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Lots Of Proper Nouns, A Little Speculation

The Nationals need to make at least one roster move today, because their demotion yesterday of Lastings Milledge to Class AAA clears up a spot. So it's almost like they have a buy-one-free coupon, redeemable for an infielder/outfielder of your choosing.

But here's my modest proposal: At this point, the Nats need both a fifth outfielder and an extra infielder. No longer do they have the luxury of carrying three catchers -- and really, has that even once looked like a luxury to this point? (That's not a rhetorical question. The answer is No.)

Were do-everything utilityman Willie Harris healthy, he could have easily served as the team's fifth outfielder and saved the Nats from this predicament. But he's on the DL. Just as problematic, the Nats have two hobbled middle infielders, Ronnie Belliard (back) and Cristian Guzman (hammy) who are not on the DL... and that is really straining Washington's roster.

So today, I wouldn't be stunned to see more than one player promoted. Perhaps either Belliard or Guzman is DL'd. Perhaps one of the two back-up catchers is dispatched; and even if that move isn't made today, it will probably come by Sunday, when Jordan Zimmermann will debut in the big leagues and the team expands its starting rotation from four to five.

To help shore up the middle infield, Alex Cintron -- a vet with experience who played well this spring -- makes the most sense, by far. He is not currently on the 40-man roster, so the Nats would need to clear up space for him, but it looks like they've already found a way. Brian Oliver over at NFA says that OF Leonard Davis was placed on waivers. Davis was Washington's 2008 minor league player of the year, but that distinction hasn't bought him much cache as a prospect. He's already 25, and showed very little in the spring, and was one of the earlier cuts.

Promoting Roger Bernadina to the big leagues, at least for as long as Harris remains on the DL, also makes sense. The team's management and front office has said (again and again and again) of late how much they appreciate Bernadina's improvement from 2008. Always a gifted outfielder, Bernadina has shortened up his swing; the Nats view him as major-league ready. As a pro, Bernadina probably projects as a fourth- or fifth-outfielder -- a bench player -- and so fitting him behind a crowded outfield won't do him a disservice. Another current Syracuse outfielder, Justin Maxwell, has also made a case for himself, but the Nats probably prefer to see him play every day with the Chiefs. Especially because he missed much of last season with a fractured right wrist.

Can we withstand one other roster variable? Because I offer up one final, complicating factor: Zimmermann's start last night for Syracuse was postponed because of weather. This cost Zimmermann his final tune-up before the April 19 debut, and so now, to get him ready, the right-hander will probably rely on bullpen work. Are the Nats better off promoting Zimmermann now and letting him throw those side sessions with Randy St. Claire? Doing so would cost them a roster spot for several days, but it just might make sense to let the rookie acclimate for a few days before his debut.

By Chico Harlan  |  April 15, 2009; 8:03 AM ET
 
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Next: Will This One Be Played?

Comments

Dear Chico,
What about Dmitri?

Thanks.

Posted by: nattaboy | April 15, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

I'm seeing on the NFA blog that Bernadina has been called up. Chico, can you verify?

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 15, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Honestly, I'd rather the Nationals start Zimmermann tonight at Lehigh Valley. I realize this throws off his April 19th start for the Nats, but I think it's more important to give him regular work as a starter and not mess around with him as a reliever

Posted by: Brian_ | April 15, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

What about Casto? I don't see him on the 40 man roster, so I assume it would be much more complicated to bring him up for a cup of coffee and send him back down?

Posted by: twinbrook | April 15, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

So much pressure on NN. I wish there were a way to take the pressure off, rather than to increase it. Bullpen would be a good way to do that.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 15, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

I know this is completely off topic but has anyone seen those adds on MASN that show real fans, I think, touting the Nats. There is one where one guy is talking about the Mets and another one is talking about Dukes. These have to be the weakest adds in baseball. Where did they get these nerds. These guys look like losers. Are these real fans or actors?

Posted by: mjames0 | April 15, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

The Willie Harris centered ad is the guy from Nats320

Posted by: Brian_ | April 15, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

If the Nats have not won before Sunday, I would prefer the Nats not bring Zimmermann up for that start anyway. Don't put that kind of pressure on the young man. Bring up whoever is scheduled for that start and delay Zimmermann for a week until his next turn comes around.

Hopefully thats not an issue, but I'd be just as happy with Stamen (sp), Balester, Clippard, etc.... for that one start.

Also, I'd rather put Belliard on the DL than Guzman if Guzzy can be ready in less than 2 weeks. Belliard can be retroactive to last week. And I still think releasing, or at least demoting Ledezma in favor of Bergmann makes sense for now. In fact Bergmann could spot start on Sunday if need be.

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 15, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Hey one of those nerds is my friend. Cracks me up everytime I see it.

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 15, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

So why has Emilio Bonifacio -- dubbed ''Boni-fast'' by Hanley Ramirez -- improved offensively? He cites two reasons: 1) making better contact by recognizing pitches and ''waiting on the ball longer,'' and 2) constantly reminding himself to hit ground balls. ''What a great acquisition!'' Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran raved. And New York's Luis Castillo said opponents feel ``panic when he gets on base.'' Miami Herald

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 15, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Bergmann for Ledez is great. Give Tavarez a start. Protect NN until the team has won a few?

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 15, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Didn't Bard have two passed balls on Monday? If one of the catchers has to go, I'd prefer if if they cut loose the guy who has a problem, well, catching the ball.

I doubt Davis will be claimed off waivers, and if he is, can't they pull him back? It seems like a safe move to me to clear some room on the 40-man. Then again, my knowledge of waiver rules is pretty hockey-centric.

Good point on Bergmann, biscuits. He's the other NN in this equation, and his ability to be a spot starter could make him a useful bullpen guy. Plus, unlike Colome, he's already on the 40-man.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 15, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

One of those guys from the MASN cmmercials was in my section on Opening Day. Near the railing in Secton 140, he's the "short, rounded guy w/glasses" in the resd Nats shirt. He was standing up looking around, like he was waiting to sign autographs. Send both Dmitri & Belliard packing, pay'em off, take the hit, whatever needs to happen. That will clear up some roster spots.

Posted by: phil104 | April 15, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

If the Nats have not won before Sunday, I would prefer the Nats not bring Zimmermann up for that start anyway. Don't put that kind of pressure on the young man. Bring up whoever is scheduled for that start and delay Zimmermann for a week until his next turn comes around.

Natbiscuits
--------------
Natbiscuits,

The problem is that there is nobody scheduled to start that day. We have a 4 man rotation right now, and that is the 5th man's spot. Jordan Zimmermann is supposed to be that fifth starter. I don't know why there is added pressure on JZimm if we are still winless at that point- nobody would blame him for a loss. If the kid is ready, let him play. If he's not ready, than don't force him up here. I think he looked ready in ST, and I'm excited to see him pitch for the Nats.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | April 15, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Either Ledema or Tavarez could spot start, depending on how much work they have gotten between now and Sunday. Don't know what the likelihood of one more rain out is tonight, but that could shift everyone back a day (but may mean another rainout for Syracuse).

Stammen pitched on Monday and could go on Sunday, but he would have to be added to the 40 man roster and would necessitate another 40 man move beyond adding Zimmermann (and Cintron).

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 15, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

For those who are interested, there's a very good piece by Svrluga on the Russian Capitals in today's paper.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 15, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I've gotten to the point that I'm beginning to wonder if the "Curse o' the Boullez" isn't some sort of DC centered epidemic.

Last year we had more folks on the DL for more days than anyone else. We've started off this year in the same state.

No excuses, this is just part of the game but...

Posted by: Catcher50 | April 15, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

So, now, morning after sending Milledge down and pleasing the crowds, making some psychological statement, etc. all is happiness in NatsTown, right? Chico - it's interesting speculation you've got there, and I think I'm with Brian - I'd leave ZNN in Syracuse and let him start tonight, let Tavarez (or Bergmann) come up and take the start on the 19th, and bring ZNN up next time around. In the meantime, drop one of the backup catchers, bring up Cintron and Bernadina. By the time ZNN is ready to come up, hopefully either Guzman, Belliard or Harris is healthy and one of them can go back down.

But here's the thing on the Milledge thing - this really does nothing to change things for the Nats or for Milledge - it's just action to look like action. After the demotion, the following things are still true:

The Nats are still 0-7. They still have a team ERA of 7.71. They still have no leadoff hitter, unless you count Anderson Hernandez and his .283 career OBP, or Guzman's slap-happy .309 career OBP (keep in mind Milledge - the worst leadoff hitter in history has a career .326 OBP). They still have too many corner OF guys squeezed into too many spots.

Oh, and one new thing to add - they cuckolded their manager in front of their players, because one of two things is true - either a bad run of 26AB over 10 days can totally change the front office's view of a 24-year-old player, or Acta's opinion matters not at all.

And, sending Milledge down to Syracuse aside from pleasing the crowd who feels Milledge doesn't "respect the game" does nothing to develop him as a ballplayer - and to the extent that the decision to do so was determined by 26 ABs in early April, goes to show that the Rizzo FO is as reactionary as Bowden's was with Church and others. Milledge's biggest problem isn't his attitude or his close-your-eyes terrible .397 OPS so far, it's his "tweener" skillset. He hits enough and enough for power to be an asset if he can play a premium defensive spot, but doesn't seemingly have the skills to handle those spots defensively. He can handle LF (or maybe RF) but hasn't yet developed enough power to be an MLB corner OF. So, either he needs to learn to play CF (or be converted to 2B) or he needs to learn to hit for more power without killing his OBP. It's fine to have him do those things in Syracuse - but as much needed to do those things on April 1 as he does on April 15 - and we apparently made a commitment to a player that lasted for 26 ABs.

Not saying I wouldn't have done it, but in the light of the morning the feel-good "Yeah, he sucks, demote him," decision feels petty, ill-considered, and unlikely to help. The one concrete good thing is that Milledge can get 3-4 ABs a day without taking them away from Dukes and that may be enough to justify the decision, but again, wasn't that true two weeks ago?

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 15, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Assuming there are no rainouts or injuries to the SPs, the #5 spot that Zimmermann is going to fill will go on Sunday 4/19 and then not again until Tuesday 4/28 (assuming everyone goes on regular rest).

A #5 is not needed on a consistent basis until 4/28 where it will come up five times on regular rest.

It might make more sense to use a Bergmann or Tavarez or someone else on Sunday and let Zimmermann stay on a regular schedule with a goal on bringing him up for the 4/28 start.

Posted by: Brian_ | April 15, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Talk all you want about Frank and his won-lost record but before Joe Torre managed the best team money could buy(Yankees) what was his record? No I don't want Frank back in the dugout and NO! the "game" has not passed him by,obviouly what has passed some of you by is that today's players are full of themselves, have poor fundamentals,lack work ethic,and have a sense of entitlement, just look at this team we already lead the league in errors,walks,passed balls,stolen bases allowed we probably have the worst team ERA! Mike Rizzo could do himself a favor; hire F.Robby back as a consultant, trust me,you could do a lot worse and remember "A WISE MAN SEEKS COUNCIL"

Posted by: dargregmag | April 15, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Didn't Bard have two passed balls on Monday? Posted by: JohninMpls | April 15, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

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

He had three. The Coast Guard guy's first pitch went to the backstop as well. But he's a switch hitter (oh well).

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 15, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

> So why has Emilio Bonifacio -- dubbed ''Boni-fast'' by Hanley Ramirez -- improved offensively? He cites two reasons: 1) making better contact by recognizing pitches and ''waiting on the ball longer,'' and 2) constantly reminding himself to hit ground balls.

Maybe what he needed all along was someone other than Lenny Harris as his hitting coach.

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 15, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Afraid of pitching Zimmermann because of "pressure"???

This ain't Day Care - it's time to put up and prove yourself. It's time to show you have the guts, gumption, and ability to make it in the Majors. A player does so by showing the desire, the willingness to work and learn, and the talent to stay in the Majors.

I don't want my pitchers "pampered". "Oooooh, he may feel pressure pitching for an 0-11 team!!" Good, I hope he does feel pressure and he relishes his chance. If he can't handle pressure he is in the wrong profession.

Plus, reality check, pitching for a last place team is the antithesis of "pressure".

Posted by: VladiHondo | April 15, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Call Zimmermann up now to start today.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | April 15, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

> Last year we had more folks on the DL for more days than anyone else. We've started off this year in the same state.

You have any stats at all on that? Lots of teams have DL issues this year. Yankees have lost how many DL days on ARod alone already? Post this morning says Braves may lose #5 starter Glavine FOR GOOD due to injury. (He may retire.) Yes, there have been a lot of Nats out so far this season, but don't exaggerate things.

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 15, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Has Bergmann been stretched out enough this year to make a start? Tavares has a rubber arm, yes, but haven't you all already been complaining about him being used too much?

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 15, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

> But here's the thing on the Milledge thing - this really does nothing to change things for the Nats or for Milledge

Grab Milledge for a chat sometime when the Syracuse bus stops to refuel, and I bet he won't agree with you that things haven't changed for him.

Which raises another question. When Bergmann got sent down, we saw the "exit interviews" with Chico et al. Nothing like that for Milledge. Is the team silencing him like they do with Dukes, or is Milledge silencing himself? It would seem entirely strange if it was the media that didn't care to get Milledge's thoughts on the matter.

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 15, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

> Oh, and one new thing to add - they cuckolded their manager in front of their players, because one of two things is true - either a bad run of 26AB over 10 days can totally change the front office's view of a 24-year-old player, or Acta's opinion matters not at all.

Why do you think that Acta is not in agreement with Milledge being sent down? Have seen nothing anywhere to indicate that he's not fully supportive of this move. Indeed, it may have been partly his idea. Who knows?

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 15, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I'd be willing to bet my life savings of $89 that come October 1st, Emiliano Bonifacio will be hitting near .250, have a OBP of .310 or so, and look very much like the player that wasn't good enough to play for both the Diamondbacks and the Nationals.

I have been watching baseball since 1967, and have seen hundreds of players destroy the league in April but is pretty much never heard of again.

In 1970, I was rooting for Frank Howard to break Roger Maris' home run record and was stunned that some guy named Danny Walton had hit 9 home runs by May 1st. He was running circles around Hondo & Reggie Jackson and Harmon Killebrew.

He ended the year with 17 homers, and hit just 11 more homers in six more seasons in the major leagues.

Major league pitchers are really good at adjusting to hitters.

the Willingham-Olsen trade was good when it happened, and will be good for the Nationals at the end of the year.

Posted by: rushfari | April 15, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

> Mike Rizzo could do himself a favor; hire F.Robby back as a consultant, trust me,you could do a lot worse and remember "A WISE MAN SEEKS COUNCIL"

Which wise man in MLB was it that sought the DC Council?

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 15, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

"they cuckolded their manager in front of their players"

I was more curious regarding who Nat's management would need to have intimate relations with in order to make this true. Are you saying they bleeped LM?

Posted by: joebleux | April 15, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Heck, Tavarez could probably pitch relief on Saturday and start Sunday.

Bernadina needs to come up, if only because Dunn needs to come out for defense if the Nats ever have the lead in the 8th inning or be pinch-ran for if he's on base then. That's what a 5th OF is for. Willie could do that, but he's unavailable.
--------
Either Ledema or Tavarez could spot start, depending on how much work they have gotten between now and Sunday. Don't know what the likelihood of one more rain out is tonight, but that could shift everyone back a day (but may mean another rainout for Syracuse).

Posted by: chiefwj | April 15, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

"they cuckolded their manager in front of their players"

I was more curious regarding who Nat's management would need to have intimate relations with in order to make this true. Are you saying they bleeped LM?"

And if they did, will he be recording a rap song about it in his Syracuse garage?

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 15, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Cuckoling - Based on Manny's style of garnering positivity I think he supported Lastings in public until the end despite being in agreement with the move, maybe lobbying for it. I also think the bigger deal here is work ethic and attitude.

K-Zimm: I agree that worrying about pressure is silly. Innings yes, pressure no. Also spot starts for relievers = bad idea. If Zimm missing his turn means we need a different starter for sunday, which I'm guessing it doesn't, we have good SPs in the cuse.

Posted by: nattaboy | April 15, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Didn't Bard have two passed balls on Monday? Posted by: JohninMpls | April 15, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

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

He had three. The Coast Guard guy's first pitch went to the backstop as well. But he's a switch hitter (oh well).

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 15, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

****************************************
Being a switch hitter doesn't mean that he can hit - he hasn't proven that on either side of the plate yet with the Nats. We have a couple of other switch hitters on the team which is more than most teams and you can see how much it has helped us so far. Bard needs to be the one to go.

I agree about keeping JZim in Syracuse until the April 28th. Give him another start. The guy is good and I was impressed at spring training, but there is an awful lot of hype building up for this kid. If something doesn't go well in his first outing in the bigs, I don't want to see everyone turn on him. He is one guy that may help us turn things around in DC, but he is not the savior. Here is another thought. If we wait until April 28th, shouldn't they just wait until arbitration deadline? May be too long to wait though.

Posted by: ilovethenats | April 15, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

"they cuckooed their manager in front of their players" ????

well, no wonder Acta is a goner.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 15, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

This is a tough call. It seems to come down to whether his attitude is actually bad, and not just the perception of bad.

I'm all for taking a tough line on a bad attitude but, it's really tough for us on the outside to get more than hearsay on that front.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 15, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Just because Acta was supportive of Milledge in public does not mean he was supportive of Milledge in the back office. And it certainly does not mean that he opposed the demotion. I have seen nothing to date reported that indicates the demotion was against Acta's wishes. Have I missed something?

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 15, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Hey expos fans, how about supporting the real hometown team and quit being phony fairweather type...Go O's (plus we have more wins than the expos will have all year by the looks of it)

Posted by: justlovesports | April 15, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

But he's a switch pitcher (oh well).

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 15, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

But he's a switch hitter against a switch pitcher (oh well).

A vendetty against venditte?

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 15, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

For the Sunday start, we could see if Nick Swisher is available! LOL. Did you see that he pitched the 8th inning on Monday night? Good stuff. MLB took down the video that was youtube.

Posted by: ilovethenats | April 15, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

>Oh, and one new thing to add - they cuckolded their manager in front of their players, because one of two things is true - either a bad run of 26AB over 10 days can totally change the front office's view of a 24-year-old player, or Acta's opinion matters not at all

Ah yes, through all the hubris comes the bottom line. They don't want to allow Manny the chance to put Milledge in the lineup. They don't trust him. It's about time they held the clown accountable.

Posted by: Brue | April 15, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

swisher video is still up.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 15, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

..."A WISE MAN SEEKS COUNCIL"

Posted by: dargregmag | April 15, 2009 9:23 AM

Not if it's the Prince George's County Council....

A wise man consults a dictionary or seeks counsel.

So, what about Ryan Langerhans? If the Nats could ever grab a lead, he'd a fine defensive replacement, and was showing signs of becoming a decent hitter. Langerhans was easily the guy most overlooked because of the Nats' commitments to Dunn, Milledge, Dukes, Willingham, and Kearns.

Posted by: fischy | April 15, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"He had three. The Coast Guard guy's first pitch went to the backstop as well. But he's a switch hitter (oh well).

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 15, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse"

Nova: Do you just make this stuff up or what? Bard didn't play on monday so it would be pretty hard for him to have two passed balls. Also did he even catch one of the opening pitches??

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 15, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm betting that tonight's game will be rained out, so that pushes the rotation back another day.

Posted by: ramgut | April 15, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

A NOTE TO DC CAPS FAN: Yeah,yeah,yeah, i know it should have been "a wise man seeks counsel"

Posted by: dargregmag | April 15, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

For those that miss the "good ol' days" when F. Robby was managing and wouldn't tolerate all the errors and sloppy play ...

During Frank's two years in DC (not counting his years with MTL) the Nats committed 223 errors and had a fielding percentage of .9813

During Manny's first two years here, the Nats committed 232 errors and had a fielding percentage of .9807

Granted FPCT is not the best stat to use (hey, I'm old and din't have time to search for the fancy new fielding stats), but there really wasn't much of a difference in the Nats fielding the past 4 years. It sucked then and it sucks now.

Sure, Frank would have gotten in someone's face if they messed up or showed him up, but I don't think that helped that player become better and not do the same mistakes again. I think the difference between Frank and Manny is that Frank did his yelling in public (and in the media). I think Manny does it behind closed doors. Either way, it doesn't seem to work ...

Posted by: erocks33 | April 15, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

"I'm all for taking a tough line on a bad attitude but, it's really tough for us on the outside to get more than hearsay on that front."

Well, he did say "I'm not going to show up early just to show up early." Which, if you're hitting 300/400/500, and catching fly balls, that's great. But really, he's not getting the job done now. And someone who says "i'm not gonna work harder" who's doing a poor job isn't going to have that job for long. Whether or not that's a "bad" work ethic, the fact is that work ethic isn't sufficient. He's simply going to have to work harder if he wants to play in the MLB. Maybe he'll learn that habit in AAA, maybe not. But until then, there are guys in Syracuse and DC who can do his job better than he can.

Posted by: Section406 | April 15, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

"Which raises another question. When Bergmann got sent down, we saw the 'exit interviews' with Chico et al. Nothing like that for Milledge. Is the team silencing him like they do with Dukes, or is Milledge silencing himself? It would seem entirely strange if it was the media that didn't care to get Milledge's thoughts on the matter."

I suspect it works like this -- Bergmann knew he was on the bubble, and that getting sent down was a real possiblity. So he was't shocked when it happened, and was willing to talk about it. Milledge though he'd "arrived" and was going to spend the rest of his career in the bigs. That's a bit of a shock when you have to go pack your bags for Sucksville.

Posted by: Section406 | April 15, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Didn't Bard have two passed balls on Monday? Posted by: JohninMpls | April 15, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse


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

I support JiM; and you[re right; he did not even catch one of the opening pitches. missed it completely.


Posted by: nova_g_man | April 15, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and please, can we stop comparing the Nats to the Caps? Zim is no Ovie. Also the competition in the NL East (Phillies, Mets, Braves and even the Marlins) is far superior to the competition the Caps face in the Southeast Division (Carolina, Florida, Atlanta and Tampa Bay --- okay, I'll give you Carolina as a tough opponent). That's like putting the Nats in the same division as the Royals, Pirates, Padres and Reds. Stop the comparisons, please.

Posted by: erocks33 | April 15, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

"> Nova: Do you just make this stuff up or what? Bard didn't play on monday so it would be pretty hard for him to have two passed balls. Also did he even catch one of the opening pitches??

No, I don't think Bard caught one of the opening day pitches. But Lastings Milledge did - along with Acta, Guz, Zimmerman and some other player I can't recall now, so maybe that was Bard. Wonder if it was Acta or the FO that selected Milledge for this honor? Or were they just caught off guard by having five pitchers and forced to round up five guys in a hurry to catch?

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 15, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"Oh, and please, can we stop comparing the Nats to the Caps?"
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Umm...wouldn't we have to start comparing before we can stop?
Did I miss this in an earlier post? I feel like I'm in an alternate universe...

Posted by: Section138 | April 15, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

> I think the difference between Frank and Manny is that Frank did his yelling in public (and in the media). I think Manny does it behind closed doors.

Also, Manny at least does seem to know that there is no crying in baseball. Can't say that about Frank.

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 15, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

5th "catcher" on Monday was Adam Dunn.

Posted by: Traveler8 | April 15, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm seeing on the NFA blog that Bernadina has been called up. Chico, can you verify?

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 15, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

He was spotted headed to the airport.....

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 15, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I was the one who posited the original question about Bard's two passed balls. I had the date wrong - it happened on Sunday, not on Monday. Flores started Monday.

-----

Nova: Do you just make this stuff up or what? Bard didn't play on monday so it would be pretty hard for him to have two passed balls. Also did he even catch one of the opening pitches??

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 15, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Acta the Act is up!!! Bring on Riggleman!!! Terrible decisions on Monday with the pitching changes!!! Team NEEDS SOME Discipline.Ex:NO Hustle.Where is Willingham? Oh I Forgot he is a well disciplined ballplayer that hustles!!!THIS IS NOT Manny's ACT!!!

Posted by: KGG769 | April 15, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

A thought about Dunn. We went to both opening games, in Fla and DC and have been watching Adam Dunn a lot. His fielding completely negates and even over-rules anything he does offensively. He costs the Nats about 2 runs per game on misplaced balls and sometimes makes that up with 2 runs offensively. At best he is a wash. Exciting offensively yes, but defensively the guy is one of the worst fielders I've ever seen. Opening game in Florida he turned an easy out into a double. Two runs ended up scoring because of it. OPening game in DC he turned a single into a double and because of that a run scored. The Nats lost by one. He also made another error that resulted in 1 or 2 runs.
His defense is killing us.
He'd be great as a DH.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 15, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"His defense is killing us.
He'd be great as a DH."

Bingo.

Posted by: skippy1999 | April 15, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps our current roster issues are the baseball gods' way of punishing the Nats for so poorly putting together this team this year. 3 catchers, 5 corner outfielders, starting pitchers that other teams were willing to basically give away.

Its time to step it up and do what we need to do. Trade an outfielder, cut a catcher, DFA Dmitry Young and use his spot to add JZimmerman. Instead of adding yet another retread like Cintron how about giving our home-grown guys (Desmond) a shot.

Oh, and if you guys think Casto, Langerhans or O'Conner is the answer, i guess years and years of proof isn't enough. Those guys can't play at the MLB level. They're lucky they still have jobs at Syracuse.

Posted by: tboss | April 15, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

The MASN ads are obviously "real" fans - one is the omni-present "Screech's Best Friend" -- but they are so put-on with fake enthusiasm they make my flesh crawl.

And exactly why are the ads touting only bench-player Willie Harris and Elijah Dukes? Dukes has a lot of talent and you can't argue with him taking a regular spot in CF, but is he really the personality you want to market the franchise with? There are two Dukes spots and one Harris, and no others that I've seen. Dukes is one child support payment away from the pokey. No one has a Ryan Zimmerman or Nick Johnson moment?

Posted by: raymitten | April 15, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I was asked to do a spot about my Nick Johnson moment. However, when I explained to him that the moment I was going to describe was the time he injured his heel stepping on home plate, they hung up.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 15, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

JiM: My problem was with the way nova mocked Bard...you getting you dates mixed up is fine happens to all of us...but nova obviously thought it was monday since he gave Bard another "passed" ball when he was in the dugout while the ceremonial pitches were being thrown out. I don't like someone attacking a player if they dont know what they are talking about.

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 15, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"That's like putting the Nats in the same division as the Royals, Pirates, Padres and Reds. Stop the comparisons, please."

They'd be in last in that division too. We have nowhere near the organizational talent of any of those franchises.


Posted by: RickFelt | April 15, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Dunn should have been worked extensively at first base at the very start of spring training he's not getting any younger and clearly he'll either be a DH(AL) or at first base,yes every fly ball where Dunn is concerned is an adventure and no i'm not forgetting Nick Johnson(should have been traded for prospects)this is the problem i have with upper management you had to know about Dunn's liabilities in the field,the question is does his bat outweigh his glove? so far the answer is no.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 15, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Dukes, is without question, the most talented and best player on the Nats. The mere fact that Lastings Milledge, who is no longer on the major league roster and Austin Kearns, who shouldn't be on the major league roster, started ahead of Dukes on opening game, shows how well Manny Acta can evaluate talent. As Charles Barkley would say: That's just turribull!!!

Posted by: dovelevine | April 15, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Kearns is so bad.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 15, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"A thought about Dunn. We went to both opening games, in Fla and DC and have been watching Adam Dunn a lot. His fielding completely negates and even over-rules anything he does offensively. He costs the Nats about 2 runs per game on misplaced balls and sometimes makes that up with 2 runs offensively. At best he is a wash. Exciting offensively yes, but defensively the guy is one of the worst fielders I've ever seen. Opening game in Florida he turned an easy out into a double. Two runs ended up scoring because of it. OPening game in DC he turned a single into a double and because of that a run scored. The Nats lost by one. He also made another error that resulted in 1 or 2 runs.
His defense is killing us."

While I agree Dunn isn't the best defensive player out there I think thats being a little harsh on him. Look Dunn, Dukes and Guzman are the only players producing offensively and Dunn more so than anyone else. By the line of thinking that Dunn's defensive miscues are equal to the best offensive production on the team, than Nick Johnson and maybe even Ryan Zimmermann shouldn't be in the lineup. Johnson esp. has been a problem, he's played very well defensively so far but hasn't contributed at all with the bat. His offensive woes don't merit a roster spot by that consideration. Look i'm not gonna say Dunn is a gold glover but he is far from the problem with this team.

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 15, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

It's also underrating Dunn's effect to just look at his stats alone. He makes the entire offense around him better. There's a reason that we're losing games 9-8 and not 9-2 like last year, and it's not just having Nick back.

Having Dunn in the lineup forces pitchers to throw strikes to hitters before and after him -- you don't want to put runners on in front of him, and if he draws a walk, you don't want to walk the next hitter to put him in scoring position.

He's not going to be _that_ lousy in left all year. His primary problem now is that he's not getting to balls fast enough to keep runners from taking second on him. He's a decent athlete, and he'll work on it and get better.

Posted by: joebleux | April 15, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Look i'm not gonna say Dunn is a gold glover but he is far from the problem with this team. Posted by: Steveo11

The problem for this team is pitching and defense. Pitching we expected to be bad but defense? Dunn has been great offensively as I said. However, his offense has been totally negated by his defense so it really hasn't helped. He has given up as many if not more runs defensively as he has accounted for offensively. Therefor, he may not be the main problem, but it is a real problem and it means he really isn't an asset.
Unfortunately, pitching and defense wins games and that doesn't bode well for Washington.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 15, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Dovelevine - Touch the porch. Dunn is the 2nd best player on the entire team. This team would be 0-7 with no close games without him.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 15, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Acta the Act is up!!! Bring on Riggleman!!! Terrible decisions on Monday with the pitching changes!!! Team NEEDS SOME Discipline.Ex:NO Hustle.Where is Willingham? Oh I Forgot he is a well disciplined ballplayer that hustles!!!THIS IS NOT Manny's ACT!!!

Posted by: KGG769 | April 15, 2009 12:12 PM |

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If Manny isn't looking in the rearview mirror, he should be.

3 lefties in the bullpen. Beimel is left you need in the 7th and what, you use him in the 8th to face the bottom of the order when you have a tie game that you MUST WIN and you have lefties Chase Utley and Ryan Howard coming to bat.

Be creative, use Beimel in the 7th and Saul in the 8th.

I don't get it. Sure if it worked out, then Manny doesn't get all the questions but over several matchups, Beimel (or another lefty) should face Utley/RHoward towards the end of the game.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 15, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

0-7!! Whoa, it's a good thing we have Dunn so we aren't 0-7!. Oh wait, ... we ARE 0-7.

Posted by: kfisher32 | April 15, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Dovelevine - Touch the porch. Dunn is the 2nd best player on the entire team. This team would be 0-7 with no close games without him.
Posted by: RickFelt

Good 1. First off, team IS 0-7. And 0-7 is 0-7 any way you cut it.
2nd, Guz is 2nd best player on team. And if Zim ever gets going, he is 3rd best.
So that puts Dunn 4th on a not very good team.
Listen the guy can rack. No doubt.
And if he ever ends up in the American League as a one-sider, he could end up an MVP.
But he's not a rookie, so I don't know how anyone can say his D is gonna get better. He really stinks out there in the field.
I thought his problem was gonna be strikeouts not killer errors. Who knew?

Posted by: dovelevine | April 15, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

He has 8 RBI and has scored 4 runs. He also has 11 walks and a .364 average.

If you can come up with some metric that says he's cost the Nats at least 11 runs, then maybe we can allow this statement to stand unchallenged.

-----

However, his offense has been totally negated by his defense so it really hasn't helped.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 15, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, it's such a let down after having stellar left field play for so long on the Nats -- Pena, Flopez, Lo Doca -- OK, so those guys sucked in the field too, but, by golly, they sure made up for it at the plate.

Posted by: joebleux | April 15, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Everyone knew that Dunn is and always will be a liability in the field, be it in left or at first. He's here because he can mash the ball and get on base. And maybe put a few extra seats in the stands.

The big problem I have with the defense so far has been at 2nd. Belly botched a couple early. Willie made one or two good stops but also missed a couple of others (there were two instances in Atlanta where he wouldn't have been able to get the runner out, but if he stopped the ball from leaving the infield he would have kept runners at third base, instead they scored when the ball got under his glove). And Anderson had about as bad a first day back as humanly possible. All of those miscues cost the Nats more runs than Dunn's escapades in left. At least Dunn basically gets those runs back when he's at the plate. Belly/Willie/Anderson hasn't contributed much (yet).

Posted by: erocks33 | April 15, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and the Nats couldn't (and still can't) trade Nick for prospects until he can prove to everyone that he can be healthy for more than 4 weeks per season. Even if someone would be willing to pick him up, there is no way they'd be willing to give the Nats anything more than a Low-A caliber player. Even then it'd probably be a 27 year-old Low-A player.

Posted by: erocks33 | April 15, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

My problem was with the way nova mocked Bard ... nova obviously thought it was monday since he gave Bard another "passed" ball when he was in the dugout while the ceremonial pitches were being thrown out. I don't like someone attacking a player if they dont know what they are talking about.

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 15, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Lighten up, Cowgirls fan. It was a joke in re Shakescene's 2 PB vs. his oh-so-valuable switch hitting; we all saw Opening Day and we all know who played; why not try to be objective and unbiased, and just say what you believe to be true? It's a game, Shoupie, you Philadelphia Eagles groupie. Go watch your beloved O's and leave us alone? Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 15, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

It's really early in the season, and I don't actually expect Dunn to OPS 1.303 (and, why are we arguing about a guy who is OPS-ing 1.303, again?) all season, the idea that Dunn's defensive miscues balance out his offensive production just doesn't appear to be remotely founded.

Just using Baseball Prospectus's WARP statistic, for example, Dunn's generally been about a 3 to 4 win player. Over his fielding has varied from plus five runs above average to 19 runs below average for the season (generally in the teens below average). Adam Dunn is a valuable baseball player, notwithstanding his defensive deficiencies (and those deficiencies are undeniable - I'm not suggesting he's anything other than a butcher with the glove).

If I'm missing something let me know, but I'm not aware of a single respected metric that would suggest Adam Dunn is, net, a wash, let alone a handicap, for a team.

Posted by: Section220 | April 15, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

By the way, isn't there a game today?

Oh Tracee, wherefore hast thou forsaken us?

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 15, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

"Lighten up, Cowgirls fan. It was a joke in re Shakescene's 2 PB vs. his oh-so-valuable switch hitting; we all saw Opening Day and we all know who played; why not try to be objective and unbiased, and just say what you believe to be true? It's a game, Shoupie, you Philadelphia Eagles groupie. Go watch your beloved O's and leave us alone? Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter."

Well i'm glad you know me so well Nova...b/c I HATE THE COWBOYS AND EAGLES...Though you were right about one thing I do love my O's and I won't give them up. I grew up watching Ripken and the O's I watched them open up Camden yards and go to the playoffs. I will always love them. Why can't you live up to your moniker and be a man and admit you were wrong, you were wrong about bard and you are wrong now. And seriously who are you?


Posted by: Steveo11 | April 15, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

dovelevine: From what i've read a run saved isn't equal to a run created. Offensive production is greater than defensive. Sec 220 is right Dunn is still a bonus to this team regardless of his defense liabilites.

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 15, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

There may or may not be a game today. There is a large rotating storm that extends roughly from Cleveland to here to the tip of Long Island, and it doesn't appear to be leaving us anytime soon. If they play, they will play wet. And cold.

See the NatCast here:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2009/04/natcast_1.html#comments

Posted by: BobLHead | April 15, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

dovelevine: From what i've read a run saved isn't equal to a run created. Posted by: Steveo11

Disagree. Anyone watch the Os last night? That amazing relay throw from Jones to Roberts to Zaun that nailed Young at the plate was the reason the Os were able to take the game to extras and win.
BTW that relay was one of the best plays I've ever seen. Really amazing.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 15, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Fortunately, the Caps play inside.

-----

There may or may not be a game today. There is a large rotating storm that extends roughly from Cleveland to here to the tip of Long Island, and it doesn't appear to be leaving us anytime soon. If they play, they will play wet. And cold.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 15, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

"There may or may not be a game today. There is a large rotating storm that extends roughly from Cleveland to here to the tip of Long Island, and it doesn't appear to be leaving us anytime soon. If they play, they will play wet. And cold."

Day-night doubleheader tomorrow, then? I don't see an off day for both teams on either side of the Phillies' two remaining trips here.

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 15, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Sorry dovelevine I should have been more clear, I meant from what i've seen from defensive metric studies and other written reports that say a run saved on defense isn't equal to a run created on offense. I'm not denying the importance of defense but for some positions like LF and 1B offense out weighs defense.

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 15, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

For the players' sake I hope the game gets cancelled if tonight is anything like it is right now. It's miserable out there.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 15, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Since you mentioned MASN, I'll reiterate my complaint from a year ago -- SORIANO ISN'T ON THE NATS ANYMORE, SO DON'T FEATURE HIM OR OTHER DEPARTED PLAYERS REPEATEDLY IN YOUR TV ADS.

Posted by: jonathangrella | April 15, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

"Since you mentioned MASN, I'll reiterate my complaint from a year ago -- SORIANO ISN'T ON THE NATS ANYMORE, SO DON'T FEATURE HIM OR OTHER DEPARTED PLAYERS REPEATEDLY IN YOUR TV ADS."

Where are they doing this? I haven't seen any Soriano ads since he was here. And as others have said already, this year's MASN ads are featuring fans.

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 15, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Who out there thinks the nats drafting to date is below average. The Dewitler and Crow fiasco have really hurt us. That plus the fact we really have position players that stand out.

Just moreoil on the fire.

Posted by: mjames0 | April 15, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

it's not the same type of ad as the new dukes and harris ads. it's one that has aired for years and continues to pump the nats on masn. shows montage of higlights, which are dominated by soriano swinging, stealing, etc.

Posted by: jonathangrella | April 15, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

>The Dewitler and Crow fiasco have really hurt us.

I think we'll see Detwiler sooner rather than later. I read somewhere else that he would be up this season. Our pitching is desperate. As long as he throws strikes, everything seems to be cool. Certainly has enough enough stuff, he just hasn't mastered a major league windup. I don't anticipate him still spazzing out like Cabrera was on Monday (I was in 126 behind the plate). Danny's got this thing where it looks like they're telling him to short arm the ball instead of reaching back more and letting loose. That was painful to watch. I think that was the main reason he was throwing 88. They've shortened his motion so much, he's pretty much standing straight up and has no leg drive. Missing in all four quadrants. And he still only gave up one earned. There's no way that Detwiler's windup is nearly as contrived as Cabrera's.

Posted by: Brue | April 15, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

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