Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Fouled-Off Bunts: Game On! Edition

The Nats play their first exhibition game today, this one against Korea's Kia Tigers. Nope, Soriano isn't in the lineup. They're bound and determined to push it off for as long as possible. The great thing about playing the Kia team is that even if they start strong, they're probably going to fall apart by the 7th inning. [rimshot].

  • Tony Williams says he can come up with the cash for cost overruns. Because our Wall Street overlords demand that DC takes out more money than they need, the mayor has proposed that that extra $20 MM or so be used for overruns. Apparently, he forgot the promises he made prior to the council's vote that that money could be used for schools, library's, etc.

    Predictably, and completely understandably, some on the Council aren't pleased with this idea, saying that it violates the cap on the legislation. Even though it's money they're borrowing undeer the guise of the stadium, it's not money that was intended to actually be spent on the stadium.

    More importantly, what does this mean for MLB and it's deadline to accept or reject the Council's lease? MLB has been silent, presumably working behind the scenes. Did they ask Williams for this? If so, it's silly for Williams to accede. MLB simply has too much to give up at this point for them to reject the lease. Letting them off the overrun hook is another case of the city giving away the farm when they have all the leverage. That doesn't make sense to me, but it does make me think that MLB is at least telling DC that they were going to reject the lease -- even if they might not actually do it when push comes to shove. MLB be dishonest? I suppose it's possible. ;)

  • The Times gives us today's Tony Armas profile.
    "Tim came back when he released that capsule and said, 'Jim this is one of those surgeries that I've done, medically speaking, that this is a guy to bet on,'?" Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said. "?'If this guy went 7-7 last year, I can see him going 15-10 this year. This surgery should really loosen him up, really help him, really allow him to finish his delivery that he wasn't able to do last year.' So that obviously influenced our decision."

    If that's the case, it's a great sign. Armas was missing something on his pitches last year. Watching one of his games, especially in person, was brutal. Not only did he work slowly, but his pitches weren't good enough to fool batters, resulting in LOTS of foul balls. He just needed a little more bite to them. If the surgery allows him to throw more freely, perhaps that could be enough. And seeing how glowing Randy St. Claire was last week, maybe it's true?

    Wishful thinking in spring training? Nah!

  • Jose Guillen's still working at half speed, saying that he won't be ready to go all out til mid-March, at least. Guillen even raises the possibility of having to start on the DL. If he does, does Michael Tucker survive the axe -- a possibility that Dave Sheinin hinted was very good in yesterday's chat?

  • Davey Lopes is going to turn the Nats into a speed team. Um, sure. While he should definitely improve the baserunning (and just having Soriano on the team is sure to do that), keep in mind that about 1/3 of the Nats caught stealings were the result of busted-up hit-and-runs.

  • The Post has more info on today's lineup, noting that Matt Lecroy is getting the first of what should be many long looks at catcher. One minor nitpick though. Minnesota had essentially given up on him as even a third catcher. He only caught one inning last season.

    Just A Nats Fan has the gruesome details on our husky 'catcher's' eating habits. On a musty couch in a basement somewhere, Joe Rogan smiles.


    • A-R-R-G-H-H!!! WHY, WHY, WHY did Mayor Baseball have to open his mouth, and give the Council 5 whole days to get upset???

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/01/2006 8:40 AM  

    • I know it hurts but let's admit it. Joe Rogan is not on a musty couch in a basement somewhere, he's sitting on a pile of money being served beer by hot women. I'm not saying the wrong NewsRadio star died early...ok I am.

      By Blogger El Gran Color Naranja, at 3/01/2006 10:14 AM  

    • Oops -- posted this below, but should have put here attached to your most recent post.

      OK -- you've convinced me to give up on the Red Sox as a trading partner for Soriano. I thought about the White Sox, but they're solid at 2B. So, here's my new plan -- Soriano to the Angels for Ervin Santana or Kelvim Escobar and a high but not top 10 propspect. Angles run Adam Kennedy at out second base, so this should help them this year. Angels farm is loaded so they can afford the deal.

      I think the big problem here is that the Angels have a stud 2B coming up soon. But Soriano is on a one-year deal, so they're not necessarily blocking him.

      And Moreno doesn't mind spending large and has been losing ground in the PR war with that other Los Angeles team after Blue LA's crazy offseason.

      Fire away.

      By Blogger Sam, at 3/01/2006 11:50 AM  

    • Oh -- and I should also make clear that, the prospect we get would depend a lot on which pitcher we got. If we got Santana, we obv. would get a lower ranked prospect than if we took Escobar.

      By Blogger Sam, at 3/01/2006 11:53 AM  

    • The issue with trading with the Angels is that they have a guy, Howie Kendrick who could be ready this season. They'd not be likely to give up young pitching for just one season of Soriano.

      The two teams that need a 2B and would be most likely trade partners are the Cubs and Mets. The Cubs have prospects/arms to offer. The Mets don't.

      By Blogger Brian, at 3/01/2006 12:09 PM  

    • Didn't realize kendrick was so close.

      I was tyring to find an AL team because that's what Mr. Soriano has said he prefers and I don't want him to feel uncomfortable.

      Maybe we could trade him to Texas for Brad Wilkerson, Termel Sledge, and Armando Galarraga?

      By Blogger Sam, at 3/01/2006 12:40 PM  

    • The simple fact that the Nats are focusing more on base stealing and station-to-station baseball is promising by itself. D.C. Stadium is cavernous compared to the hitter-friendly parks being built around the majors in recent years, so why not take advantage of it? Ozzie Guillen did and all the White Sox did last season was win the World Series.

      But, by your logic since the Nats messed up so many hit-and-run plays last season, then they should just not even bother this season. I am SOOOO glad that you are not on the coaching staff with that attitude.

      By Anonymous Frank Haynes, at 3/01/2006 2:22 PM  

    • Don't put words into my mouth. Where did I say that they shouldn't steal?

      I really don't like the hit and run at all. I laid out my reasons here: It's a good post, relying mostly on Earl Weaver's words. (And I'm sure you'd be glad to have HIM on staff)

      My biggest problem with it was WHEN Frank called for it. He never should have called for it when Wilkerson was on first and Spivey at the plate. Yet he did several times.

      As far as the White Sox and smallball, a lot of it was just talk. Take a look at where they were in the rankings for homers.

      Stolen bases have their place in the game, but counting on someone like Nick Johnson or Jose Guillen to be baserunners is just bad managing.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/01/2006 2:31 PM  

    • Frank -- what do you mean when you say the Nationals are going to focus more on basestealing and station-to-station baseball? I had thought playing station-to-station meant not stealing bases or taking baserunning risks, but just moving conservatively around the bases and avoiding giving away outs.

      By Blogger Sam, at 3/01/2006 3:40 PM  

    • By station-to-station I meant what today is called "small ball", as in not waiting for home runs. "Manufacturing" runs. Is there a better term? Lemme have it.

      The current makeup of the team in Spring Training looks like a speedier, get-on-base kind of group (except for LeCroy) and the things that I am hearing indicate that there will be more of an emphasis on this style of play out of necessity.

      It's only day 2 of Spring Training "so we'll just have to see how this one plays out".

      By Anonymous Frank Haynes, at 3/02/2006 11:26 AM  

    • How is it a speedier team though? Soriano's the only player with wheels who's different than last year? The Nats simply don't have the personnel to steal bases (perhaps if Watson wins the job that could change -- but he's still a lesser offensive player than Church/Byrd).

      There's always a lot of talk about this sort of thing in spring training. Lots of people (especially those who play rotoball) love it, but it rarely ends up changing.

      Sure, the Nats are going to steal more bases, but I'd bet that none of the current Nats are going to do anything different than what they've done in the past. Rickey Henderson they ain't.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/02/2006 11:30 AM  

    • Make sure these comments' archive is kept publicly accessible. I'll remind you of this discussion come June or July and then we can compare notes.

      By Anonymous Frank Haynes, at 3/02/2006 6:55 PM  

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