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Sunday, May 31, 2009

I think it is about that time

This one is tough to write for a variety of reasons. I really, really like what Manny Acta seems to be about and I want him to succeed - not just because he manages my favorite team. I'm also breaking one of my cardinal rules because I am griping about a problem and I can't offer a solid solution. But not writing this would be breaking a promise I made to my faithful readers. I will never be less than honest in how I think. Often wrong, yes. But always honest.

I think a managerial change has to be made. And I have one of those feelings that if the Nats lose today - and who doesn't fully expect that to happen? - it will happen before the start of the homestand Tuesday. A 2-9 homestand followed by an 0-6 road trip? They just can't let that pass and not do something. You can't come out of the gate 13-36 after a 102-loss season.

What flipped the switch?

Well, I was going to write this on Thursday and wanted some time to think. Manny's comments in the postgame after Wednesday's loss in New York have stuck right in my craw. He made an excellent point about the overruled home run. How does it hit the sign, head toward the field and then bounce back TOWARD the fence? Shouldn't it bounce toward Dunn? Excellent question.

So why didn't he haul out there and ask the umpires? Why didn't he take a baseball with him and provide a demonstration? Why did he not go nuts after that one? Why did he not fight for his guys? Not that it would have changed the call. Of course not. But the players HAVE to see that you are MAD ENOUGH to fight for them. The balk call? Same thing. I sure as hell didn't see a balk there. Don't shrug. GO FIGHT. Get tossed in defense of your team.

Stoic and calm is good in most situations. I don't want a raving lunatic managing my team. But I do want some fire, someone who knows that sometimes you have to show it.

Check out some Atlanta broadcasts. Bobby Cox looks stoic as all get out every time they pan to him. Guy makes an error? Mr. Stoic. Ball flies out of the park? Mr. Stoic. Guy gets nailed being stupid on the bases? Mr. Stoic. An ump makes a bad call? Berserk. All-time record for ejections. Has anyone ever said that kind of thing is bad for his team? Ask any former Brave you happen to meet. They'll all KILL for Bobby Cox. Never shows 'em up in public. Has their back. EVERY TIME.

The actual baseball stuff? I'm sure Manny knows his stuff. Yet this team is pretty weak fundamentally, something we've all noted from time-to-time. They don't cover bases. We could go on and on there. We probably could with any manager.

That isn't what has me sliding into the "must go" camp. I asked it much earlier this season, maybe after the first game. Is this the right manager for THIS team? I've come to the conclusion he is not.

What's next? That's where I come up empty. Riggleman as interim, then let Rizzo or a permanent GM hire a manager after the season? Listach? I know he's well regarded. His decisions at third base don't fill me to the brim with confidence. But I'd be OK with that if he can light a fire under these guys. I don't know right off the top of my head who else is out there. Are any of the minor league managers worth a hoot, worthy of a shot?

I'll repeat what I've said many times. Manny isn't playing on a level field. He doesn't have a full deck like most other managers. I'm also not expecting a pennant or even playoffs. I think a push toward .500 was realistic and most of us felt that way. I can't even calculate what they'd have to do now to finish with a .500 record. I'm not sure the team can win the 28 games it needs to win to beat the '62 Mets. I just don't think Manny is doing all he can with the deck he does have.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

As Friday nights go

I've had many that were a lot better.

*The Flores situation sours everything - even if the Nats had won and Strasburg had pitched a no-hitter. I just have this terrible feeling that nothing good is going to come out of the visit to Dr. Andrews. Monday night, we'll read about surgery being scheduled. Besides hating it for Flores, who seems like a very good kid in addition to being a quality player, it is an horrendous blow for the team. The dropoff from No. 1 catcher to Nos. 2/3 is HUGE (no offense Wil, but it is what it is here). I love Nieves as a backup. Not sure I want him catching every day. I congratulate Bard on the birth of his third child but I'm not convinced he could throw any of his kids out trying to steal. If Flores is out long-term, they'll have to make some kind of move. Not sure a good one is out there.

*My recent poll shows 37 votes for learning in the bigs, four for learning in the minors. I want to hear from the four - not so I can abuse you and tell you how wrong you are, but so I can weigh some other opinions against my own that is admittedly colored by emotion. Even given last night, I still want Detwiler to learn in the majors. If that's the worst he does against that team in that stadium, I'm OK with it. And you can make a case - shocker - that some better defense would have limited the damage.

*Anyone else watch Strasburg? From innings 3-7 he was dominant. There are a lot of pieces there but he still needs some work. I hope the Nats have the people in place to see that the work is done right and not screw him up. We're not talking massive adjustments here. His team isn't very good. U.Va. carved out a couple of runs early, one on a home run, and I never for a second felt like San Diego State would get back into the game.

*How many times over the next few years will we read a headline that says some variation of "Dukes faces jail time?" Is there is "list" for that if it actually happens (disabled/restricted/suspended/incarcerated)? How does it affect the 40-man? I know this, the Nats need him in the lineup. Maxwell looks ridiculously overmatched. He looked much better during his cup of coffee two years ago.

*Clint Hurdle to the Nats? I kicked it around with some buds and they seemed convinced of one thing: You don't want him anywhere near Strasburg. I didn't realize he'd only had one winning season out there. Hell, he basically had a good eight weeks when they put on that amazing rush to force a playoff. I would like to know how many times in the past two weeks a Rockie failed to cover a base on a ground ball in the infield. If that happens again with the Nats, what's left of my brain may explode.

It's only 9 a.m. This day can't go anywhere but up. I'm really, really hoping Flores' visit to Birmingham isn't the downer I expect but I'm about a zero on the optimism scale on that one.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Flores-Dr. Andrews-&$C!

As if this season hasn't been difficult enough, the TV crew just said Jesus Flores is heading to Birmingham, Ala., to see Dr. James Andrews.
That's not a good sign. This has put a huge boulder in my stomach.
Maybe he'll say, "Nope, you're fine. See you Tuesday."
But I'm guessing not.
Not the news I wanted tonight.

And Strasburg just gave up a home run to the second batter! I'm going to bed.

Music and Ladies Night

If Strasburg does not pitch against Virginia tonight (and I'd be shocked if he didn't), my problem is solved. If not, I'll figure something out to be able to watch both games.

In the meantime:

*Does anyone know how to beat the service fees on the Elton John-Billy Joel concert? I asked my wife at our last game if she'd like to go. Sure. So I went to yesterday and found two pretty good seats. They were 102 each, which is high but what the heck? Went to check out. Total: $255. Hmmmm. I was always bad at math but two times 102 is 204. That leaves FIFTY ONE bucks in various fees. No way. Not doing that.

The funny thing is, if they'd made the tickets 125, I would have done that without hesitation. Just bury the fees into the costs of the tickets. It ain't that hard.

So, a little help please?

*Got a return call from Bree Parker about this Ladies' Day thing on Thursday. She could not have been more pleasant and helpful. Turns out I can pay the upgrade fee and turn in my current tickets. My wife is taking a half day off work so she can do the Ladies Day thing. Ms. Parker also said I was welcome to come. I'll pass, thanks, but my wife will party on.

*I may head up Wednesday, too. A bunch of friends are coming in from all over the east to see Randy Johnson go for No. 300. One of them told me yesterday he couldn't believe how many great seats were still available. You haven't been paying attention, have you? I told him if Randy Johnson played for the Phillies, Uncle Stan would be sending limos.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Future vs. The Future

A night with no baseball! What to do - the possibilities are endless. Go out to a movie? Naw, that's why they invented Netflix. Finish a book? Always a good option, one I tend to take while winding down from the latest loss. Organize the home office? No way, too much like work.

Tonight's choice is actually rather simple. I have to pick my son's brain and figure out an electronics set-up for tomorrow night. Or at least figure out if my cool Hi Def TV has a split screen function. Don't laugh. The previous TV was in place for nine years. Had one and I never knew it. I'm a little clueless about such things.

Tomorrow night at 7, Nats at Phils. Ross Detwiler pitching for Washington. Let's see how he does in Citizen's Bank Park against a team hitting 1.738 against D.C. this season. Let's see if he can hold Raul Ibanez to only one home run.

Tomorrow night at 7, University of Virginia vs. San Diego State. Thanks to DirecTV, ESPNU is available. Stephen Strasburg against the Cavs.

I may have to move another TV into the room. My son had three set up next to each other at his old pad and was a little miffed when he returned home to find we didn't have the same arrangement. I could always resort to going back and forth with the clicker.

One way or another, I'm watching both games.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Home run

my ass.

OK, maybe it was but could you really tell for absolute sure on that replay? And why isn't the umpire (same one from Monday) getting his fanny a little closer to it? Mr. Dibble wondered the same thing.


I didn't watch the postgame last night for the first time in ages. I was fed up, so I just rolled on over and went to sleep. I resisted the temptation to go to Google and see if "Listach" meant "gutless" in some obscure language. I had nightmares of Justin Maxwell standing on third base and laughing. HA HA HA! I could have SCORED! TWICE!

But I'm feeling much better now after rising, sipping some coffee and checking out the news.

Daniel Cabrera is gone! My chest pains went away almost immediately.

I'm really not the type of low-level s.o.b. who takes joy in someone else's struggles. I wish DC no ill will. Heck, he has 2.8 million reasons to be consoled. He's still cashing his check. I guess they had to D.F.A. him instead of releasing him for contractual reasons - maybe they get out of paying him if he refuses the minors? Whatever, he's off the 25-man and that's a good thing.

More moves should be coming this week and it should be simple. So, too, should the lineup for the foreseeable future. What do I know? About nothing. But when you're 13-32, you're not in position to turn your nose up at anyone who has a suggestion. 13-32. Cripes. There's the chest pains again.

*Flores>Bard (Montz). A real no-brainer. And the next time one of them gets hurt, just go get Montz. I still don't get the attraction of Josh Bard.

*Dukes>Maxwell. Needs a steady stream of at bats and won't get it in Washington.

*Olsen>TBD (Wells/Tavarez/the possibilities are endless). To the pen, please, to be used as a starter on an emergency basis only. Unlike Cabrera, I think there is an upside to Olsen though I'm less sure of that than I was before the season.

That leaves a bullpen of Hanrahan (bring the heat), Beimel, Villone (I hear the Mirage is his favorite place in Vegas), Bergmann, Olsen, Tavarez (or Wells) and Colome. I'm willing to sacrifice Colome to give Clippard a look. Actually, I'm willing to sacrifice all but Hanrahan and Beimel to give others a look.

The rotation is set. Please do not mess with it, unless there's an injury or some doubleheader situation. Let 'em roll, let 'em learn. Mr. Lannan and the Rookies, like some obscure 50s rock band.

Daily lineup: Guzman, 6; Johnson, 3; Zimmerman, 5; Dunn, 9; Dukes, 8; Willingham, 7; Flores, 2; Hernandez, 4; Pitcher. DO NOT VARY except for the night-day catcher thing and a start once in a while for Harris or Belliard. Get it through your heads that for all his defensive skills and great arm, Austin Kearns is not going to hit on a consistent basis. He's a nice fourth outfielder. He'll probably go somewhere next year and blossom into the all-around stud Washington has been waiting for, but it is not going to happen here.

If Johnson is traded, I'll be happy to adjust the lineup for you. I'd probably move Dunn to first, bring up Maxwell and leave Kearns as the fourth outfielder.

Oh yeah, one other thing: SEND HIM. Unless it is Josh Bard, but he's not around anymore.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


is Justin Maxwell still on third base?
Just curious.
And amazed.
And a little steamed.

I have no comment either

The umpires aren't talking, this report by the Times' Mark Zuckerman says. As much as I'd like to know what they were thinking or what they saw, I can't say I blame them much.

If there's a more thankless job in sports than being an umpire, I don't know what it would be. This book provides some interesting insight on the profession. I finished it not long ago. Not a great book by any stretch but I'm glad I read it because it gave me a little more understanding about the world of umpires. It also made this much clear - that's not a job I'd want at a million bucks a year.

Did they get the call wrong last night? Probably. Of course, I'm looking at it from a Nats' fan point of view. I know this - as much as we rant and scream and moan (all part of being a fan), those folks get it right an amazingly high percentage of the time.

Do the Nats win if the call is reversed? Who knows? Chances are good those runs score anyway. This was not one of those heartbreak games, one of those bullpen implosions or other weird happenings games. This was a game where the Mets were better. Period.

While I'm using this space to pimp books, this one about Mike Coolbaugh and Tino Sanchez is pretty much a must read. I finished it last night. Don't read it without a box of tissues nearby and don't say you weren't warned. But do read the book.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My new approach

Today was one of those can't watch/can't listen days. Went to a retirement party for a friend/former co-worker. Caught up with a bunch of my old newspaper buddies. For his present, we gave the honoree two tix to the first two Nats-Red Sox games (he's a Red Sox fan, by the way, but I love him anyway). We had a blast.

I turned on the radio as Hanrahan was finishing up his strikeout of Markakis.

If I don't view live, watch on TV or listen on the radio, the Nats seem to do pretty well.

That's it, I've seen enough

Ross Detwiler has to stay and pitch/develop in the big leagues.

Bet you didn't think that's where I was going here. We'll get to that other nonsense soon.

Detwiler showed me plenty of stuff tonight, and I don't mean stuff like what he throws. I mean stuff as in sack, stones, the olives you need and that some of the Nats' other pitchers (coughCabreracough) don't seem to have.

I think he has what it takes to be successful, albeit with a very small sample size, and I see no reason why he shouldn't continue to learn at the highest level.

Sure, he'll get lit now and then. Let him learn from it, as long as it doesn't become chronically ugly (like say, Cabrera). Let him learn that the pitch that he could slip past some AA dude will get hit into next week in the majors.

Six innings with one run and one hit - and WE ALL KNOW IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN NO RUNS AND NO HITS. Yes, his walks put him in a major jam. But he pitched his way out of it. He was clear. HOW DO YOU LEAVE SECOND BASE UNCOVERED?

His most impressive inning tonight was the third. Yes, the very third where he walked the bases loaded - including walking a pitcher who was batting for the first time in the majors. That'll rattle many pitchers. We've seen one this year (coughCabreracough) who never could get it back once things went awry. All Detwiler did was come back and strike out an excellent hitter in Jones.

Then he induced that weak ass grounder from another excellent hitter in Markakis. Zimmerman slides over, picks it up, sets to throw to seco *** oh, wait. NO ONE IS THERE. Run scores.

Seriously, how does that happen? I love Willie Harris, I've made no secret of that. I'm glad he's on the team. BUT DOES HE NOT COVER SECOND? Don't give me any jib-jab about not playing any second base this year. He's played it before. He's played baseball before. EVERYONE knows he has to cover second in that situation. Again, love you Willie, but damnation on a stick. COVER SECOND BASE.

The good news is it only took us two hours and five minutes to get home. Our best time yet. Less time for my wife to listen to me go ARRRGGGHHHHH and stuff. The anti-Manny callers were out in force. One said lack of fundamentals is related to the lack of leadership. He also mentioned some stats I didn't know - that Huff pretty much owns Villone (like .500 in his career), lefty-lefty thing be danged. Maybe I heard that wrong?

Did I miss a memo or something? Has Bard taken over for Nieves? Great catch by Maxwell in the first. Loved that. Loved Detwiler. Not much else to say. Were those some excessively weak whiffs in the ninth or what?

That's 1-11 with me in the house this year.

My wife asked a good question. Should Detwiler have gone another inning? I was OK with him coming out then, assuring a very positive night. We saw what happened with Stammen the other night. But maybe she has a point.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Pretty much the second that shot went in last night, I changed the status on my Facebook page to "I wish LeBron played for the Nats."

I wonder if he can pitch?

With each passing day, I become more convinced that Mr. James is headed toward "greatest ever" status. Of course, we can't judge that until his body of work is complete. I'm willing to bet he makes a run at it.

All the truly great teams, in any sport, have a player like that. Step. Catch. Shoot. BANG. That series has a whole different look.

Do the Nats have their LeBron already? Zimmerman certainly has provided some major moments, like the Father's Day game-winner in 2006 and the Opening Night game winner last year. When he's surrounded by even more talent and a real bullpen, will he be the one to provide them when it truly counts?

Is the LeBron of the Nats a closer of the future, someone we'll all KNOW is going to get the job done every time he steps out there? Is is Stephen Strasburg, the pitcher who won't let a losing streak grow much past four?

I guess it will be fun to watch, to see who becomes that LeBron. I just hope it happens while I'm still here on earth.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Let's make a deal

Results of my trade poll aren't that surprising. Nick Johnson led the way with 14 votes. Josh Willingham got nine. Austin Kearns and Lastings Milledge got eight each.

Lord knows I'm not in the head of Mike Rizzo. I have no idea how he thinks, though I'm guessing he thinks highly of those he put in the Diamondbacks system. I do think Kearns and Milledge are off the table.

Kearns costs too much and just hasn't shown himself to be that good. I can't see the team getting much in return. Milledge? Who is going to give up something of value for a Triple A outfielder (beyond the Nats a couple of years ago)? And an injured one at that. He has to get better and prove himself somewhere. I get the idea Rizzo doesn't much like him but I also think he's still somehow part of the long-range plan.

Willingham is, I think, under club control for two years after one. I suspect he's the every day left fielder next year and I'm OK with that. I think with regular play, he'll be as productive as he was in Florida. Not a star but certainly functional. Decent outfielder. And I don't know that he brings a whole lot in return right now either.

That leaves ol' Nick, a guy I really like as a player. Who can dispute that, when healthy, he's a pretty good guy to have on the team? He's a professional hitter and strong fielder. We can question a lot about Manny but the move of Johnson into the No. 2 hole has worked pretty well.

But he's in the final year of his contract and there's always that health thing hanging over his head. Can he actually go a full year? He has the most value of the four discussed here. Is there another team willing to take a chance on that health and return something of value?

What is that value? I have no clue. I've admitted many times on here that I don't pay attention to other teams and I sure do know exactly nothing about farm systems of other teams. Is a real, live pitcher and decent prospect too much to expect in return? Jon Rauch, not the level of a healthy Johnson but still pretty good (then), brought back a prospect. Can Johnson bring more than that?

If the Nats don't trade Johnson, they'll almost certainly lose him at season's end. If he does have a healthy, productive season, his price will go up. Can you take that kind of risk given his history?

I hate to see him go. I don't see a better option.

Who's out there who could be had? What are the answers? Dunn's only signed through next year. Is Marrero going to be ready to play in the majors in 2011?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oh well

It was fun while it lasted.

I don't make the decisions but I darn sure saw enough to give Stammen another start. Just wish he could have held on. I have no faith it will turn around now. I hope I'm wrong.

How long before Anderson Hernandez ends up back on the DL?

UPDATE - 24 hours too late but it was nice to see that upper 90s stuff blow right by those hitters. Amazing what happens when you bring that kind of heat. Really fast, a bit of movement - I suspect that is what the Nats had in mind when they made Hanrahan the closer.

In search of answers

One of the highlights of my former career was being the Heisman Trophy chairman for the state of Virginia. I got to choose the voting panel from the state. In 1993, I was invited to the ceremony and got to sit on the dais. The speaker that year? O.J. Simpson.

I bring that up not to "pimp" the highlights of my former career. I am going somewhere with this, honest. The Heisman selection system is one of the most criticized things going and many of the complaints are legit. I told those who called me to complain that but added something else: Don't complain about something if you can't offer a viable alternative. The Heisman system isn't perfect. Give me a better one.

So that's my backdrop for the rule I'm about to break. Something is wrong. Something is broken. Something needs to be done. I ought to just shut the hell up becuase I can't offer any concrete solutions. Ah, but that would be so unlike me. I'm not going to shut up.

I was in the house for last night's disappointment. The place was buzzing beforehand with the news of Stammen up, Cabrera to the pen. A little excitement in the air. At the end of the night, it was just another shake-your-head defeat that left me a lot to think about on the long drive home (I am getting too old for these up-and-backs). Allow me to share some of the thoughts and questions.

*Is it Manny? I'm still not in the fire Manny camp but I get the feeling those on my side of the line are getting smaller in number. Some of the callers on the post-game last night were very pointed. One even asked Byron Kerr what he thought. Byron sidestepped it nicely. I'd still like to see what Manny could do with a full deck but I'll admit up front I'm growing more concerned about the way he's handling his current deck. But, here's the key: Even if you are on the Manny-must-go train, is there a better alternative available? Don't change just to change.

*Is it Randy St. Claire? I'd be more inclined to make a change here. I think we've put St. Claire on a pedestal that he hasn't earned. What makes him so great? Give me the name of one pitcher he's developed. Is Jason Bergmann better now than he was in 2005? Not at all, it doesn't seem. Why not? I think Bergmann and Zimmerman are the only players to have appeared in at least one game every season of the Nats. Rob Dibble, who knows pitching, hasn't questioned St. Claire directly that I've heard. He does question (often) the mental approach the Nats' pitchers take to the mound. That speaks volumes to me. But again, is there a better alternative available?

*You can't make chicken salad out of chicken s**t. Could the Nats really be any worse if they chucked most of the bullpen and grabbed replacements from a variety of sources including those currently unemployed (Villone seems to be working) and your minor-league system? They say you can't fire the players. Why not?

*Bear with this story for a minute. My daughter played field hockey for a school that had a tradition of being awful. She was part of a large group of sophomores kept on the varsity. The thinking was they could go down to JV and win but keeping them on varsity would expose them to the level of play they'd need to achieve. The next two years they were really good. So if Detwiler and Stammen aren't getting rocked out of the building, why not let them learn and develop on this level. Keep money and arbitration clocks and that nonsense out of the equation for a moment. The team is 11-28. It probably couldn't be worse if it tried. Why not let them learn here? Is that totally crazy? I like the four rooks and Lannan rotation.

*Eight relievers? C'mon. Chuck one. Having 13 pitchers basically limits you to three bench players, assuming you save your backup catcher. Another bad pitcher doesn't make a bad bullpen better.

*Do you not at least try to buzz one at 97 mph by Adam LaRoche? I'm not down on Nieves for failing to block every single ball in the dirt. Throw them down there and one is going to get by every now and then. I am a bit disgusted that he couldn't get a bunt down. Do they work on that stuff?

My next trip up is Saturday and I'm eager to see Detwiler pitch. I hope the Nats aren't staring a 10-game losing streak in the face. The above-mentioned caller flat-out asked: What if the team goes 0-11 on this homestand? Laughable? Not really, they're already seven games into that. If that happens, doesn't a change HAVE to be made. Yeah, I would think a change HAS to be made in that case.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Odds and ends time

A few things on my mind this chilly morning:

*We don't have Alex Cintron to kick around anymore. DFA. Good. The Nats will be short a bench player, but you can make the case they were short a bench player with him on the roster. Bergmann back in what is now an eight-man bullpen. Those gas cans get heavy so they need more people to carry them around.

*The TV crew talked a lot about how Joe Beimel is being used in a different role here than he was in LA and that may have something to do with his struggles. If I get time later, I may research that. The biggest question: Is he really OK? His numbers pre- and post-injury lead me to believe that is a bigger factor than his role.

*Dukes to the DL. Only five days after he was hurt. I'm not doctor, though I am the son of one. But it strikes me as odd that the Nats repeatedly wait before putting someone on the DL. Is there no way to tell just a little quicker? Maybe not. Just seems strange. He pinch hit Saturday, a day after he was hurt. Dukes is obviously very athletic but he also seems a bit fragile - I'm curious if he'll ever be able to play a 162-game season.

*Condolences to Dmitri Young and his family. His mother died.

*Ladies Day is coming up, two weeks from tomorrow. Sounds like fun and my wife would like to attend. The game is part of our season-ticket package, so I already have four tickets. She was planning on taking a half-day off from work (she usually doesn't go to mid-week games during the school year). So I have to buy another ticket to get her into the Ladies Day function? That doesn't seem right when I bought a ticket for the game well in advance. Anyone know how this might work?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ross is the boss

In an effort to be upbeat and joyful on this beautiful sunny morning, I'm going to pretend last night's version of Bullpen Disasters didn't happen. It was a five-inning game and the only thing to talk about is Ross Detwiler.

Lots of strikes. Seemed composed. Give him the ball again on Saturday and see what happens (especially since I'll be there and would like to see him live). Makes too much sense, so I doubt it will happen. I fully expect to see Craig Stammen pitch.

I'm OK with that, too, so long as he throws a complete game.

Veering away from my opening sentence promise, I told my son - who becomes more and more glad every day that he was born a Braves fan - to watch Mock's first pitch and we could guess how that bullpen would fare. High and wide. Terrible pitch. A foreshadowing. "This is going to be ugly," I said.

Manny had some quote about a Double-A guy and a big-league bullpen. Where, pray tell, is that big-league bullpen? Does Pittsburgh have one? It certainly isn't the collection in the right-field cage. I'd much rather have seen the Double-A guy a little longer.

The bullpen has become a raging joke. Not sure what changes can be made at this point. I don't know the below-majors personnel well enough. But some changes have to be made. Again. When Ron Villone is the only guy you can trust, there's a problem. And how long does anyone think the Villone magic is really going to last?

Great quote from Josh Bard in the "Chatter" blog by Mark Zuckerman of the Times: "They're trying their stinking best," Bard said. "But this isn't a 'try' league. This is a 'do' league."

Makes me like Bard a lot more now that he came up with a quote like that. I love the way he worked 'stinking' in there. And he's right. I'd try like hell if they gave me a chance. Not good enough. You have to do and this group does not.

Go 9 young men, go 9. Or you have no chance.

Now, where did that sunshine go?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thank you to my wife

for being sick yesterday.

OK, that came out wrong. My mind is a mess. I didn't mean it like that. It's just that, if she hadn't been sick, we would have been in the house (do I have to say 'in the hizzee' now?) for yesterday's disaster and that might have been the end of me.

As it was, I could just curse real loud, turn off the TV and head to Target to pick up some dog food.

I haven't played the game in nearly 40 years. And I didn't exactly play it at a high level. So I have no clue what went wrong when Jesus Colome threw a ball RIGHT OVER THE BAG on a play where the Phillies were trying to make an out. Anderson Hernandez clearly moved to get out of the way. OK, we know he's not afraid of the ball. Apparently, he didn't expect it and this sudden missile appearing startled him.

He was looking for Zimmerman to throw it and it was Colome instead (probably his best throw of the day). What confuses to me is why that matters? It's not like they were 10 feet apart and not both in his field of vision. They were awfully close, close enough that there was some initial confusion about who actually made the throw. Shouldn't Hernandez have been looking for a ball period?

Of course, if Tavarez manages to throw a strike or two, maybe it doesn't matter. But we all know "relievers" and "strikes" don't often get used in the same sentence where the Nationals are concerned, unless "not throwing" is also in the mix.

Great line from Rob Dibble yesterday when they were discussing Halladay's eighth win. At what point does Halladay catch the Nationals? My guess is three more starts.

One notable thing about this 11-25 mess is the team is showing us there are levels of low we never knew existed. Just when you think it can't get worse or nothing more amazingly bad can happen, something indeed happens. I think any manager in baseball would take his chances with a promise of at least five runs in every game of a four-game series. I'd wager a lot that most teams would fare better than 0-4.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Philadelphia South

Quite a long day yesterday in Citizens Bank Park - you know, the southern version of it located on South Capitol Street in Washington, D.C.

Uncle Stan must be thrilled that so many Phillies fans took him up on his invitation to come on down! They were everywhere. Saw four buses worth of them tailgating in a parking lot between games. Went over to The Bullpen (oldest person there by at least 25 years) and did not see a single Nats fan.

Riding the escalator down in the rain, a young woman behind me asked her friend, "Are there any Nationals fans here?" I waited out the rain with my friends Kristen and Stephanie from We've Got Heart in the Red Porch. We tried to put a number on the percentage of Nats fans in the park (this while every table around us was filled with Uncle Stan's phriends with Ps on their hats). 40? Probably too high.

I had interactions with two groups of Phils' fans. One group of guys was watching the Preakness with me in the Red Porch bar. Nice conversation about baseball and other stuff. One asked - does it tick you off that there's so many Phillies fans here? Well, yeah, I said, but not because of those fans. They have as much right to be Phils fans as I do to be a Nats fan (and more brains, clearly). They have as much right to buy tickets as I do. What hacks me off is they are so available. Five years in, two years into a new park, it would be lovely if we had the kind of team in D.C. that would draw tons of people wearing Ws and make it difficult for fans of any other team to get tickets. But that's not THEIR fault. They are available. Buy 'em up. Stan loves you. It is the Nationals' fault for fielding a poor product in year five.

Walking back to my car in the rain, I fell in with two Philly dads and their teen-age sons. Nice folks. They wanted to get their bearings on where they were in relation to the White House, etc. We actually stopped in the rain and talked for a while. "Please hurry up and get good," one dad said. "This could be a great rivalry. We could give each other hell for three hours and then go drink some beers. We'd much rather have the rivalry with you than the Mets." Hey, we'd love that, too. "Gotta work on that pitching!" he said. Uh, yeah. One of the kids said he was disappointed he didn't get to see Flores, he really liked him. The dad then came back with, "By the way, as Flyers fans, the Capitals really ticked us off. The Penguins!?!" As Capitals fans, we pretty much feel the same way.

I said it on my interview with Byron Kerr and I said it to these guys: The most frustrating thing as a fan is I really don't think the Nats are as far away as it looks. So near, yet so far.

A few other odds and ends from yesterday:

*MASN invited bloggers to be their guests at the day game, like the game a makeup from the original schedule. It was a fun afternoon putting names and faces to the many great blogs about the Nats. MASN took us to the booth, took us to the truck and let us hang out in its suite. Rob, Bob, Debbi, Ray, Johnny - met them all and they could not have been more gracious, especially considering that we sometimes get a little irrascible with our posts. Some Nats officials showed up, too, but not Uncle Stan or Rizzo. Thanks, MASN, for your hospitality and putting up with this rowdy band of miscreants. Those wings were money.

*When it rains hard and the wind blows, the upper concourse is not a good place to be. Tough to find a place to stay dry unless you want to hang out in the head. And I don't. Raining at my house as I type and it makes me wonder if it's just going to rain forever.

*The happiest about the rain? Ron Villone's perfect ERA. Ryan Howard up, no outs, the bases loaded - that ERA was about to get real fat. I don't think anyone in the park doubted the ball was going to fly out of there. The only question was where and how far. Howard and Raul Ibanez are probably going to cry when they have to leave Nats Park. Here's a suggestion: How about just not pitching to Ibanez? I think one of his home runs yesterday landed in my back yard. I'm about to go look.

*Interesting call on the spot starter, with Ross Detwiler targeted for tomorrow night's game. Brian over at Nats Farm Authority is much more qualified to analyze who is in the best position to move up but he mentioned some things yesterday about others being out of the picture for tomorrow because of when they've thrown recently. I saw Detwiler pitch a fine game for Potomac last season but that's a long way from the big leagues. We'll see. I guess if he does well, he could earn more "spot" starts with Olsen going on the DL. Martis on Tuesday, followed by Lannan, Cabrera, Zimmermann and Detwiler again. Nobody pitches on short rest. Best thing about that is I miss Cabrera on my next two visits. Not sure I can handle watching much more of that.

*I promised myself I wouldn't rag on Cabrera today so I won't. Any more. My guess is he'll take a couple more turns while Olsen is out. When Olsen returns? Maybe that'll be the end of the grand experiment.

*I won't rag on Cintron today either. I won't ask one single time why he's taking up space on the 25 man.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion

This must be the time of year when radio stations are hard pressed to find good guests.

I just got off the horn with my old bud Byron Kerr, a terrific guy I've known for years - he was doing George Mason stuff and I was covering University of Richmond and VCU.

We did an interview that will air tomorrow in the neighborhood of 5:30 p.m. on WTOP (1500) as part of the post-first, pre-second game stuff. Time can't be exact because who knows when that first game will end?

Byron's sharp. He asked some good questions and we covered a lot of ground. He caught me flat-footed because I'm an idiot. He asked for the Web address of this blog, which I ought to know, and I had to think about it because I have it auto-plugged in or whatever that tool is called. - I think that's what I said.

Anyway, if you are bored between games tomorrow, give a listen. I hope I didn't sound like too much of a foof.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Of Pucks and Balls

Interesting that the baseball game and hockey game involving teams from Washington yesterday had almost identical scores. How often do you see that? Unfortunately, those hockey fellers were on the wrong side of the six. You would have thought they'd imported the Nats bullpen to play goal what with all the blown saves.

Disappointing, particularly since it came against the Penguins. Not much love for anything hockey out of the state of Pennsylvania and I can only hope the Bruins (or Canes) flush them quickly. My other worry is how VarLAmov will handle things, sitting on that one all winter. You can't say "brush it off kid" and send him out two days later. He can stew for several months. I think, and hope, he's made of the right stuff and can deal with it. The kid was pretty impressive for a long stretch.

I used to be pretty big into hockey, not quite as sick as I am with the Nats but not far off. When my son was much, much younger, we'd make weekend trips a couple times a season. We'd try to catch a Friday night and Sunday afternoon game. We went one time and I had no idea it was jersey day. They handed out replica Dale Hunter jersies and the kid had his on by the time we got to our seats. He wore it pretty much every day and always referred to himself as Dale. He'd holler "I scored" whenever Hunter managed to score. We'd watch every game on the old Home Team Sports. I used to call in between periods and talk to David Poile. We had fun with it.

Why did it stop? Well, the veterans on here will remember this. I can't recall the specific year or opponent. But Hunter laid a vicious and very cheap shot on someone after a goal, I believe in the playoffs. An Islander, I think. My jaw dropped. My son was pretty upset, too. He asked me many times, "Why did he do that?" I had no answer. Fighting and rough play are part of the culture of the sport. I'm OK with that. I'm not OK with cheap shots. I think Hunter got 25 games off for the hit. We stopped watching, stopped going.

That we're back as fans doesn't mean we're total bandwagon jumpers. Flash forward to the 2004 season. I was at the paper, covering Virginia Tech. The Hokies had a noon game against Georgetown and the Caps played the Flyers that night. VT spring break had just started. So the kids and their buds went to the noon basketball game. They tooled around Georgetown while I wrote. We gathered back at MCI Center (remember that?) for the hockey game. Cost me four bills for six tickets. The Caps were brutal then but they beat the Flyers 2-1 and the goal came very late. I so wanted Kolzig to get the shutout. Everyone thought it would be his last game, since it was the final game before the trade deadline. He got one hell of an ovation. A fun night.

I haven't been to a game live since but we've kept up with things. We love Ovie and Boudreau and we're optimistic about the future even given last night's disappointing meltdown. I suspect the Caps will win a Cup before our favorite baseball team makes the playoffs.

After the fifth Pens' goal last night, my son flipped the remote over to me and said, "Put on American Idol or something, it can't be as painful to watch." He also noted that perhaps we should go back to not caring again, as it will make our lives less painful.

Eh, I think not. Pain is part of the equation when you're a fan. Nats fans know that all too well.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The worry meter is off the charts

The streak is over, I fear. Not sure if our man will get another chance.
Telling comment by Bob Carpenter, though he meant it another way: "Sometimes a manager and not a pitcher stops a streak."

Would that manager be Manny Acta?

Where the heck is Dunn? Would they walk Zimmerman to load the bases for Dunn? I think not. Why does Dunn need TODAY off? They don't play for another 48 hours. Acta has said several times how much having Dunn behind him has meant to Zimmerman. So where is Dunn today?

Maybe I'm overthinking this. I do that a lot. But I really don't want this streak to end.


(Dukes' hit means Zimmerman at least gets one more shot. I'm still worried. I do that).

Well, hell, that's that. Classy of the SF fans to applaud. My son just asked: Would you trade a W to see that streak continue? I have yet to answer.

Now what?

Interesting that on the day my closer poll closes, runaway winner Joe Beimel gets his first save opportunity with the Nats.

And we all know what happened. Another Curly W erased from the books.

While the crap was hitting the fan earlier, we beleaguered Nats fans consoled ourselves with the thoughts that at least ol' Joe would be back soon. Ol' Joe would get it done.

I'm not about to throw him off the boat for one blown save but I do wonder about the pattern that has developed, the mentality that must be festering among all the relievers: NO, NOT THE NINTH! PLEASE NOT THE NINTH! Can any one of them be confident going out there to finish a game?

"Someone else" got 9 votes in the poll and I have no clue who that someone else could be. My new hero Ron Villone? I'm open to any and all suggestions and I suspect Mr. Acta might listen, too.

This was Manny's take on it afterward: "We have tried everybody and their cousins, and we still can't get anybody to put a zero up in the eighth and the ninth innings."

Actually, no. You haven't tried me. You haven't tried my cousins. You have tried my wife. You haven't tried her cousins. Right now, I'd feel better with just about any of that crew out there in the ninth.

It is depressing, demoralizing, mystifying.

At least it happened after midnight, so it technically didn't sour what was a great birthday. Z-one-n hit 30 (the same day I did!) before midnight.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Happy Birthday - to me!

That's right, a shameless self promotion here as I turn another page on the calendar. I'm a true Taurus, stubborn as a mule. I share a birthday with many luminaries. Yogi Berra (it's just as good as money). Henry Cabot Lodge. Florence Nightingale. George Carlin (I will smoke some Toledo Windowbox in his honor). Our favorite ex-Nat FLop (29 today). And Tommy Lasorda's favorite, Kurt Bevacqua (listen to the tape if you haven't already).

I'll let you in on a secret. I'm not really 30, like I claimed on my Facebook page. Yeah, I know, I could pass for that. But it is a lie. I'm Fifty-Damn-53. I'm old, I'm fat, I'm bald, I'm cranky and I'm into the fourth quarter having used all my timeouts in the first half.

If I'm going to see a winner in my lifetime that isn't on ice skates, the Nats need to get busy.

Here's what the Nats can do to make this birthday a little better:

*Start Zimmermann tonight (done) and again Sunday so I can see him in person. Don't let the off day mess that up.

*Have that other Zimmerman extend to 30 early because I can't stay up late. I missed homer No. 2, the one that actually occured on my birthday. So it doesn't count. Hit another tonight, in my honor. Fetch the ball and give it to me this weekend.

*Rent a big comfortable vehicle. Buy a road map. Put Logan Kensing in the navigator's position and Daniel Cabrera in the driver's seat. I don't trust Cabrera to actually navigate. He can't find home plate and it's only 60 feet, 6 inches away. Point them on a slow trip to Syracuse, maybe via the northern Canada route.

*Buy a first class plane ticket for Tyler Clippard and Craig Stammen and tell them to meet you in San Francisco.

*Jesus Colome has to wait until my anniversary, which is Thursday. 31 years of marriage and I just turned 30? Huh? What?

*Win, which means Z-double-n probably has to go the distance, unless my new hero Ron Villone helps him out. Not sure I'm starting to like Villone more because he's getting people out or he's my age.

*S-t-r-a-s-b-u-r-g. Yes, I can wait until the actual draft.

No big plans on the big day, not until this evening anyway. I'll play some with the dogs, write a couple of freelance stories (becoming more self employed than unemployed every day), take a solid nap. Tonight, part of the northern branch of the family will meet us in Fredericksburg - STILL NOT HALFWAY - for dinner at what is becoming our birthday restaurant. I'm sure one of the new D.C. jersies is wrapped somewhere. I'll catch the extension of the streak and my personal home run on XM on the way home (had no idea until last night that Jon Miller was the Giants' radio guy).

53, it's the new 30.

LATE ADDITION TO THIS POST - Make sure you read this offering from Chico (the writer) on Nationals Journal. Must have been hard to write that. I know how close Chico is to his family. I sent him a private note of condolence and offer my public condolences here. Chico, I don't blame your grandfather for your baseball ability. One man can only do so much! I have no doubt he was proud of how you turned out - you do indeed throw strikes. Hang in man. Good work, too, by you and Zuckerman for calling out the no-talking, no-strike throwing Cabrera.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dear Mom, send ducks - lots of ducks

to Syracuse, please.

Logan Kensing is in serious need of a duck fix. He's gone from bad in Florida to worse in Washington. My question: Is anybody really surprised? What made this guy worth a low-level prospect? There was nothing in this guy's history to make anyone think the "change of scenery" theory would work. Can you imagine how ugly the numbers would have been if Manny had actually let him go two innings yesterday?

As FJB asked yesterday, is it time for another purge (he used different words but the message is the same)?

Yes. And, as he noted, it goes beyond the pitching staff.

Kensing has to go, plain and simple. Colome can be recalled on Thursday. Let's give Clippard a look, too. Barring a superb performance tonight, I'm ready to end the Cabrera experiment, too. Can Bergmann be any worse in that slot? Isn't it time to at least try Stammen there?

While we're filling up the bus, save a seat for Cintron please. Someone remind me why he's here in the first place? He's an upgrade over Kory Casto or Pete Orr how? I'm not a stat head. There has to be an answer, right?

Like I said yesterday, I think this team is closer to being not terrible than it actually appears by the results. It has filled a lot of holes. The holes it still has, however, are huge. Gaping. Crater like.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I love this kid

Lifted the picture from the Arizona Republic's Web site, it is an Associated Press photo. With that out of the way ***

Holy Moses.

Yeah, all the props to Kearns for getting to the ball so quickly and having the presence of mind to take it straight home. But even he said it afterward - Flores made that play.

I've professed my man love for Flores before on here. I just so happen to have a new "Flores" t-shirt with the red "Washington" script across the front. I will wear it today, even though he isn't playing.

I hope his injury isn't a DL thing. I hear day-to-day with this bunch and I get the shakes. We learned last year that day-to-day means see you in a couple of months.

He'll be back soon, won't he?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

How high do you go?

So Strasburg throws a no-no in his final home start and Chico (the writer) is on the scene. Can't wait to read his story.

By now, I think we can dispense with the nonsense over whether this kid is the right pick. We can ignore the history of pitchers as high draft picks. Strasburg appears to be a once-a-generation type talent. The Nationals have the top pick. They take him. No question.

Then the fun begins.

How high do you go?

Boras' $50 million noise is absurd. Keep in mind I'm the guy who preaches conservative with draft picks. Load it up on the other end. Make them prove something first. I was in the Nats' corner on the Crow fiasco. They offered him plenty.

This guy is a different case. This guy could be - emphasis on could - an instant difference maker.

I say you offer him $15 mil right on the spot and ask him how soon he can pitch? You're starting Tuesday, you ready?

One thing I need to research. I know the NFL team with the first pick can negotiate with its choice before the draft, actually sign him beforehand I believe. Can you do that in baseball? Can the Nats get this done and get up there and say, "The No. 1 selection - and tonight's starting pitcher - Stephen Strasburg?"

Clearly, it can be done unofficially.

This team can hit. We've seen that. We're loving Martis, we're still in love with J-Z-double-N, we still have faith in Lannan and we think Olsen can be serviceable. The team cannot possibly continue to be as bad on defense as it has been (can it?). Getting another quality starter is huge. Then all offseason efforts can be spent on upgrading the bullpen.

Call me crazy. Call me delusional. Call me drunk too early in the morning. Maybe four victories in five games has me dizzy. But I'm really starting to believe the bridge from suckville to decenttown is shorter than we think.

Sign this kid. Quickly.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Interesting game last night. I fell asleep at 6-0 Dodgers and woke up again at 10-6 Nats. I was wide awake for all of Beimel's 40 pitches and through the end. High-fived all three dogs when it was done. Woo hooooo! Eight wins on May 8!

But of course yesterday was a day when the games didn't matter all that much. All anybody wanted to talk about was Manny. I went to my Facebook page (why aren't you my friend yet?) in mid-afternoon. Of the 20 status updates that showed up at that point, 16 were about Manny.

The sad thing is, no one is really surprised anymore by this stuff. Hell, even the Queen is cheating!

When the A-Rod stuff was hitting the fan, my son was pretty disgusted. He was 14 during the Sosa-McGwire summer and starting to get into things as a fan. He enjoyed that home run chase. By the time we got to Bonds, most of the world was convinced he was cheating and the whole chase of Aaron had that nasty tinge to it.

"Seriously, what can we believe anymore?" my son said. "I watch the games and ask myself, 'Is he cheating,' about almost every one of them."

Is Ryan Zimmerman juicing? How about my son's fave, Jeff Francouer? Adam Dunn? Brian McCann? Of course not! They're clean as a whistle, doing things the right way. That's what we think. That's what we hope. The worst thing these cheaters do is cheat the game and the others who play. They cast suspicion on everybody, right or wrong.

I remember covering the 2000 Olympics, when C.J. Hunter got caught doping. The worst thing, I wrote, is the splatter on his wife Marion Jones. Now she'll face the questions. I got a lot of angry response on that one. How dare we point fingers at Marion? Hey, how'd that turn out?

I don't follow baseball, I follow the Nats. On some teams out there, I couldn't name a single player. If some Nat gets nailed for a 50-gamer, I might look at things in a different way. I do know many baseball fans and a lot of them are getting more and more disgusted. Every time a Manny-level story breaks, it does some damage to the game that can never be completely repaired. That's a shame. I'm not sure 50 games is tough enough. I also wonder if baseball has a commissioner who has the rocks to do what it takes. Juice like Manny? See ya, find another way to make your 25 million.

Two other things I wonder about:

*Has the media done a sufficient job looking into drugs in baseball? That topic comes up often in media circles and the consensus seems to be no, the media has not. I still think there's a huge story out there for a reporter willing to pursue it.

*Just how new is this "trend?" Jim Bouton talked a lot about "greenies" in Ball Four - how far back does the drug era really go?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oh I just feel so much better now

Ron Villone? That's what it comes down to now? Ron Villone?

Our friends at We've Got Heart got up the report that Mike Hinckley has been DFA and Villone recalled. Rejoice, rejoice, the problems are solved.

Maybe the Nats can snooker someone into trading a prospect, an actual live body, for Hinckley while he is in his DFA waiting period. Surely there's a team out there stupid enough to do something like that.

Ron Villone? There simply has to be a better option out there somewhere.

This is Villone's 12th team. I just posted the question on Nats Farm Authority - is that the record among current major leaguers? Does he wallpaper a room with all his old jersies?

Well, at least the team saves money. Villone, Wells, Tavarez - they probably qualify for senior citizen discounts on the road.

Who beat?

I love West Coast games one for big reason.
I hate West Coast games more for another big reason.

Love 'em because I follow by radio instead of TV. That's old school for me, how I became a follower. I'd fall asleep at night listening to Dan Daniel calling Senators games and then rush out to get the paper so I could read about the game. (It's also how I decided I wanted to be a sports writer, and we see how that worked out).
Now, with TV and the Internet, we can see it all for ourselves and get instant updates. But last night, I watched the frustrating first and then went to bed. Vin Scully is so damn good. What a voice. He must be close to 700 now. He still sounds great and he still works at it. Knew a lot about the Nationals. Charley Steiner pales in comparison.

Hate 'em because I still fall asleep after a couple of innings and I wake up not knowing who won the game. I had a pretty good idea this a.m., because I remember a mention of something like 6-1 or 7-1. I hate waking up not knowing who won, though with the Nats you can always make a pretty educated guess.

Tonight, I'm going to try and stay up and watch as much as I can because I want to see Z-double-n pitch. Though now that I think about it, listening to Scully call his pitches should be an enjoyable alternative.

Of course, I'll be asleep by the fourth inning.

At the newspaper, we could set our Sunday clocks by the guy who called every race day and said, "Who beat?" Who beat what sir? The race, man, who beat the race? It's still going on. Oh. An hour later: "Who beat?"

The Dodgers beat, 10-3 I discovered a couple of hours ago.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The poll is closed - Guzman wins

I was thinking about my just-completed poll last night when the pregame took a call or an e-mail or something saying Anderson Hernandez was a better choice in the leadoff spot than Cristian Guzman.

Been there, done that, no thanks. Hernandez has proven pretty effective batting eighth, much moreso than he did as the leadoff hitter.

The poll got 48 responses. Guzman was the leadoff choice in 25. Elijah Dukes and Justin Maxwell got 11 votes each. Hernandez got one.

I was always a proponent of Dukes-Guzman as the first two but Johnson has worked so well in the second slot that I don't want to see that changed (until he's injured or traded). I'd still love to see what Dukes can do up top. If he learns some discipline on the bases, it could be interesting. He has the speed, and there's nothing wrong with a little power out of your leadoff hitter. But where does Guzman fit further down the lineup? Is he a 5 or 6 hitter?

I'm OK with leaving well enough alone for now. Of the many issues on that team, batting order isn't one of them.

Anyone who wants to earn major points can do me a favor and snag an XL t-shirt today. Not sure what the weather is up that way or if they'll draw enough to give away all the shirts. My plan was to try and get up there but an actual paying gig is getting in the way. I'd owe you forever.

LET'S GO CAPS Update: A friend just sent this - Nats record on days the Caps win a playoff game: 4-2. Record on other days: 2-15.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Interesting reading in The Post today about Lastings Milledge.

I found two comments particularly telling. One, the AAA manager says he's not a leadoff hitter. I agree. I think everybody agrees. But didn't the major-league manager say he was (or am I misremembering)?

Also, it says Milledge has lost faith in the coaching staff. He's probably not the only one but with him, it's out there now.

When he was sent down, I didn't think there was any question Milledge would be back in Washington. After reading this, I'm not so sure.

Anyone think we may have seen the last of Milledge in D.C.? Will he be packaged with someone (Johnson? Willingham?) for a pitcher?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Just bang the daggone thing already

Thank you Chico (the writer) for providing us with some updates here. We're sitting at my brother's, one attempt to head to the stadium already aborted. I see no way this game can be played. I also don't like being wet and chilled while I watch.
But I'm also cheap and don't want to head south and eat the cost of four tickets.
So we wait. For a little while longer anyway.
Here's the latest update from Chico

Stan, my man. Love you brother. I really do. But get serious. Bang it and let everyone go home. I'll buy extra food on my next two visits. I promise.

UPDATE - just heard the coolest rumor from someone at the stadium. IF true, I will give that person full credit right here. If not, I'll look foolish all on my own.
Anyway, if today is ppd as looks likely: July 16 makeup. Day-night doubleheader: Cards in one game, Cubs in the next.
How cool would that be?
Cards are now off that day, one of the teams that has an extended all-star break. They play at home on Friday the 17th against Arizona. Nats-Cubs four gamer starts on July 16.
That would be incredible.
Again, I will award the proper credit once this is finalized. This person deserves a bow.
Now I really, really want a rainout.

UPDATE 2 - Now it is officially a rainout! Eager to see what they do. Heading south, I'll check in when we get home. I want this Cards-Cubs DH to happen.

Uh oh

Not to rain on the parade of yesterday but a friend sent me this e-mail:

Your new closer:

Joe Beimel (hip) gave up five runs and seven hits in one inning Friday in his first rehab appearance for Single-A Potomac.

Uh, he was working on stuff. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Beimel will be fine.
Besides, the Nats don't need no stinking bullpen.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Today's riddle

How do you keep your bullpen from screwing up a game?

Don't use it!!

Applause to Manny Acta for having the rocks (and sense) to let Martis go. Applause to Martis for throwing as good a game as I've seen pitched in a while. As my brother just said, let's not call him Cy Young quite yet. OK, we won't. Still an impressive outing.

Isn't it fun to go watch a major-league team and actually see it play like a major-league team? Isn't it amazing how one good game in a season that isn't very good (yet) can elevate a mood.

I thought for sure Martis was done after seven and was surprised to see him come up to bat in the bottom. But his pitch count was low, he still seemed to have some good stuff. I didn't think there was any way he'd throw the ninth but, as Manny said on the postgame radio, "He had as good a stuff then as anybody we could have brought in from the bullpen." Quite true.

Other than the stadium opener, today was as much fun as we've had at a ballpark. The other team makes a mistake and the Nats take advantage. How many times have we seen it happen the other way? Dunn's homer sent a spark through the stadium that my wife agreed you could actually feel. The man is earning his fat check.

Plus, I got a Los Nacionales t-shirt out of the deal. AND the Caps won. I headed to the bathroom at just the right time to see Varlamov's amazing save late in the second period.

Today's postgame shake-your-head radio call: Someone floated the idea of turning Strasburg into a closer. Charlie Slowes handled it well. Uh, no.

It's been a fine day thus far. Now I have to see if I can go sniff out a Derby winner.

ps - my brother just told me I was born on the day Carl Erskine threw a no-hitter and our Dad wanted to name me Erskine. Our Mom said no. I never knew that. Too bad, I think Erskine would have been a cool name.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Dial 1-800-Pedro

Last graph from a story on

Cabrera ended up having a quality start, pitching six innings while giving up three runs on four hits in a 9-4 loss.

A quality start? Really? That's why the stat is worthless. Dude set a team record with four wild pitches. Four. As Chico (the writer) notes in his gamer, that's as many as Greg Maddux had in three seasons (1999-2001).

I didn't see anything out there that made me say "quality." To quote my blogging colleague at, who was there and saw more of it than I did: "How Daniel Cabrera survived six innings is beyond belief? He was all over the place with his pitches. Cabrera couldn't find the plate. And when he did, he was bouncing the baseball over it, not above it to be ruled a strike. Does anyone with such potential look more timid on the mound than Daniel Cabrera? He is so frustrating to watch that you have to feel sorry for him. What in his makeup hinders his game? Our Number 45's four wild pitches tonight were unbelievable to watch."

I realize this loss isn't on him. Nice job by the bullpen in the ninth. But still. Haven't we seen enough of Cabrera? Does anyone really believe Randy St. Claire is that much of a magician?

We went out with some friends last night so I didn't see much of the game. I watched the first inning at home and listen to Rob Dibble deliver some criticism for Cabrera's approach. Nice first pitch to Pujols. At least it didn't leave the park. I listened to a couple of innings, turning the game on just as Charlie and Dave were going into shock over Cabrera's inability to hold Pujols on first.

If the team thinks this is a reclaimation project worth pursuing, let him reclaim himself in Syracuse. Bring up Stammen. What's Clippard doing? No love for Pedro? FJB had a list yesterday of available pitchers, one of them being Odalis Perez. Someone on that list has to be a reliable starter. See the cool links to the right and find one you like.

We've seen flashes from the other four in the rotation, particularly the rookies. Changing up the other spot won't fix the bullpen - not sure what will at this point but Beimel can't get active soon enough.

I'm open to any and all suggestions for what to do about Cabrera's spot in the rotation.

Just so you don't think I'm down on everything right now, I'm not: I love the blue alternate jersies. Birthday in 11 days.