Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Fouled-Off Bunts: Hail To The Mistress Choker

Dmitri Young, whose return from drug abuse and spousal abuse was one of the surprises of the season, was rightly named NL Comeback Player of the Year.

Dmitri's year really came out of nowhere, far exceeding anyone's expectations, even, no doubt, Bowden's. He set a career high in batting average and on-base percentage while lightening the mood in the clubhouse. His 38 doubles were the most he's had in a decade. He didn't replace Nick Johnson, especially when you factor in his defense, but he was a solid stopgap performer and, at the time a deserving All-Star selection.

Congratulations to him. He deserves it.

I just wish he'd go lose 40 pounds in the offseason, not so he can play the outfield, but so that he wouldn't wear down. His second-half slide, which probably was partially a function of playing over his head, had to have been aided along by his shape and his massive body wearing down in the disgusting weather we have here in the summer.

  • Our good friends at MLB.com don't help a thing with the first part of their opening line: "During Spring Training, when everybody was picking his team to be historically bad." Vegas, who certainly knows a hell of a lot more about predicting and people's expectations since, you know, they get paid to know that crap, had the Nats at 66 wins. I'm tired of reading the 'historically bad' canard and seeing that used to trumpet up the team's success.

    It bothers me, in part, because it's vaguely insulting to the actual successes the team had. We don't need to invent boogeymen to appreciate what this team did. They played hard, they kicked some good teams' asses down the stretch, and they exceeded last year's record while trimming payroll by $30 million. That's a great story on its own without inventing a bunch of tripe. Let the works and actions of the players speak for themselves dammit.

  • Teh Zuck hands out his Letter Grades for the various Nats, proving that he likely went to one of those schools where grade inflation is the norm. Ryan Langerhans doesn't even get an F.

    Because I'm crotchety, I was struck by this: "Offensive numbers were putrid but remains one of the best catchers in the game." If you insert 'defensive' in there, I might agree. But without straining myself, I could probably name 15 catchers (and undoubtedly more if I did strain) I'd rather have on my team, when you consider the totality of their contributions.

    I was struck by the honesty of the comments Acta made with regards to Schneider's lack of offense.

  • The Maxwell hype machine continues. He looked impressive, but to read some of these things (especially the BPG comments) he's ready for his All Star starting slot.

  • Ibid... it references the "consistent basis" with which Wily Mo Pena went to the opposite field as the reason for his success. Here's his hit chart for the year, at least for games at RFK. Toggle singles and see that a fair number did go to the opposite field. But look at all other types of hits, and they were pulled or hit to dead center.

    But going to the opposite field doesn't mean automatic hit. So let's look at the groundouts. Only one of those went to the opposite field, although his flyouts basically all did. The flyouts going to left is consistent with a batter missing a curveball or other breaking pitch.

    In general, the adjustment a batter makes when he's fooled is to slow down the bat and drag it through the zone, often with the head of the bat trailing behind the wrists. If he connects, it pops up, usually to the opposite field. Look at other pull hitters like Soriano. You'll see the same effect. When they hit a weak fly, it's going the other way. That's what Wily Mo did here.

    Did he have some opposite field hits? Yep. Did he do it on a "consistent basis"? doesn't seem to be. Take a look at his 2005 results in Great American. You'll see that he had his occasional share of opposite field singles, too. It just happens. Maybe Lenny did fix him and give him some adjustments, but his performance doesn't seem that dramatically different than what he did in the past.

  • Lenny Shapiro comes out swinging for all-around good guy Bob Carpenter who, thanks to the Nationals apparent incompetence, may actually be back on MASN next season.

    The Nats were apparently interested in wooing Dan Shulman, typically heard doing the ESPN Sunday Night games on the radio, to be the lead voice, but neglected to see if he was interested before telling Carp to go screw off. Shulman turned them down, and now they're left holding the bag, begging to see if a marginally tolerable announcer would come back. Shapiro's column -- and kudos the the Post for finally having a goddamn column about the Nats! -- basically pleads with the Nats to take Carpenter back, and cites the hundreds of comments in favor of Carpenter on the "blogosphere" (whatever the hell that is), message boards, and emails to MASN.

    Apparently, ever since that ugly incident, MASN has blocked my emails.

    Surprisingly, Lenny shares the anecdote that Sutton went to team management to complain about Carpenter's style, and how they didn't mesh. While both are pros, there were a few occasional awkward exchanges, especially when Sutton was left dumbfounded by something asinine that Carpy said.

    Whether they hire him or fire him, I don't really care. (OK, that's a lie. I want someone new). I just hope they don't make the ultimate decision on the stupid "continuity" argument, as if settling for mediocrity were optimal to improving things. If that were the case, we'd still be smiling and nodding as Frank Robinson penciled in a hobbling Vinny Castilla while Zimmerman was stapled to the bench. Hey, it's continuity, folks!

  • Speaking of Zimmerman, Svrulga neglected to give me a "some internet goober contributed to this report" credit. Jerk.


    • St. Barry hooked you up on Nats Journal, by stating that you beat him to the story. Does that count?

      By Anonymous WebberDC, at 10/02/2007 3:53 PM  

    • Even though i'd like to see somebody new in the broadcast booth as well, the Nats front office handling of this-like situations before-once against reeks. Can't these guys make a postitive PR move for once in their lives that doesn't make them look like a bunch of assholes? (Short of backing up the Brinks truck for Josh Smoker, that is). To be honest, i'm suprised the FO's shit treatment of Carpenter isn't getting more publicity, and even more suprised that Carpenter isn't telling the Nats to fuck off, which is what he should do. Alot of people have egg on their faces for this one. Don Sutton, The Lerners, and most of all, Stan Kasten. It's a simple thing Mr. Kasten. It's an age old custom called TREATING PEOPLE RIGHT.

      Still though, Carpenter must REALLY like it here to put himself through all this BS.

      By Anonymous Natzzzzzz, at 10/02/2007 4:00 PM  

    • If you knew how much Carpenter was making (take a guess and at least double it), you'd understand why he was putting up with it!

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/02/2007 4:01 PM  

    • I knew you'd say that Chris-and you're right. But do you at least agree with my other points?

      And one thing i've been meaning to ask you as well-what are your opinoons about the current parking clusterfuck with the new stadium? This thing could get interesting...

      By Anonymous Natzzzzzz, at 10/02/2007 4:08 PM  

    • When you combine the cheap hardasses of the Lerner family with the incompetents of DC gov't, what else do you expect?

      Frankly, I'm more worried about their ability to handle Metro than the parking. Relying on one solitary line to get people in and out of the area seems like it could be a problem.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/02/2007 4:10 PM  

    • What, haven't you ever hung out with 10,000 of your closest friends on the L'enfant Plaza green line platform? Good times are sure to come...

      By Anonymous Natzzzzzz, at 10/02/2007 4:18 PM  

    • I'm a bit surprised to hear the bit about Sutton. If only because on Sunday's broadcast, it seemed anything like Sutton had a problem with Carpenter. Not only did he tell him that he had handled all of this like a professional, but at one point when I think they thought the mmic was off at the very end, Sutton added a positive comment that I can't remember.

      I understand none of this means that Sutton didn't do what Shapiro reports, just that I wouldn't have guessed it.

      I wonder who is out there realistically that they could bring in. I thought for awhile that maybe they would go after Daron Sutton, but he had four years more remaining on his D'Backs deal.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/02/2007 4:32 PM  

    • Thom Brennaman!!!11!!!

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/02/2007 4:42 PM  

    • Sean McDonough.

      Scott Graham.

      George Johnson.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/02/2007 5:20 PM  

    • What's the difference between the one solitary line you mention and two lines sharing the same solitary piece of track, as at RFK? Not much, really. It's all about moving trains through the station. Based on their performance at high-attendance games in 2005, 2006 and 2007, Metro finally figured that out at RFK. In 2005 and 2006 I always had to stand and wait in a big mob outside the station waiting to get in, in 2007 I never did. The crowd just flowed right in. Trains moved through with regularity this year, unlike prior years. Hopefully Metro can carry that "lesson learned" over to the Navy Yard next year.

      Also, there are Green, Yellow, Orange and Blue Line stations all within a 10-15 minute walking distance of the new park. And that's not all that much further than the walk is from RFK to the Metro station. So smart people like me, who aren't elderly or handicapped or overly drunk, will walk to a station on their home line, rather than risking having to wait the same amount of time to change trains at L'Enfant. Don't necessarily assume Metro next year will be a clusterfuck (even though it's possible it could be, if the Post hammers the negativity all winter and everything else goes wrong too...)

      By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 10/02/2007 5:29 PM  

    • While i admire your tenacity ABM, according to Google Maps the closest metro stations not on the Green Line are at least a mile away-hardly as close as the metro is to RFK. Which may not seem like much to you or i, but a) we're not talking the most pedestrian friendly routes here and b) in the middle of a Washington summer, after taking in a three hour ballgame and having a few beers, not too many people are going to want to make that hike, especially when there's a metro station literally a stones throw from Nationals Park (or Geico Park, or...what the hell are we calling this thing anyway?!) I just don't see very many people doing it. I don't see myself doing it.

      By Anonymous Natzzzzzz, at 10/02/2007 6:51 PM  

    • It's a trade-off, I admit. Walk a mile or so, which shouldn't take longer than 15-20 minutes, to hop right on a nearly-empty train, or spend 10 minutes in a pile-up at Navy Yard and then another 10 minutes waiting to change trains at L'Enfant Plaza, bitching the whole time. I've done the walk from the new stadium site to Capitol South, on the day before the 2007 season started actually. It wasn't pedestrian-unfriendly then, and it will only get better as the ballpark district develops out - which admittedly won't be by Opening Day 2008.

      By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 10/02/2007 7:01 PM  

    • I guess I missed the Nat's or MASN's announcement that Carpenter wasn't coming back.

      By Blogger Jim H, at 10/03/2007 12:21 AM  

    • Congratulations to Dmitri. This award has been reserved for players coming back from injury over the past few years (Griffey Jr., Garciaparra....), it's good to see that people recognize what Dmitri came back from as well. And, he had good numbers, if only he didn't fade down the stretch.

      My concern with Metro isn't the trains moving in and out of Navy Yard fast enough. My concern is the transfer point at L'Enfant Plaza. While riding the metro to games at RFK, I think that the majority of metro riders were originating on the orange and blue lines (very few people changed trains at Metro Center or L'Enfant Plaza). So, the Metro can run a train every 30 seconds from the Navy Yard, but they had better be prepared to do something to help out the transfer point as well.

      In St. Louis, the bus to the MetroLink (their crappy attempt at a rail system) is free after games. I'd be perfectly happy taking a bus to Capitol South or wherever, but not if I had to pay for it. I would be willing to walk -- when it is less than 90 degrees (which this year, if it was less than 90, it was also less than 30 at games).

      Finally (and sorry for the long rant), I think Carpenter would leave in a heart beat if he could. He is still approaching this offseason as if he is a free agent. But, like Barry sticking with the Giants, he may realize that the only place he could land with a job is right back where he started.

      By Blogger Natsfan74, at 10/03/2007 8:15 AM  

    • The Maxwell hype machine continues...he's ready for his All Star starting slot.

      Huh?! Don't know what "BPG comments" are, but the linked article doesn't match the blogger's derision.

      How far away is he from the big leagues [as a regular]? We don't know that yet. The Arizona Fall League will help determine it. Spring Training will help determine it.

      Acta said Maxwell needs to improve his skills with the bat. The skipper took notice that that Maxwell is vulnerable to outside pitches. He has to handle the outer part of the plate and keep refining his overall game.

      This hardly qualifies as hype or the stuff of an All Star starting slot. Rather, it appears the kid has found himself on that dubious list of Players This Blogger Just Doesn't Like.

      By Anonymous Bom Toswell, at 10/03/2007 8:18 AM  

    • Read the first sentence of the piece, Tom.

      I like Maxwell. I just don't think he's ready.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/03/2007 8:40 AM  

    • Read the first sentence of the piece...I like Maxwell.

      Well, not to be nit-picky or anything, but I think you meant the first phrase of the second sentence. To be fair, though, we'll just have to wait to see how his "likability" waxes and wanes on these pages. Is he a Nook "Snyder" or a Shawn Cordero?

      I just don't think he's ready.

      Again, quotes in the linked article seem to agree with that assessment. What they don't agree with is "hype machine;" the point I was making.

      By Anonymous Bom Toswell, at 10/03/2007 9:07 AM  

    • Two stats:

      DYoung's BABIP: .362 (7th in the majors.)

      He's gonna regress and he has no secondary skills like speed or defense to fall back on. It won't be pretty and it better not happen in the outfield. If Nick's not healthy, it'll be okay. If Nick gets healthy, we need ship Dimitri to an AL team who needs a DH (Twins?)

      BSchneider's Win Shares: 11 (Tied for 13th among all catchers)

      Close. Tied with Ramon Hernandez and Yadier Molina, so maybe that's 15 that are better. He's also only 11th in fielding win shares. Long story short, he ain't much to write home about.

      By Anonymous Mark D., at 10/03/2007 9:18 AM  

    • So you mean a 30-something out-of-shape player who had a career year isn't going to duplicate that next year? ;)

      I'd be 'happy' with .280/.330/.470 next year, which is probably about what we'll get.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/03/2007 9:21 AM  

    • "In St. Louis, the bus to the MetroLink (their crappy attempt at a rail system) is free after games. I'd be perfectly happy taking a bus to Capitol South or wherever, but not if I had to pay for it. I would be willing to walk -- when it is less than 90 degrees (which this year, if it was less than 90, it was also less than 30 at games)."

      If the Nationals are smart, they'll book a fleet of maybe ten buses and use half of them to shuttle fans to Capitol South (Orange/Blue Lines) and the other half to shuttle fans to Union Station (Red Line) after games, for free. This makes just as much sense as doing a parking shuttle to RFK, if the ultimate goal is to train fans to use Metro rather than driving as their first transportation choice - which it should be. It will probably take metro a while to figure out the train timing that will best move after-game transfers through L'Enfant Plaza, and anything the Nats can do to help minimize the pileups there during the shakedown first season would be money well spent. Once Metro gets its act together, the Nats could phase out the shuttle service, as I'm sure they will also phase out any RFK parking shuttles once the ballpark district parking situation works itself out.

      As for what line fans were taking out of RFK, my experience in riding an Orange Line train all the way out to Dunn Loring after games was that the train would start off packed leaving RFK, then a big chunk of people would get off at L'Enfant (presumably to transfer to Yellow) and another big chunk would get off at Metro Center (presumably to transfer to Red). Heading under the river to Virginia, the trains would have emptied to the point that there was no longer anyone standing and all the seats wouldn't even be full.

      Of course, since I wasn't getting off myself I have no way of knowing how Metro was handling the rush of people getting off my train to transfer to Red or Yellow. But I'm guessing it couldn't have been too bad, or those people would have quit taking the train and started driving instead. Or maybe they just sucked it up.

      By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 10/03/2007 9:49 AM  

    • By Blogger wwwwww, at 10/26/2009 9:40 PM  

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