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Thursday, July 31, 2008

"No he's not dead yet!"

Pardon me because half my brain remains in New York and fellow Broadway aficionados will recognize the headline as a line from the great play Spamalot.
It came to me last night while I was in the restroom after watching the Richmond Braves absolutely hammer Columbus starter Craig Stammen. I mean, HAMMER him. Even the outs were blasted. So they're making a pitching change while I'm in the head and I hear the PA announcer go, "Now pitching for Columbus *** Levale Speigner."
So he's not dead yet. I had forgotten all about him. He actually looked pretty good.

But enough of that. Levale Speigner is not why so many have flocked to this blog today. Levale Speigner is not the answer, not the key to life as a Nationals fan.

People want to know what I think after watching Emilio Bonifacio. He was the main reason for my visit to the decrepit Diamond. He did not disappoint.

Here's what I think: JimBow, as soon as you finish reading all the blogs (and we know you do read them), get on the phone. Punch in Emilio's digits. Tell him to get in a car and get on 95 north. Stay with it through the change to 395 and to look for the ol' ballpark on the right soon after you cross the bridge into D.C.

Get his ass up to the bigs. Now.

This is not a declaration that we've all been wrong about JimBow. This is not me saying I want him to get a big money deal. I still hope JimBow has to buy a ticket to get in next season. I am, however, willing to concede that this might - just might - work out. And we're not going to find out with him in AAA.

I stopped in the press box to see some old friends before the game. They know all about my Curly W tattoos and they all said, "You must be here to see Bonifacio."
"Wow, he can fly."
"OH MY, he is fast."
"Run, run, run like the wind."

Yeah, yeah I got that. Lots of guys are fast. Can he play? I didn't get an answer from any of them but I did when the game started. He can play.

I didn't get much chance to judge his defense so I'm going to take it on faith he's OK there. I did get lots of chances to judge his speed and we were not sold fool's gold there. He has jaw-dropper speed. In bed before the room is dark speed. Shake your head and wonder speed. Serious, serious, win games for you speed. His stolen base numbers aren't great and that has me concerned. Bad jumps? He was 3-5 in AAA before last night. The one I saw him steal last night was ridiculous. He went in head first and was in the process of standing up when the ball got to second. I have no idea how anybody throws him out.

I like him at the plate, too. He got two hits, scored a run, drove in a run, stole that base. He wasn't just flailing away and getting lucky. He seems to have a plan when he goes up there, knows what he is looking for and jumps on it when it comes. He also has what I have always called a powerful bat but probably should call a fast bat because I don't mean there's power as in home runs. I mean it gets through there quickly and he hits it hard. You don't want those gappers sitting up for the likes of Willie Harris to run down. You want them down on the ground and rolling fast (like my golf shots!). Bonifacio's do that. If he gets it into the gap, it is a sure double. If it gets through, he's on third. He hit a double last night and I could not believe how fast he got to second.

Granted, I saw him against AAA pitching and bad AAA pitching at that. It could mean nothing. That's why he has to get to the Nats now and get a real look. If he makes any kind of consistent contact, he'll be a delight to watch.

Oh, JimBow? While you're on the phone get Dukes the hell out of my town, too, and back in the bigs. Get his body guard to drive the two of them up there. Today. He's going full speed, playing as hard as we saw him play in June. Is it somehow less risky for him to do that in AAA than it is in the majors? Uh, no. So get him to Washington. He was by far the best player on the field last night. If the players all wore plain jerseys with no numbers, even a novice would have been able to pick out the big leaguer. That's how much he stood out.

He laid down a bunt early in the game that was close to remarkable. No one had a clue he was bunting until the ball was down and he beat it out easily. When a pickoff throw went awry, he was on third before the Braves chased down the ball. Later, he drove in Bonifacio with one of those explode-off-his-bat doubles.

Bonifacio and Dukes at the top of the lineup is something to finally get excited about in a season that's gone downhill since the opener. Tell FLop thanks for, well, nothing and to take his snarky ass down the road. Tell Pete Orr thanks for the hustle and that, if he hurries, he can catch the plane to China. Activate Dukes and promote Bonifacio. Now.

Here's the lineup I want to see tonight and for the final two months:

Bonifacio, 2B
Dukes, LF
Zimmerman, 3B
Kearns, RF (did I just type that?)
Guzman, SS
Milledge, CF
Flores, C
Belliard/LoDuca, 1B
Pitcher, P

You have knee, groin and elbow injuries across the outfield (sing it with me now: Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes). So work Willie in out there 2-3 times a week, plus once somewhere in the infield. He can get 15-20 at bats a week that way. Willie, Belliard and Casto give the bench three versatile players. Langerhans has been a good pinch-hitter lately. And, you know, that lineup for next year may be OK with a real answer at first. We won't know until we get a look at Bonifacio.

JimBow, you still here? GET ON THE PHONE!

A few other observations:

*No one else really jumped out at me but I really wasn't looking at anybody else.
*The Nationals can't bunt. The Clippers can't play bunt defense. They screwed up easy outs on three bunts last night. I left in the seventh so there may have been more.
*Montz hit an impressive home run. He also screwed up one of the bunts, probably the worst of the bunch when he threw to the wrong base. Hell, he's the future first baseman anyway (you knew that was coming).
*My man Zech got the win in a crazy game and he's proof that stat lines are misleading. He gave up two runs in his first inning. He gave up a sharp single to open the inning. A screwed up bunt followed by another screwed up bunt loaded the bases with nobody out. A grounder through a drawn-in infield scored one. Larry Broadway, in right field, sees the runner has stopped at third. Instead of throwing it in anyway, Broadway makes a lazy lob to second and the runner scores. I know Broadway is a first baseman by trade but that's a fundamental. Outfield gets it into the infield ASAP. Always.
*Jimenez at first is a big ol' guy and he hit a home run after I left. He also was responsible for one of the screwed up bunts. Speigner flew off the mound to pick one up on the third base line and made a great throw to first. Safe. Everyone is wondering why for a moment - then everybody sees Jimenez' foot is about a foot off the bag. Oops.
*If Stammen ever makes it to Washington, remind me to buy a seat in the Red Porch so I can get a ball. Two innings, seven hits and seven runs - not a one of them cheap. It was ugly.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A glimpse of the future

That's the headline on this story in my former paper today. Columbus is in town and I'm going out to check out the Clippers tonight. Anyone in this area want to join me?
Didn't realize until last night that Dukes would be here.
I won't get terribly excited no matter what I see. The local Braves are really bad this season. But I do want to get a look at Bonifacio and some others. The speed of Dukes' recovery amazes me, particularly if he really had damage to the patella tendon.
I saw the name Estrada in the article and about ralphed - my gag reflex works faster than my brain. Different guy! Is THIS Estrada the real deal?

Monday, July 28, 2008

JimBow's replacement - YOU

I knew this trip couldn't be perfect from start to finish. Stuck in LaGuardia an extra two hours, which leaves me a little time to scour the Web.

Today's award for the best "no shit" line on the 'Net goes to the last part of the mailbag on

"However, I believe they need to overhaul the roster. The record doesn't lie. Changes need to be made."

You think? Let's start with the obvious and change the guy who assembled the roster. Let's say it happens now (we can dream, can't we?). Your phone rings. It's Uncle Stan, who can't weasel the money for Schuerholz out of El Jefe. So he's giving you a chance to make three moves.

What would they be? Let's be reasonable. The Red Sox aren't going to give the Nats Lester for rag arms like Colome and Ayala. We won't get Hamels from the Phils for Pete Orr, even if we throw in JohnnyWaddles. Ryan Braun isn't coming to Washington for Ronnie Belliard.

I'm not playing because I don't know enough - hell, I don't know anything - about farm systems of other teams. I'd never heard of Bonafacio until the D-backs foisted him off on JimBow. I do know I'd keep Zimmerman, Milledge, Flores and Dukes and maybe Lannan. Everyone else would be fair game. Any of the Big Four would be fair game, I guess, if the price is right.

I fear the best real chance to make a good deal has passed, now that Rauch is a snake. I'm going to see Bonafacio this week when he comes through Richmond.

Now get on the horn and make some deals. Deadline is Thursday you know?

Heading home

The Nationals and I have something in common. We're heading home.
We had a much better trip than they did, that's for damn sure.
Tomorrow, it will be back to my regular routine. Slumping into my chair after work and dying with every pitch. That's the opening scene from Damn Yankees, a scene my wife said reminded her so much of our life. "Six months out of every year ***"

I guess we should look forward to what may happen between now and Thursday. Two years ago, our last day in NY was the trading deadline day and I spent most of it texting my son trying to get updates on Soriano.

Did anyone pay attention to the Sox-Yankees on Saturday? I had it on when we were back in the room briefly and didn't hear too clearly. They were talking about the Yankees trade for Marte and Nady and how the Red Sox were looking to do something. They mentioned the Nats and Rauch and I thought I heard someone say the Nats wanted too much. But I could be way out in left field there. I'm still trying to justify how the Nats top draw netted only one prospect and a B level prospect at that (and if that).

OK, off to enjoy a few more hours before flying home. No shutouts for us on this trip.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

LIVE from New York

it's me.
Been here a couple of days actually. My wife and I started a tradition five years ago of coming here the last full weekend in July. We see a few shows, shop, do some museums, eat too much, that kind of thing.
Baseball moves to the backburner, which these days isn't a bad thing.
It never totally goes away though.

Last year, by chance, the Nats were in town that weekend. My wife, bless her, actually agreed to go to the day game Saturday.
Thursday, the day of our arrival, we returned to our room mid-afternoon to rest for the evening's activities. We're old and a four a.m. wakeup means a mid-day nap. It dawned on me that the Nats were playing in the afternoon, so I turned it on the radio via computer and listened while trying to sleep. It did serve as a reminder of how much I enjoy baseball - even bad baseball - on radio. I should probably listen more often than I watch (and that is not to be interpreted as a knock on the TV folks).
Yesterday, my wife says at lunch: Is today another afternoon game? Nope, in LA at night. Good, she says, we can listen when we get back to the room. My boyfriend is back! My wife absolutely loves Lastings Milledge, so much that I've dubbed him her "boyfriend." Unfortunately, he didn't do much.

We're seeing Damn Yankees tonight and going to a baseball and music exhibition this afternoon at the New York Public Library.

Saw Hair in Central Park on Thursday and 2008 Tony Award winner In The Heights last night. Both were incredible. I'm continually amazed by the ability of actors to perform live on stage as many as eight times a week. They pretty much have to bat 1.000 all the time and, from our experiences, they pretty much do.

Water is $4 a bottle at the theaters, too. I kept looking for El Jefe and Uncle Stan's name in the programs. They have to have a hand in that.

Anyway, it makes for a nice annual break. I love this town. I'm even going to wear a Yankees hat today, one with the "VT" logo on the side. In all my travels in my previous life, I've somehow never been to Yankee Stadium. Won't go this time either. They're on the road.

So the Nats' march toward 100 losses continues but I'm happily distracted for a few days.

Friday, July 25, 2008

At least there's some good news

Just got back to my hotel room and saw this on and while I wish Mr. Estrada no personal ill will, I can only say THANK GOD.
Welcome back, Mr. Milledge.
Mr. Estrada, thanks for **** thanks for **** thanks for **** I got nothing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Trying to absorb this deal

Listening to Johnny and Ray, reading this and that, these are the things that jump into my mind:

*Ayala to close? Why not? Doesn't mess up too many other roles and how many leads to protect are we talking about anyway? Maybe he'll get hot and he can become one of those waiver deals later?

*I keep waiting for the "and" as in Bonifacio and somebody, anybody. Nats320 asked the same question. Lots of demand for Rauch and they get one guy who certainly doesn't sound like a sure thing.

*Rizzo's footprint is obviously all over this, as it was with the deal that brought Mock and Chico (I think I'd rather have Livan back). So my question: If JimBow does get the ziggy and Rizzo gets the job, do the Nationals become Arizona's bitch instead of Cincinnati's bitch?

*I'm not sold on this Bonifacio cat yet but admit I don't know a whole lot. That Johnny and Ray are gushing about him tells me almost nothing. I've asked a bunch of people and no one has said, "Oh, yeah. You'll love him." Some have said, yeah, maybe or other semi-positive stuff. A couple of people who know some baseball on aren't terribly impressed, as this cut and paste shows:
Quote from: Trey Beamon on Today at 08:29:06 PM
Nice deal for Arizona. Will Rauch have an opportunity to close?

I'm not sure what to think of the Nats' return: Yeah, Bonifacio is fast but it's doubtful he'll get on base enough -- .339 career OBP in the minors -- to make a difference.
(this is the next post)
I think the Nats got absolutely hosed. All this talk about how relievers are the big prizes this year at the deadline, and the Nats deal an actual good one and get that? Shiiiiiiit.

I guess we'll see. Until we do, thanks again Jon Rauch for doing your job well. I hope the Nats turned you over for a future all-star. And I don't mean International League all-star. Columbus is in town next week, I'm going to see at least two of the four games.

Thanks Jon, you did your job well

Now the question:

Is this a good deal?

Is that enough for Rauch?

Also, the Guzman deal is done I'm OK with him for two more years.

Stan Speaks

We here at NationalsFanboyLooser are honored to have a guest contributor who needs no introduction:

Despite appearances to the contrary, I am not a trained seal. Still, when I read the latest batch of softballs lobbed in the general direction of my ol' pal, Stan Kasten, I couldn't resist. I reached back into my closet and dug out the StanSpeak translator.

For those of you new to this, it's a fantastic piece of machinery handed down to me by some dude at the NSA. If you put the words of Stan Kasten in one end, it parses it out, deconstruction all the conditional statements, unwrapping the logic, and picking up the hidden subtexts behind the things he's saying, giving us an unfiltered look at what he's reallllly thinking and feeling instead of what's actually spewing out of his mouth.

With that out of the way, let's a-get to it.

On his thoughts with the stadium:
The park itself (though nothing on the field) has been fantastic. We've given our fans hundreds of places to buy overpriced beer, and they've responded admirably. We still have many things to finish, such as paying our rent, but we are so pleased with what we have been able to do so far in terms of being deadbeats. I think the reaction of the fans has been overwhelmingly positive, but that's probably related to their drunkenness and explains why we had to build a second bar, and we hope to build on that, adding more places to get drunk and avoid watching this team. Oh, and not paying rent either -- we've got bars that are unfinished!

On what else needs to be finished at the park:
I'm not going to point things out to you that you haven't noticed, little man, but I noticed them because I'm smart and, well, because my bosses' lawyers (oh, their many, many, many, many lawyers) reminded me that I had to say that. And there are many, many things like that, but I think the things that are complete, like the bars, are wonderful and have been enjoyed by all of our fans, increasing the amount of revenue that goes into our pockets.

On Attendance:
I think the attendance has been great ::bites inside of cheek, drawing slow trickle of blood::. I think it's very strong considering -- let's be honest [WAIT? Did I just say that?]-- where we are in our cycle of building [I wonder if he'll put scare quotes there?]this team. And still, we have had very strong fan support from the sheep -- and big-spending sheep at that! We always knew the market (read: revenues)would be great for our team. As we , or if we ever,get better, I think that [attendance] will continue to grow, in the aggregate.

On Attendance Expectations:
I don't do things like that. Even though I'm running a half-billion dollar business that's generating over a hundred million in revenue per year, I can't be bothered to even begin to estimate such trivial matters as attendance! (This guy's not really believing this, is he? He is? Holy crap! These guys are bigger yokels than those in Atlanta. Man, I can get away with anything!) You heard me say before, "We get the attendance we deserve," and I think that takes into a lot of things: Performance [HAHAHAHA]on the field is one of them, but the stadium experience [Have you tried the Playstation? One of our 3 varieties of Miller beer?]is another one, ease of getting here is another one and thanks to our lousy performance, and our inability to properly estimate traffic flow, we killed that golden goose. Given that we have had some extraneous problems, such as the bizarre first-half season of weather going into the mix, I'm pleased with where we are and the millions of profit we're making anyway,so far.

On a name change for the stadium:
In time, it will. I don't know when. We are not in a rush to slap a name on at the price these ungrateful SOBs are offering. We are waiting for the right partner with the right mix of dollars and the right deal that will enrich us grossly... (or grossly enrich us?). That could be soon or it could be quite a ways in the distance. I just don't know. But we are not in any particular rush. There's not a need to do it. We're making enough freaking money as it is.

On the success of premium seating and suites:
They are OK. In case you can't tell from the acres of blue seats or the luxury boxes that are as dark and shuttered as some of those rowhouses our parkers walk past, We are not sold out in our premium areas, but we have healthy attendance in those areas that are not sold out on a yearly basis. It has been a brisk business in nightly rentals. That has been an important part of our plan as well, even though that wasn't really our intent. We just underestimated the market and the demand for these kinds of boxes, as well as the price. Even know, we're just acknowledging that we overrated the market, and we're finally selling Diamond Club seats without food privilege at a discounted rate. Frankly, it's something we should've been doing from the beginning, but I've got people in my shop who used to work for the WNBA and the Nashville Predators, and we really don't have the first clue. Make the play today! [ed: I don't know what happened there. I must've toggled the trigger to 'humorless'?]

On the TV ratings:
I don't know what to make of it. It's odd, and I've asked for the report. I'll be looking into it, and I'll be able to tell you more. (does he realize this is code for "leave me alone?") I use to live and die by ratings [while affiliated with TBS in Atlanta]. It used to be an important thing in my life, because I was in the sales of TV. Here, we are just not. So it's not just something we pay a lot of attention to. Why would I be bothered to care about such trifles? I mean, if nobody's watching, it doesn't affect me one bit, right? And, besides, it's not my doing. ::passes buck::

On how he feels about the performance of the team:

Which team? The team that is on the field now? Yeah, they blow. It's very different from the team we penciled in to start the year with luminaries like Paul Lo Duca. If the team we penciled in to start the year had this record, I would be very surprised. I'd peg them for 3-5 more wins, at least. I can't be surprised at the record given what we have available thanks to the wonderful job of depth-building our horse's ass of a GM performed.

Golly, Stan, you worked wonders in Atlanta, how do you do you transfer your greatness to DC?
First of all, we have pieces on the Major League side that when (if?) they all come together, we are going to have more success than what we are having, but that's a realllllly low standard. Let me remind you that it's only two years Nyeah nyeah! It's not my fault! [since the Lerner Group took over the club] and, yet, we now have a pipeline that will fill the needs that we have up here, even though -- as I indicated in my answer to the last question -- we don't have any good players to fill in. The pieces that we have here when healthy, in conjunction with the pipeline that is starting to produce players such as Chuck Manning, Steven Shell, Ryan Langerhans, Wil Nieves, Ryan Langerhans again, Kory Casto, Ryan Langerhans yet again, in the Major Leagues, I think we will only have a few holes (at second, short, first, setup man, front of the rotation and center) left to fill to make us truly competitive in a down year. Did I mention that Langerhans kid yet? Try a beer! Make the play today! It's the premier sports and entertainment expe... umm... no, it's the premier entertainment experience in DC! (as long as you're rooting for the other team!) How soon til I can cash out? Working for these cheap bastards and having to defend our schmuck of a GM is killing me! I wonder if the Thrashers would take me back? REDRUM REDRUM!!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Paging Chris *** Paging Chris

Dear Chris Needham,
You remain my blogging mentor and I am way too new at this stuff to figure out a complicated and delicate piece of machinery like the StanSpeak translator which is needed after this humme *** uh, puff piec *** uh, interview on

If you have time and are so inclined and the machine is properly calibrated, feel free to run this through and forward to me and I will post in this space.

If not, I certainly understand. I went to one of those Web-based translators and all it gave back was "LEAVE ME ALONE WITH YOUR STUPID QUESTIONS. I AM THE GREATEST AND WE WILL BE GOOD AND QUIT ASKING WHEN AND JUST GIVE ME ALL YOUR MONEY."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Who would be next?

Nationals Enquirer posts a snippet from today that indicates possible trouble ahead for JimBow. As I commented there, I now have a reason to live.
And, as I asked there: Who is next? Is there a clear choice to be the next GM of the Washington Nationals?

I've often wondered what John Schuerholz would say if El Jefe and Uncle Stan threw a boatload of money at him and said, "C'mon, you have one more challenge left in you. Give us five years and get us set up for greatness."

Oh, the cartwheels I would turn if they pulled that off.

I don't see it happening. So who would get the call?

UPDATE: FireJimBowden had the same question this a.m. and actually posted some answers. Worthwhile reading.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ladies and Gents, your 2009 Nationals

I walked later than I should have this a.m. and it was already too hot so maybe that turned my brain to mush. Maybe I'm drinking UncleStanKoolAid instead of Arizona Iced Tea. But I got to thinking about a lineup that won't require much tinkering. I think I could be OK with this if it happens, which it won't. I'll list and make comments later

1. TBA, 2B
2. Guzman, SS
3. Zimmerman, 3B
4. Dukes, LF
5. Milledge, CF
6. Kearns, RF
7. Flores, C
8. Montz, 1B (you knew that was coming)
9. Some ragarm

I'd be OK with a bench of Harris (versatile), Orr (versatile), Langerhans (channeling Bobby Cox, I like the guy. Please hit just a little), backup C TBA and some Boone/Young type. Casto could fill that role, I guess. Play both corners and the outfield.

I'm hoping Belliard is moved for prospects.

At the top, I dream of Orlando Hudson. He'll probably cost too much but a guy can dream, can't he? Barring that, I don't have much of an answer. I'd be OK with Belliard there, further down in the order. I just think he could bring some good value now.

I don't think we can count on Nick Johnson being a healthy Nat again, sad to say. Dmitri was a great story last year but he has way too many liabilities. If he's OK with being a bench guy, fine. If not, well, it was fun.

Yes, Dukes in the cleanup spot. Ray Knight said he was the team's only five-tool player and he's probably right. He was really growing on me as a player and we just have to hope he keeps himself together away from the field. I have a friend who likes to be a wiseacre and he asked me what would come first - a 30-home run season for Dukes or a 30-year sentence? He accuses me of being a fanboy looser (well, I am) when I tell him Dukes has been reformed. I hope it isn't wishful thinking.

Now the big question - who gets people out? Are there any pitchers worth pursuing? I've always liked Ben Sheets. He's hurt a lot, it seems, so he'd fit in here. He'll also be expensive.

If Lannan is the only carryover, I'd be OK with that. Redding's value fades with each start like last night's. I don't think Bergmann will fetch anything. I don't think we'll see Hill or Chico (injured/injured and not very good). I'm not convinced Balester doesn't need more time in AAA. Will Zimmermann be ready?

Would a rotation of Lannan, Bergmann, Zimmermann, Clippard and who the hell knows be good enough? Is Martis any good? VanAllen?

Rauch will be elsewhere, I suspect, hopefully in return for a wheelbarrow full of prospects. Does Hanrahan close? Zinicola? I don't think we'll see Cordero next year. I hope Colome and Ayala are elsewhere. I'm actually OK with Manning and Rivera. Who else might emerge?

Yep, every time I start to think things might actually be OK sooner than I expect, I start thinking about pitching and my dreams turn dark.

Your thoughts? Free agents to pursue?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Jeebus H. Criminy

I try not to cuss in headlines.

Not only is Estrada on the active roster, he is catching tonight.
Did Flores not make it back? Is HE hurt, too? I see no other explanation for him not being out there. There's been a bit of a break, no? You have a kid who leads the team in RBI despite not playing in more than 60 percent of the games. You have a team that is offensively challenged at best (and not very good on defense tonight). So you sit a guy who has at least shown he can hit some in the clutch?

I am baffled. One of the commenters on the Nationals Journal said he'd fake illness if he was a pitcher out there with that defense. I don't have to fake it.

The $6.25 million Dynamic Dud Duo is on the field tonight. I'm ill again.

Well Hell

Apparently, there is no One.

Chico the Writer's story today in the Washington Post should be required reading. It takes a good look at the supposed plethora of pitching in the farm system and any fan who reads it and doesn't go "uh oh" needs to take off the Curly W glasses and read it again.

The Nats paint the picture that all is well. No question all is better. But better doesn't necessarily sound like it is going to be good enough. The scouts quoted give me pause.

Sure, none of them was named. Unfortunately, that's just the way it works when it comes to scouts outside the organization. There's so much fear of tampering charges that most organizations forbid their scouts from speaking to the media. At least these scouts talked with no names attached. You should try that with NFL scouts. Of course, the NFL is the most paranoid organization in existence but that's another story.

The comments jive with what some baseball people and writers I still know tell me. The Nats have indeed stockpiled a lot of good arms, some of them very good. But there aren't one or two that everyone points to and says, "Yeah, that's them. They're top end guys, the guys who will make that team turn the corner." We hear that a lot from inside the organization. Johnny, Ray, Bob and Don will repeat it some, too. I'll feel a heck of a lot better when someone outside the organization, someone not wearing Curly W underwear, says it.

In short, there's no clear-cut One. And there has to be a One. I'm still holding out some hope for Balester and maybe Zimmermannnnnnn. Crow? Not counting him yet. Must sign first. I've seen both of Mock's starts, up close from the good seats, and I don't see it there. I saw Clippard in Seattle and was impressed but getting AAA hitters out is a long way from getting big league hitters out. Lots of people strike out Richie Sexson.

Oh well. Maybe the hitters will turn out to be so good the pitching won't matter. Maybe the Nationals' future involves winning a lot of 10-8 games?

Or maybe El Jefe needs to open up the checkbook for some serious free agentry?

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Nationals Farm Authority does its usual excellent job keep abreast of goings on below the major-league level. The latest update mentions Johnny Estrada - the $1.25 million half of the DynamicDudDuo - finishing his rehab assignment.

That is causing me considerable distress as I frantically check here and there to see what the Nats will do with him.

There's no way they'll keep him. Is there? IS there? No offense Johnny E., but that's a contract that has to be eaten and eaten now.

We know the No. 1 catcher now and for the foreseeable future. Nieves is a better backup choice than Estrada because he's much better behind the plate and his hitting is at least tolerable. LoDuca, the major portion of the $6.25 DDD, fills a utility role - how well is a question but he fills it and I don't have a problem with him on the roster in that role.

Where does Estrada fit? I'm not sure he did before he was signed but I'm damn sure he doesn't 96 games into the season.

I hope my joy over the Hood signing doesn't dissolve into anger with news that Estrada is on the 25-man.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Zim - see you in Atlanta?

Good story this morning from the Roanoke Times about Zimmerman's stint with the P-Nats. I have a feeling he'll do one game at third for Columbus and then join the team in Atlanta, taking the spot created by WMP's move to the DL.

I may rant more about injuries later. Talked to a doctor friend yesterday who thinks WMP is definitely done for the year if the injury is as described.

It will be good to see Zimmerman back in the lineup. You have to hope this isn't one of those deals where the shoulder feels better because he hasn't been playing and it will start hurting again in a week. Given the way injuries seem to have been handled thus far, I'm not terribly confident.

Wonder when we'll get an update on Milledge?

Monday, July 14, 2008

WMP IS hurt

Just sent to me:

Wily Mo Pena, after having a Gad MRI earlier today and an examination of his left shoulder with Nationals orthopedist Dr. Ben Shaffer, has a small tear and impingement in his left rotator cuff, as well as, fraying of the labrum in his left shoulder.
Surgery should take place within the next 7-10 days with details to follow.

Sounds like a pretty severe injury? It took this long to figure it out?

Thanks to NationalsFarmAuthority and my man Sean at DCSportsPlus (links to both are on the right) for pointing me in the direction of the news that Columbus has released Alex Escobar. So he won't be the left fielder.

My boy

Yesterday was my son's 25th birthday - a day he spent in considerable pain because he and some of his buds hit the downtown Blacksburg bars a little too hard after my wife and I cooked them dinner and then headed back to the hotel.
His favorite team, the Braves, won big and he didn't even get to enjoy it.
I got him a cool gift: four golf lessons from a local pro. The cool part is the card I used for the certficate. I found it in the Land of Overpriced Goods on a recent trip to Nationals Park. It was a picture of Zimmerman just before he got mobbed after his game-winner on Opening Night. It said, "Hope you have a blast on your birthday."
My son, the Tech graduate and Braves fan. Zimmerman, the former Wahoo and current National. Get it? Oh well, guess you had to be there.

I've read a zillion stories over the years about dads and sons bonding over golf. We did not. I played some in my younger days and was never any good. He took up golf right after college, just like I did. He isn't very good. I gave him most of my clubs. Maybe the lessons will help. We've never played together but might on my next visit there in three weeks.

We bonded over baseball. He came by his Braves fanboy looserness honestly. He grew up in Richmond, the Braves' AAA city. He wasn't yet two when he went to a game. Larry Owen gave him a baseball. When Owen made it to the majors briefly, David would point to him on TV and say, "My guy, my guy." We'd make games at Fulton County Stadium most every year. One of his prizes growing up was a picture of himself with Dale Murphy. Well, he was in the stands and Murphy was in right field but they are both in the picture.

Another great memory is when I went to Atlanta in 1996 to cover some baseball and the U.S. track trials. I explained to him that reporters can't and won't ask for autographs. I bought him a baseball and a pen and told him he was on his own. He about filled that bad boy up.

Our allegiances split when the Nats were born. We try to make at least one Braves-Nats game a year. We've done three this year already. We have one simple rule. I buy the tickets. If Zimmerman hits a home run while we're there, David has to stand up and sing that good ol' song they sing at U.Va. That's why this game is one of my favorites ever. Only home game I saw last year. Zimmerman drilled one to dead center and my boy, Braves jersey and Tech hat on, stood up in section 424 and belted it out. I was so proud!

He doesn't hate the Nats and pulls for them when the Braves aren't on the other side. He may have gone crazier than I did when Belliard beat the O's with his game-winner. I don't hate the Braves and pull for them when the Nats aren't on the other side.

He grudingly admits Zimmerman is "pretty good, if you can get past that Wahoo thing." He may even go try to catch one of the rehab games this week just up the road in Salem.

But when the Braves and Nats play, it's on! We have fun with it and I hope we never grow out of it. I look forward to the day when a Braves-Nats game in September is for first place in the division. I hope I live to see that.

In Gus' dreams

Just had to share this great typo in one of today's offerings from

Sunday, July 13, 2008

If he's hurting THAT much ***

Chico the Writer's story today in the Post makes me scream one question:

If he's hurting THAT much, WHY THE HELL IS HE OUT THERE?

I love Manny's made-up word in this quote: "That was the at-bat that probably disinflated us, basically," Acta said of Peña's 1-2-3 double play. "It took all of the air out of us right there. He chased a pitch low out of the zone in that situation and just made their night, basically."

Disinflated? Actually a better word than deflated. I know I felt disinflated after that double play.

Hey Gus, check out this quote from your guy Lenny (or "Lennie" in the story: "I see [dejection] in his face," Harris said. "He has his head down a lot. When a big guy and strong as he is has pain, I mean, none of us will feel the pain he's in. Because he's stronger than five guys. And so, it's amazing that he's going out there and trying to do the things he can. He's been brave. I've got to give it to him."

He's been brave. Just great. He can't freaking hit but at least he's being brave when he goes up there and sucks the life out of the team.

DL time gang. NOW.

Here's more from Manny in the Times, about LoDuca's "mental" error in the fifth: "That's a question you're going to have to ask him," manager Manny Acta said when he was asked what happened on the play. "Everybody saw what happened."

Did anybody ask him? I see no sign of that. I'd sure like to know what he was thinking. If he was unavailable or refused to talk, please tell us. If he refused to talk, I have a message for him.

Reading The Times sure cheered me up this a.m. I'm not at all confident any of the top five draft picks will get signed (and I suspect signing them is a key part of The Plan). Maxwell is out another month, so he's not an option when WMP goes on the DL.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rambling on my mind

Thinking out loud again:

*Ronnie Belliard and Jesus Flores have each played in 54 of 94 games. Belliard is your HR leader with 9, Flores your RBI leader with 35. Interesting. But the question - how long can you hold on to Belliard? Who makes the best offer for him? I like the guy. He has to be moved. I can't see his value getting any higher.

*Rauch, too. I'd hate to see him go but his value is high and another closer will come along by the time the team gets good. Someone now in the first grade surely has a wicked fastball.

*Does Dmitri's back open the door to take a two-week look at Sexson? Yeah, I know but what can it hurt? I went to the doctor with a back problem and he told me the answer was simple. Too much front. Get rid of some of that and my back would be fine. He was right.

*Looks like the WMP thing may work itself out with the shoulder pain that's cropped up. Nice timing. Quick examination over the all-star break, time on the DL, another exam reveals the need for a scope, he's done for the year and then has all offseason and spring to work and see if he can actually become a productive player. I doubt that he can at this point but have no objections to keeping him around a while off the active roster.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Two quick things

before I hit the road this a.m.

*I don't know what to make of this article in the Post today. I don't know if it is typical politcal bullcrap that goes on with new sports facilities or if there's a real problem there. If someone actually knows, please enlighten.

*To save my sanity after last night, I'm just going to blame Angel Hernandez again. I told my wife, well, at least I'll be able to go to bed early. Then it got crazy. Interesting game.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Dan Steinberg's "bog" entry on the Post's coverage of the Nats is interesting reading. I've received a number of e-mails about it asking my thoughts given my newspaper background. So I'm going to put my newspaper hat back on briefly and share a few of those thoughts.

*Fans of a team, any team on any level, are never happy with the coverage they get. You always "favor" the other guy. Virginia Tech people called us the "Hoo Times-Dispatch." Virginia people called us the "Hokie Times-Dispatch." Richmond thought we favored VCU. VCU thought we favored Richmond. Clover Hill High thought we all went to Midlothian High. The Midlo folks swore we had Clover Hill pom poms hanging. I had readers telling me they KNEW I went to such and such a school (I went to VCU). Or my wife went there. Or my kids. That's no win for any newspaper. I'd read cover-to-cover Nationals if the Post or Times provided it. I also realize that isn't possible.

*Using the Post as an example (though the Times is basically the same): The gamer, notebook, Web updates are pretty standard. I'd like to see more than an occasional column and I'd like to see more long form features or issues pieces or whatever outside the norm. What I'd love to see is Chico do more of them and maybe that's in the works. The kid (he'll hate that but he IS a kid!) is exceptionally good at those. I'd love to see the Post send someone else out for a series or a homestand to hit the basics and let Chico sink his teeth into something. We can hope that's in the offing. The column thing is a legitimate gripe. We should be seeing more Nats columns.

*That said, we ought to expect better attendance and a better team before we gripe too much. We are the hardcore Nats fans but how much of the Post (or Times) readership do we represent? There's a lot going on up there and they're trying to get to it all with fewer resources. We're high as a kite if we expect Redskins' type coverage. Ain't gonna happen. The Redskins are the Big Dog up there, much like NASCAR and Virginia Tech and Virginia football are at my old paper. Attendance isn't the be-all, end-all for determining interest level but it is a good indicator. Success breeds interest, too. See the Caps for an example. That 9,000 TV households thing isn't going to help a lick because it makes it very easy for decision makers to point to and say, "See, no one gives a shit."

*Nats320 made mention of the Post sending an intern out this week. This point is not a shot at him at all - it is a question many have asked. What I ask is you trust my point built up after 31 years in newspapers. There's nothing wrong with that. I was an intern once, many years ago. I spent two weeks covering the Richmond Braves, during which time the parent club threatened a move. The paper kept me out there and told me to keep working the story. Being an intern doesn't mean you suck. To the contrary, particularly at the Post, it means you are among the sharpest of the next generation. They don't hire many slugs. Astleford recently made UWire's list of the 100 top student journalists in the country. I've dealt with the kid and he'll do great things in the business. Chico was our intern in 2002 and he was really damn good despite having me for a mentor. I would have sent him anywhere. Papers use interns in the summer because that's when they are available between school sessions and that's when they need them while regular staff is on vacation. Intern is not a synonym for horseshit. The Post's track record with interns is excellent and I'm sure they've used some of their fall and winter interns on big stories. Adam Kilgore covered Virginia Tech as an intern and did a hell of a job. Plus, his folks have a fabulous restaurant up in Maine.

I'll address any specific questions in any comments people may make but with the Post, the Times,, the MASN coverage, the radio stuff and the surprisingly large number of good blogs (plus this one), we have a lot to read and absorb on the Nats. We really do.

An aside - The Post pays pretty daggone well. Trust me, this is serious money in the newspaper world.

UPDATE while I digest the fact that the Nats are going to get shut out tonight: I see in the latest Nationals Journal that Chico (the writer) has extended a postgame invitation to join him for a few beers on Sunday. If you are in the area then, I strongly suggest you go. Chico really is a good kid (there's that word again) and you will enjoy yourself. He is open to ideas and productive conversation. I'm just a little hacked that the ingrate picked a weekend I'd be in Blacksburg (son's birthday) rather than D.C. I'd sure as hell spend some of that Post money.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Worth noting

With that three-run pinch home run, Jesus Flores is currently leading the Washington Nationals in RBI with 33.
Even though he has at least 100 fewer at-bats than many of the other likely candidates, even though he's had about six hits in a month or so *** Flores is No. 1 in RBI.
Everyone knows how much I love Flores. I'd love to be able to declare this as primarily an impressive accomplishment by the budding star, and it is to some degree. But it is much more the result of the ineptitude of some and injuries to others. Milledge hasn't played in 10 days and he's only one behind. Zimmerman hasn't played in, like, years and he's still in striking range.

Seriously, if I came to you in spring training and said - Wily Mo or Flores, who will have more home runs and more RBI on July 8, would anyone have taken Flores on either count? He has three more home runs and 23 more RBI than WMP in 20 fewer at-bats.

The year is coming when he will be the legit RBI leader. Slump and all, I still love everything about the kid.

You Go Odalis!

The Post sent intern and rising star Andrew Astleford out to the yard last night and he walked into a fastball down the middle. I'm thinking of giving out my PayPal address and taking up a collection to pay the fine that I'm sure is headed Odalis Perez' way. If everyone who reads this blog sends in a buck, we may be able to defray 15 to 20 dollars for him. He may also get suspended. I haven't checked all the other outlets yet but I'm sure everyone had it. If they didn't, someone's head should roll. You can't ignore stuff like that.

I'm not a big umpire basher. They have a very hard job and almost all of them are excellent and professional (albeit with a mistake thrown in now and then). It is amazing how often they get it right.

Angel Hernandez is one of the exceptions. He's a bad umpire for two reasons - big ego and he holds grudges. He's been that way for years. A great way to get former Richmond Braves manager (and Atlanta Braves coach) Jim Beauchamp to go off was to ask him about Angel Hernandez. The words "whack off" usually came up within a minute or so. RIP Jim, you were a gem.

The fine/suspension of Perez won't change the fact that Hernandez shames an honorable profession. I'm glad Perez didn't hide behind the stupid rules that make officials in sports off limits for criticism. He may be my new favorite player.


*In their past two games, the Nats could well have beaten two all-star pitchers. Bases loaded last night **** sure would be nice if the cleanup hitter going up in that situation wasn't a .190 hitter.

*Can we agree that the Bernadina experiment needs to end? Let's send this hot prospect somewhere for more "seasoning" or whatever it is called. The obvious move then is to bring up Langerhans for defense or Daniel (is Maxwell still hurt?) or someone like that. Let me throw something in from left field, pardon the pun: Why not give this guy at least a look? Try something different. Stick him at third, put Casto in left, Harris in center and Belliard/FLop at second. Try it for a couple of weeks. If it bombs, well, what hasn't bombed? You've lost nothing. If it works, maybe you have a piece of trade bait that will fetch a bigger prize. The 40-man issues can be worked out.

*I'll write more about Wily Mo later but I'm about ready to give up there, too. He simply has no clue at the plate and his career body of work is big enough to reasonably conclude that what you see is what you are going to get. Seems like a hell of a guy. I love it when the PA guy says "Wily MOOOOOOOOOEEEEEE Pena." I wish with all my might he was good. He isn't and you need to be putting up Josh Hamilton numbers to get away with his defense. He did make one hell of a catch last night. Ol' Bobby said it was WMP's best defensive play of the season. How 'bout of his life?

All in all, just another grand day in Nats fan land. I think I heard on the postgame that the team is now more games below .500 than it has been in its brief history. Oh swell. I see no way 100 losses won't happen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Are you among the 9,000?

I was initially going to ask who the other 8,999 were until it dawned on me that I probably don't count in that 9,000 because I live so far outside the D.C. area. I don't think Richmond is considered part of the market.
That's a stunningly low number, even for a bad team. The broadcast isn't anybody's idea of an Emmy Award winner but it isn't THAT bad and there are so many worse ways to spend a summer night than watching baseball. Even bad baseball.
If we're home, the game is on at least two of our four TVs. I don't like to miss anything when I run to the kitchen for a snack, a drink, a sink to barf in after the latest miscue.
I'd love to know what the numbers are in my area now that it is available on the local cable provider. I had to switch to DirecTV to get the games two years ago and I still have it. Last February, when the Nats' caravan came through town, I grabbed my wife and we headed to the restaurant for lunch. I didn't go as a fan, I went as a sports editor trying to get a clue on the interest level. I didn't even go back to the part of the restaurant where Zimmerman, Acta, et. al., were signing. The line was out the door and stayed out the door. My guess is that just as many autograph collectors and the like were there for Zimmerman as true Nats fans.

Am I the only one surprised by those TV numbers?

Unrelated to the numbers but a true story about the broadcast - my dogs' body clocks are tied into Johnny and Ray.
It took me a while to figure it out. We all have our routines when we get home. Get our jank out of the car. Take out trash/recycling/whatever. Deal with the laundry. Change clothes, lay something out for tomorrow. Put on a pot of coffee for the a.m.
I get all that done right around 6:30 and click on the TVs. Cue up that stupid intro for Nats Xtra. Here's Johnny and Ray. And my dogs go ballistic. Barking. Turning in circles. Bumping their heads into my legs. Barking some more.
What the hell? Ray is about as nice a guy as there is alive. Maybe they saw Johnny snarl, 'It's Fuk-o-dom-e. What are you guys, 12?" and it scared them. I know it scares me.
Then it clicked.
Dinner time. I click on the TV and then go fill their bowls. They connect the music and Johnny and Ray with food!
It's kind of cute but a pain in the ass, too. West Coast game? Stupid music at 9:30 and they go nuts. SHUT UP. YOU ALREADY ATE. Day game? Stupid music at 1 and they go nuts. SHUT UP. NOT YET.

When they bark at FLop, it has nothing to do with food. I think they are recognizing a colleague.

Do my dogs count among the 9,000? Or would they if we lived in the D.C. area?

Unrelated to the numbers, an unsolicited plug for Dan Steinberg: The best blogger - or "bogger" - in the newspaper business and maybe anywhere. The only bad thing about this "bog" gig is it keeps him from writing for the paper. His stuff during that little miracle by George Mason two years ago was outstanding.

While I'm rambling here, I thought of another reason to be happy and got some help for yet one more. My reason? We're not the Mets. I actually don't mind the Mets at all but a couple Mets fans I know are just insufferable and I can't remind them often enough that going 1-5 against the Nats at the end of last season reduced them to playoff spectators. We'll always have that.

One of our former players at VCU, Kwan Evans, visited my office yesterday. Terrific young man. Not playing anymore but he will be an excellent coach somewhere. Remember the name. He came in to chat and to tell me his girlfriend took him to a Nats game for his birthday. The Sunday game against the Orioles. The Belliard game. He was steaming mad they left before the blast.

I told him I did not and that I'd seen three game winners now and they never get old.

And he said:

"Three? Live? In the house? I hit one once but I've never seen another one. You've seen three? In one season? Man. You are living the life. You have nothing to complain about."

Yeah, I do. Lots. But I guess I have a lot NOT to complain about, too. I ought to keep that in mind every time this team sends me rushing for the sink.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Laugh to keep from crying

There's a lot of gallows humor going on in my old profession these days as newspapers everywhere cut the head count and send people out the door. Not laughing isn't going to change anything so laugh and dry the tears is sort of the attitude.
I'm trying to take that approach to the Nationals these days. I woke up today determined to make a list of things that wouldn't make me laugh so much as they would make me at least a little happy. Or not miserable.
Please add your own in the comments.

*The GEICO dancer says Baltimore and not Washington. They can have him. Those commercials are so brutal that I wouldn't use GEICO if they paid ME. I wish he'd travel through Praaaaaque and just stay there. Did they at least cancel that awful TV show.

*The Nationals absolutely cannot lose today. FLop can't jog to first on a grounder, LoDuca can't drop a ball at first, Nieves can't watch a pitch go by for strike three to end the game. They can't win, either, but at this point I'm not going to get picky.

*My back doesn't hurt as badly as it did yesterday.

*I'd say no one can get hurt today but there's no guarantee of that. Instead, I will cross my fingers (which makes it very hard to type).

*My kids made it safely through the Fourth (and I hope yours did, too).

*UPDATE - no one is watching. See Dan Steinberg's bog, linked off to the right here. This kind of play is the type of thing you want to keep secret.

Beyond that, I ain't got much. Little help, please.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Stunned into silence

Those who know me will vouch that I don't do silence well. I'm chatty by nature and even my whispering is loud. Apparently I don't even do silence when I sleep, my wife says. I'll probably still be muttering at my funeral.

But this latest twist in this odd season for the Nationals did the trick. As Dukes crumpled to the ground, my jaw hit the floor. I may have muttered something incomprehensible. I can't recall. Mostly I stared at the TV and shook my head. No freaking way this is happening.

We've gone round and round on Dukes before on here. None of that is relevant now. Even if I thought him the most despicable person on earth, I wouldn't wish injury on him. He'd grown on me completely as a player and I was dealing with the other stuff.

I can't say it as well as Tim Redding did in today's story in the Post:
"I'm not worried about how I did. I'm worried about Elijah Dukes right now. It's definitely a blow. We've had enough injuries already for any team in a whole season, let alone in the first three months. And to see a kid go down who is passionate about winning and lays it out on the line day in and day out, you go home, pray and hope he's doing all right."

I will add this: If he indeed has a partially torn patella tendon, forget that 4-6 weeks. I don't want him back this season. If that goes completely, you have a real mess on your hands. There's no pennant to be won. Like Zimmerman, don't rush it with a key piece of the future. Get it right and then get him back.

I don't really care who replaces him out there, the dropoff will be considerable. We've already seen what Wily Mo can (or can't) do. I'd rather see them give another kid a shot but the kid they're giving a shot to right now isn't exactly tearing it up. Willie Harris to left, Casto called up and put at third and Belliard at second? Whatever. Like it matters.

Odd how things change over time. If you told me when Dukes was acquired that I'd be sitting here one Sunday with a boulder in my stomach over what happened to him, I would have sneered. Now I'm sitting here with a boulder in my stomach.

The only good thing in all this is I'm not stewing over yet another loss. I'm not cursing, wondering if Flores should have caught that thing and made the tag or if the bad hop made that impossible. I'm not fretting 100 losses, I see that as inevitable.
I am wondering if they ought to get Flores out of there before something happens to him - most agree the four key position players for the future are Flores, Zimmerman, Dukes and Milledge. The thought of all four on the DL at once gives me the shakes.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

And I'm still thinking

Here's another thought: Is this team fundamentally sound?

I ask because something Ray Knight said yesterday stuck with me. He and Johnny were talking about Colome's throw to Dmitri and Ray said, "I'm not sure he knows how to throw it easy."

That got my attention. Why not? Isn't that something pitchers work on all spring and, we hope, periodically throughout the year? Fielding the position?
Also, our pitchers as a group can't bunt. That predates Manny and the current staff. I remember watching Patterson pitch his ass off in a 2005 game in Philadelphia and losing 1-0. He chastised himself for failing to move a runner. The next day, his cohorts failed at it, too. Sunny Kim finally got one down (there's a name from the past to give you the shakes).

Redding and Hill are good on the bunts. Is anyone else? Why not? That should be Capital-A Automatic.

The Nationals also seem to miss the cutoff man a lot, though my judgment there may be clouded by recent incidents of balls flying hither and yon.

Friday, July 4, 2008

A thought or two

while sipping coffee on a fine Fourth of July morning and trying to get over the nightmares induced by another "should have won" game.

*Nationals Enquirer pointed me in the direction of the Baltimore Sun story that says the Orioles' interest in FLop has "waned." I guess that's what watching him play will do. If the interest hadn't waned before last night, that game would have done it. I'd love to know his thinking behind swinging at that pitch. It's up to JimBow now to find another sucker.

*Chico the Writer's story in the Post takes a couple of good shots at Colome, including a big one right in the lead. Good for him. Two Jesus' are one too many (and I wish the other would start hitting again). But my question is this - who should get the error and should the ball have been caught, as Colome claims? I know I love to get on Dmitri for things other than his hitting. I don't think I can do that here. I can get on him for getting doubled up on a grounder that anyone else in the world would have beaten out but I will lay off him on that throw.

*Is Flores slumping or wearing down?

*When does Milledge get back?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Buried at the end of a Nationals Journal

was this:

Matt Chico, who began the season in Washington's starting rotation, will have reconstructive left elbow surgery performed Thursday by James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. Chico's elbow injury was diagnosed after he had been demoted to Class AAA Columbus on May 23 with an 0-6 record and 6.19 ERA.

That's Tommy John surgery. Not as scary as it used to be, lots of people come back. But did the thing just snap? Was he pitching with a bad elbow for a long time? I ask these questions because injuries that later turn out to be a lot worse than originally reported are happening a lot - Cordero, Chico, Zimmerman (day to day to we haven't seen him in six weeks and maybe not again this season), I'm sure I'm missing someone.

Is it fair to ask what the hell is going on?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


What did you think?
Chris, damn him, makes good points in his comments on yesterday's post so I'm trying to temper my enthusiasm. I so badly want to find that pitching stud, The One, the Zimmerman of the mound, that I will get way too excited too easily (and it would be funny in a way if the Zimmerman of the mound turned out to be Zimmermann).
Glad they let him work the fifth. Sutton made a good point - the team isn't going to win the pennant. Let's see what he can do with some trouble.
So there will be no declaration of The One just yet. I will rate it as a very positive first outing.
Ronnie Belliard, by the way, is my son's new favorite player, non-Braves division.

Unrelated, I found this link that predicts the day of your demise and I have 21 years left. Will I see a pennant? The pessimistic choice on the death watch has me checking out this Christmas, which would deny me that chance.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Is This 'The One?'

I will be watching tonight with more interest than usual. I'm very eager to see Balester pitch.

I very much want him to be The One.
The One pitcher you know is going to get it done almost every time.
I watch Hamels, Lincecum, Webb, Peavy (you get my drift) with envy. When do the Nationals deliver a guy like that?

Is this The One?

We won't know for sure after one start, be it an arse kicking or a no hitter. But we should get an idea, a hint. I've watched Clippard and Mock twice each (three of them in person) and I haven't been blown away. They'll maybe make good big leaguers one day. They aren't The One.

I have a theory, backed by zero research, that every ragarm good enough to get to the majors will have a minimum five games a year when they are "on." They'll win four. The other guy will be more on or they'll have bad luck of some kind in the fifth. Heck, even Ramon Ortiz had a near no-hitter (with a home run). They'll have five games when they are way off and lose four. The other guy will be more off or they'll have good luck in the fifth.

It's those 25 starts in between that make the difference. If you are The One, most of those starts are games where you have your top stuff. Where you go to All-Star games, threaten to win 20, make someone talk about you in Cy Young discussions. Where you consistently get into the 7th, 8th, even 9th innings.

We need The One. Badly. I don't know all that much about Balester but I'm hopeful. We keep hearing about the improved farm system and the future and all that. Let's hope we see a significant piece of fruit from all that labor tonight.

An aside - don't get too excited if I eventually come on and declare Balester (or anyone else) as The One. My track record isn't good. I saw John Patterson pitch a number of times during that glorious first season and was convinced he wasn't just The One - he was The One and Only. We see how well that worked out.