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A Debut And A Debacle: A Closer Look

With the bullpen casting such a cloud over NatsTown -- heck, it's not even a cloud; it's more like one of those massive, ominous alien death machines that assumes position atop every last metropolis in Independence Day -- I'm having a hard time committing to a discussion about Ross Detwiler this morning. I thought I'd be ready after a good night's sleep. Sorry, not there yet. The bullpen is still the thing, and it will be until it improves. Plus, it's not like Will Smith looked up at the space ships and decided to talk about next Sunday's shopping list.

So I'll go halfway. Here are three points/observations about Detwiler, then three points/observations about the bullpen.

Regarding Detwiler...

1. The best thing you can say about him -- the absolute best thing you can say about anybody pitching for the Nationals these days -- is that he threw strikes. That alone will earn him mega points with Manny Acta and with a front office that's grown increasingly incensed with team-wide control problems. The Nats are desperate for pitchers who aren't afraid to attack the strike zone. Show that in your first big league start -- when there's a natural tendency for nervousness -- and you've made a fine impression.

2. His mechanics are much-improved from the spring. His velocity wasn't quite at its best last night -- fastballs were around 91 or so, not 94 -- but that's a trade-off Washington will take. "I caught him an inning in spring training and he was throwing hard," catcher Josh Bard said. "I think he's cleaned up his mechanics. In spring training he was kind of throwing across himself. He was throwing harder in spring training, but it was kind of all over the place."

3. Stuff-wise (and sorry for sounding like a baseball scout), Detwiler ranks among the best pitchers in the organization. Maybe you expect that from a first-round pick, but there was talk last year about a regression. Well, those who saw him yesterday spoke of an impressive arsenal, including a rare swing-and-miss sinker. (The typical sinker is designed for batters to miss-hit, not whiff at entirely.) "I think the ceiling is really high," Bard said. "He's competing at the big league level right now and succeeding. He's still got a lot of work to do on his curveball, but you can't teach arm speed, and he's got it. He's got a ball that moves, and when a guy is challenging hitters like that it is exciting to see."

Regarding the bullpen...

1. Control is absolutely the biggest culprit here. The bullpen, as a whole, has walked 77 in 128 innings this year. It's also thrown nine wild pitches and hit eight batters. In seven games this year, the bullpen alone has walked at least four hitters. Last year's Nats bullpen, hardly a model of excellence, walked 254 batters. Philadelphia's walked 211. Now, the Nats are on pace to walk an astonishing 328.

2. Just a few stats... The Nats' 6.68 bullpen ERA ranks last in the majors, roughly a half-run worse than the 29th-ranked Angels. (Confirmation of what you've been watching.) Since 1970, only one team -- the 2007 Rays (6.16) -- has finished a year with a bullpen ERA above 6.00. The poorest NL bullpen since 1970 for a single season belonged to the 1999 Rockies, who had a 5.69 ERA.

3. One reason it's high time to re-open to search for new bullpen arms? Based on current numbers from Baseball Prospectus, five of the seven bullpen members have negative VORPs.

Here are the numbers...

Ron Villone -- +3.9
Joe Beimel -- +2.2
Kip Wells -- -0.1
Garrett Mock -- -1.3
Joel Hanrahan -- -1.4
Jesus Colome -- -3.5
Julian Tavarez -- -4.5

If you want perspective on just how poorly one must perform to achieve a negative VORP, consider the following 2008 numbers. Charlie Manning: +1.7. Jesus Colome: +7.1.

By Chico Harlan  |  May 19, 2009; 9:37 AM ET
 
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Next: History In the Making (Not the Good Kind)

Comments

So, are you saying that our relievers come out of the 'pen in brand-new Edgar suits? Just checking.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 19, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Okay i hate all the BABIP and OPS junk, so what the heck is VORP anyway??

Posted by: skippy1999 | May 19, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

vorp?

Posted by: nattaboy | May 19, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

VORP = Value Over Replacement Player

Posted by: Watson1 | May 19, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Value over replacement player, I believe. But somebody else will need to flesh out the concept for us.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 19, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Jinx, Watson (and elementary). I believe that you owe me a Coke.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 19, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

VORP = Value over Replacement Player

Think of it this way, a negative VORP means the player is performing worse than what you should expect from an anonymous roster filling player. Not an average player, a player whose primary purpose is to simply occupy a spot on the 25-man without getting in the way.

Posted by: Brian_ | May 19, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

VORP?

506, this one's yours.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 19, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Another way of thinking about it, the bullpen guys with the negative numbers are worse than the any unsigned, freely available player.

Posted by: Brian_ | May 19, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

VORP is a convoluted stat; for position players getting on base helps, missing games hurts, playing a tough position helps, playing in a hitter's park hurts. I believe it was designed to make Ryan Church look good.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | May 19, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

From Wikipedia:

VORP can also be calculated for pitchers, as a measurement of the number of runs he has prevented from scoring that a replacement-level pitcher would have allowed. The concept is essentially the same as it was for hitters: using the player's playing time (in a pitcher's case, his innings pitched), determine how many runs a theoretical "replacement" would have given up in that playing time (at the most basic level, the replacement level is equal to 1 plus the league's average runs per game), and subtract from that number the amount actually allowed by the pitcher to arrive at VORP. As an aside, Run Average is used as a measure of pitcher quality rather than Earned Run Average. ERA is heavily dependent on the concept of the error, which most sabermetricians have tried to shy away from because it is a scorer's opinion; also, we are trying to determine VORP in units of runs, so a calculation that uses earned runs is not of very much use to us in this instance.

The "old" definition of pitching VORP, as alluded to above, was simply:

VORP = (((League Runs/Game + 1) - RAvg)/9)*Innings Pitched
However, further research indicated that starting pitchers and relief pitchers have different replacement thresholds, as it is easier to put up a low RAvg in relief than as a starter. Armed with that knowledge, Baseball Prospectus 2002 published the current formula for determining the replacement level for pitchers:

For starting pitchers, Repl. Level = 1.37 * League RA - 0.66
For relief pitchers, Repl. Level = 1.70 * League RA - 2.27
Therefore, the current formula for VORP is:

VORP = ((Repl. Level - RAvg)/9)*Innings Pitched
As was the case with hitters, run average should be normalized for park effects before VORP is calculated. Pitcher VORP is on the same scale as that of hitters.

Posted by: pryorcommitments | May 19, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of 506, I totally agree with him in my admiration of our hitters.

If *we're* this incensed with the bullpen, imagine how those hitters must feel? For that lineup to keep hitting until pretty much the last out, (not to mention hang around with them in the clubhouse everyday in close-enough-to-punch-in-the-face range), and still stay professional deserves A LOT of credit.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 19, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Acta actually said this about pulling his pitcher after 5 innings and 84 pitches:
If I'm afraid to pull my Double A starter because I'm afraid of my big league bullpen, then somethings wrong.

HELLO?? Have you even been watching your big league bullpen Manny?? Something is wrong. And if you don't realize it and deal with reality, then what on earth are you doing?

To pull Detweiller after 5 to possibly gain one run offensively when you knew it would cost you multiple runs defensively is absurd, ridiculous, terrible managing...you fill in the blank.
Acta Kasten Lerners, someones got to go.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 19, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

"With the bullpen casting such a cloud over NatsTown -- heck, it's not even a cloud; it's more like one of those massive, ominous alien death machines that assumes position atop every last metropolis in Independence Day -- I'm having a hard time committing to a discussion about Ross Detwiler this morning."

Today is the day I no longer miss Barry Svrluga.

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | May 19, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

"Another way of thinking about it, the bullpen guys with the negative numbers are worse than the any unsigned, freely available player."

Who are these unsigned, freely available players, and if they're so much better than the guys we have now why isn't anyone signing them?

Posted by: section417planD | May 19, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Couldn't agree more, dovelevine.

Manny's quote about AA starter vs big league bullpen illustrates exactly why he doesn't belong as a MLB manager. To quote Herman Edwards "you play to win the game." THE PAST DOESN'T MATTER. Who cares where his starter was last week? Manny has zero baseball sense. His big league bullpen clearly wasn't a better option at that time. It's not Manny's fault that his bullpen can't get outs, but it is his fault when he brings in the bullpen when he already has a much better option in the game. 84 pitches isn't a lot. At least give the kid one more inning. And please spare me the "I want my pitchers to leave on a positive note" nonsense. Good luck making it in the majors if you can't handle a tough performance.

Posted by: Juni | May 19, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

BTW please send Detwiler back down and Keep Cabrera here because D-Cabs 7 runs in 5 innings is an improvement according to Acta and St. Clair the newest comedy duo in DC.
What a pair.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 19, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Baseball Prospectus is where you should really go for more on VORP, but a quick primer can be found at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VORP

As other posters have noted, VORP compares a player to "replacement level," which is a level of performance that should be freely available. Don't hate on VORP because it has a dorky name, it's a really, really, really useful concept.

Replacement level is not "average" or anything like it, it's more "what can you get right now by picking up the phone without giving up anything of significant value." Think career .230 hitter for a position player. Basically, what Chico is telling us with the negative VORP numbers is that you could replace those four arms with four "just a guy" type players and you would have saved about 11 runs on the season.

It's numerical confirmation that the bullpen stinks on toast.

Posted by: Section220 | May 19, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Now playing the Comedy Stylings of Manny the Clueless Clown Acta and his sidekick Randy Are you Ready for my Gas Can Bullpen St. Clair.
Shows daily, late show Sunday. Don't worry, plenty of seats available.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 19, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Acta is why people don't go to the games. It's amazing how cowardly the owners are. Unreal.

Posted by: Brue | May 19, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Most of these players are not motivated and they are just not paying attention. The whip is not being cracked and it’s time to get an experienced manager. I'd even take Riggleman. He looks like he has a lot to say but nobody's asking his opinion. This team has too much talent to play this badly. Much of pitching is mental and these pitchers are mental trainwrecks. Bullpen pitchers are itching to come into games and help their teams win. These guys are trying not to make eye contact after the bullpen coach answers the phone.

It may be time for a brawl in the clubhouse...or at least a productive dialogue. They need to clear the air because there is a 100% chance that the players are holding their tongues.

Posted by: Roscoe4 | May 19, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

"Plus, if I have to keep a Class AA guy out there because I don't want to go to my big league bullpen, that's really scary.""

I think what Manny's trying to say here is that no one should ever be afraid to have to go to their bullpen. Granted, this bullpen is atrocious and he should be afraid to use it, but he still needs to show some trust in them to get the job done.

As for Cintron hitting for Det in the bottom of the 5th ... some can argue for and against pinch-hitting in this spot. What most here seem to agree on is why use Cintron at all? Why not use Belly or Kearns? Well, let's say one of them was used instead. Now, let's say that it's the bottom of the 8th (or 9th) and the Nats need to pinch-hit again. Who's left? Alex Cintron. So, would you rather use up Cintron in the 5th, knowing that he'll never come out again and regardless if he gets on base or not the Nats still have 4 innings to get more runs, or in the 8th/9th knowing that this will be an automatic out and the game is essentially over? Me, I'd rather get him out of the way early.

Also, whose decision is it to have "injured" players be day-to-day instead of placing them on the DL? For all intents and purposes, the Nats had 2 players that were not available (maybe for a PH): Kearns and Dukes. This severely limits the options Acta has on pinch-hitting, defensive subs and/or double switches. He's already playing with damaged goods in the bullpen, why handicap him even more with the offense?

Posted by: erocks33 | May 19, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

506, here,

The best way to "feel" VORP, since it's too new to have a gut-feeling unto itself like AVG does, is it's the value against a player that was waived by another team and the Nationals picked him up on the wire.

Now, of course, that's not at all accurate, because who goes on waivers is variable based on options and overall team quality.

But for the purposes of trying to determine how you should rate a VORP 0, think someone that was cast off and the Nats just picked him up on waivers. That means we would be better off taking other people's dregs than sticking with our own bullpen.

Posted by: Section506 | May 19, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

"Today is the day I no longer miss Barry Svrluga."

Here! Here!

Chico, the first two paragraphs of your gamer illustrated the same, shall we say, attitude? Are you becoming a fan? Are you becoming angry?

We are going to the game tomorrow night - basically for the same reason I went to a Giants game when in SF two years ago when Bonds was playing - to witness history. That is what is happening, right? History?

Posted by: CajunD | May 19, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone else see Kearns' face in the dugout last night when Mock hit the batter to put guys on 1st and 2nd? You could just see he was thinking "Oh, crud. Here we go again." Absolutely priceless.

Posted by: erocks33 | May 19, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

--"Plus, if I have to keep a Class AA guy out there because I don't want to go to my big league bullpen, that's really scary.""
I think what Manny's trying to say here is that no one should ever be afraid to have to go to their bullpen.

We all know what he means. Problem is it aint realistic. Have you been watching the games? Obviously comedian Manny Acta has not. If you have no bullpen, then you don't pull the best pitcher on the field with only 84 pitches. This aint rocket science.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 19, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

It felt like Manny was stealing from me as I sat in the stands to watch last night's atrocity. He's managing like he has money on the opponent. How come I and the people around me knew what would happen when he pulled Detweiler, but Manny didn't?

Posted by: Juni | May 19, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Manny and Randy should be headlining at Warner Theater. That's where they belong. And Stan Kasten can open for them cause he's done an even better job.
Heck if it weren't for the Dominican fiasco, Jim Bowden would still be the GM. Think about that. He wasn't even fired for ineptitude. The whole gang would still be here. The Lerners are abofreakinlutely clueless.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 19, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

"How come I and the people around me knew what would happen when he pulled Detweiler, but Manny didn't?"

Because it's easier for the offense to come back when your bullpen blows it in the 6th than if your bullpen blows it in the 8th or 9th. Of course last night they weren't able to come back, but be honest ... we all had hope right? If the bullpen (sorry, when the bullpen would have) blown it in the 8th or 9th, we wouldn't have been as optimistic.

Posted by: erocks33 | May 19, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

This was a good post, Chico. You're really sinking your teeth into this baseball stuff. ;)

Posted by: NatsNut | May 19, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

VORP is truly the stupidest thing I've ever heard of, really people take that junk science seriously??

Posted by: skippy1999 | May 19, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Good one, PB.

---

I believe it was designed to make Ryan Church look good.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 19, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

BTW what wxactly is Kasten's job. If Bowden was responsible for the debacle that is the team and Acta is responsible for the debacle that is the lack of knowledgeable managing, and the Learners are responsible for the debacle that is hiring both.....what exactly is it that the wonderous Mr Kasten does? What is his job and his duties. Can anyone fill me in on this?

Posted by: dovelevine | May 19, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I wrote a long post which it appears got eaten upon delivery, so I'm going to try again here.

Lots of thoughts here, because I'm going to take a break from analyzing this team. It's like picking apart roadkill.

1) Manny is still not the problem, he's basically irrelevant. He may not be the answer, but we're not even in position to ask the question yet.

2) Coaching isn't the problem. So is St. Claire only coaching the lousy guys? He's not coaching Martis, Lannan, or Detwiler?

3) So Manny gets reamed for PH'ing Cintron for Detwiler in the 5th. He saves his better hitters for later PH'ing and decides not to press his luck with a rookie making his debut as a starter. Now, instead, if he keeps him in, Detwiler's only going to go another inning anyway. So, instead of Mock and Colome blowing the game, it's Wells, Beimel and Hanrahan. What's the difference?

4) On a night when they hold fielding practice, they still make four errors, three by veterans. How is that coaching?

5) The bullpen has two marginal major league talents (Mock and Hanrahan) and five rejects (Tavares, Wells, Colome, Beimel and Villone). The in-the-system alternatives: Clippard and Bergmann (two more marginal talents) and McDougal and Sosa (two more rejects). Again, what's the difference?

6) Two options for getting better this year: keep throwing new mixtures of what you have against the wall and hope a few of them learn (or remember) how to pitch at the big league level. Or you make big trades: Belliard for a good fielding SS, Guzman and either NJ or Willingham to hopefully get three or four pitchers. Why Guzman? He'd bring more in return and I'd sacrifice offense for defense, especially in the long term.

7) Despite my comment above, I suspect Manny will go, probaby by the All Star break, if for nothing less, "to do something." I think the comparisons to Eddie Jordan and the Wizards are very apt.

Anyway, I would suspect the top candidates to replace him are Tim Foli from in the organization or Bob Melvin, because of his Arizona connection to Rizzo. I'd push Kirk Gibson as a dark horse candidate, with a F. Robinson aura and a younger mind.

Regardless, it won't matter who's running the show without something that looks like a real bullpen. I'm out. Keep the faith.

Posted by: baltova1 | May 19, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I repeat, what the freak is Kasten doing? Can someone tell me what his job is and why he's still here?

Posted by: dovelevine | May 19, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Ted Lerner, Spend what ever you have to to sign Strasburg by the All-Star Break

Mike Rizzo, Start Strasburg the first home game after the all star break.

Posted by: vo_37 | May 19, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

BTW everyone says Detwiler was only going to go 1 more inning. Why. He had thrown 84 pitches. He was cruising. Maybe he gets a 12 pitch inning. You tellin me a guy that young cant go 2 more innings at that rate. Heck for ole Frankie Robinson, he didn't even warm up the BP until the pitcher hit 120.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 19, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

VORP is truly the stupidest thing I've ever heard of, really people take that junk science seriously??

Posted by: skippy1999 | May 19, 2009 10:35 AM

Manny and Lerner's Losers don't, and look what they've got to show for it.

Posted by: bryc3 | May 19, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Some of the looks on Riggleman's face during the course of any game are priceless. You can just hear the internal monologue running through his head.

"Why oh why didn't the Mariner's hire me?"

"How much longer do I need to sit through this nonsense before it's my turn?"

"Do you think if I hit him in the head with a shovel it would help?"

"If we just happened to layover in Vegas on our next west coast swing and lose him in the desert do you think anyone would mind?"

"Do you think he can hear me screaming with my eyes?"

"If I concentrate hard enough can I actually stare daggers into the back of his head?"

"First thing I'd do is go all Oprah on this entire pitching staff: 'You're getting a pink slip! You're getting a pink slip! and you're getting a pink slip! You're getting pink slips!!'"

Posted by: RicketyCricket | May 19, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

My question to St. Claire is...how many pitches did Detwiler pitch in his previous start? If it was 80, then fine. If it was 115, then we have a problem.

Posted by: Roscoe4 | May 19, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Gentleman and Ladies: At some point the offense will say "screw it" no matter how many hits and runs we get it doesn't matter because the bullpen can't hold em,that's what the scary part of this troubling scenario is,listen Manny's not a bad guy just overmatched at this point. I know this is mostly Jimbo's "debacle" but its Rizzo's baby now and he needs to make some tough decisions concerning Acta's future. I would give Tim Foli a shot he's a former major leaguer of note,it wouldn't be change for change sake, Foli deserve's a shot and he would bring something to the table having managed in the minor's i think the team needs to see that Rizzo and the Lerners are serious about turning this around,not to mention the fan's deserve to see it too,if you didn't notice i left Stan Kasten out of the decision making equation catch my drift.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 19, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Both Dibble and Ray Knight really held nothing back last night on Nats Xtra. Those two played the game and understand the level of frustration far beyond what any of us can imagine.

However, I'm beginning to sense that the "Master Planners" have all but decided that 75-85 pitches will be the limit for the top 3 and whoever makes a guest apprearance going forward. Manny will hand over the zippo lighter and gas can to the pen for the nightly barn-fire in the 5th or 6th and that will be about it. In all honesty they are focusing on 2010 and beyond, with that said its a shame that so much damage has been done that even if 2010 turns out better the stands may stay empty for quite a long time. Ive got 30 more games to attend and I'm just trying to figure out a reason to go.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | May 19, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Just for the heck of it, here's my roster moves for the Nats. (BTW, maybe it's because I haven't had my coffee yet, but when I looked at the 40-man roster, I only counted 39 players so I am basing these moves with this info):

Cabrera -- DFA
call up JD Martin to start. He last pitched on Saturday, so his next start would be Thursday. Martin would need to be added to the 40-man roster, but would take Cabrera's spot (still leaves the Nats at 39/40)

Mock -- optioned to SYR
call up Bergmann. Bergmann is already on the 40-man (Nats still at 39/40)

Colome -- optioned to SYR
call up Tyler Clippard. Clippard is already on the 40-man (Nats still at 39/40)

Cintron -- DFA
call up Mike MacDougal. Go to an 8-man bullpen. MacDougal would need to be added to the 40-man, but would take Cintron's spot. (Nats still at 39/40)

Dukes -- place on DL.
call up Maxwell. Maxwell should play everyday in center until Dukes comes back from the DL and is 100%. Willie Harris is then moved to the utility infield position that Cintron occupied. Maxwell is already on the 40-man (Nats still at 39/40).

Posted by: erocks33 | May 19, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Tippy. Just go when Martis pitches. StubHub the rest for half price. That's my plan.

Posted by: Roscoe4 | May 19, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Other folks who do this more deeply will chime in, I'm sure, but VORP is "Value over Replacement Player." "Replacement Player" is that mythical AAA ballplayer who can be had off the scrap heap at any time, who comes up and pitches or fills in. Basically, the entirety of the Nats bullpen is comprised of "replacement players." VORP measures how well or how poorly a player does as compared to that composite replacement-level scrub. Note: by definition "major league average" is BETTER than "replacement level" - replacement level is Willie Harris, is Ryan Langerhans, is Josh Bard. Guys who can fill in in stints, get hot if you're lucky, mostly will just mark time. However, a whole team of 0-level VORP guys would be terrible - even worse than the '08 Nats (though not by too much). Average level guys are more like Willingham or Anderson Hernandez - good enough to start, won't hurt, should help a little.

So in this case, VORP measures the average runs above that mythical guy. In this case, what the negative VORP tells you is that you could bring up any 5 scrubs at random from AAA and they'd have a better-than-even chance of outperforming Tavarez, Mock, Hanrahan, Colome and Wells over similar sample sizes.

That's the thing, though - the sample size matters. VORP changes, and Colome's pitched a grand total of 2 innings in MLB this year, Villone's pitched 6 and Mock's pitched 13. None of them really have enough under their belt where one or two decent performances might not change things significantly. ANd, just cos Skippy likes it so well, it's worth noting that Hanrahan, Colome and Rivera all have BABIP's of .375+, which all suggests they'll likely regress to the mean (and improve) if given more chances.

I know, that's not what all us quick-trigger, wanna-be GMs want to hear when looking at the result so far, and it's not what our lyin' eyes tell us, but the simple fact is, it's still early-ish as far as bullpens go - a decent couple of mediocre weeks, and these guys could ascend to the mediocrities we expected.

Quick thought experiment: Does Manny have a quick hook and run five guys out there night after night because they're nervous and walk people, or are they nervous and walking people because they know if they make a mistake Manny will have a quick hook?

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | May 19, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

@juni: "It felt like Manny was stealing from me as I sat in the stands to watch last night's atrocity. He's managing like he has money on the opponent. How come I and the people around me knew what would happen when he pulled Detweiler, but Manny didn't?"

I swear to God, I have left the ballpark or turned off the TV many times recently wondering whether or not those guys in the bullpen or the dugout were being paid to throw the games. (I mean lose them on purpose, not throw strikes or anything exotic like that.) Really, they're playing as though they have to create a negative point spread on the Nats.

I'm not joking. I have seriously considered this. Only problem with this argument is that the stakes are so low. Otherwise, it looks a whole lot like thrown games.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | May 19, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"StubHub the rest for half price. That's my plan."

Good luck getting even half price.

Posted by: section417planD | May 19, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

"Manny is still not the problem, he's basically irrelevant. He may not be the answer, but we're not even in position to ask the question yet."

Manny may not be THE problem, but he is A problem. A manager should be an asset, not someone that's simply irrelevant. And why aren't we in a position to ask the question yet? We're well on our way to our second straight #1 pick. Go Manny!

The Eddie Jordan comparisons are absurd. Jordan had his team in the playoffs almost every year. Manny has done NOTHING to show he belongs.

Posted by: Juni | May 19, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

"3) So Manny gets reamed for PH'ing Cintron for Detwiler in the 5th. He saves his better hitters for later PH'ing and decides not to press his luck with a rookie making his debut as a starter. Now, instead, if he keeps him in, Detwiler's only going to go another inning anyway. So, instead of Mock and Colome blowing the game, it's Wells, Beimel and Hanrahan. What's the difference?"

- 506 already answered this question correctly on the last post. Please go back and reread.

- Your delusion regarding the coaching is only useful in that it keeps this board from being a consensus. Thanks for keeping the banter lively I suppose.

Posted by: RickFelt | May 19, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Zuckerman has an interesting companion piece in the OP about the trend in relief pitching woes throughout MLB (executive summary: you are not alone). As possible factors that he cites the economy (and lower payrolls) and PED testing (something that had occurred to me as well).

Also, new post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 19, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Doveline,

Kasten is a used car salesman. His job is sell tickets any way possible.


I want to blame Manny for this. I do. That would be the easy thing to do, quick and easy. However, it is much deeper than that. The Lerner’s are to blame, running this team on the cheap.

OK, yes, I said it. The Lerner’s are Cheap.

The payroll these cheapskates have had the last 3 years is ridiculous in this market. We ain't KC or Pittsburgh.

You have to spend money in MLB to help yourself be competitive. To be bottom five in payroll every year is a freakin' travesty.

When you’re trying to build a team, you have to pay a little more for players so, they will come here. Period. And they refuse to it. The only reason they signed Dunn was because the bottom fell out of the FA market and he came cheaper. The effort to sign Texiera was a mirage; they knew he wouldn’t come here. Heck, Boras probably told them, “you’ve got no shot but, we will make it look like you do, to help you save face and sell tickets.”

I’m nervous about the Strasburg situation because, I’m not confident that the Lerner’s will pay the freight and he will go unsigned, furthering the embarrassment that is NatsTown.

You would think I would feel better after this venting but, I feel like someone hit me the head with a tire iron.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 19, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Internet debate rule no. 1: When in doubt, call your opponent delusional.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 19, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I agree with your assessment of Kasten's role, 506, and I'm beginning to come around on that point of view re. the Lerners.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 19, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

"Acta is why people don't go to the games. It's amazing how cowardly the owners are. Unreal."

Totally true, Brue - Acta is also why the housing market collapsed, why drug use plagues our teen population and why Kornheiser was fired from MNF. Unreal, indeed.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | May 19, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"You would think I would feel better after this venting but, I feel like someone hit me the head with a tire iron."

Take solace that your buddy Dick Cheney apparently feels even worse than you do, judging from the looks of him in the photo the Post ran of him sitting in the front row at Sunday's game. He has Secret Service protection, so we know he didn't just get hit in the head with a tire iron.

Posted by: section417planD | May 19, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

"Acta is also why the housing market collapsed, why drug use plagues our teen population and why Kornheiser was fired from MNF."

Kornheiser wasn't fired from MNF, he quit. Just like Jim Bowden quit the GM job.

Posted by: section417planD | May 19, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

"Totally true, Brue - Acta is also why the housing market collapsed, why drug use plagues our teen population and why Kornheiser was fired from MNF. Unreal, indeed."

Impossible. No chance Manny would recognize how terrible TK was on MNF.

Posted by: Juni | May 19, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I like erocks33 roster moves..Gets the new blood in!! Just beware of Natsfan, I'm sure he has a problem with this move....

Posted by: dawgball | May 19, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Colome has an option, unless a guy signed to a minor league contract and added to the major league roster comes with a right for the team to outright him. I'll take my chance, waive him, and offer him the opportunity to straighten out at Syracuse.

For what it is worth, when I went Friday, I think he was a consistent 93 mph on his fastball. Does not vary speeds, and 2 MPH below his career average and his average last year. In other words, he has lost something, and when a guy with one pitch loses it . . .

Contrast this to our new hero (former wasted draft pick according to half this board). Chico, MLB.com's pitch by pitch had him at 94 for the first inning, but then down in the 88 - 91 MPH range for the most part the rest of the start. 81-82 on the change. good but not great separation.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 19, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Take solace that your buddy Dick Cheney apparently feels even worse than you do, judging from the looks of him in the photo the Post ran of him sitting in the front row at Sunday's game. He has Secret Service protection, so we know he didn't just get hit in the head with a tire iron.

Posted by: section417planD | May 19, 2009 11:04 AM
____________________________________________________________

ABM,

You and your gal pal Nancy Pelosi can discuss all things political, until then let's just stick to baseball, shall we.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 19, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Amen, 'dovelevine'. You are spot on with your first post. I couldn't believe Acta pulled Det. for a pinch hitter. The guy was pitching fine. You just knew the pen was going to give it up. Which they did.

Posted by: Wallpass | May 19, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Detwiler threw 84 pitches, or about 17 an inning. If he stays in one more inning, his pitch count's probably right at 100, when they would have taken him out anyway.

The Pirates scored nine runs against the bullpen. Keeping Detwiler in the game an extra inning would not have changed the final outcome. Instead, Mock and Colome would have spontaneously combusted in the seventh inning, not the sixth. Or perhaps Detwiler would have gone up in flames in the sixth. We'll never know. If Hanrahan doesn't implode in the top of the ninth, then in the bottom of the inning, it's 9-7 with the tying run at the plate. At that point, does Pittsburgh make a pitching change that blows up in their face? Again, we'll never know.

In any event, you can't fault Manny for having lousy relievers. As the saying goes, you can't make chicken salad out of chicken ... er, our bullpen.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | May 19, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

It's not pulling Detwiler for a pinch hitter, it's pulling him for a slap hitter with a 2 for 16 average. I would be fine to have him pulled in that situation for a healthy Dukes.

Posted by: Section506 | May 19, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Since our Bullpen is lousy and 5 of the 7 have negative VORP's and we're deep in the outfield can we move some the extra outfielders to the Bullpen?

Posted by: cadeck | May 19, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"It's not pulling Detwiler for a pinch hitter, it's pulling him for a slap hitter with a 2 for 16 average. I would be fine to have him pulled in that situation for a healthy Dukes."

506, agreed! The Cintron experiment has gone terribly wrong.

Those VORP bullpen #'s don't tell the whole story either.

When a reliever comes into a fresh inning in a low stress situation like Mock and can't throw a fastball strike is horrific. Why is this guy still up here? Give us somebody who wants to play at the MLB level.

Posted by: dmacman88 | May 19, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

All this Manny bashing has got to stop. He's not pitching. He's been given a couple of young starters, two crap starters (Cab and Olsen) and the worst bullpen of all time. If you want to blame anyone blame the front office. They're the ones supplying the players.

Manny did a solid job with a lousy team his first year. Give him some decent relief pitching and we'd all be saying what a great manager he is.

Posted by: thegraneys | May 19, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

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