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The bullpen: Shaky strength?

I wrote this morning about Manny Acta's handling of the bullpen yesterday, a day in which each decision happened to work out. This was not intended to say that Acta has always made all the right moves, but more a way of pointing out how much goes into each decision - starting in the hours before the game, then in the crux of competition, when he and pitching coach Randy St. Claire are in constant communication.

Since the offseason, Acta and others have considered the bullpen the strength of this team. The roles are pretty clearly defined. Saul Rivera is the workhorse sixth- or seventh-inning guy, Luis Ayala could work the seventh or eighth, Ray King is the lone lefty who should only face left-handed hitters (as he did yesterday), Jon Rauch the primary setup man and Chad Cordero the closer. At this point, throw in Jesus Colome, Joel Hanrahan and Chris Schroder as long men/early-inning guys, and it's supposed to be a nice little group.

"We've got some good arms down there," catcher Paul Lo Duca said.

But thus far, is the bullpen the team's strength? (And with a 4-9 record, should we be even talking about the strength of the team.)

Numbers from April are basically meaningless, and numbers over the first two weeks are even more so. That said, let me sling some at you.

The Nationals bullpen has a 4.36 ERA, 10th in the National League. (The starters are at 5.07, 14th in the league.)

Nationals relievers are holding opposing hitters to a .230 average, which is fourth-best in the NL. However, they have given up 26 walks in their 43-1/3 innings (an average of 3-1/3 innings every time out), second-most in the league. They've also allowed six homers.

But until tomorrow's game in New York, presumably, the group hadn't been set up in its normal roles. Cordero was thrust into the closer's spot yesterday when he thought he would be held back a little bit. Circumstances, though, dictated a change. He was eventually lifted with the bases loaded, two down and Brian McCann at the plate.

"I knew I was going to pitch today," Cordero said, "but I thought they were going to kind of ease me in, but I was ready for it. I would have liked to have stayed out there and tried to get the last out, but Manny thought Rauch had the better chance against McCann. That's fine. I just kind of wish I would've been able to stay out there."

McCann against Cordero: 2 for 6 with a homer. McCann against Rauch, going into the at-bat: 0 for 8. McCann flew out.

So it worked. But there are concerns. Start with Cordero. I dealt with this in the notebook, but his fastball is not where it usually is. He has to be able to have that fastball at 88-91 (on his best day, he'll throw one or two at 93), because it's not overpowering. When he's going well, he hides the fastball and throws it with late movement on the corners. When he's not, it sails back over the center of the plate. Do any of that at his current 84-86, and he's in trouble. "Concerning," is the word used by pitching coach Randy St. Claire.

Rauch is the next potential problem. Though he got McCann yesterday, the Braves catcher did hit the ball fairly hard. Rauch, who leads all of baseball in appearances the past two years, has now pitched in six games and allowed five earned runs for an ERA of 8.44.

"It was just good to see that they had the confidence in me to come in in that situation after the slow start I've had," he said after his second save yesterday.

Rivera might be the stud of the group right now. He gave up two runs against Philly on April 3, the game that started the nine-game losing streak. But he's been almost flawless since with a 1.93 ERA and a .153 opponents' batting average. He is also holding left-handed hitters to a .133 average, meaning he might be able to be used against lefties when King has already been spent.

Ayala might be coming back to the form he had in 2005, before ligament replacement surgery in his elbow. He's got a 2.84 ERA in a team-high seven appearances. Colome has obvious control issues (eight walks in seven innings), but he can still bring some heat, and when he doesn't overthrow, he's pretty good. And King does what he's supposed to do against left-handed hitters, having retired eight of nine this year. (Right-handers have reached base six of the nine times he's faced them, however.)

Beginning Tuesday, the relievers will be back in their normal roles for the first time this year, albeit with a shaky Cordero at the back end. What do you make of this group? Or, put another way, if and when the Nationals have a lead and the starter comes out - as Tim Redding did in the sixth yesterday - are you confident or queasy?

By Barry Svrluga  |  April 14, 2008; 10:48 AM ET
 
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Next: Lo Duca, Milledge prepare for Big Apple

Comments

figures, as i'm typing, barry has a new post. reposted from the end of the last entry:

after two games, i think i have decided what my least favorite part of the new park is: mobile vendors (and fans) in the sight lines.

really depends on where you're sitting, but if you're near an aisle, beer guys can be a severe annoyance to the views.

in RFK, there were more places a vendor could be that wasn't in your view. we sat in the 500s, 1st or 2nd row, and vendors and fans could wander by and not block your view very much. at the new park... not so much. they're in the aisles and it's nearly impossible for them to even duck out of the way. it was especially bad on sold-out opening night, where we were constantly asking people to move so we could see the game. at least a few of the younger vendors would duck, but some of those guys probably couldn't squat all that well (at least the ones where we were, they weren't exactly in the best of shape).

he11, on opening night, i even had one guy who wanted me to stand up to let him into our row right as they were throwing the first pitch of the game! i wanted to kick that guy in the teeth. told him to sit down on the step and wait.

oh, and the seats in the mezzanine level, at least, felt a bit tight. i'm not that big of a guy. granted, it could have been all the layers of clothing, since i seem to only go to games when it's in the low 50s so far this year, but i felt kinda cramped.

Posted by: 231 | April 14, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I had the same experience Friday night, including a gaggle of young women who had to all hug each other before they would sit down, as they arrived in the third inning. Add to this the guy in front of us who ordered beer from every vendor that came by but couldn't count change (and didn't tip once), we spent the first few innings craning our necks around people who had no interest in the game.

Any chance we can impress upon the team to get the ushers to hand out a sort of etiquette list of how to watch a ballgame? Or at least get the ushers to enforce decent standards of when to get up and down?

Posted by: mo | April 14, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Yes, the bullpen has been concerning. Rauch especially, who I've been advocating being the actual closer (with Ayala as setup guy) and to trade Cordero.

The lack of options for some of these guys has limited our moves. But perhaps its time to shake up the order of guys pitching. Rauch looks like he's missing it right now. Put Ayala as setup, Cordero as closer, use Rivera and Schroeder more. Stop letting King pitch to more than one guy!

When does Wagner come back?

Posted by: Sec131 | April 14, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Not as confident as I was last year, but I'm hoping things will settle down. One thing Barry didn't discuss: do we have any real understanding of what role Lo Duca has played in our pitching so far? How well is he communicating with the pitchers? How well is he calling games? When we see a really awful inning (like Jason's fifth last Thursday or John Lannan's first on Saturday), do we have any idea what responsibility the catcher has?

Posted by: Section 109 | April 14, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, the bullpen. Forget Cordero's velocity, and that of Colome and the rest. If they'd just throw the ball over the stinking plate, the other guys (well, other than Chipper, anyway) might just hit the ball at someone. The walks are killing us.

If Colome and Hanrahan could consistently find the plate, they'd be overpowering. Cordero's ball has enough movement that he can be effective, though usually with a little drama involved. I'm sure Rauch will come around. They can still be very good if they can keep the walks down.

Posted by: mo | April 14, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

a little nervous with the bullpen, for now. but i'm hoping/guessing that things will average out. i'm definitely a proponent of the "april stats don't mean much in and of themselves" theory. most people don't look at any other 2-4 week set of stats for a whole team the same way they look at the first 2-4 weeks of the season. they're over scrutinized and given too much importance. nobody expects prince fielder, soriano, or adam dunn to be crawling at the bottom of the slugging category come june, but that's where they are now. or for tulowitski to hit 159. or jose reyes to hit 205. or david ortiz to hit 071 and slug 140.

Posted by: 231 | April 14, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Section 109 posted what I was going to asked. There seem to be a lot of issues with what pitches are being called. The common denominator in all our pitching struggles is Lo Duca. I wish we had used Flores a little more while he was here to get a read on that. And, hopefully now that he's healed, Estrada can earn his gift of a roster spot by starting a few games.

IMHO, LoDuca is emerging as the poster boy for the Nats woeful season. He doesn't appear to handle pitchers well, his hitting is lousy, and he points fingers at all teammates for losses.

Posted by: Mt. Vernon Nat | April 14, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I, too, have wondered what role Lo Duca has played in the poor pitching. Catcher50?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 14, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

All the bullpen needs is some squirrels with light sabers, as can be found here:

http://www.fedorafreakflicks.com/natsnq/

(You have to scroll down a bit.)

Or should those be light-SABRs?

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 14, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Just reading our bullpen's list of names, I feel great about it. But looking at what they've done so far, I'm a little queasy.

Then again, they've been carrying a heavy load for a long time. It's now the bats' turn to get hot and give them a little 5-run-lead relief.

I've been Chad Cordero's ex-wife for a long time, but I have to admit, I did miss the guy. I talk a lot of trash about him, but I don't ever wish ill of him.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 14, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

you guys should try out the 400 section. no etiquette needed there as seats are so steep.

Posted by: gretchen | April 14, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I too would like to know how PLD is fitting in, both in the clubhouse and in working with the pitching staff.

I'm not worried about the bullpen right now. The hitting concerns me a lot more.

Posted by: nattaboy | April 14, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Oh right! The LoDuca factor.

The Other Paper had Lannan bummed out that the original pitching plan wasn't followed. It didn't say, but I wondered if he meant HE didn't follow it or if LODUCA didn't follow it.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 14, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Boy, am I glad Paul Lo Duca is on this team!

Posted by: Felipe Lopez | April 14, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

LOL!
____________________

Boy, am I glad Paul Lo Duca is on this team!

Posted by: Felipe Lopez | April 14, 2008 11:35 AM

Posted by: NatsNut | April 14, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I noticed some deeply discounted Nats shirts at a local store and was thinking about getting one. If you had to choose between shirts that said Vidro, Guillen, or Castilla, which of those would draw the least ridicule at the ballpark?

Posted by: Capybara | April 14, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to e-mail Stan with the following request. Perhaps others should as well.

Mr. Kasten:

You have built a park with great sightlines from every seat, marvelous views of the playing field from the concourses for fans not actually in their seats, wide concourses with multiple food and entertainment options for fans to keep themselves entertained when not actually paying attention to the game, as well as having TV and radio accounts of the game available in the concourses and restrooms for those fans who have been unavoidably pulled out of their seats during play to continue following the action. Would it not make sense, then, to implement and enforce a policy that says that fans may only return to their seats at the end of each half inning or during a pitcher change? Such a policy would greatly cut down on traffic in the aisles during play and allow those fans sitting in all those seats with great sightlines to actually see the game. Traffic out of the seating sections could still be allowed during play, which should cover any potential emergency situations. It's not the people quickly leaving their seats that mainly blocks the view anyway, but rather the people returning to their seats who are laden with food, burdened by slow-moving children or confused about where they are heading that provides the most annoying source of obstruction.

Thanks very much for your consideration here for fans like myself who come to stadium to actually watch the game.

Sincerely,

Section 419+1

(Of course, if anyone else does e-mail Stan, it would best to use your own words rather than just copying mine exactly. Mass-mailing of form letters is rarely effective.)

Now, back to my exile.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | April 14, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Capybara,
Go for Guillen. Who doesn't smile when thinking of that crazy, crazy man?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Queasy, queasy, queasy.

I always thought the bullpen was overrated. No faith whatsoever in Cordero. Wish we could trade him. I must admit, I always thought Rauch should be the closer, but that doesn't look too smart either.

As a group, they have pretty good numbers because they tend to settle down AFTER the damage is done - i.e., give up a key hit with men on base, then get the next few guys out. Bullpen numbers are very deceptive that way.

Frankly, the more I see of this team as a whole, the less optimistic I am.

Posted by: Queasy in Bethesda | April 14, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

As much as Rauch and Cordero have performed in the past I really think they have done it with smoke and mirrors. I will be surprised if they approach their performances of previous years. I hope they do but I don't think they will. The problems with relievers is that, aside from the Moe Rivera's of this world, you never really know what you have from year to year. Every team is the same.

When Rauch and Codero come in I have a quesay feeling.

Posted by: Mjames | April 14, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Good to see you 419. Great idea on the missive. BTW, according to the A-Z guide under Nationals Park on the team site, the policy is already in place, but evidently it is not being enforced:

"AISLE POLICY
As a courtesy to others, guests are requested to refrain from walking in the aisles during at-bats. Ushers will ask guests to voluntarily observe this policy."

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 14, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I don't even think hard and fast enforcement is necessary. Just a little reminder to folks would probably do wonders.

I'm all about the baseball etiquette and still forgot once this weekend. (sorry)

Posted by: NatsNut | April 14, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Natsfan1a, I think that is best approach the Nats can take. Restricting movement to half-innings, etc. is unreasonable. Consider the little boy who suddenly has to go -- between bats is very feasible but when your pitchers sometime walk 3 guys per inning and give up 7 runs without a change -- people need to be able to get up.

Posted by: GoNats | April 14, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Vidro was great for this franchise in Montreal. It's a shame that injuries have limited his effectiveness. He was the guy I was most excited to see in DC when the move was announced.

Guillen provided my all-time favorite moment in Nationals history with the pine tar/piece of garbage debacle in Anaheim. As someone once posted here, "God bless Guillen's crazy ass." That being said, he is a doper, and I tend to stay away from wearing the numbers of guys who popped up positive.

I'd say Castilla is the one for you. One of the best Mexicans to play the game, he was a class act all the way. I know injuries made him less effective as 2005 came to close, but he was traded more because the Nationals drafted Zimmerman. The symbolism there is enough to justify the shirt. Two all-star appearances and three silver slugger awards don't hurt, either.

If he hadn't been plunked by Cormier in the eighth innning of the home opener in 2005, he'd would've had a chance at the cycle. Great Nationals memory. I'm still getting my voice back from that game.

-----

If you had to choose between shirts that said Vidro, Guillen, or Castilla, which of those would draw the least ridicule at the ballpark?

Posted by: John in Mpls | April 14, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Mo: At $7.50 a beer, should we even HAVE to give a tip? I know that the vendor does not get that money, but at those prices, I wouldn't be too keen on giving a tip (and I in no way consider myself to be a cheap person).
-------------------------------------------
...Add to this the guy in front of us who ordered beer from every vendor that came by but couldn't count change (and didn't tip once)...
Posted by: mo | April 14, 2008 11:10 AM

Posted by: TimDz | April 14, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you, GoNats. I'd just like to see the at-bat policy enforced.

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 14, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I tend to think of it like going to the Orchestra. You don't know the rules until you go a couple times and catch on.

I think it would do wonders if the ushers politely asked people walking BACK to their seats to "hang on a sec" until the end of an at bat.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 14, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Cormier - don't remind me. grrrrr! :)

---

If he hadn't been plunked by Cormier in the eighth innning of the home opener in 2005, he'd would've had a chance at the cycle. Great Nationals memory. I'm still getting my voice back from that game.

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 14, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the vendor does make money based on the number of items he or she sells. At least, that's what vendors have explained to me. They don't need tips to make money. They just need to sell.

That being said, I don't think I've ever not tipped. I even tip the beer guys at the kiosks. Force of habit, I guess.

Posted by: John in Mpls | April 14, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I was at the Caps game against Carolina on April 1st and the ushers held us all back until a break in the action.

I know that it is different in baseball (action versus break time), but I would think that the ushers at the Park could do something in a modified manner.

-------------------------------------------
I tend to think of it like going to the Orchestra. You don't know the rules until you go a couple times and catch on.

I think it would do wonders if the ushers politely asked people walking BACK to their seats to "hang on a sec" until the end of an at bat.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 14, 2008 12:17 PM


Posted by: TimDz | April 14, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Thanks John, now I feel cheap AND Guilty.
------------------------------------------

Actually, the vendor does make money based on the number of items he or she sells. At least, that's what vendors have explained to me. They don't need tips to make money. They just need to sell.

That being said, I don't think I've ever not tipped. I even tip the beer guys at the kiosks. Force of habit, I guess.

Posted by: John in Mpls | April 14, 2008 12:19 PM

Posted by: TimDz | April 14, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I know, seriously!

Pointing and booing at Cormier at that moment was probably how my wife started liking baseball (she's English, so she gets a pass). It was great fun.

In retrospect, it was probably a good thing Cormier hit him. I was already absolutely giddy with joy that night. A cycle probably would've done me in. Death by ecstacy.

In other news, just ten days until my first game at Nationals Park!

-----

Cormier - don't remind me. grrrrr! :)

Posted by: John in Mpls | April 14, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

No one who spends $7.50 on a beer is cheap.

I can't help you with guilty. I hear the Pope will be in town, soon, though...

-----

Thanks John, now I feel cheap AND Guilty.

Posted by: John in Mpls | April 14, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"Consider the little boy who suddenly has to go -- between bats is very feasible but when your pitchers sometime walk 3 guys per inning and give up 7 runs without a change -- people need to be able to get up."

Which is why my suggestion was to not allow people to come into the aisles from the concourses during play, but place no prohibition on them leaving their seats during play. This would be like what they do at churches and the symphony, as I recall. (It's been a while for me at both.) If you want to come in, they keep you in the lobby until the end of the reading or the end of the movement. But no one is prohibited from leaving at any time. As I said in my letter to Stan, it's not the people leaving who are the biggest problem, it's the people coming in. Prevent that, and things will improve tremendously. Also, it's very easy for the ushers to enforce a "no one comes in" policy. They just need to stand at the back of the aisle and tell anyone wanting to come in that they'll need to watch from the concourse until the third out is recorded or the pitcher is removed. Meanwhile, they let out anyone who wants out.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | April 14, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

The Nats are probably not going to change the aisle policy to make it mandatory, though they should. It's been recounted on other blogs that other fans have already contacted the Nats, and the response they get back is something like "we get just as many or more comments from fans thanking us for our lax aisle policy, and we aren't going to force people with mobility problems for example because of surgery or pregnant women (they mention that specifically) to stand and wait."

I think this is a silly rationale. Many other baseball teams require people to wait. And it's not like ushers can't use a little discretion in particular situations even if they were to change the policy. Maybe if enough people write them, they might reconsider.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | April 14, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Queasy. Also with those wondering about the PLD effect. Last year Schneiderman got lots of props for the effective bullpen, so does the reverse hold true? In fairness though, I don't think he is guilty of "blaming his teammates"--he admits to stinking up the park himself and then notes that the rest of the team needs to get its act together. All true--I certainly did enjoy yesterday's game, however, and hope it is one of many more to come. Any way we can get them, folks!

Posted by: NatsFly | April 14, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I would be worried about Chad Cordero if I were you.

Posted by: Eric Gagne | April 14, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

"I think it would do wonders if the ushers politely asked people walking BACK to their seats to "hang on a sec" until the end of an at bat."

That really doesn't help any, because by the time they find their row and everyone in it has to stand up to let them in, the next at bat has already begun. The only time there's a break long enough for people to maneuver all the way to their seats and sit down is between innings or at a pitcher change.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | April 14, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

If Randy is "concerned" about Cordero, I'd be prepping Ayala or Hanrahan or somebody else, right quick, for the closer job. Sometimes guys come back ok, and many times, they just don't.

Posted by: CE | April 14, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Or Rausch, except he doesn't seem to enjoy the role -- just my impression.

Posted by: CE | April 14, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Looking forward to seeing you at an NJ gathering on 4/27, John!

---

In other news, just ten days until my first game at Nationals Park!

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 14, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Re. the 'pen, can I be at .500 between confident and queasy?

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 14, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Aisle policy: I agree it would be nice, but then, I'd like people getting on Metro to let the folks exiting a car get off the train first, too. Yeah, THAT could happen. And monkeys could fly.

I'd like people to signal before they turn, too, while we're at it. And stop fidgeting when I'm talking to them. And not chew with their mouths open. And stop tracking mud across my NICE CLEAN FLOOR!

Posted by: mib | April 14, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Talk about looking for something to complain about... I really think this whole issue of people moving around between batters/between innings/during cup adjustment... seriously? Does this really merit any discussion time or a letter writing campaign?

I believe the topic of the blog entry was the bullpen. My comment on that topic is that Chad's outing yesterday was perfectly reminiscent of almost every other outing I've ever seen him in. Load up the bases, give us all a heart attack... I was just stunned that they yanked him before he could blow the save. I've often worried that a good proportion of his "saves" were really just a combination of dumb luck and good fielding by his teammates.

Posted by: JennX | April 14, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

nf1A, that would mean the glass is half full, but you're not sure what's in it.

************
Re. the 'pen, can I be at .500 between confident and queasy?

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 14, 2008 12:44 PM

Posted by: Mr. Smack Dab InBetween | April 14, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

JennX, it's all smoke and mirrors. Chief just has a higher proportion of mirrors in his act.

************
I've often worried that a good proportion of his "saves" were really just a combination of dumb luck and good fielding by his teammates.

Posted by: JennX | April 14, 2008 12:45 PM

Posted by: MIB | April 14, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Good one, MIB! :-|)

nf1A, that would mean the glass is half full, but you're not sure what's in it.

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 14, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I was going to say I was queasident, but not confeasy.

-----

Re. the 'pen, can I be at .500 between confident and queasy?

Posted by: John in Mpls | April 14, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Went to Citizen's Bank Park last season. Saw Flores hit a 3-run homer to win the game. Ushers there hold a rope across the top of the aisle until a stoppage in play to prevent people from going to their seats.

Was I the only one hoping PLoD had broken a bone yesterday when HBP?

Posted by: Dick | April 14, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

And a huge park?

(Actually, I think he may have gotten jobbed on the walk to Escobar. One of the pitches called a ball was almost identical to the strike three he painted on Pena.)

-----

I've often worried that a good proportion of his "saves" were really just a combination of dumb luck and good fielding by his teammates.

Posted by: John in Mpls | April 14, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, guys, but it's that time of year. Haven't been able to write much. Desk full of tax forms.

To respond to 506, I understand the desire to get more hitting, but I have to go along with Bill James on this. The two positions that you can, if necessary, afford to sacrifice offense for defense are 2 & 6 (hopefully, not both). If we were in a serious pennant contention, I would not have given up Schneider for LoDuca, but we're not. Of the dozen pitchers on the 25 man, I would guess that no more than 3 or 4 will be there in '10. There is still much long term value in having Flores catch every day and catch the staff for those years.

I noticed Manny calling pitches in tight situations (which I don't think that he did last year) so it is obvious that he doesn't trust PLD with the pitchers. He almost blew the opener (yeah, I know the pitch bounced so was technically a WP, but a major league catcher should have blocked it) and now I'm not sure that the pitchers trust him. That means that they are going to be just a little more careful, which means that they won't let it all go, which is going to get them hit...

Posted by: Catcher50 | April 14, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Getting back to Lo Duca for a second...

Yankees are looking for a catcher, now that Molina is out and Posada shoulder is sore.

Before you kill this thought, think abou this for a second: (1) Lo Duca's a New Yorker, and obviously knows what it takes to play in that arena; (2) We all know he is a short-term solution in DC, so the question is how short; (3) Yankees are not dealing from a position of strength, so this may be a good time to at least TALK TO THEM; (4) Estrada has the tools, so perhaps its time to give him the position just has he's had over the past few seasons; (5) and if you don't believe in Estrada, then consider that Flores has done well for such a young player, and perhaps he can flourish with the additional experience.

This may be a good time to pick up some talent at the expense of a team that has a significant investment in winning every year.

Posted by: joemktg | April 14, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

If I weren't already fully stocked with Livo jerseys, I'd go with the Vinny, myself. I may yet. Played hard, played hurt, good guy.

**********
I noticed some deeply discounted Nats shirts at a local store and was thinking about getting one. If you had to choose between shirts that said Vidro, Guillen, or Castilla, which of those would draw the least ridicule at the ballpark?

Posted by: Capybara | April 14, 2008 11:44 AM

Posted by: CE | April 14, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

JennX, I didn't initially post about the aisle traffic issue, and I probably wouldn't have discussed it here if others had not raised it first. But having stated that, let me just weigh in on your post and respond. Quite obviously, others believe that the issue merits discussion time and/or a letter writing campaign. Otherwise, they would not have raised it. I'm not quite sure why you believe it is appropriate for you to dictate the topics of discussion here.

As for Barry, this blog has never confined itself in the comments to the specific questions that Barry raises in his post. I in fact think he likes it that way. And even if he doesn't, the blog's comment policy doesn't require posters to limit their comments in the manner you are advocating.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | April 14, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Well.

I guess he told YOU.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

They bring you a cold beer, right to your seat at the game, open it for you, make change, and you don't even have to call them first, they come around every few innings. If you're not going to tip for that, who the heck DO you tip?

***************
Mo: At $7.50 a beer, should we even HAVE to give a tip? I know that the vendor does not get that money, but at those prices, I wouldn't be too keen on giving a tip (and I in no way consider myself to be a cheap person).
-------------------------------------------
...Add to this the guy in front of us who ordered beer from every vendor that came by but couldn't count change (and didn't tip once)...
Posted by: mo | April 14, 2008 11:10 AM

Posted by: TimDz | April 14, 2008 12:16 PM

Posted by: CE | April 14, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

agree that ushers should control traffic a bit, but keeping everyone lined up until the break between innings would be WAY TOO LONG.
At the end of an at-bat is more of a standard i have seen at other parks,,,,(such as philly).

Posted by: half inning | April 14, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Agree that the aisle issue is somewhat minor, but I must say that it brings up an interesting subject.

Maybe it's just me, but I haven't been enjoying the games as much this year as I have in the past.

The stadium is beautiful, the concessions are plentiful, and the team seems to be heading in the right general direction.

Having said that, I didn't buy season tickets to some festival or a series of plays or... whatever. I bought season tickets to baseball games.

I'm sure this will come across as ungrateful whining, but I'm tired of fans being more interested in having a ball thrown to them than to what happened in the game. I'm tired of fans wearing Nats gear being excited to catch a braves home run ball. I'm tired of Clint and his stable. I'm tired of there having to be SOMETHING to occupy the senses between EVERY inning. I have seats in the 100 level but wanted to be in the sun so went up to all those empty seats in the 200 level. I was told I couldn't sit in any of those 1000+ empty seats. I'm tired of crap like that. I'm tired of not being able to tailgate.

I never thought I'd say it, but I'm starting to miss RFK.

Ok, now let me have it. I'm ready.

Posted by: Matt | April 14, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Any bullpen issues are just symptomatic of much larger problems with the starters. If the rotation could perform like Chico and Redding at their best, things would get better. Maybe they will.

Clubhouse morale is definitely not what it was last year. With higher expectations, guys are hit harder by the losses. Tension. LoDuka, Young, Lopez seem a bit frazzled.

But yesterday the Mets went down with Church and Schneider both hitting into double plays, so yes, Milledge is looking fine.

Dread.

Posted by: Natty Dread | April 14, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Are you sure that's the best standard to apply, fear of social opprobrium, to your choice of casual attire?
Assuming you're not still in middle school.

****************
If you had to choose between shirts that said Vidro, Guillen, or Castilla, which of those would draw the least ridicule at the ballpark?
Posted by: Capybara | April 14, 2008 11:44 AM

Posted by: Caroline Hacks | April 14, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't advocating that we NEVER go off topic, I just feel bad when Barry submits a lengthy post on a topic and it is virtually ignored in favor of some other topic (happens a lot, I've just never said anything about it before). Obviously comments evolve as the thread goes on, but I think we should show some respect to the person putting so much time into contributing content here by at least giving the topic at hand some consideration before moving on.

And let me just say that I've noticed a general progression since, say, the middle of last season for commenters to fixate on certain pet complaints ad nauseum and have never said anything before. I'm not saying this particular issue has risen to that level yet, but it really just struck a chord with me. We have a team to watch in DC (okay, so they need to win a few more), this great new park, food options greatly improved... so the big stuff is better. Must we have to find something to complain about now? Can't we just enjoy it for a little while?

Posted by: JennX | April 14, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you there, brother. I'm in it for the baseball, too.
That said, welcome to 2008. That's the fan experience now, for better or worse, and if you want the baseball, your option is to watch somewhat lesser talent at smaller venues.
Works for me, but everyone has to make that call themselves.

********
Ok, now let me have it. I'm ready.
Posted by: Matt | April 14, 2008 1:16 PM

Posted by: CEvans | April 14, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I know, I've been posting three or four times a day for I don't know how long, about how much I hate it when people complain about the same stuff all the time, and I'm going to keep at it until Stan Kasten/TWP agrees to my demands.

****************
Must we have to find something to complain about now? Can't we just enjoy it for a little while?
Posted by: JennX | April 14, 2008 1:18 PM

Posted by: Mr TongueInCheek | April 14, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Joe, I think that bus left in 2006. NYY is still focused on building from within, more or less. They'd probably have Santana now, otherwise.

********
This may be a good time to pick up some talent at the expense of a team that has a significant investment in winning every year.
Posted by: joemktg | April 14, 2008 1:04 PM

Posted by: CE | April 14, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Are you sure that's the best standard to apply, fear of social opprobrium, to your choice of casual attire?
Assuming you're not still in middle school.

*****************************
Caroline Hacks


Well, if that were my biggest concern I probably would not be scrounging around for a $5 shirt. I am kind of fascinated by how those players are viewed by long-term followers of the franchise. Thanks for the responses (and apologies to Barry for not weighing in on his thoughtful layout of relief pitching).

Posted by: Capybara | April 14, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I used to feel more confident, but now queasy is starting to move in. Wasn't Rauch in a similar situation last year needing to close rather than be the set-up man? I think now that the guys will be back in their regular spots, they'll fall into a groove. Cardiac Cordero was shaky last year too - it might just be more of the same. I'm so glad they finally won.

Posted by: Patty | April 14, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the input, Catcher.

This idea, then, hinges on how much of an upgrade we believe PLD to be over Schneider. We then need to weigh this against how defense we sacrificed in giving up Schneider.

PLD is hitting .200 with 4 RBI in 35 ABs over 12 games. He has a .317 OBP, he's slugging .286, and he has yet to strike out.

There are a few factors we should take into account when evaluating that line. One is that he is coming off meniscus surgery this offseason. Another is that, well, he's 36. Then there's the Mitchell Report, and the idea that his play could have dropped off due to a recent abstinence from PEDs. Of course, there's always that pesky notion that it's only April stinking 14th.

I'll admit it. I'm having a hard time liking him. I'm sure there are some of you who are in the same camp. It's okay to say so. I don't think there is anything wrong with admitting it.

Just realize that this emotional response often precludes objectivity, and there's a chance he's not as crappy as we think him to be. His failures have only succeeded in justifying what was perhaps an unjustified animosity toward the guy, so I've inflated them in my own mind.

Of course, he could alleviate all of this by not stinking. That may or may not be within his power.

-----

The two positions that you can, if necessary, afford to sacrifice offense for defense are 2 & 6 (hopefully, not both).

Posted by: John in Mpls | April 14, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Hey, you guys are free to take the conversation wherever you feel it should be taken. I'm just happy when people aren't brawling with each other or lobbing hand grenades in my direction.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | April 14, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Barry-

What do you think the Nats are going to do with Shawn Hill? Have him start this week in the bigs? Or call up a Collin Balester/Tyler Clippard?

Posted by: Section 111 (formerly 223 @ RFK) | April 14, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Great! Thanks Barry. Now I feel comfortable revisiting the topic of rodents with Star Wars weaponry.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 14, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Maybe you all can chip in and rent a blimp to fly over the stadium, saying something like "Nerds Say: Stay in Your Seats; Particularly You Icky Girls."

Posted by: natsfan | April 14, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

"Talk about looking for something to complain about... I really think this whole issue of people moving around between batters/between innings/during cup adjustment... seriously? Does this really merit any discussion time or a letter writing campaign?"

JennX, if you had sat in my seat on the aisle in the fourth row of section 420 for eight innings on Saturday while a constant, never-ending stream of people moved up and down the aisle in front of you, completely blocking your view of the plate, while the usher stood by and never said word one to any of them regarding the voluntary aisle policy that the ushers are supposed to be asking them to observe, then you might feel differently. Or, simply becuase it's me who raised the issue, you might not. Either way, back to exile for me!

Posted by: Section 419+1 | April 14, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we could train some local peregrine falcons to accost people who attempt to return to their seats at inappropriate times.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 14, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"Nerds Say: Stay in Your Seats; Particularly You Icky Girls."

Posted by: natsfan

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

Ok, you lost me on that one. What does that have to do with anything?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

jennx

You have a point but I live in CT and focus on the team as opposed to the stadium. I have been a Nat fan since 1969 when they were called the Expos. I do not like the product that Bowden had put on the field. The relievers, the bench, the FA signings and the position players all have fundamental problems. We won yesterday but their performance was strictly minor league. Bowden's strategy is to catch lightning in bottle. That is bush league and amateurish. He was lucky a few times but enough already. If you are not going to sign any legitimate FA's then save your money, put it in the minor leagues and play the youngsters. Washington is a major market. It is about time that Bowden starts acting like it. He is not in Cincy anymore. Enough with the Boones, R. Mackowiack, LoDuca, Odalis Perez, etc. These guys are finished. We do not need them - In closing we have every right to complain given this product. As I said I do not live in DC so I don't care about the stadium. I will make one suggestion to Kasten however, - if you are going to serve hot dogs - try offering some mustard with them - it is an American tradition. I have read complaints where they do not have condiments at the various food stations. - bush real bush

Posted by: mjames | April 14, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

To answer Barry's question, I'm mighty worried about our bullpen. Of course, I'm mighty worried about our pitchers in general. Pretty soon we need to give the kids a chance.

Re: LoDuca's role, all I can say is I still miss No. 23 -- and I'm not talking about the guy who is now wearing that number for us.

Re: the crowds blocking views. In section 129 yesterday, the usher didn't let anyone go down while an at bat was in progress. No one seemed to mind.

Posted by: Nats Gal | April 14, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Barry,

I disagree with the premise that Cordero's velocity is in the range of 84-86mph. According to the PITCHf/x data available via MLB's Gameday, here are the initial velocities of each of the five fastballs he threw in walking Yunel Escobar:

1 - 89.2mph
2 - 88.2
3 - slider 78.6
4 - 89.3
5 - 90.2
6 - 89.3

The PITCHf/x data is almost certainly more accurate than the radar gun readings used in any park. Coupled with the fact that Cordero is coming off a shoulder injury and was making his debut, velocity of 88-90 seems okay to me. For comparison, Rauch's game ending fastball was 92.5 mph.

Here's a link to the Gameday for yesterday's game. Move the cursor over individual pitches on the graphic, and various data appear as recorded for each pitch.

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2008_04_13_atlmlb_wasmlb_1&mode=gameday

Posted by: tomterp | April 14, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

"I know, I've been posting three or four times a day for I don't know how long, about how much I hate it when people complain about the same stuff all the time, and I'm going to keep at it until Stan Kasten/TWP agrees to my demands."

I blame the Shawshank Redemption. Dang uplifting stories about the perseverance of the human spirit!

Very thoughtful breakdown JiM, but I have to disagree with the initial postulate:

"This idea, then, hinges on how much of an upgrade we believe PLD to be over Schneider. We then need to weigh this against how defense we sacrificed in giving up Schneider."

I'm not sure if that's the right way to think about it. It would assume that we meant to trade Schneider for Lo Duca, or that we might as well have. But we know (and I know you know, I'm not saying you don't) that we actually had that opportunity, laughed it off, then picked Lo Duca up when his price dropped drastically to fill an open spot.

The better thought is to compare Lo Duca with Flores, who would have been starting without the signing, or Estrada, who could have been starting without the signing. Since it was never Lo Duca OR Schneider (in fact, it was, and we chose Schneider) there's really no reason to compare them. Schneider wasn't an option when Lo Duca was signed.

Now before the Haters jump on Lo Duca sucking worse than Flores (and eating babies), keep in mind that we're REALLY comparing Lo Duca now to damaged Flores in five years because he started too young. So, try and figure THAT one out!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 14, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I asked JDland about the fate of the construction cam earlier today and this was her response:

"The stadium web cam is worth peeking in on this week (in case you've gotten out of the habit) to see the work now underway to get Nationals Park ready for the Pope's mass on Thursday. (Note that the Miller Lite ad on the bottom left of the scoreboard is covered.) The 55 M camera shows a banner now hung on the eastern parking garage with the insignia for the Pope's visit. And, since people have asked: I'm trying to find out how much longer this web cam will be running. (The centerfield camera was shut down last week.) Will report when I hear something."

So there's that.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 14, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Hey, you said it first...

__________________
Now before the Haters jump on Lo Duca sucking worse than Flores (and eating babies)...

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 14, 2008 2:06 PM

Posted by: Hater | April 14, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

i just have 1 question:
does austin "i stink" kearns have incriminating pictures of acta and bowden together?
thats it-- right?
i mean otherwise how does a complete baseball impaired player not only not get sent down but instead gets promoted to the cleanup spot.
that guy is scary. be afraid of austin "i stink" kearns.
be very afraid.
hes got a camera and hes comin for you.

Posted by: dk | April 14, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

mjames: I dunno... Maybe others don't make this distinction, but to me, complaints about the actual baseball is quite different than kinks in the running of the stadium during the first few weeks, though I do think some amount of patience and perspective should be afforded there too (except when it comes to PLD, whose performance I fault more because of his obnoxious personality and his Mitchell-report transgressions).

I am sure I would share your frustration with people moving around and blocking your view, 419... Which is why I went with row F just a couple sections over from yours! I just don't think you can realistically try to stop this sort of thing, and it is probably not in the financial interests of the owners to enforce it. So, as a fan of the game and not the playstation showcase or whatever that thing is, I just try to go in knowing that there will be others there with other priorities, and not let it get to me too much. Which is not to say that it doesn't anyway, especially when I am surrounded by drunk Phillies/Mets fans... Now THERE'S an issue worthy of a letter-writing campaign. Stop allowing Philly/NY fans into our stadium. ;)

Geez, look at me continuing to draw this thread off topic.

(And apologies for sounding like Barry's mom earlier.)

Posted by: JennX | April 14, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Great Post, Barry! In the Brilliant Baseball Issue, your stats showed that Chief and Ayala were the only non-RFK dependent pitchers on the staff. They pitched as well on the road as at RFK, both with era's under 3. Chad's been closing a long time, since college, and his mechanics are not that of Nolan Ryan. I hope the loss of speed is not that he's just wearing out, but he wouldn't be the first closer to do so. Rausch was very RFK-dependant, so his struggles are less surprising. I can't believe the negativity of some posts. Nats won yesterday. Chico and Colome looked terrific this last homestand. Redding looked good. Hanrahan looked good. Rivera looked great. Ayala's coming round. Chief got two tough outs, and with most umps, would not have had to face McCann but our manager is savvy and knew that 0-8. Yeah, Monday's tough, even if your boss rhymes with glass bowl, but you've got a job, you don't have cancer, you're not in pain, you have a team to talk about and you can afford to go to the occasional game. Show some gratitude, folks!

Posted by: flynnie | April 14, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Vendors, god bless them, carry CVS types of wares now. A few guys I saw yesterday was selling beer, soda, water, popcorn, crackerjacks and peanuts. My proposed solutions:
1. Vendors should sell one type of item. e.g. beer or soda or peanuts, etc. Not all of them at once. This would keep them moving throughout the stadium, unlike now where one guy monitors the same 3 sections, then repeats over and over again.
2. Aisles are not rest areas for vendors. Keep moving, don't stand and look for customers. It is, however, a bit more treacherous for them to move in the upper deck, so we should be more forgiving.
3. Offer some real food. Whatever happened to the hotdog vendor? or peanut guy? I feel like they're only offering movie-theater type concessions.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Vendors, god bless them, carry CVS types of wares now. A few guys I saw yesterday were selling beer, soda, water, popcorn, crackerjacks and peanuts (at the same time).

Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Rauch does not have an S, everyone.

Posted by: Staying On Topic | April 14, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm not overly concerned... I think there may be a little shiffling of some roles but I think everything will fall into place. Rausch just looked EXTREMELY uncomfortable in the closing role, just too nervous. Chad needs to build up some more arm strength but will be back. I have also been pretty impressed with Hanrahan. He had the one bad game against the Marlins but that is a tough situation to come into for someone who has never releived. Its kinda tough to get amped to a game with nobody there, and down a bunch of runs. He has looked very good in pressure situations like both outings in St. Louis.

Posted by: natrat | April 14, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

concerning baseball etiquette:
havent been to new nats stadium yet so cant comment on that.
however i have aisle seats at fedex for the skins and its a super long row now cause snyder filled in one of the aisles with seats so people continually walk in and out all game long.

im like the wac a mole on that boardwalk game goin up and down nonstop the entire game.

dont really like it but just figure its part of being there and there aint much i can do about it.

Posted by: dk | April 14, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Capybara-I'm with JohninMpls - Vinny Castilla is a name that I would wear proudly anywhere. Needing knee surgery, he had the best fielding percentagea of any 3rd baseman in the league for much of the season. Barry visited him when the team was in Colorado, and described him as very cool. He was El Capitan of the mexican team in the World Baseball Classic. And, could he hit a fast ball! You can't throw cheese past a rat, as Eckersly would say.

Posted by: flynnie | April 14, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

And Schroder doesn't have an "e," either.

But we sure could use more Ss from the bullpen and less Es from the fielders.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 14, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Of course, 506, you're right. I think there would be an inherent comparison between Schneider and whomever the Nationals picked up to replace him, and that's just natural. But the fact of the matter is the trade was to acquire Milledge - an offensive upgrade if ever there was one - and was made possible because Flores made Schneider expendable. I agree completely, and I like the move.

That being said, LoDuca did come in touted as an offensive upgrade. Obviously, this was inherently true at the time, because we had no starting catcher at that point, so the offense there was effectively zero. The natural assumption, then, was to take said touting as a proclamation that LoDuca would be better this year than Schneider was last year.

I think it's acceptable to compare the two both offensively and defensively because it's the decision the FO made. No, it was not a straight-up trade. But, in this roundabout way, they made the decision to replace Schneider with LoDuca. Or, if you prefer, they chose to fill Schneider's vacancy with the addition of LoDuca. But, just as it's fair to look at Wily Mo vs. Church or Millege against Nook, I think it's fair to evaluate whether the Nationals have upgraded at the position of catcher.

Of course, that question will be asked again and again this week at Shea.

Posted by: John in Mpls | April 14, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

tomterp, love the handle, love the knowledge. How much agita and how many wrong-headed decisions are based on bad data? See previous posts on The Chief, Kearns, Felipe, LoDuca, etc. What a great source of data! Thank you! And why didn't Randy St. Claire talk about it? Crazy like a fox? The Mets have had trouble with The Chief.

Posted by: flynnie | April 14, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Barry-Are your pitch velocities on Chief wrong and MLB Gameday's Pitchf/x right?

Posted by: flynnie | April 14, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to the Nats for getting off the snide. However, all DC-Area Nats fans should offer a huge 'Thank You' to the Baltimore Orioles. They were scoreboard watching and saw the Nats were going to win so they decided to lose to the Rays on purpose. The O's did this because they wanted the Nats to get the postive press instead of the local media focusing on the O's and their dominance.

Posted by: O's Exec | April 14, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

P.S. I love it when others post on here as me. Who would've thought that I've become such of a major celebrity that others would want to impersonate me while I'm away.

I'm flattered.

Posted by: O's Exec | April 14, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Well, we have an "eagle" who might fill the bill there. :)

---

Maybe we could train some local peregrine falcons to accost people who attempt to return to their seats at inappropriate times.

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 14, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"Or, if you prefer, they chose to fill Schneider's vacancy with the addition of LoDuca. But, just as it's fair to look at Wily Mo vs. Church or Millege against Nook, I think it's fair to evaluate whether the Nationals have upgraded at the position of catcher."

I'm not sure they are the same, though. We had to give up Schneider in order to get Milledge, my guess is that if JimBo could have give up just Church, he would have gladly done it. I guess what I'm trying to say is we can't look at it as a position up or downgrade, but we have to look at it as a team up or downgrade.

What are the team averages since the trade? Maybe catcher stats are down but all over stats are up. Leaving aside the whole nine game losing streak...

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 14, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

well, i guess i'm the guilty one who started the issue with the people in the aisle conversation, but i was actually coming at it from a different perspective. more that it's a byproduct of the stadium design than purely etiquette. i'm sure it's a combination of both, to some extent, but it seems like a bigger issue in the new stadium than it was in RFK (at least in the mezzanine level of the new stadium, that's the only place i've sat so far). the way the stadium is designed, it encourages vendors to camp in the aisles. in the RFK upper deck, they could walk between the sections and hawk in both directions and, by virtue of the 500s being raised up 4+ feet from the walkway, not block anyone's view.

then there's the whole side issue of losing the "people watching" value of the 500 section, which i have to admit i miss between innings.

Posted by: 231 | April 14, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

"I have read complaints where they do not have condiments at the various food stations. - bush real bush"

Condiments are available at dedicated stations located separately from the food stations, so it's your complaint that's bush, real bush. (My complaint is bush, too, BTW, but mine is the one with the capital B.) It is odd, though, that they've chosen to locate the napkin dispensers at the cash register stations, instead of at the condiment stations which would make more sense. I keep forgetting to grab napkins when I'm paying for my food.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

According to MLB Gameday Pitchf/x Cordero's pitches were between 88.2-90.2 mph with the exception of an off-speed pitch, a slider at 78.6. So, Barry, is the following in need of correction? "Start with Cordero. I dealt with this in the notebook, but his fastball is not where it usually is. He has to be able to have that fastball at 88-91 (on his best day, he'll throw one or two at 93), because it's not overpowering. When he's going well, he hides the fastball and throws it with late movement on the corners. When he's not, it sails back over the center of the plate. Do any of that at his current 84-86, and he's in trouble. "Concerning," is the word used by pitching coach Randy St. Claire."


Posted by: flynnie | April 14, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

The bullpen is a wonderful group.. it will come around. Give it time. Am I here... or away??

Posted by: O's Exec | April 14, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

"Note that the Miller Lite ad on the bottom left of the scoreboard is covered."

Well, that's strange. I do recall reading when this pope was elected that he's a beer drinking man. I guess Miller Lite's not his brew of choice, eh?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Love the makeup of the bullpen. But I'm afraid some of those guys' arms are going to fall off by Memorial Day because the Nats don't have one starting pitcher that can be counted on for 180-210 innings in the rotation.

Posted by: leetee1955 | April 14, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

flynnie,

The data posted on Gameday is available for download, for anyone looking to do original research on pitching. For anyone with an appetite to learn more about how the data is developed, and how it can be used, here are a couple of primers:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6269

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6291

Posted by: tomterp | April 14, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

O's Exec, and here we thought it was you who had gotten "off the snide."

(Cackle.)

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 14, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh... the peanut vendor of yore with -=*Fresh Hot*=- Roasted Peanuts. I'm sorry but a mass produced sealed plastic bag of nuts is NOT and acceptable substitute (the fact that I like the bags of [Sponsors Name here] nuts sold at Nationals Park better than most bagged nuts notwithstanding).
Oh and the Hot Dog vendor, who would slap a dog onto a bun fresh and hot when you bought it (well as "fresh" as you get out of the warming box, but the bun was not all smashed and goopy from prolonged dog contact).
Sigh.

Posted by: OldGuy | April 14, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Sir or ma'm,

It's semantics. The original post was correct. There were complaints about condiments being out. Maybe not at the "food stations" per se, but they most definitely did run out of condiments, at the dedicated condiment stations, and it was pretty bush league.
_________________
"I have read complaints where they do not have condiments at the various food stations. - bush real bush"

Condiments are available at dedicated stations located separately from the food stations, so it's your complaint that's bush, real bush. (My complaint is bush, too, BTW, but mine is the one with the capital B.) It is odd, though, that they've chosen to locate the napkin dispensers at the cash register stations, instead of at the condiment stations which would make more sense. I keep forgetting to grab napkins when I'm paying for my food.


Posted by: | April 14, 2008 2:55 PM

Posted by: NatsNut | April 14, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Haha, I saw that too, Bob, but have gone way over my smartaleck quota for the day. Loved the Peregrine Falcons, by the way.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 14, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

In all seriousness, since some have asked, I'll offer up some of my opinions of the O's.

As per Bedard, I think it's great they moved him. He wasn't going to sign an extension and the O's weren't going to really contend with him on the roster in the next 2 years anyway. They lost with him, they can lose without him. He's really only had 2 "ace-type" seasons as a pitcher plus what the O's got for him was great. The O's can let Adam "I'm not the guitarist from Tool" Jones play everyday in centerfield and develop into the hopefully 5-tool athlete everyone hopes he'll become. George Sherrill has already proven his worth and is tied for the lead league in saves with 5. He has added value because if the O's want, they could flip him to a contender in July at the deadline for some more young talent. Of the other 3 pitchers they got in the deal (Kam Mickolio, Chris Tillman, and Tony Butler) Tillman is projected to be a #2 type starting pitcher.

As per the Tejada trade, I say it was good too especially since they traded Miggy a day before the Mitchell Report came out. While Miggy can still hit, his fielding and range has become piss-poor. You could also see his energy and desire was zapped by 4 losing seasons on the O's. So a mutual seperation was probably best for both parties. As for what the O's got back Luke Scott is a servicable outfielder who hit 18 homeruns last year in Houston. Another piece to the deal, Troy Patton (and yes, the O's were aware of his arm injury when they traded for him) is projected to be another #2-type pitcher.

In all, trading 2 players who weren't going to help you win for 10 players is a definte win for the O's.

As for holding on the Roberts for now I think that's a good move. What the Cubs were offering for B-Rob was pretty much complete junk. Plus gold-glove caliber, switch-hitting, good leadoff batters are hard to come by. Not to mention he's a player who actually gives back to the community (with the all the O's bad pr, any body who sheds the O's in a positive light is something to try to hold onto).

As for the restof the lot, what I don't get is O's fans who think the O's will be able to trade Millar, Huff, Mora, Payton, Hernandez, etc. at the trade deadline to contenders for good prospects. I mean there is a reason why those guys signed with the O's and no one else. Nick Markakis' numbers will probably suffer a bit because he won't have Tejada behind him protecting him in the batting order. It also blows my mind that the O's didn't give him even a little bit of a raise this past offseason. Way to treat the "face of the franchise" Angelos.

As for the pitchers; Loewen is coming off arm surgery so I'm not expecting too much out of him this year, or atleast not early on. However, it is getting close to put up or shut up time for Daniel Cabrera. While I hope Guthrie will be as good as last year I think he'll probably fall off a little bit. All I can say for the bullpen is thank goodness that Dannys Baez isn't pitching this year. Signing him, alone, should be reason enough to fire Mike Flannagan.

In all, it still all boils down to one guy. Peter Angelos. O's fans really really really won't be totally happy until the troll sells the team. Heavens-to-betsy he leave it to his sun. For now it looks like he may have actually hired a baseball man and will stay out of the way (of course at this point he pretty much has no other choice). It seems like they're really trying to build up through pitching and defense.

Of course, too, all O's fans are hoping and praying that Mark Teixiera signs with his "hometown" team in the offseason but realistically I dunno about all that.

Posted by: O's Exec | April 14, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

506 -- I believe you may have overlooked the fact that Rule 234(b)(i)(D)(7) states that on an off day following a win that narrowly avoids a 10-game losing streak, the normal quota is lifted. (I've been fairly snarky today myself but simply could not resist that last one.)

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 14, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure that I could get from the concourse to my row between at bats, I do time my arrival and departures to the half innings.

Kearns. If he doesn't get it going soon, who wants to see an outfield of Dukes, Milledge and Mo? I do! Now we just need to get Milledge and Mo to catch fly balls with 2 hands.

The Bullpen.. it's always a crapshoot if you ask me. There are so few guys that have good years, year after year. Makes me think Randy St. Claire is doing something right. That said, the bullpen is overused, abused, and misused. The Nats set a record last year for most relief appearances. Jimbo needs to find a starter who can go 7 ip.

As for PLD and Bergmann, Jason - I love ya (RU alums gotta stick together), don't blame PLD, Bergmann grooved a few pitches right down the pipe. They call it wild in the strike zone. Great in Little League, but muy peligroso at the MLB level.

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | April 14, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

With all that said it still doesn't change the fact that I do expect the O's to contend this year (just like I do every year) and just like I do every season for the Redskins, Caps, Wiz, and DC United.

Of course the Wiz, Caps, United, and O's all lost this weekend so......

Posted by: O's Exec | April 14, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

flynnie: in Barry's notebook, he specifies "on the scoreboard radar gun" when mentioning the speeds.

The stadium gun and F/X measure speed differently -- as nearly as I can, F/X measures the speed near the plate while the stadium gun more likely measures the initial release speed.

At any rate, not surprising they'd differ.

Posted by: joebleux | April 14, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

that's "off the schneid"
http://tinyurl.com/68umq4

Posted by: I know you know that, Mr. Head | April 14, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Holy Smokes, O's Exec, why don't you give us that more often?

So now that you've laid out B'more's situation, in this ridiculous Nats-O's fantasy trade game that gets played around here (usually with Roberts), what do you think would be one that might benefit both teams?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 14, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Refreshingly well said, O's Exec.
Welcome.

Posted by: CE | April 14, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Now that's more like it, O's Exec. The Nats are facing a lot of the same issues as the Os, except we don't have any Bedards or Tejadas to trade. We also had a bunch of retreads that some folks wanted us to deal for prospects at the trade deadline, but instead we signed them to new deals. And there are those that complain that we haven't signed our own Franchise Face to a long-term deal a la your Markakis. Personally I think it would be great if the Os and the Nats built competitive teams from the ground up and generated a decade-long rivalry with a couple of World Series meetings. If that happened I would even come up and eat some of your delicious crabcakes.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 14, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

tomterp-thank you, thank you, thank you! This from the article you recommended. Sounds pretty accurate, and sounds like The Chief has not lost velocity, at least not to the "current 84-86" which Barry reported. Maybe we're comparing apples to oranges and PITCHf/x inflates pitch speed, but I'd love to hear Barry or Dave on this.

"The PITCHf/x technology was developed by Sportvision, the company that began with tracking hockey pucks in 1996, and later gave us the "1st & Ten" yellow lines so familiar to football viewers. Gameday has been in use for Major League games since 2001. In short, the system relies on three cameras installed at the ballpark that triangulate on each pitch at 30 frames per second. Three computers in a truck outside the park then process the data and calculate the various data points the system tracks, including the position, velocity, and acceleration of the ball. The cameras and software know where to look for pitches (actually they look for objects traveling between 40 and 120 mph), since when the system is first installed a virtual grid is laid down at each park marking home plate and the pitcher's mound."

Posted by: flynnie | April 14, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Holy Smokes, O's Exec, why don't you give us that more often?

So now that you've laid out B'more's situation, in this ridiculous Nats-O's fantasy trade game that gets played around here (usually with Roberts), what do you think would be one that might benefit both teams?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 14, 2008 3:21 PM
_________________________________________

Ah c'mon, we all know it's more fun when I play the roll of "troll" inciting Nats fans.

As for the trade you're speaking of I'm not really aware that there was any talk. I dunno what the Nats would/could give up that would be enough to get B-Rob. I know you all would like to trade Lopez for B-Rob (I remember reading someone trying to pass that off) but that isn't happening. Plus if I was McPhail/Angelos I wouldn't really want to trade BRob to the closest competitor where he can still stay in the area/community and continue to do his charitable work, reminding those fans of the new team he'd be playing on. That would be like a double-whammy, I mean unless they got Zimmerman back but I don't see that happening.

Posted by: O's Exec | April 14, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Given how the stadium's game day staff haven't fully figured out how to work the scorebaords yet, I'm not giving them the benefit of the doubt on the radar gun.

I'd trust the Pitch F/X data since it gives an initial and finishing velocity.

The reading on the stadium gun is dependent on where it is pointed, the closer to the catcher, the slower it will read.

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | April 14, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

114: maybe, but I'll defer to Randy St. Claire's judgment over both f/x and the stadium gun.

Posted by: joebleux | April 14, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Hey O's Exec, did you catch the fact that Jason Bergmann posted a message here upon being sent down on Saturday?

Are there any Os blogs that are like this one, where the players (evidently) read and even post once in a blue moon?

Posted by: Bob L. Head | April 14, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Totally OT, but looks like the Nats' FatHead logo is on sale for $50... :-)

http://www.fathead.com/mlb/washington-nationals/washington-nationals-logo/

Posted by: Juan-John | April 14, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

So I see we are just engaging the "Jackass O's Guy" in conversation now. What the hell? How did it come to this? I thought we were trying to ignore the pest in hopes that he would slink away to his parent's basement and be gone.

Posted by: Section 505/203 | April 14, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm up

Posted by: neeeewpo .... st | April 14, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

"The stadium gun and F/X measure speed differently -- as nearly as I can, F/X measures the speed near the plate while the stadium gun more likely measures the initial release speed."

Odd, then, that the stadium gun would be giving readings LOWER than the F/X does. The ball's not going to speed up after it leaves the pitcher's hand. If anything, it will slow down before it reaches the plate.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

"Ah c'mon, we all know it's more fun when I play the roll of "troll" inciting Nats fans."

Jorge?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 14, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

True, anonymous poster, there is a 10% loss in speed from release point to arrival at the plate.

Posted by: flynnie | April 14, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

505, ssshhhhh. whisper. 506 and Bob L. Head are taming him. No sudden movements please.

Posted by: Shhhhhh | April 14, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Off the Schneid in more ways than one.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

You know what I cannot figure out -- why do people tip the beer vendor and not the soda pop vendor or Nats Dog vendor? It's one thing to tip a real bartender at a real bar who is scrambling around working hard. But to tip someone who is standing right at the tap, just pouring beer.... why tip that person. You surely wouldn't tip for a coke.

Posted by: Miss Coors Light | April 14, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a hige LoDuca fan but its interesting that everyone is all over LoDuca, even though the Nats started off equally bad last year with Schneider and no one blamed his play calling back then.

By the way he is one of the best Nats at going to the stands and signing autographs before the game

Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a huge fan either, but neither do I wish a broken hand on him.

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 14, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but it's like shoeing fish in a barrel.


****************
Ah c'mon, we all know it's more fun when I play the roll of "troll" inciting Nats fans.
Posted by: O's Exec | April 14, 2008 3:26 PM

Posted by: Mr In Between Doggy Dog Worlds | April 14, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

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