Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Rock Bottom?

The stink at the ballpark wasn't coming from the Anacostia for once. It was coming from the bats. It was coming from the gloves. It was coming from the cleats. And it was coming from the dugout.

If there was something the Washington Nationals could screw up, they did it. And then they screwed it up a second time.

The result? Another one-run loss, this one to the worst road team in baseball. It can't get much worse than this.

Consider:

  • Typically ineffective starter Tony Armas only pitched two innings, leaving the game with dizziness and dehydration. The nasty part of me assumes that's codeword for hung over, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

  • Brad Wilkerson went 0-5, leaving five runners on base. He was also unable to scoop out a wild throw at first -- a tough, but makeable play.

  • Vinny Castilla had a rough night. He went just 0-4, but he committed two errors. One was a diving stop to his left. He knocked the ball down, scrambled for it, picked it up and fired wildly past first (the play Wilkerson should've made).

    The second was the critical play in the 9th inning. He simply let a ball get through him. I don't know if it was a tough hop, or if he just missed it, but it slid right through like Taco Ball would.

    I'm not going to get all over Vinny for that one. He IS playing on a knee that resembles hamburger, but I will get over Frank for continuing to run him out there when he's that badly hurt, so much so that he can't make a routine play.

  • Jose Vidro was alright, but you could see him get frustrated in the 9th inning. He was desparately trying to get on base, and thought he had a walk on a 3-1 pitch. The ump missed the call, as the ball was slightly low and outside. On the 3-2 pitch, Fuentes went to the same area, but much closer for a borderline strike. Vidro started walking towards first, thinking it was a ball. When he was called out by the ump, he threw a tantrum and his helmet, earning an immediate ejection. Somewhere, Paul O'Neill wiped a tear from his eye.

  • Vidro's ejection led Frank to one of the single stupidist decisions he's made all year. When I compile all the WTF Frank Senior Moments, this is a definite top-3.

    Down by just 1 in the 9th inning, the Nationals had two runners on. Ryan Church, who's already had at least three game-winning hits this season, was due to bat against Fuentes, who's a lefty. In the GameDay chat, we were speculating whether Frank would let Church bat or hit for him with Byrd.

    The answer, as it usually is with Frank, is neither.

    Up to the plate stepped Captain Chaste himself, Jamey Carroll. Now Jamey Carroll's a fine human being and a pretty good backup middle infielder. But as we discussed yesterday, he's not all that far removed from Guzmanian territory.

    And, true to Nationals form, the first pitch went 6. Then it went to 4. Then it went to 3. And we all screamed obscenities.

    WHY, FRANK, WHY??? [feel free to insert obscenity where you feel appropriate]

    Carroll had to come into the game at some point, because of Vidro's ejection, but there's no reason he had to hit for Church. Robinson has picked fights with plenty of his players and if he thinks you're not tough enough, he'll turn on you. It seems like Church is in that category, and maybe we're to the point where we need to consider what we could get for Church in a trade.

    Personally, from what I've seen, and from things I've heard behind the scenes, I'd prefer them to promote Frank to the front office and get a manager who trusts his players, knows in-game strategy, and doesn't run down anyone he dislikes.

  • But if that wasn't enough to get your blood boiling, consider the Lame Duck winner: Cristian Guzman. It's his second award in as many nights.

    There were three, maybe four, separate plays that, on an ordinary night, would've earned him the award.

    The party line on him is that he catches everything hit to him and that his glove is valuable, blah blah blah.

    Consider the ground ball that could've been an inning-ending DP, but instead went through him.

    Or consider his 'play' on the Castilla error in the 9th inning. With a runner on second, Guzman tried making a play on the ball so that he could throw out the runner. What he should've done was knock the ball down and keep it on the infield. If he does that, there are runners on the corners and two outs. Instead, the run came in to score.

    The party line is that he's a .260 career hitter and that he can do the small things with the bat.

    Consider his first bunt attempt of the evening. As the ball came in, low in the zone, Guzman swung the bat down, low in the zone in a small arc. When he connected with the ball, he was on the upswing. The result was a perfect chip shot, one that'd make Tiger envious. Unfortunately, all Byung-Hyun Kim had to do was watch it fall, pick it up, fire to second, and wait for the return throw to first. Guzman was out easily, in part, because he decided he'd watch his masterwork. (Guillenitis, I guess)

    Or consider his second bunt attempt. With one strike already on him, he 'bunted' at a pitch that would've been a wonderful shot in bocce. With two strikes he bunted/waved at a pitch over his head and off the plate AWAY! He got the end of the bat on it, tipping it back behind the plate for the dreaded K/bunt. (How many of those freakin' things has this team had?)

    Guzman needs to go. The fans were booing him pretty loudly.

    I'm not a big fan of booing a player, but I'm happy the fans are finally booing him.

    The way I view it is that it isn't so much for Guzman, but for Frank Robinson for writing his freakin' name in the lineup card every game, and for Jim Bowden, who refuses to do anything other than blow in Barry Larkin's ear.

    Today's Post indicates they're going after Wife Beatin' Julio Lugo of the Devil Rays. He'd be a good option, but it's unrealistic. The Devil Rays are a hard team to pull off trades with. They're like the one team in your roto league who thinks that every one of their players is an MVP, and refuses to trade unless you ship them Barry Bonds AND Johann Santana.

    For the sake of the team, and their craptastic play, they better hope that Bodes has other plans.

  • The lead in the division is down to .5 games. Today could be the last time we see first place all season.

    But they still have two games with the Rockies.

    And as I always say, you're never as bad as you look when you're losing.

    After last night's stinkfest, that damn well better be true.

  • 15 Comments:

    • So you think Guzman could have knocked down the ball Castilla ole'd in the ninth, then? I was wondering about that, but I didn't hear anyone else mention it.

      If Guzman can even come close to touching that ball, his priority is to dive or slide in order to keep it in front of him or to his side. Not behind him and rolling to LF.

      Not his fault, but he didn't pick his teammate up, either.

      By Blogger Basil, at 7/19/2005 9:31 AM  

    • That was definitely the least egregious of his sins, but I felt like piling on.

      It's not a play every SS makes, in fact, most probably don't. He was screened by Vinny, and probably couldn't anticipate Vinny not picking that ball up. It would've had to be complete reaction by him to do it and would've been a great play.

      It's proabbly a little unfair of me to include it, but if the party line is that he's in the lineup for his amazing defense, he needs to make that play.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 7/19/2005 9:33 AM  

    • I should've mentioned this above, but two other plays that deserve mention:

      Brian Schneider (who had an amazing 4-4 game) was picked off 3B with the bases loaded.

      And Preston Wilson brutally misplayed a high fly ball to deepish centerfield for a 'triple' that led to one of the runs.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 7/19/2005 9:39 AM  

    • The Schneider play was a freak ... a wild pitch caromed back to the catcher who then picked Schneider off.

      If you're coming after Schneider you'll have to come through me :)

      By Anonymous DMCj, at 7/19/2005 9:45 AM  

    • blah blah blah blah blah! :P

      It's a freak play, definitely, but he got caught up, and did the wrong thing. He didn't read the wild pitch correctly, and you can't assume the HBP there either.

      In another game, I probably wouldn't have even mentioned it. But, it's just another boil on the ass of last night's game.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 7/19/2005 9:47 AM  

    • It's proabbly a little unfair of me to include it, but if the party line is that he's in the lineup for his amazing defense, he needs to make that play.

      Well, that's exactly right. The guy is hitting .190. He's got to be in for his defense and for his ability to make heads-up plays.

      And he did neither last night, though he continued to hit like a post-1986 Hall & Oates.

      By Blogger Basil, at 7/19/2005 10:02 AM  

    • "if the party line is that he's in the lineup for his amazing defense"
      he needs to account for something around 21 of the 27 outs. Maybe 20.

      By Blogger El Gran Color Naranja, at 7/19/2005 10:30 AM  

    • Well, if you add in the offensive outs he makes (and errors!), then he's probably pretty close to that! ;)

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 7/19/2005 10:36 AM  

    • i'm also glad you mentioned guzman's part in the 9th inning ground ball. i haven't seen the replay yet, but my immediate reaction was that guzman just had a brain fart and didn't back up castilla on the play. in hindsight, i was pissed at guzman for other reasons and was happy to lay the blame on his lap. but the face he made after the play was clearly a "whoops, maybe i should've been there."

      not important, but the first bunt attempt (the double play ball) went to first base and then to second base for the tag out. i don't remember guzman loafing on that one, but it wouldn't surprise me.

      also: did anyone notice the way preston wilson hobbles around the field?? his limp is worse than vinny's! that fly ball drop was devastating.

      there were plenty of lame duck votes to go around, as you mention.

      By Blogger Natty Bumpo, at 7/19/2005 11:43 AM  

    • You're right on the DP.

      Guzman didn't really loaf. He just sort of stood there in stunned amazement for a second or two, instead of busting it right off the crack of the bat.

      On the Preston Wilson misplay, I said this in the gamethread... He wobbled back and forth, taking a really crooked line to the ball. He didn't have time to camp under the ball and was running pretty quickly to catch up to it. A better CF would've had a better line and would've been waiting for the ball, instead of making a running catch.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 7/19/2005 11:46 AM  

    • it also looked like he had an incredibly late jump on the ball. just a very bad misread compounded by a clumsy attempt at a catch.

      seriously, though...his knees are BAD.

      By Blogger Natty Bumpo, at 7/19/2005 12:09 PM  

    • And that was the big concern about having him in center, especially because Church is a superior fielder.

      In the short time he's been there, he's misplayed a few balls. And two runs have scored directly as a result.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 7/19/2005 12:10 PM  

    • meanwhile, bowden's probably smiling to himself because of wilson's great day at the plate.
      (2-2, 3 walks...AMAZING that he was on base 5 times and didn't score a single run).

      frustrating. with the move to PH with carroll, can't help but feel church is being jobbed.

      By Blogger Natty Bumpo, at 7/19/2005 12:16 PM  

    • Preston was on 5 times. Schneider was on 4 times.

      Neither scored a run.

      That's pathetic!

      NatsBlog has a post on trading Church -- to give him a chance -- which I'm starting to agree with.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 7/19/2005 12:17 PM  

    • By Blogger www.clothingol.com, at 11/02/2009 9:13 PM  

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