Monday, August 14, 2006

Nineteen Down, Eight To Go

(Why do I strongly suspect that I messed up the title of this series somewhere along the way?)

Blah, we stink. Coming off a West Coast trip that had some positive signs, the Nats looked like they could've built something with two divisional foes. Nope. The Marlins came in and pounded us. Then the Mets came in and pounded us. The Nats were in every game, but they're not getting those clutch hits, and the minor league bullpen is getting exposed for what it is. That's good enough to sneak out a victory here and there, but not good enough to win consistently, even in the craptastic NL.

Nats Record: 2-4
Overall: 51-66, a 70-win pace.
Runs Scored: 20 (3.3/g); Overall: 533 (11/16) A good week would get them into 8th.
Runs Allowed: 25 (4.2/g); Overall: 599 (12/16) A good week would get them into 9th)
Expected Record: 52-65, about where we are.

What's Good?
1) Tony Armas! When Bud Selig turns his infernal email machine on this morning, there'll be email from the Nats putting Armas on waivers. He had two good starts this week. Yesterday, he dominated the Norfolk Mets, and he pitched well enough to win earlier against the Fish. But in both starts, he was let down by some shoddy defense. 1.38 ERA with 9 Ks in 13 innings.

2) Brian Schneider's bat!?!? Wow! Just a few days after Frank whined about a minor problem with his swing that he didn't feel like fixing til the offseason, Schneider lurched to life, smacking the ball around (even if his defense still stinks). He had his first extra-base hit in a month and batted .375/ .412/ .438 for the week. Not a bad start!

3) Nick Johnson. He looked like he was headed into a nosedive last week, but he broke through again, getting on base and hitting for power -- including a monster shot into the mezzanine in the gap in right. .273/ .346/ .591

What's Bad?
1) FLop And Kearns. The Cincinnati Kids stunk this week, both barely breaking .200. Neither had an extra-base hit and Kearns had their lone RBI. Ouch!

2) Marlon Anderson. The fill-in second baseman / pinch-hitter extraordinaire didn't do much, other than boot the ball at the worst possible time against the Mets yesterday. .200/ .250/ .200

3) Frank's Fancy Pitching Changes. It's tough to watch, even as I know it's what needs to be done. But seeing crappy reliever after crappy reliever paraded out in the late innings of close games when Saul Rivera, Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero sit on their butts chewing sunflower seeds (only because Frank already took away their fireworks), is maddening.

Game O' The Week
Billy Traber, sporting some damn fine sideburns, returned from the dead to face the Mets. Who didn't pencil that one is a loss? Instead, he threw 7+ innings, keeping the Mets off balance with all sorts of slop. When Brian Schneider looped a double down the line to score 2, the Nats had an improbable lead that would even more improbably hold up, despite Chad Cordero's attempt to cough it up in the ninth.

Those are the best kinds of games to win, the ones where you've already penciled in a loss. You could've made a killing in Vegas picking Traber over Tom Glavine.

MVP Award
This Soriano kid's pretty good. He went fishing at crap a few too many times (7 Ks in 22 ABs), but the end result was 3 homers and a double. .273/ .385/ .727. Can he get to 50? It'll be hard.

Cy Young Award
Tony Armas pitched better than his defense made it seem. Two earned runs in 13 innings is good enough for me.

LVP Award
Take your pick: Lopez, Kearns or Anderson. Does it much matter?

Joe Horgan Award
Travis Hughes gave up three runs in two appearances, but it was his HBP that cement the award. In Thursday's game, he had zero control, flinging the ball all over the park, and eventually nailing Miguel Cabrera. It was that HBP, his second of the game, which caused Sergio Mitre to attempt to nail Soriano. Just what we need.... Soriano getting hurt because a mediocre waiver-wire reject has no control!