Monday, July 23, 2007

16 Down, Not A Ton Left

It's been a while. A month! Vacation, malaise and All-Star breaks form a nasty conspiracy.

Nats Record: 10-13
Overall: 42-56, tied for 12th in the NL, 1.5 games ahead of last.
Runs Scored: 79 (3.4/g); 370 overall, which is last, by far.
Runs Allowed: 101 (4.4/g); 474 overall, 10th in the NL.
Expected Record: 63-99, which is the same pace as a month ago. If you consistently get outscored by a run a game, apparently you lose a lot? Funny how that works.

Amazingly, they're still above .500 since rock bottom of May 9 (33-31), although they allowed a lot more runs than they scored, so they're much more lucky than good.

What's Good?
1) Ryan Zimmerman. Apparently, the sophomore slump lasts 2 months. Zimmerman is finally hitting like the player we thought we'd have, and not like the huge disappointment he was early in the season. The power's not all the way there -- damn RFK -- but a .303/ .361/ .472 is good enough, especially with some of those highlight plays he's made over the last week or so.

2) Tim Redding. Entering spring training, everyone had him inked in to the rotation given his past history with Manny Acta. But a tough spring sent him to Columbus where he wasn't particularly effective at the beginning of the year. Desperation earned him the call, and he's pitched great over his last four starts, a 2.92 ERA. He's struck out just 5 batters in 24+ innings, so unless he ups that, he's not going to be able to stick around. There probably hasn't been a pitcher with a sub-3 ERA and a sub-2.00 K rate since before Walter Johnson was a speck in his mother's eye.

3) The Tradeable Twins. Dmitri Young just continues to do it, never cooling down: .343/ .397/ .543. To B or not to B? Speaking of Bs, Belliard mashed this week, hopefully making himself attractive to the Mets, who just lost Jose Valentin to a broken leg. As we saw, it's easy to pick up a 2B off the scrap heap, which is a reason why keeping him and letting him walk might not work: the Nats wouldn't risk him accepting arbitration.

What's Bad?
1) Jason Simontacchi. It might be time to end the experiment! Three games, 13 runs, a near-9 ERA. He's at 6.37 for the year. And THIS is the guy they picked out of spring over Bergmann?

2) Centerfield. Nook: .222/ .314/ .311; Langerhans: .130/ .200/ .348; Church: .268/ .303/ .366. If you could play Dr. Frankenstein and merge them all would you have a good player?
Nook's speed and defense with Langerhans' eye with Church's power? Seems like that'd be the really poor man's Mike Cameron.

3) Brian Schneider. To hear Bob and Don, he's the Nats best player. You'd never realize that he's .189/ .295/ .245 over his last month. You'd also never hear about Simontacchi's ERA or about how poorly the team pitched last year. The man's made of teflon.

Weekly Monthly Awards

MVP: Ronnie Belliard was simply brilliant over the last month, stepping up when the team needed it, and auditioning himself to play in the playoffs this year.

Cy Young: Matt Chico. He still gives up too many taters, but I'll take a 3.24 ERA over 4 starts any day. He's really cut down his walk rate; he BB'd less than 3 per game over this stretch. Honorable Mention: Chad Cordero's 0.82 ERA. Didn't see that one comin', did ya?

LVP: Austin Kearns. If you've just watched over the last week, you'd wonder what I was drinking. Hopefully he's turning the corner. If he looks back around it, he'll see an ugly mess he left: .216/ .318/ .284.

Joe Horgan: Jason Bergmann. 21 earned runs!? I figured he'd come back to earth because of his obscene luckiness on batted balls. But there's coming to earth, and then there's exploding over Tuguska. I only saw him on one of these starts, and it looked like he had lost all the crispness on his slider. Remember back to the beginning of the year, that it was his new grip and new slider that really pushed him forward. It's likely that the elbow injury he had is preventing him from getting the same kind of torque and grip he had before. If that's something he can't get back, he's probably closer to the Bergmann we didn't like, than the one we raved about most of the first half. I feel for the kid.

Weekly Whips... man... why am I doing this?
Let's let fangraphs and WPA help us out!

6/25: Brian Schneider had 3 of the team's 9 hits in a loss to the Braves.
6/26: Brian Schneider had just one hit, but the graph says it was important. Who am I to argue?
6/27: Two meaningless hits for Ronnie Belliard in a rout of a loss.
6/29: Six shutout innings by Matt Chico should've been enough.
6/30: Dmitri Young had the only hit that mattered for the Nats, and it didn't matter much.
7/1: Jesus Flores' HR helped the Nats win it eventually.
7/2: The Cubs scored early and often in a rout, despite Nook Logan's hit, walk and run.
7/3: Saul Rivera kept 'em close. Do they assign holds in a loss?
7/4: Matt Chico celebrated the fourth by going seven scoreless.
7/5: Two Words: Dmitri Triple.
7/6: Belliard went 4 for 5. Too bad it didn't amount to much.
7.7: Austin Kearn's two-run double gave the Nats the breathing room they needed.
7.8: Ryan Zimmerman didn't bunt. He homered instead.
7/13: Three more RBI for Austin Kearns, including a key one in a game that should've been a laugher.
7/14: Ryan Zimmerman had two hits, but WPA says he failed when it really mattered.
7/15: Two hits and two walks for Belliard. Too bad Zimmerman couldn't drive him in.
7/16: It's amazing how much a Dmitri 3-run bomb affects our chances of winning, eh?
7/17: Belliard had two more hits and a homer. What a month he's had!
7/18: Jon Rauch closed the door, only to let Cordero swing it back open.
7/19: Austin Kearns was the man in the middle of the action.
7/20: If I were still giving Ducks, Zimmerman would win in a landslide, but staying postive, hey, how 'bout that ummm... Lopez?
6/21: Mike Bacsik!? Mike Bacsik??!? Mike Bacsik!?
7/22: Bully for Austin!
7/23: You didn't read all these, did you?

What's Ahead?
Three in Philly, Four in NY? This won't end pretty, will it?

Philly's gasping for air, trying to stay alive in the pennant race. With no usable lefties, I'm interested to see how they handle Utley and Howard. Cordero in CBP is always a fun thought!

The Mets are finally starting to hit a bit, after treading water for a month. With the double-header, it won't be the best of times for Lannan or Hanrahan to make their MLB debuts.

Then there's a little something called the trading deadline... TRAYD FOUR DONE1!!!1!

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