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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What would you do?

We had plenty of time on the way back to the car yesterday. We "upgraded" to the club level - a treat for the family for the opener - and it took forever to get through the logjam out of there, through the logjam downstairs and actually out of the stadium. Good thing it won't be that crowded anymore.

During the walk, we discussed the question: You're off to a brutal 0-7 start. What would you do?

We came up with no good answers but talked about a lot of things.

*A manager change won't solve anything. I'm still not sold on Manny as a great manager and it seems something else comes up every day. I heard lots of grumbling yesterday, particularly with the whole Rivera thing. But unless there's someone out there who is a magician, I don't see that a switch will do any good now. I'd love to have a chance to judge Manny with a full deck. If you have a great alternative for a new manager, present it.

*The GM we loved to hate is gone and we're left with his mess. Rizzo is not going to be able to fix it quickly. It is a poorly constructed team. Why, my son asked, trade for a guy like Willingham if you aren't going to use him? Who among those in the glut of OF/1B types can be moved for anything of value? Maybe they want to use Johnson to "showcase" him but is that necessary? There's no question he's a quality player - when he's able to play. His injury history is why the Nats won't get full value for him. Dukes' off-field history decreases his value. But he may be the one guy you don't want to trade anyway. History aside, dude can really play. Milledge appears to be a guy who was overvalued as a Mets prospect. He might be a fine player, I don't yet see the greatness that was predicted for him. He won't bring back close to what he cost. You can't trade Dunn. Kearns? Might be time to stroke that check and say thanks, man, good luck.

*The best thing to do may be hope that Zimmermann is the real deal and Strasburg signs quickly (no matter what it costs - he is a MUST get). Is there one pitcher currently on that team that scares opponents? That inspires the sure-fire confidence in those on our side? Maybe I'm being sacriligious here but is Randy St. Claire the Be All End All of pitching coaches we've been led to believe? In four-plus years of Nats-dom, name me one pitcher he's developed into a stud. The current rotation (Zimmermann excluded) is pretty much four No. 4 starters. We Need The One - and he isn't coming via trade.

*Tell me again why this team is carrying three catchers? Of all the problems it has, catching doesn't appear to be one of them. The Flores-Nieves combination is just fine. Josh Bard is not an upgrade. Go with Flores-Nieves. If that doesn't suit, move Nieves and get Montz up as a backup. But there's a wasted roster spot there with three (and I don't think any of them can play elsewhere but I could be wrong).

*I am not clear on the thinking that led anyone to believe Milledge was a leadoff hitter. I would love to see Dukes-Guzman-Zimmerman-Dunn as the first four for a stretch, just to see if it works. Guzman is a perfect two-hole hitter and there's nothing wrong with having a power hitter who can run like crazy up top. You could have Willingham-Milledge-Flores after the first four. Or Johnson-Milledge-Flores or whatever. Give Dukes a look up top. Leading off and playing center field *** every single day, please. Put Milledge in a corner. Yeah, he had some nice plays yesterday. He can make them in right, too. Dukes will cover more ground and has a better arm.

*Who besides Zimmermann is in the farm system that we really, really can't wait to see? Is the farm system really any good?

EDIT - great, fast work by my friends at We'veGotHeart (see cool links to the right) getting up the news that Milledge has been sent to AAA. No word on a call-up or other move in the initial post. Clears up a logjam (Dunn, Dukes, Willingham PLEASE across the outfield). Could be good for him IF he goes down with a good attitude. Be something to watch anyway.


Brian said...

"Who besides Zimmermann is in the farm system that we really, really can't wait to see? Is the farm system really any good?"

Do you want an honest answer?

Realistically, there are not any guaranteed future stars in the minor leagues. They have a number of guys who could turn into something but most of those guys are a couple of years away. The near term answers are #4 outfielders, utility infielders, bullpen arms and back of the rotation starters.

Guys like Chris Marrero, Michael Burgess, Jack McGeary and Derek Norris are still more potential than polish.

The farm system is better than it was in the spring of 2005, but it still has a ways to go.

MikeHarris said...

Yeah, that's what I feared.

Nate said... for a guy like Willingham if you aren't going to use him?In no particular order:

1. Because Adam Dunn was a free agent who'd expressed no interest in coming to DC;

2. Because Nick Johnson's life is a running audition to replace Samuel L. Jackson's character in Unbreakable;

3. Because the fans (both of them) would have justifiably howled bloody murder if nothing was done to upgrade 2008's Dukes-Milledge-Kearns outfield.

4. Because one hamstring/knee/groin/quad injury could transform Willingham into an instant starter.

5. Because having more MLB-caliber players than you have starting gigs is the idea (albeit one Nats fans aren't familiar with), not a design flaw.

Sorry to unload Mike, but there are plenty of legitimate reasons to gripe without folding in the Willingham deal.

MikeHarris said...

Gotcha Nate, but Willingham seems to be too good to be a "spare part." Guy has a pretty good history of being productive. The Opening Day RF has a pretty good history, at least in Washington, of not being productive.
My complaint isn't about having too many good players at spots. It's having the wrong players starting.
Kearns would make a fine fourth outfielder.

bdrube said...

Personally, I'd send Milledge back down to Triple-A. He can work on getting his hitting stroke back, improving his defense and getting his head on straight while the Nats save on his service time.

He can stay there until one of the combo of Willingham-Johnson-Kearns is either traded or leaves via free agency. If he comes back next year much improved, you have a win all around.

bdrube said...

Holy crap...they listened to me!

MikeHarris said...

Don't let my wife know it was your doing. See my most recent post. She's out for blood.

DeezNats said...

Better alternative than Manny? How about somebody with a pulse? Going back to last year, he has "led" the team to 15 straight losses. He has about a .400 winning pct in his career. The team has significantly regressed each year during his tenure. The last straw for me was letting Rivera pitch to Howard yesterday. Howard has a 1.032 career OPS against RHP, but only .767 against LHP. Why would you carry 3 lefty relievers and not use them? Because it didn't go according to his "formula" of Rivera in the 7th and Beimel in the 8th? The key to that strategy working is to get to the 8th with the lead (or tied). To do that, you have to go to the pen for Beimel in that situation. I will point out that Ledezema ended up striking out Howard in the 8th (and making him look pretty hapless on the 3rd strike). Bottom line is, Manny's job is to maximize his talent by putting his players in position with maximum probability of success. I don't think he does that. Take Milledge as another example. He is neither a CF or a lead off hitter, but Manny insisted on doing both and now the kid goes back to AAA and for all we know his confidence may suffer. I don't necessarily know who should be our manager, but I do know who shouldn't be any longer: Manny Acta.