Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No Shoulder To Cry On

So Chad Cordero's out. It's an acute tear of the latissimus dorsi muscle.

What's that mean? His shoulder hurts. The lat is a big muscle that covers a good chunk of your back and side. Here's a handy picture, and you can pretty easily see why a tear there would make a pitcher cry. If you remember last night, when the trainer came out, that's right about where Chad pointed: the area under the armpit. If you look at the bottom picture there, you can see what that particular muscle is important: it helps move the ol' arm, connecting to not-so humerus.

Now, there's no surgery required. And it's described as acute, which means basically small/short in a medical context. So, in one way of looking at it, it's just a realllllly bad strain.

So what about other guys who've had the same injury? What's the prognosis? Well, pretty good, actually.

I broke out the ol' google-fu and tried to see what I could find. First, I couldn't really find any other MLB pitchers who've been diagnosed with a full tear. Doesn't mean it hasn't happened I just didn't find it.

But I've found quite a few other pitchers who've dealt with strains, and quite a few other pitchers who came back relatively normal.

The most prominent example is Ben Sheets. (Alarm bells ringing now? Don't worry!) Sheets went down with a strain late in '05, and missed the final month or two of the year. Sheets was ready the next spring, although he didn't pitch particularly well before succumbing to croup, gout, dropsy, scabies or whatever old-tyme maladies befall him on a weekly basis.

Pedro Martinez missed a month in May '03 with a strain. He ended up with 180+ innings of 2.22 ERA ball. Sign me up!

Rich Harden has battled it (among other things) off and on for basically ever. Put him under the Sheets Alarm Bell category.

Brian Fuentes lost his job as the Rockies closer last year as a mid-season bout with a lat problem cost him velocity and movement (hey, that sound familiar!). He pitched beautifully down the stretch last year and is pleasing those people who were smart enough to pick him up off the waiver wire in their roto league this year -- especially those stupid people who paid waaaaaaay tooooo much for Chad Cordero on their stupid feckin' team!!! Sorry... got carried away there.

Curt Schilling missed a few starts late in '03. I think he's done pretty well since!

Jake Peavy had a bunch of problems attributable (but not actually diagnosed, that I could find) to a lat strain in '05; he finished with 30 starts and a 2.88 ERA.

Closer to home, Micah Bowie went down last year with it, only to never be seen again. (Anyone checked behind the barn?)

So a death sentence? Not apparently.

The only cause for concern is whether the lat strain was caused by him compensating for a different part of his shoulder barking. I noticed that his arm angle was dropping quite a bit in that final game. Is that because the lat was bugging him, or was he compensating for a different injury. If it's the different injury will the time off help that recover too? And will he be able to do those strengthening exercises Dr. Andrews gave him for the shoulder tendinitis if his lat won't let him move? Damned if I know.

But I don't feel quite as bad as I did when I first saw the story this afternoon.

Monday, April 28, 2008

No Comment Necessary

I'd make a gravitational force joke, but that's too easy.
I do believe they miss Dmitri Young. I believe he could provide an occasional spark if given a chance to start in left field. In all my years in Washington, Young is the only player who makes a difference just by his presence alone.

You might've missed it, but Dmitri did play some left in spring training. Here's a picture of him ranging back for a lazy fly.

The Way We Was: Week 4

All things considered, it was a pretty good week. Four and three is always a good week, I suppose. You do that every week, and you've got ninety or so wins. For a team that was taking on water like the inside of Screech's costume on an August afternoon, 4-3 is terrific. For a team that faced John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, Carlos Zambrano, Johan and Santana -- not to mention Ryan Dempster, Ollie Perez and Ted Lilly, none of whom are slouches -- it was a sensational week.

    Record: 4-3; 9-17 overall; Pythag, 9-17
    Offense: .257/ .338/ .335, 28 runs.
    Most Similar Batter: 2005 Damian Jackson, just without speed. Probably the same level of defense, though!
    Pitching: .269/ .353/ .372, 28 runs
    Most Similar Bater: Jose Cruz Jr, 2006.

    1) Wil Nieves!!!! (.500/ .529/ .688). The best part of his homer might not be the result, but the sheer joy you can see on the guy's face.

    2) Felipe Lopez, sorta!!! .250/ .323/ .393 isn't going to win any awards, but if he hits that for the full year, you won't be toooo disappointed. More importantly, there's this. One other thing... is it just me, or have you noticed far fewer groundballs sneaking through that right side? (Your sample size alarm should be blaring, but the ERA before he won the job on 4/18 was 4.63. Since, it's been 4.43)

    3) John Lannan's Big Brass Balls!!! 14 scoreless innings... just try to ignore the 7/7 K/BB ratio! Here's what I like about the kid. Fifth inning, and things fall apart. Working on a no-no, he allows back-to-back singles to the bottom of the order. With Ted Lilly readying to bunt, the runners take off and Wil Nieves can't throw them out with his head up his ass, putting runners on 2/3 with nobody out. Frustrating play, and an easy one for the pitcher to lose focus on.

    With the corners pulled in, Reid Johnson hits a sharp grounder to NJ and it pops out of his glove. The runners hold, but Johnny doesn't think to cover first base, not moving til it's too late, leaving Johnson & Johnson into a foot race to the bag. Johnson wins. No, the other Johnson. Bases loaded, one out and Lannan's mistake in not covering probably cost him an out. You could see the frustration on his face; he was yelling to himself.

    St. Claire ran out immediately, calmed him down, told him to focus on the task at hand and that one pitch could get him out of the inning.

    With the game potentially crumbling around him, one pitch was all he needed. He focused, got the sharp grounder, and got out of the inning.

    We've seen pitchers melt down in that situation. Johnny didn't. What he lakes in stuff, he makes up for with those balls!

    1) Austin Kearns: .120/ .185/ .120. Ouch. Hard to defend him, but at least he plays defense. Somewhat interestingly, in the last three/four games or so, he's showing signs of life. He was robbed of a hard hit at least twice. And he's starting to drive the ball a bit more. Sometimes you can have good results with bad outcomes. That doesn't win ballgames though!

    2) Wily Mo Pena: .238/ .304/ .238. Like Kearns, just without that pesky defense. He had a big hit yesterday, but he gave away a few more with his glove. Unless he's slugging .580, he's going to be a liability on the field.

    3) Jesus Colome: Four innings, Four runs. I cannot stand watching this guy pitch. He's allll over the place with his control, but the worst part is how S...l.......o.......w..........l.......y he pitches. When each AB takes nine pitches and each pitch takes three minutes, it makes for a dreadfully long game, especially when he's mostly being used in mopup roles, ie: "get the farkin' game over so I can get home already" time!

    MVP -- Wil Nieves!!!
    Cy Young -- John Lannan!!! (They're the greatest twosome since Proctor and Darling!)
    LVP -- Kearnsy. Please for God's sake get a hit before they bench you for Dukes.
    Joe Horgan Award -- Matt Chico. Yegods he blows.

    4/21: Duck to Chico for burying 'em early
    4/22: Whip to Lannan for being totally awesome
    4/23: Duck to Zimmerman for the o-fer with an E
    4/24: Whip to FLop for pulling that game out of his ass!
    4/25: Whip to Nieves for pulling that game out of his ass!!!
    4/26: Duck to Chico for sucking as per his usual
    4/27: Whip to Lannan for warming my heart in the cold! Seriously, why the feck didn't I bring a jacket???

    Atlanta and the Pirates. Glavine comes off the DL, and hopefully we'll retire him as we were close to doing last time we faced him! Then we get Jair "Dy-No-Mite" Jurrjens, who's actually been quite sharp. (I remember rumors of interest for him... was that in a deal for Cordero, or was that in the Soriano sweepstakes?)

    After that, it's the Pirates. Sure, they're better than they've been, but they're the feckin' Pirates! If we don't take two out of three, well, we might suck. (OK, we do anyway, but let me dream a little!)

    We sweep all six games, and we're within sniffing distance of .500! Woooo! Stay the course, Nats!!!

  • Friday, April 25, 2008

    It's A Funny Game!

    If you and your buddy were making picks of players to hit a walk-off, alternating players, where would Wil Nieves get picked? Last? Maybe just a pick ahead of the other Wee Willie, Harris? Man!

    Did you see that swing?! Up and away junk, and he swung high, driving the ball to right, a sorta excuse me swing that kept going and going and going and GONE! (As Lenny Harris would undoubtedly say as he's pointing at me and telling me to go feck myself, it was to the opposite field!) The ball just sorta floated and floated out there, and not until it cleared the wall did I think it was actually possible for it to leave! Amazing!

    Nieves has certainly had the week of his life! He's got a ton of energy back there, and you can just tell that he's dying to stay up, even if the chances of him repeating a week like this ever again are about as great as Kasten sending me a Christmas card.

    Wil Nieves!? Wil Nieves!? Not even he probably thought he could do it!

  • I'm tempted to forgo the afterglow for a deconstruction of Manny's borderline-incompetent strategy with the 8th inning, but we'll save it for another time. short version: STOP THE GODDAMN INTENTIONAL WALKS!!!

  • Scouting The Opposition

    I traded questions with Byron from Goat Riders of the Apocalypse, who's already relishing the prospect of a sweep. (Apparently he's seen Matt Chico pitch!)

    My answers to his questions are at that link up there ^^^

    His answers to my questions are down here vvvv

    The Nationals are cursed with a terrible TV play-by-play guy. What I've heard of Len Kasper, I've loved. But familiarity usually breeds contempt. Like him? Love him? Hate him?
    I think Len Kasper is great. When they got rid of Chip Caray, I was in favor of them hiring Dave O'Brien, but ESPN wouldn't let him go. This turned out great for us as we snapped Len away from the Marlins and he's well on his way to establishing himself as a Chicago legend. His best quality is that he doesn't take himself too seriously. He's open to new fangled things like discussing the relative importance of OBP to AVG (a huge step for the Cubs organization), and he has good chemistry with Bob Brenly. Len's also a fan of the blogosphere and periodically grants interviews to us lowly Cubs blogs.

    Assuming he ever makes it back on the field, is Soriano the answer at lead-off? Nats fans learned to appreciate what he did in that spot, even if it isn't ideal. Although with the way he goes fishing when men are on base, maybe it is! Any other thoughts on your big acquisition?
    As I'm sure you know, Soriano isn't the ideal leadoff hitter, but he's certainly one of the best eight hitters we have, and if he's comfortable at lead-off, I'm fine with him hitting there. Other Cubs fans find this to be a bigger stumbling block than I do, but I'm in favor of more offense, so I'll take it. Unfortunately, the leg injuries have reduced the stolen base threat, so he's a little less suited for it than when he put up the huge 40/40 numbers. As for other thoughts, like most fans we'd like to see him be a little more 'team oriented,' which I think would involve things like taking a few pitches and succeeding when Lou moves him down in the order. There's also the matter of his ginormous contract that goes until he's 52... but in the short term, I think most Cubs fans are pretty happy with him. (I like him a lot.)

    Sweet Lou doesn't seem to trust Rich Hill all that much. Is it just tough love, or is Rich really having issues?
    Rich had a good year last year. We (and Lou) know he's got promise, but Spring time came around and Rich was abducted by his evil twin Mitch. Mitch, as we all know, sucks. Mitch hangs curveballs with great frequency and is generally ineffective. Since it's been Mitch who's been doing most of the pitching this year, Lou's got a good reason to question his spot in the rotation... but if Rich ever escapes his brother's evil clutches for an extended period of time, just watch out - we might be going somewhere.

    Do you think you have a legit World Series contender? What's the one piece or role you think you need to improve the chances? (And while I'm at it, why does Bartman get all the blame when it's Alex Gonzalez who should be hanged from the flagpole in center?)
    No, this team is not a legitimate WS contender. We lack the front-line starting pitching necessary to get outs against good teams. The offense appears to be much improved from last year, the bullpen is solid(er), but if anything, the rotation took a step back over the winter. We have lots of depth in terms of fifth starters, but Zambrano is our only legitimate playoff quality starter. Ted Lilly would normally be qualified as such, but his early performance has been uninspiring. Ryan Dempster is pitching great so far, but considering his last good season as a starter was in 2000, I'll believe it when I see it. The rest of the rotation is Rich/Mitch Hill and Jason 'the Marquis de Suck.'

    On Bartman, he should have known better. But, if we're passing out blame, poor Steve is so far down on the list, it's sort of ridiculous. My list starts with Alex Gonzalez and includes Mark Prior, Dusty Baker, Moises Alou, and the rest of the Cubs roster before we even start considering ESPN, the Sun-Times, and poor ole Steve Bartman. The way I like to think of Steve is that he's me, but only luckier and not luckier at the same time. Bartman was a true-blue Cubs fan who was lucky enough to get great seats to game 6 of the NLCS, and unlucky enough to be dressed for the weather and listening to the radio rather than paying proper attention to his surroundings.

    Which is a better name? Carmen Pignatiello or Kosuke Fukudome?
    Fukudome. First, he's on the roster and sees significant playing time, so the opportunities to use his many nicknames are plentiful. (My favorite is the rather tame 'Fooky'.) Piggy on the other hand isn't that great, so when he is up at the big club, he's in mop-up duty. Other great Cubs names of the last few years? Angel Pagan, Rocky Cherry, and Buck Coats.

    Enjoy your sweep, boys!

    Better Approach

    The FIRE LENNY!!!! Chorus got a reprieve while they were running the Hudson/Smoltz/Santana gauntlet. No fair blaming him for something the rest of the league can't usually do against them.

    But they certainly looked like a new team out there yesterday. I didn't see those lazy opposite-field swings. And the six walks shows they were grinding out ABs. Perez threw 100 pitches in 5+ innings, another good sign. Now some of that is facing a wild pitcher, but it's also a sign that there seemed to be some sort of approach, a plan of attack.

    At the same time, think back to the biggest hits in the game. They pulled the freakin' ball for once, and the results showed. They went WITH the pitches instead of trying to aim their hits. The other good sign was all the shots (and this has been true for the last few games) back through the box and up the middle. When you're looking to turn on something for power, it's that soft stuff and those away pitches that you can adjust to and line back through the pitcher's gut.

    All good signs, and maybe an indication that Lenny's getting his ass in gear? Or just one of those things? Everyone coming out of a slump together, facing a so-so pitcher. The next week or two'll help answer those.

    Thursday, April 24, 2008

    Cut Him! He's A Bum! He Never Smiles!

    In the words of the noted philosopher Joey Eischen, "Suck on it and like it!"

    Random Thoughts While Waiting For Ray King's Release

    1) Nice crowd there last night. Though the place was dead. Not sure if it's the lousy team, the segregated seats or what, but the place really hasn't had much atmosphere in any of the games I've been to this year. At least the Mets fans were there to spice it up a bit.

    2) The lines for ticket-buyers were long, and plenty of people reported problems waiting half-an-hour in line. That's silly.

    I went around to the waterfront side, by the staircase entrance -- what a waste of a nice entrance -- and there's a small window there that was mostly empty.

    3) I took Metro home for the second time. Last time I do that. I live off the blue line in Alexandria. Once Colome came in the game, I left. Not gonna sit through his crap!

    So it was a 10-minute wait for them to close the doors at Navy Yard. A 20 minute wait for the Yellow line at Infant Plaza. Then a 11-minute wait for the blue line at Braddock Road. It took me ~75-90 minutes to get home. I'm driving next time. (There are parking spots within a ~15-minute walk)

    4) Any night with chili nachos is a good night. No, that's not quite right. Any night with chili nachos can't be truly terrible. The lines seemed relatively short. It seems like they've done a good job getting their handle on that, a bit.

    5) DO NOT GET THE FISH AND CHIPS. I REPEAT. DO NOT GET THE FISH AND CHIPS. That they're serving these things and charging $8.50 is a farking embarrassment. It's about 5 small, lipstick-sized tubes of fish sticks. Those are NOT fish and chips. I don't care if it's a flash-fried generic pressed-fish fillet, but what they're serving now is icky.

    6) I'm up in 405, and the seats aren't too bad. Can't say that I love them. But they could be worse. My seats are on one of the expansion joints, which they've covered with a giant piece of rubber -- basically a big floor mat. It's usually wet there, but the biggest problem is that the seats aren't quite level, and I'm pretty sure it's not my fat ass pushing it to one side.

    7) I like the improvements they've made to the scoreboard. The ball/strike pitch count thing is excellent. The pitch speed is great. The scoring decision is terrific -- although our scorer usually scores games drunk. I love the emphasis on on-base and slugging, especially on the ribbon boards -- though another location might be nice, perhaps at the other end of the ribbon boards?

    Last night, they started putting up 'fun' facts -- Did you know that Ryan Church is 9th in the league in runs scored? No? Nor did we care. That's fine once a game, but they kept it up intermittently, when they should've been recapping the player's previous ABs. (I'd also suggest a way for them to keep average/onbase/slugging on the main board somewhere, but I ain't gonna complain too much.)

    8) Last night, the PA guy started giving R/H/E/LOB totals as a recap at the end of each half-inning. Not sure I like that, or see the point of it, but whatever. Interesting that he now gives the score updates as much as Chuck!

    9) I really hate the ramps. They're graded too shallow, so it takes a good 5-10 minutes to walk up -- and I'm a fast walker. They've got the one escalator near the LF foul pole. Is there another? There should be.

    My biggest complaint about that, though, is the staircase. I'll take it down when I'm hunting for my chili nachos (it's tucked in a little alcove behind 3B opposite the elevator). But the doors are no reentry, so you can't get back up without taking the ramp or escalator. I don't know why they can't leave them open. If you need to post a guard, post one. they've certainly got enough ticket nazis around -- especially in those empty sections in RF. You so much look at the section and they're shooing you away! (I wish they'd spend more time not letting people back down into the seating sections until between innings or pitching changes)

    10) I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks.

    Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    Hey, How 'Bout Those Cherry Trees?

    Didja see them? They're Byooo-T-Full! And the PlayStation? Did you know we have one? You can build your own Screech even! C'mon up to the Red Porch! What's that? No, don't look over there towards the green grass! Come over here! Did you see Ben's chili bowl! No, don't look towards the mound! I implore you! See! We've got pretzels! They're shaped like our logo! A buck goes towards a good cause! No! STOP IT! Don't look over there! I warned you!

    {Ray King fields ground ball}

    Please! We have 1,400 concession sales points! We have cup holders! Cup holders! Look over here! Don't look that way!

    {Ryan Zimmerman bats}

    Noooo! Did you see the Capitol views???

    {Ryan Zimmerman fields groundball}

    Cherry trees? Try the cherry... awww fark it.

    {Colome enters game}

    So Does This Mean Stan Will Give Me A Refund?

    I heard this quote coming in, and Barry helpfully transcribes it:
    [W]e want to win every single night," Manager Manny Acta said. "But with the plan we have here, and what we're trying to accomplish here, an outing by this young man like that is worth three or four of those losses.

    Just when I was starting to feel sympathy for Manny's stomach lining...

  • Related news, Felipe has won his second base job back, which is a good thing. He's got a higher upside offensively than Belliard. And if early signs are indication, he'll have better range than Belliard, who's looked immobile at times over there. (His range factor and out-of-zone plays made (Zero!) are basically identical to the ancient Jeff Kent, who was never regarded as a defensive whiz back before he turned 50.)

  • And you've undoubtedly seen the news about Cordero. Clicking in the shoulder is never a good sign: torn or tearing labrum, perhaps? Either way, the course of action is probably going to be him getting shut down for 4-6 weeks. They'll certainly try rest regardless of diagnosis.

  • Edit: Those last two sentences are why you should never ever ever ever listen to a goddamn thing I write!

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    Someone Help Me

    What's it called when the Nats finish a game with more runs than the other team again? There's a word for it, probably a stat, even... anyone?

    Baseball's a great game sometimes.

    Nats were sending up a rookie against a should-be Hall-of-Famer (he's really one of my favorite pitchers to watch). The Nats were starting the all slap-hitting lineup with FLop, Guzman, Wee Willie Harris, and Wil Nieves. The "big" bats are all in the verrrrry low .200s.

    And they won?

    Sorta reminds me of last year. Remember Bergmann outdueling Smoltz a few times at about this same time last year [edit: ok, it came mid-May... sue me]? Right when the team looked like it was going to roll over, and float belly-up amidst the raw sewage in the Anacostia?

    Zimmerman had the KO punch in the 9th, driving a ball to the wall in right -- to clarify, I'm not against him hitting to the opposite field; the key is doing what he did: hit the bejeesus out of the ball. Earlier, though, he looked foolish, but you can hardly single him out nor blame him considering the opposing pitcher.

    That shot, though, was a good start. A sign, perhaps?

    We'll find out. Against Santana's changeup tomorrow, he's going to have to knock it back up through the box and, yes, sometimes to the opposite field. Easier said than done though!

    Monday, April 21, 2008

    Hitting Coach or Dr. Phil?

    Oh fercrissake
    "[The hitting] hasn't picked up like I thought it would pick up," [pathetically over-matched hitting coach Lenny] Harris said. "It is a mystery to me. The whole offensive team went from doing well to searching for a base hit. I guess that is a part of baseball. You live and you learn.

    "It could be personal reasons and could be something [that made them angry]. I try to talk to each and every one of them [on an individual basis]. I ask them, 'Are you OK? Are there any problems at home.' They tell me they are fine. Those are my guys and I ask them how do they feel. 'Don't go out there and press. Go out there and have fun. There is no pressure on you guys.'"

    Maybe if you bake them cookies, Lenny?


    For Your Game-Watching Pleasure

    Feel free to order a set of these for your next home game in the Capitol Punishment Web Store. I find they look especially nice in the $47 Red Porch seats.

    They really do come up with new and interesting ways to suck, don't they?

    Losing is one thing. Losing in such embarrassing fashion is something else. If Bowden had a soul, I'm sure he'd have a hard time sleeping. Instead, I'm sure he's too busy looking at himself in the mirror admiringly. Hey, it's those bum players' fault the team stinks, not his!

    Take It Outside

    The other day, we looked at Ryan Zimmerman's patience. The conclusion was that he's swinging at a lot more pitches, and making less solid contact. The numbers back up what the eyes are seeing.

    But what else can we see in the numbers?

    After looking at a few different sets of Zimmerman's 2008 stats and pitch-by-pitch results, it's pretty clear that what our eyes are seeing is right: he's going fishing, and has become far too opposite-field happy.

    Let's start with where he makes good contact:

    % of line drives to the opposite field:
    54% -- 2008
    29% -- 2007
    22% -- 2006

    But he's also having plenty of ABs where he's not making contact. Here's his total on all balls in play to the right side:
    38% -- 2008
    26% -- 2007
    23% -- 2006

    It's pretty clear from there that he's making an effort to go the other way. It's fine when he's hitting line drives, but he's basically hit the same number of grounders to right as he's pulled -- and grounders to the opposite field usually hop about thirty times. In '07, for example, he had about 100 more pulled grounders than opposite field ones. In '06, it was about 90 more. You can't consistently hit hard grounders to the opposite field, and it's a lot tougher to sneak them through. He needs to pull 'em, and he hasn't been as he did in previous years.

    So why's he making such poor contact?

    First, he's swinging at more pitches, 46% of the ones he sees vice 42% and 43% from the last two seasons. And of those, he's putting a greater percentage of balls he swings at in play, 50% versus 44% each of the last two years.

    In some ways, that's not necessarily bad. Hitting the ball instead of missing it isn't really a bad thing, but if the quality of the contact is low -- as those opposite-field grounders are, then there's an indication that he's swinging too much.

    But that's mostly stuff we saw last week. What's new, though, is that we can see how many would-be balls he's swinging at. Just 67% of the pitches he swings at are in the strike zone, down from 74% in his terrific '06 season.

    Further, the location of the balls he's swinging at has changed. 17% of his swings are at balls outside, away from him. Last year, he swung at just 7% in those situations. In '06, it was just 5%.

    He's swinging at 2-3 times as many pitches outside the zone this year than last. And, as we're seeing, it's leading to poor contact and lots of opposite field grounders.

    His weakness over the last two seasons was the low pitch. He swung at 12% of the low balls out of the zone he saw in each of those two seasons. He's dropped that a bit this year, which is good, but it's pretty clear he's changed his approach at the plate, whether consciously or unconsciously.

    The one thing we DO know, though, is that whatever change, it's been for the worse.

  • I spot-checked Kearns. 27% of his grounders this year have been to the other side. 14% of his grounders went to the opposite field last year and 11% in '06, although he's basically fishing away at about the same rate as his career... so who knows?

  • Nationals Journal takes a different approach. Favorite factoid: He's starting out with a first-pitch strike about 2/3 of the time.

  • The Way We Was: Week 3

    Seen any good movies lately? Got any recommendations for a nice strong drink? Does Giant charge if you want to take an extra paper bag home? What's the best way of measuring for proper eye hole height?

    They're actually a game behind last year's soul-crushing pace, as if that were possible. Fool me once...

    A 1-5 record in the week isn't anything to get excited about. But just keep in mind that 3 runs separates us from our current miserable state and a 16-game losing streak. But at least they're making money.

    Record: 1-5, 5-14 overall, 6-13 Pythagorean
    Offense: .191/ .288/ .278
    Most Similar Batter: Last year's Todd Walker, the one who retired in embarrassment.
    Pitching: .260/ .344/ .447, 4.58 ERA
    Most Similar Opposing Batter: Adam Laroche and his 60+ extra-base hits.

    1) Odalis Perez, 2 GS, 1.50 ERA. With 7 walks in 12 innings, the ERA isn't sustainable, but he's been good enough to win twice, but with this team, that means 0-1 for the week.

    2) John Lannan, 1.50 ERA, 11K, 0 BB. What a game that was, definitely one of the most impressive outings a Nats pitcher has had this year. He's now had 2 good outings, one bad one. This is the only one with a solid K/BB rate, so the jury's out. Just as you can't judge a team by their 3-0 start, you can't judge a pitcher by his best outing.

    3) Felipe Lopez (.385/ .467/ .462), led the team in Batting, On-base and second in slugging. One of the two bats to do anything this week, Lopez took a step forward to earning back his second-base job. He wasn't steady in the field, but it seems like he's showing a bit more range there than the almost immobile Belliard. Errors or range? I want both, dammit!

    1) The Pen. Colome was decent. Rauch didn't allow a run. Cordero survived and still hasn't allowed a run -- who knew 74 was so effective? King: 1 IP, 3 H. Hanrahan: Yuck. Rivera: Eventually rubber bands stop snapping back too. Ayala: 8+ BB/9.

    Here's the funny thing. Manny is overthinking his bullpen. Sure, the back-end has pitched like crap, but he's spazzing out over Cordero's injury, taking away one of his biggest weapons, Rauch. The strength of Rauch is his ability to throw just about every day. Yet, because Manny's reserving him for the leads that never comes, he's not getting used. He's on pace for just 68 games, down about 20 games from his pace of the last few seasons. And he's on pace for about 65 innings, about 25 or so fewer than his last few seasons.

    Is holding Rauch back for leads that never really come really worth losing 20 games and 25 innings of his pitching? It seems -- and I might just be pulling this out of my butt -- that Manny used Cordero much more liberally last year, not always holding him for the 3-run lead, but bringing him in to tie games home and away. Rauch -- despite some shaky performances early, perhaps because of his wife's pregnancy -- is the team's best reliever, yet he's not pitching. Seems like getting him more innings would be one way of improving the pen's performance, no?

    2) Ryan Zimmerman, .192/ .214/ .231. Nope. Nothing's wrong, Ryan. Keep doing what you're doing. It'll all work out. (In fairness, his last two games or so, it did seem like he was having slightly better ABs, even if the results weren't necessarily there)

    3) Wily Mo Pena, .136/ .174/ .136 and some of the worst OF defense we've seen since Preston Wilson was hobbling around the outfield like his britches were full of poop.

    Aren't you glad that Jimbo rushed him back from rehab now? You don't see that stupid prick crowing about how the team scores one more run per game with him in the lineup instead of Church, do you?

    MVP: Nick Johnson, 7 BB and 7 RBI. Good enough.
    Cy Young: John Lannan
    LVP: Zimmerman!!!
    Joe Horgan: Saul's 11.25 ERA sure ain't purty

    4/15: Duck -- Austin Kearns, GIDP? No way!
    4/16: Duck -- Ryan Zimmerman. If a runner needed stranding, he did.
    4/17: Duck -- Austin Kearns, 1 hit and a CS. Sigh. No DP though!
    4/18: Whip -- Nick Johnson! What's it called when your runners come all the way home and tough the plate again?
    4/19: Duck -- Ryan Zimmerman. #3 hitter? More like #2. (Yes, I'm a child)
    4/20: Duck -- Saul Rivera. Sure, Milledge should've caught the ball, but crap happens in the sun sometimes. That doesn't excuse the Hanrahan-like implosion that followed.


    Last week, I was willing to count it as a good week if the team's train didn't derail. With the Braves first (Smoltz and Hudson!?), then the Mets and Cubs coming to town, avoiding a 9-game losing streak would be this week's moral victory.

    Got a paper bag you can let me borrow?

  • Seriously?

    C'mon. We're better than that. (Consider the source, I know)

    I remember an episode of Iron Chef, when they brought the Iron Chefs to America for a few episodes. One of the shows featured one of the Iron Chefs going to a viewer's house to prepare a gourmet meal using nothing but the ingredients in the viewer's house.

    This being a typical American house, the cupboard was full of Hamburger Helper, cans of Campbell's soup, and that can of pumpkin pie filling that's been sitting in the back of the cupboard for the last three years, only because you haven't dumped it off at the food pantry yet.

    When the Iron Chef turned to the refrigerator, he was even more horrified. There was some milk, some cottage cheese, some brown lettuce, and that's about it. No fresh ingredients, nothing even resembling the raw materials a great chef can whip together, mixing ingredients in a way that make your taste buds tango.

    I still remember the quizzical yet horrified look on his face when he realized that the show's producers were expecting him to produce something gourmet out scraps.

    What he whipped together wasn't good. He winced when he tasted it. But it was probably (no, definitely) better than what you or I -- or the guy behind the stove at Chili's -- could whip together.

    That's sorta the position Manny Acta's in. He can only do so much with the crap he's being given. And for at least half those nights, he's had to do it with fewer ingredients than most because the team won't shit or get off the pot with their DL moves.

    Is he perfect? Probably not. But he's not the cause of the problem. He can only work with the Hamburger Helper and Ragu that Bowden, Kasten and Uncle Teddy have given him. Directing anger at him is anger focused in the wrong direction.

  • PS -- FIRE LENNY! (In his case, he's been given noodles, marinara, some capers and olives and managed to turn it into Spaghetti-Os)

  • Sunday, April 20, 2008

    We Suck AND Blow

    That was as embarrassing a half-an-inning of baseball as I've ever seen in my life.

    Manny ain't perfect, but if you're calling for his head, you're looking in the wrong direction.


    (It's a reflex at this point)

  • Walk Hard: The Manny Acta Story

    Just a quick thought...

    In yesterday's game, Manny Acta had Saul Rivera intentionally walk Josh Willingham. That was the Nats 12th Intentional Walk, which leads the league by three. They're on pace (and I know the dangers of using pace) for 108 for the year.

    Last season -- with basically a pitching staff of the same quality -- they intentionally walked 44 batters all year, 10th highest in the league, among a large group of teams in the 40ish range.

    Why the change in philosophy? What's different about this team or these situations that's causing Manny to turn into Bobby Cox after a bender? Why was intentionally walking so many batters last year a bad thing, but this year, it's a good thing?

    I'm not criticizing the decision to do it -- the Willingham play, for example, made sense -- but I am curious as to why.

    (For the record, I'm essentially agnostic on the value of the IBB. It has its purposes, though I don't think that leading the league in it is necessarily a good thing. The exception to my agnosticism is in the case of IBBing the bases loaded, which I hate Hate HATE HATE!!! But that's a rant for another time)

    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    My House Is On Fire; Let's Paint The Walls!

    Ummm... yeah.
    Nationals manager Manny Acta, concerned that injured infielder Dmitri Young's big, curly Afro was becoming too much of a distraction, told the injured first baseman after Thursday night's loss to the Mets to have his hair cut before he showed up for Friday night's game here.

    Young, who is protective of his locks, complied. He sported a more trimmed look when he surfaced at the clubhouse.

    Other than to passing birds, perhaps, what's the distraction?

    Was Austin Kearns staring at it while batting? Does it block Ryan Zimmerman's view of the slider a foot outside? Was his hair asking for its own locker or contract? Is this just some scheme to get him to drop a quick 10 pounds before tomorrow's weigh-in?

    Friday, April 18, 2008

    Oh, And Another Thing...

    (I forgot to get this in last night)


    We Suck

    I feel bad for John Lannan. Dude deserved better.

    I feel bad for Manny Acta. How the hell is he supposed to win a game against a better team in extras with a 23-man roster? Bowden keeps putting him into impossible situations with his transactional indecisions.

    Yay for Zimmerman, finally getting a couple of hits. The one late in the game was a terrific piece of hitting, a hard linedrive UP THE MIDDLE, not to the opposite field. That's what you do with the slop, not flip it the other way!

    Onward and downward!

  • When you're losing them, you've gone too far! The canary in the coal mine is undergoing a death rattle.

  • Thursday, April 17, 2008

    The Punchlines Write Themselves!

    The Lerners Are Making So Much Money...

    How much money?

    So much money that they're hiring two more accountants!

    See! It writes itself!

    If you apply, tell them I sent you. HAHAHAHHAHAHAHA

    For the Want of a Ball, the Kingdom Was Lost

    To the non-scout eye, it certainly seems like Ryan Zimmerman's pressing. His first swing against Joe Smith last night, when he hacked at a slider three feet outside the zone -- up there with Soriano's most embarrassing swings -- is emblematic of the difficulties he's had all year. I used to think that last year's aggressiveness was because he felt that he had to carry the team, but with the deeper lineup -- even if it's slumping -- he hasn't relaxed any, and he's still swinging early and often. Bad approach? Poor pitch recognition? Probably a bit of both. FIRE LENNY!!!

    Anyway, Manny Acta says he's not concerned. Zimmerman says he's not slumping. Fine, I guess. I just know what my lyin' eyes are telling me.

    And I can see what the lyin' stats are sayin' too.

    There's a section on his BBREF profile that says "Pitch Data Summary". Clicking on that brings up a wealth of stats -- plenty meaningless -- that show some of those aggressiveness problems.

    He's seeing about .5 a pitch less per plate appearance than last season. That doesn't sound like much, but it's a huge total. (The difference between Zimmerman last year and Nick Johnson's career is only about .2, and we drool over NJ's approach)

    He's seeing far fewer balls thrown against him, down about 4%. That could be pitchers pitching around him, but given who's batting behind him -- our one effective bat -- that seems less likely to me.

    He's dramatically improved his contact rate. When he swings the bat, he makes contact 85% of the time, up from the 80-81% range for his career. Consequently, the number of swinging strikes he's had has dropped. Now making contact isn't a bad thing in and of itself. But it entirely depends on the type of contact that's being made.

    His line-drive percentage has dropped for the third straight season (though it's essentially unchanged from last year). The biggest change is that he's hitting a lot more flyballs than in the past. (45% versus 37% for his career) Worse, a great number of those are the dreaded infield flyballs -- popups. An ungodly high 17% of the time he puts the ball in play, he's hitting a fly to the infield. Not good.

    He's making more contact, but it's poor contact. (Duh, huh? Anyone can tell that!)

    Few other interesting nuggets:

    He's swinging at about 10% more first pitches this year than last year, almost a third of the time he comes to the plate, he's hacking at that first pitch.

    He's had just one 3-0 count all year. He had 38 and 44 for the last two years, and we're about a tenth of the way into the season.

    This one's even more stunning. He's not even getting to 2-0 counts. He's had just three all year, about 5% of his plate appearances, down from 15% and 18% the last two seasons. After a 2-0 count, the league feasts, hitting an .295/ .520/ .501. If you get in a position where the pitcher HAS to throw you a strike, the advantage swings to the batter, big time! But he's not letting the pitcher fall behind, and he's playing into their hands.

    Same thing with 3-1 counts. He's had one. ONE! NJ has already had 7!

    Swinging at the first pitch isn't a bad thing in and of itself, especially when it's a get-me-over fastball. But too often, as he did against Joe Smith last night, he's swinging because, oh, it feel sooooo good. Well, he needs to knock it off! Don't worry about making contact or missing the occasional pitch.

    He needs to wait for the pitches he likes in the zones he likes 'em. When he gets it, swing from the heels. Your #3 batter should not be concerned with productive outs. Drive the runners in with a double! He's done it in the past, and he CAN do it again. He just needs to get this "be aggressive, go the other way, and get the ball in play" crap out of his mind. That's not his strength, and it's not what one of the team's biggest offensive threats should be doing.

    Stay The Course, Stan

    That's a heck of an off-field operation you're running, too.

    Someone -- before I go postal -- please tell me something this organization does right. Just one thing!

    Lead Him Off!

    Yesterday's sixth double play of the season is to make even the biggest Austin Kearns fanboy [raises hand] start to doubt. He's on pace (yay! fun with paces!) for 65 on the season. Somewhere -- not in the Hall of Fame -- Jim Rice is quietly rooting.

    Forget everything you know about Kearns and his expectations.

    Just look at what he is, has been, and is doing.

    He walks and smacks the occasional single. He hits the ball on the ground a lot, and is always a DP threat when there are runners on. He's basically the team's second best on-base guy.

    What would you do with a guy with that profile? Bat him leadoff dammit! He gets on base for the guys below him. He's not especially fast, but he's hardly a base-clogger. With the pitcher ahead of him, he's going to have fewer opportunities to hit into DPs. Walks are always good, but sometimes -- in the middle of the order -- you need a guy to put the bat on the ball and drive those guys in, and that's not something I'm sure he's capable of right now. (FIRE LENNY!!!!)

    Put him at the top of the order. Let Guzman hit second (he's driving the ball, but he'd bat left-handed most of the time and with Kearns on first after his walk, he'd have a bigger hole on the right side to drive the ball through). Zimmerman/Johnson, who cares? I know that's the grand messageboard debate now, but having the worse batter hit third actually makes sense according to some lineup theories.


    Works for me. Same guys, different order. Maximizing the things they do well. Hey, why not? Nothing else is working lately.

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    Not One Dime Of Profit!

    Forbes is out with their annual franchise valuations, and congrats to Uncle Teddy!

    The Nats are now worth about $10 million more than Uncle Teddy paid! And they led the league in operating profit! Huzzah! Huzzah!

    I'm just relieve that all $45 million of that projected operating profit is being plowed into our minor league system. We're going to have some TERRIFIC players! Hopefully that genetic modification lab in Columbus will pay dividends down the road.

    Here's the thing. In the next day or two michaeljackschmidtTim Lemke is going to write about this in the Times, and there's going to be the generic blow-off quote from Kasten. "They can't know our numbers. They're incorrect and based on some faulty assumptions." blah blah blah.

    OK, take him at his word. He's right, to some degree. The Forbes valuations do some guesswork, and make some estimates, so they're not 100% accurate.

    But here's the thing. Let's assume that they're off by 75%, a tremendously terrible error. The team STILL made $10 million!

    This team is rolling in dough!

    Sort of.

    This is the other key number, the revenue column. Our beloved Nats are down there with the dregs, near the bottom in revenue. That's the RFK factor. But as the column notes, in club seating and luxury boxes, the new park will generate about $20 million more for Teddy's panda-skin wallet.

    If we trust that $50 million in additional revenue from the Times article a few weeks back, that'd put the Nats in the $200 million in revenues, solidly in the top 10 or so.

    Sure, the numbers aren't to the decimal point, and they're not 100% accurate. But we're looking for relative numbers. And they all show lots of money going into the Lerner family net worth column, and the creation of lots of 'equity' within the franchise. Good for them.

    But as I'm watching Matt Chico get bombed like it's 2007, bad for us.

    Problem Solved

    Catcher goes down? Offense is offensive? Easy answer!

    Make a callup from the minors!

    Wait a minute! WAIT A GODDAMN MINUTE!!!!!!

    I HATE THIS GODDAMN TEAM! If Stan Kasten were capable of feeling shame (he's a lawyer, remember), he'd be doing the honorable thing by throwing himself off the Wilson Bridge!!

    Don't Jump...


    We know what's wrong. What's going right? (We all need a little more sunshine in our lives!)

    1) Nick Johnson is healthy! And look at that .420 on-base percentage!

    2) Cristian Guzman has power! A .556 slugging! A .223 isolated power, and those power swings are legit!

    3) Lastings Milledge looks great! He really is a fun player to watch, slashing swing, just enough power to be interesting, and just a tiny bit of swagger. Has the team had a player more fun to watch?

    4) Doubles power! They're 4th in the league!

    5) Saul's arm hasn't fallen off! Other than the one game against Philly, he's been pretty solid.

    6) Chad Cordero hasn't allowed a run this season!

    7) Matt Chico looks like he might've turned a corner! His velocity's up. His control is better. He's allowing fewer homers.

    8) Three out of four of Odalis Perez's starts have been pretty good!

    9) Tim Redding, well, he's not been terrible!

    10) Ryan Zimmerman hasn't made a throwing error all season! (Thanks, Nick!)

    11) Nats second basemen have been errorless, too! (Thanks, Nick!)

    12) By Zone Rating, Nick Johnson has been the fourth best fielder at 1B.

    13) By Zone Rating, Ryan Zimmerman's the favorite to win the Gold Glove!

    14) Austin Kearns has made the 4th best % of in-zone plays of any RFer in the league, and laps the competition with 17 plays made outside the regular RF zone, 7 more than his closest competition.

    15) Jesus Colome has allowed just a .227 slugging average against.

    16) 2 of the 6 stolen bases allowed by the Nats came against Joel Hanrahan, so maybe the defense hasn't been as bad as it's looked.

    17) Jon Rauch's and Luis Ayala's ERAs are higher than they should be given their BB/K/HR numbers allowed, meaning they've pitched better than it's looked.

    18) In high leverage situations (those that are most critical to the game's bottom line), Lastings Milledge is hitting .500/ .545/ .625

    19) When our right-handers pull the ball, they hit .443/ .443/ .729, when they hit to the opposite field, they hit just .213/ .213/ .298. FIRE LENNY!!! (sorry, I was trying to stay positive, but I couldn't help it)

  • Sure, they suck, but there have been some good things!

  • Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    Anyone know if it's registered?

    Hell, bring back Tom McCraw! I'm sick of this aggressive to the opposite field approach!

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    The Way We Was: Week 2

    This is rock bottom right? Like last year, it has to get better.

    Look at the team's batting stats. Only Nick Johnson and Lastings Milledge are doing about what we expected. Guzman is exceeding expectations, but other than those three, every other batter is stinking up the park to some degree. One of these days, one or more of them is going to hit. Water, as the ol' cliche goes, finds its level, and right now we're at about 19,999 leagues.

    But a win is a win, and while a 9th win in a row is certainly sweet, one ending a 9-game losing streak tastes pretty good too. (Just be prepared for the heartburn later)

    Record: 1-5
    Overall: 4-9
    Offense: .216/ .315/ .330, 3.5 runs per game.
    Most similar batter to the team's offense: '07 Omar Vizquel
    Pitching: .295/ .366/ .518, 5.67 ERA
    Most similar batter to the team's pitching: '07 Aaron Rowand


    1) Cristian Guzman! (.400/.407/ .720) Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed it possible. For, with a 3-ball count -- a rarity with Mr. Guzman itself -- the professional hitter took a fourth ball! And lo! He hath walked! Onward trudged the nimble batter taking his rightful base. And thus endeth the streak.

    Finally, his batting average is lower than his on-base percentage, right where it should be. He had a bit of a power stroke this week, whipping the bat through the zone and driving it down the lines. Good for him. The more he turns on those pitches, the harder he'll hit the ball, instead of playing pepper as he has in the past. Just hit the ball hard, and good things happen!

    2) Matt Chico! (8 innings, 1 run) Had I not seen it with my... Oh, I used that one already. What an outing! Just when it looked like Bowden was going to drive the ball-throwing lefty to Columbus, he whipped out this one, which when combined with Bergmann's chokejob, has stayed his execution.

    Chico has now walked just 4 batters in about 20 innings, a dramatic improvement. I'm not completely sold that he has firm command of those pitches, but the accompanying 12 K isn't a terrible total. Better yet, he's just allowed 2 homers, which was his typical total every four innings last year.

    Better control. Fewer homers. Passable K-rate. Might he **gasp** be turning a corner? The next few starts'll let us know!

    3) Lastings Milledge! (.364/ .400/ .500) Ryan Church, who? OK, so he's been a bit shaky in the field from time to time, but I'm not sure that 2 weeks is enough time to get a strong reading one way or another. He's not Nook Logan with the glove, but neither is he with the bat!

    He looked like he was too aggressive early in the season, but he's settled in to a more patient approach, and the results have come. What'd you think of his baserunning decision yesterday? Seems like that's a realllly smart play, if poorly executed. He didn't get a good jump off Chipper's throw, which cost him half a step, and the out. (even if the ump is blind!)


    1) Ryan Zimmerman (.136/ .231/ .182). Not all strikes are good strikes to hit dammit!

    2) Austin Kearns' contact ability (.167/ .375/ .167). I love the batting eye, but, man, he's got less power than Tim Redding. What is it? Just a slump? Doesn't seem that way, cause I can't think of too many plays where he's been robbed (as there were early last year when he started similarly cold). I still have faith, but those stones sure look like they'd make good bread.

    3) Jason Bergmann (14.14 ERA). I've obtained this secret training footage of Bergmann tossing between starts.

    (again measured by WPA, which is the % change to the team's chances of winning the game)

    +23%, 4/13: Brian McCann's fly to right with the bases loaded in the 9th inning, which ended the game and the losing streak!
    +16%, 4/10: Nick Johnson's booming double in the 9th inning, which put him (the tying run) in scoring position in what looked like a sure Nats comeback (HA!)
    +11%, 4/10: Ron Belliard's homer down the line early in that game. (It's a rough week when your 3rd best play is a 3rd-inning solo homer!)

    -34%, 4/10: Paul LoDuca's game-ending GIDP, off the Marlins closer, and with the tying run on second.
    -23%, 4/7: Hanley Ramirez' big three-run bomb off Tim Redding, in an inning he should've been out of, but wasn't, thanks to a hit by the opposing SP
    -19%, 4/7: Amezaga's two-run double a few batters earlier. With first base open, Redding made a mistake, and the team paid.

    MVP: Cristian Guzman
    Cy Young: Matt Chico
    LVP: Ryan Zimmerman
    Joe Horgan: Rauch was ugly (save for yesterday's one out), but I can't overloook Bergmann's 14.14!

    4/7: Duck to Redding. Sure, 6 of the 7 were unearned, but you can't fault the last 4 or 5 entirely on the defense.
    4/9: Duck to Bergmann. We can definitely fault all 7 of those to him!
    4/10: Duck to Kearns. Two double plays!?
    4/11: Duck to Rauch. Poor Matt Chico.
    4/12: Duck to Lannan. The whole team slept walked, but Lannan put them to sleep after that first inning.
    4/13: Whip to Milledge! Finally!

    Three in New York (BOOOO!) and three in Florida. At this point, I'll be happy if their train doesn't derail. Moral victories. Take 'em where you can get 'em.

  • Saturday, April 12, 2008

    I Am Not An Animal!

    Waaaaah! Waaaaah! Waaaaah!

    What Game Is He Watching?

    I know it's hard to watch the TV when you're actually swinging the bat, but...
    Is third baseman Ryan Zimmerman struggling at the plate, or merely the victim of bad luck and tough pitching? Acta believes it is the former. "He's chasing a lot of bad pitches," Acta said.

    "He's falling into the other team's pitching plans, which is taking his power away. He's struggling right now."

    However, Zimmerman disagreed, saying, "I feel fine. I'm hitting a couple of balls hard each night. . . . I'm not up there swinging at balls and striking out a lot. I'm having good at-bats and battling, and we've just run into some tough pitching."

    Strikeouts are the devil!!!! Not quite. That he thinks that strikeouts in and of themselves are the thing to avoid above all else, tells you that there's something wrong with the philosophy. The point isn't to make contact. The point is to get a pitch you SHOULD hit, not any pitch you CAN hit. Yes, he's swinging at strikes, but he's swinging at pitcher's pitches and tapping them weakly to the infielders or hitting harmless flyballs. (He's doing a lot more of the latter than he has in the past, too)

    Really, that's been the biggest problem with the team over the last however many days. (It's been 40 days, right?) They're not especially patient, and making contact with too many 'bad' strikes, instead of waiting for the pitcher to make a mistake they can hammer. Sure, that's a bit easier said than done, and it won't happen on every AB, but you can't tell me that we've run into a buzz saw of pitching each and every single game. What's the lawyer-talk term? Contributory negligence?

    I wonder how much of this is Lenny Harris. Harris was a pinch-hitter extraordinarie who thrived because he knew how to make contact, to hit those strikes, put them in play, and get that runner in, or move him up. Half his job was about making 'good' outs, not necessarily stroking the ball into the gap for the bases-clearing double. While I'm not sure that he's teaching that 'hit the first strike you see' philosophy (and I have no idea how he is on the mechanics of swings, which is really where the hitting coach can have an impact -- though the jury is still out there, considering some of the slumps some have had over the last year and a half), it certainly seems that he's not doing a whole lot to discredit this philosophy.

    I'm glad that Manny recognizes that the approach is wrong. It's too bad his players... his star players don't realize it.

    Friday, April 11, 2008

    One More Complaint

    (and then I'll write something positive about the stadium, I promise!)

    If your row is goddamn empty, you DO NOT NEED TO SIT IN YOUR EXACT SEATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Here's a picture. X is a person. * is my fat ass. 0 is an empty seat.

    This is what I walked in to last night.


    Two people walk in and where do they have to sit? Yep. Right there next to me and my friend. So we slid down up against the sweaty people to our right, so the hotdog-eating princess can squeeze her ass in next to me. It's an empty goddamn section!

    (Oh, love the standing room around the field, but, please, for the love of Kearns, get some of those railing counters like they have in Philly -- the kind Nats park has at the beer pen area near the scoreboard. It's hard balancing your chili nachos on a railing!!!)

  • More complaints and suggestions in the comments here.

  • Thursday, April 10, 2008

    Hey, D-Bag

    And whose job is it to do that, jerkoff?

    “You’re not watching our pitching staff? The decisions are really easy. It’s simple: Get me better pitching,” the GM said. "

    He goes on to complain about how much worse the pitching is doing this year.

    First, this year: 4.71 ERA (before tonight's game). Last year, 4.58. Factor in RFK, and there's really not a damn bit of difference. It's the shame shitty pitching staff. What the fuck did he expect?

    While he's at it, he damn well better release that loudmouth sack of shit, Lo Duca. The tramp-humper TALKS a good game, but unless he's going to load up his fat ass with more horse steroids, he can't hit or field worth a feckin crap. I was on the 'it's ok to go without Flores' bandwagon, but screw it. Cap'n SuckAss ain't cutting it.

    StanSpeak: A Continuing Series

    The patented StanSpeak translator works not just with our heady Team President, but with all of baseball's major figures, including our very own beloved owner to the north, Mr. Peter "C. Montgomery" Angelos (file photo). (You might remember him from the late-night asbestos ads in between episodes of The People's Court at 2 AM)

    Anyway, the cheery and (did I mention?) much-beloved owner (file photo) spoke to the Baltimore Sun. So let's run his (file photo with Fred Manfra) remarks through the ol' StanSpeak translator.

    "There's no law against visiting the other franchise. In fact, were it not for the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees fans visiting our ballpark, our seasonal attendance would be 1/3 of what it was" Angelos said in an interview with The Sun.

    "Originally, I said [Washington and Baltimore] were very close to each other, which I have since confirmed by looking at a map" Angelos said. "But nonetheless, it is the nation's capital, and the team is there, and it ought to be supported [isn't the passive voice wonderful?], and hopefully, both franchises will provide successful baseball, although success to me is defined by my profits -- come to think of it, so is the Nats -- so I'm hoping to expand to 40 games played against divisional opponents next season."

    "We (my bankers and me) definitely want them to succeed," Angelos said of the Nats. "We're partners (hahahahaha, in a forced marriage sense) in the MASN baseball network [ed: apparently he hasn't heard about the Eastern Carolina University Coach's show!!! Or Anita Marks!!!], and we have an excellent relationship with the Lerner family, one that involves me taking everything I can from them, and with Stan Kasten, who is an old friend of mine." [ed: Anytime a scumbag lawyer says "friend", tighten your sphincter and back away slowly]

    "I think the park is going to be very popular if their cheap owners every invest in the on-field product [ed: OK, that was me]. Some of the money-making features are really good, and I wish we had thought of them." Angelos said. He continued, "But did you see those garages? Yeesh!"

    The Orioles had a record-low announced crowd of 10,505 for a game last week.

    "That's an example of the weather having a very depressing effect on attendance, and not my inability to put a winning team on the field since I stumbled into some good luck in '97, a decade ago," the owner said. "We would have had very substantial crowds, the way we've been playing, had it not been for the weather. In fact, I'm pretty sure we would've sold out the game, all 48,000 seats had it been 80-something. I mean, who doesn't want to watch a Devil Rays and Orioles game?. I know that this was our second game of the year, and that we were 0-1, but dammit, the stupid fans should have realized that we were going to win six in a row and responded accordingly! Stupid, ungrateful fans. ::eats baby::"

  • Thanks to the Enquirer for the link!

  • Warming Up In The Pen

    OMG writes what I was thinking. As usual.

    Wednesday, April 09, 2008



    Gameday: Fish Stink Underwater

    Jason Bergmannnnn gets to play stopper today, going up against Scott "Jimmy" Olsen and the Florida Marlins.

    In his last outing, Bergmann pitched well before fading late against a tough lineup. The Fish lineup isn't quite as good, but it's still dangerous. Bergmann is a bit lucky in that it only has two solid left-handed batters (un-DLed -- for another day, at least -- Jeremy Hermida, and Mike Jacobs). Righties always have a harder time with Bergmann's breaking pitches... Although he was quite effective against the lefties in the Phillies' lineup with a quality changeup (a change that puts less stress on his arm than the slurvier pitches.)

    Olsen has all the maturity and temperament of a colicky blogger. Olsen's had one good season, one bad one. A left-hander, he relies mostly on a 88-91 fastball, with an ok slider. He'll throw the changeup -- likely his out pitch -- against righties.

    He has so-so control, and loves to give up the long ball. If the Nats are patient, and don't chase pitchers' pitches, this could be the night the bats realllly break out.

    Watching? Listening? Grumbling along as Johnny Estrada hits into a DP with the bases loaded? Then kibitz along with other disgruntled fans.

    More Fanny Numbers

    OMG crunches some more attendance numbers, looking at weeknight games later in homestands, as some of you demanded in comments to my last post. He has a few other ways of looking at it, and it's worth checking out.

    Go bitch at him for being negative, too. Why does he have to report silly facts? Can't he just have happy opinions? :(

  • To clarify, I don't think that DC is a terrible baseball market. And I don't think that 20K fans on Monday night is a completely terrible thing. I'll regurgitate here what I wrote at Primer about it:


    You've got cheap owners.

    Rancorous DC politics.

    Salivating media, assuring us that traffic was going to grind to a halt as if DC were overcome by a Buffalo snowstorm.

    and cheap owners.

    Add it up, and it's not unreasonable.

    DC is a fickle market. There's a limited pool of natives, most of whom were at the game. The rest are the transients from all over the country. Why should they give up their teams, the ones they grew up with, for this crapbag team?

    When the team wins, they'll draw. Just as they did in mid-2005. When they stink on ice -- as they have SINCE mid-2005 -- nobody cares. I don't think that's a bad market. I think that (in some ways) is a smart market.

    I'm GLAD the team isn't being rewarded for dropping payroll below a level that MLB ran it at while moving into a new stadium. I'm GLAD that the team isn't being rewarded for calling Odalis Perez and Paul Lo Duca its big FA acquisitions. And I'm glad they're not being rewarded for trying to pass of their motley collection of future 4th starters as a burgeoning rotation, the next Smoltz and Glavine.

    Stan Kasten has repeatedly said that "we'll get the attendance we deserve." He's right. They don't deserve crap with their pisspoor efforts on and off the field. /fanboy_rant

  • That might be negative, in some ways (and yes, there's the CHEEEEP! cheapshot, but deal), but in other ways it's something positive. The market can and will succeed once there's something worth getting excited about. Anyone who remembers June 2005 and the blitzkrieg that overcame the A's (among others) can attest to that.

  • To the anonymous commenter from ages ago: HERE'S YOUR ANSWER!!!!111!!!!!!

  • Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    A New Record!

    Congratulations go out to Stan Kasten, the Lerner family, and the entire Washington Nationals organization! Last night, they set the modern MLB record for smallest crowd in the second game of a new facility. Let's give 'em a round of applause!

    20,487 is the lowest, and it's not just because of the weather or because of the night, or the opponent.

    Detroit drew 21,405 in their second game in 44 degree weather. First pitch for the Nats game was 50 degrees. The worst weather goes to Cleveland, which drew 34,087 to their second game, despite 45 degree temps. 36,420 Fans of the Chicago White Sox braved 42 degree temps and 20 MPH winds for their second game. The only other game in the 50s temperature-wise was the one in Philly (55 degrees), which drew 37,512 robust souls.

    Every other franchise's second game (going back to the opening of SkyDome) drew more than 39,000 fans for their second game.

    Other excuses? Want lousy opponents? How 'bout the Brewers? They've been the opponent for three second games, with an average attendance of 43,874.

    Want other weeknight games? Other than those aforementioned Detroit (wednesday night) and Cincinnati (wednesday night)crowds, the next lowest goes to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates and their 35,045.

    Anyway you slice it, the Nats are at the bottom, joining other dreg franchises like Detroit and Cincinnati. We've got plenty of castoffs from the latter. We better pray for a resurgence like the former. Meanwhile, we're getting the attendance we deserve, as Mr. Kasten assured us we would.

    Monday, April 07, 2008

    Plenty Of Good Seats Available

    Kasten's quote, "We'll get the attendance we deserve," certainly looks true tonight.

    He doesn't seem too concerned.

    I'll give him the miserable weather, but here's a question for you. Is there anyone out here reading this who REALLY decided to stay home solely because they wanted to watch the basketball game? Anyone at all?

    I guess that this doesn't count as one of the many sellouts he was predicting mentioning as purely hypothetical possibilities.

    Gameday: Redding For Real?

    Tim Redding strolls back out to the mound, trying to prove that his upped velocity is the reason why he has success last week, and that he really is for real -- even with meh BB and K numbers. He faces off against Florida's Andrew Miller, one of the key pieces of the Cabrera/Willis trade.

    Miller's a tall, lean left-handed pitcher whose draft-day demands dropped him a few spots to the Tigers at 6 in 2006. Despite his pedigree, he's had little major-league success, though that's in fewer than 80 innings.

    He throws a low-90s fastball, complimenting it with a cutter/slider (depending on who you believe!) and a change. With as righty-heavy as the Nats lineup is, that change is going to get a lot of work. Control has been a bit of a problem for him, so the Nats better have their walking caps on. If they don't have their good eyes working (and even if they do), there's a chance for lots of Ks -- assuming the Marlins all-world terrible defense doesn't do him in.

    Watching? Listening? Complaining? Join in on the fun over here with your fellow fanatics.

    The Way We Was: Week 1

    Seven games in, and how do you feel? Yeah, me too. You can't call it a roller coaster, because those usually have more than one hill. This is a free fall out of a helicopter. But, as the old mantra goes -- and longtime readers are certainly sick of hearing it -- you're never as good as you look when you're winning, nor as bad as you look when you're losing.

    You need to take a look at the long view. Be a fan with your heart each day, but take a step back and look at the trends a little more coldly.

    What did we notice this week? Bad clutch hitting. Good gap power. Shaky bullpen performances (and usage). Meh starting pitching. Short-handed rosters. Indifferent defense. Add it up, and 3-4 sounds about right.


    1) Nick Johnson! (.304/ .385/ .565) Rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated. He came out of the ol' chute on fire, hitting and walking up a storm. What impressed me the most, though, was how fearless he's been on the base paths. Not an especially fast runner, he's probably one of the team's two or three best base runners, and he's always willing to take that extra base, which is refreshing. He's not worried about his leg, a good sign that he's back to normal.

    2) Tim Redding! His 7-inning one-hitter was the 18th most effective outing by a Nats starter since the move. Only his lack of strikeouts (just 3) prevented that from moving up the ranks. But considering how it came against a potent Phillies lineup in that park, it probably should rank a bit higher.

    3) Ryan Zimmerman's power! (.548 slugging) It's hard to complain with those two big homers, both of which one a game (one literally, one virtually!). But... He hasn't walked once. His on-base percentage (.281) is actually lower than his batting average (.290). He's taking too many swings at pitchers pitches, and not driving the ball like he could were he to wait a bit. Last year, we thought it was because he was trying to do too much, to carry the team. This year? Well, maybe that's just who he is. If he is going to take that next step, though, he's going to have to draw 70+ walks a year. Otherwise, he'll just be a good, not great, player.

    1) Acta's bullpen management. Yes, Cordero's injury has hurt his options. Yes, being a man short (although still carrying a full pen), has helped limit what he wants to do. But he's still making some curious decisions. We've been over the Ray King thing. King's not a terrible pitcher, if you limit him to what he does well: get lefties out. He's facing too many righties. Sure, a LOOGY still needs to get a righty out occasionally, but they typically aren't brought in to face righties or switchies as Acta has done with King.

    It's interesting, too, in that through seven games, Jon Rauch has just two innings pitched. I know he's the closer, but Acta never feared bringing in Cordero late in close games, even on the road. He didn't limit Cordero to save-only chances because he knew that he needed to use his best reliever in the most critical situations. The early indication is that he's reverting to a mid-90s-style (and outdated) closer usage pattern. That's a step back.

    2) Matt Chico (5.56 ERA). Is there much of a question that he should be the one to go down once Shawn Hill is healthy? I'm somewhat impressed that he's cut the walks down (2.4 per 9) and upped the K total (7.2 per 9), but he's getting hit. The leg kick might've helped his control a bit, but I'm not sure he has real command of those pitches -- the ability to hit his spots with the pitch he wants at the moment he wants it. You can be wild in the zone, and that's what it seems is the case with Chico. Other bright side: just one homer... so far. There are some reasons to be optimistic, I suppose.

    3) Shortstops. For all the ripping (deserved, really) FLop's performance gets, Cristian Guzman has been equally bad. The Nats don't really have a great shortstop option. Guzman's hitting an empty .265 and skating off the memory of a big game or two. As OMG points out, though, a few of his hits are of the seeing-eye variety. They count, but hanging your hat in the future on luck is an iffy proposition. Watching Lopez' approach, there's not much more to like. He's generally a bit more patient, but it seems to be either weak flyballs or strikeouts -- the Wil Cordero approach. I can't imagine his leash is much longer than another fortnight.

    We're using WPA, a measure of the change in winning percentage of individual events based on what's actually happened in baseball history. ie: a solo homer in the top of the first isn't worth as much as one in the bottom of the 9th. And one in the bottom of the 9th is worth more if the game is tied than if the home team is down by 20.

    3) 3/31 -- Austin Kearns' 2-Run Double, +24%. Facing Bret Myers, the Nats were down by 2 in the top of the 5th. Zimmerman hit a sac fly to score the first run, and Nick Johnson walked, loading the bases. Kearns' double scored two, giving the Nats the lead, and he would later be driven in by Paul Lo Duca, giving the Nats a 4-2 lead in a game they eventually won.

    2) 3/31 -- Nick Johnson's game-untying double, +37%. They won that Kearns' game after the bullpen blew it because Nick Johnson drove in Lastings Milledge in the top of the 9th, the first of 5 runs in an 11-6 win.

    1) 3/30 -- Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off, +46%. Not a bad way to open the park, huh? Two outs, national audience, and a crowd that was demanding a hit. And he delivered!

    3) 4/3: Wee Willie Harris' bases-loaded groundout to end a rally in the 9th, -18%.
    2) 3/30: Paul Lo Duca's passed ball/ Jon Rauch' wild pitch, -26%. Whatever. You need to take the bad to have the good.
    1) 3/31: Ray King's HR allowed to Jimmy Rollins, -29%. King turned a 6-4 lead into a tie game in the bottom of the 7th. Ouch.

    MVP -- Nick Johnson, the team's most consistent hitter this week.
    CY Young -- Tim Redding. Hard to argue with that outing.
    LVP -- Felipe Lopez. Thanks for nothing, jerk.
    Joe Horgan -- Jesus Colome. Someone's itching to have the award named after him!

    We're bringing back the ducks! Majority Whip goes to the player who inspired the team to victory, carrying the team on his shoulders. Lame Duck (since this is Washington, and individuals must be singled out for blame when the massive bureaucracies fail) go to the person who crapped the best the most.

    3/30: Whip to Zimmerman! Saul was key, but you can't argue with a walk-off.
    3/31: Whip to Johnson! Kearns had two RBI, but I'll take NJ's two runs scored.
    4/2: Whip to Redding! Can he continue to succeed with such a poor K/BB ratio?
    4/3: Duck to Zimmerman! Rivera stunk, but Zimmerman's 0-6 (including some key ABs) didn't help.
    4/4: Duck to Perez! I suspect this won't be his last.
    4/5: Duck to Jesus! Yeah, he hit the homer, but that doesn't absolve all his sins.
    4/6: Duck to NJ! Rough game. Lannan deserved better overall.

    3 against the Marlins (yawn) before three against the Braves. Looks like we'll get Smoltz and Glavine, which should make Kasten misty-eyed. What's your guess? 2/3 then 1/3? 3-3 sound good?

  • Sunday, April 06, 2008

    Hot Beef Injection

    Dmitri Young got a shot (cortisone? elephant gun?) in his back, and should be out for another few days, continuing to handicap Manny Acta. A trip to the DL doesn't seem likely at this point. Remember when Bowden said -- with a straight face -- that Dmitri's extension would actually make it easier to trade him?

    I've got sources inside the team, and they've provided me with this exclusive shot of Dmitri's medical treatment. I just wonder if the maple syrup is really an appropriate choice for a diabetic?

    Saturday, April 05, 2008

    What Am I Missing?

    I missed today's game, thankfully, but this is what I see:

    Bottom 8, Nats just pulled to within 2 and Jesus Colome comes back out for his second inning of work.

    Two outs before the inevitable walk.

    LaRussa pinch-hits for his starting pitcher, bringing in left-handed slugger Chris Duncan. Duncan walks. Two on, two out.

    Up comes switch-hitter Cesar Izturis, and Acta brings in left-handed specialist Ray King. Walk. Three on, two out.

    PB, run scores.

    King gets the left-handed Skippy Schumaker out. Inning over, run in.

    Two questions.
    1) Why would Acta not bring in the left-handed king to face the left-handed power threat, Duncan, especially if he's going to just bring him in a batter later.
    2) Why would Acta continue to bring his left-handed specialist to face a would-be right-handed batter, despite almost no evidence that The Whopper can get them out?

    Am I missing something? What's the rationale behind that series of decisions?

    Friday, April 04, 2008

    Put Brimley On Speed Dial

    Poor Manny Acta. He's playing with a 23-man roster again tonight. Chad Cordero's still out, and Dmitri Young is still too fat to play. He's on his way back here to DC to get his back checked out.

    While I have some sympathy for the illness he's dealing with, it can't be an excuse for every bad thing that's happened in his life. He's done well to deal with the ugly off-field crap from two years ago. He needs to do a better job about taking care of himself, which is something -- diabetes excuse or not -- he obviously hasn't done.

    For as great as his season was last year, he still missed a bunch of time with little nagging fat-related injuries: stresses, strains, pulls, etc. And he handicapped the team at times, being limited to a pinch-hitting role and subjecting us to unhealthy doses of Robert Fick.

    Tonight, Acta doesn't even have that option, and his bench is Flores, Boone, Harris and Mackowiak. Manny deserves better treatment than that! FLope better hit tonight!

    Gameday: Nats At Cardinals

    Bob Carpenter is in heaven, as he returns to see his beloved St. Louis Cardinals play his employer's team.

    Odalis "Not Oliver" Perez faces off against Braden Looper, the goofiest looking pitcher since Kirk Reuter.

    Looper was moved to the rotation last year after the previous 9 seasons as a reliever. He wasn't great, but he gave the Cards some innings. His weakness throughout his career (as any Met fan can attest) has been his inability to get left-handed hitters out. (career: .299 .361 .463 -- Think Ryan Zimmerman). This bodes well for Nick Johnson, and perhaps Felipe Lopez, who looked especially terrible with the bat yesterday.

    He's got a wide assortment of mediocre pitches. But he's mainly a sinker/slider type pitcher. Look for the changeup against the lefties, and the occasional splitter.

    Watching? Listening? Come join other fellow obsessives over here, as we complain about Bob Carpenter, MASN's graphics, and why we're not getting any feckin hits off that crapbag pitcher!!!!!

    Beautifully Ugly

    Lots to like. Lots to hate. Here come some random thoughts.

  • Bergmann was really quite effective, despite his final line (owing quite a bit to some spectacularly bad relief pitching). At first, I thought his velocity was down, but I realized that was just the two-seamer he was working on. He dialed it up to his typical 93ish range occasionally, when he switched to the four-seamer.

    His bread and butter pitch, though, was the change, which had a ton of movement yesterday. I'm not sure that the Phillies made contact with it, as it dived down and away from all their left-handed batters. If his change continues to develop, he's got a chance, as he had pretty big splits against LHB through his career. It should also (although it's not as effective against RHB) allow him to cut down on the number of breaking pitches he throws, which should help save his arm a bit.

    Here's where earned runs and ERA can sometimes be screwy. When he left, there were runners on first and second with one out. Should he really be held accountable for that runner on first because the guy behind him couldn't do his job? Runner on first and one out, he shouldn't score. Seems like that run's as much as Saul's fault as anything. Anyway...

  • Manny didn't have his greatest game today. It was pretty clear that Saul had nothing. Sure, the bats let us know, but he had zero command of his pitches, and Flores was reaching for everything. Oh well.

  • To relieve Saul, Acta threw a giant rubber tire on the pile, letting it burn and stink up the park. In his two years as manager, Acta has continuously misused Ray King and it has continuously burned the team.

    Ray King should ONLY face left-handed batters. He cannot get right-handed pitching out, and he should not be used to turn switch-hitters around. Time and time again he fails.

    2007 against RHB: .311/ .407/ .568
    2007 Chase Utley: .333/ .410/ .566

    2007 against LHB: .187/ .284/ .347
    2007 Tony Pena Jr: .267/ .284/ .356

    Think about that. When he's facing a righty, the everage batter hits like Chase Utley -- the guy the Nats IBB'd twice yesterday.

    When he's facing a lefty, the average batter flails around like Tony Pena.

    Which would you rather have up with the game on the line?

  • Acta did do a beautiful job of spinning Chuck Manuel around in the 8th, getting the hard-throwing Madson out of the game, and getting his guy up (Lo Duca) up with the platoon split, all while wasting (if that's really a waste) Rob Mackowiak. You can tell that he thinks those situations through ahead of time. Remember how Frank always acted surprised when various things happened on the field that required a reaction? How many times did we wait 3 minutes for him to figure out which pinch-hitter to send up?

  • The number of seeing-eye singles in this game was ridiculous. Luck? Bad Defense? A little of both?

  • Felipe Lopez looked ok in LF. There were two semi-tough plays that he made fairly easily. And one that he probably should have made, but didn't. For his first game out there, not bad. He got pretty good reactions off the bat, moving first towards where he thought it was headed, then adjusting as he tracked it further.

  • Joel Hanrahan wasn't quite sharp, but he was effective. Burrell rocked him for a double to deep right-center, which Austin Kearns laid out for, but missed -- it would've been a jaw-dropping catch had he made it. With runners on 2/3, he bore down, getting out of the inning without allowing a run, thankfully.

  • Last year, the team IBB'd 44 batters. This game, they IBB'd four. (and all of them made sense to some degree)

    Though, IBBing with Colome in the 10th inning is a tough move, given his control problems. But he's also pretty ineffective against left-handed pitching.

    That's where I think Manny hurt himself. In the top of the 9th, they had just passed the pitcher's spot. With the way the bullpen had been used to that point, they needed someone who could go 2+ innings, and Colome has never been that guy. He did it last season occasionally, but mostly in a mopup-type role. He's terribly inefficient, throwing lots of pitches per inning, and he tires quickly, losing command once he gets much past thirty.

    I think the play, especially once it was clear he was losing it in the 10th, was to bring in Schroder. He's got a pretty good K pitch, and with a runner on third, that's what the Nats needed. Acta was saving him for later, which is reasonable. But had he been there in the first place, maybe it wouldn't have been a problem.

    Not a huge deal... and that's not the reason they lost, but it's curious.

  • Wednesday, April 02, 2008


    Which is more surprising?

    That we're three games above for the first time since 10/05, of the freakin' 1-hit shutout!?

    Redding wasn't dominant, but he looks like a different pitcher. he's throwing harder, which allows him to live up in the zone, making his curve/slider combo all the more effective low. He threw an especially nasty change, diving down and away from Ryan Howard for strike three earlier in the game.

    Hey, how 'bout that Zimmerman? I loved Carpenter's "analysis" there. First inning, after Milledge walks on 4 pitches, Zimmerman jumps all over the first pitch, and pops it high to the wall in left. Later, in the AB he homered in, he fell behind 0-2, before going with a pitch and letting it float into the stands in right. Carpenter said something like "I'm not sure if he's a veteran enough to be doing this, but he might have set Hamels up by going to left earlier in the game." Yeah, he's such a professional hitter, he even let Hamels get 0-2 in the later AB just to lull him into a false sense of security. Bob needs to leave the analysis to Don.

    MASN NEEDS TO CHANGE THEIR GRAPHICS. The base markers make it look like the opposite. They're lit up when nobody is on, and darker when there's a runner on the base. It looks like there are runners on all over the place.

    Zimmerman made a few nifty defensive plays, including one terrific snag, where he again went for the lead runner on a close play. I've never seen a 3B go for the tough play as consistently as him, and those really have to add up over the course of a season. He turns runners on 2nd with one out situations into a runner at first with one out in a way that no other 3B does. I'm not sure the defensive metrics account for the 5-3 as opposed to the 5-4 putouts and the run effect that'd have.

    Nick Johnson made a few nice picks and plays at first. We're at about 5-6 plays (if not more) that I'm confident Dmitri would not have made at first. They shouldn't be adding up that rapidly, but they are.

    I'm still stunned at Redding's outing. Rauch was effective in his outing, too. I'm not worried about him as closer, even if time's likely to show that he'll have about the same effectiveness as Cordero. I'm just glad it didn't end with Howard up there as the winning run. I'm not sure my pyloric valve could've taken it.

    It might not last for the year, but dammit, this feels good. So much better than the start to last year, which really soured me on the whole experience. StanK has to be feeling happy today. Winning breeds ticket sales, and I hear they're going fast. (I hear that at least 5 times a day, though, so I'm not sure whether to believe it or not!)

  • Thanks to everyone who popped into the game chat from the link below. It was a ton of fun talking about the game and sharing misery and joy!

  • Gameday: Nats Go For Three And Oh Yeah!

    Wonky-backed Tim Redding gets to show whether last season's ERA, despite a crappy K/BB ratio, was a fluke or not as he takes on the lefty-heavy Phillies lineup. The Nats get to thrash about at Cole Hamels' stuff. If Willie Harris gets a non-fluke (ie: swinging bunt) hit against Hamels, I'll buy you all a beer.*

    Watching? Listening? Screaming at your TV alone? We're trying out some new software here, so come wince at all the hanging sliders here.

    * not valid in Virginia, DC, Maryland or the Western Hemisphere.

    Superstar Teddy

    Walking to my car, I just noticed a somewhat familiar looking guy -- tall, skinny, blond spikey hair -- with a voice that sorta sounded familiar. He had a small TV crew around him, filming a bit on the sidewalk.

    I didn't think too much of it until I put the person with the location. I think (and keep in mind, my powers of observation, especially when visions of heading home are in mind, can be poor) it was Kenny Mayne, from ESPN. If it was, he was filming in front of the Bull Moose Bed and Breakfast. If that's right, then I'd expect a feature on our lovable loser sometimes in the coming weeks on ESPN.

  • On the drive home, I caught Bowden's weekly radio segment on 980. Nothing new or exciting, but he thinks that Dukes is going to be out a while, and that in the interim, they've discussed playing Felipe Lopez in left field. Not ideal, but given the dearth of righty options, that's not a bad idea. Willie Harris should never be starting against a LHP, especially one as good as tonight's pitcher. Justin Maxwell remains an option, but who are you going to send down? Unless/until Cordero goes on the DL, there's no room for him now.

  • Manny Acta Is A Small, Asian Child

    Today's WTF? story is courtesy of the NY Times. In an attempt to quantify manager's decision-making processes, some math profs at a college that obviously needs to have its federal grants taken away, has graphically illustrated them using something called a "Chertoff face". (I thought a Chertoff face was supposed to look like Sam the eagle?)

    The full range of pictures is here. Charlie Manuel appears to be the devil.