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Position by position: Middle infield

Apparently this team is going to dictate how our position-by-position series goes, because just when I wanted to move on from catcher (where we've discussed Schneider and Flores) to first (where we've discussed Young and Johnson) to closer (where we discussed Cordero because, well, it was urgent). I wanted to move on to the middle infield next, and - Voila! Thank you, Felipe - we now have a reason to do it.

Anyone who stayed up and watched the games from Dodger Stadium the last two nights knows that Felipe Lopez had a hand - a Shaquille O'Neal sized-hand - in both the losses. Each was by one run. Each came with Lopez mishandling a grounder. Monday's was scored a hit. Tuesday's was scored an error. Both plays were makeable.

In his major league career, Lopez has started 525 games at shortstop, 75 at third base and 50 at second base. But it seems clear to me - and maybe others feel differently - that second base is his best position. In 204 chances at second this season, Lopez has one error, a fielding percentage of .995. In 365 chances at shortstop this year, Lopez has 13 errors, a percentage of .964. And, clearly, the last two nights show that that's not the whole story.

Lopez is not the only person involved in this middle infield equation. Keep in mind that the plan this year was to play Lopez at second, Cristian Guzman at shortstop and Ronnie Belliard spelling either of them. But now, Belliard has started 86 games at second - more than the guy who was supposed to play there, Lopez.

So let's look at these guys.

Ronnie Belliard
Age: 32
Contract: $750,000 this year, signed two-year, $3.5-million extension in July ($1.6 million in 2008, $1.9 million in 2009)
2007: 119 G/398 AB, .279 average/.325 OBP/.407 slugging, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 25 doubles, 5 errors in 494 total chances at all four infield positions for a .990 fielding percentage (.991 at second base)
Career: 1,168 G/4,210 AB, .272/.337/.410, 88 HR, 481 RBI

Cristian Guzman
Age: 29
Contract: In third year of a four-year, $16.8-million deal, with $4.2 million due next year
2007: 43 G/173 AB, .329/.382/.468, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 31 runs scored, 2 stolen bases, 8 errors for a .956 fielding percentage
Career: 1,026 G/3,906 AB, .263/.302/.378, 45 HR, 334 RBI, 111 stolen bases

Felipe Lopez
Age: 27
Contract: Avoided arbitration this year by signing one-year, $3.9 million deal. Eligible for arbitration after 2007, free agent after 2008.
2007: 126 G/505 AB, .242/.305/.354, 9 HR, 48 RBI, 53 runs scored, 22 doubles, 21 stolen bases (8 caught stealing), .975 fielding percentage combined at short and second
Career: 702 G/2,622 AB, .258/.328/.399, 65 HR, 265 RBI, 367 runs scored, 128 doubles, 98 stolen bases (40 caught stealing), .961 career fielding percentage

Prospects: The middle infield prospects for this team are at the lower levels in the minors, from Stephen King (19 years old, struggled at low-Class A Hagerstown, sent to rookie-level Gulf Coast League, hit nine homers there, is hitting .333 at short-season Class A Vermont) to Esmailyn Gonzalez (hit .245 with .382 OBP in first pro season over here with GCL Nationals). No one worth talking about above that (and no, Ian Desmond is not close).

There you have it. Let's eliminate the Belliard discussion now. As one player from another team said to me in the last month, "How did they sign him for so little?" It's a good point. As I've said before - and the Nationals have put this out there - if he's a bench player, he comes at a fair price. If he's a starter, he's a complete bargain. When they signed him to the extension, he was hitting above .300. That's not likely to continue, and it hasn't. I'd expect him to be his normal .270-.280 over the next two years. And again, as I've said before, when I first saw this dude in spring training, I was like, "They're trying to tell me he can play defense. No way." Well, I think he's a darn good second baseman, and just might be the biggest reason the Nationals are third in the NL in double plays turned.

Guzman: Let's not get caught up in that flash he showed early in the year. His thumb has come along, and he should be healthy and ready to go in spring training. But will he be the hitter he was in those fleeting moments from May and June? Seems doubtful. His history - and that .302 career OBP jumps out at you, doesn't it? - doesn't suggest he'll hit .3something for the year. And are you sold on him defensively? I keep thinking about what Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire said when we were in Minnesota earlier this year, that he was never the same after suffering a shoulder injury during his Twins career, I think in 2001. Can't make the throws he used to.

Lopez: This is the most complex part of the problem, in my mind. His career numbers do suggest that he's better than this, but what do we know about him in Washington? He has had many, many defensive lapses, and keep in mind that his 28 errors in 2006 tied with Detroit's Carlos Guillen for the most errors of any player in the majors - at any position - that season. He played very, very well at second base when Guzman was healthy, made the switch willingly, and as I said, it's pretty clear that's his best position.

The question, I guess, is: If all three of these guys are healthy, do they make up the kind of middle infield that can win? It's pretty clear that, unless something truly unexpected happens, Guzman is gone after 2008. But is Lopez, a free agent after 2008 as well, worth keeping around? Or does this team need an overhaul at both positions in order to win?

Some news from last night: Belliard became dizzy while hitting that triple. He came out late in the game, with D'Angelo Jimenez replacing him, and has been battling a cold/flu thing. He said after the game that he didn't know whether he would be able to play in the series finale on Wednesday.

Other stuff: Here's the game story, and then there's the notebook dealing with Wily Mo Pena's injury, etc. Boz has a very interesting big-picture column on some of the stuff to, uh, look forward to at the new ballpark next year.

The chat: It's normally at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays. I have to meet with Manny Acta at 1:30 p.m. (that would be eastern, 10:30 a.m. out here), so I'm trying to get it switched to 12:30 p.m.. I'll let you know when to log on, but I'd get your questions in early here if you want to make sure.

Programming note: The chat has been moved to 2 p.m. eastern. Please join me then.

By Barry Svrluga  |  August 29, 2007; 3:57 AM ET
 
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Next: End-of-the-road-trip lineups

Comments

Re the infield: more rebuilding is called for; free agent acquisitions would be best, but expensive and counter to everything we know about the penny-pinchers. A porous infield is a sure-fire recipe for a mediocre won/loss record, which appears to be what we are in store for, absent some trades/acquisitions.

Boswell's column highlights the results of the dopey 2007 marketing strategy of Lerner/Kasten & Co. Give the fans the bare minimum in what to expect at major league baseball games--the mediocre fan "experience" at RFK has turned off all but the hardiest die-hard fans. Kasten keeps saying 2008 season ticket sales are stratospheric, but provides no details.

The owners show every sign of being content with a penny-pinching small-market operation. Should they change their minds later on, it will be too late. 2007 was the year to make an impact--their signature first season--and they didn't. Or rather, the impact they made was to reveal who they are and thus reduce attendance to a bare minimum.

In short, we've heard from the jury--the huge metro area fan base-- and the verdict goes against the Nats. Kasten thinks there will be a recovery once the Nats become competitive in the NL East. Don't hold your breath on either prediction.

In the meantime, for us die-hards, we've got ML baseball on a par with the glory days of Sherry Robertson, George Case and Eddie Yost. What's not to like?

Posted by: JohnR (VA) | August 29, 2007 4:53 AM | Report abuse

Is this a middle infield that can win? No.

We need a shortstop. Flop had one good offensive year in Cincy and zero good defensive years at short. Agree that he's much better defensively at 2b. If Guzzy can sustain his 2007 offense throughout 2008, he can be serviceable. Big if.

If Belliard is our utility man, we are in great shape. He's a vet who really knows how to play. Is he durable enough to be an everyday 2b? I guess we're finding out.

This team has been endearing by playing hard and winning when on paper they have no chance. We fans like the story of plucky hard-working overachievers. Where am I going with this? To Flop - he looks like he takes plays off mentally. Bad baserunning the other day, trying to stretch a double in the first inning, and frequent defensive lapses. He looks like he knows he can't play short very well, and isn't loose and in the flow. (I can see all this through my TV). Looking ugly makes the losses harder to stomach.

Seems we're stuck with our infield in 2008 unless somebody takes Flop off our hands. I think the losing on the West Coast trip reminds us how weak this team is - with our offense we really can't win with mediocre infield defense. So stay with "the Plan."

Our lineup is full of guys who "would be a decent 7th place hitter on a good team." If we beef up the outfield offensively, then we can live with that kind of hitter in the middle infield. Can we find some young shortstop with good defensive skills who can be groomed for 2008?

To comment on Boz's column, the ownership was very clear in communicating that this team this year would be bad - wins/losses didn't matter. There was some lip service about improving the RFK experience but no actions that made news. It's pretty rare when owners proactively tell fans to stay home, but that's what they did and that's what has happened. A bad news offseason and weak in-season marketing haven't helped.

So - sure, lease some parking lots next year. But long term, an urban park in a lively neighborhood is going to be much more successful than a park surrounded by an ocean of parking. One of the few virtues of huge lots is the pregame tailgating that can happen at RFK - so market it next year. Have vendors, maybe music, open early so folks can go after work, then run buses to the games.

Posted by: Geezer | August 29, 2007 5:18 AM | Report abuse

The middle infield situation mirrors the rest of the roster. When JimBo took over there was nothing as a result of how MLB torched the team. He tried to patch things together through two low cost FA signings (Guzman and Belliard) and a trade (Lopez).

The verdict is in and unfortunately the three players the Nats have are not championship level starters. Belliard's a decent utility man but that's it. With little in the minors, the only hope is to make an expensive FA signing or two - a risky proposition.

The Nats have the following decision to make about most of their position players. Should they muddle through with mediocrity, build through the draft and take 4 or 5 years to create a long term winner? Or should they spend a bunch of money on FAs now to accelerate the process, leaving less money to draft and sign position players. I urge the first option.

I haven't read Boswell's article yet (the paper just hit the stoop), but I will reiterate that when Stan Kasten was president of the Braves and they were winning 14 division titles, they couldn't sell out play off games. As a team on the field they were good; they had a great TV situation with TBS so they had money. However, the team was not marketed well. I wouldn't expect a bunch of genius moves from Kasten on this.

Sorry for the gloom and doom this morning.

Posted by: #4 | August 29, 2007 6:02 AM | Report abuse

One other thing: I didn't get a chance to chime in on the broadcast teams. Both the TV and radio guys are excellent. Carpy is a very solid play-by-play guy who strikes the right balance on the "homer" issue. I've never felt he was rooting against the Nats, but I also find him appropriately critical. Sutton is very well-informed, and the two of them have good chemistry. More than anything I'd like to see continuity. I'm tired of the revolving door.

Posted by: #4 | August 29, 2007 6:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised to hear that Guz "Can't make the throws he used to", I thought he had a very strong arm. Certainly better than Jamie 'hop, skip, jump, throw" Carroll.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | August 29, 2007 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps this is the "typical fan" in me coming out again, where everything is doom and gloom...

...but it's beginning to occur to me that for all of the team's pitching and outfield questions/woes (at the Major League level), might the middle infield be much, much further from being ready to compete?

If you break down the field into five parts instead of nine (outfield, middle infield, corner infield, pitching, catching), the arguement could certainly be made that middle infield is the organization's weakest from top to bottom. Pretty scary, once you think about it.

I dunno, maybe tonight I'll go back to the outfield. Depends on what happens today, I guess...

Posted by: Matt | August 29, 2007 8:00 AM | Report abuse

2008: A-Rod at SS; Belliard at 2nd

(If not A-Rod then Renteria - who the Braves will probably move and replace with Escobar)

Posted by: lowcountrynatsfan | August 29, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

--WARNING: RANT STARTING--

Oh, and on another note... I am SICK of Boz. Sorry, I know a well-respected, long-time baseball man when I see one, but I've had enough of his every-other-month column predicting the demise of Washington baseball. The worst part about it (to me) is when his negativity receives national attention, but all the good things this team is doing do not. Granted the link below is not the front page of ESPN, but it's still the top story/rumor/etc on SI.com's fannation. Sigh.

http://www.fannation.com/truth_and_rumors/mlb

--RANT OVER--

Posted by: Matt | August 29, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse

OVERHAUL.

Belliard's role as a bench player who might get extra playing time is fine, but if this team wants to _really_ win, they need a lot more offense out of these two positions. There's not a lot in the minors or Free Agent market so the Nats may have to make a trade if they want to try to have winning seasons instead of 0.500 seasons.

Posted by: Scott M. Collins | August 29, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

"Well, I think he's a darn good second baseman, and just might be the biggest reason the Nationals are third in the NL in double plays turned."

Belliard has been good and is good at turning the two, but I'd guess that the reason the Nats are doing so well in that stat has more to do with them allowing so many baserunners and having so few strikeouts.

Posted by: Chris | August 29, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

The middle infield situation mirrors the rest of the roster. When JimBo took over there was nothing as a result of how MLB torched the team. He tried to patch things together through two low cost FA signings (Guzman and Belliard) and a trade (Lopez).

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

Um - Guzman a low cost FA signing?!? Everyone, at the time of the signing, thought that Bowden way overpaid for Guzman. $16M+ for a mediocre SS who was obviously declining. Then Guzzy went on to back that up by laying an egg in his first season with the Nats, just barely hitting over .200 for most of the season (ended up at .219...with an OBP of .260 (!)). Sure, Bodes had nothing to work with...though, he did trade away Macier Izturis, who would have been serviceable, as well as fan-favorite (though apparently not PowerBoater69's) Jamey Carroll for cash (!).

Unfortunately, we're stuck with Guzzy and his career .302 OBP for another season. But as soon as that's done (or sooner), I say go grab a free agent SS that's solid on defense. With the hopefully beefed-up outfield and a further developed Zimm, the SS can hit at the bottom of the lineup and we'd be fine.

Posted by: DE | August 29, 2007 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Yeah middle infield is an issue, but lets leave Belliard, Lopez, and Guzman to it for one more year. No sense in wasting money when we won't be winning the World Series next year. I am more concerned about the lack of prospects in these positions.

Posted by: GoNats | August 29, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I have high hopes for Guz next year. He'll be in the last year of his contract and a serious chip on his shoulder because his lack of production thus far. He's a proud man and wants to prove he's worth the money, he'll get that chance.

Lopez is a tougher question, even if he's better on defense at 2nd, can he ever hit well enough to deserve his place in the line-up?

I love Belli, but he is not the answer at 2nd either, but I'm guessing we'll see him starting on opening day next year with Lopez on the bench.

Posted by: estuartj | August 29, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Barry, I hate to use your blog to talk about Boz' column, but you're the one who told me to read it.
First off, the comparison with Baltimore attendance is somewhat bogus. Take away the gazillion people who come down from New England and New York to see the Red Sox and the Yankees and the Orioles' numbers are probably worse than the Nationals'. And this in an established great baseball town with a ballpark that remains at least in the top five.
Baseball is about to price itself out of existence. (OK, I'm a cranky old man who's been saying that for some years now.) It's sold its soul to corporations and fat cats and appears to care little about the ordinary fan who scrapes together the money to see half a dozen games a year. I'm bringing my grandson and one of his pals up for a game this weekend and it's going to cost me more than $200 (with mediocre tickets) to drive up, see one ballgame and drive home.
I continue to think the Nationals must do better with regional marketing to the south and west. They are hemmed in to the north and, let's face it, there are a lot of people in Washington who are from elsewhere and remain loyal to the Twins or the Indians or whomever. Get some deals with hotels, especially for weekend series. You might even get them to use their shuttle vans to take people to and from the ballpark.
Frankly, I've been a little surprised that baseball attendance in general has continued to rise, especially since they seem determined to keep anyone under 18 from ever seeing a playoff or World Series game through to the end. But that's been in a fairly strong economy. If there is a serious downturn, how many people will be willing to pay $30, $40, $50 for a so-so ticket to see a couple of middle of the pack teams? These are, by the way, exactly the kind of people who will expect decent parking for the $15 or $20 that will cost them.
On the question of the day, Belliard and Lopez are very good fill-in guys and we're lucky to have them this year. But neither of these guys, or Guzman, are anything close to a competitive future. Solid shortstops are apparently in short supply (The Red Sox, with their untold millions have been through, what?, five? since they dumped Nomar.) Unremarkable in any direction may be the best we can hope for for awhile. At least we have a great fielding third baseman on that side. Same can't be said for the other side. Having guys with limited range at both first and second is a problem.

Posted by: Salty Dog | August 29, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I love Belly. Can't get over the amazing flip awhile back.
I'm feeling bad for Felipe. For some reason I think something else is going on. Wouldn't be surprised if we find out later on what the problems at home are.

I noticed something unusual when reading the post-game articles for Monday and Tuesday's losses (Barry's and/or Ladson's). It's the first time I've noticed the players mentioning a specific play or player in connection with the loss. Both Bascik and King mentioned Felipe in the losses when it seems in the past, players stayed far, far away from laying blame, even when it so obviously laid on one person's shoulders (see Cordero, Friday night). I hope attitudes aren't shifting in the clubhouse.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 29, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Folks seem to be saying: stay with Lopez as a low cost option for 2008. But is he? If he goes to arbitration, he may get $4 million. This ownership group may not want to offer him arbitration. And who can blame them? In the real world, that's a lot of money.

Lopez is better than what he has shown this season, but in baseball the facts speak for themselves.

Posted by: Ed | August 29, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

To John R--How can one say that the Owners want to run this team as a small market operation and are penny pinchers given the team's signing of most of its draft picks this year and last and paying top dollar for McNeary? Paying Sorriano (for one example) the amount he got from the Cubs merely for our personal enjoyment and 5 more wins this year would have been unwise.

I feel that the middle infield is set, for better or worse (as to which I will tell you next year after 25 games and in complete hindsight, y'alls confidence in your predictive abilities astounds and overwhelms me). First Base and Outfield are more worrisome but it will all come down to "pitching, pitching pitching."

As to Boz, I have taken the subway to RFK since the the Mid-Seventies (Diplomats, DCU, Freedom, and NaT) unless with someone who drove. I will continue to do to the new stadium, so I have no dog in the parking fight. My take is if the team is good enough they will come. The comparison with Atlanta is out of line--see Wilbron on Atlanta as a sports town.

Posted by: Sec 417 Row 8 Seat 9 | August 29, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Barry-

Can you do a blog about Felipe's tattoos? He appears to have at least one full sleeve, if not two.

Posted by: cj_atc | August 29, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

What am I, chopped liver?

---

Barry-

Can you do a blog about Felipe's tattoos? He appears to have at least one full sleeve, if not two.

Posted by: Wookie (AKA Big John) | August 29, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Geezer sez: "It's pretty rare when owners proactively tell fans to stay home, but that's what they did and that's what has happened."

Huh? How and when did the Lerners or Kasten "proactively tell fans to stay home"? They may have made one or two ill-advised comments somewhere along the way that the media picked up and ran with, repeating over and over and over again, adding more negative spin each and every time, until it ended up with all the impact of a full-fledged marketing campaign. But that's the media's doing, not the ownership's. Conveniently the media neglects to pounce on any counterbalancing positive quotes from ownership, or even to report that although some fans are staying home, a lot of others aren't. If fans are staying home, then who are all these people I see in RFK at every game I go to? (And I've been to 16 so far this year. How about you?) The stadium is not full, but it's far from the ghost town the media (represented this morning by Mr. Boswell) would have you believe.

People sometimes comment that the Lerners and Kasten aren't forthright enough in commenting to the media. Maybe that's true, but if it is it's probably because they've learned that the media will take one or two not-so-positive comments and blow them totally out of proportion, while totally ignoring everything else you say. Given that, the best course is usually to say nothing to the media, and I don't blame the Lerners and Kasten for doing exactly that.

Posted by: Section 419 | August 29, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Middle infield is biggest problem, in my mind. At least OF has prospects.

Middle infield is weak AND no prospects. I have medium hopes that Guzzie can have a big year next year. Not .330 BA but .290 and lots of runs, decent RBIs. That would be good enough for '08.

Botto line, those three are not a winning middle infield. With arb, Lopez may get $3-4m and I don't think he's that kind of a player. But then again, if a strong 2B starter isn't on the market at reasonable price then it would be a crapshoot to replace him. So, I think bring him back for '08 but need to be on the market for a real starting 2B and SS.

I left Belliard for last. He, like Carroll that we let go, is a great utility infielder. He can play all four infield spots pretty well and .270-.280 is really strong for a middle infield back up player. He was a good deal and I look forward to having him around for two years. And if he has to start because someone goes down, he's a decent starter. Plus, I like his swagger. He just struts around like he knows he can play. I like that.


Posted by: mlwagnercpa | August 29, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Not the question Barry asked, but I want to say that the player I most want to see do well in this group is Guzman. His defense is average, his true hitting level is probably average, but his hustle and skill on the base path is truly enjoyable to watch. He seldom makes a bad jusdgement there and he is faster than most people seem willing to give him credit for. I truly admire how hard he has worked to overcome setbacks such as shoulder, vision, thumb, etc....

Lopez probably has the most potential of the group, and it is unfair to cast him as a shortstop. He could be an above average secondbaseman. He could even be a 20/20 guy in the new park. (Shame we won't be able to drive to see him). He is not a good leadoff hitter and he is probably not going to improve on his career average at this point. But if you can trade Lopez for something better you have to consider it. He's probably not part of the future.

Belliard is a fine player. Keep him. Use him as a backup and start him when needed.

Grow, sign, or trade for another middle infielder for 2008/2009. If Guzman does not make it back this time it will be a shame.

Posted by: NatBisquit | August 29, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

.. September baseball and call-ups: for contending teams, it provides a chance to continue the fight without wearing out the regulars so they'll still have something left for October. For non-contenders, it offers an opportunity to see next year's team this year.

... the Nats are obviously in the latter camp. Whatever happens to the team's fortunes between the first and the last of September, I will not be overly concerned. Sure, I'll add my voice to the myriad others who will wail about whichever Nat is the daily scapegoat, and I'll sing praises for whomever is the current hero.

... but in the end, I'll look for evidence that the players have a sense that next year will be not just 'next year' but a continuation of this season.

... there will be some who will leave. One name comes quickly to mind, pinch hit dinger notwithstanding. It seems to me that Tony Batista will eventually be traded to, or sign with an AL team looking for a DH. And that should bring in or make possible another more appropriate utility IF.

... in these last 29 games we should get a good idea of what next year's pitching core looks like. At the moment, who can really say anything definitive. And that's unfortunate since this season's injuries made it impossible to get a good read on just about every one of them.

... and finally, and of course there are any number of other discussions, this is Felipe Lopez' swan song with DC. He doesn't like it here, he doesn't play well here, and he clearly shouldn't be here. The upside is that Flip still has a career ahead of him somewhere and for that reason, should be a cash-in-able commodity to another team where he can get a 'new' fresh start, and we can receive something of value.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 29, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Matt, I think you are completely missing the boat on Boswell. His column was a swift kick in the hindquarters of the Nat's management, the city government, and the Federal government, on behalf of the fans. What on earth is wrong with that?

It's not Boswell's job to act as a cheerleader for the Lerners.

Would you rather pretend that the problems don't exist? Just looking at license plates in the parking lot at RFK, you can see that a substantial amount of the fan base comes from Northern VA. I don't know if you've every tried taking Metro from Springfield to the game and back -- I have. Once. It amounts to an hour and half to two hours from my house to the stadium, one way.

Parking is an important concern for the new stadium, it needs to be addressed (and fixed), and good for Boz for raising some he11 about it.

Posted by: joebleux | August 29, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I think you are completely missing the boat on what my point was. I never said Boz didn't have a valid arguement. I take the metro to the majority of the 50 games or so I've been to this year, and it's a mess. I drive when I can (on the weekends), and I'll miss tailgating next year.

My point, however, was that he only sticks his nose into the local baseball scene when he has some Nat-bashing/O-caressing to do, and it's getting old.

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

I don't think they can non-tender Lopez, they have too much invested in him. I still think Guz comes back strong next year and Belli will probably beat out Lopez for the starting slot.

Maybe Lopez needs to straighten out his personal life, who knows? In the end these are the guys we have for next year and maybe the year after, before we finally get some "permanent" replacements from within the system. As Salty Dog mentioned, finding a FA replacement for Guzman isn't going to be easy (and certainly not cheap).

I think the only relistic option for the middle infield is to use the players we have and hope that upgrades elsewhere (ie Outfield) will either help them play better or make their lack of production less critical.

BTW Vermont SS Stephen King's line so far;
.333/.360/.417, he's only played 6 games, but has hits in all of them...

Posted by: estuartj | August 29, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

OTOH, I've taken the Metro from Springfield to each of the games that I've attended (about 10-12 per year since 2005). I don't mind the ride time and feel that crowd management at the Stadium-Armory station has been handled well overall. To each his or her own, I suppose. But I do understand that parking will be an issue for many.

I don't mind Boz attempting to light a fire under the powers that be, and my own recollection is that there have been a number of positive Nats-related columns over the years.

---

I don't know if you've every tried taking Metro from Springfield to the game and back -- I have. Once. It amounts to an hour and half to two hours from my house to the stadium, one way.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 29, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Much as I love Boz, I think that Matt is right. He fell in love with Ripken all those years ago and still feels a tug. The earlier post is correct in that the O's attendance is supported only by those Saux and Yankees fans (although granted the Nats benefit, and always will, from displaced Pittsburghers, St. Louisians, etc.).

I think that there is a serious underestimation of Lopez at 2b. That is where he belongs and, if Guzzie can't make it, next year, there is a serious need for a Shortstop.

Parallel to that, has anyone done stats for Zimm's errors with Guzman vs. with Lopez at short? He may be shading and/or trying to get to balls that he knows Lopez can't make a play on.

Posted by: Catcher50 | August 29, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Boz's last Nat's column was "Throwaway Season a Keeper", in which he says "More likely, the Nats will continue to enjoy, and build upon, a truly remarkable and unexpected season."

Curse him for his Nats bashing.

Posted by: joebleux | August 29, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Matt re Boz's priorities in deciding what to write about. It's a shame the O's only had one game last night where they gave up 11 runs in one inning. If they'd had a doubleheader like last Wednesday, Boz could have watched every Orioles pitch last night (as he admitted in his chat that he did for the doubleheader that started with the 30-3 game) and not had time to write his doom-and-gloom column that appeared this morning.

The thing that Boz, joebleux et al aren't acknowledging in all their carping over parking at the new stadium is that there is a paradigm shift going on. In deciding to locate the stadium where they did, the DC government and MLB made the decision that it would be a downtown Metro-accessible facility rather than a suburban facility surrounded by parking lots or garages. Thus everybody except for the fat cats needs to start planning to use Metro as their final approach to Nationals Park, not their car. Boz states in his column that "more than a third of any baseball crowd simply will not come if they can't drive." What does he base that statement on? Where's his supporting research, his polling data? He might as well say the truth, which is that more than a third of any baseball crowd simply will not come if they're scared away by media conjecture telling them that there's no way to get to the park unless you drive, but if you do drive there won't be anywhere to park. What the media should be saying is "Don't plan to drive unless you're a big-ticket high-roller or an 81-game season ticket holder who doesn't mind paying for the privilege of parking right by the stadium. Otherwise, take Metro to the game." Funny, the Wizards and Capitals seem to have made the successful transition from a parking-oriented facility to a Metro-oriented facility a few years ago. Why aren't Boswell and the other doom-and-gloomers mentioning that, and pointing out that the Nats might have a good chance of doing the same thing? Oh, right. It doesn't fit their scenario.

And joebleux and others who say Metro is a pain, I agree that yes, it can be. You have to learn how to play the Metro system to your advantage. For instance, there's no law that says you can only use the Metro station that's closest to your house or office to start your trip to the stadium. joebleux, if it's taking you 1-1/2 to two hours to get from Springfield to RFK on Metro, try driving to another station that might save you some time. For instance, Pentagon City on the Yellow Line, right up 395 from Springfield. There's a large parking garage right there attached to the shopping mall. Granted, parking there is not free on weekends like it is in Metro's lots, but it's not all that much. Way less than the $15 you'd pay to park at RFK. People in Maryland who complain about Metro taking too long might be able to do the same sort of thing in their neck of the woods, but I wouldn't know 'cause I don't live there.

I guess my point is that Boz and the others are really barking up the wrong tree with all their parking angst. Now if they want to start carping on Metro and how they need to step up their game before next season, then I'm right there with them on that.

Posted by: Section 419 | August 29, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

MLB.com just isn't doing a good job lately. We talked about Bill Landsen's reporting and writting yesterday, but today I saw two glaring errors in the game preview. First they called Shawn Hill a lefty, and then in the player to watch section about Zimmerman was this gem "Without Alfonso Soriano behind him in the lineup, though, his walks have dropped from 61 in 2006 to a total of 41 so far this season."

Uhmmm, wasn't Soriano the lead off guy for all but a handful of games last year, or are they mixing up Nick Johnson and Soriano?

Posted by: estuartj | August 29, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

This may be a little off the topic, but on one of those plays last night that Lopez couldn't make, both Carpenter and Sutton stated that King should have fielded the ball and that was what Lopez expected. This morning I read that King is blaming Lopez! Maybe King is the problem here and should say goodby! I don't like to see one player blame another and I haven't heard anything about Lopez blaming King, even though it seems that is where the blame should go. Maybe if King lost a few pounds he could do his job a little bit better. More to the point here, I hope that Guzman can come back strong and Lopez move back to second, where he seems to do a better job.

Posted by: gilsfan | August 29, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Ah, middle infield...

I'm agreeing with several of you that this is the least, or one of the least, of the team's worries. At least until this road trip, the unexpected middle infield has been fine. In recent tight games, we've seen what tight fielding can do, and FLop has been out of it again this month.

This is the crew we've got, and we're all anxious to see if Guze is 2007 or 2006 in 2008. I don't see any moves being made this off-season with this crew.

And, I think Belly is underrated and has been a key part of this surprise season. He's been SOLID in the field, especially turning two, which has been a pleasant surprise. As Barry admitted, in spring training, he was harping on Belliard actually ever seeing time in the field, and I've been paying attention. FIVE errors all year. How many 2Bs have that few?

Middle infielders who hit .300 or have power are a rarity - Salty Dog hit the nail on the head when citing the Red Sox who still haven't solved their SS problem. Do you think they aren't aware they have a SS problem? Look at the free agent list - do you see anyone much better than what we have?

Shore up the outfield bats and the starting pitching, putting the middle infielders in appropriate spots in the order and we're just fine at SS/2B. Now, let's just hope FLop gets his head together for 2008, and plays up to his abilities. He'll probably benefit in the new park too.

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 29, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

This middle infield is below average defensively and Belliard is the only one who has hit at the level he was expected to. I won't count Guzman's streak this season until he can put up good numbers for an entire year.

With that said however, there's really no realistic alternative other than keeping these three in the roles the FO envisioned at the beginning of the season. Hopefully we can pick up a solid SS out of college in the draft who will be ready quickly like Zim was. I think that is a realistic expectation with a top 10 pick.

Posted by: NoVA Nat | August 29, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know how next season's draft field looks? If the season ended today we would be picking 3rd or 4th...hopefully by the end of the actual season we'll be more like 8th or 9th. Either way we'll have the chance to draft a near term impact player AND won't have to worry about losing our top draft pick if we pick up a top FA.

Posted by: estuartj | August 29, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Felipe's reputation in baseball is to be exactly the type of player he's been for the Nats - a sometimes effective but often distracted player. I don't expect that to change whether he's playing SS or 2B, and it has nothing to do with him not liking DC. You don't win championships with him playing a prominent role. He could play 2B and bat 8th maybe. Kearns has a similar rep although his has more to do with coachability. It's the reason both were jettisoned by the Reds in a seemingly (but in the end not)lopsided deal.

Also considering what most all-star SSs make per year, getting Guzman for $4 million per year was low cost IMHO. At the time he was still considered a strong SS on a pennant contender and had been an all-star at one point. This was not one of the big $8-10 million per year contracts.

Posted by: #4 | August 29, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Middle infield is a problem, but I think Nats FO did the right thing by addressing pitching first. Now that we had such an awesome draft where we signed 20 kids, and the ownership showed that they are NOT penny pinchers, I expect the Nats to go after a Centerfield FA in the offseason, maybe a SP, then go after other position players in the next draft. The following off-season, they can go after middle infield FA's if they see the need, when contracts expire. I think they're taking a good, comprehensive approach, and are addressing the most pressing needs first.

Take the metro next year, its not that bad. I like to have some beers at games, so driving isn't even an option.

Posted by: G-town | August 29, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

The type of columns Boswell wrote today are self-fullfilling prophesy. The team is not covered well by the media here. The Washington Post makes the team share space side by side with the Orioles. Boswell himself refers to the Nats not as OUR team but as one of "our region's" teams. The team has been on TV daily for one season only. Michael Wilbon, who works for THE WASHINGTON Post, stated on ESPN after the Soriano signing that "Nobody cares about the Nats." Boswell is already predicting gloom and doom for the franchise. If you cast a dark cloud on the franchise in media outlets before it gets its foot in the door, it doesn't help the franchise's success.

Once again Boswell produces an article unfavorably comparing the Nats to the Orioles. I live in Northern Virginia and work in Washington -- the Orioles mean as much to me as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays or the Kansas City Royals -- a crappy American League team that I could care less about. Its too bad the Washington media feels differently.

Posted by: Ray | August 29, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Really stupid question, but why not switch Belliard to SS and Lopez to 2B? Do Belliard's defensive numbers tank when he plays SS? If Belliard really is an all-around infielder, wouldn't it make more sense to move him so that Lopez can play his strength?

Lopez's tattoos: SteinBog did a piece on that earlier in the season.

Parking: I guess you can count on me to be among the one-third of the fans who won't go to games if they can't take the Metro. I also like watching a game with beer in hand. My only worry is that the train platforms at the Waterfront and Navy Yard stations are a little NARROWER than the Stadium/Armory one (since the latter was built with stadium traffic in mind).

Posted by: Juan-John | August 29, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm gonna side with G-town on this one. I think the front office understands that the middle infield is an issue to be dealt with, but that it must necessarily fall behind bolstering the minor league pitching rosters.

I expect that the front office will likely make one splashy free agent signing this offseason, whether its our coveted centerfield spot or a frontline pitcher. Because we are still several steps away from contention, there's no need to rush into any ill-conceived deals. Bowden is such an inveterate wheeler-dealer dealmaker type anyway, if there is anything palatable out there, you know he won't hesitate to get involved.

Purchasing middle infield talent on the free agent or trade market is a risky business - the last example where someone did really well on such a deal was when the Angels somehow fleeced the Red Sox out of Orlando Cabrera after the 2004 championship. I've never understood that move by the Sox, as he's continued to be an unbelievable speed/power combo and lineup catalyst at SS for the Angels. That trade aside, there are very few examples where they work out so well. Luis Castillo for the Mets was solid, but is not a long-term fix because he's on the tail end of his career and his speed is on the decline.

Finally, the Metro will be absolutely fine next year. The new stadium is technically even closer to city central and all the main Metro crossovers. As someone pointed out, as an example, for all the Virginia residents and fanbase, the new stadium will be only 4 or 5 stops from Pentagon City (2 to L'Enfant Plaza on Yellow, 2 or 3 - depending on which stop you get off at - to the stadium), an eminently feasible distance. Given that it's only 22 mins by Metro from Springfield to Pentagon City, there's no way your ride will take 2 hours each way next year. Sit back, have a beer or seven at the game, and go home worry-free.

Posted by: faNATic | August 29, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Just read this off the Nationals page on MLB.com -
On the radio: Bonneville International Corporation announced on Tuesday that it will replace Washington Post Radio on 1500 AM, 107.7 FM and 820 AM with a personality-driven station starting Sept. 20.

The Nationals are currently heard on the Bonneville stations and, according to a baseball source, the two parties are in "deep discussions" on trying to have the Nationals on the stations next season. In fact, according to the source, Nationals senior vice president and chief marketing officer Tom Ward is expected to meet with the Bonneville big wigs on Friday to discuss a possible deal.

Posted by: Some Nats fan | August 29, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Of course y'all know the REAL reason Boswell is so hung up on the new stadium parking situation, don't you? It's so that if he's ever sitting in his recliner in Annapolis watching the O's game on MASN, and they mention that Shawn Hill or Jason Bergmann is taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning in the Nats game, he can jump in his car, drive to DC, park right next to the stadium, saunter in right before the end of the game, and if the no-no pans out he can write a column the next day pretending that he was there for the whole thing. Like he almost got to do this year while the Nats were still at RFK.

Which is also why he never mentions Metro. Like as if HE would ever take Metro to the game. As far as he's concerned, the option doesn't even exist, right? So why even talk about it, despite the fact that it's how the vast majority of fans will be coming to the games, no matter how many 800-spot parking lots get opened up by April '08.

Posted by: Section 419 | August 29, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Juan-John and faNATic, both your points about Metro are well taken. Millions of dollars were recently spent to upgrade the Navy Yard station to handle baseball crowds, presumably by widening the platforms or somesuch, yet I've never seen anything by Boswell or anyone else in the Post that gets into the nitty-gritty of how they're doing that. Similarly, Metro has made great strides in its ability to move fans out of the Stadium-Armory station after the games, especially this year. Even after the most highly-attended games I've been able to get out of the park and onto a train much much faster than I could in 2005 or even last season. So obviously Metro is going to have to put together a similar plan for the Navy Yard station next year. No one at the Post ever seems to talk about what Metro is doing in that regard, yet Boswell spends several paragraphs this morning discussing the various options for getting one or two thousand more parking spots open by April, predicting that if it doesn't happen it will be a disaster of biblical proportions - when the truth is that for the large majority of fans it makes absolutely no difference one way or the other.

Posted by: Section 419 | August 29, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

OK, I give up. You're right, no one around here drives. That's why the roads are all empty. And certainly no one would drive to a baseball game. Which is why the parking lots at RFK are always empty, completely unfilled with cars with VA license plates.

So when twice as many people go to the games at the new stadium, they'll just magically arrive in a puff of smoke that will inconvenience no one and require no planning on anyone's part. Gotcha.

Posted by: joebleux | August 29, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Fellow fans, check out this website if you haven't already, great updates on the stadium and even addresses Boz's column directly.

http://www.jdland.com/dc/stadium.cfm?tab=news

Navy Yard metro station is being widened as we speak and will be ready for opening day!

Posted by: G-town | August 29, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Boy, sure is a lot of talk today about the new digs and parking and metro. I think, that while next year may be a bit of a problem, simply because it takes time to figure these things out, it will all be fine in the end. Once the building around the stadium is in place, shops, restaurants, bars, etc., people will not just come for the game, but will arrive earlier to take advantage all that is around the stadium, thus alleviating much of the rush. Some will hit the bars et all after games to frolic a bit before scurrying home. Surely, metro will be open ?? to handle all of this. Not to worry fellow natties...it will all work out in the end.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 29, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Why is it "pretty clear" that Guzman is gone after 2008? His value is going to be low, regardless of where he signs, so why not resign him, cheap?

Posted by: Paul | August 29, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Yes Boswell generally comes off a bit melodramatic but anybody who doesn't think this article exposes real concerns isn't really paying attention. A lot of Northern VA, PG and Montgomery Co. fans drive to the games because the Metro is not feasible. I wish I could take the metro it would make my life a lot easier. So parking is something that will need to be resolved.

Also, I'll agree with the complaint about the amount of coverage Baltimore gets in the Post and extend it to cover the Ravens too. I understand the business side of it, but I don't want to read about the Ravens or the Orioles or hear about them on Washington Post Live. Washington Post Live would be a great show if it focussed solely on Washington sports, but we have to hear about Ogden's big toe and 10 days of Cal to keep that Baltimore media market watching.

Posted by: NoVA Nat | August 29, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Now, to address the middle infield situation, don't rush to judgment. I see no reason Guz can't be 80% of what he was this year before getting injured, and that wouldn't be so bad. FLop at 2b is his rightful place with Belly spelling both at times. I like the idea that NoVaNat came up with in drafting a top of the line SS out of college that might be close to the SHOW...ala Zimm. Why not?

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 29, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Re: Luis Castillo

I think the Mets helped themselves out tremendously with that pickup. Truly one of the best (if not the best) second basemen in the league. Catalyst for offense with high average, great speed (less than before, mind you), contact hitter that puts pressure on the defense -- AND mentor/DP-mate of young Jose Reyes.

Now, if he was in the mix for this off-season, THAT would be a pick-up worth considering, IMO. As it is, next season Guze and FLop will be in decision/trade mode, so we'll deal with it by next July 31, depending on how they play next year.

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 29, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Today's entry in Guess the Line-up;

1. Logan (CF)
2. Batista (2B)
3. Zimmerman (3B)
4. Kearns (RF)
5. Church (LF)
6. Flores (C)
7. Jimenez (SS)
8. Fick (1B)
9. Hill (P)

Hill has to throw a no-no to win today...

Posted by: estuartj | August 29, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

NoVA Nat sez: "A lot of Northern VA, PG and Montgomery Co. fans drive to the games because the Metro is not feasible. I wish I could take the metro it would make my life a lot easier. So parking is something that will need to be resolved."

Anyone in NoVA, PG or Montgomery who is now driving to RFK could just as easily drive to a Metro station with a parking garage and take the train to the game, because there are Metro stations with parking located all over NoVA, PG and Montgomery. Doing that this year while the team is in RFK may not make their lives easier, though, which is why they drive to RFK. But next year, after the team moves to the Navy Yard, if they want to go to the games at all they will need to take Metro. Even in an ideal situation, where as many parking spaces as there possibly could be are made available for the stadium, the vast majority of fans will need to take Metro to the games. Why? Because that is the way the new stadium was conceived by the city and MLB. It's too late to change that now. The parking "problem" that NoVA Nat and others (including Boswell) want resolved will never be resolved, because the decision was made already that Joe Sixpack Nats fan will take Metro to the game. If Joe Sixpack Nats fan wants to drive to the game, Joe Sixpack Nats fan had better either become a luxury-box holder or start sucking up to one. People who are engaged in parking angst about next year really ought to be researching their Metro options. I bet that in most cases they'll be able to come up with something that works for them if they really want to go to the games.

Posted by: Section 419 | August 29, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Regarding parking, I think this will be a minor issue by opening day, and a complete non-issue by June. There is sooooo much space available for parking Southeast of the stadium. All these issue will be worked out, in time, but hell - with what they charge for parking you should be able to park in the bullpen...

Posted by: estuartj | August 29, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I agree with estuartj that the problem will be largely resolved by opening day and parking will not be an issue at all in the long run. I think it is good to keep the fans aware of where it stands though.

419, you overestimate the ease of finding parking at a metro station in the suburbs, especially on weekdays. Also, considering the reliability of the Metro, particularly at rush hour, I don't think your satellite parking solution is realistic.

Posted by: NoVA Nat | August 29, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that on JD's webpage about stadium parking ( http://www.jdland.com/dc/stadium-parking.cfm ) she cites expected demand for parking to be 3,850 spaces for weekday games and 4,900 spaces for weekend games. Yet in his column today, Boswell says "To make everybody happy, you need 8,000 parking spaces." Which one of them is out of touch with reality, JD or Boswell? I'll ponder this question while I'm on the Metro heading to Teddy Bobblehead Night on Saturday...

Posted by: Section 419 | August 29, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

This would serve a dual purpose as you could also drive relievers out to the mound. :-)

---

All these issue will be worked out, in time, but hell - with what they charge for parking you should be able to park in the bullpen...

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 29, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I apologize for my ignorance but who or what is jdland? I just took a quick look at the site as cited above and could not locate an "about me/us" section. Without having that information, I have no idea whether or not that is an authoritative site for ballpark info.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 29, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

The Boz bashing is ridiculous as is the Post bashing. First, on the issue of the Post, I'll be sharing my stats next week, so let's hold on the media fight until then.

BARRY, maybe we can get a separate blog posting just for that fight, so we can talk baseball in the others.

But on to Boz hating the Nats and loving the O's: You have very selective memories. For example, this piece here talking about why the O's suck and the Nats rock

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/18/AR2007061801784.html

Further,

1) His son is an Orioles fan, he is a Nats fan. He has stated this many times. God forbid he pay attention to his son's team too. Should he be more like the anecdote of the Phillies (?) fan someone shared here, who turned to his daughter and told her that her team sucked?

2) He is a national sports columnist. He writes about national sports interests, which INCLUDES, but is not LIMITED TO the Nationals and the Orioles. Does he hate baseball because he also writes about golf?

3) Many of the very same people that hammer Boz for being too negative about the Nats are the same folks who have hammered Barry about being too soft on the Nats. Things are not all smiles in Natsland, folks. There are a lot of smiles and a lot of frowns and reporters and columnists who hit both are GOOD journalists, not biased ones.

4) There IS a parking issue. And Baltimore DOES have better attendance this year. And all those Sox and Yanks fans pay Orioles salaries. Why do you think Boz might be writing about the parking issues? A. Because he wants to create a self-fulfilling prophecy so his devilish scheme of destroying baseball in Washington succeeds and he will have another 30+ years to write columns about why DC would be great for a team or B. Because he wants to see the team succeed and thinks this is something necessary for that and would like to publicly start a debate over what he sees as a crucial issue that will result in real progress for the team?

5) In 2005, Boz wrote an e-mail update nearly every single day about the Nationals and was considered to be an overenthusiastic cheerleader. He was praised much as Barry is now for being the key to success of the Nats move. He finally stopped, because - to paraphrase his words in a chat - he was getting too into it and was not able to keep up with his job writing columns.

The arm-chair editing can be interesting, but when - on the basis of weak facts derived from grand suppositions - it impugns the journalists and paper's "loyalty" to a sports team, it's a little out of hand.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 29, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

natsfan 1a: JD is probably _the_ recognized authority on all the development going on in Near Southeast, which includes the new ballpark. She's all over it, even moreso than Barry Svrluga is all over the Nationals. No opinions from her, either. Just facts, and lots of them. You might want to explore her site sometime just for the photos alone.

506: I'm not one who has _ever_ bashed Barry Svrluga for his Nats coverage, as far as I can remember. He does a great job. His newspaper, though, not so much. I've been reading the Post for over 45 years, and have probably read every column Boswell has ever written in the print edition, except for times I may have been on vacation or such. So even without statistics, I'm very familiar with his and the Post's points of view and whatever biases they may have in their writing. And for whatever reason, their biases have changed with regard to the Nationals over the past three years. It would probably be too harsh to say that the Post or Boswell hates the Nationals, but it's clear that they never miss an opportunity to overplay bad news or negative opinion about the Nats, while usually underplaying or burying anything good they might have to say about the team. They're always objective and unbiased, but when in doubt they'll always slant it negatively rather than positively. That's the truth, even though you could never prove it or disprove it by statistics. You need to read the paper day in and day out to realize it. It's subtle, but it's definitely there.

Posted by: Section 419 | August 29, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

419, you and I have an ancient quarrel on this and we will renew it in September, but I want to point out that I like that you discuss it with me. I think you always make your points well and hope that I can be half as convincing in my positions. Also, you're a critic, but you're not a hater.

The question of the day: I think we stick with this middle infield until we can make some trades for middle infield prospects. Who knows, a hot Guzman might land us something cool next July.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 29, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Sect. 419, that's helpful info. I will delve more deeply into the site.

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natsfan 1a: JD is probably _the_ recognized authority on all the development going on in Near Southeast, which includes the new ballpark. She's all over it, even moreso than Barry Svrluga is all over the Nationals. No opinions from her, either. Just facts, and lots of them. You might want to explore her site sometime just for the photos alone.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 29, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I've seen nothing from the Lerners/Kasten/Bowden leadership that suggests that they don't get it. I think they know where the weaknesses on the team are, where the weaknesses in the farm system are, and even where the weaknesses in the customer experience are. I do think the Lerner's could have invested more in the fan experience this year, but you can imagine them weighing the investment in this year vs. next and deciding that next year was better. (We'll know better a year from now on that one.) I think DC government and others involved in the parking resolution have accepted excuses for too long and are immersed in a culture of inaction. They are not capable of solving the parking problem because they all accept defeat. Pay no attention to the 800 pound gorilla in the room. "Boy that's going to be a problem, isn't it. What do they expect me to do about it?"

Someone has to be accountable and with Mayor Williams out of office, no one is left who is invested in making this a success.

Yes there are alot of other players involved, but who's leading? Bosewell? I love Boz, but all he can do is point to the Gorilla and say "Look its a Gorilla."

Posted by: NatBisquit | August 29, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I live and work in the Vienna area. Here's how much it would cost me, my wife and my daughter to take Metro:

Parking: $3.75 (if I can find a spot at Vienna)
One-Way Rush Hour ticket (to the stadium): $3.90 x 2 = $7.80
One-Way Non-Rush ticket (from the stadium): $2.35 x 2 = $4.70

Total: $16.25

Plus, it will take "45 minutes" travel time on the Metro (this doesn't include the wait time for the trains and the transfer time at L'Enfent).

Standing most of the way, dealing with lots of people and do we really think Metro will be able to expand/improve the Navy Yard station in time? They can't get escalators to work or stop fires of unknown origin from shutting down stations.

No thanks, I'll drive and find a parking garage somewhere.

BTW ... regarding the O's attendance this season. The O's have had 11 home games versus the Sox and Yanks so far. Average attendance: 42,605.

The O's have had 53 home games versus the rest of the league. Average attendance so far: 24,031

I'm just sayin' ...

Posted by: e | August 29, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Robert Fick with the RBI single. Maybe Hill doesn't need a no-no to win.

Posted by: estuartj | August 29, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Love the 800 lb gorilla...replace screech with him.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 29, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Jesus Saves! Back to back RBI singles from the bottom of the order, and then a nice sac bunt by Hill and 2 RBI single by Nook.

Did they have a players only meeting this morning and have someone line DaMeat remind them how long a flight home and day off tomorrow would be with a 6 game losing streak?

Posted by: estuartj | August 29, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Yo all! New thread, with lineups!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 29, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Joebleux -- taking Metro to the games (for me it is from Dunn Loring) is about a 1 1/2 to 2 hour nightmare each way. Driving is only about a half hour to 45 minutes each way on weekends. I also prefer the parking option.

Posted by: nats fan in annandale | August 29, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

For weekend games there is no charge for Metro parking.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 29, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Chiming in a dollar short and a day late . . .

The stuff jdland's excellent web site exposes adds up to BIG transportation problems for fans next year and thereafter. One measly subway stop and virtually no nearby parking for non-season-ticket holders. If the Lerners and the city really believe that tens of thousands of fans will choose unreliable, crowded smelly Metro, they're dreaming. Had anyone in the Lerner entourage actually ridden on the subway prior to 2007? I doubt it.

This blog of Barry's attracts the dedicated Nats fanatics, whose financial contributions together won't pay the rent for one of the classy new boxes that are available for fat cats. Therefore, any comments we all make about our own plans are not worth much. My thoughts are with the millions of potential fans who may have an interest in seeing a major league baseball game or two, but are not willing to undergo torture to see one. For many of these fans, simply entering the District of Columbia is a bridge too far.)

On another topic, the new "development" going on in near southeast reminds me of the "new Southwest" of 40 years ago led by the architect Cloethiel Woodard Smith. The redevelopment razed houses of thousands of low-income blacks who then moved north into the Shaw neighborhood, which could not handle the influx, in favor of high rises along the Potomac and low rises around Arena Stage. No decent grocery stores, no amenities, no playgrounds or other recreational facilities, just architected housing for childless urban types. Ugh. We ended up in Adams-Morgan, which at least offered a semblance of neighborhood (prior to the 1968 riots, that is).

Posted by: JohnR (VA) | August 30, 2007 8:18 AM | Report abuse

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