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More About The Finish (Or, Rather, The Failure To Finish)

The reasons the Nats blew a four-lead last night are far more apparent than the steps they can take to prevent to prevent it from happening again. Before we get too deep into rehashing the meltdown, let me address two tangential but relevant questions.

* No, in their conversations with free agent pitcher Pedro Martinez, the Nationals have not discussed the possibility of a closer's role.

* Yes, Joe Beimel -- who probably would have turned last night's game into a win -- is still on target to come off the DL on the first day of his eligibility. (Wednesday, May 6.)

Anyway, now let's talk a bit more about last night. Especially the eighth inning, where two Washington righties -- Garrett Mock, then Joel Hanrahan -- broke every cardinal rule of relief pitching in about 15 minutes. Walks, wildness, mental shakiness -- you name it. Hanrahan, whose best pitch is his fastball, used way too many sliders. He also issued free passes to hitters he usually beats.

After Mock allowed his third hit of the inning, Washington's lead was down to 11-9. One runner was on. There were two outs. Hanrahan entered the game.

(Side note, Pt. I. One thing Mock pointed out after yesterday's game merits attention: "When I come in in the eighth inning with that type of lead," Mock said, "there shouldn't be a need for Manny to call and get Joel up to go for an over-an-inning save. I put him in a tight spot, because he probably had a good 30 or 40 seconds to get loose. So it was on me tonight.")

Due up, in order: Ryan Howard. Jayson Werth. Raul Ibanez.

Howard, lifetime against Hanrahan -- 0-for-7 with six strikeouts.

Werth, lifetime against Hanrahan -- 0-for-7 with three strikeouts.

Hanrahan walked Howard on five pitches. He walked Werth on five pitches.

All of a sudden, the bases were loaded.

(Side note, Pt. II. Asked after the game what problems he saw with Hanrahan, Acta said without hesitation, "Well, how about walking the first two guys he faces, two guys that have very poor numbers against him. You're coming out of the bullpen as a closer, you have to come right after guys. Those two guys haven't done anything against him, and he ends up walking them and then throwing strikes when the bases are loaded to a very dangerous hitter.")

Dangerous indeed. After using heaps of sliders against Howard and Werth, Hanrahan grooved a fastball. Ibanez turned on it, and tucked it just inside the right field foul pole. It was a grand slam.

"We had an 11-9 game," Hanrahan said, "and obviously it's pretty easy to get a home run here, and I tried to avoid the home run instead of throwing strikes."

(Side Note No. III. Discussing his pitch selection on the night, Hanrahan said, "Yeah, I threw Ryan Howard quite a few sliders. I've had pretty decent success with him trying to throw him sliders. And I got him to swing at one of them, but they weren't very good sliders. They were 59 feet to the catcher, and when you're not even close to the plate with them they're not going to swing.")

By Chico Harlan  |  April 28, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
 
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Comments

Repost:

Last night was a punch in the gut game. Hanrahan is obviously struggling and I wouldn't be surprised to see Tavares get a shot at closing for a while until Hanrahan can get some mojo back.

Folks, these were the world champs we lost to on a night when the ball was really flying out, even for that park, in front of a packed house with a struggling bullpen. Even though we were on the short end of the stick that was a great game.

I really don't know what people expect Manny to do with that poopy arse bullpen.
You don't think he looks at who's available in the Pen during the late innings and throws up in his mouth with the thought of putting some of these slugs out there.

When we went up 11-7, I said to myself they still have 6 outs, it may not be enough, with our Bullpen, in this park, against this team.

$10 bucks says Manny was thinking the same thing.

Somebody nudge the NJ because the "Fire Manny" record is skipping again. Please make it stop.


Posted by: Section505203 | April 28, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

each one of Hanrahan's pitches to Howard and Werth were either 59 feet to the catcher, or 2 to 3 feet wide of the plate. He was nowhere close to throwing strikes.

I've tried to be as patient and suppportive of this team as much as possible. But this loss really hurt. I am just devastated. I don't know if I have the strength to watch tonight's game. Lannan needs to get some run support or else he might just go nuts in the clubhouse (imagine if he got one-third of last night's run support in his last two starts ...).

Posted by: erocks33 | April 28, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

great post, chico. I think you've done a good job keeping balanced here and in your gamer, leaving the ranting and hyperbole to us.

you too, 505. The Fire Manny Now thing is a little overboard.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 28, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I agree, it was a tough loss, but remember, these are the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies who happen to play in a ballpark just a little larger than my coat closet.

Things get skewed here.

We all know that until Joe Beimel comes back, and until we find a replacement closer, things will continue to look bad. Joel Hanrahan is a great middle-innings reliever and I hope we aren't ruining by putting him in a position he's just not built for.

Shairon Martis' penchant for walks bit him for the first time this year. Until he lowers his free passes, he'll continue to struggle, but he's good enough to survive those situations.

Posted by: rushfari | April 28, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Time for a new experiment with the closer. My vote would be for Biemel...though I've seen Manny's contention that this creates a separate problem by depriving him of a reliable 8th inning guy (though, seems to me, the closer is the most critical problem to address). If not him, I think Ballestar might be converted into a closer. From what I've seen of him, he throughs heat and makes hitters look bad for an inning or two...then gets figured out. With that profile, he may do well in a closer's role.

Posted by: mvm2 | April 28, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Someone commented a couple posts back about not mentioning no-hitters/hitting streaks/etc because baseball is a very superstitious sport. Can someone please tell Bob Carpenter that? How many times does he say something like "He just needs X number of outs to get the win" or "he's one strike away from getting a 1-2-3 inning" then having the opposite occur?

I recall last night when Wells was being pinch-hit for in the 8th that he said something like "Kip Wells will be in line for getting the win tonight." Dibble sort of mentioned that he shouldn't say that because there was still a couple of innnings left. And sure enough, Mock and Hanra-can't screw it up.

Posted by: erocks33 | April 28, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

the pitching and the defense better get straightened out quickly, or this coaching staff will need to think about employment elsewhere....this is horrible.

Posted by: outrbnksm | April 28, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

For some reason I instantly liked Beimel. He looks so old school and his music absolutely matches his scruffy look. Dude LOOKS like a closer.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 28, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Perfect Timing here... I always here at this catcher or that catcher "calls a great game" - yet when the pitcher blows a save - now he's throwing too many sliders.

So, which is it? I don't recall Hanrahanahan shaking off Flores. So, the question is, with a guy with mid-90s heat, why isn't Flores calling for the #1?

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Wells should close.

Posted by: chekhov1 | April 28, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I had a similar question about Flores here. Can we get some more insight on who calls pitches? I'm willing to cut the guy some slack, because he's young and learning, but it would be nice to know 1) he's learning and will become more aggressive in his calls and 2) it's not all on the pitchers. But is it?

"Someone commented a couple posts back about not mentioning no-hitters/hitting streaks/etc because baseball is a very superstitious sport. Can someone please tell Bob Carpenter that?"

I think it was 2007, I know it was against the Mets, probably on that double header Saturday that Lannan pitched. Lannan had a big doughnut through 5 and Ray Knight was commenting in place of Don Sutton and while watching him go for out number three in an inning said something like "This kid sure is guuuud, he's gotta no-hitter going through five."

"Uh oh," Carpy moaned.

"What, are you superstitious?" Ray Knight, the luckiest, most undeserving hero in baseball history asked. "It doesn't matter. Look: no-hitter, no-hitter, no-hitter, no-"

CRACK

Line drive

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Hear, hear, e! Carpenter does in fact make watching a bad game even worse. His foreshadowing and "predictions" about the future are inane, and they really fall outside the scope of what a good play-by-play guy should be saying. Just call the game, Bob, and shut up about the rest. You're bad enough as it is with your jam jobs and "how far is that going."

Oh, and as for the listen to Charlie and Dave suggestions--I try to do that, but DirecTV is about 10 seconds behind the radio broadcast, I have a hard time watching when I've already heard what is going to happen.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 28, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

erocks,

I agree completely about Carpy. He's always throwing the jinx on these guys. I'm superstitious and when he starts assuming stuff, I think to myself "Oh crap, he just screwed us"

Man, I wish he would shut up with that stuff sometimes.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 28, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

102 losses in 2008 and a sparkling 4-14 start this season. How in the world does Acta still have a job? Oh right, he's a terrific manager -- I know that because Boswell keeps telling me so. Not sure what he bases that on. Acta's .399 career win pct? 11th worst ever. 10th is in sight.

Posted by: SatchelPooch | April 28, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

erocks: Thank you, couldn't agree more re Carp. I'm glad that Dibble has been getting on him lately about it, too.

Posted by: slewis1 | April 28, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

If things don't turn around fast we maybe looking at a historically bad team rivaling the 62 mets. If you do the math where we stand now and apply it to the whole season you get some scary numbers.

Posted by: Tom8 | April 28, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Lose Post-Game Checklist:

1. Order Hanrahan fired [check]
2. "Call" for termination of Manny Acta [check]
3. Hate on Saul Rivera, whether or not he's in the game [check]
4. Accuse Lastings Milledge of having poor instincts, regardless of where he's playing at the moment [still needed]
5. Threaten to shred season tickets [check]
6. Accuse Lerners of cheapness [check]
7. Insist that everything would be solved if _________ is signed (Bonus: pick someone playing an entirely different position from the weak point) [check]
8. Suggest someone play out of position [check]
9. Lambaste Bob Carpenter [check]
10. Predict an absurd number of losses [check]

You all are still missing one! Get on it!

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I actually enjoy listening to that idiot Carpenter call games. I do get a chuckle out of his badly blown calls.

The "How far is this going?!?!!?" on Dukes' routine 2nd inning fly out then basically no commentary at all on Zimmerman's 1st tape measure shot to the same area of the yard was especially enjoyable.

Oh yeah, and Fire Acta. Of course. :D

Posted by: RickFelt | April 28, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

A few observations,

(1) I know our record stinks but the team is significantly more competitive than in any previous year. Our two weaknesses that need work - bullpen and defense.

(2) It seems some people feel that Hanrahan has the arm but lacks the mental toughness to be a closer, at least now. If that is the case maybe he can pitch the 7th - lets try him out there. Maybe we should try Wells/ Tavares for the closer by committee job. We may have the pieces to band aid our bullpen but right now they are out of order.

(3) Some may think I am crazy but i have a good feeling about this team. I am not in the "fire Manny" camp at this time but I am expecting him to focus on defense and the bullpen. Give the limitations in the pen he should go with the hot hand. Don't limit a reliever to one inning if he is pitching well. He needs to have his team work on its defense. If we see no improvement in these areas or at least an attempt to address the problems then Manny needs to go.

(4) Who calls the pitches????

Let's see what the adventure brings tonight.

Posted by: mjames0 | April 28, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

JayB,

Please bash Milledge so we can finish our chores for the day and go home.

Thanks.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 28, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

506, what's your deal recently? Seriously. The team had the worst record in baseball last year. They are playing horribly to start this season. The people posting here are all diehard fans, otherwise they wouldn't be posting in the midst of this craptacular play by the Nats. People are frustrated. If you have a different view then by all means, go for it and let people hear it. But there's no need that I can see for you to be mocking other diehard fans simply for expressing their frustration, which you seem to be doing more and more frequently.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 28, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Someone brilliant here recently said concerning Hanrahans crazy save appearance against the Braves:
"Sometimes an out isn't an out."

And last night the Nats paid for not learning that lesson.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 28, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

What do I expect Manny to do with a crappy bullpen?
How about not put them in STUPID situations. He can coddle the hell out of guys like Miledge but he could give two s's about putting his closer in with zero warmup in the 8th with men on base?
How about this:
If you have an 11-7 lead in the bottom of the 8th, you have a fragile, confused ballclub, and you send out a young pitcher who doesn't even have 50 innings as a reliever in the big leagues. THE SECOND after he walks the first two batters, pull his ass! Put in another reliever. If he doesn't do the job, pull his ass. If you want Hanrahan to be your closer, don't bring him up until the 9th. Manny deserves as much blame for leaving his bonehead pitchers out there to get shelled, then placing 10x more pressure on a guy in an unfamiliar situation, as the bonehead pitchers themselves.
I keep seeing stupid move after stupid move from this guy. I like his demeanor and I think he's a good influence on younger players but I think his in-game management is for crap.

Posted by: ajtrue78 | April 28, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Hilarious, 506! I've been ill and haven't read comments for a few days, but given that NJ has been rantacular for some time now I'm pretty sure what I'd have found had I read them.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 28, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

With 30 seconds to get ready it is impossible for a guy to have his slider ready... They set Hanrahan up to fail. If they were inteding to bring him in they should have had him warming earlier.

Posted by: NoVaNatRat | April 28, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

For those who want to fire Acta; how can you possibly hold him accountable for a lack of bullpen depth, injuries to start the season to almost all his middle infield depth, and a roster full of corner outfielders?

What needs to happen is thus:
- Mock and Hanrahan back to AAA
- bring up Clippard; he's been lights out in Syracuse
- move Wells to the closer spot for now; he's the most effective reliever out there.
- make Wells the 8th inning guy and Beimel the closer when Beimel comes back from DL
- DFA Rivera and bring up either Colome or Wagner. Colome's numbers were actually decent 2nd half of last year.

Posted by: tboss | April 28, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

You can't option Hanrahan to AAA. You have to move him to 7th inning/middle releif. There is no way he clears waivers.

Posted by: NoVaNatRat | April 28, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

506-

I understand why you're getting frustrated hearing the same thing over and over, but look on the bright side. At (some) people still care enough to watch and post. At least the Nats fans still have standards and expectations of the team to perform at a professional level. Even if much of this venting in these comments are either rash or silly, I'm always encouraged that people care to make suggestions and express their anger over this piss-poor team rather than just walking away. Let them vent and take comfort that Manny or Rizzo do not consult this blog's comments for ideas of how to improve the team.

If you want to influence the management of a professional team, start posting on the RedskinsInsider blog, because Dan Snyder DOES care what people think about his moves, and it actually gets in the way of making good football decision!

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | April 28, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

"Maybe we should try Wells/ Tavares for the closer by committee job. We may have the pieces to band aid our bullpen but right now they are out of order."

This is exactly my sentiment. And I echo those commending you for your article Chico, really good insight there. Is there a law though that says no one can ever interview Tavarez after his initial comments when he joined the team? Just curious what a veteran pitcher thinks about what the team is going through right now.

Posted by: skippy1999 | April 28, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Shameless plug for my blog here (sorry 'bout that). Come visit www.natslooser.blogspot.com and help me figure out a solution.
I have no answer.

Posted by: NFBLooser | April 28, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Acta selects the roles for these guys. He is responsible. He could have brought in a lefty to face Utley and Howard, but he elected not to do so. Maybe that was the right call. He could have left Dunn in the game on that double-switch, maybe he would have had a shot at a game-tying HR in the 9th, but Acta elected to go for the defense. It was his call, he runs the club.

I am glad to hear both Mock and Hanrahan owning-up, but Acta is needs to step up and take some responsibliity. For the last 2 weeks from Manny's point of view everyone else has been the problem, Lastings, Dukes, the entire bull pen. Fair enough, but who runs the club? Just once, I want to hear Manny say "I made the wrong call."

Look at it this way, Manny was calling the Mock and Hanrahan pitches last night from the dugout -- or, though I think not, Flores was doinjg so himself, niether Mock nor Hanrahan shook him off once. So, either Flores is to blame for calling hook after hook and slider after slider with a big lead as his pitchers fell behind in counts, or Manny is. Either way, Manny is the guy who is responsible. He runs the club!

He needs to go -- there is no reason to keep him and many reasons not to do so. If they don't win the series in Philly, he won't last until Thursday night.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 28, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

506 is Voice-of-reason-tacular!

Thank you sir for making me laugh and for sliding in the 'playing people out of position' jab. It's getting our of hand. Although I would like to see Milledge at catcher. Think how we could bash him then.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 28, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

My out-of-position suggestion: Dunn at short. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 28, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

CiL, this summarizes my annoyance, posted by cheeseburger: "Even if much of this venting in these comments are either rash or silly."

I would modify to repetitively rash or repetitively silly, because everyone's allowed to blow a gasket sometimes. Just like you feel obligated to hone in on the Post or the team when you see them doing something nonsensical, I don't see why fans should just get to say anything they want, whether it has any basis in fact or not.

You want to discuss the team's shortcomings, let's do it. But let's do it based on something. If only there were a website to evaluate how a team was doing based on some sort of quantitative measurement....

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

A thought on the bullpen... it's obvious the Hanrahan is not the answer. How about bringing up a starter from the minors and putting DCab at the back end of the bullpen? (stop laughing - I can hear you!) If he can get his heat back up to the high 90's, that might work. You might not use him in a bases loaded save situation, but otherwise...

Posted by: 1of9000 | April 28, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

>Perfect Timing here... I always here at this catcher or that catcher "calls a great game" - yet when the pitcher blows a save - now he's throwing too many sliders.

So, which is it? I don't recall Hanrahanahan shaking off Flores. So, the question is, with a guy with mid-90s heat, why isn't Flores calling for the #1?

The coaches call the game. That's why the catcher looks over at the dugout before every pitch. The catcher does not call the game. Pitchers rarely shake off catchers because they're not allowed to think. It's the modern approach.

Posted by: Brue | April 28, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I think Kip Wells would be a good candidate for closer at this time and forget about Joel Hystericalhan

Posted by: nickgoldblatt | April 28, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

(3) Some may think I am crazy but i have a good feeling about this team.

Posted by: mjames0 | April 28, 2009 10:54 AM |
_______________________________________________________

I agree with you mjames0. I continue to feel like our boys could turn the corner at any time. I realize I may be crazy, but that's just how I feel about these guys.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 28, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

MANNY needs to be fired!!!! Poor decisions again. why so many pitching changes? the chess game is not working Acta!!!

Posted by: KGG769 | April 28, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

OK, so - if the coaches are calling every pitch - then why aren't we and the press all over Manny and St. Randy for their pitch selection?

Especially for calling slider after slider when it was obvious to everyone on the eastern seaboard that Hanrahanahan was having trouble placing it....

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

To be fair to Acta, Hanrahan was not his first choice at Closer. He wanted Milledge in there from the start -- but he decided to ease Lastings into the role, you know after the kid quickly scaled the lead-off and everyday CF mountains. Like by mid May maybe. ;-)

They will turn the corner and be respectable, this is a fun team to watch, but Acta will not be around to see that happen. He is toast. Whether you want him to saty or go, there is no objective reason to keep him and there are many objective and subjective reasons for him to go. Such is life as a MLB manager.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 28, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Hang in there 506, we need your voice of reason approach in here.

I mean, if you lose it, the inmates may just start running the asylum.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 28, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

And to tboss -

Here's what I hold Manny accountable for - he is responsible for not having the team mentally prepared to fight every night.

How does he go into Citifield and not have a long fielding practice? It's a new park. No one has played there. No one knows how the grass plays. How the ball carries - or what it looks like coming out off the stands behind home plate, the fielders aren't used to the angles and the tight foul territory. And yet, the team leading MLB in errors made comes out and plays without fielding practice.

That's Manny yielding to the players. Someone has to be the adult there. It has to be Manny, but it doesn't seem like it is.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

The sad thing is that I'm a stark, raving lunatic. There, I just drooled on my keyboard.

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"The coaches call the game. That's why the catcher looks over at the dugout before every pitch. The catcher does not call the game"

What do you think the sign is for "bounce this one five feet in front of the plate, Joel"?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 28, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I stepped outside today, lo and behold, the sun IS shining.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 28, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"What do you think the sign is for 'bounce this one five feet in front of the plate, Joel'?"

I know what MY hand signal for that is...

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I've had the same feelings, mjames and usmc. Wait, let me just wipe off my keyboard...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 28, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

"* No, in their conversations with free agent pitcher Pedro Martinez, the Nationals have not discussed the possibility of a closer's role."

We are talking to Pedro? Did I miss something? How much is he asking? How much are Lerners willing to pay? Why can't he be a closer? Look at Eckersly, Smotz...etc.etc.
Wow, Chico, Wow!

Posted by: dorseylaw | April 28, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"He could have brought in a lefty to face Utley and Howard, but he elected not to do so."

Um, no. He had already used Hinckley in the 6th (to face Utley and Howard) and they have no more lefties in the bullpen.

"MANNY needs to be fired!!!! Poor decisions again. why so many pitching changes? the chess game is not working Acta!!!"

Um, what were the poor decisions? Did you want Martis to stay out there after giving up 7 ER? Did you want Mock to finish the 8th?

Beimel going on the DL has had a devastating effect on this bullpen.
Mock may be a better than average reliever/closer, but he's not there yet.
Same with Hanrahan.
Bergmann ... one day he's frickin' great and the next he's looking like he belongs in Little League.
Saul Rivera? Hey, he's been pretty darned good for this club the past few seasons and had a very good Spring. Who'd thunk he'd implode like that?
A month or so ago, the majority of us were bemoaning the signing of another retread in Kip Wells and Julian Tavares. And now you all want either one to be the closer?

I, for one, am optimistic about this ballclub. The offense, for the most part, is hitting the snot out of the ball. The starting pitching, while not excellent, has been better than we expected (so far). The bullpen has been the most inconsistent part and I think this will be better sooner rather than later. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Posted by: erocks33 | April 28, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

speaking of milledge, from ESPN's "out of the box" daily fantasy BB article:

It's nice to see talented Lastings Milledge starting to hit at Triple-A Syracuse. With a single and a double at Buffalo on Monday, Milledge has multihit outings in three of his past four games. He isn't hitting for power in the minors, but he's at .286 in nine games, with four stolen bases. If he shows the proper attitude, he should be back with the Nationals before the All-Star break.

Posted by: sec231 | April 28, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

But it really is time to fire Manny. He does not inspire his team to compete to the best of their ability. He sets low expectations and his team consistently fails to acheive them. He may be a great manager some day, but not here, not now. He was dealt a tough hand but that's baseball. Game over.

Posted by: trublusailor | April 28, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

18 games into the season (1/9th) and the Nats are 4-14. Worst team in baseball. I thought I'd look to see how the Nats have fared in each of the first 18 games since they've arrived to DC:

Year ... W-L ... Exp. W-L ... RS/RA ... +/- diff

2009 ... 4-14 .... 7-11 .... 85/107 ... -22
2008 ... 5-13 .... 6-12 .... 66/94 .... -28
2007 ... 6-12 .... 5-13 .... 56/95 .... -39
2006 ... 7-11 .... 8-10 .... 88/98 .... -10
2005 ... 9-9 ...... 7-11 .... 73/91 .... -18

So the actual win total is trending down while the expected win total is trending up. The runs scored is the most since the Soriano season but the runs against are the most in the 5 years here.

What does this tell me? I have absolutely no idea.

Posted by: erocks33 | April 28, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Just a question for the "It's Never Manny's Fault/How Can This Be Manny's Fault" guys on here.

At what point (ie how many games under .500, how many blown leads/boneheaded moves) do you start to change your mind? I realize the bullpen is trash, but there is a limit, even for a perennially losing organization. I mean this unconditional support can't be eternal right?

Posted by: RickFelt | April 28, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

As for the cop out of Hanrahan's slider not working b/c he didn't have enough time to warm up I say thats a load of crap. Joel's slider hasn't worked at ALL this season regardless of the appearence. He just doesn't have that pitch anymore. I think we have a serious problem with him and he needs to get moved out of the 8th-9th inning role ASAP.

Right now I guess i'd go with Wells until Beimel is back but thats not a great option. I think its sad that we finally have a great offense and we can't put any wins in the books.

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 28, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"CiL, this summarizes my annoyance, posted by cheeseburger: 'Even if much of this venting in these comments are either rash or silly.'

"I would modify to repetitively rash or repetitively silly, because everyone's allowed to blow a gasket sometimes. Just like you feel obligated to hone in on the Post or the team when you see them doing something nonsensical, I don't see why fans should just get to say anything they want, whether it has any basis in fact or not."

Fine, so address the comments. I don't see what mocking other posters, even collectively, adds to the discussion though.

"You want to discuss the team's shortcomings, let's do it. But let's do it based on something. If only there were a website to evaluate how a team was doing based on some sort of quantitative measurement...."

Here are some links to a website that provides an evaluation of how the team is doing based on quantitative measurements:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/standings?type=reg&br=9&year=2009&order=false&st=2

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/standings?year=2008&type=reg&br=9&column=gamesBehind&order=false&st=2

As to the discussion of the team's shortcomings, it seems to me that's what many people are doing here.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 28, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"The bullpen has been the most inconsistent part"

Defense has hurt this team ALOT, probably helped make the pitchers, starting and bullpen, look worse than they are alot of times, and for that yes you hold the manager accountable, they do not look prepared for even popups, ala the 6th inning last night.

Posted by: skippy1999 | April 28, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Top Ten Reasons for Mostly Optimism. Sort Of.

1. Lenny Harris no mo’.
2. Lastings is getting his average up. Trade him! For pitching. “Kenny Williams and his staff are searching for help. It would be like Williams to gamble on a project like Lastings Milledge, recently demoted by Washington.” Yay.
3. Anyone see Steven Shell being interviewed? The guy was a complete wuss. More of a wuss than nunof1. Sickening. "I just didn't like the way he was performing. I didn't like the mindset on the mound, off the mound and the preparation for the game and just the whole aura behind him on the mound." Hanrahan? Same deal. He has cooked himself. Thank you. Oh and BTW, Joel is a wimpy name. But Joe is not.
4. Our pitchers can bunt (mostly). And a drag bunt by AH!
5. Jacoby Ellsbury stole home, straight steal (not Nats, but really exciting).
6. We don’t hit no cheap HRs?
7. ZimN is getting pitches to hit. Contract helped his psyche? He smiled.
8. We got starting pitching. We got Joe Beimel.
9. The more Tavarez pitches, the better the movement on his pitches. Use him for longer stints. Duh.
10. Scott Olsen v. Phillies. Expect fireworks! Maglie pitch, and Chase Utley chases BoBo around the mound; the limp wrister ends up injured. Stammen comes up, goes 2-0, with a no-hitter.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 28, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Interesting, erocks. It tells me that they are, in fact, the best team since baseball returned, as Manny keeps saying, but also that they have significantly underperformed. No kidding, huh?

Here are possible reasons why:

1. The manager is making poor calls
2. Somehow, the parts are less than the whole. The individual success of a few individuals is covering the deep faults of a few others. This is highly unlikely, but possible.
3. The team hasn't learned to work together and the miscommunication is leading to missed opportunities.
4. Some of the pitchers have some significant mental weakness that is coming out in situations when most pitchers would be expected to not give up the lead.

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Brue -

I don't think Manny calls the game like you suggest. I think it works that way in the amateurs, but I really doubt that's how it works in MLB - besides, nothing in Hanrahan's quote above seems to suggest that Manny told him to call sliders.

Moreover, if Manny called every pitch, why would Flores be so routinely complimented by Nats coaches (who ostensibly know who calls the game) for his "game-calling" ability and his adherence to the pre-game "pitching plan"? Do you think they compliment him because when Manny calls for a fastball, he puts one finger between his knees? I think Flores may be glancing over to see IF the bench (could be Manny, could be St, could be Riggleman) wants to make a specific call in a specific spot, but I think, by-and-large, that it's a pitcher-catcher decision. It's not like calling plays in the NFL, where the call comes in from the sideline every play.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 28, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I know you can't blame Manny for the errors, the mangled at bats, and the pitches left out over the plate, but on some level he is held accountable. I don't think he should be fired, but I cringe with every ugly play, every ugly loss, because I know it brings us closer to making a change for change sake.

Posted by: 1of9000 | April 28, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

One more possibility on your list, 506. Small sample size. I know the dedicated posters here live and die with each Nats game, and I love the NJ for that, but it really is really, really early.

Posted by: Section220 | April 28, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Fire Acta, Sign Bobby V.

Posted by: NATSFAN10 | April 28, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Alright RickFelt I'll bite.

I would say if this team is still not performing well by the all-star break then it may be time to untie "The Manny" from the dock and let it drift.

I think this team has a hot streak in them soon, so, I don't think it will come to that. And I'm still sticking to my prediction of at least 70 wins.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 28, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"At what point (ie how many games under .500, how many blown leads/boneheaded moves) do you start to change your mind? I realize the bullpen is trash, but there is a limit, even for a perennially losing organization. I mean this unconditional support can't be eternal right?"

What would be the point of firing Manny during the season? No real manager is going to take the job now, so you'd get an interim manager who will just end up being fired after the season to bring in the real guy. Maybe you get a boost out of the pure schock value of firing the manager, but that will be short-lived. The inherent problems with this team are not going to go away just because Manny Acta does.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 28, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

CiL, I'm terribly disappointed by your submission. I expect a lot of good baseball knowledge from you, based on our conversations in the past. Instead you submit a W-L record, without elaboration, which says to me "I really only care if they win or lose, and will adjust my comments accordingly." I've always figured you for one who recognized that winning or losing doesn't just happen, but requires identifying problems and solving them.

And yet now you seem to be advocating yelling is all that is needed to fix things. When all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail?

Here's another attempt at a discussion: What are three and only three things you would propose to fix the club and why? Make an effort to persuade someone, don't just rant.

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

It's not my fault! I've got mine! I didn't want that! They didn't do it! As long as they don't bother me!

A boat load of excuses seem to exonerate poor perfomance, hey thats the norm in this town.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | April 28, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

"One more possibility on your list, 506. Small sample size. I know the dedicated posters here live and die with each Nats game, and I love the NJ for that, but it really is really, really early."

That is very true, but since the other comparisons were of similar size, it is worth treating as the whole population, to see if maybe we can learn anything from it.

But you're right, statistically speaking we could have gotten one or two games based on pure flukes. I'm thinking in particular of the missed (un)checked swing call the other night that could have changed everything.

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Kasten/Lerners are always telling us to believe in THE PLAN...all those talented youngsters will be here soon to save the day!

The Nats AA Harrisburg team is 2-13, a winning percentage of .133 and they are already 10 games out of first. Check out their website and look at the pitchers! No help there either.

Posted by: HistoryBoy | April 28, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

You people are amazing. If Manny leaves Martis in and he gets killed you would slam the decision, he takes him out you slam the decision. If he takes Hanrahan out after the walks do you think Saul saves the day? Then you would slam Manny for that decision. The fact is the Bullpen SUCKS, period. It doesn't matter who comes in except Biemel or maybe Wells that gives him higher odds of winning. How about something positive like we are killing the ball right now. At the beginning of the season Peter Gammons said the Nats would lose a lot of games 13-12 and guess what he is right.

Posted by: sec218 | April 28, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

nunof1...

The point to firing the manager would be to find a manager that can win more games than the current manager. To find a manager that can get more out of the current group of players. To show the fans that starting out 4-13 after losing 102 games is not acceptable to the ownership group.

Is that enough reasons?

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"That is very true, but since the other comparisons were of similar size, it is worth treating as the whole population, to see if maybe we can learn anything from it."

I see your point, 506. And, by the way, I commend your erstwhile efforts (against considerable opposition) to maintain perspective.

And, man, that checked swing debacle still makes me mad!

I just wanted to remind some of the fellow NJers that it's still too early to draw any firm conclusions about this team. I think when the season is a little older and the Nats have had at least one hot streak, we'll all have a little better idea where we are. I mean, I look at the standings right now, and I don't think any of them will be the final standings at the end of the season.

Posted by: Section220 | April 28, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"It doesn't matter who comes in except Biemel or maybe Wells that gives him higher odds of winning. "

Don't forget that nobody else signed these two...

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Chico, clear this up -- is Manny calling bad pitches or is it Flores? Does it matter?

Listen, Manny is the guy who gets credit for wins and gets blame for losses, as it should be -- this is his ship to captain. He has been given ample chance to show that he has it together, but he has failed. Last year's club was lazy, there was poor fielding, poor base running, bad decisions all over the place, and but for Willie Harris no one really played beyond expectations -- sure, the talent level and injuries were huge, but the club played badly more often than it should have. I paid to see it.

Out of the box this year, they stink again for a whole bunch of reasons - but the constant factor remaining is Acta (Bowden is gone, Lopez and LoDuca, Odalis etc., are gone, all the old coaches are gone, better talent and depth is in -- yet the poor play and bad results continue unabated). Acta just is not the right guy for this job. He needs to go. The Nats hvae recently been very harsh with underperforming players, it is time for Acta to pay the price.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 28, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"The point to firing the manager would be to find a manager that can win more games than the current manager. To find a manager that can get more out of the current group of players. To show the fans that starting out 4-13 after losing 102 games is not acceptable to the ownership group.

Is that enough reasons?"

But the interim manager they hire now to coax 5 or 10 additional wins out of this team is still going to have to be fired at the end of this season, right?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 28, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

And, while I'm drinking the bright side kool-aid, let's all remember that, bearing in mind how early it is, it looks like both Zimmerman and Dukes may be on their way to having breakout seasons, and J. Zimmermann looks to be living up to expectations that he could be at least a #3 on a very good team, or possibly a #2. Me likey some of the kids.

Posted by: Section220 | April 28, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"is Manny calling bad pitches or is it Flores? Does it matter?"

When the pitch bounces five feet in front of the plate or is three feet outside, it doesn't matter who called it or what pitch they called.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 28, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Fire the interim manager... don't know. It depends on who it is. If Jim Riggleman steps in, fires up the players - gets them better prepared and sorts out the bullpen, why can't he keep the job permanently?

Or, maybe Rizzo brings in his own guy - on an interim basis - from outside the organization. Why couldn't that guy keep the gig?

Either way, if firing Manny results in 5-10 more wins - I'm all for it. Explain to me why the 5 wins are not important to you?

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

If you know your reliever bounces the slider in the dirt 50% of the time, do you have him throw it 4 times in a row and then blame him for not thrwoing the fastball?

Posted by: dfh21 | April 28, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"Or, maybe Rizzo brings in his own guy - on an interim basis - from outside the organization. Why couldn't that guy keep the gig?"

No one from outside the organization is going to take an interim manager job under an interim GM. No one you'd want, anyway.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 28, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I throw my hands up in defeat! Manny must stay! These mounting losses are but details and such, AND he has such a nice smile. I bet he looves animals and that he paints watercolor rainbows in his office. The members of the extended Acta family in here irrationally defending Manny to every end but for one that has a footing have beaten me into submission -- or at least into actually working. Go Nats!!

Posted by: dfh21 | April 28, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

"Somehow, the parts are less than the whole."

This is what I've been thinking. We have more parts, and better parts, but they don't fit together in a way that makes the team better.

Put another way, the flaws (bullpen, defense, fundamentals) have outweighed the new strengths (promising young starters, additional offense).

This is supported by the numbers: In 2008, this team scored an average of 3.98 runs per game (and it felt like less than that). So far this year, we're almost a full run better at 4.72 runs per game. But we've given almost all of that back on defense and in the pen: last year teams scored an average of 5.12 runs per game against us, this year to date, 5.94.

Posted by: BobLHead | April 28, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for a good Manny defense - I just haven't seen one. I'd love to see a convincing argument for keeping him.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

comish4lif: so, you're advocating firing manny because he didn't hold a fielding practice? These are major leaguers; if they don't know how to field ground balls on professional installed grass by now, then they should be cut. They've been playing baseball for near 20 years; they should know the basics. I'm always amazed when i hear about major league managers doing rudimentary coaching. (Oh, and if you're talking about the outfield or the wind patterns ... well what is batting practice for?)

I'll ask again: How do you fire a manager when the construction of the roster is so blatantly awful? That's a GM job. Do you really think there's some uber-manager available who can magically turn one of our 8 corner outfielders into a competent CF, or one of our 15 has-been AAAA/6 year minor league free agent arms into a dominant closer??

For as much anti-Acta vitriol that is spewed here, there's competing evidence from long-respected Baseball writers like Ken Rosenthal and Verducci who support Acta and don't question his decision making.

Posted by: tboss | April 28, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Randy St. Claire needs to catch the next train otta here. Has anyone mentioned the pitching coach?

Posted by: richs91 | April 28, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

nunof - enough with the blankets statements like "No one from outside the organization is going to take an interim manager job under an interim GM. No one you'd want, anyway."

Are you sure - do you personally know any MLB managerial candidates that wouldn't take the job? There's lots of guys that would love to get the MLB manager gig - just to get the foot in the door - and get the name recognition. Imagine what it would look like on someone's resume to get this team to play .500 ball the rest of the way - interim GM or not. People want the big job. And no, I don't know any MLB candidates personally, but I'd take the gig and do a better job with than Manny.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I think that the Manny defense is this: It's like firing a doctor, because he was asked to treat a patient with terminal cancer and couldn't do it.

In my own opinion, the manager takes the blame and gets the credit (Charlie Manuel for MOTY!), whether for better or for worse. Manny knows this and if the Nats want to make a statement, he knows who gets can.

He also knows he will get another job and do very well.

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"Fire Acta, Sign Bobby V."

I didn't know Bobby Vinton could manage a ball club.

Posted by: MikeH0714 | April 28, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I think that mjames0 summarized my feelings on this team, especially the first point. This is a better team than we have seen here, except for maybe the magical part of the first year. These losses are so hard to take because the Nats are playing well enough in certain areas to be winning them. Last year, they went through such god-awful stretches that the game was over for all intent and purposes by the third inning. If they were losing 8-1 by the seventh inning, would any of us care that the bullpen sucks?

Here is another way to make the same point. They are coming close to where just a few FA signings would make a big difference. What if you added a healthy Sheets or Lackey, plus two Beimel type relievers ($15m or so in added payroll), plus Strasburg to this exact lineup? That is a competitive team.

As for Acta - I think that he should stay, at least for now. I am not the biggest Manny fan, but this team has suffered some hugely disappointing losses, from ridiculous errors to these bullpen meltdowns, yet they have played hard every night. I think that is the first thing a manager is responsible for. Sure, he should be banned by the Lerners from ever pinch hitting Alex Cintron if Willingham, Kearns, Johnson or Belliard is still on the bench, and I worry that he isn't willing to be tough enough on the players when he needs to be. But as long as the team keeps playing hard, he hasn't lost them so I would keep him.

The guy that should take some more heat here is Rizzo. I don't fault him for going with mostly unproven starters. Mediocre SP is so expensive on the market that it often doesn't make sense. But if you are going to do that, you need to help them by getting an excellent bullpen to pick them up and a solid defense so that they don't become gunshy to throw the ball over the plate. And what do we have? Second most errors in the league with a AA bullpen. It is a GM's responsibility to plan better than that.

Posted by: Willy2 | April 28, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

"For as much anti-Acta vitriol that is spewed here, there's competing evidence from long-respected Baseball writers like Ken Rosenthal and Verducci who support Acta and don't question his decision making."

Quote from Rosenthal's article today -

"Still, the Nats' fundamental play is dismal, and scouts routinely question Acta's decision-making. Acta blundered when he failed to penalize outfielder Lastings Milledge for showing up late on Opening Day."

Posted by: RickFelt | April 28, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I actually only have one suggestion to improve the team:

Announce that you will not have a closer for a two-week trial period. Make clear that this is not a demotion for Joel Hanrahan because he has great stuff that you believe in, you just want to allow him to work out some things without sending him to AAA, so you are changing his role.

Then you go on to say that from now on you will be closing based on the best match ups, as determined by statistics. This will take the spotlight off the rest of the bullpen, as well as give everyone in it a boost of confidence, since you'll be sending them out "based on statistics," not anything else and they know they can do this.

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Willy2 - Ben Sheets isn't healthy - so, how could we/anyone sign a healthy Ben Sheets.

And if you were going to sign 2 relievers, who should it have been?

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

the fact of the matter is this:

Based on sheer talent, this is easily the best team we've had since 2005. probably even better than the 2005 team.

yet they are 4-14 and the laughingstock of baseball right now.

there is absolutely no reason, even with our bullpen, that this team should be 4-14 and the laughingstock of baseball.

that falls on Manny, and you can make all the excuses you want to exonerate him, but it is his job to get the most out of the talent available to him. He is not doing that.

You can lay everything at the feet of the bullpen, but it is Manny's job to put his pitchers in a position to execute and succeed. He has not done that on numerous occasions. His lack of ability to properly manage a bullpen, and his stubbornness has put our bullpen in a position to fail multiple times already this season.

You can say "who could win with this bullpen?" and just write it off like that if you like. I won't. it's a cheap cop-out.

Manny needs to use what he has better. and Rizzo needs to find better for Manny to use.

and that means not running Hanrahan out there in pressure situations when he melts EVERY SINGLE TIME.

that means using Mock in long relief, and not in a "set-up" type role.

that means using Tavarez for more than just mop-up/extra inning duty.

that means using Hinckley against left-handers and not against switch-hitters (I'm looking at you, Home Opener).

that means not throwing rivera against 4 consecutive left-handed batters(hi Home Opener, still looking at you)

that means calling up Tyler Clippard.

that means using Beimel as a closer when he comes back, or finding a more adequate solution that Joel Hanrahan, who CLEARLY cannot handle it.

that means NOT RELEASING STEVEN SHELL FOR NO REASON WHEN YOU COULD HAVE DEMOTED HANRAHAN.

that means not sending Mock and Co. to AAA in favor of Wil Ledezma.

and more.

bottom line, when your team had the talent to succeed, as this one does, failure falls on the heads of Management for not getting the most out of their talent.

EVEN WITH THIS BULLPEN, THE TEAM SHOULD NOT BE THIS BAD. that is Epic Fail for Manny, Rizzo, and Stan. They need to stop making excuses and fix it.

you say "who could win with this bullpen?"

I say "Let's find out."

Posted by: MrMadison | April 28, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

oh, and Manny doesn't call the pitches. Randy St. Claire does.

Posted by: MrMadison | April 28, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"Are you sure - do you personally know any MLB managerial candidates that wouldn't take the job? There's lots of guys that would love to get the MLB manager gig - just to get the foot in the door - and get the name recognition."

Sounds like you're advocating replacing Acta with another Acta type. Is that really what you think this org needs, or do they need to go in a different direction with the manager? Either way, whoever they'd hire now would have to know his job was only as secure as that of the guy who hired him - who happens to be an acting, thereby interim, GM. Do you want an interim GM AND an interim manager? What's to be gained by that, aside from maybe a couple extra wins before one or both of them gets canned?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 28, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

506, at some point it does come down to wins and losses. I think we have reached that point. You can talk all you want about the Plan and the "2008a Nationals" and stuff like that like you did last year as basis for supposed optimism, but at the end of the day, the team needs to start winning and at least turning the corner, and that isn't happening. Things are grim from almost every perspective.

For every step forward, there are at least 2 steps back. That doesn't mean I'm not enthusiastic about aspects of the Nats (hell, I waited and then sat in the rain for over 4 hours last Monday night to watch Zimmermann pitch) even amidst all the losing, or that I don't understand how much work building a winning team entails. And no, I'm not advocating that yelling necessarily solves things (and personally I haven't been doing much yelling). But I do think there is a place for fans to yell even if it doesn't "solve" anything. (And do we fans have the ability to solve anything anyway?)Here with the Nats I think that the yelling is well-deserved, and that people are entitled to yell without being mocked.

As for your challenge, I will think about it. I don't really think that the "club," meaning the big league team, can be fixed this year, however. I think the changes that need to be made are fundamental and organizational, and entail creating a new culture at every level of the organization. That probably entails major off-season changes. I would fire Acta pretty soon though, even if the results this year wouldn't improve, as it is apparent to me that he has lost the team, and that is not a good environment for our young players to develop in.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 28, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

oh, and Manny doesn't call the pitches. Randy St. Claire does.

Posted by: MrMadison | April 28, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Do I want an interim GM and an interim Manager? Sure. Why not? Again if it gains a couple of extra wins - I'm all for it. Let's have open tryouts - bring in a new manager every week until you find one willing to get the team with the most errors out on the field before every game until play on the field is improved. We've got a young team - a few guys who don't have a lot of time in the minors - get them out there every day doing the drills that they need to do to be prepared for every situation. Instead - the Nats (and their manager) seem to have the attitude that once you get an MLB paycheck, you'll play like a major leaguer.

Nunof1, what do you have against winning a few more games - or am I misreading your posts? Do you want the team to play better?

BTW - Nice post MrMadison. Couldn't agree more.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Good points, all around, CiL, I apologize for harsh words. I know you're excited about some aspects of this team, and I'm interested in what suggestions you might have.

I agree that there's not much that can be done about the bigs this year, other than my one recommendation... which amounts to little more than a psychological game. But I also don't think this team is as bad as it has been playing.

I would like to see Willingham and maybe Olsen flipped for prospects. And I'm intrigued at the idea of trying Cabrera as a reliever.

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking Willingham and Olsen would very much like that, too.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 28, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I don't know whether Manny's lost the team, but he seems to be losing the blog.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 28, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Hahaha, good point CEvans. Maybe some fans will also volunteer to be flipped for prospects.

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

didn't the Cubs try that? Or am I thinking of the guy who was selling his Cubs fanhood on ebay?

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 28, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I would happily dig out my old Giants stuff, time difference be durned, if it would get the Nats a closer at least as good as The Chief, v. 2005.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 28, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

WILLIE HARRIS FOR CLOSER! Let's give the closer job to a guy who has never failed to do the job the team needs -- Willie Harris! He's done everything else well.

Posted by: ZUGAY1 | April 28, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I think you have to lay the blame at the feet of the Lerner's. 2007 was a mirage that this team was heading somewhere, and I think ownership was listening to Jimbo too much and they stuck with him too long. Rizzo is trying to clean it up, but there is only so much he can do in such a short amount of time. Rizzo should get some credit for bringing in Taverez and Beimel. Manny was considered by many to be a manager of the year candidate in 2007, and now he's the worst ever?

I fault these people in this order:
Lerner's
Bowden
Kasten
Acta
Rizzo

But it's hard to get too upset at the Lerner's. Just because you are succesful in business doesn't mean you know how to run a franchise. I have no idea. But ultimately they are the ones suffering from all this. Us fans can just turn the TV off and not go to the games.

Posted by: psubman | April 28, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

The Cubs did try that in 1961 - the "College of Coaches" - they rotated 4 managers during the season. All 4 had lost more than they won.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Paging Mr. Applegate.
Mr. Applegate, to a red segway phone please.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 28, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Good one, CE.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 28, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Ok, stop the fire Manny now stuff. Manny is not responsible for the lousy bullpen, Bowden is. What is Manny supposed to do? Bowden insisted Hanrahan was ready to be closer, and Hanrahan is the closer. It’s certainly not set in concrete, but with a losing team, might as well try him out for it. And so far this trial period stinks.

Kip Wells does not have great stuff. And he is no closer. He doesn’t shut the door very often. He doesn’t overpower anyone. He’s been decent but Wells as the ultimate answer is laughable people. So stop the nonsense. Wells, with his mediocre stuff that moves is best suited for 6-7th innings; which is where Manny has him pitching. That’s called good managing people.

Biemel is injured. That by itself is killing the bullpen. But Biemel is no closer either. He is a good lefty reliever and a smart baseball decision by Rizzo. He is not the savior.

Tavares is a 37 year old pitcher who is coming to the end of his career. He’s also a 5th-6th inning guy, not closer stuff. Hey I love his heart, but nobody but 600lb J-Lo came calling this offseason, which should tell you something about his stuff.

Would I like Manny to keep his starters in longer? Yes, but he has orders not to overuse the good ones (mandatory innings limit) and he is concerned for their psyche. And it’s not like the Nats are going to won so there is no point in messing with a good pitchers head.

Posted by: you-dont | April 28, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"WILLIE HARRIS FOR CLOSER! Let's give the closer job to a guy who has never failed to do the job the team needs -- Willie Harris! He's done everything else well."

This is the best idea I have heard yet.

One week in the minors the whole bullpen got the flu and Willie Harris had to pitch in relief every day, allowing only one hit over seven innings. The catcher told the batter what was coming when Willie kept shaking off until he got the heat.

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Lerners. Plural, not possessive--no apostrophe.

A public service announcement from your friends at Unemployed Former Slotmen.org.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 28, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I meant the losing the blog post, but the intervening one was good, too.

Actually, I suspect that Acta's not lost all of the blog denizens, even if naysayers do seem to predominate lately.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 28, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"Kip Wells does not have great stuff."

He has 94-95 with a lot of movement. That's better stuff than everyone on the staff save Z-Mann. He should be getting a lot more burn than he is right now.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 28, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

>oh, and Manny doesn't call the pitches. Randy St. Claire does.

With Manny's approval. You need to pay attention. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

Posted by: Brue | April 28, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Acta must go. He is constantly making bad decisions. He pulls some starting pitchers too early and he leaves struggling pitchers in way too long.

Posted by: evangel7 | April 28, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

"Nothing happens in a vacuum."

Oh man, speaking of hanging sliders...

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Their is no approval process when the pitching coach calls pitches.

Posted by: JDB1 | April 28, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

The short answer as to why I wouldn't fire Manny is that I object in general to scapegoat mentality.

We're losing because relievers aren't relieving, closers aren't closing, and fielders aren't fielding.

I just don't believe, for example, that Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn failed to catch fly balls last night because Manny hasn't properly motivated them. Ditto for Mock and Hanrahan blowing up.

And I don't buy this vague argument that somehow there's a culture that Manny has, ummm, cultivated, that leads to infielders being unable to make simple throws to bases. They're major league players. If they need more practice to throw properly, they should get out on the practice field and throw without be nannied (Mannied?) into it.

Manny's had about a tenth of a season with a reasonably talented club (and that's being VERY generous given the state of the pitching staff). That's just way too soon to be talking about firing someone.

Posted by: joebleux | April 28, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, who does Manny Acta remind you of, as a manager? Slow fuse, not really a players-buddy manager but not a real disciplinarian, either. Starting to get testy as the losses mount. Throwing the odd player under the bus in the press now and then. Dicey decisions in-game.
Think about it. I have some guesses but I don't want to ask leading questions.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 28, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

The Lerners are NOT the ones suffering. They made $42 million in operating income on the Nats in 2008, second highest in MLB according to a recent Forbes Magazine article. Yet they were 5th from the bottom in team payroll in 2008. They are crying all the way to the bank.

Posted by: HistoryBoy | April 28, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

"Nothing happens in a vacuum."

Isn't that pretty much the definition of "vaccum"?

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 28, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

It is not rocket science. What closer needs to do with a three run lead is throw strikes. What a closer needs to do with a two run lead is throw strikes. What a closer needs to do with a one run lead is throw strikes. Get it?

I don't care to do it but if someone wants to go back over the late inning lead losses of this team the main problem is that Acta has the person least capable of throwing strikes on the mound. Why is Beimel so successfull? He keeps the ball near the strike zone, near enough so that hitters will swing at close pitches. He is not hanging sliders over the plate and he does not constantly find himself in 3-0 or 3-1 counts.

Home run balls will inevitably happen, even to the best relievers. But a reliever who walks two batters and then serves a homerun ball should be in another line of work, period. The number one priority of this bullpen should be to throw strikes and to never, never walk a batter. Make the opposition win by stringing together base hit after base hit, there is probably a 70% chance that the hitter will fail to do so. A relief pitcher who has "stuff" but can not throw three pitches over for strikes will fail every time.

Posted by: driley | April 28, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

"Nunof1, what do you have against winning a few more games - or am I misreading your posts? Do you want the team to play better?"

I'm not of the opinion that bring in a new manager is going to make them play any better for any extended period of time. Ultimately the guys that are here are going to play better or they're not, and if they don't they're going to be replaced. That can happen under Manny or under a different manager. If Manny can win N games while figuring out who stays and who goes, and a new guy can win N+5 games doing that, what's really the difference there? It's just as likely that the new guy would win N-5 games doing it. It's going to take the rest of this season to figure out who's worth keeping on this team. Once that's sorted out, then you worry about who's managing them.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 28, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

or vacuum, for that matter

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 28, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Here's the culture that I am concerned about.

The culture that the worst fielding team (most errors) in MLB doesn't take fielding practice - that leads to outfielders who cannot find the ball in a visiting stadium.

You are right - it's not motivation, it's complacency on Manny's part. Doesn't he want this team to play better fundamentals? Yes? Then they need to be out there practicing. Apparently Spring Training wasn't long enough.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

"the main problem is that Acta has the person least capable of throwing strikes on the mound."
To be fair, that would Cabrera.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 28, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Remember when we had a closer who threw nothing but strikes? The Mets radio team called the Chief "incredibly courageous." He didn't have overpowering stuff, but he threw strikes.

Posted by: flynnie1 | April 28, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Send many down to AA

Posted by: evangel7 | April 28, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Send Manny down to AA

Posted by: evangel7 | April 28, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"the main problem is that Acta has the person least capable of throwing strikes on the mound."
To be fair, that would Cabrera.

Posted by: CEvansJr

It would be a face-off between Cabrera, Hanrahan and Rivera. At least Cabrera can not lose it for us in the late innings.

Posted by: driley | April 28, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

"The culture that the worst fielding team (most errors) in MLB doesn't take fielding practice "

See, this is the sort of thing that pisses me off. The Nationals are not the worst fielding team in MLB, the St. Louis Cardinals are.

And there's a huge difference between 19 E for the Nats and 20 for the Cards.

The difference is that it makes the statement that the Nats have the most errors in the majors factually incorrect.

Also, can someone find out if the Cardinals take fielding practice? They're first place.

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

JoeBleux: How can it be scapegoat mentality when Acta is the person with ultimate responsibility for the team's play? Acta has just not gotten it done in any facet of the job. He cannot be the scapegoat.

CEvans: Wille Randolf is your answer.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 28, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

>What is Manny supposed to do? Bowden insisted Hanrahan was ready to be closer, and Hanrahan is the closer. It’s certainly not set in concrete, but with a losing team, might as well try him out for it. And so far this trial period stinks.

I thought the whole notion of a closer was overrated as far as Moneyball was concerned. I mean, if you 'matchup' with the rest of the bullpen, how come you don't do it with the closer? Shouldn't you 'match up' with them? The whole thing is ignorant, really, the closer goes in there regardless of who's coming to bat. Sort of defeats all the research that goes into matchups. Keep running Hanrahan and his second-best pitch (slider) out there Manny!! You rocket-scientist badboy!!!

Posted by: Brue | April 28, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I think that - very soon in fact - that glut of outfielders (and I hope that translates into Lastings Milledge) gets traded for some real bullpen help.

A healthy Beimel, Mike Hinckley, a closer and and one other good reliever and this is a + .500 team from that point on.

Posted by: rushfari | April 28, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Can we hire Bill Cowher - just to see him come out to the mound after someone has surrendered a grand slam or after someone has walked in the winning run.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

COmish4lif is right on the Citi Field no feilding practice point -- just stupid not to have run them out tere to figure the angles and the feel of the field. Not sure it would have made a difference in the games, but it was the smart and obivous thing to do, but the Nats elected not to. bad idea jeans

Posted by: dfh21 | April 28, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Lerners. Plural, not possessive--no apostrophe.

A public service announcement from your friends at Unemployed Former Slotmen.org.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 28, 2009 2:12 PM


CE, thanks so much - the one thing that makes my skin crawl in reading this blog is the undue fondness for apostrophes. Also, folks, if you do want to talk about something the Lerners collectively possess, use s apostrophe, as in "Lerners' money".

(My third grade teacher also thanks you.)

Posted by: Traveler8 | April 28, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Skipped through all of the backwash from last night's result / comments to offer a couple of opinions - forgive me if they're repetitive, redundant or show too much 20-20 hindsight.

1- 6th inning: Manny allows Martis to hit for himself, after surrendering a game-tying Grand-Slam, then start the bottom of the 6th. Martis was at 83 pitches & probably facing a pair of RH, so why then pull him after the 5-pitch walk to Marson?

2- 6th inning: Tavarez in for Martis, none out, man on 1st. Tavarez goes double(Feliz-RH), double(Rollins-SH,RBI), GO(Victorino-SH) - tie game (again), 1 out. This time Manny goes to the bullpen for Hinckley, to face Utley & Howard (both LH); Burned Tavarez, but it worked out well, as Hinckley gets a DP out of Howard to end the inning. Again, why bring Tavarez on for what amounts to one out?

3- Top of the 7th, tie game: Wells in - throws a 1-2-3 inning against RH-LH-RH batters. WAS goes on to score 4 runs & re-take the lead in the top of the 8th, but Manny pinch-hits for Wells w/2-out to end the inning. WHY? You let Martis hit in the 6th; why not let Wells hit in the 8th & start the next inning as well?

4- bottom of the 8th: Mock replaces Wells. You know the rest....

My point in repeating that litany is that Manny is continually over-managing his bullpen. If he'd have left well enough alone, Martis & Hinckley could have finished the 6th, Wells would have started the 8th, and Tavarez would have been available in the 9th. That might have won another game lost by playing for "matchups".

Posted by: BinM | April 28, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"JoeBleux: How can it be scapegoat mentality when Acta is the person with ultimate responsibility for the team's play? Acta has just not gotten it done in any facet of the job. He cannot be the scapegoat."

dfh21, you had me worried there for a minute -- I thought maybe I'd totally botched the usuage of the word "scapegoat". But then I looked it up, and, sure enough, that's exactly what I meant:

scapegoat ( ) n. One that is made to bear the blame of others.

Posted by: joebleux | April 28, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

506,

It is not just errors, how many singles, doubles, triples and inside the park home runs are due to bad fielding? How many easy double plays are missed? How many relay throws are not cut off by the right person? How many runners advance with uncontested steals? How many passed balls and wild pitches? How many rallies have been kept alive by sloppy defense? How many one run games have we played that have as a difference the misplayed ball?

A far easier question is how many games have we played that have not had at least one or more misplayed balls? I can think of none.

Posted by: driley | April 28, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

OK, so, the Cards passed the Nats in number of errors. I missed that - but hold onto your indignence.

The Cards have 20 errors in 20 games and a .975 fielding percentage.

The Nats have 19 errors in 18 games and a .972 fielding percentage.

So, fine. The Nats don't have the Most Errors in MLB. But they are averaging more than an error per game. More than the Cards. And the Nats have only 1 fewer error than the Cards - despite having played 2 fewer games.

How about this stat - the Philles (the frickin' Phillies) have 3 errors through 18 games! Three errors - not a typo. 3! We have 19!

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Manny is not the scapegoat - as manager he is responsible for the team. So, if the team fires him, it will be because he is ultimately the one to blame for the losses. He will not, however, be the scapegoat.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Kip Wells pitches 91-93mph not 94-96. Just cause you write it doesn't make it true and that goes for me too as mediocre is a bit harsh.... He has a slow delivery to the plate so base runners can steal on him.

But to the point of whether he is an awesome pitcher or not lets use statistics and look at Well's WHIP. In his 10 year career he has never had a WHIP below 1.25 (he averages 1.53 - i.e. he gives up 1.5 baserunners per inning). Moreover, he has had three seasons with a WHIP over 1.75. Hell, even this year his WHIP in the small sample size is 1.25.

Yeah there are reasons for everything but to think Kip is some dominant big time pitcher is somewhat delusional.....

Posted by: you-dont | April 28, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

JoeBleux: You got it right, but still got it wrong. "Scapegoat" is "a person or group bearing blame for others." So, you used is right when you placed the blame on the closers and the fielders, you were using them as scapegoats for Acta. The part that is wrong is you having a problem with the scapegoat mentality.

You might want to look up "manager" in the dictionary too, trust me, Acta's picture is not next to it.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 28, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

"Can we hire Bill Cowher - just to see him come out to the mound after someone has surrendered a grand slam or after someone has walked in the winning run."

Couldn't we get Tim Foli to do that? There are in fact 4 former big league managers that I can think of who are associated with the Nats and who could be tapped for an interim job for the rest of '09. Perhaps none of them are great, but do we think none of them could be a better fit for this job than Manny?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 28, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

"Kip Wells pitches 91-93mph not 94-96. Just cause you write it doesn't make it true and that goes for me too as mediocre is a bit harsh.... He has a slow delivery to the plate so base runners can steal on him."

Then the Citi Field gun is way juiced because the game I attended Friday night he was 94-96 throughout his appearance. I didn't say he was a dominant big time pitcher I said he has better stuff than most people on this staff. It's not that great of a compliment and obviously shouldn't be taken to suggest I think he's all star caliber. We have terrible talent top to bottom.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 28, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

"Nunof1, what do you have against winning a few more games - or am I misreading your posts? Do you want the team to play better?"

I'm not of the opinion that bring in a new manager is going to make them play any better for any extended period of time. Ultimately the guys that are here are going to play better or they're not, and if they don't they're going to be replaced. That can happen under Manny or under a different manager. If Manny can win N games while figuring out who stays and who goes, and a new guy can win N+5 games doing that, what's really the difference there? It's just as likely that the new guy would win N-5 games doing it. It's going to take the rest of this season to figure out who's worth keeping on this team. Once that's sorted out, then you worry about who's managing them.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 28, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

comish4lif

I meant next offseason, not this one. Guess that I should have said that. I was trying to show that I felt that the team is making progress, and that come next year, a FA or two (at the right position) could really help them turn the corner (so I assumed that those two got healthy this year, for discussion sake). As for relievers, I also meant it as a 2010 comment, but as I said in the last paragraph about Rizzo's construction of the roster, I think it should have happened this year too. In addition to Beimel, I would have added Cruz and Ohman this year. They were available right up to the end, for relatively low dollars.

Posted by: Willy2 | April 28, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

dfh21: if you really think that Manny is responsible for major league outfielders dropping fly balls, then I will concede that in your parallel universe, Manny should be fired.

Posted by: joebleux | April 28, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

CEvansJr - Manny reminds me of Norv Turner. Not sure that is who you are going for (obviously a different sport), but they both are bright guys who excelled in support coaching roles, and also philosophically have the attitude of 'these guys are grownups and don't need to be motivated or disciplined', which I think is wrong in most professional sports.

Posted by: Willy2 | April 28, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

BinM: "Again, why bring Tavarez on for what amounts to one out?"

Because if Tavares did his job right, he wouldn't have allowed Feliz and Rollins to get base hits and tie the game. If he did his job, Victorino would have made the last out (unless Feliz or Rollins hits into a double play) and Hinckley would have started the 7th.

Posted by: erocks33 | April 28, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Ha! It appears that we agree. I apologize and you are right, compared to the people on the staff, he has great stuff and should get more opportunities, all things being equal.

Problem is the Nats hav a bullpen with serviceable 5th through 7th inning guys - Biemel being the exception. So its kind of a damned if you do damned if you don't predicament. The guys Manny has at his dosposal are going to get hit late in games. And we've seen just that.

I wouldn't be surprised if Citi Field had a juiced radar gun. Or maybe Wells ate his Wheaties that day.

Posted by: you-dont | April 28, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Manny is somewhat responsible for fielders dropping flyballs. How?

Because Manny is the one who is not scheduling fielding practice - at road stadiums - for players that obviously need it.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

"It is not just errors, how many singles, doubles, triples and inside the park home runs are due to bad fielding? [etc.]"

That wasn't the point. The point was that a factually untrue statement was used as evidence for an argument.

The poster has since corrected it, and advanced another argument that there is a lazy culture, because 1) The Nats have one more error than games (and as, stated, average "more than one error a game" -- one and 1/18 per game, to be precise) and 2) the Phillies only have 3 errors.

To which, I would reply, the Cardinals have more errors than the Nats, exactly one per game (averaging 1/18 less) and are 14-6. The Phillies only have three errors and are 10-8.

To use an arbitrary ratio for the sake of developing a sense of proportion (hah!), the Cards have about 1.4 errors per win, the Phils have .3 errors per win. But the Cardinals are 3 games ahead of the Phillies, so the error ratio must not really be that big a deal.

The Nats have 4.75 errors per win. Ugh.

Posted by: Section506 | April 28, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

BinM, re. your numbers 3 & 4, perhaps the duration of the top half of the inning may have been in factor in pinch hitting for Wells.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 28, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

CE, could it be ... F-Robby?

Also, good to "see" Father Flynniegan here!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 28, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and in case it wasn't apparent, the 4 guys I was thinking about are Foli, Jim Riggleman, Bob Boone, and Ray Knight.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 28, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

"Because Manny is the one who is not scheduling fielding practice - at road stadiums - for players that obviously need it."

Did we ever find out one way or the other about the Nationals supposedly not taking infield at Citi Field prior to Friday's game? Because Dibble was the source for MASN saying they didn't, but he also admitted that he didn't get to the park until 4:00 himself so he didn't really know for sure. Has Chico or any other beat reporter ever looked into this? Seems like a simple question to Acta or anyone on the coaching staff would clear it up. "Did you guys take infield on Friday, or not?" How hard would it be for that to happen?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 28, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

506 - I give up.

The Nats are indeed a fine fielding team.

We see that everyday in the lost flyballs and the non-turned double plays and missed cut off men. Some of you guys are unbelievable.

Yes, an error per game or more is an invented statistic. And the Cards are a terrible team because they have 20 errors. I don't know why the Cards are 14-6.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Just to be clear - I am a STH holder, I organize a group that splits the full 81 games and I am looking forward to the day when the Nats are a respected, winning team.

Until then, what games are you guys watching? I'm all about being a fan. But this team is not playing up to its potential. They make preventable mistakes everyday.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 28, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Well, po-tay-to, po-tah-to, but at least we can all agree that the Cardinals' manager must really suck and should probably be fired if his team is committing that many errors.

Posted by: joebleux | April 28, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Given the current state of the bullpen, here's my 2-cents worth on what to do...

>Rivera - Either use in "blow-out" situations, or against 1-2 batters in low-pressure situations until he regains some sort of form.
>Wells, Bergmann - Perfectly suited for 1-2IP roles, particularly to start innings; MR slots.
>Tavarez - Can be used nearly anywhere (Long, Middle, Set-up), but must watch pitch counts (stay below 15/IP).
>Hinckley - Prone to BB, but effective LHS & occaisional RH.
>Hanrahan, Mock - Touted as possible closers, need to throw strikes consistently & earn position.
Of this group, only Wells, Tavarez & Hinckley have proven effective w/men on base, let alone w/RISP. Both Tavarez & Hinckley are currently being used by Manny as "stoppers".

Injured list -
>Chico - Former starter, may be effective as LR/MR if surgery recovery goes well.
>T.Young - RuleV pick; unproven in ML. Not part of current equation.
>Beimel - Solid LH set-up pitcher; throws strikes, probably a little too "cute" for closer role.

Minors - The equivalent of a Hollywood "cattle call" - Dozens to choose from, but no "leading-man" types.

For the current situation, Wells & Bergmann become the MR, 2IP guys; Rivera & Hinckley are the "spot-out" artists, with Tavarez, Hanrahan, Mock & Beimel (when back) in a SU-CL rotation. If Chico comes back this year, he becomes the LR (2-3IP) & bumps either Mock/Hanrahan/Hinckley on the roster.

Posted by: BinM | April 28, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

New posts up, with poll. (Are you psychic, BinM?)

nunof, if I recall correctly, Dibble said at the start of the next broadcast that players had checked out the outfield before the game, but had not specifically taken infield practice before the game. Perhaps Chico can clarify, as you request.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 28, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

@1a1:(Are you psychic, BinM?)

Psychic, no; Prescient, possibly; Psycotic, most likely (I am a Nats fan, after all).

Posted by: BinM | April 28, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

LOL, BinM!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 28, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

>Did we ever find out one way or the other about the Nationals supposedly not taking infield at Citi Field prior to Friday's game?

Yeah, Dibble confirmed on the broadcast later that he had talked to the outfielders, and they walked the outfield but didn't take any balls off the bat.

Posted by: Brue | April 28, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

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