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A lost season and a 6-0 deficit

* Lo Duca is starting tonight in left field. The game is five minutes old, and already he's made a throwing error after a sac fly. Acta on the reasoning from playing Lo Duca in the outfield: "He's played there before. He looked good on the drills and all that kind of stuff, but we need some runs and at the end of the game, if I need to play defense for him, we'll do it."

* GM Jim Bowden said this afternoon that he's disappointed in negotiations with first-round pick Aaron Crow, a RHP from Mizzou. Crow hasn't signed yet. Which means, per Bowden's reasoning, that he's wasting a year of development. "This is a pitcher that will get to the big leagues relatively quickly," Bowden said. "And like Ryan Zimmerman, you know, they don't come around very often. And you hope they want to sign quick, because it helps their career... I've always said if you don't go sign you lose a year."

* Guys in the Nationals clubhouse were quite sympathetic to the latest Johnson news. They feel bad for the guy, especially because many saw first-hand how much effort he put into his recovery from the broken femur. They're mystified, too, about why he's so susceptible to injuries. The parallels between this one and his collision on Sept. 23 in the outfield with Austin Kearns are eerie. Both happened against the Mets. And both times, Johnson needed far more time to recover than originally expected.

Here's what Acta said about his first baseman:

"I feel bad for Nick, because I know how much Nick loves to play and how important he is to our ballclub. He loves to play. He's the ultimate professional. He's up early, he leaves late. He breathes baseball. That's why I feel so bad."

Asked about where the team would miss Johnson most, Acta said, "Everywhere. I mean, everywhere. Here is a guy who was hitting .220 but had a .415 on-base percentage. I mean, there is not one thing you can pick when he's healthy. Because even when he's not hitting he's getting on base four out of ten times. Defensively he was brilliant this year, and his clubhouse presence -- he's a very quiet guy, but he leads by example. So we're going to miss him overall."

I asked Bowden, later on, if he was concerned about Johnson's overall game, given the fact that he'll start 2009 having appeared in just 38 games over the last two years.

"You know what, certainly some players I think the answer would be yes," Bowden said. "I don't in the case of hitters. Nick Johnson can hit. He's not going to lose that. He proved it this year."

* Oh, and by the way, we've got a game going on. Nats needed just a half inning to commit two errors and allow six runs. What on earth should the Nats do with Shawn Hill?

By Chico Harlan  |  June 24, 2008; 7:33 PM ET
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Next: The Senators moved to Minneapolis. The Nats are moving to Rochester, Minn.


D'oh! Got new posted.....

This team has hit rock bottom on the field. It plays non-competitive and uninspiring baseball. Bad teams traditionally are the ones that consistently play well enough to lose. Why statrt PLoD in LF tonight when Casto is an option? This is looking more and more like the Island of Misfit Toys. Stan the Plan Man is right - this team will get the attendance that its play merits. Good grief!!

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 24, 2008 7:37 PM

As foor Hill, shut him down, for the rest of the season if necessary, and start all over in February 2009.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 24, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

"1. we need some runs and at the end of the game,

2. if I need to play defense for him, we'll do it."

1. Oh, yes we do!

2. O, yes you will!

Posted by: flynnie | June 24, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Whats up with LD now?

Posted by: Andrew Stebbins | June 24, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

"What on earth should the Nats do with Shawn Hill?"

Send him to the Mayo Clinic.

Posted by: flynnie | June 24, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Vlad out with flu like symptoms now. Something in the air.

Posted by: Andrew Z. Stebbins | June 24, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Don't you see. It is part of 'the Plan' to bring up a young Casto to sit on the bench while a deflated PLoD embarrasses himself at three positions.

Posted by: Newposted natrat | June 24, 2008 7:51 PM | Report abuse

since i watch the game with the tv sound down so i can listen to charlie and dave, has anyone else noticed that the nats express is no longer being promoted by the club? instead, there are spots about how hard it is to park near the stadium and fans are urged to take metro.

Posted by: natsscribe | June 24, 2008 7:51 PM | Report abuse

This is the third time this week I have wasted gas on this garbage. Bowden should be out of a job by cob tonight! Manny has zippy to work with!

Posted by: 219 t | June 24, 2008 7:52 PM | Report abuse

In regards to Hill, I'd recommend trading him for someone who has the possibility in the future of becoming a good oitcher.

Posted by: Gus | June 24, 2008 7:52 PM | Report abuse

With two of the three errors committed by "out of position" players (Harris, LoDuca), I'm not suprised. As I inferred earlier, it's going to be an interesting evening.

Posted by: BIM | June 24, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

In all the comments on Nick Johnson, I find one name obviously absent. Why does no one seem to remember Josh Whitesell? The "genius" Bowden thought he could sneak him through waivers. Now all Josh is doing is hitting .285 with 16 homers for the baby Diamondbacks. I must admit I'd much prefer to see what Whitesell could do than watch Dimitri at 1B. I have to think that a platoon of Marrero and Whitesell in 2009 (or 2010, I'm not picky) might have been nice too.

Posted by: grf15 | June 24, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

@flynnie: No, Let him try to eat innings tonight, then send him to the minors to work on his "delivery changes"; Call up Tyler fort the next 30 days & see what happens.

Posted by: BIM | June 24, 2008 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Hill is done. Enough is enough; he's had one servicable start in the last month. DFA him, invent an injury and 15-day him, do *something*. Lo Duco can get cut as well. Eat the cash, cut your losses and move on.

I'd rather see Mock/Clippard/Balester struggling than watch an injury prone Hill give up game after game with a 5.50 era. He's got an era above SEVEN in june alone, with a whip above 2.0. Lannan can't get wins giving up 2er in 7 innings, why should we let Hill continue to give up6-10 runs an outing. Sheesh!

Yeah it is a lost season.

Oh, i'm still p*ssed about the IDIOTIC Whitesell manouver by Bowden. When they freaking passed Ryan "I can't hit my IQ let along my weight" Langerhans through waivers a week later. Idiots!

Posted by: Sec131 | June 24, 2008 7:58 PM | Report abuse

a "flawed juggernaut - much more "naught" than "jugger"

Bill Conlin, October 8, 2007

Posted by: flynnie | June 24, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Attaboy Wily Mo!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 24, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Dammit! Now JimBow won't trade WMP while he's hot.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 24, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

wmp homer...big deal...angels don't care, they're just throwing strikes up 8 to zip, no 8 to 1...big deal.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | June 24, 2008 8:05 PM | Report abuse

We're having a near-life baseball experience.

Posted by: Tyler Durden | June 24, 2008 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Good ol' first-pitch FLop.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 24, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Arroyo just gave up 10 runs in 2 innings. Maybe Bowden will trade for him.

Posted by: Count Demoney | June 24, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Worst butt-kicking of a Washington team by the Angels occurred on August 24, 1963 when the expansion Senators lost 17-0.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 24, 2008 8:12 PM | Report abuse

paging Collin Balester

Posted by: i hate you felipe lopez | June 24, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

how the heck did da meat loaf blunder into that defensive double play?

Posted by: natsscribe | June 24, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

I like how they had the nerve to set off the fireworks for a home run to put us down 7

Posted by: Rick.Felt | June 24, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

haha Calling Collin Balester

Posted by: Section 111 (Formerly 223 @ RFK) | June 24, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Did they do the fireworks again for Dukes?

Posted by: Count Demoney | June 24, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Six-word headline:

Hill gets shelled. Shell takes hill.

Posted by: John in Mpls | June 24, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Dave Jaegler just crystallized the Nats situation in this game - the Nats can hit all of the solo homers they want but it's unlikely that the home team is going to hit eight of them to tie the game.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 24, 2008 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Value Over Replacement Player

That pretty much says it. Most of our current players have no VORP. Start swallowing salary, and bring up kids. The year is done.

If the intent of playing LoDuca in other positions is the chance to trade him, his blundering is making it impossible. The team shed Macowiak, and dropped Langerhans. It can be done.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | June 24, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Save just referenced Johnson's latest injury as "a run of bad luck". For the team, yes, but as an individual no; this is more like "a player who is injured easily, often, and doesn't heal quickly". Since yesterday was "Let it Go" day, I think we need to honor the day.

Posted by: BIM | June 24, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to whomever takes the moniker "VORPless in Washington."

But really, Positively Half St., if the Nats just cut LoDuca outright, I will do the Dance of Joy from the 80's TV show Perfect Strangers.

Posted by: John in Mpls | June 24, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see future 'Bama star Destin Hood in the booth

Posted by: Rick.Felt | June 24, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

JiM: Perfect.

Posted by: BIM | June 24, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse


is there a VORT (Value Over Replacement Team) stat for these guys?

Posted by: natsscribe | June 24, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

@natsscribe (VORT): That would currently be Columbus - Bringing up a AAA team (+2 or 3 players) to replace our current AAAA team would accomplish what?

Posted by: BIM | June 24, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Stick a Patterson in him, Hill's done.

Posted by: CE | June 24, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

@CE: You could be right, but I'd like to send him down to AAA first.

Posted by: BIM | June 24, 2008 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't feel so bad about these guys being so bad if we could at least be young and learning. Perez, Redding, Hill, LoDuca and Lopez don't fit that bill.

Keeping Guzman makes sense only because our next best option at SS is 18 years and 25 days old (Smiley Gonzalez) and keeping Young makes sense only because our next best option just (finally) got promoted to Potomac (Rhinehart).

Posted by: estuartj | June 24, 2008 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I was at that 8/24/63 17 to nothing game. No kidding, I really was there.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | June 24, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

It is just shameful the way this team is run. LoDuca in the OF? A bunch of nobodys on the mound who can't get thru a game with some decent pitching? It's just awful every night.

It's a huge shame to see Nick Johnson out for the season, again. He's a good guy, and a very good player when healthy. Best wishes to him for a speedy recovery.

I went to over 40 games the first season. I'm not a DC native, but I was ready to embrace the Nats as my own. Man, this team is so horribly run, though, that I have no interest in giving them my hard-earned money. Especially with their overpriced tickets. After all the talk of Stan Kasten's "plan," I see no sign that this team will compete for years to come, and have no confidence in management to build a success on the field or off the field.

Truly a shame. This should be one of baseball's premier markets. If only we had owners and management that could make it happen.

Posted by: DCBaseballFan | June 24, 2008 9:17 PM | Report abuse

I got nothing left, and by average, neither do our boys. Talk to you all later, I'm out.

Posted by: BIM | June 24, 2008 9:19 PM | Report abuse

I just got home. What the Shell happened?

Posted by: NatsNut | June 24, 2008 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Shawn Hill is just having a typical year after arm surgery. He feels healthy, but the arm just doesn't do what he wants it to do. It would be best for Shawn to 60 day DL him, and send him hom to Viera wher he can pitch in the GCL. Then let him rest the arm and be ready for next year. No one can pitch in this league less than 100%.

Posted by: Been there | June 24, 2008 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Time to send not only Johnson, but, Hill the way of Patterson...

Posted by: Jason | June 24, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse


Is there any way for you to get word to Bob Carpenter that he just defamed Juan Rivera over something that Ruben Rivera did? He owes the guy an on-air apology--he said that Juan "got into some trouble in the Yankees' clubhouse" and was then traded to the Expos. Ruben stole Derek Jeter's glove, not Juan, Juan never had "problems" in the Yankees' clubhouse.

I don't know why I'm still watching this crappy game at this point, but if I'm going to, I shouldn't have to put up with uninformed drivel like this on top of it. Juan Rivera is a good guy who doesn't deserve to be defamed by a dope like Carpenter.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | June 24, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

The plan is working. Ca-ching!! Suckas!

Posted by: The Lerners | June 24, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Who would have thought I'd ever say this?

Thank God for difficult coworkers that forced me to work late!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | June 24, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

CiL, wow. If that's right (and I have no reason to doubt you, I just wasn't watching -- that's "WW" for those of you scoring at home), that's shocking. On-air apology AND a box of steaks, at least.

Posted by: section 3 (MC) | June 24, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

You sure you're not staying late because you didn't get anything done today while you refreshed and posted here?

Wait. Maybe that was me!

Posted by: NatsNut | June 24, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Chico. I'm loving your posts. Lots and lots of INFORMATION.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 24, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Don't look now, but I think 320 and the African Queen may have just signed Steven's petition. Can't you just feel the brand of this team solidifying into the Senators', like some pickle-flavored jello gone horribly wrong?

Posted by: section 3, MC | June 24, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

SC Nats Fan

You were one of the 5,267 people at DC Stadium that day. Many fewer witnesses than for tonight's debacle.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 24, 2008 10:00 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut, Hill didn't have his stuff, and neither did the defense in the early innings. The Angels scored 6 in the first, and 2 more in the third. Lo Duca came out in the second with light-headedness and was taken to Sibley Hospital.

You should have turned off the sound and Charlie and Daved it, CiL. Yo, Adrian!

How did Shell look for those of you who were watching? He sounded good on the radio.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 24, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Ray Knight is trying to sound upbeat on MASN. He found a few good plays to be excited about. Manny Acta is coming on. This should be good.

Posted by: Count Demoney | June 24, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Charlie said that the tape of this game would not be sent to the HOF - they'd refused it.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 24, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

"Can't you just feel the brand of this team solidifying into the Senators', like some pickle-flavored jello gone horribly wrong?"


Three cheers for Charlie and Dave discussing Charlie's boxing at the ESPN zone. It was a riot.

It'll get better, but it's baseball, not basketball. You can't snag Kevin Garnett and have a championship. Long, slow, painful rebuilding. There are lots of things that could be done, but, as a fan, you have to realize that anything is going to take time.

So, like someone who was decidedly not as optimistic as me said earlier: the season is over, let's enjoy watching some baseball.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | June 24, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

somewhere, tom emanski weeps.

Posted by: natsscribe | June 24, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Agree re. the boxing discussion, 506. Did you like the Rocky shout-out as well or not (it is a Philly reference after all ;-))?

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 24, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

MASN reports Shawn Hill will be examined at the Mayo Clinic. Another one bites the dust.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 24, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse

So what happened to LoDuca? From our vantage point I'm guessing panic attack (i.e., fear that someone would hit another ball to him in left).

Posted by: Section 209 | June 24, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

This is sad and getting worse. I cannot believe the lineup that Acta put out there. I know he has little to work with but his best hitter is Young . He should bat 3. Put Dukes or Pena in the 4 and 5. Move Milledge to 2 . Just try it out. You have nothing to lose. Having LoDuca play left was pathetic . I am worried about Acta. I think he is panicking.

Hill is hurt. Please shut him down and have him go to Florida for rehab. I am confused by all these forearm strains and our inability to get doctors to fix the problem. Is this a new type of injury unfamiliar to doctors? Also I have to believe that Zimm is done for the year. You can not believe anything the Nats' FO says about injuries.

I see Bimbo is doing his usual bungling job with the draftees.

Lastly is it just me or does this team come across as being poorly run in all aspects. Something is going with that FO. Is Kasten setting up Bimbo?

Posted by: mjames | June 24, 2008 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Had enough yet?

Sign the Fire Bowden petition:

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | June 24, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Shell is looking pretty impressive, based on seeing him Sunday and looking at his numbers from tonight.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | June 24, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

The season is four games short of the halfway point, and we're now able to get a pretty good picture of where the team stands.

First, I'm a little surprised that we're all so hard on the Nationals (myself included) considering the team's 3-4-5 hitters have missed 104 out of 234 possible games (44%). I'd guess that all the injuries have caused the Nats at least five games. So instead of 30-49, they'd be 35-44, on pace for a 72 wins, virtually the same as last year.

Yes, the season is lost, and the time has come to promote and cover our eyes. John Lannan, Tim Redding and Jason Bergman give the Nationals a chance to win. Might as well bring up Colin Balestar and let Mock or Clippard take their lumps in the five slot.

If Dukes and Kearns and Milledge produce in 2009 to the best of their ability, the Nationals could be a .500 team. But they have too many fringe-solid major league players to do much more. They have to bring in a real bat, an Adam Dunn or Mark Texiera type. True, they both have holes in their game, but they'd make the rest of the players in the lineup better.

Though I'm all for "The Plan," Heaven help the Nationals if we go through another winter of "All's Quiet on the Free Agent Front."

Posted by: The Beltway Boy | June 24, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

It's time to turn Shawn Hill into a dominant reliever. He's got so many arm problems these days, there is no reason in my mind that we shouldn't turn him into something useful before he throws out his elbow and is out of professional baseball at 30 (see Patterson, John). Look at Hill's career splits. Over his career, he allows a .229/.286/.306 line against him for the first time opposing batters face him in a game. That inflates to .299/.364/.447 the second time around, and baloons to .282/.352/.492 for the third time around and after. Hill is ridiculously good in the first inning he pitches (.191/.248/.200 against) and pedestrian after that (opposing OPS' of .851, .806, .751, .792, .840 in innings 2-6, only 47 career PA against after 6 innings). Hill's chances of being something special are significantly better if he is converted into a reliever rather than staying as a starter.

Posted by: Hoagie | June 24, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

bring up balester already! why they even let hill start another game tonight is beyond me.

Posted by: jf | June 24, 2008 11:09 PM | Report abuse

"Don't look now, but I think 320 and the African Queen may have just signed Steven's petition."

I just now looked, and they haven't signed the petition. But one Norval Turner of California has. Right.

I'm tired of rebutting his arguments, but if you wanted to rank three local celebrities in increasing order of ridiculousness, the list would go like this: Jim Bowden, then Norval Turner, then Steven on Capitol Hill and his petition on the top of the list.

Posted by: Ray King's Gut Feeling | June 24, 2008 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Come on down! You're next on Nationals Journal! Just don't trip and hurt yourself.

Posted by: new post | June 24, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

I just watched the 8-3 drubbing in person... I"m losing faith in Nats management, not only for the pathetic on-=field performance, but the disappointments in the stadium.
Tonight: no crab cakes in concessions... no bratwurst in concessions behind the expensive seats... had to walk all the way to right field for bratwurst!
The leg room in the rows in section 219 are uneven.. mine has the shortest leg room. I'm 6'1 and my knees touch the cupholders... we measured... the rows in front and behind have 4 more inches! It's true. What idiot engineered the placement of seats? And these are $50 seats.
It's supposed to be the 'greenest' ball park, yet in the middle of summer, the water in the bathroom sinks is so hot, you practically burn your hands... where's the genius in Stan Kasten????? Way past his prime, I think. Don't even get me started on the service at concessions.... it's worse than at McDonald's. ANd those rain delays! The grounds crew screwed up at the Cardinals rain delay.. everyone was finished, both teams were on the field after the delay,a nd the pitcher did all his warmups... and then everyone sat around, while the grounds crew finished painting the foul line in right field! Awful. The Cardinals even complained at how bad the grounds crew worked! Stan Kasten- Genius? From the top down to the bottom, low grades for this ballclub.

Posted by: dc1752 | June 24, 2008 11:42 PM | Report abuse

i'll have to echo the total lack of competency in the concessions at the stadium. at this point, there's absolutely no excuse for things like stands not having chili for bens chili dogs at 7pm for a 7:05 game, or being out of some kinds of beer at 7. or any of the rest of the litany of stupid things that happen because the concessionaires aren't prepared for the game to start.

Posted by: 231 | June 24, 2008 11:44 PM | Report abuse

This is the team Jimbo and his lieutenants dreamed of having in's like they WANT to lose so they can get higher draft picks. But then they DON'T SIGN the picks - man, with the shape this team is in, the BETTER FIND A WAY to sign Crow and Hood and everyone else in their top 10. It's inexcusable they haven't locked Crow up yet. If you have to overpay, just do it!!! Splurge on SOMEONE, PLEASE!!!

What burns me up is, with a little smarter management and player selection, this team could have been a .500 club. And, look at the NL East standings, .500 would put the Nationals in the hunt 50% of the way through the season. It would be fun and Nationals Park would be PACKED by now!

Mr. Kasten and Bowden -- this is not 1990 Atlanta. We are a much different market and baseball is much different now. You cannot do the same things that worked there and then and expect the same success now.

Washington endured three decades of horrible baseball, with a few rare exceptions, from about 1941 - 1971, then no baseball at all. We don't want another Senators re-run. We just want a competitive team that has a realistic shot at 81 wins. Please understand that if you do not alter the plan somewhat by signing some true quality veteran players, you will lose this tenuous market. I have heard from long-time season ticket holders (and I mean back to the dark days of the Senators) who are ready to bail next year, if not already.

Baseball is too smart and too balanced to let another Braves' type run happen. The Nationals need to be more realistic about how to build this team -- because we are now WORSE than the end-of-the-year 2004 Expos. We have gone BACKWARDS!!

There will be free agents who can help teach this team how to become winners. Orlando Hudson reminds me a lot of Terry Pendleton (please note Mr. Kasten). Potentially dominant #1 starting pitchers, a desperate need, will be available. So much more is needed in this mess Jimbo has built.

Off-season checklist:

--Get a real GM
-- Find a leadoff hitter
-- Find a true #3 slugger
-- Get the entire team to take more pitches and earn more walks
-- Find a reliable LH relief pitcher
-- Sign a #1 starter
-- Sign a 2B and SS (and 1B really and LF too).

Man, it could be a LONG, LONG, LONG time before we see 81 wins. Will anyone still care by then?

Lerners, you know what it was like in DC during the bad old days, please loosen the purse springs enough to give us a legit shot at a .500 season, not an annual embarrassment!

Yes, I signed the petition - here's hoping Ted Lerner and Stan Kasten put their John Hancock's on it real, real soon!!!

Posted by: Steve | June 24, 2008 11:45 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: NEW POST | June 24, 2008 11:51 PM | Report abuse

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