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A Few Notes From Nats Park

As if hoping self-evidence would sell his point, Ronnie Belliard, while talking Wednesday afternoon, pointed to his left, then his right. The locker right next to Belliard's belonged to Jim Thome. The locker two down belonged to Manny Ramirez. In the visiting manager's office, Joe Torre was meeting with his coaching staff.

"It's unbelievable," Belliard said. "Unbelievable. Seeing guys that are going to be in the Hall of Fame soon."

Since landing in prosperity, traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 30, Belliard has met the demands of his surroundings -- and perhaps, he acknowledged, the surroundings have helped raise his game.

After months of uninspired play with the Washington Nationals, Belliard, since arriving in Los Angeles, has hit .322 in 59 at-bats, with a .610 slugging percentage. He's homering and driving in runs at about three times the frequency he did with the Nationals. Often lost in the middle infield shuffle with Washington -- Belliard started just 20 of the team's first 87 games -- Belliard started his 16th game with Los Angeles on Wednesday. He's pushing two-time all-star Orlando Hudson for playing time.

"I think I follow the group," Belliard said. "They're having fun. It's not like we weren't having fun over there, but sometimes you lose 10 in a row, eight in a row -- it's hard. This club is in first place."

*

Twice before, Jim Riggleman has managed a 100-loss team. His 1993 San Diego Padres, decimated by a fire sale, went 61-101. Last year's Mariners, which Riggleman guided for the final months on an interim basis, also finished 61-101. Those are among just 26 teams league-wide that have lost 100 or more in the last 25 years.

But Riggleman, asked to compare this year's Nationals with other dreadful clubs of his, said that not all triple-digit losers are created equal.

Riggleman, always thorough with his answers, deserves a full transcript here:

"Every team that has a losing record or a really bad record, there can be different stages of where you think you are at with that team. And I've said it many times, and only time will tell if I'm right, but I think this ballclub is not that far away. As far as those other clubs I've managed, you know, in San Diego in the early '90s we had what was termed as 'the fire sale,' so we literally, for quite some time, [were using] all of our Class AAA players with the exception of Tony Gwynn. And some of those guys ended up being fine major league players. In Chicago, we had a couple years where the season got away from us and we kind of revamped over the winter and put it back together.

"But this ballclub here has got a lot of keepers, so I really think that it's a very talented group that, we just -- from Day One, we have never really been able to put it all together, pitching and hitting at the same time for an extended period of time -- you know, for a couple months. We've had some stretches, but if you're gonna be competitive in any division, you've got to have a couple of months of good baseball to establish yourself in the middle of that pack, and we feel that, as I said here, there are a lot of parts here that will work in the long term. There's a little tweaking to do, but part of going through these losses is looking at some choices. And not all of those choices are gonna work, and that's one of the things you've got to find out, too.

"It's very prevalent in baseball to, I think, sometimes say, 'Play the young players.' And we've done some of that. But when you put young players out there, sometimes what you find out is, they're not the answer. So that is an accomplishement in itself: You've found that out, so you know to move on from there. A lot of good things have taken place in terms of evaluation. Some of our more talented players in our lineup are young. Dukes is 24, 25. Zimmerman is 25, whatever. Nyjer Morgan looks like he's 23 even though he's older. There are some young bodies there who have a lot of good years to give to Washington.

*

Los Angeles Starting Lineup

Furcal -- 6
Belliard -- 5
Ethier -- 9
Ramirez -- 7
Kemp -- 8
Loney -- 3
Martin -- 2
Hudson -- 4
Billingsley -- 1

By Chico Harlan  |  September 23, 2009; 6:27 PM ET
 
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Next: Nats 5, Dodgers 4

Comments

Since I won't be at the park again, could y'all boo Ramirez extra hard for me? 'kay, thanks.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 23, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

1st of 2 reposts - just because I think they're relevant.
-------------------------
From the "You could do worse" file - Of the ML Shortstops who have played at least half of their Teams' innings at the position (24 of 117 total), Guzman ranks 18th in IP [984.2], 14th(tied) in Total Chances [518], 20th in PO [151], 12th in Asst's [349], 17th(tied) in Errors [18], 10th(tied) in DP [74], 5th in Range Factor [4.57], and 23rd in FPct [.965].
Yes, he's in the bottom-half of the "full-time" Shortstops currently playing ML baseball, but "You could do worse"; just sayin'...

Posted by: BinM | September 23, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: BinM | September 23, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

2nd of 2 reposts (I'll stop now).
---------------------------
Following up, something that has hurt this team over the last two years is the instability at 2B, imho. AHernandez, AGonzalez, Harris, Belliard, Orr, Desmond & Cintron have all seen duty on the bag in 2009. If the team could simply settle on one, or even two (in a platoon), it firms up the entire infield, corner-to-corner.

The third baseman becomes more automatic on a 5-4-3DP, because he instinctively knows where his 2B likes the ball on the throw, the SS gets the same benefit on a 6-4-3 or a 4-6-3DP, because the tandem develops a rythym, and the 1B gets a better feel for how much of the right-side he needs to be responsible for defensively. Just my two-cents worth.

Posted by: BinM | September 23, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: BinM | September 23, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

A few things:

1. I appreciate what Ronnie said about

Amazing coincidence: As I was writing that, my 7-year-old son came in, both permanent front teeth knocked out by a neighborhood kid carelessly swinging a baseball bat.

Baseball has not been good to me this year. I'm out.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | September 23, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Oh, no - dentists can do amazing things these days - I hope he is alright!

Posted by: PattyinSJ | September 23, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Last 2 years ... pretty gloomy BinM.

But couldn't it be:

1. Inconsistent, injured to poor starting pitching?
2. Without Cordero and company little or no bullpen?
3. Lack of good consistent catching that must
contribute to the above?
4. Lack of consistency in the MI.
5. Lack of speed and walks at the top of the batting order.
6. Lack of ability or competence in "small ball" type things like base running, bunting et al?

Posted by: periculum | September 23, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Belliard ... yet again ... darned guy.

Posted by: periculum | September 23, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Now that 100 is a foregone conclusion ... will they slump enough from losing to allow a no-hitter?

Posted by: periculum | September 23, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

PattyinSJ-

Thanks. However, this leads to more tortured analogies. I guess through the blood and tentative mouth-opening, that I only thought both were gone. One is busted up, the other loose. We and the neighbors went out to look for the lost half-tooth, which might be reattached.

Tortured analogy?

Perhaps the Nats aren't as broken as it first appears. Maybe the missing pieces will be clearer in the light of the off-season.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | September 23, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

+1/2 St. -- I hope your kid is all right!


My VERY FIRST baseball experience, ever:

I was about ten. The neighborhood kids were trying to get a game together so they all came to my house, equipment in-hand. It was about eight thirty on one of the first weekday mornings of our summer break.

Mom was, of course, only too happy to permit me to go out an play with them. She's much more of a baseball (Cubs) fan than any other sport and the state we lived in has no professional sports at all, so college football rules.

I told the rest of the kids that I had no idea what to do and they said it was easy, as they jammed a glove onto my hand. "If the ball comes to you, just catch it and we'll tell you what to do." Indeed, baseball might be better taught as-you-go-along (I'm still going along). They put me at shortstop.

We were using a hardball (as is the right and proper American way), and about the fourth pitch of the game was hit, a line drive, right to me, right into my chest ... but I got a glove on it instinctively, only to tip the ball up into my upper lip, compressing all of my new, adult teeth. Fortunately, only my lower center teeth were chipped (#24 was broken in half and #25 was chipped, for the dentists).

I've had to have it repaired every decade or so, but for the most part I've had a happy smile in life.

I also played catcher when I started little league the next year ... through into high school.

Also, did Charlie Slowes just say "Atlanta" and "Braves" going to commercial in the middle of the 5th?

Posted by: ihatewalks | September 23, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

@peric: First & foremost when it comes to MI - Defense, Defense, Defense. A team dreams about above-average offensive & defensive production from both of those positions (i.e. PHI); Is happy with good defense from one & above-average offense from both (i.e. FLA): Can be satisfied by sound play on both sides (i.e. LAD); Or dissapointed / dissatisfied / "Scrap it & start over" with anything less.

The pitching staff has been built to be a primarily groundball, "pitch to contact" group; Don't you think they need & deserve the best possible middle-infield defense that the FO can provide?

Posted by: BinM | September 23, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

IBB's almost always end badly for this team.

Posted by: BinM | September 23, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

This time as well, and not Detwiler's fault.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | September 23, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

"The pitching staff has been built to be a primarily groundball, "pitch to contact" group; Don't you think they need & deserve the best possible middle-infield defense that the FO can provide?"

@BinM,

Since that is the most efficient in terms of reducing the pitch count. Since both Lannan and JD Martin are those kind of pitchers and seem to be having the best success it does appear as if perhaps, perhaps the MI was pretty good. Looking at how Belliard just threw Orlando Hudson under the bus ... so perhaps they were better than everyone thought? So is it more important to have the pitching than the world's greatest fielders?

I guess shortstop would be the position where you like to have the best fielder in the infield? But looking at the "big picture" provided by the entire season. They played their best ball when they had a reasonably solid "middle" both defensively and offensively? With the corners that were already in place.

Shortstop, second base, and centerfield? But, also isn't catcher a part of that "middle" Not just the infield?

Posted by: periculum | September 23, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

(sigh) Peric: The old saw (or saying) was "strength up the middle" (C, 2b-SS, CF). With a groundball-focused staff, you focus on MI strength & depth. A lack of continuity at either position (2B or SS) weakens the overall strength of the team, imo.

Posted by: BinM | September 23, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

This might be a dumb question, but the headline on MLB.com is "Billingsley flirting with history against Nationals." What history? Aren't NO HITTERS sort of common? I mean, there have been several NO HITTERS this year.

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | September 23, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Thank God for the ZMAN!!!!!

Periculum, I saw your comment on Skins insider about Alridge!! I loved that! Yes, I am very happy he's back with us.

Posted by: rachel216 | September 23, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

THANK YOU NERVOUSNATSFAN!!! You're my hero!

Posted by: NatsNut | September 23, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I just logged in to post about Zimmerman's home run tying the game, and what a surprise it was to see Detwiler on the front page of the Post! Thanks for that!

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 23, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

nervousnatsfan- he can forget about that history with one big swing! ZIM! Whatever that history is..

Posted by: rachel216 | September 23, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

SO, Halfstreet, does he like hockey?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 23, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Ponce, they only put them on the front when they get a particularly unflattering photo. Just their little joke.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 23, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Yeah I don't know what history they're talking about... strange

Posted by: rachel216 | September 23, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

thanks nn. i wasn't expecting it to be quite so effective...

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | September 23, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Hah Rachel,

Those guys on RI had no idea ... :) He's back from Dallas. He'll probably be active and play this week. They need speed.

Posted by: periculum | September 23, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Gawd, I go out to put gas in the Honda & miss RZim's 3-run HR; That bites (for me).

Posted by: BinM | September 23, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Gawd, I go out to put gas in the Honda & miss RZim's 3-run HR; That bites (for me).

Posted by: BinM | September 23, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Ponce, they only put them on the front when they get a particularly unflattering photo. Just their little joke.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 23, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I don't know. His cap is on straight and the word "Nationals" on his shirt is spelled correctly! I'll take it! ha

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 23, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Sec3mysofa-

Excellent point! I need to show him some Ovechkin photos tomorrow for inspiration!

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | September 23, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

The 8th is too early for MacDougal, unless either 1) Riggleman is trying to "exhibit" him as a set-up pitcher, 2) Riggleman is trying to destroy MacDougal the same way he did Wood with the CHC, or 3) Riggleman is just suicidal by nature as a Manager(see #2).

Posted by: BinM | September 23, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Bunions, onions: Good hustle by Goozie on the go-ahead run. 100 is on hold.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 23, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

O-Dog jams his wrist at first. That's it. We can't pursue damaged goods in the offseason. Welcome to your 2010 Nats' keystone combo: orr and goozie.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 23, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

thanks macdougal and guzman! guzman is so bad sometimes, he can be so erratic. that throw was not even close, a good throw would've got him easily. another loss.

Posted by: rachel216 | September 23, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

The 8th is too early for MacDougal, unless either 1) Riggleman is trying to "exhibit" him as a set-up pitcher, 2) Riggleman is trying to destroy MacDougal the same way he did Wood with the CHC, or 3) Riggleman is just suicidal by nature as a Manager(see #2).

Posted by: BinM | September 23, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

What kind of throw home was that? Guz makes two bad throws in an inning?

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 23, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

actually that guy was out, bard's foot was on home plate, but whatever..

Posted by: rachel216 | September 23, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Bard's earning his pay behind the plate! This could be a lot worse!

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 23, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to buy a run . . .

add it to my season ticket renewal

Sec 219 Row B Seats 15,16

please expedite . . .

Posted by: oneleggedNatsFan | September 23, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Who is that guy and what did he do with J-Max?

Posted by: TimDz | September 23, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Walk off win with a sac fly by Orr!

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 23, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

I'll check my credit card statement to find out how much that cost me . . .

:)

Posted by: oneleggedNatsFan | September 23, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Despite Riggleman's best efforts to puke up another loss by his management of the bullpen, he turns a sow's ear into a silk purse in the bottom of the 9th. Bang-Zoom, there go the fireworks, and the Nationals avoid 100 losses for another day.

Posted by: BinM | September 23, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Walk off win with a sac fly by Orr!
Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 23, 2009 10:06 PM
-------------------------
Peric, you had this coming. As Brue would phrase it, "suck on it & like it".
I've got nothing left tonight (after three submission errors); I'm out.

Posted by: BinM | September 23, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

so much for the hateOrr!

Posted by: surly_w | September 23, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

May I just point out that ...


... (wait for it) ...


ORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Posted by: Scooter_ | September 23, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

That turned into a bit of a roller coaster ride, didn't it? Glad that we came out on top instead of in the dip thanks to Mr. Pete Orr. (Who?) And yes, Elijah, you did [RF]ing catch it.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 23, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

just wanted to see what negative spin Periculum will put on Orr for this one
also nice to read through and see the negativity when the game was not yet decided and have the nats turn it around
just remember Rachel,this is why baseball is still a great game, its never over till its over
ump missed the call on Guzman's throw but it was pretty weak
not at 100 yet - go Nats

Posted by: sjm3091 | September 23, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Of course Belliard is doing well!! Whenever we played him regularly he did awesome. Who can forget the back handed flip last summer? Not the fastest infielder or runner, but few errors and great with the bat when plaing regularly. I hope we get him back !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: HossyLady | September 23, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

@periculum,

For someone who is supposedly optimistic you sure gave up early tonight. How do you like Pete Orr now? Seems like I have asked you that a few times now. I'll give you JD Martin if you admit Pete Orr hasn't been half bad. Just stop being so pompous.

Posted by: WashOut | September 23, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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