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Acta And Some Reading Links

Manny Acta has managed the Nationals since Nov. 14, 2006 -- a span, now, of 372 games (and 227 losses) -- and never has his job been on shakier ground. The team has an off day today. It doesn't play again until tomorrow, 7:05 p.m. It has a six game losing streak, a 13-36 record and a disturbing penchant for errors, walks and mental lapses. Teams, typically, don't tolerate such a static course for long.

So will Acta still be this team's skipper on Tuesday night? I wish I could say I knew for sure. A managerial change would shake up the clubhouse and represent a very public sign that a miserable status quo won't be tolerated. (Plus, the team has already tried repeated roster shake-ups.) But it would also, potentially, do nothing to alter the results, and leave the organization with an interim manager as well as an acting GM.

When Mike Rizzo was addressing his team's attitude and leadership yesterday, a mixed picture emerged. He spoke highly of the team's attitude and effort level, but his support of Acta was more ambiguous than it was on April 19, back when the Nats had a 1-10 record. That day, Rizzo said of his manager, "I support Manny Acta and so does the organization. He's our manager -- he's a good, young manager -- and I think he's handled the ballclub great."

Here's what Rizzo said yesterday:

"I haven't heard any player point a finger, I haven't heard any grumbling other than frustration with themselves, and I think that's a testament to the players themselves and to the management," he said. "I can tell by the attitude of the team, the effort level of the ballclub, the attentiveness of meetings and that type of thing. We've got guys who run balls out every time no matter what the score is, no matter what just happened the inning before. Those are all signs of the attitude of the club, and really a testament to the professionalism of the players."

Asked directly about Acta's job security, Rizzo offered an indirect answer. "Like I said, the manager is judged by how the players react. The effort level is there. The respect level is there. The evaluation process continues for everybody, including the staff, including the players."

Follow-up: So, is Acta's job secure?

"I just answered that question," he said. "We're constantly evaluating everybody in the organization. We'll evaluate it, and decisions are gonna be made."

---

While we're at it, some links from around the hardball world.

The Nats get busy on assembling their draft board.

Baseball America (subscribers only) has its latest mock draft. In addition to the obvious, it has the Nats taking Kennesaw State pitcher Chad Jenkins at No. 10. It also had Aaron Crow going fourth overall to the Pirates.

Jamie Moyer wins his 250th.

On Wednesday against the Nats, Randy Johnson goes for win No. 300. Here's a pretty cool account of what he was like as a high school pitcher.

By Chico Harlan  |  June 1, 2009; 8:38 AM ET
 
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Comments

Time to move on. Let him take a position elsewhere, continue to grow into the profession, and one day he may be a winning MLB manager.

Just not now, not here, with this crew, with this franchise.

Posted by: joemktg2 | June 1, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like Mike Rizzo hasn't grown tired of watching Manny Acta yet, doesn't it? The Manny Acta work ethic as outlined in his MASN blog (http://masnsports.com/2009/06/inside-an-average-day-in-the-m.html) trumps a 1-10 start, trumps 18 losses out of the last 21, trumps a 13-36 overall record. You can suck on it, and you can like it.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

If not now, when?

If not this, what?

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 1, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

1. Based on the story in today's print edition, neither Chico Harlan nor Manny Acta know what infield practice is. It's OK for Harlan to swallow Acta saying they do it before every home game, because he's after all a Post reporter, so what do you expect.

But Acta's smoking something if he thinks hitting a few routein grounders to each position constitutes infielod practice.

As for Rizzo, I get queasy when I think the "front office" he is part of is going to be making important decisions on the upcoming draft. I'd rather have the new head of "Government Motors" make those decisions. Couldn't be worse.

Hey, Chico. How does Stand the Plan evaluate his plan's progress? Other than the fact that he doesn't care about the decline in attendance, made clear recently to Boswell, what are his preoccupations? His intentions? To skip town, maybe?

Posted by: JohnRDC | June 1, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

It is time, let get Buck Showalter on the phone and in uniform for Tuesday's game.

Posted by: brothbart | June 1, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Remember when Mike Rizzo was the savior of the world?

That was two months ago.

Good luck to whoever they con into replacing Acta.

Posted by: Section506 | June 1, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

It simply cannot be worse with someone else at the helm. And Acta is already an interim manager -- no contract for next year and it is hard for me to think this organization (Acta being no one's guy really) is seriously considering keeping him on after this awful run. (Is some new GM gonna put his name behind Acta? Even if it is Rizzo, not sure that is a good bet.) He symbolizes more of the same. Why should any fan think the club will play better under Acta than it has played under Acta?

It is to the point where everything Manny does, all he says, comes over badly. Acta's "we need to concentrate on defense" stuff Bill Ladson wrote about on mlb.com comes 50 games into the season? His historical lousy runs needs to end. I wish the guy well, but I want him outta town on the next bus.

If this club plays well over the next two months, it means that vets may be more movable -- that alone is worth trying someone new.

Posted by: dfh21 | June 1, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Not even an "unequivocal" vote of confidence.

Question is when. Do you make the switch now, with 8 days left until the draft? Do you go into the draft with an interim GM and a manager not likely to last until the All Star game?

I've been a supporter of the Lerners and Kasten from the jump. I've also been an Acta supporter (with the caveat that, at some time, as the team developed, it might be necessary to bring in another personality to get them over the hump.)

I'm afraid that everyone has now painted themselves into a corner. Either the team needs to lose the interim in Rizzo's title and let him pick his manager; put it out that this year is just marking time and a new GM will be named (looking for a non-traditional pick, a la Theo Epstein, Mark Shapiro, etc), who will name his own manager at the end of the season (looking for lightning in a bottle); or...maybe there is no other choice.

At some time almost every manager, who does not win pennants or World Series on a regular basis "loses" the team. That may be the case, here. I'm not sure what personality adjustment needs to be made, but maybe a Larry Bowa type is needed for the rest of the year. Maybe something else.

What I think that I am saying is that it is now time for the Nats to make some serious changes. No, top end F/As don't grow on trees; no, you can't just throw money up in the air and hope to come down with all star or near all star players; no, teams are not going to make any of the trades that have been suggested, here, since they are not stupid; no, the Nats are not going to be in serious contention for at least a couple of years, even if things go as well as "planned." Yes, the Nats are in one of the toughest divisions in Baseball; yes, there is a reasonable amount of talent on this team; yes, the relief pitching is abominable (but so is most of the league's this year); yes, we may be the current laughingstock of MLB, but that is because teams like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, etc. have been in that position so long that they are no longer laughingstocks, they are just written off.

Hang in there. Baseball is a long term project. Always has been. Always will be.

Posted by: Catcher50 | June 1, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

OK, will someone PLEASE tell me what firing acta will do? The mobs with torches will feel better for a couple days, but then they'll be going after Rizzo. Then Kasten. Trust me, this is a crappy team, and looking for scapegoats could keep you busy. Just give up and go to Bowie or Potomac. It's cheaper, better entertainment, and you really don't care if they lose. If you want to back a winner, pick another team.

Oh, and while you're cleaning out Manny's locker, who's better that will actually work here? Same with Rizzo, for that matter.

Posted by: Section406 | June 1, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Hey gang...most of you no doubt spend hours each day on the internet scouring it for Nats-related tidbits-as I do. But in cas you don't , or you missed this on Federal Baseball, here's the link:

http://www.federalbaseball.com/2009/5/31/894033/the-nats-dont-need-to-be-have-nots
Talks about how the Lerners have 3 TIMES the wealth of the boys in the Bronx and also laments their lack of spending.One other nice piece is from Murray Chass, formerly the alpha-dog baseball man at the NY Times, who in my view is still terrific and capable of raising hackles....

http://www.murraychass.com/?p=743

So, an off day. What are we gonna find fault with today? I say send Manny to the minors, bring up Foli, and have Acta work on his pressers!
Go Nats!

Posted by: zendo | June 1, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Rookie (clueless) owners, rookie GM to be, rookie (I wanna be sedated) manager....Is it any wonder this team is rudderless.

Stan (Please send me back to Peach Street) K was supposed to be the anchor and driving force. Instead he's either been a a no-show or shown to be completely inept.

And since he and the Lerner's, UNFORTUNATELY, aren't going anywhere, maybe it's time to think about bringing in a real veteran GM. Enough with guys learning on the job. Is this a tryout camp or what?

How bout some real leaders and pros. Let Rizzo and Acta hold hands while skipping away together.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 1, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

And oh, Catcher 50-indeed. I find myself with views/positions very similar. Or at keast I did. I'm not sure what to think now, but I do wish we could get some public comments from the Lerners-if only to acknowledge that they get the fact that we are an anguished angry bunch, and that they appreciate our dismay. As I've said here before-I believe we all want to like the Lerners, support the way they are handling our team, want Acta to succeed....but WANTING and HAVING seam to be mutually exclusive these days in Natstown, eh?
Heck, I even want Austin Kearns to resurrect his career..in Japan......Go Nats

Posted by: zendo | June 1, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Let's take a step back and look at the big picture.

The owners of our beloved home town Nats are doing things on the cheap and have sold us as fans, a bill of goods that they will put all profits back into the team. This has not happened.

The President is a used car salesman who has no idea what customer service is. I also don't think he would know a baseball if it hit in the backside. This "Plan" he has made so much of is code for doing things on the cheap.

The GM is not officially the GM because he is still in interim status.

The Manager has obviously lost the team and even though he was highly regarded when he was hired, it has become increasing apparent that he was overrated.

The Minor league system is not very deep and is barren of position talent. The pitching is a little better but a good number of prospects have been overrated.

The current ML roster is a mish mash of talent that was not put together with any thought about defense, middle infield depth or any talent in the BP.

Our Washington Nationals are a disaster right now. I put the blame squarely on the Lerners and Kasten. They refuse to spend money and they have blown a chance to make an immediate impact in this town with at least a respectable product on the field every year.

I'm still a huge Nats fan and will continue to watch on TV and attend the games on my 20 gamer. I must however admit, that I'm discouraged beyond believe at the direction that this franchise is going. It resembles the Titanic right now, taking on water and sinking fast.

I ask: What are you prepared to do Ted and Mark Lerner, because your baseball franchise and fan base are floundering?

Posted by: Section505203 | June 1, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Assuming the Nationals end the 2009 season with the worst record in all of MLB (a safe assumption whether it's Acta or someone else at the helm), will they get the 1st pick in the 2010 draft, or does the AL's worst team get that pick, with the Nats picking 2nd?

Posted by: hitch39 | June 1, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

You know what we should do? We should trade our number one draft pick for a manager!

Posted by: Section506 | June 1, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

You know what we should do? Posted by: Section506 | June

What you should do is drive on up 95 and teat yourself to a really exciting young up and coming team. We had a fantastic time at the Yaad Saturday night. Weiters first major league hit. Another Luke HR, and a 10K outing from Guthrie. This loss actually felt like a win. This team is playin great ball. And they aren't completely dysfunctional like some other local misfit.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 1, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

The Nats let Lenny Harris go and the hitting improved. The Caps fired their coach and Bruce Boudreau took them to the playoffs. Firing Acta will not make us a playoff team, but it can not get any worse then this.

I like Acta, but time for him to move on. Let him learn from this and be a success someplace else.

Posted by: Batboy05 | June 1, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Firing Manny Acta will not change the Nats fortunes, but it may put the team on a better-than-.250WP track. Why is that important? They have to make their club look attractive to free agents as well as players coming in from trades.

Get an attitude change in place, and see where that takes the club.

On another note: please tether St. Claire to Manny when walking the plank. Need an Eckstein for pitching.

Posted by: joemktg2 | June 1, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe ACTA will survive the day as the Nats manager. However, you have to remember, there is no accountability on this team. The owners, including Kasten, are paralyzed. Bowden would still be the GM if it had not been for the skimming scandal in the DR. This franchise is rotten from top to bottom.

Posted by: bupbups | June 1, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"OK, will someone PLEASE tell me what firing acta will do?" But, what will retaining him do?? The team has gotten progressively worse under his reign. Everything else has changed -- infielders, outfielders, pitchers, coaches, stadiums...Yet it just keeps getting worse. There's no way he's going to be re-upped at the end of this season. Why not find out now how much of this was Acta's fault? You need that answer when you hire your next manager.

Posted by: mvm2 | June 1, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

If the Nats were to 86 Acta, it would invigorate the club, it would invigorate the fan base. It just needs to be done. Management cannot look to be OK with losiing ugly night after night.

And all the scapegoating of Bowden and Stan and the Lerners when it comes to the actual level of play on the field is ridiculous. Acta is responsible when veteran players do not make plays (don't cover a bag, don't throw to the cut off man, can't get a bunt down, botch the double play, etc.) Acta is responsible for placing players into roles. He is responsible for in-game moves. This club has been good enough to win many of its games, but they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory again and again. Acta has just not gotten it done.

Rizzo needs to be true to his word: evaluate the club's performance under this manager by any standard you want and Acta just does not justify keeping his job.

Posted by: dfh21 | June 1, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Maybe some1 should be evaluating Rizzo's evaluating prowess?

Posted by: dovelevine | June 1, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm an ex-patriated Washingtonian (to the armpit of the US - NJ) and got to watch most of the most recent 6 games. Putrid. I know Acta is not the one misplaying fly balls (dunn, willingham, maxwell) or missing easy pop ups (bard), but at some point, the players need a new voice. Plus, someone is theoretically in charge of preparing the players for these games. It is obviously not working.

When F Robby's old school ways were being tuned out, they needed a "player's coach" and for a while, Acta's style worked. No more. I never like to see a guy lose his job, but at this point, it's time for him to go. The pendulum has swung back to the need for an ass kicker, and I am sure that finding one will not be difficult. This team is on the precipice of historical losing, flirting with the 1962 Mets, and with a dwindling fan base filling a brand new stadium, something needs to be done. As they say, you can't fire the players (though they've done some of that too) so bye bye Manny.

Posted by: terrapin31590us | June 1, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes it hurts how irrational this place is.

There are only two rational arguments for pinning the blame on Acta:

1) You believe another manager can "pull the levers" better during the game. That person will more accurately choose the match-up of pitcher and pinch hitter that will get the one extra hit that allows the team to win.

2) You believe that scapegoating someone will allow the players to have the cognitive reboot needed to take a fresh start and win again.

If you want, we can go through all the other crackpot theories, including the obsession with infield practice (which very quickly and quietly morphed into "how much infield practice" with nary a nod to the fact that obsession #1 for the last month has been a moot point all along), but it comes down to those two as the only logical rationale.

Not that logic has any bearing on the nonsense going on in this forum.

Posted by: Section506 | June 1, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"we are an anguished angry bunch"

Zendo: All 300 of us? This is Thermopylae, man. 13,000 in the ball park, a couple of hundred who post here every now and then.

That's DC baseball. Meanwhile, the Lerners have "learned" how to make a pot of money doing essentially nothing. The O's fans up the road have been waiting for their team to improve for how long? Twelve, 13 years?

Somebody said building a baseball team takes time, but the time lines we're looking at are ridiculous.

Posted by: JohnRDC | June 1, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

1. What a hoot that Mike Rizzo is, I guess he didn't catch John Lannens reaction after Acta's protege #2 Anderson Hernandez couldn't pull off that DP. A DP that would have essentially ended the inning and might have afforded the Nats extra innings.

2. Chico Harlen you are a reporter, the job of a reporter is to ask annoying questions, gather the uselsss facts that a reluctant participant is willing to divulge, spin it in your own words for editing and then to press.

3. Manny Acta deserves no special treatment, he is a laundry list of excuses, and who really cares what he has to say anymore. Rizzo is a tool, he is the consumate iterim cog in a dysfunctional wheel.

4. Apparently since StanK was much more aggressive with dissing Svurluga when Barry rightfully went after StanK about his best kept secret "season ticket sale numbers", Chico has been playing it right down the middle with the current crop of excuses & lies. BTW has StanK taken up residence in the now vacant Dick Cheny bunker?

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 1, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

So many of you want someone to blame for losses and unfortunately for a young team like the Nats I think losing is part of the learning experience.

Slowly they seem to have made some good and painful decisions with regards to Daniel Cabrera, Cintron and Lastings Milledge as well as all the changes to the bullpen.

I don't blame Manny Acta for these losses as much as I blame the GM for the personnel that Manny received.

A nice winning streak will clear up all the negativity and get things back on the right track.

Posted by: dmacman88 | June 1, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

TippyCanoe, it was dumb the first time you posted it, no reason to relive it.

Posted by: Section506 | June 1, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I know, JohnRDC, I know.....ya know I got to thinking about the word "bunch" and the first thing that cam eto mind was bananas. Which as we all realize has metaphorical applications to us-as well as the fact that the biggest "bunch" I've ever seen is less than a dozen....I beginning to think that being a Nats fan is like an incurable sisease. Not everyone gets infected, but those of us who do-well, it seems like the current bunch in charge is trying to kill us off quicker rather than later. But for those of us who refuse to die, it looks to be a loooong, lingering , painful demise. And then up pops spring....2012! Go Nats

Posted by: zendo | June 1, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

13-36. I can't believe the clown makes it through the day.

Posted by: Brue | June 1, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Section 506 its my opin and since I'm a paying customer in NatsTown I'll relive it, if you don't want to please take a number over near the "kool-aid" stand, I hear StanK is handing out freebies this week.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 1, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

506, I believe it is likely that another manager will react in some way, in ANY way at all, after an umpiring crew makes a game-changing bad call--three times. I believe another manager will likely not keep telling the press night after night that there's no real cause for concern, and that there's nothing we can do.

I don't expect anybody else to come in and instantly make the team start winning games. I do, however, expect somebody else to at least appear to care whether the team wins or loses. The culture of losing that has set into the Nationals at this point is insidious and deeply harmful.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | June 1, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

To answer the simple question posted below. Here are some of my thoughts.

Why fire Manny Acta? - the simplest reason, he is not getting the job done. 13-36 is awful. And it's not a fluke, Manny's Nats are 36-78 since the all star break. In 2+ years, Manny is 145-227 (.390). That's not good enough if you ask me.

Will it change anything? I cannot guarantee anything. But I'm pretty sure right now, that doing nothing will mean lots more losses. Since opening day of 2008, Manny's teams have shown consistency in committing mental mistakes - running the bases, fielding, positioning, etc. That has to change - and Manny has shown me that he is unable to affect that.

Manny's option expires at the end of the season. I cannot believe that the Nats will play well enough for his 2010 Option to be picked up by the Nats. So, for continuity's sake - the Nats should identify a long term manager candidate and get him in the job so that the Nats are not starting from scratch next Spring.

Pitch forks aside, that is what I think firing Manny will accomplish.

Can anyone tell me what keeping Manny will accomplish?
-----------------------------
OK, will someone PLEASE tell me what firing acta will do?

Posted by: Section406

Posted by: comish4lif | June 1, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

506,

With all due repect, your posts over the last few weeks have become more and more arrogant and at times nasty. I never remember you being this way.

This constant losing is obviously taking it's toll on you.

You were usually a voice a reason.

Saying something was "dumb the first time you posted it."

Come on man, you're better than that.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 1, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

They're Sh*tty!

Posted by: longterm | June 1, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

hey gang lets remember-we all love the Nats, we wanna see the team get better,we are all aghast at what is going on....and vitriol(except towards our team) well, keep it clean, keep it clean. Enough on the field to keep us occupied, huh? See you all tomorrow-or late late late-time yo go to work at 911 for some mood brightening! Go Nats.....

Posted by: zendo | June 1, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The Nats need to push back the tide of apathy around this club. Acta is a big part of it all. They need a fresh perspective, someone without the baggage of constant multi-season losing in train wreck fashion. Someone who commands the attention and respect of management, the players and the fans. Acta just does not have it.

Posted by: dfh21 | June 1, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Noted, 505.

On this last road trip the Nationals had 3 errors over 6 games, but all 3 were in the same game. They have played 5 of their last 6 games error free.

Does that mean anything?

Maybe: with the pitching improvement we've seen ("bad" is an improvement), the defenders are having shorter innings in the field and experiencing less of the fatigue associated with having more, longer at bats.

Maybe not: between hometown scoring (and hometown calls, hmph) and the limited range of certain fielders (like Dunn in right), less errors may be scored despite a similar defensive ineptitude.

Either is plausible at this point. Keep your eye on this homestand to see if the road trip reduction in errors (of a sort) continues or if it is a genuine trend.

Posted by: Section506 | June 1, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

My two cents: Firing Manny may not improve things, but it probably couldn't worsen them. Yes he was dealt a lousy hand, but ultimately he needs to be held responsible for how he's played it.

Posted by: jdsp2000 | June 1, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

why are we still being linked to chad jenkins?

i want grant green and strasburg!!!

Posted by: longterm | June 1, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

506, it's hard to see how the Nats' defense has been "good" recently, just because they have not had errors scored against them.

They often have not gotten their gloves onto balls they should have been able to play. These plays, of course, were not scored errors--but they've been called to our attention by Mssrs. Slowes, Jageler, Carpenter, Dibble, Knight, and Holliday.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | June 1, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I will check back around 5 pm today, if Acta is not gone by then, this franchise has proven it is a loser. Crow can put a smile on this face because he dodged a bullet having the get lost in this mess.

Posted by: Tom8 | June 1, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

What if they fire him at 5:15?

Posted by: JohninMpls | June 1, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"They have played 5 of their last 6 games error free."

According to the official scorer, yes. But mental error-free? Not hardly.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Here's a hilarious rant by Zuckerman of the Times. Blames the players 100% for their problems. What he doesn't realize is that Acta's lost the players, and anything they do on the field is tainted by that fact. You can beat up the players for having 'mental lapses', but you have to know where they originate. Lots of managers don't tolerate that. Ours does. Like I said, the whole thing's an IQ test, and the play on the field is merely the product of a long line of failings leading up to it. Then he has another rant about getting trash heap players, except that it's a couple of months late. What he doesn't understand is that there's very little they can do about the roster, because the trade deadline is a couple of months away, and teams don't deal this time of year because they're not sure what their needs will be on July 31. If you can't fire the roster, then you gotta fire the manager. It's that simple.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/chatter/2009/jun/01/defending-the-defensive-plan/

Posted by: Brue | June 1, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

See the "maybe not" point, shepdave. This is certainly part of the range problem the Nats have.

But fielding is by far the least important part of a baseball game, I think. Take Hernandez's boot on Saturday night that directly cost two runs. The Nats lost 9-6 instead of losing 7-6.

The team was constructed with the turn-of-the-century philosophy that power wins ballgames. Our off-season discussion revolved entirely around acquiring "left-handed power," recall. And it works. I submit to you the Philadelphia Phillies, 2008 World Champions (having indirectly defeated one team from Canada).

I think, however, that you have a more stable perennial contender when you focus on starting pitching, which was the Nat's MO in 2007. That's why the Braves were so good year after year in the 90s and why the Phillies flame or soar based on whether or not their starters can be competent.

Luckily, we haven't yet truly transitioned to that Phillies-like franchise. Dunn was a lark that could be afforded at that price and Willingham, Guzman, and Johnson aren't holding up any prospects.

Posted by: Section506 | June 1, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Addendum: "you have a more stable perennial contender when you focus on starting pitching, which was the Nat's MO in 2007.* "

*with their draft picks. That is now paying early dividends in the 2009 starting rotation. SO MUCH BETTER to watch Martis get shelled and have to rebound than Tim Redding or that one guy who never let anyone steal on him. What was his name again?

Posted by: Section506 | June 1, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Will firing Manny Acta change anything many appear to ask?

The answer: unfortunately yes. But hiring someone like Ng and re-demoting Rizzo to hire the replacement might be better.

It accomplishes what Manny has not, and seems unable to ... it changes the losing attitude of the club. It restarts at 0-0 which is how they have to look at things. They have to take one game at a time.

I just don't believe they are really all that bad. The "corner" they have painted themselves into is LOSING, and an attitude of LOSING, and believing they are predestined to LOSE. That is the "corner" which must be completely and utterly obliterated.

This is not an expansion franchise like Stengel's Mets. There is a lot of talent on this team. There is no reason why they cannot win their share of games. And then some.


Posted by: periculum | June 1, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I have been a Montreal Expos fan since the early 80's and now I call the Nats my team. I have been very patient over the years having to deal with players leaving because of no cap in the sport and then MLB taking over and almost ruining the franchise. I truly believe in what the organization is doing and we are finally starting to see some of the fruits of their labor with these good young arms on the staff and with Strasburg on the way. I even knew that last year we had a bad team from top to bottom, so the losing was not hard to deal with, but this season is the end of my patience. When you lose 11-10 you can blame the pitching and when you lose 3-2 you can blame the hitting, but when you do both, you have to blame the manager. Everyone knows this team is better than the record, so it's time to make a change and give us fans hope and a reason to watch them. I refuse to watch another 3 hour game and give the organization a feeling that I will watch them no matter what. They're wrong. I've been through alot in 30 years as a fan and if they are satisfied with this losing, then that's not the type of team I care to be a part of. I will watch them again when they prove to me that they really care about winning. I'm not the sadist they think I am. If you are a fan and would like to vent some more with me and others like you, you can join me on my internetsports radio network for the premiere of my weekly Nationals show tonight at 5pm, est at primesportsnetwork com. This is not a fan podcast. This is a professional show produced and broadcast by professionals with many years of experience. Give us a try and I hope to see and hear from you soon.

Posted by: gdpsports | June 1, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm STILL waiting for them to fire Bowden.

Posted by: sbiel2 | June 1, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Firing Manny and putting in the bench coach won't help. Riggleman's record under these circumstances is not very inspiring.

Posted by: periculum | June 1, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"When you lose 11-10 you can blame the pitching and when you lose 3-2 you can blame the hitting, but when you do both, you have to blame the manager. Everyone knows this team is better than the record, so it's time to make a change and give us fans hope and a reason to watch them."

___________________________________________________

Clearly its not the manager's competence, the talent ... its the attitude. The Player's claim that isn't Manny's responsibility. They are wrong, it is. He is responsible for motivation and morale and that is directly linked to attitude.

Posted by: periculum | June 1, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

If Harlen really thinks any player and I mean ANY player is gonna call out his manager to him on or off the record, well then he's got a lot to learnm which he obviously does.
Harlen just started. No player is gonna talk to him in honest confidence. But I would bet you my bottom dollar, the players are waiting and hoping for that shoe to fall. Pretty obvious by what they are sayin very loudly on the field with their actions.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 1, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Brue, thanks for the post from Zuckerman at the Times. I don't see how you know that "What he doesn't realize is that Acta's lost the players, and anything they do on the field is tainted by that fact."

We've got guys who historically have been lousy fielders make lousy fielding plays now. What's changed? You say Manny tolerates this, but he can't get rid of all of them. There's a reason Milledge, Cintron and Gonzales were sent down.

I think the more interesting part of the post by Zuckerman is how he called out Dibble for not knowing what he's talking about. The two key sections in the post, to me, are:

"I'm at the ballpark almost every day by 3 p.m. I see what these guys do on a daily basis."

And:
"Look, the Nationals work on defense just as much (if not more) than every major league club."

Dibble isn't there at 3:00, he's doing his XM show, and he clearly doesn't know what's going on at that time. I think Dibble is an entertaining guy with strong opinions, but it seems clear to me that he always back up those opinions with research and facts.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 1, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

506, if I can dispute you a little on your claim that defense is "by far the least important part of a team."

This Nats team reminds me of the '88 Orioles team, with the 0-21 start. That team was basically awful in every category: last in the league in runs scored and allowed, and really bad in the field, especially outfield.

During the offseason, the O's revamped the outfield (they traded Mike Boddicker to the Red Sox for Brady Anderson AND Curt Schilling), and became a great defensive team. They also drafted Gregg Olson #1 and he became their closer the next year.

In '89 they were fifth in runs scored, seventh in runs allowed and first in defense, and went from 54-107 to 87-75 and took the Blue Jays to the last weekend of the season for the divisional title.

Fixing the defense helped the defense and the pitching, so I wouldn't downplay it as this team (hopefully) retools itself to become a competitive team.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 1, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

firing manny doesn't make the team any better. it doesn't reset their record to 0-0.

it would make you feel better because it is what you want. that's about it.

i'm still for retaining manny through the end of the season. at that point we can get some better players.

Posted by: longterm | June 1, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

>"Look, the Nationals work on defense just as much (if not more) than every major league club."

They just don't do it the right way. Or on the road. Hence 13-36.

>We've got guys who historically have been lousy fielders make lousy fielding plays now. What's changed? You say Manny tolerates this, but he can't get rid of all of them. There's a reason Milledge, Cintron and Gonzales were sent down.

Milledge got sent down because he couldn't hit and wouldn't change his approach.
Cintron got sent down because he's washed up, and probably older than his listed 34.
Gonzales got sent down because of his lousy defense which isn't a whole lot better now. He wasn't fielding much better in the minors, and he's back up on the club now despite this. Only up here because of injury. Kind of rules out punishment as a cure.

None of them was sent down by Acta.

Like I said, it's an IQ test. You gotta admit, though, with a build like Zuckerman has, there's no way he could have made it past 12 & under on the field. He's probably 18" from shoulder to shoulder.

Posted by: Brue | June 1, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure that Dibble does his show from the stadium.

Posted by: comish4lif | June 1, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Doveline, his name is spelled "Harlan," not "Harlen."

It's actually easier to spell than "Svrluga."

Posted by: JohninMpls | June 1, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

"He's probably 18" from shoulder to shoulder."

Unlike you, who from everything you spew here appear to be 18" from ear to ear.

Of course, that would be 18" of solid rock.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

baltova:

"We've got guys who historically have been lousy fielders make lousy fielding plays now. What's changed?"

Not really true. Zim and Nick Johnson are clanking it up, and those guys are supposed gold-glove claiber guys. Hernandez is supposed to be better than average, Guzman about average, Flores average or better, and Gonzalez as back-up was supposed to be a very slick fielder (and that kid has half a dozen E's in like 13 games!). They looked at infield D as pretty solid coming into this year. And a Dunn, Milledge (Acta's choice to play CF, not mine) and Kearns/Dukes as at least as capable as a lot of clubs (Dunn being bad, Lastings expected to be less than average but not bad, as he was workign with Grissom every day, and Kearns/Dukes above average). Dunn might be a lot better if he was only playing LF, but they throw him in right and 1B every now and again, which is not helping (2 E's at 1B in 5 games).

But who cares. The gloves don't glove when they need to, the pitchers don't pitch and the catcher's can't call a game a throw anyone out when the chips are down. Maybe these guys would play better for another manager, it is time to find out if that is the case.

Posted by: dfh21 | June 1, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

"Rookie (clueless) owners, rookie GM to be, rookie (I wanna be sedated) manager....Is it any wonder this team is rudderless."

You forgot the most important part: Rookie Fans.

This board is the most depressing collection of fantasy GM wannabes I have ever seen.

The fact that anyone would blame the manager for what's going on doesn't know baseball.

The team loses 11-10, then 3-2. That's baseball. It happens.

The Lerners have had control over the club for only 3 years. Do you honestly think when this team was owned by MLB that the scouting department was allowed to draft players that other teams wanted?

Jim Bowden managed to get himself fired...err...resigned. All I read about is "get 'im outta here". Okay smart guys - propose alternatives! Who manages? Who's the GM? Who's the owners? Who's the team president?

You bozos who decry supporting the team will ultimately COST US THE TEAM! Then where will you be? Then what will you gripe about?

Quit being a bunch of rookie fans and see the forest for the trees. As Jerry Garcia said: 'Help's On The Way'.

Posted by: dand187 | June 1, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Two old school managers who are winning; Jim Leyland(Detroit),Ron Washington(Texas)you can say what you want about the "old school style" of managing a baseball team but it starts from the top look at the Rangers, Nolan Ryan took over and now they are playing winning baseball that's because he and Ron Washington are on the same page about everything concerning that team. Jim Leyland has been winner almost everywhere he's been and his spring training dressing down of a young Barry Bonds while they were both with the Pirates is still a classic.When Kasten fired F.Robby and replaced him with Acta i for one was shocked you're replacing a HOF'er with a guy with no track record to speak of, man that's a recipie for disaster. I've said it ad nauseum the Lerners,Kasten and to a lesser extent Rizzo are playing russian roulette with this fan base, and all the chambers are loaded you're move gentleman.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 1, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

dand187,

You are right on track. The lack of baseball knowledge and history on this site is astounding. This is also right up there with the Mets site with its anger and vitriolic spewings.

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

>"He's probably 18" from shoulder to shoulder."

Unlike you

Absolutely. I can still chuck a ball almost 400 feet on the fly. Can still run it up there in the low-mid-80's from the rubber. What's your point?

It's an IQ test, Bubba, you need to get on the current page of questions.

Posted by: Brue | June 1, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

you're telling me ...
********

I've said it ad nauseum ...
Posted by: dargregmag | June 1, 2009 1:06 PM

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

"Zim and Nick Johnson are clanking it up, and those guys are supposed gold-glove claiber guys. Hernandez is supposed to be better than average, Guzman about average, Flores average or better, and Gonzalez as back-up was supposed to be a very slick fielder (and that kid has half a dozen E's in like 13 games!)."

Excuses, excuses. Nothing but excuses. Here's another one. That grass in right field was supposed to have been mowed.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

The fact that anyone would not blame the manager for what's going on doesn't know baseball.

How's that? I see a team that is unprepared to play and makes a mistake nearly every night. What team are you watching?

Posted by: comish4lif | June 1, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I think that's my cue. I've been away for the past week and don't have the intestinal fortitude to scan through the NJ postings at present. So did I miss anything crucial? Three word summary, anyone? Didja miss me? :-D

---

you're telling me ...
********

I've said it ad nauseum ...
Posted by: dargregmag | June 1, 2009 1:06 PM

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

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 1, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

>That grass in right field was supposed to have been mowed.

Ah yes, a quote from our fearless leader of men, Manny Acta. Right after Herny's (short for Hernia) two run error to lose the game the other day. Makes you wonder how someone so stoopid could be in charge of managing a big league team. I mean, come on - he missed it because the grass wasn't cut right? Who says that? A lew-hew-hewzer

Posted by: Brue | June 1, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

As Jerry Garcia said: 'Help's On The Way'.
Posted by: dand187

Wow a JG sighting here. Nice. But he also said "It costs a lot to win but even more to lose."

Posted by: dovelevine | June 1, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

dand187,

How's that Kool Aid tasting?

I mean, are you kidding me. We were 59-102 last year and we currently sit at 13-36 and you don't think we as fans have a right to be a little upset?

You don't think fans should be upset that a man worth over 3 billion dollars and one of top 100 richest people in this country is running this franchise on the cheap with 50 million dollar payrolls and not signing 1st round picks?

Heck yes, we have right to be upset. And I say you need to wake up and smell the java. This franchise is a punch line right now.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 1, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Firing Manny will not "invigorate the fan base," because 1%) the casual fan doesn't know the difference, and 99%) winning games, and only winning games, will do that (and even that's not a lock).

Look at the double play the Phillies turned in the 9th the other night, where Rollins gets far behind second, glove-flips to Utley, who bare-hands the throw, goes airborne, and throws a rope to Howard, belt-high. They've played together for years, and they are better infielders.

But while dese nats aren't ever going to be that good with this roster, they aren't 13-36 bad, either. I don't know that their obvious lack of focus is something Manny could fix, and therefore his fault, but I think it is.

The odds on the team playing better, this year, if Manny is fired now, are not good, really, but the odds on Manny turning this around seem to be asymptotically approaching zero.


Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 1, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Brue, I gotta admit, you bring a lot of laughs to this thing. Not of it intentional, of course. Keep up the good work, Bubba, and be sure to put some ice on that rocket arm of yours.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 1, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Symptoms, really, not excuses.

**********
"Zim and Nick Johnson are clanking it up, and those guys are supposed gold-glove claiber guys. Hernandez is supposed to be better than average, Guzman about average, Flores average or better, and Gonzalez as back-up was supposed to be a very slick fielder (and that kid has half a dozen E's in like 13 games!)."

Excuses, excuses. Nothing but excuses. Here's another one. That grass in right field was supposed to have been mowed.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 1:20 PM

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

Save yourself, 1a--run now, while you still can.


**********
I think that's my cue. I've been away for the past week and don't have the intestinal fortitude to scan through the NJ postings at present. So did I miss anything crucial? Three word summary, anyone? Didja miss me? :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 1, 2009 1:25 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 1, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Best quote in a while, though, from Bard: "This isn't the Try Good League, it's the "Play Good League."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 1, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

OK, the actual quote was (see last post)
"This is a freakin' do-good league, it's not a try-good league, and I know that we're freakin trying our a--es off. It doesn't matter; you've got to play better."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 1, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

baltova, good argument for defense. When I get some time I'm going to look into it more, since it is very near and dear to our hearts these days, but I'm happy to amend my statement to say defense is rarely the path to the championship, since we've found at least one case where it was. Usually, pitching or batting is the route, though. More often batting than pitching.

Posted by: Section506 | June 1, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Hey all go rent the flick Major League. You'll feel a whole lot better.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 1, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who has not read the Zuckerman post at the Times really should. It's not a rant, it's a well-reasoned response to the "they need to take infield!" charge. It's pretty good, and it clears up a lot about what the Nats do/do not do before games. At least now people should be able to base their opinions on a set of facts.

Posted by: Section220 | June 1, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

The whole: "Zim and Nick Johnson are clanking it up, and those guys are supposed gold-glove claiber guys. Hernandez is supposed to be better than average, Guzman about average, Flores average or better, and Gonzalez as back-up was supposed to be a very slick fielder (and that kid has half a dozen E's in like 13 games!)." was me.

I am not making excuses for the bad D, just stating that the club was not designed as an offense first, defense be dmaned amalgam as others had stated above. Acta has not gotten the best out of this club.

He can't get the club to play MLB caliber ball. Last year it was terrible baserunning and the inability to move runners over, this year it is basic fielding and pitch selection. The symptoms change, the players have changed, Acta is a constant. He needs to be removed.

Posted by: dfh21 | June 1, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I believe the best reasons to dismiss Acta at this time are:

1) He's done nothing to deserve the continued abuse (set him free)

2) He's not been successful in helping this team win

3) The team is playing worse than its talent level.

A common defense of Acta is that the talent level is not there. It's not Acta's fault. The players have to play better on the field. The pitchers have to throw strikes.

However, the talent level - while not playoff caliber - is not as bad as its record either. True we probably only have 1 player who is in the top-10 for his position (Zimmerman). Dunn and Johnson might make top 15 out of 30. Maybe Flores makes top 15. Relief pitching has gotten better, but the record has gotten worse. Starting pitching is uneven, but there are teams that are worse.

BUT, as limited as the talent is, it is not 10 games worse than Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Arizona, and Seatle. Yet we have played 10 games worse than everyone of those teams.

I'm not a Manny hater, but all those who repeatedly claim that firing the Manager is unfair or unhelpful, I think you have to admit that the team is underperforming. It is not unfair to fire the manager in such circumstances. It's not pleasant, but its not unfair.

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 1, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"defense is rarely the path to the championship, since we've found at least one case where it was. Usually, pitching or batting is the route, though"

You can't have good pitching without good defense. And vice versa.

And those 2008 champion Phillies have one of the best defenses in the league. Imagine how much worse their sub-standard pitching would look this year without it.

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

Hey all go rent the flick Major League. You'll feel a whole lot better.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 1, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse
*********************************

I've said this before: Maybe the Nats need to do the same thing the Indians did in the movie. Put a cardboard cutout of Old Man Lerner in the clubhouse, and for each Curly W, they get to peel a piece of clothing off and, oh, never mind...

Posted by: BGinVA | June 1, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

OK. time for a positive post.

I was really worried that the Nats would overuse some of their kid pitchers by bringing them up early, throwing them every 5th day, and racking up huge inning totals at too young of an age. fortunately, at the rate these pitchers are being racked, that will not be a problem.

Jordan Zimmermann (of the 6+ ERA) - 46 innings over 8 starts = 5.75 innings per start. That should let him throw close to 20 more times and come in with 161 innnings, which is about the max you'd want him to throw. That'll put him in lne for his last start around 9/5, maybe later if they give him an extra day or so aroudnthe all star break. And I was worried they'd need to shut him down in mid-August. If he gets knocked out early more often, then he can last the whole season without wearing out. Silly me!

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 1, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Section505203 -
Without being snarky, the problem is the lack of patience, and the lack of baseball knowledge the fans in DC have toward the game. Would I prefer wins? Sure! But we're not ready yet.

Heck, people don't even cheer when one of our pitchers has 2 strikes on a batter. The fans here don't know baseball - and that's okay! 33 years is a long time without the game here. And I lamented every one of those years.

The reason Ted Lerner has billions is because he doesn't cross pollinate businesses. Remember, the guy only paid $450 million for the team 3 years ago, that's all. Then pumped $50 million into a stadium he doesn't even OWN. To say the Lerner's aren't spending money is just out and out false. Do you honestly think they can spend like the Yankees? Support the TEAM! THEN they can spend.

I'll say this again - you MUST understand what the scumbag owner who now owns the Miami Marlins did to this franchise! And then, how MLB perpetuated this for an additional 3 years while they planned to eliminate this club. The below is from a wiki article on the Expos:

"On December 20, 2001, the Boston Red Sox were sold to a partnership led by John W. Henry, the owner of the Florida Marlins. The purchase was approved by the MLB owners in January. In order to clear the way for Henry's group to formally take control of the Red Sox, Henry sold the Marlins to Loria, in a deal pre-approved by MLB on February 1, 2002. The Major League Baseball owners voted 30–0 to form a Delaware partnership, Expos Baseball, LP, to buy the Expos for US$120 million from Loria, an apparent first step to eliminate the franchise. After both deals closed, Loria moved the entire Expos management and coaching staff, including manager Jeff Torborg, to Miami — leaving the Expos without personnel, scouting reports, and office equipment, including the team's computers."

You pontificate from your anonymous lectern and call me out for drinking the Kool-Aid? Well, it tastes pretty good to me. We have a team, we have a stadium, we are building for the future and in the early going, we're gonna take our lumps. The Mets took their lumps too from 1962 on.

Go Nats!

Posted by: dand187 | June 1, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

This appeared in the Washington Times, therefore I cannot believe a word of it. Instead, I'm certain that the Nationals take fewer grounders every day than Rob Dibble has tattoos.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/chatter/2009/jun/01/defending-the-defensive-plan/

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

"Without being snarky, the problem is the lack of patience, and the lack of baseball knowledge the fans in DC have toward the game. Would I prefer wins? Sure! But we're not ready yet."

Again, its not the lack of wins, its the incessant almost preordained losses!!!! Way, way too many. Its not good for the players, the team, the franchise, and definitely not the fans. It has to stop.

Posted by: periculum | June 1, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

506 - I'll be another to say that defense is, if anything, undervalued. That may be due to its difficulty to measure objectively until Baseball Information Systems started reviewing each hit ball and producing zone ratings.

The key to the 2004 Red Sox was the decision to make a huge defensive upgrade down the stretch, picking up Mientk... and Orlando Cabrera and ditching Nomar. That was a team that used a lot of defensive substitution, bringing in Pokey Reese and Mientk... for Bellhohn and Millaah pretty regularly in September and October.

Of course, you look at the Rays last year and many view their defensive upgrades (Bartlett and Iwamura in the middle especially) as the key to the huge improvement in runs allowed. The same pitchers had career best ERAs once they got rid of the petrified wood in the infield and the manos de piedra that was Delmon Young. Add in the undoing of the Tigers by their pitcher errors in the World Series in '06, and you can make a case that defense was enormous in deciding who made the World Series and who won for the last half decade.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 1, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I'll say this again - you MUST understand what the scumbag owner who now owns the Miami Marlins did to this franchise! And then, how MLB perpetuated this for an additional 3 years while they planned to eliminate this club. The below is from a wiki article on the Expos:

______________________________________________

One of Robinson's teams from that period actually spent a good bit of time in FIRST PLACE!!!! That situation was bad, but this ONE IS WORST. There should be improvement NOT back sliding!

Posted by: periculum | June 1, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Now add this to the pile .....for the last 3 hours on ESPN 980, Liz Drabek has been reporting that the Nationals open a 3 game series IN San Fran on Tuesday part of 9 game road trip. Can not even get local radio to report the right schedule.

Posted by: CBinDC | June 1, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Mark Zuckerman is taking the Rizzo bait. Just read that "fish wrap" piece he wrote, "bad players can't make up for bad defense or something to that affect" blah, blah, blah. Hey Mark one thing you forgot to say, "they are all professional ballplayers who need to stop hiding behind excuses"!

To all those who seem to denigrate Rob Dibble let me put it this way, Dibble made it to "The Show", there are lots and lots of people who wish they did and became writers, trainers, p by p broadcasters. I usually reserve the right to judge a person based on their credibility and personal experiences. I put a ton of credibility on what Dibble has to say if for no other reason because he was a player. Mark Zuckerman is a writer who just happens to currently cover the baseball beat for the WASTIMES. In a year or two Zuckerman may be covering College Football, that certainly won't make him a grid-iron expert, so why should I afford him the same respect that I would a guy who actually put on a "big league uniform". Zuckerman, Chico, Shiner, Loverro, and even Boz are writers. What they see and what they perceive does not make them experts in any way. They never played the "game" at the level that Dibble, Knight, Joe Morgan, Rick Sutcliffe, Don Sutton, Ron Darling, Kieth Hernandez, Mike Shannon, David Cone, Paul O'Niel, Jim Palmer, Buck Martinez did. All of the afore mentioned are on-air baseball analyst and are not employed by various teams because they have journalism degrees. If you listen closely to all of them they know what they are talking about.

It would be like giving Geraldo Rivera credit for his opinion on how can we win the war because he visited Camp Liberty three months ago instead of listening to Gen Petraus for some idea of the real answer.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 1, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

"One of Robinson's teams from that period actually spent a good bit of time in FIRST PLACE!!!! That situation was bad, but this ONE IS WORST. There should be improvement NOT back sliding!"

That Robinson team went 31-50 as it wormed its way from first place to the cellar. Nineteen games under .500 in just 81 games. Not all that far off from 23 games under in 49 games, actually. Your backsliding started in July 2005, and the first year and a half of it was presided over by one F. Robinson, HOF (but not for managing.)

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Now wait a minute, we're drifting from my position. I said defense wasn't as important, not that it didn't matter.

Take the Rays last year, for example, better defensively in every way than the Phillies. Swept in the World Series by a team that was below average defensively.

If you look at all the World Series winners, their defenses are almost always around average. Send me a good link for zone ratings over the last couple years and I'll bet we see a similar trend.

Posted by: Section506 | June 1, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

The two following sentences in unrelated blog posts pose a good question and then answer it satisfactorily:

'In a year or two Zuckerman may be covering College Football, that certainly won't make him a grid-iron expert, so why should I afford him the same respect that I would a guy who actually put on a "big league uniform"'

'Your backsliding started in July 2005, and the first year and a half of it was presided over by one F. Robinson, HOF (but not for managing.)'

The intricacies of this game are what make it astounding, I think.

Posted by: Section506 | June 1, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

"I put a ton of credibility on what Dibble has to say if for no other reason because he was a player. Mark Zuckerman is a writer who just happens to currently cover the baseball beat for the WASTIMES."

I don't think you can say that Zuckerman needs to have made it to "The Show" to be able to watch the Nats practice every day and accurately describe the drills they go through. That would be like saying I couldn't walk outside and tell you it's raining because I'm not a meteorologist.

In short, if you're not going to believe Zuckerman it's better to not believe him because he writes for the Moonie paper than to not believe him because he never made it to "The Show." Or if you choose to believe Dibble, choose to believe him because he has sense enough to work for the devil Angelos and not for the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, not because he made it to "The Show." Okay?

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Chico, I understand this a blog, but you are still a WaPo Reporter. Unless you had something substantial to throw the bloggers the read meat of possibly Manny not being the Manager come Tuesday, then you should stick to Journalism 101 and do the job of a reporter. Or, you could just move to the Enquirer.

Posted by: tomfoc31 | June 1, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

During the first part of that 2005 season, the team won an inordinate amount of one-run games. I remember a Phillies fan calling into a radio show warning that this kind of luck usually finds a way of evening out. He was called sour.

It evened out.

Which makes me wonder - how many one-run games have we lost? Will that even out, too?

-----

That Robinson team went 31-50 as it wormed its way from first place to the cellar. Nineteen games under .500 in just 81 games. Not all that far off from 23 games under in 49 games, actually. Your backsliding started in July 2005, and the first year and a half of it was presided over by one F. Robinson, HOF (but not for managing.)

Posted by: JohninMpls | June 1, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

"Nineteen games under .500 in just 81 games. Not all that far off from 23 games under in 49 games, actually."

How do you figure? One is just bad and one is historically awful. Over a season it's a 19 win difference, which is pretty sizable.

It's sad to say but this loser isn't getting canned today. Which means we're stuck with this complacency for the rest of the year. Can't wait for that Red Sox series.

Posted by: RickFelt | June 1, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

"To say the Lerner's aren't spending money is just out and out false. Do you honestly think they can spend like the Yankees? Support the TEAM! THEN they can spend."
________________________________________________________________

Flat out ridiculous.

First, my 20 game, 4 seat plan every year the Nats have been here, means I support this franchise.

Second, no where have I said they should spend like the Yankees. They are bottom 5 in payroll every year. The Lerner's aren't spending enough money to be competitive, period. That is fact.

They don't go after near enough solid FA's and they didn't sign a 1st round draft pick because he would have cost...wait for it...about $500,000 more that they wanted to spend.

That is running things on the cheap.

This "Plan" is not going to work if they don't spend the money.

Personally, I think you are showing yourself to the novice fan. Organizations that spend money on payroll, draft picks and international signings have a much greater chance of winning than organizations that run things on the cheap.

Stop making excuses for their cheapness.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 1, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

That Robinson team went 31-50 as it wormed its way from first place to the cellar. Nineteen games under .500 in just 81 games. Not all that far off from 23 games under in 49 games, actually. Your backsliding started in July 2005, and the first year and a half of it was presided over by one F. Robinson, HOF (but not for managing.)

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009

As players were traded to pick up younger, long shot potentials as opposed to "prospects".

They have to go 50-63 the rest of the way to avoid losing 100 games. I think this constitutes a dramatic drop down a very sharp precipice.

In other words, its dramatically different nunof1!

Posted by: periculum | June 1, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"Personally, I think you are showing yourself to the novice fan. Organizations that spend money on payroll, draft picks and international signings have a much greater chance of winning than organizations that run things on the cheap.

Stop making excuses for their cheapness."

The amount of money the Lerners are spending, the payroll if you must use that term, has nothing to do with how bad this team is. They are not cheap. They are spending money, just not enough to suit you. Tough beans for you. The amount of money they are spending is not the problem. The problem is what they're spending their money on. Repeat after me: The Lerners are NOT cheap. Okay?

Now if you want to start calling them stupid for spending $10M on Dmitri Young, giving Kearns $17.5M plus an option for $10M more, etc, etc, you might have a point. But cheap they are not. Come on, you're smarter than to keep repeating that baseless old canard over and over again. Or maybe not...

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

If you had to focus on just three positions to upgrade this year, which three would they be? For me it would be 2B, CF, and RF though you could make a case for SS as well.

Both Belliard and Hernandez have some skills, but neither offer the complete package. I think we could get significantly more out of the position both offensively and defensively. In center, when healthy Dukes is adequate, but he really belongs in RF. If we could get a flychaser with a good arm I'd be willing to concede some offense. It's a shame that Bernadina got hurt. He might have saved us 5-10 runs per week if he could have hit well enough to stay in the lineup. Fixing CF might also solve the RF issue by allowing Dukes to play there. I think we need some offensive production from that position and while Dunn justifies himself in LF and even 1B, I actually think RF is his worst position. At least that is where his mistakes seem to be the most glaring. You could argue SS is another area for improvement. Guzman certainly hits weel enough there, but his range really is limited.

What do the rest of you think? Which three positions would you focus on first?

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 1, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"As players were traded to pick up younger, long shot potentials as opposed to "prospects"."

What players were traded for prospects in the second half of 2005, which is when the current downward slide began? I honestly don't recall any. The slide continued and worsened the next year, despite the trade for Sorianio, a decided non-prospect. You're deluding yourself if you think things were dramatically better in 2005-2006 than they are now.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Nonof1, your response cracks me up.

It has nothing to do with what Zuckerman reports as an observer, it has everything to do with the perception of what he thinks is really going on.

Once upon a time I was an ATC, I watched literally thousands of planes take off and land however I never stepped foot in a cockpit. Outside of what I was trained to do I was not a pilot. I was no more qualifed to comment on the pilots ability to fly that jet as the pilot was when it came to commenting on my ability to make sure his/her aircraft was cleared for safely for takeoff or landing.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 1, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

TippyCanoe, you must have been a hell of a bad air traffic controller if you're telling me you couldn't recognize good piloting or bad piloting when you saw it. Maybe that's why you're not an ATC any more?

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

nunof,

Paying that kind of money for Da Meat Hook and 6-4-3 Austin Kearns was stupid. No argument here.

But, I stick by my statment, they are not spending enough money to give themselves a chance to be competitive. They amount of money they spend on payroll, draft picks and international signings is an insult to this fan base.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 1, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

What do the rest of you think? Which three positions would you focus on first?

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 1, 2009 3:11 PM

Great post, natbiscuits. My three positions: closer, CF, SS. I would trade Guzman because he might be one of the few players on our roster to bring something of value in return in a trade, and because I would be willing to sacrifice offense for defense.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 1, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

New post pls.

Posted by: dfh21 | June 1, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

TippyCanoe, I was going to ask the same question nunof1 did, but in a much more respectful manner.

Couldn't you get a sense of a pilot's skills from the way they landed, the way they handled the landing, how they communicated with the tower?

Posted by: baltova1 | June 1, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Natbiscuits,

I would focus on Closer, Set up man and 2nd base.

The BP is putrid and it needs some quality, proven arms.

I like the idea Baltova had of trading Guz. At 13-36, I think you might as well get something for him at the deadline along with NJ.

The new GM, whether it be Rizzo are not, has got to realize the owners are obviously not going to raise the payroll much more than it so, he needs to take a Marlins approach to this and get young talent in the system and fast.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 1, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"They amount of money they spend on payroll, draft picks and international signings is an insult to this fan base."

If they threw more good money after bad in all those areas, you're telling me you'd be less insulted?

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

"I was no more qualifed to comment on the pilots ability to fly that jet as the pilot was when it came to commenting on my ability to make sure his/her aircraft was cleared for safely for takeoff or landing."

Wait... hold everything... you mean there are good pilots and BAD pilots?!?! I'm never f'ing flying again.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | June 1, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

>All I read about is "get 'im outta here". Okay smart guys - propose alternatives!

More comedy:

Who manages? A six-four adolescent with an IQ below 100 who is incapable of accepting responsibility and thinks it's immature to show emotion or deviate in any way from sabermetrics.

Who's the GM? A #2 man, a head scout who will work without a title for an indeterminate amount of time in order to polish his mediocre resume.

Who's the owners? The cheapest multi-billionaire you can find.

Who's the team president? A five-foot-nothing, screeching, lisping self-anointed baseball strategist/lawyer whose family was in the restaurant/hotel business.

Who's the fans? Anybody smart enough not to pay for a subterranean baseball team. Why do you think the TV ratings went up? Because nobody's going to the park.

Posted by: Brue | June 1, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I'd also be willing to trade Dukes, in addition to NJ and Guzman. I know it further strips away our offense and Dukes has been showing signs of being a strong hitter. But he's also been on the DL at least four times in the last two years, and he still has lots of off-the-field issues that make you think of him as a walking time bomb.

The hope is we'd be able to get more than one person for each of these guys, maybe not stars, but solid players who could fill the many holes on our roster. The Nats lineup would be pretty weak, but hopefully better pitching and defense would balance that out for the rest of the year. Then, the challenge would be on Kasten and the Lerners to spend some money on top talent (a RF'er, quality starting pitcher, middle infielder) to make this fully competitive in '10.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 1, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the advice and pull quote, sec. 3. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 1, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

That 2005 TEAM WENT 81-81 and didn't have the talent that this team has and the reason why it went from first to worst was because MLB owned the team and F.Robby got no help(trades,minor league call ups) and the team had no cash.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 1, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

If they threw more good money after bad in all those areas, you're telling me you'd be less insulted?

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 3:35 PM
_____________________________________________________________

It would absolutely be less insulted. At least it wouldn't be a cheapness thing. In baseball, owners that are willing to spend money are much more likely to succeed. In the NFL not so much.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 1, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

OMG! The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

Look, the Nats are bad. We knew they would be bad, like not close to .500. Firing Manny is not gonna change that. Taking 250 ground balls per day per player probably won't change that either. I'm not saying we should resign ourselves to losing. But, how about we focus on things that matter?

For instance, don't you want Rizzo and the FO solely focused on the draft now? Firing Manny would create a huge distraction. And for what? So they can replace him with Riggleman or Knight?!?! Seriously, people. That would be like changing the curtains cuz you don't like looking at your overgrown, weed-infested lawn.

Posted by: hacmanindc | June 1, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

You're deluding yourself if you think things were dramatically better in 2005-2006 than they are now.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009

Except possibly for Soriano I think this team is better? But their record, approach, and attitude is decidedly different?

Posted by: periculum | June 1, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

New post.

Posted by: JohninMpls | June 1, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Great post, hacman.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 1, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Keeping Acta b/c firing him would be a distraction for the draft focus?? That's rich. Rizzo and his staff can walk and chew gum.

The analogy to the curtains and the bad lawn is not exactly spot on either. If Acta is curtians, he's one ugly freaking set of curtains and that crappy lawn outside the window has little to do with the curtains being ugly. Forget the lawn, I don't like looking at the freaking curtains! The curtains gotta go. Managers are more than window dressing anwyay, they have an effect on the success of clubs and of individual players, and often in a big way. Firing Acta has value in and of itself, no matter who they get to replace him. What Acta has been whining to all of us for the last 6 weeks -- his players need to perfrom to stay in this clubhouse. Relief pitchers, slugging big contract 3B's and managers alike need to live up to that rule.

ANYONE who fills in for him will be a plus. Five and 25 in the division, guys. Acta cannot be under managed by anyone.

Posted by: dfh21 | June 1, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I called into Lee Hamilton's XM show yesterday after the game to see what his thoughts might be. This was right after he talked about Cecil Cooper's situation in Houston, and he also mentioned Acta and how he had apparently mentioned that he felt his job was safe. That infuriated me, because any manager - anywhere - with such a poor record should be worried. I mentioned that our bullpen was not to blame these past couple of weeks, nor was Cabrera, but the team still hasn't gotten it together. He replied that we're not going to be good for at least another year, that Kasten probably isn't looking at getting rid of Manny, and that Manny should stay unless he's not a good teacher. My call was right before a hard break, so I didn't get to respond or ask any more questions.

I still think Manny should have been fired today to show the fans that ownership is serious about fixing what's broken (note to Stan - there are still 4 1/2 hours left in the day). Is Manny the problem? Not necessarily, but the whole team is performing terribly, and he needs to own up to the problem and accept responsiblity. Attendance is going to keep going down at this rate. Sucks to be the Lerners right now.

Posted by: BGinVA | June 1, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

BGinVa, Lee Hamilton's opinion means less than most folks, even thos people in here! I plan on being at the park tomorrow night, I hope Acta is not there with me.

Posted by: dfh123 | June 2, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Naw Section505203 - IMHO you're the novice fan. You seem to think that money solves everything, at least that's what you imply. You trot out the 'Lerners are cheap' mantra and back your statements up with nothing. Tampa did okay last year with a low payroll. The Marlins seem to as well. For all the money the Yankees spend, now many championships do THEY have recently? Back up your money spending statements with facts. "Show me the money!"

I want you to be specific now - that's specific. Who could the Nationals have signed in the past two free agent cycles that would have made a significant difference? I count possibly two: Aaron Rowand and Orlando Hudson.

Oh, and the recent signings of Zimmerman, Dunn, Willingham, Beimel and Olsen doesn't count either? No money there?

Oh I know - perhaps you believe that if they drop $35 million on Strasburg the skies will open, Guzman will find his range again, AHernandez will start playing to his potential, a new first baseman will appear magically and the next Joe DiMaggio will take the bus in from Syracuse...

Posted by: dand187 | June 2, 2009 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Dude,

You don't get it, our payroll is one of the lowest in the league and our record is the worst for the last 3 years. Wake up.

The Red Sox, Phillies, White Sox, Cardinals all have payrolls in the top half of the league and what do they have in common? Or I think you can figure it out.

As for the Yankees. You can harp on them not winning a championship since 2000 but, up until last year they were in the playoffs what, like 15 years in a row.

The Marlins and Rays show it can be done on the cheap but, the percentages are way against them.

Yeah your right, payroll has nothing to do with it. Whatever.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 2, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

OK, I'll ask again. Who EXACTLY should they spend this money on? Or should they just give everyone a raise? Whatever yourself.

Posted by: dand187 | June 2, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

That's always the answer from someone who is losing the cheap payroll argument.

"Who EXACTLY should they spend this money on?"

OK. I'll tell you. O. Hudson, would be nice at second. D. Lowe in the rotation and K. Rod as a closer with a take your pick of a number of solid relivers we could have signed as the set up guy. All were available this past offseason.

4 guys in addition to A. Dunn.

Now, I know your next lame statement will be "just because we want them doesn't mean they would want us."

True. But, you have to offer more than they are. You can't just match or go slightly over to get them. These first few years the Lerner's needed to make a statement that they were serious and over spend to get solid players in here.

If they signed these 4 guys and added about 50 milliion in salary their payroll would be about 100 million, good for 10th in the league. I don't that is to much to ask for a top 10 market like Washington is it?

Instead the payroll is like we are KC. Ridiculous and insulting.

"The Plan" is code for "on the cheap."


Posted by: Section505203 | June 2, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

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