin Maxwell and Michael Burgess. Guys in bold are injured.

If the Nats are 3-4 years away from being really good, that means it took 7-8 years from the time the team landed in Washington. Too long. The Marlins went from non-existent to world champions in five. It can be done if the people in charge know what they're doing.

I need to get Chris Needham, my blogging mentor, to send down the Stanspeak translator now that Chris has retired. Be interesting to see some of what comes out. I've offered Chris a guest spot here any time he likes and I'm sure he'd have some fun with this article as well.

And while I'm all over some articles - how about this gem from Robert Fick? What is he smoking? He keeps guys on their toes? Yeah, let's use a roster spot for a player who contributes nothing beyond that. Why don't you keep them on their toes Dmitri? They ain't paying you that $5 million for your defense.

Since I'm hitting everything else, peruse this one from Chico (the writer) in the Post. Glad he got in this quote from FLop: "There's a lot of uptight people in here," he said. Or maybe there's a lot of people who don't like lackadasical play from a guy making $4.9 million.

I really do have faith in Uncle Stan. He's smart (just ask him). He surely has to know even if he isn't going to say it. Something is wrong. Fix it.

UPDATE - Mr. Needham fired up the machine for me this a.m., I'm not experienced enough to handle it myself just yet (and may never be). NationalsFanboyLooser thanks him for his contributions.

When I gave up the keys to my blog, I didn't give up the keys to the StanSpeak Translator. It's a complicated piece of machinery whose quality erodes the more it's used. Thankfully, Mr. Kasten limits his self-serving statements, especially lately as he's had to hide in his underground concrete lair at the stadium lest an angry mob rip him limb from limb for the gross incompetence he's displayed, which has brought us legions of overpriced empty seats, Paul Lo Duca in left field, and Bob Carpenter in the broadcast booth.

I ran his latest quotes through the ol' translator, and after a few minutes of humming, it spit out this: the thoughts behind his words. (I apologize, in advance, to the most generous Mike.)

"There's no question that the day-to-day performance, for the last month especially, has been very disappointing. We (Uncle Teddy and our bankers) feel it more than any fan or person in the media could possibly feel it, since our lousiness is losing us untold millions of dollars that we'd otherwise be able to pocket."

"Obviously, it's disappointing, all the things that have happened, but we continue to focus on the big picture and our big profits. And big picture, I'm still as optimistic as I've ever been because I'm making money hand over fist with all those gullible yahoos paying $7.50 for beer. Brilliant strategy, if I do say so myself. Put a product so lousy on the field that people are forced to get hammered to drink. Then charge them the price of a quality six-pack for swill to drown their sorrows, diverting their attention from the field."

Kasten said this because of the organization's ever-improving farm system, which was devoid of top-tier prospects when he and the Lerner family were awarded the franchise in May 2006 but has since been restocked with their own terrible players, a bunch of so-so prospects who have been terribly over-hyped by fans hungry for something other than the crap they're watching in Washington, and a few decent prospects who've either sucked or gotten injured.

But Kasten, while touting the revamped farm system, said "improvement in the minor leagues is not the goal. It's a milepost on the road to the goal. The goal is to be a championship team up here, since I had such a hard time in Atlanta. Also, it'll bring in champion-level revenues, retiring our team debt, making us even richer."

As for the job statuses of Acta and Bowden, Kasten quashed any idle speculation about changes on that level: "I think they both have done very well, and they're both absolutely big parts of our future, at least until we're closer to their contracts running out. We've already got enough people sitting idly on the payroll, thanks to Jimmy's brilliance."

"Let's face it. We should have had a better record right now than we've had, but none of us wanted to spend the money to bring in players with real talent or a hitting coach without his head up his ass. But there's nothing that's happened this year which is a kink to us long term -- if you ignore the injuries to Zimmerman, Hill, Kearns, Johnson and the terrible performance of our top pitching prospect or the injury to our defensively challenged top hitting prospect. We don't have a big $75 million contract that has backfired. We don't have a $125 million pitcher that has backfired. We've avoided those kind of mistakes. Take solace in that Nats fans. We didn't make mistakes with big contracts. We made mistakes with lots of tiny little deals like LoDuca's. But the way, you can call 202.675.NATS to order season tickets. Pro-rated plans are STILL available (can you believe it?). Come not watch exciting Nationals baseball while drinking yourself into oblivion in our expanded beer pen.

"That [Screwing up the small stuff] was so important for us to do. Because we don't want to be a team that rebuilds every year. We don't want to tear down and start over every year. Instead, we'll pretend we're improving every season and continue to hype our pseudo prospects. Hey, how 'bout that Matty Chico? Oh, sorry. I mean, Garrett Mock! He's the best! We want to get it right this most important first time and rake in all the profits we can while the stadium honeymoon is ongoing, so that we (Uncle Teddy and his bankers) can be good for the long haul. I don't think that we have made any long-term mistakes -- our inability to read the market and price tickets accordingly was only temporary. We've avoided those. And that's what's most important to getting long-term success (defined as profits)."


Mike said...

"Too long. The Marlins went from non-existent to world champions in five. It can be done if the people in charge know what they're doing."

And the Diamondbacks won 100 games in their second year, and the World Series in their fourth.

By spending a lot of money.

And the Diamondbacks ended up in quite a bit of debt for doing so, no?

Not to mention that the first year and a half of the Nationals , they were still owned by MLB with no one setting a long term plan for how to proceed.

The Marlins began drafting in 1992(taking one of their homegrown players from the '97 team, Charles Johnson).

Sec314 said...

So Stan, does this mean the Nats are going to turn it around in July and make a run for the playoffs?

MikeHarris said...

Tough to win these days on the cheap.

Mike said...

The Diamondbacks got 90 wins out of the 26th best payroll.

The Padres got 89 wins out of the 24th.

The Indians got 96 out of the 23rd.

The Rockies got 90 wins out of the 25th.

MikeHarris said...

Mike, are you satisfied with where things stand now?
Where are three of those four teams now? I'm not interested in a one-year thing. I'd like some long-term success eventually. And, to get that, you have to pay.

Mike said...

No, I'm not satisfied with where things stand right now. But, I think the Marlins comparison was an unfair one. For one, the Nats for better or worse should be judged from when the Lerners and Kasten took over.

Second, spending money doesn't guarantee you anything either. Look at the Tigers, the Mets, the White Sox last year, the Mariners, etc.

And it depends on what you mean by pay. There are several teams that have not engaged in lavish spending that have had long-term success.

What I'm getting at is that there is more than one way to win. They've chosen to go the Diamondbacks' route. It's going to take time to see it to fruition. In the mean time, what would you like to see them do? Which of the free agents from this past offseason would you like to have seen them brought in? Which of them would be making a big difference right now and be worth a compensation pick?

Everyone likes to make fun of "the plan," but at least there is one. Isn't the route they've chosen better than what the Orioles did for years bringing in mediocre veterans but never fully committing to a rebuilding job?

Do I hope that the day will come when they'll be willing to pony up to keep home grown players and occasionally add the smart free agent signing? Of course. But you're implying they don't know what they're doing by comparing them in what amounts to the second year of the current front office to the outcome of the '97 Marlins.

MikeHarris said...

Fair enough. You make valid points, though I obviously don't agree with all of them.
I'm not sure their plan is all that good - and I hope like hell I'm wrong.
Bowden has been able to spend, maybe not freely, but spend since he got there. He got Guzman. He signed Guillen. He gave Dmitri $10 million.

Sec314 said...

The Dimitri signing clearly sticks in your craw, but imagine where the Nationals would be if Bowden has NOT signed Young? Anybody who thought NJ was coming back at all last year or would play anything close to a full season this year needs a Stanspeak translator of his own.

And as I keep saying, for all his faults, Dimitri is interesting, and popular with the fans. If they're not going to contend, I should at least be entertained.

Mike said...

He signed Guzman and traded for Guillen under the ownership of MLB though. I think it's a more fair start point to begin judging the team from when the Lerners and Kasten took over and set the course.

Again, what I'm asking you is what would you alternatively do?

Spending money doesn't guarantee you winning anymore than building through the farm system does. I think there are certainly free agents out there that could be worth them going after, but the last thing I want to see them do is go after players just to spend money. There are a lot of franchises that have done that, and I can't see how it's good for the long term health of your organization.

And I'm not saying I don't have my own concerns or complaints.

MikeHarris said...

You are correct on Dmitri. It does stick in my craw. Inspiring story, probably a fine guy and all that. But too much money for a guy who is a DH in a league that doesn't use the DH. He kills the team on defense and he clogs up the bases. He cannot move.
Broadway wasn't the answer. Surely there's another first baseman in the system somewhere or someone who can play first. It doesn't take THAT much. Dmitri was not $10 million well spent. I'd rather be entertained by good baseball. Again, not a knock on Dmitri the person. I'm willing to forgive his transgressions. My wife is diabetic and she says it is easy to see how improper medication can mess you up.

I don't think it is unreasonable to expect the prospects of the team (not the actual players who are called prospects) to be better four seasons in and I don't think this team is better than it was when it all began.

Mike, I'm likely no more right or wrong than you are and you clearly think about things, too. What are your thoughts and concerns?

Mike said...

Maybe this is nitpicking, but I think a lot of the prospects they have drafted are really far away. Given that the organization is without a lot of help in the upper levels, I think in some ways they might have been better served taking guys that were closer to being able to help.

In that sense, I think the Zimmerman, and really the Jordan Zimmermann pick too, were good choices for this team. A lot of the guys they've added the last few years certainly have a lot of upside, but they're likely a long ways from being able to contribute(as you've noted yourself with Marrero). Smoker, McGeary, Burgess, etc. are all quite a ways off.

There seems to also be a lot of emphasis on "toolsy" type players like Burgess and Hood, when they would probably be better served taking college guys in some cases that could be of use with 2-3 years.

Look at the players the Red Sox players have that are homegrown right now. Pedroia was helping the big league team with two years of being drafted. It's the same thing with Ellsbury(2 years), Lowrie(3 years, Youkilis(3 years), Justin Masterson(2 years), etc.

I think this would have been a better path for them to take.

Anyways, it was fun talking about this stuff today. I hope you guys have a good weekend.

Mike said...

Eh, sorry for that Red Sox sentence. It should read "Look at the players the Red Sox have that are homegrown right now."

Mike said...

A couple of other quick thoughts. I know this has been beat to death, but I still think it's an issue. I wonder how much say Acta has in his coaching staff outside of Tolman. I just can't imagine that what Lenny Harris is preaching as far as a hitting style jibes with what we know about Acta. What if after the season is over(if not sooner) Acta says this isn't working, will Bowden give him the leeway to bring in someone more along the lines of what he thinks is a better hitting approach?

It scares me a bit long term that Bowden seems so accepting of such a really bad hitting approach.

Nationals Fan said...

Fick and DY were best buds going back to Detroit. I wouldn't make more of it than that.

Anonymous said...

The central issue regarding the disgraceful level of play (from minor league hitting through minor league fielding) is not whether Kasten or the organization is interested in making profits. Of course, they are and of course, they should make a profit - - and a hefty one at that. The only issue is, does this ownership have the mindset to be in the major league? Why is this the central issue? To answer this, we need to ask: Why is the Presidents' Race "The Main Event"? (At the 4th inning, that is how the PR is announced.) I thought the main event was major league baseball. Why are we being entertained with this minor league "Main Event"? Go to a minor league baseball game and you will see side shows between inning, you will be able to beg for a shirt or you will be lead to cheer by a mascot. So, look around and what do you see? Minor league entertainment and minor league play. Minor league thinking brings minor league play. Were I to advise this ownership this is what I would say: Stop thinking of your team as being in the minor leagues. You deserve better, we deserve better and you need to make a major league profit while maintaing self respect. Terminate whomever came up with the idea of the Presidents' Race or the tee shirt give away. Put that mindset behind you and starting thinking as the owner of a major league team. You need the correct mindset before anything else.
-A Hopeful Fan