Sunday, June 04, 2006

Roll Out The Barrel!

Three games, three wins! Is this June of last year?!

It's tempting to look at the Mets, Phillies and Braves recent struggles and want to look at the standings. Don't! The first step is getting back to .500 ball, so sit down. We're still seven games below .500. Think about that for a second. We'd have to win 7 in a row just to get back to level water. That's what happens when a team plays as crappily as this one did through its first six weeks.

To depress you further, to get back to .500 by the end of the season, they'd need to go 56-49 (.533) in their final 105 games. That's an 87-win pace over 162 games. To get to 90 wins, which is roughly where they'd need to be for a playoff spot, they'll need to go 65-40 (.619), which, over 162 games is a 100-win pace.

Possible? Sure. If Patterson comes back healthy, NJ stays upright, Livan stays where he's been in his last four starts, Armas keeps it up, Clayton keeps hitting like he has over his last two weeks, Jose Guillen comes back healthy, Brian Schneider steps up his game offensively and defensively, Ryan Zimmerman keeps making adjustments, Gary Majewski's arm trouble doesn't rematerialize....getting the picture?

Sure, one or two. Hell, even three of them are likely. But would you bet on them all? Just as last year, there's little margin for error, and the Nats are rooting for the 6-card, because all they have is an inside straight. (And what're the odds of hitting on your inside straight? 10.5:1 against. -- Looking at Philly, Atlanta, NY, StL, Cinci, Houston, Milwaukee, AZ, LA, SD, CO, SF, yep! That seems about right)

Now that we're all depressed, let's delve back into the fantasy!

  • Sunday was the Alfonso Soriano show. He had some beautiful plays; he had some wretched plays. In the first, he killed a rally by getting picked off second. In the fourth, he hit into his first double play of the year with the bases loaded when he had a chance to blow the game wiiiiiide open.

    But when you can do this, who gives a crap?

    It's clear now that Soriano's TRYING to hit homers, even more than before. He's always uppercutted the bejeesus out of the ball (watch that swing again for a classic example). And who's to blame him. On a dead-end team with a lame-duck contract, what does it matter? Home runs are fun. They're exciting. And each one he hits kicks his next contract up a few million lira. Besides, do you think that, if it did get to be a problem with his swing, that his homerun hitting manager or showboating GM would take him aside?

    I'm not trying to look the ol' gift horse in the mouth; I do value my fingers. But we need to keep this special kind of plate 'discipline' in mind when evaluating whether to make an attempt to sign him in the future. But that's for later....

    Needless to say, he's the Majority Whip for the game. But Tony Armas pitched a wonderful game, going 6 innings while giving up just one unearned run. Perhaps most important, he got through those innings with fewer than 90 pitches. He's been at his best when his arm is freshest, and this sets him up well for his matchup with the Phillies this week.

    Joe Torre likes today's games, where they've already won the first two games of the series, 'house money' games. Win or lose, he feels, they've accomplished everything they've set out to do. Accordingly, he'll often give regulars rest and see what the backups can do. Frank Robinson, apparently, believes in that idea too. It's just that the opportunities for demonstration have been much less frequent! Robert Fick started over Nick Johnson, and Brendan Harris gave Ryan Zimmerman a much-deserved day off. Still, they won. And damn, it feels good!

  • Bill Bray had and exciting Saturday night, winning his first major league game without even facing a batter thanks to Majority Whip winnger Brian Schneider. Not only did the complacent one throw out a runner trying to steal on Bray's first pitch, he hit the two-run homer in the successive inning which won the game for the Nats.

    Mike O'Connor was shaky, walking six batters in just over five innings. He did strike out three, but considering the walks, he was lucky to get out of it with just the three runs allowed. It was the worst outing of his career (which tells you he hasn't been that bad), and still the Nats won it.

    Chad Cordero made things interesting in the ninth, with a big assist to Royce Clayton. Clayton booted a would-be double-play grounder, and made all Nats fans clench their tummies in tighter.

  • Friday night turned into a rout as the Nats hit the Brewers starter, Dana Eveland, early and often. Ramon Ortiz pitched effectively, getting into the seventh while allowing just two earned runs. He didn't look especially sharp, but he got the job done. I'd like to think he's turned a corner, since he's starting to pitch better, but all the BP outings I saw have made me wary.

    Jose Vidro, though, wins the Majority Whip. He was the central figure in a few of the key rallies, lining three hits and scoring three runs. Vidro's had an interesting season as he's tried adjusting his swing to RFK. It's robbed him of much of his power, but he's turned into a singles-hitting machine. Imagine a fat, slow Ichiro without style. Yep, that's Vidro.

    • ouch, a compliment with a barb. jose is the man. this season has been weird with so little rbi's. he is a little fat and definitely slow. i don't think i've seen him run out a grounder ever.


      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/04/2006 9:33 PM  

    • 10.5 to 1? Try 70 to 1. Tradesports has us at a 1.4% chance of winning the division right now.

      And what happened to Mr. Optimist, 90-something wins this year? Did you lose him in Mexican restaurant in Minnesota too?

      By Blogger DM, at 6/04/2006 11:00 PM  

    • That's what I get for trying to not be literal with stats. ;)

      As far as the 90-win thing, that's what you get for believing half the crap I write. You think I know what I'm talking about? HA!

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/04/2006 11:09 PM  

    • The best part of that Soriano clip? The announcer's last sentence. "Home run number 21 for Soriano. Following a WALK to the PITCHER." You can practically taste his bile.

      By Blogger Mick, at 6/05/2006 1:22 PM  

    • About a month to go before the All-Star break, I'm hoping for a good .500 stretch of baseball until then. With only one road stretch coming it's certainly doable.

      By Blogger Harper, at 6/05/2006 3:31 PM  

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