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Morning Reading

The 2009 Washington Nationals have played, oh, about 60 total innings of baseball, and already 1.) they are 5-1/2 games back of first, the same gap faced by 2008 Nats on May 19; 2.) their manager is answering questions about his job security and 3.) their shortcomings are getting harder and harder to dismiss. Maybe Jordan Zimmermann, debuting April 19, will arrive just in time to break an 11-game losing streak. Save us, kid.

As per item 2 from the above list: When Acta was asked yesterday about his job and whether he was concerned about losing it, the manager answered, "Aww, no. I'm a blessed human being. I don't think about that. There are so many people losing their jobs every single day, and I can't control that, and I don't think about any of that stuff. The people who hired me here, they know what they hired me to do. And if in three years they're going to judge me over six, seven, eight games or whatever, that's up to them. I really don't worry about that, because I'm going to get a job if it's not here. My hope is to be here for the next 20 years, but if I don't, I'll have a job somewhere."

Anyway, in the aftermath of yesterday's home-opening loss, there is plenty of Morning Reading.

Sheinin looks at the marriage between the Nationals and their fans, describing the domestic ennui.

Boz columnizes about the day -- and a potential demotion.

The news story about Harry Kalas's death describes some of the behind-the-scenes decision-making regarding the play/cancel issue.

The gamer hones in on Acta's decision to handle the seventh inning yesterday with Saul Rivera.

The notebook examines the latest middle infielder injury.

Steinberg, who was blogging all afternoon, has some research that is certain to not cheer you up.

By Chico Harlan  |  April 14, 2009; 8:55 AM ET
 
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Next: Milledge Optioned To Class AAA Syracuse [UPDATED]

Comments

ESPN reported this morning that Toolsey Tool Lastings Mendoza called Manny into HIS office for a talk regarding the managing of the parent club and his Mendoza's) possible demotion to AAA Syracuse. Lastings suggested that a change of leadership at the major league level would be his preference: "I ain't ridin' no buses. My bus-ridin' days are over, man."

"Nothing surprises me by what he does," Acta said.

Lastings Menoza, still a legend in his own mind.

"Where some people have difficulty is when they're failing and the fans are all over them. I know how to get myself back into gear. No matter how many people in the world tell me I'm not good, I have confidence in myself. I know how good I am." http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/web/COM1037421/2/index.htm

ESPN further reports that in Lastings' right rear view mirror, objects are actually farther away than they appear.


Posted by: nova_g_man | April 14, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Lastings Mendoza has started 15 games since potential lame duck manager Manny Acta handed him the leadoff spot. He was hitting .282 at the time. Lastings Mendoza ignites the Nats’ offense in 2009! 8 for 62, 2 BB, 20K, 3R, .129, since the announcement. He earned it! Sorry Willingham ya bum ya! Dukes, you dead dawg!

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 14, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

About all the gaps in the seats that a couple posters mentioned. Did you see how crowded the red loft and red porch were? Not to mention some of the other standing areas between sections? I wouldn't be so quick to jump to the no-show conclusion. There are a lot of people in those areas.

re: Milledge and Dukes's catches. All three of those were hold-your-breath-and-cross-your-fingers catches. The only reason they looked so great was because they made it look so hard. LOL!!!

Posted by: NatsNut | April 14, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Why is every outfield fly hit in the gaps an adventure? Marquis Grissom is a gold glover is he not transferring his "knowledge and wisdom" to the outfielders on this team.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 14, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

"About all the gaps in the seats that a couple posters mentioned. Did you see how crowded the red loft and red porch were? Not to mention some of the other standing areas between sections? I wouldn't be so quick to jump to the no-show conclusion. There are a lot of people in those areas."

Not to mention one thing we're NOT hearing after this year's record crowd at the opener, which is legions of people crying that they missed three innings waiting in line for a hot dog. I guess the concessions lines moved pretty well. People were out of their seats getting food, but maybe the could do as I did and watch the rest of the inning from the concourse before heading back to their seats.

"re: Milledge and Dukes's catches. All three of those were hold-your-breath-and-cross-your-fingers catches. The only reason they looked so great was because they made it look so hard. LOL!!!"

Would you say the same about Raul Ibanez's two great catches in left field? Or were those hard catches that he made look easy? Is it possible to really make any judgments about a great catch being easy or hard if you're not focusing on the particular outfielder from the crack of the bat (or even before) to see how he's breaking, how he's tracking the ball, etc? Most viewers don't pick up on outfield plays until after that. All they see is the end of the play, not what went into making it what it was. Not saying that you didn't do this, but I wonder. How many outfielders make a catch where they crash into a wall or hit the track look easy, anyway? The important thing is that they make the catch, and secondarily that they don't get hurt doing it.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

"Sorry to spoil the party, but it was clearly not a sellout.

The sections immediately behind the plate were 2/3 empty and the majority of people in those seats had been comped. In addition, there are a number of suites that remain unsold and are being used as comps as well.

IF you exclude the suites and the "Presidents" sections, I am prepared to accept the rest of the seats were sold (though a fair number under the scoreboard remained empty). But a sellout? No.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 14, 2009 8:56 AM"

Last year when attendance at the sold-out opener was reported as 39,389 (less than listed capacity of 41,888) despite the fact that every seat was obviously filled, the reason given was that the number reflected paid attendance and that the difference was due to comped seats. It's interesting that even though Harlan and Sheinin are reporting that yesterday's game was a sellout, it really wasn't if the capacity is still 41,888. Unless they comped seats in order to fill them, which teams often do on opening day as a matter of course. Clearly they sold more tickets for this year's opener than they did for last year's, which should say something in the face of the many dire predictions this year.

As for suites, I've often wondered how those are counted when attendance figures are given. The suite itself is either sold or not, but the number of people in them can vary from night to night since they don't sell them on a per-person basis.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Can't wait to see Kearnsie back in the lineup tomorrow!!

Posted by: RickFelt | April 14, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Does nova_g_man have a staff of writers like Jay Leno does to come up with his tired anti-Milledge schtick, or does he do it all himself? Either way, it's tired. Very tired. Not to mention lame.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

On the subject of a sellout, nunof1 is absolutely correct. You can't call anything less than 41,888 a sellout.

But there's a more fundamental question, because it goes not only to the question of Opening Day but the more important season-long under-utilization of the best seats in the house:

If Stan Kasten or anyone else claims a sellout, ask them point-blank the following question, which can only be answered yes or no: Was every seat in the Presidential Section and in the suites sold?

If the answer is no -- as it must be -- then ask the following question: How many were comped?

Knowing, as we all do, the embarrassing situation with those behind-the-plate seats, it is beyond gullible for an experienced reporter to state, without qualification, that the game was sold out.

(BTW, I agreethat empty seats elsewhere in the ballpark MAY be the result of people hanging out at the Red Loft, etc.)

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 14, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

natstown won't see another 30+ thousand crowd again until the sawx come calling in interleague play.

Posted by: surly_w | April 14, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

@nunof1: Regarding your question about how the suites are counted for attendance purposes, my understanding is that there are a fixed number of seats assigned to each suite and they are sold as a block along with the suite.

A totally reliable source informs me that most of the suites on the upper of the two levels of suites have not been sold and are being used as comps for various purposes.

While there are always a certain number of tickets a team (or any venue) will hold back as comps and "house seats," it is impossible to believe the Nationals would not sell/rent most of those suites if they could. The same can be said of the majority of presidential seats downstairs. So most of them should be counted against claims of a "sellout."

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 14, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Boz's make a valid point. After watching Milledge bat and run his pass patterns, it may be time for him to learn how to play major league baseball in Syracuse for awhile. I know Milledge has his supporters but it is painfully obvious that this kid is over-matched in most facets of the game. Could this be reason why he was never accepted in NY or maybe it is because he has an attitude problem. As they say where there is smoke there is fire. A Milledge demotion would temporarily address the outfield logjam.

Posted by: mjames0 | April 14, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

@mjames

While not a Milledge basher, per se, I don't get his sense of entitlement unless it is condoned by Manny and the front office. I know he and Acta have a connection through their time with the Mets, but sometimes Lastings talks as if he's an NBA player where he may be able to get by on talent alone. I don't see any harm in giving him a tutorial at SYR even though Manny may worry about "losing him." What about our needs?

Posted by: leetee1955 | April 14, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Chico, the gamer _homes_ in, not _hones_.

Posted by: Charles1953 | April 14, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Chico, the gamer _homes_ in, not _hones_.

Posted by: Charles1953 | April 14, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

On Kasten's handling of Kalas's death:

Maybe I am the only guy who thinks this, but assuming that Kasten seriously would have canceled the game, his placement of the decision in Philadelphia's hands was way crazier and far more irresponsible than going on the radio and trying to sell tickets. Fortunately, I don't think that cancellation was ever seriously contemplated.

Cancellation of the game with 40,000 would have been a PR catastrophe for the team, further inflamed its deteriorating relationship with its fans and potentially caused a riot.

I believe Kasten knew this, and also knew Philadelphia people would never ask for the game to be canceled. In addition to the problems associated with sending 40,000 people home (and the lost concession sales, etc.), they knew it was going to rain today and the last thing they wanted to do was have to arrange a make-up game or play a doubleheader on Wednesday.

Frankly, the whole story sounds like a PR concoction. I think there is a certain gullibility here to believe, and to report uncritically, that the Nationals were genuinely prepared to cancel the game -- for the death of anyone short of the president of the United States, let alone the visiting team's announcer. And if the Nationals management really was willing to do that, they are even dumber than I thought.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 14, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

where lmillz is concerned, i believe in the star trek credo that "the needs of the many outweighs the need of the one."

Posted by: surly_w | April 14, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Actually, "hone in" seems appropriate to me per one of the American Heritage Dictionary definitions:

2. To direct one's attention; focus.


(I know. I know. I have a Nats comments/news moratorium. What can I say? I'm hooked.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 14, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

After Lastings finishes with his BP, they should just clear CF of ball shaggers and have him chase down balls for 15 minutes. I feel his demotion at this point would be a bit premature. Heck, we let Kearns hit at the Mendoza line all of last year.

The logjam should be remedied with a trade.

Posted by: dclifer | April 14, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

@1a1

Have you considered joining Nats Anonymous? LOL!

Posted by: leetee1955 | April 14, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Meridian1,
I agree. "the whole story sounds like a PR concoction." Logistically, a cancellation would have been a nightmare and potentially dangerous. It was a tragic loss, but one of those cases where Kalas would have wanted the game to go on. It was nice that they had separate moments of silence.

Posted by: dclifer | April 14, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

this whole team is nats anonymous.

Posted by: surly_w | April 14, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

YES! Now that is a moniker!
Surly_W!!!!

Posted by: dclifer | April 14, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

" Logistically, a cancellation would have been a nightmare and potentially dangerous."

Dangerous? What would have been different than if the rainstorm had hit in the second inning, and the umps decided to cancel the game? As with any rainout, I bet the concessions would have been open to sell food to people as long as they wanted to hang around before braving the traffic jam to head home, and everyone would have gotten a rain check to come back whenever the game was rescheduled. It would have been a buzzkill for the opening day mojo, sure, but hardly dangerous.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Thomas Boswell. I can now start referring to the circuitous, zig-zag routes you take toward reaching your conclusions as "pass patterns." Here's your conclusion from this morning's column:

"On a day with so much seriously sad news, it hardly seems an insurmountable task to rearrange the outfield a bit and a face tough problem, like the Zimmerman contract."

Here's where you ran the wrong route in reaching this conclusion, Tom. Obviously you don't even read the paper you write for, because if you did you would know that Zimmerman has ruled out any discussions on a long-term contract until after the season is over. So that one is out. And as for the Milledge demotion, sure they could do that. But if they are seriously contemplating doing it, why haven't they done it already? It's not like there haven't been any other outfielders to play instead of him until now. You may have a source inside the FO that thinks Milledge runs "pass patterns" and deserves a demotion, but the two guys who hold the keys to that decision (Acta and Rizzo) have been fully supportive of Milledge from the get-go. They know he's not there yet, but they certainly seem to be willing to wait for him to get there by playing him in CF at Nationals Park, don't they?

So, really, I'd have to say that the pass pattern you ran today is eerily similar to the one you ran when you got your degree in Gibbsology.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I demand that the Post reunite Woodward and Berstein to look into the question of whether or not the Nats tendered said offer to Phillies to postpone game. Furthermore, a group of renowned psychics should be empaneled to determine whether the Nats would have actually postponed the game if asked to do so.

We cannot allow this alleged courtesy in the wake of tragedy to go unquestioned.

Posted by: joebleux | April 14, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Nunof1

You are truly amazing. Just once can we see a post from you where you agree with someone. It seems you can not write any post unless you are disagreeing with some poster's view, comment or position.

I being serious now. Are you like this in real life . Do you literally go around just disagreeing.

Posted by: mjames0 | April 14, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

ESPN has a headline "Rumors: Manny Acta is getting the ax first". I'm not an insider subscriber so I can't read the details.

Posted by: msolem | April 14, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

would that make him "manny axta?"

Posted by: surly_w | April 14, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

"ESPN has a headline "Rumors: Manny Acta is getting the ax first". I'm not an insider subscriber so I can't read the details."

This is absolutely fantastic news.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 14, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

as for watching Lastings as soon as the ball was hit, as a matter of fact, I did.

Thanks to all the input from here and from Boz, it was hard not to notice. I probably wouldn't have articulated it as well, but I cracked up thinking about the pass patterns. it's so true!

Posted by: NatsNut | April 14, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I think Manny's getting close to an Eddie Jordan situation -- that is, the front office likes him, doesn't blame him for the results on the field, and would rather not fire him, but if the Nats keep losing, they may feel like they have to shake things up somehow.

Posted by: joebleux | April 14, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

The following is from ESPN Rumors.

Acta's job in jeopardy?
Manny Acta's job as manager of the Nationals could be in jeopardy, the Washington Examiner reported.

The Nats sank to 0-7 on Monday with a 9-8 loss to the Phillies and the may soon be forced to change skippers, if only for shock value.Fans started leaving in the sixth inning of Monday's loss and "you wonder how many will return."

The newspaper noted that the Nats can't blame general manager Jim Bowden anymore since he stepped down in spring training. Now the search for a scapegoat comes to Acta, who is 132-198 in two-plus seasons. He was given little, but at some point you still have to win.

"I'm a blessed human being. I don't think about that," Acta told the Examiner. "There are so many people losing their jobs every single day. I can't control that and I don't think about that type of stuff. If in three years [team owners are] going to judge me over six, seven, eight games [this season] I don't worry about that."

The Examiner said that since Nats are in their fifth season in Washington, improvement should be here already.

"We knew we were going with young starting pitching," team president Stan Kasten said. "Young starting pitching has its ups and downs. I think we could call the first week a down."

Posted by: mjames0 | April 14, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

The ESPN.com rumor is based on today's Examiner column by Rick "Redskins Fanboy" Snider.

RICK SNIDER » A quick hook for Acta?
By Rick Snider
Examiner Sports Columnist 4/14/09

Is Manny Acta on the clock?
The Nationals manager is a great baseball man. A nice guy, a good role model. But the Nats sank to 0-7 on Monday with another error-filled outing. The team may soon be forced to change skippers, if only for shock value.

Nobody agreed with the Wizards dismissing Eddie Jordan at 1-10, but the Nats are more attendance-prone this season. Fans started leaving in the sixth inning of the 9-8 loss to Philadelphia, and you wonder how many will return.

The Nats can’t punish general manager Jim Bowden anymore. He’s gone. Now the search for a scapegoat comes to Acta, who’s 132-198 in two-plus seasons. He was given little, but at some point you still have to win.

“I’m a blessed human being. I don’t think about that,” Acta said. “There are so many people losing their jobs every single day. I can’t control that and I don’t think about that type of stuff. &hellip If in three years [team owners are] going to judge me over six, seven, eight games [this season] I don’t worry about that.”

It’s hard to muster energy for a winless team with a ragged defense that permitted three unearned runs. Second baseman Anderson Hernandez booted two balls and missed a third. The outfield played like the Kamikaze Kids with Lastings Milledge resembling Willie Mays — in his final year with the Mets. Even Milledge’s last-second catches on the wall could have come more easily with a direct run to the ball.

Washington starter Daniel Cabrera walked the Phillies eighth hitter for a run, then let pitcher Jamie Moyer knock in another on a sacrifice fly. Saul Rivera plunked two batters, then surrendered a 415-footer to Ryan Howard. Dumb and dumber.

Nobody expected a great team, but this is the fifth season in Washington. Improvement should be here already.

“We knew we were going with young starting pitching,” team president Stan Kasten said. “Young starting pitching has its ups and downs. I think we could call the first week a down.”

Opening Day is supposed to bring hope, but the crowd seldom responded to bugle calls while the presidents’ race hit a new low for lame. Even Obama blew off an afternoon away from the Oval Office to throw out the first pitch.

“We’ll come out of it,” Kasten said.

But with who as the manager?

Posted by: leetee1955 | April 14, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I'm not necessarily advocating for Acta to be canned, but look what a head coaching change did for the Caps last season. I think some moves may be coming, and soon...

Posted by: BGinVA | April 14, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"Fans started leaving in the sixth inning of Monday's loss and "you wonder how many will return.""

A lot of them were Phillies fans, like the ones who were sitting in front of me. Perhaps they were headed to the beer stands in advance of last call. And you know what? I bet many of them will return, possibly as soon as tomorrow.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Hey runof1, I'm right there with you. I don't see anything wrong with trying to find the silver lining. Most of the commenters here just like to (m)itch and (b)oan.

Are the Nats perfect? Heck, no. But they are MY hometeam and I will back them as much as I can.

Do they do things that tick me off from time to time? You betcha, yeah. But they also do more things right than not.

So Acta put Saul in to start the 7th. Saul has been in that situation many, many times in his carrer as a Nat. And the majority of the times he's been successful. Yesterday he wasn't. Is that Acta's fault? Not in my eyes. This fell squarely on Saul for not locating his pitches.

Oh and to question Stan's sincerity on whether to play the game or not after Kalas' death? Get real. It was not a PR stunt. And Stan never said that he would have cancelled the game. He wanted to get the Phils' take on the situation. Common courtesy wa all that was.

Look, the Nats are 0-7 after coming off a 102 loss season. Even I know that looks REALLY BAD. Besides the first two games against the Marlins, they have been in each and every game. One play here, one play there and this team is 4-3. I have hope and I have patience and I have trust that this team will start winning and will start winning soon. This team is better than last year's and they will show it and soon. So if it gets your rocks off to bash the same players/coaches/managers day in and day out ... then go for it. Me? I'll be the one that will proudly stand by my team. And once they start winning on a consistent basis, I would like to see each and every one of you naysayers out there to stop nitpicking and enjoy having baseball back in DC.

Posted by: erocks33 | April 14, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

The Examiner article is pure speculation by Snider. No sources cited, not even the dreaded anonymous one. I'm surprised ESPN even counted it as a rumor. Acta is safe.

Posted by: WMPete | April 14, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"Acta is safe."

:(


Posted by: RickFelt | April 14, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

"Opening Day is supposed to bring hope, but the crowd seldom responded to bugle calls while the presidents’ race hit a new low for lame."

For those who think I never agree with anything, I agree with this. The Presidents Race, which I loved when it started, has truly jumped the shark. It is lame beyond belief. They should just abandon all the "will Teddy ever win?" and other such schtick, and just run it like a real race every day. That would be entertaining for adults, and the kids wouldn't know the difference.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Once more some of the posters here are not being very discriminating.

1. Both of the Milledge catches should have been relatively easy. Dukes catch was a straight on snowcone stab and he deserves all the credit for a great play.

2. I have been a Milledge defender (well, mostly) all along, but he does not qualify, in any way, as a leadoff hitter (other than his ability to steal bases). He is much more a 7 or 8 (maybe a 2). He has the speed to be a CF and playing him is an obvious attempt to cover up for Dunn's almost amazing inability to play the outfield. However, if you play Dukes in center and Kearns in right, you can really restrict Dunn. That gets Dukes to the 1500 PAs that he needs to see what his ability really is. It also gives you two guns in the outfield (Milledge has the speed, but not the arm to be a true CF) and does a lot to cover up for Dunn.

3. The Nats are going to have to lose Rivera. It was amazing to me to see him on the roster in 09. After yesterday's (admittedly only one inning) disaster, I am even more convinced.

4. The manager situation is more difficult than many would make it out. C/W puts the manager decision in the hands of the GM. If Rizzo is going to get the spot, he needs to have the "acting" removed from his title. Of course, it's Kasten/Lerners' call, but generally the GM has the major input. After all, he is the one that puts the team together and it is up to him to decide who runs it on the field.

Posted by: Catcher50 | April 14, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Acta apologists lol. It's an IQ test, and you've failed.

Posted by: Brue | April 14, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

The newspaper noted that the Nats can't blame general manager Jim Bowden anymore since he stepped down in spring training. Now the search for a scapegoat comes to Acta, who is 132-198 in two-plus seasons. He was given little, but at some point you still have to win.
-----------------------------------------------

That is so stupid!!! You can absolutely still blame Bowden for a lot of this mess. He is the one that left us with no decent cover up the middle because we are carrying 6 outfielders only one of whom can field and three of which can hit. He failed to deal four guys with serious injury problems and signed several horrible contracts. This squad is still largely his.

You can also blame other people. There is a lot of blame.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 14, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

So if Manny were to go, who would replace him? Who is out there without a team?

Posted by: twinbrook | April 14, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

>You can also blame other people. There is a lot of blame.

Are you blaming the blamer? That makes you a blaming blamer. Ok, I blame everybody too. But as long as Acta's ass is canned, I don't care who you blame. You can blame to your heart's content! I blame Stan because his institutional knowledge of baseball has been spoon-fed to him by Bobby Cox and John Scheurholz and now that they're not here to do it anymore, I blame them!

Posted by: Brue | April 14, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

>So if Manny were to go, who would replace him? Who is out there without a team?

Someone with balls and intelligence. It's not that hard.

Posted by: Brue | April 14, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Topics of the day: A little soon to give Acta the hook. Not too soon to send Lastings down to run his routes in AAA--the team does need to wake up, as does our star receiver, although he did make two nice receptions last night. Showing some courtesy to the Phillies in the face of their loss might play as a PR stunt, but it was the right thing to do. I too would have been very surprised had they cancelled, but talking to the Phillies as the Nats did was appropriate. And last, pitching = sadness this year, I fear.

On the down side of a new topic, the seats in front of the Red Roof were a disaster. It took us 3 hours to actually get any food--their high tech scanners were not working and they literally could not figure out how to get an order from the seats to the kitchen. The servers and management were clueless. Although we were assured that a Nats representative would come by to fix it, that didn't happen. You either paid in cash (despite the fact that you had already paid $20 towards food in the ticket price) or you didn't eat. Jeez. That's what I get for springing for the expensive seats on Opening Day. Even with all the negatives, glad to have the boys of summer back.

Posted by: NatsFly | April 14, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

What did the Phillies do for their radio broadcast yesterday? I haven't seen that talked about anywhere.

Posted by: twinbrook | April 14, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

">So if Manny were to go, who would replace him? Who is out there without a team?"

Joe Gibbs. With the pitching staff's collective ERA around 8, you need someone who can least put up a touchdown + field goal per game.

Posted by: joebleux | April 14, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Brue

I do lay a lot of the blame at the Lerners feet too. They apparently fought Stan to keep Bowden.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 14, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

As for the sellout issue....if anyone saw the number of people at the Red Porch, Outfield Scoreboard Bar and Red Loft one can see where some of the empty seats were. As for those behind the plate, many were in the Lexus and Stars and Stripes Clubs. It was a much larger turn out then I as a season ticket holder had expected.

As for the Acta and his job. It really needs to be looked at more closely. He puts in Riveria in the 7th, against the force of lefties that was coming up would he have not learned...he has lefties in the pen this year, that is what they are there for. After the third pitch you knew Saul didn't have his stuff. Poor managing decision. He could have kept Hinckley in as well.

Plus this silly idea that Milledge is a lead-off hitter. what a mistake, he is unprepared. Watch Milledge and Dukes, you can tell who is working on improving their hitting and fielding. Move Dukes to center, put Willingham or Kearns in and heck with Milledge.

Posted by: sazzwho | April 14, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

So if Manny were to go, who would replace him?

There are many but the ideal candidate is Tim Foli at SYR. First, he's experienced. Second, he's certifiably nuts. Third, he's the anti-Manny, sure to throw a bag of bats or toss over a buffet table if he were on a seven-game losing streak.

Memo to Manny: Part of managing is the kicking dirt, throwing tantrums, and berating the umpires. Manny manages like a CEO when, in reality, he's more like a clueless clerk at a Home Depot store.

Bring in Foli. Sooner the better. This Manny show has got to end.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 14, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

As a hockey fan in general and a Caps fan in specific, I appreciate the reference.

But it really was a different situation for the Caps last season. Hanlon was absolutely the right coach up until that point. His was the role of the teacher and mentor, and his guidance really did help what was a young and inexperienced team. The team was not ready to win when Hanlon took over the team.

Last year, with noticeable additions (Backstrom's rookie year, free agents Nylander, Kozlov, and Poti), the team was ready to make the jump to being competitive. In that sense, it outgrew Hanlon. The Caps were fortunate to catch lightning in a bottle with Boudreau, too. He's the right fit for this team's skill set, and his arrival essentially allowed Mike Green to surpass what was thought to be his potential.

It's a different situation for the Nats. While there have been some noticeable additions, this team is in no way poised to make the jump into contention. One may argue that Acta is no Hanlon - it's hard to argue that some of these guys are learning anything - but his calm and positive approach was lauded as a refreshing necessity immediately upon arrival. But this team is not ready to win, regardless of who the manager is. And let's face it - there's no Bruce Boudreau waiting in the wings.

-----

I'm not necessarily advocating for Acta to be canned, but look what a head coaching change did for the Caps last season. I think some moves may be coming, and soon...

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

After Lastings finishes with his BP, they should just clear CF of ball shaggers and have him chase down balls for 15 minutes.

Posted by: dclifer | April 14, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

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

But the last time he caught fungoes, he was on vacation in Mexico.

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

Memo to Manny: Part of managing is the kicking dirt, throwing tantrums, and berating the umpires. Manny manages like a CEO when, in reality, he's more like a clueless clerk at a Home Depot store.
-----------------------------------------------

Yeah, just look at that mad man Terry Francona!

Posted by: soundbloke | April 14, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

@NatsFly:

The food situation was the same in the seats behind the plate, except that some management people came out to try to help and actually were running some food. The order-taker, though friendly, was clearly in over her head, and who knows what was going on in the kitchen.

At one point, in a scene that looked like something from the Three Stooges, the chef -- complete in his tall tocque -- was being chased by an irate (and profane) guy from Philadelphia demanding his French Fries. He was a jerk, but you couldn't blame him for being mad. Unlike a lot of the people around us, he and his family had paid full price. They'd been waiting over an hour. A family in front of us, also from Philly but better behaved, ordered nachos early in the game and got them in the 8th inning.

For some reason, we had no problem.

I have to suspect that each year they hire new people, and also this year it's a new caterer. There's going to be a shakedown period, but at those prices they really need to get their game on quickly.

Memo to Stan et al: If the product on the field stinks right now, at least put out a premium product in the stands and fix the things you can control.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 14, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Agree 100% with JiM. Changing managers does not make the Nationals a good team.

Posted by: WMPete | April 14, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Nunof1: You are truly amazing. Just once can we see a post from you where you agree with someone. It seems you can not write any post unless you are disagreeing with some poster's view, comment or position. II being serious now. Are you like this in real life . Do you literally go around just disagreeing. Posted by: mjames0 | April 14, 2009 11:02 AM

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

Mean and petty, like someone with a vendetty: A BM just likes to argue. He dazzles me. He's depriving a village somewhere of its idiot. And you should never argue with an idiot? They drag you down to their level, and then they win with their experience.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 14, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

"Agree 100% with JiM. Changing managers does not make the Nationals a good team."

No, but it makes them more capable of winning games, which is the whole point. Acta cost us the game yesterday, bar none. He's also continuing to cost us by not putting out the best lineup every day and subjecting us to Thrilledge leading off and Kearns anywhere on the field at any time ever.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 14, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

To put this into perspective, the Wizards fired Eddie Jordan after 11 games this season. That's about 13% of the games.

Last year, the Capitals fired Hanlon after 21 games, or just under 26% of the season.

The Nats have played 7 games. We are officially through just over 4% of the regular season.

So yeah, firing Acta today would be akin to firing Jim Zorn halfway through the third quarter of the first game of the season. Or relieving Boudreau of his responsibilities after the second intermission of the fourth game of the year.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 14, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

As a STH and one who is feed up with Mr.Carnival Act and Mr. Passive Presence, I can never forgive Carni for making my afternoon in section 104 about as miserable a time that I have had to endure since 2005. Simply put the Filthy fans who made it to DC in time for the latest debacle are a vulger and abusive bunch. As far as Mr. Passive Presence, your SaberMetrics style of managing is costing you this team, its not funny anymore!

Manny Acta does not have this team prepared to win on a day in and day out basis, are you listening Mr. Rizzo?

Posted by: TippyCanoe | April 14, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Although firing Acta today would not be unprecedented.

In 2002, the Detroit Tigers fired manager Phil Garner and GM Randy Smith after an 0-6 start. That team went on to a 55-106 record.

That firing tied the quickest manager firing in baseball (since 1900). In 1988, the Orioles fired Cal Ripken, Sr. after an 0-6 start. Baltimore continued to slide to 0-21, finishing the year with a 54-107 record.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 14, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

erocks33: You say that Stan never said he was willing to cancel the game. Perhaps not, but here's what the Post reported today:

"Although it was never explicitly stated, the Nationals were prepared to call off the game -- and send some 40,000 fans home -- if the Phillies felt they could not play."

For the reporter to write that without attribution, it has to mean that (a) someone in authority told him this, and (b) he believed it. My view is that if (a) is true the Nationals were either engaging in a PR strategem or crazy, and that if (b) is true the reporter should be a little more skeptical.

Why am I making a big deal out of this, and the sellout issue -- two generally trivial things? Because like a lot of Nats fans I am increasingly irritated by a management attitude, which Kasten personifies, that favors fast-talking over candor, and that doesn't seem to have a clue about how to build and nurture a fan base.

I do think, though, that the will they ultimately handled the Kalas situation with a dignified moment of silence, was entirely appropriate.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 14, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Did Acta commit two errors at second?

Did Acta commit an error in left?

Make no mistake: Acta has inherited a roster problem that he would prefer not to have to deal with. He has the unpleasant responsibility of getting at bats for five outfielders who were considered starters by their respective clubs on Opening Day 2008.

The front office is calling the shots, to an extent. We may want Milledge benched, but it serves nothing other than our desire to not see him play. He needs at bats to establish a value, whether internally or externally. The FO will not send him to Syracuse, so Acta has to make lemonade out of pass routes.

No one on this team has had more than 33 at bats this season. Take a breath.

-----

No, but it makes them more capable of winning games, which is the whole point. Acta cost us the game yesterday, bar none. He's also continuing to cost us by not putting out the best lineup every day and subjecting us to Thrilledge leading off and Kearns anywhere on the field at any time ever.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 14, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Wow - you can tell we're losing by the content in here. Ugh.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | April 14, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

This is crazy. I seriously cannot believe the bile in here against Manny Acta. One five-game winning streak and he will be a saint.

On one hand I don't mind the back and forth and nit-picking about this or that play on this blog. It's all a conversation. But the nastiness and dramatics about firing the manager or we're doomed is outrageous at best, irresponsible at worst.

We all get that you are very smart. You would NEVER, EVER put Rivera in the 7th inning. But c'mon. There are way more problems with this team than just Manny.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 14, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

found this on philly.com:

WASHINGTON - Shortly before yesterday's first pitch, Shane Victorino sent out a search party. He needed a pack of cigarettes. Pronto.

Someone produced a pack and Victorino passed out a few "heaters." That's what Harry Kalas used to call them.

In the visiting dugout at Nationals Park, just as the game was about to begin, Victorino and a few Phillies teammates lit the cigarettes. They each took a quick drag and extinguished them - in honor of Kalas.

the whole story is at http://www.philly.com/philly/hp/sports/20090414_Phillies_honor_Kalas__then_win.html

Posted by: twinbrook | April 14, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Did Acta commit two errors at second?

Did Acta commit an error in left?


No, but he completely mismanaged his bullpen (and pinch hitters, we'll see more of that though) which allowed the winning runs to be scored.

This support of Acta is astonishing to me. It's not like he did anything last year to warrant your unrelenting trust and this is just a 7 game overreaction on everyone else's part. Nice guys get fired, it happens all the time. He'll deal with it.

If Kearns starts over Dukes tomorrow I'm done with this team until Acta goes.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 14, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Obama declined because he didn't want to show up the Nats’ pitching staff. The Coast Guard guy's first pitch got by Bard all the way to the backstop. Manny Acta’s lineup card for Wednesday reads: Pitchers: Lannan, et al. Kasten announces that he has set goals lower and will try to make the Little League World Series. Lastings Mendoza has struck out 20 times since named leadoff, so he switched from a 34-ounce bat to a 29-ounce bat. It's lighter to carry back to the bench. He is now having trouble hitting his weight, but not so long ago, he was having trouble hitting his hat size. Chase Utley says he’s seen better swings on a condemned playground. Lastings’ new motto: I don't just suck - I suck 110% every time.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 14, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"Dating back to the end of last year, Manny Acta's charges have lost 10 straight games and 15 of their last 16 ..." Sabino, SI

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 14, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

"This is crazy. I seriously cannot believe the bile in here against Manny Acta"

NatsNut, I asked Michael Lee (then the Post's NBA beat writer) in a chat about similar criticism of Eddie Jordan a couple of years ago. He said that it's exactly the same in every sports market. At the time, San Antonio had the best record in the NBA, on their way to winning the championship, and he said people there were ripping Greg Popovich because he was clearly holding the team back.

The manager/coach is just a natural magnet for criticism for people who know everything about everything. And of course, it's rarely just an opinion -- the Manny haters are RIGHT and Manny is WRONG.

Posted by: joebleux | April 14, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

First of all, Acta has had his hands full trying to manage a bullpen that has already been overworked due to the inability of our starters to get into the fourth inning in the first two games.

It's not an easy job. And it's not Acta's fault that the Nats have yet to get a quality start out of a pitcher.

Secondly, perhaps you missed the part of the post-game wrap yesterday, when Chico pointed out, "Lifetime, righties hit .273 against Rivera. Lefties hit just .254 against him."

Hard to suggest that Rivera is wholly incompetent against lefties. And it's also hard to imagine that Rivera, who hit all of two batters in 76 appearances last year (and had only plunked eight batters in 215 career appearances), would hit the first two batters. Pinning that on Acta is nothing but 20-20 hindsight.

Finally, which runs win the games is a debatable stat. Three unearned runs scored in the first four innings. In a one-run ball game, it's just as fair to say that errors cost the Nats the win yesterday.

-----

No, but he completely mismanaged his bullpen (and pinch hitters, we'll see more of that though) which allowed the winning runs to be scored.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 14, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

2 years ago people were making cases for Acta as manager of the year. His managing style has not changed since then. Last year there were injuries and poor free agent signings. This year we're only 7 games in. Sorry guys, you've got some pretty good arguments, and if this was supposed to be a playoff team, maybe I'd agree, but right now this team needs some consistency so that they can settle down and win a couple games.

Posted by: WMPete | April 14, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

"The (outfield) logjam should be remedied with a trade."

DClifer: We've got people noone else wants. With the possible exception of Willingham, none of these journeymen are tradeable.

Posted by: JohnRDC | April 14, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"right now this team needs some consistency so that they can settle down and win a couple games."
Posted by: WMPete | April 14, 2009 1:07 PM
***********

they don't have to be consecutive, do they? because that could take a while

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 14, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

">So if Manny were to go, who would replace him? Who is out there without a team?

Someone with balls and intelligence. It's not that hard."

It is when you only have an interim GM. Someone with balls and intelligence is only going to sign on as manager if the guy above him has job security. Otherwise, he knows that as soon as the interim GM is replaced he's toast too, because the new GM is gonna want his own guy as manager. The only hope for that not to happen is if the interim GM becomes the GM, but no manager with balls and intelligence is gonna sign on in the hope that the interim GM who hires him gets retained.

It would make no sense to fire Acta now, because all you'd get in replacement would be some interim placeholder manager. Manny Acta is no worse than an interim placeholder manager would be.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Emilio Bonifacio finished second to teammate Josh Johnson as National League Player of the Week. Scott Olsen finished two hundred ninety-eighth in the voting, just ahead of Lastings Mendoza.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 14, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

As crazy as it reads....game #8 will be a Nats win. : < }

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 14, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

ESPN reports that Flip Saunders has been named as the new head coach for the Washington Wizards, while Ed Tapscott will replace Manuel Acta as manager of the Washington Nationals. And Lastings Mendoza will now be in charge of cleaning the heads.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 14, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Silver lining department:

Longest losing streak for the 2008 WS runner-up, AL East champion Rays?

7

(And the Phils has a 6 gamer)

As the Donkey says: Stay positive (and use your 3 catchers for double switches and your lefties to get Ryan Howard out).

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

Here is a not-so-encouraging take on Cabrera's velocity yesterday:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/cabreras-velocity

Posted by: BobLHead | April 14, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

That's Acta's fault, too.

-----

Here is a not-so-encouraging take on Cabrera's velocity yesterday:

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 14, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

The natives are restless today.

I'm more disgusted with Judas Kasten than Manny Acta. Manny is a little to passive for my taste and I wish he would light some people up from time to time but, he is who he is.

Judas on the other hand is a pinhead and I extremely tired of his fast talking, used car salesman, no attention to detail arse.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 14, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

In all seriousness, though, Bob, is there a chance that his drop in velocity is deliberate? Perhaps this is a function of the work he's done with St. Claire to improve his accuracy?

Does anyone have the number for Odalis Perez?

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 14, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

"his fast talking, used car salesman, no attention to detail arse."

What details has his arse not paid attention to? Seriously.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Of course, the Nats could've dealt for this ace in the offseason:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/nick-swisher-the-pitcher

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 14, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

">So if Manny were to go, who would replace him? Who is out there without a team?"

My money would be on Ned Yost. Not exactly the Billy Martin prototype than so many around here seek and one who,ironically, was fired for his bullpen management. But Kasten knows him well.

Since Yost probably would not appease the Mob, let's just give the 2007 runner-up to Manager of the Year another week or so, shall we?

Posted by: lowcountry | April 14, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

"Mean and petty, like someone with a vendetty: A BM just likes to argue. He dazzles me. He's depriving a village somewhere of its idiot"

Are you planning on moving out of your village any time soon? I'll buy your house. But I'm not paying top dollar - I may be an idiot, but I'm not stupid.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

"Shortly before yesterday's first pitch, Shane Victorino sent out a search party. He needed a pack of cigarettes. Pronto."

Did he ask Scott Olsen? Or how about Randy St. Claire? Nick Johnson used to smoke, too, but I don't know he may have quit by now.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Manny Acta is not reponsible for his players' performance. But he is responsible for choosing the pick of the litter. With a team in deep spiral of consecutive losses right out the gate its time to make some changes to shake things up. That is where the dividing line is between true major league managers and minor league managers who get promoted.

Posted by: periculum | April 14, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

What details has his arse not paid attention to? Seriously.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 1:50 PM
___________________________________________________________

Nunof,

So you don't think the horrendous food service that has been an ongoing problem for several years has anything to do with him.

Or how about all the complaints over the last several years about people not getting their season ticket packets in a reasonable amount of time.

How about him letting Jimbo run the franchise like a damn carnival the last several years.

How about him rolling out the red carpet for the enemy and embarrassing the heck out of the fans of this area on a Philly radio station all to make a buck.

There's 4 of the top of my head.


Posted by: Section505203 | April 14, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

>Chico pointed out, "Lifetime, righties hit .273 against Rivera. Lefties hit just .254 against him."

That's not much of a difference. 19 hits in every 1,000 at bats. How long does a reliever have to pitch in order to accumulate 1,000 AB against him? Looking at Rivera's stats I bet you'd find one or two more hits by righties over lefties in there. I'm no statistician, but I would say that this difference is well within the margin of error of the poll.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

No, but he completely mismanaged his bullpen (and pinch hitters, we'll see more of that though) which allowed the winning runs to be scored.
Posted by: RickFelt | April 14, 2009 12:50 PM

What bullpen? He went with the veterans, Rivera and Beimel to get him the win. Rivera flopped. Clearly this is a case where Acta does not trust his bullpen. Note how rapidly he yanked Hinckely.

If anything Acta is sending a message to management: A few more veterans to stabilize the pitching staff please? Pedro Martinez perhaps?

However, it may already be too late. The Washington Examiner which very early on predicted the Cutler->Redskins debacle now sez:

Acta's job in jeopardy?

Manny Acta's job as manager of the Nationals could be in jeopardy, the Washington Examiner reported.

The Nats sank to 0-7 on Monday with a 9-8 loss to the Phillies and the may soon be forced to change skippers, if only for shock value.Fans started leaving in the sixth inning of Monday's loss and "you wonder how many will return."

The newspaper noted that the Nats can't blame general manager Jim Bowden anymore since he stepped down in spring training. Now the search for a scapegoat comes to Acta, who is 132-198 in two-plus seasons. He was given little, but at some point you still have to win.

"I'm a blessed human being. I don't think about that," Acta told the Examiner. "There are so many people losing their jobs every single day. I can't control that and I don't think about that type of stuff. If in three years [team owners are] going to judge me over six, seven, eight games [this season] I don't worry about that."

The Examiner said that since Nats are in their fifth season in Washington, improvement should be here already.

"We knew we were going with young starting pitching," team president Stan Kasten said. "Young starting pitching has its ups and downs. I think we could call the first week a down."

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

"Manny Acta is no worse than an interim placeholder manager would be."

That's very debatable. There are plenty of placeholders that would be able to differentiate between the best players on your roster and those who shouldn't even be there.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 14, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

"So you don't think the horrendous food service that has been an ongoing problem for several years has anything to do with him."

Are things not improving there? My impression is that they are, even though perfection obviously hasn't been reached yet. And if nothing else, Kasten has tried to do something about the problems, by replacing the food concessionaire twice. He's clearly not "not paying attention" to this.

"Or how about all the complaints over the last several years about people not getting their season ticket packets in a reasonable amount of time."

I don't think this was an issue this year, was it? Kasten must have paid attention to details and fixed the problem.

"How about him letting Jimbo run the franchise like a damn carnival the last several years."

Bowden's gone, and if you believe what you read here and in Boswell's column he was not Kasten's choice in the first place. So it seems to be a bit of a reach to accuse Kasten of "not paying attention to details" in regard to Bowden when he reportedly wasn't allowed to fire the guy he didn't want to hire in the first place.

"How about him rolling out the red carpet for the enemy and embarrassing the heck out of the fans of this area on a Philly radio station all to make a buck."

Selling seats to make money for the team is a detail that someone needs to pay attention to. Just because you don't like the way he did it is not a reason to say he's not paying attention to that detail, is it?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman is better than Acta by far and he is just one seat over......Acta is not listening to him I beleive. Acta is too proud to admit he is wrong about Willingham, Dukes and Milledge.

Posted by: JayBeee | April 14, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

@periculum

These days managers probably have the LEAST input as to whom makes the opening day roster because of service time, contracts and options. The general manager has most of the say as to the makrup of a team. A manager may lobby for a player here and there, but the GM is the power behind the throne. Most managers are told "here's who you have to work with. Good luck." And because the GM has so much input, some players don't feel beholden to the manager and will go over his head when they're dissatisfied.

Posted by: leetee1955 | April 14, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

"DClifer: We've got people noone else wants. With the possible exception of Willingham, none of these journeymen are tradeable."

Pieces are tradeable. Kearns is even tradeable if you either eat the majority of his salary or take less in return. Is it smart to sell low on Kearns? No, but it might be worth it if you believe Milledge is the answer in CF and that Willingham can play some RF. Milledge and Willingham are definitely tradeable. I think most scouts would say Milledge should be a corner OF, and with that in mind, his recent defensive display doesn't make him "untradeable". IMO, sending Milledge to AAA isn't going to help his trade value.

I think the obvious trade candidate is Willingham. He's one of our best bats, but is stuck behind Dunn. If you trade him and not Milledge, then you free up a 3-OF rotation for CF and RF with Dukes, Milledge, and Kearns. The hardest part is getting Willingham at bats right now, but my guess is teams know he's a proven bat and a deal will be done very soon.

Posted by: dclifer | April 14, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Acta is the one making the manage by numbers decisions we have seem for 3 years now. He is not going to change. If he was managing the Red Sox or Mets then his pre programed bull pen decisons may come out fine.....Nats or not the Red Sox. This team needs a manager who understands that winning games is now the most important task, not developing minor league prospect in the Major Leagues. That we last year and that was a complete failure.

Posted by: JayBeee | April 14, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Wow - one questionable call and people are posting rumors about Manny's job. Let's breathe, y'all, shall we? It ain't quite as easy as it looks. There was no reason to let Hinckley bat in a 4-4 tie game - if Manny does that, you all are howling about how he gave away an AB in a tie game. So Rivera to start the 7th makes sense. I'd even imagine that most folks at the time thought it was the right move. So then he plunks Victorino. Do you take him out after one batter? Probably not - especially since Rivera has handled Utley (up next) pretty well - Utley is 2-for-11 off of Rivera witha career .182/.250/.182 line, so you're probably not taking Rivera out. So then he plunks Utley.

Ok - Howard's 4-for-11 against Rivera with a .364/.500/.455, so now, two on, nobody out, now you're going back to the pen, right, Capt. Armchair McSecondGuess? Ok - great - who do you want - Ledezma? Howard's 2-for-4 against Ledezma with a .750 slugging. So, ok, maybe not. How about Beimel? Ok, Howard's 0-for-3 against Beimel with three walks, so there's a 50-50 chance of bases loaded, no-outs situation and Beimel vs. Werth. So let's say it comes up badly, and Beimel, trying to be careful, ends up walking Howard. So now, Werth. They've only faced each other once, but let's assume the best case scenario - let's say Beimel K's Werth. So now it's bases-still-loaded and one out, Ibanez up. They've never faced each other - so if that goes badly, do we go for Ledezma? Or Shell? Oh, and one other question - who's pitching the 8th? Shell? or Ledezma? Ok, but then what for the 9th? Hanrahan - good. Problem solved - except it IS a tie game as yet, and it COULD go extras - then what? C'mon, Skip, make a call.

My point here isn't that Manny was right - in fact, I think had it been me, I would have gone for Beimel and rolled the dice in the 8th with Shell or Ledezma against the bottom of the order, but leaving Rivera in isn't an absolutely egregious call, considering it's a tie game, it's the 7th, and if you go to the pen there, you've only got three guys in the bullpen of what might be an extra-inning game. Gotta manage there like it's a long season, not like you're trying to go 162-0 (or in this case 156-6). Rivera's been in that spot before and worked his way out with a DP ball. Sure it didn't work this time, so it's an odd call, but it's not one of those "What could he have been thinking" deals.

I do think he sometimes does a get a little too locked into a certain bullpen progression, but look, if Howard chops a DP ball to Hernandez there, it's man-on-third, two outs. It's not quite so easy and certainly not job-costing, no matter how easy it looks in the paper the next morning.

And Chico, it was a good article, but why didn't you dig in a bit more on the individual head-to-head numbers? They aren't as easy as simply "Lefties rule Howard" - because the two lefties we have are a bit more mixed than that.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 14, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

"Acta is too proud to admit he is wrong about Willingham, Dukes and Milledge."

Is Acta wrong to have started Dukes 3 of the last 4 games? Look for Dukes to get more starts from now on. He has stepped up, while Kearns has fallen off lately. Just as I said when Kearns "won the job", it was only going to last as long as he was producing and Dukes wasn't. That has clearly changed now, and Acta has changed the lineup accordingly. Give him credit for that.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 14, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"Riggleman is better than Acta by far and he is just one seat over....."

It's very much in fashion to have a "veteran" former-manager as second in command for the younger managers. Whether he is "better" than Manny obviously remains to be seen, but I think the FO would feel comfortable turning the team over Riggleman in that he has a track record and it's safe to say the team won't self-destruct.

With that said, I believe the question the FO should ask is if players are developing under Manny. We're competing for 2010 and 2011, not now, so who is the best manager to get us there? That's the question. In the same light, what players are going to get us there. Willingham will never be a piece if he or Dunn remains in LF. Kearns is out after this season. Who knows about Milledge.

Posted by: dclifer | April 14, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Sorry - I should have said "the two lefties we had available" - obviously, Hinckley had been used.

One other thing to think about, too, while you're mulling the "YOU make the call" thing above - to this point, Tavarez and Hinckley both have 5 appearances, Rivera, Ledezma and Beimel all have 4, and Shell has 3 (and would have 4 had he gotten into yesterday's game). Playing matchy-matchup with every AB all year long is a great way to go through 25 pitchers. The simple fact is that while that decision may have been the most obvious issue, it wasn't the only thing that went wrong to lose us that game - 3 errors and one falling Dunn didn't help matters.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 14, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

"There was no reason to let Hinckley bat in a 4-4 tie game - if Manny does that, you all are howling about how he gave away an AB in a tie game."

There was no reason for Acta to pull Tavarez and put in Hinckley to pitch to Rollins before the pitcher's spot was up. Hinckley should have been available to pitch the 7th but he wasn't. Not to mention Acta burned his best bench bat in a nothing situation against someone he was lifetime 2-24 off of, which led to him (of course) using Kearns, who sucks, in a bigger spot in the 8th.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 14, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

One other, other thing to think about and then I'm done - in that spot, with two on and nobody out, top 7, you KNOW, no matter what, you know that at the very least you are going to have to face the top of the order in the top of the 9th - if anybody else gets on base there, you're likely going to have to go through the Utley-Howard-Werth-Ibanez gauntlet again top 9 - so your choice, to some extent, is have Rivera (who's got a good track record against lefties) take his chances now in the 7th or potentially have Hanrahan face his first save situation in the 9th by facing down two or three recent MVPs. Again, not saying this was the right call, but that there are more factors at play than just "Howard can't hit lefties"

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 14, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Nationals today optioned outfielder Lastings Milledge to Syracuse of the Triple-A International League.

Just out from the Nats

Posted by: Brian_ | April 14, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Wow - one questionable call and people are posting rumors about Manny's job.

0-7 against your own division out the gate? People leaving in the sixth inning? Its more than a rumor given the Examiner's record to date.

The ownership must be getting more than a tad impatient. The record might cost them a considerable sum of money. They ponied up for Dunn after going strong for Texiera. I suppose they want to see results, not a team vying to be another hapless, losing franchise like the expansion Washington Senators were.

Posted by: periculum | April 14, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Brian_

I feel bad for Milledge but I think this is a good move.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 14, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Enjoy the bus rides...

Posted by: dclifer | April 14, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Brian_

Was it a press release or something?

Posted by: NatsNut | April 14, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

So long, Lastings. May you be served heapings and heapings of humble pie prior to your return.

Posted by: Juan-John | April 14, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Nunof,

You are an repeated apologist for a struggling franchise.

So you think things are just rolling along smoothly then?

You criticize the heck out of Chico and Boz.

But a team that has had 3 straight losing seasons you have none whatsoever?

What say you?

Posted by: Section505203 | April 14, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

So maybe all the crap I have been seeing out of him was not just my "appauling lack of baseball knowledge".....maybe he really did need to learn the game before he was given the job.....Well done Rizzo....Acta is next.

Posted by: JayBeee | April 14, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Manny's crying right about now. his BFF is gone and he can't forcefully play him when he shouldn't.

hopefully this serves as a wake up call to Milledge. you aren't a superstar. now start working hard.

Jaybeee you still owe me a beer, dammit. I coulda used it yesterday.

Posted by: MrMadison | April 14, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Highway295Revisited - The voice of reason.

Great post buddy.

Posted by: FloresFan | April 14, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

It was a press release

Posted by: Brian_ | April 14, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I think my earlier attempt to post a message failed so I'll try again:

Acta is likely safe unless the team goes 0-15 (which would take us through the next Braves series) or something like 5-17 for April. If either of those things happen it won't be a question of whether the firing is justified, but whether you have to make a change regardless. Acta has some flaws but I do not agree with those who maintain that his decision to pitch Rivera yesterday was evidence of flawed management. Rivera through the ball in the wrong place, the Phillies hit it.

Riggleman is a good baseball man, but I doubt he can get more out of these pitchers than Manny can. I don't see how you can argue that. Our rotation Lannan, Olsen, Cabrera, and Martis. Our two best relievers were acquired in April. Our closer is unproven. This is not a field manager problem, this is a talent problem. And you can only fire the GM once (sorry, accept resignation of).

As for Milledge, if they send him down, they should consider teaching him to play secondbase. That's a very trendy thing to do these days - converting an ouutfielder to an infielder. My guess is that Acta has secretly wanted Bernadina in CF all along. His statements to the press about Milledge being the CF are simply Acta being a standup guy and backing smart organizational play. Unfortunately its not working right now. For my money the best team right not might be Dunn, Bernadina, and Dukes in the OF. (I love Kearns as a fielder, but he continues to hit into double plays).

Keep Acta, promote Bergmann and release Ledezma. If Shell struggles bring up Mock. Send Nieves down when you bring up Zimmermann.

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 14, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I assume that Dukes will get the start in CF and Kearns will be back in RF.

I think there is a trade coming soon. Either Willingham or Johnson are gone.

Posted by: FloresFan | April 14, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

"The Washington Nationals today optioned outfielder Lastings Milledge to Syracuse of the Triple-A International League."

Ooopsies. nunof1, sounds like your evaluation of Boz's column needs a few zigs and zags.

Wouldn't surprise me at all if you're wrong as well about Zim not get extended sooner than later.

Posted by: joebleux | April 14, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Lastings Milledge leaves.
Addition by subtraction
Maybe he will learn.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | April 14, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Did they add anyone in the interim before Z-mann?

Posted by: dclifer | April 14, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

OK, so Milledge is now in Syracuse. If Guz's hammy is not 100%, who leads off and who bats second now?

Posted by: erocks33 | April 14, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

New post

Posted by: FloresFan | April 14, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"There was no reason for Acta to pull Tavarez and put in Hinckley to pitch to Rollins before the pitcher's spot was up."

Except for the fact that Rollins is a .333/.360/.458 in 24 ABs against Tavarez, that Tavarez had pitched 5.1 IP in five appearances in seven games, and that was a key AB with a runner on in a tie game.

My broader point is that every manager in a game like yesterday's is going to have to roll the dice somewhere along the line. You would have rolled it with Tavarez vs. Rollins. Ok - maybe that works and maybe it doesn't. I would have rolled it with Beimel against Howard in the 7th. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. Manny chose to roll with Rivera vs. Howard. It didn't work. The only difference among these three is that we KNOW Manny's decision didn't work, and we don't know how ours would have played out - ain't being a fan great? You never have to live with the consequences of your lousy decisions.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 14, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I second NatsNut on both counts. Won't it be nice when we have enough depth in the farm system that guys will have time to develop there rather than being rushed to the majors (as I believe was the case when Milledge was with the Mets)? Also nice to have enough outfielders so that we don't have to play someone out of his natural position.

---

I feel bad for Milledge but I think this is a good move.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 14, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

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