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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Does Ian Desmond shop at Gap?

One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes is one where Elaine is dating a guy and isn't sure if he's white or black. The guy, meanwhile, isn't sure if Elaine is white or Hispanic.

Throughout the show, there are a lot of cracks about inter-racial dating, hints dropped, etc., and no one gets an answer.

When it is finally revealed that they're both just plain ol' white people, Elaine utters the classic line: So, do you want to go to The Gap?

Which brings us to the newly named starting shortstop for the Washington Nationals:

Does Ian Desmond shop at Gap?

It matters not a twit, of course. I just can't tell. I was at Nats Park for his debut, saw his picture real big and all on the scoreboard and didn't even give it a thought.

My son saw him on TV a few nights later and said, "Interesting. Not sure I've ever heard of a black guy named Ian." He's not blac *** wait, maybe he is black?? Or maybe he's bi-racial?

He was on a couple of weeks earlier and my wife joined the discussion. None of us could tell for sure. I e-mailed someone I know who is around the team and asked. The answer was bi-racial with a qualifier: "I'm not sure that's correct."

So it remains a mystery and I surely hope no one is offended by my asking. As I noted earlier, it matters not a twit. I'm just the curious type. Is Ian Desmond black, white or both?

Whatever the answer, I'm very glad he'll get that shot at short. I'm eager to see what he can do, no matter where he shops.

Great news on a Sunday morning

Ian Desmond will be the starting shortstop on Opening Day, Mark Zuckerman reports at Nats Insider.

It's a bright, sunny day already. This mug of coffee tastes even better. I'm sure the Nats are thrilled to know I approve.

Of course, when he's hitting .115 on May 15 and has 20 errors, we'll all be screaming. But, for now, cheers

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Another quick question

Driving by again with another question - in all the discussion I've seen on the makeup of the season-opening 25-man, I haven't seen any that includes Cristian Guzman and Scott Olsen starting the year on the disabled list.

Is that not an option?

Olsen is still working his way back into shape from his surgery, Guzman is still having trouble making some throws. So why not the DL? See what shakes in another few weeks?

Or do you just release both of them? Olsen has an option, so I suppose Syracuse is possible? It's clear he's not one of the five best starting options at this point.

I also wonder how closely baseball monitors DL activity. Do they require proof someone is hurt, to keep teams from using it as a stashing place?

Some older Redskins fans will probably remember the team's rep for using the IR as a way to hide players for a year. The NFL apparently can require anyone on IR to show up for a doctor's appointment it makes. One year, I'm told, the league made appointments for every player the Redskins put on IR.

Nine days until they start playing for real. As of now, I don't have tickets for the Red Sox exhibition or the opener - but I do have my TV at the ready.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My favorite poll

As soon as I finish typing this post, I'm going to put up a new poll - my favorite one every year. We have such a strong history with this, having done it all of once before.

What will be the Nationals' win range this season?

Last year, I was optimistic. I thought the Nats could make a run at a .500 mark and at least hit the 70-win mark. Instead we got 59.

Not sure how I will vote this year. I'm not my usual optimistic, sunny self. I'm eager to see what a portion of the fan base - at least the portion that reads this blog - thinks.

Will suspect pitching and shaky defense undermine a decent offense? Is the offense really decent? Will the pitching be better than I think? Will the return of Strasburg/Detwiler/Wang and eventually Zimmermann (in 2011, please) save the day? Is the bullpen really upgraded?

So many questions.

I guess I'll be happy with just about anything that is an upgrade from a 100-loss season.

As for my previous poll, the 62 who votes - weak sauce! - tilt on the side of being concerned about the bad spring start. Of course, the start improved slightly since that was posted but only slightly. We have 39 concerned voters, 23 unconcerned voters. Count me among the concerned, primarily because of the showing of the bullpen. We banked on the old Matt Capps, let's hope he shows up. Which Jason Bergmann will we get, the one who looked OK late last season or the one with the huge pet gopher?

Is it Monday yet? Vote, tell your friends. I can't have this 62 nonsense anymore. Not good for my oh-so-fragile psyche.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Nats' 30 in 30 on MLB

Just a quick drive-by today as I come up for air during the greatest first NCAA tournament weekend maybe ever. I'm firmly on the St. Mary's bandwagon now. Are the Gaels fun to watch or what?

I taped the Nats' show on MLB, or whatever you do when you have a DVR. I guess you can't call it "taped" since, you know, there's no tape.

I'd like to say the show was terrific. It was fine, typical of those types of thing. A hardcore fan like us crazies wouldn't learn anything new.

One small part of it made my weekend along with all the great basketball: I could watch Ryan Zimmerman's park-opening home run on an endless loop every waking moment the rest of my life. It never gets old. Ever. I swear I can see myself and my wife when they show the stands behind the Nats' dugout.

Love the Madness. Love that home run.

Carry on.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I would have had a party. Oh well.

My first reaction to the news that Jee-sus had been sent to AA instead of A ball was SWEET. Jee-sus is coming to my little town. The caravan wouldn't bother but the MAN will visit.

Except it doesn't look as if it will happen. If I'm reading the schedule of the brand new Richmond Flying Squirrels (don't start, I didn't name the team) properly, Jee-sus' temporary team only makes one visit: June 1-3.

I suspect SS will be back in DC then preparing for his major-league debut. Storen likely up, too.

You are welcome to visit anyway, though I will be in D.C.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

On Prospects

Zech is back, an item I just saw on a "tweet" that qualifies as today's under-the-radar news:

RHP Zech Zinicola was returned to the Nats today from Toronto per MLB Rule 5 guidelines...he will report to the Nats minor league camp.

Besides loving the name, I loved this guy because he was supposed to be a fine prospect and now I don't think he will ever play in the big leagues.

Who and where are the Nats' major prospects? Is there anyone really close besides a couple of pitchers taken with two of the top 10 picks just last year? Shouldn't our next field-player stud be really close or ready by now?

Do the Nats have a home-grown star besides the one at 3B?

Let's look around the horn: The top young catcher can't stay healthy so they signed a future Hall of Famer, albeit one who is close to 40. The SS is put together with duct tape and glue (although there does appear to be an answer there). The Nats had to sign a 30-plusser to handle 2B because no one is ready. The 1B is a converted bad OF who may not be quite as bad at 1B. The OF has a 30-year-old in LF, a pushing 30 player in CF and lord knows who in right. No sure fire stud ready to go out there. Maxwell? Bernadina? Not quite our Longorias (ability-wise, not position).

Mound matters don't seem to be any better. They had to sign closers and set-up men and starters. There's NOBODY in the system?

Am I being unreasonable? Shouldn't the Nats have another home-grown stud to go with Zimmerman, besides the two just-drafted pitchers?

I guess we can blame this on JimBow, too. How long until it gets better?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

WOW - or not

Mark Zuckerman continues to work his ass off in Florida - first I saw with this news about Dukes.
Something big must be about to break. No way this is just a baseball decision.

So much for any work today. Must keep up with this story.

EDIT: As updates continue to roll in, I must say the "baseball decision" stuff just doesn't fly. Is Dukes out of options? No dump-off trade available? Call me a cynic or an a-hole or worse but with Dukes' history, it's hard to believe it was strictly baseball.

Anxious to learn more about this one.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You are welcome

Seems all it took was a little scolding by your friends here at Nationals Fanboy Looser and all is so right with the world. From 0-11 to 2-11 in about three hours.

The Nats need to keep me around as a motivational speaker. I'll work cheap.

What, us worry?

It may be too early for Matt Capps to worry, as the Nationals Journal noted last night.

It's not too early for me to worry. Of course, it's never too early for me to worry. It's kind of my nature. In this case, I think I have a case.

Oh-and-whatever (is it 11 now?) is no way to go through the early part of spring, son. We know it doesn't matter. We know these games don't count. We know it's only spring training and the goal is to be ready for the season.

Just humor us and win one of these games that don't mean anything.

A bad spring start is one thing. A winless spring start is another. Particularly for this team, which you may remember has lost 205 games the past two seasons. The team that has been the butt of so many jokes needs to stop giving reason for those jokes, even in the spring. If I had a dollar for every e-mail I've received that said, "The Natinals can't even win a fake game!!" I'd have enough money for four season tickets in the President's Club.

It isn't important to be 11-0 or even 9-2 or 7-4. Something like 2-9 or even 4-7 would do. You'd think they could win one of these games by accident.

More reason for worry is a number of these losses have been caused by bullpen implosions. We've seen way too much of that before. A text from last night: Capps is starting to worry me. Me, too. They're all starting to worry me.

Calm me down. Go out in one of these games and when it's over, have more runs than they do. I know you start the "real" season with an intact seven-game winning streak from last season and that hasn't changed. But, again, humor me. Win one of these babies.

A few other thoughts:

*I really hope I'm way wrong, honest. But I just don't see the coronation of Garrett Mock as one of the starters. Yes, he looked good after the first last night. Really good in fact. The first counts, too, though, and he looked like Garrett Mock there. They flashed his stats from last season: 3-10, 5.something ERA, opponents BA over .300 - somehow they left out his BAPIP, VAPIP and GORP.

Those numbers are about what Mock is in my mind and I think we'll see something similar over another season. Yes, I've written the back end starters are only plugs for a while. I still think the Nats can find better plugs. Maybe not and that's really scary.

*Stolen from Federal Baseball, this quote from a Peter Gammons Postcard from the Road: "The Nationals have been looking for another veteran starting pitcher, but privately, they're hoping that come midseason, their rotation will be John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Chien-Ming Wang. "'We're having trouble holding Wang back,' said GM Mike Rizzo."

I'm quite OK with that rotation, unless it's rushing Zimmermann. Do NOT take the slightest chance there. Put Detwiler in that spot if there's any question.

*The recent poll ended up shy of 100 votes again but overwhemling (72-13) in favor of making Ian Desmond the everyday shortstop even if it means eating Cristian Guzman's contract. Craig Heist "tweeted" at some point last night that he had sources who say the Nats plan to talk to Guzman about a move to second to platoon with Kennedy. We'll see how that goes over. I hope they remember it's their call, not his.

*I like the Dunn and Zimmerman commercials. I'm curious why they didn't show the Zimmerman home run from Opening Day of 2008. My guess is because it was on ESPN? That's a pretty big home run to the Red Porch and it never gets old. Still the high point at the stadium (until Strasburg throws a no-hitter in his first appearance).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I've Seen Enough, Part 2

Actually, I didn't see anything today. Or hear anything. Where were the electronics people on that one? It's not like he's a name or something.

Relying on tweets, the updating box score on and other various and sundry sources, I am able to conclude that Stephen Strasburg had another good start today.

The question: What will it take to get them off "the plan (Jee-sus version)" and have him open the season in Washington? Is there any way? If the team plans to carry the best 25, as we've heard the past couple of days, can he really not be on the Opening Day roster?

Just curious, that's all.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Roster

With first cuts being made (nice knowing you, Eddie), projected 25-man rosters are starting to show up around the 'Net even though the team still has twice as many players as it will eventually carry.

There isn't a lot of room for disagreement as most of the decisions seem really obvious.

The starting eight is pretty much set, the only question being does Ian Desmond force their hand at shortstop? My guess is yes but they won't do anything about that. Guzman starts. The rotation will shake out soon enough and I've noted before I don't really care who starts behind the top two (or three if Olsen is healthy). Same with the bullpen. Beyond the obvious there, does it really matter?

Makeup of the bench remains the key in my mind and I have a couple of questions.

Nieves, Harris and Morse seem obvious, though I suspect Morse isn't feeling safe yet. The two battles come down to one in the IF and one in the OF.

Bruntlett or Gonzalez in the IF? That one's obvious to me. I've seen enough of Gonzalez to be willing to keep Bruntlett around.

Maxwell or Bernadina in the OF? To me, that one is obvious as well - and this is where I need the most help. What possible reason would there be to keep Bernadina over Maxwell, who can run, has power, etc.? Because Maxwell has an option? Please. If someone claims Bernadina, is it the end of the world? I just don't see the two being close, so I'd like someone to explain. Clearly I am missing something.

More questions: Does Chris Duncan make the team, sending Maxwell and Bernadina out? If Desmond isn't the everyday shortstop, does he stay in a utility role? If so, as the extra OF or IF? Because, as we all know, he's said to be comfortable in the OF, too.

A trade, of course, changes everything. I still think something will happen before Opening Day. But until it does, we can only base our discussions on who is around now.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Going without the Flo

Oh, what a rollercoaster is this thing called life. Cliche, I know, but it's the best I have in my current state of mind.

Just about 24 hours to the moment of being excited beyond reasonable measure by the debut of Stephen Strasburg, I'm back in the dumps again thanks to the latest developments with Jesus Flores.

In case you missed it (it is in all the reports from Florida): Left camp, off to see Dr. Andrews, rehab there for 10-14 days. There's some positive spin quotes coming from the usual suspects and I don't believe a single one of them.

I'm now convinced beyond all doubt that Flores will not play a single game anywhere in 2010. Very sad for him. Very sad for us fans, too. I think most are like me, looking forward to seeing Jee-sus throw to Jesus many times.

Flores captured my fancy early. Something about him I like, a certain toughness he showed at and behind the plate. Again, falling back on my ignorance of the new math, I'm not sure the actual numbers support me. I fall back on my own metric - I enjoy watching him play.

During May, 2008, I devoted a blog post to a pair of plays that spoke of the savvy this kid has, one on either side. Most of you will remember them. On defense, he moved up the line just a tad to catch a ball then retreated into perfect position to block the plate and keep some Phillie from scoring. On offense, he went head first and controlled his body perfectly to get home safely around the tag of a well-positioned Brian Schneider.

I watched in Shea Stadium in 2007 as he threw out Reyes and Milledge one afternoon, thanking the cursing Mets fan next to me for letting him get away. I sat in the left field seats in Seattle in 2008 as his game-winning home run sailed straight at me, ultimately landing a couple rows short but over the fence.

The kid can play. I'm not sure I saw multiple All-Star berths in his future, as some did. That's OK. I saw a guy who could catch 125-130 games a year for a long time, hit for a decent average, deliver frequently in the clutch and handle himself behind the plate.

He's also, by all accounts, a quality young man and that's important to me, too.

So I'm sad on many levels that what was first reported to be a very short-term injury is turning into a very long-term injury. For Flores most important, I hope things somehow start working out and he can get back to playing. For me, as well as my fellow fans, I hope the same thing. Flores adds to the positive experience of being a fan. A lot.

I want to add this, too, and admit up front I may be way off base. I probably shouldn't type when I'm in this state of mind. But something about all the recent developments/stories just isn't passing the smell test with me, going back to the story Chico (the Writer) did a couple of weeks ago. I concede in this line of thinking that the problem may well be with Flores. Maybe he didn't make it clear enough how he felt or what was going on. Maybe he tried to do too much too soon. Or, maybe, just maybe, the fault lies on the other end. Someone charged with figuring this kind of thing out missed the call very badly.

One day, I hope we know the full story. I hope Mark, Adam, Ben, Bill and any other reporter down there pursues it hard and finds out what really went on.

But the bigger hope is that Flores somehow returns to 100 percent health, and soon.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Strasburg, after some actual thought

OK all you Sabermetrics fans. You win. I'm coming aboard. There's no getting around it anymore. You can't read a simple newspaper story without some weirdo stat in there so I might as well jump on the train full force. I've even created my own Sabermetric (is that what you call it?).

More on that later.

Let's face it, as long as Jee-sus didn't come out today and give up long home runs (he's not Tyler Walker) or throw underhand or something else rash, my initial response was going to be:


After a few hours to absorb it all and think and change my shorts after that last pitch, I can offer this:


And add this: OHMYGOSH!

Dude looked pretty good, huh? Not perfect but, hell, pretty darn close. Sure, after the pitching we've seen thus far this spring, a pregnant moose throwing sidearm would have looked good. But I think we can all concur that Jee-sus aced his first test.

Which leads us to my brand-new Sabermetric: The SWS Factor.

That's Seriously Wicked Shit Factor. Strasburg's is pretty high. You measure it by how far your jaw bounces off the ground after watching someone pitch, and then you factor in the ballpark divided by the wind chill and then multiplied by the crowd count to the third power. SWS Factor, I like it.

Another way to measure the SWS Factor without a lot of complicated math is to just watch the daggone game. My bud Mark Zuckerman replied to my previous post with Strasburg's reported pitch speeds. For those who didn't see: Fastball: 96-98, Breaking ball: 80-81, Change-up: 90-91, Two-seamer: 94-95.

OHMYGOSHOHMYGOSH. OHMYGOSHOHMYGOSH. I think the differentials will become even greater as the spring and season progress.

That'll be some SWS.

I remember during the Nats first season going to see a July contest against the Astros. The Nats were still in first place but you knew it was a matter of time.

Roy Oswalt, holder of a very high SWS Factor, toyed with the Nats. One pitch 97. The next in sloowwww motion at 67. And so on, all night. Speed changes. Movement. The works. We sat in the stands and shook our heads. No way you'll do too much against that kind of stuff.

Strasburg looks like he has that kind of stuff. It ain't the heater, it's the stuff that goes along with the heater.

My non-Nats-fan friends love to remind me that the University of Virginia beat Jee-sus in the NCAA Tournament and some small dude cranked one out on him. True. When you throw that hard, every now and then someone is going to close his eyes and squeeze 'em real tight and make contact and send it out. It happens. I'll go so far as to predict it happens in the majors to Strasburg and he'll actually lose a game here or there.

I also remind my alleged friends that Strasburg struck out 15 in seven innings and it was a winnable game with a little offense. I'll take my chances with one home run surrendered and 15 strikeouts every night.

Today excited me more than I thought it would. You can probably tell. A high SWS Factor can do that.

As for the rest of today, I can only offer a couple of things:

*Shouldn't Tyler Walker actually retire a batter or two before he's put on the final roster? The Nats could have kept Jesus Colome if they wanted to see that kind of offensive display out of the other team. Stolen straight from Zuckerman: His ERA is now 37.13 and he's allowed an unfathomable 47.25 hits per nine innings.
Back to me: That's a high SAS Factor (Seriously Awful Shit).

*Yeah, it's early. But I'd love to be a fly on the wall the day they tell Ian Desmond he's headed down. The way I see it as of today, there's lots of players going after one available bench spot. Also, no way this team doesn't keep 12 pitchers, right?

*Sadly, the "g" key on my computer is starting to stick. That will make it hard to type "Strasburg" so I should probably get that fixed.

I've seen enough

as I just "tweeted," let's just go ahead and name Stephen Strasburg the Opening Day starter right now.

Is there no way to set up a speed gun for spring training games? I guess it doesn't matter at this point. I'd just like to know.

His final pitch was quite an exclamation point.

It's early but it's a fine start. No water thrown on this fire of hope, that's for sure.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Right Call

The highly scientific Nationals Fanboy Looser poll has spoken - the Nats are making the right call in letting John Lannan start the regular-season opener.

Sixty voters say Lannan should get the ball against the Phillies and ol' what's his name. Another 28 thought Jason Marquis should have that honor. Yes, 60+28 does NOT equal 100. Seems like my flirtation with triple digits was a one-time thing, thoughh I remain hopeful my faithful readership will get me there again.

I agree on the Lannan call. It's not like the Nats brought in CC Sabathia or Roy Halladay here. Marquis was a solid offseason addition but let's not get carried away. It's fine to allow Lannan to absorb what will probably be an 8-2 defeat. Two runs? Well, Halladay isn't going nine right out of the gate.

The new poll is up, vote early and tell your friends. Speaking of early, yes, I realize it is too early in the spring to make such a decision. But that's what spring is about for us fans. We can come up with all the answers whenever we want.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sir Strasburg on CBS

Good thing I don't care about these first few preseason games, or this 50-runs-given-up-already thing would really be bothering me. Even without those 50 runs, I'm sure I would have tuned into the CBS news to see the feature on Sir Strasburg. Just because.

It left me underwhelmed.

Boswell and some fan but no Riggleman? No Rizzo? No other players talking about him and how he's handling things? Nothing from the future Hall of Fame catcher comparing him to other studs he's caught?

Nothing from him away from the field, the usual "he's just a normal guy" stuff you see in these types of features?

Here's my real concern about these 50 runs - the state of things is going to make us so desperate for hope that we'll all go running for the nearest bridge if this kid isn't perfect right away.

Anyway, I'm going back to my Saturday overdose of basketball. We're running out of time on the latest poll. Go vote.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Is it Tuesday yet?

Perhaps this makes me a bad fan. I'll live with it. All I'm thinking about is Tuesday.

The Nats got drubbed TWICE yesterday. I don't care. Lots of home runs surrendered, some by pitchers who actually factor into the bullpen equation. I don't care. Good thing, given the way the games turned out.

The Nats play the Braves today. Lineups are posted about a zillion different places. I don't care.

I suppose the Nats have games tomorrow, Sunday and Monday. Not sure who they play. I don't care.

All I want is for it to be Tuesday at 1 p.m., so I can plop down in this here chair and watch The Future pitch. I teach a class until noon. I have an appointment at 3. In between? I'll be like a little kid at Christmas, watching Sir Strasburg pitch two innings (or 40 innings) in a game that means nothing.

I suspect I'm not alone in this. With the track record the Nats have laid down in their five years, all the faithful wants to see is a good reason for hope. As I've written countless times, this kid is Reason No. 1.

Nothing else really matters at this point. C'mon Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Good luck indeed, Chief

Stealing the topic from my buddies at Nationals Enquirer, who had this post today on Chad Cordero. Was he fun to watch in 2005 or what?

I hope he comes back and saves 80 games.

I'm also going to throw in a question: Was this the same surgery Jesus Flores had? I know it is different for pitchers and catchers but catchers have to do a lot of hard, precision throwing.

Is missing all of 2010 a possibility for Flores?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Just Do It

Blogger with Benefits Mark Zuckerman posted just a few minutes ago about Adam Dunn and his willingness to do a long-term deal with the Nationals.

This is just a drive-by to tell anyone who cares that I'm all for that.

Now I'm 100 percent certain that those who understand all the modern statistics - sliderule stats, I call them - can come on here and show us all kinds of numbers that say this is dumber than dumb's dumbest idea ever.

I for one don't understand all those new fangled stats. My man Adam Kilgore talked about ERA+ in one of his recent posts and some of the comments tried to explain it and I took something away that it was regular ol' easy-to-figure ERA with ballpark factored in and then I had to go find some aspirin.

Dunn's VORP may be out of whack and his CROHM Factor may too high and his BAPIP may blow (wait, I think that's a pitcher's thing). His Orion Participle isn't very good and his OPBRH is not what it should be just past his 30th birthday. The Zone Marginal is way off and his Labrador Retriever is a little slow.

Here's what I do know: He hits home runs with a decent frequency and a lot of them go a long way. He even made my sweet and pure wife say, "Holy S***" with a couple of his blasts last season.

He looks like he's enjoying himself. It pained me to watch FLop because you could just read ASSHOLE in every aspect of his body language. You don't get that with Dunn.

I don't need a daggone degree from MIT to tell me what I enjoy watching (or even who is a pretty good player - despite my ignorance of the lingo, I have a small clue).

Players I enjoy watching are players I want to stick around. Players I don't enjoy watching, even if their GORP Pythagorium is off the charts, I don't want to stick around.

I enjoy watching Dunn play.