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Zimmerman's health

I touched on this yesterday because of the Rule 5 draft of Matt Whitney and the signing of free agent Aaron Boone, both potential third basemen. As I mentioned, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick wrote a little item that there was some buzz that Ryan Zimmerman's injury was worse than the team expected.

I talked to some of the people who would know, and they don't believe this is the case at all. Zimmerman had surgery to remove the hook of hamate bone in his left wrist, an injury that had bothered him the last six weeks of the season or so, but one that is not abnormal for baseball players or golfers. The bone is non-essential.

The problem came when, a week later, he had to have another procedure to remove a hematoma that had resulted from the other surgery. He had tingling and numbness in his hand, and it just didn't feel right. They did that, and instead of the recovery time being four-to-six weeks, it went to a straight six weeks.

Zimmerman is now doing rehabilitation every day, and his range of motion and strength are both improving, those familiar with his case say. He can't swing a bat yet, but he doesn't normally start doing that seriously until after Christmas.

There could be some issues in spring training and in the early part of the season regaining strength in the wrist -- an essential body part for a hitter. But there is no indication that this is going to prevent Zimmerman from being ready to go from the first day of spring training.

I'll get you some more updates during the day, perhaps.

By Barry Svrluga  |  December 7, 2007; 11:14 AM ET
 
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Next: The Middle Infield: The Future

Comments

We have a lot of irons in the fire and oars in the water. - Jim Bowden as quoted in Bill Ladson's most recent piece.

Posted by: Cliché police | December 7, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Despite Zim's injury, I'm still glad that the jersey I bought last year has his name and number on the back.

Now if they could just complete the negotiations and sign his butt to a long-term contract...

Posted by: Juan-John | December 7, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Exactly! As ole' Jimbo said, "He's going to be our starting 3B until my kids are out of college"...so let's pay the kid $10m a year for next 10 years and get it over with.
**************************
"Now if they could just complete the negotiations and sign his butt to a long-term contract..."

Posted by: AJ | December 7, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

this just goes to show that the Lerners were too cheap to pay for a new wrist for Zimm. Those cheap bastards.

Posted by: channeling swanni | December 7, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who agrees that Bowden thinks that all good things were once a Cincinati Red, will find this very funny. I found the link on Rob Neyer's column.

http://frontier.cincinnati.com/blogs/spring/2007/12/nats-to-change-logo.asp

Posted by: roman1735 | December 7, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

If I'm Zim there's no way I sign that. Maybe for the next 3, but if he's as good as we all seem to think, $10M will just pay his taxes.
Ok, that's a stretch--that's ARod's taxes. But still.

***********
...so let's pay the kid $10m a year for next 10 years and get it over with.
**************************
"Now if they could just complete the negotiations and sign his butt to a long-term contract..."

Posted by: AJ | December 7, 2007 11:53 AM

Posted by: CE | December 7, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

The thought of not having Zimmerman in 2008 is far too depressing for the holiday season.

But it should be noted that the Nats have a track record of initially underestimating the severity of injuries -- John Patterson, Nick Johnson, Shawn Hill, Christan Guzman, Alex Escobar, etc.

All were out for much longer periods than Nats management originally estimated.

Posted by: swanni | December 7, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Great post and link Romam! Y'all read the comments. Who would have thought that JimBo and the NATS would have elicted all those gibes?

Posted by: A Hardwick | December 7, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Great post and link Roman! Y'all read the comments after the column. Who would have thought that JimBo and the NATS would have elicted all those gibes?

Posted by: A Hardwick | December 7, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

And, my cynical side would suggest that the Nats would like to downplay Zim's injury with thousands of season ticket renewals yet to be sent back.
.

Posted by: swanni | December 7, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I keep asking, and nobody will tell me, what happened with their first orthopedic surgeon, Weimi Duouguih, the guy they had when they were 50-31?
OK, nobody talks to me anyway, but still.

**********
But it should be noted that the Nats have a track record of initially underestimating the severity of injuries -- John Patterson, Nick Johnson, Shawn Hill, Christan Guzman, Alex Escobar, etc.

All were out for much longer periods than Nats management originally estimated.

Posted by: swanni | December 7, 2007 12:25 PM

Posted by: CE | December 7, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Sorry about the double post. Swanni, the extra infielders aren't about Zimm but are about Nick. He could be finished.

Posted by: A Hardwick | December 7, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Nick's plight is also not holiday-friendly discussion.

Love Dimitri, but Nick Johnson is a special offensive player and an underrated defensive player. Just ask Zim whose throwing errors starting last year with no Nick at first.

Posted by: swanni | December 7, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Swanni wrote:

"Just ask Zim whose throwing errors starting last year with no Nick at first."

A lot of those throws would have been over Manute Bol's head.

Posted by: Wigi | December 7, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

at least 10 of Zims errors were complete balloons. Nick wouldn't have had them, either.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 7, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Wigi,
You're missing the point. Without Nicky over there, Zimmerman started to think too much about throwing to first. He knew that Dimitri needed the ball to be right on target (Da Meat Hook can't pick, you know.) so instead of just throwing, he paused and thought about it.

Watch replays of his throwing errors and you'll see what I mean.

Posted by: swanni | December 7, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I'll actually side with swanni on this one (no gasps, please). I think knowing Dmitri's defensive limitations at first definitely had an impact... less natural, reflexive throwing (which we have all seen is insanely amazing) and more tension involved. We didn't have a Knoblauch situation, but you could see that after realizing there would never be a bailout from Dmitri, it was in his head a little bit, for sure.

Posted by: faNATic | December 7, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Zim, of course, couldn't even suggest that Dimitri at first was a problem. He would be a poor teammate if he did.

But it's quite interesting that the problem began when Dimitri starting playing first.

Posted by: swanni | December 7, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Little things like that is why baseball is so fascinating. The game within the game.

Posted by: swann | December 7, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Barry - In your follow-ups, can you address the impact on his power? Recocery can mean 2 things - on the field every day vs. being able to hit for his normal power. No serious doubt he should be on the field. Just some doubt about whether he can hit like a #3 hitter for power.

Posted by: jon | December 7, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

That is just crazy talk, Swanni. Zim's throws were way off of the 8 ft high and 5 ft wide target that Dimitri presented. It's true that Zimmerman messed up when he consciously had time to think about his throw but that is all there was to it. Dimitri did not cause that.

Posted by: Dale | December 7, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Swanni: Actually, I agree with you... I was mostly being funny... I think I saw every one of the errors... and they definitely had that 'mental' look to them.

Posted by: Wigi | December 7, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

"And, my cynical side would suggest that the Nats would like to downplay Zim's injury with thousands of season ticket renewals yet to be sent back."

swanni, your cynical side would have to be a Moebius strip.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | December 7, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

i agree. dmitri/fick/batista at 1b? that's just terrible. nick johnson is much better than those guys.

Posted by: longterm | December 7, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

This is a game of fear and arrogance. Zimm might very well have been thinking, instead of just letting fly. Which is not to say it was Young's fault--it's not as if HE broke Nick's leg.

Posted by: 3rdBase50 | December 7, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

OOOh, good one.

swanni, your cynical side would have to be a Moebius strip.
Posted by: Section 419+1 | December 7, 2007 01:27 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | December 7, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

fear and ignorance, got it.

Posted by: longterm | December 7, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

And the funnier thing is, at first I thought the cap logo was handcuffs.

*********
Anyone who agrees that Bowden thinks that all good things were once a Cincinati Red, will find this very funny. I found the link on Rob Neyer's column.
http://frontier.cincinnati.com/blogs/spring/2007/12/nats-to-change-logo.asp
Posted by: roman1735 | December 7, 2007 12:12 PM

Posted by: CE | December 7, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Swanni, you are amazing. Why blame the F/O for "underestimating" the extent of Patterson's injury when it is obvious that he was much less than truthful with them. Johnson's injury and the length of his recovery from it were totally unpredictable, although it became obvious fairly early on that the F/O had doubts about his ability to make a quick return, hence the signing of DaMeat.

I do, however, agree with you about the lack of a mobile 1b having an effect on Zimm's throws. Also, having a 2B play out of position at SS had an effect. Also, having 8 miles of in-play foul territory had an effect. Welcome to why baseball is better than any other sport.

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 7, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Catcher50, you're too cool and mentally astute to get this worked up over some negativity. I'm not sure any of us know why we were given such rosy scenarios for our players. Swanni says the FO lied, you say Patterson lied, I say people thought with their hearts and not their brains. We don't know who is right and probably never will.

There's a place for all those positions, though, and an interesting discussion to be had regarding them all (and the Post's coverage, I know 419, it's ironic that I'm writing this...) we just all need to make sure we have a discussion in a way that allows for response, instead of having a slam war trying to shut the other up.

So, "the FO is cheap because X, Y, Z" and the FO is not cheap because of A, B, C" leads to an interesting discussion. "We will never win because the FO is cheap" and "they're not cheap, you're just a cruel-spirited grouch" leads to boredom.
Everyone's done both of those formations, even me. We strive to have more of the former and less of the latter.

The only thing not debatable is that Philly sucks a big fat can of cheez-whiz.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 7, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Well said, 506.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 7, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Well said, 506.
-0-0-0-

especially the Cheez Whiz part. :-)

Posted by: Section 406 | December 7, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Could Zimmerman's injury have been affecting his throws at all over time? Seems like I recall reading that a hook of hamate injury can affect grip among other things.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 7, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Loved the Cheez Whiz part!

===

especially the Cheez Whiz part. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 7, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Hear, hear, 506. It's getting a wee bit tiresome.

Posted by: Hendo | December 7, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I didn't say the Front Office lied. I said they underestimated the severity of the injuries. Which they did.

Posted by: swanni | December 7, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

would it be the FO that underestimated them? or the doctors?

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 7, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

does anybody believe in doctors anymore?

Posted by: longterm | December 7, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

maybe they've gone the way of santa clause and the easter bunny?

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 7, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Yes, longterm, there is a doctor.

Posted by: NY Times | December 7, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

"I didn't say the Front Office lied. I said they underestimated the severity of the injuries. Which they did."

What I'm curious about - and yet realize I will never have answered - is why they underestimated the severity. Was it hoping for the best? Bad doctors? Ballplayers' usual lies ("It's just stiff")? Cynical PR manipulation for a bad season?

I could justify just about any of them.

Actually, making up a story about why could be fun.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 7, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

For a comical story on the other side of the coin, see "Alibi Ike," by Ring Lardner.

---

Ballplayers' usual lies ("It's just stiff")? Cynical PR manipulation for a bad season?

I could justify just about any of them.

Actually, making up a story about why could be fun.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 7, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm not worried about Zimm. Didn't he play every single game this year and missed only a couple games last year, even when the bone broke and healed over a couple times?

Psh. Dude is TOUGH. Give me something to REALLY worry about.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 7, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

My, my you folks get testy in here!

Posted by: AJ | December 7, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

i don't think people are necessarily worried that he won't play the full season, so much, natsnut (altho the 'rumor-mill' seemed to indicate that). probably more about how much it will effect his hitting, power in particular.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 7, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

The three main reasons I can think of for injury truth-stretching are (a) a ballplayer's desire to maintain job security; (b) a team's desire not to expose (or to diminish) its weaknesses; (c) a team's desire not to incur the downtime required to put the player onto the 15- or 60-day DL.

The truth doesn't get stretched all the time. If memory serves, Guzie was back before the end of the season, as advertised.

Which introduces (d) sometimes the team guesses right and sometimes they don't.

Alternatives (e1) the team is wearing rose-colored glasses and (e2) the medical and training staff are substandard, don't need elaboration by me. You hope not, but you never know.

Posted by: Hendo | December 7, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

231: Even so...his numbers this year weren't THAT bad and they would have included the bone breaking and healing, right? Nah. He'll be fine.

Posted by: NatsNut (GHF) | December 7, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

i'm not necessarily saying they'll be bad, just that some are worried.

it's possible it may sap some of his power in the beginning of the year as he rebuilds the strength in his wrist (and maybe forearm). but we may not notice it this year because of the stadium effect. it may look like he jumped a little power-wise next year or toward the end of this season.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 7, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

"No Give and Take. No Exchange of Thought. It gets you nowhere, particularly if the other person's tail is only just in sight for the second half of the conversation."
"A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference."

Posted by: Eeyore | December 7, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

You mean to tell me Santa Claus doesn't exist?!? And the Easter Bunny too?!? What's next, the Loch Ness Monster?!?
------------

maybe they've gone the way of santa clause and the easter bunny?

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 7, 2007 03:17 PM

Posted by: Juan-John | December 7, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse


Somehow we went from snarking to sniping. Let's go back to snark.

Posted by: We Want Snark. We Want Snark... | December 7, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

"You mean to tell me Santa Claus doesn't exist?!?"

No, no; it's all a vicious lie. This does remind me, though, of a chuckle I got in January of this year.

I was on Metro, rolling down to Union Station entirely too early one morning, trying to make a train to Baltimore, when we stopped on the tracks (what a surprise) within view of R Street Self Storage.

At the time, that establishment sported a neon sign, as it does now. But the "R Street" portion was in a shade of blue virtually invisible to the middle-aged eye, while the light for the first S of the "Self Storage" portion, in red, was burned out.

This produced the display

ELF STORAGE

"[RF1]," I thought. "So that's what the fat man does with the little [RF2]s when he's done for the year..."

Posted by: Hendo | December 7, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

"If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear."

Posted by: Winnie the Pooh | December 7, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Hahaha, is this because I called you Eeyore the other day, swanni? Eeyore is the only part of Winnie the Pooh I ever liked. He's so delightfully cynical, but always loyal.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 7, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

from MLB trade rumors:

David Lennon reports that the Mets had conversations with the Giants about sending Lastings Milledge over for Noah Lowry. The Giants wanted a young pitcher back as well, so Minaya shipped Milledge elsewhere. Still, the Lowry idea could be revisited.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 7, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but not from Swanni, pbuh.
*********
Hahaha, is this because I called you Eeyore the other day, swanni? Eeyore is the only part of Winnie the Pooh I ever liked. He's so delightfully cynical, but always loyal.
Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 7, 2007 05:38 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | December 7, 2007 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I liked the Eeyore bit. Don't be glummy! :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 7, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Ummm, JJ, I've been meaning to talk to you about that ...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champ_(legend)

**********
You mean to tell me Santa Claus doesn't exist?!? And the Easter Bunny too?!? What's next, the Loch Ness Monster?!?
------------
maybe they've gone the way of santa clause and the easter bunny?
Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 7, 2007 03:17 PM

Posted by: Juan-John | December 7, 2007 04:17 PM

Posted by: ce | December 7, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

If Zimmerman is hurt worse than anyone thinks, I guess it's good Aaron Boone's around to fill in and maybe the Rule 5 pick.

I'm definitely anti-sniping. I do like seeing a well-argued difference of opinion.

I'd like to try to argue against the notion, expressed often in this blog, that Washington is a "football town" and its fans are all "frontrunners." The primacy of football goes back to the 1970s - the Senators had left for Texas, the Bullets still played in Baltimore, and the Caps weren't born until 1974 and not worth bothering about until Rod Langway came along.

DC was a football town because (a) there was nothing else and (b) during the time they had the town to themselves the team won - Play-offs in 71, 72, 73, 74, 76 - winning teams from 71 - 79, worst record 8-6. Super Bowl in 72, beating the hated Cowpokes to get there.

Even with the return of all the major sports and soccer, the only decent runs by any other team have been the Bullets in the mid to late 70s and DC United's championships - the Caps did have that one amazing run, but little else. The best baseball record in DC since 1945 was the 69 Senators, 86-76 mark - then 33 seasons of off days. 62 years, 86 wins is best! - NO town would come out in droves to support that kind of futility!

My point is NO town gets to be a football or baseball town unless that particular team WINS. Look up the Red Sox attendance from 1961 - 1966 - abysmal! The only town that supported a lousy team I can remember was those 62-68 Mets, lovable losers, but then a World Series - when the Mets got bad again, attendance dropped.

People are pretty much the same everywhere about sports, frontrunners all - but some towns have a history of success - those 4 super bowls sure helped Pittsburgh become a "football town."

My point - Yes, the Nats have to overcome the Redskins' historical dominance of this town's sports. But they will if they win consistently.

I can't say I've studied the attendance of cities to the last detail, but I did look closely at baseball attendance from 1960-71.

I'd love to hear other views, but I am convinced the Nats could be big in this town if they put a sustained run of winning together one day.

Posted by: natswriter | December 7, 2007 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Oh no. From Rotoworld:


The Blue Jays are still waiting to heat back from Paul Lo Duca after offering a one-year deal.
GM J.P. Ricciardi added that it might take a couple of days. It looks like Lo Duca's agent wants to see if the Nationals will come back with something better. The Jays are believed to offering $3 million-$4 million.
Source: Toronto Globe and Mail

Posted by: LA Nats | December 7, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Heinz (catchup) time:

1. I'd actually listen to the G & M. They were much more on target, re: the move from Mount Royal than were either the traditional baseball media (Gammons, etc.)or the Montreal press.

2. Fine, let's not do much (well, you got to do some) sniping, particularly when dumping on the owners, who you don't really know anything about.

3. Re: Hendo's comments about reasons why an injury might not be accurately reported by: A, B, or C because of L,M,or N. You are right on. Please remember that there actually is such a thing as "baseball age." where a player, many years ago because of lack of good records in rural America, and more recently because of lack of good records in Caribbean islands, Mexico, Venezuela, etc. would list himself as somewhat younger than he actually was.

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 7, 2007 7:42 PM | Report abuse

I still think a one year deal for Lo Duca would be useful. I understand why some do not want him, but I think he is among the best options available. I think we only need him for a half year. I am confident he could and would be traded at the allstar break. Someone will need him and we might get a decent player for him. In the meantime, he would buy us some time for Flores development. I would bat him 7th or 8th as he is no longer a capable number 2 hitter.

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 7, 2007 7:49 PM | Report abuse

i have a lot of problems with lo duca. a major one is that he is a notorious second half slumper. not likely to get much trade value for him unless a contender has injury concerns.

i really don't know why arizona would trade montero but i hold out hope...

Posted by: longterm | December 7, 2007 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Agreed, longterm. I'd also add -- although others have made this point before -- that if the Nats wanted to bring Milledge in because they think that he can thrive away from New York and all of that baggage, then why on Earth would they want to bring in Lo Duca, who was an instigator of a lot of those problems. Makes no sense at all. Terrible idea.

Posted by: LA Nats | December 7, 2007 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Not saying that they should bring LoDuca in... but...

IF he comes in, he comes in as a disposable part... on a team whose average age is more than 10 years younger than he is... who has no future with the organization... and essentially no prospect of winning a World Series.

He'll have plenty of reason to be a problem, but it won't be because of Milledge.

Posted by: Wigi | December 7, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse

natswriter, you're a little off on the concept of when the skins became popular. they regularly sold out games in the 50s and 60s, and the sellout streak started in 1966. and back then, they were *TERRIBLE*. in general, good offensively, but bad defensively, and lost a lot of games 42-35. my family's skins season tickets went back to griffith stadium and my understanding is that there were good crowds and the town associated more with the skins than the senators going far further back than 1970, when senators v2 left. my dad was a fan of both, but the family was definitely a skins family. it's always been a football town.

that said, i think DC can embrace the nats and give them good attendance. even if it's just because it's a far more affordable ticket. but you're right, it won't last very long if they don't eventually win some playoff games.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 7, 2007 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Not saying that Lo Duca needs Milledge as an excuse to cause trouble, Wigi. He's plenty capable of doing that all on his own.

I'm just saying that Milledge doesn't need the distraction in a season where he's trying to get his career back on track and live up to his potential. He's got the tools to be a really good player. I'd hate to see the Nats do anything that might sabotage his chance.

Posted by: LA Nats | December 7, 2007 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Here's another dumb idea: I read speculation that the Dodgers might trade away Juan Pierre (age 30 starting 2nd year of 5 year 44M contract). Now I know we have too many outfielders, but if you could end up with an OF of Kearns, Milledge, and Pierre then you would have a pretty decent outfield amd a leadoff hitter. Not very high on the probability list. Just something to ponder on a Friday night....

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 7, 2007 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Juan Pierre would be a great acquisition!

Posted by: swanni | December 7, 2007 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Pierre's numbers last year...
. . . . . . G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG
Season 162 668 96 196 24 8 0 41 64 .293 .331 .353

despite only hitting 191, dukes' OBP was actually only 13 pts lower than pierre's (318). belliard's was actually 1 pt higher. he would have been 8th in OBP on the nats (among players who played at least 70 games, plus WMP, who played 37). milledge had a higher OBP last year, too.

he's a decent basestealer, but he's no longer a good leadoff hitter.

personally, i'd prefer the OBP from my leadoff guy to SB capability. and at this point in his career, for whatever reason, pierre is a one trick pony: SBs.

i really wonder what happened to him. from 01-04, he was a tremendous leadoff guy. OBP in the high 300s and a threat on the base paths. but something happened to him in 05 and he just couldn't hit the same any more.

anyway, i don't find him that interesting as an OF. maybe if he was a MI he might be worth hoping he could figure out what has been wrong the past few years. his numbers are better than Flopez. but as an OF, his number don't hold up any more.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 7, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Interesting idea...he might be a little expensive, but Pierre would give the Nats a legit leadoff hitter, and he would make decent deadline time trade bait. It would mean that WMP and Dukes would be the 4th and 5th outfielders. Or, they could trade WMP as part of a deal for a starter or a catcher.

Not sure that he's a great fit. Nats need a leadoff hitter, but it might be better to find one who plays a middle infield spot. Something interesting to think about, though.

Posted by: LA Nats | December 7, 2007 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Loduca and Estrada are notorious malcontents and whiners. I still think that if they want veteran catcher as a backup and mentor for Flores, Damien Miller is a better choice.

Juan Pierre's bloated contract may very well be the worst in all of baseball. Stay far away.

Posted by: blueson | December 7, 2007 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Jaun P was just one of several options I suggested last winter instead of Logan for 2007 to help illustrate that options were and are available.

Check out the numbers...... almost 200 hits, 100 runs and over 60 SBs.

Not saying he would fit now but last year when we had no CF or Lead off hitter at all (oh that's right Logan was going to do all that according to at least one person, and cheaper too!)......We did have options, many did provide more offense, we did not take them and we were last in runs scored in all the MLB as I recall.

I would not trade for Juan now, as we currently stand, but I would focus on Starting Pitching pay the going rate for the next few years and start winning games now.

Posted by: JayB | December 8, 2007 7:09 AM | Report abuse

Wouldn't a move like that blocked my son's development into a starting Center Fielder and set the team back?

Posted by: Logan's Mom | December 8, 2007 7:13 AM | Report abuse

i really wonder what happened to him. from 01-04, he was a tremendous leadoff guy. OBP in the high 300s and a threat on the base paths. but something happened to him in 05 and he just couldn't hit the same any more.
--------------------
Performance enhancers don't just generate home runs . . .

Posted by: lowcountry | December 8, 2007 7:57 AM | Report abuse

OPS can be over rated. Runs are what wins games. Almost 200 hits 100 runs and over 60 SB's......not to shabby. With those hits and SB's his standing on 2nd Base a lot. That is a fair measure of a lead off hitter too.

Posted by: JayB | December 8, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Yes, but JayB, for someone who was apparently standing on 2nd base a lot (taking your word for it) on a MUCH better offense than the Nationals had, Pierre sure didn't score very many runs.

If Pierre had been on the Nationals, you can cut his number of runs by a third, at least, and he would have been less impressive than whatever centerfield combination we ran out last year, aside from stolen bases that benefit his personal statline but not the team bottom line.

Posted by: faNATic | December 8, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

i like pierre but don't want him on our team. i think he's the same as he ever was. hits .300 and steals 50 bases pretty much every year. i think our defense is better off without him though. i'd like our centerfielder to hit more than 1 or 2 homeruns a year also.

i like our outfield as it is. catcher please...

Posted by: longterm | December 8, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Per snaps from the stadium's Construction Camera, patches of foul territory presently resemble the inside of Amy Winehouse's nostrils.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Catching up a bit after a short absence:

1. Nick Johnson and the doctors: Nick Johnson was in bad physical shape before he got hurt. In addition he uses lots of tobacco (smokes and dips). That's going to slow down the healing process. His time frame because of these issues is more like a normal human than a pro athlete. It'll be mid-season before he's 100%. Having said that, I've been banging the drum on the ineptitude of the Nats medical staff since last mid-season. Their trainers and medical staff are bad. I will ask Barry for the 3rd time to get the Post to investigate this. He shouldn't do it probably because he needs to preserve relationships, but please ... somebody look into this.

2. The Lerner's "cheapness" : The only time where the Lerners have had to make a sensible decision about spending money, they've spent it. That was on signing ALL their draft picks last year. The next big decision will be on getting Zim inked to a long term contract. Based on what JimBo said, that's coming eventually, so it appears they will also spend money there. If they don't, and the Nats lose him - assuming he's developing into an all-star - then the "cheap" label could be thrown around appropriately.

3. Were last week's moves good? Yes. While I've enjoyed the plucky nature of the team over the last three years, it's really been a roster thrown together with no consideration for the long term future of the organization. Rather, they picked up serviceable players to remain somewhat competitive. This was a hang over from the period in which MLB owned them. Between last year's draft and the trading for younger players who could potentially be all-stars, they are finally moving toward making an effort to win big. Every team, even the ones who win it all, have a couple of jerks on the roster. With the players, as long as they produce, nobody cares. Can you win with 25 Elijah Dukes? No. But sometimes the best competitors are the ones with the biggest "pain in the butt" personalities. Balance is the key.

The team is so much more athletic and exciting than it was 12 months ago. The starting rotation, while probably no more effective, will at least be filled more with guys under 26 years years old. The 29 year old retread whether a pitcher or player doesn't excite me. Gil Meche? Juan Pierre? They are a waste of resources. Give those ABs and IPs to younger guys. Let's see what they can do.

Patience, folks. Patience.

Posted by: #4 | December 8, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Huzzah! #4

I agree completely with all of your points.
This team in April 08 will be an improvement over last April's squad. We are moving in the right direction. If the pitching staff is not blown apart by injuries as it was last year we should be above .500 for the season. As a long time Senator's fan, that alone would give hope.

Now if we can dig up a left handed catcher by Spring I will relax for the winter.

Posted by: Dale | December 8, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Two more things:

1. I'm not worried about Zim's health. He'll be fine.

2. DC as a sports town: I've lived in DC almost my whole life, 42 years. It is just an OK sports town. I choose to judge such things on the quality of the owners, the sports media, and the rabidness with which a town supports a winner.

A. The owners: the Redskins have had good ownership in terms of their financial commitment to winning. Cooke and Snyder have spent lots of money. The latter's judgement has been poor, but it's not been bad for a lack of commitment. Pollin and Leonis are good community citizens but I've always found both their operations to be small time. The juries out on the Lerners.

B. The media: awful. Sports radio is a joke. No really good sports town would put up with the lack of in depth knowledge displayed on a daily basis by the guys on WTEM. Other than with pro football, the Post is just OK.

C. Fan support: fans will support a winner pretty well here. I have to say though that I am always a little disappointed by the low energy of Nats fans in the stadium.

All in all I'd give DC about a B minus.

This impacts the Nats in that we all need to remember that payroll level is directly proportional to revenue. I do think the Lerners may be waiting a little bit to see how well the team is actually supported.

Posted by: #4 | December 8, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Yup giving Logan and Langerhans those CF ABs sure helped the team's long term development.

The Pitching staff was destined to be "blown apart by injuries"...come on....did we need the whole 2007 season to find out that Logan sucks, Patterson, Bergman and Hill get hurt a lot. You get what you pay for by inviting 37 Basick types to spring training. All that did was burn up the Pen and risk arm problems with our strong suit.

Posted by: JayB | December 8, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

JayB,

I'm not sure I understand your post. I think we're saying the same thing, but I'm not sure. I agree with that another year of Nook, Church, Bacsik, Redding, etc is not what I have in mind either. I want to see Lannan, Milledge, Pena, and Dukes.

Posted by: #4 | December 8, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I agree, #4. It reminds me of the (insurance, I think) commercial about going it alone where the guy is standing up and cheering on the team while all those around him remain seated and silent.

---

I have to say though that I am always a little disappointed by the low energy of Nats fans in the stadium.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 8, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

We agree moving forward that the young hitters need AB's at this point but I would have rather had Jones or Hunter for the next few years in CF than Dukes.

On pitching I think Lannan is a young Basick type. We need some proven Vet pitching and Patterson is not it. Livo, Jennings would both help this team win while we wait for better options to develop.

Posted by: Jayb | December 8, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"I have to say though that I am always a little disappointed by the low energy of Nats fans in the stadium."

A half-full ball park sure can seem subdued -- and of course there were plenty of nights in '07 that weren't even half full.

The novelty of Nats Park will provide a bump. Beyond that, promotion, a better W-L record, and star-power signings at the right times should raise the attendance and energy levels considerably. (In re promotion and star power, the Nats could do worse than to get some buzz going around Zimm, centering on that longterm deal.)

Posted by: Hendo | December 8, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

One innings eater would make sense. It takes some pressure off the bullpen. I agree.

Hendo, I'm not sure about the bump. Where I've been sitting at RFK it's seemed that the people around me have been "too cool" to cheer loudly. It drives me nuts. I know we need the wine and cheese crowd to pay for the expensive seats. I just wish they'd leave their pertensions at home.

Sorry for populist rant. I'll shut up now.

Posted by: #4 | December 8, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Pretensions

The populist rant

Sorry

Posted by: #4 | December 8, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

i think one of the reasons the nats can be *financially* successful in DC is the transient nature of the city. we have fans of so many other NL teams that have moved into the city that the nats will always draw for the big NL visiting teams. while it's not good for us as nats fans to see a bunch of braves/mets/cubs/phillies fans in the stands, it's good for the team financially to know they'll draw well for some of those teams. and they obviously know it, because for single game tickets, many of those teams draw "premium" pricing.

as long as they don't follow the susan o'malley marketing method(TM) of marketing the opposing NBA players that come into town to sell tickets, the premium pricing thing works for me. more money to develop the team (hopefully). spend the braves fans money against them.

again, for those touting pierre, i'll point at his mediocre OBP. for a leadoff guy, couldn't care less about OPS, it's all about OBP and pitches per AB.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 8, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

from mlbtraderumors.com

===
Miguel Olivo will be released soon, so throw him into the catcher market with Michael Barrett.
===

RH bat, but could be a capable backup for reasonable money.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 8, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"Where I've been sitting at RFK it's seemed that the people around me have been 'too cool' to cheer loudly. It drives me nuts. . . ."

Me, too, #4, and no apology needed for the "populist rant." I don't know where you sit, but with the exception of the bouncing stands in '05, downstairs at RFK hasn't been loud and proud. That's one of the reasons I like to sit upstairs.

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

#4 - I'll take the bait on the medical issue.

You might be onto something. There is a real difference in the quality of medical staffs for teams. I'll not say the Nats are bad (it's way beyond my competency), but some teams now are doing very sophisticated measurements. For example, the Red Sox went through this year without very many pitching injuries and apparently are using some metrics for shoulder strength in particular to prevent injuries. You recall they shut down Clay Buchholz, even when he was being groomed as a middle guy for the playoffs, because of tests on his shoulder showing deterioration. Similarly, mid-year they IR'd Schilling for shoulder strengthening. Wakefield they also took a cautious approach, and Beckett has had only one DL stint since he's been in Boston. Schilling also observed that part of Kyle Snyder's problems in KC were do to the hash his surgeon made out of his shoulder, and Snyder did not really stay healthy until he went to the surgeon Schilling used. There are other strong staffs, too, which is why serious surgery on arms and second opinions ares done by a few people now - Dr. Andrews, Dr. Yocum, etc . . .

Posted by: jon | December 8, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"Were do[sic] to" - sorry. Also - IR'd? Football on my mind, even on the Nats blog.

Posted by: jon | December 8, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

The Cincinnati/DC cap was funny, thanks for the link. Their blog discussion had a lot of hate on Jim Bowden, and jokes about how he brings in former Reds players. This is what I wrote to their blog in return:

The cap was genius, and we on the Nationals Journal (through the Washington Post) have been alerted to it. Great stuff.

As for former Reds, rest assured that we are looking at your roster right now like a Sears Christmas Catalog. We considered getting Gary Majewski next, but we decided he is too injury prone.

Posted by: Two more months | December 8, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Two more months:

Owie!

Isn't it bad enough that they have to watch the Reds??

And it's not like they're in Philly, or something!

Posted by: Wigi | December 8, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Hendo:

I sat in 221 at RFK and will have a similar location at Nats Park, although on the 1B side. I like to see things up close. I agree with your comments about the lower bowl though. It's been dead.

Jon:

That's the type of thing I'm talking about. Although I'm not an expert, I do have a fair amount of experience with strength training for baseball players. My understanding is that the Nats pitchers, between starts, lift upper body one day and lower body the next. That's sort of a mindless power lifting regimen, completely inappropriate for a MLB pitcher during the season. I'd love to see Barry get his hands on their training regimens and their surgery track record and compare it to other organizations.

Posted by: #4 | December 8, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

This is one area that I would have thought that the Lerners would have gone right to the top with... and that is, training staff, etc. I would have expected state of the art everything... And I am not saying that they're not... but... that is what I expect.

Posted by: Wigi | December 8, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Take this for what it is - third hand information, but ... my understanding is that choices about which doctors are on the staff have to do with sponsorship payments. In other words, some big practice will pay a team to be "the official team doctor". There's also a significant political aspect to it. The Nats are not the only MLB team in this boat, and remember the current medical regime is a hold over from MLB days. The Lerners may be contractually obligated in some way.

It doesn't explain the team trainers though.

Posted by: #4 | December 8, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Chicago writer Phil Rogers wrote that the Nationals might not tender Luis Ayala a contract. Does that make any sense whatsoever? Luis Ayala didn't have his best year, but he is too valuable to simply let go, isn't he?

http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/cs-071208rogers,1,2861984.column?coll=cs-cubs-headlines

Posted by: Two more months | December 8, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

that sounds pretty stupid. i can't see any reason for the nats to non-tender him at all. especially with relievers making stupid money in FA now.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 8, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I think that maybe Ayala could be a attraction for the Nationals. But still... Overall I agree with you two more months.

Posted by: 1104 | December 8, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

If the Nats were going to non-tender Ayala, I doubt they would have flown him and his brother all the way in from Mexico just the other day to appear at one of the team's premier annual community events, would they?

http://nats320.blogspot.com/2007/12/boys-girls-clubs-of-washington-holiday.html

Perhaps there might be a bit of contract negotiation going on while he's in town in an attempt to avoid going to arbitration. That would make sense, but a non-tender doesn't.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | December 8, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

How much of this is on the players themselves? Don't they all have their own trainers? Patterson was traveling all over North America physician-shopping.

*********
It doesn't explain the team trainers though.
Posted by: #4 | December 8, 2007 01:29 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

that was me, btw

Posted by: cevans | December 8, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Good trainers are like good pitching coaches. Sure performance is up to the players ultimately, but good coaches help a lot.

Posted by: #4 | December 8, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Just out of curiousity...what about the possiblity of trading for Brandon Inge from the Tigers? He's played third base for the last couple of seasons, but he spent the first part of his career as their starting catcher. With the trade for Cabrera, he's out at 3B, and they have Ivan Rodruguez behind the plate, so it appears he and team have agreed to explore the trade route. Inge could be a good veteran presence on the team and at least a short-term solution to the catcher situation. If the Lerners are willing to spend the money on him, it could be a good investment...

Posted by: BG | December 8, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Nice thought, BG. However, according to the Detroit Free Press, Inge has indicated that he doesn't want to be a catcher again:

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071208/SPORTS02/712080366/1050/SPORTS05

So it would take some persuading, to say the least, to persuade Inge away from third base -- a position at which I would guess that the Phillies, among others, would have interest in him.

Posted by: Hendo | December 8, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

plus he hasn't played catcher in 4 years. i don't think catching is quite like riding a bike. i'm sure he could relearn the position, but we would probably be better suited to having a more experienced catcher to mentor flores or another young catcher to groom along side him.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 8, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

anyone know anything about this guy? how old he is?

===
Hiroki Kurota: Remember this name. He's The Next Big Thing among Japanese starting pitchers about to make a splash in the majors. The winter meetings were extremely good to him conversationally, and by Christmas, he should be nestled into the rotation of the Dodgers, Seattle or Arizona for four years and more than $40 million.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 8, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Here's a link to some stats on Hiroki Kuroda, who will be 33 next season:

http://japaneseballplayers.com/en/player.php?id=hkuroda

Posted by: Hendo | December 8, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

33? eh, maybe not really the best target, then. in our current situation, i'd rather go after people who'll be 33 at the end of their contract, not the beginning.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 8, 2007 6:03 PM | Report abuse

1. Trading for Inge would mean Zimm's injury is far, far worse than we've all been lead to believe. And it would confirm to me that JimBo & Co. are nothing but classic D.C. spin doctors who are hiding the truth about Zimm's wrist to avoid hurting ticket sales.

2. JimBo still needs to address some fairly major issues: backup/platoon catcher and left-handed bench strength. Damian Miller would be adequate, but I would prefer a veteran left-handed or switch hitting catcher, like Javier Valentin, Adam Melhuse, or Paul Bako. Granted, you may not get much offense from guys like them but a nice right/left balance would be nice. And, quite frankly, the Nats need more left-handed bats off the bench. Langerhans and the Rule V pick Guzman are the only ones. As another observer pointed out recently, the core of the lineup is righty as well (Zimm, Kearns, Pena, Lastings, Dukes).

Posted by: FS Nats Watcher | December 8, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Am I misreading this or does this comment by JimBo infer that he still believes Flores is not ready for to assume full-time duties in '08?

"Whitney is a Jesus Flores type -- not ready for the Major Leagues, but certainly has tremendous potential."

Plus, this line from a recent Ladson MLB.com story leaves me scratching my head:

"Jesus Flores also is a candidate for the starting job, but the Nationals would rather have him learn his craft in the Minor Leagues next year."

With the trade of Schneider, I thought it was settled - Jesus is the man, no?

Posted by: FS Nats Watcher | December 8, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Frightening thing is that anyone would think that there are MDs who advertise as "team doctors". What is even more frightening is that a Dr. would advertise as the team doctor. Hippocrates would not be happy.

It is interesting that many of the players will go to whatever doctor they are comfortable with. I would wonder who is responsible for paying some of these doctors. What if a player (i.e. JP) goes to a doctor that the team may not approve of? How much, if any, is covered by the MLPA contract? We all know that Dr. James Andrews gets much business from professional athletes bases, at least in part, on reputation. Are there not DC area physicians capable of performing surgery at that level? There used to be a very good neurosurgeon in this area, Bruce Ammerman. He did back surgery on Doug Williams and Doug was able to come back and play in the NFL.

All of which brings me to an oddball, really SABR proper, question. Shouldn't Tommy John be in the Hall of Fame? He was a good pitcher (although not really HOF quality) but actually had a surgical procedure named after him. A procedure that has been key in quite a number of MLB player careers.

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 8, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

"With the trade of Schneider, I thought it was settled - Jesus is the man, no?"

Not necessarily. It depends on what other catcher(s) they are able to get before the season starts. If they pick up a catcher who is a legitimate starter, then they could have that guy start, Moeller be the backup, and Jesus goes to AA or AAA to play every day and gain experience. If that starter should underperform or get hurt or get traded away for prospects at the deadline, Jesus would always be available to be brought up to play on the major league club. Otherwise, he gets a solid year of minor league experience and would be fully ready to take over the starting role in 2009.

Of course, if they are unable to pick up another catcher who is good enough to start, then Jesus could either be the man or part of a platoon in the majors. It's still up in the air at this point. As Kasten, Bowden and Manny all have said, the off-season moves are not over yet. There is more to come before the 25-man roster is finalized.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | December 8, 2007 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Hey, what's up with Charlie Slowes? Has he been signed yet or did one of the parties decide not to? I'd be upset if he didn't return.

Also, the letter to the editor in the Post about Dukes made some good points today (although a life-long Mets fan has to remember the drug-laden 80s and not throw stones) - Her point, which I hope the Lerners and Stan Kasten realize, is that the fan base's loyalty here is new and tenuous. Almost everyone picked some team to root for during baseball's absence. They need to work hard on building that base and tread carefully in nurturing it.

I have not seen the promised regional, even international marketing promised, and I hope the team realizes it cannot take other Dukes-like risks unless it wants sub-2 million attendance again...

Posted by: natswriter | December 8, 2007 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, ...

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 8, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

...if that was a bit too subtle, then let me be more clear...it would be the worst offseason move of the year if the Nats did not bring back Charlie Slowes.

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 8, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Amen!
__________________________________________
.it would be the worst offseason move of the year if the Nats did not bring back Charlie Slowes.

Posted by: natswriter | December 8, 2007 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Dag. I've already promised my season ticket money to the shelter. Now I might not even get Charlie on the radio?

*****************
...if that was a bit too subtle, then let me be more clear...it would be the worst offseason move of the year if the Nats did not bring back Charlie Slowes.

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 8, 2007 10:14 PM

Posted by: CE | December 8, 2007 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Maybe obvious, but when did that ever stop me? It's not whether the lineup hits righthanded, it's how well they hit righthanders. A lefty hitting .150 is still .150.

Posted by: CE | December 8, 2007 11:13 PM | Report abuse

natswatcher:

"Whitney is a Jesus Flores type -- not ready for the Major Leagues, but certainly has tremendous potential."

personally i interpret this to be more of a comparison of flores last year to whitney this year. i.e., flores when they drafted him in the rule 5 wasn't ready for the majors, whitney now, as they drafted him, isn't really ready for the majors.

whether flores is now... only time will tell. i'm sure that, best of circumstances, he'd get another year of full-time starting in the minors. but that may not be how they have to play it.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 9, 2007 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Barry,

I enjoyed the article this morning and I generally love your stuff. But c'mon... All that space and not one word on the catching situation? You covered the rotation, the OF, the corner IF. Catching is the most glaring hole and we get no news. I'd love a follow up at some point.

Posted by: #4 | December 9, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Preach it, brother!

---

...if that was a bit too subtle, then let me be more clear...it would be the worst offseason move of the year if the Nats did not bring back Charlie Slowes.

---

Amen!

Posted by: the choir | December 9, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I enjoyed the Nats story, and on p. 1 no less. Also enjoyed Solomon's salute to Schneider.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 9, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Charlie Slo-owes

clap clap - clap clap clap

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 9, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

glad to see zimmerman is going to embrace a leadership role on the team. dmitri and belliard and kearns go about their business the right way but i am viewing their job firstly as providing a stable environment so our young guys can establish a winning atmosphere.

i would have no problem if we signed two catchers and sent flores down to the minors to work with detwiler and balester and whoever else...

Posted by: longterm | December 9, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Very Nice Barry.....The first really interesting writing I can recall in quite a while.

I am much more up beat on the team because of the discussion of leadership with Zim. All last year I watched some very bad baseball fundamentals and some lazy play. All last year people were saying and writing, how Acta demands the game be played the right way. Well it was not......now for the first time someone is asking about this and someone is taking responsibility for it.

This above all else will help the Nats be a better team. Somebody get in the face of last years, Logan, and Lopez approach, that is pitchers who can not bunt, pitchers who will not throw strikes outfielders throwing to the wrong bases and missing cut off men, sliding 20 feet to early instead of braking up the DB.....etc....

If they address these issues in the club house then the team is MUCH BETTER!


Posted by: JayB | December 9, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Carrying this one forward in defense of Hendo and others:

I agree with cevans re. the lumping of posters in your evaluation, natspo. For that matter, what purpose is served by singling out individual posters and questioning their intelligence (bracing myself for incoming here)?

BTW, Hendo (since you brought him up) is our eye on the minors. If you were not reading this blog during the season, you may not have have had the opportunity to read his many (intelligent) contributions in that vein.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 9, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

potentially relevant to the catcher front is the news this a.m. that Milton Bradley has signed with the Texas Rangers. He'll probably DH until his leg fully heals (at least that is the speculation on the ESPN wire services report). This may affect the ability to trade for Gerald Laird (or my middle infielder candidate, Joaquin Arias).

The Rangers went into December looking for a CF and maybe another OF and had a tradeable catcher in Laird due to Saltalamacchia (and Teagarden in the minors). Seemed like a match to me. With the Bradley signing, it looks like they are set at the corner OF /DH spot (Catalanotto, Nelson Cruz, David Murphy, Jason Botts, Bradley). My guess is they try to get by in CF with David Murphy and Marlon Byrd until Bradley is well enough to move to CF from DH or a corner OF slot.

One thing to think about is whether, if healthy, this might be a destination for Nick Johnson. Right now they have Chris Shelton behind Salty. Nick and Chris Shelton would be a nice platoon and allow Salty to move back to catcher. The only other possible match might be at middle reliever, unless they get a closer and move Otsuka and Wilson back to set up.

Posted by: jon | December 9, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

On the Laird idea, didn't someone mention last week that there are serious questions about Saltalamachia's ability behind the plate? I'm not sure they want to give up Laird if that's the case.

Posted by: #4 | December 9, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"glad to see zimmerman is going to embrace a leadership role on the team."

That exactly what I thought when I dead that article...most of the Expos are gone, and it's Zim's team now.

Posted by: LA Nats | December 9, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Although, it was pretty funny to see Zim calling Dukes and Milledge "kids," when they're all basically the same age.

Posted by: LA Nats | December 9, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

On the Laird idea, didn't someone mention last week that there are serious questions about Saltalamachia's ability behind the plate? I'm not sure they want to give up Laird if that's the case.

Posted by: #4 | December 9,

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

That's my impression...he's not terrible behind the plate, but he's not great. And they want a way to keep his bat in the lineup every day, so he's apt to play first more than catch, so I doubt they get rid of Laird.

Posted by: LA Nats | December 9, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Hope this works better for Zim this year. Last year he seemed (at his own admission) unable to tell Lopez anything (Acta had no success it seems either). Why would we pay $5 Million for Lopez again when we could use that money on Livo or Jennings for a year or two? Is anyone really worried that a Vet pitcher whould block say Lannan from becoming anything more than a young Basick?

Posted by: JayB | December 9, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

The Rangers GM thinks his greatest value is as a full time catcher. They'll try to live with his defensive issues perhaps until Teagarden takes over.

This is from CBSSportline:
"General manager Jon Daniels said Friday that he foresees Saltalamacchia, 22, as a full-time catcher next season. In his first season in the majors, Saltalamacchia split time between catcher and first base. After he joined the Rangers at the trading deadline, he alternated with Gerald Laird behind the plate and with various players at first.
(Updated 12/01/2007).
"Fantasy Analysis
"Saltalamacchia, acquired from the Braves in the Mark Teixeira deal, probably projects as too good a hitter to remain at catcher forever, but that's where the Rangers want him right now. 'Everybody agrees it's in his best interests to catch full-time,' Daniels said. 'His value is greatest as a catcher, so that's where he's going to be.'"

Posted by: jon | December 9, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Jon. That's pretty definitive. Maybe Laird is a possibility.

The reason they'll keep Lopez probably and play him at 2B over Belliard is that he does have that 5 million contract. His trade value is low because of his performance and hefty contract. If they release him, they still owe him 5 mill. If they sit him on the bench, he'll be even more of a drag on the team's attitude than he is now.

They're stuck. This is also a cautionary tale for all those who want to spend big money on FA and long term contracts. Imagine if we had to sit through this sort of situation for two or three more years at another 5 million per year. Yikes!!!

Posted by: #4 | December 9, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Although I have heard and read many veiled references to Felipe Lopez as an attitiude problem or some such, I am frustrated that I do not know the full story. Can anyone take the time to lay it out for me (hard facts preferred, but at this point I feel like I don't even udnerstand the innuendo).

Your kind indulgence is appreciated.

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 9, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Jon. Thanks for that update. That really surprises me, but, hey, if it means the Nats have a shot at Laird, I'll take it.

Posted by: LA Nats | December 9, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Lopez can be non tendered and cut loose without paying a dime. That does not address that waste of $4 Mil he was last year. You have a good point #4 but it also points out the other side of the coin. Jimbo takes risks with players with proven attitude problems and that too can backfire as in Lopez. Acta did not help the situation nor did Young or the Latin Coaching staff. We need to be just as careful with these types of moves as paying for a proven player. I am becoming a fan of over paying for a Free Agent for in order to get them to sign a shorter deal. Jones seems to have gone for it this year.

Posted by: JayB | December 9, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

"Although I have heard and read many veiled references to Felipe Lopez as an attitiude problem or some such, I am frustrated that I do not know the full story. Can anyone take the time to lay it out for me (hard facts preferred, but at this point I feel like I don't even udnerstand the innuendo)."

The problems with Lopez? Lack of hustle, dogging it on the basepaths, head not in the game, basically just phoning it in. Not the kind of thing that can be specifically itemized without going way down into the weeds, but believe me the problem is there. I saw it many times with my own eyes, and I'm sure Manny and JimBo did too.

So JayB asks why we will pay him ~$5M this year for more of the same? Hey, I don't like it any more than you do, JayB, but basically at this point we have no choice. Who is there to play second or short if Guzman or Belliard goes down? In his story this morning, Barry totally neglected to mention the two weakest links in the 2008 lineup, namely catcher and middle infield. Barry's favorite blogger over at Capitol Punishment is on top of it, though, recommending that the Nats get a good-field, poor-hit SS to take over for Guzman at SS. Unfortunately the problem with that idea is that it leaves Lopez at 2nd. Lopez is the real weak link in the infield, and you've got to figure that JimBo has been shopping him around as trade bait this winter, but I guess no one else wants him. They've probably seen what he has to offer just like JayB, Manny, JimBo and myself have, eh? I think our only hope is that Manny turns the 2B/SS positions into a true three men competing for two spots situation, and Lopez realizes it and brings up his game to what he's capable of if his head is in the right place, knowing that this may well be his last chance.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | December 9, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

NatBisquit, I can't recall seeing anything other than veiled references either. I'd also be interested in the rest of the story (assuming that there is anything more to it).

---

Although I have heard and read many veiled references to Felipe Lopez as an attitiude problem or some such, I am frustrated that I do not know the full story. Can anyone take the time to lay it out for me (hard facts preferred, but at this point I feel like I don't even udnerstand the innuendo).

Your kind indulgence is appreciated.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 9, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

isn't felipe lopez a free agent after this season. i wouldn't be surprised if he has a huge year. especially if he can stay at 2b. new stadium and exciting atomosphere w/ career as a full-time starter on the line might make him a type A free agent next year. i say don't trade him. a better offense can do wonders for anybody's morale...

Posted by: longterm | December 9, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I can agree that IF Acta does not give him the job but rather he earns it keeping Lopez could be our best choice.

Still, I do not trust Acta when it comes to the hustle, head in the game type issues Acta has shown he is not willing to make the tough decisions needed and that he is very soft on Logan, Lopez, Fick Church et al last year. Sure he sat Church down for a day and Lopez to for a while but time and time again he makes excuses for poor fundamentals and lazy play.

Not sure if this is going to change or that is who Acta is. If this is who he is then Lord help us from Dukes and Millidge types!

Posted by: JayB | December 9, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

PAY CHARLIE WHAT HE WANTS - MULTI-YEAR!!! YOU OWN TYSON'S CORNER FOR GOD'S SAKE AND CHARLIE IS OUR JON MILLER!

Posted by: flynnie | December 9, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm afraid that The Plan includes only a Big 1984-Style Don Sutton Head talking about pitching.

Posted by: flynnie | December 9, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

anyone else sick of these rachel ray dunkin donut commercials?

Posted by: longterm | December 9, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

One of the tough things about moving for Laird right now is that he is also in Coco Crisp discussions. If the Red Sox do not make the deal for Santana / haren, then they may target Laird and CJ Wilson. But Laird is someone to watch for.

As for Lopez, he can be cut for no money - just don't offer him arbitration. On Capital Punishment, Chris makes the case for acquiring a superior defensive shortstop. I suggested cutting Lopez and acquiring Juan Uribe. The problem is that Guzman then becomes a $4.2 million bench player. Essentially, you are swapping the $5 million for Lopez on the bench for the same money in Guzman on the bench. I am still in favor of looking for an AA / AAA shortstop who can take over for Guzman mid-year (either because CG is good and gets traded or because he reverts to his pre-2007 form and needs to be replaced). You've heard me mention Joaquin Arias on TX, too?

Posted by: jon | December 9, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Some combination of Laird/Miller/Moeller would probably be OK for the Nats. Though I'd like to see Flores in the majors in '08. Seems like he's earned it.

More Nats/Rangers-related news: The Rangers' signing of Milton Bradley means JimBo can't go for the outfield of second chances: Milledge, Dukes, Bradley. After the Dukes trade, I thought for sure Bradley would be the latest addition to the Nats.

Posted by: FS Nats Watcher | December 9, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

"Still, I do not trust Acta when it comes to the hustle, head in the game type issues Acta has shown he is not willing to make the tough decisions needed and that he is very soft on Logan, Lopez, Fick Church et al last year. Sure he sat Church down for a day and Lopez to for a while but time and time again he makes excuses for poor fundamentals and lazy play."

Well, JayB, I have to say that I completely disagree on your reading of Manny. I don't think anyone who's ever seen the look on Manny's face as he's talking to a player who just failed to hustle can argue that he makes excuses. And, you know, after he benched Church ONCE, I didn't see him trot out a pop fly the rest of the season.

Posted by: Atlanta | December 9, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I agree that he knows and sees the issues.

His comments in the media about "these things happen, and they are young and learning" are a far cry from Frank for sure but what is the real issue is he still keep playing Lopez day in and day out hoping things would change. In the end nothing he did was effective and that is the Red Flag to me. Now we as filling our roster these types and thinking Acta and Young will fix the problem somehow.

Posted by: JayB | December 9, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I don't see the Nats filling their roster with "these types". Milledge has some issues, but I don't think playing hard is one of them. I think the same is true of Dukes. If anything I believe he plays too emotionally. I'm not saying that their may not be issues, but I do think both of them will get after it.

Posted by: #4 | December 9, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate the efforts made so far to crystalize what the Lopez issues are. If that's all there is, then I'm not ready to throw him under the bus yet. He hit 20+ homers in 2005, stole 40 bases in 2006, then was much less productive in 2007. He has never hit for a high average, but should be able to maintain a .260+ with a .340+ OBP. Neither are great, but both could be acceptable if the power and speed accompany them.

I think the charge that Acta was unwilling to bench Lopez is a little unfair. Who was he going to play instead? Jiminez? Pleaseee. Frank Robinson was also criticized for sticking with Guzman. In both cases they played the best players they had available and tried to coach them back into productivity.

I certainly was critical of Lopez' performance at times last year. He was totally lost at the plate for long stretches and his throwing was very eratic. He routinely delivered the ball to Young below the knees. (Whereas Guzman made it much easier of DY). But every so often FLop just let loose with a cannon shot. Of course Zimm did too. FLop appeared to move more than Guzman, but Guzman was more reliable on the balls that he got too. IMO.

If anyone knows more about FLop's issues, I'm still interested.

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 9, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the kind words, natsfan1a, and also to cevans for the differentiation (both in re the earlier post of natspo, who is certainly entitled to his or her opinion).

Posted by: Hendo | December 9, 2007 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I think that the discussion about Felipe Lopez has turned into more than it actually is. I think his 2007 season could possibly be explained more or less by the explanations we've been given... that he struggled, and then brooded about it in public... And really, all we're really talking about is his hitting... his defense wasn't bad... not stellar, but not bad. Remember that he plays next to a guy that basically sucks everything in his zone right into his glove... so, average and passable doesn't get noticed the way it might otherwise.

He was better both defensively and offensively when playing second.

Remember, a year ago, we were all over Guzman, not wanting to forget about his 2005 season... but he hit .300, and was going to be a triples machine when he got hurt.

If Lopez and Guzman do what they're supposed to do, then we'll be happy, I think... I've been down on the middle infield situation because there's no prospects in the system, and there are a lot of unknowns about how it will turn out. But I am not ready to label Lopez a malcontent or a problem.

Posted by: Wigi | December 9, 2007 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Well said, Wigi. While we're on the subject of Guzman, remember that -- besides his poor batting line, and no doubt because of it -- he was not exactly Mr. Happy in 2005. As it turned out, he had a torn labrum and poor vision. Once those were fixed, it was as if he'd been reinvented.

Not that Lopez' situation is necessarily similar. Just to point out that there can be more than one reason to brood.

Posted by: Hendo | December 9, 2007 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Lopez has burned his bridges on three teams so far.

While Wigi has it right about the reason last year (sulking over poor performance) what Wigi did not identify is the lack of heart and effort he showed once he got in his funk. He would not dive for balls, he would not hustle for pop ups out to LF or CF. He would not hustle down the line to beat out a rally killing DP. He would not slide hard to break up DP's. In short showed he did not care at all about his teammates or team. Players have bad years, Kearns did but at least he tried to limit the harm on his teammates by working hard. Lopez sulked and further hurt the team. I have no doubt that Zim's comments in today's Barry writing were about Lopez. I think Acta showed poor leadership to allow this to go on and on. Again, this is not new behaviors. He did this in his first two teams as well. I suspect that Jimbo was behind the pressure to play him and I think Acta should have said no, this is my call and been proactive. Now we are just sitting here hoping someone will take him off our hands.

Posted by: JayB | December 9, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

uh, yeah. I preferred the ones with the blue-collar types and anti-Starbucks lyrics.

---

anyone else sick of these rachel ray dunkin donut commercials?

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 9, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

thing is, as NatBisquit said, what was the alternative to lopez last year? jiminez? even sulking, brooding, not-giving-it-all lopez was more effective than jiminez. and there really wasn't another option at SS.

sadly, we're in the same boat for next year so far as well. if anything happens to guzzie, it's lopez at short, period. our utility guys don't play SS. the only guys on the roster who do are guzzie and flopez.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 9, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

I wish they'd bring Fred the Baker back: "Time to make the donuts!" Great commercial. Alas, the actor who played him died in 2005.

----

uh, yeah. I preferred the ones with the blue-collar types and anti-Starbucks lyrics.

---

anyone else sick of these rachel ray dunkin donut commercials?

Posted by: FS Nats Watcher | December 9, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

i know it's been brought up before, but what about bill hall? the brewers are looking to move him, and the dodgers were said to be interested in acquiring him and possibly moving him back to the infield.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 9, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

JayB:

What you're talking about is YOUR PERCEPTION of his play. I am not convinced that he was lacking the hustle you claim. One thing I've noticed... when you see a guy batting, and you see that intense look on his face, when he's a .240 hitter he's brooding and angry, and when he's a .290 hitter, he's concentrating.

Once you're predisposed to belive that Lopez is phoning it in, then you see it everywhere. Unless you know him personally and spend time in the clubhouse yourself, there just isn't information publically available that supports your conclusion.

It's your perception... and you don't make personnel decisions based on a fan's perception.

What I find most frustrating about the situation is that he hit poorly enough last season that he's not tradeable. If he meets reasonable expectations this season, I will be more than happy, because I expect an above-average player.

Posted by: Wigi | December 9, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Well at least your consistent. You feel Lopez should be cut, believe Acta has demonstrated poor leadership, and was pressured by Bowden to keep Lopez in the lineup.

I'll disagree on all three. Lopez -- even with a raise -- is an asset. Keep him. The team that signed DY, Batista, and Beliard last year. And, traded for Dukes this year seems unlikely to me to cut an asset like Lopez. Especially since he can play two positions, switch hit, and has a hot wife (OK that last one was just for fun). Nor should they. Keep him or trade him, but don't give him away.

I also heard earlier this week that Crasnick was reporting that the Nats might not tender Ayala. Same deal there. He's an asset. If we don't tender him I would guess it we had a bad medical report. Seems highly unlikely they cut anyone they can control.

With regard to Bowden pressuring him to keep Lopez in the lineup ... I doubt any pressure was needed. After Guzman went down again, his only option was Jiminez. Before Guzman went down, Lopez was producing and leading off. Beliard was more valuable as a bench player. Acta seemed to be acting logically to me.

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 9, 2007 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Hey Natsfan1A, are you bracing yourself? Interesting that I've made many blogs, under another name before. This is the first one that anybody has commented on. But you see, I'm an old man who was at the Expo's first game in '69 and at their first game at Olympic Stadium. Unfortunately, I can't shake the team and I can guarantee you I have as much knowledge as Hendo about our minor league system. That's what keeps me going. It's certainly not because they're in Washington.
Generally, I'm not a disser, (Is that a word?)But hey, thanks for noticing. I'm going to take my bat and go home. I'll stick to reading the blogs , not writing them. I'm only Canadian,eh!

Posted by: Natspo | December 9, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Wigi....You have your view I have mine. Mine is based on a life time of loving the game of baseball. Mine is based on playing SS and 2nd Base from LL through Major College as well as Coaching for and then Umpiring for awhile at a high level. I know what I see, if you don't see it then that's fine but it is there for a trained eye, if you do not have it then ask one you trust.

Posted by: JayB | December 9, 2007 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Also, did you see his kids sing him happy birthday on TV last year? Really, I'm up for keeping him, just so I get a chance to see that again when he turns 28.

"Especially since he can play two positions, switch hit, and has a hot wife (OK that last one was just for fun). "

Posted by: Anonymous | December 9, 2007 7:24 PM | Report abuse

I did see his wife and kids and if he can not be happy and play hard with all that and $4 Mil then it is just strike 3 in my book.

Posted by: JayB | December 9, 2007 7:30 PM | Report abuse

don't they pretty much all have hot wives and make $4 mil a year?

not that it matters much but i'm just wondering, how long does bowden's contract run?

i still like the idea of milledge hitting second and lopez leading off or vice versa.

milledge
lopez
zimmerman
meat hook
kearns
wily mo/dukes
flores
guzman

it's nice to finally wonder how to fit the extra bat in the lineup...

Posted by: longterm | December 9, 2007 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Lopez vs. Jimenez in '07, for the record:

Lopez -- 671 PA, .245 BA, .308 OBP, .352 SLG
Jimenez -- 128 PA, .245 BA, .379 OBP, .373 SLG

Whether Jimenez could have kept up such numbers over a full season is open to question. He did start off badly, but improved smartly after the ASB, and especially in September. His defense at SS was suspect as well, but he did all right at 2B.

At any rate, he was far from a bum, at least over a limited number of appearances.

Posted by: Hendo | December 9, 2007 8:02 PM | Report abuse

seems jiminez was very streaky last year.

OBP SLG OPS AVG
.188 .071 .259 .071 (apr) 15ab
.440 .350 .790 .300 (jul) 20ab
.324 .154 .477 .115 (aug) 26ab
.489 .684 1.173 .395 (sept) 38ab

one difference between them is that lopez has produced over a full season before, a few times. jiminez had one full season similar to lopez's 06 season, and a lot of partial seasons that didn't necessarily show promise. nobody's bothered to pick him up since he was left off the roster, we know that wouldn't happen with flopez.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 9, 2007 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Natspo, I would not question your level of knowledge of or commitment to the team (or that of any other poster for that matter). We once had a poster on this blog who was also an Expos fan. He was a valued contributor but left the blog in part, I believe, because of personal attacks that were made on him by an anonymous poster. I would not want to see something like that happen again, hence my reaction to your comments on the perceived intelligence of individual posters. Please don't take your bat and go home (but try to play nice, perhaps? ;-) ).

---

Hey Natsfan1A, are you bracing yourself? Interesting that I've made many blogs, under another name before. This is the first one that anybody has commented on. But you see, I'm an old man who was at the Expo's first game in '69 and at their first game at Olympic Stadium. Unfortunately, I can't shake the team and I can guarantee you I have as much knowledge as Hendo about our minor league system. That's what keeps me going. It's certainly not because they're in Washington.
Generally, I'm not a disser, (Is that a word?)But hey, thanks for noticing. I'm going to take my bat and go home. I'll stick to reading the blogs , not writing them. I'm only Canadian,eh!

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 9, 2007 9:23 PM | Report abuse

"What you're talking about is YOUR PERCEPTION of his play. I am not convinced that he was lacking the hustle you claim. One thing I've noticed... when you see a guy batting, and you see that intense look on his face, when he's a .240 hitter he's brooding and angry, and when he's a .290 hitter, he's concentrating."

Well, I'm not JayB, and I don't have JayB's experience playing the game (hell, I was a fat little kid who got stuck out in RF for the mandatory one inning we all had to play in Little League) but even I saw the things that JayB did about Lopez. No hustle on the basepaths, starting slides 20 feet too soon, stuff like that. And I wasn't even bending over backwards looking for it, either. The lack of hustle and failure to put the team first was there, plain and simple.

But I do have to part with JayB when he blames Manny Acta for putting up with Lopez's lack of performance. He really had no choice in the matter with Guzman hurt most of the season. How many times could he have yanked Lopez symbolically, leaving Jiminez in there with no one to back HIM up? That would have hurt the team even more than a half-assed effort from Lopez. It was reported at one point that Manny had a 45-minute private session with Lopez, and even that seems not to have made much difference in his play. There's only so much a manager can do, even if he's a hard-ass. If it ain't reaching the player, it ain't reaching the player.

This is one example, though, of how things are affected by a lack of strong media coverage of the team. In a real baseball market, the press would have been all over Lopez. However, here the Post virtually avoided the issue. Although media harping on a particular player's deficiencies is not always a good thing, sometimes it is, and in this case I think it would have been. If nothing else, it would have alerted fans to the problem, since it seems that many were and still are unaware of it. Obviously whatever Manny and the team were doing to try to influence Lopez to improve was not working, so external pressure couldn't have made things any worse and might even have helped. Players who are making $4M a year and will get a raise from arbitration even after a poor year need to hear and learn from all quarters that this situation is not acceptable.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | December 9, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

It's the Post's Fault!
Man, I need a catchphrase of my own.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kt_iv3s41Q0

Posted by: CE | December 9, 2007 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Getting a little rowdy in here. What's with all the "I've got more street cred than you" talk? Just for the record, all my knowledge is based on little league, sandlot, softball leagues, reading, television, and going to the games. I have probably had a beer at more games than I've played in. Oh, and my baseball card collection was awesome when I was 12 years old.

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 9, 2007 10:16 PM | Report abuse

I am not saying that his play didn't leave something to be desired. I am not even saying that it didn't look like he wasn't hustling. What I am saying is that we don't know why it looks the way it does, and short of being in the clubhouse, we can't know.

Not that I think that Jose Guillen is a great example to use for anything, but in 2005, a lot of people griped about his offense, and that, coupled with his reputation for fireworks led people to believe that he had somewhat of an attitude problem. However, we found out that he had some nagging injuries (and on the other side, apparently was taking HGH) that affected his play.

We don't know why Lopez is the way he is. I am right with you with what it looks like, but people are assigning motives to what we see, and we just are not in a position to know.

There's nothing worse to me than a professional getting paid millions of dollars and phoning it in. I have NO patience for it. But we don't have evidence of that. There MIGHT be another explanation.

Posted by: Wigi | December 9, 2007 10:23 PM | Report abuse

When has there ever been a time of the media curing a player of an attitude problem? Not in my lifetime.

When has the media cured a player of a batting slump? I would take my chances with voodoo charms first.

Posted by: Dale | December 10, 2007 6:12 AM | Report abuse

You do also have to take into account the fact that lopez was learning a new position for half of last year. Doing something like that requires additional practice time and time spent in the film room that would normally be spent in the cages. Early in the season his defense was moderate (at 2B) and his offense was struggling. I think keeping him at one position (if that's possible) and keeping him out of the leadoff spot would work wonders. As for the brooding, he hit .240 and had arguably the worst year of his career. Some guys are just bad at handling struggles and he may be one of them. Not saying its a good attribute, but maybe if he can get hot and have a decent 2008 then the brooding and slacking could just disappear. Either way, i'd try to give him a chance to raise his trade stock, right now we'd have trouble getting a fungo bat and some pine tar for him.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | December 10, 2007 6:27 AM | Report abuse

Wigi...you may be right, he could have sent an Email instead of calling each day.

Honestly, you are very correct we do not really know why (thanks to missing Washington Post Investigative writer) but it is a pattern with him. He is soon to be on his 4th team (I hope) and I have seen players hustle through injuries and deaths in the family so......

As far as Acta, I may be too hard on him but boy it would have been nice to use this time last year to sit Lopez and move Zimm to SS to see if we did have Cal type options. If ever we had a chance to experiment it was last year. IF they had spent some money last year of DeRosa instead of Fick and Tony B (like they are with Boone this year to their credit), then we would have had an infield of Zimm at SS, and DeRosa at 3rd for the last 6 weeks of the season.....Nice look eh?

Posted by: JayB | December 10, 2007 6:33 AM | Report abuse

"boy it would have been nice to use this time last year to sit Lopez and move Zimm to SS to see if we did have Cal type options."

You know, this idea of moving Zimm to SS seems to pop up fairly often on these various Nats forums. But every quote I've ever seen from anyone related to the team - Bowden, Acta, Zimmerman himself - has adamantly said that there is no way Zimmerman will be moving to SS. He is the third baseman, plain and simple. There's a better chance of seeing Dmitri Young in the outfield than there is of seeing Zimmerman at SS. And there was no way in hell Dmitri would have been playing LF even before they acquired Dukes and Milledge. So any plan that anyone advances about acquiring some player that's built around moving Zimmerman to SS is a non-starter. Don't even waste your time dreaming it up, because it ain't never gonna happen.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | December 10, 2007 7:29 AM | Report abuse

419 is exactly right about Zim moving to SS. There are no guarantees that Zim will want to sign here long term. If the Nats want to make sure he doesn't, they'll jam a position change down his throat.

On Lopez, I seem to remember him leaving the club last year to deal with personal problems. I also seem to remember hearing that his childhood story ranks up there with the worst you'll hear. I think we're talking about a guy who has a lot of distractions in his life. Some are able to compartmentalize those, others cannot. I think he may be in the latter category. The fact that Manny Acta, a manager who is universally praised in MLB for his ability to create a positive atmosphere, couldn't get through to him makes me worry that he might be a lost cause. It would be a tragic waste of talent.

Posted by: #4 | December 10, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

This is a "distirct of baseball" entry which addresses the issue above. You have to scroll down a little to read it.

http://www.districtofbaseball.com/aggregator/sources/23?page=2

Posted by: #4 | December 10, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Didn't Barry insinuate that Lopez was having some trouble with his marriage to his really hot wife last year?

Regardless - or "Irregardless" if you prefer, since spellchecker is not marking that wrong though it does mark "spellchecker" as wrong - all your eyes and experience make me laugh. Ha-ha-ha! When you manage a baseball team by your "eye" or your "gut" or your "instinct", you end up crying because Matt LeCroy allowed the Astros to steal seven bases on him and committed two throwing errors and had to be replaced mid-inning by Robert Fick.

Now I love Frank Robinson (and LeCroy was just about as cool as can be about it, he said his kids ripped on him pretty hard), but that style of running a team burns out your bullpen and leads to stunning streaks followed by spectacular collapses (N.B., not spectacular streaks and stunning collapses...). The real way to make these decisions is to look at a player's career averages and recall that the first rule of statistics in baseball is that everyone and every team will eventually regress to the mean.

Lopez's career numbers are simply not as bad as his last year was. And that's NOT because of GABP, either, since in 71 games as a National in 2006 he batted .281 and had an on-base average of .362 (almost 60 points higher than 2007!). Now those numbers were probably too high for him, but we can certainly expect him to boost his numbers next season.

The team that wants Lopez now is one that isn't planning on being in contention next year, but has a young team that it's trying to groom with no major league-ready middle infield prospects that can afford to take a gamble at the position on a journeyman starter who underperformed last year. Where can we find one of those?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 10, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

#4, to give credit where credit is due, what you linked to actually comes from the Nats320 blog via District of Baseball. But indeed it is very relevant to this discussion.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | December 10, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

New post up. Yay!

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 10, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see some of the posts speculating about the adequacy of the trainers and medical staff of the Nats.

First off, there are NO first-class orthopedic hospitals or orthopedic surgeons in D.C. It is not a mecca for top talent, never has been. So for the best you go to Dr. Andrews or to folks in the northeast or midwest.

I haven't seen reports of any visits by Zim, Johnson, or others to anyone really good. So the top baseball talent submits to second-best medical treatment, or worse. Why this is, I cannot say, although I do know the impulse to label ordinary hometown talent in no matter what field as "the best" is ingrained in many Washingtonians. The Washington Opera is a good example, and the National Symphony.

Maybe that's the Lerners'take also. If so, look out.

With regard to the Red Sox and the attention given to their pitchers, I believe a simple comparison of the IQs of the owners and management of the two teams would disclose a huge discrepancy, one not in favor of the Nats. This could explain the difference in approaches to medical problems.

Posted by: JohnR(VA) | December 10, 2007 7:45 PM | Report abuse

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