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We're happy and we're tough to beat

Yes, we're straining here, but every sane man needs hope. You can only read so much of this and this before you end up feeling like this. So here's the plan: Today, an off day, let's put a one-day moratorium on the misery. Let's forgo the snark, the dismay, the disgust and the blood pressure-rising stress that's all a common part of life as a DC baseball follower. Let's just make a list of the good things.

Maybe you're stoked to soon see Bonifacio and Dukes in the lineup -- components of a team that's finally healthy and young and fair to evaluate, sans excuses.

Maybe you're looking forward to a few exits at the trading deadline.

Maybe you're not feeling so bad about Washington's July record (5-16) because of its surprising run differential (Opponents 86, Nats 83).

Maybe you just got an advance copy of the Wire, Season 5, which doesn't come out 'til August 12, but hey, who's counting. (Manny Acta, by the way, likes the Wire but loves-loves-loves Law & Order. A good Manny Acta off day = an L&O marathon.)

Anyway, let's grow the list. Make it baseball-related, non-baseball related. Doesn't even matter.

I have a few more minutes before I head back to LAX for the flight back to DC, so beforehand, I'll get things started with one contribution.

What makes me smile this morning? The headline of Shirley Povich's first bylined story at The Post (dated June 26, 1924): "Happy and Tough, Is Harris' Picture of Nats' Sentiments"

And it began...

By Shirley L. Povich

"We're happy and we're tough to beat," so spoke Manager Stanley (Bucky) Harris, youngest manager in baseball, as he stepped from the train last night at Union station, with his victorious crew of Washington Nationals, fresh from a triumphant tour of the West, climaxed by a successful invasion of Yankee Stadium, where they dropped the world's champion New Yorkers in four straight games, to come home at the top of the American League stadings.

"We had the breaks, but we made 'em," declared Bucky. "There was no stopping us once we reached the top. Our pitchers came through, our sluggers slugged and the spirit of the team never once ebbed. We have got a real ball club and fear no team in the league. Here's hoping that September 25 will find us in a like position. And we hear that pennant flapping."

Bucky was taken aback with the size of the crowd and the reception given the homecoming team.

"It sure does make us feel like going out and knocking every team for a loop," was his comment.

By Chico Harlan  |  July 28, 2008; 12:04 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Same old (with an emphasis on old)
Next: Starting over

Comments

I'm happy with Emiliooooooooooooooo's start at Columbus. 10 for 16 (.625) 4 BB, 3 SB, 7 runs. OBP of .684!

Don't anyone dare burst my bubble with a comment regarding the sample size!

Posted by: Section 138 | July 28, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The fact that our rotation goes out and gives quality start after quality start. How often have we seen this line in the gamers (or something to this effect), "Pitcher X pitches well enough to win despite lack of run support"

Also, reposted from the last thread:
According to MLBTradeRumors.com, the Rangers are looking to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia for young pitching. With Laird catching and Davis & Ramirez at 1st, he could come fairly cheap.

We have a ton of young pitching and this guy automatically comes a legitimate 1st baseman of the future who can have an impact immediately. I know all about Marrero, but this could give us some good depth.

Posted by: Corey | July 28, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I am happy that Ryan Zimmerman will be playing the next time we see the Nats

Posted by: Ashburn | July 28, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

A. We have a baseball team in DC!
B. We have a new stadium in DC!
C. St. Claire and his pitching staff
D.Ryan Zimmerman
E. our minor leaguers
F. Jesus Flores
G.Just realizing that I could complete the alphabet if I wanted to -priceless!

Posted by: masnstinks | July 28, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Chico - great pull on the Povich piece. Thanks for sharing, that brightens my day for sure.

I don't get too depressed about the Nats b/c I've been realistic on my expectations.

I am looking forward to late August and September though when players will have been either dealt or management will be resigned to having them on the roster or releasing them, but either way freeing up Acta to put a lineup out there that looks something like:

Milledge - 8
Guzman - 6
Zimm - 5
Dukes - 7
Flores - 2
Marrero/Young - 3
Kearns - 9
Bonaficio - 4
Lannan/Detwiler/Redding/Balester/Bergmann - 1

Once the business side is out of the way we can just let our core of 23 year olds play through the last six weeks or so and get after it. I realize the Marrero call up is a stretch, but what the hey, right?

Posted by: Ryan | July 28, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I am looking forward to a dukes, milledge, zimmerman back to back to back homerun tirade... it may take a while but we'll see it.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | July 28, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Nats went on to win the World Series that year. Great post, Chico.

I'm happy to have been able to catch the Dodger broadcast on Extra Innings yesterday. Vin Scully. Holy smokes. That man is absolutely the definition of a baseball announcer.

I shamefully admit that this is the first time I've heard him call a game. It won't be the last. That guy is a gem.

I'm also happy that August is nearly upon us. I will be traveling to see the Nats at Miller Park and to Wrigley next month. I just hope I don't get headbutted by a Cubs fan again...

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 28, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

(Ryan's lineup also makes me happy.)

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 28, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

How I long for a headline like that in the present. No Shirley...I don't gest. I have only a glimmering ray of hope.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | July 28, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm looking forward to seeing a number of call-ups in September.
I'm looking forward to Manny actually playing the kids because we have absolutely nothing to lose.
And, in the offseason, I'm looking forward to some new blood brought into the organization through free agency and/or (hopefully) front office replacements.

Posted by: Offense/offensive | July 28, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

that pitchers have to bat in the NL.

Posted by: theraph | July 28, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Some of my positives (in no particular order): Manny Acta, quality starts, the guys who play the game hard, the possibility of hitting reset and seeing a great at-bat, a heads-up play, and/or a win with each new (game) day; late season spoiler possibilities (as somebody once said, if it wasn't for Schadenfreude I wouldn't have any Freude at all).

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 28, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm happy about that run-differential statistic you gave us, Chico. Say, you know what? We actually are tough to beat. I'm happy that this means pitching is usually pretty good.

Posted by: shepdave | July 28, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Nice story. I also like the one that begins this way (and I wouldn't mind seeing one of those, either ;-)):

"The million-to-one shot came in. Hell froze over. A month of Sundays hit the calendar."

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 28, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Young pitching for Salt?

Let me give some people here a lesson. Teams that are 'rebuilding' do not trade ANY young players, especially pitching. You get rid of the old and stockpile young players, especially pitching, then sign a FA or too. IF that adds up and you are somehow in the hunt, you trade young pitching for a difference maker.

Posted by: natrat | July 28, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Looking forward to the day when "Nationals" can replace "Redskins" in the following story:

"The team announced more than 28,000 people were on hand for Saturday's scrimmage and Fan Appreciation Day. The crowd was a Redskins training camp record, bettering a 2004 crowd of 24,000. The crowds snarled traffic on the roads around the facility. ..."

Posted by: Capitol Hill | July 28, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I am happy that Bergman, Balester, Redding and Lannan have kept their composure and sanity while the rest of their support has floundered.

I am happy that Bonifacio so far has exceeded expectations with his superb start in the minor league. I will be delighted to see his name on the starting lineup card at 2nd.

I am thrilled that Dukes is progressing well in rehab. I really miss his fire, zeal, intensity and warrior-like attitude. You had the feeling that anything was possible with him in the lineup.

I loved the quotes from Bucky Harris of the '24 Nats. How great to hear the bravado and fire coming from a manager. I would have loved to see how he would handle this current bunch of professionals. Something tells me that not one single player would dare not hustle on every play.

Posted by: Dale | July 28, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

A perfect game, I mean, rather than a story like that...

Nice story. I also like the one that begins this way (and I wouldn't mind seeing one of those, either ;-)):

"The million-to-one shot came in. Hell froze over. A month of Sundays hit the calendar."

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 28, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Also, the thought of a gruff baseball guy named "Bucky" striding off a train and saying things like "knocking every team for a loop" makes me happy.

Posted by: Capitol Hill | July 28, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Ryan-

I think that with Marrero injured, a bunch of us would be content to see Rhinehart come up for a cup of coffee instead, since Young seems to be done for the year.

Posted by: Positively Half St | July 28, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

No snark, but Marrero's hurt - he's not coming up this year, not next year, and maybe, maybe in September of 2010. In the meantime, I'd love to see a hole created for Bill Rhinehart, who's only OPS-ing 1.012 in his 20 games at AA so far and could fit right in with the "23 years old" gang of Zimmerman, Milledge, Flores, Dukes (ok, he just turned 24), Lannan, Clippard, Bonifacio, Zinicola, and Balester (who's 22, so he balances Dukes!). If we're going to lose 100 games, at least have the excuse of "we're young" be true.

Posted by: Highway 295 Revisited | July 28, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Once the business side is out of the way we can just let our core of 23 year olds play through the last six weeks or so and get after it. I realize the Marrero call up is a stretch, but what the hey, right?

Posted by: Ryan | July 28, 2008 12:33 PM

It would be a real stretch . . . since he's out for the year with a broken leg and torn ligaments in his ankle. Replace Marrero with Rhinehart and the theory is the same.

And you might want to replace Detweiler with the 2 N Zimmermann.

Posted by: Gal Revels in Pee | July 28, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Natrat,
No offense, but I don't need a lesson. We wouldn't be trading a young guy for an old vet. We'd be trading a young pitcher (which we have tons of, and partly for this reason) for a young bat (which we don't have much of). Salty was born in "85...he might be the youngest guy on the club actually. I'm sorry, but if I had an opportunity to trade a young guy from a position where we tend to be very deep for a young (maybe younger) guy who could immediately help and help in the future at a position where we have no depth....then I do it in a heartbeat. Save your lessons for Jim Bowden.

Posted by: Corey | July 28, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm happy about the fact that with the trade deadline gone, the Nat's will dump the old and bring in the new. The roster expansion is not far off, and we will get to see what this youth really looks like.

Give whoever a try. Just so long as they are young.

Posted by: ExpoFan | July 28, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

We'd have to see the asking price for Salty before we could really start to talk. I'd imagine that the rangers would want something more then just Lannan or Clippard. Probably in the Ballester and/or Zimmerman to start the conversation.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | July 28, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

About Bonifacio and Guzman -- sure, they're not going to deliver the kind of offense that the Phillies and the Marlins have up the middle. I wouldn't expect anything on the level that Jose Reyes delivers for the Mets, either. But, we're talking about rare players, especially so for middle infielders. It appears that we might have the table-setters for the next couple of years, anyway. It will be up to the rest of the lineup to drive in the runs and provide the long balls. If Zimm hits like most of us think he can, and Dukes continues on the course he's set, and maybe Milledge keeps improving, then we're a first baseman and maybe an outfielder away form a pretty decent lineup. In a few years the Nats' pitching might be the envy of those other teams, so our defense becomes even more important. In their park, the Phillies need to outslug the opponents. The Nats can succeed by being better overall teams.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | July 28, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I'd trade CLippard for Saltalamacchia in a second - and would trade Lannan for Saltalamacchia if you held a gun to my head.

Lannan is the type of young pitcher that you do not trade.

As for Salta... he's young, just turned 23. And while his minor leaguers numbers are solid, I wouldn't trade a talent like Lannan for him.

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | July 28, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

happy happy ... : ))
8 D

Posted by: just a reminder | July 28, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

What Bonifacio gives us is another player that has a chance to be at least average offensively and well above average defensively. Given the chance to have:

Zimmerman 3B
Bonifacio 2B
Milledge CF
Dukes RF
Flores C

As well as others who may join the team later it gives the nats young pitching staff a chance to make a few mistakes and not pay too much.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | July 28, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

The point that was made is that Clippard for Salty is not on the table. Lannan for Salty is probably not an option either. I'd guess that we'd be looking at something like Ballester + Lannan for Salty. Would that price be too high?

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | July 28, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

It's nice to know some things never change. The Boy Manager had his clichés down even then.
"You play 'em one game at a time."

Posted by: Section 3 "I just want to help the big club" of my couch | July 28, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

OK, then

Milledge 8
Guzman 6
Bonds 7
Texiera 3
Dukes 9
Zimmerman 5
Flores 8
Bonifacio 4
p

I'd pay to see that.

Posted by: CE | July 28, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I wish teams still took the train, and would love to greet a returning victorious Nats team at Union Station.

As for the rest...great pitching staff, great manager, great hopes down on the farm.

Plus I'm glad I have baseball to follow, as a break from all the "serious" news in the world. Really glad they play almost every day.

Posted by: SBrent | July 28, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Jimbow is probably too cheap to pay for tex, but i'd pay to see the rest of that group. Lets put clemens in the rotation as well. Wouldn't hurt to have a couple of hall of famers on the roster and it sure would put the nats on the media radar.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | July 28, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

No comment on whether or not the trade is worth making, but Saltalamacchia wouldn't be the youngest player on the team - he'd be part of that 23 y.o. group. He, Milledge and Bonifacio are all born within a month of each other, actually - serves to remind me how young Milledge is - and Balester is a full year younger than all of them (and the youngest guy on the team by a stretch). Clippard's only a few months older, and Zim, Flores and Lannan are the "greybeards" born in late '84 rather than spring '85. Zinicola, if he came up would be in there as one of the spring '85 guys; Rhinehart would be one of the late '84 guys. ZimmermanN would be another 22-y.o. with Balester

Looking up the ages of these guys and recognizing that our four or five best players are all a lot younger than I even thought made me happy.

Posted by: Corey | July 28, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what exactly the asking price for salty is though. Young pitching is not an exact term. I hope Jimbow is at least considering the idea. I'd much rather have salty playing at first then the other former catching stud.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | July 28, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Haha there seem to be two Corey's.

Maybe I exagerrated calling him the youngest on the team, but certainly one of the youngest - it's a good sign when the majority of your players couldn't even legally get into a bar when the Nats moved into RFK 3 years ago.

I didn't mean to attack Natrat, sorry. Just saying that a young arm (which we have plenty of) for a young 1B (which we don't have many of) would be a good deal.

Posted by: Corey | July 28, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Gah - that last "Corey" comment at 1:44 was me. Sorry about that - I managed to mess it up.

Posted by: Highway 295 Revisited | July 28, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I think that the Nats still take the train for at least some of the East Coast series, SBrent.

Another thing that makes me happy:

http://www.famouschicken.com/biography.html

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 28, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

With the first pick in the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft, the Washington Nationals choose...

Posted by: mab | July 28, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

A shameless self-promotion--I'm happy that I am (well, as of this moment) getting married Saturday.

I'm happy that when I return, I will get to hop on a lovely Metro train, get off at a Navy Yard stop that is bursting with possibilities in the months/years to come and stroll into a beautiful new stadium to watch the best sport known to man and a team that while frustrating at times, is nonetheless ours.

Go Nats!

PS: I am sad that beginning tomorrow, I will be without the internet and NJ for 10 days. Darn destination wedding!

Posted by: joNAThan | July 28, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

It would be one thing to trade young pitching if we were loaded with it, but we aren't. There are teams that 'think' they are loaded all the time only to hit set back after set back... The Cubs thought they were loaded with young pitching, the move Marmol to relief, Hill falls off the face of the earth, trade Gallagher, promote Samardja and now the cupbard is bare, completely bare. A few years ago the Dodgers thought they were loaded with Greg Miller, Edwin Jackson, our own Hanrahan, then draftin Justin Orenduff and Scott Elbert, yet none have been stars yet and they are still stockpiling.

Right now we have several ok minor league pitchers. Look at Detwiler, depending on who you ask he may not even be a prospect anymore. We need more. Look at We aren't in any pressure as far as protecting guys on the 40 man. Right now the FIRST priority needs to be signing the draft picks we have now.

Posted by: natrat | July 28, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a major league GM - I didn't even sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but Lannan AND Balester for Saltalamacchia is a crazy deal - I think the Rangers would trip over themselves to get 2 pitchers with that type of promise. Look at Salty's MLB and MiLB numbers, they are good numbers, but nothing that is off the charts... at least that's what I see.

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | July 28, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris

Posted by: WillieHarrisMania | July 28, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

The problem with Lannan and Ballester is that neither has great stuff. They are both promising young pitchers who have varying degrees of experience but you do not trade a stud young bat for a guy who has probably reached his ceiling even if he's only 24. The question remains, is Salty a stud young bat anymore or just a switch hitter who swings and misses a little too much? Either way its a though that should be considered.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | July 28, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

just a few that always bring smiles to my face:

"We are praying for his buttocks and his family."

"That, my friends, is very broke."

"Josh Smoker!!"

Posted by: 1/9000 | July 28, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I think that the first thing that needs to be done is to see if there are any suitors for the vets that are left and healthy. Can we get the equivalent of Sharion Martis from Belliard or Redding or Perez or LoDuca. Someone may trade us a very very young arm or bat for one of those guys and i'd be happy to see it.

Once this week has come and gone we need to see an influx of signings from the draft. Baseball America said a couple of weeks ago that Crow would be the nationals new #1 prospect if he signs. We also need the help at catching and middle infield so getting these young guys is a MUST.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | July 28, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Congrats johNAThan! We'll be waiting here when you get back.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | July 28, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I am happy about our Rotation and the state of our farm system.

Off topic

Speaking of farm system, some our teams substitute GO/AO for WHIP in the pitching stats. What is GO/AO? Anybody?

Posted by: Section 204 Row K Seat 11 | July 28, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"The problem with Lannan and Ballester is that neither has great stuff."

What impresses me about Lannan isn't his "stuff." It's the fact that, on the days when everyone (him, Randy, Manny) agrees that he just isn't making his pitches, he'll still manage to throw six plus innings of two-run, five-hit ball. That's not exactly blowing anyone away, but it's pretty good for an off day.

Of course, I could always be wrong. Let me know if there's some kind of a fluke (abnormally low BABIP or something) and he's actually not as good as I'm making him out to be...

Posted by: boston | July 28, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE Lannan. I think that he's a great asset and a very good pitcher. He's drawn comparisons to Tom Glavine which is rarely a bad thing (unless its being said by a mets fan). The problem is that I don't think his trade value is equal to his value to us because he does not blow people away. Even if he continues to put up these numbers nobody will ever think that he's a grade A trade chip.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | July 28, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Also, I suppose I am a total dork for this, but watching This Week In Baseball makes me happy.

I echo the congrats for joNAThan.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 28, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

GO/AO Ground Outs/Fly Outs Divide the total of all ground balls hit by the batter into outs, and not including bunts, by the total of all fly balls hit by the batter into outs, and not including line drives.

Posted by: longterm | July 28, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

How could I forget? Charlie and Dave make me smile (and, often, laugh old loud).

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 28, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

There is a difference between these very bad Nationals here in 2008 and those very bad Washington Senators of the mid to late 1960's (can't count '69 though -- that was a magical year).

The Senators were a team playing before 7,000 a game with only one or two real major league players on the roster. The minor leagues were bereft of any talent because the Senators - like the Mariners of the late '70's and early '80's - drafted players they could sign. I mean, when Dick Billings and Gary Holman were "players to watch," you know you were in trouble.

The Nationals are different. They have probably lost 10 games this season due to injury. Their major league roster is flush with young players who could - could - become near-stars. Only time will tell. The minors, while shallow in terms of bats, is flooded with major league arms.

Look in the dictionary under "growing pains" and it'll say "See the 2008 Washington Nationals." Like the old Fram oil filter commercial which said "You can pay me today ($4.00 oil filter) or pay me tomorrow (engine overhaul)," we as Nationals' fans are paying today so that tomorrow's team will run on all cylinders.

As a 52 year old, I don't have as many seasons left in me as you youngsters do, so this whole "pay me now" plan is a risk. I could keel over before that first World Series victory. But I'm willing to take that chance -- to see a team well built and properly created give the baseball fans of Washington something they haven't had since 1933; a team that has the ability to get to the World Series.

And no, I wasn't around then.

Posted by: The Beltway Boy | July 28, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Ground-ball outs vs. Fly-ball outs. To calculate, you divide the total of all ground balls hit into outs (no bunts, though)by the total of all fly balls into outs(not including line-drives).
*********************************
Speaking of farm system, some our teams substitute GO/AO for WHIP in the pitching stats. What is GO/AO? Anybody?

Posted by: Section 204 Row K Seat 11 | July 28, 2008 2:15 PM

Posted by: Section 138 | July 28, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I am happy the Redskins drew 28K for an intrasquad scrimmage. Gee, isn't that what the Nats draw on a good night at the stadium?

Posted by: Wallpass | July 28, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I LOVE that line, but had forgotten it. Thank you for bringing it back out, sir!

"That, my friends, is very broke."

Posted by: 1/9000 | July 28, 2008 2:11 PM

Posted by: 2/9000 | July 28, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, when the Rangers say Young Pitching for Salty I think they mean Balester AND J.Zimmermann.

No thanks.

Posted by: estuartj | July 28, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

This post reminds me of Ian Drury's "Reasons to Be Cheerful, Part 3."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reasons_to_be_Cheerful,_Part_3

My reasons to be cheerful / reasons to believe have to start with 4 good major league starters pitching well, the possibility of Elijah Dukes realizing his potential instead of his demons, a nice defensive nucleus (RZ, NJ?, ED, AK, JF, and maybe E-Boni), Lastings Milledge's enthusiasm and desire to be his best, Zimmerman's defense, more pitching on the way, watching Willie Harris play like a major leaguer, did I mention defense at 3d with our regular back?, and the realization that young players do get better offensively.

As someone who was disappointed with the Rauch trade in terms of return, I'm glad that management pulled the trigger on something, I'm willing to pull for the him now that he's on board. Also, seeing what the Pirates got for Marte and Nady, I'm also starting to feel that the market for set up relievers might be closer to what JimBo got than what the anonymous MLB sources (who I link to in posts) say it should have been.

Posted by: PTBNL | July 28, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Sheesh, no rest for the forgetful. Thank you to the several of you who reminded me of Marrero's injuries. I shall discipline myself for that silliness and promise to be much more steadfast in throwing together hypotheticals.


Posted by: Ryan | July 28, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm cheerful that I have 2 fantastic 3yo boys - who will have a great home stadium to grow up in and around.

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | July 28, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

It makes me happy that people here can write strings like:

"RZ, NJ?, ED, AK, JF, and maybe E-Boni)"

...and everyone knows exactly who and what they're talking about. I love real-life, deep-down fandom.

Posted by: abbreviator | July 28, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I saw both of these games and his performance made me happy:

The Potomac Nationals hottest hurler, Luis Atilano, was named the Carolina League's Pitcher of the Week for July 21-July 27.

While being limited to just five innings while still recovering from "Tommy John" surgery which he underwent in 2006, the Puerto Rican made the most of his limited opportunity, one-hitting both the Kinston Indians and the Frederick Keys in his two starts during the week.

The 23-year-old struck out six, including matching a season-high with five punch outs against Frederick, and walked just one. He ran his scoreless innings streak to 12 by hurling 10 shutout frames over the week.

Atilano was a supplemental first-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2003, which they received with the departure of Tom Glavine, and was selected 35th overall. The Washington Nationals acquired him on August 31, 2006, 21 days after undergoing "Tommy John" surgery, in exchange for Daryle Ward.

Yep, another instance where trading a spare part for a minor leaguer might pay future dividends.

Posted by: Angry in Alexandria | July 28, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

ED did not make me happy, until I stepped up to the plate...

Posted by: NR Raffy | July 28, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The idea of trading for Salty is intriguing. Obviously, it'd be a plus for NJ, since we already learned how to spell his name while cursing his name when he played for Atlanta.

Another wrinkle is the fact that you could get him a few more ABs as a catcher, thus possibly allowing a healthy NJ (or Santa Claus, is you prefer) into more games at first.

If you could maybe limit Johnson to a 70 or 80-game ceiling, you'd have Saltalamacchia in for 100+ games at first and maybe a few dozen at catcher if needed.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 28, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Things that make me happy:

Summer.

Having a team in my hometown to root for after having none for most of my life (43 years).

Being able to argue with my good friend about whether Austin Kearns is any good.

Sitting on the couch with my daughter to watch a Nats game after having watched her play her softball game.

On another subject, I'm not sure Jarrod Saltalamacchia is where this team needs to go. He seems to be on a fast train to over-hyped prospectville. He's never produced at any level that makes one say "championship 1st baseman". Once he showed he couldn't really catch in the big leagues, he became a below average offensive player for his position. Keep Balester and Lannan.

Posted by: #4 | July 28, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Atilano for Ward reminds me of the only real qualm I have with the Rauch-Bonifacio trade, I doubt ARI would have balked at our asking for a A level SP in addition. Wouldn't have to be a quality "prospect", but if we grabbed up a low level arm with every trade we might find that diamond in the rough.

For instance when the Rangers got Gallaragga (sp?) In the Soriano trade he was a complete throwaway part in the trade, turned out he's a decent pitcher. Not being critical of that trade or this one, just saying....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 28, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

For my money, Lannan's name should be at the top of the "untouchables" list - he's exactly the sort of "rotation stabilizer" that gets overlooked - he's never going to lead the league in strikeouts, but he gets results - and he's much, much more solid in pressure situations than Bergmann, for instance. Bergmann's getting better and learning to trust his stuff, but Lannan's learning how to pitch in MLB - how to get by when you don't have your best stuff, how to limit the damage when you get in trouble, all that kind of stuff.

And Lannan's BABiP against is .273 - a smidge lucky, but nothing where I would say "Wow, he can't sustain that."

Posted by: Highway 295 Revisited | July 28, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Did I just say a few dozen? I meant a few. Saltalamacchia hasn't even played 150 MLB games yet.

He also hasn't played first all year, although he did nearly split his time between first and catcher last year, when he was blocked by McCann.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 28, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

#4's got my concern about Salty, too - he's got some decent-looking power numbers in the minors, but hasn't shown any of that pop in the majors - if he's going to be a catcher, you can worry a little less about that, but if he's going to be a 1b, the slugging is probably the most important number, and even in the minors, he slugged .470 or so - good, but not great. Compare with Rhinehart, who's slugging .494 career so far after never slugging under .500 at Arizona.

Posted by: Highway 295 Revisited | July 28, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

We have no one to replace Lannan. That is the simple reason why you should not trade him. Lannan is solid and mature for his age. On a team with decent hitting he would have a winning percentage well above .500. Let there be a surplus of young pitchers at the major league ready level before you start trading the cream of your staff.

Posted by: Dale | July 28, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

The Rangers have 4 honest-to-goodness catchers, and they know this. They will entertain offers for Salty and Laird, but Teagarden and Max Ramirez are untouchables. They are having interest expressed for Laird or Salty from the Marlins, Reds, Red Sox and Indians (and whispers about the Yankees).
They are looking for a "top of the line, young starter"... something Boston has a lot of.
But, their GM also said, "[We won't just be]giving any of these guys away. There is definitely a demand for controllable good Catchers."
Sounds like it might be tough to get Salty..

Posted by: Section 138 | July 28, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

If anyone is looking for hope, just google the name Stephen Strasburg, next year's likely No. 1 pick. Granted, No. 1 picks don't always pan out, especially in baseball, but if you're going to be No. 1 pick bad, this looks like a good year to do it.

Posted by: red4z | July 28, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Long Term.

Posted by: Sec 204 Row K Seat 11 | July 28, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Enjoyed the reprint's the WAPO did several years ago of the 1924 Senators. It was great following the "previous" days results, and interesting following the different style of writing that was practiced "back in the day".

Posted by: Section 426 | July 28, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

gee, i feel like breaking out in a chorus of "Tomorrow, the sun'll come out tomorrow"

Posted by: annie | July 28, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

"I was trying to get the ball in play and throw strikes. I was trying to use the defense as much as possible, but I guess it didn't work out that way." - Stephen Strasburg on April 11, after throwing a complete game with 23 K's

Posted by: Anonymous | July 28, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I've been tied up all day & just want to say to Chico what a great idea this was. And since you mentioned non-baseball stuff, I will point to the beautiful (IMHO) Beaux Arts bldg that is WASA's main pumping station (not making that up, that's what it is--http://www.jdland.com/dc/wasa.cfm ) east of Nats Park that we get to see every time we come to a game.

Posted by: Section 109 | July 28, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

In 1924, an AL road trip out "West" meant the White Sox and the St. Louis Browns. Maybe the Tigers and Indians too.

Posted by: Cosmo | July 28, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

1st!!!

Posted by: People who do this are annoying | July 28, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Natsfan1a! Let's see the Nats through a big "Welcome Home" party or two each season at Union Station when the boys come back from winning a series in Philly or Gotham!

Nice post, Farid (Beltway Boy). I miss your blog. Lotta work, though, I know. Hope your health is holding up.

Posted by: Sbrent | July 28, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to comment on some non-baseball stuff but in my opinion there is nothing more beautiful then baseball. Next to thanksgiving, opening day is the best of the year. To me, heaven is a day night doubleheader with back to back pitchers duals in the middle of the summer with a hotdog, a beer, and a scorecard. Friends and family are welcome to join as they arrive, but not a moment too soon. I love baseball to my core and that is why i watch the game, why i love the nats, and why i probably spend way too much time on this blog.

I guess if i'd have to choose something its that the hokies football season starts in less then a month... why havent my season tickets shown up yet?

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | July 28, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

First:
Sorry, Scooter, I wasn't trying to be obtuse with the Joe Hardy reference from the last post. JH was the Nats fan who sold his soul to the devil to play for the Nats, from the Musical "Damn Yankees!" You may not have seen it but you have probably heard the song,"Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets."

Second:
To address Chico's points about what makes me happy, I will not mention the personal issues where I have been pleased beyond all reason with one exception.

Thank you to our troops. They are fighting and, God rest their souls, dying so that we may be free and safe and enjoy baseball.

We have the beginnings of some good starting pitching.

We have some strong arms on the farm.

Our bull pen needs work but those same strong arms may help.

We have an Off-The-Charts DSL team, plus a back up DSL team, that I just don't know how to evaluate.

We have Flores and Zimmerman, two Major league position players.

We have some good position players on the farm, but mainly at the corners or in the OF.

We have a good draft class, but alas, the best appear to be unsigned. Sign the draftees, then I'll be happier.

We're in line for a top (1-4) draft position next year, admittedly a mixed blessing.

AND most importantly - even losing baseball is better than no baseball at all.

Let's play two!


Posted by: SlowPitch63 | July 28, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I look forward to going home today and instead of finishing the report i'm working on sneaking the time to read the next chapter in joe posnanski's book "The Soul of Baseball" where he and Buck O'neil come to Washington and watch our 2005 Nats at RFK. I think Buck would be the king of your "what makes me happy" game, chico. The book keeps filling my heart but at the same time making me want to cry. I guess that's baseball, and life (inseparable?) FYI i think it's still on amazon for $6!

i want to share an email i got from my sister this afternoon, which from the moment i woke up felt like a bit of a sad day:

"What makes me smile this morning?" - Chico Harlan

Chico Harlan is brilliant. I'm talking Einstein, Edison, Hawking, BRILLIANT. Do you ever read Nats Journal these days? Have you SEEN the kind of people who write things there and the kind of stuff they say? If you haven't, I won't fill you in. Suffice to say it's not a pretty picture. The Nationals just lost their sixth game in a row. They've been shut out three of the last four days. In the past four games (to paraphrase today's gamer), the sun has risen more often than a National has crossed the plate. At times like this, it's usually not a great idea to read NJ, unless you want to end up digging yourself a hole in which to curl up and die.

But somehow, in some miraculous, incomprehensible move of absolute and utter brilliancy, Chico Harlan has managed to put smiles on the faces of the Nats Journal community. With one casual suggestion at the end of one nondescript blog post, he's got everyone talking about things that make them happy. He's got them making each other happy! It's like telling the Montagues and Capulets to count their blessings; would you really expect that to turn them into FRIENDS who AGREE with each other?? Well, apparently it would, if Chico were the one to ask.

Posted by: breezy summer day | July 28, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

can you please do a story on the ticketing scam the nats are running on us??? i just tried to get some tickets for tomorrow night and the upper outfield gallery and upper right field terrace are "unavailable" but not sold out. the operated suggested i check back and more might be made available. what the hell is this? witholding the cheap tickets and forcing us to buy the outrageously over priced 38 dollar tickets. this is horrible

Posted by: love | July 28, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Happy about:

This year's Nats have four pitchers with at least 15 starts, who could end up with 150 innings pitched on the season. Last year's #2 dude in IP had 115. For all the natsluck we've seen on position players, isn't this reliability among pitchers (supposed to be fragile) somewhat shocking?

It's also allowed our young minor-league phenoms (phena?) to remain phena, to hone their craft in the lower levels rather than get knocked around in spot starts and tarnish their shine a little bit.

I'm already picturing the SI cover in late 2012, featuring our stars. Caption: Zimmermen(n)!

In honor of SlowPitch's show tunes, let's play two -- with jazz hands!

Posted by: Scooter | July 28, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

DSL Team?

When did Bowden sign up Angelina Jolie?

Posted by: Corey | July 28, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm happy to see Flores now firmly entrenched as our catcher of the present, not just our catcher of the future.

G/BA/OBP/SLG/HR
2007: 79/.244/.310/.361/4
2008: 63/.279/.330/.448/6

He also already has more hits(56), 2B(14), 3B(1) and nearly as many BB(13) as last season. Honestly, I'd have been pleased if this was his 2009 line.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 28, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

This is a great idea. I wish I could buy into it but I'm having trouble - call me the eternal pessimist. However, to be a team player, I'll submit a few warm-and-fuzzies.

Charlie and Dave - thank all the radio gods for their broadcasts

My adaptable cat has listened to (or put up with) 4 years of baseball broadcasts and hasn't run away when I shout in disgust or joy.

Some continued excellent starting pitching of late. Especially efforts by Redding, Lannan, Bergmann.

What Chico said at the bottom of the Notebook this AM: our relievers haven't given up a run in 7 innings. That's something to be glad about.

The Sox socked it to the Yankees last night.

Posted by: samantha7 | July 28, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

That was some road trip that Bucky Harris' Nats took back in 1924 - they went 17-8 on a trip where they were on the road from May 30 thru June 21, played a singe home game against the A's (of Philadelphia) and then went to NY and took 4 from the Yanks.

MAY 30-31, @BOS, 2W-1L
JUNE 2, @PHI, 1W-0L
JUNE 3-6, @DET, 3W-1L
JUNE 7-10, @CLE, 0W-4L
JUNE 11-14, @STL, 3W-0L
JUNE 15-18, @CHA, 2W-2L
JUNE 20-21, @PHI, 2W-0L
JUNE 22, PHI @ WAS, 1W-0L
JUNE 23-25, @NYA, 4W-0L

How's that? On the road from May 30-June 25, with a 1 day stop at home.

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | July 28, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I love that St. Louis was considered going out west...

Posted by: MO Nats Fan | July 28, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure what's going on with the Nats ticketing, but the $10 seats "are not available at this time" - I doubt that that price level has sold out - but given that it is Philadelphia and there could be more than a few bus trips running, I wouldn't rule it out completely.

However, I did note that I was able to get 4 together in the Upper Infield Gallery at $18 apiece. Which is a good bit cheaper than the $38 Mezzanine seats quoted earlier.

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | July 28, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I am happy about this, from Baseball Prospectus:

Emilio Bonifacio, 2B, Triple-A Columbus (Nationals)
Many in the industry were surprised that Bonifacio was all that the Nationals received in return for reliever Jon Rauch. He was hitting .302/.348/.387 at Triple-A Tuscon at the time of the swap, and his skill set had seen little evolution over the past three years. He is what he is--an absolute burner with little or no power (nor the projection for any), who lacks the plate discipline to hit at the top of the order or the arm to play on the left side of the infield. Nonetheless, he's making a good first impression with his new team, going 10-for-16 with seven runs scored and three walks in his first four games. He's not great, but he's better than Felipe Lopez.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | July 28, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I am also happy having read a BA chat in which Jim Callis figured that Alan (?)Dykstra would be the only 1st rounder not to sign from the draft. He also figured few other draftees would fail to sign.

Bring on Crow!

Posted by: Positively Half St. | July 28, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I like the "Welcome Home" party idea, Sbrent!

Also, I'm laughing at the image of the reactions of samantha7's cat.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 28, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

St. Louis and Chicago ARE out west - ever try taking a train out there? And not just any train - I'll bet the trains in the '20s stopped at just about every 'ville and 'berg along the way, too.

Amazing that they were gone for basically the entire month of June, though - it was such a different game then. Now, even the "West Coast swings" only have you (thankfully) playing six games out there.

Posted by: Highway 295 Revisited | July 28, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

joNAThan - congrats!

I'm happy that my workplace doesn't block WAPO.

I'm happy that my boss does not monitor this site. :)

Posted by: SF Fan | July 28, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm happy for joNAThan and his betrothed! Shankar Vedantam did an article a while back in the WaPo on psychological experiments involving calendars. The participants were free to choose a calendar, or remain in a state of indecision. The results elegantly proved that those who committed, no matter what the particular choice of calendar, were much happier than the undecided. When the psychologist saw the results he went home and asked his girlfriend to marry him. They have lived happily ever after, and such is our wish for you, joNAThan! If you just print the directions to the wedding we'll show up with the Pitchf/x van and have Nats games broadcasting through the ceremony and honeywoon. But that may be too somber an entertainment for such an occassion and such a post.

Posted by: flynnie | July 28, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse

The run differential during the last 21 games doesn't make me feel better at all. So we had a couple of blowout games. Big deal. We need to start winning the close ones, at least some of the time, and we have to stop being shut out.

I'm happy that Dukes is coming back, but I think we've elevated him to demi-god status around here, grasping at the straws of a few weeks of solid performance. He needs to prove himself over a longer term before I start counting on him to be the nucleus of a potentially .500 club.

Ok, sorry, I'm supposed to be upbeat in this comment. I still love going out to Nats Park, and I look forward to seeing the area around it develop year after year into a vibrant part of the city.

I'm happy our starting pitching staff has surprised everyone and shows such promise.

I'm glad that Jesus Flores got the chance to show that he deserves to be our starting catcher rather than getting more seasoning in Columbus while aged has-beens ineffectively swing the bat here.

I'm still happy to be one of the 9,000 even though the announcers (except for Phil Wood, bless his heart) are too relentlessly upbeat because Don Sutton can still teach me something about pitching, Ray Knight can still teach me something about hitting, and Johnny Holiday is a class act.

Finally, I'm happy that both Jim Bowden and Lenny Harris don't have their jobs permanently.

Posted by: Section 222 | July 28, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

The Lerners banked on the new stadium and a mediocre club to get them thru this season.

Injuries have decimated a low budget club that was not expected to contend.

One thing that really bothers me is the "Premium" philosphy of this ownership. Premium seats, premium dates... No more ordinary man sitting in box seats. Its all about "Presidential seats and Club Seats".

I actually have felt like the attitude of the Club was elitist as it related to marketing, but certainly not in terms of fielding a team.

Posted by: Bill of Goods | July 28, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

JoNATthan,very best wishes to you for your marriage and new life together - hope your intended likes baseball!
(Hope the destination is something like Japan - they have a strong season going on now ;-)

Posted by: Traveler | July 28, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

I live in LA and usually watch the NATS on Direct TV. But Sunday I watched the game called by Vince Scully on Dodger TV. Vin used the game to teach the fans why a team would be in last place. He highlighted every mistake the NATS made and there were many. It was very depressing for a NATS fan, I hope they get better before they return here.

Posted by: In LA | July 28, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm happy that there is a team here. I will always be happy about that. You can ask me in 30 years and I'll still be happy that we finally got our team back again. And that the pitchers have to bat in this league. And that they use wooden bats, although it would be nice to see them figure out how to keep them from breaking.

I'll rant some other day about the $38 tickets.

Posted by: jonb | July 28, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I am happy for a forum like NJ, which IS baseball sports-talk radio in Washington. I am also happy for Father Flynniegan, whose unwavering optimism makes it a lot easier to be a fan of this team.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 28, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

i am grateful for charlie and dave, so i don't have to listen to the shilling on MASN. i will be even more grateful when jim bowden is fired live on the scoreboard before the final home game. i second the kudos for padre flynnie.

Posted by: natsscribe | July 28, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

I'll third the gratitude for flynnie.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 28, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I'm happy, but I also think the Nats should bring in Barry Bonds. Not as a player, but as hitting coach. And even if it doesn't work out, he's a heck of a lot better than Lenny Harris. (I'm still scratching my head as to why the Nats hired him in the first place, in any capacity)

Posted by: Sal | July 28, 2008 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I'm happy, but I also think the Nats should bring in Barry Bonds. Not as a player, but as hitting coach. And even if it doesn't work out, he's a heck of a lot better than Lenny Harris. (I'm still scratching my head as to why the Nats hired him in the first place, in any capacity)

Posted by: Sal | July 28, 2008 8:54 PM | Report abuse

from ESPN's rumor zone:

Cordero could return to Washington
Chad Cordero | Nationals
According to the Washington Post, general manager Jim Bowden and closer Chad Cordero have talked about the unexpected decision to non-tender the reliever at the end of the season, and Cordero seems satisfied with Bowden's apology regarding the way the situation was handled.

There is a good chance Cordero will accept an incentive-filled deal and return to the Nationals in 2009. "I'm still upset about how it happened and all that, but I'm not going to let that bother me at all, said Cordero. "I have a lot of friends here on the team, and I really wouldn't like to be taken away from them."

Posted by: 231 | July 28, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

just because you can *hit* doesn't mean you can *teach* hitting. sports are littered with "star" players who can play but couldn't teach anyone else. and my guess, from what i've seen about who barry is, he probably won't be a good teacher.

Posted by: 231 | July 28, 2008 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Vin Scully also introduced us to new Nationals players Lasting Milledge, Brian Zimmerman, and Charlie Manuel. Good times.

Posted by: in LA, too | July 28, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

just because you can *hit* doesn't mean you can *teach* hitting. sports are littered with "star" players who can play but couldn't teach anyone else. and my guess, from what i've seen about who barry is, he probably won't be a good teacher.

Posted by: 231 | July 28, 2008 9:05 PM

Who are you to say that? Bonds displayed great patience throughout his career, was a prolific baserunner, hit for average, hit for power, consistently had well-thought-out at-bats... I mean the guy was the definition of a five-tool-player early in his career.

Posted by: Sal | July 28, 2008 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Somebody want to break it to Sal about Teddy Ballgame?

Posted by: Sec. 3 | July 28, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I am happy that this week I can return to Nationals Park and watch 2-3 more games there. Happy that I have the ability in life to buy those tickets, buy my Pretzel Dog, buy my coke or beer, maybe buy a new Nats shirt, and sit and watch my boys play baseball. Happy that for a few hours, a few days this week I can **not** think about work, war, life, or sadness. And on each day, whether those boys win or lose on the field, I'll cheer them on, and I'll be happy to have been entertained watching baseball on a summer night.

Posted by: RT4 NATS | July 28, 2008 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, the good teachers are almost always people who did NOT have an abundance of talent, so they HAD to deconstruct the process and get every last bit of production they could, because they had NO margin. The Crash Davises, not the Pudges.

Posted by: CE | July 28, 2008 9:46 PM | Report abuse

I am happy that this week I can return to Nationals Park and watch 2-3 more games there. Happy that I have the ability in life to buy those tickets, buy my Pretzel Dog, buy my coke or beer, maybe buy a new Nats shirt, and sit and watch my boys play baseball. Happy that for a few hours, a few days this week I can **not** think about work, war, life, or sadness. And on each day, whether those boys win or lose on the field, I'll cheer them on, and I'll be happy to have been entertained watching baseball on a summer night.

Posted by: RT4 NATS | July 28, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Think of the best managers--use your own list. How many of them were great ballplayers?

Posted by: CE | July 28, 2008 9:50 PM | Report abuse

And even if Barry didn't give every indication of being self-absorbed, he's a little distracted these days, I'm thinking. That said, I'm guessing he's gotten a lot more affordable in the last six months, and there's obviously no one to bid the price up. I'd sign him.

Posted by: CE | July 28, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

And I would hire a scout, someone good, maybe someone from the MacArthur Foundation, just to "headhunt" a short list of unknown hitting coaches.

Posted by: CEvans | July 28, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

CE - the problem with that is most great players have longer careers so they wouldn't be able to start managing until they were much older, thus limiting their window for success.

Posted by: estuartj | July 28, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

and why would you say he *WOULD* be a good coach? by the logic you gave, we should have the best pinch hitters in baseball, since lenny harris was one of the better career pinch hitters.

let me reiterate.

(a) all sports, not just baseball, are littered with former stars who tried to become coaches/managers and failed. usually because they succeeded more on talent than learned skill. regardless, even if they had both, being able to learn doesn't equate to being able to teach.

(b) barry bonds is regarded as, at best, a mediocre teammate and a not-so-good person. neither of those personal qualities would lend themselves to being a good teacher.

that's just how it is. could bonds prove us wrong and you right? it's possible. would it be a good bet in vegas? well... let's just say the odds would give you a much better payout should you be right than it would the rest of us if we were right.

Posted by: 231 | July 28, 2008 10:08 PM | Report abuse

except you can play into your 40s if you're good AND lucky, but manage into your 70s, and many managers are former non-HOF players who still had long careers, so I don't agree.

Posted by: CE | July 28, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

OTOH, if managing is a learned skill (I think it must be), then anyone, great or not, who starts in their 40s, would have to have a fairly steep learning curve to get to MLB on their merits, whereas a great player (e.g., Frank) might get a job out of that familiarity.

*********
CE - the problem with that is most great players have longer careers so they wouldn't be able to start managing until they were much older, thus limiting their window for success.

Posted by: estuartj | July 28, 2008 10:03 PM

Posted by: CE | July 28, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and I'm still thrilled to have gotten dissed by Frank Robinson!!! at a fan event. "Frank Robinson just brushed me off, did you see that!!"
Ironic and naive at the same time. I love it.

Posted by: CE | July 28, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

how many players got managing jobs the way frank did? and how many were successful? just curious, i don't remember many.

Posted by: 231 | July 28, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

@231 - my point exactly. Ted Williams. Billy Martin, maybe. Joe Torre had a good career, but wasn't in that class. Likewise Don Baylor, maybe. We could go back to guys like Rogers Hornsby.

Posted by: ce | July 28, 2008 10:22 PM | Report abuse

But Teddy was a good hitting coach. Under him the overall team hitting improved--Eddie Brinkman and Mike Epstein were particularly successful projects--while the solid pitching developed during the Gil Hodges era deteriorated somewhat. While playing, Teddy was famous for dispensing batting tips to members of the opposition. (Sounds like Chipper is carrying on the tradition to some extent, as his advice to Langerhans helped the latter at least temporarily out of his multiyear slump.)

No doubt in my mind that Bonds would make a great batting coach IF he set his mind to it. That last little condition unfortunately is the reason most wealthy superstars don't become good coaches or managers: they don't need the job and hence are unwilling to develop the patience required to work with those less talented.

Posted by: CapPeterson | July 28, 2008 10:24 PM | Report abuse

But the great ballplayers were almost never good managers. Billie Martin was exactly the kind of guy who would be on the stuff in later generations, the tough, whatever it takes guys.
Pete Rose wasn't a good manager. Ty Cobb wasn't a good manager. Ernie Banks, a genuinely nice guy, who probably could have had a job if he'd wanted it, didn't. Most good players never bothered. I wonder if that's because they had more lucrative careers (as opposed to the longer ones 231 mentioned), and the marginal guys in the old days HAD to manage because they had mortgages and kids?

Posted by: CE | July 28, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

i disagree that the fact that they don't need the job is why they aren't good at it. i think they aren't good at it because being successful at doing doesn't equate to being successful at teaching. they're completely different skills.

Posted by: 231 | July 28, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Cap, you beat me to my point, darn it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 28, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

they are different skills, yes. not mutually exclusive, though.

Posted by: ce | July 28, 2008 10:31 PM | Report abuse

CORRECTION -- it was estuartj, not 231, who suggested great players might not manage as much because they tend to have longer careers.
CE regrets the error.

Posted by: referring to himself in the 3rd person now, is he? | July 28, 2008 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Yes, different but not mutually exclusive skills. I think the link is the ability to analyze. Seems like most good hitters are analytical--watching video, keeping notebooks, etc. That's the first step on the way to being able to communicate that information to someone else. Let's say for the sake of argument that Vladimir Guerrero is a completely instinctive hitter. He would not be a good candidate for hitting coach. But most other good hitters would be--IF they truly wanted to impart their hard-earned knowledge to others.

Posted by: CapPeterson | July 28, 2008 10:42 PM | Report abuse

In our sun-down perambulations of late through the outer parts of Brooklyn, we have observed several parties of youngsters playing 'base,' a certain game of ball. We wish such sights were more common among us. Let us go forth a while, get better air in our lungs. The game of ball is glorious!

Posted by: Walt Whitman (1846) | July 28, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

i never said they were mutually exclusive. what i said was having one skill was not necessarily an indicator of having the other. and that's what sal was saying (or implying), that since bonds was a great hitter, he'd be a good hitting coach, which i disagree with.

to be a good hitting coach, you need to be a good teacher. it doesn't hurt to have had great skills in being a great teacher, even if just for instant respect purposes. but it definitely doesn't make you a good teacher. as you agreed, it's a different skill.

so unless we have some reason to believe bonds is a good teacher, i see no reason to suggest he would be a good hitting coach. it wouldn't bother me at all to be proven wrong, but i have yet to see any evidence (or even suggestions/hints by other coaches/managers/players) that barry would be a good teacher.

Posted by: 231 | July 28, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

not just if they *want* to, but if they *can.* teaching is both a talent and a skill. desire does not make a good teacher.

Posted by: 231 | July 28, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

I think it's fairly well documented that Bonds is relatively intellectual about hitting, although I agree he doesn't seem the type to share much, and wouldn't be a good coach on that account.

But I'll let Walt have the last word tonight.

Posted by: ce | July 28, 2008 10:48 PM | Report abuse

OH --- here's one: Will Clark. The guy could roll out of bed and hit line drives, and he was apparently a tape fanatic. Not everyone's favorite teammate, though. What's he doing these days?

Posted by: Ce | July 28, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

"Walt Whitman" ?? What does that mean, "Walt Whitman"?

Posted by: Crash | July 28, 2008 10:53 PM | Report abuse

231, I think we're saying the same thing. Bonds clearly has a great grasp of hitting but as far as we know has no track record--unlike Williams or C. Jones--of imparting that knowledge to anybody else. I still maintain in a purely theoretical way that he could learn to be a good teacher--if his life or livelihood depended on it--but I agree that that's no reason to offer him the job of Nats' hitting coach.

But at the same time there must be someone better than Lenny Harris out there...

Posted by: CapPeterson | July 28, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, 231, I think we all get it. A hitting coach needs to possess the skill to be a good teacher.

But I don't think it's fair to say that Bonds isn't or could not be a good teacher based purely on his personality towards the media and certain teammates. Your guess is as good as mine.

Posted by: Sal | July 28, 2008 11:15 PM | Report abuse

And by the way, for the person who used Crash Davis as an example of a so-so hitter who turned out to be a good hitting coach--

first of all, he never helped anyone with their hitting, and secondly, he broke the all-time minor league home run record. I believe Barry acheived a similar accomplishment recently.

Posted by: Sal | July 28, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

and it isn't fair to say he'd be a *good* hitting coach based on his hitting acumen, which was my point. it's all about being able to teach. nothing anyone has said about him leads me to believe he would be able to do that. and i wouldn't support him being brought in to do that w/o some evidence that he could actually teach hitting.

and i can totally say that w/o supporting lenny harris. but replacing one unsuccessful hitting coach with a guy you don't have confidence would be a good hitting coach doesn't make sense to me. i suspect there are better candidates out there. let's not get caught up in the dan snyder school on this.

Posted by: 231 | July 28, 2008 11:35 PM | Report abuse

btw, i think the 'crash davis' example was more talking about the type of guy who becomes a good coach. the guy who has to work his a$$ off to make it anywhere and who has to learn all of the little things about the game because he can't succeed on pure skill.

i think we all know that crash davis was a fictional character and never was a hitting coach. ;)

Posted by: 231 | July 28, 2008 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Hey, remember the purpose of this post? Let's get back on track, people.

Posted by: Missing the point | July 28, 2008 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Now, I don't know if Crash Davis would be a good coach. I mean, he helped Nuke La Loosh get his head straight basically. He took a hard stance with him, the kind that a teammate could, but a coach could not. As a coach, I think he would alienate a few of his players. Also, he never offered hitting advice to his teammates. But this is beside the point. Of course, he was a fictional character.

Posted by: Sal | July 29, 2008 12:00 AM | Report abuse

what i like about the povich era's sportswriting is the relentless search for synonyms.

for "the large lefty pitched quickly," read "the portly portsider twirled the spheroid with urgent haste," etc.

not that povich was overly guilty, he was actually pretty clear most of the time.

so he goes and does all that great work and his descendant turns out to be a visual polluter, a public nuisance, an intellectual void in the midst of a vast wasteland, etc.

oh well. sometimes what goes around doesn't come around.

Posted by: natty bumppo | July 29, 2008 2:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm happy that the Barry Bonds will be within the Nats budget as hitting coach when he's on work release! And he can tidy up the park afterwards!

Posted by: flynnie | July 29, 2008 2:17 AM | Report abuse

Will the real Crash Davis please stand up?

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A00E3DB1639F937A3575AC0A9679C8B63&n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/Subjects/B/Baseball

Posted by: Crash Davis | July 29, 2008 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Those who can't do, teach.

Those who can't teach, teach gym.

Those who can't hit, coach hitting.

Those who can't pitch, coach pitching.

Those who can't coach pitching or hitting, manage.

Those who can't manage, general manage.

Those who can't general manage, own teams.

Those who can't own teams, become commissioner and f*** up the entire sport.

Hey, it worked for me...

Posted by: Bud Selig | July 29, 2008 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Sorry to be chiming in late on this.

To figure out whether Barry Bonds would be a good hitting coach, one needs to define the characteristics of a good teacher. Think about your most inspiring teacher. What were his/her attributes? I'd list mine in reverse order of importance as:

1. Thorough knowledge of subject matter.
2. Work and personal habits that I could respect.
3. Ability to explain clearly the keys points in understanding the subject area.
4. Ability to analyze my strengths and weaknesses and give meaningful feedback.
5. Empathy.

My knowledge on Bonds for most of these is nil. He certainly would score well on #1 - the least important. On #2 I wonder if he would lose respect because of his steroid use. It's hard to know how MLB players would feel about that. On #'s 3 and 4, I have no idea. On #5, he's never struck me as very empathetic. In fact he seems like a very self-centered person. I think that's why most great players don't make good coaches. To be at the top in sports, you need to be very selfish. It's one of the most egotistical occupations in the world.

Posted by: #4 | July 29, 2008 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Can Adam Dunn play 1st?

Posted by: Broncos7 | July 29, 2008 8:17 AM | Report abuse

If so....How does this look for next year?

Bonafacio 4
Guzman 6
Zimmerman 5
Dunn 3
Dukes 7
Flores 2
Milledge 8
Kearns 9
Lanan 1

Posted by: Broncos7 | July 29, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

How much will Dunn cost? Add that to the $10 million combined total owed to Johnson and Young and you have a boat load of cash being used to play 1B poorly.

Posted by: estuartj | July 29, 2008 8:31 AM | Report abuse

yes, dunn plays first as well as OF.

Posted by: 231 | July 29, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

to be fair, only 66% poorly. NJ is a very good defensive 1B.

Posted by: 231 | July 29, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

New post.

Posted by: Happy Gilmore | July 29, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

We all know how much Trader Jim loves Dunn, we need SOMEONE to put some HR hitting power in our lineup....also gives Zimm a chance to see better pitches....Frankly I think DYoung has played his last game as a National...

Posted by: Broncos7 | July 29, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Also reuniting the Dunn/Kearns combo might light a fire under our right fielder...

As Michael Keaton's batman says....."he's out there, and I gotta go to work"....

Maybe JB is on this same page??

Posted by: Broncos7 | July 29, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Corey,

I don't think anyone got your DSL joke.

I always thought Ananda Lewis would been great on the DSL team

Posted by: BigQ | July 29, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

You all have to be kidding about Dunn. He of the .230 average and lots of strikeouts - yeah that'll light a fire under Kearns and the rest of the team. It should be good for about 3 extra wins and a big bloated salary that'll provide the clowns in management with another reason to cry poverty. Another thing to face is there is no magic bullet and no FA signing is going to provide the help needed to get back to consistency. It'll be a slow process, and it may not work out the way everyone wants. It'll take smart decisions, scouting, coaching, everything. My biggest problem with all of that obvious crap is the very open question as to the competentcy of the current brain trust.
Also, enough about Bonafacio - he has done nothing at the ML level. Don't rush him like Bernadina, who was utterly lost during his call-up.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 29, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Tying into Manny's love of "Law & Order": I'm happy that when the umpires are introduced at Nats Park, they play the L&O theme song. :-)

Posted by: Pattie | July 29, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Muddy, Firpo, Peck, Joe Judge, Goose, Sam Rice, Big Train and Bucky. Now that was a club.

Posted by: 6th and D | July 29, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm happy that I got to grow up reading Shirley Povich (and very much appreciate Chico being interested in the man; it's part of why our guy is such a pleasure to read, too.) I'm happy that people remember "Damn Yankees'' (there's a revival in NYC now) and I hope they remember that's where "(You Gotta Have) Heart'' came from. Thank you, Douglass Wallop -- U. of Md. -- Go, Terps! And I'm happy that DC is the only place other than Beantown that can lay any claim to Teddy Ballgame.

Posted by: Nats24 | July 29, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: ламинат | August 12, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

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