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Just a reminder, folks. We're chatting today at noon, not 2 p.m., on account of the start time for today's baseball game. (It's a 12:10 first pitch.) The chat might run a bit shorter than usual -- probably 30 minutes instead of the usual hour. So if you want, submit your questions now.

By Chico Harlan  |  July 2, 2008; 7:05 AM ET
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Next: Lineups


Add another one to the "keep" pile. So, we've got 2/5ths of a rotation (and maybe Bergmann and Redding), C, SS (resign Guz?), 3B and 2/3rds of an outfield (Milledge, Dukes...still not a Kearns fan). Getting there...

Posted by: Nats fan in NJ | July 2, 2008 7:50 AM | Report abuse

I'm so impressed with Balester already, though I'm sure he'll take his knocks eventually.

I'm way more excited about his callup than anyone else's. I'm glad you emphasized him in the gamer, Chico.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 2, 2008 8:09 AM | Report abuse

I'm still so pumped about last night's game. All those singles in a row in the 6th. Even if Belliard had hit an RBI single himself, it would have been something new, but a Grand Slam? Yowza.

Any other game in the last month or so would have been lost as soon as Florida caught up in the 7th, but they just kept battling.

I hope this new energy sticks.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 2, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, NatsNut. I thought the row of singles was actually more impressive than Belliard's shot, although it was certainly a blast.

That was players trying to keep something going and coming through for the most part. Of course, Belliard's homer was certainly icing on the cake (crucial, as it turned out). He's always a ridiculously hard swinger when he loads up to try and hit a homer, but I thought it was hilarious how he nearly swung himself out of his shoes last night. He even got mention on ESPN's Baseball Tonight show last night for nearly falling over on that shot.

Posted by: faNATic | July 2, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Balester is certainly an important part of the Plan, and that was refreshing.

We do have to keep in mind over time that other moves won't work out. Levale Speigner, for instance, gave up 6 runs in 1.2 innings of a game that Garrett Mock won anyway. Mike Hinckley, who nearly made the 2005 rotation out of Spring Training, continued his long march away from prospectdom with a 6-run 3.2 innings in a loss at Harrisburg.

As you can see at Nationals Farm Authority, many others had good days, but some will certainly disappoint along the way. It makes Baleter's first game all the more satisfying.

Posted by: Positively Half St | July 2, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

The new kid did look pretty good, didn't he? As was mentioned, he'll certainly take his lumps at some point, so let's not assume too much.

I'm very pleased with the offense. It's felt to me recently like the team is on a good (if painfully slow) progression: first, we got nobody on base; then we got men on base and couldn't score them. Now maybe we'll start actually scoring some runs.

Posted by: Scooter | July 2, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Flip goes 3 for 4 with 2 rbi; Pauly calls a nice game for the kid and hits a double; and they get hated on this blog during the game! These are our guys - show them some love! In fact, isn't the love of this team the best thing about this Journal?

Posted by: flynnie | July 2, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

"Flip goes 3 for 4 with 2 rbi;"

Yeah, but his lackadaisical throw home cost Balester a run, and he got himself thrown out at second on an ill-advised attempt to streach his single into a double.

I'm sorry, he's still FLOP to me.

Posted by: Twinbrook, MD | July 2, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Twinbrook, Charlie said it was a sensational over the shoulder catch, which you omit, with all his momentum going towards the outfield, which you omit, and it was the best throw home that could've been made. Some folks need a sin-eater, a scapegoat, and Flip is it, just like in some Lord of the Flies middle school. He gets no credit for anything good. Knock yourself out, but it does you no credit. That goes for anyone who calls him Flop or Lo Duca Plod, since he is edging up towards his natural average of .290 under adverse circumstances and should be getting encouragement here.

Posted by: flynnie | July 2, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

flynnie's right, it was a great over-the-shoulder catch. Twinbrook is right, he should have had a better plan for making sure the runner didn't tag up.

I'm just not sure who we think is going to take over as backup shortstop if we go through with the "Drop FLop" nonsense. If we have to be hateful, let's at least be sensibly hateful.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 2, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse


I am with you on most posts, and would like to be with you on Lopez. I was wondering, too, though. He has been thrown out on the bases 3 or 4 times in the last 3 or 4 games he's played, and not a single one of those plays was close. I thought this guy was supposed to be fast?

I would love to see him traded, but if he gets nailed on the base paths consistently, one of the best arguments for having him on the team just dissipates.

Posted by: Positively Half St | July 2, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

506- What a win! And we almost lost with a grand slam! In fact, the grand slam produced a score that would not have won it were it not for the later 3-run rally. I remember when Joe Torre hit a grand slam for the Braves and they still managed to lose 14-12 to the Cardinals, and thought for a while that I would once again be witness to such horror. What a game! What a win! I love this team and I love bawseball!

Posted by: flynnie | July 2, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

"I'm just not sure who we think is going to take over as backup shortstop if we go through with the "Drop FLop" nonsense."

THIS is what is keeping Lopez here, that he's the BACKUP SHORTSTOP? If that's the most he means to the team, the best he has to offer, then by all means he should be canned immediately. Lots of other guys with a lot more hustle in them are available to back up Guzman - who so far this year is the one Nat least likely to need a backup, knock on wood. Among them: Willie Harris, Kory Casto, Aaron Boone, Pete Orr (he can be brought back up if needed). These are all flexible guys who can play most any infield position if needed. Hell, the four of them could be thrown out there as an infield all by themselves. And I hear this Zimmerman guy may be coming back after the All Star break, too. Really, who needs Lopez in this mix? Remember, this is not long term we're talking, it's just for the rest of this season - which is exactly how long Lopez has any claim on the title of backup shortstop. I think they can take the risk of not having him here to fill that role.

Posted by: Ray King's Gut Feeling | July 2, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

From the Miami Herald:

• Though Washington's Paul LoDuca (on a one-year, $5 million deal and very available) would love a Marlins reunion, Florida hadn't inquired as of this week. Marlins executive Larry Beinfest, asked if he believes he needs to add another catcher, said: ''I don't know. We'll see. Matt Treanor has done a really nice job handling the staff. He has played a lot more than in the past; we've got to keep an eye on that. . . . [Quality catching] is very, very difficult'' to trade for.

Posted by: 756* | July 2, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

To honor Collin Balester's performance after his call-up, I thought I'd check to see how the other call-ups have done since their promotions in the minors:

1. C Luke Montz, to Class AAA Columbus
0-7, 1 run, 0 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K's

2. INF Ofilio Casto, to Columbus (sp - CASTRO)
3-7, 2 runs, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 0 K

3. 1B Bill Rhinehart, to Class AA Harrisburg
2-7, 0 runs, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 0 K

4. OF Edgardo Baez, to Harrisburg
0-9, 0 runs, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 7 K

5. 3B Leonard Davis, to Harrisburg
4-9, 2 runs, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K

6. OF Aaron Seuss, to Class A Potomac
2-5, 3 runs, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K

7. SS Daniel Lyons, to Potomac
4-5, 0 runs, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K

All in all, a pretty decent start for 5 of the 7 call-ups. Granted it's only been 1 or two games for each, but hey I can be hopeful, right?

Posted by: e | July 2, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I don't see how Lopez makes it to the end of the year here. There doesn't seem to be a single game in which he doesn't make at least one bone-headed play, and usually it's multiple bone-headed plays -- in addition to the points mentioned above, he STILL hasn't figured out how to cover second on a steal You take the throw in front of the bag, Felipe, not two steps behind it. Did you see the stare down Lo Duca was giving him?

Posted by: joebleux | July 2, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

RKGF, this is a terrifying proposition:

"Willie Harris, Kory Casto, Aaron Boone, Pete Orr"

I'll take Lopez at short, thank you. Zimm comes back, Lopez goes back to the bench. Get some new short stop in the off-season.

Kearns last night: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 2, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

[Quality catching] is very, very difficult'' to trade for.

No! No, it's not! Really. Call JimBo today and we might even be able to throw in a 2B to replace Uggla for you!

[even though they both made important contributions last night]

Posted by: lowcountry | July 2, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

It was a nice over the shoulder catch for Lopez. It was far from spectacular. But the fact is, he kept running (3-5 steps) and didn't immediately try to turn and hold Andino. It's another mental lapse by Lopez.

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | July 2, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Kearns!! My Kearnsy's coming back.

This makes me very happy, 506.


Kearns last night: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 2, 2008 10:24 AM

Posted by: NatsNut | July 2, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Didn't see it so my comments are suspect but after reading about the Lopez catch and the runner scoring......My question to all you folks is this: Why was the runner attempting to score? If it was such an easy play for Felipe to throw him out at home, what business did the guy have trying to score????

Posted by: pk | July 2, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I saw it on replay yesterday night. It didn't seem all that much of a stretch that the runner scored. That, IMO, would have been a difficult play to make.

Having said that, the single to an out at second was ill advised. It looked like the outfielder picked the ball up relatively quickly, I don't know what he was thinking.

Posted by: SF Fan | July 2, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"My question to all you folks is this: Why was the runner attempting to score? If it was such an easy play for Felipe to throw him out at home, what business did the guy have trying to score????"

The runner tagged and ultimately scored from third on a popup to shallow right field because Felipe Lopez paid him absolutely no mind after making the catch. The runner saw this and took off. Even though it might not have been possible for Lopez to make a throw that would have caught the runner, a look in the runner's direction or some other indication from Lopez that he was even aware of the runner might have been enough to keep him from trying to go home in the first place. As Carpenter or Sutton said on the broadcast, smart baserunning. They didn't elaborate on what was smart about it, but if they did they could have summed it up by saying that the baserunner had his head in the game while the second baseman once again didn't.

Posted by: Ray King's Gut Feeling | July 2, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I watched the play with Lopez, and it was a good catch, and he did everything possible to hold or throw out the runner... my only criticism (and even then, it is more of a question than a criticism) is whether Dukes could have made the play, which would have held the runner at third? I don't know.

Posted by: Wigi | July 2, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Lopez is a shiftless player who makes mistakes almost every game and doesn't really care because there are no reprucutions from management.

1. the popup to short right field that he caught - a 12 year old knows who is on base and that he MIGHT try to score on even a popup. You should always be on guard against that kind of thing. Lopez was obviously caught by surprise. It is no surprise that Florida knew that Lopez would not be alert and the coach send the runner home.

2. Lopez was thrown out at home because he took a long looping route to the plate from third base. Had he used proper technique he would have been safe. Ray Knight pointed that out after the game and showed the 121 foot route instead of 100 feet that he should have run.

3. Lopez was thrown out at second on a ball that hit the scoreboard? Had he hustled at all from home to first he would have been safe without a slide.

4. Lopez comes to the park a hour and a half after the rest of his team mates because of a "family issue". Does he have family members all over the country? It seems that this happened in Washington also.

This moron is a cancer in the clubhouse and should be gotten rid of as soon as possible. He is the worst example for the young players and I don't care if they get a draft choice for him.

Posted by: JT | July 2, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Late to post but that was an exciting game to listen to last night. My six-word gamer headline would be: Dude, you're gonna get a win.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 2, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Well, I'll say one thing, JT, we'll be reading you in the best of the blogs feature tomorrow in the Sports section!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 2, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

In the situation in the 5th inning, Lopez' first job is to make sure he gets the out. He has to do everything to insure he catches the ball, and going all out is what he felt he had to do.

If you watch the replay again, you will see him glance back over his left shoulder immediately after catching the ball. Ramierez was already going as you can tell by how quickly Lopez then turns to his right to try to make the throw.

His momentum going in the wrong direction, it required more than one step to position his body to make a credible (but off balance) throw to home. The throw was not on line, but was at least close enough to be caught by LoDuca limiting the other runners from advancing more than one base. (in hindsight, conceeding the run, and planting and throwing to the infield cut off man would have been the better play)

For an example of what usually happens when a player makes a throw with his legs not in the proper position, see the throw that Jacobs made to home plate on Casto's one hopper in the 7th. His hurried throw with his legs pointed only slightly up the third base line (from his having to field the ball to his right) opened the door for the Nats winning margin.

Lopez has played poorly for most of the season, but Ramierez' scoring last night is not an example of this. I found it interesting how harsh both Sutton and Carpenter were of that play.

Posted by: L Street | July 2, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

506, it would have to be the Reader's Digest version, though. ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 2, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

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