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Didn't Make the Paper, Vol. VI

Your Nationals: Officially the Worst Team in Baseball this morning. We'll get to that.

So when I arrived at my hotel in the Buckhead section of Atlanta yesterday, I had a great view out my window - as I sat at the desk penning the Journal - at downtown Atlanta. (Atlanta: One of America's worst cities? Discuss. If you guys stir it up, I may offer my opinion at some point.)

Today, the view is gone. Complete haze/drizzle/fog. Can't see a single building downtown despite the fact I'm on the 24th floor and am probably two miles away. A quick check with our good friends at shows the hour-by-hour to read something like this:

Noon: Drizzle
1 p.m.: T-showers
2 p.m.: T-showers
3 p.m.: T-showers
4 p.m.: T-storms with those T-storms lasting right through game-time until we get to ...

10 p.m.: Scattered T-storms

We appear to be in peril tonight. (Insert well-at-least-they-won't-lose-one joke here.)

(Weather in New York this weekend, where the Mets are likely waiting with drool coming out of the corners of their mouths: High 40s, with rain on Sunday, the end of the road trip.)

Okay, on to DMTP: I had a short note in my notebook in the $.35 edition that got bumped out when Ray King got hurt (we'll get to that). The entire clubhouse seems to have come down with some sort of flu-like thing. (Insert that's-not-the-only-bug-they-appear-to-have-caught joke here.) Ryan Zimmerman said he just had a cold, but other guys were worse. Among the ailing: Matt Chico (who pitched through it, but said it caught up to him after the game), Austin Kearns, Ryan Church (who was better than he had been over the weekend), John Patterson, etc. I am not - NOT - saying this had anything to do with last night's performance against Tim Hudson.

"Pretty weak today," Acta said. "We got four hits, three of them were bloopers." Well put.

King: Appears to have inflammation in his left shoulder. (Insert that's-not-the-only-place-he-has-inflammation joke here.)

King is struggling. He has made five appearances and has allowed hits in four of them. But you have to figure his shoulder was bothering him before last night. As he pointed out, he has only one appearance on the disabled list in his career, and that was in 2002, when he had inflammation in his elbow. He spent exactly 15 days on, and returned to pitch (he was then with Milwaukee).

Here's why King is important, and it's not because he's a veteran left-hander. (In fact, left-handed hitters are 2 for 5 with two walks against him this year.) If this thing is really being built for the future (and it's certainly not built for the present), then people like Ray King have to perform well for the Nationals so that they turn into tradable commodities in June and July. There is going to be a contender, without question, who needs a veteran lefty out of the pen. Would they be willing to give up a Jhonny Nunez (pitcher who came over in Marlon Anderson deal last year) for him?

Keep the big picture in mind here: You want Ray King, Ronnie Belliard and Dmitri Young (and even Robert Fick) to play well for the next two months, not just to help this team (which, last time I checked, needs some help), but because then they might be spun off for prospects. No, they won't land a Phil Hughes or a Matt Garza or anybody like that. Alfonso Soriano couldn't land those guys. But this organization needs depth. So what an injury to Ray King means to this '07 team is almost irrelevant. Potentially, it hurts future Nationals' teams.

What else? Stan Kasten back in his old haunts last night, making the rounds. It's worth noting that the attendance last night was a very RFK-like 18,396. The dirty little secret down here: As much as Kasten et al built the Braves' season-ticket base up from next-to-zero in the late 80s, it dwindled precipitously around the turn of the century. You can read into that whatever you want (and I personally think this is a horrible sports town unless you're a UGa football fan), but facts are facts.

It's something of a reunion road trip, what with Kasten and Pat Corrales back in Atlanta, then Manny Acta back at Shea Stadium over the weekend.

Tonight, assuming we can play: Jerome Williams has to play the role of stopper. He goes up against Chuck James. Did you see the Nationals' average the first time through the lineup in the $.35 edition? Yikes.

Also: Check the $.35 edition for a small minor league notebook. Mostly deals with the Fruto situation we discussed yesterday, but Old Friend Brandon Watson was also re-signed by the club after he was tossed aside by Detroit. He's at Class AAA Columbus (where Honest Abraham Nunez is on the DL). Signed to a minor-league deal. We may never see him again.

What didn't make the $.35 edition is that the Columbus Clippers won 1-0 over Louisville (which means the Clippers have given up one run in the last two games (and, also, scored one run in the last two games)) and Watson scored the lone run, hitting a triple and then scoring on Tony Batista's single. Tim Redding tossed six innings of three-hit ball, was relieved by Chris Schroder, who was relieved by Billy Traber, who was relieved by Chris Booker, who nailed it down. The relievers allowed three base runners among them, and Clippers pitchers struck out 11 guys (seven by Redding, three by Schroder in 1-1/3 innings).

Also: Yes, Joe Thurston asked for and granted his release. Does that actually warrant making the paper? Well, considering the one (1) time I mentioned him in the $.35 edition this spring was when he was cut, I think not.

Now, Worst Team in Baseball: I'm not trying to state the obvious. I'm just looking at the standings. At 1-7, the Nationals are now a half game behind the Phillies for the worst record in the game. Everyone else (except Philadelphia) has at least two wins. Ugh.

OK, that's it for now. I keep telling you I'll get you lineups and stuff when I get to the park, and then I fail to do so. Do you even want/need them by the time I can get them to you? I mean, it might not be till like 6-6:30, when hopefully you're eating dinner anyway.

And please, discuss Atlanta. I'm interested.

By Barry Svrluga  |  April 11, 2007; 11:31 AM ET
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