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The Opener

So long as Luis Ayala is Washington's eighth-inning man, the Nats won't have much need for Joel Hanrahan... or any other closer. Against the Giants, Ayala had his latest meltdown. He faced eight batters, allowed three hits and three runs, and transformed a one-run lead into a two-run deficit. Because of that, the Nats lost, 6-4. They've now dropped all six games this season to the Giants.

Why is Ayala struggling?

Recent conversations with pitching coach Randy St. Claire, as well as an interview with Ayala after this game, point to several factors.

* His mechanics are a mess. He's opening up his body too quickly during his wind-up, which leads his pitches to tail.

* He has no confidence. Most of all, he's lost confidence in his go-to pitch -- his sinker. He used to throw it four out of every five pitches. Now, he's using it just half the time.

* Neither St. Claire nor Manager Manny Acta think Ayala has been over-worked. They don't think he's injured, either. He can still hit 95 on the gun, both said.

Still, Ayala is bound to lose his spot as the eighth-inning set-up man. Right now, Saul Rivera appears far more qualified. Asked if he would re-think Ayala's role, Acta said, "Absolutely, because he hasn't been successful there."

Here is some more of what St. Claire said...

"He's been getting hurt on a lot of off-speed stuff. Until he gets his confidence back and stays aggressive with his best stuff, he's relying on secondary and third and fourth pitches to get guys out. He's got to be confident in his No. 1, which is his sinker. It's his best pitch. It always has been. And it probably always will be."

"I just know he's getting beat on his soft stuff. He's made a lot of mistakes up in the zone with his soft stuff. He's working behind hitters, he's walking guys, which you can't do in the eighth and ninth inning. You can't put guys on in the eighth and ninth inning. You just can't do it. They score. ... He's walked a ton of guys this year, more than he's ever done. And you know, he's got to be more aggressive."

"His arm strength is there, everything is there. He threw a big sinker past Rich Aurilia tonight that he had no chance on, a 94 mph sink. And then he's gonna throw a slider-hanging-something up over the middle of the plate? He lines it into the gap."

By Chico Harlan  |  July 24, 2008; 2:43 AM ET
 
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Next: Cordero's Future with Washington

Comments

lots of motion on the sinker, throw it, if you cant, lets see some new guys, chris schroder, if healthy, has all the makings of a great setup or closer

Posted by: love | July 24, 2008 3:02 AM | Report abuse

When a pitching coach notices that a pitcher's mechanics have gone awry what is the point in leaving him in the game? Manny, I am talking to you!

I can picture Manny shrugging his shoulders.

Oh, that's right, it's not like 9000 are staying up tonight to watch the eighth inning anyways.

Posted by: Dale | July 24, 2008 5:00 AM | Report abuse

It sounds like Ayala needs to watch my favorite self-help video, "Get Confident, Stupid!"

Sounds like this was a tough game to watch. I take heart in the fact that the best source of relief pitchers is failed starters. We're almost certain to have a few of those in the pipeline.

Posted by: Scooter | July 24, 2008 5:56 AM | Report abuse

Seconding the Chris Schroder suggestion.

Can anyone explain to me why he seems get fewer chances than some of the others?

Posted by: dcbatgirl | July 24, 2008 6:24 AM | Report abuse

Good to know it's not overuse. He needs a little Stuart Smalley treatment: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."

He used to be lights out...hopefully he can get back to that.

Posted by: Expos Fan | July 24, 2008 6:44 AM | Report abuse

I certainly don't know, dcbatperson, but I'll venture a couple of mildly informed guesses: 1) Schroder is 29 and therefore not really a prospect -- they'll take longer looks at the 25-year-olds, like Mock. 2) They're leaving him in the minors as much as possible so he can perfect his slider-hanging-something without worrying about big-league pressure to perform.

Posted by: Scooter | July 24, 2008 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Ayala hasn't been the same since the last WBC. Wonder who we'll lose to it this time around?

Posted by: NatsFanatics.com | July 24, 2008 7:06 AM | Report abuse

I am quickly beginning to hate the Giants. I already hate them in football, may as well hate them in baseball, too.

Thinking more about Bowden, I really do have to think that his time is up. That being said, he has made some moves that you have to tip the cap for: Flores, Dukes for Gibson and I'm a fan of the Rauch trade (though time will tell). Really, if somebody told us at the beginning of the season that we could get a 23 year-old AAA all-star second baseman for Rauch, considering the lack of middle infield depth in our system, we would have been thrilled.

CiL: I can't believe you didn't make any comments about the lack of coverage about Cordero's surgery in the WaPo. It kills me that we have to get a post from the Times in our blog to find out about it. Let me take the charge on this one for you: More coverage, please!!!

Posted by: Nats fan in NJ | July 24, 2008 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Tell me about it.

Chico, we know this isn't your fault. I just don't understand why you have to make such tough choices between covering multiple items that are all important.

I mean, the Times manages to run it all, and the Times is to journalism what Cats is to opera.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 24, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for your thoughts, Scooter. Right now, I'd still take Schroder over the similarly aged Ayala, Colome, or even Sanchez ...

Posted by: dcbatgirl | July 24, 2008 7:53 AM | Report abuse

We know you're trying Chico - great writing by the way - but the combination of football camp opening and a west coast swing makes the dead tree edition a real nats vacuum with my morning coffee on the commuter bus. At least a lot of you don't live in Prince William county -- the local newspaper here is a joke. They do cover the baby nats pretty well but rarely cover the nats. Anybody else have smaller newspapers that cover anything?

Posted by: masnstinks | July 24, 2008 7:59 AM | Report abuse

A trip to spring training or watching the Nationals during batting practice also reveals that Luis Ayala gives off the impression that he could care less about his job or performance. He doesn't seem to work on anything, he fools around and even keeps other players from getting in their work. I love Manny Acta as a manager, but I just don't get why Ayala gets away with everything he does, and continues to come in to blow close ballgames. Does Ayala have photos of Acta in a compromising position?

Posted by: Ray | July 24, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Can someone explain to me why coaches have to beg pitchers to throw their best pitch? This seems to be an ongoing story. Can some baseball knowledgeable person explain this to me?

Posted by: Ed | July 24, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Haven't seen anything in the Post yet either about the Nats' decision to non-tender Cordero next year. It was announced by Bowden on Sports Talk 980 yesterday afternoon and confirmed in an article by Ladson on MLB.com late last night. Not only was the Post scooped on this story, they were scooped twice on it!

Also, I saw questions raised on a few blogs over the weekend asking "Where is Rauch?" Apparently he was nowhere to be seen in the bullpen at at least one of the games in Atlanta, maybe more. A beat reporter in Atlanta with the team I would think would notice things like that and start inquiring as to what was going on. Could have been a precursor to the trade, dontcha know. Instead, the Post was one of the last media outlets to report the trade.

According to Dan Steinberg, the Post spends tons of money sending its reporter around the country to follow the Nats. He basically implied that they spend more money to produce their piddly Nats coverage than they do producing their 24/7 saturation coverage of the Zornskins. Just goes to show that payroll is not a good measure of whether or not you're gonna produce a winner, I'd say.

Posted by: Ray King's Gut Feeling | July 24, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

As one of the 9000 watching ---(does the 9000 figure hold for west coast games?) i heard Sutton argue against removing Ballester after 5 innings. I agree - He seemed to be going well and i don't think his pitch count was that high..Why does Manny always seem to coddle these young pitchers...night after night i see our guys taken out after 5 while the opposition SP goes 7. ..Maybe if we could have gotten another inning (or 2) from our starter, we would not have to rely on guys like Ayala when he is obviously struggling??

Posted by: pk | July 24, 2008 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I don't think managers (except maybe Tony LaRusa) call pitches from the dugout. You can give instructions, etc, but the pitcher is responsible for the pitches he throws. As much as we talk about the catcher "calling" a good game, it's close to the relationship between a golfer and his caddy. You can give advice, offer him the club you think is best, but at the end it's the golfer who take the swing and is solely responsible for the results of their play. Catchers have more say because they aren't employees of the pitcher, and I'll be the conversations between veteran catchers and rookie pitchers sound almost the opposite of what I described, but in the end it's still the pitchers decision what to throw.

Posted by: estuartj | July 24, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm soliciting suggestions for Luis "Gas Can" Ayala's entrance music - a few thoughts:

+ "Fire" by the Ohio Players;

+ "Disco Inferno" by the Trampps;

+ "Burning Down the House" by the Talking Heads;

Other suggestions?

Posted by: Not really the Nats PA guy | July 24, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Did they really say he throws 95? When? I don't think I've ever seen him throw that hard.

I wish people would stop blaming the WBC for his problems. With the condition his arm was in, and with as many innings and games as he had had, whether he went to the WBC or not, his arm was going to blow out. Do you REALLY think that this training staff would've been able to prevent that?

Posted by: Chris | July 24, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Not sure about Ayala's song, but whoever is suckered into bailing him out needs to have "we didn't start the fire" playing.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 24, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

It's amazing how the cause of any problem can so perfectly align with one's standing grudge against management, isn't it?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 24, 2008 9:04 AM | Report abuse

With the Rauch-EBoni trade rehash starting to wear down to a low rumble, how about a little hot (ok, tepid) stove talk?

Here are the players I think are at least nominally "on the block", in no paticular order;
LoDuca
Lopez
Redding
Perez

I don't like the idea of trading Redding, he is under team control for several years and as much as I don't mind the trading of Rauch, I don't have faith in JimBow's ability to get proper return for him.

Perez I like, but would like to see him go to make room in the rotation for Mock or Clippard. Not sure what the market is for lefty starters right now, but if someone needs a #3-esque lefty starter we should be able to get a AA and low-A prospect in return (think VanAllen and Stephen King).

Lopez would be the smarters move for so many reasons, I can't imagine who would want him, but if someone needs MI depth and we were willing to pick up some proportion of his remaining salary then I could see us getting a A level prospect in return (think Seuss or Cole Kimball).

LoDuca is the most complex and interesting. Is he a Catcher or a Utility Guy/PH? He's lighting it up lately and the Yankees need a Catcher (though LoDuca probaby isn't an improvement) and he's been throug the NY Press mill. Maybe someone out there needs a veteran leader (we can argue that quality) with a quality (but not impact) bat to fill a whole or add depth for a pennant or WC run.

For the off-season I also see Kearns, Johnson, Young, Belliard and maybe a Redding and Bergmann on the block at the GM's meeting.

Posted by: MO Nats Fan | July 24, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Chris is right.....Ayala does not and never did hit 95MPH. If management does not want to get blame for things, management should re-invent the truth.

Looking at MO Nats Fan's list of winter meetings players to be traded........what could be possible get back for that list of overpaid, under performing, injury prone players.....unless Jimbo gets fired and picks up with another team....that could work.......

Posted by: JayB | July 24, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

This goes back to questions I have been asking about "Gasoline Alley" Ayala for the past two months - why is Manny so obstinate about using him in late and close situations when it's obvious that he's not doing the job? Is Manny so rigid in his relievers' "roles" that he would rather keep using his "fireman" in that role while seeing winnable games get away instead of moving him into a new role until he (hopefully) gets himself together?

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 24, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Another point about their comments:

They're complaining that he's not throwing the sinker enough. Well, he's throwing it about the same rate as last year -- when he did have some success. It's down from where he was pre-TJ, but that alone can't explain it.

It's pretty clear from the uptick in walks as well as from watching him pitch that he's lost a bit of command. He doesn't really control where the pitches are going as well as he did before. Last night, he threw a couple pitches that just sort of spun there up near the strike zone seemingly without purpose.

Posted by: Chris | July 24, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

JayB, If we could trade Johnson or Young and we non-tender Lopez we'd have plenty of room on the roster and the payroll to go after Texiera.

If Kearns finishes as well this year as he did last year there could be some real value in return for him.

Redding could be a hot commodity given the limited options for ML SP, especially since he's still cheap, and under team control, I could certainly see us getting a Jordan Zimmermann and Bill Rhinehart type of return for him.

Posted by: MO Nats Fan | July 24, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Just read Ladson's story about the Nats non-tendering Cordero. JimBow sure maximized return out of that asset didn't he? Didn't trade Cordero when his value was high, now he's on the verge of being released for nothing unless he signs a non-guaranteed contract. BTW- MASN is actually showing a replay of the Nats game this morning.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 24, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

If we trade Kearns in the off-season then Dukes would move to RF and we would once again see the saga of WMP playing Left Field.

I think WMP could be do for a big correction with the bat, but unless he's going to hit like Adam Dunn or Manny Ramirez he'll still be a net negative because of his defense.

Personally I'm for playing out Kearns contract until Michael Burgess is ready in 2011.

Posted by: estuartj | July 24, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I'm afraid I don't understand fans contradicting the pitching coach's version of events. Maybe I'm naive, but if Randy says he's not throwing his sinker as much, I believe him.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 24, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Hold on a second. While I'm not ready to blame the WBC for his problems now, I don't know how you can say that the WBC had nothing to do with him blowing out his elbow. Ayala had *already had* elbow surgery in the offseason before pitching in the WBC, and the Nats pleaded with him not to participate in the WBC because they wanted him to rehab his arm more gradually. The Nats even made an official appeal with MLB to prevent him from playing. He played, and blew out the elbow and missed the entire year. Maybe it would have happened anyway--but since his arm had already been operated on, I'd like to think that with the proper rehab routine it wouldn't have happened. I hear your point about the Nats' training staff though, it's not like surgery helped Patterson or Hill.

* * * * *

I wish people would stop blaming the WBC for his problems. With the condition his arm was in, and with as many innings and games as he had had, whether he went to the WBC or not, his arm was going to blow out. Do you REALLY think that this training staff would've been able to prevent that?

Posted by: Chris | July 24, 2008 8:59 AM

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 24, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

His elbow has been reconstructed so many times, he should have a punch card with Dr Andrews.

Posted by: 756* | July 24, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

"The Nats even made an official appeal with MLB to prevent him from playing."

Don't teams have the final say in whether their players are in the WBC? They can pull anyone out of the winter leagues willy nilly.

Posted by: 756* | July 24, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Hey 756*, I saw your posts about Cordero from late last night. I guess I missed the follow-up story from when they actually performed the surgery a couple weeks ago (which wasn't in The Post) that were more optimistic about his recovery time than the initial stories. Anyway, that's great that they say Spring Training, but I'm still not holding my breath.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 24, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

[quote=Chris]They're complaining that he's not throwing the sinker enough. Well, he's throwing it about the same rate as last year -- when he did have some success. It's down from where he was pre-TJ, but that alone can't explain it.[/quote]

i'm with 506 on this. chris, do you have a source for stats showing how much he's throwing the sinker? if you're calling it from observation, my guess is randy has a better handle on how many he's throwing, since there's always someone tracking every pitch that's thrown in every game.

Posted by: 231 | July 24, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

No, they didn't, which was one of the things that made it controversial. Here's what Barry reported at the time when Ayala blew out his elbow:

"Nationals President Tony Tavares said the club had repeatedly communicated its concerns about Ayala to officials from the Mexican team, the WBC and Major League Baseball, as well as to Ayala. An official appeal to prevent Ayala, 28, from playing was denied because medical reports showed that he was on pace to recover for the season."

* * * * *

Don't teams have the final say in whether their players are in the WBC? They can pull anyone out of the winter leagues willy nilly.

Posted by: 756* | July 24, 2008 9:47 AM

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 24, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Ayala's pre-WBC surgery was to remove a bone spur. That's not a major (relatively) surgery. Sure, the WBC probably didn't help, but the bone spur didn't cause the blowout of the elbow. That's much more likely related to the workload he had had over the previous few years. The ligament probably would've snapped whether he was pitching in Mexico or in Washington.

______

"I'm afraid I don't understand fans contradicting the pitching coach's version of events. Maybe I'm naive, but if Randy says he's not throwing his sinker as much, I believe him."

Sure. You can take what he says at face value, or you can look at data. Go to fangraphs.com and type in his name. You can see that the percentage of fastballs he's thrown the last two years is virtually unchanged, and that their average velocity is nowhere near 95.

Posted by: Chris | July 24, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

This data looks fairly legit, though I'm still inclined to take Randy's word. I should point out, the complaint Randy had was his slider, not his fastball.

I think (and I hate saying this) that Sutton hit the nail on his head when he observes that Ayala's slider no longer moves like it used to. Instead of turning on two planes, it sticks to just one now, which makes it easy to hit.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 24, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

"...which makes it easy to hit."

In addition to making it not really a slider...

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 24, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

RE: Ayala's entrance music

How about "Smoke on the Water"?

Posted by: Brewer | July 24, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

That's the point I was making above. He doesn't have command. He's not wild like Hanrahan was, throwing the ball all over the place, but he doesn't have the ability to nail the exact spots he wants with the pitches. Command often comes back slowly from TJ surgery. Maybe he's still recovering and some of his success from last year was just a bit fluky.

"This data looks fairly legit"
It's data right from mlb.com, so...

Posted by: Chris | July 24, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Again, If the Nats Management wants to earn fans they need to be crediable. Ayala never had a 95 MPH fastball post 2006 (I forget 2005 but I doubt it very much even then).

Playing Lopez just makes them look stupid and weak. Acta is close to losing control of the team....does he even care anymore. I pointed out when the must lose now "plan" was put forth, that Acta would not make it through and that is looking correct now. He does not even try to win games anymore. Playing Ayala in the 8th is just the latest example. Starting Estrada is recent example.

Is Acta starting to make his case for the Mets job by getting fired here?

Posted by: JayB | July 24, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Chico - Have you inquired about the Nats talking to they Yankees about dealing Estrada or LoDuca?

Yanks need catching, Nats certainly have a ton of it. LoDuca would easily fit into their veteran laden clubhouse and has plenty of playoff experience.

Posted by: Ryan | July 24, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

"It's data right from mlb.com"

That's what introduces the "fairly" part into the equation....

I agree with you entirely on the command issue. I have to assume it's either mental or another injury, because he was pretty solid at the beginning of this season, too.

Things didn't start really falling apart for him until May.

Also, look at this breakdown of opponent batting averages by difference in runs:

>4: .211
w/n 4: .298
w/n 3: .312
w/n 2: .312
w/n 1: .381
tie: .303

Makes you wish he was pitching against our batters, eh?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 24, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for your thoughts, Scooter. Right now, I'd still take Schroder over the similarly aged Ayala, Colome, or even Sanchez ...

Posted by: dcbatgirl | July 24, 2008 7:53 AM
+++++++++++++++++++++++

Unless the Nats' website is behind the times, Sanches ain't up right now. Ayala pitched well for long enough to deserve some breaks, while Schroder's just had the one good season. Colome? Oy. Me, I'd be fine with him going away; I suspect he's with us this year because of that "options" thing that other people understand much better than I. If Schroder's out of options next year, maybe they'll ditch Jesus.

Posted by: Scooter | July 24, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

JayB, easy on the hyper frustrations there buddy.

You have to understand baseball as a business to understand why those guys are playing. First of all, forget about winning in 2008 okay? So, when you move past that, you look to win in 2009 or 2010 and beyond. So you ask, what can we do today to help those goals? The answer is, try and get something in return for players who won't be a part of that. Well, you can't get something in return for guys who aren't playing. So the Nats play Lopez, LoDuca, Estrada, etc, to try and up their value from negative zero to at least even.

So just chill out.

And as for Acta "losing the clubhouse"...just stop that nonsense. How do you possibly make that claim? Do you talk to the players? Are you in the clubhouse? Have you ever played baseball past middle school or high school?

The theatrics from fans like you need to stop. I like to pass it off to being in a city that didn't have baseball for 33 years has made all of you ignorant to the way baseball works, but my goodness, it is season 4 of having baseball now. How steep is this city's learning curve?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

As one of the 9000 watching ---(does the 9000 figure hold for west coast games?) i heard Sutton argue against removing Ballester after 5 innings. I agree - He seemed to be going well and i don't think his pitch count was that high..Why does Manny always seem to coddle these young pitchers...night after night i see our guys taken out after 5 while the opposition SP goes 7. ..Maybe if we could have gotten another inning (or 2) from our starter, we would not have to rely on guys like Ayala when he is obviously struggling??

Posted by: pk | July 24, 2008 8:23 AM

If I am not mistaken, but didn't Johnny Estrada give the Nats the lead with a PH single? Meaning Manny's move worked.

And better to baby young arms that to go all Dusty Baker on them.

More to the point is: Why is Ayala pitching in any kind of high leverage situation? Clearly, R St.C has given a lot of thought to why Ayala's hasn't been effective . . . so why is he used in key situations? It's not like he's a young guy who need to be shown he can be trusted in key situations.

Posted by: Gal Revels in Pee | July 24, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Oops, forgot to put my name on my last post about the learning curve thing. That was me.

Posted by: Ryan | July 24, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

For what its worth, my favorite part of the Ayala discussion so far has been:

...
"I think (and I hate saying this) that Sutton hit the nail on his head"
...
Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 24, 2008 10:16 AM

The natural question is: whose head? Because I wouldn't mind if it were Sutton's or Ayala's at this point.

Posted by: faNATic | July 24, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Chico,

This post is off-topic, but I hope it spurs you into action.

You commented, in response to the MLB TV ratings numbers, that you had no reason to doubt the numbers. I was surprised, because the numbers are so obviously out in left field that they deserve some further investigation. The Nats being the only team that has fewer TV viewers than attendees should be enough to make anyone's manipulation sensors go into high gear. Add to that the fact that Nats' chief protaganist, Angelos, owns the Nats' TV rights, and I thought someone would be all over this.

Three theories have floated around the blogospehere, but to my knowledge no journalist in town has even looked at this.

The theories are:

1. MASN counted the Os v. Nats games in the Os column.

2. Nielsen counted all MASN2 games as Nats' games and all MASN games as Os games.

3. The My20 games, which are weekend games, were not included.

Some reporting on this would be worthwhile. Only 9,000 viewers in a metro area of 5 million plus is almost mathematically impossible.

Thanks Chico

Posted by: C'ville Nat | July 24, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gal Revels in Pee -- Ayala has continued to be used despite his struggles for the very reason that Acta has stated in the past - veteran guys go through struggles like this and very often they work themselves out of it by pitching and pitching and pitching.

The theory is your team takes a few lumps while the key member of the pitching staff struggles, but in the long term the team is better off for it.

Obviously they are now realizing that Ayala is not going to just work himself out of this funk no matter how much they keep throwing him out there, so they will have to adjust.

And before you say it, sending a veteran like Ayala down to the minors to work it out is just something you don't really do. You could do it, but it'd be a pretty big insult to a guy who has clearly shown he can pitch at this level, albeit not for a while now.

Posted by: Ryan | July 24, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

One of the most baffling things to me is when a manager leaves a reliever in for way too long. Ayala had been struggling a lot, as soon as a couple of guys got on he should have been taken out. You don't wait until he blows the game. Have another guy warming up so if it is another off night for Ayala you have the next guy ready to come into the game BEFORE you are behind.

Posted by: dw | July 24, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

"And before you say it, sending a veteran like Ayala down to the minors to work it out is just something you don't really do. You could do it, but it'd be a pretty big insult to a guy who has clearly shown he can pitch at this level, albeit not for a while now."

That didn't stop the Tigers from sending Dontrelle Willis down, did it? The real reason Ayala hasn't been sent down to work things out is because they can't just send him down to the minors willy-nilly. He's out of options, so they'd have to get him through waivers to send him down. As bad as he's been lately, some other team would still surely claim him if they put him on waivers.

Posted by: Ray King's Gut Feeling | July 24, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Ayala in the 8th, I'm not sure how many options they have. Obviously they are now going to use Rivera as the 8th inning set-up man, but that just allows Ayala to Open the game in the 7th.

Either we need to play the guy in hopes he can turn it around or we need to DFA him. I don't think we're ready to do that just yet, but if we can use him in garbage time until he straightens himself out that would be great, but I'm not sure who else will pick up that slack or if they'll do any better (though it would be tough to do worse...).

Posted by: estuartj | July 24, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Ryan, have you ever lived in a city that had baseball for the past 33 (or 100) years? If you have, then you would know that comments from fans like JayB are pretty commonplace in such cities and, in my opinion, a good thing for healthy debate, especially when the home team has the worst record in baseball. On the other hand, it doesn't seem to me that calling other fans "ignorant" or telling them that their comments "need to stop" is very healthy for debate. If you don't want to engage in the issues that JayB raised, then don't. But I don't see how issues like Acta's management of the team are for some reason off limits to everyone.

* * * * *

"And as for Acta "losing the clubhouse"...just stop that nonsense. How do you possibly make that claim? Do you talk to the players? Are you in the clubhouse? Have you ever played baseball past middle school or high school?

The theatrics from fans like you need to stop. I like to pass it off to being in a city that didn't have baseball for 33 years has made all of you ignorant to the way baseball works, but my goodness, it is season 4 of having baseball now. How steep is this city's learning curve?"

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 24, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

thanks for pointing out the source, chris. i hadn't seen that before.

[quote]It's data right from mlb.com, so...[/quote]

actually, according to the site you linked, it's not from mlb.com.

"All major league baseball data including pitch type, velocity, and play-by-play data provided by Baseball Info Solutions."

Posted by: 231 | July 24, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Got me there!

I know they have spotters watching each game to record fielding plays. I'm not sure if they do their own speed readings or if they just take it from the mlb data. (If you've used mlb's game tracker, you see that they record the speed, location, and type of every pitch thrown)

Posted by: Chris | July 24, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Sweet, let's have some fun...

First to Coverage is lacking -- all I'm trying to do is show people that ANY debate is not a GOOD debate. You have to ask the right questions. To blindly say Acta is close to losing the clubhouse is simply based in no truth and is pure speculation from someone who has no true knowledge of the real situation in the clubhouse. Therefore it is not a useful comment. Debating how Acta manages the team on the field and in the games that we as fans are able to watch is of course always up for some monday morning quarterbacking.

Second to Ray King's Gut Feeling -- I agree with what you say and I understand the lack of Ayala's options. But don't confuse that with Dontrelle. I promise you Dombrowski (Detroit's GM) and/or Leyland approached Willis and said, "What do you think of this?" I'd bet my house on it.

Who's next? :)

Posted by: Ryan | July 24, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Darn it, I have to go into a two hour meeting. Have fun all. I'll check in later to see if I keep getting bashed for being right.

Posted by: Ryan | July 24, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if they let Ayala go once Wagner is ready to return?

Posted by: Pablo | July 24, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

@Ryan,

Yup I have played more than that....a lot more....so yes I know when managers play people based on politics it hurts the team moral in a very big way. I also have eyes and can see a dead team night after night, just going through the motions for oh say 85% of the games this year.

I can also say that for most all of this season and last I could write you a computer program that could duplicated Acta's use of the bull pen without ever using the data available to him. He is just phoning it in....why?

Posted by: JayB | July 24, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

More thoughts on the potential FA/Trade market for '09...

If we do indeed Non-Tender Felipe Lopez and Chad Cordero that saves us about $14-15 million in projected payroll for '09 (5-6 for FLop and about 9 for Cordero?). If we can unload DY or NJ too that's over $20mil, add in a normal revenue/payroll increase and that's over $25million that's enough to go for a top notch FA like Sabathia or Texiera.

Posted by: MO Nats Fan | July 24, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

"that's enough to go for a top notch FA like Sabathia or Texiera."

[chortles]

Posted by: Fake Stan Kasten | July 24, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

@Posted by: MO Nats Fan | July 24, 2008 11:01 AM

Your new around here right? Not a chance in this world Nats go after a big name FA. Just none.

Posted by: JayB | July 24, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if they let Ayala go once Wagner is ready to return?

Posted by: Pablo | July 24, 2008 10:56 AM
+++++++++++++++++++++

Pablo, I'm fairly certain that the Nats have other relievers who have options and who haven't posted an ERA+ over 130 in each of their four seasons in Major League Baseball.

So, no.

Posted by: Scooter | July 24, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

This is from Ken Ronethal's blog, curtesy of MLBTR;

"The Dodgers, needing a shortstop and late-inning reliever, talked with the Nationals about both Cristian Guzman and Jon Rauch, but wouldn't part with Class AA shortstop Ivan DeJesus Jr. in a deal for Guzman, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions. The Nats instead signed Guzman to a two-year, $16 million extension and completed the Rauch-for-Bonifacio deal with the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers' principal NL West rival . . .

The A's considered acquiring Bonifacio as part of their package for Haren last offseason, but instead opted for first baseman Chris Carter, who has a .945 OPS for High A Stockton at age 21. The A's, like the Diamondbacks, questioned whether Bonifacio would hit enough to play every day in the majors."

Posted by: estuartj | July 24, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Ayala does not get canned, Ayala gets moved to a less stress role.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 24, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Oh and Ryan,

Lots of examples of established Vets going to minors, just need to pay attention. Phils Myers just got back from minors where he worked on things, not a rehab.

Oh but what do I know right?

Posted by: JayB | July 24, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

one thing i found really fascinating about last nights game, in the 9th inning with 1 out and kearns up, representing the tying run, instead of getting excited, carpenter and sutton acted as if the game was over, saying something like you should cut up the tape from this game.

then carpenter finally mentioned that austin ks did represent the tying run. they had totally given up. i was really surprised. even after kearns got out and flores was drilled to put men on 1st and second, they never really acted like the nats were gonna come back.

this was in great contrast to the os game tuesday night when down by 3 in the 9th and one out, markakis doubled. palmer and whats his name got downright giddy saying here come the os. they really believed the os were gonna tie the game. and they were down by 3.
and sure enough the os scored a run and loaded the bases before hernandez popped out.

i just found the difference in the attitude of the announcers amazing. as soon as the giants scored twice in the 8th last night, carpenter and sutton simply gave up.

Posted by: dk | July 24, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

JayB & Fake Stan Kasten,
I'm not so sure they won't make a FA splash this year. ASSUMING that the Lerner's are NOT cheap, just unwilling to throw money at a problem THEN....

Sabathia and Texiera a great fits, both are relatively young (old for this team!) and even if signed to "long" contracts would still likely be in their prime through the life of the contract.

Also, our 1st round draft pick is protected so there is little penalty for being aggressive. Finally, either player would fill a position of need (assuming something must be done with NJ or DY), especially Sabathia because you can NEVER have too much starting pitching.

Looking at last years FA market, especially OFers (which seemed our top target) there are very real and Non-Financial reasons for the non-signings. Assume you feel Rowand was over rated after playing in the Philly band box, Andrew Jones was not going to bounce back (also possible bad blood between Kasten and Boras over his previous contract in Atlanta) and that Torii Hunter was only willing to sign with a contender.

Posted by: MO Nats Fan | July 24, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Ryan, JayB can speak for himself, (as he is doing), but I think there are lots of things he could point to to argue that Acta is close to losing the team. He's not saying it "blindly"--but we don't need to write essays to make a point on a frickin baseball blog. Only in DC would someone demand that. Perhaps you have lived here for too long and never in another city that has had baseball for the past 37 years?

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 24, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Mo.....I completely agree they should sign them both.....just saying, what they should do, could do and do do (no pun intended but....) is different...they all was do the do do (pun intended this time).

Posted by: JayB | July 24, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

[adds sugar and powder to pitcher full of water]

Posted by: Fake Stan Kasten | July 24, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Who is going to be competing for Teix this off-season? Can someone make a list of people who might need first basemen?

Also, the Acta and the team argument is not going to be terribly interesting, just warning you now. All either side will have is a hypothesis, perhaps based on observations, but not on any first-hand observation, just what the TV cuts to or you can see through the binoculars, or what you can infer from behavior.

And none of that is strong enough to persuade anyone other than someone who already believes.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 24, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

506, In New York the fans are already fitting Tex for pinstripes. They have a lot of $ coming off the books and will need a first baseman. O's are also in the discussion especially because he is from Annapolis. Mets should be in the hunt too. There may be others but that's 3 off the top of my head.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 24, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

JayB, I'm also not saying they will succeed in signing either player, but I believe they will try and with Cordero, Lopez and either DY or NJ gone next year they would have the money to make a legitimate run at either.

That said would either be willing to come to DC even if we make an above market offer (if such a thing is really possible in today's FA market. How much above the Yankees would we have to offer Texiera to bring him here? How much above Boston would we have to go to get Sabathia? I don't know, but the answer is likely more money you can shake a stick at, plus the stick!

Posted by: MO Nats Fan | July 24, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

to Gal reveling in p

yes estrada ph the go ahead run but is that the point? there was no curly W in the books last night if I'm not mistaken, so i cant really agree that the move "worked".

It was quite clear from the tv images in the dugout, that ballester was done for the game as soon as he went into the dugout...long before the rally even got started.

so the question remains -
does Manny baby these guys too much?

Posted by: pk | July 24, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Its time to DFA Ayala and give someone at columbus a try. Same with Colome. Why continue to trot out middle relievers with ERAs above 5.50 and whips in the 1.50-1.60 range?? Don't they know what they're gonna get by now? Blown save, lost lead in the 7th or 8th and another freaking loss.

Bringing up Mock to work out of the bullpen was a great start. Lets continue the trend and bring up more guys. The season is lost.

Posted by: Sec131 | July 24, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"Ryan, JayB can speak for himself, (as he is doing), but I think there are lots of things he could point to to argue that Acta is close to losing the team. He's not saying it 'blindly'--"

Yeah, but he's been saying it for two seasons now, as he admitted himself just upthread a bit. So this Acta, who is "close to losing the team" according to JayB, received serious consideration for Manager of the Year last year and had his first option year picked up by the FO after last season. I guess the Nats FO and the MOTY voters don't agree with JayB that Manny Acta is close to losing the team, huh?

JayB has been banging the same drum for two seasons now. I don't begrudge him the right to bang it, but a lot of the comments he's banging out are getting kind of old, aren't they?

Posted by: Ray King's Gut Feeling | July 24, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I have a feeling Teixiera is going to be like bidding on Atlantic Avenue in Monopoly when you're down. You know you're not going to win, in fact you might not want to, but drive the price up as high as you can.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 24, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

RKGF, maybe JayB should just start posting under a different name and then that would solve your complaint, no? ;-)

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 24, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I think, Gut Feeling, that JayB is proposing an equation for team support of its manager over time with the limit as "lost support", thus it makes sense why it is always approaching the end point, but never quite reaches it.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 24, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

@Ray King's Gut Feeling | July 24, 2008 11:51 AM

OR are they becoming more clear to you all.....open your eyes and look at the team, the record, the PR mess, the TV ratings, Jimbo's handling of Chad in the Media, the unsigned draft picks, Detwilier, old Reds that stiff suck....is it possible I was right over two years ago. Losing on purpose is never a good PLAN.

Posted by: JayB | July 24, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Random items:

to Ed: almost all of the managers now call pitches (not just Tony L). There are two reasons. First and foremost, it's a control thing. Second, this actually starts in about Jr. High, when pitchers begin to actually throw different pitches. Catchers seldom develop the skill set needed to call a whole game, anymore. Sure, for someone who has been around both minors and majors for a decade, most managers will trust them, but many still want to retain control.

Calling the game is and always has been advisory on the part of the catcher or whoever. The pitcher, of course, always has the final word. The truly smart pitchers (I know that were talking oxymoron here) will simply do what they are told. For the rest, well, you need to understand what your dealing with.

As to the TV thing. I am also dubious of the 9,000 number, for a lot of reasons. That having been said, I found myself switching between Nats and MLB on HD. That service was free for about a week, as they try to attract more customers. It was successful. Next year I'm going to pop for the package. My point is that, going from the MASN broadcast to the HD was really a wake up. The MASN broadcast was, comparatively, unwatchable. I am more convinced than ever that what is driving HD is, in many cases, sports fans. The lack of HD absolutely has to be informing a lot of decisions, particularly in a community with a large number of imports.

Posted by: Catcher50 | July 24, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

"i just found the difference in the attitude of the announcers amazing. as soon as the giants scored twice in the 8th last night, carpenter and sutton simply gave up."

Yeah, if only we had your optimism.

Posted by: Not Really Bob and Don | July 24, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Changing subjects: Does anybody else think Bowden made his non-tender announcement to BOOST my trade value?

Before the announcement, it was zero.

After, maybe someone who's interested in getting me cheap goes ahead and flips a piece to the Nats for the right to low-ball me in contract talks.

Posted by: Not Really Chad Cordero | July 24, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

@Not Really Chad Cordero - You cannot trade someone on the DL

Posted by: Not Really Major League Rules | July 24, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Plus, NR Chief, you have the right to be a free agent if the team that controls you doesn't tender you a contract--at least 80% of your 08 salary by the Dec.tender deadline. Doesn't matter if that's the Nats or someone else. We take better care of you than that in collective bargaining, why would we create a system where a team had the right to lowball you?

Posted by: NR MLBPA | July 24, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"i just found the difference in the attitude of the announcers amazing. as soon as the giants scored twice in the 8th last night, carpenter and sutton simply gave up."

Yeah, if only we had your optimism.
Posted by: Not Really Bob and Don | July 24, 2008 12:02 PM

wow what a difference a day makes. yesterday im hammered for being the ultimate pessimist and today im lauded for being a ray of shining light optimist.

just keepin it real.

Posted by: dk | July 24, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

The Rauch trade, the decision to non-tender Cordero, and Ayala's protracted implosion really underscore a major issue for 2009: the bullpen.

We can spend hours talking about which position players or starters the team could acquire, and it's a fun discussion to have. But there's a lot of conjecture involved, and much is based on the health of guys like Johnson, Young, and Pena.

But the bullpen - considered the team's strength going into this season - will likely be assembled almost entirely out of players already in the system.

So, given what we've seen this year, how does next year's bullpen shake out? Is Hanrahan the closer? Who sets up? If healthy, would you consider using Chico as a LOOGY who could double as a long reliever? If not, who's the lefty?

Consider some of the following players, in alphabetical order: Ayala, Chico, Clippard, Colome, Cordero, Hanrahan, Manning, Martis, Mock, O'Connor, Sanches, Schroder, Shell, Speigner, Wagner, Zinicola

How would you piece it together if they carry six relievers? Seven? Heck, eight?

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 24, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

dk, allow me to introduce myself...

Posted by: sarcasm | July 24, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I forgot Rivera, for what it's worth.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 24, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

When a team is loosing the season feels twice as long, especially for the announcers who are just hired guns.

Manny is not loosing control of the team. He was never in charge of who is playing. The Nats lineup is being controlled by the GM. The players all know this. They know Acta is not the boss. I feel for Manny. He deserves better.

This team is like a low A minor league team. It is all about player development and showcasing aging players to get some more minor league players. The only problem is it seems Mike Rizzo's old team, Arizona, is the only team willing to do any dealing with the Nat's. This is the biggest knock on our GM and could be his downfall.

Posted by: QFT | July 24, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

...unless Arizona is the only team Mike Rizzo wants players from...

Posted by: Devil's Advocate | July 24, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

"RKGF, maybe JayB should just start posting under a different name and then that would solve your complaint, no? ;-)"

That could never happen. If JayB wanted to post under a different name, he'd first have to train himself to spell it consistently. That process would take years. Even more years than it will take Manny Acta to lose the team at the glacial rate he seems to be doing that in the opinion of nearly everybody but JayB.

Posted by: Ray King's Gut Feeling | July 24, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey, keep global warming out of this.

Posted by: Al Gore | July 24, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

dk, allow me to introduce myself...
Posted by: sarcasm | July 24, 2008 12:27 PM

r u a man of wealth and taste?

Posted by: dk | July 24, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Manning, O'Connor, Sanches, Schroder, Shell, Wagner, Zinicola

Hanrahan - Closer (until further notice)
Rivera - Setup guy until his arm finally falls off from overuse
Mock, Shell & either Zinicola or Wagner - fungible RHRPs
Manning - Until a better option arises, the LHRP

Martis & Clippard - Probably still considered starters
Chico & Cordero - Will likely not be ready for the start of 2009
Ayala, Sanches, Colome, O'Connor, Schroder & Speigner - Looking for a new home

Posted by: Brian | July 24, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

JiMpls,

Here's my 6, based on the cups of coffee that we've seen, as well as some of the other wild cards/players.

Clippard (long relief)
Mock (long relief)
Wagner (7th/8th)
Rivera (7th/8th)
Hanrahan (setup/closer)
Schroder (setup/closer)

I think both Clippard and Mock are destined for long relief roles in terms of their career, especially if they stick around here. We simply have better starting pitching prospects on the way.

If we keep a 7th, then I vote Manning as the LOOGY. He gets hit pretty hard occasionally, as all pitchers do, but I actually like his moxie in general.

If we keep an 8th, then I vote Ayala/Colome, depending on who looks better in spring training. Either will add a bit of a veteran presence (although, to be honest, I'm not quite sure what that presence would be). Not that I think that we'll get to eight.

Posted by: faNATic | July 24, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

It was nice to see FLOP hustle off the field yesterday after being caught stealing. The only problem...looks like he was running harder off the field than to second base.

I'm hoping Felipe can string together a few hits so Sutton can vapidly declare that he's "figured out his swing."

re: Carp and Sutton
I think that's a sign that they are tired of spewing pure garbage for 8 innings straight.

Posted by: 756* | July 24, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Brian,

That looks right to me. Now if we could get Acta to let starting pitchers go more than 100 pitches. Anyone want to bet how many pitchers Redding has today before we Colome yup...100 pitches then Colome, not because he is the logical choice, but because it is his turn....what a way to run a team.

Posted by: JayB | July 24, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

re: Carp and Sutton
I think that's a sign that they are tired of spewing pure garbage for 8 innings straight.
Posted by: 756* | July 24, 2008 12:47 PM

point taken. just sayin never heard some1 say game is over when youve brought the tying run to the plate and its your socalled cleanup hitter.
even though i had no faith in a-ks, i actually believed flores had a chance to do something. unfortunately he got plunked.

Posted by: dk | July 24, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I didn't make it to that point, kudos to you. I made it to the Langerhans "finding his swing" comments and immediately hit the mute. Hit the mute button people, you'll live longer.

Oh, btw, when the Nats are in SF, turn on your XM to hear Jon Miller.

Posted by: 756* | July 24, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Sorry...that should have been "FOUND his swing." I forgot for a moment that everything is ok with Langerhans.

Posted by: 756* | July 24, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

To think that either Texeira or Sabathia would be willing to come to DC is a bit, um, naive. When you've got Boston and NYY trying to get you to sign a contract, when they say money is not a problem, why would the Lerners WANT to sign them? Sure, make a run and ask their agents, but when the market gets established, don't waste money on them. Whoever gets them will have overpaid.

Posted by: SF Fan | July 24, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure why Randy is complaing to the WaPo that Ayala won't throw his sinker. Shouldn't the pitching coach, the catcher and the pitchers be holding pregame meetings? Randy should tell Flores that the plan is 75% sinkers from Ayala. And when Ayala shakes off the sinker, tell Flores to just put the sinker sign down there until he throws it.

It is asinine to Bowden to have revealed the non-tender situation with Cordero. Sure, it makes sense to me. But the non-tender deadline is sometime in December. I don't see any other GMs throwing their injured players under the bus like that. Hopefully, Stan will take Jim out to the woodshed. Or maybe take away his Segway for a week.

As for trading Redding, we should take what we can get for him. Yes, he's not expensive and under club control. The negatives are that he's a 5-6 inning pitcher and all of these 6 inning outings are taxing the bullpen. We need to be digging up pitchers that can go 6-7 innings per start.

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | July 24, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Oh, btw, when the Nats are in SF, turn on your XM to hear Jon Miller.
Posted by: 756* | July 24, 2008 1:03 PM

jm is great. but one thing the nats do have is 2 great radio guys. so no need for that. just hit the dial.

Posted by: dk | July 24, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey Scooter, I know that Sanches is not currently on the big team ... I was just noting that he's the same age as Schroder, also holds the permit to travel back and forth (options), and got more innings despite a worse ERA.

And although I don't fully understand all the details, I do get that because of options (or the lack of options) the team can't just switch Schroder for Colome. I just wish it were possible b/c I have a soft spot for Schroder, and also b/c Colome is like death by paper cut for me. I also agree that Ayala has earned some slack, even though he's making me crazy right now.

Posted by: dcbatgirl | July 24, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

@JiM: Regarding the BP, I think Ayala is FA-eligible, unless we tender him (same as Cordero). Sanches, Schroeder & O'Conner all look like non-tenders as well. Based on current roster structure, we could see these as possibles for 2009:
Long/Middle - M. Chico(L), S.Shell(R), G. Mock(R), R.Wagner(R).
Short/Setup - J.Colome(R), C.Manning(L), S.Rivera(R), S.Schmoll(R).
Closer - J.Hanrahan(R), Z.Zinicola(R).

Posted by: BIM | July 24, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

its weird cause i was a big fan of carpenter and sutton last year. but this year they are plain annoying. can those 2 guys ever go a half ining without giggling like little girls? they really crack each other up.

Posted by: dk | July 24, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

The cost of covering baseball...

It's not the salary that is the big issue. It's the travel costs. The Nats will play 81 road games on 11 road trips this year. That's no less than 82 nights in a hotel, 81 days worth of per diem (Chico - do you get a per diem or does the WaPo pay actuals), and 11 flights, rental cars, etc. Not too mention the cost of Spring Training, Winter Meetings, the Playoffs and World Series.

Pretty soon you are talking about real money.

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | July 24, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

re: Carp and Sutton - I did not stay up and watch the game last night but -- Sutton will never get over the Braves and we just left Turner Field so he is still in a depression. He has a giant man-crush on Francouer. Whenever we play the Braves he gets very excited by their plays and knows ALL the inside info about their players. Our announcers routinely talk about inane things and don't ever notice a good play or hit - they don't even pretend to be fans.

Posted by: masnstinks | July 24, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

jm is great. but one thing the nats do have is 2 great radio guys. so no need for that. just hit the dial.

Posted by: dk | July 24, 2008 1:10 PM

dk: You & I finally agree on something. Charlie & Dave are great together in the booth - I'm usually listening to the radio while at the computer on mlb.com

Posted by: BIM | July 24, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

@JiM: In addition to that list, M.Chico & G.Mock could serve as "spot" starters, should one of the starting 5 have a short-term problem (like we haven't seen that before).

Posted by: BIM | July 24, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I thought I was going to wake up this AM to hear on WTOP that the Nats have released right hand reliever Luis Ayalya. Of course that would be the logical thing to do but hey this the Nats and logic is not part of the vocabulary of management.

Posted by: tippy canoe | July 24, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

"Colome is like death by paper cut for me."

Thank you dcbatgirl, I needed a laugh.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | July 24, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Hanrahan (cl), Manning, Sanches, Shell, Wagner, Zinicola, Rivera

Posted by: my pen | July 24, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

where did manning come from? his bio is blank.

Posted by: info please | July 24, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Watching the Clippers play on milb.com, E-Boni is 2-4 today leading off and playing 2B in his first game.

Posted by: estuartj | July 24, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully Stanley will dismiss Mr. Carpenter on 01 Oct and opt for someone who can judge a flyball. Hey Carpenter and WMP have something in common. See both of them should be shown the door come 01 Oct.

"How far is that one going"

Posted by: tippy canoe | July 24, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you and dk re. Charlie and Dave, BIM. Always a pleasure to listen to them.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 24, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

They should have let Willie Harris pitch the 8th inning last night. Willie Harris can pitch and play center field at the same time.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | July 24, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

So the discussion has gone from blaming the hitting coach to blaming the TV announcers.

Posted by: QFT | July 24, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

[quote]I thought I was going to wake up this AM to hear on WTOP that the Nats have released right hand reliever Luis Ayalya. Of course that would be the logical thing to do but hey this the Nats and logic is not part of the vocabulary of management.[/quote]

so... tippycanoe, would you then complain middle of the 09 season when ayala had figured out his problem and was pitching to a sub-3 era that the nats FO just doesn't know what it's doing and should never have released him in the first place?

the guy has a good track record before this season. it's foolish to DFA someone who's only 30 for having a bad half-season. he has a career 3.26 ERA and prior to this year only one season with an ERA above 3 (3.16). releasing him now would be a sign of poor management by the FO. it's not like he's hurting the team's chances of making the playoffs. and if he can find himself again, he could be a good setup guy for a few more years for this team. isn't that part of what this season is about now? learning who will be useful pieces for this team for the next few years? it would be different if this was a guy with no track record, but he's not. he's he's had four seasons of good pitching and 1/2 a season of bad pitching.

Posted by: 231 | July 24, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully Stanley will dismiss Mr. Carpenter on 01 Oct and opt for someone who can judge a flyball. Hey Carpenter and WMP have something in common. See both of them should be shown the door come 01 Oct.
"How far is that one going"
Posted by: tippy canoe | July 24, 2008 2:14


zimmerman hit a fly ball in the 9th last night. carpenter (very excited like it was going out): "he really got extended on that one."
unfortunately like most of his excited calls, this was easily pulled in for a routine catch in not even deep ctr.

Posted by: dk | July 24, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

231: valid comment, but at some point organizations have to start acting like winning organizations meaning the tolerance level for bad mechanics, mental mistakes, or just "ain't got it anymore", trumps the track record.

Posted by: tippy canoe | July 24, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

"Colome is like death by paper cut for me."

No argument here. I tape the games, and I've decided that Colome is Spanish for "fast forward." He's slow, AND he's wild. The man pitches like one strike every two and a half minutes.

By the by, hope I didn't bust your chops more than intended, batperson. I can see why a Schroder fan would be vexed. I'm just not a Schroder anything.

Posted by: Scooter | July 24, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Hey, nobody called "new post." natsfan1a, where are you when we need you?

Posted by: Scooter | July 24, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Scooter, I dropped the ball on that one.

Colome *is* very slow. I remember at least one game where they went to a (radio) station ID break between pitches.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 24, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

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