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A 4-5 road trip, or: Life at 16 games under .500

A few exit notes from Minneapolis

* The best news about Minnesota's 9-3 victory was that it prevented Washington from taking the field for the ninth inning, thereby saving Wily Mo Pena from further misadventures in left field. Especially in the early going, when the Twins were roping balls to left field, Pena was exposed. He took a few poor paths to several balls and made one error in the third when he tried to barehand a Michael Cuddyer double off the wall. (MLB's gameday feature allows you to see video of the play.)

Manny Acta took it easy on Pena after the game, though, saying "I'm not going to blame Wily Mo on any of those balls, other than the ball he bobbled over there."

* Jon Rauch pitched a scoreless eighth with his team down six runs. This is what happens to closers on losing teams.

* Paul Lo Duca had banged up his left (glove) hand yesterday on that first inning play when Aaron Boone's throw from third led him off the bag. The baserunner ran through Lo Duca's hand. Acta said Lo Duca's hand was "sore," but nothing to worry about.

* The Nats have a 29-45 record now and a corresponding .392 winning percentage, worst in the National League. Perhaps we exaggerate a bit here, but I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that getting swept by this team will cost both a GM and a manager their respective jobs.

Right now, the Nats are 16 games under .500.

Last year's record? 73-89.

They need to go .500 the rest of the way to equal 2007.

Odds, anybody?

By Chico Harlan  |  June 19, 2008; 6:30 PM ET
 
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Comments

What does the Nats Front Office SEE in Lenny Harris?!? Beating a dead horse, I know, but...

Posted by: Juan-John | June 19, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

There is no way. I guess I do believe they are playing hard at times, because if you notice the losses this week have come after failing to score runs early and often after they've had many chances to do so. It puts a toll on the hitters mentally and in the pitchers to make the perfect pitches.

I'm not a GM so I can't sit here and say it's time to enforce plan YOUTH MOVEMENT (Daniels, Balester, Clippard, etc), but I think there is a better GM available other than ours.

To play everyone's favorite game, if I were GM:
>DFA/Release Wily Mo Pena
>Fire Lenny Harris
>Call up Mike Daniel or Roger Bernadina
>Insert Tyler Clippard into the rotation
>Fire myself and hire Mike Rizzo

Posted by: That's a Shame | June 19, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

New posted:

SoCH: Saw the blog and I like it and bookmarked it! :)

That's my point. Bowden's history is not good BUT the farm system has seen great improvements over the last couple of years. My guess is that it is not because of Bowden.

If Rizzo is indeed responsible for that improvement, does he not have the acumen and baseball knowledge to succeed as the GM full time?

Plus, Rizzo seems to have respect around the league. Is that not a plus when it comes to signing free agents?

I would like to see Rizzo in place with the trading deadline coming up. I'm guessing he would be great at getting good value for some of the guys that have been thrown around this board as trade fodder.

Chico: I would love to know who's the driving force in the draft room and when it came to all of the trades. And by the way, welcome. I'm more of a lurker here but enjoy your articles and everyone's comments.

Posted by: Expos Fan | June 19, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Will I be the only one wearing a brown bag over my head at the games this coming weekend/week? Had I not been a fool and bought season tickets I really doubt I would go to any of them.

Posted by: Cptmorgns3 | June 19, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

What the heck, Cap'n. Make it a red bag, at least.

Posted by: Pled your Ali, gents | June 19, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Happy now mom? I took out the trash and washed all of your soiled undergarments. Can I play with my friends online now?

Posted by: O's Exec | June 19, 2008 7:06 PM | Report abuse

What kind of odds will you give me on 48-32?

Posted by: Just asking | June 19, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

eeeeeeeeeeeeewww.

that's not where the crabcakes come from, is it?

Posted by: can I get sauerkraut with those? | June 19, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

What kind of odds will you give me on 48-32?

Posted by: Just asking | June 19, 2008 7:10 PM

*****************************************

If that's what you think the Nats will do from here on out than I've got some prime, cheap real estate on the moon that I'd be willing to sell ya.

Posted by: O's Exec | June 19, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Crap, got newpostedas well - from previous string...
Well, I think it's about time to call a close to the WMP experiment for now. I think he's got an option left, so let's send him down to either AAA or AA & see if he can recapture a power stroke & MAYBE learn how to play a rudimentary LF. If there are no options left on him, float him as a waiver & hope an AL team puts in a claim.

As a replacement, either A)toss PLoD out there (he obviously has no business at 1B) to "enhance market value", or B)stick to a Casto/Harris/Langerhans vs. pitching matchup to see if somebody gets warm, since getting hot seems to be beyond the reach of our current squad.

BTW: To Chico, nice update; girl@work, sweet post, stay with us. To Flynnie, John in Mpls, & a lot of others, keep the faith, it's nice to know there are still realists with a touch of optimism left. To SoCH, O's Exec, & the other "one-note" players... just give it a rest.

Posted by: BIM | June 19, 2008 7:05 PM

Posted by: BIM | June 19, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

I know they're bad. I'll still go to the games, wear my Nats memorabilia in public and cheer the team on.

I don't think paying Paul LoDuca was a very good idea, and it seems that Wily Mo wasn't as good a move as it looked the last 40 games of last season. I think the problems would be worse if the Nats had spent 10 million to rent Lohse and Livan for a year. So, that's maybe 10 more wins over the full season. Sure, it is 10 games closer to .500, but just as out of the playoffs as they'll be right now.

I think that if the Nats need a free agent when most of the pieces are in place, they'll spend for it. But, they're not going to go overspend on mediocre pitchers when it isn't going to provide the push they need to be a playoff team right now. It just doesn't make any sense.

And, that doesn't mean they don't care about the fans. Or they won't spend money. They won't spend money on foolish pursuits (and I've already said signing LoDuca was a mistake, so no need to intone his name), but when they need to, they'll spend money to win.

Posted by: brianbien | June 19, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I know they're bad. I'll still go to the games, wear my Nats memorabilia in public and cheer the team on.

I don't think paying Paul LoDuca was a very good idea, and it seems that Wily Mo wasn't as good a move as it looked the last 40 games of last season. I think the problems would be worse if the Nats had spent 10 million to rent Lohse and Livan for a year. So, that's maybe 10 more wins over the full season. Sure, it is 10 games closer to .500, but just as out of the playoffs as they'll be right now.

I think that if the Nats need a free agent when most of the pieces are in place, they'll spend for it. But, they're not going to go overspend on mediocre pitchers when it isn't going to provide the push they need to be a playoff team right now. It just doesn't make any sense.

And, that doesn't mean they don't care about the fans. Or they won't spend money. They won't spend money on foolish pursuits (and I've already said signing LoDuca was a mistake, so no need to intone his name), but when they need to, they'll spend money to win.

Posted by: Brianbien | June 19, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Brian did you really just post your thoughts twice so you could simply spell your name with a capital 'B' the second time?


Great-googly-moogly.

Posted by: O's Exec | June 19, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Who are the CHEFS?

Posted by: Great-googly-moogly | June 19, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Go to your room.

Posted by: O's Exec's mom | June 19, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Depends on which resturant you're at.

Who are the CHEFS?

Posted by: Great-googly-moogly | June 19, 2008 7:35 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

I'll hang in there with this basically uninteresting team, give them my ticket money, buy the awful food (hey, I know it is better than last year's food!), and even try to stay for over half the game when I do go. The future has to be better than this. So I am sacrificing, just as the whole organization is, for a better day.

What I don't like is the ticket price increase this season, when the stadium was given to the Nats and when the Nats did not spend to put a quality product on the field. Why not cultivate the fans? I also don't care for the Nats suing the DC govt. for not completing their executive offices exactly on time--that seems amazingly petty and ungrateful. Not much of a partnership so far between Nats, the fan base and the govt. that gave them the stadium. It is all one way. There are some things that can be done now for the fans and for DC.

Posted by: EdDC | June 19, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Expos fan! Don't forget to spread the word and sign the petition!

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | June 19, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

O's Exec has at least shown that he is a Frank Zappa listener, if not a fan ..."Great googly moogly, I jumped up-n-down the chest of him".. (F. Zappa, "Yellow Snow", from the album "The Apostrophe"). On that point sir, you earn my temporary respect.

Posted by: BIM | June 19, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

But can he play cosmic baseball?

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 19, 2008 7:52 PM | Report abuse

I hate losing. I would deep six the entire outfield. I would trade for, bring up anyone who could hit the thrown baseball at least a third of the time.

Posted by: 6th and D | June 19, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I hate losing. I would deep six the entire outfield. I would trade for, bring up anyone who could hit the thrown baseball at least a third of the time.

Posted by: 6th and D | June 19, 2008 7:54 PM

Sack the outfield for a .333 hitter? I could be on-board, who you got in mind?

Posted by: BIM | June 19, 2008 7:58 PM | Report abuse

"I can't see! I can't see! Oh, whoa is me! I can't see!" The Nats took a dog do snow cone and put it in my right eye! Then they took a etc." Listened to the whole game. It was blinding.

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Flynnie: The only recourse is to proceed to St. Alphonso's.

Posted by: BIM | June 19, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Is it time for me to post Les Carpenter's last article for the Seattle Times? Yes it is!

The problem with sports in the gentle cities is that they don't demand much from their teams. They don't insist upon the one extra trade, the free-agent signing, the firing of the manager that would put the team over the top. In the end, the gentle cities wind up losers. They find themselves in the big game against the team from New York or Chicago or someplace else that burns to win, and they shrivel in the heat.

It's not as if Seattle is a bad sports town. Three million baseball fans a year say this is a place that loves sports. Rather, Seattle falls for its favorite teams like few cities do -- lathering them with affection, embracing them, caressing them. Much like someone so taken in the euphoria of a love affair, it ignores all the flaws, believing that true love will make them disappear.

This is, of course, a recipe for heartbreak.

Seattle's problem is that it allows its owners, general managers and athletic directors to accept mediocrity.

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Seattle fans far too nice to their franchises by Les Carpenter, March 7, 2005

It's up to you to demand the winning.

There's a reason George Steinbrenner spends the way he does. There's a reason the Red Sox threw millions after the Yankees Brinks truck. There's a reason Jerry Buss kept dumping coaches and players until he wound up with Phil Jackson, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. Some fans insist on winning, and they'll refuse to pay the ticket ransoms unless a title comes with the luxury suite.

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 8:21 PM | Report abuse

What's this about Washington not taking th field fot the 9th inning? I was working and listening, and work was far more engaging. Did the Nats forfeit? Mercy rule?

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Ohhhhh! FIELDING in the bottom of the 9th! Got it! All by myself!

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Ryan, where are you? Einstein here, missing your posts, dude! Thanks for the encouragement, BIM! The baseball I saw/heard the last two nights would knock a buzzard off a garbage wagon. I think it's driven Ryan and others away.

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 8:32 PM | Report abuse

More from Les Carpenter's last article at the Seattle Times, March 7, 2005

The other day I rekindled an old argument with a local television sports reporter. "What do you think is a great sports town?" he asked. "Philadelphia? I don't want to be that. They take sports wayyyy too seriously there."

As he said this, I thought back to a Seahawks season opener many years ago when Seattle -- on the way to one of many 8-8 years -- was in the midst of a 38-point trouncing of an awful Eagles team in Philadelphia. Sometime around the third quarter someone draped a huge sheet over two sections of stands. Scrawled on the sheet was a message directed at Eagles team owner Jeffrey Lurie and president Joe Banner.

"Lurie, Banner Liar, Liar," it read.

Six years later, Lurie and Banner's Eagles were in the Super Bowl after three other appearances in the NFC title game, while the Seahawks were slogging their way to another 9-7 finish.

Maybe Philadelphia isn't so bad.

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

@flynnie: Mr. Carpenter's ring true, to a point. While the city & surrounding comunities fully embrace their professional franchises (in this particular case, the Mariners, Seahawks, and Sonics), he does not account (or mitigate) for the fact that two of the three Seattle pro franchises are currently owned by non-resident owners; hence the lawsuit regarding the Sonic's pending relocation.

With the Washington franchises, all ownership is at least regional, with (Polin/Leonsis - Wizards, Leonsis - Capitals, Snyder - Redskins, Lerners - Nationals). Our question ultimately might boil down to whether or not the Lerners are willing to "throw the BIG bucks" at the one or two players that will push the Nationals into perennial contenders, or will they settle into a "the franchise is making money for me" mode (much like the current situation with the Mariners).

Posted by: BIM | June 19, 2008 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Anyone got a handle on the team's "Plan" for the rest of this season? Does the team pair the payroll? When is the right time to bring up young players? (42 days till the trading deadline)

Or does the team still keep it's blinders on only looking at 2011 season?

Posted by: Just Wondering | June 19, 2008 8:50 PM | Report abuse

I really loved the girl at work's post in the last blog. I want to see some winning baseball, but MLB dealt us a bad hand from jump and Bowden put together a good, but unsustainable team in 2005 to jack up the sales price.

I'll take this mess of a team over 1972 - 2004 any day. In fact, these guys kind of remind me of the 1971 Nats - now THAT was a dysfunctional club!!

Posted by: steve | June 19, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Good points, BIM. The Mariners were picked to go to the playoffs and no one expected them to blow up like this. (Except Grover-what did he see? He's been around long enough to have gotten off the Titanic at the last port of call.) Gillick seems to leave the farm in ruins everywhere he's been in exchange for getting teams to the playoffs. But we fans wanted Livo! He's fun to watch! Why was he pitching in 'Zona and Mpls? Stan's told me that once you spend money you can't get it back. I'm sure the Lerners love to hear this. But as a fan, I think it sucks. I want George Steinbrenner or John Henry. Scott Boras was humiliated by the Yankees front office w/A-rod because he announced A-Rod's free agency during the Series. If the Lerners cared more about the fans than the Lords of the Game, they would have given him something to talk about with A-rod. What's the worst that could happen? The Yankees have to spend more money for him? Boras comes to the Nats first? I'm not here to depress anyone, but for $611M from D.C., we should demand more than a playground for plutocrats.

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I can go to Bethesda or Bowie or Woodbridge or the Shorebirds and watch plucky underdogs trying their hearts out, and have enough left over for gas and groceries. The nearby Chick Filets serve excellent food. There's even hand made milk shakes and lemon pie!

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Are the Nats a real baseball team, or a Sears baseball team?

Posted by: nats del negro | June 19, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Steve, Girl at Work - Do you really enjoy seeing your team lose 11-2? Or 9-3? And it's not the beer you're enjoying, or being away from it all at the park, but the baseball?

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

nats del negro - you lost me! It's some popular film or Zappa reference that I'm missing and I will expose myself as a dumbass right here in public-please spell it out for your slower brethren.

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

You have to see the Cubs v. Rays right now. The Cubs reliever, Marmer, is wilder than a March hare. He hit his own batter while warming up in the bullpen! Yes, he threw one from the bullpen that hit his own guy at the plate! Now he's hit two Tampa Rays, resulting in a run and the look on former Senator Lou Pineilla's face would sour milk!

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Flynnie, yep, I was trying to ride the late Zappa train (actual quote "Is that a real poncho, or a Sears poncho?")...

Maybe if I signed it "Strictly Commercial"

Posted by: nats del negro | June 19, 2008 9:36 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe Philadelphia isn't so bad."

Trivia Question. Last championship for a Philly pro team with their "demanding" fan base?

Posted by: Fo' Fo' Fo' | June 19, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

"The problem with sports in the gentle cities is that they don't demand much from their teams. They don't insist upon the one extra trade, the free-agent signing, the firing of the manager that would put the team over the top. In the end, the gentle cities wind up losers. They find themselves in the big game against the team from New York or Chicago or someplace else that burns to win, and they shrivel in the heat."

God damn right. Put the heat on Timmy D and it's Championship city

Posted by: The Brutal San Antonio Media | June 19, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

@Flynnie, RE: Cubs vs. Rays
Wish I could see it, I s'pose I will see some of the juicy bits on BT at 10...

Cheers

Posted by: nats del negro | June 19, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Mohamed's Radio - Great song. Bless Zevon. I always crank Mr. Bad Example whenever I'm palyign my Zevon collection. Last good club concert I went to was Zevon by himself acoustic and with a drummer electric. his rant about the WW investigation ("the $50 million B$#@ J%^") was awesome. Sorry 505/203.

But the connection to the Nats? "I work all day and still can't pay the price of gasoline . . . and meat?" OK, the price of gasoline is current, and the price of Meat? Are you saying the Nats should not have signed Dmitri?

Posted by: PTBNL | June 19, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Throwing money at old free agents and roasting players on the back page of tabloids is OUR ticket to championship city baybee

Posted by: The New York Knicks and Mets | June 19, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

NdN - The Rays have just batted around, 4 walks, 2 hit batters, 4 hits and 7 runs scored, 4 from a grand slam. Went from 3-1 Cubs to 8-3 Rays, and Sweet Lou's face is as ugly as a bagful of behinds!

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Flynnie, I type here LOL at "ugly as a bagful of behinds" and in this case I truly mean it!!!

Thanksmuch for the major chuckle!

Posted by: nats del negro | June 19, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

How can I root for an organization that fired Charlie Slowes? Because I'm grateful, grateful from the bottom of my heart, that he's no longer in Tampa (and that Dave's not in Pawtucket).

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

The one Bill "The Moviegoer" Belichik stole from Andy Reid's, Donovan McNabb's and TO's Eagles.
***************************************
"Maybe Philadelphia isn't so bad."

Trivia Question. Last championship for a Philly pro team with their "demanding" fan base?

Posted by: Fo' Fo' Fo' | June 19, 2008 9:39 PM

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

My guess is that the Red Sox would send Coco Crisp hear for Rauch and would take Kearns off the Nats hands. Dukes in right, Crisp in Center, Milledge in left, with Zimmerman at 3d, Johnson at 1st, and Flores catching. That let's you sign the O-Dog and retain Guzzie. Only 2 subpar defenders, and 4 legit gold glove candidates. Coco is healthy and playing like he did in Cleveland.

Posted by: PTBNL | June 19, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse

The Rays' Network just showed the women in line at the restroom! No lie! They were as uncomfortable a collection of people as I've ever seen not wanting to be on camera! I'm sure they were just showing the fans at the concessions, and the ladies' room line was coincidental, but women, take over a few men's rooms! Such pain!

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

I believe the answer is the 1983 76'ers.

Posted by: Dr. J | June 19, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

I was at a football game at Harvard, and back when that stadium was built women didn't go to game, judging from the restroom distribution. I and a merry band cleared all the men out of enough restrooms so that there were no lines. Come on men! Fight for your female friends! (You don't have to fight-just implore, explain and suggest.)

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Wow, flynnie, talk about jumping ship.

I'm disappointed at this point in the season and here's why: I wanted 73 wins this year. That's the only thing I wanted at the beginning of the season. I know a lot of folks here thought there'd be a lot more wins (I particularly like someone who chose 82 for a .506 winning percentage), but for me, slow, deliberate improvement from the team perspective is what I wanted. Plus I think it would be cool to say our worst rebuilding season was one where Alfonso Soriano went 40-40 (-40, counting outfield assists).

But with Zimmerman and Kearns both hurt (and Kearns would have been an improvement over WMP), that isn't going to happen and it's disappointing. So why still be optimistic?

Well, because we're learning more, all the time. We're learning more about what we need (pesky middle infielders and centerfielder, again!), what we don't need (catcher), what we have (third baseman, who doesn't miss Zimm these days?), what we can hope for (pitching). In some ways, we're behind where I thought we'd be, but in some ways we're ahead.

Who would have thought John Lannan could be an ace? And yet, for the first time I have hope we have a future No. 1 pitcher on our staff, not because of what he does when he's on, but because of what he does when he's off. Because he's in the very worst of situations when he pitches now, and he still delivers as much quality as the very best pitchers in baseball. He's going to be fire-tested when a better offense roles around and be someone that terrifies opponents.

And there are other things, too, but I've wasted too much space already, and I'm on thin ice, I know. Sometimes you have to look past the trees and see the forest and sometimes you have to forget about the forest and see the trees. I know I sound like Polyanna often, but I just feel like the bad things are plenty apparent.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | June 19, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I would think that Jon Rauch would be pretty appealing to the Yankees, with all their 8th inning issues.

Posted by: res21 | June 19, 2008 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Steve, Girl at Work - Do you really enjoy seeing your team lose 11-2? Or 9-3? And it's not the beer you're enjoying, or being away from it all at the park, but the baseball?

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 9:21 PM

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

Honest to God. I listened to almost three hours of Charlie and Dave today, and I don't think I'd trade these Thursday afternoon games for an office with a window. (That is, if you can call the back room into which they shoved us summer interns an "office.")

I'll be skipping out a little early tomorrow to head on over to the park. My whole family's going, and I might drag along a few friends who work in the city.

Seriously. I enjoy this. Not kidding.

(I'm not saying that you have to enjoy it, too! Just that I don't understand why you'd be here if you didn't. Blogging is still optional in this town, right?)

Posted by: girl at work (from nine to five, that is) | June 19, 2008 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Also, I find this absolutely priceless:

"The Cubs reliever, Marmer, is wilder than a March hare. He hit his own batter while warming up in the bullpen! Yes, he threw one from the bullpen that hit his own guy at the plate!"

Remember that time Matt Chico threw a pitch over the dugout? Ninety degrees from the direction he should have been throwing, and hard enough to make it a few rows into the stands. The best part was when they asked him about it after the game, and he said that happens a couple times a year! (Insert Nuke LaLoosh reference here.)

Posted by: girl at work (from nine to five, that is) | June 19, 2008 10:33 PM | Report abuse

No, no, Chico. I'm not letting you off this easy this time. Your season is nearing the point of "it's no longer early."

You need to start going beyond just the pat, easy statements like "the Nats still stink." There are still lots of questions you should be asking the team, asking yourself and asking us.

I don't want to hear any more about lineups or who's starting or how Manny reacts to another loss. I want you to back up and ask bigger picture questions now. It's time.

Ask Kasten if he needs a little more patience from us fans than he thought. Is there any behind-the-scenes adjusting going on?

Ask US how much more patience we have. (I have a lot. All I want is a little candor at this point).

It's clear this is a little more than a slump. So fine. If this record is what we're in for this year, let's hear honest thoughts on it from leadership. Do they have a contingency plan? Everyone, I mean EVERYONE knew the pieces we picked up in the off-season were a gamble. Did Bowden's leash come with a minimum record or he's out?

Do you seriously think someone's job is on the line here? And if so, why plant such a bomb without giving us some real insight as to why you think that besides "Nats suck and people lose jobs when teams suck."

Dig a little, man. Give us some serious analysis.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 19, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

For a fun mini-vacation, go to the website of El Tigres del Licey, one of the great Dominican clubs. Christian is a Star! In the article, whom do they quote as an authority on Guzman's All-Star creds? Manny Acta! There's also a great picture of Manny in the gallery section, and a heated argument that baseball was NOT brought to the Dominican by two Cubans in 1891! No thin ice in the sunny Dominican, 506! Those folks sure love their baseball!

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey Wigi, were you in Alaska in the late 90s when the Potty Parity legislation was going on? I forget the Rep's name but it was a serious issue for her to get parity between women's and men's public restrooms.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 19, 2008 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Girl at Work, are you Dominican? Cuban? All-American? Do you agree that TMOTTBG should be our National Anthem? (to share w/Cuba and The Dominican) I agree with you, Charlie and Dave and Baseball are magic, especially Charlie's ability to say, "This is a new low - the worst we've seen this season!" with the same happy tone he uses in IHOP commercials. And well-said, NatsNut. Time for the prognosis, grim or otherwise.

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 11:07 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut, reading Chico's post again, I think he's saying that getting swept by the Nats will cost a gm and manager their jobs. He links you to McLaren's firing. Reading it, and remembering how he dismissed the SI rumor about JimBow being in trouble, I'm sure Chico is not saying that anyone on the Nats job is on the line, a la Willie Randolph or McLaren or Bavasi.

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Oh right. Well that just deflated my demanding little post. LOL!

Posted by: NatsNut | June 19, 2008 11:21 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't finish listening to the dulcet tones of Charlie and Dave last night or today, and, really, they're the only consistently good pieces connected with this team these days (well, aside from Rauch, Lannan, Guzman, Flores, Nieves and M. Acta). The stadium is beautiful. What fills it is depressing. Loved flynnie's description of the Cubbies' closer pitching like a March hare, was it?! That was hilarious.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2008 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh, NatsNut, Chico doesn't link you, as in NatsNut, to McLaren's firing (DC Fan Gets McLaren Canned! Bavasi Blames NatsNut!) but the collective you are provided a link to the Sweepless in Seattle a/k/a the Pike's Place Purge.

Posted by: flynnie | June 19, 2008 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Ptbnl: I can't see Boston making any trade right now to rid themselves of Coco Crisp. With Ortiz out (possibly all season if rehab doesn't go well), they're putting Manny in the DH spot and starting an outfield that goes Elsbury-Crisp-Drew which might be one of the best defensive outfields since the dead ball era.

Who on this team would anyone trade for, given certain players the Nats just won't trade? This list below is (arguably) who's actually playing well enough to trade for right now and who has VORP values above 5.0:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/team_audit.php?team=WAS

- Guzman: last year of contract, could be a good deadline deal for a contender needing a SS. But I'm starting to think the Nats need to sign him for 09,10 since they really don't have any INF prospects.
- Flores: no way we trade him; he's our franchise catcher going
- Nick Johnson: injured and nobody would take him as is.

- Lannan: see Flores: at current our best pitching hope going fwd
- Rauch: Trade him while he's up? I still don't see it; he has a very very favorable contract for someone w/ closer capabilities, is locked in for 2 years, and will setup if we find a better closer (aka, he's a team player).
- OPerez: of course he's picked up an injury just when he could be improving trade value
- Redding: 4 bad starts have taken the shimmer off
- Rivera; not sure why he's listed w/ a 4.07 era and a 1.50 whip. Not exactly stellar numbers you're looking for in a middle-innings reliever. Dump him if someone asks for him and bring up any number of guys from AA or AAA.

As for the original question of the post: there's no way in h*ll we go .500 for the rest of the season. All the optimism we had last off season with the hitting improvements and healthy starters is shot, we're on the way to the worst record in baseball. And its not going to get any better any time soon.

I'm a huge fan and would rather see Balester/Mock/Clippard at this point over retreads like Hill and OPerez, but i'm not hte Nationals front office staff, trying to put butts in the seats. So we'll continue slogging through this season as is. Pray for injuries to open up rotation spots for the youngsters.

Posted by: Sec131 | June 20, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Sec 131 - There is still substantial speculation in Boston and among baseball writers about Coco being moved. Coco isn't objecting to his playing time now, but still says whne asked that he should be a starter some place. I have not seen anything to indicate that Ortiz's injury is a season ender, not to say wrists aren't always a worry. Any deal would be based on Ortiz being sound and Manny's hammies beig good enough to play in the OF, though.

Having said that, Kearns's and Crisp's contracts are pretty much a wash next year. Kearns would be a back up outfielder with a big arm to play in right when Drew is resting or hurt. The fact that he is RH and Ellsbury and Drew are LH is also a platoon plus. He's a pretty patient hitter, and the Red Sox are willing to pay high for depth (they carried Hinske as a backup last year and are essentially carrying Crisp in a depth role now). Their best internal option for 4th OF after Crisp is Moss, who has his plusses but is LH and is not the defender that Kearns is. They don't do the deal that way unless they get a high quality set up guy, which would be Rauch's role. Rivera and Ayala I don't think are good enough for the deal, and I don't think they are too hot for Cordero.

For the Nats, I would look to get what I can for Rauch. Between his work load over the past few years and where the team is right now, I think having your back up closer perform well when given a chance to close is a sell high signal (my guess is Andy MacPhail realizes this too). I'd start looking at minor league depth for starter to closer conversion candidates, try to get by with what is on staff now, cringe when they go Borowski on us, and bury my few extra losses in a down year for the sake of growth in the future. This clears space for players like Daniels or J-Max in the 4th OF role that they may be suited for now, and, if J-Max is more, you eventually let Crisp walk. Itfills the last outfield hole, and let's you contrate the offseason on MIs.

I'd say the timing for this type of move woudl be July, towards the trade deadline. Hopefully, by that time, Kearns, Ortiz, and Manny will be healthy enough to make a deal, and the Sox will have figured out if their internal bullpen options are adequate.

Posted by: PTBNL | June 20, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

To all those who say that the team stinks and they're staying away from the ballpark, my question is this. We've waited 33 years for a team, and now you're gonna stay away? It's that kind of logic that cost us the Senators twice before.

Wins are great. The make the Metro ride back much happier. But win or lose they're our guys. Root them on. Think about what Manny said the other day: We'll get 'em tomorrow! Baseball is about optimism.

As for .500 the rest of the way, the eternal optimist in me says Why Not? They still play the games every day. Go Nats!

This team is so beset by injuries that it doesn't resemble anything like it looked at the beginning of the year. It's all a big experiment right now. Firings do nothing but create distractions and cause instability. Patience people. More patience than you ever thought possible!

And besides - who ever said this was gonna be easy? If it was, the Cubs would have 10 World Series titles by now.

Posted by: DanD187 | June 20, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

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