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How the Snakes were built

For those of you sick of seeing Fick, Rejoice!

Washington:
Lopez -- 6
Logan -- 8
Zimmerman -- 5
Kearns -- 9
Church -- 7
Belliard -- 4
Batista -- 3
Flores -- 2
Bacsik -- 1

Arizona:
Young -- 8 (23 years old, traded from Chicago White Sox with Orlando Hernandez in Javier Vazquez deal, Dec. 2005)
Hudson -- 4 (29, traded from Toronto in Troy Glaus deal, Dec. 2005)
Byrnes -- 7 (31, signed as free agent after 2005 season)
Jackson -- 3 (25, 1st round, 2003)
Upton -- 9 (19, 1st overall pick, 2005)
Reynolds -- 5 (24, 16th round, 2004)
Snyder -- 2 (26, 2nd round, 2002)
Drew -- 6 (24, 1st round, 2004)
Owings -- 1 (24, 3rd round, 2005)

Take a look at that Diamondbacks lineup for a minute. The ages are instructive, I think. This team was built almost exclusively through its own farm system, though with a few trades (some good, some not-so good) thrown in. The trade for Randy Johnson obviously hasn't worked out, for instance.

But would it be OK with you if your Nationals looked something like that? Well, maybe they will. Each of those players you see drafted by the Diamondbacks came under the scouting supervision of then-Arizona scouting director Mike Rizzo. Where does Rizzo work now? That would be Washington. Oh, and Brandon Webb, who you may have seen pitch last night, was taken in the eighth round of the 2000 draft, Rizzo's first as director of scouting in Arizona.

This is all happening a bit fast for the Diamondbacks, who have more good position players on the way and really expected to be good in 2008 and 2009. But the lineup is instructive, I think: It's not all first-round picks, but it's made up mostly of the team's own players, and filled in with a couple of good trades for solid young players (Young, Hudson). The ages are ridiculously low on average, and even though they signed Byrnes for three more years, there's reason to believe they'll be relatively young/in their prime for years to come.

Ponder that. Do you think it's headed that way in Washington, or has the failure to make trade deadline deals hampered progress?

By Barry Svrluga  |  August 12, 2007; 1:36 PM ET
 
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Next: Questions for an off day

Comments

Barry - quick question on Bowden's comments regarding Hill. His comments make it seem as though he's making all the decisions, without input from Manny, at least on whether or not Hill starts Tuesday. Is that true and what is the nature of their relationship? Is he consulting with Manny on this?

Posted by: Sec 417 | August 12, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

The roots of the Snakes' current and future success are well expounded in Barry's report: young guys now, young guys on the way. That is indeed where the Nats need to head to be NL East contenders.

So the question before us is whether the Nats were nuts to offer deals to da Meat and Bells.

If we're to inform our answer with a comparison to Arizona, we must ask whether the D-Backs would have arrived where they are today without the transitional and mentoring contributions of players like Luis Gonzalez, Craig Counsell, and (yes) Royce Clayton?

Of course, they certainly *could* have built without those guys. Would the chances have been slimmer? Depends on what would have been lost without the veterans on board, and that would've likely been a considerable amount.

You can always go the Florida Marlins' way, of course: stuff your team with winners one year, get 'em all rings and have a fire sale the next year. That approach, praised by Baseball Prospectus amongst other learned sources, may have earned the Marlins fleeting glory but has done little either to provide for the future of the team as a contender or to bolster its chances for survival in South Florida. (We shall presently see what the Marlins' present youth movement avails.)

On balance, I'm drawn to the D-Back Way. Now let's crush 'em this afternoon.

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Barry asks: "... has the failure to make trade deadline deals hampered progress?"

... the answer implied in the question would seem to be "yes", but if that is what Barry is driving at, I think he's wrong ... or at least focusing too narrowly on the trade deadline.

... just because the Nats didn't make any trades on or before July 31 does not mean they cannot be as trade-active as the D'backs were. It doesn't have to happen at the time when everyone is expecting a bunch of rash deals. As GM, Jim is not tied to a specific time. It is quite possible, even likely, the off-season will see a lot of trade-action for the Nats.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 12, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Bowden-Acta: They met for quite some time before Bowden made/announced the decision on Hill. But in the simplest sense, it's Bowden's job to provide Acta with 25 players and Acta's job to use the 25 players. Manny has opinions and lots of input and they talk all the time about this stuff, but it's Bowden who's talking more directly to the minor league people who saw Hill's outing(s) and then relaying that info to Acta.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | August 12, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I thought that Bowden made the decision on the team bus after the game?

Anyways, we know you know this but you said:
It's not all first-round picks, but it's made up mostly of the team's own players, and filled in with a couple of good trades for solid young players (Young, Upton). When you mentioned before Upton was infact the first overall pick of 2005.

My question is this, why go half-way? I think the team should either be terrible enough to get that 1st round pick, or be good enough to win the world series. What do you get when your stuck inbetween???

Posted by: Andrew Stebbins | August 12, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Barry asks: "... has the failure to make trade deadline deals hampered progress?"

And I ask, "What were we offered?"

Why does everyone assume that we were offered value for the players other teams wanted? Why would the team make trades where they got the inferior or inferiorly-projected players?

Posted by: Paul | August 12, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I was guiltier than most about decrying that the farm system was not improved. However, Dmitri might have brought one 2nd tier prospect, but Belliard would have brought the equivalent of Shairon Martis. He may be good for us (we got him for Mike Stanton), but not for a while. So, more has to be done than just those two moves.

Chad Cordero is the one who could have brought real prospects, but it does sound like value wasn't offered. I am disappointed, but the only trade that didn't happen that confuses me is one for Dmitri.

Posted by: Kevin | August 12, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

... Barry's insight and investigation notwithstanding, the most relevant comment on the building of the Nats in comparison to that of Arizona was made by Hendo:

"... we must ask whether the D-Backs would have arrived where they are today without the transitional and mentoring contributions of players like Luis Gonzalez, Craig Counsell, and (yes) Royce Clayton?"

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 12, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

And one more thing, this Diamondback team, statistically, isn't much better than the Nationals, especially offensively.

I'd much rather fashion a "blueprint" for success from a team that actually good.

Posted by: Paul | August 12, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Give us Brandon Webb, Torii Hunter, and Guzzie healthy all year, and I'll take my chances.

Posted by: cevans | August 12, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Ring. Just one. That would be my dad in Phoenix. 5-0. C'mon, Bacsic, throw me a bone here, please.

Posted by: cevans | August 12, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I'd much rather fashion a "blueprint" for success from a team that actually good. - Paul

Thats why they are in 1st place, and have a 3 1/2 game lead, right? ;)

Posted by: Andrew Stebbins | August 12, 2007 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a brand new ballgame.

("Boo-birds" in Phoenix, Charlie Slowes? I didn't think it was good manners to boo on the World's Largest Elevator.)

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Way to go Churchie. Tie ball game, 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth with Rauch on the mound.

Posted by: Viva Livan | August 12, 2007 7:10 PM | Report abuse

JESUS AND CHURCH ON SUNDAY!!!

Posted by: Greg | August 12, 2007 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Jesus! Way to be clutch!

Posted by: Atlanta | August 12, 2007 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Memo to Jon Rauch:

... the bottom of the eighth is the most important half inning in baseball. Please print this and nail it above your club house stall as a constant reminder.

(And oh yeah. Make sure you buy a couple of beers for Jesus F. after the game.)

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 12, 2007 7:21 PM | Report abuse

If even for a day, I am glad to have a nice meal of crow after Mr. Fick tripled and scored. Feel free to keep it up, and I won't bring up Larry Broadway again.

Posted by: Kevin | August 12, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

In the spirit of Greg, praying for the Chief...

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Just another chance accepted by Zimm. (Dude.)

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 7:34 PM | Report abuse


They came to Arizona, after splitting in Frisco. In danger of getting swept, they just said no. Trailing by 1 after inning #8, the Rule 5 guy pounded the 0-2 bait. So, they left the west finishing 3 & 4, heading home and looking for more. So fans, welcome them back to RFK, and a winning homestand in every way. GO NATS...STAY HOT

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 12, 2007 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Isn't that a nice one to come home on?

Jesus Flores is the new Zimm (happily, Zimm is still as Zimm as ever):

Nattily-battily
Jesus M. Flores con-
tributes a key hit, de-
livering with power.

Nationals' Rule 5 pick
Rookie-precociously
Steps up to show how his
Talent can flower.

Oh you Nats!

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 7:44 PM | Report abuse

For those of you who are sick of seeing Fick, howzabout that triple?

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 12, 2007 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Lovely, Hendo. I especially liked the Flores/flowering connection.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 12, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Why, thank you, natsfan1a.

And I sure wish I could've seen Fick run out that triple. Hope it'll be on the video highlights at nationals.com.

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Hendo, me, too, re. the triple. Sounded good on the radio! ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 12, 2007 8:10 PM | Report abuse

And a salute to Billy Traber, who's off to Columbus with Hill's return to the rotation.

Say what you will, but Billy T stepped up when called on, whenever and wherever the call. Here's wishing him the best of luck -- and betting that we haven't seen the last of him.

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Wowsers! I shrug off watching one game to go to my book club and look what I miss. (And Nats were down 5-0 when I last checked so I didn't think I was missing much.) Stupid non-baseball pastimes! Stupid books!

Go Nats!!

Posted by: JennX | August 12, 2007 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Well, what was the book, JennX?

It had better have been pretty good to cause us to miss your commentary on the game. (Which you are still heartily welcome to offer.)

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Hope it was a good book, JennX! It was a heck of a game...

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 12, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse

As glad as I was to see the Nats pull this one out, all I can think of is how we could've led the game much earlier if Manny hadn't of chosen to have Brian Schneider bat with the bases loaded and one out. I literally shouted "Noooooo...." when I saw him come to the plate because I knew we were doomed. He swings at the *first* pitch he sees and bounces right into a double play. That was a poor, indefensible decision on Manny's part given that Schneider is not a good hitter and hits into a lot of double plays. Dimitri was available to pinch hit. Why not use him in such a key spot? I'd certainly rather have him than Schneider. Which makes me wonder what happens to the team next season. Flores is a decent catcher who is pretty good with the bat, certainly better than Schneider. He too good to sit on the bench and only play to give the regular catcher a day off here and there if you ask me.

Anthony


Anthony

Posted by: Anthony D. Langford | August 12, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Hendo- Did someone announce Traber was going, or are you making an educated guess?

Posted by: Kevin | August 12, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Kevin: Charlie Slowes announced Traber's demotion at the end of the postgame show.

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 8:37 PM | Report abuse

The book was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Good, but very depressing. Made for interesting discussion, though. Honestly, it's probably a good thing I saw the makings of a blowout when I checked the score or I would have been restless and far less participatory. :)

Herndo, you are very nice to encourage my commentary. That reminds me... I need to look up who Suzyn Waldman is...

Posted by: JennX | August 12, 2007 8:39 PM | Report abuse

JennX: I read "All the Pretty Horses" ten years or so ago, and enjoyed McCarthy's lyrical style. Haven't read "The Road," but it sounds as if I should.

And -- this applies to all baseball-broadcast aficionados --do look up Suzyn Waldman. Better yet, try to make time to listen to a Yankees broadcast on WCBS. (And try not to be depressed by John Sterling's play-by-play. He sounds as if maybe he's reading a book in there sometimes between pitches.)

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

natsfan1c has read just about all of McCarthy's books, I think, and liked them. I haven't delved into them yet myself.

---

The book was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Good, but very depressing. Made for interesting discussion, though. Honestly, it's probably a good thing I saw the makings of a blowout when I checked the score or I would have been restless and far less participatory. :)

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 12, 2007 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Figures Fick scored the winning run on a triple.

Posted by: Andrew Stebbins | August 12, 2007 9:15 PM | Report abuse

I missed the "bases loaded one out" sequence Anthony mentioned at I went to the pool aftr 4th with the score 5-0 (got back to see Flores HR, Flick triple etc. I will say that Schneide is one of the main compontents of our pitchers' sucess this season. He is a leader on the field and in the clubhouse. The rest of you have seem him get bases clearing doubles a lot the last three years despite his B.A. Flores appears to have a future with this team but he is at least two seasons away from being full time.

Posted by: Sec 417 Row 8 Seat 9 | August 12, 2007 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't Waldman one of the first (if not the first) women in the field, as well?

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 12, 2007 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps he deserves his own double-dactyl (that's easy for me to say...)?

---

Figures Fick scored the winning run on a triple.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 12, 2007 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Now batting, [RF]
The rejoicers are restless
A triple -- rejoice!

Posted by: haiku woman | August 12, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

>>sick of seeing Fick<<

Take that back!

Posted by: amb141 | August 12, 2007 9:26 PM | Report abuse

As far as I can tell, Waldman is the first woman to have got the nod for a full season color-commentary job in a major market. Betty Caywood did some work for the KC A's in the 60's, but doesn't seem to have lasted long.

Rob Fick does need some poetic love, huh? (I so do not want to be around when he reads that. Hope I get the chance to celebrate him in dactylic verse before the end of the season, though.)

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Hendo said: "And -- this applies to all baseball-broadcast aficionados --do look up Suzyn Waldman. Better yet, try to make time to listen to a Yankees broadcast on WCBS. (And try not to be depressed by John Sterling's play-by-play. He sounds as if maybe he's reading a book in there sometimes between pitches.)"

You can't be serious. Listening Waldman is worse than sticking a screwdriver in your ear. And believe me, I've tried both. Listening to Waldman is more painful. Even New Yorkers will tell you she's the worst baseball analyst in the history of baseball analysts. Oddly enough, she's more listenable than John Sterling. Makes me thankful for Chuck Slowes and Dave Jagagagalearear (or however you spell his name).

Posted by: The Nationals Enquirer | August 12, 2007 9:34 PM | Report abuse

And, re Fick, haiku woman did a better job than I ever could. Way to go with the three-bagger, Rob!

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 9:37 PM | Report abuse

In the quest for something "lighter" after The Road, I just, finally, picked Barry's book up off my bookshelf where it's been sitting since I purchased it in May. Already up to reading about Walter Johnson and well on my way to becoming a more educated Nats fan. :)

Re: Suzyn Waldman, I read her entry on Wikipedia. Sounds like a real pioneer! I have to say that, even without having heard her announce, I bristle at the section discussing the polls that show her to be the most disliked announcer. I think it is very difficult for women to be perceived as credible sports announcers. I've heard criticism frequently from male friends while watching sporting events and any female commentator comes on-- "Oh, she's the WORST. She's so lame. She's such a ditz." Etc. I've never heard them say they liked any woman in sports broadcasting. Anyway. Just my anecdotal observation. I'm glad to hear that you like Suzyn Waldman, Herndo!

Posted by: JennX | August 12, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals Enquirer evidently does not enjoy Northeastern -- i.e., Boston / New York -- accents. Which can be grating to the unaccustomed ear, I grant.

That said, a lot of Waldman's enemies are Mets fans.

Also, NatsEnq, unless you're a local, you might not be wanting to coming down thisaway to hear Maryland (Muurln) accents. If those don't suit you, you'll be clamoring for Waldman et al.

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Hendo, but I'm still looking forward to reading some poetic Fick-love (yeesh!).

---

And, re Fick, haiku woman did a better job than I ever could. Way to go with the three-bagger, Rob!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 12, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you, ambl41!

---

Take that back!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 12, 2007 9:45 PM | Report abuse

JennX (et al.), after you finish Barry's book -- may its tribe increase! -- you might want to pick up "Beyond the Shadow of the Senators," by Brad Snyder, if you haven't already.

Good baseball books are about more than baseball, and Snyder's book is that.

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

My perception is similar to yours re. the challenges confronting female sports broadcasters, JennX. Speaking of baseball books and women, I really enjoyed the anthology "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend: Women Writers on Baseball," edited by Elinor Nauen (so much so that I bought my own copy).

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 12, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

So, Traber is sent down and Basick goes to the bullpen. Two wise choices. The only thing Traber had going for him was his good looks because his pitching left much to be desired. And Basick seemed to easily accept his fate. Possibly he realizes that he's lucky he lasted as long as he did. He even had a moment in the sun along the way. Strange how it all came about in one week.

Anthony

Posted by: Anthony D. Langford | August 12, 2007 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Hendo: actually, I grew up with one of those Northeastern accents. Rhode Island, in fact, which is like the hellchild of a Bostonian and a New Yorker.

My opinion (and that's all it is) about Waldman isn't about her accent or gender, it's simply about her ability as an analyst. Actually, who am I trying to fool? - it's all about the sound of her voice, which is not unlike the sound of a thousand cats in heat.

But let's leave all that behind - I'm intrigued by this decision to send keep Chico up and send Traber down. Were they that worried about messing with Chico's head? Something hasn't seemed right with the kid in weeks - maybe a trip to the minors to take the pressure off would've been just what the doctor ordered - then call him back up in September? And that's not to take anything away from what Chico accomplished this season. He shouldn't have been up in the majors to begin with.

Posted by: The Nationals Enquirer | August 12, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty pleased with the prospect of Bascik as a spot starter and long reliever.

And even more pleased that his rubber arm will be saving some of our younger, less-developed ones.

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

NatsEnq: I'm with you re accents. The meld of West Virginia and Maryland that warbles from my throat would probably disqualify me from even a job as a rookie-ball stadium announcer.

For some reason, though, Waldman's tone and cadence appeal to me. Perhaps if I listened to her for 162 games a year, I'd feel differently, but I think she has both the voice and the chops. And not just in comparison to Sterling.

Maybe if I heard her call a string of Nats games, I'd feel differently. Since we have Slowes and Jageler, that's not gonna happen, so all I can do in that regard is speculate.

Posted by: Hendo | August 12, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

On books, a couple of months back someone suggested reading Veeck as in Wreck, Bill Veeck's autobiography, so I picked it up - thoroughly enjoyable, funnier stuff than I have read in a long time, and certainly shows a man who truly loves baseball. I strongly recommend it, and thanks so much to whoever recommended it a while ago.

Posted by: Traveler | August 12, 2007 10:36 PM | Report abuse

JennX, always enjoy your comments. And I'm a Waldman and Sterling fan all in all, despite Sterling's obnoxious THHHEEEE YAAANKEEES WIN!!! call. They are fair, analyzing good and bad plays by both teams. And Sterling's tone of shock, hurt and disbelief when the beloved Yanks are being beaten by some team that should be beneath them is really enjoyable. Love my XM radio for baseball.

Posted by: Geezer | August 12, 2007 10:58 PM | Report abuse


Traveler, I believe that it was Sect. 502. I picked up the book based on that recommendation as well and am also enjoying it.

---

On books, a couple of months back someone suggested reading Veeck as in Wreck, Bill Veeck's autobiography, so I picked it up - thoroughly enjoyable, funnier stuff than I have read in a long time, and certainly shows a man who truly loves baseball. I strongly recommend it, and thanks so much to whoever recommended it a while ago.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 13, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

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