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Bests, Worsts, Highs, Lows

The Major League All-Star Break is designed, more or less, for three purposes. Either you rest up (*), you compete in the game, or you reflect. Just speaking personally here, my hamstrings (despite some excessive hotel treadmill running in 100-degree Houston last weekend) are feeling just fine and my OBP is still hovering around .000. So reflection it will be.

(*) The other alternative for the break is that you fire your manager. The Nats did this. Moves like that have their own consequences. Players wonder where things went wrong. The commissioner finds himself defending the franchise's owners. The president mocks the team.

Anyway, with the dawn of the Jim Riggleman Era just hours away -- 5 p.m. press conference today -- this feels like the right time to look back on the first half that was. What follows is a list of Highs, Lows, Bests and Worsts. And please, I encourage you to add your own thoughts here. Even add categories, if the creativity strikes. Here are mine...

Best Victory: June 17, Lannan at Yankee Stadium. Nats 3, Yanks 2. Lannan goes into the ninth, and somehow, Mike MacDougal gets a game-ending double play with runners on first and third.

Worst Defeat: The competition here is thick, but I'll pick the April 27 13-11 loss against Philadelphia (also known as Hanrahan blown save No. 3), where the Phillies blasted two grand slams and scored six in the bottom of the eighth... a half-inning after Washington had scored four to take an 11-7 lead.

MVP: Lannan. His numbers (6-6, 3.70 ERA) are good, but his track record for halting losing streaks is even more important.

LVP: Austin Kearns. At this point, he's getting paid $8 million to play cards in the clubhouse. His numbers dating back to May 8 are just crazy: 92 AB, .152 AVG, 1 RBI.

Top play: Justin Maxwell, scaling the fence to rob Adam Jones of a homer on May 23.

Worst play: Mike Hinckley, throwing a ball about 100 feet over home plate, a slip that ended up being the final pitch he'd throw with the Nationals.

Best personnel move: The trade that brought Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett from Pittsburgh.

Poorest personnel move: Beginning the season with no back-up plan behind Joel Hanrahan for the ninth-inning duties.

Toughest injury: No contest. It's Jesus Flores's right shoulder injury. The third-year catcher will probably miss the rest of the season. (Roger Bernadina's injury was also a tough one, though. The kid plays great centerfield, and has made steady hitting improvements in the last year. Acta loved him. Had Bernadina stayed healthy, he probably would have become Washington's everyday centerfielder -- a homegrown Nyjer Morgan. Or at least he would have been given the chance.)

Most pleasant surprise: I'll go with Craig Stammen here. This righty wasn't even among the cast of thousands invited to big league spring training. Then, he pitched his butt off at Class AAA and earned a big league call-up. Ten starts later, he's a full-time member of the rotation.

Biggest disappointment: The Milledge/Dukes tandem. During the Winter Meetings, Jim Bowden was telling other execs in baseball that Dukes, Milledge and Ryan Zimmerman were his three building block position players. Yikes. At least he went 1-for-3.

Best Quote not involving J-Lo: "We've got to win a little more for [the fireworks operators] to get some practice." - Josh Bard.

By Chico Harlan  |  July 15, 2009; 7:59 AM ET
 
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Comments

Most Valuable Front Office Manager: Rizzo
Least Valuable Front Office Manager: hmmmm...everyone else?

Most pleasant surprise: the whole lot of young starters and their progression over the last 2 months.

Posted by: joemktg1 | July 15, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

I think you need to find a spot for Zimm's 30 game hitting streak.

Posted by: lowcountry | July 15, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Toughest injury for me would be Sean Hill, who didn't even get to play with us this season. Bard and Nieves are filling in the gap very nicely for Flores.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | July 15, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

My highlights all centre around young pitchers having good games.

Posted by: soundbloke | July 15, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Least Enjoyable Rendition of "God Bless America": Last night.

No breath control - she was gulping for air between phrases that should have been seamless. And, continuing the appalling practice we routinely hear in "The Star-Spangled Banner," she took it at the pace of a funeral dirge. "The Simpsons" mocked this practice years ago, in an episode where a ballgame had to wait an hour or two while some clown dragged through the national anthem.

Posted by: gilbertbp | July 15, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I liked that Zimm donated 250,000 smackeroos to UVA baseball.

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 15, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

another highlight game for me is the 13-2 win over the Astros where everything for once went right for the Nats. A tease of what could be

Posted by: gengreen17 | July 15, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Earlier thread says Aaron Crow hasn't pitched this year. Baseball-reference.com doesn't show any minor-league stats for him after 2008. Anyone know what's going on with Crow?

Posted by: gilbertbp | July 15, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

"Least Enjoyable Rendition of "God Bless America": Last night."

NO JOKE. She somehow made the words written for the song not scan. My roommate theorized that she had learned to sing from Tom Waits.

Posted by: Section506 | July 15, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Chico Reporting that explains it all........ACTA reached out to players, recommending self-help books.

Posted by: JayBeee | July 15, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse


Crow pitched three innings last year with Fort Worth. I don't think that he has signed yet with KC.
_____________________
Earlier thread says Aaron Crow hasn't pitched this year. Baseball-reference.com doesn't show any minor-league stats for him after 2008. Anyone know what's going on with Crow?

Posted by: gilbertbp | July 15, 2009 9:03 AM

Posted by: lowcountry | July 15, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

And just to further explain, gilbert, Fort Worth is an independent team, not part of Minor League Baseball, so stats from there wouldn't show up on b-r.com.

(Right?)

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 15, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Worst play: Austin Kearns finally gets a hit, only to be tagged out by starting his slide 12 feet before second base. I'd put Adam Dunn missing 2nd base up there too. Yikes.

Posted by: trezmartin | July 15, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Crow was drafted by the Nats in 2008 but was not signed. Then he was drafted in 2009 by KC, and as yet is unsigned.

Urban myth around here is that the Nats extended themselves fully to Crow and his awful agents, but they were too nasty for the Nats to deal with. And besides, Crow didn't want to play here in Washington anyway.

KC is a much bigger and wealthier market than is Washington (at least in the eyes of the respective owners, which is all that counts), with a 24 percent bigger payroll than the Nats have. Therefore, KC has a better likelihood of signing Crow than did the Nats.

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=p4ew-fwu2XT3cpPRtt9qIGw

Note: the O's and Matt Wieters entered into a similar midnight deadline negotiating scenario in 2007, but the O's ponied up the necessary money to get Wieters ($6.5 million as I recall). Washington, as a self-perceived smaller market team than the O's, did not have the $4.0 million needed to sign Crow. The O's have a 26 percent greater payroll than do the Nats. As a wealthier franchise, the O's could afford to sign Wieters, whereas Washington of course could not afford Crow.

Posted by: EdDC | July 15, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

... so the players wanted Manny to be more stern and more demanding. The players have it wrong - all wrong. No one can say they would be willing to work harder and do better if only someone else would push them. Life doesn't work that way. And when it comes to wishing someone would hold another player's feet to the fire, again, no go. Players need to look after how they perform, how they behave, how they respect their team and organization, and let that organization deal with anyone who needs it. Players, look at your performance and leave the counselling of discipline to those who have that right.

Go Nats!!

Posted by: natscanreduxit | July 15, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

How dare you besmirch the name of the late, great Bleeding Gums Murphy!

"The Simpsons" mocked this practice years ago, in an episode where a ballgame had to wait an hour or two while some clown dragged through the national anthem.

Posted by: InTheCheapSeats | July 15, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Catching prospect Derek Norris is going to be promoted from Hagerstown to Potomac shortly. Move not officially released as yet.

Posted by: Brian_ | July 15, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

"and let that organization deal with anyone who needs it."...is it not clear that Acta did not do this at all and that became the problem.....I think you just proved my point....thanks....

Posted by: JayBeee | July 15, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

If, for whatever far fetched reason, Crow does not sign, does he go back into the draft a third time or become a free agent? If the latter, would anyone advocate the NATS trying to sign him? I am just wondering, because outside of him being the NATS first round pick, I can't recall his claim to "fame."

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | July 15, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Just a little pointer-count, natscan, if I may: it sounds a bit like the players *did* leave the discipline to those who had the right, but it didn't happen. Such situations can be frustrating.

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 15, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Sec 204 H 7

Here's the claim to fame (and money):

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/draft/y2008/reports.jsp?content=crow

Posted by: EdDC | July 15, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

re: Aaron Crow, here's an article about some KC pitching prospects - http://www.kansascity.com/sports/story/1320091.html. Crow just gets a passing mention, possibly because the Royals are having as much trouble with his agent(s) as we did.

Posted by: yobigc | July 15, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

The first half of this year was too dysfunctional to have a best and worst,how about we play the second half like a real major league team. Focus,execute, and demonstrate a will to win and play with intensity every day. Lets Go Nats.

Posted by: dargregmag | July 15, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Scooter_: "And just to further explain, gilbert, Fort Worth is an independent team, not part of Minor League Baseball, so stats from there wouldn't show up on b-r.com.

(Right?)"
===============================================================
Nope. Stats aren't as comprehensive as for majors, but they're there. Team: http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/team.cgi?id=39684

Crow: http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=crow--001aar

Crow pitched in just one game for Fort Worth last year, baseball-reference has nothing for him for this year even before the draft, and the team doesn't show him on the roster this year. Nothing recent on google that I could find. It's like he just disappeared.

Posted by: gilbertbp | July 15, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

"Best Victory: June 17, Lannan at Yankee Stadium. Nats 3, Yanks 2"

Wow, that brings back memories. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was listening to Ray Knight's post-game comments: "I was talking with some guy named....Brue???...on my blog. He didn't think John Lannan was much of a pitcher. Brue, buddy, let me tell you: John Lannan can pitch".

I'm sure that Brue guy learned some lessons in humility that day. Probably not nearly as much as know-it-all now as he was prior to Ray publicly dressing him down.

Posted by: joebleux | July 15, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

He did just disappear although he evidently spent sometime in the Royals spring training camp. That's why I was curious as to why some analysts were projecting him to go as high as 4or 5 in the draft. It has been a long time since he has ptiched competitively.
__________________________
Crow pitched in just one game for Fort Worth last year, baseball-reference has nothing for him for this year even before the draft, and the team doesn't show him on the roster this year. Nothing recent on google that I could find. It's like he just disappeared.

Posted by: gilbertbp | July 15, 2009 9:50 AM

Posted by: lowcountry | July 15, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

yobigc,

The Nats had "trouble" with Crow's agent (since he wanted $4 million at the deadline). Yet the Nats had no trouble with Storen (Crow's replacement in the draft), who signed for $1.5 million, which is under slot.

The Nats' only expensive free agent under the Lerners is Dunn at $10 million a year. The most expensive guy the Nats have been allowed to bring in with a trade, under the Lerners, is Willingham's $2.95 salary. That's the most expensive, but the salary is small by almost every other team's standards. Posters routinely blast Jim Bowden for his stupid trades, but look at the restriction!

Anyway, now the Nats stand to lose Nick, Dmitri, Kearns, Belli and some others off the payroll, which is a tiny payroll anyway. Dun and Guz come off the following year. The Nats are not that poor.

Maybe all this is OK, as long as the Nats are focused on the future. But are they? Look at the reviews of the last two drafts, which seem to be focused on saving money:

2009: http://mlbbonusbaby.com/2009/07/07/draft-review-washington-nationals/

2008: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/organization-top-10-prospects/2009/267400.html

Of course all of this can just be chalked up to awful and nasty agents, stupid GMs, and jerkhead players too.

Posted by: EdDC | July 15, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

From Wikipedia (I know...sorry!): "A player who is drafted and does not sign with the club that selected him may be drafted again at a future year's draft, so long as the player is eligible for that year's draft. A club may not select a player again in a subsequent year, unless the player has consented to the re-selection."

I seem to remember somebody writing - perhaps in this very blog - that the Nats may have inquired about drafting Crow again this year, but he did not give his consent. Also, EdDC, your link was for his 2008 scouting report - here's the 2009 info (pretty much the same):http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/draft/y2009/reports.jsp?content=crow.

No stats for Crow after the 31st of May on the FW Cats website (the draft was on June 9), but here's his latest info:

Crow, Aaron
3-0, 3 starts
1.06 ERA
17.0 IP
11 hits
2 R, both earned
0 HR
1 HBP
5 BB
17 K
1 WP
.196 BAA

FINALLY, here's a link from the FW Star Telegram about the Cats' role in the MLB draft power struggle: http://www.star-telegram.com/sports/columnists/jim_reeves/story/1418824.html.

Posted by: yobigc | July 15, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Natscan,

I disagree a little with your statement above. Your statement is more of a perfect world like situation.

The Manager/Head Coach needs to push these guys sometimes, especially the young ones, who may not get it yet. He is the leader, the one everyone is looking to. He doesn't always have to rant and rave and watch every step these guys make but, he needs to lead. Players who are established leaders can also police themselves since the Manager can't watch everything.

The Manager needs to set the tone of what is and what is not expected. It's starting to sound like Manny didn't do that very well.

Posted by: Section505203 | July 15, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

IMO worst play by far was one of the most recent:

Tyler Clippard balking a run in during an intentional walk attempt.

That one left me truly stunned. Sort of sums up the first half for me!

Posted by: HenryStin | July 15, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

yobic,

Nice data. Thanks.

The Nats could get lucky with Storen, but I always feel better when the Nats sign the most highly regarded players, not just the cheapest. It's not like the Nats are loaded with talent and can afford to skimp on the draft. Surprisingly, though, a number of posters are on board with the frugality moves.

Posted by: EdDC | July 15, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

EdDC - I wasn't necessarily talking about slot values or Crow's signability last year, but the fact that the negotiations got more than a little testy: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2008/08/more_than_3700_words_from_jim.html. Regardless of the financial details, it sounded like Crow's agents made it tough for everyone. Not saying a lot of that wasn't because of our esteemed ex-GM, but if Crow's agents take the same tack with the Royals as last year then he might have another contentious negotiation.

Posted by: yobigc | July 15, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Catching prospect Derek Norris is going to be promoted from Hagerstown to Potomac shortly. Move not officially released as yet.

Posted by: Brian_ | July 15, 2009 9:37 AM


Good news. I still haven't had a chance to go to Woodbridge to watch the P-Nats, but now I defintely will.

Posted by: FloresFan | July 15, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Best personnel move for me was releasing D-Cab. And it also gets best quote as to why he was released.

Posted by: VelocityAtrocity | July 15, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure that it is an endorsement of frugality, EdDC. I just think it means less to be a "highly regarded prospect" in baseball than in other sports. The development time is much slower and the failure rate is much higher. I think those two factors lend toward conservatism, which might or might not be reflective of cheapness.
__________________________
The Nats could get lucky with Storen, but I always feel better when the Nats sign the most highly regarded players, not just the cheapest. It's not like the Nats are loaded with talent and can afford to skimp on the draft. Surprisingly, though, a number of posters are on board with the frugality moves.

Posted by: EdDC | July 15, 2009 10:15 AM

Posted by: lowcountry | July 15, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Worst Play for me, was not really a play.

It was Manny not arguing or at least coming out of the dugout to "discuss" with the umps either of the BS HR calls or the balk call on Colome in NY.

It was obvious the team needed to see someone was behind them and cared and no one was there.

That was the ideal spot for Manny to come out and rip an ump and get tossed to light a fire under his guys, and he did nothing.

It was painful and depressing to watch.

I was not a "Manny must go" person until then, after that series, I said to myself "he's got to go, the sooner the quicker"

Posted by: Section505203 | July 15, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

"The development time is much slower and the failure rate is much higher. I think those two factors lend toward conservatism, which might or might not be reflective of cheapness."

You really think this should be the approach, when "building through the draft" is purportedly the keystone of "The Plan"? Wow.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | July 15, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Hey Chico, maybe this would be a good time to revisit the "Official 2009 Predictions" thread....

Posted by: kingrob76 | July 15, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Lots of intervening posts, but thanks to gilbert. Didn't know they had independent teams on b-r.

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 15, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Crow took some Boras advice and is trying out in Japan?

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | July 15, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Yes, because if your draft picks go bust then you are really in trouble. Imagine the scenario where you sign SS for $$$ (fill in the blank) and he never throws a major league pitch. A much more likely scenario than Blake Griffiths never playing in an NBA game (although Trailblazer fans might chime here)

I think, CIL, that this is why the philosophical sea-change from Bowden to Rizzo could prove to be very important. Rizzo seems to be looking for players who have more information from which to project - most notably college players. It is, in theory, a less-risk (but probably less-reward) venture but it since he needs to succeed it is really the only safe way to do so. How many more Lastings Milledges can the Nats stand?

It might make next years pick a very interesting one because, on the surface at least, everything about Bryce Harper (?) runs contrary to the approach Rizzo advocated this year.

________________________________
You really think this should be the approach, when "building through the draft" is purportedly the keystone of "The Plan"? Wow.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | July 15, 2009 10:29 AM

Posted by: lowcountry | July 15, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Most annoying NJ discussion topics:

1. Stephen Strasburg negotiation grumblings.
2. Anything having to do with Aaron Crow.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | July 15, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

yobigc,

I see your point about the agents. I wish the agents for Crow had been as nice as Storen's were. In fact, I wish Crow had signed for below slot.

It's just that other teams deal successfully with testy agents. I gave you an example of how the O's signed Wieters in a similar midnight deadline negotiating situation, where real numbers were not even exchanged until past the 11th hour. And Wieters signed for 63 percent more money than Crow asked for. I can dig up a site for that if you like.

Let's say the agents were terribly testy while Bowden and the Lerners were their usual charming selves:

I think it came down to a business decision. It is 11;45 pm. Do you want to spend the money or not? Time to put testy personalities aside and just say yes or no. The number is there staring at you. Yes or no? The agents gambled on yes, but the Nats said no.

So move onto 2009, draft a guy who was regarded as a late first rounder, and sign him for under slot. It could work out, but you are better off drafting for talent.

I have often been lectured that the idea is not to get talent, but value, defined as talent per dollar.

Posted by: EdDC | July 15, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I always find it puzzling when I hear that some major-league baseball players need to have a fire lit under them to perform at their best.

Professional sports is arguably the one place were absolutely nothing matters more than your job performance. Affirmative action doesn't enter into the picture when you're looking for a bullpen closer. Diversity means squat if you can't hit. Being a nice guy in the clubhouse or a suckup to management doesn't work for long; you'll be DFA'd the minute your bosses think they can make more money by getting rid of you (do you think for a moment that Austin Kearns would still be on the roster if the Nats could get rid of him and his salary?).

In short, you have to be one of the 700 or so best baseball players in the entire country to keep your job, even on a part-time basis.

Your job security in this business is precarious. Why anyone thinks he can loaf and be assured of continued employment is beyond me.

Posted by: gilbertbp | July 15, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Highlight:
The new and improved glass veranda at the Red Porch Restaurant. What?!!!!!

Stan is an idiot if he thinks people care about that crap more than the team play.

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 15, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

NJ Highlight:
Bowden resigning

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 15, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Who cares about Aaron Crow anymore? That's long over, at least from a Nats perspective. Why is this the subject of such discussion now?

Since we're revisiting the past, what was Bob Short thinking in trading Auerlio Rodriguez, Ed Brinkman AND Joe Coleman for a wore-out Denny McLain? Joe Foy never panned out, and neither did Don Wert.

If you really want to discuss a move that damaged this franchise, think about the Milledge trade, where 25 percent of the major league starting lineup was traded for an overated kid with a bad attitude that couldn't field fly balls and couldn't even be on time for his on surgery (because he got hurt because he couldn't bunt without breaking his hand.)

Posted by: raymitten | July 15, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

dclifer, I suspect that there ARE people who care more about the Red Whatever than the team on the field.

We prolly don't see too many of them in here, though, so we should all mock them mercilessly. (Right after we DFA natsfan1a.)

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 15, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I missed the DFA 1a joke, can someone dig it up out of the archives? Hmm, who would be good at that?

So, question gang, who do we fire next?

Posted by: Section506 | July 15, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

lowcountry, Strasburg is an anomaly as far as expense is concerned. But for all the other guys, you are not "really in trouble" if the draft pick goes bust, because the marginal expense is just not that much money. But by being "conservative" you are seriously constraining how good your guys might be. Which is a scary thought when the owners are cheap everywhere else and won't jump in with the big boys (do you think Mark Lerner still thinks Johan Santana is not worth the money?) such that you are almost completely dependent on the draft to improve. Every other team is drafting too, you know.

Would you rather have Rick Porcello, or Ross Detwiler? Even if you succeed only 1 out of 2 times (some of the Tigers' high-risk picks have busted, for example), you're still ahead. I would take Verlander and Porcello together over any 2 starters who the Nats have today--wouldn't you?

Just as an example, the difference between Crow and Storen was a couple million dollars--less than 1 of Dmitri's wasted contract years. So are the Nats "really in trouble" because of the idiotic contract that JimBo gave to Dmitri?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | July 15, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Agree with 505203 on this one. When Manny just sat there and let Dunn do all the arguing on the HR call, he lost me.

Interesting stuff in Chico's piece this morning - he lets Milledge slide (repeatedly) for showing up late, but calls out Dunn, one of the only players to show anything this year, for a mistake (admittedly, a really dopey one). That lack of consistency must have driven the team crazy.

Posted by: Bethesdangit | July 15, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

"I always find it puzzling when I hear that some major-league baseball players need to have a fire lit under them to perform at their best."

Best quote of the day.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | July 15, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

505203, Bethesdangit: it was very odd seeing a player be the one to jog over to an umpire and ask what the heck was going on. Usually, the instant a player starts talking with an ump, the manager is up and out of the dugout.

Plus, Bethesdangit catches another one that surprised me: Milledge was late "several times" -- in a WEEK?

(Looks like there's a new post. Should annoy 1a. Heh.)

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 15, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Not willing to give up on Dukes yet. He's crazy talented.

Posted by: kingtutts | July 15, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Worst play is Tyler Clippard's balk during an intentional walk Sunday in Houston.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | July 15, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

congrats to zimmerman last night

http://www.comcastsportsnet.tv/pages/landing?blockID=63965&feedID=258

Posted by: nattylite88 | July 15, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

The other thing that came out of the whole Strasburg/Golden Spikes thing yesterday was that of the pitching finalists, only one had signed -- A.J. Morris of Kansas State, who was a fourth-round pick by your Washington Nationals. If I'm Rizzo, and my major league roster is what it is, maybe the priority when drafting these guys isn't money but a question of, "Are you going to play baseball this summer or sit on your butt while your agent 'negotiates'?" Sometimes those answers go hand in hand with money, but personally, I would want to get as many kids into my system as soon as possible, and I have no problem saying that guys like Storen and Morris (who hasn't debuted yet but is close) are well ahead of guys like Crow and Mike Leake and all the other guys who seem to want a gap year after college.

Posted by: mjhoya12 | July 15, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

aagh CIL - I'm trying to get work done!

I don't think that we disagree all that much. I'm not opposed to having a more diversified plan, signing Johan Santana, or even seeing the owners spend more money. But when it comes to the draft, the Nats need to be more successful than all of the other teams because the Montreal stock was decimated.

I believe (with no supporting evidence) that Mike Rizzo would rather have 20 solid MLB prospects right now than one potential all-star. That is the only way to re-stock the system.

As for Porcello, it is too soon to tell but the prognosis is certainly in favor of the Tigers. Barring injury, he will most likely be a better pitcher than Detwiler. But, (my point) the Tigers could take that risk because they had Verlander. While at the same time, the Nats had John Patterson. And twenty-five other teams also passed on Porcello.

I don't know whether or not the Lerners are cheap. I have never met them. But what I have tried to suggest is that there is a logic to Rizzo's personnel evaluation in the draft that goes beyond the litmus of cheap or liberal.

Posted by: lowcountry | July 15, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

"I don't know whether or not the Lerners are cheap. I have never met them."
____________________________________________________________

They may spend money like drunken sailors in every other aspect of their lives but, when it comes to baseball, Yes, they are extremely cheap.


Posted by: Section505203 | July 15, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Sorry about the distraction, lowcountry ;-). Last point--the Tigers had Verlander because they took a risk with him also, and went over slot to get him, too. My point is, it has to start somewhere--and it should have started a couple years ago for the Nats. That was what "The Plan" was supposed to be about.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | July 15, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I'm hoping it starts this year. I expect they will go over slot with Strasburg - let's just hope Strasburg appreciates the gesture. I do take some solace though in the appearance that Rizzo and Boone seemingly had soem authority in regards to the 2007 and 2008 drafts. I do beleive we wil ge there - the sooner the better.

On a related note (and something for another time), somehting we never talk about around here: if we are going to build through the draft we better have some top quality instructors/coaches in our minor league system.
______________________________
Sorry about the distraction, lowcountry ;-). Last point--the Tigers had Verlander because they took a risk with him also, and went over slot to get him, too. My point is, it has to start somewhere--and it should have started a couple years ago for the Nats. That was what "The Plan" was supposed to be about.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | July 15, 2009 11:47 AM

Posted by: lowcountry | July 15, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Most Knuckle-headed Disciplinary Move:
Manny Acta fining Elijah Dukes for spending an extra half hour with little leaguers.

Posted by: nattydread1 | July 15, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

1. Hard to top a balk during an intentional walk

2. On the radio, Charlie could barely contain his disgust when Manny failed to come out to argue the bad HR calls.

3. Dukes still has potential. His stint in the minors will prove how he controls himself.

4. Hanrahan got hung out to dry and should not have been put in the closer position like he was and then yanked around about whether he stays.

5. Kearns is a good guy but needs to go.

6. Belliard can probably go too.

7. Deal Nick and get Dunn ready to play first. If so, perhaps Dukes comes back for RF.

8. Make Willingham a regular.

9. The starting pitching will be fine for the long-term. Fix the bullpen for the long-term.

10. The Post needs to do a much, much better job covering the Nats farm system, i.e. if they win a championship in Potomac, don't wait two days before Chico files two paragraphs while covering the big club in Miami.

Posted by: UrbanShocker | July 15, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

When your team is the laughingstock of all of the four major pro sports, there is no "highlight" to the first half of the season.

Shape up or leave town. Period.

Posted by: BrokenClipboard | July 15, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

There is a tendency to think that the Nats do not need the big talent guys, the big arms and costly position players. The feeling is that if the Nats are wise and draft conservatively for value, sign free agents for value, and trade for value, then the Nats could be almost as well off as they could be if they spent up to an average MLB level.

CoverageisLacking is so right. Detwiler was the conservative pick in 2007. Detwiler was a slot guy. Porcello was an expensive pick, a $7 million guy who has all the tools--not a conservative move at all. And he cost in between the LoDuca and Dmitri contracts (significant money but not break-the-bank money).

So Porcello was a risk for the Tigers, and Crow was a smaller risk money-wise for the Nats, but I'll take the guys with all the tools. Detwiler and Storen could turn out to be fine, but wouldn't you want to take a chance on the best talent instead of conservative "value"?

The percentages say that you go for talent, even if you have to pay for it at the MLB average level. Rizzo, like Bowden before him, operates within a budget. Rizzo cannot deliver the Nats into a contending situation just through wisdom and getting lucky with under-slot guys. At some point you have to invest.

If you do not know whether the Lerners are cheap or not, have you looked at the investment numbers?

Posted by: EdDC | July 15, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I second natscan (good to see you!) and gilbert here. Why is it not sufficient motivation to have a job that many others strive for but can never achieve? And, what the heck, maybe to want to give the fans good value for their money.

---

... so the players wanted Manny to be more stern and more demanding. The players have it wrong - all wrong. No one can say they would be willing to work harder and do better if only someone else would push them. Life doesn't work that way. And when it comes to wishing someone would hold another player's feet to the fire, again, no go. Players need to look after how they perform, how they behave, how they respect their team and organization, and let that organization deal with anyone who needs it. Players, look at your performance and leave the counselling of discipline to those who have that right.
Go Nats!!
Posted by: natscanreduxit | July 15, 2009 9:34 AM |

I always find it puzzling when I hear that some major-league baseball players need to have a fire lit under them to perform at their best.
Professional sports is arguably the one place were absolutely nothing matters more than your job performance. Affirmative action doesn't enter into the picture when you're looking for a bullpen closer. Diversity means squat if you can't hit. Being a nice guy in the clubhouse or a suckup to management doesn't work for long; you'll be DFA'd the minute your bosses think they can make more money by getting rid of you (do you think for a moment that Austin Kearns would still be on the roster if the Nats could get rid of him and his salary?).
In short, you have to be one of the 700 or so best baseball players in the entire country to keep your job, even on a part-time basis.
Your job security in this business is precarious. Why anyone thinks he can loaf and be assured of continued employment is beyond me.
Posted by: gilbertbp | July 15, 2009 10:59 AM |

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 15, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Off the top of my head:

Best victory: I did like the Lannan victory against the Yanks.
Worst defeat: Your choice from a wide selection of blown saves by the 'pen.
MVP: I'd go with Lannan, sure.
LVP: I love him, but if he doesn't get back on the field in DC and remains on the 40-man all season, I might be inclined to go with DY.
Top play: Not sure. Lots of Willie highlights playing in my brain.
Worst play: Maybe because I was there and surrounded by Phillies Phans but Hernandez playing dodgeball with a Colome throw to first comes to mind.
Best personnel move: TBD but I'm liking the Pirates trade.
Poorest personnel move: um, Cabrera? Can the entire opening day bullpen be a poor personnel move?
Toughest injury: Flores with Bernadina as runner up. Aside: do they need to reconfigure that wall, or what?
Most pleasant surprise: ...crickets...um...Dibble?
Biggest disappointment: The bullpen, I guess.
Best quote: Seems like we had some other good ones but I'm drawing a blank right now. I'm sure that Dibble has uttered a number of worthy candidates.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 15, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I don't consider "Storen" a slot pick. He has quickly adapted to his new league and is beginning to dominate in a relief role. Needs be said that he has to do this at every level if he can.

I am hopeful that Trevor Holder the 4th pick will be able to learn something ... he pitched many, many more innings (including a couple of College World Series) than Steven Strasberg during his college career. He's a work horse ... hopefully the pitching coaches the Nats hired can help him improve.

What's the balance between farms and free agents? You've got at least 2 catchers (3 including Flores) on the way. But only one first baseman. There are around 6 or 7 outfielders, a position of need, and there is no way that Dunn and Willingham are permanent solutions for any team in the National League. They are AL DH's.

Trading Nick Johnson creates problems doesn't resolve them ... I doubt they will get very much for him because of his age. Nor Guzman.

The best "trade bait" is Zimmerman, Dunn, Willingham, and young starting pitching.

Posted by: periculum | July 15, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I agree, Hanrahan, and Hinckley were both very young and got hung out to dry ... both needed more time in AAA. That was a mistake on the part of Nats management using up their options. They've got to get better at this ... still think the Lerners, who I am told here are the five-and-dime SS Kresge's of baseball, need to put a AAA franchise in Hawaii in the Pacific Coast League. Then even the most talented guys won't mind as much when asked to go down to work on their skills.

Posted by: periculum | July 15, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Most baseball players are young men in their 20's. How many 20ish young men in your workplace don't need an occasional kick in the butt to stay focused? That's just the nature of "still growing up".

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | July 15, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

>Last point--the Tigers had Verlander because they took a risk with him also, and went over slot to get him, too. My point is, it has to start somewhere--and it should have started a couple years ago for the Nats. That was what "The Plan" was supposed to be about.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | July 15, 2009 11:47 AM |

Agreed. I defended The Plan, which was supposed to be about investing in the farm system through the draft and international signings, enduring a few lean years without big-ticket free agents and then reaping the benefits of a deep farm system, both in prospects that reach the majors and in others that can be traded for the missing pieces. Three drafts into the Lerner regime, there is precious little evidence that The Plan is actually being implemented. I find that extremely disappointing.

Posted by: BobLHead | July 15, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

while I'm sure that there will be many fantastic posts of the day, I'm going to nominate dargramag, solely because he used three periods and two commas, a first!

just kidding darg, I enjoy the point and passion of your posts.

One little caveat that I would like to enter into the (I think) CiL, lowcountry debate (with some BobL flava-flave) is that all of your points and counterpoints neglect to mention JimBow.

I could be wrong on this, but JimBow was never a scout. Rizzo is/was. So when JimBow suited up for draft season, he got all excited about fast, toolsy high schoolers. Again, I may be wrong on this, but I believe as a whole, high schoolers sign for significantly less than college players. This would affect our ability to have those "high profile" signings that CiL is talking about.

With Rizzo, we now our scouting the college players more and selecting specific ones because of Rizzo's instincts. Holder stands out here. Does it matter, ultimately, that we overpay for a player? I think it matters more that we discover the player and sign him. If Holder turns into a productive major leaguer, or (I think Rizzo said this) a Webb 2.0, the Plan will have succeeded without the big money.

...And we might get Svlurga to do some more guesting just to watch a sinker...

So I guess my big points are: 1) Rizzo and Bowden have drastically different ideas on how to implement the plan.
2) Money isn't as much a factor as one might think, unless you're talking about the Verlander/Price/Strasburg tier of hyped college ball dominators, which don't come along every year.

Posted by: NattyDelite | July 15, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Following up Lannan's 3-2 gem was Stammen's 1-0 win (I think) which was also very sweet. Have to agree that game against the Phillies was completely depressing and an omen for things to come.

I for one sure wouldn't mind seeing an outfield next year with Nyjer Morgan and Roger Bernadina in it. Maybe they could play with two outfielders and a shortfielder.

Pleasant surprises are the young pitchers' maturation; Bard and Nieves doing a great job; Alberto Gonzalez looking solid; and dumping Milledge and Dukes. Hopefully someone will bite on Dukes and give us something interesting - maybe Pittsburgh will send us Freddy Sanchez. Willingham is also some good trade bait now that he's hitting. I like him but you basically have two DHs in the outfield with Nyjer running down anything that's hit two steps from Dunn and Willingham.

Here's to an encouraging second half.

Posted by: AsstGM | July 15, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Worst weekend at Nationals Park had to be the first weekend home stand in April vs Marlins. Great weather too!

The Friday Night 9th inning implosion by GasCan Hanrahan. Cody Ross goes deep with two out and the Nats blow a 2-1 victory.

The Saturday Afternoon Bull Pen implosion again in the 9th, the Nats give up three with the Marlins tying the game only to have the Fish score 3 more i the 11th to take the game 9-6. Roger B shatters ankle in that game too (I think).

The Sunday Afternnon debacle, they took a lead into the ninth inning for the third successive game against the Marlins, and for the third consecutive game, they were unable to hold it as Saul Rivera exploded and allowed four runs. Nats lose 7-4.

Those three games in particular set the pace for the next 84. Manny-0-Manny

Posted by: TippyCanoe | July 15, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

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