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Some Numbers, Some Reading

Before I get along with the morning reading, I wanted to throw out a few statistical nuggets.

* From Opening Day through May 19, the Nats' bullpen had thrown 132 innings, walking 79, allowing 98 earned runs and posting a 6.68 ERA. Opponents were hitting .291 against them. Since then, the bullpen has thrown 46-2/3 innings, walking 24, allowing 16 earned runs and posting a 3.09 ERA. Opponents are hitting .249 against them.

* All the more interesting (sticking with the rather arbitrary May 20 cutoff date)... Since then, Joel Hanrahan has allowed seven earned runs in 9 IP. Subtract Hanrahan from the mix, in other words, and the Nats' pen has a 2.15 ERA.

* OK, here's the really sick part. Up until May 19, the Nats' offense was putting up large numbers. Almost at will. May 10-19, a span of 10 games, the lineup posted five or more runs every time. Since then, the Nats have played 15 games... and they've devolved, offensively, scoring a total of 49 runs. They've scored one run in six separate games, two runs in three others. In only four of those 15 games have they gotten more than eight hits.

So, here is the gamer from the latest loss. (With some fiery words from Ron Villone.)

From the other side of the fence.

Manny Acta takes questions from fans, including one named ihatewalks, and explains a little bit about infield practice.

Want evidence that Stephen Strasburg, even after he is drafted, remains the sole property of the Boras Corporation? Boras, not the team that drafts Strasburg, will coordinate the pitcher's post-draft press conference. (Last year, for perspective, Nats officials called Aaron Crow by cell phone right after he was selected and placed him on speaker phone for the media.)

By Chico Harlan  |  June 6, 2009; 9:55 AM ET
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Next: Lineups (Or At Least Half Of Them)


I strongly believe that it is the job of the coach or manager to put their players in positions where they will succeed. Not sure that is happening.

Where I live I don't get to see games so I rely on this board for my Nats info...good or bad! :) I tried to sum up everyone's thought and maybe interject some of my own.

1) If you're going to live with Kearns defense, drop him in the order. Take the pressure the off while he reworks his swing for the #th time.
2) Reorder the bullpen and drop Hanrahan to 6th or 7th inning duty. MacDougal or Villone can close with Beimel taking the 8th inning.
3) Pitch selection. If I was manager and not happy with the pitch selection, I would call them. It seems like an easy excuse to blame pitch selection. It's as if Manny is saying "that's someone else's mistake, not mine." If something is wrong, isn't it the job of the manager to correct it?
4) Maybe this is just me, but I would play Hernandez full time at 2B but with the condition that the minute you turn off your brain and make a careless mistake or not charge a ball, you're on the bench for two weeks or in AAA. You choose. Life is full of wether or not to play hard defensively all the time.
5) Refine roles in the OF. Leave Dunn in LF. Willingham is trade bait or first pinch hitter; maybe work him at 1B to give Johnson a rest or if/when he is traded.
6) Although not great, Nieves and Bard can finish the year and let the young Cs develop in the minors.
7) Trade Johnson for something while you can this year. It was nice having Soriano for a year (along with the compensation pick) but trading him would have been better.
8) Trade Guzman for what you can and get a SS who will hustle and defend and help the young SPitchers out.
9) Get Dukes to take yoga or something that will help him stretch and stay healthy...and calm and relaxed.
10) Resolve the Rizzo interm-GM title before the end of the season. If he is the man, make him the man. If he isn't, get someone in before the start of next year so they can fill out the FO like they want.

Agree or disagree? Did I miss anything?

Posted by: derwink | June 6, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link to Manny's blog, Chico (the writer, not the pitcher). Perhaps the real question is: what are we doing in regards to honing defensive skills in the minor leagues?

Posted by: lowcountry | June 6, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Bob Carpenter had an interesting comment during the broadcast last night. He referred to Aaron Crow as being a Scott Boras client. That was not the case last year during the failed negotiations with the Nationals. Did Crow change agents (possibly indicating that he feels his previous agents are at least in part responsible for him not signing last year) or was Carpenter mistaken in his comment? (Wouldn't be the first time for that.)

Posted by: nunof1 | June 6, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Good qoutes from Villone. I've heard that he's well liked within the team and organization - maybe he's stepping up into a more vocal role. Someone certainly needs to keep pounding the wall and telling guys not to be losers. Manny doesn't seem to be able to do that.

Posted by: Kev29 | June 6, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

My head is aching, my ears are still ringing and of course my stomach is doing flips. This is about the only way a STH can now take going to three games in a row and watching this team. To all those who plan to continue watching this debacle, when you get off the metro walk down Half Street and stop just before you get to the CF Gate and proceed to your right and enter the "BullPen". Down as many $5 beers as you can just before the first pitch. Don't worry if you want to grab another cold one before proceeding to your seat, they have big screen TV's under the tent for your viewing pleasure or in some cases displeasure. When your ready proceed to the CF Gate enter at your own peril and forgo your seats and proceed directly to the Red Loft and recommence your binging on $7.50 beers or $10 mix drinks. Of course if your lucky you can get distratced by striking up a conversation with a number of Capital Hill sweeties and never have to pay attention to the train-wreck that is unfolding right in front of you. Beware of an overwhelming number of Met Fans hanging around almost every corner of the stadium, its shameful but again par for the course. Now let me go find some aspirin, gotta do this all over agin tonight-lucky me!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 6, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Breaking News: The Mets have announced they are going to field only 7 players today to try and even things out.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 6, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I'm not taking issue with your analysis, derwink, but surely you must know you can watch the Nats on your computer on MLB-TV no matter where you live. Then again, that might not be good for your mental health.

Posted by: nats24 | June 6, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

BTW, good on Zimmerman for the contribution to his alma mater, as mentioned a few posts back.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 6, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Check out the article titled 'Nationals strike out' in the Free Lance Star, Fredericksburgs paper. Donnie Johnston is fed up and I'd say he mirrors a lot of the posters in here. I agree with a lot of what he says, but not everything.

Posted by: cokedispatch | June 6, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I've tried the online TV but it streams so poorly here in Chile.

Posted by: derwink | June 6, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Three things. Joel Hanrahan threw harder and less straight in spring training last season when he first switched over to bullpen work. He had more life on the fastball late last season. So if Steve McCatty is better than St. Claire, he will fix that. But until he does, Hanrahan would do better in Syracuse where he can work on his mechanics and find some extra sink on the slider, some extra life on the #1.

Second, the team has Manny Acta's personality. They don't cuss, they don't fight. They lose and go home. This is no doubt unfair. Acta's style is what it is, but at some point it just does not work. The team is not a good one, but it is better than Manny is getting out of them right now.

Bob Carpenter wouldn't know Aaron Crow from Old Crow. The incompetence just jumps out at you from everywhere with this team. Cheap talent in the booth, in the dugout, everywhere. And it shows. So enjoy that $40 million profit from 2008, Lerner family. Bathe in it if you like, cause it ain't gonna be there for long.

Posted by: Juliasdad | June 6, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I feel your pain, Tippy. And re: the Mets fans, don't even watch the highlights... When Wright hit the go-ahead double, it looked like there were about 5,000 Mets fans going crazy in the sections behind their dugout. Then high-fiving Mets fans behind the plate when K-Rod struck out Johnson.

When is this nightmare going to end?

Posted by: Kev29 | June 6, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Ron Villone is my new favorite Nat. (At least this weekend.) I'm delighted to see that at least one National around age 40 cares about winning and losing--particularly since Acta does not.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | June 6, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

After reading the gamer, might RV be the new [RF] for NJ?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 6, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Help, please natsfan1a1? Who or what is [RF]? And is NJ the place where we are conversing, or the Nats' first-baseman?

Posted by: shepdave2003 | June 6, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree about MLB TV. I'm out on the west coast and the quality is very poor. I can only imagine what its like in Chile.

Posted by: natsguy | June 6, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Manny Acta......Tick Toc Tick Toc.......

Posted by: dovelevine | June 6, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

A Little History Lesson for Shepdave, on NJ (the planet, not the player)

Long ago--or hundreds of losses ago, for so it seems from here--the Nats had a backup first baseman/catcher/outfielder/clubhouse jester named Robert Fick. In a similar spirit, perhaps, to Cockney Rhyming Slang, his initials in square brackets (to denote a euphemism)--"[RF]"--became the outlet for the otherwise journalistically unsuitable expressions of frustration required by posters on Nationals Journal--or "Planet NJ" to distinguish it from the often-injured, never duplicated, Nationals' erstwhile first baseman (but not the first erstwhile baseman).

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

and since they won't let me hyperlink his name:

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

When, after the 2007 season, the team deprived itself of his services, it was remarked in spaces very much like this one that we needed a replacement. But who? Whose name would be immediately recognizable as a stand-in for that most basic of Anglo-Saxon expletives, and still make sense in the context of Planet NJ?
Always responsive to the needs of the fans, the Nats acquired veteran infielder Aaron Boone. Throughout baseball, even casual fans know that, by law, any Red Sox fan must refer to him using his middle name. Thus, "[AB]" became the NJ replacement for [RF], transforming to a gerund in the process.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Because anything that pisses off Red Sox fans can't be all bad.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

And srsly, continued get-well-soon wishes to Boonie from all here. Tell him if you see him, we're still rooting for him.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Sec3, beautifully explained! 1a, I think you have hit on it - [RV] for [RF] and [AB]. I think that Ron Villone would get a real laugh out of it if he knew, just as I have thought that Robert Fick might have reacted. My sense on Aaron Boone, though, is that he would have rolled his eyes at us.

Posted by: Traveler8 | June 6, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

2009--Into The Wilderness

With the loss of Aaron Boone to free agency, the Astros, and open-heart surgery, in that order, Planet NJ went into 2009 needing a new [AB] roster. While some options have been suggested, notably "[kip]" (for Kip Wells), honesty compels us to admit the current Nats lineup has huge [AB] holes.
It's not that they don't give a [RF]. They do, they try like [RF] every day. But as Bard (the player, not the playwright) noted, "This is the [AB] play-good league, not the try-good league."
Easy [AB] answers, it seems, are hard as [RF] to find.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

@ Second, the team has Manny Acta's personality. They don't cuss, they don't fight. They lose and go home. This is no doubt unfair.
Yes, I do think it's unfair. Manny doesn't emote all over the place--how does any of us know that he doesn't care? I think he very much does. That link to Manny's blog at MASN makes me think so all the more. If we were winning, wd anyone care that Manny is Mr. Spock?
That said, I too am a fan of Villone. He sounds like a leader and a fiery guy. I do think teams need some fiery guys, but if that isn't Manny, what is he supposed to do, fake it?

Posted by: Section109 | June 6, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Sec 3, use a word three times, and it's yours forever - you certainly have a [RF] handle on that [AB] term! What the [RV], whatever!

Posted by: Traveler8 | June 6, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

They don't cuss? they do seem to say "Maryland Farmer" a lot after making an out, or are my lipreading skills deteriorating?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Traveller8.
Next lesson: Tempermentally Like Willie Harris

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for handling the RV explanation, sec3. Well done. As the unofficial NJ archivist, I delved a bit and found the following exchange, which includes a link to the original comments in that vein:

Slightly off topic: Can someone help me out by explaining the origin of "[RF]" or simply point me to discussion where it was born? I think I've divined its meaning, but after searching through the last month or so of NJ, I can't locate its origin. And I hate being left out of a good joke (especially one that is apparently here to stay!).

Posted by: JennX | August 14, 2007 5:23 PM

JennX, let me attempt to deconstruct the uses and derivation of [RF]. As best as I can recall, [RF] was first used by Hendo. The inspiration was the, um, evidently very colorful vocabulary of Mr. Robert Fick, as well as a desire to comply with blog rules re. "colorful" language. [RF] is often used in place of [expletive deleted], [expletive expletive deleted], [expletiving deleted], and so forth. I can't remember the thread where it started (perhaps as part of the posting marathon that took place over Barry's vacation?), but perhaps that thread is no longer available on the blog.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 14, 2007 10:14 PM

Here's where all the [RF] got started:

Posted by: Hendo | August 14, 2007 11:08 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 6, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and I second the good wishes for Aaron Boone.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 6, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

sec3, I've that turn of phrase after making outs as well. Also, um, "shucks."


They don't cuss? they do seem to say "Maryland Farmer" a lot after making an out, or are my lipreading skills deteriorating?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 2:07 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 6, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh shucks, I've "noticed" that turn of phrase.

Looking forward to the Willie Harris lesson.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 6, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes they also seem to say "gosh darn it."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 6, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Folks, I agree - [RV] seems like the 2009 equivalent of [RF] or [AB], but there is another contender on the current squad - the Bard. A few of his recent quotes have been, shall we say "salty", no?

On another subject, can anyone rationalize why the team still has Colome in the bullpen? Manny doesn't seem to trust him for anything but mop-up duty (with good reason), and the team hasn't been in too many blowouts since DCab got handed his walking papers. Why not DFA Colome & recall Clippard at this point? At least he'd be an arm that could be used in multiple scenarios, rather than just a butt in the bullpen.

Posted by: BinM | June 6, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

agree with derwink with the exception of Kearns. He is simply not a major league hitter right now. And re MLB TV, I am in florida and it works great except they black out ALL the Marlins and Rays games regardless of whether or not the games are actually available in my area. Thats 20% of the Nats schedule this year

Posted by: chris88 | June 6, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

McDougall for closer. Villone for player-manager. Hanrahan, Kearns and Acta to be ridden out of town on a rail. (Group rate - cheaper for Lerners.)

Posted by: nunof1 | June 6, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

cheaper for lemurs?

oh. Nevermind.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

so RV is the new Capt. RA?
In a good way...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the elucidation of [RF], folks. I've been lurking here for a couple years, but probably started after the RF era.

I totally get it. I'm a German teacher. I went with a German couple to a game at RFK while Fick was still on the team, and he got put in at first base in about the 8th inning. The English-teacher wife about sank through the bottom of her seat in embarrassment when RF was introduced. Her phys-ed-teacher husband hooted and laughed for about 10 minutes.

As many of you probably know, Fick's last name is the big F-word auf Deutsch.

So, yeah, [RV] for [RF] in 2009!

Posted by: shepdave2003 | June 6, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

That's it! My new they'll-never-use-it marketing campaign -- Captain RV! Sponsored by -- Capt. Morgan's, of course!
Every time Villone comes into the game, everybody stands up and raises their right leg, as if on a barrel, left fist on hip.
Now we need a pirate song for him ...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

but not this one

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Don't be suprised if Belliard starts at 2B tonight - he's 9/16 (.600) with 1HR against Maine lifetime.

Posted by: BinM | June 6, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, shepdave. I'm not a German teacher and never played one on tv, but I am conversant in the language. Great story about your German friends!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 6, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

If only we'd had this guy as a coach...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 6, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Pirate songs?

I am the very model of a modern baseball, maybe not...never mind...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 6, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

actually laughing out loud, 1a. Great cross-language (cr)aptonym.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

no, that's perfect, 1a--except it's a show tune...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse


About [RF]: One thing that qualifies RF over all of the others for this particular duty is that Robert Fick wasn't just salty, he was quirky, twisted salty. He was that way because he was that way. I really like Villone, and his fire... and he's definitely a personality... but [RV] will always be "what replaced [RF]". I say, stick with our roots... and the occasional explanation (like today) is good for the soul. Reminds me of happier, losing times.

RE MLB.TV: I live in Alaska, and I've had the package since 2005. I use it all the time, and find the quality to be VERY good... but it is quirky, and the NextDef product does not work well. It requires a pretty good chunk of bandwidth, and a reasonably new computer with decent graphics and memory. Anything that degrades performance has a big impact on the quality of the stream... and over time, the size and resource demand of the product has increased, while my hardware has not... so I now take to shutting all other applications down to make it work... but that said, the quality is still very usable most of the time. I watch almost every game... But for people in the DC area, you will be blacked out of Nats games...

Next Saturday's game in St. Pete: What are the Rays thinking, starting that game during the blackout period? In case you missed it, the Rays have chosen a start time on Saturday (6:08 PM) that prevents the first hour of the game from being televised because it is in the national television blackout window for Fox. [RF].

Posted by: wigi | June 6, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, Lannan is 1-0 at Nationals Park in 2009, with a 2.25ERA. Maine has a 6-2 career record against the Nationals (4.04ERA), but has never pitched in Nationals Park. Additionally, right-handers have hit Maine better than left-handers this year. Hmmmm...

Might be the perfect time to get weird with the lineup - Start Willingham / Dukes / Kearns in the OF, NJohnson / Belliard / Gonzalez / RZimmerman in the IF, and Nieves behind the plate.
Proposed lineup
1) Kearns - RF
2) Johnson - 1B
3) Dukes - CF
4) RZimmerman - 3B
5) Willingham - LF
6) Belliard - 2B
7) Nieves - C
8) Gonzalez - SS
9) Lannan - P

What is there to lose?

Posted by: BinM | June 6, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of lineups, new post (or at least half of it).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 6, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

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