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What's Said, And What's Unsaid

Sometimes, it's best to keep the nuances of media-player interaction away from this forum. For two reasons. In most cases, nobody really cares. In a few cases, nobody really benefits, especially if it sounds like you're airing grievances. Plus, over the long run, most fans who read about the Nationals will get a feel for players' various personalities just by reading their thoughts, reflections, opinions, etc.

Every once in a while, though, it's more about whether somebody speaks than what they say. In a clubhouse, most players notice accountability. After this game, we saw an interesting contrast, and I'll flesh it out here.

In the fifth inning today, both Daniel Cabrera and Josh Willingham had fairly lousy lowpoints. Willingham misplayed a two-out flyball that led directly to two runs and opened the door for many more. Cabrera, immediately after that error, completely melted down; he walked four straight, couldn't finish the inning, and left with a final pitching line of 4-2/3 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 3 ER, 6 BB and 3 K. (Ugly? Yes. Typical? Yes. You can read the brutal details in the game story. And please, inject your eyes with cortisone before Cabrera's next start.)

Anyway, after a few media members wandered down to the clubhouse following the Nats' 11-7 loss, Cabrera pushed his way out of the clubhouse door; he was already showered dressed, clearly the first to leave. The game had been over for all of 10 minutes. In all the games I've covered -- hundreds, at this point -- the starting pitcher has waited by his locker to address the media every single time. Until today. Cabrera's decision to blow off the obligation, I think, mattered less to the media than to his teammates, some of whom are quietly growing tired of his laborious outings. When a few media members tried to chase down Cabrera in the lower concourse at AT&T Park, asking if he wanted to be interviewed, the right-hander said, "I don't want to [expletive] talk to nobody."

Now Willingham. His error, in retrospect, led to Cabrera's five unearned runs. Right after the media entered the clubhouse, Willingham -- still holding his plate of Salisbury streak -- directly approached a few reporters and said, "Do you guys need me?" He later said of the error, "I missed it. The wind was blowing out there, I ran in, and it just kind of took off on me. It went right over my glove."

So there you have it. Just a little behind-the-scenes picture.

A few other talking points from this one.

1. Cabrera is still in the rotation. Manny Acta confirmed it, when asked directly after this game. But he was critical of how Cabrera rebounded -- or, rather, failed to rebound -- after the Willingham error. "You've got to be able to put errors behind and pick up your teammates, and he just crumbled after that," Acta said. "This is major league baseball, this is the big leagues, and the difference between these kids and the kids in the minor leagues is the mental aspect of it and being consistent. You ought to be able to put those things behind you. I heard a man once say, 'If you don't want errors made behind you, you'll have to strike 27 guys out.'"

2. Ryan Zimmerman's insane hot streak continues. Today, he singled in the first to extend the hitting streak to 29. Then, he homered twice, finishing off a 4-for-5 game that boosted his average to .363. "I'm just having good at bats," Zim said, "and I hope to keep it going."

This first-at bat hit is the Zimmerman specialty at this point. Thirteen times during the streak he's gotten a hit in his first AB of the game.

3. Logan Kensing continues to pitch his way off the team. Today, he threw 12 pitches -- four strikes. He recorded one out, walked one, allowed two hits and yielded two runs. This latest outing his ERA with the Nats to 18.00 -- 5 IP, 10 ER.

By Chico Harlan  |  May 12, 2009; 2:54 AM ET
 
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Next: Zimmerman's Streak: Inside the Numbers

Comments

I think we can safely assume that Cabrera's next start will determine if he stays in the rotation or gets demoted/released. I can't imagine a scenario where he is allowed to pitch for this team without a significant improvement in his control. At some point, you need to just give you defense a chance to make a play.

Posted by: hour36 | May 12, 2009 3:07 AM | Report abuse

Cabrera is consistent! Consistently BAD! If Kensing is sooo bad, why did we pick him up in the first place?!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | May 12, 2009 3:45 AM | Report abuse

Our best chances to win right now is if Martis, Zimmermann, or Lannan are the starters. Olson is 50/50, and Cabrera needs to be taken out of the rotation ASAP!

Posted by: rxs85 | May 12, 2009 5:55 AM | Report abuse

good stuff, Chico.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 12, 2009 6:52 AM | Report abuse

Cheeks, what's the deal with D-Cab pulling a Super Steve Carlton and blowing off the media? Besides being worthless, he's a creep too. Contrast that with Class Act Willingham, who's straight-up about muffing up a fly ball. One guy's a pro, the other some brain-dead wild man who's one more start from being Pattersoned. You can get Pattersoned in the regular season, right?
I never thought I'd long for Bergy, but it's time for Lansing (Kensing) and Creep Cabrera to hit the road and join Thrilledge on their road to the Big Time.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | May 12, 2009 7:15 AM | Report abuse

Accountability.

I thought I heard someone in the Nats organization mention that before they sent some ineffective people down a few weeks ago. Accountability. Does that apply to the people who keep a Cabrera or a Kensing or a Cintron or Olsen in the lineup? How many more bad at-bats, bad starts and bad relief appearances are enough?

If the Nats team were a ship afloat on the high seas it would be an interesting sight.
On deck you would see a bunch of people hoisting sails, working hard to propel the vessel to shore. However, just above the waterline you would see about three gaping holes and through each enough water is coming in that you can see the ship is in perilous condition. Where is the captain?

Posted by: driley | May 12, 2009 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Chico,
Feel free to start a media campaign to run D Cab out of town.

I hear on his way out of the stadium, he clubbed baby seals.

in all seriousness, as Boswell always says, you can kind of feel the guy on a emotional level. However, the amount this man has tricked major league front offices into paying him is insanity.

AAA bound, please.

Posted by: jonfhoffman | May 12, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse

rxs85, you're exactly right. For the Nationals to have any chance of fighting their way back toward .500, they basically have to win every time Lannan, Z'nn, and Martis pitch.

I basically assume that, every time through the 5-man rotation, we'll lose the 2 games started by Olsen and Cabrera. So in order to go 3-2 for each cycle through, Lannan, Z'nn, and Martis MUST win their starts. It puts our 3 young guys in a pretty tough position, especially considering the bullpen that is coming in behind them.

Posted by: usmc53 | May 12, 2009 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Here is the way the Nats management should be looking at this situation--what would a first time fan watching last night's game think? Would you ever expect them to buy another ticket for a game? Every time Cabrera starts you can feel the emotional deflation among Nats viewers. Who wants to watch this? Anyone? OTOH, no one would be complaining about the long lines at the beer stands.

Posted by: driley | May 12, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the post, Chico. Add me to the chorus of those who can't take another minute of Cabrera. Your story is consistent with my own experience at spring training. Nearly all of the players I saw at spring training were approachable. In fact, most were downright gracious, except one ... Daniel Cabrera, who could only be described as abrubpt and rude. I'll be watching for your post about him leaving the 25-man.

Posted by: dcbatgirl | May 12, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

I think Cabrera needs an ultimatum: if your fastball isn't hitting 94 or 95 with regularity in your next start, we are going to assume that your elbow injury from last year is still causing problems and either put you on the DL or designate you for assignment. There's no place in the majors for a guy who throws 89-91 with no command. That's the difference between Cabrera and young Randy Johnson. Young Randy was wild, but he kept throwing 98.

Posted by: jcj5y | May 12, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Realistically, Cabrera has one start left here, barring some miracle. Look at the schedule. There's a day-night doubleheader on Saturday which - thanks to the Thursday off day - falls to Olsen and Cabrera, both with four days rest. But then after Zimmermann and Martis pitch Sunday and Monday on four days rest, both Lannan on Tuesday and Olsen on Wednesday would have to pitch on short rest unless they do something to avoid that. There are two things they could do to get everyone back on the regular five day cycle - either declare Tuesday's start a bullpen day (and with this bullpen, I don't think that's gonna happen) or bring up someone for a spot start. And with Cabrera struggling, that's the perfect opportunity to just dump him from the rotation and leave the new guy there.

Unfortunately, if they dump Cabrera now and bring in someone else to take his Saturday start, they'll still run into the problem of having to do something else to avoid the short rest situation. Which is why I think they're gonna roll Cabrera out there one last time before they dump him. So yes, as Manny told Chico Cabrera is still in the rotation - technically. But Chico ought to be watching who's pitching when down in Syracuse and Harrisburg to get an idea of who might be coming up to pitch next Tuesday and stick around after they dump Cabrera.

Posted by: GalRevelsInPee | May 12, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

I don't think, with this offense, that you can automatically state that all of Olsen's starts are going to be losses. He's not throwing great, but he's not been abominable like Cabrera has.

Kensing has to go as well. I know they traded for him based on his last couple years of work and overlooked the fact that he had been terrible so far this year. Clearly, his work in Florida this year was indicative of what he's going to be for the long haul.

I do, however, love the bats. If they can keep hitting like this all year, the pitching will eventually be figure out. Right? Right?

Posted by: Cavalier83 | May 12, 2009 7:53 AM | Report abuse

I've stuck with this team through three (soon to be four) 90+ loss seasons, and will continue to support them regardless of W-L. But I will not be going to Saturday's game, because I refuse to pay money to watch Daniel Cabrera pitch.

Posted by: TGT11 | May 12, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

For those of us who lived through the LoDuca experiment last year, do you feel this Cabrera experiment is getting as frustrating?

For those who weren't around last year with LoDuca, PLoD as a catcher where he couldn't throw out anyone. PLoD in LF was sure interesting. The worst was PLoD at 1B.

The comparison is watching Daniel Cabrera. He isn't a starting pitcher. Dibble said it correctly last night.

Hopefully Mike Rizzo makes the painful decision for Manny Acta and cuts it off right now.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | May 12, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo and Acta have some semblance of a team. The defense has to improve and I think that will. We will continue to have problems with Willingham and Dunn but for the most part I think the team defense will improve. All Acta can do is continue to practice (I hope he is practising) the fundamentals. This leaves us with the pitching. I know Acta and Rizzo did not create this mess but if they continue to stand pat with the current starting rotation and bullpen configurations then they are just as culpable as Bowden. It is not fair to the team or the fans.

Actions to be Taken:

Cabrera is DL'd. The Mets did this with Perez and they are paying that guy $12mm a year. I would try Balester, Stamin or Bergmann in Cabera's place. On Bergman's worst days he was never as bad as Cabrera. On Bergman's best days he was the ace of the staff. Based on his performance at AAA he deserves another chance.

Kensing is DFA. We have Clippard , Bergmann or Sosa to try in that spot. There is no point in waiting.

It is irresponsible on the part of Rizzo and Acta to keep Kensing and Cabrera on the team any longer.

Posted by: mjames0 | May 12, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Wait now.

"Until today. Cabrera's decision to blow off the obligation..."

The obligation? Really? The players are now obligated to talk to sportswriters after games?

I am very interested in this. How is it that players are obligated to do this? Please elaborate if you would Chico.

Posted by: dand187 | May 12, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like Cabrera has some work to do on controlling his emotions as well as his pitches. I do feel for the guy. On the other hand, I'm not confident about our chances when he takes the mound. Good points by GRIP about the rotation and upcoming series.

Also, I'm with you re. offense, Cavalier. Was enjoying looking at the NL leaders this a.m. with Zimmerman and Dunn showing up in a number of categories. And congrats to Zimmerman on extending the streak!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 12, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile on the Farm: "Ross Detwiler turned in his second straight strong outing, giving up one run on three hits over five innings but more importantly, striking out nine and not walking a batter. In his two May starts, Detwiler has struck out sixteen and walked only one over ten innings of work (two starts). He’s held opponents to one earned run on seven hits."

Sounds as if Detwiler's control is light years ahead of Cabrera and lets face it Cabrera isn't getting any better (the fact that Orioles cut him says it all). Maybe he can just focus on his fastball and become a one inning relief pitcher (but with his lack of control and focus, it would just be better to cut him and write this off as another Bowden mistake).

Posted by: Bob_L | May 12, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and swang30 and Patty should take NJ shout-out signs to the game and get on camera.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 12, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to believe that on May 20th last year, Daniel Cabrera was 5-1 with a 3.48 ERA, 14 walks and 43 strikeouts.

Here's the K's per 9 innings: 2007: 1.54,
2008: 1.06, 2009: 0.46

There is something physically wrong with the guy if he has lost so much velocity. He needs to have his arm examined. Unfortunately, he got $2.6M from the Nationals which probably gets him a 2-month tryout. If they weren't paying him that amount he probably would be gone now.

Posted by: natteringnabob | May 12, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Sorry I meant K/BB, not K per nine innings.
The K per nine innings is 2007: 7.31, 2008: 4.75, 2009: 3.03

It's also interesting that he has given up only 2 home runs, which has prevented even greater disasters.

Posted by: natteringnabob | May 12, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Detwiler I would not rush him - he needs to keep repeating whatever mechanics are helping him right now.

Posted by: natteringnabob | May 12, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I am horrified by how badly Cabrera's pitching. He's not really that bad, but he sure is playing terribly. If he won't accept a minor-league assignment, he's gotta go. And Cabrera's consistent suckiness has become very irritating. Sign Pedro and get it over with.

HOWEVER -- after having a dreadful outing, I can totally understand not wanting to say anything with the press. Look at what he got for just leaving. He didn't lash out, he didn't hurl insults at anyone, he just said "i'm not talking" and left. And for that, he gets a negative blog post from the reporter. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Section406 | May 12, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Obviously Cabrera needs to be done. I'm actually disappointed that Manny is putting him out there again. To me, he quit on his team last night and that should be the end of it.

However, why the dumping on Olsen. He's a class act AND an established 200 inning SP who wins about half his games. He deserves the time to come around.

Carbrera doesn't.

Posted by: Avar | May 12, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Cabrera is awful - he's either hurt, or he's lost it, or he just doesn't have the talent to really cut it. I'd be willing to see him moved into the bullpen for a while (Hey, can he really be worse?) and be told that he better run that ball up there just as hard as he can. Enough of this "Maybe I can slow down and find control" junk.

On a separate but slightly related note - fun with trade speculation - Buster Olney, and several others picking up on him, have written that the Red Sox pitching riches are actually starting to hold them a little bit, and with Smoltz getting ready to return, they may have a starter too many. Apparently, they're looking for SS help and/or OF depth.

So, I ask the assembled brain trust - Penny for Kearns? (Note: Pitcher Brad Penny, not the actual coin). Would you include Guzman if they made it Buchholz or Masterson?

Don't get me wrong, I like Guzman (and it SHOCKS me to say that), but really, I'd rather have another 24-y.o. arm. Kearns for Penny would be nice, too, since Penny could play the role that they were hoping Cabrera would do.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | May 12, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

"However, why the dumping on Olsen. He's a class act AND an established 200 inning SP"

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Class act? Google Olsen + Taser

established 200 IP SP? Hitting 200 once makes someone established?

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | May 12, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

People seem to be naively believing that keeping Cabrera in the rotation is Manny's decision. It is obvious that the front office has tied his hands here due to the ridiculous contract given to Cabrera. By God, they are going to get some outs for their money no matter how painful it is. What a joke. No doubt in my mind that if Cabrera was making Shawn Hill type money he would have been gone before this last start.

Posted by: kfisher32 | May 12, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

jcj- I don't know if we are related, or named after the same person, but I was about to make the same point, and thought "check to see if anyone else has posted this."

Johnson had an infinite leash because he never lost fastball velocity, the crazy slider, and his left-handedness. I recall going to Memorial either in 1990 or 1991 and watching him get pulled after 5 with a no hitter because he walked so many guys (Boz - if you are reading, you must have covered that game).

Cabrera, OTOH, is basically a junkballer now. To succeed at that, you need plus control and to be a southpaw. Unless we redefine southpaw to include righties, the only way to fix Cabrera is for him to get his stuff back. He's shown no progress here.

Rizzo should offer his contract to the guys who make the "PJ Blands" commercials, who can then proceed to eat it and say, "does not taste any worse than any of the other contracts we've been forced to eat."
--------------
"I think Cabrera needs an ultimatum: if your fastball isn't hitting 94 or 95 with regularity in your next start, we are going to assume that your elbow injury from last year is still causing problems and either put you on the DL or designate you for assignment. There's no place in the majors for a guy who throws 89-91 with no command. That's the difference between Cabrera and young Randy Johnson. Young Randy was wild, but he kept throwing 98.

Posted by: jcj5y | May 12, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse"

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 12, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

It says here that the Nats are just making sure that Stammen is consistent for a few more starts before pulling the trigger on a Cabrera DFA.

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | May 12, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

We all knew Cabrera was awful when we picked him up. Pitching coaches always think they can change a pitcher. I think they should just leave well enough alone sometimes. This one went just as predicted. Looking forward to Strasburg already.

Posted by: futbolclif | May 12, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

By the way, this post is deliciously packed with subtext ... tell us how you REALLY feel about Cabrera, Chico!

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | May 12, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

As ugly as Cabrera is, he still has one of the better ERAs on the staff.

I got a kick out of Knight ripping Acta for his bonehead move late in the game on Sunday to blow it for the Nats. They've got the 3rd ranked offense and they still can't win anything. They can't play proper defense, they find a way to lose every night. Maybe the pitchers would throw more strikes if they weren't worried about the defense. Or maybe not. Who knows. But there's no way to find out until they dump Acta and get someone in there who stresses defense and fundamentals. It's the only way to properly evaluate the roster. This organization has accepted losing. Like Knight said, the Mets moved Oliver Perez to the bullpen because they don't allow themselves to get burned to the point where it's irreparable. Of course, the Nats have dumped 4-5 players off the opening day roster already and look where they're at. Time to dump Acta.

Posted by: Brue | May 12, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I feel bad for JD Martin and Craig Stammen down in Syracuse. These guys deserve better fates.

Detwiler needs more seasoning, at least Stammen and Martin are performing.

Posted by: PNatsFan | May 12, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Hwy295Rev -

I've long thought that Kearns could be traded to the Red Sox if (or when) Drew gets hurt or Baldelli breaks down. Kearns's right-handedness is a nice balance for Drew and his ability to play CF on occasion would allow Ellsbury a night off.

Penny is likely to earn $6m this year if he pitches 170 innings (per Cots, his contract is $5m with $.5M bonuses for 160, 170, 180, and 190 IP, and $1m for 200 innnings). Kearns, OTOH, was due $9m ($8m with a $1m buyout for next year). I don't like the lack of an option on Penny, but I suppose if he pitches well, the Nats could offer arbitration. They are not going to be moving any starting pitching for a while, though. They use almost 6 starters as a base line, with a DL trip for Beckett and Lester likely if their arms show fatigue.

I don't see Guzman as being someone the Red Sox would want. They have Lowrie coming back in June, and he is pretty good defensively with an adequate bat. They value SS defense pretty highly (thus, nomar for O Cabrera in 2004, eating Rentaria's contract when he made a ton of errors, and even their infatuation with Lugo's range when they acquired him and tried to "fix" his throwing). Nick Green is not yet killng them. Their SS problem is Lugo's contract and bad legs. They don't fix that with Guzman.

You will never, ever, get Clay Buchholz in a deal. They turned down Saltalamacchia for Buchholz this winter before they resigned 'Tek. Michael Bowden for Teagarden or Montero were also turned down.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 12, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Player TEAM W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV SVO IP H R ER HR HBP BB SO
10.  S Hill SD 1 1 5.25 3 3 0 0 0 0 12.0 15 7 7 1 1 3 7
who else would have preferred to see Hill as part of the starting rotation.

Posted by: Enrico1 | May 12, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

"As ugly as Cabrera is, he still has one of the better ERAs on the staff."

That's because he waits until after his lackluster pitching has put the defense to sleep, resulting in errors, before he totally unravels. Exhibit A: Last night's three more unearned runs tacked on after the two unearned runs that scored on Willingham's error. That inning was 95% Cabrera's fault, yet he gave up no earned runs.

If Cabrera's going to suck, he ought to man up and just suck from the get-go. Instead he's a wimp who hangs on by a thread until there's an opening for him to blow the game without taking the blame for it. It's passive aggressive sucking, and it's even worse than regular sucking.

Posted by: GalRevelsInPee | May 12, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

"Player TEAM W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV SVO IP H R ER HR HBP BB SO
10. S Hill SD 1 1 5.25 3 3 0 0 0 0 12.0 15 7 7 1 1 3 7
who else would have preferred to see Hill as part of the starting rotation."

Yeah, it would have been a lovely fortnight, wouldn't it? Unfortunately, a major league season consists of about a dozen fortnights. What would you have had them do for the other 11 after Hill got hurt (again)?

Posted by: GalRevelsInPee | May 12, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I must admit... the option of starting someone not playing versus DCab is intriguing...

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
who else would have preferred to see Hill as part of the starting rotation.

Posted by: Enrico1 | May 12, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Section138 | May 12, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

just watched the masn replay of the abomination of a fifth inning last night. after willingham misplayed the flyball, cabrera just seemed to visibly slump and gave up as if to say "this isn't my fault." dibble said pitchers are picked up by their fielders, but sometimes the pitcher has to pick up one of his fielders following an error. cabrera had one of the worst performances i've ever seen by a major leaguer. then, like a lot of the prima donnas who only have use for the media when they're going good, he didn't want to talk about why he stop competing. mr. cabrera will much better serve the nationals in the going rather than in the staying.

Posted by: surly_w | May 12, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

"who else would have preferred to see Hill as part of the starting rotation."

Isn't he on the DL (again)?

Posted by: skippy1999 | May 12, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

The Red Sox have three shortstops, one of them is hurt and should be back within six weeks. They're not going to trade Masterson or Buchholtz for Guzman.

Also, where did all the Ryan Zimmerman bashers go? My recollection from a couple months ago was that the refrain involved him being Ordinary. He won't keep this up, but he's certainly better than ordinary and a lot of you were way wrong.

Posted by: mike8 | May 12, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I can understand Cabrera's unwillingness to talk to anyone. He sees his career disintegrating right before his eyes, and can't do anything to stop it. Read Pat Jordan's, "A False Spring." Jordan was a highly-regarded prospect with serious heat, who never had very good control to begin with. During his third season in the low minors, he lost it completely - 40 walks in 28 innings. Cabrera seems to be going through the same thing. Acta and Rizzo surely recognize that he's done, and are no doubt trying to figure out the best way to replace him. The schedule may demand he get another start (thanks, GRIP), but he'll be gone before the end of May.

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 12, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I think I had DCab down for 45 innings before he got the heave ho. Has he gotten there yet?

Posted by: 1of9000 | May 12, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

FWIW, Cabrera's ERA if all the unearned runs became earned (in a fictional Nationals world, of course):

8.45

Posted by: tengoalyrunr30 | May 12, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

What do the pitchers in Syracuse have to do to unseat Cabrera. The track record of some of those guys just dominates Daniel in a such a way that they deserve to be brought up. I just don't understand the decision to delay the inevitable. Time is a waisting. They are quite lucky to be only 6 or so games out at this point. Please...stop the bleeding now.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 12, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

>If Cabrera's going to suck, he ought to man up and just suck from the get-go. Instead he's a wimp who hangs on by a thread until there's an opening for him to blow the game without taking the blame for it. It's passive aggressive sucking, and it's even worse than regular sucking.

I didn't say the dude wasn't a wuss, I just said he had one of the better ERAs on the team. That means that something else is usually wrong. Like the defense, etc. Your statement could be applied to Manny, too. People want results. At least I do. Don't know about some of the homers on this board though. It would be a shame to waste 700 runs on Acta this year.

Posted by: Brue | May 12, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

"As ugly as Cabrera is, he still has one of the better ERAs on the staff."

This is the siren song of Daniel Cabrera. He is probably the worst not that bad pitcher I have ever seen. It was a great try, definitely worth it (though I wish we had a team that could have done the experiment at the minor league level), but it's looking like this one isn't going to work out. C'est la baseball!

Posted by: Section506 | May 12, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Is there any correlation to the uniform number Kensing wears and his downright ineffectiveness? Is this the Curse of the Wasteland of Minimal Production...now playing at a ballpark in Buffalo?

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 12, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

"who else would have preferred to see Hill as part of the starting rotation."

"Isn't he on the DL (again)?"

SD put Hill on the 15 day DL on 4/26/09. I guess they have to do something with him today (move him to the 60 day DL; DFA him; release him).

I believe his current diagnosis is "mystery arm".

Have to admire the, ummmmm, "tenacity" of people who still think the Nats could use Shawn Hill.

Posted by: joebleux | May 12, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

anybody notice that no. 22 is helping willie harris as much as it's helping john patterson right now?

Posted by: surly_w | May 12, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

How long has Dan-O been at his "craft" too long to allow an error to affect his pitching, if this was Jordan Zimmermann i might give him a pass but Danny has been around a while "Book him" and get him out of here.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 12, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I still ask what made Jim Bowden think he was smarter than Andy Mac Phail, a real baseball man, when it came to signing Cabrera?

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 12, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Chico for the behind-the-scenes look.

Question: What have St. Claire and DCab been working on? Mechanics? Do they work on stuff during bullpen sessions? Has Randy indicated whether progress has been made in the bullpens that we are not seeing in the games?

Posted by: dclifer | May 12, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"That means that something else is usually wrong"

What is wrong is his U-ERA.

Starting pitchers ranked by ERA:

Lannan 3.89
Martis 4.67
Cabrera 4.98
Zimmermann 5.48
Olsen 7.00

Starting pitchers ranked by the number of Un-Earned Runs per 9:

Lannan 4.83
Martis 5.00
Zimmermann 5.48
Olsen 7.50
Cabrera 8.46

What that tells us is what people have been saying based on anecdotal evidence... the dude does not recover from mistakes. Unlike J-Zimm, who is apparently a robot, when something goes wrong in the field, Cabrera lets it eat him and does things like issues 4 walks.

Posted by: Section506 | May 12, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

dclifer, Chico had an NJ entry a couple weeks ago about St. Claire and Cabrera, with quotes from Randy. The gist of it was St. Claire telling Chico that Cabrera won't listen to his advice to throw hard again/DCab doesn't like to talk. Bottom line sense I got is that they don't really work on stuff together Quite telling...

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | May 12, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

For those who cite Cabrera's ERA and say it must be the defense's fault, then it must be the case for other pitchers too, right?

Umm, no. In 272 Innings, the Nats have given up 190 run, 164 earned, 26 unearned.

In 34 Innings, of his 32 runs given up, Cabrera has 13 unearned runs, HALF the Nats total! It seems the defense only lapses on DCab's watch. So whose fault is that? Maybe the defense falls asleep watching his MLB-tied total of 28 Walks, or MLB-leading 8 Wild Pitches?


Posted by: VladiHondo | May 12, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Here's the link to Chico's previous post about Cabrera, from April 26:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2009/04/the_fireballer_without_the_fir.html

Here are some of the Q and As with St. Claire:

Q: Daniel Cabrera's velocity seems to be way down from earlier in his career. Yesterday he was throwing fastballs at, like, 89 or 90 mph mostly. What seems to be the problem?

He's really guiding the ball and aiming the ball.

Q: Do you think that's a result of a fear of being wild and walking guys?

It could be. You know, I don't know whether it's that or -- well, he hasn't said too much about it. I've talked to him a lot about it, but it's almost like he's really trying to guide the ball, throw strikes, instead of just trusting and just going after it. So I guess it's a question more you've got to ask him. Because I've asked him and haven't gotten a whole lot as to why.

* * * * *

Q: I was looking at the scoreboard readings for velocity, but what were you charting him at?

Well, 89, 91, that's what I saw. But I'm looking at the mechanics of it. But in my mind, I know that velocity is still there. But he will have to make up his mind to get back to where he was. I don't know whether he's just been wild for so long that he feels this is a way back. But I'm just guessing. Because I've talked and talked to him and he doesn't tell you a whole lot.

Q: Right, that's why I'm asking you what to make of all this.

Yeah, well he doesn't say much. He doesn't say much to me either. It's something that he will have to decide on what he wants to do, and right now I think the decision is, I'm gonna try to throw strikes. It's obvious, because you see it. And we've been going over video, so he knows exactly what the delivery looks like when he's going real strong and what it looks like when he's not. And there's a huge difference. A huge difference. That one at bat to David Wright, he was close.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | May 12, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

On the bright side... Nats are 3rd in AVG and OBP

and get this: 2nd in HRs and SLG!!!

What a turn around from last year. If only we had the pitching to boot...

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | May 12, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"In 34 Innings, of his 32 runs given up, Cabrera has 13 unearned runs, HALF the Nats total! It seems the defense only lapses on DCab's watch. So whose fault is that? Maybe the defense falls asleep watching his MLB-tied total of 28 Walks, or MLB-leading 8 Wild Pitches?"

BINGO! We have a winner!

Posted by: GalRevelsInPee | May 12, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

How do you solve a problem like Cabreraaa?

(Fill in the rest with witty lyrics to the tune from "Sound of Music")

Posted by: Juan-John | May 12, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

>In 34 Innings, of his 32 runs given up, Cabrera has 13 unearned runs, HALF the Nats total! It seems the defense only lapses on DCab's watch. So whose fault is that?

It's not Cabrera's job to keep the defense amused. It's the defense's job to catch the ball. They're pros, they're supposed to be ready. It ain't like little league where the kids blow bubbles and look off into space.

Or is it?

Fire Acta

Posted by: Brue | May 12, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"SD put Hill on the 15 day DL on 4/26/09. I guess they have to do something with him today (move him to the 60 day DL; DFA him; release him)."

They can just leave him on the 15-day DL if they want. It's 15 days minimum, I don't think there's a max on it. But he does stay on the 40-man roster while he's on the 15-day DL. If they move him to the 60-day DL, he doesn't count against the 40-man roster.

Posted by: GalRevelsInPee | May 12, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

"Lannan 4.83
Martis 5.00
Zimmermann 5.48
Olsen 7.50
Cabrera 8.46"

That's a lot of unearned runs. Are you sure this stat isn't earned + unearned runs per nine?

Posted by: GalRevelsInPee | May 12, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

brue, not sure what you're ranking "offense" in, but the nats are 5th (NL) and 12th (MLB) in runs. to me, that's the only way to rank an offense.

that said, i doubt anyone was expecting them to be 5th/12th this year and those numbers are great. now if we could only get a little more pitching...

Posted by: sec231 | May 12, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"That's a lot of unearned runs. Are you sure this stat isn't earned + unearned runs per nine?"

You're right, it is. I'm sick today, so my brain was moving slow. I meant TOTAL runs.

Posted by: Section506 | May 12, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Time for DCab, Kensing and Cintron to go. It is tough not to think of the games we COULD have won if not for these three.

How about giving Seth Bynum his first break instead of Cintron? If not, Casto or Orr? And Clippard and Rivera.

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

Not sure who everyone is attacking regarding Shawn Hill... looking back at posts here, no one is arguing for him. Seems like a lot of straw men flying around. Let's read the posts first, people.

Posted by: kfisher32 | May 12, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

where is odalis when you need him?

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | May 12, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

"where is odalis when you need him?"

Getting his phone repaired?

Posted by: Section506 | May 12, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I believe that yesterday there was some discussion about whether Cabrera's wildness was a cause of poor fielding. I think most would say that the Nationals' fielding sucks whether Cabrera is on the mound or not. However, last night's game adds validity to the argument that poor control pitchers lead to even worse fielding (and vice versa). It is harder to remain ready and alert for 30 pitches in an inning that it is for 10 pitches per inning. Similarly it is harder to issue fewer walks when you have to get four or more outs.

Perhaps more important to me, it is painful to watch laborious games and hard to reserve time to watch long games. It's like starting a book or a movie knowing that you will never get to the ending.

I absolutely make my decisions on whether to go to a game based on who is pitching. If it is Cabrera, I am going to be less inclined. It's likely to be too much of a time commitment.

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 12, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

kfisher, a *LOT* of people complained when he was released (and for quite a while after). then a lot of those people got very uppity when hill's first start or two was decent. now that he's on the DL for mysterious pains again, those people suddenly aren't around defending their earlier positions. not surprising.

Posted by: sec231 | May 12, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

The whole concept of passive-aggressive sucking made me laugh hard. Thanks, GRIP.

Posted by: mjhoya12 | May 12, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

On a sunny day in the early 90s I went to see the Mariners wild young phenom Randy Johnson pitch at (now old) Yankee Stadium. Randy lived up to his reputation - by the end of the 1st inning, the NYY had scored six runs on a combination of walks, hit batters, wild pitches - I don't remember an actual hit. RJ came out wild again in the 2nd and gave up one more run. Then he straightened things out and batters couldn't touch him - he pitched deep into the game. The Mariners won the game in extras. Has D. Cabrera ever shown an ability to recover like that?

Posted by: natsagain | May 12, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

@natbiscuits

It's not so much that poor pitching causes poor fielding---though I think that is the case to some degree, even with professional fielders---it's that with Cabrera, every mistake leads to unearned runs. I think yesterday was the third separate game that he walked in (at least) a run when the bases were loaded as a result of poor fielding. A pitcher simply cannot let every mistake behind him turn into multiple runs.

Posted by: jcj5y | May 12, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

If Manny says Cabrera's still in the rotation - well, it's starting to sound like Manny needs to follow him out-the-door. And PLEASE take Kensing & Rivera with you. While I realize the innings have to pitched by someone, I refuse to believe the Nats can't offer better. Damn if I'll EVER buy a ticket to watch Cabrera pitch; unless he's wearing some other suckers uniform. All this fine hitting being wasted and soon a divided clubhouse to follow . . .

Posted by: CheckSix | May 12, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

The original:

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?


And now, with apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein, and a nod to Mad Magazine, my version:

How do you solve a problem like Cabrera?
How do get a bum like him to think?
How do you cope with someone like Cabrera?
He’s out of control! He’s driving me to drink!

Manny has things we know he’d like to tell him
Like when the next plane departs for Syracuse
But he has to let him stay
And pitch for one more day
And listen one more time to his excuse

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Cabrera?
Sadly, I think there really is no use.

Posted by: Meridian1 | May 12, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Cabrera is still probably in the rotation because of the day/nighter against the Phillies on Saturday. But that begs the question....isn't there ANYONE is Syracuse who could do better than El Fuego Grande?

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 12, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Cabrera looks better in the box score than he does on TV. 39 runs allowed this year, only 19 earned. Clearly, he's playing in front of a poor defense, right?

Well, while that is an accurate statement, Manny and 506 are right. The guy just can't recover like professional pitchers can.

Willingham should have made that play. That would have ended the inning and prevented at least two more runs from scoring. It's certainly not all Cabrera's fault. But he was bad, and everyone knows it - including Cabrera himself.

These are winnable games. Cabrera, a bad bullpen, and poor defense are converting opportunities into failures.

Posted by: JohninMpls | May 12, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

DCab's days are clearly numbered. I think he gets one more start and if he pitches like a dude he keeps wondering whether he left the oven on, then he is gone.

It is only a matter of time before Stammen gets the call. He is pithcing well in Syracuse, just as he did in ST.

And there is no question in my mind, that fielders struggle with their focus when a guy like DCab pitches and labors through inning after inning and start after start.

It's like trying to keep your focus through a long meeting or speech when some keeps going on and on and on.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 12, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Cabrera's "obligation" to wait for the media? Hmmm, might be a little strong.

Anyway, it is all how you look at it. Chico, being miffed at the slight, looks at it as if Willingham is a good guy here and Cabrera some jackass. Maybe not so. Cabrera is steamed. At himself for not being able to control his stuff, at his temmates for NEVER being able to make a play for him and generally because he keeps losing. The guy is on the verge of being DFA'd, how would like hi mto act? Willingham is walking around casually eating a post-game steak, not a care in the world. "I missed it." he says. No kidding Josh, you missed it? Wow, he had not noticed. Willingham was not despondent that they lost, that he made a crucial mistake (that he struck out 3 times -- that homer lifted his average to something near .200 I bet!). Oh well, we'll get 'em tomorrow -- pass the A-1.

Chico, give Cabrera a break -- the rest of this team growing tired of his poor play is a bit much when well more than half of them should not be throwing rocks at glass houses.

Posted by: dfh21 | May 12, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

"And there is no question in my mind, that fielders struggle with their focus when a guy like DCab pitches and labors through inning after inning and start after start."

Willingham makes his first error in two years while playing behind Cabrera. Coincidence? I think not. Even such noted "head in the game" players as Felipe Lopez and Nook Logan would probably have trouble maintianing focus playing behind Daniel Cabrera.

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

Nice, Meridian. Next can you do the Nat Song (When you're a Nat, you're a Nat all the way...)?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 12, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

ERA is one of the most stupid statistical categories in baseball.
With two outs and an error by a fielder that allows two runs - fine no ERAs.
Walk the next four batters: all ERAs for the pitcher.

Posted by: johnbear1 | May 12, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

"Head in the game" players. Good one, GRIP.

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

Thank you CIL,
I missed that one. But it begs to question, does Randy have any specific drills that he has DCab run through. It seems that DCab's mechanics and "guiding the ball" have become so ingrained, that they need to break him down and rebuild his mechanics (ala what the Tigers essentially did with Dontrelle Willis and what John Patterson did with his father after his first surgery). Of course, to do so, DCab would have to be willing to commit to the overhaul and it would require a demotion.

As part of the link you posted, CIL. "Q: It's a matter of lower-half mechanics? It's a lower-half thing. Because we've worked the hands in spring training; his hands, his break." They also need to focus on his follow through, and tons of other things too. I imagine they are doing a ton of work, not just wotking on him breaking his hands.

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

In answer to the question I posed yesterday, it looks like it's full steam ahead on the Milledge All Star campaign, despite his broken finger. Chris Needham has another "get out the vote" post up today on his NBC blog. Vote early and vote often, I guess.

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

With apologies to Rodgers, Hammerstein AND Meridian, here's my take:

How do you solve a problem like Cabrera?
How do you stop the wildness in his toss?
How do you find a term that means Cabrera?
A junkballer guy, a drag on the staff, a loss.

Many a thing St. Claire would like to tell him
Many a thing he ought to understand
But how do you make him stay
And listen to what you say,
After you take the ball out of his hand?

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Cabrera?
Buy him a return ticket to Birdland!

Posted by: MikeH0714 | May 12, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

What's crazy is wasting Zimm's awesome performance. Frankly, the Nats ought to beg him to renegotiate and extend, even if it means a raise. When the sides picked a number, it was with some uncertainty on both sides about his health. No questions left there. Of course, Zimm is happy with the number, and probably is equally happy to have the option to get out of Dodge as soon as he can. Right now, he's a bargain, and, as the face of the franchise, the Nats should want to lock him up in perpetuity -- but, it is what it is.

As for D-Cab, you're all throwing around the wrong numbers. The only number that counts is 11. The last eleven times D-Cab has taken the mound, his team lost. You can't blame that kind of consistency on the fielders, the hitters, or even bad luck.

Sure, Olson has a higher ERA, but he's won games. And Zimmermann's ERA is inflated by a couple of rough innings. Overall, he's been very effective -- and the Nats usually win when he pitches. You can't say the same about Cabrera.

Cabrera needs to go, for the morale of the team and the players. Giving him more starts isn't really doing him any favors, either.

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

My take is that management (and I assume ownership) must see that this team is on the verge of becoming something very special. The youth movement seems to be working. The problem is when they have great pitching, decent defense they have no offense. Now, they have great offense featuring a HR leader and a guy who has hit in 29 straight games. But the pitching has taken a dramatic decline.

They keep rooting around, signing relatively cheap cast off veterans ostensibly to fix the bullpen. Meanwhile guys who seemed to be progressing well last year have been the largest part of the decline. Hinckley was release, when perhaps he probably should have been retained and Cabrera released?

Perhaps its time to get some veteran leadership on the pitching staff? They need a guy in the starting rotation to bring both stability along with a contagious winning aura. It may be time to bite the bullet and sign a Pedro Martinez? Not sure if Mulder is recovered enough?

They need to stop using young pitchers who need seasoning as cannon fodder. They will have 2 first round picks. They may end up with 2 pitchers who might be able to come up in a year or two perhaps? They have other pitchers in the minors who are going to be ready. Perhaps they can now afford to bring winning veterans as opposed to journeymen who believe they can help mold a winning pitching staff?

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

Next in line for the Nats should not be Craig Stammen. While he has been terrific at 'Cuse, the Chiefs have another starter with more impressive numbers: J.D. Martin. 2 BBs and 22 Ks. Sounds like he's closer to being ready for the bigs. Sure, he's been hanging around a lot longer -- looking like a 1st-rounder that didn't quite develop, but this might be his time. His years of experience might hold him in good stead.

Posted by: fischy | May 12, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

You know I have a problem with this Milledge for the All-Star game crap.

First, Milledge may be a strong personality but, he is a freakin' human being and people are trying to humiliate the guy. For what? Sh*t's and grins. Ridiculous IMO.

Second, its making a mockery of an already flawed system. Fans already stuff the ballot and vote in a lot players that shouldn't be in the game every year. Now this.

This is a jackass move and I hope it fails.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 12, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I've got the solution: Move Cabrera to the bullpen!! Hehe.

Release Kensing, promote someone for the open rotation spot.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | May 12, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I agree on Milledge, 505

2 Maccabees 5:6 "Jason then slaughtered his fellow citizens without mercy, not realizing that triumph over one's own kindred was the greatest failure, but imagining that he was winning a victory over his enemies, not his fellow countrymen."

As for bullpen, let's not forget that relief pitching is the least dependable entity in baseball. Dependable pitchers become starters (or closers). Ones that aren't dependable go to the bullpen.

As hard as it is to swallow, don't worry about the bullpen this year. Sure up the youth movement in the rotation and the much shakier position player youth movement. Those are long-term items. If you grab a good arm in the bullpen today, it may be gone by tomorrow. You get a good bat and a good glove in the field today, it can be mostly counted on for years.

Posted by: Section506 | May 12, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I also agree re. Milledge, as posted in other threads.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 12, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"They may end up with 2 pitchers who might be able to come up in a year or two perhaps?"

Let's hope that Strassburg is ready before that. Many folks here (including myself) are looking forward to seeing him in a Nat's uniform by September at the latest.

Posted by: twinbrook | May 12, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

On the obligation front, I think when you make $2.5M per year or draw any kind of paycheck from a fan-ticket-media based revenue stream, you absolutely have an obligation to feed the beast.

Maybe, like the Pirates Handbook, its more of a guideline than a rule, but its a guideline well worth following. And as we have seen there are consequences - in the media, in the fan support, and in the lockerroom - when you don't follow the guidelines.

Ask Odalis what happens when you have fringe talent and you don't play nice.

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 12, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Jokes aside - I want to second some of the opinions on here. Give Cabrera a break for not wanting to address the media. It was pretty clear he was upset by how the game went - Manny needs to step up and bring the team together in a situation like this. Also - this Milledge all-star thing is really lame. Troll-territory if you ask me. Don't feed it!

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

@MikeH0714: Great work! Put the two versions together and it's a hit!

Now 'fess up. I have a theory that anyone who likes writing fake lyrics to Broadway tunes was (or is) a subscriber to Mad Magazine, where one found such legendary hits as "The Last Time I Saw Maris" (to the tune of "The Last Time I Saw Paris), which twitted Roger Maris for becoming a pitchman.

That Mad parody became the focus of a case that clarified the First Amendment right to parody copyrighted material.

Posted by: Meridian1 | May 12, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

"Chico, give Cabrera a break -- the rest of this team growing tired of his poor play is a bit much when well more than half of them should not be throwing rocks at glass houses"

Brilliant post, couldn't agree more.

Posted by: skippy1999 | May 12, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

You get a good bat and a good glove in the field today, it can be mostly counted on for years.

Posted by: Section506 | May 12, 2009 12:42 PM
----------------------------------------------

Aside from Ryan Zimmerman and Nick Johnson, please identify someone on the Nats who has a good bat AND a good glove.

Flores isn't horrible behind the plate, but he's no Brian Schneider. I guess Hernandez hits well enough to stay in the lineup, but he's not going to win many games with his bat. And Dukes may yet develop into a good fielder, but he is definitely not there yet. Kearns has a good glove (even if he's pretty slow-footed for an outfielder), but his .243 BA isn't living up to the pre-season hype. And, anyone else who can hit (Dunn, Guzman, maybe Willingham), really stinks in the field.

Posted by: fischy | May 12, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Meridian1: Of course, I read MAD regularly. I'm too young to have seen "Last Time I Saw Maris," but I'm old enough to remember this parody of a well-known Christmas carol (and the original names for Visa and MasterCard):

O Little BankAmericard
You bring me Christmas cheer!
Without your clout there'd be no doubt
No gifts I'd give this year!
Your credit line allows me
To run up debts quite large.
And when I'm through exhausting you,
I'll use my Master Charge!

Posted by: MikeH0714 | May 12, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

What I really want to know is why hasn't Hernandez been playing much lately? He was smoking the ball pretty well since moving down to the 8 spot, but lately it's been Belliard starting. Is AH hurt or something?

As for personnel moves, I'm guessing that the Nats are waiting until they return home on Thursday before they make any roster moves. Why pay for the cross-country airfare when it'd be cheaper to wait two days and drive the replacements down from Syracuse.

My guess is that they will DFA Kensing once the team's plane lands. They'll either call up Bergmann or Clippard. Or, they may wait until Friday and call up Colome (who I think is eligible to be called up on the 15th).

Also, they will option Cintron back down to Syracuse and will call back up Gonzalez.

As for Cabrera ... because of the doubleheader Saturday, he'll probably stick around for that start. Even if he were to pitch decently (more than 5 innings pitched, less than 6 walks, less than 3 wild pitches) I think his time here is up. They'll probably DFA him right after the start and bring up Balester. Stammen or Martin might need a little more time in AAA to see if they can continue their successful start to the 09 season.

Posted by: erocks33 | May 12, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

The Milledge All Star campaign was not conceived by those Red Sox fans as a way to humiliate Milledge. It was conceived as a way to humiliate the Nationals, and by extension their fans. So it's rather ironic that Chris Needham, who is embraced as an icon of Nats fandom by so many in the Natmosphere, has taken the ball and run with it on this Milledge campaign. In fact, as far as I can tell his is the only name of an actual person that is associated with this campaign right now. He is literally the poster boy for self-loathing Nationals fans worldwide.

Posted by: GalRevelsInPee | May 12, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

If only for the line "throwing rocks at glass houses."

*************************
"Chico, give Cabrera a break -- the rest of this team growing tired of his poor play is a bit much when well more than half of them should not be throwing rocks at glass houses"
-----------
Brilliant post, couldn't agree more.
Posted by: skippy1999 | May 12, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 12, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

In 2-3 years, I can see the Nats with a team that hits and fields, but it depends on some real unknowns.

An outfield with J-Max in CF, Dukes in RF, and ?? in LF; An infield with Johnson/Marrero @ 1b, Hernandez/Bynum at 2b, Desmond/Espinosa/Gonzalez @ SS, Zimm @ 3b, and Flores/Norris @ C.

There's potential there, but a lot more unknowns than knowns. If the bullpen can be straightened out, I am more confident in the pitching prospects.

Posted by: fischy | May 12, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I think judging by Cover.is Lacking post on the conversation between Chico and St.Claire, that it's time for Randy to go and take Manny with him,enough of the excuses i would bring in Ray Knight, as much as i think he's smart azz he know's what he's talking about concerning this team and i think he would be well respected in the clubhouse i've said this before there's nothing Manny can say to a lot of these player's i mean what has he done on a professional level? not a damn thing and he doesn't have an extensive minor league resume Stan and Jimbo brought him in because they felt threatened by F.Robby and knew Manny would do what he was told the key to this team moving forward is to get rid of Stan the Plan,Kasten is not a baseball man no matter what anyone says but he's got the Lerners put together like a two piece puzzle and if they are smart they'll let Rizzo become the permanent GM and get this team moving in the right direction let Stan,Manny and the Saint find new employment.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 12, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

The all-star thing for LM is just roosters coming home ... chickens roasting at home... chickens becoming homers to root. The Beggar's Question. Beating his own drummer.

We feed the snark, and this is where it leads. Srsly.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 12, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

The obligation that Cabrera has when it comes to talking to the press is not an obligation to the press, but an obligation to his teammates, which I believe is Chico's point... and it isn't a contractual one, but rather, a social one.

As an example, when Paul LoDuca was "struggling" last season, you didn't see him shy away from the press... and of course, LoDuca has enough ego for half a team, and he played in New York, so there probably wasn't much that fazed him, and he probably liked talking to the media... But that said, LoDuca was the first one to point the finger at himself when he made mistakes.

At the risk of making a blanket generalization... nothing good comes from sulkers in baseball... at least the two that come to mind most immediately: Cabrera and Felipe Lopez.

Posted by: wigi | May 12, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Ray Knight? RAY KNIGHT?1?!?!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Knight#Coaching_career

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 12, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

"Chico, give Cabrera a break -- the rest of this team growing tired of his poor play is a bit much when well more than half of them should not be throwing rocks at glass houses"

If Daniel Cabrera threw rocks at a glass house, he'd walk it on four pitches.

Posted by: GalRevelsInPee | May 12, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Reason #2,350,821 Why Baseball Is The Most Perfect Analog for Life

*************
At the risk of making a blanket generalization... nothing good comes from sulkers in baseball...
Posted by: wigi | May 12, 2009 1:23 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 12, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Dargregmag, could you please put periods at the end of your sentences? It's just one extra keystroke, and shouldn't take that much time out of your busy day.

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 12, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

GRiP:

***DingDingDing***

We have a winner!

Posted by: wigi | May 12, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

5 pitches. He'd throw a strike on the 3-0 pitch.

Posted by: fischy | May 12, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

"If Daniel Cabrera threw rocks at a glass house, he'd walk it on four pitches."

GRIP wins the thread.

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 12, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Blaming Manny for our defense is just as bad as blaming Rizzo for the poor roster. Zimm is great in the field, Hernandez like-wise now that the errors have settled down. Johnson is very good (though the injuries seem to have slowed him down). Other than that we have nothing but poor defenders on this team. Bowden finally got the roster he dreamed of right as he left. Dukes is a very good right fielder. Kearns is believed to be good and has a very good arm but most sabermetrics put him at middling.

This team can win a game when they are on song but they can't manufacture a win because the way to grind out a victory is with defense, speed and pitching. None of which we have.

Posted by: soundbloke | May 12, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

What is fascination with JD Martin and Bynum? They are career minor league players. They are what is called organization players. They are needed but are missing skills to make them major league. Huge difference between them and prospects. Good averages in AA and AAA don't mean a thing. What matters is skill sets that scouts see. These guys are OK but are definitely not prospects. That's all we need are more career minor leaguers on this team.

Posted by: natsguy | May 12, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I remember a story, probably more true than factual, about (I think) Paul Hornung. He'd missed a very makeable field goal to cost Green Bay a game, and was disconsolately sitting at his locker, holding a .38, just sitting and staring at it. One of the sportswriters saw him and started trying to talk to him. "It's just a game! Don't do it!" Lombardi walks by and tosses off, "Don't worry, he'll miss."

************
If Daniel Cabrera threw rocks at a glass house, he'd walk it on four pitches.
Posted by: GalRevelsInPee | May 12, 2009 1:26 PM |

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 12, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

@MikeH0714 and @Meridian:

Great ones, guys! :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | May 12, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

My bad on Bynum -- I didn't realize he was already 28. Probably has hit his peak. As for Martin, it's a little different -- a couple of years younger and he's a former 1st rounder. That suggests he might have the skill sets scouts seek. It just might be that he didn't get it together until now. He does seem to have taken a pretty big leap forward this year.

Posted by: fischy | May 12, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

while i like and appreciated frank robinson, i find the idolic worship of him as a manager amusing, at best. and the thought that he was let go because management felt "threatened" by him... *snicker*

look, the guy was an unbelievable player, one of the best ever. he was a mediocre manager (at least for this era). but let's try looking forward instead of backward. frank's not coming back. davey johnson isn't coming out of retirement. and even if either of them did, they wouldn't fix the team or even make it better. sure you don't want to resurrect earl weaver just to poke at the orioles instead?

be forward thinking, not stuck in the past. look clearly, not through rose-colored glasses.

Posted by: sec231 | May 12, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

"If Daniel Cabrera threw rocks at a glass house, he'd walk it on four pitches."

Yeah, and he'd hit the house next door with at least one of them.

Posted by: baltova1 | May 12, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the team that shall not be named, why not Cal Ripkin? Give him part ownership and the manager's position, maybe he'll take the job.

Posted by: swang30 | May 12, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

BTW, anybody else notice the feature story on SI.com today? The Five Best and Worst Owners in each major sport? The Lerners have quickly put themselves in some exalted company.

Posted by: baltova1 | May 12, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Last summer I was driving behind Daniel Cabrera as we approached the Ft. McHenry tunnel in Baltimore. At the toll plaza, Cabrera threw his change at the coin collector and missed low and away.

Posted by: trezmartin | May 12, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to whomever pointed out J.D. Martin. He's an intriguing guy: 26, former #1 pick of the Indians, who was a hot prospect back in 2002-03. Must have been hurt from 2005-07 (only pitched about 10 times each year). Got his form back last year, mainly in AA. When you're a bad team like the Nats, this is the kind of guy you take a chance on. It'd be worth it to bring him up at some point this year, just to see what he might do.

Also, if I did my math right, Stammen is on track to pitch on Tuesday.

Posted by: baltova1 | May 12, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

swang30, i think before you ask "why not cal ripkin," you need to ask "why cal ripken?" what is it about cal that says "major league manager" to you?

Posted by: sec231 | May 12, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

new post

Posted by: NatsNut | May 12, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

If I wanted bad pitching I would watch the Orioles.

Oh wait I do watch the Orioles.

The sad thing is the Pitcher comes up to bat every 8 outs. So your saying Caberra through 4 2/3 innings and atleast two of those outs were the PITCHER!!?!

Please. Watch the AMERICAN LEAGUE. WHERE REAL BASEBALL IS PLAYED.

Posted by: Watercoolerbsblogspotcom | May 12, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Spring 2008 I was at ST with the Nats playing the Orioles. Cabrera pitched & won. My mom was an Oriole fan (now more of a Nats fan) so I waited after the game to get my ball signed by any available Orioles. "Wd you sign this for my 80-year-old Oriole fan mother?" Well, who can turn that down? And Cabrera was fine--looked confident, slightly friendly, and signed my ball.
I guess I have some sympathy for a guy who gets dumped by one team, hopes to do better with us, and is having major problems. I wonder if he has seen a sports psychologist. If he cd handle the emotional side, maybe he'd have a better chance of improving his pitching.

Posted by: Section109 | May 12, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

there is no reason to see cabrera and kensing out there with guys at triple a pitching as well as you could hope, stammen and clippard please

Posted by: bford1kb | May 12, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

"My guess is that they will DFA Kensing once the team's plane lands."

- correct

"They'll either call up Bergmann or Clippard. Or, they may wait until Friday and call up Colome (who I think is eligible to be called up on the 15th)."

- correct on Colome. Clippard stays down to continue to adjust to relieving. Not on the 40 man, I believe, but may be mistaken. Bergmann is the shuttle candidate.

Also, they will option Cintron back down to Syracuse and will call back up Gonzalez.

- heaven forbid. Gonzalez must play every day. He is not to be buried on the bench. At some point, perhaps Cintron is cut, although this slump is not consistent with his career track record. But if Cintron is voted off the island, I'd hope they would have a better use for the roster slot. Really, they have two backup middle infielders already in Harris and Belliard. They can get you through a game if Guz is hurt (AH can move to SS for a few innnings). I would rather see a second defensive outfielder (Langerhans) who can run or a back up corner IF (Casto) than Gonzalez back up to sit. That's just be poor development and roster management.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 12, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

"The obligation that Cabrera has when it comes to talking to the press is not an obligation to the press, but an obligation to his teammates, which I believe is Chico's point... and it isn't a contractual one, but rather, a social one."

That's not how it was presented. Chico made it seem as though starting pitchers are obligated to talk to the press after a game. This implies the starting pitchers are obligated to provide a story to the press.

The press needs to come up with their own stories. But since Cabrera didn't make nice and chat with Chico, Chico made up his own story about how Cabrera is a (insert word here).

And - if talking to the press is an obligation to his teammates, what it sounds like is Cabrera should be talking to his teammates, and not the press or through the press.

This is what happens when someone doesn't cooperate with the media - be it a player, a celebrity or a politician. They get wasted by the subsequent copy.

In lieu of his grandfather's passing, I'll defer any more comments on this

Posted by: dand187 | May 12, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

A Note to Sec.231: A little "amused" by your being amused at the so called idolic worship of Frank Robinson.Frank Robinson took a bunch of castoffs and had them in first place through the all star break and beyond, a team that had no owner, no spending dollars to go out and garner help after the all star break to help that team through the dog days of August and into the stretch of the September pennant race,while you consider Frank average at best what pray tell was Joe Torre as a manager before he got Steinbrenner's money with the Yankees. The snickering that you alluded to in your post must be a reference to Jimbo and Stan Kasten's laughing at the Lerner's for allowing them to hire Manny Acta and show F.Robby the door yeah they felt threatened because Frank has forgotten more baseball than either one of those dumbo's will ever know.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 12, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Joe Torre was a good manager, stuck with truly terrible teams. I was a Mets fan -- never blamed Torre.

Posted by: fischy | May 12, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the single greatest post I've read in the NJ:

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

Accountability.

I thought I heard someone in the Nats organization mention that before they sent some ineffective people down a few weeks ago. Accountability. Does that apply to the people who keep a Cabrera or a Kensing or a Cintron or Olsen in the lineup? How many more bad at-bats, bad starts and bad relief appearances are enough?

If the Nats team were a ship afloat on the high seas it would be an interesting sight.
On deck you would see a bunch of people hoisting sails, working hard to propel the vessel to shore. However, just above the waterline you would see about three gaping holes and through each enough water is coming in that you can see the ship is in perilous condition. Where is the captain?

Posted by: ajtrue78 | May 12, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

I think if Cabrera is going to make it in the big leagues, it's going to be as a relief pitcher, maybe a closer. Give him one more start, then send him down and more than likely, it'll be Craig Stammen who'll get called up...

Posted by: bromisky | May 12, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Cabrera is only being Cabrera, to a T. You might get away with him as a low-pressure 4th or 5th starter on a winning team with bats like ours as long as you have a reasonably strong pen, but we're obviously not that team at this juncture. Like Kwame Brown, you have to forget about the dude's supposed physical potential and move on. And with his local history known to all he couldn't be helping ticket sales either. I couldn't understand why we would bring him here in the first place, after several years and a some quality pitching coaches couldn't make it work with him on another losing team in our own back yard. And with the guys we've got coming down the road, there's no way he can be part of Stan's much-hyped "plan". So the quicker he's gone, and the sooner we bring up some guys who might actually be part of the future (here or even eventually elsewhere), the better I'll like it.

Posted by: evanescent_panoply | May 13, 2009 2:38 AM | Report abuse

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