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Don't look now ...

... but things aren't going so well anymore. Look what happened while everyone was (quasi-)celebrating how resilient the Nationals have been for the better part of the season, since they started 9-25. They went out and lost nine of 12.

That's not good, and they're threatening to fritter away a very good stretch - not just a stretch, but more than half the season - in which they somehow played winning baseball. I used to mention in gamers or on the Journal from time-to-time, how they were X games above .500 for a certain period. The touchstone date for all that was May 11, the day when Shawn Hill went down with his elbow problems, the day Mitchell Page left the team for what were deemed "personal problems," though sources later said the cause was a relapse of his battle with alcoholism.

That date was merely coincidental, but at that point the Nationals had lost eight in a row. Then they started winning. But this latest stretch - culminating in the current four-game losing streak - has brought things crashing down a bit. Yes, the Marlins' colossal collapse - including a 13-2 loss to the Braves Monday night - has kept the Nationals in fourth place in the National League East.

But last week, I was able to write that the Nationals had a better record than nine teams in baseball. That was remarkable, because a team that was supposed to threaten the record for all-time horridness was better than a third of the lead.

No longer the case. Tuesday morning, the Nationals rise with the second-worst record in the National League. They have been passed by the Reds, Giants, Pirates and Astros. They are also the fourth-worst team in baseball.

What does all this mean? Well, there are some people who would quietly say, "Hey, this isn't all bad. The worse the record, the higher the draft pick." But for the guys in that clubhouse - and for Manny Acta in particular - this kind of thing hurts.

It seemed to me that Acta was particularly distraught afterward Monday night. I have a feeling that I will use some of this stuff in a story for Wednesday's $.35er, but you guys are on the cutting edge here at the Journal, so you might as well see it now. Acta knows he can't let his guys be satisfied now.

"You still have to remind them that it's not over," Acta said. "As I said, this month, it could become a long month, and I don't want to go home thinking that yeah, we just won more than 40 like everybody thought. I want to have a little more satisfying ending. It's not going to be easy. We never said it was going to be easy."

This could get fascinating, the young manager trying to hold his guys together while they play opponents - the Dodgers, Phillies, Braves and Mets - who are fighting for their postseason lives.

I'll write more about this in days to come, but I find this battle fascinating.

Some other odds and ends.

From the sausage-making category: When we're on the West Coast, three hours behind, putting out stories for the $.35-edition and that crazy thing called the World Wide Web becomes a bit more complex. I wrote an early story on Ryan Zimmerman's hot second half, and if you hear that glorious "thud" of the $.35 edition landing in your driveway, you almost certainly got that story in your paper.

But if you buy the $.35 edition at the newsstand in the District, which is the final edition, you likely got the game story, which dealt with Wily Mo Pena channeling Kirk Gibson. The paper would have included the first version of that story. The story that's on the Web is an online-only version that has quotes from WMP, etc.

If you're counting, that's three different stories in one night. If anyone who hasn't seen the early Zimmerman story is interested in seeing it, I'd be willing to post it as long as everyone understands it's a total rush job and in fact is no good (though there are some interesting stats in there).

Also: Jason Bergmann returns to the mound tonight. And there's a podcast here with some audio from WMP and others.

Keep in mind: The posting time on this thing says 3-something a.m. That's Eastern, three hours ahead of where I'm at. Even with that, it's time to go to bed. At the very least, I'll get you some lineups from Dodger Stadium, though I may chime in with our latest position-by-position installment if the Journal staff can get itself together in time. (It's August, and they're losing focus a bit, but I'm doing my best. We'll see.)


By Barry Svrluga  |  August 28, 2007; 3:26 AM ET
 
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Next: The Zimmerman story: Early version

Comments

Yeah, of course we'd like to see the Zimm piece. We're baseball nerds, we want to know everything we can.

Tough loss last night, the Pena homer was awesome, I thought of Gibson as soon as he started limping. I think you quoted him saying he'd never heard of that moment. Wow. Is he that young or what, how could he not hear of that??

Posted by: mlwagnercpa | August 28, 2007 5:59 AM | Report abuse

Go ahead and sleep in, B. maybe catch brunch at McCormick & Schmick's with Charlie and Dave in Beverly Hills.

Posted by: cevans | August 28, 2007 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Barry wrote, quoting Manny, "I want to have a little more satisfying ending. It's not going to be easy. We never said it was going to be easy."

... as much as this distresses me, I have to ask if, in light of this being his rookie season as a manager, has Manny reached the limits of his managerial creativity?

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 28, 2007 7:05 AM | Report abuse

It's quite clear what the problem with this team is. It's Shawn Hill. Look at the statistics. With Shawn Hill on the team at the beginning of the season, the Nationals were 10-25 (through games of May 11th, when he walked off the mound and onto the DL). Since his return on August 14th, they are 4-10. Combined record with Shawn Hill: 14-35. Without Shawn Hill: 44-39.

As we've seen in the Cordero discussion, statistics don't lie, they don't even mislead us, rather they illuminate the path toward eternal truth. Without Shawn Hill, the Nationals are a potential wild-card contender. With Shawn Hill, they are historically bad. The solution is obvious: Get rid of Shawn Hill. He's the biggest loser since Teddy Roosevelt, and nowhere near as loveable.

Posted by: Section 419 | August 28, 2007 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Say the Nats get to 70 wins, meaning they would go 12-19 the rest of the way. That would still be a great season, given the situation. They would have basically equaled last year's results with a much inferior roster. In addition they would have made major strides in restocking the pitching depth in their minor league system.

While I'd love to see them end with a rush, maybe 20-11, to finish 78-84, I'll be kind of glad if they don't. Their roster still has major flaws, and they shouldn't be lulled into a false sense of security by a record that is close to .500.

I agree with Natscan that Manny has probably emptied his tank of managerial creativity. I wouldn't though assign his rookie status as the reason. There is only so much one can do with this team regardless of experience. He has the fundamentals in place to be a good skipper. He is a good in-game manager, keeps a positive attitude, and does not embarrass his players publicly.

On the injury during a HR question: I think the answer is that since running out an over the fence HR is a dead ball situation, a substitution can occur. If a player blew out his knee say when touching a base and could not continue, a pinch runner would be put in. I think the batter would be credited with a HR and the RBIs, but the PR would get the run scored. Catcher50: Can you verify the dead ball status of this situation? It seems to me you mentioned that you've been umpiring for a long time.

I think that Yankee Chris Chambliss, in game 5 of the 1976 AL play-offs, was the guy who elbowed his way around the bases after his walk-off, pennant clinching HR.

Posted by: #4 | August 28, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Section 419, great post.

Barry - Yes, please post the Ryan Z article.

Thanks,
JAlt

Posted by: Nats fan in NJ | August 28, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I am the only one noticing that FLop pretty much cost us the game single handledly? He gets thrown out and therefore doesn't score on Zimm's HR and then he makes the error as well. He is having a Guzman-esque season, to say the least. He is my wife's favorite player so I have always cut him some slack but it's time to face the facts: Lopez is not part of the future.

I read a quote from Zimmerman talking about having the bunch of young guys playing together and having fun because they know they will all be around for a while. Who are these people besides Zimmerman? Kearns and Zimm are the only ones I see.

Posted by: GoNats | August 28, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I beg to differ about the quality of the in-paper Zimmerman article. It was good, despite what the esteemed author thinks to the contrary. Also, a couple of said author's lines in the Monday (?) morning recap of Sunday's (?) game were hilarious, such as Hanrahan's numbers resembling a stock market line, i.e., all over the place.

Posted by: samantha7 | August 28, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Samantha: the early edition thumped my driveway, and I read and loved the Zimm piece. The Blogfather's standards for himself are very steep...

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 28, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Frustrating game, baseball. After the Friday night meltdown, things got ugly in Denver. They began to look (I should say sound, since I listen on radio) like a team expecting to lose 120. Bad at bats, bad base running, bad decisions in the field -- all the stuff that doesn't show up in the boxscore but often decides games.
Then in the first inning last night it looked like more of the same. A walk to the leadoff hitter. Next man pops up a bunt with the runner going, a picture-perfect double play except this one goes for a single. Then a wild pitch, a ground ball touched by both Basick and Belliard but stopped by neither and "just like that" as Scully says, it's two zip Dodgers.
But the Nationals didn't roll over.
You might could argue that they are a couple of hanging breaking balls, a couple of wild in the strike zone fastballs away from being 6-6 during this spell.
Anyway, I think it's a good thing they play mostly contenders from here on out. Look on the bright side. Zimmerman and Young are both hitting. I don't have the numbers, but it is my sense that Kearns is hitting better than he has all year. I think they still ahve some good baseball left in them.

Posted by: Salty Dog | August 28, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

i agree that zimmerman is the only current player with as sure as can be sure future on this team. but manny is the real deal also. by taking scraps and providing a good atmosphere i'd say we have a pretty good manager. management is getting a full season of effort to base future decisions on. hard to say manny has maxed out his abilities considering he's never had a stable pitching staff to manage. i doubt lou piniella would have had any patience leftover from this to go into the offseason positively.

when i heard manny say that chico was at best a 4th or 5th starter on a playoff team and still has much to prove i was delighted. manny & zimmerman are the cornerstones and i don't forsee any personality conflicts.

the season is a success for me. but we have to continue winning. top picks are nice but not essential in baseball. great players will be available wherever we draft if we are willing to spend. winning builds confidence overall and increases value of future trade chips, of which we will have plenty.

Posted by: longterm plan | August 28, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Before we go off of the deep end, let's remember a couple of things, here:

1. Manny was always something of an experiment and there was, in the background, an understanding that, even if he was a success, at sometime in the future he would have to be replaced by a more experienced manager, with whatever it would take to make that next step to serious contender.

2. This is still a very young team. Like all young teams, many of us predicted them to be very streaky. Guess what. They are very streaky. Hang in there.

Posted by: Catcher50 | August 28, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I'm convinced Friday night crushed this team's spirit for the remainder of the trip.

Posted by: Wes Mantooth | August 28, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Count me as another one voting to see the Zimmerman story posted online... I always enjoy reading more Barry!

As for Acta, I believe Bowden and Kasten will allow him the chance to grow with the team. If it becomes apparent that he cannot take us to the next level once the talent is there, then a change will be made. However, at this juncture, he has gotten just as much out of this club as anyone else could, so his job is more than secure for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: faNATic | August 28, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

This is the time when we find out something about the mental make up of some of the players that we have on the roster who are considered part of the team's future. Ryan Zimmerman asked to be a clubhouse leader at the beginning of the season. The act by itself is an impressive one for a man as young as he is. How effective can he be in that role as young as he is when it's needed the most? Will Austin Kearns' recent hot streak continue? Can WMP contribute consistent power numbers while minimizing the number of fielding mistakes and strikeouts? Can Ryan Church finish strong and prove he deserves a permanent spot on this club? Can Nook convince management that he's the answer in CF? Can FLop curb what has to be increasing doubt over his long term future with the team?

These next few weeks will tell us something about ourselves too. I'm as guilty as the next guy in getting way too excited when a team is playing well, and way too disappointed when it's playing poorly. Need an example? See my post on Friday about what I thought a realistic improvement COULD be for the club next season. These next few weeks will exhilirate us, frustrate us, infuriate us, and delight us, sometimes all in the same evening.

The test for us will be how closely will we follow? How loyal will we be to a club that has overachieved, fought the good fight for us all summer long but by it's own admission is not quite ready for prime time yet? When the pennant races begin to heat up and take shape through the month of September will we be paying the same attention to the Nats? Where will the Nats fall in our list of priorities when we start to hear the echoes of "Hail to the Redskins" roll to the forefront of our mind? How much attention will we pay to the September call-ups when fantasy football season kicks off and we're worried about the playing conditions for the Cleveland/Houston game and who I can pick up in the free agent pool to cover Donovan McNabb's bye in week 5?

What we do know is that over the next several weeks the club will face the best in the division. The team's record in September will should give us a reasonable measuring stick to see exactly where they stack up going into the offseason. We'll learn a lot about this club over the next couple of weeks, and perhaps even something about ourselves.

Posted by: MKevin | August 28, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

re: Felipe --

I seem to recall that before July he was having a terrible season. Couldn't get a hit, couldn't get on base. Then in July, he started hitting the ball well and was getting a good number of walks.

I also recall that during this "hot" stretch in July, it was mentioned that he struggled before because of some undisclosed personal issues and that it was put behind him.

What's the reason now? He has been playing HORRIFIC baseball in August. Are his personal issues back?

Posted by: e | August 28, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Prepare yourself for the Nats to struggle down the stretch. There is no one like an Upton or Maybin or Braun type to bring up. The teams we are about to play have been preparing all year for this month to lead into the playoffs. Our squad has been playing their heart out all year already. We are going to bring up guys to share inning loads and evaluate, not to win important games. This is where the differences between our season's mindset (prospecting) and theirs (competing) will really show. It's about to be a long season but baseball is year round anyway. I'm sure nobody in the majors was as excited about the draft as we were for Washington. And look who get's a new stadium next year!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 28, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

by the way that was me. and here's to hoping kearns keeps on keepin on.

Posted by: longterm plan | August 28, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Interesting post. I would suspect that the hard core Nats fans who have followed the team from the start (which probably applies to many/most of those here?) are not front-runner or bandwagon types. Speaking only for myself, I'm in it for the long haul. Besides, I'm not that into football or even (ducking) the Skins (I grew with the Bill Walsh/Joe Montana 49ers and the "heart transplant" never quite took I moved here).

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 28, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

"after" I moved here. Daggone gremlins...

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 28, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Also, grew "up" with. Daggone online editing...proofreaders are never around when you need 'em.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 28, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I'll be around. Besides, the only football team around here whose existence I acknowledge is DC United. :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | August 28, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

We keep using the phrase "young team". Besides Zimmerman and the kid catcher who exactly is young. With this current roster please tell me where the potential is? For example I do not see Kearns except as defensive replacement. I have more confidence with WMP at bat than I do Kearns. Church, Logan, Belliard and Lopez unfortunately - maybe bench. The middle infield went when Guzman got hurt.

Posted by: Mjames | August 28, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

The Redskins have proven the existence of a fan base that will be loyal to a team despite years of futility. We just need to channel some of that to baseball fandom.

Posted by: Ann Onymous | August 28, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps this might be a good time to initiate a discussion on which National should receive the "Bart Simpson Underachiever and Proud of It" award for 2007. A month ago, it looked like it might be a tight three-way race between Nook Logan, Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez, but now it seems that Lopez is pulling away with it. (Robert Fick of course has written the book on underachieving this year, not to mention D'Angelo Jiminez, but neither of them has enough plate appearances to qualify.) What do y'all think?

Posted by: Section 419 | August 28, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

underachiever? tony batista every time.

Posted by: longterm | August 28, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I have a diagram to put something in perspective:

A ----- C ------ E ------ D ----- B

Point A: Where the "Experts" predicted we would be this year

Point B: In contention for the post-season

Point C: Where we Nats lovers predicted we'd be this year in April

Point D: Where we Nats lovers predicted we'd be this year in July

Point E: Where we are now.

What's the moral of the story? We need to work harder to meet our July predictions!!! Moral 2: No one needs to get canned or take it too hard that we're at Point E. Relentless positive attitude! That's the Nats Way.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 28, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I think that I don't want to play an individual player-bashing (or team-bashing) game. But, hey, whatever, enjoy...

---

What do y'all think?

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 28, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm not so hot on figuring out diagramming (except, maybe, of sentences), but I like your moxie, Sect. 506!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 28, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

While Felipe Lopez is the obvious choice I wouldn't overlook Ryan Church. Consider the position he plays (corner outfield), the expectations of that position (20+ HR/100+ RBI) and his hot start compared to where he is now .261 BA | 11 HR | 52 RBI. I think one stat from Barry's article yesterday stands out:

"Church reached 10 homers in 196 at-bats in 2006. His 11th homer came in his 415th at-bat this season."

That's well off his pace from last season and a huge disappointment by any measure.

Posted by: MKevin | August 28, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Here's a deal:

419 can play his biggest underachiever game of the year. natsfan1a and I and anyone else can play the "We Were Most Wrong" game about which player we trashed that proved us most wrong.

My nominees are Guzman, Nook, Batista (it's a relative thing), and Kearns.

Someone asked about Kearns, in August
.309 AVG, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 15 BB, 15 SO, 14 runs scored

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 28, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Off topic, but does anyone know the status of the Nats radio broadcast rights now that WTWP is going away?

Posted by: Pondaz | August 28, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

i'll give church a break because he's the last hitter in the lineup with expected production and has the least protection. 40 doubles is nothing to sneeze at. and homers are down all across the majors this year...unless you're zimmerman.

Posted by: longterm | August 28, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

In the "People we Were Most Wrong About" game I think Guzman is the 1st and only candidate. That guy was public enemy #1. He was nothing short of awesome when he was healthy this year and I'm looking forward to seeing him back next year.

Posted by: MKevin | August 28, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

mjames:

I'm with you. This is not a young team. I still feel positive about this year because some major hurdles were jumped. The organization has established some credibility with their plan. They drafted well and have a good manager in place. However in terms of position players, the only place they are in good shape for the next few years is at 3B and behind the plate. Regardless of Kearns' recent hot streak, I must again bring up how bad last year's much heralded trade with the Reds will turn out.

The Nats are deep in the hole on position players. They have no one other than Zim that's proved he can be an extremely productive hitter beyond High A. The jury may even be out on Zim a bit. Again, I am not being critical of the FO. We just must face facts that MLB eviscerated this franchise and that they are a long way from being championship caliber in terms of position players.

As far as losing interest in the team because of the NFL starting, it won't happen here. Parity has overwhelmed the NFL to the point that the games are unwatchable because of the low level of play. In addition the athletes are too big and fast for the field. Unlike baseball, football has to change its rules every three or four years because of the imperfection of its set up. I like football OK as a sport but give me a good HS game over an NFL game anytime.

Posted by: #4 | August 28, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

While HR were down across the majors this year if you use the pace at which he hit HR last season and apply that to the AB he's had this season he should be somewhere near 21 HR at this point. That's nearly a 50% drop off.

Posted by: MKevin | August 28, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

we're not young because we take on others castaways and make do hoping we can climb the ladder spinning them off to sucker playoff teams. i'm ready for next year's draft...

Posted by: longterm | August 28, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

longterm, I would put Batista in the "not enough plate appearances to qualify" category myself. Also, he has been the team's best pinch hitter - but of course with the way the other pinch batters (I hesitate to call them hitters) have performed this season, that's really not saying much.

MKevin, you have a good point re Church.

506, I'd be interested to hear why you consider Guzman to be an underachiever. He was having a damn good year, perhaps a career year, before he got hurt. Remember, we're talking about 2007, not 2005!

Posted by: Section 419 | August 28, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Re the radio rights, the way I read it is that the WTWP stations are not going away, just the Washington Post's agreement to provide programming content for them. Bonneville owns the stations (along with others, such as WTOP), not the Post. I'm sure the Nationals' radio agreement is between the team and Bonneville, not the team and the Post. Plus, the change is not supposed to take place until the end of September, which also happens to be the end of the season, so I wouldn't expect there to be any impact at all on this season's broadcasts.

For next year, it's probably still up in the air. Unless the Nats have a multi-year contract with Bonneville (maybe Barry knows about that, I sure don't), they can just shop their radio rights around next year and see who they can get. Otherwise, if they still have a deal with Bonneville they'll be on some Bonneville station(s), I'd presume.

Posted by: Section 419 | August 28, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

#4: While your points on the NFL have some merit, you can not deny that for all it's problems and imperfections the NFL rules sports in the US. The NFL owns Sunday's. It owns Monday morning across all major sports media outlets. It owns Monday night. It owns Tuesday morning no matter who played on Monday night. Saturdays are owned by NCAA Football. That doesn't leave a lot of room for baseball during the week. There can be no arguing that teams falling out of playoff races (especially those who play in cities with an NFL franchise or big time College Football) will struggle to keep fans interested as the calendar flips to September and the NFL/NCAA football season gets rolling.

Posted by: MKevin | August 28, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

419, you misunderstood my contest. I was coming up with names of people that I spoke poorly of and now have been proven wrong on. Crow Eating Contest.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 28, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

mkevin:

I agree with everything you've said. I just find it unfortunate that it's true.

Posted by: #4 | August 28, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I'm on board with Sect. 506 and MKevin on the CEC (Crow Eating Contest). I'd have to put Guze at #1 for Crow Eating Inducement Potential (CEIP) for this year. I didn't boo him in 2005 but I will confess to having had that sinking feeling when he came up to bat with runners in scoring position that year. I felt so bad for him when he was hurt after having made such a great comeback this year. I'm looking forward to seeing him pick up where he left off next year.

Go Guze! Go NATS!!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 28, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Sect. 419, that's my reading, too, that no change in Nats radio coverage would take place for the remainder of this year.

---

Re the radio rights, the way I read it is that the WTWP stations are not going away, just the Washington Post's agreement to provide programming content for them. Bonneville owns the stations (along with others, such as WTOP), not the Post. I'm sure the Nationals' radio agreement is between the team and Bonneville, not the team and the Post. Plus, the change is not supposed to take place until the end of September, which also happens to be the end of the season, so I wouldn't expect there to be any impact at all on this season's broadcasts.

For next year, it's probably still up in the air. Unless the Nats have a multi-year contract with Bonneville (maybe Barry knows about that, I sure don't), they can just shop their radio rights around next year and see who they can get. Otherwise, if they still have a deal with Bonneville they'll be on some Bonneville station(s), I'd presume.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 28, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Barry's above breakdown of our recent slide notwithstanding, I stand by my exuberance (irrational?) in the midst of last night's game regarding this team. Win or lose, they play with heart while providing far more highlight reel moments than one would expect from a team with a losing record. That WMP homer last night was un-freaking-believable. Too bad they couldn't hold on to the win or it would have become one of those frequently replayed moments like Zimm's walk-off HR against the Yanks...

Posted by: JennX | August 28, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Jesus Flores is playing in the Arizona Fall League. I wonder if they are gonna give him a chance to make a case to remain in the majors next year...

Posted by: longterm | August 28, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

speaking of Pena. 265 pounds?!? Yikes. Bubba's HUGE!

Posted by: NatsNut | August 28, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Pena lists at 6-3, 245lb.

I think our bullpen is about shot, you just can't have that many starters only going 5-6 innings every time out. I expecte we'll see about 20 guys in the bullpen September 5th included in the callups I'm guesing will be Chico, Booker, Abreau, Perez, Munoz, Balester and Speigner plus maybe Zinicola (AA).

Posted by: estuartj | August 28, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

#4 asserted:

"The Nats are deep in the hole on position players. They have no one other than Zim that's proved he can be an extremely productive hitter beyond High A. The jury may even be out on Zim a bit. Again, I am not being critical of the FO. We just must face facts that MLB eviscerated this franchise and that they are a long way from being championship caliber in terms of position players."

------------------------------------------

I would have to strongly disagree with the above statement. First, Zimmerman has more than proven he can handle a bat at the major league level. Not sure that there's any jury out about him at all. While he suffers from slow starts and a little bit of streakiness, he's a major league hitter with major league numbers to back that up.

Second, I think Dmitri has shown that he is also a major league hitter - not just this season, but in several past seasons for other teams. While he is playing somewhat above his head in terms of average, the rest of his numbers are relatively in line with his career, meaning that there is no substantial lack of productivity coming from the position. As everyone else is presently noting, Guzman was producing at or above the level of most other major league shortstops at the time he was injured. In my book, he gets a pass on judgment until next season to prove he can repeat his performance.

I don't think either of those can be accused of being High A ball hitters in terms of productivity. We hadn't seen Guzman perform at that level in some time due to injuries, but he was that valuable when we traded for him. Under no circumstances would either of those players belong on a High A roster. Without a doubt, they are major league hitters.

To conclude, I agree with your final assertion that MLB eviscerated the core of the team during its ownership. We lost valuable parts and pieces aplenty that we are still compensating for and will be for some time. Our depth is deplorable in general, but I think it goes too far to state that we have virtually no MLB-caliber talent anywhere on the roster.

Posted by: faNATic | August 28, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Pinch-runner is the correct answer. See rule 5.10(c)(1)


Rule 5.10
The ball becomes dead when an umpire calls "Time." The umpire-in-chief shall call "Time" --
(a) When in his judgment weather, darkness or similar conditions make immediate further play impossible;
(b) When light failure makes it difficult or impossible for the umpires to follow the play;
NOTE: A league may adopt its own regulations governing games interrupted by light failure.
(c) When an accident incapacitates a player or an umpire;
(1) If an accident to a runner is such as to prevent him from proceeding to a base to which he is entitled, as on a home run hit out of the playing field, or an award of one or more bases, a substitute runner shall be permitted to complete the play.


---------------
On the injury during a HR question: I think the answer is that since running out an over the fence HR is a dead ball situation, a substitution can occur. If a player blew out his knee say when touching a base and could not continue, a pinch runner would be put in. I think the batter would be credited with a HR and the RBIs, but the PR would get the run scored.
Posted by: #4 | August 28, 2007 07:58 AM

Posted by: cevans | August 28, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut sez: "speaking of Pena. 265 pounds?!? Yikes. Bubba's HUGE!"

Having seen them both from my perch in 419 (right behind the plate) I can vouch that Wily Mo makes Dmitri look almost petite in comparison. And the meat on Wily Mo appears to be all muscle. Not so sure about the meat on Da Meat, though.

Posted by: Section 419 | August 28, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Someone on a earlier post was complaining about Bill L @ mlb.com. I was looking at his mailbag just now and happened on this gem regarding Schneider;

"I think he is an outstanding defensive catcher, but, in my opinion, he has digressed as a hitter the last two years. Considering he is known to hit the opposite way, I thought he would be a .270 to .280 hitter by now. Obviously, I'm not a hitting coach, so I can't tell you how he can be fixed."

First, I'll leave it to the english majors to comment on how he "digressed", but secondly the last half of that comment is a completely useless. If your going to comment and write about this stuff, FOR A LIVING, shouldn't you maybe go talk to a hitting coach?

I totally agree, the quality of the reporting (and the writting) at MLB.com leaves much to be desired...

Posted by: estuartj | August 28, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I was a History major, not an English major, but I still should have caught myself before posting your instead of you're and I should have caught that extra A in the sentence before.

I guess that's my lesson for attacking someone else's writting ability. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa...

Posted by: estuartj | August 28, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Radio situation: I'll write a post and/or a story about this soon. The deal with Post Radio was for one season, and -- indeed, one of you had it correct -- Washington Post Radio was merely the name of a Bonneville-owned station. The Post does not own the station, just provided reporters to yak about their stories, etc. Kinda like an infomercial, no? The deal was between the Nats and Bonneville, and it's quite possible those two partners will strike another deal to keep the games on the same frequency -- 107.7 FM and 1500 AM. The Nats definitely like the strong signal, and it doesn't make any difference to them whether the thing is branded "Wash Post Radio" or not.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | August 28, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Barry, while you're here/reading - can you put up the Zimmerman piece that went out in the .35 edition?

Posted by: faNATic | August 28, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

faNATic:

Point taken. I should have been clearer with my prose. My comment came in the context of the "we have a young team" comment. I meant we have few if any young players who have proven they can hit above A ball.

Posted by: #4 | August 28, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

No worries, esj. Because you've learned from history, you are not doomed to repeat it. :-)

Seriously, I've seen that phenomenon on a number of the editorial-type discussion lists to which I belong. A member posts a correction of someone else's grammar or spelling only to find (after hitting "send," of course) that their own post contains an error. Don't know whether that's instant karma, Murphy's Law of the Internet, or what...

---

I was a History major, not an English major, but I still should have caught myself before posting your instead of you're and I should have caught that extra A in the sentence before.

I guess that's my lesson for attacking someone else's writting ability. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa...

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 28, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

RE: Bill L.

Dictionary.com defines "Digress" as "to deviate or wander away from the main topic or purpose in speaking or writing; depart from the principal line of argument, plot, study, etc."

Dictionary.com defines "regress" as
"1. to move backward; go back.
2. to revert to an earlier or less advanced state or form.
-noun
3. the act of going back; return.
4. the right to go back.
5. backward movement or course; retrogression."

I noticed his gaffe last night when I read his article. Ooops.

Posted by: MKevin | August 28, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"RE: Bill L.

Dictionary.com defines "Digress" as "to deviate or wander away from the main topic or purpose in speaking or writing; depart from the principal line of argument, plot, study, etc."

Maybe Ladson meant that Schneider has wandered away from his hitting task in the same way that Teddy has digressed every time he's run the Presidents Race. Except for this coming Saturday, of course.

Posted by: Section 419 | August 28, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

No, in the gamer, Pena HIMSELF said he couldn't put all his 265 pounds of weight on the foot.

___
Pena lists at 6-3, 245lb

Posted by: NatsNut | August 28, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Zimmerman story is posted.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | August 28, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

To sum it up in a familiar phrase, what Sect. 506 was saying was that "You gotta have heart, miles and miles and miles of heart." I could go on, but you get the idea.

Posted by: Medium-sized Mac | August 28, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Those other three guys are going DOWN, big time!!

---

Maybe Ladson meant that Schneider has wandered away from his hitting task in the same way that Teddy has digressed every time he's run the Presidents Race. Except for this coming Saturday, of course.

Posted by: Teddy R. | August 28, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

"You gotta have hope, musn't sit around and mope"

Posted by: Rocky | August 28, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

"Nuthin's half as bad as
it may appear, wait'll next year and hope"

Posted by: Joe Hardy | August 28, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

When your luck is battin' zero...

Posted by: la la la | August 28, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

ooo ooooo ooooooooooooooh...

Posted by: Lola | August 28, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Get your chin up off the floor...

Posted by: the Skip | August 28, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Woooo ooooooo oooooooooooo ...

Posted by: Rocky | August 28, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Mister, you can be a hero!
You can open any door!

Posted by: Benny van Buren | August 28, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

...there's nothin' to it but to do it

Posted by: Van B. (AKA Skip) | August 28, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

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