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Man, Things Are Getting Predictable

Credit where credit is due:

"Nats with a one-run leading heading to the 7th. Why do I feel they're going to lose this game, say, 5-3?" - posted by jdschulz50, at 9:04 p.m.

So, no need for even a drumroll. Tonight's final score: 5-3. Again, the Nats abused a good starting pitching performance with some shoddy bullpen work and ugly defense. Ron Villone, who allowed 0 ER in his first 19 games, allowed at least one run for the third time in four games and took the loss. But Elijah Dukes deserves a little blame, too. The two decisive doubles that New York hit in the seventh were catchable. The first, a Mark Teixeira shot into deep left-center, would have required a perfect sprinting catch. (The ball hit off Dukes' bare hand.) The second, a Robinson Cano shot just over Dukes' head, would have required a proper judgment of the ball right off the bat.

Should Elijah have caught those balls?

"Well, in his defense, he's not a natural centerfielder," Manny Acta said. "Those balls were hit pretty good, and would I want him to catch every one of them? Yes. But he did make an effort."

Villone looked upset after the second play, but said he blamed only himself.

"They were hit too hard," Villone said. "No matter what, they shouldn't be hit that hard. Whether they were caught or not, that's more irrelevant to me than where I had the pitch and where they hit it. I didn't do my job... I blame myself, not anybody else."

A few other quick notes...


* We saw a real telling performance from Shairon Martis tonight. He went 6 innings (4 H, 2 R, 1 ER) despite five walks and a few jams. He probably had his B- stuff; professional pitchers -- the good ones -- know how to make that work. (I wrote much more about Martis in the gamer.)

* Josh Willingham, currently in Florence, Ala., while mourning the death of his younger brother, will remain on the bereavement list for the maximum time allotted, seven days. That puts Willingham on track to return on June 20.

* Dmitri Young (remember him?) will start a rehab assignment one week from now, acting GM Mike Rizzo said. DY has been in Viera, Fla., since the start of spring training trying to work himself back into shape. Officially, he's on the 15-day DL because of hip and back problems. Unofficially, the team just doesn't know what to do with him. Once Young begins his rehab assignment with Class AAA Syracuse, the Nats will have 20 days to decide his fate. They can either release him or put him on the 25-man roster.

By Chico Harlan  |  June 16, 2009; 11:39 PM ET
 
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Comments

>The Washington Nationals treat quality with a predatory intolerance. Go ahead, give them a quality pitching performance, watch what happens. They constrict it, cut off its oxygen supply, bury it under mounds of lousy bullpen work and lousier defense. They leave quality for dead.

How do you reach another level journalistically when they succumb to new heights?

Posted by: Brue | June 16, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Chico, for the kudos. Unfortunately, I've seen this train wreck before. We all have.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | June 16, 2009 11:56 PM | Report abuse

'Pears to make sense. NJ + Guzman + Willingham +Bergmann and any other less than successful prospects like Hanrahan for a real centerfielder that can field and hit for average and power.

Posted by: periculum | June 17, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Obviously, bad defense (Zim and Dukes) cost the Nats the game. The Yanks didn't earn it. But the real positive is Martis. He showed the guts that it takes to be a solid big league pitcher. I'm convinced now that he can get it done.

Posted by: nats24 | June 17, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Defensive problems in the outfield should be addressed through a key trade. But Zimmerman is having a terrible year as is NJ. Without Flores the catching has been AAA level.

Posted by: periculum | June 17, 2009 12:28 AM | Report abuse

GETTING predictable??? It's been predictable for so long now I can't even remember when it started being predictable. A month now?

Posted by: charley42 | June 17, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Zimmerman should see a sports psychologist. He gets the yips on throws when he has plenty of time, but throws great when he is rushed. That's in his head, should be fixable, but he needs to address it.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 17, 2009 12:53 AM | Report abuse

It's 2:30am. Do you know where your manager is?

Posted by: BGinVA | June 17, 2009 2:25 AM | Report abuse

"Well, in his defense, he's not a natural centerfielder," Manny Acta said. "Those balls were hit pretty good, and would I want him to catch every one of them? Yes. But he did make an effort."

Well, him making an effort did absolutely no good, Manny. Geez, do you pick a different excuse out of a hat after each game?

Posted by: BGinVA | June 17, 2009 5:12 AM | Report abuse

Can't win games, but a class act is one thing the Nationals organization is...expect Manny to lead the Nats during the next home game with everyone knowing it's his last...maybe Teddy wins and we start anew before the All Star Break. The beer never blows a lead.

Posted by: skygrunt | June 17, 2009 5:48 AM | Report abuse

On a more important note in the greater scheme of things and as noted in pregame programming last night:

Johnny Holliday To Get "Buzzed" - 6/14 - Johnny Holliday's 10-year-old grandson, Jack, has been diagnosed with a malignant tumor on his pituitary gland. It can not be removed by surgery, and he must undergo chemo and radiation. On Wednesday, 6/17, the local sports media veteran is sponsoring a "buzz-a-thon" at the Kentlands Barber shop in Gaithersburg, beginning at 7:15 pm. $15 bucks for a buzz cut with all proceeds going to the brain cancer center at Children's Hospital, where Jack is undergoing treatment. "I'm getting my buzz cut sometime this week, due to my pre game show on MASN Wednesday night, I can not make it to the shop that night," Holliday tells DCRTV.....

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 6:07 AM | Report abuse

Hat tip to Kev for the original posting of the DCRTV info. Also, carrying forward further details from BG:

Continuing from the previous post, these are the charities to benefit from the Buzz-a-thon:

www.pituitary.org.uk
www.childrensnational.org

Posted by: BGinVA | June 16, 2009 7:22 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 6:15 AM | Report abuse

"The Washington Nationals treat quality with a predatory intolerance. Go ahead, give them a quality pitching performance, watch what happens. They constrict it, cut off its oxygen supply, bury it under mounds of lousy bullpen work and lousier defense. They leave quality for dead."

And that's a quality intro in the gamer. Superb.

Posted by: joemktg2 | June 17, 2009 6:19 AM | Report abuse

Come on, Martis threw 106 pitches in 6 innings. He might have gutted it out, but remember the Yanks were facing him for the first time. Every one of the Nats starters save for Lannon throws way too many pitches and walks way too many batters. Martis will be a solid starter more than likely, but so far it's a typical thing and then you get into that bullpen and you know what will happen. BTW, Villone is not the answer EVERY time!

Posted by: bendersx6 | June 17, 2009 7:00 AM | Report abuse

@"Well, in his defense, he's not a natural centerfielder," Manny Acta said. "Those balls were hit pretty good, and would I want him to catch every one of them? Yes. But he did make an effort."

Well, him making an effort did absolutely no good, Manny. Geez, do you pick a different excuse out of a hat after each game?

Posted by: BGinVA |
_________
Well, what's Manny supposed to say? It isn't Manny's fault that the team has no real centerfielder.

Posted by: Section109 | June 17, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

In the latest round of the blame game I have a new candidate--the most unlikely of all. Justin Maxwell. Yep. Good ol' charming Justin.

You see, this team has no centerfielders. None. The outfield is a defensive disaster. Having no real centerfielder puts everyone else out of position in the outfield. Dunn should never play in the field at all. Willingham is not going to grace the Gold Glove ranks ever. Dukes is a corner fielder and as is Harris.

If only Justin Maxwell could hit major league pitching he would be a shoo-in starting centerfielder and the defense would have a chance to solidify. If only Bernardina had not broken an ankle making a spectacular catch. If only the Nats could use a high draft pick on what they really need--a centerfielder. If only someone had seen tapes of Milledge trying to play center field last year they would have pulled the fire alarm before the season began. But heck, that sounds like there really was a Plan.

I continue to have this fantasy about watching a major league team in Washington. Slick fielders turning crisp double plays, catchers throwing runners out, outfielders racing to the well-driven hit, pitchers striking out the batter with bases loaded, runners stealing bases, pick off plays that work like a drill, hitters advancing runners with regularity and dull precision. Can I share that fantasy with Kasten, Rizzo and the Lerners? I wonder what they dream of.

Posted by: driley | June 17, 2009 7:25 AM | Report abuse

"It isn't Manny's fault that the team has no real centerfielder."

Yes, it is. Manny signed off on, and endorsed the Lastings Milledge trade. Manny kept Milledge out there touting as the future of the team when it was clear to anyone who ever attended a Little League game that Milledge did not have the baseball instincts to play that position. Did Manny press the organization to obtain a real CF in the off season, or did he simply continue to endorse Milledge?

Do you really believe that Manny has zero imput on the player personnel and is not in part responsible for the players on the field? He's not blameless.

Posted by: raymitten | June 17, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

"Yes, it is. Manny signed off on, and endorsed the Lastings Milledge trade."

Huh? Name me one trade that Manny DIDN'T sign off on and endorse. Manny didn't trade for Milledge, Bowden did. Maybe they asked Manny for an opinion on Milledge since he'd worked with him in NY (just as they probably asked scouts and who knows who else) but in no way did he "sign off" on that trade. It wasn't his call. You can't pin any blame on Acta for acquiring Milledge.

Posted by: section417 | June 17, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Bowden had been trying to get Milledge since before Manny was ever hired. Do you really think he would have passed on the trade if Manny had expressed concern?

As for pressing the organization, do we have any evidence that he didn't do this? Or that the FO would have listened to him if he had?

Posted by: JohninMpls | June 17, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Yankees played great defense. Nats did not.

Posted by: longterm | June 17, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

It is a nice piece by Boz, this morning. Should give everyone something to contemplate.

Where, however, is the link to the boxscore?

Posted by: lowcountry | June 17, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Near as I see, Maxwell's inability to actually hit the spheroid doesn't seem like a reason to be left off this team. Sure, Maxwell's .626 MLB OPS (in only 50 ABs, I might mention) is U-G-L-Y, but really, it's no worse than Kearns' .627 OPS last year. Maxwell's AAA OPS this year of .727 (in only 140 ABs) isn't a whole lot better, but Kearns would have to RAISE his OPS by 30 points or so to get up to .727. Besides that, giving Maxwell a half-season or so as the "everyday" CF would allow folks to make a call going into next off-season - is this a possibility, or is it something that needs to be addressed. Trading NJ and going to war with an everyday lineup of Dunn at 1b, Willingham-Max-Dukes may solidfy the defense and allow for Maxwell to develop or not.

So, count that as my over-the-top reactionary solution after the latest loss - Trade Kearns if anybody's willing to offer anything for him (or DFA) and bring up Maxwell.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 17, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Why call up Corey Patterson and then let him sit if memory serves me he's a centerfielder by position why not play him. Dukes was horrible last night, and this goes back to spring training what in the hell was this coachong staff doing.Marquis Grissom was a gold glove outfielder when he played, so far it doesn't look like he's been able to impart any skill level to Dukes about how to play the position.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 17, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Having just read Boz's piece on Manny I have to say it sums up nicely my feelings on why he shouldn't be replaced during this season. I still contend he hasn't yet earned his 2010 option and it's going to take a big turn around to convince me otherwise, but Boz did a nice job articulating the logic behind not making a change for change's sake.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | June 17, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I agree re. the Boz piece. Also, new post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

"Well, him making an effort did absolutely no good, Manny. Geez, do you pick a different excuse out of a hat after each game?"

I have yet to understand why thrashing your players before the national media is the mark of a good manager. Sounds like the signs of a coward to me.

"Near as I see, Maxwell's inability to actually hit the spheroid doesn't seem like a reason to be left off this team"

The thought, it seems, is the conventional reasoning that Maxwell stands a chance of learning to hit the spheroid if he has time to adapt faster than pitchers do to him. Kearns, meanwhile, is what he is.

Posted by: Section506 | June 17, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I agree with 506 and Highway 295. If there is no natural CF on the Nats roster, let's put one there. If Maxwell can't hit his weight, maybe his defense can overcome Dunn's lack thereof. I'm fed up with the manager and FO consistently fielding a lineup with players out of position (Belliard at 1B, Kearns at CF, Harris at 3B). WTF - let's place fielders where they can make plays and support these rookie pitchers. Guzman really doesn't show the range you would expect from a MLB shortstop, but I'm not sure how they fix that now.

Posted by: BrantAlyea | June 17, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

the massive market of cleveland spent 23 million more, would that buy a centerfielder and a bullpen?

Posted by: bford1kb | June 17, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

2nd in profit last year and 27th in payroll this year, surely becoming a laughing stock within a couple years of ownership was in the plan too, right?

Posted by: bford1kb | June 17, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

In regards to Manny "signing off" on trades: I really believe that Manny has no real authority to nix trades, nor does he have the authority to get FA's or anyone else. He may be in the loop to the extent of inputting his opinion, MAYBE! The players on the team were acquired by the owners, GM, and Kasten. The manager of this team has very little input into the acquisition of players.

Posted by: NickfromGermantown | June 17, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

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