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"I've Never Seen Anything Like It"

"Again," Manny Acta started saying after this one and -- well, you know where this quote is going...


continuing, because I must...

"It was just sad to see the way things are going with our bullpen," the manager then said. "I've been in the game for a while, and I've never seen anything like it. We're just going to have to change the mindset over there... Some things have to change. Just change it up, because it's not working. We went from young guys to veteran guys and veterans or young, they're not getting it done."

Subsequent question from the media gallery: When you talk about changing the mindset in the bullpen, are you talking about changing the people?

"Exactly," Acta said. "Yes."

By now, even the casting call talk from Acta is starting to sound repetitive. So maybe, by tomorrow, the Nats have Mike MacDougal in their bullpen. Or Jason Bergmann. Or Tyler Clippard. Or all three. Maybe somebody finally shows the ability to record outs. If nothing else, Acta seems dead-set on trying.

"Because we're not going to keep this up," he said. "We've got to try new people in here. Simple as that."

Tonight, in another familiar 12-7 loss, the Nats' bullpen served up nine earned runs in four innings. Garrett Mock, entering in the sixth with a 5-3 lead, walked a batter, threw a wild pitch and hit a batter. (Acta and pitching coach Randy St. Claire, shown on television, were none too pleased about that sequence.) By the time Jesus Colome surfaced later in the inning, Pittsburgh had put up a five-spot in the frame. And there you had it: Another game where the lineup scores in bunches to no avail. Another loss. The Nats are now 6-10 when scoring 6+ runs. The Buccos, for perspective, are 14-0 when scoring 6+.

It's a shame, too, because Ross Detwiler had an encouraging first big league start -- a 5-IP, no-walk performance worthy of a win. (He overcame three fielding errors, and allowed just two earned runs.) Tomorrow, I'll blog with greater detail about his performance. As the curtains fall on the night, though, here are a few exit notes.

* Cristian Guzman walked tonight. I repeat, with emphasis: Cristian Guzman walked tonight! It only took 120 at bats. If the Post is smart, we'll be selling commemorative T-shirts tomorrow outside on 15th St.

* Here's Acta, describing why he pinch-hit for Detwiler in the bottom of the fifth: "If there would have been two outs or no outs, you could give [Detwiler] a chance to go out there [and bat] and give the out away. But we're trailing. We're rallying with one out, so you don't want to do that. Plus, if I have to keep a Class AA guy out there because I don't want to go to my big league bullpen, that's really scary."

* Overall, the Nats now have a 5.90 team ERA this year. Relievers have a 6.68 ERA. Their collective W-L record is 1-13.

By Chico Harlan  |  May 19, 2009; 12:12 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Future Plans For Detwiler, Strasburg
Next: A Debut And A Debacle: A Closer Look


I think at this point, Mock, Colome, and Hanrahan are deserving of a demotion. Maybe even Kip Wells. If we're as careless to throw away half-decent possibilities as Shell and Hinckley, then none of the names above really should be sticking around much longer. Get some of the minor leaguers a shot, send some of those in extended spring training to the minors, and shuffle up the organization's pitching. Sign some veterans to minor-league deals if there aren't enough youngsters that are ready for a move. And keep Detwiler around until he earns that demotion. Not like we have better options right now.

Posted by: sammoMD | May 19, 2009 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Roster moves coming? One can only hope...

"Plus, if I have to keep a Class AA guy out there because I don't want to go to my big league bullpen, that's really scary." I'll ask again - when did we get a big league bullpen? Has he not seen our bullpen pitch this season? Talk about scary! The "AA guy" looks more like a big leaguer than anyone in our 'pen.

Posted by: BGinVA | May 19, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Also, what happened to trying struggling relievers as starters, and vice versa? I actually liked that aspect of Bowden. Doesn't have to happen on the major league level, but it can't hurt at this point, can it?

Posted by: sammoMD | May 19, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

"I've Never Seen Anything Like It"

Again, Manny, have you not seen any of the all-to-frequnet bullpen implosions this season? It's the same story almost every night, just with a different lead character each time.

Posted by: BGinVA | May 19, 2009 12:26 AM | Report abuse

*all-too-frequent...sorry about that...

Posted by: BGinVA | May 19, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

With a bullpen like ours... who needs opponents?

Posted by: SaveOurTeam | May 19, 2009 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Bullpen? What about the $#*(@ fielding errors?

Det would've been able to go for 6 tonight if not for the iron gloves.

Posted by: Hendo1 | May 19, 2009 1:08 AM | Report abuse

I've been a Manny fan, and pretty much was in the anti-fire-Acta camp, but having just read SenatorNat's awesome comments over at Nats320 after Sunday's game, using T. LaRussa as a comparison example. I've gotta say it pretty much spelled it out for me. (Scroll down to the 8th comment, and start with his paragraph that begins "Manny is unimaginative to the core"):

Posted by: HotNats | May 19, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

It is scary. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Posted by: fischy | May 19, 2009 1:21 AM | Report abuse

They should just bring back Frank Robby. He knows what it takes to be not just a good player, but a great player. I doubt that anyone on this team would be able to get away with much. I'm sure they could get him in here and it wouldn't be like he wouldn't know the ins and outs of the team.

Posted by: periculum | May 19, 2009 1:31 AM | Report abuse

For all of the fire Manny people - just curious how you think the bullpen should be fixed? Manny has tried several different things and they are not working because the players are not performing the way they should be and are not doing the job that they get paid for! One reliever will have a good night and Manny will go to them another night and we all expect the same results, but then they have a meltdown.

The Lerners need to spend some money and get some pitching!!! Make a trade. Do something. THE LERNERS NEED TO DO SOMETHING TO SAVE THIS TEAM. You can't expect Manny to perform miracles with the bullpen he is given.

Posted by: ilovethenats | May 19, 2009 1:32 AM | Report abuse

I think the last game that Syracuse won has McDougal saving a game that both Bergmann and Clippard set up for him after an decent Estrada start. It does appear to seem like those 3 make a pretty good team.

Send Mock back down, along with Colome who just wasn't ready ... not even close, Hanrahan, Tavarez who a lot worst than Kip Wells. Hanrahan should be a starter not a reliever, and I think perhaps the same is true for Mock.

And I agree with whomever that said Hinckley was released far too soon, and Steven Shell especially given the effort we've seen from Colome.

Acta has only made things worst (along with Kasten and Rizzo) with their knee jerk reaction to things. When a well thought out plan was needed. Like a trade for some real veteran pitching as opposed to cast-offs.

Posted by: periculum | May 19, 2009 1:44 AM | Report abuse

The only "things" Manny has tried is just different people or just keep chucking them in the game and hope for the best. For even that much did Manny actually confront the FO and demand better players? Or did he just hang around waiting for the Rizzo and Kasten to help him along (for whatever good that might have done)?

Today's interview with axta was the closest he's sounded to accountability but it still wasn't much. Until he says "this is my problem and I'm going to fix it" whether that's the BP or the errors he's a waste of space. Everyone knows it's not all his fault but in his role that doesn't matter. You've got to own the problem and keep at it until you've fixed it. He doesn't seem to know how to do that. That makes him ineffective which is just as bad as being at fault.

Posted by: SaveOurTeam | May 19, 2009 1:48 AM | Report abuse

One reliever will have a good night and Manny will go to them another night and we all expect the same results, but then they have a meltdown.


The solution shouldn't involve making cannon fodder out of potentially talented young pitchers. Like Hinckley and Hanrahan. Maybe both should be starters not relievers? That wasn't their call that was Manny's and management (Bowden, Rizzo et al).

You acquire real veterans who want to pitch in tough situations. Who live for it. That's who you use to mentor the young crop coming up.

Do you think that Manny is doing a good job of mentoring these kids who still need seasoning as opposed to a gun to their heads?

Posted by: periculum | May 19, 2009 1:48 AM | Report abuse

I was at the game tonight, and when they took Detweiler out for Alex Cintron, that was when I decided to put Manny on notice. Give us fans a different movie. Give the kid a chance to win or lose his game and earn his shot at the bigs with an outing that rivals Martis' complete game, especially given how abused the bullpen was in runs and innings over the weekend. Or let's say you don't. Consider this the biggest offensive moment in the game. Use your *best* pinch hitter in this situation and go for broke and score so many runs that your bullpen can't screw them up. Belliard who has power. Kearns who will at least try to work a walk in a situation where a walk would be warranted.

The only thing that I can think of to defend Manny is that maybe he has so little control over player personnel that he has to make Garrett Mock and Alex Cintron's performance scream "I AM A SYRACUSE CHIEF!!!" before the front office will give him better personnel. It's like, here's one for you Rizzo. You give me crap like Mock and Cintron, you'll see them everyday!

On the other hand, I took a look at the post suggested below on why we should be blaming Manny's managing style. I'm not a big Larussa fan, but I will say that I like the suggestions on things we can do different. Because if Manny can't give us a different movie and we're just going to make changes until we find somebody who can do things right in the bullpen that logic eventually leads to his firing. Crapshoot with the bullpen is just as likely to work as crapshoot with the manager.

Who would it be if we got rid of Manny, though? Who really wants this job? Isn't part of the reason he's here because he works for cheap and *can* bear to look at this bullpen every day without having a heart attack?


"I've been a Manny fan, and pretty much was in the anti-fire-Acta camp, but having just read SenatorNat's awesome comments over at Nats320 after Sunday's game, using T. LaRussa as a comparison example. I've gotta say it pretty much spelled it out for me. (Scroll down to the 8th comment, and start with his paragraph that begins "Manny is unimaginative to the core"):"

Posted by: souldrummer | May 19, 2009 3:12 AM | Report abuse

Send Detwiler down? All he did was pitch like he belonged. This is why talented athletes don't pick baseball anymore. Too hard to get a chance. Time to send Nats management down and out.

Posted by: monteverdi | May 19, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo? Rizzo? You there? Wake up, dude. Your team is going over the cliff. Your fans have already preceded the team. It is a good season to become a lemming, at least the pain will end.

If the point of this whole exercise to to demonstrate how to kill baseball in DC you have just about done it. Maybe Kasten can start chartering buses in Pittsburgh, Philly, NY and other cities to bring fans to our ballpark. Oh heck, for more distant cities charter planes. Promise them that you will have a manager who won't let the starter go past the fifth, especially if he just struck out six of your players with no walks. Promise them at least 12 outs from our bullpen. That should just about guarantee a victory for any visiting team, even ones who average 3 runs a game until they face our staff. Promise them that Washington is the Land of Redemption for struggling visiting team hitters. Sell Nats Park as a pilgrimmage site for struggling ballclubs, sell brooms to the opposing fans as tokens. Sell special packages just for the ninth inning, see the rest of the Washington sites and then come just for one inning to see your team score!

Posted by: driley | May 19, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

With the Nats, the huge challenge is how to best build the club without spending significant money. Bowden seemed a little better than just about anyone in picking up low-cost rejects from other clubs. Can the Nats be as creative without Bowden?

Under the Lerners, the Nats have never--repeat, never--traded for anyone who makes a decent salary. The last one was Soriano (who yielded Zimmermann), but that was before the Lerners, when MLB acting on behalf of the Nats allowed such a trade. So trading for any kind of salary is out, as a strategy, which is an enormous limitation for the front office.

Free agency in the off season? Well, people cite Dunn. But he is the only one--repeat, the only one--the Nats have signed under the Lerners as a free agent who makes a decent salary. He can't carry the whole club, although the run production has improved this year significantly. And $20 million as your biggest free agent signing in recent years is not large by MLB standards (in fact it is among the smallest).

The draft? Well, last year's top pick wanted $4.5 million, and that was deemed too much for the Lerners. Too much for a building club that needs arms? Well, you can always find a Daniel Cabrera for half the money. Besides, the thinking goes, if you try to sign this year's top picks, it doesn't hurt to have passed on last year's College Pitcher of the Year. I don't get that one.

International kids? No, that's out. You can't go there because of the Smiley Gonzalez (or whatever his name is) scandal. So there have been no high-cost signings of international kids ever since Smiley by our frugal Nats. What a nice excuse!

OK, then how about international vets? No, that's out, I suppose because you don't have an American track record to test the value. So better stay away.

Where does that leave us? Syracuse! Maybe some new rejects will be better than the ones the Nats are using now. It is worth a try, as the lowest cost option.

The Lerners are the worst of the DC sports owners. Snyder spends, although not wisely. Pollin spends and is civic-minded, giving us the Verizon Center. But the Lerners? They should resolve to get to an MLB level as far as their commitment to this region is concerned, and publicly state they will step up to bat for this team.

Posted by: EdDC | May 19, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

It was encouraging to see Detwiler do what so many of our pitchers can't....namely throw strikes and work fast. That same formula has worked so far for tonight's stater, Shairon Martis. Hopefully the Nats will get Martis enough runs that his fate won't rest in the hands of the bullpen.

Posted by: VaNat | May 19, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

My uninformed roster moves for the day:

Down: Mock, Hanrahan, Cabrera, Cintron

Up: Clippard, Bergmann, Stammen, Orr

If Dukes has to be out for a few more days, they should consider bringing Maxwell back as well.

They considered bringing Ryan Wagner up, but he retired from baseball rather than be forced to pitch out of the National's pen.

Stammen gets the nod over Balester in my book becuase he's only walked 8 in 40 innings.

They have to do some 40 man roster work regardless. If I understand it correctly, they would have to move 2 off the 40 man roster to accomplish my recommended moves. I would recommend dropping Cintron and moving Dmitri to the 60 day. He's almost used up 60 days anyway.

Not sure whether you can move a minor league player who is on the 40 man roster to the MLB 60 day DL, but if so they could move both Dmitri and Lastings.

[Rant # 1: I WILL NOT go to the park to see Daniel Cabrera pitch on this team again. I do not have the time, the patience, or the health for it.]

[RANT # 2: And Major League baseball has made an awful, horrible, errosive decision in forcing the umpires to shrink the strike zone. More offense, yes. But at what cost: longer games, painful pitching performances (its not just the Nats), and posibly worse defense (as fielders have to stand at a state of readiness longer).]

[RANT # 3: Defense? Vichy France did a better job of fighting off the Nazi's than the Nationals do of defending their field.]

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 19, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

"If the point of this whole exercise to to demonstrate how to kill baseball in DC you have just about done it."

For the first time since 2005, I am starting to become really concerned about this. Not that the team can pick up and leave any time soon.

But it has reached the point where if you tell someone you are going to see the Nationals, they laugh at you. The mockery is everywhere.

When Cheney was pictured at the game on Sunday, almost everyone instantly picked up on the "torture" angle, including the Post, which called the game "cruel and unusual punishment" and suggested waterboarding the bullpen (maybe not a bad idea).

Some big, dramatic stuff has to happen. Fire Manny -- maybe, not necessarily because he's done anything wrong (though I recognize many of you believe he has), just because sometimes you need to make a change.

Cashier the bullpen? Maybe.

A dramatic statement by the owners? Maybe.

As FDR said, try something. If that doesn't work, try something else. But throwing the same guys out there each night is no longer an option.

I would start by keeping Detwiler and ditching Cabrera. Manny's statement about Detwiler being a double-A pitcher and the relievers being major leaguers is idiotic. Major leage is as major league does. If you can pitch effectively up here, as Detwiler did, you're a major leaguer. If you can't, you aren't (or shouldn't be).

The arbitrary designation of someone as a "minor leaguer" reminds me of the line from Damn Yankees where the reporter chides the Senators' manager that "if Babe Ruth showed up here you'd send him down to the minors for a little 'seasoning.'"

This fiasco is also ratcheting up the pressure on them to sign Strasburg, which Boras no doubt understands, which in turn is going to make the negotiations even more difficult and ultimately more expensive.

I have certainly seen teams before with a strong offense and weak pitching, and vice versa, but I have never seen a mismatch with results like this.

In terms of building a fan base for the sport in DC, it could not have come at a worse time.

Posted by: Meridian1 | May 19, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

I agree that it is a sinking ship. But in times like this they have to be sure they do not destory the future as well. The best thing for Detwiler is probably Syracuse for 10-12 starts.

Posted by: sjt1455 | May 19, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Martis has shown the ability to do the one thing that dramatically increases your chances of winning as a starter on this team... pitch deeper into ballgames. It just stinks that you hope for a longer outing from your starter not to save the bullpen, but to save US FROM the bullpen.

This has to be a mental thing with these guys. You have to figure they wouldn't still be with the club at all if they couldn't be successful at the lower levels by doing what should be the most fundamental thing for a pitcher... throw strikes. What happens on the bus/plane ride from Syracuse to DC? Are they routinely being kidnapped by Jigsaw? Are they held for days at the bottom of a well by Buffalo Bill?

"It rubs the mink oil on it's mitt or else it gets the hose again!"

At some point soon, somebody is going to be held accountable for the mental shortcomings of this team. They can mash, but they too often look lost on defense and have a bullpen who has a fear of throwing strikes. I just wonder at this point who the fall guy is going to be? Randy or Manny or both?

Posted by: RicketyCricket | May 19, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I am not the fire-and-brimstone-in-blog-comments kind of guy, but I'm now firmly in the Fire Manny Acta camp, for the following reasons:

1. He's managing this year's team according to last year's rules. Pulling an effective starter down just 3-0 after five IP and just 84 pitches might have made sense last year with our Lenny Harris popgun offense but this year it's just silly when the team is averaging 5-6 runs per game under Eckstein;

2. If insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over despite past results, Acta's use of Cintron as a PH is clinically insane;

3. Using Adam Dunn in 1B and RF (whether or not he's being a good guy about it) doesn't make sense - Josh Willingham may prefer LF but on this team he needs to learn to be the RF/1B - Dunn's bat is too important to muck him up by playing him out of position;

4. It's good business. Nats Park is nice enough but it's far from a destination ballpark ... and the dozens of us who stuck with our season tickets this year need evidence that it's worth it to go to the ballpark again. I don't even think the team needs a winner to fill the ballpark - just a team that isn't so predictably bad; and

5. It's time for something different - Manny may not have lost the team but they're playing like he has. Eddie Jordan was let go by the Wizards with far less evidence. Manny was dealt a bad hand by Bowden - but he's still played it poorly. There's no way this is a playoff team - but it's way better than last year's bunch and is underperforming spectacularly.

I implore you, Nats front office: show us a little respect. It's not entirely fair to Manny, but it's even less fair to us. Make a change.

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | May 19, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Mock pretty clearly needs a bit of time away from DC to clear his head. He can be sent to Syracuse on this year's option, so it is an easy move. Bergmann or Clippard should get the call.

Cintron at this point is a luxury item. We do not need 3 back up middle infielders (I include Willie). If we think Willie has to play every day due Dukes hamstring, then DL Dukes and give him the time to get right. We aren't missing his bat right now. You can play Maxwell every day so he gets his at bats, and shift Willie back to his utility role.

With Cintron gone, you can add a nonroster pitcher to the 40 man and active 25 rosters. MacDougal if we keep Detwiler up, Stammen or Martin if we don't. If we swap out Detwiler, then Bergmann or Clippard can replace him.

I'm inclined to keep Hanrahan, Beimel, Villone, and Wells around but I think probably one of Colome or Tavarez needs to go at this point. I did not think so at the time, but we probably activated Colome too soon. If we had to lose one of Colome or Tavarez, I think I'd prefer Colome to gone. Tavarez should be able to give you multiple innings in a blow out.

Net result? MacDougal, Clippard, Bergmann in the bullpen, Colome, Cintron, and Mock banished, and room for a 5th starter among Detwiler, Stammen, and Martin.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 19, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

They need to forget the words "starters" and "relievers" and make it through the season with 3-4 pitchers doing all the work.

Posted by: davidbrowne | May 19, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

The first half of the 2005 season was a mirage. It was also the reason the Nats average attendance was in the mid 30 thousands. So far, the first half of 2009 is a disaster and is the reason the average attendance, minus the opener, is probably less than half that. It's really a shame to have a nice new park that not many come to see. I submit that nothing will change until Teddy wins.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 19, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

The Crab is due for a start Thursday. I suppose you could keep Martis and Lannan lined up for today and Wednesday, give Crab one more shot, and make a decision on Friday whether to DFA him and add Stammen / Martin, or DFA one of Colome or Tavarez.

BTW - If the decision is to call up a pitcher and send Det down, please start him Friday, so that Zimmermann can get an extra days rest. Just as a change of pace, since he has not had an good start on 4 days rest.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 19, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Can you help me name some famous defenses that might be better than the Nationals? So far I've got:

- General Custer at Little Big Horn
- General Washington at Fort Necessity French Indian War
- Bill Clinton: I did not have sex with that woman
- Richard Nixon: I am not a crook
- Pearl Harbor
- I slipped on a bar of soap
- Butch Hobson
- 2009 Washington Nationals

(Name 26 guys who wear a glove on one hand for no apparent reason - Michael Jackson and the Washington Nationals)

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 19, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

"Their collective W-L record is 1-13."

My God! Their record is only 11-26. And this isn't even counting the time leads were lost because inherited runners scored. And there's only one of those 11 wins that the bullpen held on so the offense could come through.

It really is astounding.

Posted by: Section506 | May 19, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

"I think at this point, Mock, Colome, and Hanrahan are deserving of a demotion."

Mock again comes into a game and can't throw strikes. Yes, the other 2 you mentioned struggled too but Colome came in and got stuck in Colome's mess. Hanrahan threw strikes and a lot balls too.

Mock needs to visit the farm again.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | May 19, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

"Some things have to change. Just change it up, because it's not working."

Change it up Stan, fire this bum Acta, fire him today.

Posted by: dfh21 | May 19, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Wow ... so,

The only good thing (or maybe not) that comes from this pitching debacle is the fact that it covers up for the horrendous fielding this team is displaying. Awful. These guys somehow got to the bigs without muscle-memory gut-instinct baseball fundamentals.

I'm not hopeful that the pitching situation will improve this year. I'm pleased that the bats are alive, but we are still giving the opponents 29 or 30 outs in every 27 out game.

Unless they make the playoffs in 2009 there's no way I'm getting back in for season tickets next year (like I have done every year since 2005).

Although I blame Bowden, Steroids, & Angelos+MLB for the devastation in the rear-view mirror, I'm prepared to pin what happens to this team in the future on Ownership, GM, Manny and (MOST IMPORTANTLY) the players.

Posted by: ihatewalks | May 19, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

"Hanrahan to return as Nats closer." The most irrelevant statement in recent memory not because he was such a disaster earlier in the season as that role, but simply because the role of closer appears to be the most unnecessary one on this roster. How about someone... anyone who can record outs after the starter leaves? What's the point of announcing a closer if you can't preserve a lead past the 5th or 6th inning? Pointless announcement for the sake of announcing something. Let's get some effective personnel identified first and worry about the roles afterward.

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

I've read all the coments concerning our team and sympathise with just about all of them. There's great passion about baseball in this town reguardless of what you are starting to read. How long it will take to get this mess straightened out , god only knows. The one good thing that has happened is that they built a stadium and they ain't going nowhere. Not like the low life owners of the past did. Blaming their failures on the baseball fans. So my suggestion to the Lerners is to stretch the alligator arms. Hire somebody that knows what their doing. Or sell the team to a group that does. If not you will continue to hemorage money.

Posted by: pstotts15 | May 19, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Bullpen: Is it possible that we have a mediocre bullpen that is so freaked out that it's performing with near incompetence? I agree that we shd try new personnel, but there are only so many decent relievers out there, and we aren't doing players any favors by bringing them up before they're ready.
Detweiler: He not only did an extremely promising job, he is also a nice guy--ST 07 he signed every ball with a smile, and there were tons of people who wanted his autograph. That said, I am not going to second guess the pros that think he needs more time in the minors. That was one game, with an opposing team that didn't know him. Give him a chance to mature, for his sake.

Posted by: Section109 | May 19, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Hoo boy.

Taking Detwiler out after 5 is fine by me. I like the quote about AA starter vs. big league bullpen (I think part of the issue for the bullpen and Cabrera for that matter is that they are pretty much expected to fail at this point - Acta must show at least some trust to reverse things), and after 84 pitches he wasn't gonna be throwing a complete game.

But I vote yes to 'why the F is Alex Cintron pinch hitting?!'.

Chico - please ask Manny to explain his faith in this farmhand. I know he had a short bench last night, but his continued use of Cintron as the #1 option to pinch hit is baffling.

Man. I don't envy Acta's job right now. Ok yes I do because baseball and the Nats are the best. But sheesh. There's not a whole lot he can do.

I was glad to hear Dibble say they took infield before the game yesterday

Posted by: nattaboy | May 19, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I was at the game tonight, and when they took Detweiler out for Alex Cintron, that was when I decided to put Manny on notice. Give us fans a different movie.

Posted by: souldrummer | May 19, 2009 3:12 AM

My sentiments exactly.

Posted by: Kev29 | May 19, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of the 'pen, new post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 19, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

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

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

Manny was right to pull Detwiler after 5. Why wait for the kid to blow up in the 6th or 7th and then pull him? Pull him after 5 so he can start his career with a decent game. Manny was probably well aware that the pen could not hold the lead. I think he made the decision for the kid.

By the way, the 3 run homer off Detwiler could have been caught with a better timed jump (and a taller CF with a longer reach). It landed over the fence (just barely) with Harris on the way down from his jump. Not harris' "fault" but just to say the Detwiler start could have been even better statistically. Detwiler's start was a good sign for the future.

Firing Acta would do no more good than firing Eddie Jordan did for the Wiz. Manny is not the Nats' problem right now (any more than Bowden was the problem). It's the players, and specifically the pitchers, and all the obstacles the ownership constructed to keep the team from building in the right direction--that's the problem, not Manny.

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

Who would it be if we got rid of Manny, though? Who really wants this job? Isn't part of the reason he's here because he works for cheap and *can* bear to look at this bullpen every day without having a heart attack?


Posted by: souldrummer | May 19, 2009 3:12 AM |

I'll take the job.

Maybe, this could be a new promotion? Instead of giving out t-shirts, the Nats could randomly choose the manager for the day? I bet they'd pack the stands....

Posted by: fischy | May 19, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

The worst bullpen in the history of the major leagues is all part of Jim Bowden's legacy for the Nationals.

There is no reason this club could not have acquired decent set up men in the offseason but the team did nothing to replace Jon Rauch and the injured Chad Cordero and the suddenly ineffective Luis Ayala who was traded to the Mets.

At the last minute Joe Biemel was signed as a stop gap late inning reliever but he has been injured and there was no one to put into the middle relief or closer roles.

Joel Hanrahan and Daniel Cabrera don't belong on a major league roster.

I think we are seeing more evidence of that every day.

Scott Olsen, another Bowden acquisition, has gone from a 89-91 mph fastball to a guy that like Jamie Moyer is trying to get guys out with a fastball that clocks at 81-82.

The only trouble there is that Olsen doesn't have the repertoire of off-speed pitches to make a living as Moyer does.

Olsen has to use the fastball to get guys out and now he doesn't have use of it.

So, until/unless he recovers his velocity Scott Olsen is useless to the Nationals as well.

That's two veteran starting pitchers acquired in the offseason who are being out-pitched by a guy like Martis that most people think was rushed to the majors a year early.

What a waste.

For a team with limited resources, spending $8M on Olsen and Cabrera is a nightmare.

Posted by: leopard09 | May 19, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it's any secret that getting outs is more important than getting runs right now, the pinch hit for cintron clearly wasn't the right move seeing as how our best hitter was up next and he did the job, followed by two more hitters doing their job to the fullest only to see the pen give up 10 more? I'd be in favor of all three getting their shot, I'd rather see bergmann give up 30 home runs than continue to watch us walk everyone

Posted by: bford1kb | May 19, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Hey, maybe it's time for the Nats and Odalis Perez to kiss and make up. Could he be any worse than more than half of the pitchers that are now on the team?

Posted by: JeffDC2004 | May 19, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Who would believe that the team that in 2007 held a "cattle call" for pitchers in spring training, but managed to field the best bullpen in baseball in the second half of the season, only to lose bundles of game due to poor run support. Now they have the third best offense in baseball, and a bull pen that couldn't hold a lead against a high school team. This is incredible.

When's the last time a team's leadoff man didn't take a base on balls before May 18?

Posted by: jheath53 | May 19, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Not another dollar from me after last night. I bought 8 tickets in left field at $24 each (7 in my house plus 1 tag along friend). First time I sat out there. Those tickets should be 12 bucks at the most. 2 chili dogs 2 cokes for my wife and I, $25 dollars. 20 bucks for each of the youngsters to get what they wanted to eat. Sat back on a beautiful night in an almost empty stadium to watch a pretty decent start by Ross Detwiler. Then comes the parade of garbage by our bull pen. I feel like I got robbed, gipped, taken, bamboozled! No more. Not another dollar. I don't think I will waste another cent on electricity reading this journal either.

Posted by: 6thandD | May 19, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

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