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Some Monday Morning Thoughts

What we are seeing here is the impact of Mike Rizzo and Stan Kasten making decisions. And a lot of them. With Jim Bowden gone. The collective wisdom of baseball humanity claims that this should be a significant improvement. Just anti-Jimbo bias? We'll see.

Excellent that Ryan Zimmerman has signed. That goes to Kasten. It's his deal. The price is fine -- $9 million a year. He hasn't proven he's a star. But if he has five years in a row that are no better than his first two years -- 100 RBI, 70-or-more EBH, hit .280 and fine defense -- then it will be a bargain, assuming normal baseball salary inflation. If he gets better, it's a steal. If he gets hurt...hey, they can all get hurt. That's not part of the equation when you make decisions about the young star. Zim wanted $55M for six years. So, $45M for five shouldn't make him unhappy.

This is all of a piece with the sense that ownership got the penny-wise message over the winter after 102 loses (and seeing what would happen to ticket sales). If they'd bought into all of this two years ago, as virtually everybody -- outside and inside the organization told them to -- this Sunday's crowd of 16,000-plus (and all that it symbolizes) might have been avoided. Both Kasten and Bowden, in different ways at different times, tried to deliver the message that they should have added a front-line (not superstar) player or two after '06 and '07. By the time they got Adam Dunn and Joe Beimel this year, they were at least one, and perhaps two off-seasons behind. Those are the kind of players -- one (Dunn) very good, but imperfect and available; the other (Beimel) very useful but not flashy -- that they should have added BEFORE they entered a new park. But sometimes we have to Lerner our lessons the hard way. But maybe they have been learned. And in time for the No. 1 pick.

*Okay, we all screamed all winter that the Nats were TWO arms short in the bullpen, not one. They lost Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch and Luis Ayala since last April. A strong bullpen became a thin and weak one. Beimel was necessary, but not sufficient. Ever since the Nats came to town, they have been a continuous tryout camp for reclamation projects and late-bloomers and long-shot high-ceiling Wily Mos. Last year, Steven Shell, whose entire career says he's a AAA sidearm slopballer -- and your eyes tell you the same thing -- had uncharacteristically perfect mechanics, hit spots like he never had and put up excellent numbers. The Nats just felt that he deserved the chance to prove (and they were curious to see) if he'd "found it." Or if he'd go back to his old self. Wil Ledezma's always driven everybody crazy -- power lefty arm, no control, implodes. Same with him. "Let's find out."

The "Natinals" -- I will never forget those uniforms on Zim, Dunn and Dukes, we can only pray it symbolizes a low point, not an eternal state of being -- have been a kind of AAAA team for the last thre years. And with some good reason. If you can steal a few diamonds in the rough at low cost, then who cares whether you lose five extra games a year while you hold your "MLB tryouts" in Washington?

But, once again, the experiment, like the low-low-budget '08 team, blew up in their faces. Pitchers who were both better in Florida in March and who simply had better stuff/command/careers were sent to Syracuse because they had options while Shell was given a chance to duplicate '08 and Ledezma was given his Last Chance. That's fine if your record is 5-6 or even 4-7. But the Nats just never get lucky when they try to skate on thin ice, do they? When you're 1-10, it turns out to be a big mistake to give away even one or two wins that your Best 25 Players might have provided.

Sorry to see Saul go out in the purge. Sure, a 3.72 ERA in 215 games in three years isn't stellar bullpen work. But it's valuable, especially when you're durable and give up few home runs. But he's messed up. More likely mechanics that his arm. His stuff and movement looked normal Sunday. Just no command at all. When he started HBP-HBP-HR against the Phils, that wasn't him. That was somebody who'd stolen his uniform. It will be a lot easier for him to find himself at Syracuse, not facing Ryan Howard.

Everybody in the so-called New Bullpen has been a starting pitcher -- and fairly recently, too. Mock, Bergmann and Wells. This gives you more bullpen length in extra-inning games. Twice this weekend, Acta has been in danger of running out of pitching by the 11th inning or so. And this is April! Now he has arms he can stretch out for two to three innings, if needed.

That's far too much for now. Looking forward to Jiordan Zimmermann tonight, if the rain lets up. The "Natinals" finally have both Zimmerman and Zimmermann. With all the different uniform styles that all teams use now (to try to sell more team merchandise), how long can it be before the names on the back of their jerseys get reversed? I give it a month.

By Tom Boswell  |  April 20, 2009; 10:30 AM ET
 
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Next: A Press Conference, Tonight's Lineups

Comments

Great article...hoping to get a glimpse of zimmermann tonight

Posted by: theredskin | April 20, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Love seeing you here on the blog, Boz. Thanks so much and keep it up.

Posted by: smo06 | April 20, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Amusing and insightful, Boz, thanks.

Is anyone else not at all pleased to see Mock back? I'm still scarred by that one game against the Pirates last year...

Posted by: Section506 | April 20, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone think Zimmerman's being rushed up here in light of this weekend's debacle my worry is that the kid will be under pressure given this teams one win ten loss record.Any thoughts?

Posted by: dargregmag | April 20, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

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

They may be rushing him but not because of this weekend. They've been planning to bring him up this weekend since spring training.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 20, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I was at the park for yesterday's disaster and am relieved that they blew up the pen. I just couldn't watch those guys anymore. I think everyone in the park, including the teams on the field, believed the "Natinals" would lose as we went into the 9th and so it was. There is so much to work on--errors, leaving so many stranded runners--but the pen was the biggest mess in need of action. No idea if the replacements will be better, but they could scarcely be worse. I'm also very glad they signed R Zimm--if he wants to stay here (Lord knows why) then maybe there's hope...

Posted by: NatsFly | April 20, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I would be happier signing Ryan Zimmerman if I thought he could throw from third to first.

Posted by: Section506 | April 20, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

The whole thing with the "Natinals" on the uniform is the kind of thing that really gets under my skin. Why? Because it shows that there is no quality - and no consequences
- from the temperature of the hot dogs,
- to the uniforms on the players,
- to the play on the field.

If I was Zimmerman or Dunn, I wouldn't take the field in a uniform missing a letter.

This goes all the way up to old man Lerner and he, or someone, needs to get a handle on this soon. Before it spirals out of control. What? We're already 1-10, well, there you go, the death spiral.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 20, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

An observation: we can still surpass 2007's 9-17 April start. They were 2-9 going 11 games into the season (April 13) and 9-25 on May 10.

Posted by: Section506 | April 20, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

"If they'd bought into all of this two years ago, as virtually everybody -- outside and inside the organization told them to -- this Sunday's crowd of 16,000-plus (and all that it symbolizes) might have been avoided. Both Kasten and Bowden, in different ways at different times, tried to deliver the message that they should have added a front-line (not superstar) player or two after '06 and '07."

Easy for you to say, Boz. But who were the front-line (not superstar) players they could have added over the past two years? (By free agency, of course, since addition by trade also involves a subtraction, which may or may not result in a net improvement.) As I recall, not all that much was available in the two offseasons preceding this past one. Prior to the 2007 season, all the buzz was saying that the Nats should be going after Gil Meche. Prior to 2008, it was Aaron Rowand. That's the level of what they could have gotten. Are you seriously saying that the addition of those two players (or players of that caliber) would have made much difference at all in how the last two seasons played out? And do you seriously consider players of that caliber as drawing cards for casual fans who wouldn't otherwise come to games? Charismatic Alfonso Soriano types they're clearly not, wouldn't you agree?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 20, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I was just thinking about how much money $9 million a year is. It's pretty average for a good player but ho hum, it's nothing like Sabathia money.

But holy smokes that is still a lot of freakin' money. Take away, say, 30% for taxes and that's still $525,000 *A MONTH*!!!

We read these million-dollar numbers thrown around so much it's easy to forget how much it really is. Sigh. What we could do with a fraction of that.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 20, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

$55m for 6 years wouldn't have been bad.

Posted by: dclifer | April 20, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

"The "Natinals" -- I will never forget those uniforms on Zim, Dunn and Dukes, we can only pray it symbolizes a low point, not an eternal state of being -- have been a kind of AAAA team for the last thre years."

And geez, Boz, if you're going to rag on anyone for spelling mistakes, you know you ought to at least proofread one sentence of what you write to be sure you're not making a spelling mistake of your own. Wouldn't you think?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 20, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

The next big move will be Acta. If in two weeks the Nats are 2-20, it will be a one coach shake up. I like him, but it is long past time for him to be throwing some bats and chairs in the locker room.

Posted by: Batboy05 | April 20, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

"We read these million-dollar numbers thrown around so much it's easy to forget how much it really is. Sigh. What we could do with a fraction of that."

Sabathia will get about $700K per start (before taxes and not including the post-season). But, of course, then there was Clemens in 2007.

http://www.listafterlist.com/ListResults/tabid/57/ListID/7031/Default.aspx

Roger Clemens salary for the remainder of the 2007 MLB season is $28,000,022 (pro-rated at $19 million). Here is how much money Roger Clemens is making this year when you break it down to minutes and pitches:
Per Month - $4.5 million
Per Day - $147,451
Per Hour - $6,147.54
Per Minute - $102.46

Hypothetical based on averages
Per Start - $1 million
Per Inning - $142,857
Per Out - $47,619
Per Pitch - $10,526

Posted by: dclifer | April 20, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

So am I the only who had a passing thought that the missing O's for Dunn and Zimmerman might have been the result of a prank? I didn't realize that Dukes was also missing his O.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 20, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Tracee, FYI, the NatsCast link doesn't show today's NatsCast.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 20, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I also wonder if the forecast and the fact that Zimmermann's start got pushed back were factors in yesterday's attendance.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 20, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Do not knock signing Gilga Meche. It would have turned out to be epic.

But seriously, no one was clamoring for Meche. Kudos to the Royals for helping him figure things out and become a solid #2 starter.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 20, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

This team is much better than its record. They should have swept the hottest team in baseball. To even be in a position to say that before the bullpen implosions means something. Those were some quality starters that the Marlins sent out there. How excited would everyone be then?

The lineup has professional hitters - no more mind-numbing Kasto/Belliard first base platoons, etc. During the 4th inning yesterday, Dibble mentioned that Volstad had thrown a lot of pitches and the Nats could get him out of the game early by working the count, etc. Dunn, Dukes, Kearns come up and each saw 5-6 pitches and delivered a couple walks and a hit, I think. Sure, Flores and Gonzalez failed to deliver, which contributed mightily to the result, but this is so much better than last year, it isn't even close. And many in this lineup are young enough to be part of a winning team, so it isn't just old retreads doing this. If Dukes and Johnson can play 140 games this year (no slam dunk, obviously), this lineup will be competitive. And at least we have Willingham to essentially take one of their slots, if they do get hurt.

The overall pitching is behind, for sure, but Lannan can pitch, Olsen's velocity is creeping up, and Martis does not look overwhelmed. That is a start. All in all, this is still progress towards that first winning DC team in a few years, despite the obvious pain now. The biggest improvement to their pitching that they can make right away is to play some feckin' defense. Watch how better their pitching looks if they make all the plays that they are supposed to, plus a few that are above average.
I just hope that management doesn't panic. Attendance is going to be way down this year - I bet that they struggle to get to 2m; Rizzo is auditioning for a job, Acta is trying to keep his. This could be a recipe for some really bad short term-focused decisions.

Posted by: Willy2 | April 20, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Clemens actually gave them:
17 Starts ($1.117m per start)
99 Innings Pitched ($191,919 per inning)

Posted by: dclifer | April 20, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Things change when there is a sense of responsibility and lack of excuses. I would hope we can look back at this moment 5 years from now as the low point in which "The Plan" was torn up and things starting moving in the right direction.

The main problem is, look who we are bringing up from the minors. All this young talent we were supposed to be stock-piling during the losing years has never materialized. We are still bringing up career minor league players rather than developing future major league players.

Posted by: Tom8 | April 20, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

"If I was Zimmerman or Dunn, I wouldn't take the field in a uniform missing a letter."

Someone needs to find out the real story of this whole NATINALS thing. It's easy enough to see that mistakes could be made on jerseys shipped to the team. But are we really to believe that not one but three players unknowingly put on jerseys that had the name on the front spelled wrong, and that neither they nor anyone else noticed the mistake before the game and told them to put on a different jersey? Clearly different jerseys for those three guys were available, because they all showed up with correctly-spelled uniform shirts with their names and numbers on them less than halfway through the game. My theory is that the guys all found the misspelled jerseys in the uniform bags they were issued and decided to wear them onto the field as a bit of a joke. Baseball players do like a good joke from time to time, don't they? Or maybe it was a practical joke played on the three of them by someone else, maybe another player. This might have been a good story worthy of a couple days press, except for the blown save weekend that has cast a pall over everything else right now.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 20, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"But seriously, no one was clamoring for Meche. Kudos to the Royals for helping him figure things out and become a solid #2 starter.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity"

You obviously weren't reading the same Nats blogs and boards as I was during the winter of 2006-07. There was lots of clamoring for Meche. In fact, he was pretty much the poster boy for the whole "Lerners are cheap" crowd.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 20, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Love these quick hits, Bos. Thank you and please keep them coming. After this weekend we all need some therapy and any glimmer of hope that may be out there.

Posted by: dlombardo1 | April 20, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Guys, Majestic makes the uniforms and its their quality control that should be in question so if that is the worst thing that happens then so be it otherwise it was a fun distraction and no big deal and those retired uniforms are already worth more as a collectible.

The big deal is the play on the field. Many of us in the area lived through the O's losing their first 21 games to start a season in 1988 just 21 short years ago. This Nationals team started off bad and will get better.

This team now is getting good starting pitching and a lot of hits (just not timely). Bullpens implode all the time --just not 3 days in a row so the ship will be righted and this team needs to roll off a few wins in a row.

No need to panic (yet)....

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 20, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

The uniform thing is a symbolic problem. That kind of thing happens all the time...to all teams. The play on the field is the real problem. People are getting tired of hearing words like "upside" and "potential" when it comes to our players. We want to see results!

Posted by: Howelsewouldateacherspendhistimeinthesummer | April 20, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Yes, but when the O's lost 21 it was a blessing . . .
_____________________________
Many of us in the area lived through the O's losing their first 21 games to start a season in 1988 just 21 short years ago.

Posted by: lowcountry | April 20, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Best (unintentional) headline summary of the series with the fish: Sheinin's "Three Up, Three Down" over on Baseball Insider. Compounded by the irony that that's how you'd like to be able to describe the top of the 9th for the home team.

Posted by: joebleux | April 20, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I was going to go to the park yesterday but I anticipated what happened. I sure am glad I didn't go. This year I am going to see one game because, unfortunatley, I already purchased the ticket. However, I would have gone yesterday if Zimmermann had pitched. Why do I have a funny feeling that it all worked out for the best, anyway!

Posted by: Pete433 | April 20, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Ryan Z signing is worth a three game Marlins implosion to me.

I would be happier with the bullpen blow up if I thought it would cure all. But Manny Acta is still managing the team, and seems to have a deal with Satan to be sure that a AAA outfielder is in the outfield at all times. Why was Dukes pulled for 'defense' yesterday? Why is Dunn being taken out in the sixth and seventh inning of one-run games? Why is Alex Cintron considered a better option to pinch hit with runners on base in the late innings than Josh Willingham? Why does no one ask Manny Acta these questions? All of this is far more important than a misprint on jerseys.

Posted by: raymitten | April 20, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

http://podcasting.fia.net/5868/3601313.mp3

Crazy Horse with the Axeman


Posted by: nova_g_man | April 20, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I have never been one to go after the Lerners for being cheap, but even more to their discredit, they are running an incompetent organization. From top to bottom and side to side: The on field team, the management, the brick and mortar, the television, the marketing,...

Spending money is not the only way to solve problems, so I won't assume that more money would resolve the issues. However, the focus on quality and results comes from the top. It requires leadership. If the Lerners think they are providing it, they are wrong. Look behind you, if no one is following, you're not leading. Ask yourself why?

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 20, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

NatsCast:

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

Posted by: Juan-John | April 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Great take Boz. Thanks for adding to NJ!

Posted by: phillip4 | April 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Great points except for the perpetual lament about not spending in past years. THIS was the year in which to spend, and they did it in the right place, hitting.

Defense is a huge problem right now. As my Alaskan friend Wigi points out, better defense would conserve some arms and maybe have saved one or two guys' jobs.

And why is the defense bad? Most signs point to Manny having lost the team. (As you warned last June, Boz.)

Posted by: Hendo1 | April 20, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Bowden may be gone but the damage he did will live on for years. Blame the Lerners for extending his contract when they bought the team. Now, we need to get rid of Manny Acta.

Posted by: bupbups | April 20, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"The main problem is, look who we are bringing up from the minors. All this young talent we were supposed to be stock-piling during the losing years has never materialized. We are still bringing up career minor league players rather than developing future major league players."

I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding permeating the blog on the definition of words like "stock-piling" and "losing years." Anyone who thinks an organization can rebuild from nothing in two years is a fool. Anyone who thinks one great draft and one decent draft creates a stockpile is a fool.

What's happening is all our great minor league efforts - Zimmerman, Chico, Zimmermann, Lannan - are turning up on our major league roster and playing like minor leaguers because... they are. Though, I have to say, those four I mentioned above made a decent case for being in the majors.

So you have a major league team playing with AAA talent, a AAA team playing with AA talent, a AA team playing--

You get the point.

You then need to go out and get even more talent in drafts and trades. The major league team may be able to become competitive in two to three years, but it will be a decade before we can start using words like "stockpiled" in reference to our system.

The 2005 Nationals were essentially an expansion team, minus the benefit of an expansion draft. And the major league team was designed to sparkle real bright to win a suitor, but the organization was not built to actually carry out baseball.

Posted by: Section506 | April 20, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"And why is the defense bad? Most signs point to Manny having lost the team. (As you warned last June, Boz.)"

Alberto Gonzales - who wasn't even here last June and who's an injury substitute to boot - making three errors in two days is a result of Manny having lost the team?

Poor outfield defense from Adam Dunn, who was brought on board knowing that was part of his total package, is a result of Manny having lost the team?

Repeated instances of Zimmerman going Chuck Knoblauch with his throws is a result of Manny having lost the team? (Was Knoblauch a result of Torre having lost the Yankees?)

Two errors by Anderson Hernandez when he's forced to come back prematurely from a DL stint due to injuries to other players is a result of Manny having lost the team?

Is Nick Johnson's great defense at first a result of Manny not quite having lost the whole team?

Come on, Hendo. You're better than that kind of mindless analysis.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 20, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

"sense that ownership got the penny-wise message over the winter after 102 loses"
-------------------------------------------------

YOur sensory apparatus isn't working too well.

"Penny-wise"????!!!???

Exhibit A -- the most glaring example of a penny-wise, dollar-foolish decision in team history occurred this Spring, right after they canned Bowden. Letting Shawn Hill go, to save less than $700,000 -- gives no meaning to penny-wise in baseball economics. That salary was cheap even for a wounded pigeon. One with Hill's talent? And, on this team, with the joke of a rotation they were planning on sending out instead?

They got plenty of stupid still going around in the front office.

About the "Natinals" thing -- if you listened to the radio-cast yesterday (I caught an inning on the radio), Charlie and Dave were commenting on the new team flags flying around the stadium. They tried to find the Arizona Diamondbacks flag. They decided it was behind a light-pole or something -- between the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox flags. Apparently, the Nats can't spell, and can't alphabetize, either. They don't know that Arizona comes before Atlanta, using alphabetic order. Truly a Mickey Mouse organization.

Posted by: fischy | April 20, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Oops -- my bad -- I mean "gives NEW meaning to penny-wise in baseball economics."

Posted by: fischy | April 20, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

section506, thank you!

i'm getting worried about flores not hitting, and the pitching staff has been terrible.

Posted by: longterm | April 20, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Bowden may be gone but the damage he did will live on for years. Blame the Lerners for extending his contract when they bought the team. Now, we need to get rid of Manny Acta.

Posted by: bupbups | April 20, 2009 12:34 PM
---------------------------------------------

How about the damage Rizzo has done in just over a month? 1) Cutting loose the best starting pitcher in the organization; and 2) Sending down Bergmann and Mock, who were terrific in the Spring, to keep up some guys who didn't look ready to pitch, because they were out of options.

If Bowden would not have done these things, I'd prefer Bowden.

Posted by: fischy | April 20, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

"Defense is a huge problem right now"

i REALLY, REALLY HATE to agree with nunof1 (this is, and will be, the first, last and only time). the defense is fine. nick is great. zimmerman will solve the whatever. the two boys in the middle WILL settle down. both can play defense. forget dunn. dukes has been good, including the arm (his fantastic throw from RF a few games back?). kearns throw was first-rate, and he will be highlighted often. forget the knock on our defense. give it time.

but what kind of dive was that by maxwell? he made milledge look twinkle-toesy. please don't dive and miss by so much again? thanks/

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 20, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Boz, come on. You cherry-pick his first two years of stats as if the third year did not count. Zimmerman's fine defense -- you mean but for the throwing part, I guess. The potential for this deal to be a "steal" would mean that Zimmerman explodes for numbers beyond Markakis and for several years -- likely tough to do. But, the most ridiculous thing you wrote was "Zim wanted $55M for six years. So, $45M for five shouldn't make him unhappy."

Zim had no bargaining power AT ALL, but to play well and not get hurt in order to force the club to pay him beyond 2011, much less to pay him more than about $7.5 per for 2010 and 2011 (and he would have HAD to play well and not gotten hurt to get that much). Zim almost tripled his 09 money and got another $35 Million+ to boot, guaranteed. If Zim is unhapy with this deal, he'll never be happy.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 20, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

speaking of lastings mendoza .....

.167 for us.
.182 for syracuse, including .000 against lefthanders.

one of the lefthanders he faced was casey fossum, who throws in the 60s and 70s, but who also THREW 51 MPH AGAINST MILLEDGE.

"The Mets called up LHP Casey Fossum after today's game. Fossum had made two starts for the Bisons, giving up just one run in 11 innings, striking out 12 and walking five.

love moyer-like, guile pitchers. we sort of have a crafty one in tavarez, except that his fast ball often reaches and surpasses olsen's.


NatsNut: "And, my gawd, the patience at the plate."

so true. we had nick. dunn is super-nick-patient, and the whole thing is contagious. we are driving starters nuts with the 20-30 pitch innings. then we hit and get ahead. such a pattern is great to watch.


Posted by: nova_g_man | April 20, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

The Natinals, because it's time to get the Os out of Washingtn.

Posted by: DesertNat | April 20, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry about Flores yet, here's his hits per game since the beginning of the season, with PH appearances noted:

2
2
1
0
0 (PH)
0
0
2
0 (PH)
1

That's not what you would see if he was truly struggling at the plate, that's just the numbers taking some time to settle down. There's nothing to send up a flag, it's perfectly normal in April.

Unless, of course, it's not. But we won't know that for another two weeks.

Posted by: Section506 | April 20, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

The question Boz, "Who is doing the evaluations of the pitching arms in the Nationals organization?"

It isn't the starters, the first time through was tough but Lannan improved so did Olsen, Danny C and Martis. They have all improved greatly.

But this ragtag bullpen was a joke from day one. Shell, Ledzema, Taveras? Hinckley is a work in progress as is Hanrahan. Biemel needs to be given a nice extension now before he is gone for good. Ohman had been out there most of the off season and would have given them another good relief arm. Bergmann and Mock are still going to need work, Kip Wells should have been up from the start.

Finally, who was the one who decided to let Shawn Hill go???? But we keep Young? Great thinking there....So far Hill is doing great with the Padres.

Posted by: sazzwho | April 20, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Great to see you on the blog, Boz! I hope we see it more often this year.

Posted by: LetTeddyWin_com | April 20, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Willy2 - thanks for giving voice to how I'm seeing the team right now, too. I see a team that's 1-10 that's three games behind their pythag. record (based on runs scored v. runs allowed), a team that's solidly in the top half of offensive teams despite getting basically terrible production from spots 1, 7 and 8, and a team who's young starters after a rough first turn have looked better in turns #2 and #3. They look to me like they're rounding into the mediocrity we'd thought they'd be - sure, it'd be a lot easier to see had they just swept instead of getting swept by the Marlins, but still, the structure is there.

And Tom8 - I'm not sure I'm seeing what you're seeing - what I'm seeing is the guys who are being sent down are older, career AAAA guys (Saul - 31; Ledezma - 28; Bard - 31). Only Shell has a whiff of youthy prospectiness about him at 26 and as Boz says, he's always looked like a sidearmy slopballer. The guys brought up are younger, except for Wells who is 32. (ZNN - 22; Mock - 25; Bergmann - 27) To all accounts, they also performed better during Spring Training but were left out for a numbers game. Now that those who are up have proved that they don't have it, it's time to let those that performed better (and are younger and perhaps more talented) have a shot. I don't see that as a fundamental problem - I see it as journeymen players who were brought in as stopgaps giving way to younger guys who have performed better in those roles. Isn't that exactly what is supposed to happen?

Also, as for not stockpiling young talent, Zimm^2, Dukes, Flores, Lannan, Milledge, and Martis are all under 25, talented and weren't in the organization in 2005, to say nothing of Burgess, Norris, Nieto, Marerro, Stammen, and even still Detwiler - not as many or as fast as we might have liked, but still not the "worse than nothing" vision some folks here seem to have.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 20, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

flores being hurt all spring training may have been the nail in the coffin to start this season. my preseason predictions posted here were that he'd strike out about 150 times this year. but i didn't expect him to strikeout every other at bat.

i'm pulling for him but i just think he's being overlooked in here so far. just trying to spread the blame around i guess...

the zimmerman contract still makes little sense to me. it appears like a reward for not causing trouble and hoping he lives up to it. we definitely overpaid. not that i care. we can overpay for everyone and i'd be fine with it if we are good. i just never want to hear a contract or existing salary structure prevents us from getting pieces we need. it just seems nats threw a lot of money to make that discussion go away. nothing cheap about that extension.

just don't forget to blame the players. it's their play that is frustrating.

Posted by: longterm | April 20, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

> Why is Dunn being taken out in the sixth and seventh inning of one-run games? Why is Alex Cintron considered a better option to pinch hit with runners on base in the late innings than Josh Willingham? Why does no one ask Manny Acta these questions

Because the press is as lame as Acta, they're just picking up a paycheck. Or have we had this discussion before?
Or why he pulls his starters because he's counting pitches (beans) when he knows the bullpen can't carry the load every single night. I'm sitting here watching the O's - Red Sox game, and Trembly took out Hendrickson (SP) after five with the score 3-1. He puts in Sarfate and Radames Liz and now it's 11-1. The managers always talk about how important the starting pitching is, and they can't wait to yank them after 5. Sheer stupidity. Sure, let's blame the bullpen, why not - it's their fault they get run out there every single day without a break. I would make Acta come to the stadium today just to fire him. 'Uh, yeah, Manny, can you come in despite the rain?'. Rizzo's bringing up the same guys that had mediocre success as last year for our bullpen solution. He's next in the crosshairs, especially if he doesn't can Acta this week. But will the press ask the tough questions, or are they gonna wait for Debbie Taylor to ask some asinine fluff question first? The whole thing is amateur - the press, the team, the manager, the front office -- just a bunch of people collecting paychecks while the rest of us foot the bill.

Posted by: Brue | April 20, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

How come no comments on Bonifacio this week and his big 0-fer during the series.

If you dish it out, like many did when he was all-world the first week of the season, what are you feeling this week?

He looked like the same player that was in Washington at the end of 2008, which don't get me wrong, he can contribute to the Marlins team. Great speed and good defense and good against right-handed pitching and when he can get a bunt down will beat it out for a single.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 20, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

> I would make Acta come to the stadium today just to fire him. 'Uh, yeah, Manny, can you come in despite the rain?'.

You can bet that Acta has already been at the stadium for several hours now, rain or no rain. Unlike your man Davey Johnson who would be at Nordstrom picking out just the right tie to match the suit he'll be wearing the next time he begs off nmanaging his team in an important game so he can go to a wedding. (Can you say p*ssy-whipped?) There's way, way more to being a good manager than just talking tough, Brue.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 20, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

>Because it shows that there is no quality - and no consequences
- from the temperature of the hot dogs,
- to the uniforms on the players,
- to the play on the field.

I'll agree with that - I got a stone-cold BBQ sandwich the other night. I asked them to put it in the microwave and they just looked at me lol

Posted by: Brue | April 20, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

>So am I the only who had a passing thought that the missing O's for Dunn and Zimmerman might have been the result of a prank? I didn't realize that Dukes was also missing his O.

This one has legs. I think Angelos stole his O back. He has to get something for his 22 million.

Posted by: Brue | April 20, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Davey Johnson knows a thing or two about fabrics that can handle all of the Champagne that gets sprayed around winning locker rooms.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 20, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"Rizzo's bringing up the same guys that had mediocre success as last year for our bullpen solution. He's next in the crosshairs, especially if he doesn't can Acta this week."

Whoa, there Brue, it can't have been two months since you were singing the praises of Mike Rizzo, assistant GM, sure to fix everything as soon as they fired that Bowden twerp.

Surely, not even you're knee-jerk enough to fire a man who doesn't have the job yet and has yet to make any major inter-club moves.

Posted by: Section506 | April 20, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

To me, there's a bigger story from yesterday's game that no one is really focusing on, given the bullpen explosion. That story is 16,974 -- yesterday's announced paid attendance, which of course is based on tickets sold.

As far as I can tell, the Nats still have not released their season ticket numbers for the year and have only stated that they are "down." With yesterday's Pirates-like attendance, we now have an upper base for how many season tickets have been sold. Even if not one single person purchased a single-game ticket, the season ticket base is now below 17K. And if one assumes (I would think reasonably) that about 1,000 single game tickets were sold, the season ticket base could very well be below 16K.

That's gotta be more concerning to the front office than three consecutive blown ninth-inning leads.

Posted by: csp17 | April 20, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

That one was subtly brilliant, jca.

-----

Do not knock signing Gilga Meche. It would have turned out to be epic.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 20, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Zimmerman contract: That's a business decision, not a baseball one. They've got to demonstrate to the team, ticketholders and league that they're serious about spending...somewhere. As Boswell indicates, there's really not much risk in the contract they sent.

Pulling Dunn in late innings: Because he is an eff-ing nightmare in the field. The calculus the Nats' seem to have forced themselves into is Dunn will cost them a couple runs per game, but he'll bat in three or four, so it's worth it. In late innings, he's got more chances to cost them runs than earn them. (BTW, my prediction is by the end of the year, Dunn's signing will be seen as one of the disasters of the season -- unless the Nats can somehow trade him mid-season.)

--Yesterday's poor attendance: I think you nailed it, csp17. That is the biggest issue of all. Somehow, they have to start running the Nats like a big-league team with a lot of competition nearby (Redskins, Caps, Orioles)

Posted by: mvm2 | April 20, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"Davey Johnson knows a thing or two about fabrics that can handle all of the Champagne that gets sprayed around winning locker rooms.

Posted by: dfh21"

Yes, but does he still have what it takes to manage a team through 162+ games to get to a situation where champagne could be sprayed? Based on his performance managing Team USA in the recent WBC, I seriously doubt it. The guy is 66 years old after all, and hasn't managed a major league team for nearly a decade. Shades of Joe Gibbs Part Deux, except maybe for the closing of the eyes, getting down on the knees and praying at crucial game-deciding moments.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 20, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"I'll agree with that - I got a stone-cold BBQ sandwich the other night. I asked them to put it in the microwave and they just looked at me lol"

Idiot. Don't you know you're supposed to stick it under your armpit for a few minutes to warm it up? Does that have to be spelled out on the foil wrapping for you along with the government-mandated nutrition information?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 20, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

This year's attendance numbers will end up close to last year's (approx. 29,000 per game). The team just started with a 1 -- A BUNCH record and they had the lowest drawing team in basbeall history come into town for an April series.

There will be very strong crowds for the Phils and Mets series, the BoSox and Cubs will come close to sell-out crowds, the Bucs will draw above average as will Atlanta, St. Louis and Houston will out-draw Florida, no doubt, the O's will sell tickets, Manny Ramirez will be himself here,etc. They are a much more exciting team and they play a decent set of home games beyond the division (but for the Brewers, Jays and Padres), so the people will come around to some extent. Now, if they actually WIN a game here or there, that might help.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 20, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Can we please get off the Manny must go bandwagon? How many games do you people think he should have won with this talent? If he'd been given a real closer, the Nats would have a four game winning streak right now. Would you still want him fired then?

As for him not being tough enough on the players and not chewing out guys, get a clue. How many guys did Joe Gibbs chew out on the sidelines in public? Gee, maybe he had done that, he would have won more than three Super Bowls.

Dave Johnson??? Really??? Wouldn't some other team in the last EIGHT YEARS SINCE HE MANAGED IN THE BIG LEAGUES have given him a shot if he was such a good choice?

Acta has used the one tool you can use to get players to do what you want: he's taken away playing time. Ask Elijah Dukes.

Until the guy gets a competent team to manage or mismanage, give him a break.

Posted by: baltova1 | April 20, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

"To me, there's a bigger story from yesterday's game that no one is really focusing on, given the bullpen explosion. That story is 16,974 -- yesterday's announced paid attendance, which of course is based on tickets sold.

As far as I can tell, the Nats still have not released their season ticket numbers for the year and have only stated that they are "down." With yesterday's Pirates-like attendance, we now have an upper base for how many season tickets have been sold. Even if not one single person purchased a single-game ticket, the season ticket base is now below 17K. And if one assumes (I would think reasonably) that about 1,000 single game tickets were sold, the season ticket base could very well be below 16K.

That's gotta be more concerning to the front office than three consecutive blown ninth-inning leads."

It is what it is. Based on the exhibition game attendance of 11Kish - where every full season ticket holder was forced to buy a ticket - we know that the full-season-equivalents for season tickets is nowhere near 17K. Yet they managed to pull in almost 17K yesterday, indicating probably 4-5K in single game/walkup sales. That's actually not bad considering they have a 1-10 record now and were playing the Marlins, who don't even draw in their own home park.

There's nothing really that the FO can do about the season ticket numbers now. They're operating on the margins, trying to pull in single game sales. And by the looks of it, they're not doing all that badly. Last year's early-season Marlins games even with a much higher season ticket base were only drawing around 20K.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 20, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

"Or why he pulls his starters because he's counting pitches (beans) when he knows the bullpen can't carry the load every single night."


True story - I was at the game Friday night with some friends in town for the weekend who don't follow Nats baseball (why would they). After Acta left Lannan in to bunt in the 6th I started shaking my head because I knew where the pitch count was. They asked me what I was doing and I said, "He's only going to face one hitter in the 7th regardless of what that hitter does, I don't know why they don't just pinch hit for him now." (Side note - I did know why, Acta is terrible) Anyway, they laughed at me and said you're crazy hes doing great. I told them to wait and see. Like clockwork, Lannan gets Hermida to fly out to center to start the 8th. The scoreboard shows 98 pitches thrown though, so of course his night had to be over. The next two hitters, Ross and Helms, were a combined 0-4 with 3Ks against Lannan up to that point. He pointlessly burned Tavarez in a close game where it was highly possible they would need him in the 8th, 9th or 10th.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 20, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

"How many games do you people think he should have won with this talent?"

He's cost us at least 2, maybe 3 so far with his moves. So I'll say 3 or 4. Enough to not be the complete and utter laughingstock of the league.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 20, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Those 16K season ticket holders should be offered a refund. As I commented on the Soccer page, paying to see the Nats is like paying full-price to see United's US Open Cup match. You feel cheated because you're not really seeing a first-team Major League set of players. If they continue such petty-wise foolishness, the team will stink and attendance will continue to sink. If they're not going to field a real major league lineup, it's chutzpah to charge real major league prices. The franchise may not survive its current management.

Posted by: fischy | April 20, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

dfh21 said:

"This year's attendance numbers will end up close to last year's (approx. 29,000 per game). The team just started with a 1 -- A BUNCH record and they had the lowest drawing team in basbeall history come into town for an April series."

But last year's team had a much higher season ticket base -- 22,000 season tickets and season ticket equivalents, I believe. Yesterday's attendance proves that there are less than 17K, and probably less than 16K, full season ticket holders. (Was yesterday's game included in any of the half/partial/mini packages?)

Despite the fact that future teams coming to town -- which, other than the Red Sox, is the same group of teams which came through last year -- might better draws than the Marlins, it's hard to fathom that the Nats will come close to last year's 29K/game if they have to sell, in this atrocious economy, thousands of additional single-game tickets more per game night in and night out, given the depressed single ticket sales, than they did last year. The Nats' only real chance of getting to 29K, other than giving tickets away (which isn't the dumbest idea in the world -- at least get people in the gates to buy concessions, etc.), is to start winning and getting into a pennant race deep into the summer. Count me dubious on that one.

Posted by: csp17 | April 20, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

RickFelt,
Is 100 pitches Manny's magic number for Lannan?

Do you know his pitch-count limits for the other starters, out of curiosity? I know there was a lot of talk before the season started about "protecting" Martis and Zimmermann; I'm not sure what that means in terms of pitch-counts per game, and number of starts for the season.

Thanks.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 20, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"my prediction is by the end of the year, Dunn's signing will be seen as one of the disasters of the season -- unless the Nats can somehow trade him mid-season."

Wow - MVM, I would have a hard time disagreeing more on this one - they're paying him in the neighborhood of what they are paying Kearns, and so far, despite his defensive adventures, he's OPS-ing 1.196 (!!!) in 51 plate appearances - he's 1st in OBP, 4th in OPS, leading the league in walks, among the league leaders in HR, RBI, etc. and generally done exactly what you want him to do with the bat and more. Barring a major falling-apart offensively, how does this end up being "one of the disasters" in a year where the Opening Day leadoff hitter and 1/2 the bullpen have already blown up?

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 20, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

As for attendance....I had 1/2 season tickets for the Sat. (not Sunday) and also have Caps season tickets. Which game do you think fans in that situation are going to take? As for Sunday, half season holders did not have tickets, only full season did. Only one partial plan had tickets for that game. Now if in June it is still that bad, the Lerner's need to get things straight.

Posted by: sazzwho | April 20, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Thumbs up to Boz posting at Nats' Journal.

just wish this team wasn't owned by learner's. As a fan, the first year here, was the most fun. Now, it's a real mess!

Posted by: Max231 | April 20, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

usmc,

I honestly don't know the max numbers he sets for each individual starters, but I assume his overarching arbitrary cutoff point is 100, regardless of effectiveness. I watch every game and I can't remember the last time a starter went over 100. For the younger (in terms of big league exp, not age) guys I'm assuming it's around 90 since he yanked Martis last week for seemingly no other reason at 86.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 20, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Rick,

Having Lannan bunt saved a bench player and an arm. If the philosophy is to send someone up to bunt there's no reason not to use Lannan, regardless of whether he was coming out. I'd submit you can argue whether a bunt was desirable there -- as opposed to pinch hitting in hopes of a big inning -- but the decision to save a bench player in that situation isn't a blunder by any stretch. And Hermida leading off was lefty-on-lefty. So by NOT pinch-hitting they didn't burn a left-hander from the 'pen in a tight game. Debatable? Sure, I guess. But it's by no means a screw up. It did work, after all. Lannan, Tavarez, and Hinckley all did their jobs... Hanrahan blew the game in the 9th.

One more thing: Manny was ejected in the 3rd. Guess it was Riggleman's fault. Fire the bum!

Posted by: outsider6 | April 20, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the Manny Must Go Bandwagon, let's jump on that thing!

Man, nunof1 and balto bringing Joe freaking Gibbs into the disucssion as if Nascar had anything to do with MBL is pretty funny. Nunof1 is both politically incorrect and nuts to think that 66 is too old to manage -- Jack McKeon and the Marlins showed otherwsie in 03 (a guy named Torre who has at least moderate success is 67). And lack of a gig for 8 years does not a moron make. Johnson has forgotten more about winning than Acta has ever known, let's be clear.

Acta's taking playing time away from Dukes is a joke. He did nothing to take playing time away from vet after loafing vet in 2008 and that continued this year with Milledge, instead he fought to keep him off the bench, but then managed to jeer Lastings for not having the right attitude after he was on a bus to Syracuse. Lastings was HIS guy, HIS choice to be CF and to lead off (I heard he wanted Lastings to close games too, but thought he'd ease him into that role later); Acta is responsible for that breaking down. Milledge may be no saint, but he was a corner OF and he had never batted lead-off on a consistent basis. Experiement failed, blame Dr. Frankenstein more that the creature.

What has Acta done to show that he has the goods for this job? What players have blossomed under his guidance? What sharp tactics has Manny employed to get his club W's? Why is Manny the right guy?

He's a nice guy, but we had no reason to suspect he would be great when he came and he has not been great, so would it hurt so much to go in a different direction? The club has had to resort to demoting players en masse as a motivational tool -- that is how bad it is.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 20, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"He pointlessly burned Tavarez in a close game where it was highly possible they would need him in the 8th, 9th or 10th"

He has done this a couple of times. Listen I understand this early in the season no manager is going to let their pitchers get too much over 100, but his bullpen management is really, really bad.

Posted by: skippy1999 | April 20, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"One more thing: Manny was ejected in the 3rd. Guess it was Riggleman's fault. Fire the bum!"

If you don't think Manny was calling the shots you're nuts.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 20, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday's attendance proves that there are less than 17K, and probably less than 16K, full season ticket holders. (Was yesterday's game included in any of the half/partial/mini packages?)
-----
Every game will include at least one or more of the half/partial/mini packages. Yesterday was Partial B and the Sunday mini plan.

Posted by: dclifer | April 20, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Tonight's lineup

Hernandez – 2B
Johnson – 1B
Zimmerman – 3B
Dunn – RF
Dukes – CF
Willingham – LF
Flores – C
Gonzalez – SS
Zimmermann – P

Posted by: Brian_ | April 20, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

We went a generation without baseball in Washington. Then the commissioner moves the Expos to town. That was the last good news. After that he gave the TV rights to another owner. I still can't get my head around that one. Then the commissioner finds an ownership group, the Lerners, who has no apparent interest in fielding a competitive team.

You can even see the real estate mentality in their markeing: promotions are modest discounts on partial plans. Who would pay to watch this miserable team for one game, save ten???

Posted by: ZAMBEZI | April 20, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Anybody who thinks I brought up Joe Gibbs because of his record (a successful one, by the way) in NASCAR is being intentionally foolish.

If Manny is overworking the bullpen, that's because he's been given starters who can't work a lot of innings. Yes, they're hung up on pitch counts but every team is. We may not have a complete game all year.

Finally, they're not demoting players as a motivational tool, it's a performance tool.

As for this: "He's cost us at least 2, maybe 3 so far with his moves. So I'll say 3 or 4." Prove it. Tell me what he should have done differently that would have guaranteed those wins.

Posted by: baltova1 | April 20, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

"Nunof1 is both politically incorrect and nuts to think that 66 is too old to manage -- Jack McKeon and the Marlins showed otherwsie in 03 (a guy named Torre who has at least moderate success is 67). And lack of a gig for 8 years does not a moron make."

What about even THINKING about not managing your team in a playoff game so you could go to a wedding instead? Does that a moron make? Because that's Davey Johnson v.2009.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 20, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Rick,

Doesn't really matter who was calling the shots after Manny's departure. Again, I'd have preferred to see them go for the jugular with pinch-hitter swinging away. But since a bunt was the call, it was done in standard fashion. The move that was made would have been made by Francona or LaRussa or Torre too. It's not rocket science except to baseball novices...

I'm not saying Manny's gonna last but you can find far better examples of poor bullpen management... say, for example, bringing in Rivera. EVER!

As for sitting Dukes down, Manny's clearly been given some direction from Kasten and Rizzo to tighten up his clubhouse and start developing some professionalism... not just because young guys like Dukes need it, but because it'll be impossible to recruit free agents for this club even if the Lerner's are willing to ante up. No serious ball player will sign here if they think the asylum's being run by the inmates.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 20, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

And you still overlook the fact that the move worked out fine. If you get to your closer with a one-run lead in the ninth, I'd say you've managed a pretty good ball game. It's fair to expect your closer to finish. The fact that he failed isn't the manager's fault.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 20, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"You can even see the real estate mentality in their markeing: promotions are modest discounts on partial plans."

To be fair, there are lots of discounts available for single games too. I got a 6th-row LF corner seat for the win against the Phillies last week for half price via a web promotion. Perhaps they should do a better job of advertising these promotions.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 20, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"And you still overlook the fact that the move worked out fine."

No it didn't. As a result they had to bring in Guaranteed Runs Rivera in the 10th instead of Tavarez or Hinckley. Result - Loss.

You are right though, bringing in Rivera to close the game with Tavarez available yesterday was worse, I'll give you that. It just stuck out to me because I was there and called it.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 20, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Given what I have just learned about the season ticket holder numbers -- very good infortmation -- thanks!, that would mean that for most of last season there were very, very few single game tickets sold in order for the Nats to average about 29K over the entire season. I think that will radically improve. The team is simply much more fun to watch, the Division is stronger, the out of division home match-ups are good and Stan has implemented a more aggressive marketing plan. (Though it was not good enough to draw back the season ticket holders, I guess.) It is hard to sell a 102 loss club, it seems. If the Nats are not completely burried in the standings again by the All Star break this year, they'll draw decently. Let's hope that Jordan Zimmermann gives fans a reason to head to the park. We'll see.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 20, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Rick,

You "called" it? C'mon be serious. There shouldn't have BEEN a tenth inning for Rivera to blow. The manager massaged a crummy staff into the 9th inning with a 2-1 lead and his closer on the hill. His 6th inning move -- and pretty much all the moves he made that night -- had him 3 outs from beating the hottest team in baseball.

Slam Manny if you want but be sure to slam him for things that you can back up. Tavarez is here for holding leads in the 7th. Check. Hinckley too. Check. Beimel's the 8th inning guy, setting up to hand a lead off to Hanrahan. Check. Hanrahan blew it. You didn't "call" Hanrahan blowing a save in the 9th. Had he done his job your friends from out-of-town would have said you were talking out of your a** about Lannan batting in the 6th. One more thing: had this been June or July, Lannan wouldn't have just bunted and faced Hermida. He'd have faced Ross and Helms too. But it's April... 100 pitches or so is sufficient this time of year. Later in the year, pitching effectively with a 2-1 lead, he'd have been given a chance to finish.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 20, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

@nunof1: That same tired rant of yours about about Johnson going to his kid's wedding and ALMOST missing a WBC game? Really? you MUST have a problem with Johnson to begin with in order to find such evil in going to your son's wedding. (Are you really Peter Angelos? -- only he hates Johnson that much.)

If that is the damning evidence (that and him being only marginally younger than Joe Torre) that you hold up against Johnson's lifetime of baseball success as a player and big time WINNING manager in both leagues, then you really need to do more to convince me that you are not heavily medicated right now.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 20, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

It looks like Nunof has made yet another friend here at Camp NJ.

Welcome to the club, dfh21.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 20, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

"You "called" it? C'mon be serious."

Yeah, I "called" him taking Lannan out after the next hitter. What about my previous post suggested I called Hanrahan blowing the save? You need to calm down a little bit with your man love for Acta when he has done literally nothing other than publicly being a nice guy to gain your undying trust.

Also - the rigid roles that you then attach to every pitcher is another BS managing tactic that gets bad managers like him out of making any real gametime decisions.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 20, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

The season ticket arithmetic strongly suggests revenue will be sharply down this year almost no matter how the team plays.

So the key question will be how ownership responds to this revenue drop: do they dig down and re-invest in order to improve the product and generate a stronger revenue stream?

Or do they cut back, match spending to revenues, and put the franchise on a death spiral?

I would say the omens are good: They knew as long ago as September that revenues this year would be down, yet they took a run at Teixera, signed Dunn, and signed Zimmerman. We'll get another chance to make a judgment about this when they start negotiating with Boras over Strasburg.

There is no other reason for us to obsess right now about the attendance. As Boz has written, it is a "lagging indicator," it reflects last year's record more than this weekend's woes.

Plenty of other things more worthy of obsessing.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 20, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I have no grand love of Davey Johnson or anything, but I don't poke holes in a Voodoo doll of the guy either. Some people do, apparently.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 20, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I hope ZNN likes pitching in a cold drizzle. Could be a rough night for our already challenged fielders.

Posted by: BobLHead | April 20, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Rick,

You "called" taking out a lefty starter facing a righty in the 7th inning of a one-run game. I gotta admit that's pretty astute. You really know the game. Kinda like "calling" a field goal with 3 seconds left and the ball on the opponent's 5-yard line in a tie game.

I take it all back. Manny should go.

On the other hand, it is only April. I don't think the manager's the problem. I don't think I'm carrying a flame for Manny; it just seems silly to blame a guy who went in to things with a weak hand. Everyone knew this team is a project -- if Manny got them playing hard every game (and the close scores and strong offensive stats suggest they are) then I don't see how a new manager makes anything better. And it's just dumb to fire a manager in April unless it's a World Series favorite playing 1-12 baseball...

As for rigid roles in the bullpen, they're pretty standard. Nothing is set in stone, of course... some man-on-man matchups supercede roles but you're typically going to have a long man, a few specialists and all-purpuse guys, a set up man, and a closer. I'm sure you know this. Manny generally uses these guys for the purpose they were brought in to perform... if they don't it's hard to blame Manny.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 20, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

It's cold and rainy in NJ world, too.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 20, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

The Redskins paid Portis, the Wizards paid Arenas, the Caps paid Ovechkin.

I don't see how finally paying Zimmerman to stick around and grow at 24 with this club is anything other than a move that was a year overdue.

The Lerners only deserve credit for doing the obvious.

What comes harder for them is judging people accurately and their capabilities.

This is what got Abe Pollin in trouble after Dick Motta and Bob Ferry left town.

The Bullets/Wizards spent 20 years in the NBA wasteland because of poor choices in the front office and on the bench with coaches.

Guys Abe could 'trust' evidently weren't guys that could build a winning basketball program.

And like the Nationals they brought in some dubious character players.

Jim Bowden should have been fired earlier than he was for the mismanagement of the budget with $5M allocated to LoDuca, $6M to Felipe Lopez and another $5M to Dmitri Young, that's $20M committed to players that didn't do ANYTHING for the team in 2008 except drink gatorade.

Other ex-Reds like Wily Mo Pena and Austin Kearns (at $8M) aren't far behind.

Posted by: leopard09 | April 20, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

The "Natinal's uniform spelling error may sound like a trivial mistake, and perhaps funny, but I think that it is a microcosm of a larger problem: inattention to detail, lack of accountablity, neglect. As an organization I would have never allowed this kind of embarrassment to make it on the field for the fans to see, and as a player I would not wear the jersey.

I run a large organization myself, and these kind of seemingly minor things are usually reflective a deep, endemic disfunction from the top down.

Posted by: terseterse629 | April 20, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

"I run a large organization myself, and these kind of seemingly minor things are usually reflective a deep, endemic disfunction from the top down.

Posted by: terseterse629 | April 20, 2009 5:08 PM "

You know this perhaps from your own experience running a large organization that has a deep, endemic disfunction from the top down?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 20, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

...1st time poster...Baseball,Nats fan...really enjoy the stuff here, especially the -for the most part- the absence of over the top bile. Thoughtful stuff....so, w/o weighing in on any particular point of view, here's a thought I've had which I think I can claim as original (seen nor heard from anyone else). Anyone else see the sense? WE NEED TO SWAP THE LERNERS FOR DAN SNYDER!!! The Nots then get a passionate owner willing to spend what it takes and the Foreskins get an owner with the probity to execute a build from within plan- WITH minimum salary requirements!Seriously!I know that it's an impossibility, but philosophically speaking.......makes sense to me!

Posted by: zendo | April 20, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

"I run a large organization myself, and these kind (sic) of seemingly minor things are usually reflective (sic) a deep, endemic disfunction (sic) from the top down.

Posted by: terseterse629 | April 20, 2009 5:08 PM

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

them kindsa miner thingys?

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 20, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

The players quit. They let adversity get the best of them. They believed they were going to lose when they blew the lead on Saturday. They got no swagger.

I put that on the manager. A real manager wouldn't let his players quit. Frank certainly never did. That the bullpen wasn't set up right coming out of spring training, I put that on the manager. Earl Weaver said most of the games you win are won through setting up your team in spring training. During the season, the manager only accounts for a handful of wins and losses.

We know the talent level is mediocre. But they don't even make the most of that, and that's Acta's fault. I expect Riggleman will take over before the All-Star break. And I expect Kasten to go after season's end. (yeah, he's got equity; they'll buy him out.) This team is an embarrassment even to Thrifty Ownership.

Posted by: gbooksdc | April 20, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

You can march all the new AAA pitchers out to that mound you want...at least an UNKNOWN is better than hearing the name of a KNOWN piece of garbage like a Rivera.....Hanrahan as a closer etc.....are coming into the game.....

BUT:

1. Nothing changes until the worthless ACTA is run out of town..Yes,

-the JOKE who adamantly told us Milledge was his CF and lead off hitter...

-the same BUM that keeps telling us that Hanrahan is his CLOSER...

-The same STIFF that pulls the effective Beimel after 2 mimimum pitch count 8ths for Hanrahan- A nobody who has accomplished ZERO in his baseball career...

-The same AIRHEAD MORON who trots out Rivera as a closer after 2 DISASTROUS/ GUT WRENCHING Blown Save LOSSES......

ACTA has NO FXXXXXX CLUE about managing a pitching staff
=========================
Acta the ROBOT, as the clueless handler of the Gnats pitching staff, did not start this LOSER track record this past week end...it started the day he stepped off the boat...and into SouthEast Washington stadiums....

Pulling effective/ minimum pitch count set up guys for INCOMPETENT Closer wannabe's has blown up in his face since Day 1 in DC...and he has yet to LEARN from his screw ups...

You got a Mariano Rivera...you can go by the book...play the odds...whatever.....but when you don't have and have NEVER had a lights out closer (the Chief- hahahaha) ....

you dammmmmm well better have a feel for the game..and WIN the WINNABLE games in the late innings doing whatever it takes....and NOT KEEP LOSING them over and over again because you are a Clueless ROBOT...going through the text book rules of the road...for set up/ closer moves.

Beimel is the only candidate for closer on this roster....and i have to think/ i wanna think it was the Brain(dead) Trust of Acta / St Clair who were behind Beimel being UNavailable yesterday for 1 inning duty....

He had pitched 3 innings....(15-12-20)47 pitches over a 3 day period.....

Posted by: unc1dmo | April 20, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to propose a thought experiment.

Imagine any of the many glass-all-but-empty, no-sense-of-humor-or-perspective-whatsoever posters we get in here since, well, about the time Barry left (not that correlation equals cause, just a coincidence), walking into the locker room and saying whatever their rant of the moment happens to be.

Assuming they can read their own writing, just for the sake of argument.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 20, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

What have we seen the past 3 season? A bullpen (and, usually starters) able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory better than most any team in any division; and, too many stranded base runners.

Year, after year. This needs to change before the fans give up all hope.

Maybe some will get a message with this move, but I would think more will need to come.

If Bergmann is as inconsistent as last year, I hope Rizzo is not slow in giving him the axe. If Danny Caberra goes wild man like he was 1/2 the time for the O's, he should go too.

The off season was largely lost to the Nationals - where was the money to buy some pitchers? It did not seem that ownership really cared until now. They are probably lucky that Zimm likes it with the Nationals. Close to home didn't work after all for Teixeira - everyone would rather work for and cheer for a winner.

Call it hard, Boz, they need to hear it.

Posted by: Down2Earth1 | April 20, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

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