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.