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How to build a champion

We have just seen who you want to be. The consensus in the Nationals' clubhouse last night: The Detroit Tigers are the best team this club has faced this year, and it's not even close. The reality: In 2003, the Tigers had to win five of their last six games to avoid matching the 1962 Mets for all-time futility. They lost 119 games.

These Nationals, we know now, won't threaten any of that history. But it might be instructive to look back on those Tigers and see how they turned into these Tigers, keeping in mind all the while that the Nationals intend to perform a similar turnaround.

Here, then, is the Tigers' lineup from March 31, 2003 - Opening Day against the Twins, a 3-1 loss.

Gene Kingsale - 8 (Who?)
Omar Infante - 6
Dmitri Young - 7
Bobby Higginson - 9
Dean Palmer - DH
Carlos Pena - 3
Eric Munson - 5
Brandon Inge - 2
Ramon Santiago - 4

Mike Maroth - 1

Over the course of the season, these people played the most games at each position:

Brandon Inge - C
Carlos Pena - 1B
Warren Morris - 2B
Eric Munson - 3B
Ramon Santiago - SS
Craig Monroe - LF
Alex Sanchez - CF
Bobby Higginson - RF
Dmitri Young - DH

Here is the Tigers' lineup from April 2, 2007 - Opening Day against the Blue Jays, a 5-3, 10-inning loss.

Curtis Granderson - 8
Placido Polanco - 4
Gary Sheffield - DH
Magglio Ordonez - 9
Carlos Guillen - 6
Ivan Rodriguez - 2
Sean Casey - 3
Craig Monroe - 7
Brandon Inge - 5

Jeremy Bonderman - 1

That's pretty much the typical Tigers' lineup this season, and man, given the seasons Ordonez and Guillen are having, given that Sheffield can still rake, given that Polanco and Granderson get on base, given that Brandon Inge has 11 homers as a ninth-place hitter.

But what's instructive is how these guys were acquired. Let's look at that, in addition to where they were in 2003.

Player, How acquired, 2003 Club
Lineup:
Curtis Granderson, Third-round pick, 2002, Class A Lakeland
Placido Polanco, June '05 trade with Philadelphia for Ugeth Urbina and Ramon Martinez, Philadelphia
Gary Sheffield, Dec. '06 trade with Yankees for Humberto Sanchez, Kevin Whelen and Anthony Claggett, Atlanta
Magglio Ordonez, Free agent signing, Feb. '05, White Sox
Carlos Guillen, Jan. '05 trade with Seattle for Juan Gonzalez and Ramon Santiago, Seattle
Ivan Rodriguez, Free agent signing, Feb. '04, Florida
Sean Casey, July '06 trade with Pittsburgh for Brian Rogers; re-signed as free agent in offseason, Cincinnati
Craig Monroe, Claimed off waivers from Texas Feb. '02, Detroit
Brandon Inge, Second-round pick, 1998, Detroit

Rotation:
Justin Verlander, First-round pick, 2004, Old Dominion
Jeremy Bonderman, Aug. 2002 trade with Oakland, with Franklyn German and Carlos Pena, for John-Ford Griffin, Ted Lilly and Jason Arnold, Detroit
Kenny Rogers, Free agent signing, Dec. '05, Minnesota
Nate Robertson, Jan. '03 trade with Florida, with Rob Henkel and Gary Knotts, for Jerrod Fuell and Mark Redman, Detroit
Andrew Miller, First-round pick, 2006, Bucholz High, Gainesville, Fla.
Mike Maroth, July '99 trade with Boston for Bryce Florie, Detroit

Back end of bullpen:
Joel Zumaya, 11th-round pick, 2002, Class A Western Michigan
Fernando Rodney, International free agent signing, Nov. 1997, Class AAA Toledo/Detroit
Todd Jones, Free agent signing, Dec. 2005, Colorado/Boston

A bit of a blueprint for success, no? The Tigers had three major free agent signings - Ordonez, Rodriguez and Rogers. They have their home-grown talent in Verlander and Inge and Zumaya, etc. They have their international signing in Rodney.

But what I'm most interested in - and what I think might pertain to the Nationals most - is all those trades. The reason the draft earlier this month was so important was not only because some of those kids could end up playing in Washington, but because they can be used as pieces in trades. Jerod Fuell and Mark Redman? Traded. Humberto Sanchez and Anthony Claggett? Traded.

We've said it before, but it's worth repeating: Minor league players are like inventory. In order to get the piece you need, you have to have inventory - and inventory that's valued by other teams - to give away in order to land that piece. Right now, the Nationals' farm system has a few prospects - Collin Balester, Chris Marrero - but isn't deep enough to have a bunch of guys that could be dealt for high-end talent.

In the coming seasons, if the Nationals drafted well and sign their players, they'll have a class of guys coming up to Class AA and AAA that other teams might value. If they make wise choices at the major league level, then they'll have just a few specific needs that they could fill by trading their high-level minor leaguers. That's what Sanchez, a pitcher involved in the Sheffield trade, was for Detroit.

Some housekeeping:

Gamer had a bunch of interesting stuff from Jim Bowden that, in my mind, overshadowed the game. Notes had the stuff on the moves from yesterday. Too much going on, really. Overlooked Brandon Watson a bit, though I'll probably write a notebook on him for tomorrow's $.35 edition. Podcast is in stereo these days, so I think it might sound a little better. Bowden clip is in there, too.

Look for Sheinin story on Chris Marrero in the $.35 edition tomorrow. Should be brilliant.

I'm off on Friday and Saturday against Cleveland, though I'll be in the stands Saturday night. Back in the chair on Sunday to wrap up the homestand, then on the whole trip to Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

Small bit of news: Both Jerome Williams and Winston Abreu have cleared waivers and accepted their assignments to the minor leagues. Williams will be at Class AA Harrisburg because the rotation at Class AAA Columbus is full of Emiliano Fruto, Joel Hanrahan, John Lannan, Tim Redding and I believe Chris Michalak. Abreu I believe is going to the Columbus bullpen to replace Chris Schroder, though I'm waiting for confirmation on that. We should have word on Levale Speigner's fate tomorrow.

Enjoy the weekend. I'll talk to you again in a couple days.

By Barry Svrluga  |  June 21, 2007; 1:31 PM ET
 
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Next: The sun's still shining, right?

Comments

Great analysis of the team we wantabe. I hope it doesn't take any longer than 3 years to show thos kinda results.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 21, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Genie Kingsale was mooooney. Wasn't he an O for a while too?

Posted by: Rage | June 21, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

e

(Missed that in my last post.)-

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 21, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the O's, word is that Girardi declined the manager position, per the Blo's site.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 21, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

As always, awesome post. You know, we were all discussing small bits about last nights game (Manny hitting Belliard over Watson, Guzman's lazy play, etc.) but did those things REALLY make a difference? Probably not. And coupled with the story by another poster about the classy fans, the Tigers' own history that we hope to emulate (at least the winning part) makes the losses not really that painful.
You could be a team much higher in the standings and still get pummeled by those Tigers.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 21, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

So, how do we stack up against the next one in - the Indians? This could really get ugly this weekend and the weather is supposed to be so nice.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 21, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Dancer13, are you by any chance a perfectionistic editorial type? The corrected "e" posting leads me to wonder (if so, in my case, it takes one to know one). ;)

---

e

(Missed that in my last post.)-

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 21, 2007 02:10 PM

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

re: Girardi. I read more rumblings on SI's Truth & Rumors yesterday about Joe Torre's job still under scrutiny. If you're right natsfan1a, I wonder if Girardi turns down the O's to hold out for the Yankees.

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

Key piece there, signing Pudge, fresh from the WS, to an historically bad team, as incentive to other free agents, and to gain credibility (not to mention a great catcher).
During the LCS vs. the Cubs I said he'd be a great signing for Chicago (but nooooooooooo). What if they had, though? Does Detroit get someone else and do much the same, or are we talking about the Cubs Dynasty today?

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

One thing that gives me hope is that the Indians are 9-10 in June and 18-18 on the road. Or am I just whistling in the dark??

---

So, how do we stack up against the next one in - the Indians? This could really get ugly this weekend and the weather is supposed to be so nice.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 21, 2007 02:20 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 21, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Interesting point about the Yanks possibility for Girardi, NatsNut.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 21, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Take a look at their three big free-agent signings:

Ivan Rodriguez, Feb. '04
Magglio Ordonez, Feb. '05
Kenny Rogers, Dec. '05

Notice how they were done one at a time over the course of a couple of seasons? This is the perfect way to build a team. Find one need and fill it. Don't splurge and buy up all the free agents at once. You never know when one of your homegrown kids makes the leap and fulfills one of your needs (at 1/10th the cost of a free agent).

Let's hope Stan and Company buys into this Plan so we can all reap the rewards in 2009 or 2010.

Posted by: e | June 21, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Indians, Schmindians. They're good, but we've beaten better.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 21, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

... let me ask you all a question. Would you rather have a Nats team to root for that:

a/ consists of new faces each year which replace other faces of those not doing so well, as the team moves closer and closer annually to a championship,

OR

b/ consists of players who stay with the team as they develop, and as the team sticks with them, so that they become fan favourites and the team becomes known for its consistent players even at the expense of a meteoric rise in success?

... feel free to add extra comments to offer a more in-depth response.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 21, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Interesting piece, as always, but I'm a little confused (So what else is new? But I digress). Isn't our farm system depleted at least in part because of trades to upgrade for the short term during the contraction threat era? I understand the value of the right free agents if we're in contention, but wouldn't part of the plan also be to grow our own players and teach them to play the "Nats Way" -- possibly develop some high-end talent? Please enlighten me, oh esteemed scribe Barry and wise Nat-terers (to appropriate natscan's wonderful term for a moment).

---

But what I'm most interested in - and what I think might pertain to the Nationals most - is all those trades. The reason the draft earlier this month was so important was not only because some of those kids could end up playing in Washington, but because they can be used as pieces in trades. Jerod Fuell and Mark Redman? Traded. Humberto Sanchez and Anthony Claggett? Traded.

We've said it before, but it's worth repeating: Minor league players are like inventory. In order to get the piece you need, you have to have inventory - and inventory that's valued by other teams - to give away in order to land that piece. Right now, the Nationals' farm system has a few prospects - Collin Balester, Chris Marrero - but isn't deep enough to have a bunch of guys that could be dealt for high-end talent.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 21, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2007/06/tigers_with_bit.php

Posted by: INTERESTING POST | June 21, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

definitely 'b', natscan. One gets attached to the players. I hate that the actual winning team will probably be with players unrecognizable to us right now. Still, in today's baseball, and judging from everyone's (probably correct) ideas on how to properly build a winning team, answer 'a' is sadly the reality.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 21, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

natfan1a: Guilty as charged. (Also don't like to short-change anyone, can you imagine a world without "e"?) Come to think about it, I'd love to see a few weeks without an "e" at the end of the line score.

"Dancer13, are you by any chance a perfectionistic editorial type? The corrected "e" posting leads me to wonder (if so, in my case, it takes one to know one). ;)"-

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 21, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Umm, could I have one from column a and one from column b? Oh, didn't think so.

A part of me is nostalgic for the days when a player stayed with one team for his entire career, and I appreciate and respect holdovers like Houston's Biggio and Bagwell who do that. I also understand that in this day and age even if there are players who wish to do that, it's not their decision alone. And there's this, perhaps because I'm relatively new to fandom and female, it about broke my heart the first time a player I really liked was shipped out (still love ya, Jamey).

On the other hand, it *is* kinda fun when we win, so I like the idea of making transactions that help our team get better over the long term. For me, it needn't be a meteoric rise. I'd rather see the team have a good foundation and be well built over time from the ground up, kinda like our new stadium. Okay, this metaphor is getting totally out of hand. It would be great if we could also retain some good, young, face of the franchise types like Zimmy.

---

... let me ask you all a question. Would you rather have a Nats team to root for that:

a/ consists of new faces each year which replace other faces of those not doing so well, as the team moves closer and closer annually to a championship,

OR

b/ consists of players who stay with the team as they develop, and as the team sticks with them, so that they become fan favourites and the team becomes known for its consistent players even at the expense of a meteoric rise in success?

... feel free to add extra comments to offer a more in-depth response.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 21, 2007 02:32 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 21, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I said:

Okay, this metaphor is getting totally out of hand.

But actually, I think it was more of a simile.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 21, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Aha, just as I suspctd. Good on about th lin scor!

---

natfan1a: Guilty as charged. (Also don't like to short-change anyone, can you imagine a world without "e"?) Come to think about it, I'd love to see a few weeks without an "e" at the end of the line score.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 21, 2007 02:53 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 21, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Bowden's comments came across like a blowhard that got embarrassed in front of his friends. We were swept by the reigning AL chams, not the Marlins. Our guys played above themselves against their fellow mediocrities for the past several series; the Tigers are a completely different animal. But the blowhard just goes and throws cold water on 'em, anyway.

I hope Jimbo is not in the Plan. And soon.

Posted by: Sec 224 | June 21, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Most folks don't remember that the Yankees were a shattered team - the worst in baseball one year - in the early 90s. "The Plan" not only worked for the Tigers, but also for the Yanks back then. I remember an interview with Gene Michaels - architect of "The Plan" for the Yanks - in which he described a championship team as built on a three-legged stool: home-grown talent, trades and free agency. Two of the three legs depend completely on scouting and player development (that is, the farm). The third - free agency - he said should be used to fill gaps or upgrade without damaging the farm system. If any one of the three legs isn't strong, the team is off balance and won't be a championship-calibre team - at least not for long, although the team may continue to appear strong for a few years before toppling over. The Yankees have wobbled in recent years - IMHO - because the farm system was allowed to deteriorate - which B. Cashman (I would bet with G. Michaels in the background) claims to be trying to address. I mostly lost interest in the Yanks after 2001 when it became clear three-legged stool model was cast aside in favor of just free agency - that's the model that shattered the team in the 80s.

I drank deeply of the Nationals Kool Aid when they arrived (the Expos were always my NL team), and hope Stan and J_Bow are as successful at executing "The Plan" as the Yankees of the 1990s and now the Tigers.

Posted by: natsagain | June 21, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut:

What does a Schmindian look like? I'm trying to get a mental picture and it's not in focus - must be because it's Thursday and there isn't a game tonight. I'm suffering withdrawl (Southern).


Posted by: Dancer13 | June 21, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

"I understand the value of the right free agents if we're in contention, but wouldn't part of the plan also be to grow our own players and teach them to play the "Nats Way" -- possibly develop some high-end talent? "

... I agree natsfan1a. You have reworded my own point quite nicely. And by all means, feel free to use my terminology.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 21, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Eugene Kingsale was in fact in the Orioles system for a number of years, mostly at Bowie (so he's not a "who?" to some of us locally). The O's may have given him a cup of coffee once or twice. Speedy guy but couldn't hit, and I think he was injury-prone too.

Posted by: Cosmo | June 21, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Schmindian: (n) a well-playing team who arrives unsuspectingly at the large park of a last place team thinking they can take a little breather. Often appearing beaten with sa urprised, disoriented look in their eyes around 10:15 p.m.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 21, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Re: natscan's question

I choose both a and b. I want to see new, young faces brought in every year to try to find the right fit for the team and then we find one, have him locked down and watch him develop as a player and grow stronger to become a fan-favorite. I am thinking of the likes of Chipper Jones.

Convenient model, no?

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 21, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Maybe if we sweep the Schmindians, the Tigers will trade us Bonderman for Patterson even up.

Watching Dimitri run the bases last night; ya gotta love the effort. Seems like he should be wearing shoulder pads and a helmet.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 21, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the great analysis of the Tigers, I had wondered about that a lot. They used more trades than I would have thought. That makes me nervous because I don't see Bowden being stellar at trades. I think our share of draft picks will pan out and free agents aren't that hard to get right but trades seem harder.

Definitely agree w/ others that the '09 or '10 team that can have a chance at contending will have virtually no one that is currently on the roster. Hopefully, Zimm will stick around, maybe Cordero and some of the young pitchers but hard to see many more of the 25-man roster guys here in '10.

Next year is interesting too. From current contracts we'll have the following:
1b Johnson
2b ?
3b Zimm
ss Guzzie
lf ?
cf ?
rf Kearns
SP - Patterson, Hill, Bergman, and some collection of Chico, Simontacchi, Bowie, Bacsik, Hanrahan, Lannan, maybe even Detwiler or Ballester.

If we could upgrade at the question marks and the pitchers stay reasonably healthy, I actually think we could be above .500 next year. Crazy??

Posted by: mlwagnercpa | June 21, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I like this definition!

---

Schmindian: (n) a well-playing team who arrives unsuspectingly at the large park of a last place team thinking they can take a little breather. Often appearing beaten with sa urprised, disoriented look in their eyes around 10:15 p.m.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 21, 2007 03:34 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 21, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

A blogger (concerned about the Brewers' "Plan") posted this in-depth analysis of how the 1996 Yanks - the first of the championship run teams were put together. For those who weren't following at the time, a complete surprise to the baseball world (much like the '06 Tigers and the '07 Brewers).

http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/MFazio23/tag/NewYorkYankees

Posted by: natsagain | June 21, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm still looking at .500 this year now that the Tiggers are outa here.

Don't know what Lopez' contract status is but I like him at 2nd. See Patterson and Cordero as outa here next year.

Posted by: Dancer13, | June 21, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

A blogger (concerned about the Brewers' "Plan") posted this in-depth analysis of how the 1996 Yanks - the first of the championship run teams were put together. For those who weren't following at the time, a complete surprise to the baseball world (much like the '06 Tigers and the '07 Brewers).

http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/MFazio23/tag/NewYorkYankees

Posted by: natsagain | June 21, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Lemme see if I can be succinct here (I never can, but it is good practice to try):

RE: Three-legged stool - What Bowden has done (well) is sign retread free agents that can be used to trade for prospects with teams chasing for the playoffs - helping to offset some of the famine in the farm system.

Reading between the lines: The fact that Bowden (and the team in general) is disappointed with the outcome this series suggests that his (and their) expectations are higher than they were April 1. Good thing we didn't play the Tigers opening week, they'd still be batting in the 7th inning of the second game of the series.

Chemistry and culture are never seriously discussed, but they're both hugely important in winning consistently... That is one of the Nats' strongest points this year... you see it in how players look at this series, and take the lesson that the Tigers are a role model (but not necessarily THE Role Model).

OK. That's enough.

Posted by: Wigi | June 21, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Wigi: Pretty succinct and accurate too. I think it is interesting that for what was supposed to be a lost year, JB still has expectations, just like the rest of us. Clearly, he didn't really think we (the Nats) were going to be hopeless.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 21, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

to mlwagnercpa:

... not a bad representation I'd say. But I'm a lover, not a fighter and it twinges my heart just a little sharply when I don't see the names Young and Belliard, and especially Lopez on your list. I know all too well the reasons for their elimination, but I also am quite well aware of the (my) reasons to keep them there, and therefore here.

... one point missing is a set of names for a good bench. And we'll need a definite 1B replacement for Nickie J when he goes down again, maybe for the count.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 21, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I hadn't seen your a/b posting at that point but perhaps we could say that great minds think alike?

---

... I agree natsfan1a. You have reworded my own point quite nicely. And by all means, feel free to use my terminology.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 21, 2007 03:31 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 21, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Re: moving the goal posts (foul pole)?

I have to say that as a life-long DC-area resident, I am pleased to be behind a team that has a problem with their expectations going continually up throughout the season. After our dismal, "we suck", outing to the Tigers, the Nats are on pace for a whole 95 losses.

Let's say they get swept by the equally daunting Cleveland Indians (who don't have the best on-the-road record in baseball and aren't as a team batting, what, .343?, and haven't been on fire this last month): the Nats are still on pace to lose 97. Better than even Boz predicted.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 21, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Natscan, re your alternatives (a) and (b): Both are desirable. Of course, the team up the Parkway, professing that they are implementing (a), holds annual offseason auditions for "The Love Boat" and then starts mailing it in around the Fourth of July.

Is such nonsense liable to go on forever in Birdland? If you'd asked me that a year ago, I'd have been hard pressed to find a reason why not. But the McPhail hiring now has me wondering: Has Lord Peter been put on notice that the $^*% he's been feeding Orioles fans for the last dozen-plus years is no longer acceptable? That he is an embarrassment, not to say a mortal hazard, to his team and to the game? That he, as owner, had better submit a flight plan complete with glide path, and soon? That otherwise, the Nats are poised to eat the Orioles' lunch?

One can but hope. As we kick it in here in DC over the next few years, I want to witness the building of a rivalry that's worthy of the Nats' steel.

Posted by: Hendo | June 21, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Wigi, I agree that culture is essential. Seems like the Nats have managed to build a culture of playing the right way in the moment - and winning some games by never giving up - while "everyone" knows that in the big picture wins don't matter. They matter to the guys in the dugout, and I think Bowden was supporting that culture with his remarks. He can't say, "what the heck Guzzie, keep your head in the clouds wins don't matter anyhoo" and maintain any respect in the clubhouse. It's a funny challenge, to create team chemistry that the wins matter daily but not to get caught up in wins over the seasons-long building process. Good job Manny.

Posted by: geezer | June 21, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Don't ever believe any baseball executive doesn't have high expectation for any of the players on the team roster. Even Kasten and Bowden. It's only human. Every player can make or break a team's season (see Baltimore Orioles).

Posted by: Tom | June 21, 2007 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Tom:

It wasn't that the don't have high expectations, but that they're higher now than in April...

Posted by: Wigi | June 21, 2007 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Um Barry, that is "Sir" Eugene Kingsale...knight of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He is one of three knights from Aruba that were on the O's roster at the same time: Kingsale, Calvin Maduro, and of course Sidney Ponson.

Posted by: DE | June 21, 2007 10:57 PM | Report abuse

So we know where we want to end up and have a sense of how to get there. Question is: Is Bowden the guy to do it? Not in my book.

Posted by: Vandy | June 21, 2007 11:46 PM | Report abuse

i have to think that this season's culture (similar to the positive attitudes in the '05 season) partially stem from the nats having no one to rely but themselves this season. with all the talk about how horrible this team was likely to be, i'd have to imagine that all the players (and staff to a point) bonded over that. you can't help but get along when you're working together to prove everyone else wrong.

Posted by: gretchen | June 22, 2007 12:08 AM | Report abuse

wow, haven't stopped by in a while, but good grief... good work. I'll try and keep more up on the Nats. Thanks for the scoop.

Posted by: Dorf | June 22, 2007 1:56 AM | Report abuse

... a question out of the clear blue: does anyone know what ever happened to 'Nats Fan Down Under'? I miss that particular slant and input.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 22, 2007 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Sheinin earns a bow this morning for the excellent piece on Marrero.

Also appreciate Barry's notebook on Watson, Williams and Abreu. (Any word on Speigner? Maybe I missed something, but I kinda hope he clears waivers.)

Posted by: Hendo | June 22, 2007 7:24 AM | Report abuse

And now for something completely different:

So my man Guzman is hitting better but fielding worse. And I don't really want to out him on this, but I'm guessing scouts have already picked it up. Guzzie won't dive for balls and looks stiff trying to field balls hit to him. I have several theories - a) afraid of damaging his shoulder again (still), b) bad back, c) lack of commitment/interest. He continues to be an excellent baserunner. He seems somewhat more patient at the plate, and he has proven to have some clutch in him, but that fielding thing is troublesome. Less range, poor read on the ball, not watching the ball into the glove all the time. What's that all about?

Posted by: NatBisquit | June 22, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Definitely B. Right off - 1) I'm a baseball fan, I follow the sport. So are you, so do you. We already know these guys, more or less, mostly. Some people in here could even go on at length on who's who in the Japanese leagues, I have no doubt.

2) Free agency made baseball better. I like better baseball.

3) Baseball teams are a soap opera with a large cast. The narrative flow makes the story interesting (or not, atcmb).

*******************
... let me ask you all a question. Would you rather have a Nats team to root for that:
a/ consists of new faces each year which replace other faces of those not doing so well, as the team moves closer and closer annually to a championship,
OR
b/ consists of players who stay with the team as they develop, and as the team sticks with them, so that they become fan favourites and the team becomes known for its consistent players even at the expense of a meteoric rise in success?
... feel free to add extra comments to offer a more in-depth response.
Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 21, 2007 02:32 PM

Posted by: CEvansJr | June 22, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I also enjoyed Sheinin's piece on Marerro, and the photo of him blowing bubbles with the son of the pitching coach was priceless!

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 22, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

so of course you realize I meant to write "A" there...
Get to work, Evans...

Posted by: CEvansJr | June 22, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Darn that typing dyslexia, I meant Marrero.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 22, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

NatBisquit frets: "So my man Guzman is hitting better but fielding worse."

Not to fret. He has had feet of stone at SS at least since he arrived at RFK.

(In the back of my mind, I'm struggling to make a case against that damning assessment. It's not working. The Campaign to Vindicate Guzie's Leather is hoeing a hard row.)

Posted by: Hendo | June 22, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I also worry about depleting the farm system by trades rather than building it up. I guess that other than draft and develop, the idea is to use those guys you pick up off the scrap heap for cheap(Dmitri, Belliard, (or take your pick of 'replacemtent' pitchers) and trade them for prospects and hope that enough of them work out. It seems to me that this type of plan would take more then a couple of years to pan out. ???

Posted by: Dr. Snacky | June 22, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I also worry about depleting the farm system by trades rather than building it up. I guess that other than draft and develop, the idea is to use those guys you pick up off the scrap heap for cheap(Dmitri, Belliard, (or take your pick of 'replacemtent' pitchers) and trade them for prospects and hope that enough of them work out. It seems to me that this type of plan would take more then a couple of years to pan out. ???

Posted by: Dr. Snacky | June 22, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I don't know anything about evaluating a pitcher's potential, but I hope Speigner makes it through, too. When he replaced Simontacchi during Tuesday night's debacle v. the Tigers, the difference in the sound of the ball off the Tigers' bats was amazingly noticeable. Simontacchi's pitches that were hit with a sharp, loud POW. I could barely hear the sound of balls hit off Speigner (sitting in 215). So, if "sound off the bat" means anything, maybe there's reason to continue to work with Speigner.

Posted by: natsagain | June 22, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I hope Speigner makes it through too. They've been pretty "forgiving" of even the biggest messups until now, giving guys more than enough chances (including Cordero and Rauch). And even Manny said they were asking a lot of the kid when they put him in the starting position. I almost feel like they *owed* him a little more time back in the bullpen to calm down and get his groove back. Sending him back down like that just seemed a little harsh.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 22, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Did y'all see this broadside against DC sports:

http://cbs.sportsline.com/spin/story/10230805

Mostly unfair in my opinion. Seems like the writer is picking examples which support his theory and ignoring the rest (something I should be used to after 7 years of the current administration). Glaring omission of George Mason's Final Four run, for example. Acknowledges Nats' state of rebuilding but goes after 'em anyway.

Thoughts?

Posted by: JennX | June 22, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Excellent news on the uni front: The Capitals have ditched those ridiculously Yuppified jerseys, complete with fonts that made it impossible to read the name of the player on the back, in favor of red, white, and blue and an updated stick-T logo.

Now I know I will owe an apology to anyone who's dropped a couple bills at Modell's for authentic Nationals jerseys... but I do wonder what, if anything, the Nats have in mind for Nats Park? The current Padres-takeoff design isn't hideous but neither is it particularly distinctive.

Why not go classic, with script "Nationals" at home and script "Washington" on the road? To be sure, the colors and trim don't need to be quite as flashy as hockey jerseys. In particular, home white and road gray are fine as a base. But the current circa-2000 lettering is going to look real dated real soon.

Two other desiderata:
1. Always gotta like the plus-fours and high sox. Always.
2. Don't even be thinking of messing around with the curly W. Not that it may have been on anyone's list of proposed changes, but stupider things have been done.

Posted by: Hendo | June 22, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I think sending Speigner down is the best thing that could ever happen to him. Being picked "rule 5" was probably the worse thing that ever happened to him. But, now that he's seen what The Show is like, he can work on what he needs to get back. His performance in Minnesota should prove to him that he has what it takes if he can just learn to do it consistently. I just hope he has a really good pitching coach where he pitches.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 22, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I'd still prefer unis like the Pirates wear (sleeveless) and that dog-bone logo could be improved upon too. But I do hope they keep the red jerseys.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 22, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Natscan, I'd rather have b. (watch the players develop) but I'm a sucker for a good story and it's hard to keep all the new faces straight. Though, I'm the one who saw a guy at the stadium on Wednesday with a Wilkerson shirt on and got nostalgic. I know you have to win to get people to the ballpark, but do you really create a fan when they don't have any attachment to the players?

Posted by: DottDC | June 22, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Sleeveless?! UGH! If they canned the tacky script, I think the uniforms now are the way to go. Leave the pants choice up to the individual player (we aren't the Yankees - let them wear their hair the way they want too), but I like the sox too.

What do you all think of ditching the blue away uniforms? I love my blue hat and couldn't ever wear a red one, but it's kind of silly wearing different colors on the road. Does anyone else do that?

Man, Hendo, that Caps news was fabulous. I have been a hater of the new uniforms and screaming eagle since they were introduced.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 22, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Natscan - I am for B all the way. I like to get to know all there is to know about the players and see them playing for "my" team year after year. I would probably never have a winning team as I believe in giving players all the time and all the chances they need as long as they are out there playing hard and trying to win. I'm sorry, that's just the way I am.

I hope the Nats can find a way to keep Speigner, I believe he has the makings of a good pitcher, but was not treated fairly due to the circumstances he was put in.

Also, I would give Patterson all the time he needs to make a comeback. I saw him in 2005 so I know what he can do when he is healthy. Those people who want to get rid of him or hope he will just disappear, apparently have very short memories or just have never seen him pitching well and pain-free. For goodness sake, give him a break!

Posted by: gilsfan | June 22, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm partial to the traditional look of home white and grey away uniforms so I can tell which team is playing at home when I see clips on Sportcenter. Watched the Rangers and Cubs the other night and couldn't figure out where the game was being played because both teams were wearing bright colored pajamas.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 22, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I'd be all for giving Patterson ample time if I felt there was any hope of him ever being aboloe to play consistently, but he reminds me of Escobar : what's he gonna hurt next? Shucks, I'm older than dirt and I don't have as many things going wrong with me as that young man.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 22, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

... well now, let's see. I don't live in or have ever visited DC. Fact is I don't have much interest in the region - not that I have anything against the place, but I have nothing for it either.

... so my take on Eric Kay, CBS Sports, is one of an outside view.

- first, he's a sports columnist, and as many of us have said already, that means we can pretty well get the tone of the piece before we even sit down to read it. Stir up dissent and he's earned his daily buck.

- I have no interest whatsoever in college sports, or basketball, and very little in American football, so as far as they are concerned, I couldn't comment.

- but I think he's pretty near the truth when it comes to the Caps. He understands that pro hockey is evolving faster than Gary Bettman can shift perspective. He also understands that the Caps have become a perpetual rebuilder, and if you going to be in a constant rebuilding phase, it might be a good idea to have someone well versed in construction as your general contractor.

- his points about the Nats have some validity. The only quibble I have is with his assessment of our pitching. Reading what he says, you'd get the idea he hasn't heard that four fifths of our starters have gone down injuriously. No mention of Hill or Bergmann and the quality they bring, or of Randy St. C and all he has done with what should have been a so-so bullpen.

... so if what he says about the other sports misses as much of the daily nitty-gritty as it does in what he says about the Nats, we're simply back to the main point: he's a columnist setting up dissent. Nothing to get concerned about.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 22, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

... a comment on unis, if I may. The whole of the NHL is getting new unis, so the fact the Caps are doing something along this line is not really news. The NHL - in its wisdom? - bought into the sales job that Reebok sold them, and it has divided fans into modernists and traditionalists. Reebok convinced Bettman who had never known the game had to be [played on ice, that with their new 'form-fitting' sweaters and pants, the skaters would 'go faster'. And of course, that's exactly what the good fan wants: that the guy goes faster. In doing this snow job, they slipped in a clause - presumably while Gary and Bill were out getting coffee - that all unis had to be graphically designed the same way, with new stripes and sections which had never been there before.

... all this to say, I'm a Habs fan and boy am I pissed that the most famous hockey jersey in the world has fallen victim to a salesman's order book!

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 22, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Hendo, Stan Kasten is on record saying that there will be virtually no uniform changes for 2008. Check the archives of the Nats320 blog and I believe you'll find the discussion. The only changes he confirmed were a new batting practice jersey and the inclusion of a new park commemorative armpatch in lieu of the current DC logo armpatch. And Kasten has been quoted all over the place as being absolutely, totally in love with the Curly W, so you should have no fear about that ever being replaced. If anything (and this is just pure speculation on my part) it might well be that the interlocking DC logo gets de-emphasized more and more with each passing year.

Also, the MLB deadline for clubs to request uniform changes for 2008 has passed. You perhaps missed the discussions elsewhere over the brief rumor that the Orioles would restore the word 'Baltimore' to their away uniforms next year, which occurred right around the time of this deadline. The deadline day arrived, and - surprise! - Angelos requested no uniform change. But since that deadline is there and gone, it means that even if Kasten were to change his mind now there's no way there could be a change for the Nats next year.

Posted by: Section 419 | June 22, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

One other thing: Oddly enough, I have seen for sale in the RFK Team Store a jersey with 'Nationals' in script across the front. Has anyone else seen this one? Is it perhaps a Potomac Nationals jersey, or what?

Posted by: Section 419 | June 22, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

419: Thanks for the pointers. I had heard the rumors about "Baltimore," and immediately discounted them, knowing and loving Lord Peter as I do. I must confess that I didn't see the discussion on Nats320.

Wonder if the "Nationals" script jersey might be an artifact of the ASG from last season or the season before? Seems to me a lot of teams had jerseys with the racing script, if that's what you're referring to.

Posted by: Hendo | June 22, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Couple things:

Q: What is the difference between NationalsJournal and work?

A: When working, the number of days between days off seems like a month, and with NationalsJournal, the number of days between Barry's days off seems like 1 or 2...

RE: Speigner - I hope he clears, too... interesting the difference in our perception between his horrific (and partially not his fault) ERA, and the ERA of, say Tony Armas. Imagine if it had been Armas that had to clear waivers... we would have been saying, "Please claim him, please claim him!"

RE: Angelos - I think he's making a marketing mistake by not putting "Baltimore" on the road unis... As most of us know, Baltimore is a really cool town, with a lot going for it... it isn't glitzy (that's good), it isn't Washington (that's good)... it is one of those few cities in America that has a really distinctive local flavor... he should embrace that... Of course, he can't embrace fifty years of history that demands excellence in his organization, and he OWNS that part of it...

Posted by: Wigi | June 22, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I have never heard ANYONE say that baltimore is a really cool town. When I think Bawl'mer I think strippers and crabs.

Posted by: Reality | June 22, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

What's not to like about strippers and (blue) crabs?

I love Baltimore... of course, I only visited there when I lived in DC... I could go home...

Posted by: Wigi | June 22, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

And your point IS????


I have never heard ANYONE say that baltimore is a really cool town. When I think Bawl'mer I think strippers and crabs.

Posted by: Reality

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 22, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't feel one way or the other about Baltimore myself, but I totally agree with Wigi that it definitely has a distinct flavor.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 22, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut:

Your comment (about Baltimore) is open to qualitative interpretation...

The comedian Jake Johannsen once said about New York (and I am sure the same could be said about Baltimore), one of the best things about New York is that when it rains, it makes its own gravy...

Now that's a distinctive flavor!

Posted by: Wigi | June 22, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Just wasted an hour of my life that I'll never get back by reading Boswell's on-line discussion of the Orioles. Question: why doesn't he just go to work for the Sun? I really miss Shirley Povich and Bob Addie. Boswell must be being paid by Angelos.

What's tonight's line-up?

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 22, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Natscan scorns: "Reebok convinced Bettman who had never known the game had to be played on ice, that with their new 'form-fitting' sweaters and pants, the skaters would 'go faster'."

"Form-fitting" over hockey pads? Dear God. Like trying to aerodynamicize a Sherman tank.

I emitted a complementary snort to Natscan's here over on El-Bashir's blog. Which has its staunch partisans but lacks the wit and verve of our own posters. Take a bow, folks.

I didn't see Swanni over there, BTW.

Posted by: Hendo | June 22, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Did we hurt Swanni's feelings or did he just go on vacation?

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 22, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Where is swanni anyway? I miss him.

Don't be too hard on Boz. He simply loves sports and his enthusiasm pops out of the computer screen or page every time you read it, no matter who he's enthusing about. But on the topic of O's, I'm reading the transcript now... boy, isn't it glad to not be an Orioles fan anymore (or ever)?

Hope is an essential component of being a baseball fan. To really, truly believe that "it ain't over till it's over" and that you're on the verge of a hot streak at any moment. That if you just stay long enough, Ryan Zimmerman will hit a grand slam to win the game in the wee hours of the morning.

O's fans have a perverse version of that: eternal expectation of failure. No matter how good it looks, they plot and scheme and wait to see how their team will collapse this year. I couldn't deal with that.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 22, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

... which reminds me, Hendo et al: where IS the old Swamm, anyway? Banned for the playground?

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 22, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

In defense of Boz, his chat was titled "Baseball" as opposed to Barry's "The Washington Nationals". And one little zinger seemed to get it back on track: "Burke, Va.: Ooops, I seem to have stumbled into the Baltimore Sun -- could you direct me to a paper that discusses Washington baseball?"
good one.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 22, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Dancer13 groans: "Just wasted an hour of my life that I'll never get back by reading Boswell's on-line discussion of the Orioles."

Come, now. Boz was on his A game today. Item: "Girardi is not 'Miss Manners' in spikes." Now that is Svrluga-worthy.

Posted by: Hendo | June 22, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Yes, that was a good line; would that he discuss Manny's failure to discipline Guzman or other things that Nats fans want to know about. The header for his column says: "to take your questions and comments about the Washington Nationals....." Truth be told, he writes more about the Orioles than the Nats. If it wasn't for this forum of Barry's there would be a definite dearth of information and comment about the Nats. At least that blast JennX told us about shows some interest, even if it's incomplete and slanted.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 22, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

You know... I find it really hard to actively DISLIKE the Orioles. When I was a kid, and the Senators and Orioles were playing in the same league/division, it was a little different... I think a healthy Orioles helps both teams, just as a healthy (read: winning) Nationals helps the Orioles. Both of them winning is better than just one.

The real crime with the Orioles is the blatant incomptency in ownership that hamstrings the organization. While I know there are critics of the Lerners, I suspect that in ten years, if you do a compare and contrast on Lerners and Angelos, that you'll find that Lerners will have quietly built a team (here's Wigi with his culture thing, but I can't help it, it is what I do) with a tradition and culture that fosters excellece, while Angelos will have sqandered the "Orioles Way" to the point of being a joke.

I never particularly liked Jim Palmer as a person, but when I've listened to him on the MASN broadcasts, he sounds like he's in pain over what's happened to them. Can't help but feel bad for Flanagan, too.

Posted by: Wigi | June 22, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't particularly dislike the Orioles. Matter of fact, I watched them for years and enjoyed the Weaver years a great deal. I don't even mind the occasional story in the Post about the Orioles; after all, they are fairly close. But when I lived in Milwaukee, the Braves were the home team, even tho' the Cubs were there first. And, as has been pointed out here, how much news about the Nats does the Sun publish? I just want to see more about the Nats than I do about the Orioles. Half the local stations (radio & TV) lead off with stories about Orioles and Ravens and bury Nat's stories and scores (if they don't run out of time). I just find it frustrating.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 22, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Dancer13: Indeed, Boz is wont to play his riffs to the exclusion of what he perhaps sees as matters of more transient interest, such as one dynamic between one manager and one player of one team (ours).

And I echo your frustration about Nats vs. Orioles coverage in general. Then again, how many Washingtonians commute to Baltimore vs. the other way around?

Wigi: Boz quoted Pat Gillick devastatingly on the Orioles' morph, even at its early stages (late '90s): "You are watching the destruction of one of the great franchises in baseball." Any past Orioles fan from DC who doesn't simmer with rage isn't paying attention.

Posted by: Hendo | June 22, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Hendo: I have to agree with you on Gillick's comment and how it makes me feel. Nobody deserves what has happened to them.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 22, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Wigi and his culture brings up an interesting question for Nats fans.

We've had three years of scrappy ball here in DC now. Teams are constantly quoted as saying "they never give up" or "they'll come right at you". Wigi is right, we've developed a culture that thrives on working hard and turning the underdog position into an asset. It's positive, without being naive, and most of all it's a determination to take your lumps and learn from them.

What do we call that? What is the Nationals version of "the Oriole Way"? "Nats Style" sounds too much like a marketing line, before anyone suggests it. It's something Seacrest Jr. would looooove.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 22, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Section 506 observes: "'Nats Style' sounds too much like a marketing line, before anyone suggests it. It's something Seacrest Jr. would looooove."

Oh, thanks loads. Clint will be on that one like a hungry hitter on Danys Baez.

That said, if Clint is popular with kids, he will be around for awhile. This is how Screech (whom, unlike Clint, I always enjoyed anyway) has achieved job security.

Posted by: Hendo | June 22, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

"Wigi is right, we've developed a culture that thrives on working hard and turning the underdog position into an asset. It's positive, without being naive, and most of all it's a determination to take your lumps and learn from them."

Let's hope that 5, 10, 15 years from now, even after the team has won umpteen (or none) titles, that we still regard them like this, and that we're not as blase as Atlanta fans.

Posted by: Juan-John | June 22, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Folks, as we glide into our weekends, let's spare a kind thought for ex-'Spo Cliff Floyd whose Dad is recovering from heart valve surgery. Get well soon, Mr. Floyd.

See you tonight at RFK.

Posted by: Hendo | June 22, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals Scrap Company leaps to mind as a nickname, but infelicities of spacing could wreak havoc with that one. Back to the drawing board...

---

What do we call that? What is the Nationals version of "the Oriole Way"? "Nats Style" sounds too much like a marketing line, before anyone suggests it. It's something Seacrest Jr. would looooove.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 22, 2007 04:25 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 22, 2007 5:21 PM | Report abuse

The scrappy Nats strike again and Bowie is 7-0 in team wins as a starter. Way to go, Nats! My 84-year-old aunt, the longtime Indians fan, will not be happy, but she and I agreed it would be okay to divvy up the wins in this series so no worries there.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 22, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

""Nats Style" sounds too much like a marketing line, before anyone suggests it."

WADR-Develop and sustain a "Way" first, then name it. Anything else IS marketing.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2007 10:33 PM | Report abuse

How to plug holes in a champion - the Cards picked up Tomo Okha, but apparently thought better of it and sent him to visit Graceland, and got Mike Maroth from the Tigers. And they've only got THREE starters on the DL.

Posted by: Cevans | June 22, 2007 11:15 PM | Report abuse

A sweet win capped by a nice job by the Chief. Nonetheless, we owe tribute to the man in the hot corner, who will be sweating it in Kangaroo Court on the way to the airport Sunday.

Nattily-battily
Our Ryan Zimmerman
(Decent with leather as
Well as the stick)

Fielded one tonight
Neo-defensively
Adding a twist to the
Hidden-ball trick.

Oh you Nats!

Posted by: Hendo | June 22, 2007 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Nice one, Hendo! :-)

So is Bowie our good luck charm, or what?!?

Posted by: Juan-John | June 23, 2007 12:03 AM | Report abuse

should Lopez be batting 2nd? It looks like he has the worst OBP of the starters. Church or Watson...ok Church.

Posted by: yo | June 23, 2007 12:11 AM | Report abuse

should Lopez be batting 2nd? It looks like he has the worst OBP of the starters. Church or Watson...ok Church.

Posted by: yo | June 23, 2007 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Don Sutton: It's SCHneider not SNyder. Sheesh.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 23, 2007 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Juan-John asks: "So is Bowie our good luck charm, or what?!?"

Sure seems that way. More first-pitch strikes would have been good, but the Indians' batters are no saps whatever the count. They made MB work for his strikeouts, upping his pitch count to force his departure in the fifth.

To their credit, our guys had some -- not enough, but some -- nice at-bats too. And the pen did the needful. All in all, a fine performance against a formidable team (my Ohio-born Dad's team, by the way; I was just a little conflicted tonight).

Posted by: Hendo | June 23, 2007 1:33 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, what's up with that? After the Mother's Day game, I think it was, Sutton told how Schneider's mother had taken him to task over the pronunciation. How soon they forget ;)

---

Don Sutton: It's SCHneider not SNyder. Sheesh.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 23, 2007 01:13 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 23, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Hendo, I agree, great tribute to Zimm!

The Indians are also the team of my Ohio-born aunt, but we agreed to divvy up the wins for this series.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 23, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Know how you feel, natsfan1a. What I really wanted was to open a can of whoop-ass on the Tigers so it might not come to this.

But there's a reason the Tigers won the AL last season, and the Tribe's in our sights now, so let's get 'em again tonight.

Posted by: Hendo | June 23, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

So, is Zimm a blessed or a cursed man? Wasn't it he who leaned over the plate on an attempted intentional walk and belted it for a hit last year? There's something entirely unusual about that corner of the RFK diamond.

Re: Sutton

Last night was a new low for MASN. Between the self-pleasuring affection Carpenter had for the Indians and Sutton singing and speaking in voices there wasn't much room for getting any worse in the broadcasting booth. Not to mention the huge number of John Madden comments ("The Nationals should try to get a hit or two, here.") It's terrible.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 23, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

One thing about Zimmy, he's great at playing shirtstop. ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 23, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Asks yo: "should Lopez be batting 2nd? It looks like he has the worst OBP of the starters."

If we don't count Watson, who is not apt to put the Pipp on anyone even in this bunch, that is correct. While I can see Lopez picking it up some in the remainder of the season, it wouldn't crush me to see Belliard get a couple games at 2B and Lopez get a little extra BP.

Posted by: Hendo | June 23, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone tell me whether the Twins re-claimed Speigner?

Posted by: C'ville Nat | June 23, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

As I understand it, he'd have to clear waivers first, and I can't find any indication that he has.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 23, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

There she is, the natsfan1a we know and love...

half-cringe, half-LOL

_____

One thing about Zimmy, he's great at playing shirtstop. ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 23, 2007 12:32 PM

Posted by: NatsNut | June 23, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Tee hee!

---

There she is, the natsfan1a we know and love...

half-cringe, half-LOL

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 23, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

... Matt Chico is doing his (good) thing again tonight, and all seems set for a solid victory tonight.

... also, this is post #116. That's gotta be a record, n'est pas?

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 23, 2007 7:46 PM | Report abuse

... Matt Chico is doing his (good) thing again tonight, and all seems set for a solid victory tonight.

... also, this is post #116. That's gotta be a record, n'est pas?

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 23, 2007 7:46 PM | Report abuse

thats it, Watson stays. he's drawing intentional walks.

Posted by: yo | June 23, 2007 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Ouch, that hurt. I was sitting there planning how I would reassure my aunt the Indians fan that it wasn't so very bad, her team might have fallen from 1st place but they would still be a wild card if the postseason were to start tomorrow. Then -- poof -- rationale no longer required. Oh well, we'll get 'em tomorrow. On the plus side, a great start by Chico and Watson is still helping his cause.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 23, 2007 10:22 PM | Report abuse

That's it, Logan's gone. Last out of the game at third, as the potential tying run.
"You're fired."

Posted by: Willie Gandebol | June 23, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Well, hell's bells.

Posted by: Hendo | June 23, 2007 11:36 PM | Report abuse

You're right. Sorry to say it but it's most definitely "see ya later logan". But let there be no doubt. That loss is ENTIRELY on Cordero's shoulders. The whole "Cardiac Cordero" was funny at one time but it isn't anymore.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 23, 2007 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Well, if Chief doesn't blow the save, there's no popped-up bunt, no ground ball comebacker, no "Hey, what's the guy at THIRD doing with the ball?"
But bad location on the fastball (and "behind the center field wall" is a really bad location) is a physical error; Lopez not being able to get the ball out of the infield in that situation is a slumping hitter; but crummy bunting technique and getting basically picked off third by the catcher to END THE FREAKIN GAME is boneheaded.

Posted by: cevans | June 23, 2007 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Bleeagh.

I was in Row 2 of Section 454, right above the area of center field where Sizemore made that cough-up of a missed catch that gave Schneider a triple, and then later robbed Zimmerman of at least a stand-up double.

A bunch of very enthusiastic kids were sitting in the first row (to whom Watson threw a ball during warm-ups that was caught by another guy but given to them), but left after the 8th inning.

Everybody agreed that's when we lost our good luck charms.

Posted by: Juan-John | June 24, 2007 1:03 AM | Report abuse

And one more thing and I'll go to bed:

My rational head says Manny was totally right to have Watson attempt a bunt in the bottom of the 9th.

My emotional heart says that if the kid's bat is as good as it's been, FER PETE'S SAKE LET HIM TAKE A WHACK. If he can get it through or over the heads of the infielders, you might even save an out.

Posted by: Juan-John | June 24, 2007 1:29 AM | Report abuse

Yanda's gamer puts forth the interesting argument that the "textbook" play on Lopez' grounder -- mound to plate to first -- might have allowed Logan to score and tie the game.

That's what Logan claims he had in mind, anyway. Between the situation, Logan's speed, and the futility of recrimination, and having had a night to sleep off the shock of the meltdown, I'm willing to let it go at that.

Re Cordero: All relief pitchers blow saves now and then. While I have my opinions on the (f)utility of the one-inning-closer strategy, let's not go all Philly on the Chief. Fume and move on, and let's get 'em this afternoon.

Posted by: Hendo | June 24, 2007 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Good call Hendo. Also, don't forget quality start for Chico!

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