Friday, April 30, 2010


Second place!?!!!?!?!

Tha hell???

Blah blah blah. It won't last. Nats have been outscored. They're outplaying pythagoras. Blahblahblah. Didn't we hear that crap during the '05 season? (Yeah, we did, and we saw in the second half what happens when you tease the Gods.)

But just go with me a second.

The Nats have scored 100 and allowed 108. They're 13-10, but their runs scored/allowed are more like a 11-12 team. We already talked about the high performance and the usage of the relievers as a big factor in the team's record.

But maybe ol' Pythagoras is a bit misleading in the Nats case.

Consider the case (very sad case) of Mr. Jason Marquis. 8.1 innings, TWENTY RUNS. Read that again. I'll repeat it here if your eyes don't work backwards: 8.1 innings, TWENTY RUNS.

Now you can't just subtract out a team's worst performance. This is like college. You can't wish away those Ds. (Not that I'd know anything about that... Hey! Look over there!)

But if you do. Say you replace his TWENTY RUNS with the team's average of about 5 per game. That's a saving of TWENTY RUNS - 5: so about 15 runs.

Then the Nats have scored 100 and allowed 93 runs. That gets you to 13-10 via Pythagoras.

So aside from Jason Marquis (and much as we wish we could, we can't with him away),we're playing about the way our runs scored/allowed suggest we would.

And if you're keeping track, that non-Marquis pace works out to 87-75. 87 wins hasn't been good enough to make the Wild Card in quite a few years. But none of those teams had STRASBURG!!!! or Storen coming up either.

Please pass the Flavor-Ade, Mr. Kasten! This grape is deeeeeeelicious!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Clip 'n Save

Why's the team better this year?

You'll say Pudge. You'll say defense.

I won't say you're wrong, but I'll say you're probably looking in the wrong direction.

This team has scored about the same number of runs, and allowed about the same number of runs as last year's Acta-led holocaust. So their record should be about the same. But, as you can tell, it's not.

Maybe it's Pudge's will. Maybe it's Brian Bruney's World Series ring. Maybe it's Elijah Dukes.

But it's probably not. It's Matt Capps and Tyler Clippard. Doesn't get more obvious than this.

Their greatness has been obvious. They've pitched like 30 innings and have combined to allow 2 runs. TWO. And it isn't just that they haven't allowed runs; they haven't allowed runs in situations where allowing a run would make a huge difference in the game.

If Miguel Batista coughs up a run in the 5th inning, it can be overcome. If Matt Capps yaks one up in the 9th, we're effed. And that's the huge difference in this year's team and last year's team. We didn't have a closer who could close. And we didn't have setup guys who could do anything aside from light their own shoes on fire.

To the stats!

For this kind of situation, I think WPA is perfectly suited. I won't explain it here (much), other than to say it's looking at the actual state of the game when the player enters and figuring out what the change is in the team's chances of winning are. Ie: a solo homer in the 1st has MUCH less value than a solo homer in a 1-run game in the 9th. Keep in mind that it's a stat that's based on real-life games, and what's historically happened -- these aren't just numbers made up by Commodore-loving cretins.

Capps has a WPA of 1.4, meaning he's been about 1.4 wins BETTER than an average player on an average team would be if that mythical pitcher pitched in those same situations. Clippard's at 1.1. So combined, the two of them have given the Nats about 2.5 extra wins than an average team would have. That's huge.

It's especially huge when you compare it to last year's crap fest. Here's what three of our key relievers did last year:

Saul: -0.8
Gascanrahan: -0.9
Colome: -1.4

So the change from those scrubs to this year's cast is like 5 extra wins. Now obviously Clip 'n Save can't keep that pace up all year -- especially with this workload pace. But their success explains as much of the team's turn-around as Pudge's leadership.

One other note: Whatever faults he has, Riggleman appears to have a pretty good grasp on using his bullpen. One of the other WPAish stats is called leverage index. It's basically a gauge of how key a situation a pitcher's pitching in. So a one-run lead in the 9th is far more key than a 10-run lead in the 5th.

With Leverage, 1 equals about average 'difficulty'. Anything above 1 is where you start leaning forward in your seat.

For Capps, he's averaged a 2.33 leverage index. That is, he's pitching in some kick-ass situations. Duh. He's a closer. And he's eeked out a bunch of narrow leads.

Clip's at 1.53, a very high total.

Who's the worst pitcher in the pen? Batista? His leverage: 0.65. Did you say Tyler Walker? He's at 0.29.

So Riggles has pretty successfully figured out who his main guys are, and is using them in the right situations. He's sorted out who the scrubs are, and he's letting them take beatings when there's nothing on the line in the game.

Contrast that with Manny Acta who couldn't sort out the pitching of the '84 Grays.

So the Nats' formula to success: take away disastrous performance and replace it with very good performance. It ain't hard. You'd have thought we'd have learned to recognize the pattern after we subbed out Milledge in center for Nyjer's glove.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Feels Like the First Time

I don't want this to sound like the rantings of one of those 50-year old manchildren who pines for the days of Eddie Brinkman, but dammit, you know what the first thing I thought of when I pulled up the ol' MLB ap while wandering around the pet food aisle at target?

I saw the 1-0 win over LA, and instantly thought of Ryan Drese. Ah, those heady days of 2005. Drese's first start after coming over from Texas was against LA -- only the Angels in this case. You'll of course remember that series as being the FRobby/Scioscia/Guillen/Donnelly/Intimidator/Piece-of-human-garbage series. All that came later. But the first game was something special.

Drese came out of nowhere, throwing his turbo sinker and getting grounder after grounder. As the innings piled up, the hits most certainly didn't. And through 8, the Nats led 1-0 thanks to Brian Schneider's solo homer off Bart Colon.

The ninth came, and Chad Cordero entered for what was probably the wildest ride in what was a crazy season. He, as he tended to do, made things interesting. He gave up a quick hit followed by a walk. During one of the pitches in that sequence, he literally fell off the mound during his delivery. One more single, and the bases were loaded with nobody out. Then he did it. Strikeout. Fly to center, but not deep enough to send the runner, followed by another strikeout. Game over, 1-0, and you just felt (as you really had for a few weeks) that this team was capable of anything.

I'm not sure we're completely to THAT point yet, but watching them (muted), it sometimes feels that way.

I remember earlier in that season... day game against the Mets... had to be this game, I guess. We were 13-11, and had actually played a pretty difficult schedule. We had played Atlanta a bunch. The Mets didn't appear to be pushovers. We fought those stupid Phillies... This wasn't a death march, but it was a long stretch of intradivision games, and was a good test of where this team was.

As I was walking out on one of those never-ending concrete ramps, my friend and I talked bout the start. 13-11 isn't a pennant-winner, but considering the difficult schedule, it was a good sign. I vividly recall saying something to him like "if we can play .500ish against these guys, we're going to be in it for a while."

Little did I know that about a month later, Ryan Church was going to hit a three-run homer in the 8th inning of a game against the Marlins that would push the Nats into first place in the midst of an improbable winning streak. Man, I can still hear the roars of that crowd. I can still see Mark Kotsay taking a looping path to the ball on Nick Johnson's bases-clearing double.

Dammit... starting to sold like an old man... where was I?

The point is there are parallels. RFK was the perfect place for that team -- an extreme run-suppressor, it held down the scores, keeping the Nats in way more games than they should've been in. This team has that sort of feel; they may get blown out occasionally. They may not do much blowing out themselves. But they've got a chance more often than not.

This team isn't as good as the Phillies or the Cardinals. But that second tier of teams -- Padres (at least based on their start), Atlanta, Milwaukee, Colorado, Los Angeles, etc... You can squint your eyes and see this team among that group, can't you? We're probably at the bottom of that group, but if you can play with those guys, you've got a team that's playing mildly interesting baseball into the parts of the year where I'm perpetually sweating.

Then you throw in Strasburg (Just bring him up, dammit!), Storen... maybe (but I doubt) Wang has a tiny little something (snicker) left in his right shoulder... then what?

Really, let's not get ahead of ourselves, but it's fun to dream sometimes. And if nothing else, these last few games have let me dream back to '05 -- back when rooting for this team was all kinds of crazy fun.

And the Thought Hit Me...

... that the reason for that godawful, cheesetastic "NATIONALS PARK" slide-in-letter sign behind the plate isn't to let us know that it's Nats Park. The stone wall -- perhaps the most distinctive background in the game -- does that.

It's so that when the team sells the naming rights to Raytheon or whoever, they'll be able to slide some new letters in, jamming the name down our throats.

Solves two problems:

1) That everyone already knows it as Nats Park, so the corporate name will need a little extra reinforcement in our pliable minds.

2) That if they didn't have Nats Park up there in those cheesy looking letters, when they threw the new name up there, there'd be a bunch of people bitching about the team selling out and throwing names up, covering up the wall.

But the joke's on them. We're gonna bitch one way or another!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

THIS Is Why Blogs Need Access

Because I never would've learned any of this elsewhere.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What If?

Most of us looked at the Nats' schedule, especially early in the season, and wrote the year off. But yet here we are 15 games in, at 8-7. It would've been completely reasonable for someone to figure that we'd be 4-11 now. So we're ahead of what would've been a reasonable pace.

So let's look ahead a bit... Between now and July 1, the Nats have...

3 against the Royals
6 against the Orioles
4 against Houston
3 against the Mets

They host the Reds and Bucs for 6.

0 against Philly. Only 3 against Atlanta. The worst roadtrip starts with 3 in SF then 3 in SD.

Oh, and 3 with Manny Acta's team. HAHAHAHAH

That'd bring us through game 79. What if...

As long as Sunny Kim isn't around, they don't trade for Preston Wilson, and Frank Robinson can't make any fancy pitching changes... Hmm...

Fast or Faster?

Predictably, Sir Strasburg kept the Danny Almonte vs. Little Leaguers act going today, tossing five more scoreless frames against some hopelessly outclassed dupes from the Double-A level. It'll be interesting to see his progress once he reaches Triple-A, where the talent is less intriguing but the competition is more seasoned. For now, however, Strasburg is the german shepherd of the dog park, brushing off all comers with not only ease but near disinterest. (Or at least that's how the game reports read.)

Consequently, the dispatches from the bush league stops focus on fine-tuning. So sayeth Teh Rizz:
"He's doing the things he needs to do to progress to the next level. You can see from the stretch he's gathering himself a little more, and not losing any velocity, which is something we were worried about. He's about 1.24, 1.25 [seconds to home plate], which is where we want him to be."

Interesting quote; a timely one too, no pun intended.

Take another look at that second sentence. Rizzo talks about Strasburg not losing any velocity while pitching from the stretch, which was apparently a concern within the organization, and not without reason. According to a common estimate, the typical pitcher loses 2-3 miles per hour from his fastball while pitching in the stretch.

Just yesterday, however, the Hardball Times published a mini-study challenging such an estimate and claiming instead that pitchers do not tend to lose any appreciable fastball velocity when pitching from the stretch. Specifically, the researcher, Mike Fast (again, no pun intended), concluded that "[a] pitcher's fastball speed turns out to be almost identical with runners on base [i.e., presumably pitching from the stretch] as compared to his average fastball speed with the bases empty." Fast's factfinding is apparently corroborated by those biomechanical types who give Will Carroll the tingly-tingly, as reportedly there are "clinically insignificant differences in ball velocity" between observed wind-up and stretch fastball deliveries.

It is at this point, then, that we reach the blogger's Rubicon. To put it in a slightly less pretentious manner, is Rizzo full of crap? Can we use these studies to say so?

I'm not sure I'd take much a big leap on this one, for two reasons.

1) Mike Rizzo is perfect, every move he's made as GM of our Washington Nationals has been solid gold, and he knows all.

2) Fast's study (and apparently the other biomechanical study) doesn't account for which pitchers use the slide-step from the stretch and which pitchers don't.

It is commonly accepted that use of the slide-step causes decreased velocity (the most famous example being Mitch Williams). Maybe that's a myth that Fast can disprove, too. I don't know. But it does bring us full-circle.

The topic of Ubaldo Jimenez's apparent reliance on pitching from the stretch during his recent no-hitter led to Rob Neyer's reference to the conventional wisdom that pitching from the stretch shaves off some velocity, which led to Fast's study apparently refuting the conventional wisdom. In other words, sabermetrics at work. The only problem is that Jimenez, like most Rockies pitchers under Bob Apodaca's tutelege, apparently uses the slide-step. (Of course, if Jimenez was beginning innings from the stretch, I don't know if he'd be using the slide-step in that circumstance, but whatever.)

I don't know precisely what to make of this. I'll readily concede that I can't give you a list of pitchers who use the slide-step and those who don't. Some pitching coaches, like Apodoca, stress it; some, like Don Cooper of the White Sox, abhor it. I sincerely doubt I'm capable of sorting the issue out and reconciling it with Fast's study. His study seems to indicate, across the board, no meaningful difference in fastball velocity when the bases are empty (windup) and when there are runners on base (stretch). The latter sample would include pitchers who use the slide-step. And, while the resulting presumption would be that pitchers from the stretch (including those using the side-step) must be putting more stress on their arms in order to maintain that uniform fastball velocity, the biomechanical experimentation dudes apparently don't believe this is actually the case. So you tell me.

Anyway, we return now to Rizzo's quote -- which, wouldn't you know it, involves the slide-step. Strasburg is registering "about 1.24, 1.25 [seconds to home plate]," Rizzo told Dave Sheinin of the Post, "which is where we want him to be." Strasburg's work from the stretch seems to be a major point of emphasis at this early stage of his development, as Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated recently reported:

While down in the minors, there are just a few nuances Strasburg needs to work on, and most of them involve how to handle baserunners and pitching from the stretch, things that weren't really concerns at San Diego State[.] Rizzo said Strasburg is actually a tad quick to the plate with runners on (in the 1.0 range), and they don't want him losing a mile or two off his fastball with the slide-step type delivery he's using.

(I snipped Heyman's mouthbreathing reference to a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model; don't put him and Dan Patrick in a room together, I suppose.)

The issue here actually seems to be slowing Strasburg's delivery down a touch while in the stretch, which for all we know could have a slightly positive effect on his velocity. (For posterity, here's some footage of Strasburg's stretch delivery, circa late February, shot by a vanguard of the new media.) But, as Rizzo states today, they know that Strasburg's refinements haven't caused him to lose any velocity. Whether any of this would, as a general matter, have a discernible effect on his fastball velocity from the stretch is up for debate, I suppose, although every pitcher is unique in his own way.

But we can be reasonably confident that Strasburg is pitching pretty freakin' fast regardless.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Myth of Offense

For the last few games, the Dibster and his dim-witted sidekick, Carp, have been praising the team's offense. They're talking about how this team never gives up, even when down by 10. Nevermind the fact that they didn't end up particularly close in either game.

At some point tonight, Carp praised the number of hits this team has had in the last two games. I'm still amazed at Carp's utter inability -- despite a lifetime within the game -- to understand why that's flawed. Hits != Runs. It's really not hard. Teams have won games with zero hits. Teams have lost games with twenty hits. But I'm pretty damn sure (caution: have not consulted that no team in major league baseball history has lost a game where they've had more runs than their opponent.

Here's the thing. The team isn't THAT good offensively. It's 6th or 7th in runs, depending on the ultimate outcome of today's game. That's better than being last, but c'mon. This isn't a juggernaut.

The problem is that while they've had a lot of hits these last two games, a lot of 'em have been singles. This isn't a team with a ton of power. And the power they do have coughdunncough hasn't been very powerful. One of the team's leaders in slugging (Pudge) has hit a few doubles, but mostly a bunch of singles.

And outside of Dunn and Willingham, this isn't a team that's walking a hell of a lot. They may be seeing a lot of pitches, but it's not resulting in anything. They're not walking, and they're not hitting for much power.

So we've got a low-walk, singles-hitting team. We're Ichiro's spastic cousin.

That's not a last-place offense. But to hear Carpenter tell it, we're close to the Babe than that.

Here's what you need to know: the team's biggest output is 8 runs. EIGHT runs. Is that the mark of an elite offense?

  • Case in point: Johnny and Ray just talked about the impressive multi-hit innings and the twelve (or whatever) hits they had tonight. Total runs scored: 4.

  • Carpenter: "This is an offense hitting on all cylinders. Over the last few games we're averaging 12-14 hits."

    That's 8-7-5-4 runs. Seriously, Bob. Are you watching the games?

  • This one too.

  • Monday, April 19, 2010

    Nationals Reviewed: Two Weeks In

    I used to do these weekly round-up posts. Everyone seemed to like them. At least they missed them when I stopped doing 'em. I'm not sure I have the patience to do a weekly one, and really, a weekly review is probably too close. You can't really see trends in a week. But every two weeks? You can't draw any conclusions, but it's a decent snapshot.

    Case in point: If I wrote this piece last week, we'd be talking about how this is the worst team ever, and we'd be clamoring for Manny Acta to return. But now? Things don't feel so bad, do they? So without further ado...

    Record: 6-6, 4th in the NL East, 7th in the NL.
    Runs scored: 60 (5 per game, 7th in NL)
    Runs allowed: 77 (6.42, last in NL)
    Pythagoras Sez: 5-7

    What's Good?

    1) Pudge! No, I ain't gonna eat crow -- Aaron or otherwise. But I will enjoy what his newly re-animated corpse is doing, while he's doing it. The great thing about a .444/ .487/ .639 start is that when you hit .215/ .243/ .276 in July, nobody's gonna notice. For now, he's been a steady presence, and has driven a surprising number of line drives towards the gaps and down the lines. The $64,000 is question is whether a start this scorching means he's not quite the washed-up cadaver he was in the previous two. I know which way my head's leaning... but all our hearts are hoping it's wrong.

    2) Josh Willingham! So long as you ignore his Wilkersonesque star turn, he's been the team's best threat. He's tied with Adam Dunn for the team lead in walks, raising his OBP to a juicy .500. Newfound patience at the plate, or the product of having Adam Kennedy batting behind him? He's been the only player on the team driving the ball. So does his hot start increase the chances of the team dealing him? He's likely to be one of the best bats on the market... just sayin'...

    3) Ryan Zimmerman! Sure, he's missed some time, and... ok, one aside. Did you hear that major-league asshat Rob Dibble in yesterday's game? Complaining about how Zimmerman shouldn't be in the lineup if he's not healthy to barrel over a catcher like Pete Rose did? How Dibble (who probably sports wood at the thought of Chuckie Hustle) said Zimmerman needs to go on the DL then? STFU, moron. Do you want to take back that game-winning homer? Do you want to take back those gold-glove plays? Jesus Christ. When the choice is between Zimmerman at 80% and Al Gonzales at 100%, Zimm's the easy play. Hell, I'd take Zimm if those % were changed to 20%/387%. Moron.

    4) Livan! What can you say? Livan looks like he's dropped a good 20-30 pounds. Course he's still 40-50 overweight, but for someone who had severe problems with his frosting-filled knee, losing a few cans of Crisco (fat in the can!) has to be a good thing, no? He's actually getting a little more oomph on his pitches over where he was a season or two. While he's not going to beat anyone with speed, every little bit helps. Maybe a healthy knee is letting him drive and follow through a little more. Might that not just help velocity, but technique? Does he have better MPH and better stuff now?

    5) Riggleman! I'm still not a huge fan, and he still drives me feckin' batty sometimes, but the team does do some things well. They're running the bases better. And they're running smartly. When he's had the flexibility, he's been adaptable with the pen. Last week was a good example, where he used Capps for a 1+ inning save, then held him back the next game, starting with Burnet for a better matchup. That's smart managing that leverages the roster. That's not to say he's been perfect, but it's kinda nice to see a manager at least THINK about what he's doing with the pen instead of reflexively turning to Saul because it's the 7th inning.

    What's Bad?

    1) Adam Dunn. The problem with sluggers like Dunn is that when they're bad, holy hell, do they suck. Sure, he's walking, but he's paid to do more than walk. So we've got a .367 on-base singles hitter. He's a base-clogging Luis Castillo. Yay. He'll come around, right? I will say this -- despite a few ugly plays, he's been decent at 1B. He really is pretty good at stretching for throws, right? Zimmerman certainly looks more confident throwing to him. Did you see that diving play and off-balance throw he made against Milwaukee on Sunday? Would he have done that if Belliard were waddling near the bag?

    2) Garrett Mock. We know he sucks. No sense rehashing it here. But this is one of the things I'm trying to figure out with this team. What was the decision process behind this? Three starts into spring, he was anointed #3. Three starts later, he's battling for a job. He wins a job despite no real success in spring. He sucks, then WHAM. He's gone. Why so many different evaluations of the same player? Do they really look at him that wildly? Do they evaluate things on the short term? What have you done for me lately? I dunno... there's some inconsistency there. And it's popped up with a few other things, such as the so-called Tavares platoon. Probably not getting worked up over, but it's a trend to look out for.

    3) Lack of Control. The reason -- well, one of 'em -- the pitching stinks is because none of 'em can throw strikes. They're last in the league in BB/9 and 7 pitchers already have a BB/9 above 5. Walks can be offset, but this team is also last in the league in K/9. If you don't do one, you've gotta do the other. This'll improve some over the course of a season, but it's always going to be a bit of a problem with this team. Just means that for them to succeed, their pitchers have to keep the ball on the ground and in the park -- not just a little, but be among the best in the league.

    4) Jason Marquis. I hate when people blame a player who sucks as if it's something in his head. Garrett Mock isn't sucking because he's a headcase. He's sucking because, well, he sucks. But today's comments from Steve "Hustler Man" McCatty really are pretty damning.
    McCatty, though, leaned toward the mental aspect. For the first-time in his 10-year career, Marquis arrived with a new team carrying high expectations. The Nationals brought him here to lead their staff. The pressure combined with miserable early results has worn on him. Manager Jim Riggleman said Marquis looked "down in the dumps" when he came off the field yesterday.

    "I think that he needs to have that one good game to get him on a roll," McCatty said. "He's trying so hard. He's pressing. I think that's a lot of what's going on.
    The high expectations of the Nationals are causing him problems? Oy.

    5) Ian Desmond's Defense. OK, he hasn't been absolutely terrible, but the errors look bad. And he's had a few 'huh' sorta plays that aren't quite errors. But, really, it's the errors that'd get him knocked out of the lineup, and he's been better the last few games there. The other things -- the hidden plays he missed -- rarely rise far enough to anyone's attention. It's hard to notice something that's not really being counted.

    Game O' The Fortnight

    There were a few good ones... so pick one:

    April 10, 4-3 over the Mets. This is the one everyone'll remember for Willie Harris' bases-loaded, 9th-inning, 2-out, do-or-die, game-saving catch of a Rod Barajas line drive.

    April 15, 7-5 over the Phillies, in the game that featured Ryan Zimmerman's pinch-hit homer, a 2-run blast that turned a 1-run deficit into a 1-run lead.

    April 16, 5-3 over the Brewers. If you had Adam Kennedy and Wil Nieves leading an 8th inning rally in the pool, you win!

    MVP Award!

    Pudge Rodriguez's undead bat carried the team. And although some meatheads *coughdibblecough* want to give him credit for everything, he's been a positive force so far.

    Cy Young Award!

    Livan Hernandez wins it! Can't argue with a 0.00 ERA, right?

    Austin Kearns Award

    Adam Dunn deserves this one. That .270 slugging really is Kearnsesque

    Joe Horgan Award

    Thanks for playing, Mr. Mock. Enjoy Syracuse, and Dinosaur Barbecue. I think the Salt Museum is 2-for-1 on Tuesday. Maybe you could take Colon Battlestar?

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Natty Nuggets

    Take a step back. 4-5, despite a brutal schedule. Fourth place. Feels damn good doesn't it?

    This has been a Danny Cabrera season so far. Remember how brutal watching him was? He 'only' had a 5.85 ERA. While that sucks by the standards of anyone, it's not any worse than any of about 100 pitchers the Nats had. But if you watched each of his pitches, you wanted him gone.

    That's exactly how this season. If you've watched the games, you think we're the worst goddamn team on earth. Yet here we are. 4-5. Huh. Maybe there's something to this season?

    * I've been kicking around a post just like this for a while. But I didn't write it, so read this.

    * Another post I've been meaning to write is the fatal flaw with Rizzo's pitch-to-contact philosophy. And how you can't build a starting rotation for the long-term with a staff of John Lannans. But I'll have to get to that another time.

    * Hey, how 'bout that Matt Capps! What's his WHIP, 49.85?

    * He's better than Brian Bruney though.

    * I don't really have a problem with some of their roster moves. Not DLing Zimmerman, for example, makes sense. (And I thought that even before today's homer!) You can't just throw a guy on the DL for the hell of it. Where it creates problems isn't so much in the short bench, but in that you're turning to mediocrities like Al Gonzalez to fill in.

    * The bench on this team is utter shit. Even when everyone's healthy, it's pathetic. That's going to cost us a game or three in the standings, I'd bet. Of course that's also a function of having to carry a 18-man bullpen.

    * A few bloggers got media credentials from the team. Good for them, I guess. But here's my question: why do they need them? Other than "because we can." Mostly, I think the coverage we'll get from them will be more noise, demonstrating the importance (or at least need) for filters.

    I always thought the 'value-added' approach to blogging was worthless. And, to some degree, I still do. I write not because I expect others to read it, but for fun. But at a certain point, when you're extracting items of value from the team, it becomes quasi-professional -- even if we're all a bunch of hacks. And if that's the case, what are any of these guys going to do that's interesting or different than what everyone else is writing? Copying and pasting a press release, for example, shouldn't cut it anymore.

    Honestly, I don't really see why anyone should get a credential. The only Nats blog out there who can really even make a legitimate argument for needing one is NFA. And even then, from what I know of Brian, I'm not sure how often he'd really use it. The rest of us, by and large, are parasites.

    Now the team's obviously viewing that as more of a symbiotic relationship: they throw some cookies, and the public laps up what bloggers poop up. There's certainly some PR value for them. But it's also a bit of an echo chamber. Although we all bitch about the level of coverage the team gets in the Post, this isn't like the Caps were a few years ago, completely starved for coverage.

    So what's the point? How does it benefit the team? How does it benefit the reader? We do know it benefits some egos. And as long as those occasionally get stroked, we're all happy.

    * Just noticed that this fine gentleman (note: he is neither fine, nor a gentleman) said some similar things.

    * Manny Acta is the standard by which all bad managers measure themselves.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Back When Stan Kasten Let His Hair Down

    You know how some people wish the Nationals would get around to jumping back into the international market? What fuddy-duddies these guys are! But what if I were to tell you that, in the 1987 NBA draft, a certain professional sports executive with whom we're rather familiar drafted a Chinese dude, a Greek dude, a Spanish dude, a Yugoslavian dude, an Italian dude, another Italian dude, a Soviet dude, and another Soviet dude? Would you think I was joking?

    "This is no joke," said Stan Kasten, the Hawks' president and general manager.

    Well, there you go. No joke.

    I don't know precisely how or why I got around to doing this, but I spent fifteen minutes searching the New York Times' archives for articles about Kasten. It's better than some other hobbies, at least. Anyway, Kasten's Hawks were kind of nuts innovative back in the day. I do wonder what happened, as Kasten's level of selling out innovating seems a lot less satisfying these days.

    Never mind that the 1980s Hawks routinely did quirky stuff like taking a chance on Spud Webb or essentially becoming Team Glasnost. Those things were certainly interesting, but they don't compare to drafting a 7'6", 403-pound Argentinian with no discernable basketball skills:

    The Hawks have not signed Gonzalez, and Fratello said the odds against the player are long. At this point, Gonzalez cannot shoot a hook, cannot shoot well with his left hand, cannot spin on his pivot foot and cannot move cleanly and quickly across the lane.

    As Russell pointed out, most of Gonzalez's habits are bad ones. He dribbles the ball with his palm instead of the tips of his fingers, and he tends to fall backward when shooting.

    After an hour-and-a-half private workout under Russell's patient tutelage 10 days ago, Gonzalez asked his mentor, through an interpreter, ''If I learn these things, can I play in the N.B.A.?''

    The answer, in case you couldn't tell, was no.

    Anyway, the Nats don't seem to be doing any of this kind of stuff. You know how the Pirates signed those Indian pitchers? Something tells me that Kasten's Hawks would've been all over that, but, when it comes to Kasten's Nats, your typical daring move is non-tendering Scott Olsen in order to bring him back for a lower price.

    Then again, maybe this says less about Kasten, and more about Ted Turner and Ted Lerner. I don't know.

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    2010 Predictions

    I realized that this didn't post the other day, so here goes.  And forgive the formatting, or lack thereof.  I'm feeling lazy.


    New York 98 64
    Boston 94 68
    Tampa 91 71
    Baltimore 77 85
    Toronto 59 103

    Minnesota 90 72
    Detroit 83 79
    Chicago 79 83
    Indians 75 87
    Royals 68 94

    Rangers 89 73
    Angels 86 76
    Mariners 78 84
    A's 73 89


    Atlanta 93 69
    Philadelphia 91 71
    Florida 83 79
    New York 78 84
    Washington 72 90

    St Louis 91 71
    Cincinnati 82 80
    Milwaukee 81 81
    Chicago 77 85
    Pittsburgh 68 94
    Houston 62 100

    Los Angeles 97 65
    Colorado 86 76
    San Francisco 81 81
    Arizona 80 82
    San Diego 68 94

    Hypotheticaly, the Nats could be better.  But as we've seen so far this year, there's no depth.  If one of Dunn/W'Ham/Z'm'n goes down, we're screwed.  As it was, Pudge and Adam Kennedy were batting 6th in the lineup when everyone was healthy.

    My World Series pick: Twins over Dodgers.

    Although I had the Dodgers before I saw Matt Kemp in CF.  Brutal.  Lastings Milledge felt embarrassed for him.

    Sunday, April 11, 2010


    He starts today, but you already know that.

    What you may not know is that you can watch it on your computer.  And supposedly ESPN News or whatever the hell the channel's called will be showing parts of the game live.

    Also, it's being streamed on  Woo!

    Moron the Catch

    Here's the MASN clip.  Listen to it.  Don't you want to jam an icepick in Rob Dibble's ear? Shut the hell up with the grunting and the clapping and the "Yessss!"ing.  Not only is it embarrassing, it shits all over the moment.

    Do none of the producers at MASN realize this?  They're pros.  Why isn't their broadcast team one?

    Contrast that with the excitement and joy of the radio booth.  They handled it well.  This is just pathetic.

    Of course given the rest of the game -- wherein Dibs rooted for Reyes to pull a hamstring and implied that he was on PEDs -- it's par for the course for the ol' meathead.

    What I Loved About Yesterday's Catch

    I was in the car on the way to Brookside Gardens when Willie made the game-winning catch in yesterday's game.  I still haven't seen the catch, but I've got a pretty good idea of what it looks like in my mind... nothing quite like baseball on the radio.  (At least when it's not a pancake digression, and you already have an idea what the score is...)

    What I loved about it though was not Chuck's "He made the catch!" shtick, but the ambient noises behind him.

    Crack!  The ball is struck

    OOOOH!!! YES!!!!! goes the crowd as it takes off

    OOOOOOHHHH!!! as they see Willie's charging for it.

    Unnnnnnngggggghhhh!!!! as they see he's got it

    Then back to an OooooooooooAaaaaaaaah right after he catches it.

    In the space of about 2.5 seconds, there's about 3 distinct emotions coming from the crowd, relayed through nothing but sound.

    But that wasn't even the best part.  It's what came next.  That murmur.  That sound of 17,000 simultaneous conversations all saying variants of "I can't believe that!" or "so close!" or phrases much more colorful.

    While Chuck and Dave did their little pre-commercial wrapup, that murmur continued.  And continued.  And continued.  There's nothing like that sound.   It's probably the same sound I was making in my car.  The same sound a few thousand people also listening on the radio were making.  What the hell just happened?  That's what I love about baseball.

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    Fire Rob Dibble

    I was never a big fan of the FJM shtick, particularly after the revelations of who they actually were caused all the fanboys to fall all over themselves and suck up to them further. That being said, three words: Rob Dibble Blog.

    Baseball is a game where the team that makes the fewest mistakes wins.
    Unless all runs are a mistake, this almost certainly isn't true.

    After the first three games of the 2010 season, some things have already started to become apparent.
    That the Nationals probably suck as much as they have since you came to town?

    The veterans brought in this year will change the culture in the Nationals' clubhouse on and off the field.
    I hear Pudge makes a hell of a bean dip.  What good is culture if the results are the same?

    Just watching how some of the new Nats like Ivan Rodriguez, Adam Kennedy, Jason Marquis, Tyler Walker, Matt Capps and Brian Bruney go about their business is a pleasure.
    Yeah, watching Marquis, Bruney and Walker brought nothing but smiles to my face.  And I really liked how Capps struggled through an ultimately successful inning.  Ulcers are fun!

    Hard working, determined, and relentless are a few words that come to mind.
    Mediocre and stopgap are two more.

    I can tell you from speaking to the players, this organization is going in the winning direction. 
    Oh.  Yeah, cause talking to the players always yields valuable insights about the direction of the team.  I'm sure players have realistic assessments of their talent level, particularly compared to the opponents they'll be facing.  And I'm sure they're also think outside themselves, strategically about the long-term impact of the team's investment (or lack of) in the farm system and internationally.  Yeah, I'm sure that Brian Bruney's right on top of that.  Hey, did you know he has a ring?  Automatically makes him the team's best player, no?

    Wins and losses, of course they matter, but players who truly hate to lose and are willing to do whatever it takes to win are hard to find.
    So let's get more scrappy gamers who WANT to win and work hard, even if their talent level blows.  We need a team of (wait for it... you know it's coming...) David Eckstein's at every position.  Sure, they'll probably lose just as much because they couldn't score more than 2 runs per game, but it's not because of the force of their will.  And it's great we've got solid pitchers like Bruney who WANT to win, even as they're walking their fifth straight batter.  It's all up here {points to head, hears hollow sound}

    Add to the new additions, Dunn, Zimm, The Hammer, Nyjer, Ian, Wil, Willie, Cristian, the starting rotation and the bullpen, and you get a great group of determined guys.
    Those household names really roll off the tongue.  Other than Ian, that's the core group that played last year, no?  Were they not determined last season?  What changed over the offseason?  Does Pudge make them want to be better men?  That's it!  Pudge and Bruny must complete Rob.  Add a few mediocre veterans, and a complacement mediocre team becomes.... non-complacent and mediocre?   Though in fairness, mediocrity would still require a 20-game improvement.

    I wish I was still playing because I would love to go into battle every night with this team!
    We wish you were still playing so you'd be about as far away from a mic as is possible in that stadium.  Gotta be 600' from the press box to the pen, right?

    Respect, that's what you want as a reputation, but you have to earn it.
    Sure.  Respect is a noble goal.  But to people admire Albert Pujols because of how hard he works?  Nope.  They admire him because he can hit the sputum out of a baseball.  Do people admire David Esckstein for how hard he works?  Nope.  Unless you count sportswriters as humans.

    The Nats now have some players willing to go out and get it done.
    When the list you gave us above was essentially the same as last year's list.  Marquis, Bruney and Pudge REALLY make that much of a difference?  They really motivate Zimmerman and Dunn, who both had career years?  Or are you saying that those two weren't willing to do that?  If not, then who?  Name names, instead of this vaguely worded rah-rah character BS.

    Just check out the end of yesterday's win. 
    Note: does not apply to yesterday's loss

    The defense, hustle and heads up plays, together with solid coaching moves are what won that game, and isn't that fun to watch?
    Yes.  I'd just prefer to see it more than 25% of the time.  Hell, I'd settle for 40% of the time.  But Pudge and Bruney aren't the reasons.  And the team's new attitude, and the reasons for it, which you haven't successfully identified, probably isn't the reason for the win.  A shitty Kyle Kendrick probably had more to do with it.  If the Nats got to hit off Nats-quality pitching more, the Nats would win more.  I think I just ripped a hole in the vortex of suck there.

    Honestly, I can't wait to get to the park here in NY and see what tonight brings.
    Care to revise and extend your remarks, Sir?

    The Batters Will Let You Know

    Pitching coach and Hustler aficionado Steve McCatty on Garrett Mock after the pitcher's latest bed-crapping:

    "Other than Strasburg," pitching coach Steve McCatty said, "he probably has the best overall stuff of anybody here."


    For his major-league career, he's allowing a .288/ .370/ .447 line. That is to say, the average batter is like Ryan Zimmerman with about 25 more walks.

    His pitches may move and dance around occasionally, but that doesn't mean he has good stuff.

    If he had good stuff, teams wouldn't be slugging .447 off him. If he had good stuff, he wouldn't give up so many liners.

    The other team will let us know whether his stuff is good or not. Here's a hint: it's probably not.

    Hits allowed isn't a particularly useful stat for any number of reasons, but he's allowed 155 hits in his 135 major-league innings. In the minors, he was just as hittable.

    2005: 202 hits in 174 innings.
    2006: 173 in 147

    He improved that in his last two years in Triple-A, but pitchers with great stuff don't get hit that hard in the low minors. They just don't.

    When you combine that with his decent K rate at those levels, what that means is that when the batters DID put the bat on the ball, he was getting hit hard. That's carried, more or less, all the way up.

    What I'd assume was happening then is that his stuff carried him. While it's not major-league caliber, it does sometimes dance and move a lot. He could get Ks from the kids on some of those movements, but far too often he'd hang a pitch, leaving it over the plate. If his majors peformance is similar, it's his fastball that gets nailed. He could fool them with junk off the zone, but when he came in with the heat, BAM.

    So you've got a pitcher with a mediocre fastball trying to get batters out. No matter how good those secondary pitches are, if they know they can wait it out for one of those slow-moving meatballs, what's it matter? BAM. BAM. BAM. Ballgame.

    I'd suspect. (Hey, it's the internet, lemme go check!) Hey, I was right. The fangraphs pitch value charts show that his fastball is terrible. Last year, he gave up 18 more runs on his fastball than the average pitcher.

    So where's the evidence that his stuff is second on the team to Strasburg's? I don't see it with my eyes. And the numbers certainly don't show it.

    Although given what we've seen from Marquis and Lannan, maybe being second on the team in stuff is sort of a tallest midget compliment?

    Wednesday, April 07, 2010

    Hey, Would You Look At That!

    The Nats are near the top of the league, once again, in one of the most important baseball statistics!

    Well done, Lerner family!  Well done!

    StanSpeak: Oh Come All Ye Phaithphul Edition

    As GateGate rolls on, Adam Kilgore -- my new personal hero -- hanged Mr. Stanley with his own words. Tacked on to the end of a post, he pasted the transcript of his email conversation with Mr. Kasten, wherein the Supreme Leader (the guy who taught Bobby Cox and Ted Turner everything they know, and who led the Atlanta Hawks to greatness) slaps his dick right in the eye of every Nats fan out there.

    The Killer sent Kasten a polite email with about 5 specific, targeted questions. I pumped Kasten's terse reply through the StanSpeak Translator to figure out what the hell he was really thinking, as if it's not obvious from the condescension in his reply (that's probably oozing out from the pixels of your screen).

    We sell very few season tickets and book a few tiny groups all winter long, except for opening day when we sell out to large swaths of organized Phillies fans instead of our real fans. For every game of the season, because clearly I'm going to obfuscate and give absolutely no indication that opening day is any different from a Thursday night in April against the Brewers. All of this is before any individual tickets go on sale. Most of our groups to random and unimportant midweek games are local. Some, especially large, organized groups shuttling thousands of fans for big games, are from out of town, and their money spends just the same. Its really that simple. Now be gone with you, you stupid fuck. 

    Amazingly that arrogant response didn't satisfy the Killer, so he went back, even pointing out that the Stanley Steamer hadn't actually answered any of the goddamn questions.  So Stanley wrote back.

    Again, moron (why won't you throw more softballs like your predecessor?), The ONLY 5,000 or so tickets made available to ANYONE in groups of 25 or more, which should be the typical size of a group of friends who just wanna catch a game, from ANYWHERE near Bucks County before the simpletons we call our fans could purchase tickets via the individual ticket sales date were season tickets (thanks SBF!) or groups. And let's remember that we didn't sell the game out until the day of the game, even though one of my talking points is that we sold it out in 7 minutes.  And even though I'm counting all the tickets we held back until the very last minute, which includes those for season tickets that we couldn't find any suckers to purchase, and those we held for VIPs and opposing teams.  Which is why , FOR EVERY GAME, putz, we hold back 400 tickets at $5 each that can only be purchased day of game.  It has absolutely nothing to do with getting college students in cheaply so they'll have more money to spend on beer.

    Killer still wasn't satisfied, so he went back for one more round: "One more question: Is a park with thousands of visiting fans on opening day detrimental to cultivating a long-term, loyal fan base?"  Uhoh.  He dared question the buck-naked Emperor.  

    Nice question, prick.  I think the best way to answer your pathetic little question is for you to think (for the first time in your life) about the difference between the crowds  at the meaningless Saturday exhibition and Monday's home opener. Same policies for everything, but for some reason, our efforts to market bus trips to Sunday's game to Philly fans didn't really work.. (And clearly I'm going to lie and say that more Red Sox fans saturday than Philly fans Monday.) But there's no denying there was a tangible qualitative difference in the two crowds, and I'll continue to willfully ignore the difference in meaning to those two games.. I'll let you draw your own conclusions because if I drew them myself honestly I'd come to the opposite conclusion of everything I've just fucking said to you.
    Also as anyone who has watched bad teams turn into good teams as I did standing on the sideline while Cox and Schuerholz turned around my Braves team, in any sport, these problems (where I'll pretend we're talking about attendance issues at large, instead of the issue of my own ticket office openly marketing tickets to Philly fans before our own fans)  dissipate as teams improve, as home teams followers get more numerous and more enthusiastic.  In the meantime, Nats fans can go fuck themselves, as long as they're doing it with officially licensed paraphernalia purchased at one of our fine Team Stores.  We don't really need your goddamned money now.  And we know you'll be back once we're good... in 15 years or so.


    The only thing worse is that Kasten doesn't see any difference between an exhibition and opening day. Considering the fuck it attitude his boys have had in putting a roster together I probably shouldn't be surprised.

    Monday, April 05, 2010

    You're Winning 'Em Over, Stanley

    I'd like to associate myself with every word of this post.  Good ol' Nate beat me to it.

    This was Opening Day. The game that was supposed to showcase Mike Rizzo's rebuilt, revitalized Nationals. I've seen a lot of embarrassing things on and off the field over six years of Nats fandom, but I was never embarrassed to be a fan of this franchise until today.

    This one isn't bad either.

    But I am mad. Mad at the people that hide behind the bad team. Front Office, Ownership, Jim Riggleman, The Puppet Masters, whatever you want to call them, I don’t care. What took place at Nationals Park this afternoon has to be absolutely insulting and infuriating to what is left of the Washington Nationals fan base. I have never seen a team go to such lengths to completely alienate its own fan base.

    Yeah yeah yeah. Mark Lerner aches inside at the loss. He hurts so much.

    They lost to Ol' Roy. That's going to happen. But they lost big. They lost embarrassingly. And they lost in front of a Philly crowd. Heck of a job there, Stanley.

    But what do they care. Figure, to be conservative, the average patron is pooping and peeing out a bunch of concessions tonight and add that to the ticket prices. $50 average seem fair? $50 X 42,000 tickets and they're looking at grossing $2 million bucks.

    That's a hell of a consolation prize.

    Sunday, April 04, 2010

    In Which I Read an Interview and React

    SBF at Nats 320 got Cousin Mark Lerner to answer a few questions. I've seen a few reactions on the ol' Twitter machine, so here we go. I'm reading it now, and what follows is my immediate reaction, stream-of-consciousness style.

    Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming... sorry... wrong stream of conscience.

    "We never forget that it was the promise of area stakeholders, after all, that convinced Major League Baseball to return to D.C."

    I thought it was the $600 million in taxes and fees DC gave up.

    "I think that the 2010 Nationals team is going to be one of the most intriguing in all of baseball."

    I'm not sure that intriguing means what he thinks it does.

    "we are eagerly waiting for two of the most exciting rookie pitching prospects in recent years to make their big league debuts."

    Ok, I'll give you Strasburg. But silly Mark! Brian Matusz debuted last year.

    "there is no doubt in my mind that we should be close to realizing the returns for having spent the last several seasons building our minor league system, improving our scouting and player development, and putting the pieces together for a team that can begin competing in the National League East."

    The returns of building a minor league system? Is that why they had to pump all that money into the system this past offseason so they could be fully staffed, instead of running a skeleton crew of morons? Once Strassy and Storen debut, that minor league system looks awfully damn thin again.

    Also, while I'm not much on the value of mission statements, it's telling that his goal is 'competing' not 'winning' the NL East.

    "I can’t begin to tell you how painful the last couple of seasons have been as we continue to go through the building process."

    We know how painful it's been, Mark. We love baseball, and your team has managed to suck some of the joy out of it. And there's that "continue" word. You basically admitted you just started building an organizational infrastructure this offseason. How could you be continuing then?

    "I kept wishing there was some magic formula for skipping over the foundation-building phase"

    Well, firing your incompetent play-toy GM who licked your ass before last season might've helped. Having a full compliment of scouts and front office personnel might've helped too.

    "but history and the experience of folks like team president Stan Kasten, told me otherwise."

    If the Kasten/Bowden rift rumors were true, then you should've listened to Stan the Shark earlier.

    "First, I think we have a better club position-by-position than we’ve ever had at the start of a season here under the current ownership"

    If that hurdle were any lower, it'd pop back out of the ground in China.

    "I think we have more talent throughout the organization than we’ve ever had"

    Great. My net worth is higher than its ever been, but I'm still not rich.

    "We inherited an organization with a shallow, poorly-rated farm system and now have talent that goes deep into the minor league system and is the envy of the major leagues."

    Middle-of-the-road, at best. If they're ranked higher, it's because of Strasburg. And he was hardly a product of their devotion to scouting. They get credit for having him, but it's like the ol' story about being born on third base...

    "I was reminded how different the second half of a season can be from the first. I learned from Nyjer Morgan just how fast a team can turn around and how exciting it is to have a smart and fast leadoff hitter."

    This is dangerous. While it was great to see the team improve -- and the upgrade from Milledge to Morgan was impressive -- I don't want this guy thinking that a hot streak (even one that lasts a few months) is progress. Sometimes it's just a fluke. Morgan's a solid player, but he's not a .330 hitter, or whatever the hell he batted last year.

    "I was reminded how enjoyable it is having three, four and five hitters capable of knocking the ball out of the park."

    ... in a 10-7 loss.

    "More importantly, I learned not to take topical criticism to heart; that criticism fired at you one day may be absolutely reversed the next without changing a thing."

    I'm assuming this is re: the 'cheap' thing and the progress of the minor leagues? in both cases, if so, it's another case of this guy believing his own press clippings.

    "I learned that the media often feeds off itself without ever having verified information. That was hard for me to grasp. I still thought there had to be a source, or truth, to an issue before it was printed or repeated. I learned otherwise, but I figured out how to avoid getting bothered by it, that tomorrow is another day."

    Here is is with his paranoid rant against the media. What a maroon. They're out to get you, Mark! Seriously... this guy doesn't know how lucky he has it. The only ones who lob shots at him are the idiots like me who have no voice/influence. The media in this market, while terrific guys, are rubber-toothed, especially compared to other markets. These guys would get the shit ripped out of them in any real major-league city, instead of having roses and bouquets thrown at them by Tom Boswell. The only columnist who ever took a few slaps at 'em had his paper ripped out from underneath him.

    The cluelessness in this statement just infuriates me. Yeah, the team gets ripped in the national media, but what do they expect? They had a buffoon of a GM. They couldn't spell the team's name right on their own jerseys. They had front office people resign/fired in disgrace. And they've had two years of being the worst team in the majors, including a long stretch last year where they were challenging the worst team in modern baseball history. What did he want? Nobody in this market really ripped the owners. Nobody nationally really ripped the owners. Yet this guys feelings are heart? Get over yourself, and get a goddamn clue.

    "I know the Nationals are moving in the right direction, and I know the pieces are falling into place, but I have to remind myself that not everyone can see what I see, and that good things often take longer to become evident than you’d like."

    I wonder how the emperor is enjoying his new clothes.

    "Trust me, no one wants to win more than we do. No one is more impatient than we are"

    Here he goes playing this card. I don't know if the team's PR staff reads this any more, but if they do, and they're going to take anything from this rant, please tell your boss to NEVER EVER EVER EVER SAY THIS AGAIN. I WANT TO WIN. EVERYONE READING THIS WANTS TO WIN. It's insulting when he says this.

    "Building a professional sports franchise is very much like the development business in that doing things right demands a good foundation, a sound design plan, a disciplined group of builders, an eye for detail and an absolute commitment to excellence. If you follow that model in sports or in building development, then you will be successful."

    ... and succesfful financing/capitalization. Hey, that's missing for some reason.

    "Obviously, the biggest difference in the two businesses is that in development you don’t get so much public attention until the work is completed. In professional sports there is always going to be public scrutiny of the work in progress"

    Awwww. Maybe he can take some of his billions and buy the bitchin'est set of noise-canceling earphones then.

    "We are still young enough as a franchise that we have to focus on getting more fans in the habit of coming to a game at Nationals Park. I honestly believe that anyone who comes to a game will want to come more often."

    He doesn't get it. He really doesn't.

    FANS COME TO SEE WINS. WINS MEAN MORE FANS. It's simple. Even if someone has a good time at the ballpark eating all the food and drinking all the beverages, they're not going to come back as often if they see a 14-5 loss.

    "There is no other sports franchise in America that can claim to represent the National Pastime in the Nation’s Capital."

    Yay Monopolies!

    "We want everyone who visits Washington, D.C. to see the White House, the Capitol, and all the monuments, to join us when they spend their summer evenings in our city."

    ... as they watch their team beat the Nats.

    "We are one Metro stop from the U.S. Capitol"

    Hmm... Capitol South or Union Station are closest to the Capitol right? I could be off on my knowledge of the Metro, but I'm in better shape than Mark. I wonder when he last stepped on to Metro on his own, without a team of handlers to escort him.

    " absolutely the finest sports venue to see the Capitol lights at night. "

    OK, the hurdle is now 15 feet above Beijing.

    "until the very last day of our season, whenever that may be"

    Oh, I think we're pretty safe in booking the nonrefundable airfares now, buddy.

    "We’ve also hired a new group of marketing executives in our front office since last season and I think you will soon be most pleased with their handiwork."

    YES! More people to tell me that this bag of manure tastes terrific.

    "That being said, I don’t think anyone who has knowledge of our bid for Mark Teixeira, followed by our signing of Adam Dunn, the extension to Ryan Zimmerman, or the draft signings of MLB top draft choices Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen, can argue that we haven’t opened our pocketbooks to smartly spend to get better."

    Chapman, Crow, any other FA pitcher out there this season, etc. Nobody ever argued that they wouldn't spend period. At least I didn't. I just argued that they didn't appear willing to spend commensurate with their revenues. And so far that's held up.

    " I also think our off-season addition of pitcher Jason Marquis, Pudge Rodriguez and others, shows a commitment to spending when we need to."

    It shows something.

    "I think we are on course, and I think our record during the last 15 months probably is the best answer to your question. "

    Would you care to revise and extend your remarks?

    "You may not know this, but the Nationals were actually the second highest bidder for Chapman."

    Yes, we did know it because it became one of the team's talking points. That fact about about $7.50 will buy you a shitty Bud Lite at the ballpark.

    "I think every team in baseball now has an eye toward talent everywhere. We are no different."

    And this is precisely the problem with The Plan! It's not that the team shouldn't be doing this, but if they do it, they can't half-ass it like they have (apparently) since the Lerners took over. EVERY team is trying to do The PLAN! It's not enough to do it. You have to BE BETTER than the other teams -- with a little dose of luck.

    It's not enough to say that you're going to invest in the minors and player development, which they apparently hadn't been doing in the way they had told us they were doing. They need to be THE BEST. And so far, they haven't. Take away Strasburg, and the PD machine has been middling, at best.

    "The short answer to your question is that, yes, we are interested in talent from anywhere in the world."

    So where are you actually doing it? Where's the results? Where are the actions? Do you have anything to show for this besides sending Bill "Ping Pong" Singer overseas for a fortnight?

    Alright... real baseball's on. Enough for now.

    The Worst Thing You'll Read All Day

    via Nats Journal

    The Nationals' bench will include infielder Cristian Guzman (whom Riggleman did not entirely consider a bench player because Guzman should receive consistent at-bats), catcher Wil Nieves, infielder Alberto Gonzalez, outfielder Willie Tavares and utility player Mike Morse.

    As far as the Olsen/Mock kerfuffle, a little perspective, please. No matter the answer, it's wrong.

    Meanwhile, at least we're not Mets fans.

    Thursday, April 01, 2010

    About Those Fatcats

    If you saw the pictures floating around Teh Internets, you saw that the Nats made some big upgrades. No, we're not talking about our new rightfielder (either Guzman or Tavares), but to the Diamond Club. Supposedly, us plebes are supposed to be thrilled, living vicariously through the richies. So long as we know that they're dining and drinking in the lap of luxury, my overpriced, crappy seat in the outfield will be all the more magical. Or something like that.

    Notably, the team spit out the talking point that they spent $2 million to upgrade the Diamond Club. (I'll pause here so you can take your hands off the keyboard, and do the 'big whoop' popping noise with your forefinger in your cheek.) Among the changes was the removal of bar that commemorated the last World Series championship the city saw way back in 1874 -- or something like that; i'm one of those stupid unappreciative carpetbaggers. In its place is something that looks eerily similar to something I saw at the Kansas City Hilton's "hip" bar. (Or maybe that was the Motel 6 in Paducah?)

    At any rate, if you're a red-blooded Nats fan, you're probably contemplating what else that $2 million could've been spent on. (I'm sure you're envisioning a right fielder not named Tavares, for one.)

    Why are they upgrading the richies so much? Well, cause they kinda have to. When the team opened the stadium, they forced people who wanted suites, boxes or some Diamond Club season tix to enter into a minimum 3-year contract. This would be the third year, and given how many of those boxes are empty, they need to do whatever they can to hold on to the base they have.

    That motivation to upgrade the suites probably partially accounts for the Pudge and Marquis signings. Not only do they need to make these self-important morons feel even more self-importanter, they need to make these self-important morons think that we're a year away. If they can push the 2011 narrative, along with upgraded services, that's more renewals next year and more money for them to spend on the major-league payroll.

    HAHAHAHAHA. Sorry. Got carried away there for a second.