Friday, June 16, 2006

Red Warrior Needs Food, Badly!

Another day, another loss. And we haven't even started to run the gauntlet yet. Four games ago, we were sitting pretty. Visions of taking 3/4 from the woeful Colorado Rockies brought the delight of two-games under .500 into our minds. Four losses later, it's time to throw another coin in the slot and start over, this time from eight under. Ouch.

Yesterday was a brutal game played on a beautiful day. The Nats didn't do much of anything, and only scored thanks to the Rockies' thirdbaseman's sticky wickets. Jason Jennings shut down the Nats batters (really their B-team), flailing away at his half-speed fastball, and the pitch which is usually the death of the Nats, a hard, bitting slider. He cruised through inning after inning, only needing to grit his teeth once or twice, as the Nats went down silently, just like last year.

On the opposite half-inning Livan rolled to the mound, pitching, well, meh. He wasn't great, but he wasn't terrible, either, getting blooped and bleeded to death thanks to some all-time bad defense. Soriano misplayed two balls, one for a double, one for a single (that fell in because he was so deep). Damian Jackson showed all the range of a wounded ostrich with vertigo. And Robert Fick, the right fielder, is really a third catcher. On the infield, Marlon Anderson is passable (no worse than Vidro, really), and Brendan Harris, a second baseman, played short, making an error, which means Frank'll probably staple his young ass to the pine til the end of time.

When you have a pitcher who, essentially, pitches to contact, and you combine that with a defense that shows less range than Bill Shatner, you get games like this. Unfortunately, it's been a long stretch of poor pitching that's gotten us into this mess. The Rockies just totally destroyed the Nats, scoring 35 runs in these four games. No matter who you're playing, that's unacceptable. Chalk it up to a bad stretch. I hope.

The Lame Duck, probably unfairly, goes to Alfonso Soriano, who did nothing with the bat. He had just two hits in the series, and has just seven over his last ten games. Ten days ago, he was hitting .310/ .363/ .628. Now he's at .289/ .350/ .585. Quite a drop. The team simply can't win if he's doing nothing.

  • We're now facing the make-or-break portion of the season, as we prepare to run the gauntlet. The next 9 games are deadly, and coming out of them 4-5 would be a huge accomplishment. We get the Yankees for three, then travel to Boston and Toronto for three a piece. Our pitchers got torched in the AL parks last year, and there's no reason to think it won't happen again. The offense is going to need to step up. At least this year, with Daryle Ward and Matt LeCroy, there are legitimate options to DH. The fire sale is probably all but inevitible. These next nine games will probably make it academic.

  • The biggest news yesterday was the firing of bullpen coach John Wetteland. The Post sez too many pranks, and some damage to road bullpens. The Times sez 'philosophical differences.' throws out the 'undermining' word and says that Majewski and Cordero were being negatively influenced. (If what he did do Majewski and Cordero was bad, perhaps Wetteland needed to influence Eischen and Stanton more)

    Nothing to get worked up over, really. The bullpen coach doesn't make a damn bit of difference. They're all perfectly capable of answering phones and waving towels when the reliever's fully warm.


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