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Another High-Scoring Loss

Anybody who managed to endure the full four-hour Nats game today came away with a good understanding of this team's strengths, deficiencies, and tendencies for powerful/painstaking baseball. The Nats lost 10-8 against the D'backs at Chase Field, and dare I say, this was a pretty typical show for this year's team. They scored a lot but not enough. (They're now 5-5-1 when scoring 6+ runs.) Ryan Zimmerman extended the hitting streak. Adam Dunn hit two homers -- one of them a 438-foot bomb. The middle of the lineup showed some serious muscle. The pitching staff kept its competence to an absolute minimum.

The gamer I just filed fleshes out the details, or at least some of them, but here are a few snippets of information from the game that just ended.

* First, Adam Dunn. Let's recap his weekend:

13 ABs. Six hits. Four home runs. A share for the NL homer lead. Oh, and three errors.


Still, with productivity like that, Washington will always take the trade-off. When Dunn hit HR No. 10 today -- the monster shot in the third -- Nats PR man John Dever dug up a perfect way to frame the accomplishment. Last year, Ronnie Belliard was the first Washington player to hit his tenth home run. And that came on Aug. 2.

Dunn, if you're wondering, had no special sentiment about returning to Chase Field. He played in Arizona, after all, for only 44 games last year.

"Not to belittle anything about it, but I wasn't here long enough," Dunn said. "I said hello to the guys and things like that, but there wasn't much sentimental. But I love hitting here. Oh, I love hitting here."

* Scott Olsen left the game after 4-1/3 today. The last batter he faced, Ryan Roberts, just so happened to pelt him in the left ankle with a hard grounder, and it left the lefty limping for a minute or so. But the bruise didn't contribute to his exit. Olsen could blame only ineffectiveness for that. He threw 109 pitches, faced 25 batters and allowed 13 to reach base. Yikes.

"Yeah, he couldn't command his fastball," Manny Acta said. "Everything was up in the zone, and he wasn't able to finish hitters. It's too bad, because we really needed at least six innings today the way our bullpen was."

* Oh, did somebody mention the bullpen? Today's underperformer was Logan Kensing, who took a richly-deserved loss while giving up four runs and five hits in the sixth.

Since being acquired in a trade with Florida on April 29, Kensing has shown little value, at least for the team that's paying him. His totals with the Nats, through five games: 4-2/3 IP, 10 H, 8 ER, a 15.43 ERA. Opponents are batting .455 against him.

Said Acta: "Well, he has good stuff but he pitches behind in the count. It doesn't matter how hard you throw up here in the big leagues. When they know a fastball is coming, they're going to hit it... He has a good arm, and the fact that today we were a little short, we needed him to pitch at least two innings today, and we couldn't get one inning out of him."

* The Nats are now 3-2 on this West Coast trip. Tomorrow, they're in San Francisco. It's Daniel Cabrera against Randy Johnson. Makes for a good tip-off.

By Chico Harlan  |  May 10, 2009; 9:55 PM ET
 
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Comments

LOL! Great line:

"Kensing has shown little value, at least for the team that's paying him."

Posted by: NatsNut | May 10, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

if Rizzo hurries there is a Redeye from San Fran to Prince William County Reginal Airport via UPS he can stick Kensing on. He is barely worth his weight in shipping charges to waste a seat in coach.

Posted by: mintbucket | May 10, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Acta's comments regarding Kensing are absurd..does he really have a pulse on this team and the players he is managing? I understand he is dealing the hand Bowden dealt for the most part BUT I think he is uninspiring to his players and just plain lacks insight to the game. it's time for a new manager,pitching coach,and some bullpen changes. .

Posted by: natsanuff1 | May 10, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Does Cintro have nude photos of Manny (or maybe Stan? Ugh...)? I don't know why else he would still be here - any other team would have gotten rid of him by this point in the season. I'd rather have Kory Casto. Also, Kensing is not looking like a good addition at this point. Don't we have better pitchers in the minors that are worth a look at?

Posted by: BGinVA | May 10, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

When Manny puts in players like Cintron and Kensing he sends all the wrong signals, at least to the fans who follow this team. Taking Guzman out with his incredible batting average and plugging in Cintron is like waving the white flag. Thinking Kensing can give us two innings and not bury us in the meantime is just as amazing. When this team starts to build momentum Manny jerks the rug out. I am not on the Fire Acta bandwagon, but sometimes I just shake my head in wonder.
Oh, and there is always Cabrera, who for some unknown reason is still in the major leagues. Is there really no one in our minor league system who can pitch better than Cabrera?

Posted by: driley | May 11, 2009 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Acta ia an idiot for A: bringing in Lansing during a close game and B: leaving him in there to get shelled. The idiot has no idea how to manage a bullpen. Bring in Davey Johnsen before the season is lost.

Posted by: edr04 | May 11, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Send this Cintron and Tonic back to the bartender in Syracuse!

Posted by: msolem | May 11, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Why Rizzo, is Lansing on the team anyway? Bergman can't pitch better than this clown?

Posted by: edr04 | May 11, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

After the 0-7 start, this team can not throw away games like it did today.

Posted by: edr04 | May 11, 2009 12:54 AM | Report abuse

I wasn't particularly happy to see Cintron playing on Sunday either, but everyone needs a day off now and then, and those days usually come on a day game after a night game.

I'm not sure what to do about the curious case of Adam Dunn.

He can't play first, and he can't play right. He is certainly adequate enough in left, but if he doesn't vacate his natural position (left), Josh Willingham can't get any at-bats.

If Nick gets traded before the deadline, Dunn moves to first and that's a bad thing. If Austin Kearns gets traded before the deadline, Dunn moves to right and Willingham to left, and that's not a good thing either.

It'll be interesting to see how all that plays out, and I don't see how it will.

Posted by: rushfari | May 11, 2009 1:57 AM | Report abuse

They could always trade Adam Dunn and sign Nick and Kearns to 2 years, 8 mil...

Posted by: swang30 | May 11, 2009 2:16 AM | Report abuse

rushfari has nailed it, as far as the dilemma. What the Nats need to consider (and I know this is hard) is putting Dunn on the block and pulling off a Marlins-type trade where the Nats get mucho near-ready prospects for a highly valuable guy, As the saying goes, we can finish last without him. No way we'll get anything near worth it for Kearns or Willingham. I'm not advocating doing this tomorrow, but it has to be thought about as the season goes on, especially if the Nats don't suddenly win 10 or 12 in a row (and with DCab in the rotation ... please!)

Posted by: nats24 | May 11, 2009 2:24 AM | Report abuse

@edr04: Who is Lansing?

Posted by: shepdave2003 | May 11, 2009 5:37 AM | Report abuse

OMG....trade Dunn...I know this is a joke. Do you think Zim would be doing as well if he didn't have Johnson and Dunn surrounding him in the order? Just fix the pitching. Why is Bergman still in Syracuse? Should the Nats win the game tonight, it would go down as one of the biggest regular season upsets ever. Cabrera against Johnson...no sleep tonight.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 11, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

need to package Lansing to pitch long relief on the days that Cabrera starts....figure the starter screws it up and we don't waste anything finishing the game...guy is pitching himself out of a job very quickly.

Posted by: outrbnksm | May 11, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

There is potential for interesting comparisons tonight between Randy Johnson and Daniel Cabrera. One right/one left, one young/one old, but both tall and both prone to wildness in their relative youth. The differences of course being that Johnson eventually found his delivery, is a complete player, and still has periods of dominance. One other similarity: both are likely close to the end of their career.

Interesting question though: is Cabrera the first starter to be removed from the rotation? One could argue that it is now Olsen who is most in need of removal. I like him, like his competitiveness, like his style, but that 7.00 ERA is standing out like a sore thumb. Cabrera is extremely frustrating, but to date he has kept his ERA closer to 4.00

My recommedned roster moves for the day: Kensing and Cintron to the minors in favor of Clippard and Gonzalez. I know GOnzalez was killing us with errors, but Cintron is simply not able to compete at bat.

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 11, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

i think we should offer nick a two year deal to "stick" around.

Posted by: longterm | May 11, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

The noise that you just heard was my dropping jaw hitting the keyboard...

---

What the Nats need to consider (and I know this is hard) is putting Dunn on the block and pulling off a Marlins-type trade where the Nats get mucho near-ready prospects for a highly valuable guy,

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 11, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I think trading Dunn is a horrible idea. We vinally have a lineup with pop. Zimmerman is finally seeing pitches to hit. We are three-quarters of the way to being a real big league culb. All we need now is someone who can get outs in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings on a semi-regular basis.

Posted by: twinbrook | May 11, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Yes, please. Stop with the trade Dunn talk. It's ludicrous.

And um, there is nobody named LANSING on this team.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 11, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm just excited to know that some people are still talking about firing Manny and bringing in Davey Johnson. It's like turning on the radio and listening to an oldies channel. Memories...

Just to cap off things, isn't it time for somebody to pipe in with "Sign Pedro, make him the closer?"

Posted by: baltova1 | May 11, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Bad pitching and terrible defense is killing this team. Dunn is probably the best trade piece. I like Dunn as a hitter, but he has a two year deal, and his not in the long term plan. If they trade him to an AL team, so he can DH, and we get back some quality young arms, I think it's something you have to do. If the right trade is there, you have to make it.

Posted by: BillyBeane | May 11, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I think Lansing = Logan Kensing. It's close.

What I think is ridiculous is why Acta had Kensing pitch to Snyder on 3-0 with 1st Base open. Ray Knight called it at the start of Snyder's AB - (1) because Snyder was the DBacks' hottest hitter and (2) it would set up a force play at any base. But when it got to 3-0, it was a no brainer.

Instead, Kensing pitched a high meatball over the center of the plate and Snyder sent it over Dunn's head in RF for the two-run double...which I think were runs 2 & 3 of that inning.

Posted by: combedge | May 11, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Dunn's not in the long term plan? So we're not planning on scoring runs after 2010?

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | May 11, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Acta is one of the worst game managers I have ever seen. He is one of the worst Spring Training camp managers ever.....WHAT IS ACTA GOOD AT?

Posted by: JayBeee | May 11, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

I know Acta and Rizzo did not create this bullpen mess but they must keep trying to improve the bullpen as well as the team in general. I do not think we have our best at the major league level. I don't buy the argument of "options" as a reason to keep a better player in the minors. Here are my suggested roster moves.

Bergmann replaces Kensing with the latter DFA
Gonzalez replaces Cintron


I would monitor Tavares. If he continues to falter then he is moved for either Rivera or Clippard. Also I give Cabrera two more starts. If he continues as he has then have Bergamnn take his spot and bring up Clippard as reliever. Cabrera's ERA is misleading because i think he has a lot of unearned runs.

If he Acta and Rizzo stay with the current bullpen set up then they are just as guilty as that dolt Bowden.

Posted by: mjames0 | May 11, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Yes, just like flowers after a spring rain, a Nats loss brings back the old, familiar commenters, baltova.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 11, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

You guys are just realizing Dunn is a fielding hazard?

Posted by: paulkp | May 11, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Acta didn't make the trade for Kensing, didn't put him on the roster and doesn't throw the pitches.

If he walks him the next batter probably walks in a run or doubles on his 3-0 count.

When they come home from SF, there will be an empty seat on the plane but it won't be Acta's.

Posted by: sjt1455 | May 11, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

If the Nats are still 15 games or more below 500 in July you absolutely have to seriously entertain trading Dunn and Johnson for young pitching and defense. They are not part of "the plan" and the whole idea is to build this team to win in the future. I was never a big fan of the Dunn signing - you only sign a player like that to finish a piece of the puzzle for a comptetitive team. He is much better suited to the AL.

Posted by: bendersx6 | May 11, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

No matter what happens to Kensing, we should definitely trade Lansing for anything we can get.

Posted by: ThatsRich | May 11, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Dunn's not in the long term plan? So we're not planning on scoring runs after 2010?

Posted by: diogenes_quixote

He signed a two year deal for a reason. He's looking to cash in and we're looking to move on. I wouldn't sign the guy unless the National League gets the DH before 2010. He can't field now, can you imagine him playing the field in his mid-30's?

My guess is, in two years he wont be the only option for us to score runs.

Posted by: BillyBeane | May 11, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

The umpire was a joke and the main culprit in the game lasting 4 hours.

Ray Knight had a wonderful moment right before Kensing's 3-0 pitch to Snyder, repeating his confusion as to why they weren't just walking him.

Posted by: dclifer | May 11, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I understand Acta trying to get ABs for Nieves and all, but common, he should have pinch hit Kearns in the 9th. That's a no brainer.

Posted by: dclifer | May 11, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Resigning Nick J.? Man, have we not learned anything from Belliard and DiMeathook? Nick Johnson strings together 25 healthy games and it's extension time? Uh uh. Maybe in August we can talk about the possibility, if he is still with the club.

Trading Dunn? Dunn has been a complete beast, a great club house guy and the protection that Zim needs. So what that he stinks in the field, he's by no means alone in that regard among sluggers (nor among non-slugging Nats). The guy is signed at what will be a reasonable rate next season and he is one of the most reliable producers in the game. The Nats get a guy that actually performs and you guys want him on the block?

Crazy talk in here.

Posted by: dfh21 | May 11, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I just gotta say it, if you're going to dump on somebody get their name right (lansing). Also, if you don't know baseball real well you might want to read about things before you write nonsense on this blog. For example, trading draft picks.

Posted by: natsguy | May 11, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Olsen and Cabrera are about even if you ask me. Both have a WHIP of about 1.85, which is brutal.
I don't know what the answer is, but these guys were pretty bad in spring training, and they've been pretty bad since the season opener.

Rizzo, make something happen (please).

Posted by: usmc53 | May 11, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Interesting stat thrown in here: The Nationals are 5-5-1 when scoring 6 or more runs. I wonder just how bad that record is as compared to other teams around the league. (I tried running the same report on baseballprospectus but the data looks off).

After yesterday's performance you'd have to think we'll Kensing's days are numbered. Colome is almost eligible to be recalled, Bergmann and Clippard both pitching well in relief roles in AAA, and they're so excited about Sosa they may directly recall him to the 25-man.

Posted by: tboss | May 11, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

While we can't hold Manny responsible for the horrible performance of this teams bullpen, he is responsible for certain strategy in given situations,bringing in Kensing yesterday was a brain fart, the kid fastball has no movement except into the hitters bat, not walking Synder in that scenario Sunday was in a word stupid,yes they won the series, but the Nats should have swept those chumps.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 11, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Just in case everyone's forgotten: nobody but the Nats wanted Dunn in the offseason at his current price. A team (even in the AL) looking for the final piece might want him for a stretch run but I'm guessing the return won't be anyone with much of an upside.

It says here that Dunn will be with the team past the expiration of his current deal.

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | May 11, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

@baltova:

We should sign Pedro and make him the closer. Seriously. If he were interested (he's probably not) and we were willing to pay him what he wants (we're probably not), it would be our best chance to solve the bullpen problems. It's not as though he'd be blocking some young prospect reliever who might get better with more reps in the majors.

Setting aside that pipe dream, I think we're looking at a 50% success rate from the bullpen for the rest of the year.

Posted by: jcj5y | May 11, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

from Rotoworld:

Washington - What is Alex Cintron doing playing the tougher position when he's in the same lineup with Anderson Hernandez? Because Hernandez is now too good to be moved around? When did this happen? Anderson Hernandez? Obviously, when Cristian Guzman needs a day off, the right move is to play Hernandez at short and Ronnie Belliard at second. That the Nats used Cintron at short on Sunday may very well have cost them the game. … The Nationals' bullpen problems have taken precedence so far, but Daniel Cabrera belongs in the minors with the way he's throwing right now and it's time for the Nats to designate him for assignment. Mike O'Connor would be one possibility to replace him. Collin Balester isn't pitching particularly well in Triple-A, and Tyler Clippard, who should have been one of the top rotation fallbacks, is still part of Syracuse's bullpen for some bizarre reason (he has a 1.10 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings, yet the Nationals have given everyone but him a shot).

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

"If the Nats are still 15 games or more below 500 in July you absolutely have to seriously entertain trading Dunn and Johnson for young pitching and defense. "

What do you mean "still" 15 games under .500? They're only 9 games under now (10-19) and since hitting the low mark of 1-10 on 4/19 they've played three weeks of .500 ball. In other words, two weeks of terrible ball (in which they were still in most every game til the end, unlike last year's terrible stretches where they were routinely blown out night after night) followed by three weeks of basically average ball. In other words, this team is flawed, yes, but trending up. You don't blow up a team and start over because of that.

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

from Hey Man!

San Diego State phenom Stephen Strasburg's 17-strikeout, no-hitter against Air Force was well-timed, coming in his home finale. It also came in front of Nats GM Mike Rizzo and his entire staff. One scout in attendance said Strasburg didn't throw a pitch under 98 mph in the final inning. He is expected to shoot for $50 million after the Nats surely pick him first, and while no one's had a bad thing to say about him (supposedly, he could have gone to Harvard), the history of allegedly extraordinary high school and even college pitching prospects is fairly spotty, including David Clyde, Matt Harrington, Brien Taylor (who got hurt), Todd Van Poppel and many other alleged can't-miss prospects who missed.

Posted by: dclifer | May 11, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I am all for patience while building a contender, but some consideration has to be given to fielding a moderately entertaining team now. Not everything, but something. Right now, they are enjoyable to watch when they are up, and time to get a hot dog when they are pitching and fielding. If Dunn is traded, Nats luck virtually guarantees that Johnson gets hurt and Kearns reverts to 2008. Belliard moves to first, Casto comes up, and .... yeesh. I am not buying many tickets for that team.

And why isn't Dunn in the plans beyond 2010? Is Ryan Zimmerman not in the plans 5 years from now, when he is 29? Dunn's 2 year contract was simply the Nats taking advantage of a shift in the market in their favor. Why can't they resign him if he is still productive? And for my last question, why can't they at least try Willingham in right? Dunn should stay in left field no matter what. Willingham should play 1st when Johnson is off, and right when they want him in the outfield. I don't know how great he will be at that, but shouldn't he have a better chance at it than Dunn? The versatility should increase his overall market value, so he shouldn't mind.

Posted by: Willy2 | May 11, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Man, the Nats take 2 of 3 on the road and folks here want to blow this team up?

Starting Cintron isn't the best thing to do, but everyone needs a day off. Even Guzman. It's not like they're going to start Cintron every day. And I'm guessing that he's sent down once the west coast trip is over.

Pinch hitting Kearns for Nieves? Not going to happen yesterday. If you take Nieves out, who's going to catch? Flores was unavailable yesterday due to a shoulder contusion.

Kensing does suck. That much is given. But he had to be sent out there (with the hopes he might be able to get them two innings) because there basically wasn't anyone left. Most of the other arms had been used up in both AZ games, and a couple even pitched in LA on Thursday. Kensing was the "freshest" arm Manny had in the 'pen yesterday. And I'm guessing that he gets DFA'd later this week when Colome is eligible to be called up from Syracuse.

Say what you want about not starting Guzman, Johnson, Dukes and Flores yesterday, but that lineup managed to plate 8 runs. That should be enough to get a win. The starters need to go more than 4 or 5 innings to save this bullpen. And the bullpen needs to stop walking batters. Nats pitchers: 1-2-3 innings are your friend. Try it sometime. You might like it.

Posted by: erocks33 | May 11, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand this. Why are we messing around with all this incompetence in the bullpen when Bergmann and Clippard are pitching excellent middle relief in Syracuse? They have WHIPs of 1.05 and 1.09 in combined 18 appearances, and they both throw strikes, particularly Bergmann (Clippard throws strikeouts).

Bring them both up, send down Kensing, Tavares, and all the other arsonists. Use them, and maybe Hanrahan, in middle relief, use Beimel as the closer.

This seems so obvious to me that I have to ask what it is I'm missing. Anybody?

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 11, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

"My guess is, in two years he wont be the only option for us to score runs."

Mr. Dukes seems to be learning a thing or two from him.

Posted by: Section506 | May 11, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I have to ask what it is I'm missing. Anybody?

Posted by: gilbertbp

Answer: The memory of what Bergmann and Clippard looked like when they were here.

Posted by: sjt1455 | May 11, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Manny Acta has inherited a mess ,and if anyone out there has half a brain you can see that the front office is trying to clean it up.These things don't happen overnight but it will be resolved and sooner than later,This club is capaable of competing in this division and if you can't see that your blind.
The Nats are closer than it looks

Posted by: kjmoon | May 11, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Chico - No love for Josh Willingham's 2 homeruns?

Posted by: ilovethenats | May 11, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Good post kjmoon.
Most of the posters here think this team was supposed to win the NL East.
They win 3 in a row and it was basically crickets on NJ, then a loss, and the same negative people come on, fire Acta, fire St. Claire, etc.
This is a fun team to watch grow, Dunn, Zimm, Dukes, Guzman, Flores, scoring tons of runs.
Watching the rotation start to blossom, Lannon, Martis, Zimmermann and hoping Olson and Cabrera become consistent.
And holding your breath when the bullpen comes in.
Nats fans should relax a little and enjoy watching this team come together.
Patience, good times will be here sooner than you think.

Posted by: patchss | May 11, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Heyman said what? He must be senile. :-D

---

from Hey Man!

San Diego State phenom Stephen Strasburg's 17-strikeout, no-hitter against Air Force was well-timed, coming in his home finale. It also came in front of Nats GM Mike Rizzo and his entire staff. One scout in attendance said Strasburg didn't throw a pitch under 98 mph in the final inning. He is expected to shoot for $50 million after the Nats surely pick him first, and while no one's had a bad thing to say about him (supposedly, he could have gone to Harvard), the history of allegedly extraordinary high school and even college pitching prospects is fairly spotty, including David Clyde, Matt Harrington, Brien Taylor (who got hurt), Todd Van Poppel and many other alleged can't-miss prospects who missed.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 11, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

they need to put the whole team on a diet. seriously, what a bunch of lard-asses. Dunn is a good twenty pounds overweight. surely he would field better without dragging around a ton of extra weight around the outfield. johnson's has puffied-up considerably. guzman's got to be the fattest SS in the league. belliard - belly - well the nickname speaks for itself. let's not forget Young.

zimmerman's the only one that seems to have dropped some weight. seems to have done him some good.

Posted by: stevie2 | May 11, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Pitching. Pitching. Pitching.

Adam Dunn at first on a regular basis is a chilling thought.

Dimitri "Dr. Strangeglove" is more heartening.

Posted by: jbartelloni | May 11, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

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