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The Off Day

The only Nationals required to come to Space Coast Stadium today are Jason Bergmann, whose turn it is to throw, and Paul Lo Duca, who will be catching Bergmann in a minor league game. The rest of them are off -- some participating in the team's charity golf tournament (Manny Acta among them), others heading to their homes in Florida, others just laying low in Melbourne/Viera (even better).

I, however, will be at Space Coast Stadium within the hour, and at 1 p.m. I will chat from there. Perhaps one of the topics we'll discuss would be Felipe Lopez, Ronnie Belliard and the situation at second base. I can't say enough about the spring Belliard is having, and Lopez is right about his stats -- his at-bats are a bit better than his average shows.

(One thing about the first paragraph of that story: "Barring a trade -- and with General Manager Jim Bowden at the controls, that is never a good idea -- the Washington Nationals have three players for two positions in the middle infield." The never a good idea part: That referred to the notion that with Bowden around, trades are always possible. It didn't refer to Bowden's ability to make quality trades. Someone pointed out to me this morning that could've been confusing. Moving on.)

Tim Redding, meanwhile, is making a public pitch to be the Opening Day starter. There's still time to juggle -- a tiny bit of time -- but right now Odalis Perez is scheduled for that day.

You might want to discuss the second base situation more here, and vote in this poll:

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 19, 2008; 7:40 AM ET
 
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Comments

I think the Nats should take a long look at if they think Lopez will be a part of their future. If they think they might want to, and could, sign him after this year -- then they really ought to start him all year to get another good look and show confidence. Otherwise, what is the point? If they have no desire to keep him anyway, then who cares if he plays- and play Belliard. Meanwhile, the bench is much better off with Belliard and Young as its top 2 hitters. And we all remember last year - it's just a matter of time before injuries happen.

Posted by: GoNats | March 19, 2008 8:17 AM | Report abuse

I think trading Lopez and his 4.9 mil salary would be beneficial to the club. Start Belly, B Boone as backup.

Posted by: G-town | March 19, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Start Belliard.

Reward the hot hitter, the good team player, the good attitude. In the future there will be other logjam situations as the talent level improves. By starting Belliard you demonstrate to others what it takes to win a starting position.

By the same reasoning I have serious misgivings if Odalis Perez is awarded the O.D. starting position. There is too much symbolism in this event to let it play out strictly by rotation. Redding, based on last year's starts and this spring's performance deserves the recognition. Chico seems to have pitched himself out of the starting rotation at the moment. Bergman would be my second choice.

Posted by: Dale | March 19, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

As much as I enjoyed watching fLop play at the beginning of last year, i did not enjoy watching him play at the end last year. There's a reason I call him fLop. NEvertheless he has a halfway decent and not at all over priced upside, which i think will make him good trade bait. In my opinion Belliard is the man! last year ha came to play and when he got his chance he made the case that he should be the starter. The only reason i would hesitate to trade fLop is to back up Christian Glassman WHEN he gets injured.

Posted by: Dave-O | March 19, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Belliard is the obvious choice. How much longer does the FLop project go on? He's had ample opportunity and his attitude sucks.

Position battles are over as far as I'm concerned. Guzzie, Belliard, and Johnson at First. Dump Lopez off in Baltimore. Love the meathook, but with his condition he's not ready, and what are the chances Johnson makes even 120 starts. Let DY get healthy and be a fantastic bat off the bench.

Outfield: Dukes in left till Wily Mo returns. Then Mackowiak and Langerhans off the bench. For defensive purposes. Maxwell would be great to watch him develop on the big club, though he needs the at bats in either Harrisburg or Columbus.

Rotation: That will be a mess until the young guys are ready to come up.

Everything looks good for the most part.

Posted by: FFNatsfan11 | March 19, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Belliard is the obvious choice. How much longer does the FLop project go on? He's had ample opportunity and his attitude sucks.

Position battles are over as far as I'm concerned. Guzzie, Belliard, and Johnson at First. Dump Lopez off in Baltimore. Love the meathook, but with his condition he's not ready, and what are the chances Johnson makes even 120 starts. Let DY get healthy and be a fantastic bat off the bench.

Outfield: Dukes in left till Wily Mo returns. Then Mackowiak and Langerhans off the bench. For defensive purposes. Maxwell would be great to watch him develop on the big club, though he needs the at bats in either Harrisburg or Columbus.

Rotation: That will be a mess until the young guys are ready to come up.

Everything looks good for the most part.

Posted by: FFNatsfan11 | March 19, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

The leadoff hitter will need to come from either 2nd or SS. Lopez will never be a true leadoff - his cost v. production is high - his attitude is usually in question. Trade him now or carry for a few weeks if his value might increase. Play Belliard, let Boone go to extended Spring Training to get his batting eye back. Orr is the backup, unless Aaron Boone can fill that role, which would open a roster spot for Mackowiak or Harris.

Posted by: NatsWin85 | March 19, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Right now i think you have to go with Guzman and Lopez in the middle to start off the season. All i hear is that the best trade value of the three comes from belliard. None of these players is a long term solution (hence the indecision in the first place) so why not play the two with lower market values and let them raise their stock. If Lopez and/or Guz starts out hot then one or both can be traded for minor league pitching (i'd be surprised if it was anything else) or, if we cant find trade partners, they may be able to play themselves into compensatory draft picks by the end of the year. Belliard has said the wouldn't mind coming off the bench and I'm sure there will be a trade or injury in there before stan can say "Take Metro."

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | March 19, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Lopez is to be commended for his desire to start and his focus on earning the job. Until he does so, though, he sits and looks for an opportunity to grab the position. This is how teams improve. Nice the Nats have some issues like this. Too bad we don't have the same problem at first or the outfeild where we might have hoped battles would emerge.

Posted by: this is tough? | March 19, 2008 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Belliard should start, no question about it. I can't believe the team is still in doubt about this. My guess is that JimBow and his blackberry are closely monitoring anyone with interest in fLop.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | March 19, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Dale - Redding for opening day pitcher. He proved it yesterday with a decent performance against Detroit. Bergmann is the second choice.

Could the opening day slot have been offered to Perez as an inducement to sign?

Posted by: NatsWin85 | March 19, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

NatsWin85 makes a very good point when he says that leadoff is going to have to come from 2nd or ss (although i wouldnt be surprised to see milliadge leading off by the end of the year out of necessity). What he neglects to mention are Guzman's career .302 obp (Last season was his only above .350) and declining speed. Lopez however has a .328 obp with 3 seasons in a row over .350 before his less then stellar 2007. Lopez also has far superior speed. If you believe that Guzman is a .330 hitter then by all means give him the leadoff role, but to me the best shot at a leadoff man in the organization right now is probably lopez.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | March 19, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Slight correction:

Lopez only had 2 seasons above .350, he was however, above .350 in Cinci and in Washington after he got traded in 2006.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | March 19, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

If Manny seriously starts Felipe over Belliard just because Belliard's so easy going, then he's going to come off as incredibly inconsistent and just greasing the squeaky wheel.

Manny has been saying from day-one of ST that so-and-so needs to EARN his place in the starting rotation, EARN his place in the lineup, etc. Belliard has done nothing BUT earn his place.

On the other hand, I give Manny a lot of credit for his patience and complete belief in his players. He has given all his slumping hitters, game-blowing closers, and borderline starters every benefit of the doubt, which I'm sure contributes in no small part to this team's great character.

It would be a shame to see Belliard benched because he has so clearly earned a starting position. But I think I would understand if Manny gave Felipe another chance.

Dale, I'm glad to hear someone else has misgivings about Perez starting Opening Day. I don't think there's enough outrage in this forum in that regard.

It is absolutely a symbolic day and absolutely should come from a home-grown pitcher. It's the Braves. And John Smoltz. On national tv. I wish they'd take a chance on Hill and let him rest a little longer after Opening Day. Barring Hill, Redding is my next choice, then Bergmann. All over Perez.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 19, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I understand people's misgivings about Felipe's attitude. Last year he appeared to be lackadaisical. People probably remember in my criticism of the trade that brought him here - still I think one of the most overrated moves Bowden's ever made - that I've questioned his ability to be productive outside of the Cincy bandbox. Having said that, I don't think anything he's done this spring should be seen as a product of a "bad attitude". Manny has praised his work ethic. Saying that he doesn't want to sit on the bench is hardly surprising, particularly given that it's his contract year and he needs 450 ABs or so to help him negotiate his next contract. I see that as a guy wanting badly to play. What's wrong with that?

So, where does that leave us? Well the bottom line is that if one removes the questions about his attitude, the Nats are a better team with him than without him. There is no way he brings anything close to equal value in a trade. It's a classic sell low situation. He's a more athletic and capable back up than Bret Boone. He's the only guy on the roster who can capably play SS if Guzman gets hurt. The Nats have no one in the organization that is major league ready to do that. Let's also not turn Guzman and Belliard into Tinker and Evers. If memory serves, Guzman was perhaps the most reviled player in the organization 12 months ago. Belliard is an average MLB 2B at best. He's a great guy to have on the roster because of his intangibles, but not an all-star. Felipe was in 2005. Lastly, I predict that he will accept his bench role and play hard if he is on the roster. If he sulks, acts like a jerk, and is unproductive, he will cost himself millions of dollars on his next contract.

It's spring training folks. Let this play out for a couple of months.

Posted by: #4 | March 19, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

The level of competition is a good sign of our improvement. I hope this all pales in comparison to next year's position fights. Despite Felipe playing better now than last year, Belliard has won the job. I would hold onto Guz, Belly & FLop at least at the beginning. Too valuable.

I'm a bit apprehensive about ODalis on OD. Has he pitched enough this spring to justify it? I'd really like them to realign it to have Redding throw the first pitch at Nats Park. Concerning our problem starters I'm much more enthused about Hill than JP. Not ruling him out, but I think its gonna be a bit tough to watch if he's gonna use the regular season to build up his strength and velocity.

All that said - I'm still very psyched to get this ball rolling!

Posted by: Bazz | March 19, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Dmitri and Nick have - to date - been perfeect models for how to compete for a position as teammates. They say they both want to start (good), they say they are not in competition against each other (inference that they are competing against themselves), they refuse to say anything comparitive about each other.

Belliard also has a good approach saying that he'll do whatever he is asked.

Lopez didn't really do anything wrong except to add a little more emphasis to his desire to start than was perhaps required. He is supposed to want to start. He is supposed to be unhappy not starting. He just isn't suppposed to go public with his unhappiness. It creates the impression that he is selfish. That he must start or he will be a bad attitude. He did not say that, but because of his past and his emphasis we are left with that concern.

One of the signs of an improving team is that you have more players who are unhappy being role players. We are entering a new phase here with the Nationals. LeCroy, Batista, and Baerga are gone. There are very few players making this team who could not start for an extended period.

Lopez needs to demostrate results to earn the position, but if he loses the assignment to another, we should not necessarily trade him away. A little competition does not mean bad chemistry. And while chemistry is strongly desireable, talent is even more important. Without talent, chemistry is just a nice feature article in the Sunday paper.

Posted by: NatBisquit | March 19, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Innings 1-3: Hill
Innings 4-6: Redding

Posted by: NatsWin85 | March 19, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I understand and even share some of the apprehension about Perez starting come Opening day. I understand the desire to see a home grown Nat's pitcher throw that first pitch and bring in the first curly W in the new park. As NatsNut said OD is a "symbolic" day.

Then again, what is more symbolic of this team then a former bright player with a promising future (think the expos former farm system success and nearly every player on this lovable scrapheap team) overcoming doubt to pitch the most important game so far in the team's history in their new city? How is Perez's story not symbolic of this entire franchise? Wouldn't this be a great story, along the same line's as DY's redemption story last year? Could Perez even be this years Comeback POY?

More importantly, who gives the Nats the best chance to win? Thanks to MASN and the fact that I don't live anywhere near Viera I can't answer that question. I assume however that the people who can answer it are looking at that, and only that as the qualification for a pitcher this season. As nice of a story as it would be to have a true Nat like Redding be this year's opening day starter, Perez is this year's Tim Redding. I say if he gives us the best chance for the Nats to be leading the NL east come daybreak of March 31 then give him the ball. Wouldn't THAT be a great story?

Also, are you guys really begging for Guzman, he of the mendoza line battle in 2005 and the non-existent 2006 to be the LEADOFF MAN for the entire season?!? Seriously, think about it for a second and then get back to me.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | March 19, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I don't think the "I gotta start" (AKA "Second Division Regular") attitude correlates with performance, one way or the other, but if it does, it probably isn't good. Play the guy who's playing best. If the Cubs or O's get Lopez cheap because of it, s'okay, we still have Belliard this year, which is all we have for Lopez, who, like Guzman, is most likely elsewhere in 2009. Sufficient unto the day ...

Posted by: ce | March 19, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

When Bowden signed Belliard to the extension, he pointed out that it made him more marketable. I think this is proving to be true. Follow up a .290 season with a great spring and you have a bargain 2B for two years at $1.75 million per.

I agree with #4 - I don't think Lopez has an attitude problem. The thing is, at least according to Ladson, other teams perceive he does. And honestly, you don't need to rely on rumors to see that he's struggling at the plate. With all of this, and costing nearly $5 million for just one season, he's untradable.

If this is about building a championship-caliber team, you trade Belliard and go with Lopez. If it's about putting a competitive team on the field, you go with Belly.

I'm going to be a Belliard fan for a long time, regardless of where he plays. The guy is a professional. But you have a logjam in middle infield and not enough roster spots to go around. Pull the trigger, Jim.

Posted by: John in Mpls | March 19, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

VT NF, it's probably got a lot to do with Perez's relatively low profile here -- what with the visa thing and all, he's just not well known enough to be a favorite, yet. SSFM, I was excited they got him, and look for a good year.
And no, we are hoping for Leadoff Guzman, he of early-mid 2007. Different guy. Easy mistake to make, they used to be Twins.

I kill me sometimes.

Posted by: MIB | March 19, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

One of Barry's favorites: Chris from Capital Punishment makes a great argument for Lopez. Give it a read and remember that this is Spring Training, its not a good sample size, stats dont mean as much as what the coaches and front office guys tell you.

http://dcbb.blogspot.com/

There's the link for anyone who is interested.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | March 19, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I thought about it. My answer is still yes. His 2007 spring training and pre-injury performance is fresher than 2005 and 2006.
_________________

Also, are you guys really begging for Guzman, he of the mendoza line battle in 2005 and the non-existent 2006 to be the LEADOFF MAN for the entire season?!? Seriously, think about it for a second and then get back to me.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | March 19, 2008 09:36 AM

Posted by: NatsNut | March 19, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

You got a chuckle out of me there MIB, but I still can't shake the feeling that while he's better then his 2005, he's nowhere near his 2007 and maybe not event that close to his 2001.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | March 19, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Sample size??? Please tell me someone on this blog has studied statistics.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | March 19, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

If we've learned anything from (some-days-the-)Bear-(gets-you)Stearns, it's "buy quality, not potential return."

Posted by: Cevans | March 19, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Of course Lopez is expendable BUT Bret Boone, Willie Harris & Pete Orr, all can play 2B, but can't play shortstop if Guzman is injuried. Therefore, if Bowden can find a middle infielder who can play 2B and SS, Lopez is history. Where is Jamey Carroll when you need him!!! Also, who wants a bench player with a bad attitude, "off field problems"?? and a $4.9M salary. The Nats may be struck with Lopez until a really desperate team needs him because of an injury to their starter.

Posted by: Vienna | March 19, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

"You got a chuckle out of me there MIB, but I still can't shake the feeling that while he's better then his 2005, he's nowhere near his 2007 and maybe not event that close to his 2001.
Posted by: VT Nats Fan | March 19, 2008 09:48 AM"

OK, shake this:

"Guzmán is hitting .356 this spring and said Tuesday he has picked up precisely where he wanted to after an injury-marred 2007. López is hitting just .205." (Barry Today)

Posted by: Mr. InBtwn | March 19, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I love Ronnie, but the team should still start Lopez. They can change their mind if he doesn't produce, but Belliard is an older player who played as well as he is able last year. I think Lopez could exceed that, and we need to give it a try.

Posted by: Positively Half St | March 19, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

"But you have a logjam in middle infield and not enough roster spots to go around. Pull the trigger, Jim."

Posted by: John in Mpls | March 19, 2008 09:40 AM

I understand what you are saying John, but why is it a "logjam" to have three middle infielders on your roster? I say keep all three. JimBo should not feel pressed to make a deal. Now if he's offered a great trade for one of them, obviously, pull the trigger. However, one could make that argument about anyone on the roster. Guzman and Belliard should start. Lopez should be the back up - starting at least three games a week alternating between 2B and SS.

On another subject, please spare me the "we need to have a REAL Nat, like Redding, start on OD" argument. How is Redding anymore of a REAL Nat than Perez? He started 16(!) games last year. That's it. I'm with VTNatsfan. Start the guy who gives the Nats the best chance to win.

Posted by: #4 | March 19, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I know this is heresy, but what if the Nats picked up some of that 4.9?

"... and a $4.9M salary. The Nats may be struck with Lopez until a really desperate team needs him because of an injury to their starter.
Posted by: Vienna | March 19, 2008 09:58 AM

Posted by: CE | March 19, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Well said, #4.

Can we not use FLop so much? It's fairly mean-spirited and just a tad petty to turn someone's name into a way to denigrate him or her. Especially when legitimate criticism of the person's play is so easily accessible.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | March 19, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Good point about the "true" Nationals pitcher. But neither has Perez shown us, AT ALL, that he's the best chance to win. He hasn't really shown us anything.
____________
I'm with VTNatsfan. Start the guy who gives the Nats the best chance to win.


Posted by: #4 | March 19, 2008 10:01 AM

Posted by: NatsNut | March 19, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Why is Boone in the mix again?

Posted by: Anonymous Jerk | March 19, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

"You got a chuckle out of me there MIB, but I still can't shake the feeling that while he's better then his 2005, he's nowhere near his 2007 and maybe not event that close to his 2001.
Posted by: VT Nats Fan | March 19, 2008 09:48 AM"

OK, shake this:

"Guzmán is hitting .356 this spring and said Tuesday he has picked up precisely where he wanted to after an injury-marred 2007. López is hitting just .205." (Barry Today)

Posted by: Mr. InBtwn | March 19, 2008 09:59 AM

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


Sample size??? Please tell me someone on this blog has studied statistics.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | March 19, 2008 09:53 AM

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | March 19, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Agree that Spring is a small sample size and can't be taken too seriously. No way they can trade Lopez. Brett Boone said he won't be a back up, so he'll just walk. And tell me Pete Orr is a better player than Lopez, no way.

They can't get anything for Lopez and even if they did, it would make the team worse. Having three guys who can start in the middle is great. Lopez is great on defense at 2b, Belliard is average.

I really don't know who to start, might actually lean toward Lopez for better defense and for not putting much store in Spring training stats, and for it being his contract year. Let him play, see what he can do. If he's good then maybe they re-sign him, maybe they can trade him. If he's lousy then you put Belly in and move one.

Posted by: Avar | March 19, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

The logjam comment comes, admittedly, from the headline today. And I agree with you - and VT - that having a third guy is good, maybe even great, especially when one can play second and short.

I'm not saying Bowden absolutely needs to trade Belliard. Don't pull the trigger simply because it's there. But I'm assuming - and that's probably the problem - that the right deal is there already or is about to manifest itself. And I honestly think that's why Bowden extended him.

As far as picking up some of Lopez's contract, I find that interesting indeed.

Posted by: John in Mpls | March 19, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

He came out of 2007 spring training with a 460-something average and then a .328 average through the end of June. Probably well over 200 at bats.

Plus 2007 is post- shoulder (?) and post lasik surgery.

Posted by: Sample Size | March 19, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Trade either to the Cubs.

Posted by: Desperate Cubs | March 19, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Trade either to the Cubs.

Posted by: Desperate Cubs | March 19, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

You only need to hit submit once.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 19, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

If the team jettisons Lopez, who plays SS when Guzie needs a day off or heaven forbid gets hurt? Not one of the 3 is part of the future--though Lopez more than the others has the potential to be--so perhaps its best to start Lopez, let him play and increase his value and if it doesn't work out Belliard is always ready.

By playing Lopez and giving him a chance to have even an average season, the team potentially gets a) a solid 2B for the future or b) a marketable player for the trade deadline or c) maybe he qualifies as a type B free agent and the Nats get a pick or two if he walks. Given that the plan is still a work in progress, playing Lopez seems to be the logical choice.

Posted by: joNAThan | March 19, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

you only need to hit submit once

Posted by: . | March 19, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

you only need to hit submit once

Posted by: . | March 19, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Belliard should be the starter at 2nd base. I'm OK with Lopez's fire to want to start, I just don't think he said it very well. He would be a nice switch hitter off the bench and back up/occasional starter at 2nd and SS.

And carrying over from the last post. I still think JP lacks the mental and physical toughness to be an effective starter for the Nats. My saying he has "no stones" was probably over the top. My apologies if I offended anyone.

I just seems to always be something with him, and my faith in JP is starting to shake. Two years of continued ailments will do that to a fan, I guess.

Posted by: Section 505/203 | March 19, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Bellard should start, no doubt about it. Great hitter, he has nice range at second thanks to his unique positioning, he's a clutch hitter and an overall good team guy.

I think the question posed should be Lopez or Guzman. Guzman looks better at the plate (at least that's my take from two weeks in Viera) but lets face it, he seems to lack durability. He was sleepwalking through 2005 and has barely been healthy in 2006 and 2007. Given all that, if Guzman goes down again, the Nats are in trouble if Lopez is traded. I'd try to unload the last year of that Guzman contract, put Lopez at SS everyday, and make a decision this year as to whether Lopez is the future here or not.

The Reds need a shortstop because Alex Gonzalez broke his kneecap and Wayne Krvisky, the Reds GM, was in Minnesota when Guzman was there. I'm just sayin'.

Posted by: Ray | March 19, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I think Barry oversold Perez's last outing. The Dodgers started getting good looks against him once he lost command of his secondary pitches. He did not look like the guy from four years ago as much as the guy from the last two years. I hope he does not start the opener. I liked the first post about Lopez. The Cubs might find Belliard attractive as a cheap option if the Orioles want too much for Roberts and then we give Lopez a year to see whether he deserves a long term contract.

Posted by: Cindy Lou | March 19, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I just want to know who the better golfers are on the team.

Posted by: Kranny | March 19, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

(Sorry been more lurker than poster recently).

I just wanted to add my feelings on why I think Perez, at this point, shouldn't be the Opening Day starter. As was mentioned by a lot of folks, he hasn't thrown in any Major League spring training games. We need a few outtings to see what he is like before we give him the slot. We have a week and a half, which is not enough time.

Additionally, this is a MAJOR game for the city, the team and the fans. Folks are paying $150+ for $10 seats just to be there on March 30th. While it certainly won't be like April 14, 2005, this is still a major game that will be filled with some symbolism and importance. I view the pitcher on Opening Night this year as being almost an honor that is being given to one of the pitchers. I want to see Bergmann (who has been around the organization for years and has pitched well in ST) or Redding (who has pitched really well for us in ST and was well liked by many of us last year) on the mound. A healthy Patterson or Hill would be nice as well, but I certainly don't want to see a new, unproven face. When I look out on the field, I think "this is MY team, win or lose I still love them". Part of this is based on seeing them play day in and day out, knowing the players and following their ups and downs. It's going to tough for catcher now(unless Flores is out there) but at least we have learned more about Milledge and Dukes (thank you WashPost for the videos) so I am able to have the feeling of wanting them, as players, to do well rather than for them to do well just because they are a National.

Posted by: LurkerNowPoster | March 19, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I was at the Odalis game in Viera and I concur wholeheartedly with Cindy Lou. If Perez thinks that was a good outing, he isn't a good pitcher. He has a presence and dominated the first time around the lineup, but after that, he looked horrible, the Dodgers lineup was getting excellent swings on everything. If Matt Chico had put on that performance, he would have been villified.

Posted by: Ray | March 19, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

With Belly you get a 2 for 1 type player...a 2b & shortfielder...ok, sorry, just an attempt at some humor to lighten the day. I'll grant that the age difference between Lopez & Belly is significant and does play into the decision. If based just on performance I think Belly has won the job. There is no doubt that Lopez has the ability to be the starting 2b or SS. That said, I think he's going to have to bide his time on the pine for a bit. injuries happen

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | March 19, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

No brainer. Belliard. And if Lopez's fragile ego can't handle being on the bench, well then he should be traded. He hasn't produced enough as a Nat to have a prima donna attitude.

Posted by: Wallpass | March 19, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I'll chip in $8.75 and forego lunch to offset some of Felipe's salary in a trade. I'm still rooting for him, however.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | March 19, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

"I just wanted to add my feelings on why I think Perez, at this point, shouldn't be the Opening Day starter. As was mentioned by a lot of folks, he hasn't thrown in any Major League spring training games."

Then who were those Dodger guys he pitched against last Saturday, if not major leaguers?

Posted by: Section 419+1 | March 19, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

All the "trade this guy, trade that guy" talk is easy to say, in here. Bowden doesn't have a rotisserie team, it's real; he can't make trades that aren't there, and there are few do-overs. "He should get a time machine and trade for 1956 Ernie Banks" is about to show up any day now, I think.

Posted by: CE | March 19, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

But dang, a little 1956 Bingo would be sweet, wouldn't it?

Posted by: MIB | March 19, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I hope that no one in the FO is serious about having Odalis perez as Opening Night pitcher. There's a famous baseball saying "there are Opening Day pitchers and pitchers who pitch on Opening Day." Guess which profile Perez would best fit? As I said in the last post, I would like to see a "homegrown" pitcher have the honor - Bergmann, if Hill can't go.

Posted by: natsscribe | March 19, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Add me to the list of people who would like to see Bergmann on OD. Though I would be fine with Redding, since he looks more like our Ace every day.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | March 19, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

The Dodgers were split-squad with half the team in China. But Furcal, Pierre, Looney and Martin all played. For what it's worth.

Posted by: 307 | March 19, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

is anyone else having trouble posting? the "submit" button sticks when hit the first time, and i have to hit it a second time before it works. may explain some of the multiple posts.

Posted by: natsscribe | March 19, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

cindylou, don't get carried away with thinking about the cubs. they're trying to trade for roberts as an upgrade and because they want a true leadoff hitter, neither need is something belliard would fill. their current 2B (de rosa) is as good or better of a hitter than belliard (40 points more OBP, same power).

Posted by: 231 | March 19, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Unless Jim-Bow can pull off a trade in the next two weeks, the Nats have to start Felipe over Belly. Look, I love what Belly did for us last year, and even if he's on the bench all year I want to see him a couple of times a week; but it's a tremendous waste if Felipe is on the bench to start the year. If the Nats keep all three guys, Belly has to sit. The only way you get any value for Lopez in a trade is if he's playing every day and putting up at least respectable numbers. He can't do that sitting on the bench.

Posted by: AJ | March 19, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Belly should definitely start because he simply outplayed FLop this summer. I really wanted FLop to win the job because of his defense and his potential leadoff skills. He didn't win the job so oh well. Belly won it so give it to him.

As far as opening day goes, as great as Lannan has been throwing, why not him? If it's not Hill, I don't have faith in anyone any more than Lannan.

Posted by: BigQ | March 19, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Oops! My bad. Okay, Let's change my statement to "has only pitched once in the Majors in ST this year". Still too small of a sample (which can be good or bad, depending on how the next outing goes).

*******************************************
"I just wanted to add my feelings on why I think Perez, at this point, shouldn't be the Opening Day starter. As was mentioned by a lot of folks, he hasn't thrown in any Major League spring training games."

Then who were those Dodger guys he pitched against last Saturday, if not major leaguers?

Posted by: Section 419+1 | March 19, 2008 10:54 AM

Posted by: LurkerNowPoster | March 19, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

There's 2 new posts, but take my word for it and just skip the Zorn one.

Posted by: CE | March 19, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

If you feel they "have to" play Lopez or lose him mentally, then you have Belliard coming off the bench (good) in late innings, and probably taking over at 2nd (not bad) in close games, whenever Lopez comes up in a tight spot (or else just hit him 8th and eat it). What do you think THAT will do for his morale?
Start Belliard until he's traded, if Lopez sulks, let him.

Posted by: CEvans | March 19, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

OD pitcher is not about "the story line" and not about "the face of the franchise;" it's about aligning a pitching staff to get the most wins. if manny thinks OP is our best shot at winning on OD and thereafter, i'd believe him. it's what he gets paid for.

Posted by: natty bumppo | March 19, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

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