Monday, May 22, 2006

Seven Down, Twenty To Go

All things considered, the week went pretty well. The Cubs pitched like Cy Young Winners, the Orioles like John Halama. The rivalry with the Orioles isn't quite there yet -- even if booing the Bird feels good -- but it's nice to have something to cheer for once.

The Nats have seven games in seven days against two tougher opponents. Four against the Astros, three against the Dodgers. We're about due for a hot stretch, aren't we?

Nats Record: 3-3
Overall: 16-28. We can still win 90 if we just go 74-44 (.627 ball)!!!111
Runs Scored: 17 this week, 187 overall. (14th/16)
Runs Allowed: 21 this week, 214 overall. (10th/16)
Expected Record: 19-25. We picked up a game! At this pace... Nah, forget it.

What's Good?
1: Winning A Series! The reason the Nats are where they are is because they never win series. By taking 2/3 from the hated Orioles, the Nats win just their fourth series of the year, and their first since the Pirates came to town at the beginning of the month. The others: Florida, 4/14-16; Philly 4/18-20

2: Well Executed Small Ball! I know that it often hurts your team more than it helps, but when hit-and-runs, steals, sac bunts, and squeeze plays work, it sure is fun to watch. Frank's repeatedly hit the wrong lever this year, but something clicked this past week, and it was fun to watch. (6 SB, 4 bunts, 2 SF

3: The Bullpen! Much-maligned, Frank's starting to find his way with the pen. Majewski, Rauch and Stanton are the setup guys, and Franks' realized that FRodo and Eischen are to be used only in case of emergency. It's not perfect, but it's enough to hold the few leads we have.

What's Bad?
1: The Offense! Were it not for a homer barrage in the final game against the Cubs, the Nats would've scored one run in four games. As it was, they didn't even average three a game, yet they won as many as they lost. NJ, Wiki, Byrd, Clayton and Church were terrible, combining for just 10 hits and 1 double.

2: Plate patience! When Alonso Soriano leads your team in walks, something's gone wrong. Only Nick Johnson (4/2) and Royce Clayton (2/1) had positive K/BB ratios this week.

3: Roster Management! Regardless of the merits of Church (And considering his non-performance, defending the decision is pretty difficult), this team is screwed up. We're carrying three catchers, but only one plays. Fick and Ward are being used as pinch-hitters, exclusively, and they're both left-handed. Damian Jackson is the only player capable of playing shortstop, and he's proved that he's neither physically or mentally able with all his errors and misplays. There is not a backup third baseman. And Jose Guillen is wasting a roster spot because they refuse to DL him -- or he refuses to be put on the DL, pendejo.

Does anyone have a plan?

Game O' The Week
Thursday's 5-3 win over the Cubs was pretty exciting. The Nats used the longball (four of them) to get all their runs, while Ramon Ortiz scratched and clawed his way through 5.1 innings. He turned it over to the bullpen where Rauch and Stanton quelled a rally. Majewski gutted through two innings of relief, where, impressively, he struck out the nearly unstrikeoutable Juan Pierre on the 14th pitch of their battle. Cordero came in and made it interesting, like he's obligated to do in his contract, and the Nats went home with a win.

MVP Award
Alfonso Soriano cranked three homers, drew four walks, and stole four bases, including two in the first inning yesterday. In a week where no one did much of anything, he was the star.

CY Young Award
Livan Hernandez!? Who'da thunk it? He went 14 innings this week while giving up just three earned runs for a tidy 1.93 ERA. I hesitate to say that he's back, but the hanging sliders are gone, at least!

LVP Award
There's lots of competition this week, including Ryan Church's dreadful .000/.000/.000 line, but it goes to Nick Johnson, who's been in a terrible slump. He hit just .118 this week and had just one meager double. He's shown an annoying tendency to jump on the first pitch in pressure situations --remember the St. Louis game a few weeks back or yesterday's bases-loaded situation? That's fine if you're going to drive it, but in both cases, he tapped out weakly to first. At least hit a liner at someone.

Joe Horgan Award
Felix "El Toasto" Rodriguez wins this one for his brutal pitching and the scary 11.57 ERA this week. He throws damn hard, but he has NO control over where his pitches go, just hurling them up there like that elephant who paints.