Before anyone goes and declares Ken Rosenthal's report about Manny officially wrong, keep in mind he said he could happen after the New York series. Which is now. But I now suspect it isn't going to happen. If the Nats drop six on this homestand, maybe the talk gets renewed.
I don't think anyone - from the front office down to the lowest citizens of Nats Town - expects this club to turn into a contender overnight. All anyone asks at this point is for some signs of life. That's exactly what we got the past two nights. When you're flat-out dead and about to be covered by that sheet, all it really takes is a couple of faint heartbeats to have everyone smiling again. I'm gearing up for the long drive for tonight's game with a smile on my face, not a sense of dread. (and I hope I don't need to use my beach towel to dry off any rain. I've had enough of that stuff).
I know I wrote in my post to close May that I was on board with the idea that it was time for a change. I'm not going to back off on my conviction that it was the correct thinking at the time. I'm also not going to claim to be bothered that it didn't happen. As I've said many times, I like Manny. I like what he's all about and I want him to succeed as a manager. I'm willing to give it some more time, as long as we continue to see some signs of life.
Enough pieces are in place for this to be a .500 team but there's no margin for error.
Once you get on the other side of all his folksiness and golly gee manner, Ray Knight will deliver some decent analysis. He noted the same point the other night, that this team should be able to play .500 the rest of the season. "Anything else is a pipedream," he said. True. I'm not dreaming that big, not yet anyway. Playing .500 ball is a step in the right direction and I think I'm safe in saying that's all any of us need to see at this point - steps in the right direction.
So, let's keep this happy train a-rolling. Here are a few suggestions if anyone cares:
*Keep Manny for a while, at least through the all-star break.
*Name a GM. Rizzo? Fine. Someone else? Fine. But put someone in charge without an interim tag. Remove the air of uncertainty. And I hope the reports are wrong that this Hunsicker cat, late of the Astros, is a candidate. If you can't coax John Schuerholz out of retirement or get someone of that stature, give Rizzo a shot. A real shot.
*Get Strasburg signed. Whatever cash you have committed to this, add a smidge more and get it done. Your fan base will love you. My installment plan just finished for my second set of tickets. Take another month's worth and put it in the SS Fund.
*Someone on the FireJimBowden blog had an interesting comment about Manny only trusting four of his seven relievers (Beimel, Villone, Tavarez, MacDougal). Very valid point. If it is true, move out Hanrahan, Wells and Colome and get him more options. Hasn't Clippard earned at least a look? Just make sure one of the options isn't named Logan Kensing. I still believe the stuff is there with Hanrahan but if the manager doesn't trust him, he can't be clogging up a spot.
*Think hard when Willingham returns. I have about zero love for Corey Patterson but perhaps it is time to thank Austin Kearns for the memories and hope he finds success elsewhere. Maybe move Patterson and Kearns and give someone else a look.
*Keep the rotation intact for now. Lannan and the Rooks. Let Olsen pitch out of the bullpen or find a creative way to keep him on the DL or something. When shutdown time comes - and I'm not sure I agree with all that but that's a story for another day - let Olsen have a few more starts.
*Is Johnson for Delcarmen dead?