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Morning Reading (And Some Numbers)

There is a rich body of literature debating the fact and myth of "clutch" situations. Can the importance of a moment really reduce strong hitters into weak hitters, and vise-versa? Hitting coach Rick Eckstein, for one, believes that clutch hitting affects performance; after all, he believes in the interconnectedness between mental approach and results. And one's mindset is bound to change depending on what's at stake.

Every once in a while, you get a player like Jesus Flores, where both statistical and experiential evidence says the same thing -- namely, that he improves quite a bit when runners are on base.

"Body-language wise, he just has a knack for slowing things down, and you can really see him bearing down," Eckstein said after yesterday's game. "Not that he doesn't bear down in other at bats, but in key situations he takes a tremendous pride in getting focused. It's pretty impressive to watch. When you've been around hitters a long time, you can watch their body language. And he has a knack for that in-the-moment type thing. To me, you don't just watch the swing. You watch what they accomplish prior to the swing. How they study the pitcher. Slowing things down. Knowing what he needs to do. Sometimes it's kind of hard to describe."

I mention a few RISP stats in today's game story, but here's another one for you, based on aggregates from 2008-2009.


During that time period, Flores has had roughly the same number of ABs with none on and with runners on.

With none on:

AB: 182
AVG: .236
OBP: .280
SLG: .341
HR: 2
BB: 11
K: 43

With runners on:

AB: 168
AVG: .298
OBP: .342
SLG: .494
HR: 8
BB: 10
K: 53

And look what happens with Flores's SLG across the following situations:

With runners in scoring position: .593
With runners in scoring position and two outs: .660
With the bases loaded: .714

Now, a little morning reading...

Yesterday's start at Citi Field has Ollie Perez in some hot water...

What do you think? Are the Marlins legit? The NYT's Karen Crouse writes about the nascent contenders.

Shawn Hill, back on the DL, tries to stay optimistic.

Two recent perspectives on Stephen Strasburg, here and here.

By Chico Harlan  |  April 27, 2009; 8:02 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: "We Needed One Of Those"
Next: Lineups From Citizens Bank

Comments

driley, you never heard me say stats and records weren't useful. Just that they whouldn't be worshiped, because they're all tainted for one reason or another. And certainly not to the degree where it causes bile if someone mentions Montreal. Bring on the Montreal records, along with the Washington records, after all, why can't you have both if they're really just important to give everyone perspective?

Posted by: Section506 | April 27, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Flores is turning into a pleasant surprise. If I remember correctly (rare), he was somewhat of a surprise last year as well. As dismal as this start has been, my gut has a good feeling about this team.

Maybe there will be more surprises in Philly.

Posted by: CajunD | April 27, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I feel terrible for Shawn Hill -- the frustration must be nearly unbearable.

Nevertheless, the most telling quote: "It didn't sneak up on me, it's been bothering me for awhile,” Hill said. “In my first two starts, it didn't feel great. But I was able to get loose. Yesterday it caught up with me."

I am looking forward to seeing the posts from everyone who has been lambasting the Nationals for letting him go.

As for yesterday's game, for one day, they looked like the best team in baseball.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 27, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, at the risk of sounding like a shill for Rizzo - this is exactly why they let Shawn Hill go. Admittedly, they could have put him on the DL now and brought up Martis, but really, I'd rather have had Martis the whole time.

As for Flores, the biggest surprise to me isn't the clutchiness, but it's that his power game is starting to warm up again. If he can slug .450-ish and play good D, he's going to be a great player and will compete with McCann as the best C in the division.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 27, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Re Strasberg,

I hope that if the Nats draft him, they make his signing contingent on a lie-detector test on top of the normal physical. I think it's important to ask him THE question in baseball. His ascent from not even drafted out of highschool to the greatest prospect ever is just about too good to be true. It's great that in college he became a "workout warrior and nutrition fiend," but that's what Bonds and Clemens insisted for years. The Nationals need to know what their getting if they are going to pay the Boris premium for this kid. They need to know if he transformed his body with the help of steroids or other illegal performance enhancers. I hope he is for real. I hope that this transformation that unlocked his God-given talent really is the result of hard work, healthy eating, dedication and focus to acheive his goals. But any baseball fan who thinks steroids, HGH and other illegal (not to mention dangerous) substances are only found in the professional ranks is incredibly naive. These chemicals are used in high school and college, and the Nationals should know what they are getting before they sign that first check.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | April 27, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Re the existence of "clutch" hitters, I know I'd read at some point that some sabremetrics people say that hitters whose stats improve late in games get those results because they are typically facing relievers who only have one or two pitches, and those hitters may just be better against that type of pitcher, whether it's because of the types of pitches they throw or the reduced difficulty of guessing what's coming. I wonder if it's possible that Flores appears to improve when men are on base for similar reasons; for example, if pitchers are more likely to throw strikes or not throw breaking pitches to avoid adding another baserunner, and Flores has an easier time hitting those pitches. It certainly seems possible to me that Flores just focuses better in these situations, but if that's the case, someone needs to explain to him that it's still important to get hits even if there's nobody on base.

Posted by: mrlogical | April 27, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

"I hope that if the Nats draft him, they make his signing contingent on a lie-detector test on top of the normal physical."

If you listen *REALLY* carefully you can hear Scott Boras laughing hysterically.

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | April 27, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

"I am looking forward to seeing the posts from everyone who has been lambasting the Nationals for letting him go."

Most likely, they're the same folks who thought that letting go of an overrated reliever that was in decline, THEN got hurt was a bad idea, too.

Posted by: Wooden_U_Lykteneau | April 27, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Cheeseburger53: i'm with you on this one the type of stats that we see on this kid scream PED(perf.enhnc.drgs.) trust me i want to be wrong but for the kind of money Scott Boras will be demanding the Nats need to be sure i think this kid should be smart enough to know better but the lure of fame and money will make you do strange things just ask Clemens and Bonds.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 27, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

"I wonder if it's possible that Flores appears to improve when men are on base for similar reasons; for example, if pitchers are more likely to throw strikes or not throw breaking pitches to avoid adding another baserunner, and Flores has an easier time hitting those pitches."

Where this explanation is weak is when it doesn't explain why other players don't have a corresponding rise in average. If this were the case then most batters would see an increase in average since pitchers would be throwing strikes to all batters, or at least the same one or two pitches. In fact, we usually see a decrease in average in "clutch" situations.

Posted by: Section506 | April 27, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Re: Strasburg and the sudden appearance of PED accusations. Let's not forget that the NCAA requires more stringent drug testing than does MLB. The real question is whether a 20 year old will maintain a level of being a "workout warrior" or whether it's just a passing phase. I suspect that asking millions of women how long that the young men who pledged eternal love, at the age of 20, remained true to that concept will yield a less than happy answer.

On the other hand, the concept of a true #1, at the top of the rotation, a 1.5 and a 2 as the next pair, with an average age of about 21 is a delightfully scary thought.

Re: stats. All you need to do is look back at the evolution and development of a whole new series of statistical markers over the past few years and you will understand that the whole thing is a process and far from finished.

Posted by: Catcher50 | April 27, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse


"driley, you never heard me say stats and records weren't useful. Just that they whouldn't be worshiped, because they're all tainted for one reason or another. And certainly not to the degree where it causes bile if someone mentions Montreal. Bring on the Montreal records, along with the Washington records, after all, why can't you have both if they're really just important to give everyone perspective?"

Posted by: Section506

Alas, Montreal records mean the same to me as the Boston football team records mean to the Redskin fans. Marshall was smart enough to know that when you switch a team to a different city you have to establish your new identity and bond with the fans in your new city, i. e. craft a football fight song that has "fight for Old D.C" in the lyrics. As horrible as the new statues are in front of Nationals stadium at least the management did not honor the traditions of the Expos players. If MASN had been able to hire commentators that were ex-Senators instead of ex-Reds, Cardinals, Dodgers you would certainly have a great deal more references to Washington's past. MASN, being wholly hired by an Orioles owner could certainly care less about the history of baseball in Washington. Adding in some small way the voice and memories of Frank Howard (or a similar ex-Senator) to the broadcast would have enhanced the coverage of this team 100 percent. Keeping the embers of that link alive even after several decades of a break continues to be a vital necessity for baseball in Washington.

Posted by: driley | April 27, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Hitting coach Rick Eckstein, for one, believes that clutch hitting affects performance; after all, he believes in the interconnectedness between mental approach and results. And one's mindset is bound to change depending on what's at stake.
"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""

That was the point Yogi Berra was trying to get across in a Yogi type of way on the game is more "mental" than "physical".

That is also a major factor why hitting is contagious as when 2 guys in front of you get hits you approach the pitcher with a better mindset and better results.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 27, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

It seems to be coming true that the Mets made a serious mistake by not protecting Flores from the Rule 5 draft. This seems to be one of the few moves the Nats have made that has panned out for the long run. If Martis and Zimmermann can maintain healthy arms and add Strasburg to the mix, it could be the second coming of Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine. I know it's seems early to make that comparison, but the possibility of that happening makes one giddy at just the thought.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 27, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I for one did not ever question the Hill decision. I said it was the right one at the time (really a year late is what I said). I also do not think we will regret the Shell move or the Milledge move. I like the Rizzo can made decisions and move on quickly. I hope to see many more moves to clean up this 40 man roster......De Jimbo it once and for all.

Posted by: JayBeee | April 27, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

"I am looking forward to seeing the posts from everyone who has been lambasting the Nationals for letting him go."

Most likely, they're the same folks who thought that letting go of an overrated reliever that was in decline, THEN got hurt was a bad idea, too.

Posted by: Wooden_U_Lykteneau | April 27, 2009 9:41 AM
******************************

Some have called it a lack of loyalty, but the Nats could have released Hill prior to arbitration so they were loyal.

As far as the reliever you mention, where was his loyalty? Bowden was supposedly his obstacle and then Bowden is gone. So why not come back with no preconditions and earn a spot with your performance?

If you ask me, the owners have been a little too nice with regards to on-the-field. They learned an important lesson last year with FLop and JEstrada etc. and they made a good move with trading Rauch.

Loyalty, performance, attitude, hustle, all go hand in hand, and the one thing this team has to realize is that there is no "I" in TEAM, and the only A$$ in A$$Ki$$ing is the one in the mirror doing the kissing as they found with JimBo.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 27, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

"i. e. craft a football fight song that has 'fight for Old D.C' in the lyrics"

Unfortunately, the lyrics as written by Marshall's wife were "fight for old Dixie" because the Skins were the Southern Team. The old bigot only changed them after he was forced to integrate his team.

Posted by: Section506 | April 27, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Read this about Oliver Perez in the NY Post:

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/2009/04/26/2009-04-26_jerry_manuel_could_spin_oliver_perez_out_of_mets_rotation.html

They expect a lot out of that team. Jerry Manuel is not Manny Acta when it comes to pointing fingers.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 27, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Apologies to Chico for re-entering the Oliver Perez link which I now see he had the link to.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 27, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

If Martis and Zimmermann can maintain healthy arms and add Strasburg to the mix, it could be the second coming of Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 27, 2009 10:55 AM
_________________________________________________________

Don't forget Lannan. I think he's the real deal, as well. Maybe he will never be a true "ace" in a legit rotation, but he can be a major contributor to a successful pitching staff throughout his career.
Strasburg-Z'nn-Lannan-Martis is a beautiful starting 4. We just have to find a fifth, and we're headed to the Series!

Posted by: usmc53 | April 27, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Adding Lannan to the mix is like recalling Avery to the Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux line.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 27, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

>


Um, the song was originally "Fight for Ole Dixie"

Posted by: JDB1 | April 27, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

To DCMAC - I don't care how the owners feel about the players - the less input that Mark and Ted Lerner have on the day-to-day baseball decisions down on the field, the better.

As for Manny, Rizzo, and Kasten - they have been more lenient than I think I would have been in some situations.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 27, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

headed to the series? And this about a team whom the article in the NDN cited above said: "the welcome presence of the 3-13 Washington Nationals, who might just as well change their names to the Washington Generals - as in the Harlem Globetrotters' perennial patsies"???

Posted by: twinbrook | April 27, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Real Baseball Intelligence (RBI), a leading resource in the evaluation of amateur baseball talent and draft coverage, has ranked Stephen Strasburg the #1 prospect in the 2009 MLB Draft. View his free scouting report (with video) at withthefirstpick.net/stephen-strasburg

Posted by: bhyman1 | April 27, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

twinbrook - I was kidding about the Series.
cokedispatch - Avery had a few very nice years for the Braves during their run ('91-'93 in particular). If Lannan could give us an Avery-like performance for several years, he could be a great contributor to what could be a very successful starting rotation. I'll take it.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 27, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Well, thanks for the salient information, byhman1 (for what, the third time now?).

I thought initially you must be Strasburg's mom, but only an agent would this persistent in pumping P.R. So, Scott, getting a little desperate to regain the luster that you lost with the Manny Ramirez fiasco?

Posted by: joebleux | April 27, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for pointing that out, 506.

It's hard to imagine that song being more offensive, but there you are.

-----

Unfortunately, the lyrics as written by Marshall's wife were "fight for old Dixie" because the Skins were the Southern Team. The old bigot only changed them after he was forced to integrate his team.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 27, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Once the pitching rotation is solid, thats 80% of the solution. The rest won't be nearly as hard to accomplish. Pitchers can be so delicate and getting 4 or 5 to stand up over time is the most difficult task to accomplish. If you can get 3 and then just add a # 4 or 5 each season, you should be competetive. Hopefully, with a bit of good luck, we're almost there.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 27, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Is there a reason to hate on Lannan? I don't get it, plenty of teams have had plenty of times up against him and are still having trouble. That usually means he's a good pitcher, no matter what the speed of his pitches.

It doesn't matter to me how fast the fastball went in if it goes out just as fast.

Posted by: Section506 | April 27, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Re: Hill.

In a world full of uncertainty and worry, it is comforting to take note of these death-and-taxes realisms:

1. Nats start out 6-and-20.
2. Manny sez everything is fine.
3. Shawn "Dr. Andrews will see you now" Hill on the DL by May 1.

Rizzo may have made some mistakes with this club. But Pattersoning Shawn Hill is not among them. Addition by subtraction.

Now, about D-Cab...

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 27, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Now, about D-Cab...

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 27, 2009 1:28 PM |


Send him down to the minors and let him work on becoming a reliever. Sign Pedro.

Posted by: FloresFan | April 27, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

D-Cab stays for now. Why? Because who replaces him? If you say Pedro, I'm not even going to respond to you.

Posted by: Section506 | April 27, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Is there a reason to hate on Lannan?

Posted by: Section506 | April 27, 2009 1:20 PM

I don't think anyone is hating on him just not giving him due credit.

Its no easy task being the #1 going against other team's #1's and also getting minimal run support.

Lannan gets Cole Hamels tomorrow in Philly and both have 0-2 records. W/L records don't always tell the whole story as Lannan has given up only 1 run in his last 13 1/3 innings.

With all the Lefty/Lefty matchups against Philly, I am looking forward to a great pitching performance from John!

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 27, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"D-Cab stays for now. Why? Because who replaces him? If you say Pedro, I'm not even going to respond to you."

Kip Wells

Posted by: RickFelt | April 27, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Sign Pedro.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 27, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Mets clubhouse is in shambles. New York media tired of talking to David Wright while the don't ask me culprits continue to hide behind the "no speak englese" trick. Omar you are the ruination of a franchise, now you have done it to two!

Nats Fans imagine if Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, & Brandon Phillips were still part of the mix.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | April 27, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

usmc53 -- understood. My intention was to point out there slight rather than question your optimism. I actually feel pretty good about our future too. If only we could cash out one of our outfielders for a second baseman or a closer.

Posted by: twinbrook | April 27, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I think most folks would say Minaya worked wonders for the Expos... running a team owned by its 29 other competitors and no budget? Theose Nats who surprised us the first few years were built by Omar. If you want to point fingers as to who ruined this franchise, look no further than Bud.

Of course, he's seems to get a pass -- just like he has on the steroid mess. Bud and company encouraged steroid use by looking the other way in an attempt to recover from the travesty of the '94 season.

But I digresss... Omar did well here. As for NY, if Perez, Maine, and Murphy don't start performing better, Omar's done.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 27, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

"D-Cab stays for now. Why? Because who replaces him? If you say Pedro, I'm not even going to respond to you."

Heck, I'd even take Ballester over DCab right about now.

Posted by: erocks33 | April 27, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

OUtsider6... What?

Minaya ran this franchise into the ground. He was Bud's stooge - he's the patsy that took the job in Montreal to get the gig in NYC.

He traded away: Jason Bay, Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Chris Young (the pitcher) for no players who are with the Nats now, and only 1 player left who is even in the majors.

For all the Nats jokes we suffer from here - add those 5 names to the Nats roster and tell me how much of a joke we'd be?

Posted by: comish4lif | April 27, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

About those "clutch" stats: I'm too lazy to look up the league-wide numbers, but you do need them for this to make any sense.

It's like the time Drysdale, flying ahead of the team to get rested before a start, was met at the airport by reporters, who told him Koufax had pitched a no-hitter. Drysdale deadpanned, "Who won?"

And we ought to be able to get the numbers against starting pitchers only, which could rule out "clutch = hitting against the bullpen."

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 27, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Comish, no one disagrees he ran it into the ground, under orders. The point is, if he hadn't, some one else would have done the same, if not worse.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 27, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

re Cabrera: I think (Dibble?) was right--if he can't hit the strike zone at this point, he needs to reboot in A ball.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 27, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I was sorry to see Hill released but not surprised. My initial reaction was what did the Nats have to lose by keeping him around a couple of months to see if things worked out?. Seems the answer is a couple of months of development time for a kid pitcher or blending in a veteran. Really hope Shawn can overcome his physical problems but the Nats don't have the luxury of holding a place open. I think the talk about his release being payback for going to arbitration is bogus. I'm sure they would love to have a productive Shawn Hill for $750K.

Oh, by the way, no one is talking much about R-Zimm's hitting streak. I have a feeling that is just fine with him. Could it be that protecting him with bats that have some pop is letting him concentrate on hitting and not having to be the FOF? Might also be the cure for his slow starts of the past.

Posted by: SackMan | April 27, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Livan Hernandez, Brian Schnieder, Ryan Church, Endy Chavez ...
I don't think we'll be hearing Omar say "Gin!" anytime soon.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 27, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Fact is, Omar ran the Expos franchise into the ground - but he did have a lot of help from MLB. They let Loria take the computers and data w/ him to Montreal.

Maybe someone could have run the franchise into the ground in a worse way - but in getting no value for the 5 big players that got away (Phillips, Bay, Sizemore, Lee and Young), I don't know how you could do worse than to get nothing in return....

Posted by: comish4lif | April 27, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Ryan Church and Brian Schneider for Lastings Milledge. I saw Omar got the better of that deal (as it looks now).

If Ryan Church didn't have that concussion last year, he may have been an All Star.

They are utilizing him much smarter as he generally sits against lefty pitchers.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 27, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

granted, it would be hard to do *much* worse. I think it's more accurate to say MLB ran the Expos into the ground, and they had a lot of help from Minaya.

Speaking of Dibble, does he not like St. Claire, or just, as a former reliever, doesn't like *anybody* coming out to the mound? He was openly critical of the visits again. Not saying he's wrong, it just stands out.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 27, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

dmacman, it looks that way at this point, doesn't it? But he needed to get the better of it, because he has to win, or else. If they weren't the guys he needed, and I don't think they were, then it's a wash. and Milledge might yet amount to something. It could happen.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 27, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Dibble was also very critical of Randy because he gave Zimmermann scouting reports and taught him how to use the video machine to prepare. Dibble said to just leave the kid alone and let him do what he does. He'll figure it out.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 27, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone here not see Lannan as part of the long-term rotation (barring injuries, etc.)?

I think that Strasburg-Zimmermann-Lannan-Martis-Somebody is a terrific young rotation. If Lannan could get ANY run support at all when he's on the hill, he'd have had a nice year last year, and he'd be 2-1 this year.

I actually feel better when Lannan takes the hill than I do when Martis goes out there. I feel like Martis has flirted with a good bit of danger in his starts. Lannan's last two starts have been gems; he should have won them both. The only problem I have when Lannan starts is that I know the team isn't going to hit, for some reason.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 27, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Dibble was practically frothing in anger that they send Z'nn out for the sixth -- he felt that given his youth, pitch count (around 90, I think) and time of year, that he should have been done after 5.

That surprised me; I would have expected Dibble to have an old school "bleep the pitch count" attitude.

Posted by: joebleux | April 27, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Lannan
Zimmermann
Strasburg
Martis
and a guy named Olsen as the Nats still control him through 2011

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 27, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Dibble likes being behind the microphone. I never know what to expect out of his mouth.

Another nice thing for him is No blown saves from the TV booth.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 27, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Chico wrote yesterday: "No team gets this sort of seamless functionality every day, of course. But for the Nats, they at least must be happy to prove the possibility exists."

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, once if you use a 24-hour clock.

Posted by: BoteMan | April 27, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I am looking forward to seeing the posts from everyone who has been lambasting the Nationals for letting him go.

As for yesterday's game, for one day, they looked like the best team in baseball.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 27, 2009 8:47 AM
---------------------------------------------

OK -- I'll step up to the plate. It does sound as if Hill wasn't as pain-free as the reports suggested just prior to his release. To some extent, that might justify Rizzo's call with respect to Hill. However, I'd still roll the dice on Hill over Cabrera seven days a week and twice on Sunday.

I do think there is a good chance that Hill has not been well served by his doctors. Dr. Andrews is highly regarded, but it seems to me he has whiffed a few times, too. Hopefully, Hill gets the answers he's been looking for all along.

Posted by: fischy | April 27, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

The NY Times also has a unique Op-Ed piece, penned by Doug Glanville. It's about his friend (and former National), Marlon Anderson, who was suddenly the odd man out when the Mets signed Gary Sheffield.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/opinion/27glanville-released.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

Posted by: fischy | April 27, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Multiply the Cabrera frustrations by four and you know what it's like to be a Mets fan.

Posted by: Section506 | April 27, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

A few observations from the Nats weekend in NY.

I should preface my comments by stating that I live in CT just outside of NYC so the I had the NY Mets feed of our series this weekend in NY.

(1) It really annoying to listen to those Met announcers. They were so condescending and insulting of the Nats. They ridiculed Dukes to no end concerning his play on Friday and Saturday.

(2) I am getting tired of the media trying to set up Dukes. We know this kid lacks social skills. I suppose a few of us might have issues dealing with the media if we were raised in a crack addicted family and our father was in jail for murder. Anyway I resent the way the media sought him out, particular the NY media , after his error on Saturday. What did they want Dukes to say. They knew he was explosive and wanted to egg him on. I thought that was cheap, particulalry the dolt who wrote for the Daily News.

(3) After watching the Mets this weekend, I would wager that we should easily take our series with them by a margin of 12 games to 6. That alone would make my year.

(4) It made my day when the Nats beat these a-holes. It shut up their announcers. They said nothing when Murphy screwed himself into the ground but the ridiculed Dukes even when he was not playing on Sunday.

Posted by: mjames0 | April 27, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I am looking forward to seeing the posts from everyone who has been lambasting the Nationals for letting him go.

As for yesterday's game, for one day, they looked like the best team in baseball.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 27, 2009 8:47 AM

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I still think it was a mistake to release Hill. The Nats were paying very little money for a pitcher with more talent than anybody on their current roster. He already has as many wins as any pitcher on the Nats staff. All he needs to give you is 10 good starts to make him worth his contract. Instead we have Olsen on the roster, who can't get through an opposing lineup twice without getting shelled. Or we have D-Cab who can't find the strikezone with a flashlight, and is afraid to use his only asset (his velocity) because he's trying to find his control. When Hill is healthy, he is a much better pitcher than either of those 2 options. When he's on the DL, you have the same rotation the Nats are working with now; when he's healthy you are a better ball club with him even if that's only 2 starts at a time. We had already signed him for this season, if he still never gets healthy then the Nats could have non-tendered him in the '09-'10 offseason. But this year even sporadic starts from Hill gives the Nats a better rotation and a stronger ballclub. The Nats had nothing to lose by keeping Hill despite his injury problems, he could only make them better. Why throw a cheap, no risk option like that away?

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | April 27, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

1. The number of atbats Chico uses to analyze Flores's performance is far too few to draw any conclusions.

2. Chico conveniently leaves out Flores's 2007 numbers with and without runners on. They suggest he does not have "clutch" ability.

3. Looking at performance with runners on and with nobody on is a poor way of categorizing clutch and non-clutch situations. "Runners on" could be "man on first, 2 outs, 1st inning," which is not really a high pressure situation. Conversely, leading off the bottom of the 9th with your team down by one would be a very high pressure, clutch situation. If you're going to evaluate clutch hitting, you need to use a better definition.

Posted by: bowie_cone | April 27, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

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