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Fielding Problems -- Part 43 In An Ongoing Series

Count this among the obvious lessons learned the hard way last night: Adam Dunn, Manny Acta said after this latest loss, "is not Torii Hunter."

Anybody care to argue that one?

Dunn, to be fair, has had a terrific offensive season, and it's tough to malign his shortcomings -- if only because they were always on the packaging's warning label. Almost every night, though, Dunn finds some way to cost his team in the field. Maybe he's slow to a double in right, turning it into a triple. Maybe he can't scoop a ball at first. Whatever. Yesterday, he missed a cut-off man, or rather, three cut-off men, with a throw from left field.

Because of that, Pittsburgh scored its first run. And Washington had its MLB-worst 43rd error of the season.

The situation: In the fourth inning, with John Lannan pitching, Andy LaRoche was on first. Jack Wilson, the No. 8 hitter, poked a double just down the third base line. It caromed off the wall in foul territory, then back toward left field. By the time Dunn picked it up, LaRoche, running hard, was hardly toward third base. With a decent left fielder out there, no way would Pirates third base coach Tony Beasley have waived LaRoche home.

But Beasley, to put it diplomatically, knew the situation.

He signaled LaRoche home.

A good throw would have nailed him. Even a poor throw, frankly, would have been enough.

Instead, Dunn, trying to throw to any of three cut-off men in his line, did something else.

As Acta later described: "He just spiked the ball."

Perhaps Dunn was trying to hit Cristian Guzman, the first cut-off man. Or maybe he intended to hit Ronnie Belliard or Ryan Zimmerman, both positioned in the infield. But Dunn's relay gave none of those three a chance. The throw tailed away from all of them, like some wicked putt rolling off a convex golf green.

"Yeah, it kicked off the wall, and I just tried to get it in quick," Dunn said. "I didn't want it to sail, so I made sure I got it down. It wasn't a great throw."

Dunn was charged with a throwing error. LaRoche scored, though he had no business doing so. And that was the only run Lannan allowed in his seven innings.

The play typified the MLB-worst defense, and later, Acta found himself defending the team's coaching and the effort his staff puts into teaching technique.

"I think all of you guys are witnesses here," Acta said. "If we're not doing anything, it should go on me and our coaching staff, but I think you guys come to the ballpark early enough. These guys, they work hard on everything. It's just too bad, because it reflects on us, the coaching staff, and these guys are not defensively getting it done."

Natural follow-up question: So to what do you chalk up the pattern of defensive shortcomings?

"You've just got to keep working," Acta said. "He missed the cutoff man on that one. [Justin] Maxwell didn't. He hit the cutoff man, a good play, and we got the guy at second base. So, you know, there are some guys -- I mean, if you want the 40 home runs and 100 RBI and .400 OBP then you also know that he's not Torii Hunter. He works hard, he gives us the best, but here and there he's going to be short defensively."

By Chico Harlan  |  May 21, 2009; 9:36 AM ET
 
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Comments

Sounds like Manny is concerned about getting the ax.

"I think all of you guys are witnesses here," Acta said. "If we're not doing anything, it should go on me and our coaching staff, but I think you guys come to the ballpark early enough. These guys, they work hard on everything. It's just too bad, because it reflects on us, the coaching staff, and these guys are not defensively getting it done."

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | May 21, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Apparently you are not getting through to the players or PRACTICE EVEN MORE. Get fired already

Posted by: makplan20002 | May 21, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Chico, this is somewhat misleading. Dunn gives the Nationals more runs than anyone else on the team or than he loses with his glove. His net effect on this team is hugely positive.

Posted by: Section506 | May 21, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

So to what do you chalk up the pattern of defensive shortcomings?

"You've just got to keep working,"


How is that in any way an answer to the question that was asked?

Posted by: RickFelt | May 21, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

"It's just too bad, because it reflects on us, the coaching staff, and these guys are not defensively getting it done."

Yup. Not getting it done in general does reflect on the coaching staff. And the manaqger...

Who is in charge here?

Duh.

Posted by: TWTIB | May 21, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

"Chico, this is somewhat misleading."

"To be fair, has had a terrific offensive season, and it's tough to malign his shortcomings," says Chico...in paragraph 2.

"Dunn gives the Nationals more runs than...he loses with his glove."

So, he lost us one last night...how many did he get us?

Posted by: mvm2 | May 21, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I totally agree with 506 and Manny on this one. Picking on Dunn for his defensive short-comings is like the pitbull owner who's shocked when their dog kills the neighbor's cat.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | May 21, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

"I think all of you guys are witnesses here," Acta said. "If we're not doing anything, it should go on me and our coaching staff, but I think you guys come to the ballpark early enough. These guys, they work hard on everything. It's just too bad, because it reflects on us, the coaching staff, and these guys are not defensively getting it done."

That's a very defensive answer. But the context of the interview wasn't provided. Not to be a Manny apologist, but he could have been specifically asked about the coach staff working with the players.

Posted by: dclifer97 | May 21, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I haven't been on the Fire-Manny bandwagon really but after hearing "It's just too bad, because it reflects on us, the coaching staff" I think I'm changing my mind."

Obviously he's doing everything 100% right and the losses are all the player's fault.

Posted by: derwink | May 21, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Part 43, eh? You're a funny guy, Chico.

And I agree with 506 and Rickety.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Jumping on the 506/Rickety/natsfan1a1 bandwagon. The team got Dunn for his bat, which has been terrific. If he could field, he would've cost a heckuva lot more money and probably would not even have been available to us. You know when you sign Adam Dunn that you are getting a great bat and a butcher defensively. Net, he's a big benefit.

Posted by: Section220 | May 21, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I would like to offer this question,

Has there ever been a manager in the history of baseball with this record, or close to it, who turned the situation around and gone on to greatness.

If it has happen before then I guess that it is why one should keep Acta.?

If it has not EVER happened before then why not cut the next chapter now. What would you be waiting for?

I can not find such a turn around in ANY sport but I could have missed something while looking through my tears of pain.

Posted by: CBinDC | May 21, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

It was bad throw, but it wasn't -that- bad. It just kind of short-hopped the infielder with some goofy spin. Outfielders bounce throws to the infield a lot for exactly the reason Dunn said, to avoid overthrowing. 9 times out of 10 the infielder picks it and throws LaRoche out at the plate by a million miles.

We didn't lose this game because of Dunn's throw. We lost because we scored one run against not-Cy-Young.

Posted by: joebleux | May 21, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Not sure if teams are still managed this way, but spring training used to be the place and time to establish fundamental fielding skills. The thinking used to be: "Woe to the manager who neglects defense in spring training."

If the Gnats were mediocre fielders, or even just bad, they wouldn't be so criticized and scrutinized. It's during the post season, which the Gnats don't have to worry about, that less than stellar fielding is magnified. It's not uncommon for a team with a poor regular season record to field well, nor is it unusual for a contender to be a run-of-the-mill fielding team.

But the Gnats are atrocious. This is yet another black mark on Manny's coaching record.

Adequate fielding not only can be taught, but should be taught. Woe to the manager who falls down in this fundamental obligation.

Posted by: MartinZook | May 21, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I'm so disgusted and drained by this team right now, that I'm kind of at a loss for words. I want to blast someone for this mess but, I just don't have the energy to do it.

We can talk about it in here until we all puke coat hangers but, it's the players who need to find away to turn this thing around.

I wish them luck and I will be watching tonight as I almost always do.

GO NATS!!

Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"Has there ever been a manager in the history of baseball with this record, or close to it, who turned the situation around and gone on to greatness."

Look at Torre's first years
http://www.baseball-reference.com/managers/torrejo01.shtml

Posted by: dclifer97 | May 21, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I'm with 506 and crew as well, but I do think that his defensive liability makes him the logical piece to move if the right opportunity to presents itself.

I like Dunn, I'm glad we got him (and I was opposed initially), he has contributed immeasurably to this year's offensive production - but he will either turn into a mediocre 1B for the Nats (which is not a terrible scenario) or an excellent DH for someone in the American League. I think the latter path is probably the best bet.

This team is built around pitching and we are now seeing the foundation emerge. For this staff to emerge as an elite staff, however, better defensive players are needed. We will arguably be a better team with Maxwell or Bernadina in the OF than Dunn (once, of course, we get the bullpen untangled . . . )

Posted by: lowcountry | May 21, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Whoever said "success has a thousand fathers but failure is an orphan" was not a Nationals fan.

On NJ, failure has so many fathers: Manny, St. Claire, Lastings Milledge (can't blame him anymore), Kearns, Cabrera, Hanrahan and the rest of the bullpen, and now Dunn?

We've become so exasperated that we're losing perspective. This team may have a lot of problems but it's pretty clear Adam Dunn is a net positive. He's done everything that was expected of him and more. And as someone else mentioned, if he had a big bat and a great glove, he would have been a lot more expensive. In fact, he might not have been available.

Let's keep our eyes on the ball: fix the bullpen, get Dukes healthy (because as those other bats cool a little we will need his more), and nurture this young but promising rotation of Lannan, Zimmermann, Martis, and the emerging rookies: Stammen, Detwiler, and perhaps Strasburg.

I have to believe that Rizzo is working on various trade options to strengthen the bullpen, and without knowing who teams are willing to give up, I'm not going to waste time fantasizing various package deals. We all know the pluses and minuses of dealing different people (Kearns, Willingham, NJ) and it's safe to assume Rizzo does too.

As for Manny? I'm still on the fence, but if things don't show at least a little improvement in a few weeks, I may sign up with the "make a change if only for the sake of change" crowd.

Posted by: Meridian1 | May 21, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

My thoughts when I saw that botched play last night were Dunn missed the throw to Guzman, then Zimmerman, Belliard and Lannan (or whoever else was on that side of the field) did a terrible job backing up the throw. That ball appeared to bounce under Guzman, but then go right by everybody else. One of those guys- if not all of them- have to be paying attention as the back-up guy, they could have picked up the bad throw and still gotten LaRoche at the plate. To me, it wasn't just a bad throw, but another mental lapse by the rest of the defenders over there not ready to stop a bad throw.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | May 21, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

You cited the exact example I was thinking of.

~~~~~~~~~~

Look at Torre's first years
http://www.baseball-reference.com/managers/torrejo01.shtml

Posted by: dclifer97 | May 21, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: RicketyCricket | May 21, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

"You cited the exact example I was thinking of."

Now, we just have to increase payroll to $200m!

Posted by: dclifer97 | May 21, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

If you can't hit a cutoff man at this point, it ain't gonna happen.

And changing the manager is not going to change the aggregate defensive skillset to a degree that it would turn the season around.

Focus on the biggest issue at hand, and it's not the defense.

Posted by: joemktg2 | May 21, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

That's a new expression for me, 505. Sounds kinda painful!

I'll be watching tonite, too, though.

---

We can talk about it in here until we all puke coat hangers but, it's the players who need to find away to turn this thing around.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

BTW, looks like Boz has a chat scheduled at 11 a.m.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Adam Dunn's fielding is a net gain, and acceptable if, and only if, he is surrounded by good fielders.

Maxwell is good. A trade for a Gorkys Hernandez or Carlos Gonzalez would be better.

Posted by: soundbloke | May 21, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Nice post Meridian1.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | May 21, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Reported by Heyman:

The White Sox have reached agreement with the Padres on a trade for Jake Peavy but are awaiting Peavy's approval now, SI.com has learned.

Peavy has full no-trade power and the trade will be entirely his call.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported this morning that the sides were close to a deal.

Posted by: dclifer97 | May 21, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Dunn has been better than advertised -- we knew he could not field well at all, we bought him for the bat and he has delviered it. And they have him playing RF one day LF the next, trying to work him in at 1B -- that can't be helping.

Anyway, Manny just does not get it. "It's just too bad, because it reflects on us, the coaching staff, and these guys are not defensively getting it done." What about the bad pitch selection, the awful pinch hitting, the no-control pitching staff and in particular awful bull pen, the pulling starters early to let our bull pen take over, the players placed into roles they cannot handle (Lastings at lead-off and CF, Beimel going multiple innings, etc.), the won/loss record!! -- is it "too bad" that all of that stuff does not reflect so well on the coaching staff??

Fire Acta TODAY.

Posted by: dfh21 | May 21, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"%player% has a full no-trade clause so the trade is pending %player%'s approval".

What is - a phrase that will never be heard in reference to a Washington National.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | May 21, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Everybody on this site should read "The Year The Yankees Lost the Pennant". Maybe we can sell out souls to the devil for Joe Hardy.

Posted by: natsguy | May 21, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

He came out of nowhere, I was just wandering through the garden when this pitbull came charging at me and attacked. I was lucky to get out alive. He was all slobber and teeth. I don't think I will ever forget the savagry of that attack - Signed, the neighbor's cat....

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 21, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Look at Torre's first years
http://www.baseball-reference.com/managers/torrejo01.shtml

Posted by: dclifer9

Thankz for the link

But Torre was not with the Mets when he started to have winning teams and Torre at least went up in the win column while with the Mets.

Can we wait almost 10 years and is Acta really Torre?


Posted by: CBinDC | May 21, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

" "You cited the exact example I was thinking of."

Now, we just have to increase payroll to $200m!"

Not exactly. We'd have to fire Torre, as th Mets did back in the day, and then we'd hire George Bambgerger, but I think he is dead -- and he did not win either, so we'd move on to Davey Johnson to get us a winner!! Hmmm, interesting.

Posted by: dfh21 | May 21, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Two news items from MLB Trade Rumors:

1. Bill Bray is out for the year with Tommy John surgery. I'm not sure that trade did anyone any good.

2. Rizzo is talking with Randy Hendricks about securing permission to redraft A Crow.

Posted by: Sidebar | May 21, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

natbiscuits,

Was that pitbull owned by Michael "VA Tech" Vick?

Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Honestly I think the Manny situation will work itself out by the end of the year. With Manny in a contract year I personally would be surprised if they let him go during the season. He's either going to turn it around sufficiently to earn a renewal or he's going to lose his way out of a job. There's no way they bring him back if things continue as they are for the rest of the season.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | May 21, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure that this wouldn't have happened if we had just fired Acta . . .
___________________________
He came out of nowhere, I was just wandering through the garden when this pitbull came charging at me and attacked. I was lucky to get out alive. He was all slobber and teeth. I don't think I will ever forget the savagry of that attack - Signed, the neighbor's cat....

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 21, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: lowcountry | May 21, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

"is Acta really Torre?"

Bullpen abuse - check
Unflinching stare - developing

Another news item yet to be explored (unless I missed it somewhere here) was the sudden retirement of Ryan Wagner. MASN reported this on Monday.
http://masnsports.com/2009/05/right-hander-wagner-retires.html

Posted by: dclifer97 | May 21, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I'm not going to pick on Dunn, but a healthy dose of reality from this (also) Reds fan is in order. He's never going to be any better than he is now offensively. In fact you're already seeing the inevitable coming back down to earth with his K's and batting average. Sure, he'll mash a few here and there, but he has much more value in the AL as a DH/1B type. He's only signed through next year, but that makes him that much more valuable in a trade because he's not a 3-4 month rental. You have to stop thinking this year with the Nats - they suck and will continue thus with or without Dunn. They need good young position players (not relievers) and potential starters to build around. We may not like it, but they have to stick to the plan.

Posted by: bendersx6 | May 21, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

This team has NEVER had great defense since Acta became manager. They should be taking infield before EVERY game. There's no excuse to not at least be fundamentally sound. Sure this team doesn't have a roster full of gold-glovers, but it doesn't take gold-glove, spectacular plays to play sound defense.

This team's fielding has and always will be a JOKE under Acta!

Posted by: Russtinator | May 21, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Dunn is not our fielding problem. We have one (maybe two) above average fielder on the team - Ryan Zimmerman (and maybe Kearns). Every other player is below major league average. Johnson has five errors at first base. He used to be above average, but he is not playing that way now. Guzman - no range; Hernandez - poor instincts; Flores - weak arm. Dukes is probably just average in CF. Harris is an excellent LF, but average at best in CF.

The fielding issue is not just one of execution, it is one of preparation, decision making, and hustle as well.

True that Dunn under threw the primary cutoff man, but Guzman knows Dunn's arm strength. Why was Guzman on the dirt. He should have been 10-20 feet out on the grass. Why were Guzman, Belliard, and Zimmermann all clustered together. Zimm needed to be near his base, but Belliard or better yet Johnson should have been aligned about half way in the infield (some teams have the 1B cover 2B, others would line up the 1B for the cutoff, but none of them cluster the whole infield in a ten foot circle around 3B). And for that matter, where was the pitcher. Why did the catcher have to chase the off line throw abandoning the plate. The Pitcher should have been backing up home and able to pursue. Right? Maybe I'm wrong on a detail or two there, but the theme is right. There were multiple failings on that play. If one player screws up it might be the player, if all of them screw up, it might be the coaching.

Repetition, repetition, repetition.

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 21, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I keep going to the Post web site a few times a day, each time thinking that I'm finally going to see "Acta Fired." Each time I am more and more amazed and resigned to having to put up with four and a half more months of this...

Posted by: truke | May 21, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

When you go to baseball-reference.com and look at the page with the all-time list of managers, guess whose name is on the top? Manny Acta.

Of course, it IS an alphabetical list.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I would like to offer this question,

Has there ever been a manager in the history of baseball with this record, or close to it, who turned the situation around and gone on to greatness.

If it has happen before then I guess that it is why one should keep Acta.?

If it has not EVER happened before then why not cut the next chapter now. What would you be waiting for?

I can not find such a turn around in ANY sport but I could have missed something while looking through my tears of pain.

Posted by: CBinDC

How about Bill Walsh? 8-24 in his first two years with the 49'ers. Super Bowl winners in his third year.

Joe Maddon with Tampa Bay? After two awful years, he took them to the World Series.

See, Manny's only one year behind schedule! I feel better already...

Posted by: baltova1 | May 21, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

baltova,

I think you've had way to much Kool Aid.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

i'm tired of watching belliard in the field. guzman fields grounders on 2b side of the bag. belliard can't get to first base to cover for double play after the force at home. belliard has no range on a ground ball hit at him. his throws to first are all over the place.

oh yea, and belliard didn't back up the throw from dunn through guzman. why are three fielders standing within 20 feet of each other when none of them want the ball? zimmermann could have come off the bag for that throw, guzman could have picked it up, belliard should have backed up guzman. i don't blame dunn for that throw, it wasn't an overthrow and it wasn't even far off line. it was skipped into the infield.

why do posters want manny to call players out then crush manny for calling out his players? i can think of a few reasons.

Posted by: longterm | May 21, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

In other news, I found this tidbit in a Steinberg chat transcript (hmmmm...):

Hamilton, N.Y.: If the Natinals go under, shouldn't DC be forced to forfeit one of its other sports teams as a penalty, like the Wizards? (Perhaps that's not enough of a penalty.)

Dan Steinberg: No no, I'd say the reverse. Maybe if we (there's that we again) offer the world our Natinals, the world could trade us back Blake Griffin, a soccer stadium and future considerations.

No one's ever asked me exactly why I'm so much of a jerk about the Nats, especially vis a vis other local teams. I don't really know the answer, and I realize that you didn't ask, either. But I think it does have something to do with DCU in my mind. I was extremely excited when the Nats were awarded to DC; I followed all the news intently and, since I wasn't writing about pro sports at the time, I sort of told myself I'd be allowed to become a Nats fan. But that never happened, and then it became obvious that DCU was going to be condemned to remain in that mess of a stadium, and while that isn't exactly the fault of any of the people in that franchise, the issues got mixed up in my head.

D.C. United has a history in this town, and a record of success, and just a terrific fan base, and that a team without any of those things would be gifted a massively expensive stadium while the other guys get stuck in Hades has definitely colored everything I write about the Nats. That's what I'll say if anyone asks me why I'm such a jerk.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

baltova,

I think you've had way to much Kool Aid.

Posted by: Section505203

I thought you would realize that Kool Aid was spiked with sarcasm...

Posted by: baltova1 | May 21, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

"We have one (maybe two) above average fielder on the team - Ryan Zimmerman (and maybe Kearns)."

This is the sort of claim that drives me nuts. I'm looking up for real how many above average fielders we have, because this is a claim that relies on a quantity (average, as determined by errors) and yet no effort has been made to verify it.

Posted by: Section506 | May 21, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Quick question: is the whole "did you all hear/know/realize that Ryan Wagner retired?" thing a joke?

I'm pretty sure that *very* piece of news has been on this site as least as many times as Joel Hanrahan threw a pitch to (or around) home plate in the 9th inning last night.

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | May 21, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I believe Dunn was assessed the error because Wilson advanced to third on what was essentially a double.

The run was earned, even though Lannan struck out the next batter, Maholm, to end the inning.

Those who watched the play - I was listening to Charlie and Dave, as even free Extra Innings isn't enough to get me to watch this team anymore - may believe otherwise, but the official scorer's assessment was that the poor throw was not responsible for the run.

Posted by: JohninMpls | May 21, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

WHOA. WHOOOOOOA.

Stop everything.

As I'm calculating this, I found out something that Chico ENTIRELY OMITTED.

Dunn only has 1 (One, uno) error in left field. And 1 in right and 2 at first.

Why are we even discussing this?

Posted by: Section506 | May 21, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

it was one of those times where two guys need to share an error. like a 1/2 sack in the nfl.

Posted by: longterm | May 21, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I thought you would realize that Kool Aid was spiked with sarcasm...

Posted by: baltova1 | May 21, 2009 11:20 AM
_________________________________________________________

At this point, cyanide might be better.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

i'm done with belliard and nieves. i've been sick of nieves for awhile. why do both of these guys have commercials?

Posted by: longterm | May 21, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Ryan Wagner retired because the news that you're not allowed to trade draft picks in baseball just stopped him in his tracks. I mean, if you can't do that, really is there any reason to go on?

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Why are we even discussing this?

Posted by: Section506

Because they're just trying to kill time before they are forced to post the "How Long Ago Should Manny Have Been Fired?" Poll

Posted by: RickFelt | May 21, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

nunof1, have you heard of steven strasberg?

Posted by: longterm | May 21, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

"i'm done with belliard and nieves. i've been sick of nieves for awhile. why do both of these guys have commercials?"

Because they had to silence the Milledge haiku lady when Lastings got shipped down.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

While replacing the manager may (or may not) help some, I have to admit that I am a bit confused as to why it is ALL his doing that suddenly this year the team can't field... I guess that he has such deficient delegation skills that none of the other coaches have ANYTHING to do with the team...save the hitting coach and The Saint...

Posted by: OldDude | May 21, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Someone needs to tell Steinberg that soccer is barely even a blip on the radar screen in the U.S.A much less this town.

If you like to see people run and kick a ball and then fall down and fake an injury like a pansy, it's a great sport.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

506, that's a good point. There was that ball hit over his head (on Opening Day?) that led to two runs, but an error was not assessed. I think that, sometimes, Dunn's poor defense doesn't show up on the scoresheet.

But really, I think Chico's underlying point is that the Nats as a unit are horrific offensively. And you can quantify that - 43 errors and 28 unearned runs in just 39 games.

During Monday's game, it was pointed out that no other team in baseball had more than 30 errors. I haven't bothered to keep track, but I doubt anyone bridged that 13-error gap in just a few nights.

Posted by: JohninMpls | May 21, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Bobby Cox's 1978 Braves team went 69-93 and followed that up with a 66-94 season in 1979 before playing two seasons of roughly .500 ball in his first stint in Atlanta.

I think it's pretty hard to hang this season's failures on Acta. We all knew that the bullpen was a serious weakness before the season started, and we all knew that while the offense would be better, the defense would suffer because the bats we added (Dunn and Willingham) and one we were counting on (Milledge) were all liabilities in the field.

We took a sizable risk going with a young staff, a suspect bullpen and a weak defense, and the chickens have come home to roost. No amount of pregame fungoes is going to turn Adam Dunn into a plus outfielder. No number of extra groundballs is going to improve Cristian Guzman's range. And it appears that St. Randy will not be able to magically transform Daniel Cabrera into anything other than what he was in Baltimore, or recover Scott Olsen's lost velocity.

The team remains structurally flawed and there is nothing that the coaching staff can do about that.

Posted by: BobLHead | May 21, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

good fielders: zim,nick, jesus, willie, elijah, austin, nieves (eli not what you would consider + in cf but in either lf or rf he is, same with willie)

Posted by: bford1kb | May 21, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

"Has there ever been a manager in the history of baseball with this record, or close to it, who turned the situation around and gone on to greatness."

Look at Torre's first years
http://www.baseball-reference.com/managers/torrejo01.shtml

Posted by: dclifer97 | May 21, 2009 10:17 AM |
-------------------------------------------

What situation did Torre turn around? Not the Mets or the Braves, who both fired him. The Yankees? They were already a playoff team when he took over for Showalter.

I love Joe, and as a Mets fan I thought the Mets should have had more patience, but Torre has lucked out by walking into 2 of the sweetest situations a manager could have. And Mariano Rivera could make anyone a great manager.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

no, no, no chico

you've got it wrong. the nats field with the greatest of E's.

Posted by: surly_w | May 21, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

nunof1, have you heard of steven strasberg?

Posted by: longterm | May 21, 2009 11:35 AM |

-----------------------------------------------

Is he any relation to the young phenom, Stephen Strasburg?

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

@Surly w -- Nicely played.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Natsbisquit is on the money about Dunn's throw. These guys were all in the wrong place, but in any case, one of them should have stopped the ball. It just goes to show that the really big screwups take a team effort.

On another point in the game, did any Nats fan anywhere want Nieves to get on base with two outs in the 6th? If he had, my guess is that we would have lose 5-1 or worse, with the pen pitching 3 innings.

Posted by: nats24 | May 21, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

agree wholeheartedly an the nieves thing, I was hoping for home run or an out, figured lannan would stay in either case

Posted by: bford1kb | May 21, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The Lerners can't afford to have much more patience with Manny and his offensive defense.

Posted by: Roscoe4 | May 21, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Someone needs to tell Steinberg that soccer is barely even a blip on the radar screen in the U.S.A much less this town.

If you like to see people run and kick a ball and then fall down and fake an injury like a pansy, it's a great sport.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2009 11:39 AM |
-----------------------------------------------

I'll refrain from the obscenities this comment deserves, to just point out a salient fact:

DC United had better TV ratings than the Nats last year, and it was one of the team's worst seasons ever...barely missing out on the playoffs as they hit the goal frame 5 times in seeking the goal that would have pout them through.

This season, DCU has scored the game-tying or game-winning goal 5 times in the last 15 minutes, several times after the 90-minute mark, in stoppage-added time.

Talk to me when the Nats provide anything like that excitement over the course of a season.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

bford

Dukes is a good fielder in right and an alright fielder in centre. Johnson looks like the broken leg ha really damaged his range. And Kearns range was never that good.

Posted by: soundbloke | May 21, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"Has there ever been a manager in the history of baseball with this record, or close to it, who turned the situation around and gone on to greatness."

How about Tom Kelly in MN and Bobby Cox in ATL. Remember when Cox was the hopeless gagger in Toronto? His stint in ATL in the late 70s? worst to first 1990 - 1991. Kelly started (world series his first full year), then his team fell off the cliff, before worst to first in 90 - 91.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 21, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Great teams make great managers. Manny was a surprisingly good manager in 2007 when the team outperformed expectations. Now after 1.25 disappointing seasons, he's on the hot seat. It's to be expected, I guess, but it's not particularly rational.

Posted by: BobLHead | May 21, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I don't want to hear that this is the best we can expect from Dunn defensively speaking, for the kind of money he's being paid you had better believe I want smart effort not some lame brain little league krap that i saw last night hitting the cutoff man is baseball 101. NO!! he doesn't get a pass because he's supposedly improved our offense, he strikes out enough with RISP in fact too much to suit my taste this is the problem i see in all of sports players not being held to a higher standard you think players like M antle,Maris,Mays,Aaron,the Robinson's,Brock,Flood,Colavito,Kaline,Hinton, and the like settled for being average NO!and why? because they didn't make millions,they didn't have a union to intervene when the manager was being unfair PLEASE!! listen Dunn can hit no doubt but he needs to field his position that's the bottom line and i mean field it with competence.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 21, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

If troubled by my assertion that the Nationals have only one maybe two above average fielders and looking for facts to back that up, I recommend Bill James Baseball Handbook (feel free to review both 2008 and 2009 editions) where you can review range factors. Also, take a look at The Fielding Bible and the Hardball Times. You can also check the current fielding percentages. Then feel free to debate the worthiness of any one (or more) of those sources before taking in a game. What I believe you will find is that in terms of range, only Zimmermann, Kearns, and Harris will be ranked among the best in terms of range. (Harris particularly for his work in LF). To my knowledge you will not find a meaningful quantitative measure of arm strength anywhere, but when healthy both Kearns and Zimmerman are solid (Harris less so). You cannot quantitatively prove a players defensive ranking because range, arm, mental approach, etc... also play into it, but who on our team would you like to debate is better than average? Boz says Johnson is slightly above average. OK that's defensible, but average is the midpoint of 30 teams. I don't think you can argue Guzman, Flores, Willingham, Dunn, Dukes (in CF), or Hernandez as top 15.

Not sure why my claim that the Nationals are poor fileders should drive anyone crazy as they are on a pace for more than 180 errors this year (the Rangers led the league last year with 130+, the Nats were second with 123). Again pretty quantifiable.

I didn't take the time to provide footnotes and bibliographies previously, but that doesn't mean the claims were groundless. By all means, look it up.

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 21, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

"It's to be expected, I guess, but it's not particularly rational."

No, assuming someone can't (severely) regress in 1.25 years is irrational.

Posted by: RickFelt | May 21, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

@natsbiscuits -- No one is troubled by that assertion. It's on display every night.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

So it is rational to argue that he was a good manager in 2007 and that he has "regressed" to the point that he is a bad manager now?

Posted by: BobLHead | May 21, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Good post up there ^ a ways, BobL.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I'll amend that to post(s) after reading further.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I never argued that he was a good manager. I was running with your assumption that someone could be considered a good manager after a 16 game under .500 season.

Posted by: RickFelt | May 21, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

a 16 game under .500 season.

a single 16 game under .500 season*

Posted by: RickFelt | May 21, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

nunof1, have you heard of steven strasberg?

Posted by: longterm | May 21, 2009 11:35 AM |

-----------------------------------------------

Is he any relation to the young phenom, Stephen Strasburg?

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse


fischy, fischy, fischy, fischy foooooooo.

i was just riding the coattails of nunof1's joke. hard for posts to appear in context though.

Posted by: longterm | May 21, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

RickFelt, this is what Baseball America had to say about the 2007 manager of the year voting (Wedge and Melvin, now fired, won):

"Both Eric Wedge of Cleveland and Bob Melvin of Arizona had the virtue of skippering division-winning ballclubs. So, sorry, Nats fans, while Manny Acta's superb job of taking a team handicapped by a real-world replacement-level pitching staff to respectability drew a quartet of third-place sympathy votes, the National League's electorate probably had its fill of underdog heroism after tabbing Joe Girardi last year for his equally shockingly decent Marlins team last year (a selection they may come to regret)."

Was Manny responsible for lucking into a surprisingly average pitching staff in 2007? Is he responsible for the bullpen implosion and bad defense in 2009?

Posted by: BobLHead | May 21, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

So what your saying is that a one year estimation of managerial quality is meaningless since both of 2007's winners are now jobless yes? So we shouldn't give his awesome 2007 campaign much weight? Alright then.

In the 200 games since that unforgettable season his teams have won 35% of their games. I'd hate to see what kind of horrors we'd be bringing upon ourselves by letting him go now. He may someday show up again as the bench coach for the Marlins and really stick it to us.

Posted by: RickFelt | May 21, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

@long-term -- I'm still kind of a t a loss here -- don't know what you mean -- but I'll take your word for it. You have my apologies...

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

fishcy,

Soccer is flat out irrelevant in the U.S.

DCU has won what, 3 championships? (I don't really know because I don't follow it.) and they don't have a huge following in DC. They have a small hard core following but, that is it.

Think about that for a second, in a town absolutley begging for a winner and a team that has won multiple titles, barely has a following.

When the Lerner's are embarrassed enough to stop with the cheapness crap and the Nats become very competitive, watch the TV ratings and attendace figures jump, just like with the Caps.

Soccer didn't become relevant with Pele and the NASL in the 70's. It didn't make if after all the World Cup hoopla in the 90's. Face it, Women's college hoops does better in the U.S. It ain't happening.


Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

What I am saying is that managers get too much credit when their teams win and too much blame when they lose. We're losing, so Manny is getting too much of the blame. I think the jury is out on whether or not he's a good to great manager and therefore the long term answer here. But I also don't think firing him now would serve any useful purpose.

Posted by: BobLHead | May 21, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Acta needs to be fired or extended, he is powerless to discipline players who have every reason to expect that they will outlast him with the Nats, keeping a lame duck twisting in the wind is not helping this team.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | May 21, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

"Soccer is flat out irrelevant in the U.S.

DCU has won what, 3 championships? (I don't really know because I don't follow it.) and they don't have a huge following in DC. They have a small hard core following but, that is it."

There are probably more DCU fans in DC proper than there are registered Republicans. Republicans have won at least as many recent championships (i.e. Presidential elections) as DCU has won MLS championships. (I don't really know, because I don't follow Republicans. Or soccer, for that matter.) Does this make Republicans flat out irrelevant in the American political debate?

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

@Section505203 -- just because you're an ignorant boob doesn't mean everyone shares your ignorance.

4 league championships, and various other titles that get less attention even among most soccer fans.

Relevant to whom? Obviously, not you. The problem the league has -- and they're well aware of it -- is that there is no shortage of soccer fans here. Just a shortage of MLS fans. Mostly, that's down to the relatively poor quality of the teams, and the access people have to world-class teams. The European Champions League final next week will get fantastic ratings on ESPN, for a midweek afternoon game. The English FA Cup final this weekend on Fox Soccer Channel will get better ratings than any nationally broadcast MLS game, even though it's on in the morning all across the country.

If you knew anything about the league -- like the enormous demand for tickets to games for the new, expansion Seattle Sounders team, you wouldn't be so dang sure of yourself. They average more fans than the Mariners, and that was with a hard cap because they closed off the upper decks at Qwest. Demand has been so high, they've now expanded ticket availability. Their success also shows what happens for teams that locate in the right facility in the right place. Some of the teams are struggling with suburban football stadiums, or ancient sewage dumps like RFK, or some poorly thought-out sites for new stadiums that are too far away from population centers. Other teams are selling out. Eventually, MLS will be a vital part of the sports fabric, once the growing pains are over.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

How on earth did you all let this one get by?

"no, no, no chico

"you've got it wrong. the nats field with the greatest of E's.

"Posted by: surly_w | May 21, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse "

Brilliant!

Posted by: Section506 | May 21, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

"I also don't think firing [Manny] now would serve any useful purpose."

I can understand that point of view.

The reason I'm inclined to disagree is that I'm having trouble describing the glass as half-full - that is, what the useful purpose is in keeping him around. In other words, I can't complete this sentence:

"Manny Acta is a good choice as the Nats' manager because _______."

What goes in the blank?

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | May 21, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Manny's Nationals didn't suddenly lose their ability to field.

In 2007 they had the 5th most errors in the NL: 109.

The Nats made the most errors in the NL in 2008: 123

In 2009, Manny's Nats are on a pave for 179 errors.

Each year under Manny, they have gotten worse - at least as far as raw errors go.

---------------------

While replacing the manager may (or may not) help some, I have to admit that I am a bit confused as to why it is ALL his doing that suddenly this year the team can't field... I guess that he has such deficient delegation skills that none of the other coaches have ANYTHING to do with the team...save the hitting coach and The Saint...

Posted by: OldDude |

Posted by: comish4lif | May 21, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know if this weekend's games with the Orioles are supposed to be sold out?

I'm hoping to go tomorrow, but I won't be sure until tomorrow afternoon whether I can make it or not. Would it be a waste of time to show up at 6:30 or so in hopes of getting tix?

Posted by: usmc53 | May 21, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

fischy, I'm glad you've found something you love. Now shut-up. And everyone else, stop. Goff has a great soccer blog, go there.

Posted by: Section506 | May 21, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I think we should bring George Brett in to defend Manny:

http://tinyurl.com/pmg69q

Posted by: BobLHead | May 21, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"Each year under Manny, they have gotten worse - at least as far as raw errors go."

Of course, they got better the first year with Manny than the last year with Frank. That doesn't fit into your argument, it's just true, so feel free to disregard it.

Posted by: Section506 | May 21, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

BobLhd's post above re; the structure deficiencies of the club is pretty solid.

But Bobby Cox never did turn it around with the Braves (he had one season where they finished with 81 wins) until after he got canned and went to Toronto and came back years later. Acta cannot by his presence improve the qulaity of the talent, but he can effect how that talent is applied. He can place players in the best position to succeed. He can dictate the plays, the postions and roles of the players, the pitches, the pitch-outs, etc. As an example, Acta annointed Lastings as CF and lead-off man. Do not blame that one failing on Bowden or even on Lastings himself -- the kid had never been a true CF and never been a lead-off man and he possesses limited maturity at age 24 to be able to get those TWO roles down for MLB play in one Spring camp. Acta blew that one and it cost us a few games in Miami, without doubt.

Listen, Acta is just not the guy. I mean does anyone really think he has something so very special? What am I missing? What makes this guy irreplaceable?

We can talk Torre or Cox, but Acta is neither of those guys -- maybe someday, but now he is just the losingest manager in the game and every night his club finds new and exciting ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory while Manny makes excuses. Acta's gotta go.

Posted by: dfh21 | May 21, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

There are probably more DCU fans in DC proper than there are registered Republicans. Republicans have won at least as many recent championships (i.e. Presidential elections) as DCU has won MLS championships. (I don't really know, because I don't follow Republicans. Or soccer, for that matter.) Does this make Republicans flat out irrelevant in the American political debate?

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 1:26 PM
____________________________________________________________

And the number of monikers you go by on this blog probably outnumbers both DCU fans and Republicans in this area combined.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

@506
-------------------

@Surly w -- Nicely played.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 12:09 PM |
----------------------------------

I didn't let it get by.

Nor do I let needlessly asinine comments about the world's most popular sport get by.

That is all.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

"Would it be a waste of time to show up at 6:30 or so in hopes of getting tix?"

The games won't sell out but you will be stuck buying the overpriced outfield seats. I'd recommend watching StubHub during the afternoon to see if someone drops their price, tickets will remain available up to two hours before the first pitch. Otherwise show up a 5:00 and buy $5 tickets.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | May 21, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know if this weekend's games with the Orioles are supposed to be sold out?

I'm hoping to go tomorrow, but I won't be sure until tomorrow afternoon whether I can make it or not. Would it be a waste of time to show up at 6:30 or so in hopes of getting tix?

Posted by: usmc53 | May 21, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

just because you're an ignorant boob doesn't mean everyone shares your ignorance.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 1:28 PM __________________________________________________________

Real nice, turning a civil discussion into personal attack, naming call fest.

Have a nice day, Fischy.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

There's always scalpers looking to unload tix @ below face value.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

You guys make it sound as if asking nunof1 to identify all his monikers would lead to to a scene reminiscent of the last 5 minutes of Spartacus.

Posted by: soundbloke | May 21, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

"Does anyone know if this weekend's games with the Orioles are supposed to be sold out?

I'm hoping to go tomorrow, but I won't be sure until tomorrow afternoon whether I can make it or not. Would it be a waste of time to show up at 6:30 or so in hopes of getting tix?"

Go on the Nats website tomorrow and look for tickets to the game as if you intended to buy some. Ask the system to give you a block of seats that's somewhat larger than the size of your group, and do it for several different sections at your chosen price point(s). If you find that you're getting offered good seats in most or all of those sections, then the chances are good you'll be able to buy walk-up tickets to the game, provided you get there an hour or so before gametime. If the online system can't find the type of seats you're looking for, then the game may be getting close to a sellout.

Of course there are two other options that always seem to be available, namely Diamond Club seats and buying tickets from the few scalpers that always seem to be hanging out near the Metro station. But for differing reasons you may not want to avail yourself of either of them. Your call.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

There was nothing asinine on my comments about the world's most popular sport. I am the fan you described that watches international soccer. I asked you to drop it, because it's boring and repetitive.

Much like all your other points.

Posted by: Section506 | May 21, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

@Section505203

Well -- I'll apologize for the insulting comment, but I felt provoked as I found your comments to unnecessary, completely off-topic and carrying a fairly dismissive tone, too. You might even say insulting, though not directed at anyone personally...other than Steinberg.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

@ 506 -- I did not refer to your comment. My entire dialogue was with Section505203, in response to his comments.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Oh crap. Apologies for getting the ball rolling downhill with my snippet from the Steinberg chat. I was interested from a Nats fan perspective, not following soccer myself (not that there's anything wrong with it).

Speaking of chats, I enjoyed the Boz All-Star Ballot vignette in his chat today. I also appreciated his empathy for our fan pain.

Good one re. the monikers, soundbloke.

I also liked surly's pun, 506.

And my kingdom for a new post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I cannot help thinking this thread is a way to try to cast the light off the real problem, THE BULLPEN. Dunn's throwing error did not cost the Nationals the game what cost the Nationals the game is Joel Hanrahan...why is he the closer or in the bullpen at all??? He has admitted several times this season that his stuff is off especially his slider... then why even let him throw one...his remark that Wil blocks most balls is irrelevant with a man on 3B you should not be throwing anything that might even have a chance of going into the dirt! Adam Dunn is responsible for 90%+ of the Nationals positive outcomes this year..if he were not in the lineup there would be no streak by Zimmerman (not to take anything away from him Zim is in the zone this year) because he would not see the pitches he has been seeing, just look at the day the hitting streak ended, why could Zito pitch him tougher because there was no Dunn behind him!

Posted by: markfd | May 21, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

If all my other points are boring and repetitive, what does that make your comment recognizing Surly W's funny line, which echoed my earlier comment doing the same?

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Whereforth art thou, Tracee??

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

...and yet they have gotten MUCH worse this year (on pace for 56 more errors) and this has ONLY to do with Manny and NOTHING to do with the other coaches (who never seem to get mentioned at all)...

Weird.

Posted by: OldDude | May 21, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"Real nice, turning a civil discussion into personal attack, naming call fest."

Never stops you from either insulting me in my absence or trying to tar me with the posts of others though, does it 505203? You sure seem to have a thin skin, always complaining about name calling or personal attacks even though you do just as much of it as anyone else here.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

This from Cameron over on BI regarding the Maddon extension in TB:

"Just how good has Maddon been? Whether you like the Rays or not, his track record there is virtually unassailable. His career record in Tampa Bay is 244-283, an unbelievable mark when you consider that his first two seasons saw the Rays suffer 101 and 96 losses. He's shepherding in a monumental shift in the team's starting rotation, sticking to young pitchers despite struggles, constantly rebuilding their confidence and, in the case of Matt Garza last year, teaching them how to get more out of themselves for the good of the team. Sure, last year could still be a one-year wonder, but it sure doesn't feel like it. Tampa Bay has a system with plenty of top prospects, and they have an owner in Andrew Friedman who continues to show a willingness to add high-priced pieces when it can make an impact for the club (see under outfielder Pat Burrell)."

So they saddled Maddon with a young and dysfunctional team, and he stuck it out for two years, and then they got rid of the ill-fitting pieces, the young talent matured and they ended up in the World Series. I'm not saying that will happen here, but it could. The pitching pipeline looks promising. Now, as always, "we need more Zimmermans."

Posted by: BobLHead | May 21, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

If the Nationals believe that they can find a manager and/or pitching coach who can teach fundmental baseball including emphasis on fielding, baserunning, and pitching then they should absolutely consider a replacement. But I doubt that the Nats management believes that changing managers will help them win more games this year.

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 21, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

fischy,

Don't sweat it. My apologies, for hitting a nerve with the soccer bashing.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"Whereforth art thou, Tracee??"

She's not in Kansas any more, Toto.

Oh, wait. She is!

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2009/05/so_long_farewell_etc.html

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

> Now, as always, "we need more Zimmermans."

If we do - or even if we don't - I think we should take a page from the Rays' playbook and change the name of the team. How about the Washington Zimmermen? (Could even take another page from the Rays' playbook and hire Don Zimmer to replace Screech...)

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

@natsfan1a1 -- I missed your original comment. As a fan of both teams, I'll say this: there's no comparison between fans at the games. At one, they're focused on getting food and playing video games. At the other, they're focused on rooting for the team, making noise and watching the game. Also, DCU's owners proposals were a helluva lot more reasonable than MLB's and the Lerners' demands. DCU is seeking about a fifth of the level of public financing that the Nationals got. Doesn't seem too outrageous, as they have about a quarter of the home games, and the stadium would also host the women's team games, NCAA games, and various international contests...plus, be open to other, non-soccer events.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Looks to me like Dunn is safer at 1st than in the outfield. Willingham isn't much better. I suspect they would trade Johnson and Willingham along with pitching to get what they need. You have to wonder if they will re-up Nick Johnson next year. They should, he is superior defensively and brings a bat, but would he even want to stay? That is going to be a serious problem for this team here on out. The ownership is niggardly when it comes to compensation, they are better at pinching pennies than building a winner. Its why there are probably too many guys here getting "second chances". And they find creative ways to lose.

I have to agree with the folks that say Acta has to go. The losing, defeatist attitude of this team has to change. It was so much better under Frank Robinson. And they were somewhat competitive. Acta behaves more like a single A manager than an MLB manager.

Posted by: periculum | May 21, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, nunof, I remembered that but also remembered her saying that she might chime in from time to time. Maybe she has more of a life than to scroll through all of our comments on her vacation (nah), but I thought I'd do a shout out anyway.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

haha re. Don Zimmer, nunof. Maybe they could have a between-inning contest where Nats fans see who can roll him the farthest downhill?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

"It was so much better under Frank Robinson."

I never thought it could get so bad that I'd actually agree with this statement.

Posted by: Juni | May 21, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Would love to see more focused and noisy rooting at Nats Park, fischy (as I would have also liked to see at RFK during most Nats games that I attended).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Never stops you from either insulting me in my absence or trying to tar me with the posts of others though, does it 505203? You sure seem to have a thin skin, always complaining about name calling or personal attacks even though you do just as much of it as anyone else here.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 1:54 PM
______________________________________________________________
nunof1,

Your a different animal, so to speak, because, quite frankly, I have trouble respecting you and the way you come at people, with your know it all, elitist, arrogant style. Which you cover with your use of multiple monikers.

Nobody is immune to it, I've seen you slam even nice, well respceted posters like NatsNut, 1a, Bob L. Head, 506, etc.

Not to mention inappropriate jokes, like the one with Nick Johnson's son.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Take it off-list, fellas.

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | May 21, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

> Now, as always, "we need more Zimmermans."

Everyone is reasonably impressed with Dukes this year. Maxwell looks good as well. Dunn, Johnson, and Flores.

They need Frank Robinson back I think. Whatever he did he kept folks in line, playing a high level unless they were hurt. Given the potential talent they have now one would think he could do better than Acta?

As for trades, perhaps trading Guzman and keeping Johnson makes more sense? They are likely to get more for Guz pitching wise, and they have a couple of decent shortstops down in the minors.

Posted by: periculum | May 21, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

"haha re. Don Zimmer, nunof. Maybe they could have a between-inning contest where Nats fans see who can roll him the farthest downhill?"

Zimmer is well over 70 years old. To do that to him would be cruel. But if you must, I suggest they station Frank Robinson at the bottom of the hill to save the game with some great defensive work.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

The most interesting four-word pithy comment I think I ever read with respect to baseball was something one of the BP guys said (I THINK it was Will Carroll, but I guess it could have been someone else). "Health is a skill."

Now, what I THINK he meant is that health is sort of another "tool," and that you have it or you don't. Some guys' bodies are designed to play 150+ baseball games per year, and some just aren't. See Escobar, Alex.

My point - as much as I love Nick Johnson, his current run of health won't last. He has not gotten unlucky with his injuries, he just doesn't possess the "skill" of health. So, as much as I will miss him, I really, really hope they trade him. Like, yesterday. And if, somehow, they don't trade him, they shouldn't even think of re-signing him. Which means they really have to trade him.

Posted by: Section220 | May 21, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

If the Nationals believe that they can find a manager and/or pitching coach who can teach fundmental baseball including emphasis on fielding, baserunning, and pitching then they should absolutely consider a replacement.

That's what AAA, AA, Advanced A, A, and the Gulf Coast league are for. Not the majors. The majors is about managing talent, getting the job done, but most of all its about exuding an attitude!!!
The attitude that we are going to try to win this game whatever it takes! Taking one game at at a time.

Posted by: periculum | May 21, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

From Joe Sheehan's Baseball Prospectus Chat - I'm not sure how much I agree with his analysis of Shell.

Mike (D,C.): Do the Nats have the worst bullpen in baseball history?
Joe Sheehan: There are ways to measure this, and I think that barring a substantial improvement, they will end up having the worst pen in history. It's not just that they don't have good pitchers; it's that they have no good pitchers *behind* the current staff, and it's possible they released their best one (Steven Shell).

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | May 21, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Good one, nunof.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I have no desire to get into a p*ssing match with you here, 505203. But I can't fail to notice that you have either reposted or brought up that comment I made about Johnson about five times since the one time I wrote it and later apologized for it. I think it's pretty clear to most people what's going on between you and me here, so I'll leave it to them to decide which of us is guilty of what.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

nunof1,

Fair enough. Let's move on.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh, periculum -- I guess you didn't get the memo. We're not supposed to use that "n" word, because it sounds like the other "n" word...even if it has a totally unrelated derivation.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

My point - as much as I love Nick Johnson, his current run of health won't last. He has not gotten unlucky with his injuries, he just doesn't possess the "skill" of health. So, as much as I will miss him, I really, really hope they trade him. Like, yesterday. And if, somehow, they don't trade him, they shouldn't even think of re-signing him. Which means they really have to trade him.

Its not like they are stuck hoping that Larry Broadway decides to learn to hit. They have Dunn, Willingham, and Young if he can get back into shape. Plus more in the minors from the looks of Chris Marrero. So, things are different now.

Keep Nick, if he gets hurt you can slide in a replacement.

So, you want to throw out Escobar, Alex eh? I see your Escobar and raise you a Clemente, Roberto. I believe with focus and concentration, the right mix of talent around him Nick can hit like that. It requires a better, winning attitude for this team to do that for the long season though.

Posted by: periculum | May 21, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Where have you gone, Alex Escobar??

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Nick, I think he must read this blog. Shortly after my disparaging comments about his speed and sliding ability, he tripled in the next game (with a perfectly acceptable head-first slide), and then stole his first base of the year last night.

Go Nick-the-Quick!

Posted by: joebleux | May 21, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh, periculum -- I guess you didn't get the memo. We're not supposed to use that "n" word, because it sounds like the other "n" word...even if it has a totally unrelated derivation.

Guess not, its in Websters and refers more to Scotsmen than to any other ethnic group ... ~smiles~

Posted by: periculum | May 21, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Wow, it gets *really* cranky in here after a few bad games. OK, a few years' worth of bad games. Still. I thought sports was supposed to build character?

Maybe we should try for Cap-and-trade on errors. Other teams could trade their errors to the Nationals in exchange for draft picks.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 21, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

"Manny Acta is NOT a good choice as the Nats' manager because the team has a negative, defeatist losing attitude."

AND THAT ***IS*** THE manager's job.

Posted by: periculum | May 21, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

@natsfan1a1 -- you might be interested in this comment from over at Soccer Insider blog:
--------

Agreed. I went last night for the first time since they left RFK, and for half the people there, Nats games are a just a crappy, overpriced bar with a $30 cover charge.

The half smoke was delicious, though.

Posted by: me_ahogo | May 21, 2009 2:22 PM

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

It does get cranky with losing streaks, sec. 3. Always has. On the character building front, that must be true, as we do seem to have our fair share of them on this blog (and I'm not excluding myself).

In other news, I was trying to search the NJ archives for comments on Frank's managerial style, but it looks like the online archives only go back to ST 2007. Didn't we start up before then?

fischy, periculum, my inner editor just wants to tear her hair out on that one. Wacky.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I don't doubt that is so, fischy, especially lately. The marketing seems to focus on the Red Porch, Miller Pen (or whatever it's called) party aspects quite a bit. Not my thing, but for others it's a draw.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

1a,

When your team is crappy and attendance is down, you pull people in anyway you can. I think they are shooting for the young drinking crowd. It's a bar with a live baseball game going on theme.

I'd suggest they spend some money and put a quality team on the field. But, that's just me.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

@me_shogo: Half? You're suggesting that half of the people there were paying attention to the game? I guess it's possible, as it was an extremely rare (for the Nats) exciting pitcher's duel. Usually, I don't think it's even 25%.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 2:31 PM

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | May 21, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

"In other news, I was trying to search the NJ archives for comments on Frank's managerial style, but it looks like the online archives only go back to ST 2007. Didn't we start up before then?"

2007 was the first year that Svrluga did a full-season, year-round blog. In 2006 (and maybe 2005, I don't remember) it was spring training only.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

The United had 3,000 fans at RFK last night, not much support for a team that only plays once or twice a week and is begging for the local government to finance their stadium.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | May 21, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

@ 505203 -- Maybe that begs the question. If the Lerners see their favored market as largely those who don't care about what's going on during the game and the season, there isn't a big incentive to spend huge sums on quality players and a vital farm system. Sure, they could put another 10,000 fannies (or more) in the seats with a winning team, but how much more money would they make?

If they can do that on the cheap, by eventually getting enough good young players to be competitive, why blow their profit margins on signing well-rounded veterans? Bring in a Guzman or a Dunn, when no other National League team would be interested, because of their limitations...or a Cabrera or LoDuca. Just don't get in a lot of bidding wars. Bad for the bottom line.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

"I'd suggest they spend some money and put a quality team on the field. But, that's just me."

That's what they did in Atlanta, starting with and continuing on after Kasten's tenure there. But take a look at the attendance in Atlanta over the past couple of nights (less than the Nats) and you'll see why Kasten will never believe that just spending some money and putting a quality team on the field is enough.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree on both counts, 505.

Thanks for the memory jog, nunof.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey there, troll. You do understand that it was a "play-in game" -- not even an official tournament game -- for a low-interest tournament, where MLS teams field as many reserve players as they can? This year, the lineups are a little closer to the real thing because the league cut the roster sizes down by four players, but fans do understand this is more of an exhibition than a game with both teams' best players. They host New York again in 2 weeks, for a league match, and you can expect at least 5 times as many people.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

fischy,

I just don't understand why the Lerner's are running this team on the cheap. They grew up here and saw years of losing teams being run into the ground by cheap owners.
And because of that losing two teams.

They are supposedly big baseball fans and always wanted a team back here. Now they get the chance and they are running it on the cheap and fielding lousy teams just like the previous two owners.

Makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.


Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse


"Whereforth art thou, Tracee??"

She's not in Kansas any more, Toto.

Oh, wait. She is!

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2009/05/so_long_farewell_etc.html

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2009 1:59 PM
________________________________________

Don't they have the Internet in Kansas yet?

Posted by: greggwiggins | May 21, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Ba da bing!

---

Don't they have the Internet in Kansas yet?

Posted by: greggwiggins | May 21, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I went to Kansas City on a Friday
By Saturday I learned a thing or two
But up 'till then I didn't have an idea
Of what the mod'rn world was comin' to.
I counted twenty gas buggies goin' by theirselves
Almost every time I took a walk
An' then I put my ear to a bell telephone
An' a strange woman started into talk.
What next! What next?

Everything's up to date in Kansas City
They gone about as fer as they can go
They went an' built a skyscraper seven stories high
About as high as a buildin' orta grow.
Everything's like a dream in Kansas City
It's better than a magic lantern show.
You can turn the radiator on whenever you want some heat
With every kind of comfort every house is all complete.
You could walk the privees in the rain and never wet your feet!
They've gone about as fer as they can go.
They've gone about as fer as they can go!

Everything's up to date in Kansas City
They've gone about as fer as they can go
They got a big theatre they call a burleque
For fifty cents you could see a dandy show!
One of the gals is fat and pink and pretty
As round above as she was round below
I could swear that she was padded from her shoulder to her heel
But then she started dancin' and her dancin' made me feel
That every single thing she had was absolutely real!
She went about as fer as she could go
Yes, Sir! She went about as fer as she could go!

Posted by: OldDude | May 21, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Oh, if only Tracee could see us!

Posted by: Section506 | May 21, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Just don't get in a lot of bidding wars. Bad for the bottom line.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009

The got into a bidding war for Texiera. They should have won if it was all about the money. But for Texiera he also wanted to be a part of a "winning" franchise. He felt that the Nats just weren't there yet. His foresight was remarkable given the debacle that has unfolded thus far.

Still think it was a mistake for him to sign with NY instead of the Nats. With the Nats, a local boy, he probably would have become the face of the franchise and the defacto leader. The diff for him might have been if the Nats had also gone out and also grabbed a level 1 starter, Dunn, and perhaps that closer in addition to Texiera himself. Might have been convincing enough to draw him in.

Posted by: periculum | May 21, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

The United don't count non-MLS games for their average attendence but they do count them for total home games played when they promote civic funds for their stadium.

As for last night being a play-in-game, the Nats have been out of the division race for most of a month and are playing the Pirates four nights in a row but still draw a bigger crowd every night.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | May 21, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

The main reason for the Nat's bigger crowd, even when playing the Pirates? A captive audience -- 10+k season ticket holders.

Posted by: hats4bats | May 21, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

New post, and not a moment too soon.

Posted by: Scooter_ | May 21, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

@PowerCrapper -- YOu're comparing apples and oranges. This wasn't a regularly-scheduled league game -- it was tournament game, added to the schedule 2 weeks ago.

Perhaps you don't understand the Open Cup. By winning, United earned the right to play against the soccer equivalent of an A-ball or AA-ball, or even an independent league team, depending on the draw. Not the kind of game or tournament that excites most causal fans. How many Nats fans would turn out to see them play in a tournament with the Frederick Keys or the Reading Phillies, or even the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (hey, they're AAA)?

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

heehee, I love showtunes (and Oklahoma), Old Dude. Thanks for the musical interlude.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

hehe, 506 and Scooter:

Tonight at eight you shoulda seen
A chauffeur pull up in a rented limousine!
My neighbors burned! They like to die!
When I tell them who is gettin' in and goin' out is I!
If they could see me now,
That little gang of mine,
I'm eating fancy chow
And drinking fancy wine.
I'd like those stumble bums to see for a fact
The kind of top drawer, first rate chums I attract.
All I can say is "Wow-ee!
Looka where I am.
Tonight I landed, pow!
Right in a pot of jam.
What a set up! Holy cow!
They'd never believe it,
If my friends could see me now!
If they could see me now,
My little dusty group,
Traipsin' 'round this million dollar chicken coop.
I'd hear those thrift shop cats say:
"Brother, get her!
Draped on a bed spread made from three kinds of fur."
All I can say is, "Wow!
Wait till the riff an' raff
See just exactly how
He sign this autograph."
What a build up! Holy cow!
They'd never believe it,
If my friends could see me now!
If they could see me now
Alone with Mister V.,
Who's waiting on me like he was a maƮtre d'
I'd hear my buddies saying:
"Crazy, what gives?
Tonight she's living like
The other half lives!"
To think the highest brow,
Which I must say is he,
Should pick the lowest brow,
Which there's no doubt is me!
What a step up! Holy cow!
They'd never believe it,
If my friends could see me now!
What a step up! Holy cow!
They'd never believe it...
They'd never believe it,
If my friends could see me now
Hi, girls it's me, Charity!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

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