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Ayala, Schroder arrive, Speigner, Abreu depart

This is what happens when you give up 24 runs in two nights. The moves are in, and they're a bit more interesting than we might have expected.

But first, we have a Nationals lineup for tonight:

Guzman -- 6
Lopez -- 4
Zimmerman -- 5
Young -- 3
Kearns -- 9
Church -- 7
Schneider -- 2
Watson -- 8
Bacsik -- 1

We knew Luis Ayala would be activated, but the Nationals did so today rather than Friday, which was the original plan. He could be ready from the bullpen tonight. As Jim Bowden said last night, "I want him getting those outs here." A healthy Ayala - the early '05 version - is a pretty valuable commodity.

Here's the surprise: They also recalled right-hander Chris Schroder from Class AAA Columbus. He had a turn in the big leagues last year, and he has a sneaky fastball, but he needed to work on his slider. He's striking out a ton of guys - 12.3 per nine innings - in the minors, but is he doing it with his slider? We'll find out. Schroder was 2-2 with a 1.64 ERA in 26 appearances at Columbus.

We knew Brandon Watson was on his way because Robert Fick's mom died, and Fick was placed on the bereavement list today. Interesting that Manny Acta said after last night's game that Watson is coming up to start immediately, basically saying the platoon of Langerhans and Logan isn't working. We'll see how long that lasts.

So people have to go down, and here they are:

Levale Speigner and Winston Abreu were both designated for assignment.

If you read the gamer this morning, you kind of got the feeling that I knew Abreu was on his way out. A tough spot. This isn't a 23-year-old getting his first taste. He's 30 now, and this could well be his last shot. He was 2-1 with a 6.38 ERA in 19 appearances, including a couple brilliant multiple-inning stints, but he had been scored upon in his last six outings, and he was really down about it all last night.

Speigner, to me, is the most interesting move. He's a Rule 5 pick who split his time between Class AA and AAA last year in the Twins' organization, and I think if he hadn't been thrust into the rotation because of injuries, he might not be in this position. He went 2-3 with an 8.77 ERA, was largely throttled in his six starts, and returned to the bullpen last night. He extended the damage started by Jason Simontacchi in that outing, and the Nationals will likely say they had no choice.

The Twins have the right to pay $25,000, I believe, to take him back. He'll also be exposed to waivers. (Dangers of blogging: I need to double-check the rules on Rule 5. I think all that's right, but don't quote me yet.) (Wow, how out-of-date is my Word program? "Blogging" comes up on spell check.) There's a chance the Nationals could lose either Abreu or Speigner. We'll see in coming days.

Last night was nasty, no? I talked with several people at the beginning of this homestand who thought 2-4 against the Tigers and Indians would be decent. I agreed. Now, they must go 2-2 the rest of the way.

That's it for now. I have a chat at 1 p.m. Please discuss all this here, and we'll talk then.

By Barry Svrluga  |  June 20, 2007; 11:13 AM ET
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Next: How to build a champion


Steve wondered yesterday: "Two people have to go ... Abreu and Bacsik maybe?"

... I might not have agreed with him that Bacsik, would be a logical choice but I certainly wouldn't have expected it to be Levale. Call me naive but I simply figured Rule 5 would have offered enough of a hindrance that someone else might have been selected. Maybe even Ray K.

... I guess I don't understand Rule 5 well enough. I had the impression it was a solid state, for both the team and the player. If you took hold of someone by that route, I figured it meant you planned to hang on to him more tightly than others. Am I wrong in that?

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 20, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

"Interesting that Manny Acta said after last night's game that Watson is coming up to start immediately, basically saying the platoon of Langerhans and Logan isn't working. We'll see how long that lasts."

Barry -- Just to clarify, is this something you're implying by Manny Acta's choice, or is this something that he expressed?

Posted by: Chris | June 20, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

It appears that Speigner was so bad that they just decided the space he occupied was better suited to a garbage disposal. Be very interesting to see how Schroeder does this time around. Watson earned another look, hope he takes advantage of it. No pop in the bat, but heck, be nice if he could occupy some space on the basebaths and have better judgement in centerfield. What the heck do they have to lose? nothing

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | June 20, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Considering Speigner's record this year, I'd be surprised if anyone was to pick him up. But then, that one good game he had might convince someone that with the "right" coaching he'd be good. As for Abreu, he had great presence on the mound but the results just weren't there consistently. Maybe a little more coaching somewhere where pitching is not at such a premium and he'll make it back.

Still think Langerhans is the right answer and Logan is definitely the wrong answer

I like Bacsik because he seems to be more of a complete ball player (covering bases, throws to 2nd, etc.), just wish he could pitch better.

Tonight's gonna be better.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 20, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I like the moves--Speigner was killin me. And I'm kinda excited to see Ayala again. BWat deserved another look after breaking a 93 year old record and Abreu? No.

Posted by: .390 | June 20, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

To me, the only reason to play Langerhans is in the hopes that he gets his average up and can be traded later to a contender who can use late inning defensive help.

He's a .240 lifetime hitter with very little power. I don't see how he can fit into the Nat's future unless either his bats picks up a lot, or we get one heck of lumber yard hitting around him.

Nook and Brandon, on the other hand, are green enough so that I want to see what improvement they can make given some playing time and absent the pressure of being yanked out of the lineup if they go into a slump.

Posted by: joebleux | June 20, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

As I said in an earlier post, I am far from having given up on Bacsik.

If Speigner clears waivers, the Nats could always offer him a minor-league contract without the Rule 5 restrictions. (Whether they should is of course another matter.)

Posted by: Hendo | June 20, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

To me, Langerhans has more "presence" than Logan. Logan always looks like he's confused and just along for the ride. With Langerhans, I can always hope for a hit, with Logan, I just hope that he strikes out rather than hit into a double play. I also see more effort in the field from Langerhans than I've ever seen from Logan.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 20, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I guess the thing about Rule 5 is that you basically eat up all the options that you have as a rookie... seems to me that is the only difference between a regular contract and the conditions that a Rule 5 player has...

When you distill it down to that, Rule 5 isn't such a big deal... especially if you're in the Nats' situation, where you have proven pitchers coming back to the main club.

I feel bad for Speigner, but "The Show" is cruel.

On a different topic that was big yesterday, Barry, you should let your editors know that there is a huge value to this blog, because (I think all would agree here) we've gotten a huge insight into the individuals and personalities in the clubhouse. I am sure that the casual fan that isn't reading NationalsJournal has no appreciation for what Robert Fick is going through, and also Cordero, and all the rest of the team, with all of their individual quirks, successes and failures, etc... where we get a very rich description through your writing.

Way awesome, dude.

Posted by: Wigi | June 20, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I feel bad for Speigner, too, and think it was unfortunate that injuries in the rotation led to his being thrown out there rather than developing in the 'pen.

I agree on the value of the blog. Great stuff!

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 20, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Re: Speigner

He wasn't much better in the pen, if I recall. I seem to have a memory of him walking one or two runs in before giving up a big hit. Rule 5 is for kids like Flores, who can sit back and learn from sages (or kids that have been through the ringer, I guess), not for kids like Speigner, green arms that need to mature through AA and AAA experience.

My guess is JimBo wasn't betting on 4 of his 5 replacements going down (crazy hunch, I know!) and meant to have Speigner do minor damage in the pen all year in hopes of turning him into something in three years. Given that this is no longer our team's reality, we need to drop him quick and get something that we can use.

Best wishes Levale, I hope to see you beat Santana again one day.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 20, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Can't argue w/ Abreu, even though it's a heart breaker. I hope he gets another look or they trade/release him so he can try to get on somewhere else. I think he can be an effective middle reliever for someone.

Speigner is really tough. From what I remember, he was reasonably effective from the pen before being pressed into service as a starter. Why punish him for that? He was as good as King, he just isn't left handed.

Watson deserves a shot so that makes sense while Fick is out.

I think Bacsik is on the bubble when Bergman comes back this weekend. I like him but he just isn't quite getting it done and all of a sudden it's very competitive to stay on the roster as a pitcher.

Bowie won't go even when all the starters are back because he is easily the most effective leftie this year. They should send down King before Bowie.

Hope Bergman and Hill and stay healthy and maybe even get Patty back in a couple of weeks. Now if we just had an outfielder that could hit. Might be time to trade a pitcher for a decent outfielder. Tough call.

Posted by: mlwagnercpa | June 20, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Good point, Section 506. I'd forgotten about the Cubs game where he walked in a few. Thanks for the info on Rule 5 aims.


Re: Speigner

He wasn't much better in the pen, if I recall. I seem to have a memory of him walking one or two runs in before giving up a big hit. Rule 5 is for kids like Flores, who can sit back and learn from sages (or kids that have been through the ringer, I guess), not for kids like Speigner, green arms that need to mature through AA and AAA experience.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 20, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Re "blogging," Barry, I'm using Word 2K3 and the word gets redlined there too, although surely there was much bloggery being committed at that time.

(I'm typing this in Firefox, which also spell-checks. It's letting me get away with "blogging," but not with "redlined" or "bloggery.")

Posted by: Hendo | June 20, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Re. "blogging," MS Word 2002 redlines it and during a spell-check helpfully offers the following alternatives:


p.s. I've heard good things but have yet to switch to Firefox. I still use Netscape and would like to have an integrated email function.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 20, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Ditto on the value this blog has. I feel so fortunate to be getting this inside information Barry gives us. Like a juicy little secret. But don't discount the value the rest of you wise commenters bring. I learn almost as much from you all as I do from Barry.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 20, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Funny thing in the next-to-last question in your chat. Someone from Arlington asked earlier about specific sections in the NEW stadium, and someone from Springfield wrote in describing those sections as they pertain to RFK. Oops.

Posted by: Not Springfield | June 20, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Langerhans is an above average #5 outfielder. He has value, but he is not going to develop into a better hitter at this point. When he gets hot for a week at a time give him 5 starts. Otherwise he needs to be a late inning replacement. I am among those who have suggested that Logan needs to be sent down, but I have not given up on him. I think he can still improve as a hitter and defender, I think he needs to go down to do it. Watson deserves another shot and could potentially be a decent leadoff man. Let him roll for a couple of weeks at least.

Posted by: NatBisquit | June 20, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I want to be there next year when that person from Springfield goes online and buys a ticket for a game at new-stadium prices, and then shows up at RFK and sits in the same-numbered section. Boy, will they ever be pissed! Although maybe they'll get lucky and see a good soccer game while they're there...

Posted by: Section 419 | June 20, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Barry, so what exactly happens in personnel shifts like this? By the time we hear about it, hopefully the players already know. But how exactly does it happen? Did Manny have to call Abreu and Speigner in his office? Is it as bad as firing someone? That can't be easy. How do the players react? Do they just go empty out their lockers? Say goodbye? (Cry?)
Wasn't Manny just Mr. Supportive of Levale, saying that starting him like he did was a lot to ask of the kid? I hope it wasn't a big surprise for Levale (your gamer hinted it wasn't a surprise for Abreu).
How do shifts like this must affect the rest of the clubhouse?

Posted by: NatsNut | June 20, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut, don't you know? There's no crying in baseball!

Posted by: Section 419 | June 20, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Doh! You got me 419! What was I thinking???

Posted by: NatsNut | June 20, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Re: CF

If the Nats don't make a play for a free agent CF this winter, I'd be surprised. Thus, in the long run, it may not really matter who's playing now. Langerhans is a useful extra outfielder on a good team but hasn't added much value to a mediocre one. I was high on Nook & have been very disappointed. It seems unlikely his game will improve much at 28.

So, let Watson play every day this week. If he hits, he can stay & Nook can go. If he isn't, you've sent a good message to the farmhands that you'll get a chance if you play well & the Nats have auditioned another player without losing anyone.

Posted by: Section 418 | June 20, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse


Manny, quoted in the gamer:

"We already gave the platoon we have here a chance, and we've seen the numbers that are there, so we're going to give a chance to Watty."

I'm guessing "we've seen the numbers" is what Barry is referring to when he writes "Manny Acta said...the platoon of Langerhans and Logan basically isn't working."

Posted by: John in Mpls | June 20, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Natsfan1a muses: "I still use Netscape and would like to have an integrated email function."

For integrated email, I've talked with people who like Mozilla Thunderbird, which is built into Mozilla's new SeaMonkey product. Haven't tried it myself. As much as I travel, a web mail client is a must so I can access my mail from places where I can't connect with, or don't have, my laptop. I've been relying on Yahoo! for personal mail and SpamArrest for business mail.

Either Firefox or Netscape works very well for bloggistry -- to sneak back on topic, kinda.

Think good thoughts for Bacsik. See you tonight at RFK.

Posted by: Hendo | June 20, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Firefox has a Nationals toolbar feature. It's really nothing to get excited about, unless you like an old Nats news scroll and a Nats icon that links to the homepage.

That being said, I still installed it. But hey, I'm the idiot with Nationals floormats in my car.

Posted by: John in Mpls | June 20, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I believe the Rule V mechanics are exposed on waivers, if clears waivers, must be offered back to the old team for $25k.

Posted by: duglow in NC | June 20, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I have always been high on speigner. That being said I'm pretty sure the twinkies won't pay the 25K to get him back, and that he will clear the waiver wire. I think that we will sign him to a minor league deal and we will track him where he needs to be right now, down at AA or AAA.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | June 20, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Hendo and John in Mpls, for the Mozilla/Firefox info. Will have to explore further. And confidential to John, re. the Nats floormats, I don't have those yet but have plenty of other Nats gear, so I must be an idiot, too! ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 20, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

sort of off topic, but in the realm of roster moves: trading...

would love insider info/players opinions from Barry Svrluga on this, but chatters please discuss:

for free agent signees who are doing well for us (e.g Belliard, Young), exluding the whole build-the-farm-system logic, do we owe it to them to trade them to a contender so they can try and win a[nother] ring? As older veterans, do they want this? and if they would prefer to go to a contender, would they be appreciative enough of that chance to resign with the Nats in the offseason?

on some level, i'd like to see them sign extensions with the Nats if we can get them to sign contracts that aren't huge, but i wonder if the players themselves had just seen the Nats as an audition for other teams.

Posted by: bob | June 20, 2007 6:54 PM | Report abuse

The Levale move is surprising in that it didn't happen sooner and now it's a throwaway Rule V pick. When he was asked to start, I don't think anyone would have predicted he was going to be an effective starting pitcher. He threw that one good game against Santana but otherwise he performed exactly the way one would expect a young middle reliever who needs more time in the minors to perform.

Why invest almost 3 months of the MLB season in him and then cut him? If he was going to do this, JimBow should have done it much earlier. There was no reason to put Levale in the rotation, set him up for failure, and then designate him for assignment. Manny (and I'm sure others) were appropriately supportive, but to me, mid-June is way too late in the game to be cutting a Rule V pick.

Rule V picks, in general, are gambles

Posted by: FS Nats Watcher | June 20, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

right on topic here, bob, or would be if we had one, but:
non-contenders would be unlikely to trade for such guys mid-season, so, yeah, they'll go to contenders, not to worry. And they are pros, they know the deal. But "owe it to them"? prolly not - they do get paid to do this. That said, depending on who they ultimately get for him, Dmitri probably gets a really nice Christmas card, if I'm Kasten. I doubt the Nats would pursue him again, but they had a nice back-and-forth with LOOGy Mike Stanton, so you never can tell.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 20, 2007 8:18 PM | Report abuse

I gotta learn to start signing these things.
OK, THE ROAST is done.

Posted by: me again. | June 20, 2007 8:19 PM | Report abuse

... I think FS Nats Watcher has expressed what I was trying to say in the first post, but (s)he said it much clearer. thanx for that.

john suggested:

"... do we owe it to them to trade them to a contender so they can try and win a[nother] ring? As older veterans, do they want this? and if they would prefer to go to a contender, would they be appreciative enough of that chance to resign with the Nats in the offseason?"

... I have always had trouble with this part of sport. Now I want to be as considerate as the next guy when it comes to dealing with players, but it seems to me that the best thing for the team MUST come first. Let's say D-Meat wants a ring, but the Nats need him for his bat and his banter. I say in that scenario, the team keeps him hands down. No questions asked.

"on some level, i'd like to see them sign extensions with the Nats if we can get them to sign contracts that aren't huge, but i wonder if the players themselves had just seen the Nats as an audition for other teams."

... if players have such a hidden agenda, then when their personal machinations come to light, it seems to me that's when other teams get a good look at their level of committment ... or lack thereof.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 20, 2007 8:26 PM | Report abuse

sorry bob. I realized you're not john as I re-read the latest posts.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 20, 2007 8:54 PM | Report abuse

LL Cool J wearing a Nats cap.,,20043067_8,00.html

Posted by: embarrassed to be reading People magazine online | June 20, 2007 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Before we dump on the whole rule 5 process and talk about wasting a roster spot, lets not forget about Flores. If you try two rule 5s and you get one really solid prospect, don't you win BIG. Speigner will probably be called back to the Twinkies, but if he clears we have a solid middle reliever for 09 and beyond.

Posted by: NatBisquit | June 20, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse


Could Colome have pitched ANY slower than he did tonight?!?

Sweet Mama Ding-Dongs, not only did Jesus not save, he created doubts in the existence of a higher power...

If I had been at that game, I woulda been yelling "A-YA-LA!" with every first-pitch ball that Colome threw (and boy were there a lot)!

Posted by: Juan-John | June 20, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Bob muses, re cheap free-agent signings: ". . . but i wonder if the players themselves had just seen the Nats as an audition for other teams."

Perhaps. But their positions as non-first-line free agents mean that they were an audition for *any* team, of which the Nats are currently the one.

To be sure, some of the Nats' free agents will -- as others have in the past -- drift off never to be heard from again. Some will be traded, hopefully for prospects. Some will merit (or seem to merit) 7-figure signings from the Pinstripes et al. next season.

And some will, one hopes, stay to help build the Nats' core. That, at bottom, has to be part of the team's hope in signing them: not just to put together a non-ghastly roster for 2007, but to evaluate their chances to help the Nats build a good team for 2008 and beyond.

If some seem to drift off, don't be surprised to see them drift back... hopefully at the point in The Plan (*slaps self* -- don't want to annoy Kasten) where the team can afford them and where they make sense.

Posted by: Hendo | June 21, 2007 1:59 AM | Report abuse

As we shut it down at the hutch to get ready to direct a bridge game tomorrow, we note that John in Mpls admits: "But hey, I'm the idiot with Nationals floormats in my car."

And I'm the one with the CURLYW plates. Idiots unite!

Have a great Thursday, everyone.

Posted by: Hendo | June 21, 2007 2:11 AM | Report abuse

Valid point, NatBiscuit. As you may have sensed from my post, I have some mixed feelings about Rule V picks in general.

Hopefully, Levale will clear waivers, and he can go gain some minor league experience, come back next year, pick up where he left off about a month ago and forget the negatives from his 6 starts. I just wish JimBow & Co. could have saved him from some unnecessary punishings at the hands of ML batters. Simply put, he just wasn't the right guy to start games at this level. And everyone knew it but they fed him to the wolves anyway...They should have left him in the bullpen and called up a veteran like Redding who could have eaten up some innings. He may not have been any better than Levale but at least you're continuing the development of your Rule V guy.

As for Flores, you're right again, NatBiscuit. He will be a great starting catcher in '09 or beyond (I say this as a huge Brian Schneider fan; his role in getting the most out of some of these journeymen pitchers cannot be understated).

I'm really torn on Flores thought because obviously it's a good thing he is now in the Nats organization, but I fear he's losing out on some really valuable playing time and at bats at the AAA or AA levels - playing time that "seasons" catchers and transforms them from minor league scrubs into ML-ready game callers. He's already got the raw talent, and I'm sure he's learning something new everyday from Randy St. Claire, Pat Corrales and Brian S. But we must hope his lack of playing time is not hurting his development in other, less apparent ways.

Posted by: FS Nats Watcher | June 21, 2007 2:18 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of how sloooooooooooooowwwww Colome was last night (I got out the binoculars to make sure it was not really Armas), our erstwhile All-star candidate has really seen his effectiveness reduced lately. Aiming, not throwing, etc... could he have arm problems or has he just lost some confidence?

And another thing. Guzman could not have looked worse on that ground ball last night if he had knocked over a glass of water reaching for the alarm clock. He seemed suprised and totally unprepared for that groundball to be hit to him. They should have given him two errors on that play - one for failing to field it, and one for sleeping on the job. I am a Guzman fan most of the time, but what was that all about?

Posted by: NatBisquit | June 21, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Hilarious! Well said, NatBiscuit.


"Guzman could not have looked worse on that ground ball last night if he had knocked over a glass of water reaching for the alarm clock."

Posted by: NatsNut | June 21, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I've been rooting for Guzman since he got here, including and especially during his awful 2005 season, but it wouldn't have bothered me one bit if Manny had walked out onto the field in the middle of the inning and yanked him after that play.

He looked like he was taking in between innings grounders from the first baseman. I can't remember offhand a more inexcusably lackadaisical play by a major leaguer in the field.

I was somewhat surprised that Manny didn't at least pinch hit for him the next inning.

Posted by: joebleux | June 21, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Guzman has never, ever had his head in the game. Don't forget that we used to complain about more than just his terrible hitting. Remember when he ran with the ball in front of him the other night?

I have some serious questions for Manny about pinch hitting for Bacsik last night. Thanks to St. Barry the Great I read that he "went with his game plan", but let's review the situation:

- The Tigers have an unworldly ability to cream the ball no matter who pitches and what he pitches.
- Bacsik had somehow managed to cool them down to an inhuman ability

Let the man keep pitching!!! What, do you think Langerhans is going to belt a lead-off five run homer? Ribs in DC are not that bad!

And before you say it, yes, I said this as soon as Langerhans came up to bat.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 21, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

In the case of Young, he would be out of baseball if it weren't for Bowden. I think, as professional courtesy, if the Nats offer Young a 2 year deal for 3-5 mil he should accept it without thinking about it. He seriously owes Bowden everything he has right now. Belliard is a different story though, he was just a great FA steal in the off season, i'm sure he'll be traded for some prospects.

Re "would they be appreciative enough of that chance to resign with the Nats in the offseason?"

Posted by: Steve | June 21, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

G'day guys,

... with interest, I read the interview on the team's web site this morning involving Langerhans and Kasten (two rather unlikely mike mates, IMHO). Ryan said all the player-based stuff you'd expect so there wasn't much in his comments to sink one's teeth into. Equally Stan offered the simplistic rehashing of 'the Plan' which has come to define the team's outlook on everything from Rule 5 to life.

... however, I noted one point he made which piqued my interest as well as drew my ire. He said :
"...that romantic notion of baseball as a public service is partially true. But the fans are better off and I'm better off if I think of it as a business. If I think of you as a customer instead of a citizen, I'm going to work as hard as I can to reach out and satisfy you, the customer. We know it's important to be good neighbors and good citizens, but it's also good business. That will make us more successful."

Sorry Stan, but that's just patently wrong. Baseball is more than dollars and cents; it's a way of life and when you reduce baseball to just one more corporate entity you do a grave disservice to the fans - the older fans among us who still have the mental capacity to recall summers of absolute fun and devotion to the game, a game which meant so much more than simply one more idle pastime, and the young and impressionable fans who look to the game to validate them as something more than just a customer. To diminish baseball to a business endeavour is to downplay the very heart of life.

Business operates on one track and one only: to make a profit for the shareholder or investor. If that is all that we fans mean to the Washington Nationals, then I think there is more problems in those cherry blossoms on First Street that 'the Plan' depicts.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 21, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

It does seem that Manny lets Guzman get away with more transgressions than the other players. I wish Barry would address that issue with Manny and find out why he does so. To do so, he is going to have to point out all the examples of laziness that Guzman has exhibited.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 21, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Why it's hard to go to nationals games?

The on the field play says enough but yesterday we went to the Tigers vs. Nationals game and wanted to use the buy 1 and get 1 ticket free coupon books that they sell as a marketing strategy to get people to the games. So we go to the ticket office trying to use 8 of them so we can get 16 of the 5 dollar tickets. They say they don't have 5 dollar tickets but we can use them for the 8 dollar tickets. They then overcharge the credit card and the lady gets confused on what the correct price is. She then has to call her manager because it is evident on how bad her incompetence is. Long story short we ended up waiting for 2 ½ innings till they finally gave us our tickets. It was so bad they asked for even more money so it ended up we paid around 12 dollars for tickets. A female in our group asked what was the problem around 25 minutes into this ordeal and the ticket person gave her attitude and to clean it up said its none of her business. Around 35 minutes into this ordeal we all started asking and she gave us all tons of attitude. After paying more for the tickets we finally got our tickets and made it into the game at the beginning of the 5th. Our seats were equivalent to the 5 dollar seats. I'm from here but the rest of our party wasn't and I guarantee none of them will ever go back to a Nationals game after this horrible ordeal. Why should we go to a baseball game, at a horrible stadium, with a terrible on field product and pay FedEx Field food like prices for beer and food, when their customer service is so poor we miss almost half the game just standing their while they are asking for more money then the tickets are worth and not knowing what to do and giving us attitude because we are angry we are missing so much of the game. This is how you don't run a real major league sports franchise and no matter what the Nationals do, if it stays like this, the Redskins can go 0-16 and still be the number 1 team easily in this city.

Posted by: Spencer | June 21, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

And another thing: Did Manny lift Watson for a pinch hitter (Belliard) with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th because he thought Belliard would have a better chance of getting a hit than someone who'd just come off a 40-something hit streak? Granted, Watson had already had three chances where he flied out in each instance (at least making good contact on the ball, rather than striking out like Logan and Lopez seem to do with some regularity).

I just wondered, because if Watson stays in , worst thing that coulda happened is he flies/grounds out again (or yeah, strikes out). But at least then in the bottom of the 9th, he coulda brought in Belliard to pinch-hit for the pitcher leading off, and then you got the top of the order, rather than bring in Logan, who is almost a sure out these days.

Someone please tell me the flaw in my thinking. This is not an egotistical/sarcastic challenge -- it's a statement of fact. :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | June 21, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

The flaw in your thinking is that Belliard is a .290 major league hitter (and I believe way over .300 in late inning situations).

Watson's a kid who's never proved he can do anything at the major league level.

Manny absolutely made the right move there.

Posted by: joebleux | June 21, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Not to mention Belliard has totally come through in those situations before. At that moment, with the information he had (0 for 3, right) on Watson it was probably a decent gamble. But you know, hindsight and all.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 21, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Juan-John, you're dead on, I think. I hope this is a sign of Manny experiencing bad choices as an impetus for learning and not Manny not grasping what's going on.

Do you think he'll skipper in 2009?

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 21, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Hm, those are good points about Belliard over Watson. Manny does a better job than me, anyway.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 21, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, joebleux. Makes sense. I guess I have a soft spot for rookies and semi-rookies.

Posted by: Juan-John | June 21, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Cute. Speaking of ribs, hey, Ava, are you out there???


Let the man keep pitching!!! What, do you think Langerhans is going to belt a lead-off five run homer? Ribs in DC are not that bad!

And before you say it, yes, I said this as soon as Langerhans came up to bat.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 21, 2007 10:05 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 21, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Juan-John: yeah, me too. I was semi-hoping that Manny would buck the odds and let Brandon take a shot at it.

Posted by: joebleux | June 21, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but if you bet any other way consistently you will go broke.

Posted by: CEvansJr | June 21, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

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