Thursday, June 22, 2006

Fouled-Off Bunts: Boston Stranglee Edition

Thanks to Federal Baseball for summing up the Unhappy Recap:
     R   H   E
WAS 9 22 2
BOS 26 46 0
No, that's not a misprint.

The final game followed the same script as the others: bad starting pitching, shaky defense, impotent offense, confused managing. Sum it up, and it's a 9-3 loss, which really wasn't even that close.

Renowned hoser Shawn Hill started, and skirted in and out of danger in the first, but yacked up (with some defensive help) a two-out rally culminating in a Big Papi Slam that essentially buried the Nats. He pitched into the sixth, but gave up 8 freakin' runs, two of which scored because Mike Stanton again proved that he's incapable of being a major-league quality relief pitcher. Still, Hill needed to do better, and he gets the Duck.

  • Since peaking at a 1.006 OPS on June 8, Soriano has been in a complete freefall. In those 56 ABs, he's hit a pathetic .179/ .258/ .304 for a dismal .562 OPS. Last year, Cristian Guzman's was .574. Even more worrisome is his complete lack of plate discipline. He's walked just four times (unintentionally) versus 16 strikeouts.

    It seems that teams have completely stopped challenging him with fastballs. He'll get them occasionally, but only as a setup for more breaking slop. Early in the season, when he was humming along, he was doing a good job of laying off the slop away. As he's started fishing at it again, they've been able to get the fastball in on him, causing a swing and a miss, or jamming him, resulting in a popup or a weak grounder. (If you've watched the games, you've seen a LOT of weak grounders lately, which is a terrible sign for someone who'se a flyball pull hitter).

    He's just completely out of synch, and he'll need to get better, if only to keep other teams interested in him. Of course, when you had a start as hot as his, it's going to take a lot of stinking to put a meaningful dent in his overall numbers.

    As far as trading partners, pick a team. Giants? Dodgers? Angels? Just keep checking here for the latest!

  • The Official Nationals.com Beat Writer of this particular blog has a decent interview with Frank Robinson that does a good job of showing off his human side. Ladson lets Frank defend his tenure with the Expos/Nats, and Robinson, a very prideful man, doesn't swing and miss:
    MLB.com: In your 16 years as a Major League manager, is managing the Expos/Nationals the best work you have ever done?

    Robinson: I think each organization that I was with, I felt like when I left there, they were better off on the field than before I took over. I felt in each place I wasn't given enough time and resources to turn those clubs into real winners.

    With the situation with Major League Baseball, I've been given the opportunity over a period of time to show what I might be able to do if I had the resources. ... This ballclub has not sunk into a deep hole of pity or stumbling around on the field or be an embarrassment to Major League Baseball. That has a lot to do with the coaching staff and the people that have been here. Don't get me wrong, I'm not taking the full responsibility of doing that. But I'm talking about the way the team has performed over the years. That's pointed toward the manager of the ballclub and the coaching staff that prepared the players.
    Certainly Robinson does need to be commended (man, that's a DC word if there ever was one) for that. I remember (probably not as well as Ladson!) reading about one homestand that had them fly from Montreal to Puerto Rico, then on the road to.....Seattle!? Brutal stuff. That the team didn't completely fall apart and that they made some noise definitely is a credit on Frank's side.

    Yet, I look at some of the curious on-field decisions. I look at how he's unwilling to lose big today to help the team more in the future. I look at the conflicts he's had with players (which was true in Montreal, as well -- including a Ohka-esque run-in with Tony Armas that had Frank on the verge of resigning). I add that up, and I wonder how much better the team could've been/would be with a different manager.

    I can't speak for the Expos days, but I'm positive the team could've won a few more last year with a manager who wasn't beholden to Vinny Castilla, Cristian Guzman or Preston Wilson. Or a manager who wouldn't bury viable, if not ideal, starting pitching options (Rasner, Halama, etc), resulting in a team running a four-man rotation for an entire month. And who knows what kind of effect that increased workload had on John Patterson's health this year. Correlation with last year? Maybe for Livan, too?

    Several times in the interview, Frank plays passive-aggressive, noting that he's disappointed that the Lerners haven't attempted to meet with him yet, and that he hopes to soon. When responding to a Ladson question asking him if he thinks that they understand what he's meant for the team, Robinson takes a veiled shot at Tony Tavares:
    At what depth, I do not know. I'm sure [general manager] Jim [Bowden] has told them a lot about it. I don't know if anyone else upstairs would have filled them in that respect or told them what I've done or the sacrifices that I've made.
    Tavares, you might recall, sat for an interview at the end of last year with Ladson and completely ripped Frank and his staff. It's clear that they're not friends!

    Not only does the human, emotional side of Frank come across, but it's also apparent of the deep respect that Ladson has for Frank, probably forged on many nights in mostly empty ballparks.

    It's also worth a read for his take on Davey Johnson's hiring. It's clear that he doesn't like Davey, and that he's hurt/angry at Johnson's new job.

  • Tom Boswell had another of his weekly email columns. This one focusing on one of the key differences with last year's team -- the inability of the starters to go deep. He notes how fragile the balance can be, observing that if every Nat starter 'just' went 2 more outs into a game, the relievers would've saved themselves 50 innings of work. (The Nats currently have 3 of the top 5 relievers in games pitched.)

  • Loverro likes community service.

  • The city and some developers reached an agreement on the parking garage situation. The city would sell the land to a developer who would build a mixture of above-ground, retail and below-ground. Kasten is blustering about how he doesn't want his fans to have to walk through a construction zone. Screw him. There's going to be so much development and construction in that area, it doesn't matter. At any rate, the best analysis was, strangely, on the BPG Forum. Here's the thread, and be sure to pay special attention to the posts of jacdupree. She runs the Near Southeast Website, which has been tracking development in the entire southeast area of DC, and, as such, she's about the only one I'd trust with crap like this. Check her website out, too, because she's really on top of the parking issue.

    She does point to this press release, which notes that the demolition of the construction site is essentially complete. Urban renewal through destruction!

  • I can't remember if I've linked to this before, but Clark Construction has a stadium site webcam that takes pictures once an hour or so. It's a neat way to check the progress.

  • If you've read me for more than a week, you'll know that I'm a big fan of Earl Weaver. Here's audio of a Manager's Show that he did for a broadcast, knowing full well that the game was going to be rained out and that it wouldn't see the light o' day. Don't listen if you have virgin ears, or if your cubicle-bound! (He doesn't like Terry Crowley!)

  • Today's Anagram O' The Day: Mike Stanton: Stink On Team (or) Me Stink A Ton

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