Thursday, September 08, 2005

How Low Can You Go?

During yesterday's chat, someone asked Barry Svrulga what it's like trying to write about a listless game that really was never in doubt. While the question referenced Tuesday's game, it would've been even more appropriate for the allegedly major league baseball game they played yesterday. For all I know, the Nationals pitchers are still hemorrhaging runs.

Although things are dire for our constantly shrinking playoff hopes, there's one distressing storyline developing over the last week -- the sheer panic with which Frank Robinson is managing.

Due to his inability to get along with his players, combined with a general manager who lacks any sort of long-term plan (hey, when you're working on a 10-day contract, why worry about tomorrow), they've buried themselves in a pit. They simply lack pitchers.

Tuesday, they started and got two innings out of the kind of pitcher that Kansas City would call up just to see how he throws in a meaningless September game.

Yesterday, they got two-thirds of an inning out of the kind of pitcher that Kansas City would sign to a long-term deal. [rimshot]

John Halama isn't a horrible pitcher. As a fifth starter, he's probably serviceable.

But Frank doesn't want serviceable. He wants perfection.

And despite having the deck stacked against his team with Dontrelle Willis on the mound, Frank put his jack-booted heel on the team's throat from the first pitch.

And when Halama struggled in the first inning, Frank pushed harder. How many times in baseball history has a starting pitcher gone 2/3 of an inning while giving up just one run and been pulled without being injured? I'm pretty sure that Mordecai Brown could count it on one hand.

What do you suppose that Frank said to the relieving Travis Hughes? "Alright boy, let's go out there and be perfect."

As a result, he burned through the bullpen for the second straight night, wearing out arms that are already weary from a long season -- and arms that could be critical to closing out a game from one of the real starting pitchers we'll throw out there the next few nights.

But have no fear, there's a grand plan there too! We'll simply have our Triumverate throw on short rest. Hey, why not just go to a three-man rotation while we're at it?

I don't mind the idea, I suppose, but it worries me that the coach who knows the pitchers the best, Randy St. Claire, is opposed to it.

St. Claire is especially worried about Patterson. Is it worth burning out a pitcher for the Nats' dwindling playoff hopes -- especially a pitcher who's going to be so key to this team's future?

You know how we got in this situation. Check off the list: Ohka (malcontent); Day (Malcontent); Vargas (Not tough enough); Kim (Needed space for another OFer who was up for less than a week).

It's a mess of their own doing.

We can only hope that the 'fixes' they're proposing don't do any more damage to this team, and that their 'fixes' get the boot off this team's throat.

I wouldn't call this two-and-a-half-month slide a choke. But if the management of this team keeps their boots in place, the Nats will continue to wheeze.

OMG! has a problem with Frank too.


  • Agreed completely. The Nats lucked out (can we finally say that we were lucky?) in the first half and were in a very good position, but rather than capitalizing on that good fortune by improving the team slightly so they'd be able to hold on management decided that they really were a 100 win team and they'd deal with problems if and when they came up. So then the team wasn't prepared when they stopped winning one-run games and their hitting became poor enough and their pitching faltered slightly so and they just couldn't win anymore.

    By Blogger Harper, at 9/08/2005 3:15 PM  

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