Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: AdamKilgoreWP and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  E-mail alerts: Sports and Redskins  |  RSS

Thoughts from Bowden on 2008 and Beyond

In step with the discussions we've had on this board in the last few days about the composition of the Nats in 2009 -- and about how you assess the team in 2008 -- I thought I'd pass along some thoughts from GM Jim Bowden which he gave recently in one of those cluster media sessions. (And yes, you get to hear more from Bowden today at the ESPN Zone.)

As for some reading material, make sure you check out not just today's gamer, but also David Nakamura's Metro story about the disappointing revenues at Nats Park.

Now, on with the GM...

Q: In the end, how do you evaluate Austin Kearns' season?

It's over. Work for next year. How do I evaluate it? In terms of what? Based on the injuries (that caused him) to not put up his numbers. They're behind us. That's how we look at it. It's in the rear view mirror now. He could be a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year; we've had a bunch of those, so get him healthy and get him back.

Q: Did he cost himself by trying to play hurt?

He's always going to play hurt. If you don't stop him, he's just going to keep playing. That's what he did with the shoulder, that's what he did with the elbow, that's what he did with the foot. You know, he plays with broken foots and bone spurs and that's just the way he is.

Q: All these things that have happened -- does that make this year hard to evaluate?

I think we all have a pretty good idea of what peoples' potentials and talents are, even with the injured players. We had the opportunities to see other players and younger players and see how they fit in for next year. I think we all have a pretty good feel on what the players are when they're healthy and what the risks are for players who were not healthy.

Q: When you look at all the injuries, do you search for the silver lining -- opening doors for Hanrahan, for Flores?

We finish the year, and what we look at is the development of our young players and which one of our young players do we thing is going to continue to improve and be able to excel at this level. And with this difficult season we've had, we have a lot of good young position players and good young pitchers that we walk into next year that are already pieces that have already proven they can compete at this level. That's what we accomplished this year.

As far as evaluating the team, you look at W-L record. That's what the team is. Will that mean that's what the team will be next year? No. Certainly when you evaluate it, you project what you think your young players are going to do. You look at what you do in trades or free agency or other prospects coming up. And you've got to take into account the risks of injured players who didn't play this year who might come back.

Q: You saw Hanrahan's big save [Tuesday]. When evaluating a closer, where do performances like that fit in with the evaluation?

I mean, the one thing Joel has shown at times... he has gone through the middle of lineups at times, when he is throwing strikes, and dominated them. With the fastball, or the slider, or both. He's dominated big boys. The potential is certainly there, and what he's got to work on is his command. To be a really successful closer, instead of making the 2-2 pitch 3-2, you've got to get the guy out at 2-2. And I think he's making progress. He's got a ways to go, but he's making progress, just like Balester is and Lannan is and Martis is. These young guys are making progress. Garrett Mock. Mike Hinckley. We've got a lot of young pitchers 25, pitching up here and competing, and some of them have been very successful.

Q: With what Hinckley has done so far, going forward, what do you project for him?

Well, he's been 89-93, and he has a big curveball that he gets over for strikes and he's pounding the zone and he's not afraid of whoever he's facing. He goes right after them. If he continues to throw like this, than obviously what he's done is he's created a job for himself as a lefty reliever in our bullpen next year; that's what we've seen so far. If he keeps this up, that's what he is capable of doing.

Q: You mentioned W-L as a barometer. But comparing this year's team with last year's...

Well, it's night and day, because we have so many young players that are now developing in this lineup that we didn't have a year ago. Dukes is 23, Milledge is 23, Bonifacio is 23, Hernandez is 25, Flores is 23, Lannan is 23, Balester is 21, um, Martis is 21, Joel Hanrahan is 25, Mike Hinckley is 25 -- all those guys we're a year ago sitting here as the Plan. They weren't there. So we made really good progress on what the long-term plan is. Stan and the Lerners took over, it's been two years, and our development system continues to get better and our young players at the big league level continue to get better and it's right on target as to what Stan wanted to accomplish when he and the Lerners took over.

Q: People who don't evaluate it that way, look at the record --

Sure. Talk all you want, it all comes down to winning baseball games at this level. So when young teams all of a sudden put it together and they start winning, then the fans will go, 'Wow, they did it right' and they jump on board. That's how it works. You can't talk them into anything. You have to let it happen at this level. You have to win at this level. But I think certainly, the e-mails we get from fans, they certainly understand the progress we've made, the direction we're going in. Everyone has been upfront with the fans from the very beginning and they understand. Does anyone like losing 90 games? No, nobody likes that.

Q: How long will it be until you have a winning team?

I can't put the timetable on it because I don't know, you know, what trades you make, what signings you do. There are too many intangibles you can't jump into. Does a 15-home run guy right now hit 22 next year? Does your team stay healthy? Does John Lannan go from a 10-game winner to a 15-game winner next year, because all of a sudden you score more runs for him? Do Collin Balester and Martis continue the success they've had but now be more consistent? Those are things you can't completely measure. Does Joel Hanrahan all of a sudden throw more strikes and all of a sudden throw more games like he did against the Mets? Certainly with young players, instead of developing them at Class AAA, they're being developed here. Only when you have the talent, though, does it show up.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 19, 2008; 8:05 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Can Syracuse be a Match?
Next: The State of the Nationals (from the Zone)

Comments

Don't know if this is how Bowden talks or Chico transcribes, but this was priceless:

"You know, he plays with broken foots and bone spurs and that's just the way he is."

Oh, for all the times that the broken foots have plagued us. Just reads funny, right?

Posted by: faNATic | September 19, 2008 8:32 AM | Report abuse

did we learn anything new here from Bowden?

Posted by: sid bluntley | September 19, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Nothing new from Nakamura, either, really; the Lerners ain't talkin. But in the related story, this nice graf:

http://tinyurl.com/4y3rgu
Though Developers Built It, The Tenants Did Not Come
...
But 19 months after Lerner Enterprises announced in March 2007 that its shiny 10-story complex at 20 M St. SE, a block north of the baseball stadium, was "substantially complete," it remains substantially empty.

Posted by: CE | September 19, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

i wonder if 'broken foots' is correct since he's referring to multiple occasions of playing with a broken foot, not playing on two broken feet at one time. english is brutal.

Posted by: longterm | September 19, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

But I don't see how they whiffed on the headline "Lerners Coming Up Short"

Posted by: sect. 3, my couch | September 19, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and Chico, you missed asking Jimbow if the team was "substantially complete"--although, to be fair, he's not the one withholding rent, he just works for them.

Posted by: ce | September 19, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

That's gotta be the new marketing tag for next year:

Your Washington Nationals--Substantially Complete!

Posted by: Sec. 3 | September 19, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I don't recall Kearns having a *shoulder* problem. ???

Posted by: NatsNut | September 19, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

For the record, he said "foots."

Posted by: Chico Harlan | September 19, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

where is the grammar police? where are the grammar police? whom is the grammar police? whom are the grammar police? um...

Posted by: longterm | September 19, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

No, but honestly, I'm not sure what Chico was going for, here. "What do you have to say for yourself, Jim?" No offense, but what was the point?

**************
did we learn anything new here from Bowden?
Posted by: sid bluntley | September 19, 2008 8:40 AM

Posted by: ce | September 19, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

We'll be here when you least expect us. NOBODY expects the Grammar Police. Our biggest weapon is the element of surprise, and an almost fanatical devotion to Strunk & White.

Posted by: Grammar Dragnet | September 19, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

"Only when you have the talent, though, does it show up."
OK, JimBo. You've bungled this year's draft. The major league FA signings were disasterous. You have no presence in Asia. So...from where does the talent come? I bought into "The Plan" initially but this year's draft and the MLB FAs have led me to believe you may be aiming to emulate the Pitates rather than the Braves. SoCH may be right, please convince me I'm wrong.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | September 19, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I think the point of this was Chico letting JimBo look like a tool with his own words.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 19, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

He did not "bungle this year's draft." He--arguably--bungled signing the top pick, with lots of help to bungle it on all sides.
And that's just one year.
Odalis Perez wasn't Cy Young, but he wasn't Andruw Jones, either--now THAT was a disaster (and they'll win anyway). Lo Duca and Estrada were unnecessary, and cost them some games, and possibly delayed Flores' trip to the DL, but we know who the catcher is--nothing lost but some games in a losing season; certainly not a disaster.
Unless you mean the one(s) they didn't sign, but even then, disaster is a bit strong.
Asia: I got nothing, I don't know; maybe they don't, either.

Posted by: ce, just being fair | September 19, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

From the "cluster media session" descriptor (ahem), I gather that it was not a one-on-one interview, so any credit/blame should probably go to more than one journalist. That said, I like it that Chico gives us the questions and full responses in such transcripts (no dreaded ellipses).

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 19, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I doubt that was Chico's intent, but even so, the question stands.

**************
I think the point of this was Chico letting JimBo look like a tool with his own words.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 19, 2008 9:02 AM

Posted by: ce | September 19, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

What, we're supposed to read THE WHOLE ... THING, now, before opining and aspersionating? Awww, maaaaan ...

**********
From the "cluster media session" descriptor (ahem), I gather that it was not a one-on-one interview, so any credit/blame should probably go to more than one journalist. That said, I like it that Chico gives us the questions and full responses in such transcripts (no dreaded ellipses).

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 19, 2008 9:12 AM

Posted by: CE, on lunch | September 19, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

In retrospect, there were a couple of instances of ellipses...

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 19, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

"aspersionating" being the casting of aspersions? (just curious, as I haven't encountered that one before)

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 19, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

For what its worth, I interpret the three sets of ellipses in the interview above as representing the other type of meaning that such punctuation may have (an indication of trailing off or pausing for thought).

In other words, that would be your previously suggested pregnant pause, 1a?

Posted by: faNATic | September 19, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I would interpret them that way as well, faNATic.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 19, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Also, two of them seem to be reporter-generated rather than GM-generated.

We will leave the em dashes for another discussion. Class dismissed. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 19, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

What could the Brewers be thinking?
http://www.sacbee.com/100/story/1248904.html

Posted by: 756* | September 19, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Bowden is right that we developed some young guys this year that might be part of the future here, but we also lost a bunch of pieces that no longer look like parts of a contender (Nick, Meat, FLop, Kearns, Patterson, Hill, Rauch, Cordero). We know we're missing a true leadoff guy, a power hitting outfielder and first baseman, and at least one if not two frontline starters. A year ago we thought that some of the players in my list above would fill some of those open slots. Now, not so much. Hence, PlanCreep -- we now have to talk about 2012 not 2010.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 19, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I should have included Pena in that list as well.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 19, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

just curious ... who does have a presence in Asia? LA, SEA, SD, and other west coast teams are obvious due to their proximity. BOS, CUBS, NYY and NYM obviously because of their deep pockets and deep history in MLB. But are there any other teams with a true presence in Asia?

Posted by: e | September 19, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

This quote re: Kearns is hilarious.

"evaluate? what is this 'evaluate' you speak of? Is that like how do I spin the situation to make it seem like it's not a total freaking blunder of epic proportions? ah, ok, I know how to do that...."

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 19, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

"What could the Brewers be thinking?"

O.o

Wow. Seriously?!?

No mention on MLBTR.com..

Posted by: Section 138 | September 19, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Giants, Orioles, and D'Backs have been heavily scouting Japan this year.
http://tinyurl.com/3va54s
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ But are there any other teams with a true presence in Asia?

Posted by: e | September 19, 2008 10:02 AM

Posted by: Section 138 | September 19, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

And this part at the end where Chico 3 times has to ask "yeah, but the team is losing a lot, so what do you say about that?" and keeps getting interrupted and he keeps coming back to it... I would love to have a tape of that.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 19, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

"I'm glad we're over with them so they can move on and play somebody else," manager Manny Acta said. "It's just very tough to keep those guys down."

Yea Manny, it is especially tough when you sit two of your best players at the end of the game. It seems you wanted NY to win. If you like NY so much why don't you go join them. You are not helping us, you dolt.

Posted by: mjames | September 19, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Bob, I can't agree with your plan creep assessment. I'm working on a post explaining why, but it might take me awhile to get out. The summary: I think the closest you can argue is Plan slide, a lateral movement.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 19, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

If the trade rumor has any merit to it whatsoever, Trader Jim needs to poke his head in there and see if there's any way to make it a three-team conversation. I'd take Cain, Fielder, or Hardy in a heartbeat and worry about shuffling our own personnel around later.

Posted by: faNATic | September 19, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Date line November 15 2008....in a stunning turn of events the notoriously frugal Lerner family committed $260 Millon over the next six years to CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. The move potentially vaults the nationals into contender status and locks up two superstars in the prime of their carrers. As a side note, the deals were negotiated by Brian Cashman who recently replaced Jim Bowden as the GM of the nationals......

oh, damn, I was just dreaming...

Posted by: 117 F | September 19, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

i never considered Nick, Meat, FLop, Kearns, Patterson, Hill, Rauch, Cordero or wily mo as part of the future. they were all signed short to intermediary, with injury track records. definitely worth the gamble but all very short term options given an opportunity to impress.

cordero never really did it for me. rauch had most potential to be here but no point in waiting for that. we can resign him in 5 years for our playoff run.

i'm happy with milledge, and dukes, and zimmerman. flores, i hope can do it for a full year, but i'm ready to include him also.

now if we can just sign sheets and burnett we'll be on our way.

Posted by: longterm | September 19, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I am deeply disturbed by the lack of an international presence. We should be scouting and signing early and often all across the globe. Of course the same rules apply to international free agents as domestic ones: spend smart. The return however can be even greater. Signing a Japanese player of a Yu Darvish caliber would give the Nationals instant credibility and an immediate foothold in a strong and new international market. Not saying that we need to sign a guy like that, but I should at least hear rumors of the Nats scouting guys like that.

I think the rest of the team's development is going pretty well. The front office has provided us with a club that is younger and more talented then last year's team, and all the while kept the farm system moving in the right direction. Yes it hurt not getting Crow, but the rest of the draft appears to be strong and the true strength of a draft is in its depth, not its top pick. Not every hall of famer was a first round pick and not every first rounder even makes it to the majors (just look at the pirates and royals). Its important to lock these guys up but its more important to find late round gems. I can't wait to see who the John Lannan of the 2008 draft is.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | September 19, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I'd rather have our own Mike Rizzo running the ballclub then Brian Cashman. Yes Cashman has had to put up with the Stienbrenner clan for his whole career, but he has also been given a blank check and has simply managed to stock the roster with overpriced has-beens, overhyped never-weres, and tear the farm system into a shell of what it once was. I think the heir apparent to Bowden is the guy sitting in the office down the hall.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | September 19, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"I am deeply disturbed by the lack of an international presence."

Last time I looked at a map, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba, Curacao and even Canada (to name just a few of the countries of origin of present or former Nationals players) are located outside the boundaries of the United States. That would qualify as an international presence.

Posted by: i am deeply disturbed by your lack of understanding of geography and geopolitics | September 19, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

i'd love to have cashman. is anyone even sure rizzo wants to be a gm? i assume he does but a lot of times it's not the case. i will wish bowden well if his time here is short. he did what was asked of him by MLB and the Lerners. of that i have no doubt. he'll get another gm job someday.

Posted by: longterm | September 19, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Applegate gave me a very reasonable price.

"I'd take Cain, Fielder, or Hardy in a heartbeat and worry about shuffling our own personnel around later."

Posted by: Joe Hardy | September 19, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Okay, ready for a long post? I'm really sorry, there wasn't a way to shorten it.

------

So here’s how I’m looking at our progress towards the plan. Below is a list of the positions, comparing where we thought we were towards the Plan at the beginning of this season and where I think we are now. I’ve divided the players into “hits” for those guys I think are part of the future and the “shots”, the guys who are still possibilities for the future. I think there’s a real difference right off the bat, Bob, because I never thought of Patterson and Johnson as part of the future.

The Staff:
April – Hill, Chico, Bergmann, and Redding (4) and Lannan, Mock and O’Connor (3)
Sept – Lannan, Balestar, and Redding (3) and Bergmann, Martis, and Zimmermann (3)
Net – -1 Hits, 0 Shots
Evaluation – A step back, we’re now less confident in the number of hits we have

Catcher:
April – Flores (1)
Sept – Flores and Nieves (2) and Montz (1)
Net - +1 Hits, +1 Shots
Evaluation – Our catcher situation is much better and we’d be happy, if we hadn’t been distracted driving through the dump to get here.

First:
April – No one (0) and Marrero (1)
Sept – No one (0) and Marrero and Reinhart (2)
Net – 0 Hits, +1 Shots
Evaluation – These are long shots, to be fair, but it’s still one more long shot than we thought we had in April. I think this is going to be our free agent need.

Second:
April – Lopez (1) and no one (0)
Sept – No one (0) and Bonifacio, Hernandez, Gonzales, and Orr (4)
Net - -1 Hits, +4 Shots
Evaluation – These are only the top guys. In lower levels there’s even more middle infielders. And, frankly, if we had more season we might very well find out Hernandez is a hit. Also, worth noting, Belliard is totally awesome, even if he’s not part of the future.

Third:
April – Zimmerman (1)
Sept – Zimmerman (1)
Net – 0 Hits, 0 Shots
Evaluation – Don’t even pretend.

Short:
April – No one (0) and Guzman (1)
Sept – Guzman (1) and Hernandez and Gonzales (2)
Net - +1 Hits, +2 Shots
Evaluation – Don’t anyone even pretend like you knew Guzman would play this well the entire season. The addition of Hernandez and Gonzales gives additional depth. Is middle infield a strength?

Outfield:
April – Kearns (1) and WMP, Dukes, Milledge, Casto and Maxwell (5)
Sept – Milledge and Dukes (2) and Kearns, Maxwell, Casto and Bernadina (4)
Net - +1 Hits, -1 Shots
Evaluation – This was the hardest to evaluate, so I lumped them all together. Wherever Milledge plays, I think it’s clear that he can play outfield. Wily Mo Pena and Kearns may be back, or maybe not. Casto, I think, is going to be a career utility man, but one never knows. And Willie Harris may be all that is right in the world, but he will have to unselfishly carry on to the next town, doing good for all those in need.

Bullpen:
April – Rivera, Ayala, Rauch, and Cordero (4) and Colome, Hanrahan, and Schroder (3)
Sept – Rivera and Hanrahan (2) and Hinckley, Shell, and Mock (3)
Net - -2 Hits, 0 Shots
Evaluation – No doubt that our bullpen has had the biggest slide, but there’s a lot of promise for the future, I think, especially since some of our not-as-promising starters could wind up here. Bullpen is also always the most volatile part of a team, prone to many ups and downs, so solidifying them before the rest of the team doesn’t really make sense.

Total Net:
-1 Hits, +7 Shots

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 19, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

ce,
Glad you disagree! That allows for discussion. I say the Nat's bungled the draft because "The Plan" required building from the bottom with building meaning acquisition of young players with potential.
How do they acquire such players?
MLB FAs - I think we agree there was a problem there.
Asia - no action evident.
Dom Rep - apparently a very good start since we have two teams and one champion in the DSL.
Draft 2007 - Outstanding
Draft 2008 - This may suprize you but I think it may have been average not terrible but for us anything less than outstanding is disasterous because we started behind every other team. They didn't get #1 Crow but they get a 2009 #9a. This has been cussed and discussed enough that I need not go into it here. The Nats did a good job in signing 2-13 and 15 by, in several cases, paying over slot.
MLB player development is so dependent on large numbers of players entering the system for a relative few that are successful in MLB. The problem I have with the 2008 draft is that for a couple of millon dollars more they could perhaps have signed 14 Coleman, 20 Akins, 26 Mazzoni, 29 Heston, 31 Harper, 32 Silverstein, and 33 Cather, giving them 2-35. It may have taken first round $ for Silverstein and maybe second round for Coleman (just guessing). A special effort like that would have me believing in the plan. Even an attempt to do so would have been comforting. Unfortunately they could do no better than, perhaps, average. That's not a plan that is capitulation. I hope I'm wrong.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | September 19, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

"Gold doubloons and pieces of eight
Handed down from Applegate
From buccaneers who fought for years
For gold doubloons and pieces of eight"

Tragically, J.J. Hardy's full name is James Jerry Hardy, so Joe and Frank won't do us any good.

Posted by: faNATic | September 19, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully, JimBow won't be here for the "...and beyond" portion.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 19, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

506, that's an interesting, thought-provoking post. Without getting into the finer details, the big-picture problem I see with your analysis is that it seems to include as "part of the plan" anyone who might be an *adequate* or *competent* major leaguer, without looking at or distinguishing who even has the potential to be a star. But on top of needing to have adequate players across the board, stars are what you need in order to contend for a title--just look at the lineups for the Mets, Phils and Marlins and compare.

As I see it, the Nats at best have 2 guys with even the potential to be stars--Zimmerman and Dukes. Lopez and Kearns were both anticipated to be above-average/all-star caliber guys--and not at some time in the future, but presently. That's part of the reason why I think BobL's plan creep assessment is accurate.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 19, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I was thinking more from the D*mn Yankees than the Hardy Boys perspective but interesting...

Posted by: Joe Hardy | September 19, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, great counter question, CiL. You're right that my hit list does count serviceable major leaguers rather than stars. I guess the question is how many stars do you need? The Phillies have Utley (bastard), Rollins, and Howard on bases and Hamels on the mound. Is three or four the right number? Five? Go Yankees, and say nine? Realistically, I think that most players will not be stars, so we need to first worry about serviceable major leaguers, since we're short on those, too.

As far as whether we've progressed on stars or not, wouldn't having two potential stars instead of one potential star be an improvement?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 19, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Right, CiL. 506, we can agree that we have more "shots" lying around, but the hope was that we didn't have to fill the entire roster with "shots" that proved to be "hits." As it stands, it may be that ZERO players from the 2006 roster are part of our now-2012 "contender." The hoped-for 2010 contender would have included at least 4-6 veterans that took steps forward -- it doesn't look like we have any of those at this point, and that's a pretty major disappointment. Hence, PlanCreep. That said, I'll be there supporting the kids. Go Sky Chiefs!

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 19, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

In fact, let me summarize the 2008 season as follows:

NatsLuck => PlanCreep.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 19, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

But Bob, a lot of these "shots" weren't shots at the beginning of the year because we didn't know about them... but because we didn't even have them. We will know a lot better by June 2009 whether or not Hernandez, Gonzales, or Bonifacio are for real hits, for example, because we'll be able to experiment with them the way we want to.

Flores, Dukes, and Zimmerman all took maybe a month to convince us they were hits, Milledge took maybe four months (and the jury's still out on position). None of those three examples given above have even had that much starting time. I fail to see how 2010 turns into 2012. I know you're counting veterans, but some of our young guys will have significant experience by that point in their career and there's still always the free agents we all want.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 19, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

506, your last question is getting into the details that unfortunately I don't have the time to fully respond to right now, per my last post. But I don't agree that there is improvement on the "potential star" front at all.
First of all, Zimmerman has been a "potential star" since he was drafted. If anything, he has regressed since then as far as probability he will develop into a perennial all-star, though the potential clearly is still there. Second, Lopez and Kearns were both forecast by the team as cornerstone type players two years ago--now we have to take them off the books and replace them with future potential. Third, Johnson, regardless what you personally thought of him, was regarded by the team the same way. As was Patterson, as was Cordero. Go check out comments by Kasten from 06-07 on this stuff. All of these guys are off the books now as far as cornerstone pieces. Those are big steps back, because they were all forecast as more than serviceable ballplayers and are now being replaced--at best--with potential.

I agree we need serviceable major leaguers, but the Plan is about contending, and to do that you need more. I don't think you can worry first about the former, because then a bunch of those guys will then need to be replaced in turn for the team to be a contender--hence, Plan creep.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 19, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Hernandez and Bonifacio aren't the answer at 2nd. The longer Hernandez plays, the more he will float toward .250 with no power. Bonifacio already got exposed. He can't hit right-handed at all. These types of guys fall out of trees. Flores will put up some average, maybe a little better than average numbers, nothing spectacular. Milledge will become average with his production, he's got some pop, but not a lot, and probably never will. He's muddling around .250-.260, and doesn't drive in a helluva lot of runs. Zimmerman needs to find a power stroke, and whether he does that with the Nats is an open question, because he's not happy, according to Boz's column, because he's already on his third losing season. So, the only big hitter we're probably looking at, outside of Guzman, is Dukes. That's it. The team is entertaining in spurts, but when push comes to shove, they don't have enough firepower to compete against good pitchers. This whole potential thing is showing its warts because a lot of these guys have had plenty of ABs, and there doesn't seem to be a lot of consistency. Even if Nick comes back, he hits like a #2 hitter, and he plays a power position. Just like Milledge - you need power from the CF position. And you certainly can't carry a couple of lightweights like Hernandez and Bonifacio if that's the case. Willie Harris is a free agent, and if the Lerners want to save money on him, he may choose to not even come back now that his value is up. He's that 'guy' that all the contenders want - somebody who can play anywhere and still hit fairly well, and doesn't mind sitting on the bench in the interim. Stan was hinting at trades to improve as opposed to FAs when Debbie talked to him the other night. So you can just about guarantee that a couple of these young players who've gotten some exposure this year will be dealt for more power. This whole thing about having a young nucleus in tact, and only adding a couple of players is a pipedream, imo.

Posted by: Brue | September 19, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Sure, developing Flores, Dukes, Milledge and possibly a new second sacker has been a positive. If we added those guys to a team that included Pena as a 40-homer bat, a healthy Nick Johnson with a .400 OBP, and a .280-20-80 hitting Kearns, plus two veteran top-to-middle of the rotation starters in Hill and Patterson, we'd be close. Instead, we're playing holes in left and at first, and we lack ideal top-of-the-order hitters and top-of-the-rotation starters. We had hoped that some of those guys were here already and it doesn't look like they are. That means we either need to sign them as FAs (unlikely) or, as you suggest, wait for more shots to turn into hits. I suppose it's possible that we strike gold and have all of these holes filled by guys that are already in the system and close to the majors, I just think it's a lot harder if it turns out that we literally started from scratch, as it seems we may have.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 19, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the team said that, CiL, but you, Bob, and me, along with most of the blog, all said no on Patterson, and in various combinations said probably not on Johnson, and Lopez. If I remember correctly, the overall opinion was yes on Kearns and Cordero, but with significant dissension (that I wasn't part of).

I understand why Bill "Bob" Ladsen, or other devourers of the club's fluff should feel upset by a plan creep - though I would wager that they're not. But I don't think a veteran cynic such as yourself should think we were worse off, CiL.

And I mean that with great affection, I just think emoticons are stupid, even on today, the anniversary of their creation.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 19, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

CiL - I think you are shorting us one potential star. I am a huge fan of Milledge's offensive potential, and if he can make himself into an adequate centerfielder, he could be in the top tier of CFs in baseball. I think his speed will eventually give him very good range in CF. If he can be a .350+ OBP hitter, with 20+ HRs, he will be an exceptional leadoff or #2 hitter. Potential, potential, potential, but, without cherry-picking his stats, he's turned in a .330 OBP, 14 HRs season with a week to go, stealing 23/30, over about 500 ABs. No question his offense picked up after May.

I also think that Flores will eventually be an above average catcher for a number of years. I have yet to see a pitcher I'm convinced will be a star, though. Useful, for sure, but star, I have strong doubts.

506 - Nice job putting down your perspective. I could quibble with a few, but overall it is a pretty good assessment.

Posted by: PTBNL | September 19, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Or we can go the Brue route! Everything good is bad!

Actually, pulling an element from Brue and connecting it to the point you raise, Bob, I think that for the first time the Nationals actually DO have some pieces that can be traded. The Nats have an "excess" of middle infield and pitching prospects (I mean excess as in more than one, which is excessive for this franchise, brother) so the Nats can finally trade prospects for an established player, if they so desired.

Let's not do too much of this, but it signals a new era where the Nats can get into the full trade market.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 19, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

What could the Brewers be thinking?
http://www.sacbee.com/100/story/1248904.html

Posted by: 756* | September 19, 2008 9:42 AM

The Brewers are thinking . . . we have Mat Gamel and Alcides Escobar waiting to take those slots at a fraction of the price. So they convert the increasingly expensive (and in Prince's case increasingly expansive) duo and convert it into an underrated power arm. This is exactly how a small market team like the Brewers must operate.

Now, if only the Nats had a pitcher like Cain (25th pick in the 2002 draft) trading him for these two would be the right move for a middle to large market team like the Nats (or the Giants for that matter). Guess what? The Nats have two pitchers in their system drafted ahead of Cain . . . Clint Everts and Bobbie Brownlie. Don't think they are going to get the job done.

That's part of the problem when it comes to the Plan. It takes an ungodly amount of time to develop players (how long have we been hearing about Smiley? He's 18! Four years from now he'll still be a developing young player!)

If there is any place to fault the Lerner's so far it's that they seemingly have not gone above and beyond trying to accelerate the painfully slow process of player development. One major international signing two years ago. One big money FA (Soriano) they got and converted into picks. That's it. How about some effort guys? Get in on Darvish. At least be part of the conversation. You have the revenue, we know you do. Just please don't blow it on overpriced major league FAs like our old friend . . .

at the moment tied for 45th among Major League outfielders OPS+ (only 54 outfielders have enough at-bats to qualify) and 52nd in on-base percentage (ahead only of Jeff Francoeur, who I predict will be a Royal soon, and Carlos Gomez, who is 22 and at least plays a mean center field).

The Royals paid $12 million for that. They will pay $12 million more next year. They will pay $12 million more the year after that. I don’t see how this gets better.

Posted by: Gal Revels in Pee | September 19, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, PTBNL, would you mind quibbling a bit? I'm curious as to your thoughts and everyone else's too. Over 162 games we can run short on baseball topics, sometimes, but this is one that I think there's a lot to talk about.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 19, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Lerners had nothing to do with the Soriano deal. I don't know if that makes them better or worse.

Posted by: Quibbler | September 19, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"Zimmerman needs to find a power stroke, and whether he does that with the Nats is an open question, because he's not happy, according to Boz's column, because he's already on his third losing season."

If Zimmerman is indeed not happy here, then Boz needs to write a much more detailed column explaining why. Because every time I see a closeup shot of Zimmerman during a game lately he either has a huge grin on his face or that aw shucks expression he has after he makes a great fielding play. He's obviously enjoying himself, unless all those smiles are just because he knows that in another three years or so he'll be able to tell the Lerners to take this job and shove it. And that seems unlikely. As much as people like to overblow and misinterpret that snippet of a quote in Boswell's column, I'm sure the reality of the situation is that Zimmerman knows that a lot can change in three years. (Just ask the Tampa Bay Rays about that.) He's not going to make any kind of pre-emptive announcement now about whether or not he'll stay here once he becomes a FA. When that time comes, he'll do what feels right to him at the time. He always has the option between now and then of signing a long-term contract, and maybe he will. But if he doesn't, that doesn't mean that he's automatically out of here as soon as he gets the chance. Ellipses in edited quotes in Boswell's column or not.

Posted by: take your ellipses and shove them, RKGF/419+1 | September 19, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Our boy Crow got in a few games...
http://www.fwcats.com/statistics.cfm

Posted by: 756* | September 19, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

"Willie Harris is a free agent, and if the Lerners want to save money on him, he may choose to not even come back now that his value is up."

No, Harris is not a free agent. He's arbitration eligible, which means that if the Nationals want him back then he'll be back. If they can't agree on a price for his return, then arbitration will determine it. But he can't go anywhere else unless the Nationals non-tender him (like the Braves did last year). And take it from me, the Nationals won't be non-tendering Willie Harris. (Cue the wiseguys who are all poised to follow up with "because if they were, Jim Bowden would already have announced it on the radio MONTHS ago.")

Posted by: but don't let the facts get in the way of your argument, okay? | September 19, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Actually, he only got in a couple.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Our boy Crow got in a few games...
http://www.fwcats.com/statistics.cfm

Posted by: 756* | September 19, 2008 11:59 AM

Posted by: A few is 3, right? | September 19, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of great fielding plays by Zimmerman, couldn't Carig give even a nod to Zimm in today's gamer? He made some incredible plays last night. I mean seriously, Carig writes that the Nats held Wright to just one hit for the series, it would have been so easy for him to include there a reference to Zimmerman's diving stop and throw from his knees, along with all the other excellent plays he made. But I guess this kind of stuff that actually describes the game--and that *doesn't* show up in the box score or "how they scored"--is less important than a bunch of inroductory paragraphs that say next to nothing about the actual game. Or maybe, it's just that Carig isn't used to describing excellent defensive plays, much less those turned by "the lowly Nationals."

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 19, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Fascinating articles in the Metro today -- made more so because of their juxtaposition. My take is that 2.4 million tickets is pretty impressive for the worst team in baseball. I don't know if they'll ever get to the 3 million mark -- they may have squandered their best chance with the opening this year, by having such a rotten team. If there's a lesson there, maybe the Lerners are wishing they had Alfonso Soriano this year? If they're not, they're just stoopid.

I don't know how many more tickets would have actually been sold, but there would have been a lot more fannies actually in the seats -- A very different atmosphere, and the chance to create a baseball habit here. They're going to have to work twice as hard now to get 80% of what they could have had. Withholding rent isn't the brightest idea, either. I hope, at least, they intend to repay all the back rent when they're finally satisfied.

This brings me to the article about the neighborhood. It's obvious that it building a piece here or there isn't going to make people come to this 'hood. If this neighborhood is going to be more than a ghost town, it will require significant planning and patience. No one's going to want to live or work there, when it's mostly just one big construction yard. When there are restaurants and a supermarket or tow, there's a chance that this new neighborhood might attract residents and workers.

If the intention is that the ballpark will, by itself, be a huge magnet for tenants, that won't happen. Not at the prices that the Nats charge. They need to seriously reconsider their pricing if they want to get baseball fans to move in.

Given that the Lerners have a stake in the real estate beyond the stadium, they should be more cognizant of the possibilities and the obstacles created by overpriced tickets along with the overpriced ballpark food and drink. In fact, I'd suggest that the Lerners use this unique synergy of interest to their advantage. They could make both the ballpark and the neighborhood a more attractive option by combining prices.

If commercial tenants got a break on rent or season tickets as part of a package, they might be more interested in both. Ditto for prospective residents. Living near the ballpark isn't much of an attraction, if I can't afford to go to the ballpark. People moving in to this neighborhood should be enticed into the ballpark with a huge price break on Nats' tickets. Maybe they could even get discounts at the concession stands. All they would need to do is present a special Navy Yards residents i.d.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 19, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

PTBNL, I hear you on Milledge, but I'm not there. Would you trade Ellsbury for him?

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 19, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Actually, he only got in a couple.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Our boy Crow got in a few games...
http://www.fwcats.com/statistics.cfm

Posted by: 756* | September 19, 2008 11:59 AM

Posted by: A few is 3, right? | September 19, 2008 12:08 PM
________________________________

Not to embarrass you, but a snark like that deserves retribution.

Look more closely, fool.
1 regular season game + 2 playoff games = 3 games = few

Try not to be such an a** next time.

Posted by: 756* | September 19, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"A couple" would be more precise, gentle and anonymous reader, but I'm not sure that there is a precise numerical value assigned to "a few."

Good point on the gamer, CiL. Also, although the Mets left here only 1/2 game behind the Phillies, they had been 1/2 game ahead before coming to DC. So perhaps they did have something to do with it, Mr. Carig. ;-)

p.s. Happy birthday, emoticons! I believe (big shock, I know) that they serve a useful function in online communication, where we don't have the visual and aural cues to indicate mood or tone. Disclaimers like the one that 506 used take too long to type and ALL CAPS aren't easy on the eyes or the keyboard. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 19, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I see that *756 has already covered the metrology issue...

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 19, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

What do you guys perceive as the National's priorities in this coming off season? Through Free Agency or Trade. For example, 2007's list looked like this:

- Power hitting OF: Lastings Millege, Elijah Dukes
- Lefty Specialist: Ray King
- 2 Backup middle infielders: Aaron Boone, Willie Harris
- Utility player/Pinch Hitter: Rob Mackowiak
- Veteran Catcher (Paul Lo Duca)
- Starting Pitcher (Odalis Perez)
- leadoff hitter/middle infielder (never really got it)


Going into the 2008 offseason, I see us as being set at C, 3b, SS, 2 of 3 OF positions, 3 starters and several relievers. I think our offseason priorities look like this:

- Reliable FirstBaseman (could be healthy Nick Johnson)
- Veteran Starting Pitcher to upgrade OPerez
- Resign 2008 FA utility players Boone and Harris
- Trade some from Bonifacio, AGonzalez, AHernandez, Belliard, Casto to clear 2nd logjam
- Reliable outfielder to replace Kearns

thoughts? Agree, disagree, think we need to focus on the bullpen?

Posted by: Sec131 | September 19, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"If there's a lesson there, maybe the Lerners are wishing they had Alfonso Soriano this year? If they're not, they're just stoopid."

The team drew basically the same 2.4 million the one year Soriano was here. So you think there are a lot more people who would have come out if only the Nationals had been able to announce "Welcome Home, Nats Fans - and we've got your Soriano right here!"? I don't.

Posted by: maybe you're just stoopid | September 19, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I would be surprised if they sign or trade for an outfielder. Knowing Bowden, they're going to give Kearns and WMP another year. How can he trade them, they have almost no value.

My crystal ball has Bonifacio at 2B, Gonzalez a Util IF, Casto in the minors until the eventual NJ/DY injury or released, Belliard traded, Hernandez on the bench or minors, Boone and Harris resigned. NJ/DY same as it ever was.

I see them making a play for Tex, CC, and Sheets, but falling short. Can you imagine the Lerners forking over the $$$ for any of them? I don't think Lowe will want to come here. By east coast, I think he means New England, and there are plenty of teams nearby contending and in need of pitching.

Summary: I don't think a damn thing will change. However, the players will be 1 year older and 1 year better. NJ might be healthy a full season. Kearns or WMP might actually help the club. And we won't have to deal with LoDuca or Felipe.

Posted by: 756* | September 19, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"Living near the ballpark isn't much of an attraction, if I can't afford to go to the ballpark."

If you can't afford to go to the ballpark, then you won't be able to afford what it will cost to live in that neighborhood. But if you CAN afford to live in the neighborhood, a mere $810 more will get you a seat in the ballpark for all 81 home games. If you want to risk trying to snag one of the day-of-game seats every day (which wouldn't be all that hard since you live in the neighborhood, right?) then your cost per season to get into the ballpark every day drops to $405.

Posted by: not sure I'm following your logic here | September 19, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

756: "I would be surprised if they sign or trade for an outfielder. Knowing Bowden, they're going to give Kearns and WMP another year. How can he trade them, they have almost no value."

Well, he got something for Ayala didn't he? :-) Though he had to cut Lopez and Lo Duco instead of trading them, so perhaps you're right the market for position players is less than for relievers.

I still think we need a big bopper in the outfield. We just can't afford to let Kearns continue to sit in RF when his max batting value seems to be .260 avg, 15hrs and 60-70rbi. Johnson puts up good OPS+ numbers but isn't a cleanup hitter. Dukes now projects as a 30hr 90-100rbi guy if he can stay healthy ... a big if apparently. That's a cleanup hitter.

Posted by: Sec131 | September 19, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm a little confused about what some are writing, here.

CiL made the statement that Zimmerman has regressed. How does he justify that statement. His B/A (yeah, I know that is a dubious stat for those of us in SABR) is just about what it was projected to be, and he is hitting well over that, since coming off of the DL. Also, he is probably just finishing his recovery from the hamate surgery, which is supposed to take about a year. He was never projected to be a "Big Bopper." He was always projected as a doubles / RBI hitter, ergo a 3 slot, not cleanup.

Let's also remember that after 2006, the projections were a disaster in '07 and a start to the climb in '08. For whatever reason those seasons got reversed. '07 was an anomaly and '08 got screwed up by injuries.

The projection (at least from those of us who have a more than SportsRadio interest in and knowledge of baseball) was that in '09 the Nats would push toward .500 ball and that they would begin to contend for the Wild Card in '10.

Anyone (Boz included) that didn't see that as the likely scenario was kidding themselves.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 19, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Uhm, I agree with 756's predictions. Yeah, I know. I don't agree with all of his reasoning, just to restore a little balance.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 19, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

OK, longer bit coming later, but I concur in part, and dissent in part.

I think you need at least two guys no one wants to pitch to (and Felipe Lopez doesn't count as one of them, Tony), and at least two guys no one wants to hit the ball at, and two no one wants to bat against. If you can get more, great. You can succeed with journeyman major leaguers who do their jobs but won't be all-stars, around them, but something has to make your team better than the other one on a regular basis, or you won't win, and average, by definition, ain't that. So you need a couple of stars, or a few good ... well, you know. And that includes the bench, and the bullpen.

Posted by: CE | September 19, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Zimm has regressed, I think the predictions and expectations were wrong.

Posted by: CE | September 19, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

@ maybe you're just stoopid:

Did you even bother to read the next sentence? I said I didn't know that they would have sold many more tickets, but that they would have more fannies in seats. How many of those 2.4 million were no-shows that didn't spend dollar one inside the park? I'd bet at least 20%, maybe more. Ticket sales are only a portion of the revenues. I spend over $20 a person on concessions -- sometimes much more. As fpr projected sales, you're making my case. With Soriano, in a rat-infested football stadium and mostly unappetizing concessions, and a team that never contended, they still got 2.4 million (I'm relying on your figure). This year, with a team that will lose more games, they will match that attendance figure -- due almost entirely to season-ticket sales for a new park. Imagine how much more they would have drawn, if they did have players and a team people wanted to see. like '05 and '06. Imagine still how many more if they were still in contention. This week's four-game series with the Mets? Instead of all that "elbow-room" the Post wrote about. the might have had four straight sellouts.

@ not sure I'm following your logic here:

If I'm buying a season ticket, I'm going to want something better than those $10 upper-row, upper-deck outfield seats. So, your figure for tickets is way too low. Not to mention that you haven't considered that few folks will buy just 1 season ticket. 81 nights by yourself there? Not likely. And you haven't counted in the concessions. At least two beers and something to eat. If you were serious about coming to all 81 games, you'll probably drop between $3,000 and $5,000 just at the stands. Maybe more. Add in $2000 - $5000 for tickets, or more. You find yourself sending most of your earnings to the IRS and the Nationals....

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 19, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Zimm did not regress. His numbers are depressed by time off and playing through injury. If he plays next year like he has the last month, he's an All-Star. Maybe MVP.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 19, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Brue is on target, its a 10 year plan folks, get used to it!

Buh-Bye; O'Dog Perez, Pete Orr, Jason Bergmann, Demtri Young, Anderson Hernandez, Willie Harris, Ryan Langerhans, Jesus Colome, Aaron Boone

Hello; Manny, Moe and Jack or Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp. Your choice JimBo.

Nats could sell 5M tickets and the WAPO would still be looking for the 'black cloud'.

Biggest travesty to date; Nats can no longer be heard on 107.7 yet the Ori-holes can still be heard "LOUD AND CLEAR" on the Dan Snyder owned 980 FM station (B100). A big shout-out to the people who bring you Traffic and Weather together from the "Glass Enclosed Nwerver Center"! Stan please drop 1500 from your stable for 2009 and head for WJFK ASAP!

Posted by: Tippy Canoe | September 19, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"Uhm, I agree with 756's predictions. Yeah, I know. I don't agree with all of his reasoning, just to restore a little balance."
_____

Errr...thanks...

sec151, I'm not pleased with my crystal ball, just calling it the way I see it. I would like a power bat and a power arm. BUT, I really don't see that happening.

I'm going to venture into the wild world of Jim Bowden's head for a moment (feel free to object). But what he sees and what we see are probably polar opposites. While we see the '07 Kearns, he sees a Cinny Kearns. While we focus on what WMP actually does on the field, he's stuck in a dream world where WMP morphs into Barry Bonds. In short, Bowden has just about every player that he covets (minus Dunn), so why would make major changes? I bet that deep down Bowden is happy with the roster, not the W/L record, but the roster.

Posted by: 756* | September 19, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Looking at it another way, is this a contender?

1. Guzman, ss
2. Johnson, 1b
3. Zimmerman, 3b
4. Dukes, lf
5. Milledge, cf
6. Kearns, rf
7. Flores, c
8. Bonifacio, 2b

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 19, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

why is everyone enthralled with Sheets? trust me that guy is an injury waiting to happen. The same can be said for AJ Burnett. These guys are the reincarnation of Carl Pavano. Ask the Yankees how that turned out. I would shoot the Lerners if they went after those two pitchers.

Posted by: mjames | September 19, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Next year should be telling for lots of things, Zimm not the least of them. Many of the people he compares to had breakout fourth years.
("Many" is more than a few.)

Posted by: CE | September 19, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

506 - Finally sitting down for my quibbles. Again, nice job teeing this up for everyone. As some have pointed out, you probable could have broken this out by high level / average major leaguer and established / potential, in sort of a quadrant approach, but that is a heck of a lot of work.

Going into the is year, among the starting pitchers, I think Hill and Bergmann would be more of a "shot" at high level, while Chico and Redding I would have said were established average level. Anyone coming off of Hill and Bergie's injury history I don't think were "hits." As for your "shot" list, I think you could probably add Detwiler and Balester as guys we thought we'd see by the end of the year.

Coming out of this year, I'd say Lannan and Redding are established as Major league average, with Lannan having a shot at something more. Balester I think is a hit, as you put it, and should be at least average. I don't know where to put the guys still on the farm (Van Allen, Stammen, Zimmermann, Detwiler, whatever), and Perez would be a hit but just average if he's resigned. Around May 1 or so, I think I said I'd be happy if we came out of this year with 3 - 4 established starters. I think we are on the low end, but OK. The big disappointment is that neither of the "shots" that could have been high level (Hill and Bergie) look like they are likely to be what was hoped.

I'm not going to go into as much detail on the other slots. I agree catching we are much better off than we thought, and 1st is worse. We seem to have 2B and SS covered. After last year, I don't think we really thought Lopez would work out (not a hit). We ended up with an SS through 2010 when we went into the year without one signed, and we have a backup glove for him. Depth improved. You know my thoughts on Belliard. 3B - At the end of July, I would have been quite worried about Zimmerman, but due to his hot August and September, his season will end up better than last when prorated for his injury. I think the OF worked out slightly worse than we hoped. We should be pleased we had success with 2 out of the 3 among WMP, LMillz, and ED, and, if resigned, we seem to have quality backups, but I don't think we were prepared for Kearns to step back. The bullpen? Just a complete disaster. Remember when we were kicking about not finding a place for Schroder after the way he ptiched last year? That is the biggest step back.

In sum, we are much younger than we were, have more high potential position players with MLB experience, a rotation of names in the rotation, and a need to rebuild what had been the team strength (the bullpen). I'd trade a bullpen problem at this stage of the building process for more high end position players, which is about what we've done.

Posted by: PTBNL | September 19, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Depends a lot on that missing number 9, there, Bobl. For one year, it's possible, but not consistently.

and the bench. Can't win without a good bench.

***********
1. Guzman, ss
2. Johnson, 1b
3. Zimmerman, 3b
4. Dukes, lf
5. Milledge, cf
6. Kearns, rf
7. Flores, c
8. Bonifacio, 2b
Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 19, 2008 2:05 PM

Posted by: ce | September 19, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

and I'd flipflop Flores and Kearns there

Posted by: ce | September 19, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I know that I am not the type of fan that will make the fo rich. I take the nats express, buy a 10 ticket ( I have NEVER been able to obtain an alleged 5 dollar ticket). I bring my own food and an unopened bottle of water. As a result, I have attended MORE games this year since it is so affordable. Can you really go to any other sport for that kind of money? I have to admit that I should stay out of the team stores.I love the new park, I think the team is tons better and more enjoyable to watch than they were just a couple of months ago, I watch at least parts of every game on tv ( on one of three channels) and I listen to the games when I am in the car ( when I can pick up a station). Even though we have the worst record in baseball I have had a great time this season and I am sad that it's ending. Call me crazy - but that's how it is for me. I could not tell you what the score was of most of the games I went to, or even if we won ( I usually remember that at least) -- I remember who I was with, the weather, where I sat and some highlights from the game, some stories about the opposing team's fans ( Phil and Mets especially). Looking forward to April 13 2009.

Posted by: masnstinks | September 19, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"Errr...thanks..."

It was disconcerting for me, too. Making a joking smile, then a relieved expression at not using emoticons, then sticking my tongue out at 1a.

CE, I like your Rule of Twos (also known as a couple couples, which might even be a few). Hopefully you are working on this now, but, like a bad rip-off that holds you over until the feature attraction comes out, I thought I'd take a stab at it.

two guys no one wants to pitch to...

Could be Elijah Dukes, do we all agree? But not quite there yet. Last year, Zimmerman definitely was in crucial situations, but that has kinda fallen away. Will it be back? Teixiera would do it...

two guys no one wants to hit the ball at

Definitely Zimmerman. Willie Harris? He's not part of the future, though (he IS the future. and the past and present, too).

two no one wants to bat against

Definite slide from last year. Was Jon Rauch. Maybe Lannan one day? I'm not a believer in Hanrahan being a closer for the ages, sorry.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 19, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Please fire that man.

Posted by: ohplease | September 19, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

CE, I consent to all of your amendments, except about the outfield. I actually feel excited with Dukes and Milledge out there for the future. Earlier this year, thinking Wily Mo and Kearns could be depended on, I simply wasn't worried about it. WMP would start striking out a bunch, but whack dingers and Kearns would hit for average with a buncha RBI.

Dukes and Milledge were the wild cards (does anyone else watch "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"?). Now, I'm downright excited about the future in the outfield.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 19, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"@ not sure I'm following your logic here:

If I'm buying a season ticket, I'm going to want something better than those $10 upper-row, upper-deck outfield seats."

But your whole argument was that the Nationals need to offer discount prices for season tickets in order to attract cash-poor folks to live in their neighborhood. They're ALREADY offering inexpensive seats to prospective STHers, and people are buying them as season tickets. People like me. Why do they need to discount other seats just for people who happen to live nearby? (Many of whom probably are rich enough that they wouldn't need a discount anyway - although they'll gladly take it of course.) So yeah, maybe YOU'RE gonna want something better than that for yourself. Then perhaps you should consider doing something to make more money, rather than looking for a handout from the baseball team that just happens to live in the same neighborhood you do. If you absolutely MUST have those better seats in the ballpark, then move to a cheaper neighborhood like the rest of us rather than bankrupt yourself just so you can live right next door to the park.

Posted by: the ballpark is NOT a public housing project | September 19, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

You missed my point. The point is not about selling more tickets to the game. It's about filling empty commercial and residential buildings. Period. Allegedly, the attraction is being near the ball park, but so far that hasn't attracted anyone. Literally. Not one commercial tenant. Lord knows if any residents have moved in or purchased the Velocity condos to open next year. My point was to offer a way that the Lerners could use the ballpark as an enticement to fill up the neighborhood...

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 19, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Zimmerman's regressions this season could clearly be attributed to his health. There are direct correlations to a lack of bat speed and shoulder/wrist injuries. He's suffered through both at different points of the season. Now that he is healthy his bat speed is back up. He's hitting at 20-25 HR power and a .280+ batting average which I would say is where his progression should be at this point.

Lets not make the mistake that a lot of clubs make in assuming that because Zimmerman has been around for a while, that he's not a stud. Often organizations tire of good prospects purely because they are no longer fresh. It happened to the Dbacks with Carlos Quentin (look what happened) that's why we got Milledge for such a low price (and that deal was a complete steal for us). These guys are still progressing as players and if we can convince them to come back for a few years after their arbitration is up we can truly see their potential.

Its true that potential only gets you so far, but I would be surprised if Zimmerman averaged under a .280 batting average, 25 homers, and 90 RBI over his career. That's well above average for a slick fielding 3B who probably will save a few runs as well.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | September 19, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

"It's about filling empty commercial and residential buildings."

Shoot, where are the stadium's commercial tenants? Isn't the 1st street side supposed to have shops?

Posted by: 756* | September 19, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I do appreciate that the Lerners are allowing folks to bring in water and some food. Given the starting time, it's often hard to get a meal together in the requisite packaging, but it's a nice option. I hope that continues. Nothing is more maddening than the ever-more restrictive rules at RFK. There was a time when you could bring in sealed bottles -- no longer. DC United earns no points with those rules. I've resented throwing out bottles that I was previously told were acceptable -- not to mention the larcenous prices for water there.

The Lerners are doing some things right. Just trying to offer some out of the box way to make their investments pay off.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 19, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

"Did you even bother to read the next sentence? I said I didn't know that they would have sold many more tickets, but that they would have more fannies in seats. How many of those 2.4 million were no-shows that didn't spend dollar one inside the park?"

Here's what I know: There were LOTS of no-shows in 2006. I know. I was there in the upper deck looking down on the half-full but sold out sections. I also know that no-shows come more from people who hold season tickets than from those who buy single games. Well, guess what? This year's season ticket base is probably about 20,000 per game. (You can figure this by looking at the games with the lowest attendance, like this past Monday night.) That equates to around 1.6 million for the season. Which, if season attendance is 2.4 million, means that 800,000 people (almost 10,000 per game) are buying single-game tickets and probably showing up for the game. So yeah, there are a lot of no-shows, but are there more than the 10,000 people out there every night who are already making a game-by-game decision that will say "You know, having Soriano will make me want to go to the game tonight"? I seriously doubt it.

Get over it. Soriano was a fan favorite, but he didn't put all that many butts in the seats that wouldn't already have been there.

Posted by: you're still looking kinda stoopid, ya know | September 19, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

CiL - Ellsbury for Milledge? I'm actually not a huge Ellsbury fan. Other than steals (and runs scored, a team stat), his offensive stats were the same or worse than Milledge. For example, OBP is only .331. His defense is light years better than LMillz, although they have comparable arms. He really did not pan out as a leadoff hitter this year, and his performance tailed badly since 6/1.

I think both players are better fits for their current teams. The Nats can use more power out of CF, while the Red Sox I think want a versatile potential leadoff guy with a very good glove. They have much more power out of their corner players and DH when healthy (Bay/Drew/Youk/Lowell/Ortiz), so don't need Milledge's extra power. Milledge potential is more ~ Damon, Ellsbury is more < Brett Butler. I think Milledge is miscast as a middle of the order hitter.

Recall Milledge at one point was almost traded along with a pitcher for Manny Ramirez, but the Mets I think did not want to take on all of Manny's salary.

Batting orders? Try:
Milledge
Johnson
Zimmerman
Dukes
Mystery FA OF
Flores
Guz
BelliHarris
P

Posted by: PTBNL | September 19, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

You're wrong. All of you.

Posted by: You're wrong | September 19, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

WARNING: I didn't set out to construct a longer post than 506's from earlier today, it just happened that way. Here goes:

I like CE's 2+2+2 way of looking at this issue. In fact, I like it so much that I'm stealing it, and raising him one. It's 3+3+3. A leadoff hitter, a true 3 and a 4. Or possibly a 3-4-5 murderer's row. But we're pretty far away from that so let's pick 1-3-4. Then, strong defense up the middle, with plus defenders at catcher, short and center. Then, two legit top of the rotation starters, and a lights-out closer. Solid MLB players (or possibly, promising prospects) everywhere else.

Against that backdrop, who looks like a keeper?

We don't have a true leadoff hitter. If Bonifacio can become that, great, but he's clearly not there yet. Is Zimmerman a #3 hitter on a contender? He might be, but he's not yet (the #3 hitter on a contender should be one of the best hitters in the league; I love Zim but I'm not going to claim he's anywhere close to that at the moment). Can Dukes be our #4? Maybe. If all three of these guys take the next step, though, it would be really exciting, because all of them are also plus-defenders, and yet none of them play any of my three key defensive positions. So if they came through with the bats, we would have the ability to sacrifice some offense, if necessary, to get better D up the middle.

Now, defense. Flores looks solid, he's still young, and he seems to have the right makeup, so let's pencil him in. Guzman is adequate for the moment but we're going to need an upgrade by 2012. And Milledge, for all his improvement, still leaves something to be desired. Can he evolve to the point where he can be our #2 hitter and play plus defense in center? If so, he's a keeper. Anything less than that and the pieces don't fit as well, because in my ideal lineup, the #5-6 guys are bringing power and playing first and left, and my #7-8 slots are reserved for catcher and shortstop.

OK, the pitching. Lannan, Balester, Martis, Zimmermann. Detwiler, McGeary, Smoker. Is there an ace or two hiding in there? We don't know. But most of those guys seem to project as middle-of-the-rotation starters. This is an optimistic post, so let's say Lannan is good enough to be #2, Balester #3, and two other guys from the farm end up at #4 and #5. I think we still need a true stopper. Could Aaron Crow have been that guy? Some scouts say yes. Can Steve Strasburg? Hmmmn.

As for the lights-out closer, this is the final piece, and a luxury one at that. But it adds that final factor on a potential champion. For the other team, intimidation, leading to desperation in the 7th and 8th innings, scratching for runs you know you won't get in the 9th (or even, occasionally, in that tight situation in the 8th when the dominant closer is called on for a few extra outs). Can Hanrahan be that? We have no idea. But this one can wait. I'm in the ilk that believes that average closers can be found on trees, and we can live with that while we wait for the rest to come around.

So, having said all of that, here is our 2012 contending lineup (The Plan variety, not the FA route):

1. Bonifacio, 2b
2. Milledge, cf
3. Zimmerman, 3b
4. Dukes, rf
5. Marrero, 1b
6. Burgess, lf
7. Flores, c
8. Espinosa, ss (I'm betting Smiley is another slap-hitting utility guy).

Rotation:

Strasburg
Lannan
Balester
Zimmermann
Smoker/McGeary

Closer: Hanrahan/Hinckley/Zinicola

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 19, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

@ You're wrong:

You're wrong. And so is everyone else.

Posted by: Mr. Omniscient | September 19, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Its true the nationals need superstar caliber players to contend for a championship. Its true that a team full of roleplayers rarely makes it over the final hump. Sometimes a team just needs someone who can put the whole squad on his back and carry them to victory. That should not be our concern right now. The most common champions are not those squads with nothing but name brand players. The Red Sox have won two championships recently, with large payrolls and big name players. If you look closer however, the only superstars on those teams are Manny, Ortiz, Pedro/Beckett, maybe Paplebon.

The same goes for most world series teams. If you look at the Yankees for the last 8 years they have added more star power every year, and have regressed continually. What we need is a roster full of above average major league players who can contribute on a daily basis with no Diva issues. We need goofy personalities and strong character and guys who can hit .280/340/480. Once we have a team full of guys who can contribute every day to a championship club then we can worry about adding that "Stud" that "Workhorse" that "Ace in the hole" that everyone so woefully desires. A superstar will not be happy on a mediocre team (just look at soriano), they often won't be happy on a great team (manny anyone?), but they can come in and make the difference at the end. Until we see that light at the end of the tunnel we should keep doing what we've been doing. Stay young, stay fresh, get talent. Some of the talent will develop. Some will go the way of kearns, and lopez, and NJ, and Patterson. These things happen in baseball but if you stack the deck, play the odds, and push all in at the right time, that's how you win.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | September 19, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

If it were anyone but you, I might try not to be. However, I will continue to point out your flaws, since you are the a** setter around here.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Try not to be such an a** next time.

Posted by: 756* | September 19, 2008 12:23 PM

Posted by: *657 | September 19, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Man, you gotta love The Plan. That's a world-beating lineup.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 19, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"A superstar will not be happy on a mediocre team (just look at soriano)"

Soriano was happy when he was here. Either that or he was high, because he was ALWAYS smiling. He's just happier now because he's making a lot more money, and will continue to do so for many more years as his production sinks like a lead balloon.

Posted by: and once in a while he's probably glad to be on a playoff team, too | September 19, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Man, you really can't admit that you were wrong, can't you? It must be nice to have that lack of self-awareness.

Posted by: 756* | September 19, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Zimmerman is the best 3rd-baseman!

"I've heard a lot of folks say that Evan Longoria is as good a third baseman as there is baseball. But it would take a bit to be as good as Ryan Zimmerman."

Posted by: Fake Jon Heyman | September 19, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Any of you who say that Zimmerman did not regress: how can you say that based on what he did in April and May? His numbers were awful. But I'm not even just talking about his pure numbers here, I'm also talking about watching him play day to day: going up to the plate and looking lost, swinging at pitches way out of the zone, not waiting for his pitch, etc.

Some of you have pointed to his performance the past 6 weeks or so as evidence that he has not regressed. Don't get me wrong, I really like Zimmerman A LOT and he is my favorite player on the team, for what that's worth. He has really turned things around recently. But that's not enough to show that he hasn't regressed this season. As of now this year, adjusting for injury he isn't even matching his peformance from 2006, when he was 21 years old. To me, that is regressing--especially because he is supposed to be at the stage in his career where he is showing improvement, not leveling off. If he is going to be an all-star, he is going to have to perform consistently at the level he has performed for the past month plus. If he does that next year, then next year he will have shown improvement. But that doesn't mean he hasn't regressed this year (and, indeed, the past two years). Unfortunately, he has.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 19, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

If you believe that Zimmerman's power drop off this year was due to his shoulder (or possibly his wrist), and if you believe his power the past monthor so shows those no longer are affecting him, then you should feel he is back at least to 2006 levels. Per Hardball Times, on the season, he's cut his pop out rate (IF/F) in half from 2006 & 2007, and his line drive % is up from 2007 and close to 2006.

Posted by: PTBNL | September 19, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Sorry I haven't posted for a while, but there's some interesting thinking in the last little while.

506, while I think the "hits/shots" thing is a decent way to think about it, I think the mistake some fans like us make is presuming that you have to project out the whole 25-man roster full of folks currently in the system. I'd venture to say that on the first Nats NL East winner (in 201X), there are at least 10 people not currently on the 40-man, and probably at least 5 not currently in the system at all.

To me, I think you have to look at mainstay players - guys who are young enough to be around more than 2-3 years, and who have enough talent to be at least above-average as compared to their MLB contemporaries. I figure you probably need around 10-12 of those guys to feel like there's progress, and I'd say 3-4 of them need to be legitimate "stars" - talented enough that they're in the top 5 or so in the NL, or top 10 in MLB at what they do. With that in mind, to me, Willie Harris, Pete Orr, Langerhans, Nieves, etc. are not part of the conversation at all - they are that kind of player who can be picked up for any one year, and if they have a big year can help spark a team over the top.

By that reckoning, I think this has to be viewed as a year of progress, despite the wreckage of injuries and 90+ losses. In March, we probably collectively would have listed Zimmerman, Kearns, Rauch, and Cordero as "mainstay" type guys, with only Zimmerman as a potential "star." There were a lot of guys who were intriguing (Flores, Milledge, Balester, Lannan, FLop, Dukes, NJ, Hill, Patterson, Pena) but all had question marks surrounding them as "mainstays."

The first part of this year was dreadful not only for the losses but that we lost fully 3/4 of our mainstays, and several of the intriguing players. Lacking stars, it looked pretty bleak. But now, 10 games to the end, I see us with mainstays of Zimmerman, Flores, Dukes, Milledge, and Lannan and several other intriguing options with question marks - Balester, Martis, Bonifacio, Hinckley, Hernandez, Pena, NJ, Hanrahan, etc. Other folks might put Guzman in here somewhere - I just am not convinced that this year isn't a career year. I'm hoping he's a mainstay until Smiley's ready, but I'm just not convinced.

Also, I think we've picked up at least one star and maybe three - if Elijah can stay focused and continue the steps he's taken this year, he's got real, no-question star potential. Flores' numbers ended up so-so at the end of the year, but he's got star potential, if he can avoid wearing down over the course of the year. Milledge, too, though he's progressed probably the least of the three. Those three and Zimmerman and Lannan feel to me much more like an actual "core" of players - young, mostly talented, with a few who have actual "star" potential.

So I think we're better off - but I agree with BobL, there is a gaping hole at 1b, a need for more power from the OF, and a clear rotation-fronter. Maybe that starter is Strasburg, maybe it's Detwiler coming to understanding, maybe Balester finds another gear on his FB as he fills out, but I think those are the holes. A year of development and better health alone and a stand-pat philosophy probably puts this team at 73-76 wins, but to go from "feel-good" story to actual contender, it's clear we need to get a piece that's not in the organization. Waiting for Zimmerman to magically turn into David Wright isn't fair to him, or the fanbase. Put a thumping 1b in the lineup, get a little luck in development and I think we're Arizona, or Milwaukee - a legitimately frisky slightly-better-than .500 team. Still not the "perennial contender" that we want to be, but getting closer.

Anyway, I haven't been around for a while, so you all get stuck with a long post. Sorry!

Posted by: Highway 295 Revisited | September 19, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Agreed, Mr. Fry. It shows how many things need to go right for this to work. That's the point I was making earlier -- it looks like none of the guys we had in 2006 fit on a contender in 2012. It would have been a lot easier if we had a few pieces already in place and didn't have to count on so many young guys stepping up. Now we need our current young guys to become solid established veterans, and then to have the likes of Burgess, Marrero and Espinosa come up and plug themselves in during 2010-11. Hence, PlanCreep. We started over.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 19, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

@CiL -- you say that the past 6 weeks is not enough to show that Zim hasn't regressed this year, yet you make an argument that he has regressed based on his April and May production. Aren't you contradicting yourself with this? Zim has shown each season that he is a slow starter. Add to that he had hamate surgery which may/may not have affected his approach at the plate at the start of the season. I consider his performance these past couple of months a progression for Zim and predict that with a healthy Dukes and a healthy 1B (whomever that may be) next season, Zim will progress even further.

Posted by: ??? | September 19, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Bob L. Head and RE:I-295, no need to apologize for the long posts. You may have used more words than I did, but every one of them is valuable. Actually, my rule 13 violation might have been longer, anyway.

Breaking down in points and bringing in the also awesome takes by CiL, PTBNL and VT Nats Fan:

- Are we all agreed a first baseman is at the top of our wish list and we hold little hope that there's one in the system near ready?

- What do we do about Mr. Head's leadoff man dilemma? Wait? How many teams have ideal leadoff men anyway?

- I think the Zimmerman regression debate comes down to a matter of nomenclature. Is it safe to say we all believe 2008 was not as good a season as 2006 for the Z-man, but there's a more than even possibility that 2009 could be his best yet?

- Defensively, there doesn't seem to be a lot of griping. We would like some better, but we can live with what we have. Is this accurate or are their just bigger fisch, err, fish to fry?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 19, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Rotation:

Strasburg
Lannan
Balester
Zimmermann
Smoker/McGeary

Closer: Hanrahan/Hinckley/Zinicola

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 19, 2008 2:57 PM
____________________

Bob L.,
Does this mean you are rooting for losses??
If so, welcome to the club!!!

Posted by: 756* | September 19, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

No, I'm not contradicting myself--as I also stated, his numbers for the season as a whole, to me, show that he has regressed. Additionally, the point I was making about his early part of the season was not just about "production," as I said. It was also about approach. For a prolonged period of time, Zimmerman was approaching his at-bats earlier this year with minimal discipline; much less discipline than he had exhibited earlier in his career. He became a different, inferior, hitter. When a guy is having much worse at-bats, on a sustained basis, than he did two years earlier in his rookie season when he was only 21, this, again, shows regression to me.

* * * *

@CiL -- you say that the past 6 weeks is not enough to show that Zim hasn't regressed this year, yet you make an argument that he has regressed based on his April and May production. Aren't you contradicting yourself with this? Zim has shown each season that he is a slow starter. Add to that he had hamate surgery which may/may not have affected his approach at the plate at the start of the season. I consider his performance these past couple of months a progression for Zim and predict that with a healthy Dukes and a healthy 1B (whomever that may be) next season, Zim will progress even further.

Posted by: ??? | September 19, 2008 3:18 PM

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 19, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

One more and then I'll shut up for awhile. I agree with basically everything 295 said. In fact, it made me realize that this year, believe it or not, could actually have been much worse than it was.

We were supposed to need Lo Duca and Estrada until Flores was ready. Both of them sucked, and got hurt. Luckily, Flores was ready now.

In the outfield, Milledge hit reasonably well, and showed enough improvement in the field that we're still hoping he can stick in center. That's pretty positive. He could easily have proved that he could not play center, and/or struggled so much with the bat that we had to send him down for a bit and played Langerhans and Mackowiak. That would have been considerably worse.

Same for Dukes -- he kept his nose relatively clean (especially off the field), showed some unexpected patience and plate discipline, very good defense and scary power at times. He could easily have imploded and been cut, and we would have said well, at least we didn't give up anything for him. Instead, we're talking about him as a cornerstone.

Zimmerman started the year in a slump, as usual, possibly due to the hamate thing, and then went through the shoulder thing, and there was a point at midseason when I was sure he was going to need surgery. Not only did he come back, but he came back strong. That was not assured by any means.

In the rotation, suddenly, John Lannan. How many of us remember that he pitched a grand total of 6 games and 34 innings in 2007? He looks like our best pitcher and I've penciled him in as our long-term #2. Didn't have to be that way. Redding gave us another solid year, as did Perez. Balester took the next step and has looked promising. Overall, the starters overachieved, particularly in view of the losses of Patterson and Hill (not completely unexpected, of course, but other guys stepped up; again, it could easily have been worse).

Finally, Chad went down and we traded Rauch, and yet Hanrahan has been OK, good enough to pencil him in to close next year without being terrified. The rest of the bullpen sucked at times("Shaky Strength" proved to be an understatement), but somehow at the end of the year we're squinting a bit and seeing Bergmann, Mock, Hinckley and possibly others as the core of a future pen.

Basically, lots and lots of wheels fell off, but somehow the ones we replaced them with worked well enough that the car didn't crash (although it might have run off the road a few times). The glass still looks half full to most of us. It didn't have to be that way.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 19, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Here, here, Bob

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 19, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Austin Kearns sucks, trade for Matt Holliday

Posted by: Austin Kearns sucks | September 19, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

again, though, couldn't Zim's approach been a by-product of his off-season surgery? I know that when I played ball and had an injury, I adjusted my approach at the plate thinking that if I did it "this way" then it won't physically hurt as much. I theorize that his play (production and approach) these past two months show the progression that you say he has lacked. I believe that if he had truly regressed, he would have continued to flail away at the plate and go the ways of Kearns/Lopez/etc. Just a theory.

Posted by: ??? | September 19, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Someone should send Bowden our post today, based on his comments at the ESPN zone he could use a few better talking points.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 19, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

To try to put a cap on this Zimmerman discussion, how about we look at it this way:

Compare the probabilities for the following scenarios (1) as they would have been at the end of the 2006 season, and (2) as of today:

--Is the probability greater today, as compared to the probability at the end of 2006, that Zimmerman will have a HOF career?

--Is the probability greater today, as compared to the probability at the end of 2006, that Zimmerman will be a perennial MVP candidate?

--Is the probability greater today, as compared to the probability at the end of 2008, that Zimm will be a perennial all-star?

I'm not saying that all these things won't or can't happen, and I surely hope they do. But I think it's hard to dispute that, if you had to handicap it, the odds that they do are lower today than they were 2 years ago. And I think that shows some regression.

(As an aside, I remember that Bill James used to have some kind of career trajectory/HOF predictor type of measurement, is there any way we can measure this objectively?)

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 19, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

off-topic ... who here is going to the picnic at the park tomorrow?

Posted by: e | September 19, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Not I (not a STH).

BTW, new post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 19, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I saw that, 506!:P

---

It was disconcerting for me, too. Making a joking smile, then a relieved expression at not using emoticons, then sticking my tongue out at 1a.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 19, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Oh Harris is only arb-eligible. I just assumed he was an FA. That's one slot they don't have to worry about.
The thing about Zimm and him being pissed enough to let Boz quote him, was that he was merely saying that he wasn't going to put up with being on a losing team his whole career and the team needed to do something about it. I'm definitely in his camp on this. I think he's getting some bad hitting advice, though, because it seems like he's convinced himself that if he uses a leg-kick, it will somehow increase his power. The opposite seems to be happening, because if his timing isn't perfect, then he's not going to be able to wait on a pitch and drive it. If he stays quiet like Dukes, keeps both feet on the ground and sweeps the bat through the zone, then he can explode at the last second, instead of losing all of his momentum, swinging only with his arms and hitting singles.
I also think that the team should run Wily Mo out to 1B next spring, because if he's healthy, it seems to me that once he gets away from Lenny Harris' monolithic hitting approach, then he could shorten his stroke and pull the ball more often. His swing is so long, that he has to start it too early, and can never adjust to breaking balls. If he just keeps his hands directly in front of him at his belt, the way Frank Howard used to do, and sweep the bat through the zone, he too will be able to wait longer and not get fooled on the breaking ball. He could hit 30 homers on check swings if he just kept his hands back. He'd be an ideal 1B defensively, too.
Some of these offensive problems can be solved simply by removing Lenny Harris and having these guys calm down in the box.

Posted by: Brue | September 19, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

On Zimmerman, I think 506's got it - clearly, his '08 wasn't as good as his '06. Neither was his '07 as good as his '06. It's cause for concern, but he's still young enough that if he's good in '09, you could chalk it up to growing pains (and actual pains). That said, I still think he's a Scott Rolen at best, and I worry about him falling into that dreadful category of "pretty good, but somehow disappoints because he seems like he coulda/woulda/shoulda been better."

And yes, I think a long-term solution at 1b is important - knowing now how the Crow thing comes out, I'm sorry we didn't get the bopper who went to Texas. Right now we have too many eggs riding in a basket marked "Marrero's ankle." The problem with that is, outside of Tex, there's no real FA option who is what you'd want, and trading for somebody like that is going to be tricky, since it's not like we've got a lot of spare parts to trade from. Given that we've already got $10m tied up in 1b, I think we're probably stuck on the NJ roulette-wheel-o-health for '09.

Posted by: Highway 295 Revisited | September 19, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company