Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fouled-Off Bunts: Everybody Loves PLoD Edition

Thanks to loyal reader Kevin for passing along this story with David Wright suggesting that Paul LoDuca should have to be waterboarded.
"I'd like to think that maybe there's some fabrication [about Lo Duca in the report], or maybe it's not all true," Wright said. "But I've said it from day one - whether it's my best friend in the game or whoever, if they get caught . . . using performance-enhancing drugs or steroids, there should be a harsh penalty."

Lots of Nats fans agree with you, Davey!

  • The Post has a story on Nick Johnson's comeback attempt. He's working out heavily, dropped some pounds, and thinks he's going to be able to be ready for spring.

    I'm glad to see the quotes in there from Manny about the importance of NJ's OBP. It's a strong indication that he realizes that NJ is the superior player -- offense AND defense -- to DY. No matter how tingly DY's story made us feel last season, the team would've scored more and allowed fewer runs had NJ been there. And, of course, Ryan Zimmerman would've won the gold glove.

  • I'm glad to see that the Nationals are sponsoring job training fairs for their employees. It's always terrific when a company steps up and helps its employees who just can't make it in the world today, giving them the skills and direction they need to find a career to which they are more suited.

  • The Nationals finally got around to putting up single-ticket prices for the upcoming season. Yegods. Are they trying to reduce demand? Those bleacher seats in the outfield have to be among the very worst buys in all of professional baseball (outside any ticket to a Rays game). $35 to sit in the bleachers? $27 to sit in the upper deck over the bleachers?

    They changed the premium pricing fiasco a bit this year. The days no longer line up one-for-one with the bobblehead that they're making you pay for. Instead, it's all Saturday games, and a series against the Cubs. That's a little more reasonable.

  • Noted asshole Jerry Reinsdorf now says that the ballpark site was a mistake. (I love how the picture there makes him look like a hot air balloon -- an accurate depiction if there ever was one)

    Since he was in charge of the process and he strong-armed the city into hiring his son's firm as a ballpark "consultant" (I think I saw that in an episode of The Sopranos), I'd imagine that he'd be willing to refund the city some of the $3.7 million the firm charged, right? right? hello? this thing still on?

  • Cause I'm lazy, I never mentioned anything about the Rauch/Lopez arbitration filings. They're close, so who cares?

    The surest sign that the person you're talking to doesn't know anything or doesn't think things through is when they start the cliched rant about "Gee, I wish I could fail at my job and get a 20% raise." Blah blah blah. That's not a fitting analogy though. If you want to make it fit, you'd have to accept the front end of it, too.

    Lopez might be getting a raise after a lousy season, but was he really worth just $400,000 when he hit 23 homers and made the All-Star Game in 2005? Nope. If you want to extend the analogy about being lousy at your job, you'd have to work under a system where for the first 3-6 years of your career, you'd be vastly underpaid relative to the quality of your work with ZERO control over how much your boss paid you. He'd pay you what he want, often near minimum wage, and you'd be expected to still bust your ass, otherwise there'd be no way to ever make more than the minimum.

    Not only is the man not paying me enough in my early years, I can't shop my services around. I know I'd like to lock myself into a long-term contract at a nice firm in a warm, tropical climate, but I can't. My company owns my rights until I've given them six solid years of work. Even though I've done well and could get myself some security with a 3-year deal someplace else, I can't. I'm bound to this godforsaken company with some asshat coworkers and investors who bitch and moan about how unproductive I am and complaining about the 'exorbitant' salary I'm making this year when they were more than happy to exploit me over my last few years of work.

    Is Lopez worth $5 million or whatever he's asking? Eh.... maybe, maybe not. But don't begrudge him his efforts. And keep this in mind: If deep down in their hearts, the Nationals didn't think they could beat $5 million in labor out of his sorry carcass, they'd have non-tendered him. You think Uncle Teddy just likes throwing away money?

    Nats fans, I've noticed from reading the message boards -- yeah, it's a weakness! -- have a 'Unless I've personally seen it, it didn't happen' attitude combined with one of "what have you done for me lately." In Lopez' case, that's a double-edged sword that's slicing him twice with each swing.


    • God Damn, Chris, you took the argument right outta my mouth. I hate the way players are paid during club control years, and love to seem them making some dough in the later years.
      Zimm got $400K last year. Seriously. Really. Pathetic, but ain't nothing he can do about it. Stan and the Lerner's will have to pony up soon, though.

      By Blogger Section 138, at 1/24/2008 10:17 AM  

    • Reinsdorf's point about parking is valid, obviously, but I don't think it means they picked the wrong site, it just means they need more parking. This is a problem that has a solution, the question is whether the inept DC government can solve it anytime soon. It doesn't mean the park should have been in Virginia, where you would essentially be blowing off DC and MD fans (we all know it's hard to get us to cross the river, from either side).

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/24/2008 10:17 AM  

    • "Is Lopez worth $5 million or whatever he's asking? Eh.... maybe, maybe not. But don't begrudge him his efforts."

      I don't begrudge Lopez asking for $5.2M, which I believe is what his figure is. You're right, he'll never get more money if he doesn't ask for it himself. No one else is going to do his asking for him. (Okay, technically I guess his agent will. Whatever, you get my drift.) What pisses me off is that the team is going into his arbitration offering him a $1M raise. That's 25% over the $3.9M he got in 2007, which as you say he may or may not have been worth. According to the rules of arbitration, they had to offer him a raise, but it doesn't have to be that much. They could have sent him a message by lowballing him on their offer, and then let the arbitrator make the decision as to how much he's really worth. Or if as some may say they don't want to further damage his fragile psyche by dragging him through the arbitration process, then why did they come in at only $300,000 less than what he's demanding? That's chump change! If they wanted to spare him the agony of arbitration, then why not just give him his $5.2M and be done with it? It's the team's whole "eh...whatever" attitude toward Lopez that pisses me off almost as much as Lopez's "eh...whatever" attitude on the field does.

      As for the outfield ticket prices, it's pretty evident that the team thinks those are much better seats than they appear to be from the stadium renderings and 3-D views. The season ticket prices were set high in those sections as well, and I'm not sure they sold as well as the team hoped they would. I guess we won't know until we get into the stadium and see them for ourselves. Maybe they really are great seats. If they're not, though, I predict there will be some price reshuffling next year if they sit relatively empty all of the 2008 season. Other sections that to me seem like much better seats (like my own in the lower rows of the Upper Infield Gallery) may be going up in price next year while those outfield seats go down.

      By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 1/24/2008 10:37 AM  

    • "Reinsdorf's point about parking is valid, obviously, but I don't think it means they picked the wrong site, it just means they need more parking."

      I think the ultimate solution to the parking dilemma would be to add parking options across the river in Poplar Point and build a pedestrian bridge across the river to the stadium. This would supplement whatever parking is ultimately available in the built-out Ballpark District and allow 360 degree access to the park, as was the case with RFK. Although I don't think having the total number of spaces as was at RFK is all that important, I think the 360 access would be a big improvement. However, as we all know, doing something like this is totally up to the DC government, since they control Poplar Point and would need to get the bridge built. So how likely is that to happen? One part of me actually hopes that the parking/traffic situation at Nats Park is the mother of all clusterfucks for the entire 2008 season so the DC Council will realize that they have no other choice but to do this.

      By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 1/24/2008 10:47 AM  

    • "$35 to sit in the bleachers? $27 to sit in the upper deck over the bleachers?"

      my impression was that there weren't any bleachers in the new ballpark. all would be seats with more leg room than upper deck RFK, cup holders, etc.

      Still seems pricey to me, though.

      You could compare these seats, with the arcade seats at the Giants ballpark (AT&T) which are in the $34-$40 range.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/24/2008 10:50 AM  

    • No, they're not literally bleachers... just figuratively.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 1/24/2008 10:53 AM  

    • The Rockies just signed Troy Tulowitzski to a 6 year $31 million dollar deal eventhough TT won't be eligible for arbitration for another couple of years. Very disappointed in the Lerners that they have not done the same with Zimmerman. Paying him just over the league minimum will be something that will haunt this franchise in later years.


      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/24/2008 11:01 AM  

    • With those eye watering ticket prices and the parking mess, the Nats better win rather quickly.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/24/2008 11:27 AM  

    • Looks to me like the spring training ticket prices at Space Coast Stadium have gone up by about 20% over last year.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/24/2008 11:42 AM  

    • abm: The team didn't know what Lopez was going to ask for until after they submitted their bid. They probably came up with a figure that they were comfortable defending to the arbitrator. The Nats didn't have to offer FLop a raise. Under the rules of arbitration they could have offered him a 25% cut. Of course this would have guaranteed that the arbitrator would have found for Lopez, no matter what he asked for. To defend such an offer the team would have had to drag up every negative thing they could think of at the hearing. And the point of "sending him a message" would be what? The Pirates did that sort of thing in the early 90s. Note how successful they have been since in getting good players.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/24/2008 2:02 PM  

    • "I think the ultimate solution to the parking dilemma would be to add parking options across the river in Poplar Point and build a pedestrian bridge across the river to the stadium."

      I think that is an excellent idea, but why add a pedestrian bridge? The new South Capitol St. bridge has pedestrian lanes on it and ends right at the stadium. It is still a pretty far walk from across the river, though. And there are no parking lots there... And, somehow, I imagine Councilmember Marion "Crackhead" Barry would not be excited about the "exploitation" of Poplar Point for parking. Still, it makes sense as an interim measure. It all makes me glad that I can walk to the stadium.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/24/2008 2:56 PM  

    • Let it at least be mentioned that Reinsdorf built his own stadium backwards. There could have been a fantastic view of the Chicago skyline over center field. Instead, there's a fantastic view of the Chicago skyline from the concourse behind home plate.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/24/2008 3:08 PM  

    • Something told me Bacsik's snark-immunity was but a temporary thing...

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/24/2008 3:50 PM  

    • The RFK site is mostly a get-in-and-get-out site for fans, which may be a desirable thing--given the ample parking--from a fan perspective. But there are few revenue opportunities from stadium-related development at the RFK site. In fact, that site could be better developed as commercial and residential without any stadium.

      However the chosen site has the advantage of developing an area of DC that needs it, from a DC perspective. Since DC money got us the team, it only makes sense that DC goals should be achieved.

      Why not give FLop two or maybe even three years--assunming he has his unspecified "problems" behind him? He will only be 27 opening day. The Nats can't develop his replacement in that length of time, and have no 2B prospects that I can think of, especially 2B guys who can play SS if needed. The Nats would be buying low in view of his lousy year. Plus he can lead off. This is mostly a question...I'm not sure about it.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/24/2008 6:33 PM  

    • How are the Nats "coming in low" for FLop if they offer him only $300,000 less than his asking price? One would think that no one would be setting FLop's value higher than FLop himself (or his agent, anyway). Thus his asking price is pretty much his max price, I'd think. The team could have "come in low" by offering him almost $1M less than they did (i.e. $3M) and it still would be a raise over the $2.9M he got in 2007 - for what everyone (including probably FLop himself, if he's being honest) would admit was a very subpar year for him. The Nats are not "coming in low" for FLop, which is what puzzles me.

      By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 1/24/2008 8:26 PM  

    • I'm not sure you understand how the arbitration process works.

      It's a winner-take-all format where players are compared to what similar players with similar levels of experience and stats are compared.

      If the team had 'come in low' as you suggest, they'd likely lose their arbitration case and end up paying him the higher amount anyway. Same thing... I'm sure Lopez' agent backed off his demands quite a bit because of the poor season he had last year. (My initial guess for his salary mid-season was in the 6-6.5 range, so that shows you the sort of range that he could've earned in theory).

      The winner-take-all format encourages both parties to come up with reasonable numbers. And if you look at the Nats' track record over the last two-three seasons and the wins they've had, you've gotta think that they know exactly what they're doing with this process.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 1/24/2008 11:34 PM  

    • I understand exactly how the arbitration process works. I don't think you understand the point I'm getting at. No one aside from Lopez and his agent would think he had the kind of year last year that would merit a big raise. He basically phoned it in for the entire season. Forty-five minute one-on-one therapy sessions with Manny made no difference. Many fans are screaming that the team should just dump his ass. Obviously that's not gonna happen because he's worth something in trade (how much is a matter of debate, of course, but it's greater than zero) and you just don't dump a player who could get you something in return unless he's really and truly worthless. Lopez isn't worthless, but he needs to change his attitude and up his game, or by this time next year he'll be a free agent that the Nats won't want to sign. In essence, they'll get nothing in return for what they pay him this year. So the arbitration process is the ideal place to send him a message, and they're not doing that. Why? If it's because they think that going to arbitration is going to damage his fragile psyche even more and destroy what little value he has now, then why are they prepared to do that over a measly $300,000? If it's really the case that Lopez could have gotten a million or so more if he hadn't phoned it in all last season, are you saying he all of a sudden came to his senses now and decided to ask for a reasonable figure to avoid being dragged through the arbitration process? If that's the case, then why hasn't he now just signed for that measly $300,000 less so that he can avoid arbitration entirely?

      It's this relatively tiny difference between the two figures that bothers me. It's as if the Nats are saying "We're sending you a message, dude" and Lopez is saying "Message received. I'll be a good boy from now on", but it's all just for show. Wink, wink, and all that. The fact that Lopez phoned in an entire season doesn't seem to bother either the team or him. They'll just proceed with business as usual. It's the whole "eh, whatever" aspect of all this that bothers me, because it doesn't bode well for Lopez showing any improvement this year, even though it's his walk year. He'll just figure "Eh, someone will sign me next year", and you know, someone probably will. I just hope it's not the Nats.

      By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 1/25/2008 8:35 AM  

    • Are we all at least in agreement that Rauch should get his $1.3M?

      By Blogger Eric, at 1/25/2008 10:54 AM  

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