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An Interview With Manny Acta

Deearest NJers,

Thank you so much for both the kind words and the suggestions. It's a challenge, of course, to jump into a beat midseason, and I know I took my lumps this year. Plus, Barry didn't just leave behind big shoes to fill; he left behind size 16 Timberland boots. By no means am I satisfied, even the slightest, by my coverage from Year 1. The day-to-day detailing is fine and dandy -- if done well, every article provides an incremental part of the narrative, and adds to the mass of insight -- but the key now is adding more enterprise.

There are no great revelations here about how to make newspapers relevant, or even essential, but I cling to one belief: People should be able to open papers most days and find something they didn't know. Something... non-obvious. I believe in the power of unpredictability and insight.

Real enterprise stories -- the kind that require time-consuming reporting, and, in the end, provide a deeper understanding of the subject matter, be it a person or moment or trend -- need to become a more frequent part of the Nationals coverage. And they will.

Now, switching gears (but hopefully sticking with the plan for insight), I wanted to post below my season-ending interview with Manny Acta. I conducted this at the very end of last week. This is word-for-word...

---

Q: Looking back on this season, how do you evaluate yourself?

That's tough for me, because I don't like to evaluate myself. I let other people do that. But I have no regrets, and I did everything possible to stay upbeat and I did everything I could to win every single game. At the end, everybody is going to be judged by Ws and Ls. But I'm satisfied and have no regrets of how I managed the season

Q: Lessons from the losing?

These two seasons have helped me a great deal, because the fact that we had to deal with rebuilding or building here and being the underdog for two years in a row has forced me to manage every single game (he pounds the table in his manager's office, for emphasis). Every single game that I have won here, I've had to manage. I've never showed up to work here knowing for sure that I can win and I can just sit in the dugout and cross my arms, not do anything and still win the ballgame. So it's been a tremendous experience for me. Manage. To win ballgames. Having to do stuff -- prepare myself really hard on an everyday, every series kind of basis. Just getting the best out of what I have.

Q: What about dealing with the players who are coming in here every day and losing; that's different than managing the talent that's on the field. What was the approach this year you tried to take with that?

I tried to keep the same attitude everyday, and I tried to pass it on to as many guys as I can. Some guys need more work than others, but I had it, and I tried to pass it along and what I'm most happy about is, most of the core guys, they don't get down on themselves, and I can see they understand what we're going through. They stay upbeat and positive. I mean, I don't have to brainwash Ryan Zimmerman when I see how he feels and how he thinks, and some of the other guys. And I'm happy with that. Because a guy like him, who's tapped as the face of this franchise, could let a lot out -- namely, frustration, unhappiness, discomfort or whatever -- and he wants to win just like me. But, just talking to him and reading what he tells you guys, I see the right kind of attitude.

Q: Some people see you and say, you keep the highs and lows to a minimum. And that can be interpreted as - well, there's no emotion at all. Fair criticism?

Everybody is entitled to their opinion. But if I would have been a loose cannon here, then I would have had a lot of criticism, too, for being a loose cannon. I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to keep everybody happy and... I have done a lot of research when it comes to coaching and stuff, and players want somebody who can inspire in them calmness, security, and that's what I try to do. I try to let my guys know that everything is under control, and we're going to be fine. If I start jumping up and throwing stuff around when things are not going good, they're going to see right through me. And you can see it by looking at some of the other coaches who have been fired: 'Well, he's a nervous wreck.' So, nothing is going to change me. I'm not going to change because of people's perceptions. This is who I am. This is what I think is going to work, and this is what has worked for me, and I'm not going to change just because a few people think I should be yelling and throwing stuff around and screaming. I know when I'm happy, and when I'm not happy, I let them know that. I just don't have to let them know in front of the cameras.

Q: I'll relay one criticism I've heard: That this season, you've oftentimes been more isolated than you were in the past. There's not enough interaction between you and the players.

I haven't done anything different. I don't think I've done anything different. People outside looking in, it's easier to say that. But I haven't done anything different than I've done in the past. At all. And that's where bad characters come out, when things are not going well. I have no regrets, and I'm not going to change. I give players space. I let them have their own space. I don't need to be in their locker room all day and in their faces. I need to give them space. That's why I draw a line. I have a good atmosphere for them over here, and they respect me and I respect them. I don't need to be hanging out with them all of the time. They know that I'm behind them. And that's all I care about. I really could care less about what other people think about me. I'm dead serious.

Q: I wanted to hear your own philosophy on that.

I can have 1,000 opinions about you, whoever thinks of that. Because everybody has the right to an opinion. But that's not gonna change me. Now is that the reason why this season has gone the way it's gone? The day I feel that I'm the reason things are not going right here, I'm a high-character guy whose money doesn't make him happy; I'll be the first to recognize that and help with the problem.

Q: Looking at the clubhouse -- beginning of the year to now, has there been a change in the character here, and do you feel better about the composition of things?

I do. I think everybody was able to tell the difference. We needed some new blood in here, some hungry young guys like we have gotten, and things have gotten better. Listen, not one clubhouse in the big leagues is perfect. You can never put together 25 high-character guys. You're always going to find a couple of guys who need more work than the other ones when it comes down to shaping their attitude and how they approach their job. But we're moving in the right direction.

Q: Were there too many bad characters on this team at the beginning of the year, do you think?

Umm... I think so. I think so. I think when you're building, like we're doing here, I think you need more high-character guys than what we had at the beginning of the season. Without naming any guys.

Q: Organizationally, lesson learned maybe?

Yes. I think we have. I think we have.

Q: Jim brought you here. At this point, describe your relationship with him.

I have a good working relationship with Jim. He runs by me most of his ideas and stuff. We share information. And he knows that I'll tell him what I think about everything he asks me. I'm not going to tell him what he wants to hear, and we respect each other because of that. I have no problem with Jim running this team.

Q: You guys do have different baseball philosophies.

Which are?

Q: Well, I think Jim... Well, just an example. He can talk for 10 minutes about, say, why Jesus Flores he'd rather have up in the clutch than Alex Rodriguez. Whereas I've heard you say the opposite. You're much more a believer in the numbers, and I think Jim sees emotion, make-up, as a central part of how you measure a player. And you have it more data-based. I'm not saying the two cannot coexist, but do you see a philosophical difference? (*)

Every mind is a different world. Every mind doesn't have to think the same way as the next. I don't have one way to do things. I'm a combination of whatever I think is going to get it done. It's not only about stats. But you're not going to change that in the world. Everybody has a different DNA; everybody has a different way to think about things and do things. The bottom line is, you can only change my mind if you 100-percent convince me that you're right. And then I can change. But I wasn't brought over here because I was like Jim. I don't think that was his intention. I was brought over here to manage this baseball team, get the best out of these young kids and make them better. Not to agree with everybody here from top to bottom.

Q: Hopes for the offseason?

Everybody can have a Christmas list, that's easy to do. But it's easier said than done, and we know it takes a lot of different scenarios to land what you need. It's not a secret that we do need two bats in our lineup that can produce without worrying who's surrounding them, and if you can't get two, one bat than can strike fear in the opposition. We do have some kids, because we're building, hitting in some spots they wouldn't be (normally) in the lineup. We need, to me, a couple of pitchers for our starting rotation so finally we can develop our younger guys. You don't want to develop five guys in the big leagues, because you don't want to show up every day not knowing what you're gonna get. I think we need a front line guy and a No. 2 guy, and then fill out the rotation.

Q: On personnel decisions, do you have a lot of input?

My job is to manage this team, but they ask my opinion and I give them my opinion. But everybody has a job to do here. I'm not here to be the president, the GM and the clubhouse guy and the trainer. I'm just the manager over here, and I'm trying to make the best of what we have. Jim has a good open line of communication with me, and we communicate daily, and I give him my opinion when I have to give it to him. But you know, the personnel decisions, that is not my job.

Q: Does he give input into the daily composition of the lineup?

No, absolutely not. Anywhere I work, the day anybody has to tell me who to play, I'd rather not work. He doesn't do any of that stuff. Not at all. No, not at all.

Q: So, day to day, your communication is what?

He knows everything that is going on. We have reports to him from the trainers on everybody who is injured. And he knows everything that is going on. If there is something that needs to be addressed, he knows about it. But every day, I have my job to do and he has his job to do.

Q: Has this year taken a toll on your relationship with him?

I don't think ... how can I put it? I don't think my relationship has changed at all from Day One. Because we have a strictly professional relationship. I don't go for the holidays to his house, and he doesn't come for the holidays to mine. We have a strictly professional relationship. But we haven't done anything different, me and him, than we did last year.

Q: Professional relationship: Healthy? Not healthy?

Healthy. I have a job to do here. He has a job to do here. You know, it would have come out. I don't think we've done anything different than we've done last year. It's a strictly professional relationship. That's what we have. I couldn't find the words quite to describe it. But it's been the same. It's baseball stuff.

---

(*) When I posed a similar question to Bowden, he quite convincingly talked me down from the central idea here -- namely, that he looks at the numerical data less than his manager. He told me about the systems he relies on to measure players, etc., so perhaps I was making an erroneous, cognitive leap with this question. Just because he's an emotional guy, and just because he puts more weight on "intangibles" that does his manager, doesn't mean he neglects the raw data. Just want to be clear on that.

Also, he'd probably prefer A-Rod to be up with the bases loaded than Jesus Flores. But he would rather have Kevin Mitchell up than A-Rod.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 30, 2008; 9:40 AM ET
 
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Next: "They Tried To Bully Me"

Comments

the problem i have with manny acta as manager of the nationals is that his style is way too conservative for the talent on hand. mjanny manages like he has three 30 HR guys in the middle of his lineup and can sit back and wait for big innings that never come. with guys like zimmerman, dukes, milledge as your "big" hitters manny needed to hit-and-run and generally put more runners in motion to create more offense instead of having his team succumb to the dreaded "one-base-at-a-time" disease. as for his handling of relief pitching, it's strictly the "CYA" method most mediocre managers follow to be able to say when things go bad that he was working to create ":matchups." i'm not privvy to the goings on in the clubhouse, but on the field there seemed to be more of a laissez-faire approach to disciplne and fundamentals than in 2007. manny has to tighten things up or he'll be the next one pitched from the deck of the s.s. lerner.

Posted by: natsscribe | September 30, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Great post, Chico. I like that Manny has done a lot of research into coaching, and people want calm and confidence. He's right, and it applies to managers in business, too.

"I think we need a front line guy and a No. 2 guy, and then fill out the rotation."

Goodbye, Odalis and Redding?

Posted by: flynnie | September 30, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

@ Brue - Great post. I just d0 not want to let our micro-managing billionaires off the hook and blame Manny for this season. Manny did what he could with what he had. Former Nats spread through the league like typhus and the teams that got them are out of the playoffs. E.g. Ayala blowing two saves that would have put the Mets in the playoffs. Rauch in Arizona.

Posted by: flynnie | September 30, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

"Johnson went down, and then Dimitri and then Boone. That's just 1st base. Catchers? Geez, can you say LoDuca and Estrada? 2nd Basemen? Lopez, Belliard, Orr."
__________________________________

Geez, even Miss Cleo could have told you that Johnson and Dimitri would be injured this year.

Catchers? What do you get when you take a broken down old guy off of HGH? A broken down old guy. What do you get when you make a 300lb guy crouch and stand up 200 times a game? A broken down fat guy.

2nd basemen? Why are you even discussing Pete Orr?

Posted by: 756* | September 30, 2008 9:19 AM

Sorry, I was new posted, but the basic gist is, how can we absolve Bowden of any blame regarding the injuries? When you fill the roster of high-risk or proven injury types, and injuries occur, then you are to blame.

Posted by: 756* | September 30, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I really like Manny, and here's one reason why:

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to keep everybody happy"

He has a poise and self-confidence that is usually found only very rarely and in the upper echelons of managers in baseball. It's an attitude that his young players could do very well by emulating.

Will it win? We'll have to find out. I would place my bet on yes.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

"When you fill the roster of high-risk or proven injury types, and injuries occur, then you are to blame."

This is completely true. We knew they were risks when we started this year. So were Milledge and Dukes. At the start of the year we had bet on Milledge and Johnson and against Young and Dukes (though for me it was Milledge and Young over Dukes and Johnson). Similarly, Perez and Harris were wins and Mackowiak and Estrada were losses.

Why don't you want to hold Bowden accountable for Perez, Harris, Milledge, and Dukes, 756*?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I agree with flynnie here. "Manny did what he could with what he had." He had almost nothing to work with. No big power bat, no real lefty bats, patch-work starting rotation (again), bullpen traded for more middle infielders, etc...

Just think, at the start of spring training, we thought the rotation would be Patterson, Hill, Redding, Perez, and Chico.

Posted by: 756* | September 30, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Flynnie--per your post in the last thread, where did Lerners thank the fans for the "exciting but exhausting season"? I haven't seen that.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 30, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I'd say it is impossible to read this interview and not feel respect for Acta's maturity, philosophy, and consistency.

When we criticize him, including when I criticize him, it's like criticizing a carpenter's work when you can plainly see the guy has no tools in his toolbox. Manny is coaching a team with very little talent.

When we pull through this, get a couple of key players and develop a couple more, then the hideous experience Acta had in 2008 will pay off for him and all of us. People and players will respect him even more for the courage and consistency he showed in the very, very rough times.

I have pushed my money to the pile, stood up, and declared myself "all in" for Manny Acta.

Posted by: WisdomVision | September 30, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I put this idea out a little late last time, but I think it's still relevant. Has anyone thought of WMP as a first baseman? His surgery holds the team hostage until next spring (if it works, we need him; if it didn't, he's useless), so can he be sent to winter ball somewhere, anywhere, to become at least as competent as Dmitri? He's a big enough target, he's light on his feet, and we certainly need a bat at first base.

Posted by: clarquito | September 30, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Why don't you want to hold Bowden accountable for Perez, Harris, Milledge, and Dukes, 756*?
_______________________________

Kudos Bowden for taking risks on the 4 players above. Thanks also for tying up $10M at first base and $6M at catcher for high-risk/injury-prone players. Also, thanks for acquiring such feared left-handed bats like Langerhans.

Posted by: 756* | September 30, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

So if we needed a catcher in March, who would you have picked? One of the many career backups bouncing around? Sure, you can argue that he shouldn't have made the trade for Milledge, but don't you think the Nats came out ahead in that deal? I mean, Schneider and Church are serviceable, but by no means "parts of the future."

This is what I don't get about all the Bowden-haters (and the Lerner haters) -- the free agents they want just aren't out there! Everyone wanted Livo -- good thing we didn't go for that. They wanted Zito. ibid. Sure, let's go get Texiera -- he's young, good, healthy. But if you do the math on it, the *very worst* free agents are the mid-level ones. Cheap ones are great (see Odalis Perez, Redding, Belliard), and the premium ones are worth every penny (Bonds and A-Rod put $25 million worth of fannies in the seats.) But $15 million x 4 years for a 3rd starter is a total waste of money.

Anyway, Bowden's an icky guy who seems like a doofus. I'll grant that, but realistically, what on earth could have done differently? In all the years of the "Bowden must go!!" rants, nobody has ever produced a good answer to that question.

Posted by: Bowden defender | September 30, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Here is my question....did Manny choose to play Lopez, Lo Duca, Estrada every day at the end of July. What that the best line up to win games? Did the line up he put on the field for the last game give us the best opportunity to win that game.

To me Acta comes off as disingenuous when he makes statements like "I tried to win every game and Jimbo never has input on the lineup.....If statements are true then and Acta put together the lineups in July and again in Sept....then he is not qualified to be a manager....It just does not add up....Clearly he did not try to win every game and clearly Jimbo had influence on the lineup.....Did Acta really think starting Willy Mo day after day and watching him strike out time after time was the best way to win a game. Did Acta really think Starting Estrada at Catcher in July 4 straight games was the best way to win those 4 games......Acta has no credibility.

Posted by: JayB | September 30, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Is the Twins/White Sox game really not on tv tonight? Seems like ESPN should bump the WSOP.

Posted by: 756* | September 30, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

For Each Livo there is a Kyle Lohse...for each Zito there is a Gil Mesche.....GM job is to pick the right ones.......Jimbo was wrong about spending money on Young, Johnson, Lo Duca, Estrada, Rob M, Lopez, Kearns, Pena, Patterson, Hill and Chad.....He was right about Harris, Billiard, and Guzman....Redding and Perez....I think it is a wash....those are some ugly ERA's....In the end the Won Lose is all that matters but GM Jim did not have a positive impact on the team when you look at the signing and money spent above.

Posted by: JayB | September 30, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I see something completely different in this interview. I see a spinmeister trying to make us think that what we just lived through was not a hurricane, but a gentle breeze that, coincidentally, had s few disasters accompany it.

Manny still does not get it. Bowden might get it, but his judgement is seriously flawed.

Get a first rate GM in town and let him decide about Manny. Any bets who will not be in the Nats dugout in 2009?

Go NATS!!! Lets get this turnaround started!

Posted by: AWWNats | September 30, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I was thinking about that too, JayB. The choices seem to be he's either lying or an idiot. Since neither seems to be the simplest solution, Friar William compels me to seek another.

This is one that I thought of: Acta proclaims himself a stats guy and statistically, Lopez, Estrada, and Lo Duca all should have done better than they did. Their career numbers were all significantly higher than Casto, et al., who they could have been replaced with. Manny played them using the statistical assumption that they would progress to the mean.

They didn't.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Great interview, Chico.

I'm fine with Manny's approach this past season. I like the fact that he's not a Lou Piniella-type manager.

And I REALLY like the idea of a healthy WMP at first base, clarquito. Hadn't thought of that until now. Anywhere but left field.

Posted by: Juan-John | September 30, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Here's the link to Fredericksburg's offseason Nats outlook feature. Worth the read:

http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2008/092008/09302008/414243

Nats Feature

Posted by: Natty Lite | September 30, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Manny is the man. Now, Jimbo needs to help him out and play Santa and give him some more talent to work with.

So, this begs the question, given the known free-agents that are out there (see MLBtraderumors.com for a list), who would you prefer Bowden and friends pursue?

Raul Ibanez, though old, might make be an interesting option. He can hit, he was productive in the middle of a horrible Seattle offense and could be a bridge to a younger talent in a year or two (ok, I have no idea who that might be, but who worries about the long term in this country anymore!).

Word on the street is that Randy Johnson might be a free agent as well. Would he be worth a one year contract?

Posted by: joNAThan | September 30, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Interesting thought on stat approach....but recall Estrada could not even throw back to the mound let alone to 2nd B......No in that small case Acta is a lying.....Jimbo asked/told him to play him in hopes of trading him....Lopez and Lo Duca were the same story but at least defensible with your return to the mean theory......Pena....Nope everyone could see he was clueless or hurt or both....Acta should have lost his job over that poor managing job in May.....but he could not because it was Jimbo pulling those strings....thus again Acta is not being honest with us it seems.

I would think if you are the manager of the worst team in baseball and you get to keep your job no matter what you do then you should at least be honest with your fans.

Posted by: JayB | September 30, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

756* The White Sox game is on TBS tonight.

Posted by: misschatter | September 30, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I think you're exaggerating a little bit on Pena, JayB. Acta had real experience with him in the previous season which seemed to confirm the optimistic view on Pena, that he simply had been mistreated. The numbers supported that playing every day, he did much better.

I feel like the evidence that that wasn't the case showed up earlier than Wily Mo stopped playing, though. Maybe if Willie Harris weren't playing every other position on the team, he would have been out earlier.

I can't justify Estrada. I don't think we can rule out simply being mistaken, entirely, but it's the weakest point in Theory C of Acta's moves.

Another theory to throw in the mix (Theory D): Acta was purposefully playing bad players because HE wanted to get rid of them, either by raising their values or exposing their weaknesses. This, of course, means he would be lying when he said he wanted to win every single game.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"Is the Twins/White Sox game really not on tv tonight? Seems like ESPN should bump the WSOP."

According to the On The Air section of the print Post's sports page this morning, the Twins-White Sox game tonight is on TBS.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 30, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the piece, Chico. As usual, I appreciate your giving us the full transcript. I also appreciate your being open to a give and take re. coverage (and you've taken quite a bit of, uh, commentary from us this year - rim shot).

Count me as still in the tank for Manny.

(last: typo alert on "Deearest")

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 30, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

clarquito, I can't imagine WMP as a competent first baseman. He's fast once he gets into his stride, but I don't think he's quick by any stretch of the imagination. There's a lot of WMP to get into gear. And you do need to be able to get down and field ground balls at first. Even Dmitri, who is no one's idea of a gold-glover, is reasonably good at handling what he can get to. Wily has zero games in the majors at first; you have to think there's a reason for that.

And WMP as a "bat"? In what universe? Oh, right -- Jimbo's bizarro universe where all ex-Reds are Hall of Famers who just need a chance to succeed.

Posted by: joebleux | September 30, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Do you take this attitude with everything, or just the Nats? It can't be healthy seeing absolutely everything as half-empty, so I hope it's just the Nats!
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Why don't you want to hold Bowden accountable for Perez, Harris, Milledge, and Dukes, 756*?
_______________________________

Kudos Bowden for taking risks on the 4 players above. Thanks also for tying up $10M at first base and $6M at catcher for high-risk/injury-prone players. Also, thanks for acquiring such feared left-handed bats like Langerhans.

Posted by: 756* | September 30, 2008 10:39 AM

Posted by: Section 138 | September 30, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

You are good at this 506......could be theory D and I am OK with Acta not trying to win every game on a team like this...he should be trying to develop long term solutions....but I do not like being lied to....don't tell me you tried to win every game........If you or I or even better ACTA looked at Pena in 2007 vs. 2008 it was so obvious it was not the same swing....He was not going to just one day get it and change his whole swing.......IF WMP was not hitting but having good swings then maybe your correct but the type of AB's he had time after time....nobody could be thinking he would work his way out of it.

Posted by: JayB | September 30, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

There is not a chance in hell Acta is lying about Jim telling him who to play. Read his answer again. Now, Acta isn't dumb and knows how baseball works. He had what he had and tried to use everything. He probably wanted those guys traded as badly as anyone else did. Acta is going through this rebuilding too and I'm sure wants it over with asap--to win and to keep his job. He's not dumb. Saying he's lying about one of most emphatic points kind of is.

Posted by: .390 | September 30, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I'm not really "good", just contrary by nature, JayB. Wait until the Nats are a good team, I will be Captain Negative about everything. I actually thought about starting a blog called "You're Wrong" one time, where I just argued against everything, but ultimately my crippling fear of using the wrong your derailed it. A similar fate met my blog tracking talking points, "They're You Go Again." C'est la vie!

I agree Pena's swing looked like obvious garbage this year. So it brings us back to the four theories, none of which seem to fit just right. Which one is really the simplest?

I guess there's also Theory E, Acta is just bad at making game decisions, however good he might be for player development.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Chico, just what we needed to hear from the "Manni-fold". Hey the guy tells it like it is, he's only the manager and can only do what he can with what he's got.

Now lets turn out attention to the Christmas list;

JimBo-the Florida Marlins have 17 players that are going to be arbitration eligable for 09. No way they can give substantial payraises to all 17. If you want young guys w/major league experience that have tons of upside I'd take a look.

First Base: Mike Jacobs (free swinger, but damn he can hit'em)

Outfield: Cody Ross (could be available for cheap, at least we know he can kill the Mets when need be)

Posted by: Tippy Canoe | September 30, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

You're/your funny, 506!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 30, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

"Do you take this attitude with everything, or just the Nats?"

With 59-win teams, half-empty stadiums, inexplicably low payrolls, do-nothing owners, Tim Redding, middle infielders, and 2-run top of the first innings.

Posted by: 756* | September 30, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I like your writing, Chico, and your commitment to your craft, and I look forward to more of your stuff.

When I read the posts here, and T. Boswell's most recent column, I must admit I don't understand the reactions to this past season. First off, outside of the premier teams in MLB (i.e., those with deep farm systems and deeper pockets), is there any team that could have been even mediocre with the injury tsunami we've had here? And the injuries were to key guys.

Maybe it's my age (I go back to NYC in the 50s, when there were three ballclubs there). I've learned to be patient with baseball teams, and to appreciate the building of a good foundation in the farm system. Our farm system looks promising, and the young players they've brought in give me a lot of hope.

Anyway, for me, win or lose, there's no place like the ballpark, and we've got a good one. I think everyone should take a deep breath, relax, and give Bowden, Acta, and the organization a little more time, though I'm going to start losing patience if the Lerners, who looked like the right kind of owners, start (or keep?) micromanaging. I've had enough of that with Steinbrenner and Angelos to last two lifetimes.

Finally, I second the motions of support for Manny. He's the right man for this job.

Posted by: seamhead37 | September 30, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Pay your rent Nationals. I'll sign up for another subscription of the plan if you pay your bills too.

Posted by: CapHill section 112 | September 30, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Nationals Park saw 2,320,400 in attendance numbers this year, 13th out of 16 in the National League.

Divided by the 80 games there, that's 29,005 averaged per game.

Nats Park has a seating capacity of 41,000, meaning, on average, the park has sold 70.7% of its seats a night.

That's 29.3% unpaid for seats.

And if you only care about the aesthetics of having people in the seats then your statement about a half-empty stadium is a non sequitur in your prognosis of doom.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

A void in left field, you say? Looking for an impact bat from the left side of the plate? Looking for an attendance boost? Come on, if he's not in jail, please give Barry a one-year deal.

Posted by: Chin Music | September 30, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Agree with one of JayB's earlier posts evaluating JimBow as GM. The latter has won some, lost some, but c'mon, given the ridiculously low budget he has to work with, what do you expect? Course the hate is understandable in one respect, the Segway-riding, leather pants-wearing doofus is an easy target, but stories beginning to leak out from Nats' Stadium show the real problems with this club start at the very top. A conspiracy theorist might even suspect that the Lerners are keeping JimBow around to deflect attention from them...
And speaking of deals that worked out OK, is it too soon to add the acquisition of the Attorney General to the list?

Posted by: CapPeterson | September 30, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

@Bowden defender--You didn't think a post from someone with that tag would go by without a reply from me did you? :-)

RE: "So if we needed a catcher in March, who would you have picked?"

There was no shortage of people out there saying last fall that Lo Duca and Estrada were over the hill wastes of time and money. Lots of people also were calling for Flores to be named the #1. As for other options, Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas, and Ramon Castro all outperformed PLod by a decent amount.

Is that hindsight 20/20? Sure. But don't tell me that it's impossible to do better than the worst record in baseball or spending $5 mil on a guy who ended up the 3rd stringer behind Matt Treanor and John Baker in Florida.

And BTW, as I recall the most popular idea in the Natmosphere at this time last season were signing FA Yorvit Torrealba or trading for AZ back-up Miguel Montero. Neither of those guys would have put us in the playoffs, but in hindsight I stand behind the collective wisdom of us idiot bloggers.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 30, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

AMEN..HALLELUJAH...POST OF THE YEAR...JAYB YOU NAILED IT...EVERYONE PLEASE PRINT THIS AND PASTE IT ON YOUR BATHROOM MIRROR!!


"For Each Livo there is a Kyle Lohse...for each Zito there is a Gil Mesche.....GM job is to pick the right ones.......Jimbo was wrong about spending money on Young, Johnson, Lo Duca, Estrada, Rob M, Lopez, Kearns, Pena, Patterson, Hill and Chad.....He was right about Harris, Billiard, and Guzman....Redding and Perez....I think it is a wash....those are some ugly ERA's....In the end the Won Lose is all that matters but GM Jim did not have a positive impact on the team when you look at the signing and money spent above."


All I would add is just a reminder that the guy has been here for 4 years and 11 years in Cincy before that. This isn't a guy who has had just a year or 2 to show what he can do. He's had a decade and a half, and what JayB says here could be said about his entire tenure here and in Cincy.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 30, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

>@ Brue - Great post. I just d0 not want to let our micro-managing billionaires off the hook and blame Manny for this season. Manny did what he could with what he had.<

Oh, I'm not letting Manny off the hook. I was slagging Bowden. Manny's one of the worst examples of a big league manager I've ever seen. I could go on all day with examples -- this interview shows exactly how rigid his thinking is 'you have to convince me 100% to change my mind'. That's the way an adolescent thinks, in black and white terms, either something's 100% correct, or it's not correct at all. He hides behind numbers and trends, never thinks outside the box, i.e. - doesn't like to bunt and manufacture runs early in games when his offense isn't producing, almost never hit and runs, the steal % for the team is below average, not to mention the number of times they ran was below average. He limits himself to pitch counts for pitchers. He's perceived as never taking up for his players in public, especially when they repeatedly encountered situations where the umps would hose us (unwritten law for bad teams, umps say 'show me you're good' before you get a break), and he'd very rarely even argue with them, never get tossed to rile the team up. When you get to the pros, you need to obtain respect, because the minute they think you're a wimp, they'll quit listening, and that's what they did, and by my guess, it was June when they quit on him. Hitting Milledge third was a disaster. Hitting Guzman first for months with nobody on was a disaster. Saying 'Milledge would play in CF all year because we committed to it' is completely idiotic, and shows how rigid his thinking is again. Rigid people are insecure, because if they do the same things over and over, they have excuses memorized for those behaviors, and what they think is a rationale. If they change what they're doing, and it doesn't work, they're not smart enough to CYA with a real explanation.
It seems as though his main goal in life is to 'not have to manage each game to win', rather he wants to push buttons and 'sit back with his arms crossed'. I firmly believe that he's not very intelligent, and he's certainly not educated, and he's not even sophisticated in the baseball realm, imo. At least Dave Trembley, who's an educator, realizes that he has to get to know each player and develop a psychological approach with each before he acts unilaterally, because when you're coaching in the pros, you can't fire the team and you have to work with what you're given.

Posted by: Brue | September 30, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Re: Bowden telling Manny whom to play... I don't know whether Manny is being straight here or not, but I'll say this. IF Jim told him he had to play PLod or Estrada back in July (which I hope is true--those were inexplicable starts), Manny SHOULD deny it now. It undermines him terribly for people to think he's not in charge there. I would think both Jim and Manny would know that it's better to have that sort of thing done out of public view.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 30, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Haters wanna hate, lovers wanna love...

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

hey Brue -- did Manny run over your dog or something? Why all the hatred? Have you ever spoken to him directly to gauge that he's not educated or intelligent?

Posted by: WOW | September 30, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Hash. Rehash. Rerehash. Rererehash.
Hash hash.
Rehash on the grass alas(h).
If it was not hash, what was it?

Posted by: ce | September 30, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Interesting Fact #1: Hashish is the Arabic word for... grass. Literally.

Interesting Fact #2: Factoid is not a fact, but something that resembles a fact. Much like humanoid is not a human.

Yes, the ladies adore me.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

"Yes, the ladies adore me.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 1:55 PM"

Ever see The Crying Game?

Posted by: if not, maybe you shouldn't... | September 30, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Ouch, c'mon, now. Do you really want to hurt me?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I also remember a month or more ago, I forget the call, but he really really yelled good and long at an ump, but the ump somehow didn't throw him out.

And I remember, I think it was before Bergmann got sent down? That Manny yelled and gave him the business on the mound. That was priceless.

Sorry he doesn't do it once every few series like some managers, so he can be viewed as mad and delerious managing a sorry team. Instead of trying to show how a real man takes it.

Posted by: anti-Brue | September 30, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

the steal % for the team is below average, not to mention the number of times they ran was below average.

The second stat seems an appropriate response to the first. And following the stats, I would say, is thinking outside the box, while all those old time bromides about manufacturing runs, blah, blah, blah, is the box. It's the box the stats are designed to get teams out of.

Posted by: Arkymark | September 30, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

"For Each Livo there is a Kyle Lohse...for each Zito there is a Gil Mesche.....GM job is to pick the right ones.......Jimbo was wrong about spending money on Young, Johnson, Lo Duca, Estrada, Rob M, Lopez, Kearns, Pena, Patterson, Hill and Chad.....He was right about Harris, Billiard, and Guzman....Redding and Perez....I think it is a wash....those are some ugly ERA's....In the end the Won Lose is all that matters but GM Jim did not have a positive impact on the team when you look at the signing and money spent above."
________________________

I would also assert, that only dishing out 1-year contracts for $5M or less is a safe way to play things. If the players flop, it can be argued that only 1-year was committed to them. If the players succeed, then you got them at a bargain. Regardless, low-risk ($$ wise) low-reward free agents signed to 1-year contracts aren't going to change the landscape of the team.

I'd like to see them take more risks.

Posted by: 756* | September 30, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I think your analysis is right, 756*, but since we're making such progress with younger players and the farm, I question your conclusion. Why put that at jeopardy by jumping in the Free Agent circus?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I never smoked any Astro Turf, but I could weigh in on grass and hash...

Posted by: NR Tug McGraw | September 30, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I meant "safe" in terms of job security. If you never stick your neck out, it will largely remain, unscathed.

But "safe" for an owner to accept with a new stadium and a restless (fickle?) fanbase? No.

"Free Agent circus" is a loaded question.

Posted by: 756* | September 30, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Of course it's loaded, I stated right in front of it that I question your conclusion. That's where I stand and I was asking you a question in order to consider whether to change my stance.

What criteria would you use for selecting a free agent?

If you've got time, how would you argue that the free agent market isn't a bunch of freaks and has-beens with only one or two real gems buried in between the peanuts and the pachyderms?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

He stole my team.

Yeah last time I spoke with Manny, I remarked on how many hits Guz had, and he said something about his VORP because his OPS was down due to the fact that he never hit with anyone on base. He also said that even though there were others more capable of playing CF, he played Milledge there because hey - a promise is a promise - and he wasn't 100% convinced that these other players were better suited for it. I asked him about the ban on alcohol in the clubhouse and he said that he didn't come there to drink and didn't think that anyone else did either. I said au contrare monfrare - that I didn't come to the park to drink, but by the end of a season I was seeking help for a drinking problem. I said Manny you told me that the defense was a strong suit for the team in spring training, and now you say it's awful. What will the kids think when they don't see any fundamentals or cohesiveness on the field? He says that's alright, we have to get worse before we get better, because Justin Maxwell and Leon Davis are chomping at the bit (mlb.com). I said Manny what do you have to say to all the kids out there watching, and he says, 'don't drop out of school at 16 and sign with some scumbag agent before your personality is fully formed. It may work out for you if you lick enough boots, but usually it doesn't.' Manny what do you say when I say 'Felipe Lopez'? Manny says 'no communication'. I said Manny people say you're isolated. He says yeah but that doesn't have anything to do with winning. I expect the players to know my wishes and execute them.'

Posted by: Brue | September 30, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Just...wow.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Posted by: Brue | September 30, 2008 3:37 PM
"He stole my team.
Yeah last time I spoke with Manny....I expect the players to know my wishes and execute them.'"

Posted by: Section 138 | September 30, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, my post didn't seem to like my "HUGE snip" formatting I put in there. I didn't want to re-post Brue's entire posting.

Posted by: Section 138 | September 30, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

not a regular on this forum but wanted others' reactions to the two pieces in the Times today. Surprised to see there aren't any here. Times has lead sports story on need for a slugger and a report card for this years team. Slugger article online but rpt card not. Pretty interesting. Guzman got only A and only position players to get B's were flores, belliard, hernandez, dukes, milledge, and harris. well worth price of paper. acta and bowden both got C's

Posted by: gohornsgo | September 30, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't think I would disagree with any of that, gohornsgo. The only stipulation is that it's understood Acta's C is split up. He gets an A for young player atmosphere setting, a C (average) for controlling the team, and a C for management decisions.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

@ Seamhead 37

you're the smartest guy on this thread today! I'm with you.

Posted by: 6th and D | September 30, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I should also add that I think that average grade for management will rise with experience. You've got to screw up some in order to learn. Certainly Charlie Manuel proves that a long time in the business doesn't mean that you can't make some pretty dumb calls related to your bullpen.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

anti-Brue, you reminded me of the Bergmann scolding. I loved it. It was so classic in my mind. Seeing Manny fired up was a rare sight, but damn if Jason didn't take his scolding like a man.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 30, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I've been in Manny's corner all along and I'm not getting out anytime soon.

However, I do think Brue has a point, though I would state it less stridently.

Manny's strategy of being positive and even-keeled is probably good in the sense that it helps keep young, overmatched players from getting down on themselves and thinking the sky is falling.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for motivation, particularly on a developing team, and it's hard to motivate while remaining calm at all times.

Is Manny a behind-the-scenes motivator, or is he always a detached professional? If the latter, he might be better off with a veteran team than a developing one. But I'm hoping these words from him hint that it's the former: "I know when I'm happy, and when I'm not happy, I let them know that. I just don't have to let them know in front of the cameras."

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 30, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of motivators, Bob, did anyone catch the pointy ball team's motivations and celebrations on Sunday? Let's just say Jim Zorn is an even bigger dork than I thought.

Would we appreciate more if Manny was silent and calm behind the scenes or Jim Zorn-esque, all cheery talk and corn?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"What criteria would you use for selecting a free agent?"

For identifying which ones to pursue?
1. Plays position of immediate need for at least next 2-3 years. For the Nats, this would be 1B, OF, and SP. It wouldn't bother me to sign Tex to a L-T deal. If Marrero develops, then reevaluate. But locking up a player L-T doesn't prohibit you from trading them before their contract ends. It's done all the time, so long as the team is willing to A. give away the player for low-ceiling talent or B. trade player and assume part of remaining contract for higher-ceiling talent.
2. Left-handed (or switch) bats. This is a glaring need.
3. Marketability. Not my concern, but should be for the Lerners.

For pitchers:
Just want to say here that I don't think there's any way that we would ever sign Sabathia. It will require too long a contract and for too much $$$. And I even doubt that we'd seriously go after Sheets, Lowe or Burnett. To tell you the truth, I'm not really pleased with what is out there this year. I'm not high on Oliver Perez, I've seen him too often and through too many ups and downs and ups and downs. But, the team needs a #1 starter. Someone who will go out every 5th day and inject some energy (if needed) into the team. Lannan sure acts like that guy, but it's way too much pressure to put on him.

Posted by: 756* | September 30, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

If the Times didn't give Zim at least a B -- well, that confirms my opinion of the value of that particular paper.

He managed to hit around his career average in spite of recovering from the hamate bone surgery early and the labral tear later. And in spite of hitting in a lineup that was completely pathetic most of the year.

A- at worst.

Posted by: joebleux | September 30, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

So to the people that blame everything on the Lerners are cheap. What is it that you want happen? If you scream loud enough, you can get Bowden fired, or Kasten, or Acta. But how do you expect to "make" the Lerners sell?

Posted by: SF Fan | September 30, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

"It's done all the time, so long as the team is willing to A. give away the player for low-ceiling talent or B. trade player and assume part of remaining contract for higher-ceiling talent."

Provided C. the player's agent doesn't insist on a no-trade contract - which, as we've seen many times, keeps every ounce of leverage entirely with the player through the life of the contract. Expect any big-money free agent to demand a no-trade clause as part of the contract. Then recall that Stan Kasten has a blanket policy against giving no-trade contracts.

Posted by: it's really not ALL about the money | September 30, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

You're OK with me, Chico. Thanks for the season. I will read this interview and the comments leisurely, since there is plenty of time before a vastly different Nationals team takes the field in February.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | September 30, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Or you get them to waive it.
ARod
Sheffield
Manny (not a good example)
Thome

Granted, it's easier when at the end of a contract, which, of course if Kasten has anything to do with it, wouldn't have the clause in the first place.

Posted by: 756* | September 30, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Don't know what grade the Times gave Zim but:
Overall BA: .283
Bases empty: .302
Runners on: .259
RISP: .200
RISP/2 outs: .175
Bases loaded:.125

Posted by: CapPeterson | September 30, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Assuming that Texiera is not going to sign here for any price (ditto that for Sabathia). Also, our needs are a lefty power bat, corner OF and/or 1B, plus a SP.

1. I'd like to see us make a trade of Dan Uggla in the FLA fire sale, we may have to give up a prospect or two, but as long as we don't lose a core player like Zimmermann, Marrero or Burgess I'd be ok with it, even a Detwiler, VanAllen or Alandiz might be ok.

Going to the FLA well twice might be too much, but trading for a young pitcher like Nolasco would be a good move and I would be OK with moving any of our minor league pitchers EXCEPT Zimmermann as part of a package for him.

Sign Adam Dunn (or another Lefty power bat who can play OF AND 1B - if you can name one!). Think of this batting order and tell me how many games they would win;

1. Milledge (CF)
2. Uggla (2B)
3. Zimmerman (3B)
4. Dunn (LF)
5. Dukes (RF)
6. Johnson (1B)
7. Flores (CA)
8. Guzman (SS)
9. Pitcher
Rotation of;
Hill
Lannan
Nolasco
Balester
Zimmermann

I think that team wins 90 games IF they can start 140 games together.

Posted by: estuartj | September 30, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

On Times material:
Zimmerman received C+ with comments "Started slow, missed over 50 games, but started to look like old self at end of season." In the other article there are comments, some from Acta, about the pressure put on him to carry the team and the lack of protection around him in the batting order.

I like Zimmerman as much as the next Nats fan and have to say I don't think that's a bad assessment of his season.

Please go to the Times site and read the article on the need for a slugger. I think my coming on here and quoting bits and pieces was not a good idea. I am far from an apologist for the times, but I thought the items were timely and had lots of food for thought.

Posted by: gohornsgo | September 30, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Too many righties at the top of the order, we'd need to lead off with Guzman;

1. Guz (SH)
2. Ugglea (R)
3. Zimmerman (R)
4. Dunn (L)
5. Dukes (R)
6. Johson (L)
7. Milledge (R)
8. Flores (R)
9. Lannan (L)

Posted by: MO Nats Fan | September 30, 2008 5:40 PM | Report abuse

What I like about the Times grades is that they use "C" to mean "average" instead of "poor". Zimmerman did a great job pulling it together this year, but his final numbers can't be called more than average. Next year, A, with the return of Mr. Clutch.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Once the old man is in the ground, the kid will sell. He hates this baseball thing.
_____________________
So to the people that blame everything on the Lerners are cheap. What is it that you want happen? If you scream loud enough, you can get Bowden fired, or Kasten, or Acta. But how do you expect to "make" the Lerners sell?

Posted by: SF Fan | September 30, 2008 4:44 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | September 30, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Here is case E for why Acta played Flip, Mackowiac and Estrada in mid summer. If you have trouble brewing in the locker room and sitting on the bench would it not be better to get them out on the field and let them play themselves out? Based on Estrada's comments upon getting released I imagine that this is the kind of player you do want to have grousing on the bench every day. I imagine Acta forced Jim B's hand by demonstating to a nauseating degree how how unproductive it was to have Flip, Estrada and Mackowiac taking up a roster spot. (Note that I am cutting Lo Duca a lot of slack here. I do not think that he was poisonous at all on the bench and by showing a willingness to play completely out of position he was making what contribution he could. However, we had two better catchers in the lineup ahead of him, and he acknowledged it.) This theory presumes that Acta has a genius level manipulative nature which he mostly keeps hidden from the public. It also assumes that he is skilled in the internal power politics of the organization. The proof is he engineers the removal of all the malcontents in one month and still has an Alfred E Neumann -like "Who Me?" look about him. Brilliant!

Posted by: Dale | September 30, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

but when was the last time Dunn played 1B? Are we sure he can even field that position? Would he be another Piazza at first (what a horrible attempt that was)?

Posted by: maybe I missed something | September 30, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

506, Zim was pretty much at his career norms for hitting and fielding. So you think he's just been an average player to this point in his career? Or are you downgrading him for being injured?

Posted by: joebleux | September 30, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

According to mlb.com Dunn played 19 games this year for the Diamondbacks, with 133 total chances, 123 put outs, 3 errors and a .977 Fielding %.

Also a few things on his stats, in 44 games for ARI he had 44 SO to 42 BB and a .417 OBP (.373 in Cincy), he slugged only .472 (vs .528 in Cincy). He hit 8 HR in 144 ABs in ARI vs 32 in 373 for Cincy so his AB/HR avg went to 1 every 18 AB in ARI from 1 every 11 AB for Cincy. He also hit 9 doubles for ARI after 14 in Cincy (in 2.5 times as many ABs).
My theory is that once on a decent team with something to do besides swing for the fences he was a much more well rounded power hitter.

Posted by: estuartj | September 30, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

joebleux, how can we talk about "career norms" for a 23 year-old kid? He's still at the stage where he's supposed to be getting better, isn't he? If this is the level we should expect from him for the next 5-7 years (and personally I don't think it is), then I would agree with 506 that it's average.
* * * * *
506, Zim was pretty much at his career norms for hitting and fielding. So you think he's just been an average player to this point in his career? Or are you downgrading him for being injured?

Posted by: joebleux | September 30, 2008 5:51 PM

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 30, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

About Dunn,

Why would you want to sign a career .250 hitter? Are you really willing to give up say 30 hits over the course of the year to transform 15 singles to HRs? Maybe I'm too small-ball, but Dunn doesn't seem to be a particularly useful piece to any team.

Posted by: SF Fan | September 30, 2008 6:05 PM | Report abuse

If you grade Zimmerman at A for the 2008 season, what grade would you have given him if he'd managed to hit .300 with 25 HR and 90 RBI?
He got the C because he was injured, OK. He WAS injured. Life ain't fair. Baseball sure as hell ain't fair.

Posted by: ce | September 30, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Once the old man is in the ground, the kid will sell. He hates this baseball thing.
-----------------------
So you're advocating Assassination as a way to encourage the sale of an underperforming organization?

Posted by: SF Fan | September 30, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

The secret to managing is keeping the nine guys who hate you away from the nine who haven't made up their minds.

**********
This theory presumes that Acta has a genius level manipulative nature which he mostly keeps hidden from the public. It also assumes that he is skilled in the internal power politics of the organization. The proof is he engineers the removal of all the malcontents in one month and still has an Alfred E Neumann -like "Who Me?" look about him. Brilliant!

Posted by: Dale | September 30, 2008 5:48 PM

Posted by: The Ol' Perfessor | September 30, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Nobody said anything about killing him, just putting him in the ground.

***********
Once the old man is in the ground, the kid will sell. He hates this baseball thing.
-----------------------
So you're advocating Assassination as a way to encourage the sale of an underperforming organization?

Posted by: SF Fan | September 30, 2008 6:07 PM

Posted by: now that's just mean | September 30, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Well, seeing as how we're quoting:

Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are.

-- Niccolo Machiavelli

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 30, 2008 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Nobody said anything about killing him, just putting him in the ground.
------------------------
Erm, what?

Posted by: SF Fan | September 30, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Bloodthirsty lot this evening, eh?

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 30, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I hate batting average as a judge of a player performance, it puts action ahead of progress. My favorite metric is OPS, by that measure Dunn would be a fine addition. He has a career OPS of .900 and his ops with ARI was .889 (after .901 in Cincy in '08).

By contrast here are the top OPS of Nats regulars in '08.
Dukes .864
Johnson .846
Belliard .845
Young .784
Guzman .786
Zimmerman .774
Harris .761
Milledge .731
Flores .698

Dunn gets on base and hits for power, that generates runs and creates wins. He does get a lot of Ks, but I'm hopeful (not THAT word!) he can be a more disciplined hitter away from Cincy as his 44 k vs 42 BB in ARI hints at.

His defense is open for discussion and what he's cost in years and dollars I have no idea, but I think he'd be a fine addition with the bat, unless someone has a better idea that isn't Texiera.

Posted by: estuartj | September 30, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

"If you grade Zimmerman at A for the 2008 season, what grade would you have given him if he'd managed to hit .300 with 25 HR and 90 RBI?
He got the C because he was injured, OK. He WAS injured."

I dunno. If you gave him an A for hitting .300/25/90, what would you give him for hitting .400/40/120? What kind of logic is that?

"A" is for excellent. Yes, I give him credit for playing around injuries. My grading would be based on how well the player does given the circumstances handed to him. Seems common sense to me, but whatever.

Posted by: joebleux | September 30, 2008 6:41 PM | Report abuse

I also want to jump in on the Manny Acta vs Jim Bowden "who decides who plays" debate.

I think Manny makes the line-ups, but he AND Bowden talk about and work together for the good of the team. Bowden may say we need to get Flop, Estrada, LoDuca, et al more playing time so we can either trade them or cut bait. The day to day decisions rest with Acta, but Bowden has a lot of input in the larger strategy as any good GM would.

I'm not a JimBow fan, and after the Cordero fiasco I'm all for getting rid of him, but I also like his creativity in making moves to improve the team, I like the combinatino of his exuberence with Kastens reserve. I can see Bowden running in to Kastens office 20 times a day with one crazy idea after another and Kasten telling him to slow down and breath. Its that kind of creativity that got us Milledge and Dukes and hopefully JimBow (if he sticks) can come up with something similair to get us a pitcher or two along the same lines as those too.

Plus steal Uggla away from FLA, you think the Lerners are cheap, look at FLA!

Posted by: estuartj | September 30, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Excellent point on distinguishing between decisions on playing time and lineup assembling, estuartj. To me, that makes the most sense of any theory advanced so far.

Also, laughing at your description of possible Bowden/Kasten interactions. I can just imagine that taking place!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 30, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Here's another idea, and a bit crazy too;

Trade with Texas for Salty and have him split time with Johnson at 1B and Flores at CA. He's a switch hitter so he could start at 1B against lefties and at Catcher against Righties.

I'm a bit concerned that his power numbers actually declined playing in TX vs ATL, but he also only played 61 games (didn't even get 200 AB). Plus since TX has 4 Catchers on the 40 man roster the price might not be too bad.

Posted by: estuartj | September 30, 2008 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Texas may be the only team in the league that would look at Tim Redding as a significant improvement.

Posted by: MO Nats Fan | September 30, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

What did Texas give up to get Salty from Atlanta? I know Texiera was in there, but does anyone remember what the full package was?

Posted by: estuartj | September 30, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

"Once the old man is in the ground, the kid will sell. He hates this baseball thing."

Reports have Mark Lerner suiting up and shagging flies during Nats BP when the team is at home. Yeah, he must really hate this baseball thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 30, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

@estuartj -- thanks for the thoughts on Bowden. I guess my thought after the Cordero debacle, and Bowden's comments to Chico about whether Dmitri was in Florida in late July/early August (which Chico put on this blog, and I'm glad ESPN et al. didn't pick up) was that if, after all these years as a GM, clamming up in those situations isn't an automatic reflex, he's better suited for a position where he's not the go to guy for those kinds of questions.

Posted by: 422 | September 30, 2008 7:58 PM | Report abuse

y'all who are so ready to throw around terms like "liar" oughtta be ashamed, if ya even know how. manny is more of a mensch than any two of ye.

that said, manny's diagnosis that we need 2 big boppers and 2 front-line pitchers is realistic. that means we ain't gonna get well all at once cuz we'll be lucky to get half that menu served. means 2010 before we're a threat to contend.

that's about right for an expansion franchise built on the bud "invertebrate" selig-induced ruins of the expos. in fact, it's a little fast, with 2011 more probable.

manny's just the right guy to teach new guys and keep cool in the meantime. he could become the next joe torre -- not in terms of having a talent-rich environment, but knowing how to run a game and a clubhouse.

believe it. if lerner/kasten/bowden are ever dumb enough to fire manny to cover up their sins of omission, he'll have work quicker than you can say "knife."

Posted by: natty bumppo | September 30, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

To go back to what I'd like to see in the offseason -- get Nationals Journal out of the rotating banner!!!

Posted by: 422 | September 30, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

@CIL- from the Times' September 23 article:

Mark Lerner, the most visible member of the family, declined to be interviewed for this article. Through a team spokesman, the Lerners released the following statement:

"Working closely together we intend to catch our breath after setting an exhilarating, but exhausting, pace for the last two years,"

Posted by: flynnie | September 30, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

More from the September 23rd Zuckerman article in the Times: "People are just miserable," said an industry source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he does business with the team. "There's going to be a lot of people following them."

Or as one disgruntled team employee put it: "Everyone wants out, and it's entirely because of the Lerners."

Lengthy purchase orders are needed for basic office supplies, for instance, and the use of courier services is discouraged. Pay raises and expense reimbursements are delayed for months. Employees of the Nationals and Major League Baseball alike were astonished when the club did not send anyone to either the sport's scouting school or industry meetings - events attended by every other franchise.

"Every decision they make is about money," one former member of the organization said. "You just can't run a ballclub like that."

Posted by: flynnie | September 30, 2008 10:08 PM | Report abuse

In what other successful franchises do you see the owners making the statement:""Working closely together we intend to catch our breath after setting an exhilarating, but exhausting, pace for the last two years,"? Why are the Lerners exhausted? Are any of the owners with teams in the playoffs making public statements that they are exhausted? Is John Henry exhausted? How about the owners of the Rays? Angels? Brewers? Cubs? Dodgers? Phillies? The Nats are the team with the exhausted micro-managing billionaire owners and 100+ losses.

Posted by: flynnie | September 30, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

WMP is going to sign his player option for $2 million so what are we going to see from WMP in Spring Training.

You need to see if he can return to what he showed us in 2007 when batted .293 with 8 homers and 22 RBIs in 37 games for the Nationals.

Then you need to find a position for him. Not great in the outfield. Who knows at 1st base but that is an option.

Posted by: Andrew | September 30, 2008 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Next topic. What do you do with Kearns, Dmitri Young, Nick Johnson, and Wily Mo.

I don't think you can keep all of them and they all will be under contract (WMP option) for 2009 in the $2 million to $8 million range.

Then you have arbitration eligible Willie Harris in a crowded outfield.

In the middle, you have 3 similar players in Bonifacio, Gonzalez, and Hernandez.


Posted by: Andrew | September 30, 2008 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Boy, flynnie, you sure have changed your tune since the last time I ran into you. Gone over to the dark side now, eh? You must be exhausted. Get some rest, or give it a rest. Take your pick.

Posted by: An Briosca Mor | September 30, 2008 11:26 PM | Report abuse

"You need to see if he can return to what he showed us in 2007 when batted .293 with 8 homers and 22 RBIs in 37 games for the Nationals.

"Then you need to find a position for him. Not great in the outfield. Who knows at 1st base but that is an option."

If he rebounds like that I vote that his position is "Trade". I like the big guy and I'm pulling for him, but I don't think he's the future.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 11:54 PM | Report abuse

The grackles have gone,
And I watch an Autumn storm
Stripping the garden,
Shouting black rain challenges
To an old, limp Summer
Laid down to die in the flower-beds.

From Purple Grackles by Amy Lowell

Posted by: flynnie | October 1, 2008 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Note that Nick Swisher wasn't starting for the ChiSox in tonite's game. Great OB%, and he plays 1st and the OF. Maybe we could get him cheap.

Posted by: Nats24 | October 1, 2008 12:57 AM | Report abuse

>What do you do with Kearns, Dmitri Young, Nick Johnson, and Wily Mo.<

You give them a weight limit to report to camp at, like in football, and if they don't make that weight, you fine them and deal with the player's union later. Meantime, you acquire replacements for every one of them so that they know you're serious. When it comes time for the final cutdown, if they're still fat or lazy, then trade them for whatever you can get to clear up roster spots.

Posted by: Brue | October 1, 2008 7:01 AM | Report abuse

>Note that Nick Swisher wasn't starting for the ChiSox in tonite's game. Great OB%, and he plays 1st and the OF. Maybe we could get him cheap.<

I thought he was supposed to make $10 million + each of the next few years.

Posted by: Brue | October 1, 2008 7:02 AM | Report abuse

>In the middle, you have 3 similar players in Bonifacio, Gonzalez, and Hernandez.<

Keep Hernandez and cut the other two. Bonifacio will never be a full-time starter because he can't hit lefties. He also is limited to playing 2nd base only. This makes him useless off the bench. Hernandez can play all three infield positions. Harris can be the other backup infielder. If the Nats want some power, they can't put Harris in the outfield and take up one of the power spots, even if he's the 4th or 5th outfielder.

Posted by: Brue | October 1, 2008 7:07 AM | Report abuse

WMP is going to sign his player option for $2 million so what are we going to see from WMP in Spring Training.

>You need to see if he can return to what he showed us in 2007 when batted .293 with 8 homers and 22 RBIs in 37 games for the Nationals.

Then you need to find a position for him. Not great in the outfield. Who knows at 1st base but that is an option.<

I absolutely agree with this. I'd put him at 1st in a heartbeat. Johnson and Young appear to be on the downsides of their career, they may be able to work with Pena. He's got good hands and the perfect build for 1st. All he needs to do is shorten his stroke, and the ball will fly off his bat. The long, picturesque Charlie Lau swing was killing him. Whoever thought that up should be fired. Oh that's right...

Posted by: Brue | October 1, 2008 7:13 AM | Report abuse

"Keep Hernandez and cut the other two."

When both players have options and they're not holding up anyone in the system, this is terrible advice.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 1, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I still believe that the Lerners were selected b/c Angelos and Selig knew that they would destroy baseball in DC again.

Posted by: Count Demoney | October 1, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Check out this Elijah Dukes feature...

http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2008/102008/10012008/414736

Posted by: Daddy Mac | October 1, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

@esuartj - I'm late responding to your comment about Dunn and his value last night, but just wanted to throw you a hat tip for your post. Batting average is a *terrible* way to evaluate a hitter. OPS has limitations but is *much* better. For all the focus on Dunn's low average and his high number of strikeouts, he's a good bet to hit 40 homeruns and walk 100 times per year, and that's something the Nats don't currently have. He would instantly be the Nats best hitter if he were acquired. For some reason, he appears to be undervalued, so I would love the Nats to take a run at him.

Posted by: 220 | October 1, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

http://www.rotoworld.com/content/home_MLB.aspx

Might be the only time we see Josh Hamilton in a Nats hat...

Posted by: 756* | October 1, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the heads up on the Dukes story, Daddy mac. Some good stuff in there, esp. from Harris.

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

Check out this Elijah Dukes feature...

http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2008/102008/10012008/414736

Posted by: Daddy Mac | October 1, 2008 10:07 AM

Posted by: Take it to the Banker | October 1, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

"I did my best; it wasn't much.
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch.
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool ya.
And even though it all went wrong,
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but 'Hallelujah.'"
--L. Cohen

***********

Well, seeing as how we're quoting:

"Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are."
-- Niccolo Machiavelli
Posted by: natsfan1a | September 30, 2008 6:12 PM

Posted by: ce | October 1, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I have complete faith in Manny's consistency and maturity, what I question is whether he is the right guy to lead this club. His motivational skills and his tatctical abilities are questionable to say the least. The team did not execute well and Manny did not get above average performances from any of his players, save Guzman. The reality is that Manny is under contract for small Dollars (about 10% of the salary the top managers get) and we all know Ted Lerner is not going to go get someone else and have to pay TWO managers next year, especially when he has no "plan" for winning anyway.

Posted by: dh | October 1, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Why exactly is Hamilton in a Nats cap in that picture, 756*?

That really threw me for a minute. Now that would be an unbelievable acquisition.

Posted by: faNATic | October 1, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I have no clue, assume it was some sort of all-star week player exchange program. Maybe it was attachment A for a Jim Bowden memo?

Posted by: 756* | October 1, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

The Rangers played a turn-back-the-clock game where they wore Senators uniforms. Instead of wearing actual Senators hats though, they just wore new Nats hats, which are slightly different.

* * * * *

Why exactly is Hamilton in a Nats cap in that picture, 756*?

That really threw me for a minute. Now that would be an unbelievable acquisition.

Posted by: faNATic | October 1, 2008 10:38 AM

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | October 1, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Nats24 and Brue,

I had Nick Swisher near the top of a list (posted last week) of "low-hanging fruit" we might be able to acquire that would fill positions of need. He turns 28 in November and his career averages (over 162 games) are .244/.354/.451, with 28 dingers, 31 doubles, and 86 ribbies. Low batting average, obviously, but the rest of the numbers are pretty solid.

He comes at a decent price now, with salaries of $5.3m in 2009 and $6.75m in 2010, but starts to get expensive (relative to his value) in 2011 at $9m and 2012 at $10.25m (although 2012 is a club option with a $1m buyout).

He can play all three outfield positions in addition to first.

Here's a scouting report that probably overvalues him, but is interesting nonetheless:

Assets: A switch-hitter with surprising power from both sides. Supremely patient at the dish. A clutch hitter and a team leader who hustles all the time. Versatile with with the glove.

Flaws: For a patient hitter he doesn't make great contact, leading to too many Ks. Can seem a little reckless at times in the field and on the bases.

Career potential: All-Star talent at 1B or OF.

*********

So at the end of the day, probably not a star, or even an all-star in my view. In fact he reminds me a lot of Austin Kearns, before AK disappointed us. But a useful piece at the right price, injury insurance at a lot of positions? Yes.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | October 1, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

>"Keep Hernandez and cut the other two."

When both players have options and they're not holding up anyone in the system, this is terrible advice.<

I love how I get under people's skin. Works every time! You can move them to the minors, same thing as cutting them, as long as they don't reappear on the major league roster and prevent real ballplayers from contributing to the team. Those two are duplicative and a waste of time if you want to get better. Of course, you could hang onto them and hope that one of Bowden's sons gets a job as a GM so you could swing a trade for either or both. I take that back, after watching the penultimate losers that the O's had at SS this year, they'd probably do quite well in orange and black.

Posted by: Brue | October 1, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

>So at the end of the day, probably not a star, or even an all-star in my view. In fact he reminds me a lot of Austin Kearns, before AK disappointed us. But a useful piece at the right price, injury insurance at a lot of positions? Yes.<

I can see some of the points in his favor, but he has a weak BA, and that's usually a symptom for other ills - bad pitch selection, swinging in the wrong pitch counts, high strikeout total/lower productivity due to lack of contact. 86 rbi might be the product of a lot of opportunities. If he plays for the Nats, his weaknesses will get exposed because he'll most likely be out on an island.

Posted by: Brue | October 1, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

True, Brue, I don't think Swisher is a key piece of a contender by any stretch. But we're not exactly a contender, and he would have helped us avoid doing completely embarassing things like playing FLop and Lo Puca in left, Belliard at first, etc. Plus he's coming off a down year, so maybe a mid-level prospect a low-level one would be enough to get him. He'd be a relatively cheap placeholder while we wait (hope) for Marrero, Burgess et al.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | October 1, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Gloomy day here in Mill City. Tough way to end a season. I was already depressed to see a painful Nats season come to a close. Then I get to watch a Twins season come to a painful end. Rough.

I wanted to give more volume to estuartj's Saltalamacchia idea. I've been pondering the possibility of acquiring him and getting him to split him between 1B and C. Probably not your ideal solution to the problem at first, but he's young, and gives the Nats options.

Also, I should point out that I love Nick Swisher. I probably wouldn't equate him to Austin Kearns in performance, but maybe the comparison is apt in terms of attitude. I'm a sucker for a patient hitter, though, so maybe it's just me.

I enjoy the optimism this early part of the offseason allows us. I'll choose to refrain from my various criticisms of team management until such optimism subsides. I'll root for the Brewers and let the realities of the season set in before I allow myself to get swept away in justified anger and disappointment.

Posted by: John in Mpls | October 1, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

As much as we all seem to love Nieves I really hope to get a better option for our 2nd catcher. I don't like the 1 start a week model for backup catchers and would love to see us have someone who can start 2-3 games a week with Flores instead.

When I saw we traded Rauch to ARI my first thought was that we'd aquired their back-up catcher, Montero in return. He's a young lefty with some power potential that would make for a great platoon situation that would keep both fresh.

Salty being able to play 1B too makes him a great asset, I really hope we don't wind up with yet ANOTHER 1B only player clogging up the 25 man roster like NJ and DY.

Posted by: estuartj | October 1, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

>Plus he's coming off a down year, so maybe a mid-level prospect a low-level one would be enough to get him. He'd be a relatively cheap placeholder while we wait (hope) for Marrero, Burgess et al.<

Yeah, some good points there, Bob. I think that the salary would work in the Nats favor too, because the other team would likely give him up for less because of what he's getting paid, and the number of years they're contractually obligated. It's like overpaying for free agents - you may have to trade for a guy who is probably making too much. Same diff except with a trade you throw a minor leaguer or two in there.

Posted by: Brue | October 1, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

So, at best, Swisher would basically be another Willie Harris?

Posted by: CE | October 1, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/standings

Looking at Texas' runs scored/runs against, it's safe to say that they'd be looking for a pitcher in return.

Posted by: 756* | October 1, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Re: Swisher

I know it's simplistic, but I'd hesitate at picking up someone who Beane cast off. And similarly, giving up someone who Beane covets.

In fact, I'd probably say the exact opposite for Bowden.

Posted by: 756* | October 1, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Beane casts everybody off eventually, that's the A's version of the ... what was it again, 506?

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

We need a name for this idea. Hmmm. Should we call it a Road Map? What about a Schedule? Maybe an Agenda!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 9:01 AM

Posted by: Bob L. Head | October 1, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

does harlan know he's scheduled for a chat now?

Posted by: natsscribe | October 1, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Re Swisher

Better comparison than Kearns might be with Brad Wilkerson--but does that mean his career will nosedive like Wilkerson's? At least the steroids era seems to be over, so there's greater certainty that won't happen. Also, Swisher has enjoyed the reputation of being a fiery, fun-loving, high-energy teammate. That wouldn't be bad for this club.

Posted by: CapPeterson | October 1, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Bob, I believe the word you're looking for is Blueprint!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 1, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Cheeks didn't answer my question in the chat, so you guys get it.
I read the article in the Fredricksburg paper, and it made me wonder... Are there plans in place for Dukes in this off season? Is he still going to have his shadow, James Williams? I know it said Elijah is staying in town, does anyone know what other Nats make a home here in the off season to help him out?
Discuss....

Posted by: Section 138 | October 1, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

why is this afternoon's playoff game between the brewers and the phillies on a low-power (we should be used to this?) AM station that's part of the snyderman cluster instead of the station where we have been listening to baseball all year? baseball fans in this area get no respect.

Posted by: natsscribe | October 1, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

All good points about Beane. He does have a great eye for cheap, young talent. Teams should try to trade with Oakland just to see which players he values. Then lock those players up for life.

But Beane does part with good players once they are too expensive. He gets top value for them, sure. But Oakland parting ways with a player isn't necessarily an indictment.

Swisher's price, attitude, durability, and occasional power make him attractive. Plus, you don't have to sell a city or a team to a player when you trade for him, so there's no issue with him not wanting to come to DC. His versatility makes him a good fit - he can split time between OF and 1B until Johnson comes up lame in May.

That being said, were I GM, I'd follow estaurtj's plan first and try to get Salty. The Nats have some pitching resources that could be attractive, and in return would get a player who likely has yet to hit his career peak.

Posted by: John in Mpls | October 1, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Eddie "good field, no hit" Brinkman passed away yesterday at age 66. As you may remember, he was part of the trade that brought Denny McLain to the Sens from the Tigers.

http://tinyurl.com/3ec64z

Posted by: RIP | October 1, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Man, finally a hit for the Brewers. 4 2/3 innings of perfect baseball for Hamels.

Posted by: John in Mpls | October 1, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

if anyone cares to venture over to the post's "the league" blog grandpa boz, (former) guardian of the pastoral pastime, has just posted "Nine Reasons Football Rules" why the the NFL is better than MLB.

link: http://views.washingtonpost.com/theleague/panelists/2008/10/playoff-football-is-the-bomb.html

Posted by: natsscribe | October 1, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

"why is this afternoon's playoff game between the brewers and the phillies on a low-power (we should be used to this?) AM station that's part of the snyderman cluster instead of the station where we have been listening to baseball all year? baseball fans in this area get no respect."

Because ESPN has the national broadcast rights to the games on the radio and the Potato Team station is an ESPN outlet.

BTW, the Dodgers v. Cubs game slated to start at 6:37 will be joined in progress on 980 at 7:00 because no one should miss one minute of the wit and wisdom of Andy and Steve (with all the latest direct from the Potato Team).

Posted by: OldGuy | October 1, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Me, I'm listening the The Ueck via GameDay Audio. Much better way to go.

Posted by: OldGuy | October 1, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

@OldGuy

Would be better if the MLB.com audio synched with the TBS video. There's about a 30 to 45 second lag between the video and the audio. I'm listening to the Phillies broadcast through MLB.com.

Posted by: leetee1955 | October 1, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"if anyone cares to venture over to the post's "the league" blog grandpa boz, (former) guardian of the pastoral pastime, has just posted "Nine Reasons Football Rules" why the the NFL is better than MLB."

Reason #1: No pesky minor league teams to have to keep track of.

Posted by: No? | October 1, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

@leetee:

TiVo. It doesn't help the people who don't like the audio ahead of the video (though I like it that way), but, since the Internet stream is behind the video, you're golden.

And, even if you don't THINK you want a TiVo. You WANT a TiVo, trust me.

Posted by: OldGuy | October 1, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Boz's list is pretty dumb, as I pointed out under there.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 1, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

http://tinyurl.com/3vr5hm

Maybe the Mets would be willing to trade us this guy!!!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 1, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

For the cable-deprived, looks like TBS Hot Corner will be up and running again this year:

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/hotcorner/index.jsp

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 1, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

As an aside (and wow, Hamels threw a gem today), for all of the wishful thinking in here earlier in re: our GM, I'm surprised that no real reference has yet been made to the fact that Cashman signed a 3-year extension with the Yankees yesterday.

Posted by: faNATic | October 1, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

This was a strong rumor before the trade deadline that maybe Chico can comment on but supposedly Bowden was trying to make a deal for Nick Swisher and the deal didn't happen as I would guess the Chisox wanted to much.

Nick comes from a good baseball family as he dad played for the Cubs and some other teams and it shows as he is a smart player. He can play OF too, BUT I just don't think of Nick as that big fielding first baseman as I believe he is just above 5'11" and we have already lived that with guys like Kory Casto.

The bigger negative is the White Sox are going to want some good trade for him so you will have to give up a lot vs. going and getting Adam Dunn or Teixeira who are Free Agents and are much more established as power hitters.

The fallback is hopefully Nick Johnson is healthy and you just have to platoon him with a righty bat when we face a lefty pitcher. This will give Nick the rest he may need to last 125 games and stay healthy.

Posted by: Andrew | October 1, 2008 8:11 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what the Lerner's would say if I told them I am not paying my Season Ticket bill because the team is not "Substantially complete"?

Sign some big time free agents. THe time is now!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 2, 2008 6:09 AM | Report abuse

>wonder what the Lerner's would say if I told them I am not paying my Season Ticket bill because the team is not "Substantially complete"?<

DC Fan, is that you?

Posted by: Brue | October 2, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

"For the cable-deprived, looks like TBS Hot Corner will be up and running again this year:"

Are the hotties back, too?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 2, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I only watched the bottom of the 9th of the Brewers/Phillies game yesterday so I couldn't say. Perhaps one of our "hottie" ("hotty"?) experts could weigh in on that.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 2, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

getting bored in here.

Posted by: how about a new post? | October 2, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

wake me next week when Chico gets around to adding something (or anything)

Posted by: how about a new post? Part two | October 2, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

In case you're interested, there's a rumor that something is going on these days besides baseball. You could always read about that!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 2, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

We'll wait for Section 506 to read about those other things and interpret them for us! We are so lucky to have your intelligence available since we are so stupid!

Posted by: Ignorant | October 2, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

New Post!

Posted by: Made you look | October 2, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Don't thank me for it, ignorant, I consider it an honor.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 2, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Always talking ball over at ballparkguys. Might not be the kind of ball some people are interested in though.

Posted by: Brue | October 2, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

That was cold, made you look. (but I didn't look - hah!)

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 2, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I read this article on Sabathia and thought it was really good!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/01/AR2008100103195.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2008100103142&s_pos=

Then I looked at the byline and got somewhat annoyed.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 2, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Kevin Towers says he will listen to offers for Peavy.

(Insert Bowden joke here.)

Posted by: Bob L. Head | October 2, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Chico - have not posted here for a while. Thanks for doing your blog and coverage. Your writing does add something to the experience of the game.

As for topics for this blog in the offseason, periodic roundups from various sources with links should kick off discussions. For example, going into the rule 5 draft, various magazines like BA rank possible draftees. Just some links would be good, with your thoughts on how the Nats might play it. They have the #1 in the rule 5 draft this year, and a couple of years ago that was Josh Hamilton, so it is worth a preview. Perhaps a preview of prominent Japanese postings and free agents, too, might be fun.

Posted by: PTBNL | October 2, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

You wanna get fed, come over to Baseball Insider. I can't keep up!!!

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/baseball-insider/

Posted by: NatsNut | October 2, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Kasten tells Ladson....We will have an above average defense next year and we "are a greatly improved team before we even make any moves"......based on what? Nick Johnson might get 240 ABs before going on the DL? Improved defense....this team lead the NL and second in all Baseball in errors.....what is Acta going to make defense a point of emphasis again next year.....just like not running into outs on the bases....how did that all work for the Nats in 2008?

Posted by: JayB | October 2, 2008 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Ed Brinkman passed away today. A great Washington Senator will be missed by all who saw him play and spoke to him - a funny, hard-living, hard-playing man. RIP Eddie, our #11 for old Nat fans

Posted by: steve | October 2, 2008 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Eddie Brinkmen was one of the very best defensive SS of the 1960-early 70's. He was onld school and his game did not translate to the astro truff era of SS like Dave Concepcion or Ozzie Smith but still a baseball players player.

Posted by: JayB | October 2, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Post a new post already!

Posted by: Come on! | October 3, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

PUH-lease, new post!!

Posted by: dh | October 3, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

>"are a greatly improved team before we even make any moves"......based on what? Nick Johnson might get 240 ABs before going on the DL? Improved defense....this team lead the NL and second in all Baseball in errors.....what is Acta going to make defense a point of emphasis again next year.....just like not running into outs on the bases..<

Yeah screw all that. They should just give Man-ny Ramirez a blank check for one year, say hey - fill it in yourself - that would get his attention - so what if it's 30 million, the payroll would only be about 75 million anyway. Add a couple of pitchers and see where it goes from there. The Dodgers team average went up almost 20 POINTS since Man-ny arrived. They weren't doing anything before he showed up. Make the offer a one-year deal so that he doesn't feel like he's a hostage to the organization, all he wants is control - so give it to him. Big deal. They'll make that much more with butts in the seats anyway and it'll be peace and love for all concerned.

Posted by: Brue | October 3, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I hadn't heard about Eddie Brinkman dying. He was one of my favorite Senators in 1969 and 1970.

Prior to Ted Williams, Brinkman was one of the worst hitters I ever saw. I remember that prior to spring training '69, Williams had mentioned in an interview that Brinkman was something like 18-1 as a pitcher at Moeller high school in Cincinnati and perhaps a position change might make sense. But then he came to home plate against the Yankees on Opening Day with that odd-looking bottle bag and began slapping line drives all over the field. He hit, what, .267 in '69 and .266 in '70? Amazing.

One of the reasons I hated the Orioles had to do with Brinkman. Whatever we did well, they did better. In an area that the Senators should receive some kind of national attention, the Orioles were the ones who had the stories written about them.

Without a doubt, Eddie Brinkman and Kenny McMullen were as good a defensive left side of the infield as you could find in the American League, but it was Brooks Robinson and Mark Belanger who got all the ink. You'd think that Brinkman's offensive showing would push him past Balanger as the "better shortstop." Nope. That year, Balanger hit even better, going from something like .210 to .287.

I'll miss him. He had a brother, Chuck, who was a catcher for the White Sox.

Posted by: The Beltway Boy | October 3, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

someone, help, new post please.

Posted by: assign an intern | October 3, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

The thing I remember most about Brinkman is that he was part of that awful trade to the Tigers for a washed-up, alcoholic Denny McClain. That was likely the beginning of the end of those Senators in DC.

Was hoping Harlan would at least move Wed's chat script over for comments. Pretty stale over here, though.

Posted by: gohornsgo | October 3, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Well, we had a decent hot stove discussion going on concerning Swisher, so I thought maybe I would re-post my (long) list of other potential trade prospects in hopes of generating some further discussion. With apologies for the length, here it is again:

Low-Hanging Fruit:

Nick Swisher (28 years old; plays 1B and all 3 OF positions; seasonal averages of .244/.354/.452 and 28 HRs, 87 RBIs and 2 SBs; downside is his contract goes from an attractive $3.6m this year to a manageable $5.3m in ’09, then $6.75m in ’10 and then an unappealing $9m in 2011, followed by $10.25m in ’12 but with a $1m buyout).

Hank Blalock (28; 1B; .274/.336/.462; 26-96-2; $6.2m team option in ’09 is quite reasonable).


“More Zimmermans” Already Locked Up

Grady Sizemore (26, CF; .280/.371/.493; 27-83-28; signed to a very reasonable contract through 2012; we’re not getting him back).

Troy Tulowitzki (24; SS; .273/.343/.432; 19-86-6; also signed to a reasonable contract through 2013; hard to see him leaving the Rockies).

Miguel Cabrera (26; 1B; .309/.382/.542; 36-125-1; will make $11m in 2008 and is signed through 2015 when this salary will be $22m; any chance Detroit regrets the deal given that he’s too fat to play third?)

Curtis Granderson (28; CF; .283/.351/.496; 22-71-14; signed through 2012 when he will make $10m; another reasonable contract for a relatively young star.)

Hanley Ramirez (26; SS; .307/.378/.525; 27-72-47; signed through 2014 when he will make $16m; still another reasonable contract that even the Marlins probably don’t need to move).

Ryan Braun (25; LF; .303/.351/.587; 43-123-18; signed through 2015 when he will make $12m; looks like a bargain).

Justin Morneau (28; 1B; .283/.349/.502; 30-117-1; signed through 2013 when he will make $14m; another bargain).

Jose Reyes (25; SS; .287/.337/.437; 13-66-62; signed through 2011 when he will make $11m; maybe for Guzman and our entire bullpen?)

Robinson Cano (26; 2B; .301/.334/.467; 18-86-3; signed through 2012 when he will make $14m but had a serious dropoff this year after signing the big deal; might be a Hank casualty but also might not be a good long-term risk).

Adrian Gonzalez (27; 1B; .282/.349/.494; 29-98-0; signed through 2011 when he will make $4.75m, followed by a club option in 2012 at $5.5m; another bargain and it’s hard to see them moving him).


Arbitration-Eligibles (aka the Marlins), or at least Close; or Otherwise Interesting

Mike Jacobs (28; 1B; .262/.318/.499; 31-96-2; a decent piece at the right price).

Dan Uggla (28; 2B; .263/.341/.491; 32-95-5; see Jacobs, Mike).

Jeremy Hermida (25; RF; .265/.341/.434; 18-68-6; would only fit if we trade Kearns and play Dukes in CF).

Hunter Pence (26; OF; .294/.336/.500; 26-93-13; another RF)

Matt Kemp (24; CF; .299/.340/.472; 18-75-27; would look pretty good at the top of our lineup; a Milledge-Kemp-Dukes OF, anyone?)

Andre Ethier (27; RF; .297/.361/.481; 17-76-4; a slightly older, better version of Hermida).

James Loney (25; 1B; .304/.355/.481; 17-93-4; would be nice but no reason for LA to move him).

Prince Fielder (25; 1B; .278/.370/.534; 31-98-4; do the Brewers want to avoid a Howard-style arbitration award?)

J.J. Hardy (26; SS; .271/.330/.448; 23/78/2; decent piece; no word on whether he wants to be referred to simply as JJ).

Delmon Young (23; LF; .291/.325/.412; 12-81-12; still young (so to speak) and doesn’t really fit).

Carlos Gomez (23; .251/.294/.345; 7-54-34; not ready for prime time).

Ryan Howard (29; 1B; .278/.370/.587; 50-141-1; got $10m in arbitration last year; tough to ignore those homers, or those strikeouts; Tex looks like a better bet at 29).

Adam LaRoche (29; .272/.340/.491; 26-91-0; got $5m in arbitration last year; hard to get excited about for some reason).

Nate McLouth (27; CF; .263/.339/.465; 19-60-21; has showed nice progress; an older version of Kemp but still a nice fit).

B.J. Upton (24; CF; .279/.368/.426; 17-75-35; would be a good project to have but they have no reason to trade him).

Josh Hamilton (28; CF; .300/.370/.538; 34-115-6; supposedly in negotiations over a long-term deal).


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

Any takers? Thoughts? Favorites?

Posted by: Bob L. Head | October 3, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

"Improved defense....this team lead the NL and second in all Baseball in errors.....what is Acta going to make defense a point of emphasis again next year....."
___________________________

Maybe Kasten was referring to Bonifacio's proclivity to miss grounders (and not touch them), thus turning seeming errors into hits!

Didn't they tell us that Bonifacio had a superb glove? All you have to do is hit it at him with a little mistard and out comes the O-LAY!

Posted by: 756* | October 3, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Matt Kemp (24; CF; .299/.340/.472; 18-75-27; would look pretty good at the top of our lineup; a Milledge-Kemp-Dukes OF, anyone?)

Andre Ethier (27; RF; .297/.361/.481; 17-76-4; a slightly older, better version of Hermida).
____________________________

It will be hard to pry them away from the Dodgers unless Manny signs with them. Even though they have a wealth of OFs now, if Manny goes, then they're down to Kemp, Ethier, Pierre and Jones. Their approach to Pierre and Jones should be similar to ours with Dimitri and Nick. Who knows when either of them will be healthy or productive, so we can't get rid of one without the other, but they are too valuable to bench...

Posted by: 756* | October 3, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I love Lou Piniella’s approach.....no sugar coating it, no babying players.....Fukadoma is not “learning at the MLB level”, he is not “just a game away from tuning it around”, he is ice cold and hurting the team (how much better would it have been if Acta had taken this approach with Pena) and Lou just tells it like it is, he will not play again this year.....good for Lou....the rest of the team is going to have so much more respect for the game and the leadership by hearing it the way they know it is....Not the Acta way of making excuses for everyone all the time.

Posted by: JayB | October 3, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Ryan Braun (25; LF; .303/.351/.587; 43-123-18; signed through 2015 when he will make $12m; looks like a bargain).

Justin Morneau (28; 1B; .283/.349/.502; 30-117-1; signed through 2013 when he will make $14m; another bargain).

Adrian Gonzalez (27; 1B; .282/.349/.494; 29-98-0; signed through 2011 when he will make $4.75m, followed by a club option in 2012 at $5.5m; another bargain and it’s hard to see them moving him).
_____________________________________

I would take any of these 3 but no chance of getting them. Ryan Braun and Adrian Gonzalez are the cornerstones of their respective franchises and I see no chance at either one of them at this point in time. The Padres will be ready to trade Adrian Gonzalez on July 31, 2012.
_____________________________________
Mike Jacobs (28; 1B; .262/.318/.499; 31-96-2; a decent piece at the right price).

Dan Uggla (28; 2B; .263/.341/.491; 32-95-5; see Jacobs, Mike).

Jeremy Hermida (25; RF; .265/.341/.434; 18-68-6; would only fit if we trade Kearns and play Dukes in CF).

Hunter Pence (26; OF; .294/.336/.500; 26-93-13; another RF)

Matt Kemp (24; CF; .299/.340/.472; 18-75-27; would look pretty good at the top of our lineup; a Milledge-Kemp-Dukes OF, anyone?)

Andre Ethier (27; RF; .297/.361/.481; 17-76-4; a slightly older, better version of Hermida).
_____________________________________

These are all good names that would fit in if you can get for more than a 1 year cup of coffee and the assumption you wouldn't have to give much up.

You still have to clear out some room in the basement with WMP, NickJohnson, Dmitri, and Kearns.

Hopefully there is another reclamation project out there like Elijah Dukes!!!

Posted by: Andrew | October 3, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Would love to see a try for Uggla. Question mark at 2b is as big or bigger than at 1b. Hernandez shows promise but EBone has a long way to go before he's even close to the player we were led to expect. Belliard is a 2009 fallback option as he hit very well and had good fldg stats (at 2b) in 2008 but of course is not a long term solution.

Posted by: gohornsgo | October 3, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"Hopefully there is another reclamation project out there like Elijah Dukes!!!"
__________________________________

While I see the value of this comment, it would nice if the Nats don't become the Cincinnati Bengals of MLB. There is danger and not much upside (see their record) in that.

Posted by: 756* | October 3, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

756* - I agree with you. You can't have too many of those players then they get lost in the shuffle and you lose control, but you never know if there is a player out there in someone else's clubhouse who doesn't fit in. The Nats have played with fire before (pre-Lerner) like Jose Guillen which worked out well while he was here. Some considered bringing Dmitri in as a potential problem and he has been a good clubhouse guy.

Lets hope we never look like the Cincy Bengals with all their off the field problems.

Top of my wishlist is Mark Teixeira but I'm not giving it good odds.


Posted by: Andrew | October 3, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

The Nats get no respect, this time it's from today's Tank McNamara comic strip:

http://wpcomics.washingtonpost.com/client/wpc/tm/

Posted by: no respect | October 3, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Wow, if they were going to insult us I would have hoped it would at least been funny.

Posted by: estuartj | October 3, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

That Tank McNamara strip only ran in the Washington Post. You know, like when the Nats play in the Fox Saturday game of the week and it's only shown in theirs and their opponents' markets.

Posted by: of course, given the subject matter, in the dead tree edition it ran on page A1, in full color | October 3, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Just wanted to stop by and light a votive candle for one of my all-time expansion Senators favorites. Shortstop Ed Brinkman, who played for the AL expansionistas from late 1961 until being traded to Detroit in the infamous Denny McLain deal, diesd this week at age 66. Brinks was never the best or the flashiest shortstop in the American League while with Washington and at the plate was Mario Mendoza before the "Mendoza Line" was ever discovered. But, my God, he covered lots of ground and had one of the strongest infield arms of his time. Ed never learned to hit until Ted Williams came to town in 1969, and went from a .180-something automatic out to a respectable .260-something batsman. I have many fond memories of his glovework and hustle for so many bad teams that I just wanted to publicly say "thanks" to ol' No. 11 and not let his passing go unnoticed.

Posted by: leetee1955 | October 3, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Well said leetee1955.

Thanks, Eddie.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | October 4, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday's article on the Washington Nationals in the CityPaper was a cheap shot and a low blow. I don't understand the propensity for this area's newspapers to take great delight in sensationalizing the negatives about the Nats, the Stadium, the ownership, the attendance, the team, etc. There is much good that will come of this team and this stadium in the city.

Posted by: 6th and D | October 4, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Well, I'm among those dubious about Acta's managerial skills. Nevertheless, looking at the collapses of the Cubs, White Sox, Angels and Brewers in the division playoffs, I have to wonder where blame lies for such poor performances by teams with good to outstanding records. And there are a whole bunch of teams with better records than the Nats that still lack playoff potential. Look up the road to the Os. They've been in the dumps for many years, and this year was a disaster for them. Is Trembley going to make a difference in his second full year in '09? I doubt it.

The formula for winning baseball playoffs remains a mystery to me. The rest of it—the entire regular season—doesn't seem to make much difference. From that perspective, what difference does it make whether the Nats lose 100 games or 70? They're still not going to be winning playoffs in our lifetimes. So we should sit back and enjoy the show and forget about whether Bowden, Acta or whomever is competent. It don't make no nevermind.

Posted by: JohnR(VA) | October 4, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I hope the post and NJ will provide more coverage in the offseason than they have so far.

As for the season, well, it was the season. I love these guys. I'm more worried about the way the ownership is handling the fan base than I am about how the brass is handling the team - as long as we're willing to ink a free agent or two, we'll be competitive soon.

Posted by: nattaboy | October 4, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

For the new post clamorers (that's not a word... oh, wait, NOW it is...) - this from the last entry (just to remind you):

"For the next few weeks, I'll have my head buried in day-to-day postseason coverage. (I'll be starting out in Chicago on Wednesday.)"

Yes, yes, _I_ hear you out there: we don't care about the playoffs, just cover the local team, thank you...

Posted by: But that's not gonna happen, so... | October 4, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, cut Chico a break -there isn't even any new Nats news on the Nats' website. Let's enjoy the playoffs.

Chico, good story on Jamie Moyer today.

Posted by: Traveler | October 4, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

6th and D, thanks for commenting on the CityPaper article--I saw the cover and thought I'd probably get purple in the face if I read it, so I didn't.
**********
Yesterday's article on the Washington Nationals in the CityPaper was a cheap shot and a low blow. I don't understand the propensity for this area's newspapers to take great delight in sensationalizing the negatives about the Nats, the Stadium, the ownership, the attendance, the team, etc. There is much good that will come of this team and this stadium in the city.

Posted by: 6th and D | October 4, 2008 9:30 AM

Posted by: Section 109 | October 4, 2008 10:41 PM | Report abuse

In regards to the Lerners not paying rent for the new stadium I am a little confused. Are they actually paying no rent and do not intend to until 100% of the punch items are complete? Are they making any payments at all on the stadium? I have personally been involved in punch lists on construction sites my whole life and I can vouch that if an owner has no intentions of settling the list then it will not get settled until a third party rules in the contractor's favor. Some of the items, such as roof leaks and dugouts flooding are deemed major and should have been fixed in the first two weeks of April, no excuses. If the Lerners have major items in contention yet unresolved then they should indeed publish the list so that the court of public opinion can fairly weigh in. As long as the information is second or third hand then this will be bad for all parties because it becomes fertile for gossip and innuendo. Yuck!

Posted by: Dale | October 5, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Apparently the $3.5M annual rent payment for the stadium is due in one lump sum every year. Thus, the Lerners have withheld the first payment in order to pressure the city to complete the punch list, but the second payment is not yet due. Will the Lerners eventually make this rent payment? Yes, of course, and probably with interest - either when the city completes the punch list or if the arbiter rules against them, whichever comes first. The Lerners are also asking for $100,000 per day in contractual damages, which even they probably realize they will not be awarded in arbitrartion, but which serves to further place pressure on the city to just complete the work rather than having to go to court and argue the case for why they haven't done so yet. Meanwhile, the city is collecting all the tax revenues they are entitled to under the terms of the stadium agreement, taxes on ticket sales, concessions, parking, etc. This revenue is much, much greater than the withheld rent payment, which is why the city hasn't evicted the team from the new stadium and forced them to play at RFK (which, BTW, the city had in no shape for baseball on opening day anyway - making their "they could have played in RFK" statement laughable on its face).

Bottom line, this rent dispute is not frivolous or ridiculous as the Post characterizes it in editorials or columns. Pursuing stadium completion this way may be bad PR for the Lerners, but clearly they are only doing it because there are still serious issues with the stadium and they see this move as the only way they'll ever get the city to resolve those issues.

Posted by: An Briosca Mor | October 5, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Apparently the $3.5M annual rent payment for the stadium is due in one lump sum every year. Thus, the Lerners have withheld the first payment in order to pressure the city to complete the punch list, but the second payment is not yet due. Will the Lerners eventually make this rent payment? Yes, of course, and probably with interest - either when the city completes the punch list or if the arbiter rules against them, whichever comes first. The Lerners are also asking for $100,000 per day in contractual damages, which even they probably realize they will not be awarded in arbitrartion, but which serves to further place pressure on the city to just complete the work rather than having to go to court and argue the case for why they haven't done so yet. Meanwhile, the city is collecting all the tax revenues they are entitled to under the terms of the stadium agreement, taxes on ticket sales, concessions, parking, etc. This revenue is much, much greater than the withheld rent payment, which is why the city hasn't evicted the team from the new stadium and forced them to play at RFK (which, BTW, the city had in no shape for baseball on opening day anyway - making their "they could have played in RFK" statement laughable on its face).

Bottom line, this rent dispute is not frivolous or ridiculous as the Post characterizes it in editorials or columns. Pursuing stadium completion this way may be bad PR for the Lerners, but clearly they are only doing it because there are still serious issues with the stadium and they see this move as the only way they'll ever get the city to resolve those issues.

Posted by: An Briosca Mor | October 5, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps we should simply hijack the blog from Chico during the offseason. Maybe we readers should write some in-depth stories and leave them as comments, allowing the rest of the group to comment on.

The mainstream media seems to believe that a team being in the off-season means they must also be off-topic. The funnest (most fun?) part of the year is October - March, when the team makes personnel decisions, i.e. trades, signings, releases, etc.

C'mon regular readers, what say you? I think I'll write something and post it in the next day or too. I don't have time to blog every day right now, but I sure can put together a few paragraphs about something I dearly love.

Posted by: The Beltway Boy | October 5, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

It's great when ABM makes things up based on his view of the world. Nice to see you posting here again, dude! Now, can you give us some factual support for your statements about the Lerners' motives and intentions?

Posted by: Lerners ARE Cheap | October 5, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

What have I made up, Lerners ARE Cheap? Everything I said I got from somewhere in the press or on the Internet, just not from the Post - since the Post is not covering this story, but rather just editorializing on it. Did you read the City Paper pieces that detailed the problems with the stadium, the things on the punchlist? They're not minor, as the Post would lead us to believe. Or are you just too cheap yourself to read a free paper? Wouldn't surprise me.

If you'd actually read what I wrote, rather than going on your gut instinct that says the Lerners can do no right, because they ARE cheap, you'd see that I say that the handling of this is probably a bad PR move on their part. Surely you don't think they don't realize that? Clearly, for them to take such an obvious PR risk, they must truly believe that they are in the right on this stadium completion issue. And you know, the more I read about it, the more I see that says that there is some substance to the Lerners' position on this. Although unfortunately none of what I read is being reported in the Post, that sorry excuse for a newspaper. But that doesn't mean the truth is not out there, does it, just because the Post refuses to report it?

Posted by: An Briosca Mor | October 5, 2008 7:21 PM | Report abuse

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/columns/looselips/

Posted by: ABM's not making this up | October 5, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

I vote no on readers highjacking the blog, and yes on readers showing some patience (or starting their own blogs if they feel the need to take over here).

Also, thanks for the link, ABM.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 5, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

During the playoffs last year, this blog was more active because various Post writers were contributing playoff-related stories. Now those stories are split off into another blog, so this blog is less active for the time being. I'm sure that things will pick up again here (IOW, it's not a vast MSM conspiracy).

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 5, 2008 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I have read the Citypaper articles, ABM, thanks. I have also read the applicable contracts. Have you?

Anyway, my point--as I said in my prior comment--was that you are just theorizing as to why the Lerners might be doing certain things, and what they might be expecting. Except you state these things as if they are fact. But unless you speak for the Lerners, you can't know these things as fact since they haven't commented on the dispute.

Posted by: Lerners ARE Cheap | October 5, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

How obtuse do you think I am, LAC, you name-dropper you? You state that you have "read the applicable contracts",and therefore what YOU say must be right, and no one else knows squat. So you've read the contracts, have you? Well, whoop de frickin doo.

There can't be all that many theories on why the Lerners are doing what they're doing. Either they think they're in the right, or they're stubbornly stupid and trying to make some kind of point about how bad a baseball ownership group could possibly be. I mean, what other motivations could there possibly be? I choose to think that they believe they have a case and are pressing it, despite the bad PR they're getting by doing it. You apparently think otherwise. You state as fact that the Lerners are cheap, yet how can you know that any more than I know they're not? Because you've read the contract? Give me a break.

Posted by: An Briosca Mor | October 5, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Chill out, ABM. First you try to mock me and say that I haven't read anything. Then when I respond by telling you what I have read, you irrationally take offense to it. You are nothing if not predictable. Anyway, for some inexplicable reason you are still concocting theories and promoting them as fact in your unending effort to defend the Lerners. Keep at it.

Posted by: Lerners ARE Cheap | October 5, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

"Anyway, for some inexplicable reason you are still concocting theories and promoting them as fact in your unending effort to defend the Lerners. Keep at it."

LAC, I'm doing no more in defending the Lerners than you are in disparaging them. We'll see how this whole "substantially complete" thing plays out. My prediction: The District will fix the stadium, and the Lerners will pay the rent, plus interest. Lots of lawyers will make lots of money. And you will still be an asshat.

Posted by: An Briosca Mor | October 5, 2008 11:30 PM | Report abuse

ABM, there's no need to engage in personal attacks. Again, though, you are nothing if not predictable.

Posted by: Lerners ARE Cheap | October 6, 2008 1:02 AM | Report abuse

We interrupt this discussion to bring you a new post.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 6, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

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