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From This Point Forward

The Nationals play their 40th game of the season tonight (counting the suspended game from May 5). With some generous rounding, we're at the quarter-pole. The Nationals have a .289 winning percentage; they're on pace for somewhere between 46 and 47 wins. I'll go ahead and optimistically say 47, because perhaps Stephen Strasburg pitches an inning in September.

So far, the Nationals have created a unique (and almost historical) profile. They are a team of extremes. Despite one of baseball's best offenses -- almost every stat indicates that, in May, Washington has had the best lineup production in the NL -- they are its very worst team. They have committed a league-worst 41 errors (the Phillies have committed 11). They have 5.94 team ERA, worst in the NL.

Because they have such obvious strengths -- and indeed, because they are fielding and pitching at a level that defies belief; almost every member of the bullpen, for instance, is performing more poorly than would an average waiver-wire player signed off the street -- the Nationals also have another unique distinction. They make me feel gullible. Last year, when the Nats lost, I was never surprised. This year, I go to the yard thinking, "OK, this team isn't really this bad. No way can they sustain such a pace. Eventually, they'll return to the mean. Maybe they're a poor team, but they're a .480 team, not a .289 team."

Well, 40 games into the season, and Washington hasn't returned to the mean.

Or rather: It's given every reason to suggest this is the mean.

So today, I want to take the pulse of those who've watched this team.

Predict Washington's winning percentage from this day forward -- in other words, in the final three-quarters of the season. If you want to post a specific number (and your reasoning behind it) please do so. But here's a poll for good measure:

By Chico Harlan  |  May 20, 2009; 9:55 AM ET
 
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Next: Boswell: With 'Average' Pitching, Nats Would Be 24-15

Comments

They are bad, but are they historically bad and challenge for the worst record ever?

Posted by: thisismydcsportsopinion | May 20, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

They are bad, but are they historically bad and challenge for the worst record ever?

Posted by: thisismydcsportsopinion | May 20, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse


With this bullpen...yes.

Posted by: MBUSA | May 20, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Reposted (with edits):

We're getting close to the quarter mark of the season.

The Nats are on pace to win about 47 games this year. Four players on are pace to earn over 100 RBI. Two players are on pace to hit over 40 HR. One of those players, Zimmerman, is also on pace to hit over 40 doubles.

Is there any precedent for a team losing 100 games and still having four players drive in 100 RBI? Is that even possible? I know it's still early to talk about the pace the team is on, but it's really striking.

Posted by: JohninMpls | May 20, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

If they play .400 ball from here on out, they'll win 48 or 49 more games, which would put them in the 59 or 60 win neighborhood. That's last-year bad, but not historically bad. At some point they'll run into a few teams with pitching in various states of decline close to our own and our offense will outscore the other team.

In any event, it's a very different route to get to last year's number, but seems like it's within reach (wow, for that to be "within reach" is depressing). Who's the top prize in next year's draft (here's looking at you, Brian)?

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

Call me crazy, but I think they will play near .500 ball the rest of the season. They're going to continue to struggle for the next couple of weeks, but once the summer kicks in I feel that things will gel and they will start to get on a bit of a roll. I say they go 60-64 (.484) the rest of the way.

Posted by: erocks33 | May 20, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Is this a with or without Acta scenario? If it is with Acata, they may not play above the .289 level.

Acta is losing incarnate. He is Schleprock -- has his own personal storm cloud following him in the dugout. He is that tiki statue the Brady boys found in the Hawaiian cave that made the tarantula show up on Peter's chest. He is bad juju. Hexed. Cursed. Jinxed.

Manny needs to be returned to the cave where the Lerner boys found him and that needs to happen today.

Posted by: dfh21 | May 20, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I'm still rooting for Manny, but this post was a nice change from the tired "Fire Manny" posts. LOL!

Forget firing Acta just beat the crap out of him.
Posted by: rskinz34 | May 20, 2009 2:24 AM

Posted by: NatsNut | May 20, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I would say they have a shot at .500 for the rest of the year, but the thing that bothers me is that our hitters are so far over their career norms. I can see a scenario where the bullpen and hitting both return to a semblance of normality, and we start losing games "normally", like 5-3 instead of our customary 11-8 bullpen blowup special, and finish at something like a .400 pace.

Posted by: joebleux | May 20, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

how many saves has this bullpen blown now. If we had won even half, we'd be in the thick of the division fight. That's what is so grating about this team. Please find some relievers willing to throw strikes. The hitters deserve better. The fans deserve better. I voted .351-.400
Nats, prove me wrong and turn it around

Posted by: gengreen17 | May 20, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

What about a 7-man starting rotation, allowing each to throw 150-180 pitches and go into the eighth and then rest for at least six days? You'd still need a closer but you could make the rest of the bullpen sell beer and peanuts.

Posted by: pgolkin | May 20, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Sorry to break it to you but it set in a long time ago. Posted by: RickFelt

A long time ago doesn't exist when you've owned the team for three years.

Posted by: sjt1455 | May 20, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

"At some point they'll run into a few teams with pitching in various states of decline close to our own..."

And last night, going up against Pittsburgh's 5th starter would be a good example of that. And also a good example of how the Nats just can't/won't/don't win.

Posted by: ihatewalks | May 20, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Until Acta admits that he makes mistakes this team is going no where.

Until Rizzo admits that its worth something to salvage the remaining 122 games with young or better arms this team is going no where.

Until Kasten stops inviting half of the east coast to Nats Park to fill the empty seats this team is going no where.

Until the Lerners whip out the cash and pay whatever it takes to sign Stephen "The Wonder Boy" and what ever other piece of the puzzle that turns this thing around this team is going no where.

Until all of this happens the Washington Natinals as an organization will continue to be dysfunctional and continue to earn the negative reputation they deserve.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | May 20, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Well, if the Nats stick to their plan of building for the long run, and that is exactly what they should do, then they'll move some offense (Dunn, NJ, etc) for young talent. While some say that move would assure them of being as bad as last year, I don't see how with proper scouting how it can't improve them in the areas that count - pitching, defense, and long-term potential. The onus is entirely on the Front Office. Anyway, I say they're a .350 team the rest of the way.

Posted by: bendersx6 | May 20, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Pittsburgh's pitching isn't struggling, ihw, although your point about Karstens is generally well taken. However, he'd only given up more than the 4 ER he allowed last night only once so far this season (and that was 5 ER). He's not a pitcher that I particularly like (virtually no K ability, extreme flyball pitcher), but his performance this season has been adequate-ish for a fifth starter, and better than many other fifth starters that we've seen.

Across the board, Pittsburgh's staff is 3rd in the NL in quality starts, 7th in ERA, and 8th in WHIP and opponent batting average.

ihw's point about the quality of starters that we face is interesting, though. Is there any way to track how often we face an opponents #1-5 or replacement pitcher? For instance, if we face Santana every time we play the Mets, we're admittedly playing them at their toughest. If they had run out Oliver Perez every time, we'd be in better shape. This is simply a quirk of scheduling, but is there any way to track whether or not you've faced more top of the order pitchers than other teams?

Posted by: faNATic | May 20, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

dfh21,

Funny post about the Brady boys and the bad juju. Made me LOL.

This team needs a shake up in the worst way. Maybe they can go out as a team and get drunk and howl at the moon and get into a bar brawl. Or switch to all cotton uniforms courtesy of George Costanza. Something, anything. I don't want to see Manny go but, maybe that's the answer.

As for the most recent moves, Bergmann will have a couple of good outings and then his head will get in the way and he will struggle, just like every other time he is up.

JMax needs to start almost everyday, screw this spliting time with Wille H. stuff, let's see what the kid can do. He's a Terp for crying out loud so, he will succeed.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 20, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Forgive me if this was already brought up and I missed it. I tried scanning all the posts from last night and today.

Anyway...

Does anyone know why Daniel Cabrera was in the bullpen last night for the entire game?

Posted by: Section138 | May 20, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm now officially a cheerful pessimist.

This team feels snakebit to me ... hopefully we'll keep seeing good offense and modestly improved pitching - but this feels on balance like a 110-loss team.

Here's hoping Strasburg and the 2010 #1 are the building blocks we need to rise from the ashes, Rays-style, in 2011 or beyond.

P.S. I still think Mr. Acta needs to go.

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | May 20, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Just a thought, fellow NJ'ers-and I include myself and my pal Greggo the Cop-but from Carpenter to signal strength to food service and quality....we are all DEFINtley(oops, I lost an A!) part of this gang that can't play. Just as some strange mental malady has possessed our teams' psyche-especially the pen; I liked the poster who called it a collective case of the "yips"-we also see and expect "bad things" tohappen in every area associated with this team! But, MAN! ain't it sweet we got this to complain about! The Nots are even helping to fuel my 15 y.o.' hopes of making it to the Majors. Because he's pointed out that his HIGH SCHOOL team doesn't make the kind of mistakes and misplays that this bunch does!(And since he was born in Philly, he also has a fall-back position.)I just hope he doesn't watch DCab too much and decide he can make it as a pitcher rather than a middle infielder/c.fielder.....O.K fool that I am-I predicted an 84-78 campaign.....I say we play .500 ball the rest of the way starting....now!No, wait, starting....

Posted by: zendo | May 20, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Call me crazy, but I don't have a problem with Kasten inviting Phillies Phans (as loud and obnoxious as they are) to Nats Park. A ticket sold is a ticket sold. He's a businessman and his job is to get as many cheeks on seats as possible. If the Nats were a contending team, he wouldn't have had to do that.

Here's hoping that next year he won't have to do it again.

I'm also surprised that they didn't DFA one of the relievers. Cintron was about five games too late.

Posted by: Juan-John | May 20, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

He was in the bullpen hoping that some of his good luck would rub off on the other pitchers back there.

Posted by: kevinx | May 20, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

* He = Cabrera

Posted by: kevinx | May 20, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Real Baseball Intelligence (RBI), a leading resource in the evaluation of amateur baseball talent and draft coverage, offers its 2009 Baseball Draft Guide. The Guide includes RBI's Top 400 draft prospects, scouting reports of the top ten players at each position (including Stephen Strasburg), a mock draft and more. It is available at withthefirstpick.net/guide

Posted by: bhyman1 | May 20, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Rizzo, he should be pretty worried about his job too. Sure, Bowden left him a scrap heap of a bullpen, but at least Tavarez, Kensing, Beimel and Wells are all on him. (can't remember any others)

Posted by: NatsNut | May 20, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Offense: they're hot right now, but you know that everyone has a slump or two during the season. But make the (poor) assumption that the offense continues at the same pace. Defense, through work, will improve.

But without changes to the bullpen, the current percentage will remain the same. Can't expect different results with the same variables (and that includes the esteemed pitching coach). It HAS to change: you can't go through the rest of the season with this crew, as it will absolutely poison the team (and potential free agents).

Great bats will be needed by playoff contenders. So I will assume that upgrades will be made to the bullpen, and they eventually reach .400 ball.

Sad: "eventually reach .400 ball."

Posted by: joemktg2 | May 20, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

By picking up those pitchers he was at least trying to do *something*. Beimel was throwing well prior to his injury and Wells has been not as putrid as others.

It's not like a bunch of stud pitchers are out there as free agents right now.

Posted by: kevinx | May 20, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I say between .301 and .350. They improve a little, but not much. Just as the pitching may rise toward the mean, the hitting may fall toward the mean.

Off-topic observation: Alex Cintron departs with an OPS of .220. Yikes.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | May 20, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Look evaluating this team based on the here and now is a fools errand. The team you see is not the future of this franchise. The future is the young players performing (note, I said performing) here now like RZimm, Martis, maybe Dukes and others. The draft is exciting, but it will only be a small piece to the puzzle of building a team that will be competitive. You will have to continue to build the farm system, yes, but you're also going to need an influx of near major-leagure ready talent. From the looks of the farm system, that's not there yet and won't be in it's current state. So I say again the FO needs to start working on those deadline deals. There is no sense in putting any effort into this years model except as a precursor to better things to come.

Posted by: bendersx6 | May 20, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

One point of statistical interest:

The team is batting first in the NL in OPS

I find this amazing since they have a HUGE hitting handicap against all the other NL teams - THEY DON'T GET TO HIT AGAINST THE NATIONALS PITCHING!!!

I entered my vote based on Acta still being the manager. It goes up about .075 to .100 if Acta is replaced soon.

I'm to the point that firing is no longer good enough, he should be striped and spanked publicly on the mound before the next game.

Posted by: anyone1 | May 20, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

56-106. Some pitching improvement toward the mean, but not enough. The bullpen disaster has overwhelmed any thoughts about the starters, but let's face it, the starters' numbers have been poor also. Quality relief pitching isn't available in the short term. Their pitching staff in the minors consists of marginal talent - maybe better than what they have now but not actually good. I give Rizzo credit for trying to find some pitching wherever he can.

They should try to trade offensive talent, but Nick is injury-prone and a free agent, so teams aren't going to offer much treasure there. Who else? Guzman may have some value, he's under contract. Kearns in a free agent year?

Grim.

Geezer

Posted by: utec | May 20, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Hey on a side note, my hope to have Nick Johnson traded to the Red Sox for quality pitching is picking up traction. mlbtradrumors.com has a article up citing Peter Gammons is hearing rumors that the Red Sox are scouting Johnson. I still say Daniel Bard for future closer.
Let's trade him now before he gets hurt again. I got scared last night when he took that ball to the knee.

Also, just imagine if he can stir up rumors like this, then whats next. Hire Willie Randolph rumors?

Posted by: wrw0601 | May 20, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Could someone at the Post please cancel this bhyman1 idiot's access? He/she/it does nothing but spam us with this RBI garbage every time Strasburg's mentioned in a post.

Posted by: joebleux | May 20, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

"So today, I want to take the pulse of those who've watched this team."

We still have a pulse??

Now that's optimism!

Posted by: Kev29 | May 20, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

The bottom line is the Lerner's need to open the checkbook. A 50-60 million dollar payroll ain't going to cut it.

There is not enough in the minors yet and it may take a few more years for that to happen.

In the mean time the Lerner's need to stop being so F'ing cheap and sign several ML players in the offseason. Dunn was nice and all but, they needed to add 3-4 more to the mix. They have to overpay to show players and fans that they very serious about winning NOW and not down the road via "The Plan," that is a loser's mentality.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 20, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Kev, we're only mostly dead.

Posted by: Section506 | May 20, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"I still say Daniel Bard for future closer. "

- So you're saying we trade Zimmerman for Bard? Because we'll be getting him from the Evil Empire.

Posted by: RickFelt | May 20, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Because that's the only way*

My bad

Posted by: RickFelt | May 20, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

The 1930 Phillies represented one of the most extreme offensive/pitching splits in MLB history. Those Phillies scored 944 runs and had a team batting average of .315 (The entire National League's batting average that season was above .300). However, those Phillies pitchers have up 1199 runs and the team's ERA was 6.71. The team was outscored by more than 250 runs and finished 52-102,

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 20, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

The pitching and maybe fielding will get better, but the level of offensive production will not be sustained, netting a small improvement in winning percentage.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | May 20, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

As I told ya yesterday, I'm taking a break from watching the Nats for awhile. Didn't watch game yesterday. So I'm also taking a break from venting. However I will pose a question, if things continue the same offensively, could the Nats possibly have 4 FOUR players in the All Star game---Zim, Johnson, Guz and Dunn? Your thoughts?

Posted by: dovelevine | May 20, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Excellent, anyone!

---

I find this amazing since they have a HUGE hitting handicap against all the other NL teams - THEY DON'T GET TO HIT AGAINST THE NATIONALS PITCHING!!!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 20, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Can we be the living dead? Mmmm, brains...

---

Kev, we're only mostly dead.

Posted by: Section506 | May 20, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 20, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

"Can we be the living dead? Mmmm, brains..."

That would certainly describe Cabrera's mechanics.

Posted by: Section506 | May 20, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

a Plan is a loser's mentality?

Posted by: longterm | May 20, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

ThePowerBoater69 is able to post without trolling... Amazing.

Posted by: fischy | May 20, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I inadvertently posted to the previous thread, but here it is again:
------------------------------

I went back and re-read Boswell's column from early April. I think it sums up where this team is at right now quite correctly.

"The first year Tom Glavine and John Smoltz pitched together in Atlanta, they were 22 and 21 years old and went 7-17 and 2-7. The next season, they were 14-8 and 12-11. By their third year together, they were fully formed workhorses. So, how did the Braves fare?

Atlanta went 54-106, 63-97 and 65-97. Yes, the next year, 1991, they went to the Series as Steve Avery, 21, went 18-8. But look at the patience, bordering on anguish, that is required to develop young pitching, even when it works.

'If we end up with three high-quality starters out of this current group, then we'll be a contender,' team president Stan Kasten said of the current rotation plus Balester.

Just a mere three of six. Not counting other Nats now in the minor leagues or whoever is fetched with the Nos. 1 and 10 picks in June. It sounds easy. But it's so hard.

The Nats had a choice last winter: Sign a mediocre free agent starter and let the 22-year-olds, as a group, bear less weight. Let Manny sleep at night. Avoid a chain-reaction catastrophe of youngsters failing in unison.

Instead, the team felt the pitching pipeline, even before the '09 draft, had enough prospects that it was time to find out what the franchise was holding. So, here they go.

Yogi Berra was right to say, "Ninety percent of baseball is pitching. The other half is hitting." We laugh because we recognize the wisdom in the malaprop. Hitting matters after you have pitching. But without pitching, nothing matters.

With their new bats, the Nats have done the easy half of becoming respectable. Now comes the hard part. Pitching is precious. Nobody misplaces it. We all find pennies in the street. Nobody stumbles on a $100 bill."

While he is primarily discussing the rotation, he was right that our young starters aren't ready to step up and carry this team yet. So, the Nats should have spent some money in the offseason to sign some quality relievers to take the heat off of the rotation. There isn't enough talent in the Nats system ready to step up and therefore no easy answers for Manny or Rizzo.

Posted by: psubman | May 20, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Great archive find, psubman. Thanks!

And who makes the payroll decisions? hmmm, maybe they *are* cheap...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 20, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"could the Nats possibly have 4 FOUR players in the All Star game"

No. There's no chance that any Nat gets voted in by the fans (not even Zim, because he's fighting D. Wright and the NY market/media machine).

Zim will make it as a sub. Guz could make it depending on what the rest of the SS in the NL look like, but I doubt it. NJ and Dunn just have too much competition at 1B and OF to make it in from a team as bad as the Nats.

Posted by: joebleux | May 20, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Please rehire Bowden so that this time we can FIRE him.

Posted by: dclifer97 | May 20, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

How did that work out for Baltimore a couple of years ago when they spent big money on lots of FA relievers?

Billy Beane preaches that RP can be found anywhere - maybe he has changed his mind if he watched the Nats this year. Too bad we couldn't have thrown Hoffman a little money...

Posted by: goexpos2 | May 20, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

The bottom line is the Lerner's need to open the checkbook. A 50-60 million dollar payroll ain't going to cut it.

In the mean time the Lerner's need to stop being so F'ing cheap and sign several ML players in the offseason.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 20, 2009 11:42 AM
___________________________________________

Spend more money on free agents, of course that is a sure fire way to win! If they had only opened the checkbook and signed A. Jones or Rowand like all fans were screaming for two years ago we would have the CF problem solved. They should have offered Texiera more money than any other teams and 1B would have been solved. Don't even get me started on why they didn't get into bidding for Sabathia, Burnett, Lowe, Putz, or K-Rod. This all just seems so obvious, how could the Lerner's have not realized it before!

Posted by: NeedANatsFix | May 20, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

LeeTee, that's good research - I was wondering what the highest number of runs scored by a 100 loss team was, and if 944 isn't it, I bet it's close.

My statistical bent of mind says that we'll revert to the mean and end up as a mediocrity as opposed to a historically bad anomaly, but this team does seem to have a "highest scoring losingest team of all time" kind of flavor, no?

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | May 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I'll begin with a question aimed at those of you who have a more in-depth knowledge of the workings of a major league organization: How much control does a ML manager have over his 25-man roster? (or, more specifically, how much does this rookie manager have?) For example, could he have gotten rid of Cintron faster if he really wanted to?

2nd question: Does a ML manager (or, again, this rookie manager) ever get told by his mgmt to use certain players, regardless of whether the manager wants to use them? (Cabrera, trade-bait guys)

3rd question: Regarding the pitch counts for the young starters, is this Manny's decision, or one that has been imposed on him?

I don't think we have a single relief pitcher of whom other teams are afraid. (other than being afraid of getting HBP). Clearly this isn't Manny's fault. (it's Bowden's)

On the other hand, I've been trying hard to justify the decisions coming out of the dugout, and the only way Manny looks good is if these decisions are being made over his head.

But even then, for example, the whole purpose of having Cintron on the team is as a backup infielder. (yes, I know he's gone now) But with his poor hitting, why is he being used as a middle-inning pinch-hitter? Any sub could have filled that role. If he was so important as a backup infielder, he should be treated similarly to the backup catcher, and used only as a last resort.

...sigh...

I *want* to like Manny. He doesn't have much to work with, other than offensively. I like that he doesn't call out his players in public, but I'd sure like to hear some news leak out that he's raising some havoc inside the locker room, or that he's seriously gotten on someone's case one-on-one in his office.

Or, at the very least, for someone here to tell me that there's a decent chance that some of the decisions are being made over his head.

Posted by: hats4bats | May 20, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"Does anyone know why Daniel Cabrera was in the bullpen last night for the entire game?"

Birds of a feather flock together.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 20, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Embrace the Race to 100 Losses !!!

It's all in fun, but sadly, every day it becomes increasingly more probable.


We may open a second contest to see who can pick the exact number of wins.


Let your inner baseball Nostrodamus run wild and make your pick at:


www.natslose100.webs.com

Posted by: randy_boyd | May 20, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

BTW Can you say 2010 Number 1 First Round draft pick??!!

Posted by: dovelevine | May 20, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"could the Nats possibly have 4 FOUR players in the All Star game---Zim, Johnson, Guz and Dunn? Your thoughts?"

You forgot Milledge. The Sons of Sam Horn (local chapter president, Chris Needham) will surely be ramping up their campaign to never-before-seen heights as soon as they discover that even Red Sox management is now taking an interest in the citizens of NatsTown. Part of a nefarious plot to make Nats management devalue Nick Johnson because he's nowhere as good as Milledge.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 20, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

@Highway295: Remember that if you compare total runs scored in a season, you have to factor in that in 1930 the season was 8 games shorter than now. So it would be easier for the Nats to score 944 runs, and also easier to lose 100 games.

Here's how I would look at it:

The Phillies scored 6.12987 runs per game (assuming that they played all 154 games).

If my arithmetic is correct, they had a winning percentage of .338.

To do the equivalent, the Nats would have to go .338 with a record of 55-107 and score 993 runs.

Are they capable of it? Sure looks that way.

Posted by: Meridian1 | May 20, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

"he was right that our young starters aren't ready to step up and carry this team yet"

I'm not sure that he was saying that. It is, however, one logical conclusion from his column.

I'd rather suffer with the future and gain better draft picks than sign mediocre free agents and get mediocre draft picks and watch mediocre baseball. Every time I see Lannan or Zimmermann or Martis, I get excited, knowing full well the game will be lost.

Posted by: Section506 | May 20, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

NeedANatsFix,

You can cherry pick some FA's that haven't worked for other teams all you want and I figured someone would do just that so, thank you for not disappointing me.

I ask you, what has not signing FA's the last 3 years done for us? I'll answer that for you...Zippy.

And don't give me the LoDuca, Estrada, etc. crap either because those guys were retread, bargin bin shopping FA's where we were basically bidding against ourselves because nobody wanted their tired asses, and rightfully so.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 20, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Manny bring your note-pad and pencil and be ready to take some notes!

Manuel: I could have strangled Ryan Church

Since the day Ryan Church showed up in Port St. Lucie, Fla., this spring, the relationship between him and Mets manager Jerry Manuel has been a complicated one. There have been slights, both real and perceived, and after Monday's game, outright frustration. By Tuesday, it was reasonable to wonder what Manuel would do with Church: put him in right field, or lock him in a room somewhere in the underbelly of Dodger Stadium and throw away the key. But despite any appearances to the contrary, the two insisted Tuesday that there is no rift between them. "I don't know why people think I got a deal with Ryan Church, I really don't," Manuel said. "I don't have a problem with Ryan. Not at all. I like to egg him on and mess with him a little bit like I do with everybody, but I love to see Ryan every day. He comes to the park every day early. I love to see Ryan Church. I don't have a problem with Ryan Church." Manuel was incredulous after Church was called out for failing to step on third base in the 11th inning of Monday's 3-2 loss, erasing what should have been the go-ahead run from the scoreboard, and made no effort to hide his frustration. When asked Tuesday if he was angry with Church, Manuel said, "Oh, you doggone right I was mad at him. I could have strangled him." But he said it was not something that carried over into the next day. Church dismissed Manuel's remarks, saying he pays no attention to what Manuel says publicly. But he was not surprised at Manuel's criticism.

Newark Star-Ledger

Posted by: TippyCanoe | May 20, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Fans of the expansion Senators may remember it was after 38 games (13-25) in 1963 that Mickey Vernon was fired as manager and Gil Hodges was hired. The Nats slumped to 56-106 that season but the win totals under Hodges increased each subsequent year from 1964 to 1967...62, 70, 71 and 76. Hodges left for the Mets after the '67 season (when the Senators tied the then-Word Champion Orioles for sixth place) and under Jim Lemon the team fell back to 65 wins and tenth place.

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 20, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

...guess that should have been " then World-Champion Orioles" Thast 1967 Senators team is still my all-time favorite, even more so than the '69 squad.

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 20, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

a Plan is a loser's mentality?

Posted by: longterm | May 20, 2009 12:04 PM
__________________________________________________________

When that "Plan" keeps getting pushed further and further out, Yes, it is.

I'm OK with a Plan that focuses on building through the draft AND FA's that will help fill in the gaps until those youngsters are ready and gaps that may occur because of draft picks that didn't work out and left some areas thin.

They have picked up some nice players through the draft and smart trades (Zim, Zimm, Martis, Dukes, Lannan, Flores, etc.) but, they didn't use FA to help in other areas that are putrid, like the BP or middle infield depth.

That my friend is cheapness.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 20, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

BTW Can you say 2010 Number 1 First Round draft pick??!!

Posted by: dovelevine | May 20, 2009 12:38 PM |
-------------------------------------------------

This is how great teams are built. The 2 Zimmerman(n)s, Detwiler, Strasburg, this year's #10 pick, and next year's #1. The foundations of a great team in 2013.

Posted by: fischy | May 20, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Section505203-

I would be interested in what free agents you might have signed in the past few years that would have made an impact. Keep in mind that the Nats did outbid the Yankees for Texiera and reportedly offered to O Hudson. As easy as somebody can cherry pick the losers, you can surely cherry pick the winners like Kyle Lohse.

Everyone in "Nats Town" is frustrated, I get that part. But most baseball fans realize that it takes time for prospects to materialize, injuries happen, and the bullpen is usually the lowest priority in building a team. Using hindsight it is easy to say that the Nats should have picked up more bullpen help in the offseason. However, at the time I think most felt Hanrahan was not an All-Star but would at least perform at an average level similar to last year. Likewise with Colome, Mock, Bergmann, Hinkley, Shell, etc. The signing of Tavarez and Beimel were supposed to strengthen a group that performed pretty well at the end of last season. The defense was supposed to be improved with Hernandez/Gonzalez and Nick back at 1B. Everybody is frustrated with losing, players, management and especially fans. But I do not think that anyone would honestly say that they predicted a bullpen that would be this historically bad.

Posted by: NeedANatsFix | May 20, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I love Manny, but that was the funniest post ever. Breaking out Schleprock and the Bradys in the same paragraph. That's gold, dfh21. Gold.

"Acta is losing incarnate. He is Schleprock -- has his own personal storm cloud following him in the dugout. He is that tiki statue the Brady boys found in the Hawaiian cave that made the tarantula show up on Peter's chest. He is bad juju. Hexed. Cursed. Jinxed. Manny needs to be returned to the cave where the Lerner boys found him and that needs to happen today."

Posted by: natsfan7 | May 20, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Guys & Dolls,

What did you have in your coffee this a.m.? I wish I had some real estate, or at least a used car, to sell you.

Three quarters of you think this team is going to finish above .350? Ay-yi-yi.

The offense, its strength, will go down going forward. CG is not going to hit .390 going forward, and frankly none of the others will continue to hit at the pace they did for the start of the season.

Also, Dunn will be traded, leaving no one to protect Zimmerman. Others likely will be traded.

The good news is the pitching will get better. It has too. If someone from the farm system isn't elevated to the bullpen, then someone will come in off the street, or via trade.

The only benefit going forward is that prospects will bust their buns for a roster spot, and those teams can have their moments.

But it's delusional to think for a moment that this scenario will result in a substantially better record than what they've demonstrated.

This is the year that the Weaver rule is rewritten: These guys are as bad as they look when they're losing.

Posted by: MartinZook | May 20, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

This is how great teams are built. The 2 Zimmerman(n)s, Detwiler, Strasburg, this year's #10 pick, and next year's #1. The foundations of a great team in 2013.

Posted by: fischy | May 20, 2009 1:12 PM
_____________________________________________________________

This is my point, 2009 was supposed to be the year in 2006/7. Now all you hear is 2012, 2013.

If they filled in some areas with FA's that are not bargin bin, they could be competitive now.

Does anyone really believe that a team in a top 10 market should have a bottom 5 payroll around 50 million each year?

Does anyone believe that "The Plan" can't also involve some solid FA signings?

Look how Dunn has helped our Lineup.

You don't think a few more FA's could have helped the BP or our 2nd base/lead off problem?

This cheap payroll is an insult year after year, while we wait for a plan that may never work. The build from within plan worked great for Tampa but, what about all the teams it hasn't worked for like Pittsburgh, KC, Cincinnati, etc.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 20, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

As to whether you should sign "expensive free agents" or trade for guys who make decent salaries or draft the best players available or sign your top draft picks, or extend yourself to sign "expensive" international kids and vets:

There are valid short-term business reasons not to do too much along those lines. However, you have to add value to your team to build for the future. You have to have players other teams want in trades for prospects. You have to acquire players other teams may want after their contracts as Nats are completed, so that you get supplemental draft picks in return.

Let's not conclude the the Plan means doing next to nothing.

Posted by: EdDC | May 20, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Just low-fat milk for me. Thanks for asking. If you're buying this afternoon, I could really go for a low-fat, half-caf mocha latte.

---

What did you have in your coffee this a.m.?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 20, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

"You have to have players other teams want in trades for prospects. You have to acquire players other teams may want after their contracts as Nats are completed, so that you get supplemental draft picks in return."

Well stated.

Posted by: dclifer97 | May 20, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

505203

Yes, but the plan was delayed someone because of a disconnect in the front office. In case ou don't remember what that was:

http://ckelly.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/02/19/20080219jb2_e_3.jpg

Posted by: soundbloke | May 20, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

The record the rest of the way simply depends on whether they insist on keeping this management/coaching team in place. It is not "cheapness", it is not just a lack of talent in the bullpen, it is the way the team is being handled and the acceptance of losing. Acta's control of his temper is only a positive in keeping a happy clubhouse. It's lovely that the "boys" get along together, but nobody should want a happy losing clubhouse. In addition, his handling of the bullpen and when he chooses to pinch hit for his starter has been galacticly stupid. He seems to think that he can cover four innings with his relievers every night. Not even the best bullies can do that, much less the worst. Twice in the past week he has pulled starters who were rolling along in the fifth and sixth innings so that he could pinch hit in a close game. This not only overtaxes the bullpen, it gives starters the impression that a five or six inning performance is all that is expected. It's ridiculous. I'm running out of time again but while Casey Stengel or John McGraw wouldn't have this team in the postseason, a competent major league manager who could get the most out of his personnel would certainly have them at least close to .500.

Posted by: truke | May 20, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

That's gold, dfh21. Gold. Posted by: natsfan7

Yea but does dfh21 eat soup or a meal at Mendys?

Posted by: dovelevine | May 20, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

NeedANatsFix,

Yes I'm frustrated. And over the last 2 seasons when I get frustrated, the cheap payroll is what chaps my backside.

I figured you would also come back to the "in what free agents you might have signed in the past few years that would have made an impact" argument.

Tex was a mirage, I knew deep down that he wasn't coming here, the Nats were a pawn in the game. Hudson would have been nice, and quite frankly I think he could have been had if they really made a sweet offer.

Because the Nats stink and they have never really gotten involved in FA, that when you do you have to make beat the competition by a lot for players to come here, at first.

Some of the early starters and BP guys that went off the board early in FA, the Lerner's didn't even make an offer. The only stud they have gone after is Tex. And I'm conviced that they knew early on it was a no chance situation but, they used it as a PR thing.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 20, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Soundbloke,

The Jimbo excuse is valid to certain extent but, if the Lerner's aren't opening the checkbook to get the payroll to at least middle of the league level, no matter what GM you bring in, they are going to have a hard time getting it done.

What's the next excuse going to be, "they stuck with Manny to long" or Rizzo wasn't ready for the job?"

Posted by: Section505203 | May 20, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I recall we (including Barry--especially Barry) said in 2005 "Christian Guzman will not hit < .200 all year." And indeed, sometime in September of that year, he did start hitting closer to career norms.

The steerpen may very well revert to the mean, but it won't necessarily be this side of Labor Day, not even with a revolving cast. When people say that replacement players off the street would be better, remember: these ARE replacement players off the street, and so were the guys they replaced.
Julian "Beer Goggles" Tavares isn't the only one here under career duress--the Natinals weren't Dunn's first choice, either. And I think they'll do Nick a favor around the deadline, too, and get a prospect, since I don't think they'll be able keep him without "overpaying" him compared to the market price, and that's IF they want to keep him.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 20, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

"You have to have players other teams want in trades for prospects" Posted by: EdDC

Olsen, Willingham & Cabrera were acquired to fill this category. So doing the wrong something might be a better description.

Posted by: sjt1455 | May 20, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Olsen is starting to look like they bought damaged goods. Willingham is not looking so different from what one might have reasonably expected, and Cabrera was always a longshot (which I have no idea what they were thinking by overpaying to get).
_____________________
"You have to have players other teams want in trades for prospects" Posted by: EdDC
--------
Olsen, Willingham & Cabrera were acquired to fill this category. So doing the wrong something might be a better description.
Posted by: sjt1455 | May 20, 2009 1:50 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 20, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

No, this is just what a chronically bad, sad-sack cellar-dweller looks like.

**************
This team feels snakebit to me ...
Posted by: diogenes_quixote | May 20, 2009 11:02 AM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 20, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Like I said before, Mets need a 1B-- bad. Just sayin.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 20, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

One of the hallmarks of a perennial loser is having reliably good competition--that sand ain't gonna kick itself in their faces. Even if they get two or three competent relievers, including a closer, they're still looking at a schedule full of Phillies, Mets, Braves, and the just-OWNS-them Marlins. That's not uphill, that's upcliff. (insert "up Cliff's" joke here)

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 20, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

"Always to the future he looks. Never his mind on where he IS, what he is DOING."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 20, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Hat tip to Brian over at NFA.

Stammen to start tomorrow's game.

http://tinyurl.com/p4jscx

Posted by: Section138 | May 20, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I used to be a Manny fan, then as it becaome increasingly necesary a Manny booster (sort of a Manny Actavist) and then Manny apologist. Next I became a Manny questioner. Currently I would describe myself as a Manny Agnostic in that I don't really believe in him, but I have't quite moved into the more antagonistic Manny atheism.

I absolutely do not blame Manny for bad pitching; although I do hold him somewhat accountable for bad pitching moves and I do not blame Manny for bad fielders, but I do hold Manny accountable for poor fundamentals.

But here's the hard part, I cannot give credit to Manny Acta for anything that is going right, because nothing is going right. (Except the hitting, and I give Eckstien and the players credit for that.) So will I cheer when Manny gets fired? No. But, I probably will say it had to be done.

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 20, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Another thing, this "plan" we hear about so much, which involves building up the minor league system can't be a short term thing. Which always sounded to me like "once we get competitive we don't have to pay the big bonuses for draft picks and we can cut back on scouts."

This should actually be a organizational philosophy that is never ending. Having a deep system is a must no matter if your small market or big market.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 20, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

"No, not plan--DO! Or do not. There is no 'plan'."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 20, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

"This should actually be a organizational philosophy that is never ending. Having a deep system is a must no matter if your small market or big market."

Preaching to the choir

Posted by: Brian_ | May 20, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

mlb.com had tomorrow's start belonging to Cabrera. Stammen gets that now, but where does that put DCab for the future? Need to clear a spot on the roster before tomorrow...

Posted by: Section138 | May 20, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

@138 - they have a whole day to see who gets DL'd.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 20, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

or DFA'd? D'dFA?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 20, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

... which would really be aMannyism, or Actastasy, depending on your POV.

Manny's apotheosis was pattersoned some time ago.
-----
"but I have't quite moved into the more antagonistic Manny atheism."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 20, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

actually, 1a1, you have a point--"DFA'd" is redundant, isn't it? "Designated-ed for Assignment"
And that, my friend, is very brokeded.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 20, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I LOL'd, Sec. 3!

Also, new post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 20, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

or L'dOL? ANYway...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 20, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Stammen is going to get clocked - either tomorrow or his next start (if any) no way I would have brought him up. Now they're just throwing darts with a blindfold. ON second thought that's better than Cabrera.

Posted by: bendersx6 | May 20, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

--Stammen
Checked a couple places including MLB and don't see him listed anywhere.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 20, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

One thing that no one is really talking about is the elephant in the room: the manager and the pitching coach. For many they want to keep the because they are fan favs. It may be the time to do it. Remember last year, basically the same team was the worst offense. The hitting coach rather have played cards and talking to players to looking at video.

Every one should remember last year's poor hitting. So the team got new hitting coach. And for those who have used his advice they are doingvery well, Zimm, Dunn, Guzman, Kearns & Dukes...

Three reason I call out Acta for:
1. Lack of real disciple. He is inconsistent on this point. If a hitter was doing as badly as Cabrera he would be called by the coach.

2. Lack of real fundementals of the game. Errors in practically every game. They need to be really working on positioning, coverage and so forth. They are a very sloppy team. This comes from having a "players coach." If Frank was managing with this staff you would have that .500 record.

3. Finally the last reason Manny's time is done, look at the crowds. They are booing just about every move he makes. He leaves relievers in way too long. Unless he was told to have the worst record in baseball to get the number one pick next year.

Frustrated Nationals Season Ticket holder!!

Posted by: sazzwho | May 20, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

This team's personnel moves have stunk since they moved to DC.

While Rizzo and Dana Brown have supported the team with some good draft prospects, Bowden did little right at the major league level to improve this club for the intermediate term.

Felipe Lopez, Wily Mo Pena, Paul LoDuca, Austin Kearns, Lastings Milledge, Rob Mackowiak, Scott Olsen, Daniel Cabrera, etc.

The great majority of these moves were busts.

Only Cristian Guzman and Jesus Flores have really emerged as everyday contributors.

Meanwhile, the young pitchers struggle because there is no veteran staff leader and the defense behind them is horrid.

This team really needs to start over from the top down.

The losing mentality is starting to set in here as it already has in Pittsburgh with the Pirates, where fans don't expect to see another contender in their lifetimes.

While Pittsburgh faces some tough financial times because of the economy, the team here in Washington has the resources to be successful, they have just been mismanaged or misapplied by ownership and the front office.

Mark Lerner trusting Jim Bowden as GM set this team back 5 years.

The next decisions that are made have to be the correct ones for the Nationals to climb out of the gutter and be considered more than a freak side-show.

Posted by: leopard09 | May 20, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

That's gold, dfh21. Gold. Posted by: natsfan7

Yea but does dfh21 eat soup or a meal at Mendys?

The soup IS a meal Bania.

Posted by: natsfan7 | May 20, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

"Mark Lerner trusting Jim Bowden as GM set this team back 5 years."
===
The Dominican stuff opened my eyes to the Natinals. Not the payola scandal itself, but how the Nats fixed it. It took Rizzo one weekend to completely transfer the Nats' Dominican operations. One weekend? Really? To transfer the Nats' entire hyped-up Dominican farm system?

Seriously, my company couldn't even move offices in one weekend, but that's all the time it took the Nats to switch over their entire Dominican branch? That makes me think there was never much to the Dominican operation in the first place. A couple of guys, a cell phone and a bag of balls. And the rest of The Plan is probably as much of as sham.

I think the Lerners bought a 25-year waterfront development project with a baseball team attached. Boz assures us that the Lerners don't want to lose 100 games a year and I believe him. Losing 100 games a year is bad for business. But the Lerners also want to pull $40m/year out of the team. So something's got to give, and it isn't the Lerners' bank account.

What depresses me is talk like "IF we get a #1 starter and IF we get a solid bullpen, we'd be a .500 team!" Gee, so if the Nats get two of the most valued commodities in baseball, they'd be...the Milwaukee Brewers? Wow! Dream big, DC. Be still my heart.

Posted by: hubcap | May 20, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I voted above .500. My simple (and optimistic) reasoning is the old stand-by: the game is all about averages, they can't be this bad forever.

Posted by: ajtrue78 | May 20, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

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