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Lannan and Links

Before I get to the links, let me drop a comment about John Lannan, who probably deserved more attention in my game story. With Lannan, results will always speak louder than radar guns. He doesn't have an ace's typical stuff -- no dominant fastball, etc. -- but he makes up for that with consistency. For all the things that have gone wrong with the Nats this year, let's take a moment to acknowledge that Lannan, if anything, has proven that 2008's promising rookie season was no mirage. This year, he's even better.

"It's just improvement from last year," Lannan said. "Last year I would have a quality start and then make two in a row and then I would fall off. I'm finally finding some consistency, which is great."

Consider:

* Right now, 25 qualifying NL pitchers have ERAs under 4.00. Lannan (3.45) ranks 16th in that group, and he's one of just two in that group with under 50 Ks. (St. Louis's Joel Pineiro is the other.)

* Lannan has made five starts in June. In each of those, he's gone at least six innings. In three of those, he's pitched into the eighth. His June ERA: 2.19.

* Lannan's start on June 6 snapped a three-game losing streak. His start on June 11 snapped a three-game losing streak. His start on June 17 snapped, um, a four-game losing streak. His start yesterday prevented a series sweep against the O's.

* Lannan now has 10 quality starts this year. The only NL pitchers with more? Dan Haren (14), Josh Johnson (14), Chad Billingsley (13), Tim Lincecum (12), and then six who have 11: Aaron Cook, Zach Duke, Ted Lilly, Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, and Johan Santana.

Anyway, here's some more reading material...

Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly rehashes the O's blunders.

Tracee Hamilton, the former and beloved NJ blogmother, commences her new job (as a Post columnist) with a piece on Manny Acta, whose demeanor has zero resemblance to Lou Piniella's.

Or does it? Quoth Lou: "What do I need to yell at anybody for? What is it that yelling at people is going to [ensure] you're going to get a better performance?"

Two members of the Pittsburgh media, Bob Smizik and John Perrotto, have separate takes on the proposed Milledge-for-Morgan trade.

The Nats' Danny Espinosa (Class A Potomac) will be playing for the US side in the Futures Games. (Shairon Martis, by the way, played in the Futures Game in '08.)

Acting GM Mike Rizzo mentioned that yesterday's deal -- which sent Ryan Langerhans to Seattle for Mike Morse -- was actually a "favor" to Langerhans. The Mariners, evidently, have plans to promote the outfielder to the big leagues, perhaps by Tuesday. So long as he remained with the Nats, Langerhans was stuck in the minors. But one amusing note in the backstory behind this trade: Last Wednesday, Mariners' GM Jack Zduriencik hosted an online chat with fans. Which fielded the following, improbably exchange:

Booxa: We need more LH bats. Have you looked at Ryan Langerhans, currently in the Nats' organization?

Jack_Zduriencik: Good suggestion.

By Chico Harlan  |  June 29, 2009; 8:52 AM ET
 
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Next: Draft Pick Signings, And The Nats' Lineup

Comments

Someone should ask Ryan how he came up with the anonymous handle, "Booxa".

Posted by: Ted_Striker | June 29, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Tracee, why have you forsaken us?

Carrying forward comments re. another interesting reading:

Also, speaking of ex-Nats players like Lopez, the OP has an item about Luis Ayala today. Seems that before the Twins DFA-ed him he complained to the skip that he wasn't getting enough late-inning chances, which would have enabled him to get a better contract for next year. The piece also notes that he blew leads in his first two seventh-inning chances. There were a couple of choice Gardenhire quotes in the item. I liked this one: "When you walk into my office and tell me you don't like your role -- and he talked about his contract for next year -- you lose me right there," Gardenhire said. "I don't deal with that. We're talking about winning now." Way to go, Luis.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 29, 2009 8:36 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 29, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Great piece, Tracee (if you are still here). I loved the opening sentence. Hemingway would be proud.

Posted by: lowcountry | June 29, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Hey, at least there's finally a columnist besides Boswell to write about baseball.

Posted by: Cosmo06 | June 29, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Everyone should read the Pittsburgh pieces on Milledge - especially the blogs below. It will put a smile on everyone's face (especially JayBee).

Hope springs eternal. I had no idea that Milledge was on a rehab assignment in Syracuse.

Posted by: lowcountry | June 29, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Not sure if everybody is an insider at ESPN, so here are the nationals nuggets on Olney's blog this morning.

He says the Nationals play their best baseball when on the verge of being swept.
Also, he says Willie Harris is the most patient hitter at the plate.
Check the copy-paste below:

Beaten, but un-swept

The Washington Nationals seem to step it up when they're on the verge of being swept, as Harry Dang of ESPN Research notes. In games facing a sweep, they step up play:

Hard to Kill
Facing sweep
W-L: 11-7
Runs/Gm: 5.7
ERA: 4.47
Saves: 6
Blown saves: 2

Other Games
W-L: 11-44
Runs/Gm: 3.9
ERA: 5.52
Saves: 5
Blown Saves: 15

Willie Harris saw 31 pitches Sunday, an average of 6.2 pitches per AB. That is higher than Derek Jeter, Gary Matthews, Joe Mauer, Nolan Reimold, and Hanley Ramirez.

Posted by: wrw0601 | June 29, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Mike Rizzo note-to-self

Do a "favor" for Austin Kearns.

Posted by: nattydread1 | June 29, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

also Rosenthal on Fox says the RedSox are seriously considering acquiring Johnson if Lowell's hip requires surgery. I still stand by we try and trade Johnson and Dukes to the Redsox for a major league reliever and an assortment of pitching & hitting prospects.

Posted by: wrw0601 | June 29, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Wait, for serious? Somebody is considering taking Lastings off our hands? How is that possible? That guy defines amateurism.

Posted by: rucks35 | June 29, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Another interesting follow-up note in the chat with the GM of the Mariners as well. In addition to the Langerhans suggestion (hilarious), there was also this passage below, basically indicating a lack of room for Morse at the major league level in the Mariner organization. Put together, it really captures the motivation for the trade from their perspective. Hopefully we got Morse on the upswing.

adbrenner: Can you speak specifically to what is holding back Mike Morse from progressing to the Major league level?

Jack_Zduriencik: We've been very pleased with Michael and what he's done in Triple-A. Like every player, he needs a break and opportunity. We're monitoring everything he's doing, as well as some of the other players in Triple-A. We think Michael is a big league player and as he keeps producing he'll get the opportunity when the time arises.

Posted by: faNATic | June 29, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

What? No "credit where it's due" comment for the Perrotto piece? Oh well. What's the sound of one poster tooting his own horn? Something like "wahh wahh" I'd imagine.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | June 29, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I read the piece on Manny in the Post today. I am not a Manny basher. You could say when it comes to Manny I am more indifferent than anything. While I have not argued for his dismissal I certainly do not understand what people find so appealing about his managerial ability. I really think he is a mediocre manager at best. One has only to look at last Friday's game against the Orioles and specifically the play where Dukes was supposedly thrown out at third. Dukes was clearly safe. Acta should have tried to have the call reversed. It would have left us with one out with men on first and third , instead of two out with a man on first. Acta displayed his defeatist, catatonic style on that play by stoically remaining in the dugout. He probably wasn't even watching. His actions or lack of action sends a message to his players. The message - there is no point fighting for your team. We are losers.

This season is lost so I could care less whether Acta stays or not. I know he will not help us win any games. What I do not like to see are articles promoting Manny's gifted managerial style. The Post would be doing fans a favor by just ignoring him.

Posted by: mjames0 | June 29, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

So this guy Morse comes over here with about as much chance playing at the major league level as Langershlang had. As long as Austin Kearns is around, nobody at the AAA level is going anywhere this year.

BTW the Mariners ran a close second all last year to the Nats in terms of the "worst record in the world". This year (a mere 12 months later) the Seattle Mariners are, I think 3 games over .500. hmmm, how does that happen!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 29, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Tippy,

How does it happen? I know you know the answer but, let me say it again for the Kool Aid drinkers

It's called spending money on the ML roster. Something the Lerner's refuse to do. They hide behind the so called "Plan."

You can quickly improve your team AND have a "Plan" to build up the minor league system. But, the trick bag in that, at least for the Lerner's is, you have to spend some money.

Unless this family sees the light the fans of this team are screwed.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 29, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Well just for the record, the Mariners did not spend more money on their payroll since last year. Their big offseason acquisition was Russell Branyon. They purged payroll in JJ Putz, and their most expensive player - Beltre -- would be on the trading block if he were healthy.

No, the reason that the Mariners are better this year is better pitching performance and management. Not money.

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 29, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"BTW the Mariners ran a close second all last year to the Nats in terms of the "worst record in the world". This year (a mere 12 months later) the Seattle Mariners are, I think 3 games over .500. hmmm, how does that happen!"

They fired Jim Riggleman, the same guy all you Manny bashers want to install as Nats manager to light a fire under the team. Chew on that one for a while, why don't you?

Posted by: section417 | June 29, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

They also massively under performed last year. We were right near where we should have been. Although we did manage to get Willingham. Awesome!

Posted by: soundbloke | June 29, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Bob Costas had former umpires Steve Palermo, Don Denkinger and Bruce Froemmin on his Studio 42 show on the MLB network last night (probably a repeat from Monday). It was interesting to hear them talk about managers like Billy Martin and Earl Weaver who were very confrontational, versus managers they admired such as Tom Kelly of the Twins. I think that the take-away from the conversation (which I only caught a little bit of) was that reputation goes a long way. Manny should have been out there questioning the Dukes call at third (which the replay clearly showed that the umps blew). He didn't have to swear or get run out of there, and it probably would not have resulted in a reversal of the call, but it would help in the long term build up his reputation with umpires. Zen will only take you so far.

Posted by: twinbrook | June 29, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Four quick bits o business this morning.

1. An extension is needed for Manny Acta. The guy is a combination of Bobby Cox/Joe Torre, minus all those mundane things like wins and rings and stuff but still.

2. An extension for Stan Kasten. A genius who is such a genius that his genius is hidden. But don't let that fool you.

3. An extension for Austin Kearns, next to James Brown, the hardest working dude in show business...er sports.

4. And last but not least, Bring in Nyjer. Doesn't matter that you and everyone else hasn't heard of him. He is the man. At least I think he's a man. But doesn't matter. Kasten's a genius and Acta will coach him up.
We are only one Nyjer Morgan away from the prize.
NYJER NYJER NYJER NYJER.....Lemmie hear ya peeps.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 29, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

natbiscuits,

There is some truth to that...this year but, they have in the years before this year and, as soundbloke pointed out, underperformed last year and had a good number of injuries.

They are in the top 10 in payroll at about 100 million.

However, let's not blur the point that they have opened the checkbook and the Lerner's, not so much.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 29, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

"Acta should have tried to have the call reversed."

Has there EVER been a call reversed because a manager complained (other than replay home runs...)

Posted by: hoopsdcb | June 29, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"Has there EVER been a call reversed because a manager complained (other than replay home runs...)"

I seem to remember Frank getting one reversed in California back in the good old days of '05.

Posted by: twinbrook | June 29, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Frank got a home run call reversed against Atlanta at RFK in '05.

But the question really isn't about arguing to get a call reversed. Establishing a presence with umpires, working them, and letting them know when they got a call wrong goes beyond that. Among other things, it can help you get a questionable call in the future. Witness the missed strike 3 call to Ortiz after Magadan got thrown out of the game and Francona came out to argue last week. It also shows the players you have their backs and support them.

Manny appears not to appreciate this stuff; at least, he thinks it is not important. Apparently he thinks he is still managing in A ball.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 29, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

And I think Frank reversed a HR call that hit the foul pole down the LF line at RFK in 05 or 06, I can't remember which. I believe it was against the Braves?

Posted by: Section505203 | June 29, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Yep, Frank Robinson in '05. It was pretty amazing. Too bad he only had 6 winning teams (and one .500) in the 17 seasons he managed. It's one of my biggest disappointments that he wasn't a better manager, because he was such a good ol' fashioned salty baseball character.

Posted by: Section506 | June 29, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

twinbrook, did the umpires say that for them they were more likely to make better calls for a manager that frequently argued?

Or did they say they were more likely to make good calls for a manager that frequently won and also argued?

Is the causal mechanism the frequency of registering displeasure or the frequency of wins?

Posted by: Section506 | June 29, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Dammit CIL, you beat me to the punch. I guess I owe you a beer.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 29, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

>They fired Jim Riggleman, the same guy all you Manny bashers want to install as Nats manager to light a fire under the team. Chew on that one for a while, why don't you?

More delusion to contribute to the confusion. Now he wants to use Riggleman as the excuse for Manny being here. hoo hoo 22-51 suck on it and like it for awhile. It's getting to the postmortem atomic skull f*** stage, because this baby's over. You wanna argue about Manny? Go right ahead.

Posted by: Brue | June 29, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, 505. How bout you take the $8 and just give it directly to the Lerners instead? More profit for them that way. Apparently they really need it to pay off their debt.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 29, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I would go with what CiL said above. You don't want to go out there and try to bully the Umps. That probably will be counterproductive. However, I think it is important to have your presence felt. What you need to do is earn respect.

They also all denied that they ever did "make up calls" when they got one call wrong for one team. But human nature would lead me to think that it happens, if even on a subconscious level.

Like I said, I only caught part of the show. Too bad they don't put them online. I'd like to see it all.

Posted by: twinbrook | June 29, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Well said, 1A and 506. EVERYTHING is a distraction from the lack of payroll that put Manny in this spot. How did Sweet Lou Piniella do in Tampa? "Lou Piniella became frustrated with what he perceived as an insufficient commitment to winning by the ownership group, and he reached a settlement with the team to release him from the last year of his contract." It took a change of ownership(Stewart Sternberg, spending, bringing in Andrew Friedman and Gerry Hunsicker as co-GM's, and spending to get them to the World Series, where they lost to the Phillies 4-1. Joe Maddon was their manager in 2006, when they had a record of 61-101, worst in the AL. They led the major leagues in leads blown with 94, a stat that should be familiar to Nats fans. The front office stuck with Joe Maddon and he lead them to the Series. And so will Manny Acta lead the Nationals if he gets the players.

Posted by: flynnie2 | June 29, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I am really not sold on this idea that umpires respect people who disagree with them. Everything else umpires do seems to give the benefit of the doubt to veterans and superstars, why would they suddenly become John Stuart Mill's model of the inherent truth-finding function of an ideal democratic debate when it comes to dealing with managers?

Posted by: Section506 | June 29, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Lastings Milledge is much less than Bowden advertised.

The supposed 5 tool player had problems in the field, wasn't that great of a base stealer here and couldn't lay off swinging at off speed pitches out of the strike zone.

Milledge is a younger version of Felipe Lopez, anothe former top prospect with an attitude.

Gardenhire was right. If the guy isn't focusing on trying to win, why have him around?

Hopefully, the club here will learn from their mistakes and not sign 'attitude' guys to extended deals like they did to Lopez and to Dmitri Young.

Posted by: leopard09 | June 29, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

There is no point spending money on payroll until they have spent money on international free agents and draft picks. Money will go a lot further there.

50 million buys you Mark Teixeria for four years none of which we will compete in. It also buys Strasburg, above slot compensatory pick and second round pick with a couple of international free agents thrown in.

So if a miracle had happened and they'd done all that I would have no problem believing that the Lerners had the best interests of the team at heart.

As it is I think they are cheap and rubbish at baseball.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 29, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

leopard, Milledge also lead the team in RBI last year, as Bowden promised he could do.

Of course, that was with 61.

Posted by: Section506 | June 29, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

The Mariners were near the top in payroll last year due in part to some really bad upper-level management (i.e. bad contracts):

Miguel Batsita - $9.5M
Adrian Beltre - $13.4M
Kenji Johjima - $6.3M
Richie Sexson - $15.5M
Carlos Silva - $8.2M
Ichiro Suzuki - $17.1M
Jose Vidro - $8.5M
Jarrod Washburn - $9.8M
Brad Wilkerson - $3M
-------------------------------
Total for these 9 players: $91.3M

I'll gladly take Ichiro for $17.1M (he hits, plays good defense and draws the fans to the park), so take his salary out and these 8 players last year cost the M's $74.2M. If spending that kind of money nets me these types of players, no thanks.

Of those 8 players, 5 are still on the team (Sexson, Wilkerson and Vidro are gone) still costing them $53.4M. So why are they playing better this year than last year? Couple of reasons:

1) better pitching. King Felix is a stud. Washburn is having the best year he's had in a long time (and no, I don't think he's worth the $10.3M he's making this year). Bedard was raking when healthy, their bullpen is much improved (couple of their young relievers seemed to have developed since last year) and they picked up a couple of scrap heaps (either via FA or via throw-ins on trades - Aardsma/Olson) that have to date worked out well for them.

2) their version of the trash-heap pickups have actually worked. Russell Branyan and Mike Sweeney have helped the offense a little (more than Griffey has) and also brought in some veteran experience in the clubhouse (along with Griffey).

Personally, I don't see Washburn or Batista continuing their good starts to the season. And chances are their young relievers will come back down to reality. Soon, they'll be back in the hunt for the worst record in the AL.

Posted by: erocks33 | June 29, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

49 days till Strasburg deadline and 19 wins to pass 62 Mets. Hope springs eternal.

Posted by: natsguy | June 29, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I'd be shocked if anyone made a decent offer for Milledge, but if they do, by all means go for it. A decent offer does not mean forcing us to throw in Stammen or any other pitching prospect.

By the way, does anyone know how to find video of the now infamous "Dukes out at third that Manny should have argued"? Thanks.

Posted by: Section222 | June 29, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

"1) better pitching. King Felix is a stud."

Hernandez was a highly-sought Venezualan 16 year-old prospect, signed by the Mariners in 2002 for a $710,000 bonus.

Kasten said just last week that the Nats aren't going to be going after kids like Hernandez this year, because their money is "too tied up" in the US draft (read, one player, i.e., Strasburg). So while Austin Kearns, Daniel Cabrera, and Dmitri Young are paid millions of dollars for doing nothing, the Nats don't even try to go after kids like Hernandez for a fraction of the money, and who can reap huge dividends down the road, because they don't want to spend the money. Meanwhile, the MLB payroll remains tens of millions of dollars below that of most other big-, or even mid-, market teams.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 29, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I was told on the Nats call in show(after every home game) that the powers that be(MLB) frown on mid season managerial changes that being said Tim Foli should be this franchises choice, he's got their triple A affiliate in second place right on the heels of the Yankees farm team.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 29, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

>The front office stuck with Joe Maddon and he lead them to the Series. And so will Manny Acta lead the Nationals if he gets the players.

Still wondering how anyone can tell. When you reach a sub-.300 winning %, it very rarely has anything to do with the players being that bad. It's just not statistically possible for major leaguers to be slumming at '62 Met levels. To say that this roster is one of the worst in the last 140 years is a pretty big statement. And that's basically what you're saying. You think it's ugly now? They've just started to play for themselves, and the worse it gets, the more selfish the players will become. It's self-preservation, not a character flaw. You have to look out for yourself, because the organization damn sure won't. Just like Manny points out everyone's flaws after the game, never pointing the finger at himself. The only way the team wins any games at all is on pure talent. Ray Knight summed up everyone's batting approach with the observation that nobody has one on this team. They pull pitches they shouldn't, they don't look for a ball in a certain zone, they don't look for certain pitches, they don't look to elevate a ball if they need a fly ball. It's idiotic. What are coaches for if not for that? Just like Manny was killing the pitching staff earlier in the year when he challenged the 3rd and 4th hitters the same way they would a #8, and get burned virtually every time. Could go on all day showing examples of bad managing, but what good does it do if they insist on being this bad and making a profit?

Posted by: Brue | June 29, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Word of the day: Langershlang.

Thanks TippyCanoe.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | June 29, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Gardenhire had a call reversed earlier this season. The umpire originally called the play a foul ball (it hit Mauer in the hand/wrist area), but Gardenhire came out to argue and the ump changed the call to an HBP. Morneau hit the next pitch for a HR.

Posted by: slewis1 | June 29, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I like Morgan for Milledge; Morgan for Milledge and Bergmann, even, works for me. Morgan for Milledge & Stammen, not so much.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 29, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

The only time you'd see a tag play at a base overturned is if another umpire has clear view that shows a dropped ball, a missed tag, or something definitive like that. You will never see a simple judgment call like the Dukes play changed because somebody argues about it.

222, I don't know whether there's video online anywhere or not, but Dukes was clearly safe -- even the B'more broadcasters flatly admitted that.

Posted by: joebleux | June 29, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

tying a couple of threads:
Russell ejected over Morgan bunt attempt
http://tinyurl.com/nm37n8

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 29, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

natsguy

The Nats actually need 21 more wins to get to 43 to ensure that they don't lose 120 games.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 29, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I like the deal too because at this point Milledge does not figure to be useful to us until next year.

I like it a lot more if Morgan is a platoon in left and the Schafer rumour has something to it. But i doubt it. If it seems too good to be true and all that...

Posted by: soundbloke | June 29, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Another reading, from the Boston Globe, an interview with Julian Tavarez:

http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/articles/2009/06/28/a_plug_for_mets_utilityman_cora/?page=2

There's also an item a few pages after that saying that during his stint with the AAA Isotopes Manny Ramirez broke with tradition and didn't spring for a nice meal for the kids on the team. Just Manny being Manny.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 29, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Oops, I mean Manny Ortez. Sorry about that...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 29, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

This series with the Marlins will go a long way in showing if the Nats have improved since April. They need to show they can beat these chumps. I don't have a lot of confidence in tonights game with Olsen, but tomorrow should be better with Zimm throwing. They need to win 2 of these 3 games and then have a good showing at home against the Braves this weekend. I really think this line up with Willie at the top may prove to be Mannys brightest move yet, we'll see.

Posted by: cokedispatch | June 29, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Brue - You blame Manny for Eckstein's Hitting Slump and the batters not having a plan? Last year you blamed Lenny Harris. How is it getting worse? They won a series with the Yankees, the Blue Jays, had a close loss followed by a nice win against Boston, and a nice win yesterday. The bullpen is no longer failing to hold for a team averaging 7 runs, like in May. Unlike last year, they have the offense to regress to mean and go on a tear. Yet you want some screamer in here, who is "fiery" and "stands up for his players." It could get a lot worse. Larry Bowa ran off Scott Rolen. It could happen here with your fiery anti-Manny. That's what you'll get by firing Manny. The new guy will say, "I better show some fire!" And he will. And all you angry fans will get what you don't want - somebody in here that no free agent will play for. Go ahead - Buck Showalter and Larry Bowa are available. Watch the exodus, including Zimmerman. (Or, following the MASN spelling, Zimmmerman.)

Posted by: flynnie2 | June 29, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Father Flynnigan, you call to mind the words of Dave Chappelle...

"Haters wanna hate
Lovers wanna love..."

Posted by: Section506 | June 29, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I don't want some screamer in here...

But if you look at how the Red Sox played the umps last week (Weds nite?). They argue a ball-strike call from the bench. The hitting coach takes the fall and gets run. Then, Francona goes out and calmly makes his case. From there, the Sox get a few calls and big Papi homers on a hanging change up.

Fast forward to Friday night, Dukes gets thrown out at 3rd, by an umpire who didn't see the play clearly (I cannot say whether he was properly positioned or not), but it woudl have gone a long way for Manny to have gone out there, asked the ump if he could get some help - ask if the Home ump may have had a better angle.

Manny doesn't have to rip out 3rd base and throw it into left field to make his case.

And I think Dukes would have appreciated the manager having his back when it was pretty clear that he was safe - and as a fan, I would have appreciated it.

Posted by: comish4lif | June 29, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

@commish4lif: Dukes doesn't appear to appreciate anything.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | June 29, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Me, I would blame Manny for hitters that don't have an approach at the plate. You can talk about Eckstein and his ability to teach. Either he can teach, or he cannot.

But Manny has the ability to benhc players if they aren't willing to adjust to the count, or look for a pitch in a zone. If I was managing and you swung at a first pitch curveball and didn't drive it, you'd be at the Park at 8AM the next mornign watching video with me until your eyes bled.

Posted by: comish4lif | June 29, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I've been reading the skeptical comments about Nyjer Morgan, and whether he is the answer for the Nats in CF.

Nyjer makes $411,500. His salary for the rest of the year is under $230,000. Who else in this price range would be a better acquisition?

Posted by: EdDC | June 29, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

The big difference in the hitting this year is simple:

1. Nick Johnson is healthy. Fielding and hitting. Last year he really didn't have a stand-in as he did the previous with a healthy Dmitri Young.

2. Guzman is healthy and hitting well.

3. Flores was doing great until the injury.

4. R. Zimmerman improves significantly at the plate.

5. Dunn's home run threat leading to his ability to garner a lot of walks. The low batting average usually means he isn't driving them in as much with men on base as any team would like.

6. Anderson Hernandez and Alberto Gonzalez.

7. Willingham and Dukes ... Dukes early and Willingham appears to be coming on as the season progresses.

Its about talent, not the hitting coach.



Posted by: periculum | June 29, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

one thing I've been curious about when it comes to international signings. Obviously every team signs some Latin American kids during the signing period. But at what point do you, as a fan, take notice of the signings? When a team dangles a lot of money?

At what dollar amount does a team make a big splash? +/- $1,000,000? If a team signs a bunch of kids at $100,000, do you take notice? How much did the Nats sign some of their latin players back in '06 or '07 (not including Smiley)?

I'm not looking to be snarky or contrarian or a kool-air drinker here, I truly don't know. Does anyone have a spreadsheet available for all the international players that signed for over $100,000 and how they've progressed through the minors? What about the ones that have signed for over $500,000? $1,000,000? Are these players that much better than the ones that signed for less than $100,000 (and subsequently went under the radar of a "big splash" in the international signings)?

In looking at a few of the Nats latin players in the minors, I've noticed a few that could (if they continue to progress -- a BIG IF I know) one day be a part of a major-league team. I don't recall any of these as being part of the Nats' big splash of international signings (I don't even have a clue how much any of them did sign for). And I don't know if this list is typical for most big league teams, or if this is a small number of "prospects" or not. But to me, these guys could conceiveably pan out:

* Eury Perez, OF (19 y.o) - currently in GCL. Spent '07 and '08 in the DSL.
* Juan Jaime, RP (21) - currently in Vermont. Spent '06 and '07 in DSL, '08 in GCL.
* Federico Tanco, RP (23) - currently in Vermont. Spent '05 in VSL, '06 and '07 in DSL, '08 in GCL.
* Marcos Frias, SP (20) - currently in Hagerstown. Spent '07 in DSL, '08 in GCL.
* Carlos Peralta, RP (23) - currently in Hagerstown. Spent '07 in DSL, '08 in Vermont.
* Atahaualpa Severino, RP (24) - currently in Potomac. Spent '06 in DSL, '07 in DSL and GCL, '08 in Hagerstown and Potomac.

Posted by: erocks33 | June 29, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

"But Manny has the ability to benhc players if they aren't willing to adjust to the count, or look for a pitch in a zone."

Here's the problem: you recommend benching Elijah Dukes to play... Austin Kearns?

I mean, he's already playing Willingham in right, which makes Adam Dunn look like a smooth fielder.

Posted by: Section506 | June 29, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris is 2 years older than Nyjer Morgan. Both are left handed hitters. Morgan is a left handed thrower. Harris may have more power than Morgan. You are better off with Dukes in right and Harris in center.

If they are discussing a trade involving Nats pitchers they are undoubtedly talking McCutheon and not Morgan who looks like a less flexible plug-in replacement for Harris. Harris can play the infield. I wouldn't give much for him. Certainly he would be an improvement over Kearns, and a dramatic improvement over Willingham fielding wise.

Posted by: periculum | June 29, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

re: hitting. Dukes appears to be trying to pull everything, which is causing him to pull off of the pitch and miss badly, especially the outside pitches. Until he starts trying to go up the middle or to right, he needs to sit and let Willingham play in right (assuming, of course that Dunn is in left, Wee Willie is in center and Nick at first).

Also, why oh why can't the hitting coach make the pitchers choke up on the bat when they're at the plate? These guys all think they're going to hit one over the fence with these long swings. Choke up, shorten the swing a little and make some contact. Try and put the ball in play ... you never know what could happen. Oh yeah, and this applies to Austin "DPK" Kearns and Ronnie "Whiff" Belliard too. Especially when they've got two strikes on them. STOP TRYING TO HIT A 6-RUN HOME RUN WITH EVERY SWING, YOU MORONS!

Sorry for shouting ...

Posted by: erocks33 | June 29, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I don't like Morgan for Millege. They can do better. They already have Harris. Morgan is just another Harris.

They need an everyday center fielder like McCutheon. Not Harris. Harris is a great guy to have on your team. But they need someone starting who can scare the bejeesus out of the opposing pitchers batting either in front of or behind Dunn.

Posted by: periculum | June 29, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Let me know when they trade for Maybin. If Kasten and Rizzo could somehow manage that (or even a McCutheon) I would be impressed.

Posted by: periculum | June 29, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

How about we wait to see what Milledge is like as he comes back from the injury. He's got options, isn't pulling in too much, and isn't eligible for free agency or holding the most needed spot on the 40-man.

Why don't we just give it some more time instead of selling at his lowest possible value short of free.

Posted by: Section506 | June 29, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Come on, erocks. Everybody knows an RBI groundout or sac fly won't get you on Baseball Tonight.

Posted by: slewis1 | June 29, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

@erocks - Regarding your question about signings in Latin America. The issue I have is that the Nationals publicize practically nothing from what they are doing down there. The big signing period opens every July 2 and the Nationals have made announced one signing during that period since 2006 ... Smiley.

It's not a matter of necessarily throwing a seven figure bonus, in fact for every Miguel Cabrera that is signed, there are multiple Joel Guzmans who flame out.

What I would hope is that the Nationals get involved in the next tier of international free agents. The guys who sign for $100-500K. Occasionally you'll find a Hanley Ramirez type at that price. Rather than put all their eggs in a $3 million basket (one player), it might make sense to go after 7 players at $250K apiece.

But the bottom line is that we hear NOTHING from the Nationals during the timeframe when the cream of the crop players enter the market.

Posted by: Brian_ | June 29, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Periculum - what if I told you that Nyjer was not coming here to take Willie's place. What if I told you he was coming here to be the 5th OF / defensive replacement that Kearns currently is, and that a Milledge for Morgan trade was a prelude to releasing Kearns no later than 8/1? Would you like it then?

It almost makes the roster rational. You could go with AG and Morse as the backup IF once Belliard is removed, and Willingham and Morgan as the back up OFs. All of a sudden, you get more roster flexibility, improved IF defense, with a pick up in bench offense.

I'm a bit surprised that Morgan actually has a decent OBP. No power, but not a rally killer.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 29, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

>Yet you want some screamer in here, who is "fiery" and "stands up for his players." It could get a lot worse. Larry Bowa ran off Scott Rolen. It could happen here with your fiery anti-Manny. That's what you'll get by firing Manny. The new guy will say, "I better show some fire!" And he will.

You sound like the one that's angry. I guess all this pattycake stuff with you is just a cover. They're 22-51. The wins over these clubs (as few and far between as they are) proves that the talent to succeed is there, yet they're playing .300 ball. What do you think is missing? Big leaguers are just not that bad, statistically, especially this team. Just like Stengel, and Weaver, and others say - managers lose games. They rarely win them. They may put players in a position to win, but they don't win the games. Pro sports is part and parcel motivation and instruction. They need to be motivators, because basically every player is making more money than the coach. So why respect a coach if that's the case? They have to give them a reason, and as far as I can tell, Acta doesn't. It's like Dave Trembley says, and he's a teacher by trade - spend some time with each player, and figure out what makes them tick in order to get the best out of them. You know, like a professional in management. Have you ever heard Acta utter anything even remotely close to that? Of course not, because he's so worried about how he appears to everyone that he can't let his guard down. People know he's an actor - even he says that he has to stifle his impulses to speak up. So, he's acting unnaturally. How can you receive instruction from someone (assuming he even offers to give it), if you know his core mentality is to be insincere - with himself and with any situation that arises?

Posted by: Brue | June 29, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Brian and erocks, I think I remember someone (Kasten?) stating that the Nats specifically don't want to sign the expensive international dudes, as lots of cheaper ones provide a better overall return. I can't argue with that, because I don't know. What I do hope is that the team actually DOES sign that passel of cheaper guys, rather than waiting till next year ... again.

Posted by: Scooter_ | June 29, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

@Brian --

Thanks for your input. I figured if anyone had some insight, it would be you. However, if the Nats (and again, I don't know if they or any other teams do this), but if the Nats sign say 10 or 20 players at under $100,000 each, what are the chances that any/some/most will progress up the minors system? Do they have to pay one player $3M, or in your example 7 players $250K in order to have a successful international presence?

Do the Nats have to announce a major signing every year? I know Stan has said that international signings are a top priority in years past, but if they can get some quality players without breaking the back (and without the hoopla surrounding the signings), does that lessen the end result?

Basically what I'm trying to find out is historically, which of the successful latin players have signed for the big bonuses and which have been of the lesser, unheralded types? Is there somewhere I can see a list of "successful" (i.e. played more than a couple of years in the majors) latin players that have signed over the past 10 or so years and at what price they signed for?

Posted by: erocks33 | June 29, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Nats signed 2nd rounder Jeff Kobernus

Posted by: Brian_ | June 29, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Nats signed 2nd rounder Jeff Kobernus

Posted by: Brian_ | June 29, 2009 3:53 PM |


Great news!

Posted by: FloresFan | June 29, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I tend to agree with the idea of spreading the bonuses around internationally. The issue I have is that they are quick to say how important the international market is going to be for their future, but they then say very little about the progression.

The thing they have to deal with is that these kids are at minimum five years from being a viable candidate for the majors (some are seven years).

Most of these players will spend two years in the Dominican Summer League before even coming to the states (at age 18).

It's a fine line they need to walk between showing progress by naming names and overhyping them by bringing up their names too early.

Posted by: Brian_ | June 29, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Knock knock. Who's there? Lineup-gram for NJ (from Land Shark Stadium).

da dum...

da dum...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 29, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to add to the Umpire-Manny conversation.

It's simple psychology, if the Umpire make a mistake, or a 50-50 play goes against your team. If the manager comes out each time and argues intelligently. Then when another 50-50 play comes, the Umpire is more likely to have the play go in favor of the Manager that argues better. You don't show respect to the Umpire by never leaving the dugout - you show respect by calling them on there mistakes, and use direct respect during the argument - meaning don't get thrown out.

I've only seen Manny do this once, that I can remember on a play at first base.

Okay that was my two cents

Posted by: anyone1 | June 29, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Milledge for Morgan is a dumb as rocks idea. Morgan is 29, and without power. If we want to trade Milledge, or if someone wants him, we can do better. In the meantime, he's only 24 and could well improve. Remember, last year he had 14 HR and 61 RBI at age 23.

Posted by: OutsideTheLaw | June 29, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

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