Monday, June 19, 2006

Eleven Down, Sixteen To Go

This week was like the Badwater Ultramarathon, the grueling race that takes runners (aka idiots) from the lowest point in the US to the highest in the lower-48 in 'just' 135 miles. The Nats went from the lowest of the lows to the highest of the highs in successive series in a meatgrinder of emotion. It's that intensity of emotion, shifting up and down, varying in intensity that makes being a fan so fun, and, well, addictive.

Still, despite the elation of the last two games, the week has to be a disappointment. With the woeful travelers, the Rockies, in town, the Nats were drooling, looking to take 3/4. Instead, four games later, thoughts of .500 ball went POOF.

Onward they march, though, getting three against the Red Sox, a much-needed off-day, and three against the Orioles in the stinking armpit of the east coast, Baltimore.

Nats Record: 2-5 *gulp*
Overall Record: 32-39 -- if we had taken 3/4 from the rockies, we'd be 35-36 now.
Runs Scored: 33 for the week (4.7/game), 325 overall (T10/16 teams). That's two straight weeks with 30+ runs, which pushes up two places in the leaderboard
Runs Allowed: 53 for the week!?!? (7.6/game), 350 overall (13/16 teams). The Nats dropped 5 places in the league with a terrible pitching week. Brutal stuff.
Expected Record: 33-38

What's Good?
1) Jose Guillen's Return! The guy might be batshit crazy, but he can hit -- when healthy. After two weeks off, and a winning streak that showed that Soriano is the team's true leader, Guillen came back, hit lower in the order, and produced. He's not going to get the 5-year, $50 million offer he wanted, but if he puts up solid numbers and is a model citizen, him coming back wouldn't be the worst thing in the world (assuming Bowden can't find a dance partner before August). (.273/ .385/ .545, 1 HR, 4 RBI)

2) Giant Jon Rauch! Just when it looked like his arm was about to fall off, he whips off a week more like the ones he had at the beginning of the year. He's been one of the unsung heroes of the pen all year, and his clutch strikeout of Alex Rodriguez on Friday night brought a smile to many a fan's (especially Boston ones!) eyes. (4 G, 5.2 IP, 1 R, 3 K)

3) Nick Johnson! The old guy finally missed a game (tweaked back), but when he was in the lineup, he beat the snot out of the ball (or watched the snot out of it, technically), having 6 walks to go with his 7 hits. Amazingly, 5 of those 7 were doubles. He was locked in, spraying the ball into the gap and down the line. Impressive to watch. But given Daryle Ward's monster performance as his replacement, maybe there was just some magic in that ol' first base bag? (.438/ .609/ .750, 5 2B)

What's Bad?

1) Starting Pitching. Brutal week for the starters. Shawn Hill's 4.50 ERA was the best on the team. Tony Armas' 21.00, the worst. They couldn't get anyone out, burying the Nats from the start, and straining the bullpen further.

2) The defense. This is becoming a HUGE problem, and I think it's the primary reason why the starting pitching broke down. Vidro's range, which had improved markedly early in the season, is gone. He can't get to anything more than a step away. Royce Clayton is below average, too. Watch how many balls get hit up the middle or through the holes at second or short.

Telling was Bob Carpenter drooling all over a routine play that Robinson Cano made on a slow Shawn Hill grounder towards the hole between second and first. It was a nice play, but a routine one, and Carpenter called that one as if Bobby Richardson were fielding McCovey's liner. But when your frame of reference is 70 games of Vidro, it did look like a spectacular play. It wasn't though.

The outfield defense has been poor, too. Damian Jackson can't cut it in center. Robert Fick 'patrolled' a game or two in left. And while Soriano has shown excellent range to his left and right to cut off would-be extra-base hits, he plays so deep that he's letting a number of outs drop in front of him for hits.

Add it up, and the pitchers look worse than they really are. And sometimes they'll have weeks like this where the dribs and drabs all come together and they get the bejesus smacked out of them.

3) Everyone not named Nick, Guillen or Ryan. The offense stunk this week. I don't know how they did as well as they did, other than pure luck. Soriano batted .172 and 'slugged' .310; Jose Vidro batted and slugged .160; Royce Clayton batted .200; Brian Schneider batted .150, slugging .250. Nobody did nuttin'. But still, thanks to Nick, Guillen and Ryan (with an assist to Ward), they won.

Game O' The Week
Take your pick. Which do you like? Seven-run comebacks? Or walk-off homers? I don't know which one I'd take. Probably the comeback.

MVP Award
Ryan Zimmerman, was there any doubt? Sure, we'll remember his huge homer, but did you realize that he had 13 hits this week!?!? or that 7 of them were for extra bases? (6 doubles, 1 wonderful homer). He was on this week. It's a shame that no one else was. (.433/ .433/ .733, 6 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI)

Cy Young Award
I'm tempted to leave this blank, as only Jon Rauch had an ERA below 4.50. But he did pitch well, even if he didn't pitch that much.

LVP Award
Jose Vidro just killed the team this week, not hitting for average, power, or walking, and playing some brutal second base to boot. Trade him, Jim! Trade him! (.160/ .192/ .160, 4 H, 0 XBH, 1 GDP)

Joe Horgan Joey Eischen Award
Lots of choices this week, but in the end, I can't overlook the 11-spot that Ramon Ortiz threw up. Sure, his 8.18 ERA is lower than Gary Majewski's 10.38, Bill Bray's 13.50, and Tony Armas' 21.00, but to be that bad over 11 innings of pitching takes a special kind of talent.

5 Comments:

  • Dude. I love the Wookie as much as you do, and he had a great week, but the Cy Young HAS to go to Mike O'Connor for his performance in yesterday's pitcher's duel.

    7.0 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 3 BB and 5 K, holding the Yankees to a .200 batting average. The rookie did this against perhaps the best hitting team in baseball.

    Give the man his due.

    And why do you hate Eischen so much? His poor performance this year is due to the injury that has likely ended his career.

    By Blogger Brandon Kriner, at 6/19/2006 10:37 AM  

  • Yeah, O'Connor pitched well yesterday, but that doesn't give him a free pass for his previous outing: 5 innings, 6 runs. He won us one game, lost us another.

    My Eischen hate started last year. He's just an overrated player because he talks a lot and gives some stupid rabble-rousing quotes. I never felt comfortable with him on the mound, and Frank's insistence on using him in critical situations this year was... tiring's the best thing I can say about it.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/19/2006 10:41 AM  

  • Everyone raise your hand if you thought that Atlanta would be in last place at this point in the season.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/19/2006 11:14 AM  

  • I think you have to give some credit to the Braves for sucking much worse than the Nats this week, thus allowing us to claim third place. Or maybe to the Marlins. WTF is with sucky teams sweeping better clubs? The Marlins and Rockies have both now done it to the Nats, and the Marlins have also done it to the Braves.

    By Anonymous Rich from Richmond, at 6/19/2006 2:51 PM  

  • You are the first person to mention what seemed quite obvious during the Colorado series. The Rockies sent ball after ball rolling through the middle of the infield, as Vidro and Clayton flailed haplessly nearby, their feet seemingly encased in cement.

    By Anonymous stuart, at 6/20/2006 7:15 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home