Thursday, July 07, 2005

Get Him Some Valium, Pronto!

The Nats lost a winnable game last night when Livan Hernandez turned ordinary. He allowed five runs in seven plus innings, and allowed Mike Cameron to demonstrate what happens when a major league bat actually connects with one of his Eephus Curveballs. Answer: It goes a looooong way.

But the story of the game wasn't so much the pedestrian pitching, but the pathetic offense. Maybe we're expecting too much, especially with Nick Johnson and Ryan Church out, and with Jose Vidro still working to get his timing back, but the team needed to do better off Tom Glavine.

They dribbed and drabbed him, working him for nine hits in just 5.2 innings. But the big, game-breaking hit never came.

And much of that falls squarely on the overly-testosteroned bat of the Lame Duck winner, Jose Guillen.

Unfortunately, it's not just for on-the-field performance. Some of the issues that have percolated below the surface have started coming to a head.

In Tuesday's game, Jose Guillen was drilled by Pedro. Pedro had exceptional control throughout the game, making it all the more likely it was intention. (Especially with two outs and the boisterous yet impotent Carlos Baerga on deck)

Guillen was clearly peeved, taking his sweet time to rip off his gloves and staring with a murderous rage I could feel from 300 feet away.

In the ninth inning, he let his adrenaline get the best of him, uncorking a wild throw, that even had it not been wild, would have been the wrong play because it allowed the tying run to move into scoring position.

After the game, Guillen was still steamed, refusing to talk to the media.

There was speculation that he was upset about his mental error on the throw or his being hit.

Well, now we know. Barry Svrluga reports that he got into a 'confrontation' in the dugout with Esteban Loaiza and Brian Schneider because they did not retaliate for the HBP.

Guillen's an ass. A complete ass. This isn't the first time that that hothead has let his personal vendettas get in the way of clubhouse issues. And it goes to show that the persona that he and the Nationals have created of a reformed man are horseshit.

Last season with the Angels, one of the boiling points, which ultimately led to his suspension, was his kvetching about the Angels not backing him up when he was hit by pitches.

Last year's blowup forced him to issue this apology, which rings just as hollow as all those puff pieces from earlier this season:
"If I hurt anyone I apologize. I apologize to our GM, our manager and especially to our pitching staff," Guillen said. "We have great chemistry here. Hopefully, this is not going to be a distraction for our team. Hopefully, we forget about it and take care of business."

I suspect we'll be seeing something similar soon. And it will be just as sincere, which is to say not much.

What's also troubling about this, other than the off-the-field crap, is that he let his obnoxiousness carry over into last night's game.

Every time he came up, he was trying to do too much, trying to hit that 5-run homer to win the game.

The approach to Tom Glavine is to go the other way, and to take the soft singles he gives up. One of the Baseball Primer Game Chatterers (#94) summed up the approach perfectly:
throw the bat at there at his soft, nothing fastball (which has NO differentiation from his change-up), which Glavine throws to exactly the same spot 93.5% of the time. They can hit soft little base hits all game long, knowing that Glavine can’t jam them inside and has no Plan B.... With Glavine, hitters can get easy “soft” hits pretty much any time they want.

Guillen needs to calm down and really deal with these demons he's fighting. The world's not out to get him. But if he continues these petulant antics, his teammates and the media will be. If he really is an MVP candidate, which some people are starting to wrongly trumpet him as, he needs to act like a leader instead of a self-absorbed brat.

Remind me again why they picked up his option two months ago?