Thursday, May 04, 2006

Caveat Emptor

It's a good thing the ownership press conference was going on simultaneously with last night's 6-5 loss. Had the Lerners watched the brutally slow, demoralizing game, they'd likely have told Herr Selig, "Thanks, but no thanks!"

Were I any sort of good blogger, I'd run some sort of chart to validate what I'm about to state, but I, like Frank, blog from my gut. I don't need any of these fancy computers to tell me what the big blob of jelly that hangs above my pants (I said above) knows.

It just seems that when teams rally from a big deficit, if they don't come all the way back and take the lead, then they end up losing. The Nats fell down early, but chipped, chipped, chipped away, until a ball that Dan Uggla (It's too bad I'm above making fun of names) bumped a hit off the wall. By the time Chad Cordero allowed a blooper to center, the Nats could hang their head in shame (assuming they had any left), knowing that they had crapped another game away.

Tony Armas got the start last night, but didn't come close to the finish, having been yanked in the middle of the third after a wild pitch and a home run yielded the third, fourth, and fifth Marlins runs. His velocity seemed down, getting into the high 80s, instead of the lower 90s -- which was probably the cause of his early season success. I'm not going to read too much into one start, but he's increasinly looked less sharp over his last few starts. I just hope this was an isolated bad outing.

But the story of the game was squandered opportunity. The offense could have and should have put away the Marlins any number of times, as they trotted mediocre ball-throwing pitcher after mediocre ball-throwing pitcher out there.

Through seven innings, the Nats had ten hits, and nine walks, leaving 13!? men on base. (That they ended the game with those totals, thanks to finally stumbling into the two Marlins who could lob the ball over the plate was even more distressing).

Nick Johnson wins a Lame Duck for leaving an astounding 6 runners on base. The Nats went entire homestands last year without having six baserunners! I don't know what's wrong with him, but he just cannot handle the inside pitch. I'm not sure whether he's not seeing it, or if he's just unable to get his hands inside the ball, but when he does make contact (which is rare, because he's usually taking the pitch), he's getting jammed. In the third inning, for example, he got a pitch that he hit off the handle, shattering his bat, and weakly lining out to first. Frank's stubborn, but I'd imagine that we might see Marlon Anderson get a crack at first one of these nights, just to give him a rest.

  • The other chief culprit of the loss was Royce Clayton. Much has been made of his 'improvement' over Cristian Guzman, but that's like preferring lethal injection to the noose because of less pain. It's kind of missing the point; you're dead either way.

    For the season, Clayton is batting: .229/ .283/ .281. That's unacceptable.

    For comparison, Guzman batted: .219/ .260/ .314.

    So Clayton's getting on base a little more, but slugging a bit less. (And this is at a time when offense seems to be higher in the league.) Royce Clayton, much as I said he wouldn't be (hell, anyone who took a cursory look at the stats would've thought that), is NOT an acceptable Major League shortstop.

    "But the fielding," you say! Cristian Guzman scattered his throws, but the amazing thing is that his fielding percentage was virtually the same as league average. (.973 to .976) Guzman didn't have a ton of range, and was probably slightly below average, but Clayton isn't wowing anyone either.

    (If you want to see a great defensive SS play, check out the Marlins SS robbing Soriano of a hit. There's no way Soriano was running full speed.)

    The team's not going to compete this season, so what's the harm in seeing if Brendan Harris can do anything. Royce Clayton's likely to not be around next year, and he's had five weeks to show that his last three year's of crappy stats weren't lying. Instead, we're stuck watching him flail away while Frank's unable to PH for him because Damian Jackson's the only other person who can play shortstop. (And by play, I mean wear a glove and chase after grounders after they stop rolling in right field).

    I miss Cristian Guzman already. And yeah, I never imagined I'd say that.
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