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The 2007 Nationals Journal Awards Show

Brought to you by Poulan Weed-Eater, hosted by Gallagher. (Black-tie optional, please.)

So the Nationals finished at 73-89. Eight teams had worse records. So I'd like to start by welcoming, in the front row, the man who put together this team, Jim Bowden, and the man who held it together, Manny Acta. Gentlemen, if you'll please stand up - and cover your tuxedos with plastic, lest any watermelon come your way.


With that, I'd like to get directly to the awards portions of our show, because I know everyone is interested in getting over to the Tune Inn for drinks and dinner (grilled cheese and some Son Volt in the jukebox on me) afterward.

A bit about how the awards were determined: The Journal staff and I - and my heartiest thanks to them - met this morning in my Philadelphia hotel room to go over some things. Later on, we looked at the comments from my post of yesterday morning, getting a feel for Planet NJ's thoughts. We went through reams of data compiled by the Journal staff - man, are they looking forward to the offseason - and came up with the following. (We reserve the right to make a change, thus stripping someone of an award, if one of you all makes a better argument.)

Game of the Year:
There is, of course, lots of sentiment for Sept. 23, the final baseball game at RFK, and I will definitely take away from that the image of Frank Howard walking out to third base with Ryan Zimmerman. A fine, fine moment. I think the first win of the year - Dmitri Young's would-be sacrifice fly that fell for a single - was pretty nice, as was the July 4 victory over the Cubs, a 6-0 win in which Young hit a grand slam and Matt Chico pitched shutout ball for seven innings.

But I'm going to go with the May 12 (or actually May 13) marathon against Florida. Two rain delays. An ending at 1:42 a.m. on Mother's Day - a Sunday morning. You'll remember it because Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off grand slam in front of, oh, maybe 500 people?

But think about what went into that inning. The Nationals were down 3-2 headed into the bottom of the ninth against Florida's Taylor Tankersley. Brian Schneider walked, and with one out, Dmitri Young singled and pinch-runner Nook Logan ended up on third. Jesus Flores pinch hit, and walked on four pitches, loading the bases. And, of all people, Felipe Lopez hit a bases-loaded single to tie the score. (Was that his last RBI? I don't remember.) Only after Cristian Guzman struck out did Zimmerman come to the plate, drilling a 1-0 pitch from Jorge Julio out for a grand slam.

Seems like we learned something about the Nationals that night. It was after 1 a.m. They were already down. They had a day game the following afternoon. Yet they came back, extended the game - and won.

Play of the Year:
Lots of support for Ronnie Belliard's behind-the-back flip to Felipe Lopez at second, one I've seen on several highlight reels already. It's absolutely deserving of consideration. A lot of discussion about the double play Ryan Zimmerman started in New York last week, one where he flipped it as he fell into foul territory. I think that gets mentioned more because it's fresher, but I actually think it's maybe the fourth- or fifth-best play Zimmerman made this year.

But I'll go with a play on May 25, in St. Louis against the Cardinals. Nationals lead 5-2 in the sixth with runners on first and second against reliever Winston Abreu. Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds, a left-handed batter, pulled a line drive to right field. "He hits his ball with such a tail on it," Nationals right fielder Austin Kearns told me later. Scott Rolen, running from first, saw where the ball was hit and thought he might score all the way from first. He rounded second.

"I'm going after it like I have a play on it," Kearns said that night. "I wasn't going after it to play it off the wall."

Here's what I wrote at the time:

As he reached the warning track, Kearns dove, hurtling himself toward an unknown outcome - not to mention risking injury. But he snared the ball as he skidded to the ground, eventually sliding into the base of the wall, a play destined for year-end videos. That Kearns hopped up and threw the ball back in to double Rolen off first ensured the Nationals escaped without further damage.
"Totally saved the game," Acta said.

That became the Nationals' 11th win in 15 games since May 11. (Aside: In an awards presentation before the televised portion of the program, Gallagher presented May 11 with the award for "Nationals Date on the Calendar of the Year.) Kearns, in general, impressed me with his willingness to run into a wall and be completely unaffected by it the next time he needed to, well, run into a wall.

Disappointment of the Year
All winter, we were told that the Nationals were seeking four pitchers for their rotation. They already had John Patterson, and they needed people to fill in behind him. Patterson, in spring training, talked about how he wanted to lead the staff, how if he threw 30 starts and 200 innings, "everything would fall into place."

Unfortunately, injuries prevented Patterson from allowing everything to fall into place. For the second straight year, he had nerve problems in his right arm. He started on Opening Day, his velocity was down, he was crushed by the Marlins - and it never really got better.

His final stats: 7 G, 1-5, 7.47 ERA, 31-1/3 IP, 39 H, 22 BB, 15 K
His stats the last two years: 15 G, 2-7, 5.75 ERA, 72 IP, 75 H, 31 BB, 57 K

The organization believes that a healthy Patterson could be a key contributor. They do, now, wonder if he'll ever be healthy.

Honorable mention: Nick Johnson by spring training. Nick Johnson by Opening Day. Nick Johnson by June. Nick Johnson by the all-star break. Nick Johnson ... when?

Pleasant Development of the Year:
Ronnie Belliard, signed for $850,000, proved to be a steal - and is now part of the future, whether he's a utility guy or the starting second baseman. Really impressed by his defense, particularly his ability to turn the double play, but hitting .290 with 35 doubles in 511 at-bats isn't bad, either.

Dmitri Young, obviously, exceeded everyone's expectations, finishing at .320 with 13 homers, 38 doubles and 74 RBI in 464 at-bats. Got him a two-year contract worth $10 million.

Jesus Flores: Who saw this coming? The catcher of the future might already be here. (Although, for the record, Bowden said Sunday, "Brian's our catcher.")

But I'm going to take a leap here and trust some of the people around the club - as well as those around baseball. If we're to trust that the Nationals are building this through player development and scouting, then the Journal staff and I believe their most significant strides were made in those two areas. This then becomes a broad award - Bob Boone, Bobby Williams, Spin Williams, Mike Rizzo, Dana Brown and others can all partake.

To review: They got three left-handed pitchers they believe are of first-round quality. They selected a hitter, Michael Burgess, about whom Bowden's eyes bug out. They watched a pitcher (John Lannan) start the year in Class A and end up in the majors. They watched an injury-proned guy (Justin Maxwell) have a breakout year and then impress at the major league level. They had a first-round pick from last year (Chris Marrero) absolutely rip through the South Atlantic League and move up to high-Class A Potomac. And they had a pitching staff at short-season Class A Vermont - Colton Willems, Glenn Gibson, Jordan Zimmermann, Adrian Alaniz, Hassan Pena and others - look completely dominant at times. Very promising.

Pitcher of the Year:
Shawn Hill showed my favorite pitch (you know who you are) on the Nationals' staff, but he didn't pitch enough to earn this award. Matt Chico gets points for being thrown into situations for which he was scarcely ready and never flinching. Chad Cordero saved 37 games for a team that won 73 - more than one in every two victories - and had a 3.36 ERA.

But over the past two seasons, no one has thrown in more major league games than Jon Rauch. He led the Nationals in wins with eight (as much a result of circumstance as anything), but he came in a career-high 88 times - an average of more than once every other game - cut down on his homers (13 in '06, 7 in '07), cut down on his walks (36 in 91-1/3 innings last year, 21 in 87-1/3 innings this year), posted a 3.61 ERA - and got some very, very large outs.

He's not the most over-powering guy, especially for someone who's 6-foot-11. But as one scout told me this year, "He could always pitch for me because of the way he pounds the strike zone." That likely makes him trade bait in the offseason, too. But the NJ staff says congrats on a heck of a year.

Player of the Year
Dmitri gets so much credit because of where he came from. I told him the other day that he had my favorite T-shirt in the clubhouse, a gray shirt that on the back says, "Field 5." That's where his season started - Field 5 of the Nationals' minor league complex in Viera, working with the minor leaguers and salvaging his career. His numbers (as mentioned above) were excellent, well above his career average of .292. And he tried to become a better first baseman, though whether he actually did is subject to some debate.

But as one person pointed out to me late in the year, Young was frequently taken out of games after the seventh inning. He missed two weeks at the end of the year after being hit in the head by that Mark Teixeira grounder. We here at the Journal had a lively debate about this, but here we go: Our 2007 Player of the Year is Ryan Zimmerman.

Zimmerman's average fell from .287 in 2006 to .266 this season. His OBP fell from .351 to .330. He had 110 RBI in 2006, 91 this year. And he definitely gave away lots of at-bats by swinging at pitches out of the zone - particularly nasty sliders. Look what happened when he laid off those pitches the last week: He drew walks.

All that sounds like a case not to give him the award (which will be delivered to his Arlington house only after it's engraved). But consider that he hit third in every single game this year. He joined Jimmy Rollins and Jeff Francouer as the only major leaguers to play in all 162 games. Only those two and San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez played more innings.

And consider his defense. "Phenomenal," Manny Acta said. I definitely thought he had the yips a couple times, and his throwing must be more consistent. But I seriously might sit down over the winter and try to figure out how to quantify how many plays he made that an average third baseman simply wouldn't make. The number is going to be astounding.

Also, there's this: He led the Nationals with 24 homers. He hit five triples and 43 doubles. And there's that ability to hit in the clutch with three more walk-off hits this season.

So there you have it. Thanks for joining us. Gallagher will be available for autographs and photos in the lobby for the next 30 minutes. I'll get you news during the day - and get you a more superfluous version of the awards show - Quote of the Year, Weird Stat of the Year, etc. - in the next few days.

Have a safe drive home.

By Barry Svrluga  |  October 1, 2007; 6:39 AM ET
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Next: No news on coaches


Some good choices and well-reasoned arguments with which I generally agree. But I'd like to suggest that neither John Patterson nor Nick Johnson (yes, I know I put him forward yesterday for this honor) really deserves the disappointment of the year award, given that both were felled by injuries. The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that you'd select Felipe Lopez as the disappointment of the year. Playing virtually every day, Lopez didn't hit well, didn't play defense particularly well, and generally just didn't hustle the way he should have. That, to me, was ultimately much more disappointing than the injuries suffered by Patterson and Johnson.

Posted by: Bratislava, Slovakia | October 1, 2007 7:59 AM | Report abuse

I would like to remind everyone of the great Reverse Lock of Levale Speigner beating Johann Santana.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | October 1, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

First, one more round of thank yous to Barry and the entire NJ staff.

On awards, good cases presented for each selection. The choice for Most Pleasant Suprise (MPS) was a pleasant suprise. I definately agree that at this stage the front office/player development team deserves high praise. If just half the top players develop in the next 2-4 years it will prove to be a legendary accomplishment.

Zimmerman is certainly qualified for MVP, but I still like D-Young bsaed on his accomplishments on and off the field. Now comes what might be the hardest part for him - the offseason.

Looking forward to hearing about the coaches. Am I hearing correctly that Tolman and Morales might flip?

Posted by: NatBisquit | October 1, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Ok, the Nationals held the famous record of 9-25 on: the evening of May 9th, the day of May 10th, and the morning of May 11th.

Some have pointed to May 9th as that date, but I suppose (the morning of) May 11th is somewhat accurate as well.

Posted by: May 9th | October 1, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Most Predictable Complaint in NJ Comments: This award goes to jpsfanandproudofit inevitably responding to "Disappointment of the Year"

Posted by: One More Award | October 1, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

my favorite game was the 4th of July.....

Posted by: theraph | October 1, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

We were BROOKLYN Dodger fans and then Washington Senators (twice). You and the Nats have restored our faith in baseball. Thanks for a great season. And "wait 'til next year." (How many days until spring training starts?)

Posted by: Paul and Marilyn Bethesda | October 1, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Interesting and well reasoned, as usual. Hard to argue with any of it, although the debate is what makes baseball so wonderful. On these cool nites,you can almost feel the hot stove starting to warm up.

I'd say Patterson/Johnson were the most disappointing "situation," but the most disappointing player had to be Felipe Lopez. Totally disappeared, and his attitude didn't help him.

Rauch is an interesting choice for Pitcher of the Year. Maybe I'm crazy, but instead of trading him in the off-season, I'd make him the closer. He has the gunslinger look and demeanor of a closer, and as Barry says, he pounds the strike zone. If Chad remains the closer, I predict he breaks our hearts one day in a big, big game.

Posted by: Vandy | October 1, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Rauch is an interesting choice for Pitcher of the Year. Maybe I'm crazy, but instead of trading him in the off-season, I'd make him the closer. He has the gunslinger look and demeanor of a closer, and as Barry says, he pounds the strike zone. If Chad remains the closer, I predict he breaks our hearts one day in a big, big game.

Posted by: Vandy | October 1, 2007 09:34 AM

Posted by: NatsNut | October 1, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

"If Chad remains the closer, I predict he breaks our hearts one day in a big, big game"

Every closer does that. Regardless of talent-level.

Posted by: Brian | October 1, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Bratislava that John Patterson and Nick Johnson don't deserve the "disappointment" award. Hang in there, guys. Make it back next year.

And thank you Barry and the NJ gang for greatly enriching the season. So glad this will continue over the dreary winter. Huge thanks to Barry for terrific journalism & incredible productivity.

Posted by: Section 406 | October 1, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I'll have what she's having... ;)



Posted by: Woman at the next table | October 1, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I've been having internet problems at home, [RF] Comcast! But I wanted to add my effusive praise to everyone else for the wonderful job you've done this year, Barry. Thanks so much. We'll miss you a lot next year, but have a great time in Beijing and stop by to visit us every now and then.

My only comment on the awards show is that Most Dedicated Beat Writer is hands-down Barry Svrluga.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 1, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

...also, we won more games than the Orioles for the third straight year!

Posted by: leetee1955 | October 1, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I don't want to let anybody down who is expecting me to respond to John Patterson as most disappointing player of the year, but Barry got it right this time. It is not Patterson who was disappointing, it is the fact that he was injured for the second year in a row. However, PLEASE everyone - Barry included - remember that IT IS NOT HIS FAULT, and as frustrating as it is to the fans, it is much, much more frustrating for JP! His career - at least with the Nats - is in jeopardy here and he is only 29 years old. Remember, he did not pitch poorly BEFORE the injury, he pitched poorly BECAUSE of the injury. He tried his darndest to pitch through the pain and be effective, but it just didn't work. Instead of saying "What a bum" as one "fan" did, how about a little sympathy and support for a change???

Posted by: jpsfanandproudofit | October 1, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

You know, I actually agree with jpsfanandproudofit on this one.

I think where we part ways is that I don't think he "deserves" a spot on the staff next year. I'd give him every opportunity to earn his place back, but I'm not willing another 9-25 start next year.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 1, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"Some have pointed to May 9th as that date, but I suppose (the morning of) May 11th is somewhat accurate as well."

You know, when the grand history of the Washington Nationals is writ, generations from now, there will be legitimate debate as to what was THE date. Even today, scarcely months removed from it, it's impossible to pin down. Yes, what was the date when the Washington Post's carefully-constructed, editorial-board-approved and focus-grouped-to-death story arc for the Washington Nationals' 2007 season began to irretrievably unravel? You know, the one that was titled "New Ownership Fields Historically Bad Team; Alienates a Generation of Fans Who Will Never, Ever Return"? The Post was running strong in the telling of its dramatic tale on the morning of Tuesday May 8th. Through constant hectoring of the team's ownership in print since the last day of the 2006 season ("Nats not signing free agents because owners are cheap", "Nats writing off 2007 season, telling fans to suck it up until new park opens", etc, etc, ad nauseum) they had already succeeded in creating a negative impression that was enough to drive away thousands of season ticket holders, thereby virtually ensuring that 2007 attendance would be under the all-important two million mark. With the team reeling under a record that would soon reach 9-25, the once-great newspaper prepared to run what it thought would surely be two fatal body blows to the team, cementing its story arc and allowing its crack reportorial and columnist team to relax for the rest of the summer, taking in an occasional game at a REAL ballpark - you know, that one up in Baltimore where the Yankees and Red Sox play. That's real baseball, man, not this Little League crap that they play in RFK. They did feel bad, though, for that Svrluga kid who sat in the next cube and had drawn the short straw, meaning he'd have to be the one to keep up the ruse for the rest of the summer, the one that says the Washington Post actually covers the home team.

So, in the first punch of its 1-2 full-paper press, On May 8th Linton Weeks in Style weighed in with an article headlined "Baseball Most Foul: The Nats Reinvent Bad", which started off by asking the question "Can Washington learn to love a bunch of baseball losers? And by 'bunch of losers,' we mean the Washington Nationals. They are just not very good so far this year. In polite terms: They stink." - and went downhill from there. Then, before the poor team had any chance to rebut either on or off the field, the dean of Washington baseball commentary, one Thomas "Say there, Earl, which kind of tomatoes do you find grow the best in the clay-like Baltimore bullpen soil?" Boswell filed his column on Thursday, May 10th. Starting off with the immortal line "Stan Kasten is an idiot.", through his next 1,118 words he eloquently laid out his case for that, building in a slow crescendo to his final conclusion, his own personal verdict on the Washington Nationals. A full three-quarters of the season was yet to play out, but in his mind and that of his once-great newspaper, it would only be the denouement of the great story arc he and his editorial co-conspirators had conceived long before the season began. Here's what he wrote to end his column that morning:

"But none of these people, regardless of good intentions, knows this town. Or how alien, remote and forgotten baseball became for millions here during the third-of-a-century the game was gone. 'They'll love us when we win,' is the mantra. We'll see. If The Plan, so ideal in theory, fizzles in practice, will baseball regret squandering the glorious goodwill in the summer of '05 when the box seats bounced at RFK? Whatever the cost in wasted cash, I'd never have taken such a chance."

But probably before the last puff of smoke on the celebratory cigars being smoked by Boz and his buddies had died down, real life began to intrude on their carefully-constructed plan. On May 11th, before an announced crowd of 23,006 in RFK Stadium, the Nationals beat the Marlins 6-0. Counting that game, they would go 64-64 (.500) for the remainder of the season, finishing at 73-89, a record that was a full two games better than the one posted by the 2006 team (full of those expensive free agents who had gone on to sign with other teams), and also good enough to keep them out of last place for the first time in the three-year history of the team. Faced with the unraveling of their carefully-constructed story arc for the Nationals, how did Boswell and his cronies at the Post respond? Did they rewrite their story as a feel-good piece about the 2007 Nationals? No. Did they admit in print that they had been the least bit wrong in their early season predictions? HELL NO! No, they did none of that. They tried to deflect attention for a while by covering the Cal Ripken and the Orioles, but eventually that became an even more embarrassing proposition for them and they moved on to covering the Phillies in a classic case of front-running. All the while, though, they have been laying the groundwork for their grand story arc of the 2008 season, which will be headlined "I Can't Even Find an Effin Parking Space at the Stadium, So How Am I Supposed to Know Who Won the Game?"

Meanwhile, historians will endlessly debate on what was THE date. Was it on May 8th or May 10th, 2007, that the Washington Post entered into irrelevancy? I don't know the answer to that, myself. But irrelevant they are.

Posted by: Section 419 | October 1, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Duh I didn't even know the Nationals Journal was a place to talk Nationals baseball. I had been to the other sites and it seemed to be filled with other fans saying how bad the Nats were or were never any good posts. What a surprise halfway thru the season when I finally noticed the word comments and clicked it. The best and most consistant comments anywhere. Up to date infor from Barry and real baseball discussions. It really helped me get my fix of the Nats every day. Thank you Barry and the rest of the posters.

Posted by: D Brown | October 1, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Ow, quit it, that hurts...

Posted by: Dead horse | October 1, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Thank you.

Thank you to my boys of summer for a most unexpected pleasure of a season. Thank you for playing hard everyday. Thank you Manny for swiftly and decisively disciplining those who didn't. Thank you for the pride I feel everyday in being a fan of this team.

Thank you Nats on behalf of every single baseball fan in America. Though you won't hear it from the national press, your heroic play over the last month of the season against tough divisional rivals directly contributed to the excitement felt by every single MLB fan worldwide while they watched the NL East and NL Wildcard races go down to the wire, culminating in the widely publicized historic collapse of the NY Mets. Without your contribution, much of the anticipation and excitement of the final weeks of the 2007 season would have been over days if not weeks ago.

Thank you Barry for your tireless work throughout the year. I look forward to your contributions throughout the summer and wish you the best of luck in your new position next year.

And thank you fellow NJ posters. Since finding this site late in the season you have consistently and exponentially added to my enjoyment of this team and this season. I hope I have added a small piece to your enjoyment in return.

Posted by: MKevin | October 1, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Post of the day, MKevin!

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 1, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

And the Ron Ziegler Washington Post Conspiracy Theory Award for 2007 to honor those who stand up to the Washington Post's "shoddy journalism" and attempts at "character assassination" goes to Section 419, congratulations!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 1, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm going with Belliard for POY. He was signed as a back-up and ended up out-hitting the guy he was supposed to spell by 45 points. He also did this in multiple spots in the order and played solid defense all year.

Posted by: Section 206 | October 1, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, 506. Irrelevance comes in many flavors.

Posted by: Hendo | October 1, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I like 206's thinking about Belliard... he was a very pleasant surprise this year. I didn't really get excited about him though, probably because I don't see him either playing that much or that well next year. Perhaps because I have the image of Vidro burned into my mind... but I can't help but imagine that Belliard is at the top of a fairly steep downward slope. I hope I am wrong... The other thing is, the whole middle infield thing (and the lack of credible prospects) has me concerned.

At the beginning of the summer I thought that CF was the big hole, but now I am not so sure. I am more concerned about the middle infield.

Anyway, the point of this post is to say that if I thought that Belliard was going to be a productive starter in 2008 and beyond, I'd probably be on board with 206's sentiments.

Posted by: Wigi | October 1, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I am pretty sure that's a leaf blower and not a weed eater.

Posted by: Product Placement Police | October 1, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Barry. Thanks Nats. And thank MKevin for summing it all up for us. I am still waiting for the final stanza from Hendo however.

Pitchers and catchers report in . . .

Posted by: lowcountrynatsfan | October 1, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Barry picks May events for the game and play of the year. Defensible choices, no doubt, but I think they came before we had a feel for this team. And May games are comparatively meaningless. I favor the September 23 finale, on the grounds that (i) the game showed the Nats as we came to see them this season, as the gritty team fending off the eventual pennant winning Phillies (after taking two of three from the Mets earlier in the week); and (ii) obviously, it was the RFK finale. I also favor Ryan's "Stolen DP" as the play of the year, not because it was the best fielding play of the year, but because, again, it showed Zim and the Nats playing tough baseball in a tight pennant race.

I agree with Barry's choices of "organizational depth" as the pleasant surprise, and Patterson's injury as the disappointment (the loss of Johnson being offset by the pleasant surprise of Dmitri Young).

Rauch as pitcher of the year works for me, and I agree that Zimmerman is the player of the year and the NL gold glover at the hot corner.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | October 1, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Does 419 stand for irrelevant. Error 419 - Reality Not Found?

Posted by: NatBisquit | October 1, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

And the Ron Ziegler Washington Post Conspiracy Theory Award for 2007 to honor those who stand up to the Washington Post's "shoddy journalism" and attempts at "character assassination" goes to Section 419, congratulations!

When they are out to get you, paranoia is just good thinking.

Posted by: Dr. Johnny Fever | October 1, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"And the Ron Ziegler Washington Post Conspiracy Theory Award for 2007 to honor those who stand up to the Washington Post's "shoddy journalism" and attempts at "character assassination" goes to Section 419, congratulations!"

It doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to see what the Post has been up to with its Nationals coverage this year. Just ask any of the hundreds of thousands of Post readers other than the dozen or so of you out on Planet NJ what THEIR lingering impression of the 2007 Nationals is, based solely on what they've read about them in the Post, and you'll know.

And boy am I pissed about losing the Most Predictable Complaint in NJ Comments Award to jpsfanandproudofit. John Patterson - talk about your dead horses. And with his injury history, it's a good thing he's not a horse, or he'd have been destroyed by now, right? (And yes, jpsfanandproudofit, I know it's not his fault...)

Posted by: Section 419 | October 1, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm not saying RZ doesn't merit being the Nats' mvp, but the fact that he batted third in all 162 games doesn't help his cause. Any player who plays in that many games and bats third should have a lot more than 91 rbi. His year was disappointing, but I hope only a mild sophomore slump.

Posted by: mart | October 1, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

LCNF: I'd like to thank the Academy...

Posted by: Hendo | October 1, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Totally behind the Belliard as POY arguments! For once a player I'm enamored with actually has other fans! Mark the date! He rocks. I'm so glad he'll be around next season.

Posted by: misschatter | October 1, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"I think where we part ways is that I don't think he "deserves" a spot on the staff next year. I'd give him every opportunity to earn his place back, but I'm not willing another 9-25 start next year"

section 506 (before moving)

I only say that JP "deserves" an opportunity to make a comeback. My point is that it is not his fault he was injured, he did everything possible to avoid surgery and make it back this year, and the Nats should give him a chance. Hopefully his bad luck has run it's course. I think we pretty much agree on this. I would like to remind you though, that Patterson alone was not responsible for that 9-25 start - all the starting rotation had a hand in it and the others did not have the problem with an injured arm that JP did!

Posted by: jpsfanandproudofit | October 1, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

419: I thought it was YOUR dead horse he was talking about....

Posted by: NatsNut | October 1, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

(summoning up a final whinny) Yeah, it was his...

Posted by: Dead horse | October 1, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Well, now we know where all the Phoenix purple wound up.
... ... ... (and then some)
Meanwhile, historians will endlessly debate on what was THE date. Was it on May 8th or May 10th, 2007, that the Washington Post entered into irrelevancy? I don't know the answer to that, myself. But irrelevant they are.
Posted by: Section 419 | October 1, 2007 11:43 AM

Posted by: When will that new thread be ready? | October 1, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Section 419 is an idiot.

Posted by: More Like It | October 1, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious what teams everyone will be cheering for in the playoffs? I'm rooting for Rockies tonight and I also like the Diamondbacks. Both seem like teams the Nats could be.

506, I'm assuming you're rooting for the RHCFG's team, right? ;)

Posted by: NatsNut | October 1, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Barry, and thanks, all.

Defensive Play of the Year, for me, is that DP, partly because of the context (meaningful situation in a meaningful game), partly because the turn at 2nd was just as fast and almost as good as Zimm's start and thus providing two good moves on one play, and partly just plain baseball esthetics. Godfrey Daniels, that was pretty.

Biggest Disappointment, speaking strictly for me, was Nook's "What Was He Thinking!?? Where Was He GOING?!" pinned-like-a-bug [RF]-up. (Note to self- you can't become disillusioned unless you had illusions to begin with.)

Posted by: cevans (unmoving) | October 1, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

For the record, I think 419 meant to liken JP to the dead horse, perhaps because of the beatings he took in April and May.
419: I thought it was YOUR dead horse he was talking about.
Posted by: NatsNut | October 1, 2007 02:25 PM
John Patterson - talk about your dead horses. And with his injury history, it's a good thing he's not a horse, or he'd have been destroyed by now...
Posted by: Section 419 | October 1, 2007 02:15 PM

Posted by: cevans | October 1, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm obliged to cheer for the Cubs, primarily because I have to educate her on the team. She's been following the Nats all year, so I need to give her a brief on her own team.

Say what you want about Section 419 (and I will), but he's got a wicked, snarky sense of humor. And that's always appreciated here.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 1, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Nats highlights from Jayson Starks year ending awards:

Manager of the Year: Manny makes the "apologies to" list.

Top five injuries of the year:

Third prize (ifs, ands or butts division): Some maladies are tougher to describe than others. So no wonder the Nationals struggled to come up with just the right words to categorize a June injury to reliever Jesus Colome. It was first described as "a soft tissue injury in a lower right extremity." Later, though, they amended that to report that Colome was suffering (and boy, was he ever) from a (yikes) "abscess on his right buttock" that deposited him in a hospital for more than a week. "It's a serious situation," GM Jim Bowden told The Washington Post's Barry Svrluga. "We pray for his buttocks and his family."

Milestone Men of the Year:

And, lest we forget, there was Barry. He finally bashed No. 756, on Aug. 7 at AT&T Park. Washington's Mike Bacsik -- a pitcher whose father had once faced Hank Aaron when Aaron was sitting on 755 homers -- was the victim.

Our five favorite goofy moments of the year
The real hidden-ball trick: June 22, Indians vs. Nationals. Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman tried to field a ground ball by Franklin Guttierez, only to have the baseball hop right between a couple of buttons and land inside his shirt. "It was kind of like the Twilight Zone," Zimmerman told Year in Review. "I know I couldn't do that if I tried to do it, anyway." But first baseman Dmitri Young said this just proved his longtime theory about how Zimmerman makes all those acrobatic plays at third. "I think he has a magnet inside him that just sucks up balls," Young said.

The wildest pitch ever: April 21, Nationals vs. Marlins. It isn't every day a pitcher can wind up, throw a pitch and have it land in the stands between the plate and first base. But Nationals rookie Matt Chico did that in this game -- all because he lost the handle on a changeup and entered it in the Wildest Pitch of All Time Derby. That inspired Year in Review to ask catcher Brian Schneider and first baseman Dmitri Young which one had a better chance of catching the pitch. Young's reply: Neither of them. "Dontrelle Willis had a better chance of catching it than I did," Young chuckled. "And he was in the on-deck circle."

Posted by: MKevin | October 1, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Ok, jpsfanandproudofit, I agree with you on all that. BUT, he has to prove himself in Viera, not in Washington. Pitch well all of spring training and then he gets to come to D.C.

I think he will, the problem is if he doesn't. He has no options to send him to Columbus, right?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 1, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Postseason rooting interest: D-backs all the way. With that pitching and just a bit of hitting, they can win some low-scoring contests. When Livo is your *worst* starter, you're probably in pretty fair shape. (In fact, will he even see much of the postseason?)

DISCLAIMER: Let the record state that I made much the same assertion about the Tigers last season.

Also, a little piece of me will be pulling for the Indians, my Dad's team.

Posted by: Hendo | October 1, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Brilliant, MKevin!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 1, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

NL - Rockies if they win tonight, DBacks if they don't.

AL - Boston. I just spent 4 days in Boston and I was just blown away at how excited the entire city is about their baseball team. It was EVERYWHERE!


I'm curious what teams everyone will be cheering for in the playoffs? I'm rooting for Rockies tonight and I also like the Diamondbacks. Both seem like teams the Nats could be.

506, I'm assuming you're rooting for the RHCFG's team, right? ;)

Posted by: NatsNut | October 1, 2007 02:39 PM

Posted by: MKevin | October 1, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Footnote - oops... forgot to link Stark's original article in my post above:

Posted by: MKevin | October 1, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Quote -

"We are all praying for his buttocks" - Nats GM Jim Bowden, in reference to pitcher Jesus Colome's, uh, injury.

Posted by: Andrew Stebbins | October 1, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

How about people's plays they've never seen before? Mine would be Brandon Phillips stealing 2 bases on us on 1 play due to the Adam Dunn shift that was on at the time.

Posted by: Section 206 | October 1, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

New post...

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 1, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

This just in...

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a recall of the 2007 New York Mets, having found substantial evidence that they are a choking hazard.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 1, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Way too late, and I can't say I saw every play, but some mention should be of the play Guzman made when he busted his wrist. That was an amazing effort.

Posted by: jon | October 1, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut: great question! I'll be rooting for the Indians in the AL (because I promised my 86-year-old aunt that I would and because I'm inclined to root for the lower payroll teams). In the NL I like the Rockies (I think that they have the largest concentration of ex-Nats) and the Diamondbacks (hey, Livo!). Both teams also meet my lower payroll critera.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 1, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

She meant "criterion."

Posted by: natsfan1a's inner proofreader | October 1, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

NL - no favorite - may the best-playing team in the playoffs win (and compete hard in the World Series)

AL - rooting for both the Sox and the Yanks to play hard and do well (and hoping Alex Rodriguez's success in the season carries over into the offseason) - again, may the best-playing team out of those two win

Posted by: samantha7 | October 1, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

What about play of the year - Atlanta series at RFK towards the end of the season, Austin Kearns rounds third as Franceour rockets it in from right field. Kearns doesn't beat the throw, but absolutely obliterates whoever the Braves had behind the plate, knocking the ball loose and scoring the run. I mean, talk about baseball collisions, Kearns was channeling Sean Taylor on that one.

Posted by: Arlington | October 1, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

All great choices, well thought out.

My only suggestion is that Christian Guzman is disapointment of the year.

He starts great, gets us all excited that he might actually contribute, and then gets hurt, and misses almost a second WHOLE season.

Posted by: cabraman | October 1, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Here's some food for thought about Chad Cordero's effectiveness.

I took a look today at the saves and save opportunities for all major league teams, and calculated their save percentages (saves/save opportunities). The Major League average is .671, the American League average is .680 and the National League average is .664. The Red Sox were the best in the AL at .804 and the D'Backs in the NL at .773. The AL's worst was Baltimore at .545 and the NL's worst was Cincinnati at .548.

Cordero's stats? 37 saves in 46 opportunities for an .804 average, same as the Bosox. The Nats were 46 of 73 overall for a .630 average, good for 10th in the NL and 20th in the majors.

Posted by: myow | October 1, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Interesting, myow. I'm not a stats person, but does that mean that if the Red Sox had traded for Cordero, there would have been no appreciable change in their save stats?

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 1, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

natsfan1a - assuming no other change to anyone in their bullpen, there would have been no change in their overall save percentage. Said another way, the average Red Sox reliever and Chad Cordero were equally as effective in save situations in the 2007 regular season.

Posted by: myow | October 1, 2007 8:11 PM | Report abuse

thanks, myow

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 1, 2007 8:54 PM | Report abuse

No, myow and Natsfan1a. The blown save figure includes saves blown by middle relief. the direct comparable would be Papelbon vs. Cordero. Peplabon blew 3 out of 40, or converted 92.5%. Cordero, as MYOW points out, 37 out of 46, or .804. Big, big difference. For comparison, the other 7 closers in the playoffs:

Valverde - 47/54 (87%)
Borowski - 45/53 (85%)
Corpas* - 19/22 (86%)
Myers - 21/24 (83%)
Dempster - 28/31 (90%)
Rivera - 30/34 (88%)
Rodriguez - 40/46 (87%)
So, Cordero would have been a drop off for any of the playoff teams.

Also, if you take the top 30 relievers in saves in 2007, only Eric Gagne, Brad Hennessy, Brad Lidge, Brian Fuentes*, Bob Wickman had worse save percentages. Not that at least 3 of those guys lost theri jobs as closers (Gagne, Fuentes, and Wickman). Noe of the top 20 releivers in saves had a worse save percentage than Cordero.

Got to think of a better defense of Chad than that one. good luck.

Posted by: jon | October 3, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

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