Wednesday, August 01, 2007

In Which The Author Finds An Outlet For His Frustrations

With apologies to the Nationals Enquirer, whose shtick I'm stealing...

Here's how I would've handled Svrluga's chat today.

Greater Green Bay: Reading these chats I'm a bit surprised at the "we stink, we'll never win" attitude of the Nationals fans who write in. I hope they have some perspective -- they were a team that was on starvation rations for the past 10-plus years and only now is getting the care it will need to turn around. Watch for improvement after the new ballpark opens. Remember, D.C. has a World Series winner fewer years ago than the Cubs!

Positive comparisons to the Cubs -- even facetious ones -- should be grounds for castration. This sounds like a Kasten plant, but we know it's not because it didn't hawk tickets.

Silver Spring, Md.: Barry -- Give me a reason to root for this team! Bowden just signed two fat players in the decline phase of their careers to 2-year deals. A SECOND trading deadline has passed without a single move ...

The team's best hitter is going to be 34 next year and he's got a history of domestic violence and drug abuse. The team's best pitcher -- Chico -- has an ERA 13 percent worse than the league average and he doesn't strike anyone out.

Really, until Bowden is gone, why are the fans still here?

You'd be amazed to find out that I didn't ask that, eh? Preach on brotha. Preach on. The answer, sadly, is because we're suckers. We love this stupid game too much, and we'll take whatever abuse we can because it's a grand old game, blah blah blah.

Mt. Rainier, Md.: Frankly, I'm glad GM Jim Bowden stood firm on not making trades unless the other team meets our needs too. Why make trades just to say "I made a couple of trades"?

Well, other than to infuse talent into a moribund system, I can't think of a reason to make any trades. Shouldn't you be rooting for the Blowrioles anyway?

D.C.: I am so pleased that Dimitri Young is sticking around. Please thank him for not being my "Soriano" for this season.

And what if he was? You'd latch on to the next player, just the way you did this year. Besides, why would you thank Dmitri? They're paying him $10 million over two years. He should be thanking you, the ticket buyers who are putting a lot of Hohos on his plate.

Thanks to top-secret technology, I was able to obtain secret video of Dmitri from the future. Here he is in August of '09.

A different Silver Spring asks about Manny's late-game defensive subs. It's not the question that's funny, but the answer.

He said he wants the best possible defensive team out there, even with a one-run lead with two innings to go, because he is such an optimist he doesn't even consider that his bullpen would blow the lead and he'd need more runs.

I'm certainly not one to question the power of 'tism, but, wow. I mean, wow. I love ya, Manny, but if I start to hear anything about the healing power of crystals and pyramids, I'm done.

Twinbrook, Md: Barry, Here's what I think the optimal starting 8 would be for 2008.

Guzman - ss

Belliard - 2b

Zimmerman - 3b

Young - lf

Johnson - 1b

Escobar - cf

Kearns - rf

Schneider - c

If they were all healthy, wouldn't you stack these guys up against most other position players in the league?

Wow. I thought Manny's thing was dumb. How on God's green (and sometimes brown) earth can ANYONE call a lineup with Brian Schneider and Cristian Guzman in it, not to mention a gimpy Alex Escobar and Dmitri Young hobbling around "optimal"? Unless your goal is to lose 95 games (again), there ain't nuttin' optimal 'bout that.

Besides, shouldn't you be rooting for the Blowrioles?

Solla Sollew, Va.: Before the season, I made a "buck sez" with a friend that the Nats would win 70 games this season.

Am I going to win?

Did you specify regular season? If you include spring training, you've got a chance!

Logan Circle: I've been reading quite a few bloggers' comments expressing disappointment over the Nats' lack of trades. I disagree. They really don't have anybody that good to trade for good prospects.

Eat a dick! (Hi, Logan Circle!) Hard to explain the feeling. It's not a bitter disappointment. Just that we should've done something, even if it was low level on the range of the Ward/Anderson deals from last August (yes, with the caveat that it just turned August). The point isn't that we're trading for stud prospects anyway. A lottery ticket has more value to the Nats than Dmitri Young over the long term.

Pittsburgh: In the short term, what makes this team any different than the Pirates?

They'll have the same lousy offense next year that they have this year, while convincing their fans that their group of hustlers are going to keep them in the game and gosh darn it, watching any baseball is better than watching no baseball, especially in this beautiful new stadium! Losses are irrelevant to the sideshow at the fringes.

Feel the bitterness! I love it! Some good points there. How will our enterprising young journalist answer it?

Manny Acta said it yesterday and he's said it before, and Kasten hints at it (because he never says anything straight out before it happens), but the difference fans should expect next year is increased payroll. If this team bumps the payroll to $70 million (and I know, Stan, I shouldn't use any hard numbers because that might set expectations), then that means they'll have $30 million or so to play with this winter. That can fundamentally change a team -- if it's spent wisely.

Except that if if they bump it up to 70, they've only got 20 million or so to play with (unless they non-tender Lopez). And $20 million isn't going to buy a ton. Certainly not enough to fundamentally change the results. If you assume that the pitching will hold form next year, the Nats would need to score an extra 200 runs or so just to break even. To get into playoff contention, they'd need a lot more. Good luck buying that for $20-30 million. I crunched the numbers a few weeks ago if you're really interested.

Minneapolis: As a member of the sports media, how great would it be to have Torii Hunter on this team? The guy is a media darling here.

Especially when he was ripping his MVP-caliber teammate Joe Mauer for not playing through an injury when he's a guy who's missed over 100 games over the last three years.

Section 422: I'm so glad to see Chad still here.

I hope they know -- there are a lot of us out here who see Brian Schneider, Chad Cordero, and Ryan Zimmerman as the core of our team. These are the guys that are OURS, much as Cal was Baltimore's. I hope Bowden can understand -- fan buy-in is a big component of a team's success. Keep our guys here.

If you're so deluded as to think that Brian Schneider is the Nats' equivalent to Cal Ripken (and thank you for not spelling it "Ripkin"; that might've caused me to stroke out), then they could probably market a wet cardboard box full of Dmitri Young's stool to you as the next great star and you wouldn't know the difference. (Man, I'm a prick)


There are even some members of the organization who are scratching their head about the Young signing.

Oy. Did you ever hear Lewis Black's routine about the "If it weren't for my horse" girl? That's how that sentence makes me feel.

Someone with the club was telling me a couple weeks ago after reading one of these chats: "You know, I hope the fans don't think that are long-term solutions at a lot of these positions are the guys we have here now."

Well, someone three questions ago thought that Brian Feckin' "Snyder" is the Nats' Cal Ripken. If you're going to market the crap out of these guys as a hustlin' bunch of kids who love the crap out of the game, you're going to get maudlin attachment to crappy players like Ryan Langerhans. (Note: Social Scientists have not been able to find anyone on earth who has a maudlin attachment to Ryan Langerhans)

Aramark, I'm told, is out as concessionaire next year. Not sure who's going to win.

Darn. Now if we could just line up their execs on-field for a public flogging before the last game, all my dreams shall have come true. (Off-field category, at least).

Potomac, Md.: Why wouldn't the Lerners do that [Sign their draft picks]?

Haven't they been saving up money all year making us watch Robert Fick flail so that they could sign their draft picks?

They're willing to let a top pick walk over $1 million? After signing a DH for $5 million?

I can neither confirm nor deny that I've ever been to Potomac. (Frankly, I'm the sort they try to prevent from visiting)

Hyattsville, Md.: How realistic is Young playing left field next year? Is Johnson's return next year that in doubt or is $5 million a year a reasonable amount to pay a back-up first baseman?

As realistic as you suiting up in LF next year. $5 million for a backup? What do you think? Are we spending $5 million on our starting rotation? Shouldn't you be rooting for the Blowrioles?

Ahhhhh.... catharsis.


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