Sunday, April 09, 2006

One Down, Twenty-Six To Go

Week one is in the books with a disappointing 2-4 start. Still, there's much to be thrilled with, and some to be disappointed with. Thanks to the schedule maker, it's going to be tough to get a true read on this team. Starting with the NL East favorites, and the defending NL Champions is a tough test, and the Nats showed that on a good night, they can compete, and that they're not going to go quietly.

What's Good?
1: Jose Vidro! He seems like he's healthy. And even if he's not going to range far to his right to hoover up a groundball, he's shown that he can control the ones he gets to, and use his strong arm to turn two. Vidro smacked two homers this week, good for 7 RBI. He batted .370/ .414/ .630 in those six games

2: Alfonso Soriano. He plays too deep in left, but hasn't looked horrible out there, even if you could probably pin at least two runs on him. His bat, however, has made up for it, hitting .364 with two big homers that even would've left RFK.

3: Jon Rauch. The big guy has been the bullpen's savior. With craptastic starting pitching, he's been called on early and often, pitching in four of the team's six games. He's done it while allowing just one run, a homer in a game the Nats were in control of. If he keeps it up, he might end up in the rotation, although his strong pitching might shoehorn him into the Carrasco middle-relief role.


What's Bad?
1: Brandon Watson. Not only has he demonstrated no control of the strikezone (1 walk in 20 PAs), the few times he's gotten on, he's been caught stealing or picked off. Three baserunning outs in four times on base isn't going to cut it.

2: Ryan Zimmerman. He's looked decent defensively, and he definitely had the play of the week with his game-tying homer off Billy Wagner, but his strike-zone judgement went to hell after that, King in 6 straight ABs. He finished the week with a .222 batting average, and nine strikeouts (even if his five walks were a positive development.)

3: Ramon Ortiz. He couldn't get out of his own way the other night, coughing up six runs in just five innings to the Mets. His stuff didn't look that good, and he had a hard time fooling any batters. He's going to need to get better, if the Nats are to have ANY chance.

Game O' The Week
Wednesday's 9-5 win over the Mets had a bunch of storylines: Ryan Zimmerman's first major-leage homer off Billy Wagner in the ninth; Alfonso Soriano being yanked from the game for not hustling; Jose Guillen hitting a HUGE homer in extra innings; and the Nats winning despite being no-hit for the first 5 innings.

My favorite stat from that game is the one Federal Baseball uncovered: the Nats scored more runs in the 10th inning than they had in a stretch of 16 straight games in 2005.

MVP
Jose Vidro was the Nationals week one MVP. His two homers and seven RBI led the team.

CY Young
Although he didn't get a win, Jon Rauch pitched effectively in some pretty critical spots, and ate up some innings, saving Gary Majewski's arm for another few days at least.

LVP
Brian Schneider is our week one LVP. The lack of offense was distressing. He had just two hits in 18 ABs, and just looked completely clueless, slapping weak ball after weak ball into the ground. Especially distressing, though, was his defense. The Mets had a base-stealing party off the normally cannon-armed catcher. I'm sure that that won't hold up the entire season.

Joe Horgan Award
Bronx Cheers go out to John Patterson for his stinktastic outing against the Mets. When the Nats needed innings, he stunk the park up for only four, and ended the week with a 9.00 ERA. He complained of forearm stiffness, but says that he's not missing a start. If they're going to be like his last one, he should feel free to miss more.