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Reading Material

Before spending the next few days at Bethpage State Park for the U.S. Open, Boz stopped by Yankee Stadium last night and pondered the Manny Acta situation. "Why is Manny still managing?" has become a complex question, but Boz has a smart take, which you can read here. Boz asks: "[O]n a team so young, so destabilized in such a short time, do the Nats really want to replace Acta with an unknown or unfamiliar quantity? Who else is so committed to sticking with this dubious ship?"

Several more links for your reading pleasure...

The game story from last night's 5-3 loss hones in on another quality Nats start that wasn't rewarded with a victory. Some background: On May 16, the Nats played a doubleheader against Philly; Scott Olsen started Game 1. Daniel Cabrera started Game 2. Since then, we've had nothing but rooks and Lannan in the rotation.

So yeah, a full month.

And here are the starters' numbers during that time:

27 GS, 154-1/3 IP (or an average of more than 5-2/3 IP per game), 4.84 ERA, 63 BB, 94 K, .253 Opp AVG

And since June 1 (under McCatty as pitching coach):

13 GS, 78 IP (6 IP per game), 3.46 ERA, 33 BB, 39 K, .227 Opp AVG.

Oh, and the starters, since May 17, have a combined 1-10 record.

Elsewhere, Sheinin investigates the history of players' HR totals exceeding their teams' win totals. (Adam Dunn has 17 homers for a 16-win team.)

Newday's Ken Davidoff writes, "The Nationals are so horrible that a Yankees loss to them is virtually inexcusable."

Here is the NYT's game story.

A ghastly, Cabrera-esque Chien-Ming Wang tries to rebound tonight. (Story courtesy of The Daily Orange's Jared Diamond, a Syracuse guy who's interning this summer for mlb.com.)

By Chico Harlan  |  June 17, 2009; 8:55 AM ET
 
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Next: Among The Worst

Comments

Wang is gonna get crushed tonight. This should be hilarious.

Posted by: longterm | June 17, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Sounds painful.

---

Wang is gonna get crushed tonight.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I know, that was very wrong.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Interesting article by Boswell.

Wang sue is lucky. Nothing like facing the Nats to get your season back on track.

Posted by: NoVaSnow | June 17, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Good article by Boz. Another good article by Howard Bryant on ESPN regarding steriod stuff.

Posted by: longterm | June 17, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

"Stan says, 'Just win a few games so I can stop answering these questions.' "

That quote is so awesome, I can't even count the ways. It's almost as good as Manny's comment after Martis's CG win that "Moments like this, games like this, they're worth five of those losses we had." Warm and fuzzy quotes like that almost make me feel like the 5-25 skid that the team is on has been completely "worth it."

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

Sweet jaysus, the outfield defense is turrible. And I thought Dukes was one of the better gloves out there.

Also, Brett Favre.

Posted by: trezmartin | June 17, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

1a, entirely uncalled for! You ruined my morning coffee!

My headline for Boz today: The Case for Manny?

Posted by: Section506 | June 17, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Chico, I love these morning readings. Thanks for all the links!

Posted by: rbelleisle | June 17, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Martis. My gawd, Martis. Awesome just doesn't cover it.

Chico, your description of that lineup put a knot in MY stomach. Thanks for putting Martis's performance in perpsective.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 17, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Martis's performance yesterday reminds me of Lannan facing Barry Bonds in '07. It's what made him my favorite pitcher. And now Martis....

Posted by: NatsNut | June 17, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

nice work 1a ... had to be done.

Posted by: ihatewalks | June 17, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Agree that these morning posts are really nice. Keep that up!
Otherwise, in my opinion, is time to get (or stay) positive. If we now have a 5-25 record for the last 30 games, the risk that we're going to finish the next 30 games 5-25 is slim. Since we are not getting blown away in most of the losses, we are at least in the games. It feels like we're just a couple of really good games away to get some confidence back.
And when you read stuff like Ken Davidoff writes it just makes you want to put even more hunger back in your heart and go out and put up a big curly W on the scoreboard tonight!

Posted by: joabee | June 17, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

We don't know either, pal.

>Nobody in baseball seems able to get a handle on why the Nats really, really don't want to fire Acta. What are they waiting for, a sign from the heavens? For a tablet with "Can Manny" chiseled on it to materialize in a burst of flames on the pitcher's mound? What is it about 16-46 that they don't grasp? Sure, the Nats might as well get the No. 1 overall pick in the '10 draft. But do they really have to make a run at the '62 Mets' 120 losses?

Posted by: Brue | June 17, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

"If we now have a 5-25 record for the last 30 games, the risk that we're going to finish the next 30 games 5-25 is slim. Since we are not getting blown away in most of the losses, we are at least in the games. It feels like we're just a couple of really good games away to get some confidence back."

Yeah, maybe we'll be able to pull off a 10-20 over the next 30. Wouldn't that be sweet?!? Nats have not played even a month of .500 ball since 2007.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 17, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

First, Martis will be and is becoming a solid SP. But, that performance last night of 106 pitches in 6 innings is not an impressive performance. I thought the Yanks were a little trigger happy and took swings at quite a few ball fours. Have martis pitch another game against them and I think they hit him hard.

Posted by: bendersx6 | June 17, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Have martis pitch another game against them and I think they hit him hard.

Posted by: bendersx6 | June 17, 2009 10:17 AM |

************

Dude, why you gotta be a debbie downer? Martis won't be pitching against them for a very long time.

He got through the Yankee lineup through 6 innings and with a lead. He's a KID and a ROOKIE.

What else we got to cling onto here, huh?

Posted by: NatsNut | June 17, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

"Nats have not played even a month of .500 ball since 2007."

They came pretty damn close in August 2008, 14-15.

Posted by: section417 | June 17, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Amen, joabee. Can we just get a win if for no other reason than to make Davidoff eat crow?

Chico -- So great to see a DO reference! (I'm Class of '97.)

Posted by: misplacednortherner | June 17, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

OK, it is beyond time to cut bait with Kearns. He needs to be DFA'd right now. If the Nats still think he can be an asset, then once he passes thru waivers (I mean really, what team in their right mind would pick up his contract if he gets DFA'd?) assign him to AAA and let him work on his (non)swing down there. Get him off the 40-man and replace him with someone that doesn't seem to be going through the motions.

Someone in a previous post suggested bringing Maxwell up and letting him be the everyday CF. He is the best defensive CF in our system right now (at least maybe until Bernadina comes back). Sure he can't hit right now, but neither can Kearns. So, you bat JMax 8th and he'll produce at least the same offensively as AK, but at least the defense of Dunn (or Willingham) - Maxwell - Dukes will be MUCH better.

Oh, and about Martis' performance last night. I thought it was GREAT. A rookie pitcher coming into Home Run Alley and allowing only 2 earned runs in 6 innings? Fantastic! Was he dominant? No. But even though he struggled early, he battled back and made the pitches he needed to make. Almost all of his pitches were down in the zone, and that made it difficult for the Yanks to rough him up. I, for one, was very pleased to see him pitch so well, especially since some of his last outings were pretty bad. Good for you, Shairon! Keep it up!

Posted by: erocks33 | June 17, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"They came pretty damn close in August 2008, 14-15."

Woohoo! Let's all revel in that one. I seem to recall that was back when Emilio Bonifacio was going to rescue us from the plague of bad, lazy baseball. Oh, the salad days of the '08 Nationals...

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 17, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Martis is very good against people that have never seen him before. Let's wait until he's got through a season before we go too crazy.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 17, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

screw you. I'll be positive if I want to.

(hmph)

Posted by: NatsNut | June 17, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

> "They came pretty damn close in August 2008, 14-15."

Woohoo! Let's all revel in that one

Why not? The magical month of June 2005 has been milked for all it's worth, hasn't it? Take that month out of their season and that team was a pretty lackluster .448. Yet no one here seems to think that .448 was the real measure of that team, even though it was.

So say this year's team gets hot, pulls off a month like that and raises its winning percentage accordingly. Will people here start saying it's a better team than what it's playing like now? Somehow I doubt it.

The point? Looking at a team on a month-by-month basis doesn't really tell you all that much, except for how a team is trending. We're barely over two months into a six month season. The trend could change dramatically. Or not. Take a look at the 2005 monthly trends and you'll see what I mean.

Posted by: section417 | June 17, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I have to say I thought that was a bizarre column today by Boz. He seemed to raise all of the logical questions about why you would keep him and didn't come up with a good reason, other than it would be too disruptive. Really? We don't want to disrupt a team heading for 120 losses?

I haven't been a Manny basher and I don't think firing him will make much of a difference, but if you're going to encourage them to keep him, there should be some long-term plan that justifies that move. Anyone see that?

The only reason I could come up with is, the Nats are about to make lots of player moves, dumping most of the vets, bringing in more young talent and they'd want a young, patient manager to work with them. Even then, you can make a good argument about hiring a new manager with an equal amount of patience at the same time.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 17, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

BTW, anyone excited about seeing Da Meat Hook back in a Nats uniform, with a glove on? I see nothing but good coming out of that...

Posted by: baltova1 | June 17, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Two things happened to me last night that are worth sharing to this bunch:

First, I watched Austin Kearns strike out looking with two consecutive pitches over the heart of the plate. Were they fastballs? Curveballs? Who cares! This is the Major Leagues. Get your bat off your shoulder and defend the dish! ...that is to say Kearns' stock, in my estimation, took a sharp downward turn. He's a decent RF normally, but if he doesn't swing he's begging to be replaced.

Secondly, as usual with MASN I had the game on but the volume muted. As the Nats hit into another double play and Dukes stunk it up in the outfield, the little lady got upset because (she thought) I wasn't paying attention to our conversation (I was. I multitask all day long, heh.) ... so after a few stiff moments she sat down to watch the last inning with me and to help clear the air she -- horror of horrors -- un-muted the television! Drivel and Crapenter did NOT help my mood (and just as predictably, neither did the 5-3 score). How can anyone watch these guys? Really? Since I listened to the first few innings of the game in the car with Charlie and Dave, the contrast was never more obvious and painful. I have blocked out any specifics from the MASN team, but I hope never to listen to them for another inning again. Ugh!

postscript: Charlie's call of Anderson Hernandez's home run was hilarious in that he had no way to mask his surprise and shock that the ball left the park. I laughed. Thanks, Charlie.

Posted by: ihatewalks | June 17, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Actually Nat's nut, I am enjoying this little stretch of losses more than any other stretch of losses for this team. The long term pieces are all playing well, and young starters are performing well.

Martis is not good 'second time around' because he is young. I believe he can learn mostly because unlike the Bowden 'phenoms' he can hit his spot.

A young stating rotation is how you build. We can be okay. Now we just need to trade for Carlos Gomez.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 17, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"The point? Looking at a team on a month-by-month basis doesn't really tell you all that much, except for how a team is trending. We're barely over two months into a six month season. The trend could change dramatically. Or not. Take a look at the 2005 monthly trends and you'll see what I mean."

It does tell you a lot when you compound it with the team's cumulative record. The team is not just bad, it is consistently bad. Which makes notions of pulling off a hot month pretty far-fetched. By the way, if this team played .450 baseball for the rest of the season (and there is no basis to think they could come close to pulling that off), they would still end up losing 100 games.

But hey, if you want to revel in a month where the team was 14-15, by all means, don't let me stop you. Hey, you know what Manny says: Go for it!

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 17, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Methinks that only one of them was earned.

---

Oh, and about Martis' performance last night. I thought it was GREAT. A rookie pitcher coming into Home Run Alley and allowing only 2 earned runs in 6 innings?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

If I may, one more reading material item. Here's the Bog piece on Johnny Holliday's buzz-a-thon today, in case somebody might be interested in getting a cut or otherwise contributing:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcsportsbog/2009/06/johnny_hollidays_buzz_cut.html

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

And give Dukes some slack on those two plays. The first was hit to deepest part of the park and he almost got it. You try running full speed towards the wall and make that catch. Only a handful of CFers make that catch, and two of them aren't playing anymore (Lofton and Edmonds).

On the second one, that was a hard hit LINE DRIVE. There was barely any arc on that ball. Unless Dukes was playing near the warning track, there was no way he was going to get that ball.

Sure, I would have loved if he could have made both catches. Do I think he should be the everyday CF? No. He is our best RF for sure. But do I think he misplayed both of those balls? No way. Cut him a little slack please. (at least he didn't fall down after his attempts, or drop the ball while trying to throw it back in).

Just trying to look on the bright side of life.

Posted by: erocks33 | June 17, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, 1a1. I knew that but had a brain-freeze when I wrote that. Maybe I blocked out Zim's horrible throw?

Posted by: erocks33 | June 17, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

erock

Oh, I don't blame Dukes. The guy is a very good fielding RF. He is playing a harder position because his team needs him to step up, and he is doing so. The fault here is that this team has not addressed it's need for a true CF. In 5 years... 5.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 17, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

"A ghastly, Cabrera-esque Chien-Ming Wang tries to rebound tonight" is good writing.

I like that one. combining zombie graveyard imagery with a nats-centric reference evocative of the same.

Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | June 17, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

LOL! You're right, malcolm...that line's hilarious.

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

The only reason I can pull for returning DaMeat to active duty is a warming trade market for Nick. Although his sharp decline in defensive play has undoubtedly had a negative effect on his trade value. Not good for what most consider the most valuable trade commodity this team has.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | June 17, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Boz's case for Manny is the standard for what passes for the DC baseball media.
A few days ago Jr. Feinstein and Two-Ton Thom Loverro spent expensive ink on the case against Dibble and now Boz is telling us to STFU too. Oh thats right only the scribes can decide who stays and who goes.

Enough I say, we can all deal with the ups and downs of a baseball season but at what PRICE does it become more then just a bag full of crappola brought to you my a "used car salesman" and two mall-rats?

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 17, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Dukes should have been the CF in spring training so he could have gotten some experience reading line drives off the bat. But Acta decided to go another direction... how'd that work out?

Yet another reason to can Manny.

Posted by: sec307 | June 17, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Bringing back Dmitri Young would be pointless. Lets re-sign Fick and LaCroy too then.

Posted by: raymitten | June 17, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Hell, if it meant we go good value for Johnson I'd bring back Broadway or Casto!

Posted by: soundbloke | June 17, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

What does everyone think of trading Dunn? His bat would be missed but his defense wouldn't and he would bring quite a bit in return. A good way to get some good young talent in to complement the young SP and other core guys.

DFA Kearns, Dukes in RF only, trade Johnson and Guzman who won't be around when the team is competitive. Maxwell (unless someone else in a trade) in CF will help the defense and his bat won't be worse than Kearns.

Posted by: derwink | June 17, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

You're welcome, erocks. I wouldn't blame you if you had blocked it out!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Boz makes an interesting point.

The Nats haven't even hired Rizzo's replacement. Or, for that matter, Rizzo hasn't even officially been given Bowden's job.

Maybe they do have a plan to restructure the entire team - FO and all - in the offseason. But as it stands right now, the infrastructure would have a hard time supporting an internal candidate replacing Manny.

-----

At the moment, the Nats have three adults holding an embattled, poorly constructed fort -- Kasten, Rizzo and Acta. Perhaps they don't want to see it reduced to two.

Posted by: JohninMpls | June 17, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

erocks33, while I disagree with you on those two plays (I think Dukes should have caught them), you're right to emphasize his skill as a RF'er. Playing guys out of position is a recipe for disaster and we've been cooking up that slop all year long.

BTW, you mentioned Edmonds as a guy who, back in the day, could have made that catch. He's supposedly still interested in playing. If he is and he's despera, er, dum, er, willing to play for us, they should sign him. Dump Kearns, play Dukes in RF, stick Edmonds in CF, and bring up Maxwell to learn from him. Who cares what they hit? We need fielding help badly at that spot.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 17, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I have to think Dunn's value couldn't be too much lower than it is right now. He's an AL DH best case, and right now he's not hitting. You're the GM... how do you sell that?

Posted by: RicketyCricket | June 17, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

"Only a handful of CFers make that catch, and two of them aren't playing anymore (Lofton and Edmonds)."

Melky Cabrera, Franklin Guiterrez, Torii Hunter, Grady Sizemore, Mike Cameron, Adam Jones, Vernon Wells, Carlos Beltran, BJ Upton, Curtis Granderson, Reed Johnson, Aaron Rowand, Carlos Gomez


Posted by: RickFelt | June 17, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Nook Logan

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

Let's all keep in mind that while Boz' article is indeed garbage, he's still a much better writer and human being than Mike Wise. Always remember that. Mike Wise is just awful.

Posted by: RickFelt | June 17, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

tippycanoe, you're overreacting. Boz is not telling us to STFU for goodness sake.

He's just asking a question: Manny's not fired yet, why would that be? And he explored why that might be.

Better he ask the question and try to get it answered than to just complain all day why it hasn't happened yet.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 17, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Good one about that Yankee pitcher 1A1 LOL!

Lets see, last time we faced the Yankees close to a Father's day weekend. Yeah, Yankees won the first game... Guess what happened to Wang in Game 3! Ryan Zimmerman happened. Lets hope in this instance that History does repeat itself.

On any given day, any team can beat any other team. That includes us!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | June 17, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

> But hey, if you want to revel in a month where the team was 14-15, by all means, don't let me stop you. Hey, you know what Manny says: Go for it!

Posted by: CoverageisLacking

Not reveling in anything here. Your original point I believe was to denigrate the team by bemoaning how long it has been since they had a .500 month. I'm merely pointing out that the arbitrary winning percentage you selected does not really denigrate the team as much as you seem to hope it does. Perhaps you should have cited how long it's been since they turned a 20-6 month like they did in June 2005.

And really, we all know the team sucks. Why all the competition around here to be the one who most definitively describes their level of suckitude?

Posted by: section417 | June 17, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

"BTW, anyone excited about seeing Da Meat Hook back in a Nats uniform, with a glove on? I see nothing but good coming out of that..."

DFA Kearns and put Dmitri in his place on the bench as the main pinch hitter. As has often been said, dude can roll out of bed and get a hit. Having him on the Nats in this role wouldn't be any dumber than the Phillies carrying Matt Stairs for basically the same purpose. And look at it this way. Dmitri's first hit would be to get rid of Kearns once and for all.

Posted by: section417 | June 17, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

hey gang...thanks for-once again-providing such interesting and entertaining reading that I've blown off my obligations! I mean, who needs a winning team to enjoy when I have all of you? Regarding our outfield issues, no one is mentioning Langerhans. For years he's been considered a great fielder who couldn't hit.I seem to remember some talk at the end of last year that he had finally figured out how to be at least adequate at the plate. If that's the case-heck, even if it isn't-why not bring him up(he's currently .257 at Syracuse).He's credible as a major leaguer....something poor Austin"I Stink"Kearns is not. Is it just me?-but I've never really seen him as anything but an average fielder, either. And just watching him at the plate makes me want to send all my money to starving kids somewhere, or comfort people at funerals....DFA him and give him a chance to escape.And Dukes? I really want him to succeed but he is no CFer...and he needs to get that pure athleticism counts less in baseball than elsewhere. Ah, jeez,,,where do you start? Or stop! Gonzalez seems to be playing much better since his TripA stay. And anyone notice how Hernandez practically knocked Nick over in catching the pop-up that ended the eighth? Like he didn't trust him to catch it? Dump Guzzy-he's a luxury we can't afford. Nick?Anyone see FJB's post on how he is now the worst fielding 1st baseman?,,,,,Holy mother of GOD we are sad sad sad....still,none the less, despite all reason,hope,belief....Go Nats!

Posted by: zendo | June 17, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

You know, I almost would prefer that they would get blown out game after game. The problem is that they have been in almost every game this year. While trying to be historically bad, they are actually pretty competitive. That is one of the most frustrating things. It is like they can only fire on two out of four cylinders at any one time. Tantalizingly close to victory each night, but alas the result is all too predictable.

Posted by: twinbrook | June 17, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Agreed on dumping Kearns. As Earl Weaver once said about Mike Cuellar, "I gave him more chances than my first wife."

Posted by: baltova1 | June 17, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

My nephew on Long Island (not exactly MLB Trade Rumors) texted me yesterday to say that Rizzo is talking to the Mets this week about trading Dunn. I replied it was Nick they wanted to deal. Maybe we can get Church and Schneider back.....

Posted by: ramgut | June 17, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Chico, any idea how Roger Bernadina's recovery is coming along. The MLB injury report has him listed as returning in late June.

Posted by: johnny_blaze | June 17, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I would love to see Meat Hook again. I love that guy. I don't know that it would be wise, but I would be delighted.

Posted by: Section506 | June 17, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

> The Nats haven't even hired Rizzo's replacement. Or, for that matter, Rizzo hasn't even officially been given Bowden's job.

That's probably due to the minority hiring rules mentioned here the other day. Even if the intent is to give Rizzo the job, they still have to conduct sham interviews. If they want a new GM, they have to both find and hire the new guy as well as conduct the sham interviews. All of that is best left to the offseason when there's less going on. Meanwhile you get a season of OJT for Rizzo as GM, which can only solidify the eventual decision to either replace him or give him the permanent gig.

Posted by: section417 | June 17, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

"Your original point I believe was to denigrate the team by bemoaning how long it has been since they had a .500 month. I'm merely pointing out that the arbitrary winning percentage you selected does not really denigrate the team as much as you seem to hope it does."

I'm not trying to "denigrate" anything, I'm just trying to shine the light of reality on the Nats' situation and suckitude, as you artfully put it. But anyway, I disagree that this is not an insightful thing to look at, among other metrics.

Players and teams do in fact look at and talk about "months" as defining points for their season. And I think the fact that the Nats haven't been able to put together even a month of halfway-decent baseball (as defined by .500 play) since 2007 does show how bad things are.

It also puts into perspective some comments from fans about how the Nats might "turn it around." If that makes me pessimistic or a "downer" about this team in your view, that's unfortunate, but I think that the team has earned it. That doesn't mean that I'm not a fan, or that I'm not going up to NY to catch the game tomorrow, wearing my Zimm t-shirt proudly.

Also, .500 is not "arbitrary," it is a level of performance that is pointed to all the time--by fans, and by those in the game.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 17, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Ah, lunch, ... so let me fix the Nats in a twelve step program:

1) Appoint interim disciplinarian Manager to kick butt for the rest of the season. Then dismiss him. This is simply to condition any returning players for next year.

2) Release Austin Kearns, Dmitri Young, Joel Hanrahan, and Jesus Colome. Can't trade them. Can't play them.

3) Trade Nick Johnson, Rafael Belliard, Elijah Dukes, Christian Guzman, Willie Harris, and Ron Villone. Not because they are bad players but because you might be able to get something for them - they have value. It does not really matter if we get something for this year or the future. You lose Johnson soon anyway and there should be at least a marginal market for the rest.

4) Find a decent centerfielder - somewhere, anywhere - who won't kill the lineup. Good range, decent arm, .OBP over .330. This is not easy to do, but perhaps one of those tradables listed above. Even Willy Taverez would be an improvement. Until then, use Patterson or Maxwell if you have to. Maybe its Bernadina next year, but it is imperative that they have a real centerfielder going in to next year.

5) Find a full range shortstop. Guzman is great offensively for both teams - home and away. Play Gonzalez for now and find a full-time shortstop who can help cutoff more of those infield singles and at the very least pursues pop-ups to shallow left.

6) Get Jesus Flores(and Bernadina) healthy. Get Norris to AA by next year.

7) Get Milledge healthy and trade him. Fifty cents on the dollar if you can.

8) Get Scott Olsen healthy and convert Stammen to relief. (And if you're not going to commit to Bergmann, then let him go. Like Hanrahan, Bergmann is just too mentally beaten to be useful at this point.

9) Hire a real GM. I like Rizzo fine and I hope they can retain him, but my 12 step plan requires hiring a proven GM who demands control and has earned it in previous jobs - think Gillick, MacPhail, Hart, Melvin, etc.... The Nats need street cred. Maybe Rizzo can stay on as deputy with full draft and sign responsibilities.

10) Hire a real marketing department and give them the budget to make a difference. Don't expect a first year payoff in ticket sales, its a multiple year effort. Better advertising, promotion, pricing, etc...

11) Sign a minimum of three free agents this winter including a foundation starting pitcher. Forget about this nonsense of blocking youth. Youth will push through when they are ready. Until then the Nats need to avoid embarassing themselves. Trade the veterans when youth is served.

12) Replace the interim manager promptly in October with the best experienced manager available. Preferably one with a no-nonsense approach. There are plenty of hard nosed types out there. I always liked Bobby Valentine. I'd be ok with Baylor, Garner, or Lopes. Too many options to list. But there needs to be an element of edge to them. Just a little discomfort.

OK, back to my regular job...


Posted by: natbiscuits | June 17, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Biscuit,

some solid suggestions, and I won't be snarky and suggest that you keep your regular job. Shoot, send a resume to Stan!

One quick question, have you seen the list of FA's for next offseason? Not that pretty. Once (not if!) Strasburg is signed, I'd be content to see if he developed into that #1 starter type and focus on some of your other points, like finding a CF.

Posted by: jfromPG | June 17, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

> 10) Hire a real marketing department and give them the budget to make a difference. Don't expect a first year payoff in ticket sales, its a multiple year effort. Better advertising, promotion, pricing, etc...

Maybe the current marketing department isn't as bad as you make it out to be. It's widely agreed that winning drives attendance, so you would think that the Nats with the worst record in baseball by far over the past two years would be at the bottom of the attendance standings too. Guess what, they're not. Ranked by average per-game attendance, they're 27th of 30 MLB teams. Ranked by percentage of seats filled, they're 24th. This despite the abnormally large number of rained-on games this year. Really, a case could be made that the Nats current marketing staff is actually overachieving.

Posted by: section417 | June 17, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"Ranked by percentage of seats filled, they're 24th."
Just curious--I didn't know they published turnstile numbers. Where is this from?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 17, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

"Really, a case could be made that the Nats current marketing staff is actually overachieving."

Not really. They're in the second year of a new stadium in a large market. Couple that with the fact that the stadium is easily accessible via metro to the downtown after work crowd and it's actually a complete joke how few people go to the games even despite Acta and the team's incompetence. Get Your Red on and Pledge Your Allegiance to these Defining Moments, NatsTown.

Posted by: RickFelt | June 17, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

One more item on the buzz cut event. The MASN site now has details on how people can contribute financially should they wish to do so:

http://masnsports.com/index_blog_natsbuzz.html

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Its not that the existing marketing department is staffed with bad people, its that the Lerners don't seem to be focussed on marketing and advertising. MASN advertises, but not the Nats. Visit some other towns and you would find some pretty surprising contrasts. Marketing success is usually measured by attnedance, but there are other measures as well - merchandizing, media revenues, etc....

Where are the Nats radio shows, tv shows, publications, etc.... Free media only takes you so far. There are some events currently focused on younger kids that are great. They will pay off for years to come, but with more budget they could do more and that will translate into larger attendance down stream which will feed more star level salaries which will drive even more attendance. Not saying they suck now, (just)saying they need a larger budget.

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 17, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

This is not Bowden's fault, but he certainly contributed to the idea (call it "the Bowden Meme") that you can trade useless players for good ones.

"The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but if you bet any other way you're going to lose most of the time."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 17, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

RONNIE Belliard, natbiscuit.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 17, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I really think Langerhans has to be played until Benrandina is healthy/Maxwell can hit a big league pitch/we get a real live center fielder. Sad but true. Langerhans will not embarrass himself and that is all we need.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 17, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Well thought out, natbiscuits. Agree with just about all you wrote -- and I too agree on Valentine because he's both a solid manager and would be good for marketing purposes (crucial in this market, where baseball is fading into irrelevancy in only its fifth year back). He gets it.

No, this team wouldn't come close to .500 under Valentine (no one could do so with this roster of misfits), but he could keep people interested while a revamped front office was returning the franchise to competence.

Posted by: VPaterno | June 17, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

DARYL Belliard.
and his brother, Daryl.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 17, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

>"Ranked by percentage of seats filled, they're 24th."
Just curious--I didn't know they published turnstile numbers. Where is this from?

Not turnstile numbers, paid attendance. Percntage of seats filled = percent of stadium capacity.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/attendance?sort=home_pct&year=2009&seasonType=2

Really, though, as far as marketing goes paid attendance is good enough as a gauge. They can only sell a seat once, whether it's sat in or not.

Posted by: section417 | June 17, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who wonders why the Nats don't announce the attendance at each game? Almost every other park I've been at has an attendance guess in the 8th inning or so. Is it that the "announced" attendance will seem so rediculous to the few folks who are actually there that there would be uproarious laughter?

Posted by: twinbrook | June 17, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

ST sales and walk-up sales measure different things, but I agree, even a winning team, poorly marketed, won't fill the place.

*************
Really, though, as far as marketing goes paid attendance is good enough as a gauge. They can only sell a seat once, whether it's sat in or not.
Posted by: section417 | June 17, 2009 1:31 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 17, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Hey gang,,,still only one opinion on my float of bringing up Langerhans? 1st-Dunn 2nd.Hernandez S.S. Gonzalez 3rd.Zimm C.Flores CF Lang RF Dukes LF Willingham? This team is constructed in a way that is almost unfathomable...Go Nats

Posted by: zendo | June 17, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

> Its not that the existing marketing department is staffed with bad people, its that the Lerners don't seem to be focussed on marketing and advertising. MASN advertises, but not the Nats. Visit some other towns and you would find some pretty surprising contrasts. Marketing success is usually measured by attnedance, but there are other measures as well - merchandizing, media revenues, etc....

You think that by doing all this stuff you claim they're not doing now they're going to drive attendance even higher than the current numbers, which are already higher than one would expect them to be? What's your reasoning behind that?

As for media revenues, those are fixed - at a rather high number - by the MASN arrangement. Where are other opportunities to gain revenue from the media that they're currently missing?

Merchandising really seems to be driven by MLB. Get an mlb.com catalog some day and look at the wide variety of stuff they offer for the popular teams (i.e. NYY, BOS, CHC plus any teams that are currently winning) as compared to the much smaller line of Nats merchandise that's available. The Nats can't offer a wider variety of merchandise if no one is making it. Once the team starts winning and becomes more popular, the merchandizing revenues will follow. Absent winning, there's not much they can really do about that.

Posted by: section417 | June 17, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

11) Sign a minimum of three free agents this winter including a foundation starting pitcher. Forget about this nonsense of blocking youth. Youth will push through when they are ready. Until then the Nats need to avoid embarassing themselves. Trade the veterans when youth is served.

12) Replace the interim manager promptly in October with the best experienced manager available. Preferably one with a no-nonsense approach. There are plenty of hard nosed types out there. I always liked Bobby Valentine. I'd be ok with Baylor, Garner, or Lopes. Too many options to list. But there needs to be an element of edge to them. Just a little discomfort.

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 17, 2009 12:55 PM
_______________________________________________________________


natbiscuits,

I agree with most of your other points but your last two are spot on.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 17, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

You can only assume that if Nick Johnson is still on his feet in October he will be a Class-A free agent. At least we get draft picks for him.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 17, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Totally off point, but was I the only one who thought that I was watching a YES broadcast on MASN last night? Were Carpenter and Dibble broadcasting from their knees? I've never heard so much slurping of an opponent since Scott Rolen was traded to the American League. For the love of God, its just a baseball team -- and not an act of god. I dare say that even the Nats could play at a reasonable clip if they were to invest $200 million in payroll every year. The Yankees stand for excess, not excellence.

Posted by: raymitten | June 17, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who wonders why the Nats don't announce the attendance at each game? Almost every other park I've been at has an attendance guess in the 8th inning or so. Is it that the "announced" attendance will seem so rediculous to the few folks who are actually there that there would be uproarious laughter?

Posted by: twinbrook | June 17, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I believe you answered your own question.

They did used to do the attendance guess at RFK. Of course, they actually had crowds back then.

Posted by: NoVaSnow | June 17, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I go to some games and I have a friend who goes to almost all of them. He's also a "numbers guy" and his hobby during the game is to count the actual attendance, not the "announced" figure. His numbers say that the actual butts in the seats attendance is on an average 5-6K less than the official figure. During the doubleheader he said there were fewer than 10K people in the stadium and I was there and I'll testify to that.

Posted by: bendersx6 | June 17, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I dare say that even the Nats could play at a reasonable clip if they were to invest $200 million in payroll every year. The Yankees stand for excess, not excellence.

Posted by: raymitten | June 17, 2009 1:46 PM
__________________________________________________________________

Or hell, even a 100 million. The Lerner's haven't gotten the fact yet that if you want to win in MLB, you need to spend some money.

Doing things on the cheap equals Historically Bad. Thanks Uncle Ted.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 17, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Nick Johnson will not be a Type A free agent - which makes him easier to trade - because the Nats won't be getting a pick if he leaves.

Nick is playing well this year, but only played in 38 games in 2007-2008. Rankings are based on the previous 2 seasons statistics. Type A free agents are ranked in the top 20% by position - I think 1B and OF are ranked together.

Posted by: comish4lif | June 17, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Thanka comish. It also means that on trade deadline day we have to basically accept any scraps we can get for him.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 17, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Natsbiscuits: Welcome to Redsksinville. The Redskins don't win and the have all the media programming in DC tied up. And they sellout every game . . .
The Comcast Sports channel is the only "independent" station in the region and because of it's competition with MASN all but ignores the Nationals.
Baltimore rocks as a complete sports coverage town compared to DC.

Posted by: tomfoc31 | June 17, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

The best defensive CF in the organization Cory Patterson just got temporarily called up. Dibble is going to love this move.

Posted by: tomfoc31 | June 17, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

"Nick Johnson will not be a Type A free agent - which makes him easier to trade - because the Nats won't be getting a pick if he leaves."

But he could be a Type B which does return a pick

Posted by: Brian_ | June 17, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of merchandise, I've noticed in visits to the ballpark that in some cases the team stores offer different merchandise. That is, you might find things at one team store that aren't among the selection at the other. For instance, I've never seen dresses at the team store closest to the Navy Yard entrance, but they had them at the store on the opposite end of the park last time I was there. They also had some nifty ticket albums. (Yes, I realize that many denizens aren't interested in team dresses but others may be. As Charlie often says, you never know.)

---

Merchandising really seems to be driven by MLB. Get an mlb.com catalog some day and look at the wide variety of stuff they offer for the popular teams (i.e. NYY, BOS, CHC plus any teams that are currently winning) as compared to the much smaller line of Nats merchandise that's available. The Nats can't offer a wider variety of merchandise if no one is making it. Once the team starts winning and becomes more popular, the merchandizing revenues will follow. Absent winning, there's not much they can really do about that.

Posted by: section417 | June 17, 2009 1:45 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

And raymitten, yes, I thought that I detected quite a bit of Yankee worship, too.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

"Yes, I realize that many denizens aren't interested in team dresses but others may be. As Charlie often says, you never know."

I'd like to see the veterans Beimel, Villone, McDougal and Tavares buy a couple of those team dresses and force rookies Strasburg and Storen to wear them on road trips and when walking out to the bullpen this September. Like they did with Detwiler in 2007, making him carry the pink little-girl backpack out to the bullpen every night.

Posted by: section417 | June 17, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Actually, a guy at another blog (Tiger Thoughts) has almost figured out the Elias rankins and has kept an updated track of how the ratings change (http://www.scribd.com/doc/16342317/Rankings-061109)

As of June 11, Johnson was not a Type B, but he was only 0.28 points (and two players) from sneaking into a Type B status.

Posted by: Brian_ | June 17, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

417, I thought for a minute you were going to suggest that Beimel, Villone, McDougal and Tavares were going to wear them. I'd pay to see that!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it would reverse the curse.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Well if either of the posters (tomfoc or 417) is trying to maintain that the Nats marketing is quite adequate as is, I'll simply disagree. But it's only one step in my 12 step plan and certainly the least important among them. Not sure how anyone could question my wisdom however ...

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 17, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Corey Patterson at center is not a horrible move. I really wonder why Dukes was in CF and Patterson in RF the other night. If anyone has any thoughts not of the 'Manny sucks' I'd be interested. I couldn't wrap my head round it at all.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 17, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

New topic (for me anyway), after a couple of years of Tim Tolman as 3B coach, Pat Listasch (sp) is a huge upgrade - though he may exercise an overabundance of caution from time to time. I think its alright to take a few chances before the 7th inning. Not that I won't be up in arms if someone gets thrown out, but what good is it having a 3B coach if you can't blame them for something.

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 17, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Brian, you are right, losing a type B free agent would get the Nats a sandwich pick - between rounds 1 and 2.

So, that's a reason to keep him. Since the Nats would get one of the higher sandwich picks.

Posted by: comish4lif | June 17, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Natbiscuits, I liked your list and agree with you 100% on marketing. On that front, one thing that the Nats really should be doing is producing their own shows to run on MASN, as the Os do with some of those shows that Tom Davis hosts. I think you hinted at this in one of your posts.

I think your most important point is #9, on the GM. Ideally in my mind, the Nats would actually get someone in with baseball experience above the GM spot--like what Schuerholz is now doing in Atlanta--who can develop a baseball philosophy and approach for the organization, including hiring the GM. Unfortunately, that probably can't happen with Kasten around.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 17, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm assuming Manny didn't use CP or WH in CF was because we were facing CC (LHP).

P.S. DFA AK, DY, and JB

Posted by: FloresFan | June 17, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Ah, I was referring to the game where Patterson was in RF, and Dukes in center.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 17, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

My guess would be Manny wants to keep Dukes in CF because he's the guy there once Willingham gets back. But if it were me, I'd use the real CF while I had him.

Posted by: sec307 | June 17, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"referring to the game where Patterson was in RF, and Dukes in center"

Charlie and Dave discussed the fact that there were some security concerns when Dukes played LF the previous night. Security had to intervene when fans in left were yelling at Dukes. By putting him in center vice right, they may have minimized some of the security issues

Posted by: Brian_ | June 17, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Notably, Beimel and Villone are also just a couple spots from sneaking into Type B status, meaning that these 1-year deals may yield some prospects if they end up heading elsewhere in free agency.

Posted by: faNATic | June 17, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Jesus! Has it come to that? Makes your blood run cold.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 17, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"I really wonder why Dukes was in CF and Patterson in RF"

I think the Nats also play Dukes in CF just to see whether or not he's a long term fit there. He obviously has the athletic ability, and doesn't seem to have an incurable lack of baseball instincts (c.f. CF LM).

Posted by: joebleux | June 17, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Ah, but if Nick gets on track to become a type B FA, then his value goes up - Boston might actually give us a decent prospect if they know they are getting a rental + a sandwich pick.

Posted by: goexpos2 | June 17, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Preach it, CiL!

---

On that front, one thing that the Nats really should be doing is producing their own shows to run on MASN, as the Os do with some of those shows that Tom Davis hosts. I think you hinted at this in one of your posts.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

This was mentioned on the Nats tv broadcast for one of the games at Tampa Bay as well. I believe they said it was acquaintances from Florida as opposed to fans.

---

Charlie and Dave discussed the fact that there were some security concerns when Dukes played LF the previous night. Security had to intervene when fans in left were yelling at Dukes. By putting him in center vice right, they may have minimized some of the security issues

Posted by: Brian_ | June 17, 2009 3:07 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

security concerns in his hometown of tampa shouldn't affect him in new york though. anyway, i'd play him in center if he is the intended full-time centerfielder. sure would be nice to see some offense tonight. this team needs to loosen up.

Posted by: longterm | June 17, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Brian, what effect would a major injury have on Johnson's Free Agent Type B prospects? What risk would another team or us incur given his history?

Posted by: Section506 | June 17, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

True about the locale, longterm.

Re. the posting further up on attendance guessing, it got so I was pretty good at guessing RFK's announced attendance, but I've not yet refined my technique for Nats Park. I'm always off (low).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

From Jon Heyman, SI, June 17th.

Nationals president Stan Kasten declined to answer any questions about the current situation (but in characteristic fashion, still felt the need to critique my stories so far). He didn't say, but it's also possible Kasten didn't like me suggesting 1) that the bonus system would not be wrecked by a big bonus for No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg, and 2) that they might consider Bobby Valentine at a time when Acta's still in the job.

Kasten won't comment on anything. But one GM said of the idea of the Nationals hiring Valentine, "They should do it. But they won't do it. They're too cheap."

Posted by: JDB1 | June 17, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

"Natbiscuits, I liked your list and agree with you 100% on marketing. On that front, one thing that the Nats really should be doing is producing their own shows to run on MASN, as the Os do with some of those shows that Tom Davis hosts. I think you hinted at this in one of your posts."

Do the Orioles produce those shows, or does MASN produce those shows? My impression is that MASN does that. But then again, my impression is also that MASN and the Orioles are really the same thing. After all, the same guy is the majority owner of both of them, right?

Posted by: section417 | June 17, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who wonders why the Nats don't announce the attendance at each game? Almost every other park I've been at has an attendance guess in the 8th inning or so.
Posted by: twinbrook | June 17, 2009 1:33 PM

Absolutely I am mystified by their unwillingness to announce attendance. They didn't even do it on Opening Day when (thanks to the Phillies fans) they set a Nationals Park record. I didn't know that until I got home. Sure, they're not selling out, but so what. It's a small thing, but it's wrong. It's like Clint. Again, just a small thing but so bush league and small market. Reinforces the belief that this franchise and FO really doesn't have a clue. It's one thing to be 16-and-46. It's another to act it. Totally bush.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | June 17, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

> On that front, one thing that the Nats really should be doing is producing their own shows to run on MASN, as the Os do with some of those shows that Tom Davis hosts. I think you hinted at this in one of your posts.

Perhaps the Nationals might be able to worm their way into a greater degree of coverage time on MASN if they produced a fishing show to run during Orioles rain delays. And now...The Rainy Day Bass Boat, brought to you by the Washington Nationals.

Posted by: section417 | June 17, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"The Quiet Manny"

Posted by: Intrudr | June 17, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

They could also have a sponsorship tie-in to the games. Today's pitcher is featuring his Bass Pro Shops sinker.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

And new post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Let's take a look at the Mustad Hook slide of the game.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 17, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

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