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More on Lenny

So anyone who read the gamer knows that I focused on Lenny Harris and the Nationals' sputtering offense. I'm wondering if any of you who watched the game saw what the Nationals saw -- which was a better approach at the plate.

(I have to admit: That's what I saw. Much better at-bats Monday night. Hard to say that after a 7-3 loss, and there was some bad base running (not by Guzman/Tolman in the first, but thereafter) that contributed to only three runs, but they still had 10 hits off Hudson and 13 hits overall.)

However, I'm interested in what you think of what Harris had to say in the gamer.

Here's a bit more, as it pertains to Zimmerman, who went 2 for 5 but failed in his two chances with runners in scoring position, meaning he's now an astonishing 1 for 26 in such situations.

"Here's a professional guy right now that's going through something that might be the best for him," Harris said, "because I told him, I said, 'This happens to the best players in baseball, football, basketball. Before I got here, they said, 'You're the franchise player. I don't want to step on your feet much, but you got to work a little harder. You got to work a little harder and be a little more disciplined at the plate, because if they're not pitching to you, you can't go out there and swing at everything."

This seems like a shot at Zimmerman, whose work ethic has not been questioned since he came up. But it's interesting. Harris was swift to add, "He's a quick learner," and said Zimmerman had responded.

Some of that was in the early version of the gamer, but got cut late as I put in more postgame stuff. (Man, that's way to much sausage-making, but I mean, you gotta file once at 10:15 and again at 11:30, and, well, the stories will morph in those 75 minutes.)

Also from Lenny, on his chief responsibilities: "Discipline. You have to be disciplined. If a guy's not trying to throw you a strike, you don't have to chase it. Ninety percent [of the time] right now, we're chasing everything. I'm watching the same ballgame you are. What is to stop us [from saying], 'Let's stop chasing. Ok, let me go up there and look for a pitch that I'm looking to hit.' That's simple as that. It sounds so simple, but it's not clicking. So when it starts clicking, like they were doing when I got here last year."

Harris is clearly concerned about how he's perceived. He sought out reporters in the clubhouse afterward to point out the better approach against Tim Hudson, which was accurate.

But my question is, Is Harris part of the problem or part of the solution? (This is, obviously, a delicate question, because it's hard to know from the outside. But the purpose of today's exercise was to give some inside stuff and let you all evaluate.)

Later in the day, I'll offer some more of what Manny Acta had to say on his attitude about all the losses and how to act.

The notebook had some Chad Cordero evaluation. Seems like he's headed back to be a closer, though he's armed with only an 87-mph fastball. John Smoltz needs four strikeouts to get to 3,000, so perhaps we should start a pool as to which National will be the victim.

And congratulations to Rob Mackowiak, who got his first hit as a National Monday night. Unfortunately, Felipe Lopez was thrown out at home on the play.

(And a reminder about the original question: Harris, yes or no?)

By Barry Svrluga  |  April 22, 2008; 6:10 AM ET
 
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Next: Acta's Attitude

Comments

If the Plan is to build a team up from the minors and the major league hitting instructor is responsible for setting the tone for the entire organization, why do we have a guy with no previous experience who is obviously still learning the job in such a critical position? If Harris isn't the lowest paid hitting coach in the league, he is in the bottom five, this has Ted "Line-item" Lerner's fingerprints on it.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | April 22, 2008 6:43 AM | Report abuse

You have to play baseball with the team you have. With some exceptions, this team was largely created from other teams' cast-offs. Obviously, players can rejunevate their careers, but the Nats may have too many players like this. Acta is young and never played in the majors. So I dont fault Lenny Harris. I do fault the ownership for a team that appears to be on track to win less than 70 games this year.

Posted by: DkNatsFan | April 22, 2008 6:44 AM | Report abuse

I wish the problem was as simple as being just Harris. What makes Pena swing at imaginary strikes or Lo Duca swing at pitches above the letters or batters pop up bunts? Has this team stopped believing in each other? I know, I know, they will all deny that statement but the at bats seem to be one on one battles against whatever personal demons each brings with them. The actual situation each is faced with such as moving baserunners, sacrafice fly out or a timely hit and run seems to be obscurred when they get to the plate. Thus we don't have big innings and seldom do we have more than 3 runs in a game scored. Watching how other teams string together multiple hit innings with good baserunning is a great contrast to what this team does. It is going to take more than just the hitting coach to get inside the minds of these players. It is going to take a different batting order chemistry, better third base coaching and better preparation before the game starts.

Posted by: Dale | April 22, 2008 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Can't bail on Harris yet. Plus, I would think changing mid-season is tough on a team. If they don't turn it around then they have to get a new guy for '09.

Posted by: Avar | April 22, 2008 7:15 AM | Report abuse

Harris is fine for now. Here is what I would suggest we as fans do: Go watch some good teams play baseball. When the Mets and Cubs are on ESPN, watch them! Any time the Red Sox or Braves are hitting and on TV, watch them!

The approaches of the individual hitters in those lineups is VASTLY more disciplined than the Nationals. It is hard for our fan base to see the difference though because all we hear are homer announcer finding bright spots in a 6-0 ball game and saying, "If Pena gets ahold of one here the Nats would be back in this game."

Okay, technically true, but Pena at the time was 3 for 29 with 2 RBI and 0 HR. This is the problem with TV stations being owned by the teams they "cover." They are unrealistic about what is actually going on and don't call things as a journalist should be seeing them.

Anyway, I've strayed from the orginial question. Yes, last night's game the Nats seemed to be a little more selective. Felipe Lopez did a great job of taking a fastball from Hudson the other way. But here is the rub - it is just one game, and these "better" at-bats came when the Nats were already down 4-0 and then 6-0. Do you know what a veteran pitcher's approach in the game is at that point? Throw fastballs, make 'em swing and get 'em out. Why do you think they can get 13 hits and just 3 runs? Yes, the outs at the plate don't help (Note to Tolman: Why do I know Escobar has the best arm at SS in baseball and you don't?) but what was going on was once a man or two gets on base on Hudson as he threw fastballs with the big lead, he started mixing it up and getting guys out to strand the runners.

I'm begging to see some positive signs too, but a team playing ahead or behind by 6 runs is not going to give you a good barometer of what is or isn't going well.

Posted by: Ryan | April 22, 2008 7:36 AM | Report abuse

from Phil Wood this morning:

"It's perfectly plain that the issue is offense. Not hits, no runs, no wins. I've been saying for years that a pitcher's won-lost record means little in the grand scheme of things since he's got little impact (in the AL he has no impact) on the number of runs his team scores for him. Unless you're capable of throwing a low-hit, low-run (3 or fewer) game every single time you go out there, you're getting an L on your record, like it or lump it. That this club should be struggling so mightily with the bat at the moment is frustrating. Are they pressing? Some have claimed they're not, but the results -- and the accompanying swinging at first pitches, lunging at balls out of the strike zone, falling behind in the count so quickly you're forced to take defensive swings -- show otherwise.

There's nothing magic going on here. Slumps are contagious, and any baseball professional will confirm that. The Nats' roster is currently infected top-to-bottom. If there was a quick fix available, ownership would surely take that route. Firing anyone to appease a handful of disgruntled web surfers would be a huge mistake."

Posted by: flynnie | April 22, 2008 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Ryan is exactly right. You can't judge anything based on how the Nats hit in a game they were down several runs early. A professional pitcher like Hudson knows how to change his approach in games like that. Harris--NO.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | April 22, 2008 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to Positively Half Street for this:

Here is Phil Woods' article this morning. He starts by taking a gentle swipe at us, and our message-board opinions:

http://www.examiner.com/a-1353147~Don_t_panic_yet.html

Posted by: Positively Half St. | April 22, 2008 4:59 AM

Posted by: flynnie | April 22, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse

The Nats should call up mike Bacsik and have him pinch hit when smoltz has got to three strikeouts. Then he'd really have some baseball card convention clout.

Posted by: Dave-O | April 22, 2008 7:53 AM | Report abuse

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - I should probably know better, but every so often I fire up the computer and check out the Nationals-related message boards. I'm painfully aware that most Internet message boards, regardless of the topic, are largely populated by folks who know what they know, so please don't confuse them with facts or logic. It's as funny as it is frustrating most of the time, but particularly now, with the ballclub off to such a horrendous start.

It appears that many fans are ready to fire skipper Manny Acta and/or hitting coach Lenny Harris. Most have no replacement(s) in mind, and some admit that both men did terrific jobs last year, but with a lot of fans, it's a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world. That so many who have no access to the dugout or clubhouse, or really any kind of entrée to the inner workings of major league baseball believe they know exactly what the problem is; I guess finishing fourth in your fantasy league really counts for something

Posted by: At Last! | April 22, 2008 7:54 AM | Report abuse

There is a dearth of evidence that any coaching (save perhaps pitching) is going on. So many cast-off veterans performing poorly and making rookie mistakes. Were they never coached in their previous venues? Have they saved their mistakes for the Nats?

What was going on in spring training? Any coaching? If so, it's not evident. I fault Coach Tolman on both throwouts last night. What was the rush to score the first run when the Nats needed a whole lot more to win?

One can only hope that there is some coaching going on in the minors, so that when the young phenoms arrive at Nationals Park they know how to play baseball. If they do not arrive with basic baseball skills (like how to run the bases) intact, you can't blame that deficit on the Lerners.

I agree with the poster who said watch other ball games where there are actual big leaguers playing (although the eighth inning of last night's Cubs-Mets was no credit to New York).

Lastly, what a great deal it is to have Svrluga file his final update at 11:30 p.m. and finding the resulting report outside my door by 5:30 a.m. the next morning. Amazing. The Post does do some things right.

Posted by: Johnr(VA) | April 22, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Phil Wood that firing anyone right now would be a mistake, but Lenny Harris sounds like he's worried about his job right about now.

Posted by: Ron | April 22, 2008 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Hitting coaches are easy scapegoats, but rarely the real problem.

Posted by: swanni | April 22, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure where all this Phil Wood business is coming from, but let's all remember one thing about Harris: by the team's own account, he did NOT do a very good job last year. The Nats came very close to not retaining him, as reported by Barry. This is not a question of stats comparison to Mitchell Paige' tenure, it's a statement of the Nats' own viewpoint that they had serious doubts *then* about whether he should be back this year. The word when the Nats decided to retain him was that they believed he could "grow into" the job. Clearly that has not happened.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | April 22, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

I didn't see the game last night so I cannot talk about better at bats. But I do think there is a real concern with guys running into outs. I am not saying we should Fire Manny, but he has talked a lot of talk about not running into outs, etc...but the Nationals do this time and time again. Where is the breakdown between his philosophy and the teams actions?

Posted by: GoNats | April 22, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I may be perceived as a Negative Natty here, but I still think this team will hit.

The problem is the Band-aid starting pitching staff, cobbled together because of...yes, the cheap owners.

Posted by: swanni | April 22, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Just to extend on Johnr's thoughts: these are professionals, and their swings have been crafted and honed, and there's little a batting coach can do regarding the mechanics of the swing. Having said that, what could be done? Intense video analysis comparing the swing during a hot streak vs. a slump? There may be one or two minor tweaks, but nothing substantial. Have the squad read Dorfman? Many have that memorized by now.

All the comments from Lenny have nothing to do with the swing, and everything to do with the head. Attitude, plan, focus, concentration, confidence, etc. The challenges reside between the ears, and not the lower body torque. That's Lenny's value-add, and his ability to get the message across.

Posted by: joemktg | April 22, 2008 8:20 AM | Report abuse

And another thing: how did the Nats allow a run to score on a bunt with men on 1st and 3rd???? This is basic LL/Babe Ruth stuff.

Posted by: joemktg | April 22, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Now that we have heard from baseball expert Phil Wood, everything really is fine. If you are unhappy with the Nats management or performance so far, you are ignorant and don't know baseball.

Yes, building a farm system is critical but you still need to bring in real talent not cast-offs. Sorry but the owners are going to have to spend money if they want to be competitive. I am just amazed that the owners are not embarrassed by fielding such a cheap poor team after they just got a brand new stadium. That $611 million could have been used for many more pressing matters in DC. I guess I should be thankful that I am not one of the DC business paying this extra tax.

This team is perfectly happy to use Zimmerman to market the team but then lowball him on a contract extension. Zimmerman is the player that my sons follow and gets them excited about the Nats. Admittedly Zimmerman is now struggling, but he will finish the season strongly. I also can't help but wonder if any of his struggles are related to being lowballed.

Posted by: DKNatsFan | April 22, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Barry for trying to get us an inside picture. I don't think people would be doubting so much if we just knew what the heck was going on in that clubhouse and if/what things were being addressed.

The answers we're getting not only don't tell us what's going on or what's being addressed, they're almost defensive and a little condescending.

And thanks for the Phil Wood link. I loved it. A little smack-down never hurt anyone.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 22, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Well, until last night we were getting few hits, and I'm not sure that one night portends a great improvement. That said, at the MLB level I think that the hitting coach is probably overrated, as the players have been coached all of their lives. They should know how to hit, how to take, how to go the opposite way, once they get to the majors, with the hitting coach available for some tweaking, or to spot a sudden fundamental flaw. But also, did anyone notice that our two starters going into the Braves series were 0-5?

Posted by: upperdeck4 | April 22, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

One more thing: I don't think for a minute that we have more cast-offs this year.

Spring Training was exciting for the simple reason that our lineup looked A LOT sweeter than last year's. I still believe there's a lot of young potential there.

But I totally agree with GoNats. We heard so much from Manny about baserunning, fundamentals, playing the right way, etc. and it's like we're getting the polar opposite. Where is the discrepancy coming from? and WHAT IS HE DOING ABOUT IT???

Posted by: NatsNut | April 22, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

When your slugging pct leader is named Guzman, you're destined for the worst record in baseball. Truthfully, who on the Natties is capable of a .300/30hr season? ZMan in 2 years? Nick, never even played a full year. Maybe Ryan Church?

Posted by: 17feetcloser | April 22, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

So who is going tomorrow night to the grand ballpark at the Navy Yard? I am.

I am going every other day this homestand. I am not sure I am looking forward to it. I will be interested to see what the crowd response is. Probably a lot of Mets fans and impatient Nats fans.

Last year I went to the first game of a homestand after the terrible start and they still had great support from the fans and turned things around starting that game.

Let's be the 10th man.

Posted by: GoNats | April 22, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

OK. I have to ask. Could Zimm's problems be attributed to something outside of baseball? Is his Mom doing OK?

Posted by: Nats Fan | April 22, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Anyone hear Bruce Boudreau last night after the remarkable Caps win? "There will be losing streaks and winning streaks. It's important to stay even and not change your approach during both." Thanks for the vote of confidence in reason, Manny and Lenny, Bruce!

Posted by: flynnie | April 22, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I'll be there on Thursday, GoNats.

Posted by: flynnie | April 22, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

"If the Plan is to build a team up from the minors and the major league hitting instructor is responsible for setting the tone for the entire organization, why do we have a guy with no previous experience who is obviously still learning the job in such a critical position?"

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | April 22, 2008 6:43 AM

A major league hitting coach has little to do with setting the tone for the entire organization. Neither does the major league manager. There are minor league directors, farm directors, and field coordinators that run the minor league show. They answer ultimately to the GM.

Do I think that's the best way to do it? No. But it's the way it's done. As for Lenny Harris, he does appear to be growing into the job. He's pushing guys a little more on their approach. That's really the only role for a big league hitting coach. He's dealing with a bunch of guys who've had a lot of success in the lives with the swings they currently have. It is rare when a big leaguer alters his swing much. With fear of sounding like a broken record, it's useless to evaluate Lenny after 20 games. The team got better offensively last year as the season progressed. Let's see what happens this year.

Posted by: #4 | April 22, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I am sure Zimm's Mom is fine. As has been mentioned before, he has had the same April start for 3 straight years. Groundhog Day anyone?

Posted by: GoNats | April 22, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

On the bad starts note generally, another interesting item from the archives...

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2007/05/the_search_for_answers.html

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 22, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Lenny seems like an amateur and so I don't care if he's fired, but it's Bowden's head that has to fall. He's not a long-term player development GM. He's a junkyard dog scavenger. A good fit for us when we had no scouting budget and a salary cap, but a terrible fit for "The Plan," evidenced by his hyping this team's ability to "win now" this past off-season, reluctance to flip vets like DY and Belly for prospects, etc. He never should have been retained in the first place--it was the Lerner's first rookie mistake, and it needs to be corrected.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I'll be there Thursday and Saturday! Going to see the Cap in Game 7 tonight.....

Lenny Harris should stay... Manny should also stay for now (until big time spending begins)... However, there should be more of a willingness to try new things. Put the players in a position to succeed. This is currently not happening now. Not with Zim, not with Milledge. It's time to shake things up, otherwise it just looks like your Glen Hanlon and willing to accept losing. Loss after loss we hear used car salesman Stan "The Plan" Kasten say how great things are (despite low attendance), we hear the manager saying he's staying positive, Zimmerman and Kearns are constantly "sold" by Carpenter and Sutton about how great they are... WE ARE TIRED OF BEING LIED TOO!!!

I love Zim but he's struggling, move him down. After this bad start we don't see why opposing pitchers are shaking in their boots at the thought of facing Zim, Johnson, and Kearns like Sutton and Carpenter say. We don't see how Stan "The Plan" Kasten could be happy with current attendance because we expected MORE!!!

Then I watched the game last night are saw the pretty empty stadium and realized, Stan has already destroyed the Atlanta fan base, He is in the infancy of destroying this one.

FIRE STAN KASTEN!!!

I already had tickets to Thursday and Saturday, but I for one am turned off at spending any more of my money on the Nats util the Nats start spending some money as well.

Posted by: NatsFan | April 22, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

that was my post.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 22, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I seldom agree with either Flynnie or Swanni, but (other than the cheap owner nonsense) they are both right on target.

Firstly, many expectations were way too high. The hitting will, eventually come around. Unless one of the position players is at a spot which will be a part of the decline of his career (haven't seen it, except maybe for LoDuca) the hitters will generally move to their consistent level over the course of the season.

Let's remember that ALL of the starting pitching is in the minors. One of the consequences of last years run was that the relief corps got pushed to the limit. With no real starters capable of providing a quality start most games, you are looking at even more pressure on the relievers. Maybe too much.

Meanwhile, the position players see crooked numbers go up for the other team, on a consistent basis and all try and hit 6 run homers, losing focus.

One of the problems bringing in a hitting coach with a real rep (and there are really only a few), unless you are going to go for a Charlie Lau type, is that he will be perceived, by many, as someone waiting in the wings for Manny to stumble. It's a very tough line to walk.

Posted by: Catcher50 | April 22, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, we're a bunch of nerds with a propensity for hyperbole (this is the internet after all).

I don't think there's a quick fix to this team's problems but I would like some assurance that I'm not watching a train wreck in slow motion. Why not hire another coach to replace paige? Keep Harris since he was around before, anyway.

Posted by: i hate walks | April 22, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

The Nats haven't updated their MLB press pass since last week. Why?

http://presspass.mlb.com/pp_teamselect.asp

Posted by: Presspass | April 22, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I am picking WMP to # 3000 and #3003

Posted by: junkbucket | April 22, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

"Since you cannot solve the Mystery of the Missing Offense, Mr. Harris, I will do it for you.

While I take a visit to Scotland Yard, I want you to sit here and solve another mystery for me: The Mystery of What Will Lenny Harris Be Doing After He Is Fired From This Job.

Aha! It is you Mr. Harris! You are the culprit! You murdered the offense, in the dugout, with your blunt logic! Mystery solved! It was elementary, my dear Watson!"

Posted by: Sherlock Holmes | April 22, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

And another thing: how did the Nats allow a run to score on a bunt with men on 1st and 3rd???? This is basic LL/Babe Ruth stuff.

Posted by: joemktg | April 22, 2008 8:22 AM

-----

According to Charlie, Diaz (who had a fantastic night) crept down behind Zimm where he couldn't see him. Guzman wasn't at third, so they couldn't catch him and Zimm, going off the directions from Estrada and those in front of him, threw to first.

Charlie and Dave agreed it was a real heads-up play by Diaz and there was little the Nats could do, other than have Guzman break to third instead of second, but then they would have to just give up on the possibility of the double play. So thanks to Diaz, there was an unintended suicide squeeze.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Lenny Harris seems so lost, he belongs on the back of a milk carton.

His termination will not solve all the Nats problems, but I think it needs to be done.

Posted by: NatsNQ | April 22, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

"the major league hitting instructor is responsible for setting the tone for the entire organization"

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | April 22, 2008 6:43 AM
_______________________________________

That is a HUGE exaggeration. So where do the owners, president, GM, manager, etc. fit in?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Lenny Harris was forced into a tough position when Page had his problems. I don't think Harris was ready to be the hitting coach and I was more than a little surprised that the team didn't seek someone with more experience.

I don't think Harris is ready for this job and should be shuffled out to the minors to get some coaching experience.

Posted by: Hoo | April 22, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

This is something you'll never hear unless you're wearing cleats inside the Nationals dugout, but I wonder what the players think about Harris and Acta. Reading beyond the quotes it seems like Harris is a little unsure of himself as a coach and I wonder if the players think he is a good coach. Acta seems like he's got support in the clubhouse and in general, seems like he's maturing into a really good manager. You'll hear players say the same thing, but are they really sincere?

Posted by: Korbs | April 22, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

OK I gotta say Lenny Harris is getting WAY too much support here.

The guy inherited a job he has no experience with--never been a hitting coach ever. The results, however you measure them, are not there. Young guys aren't getting better, the offense as a whole is underperforming.

His public quotes sound like a guy who doesn't know what he's doing. Taking credit for Pena going to the opposite field last year, blaming Zimmerman's work ethic,

And seriously, I mean really, what the heck is this...

"It could be personal reasons and could be something [that made them angry]. I try to talk to each and every one of them [on an individual basis]. I ask them, 'Are you OK? Are there any problems at home.' They tell me they are fine. Those are my guys and I ask them how do they feel. 'Don't go out there and press. Go out there and have fun. There is no pressure on you guys.'"

Is he joking with this?

No, firing Lenny isn't the answer, but if he's fired, it won't be undeserved. And shouldn't SOMEONE be fired?

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 22, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

The general sentiment is that Harris is not the problem, and may even be the solution. That is perhaps the first positive sentiment I've seen on here for weeks now, and thank goodness for it! (It is also a sentiment I share)

The team did hit better last year after Harris came on board - I say give him more time. The Nats did bat better last night. Zimm in particular took two first-pitch balls against Hudson, which was a major relief.

Barry, Bill Ladson wrote in one of his articles that WMP was crying in the dugout after going 0-4 last night. Is that true? I feel for the big fella', he seems to know what the expectations of him are and that he's not fulfilling them...

Can we (NJ posters/Nats fans in general) stop calling for people's heads though? Is it not enough just to root for the team? After all, if they don't win it's a shame - but at the end of the day, it IS just a game...

Posted by: BigNatsFan | April 22, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I am guessing WMP won't get those K's because he will be sitting on the bench.

Posted by: GoNats | April 22, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

506: it was smart of Diaz to take advantage of the situation handed to him, but it shouldn't have been handed to him. On a bunt towards 3rd, 3B holds his position and lets the P, C and 1B field while 2B rotates to 1B and SS goes to 2nd. On a bunt towards 1B, 3B charges while SS rotates to 3B, giving up second but holding the runner to third while securing the out at first.

In both cases, you hold the runner at third while securing the out at first, but you never allow the run to score on the sacrifice. Zims reaction afterwards lead me to believe that he blew it.

And I suppose that's the point: the team needs to pull itself out of this downward spiral, and all the coaching staff can do is act as a therapist.

Posted by: joemktg | April 22, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Well, I don't know diddly-poo about hitting. And a lot of that stuff is part art, part science, and it's hard to gather data in less than a few months. So really, that decision has to be left to people who *really* know what they're talking about. We'd all like the nats to hit better, and Harris doesn't have much of a resume to lean on, but does that mean he's bad at his job? Not necessarily. Is he bad at his job? Possibly. Are there "baseball people" around that can be asked? What do they say?

Posted by: Section 303 | April 22, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Joemktg has the baseball aspect of it right. But the added variable in these plays where a guy scores from 3rd on a bunt is our imobile catcher. Whether it is Estrada or LoDuca, Zim has to charge in because the catchers are too slow getting out of their crouch to make a play.

That play and Lopez getting thrown out at home were some of the worst baseball plays I've seen in a while. Or at least since Sunday when the Marlins managed to score 2 runs on a WP.

Posted by: NoVA Nat | April 22, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

We just need to catch the ball, throw the ball, and hit the ball

Posted by: ur mom | April 22, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

There a Bunch of Lollygaggers, that what they are.

Posted by: long season | April 22, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

#4,

You bring a nice voice of reason to this blog and I enjoy reading your posts. I'm going out on a limb here and say you probably were/are a baseball coach or a long time player of the sport?

Despite all the negativity and knee jerk reactions on this blog, I will be attending the games on Wed and Sun because, well, that's what fans do.

Posted by: Section 505/203 | April 22, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Joemktg:

While your rotations are correct, they are called before the ball is bunted. There is no way to react quickly enough if you wait until the ball is down. Fielders react when the batter squares.

Posted by: #4 | April 22, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Me 9, Nats 11. I'll out homer the entire team.

Posted by: ChaseUtley | April 22, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

What ever non of this matters anyway, because according to the drudge report we are being invaded by aliens. So we are all doomed regardless.

Posted by: The BigC from DC | April 22, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Although I think Lenny deserves to be fired, and I'm kind of stunned by the "heck of a job, Lenny" attitude on this blog, I think it's a little harsh of Barry to call him a moron.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 22, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

"Barry, Bill Ladson wrote in one of his articles that WMP was crying in the dugout after going 0-4 last night. Is that true?"

Obviously not, because Barry wrote the same thing in his gamer this morning - and as JayB (who is to blog coaching as Lenny Harris is to hitting coaching, apparently) has told us, you need to take whatever Barry writes and believe the opposite if you want to find the truth.

Hey, wasn't there a Seinfeld episode about that?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

#4: right, but when the ball is coming off the bat, you then correct yourself. Yes: the 3B needs to charge, but upon seeing the ball off the bat and coming towards him, he switches direction. That drives the runner on third back (or holds him in place). Don't let the runner score, and take the out at first.

NoVA Nat: 2 runs off of one WP had '62 Mets written all over it. Now THAT'S a horrible notion.

Posted by: joemktg | April 22, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

"Barry, Bill Ladson wrote in one of his articles that WMP was crying in the dugout after going 0-4 last night. Is that true?"
-----------
There's no crying in baseball!

Posted by: Jimmy Dugan | April 22, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Good players make good coaches.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | April 22, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Oops. Didn't see the second page. So he WAS crying...ouch. That sucks.

Posted by: BigNatsFan | April 22, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I'm no expert, but this is what I see.
A team so desperate to "make something happen" that everybody is pressing and making bad decisions. I'd say Manny needs to do something about that. And I'd say there is just a lot of inexperience all the way around. Manny has one year of experience, Lenny has less than that. The owners are probably embarrassed, but I can't blame them for not blowing things up. They are new to this as well.
The way things ended last year, we all thought things were moving in the right direction. Now that there has been a set-back, we want to blame somebody and have somebody take action. I think they are right to not make any rash decisions, let the season play out. But if this team plays like this all year, then yes, I would criticize somebody for not making a move in the offseason. Right now, it's just hard to get excited about watching.

Posted by: BofG | April 22, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Joemktg:

I'd coach it differently - taking a bit more of the guess work out of it. I'd tell one of the corner infielders to hold and charge only if it's clear the ball will be bunted past the pitcher. The middle guys would rotate in the direction of the corner who is predetermined to charge. The Pitcher would be taught to exchange roles with the holding corner, if he ends up charging a hard bunt. What we agree on is that the Nats blew it last night.

Posted by: #4 | April 22, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

joemktg, Charlie and Dave didn't have a problem with it and they're not ones to withhold needed criticism.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

there is a difference between coaching and being a therapist. the game is mental, sure. but coaches still coach. do pitching coaches just sit around and tell the pitchers to throw strikes and everything will be ok?

Posted by: theraph | April 22, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

there is a difference between coaching and being a therapist. the game is mental, sure. but coaches still coach. do pitching coaches just sit around and tell the pitchers to throw strikes and everything will be ok?

Posted by: theraph | April 22, 2008 10:25 AM

-----

I have absolutely no idea. Barry?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

So highly regarded baseball insider Phil Wood points out the folly of know-nothing blogger blowhards calling for people's heads at this point in the season, and such blog-hards respond by ... not knowing who Phil Wood is, claiming he missed the point, and ... calling for people's heads. Well done fellas.

I'd like to focus on a few exchanges from last night from people that, in my opinion, seem to know something.

First up, the estimable #4, whose contributions have already been lauded above by Section 505/203, another voice of reason. This exchange restored some of my faith this morning:

First, #4:

"Folks on this blog who are ripping this team for their "loser" attitude cannot have ever competed in their lives in any serious way. I'm not talking about baseball necessarily. It applies to anything you do. Sometimes you try, and things still are a train wreck. You pick yourself up, and try again. What you don't do is point fingers at other people, panic, or become overly emotional. Good things rarely happen in that case. I was interested to hear Sutton say tonight that he's never been around as hard working a ball club as this one. That's good. When you're in a slump, you work your way out of it - pure and simple. What they may lack is experienced leadership - a Schneider perhaps - who can help keep the wheels on. Is this a great team? No. But they are better than what they are showing."

And the response from NatsNut:

"Great post, #4. You've startled me awake with this comment, even outside of baseball, so thanks for that. I'm taking your comment with me to work tomorrow, in fact."

Also, great stuff from someone posting under "Builds character. No, really, it does" --

"Well, I grew up a Cubs fan, so losing holds no terror for me. It's like watching Shakespeare -- I already know the ending, it's the performance I'm there for."

Brilliant, keep it coming! I'm a Cubs fan, too, and this team so far this year is reminding me of many, many Cub seasons in the past where every day the team finds some borderline inexplicable way to lose the game. Like making the last out of the game getting tagged out at second ... when the batter behind you has just taken ball four (in that case the runner was attempting to steal, failed to watch the pitch and overslid the bag).

Baseball is all about failure, and how you deal with it. Most of the time, you're not going to get a hit. But if you press, you lose focus, change your routine, and get worse. That's why Manny's attitude is right and everyone calling for him to be bombastic is wrong.

From the dead trees today:

"You got to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. I just keep trying to help my guys every single day get through it, and we'll get out of it."

-- Manny Acta, on why he doesn't berate players.

OK, I'm getting off my soapbox now.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 22, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Bob, for helping keep us grounded.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Hear, hear Bob L.

Posted by: BigNatsFan | April 22, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

... and I'm joining the bunt-defense debate. First and third, nobody out, bunt towards third (is that right? I didn't see the play). Shouldn't the 3b charge, 1b hold, 2b cover second and ss cover third? Then the catcher tells the 3b (or the pitcher, if he gets there first) where to go with the ball?

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 22, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Surprised to see no mention of Armando Galarraga's second outstanding performance for the Tigers. The 26 year old former National (well, minor leaguer) has yet to allow a hit to a right-handed batter. The supposed "throw-in" in the Soriano trade is having quite a bright start. A bit old for a rookie, but it's not hard to see that he could have been part of the 'plan.'

Gosh...did I just call 26 old. What is happening to me?

Posted by: Sec 315(2) | April 22, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Wow, why can't Bowden predict the future? He should be fired, immediately.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

And, theraph, is there a difference between a coach and a theraphist?

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 22, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

And apropos of nothing, has anyone else noticed that the space between being a therapist and being the rapist is not big at all?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

My bet is on Wily Mo to get Ks #1,2,3 and 4.

Posted by: JennX | April 22, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

"And, theraph, is there a difference between a coach and a theraphist?"

well played.

my experience shows that a coach can be a game therapist, a therapist coaches life, and a theraphist lurks.

Posted by: theraph | April 22, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

(419 + 1) * 0

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

With the NJ event coming up on Sunday, it seems an appropriate time to recall theraph's contribution from last September, which has since been inducted into the NJ hall of fame:

"are occasional posters but mostly lurkers welcome to the tailgate? would it be weird to lurk in the nearby bush or behind cars listening to conversations and then shouting out two sentence responses?"

Posted by: theraph | September 7, 2007 10:22 AM

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 22, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Also, NFA has some thoughts on the Nats' targets in the draft here (scroll down one post):

http://www.farmauthority.dcsportsnet.com/

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 22, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I found Harris' comments reassuring. THe poiint I was trying to get across yesterday is that there was little sense that the organization considered this a serious issue. This makes clear that they do; I just wanted to know that there's a hand on the tiller, and it seems there is. With that understood, I'm happy to let them have some time to fix things. There's a happy medium -- you can neither just let bad play slide nor come on like a ton of bricks. And although I missed the game last night, the reporting of greater plate discipline is heartening.

Also, I wasn't in the room, but I don't see anything in Harris' comments that questioned Zimmerman's work ethic. "You got to work a little harder" sounds to me more like "you've got to pay more attention at the plate" (indisputably true), rather than "you've got to spend more time in the cages."

Posted by: Cliffy | April 22, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Also, I totally missed this, but the gamer headline is pretty funny:

"Nats Lose, but Begin to See Signs of Swing"

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 22, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

... and I'm joining the bunt-defense debate. First and third, nobody out, bunt towards third (is that right? I didn't see the play). Shouldn't the 3b charge, 1b hold, 2b cover second and ss cover third? Then the catcher tells the 3b (or the pitcher, if he gets there first) where to go with the ball?

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 22, 2008 10:39 AM
________________________________________

I didn't see the play either, but typically, a batter would bunt the ball down the firstbase line (with 1B charging, pitcher covering the 3rd base line, and 3rd baseman holding, SS to 2nd base, and 2nd baseman covering 1st). With a runner on first, you want to bunt behind the runner. With a runner on 3rd, you typically don't want to bunt down 3rd base because the 3rd baseman will charge and follow the runner in.

It sounds like something got switched up and Zimm had to charge. Did the bunt get by the pitcher covering the 3rd base line? Guz covered 2nd instead of 3rd, right? Sounds like we had the play on, but the bunt screwed things up. In any case, you can't expect Guz to adjust, b/c players need to follow their wheel assignments. Otherwise, no one would have been covering 2nd, and the Braves could have run a fake-bunt-steal.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

It's going to be a long summer once the Wiz and Caps finish up with the post-season. Which, if I remember correctly, is just 3 days prior to the start of training camp. In the interim, it'll be nice to see good baseball playing executed by other teams. Oh, and to occasionally sip a brew for the price of a six pack while enjoying the new park. So, I've got that going for me...

Posted by: N@tsfan | April 22, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Sec 315(2), gallaraga did come up yesterday in the blog comments.

Posted by: 231 | April 22, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

What's interesting to me are the perceptions we have of performance. Sorry-no-account-cut-him-now Austin Kearns is batting exactly 9 points lower than sparkly-clutch-potential-comeback-player-of-the-year Nick Johnson. At this point in the season that's what -- one hit?

Granted, Nick's OBP and slugging are significantly higher, and I know that those numbers are critical. But I wouldn't have guessed the similarities in batting averages ...

Posted by: Capitol Hill | April 22, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

My bet is on Wily Mo to get Ks #1,2,3 and 4.

Posted by: JennX | April 22, 2008 10:51 AM
-----------
That won't be difficult if he keeps swinging at the outside pitches he kept chasing last night.

Posted by: N@sfan | April 22, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

well, since the Highly-Esteemed Baseball Expert Phil Wood (and yes, I know who he is) has decreed that we are all know-nothing blowhards who aren't fit to comment on anything baseball related, I'd like to formally propose that we shut this blog comments section down immediately.

and also shut down all the Nationals message boards, since we are all too stupid and ignorant to have an opinion regarding the quality of the team.

I mean, why bother even talking about the team in the first place.

How about we institute a new rule: If you haven't played Professional Baseball for at least 5 years, then you are not allowed to make *any* comments about *anything* Baseball related.

that should please everyone, yes?

Posted by: MrMadison | April 22, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I'm with MrMadison! We're not reactionary and don't deliberately take things out of context in self-pitying ways in order to make extreme points that probably weren't even worth it to begin with!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

So, Lerners ARE Cheap, Swanni, JayB and a few others are upset that the Lerners didn't spend the money to pick up good players in free agency the past two years. If they got their way, this would be the starting lineup for the 2009 Washington Nationals:

1B -- Mark Teixeira, 28 ($12.5M -- 2008 salary)
2B -- Orlando Hudson, 30 ($6.25M)
3B -- Hank Blalock, 27 ($5.95M)
SS -- Rafael Furcal, 30 ($13M)
LF -- Manny Ramirez, 35 ($20M)
CF -- Ken Griffey, Jr., 38 ($12.5M)
RF -- Vladimir Guerrero, 32 ($14.5M)
C -- Ivan Rodriguez, 36 ($13M)

SP -- C.C. Sabathia, 27 ($11M)
SP -- Brad Penny, 29 ($8.5M)
SP -- Jon Garland, 28 ($12M)
SP -- John Lackey, 29 ($7M)
SP -- Ben Sheets, 29 ($11M)

Closer -- Joe Nathan, 33 ($6M)

Total spent in FA -- $159.2M

The Nats could just use their "prospects" to fill out the relief pitcher positions, Zim could be their utility infielder and Milledge and Dukes the #4 and 5 outfielders.

Would this work for you all?

Posted by: smile and wave, smile and wave | April 22, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Cliffy said exactly what I meant, only he/she said it better.

I don't need Manny throwing chairs, I just want to know that this matters and he's doing something about it.

Getting some inside peeks from Barry helps.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 22, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

And in the same vein, Capitol Hill, Felipe Lopez is .261/.346/.304 and I don't think anyone has noticed.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Hey! Maybe The Caps are sucking all the *win* out of the city and once they're done, the Nats will finally get their share.


Posted by: NatsNut | April 22, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I noticed, 506! Hooray Felipe!! Go get 'em tiger!

Posted by: NatsNut | April 22, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

"With a runner on 3rd, you typically don't want to bunt down 3rd base because the 3rd baseman will charge and follow the runner in.

It sounds like something got switched up and Zimm had to charge."

The bunt went straight down the third base line. Zimmerman picked it up almost halfway down the line. It was definitely out of range for the catcher, especially with a man on third because the plate would have been left open unless the pitcher was very quick to cover. The runner hovered right behind Zimmerman as he came down the line to field the bunt - the classic safety squeeze play. Had Zimmerman turned to check if the runner was there he might have been able to tag him or at least chase him back to third, but he never looked before he made the throw to first. Had he taken the time to look for the runner behind him, the runner would probably have been safe at first.

Really, if the Braves had *intended* to run a combined safety squeeze/sacrifice bunt play the batter could not have laid down a better bunt for that purpose than he did. There really was no defensive play the Nationals could have put on that would have prevented it, unless thay just decided beforehand to hold the runner at third at all costs and give the batter first base without a challenge.

Everyone who saw multiple replays of this play in the TV/radio booths last night came to this same conclusion. The Nats didn't screw up, the Braves got lucky.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I agree that actual decisions should not be made based on the rantings of a few bloggers. But even the lunatic fringe are bound to eventually get something right. As it happens there are plenty of reasons to question the effectiveness of the current hitting coach. His emphasis of mental approach is important. He is probably addressing mechancial flaws as well, but if he is not he should reconsider. It is true that you should be sitting on a fastball on a 3-1 count if the pitcher has been struggling with his breaking ball, but if you can't get your hands and feet right you still are not going to maximize the opportunity. Almost every batter on the team is hitting below their career average (except Guzman).

Mentally they are off. Hudson got through one inning last night in what seemed like five pitches (don't know the actual count). So when he talks about mental stuff I agree. But by the same token, some batter's upper and lower body seem to be working independently at times. Swings are arcing up a little too much. There are mechancial flaws to fix too. Shouldn't they be going to the video a little more and working the details a little more?

Posted by: NatBisquit | April 22, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Section506.

We don't do that.

Nor do we look down from on high in our infinite baseball wisdom to condemn anyone who has the nerve to be frustrated with the team's play and the unmitigated gall to be less than completely satisfied with every aspect of the team. Because as we all know, everything is fine and the team is great and playing very well. We just don't know enough about baseball to see it.

Posted by: MrMadison | April 22, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

This team brings in too many players who have undisciplined approaches at the plate and who don't walk enough. LMillz, WMP, Belli, Guzzie, AK, FLop, ABoone to name a few. This team eerily mirrors some of JimBow's Reds teams that produced prolific strikeout numbers and finished in the lower half of the league in runs scored.

Posted by: leetee1955 | April 22, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

while that's a huge improvement over the start of the season, a 650 OPS is nothing to brag about... ;)

Posted by: 231 | April 22, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

And in the same vein, Capitol Hill, Felipe Lopez is .261/.346/.304 and I don't think anyone has noticed.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 11:34 AM
---------------------------------------------
I noticed! I was just sitting in stunned silence...

Seriously though, it is surprising. He's hitting better than Belly is at the moment, but the remarkable part is that he seems to have some life in the game again. He'd been missing that, I think.

Posted by: BigNatsFan | April 22, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

In all serious, non hyperbolic(is that a word?) speech. I'm very apathetic.

I watch the games, but I'm really numb to the final result.

I watch the games because we have a team, and I am thankful for that.

But honestly, I find myself caring less and less by the game whether the team wins or loses.

call it whatever you want. I'm of the opinion that we aren't supposed to care about this season, just like we weren't supposed to care about last season. The time for actually caring will be in 2-3 years when all the kids from potomac get here.

Posted by: MrMadison | April 22, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, 231. Er, I'm sorry, 231, from my perch of baseball wisdom I note your minor comment and suggest that perhaps you don't fully understand the wisdom of trends, nor, based on your handle, trendiness. Condemn, condemn!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Summed up my feelings well, MrMadison, I just wish it will change soon.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"With the NJ event coming up on Sunday"

detail please, for those who do not read everyday and probably could have missed this. i recall some picnic discussion but in addition to being a lurker i am also a skimmer.

Posted by: theraph | April 22, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I just want to add onto my last post by saying that apathy in sports is BAD.

I believe that not caring whether your team wins or loses is NOT A GOOD THING.

Posted by: MrMadison | April 22, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone mentioned Harris's comment in the gamer that the young players don't have mentors within the team? That is a troubling and important observation. Another reason to hope Dmitri gets well soon, because I think he's one person who cd help in that area. As for WMP being in tears, as far as I'm concerned it shows how much he cares.

Posted by: Section 109 | April 22, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

to be fair, 506, to quote myself, it's a really small sample. but it's still nothing to brag about.

still, he is hitting and playing much better the past week or so.

Posted by: 231 | April 22, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Hey! Maybe The Caps are sucking all the *win* out of the city and once they're done, the Nats will finally get their share.


Posted by: NatsNut | April 22, 2008 11:35 AM
-------
So, there's a finite amount of *win* available to any one geographic location? Me thinks that New England may have gotten a waiver?

Posted by: N@sfan | April 22, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Good points, all, on the issue of who has the right to post here. Everyone can spill forth their opinions. The trap though that I'm afraid some may fall into is:

Not hitting + errors = Not caring

Good hitting = caring

Suddenly Felipe's game "has more life"? The only apathetic thing I've seen so far is Wily Mo not running out a pop up immediately one time. Other than that I've seen no signs of "not caring". If anything these guys are pressing because they care too much. Criticisms of their talent may be warranted at some point after we have enough data, but I don't see apathy amongst these guys.

Posted by: #4 | April 22, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

My numerous attempts to repost the announcement have failed, theraph, but I'm hoping that a link to the original announcement might get through:

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2008/04/after_a_412_start_and_14_innin.html#comments

---

"With the NJ event coming up on Sunday"

detail please, for those who do not read everyday and probably could have missed this. i recall some picnic discussion but in addition to being a lurker i am also a skimmer.

Posted by: theraph | April 22, 2008 11:44 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 22, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Madison -- I count myself among those who are disappointed with the way this season has gone so far, and when I criticize those who post in capital letters and exclamation points demanding change for the sake of change, I do not do so from on high, quite the opposite.

I don't think I know enough to say that the problems so far are Manny's fault for not stressing fundamentals in Spring Training, or Lenny's fault for not correcting flaws in Hitter X's swing, or Zimmerman's fault for (wrongly) believing he's swinging the bat well. Phil Wood's point was that most if not all of us here have no earthly idea what's going on in the clubhouse or behind the scenes, and therefore, our opinions should be qualified accordingly.

For example, Ladson mentioned that St. Randy watched an hour of video with Lannan before his second to last start, showing him how he had deviated from the game plan in that outing, and resulting in (or at least contributing to) Lannan's excellent subsequent outing at Shea. Should we not presume that the other coaches are also doing their jobs and going about their business in the best way they can?

I do not presume to have the answers, and I don't think that the Fire Lenny crowd should presume to, either.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 22, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

You will need to scroll down to my 10:59 a.m. posting in the aforementioned link.

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 22, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

@#4: By "has more life" I didn't mean he wasn't hustling or didn't care - just that something seems to have clicked for him in the last week or so. Heck, I'm one who'll always feel bad for the guys who care and struggle mightily, eg Willy Mo. I'm hoping he connects on a mamouth one, just so he won't be so down on himself - I know he's trying.

Posted by: BigNatsFan | April 22, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

And I agree with Mr. Madison, and 506, about caring a little less about this season with every loss, and turning to the future (this was "Stage 5: Acceptance" in my Five Stages of Nats Fan Grief from a few days ago). I'm still hoping for a miraculous turnaround, but I'm also acquiring some P-Nats tickets and wondering if Balester will get the call if his start goes well tonight ...

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 22, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

what we need is a rainout.

Posted by: longterm | April 22, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

And thank you, anonymous poster from 11:37, for putting the bunt debate to bed.

(And c'mon, use a moniker, it makes the conversation easier and more fun.)

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 22, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Barry, this whole thing w/ Lenny Harris concerns me. He really has a lackadaisical attitude, like it's not his job to teach these guys to hit. His comment "it's a mystery to me..." what is up with that???? Has anyone progressed under his guidance? How do the players feel about him? It seems all Lenny tells them is go the other way - is this helping or confusing them? I don't think I have heard them comment on his teaching skills. Why isn't Lenny more of a mentor to these players? His comments regarding Zimmerman do seem like a shot at him.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Longterm, you might be onto something there. Maybe they need something to put the fun back in the game. Like getting drunk and sliding around in the mud on the basepaths. Or like returning to TerraNatsa for an 11-game homestand before a surprisingly large and supportive crowd, enjoying the spring weather after a few days of rain, and baseball in the Nation's Capital.

Posted by: Bob L. (Thunder)Head | April 22, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

419, just please use your moniker, you're not really in exile, because you keep posting.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Run scoring sac bunt...
I saw the play and the credit really shouldn't go to Diaz (even if the announcers piled praise on him).

1) Diaz had been walking toward home during the entire at bat. Chico should have stepped off (or even thrown to third) at least a few times. This should have been called by the manager, catcher and Zimmerman.
2) Zimmerman just wasn't paying any attention. Either during the at-bat as Diaz would walk with him heading to home or during the play in question when he did the same thing and scored.
3) With runners on the corners the point is to get an out and keep the runner from scoring. SS should cover 3rd, 2B covers 1st and 3b and 1b cover the bunt.
4) It was idiotic that no one was covering 3b
5) It's the catchers job to direct traffic, at the very least yell at Zimmerman that Diaz is breaking toward homeplate

I think they actually could have gotten him at home if they'd been lucky, but he should never have scored on that play.

Posted by: in nova | April 22, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Here's a fun game we do at one of the Hip-Hop forums I post on.

What's in Lenny Harris' IPod right now?

Posted by: MrMadison | April 22, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

you all went to such great lengths to kill that 419 jerk. why do you keep trying to bring him/her/it back?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

If by great length you mean NatsNut losing her temper on a bad day when we all had very short tempers and indulging in venting. I can't blame her, I've lost my temper on 419, too, and when I've looked back I've known not all of it was fair. But 419 always knew that he had been not entirely fair to me, too, in the past.

It's like a bad call. Sometimes you get them, but everyone does. Sometimes you realizes that you've been pitching out of the strike zone a little too much and that sure didn't help getting the right call. You just shake it off and come back.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Here's a fun game we do at one of the Hip-Hop forums I post on.

What's in Lenny Harris' IPod right now?

Posted by: MrMadison | April 22, 2008 12:33 PM

-----

Atonement, by the Roots?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"Pray" - MC Hammer.

Posted by: MrMadison | April 22, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Bob L.--

Irrationally calling for people to be fired is one thing, but you're asking us to say "heck of a job Lenny/JimBo" in the face of sustained, subpar performance. I think there's some common sense space for rational accountability that isn't just panic at the first sign of trouble.

My position is that Lenny is a minor pawn in this game, but I can't see what he's done to distinguish himself (unlike Manny), so if someone needs to be fired to send a message, fine let's start with him.

Bowden's really the one who should go. This isn't a hasty, panicky rant by the pitchfork wielding mob. His track record as a GM is just terrible. He ran the Reds from 1992-2003, and made the playoffs exactly once. He finished over .500 4 times, counting the strike year. In 3 years with the Nats, he's never finished over .500 once. Let's assume we're below .500 this year. That's 15 seasons, one playoff appearance, no world series appearances, and just 4 seasons above .500.

Check it out yourself. http://www.thebaseballcube.com/general-managers/jim-bowden.shtml

Does it really require a crazy mob mentality to conclude that this is not good enough?


As for Phil Wood, one man's "respected baseball insider" is another man's "cozy old boy's club crony." Monopolist League Baseball is a notoriously insular club dominated by a tiny circle of 30 owners where incompetence and corruption is tolerated and faulty conventional wisdom goes unchallenged for generations. Phil Wood seems a good representative of that culture.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 22, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, Phil Wood doesn't get the creeps here.

Posted by: MIB (born in Chicago) | April 22, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Wait, Steven, when did Bob or anyone say you should give praise to Lenny Harris?

Find it and post it.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Phil Wood gives me the creeps. At least his hair does, anyway.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Great game for these here parts, MrMadison.

I'm incompetent when it comes to hip-hop, but I gotta submit "Mental" by Courtney Jaye, for the title as well as for these lyrics:

"I wanna do everything right
But everything's going wrong
I want to feel heaven on earth
But nothing ever lasts that long

Baby I'm goin' mental
So much potential
I can't stand to watch it withering away
It's out of control now
It's getting old now
And I can't afford to waste another day"

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 22, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

#4: I based my comment that the major league hitting coach sets the tone for hitting instructors at all levels of the organization on an article I read in the past year or two about the Nats pitching coaches. Since I was unable to locate the reference using Google, I'll say that that point is irrelevant to my core argument that Harris is learning on the job and therefore not qualified to be working at the major league level. With all of the young players on this team, the Nats should not be getting by on a budget coaching staff.

Posted by: PB | April 22, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I managed good, but boy, did they play bad.

Posted by: The Ol' Perfesser | April 22, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Obviously this whole debate about Lenny Harris would be made moot if tonight Lannan pitches a nine inning shutout and we score our usual one, two or three runs.

Posted by: Dale | April 22, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Until we get some position players coming up from the minors, there's no incentive for the players on the major league roster to hit. They can't even bench anybody because our bench is so poor. They might rotate one or two guys, but the other 7 are scott-free. Bowden's neglected the position players in the drafts, and until we get some home-grown players, it isn't going to be much different. The only two names I hear are Marrero and Maxwell. Those are the only two with any power. And that's it. The Orioles had the same problem until they unloaded Tejada and Bedard. Now even they don't. Bowden may be building some pitching, but unless he turns them around for some real hitters, it won't do much good. Four years out of Montreal, and we only have one or two hitters in the system. Or thereabouts.

Posted by: Brue | April 22, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Phil Wood is NOT a baseball insider. Just because he now has a job related to baseball -- and anyone who gets paid to be involved in MLB is of course deemed by the 24 hour posters of Nerds Journal to not be nearly as smart as participants in Nerds Journal -- doesn't mean he's a member of any "old boys club." That's just so lame, decrying anyone that disagrees with you as a member of an "old boys club." Maybe do some research about him and consider his background -- you could do this without even having to get up from your computer! He's not indebted to anyone, and he's as independent-minded as you're going to find. And if you're just now finding out about him, that proves that you haven't been paying too much attention to baseball in DC, and you might want to tone it down until you're up to speed.

This forum would be much better if some of you didn't feel the need to express every single thought that goes through your, apparently, otherwise unoccupied heads. Step away from the computer for a couple of hours, and gain some perspective. For the love of god, Paul LoD has only had 35 at bats, it's a little early for all of your grade school attacks on him.

Posted by: natsbybirth | April 22, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Wait, Steven, when did Bob or anyone say you should give praise to Lenny Harris?

Find it and post it.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 12:58 PM
______________

Well, Barry asked what we think of "More On Lenny," and Bob L. at 10:30 posts all about how we need to listen to Phil Wood (who somehow saw fit to use the words "terrific" and "Lenny Harris" in the same sentence) and that those of us calling for Lenny (and in my view more importantly Bowden) to be fired are "know-nothing blogger blowhards." Later, he tells us that there isn't a difference between a coach and a therapist, which I assume is intended to support Lenny's "how are you feeling?; any problems at home?" approach.

I took that as a defense of Lenny's performance, but you can correct me if I misunderstood.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 22, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

For the love of god, Paul LoD has only had 35 at bats, it's a little early for all of your grade school attacks on him.

Posted by: natsbybirth | April 22, 2008 1:21 PM
--------------------------
well, he started it (nyah, nyah!)

Posted by: e | April 22, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what's for lunch today. Ooooh, was that blue sky through the clouds?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Well, Barry asked what we think of "More On Lenny," and Bob L. at 10:30 posts all about how we need to listen to Phil Wood (who somehow saw fit to use the words "terrific" and "Lenny Harris" in the same sentence) and that those of us calling for Lenny (and in my view more importantly Bowden) to be fired are "know-nothing blogger blowhards." Later, he tells us that there isn't a difference between a coach and a therapist, which I assume is intended to support Lenny's "how are you feeling?; any problems at home?" approach.

I took that as a defense of Lenny's performance, but you can correct me if I misunderstood.

-----

I'll let Bob comment on his intentions with Phil Wood, though I think I know them. But in the spirit of not assuming I know other people's thoughts and commenting on them, I'll refrain.

You should note that Bob was making a lamely hilarious joke (as all our humor is) on theraph's name. He said, "And, theraph, is there a difference between a coach and a theraphist?" Note the second 'h'.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Phil Wood is NOT a baseball insider. Just because he now has a job related to baseball -- and anyone who gets paid to be involved in MLB is of course deemed by the 24 hour posters of Nerds Journal to not be nearly as smart as participants in Nerds Journal -- doesn't mean he's a member of any "old boys club." That's just so lame, decrying anyone that disagrees with you as a member of an "old boys club."

__________________

Well, other than reading his column, you're right, I don't know who Phil Wood is. I was replying to Bob L.'s post, which calls him "highly regarded baseball insider Phil Wood." Maybe the Phil Wood fan club should get your talking points down.

And anyone who can write this kind of fawning claptrap about a GM who has one playoff appearance in 14 years IS a good representative of MLB's crony culture, regardless of what his actual background is:
http://www.examiner.com/a-966748~Expect_Bowden__Nats_to_make_significant_noise_in_the_offseason.html

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 22, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

You should note that Bob was making a lamely hilarious joke (as all our humor is) on theraph's name. He said, "And, theraph, is there a difference between a coach and a theraphist?" Note the second 'h'.
_________

I don't get the joke, but regardless if Bob was trying to argue that Lenny SHOULD be fired, he had a funny way of doing it.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 22, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

on a differrnt front, i personally like listening to bob carpenter and ray knight more than sutton. knight has a lot of really good insights whereas sutton only talks about pitching. im gettin tired of sutton. any1 have any feelings on this.

Posted by: dk | April 22, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Gotta get up early to get in on this debate (when you live four time zones west of Washington)...

I don't think that the Nats should fire Harris (or anyone else).

BUT... here is my critique... What shouldn't have happened is that a fire that started the first week of April would smoulder for three weeks before any significant progress is made (and by progress, we're talking about the change in approach in yesterday's game). I think the point has been made above that coaching at the major league level is more about refinement than overhaul... but the slump has reinforced a lot of bad habits, and now we're starting to talk overhaul (or at least 'wholesale refinements') not necessarily in mechanics, but in attitude and process.

Those things should have been caught at the very beginning of the slump and addressed... and (note the qualifier here) it APPEARS that they were not. I don't know what happens in BP or in the clubhouse, so I don't know if it is a failing in coaching or not... but it is somewhat unsettling that by simply changing an attitude/approach results in a significant change in performance, but not until three weeks passes from when the problem was first observed.

Having coached a different sport, and at the opposite end of the skill continuum, I can say this... a big part of coaching is recognizing that there is something that requires intervention in the first place, and then quickly putting together a plan to address it.

My question is, did that happen?

On a different, but related topic, I HAVE noticed that Felipe has been a new man since getting starts over the weekend... It may be that he will lead the team out of the slump, if for no other reason that he knows that he needs to perform, and this is his (perhaps last) opportunity.

I think the reason that WE are stressing about it is that we have much higher expectations... perhaps unrealistically high. It sure was fun to be 3-0.

Posted by: Wigi | April 22, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Smile and Wave, Smile and Wave, great lineup, but you forgot Johann Santana and A-Rod. The Lerners would at last have the approval of all who post here, but I'd have to get used to calling Tyson's Corner A-Rod Corner, and seeing the Lerner's at the Food Stamp Office.

Posted by: flynnie | April 22, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I think the reason that WE are stressing about it is that we have much higher expectations... perhaps unrealistically high.
________

This sure is true.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 22, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I would explain the "theraphist" line to "theraph", but it's way more effort than is needed.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 22, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I still think it is too early in the season to believe this slump will continue in the way it has so far. We have more talent and we are younger than last year.

This team is just as capable of tearing off a five-game win streak as anyone. Starting pitching is improved and the batting averages will come around. Patience grasshoppers.

Posted by: Section 223 | April 22, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

flynnie: Johan Santana and A-Rod cannot make smile and wave, smile and wave's dream list for next year's lineup because they are no longer free agents and will not be acquirable except by trade. I'm presuming that smile and wave, smile and wave culled the list of free agents for the upcoming offseason and selected his/her list of notables. Of course, the list is subject to change (as previously noted on this board, the Dodgers are talking to Furcal about an extension, which, if it occurs, would necessarily hamper his availability).

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

Smile and Wave, Smile and Wave, great lineup, but you forgot Johann Santana and A-Rod. The Lerners would at last have the approval of all who post here, but I'd have to get used to calling Tyson's Corner A-Rod Corner, and seeing the Lerner's at the Food Stamp Office.

Posted by: flynnie | April 22, 2008 1:48 PM

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

So, Lerners ARE Cheap, Swanni, JayB and a few others are upset that the Lerners didn't spend the money to pick up good players in free agency the past two years. If they got their way, this would be the starting lineup for the 2009 Washington Nationals:

1B -- Mark Teixeira, 28 ($12.5M -- 2008 salary)
2B -- Orlando Hudson, 30 ($6.25M)
3B -- Hank Blalock, 27 ($5.95M)
SS -- Rafael Furcal, 30 ($13M)
LF -- Manny Ramirez, 35 ($20M)
CF -- Ken Griffey, Jr., 38 ($12.5M)
RF -- Vladimir Guerrero, 32 ($14.5M)
C -- Ivan Rodriguez, 36 ($13M)

SP -- C.C. Sabathia, 27 ($11M)
SP -- Brad Penny, 29 ($8.5M)
SP -- Jon Garland, 28 ($12M)
SP -- John Lackey, 29 ($7M)
SP -- Ben Sheets, 29 ($11M)

Closer -- Joe Nathan, 33 ($6M)

Total spent in FA -- $159.2M

The Nats could just use their "prospects" to fill out the relief pitcher positions, Zim could be their utility infielder and Milledge and Dukes the #4 and 5 outfielders.

Would this work for you all?

Posted by: smile and wave, smile and wave | April 22, 2008 11:33 AM

Posted by: faNATic | April 22, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

3) With runners on the corners the point is to get an out and keep the runner from scoring. SS should cover 3rd, 2B covers 1st and 3b and 1b cover the bunt.
4) It was idiotic that no one was covering 3b

Posted by: in nova | April 22, 2008 12:21 PM
-------------------------

Then who would cover 2nd when the hitter fakes a bunt and the runner steals???

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going to spend a lot of time cheerleading for Jimbo, and I don't think I've done so in the past, or asked anyone else to do so. (And 506 is right that my coach/theraphist post was a joke and had nothing to do with an evaluation of Lenny.)

For those interested, here is MLBTradeRumors' take on Jimbo's performance as the Reds GM:

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2008/02/jim-bowden-tr-1.html

And here are his actual transactions as Reds GM:

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2008/02/jim-bowden-tr-1.html

The verdict? Meh, decidedly so. Aside from Paul O'Neil (his first trade, which proved to be a gaffe) and Griffey, who got hurt, he didn't really acquire anyone particularly interesting, nor did he deal away anyone interesting. Overall, the Reds record during his tenure can't be pinned entirely on Jimbo because he was hamstrung by Marge Schott for much of that period. They did manage 5 winning seasons alongside 5 losing ones; two division titles; one NLCS appearance; and two more second-place finishes, but there were some pretty bad years in there as well.

The jury is still out on his tenure as Nats GM, and the result will depend on the performance of WMP (for Vidro, essentially), Milledge (for Schneider and Church), Flores (Rule V pick from the Mets), Smoker, Zimmermann, and Burgess (the three picks received when Soriano and Guillen were allowed to depart via free agency), Mock and Chico (for Livo), Clippard (for Albaladejo) Shairon Martis (for Mike Stanton) and, to a lesser extent, free agent signees Meat, Belly, Hanrahan and Colume, and veterans acquired via trade in Kearns and Lopez.

You know what? I think he deserves some credit for turning the 2004 Expos into that pile of prospects while giving us the 2007 Nationals to root for while we wait. If the 2008 Nationals can return to being a plucky, competent .500 team like they were last year then I'll say job well done so far and keep rooting for those prospects to arrive.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 22, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

faNATic, that's a huge quote to miss the all important line:

"in free agency the past two years."

Posted by: 231 | April 22, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, April 22d. I thought that the list could accomodate some "shoulda's" with the "oughta's," some past tense with the future perfect as we assemble the Yankees on the Anacostia.

Posted by: flynnie | April 22, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

231, that's a pretty short quote that still somehow miscites the original.

From my seat, "in free agency the past two years" appears to refer explicitly to why people were upset on this board, not to the makeup of the proposed roster.

Posted by: faNATic | April 22, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Never thought I would say this, but anyone think we should give the hot-hitting Felipe some more PT in LF, give Wily Mo a couple days to watch from the bench, maybe pick up more of a pinch-hitter mentality? This would also put Belliard in the lineup, which gives us a contact, take-what-the-pitcher-gives-you hitter into the lineup, which we certainly have need of.

thoughts?

Posted by: s | April 22, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Also, for what it's worth, every single one of the players on the smile and wave (x2) list is scheduled to be a 2009 free agent. The only one you can take off the list is Joe Nathan, who has signed an extension with his current club.

Since we've abandoned Tin Yurl'ing, here's a full link:
http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2002/02/2008-09-free-agents.html

Posted by: faNATic | April 22, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Bob L.,

Good post about Jimbo. As a person who was a Reds fan for 30 years before the Nats came, I thought Jimbo did a pretty decent job in Cincinnati. The Marge factor and the small market made his job very challenging.

One of those 2nd place finishes was the 1999 team that had 96 wins and lost a 1 game playoff to the Mets.

Posted by: Section 505/203 | April 22, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I think most of us are disgruntled about the performance of the '08 Nats, not just because they're lousy (we always knew they'd be lousy), but because we've been told (and believed) that the franchise has turned the corner.

So far this year, it appears that they haven't, because of the W/L record. But if you look at the starting lineup now versus ones in years past, I would take today's Nats. Individually, there are positions I'd like to swap out (e.g. Soriano for WMP, or Guillen for Kearns), but on the whole, the production we got from former players were from guys who weren't going to be building blocks (Livo, Vidro, Schnieder, Loaiza). And even though most of our guys are underperforming, their talent far outweighs any frets on our part.

I think the Nats are better than their record shows (and try not to laugh at this) and that we are at close to the point where we can identify specific needs. Teams that fail in free agency (like the Giants and Dodgers) go after whoever they can. The ones that succeed go after parts. With Zimm, Millege, Flores, Johnson, Marrero (eventually), Dukes (hopefully), and our relief depth, we have better core pieces than we ever had before.

Posted by: regarding talent | April 22, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Rather than Barry's invitation to call for the head of the hitting coach, I would rather speculate on this: If such a team were assembled, including A-Rod and Sanatana, would they sell out? In this tepid market, in this abysmal economy, without the New York or Philly or Boston+168 surrounding towns (including Barry's own Scituate) population base and baseball-mania, would the All-Star Nats even be a hot ticket? The Caps didn't sell out except in the playoffs. Boswell points out that the Yankees didn't sell out before 1995 when they started winning all the time, and this in a huge population center. What would such a lineup accomplish except bankrupting the Lerners?

Posted by: flynnie | April 22, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

s, I also can't believe I'm saying this, but I wouldn't mind seeing Felipe in left tonight, WMP in the batting cages and Belliard slapping singles.

regarding talent, I agree with your overall sentiment, and your post made me realize that I had left Dukes off my list in the Bowden-related post above.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 22, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I would offer that the suggestion to put Felipe in LF is a little shortsighted. The point of this season is to give Wily Mo 500 ABs to see what he can do. The team can't give up on him after 50 ABs. Yes, he's been horrible. Every time I see him wave at a slider in the dirt, I want to throw something at the TV. The point is though that this year is about finding out who will eventually be a piece to the puzzle. WMP has never been given a full shot. The Nats need to give it to him and then decide what to do with him after that.

Posted by: #4 | April 22, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Geez Bob, you're making me dizzy with the positive spin. I mean really, does being in first place on the last day of the 1994 strike year *really* constitute a division title? I guess then the Expos won the World Series that year. Is 81-81 really a "winning season?" I think the polite term is "non-losing season," though I just call it "mediocrity."

The results speak for themselves--one playoff appearance in 11 years in Cincy is worse than "meh." It's bad. Failure. Not nearly good enough to earn the benefit of the doubt when you're in your 4th year running a 5-15 squad that is not only losing but crapping the bed in embarrassingly amateur fashion.

But you want to examine the gory details, so I'll take the bait.

In your pro-Bowden post, you link to an article that includes this: "Bowden called the shots in 11 entry drafts for the Reds. Only Austin Kearns (1998) became a productive big leaguer." Do we really need to go further?

Fine, we shall. Blame Marge Schott? Ok, I guess she really made it impossible to win, didn't she. Oh, except the Reds won the WS in 1990 and 90 games the year before Jim took over, and actually the Reds were over .500 6 of 8 years of her ownership before Jim came in. Doesn't really seem like she really was the consistent factor in the Reds struggles.

You say "aside from Paul O'Neill he didn't deal away anyone interesting" (and how did you like the play otherwise, Mrs. Lincoln?), but there's Paul Konerko and B.J. Ryan. Reggie Sanders was a pretty serviceable OF for a number of years after Jim cast him off. I bet Cincy fans who are watching Gary Majewski would be happy to have Pedro Feliciano right now.

But isn't the reality that the main reason that he didn't trade for or away anyone of consequence because of his terrible drafting? You have to actually acquire interesting players in the first place before you can get rid of them.

Griffey got hurt, true. But injuries happen. And are you really accept that one injury, even of a great player, explains away 11 years of failure?

Bottom line, the goal is to win the WS, and he didn't. Didn't even come close.

(BTW, what happened to defending Lenny? All us know-nothing blogger blowhards really wanted to hear more about how patient we need to be.)

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 22, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I agree with #4 - it sounds like WMP is being hard enough on hmself as it is. Benching him might just shatter what little confidence in his abilities he has left. Let him work through this slump with playing time.

Posted by: BigNatsFan | April 22, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm up

Posted by: Knew Poast | April 22, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I have no idea how this list was generated, but none of these guys that I could tell was an FA last year. And these salary numbers are way, way too low for what these guys would command on the open market. Christ, Gag-ne got 10 mil last year. This seems like fantasy land to me.

1B -- Mark Teixeira, 28 ($12.5M -- 2008 salary)
2B -- Orlando Hudson, 30 ($6.25M)
3B -- Hank Blalock, 27 ($5.95M)
SS -- Rafael Furcal, 30 ($13M)
LF -- Manny Ramirez, 35 ($20M)
CF -- Ken Griffey, Jr., 38 ($12.5M)
RF -- Vladimir Guerrero, 32 ($14.5M)
C -- Ivan Rodriguez, 36 ($13M)

SP -- C.C. Sabathia, 27 ($11M)
SP -- Brad Penny, 29 ($8.5M)
SP -- Jon Garland, 28 ($12M)
SP -- John Lackey, 29 ($7M)
SP -- Ben Sheets, 29 ($11M)

Closer -- Joe Nathan, 33 ($6M)

Total spent in FA -- $159.2M

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | April 22, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Steve on CH,

So, Adam Dunn is not a productive ML'er? Sean Casey, Mike Cameron, DA Meat Hook, Ron Villone, Danny Graves, Aaron Boone, Ron Gant, and Jason LaRue. None of these guys signed, traded for, or drafted by Jimbo, didn't have or are having solid ML careers?

Marge Schott was a well known cheap skate and with the way the players salary's sky rocketed in the 1990's it made Jimbo's job that much more difficult.

Look, I'm not saying that Jimbo hasn't made some bad moves but, hell what GM hasn't. I just think that calling for his head now, 2 years into the plan is a very hasty. Especially, with the way the minor leagues system has improved under his watch.

Posted by: Section 505/203 | April 22, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

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