Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fouled-Off Bunts: Once, Twice, Three Times For Larry

So Alfonso's not the only one who can do it. Larry Jones crushed three homers and the Braves routed the Nats. I lucked out in that I picked last night to pretend I had a life, so I missed the game. I made the right choice.

Remember last week when the reporters (and I!) were asking, by default, whether Ramon Ortiz was our 'ace'? Yeah? Well, forget that. He reverted to early season form and got hit early and often. So who's our ace now? Well.... let's see.... Billy Traber? Imagine how ugly things would be if were played in a bandbox of a park.

Someone named Matt Diaz had three hits in his first three chances (all after Adam LaRoche walks -- two of which were intentional), giving him 10 straight hits, which tied the NL record. Frank has been good about not overusing the IBB over the last few weeks. I wonder why he reverted last night?

Bernie Castro and Brandon Harper got the start over Marlon Anderson and Brian Schneider, the two goats from Sunday's game. I wouldn't read too much into it, as the Braves started a lefty.

  • Austin Kearns, who's been in a slump, has started working with Frank and Page.

    From the same link:
    --Shawn Hill is likely out for the year; his tendinitis isn't going away.
    --Jose Vidro will be back on Friday
    --Kory Casto will play in the Arizona Fall League

  • Ken Wright focuses on the league-worst error total as a proxy for the bad defense. That's one way of looking at it, I suppose, but the focus on errors always ticks me off, especially when he later notes something that's more disturbing: The Nats aren't turning any double plays.

    You can only make an error on a ball you get to. And as we saw with Clayton and Vidro, you can play bad defense without making errors ("Past a standing Vidro!"). The gruesome twosome are the biggest reason this team has't turned many double plays (the mostly flyball pitching staff is a factor, too). With the number of baserunners this team allows, the opportunities have been there, too.

    Nick Johnson was in on 109 DPs last year (in 129 games), but only on 70 this year in just 10 fewer games. That's not good! Despite his error the other day, Marlon Anderson seems to have much more range than Vidro -- he snared a ball early in Sunday's game that likely would've been past Vidro. Lopez, despite his scatter-shot arm, seems to have a bit more range than Clayton did (something that's backed up by the Reds' fans disappointment in Clayton's defense.)

    There's a balancing point between increased range and increased errors. In general, I think I'd rather have a rangier fielder than a sure-handed one. The difference between the best and worst shortstops in errors is typically 15-20. But the difference between the best and worst in terms of balls they get to has to be higher than that, right? Somewhere, someone smart has probably figured that out.

    Still, I'm glad to see someone write about this. The defense, especially earlier in the season, was a pretty big contributing factor to the pitching's poor start. (The line drives didn't help either!) I think it's better now -- Kearns is a plus defender in right. I think Soriano has turned into a better than average fielder. And Zimmerman is what he is. Now, if we could just keep Vidro on the bench and get Nick Johnson back to last season's form...

  • HOT BLOGGER ACTION!!!
    --Banks, sporting a great new look, has raised the white flag already, and looks at what is a surprisingly deep market for free agent pitchers. There aren't any aces in there, but there's sure to be a Loaiza or two -- and our Loaiza, not the drunken one that pitches for the A's. One from column A, One from column B, please, Bowden!
    --OMG looks at the bigger picture, noting that, strangely, the pitching has been pretty good lately. (Better defense?)
    --Just A Nats Fan links to the strange tale of Sal Fasano's 'stache.
    --When even the good people at Nats 320 people are questioning Frank Robinson's decision making, you know Frank's done wrong.
    --The BPGers who watched the game last night said that Frank was acting even crazier than usual. Stress getting to him, perhaps?

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