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Nats 5, Marlins 4

If you were introduced to the following series of sentences one month ago, you would have rightfully suspected the author of dementia, or at least some serious factual errors.

1.) The Washington Nationals won a one-run game (5-4) against the Florida Marlins.

2.) Not only that, but they won this one-run game when Mike MacDougal struck out Hanley Ramirez. (Yes, arch-nemesis Hanley Ramirez. Based on what we've been conditioned for this season, I sooner expected Ramirez to hit a bases-empty three-run homer than whiff to end the game.)

3.) Thursday afternoon, the Nats go for the series sweep against Florida.

Seriously. It's all true. The Nats, in this latest victory, got six innings (two earned runs) from John Lannan, a B-plus start. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn connected on back-to-back homers in the first, building a lead that Washington never relinquished. The lineup created a few more runs, helped by two RBI from Cristian Guzman (24-for-51 in his last 12 games) and a homer from Ronnie Belliard. Then the bullpen, after a little spasm from Sean Burnett, held things together in the final innings, setting down the final seven in a row. Mind you, Washington's relievers have a 3.27 ERA since the all-star break. Bizarro indeed.

In my gamer, I devoted a few paragraphs to the numerous delicate moments that turned this one into a win. But for now, I'll cede the floor to Lannan. Washington, by the way, has now won 10 of 16.

Q: The fact that you guys are now winning not only one-run games, but games where a lot of little things have to go right, and doing it against the Marlins of all teams -- is that kind of a sign that things are starting to turn around a little?

LANNAN: We definitely wouldn't have won these last two games earlier in the season. Our attitude has changed, and it's a good sign. We're finishing this year strong, and we're not giving up, which is a great sign for the rest of this year and going into next year. We know we can compete. This year really didn't go our way, but we're going to finish strong.

Q: Why has the attitude changed?

LANNAN: Just because we're putting wins together. We're getting those key hits and we're pitching, and when things start coming our way that attitude can change. And Riggleman has done a great job, and so has Cat (Steve McCatty), and they've stepped up in times when we can get down on ourselves, so they've done a great job and I think we're all getting along and contributing.

By Chico Harlan  |  August 5, 2009; 11:12 PM ET
 
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Next: Hernandez Traded Back To Mets For Minor Leaguer

Comments

eight more wins and the national media can stop comparing the nats to the '62 mets.

Posted by: surly_w | August 5, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

I swear MacDougal is going to give me an ulcer. But it was VERY fun to be at the game tonight. Almost none of the crowd left before the final out. Amost as much fireworks as on a Friday night. :)

Where do you get the quesidillas? I had a yummy, spicy, half-smoke...

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 5, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Repost (darnit):
----
JIMMY! It's AWWN!

(just back from Duffys -- MUCH more fun when we're winning!)

FYI - just off the Green Line from the park at U street metro...

Keep it going Nats!

Posted by: mo_dc | August 5, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

great posting as usual tonight, surly! i hate walks, nice pickup (as usual) on Nyjer's conversation re: pickoff tells, and it IS more fun to have a team that wins half the time - 2005 ended up at 81-81, and the Lerners were too cheap to keep it up. May you have many Gifford milkshakes in your future! And Positively Half Street, if you're reading, I will re-post my earlier tribute.

Posted by: flynnie2 | August 5, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

surly_w, the Nats just need 5 wins to top the '62 Mets (40-120). Our goal should be the '63 Nats (56-106), the expansion team's nadir: just 20 wins. The Nats are back to .333, so 21-33 will do it, if my math is right.

Posted by: nats24 | August 5, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Positively Half Street !!! Hello!! I'd no idea you were still with us! - If you go to the Posts "help" page and send them an e-mail asking them to delete your account, you can then open another one - with your original, memorable and ingenious handle! No disrespect to Costello, a name that goes back to 4th century graveyards in Tipperary, and is covered in glory! I was just quoting you after the Pittsburg win - your unforgettable description of "that improbable, giddy feeling" that lasts all day after a Nats win. Wonderful to see that you're still here!

Posted by: flynnie2 | August 5, 2009 6:51 PM

Posted by: flynnie2 | August 5, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to see a sweep of the Marlins tomorrow - I might have to go home sick from work after lunch :) By the way, this is now five consecutive series where we've won two games. Way to go!

Posted by: BGinVA | August 5, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Nat_Lady - McDougal is a faster version of Colome - He is Colomeic in his love of a 3-2 count - EVERY batter in the 9th! - and in the sense that you get that he is throwing dice. He throws hard, but has no idea where it's going to end up, and looks like he rolled sevens it it lands in the zone.

Posted by: flynnie2 | August 5, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh, well. I wanted Padilla to get the start. Hopefully he gets an at-bat today. The kid has waited long enough, and earned this.

As for the manager, it has to be Bobby Valentine. He takes young teams to the next level, if not all the way.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | August 5, 2009 5:11 PM |

++++++++++++++++++HALF STREET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: flynnie2 | August 5, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

And welcome back to natsfan1a!!! I cannot imagine on what Natless stretch of earth or water you spent the last few days, but I know it is the better for it, and I hope you are!

Posted by: flynnie2 | August 5, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

A 1-2-3 Ninth with the top of the order. Four saves in a row. Can we give MacDougal a little love here? I guess you guys never had to deal with closers like John Franco, who felt it was his duty to put men on base to excite the crowd.

Posted by: nats24 | August 5, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know Lannan's velocity tonight? Dibble said it was down in Pittsburgh, which worries me to death. Lannan got knocked around there, and that was Dibs' explanation, but I don't know that Dibs understood the pitchf/x system posted on the scoreboard at PNC, which will show a lower velocity than a radar gun. (Dibs said he didn't know what the negative break numbers meant - they show how much the pitch breaks from a straight line.)

Posted by: flynnie2 | August 5, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

A couple things to reflect on, since i'm not sleepy:

- I don't recall much criticism of Willingham's "Hines Ward route" (can't think of an appropriate pattern-guy on the Skins) on that ball to left. Not pretty. Anyone else would've been skewered here -- equal opp?

- Guz is on a tear!
- Lannan had a rough first 3 innings, but came back strong in 4&6
- Belly nailed that HR, but he's gotta get back to shortening that swing.
- Florida has a ton of ex-Nat relievers. I've always been an Ayala fan! He was lights out for a while there - remember he and Ray King as the levees, post-Katrina?
- Good luck Padilla.

- I was away during much of the recent honors to Expos fans of old skipped a near and dear name to me and many NJ old-timers (4 years): Natscan Reduxit!
Mon ami dans la belle province, salut to you! Your avid fanship for your beloved departed team is still remembered!

Posted by: mo_dc | August 5, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

For some reason I turned on Sportscenter just now and they actually gave the Nats some props tonight. Nice...

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | August 5, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Everyone passed over this post, which breaks genuine news on our blog, the kind of news with sources. Thanks to nats24 for sharing! Maybe Kearnsie's problem can be fixed! Is "nats24" a tribute to Nick Johnson?
*****************************************

Regarding Kearns thumb, I had occasion to ask Tim Nehring, who was scouting director for the Reds last year, why Kearns was doing so poorly, and he said Kearns hurt his thumb with the Reds and was never the same, which is why he was dealt to the Nats. (I have seats at a minor league park near where the scouts often sit).

To me, this confirms that Kearns as a Nat has never really been right at the plate.

Posted by: nats24 | August 5, 2009 10:40 PM

Posted by: flynnie2 | August 6, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

That was the 9th best win of the year!

Seriously, Nats Nut, dude, bubila, I accessed the link you sent me a few weeks ago. The article was well-written but superficial. The first five links on Google for "how to google from cell phone" turned up similarly superficial, or unhelpful articles. .7 seconds to get the links, an infinite amount of time to read lazy people's junk. The most common mistake the on-line guides make is in their description of what is available on my settings page so that I can activate my cell phone for tweeting.

So as long as Jon DeNunzio keeps rubbing us non-tweeters' noses in it by asking us to do something that he (and no one else among the cognoscenti) doesn't take the time to explain, I will continue griping.

I also want to say that it is really bizarre who the people are who are "following" me. People who have somehow found me, who know me, and somehow can't wait for my tweets? I can't wait to satisfy them.

Posted by: paulkp | August 6, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Re Willingham and Lannan:

The shot to left hooked and sank and was directly over his head--really, a difficult play. It started out to his left and then moved to our left.

Lannan's pitches were up tonight. He walked the tightrope quite well, but it definitely was a shaky outing. Velocity wasn't an issue, I don't think.

Posted by: paulkp | August 6, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

@fylnnie2:
thanks for noticing. I got reposted real fast. But, no, my handle is obvious: DC's great World Championship year: 1924. Bucky Harris and I share a birthday.

Posted by: nats24 | August 6, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

So with Kearns having had this thumb problem since before he was traded, is there any way we can re-hire Jim Bowden for an hour (and even that would be generous) just to be able to tell him "You're fired" live on MASN, followed by a public flogging?

Posted by: Juan-John | August 6, 2009 12:39 AM | Report abuse

LANNAN: We definitely wouldn't have won these last two games earlier in the season. Our attitude has changed, and it's a good sign.

In other words - ACTA. So good to have just a decent team. Feels so good.

Posted by: charley42 | August 6, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

nats24, what a hopeful handle! Thanks for sharing your conversation with Nehring! Do you think he was justifying the Majewski trade?

Also, I checked MLB.com Gameday - Lannan stayed between 89-82 mph. The Marlins pitchers all got to the 90's - even Ayala registered a 93. Lannan threw a few 72 mph curves with a 15 inch break, but, for the most part, he lived at 88-82mph. I don't know how to get to his last game in Pittsburgh, or his games from the beginning of the year, to compare.

Posted by: flynnie2 | August 6, 2009 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Vin Scully: They say that Prince Fielder can press 1,000 pounds 12 times with his legs. That is a very big man!

Posted by: flynnie2 | August 6, 2009 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Figured it out - you just click "previous" until you get to Lannan's previous start, the July 31 5-4 loss to the Pirates. Lannan's velocity seemed much the same as tonight. Going back to the brilliant 3-2 win against the Yankees on June 17, there's a lot of 90 mph pitches, a lot more 89's, but the 90 mph makes its last appearance in the 7th. Maybe Ladson explains it: "Long Island native John Lannan elevated his game against the team he grew up supporting, taking a no-hitter into the fifth and holding the Yankees to four hits over 8 1/3 innings."

Posted by: flynnie2 | August 6, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse

JIMMY! IT'S ON!
Posted by: Various
+++++++
Okay, if y'all are gonna keep doing this, and it's gonna be a thing, please indulge me by answering one question: Huh?

Posted by: Scooter_ | August 6, 2009 2:14 AM | Report abuse

Congrats again to our NATS!!...Now I wish I was in position and location to attend the exciting brand of games the Nats have been doing...and doing it for fun...What a big improvement they've made since the All-Star break!!! How exciting Nyger has been as our all-around leadoff batter...being a sparkplug of our now lively team...fun to watch; and fun to attend the games now....If they keep this up, I may even consider taking a flight to DC to see some games...haven't seen a "live" game since way back in '62 when I graduated from school in DC....Great power hitting from Dunn,Zimm and Josh!! May the team continue their winning ways to end the season on an optimistic note and much to look forward to next year!! Go-Go Nats, we the loyal fans are proud of you!

Posted by: fbacolod29 | August 6, 2009 4:45 AM | Report abuse

When Riggleman gave Burnett the hook after two batters, did anyone else wonder whether Manny would have done the same?

Posted by: JamesWebster | August 6, 2009 5:35 AM | Report abuse

Flynnie-

Thanks for remembering, and for your knowledge of Irish heritage. Frustration can drive me into hibernation, but I still read the conversation. So many of you have more insightful things to say than national sports writers who swoop down from the heights to flick a lazy talon at the Nats every now and then.

I will do as you say with the account, at least as soon as I redeem my PostPoints. Having my actual name as my user ID is a big reason I am less interested in contributing

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | August 6, 2009 5:39 AM | Report abuse

Chico, great sentence!

"...Hanley Ramírez, the arch-nemesis who, in April or May, would have sooner hit a bases-empty three-run homer against the Nats than whiffed."

Posted by: NatsNut | August 6, 2009 5:51 AM | Report abuse

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story or attitude, flynnie2. Yes, the Nats were 81-81 in 2005 but it was MLB, not the Lerners who were "too cheap" to keep that team even somewhat intact.

I am so sick of reading about the "cheap Lerners." Were they cheap when they plunked down $450 mil for the team? How about more recently when they picked up the rest of NJ's contract so that we could make the trade? Just who is it that all these people think the Nats could have signed for zillions of dollars that the "cheap Lerners" haven't signed? For Chr*** sake, they didn't sign one draft choice. Have they done everything I hoped they would? Absolutely not. Have they shown good judgement all the time? No. But somehow even when the team is going well or does something - the Johnson trade - that isn't cheap at all, all you hear is the "cheap Lerners." If you insist on going on with this, at least get your facts straight.

Posted by: truke | August 6, 2009 6:25 AM | Report abuse

When Riggleman gave Burnett the hook after two batters, did anyone else wonder whether Manny would have done the same?


Posted by: JamesWebster | August 6, 2009 5:35 AM
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Faster hook and most of the time the forethought to have another reliever warming (just in case).

In Burnett's defense, he didn't get any borderline strike calls. In Manny's defense, there was no defense.

Zim got #4 Web Gem last night for that play with bases loaded. Amazing!!!!!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | August 6, 2009 6:28 AM | Report abuse

What evidence do we have that the Lerner's are not running this team on the cheap?

They fielded a team in 2007 that many expected to be historically awful, but somehow wasn't. The 2008 team lost 102 games and failed to sign their #1 pick - or failed to do their due diligence about what it would take to sign him.

For 2008, they wouldn't sign Orlando Hudson and didn't address the bullpen until the last minute. THey did sign Dunn, but only after it seemed like no one else would sign him and he had to take the Nats offer. Yes, they made a big offer to Teixeira, but he was never coming here anyway.

They haven't made a big splash with international signings.

They haven't actively filled in the roster with free agents and for the market size, this team has a low payroll. Not even a middle-of-the-road payroll.

So, I ask - what evidence is there that the Lerners are not running the team on the cheap?

Posted by: comish4lif | August 6, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

This just in: Morgan is fast; Dunn is powerful; and Lannan is a "crafty lefthander".

Morgan's speed demonstrated its value multiple times last night - that man has wings on his heels.

The back to backs were similarly impressive. And whihle Dunn will never remind anyone of Kieth Hernandez he is beginning to look like he can hold his own against Bill Buckner. Maybe 1B is his best on-field position.

Now if we could just get some middle infield defensive range ....

Posted by: natbiscuits | August 6, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Truke -- I'm with you on this one. Don't forget also that the Lerners are learning the ropes of MLB ownership. They wouldn't have made billions if they didn't have some decent business sense, but MLB ownership is another box of worms.

I don't fault the Lerners for being cheap. I fault them for being too patient. Seeing what we're seeing these past 20 or so games shows that the management of the team should have been replaced in May, not July. Had that happened, with the talent on this team we'd be skirting .500 ball by now.

I wrote to the Lerners at the beginning of June to express my displeasure with the way the team was going and got back a note saying they were looking into ways to fix the problems. As you can see, they did, and the results are quite enjoyable.

So this year we'll end up 57-105, 2-1/2 games worse than last year, which, given the circumstances isn't sooooooo horrible.

And next year will be better!

Go NATS! Go CAPS!

Posted by: luv2bikva | August 6, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

"we're looking into ways to fix the problem" - sheer genius from the Lerners. Everyone and the mother knew that Manny Acta was a problem and that something needed to be done and they let Kenny Rosenthal bully them into not firing Manny.

I'd be with you and the Lerner being patient concept - but with Stan KAsten as BB Pres, the Lerners should have been listening to him. But they are billionaires that "know better" so we suffered through 3 years of Jim Bowden's teams....

Posted by: comish4lif | August 6, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

>So with Kearns having had this thumb problem since before he was traded, is there any way we can re-hire Jim Bowden for an hour (and even that would be generous) just to be able to tell him "You're fired" live on MASN, followed by a public flogging?

Posted by: Juan-John

They'd have to fire him again due to the fact that he signed him to an extension AFTER they acquired him.

Posted by: Brue | August 6, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Going today for the Fish fry sweep!
Hope the rain exits soon.

Last night makes 4 in-a-row for the third time this year. Today it's #5 for the first time this year.

Go Nats!

Posted by: alm1000 | August 6, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

"When Riggleman gave Burnett the hook after two batters, did anyone else wonder whether Manny would have done the same?"

Posted by: JamesWebster

I was thinking the very same thing during the game. Riggleman seems to have an intuition regarding when to pull the pitcher that Acta did not. With all things in baseball this is a very subtle thing and maybe my perceptions are colored by the wins.

Posted by: driley | August 6, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

>For Chr*** sake, they didn't sign one draft choice. Have they done everything I hoped they would? Absolutely not. Have they shown good judgement all the time? No. But somehow even when the team is going well or does something - the Johnson trade - that isn't cheap at all, all you hear is the "cheap Lerners." If you insist on going on with this, at least get your facts straight.

Posted by: truke

They could have signed a real manager three years ago instead of the idiot they hired for cheap. Then some of these FAs might have wanted to come here.

Posted by: Brue | August 6, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

>When Riggleman gave Burnett the hook after two batters, did anyone else wonder whether Manny would have done the same?"

Posted by: JamesWebster

I was thinking the very same thing during the game. Riggleman seems to have an intuition regarding when to pull the pitcher that Acta did not. With all things in baseball this is a very subtle thing and maybe my perceptions are colored by the wins.

Posted by: driley

Knight explained it by saying that Riggleman 'matches up' according to the lineup they're facing, and let's a reliever stay in the game if he's doing well. Acta would have a set way of looking at guys - one is a 6th inning reliever, one is 7th inning, one is 8th inning, one is a closer. So, what happens is that if you use three relievers every night, one of them will have an off night regardless, especially if you ignore matchups. But Acta would put them in there anyway. Acta wasn't paying any attention to the task at hand, only what juncture of the game they were at, and whose role it was to come in at that time. Riggs' way is to bring a guy in regardless of what inning it is and stick with them, which maximizes the bullpen's effectiveness because it gives the other pitchers a break, not having to come in virtually every night.
People should really start watching these pre and post game shows. Seems like you could learn a lot from them. I know I do.

Posted by: Brue | August 6, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Truke,

So what do you call:

-Bottom 5 payrolls for seasons 2007-2009 in a top 8 market.

-Not signing their lst rounder last year.

-Consistently drafting for signability rather than talent level.

-Almost no international signings under their ownership?


I call that about as cheap as you can get. Not to mention cheating and stunting a fan base.

I'm curious, what would you call it?

Posted by: Section505203 | August 6, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I remember some posters commenting that they were going to withhold judgement regarding Riggleman until they saw the results of playing against the Marlins. Maybe this team is coming around on its own, and Riggleman just happens to be the steward of it at the right time. Where Manny seemed tone-deaf to the manner in which the players where performing (i.e. sticking with Kearns in right, Hanranhan, Milledge, locking in the batting order, et cetera) Riggleman has been more fluid. He has run more hit and runs, shifted the batting order, listened to Guzman's need to bat second. In other words Manny seemed content to let things play out, winning was going to be a by-product of his stoic demeanor. Manny never seemed to use the gravitas that a manager has to make the players bend to his will. Riggleman, by contrast puts winning ahead of everything else, all things seemed focused on this one goal. Riggleman is managing like someone who has but three months to make his mark, Acta managed like someone who had 4 years to make his. Riggleman appears to be forcing more positive results from this team than Manny did. The Lerners should be very impressed at this point with their "interim" hire.

Posted by: driley | August 6, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Best part about last night: Guz's triple.

Worst part: Abe blocking my everyone's view during the 7th inning rally. Once again, fan experience my a$$. Note to the Nats, strut out the 20 ft cartoon when we're down 10-0 (or between innings...) and not during the most tense/exciting part of the game!

Posted by: dclifer97 | August 6, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Is it worth even trying to inject rationality? I don't want to be all negative now, because I'm really excited about the good wins. And I feel last night's was much better than the previous game, because I'm not sure you could watch the first seven innings of that game and in any way associate the word "best" with it.

Anyhow. Lannan, immediately credited winning with the change in attitude. Then mentioned Rigs and Cat (nice) as getting on them and forcing them to stay positive (sounds like who?). Nooooooo Manny listed there, sorry gang.

If the Nationals had lost the game, Riggelman's decision to pull Lannan after 102 pitches for a pinch hitter when the score was 5-2 would have gotten a lot more attention. I think it was the right move, but you know who else would do exactly that? Manny Acta. Also, every major league manager in baseball today. But it's still a pet peeve of this blog.

Riggelman playing match ups is nothing that any other major leaguer wouldn't do. Even Frank Robinson played match ups.

Posted by: Section506 | August 6, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Okay, got some responses. Some points valid, others not, but nobody answered any of my questions. Who is it that you think they should have and could have signed? Would Randy Wolf made that much of a difference? As I said before, not signing one draft choice is a pretty poor example and the signability thing doesn't apply across the board. Some have been those choices, others haven't. The payroll point to me really doesn't cut it. Again, reference my question about who is it that they could have signed that would make a difference at this point? What, they should go out and sign a few people just to artificially inflate payroll? I don't like the way they lie to and treat fans either. They've made some bad front office mistakes and, of course, kept Manny far too long. But, as one who saw two teams leave in my lifetime because they said they couldn't make money here (true or not), I don't fault the Lerners or anyone else for trying to make the team profitable. It beats spending another 33 years without a team and I'll give them another couple of years before I pass final judgement on their tenure or willingness to spend money appropriately.

Posted by: truke | August 6, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

"They could have signed a real manager three years ago instead of the idiot they hired for cheap. Then some of these FAs might have wanted to come here."

As I recall, after Frank Robinson was not re-hired they went after Lou Piniella. Piniella did not want to come here. They went after Joe Girardi, who had just been fired by the Marlins. Girardi did not want to come here either. Neither of these turn-downs was based on money. They just did not want to come here. So they were left with signing a first-time manager, because basically the proven, experienced managers did not want to come here. So they signed Acta, who looked good at the time. They gave him a rookie manager contract, two years at rookie manager money, with two option years after that. Acta did a good job his first year, so they picked up his first option year. Then Acta's performance declined, and ultimately he got fired before his second option got picked up.

So could they have signed a real manager three years ago? Perhaps, but they probably would have had to do it at gunpoint because money wasn't a good enough offer to get one here. Did they hire an idiot for cheap instead? No. They hired the wrong guy, who may have ended up managing like an idiot but who didn't look like one when they hired him. And they paid market price for hiring the wrong guy and finding out he was the wrong guy. So, sorry, that's NOT doing it on the cheap.


Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | August 6, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Although the Nats won last night, it wasn't like they played perfect baseball last night.

A big mistake that was swept under the rug costing the Nats a run was Nyjer Morgan throwing to 3B after catching a flyball allowing Henley Ramirez to advance to 2nd after tagging up. He scored on the Uggla's hit.

Can't say that was Riggleman's fault, but the Nats still made 3 mistakes that inning that they didn't get charged an error for (Dukes dropped foul ball and Zimmerman botching a DP grounder and only getting one out).

I'm glad they won, but that game easily could have gone the other way.

Posted by: johndec | August 6, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

OK team, we still have time for some Belliard bashing so I can guarantee another victory over dem fish. Let er Rip folks.

Posted by: cokedispatch | August 6, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Truke, it's not just one unsigned pick. The Nats under the Lerners had the highest unsigned pick in all of baseball in 2006 as well as in 2008. Another sign of their cheapness was the JP Ramirez deal last year--the Nats admitted that they did not have the money to sign him if they had signed Crow. GIven the low-budget MLB payroll and a supposed emphasis on the draft and young talent under "The Plan", there's no other way to describe that approach than cheap. If they liked Ramirez as much as they did and thought it was a good deal, they should have had the money to sign him no matter what happened with Crow.

The Lerners also have put close to nothing into international signings--even before the Smiley "fallout" could be pointed to as justification for their cheapness--though they had professed that international talent was going to be a cornerstone of The Plan.

Even if you forget about MLB payroll completely, evidence of their cheapness abounds.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | August 6, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Section506, yeah Frank did, but not Manny, that's the point.

Posted by: alm1000 | August 6, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

506, I really don't get your repeated postings day after day suggesting that Riggleman makes no difference. It is *the players* in their post-game comments who are repeatedly bringing up his name and the influence that he has had, and saying that he has made a difference. In response, it's as if you're saying that the players are wrong, and he doesn't make a difference.

How often did you see the players, after a win, talk about Manny and his positive influence? Almost never, from what I recall.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | August 6, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

"Who is it that you think they should have and could have signed? Would Randy Wolf made that much of a difference?"

IMO, you are missing the point. The most successful teams (albeit they spend more) are comprised of established major leaguers with younger players playing a role. Your supposition presents the idea of having few established major leaguers (in this case, adding one veteran pitcher to the staff) surrounded by rookies and young players.

In addition, every year, views like your own are presented, as if one signing will make a world of difference. In reality, it will take several of these signings to make a difference, and preferably, they would happen over the course of several years. Meaning: Adam Dunn's signing has been a winner, but has not made the Nats a winner. However, add 3 to 4 more and the picture would be a lot prettier.

Posted by: dclifer97 | August 6, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

"The Lerners also have put close to nothing into international signings--even before the Smiley "fallout" could be pointed to as justification for their cheapness--though they had professed that international talent was going to be a cornerstone of The Plan."

But wait. When they did the Smiley deal which caused them to become more cautious on international signings, wasn't that a rather expensive international signing in and of itself? How can you call them cheap for spending money, getting burned and then deciding to be more cautious before spending money again? If they were cheap they would never have spent that money on Smiley in the first place.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | August 6, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

ABM,

You are correct in the facts of Acta hiring. Glad you finally see the light that he was the wrong guy and he was getting worse not better. It will be years if ever when he gets another chance based on the trend line he posted. My favorite Actaism was his solution to Dukes was recommending self help books.

@506...A month is what you asked for right....is that Aug 15th or so or did you mean a month from yesterday and thus Sept 1 o so? When your ready to face the data on your own terms....please think about last night's decision to pull Burnett.....this was something Acta never would have done.....Rigs looks at the game and reacts based on what is going on, not based on some pre game usage chart like Acta did. The number is anecdotal evidence that Acta did nothing in the clubhouse and said nothing is overwhelming. This is how they played and what many of us suspected for months. So many others would say we do not know because we are not in the clubhouse.....now it is clearer that we do know......day after day we read things from guys like Lannan who are very conservative about their comments.....Acta did nothing to help the team.

Bruce is spot on...Acta managed like this background....Minor league A ball development...Winning was never the focus.

Posted by: JayBeee | August 6, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

>Riggelman playing match ups is nothing that any other major leaguer wouldn't do. Even Frank Robinson played match ups.

Posted by: Section506

So, what you're saying is that Acta wasn't major league because he didn't play matchups. It just proves that Frank and Riggs are watching different games than Manny.

Posted by: Brue | August 6, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

So comish4lif (and others)- you don't give the Lerners any credit for trying to sign Texiera and you dismiss them signing Dunn. They didn't go after Hudson because of concerns that he wasn't healthy; not because they were cheap (hindsight is 20/20).

And who were all of the supposed great international signings from last off-season that they missed out on? Other teams overpaid for some mediocre Japanese players.

And those who complain they go for signability in the draft over talent but then complain when they don't sign every single pick are hypocritical.

Aaron Crow did not want to be a Nat and he and/or his agents screwed up that negotiation - not the Lerners. I hope the Nats sign Strasburg, but if Boras plays hardline on his ridiculous demands they should let him walk too. I know it would look really bad to not sign #1 picks 2 years in a row, but it would be worse to be extorted into overpaying too much so that they can't afford to sign some free agents to fill those gaps that they need to.

Posted by: CoachD1 | August 6, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I still think the most important reason for the improved play is new players, not the new manager. Morgan is a huge addition and Burnett and Clippard have been crucial additions to the bullpen. MacDougald's improvement (which, if I remember correctly, he credited to Acta for telling him to focus on throwing the fastball) gave them the closer they didn't have.

But I think Riggleman has done an excellent job of reading the situation and taking full advantage of the improvements. He's gambling now to a certain extent in keeping the starters on a short leash and using the bullpen more but it's working, at least until the bullpen arms blow up.

I suspect this is more of a hot strech than a turnaround and I worry that the pitching will falter again before the season ends. But for now, it's all sea shells and balloons, as Al McGuire used to say. So chase away the rain and let's play ball today!

Posted by: baltova1 | August 6, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

"How often did you see the players, after a win, talk about Manny and his positive influence? Almost never, from what I recall."

How often do you see the players, after a win, do anything but answer the questions asked by the media, usually in as few words as possible? And how often do you see the media say "Tell me about what it was like under Manny"? Almost never, from what I recall. Just because they never mention Manny's name other than in passing does not mean that all the things they leave unsaid about him are negative.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | August 6, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

> It just proves that Frank and Riggs are watching different games than Manny.

Or in Frank's case, dozing off during them.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | August 6, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

ABM, the point is that Smiley was supposed to be the very beginning, not the peak. One signing for $1.5M can't establish that they're not cheap. Go back and read Kasten and Bowden's comments after signing him about how the W on the Nats' cap stands for "World" and all that crap. But what did they do in '07, before they knew that they had been burned? Nothing. Getting burned one time does not give them a three-year pass.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | August 6, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"They didn't go after Hudson because of concerns that he wasn't healthy; not because they were cheap (hindsight is 20/20)."

Angelos has used the same excuse in squashing deals.

Posted by: dclifer97 | August 6, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

>Riggleman appears to be forcing more positive results from this team than Manny did. The Lerners should be very impressed at this point with their "interim" hire.

Posted by: driley

Riggleman's just the tip of the iceberg. It's impossible not to look like a world-beater following the mess he inherited. There are better managers out there. I'm sure the team got a boost from Riggs, but you have to look at a guy who can motivate people for the long term. I think that after awhile, Riggs might be a shrinking violet, and that's why he runs out of steam everywhere he goes. Being a guy who's detail oriented like Riggs is one thing, and it gets the team headed in the right direction, but you need someone who's going to command respect, someone with prescence. Riggleman's basically a grunt with experience. Which is fine for now. He's getting the most out of his players, and that's what the Nats FO needs in order to assess who to keep and who to get rid of, because under Acta, they really didn't have a clue as to what each guy was capable of.

Posted by: Brue | August 6, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

ABM, if you read the players' comments, they are bringing up Riggleman on their own. And especially in light of the fact that, as you rightly recognize, players usually want to answer in as few words as possible, the meaning of their comments is clear. Now if you choose to ignore what they are saying, that's up to you.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | August 6, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Kids ... stop your griping or I swear I'll turn this car around!

C'mon everyone. Can't we all get along? I swear by reading these one would think the Nats have LOST the last 4 and are on the verge of being swept again by the Marlins. But guess what?! The Nats HAV WON 4 IN A ROW!! And if the weather holds up, have a chance for a sweep (which reminds me, Chico, time for you to say something negative about the Nats - or something positive about the Fish - so we can win this one too). So, ligthen up Francis!

Posted by: erocks33 | August 6, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Acta did play match ups and was regularly crucified on this blog for it. Countless times did we say "why did Acta pull.." and "...because he's a left-hander and so is..."

August 15 is the day I'm happy to break down some numbers and take a look at how we're doing to see if there's a significant difference.

Players always give credit to the manager when things are going well for keeping them positive and working hard, on every team, in every sport. This is also always when they are on a winning clip. It seems perfectly logical to say that winning breeds a positive mood, and it seems like magic to say positive thinking breeds winning. I don't believe in magic.

I don't mind us being happy, but if people are going to be triumphalist and dance on Acta's grave based on sham logical reasoning, something ought to be said.

All I beg for is some rationality or else abandonment of the pretense to it!

Posted by: Section506 | August 6, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

That NatsTown Red flavored Kool-Aid sure is a favorite among some on the NJ.

I'm happy they have won 4 in a row and are about .500 under Riggs, but 36-72 is a punch in the face that brings you quickly back to reality.

Think about that record for a moment, this team is well on it's way to another 100+ loss season. And we have cheap owners, a used car salesman president, an interim GM, and a journeyman manager behind the switch.

And on top of all that it's less than 2 weeks before the deadline on Strasburg and if you'll forgive me, I'm not all that confident a deal will get done.

Posted by: Section505203 | August 6, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

DCLIFER97: Yeah i'm with you on that one Hudson was so unhealthy he made the NL all star team lets get real, the current ownership group is cheap with a capital "C" Rizzo better be the master of smoke and mirrors to deal with this ownership group its hilarious when i see a post about how much money they paid for this franchise as if that's a way to defend their frugality, PLEASE!!! IF YOU DON'T WANT TO RUN WITH THE BIG DOGS THEN........ now lets sweep these bums and send them out of here talking to themselves.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 6, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

After a manager is fired, smart players who remain behind are not going to say bad things about his managing style. Why? Because they may well end up playing under the guy somewhere else. And smart players are also going to avoid saying good things about his managing, because right now they're playing for the new guy and saying good things about the old guy reflects badly on the new guy's managing. So smart players say good things about the current manager and leave it at that. But just because the Nats have smart players doesn't mean they think Manny was a bad manager or a good manager or a meh manager. Ultimately the only criteria for deciding whether or not a manager is any good is if enough owners are willing to let him manage long enough to win a lot of games. Even then, there's no way to say without a doubt that good managing won all those games and not good players.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | August 6, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

And, with the greatest amount of respect for our boys, who have miles and miles of heart and who I appreciate entertaining me for 162 nights every year, most of them did drop out of college or not even attend college so they could pursue a career in athletics. They have better knowledge and skills of playing the game than I could ever have. But they may night be the most objective or the best sources for analysis.

It's like an artist. Ever ask an artist what made them evoke an 18th century Romantic motif in their treatment of a post-modern subject? They will tell you they just painted it because they liked it.

Posted by: Section506 | August 6, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

>It's like an artist. Ever ask an artist what made them evoke an 18th century Romantic motif in their treatment of a post-modern subject? They will tell you they just painted it because they liked it.

Posted by: Section506

The same way you post just to try to get the last word in. Instead of paying attention to what's said. Strange. The more I read from you, the stranger it gets.

Posted by: Brue | August 6, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Brue - usually I ignore you, but I actually responded to you this time. What are you mad about?

Posted by: Section506 | August 6, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Miscellaneous reactions (YMMV):

1. I'm delighted that the new team doctor is utilizing the skills of various clinics even if it means an out-of-town trip. Dr. Andrews in Birmingham, the hand clinic at Union Memorial in Baltimore. DC hasn't been a baseball town in decades, so there are no baseball-oriented injury specialists in the metro area. Added bonus: The Lerners seem willing to pay for it!

2. I sincerely hope that Stan the Plan plays no significant role in the future management decisions of the team. I have zero confidence in him, and consider him to be strictly a hot air artist.

3. This raises the point about "the Lerners." Who actually is calling the shots? My take is (a) that Papa Lerner found a job for his son Mark (who is no chip off the old block) where talentless Mark couldn't wreak havoc on the real estate empire and (b) that to keep Mark from getting into deep doodoo, Papa assigned him some of his hard-nosed green eyeshade guys to actually run the important things. That left minor things like the choice of uniforms, entertainment, ticket sales and concessions in the hands of Mark and Stan the Plan. The initial results were painful, but seem to be improving. With regard to actual on-field management, Bowden obviously had the ear of the son (and perhaps Papa). But in this setup as I see it the key job to determine the Nats' future will be the choice of General Manager. Ease Stan into PR and Mark into obscurity and the Nats may actually have a future if the choice of GM (by Papa?) is a good one.

Posted by: JohnRDC | August 6, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Anderson hernandez traded (back) to Mets in exchange for a minor league MIF. RHRP Saul Rivera recalled from Syracuse

Posted by: Brian_ | August 6, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

ABM--during the time that Manny was the manager, what good things do you recall the Nats players saying about him?

You know, it's funny. Before Manny was fired, some fans and commentators pointed to his lack of fire and refusal to argue calls as a problem, and said that Manny's failure to back up his players (for example, Dunn at Citi Field), was a problem. Others said that arguing doesn't change things, and that players don't need this kind of support, and that it was not a problem.

Not surprisingly, while Manny was the manager the players were quiet about how they felt on this issue. (As ABM points out, there is a code in baseball, and one of the things that players don't do is say bad things to the press about their current manager.) But lo and behold, within one day of Manny being fired, what does Zimmerman say to the media? That players (not him, of course ;-) sometimes used to talk and say that it would be nice if Manny stood up for his players, that they needed more support, and wanted Manny to "step up" sometimes. (Breaking ABM's rule that players don't bad-mouth their manager after he is fired.)

As fans, the objective evidence is right in front of us. It is coming from comments made by the players themselves as far as attitude is concerned, in how they talk about their current manager, and in how they didn't talk about their prior manager while he was here, and how they have talked about him after he was canned. As fans, we can believe the evidence or not, but where there is no actual evidence or comments to the contrary--just our "beliefs" as fans--it's hard to give much weight to a viewpoint that simply ignores everything that is being said.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | August 6, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

CiL, I recommend you check the archives for when Manny took over in 2007 and note how many rave reviews players gave him while they were winning. Then note how they began tapering off in mid 2008 when it became clear it was not going to be another incredible season.

Also note the complete lack of mention of Frank Robinson in 2007, or else the tepid tones used in discussing him.

New managers 1) always have a honeymoon 2) always are judged ultimately by fans by only one thing: W-L

Posted by: Section506 | August 6, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

"That left minor things like the choice of uniforms, entertainment, ticket sales and concessions in the hands of Mark and Stan the Plan."

So which one do I blame for giant Abe ruining the view of fans last night. It wasn't me, but kids in the section needed earmuffs. (Note to Lerner$: incite profanity in crowd; stock team store with Nats earmuffs; swim in pool of cash)

Posted by: dclifer97 | August 6, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Anderson hernandez traded (back) to Mets in exchange for a minor league MIF. RHRP Saul Rivera recalled from Syracuse

Posted by: Brian_ | August 6, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

-----

Egads! It's Brian, so I believe it. Who is the MIF?

Posted by: Section506 | August 6, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Greg Veloz is the minor league MIF ... reporting to Potomac

Posted by: Brian_ | August 6, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

cokedispatch-

I will take you up on your offer of a guaranteed sweep:

Ronnie Belliard is a bum, way past his prime. Can't we get a real second baseman/first baseman? Why did we resign him instead of getting value for him when we could have?

OK, all done. If Ronnie bashing was what you needed to work that magic, that's what you get. Sorry, Ronnie.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | August 6, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

506, we've been talking about this year, and whether Manny/Riggleman makes a difference. I don't know why you're bringing up 2007. If you want to provide some quotes from 2007 go for it, but I don't see how it's relevant to the discussion anyway. Believe me, I'm not writing these comments as a huge Riggleman booster or something, but I don't think there's any question that Manny this season was dragging the team down.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | August 6, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Way down.
The players have said it all.

Posted by: alm1000 | August 6, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Yikes. We really just dumped Hernandez eh? That's a pretty open admission that he has no value what-so-ever!

Posted by: soundbloke | August 6, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Whenever we have this "cheap" debate, I always come back to one thing. We've clearly decided to build through youth. What's it going to cost to keep our core together? They shelled out for Ryan. But what happens when Lannan, JZimm, Flores, et al. come up for arbitration, or worse, for long-term contracts? Are we going to look like the Marlins, shedding good players b/c we can't afford to keep them? Or are we keeping payroll manageable while we determine who our core is, and then have the flexibility to pay them (with a Dunn or the like thrown in to help)?

To me, this is why we can't judge the Lerners yet. Some evidence is in, but it's not yet a complete picture. Between Strassburg, this off-season, and the next year or 2 as our better young guys become arb. eligible -- that's when I'll make my judgment. Could they have spent more to be slightly more competitive the last 2 years? Yes. Would it have made a material difference? No. And it just might have slowed the evaluation of the younger guys...

Posted by: cdstej | August 6, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"Anderson hernandez traded (back) to Mets in exchange for a minor league MIF. RHRP Saul Rivera recalled from Syracuse"

Farewell, Anderson, we hardly knew ye. And we never did find out your first name!

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | August 6, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Veloz's profile...errrr...
http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?pos=2B&sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=501440

Posted by: dclifer97 | August 6, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Love to stay and chat but I have a game to attend!

Fry the Fish and sweep them back to Florida.

Posted by: alm1000 | August 6, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

There's a game today that starts in little over an hour, isn't there? Is the Post bothering to cover it, or are they sleeping in today? Who was supposed to give Chico his wake-up call?

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | August 6, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

"If you want to provide some quotes from 2007 go for it, but I don't see how it's relevant to the discussion anyway."

How can you say it's not relevant? It's the last time we got a new manager and had an unexpected success that made us feel good, even though it was drastically lower than what we really had reason to be happy about. It's the only analogous situation in the Washington III MLB franchise. And it elicited comments very similar to the ones we're seeing now, so why shouldn't we use it as a comparison?

Posted by: Section506 | August 6, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"How can you say it's not relevant?"

Because the issue is this season, and whether the managerial change has made a difference and whether Manny was dragging the team down. By your comments in response, it is almost as if you are agreeing that it has and he was.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | August 6, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

It's a lock now Kevin...put it in the books (crossing fingers).

Posted by: cokedispatch | August 6, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

NEWPOST in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 6, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

>Brue - usually I ignore you, but I actually responded to you this time. What are you mad about?

Posted by: Section506

You ignore everyone. I got the last word in. lol

Posted by: Brue | August 6, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

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