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A Losing Streak, Elbow Soreness For Stammen

On Wednesday afternoon, the Nats, again looking punchless/hapless/toothless (pick your favorite 2009 adjective; insert), lost to the Padres 7-0. The updated math is pretty depressing. This team has lost six in a row. It was just swept by a last-place team. In this three-game series, the Nats scored two runs total. Maybe this is what you get when Pete Orr is batting fifth and Wil Nieves is hitting sixth and the bottom third of the order has combined for as many big league HRs this year as Bryce Harper, but it's not pretty to watch.

In three games against the Padres, the Nats had a .172 team batting average with two extra base hits. Go back even further, and Washington has scored just nine runs during this six-game losing streak. The Washington lineup, on Wednesday, didn't manage any base hits between the first and eighth innings against Kevin Correia. And get this: In a four-inning stretch, from the second to the fifth, no Nationals player managed an at-bat that went longer than four pitches.

Up, down; up, down.

From the beginning of this one, Washington starter John Lannan actually looked sharp, displaying the tell-tales that usually end with a seven-inning, 90-pitch day. But after he survived jams in the second and fourth, things unraveled in the fifth. With two aboard and two outs, Adrian Gonzalez sliced a line drive to left field. Willie Harris gave chase. He almost looked like somebody tracking down a Frisbee in the park: The ball was drifting, drifting, drifting away, and it was just a matter of whether Harris had the legspeed. It ended up sailing about two feet beyond his grasp, and Gonzalez had a two-run double. And Lannan couldn't stop the bleeding, as he recounted -- prick for prick -- in his post game interview. There was an intentional walk. Another RBI double. A Will Venable broken bat single. Five runs.

"It's the way it went today," Lannan said. "It's the way the whole freakin' road trip went."

The Nats might have bigger concerns, too.

Rookie starter Craig Stammen, a member of Washington's pitching rotation since May, has been scratched from his start on Friday because of elbow soreness. An MRI, scheduled for Thursday in Washington, D.C., will determine the severity of the injury.

"I don't really know what's going on," Stammen said of his elbow. "It's just painful. It doesn't feel good. It's kind of something that's built up over the course of the whole year. It's something I've pretty much dealt with over the course of the whole season. It's just kind of time to get it checked out right now."

Stammen, with a 4-7 record and a 5.11 ERA in 19 starts, admitted that he had been trying to "gut it out" and finish the season. With rosters expanding in September, though, the Nationals have plenty of freedom to use other pitchers from the 40-man roster in the rotation. In the meantime, Garrett Mock will take Stammen's place in the rotation, starting Friday against Florida and pitching on regular rest because of the upcoming off day.

"We're kind of crossing our fingers that it's nothing to be too concerned about," interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "Being September and we've got extra bodies coming, we're just going to be resting him. Whether he pitches after that, we're not sure."

---

One other thing to mention. GM Mike Rizzo said that Victor Garate, the PTBNL in the Belliard trade, will be pitching out of the bullpen for the Nats the rest of the season.

The one-paragraph Rizzo scouting report:

"We see a guy who's a versatile pitcher. He can be a set-up type of guy. He gets right-handers and left-handers out the same. He's got good stuff with good command and a funky delivery that fools some hitters. He's kind of between a three-quarters and a low three-quarters (arm) slot, so he's really tough on left-handers. The league is hitting .191 against him, and he's shown a propensity to throw all his pitches for strikes at any given time. He's not a soft-tosser. He throws up to 91-91, and he's got a good sweeping breaking ball and change-up."

By Chico Harlan  |  September 2, 2009; 7:24 PM ET
 
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Comments

Please everyone forgive me, but I was worried that the elbow soreness was connected to Lannan.

In the meantime,MLBTraderumors had an entry on the Nats offseason.

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/09/offseason-outlook-washington-nationals.html#comments

Some suggested in comments that the FO blow the team up. Here was my response (rosy, but you have to shut these people up with something positive sometimes):

Blowing the team up is what the Pirates do, and they are headed for 17 straight losing seasons. The Nats have 4 (2005 they were 81-81). The cast of characters in 2005 was not better than the current team, except for several fragile pitchers having good years.

If you are superstitious, and take the team back through Montreal, you don't have some curse of pure losing to shake. There were good days, and good days should return.

Some patience and expenditure is required. Mike Rizzo's mindset is to build on what DC has, and the Belliard trade is indicative of the building. The Pirates trade players for fear of not affording them.

Still, some wisdom is required. As bad as Bowden was, the idea of passing on the contract Soriano got looks pretty wise. The offer to spend $181 million on Texeira was gutsy, if unsuccessful, but he has performed as expected for the yankees for less money.

Those who tell the Nats to blow up the team don't want to give them credit, no matter what. They are the folks who said that they would not sign Strasburg under any circumstances, and they will say the same about Bryce Harper next year.

Just like more bars and restaurants will come to the Half St. entrance to the stadium when the economy recovers, the Nats will follow the Rays to respectability when enough time and stewardship erase the malicious neglect that marked MLB's stewardship of the Expos/Nats.

Posted by: kevincostello | September 2, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I don't like hearing about sore elbows with any of our young pitchers. I hope that the MRI just a precaution, and that it doesn't reveal anything serious. Oh, and %$##@!*!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 2, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

But thanks for the post, Chico, on a getaway day.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 2, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Five years from now, when Strasburg and Harper are guiding Washington to its first postseason appearance in 81 years, we'll look back on these days and laugh...I hope. (While hope may spring eternal for the Washington baseball fan, there's always that "something bad is about to happen" mindset, too.)

Posted by: VPaterno | September 2, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

>"It's the way it went today," Lannan said. "It's the way the whole freakin' road trip went."

Unless he can muster up the 90 mph hour fastball he had in the last start, he can go back to sleep. Because that start was the only time he threw with anger.

He's a punk. Just like all the rest of them. 90 pitches in 5. Light in the ass.

Except for Mock. And Strasburg.

Posted by: Brue | September 2, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm assuming that Stammen didn't tell anyone about his elbow problems? It's concerning to me that they would let a young guy go all season without even checking on it...

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | September 2, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

When you throw 100 pitches at 90-95 mph, you're going to get soreness and tightness the next day, no matter what. I guess the question is how much Stammen brought up the "unusual" soreness to the staff.

@Brue
Throwing with "anger" implies to me a lack of control. Sure, you throw faster, but like SS found it, it goes the other way faster too.

Posted by: swang30 | September 2, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

This stuff about "Toughing it out" is getting old. How many more young pitchers are going to tough it out before the culture changes?

Posted by: NickfromGermantown | September 2, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Wait, no SS, Storen.

Posted by: swang30 | September 2, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

>@Brue
Throwing with "anger" implies to me a lack of control. Sure, you throw faster, but like SS found it, it goes the other way faster too.

Posted by: swang30

This is true.

Sometimes what happens is that you not only increase your velocity on each pitch, but you get tunnel vision. Where all of your senses consolidate, the hearing goes away, and it's just visual - you and the mitt. With the anger comes the energy.

Posted by: Brue | September 2, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

As made obvious by Lannan's past few starts, he is clearly not even close to being the ace of the rotation. I guess that all falls to... Strasburg! Will he be able to handle the pressure? Survey so far says probably not.

Posted by: NatMeg | September 2, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

No ... the ace of the staff, and the mantle seems to fit very well on him, is Livan Hernandez. Strasburg has a long ... long ... long ... way to go before he even starts a game much less gets the title ace.

Posted by: periculum | September 2, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

The Nats can pull out of this in a few years, with some commitment from ownership. I've advocated just spending at a level of the MLB median. This seems reasonable, since our region is among America's largest and wealthiest--way above average. But just average would be OK. This would put us at the level of Cleveland or Toronto, and would be about a 33 percent increase in expenditures.

Nonetheless, recognizing that we do have excessively frugal ownership here in Washington, what about achieving the median of the bottom half of MLB clubs in terms of spending? Everybody should be willing to go along with that, including the Nats' ownership. This means more Dunns and more Willinghams, and some pitching too.

Such a plan (median of the bottom half in MLB) would involve an 18 percent increase in spending for 2010, about the level of Cincy or Arizona.

No, this would be a long way from suitable to our regional economic strength (we are well within the top ten regions in America), but it would be a significant improvement. Currently we are near the bottom in expenditures. This improved level of expenditures can bring in some talent that could eventually be turned into prospects, for the long-term benefit of the club.

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

Posted by: EdDC | September 2, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

"That leads me to ask: should the Nationals trade Ryan Zimmerman? While he is the face of the franchise, his value is currently very high and he is signed through 2013. Trading him could cause that farm system ranking to improve in a hurry. To a lesser extent, Dunn, Willingham, and Lannan could bring in younger talent."

The current losing streak lends credence to the notion of trading them all for prospects while signing younger free agents to fill in the gaps. Hate to admit that.

Posted by: periculum | September 2, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

"Five years from now, when Strasburg and Harper are guiding Washington to its first postseason appearance in 81 years, we'll look back on these days and laugh...I hope."

That's waaaaaay too much time and Rizzo knows it. That long and he would be fired well before that. Nope.

Posted by: periculum | September 2, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Those of you jumping on the www.mlbtraderumors.com about trading R. Zimmerman for prospects are out of your mind. Why would you trade your 24 year old third baseman, who is arguably the best in the game right now, for multiple unproven prospects in the hopes that they all turn out like Zimm. Baseball is not blackjack. You don't double down on 11.

Posted by: unclebuck1 | September 2, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

"Those of you jumping on the www.mlbtraderumors.com about trading R. Zimmerman for prospects are out of your mind. Why would you trade your 24 year old third baseman, who is arguably the best in the game right now, for multiple unproven prospects in the hopes that they all turn out like Zimm. Baseball is not blackjack. You don't double down on 11.

Posted by: unclebuck1 | September 2, 2009"

His value right now is extremely high. He is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 players. With him they are going to lose 100 games + for the second time.

Clearly you need more than a Zimmerman to turn that around.

Posted by: periculum | September 2, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

oh, I guarantee Lannan's toughing something out too. He's hanging by a thread, just praying to get through the next couple of weeks.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 2, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

@=1/2St: Nicely measured response to the "Blow-it-all-up" reactionaries, imo; Well-played.
I think Lannan is just gassed mentally; He's thrown a lot of good ballgames in 2008 & in the 1st half of 2009, and got little support either directly (in terms of offensive support), or indirectly (from either the defense or the bullpen in his games, or even from the next days' SP) to help "right the ship". The teams' FO has put a heavy weight on his shoulder over the last 18 months; He's finally sounding off.

The Stammen issue is (hopefully) just fatigue - he has filled in admirably in the #2SP slot this year, and has value down the road as a #4-5SP, imo. If it turns out badly, that pretty much cooks MaCatty as a ML pitching coach (JZimm & Stammen going down in the same year); That's beyond St.Clair-level destruction (2004- S.Hill (forearm); 2005- Ayala (elbow); 2006- Patterson (forearm), Majewski shoulder); 2007- None; 2008- M.Chico (elbow), Cordero (shoulder).

Posted by: BinM | September 2, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

SYR is 4.5 games down now. Their next games are against losing teams. Not sure they have much of a chance. Perhaps its time to bring in Estrada, Atilano (if available), and Detwiler?

At this point one must ponder whether its more important to pull the parent club out this tail spin?

Posted by: periculum | September 2, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Nice post, 1/2 St.

After a pretty solid run of healthy (if somewhat ineffective) pitchers, it looks like the D.L. fairy has finally caught up to the Nats staff.

Heres hoping Stammen's MRI finds nothing more than a bulldog tattoo on his biceps.

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | September 2, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

See ya next year, Stammen. (I hope).

Posted by: inthestreetindustry | September 2, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

@EdDC: I'm on-board with the team spending to the median in 2010, as long as it's "smart" spending.

Avoid big $$$ or long-term contracts for any FA players. Instead, try to acquire relatively young (23-29 y.o.) players in positions where the minor-leagues still show gaps - a legitimate #1SP (short-term contract, could be an older player), a SS or 2B with both a steady glove & range, and a RP capable of filling either a setup or closer role for a year (or two).

In the interim, try to extend Dunn for another year at $10M+, offer Willingham a "market-rate" 2-year deal ($4-5M per?), and get the arbitration or free-agent -eligible "keepers" (Flores, Dukes, MacDougal, et al) under contract.

That combination could take the Nationals' closer to the MLB median salary level, without crippling them in the long-term, and field a reasonably competitive team as a result.

Posted by: BinM | September 2, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

BinM,

No one wants the Nats to spend unwisely. Rizzo seems wise. Your plan is fine. I think they should add talent and stay young in the process.

I like the idea of adding assets that can be turned into a good future, via trades for prospects and compensation picks in the draft. And while all this is happening, the Nats can win some games, and build a good fan base.

Posted by: EdDC | September 2, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

@peric: The SYR squad are looking like "dead-men-walking" for the remainder of the 2009 IL season; The Nationals can glean the carcass of 40-man roster players anytime after the Chiefs have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Posted by: BinM | September 2, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Can the ML team send guys down to Syracuse (up to Syracuse) so they get a chance to play on a contending team?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 2, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

@EdDC: Agreed on this point. I think Rizzo has both a vision of where the franchise needs to go, and a concept of how to get there. If he & Kasten can convince the Lerner group that it is "In their best interest" to make the expenditures, the team is on it's way to being comptitive, at the very least.

The problem may lie in the details; While the Lerners' have been shown willing to pump-it-up for the high-profile player (Teixiera, Strasburg), they have been hesitant to spend the extra money on a mid-level, yet critical player. Maybe Rizzo can turn the table there as well; A fan can only hope.

Posted by: BinM | September 2, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Yeah trade R Zimm for prospects yeah that'll put fannies in the seats in 2010 and beyond, i mean seriously, are you stupid or what? they have enough trouble attendance wise in case you haven't noticed and trading Zimm for unproven wannabe's is going to do what?.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 2, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Can the ML team send guys down to Syracuse (up to Syracuse) so they get a chance to play on a contending team?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 2, 2009 10:18 PM
----------------------------
Only if a player being sent down (WSH>SYR) has a minor-league option left, and the recieving team has roster space available. In the case of a promotion (HAG<SYR), it would hinge on an available roster space.

Posted by: BinM | September 2, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Yeah (sigh) you are right. Wouldn't want to use up the options... I feel bad for the guys, though, lotta games left, no hope.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 2, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

@Nats_Lady: 2009 could still see some relief for the Nationls' starting staff; Martis, Estrada, Detwiler & Balester can all be recalled without the loss of another option.

Never lose faith, never surrender hope.

Posted by: BinM | September 2, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to see Martis back up here, don't know Estrada. Detwiler and Balester had their chances, not sure what it would prove to have them up again, but if there is space, OK, fine. Clearly Lannan is tired and looks like Stammen might be out.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 2, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

So here's the thing: I believe we heard numerous times this year how we were not going to rush our pitchers, or let them pitch too many innings. Usually this was in the context of another young pitcher being called up or sent down. We also heard that we were going to develop our young pitchers, give them a chance, and let them learn at the major league level.

I believe all such words were uttered in earnest, but looking back you can clearly see that the strategy has plusses and minuses. Short term it is cheaper, revealing, (ugly), and educational. Long term it is probably not a bad but Zimmermann and now perhaps Stammen may be set back by injurry that MAY have been exasperated by "rushing" them.

To the extent that he failed, Martis may have failed for lack of a quality third pitch and inconsistant command. Detwiler certainly appeared to simply not be ready. (I think he needs more strength). Mock and Lannan seem to be closer to finished products, but with Mock in particular we need to see him sustain it over time. It appears to me Olsen was not healthy when we got him, but I hope they keep him. Cabrera sucked (everyone saw it coming - not sure why they though that might be an acceptable move).

So finally my point: Pitching young unproven players has some advantages to an organization, but it is not a successful model. It seldom if ever works well to bring 5 young pitchers along at the same time. First the odds are against you - they won't all work out. Second, they're not conditioned. Even if their pitch count was 100 in the minors, it is unreasonable to think they can achieve the same results with 100 pitches in the majors. Third, it justt was not as entertaining as we had hoped it would be. Watching Livan again reminds what it is like to watch a pitcher with a plan (and a backup plan). I can't wait to see him pitch in person again. Hopefully we get a few more veteran pitchers to round out the staff next year.

Posted by: natbiscuits | September 3, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Doe any one else worry that Victor Garate is getting bumped up from AA? First Zimmerman no (I hope not) Stammen this is not good. I wonder what the cries will be if they blow out SS next year? This reminds me of the piece Real Sports did last year WAY to radical for most, but just a thought since we are just now starting to build young pitching.... http://www.sptimes.com/2006/07/13/Sports/Ex_pitcher_has_yet_to.shtml

Posted by: hansenjo | September 3, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Entertaining and unscientific: "Meet Baseball's Chattiest TV Announcers" at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204731804574389073527854120.html.

Guess who's number 3?

Posted by: joemktg1 | September 3, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Peri, aren't you contradicting yourself? Rizzo doesn't have 5 years to build a team, and the best way to improve quickly is to trade your cornerstone for young prospects?

I agree with your first statement and think adding pieces around the cornerstones is the way to do it.

I forget who said it first - the ump doesn't say "work ball" to start the game. Baseball is a marathon that requires alertness and flexibility, not adrenaline-fueled anger. It ain't football, thank God. Lannan has been fading, but getting angry isn't the solution.

Posted by: utec | September 3, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

@joemktg1: Thanks, that was great. Yes, our Sunshine does like to talk.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I really enjoy watching Livo. I thought he was, like, 80 the way people were complaining--he's only 34! He's got some years ahead of him.

Even when he makes a "mistake" like the bunt, he's fun to watch. Can a batter signal the runners what he is planning, to they have signs for that? Might have helped Dukes to know what Livo was thinking.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I mean (boy, I need a proof-reader)-- do they have signs for the hitter to communicate with the runners?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

If we are now moving towards a 5 year plan, thats going to be a non-starter for this town. Your talking 10 years of futility, no way! Rizzo and Co need to take a serious look at; shoring up the middle of the infield, working the over-crowded outfield, finding 6 bullpen guys who can be depended upon after inning # 6 and either keeping Scott Olsen or Livo as your sure #2 and finding the best mix of young arms to round out 1,3,4,5 of the starting staff. Gotta do it this winter or else NatsTwon will be GhostTown in 2010. Oh yeah, find a dynamic and out of the box thinking manager. Hmmmm, who might that be?

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 3, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I mean (boy, I need a proof-reader)-- do they have signs for the hitter to communicate with the runners?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Sure. When the bases are loaded and it's two outs and Dunn points his bat to the outfield, it generally means he's going to be called out on strikes.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 3, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Man, oh man, folks. It doesn't look good, does it?

Can a sterling third baseman save the franchise? Can "prospects" at virtually all of the other positions (save catcher Flores) be identified and brought along to the point where they prove they actually have ML skills?

2010-2012 looks dismal. Fans in seats? Alas, only the cheap seats for me.

Posted by: JohnRDC | September 3, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

When you get a player like Zim, you keep him and lock him up long-term. You don't keep churning your roster for more prospects unless you want the Washington Pirates! You keep the good ones, and ADD to your roster to complement them.

Posted by: 1of9000 | September 3, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

You have three players that put fans in seats, namely Dunn, Zimm, and TPLush--especially the last. People will come to watch them even when they know they have a 2 in 3 chance of seeing a loss.

As long as you are fielding a less than .500 team you can't trade them. So you build the team around them, and look for better performance. Once you get above .500, THEN you can talk about trading for a better chance to make the playoffs because then fans have another reason to come to the stadium besides individual players.

P.S., Maybe Livo, he is fun to watch, but, of course, only every 5 days.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I mean (boy, I need a proof-reader)-- do they have signs for the hitter to communicate with the runners?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Sure. When the bases are loaded and it's two outs and Dunn points his bat to the outfield, it generally means he's going to be called out on strikes.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 3, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

GENIUS. Hahaha. I am laughing out loud.

Posted by: NatMeg | September 3, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Me, too. That was a great one. It's early yet, but I nominate it of POTD.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sure. When the bases are loaded and it's two outs and Dunn points his bat to the outfield, it generally means he's going to be called out on strikes.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 3, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse


GENIUS. Hahaha. I am laughing out loud.

Posted by: NatMeg | September 3, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Players don't put fans in the seats, wins do.

Posted by: Section506 | September 3, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

This was Baseball Prospectus' take on the Nats deadline moves:

"Well, I'd been speculating for a couple of months now that Belliard would wind up with somebody somewhere to serve some higher purpose beyond just playing out the string with the hapless Nats to assist them in their quest to finish with something better than the 30th-best record in baseball. Garcia's a worthwhile arm to have added to the stockpile, having pitched effectively for Great Lakes in Low-A in his full-season debut. The 22-year-old Dominican's been generating a lot of ground-ball outs (1.8 for every fly), which isn't easy with the suspect fields and fielding in the minors, while also striking out 55 in 73 IP against just 14 walks. Getting that plus something else for a few weeks of Ronnie Belliard's time seems entirely worthwhile.

Segue to scenes from the upcoming classic bound to be the first-ever joint production from ESPN and LOGO: Brokeback Rotation. It's the story of a man and his team daring to live together, resolutely apart from the judgments of a cruel, unfair world where certain relentless standards of what constitutes acceptable performance come into play. Losing ballgames? Who are we to judge, as long as you've got a shortage of alternatives and a willing workhorse to saddle up and ride to the bitter end? You're sure to shed a tear when Teddy Roosevelt says to Livan Hernandez, "I wish I knew how to quit you."

On a more practical level, reduced to seeing what they've got in Garrett Mock, Craig Stammen, and J.D. Martin while John Lannan's beginning to look like he's pitching on fumes, employing Hernandez as an innings muncher, even if the term "again" has to be utilized, has its virtues. Mock's showing some promise as a starter, striking out a man per inning in his turns, Martin's a decent placedholder. Stammen had a brief run of utility in July, but he's busily squelching that. As much as Livan large ends up leaving you feeling down in the standings, his .461 SNWP with the Mets this year was better than, say Brad Penny's was with Boston (.421), and would also rank second on the Nats' staff."

Posted by: BobLHead | September 3, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"If we are now moving towards a 5 year plan, thats going to be a non-starter for this town. "
___________________

Sorry, but you have no alternative after the hand MLB dealt this franchise, beginning with Jeffrey Loria's ransacking of the Montreal organization when he hightailed it to Florida after the 2001 season -- a move that didn't really damage the franchise until mid-decade. You were left with a shell of a minor-league system that still hasn't been fully restocked (largely because the scouting system is still a cut below most other organizations). Bowden's blowhardiness and overreliance on "toolsy" players only worsened the situation.

Like it or not, you are going to have to be patient until this franchise is on equal footing from top to bottom with the rest of MLB, and that will take another four or five years. I like the moves Rizzo has made so far, but he'll have to make many more of them before it pays off at the big-league level. Also, few free agents will want to come here until they're convinced this is not a baseball graveyard.

Quick fixes -- brought on to satisfy the ignorant, football-type mentality shown by much of this team's fan base -- might get the Nats to .500, but no more. You want pennant race baseball in Washington for the first time since 1945? This is the only way you'll get there.

Posted by: VPaterno | September 3, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

@BLH

What is SWNP?

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | September 3, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

"His value right now is extremely high. He is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 players. With him they are going to lose 100 games + for the second time.

Clearly you need more than a Zimmerman to turn that around.

Posted by: periculum"
---------------------------------
We need more than just Zimmerman to become winners, but we also need to start building somewhere. A star like Zimmerman today is worth more than a prospect for tomorrow. Now we need to pony up the dough to put players around this star.

I look at the pieces we have on this team (Zim, Willingham, Morgan, Lannan), those coming up/back (SS, JZimm, Flores, Norris, Marerro, Storen, Ian Desmond) and I think we can put a competitive team on the field in 2011. Maybe not the playoffs, but enough to make them worth watching. I personally think its worth the wait. All this will require ownership giving Rizzo the financial support to bring in the pieces missing from the set of players I mentioned above. But in the last 6 months even the Lerners have been making the right moves and spending some money to correct the mistakes of the Bowden era, so I think this is more realistic than I did in May.

Maybe I'm just an optimist, but trading Zim puts us on the path of the Pirates and I don't think anybody here wants that.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | September 3, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Uh, SNWP.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | September 3, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Anyone see the articles in the Post the last two days ripping the Redskins? Yesterday, they uncovered that Snyder and Co. were selling tickets to brokers despite the waiting list for season tickets. Today, they talk about the team suing fans who can't afford their season ticket payments. Here's one excerpt I found interesting:

In 2006, Jorge R. Vasquez Sr., 47, was in jail for embezzlement and wrote to both the Washington Nationals and the Redskins to say he could no longer keep his tickets. He had three loge seats at FedEx and a six-year contract that began in 2003.

The baseball team wrote back to offer him free tickets, according to a letter he sent to the court. The Redskins sued him $12,914.

The Nationals "were able to understand that my situation and status to continue to support their team as a fan had changed," Vasquez wrote to the court. "Instead of getting sued in courts, they extended their sympathy by issuing to me four courtesy tickets; now I have even lost my home and the richest franchise of the National Football League is pursuing 'their loss' through court, while completely forgetting about the fact that all I ever wanted to be was a Fan."

Posted by: BGinVA | September 3, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

The Yankees didn't make the playoffs last year and had an All Star infield, catcher, and 2 outfielders (note- Not all All Stars at the same time). ARoid, Jeter, Cano, Giambi, Posada, Damon, Matsui to name a few.

If you can buy Championships, the Yankees would win the World Series every year (and should win it this year).

The Nationals showed in August (without JZim) that they can win games and I would agree losing Nyjer Morgan was a big blow. His 2nd half of the year was All Star quality. I also think Adam Dunn is having a great year and probably his best ever statistically and 1st base seems to be a good fit for him.

If this team can get a 2nd baseman and 1 more impact starting pitcher with Jesus Flores coming back, this can be a team that should win 75 to 80 games. Until the starting rotation starts to dominate, this team can't make the playoffs even with Bryce Harper and Albert Pujols (LOL)

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | September 3, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

If Livan is 34, I'm 18.

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I really enjoy watching Livo. I thought he was, like, 80 the way people were complaining--he's only 34! He's got some years ahead of him.

Posted by: JohninMpls | September 3, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

SNWP
Team's expected winning percentage in games started by a pitcher

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

JiM: I never ask a gentleman's age...

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Ha!

Part of me does wonder, though, how much of our excitement over Livan is inspired by nostalgia. I know his first two starts have been very solid, but there's a reason his last two teams cut him loose.

How long before he starts showing us what he showed the Mets and Twins?

I love having him on the team this year. But, even with our rotation issues, I don't know if I'm sold on having him back next year. I guess it depends on the other options Rizzo is persuing.

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JiM: I never ask a gentleman's age...

Posted by: JohninMpls | September 3, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

With all the "prognostications" about the health of the Nats, the future of the Nats, the dream of the playoffs, scouting more players, bringing up dozens of minor leaguers and hoping one will work out, another five-year "rebuilding" effort is really all I see. However, in five years, I will be 66 years old! I don't have THAT much time left to watch the Nats make the playoffs! It's not a matter of "wait till next year," but "wait till sometime in the next DECADE!" We need a competitive team SOON! I'm running out of DECADES to see the Nats make the playoffs!

Posted by: blufre | September 3, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

"@Nats_Lady: 2009 could still see some relief for the Nationls' starting staff; Martis, Estrada, Detwiler & Balester can all be recalled without the loss of another option."

Perhaps it should be Atilano, Detwiler and Estrada? All three have been pitching extremely well. Balester on the other hand has not been pitching well this year, or at least consistently well in either AAA or the pros.

Posted by: periculum | September 3, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the promoted 1B Matt Whitney who was having a fine year up to help Syracuse to help out. They did win 2-1 over Lehigh. At least THEY broke out of their losing streak.

Posted by: periculum | September 3, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Of course we are nostalgic. It's not like we have anything to look forward to.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Now I know what's up with Atilano. He's off to the World Baseball Cup for Puerto Rico.

Posted by: periculum | September 3, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, folks. This has beena long roadtrip. I see the nats are officially eliminated from winning and also jsut about eliminated from the wildcard. You guys and gals are pretty good prognisticaters(SP?) so what is the best chance for a better seasnon next year? They have already sent me email about season tix.

Posted by: Ringle | September 3, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Players don't put fans in the seats, wins do.

Posted by: Section506 | September 3, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse


I beg to differ. Craig Stammen would put my butt in a seat even if the Nats lost every single game he started ;)

Posted by: NatMeg | September 3, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Due to my work schedule--and my love of good weather--I'm not a person for season tickets. But, boy, based on the potatoes' stories, if I got them, I sure would look at my contract!! That is nasty what they are doing.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm probably older than you are (I'm probably older than the IRS), so I like Livo's cute smile. Dunno if I can see that as well on the field as on TV, though.

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I beg to differ. Craig Stammen would put my butt in a seat even if the Nats lost every single game he started ;)

Posted by: NatMeg | September 3, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

For lack of a new post, let me direct your attention to FJB's excellent point about the Stammen news. It's very troubling that Stammen was trying to "gut it out" when he felt elbow soreness. My reaction, repeated from a comment on FJB is:

I cannot believe that a major league team doesn't lay down the law in no uncertain terms to all it's pictures: "Thou shalt not keep arm discomfort or any injury at all to yourself. We need to know everything about how your recovery after each start is going. This is not optional." And especially after JZimm went down, how could Stammen even think about continuing to pitch with discomfort in the elbow? For goodness sake.

Posted by: Section222 | September 3, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

222: I SO much agree with you! I felt exactly the same when reading the article. Maybe it's a guy thing? Not only should they lay the law down to their pictures--they should lay it down to their pitchers... :)

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, duh. The players are at bat when the fans go to and from their seats. At least here, they are.
***************
Players don't put fans in the seats, wins do.
Posted by: Section506 | September 3, 2009 10:46 AM |

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 3, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Agree, Nats_Lady and 222. Then we might not be exasperated by injuries that are exacerbated. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 3, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"Does any one else worry that Victor Garate is getting bumped up from AA?"

He's already been in AAA for an extended period last year as a starter. He was returned to AA to learn to be a reliever again. He looks ready to return to AAA competition.

Posted by: periculum | September 3, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, though, there are some players people pay to see. There are even some ballparks people pay to see, regardless. Winning is just the most reliable. Unless you're in Atlanta, or Miami, even San Diego some years.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 3, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

sofa: might have to take back my previous recommend. for POTD. My tummy hurts from laughing so much.

But if you're waiting for a win in order to sit down... ?

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Well, duh. The players are at bat when the fans go to and from their seats. At least here, they are.
***************
Players don't put fans in the seats, wins do.
Posted by: Section506 | September 3, 2009 10:46 AM |

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 3, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I agree Section222, and the quote from Stammen that really boggles my mind is this one:

"I don't really know what's going on," Stammen said of his elbow. "It's just painful. It doesn't feel good. It's kind of something that's built up over the course of the whole year. It's something I've pretty much dealt with over the course of the whole season. It's just kind of time to get it checked out right now."

Just kind of time to get it checked out right now? Maybe you kind of should have told someone instead of trying to be super pitcher and kind of working through the entire season with this pain. Didn't someone say a while back that there was a lot of competitiveness between the guys in the rotation? All trying to out-do the other? That's all well and good, I guess, but not when it comes to pitchers ignoring pain in their ELBOWS because of it.

Posted by: NatMeg | September 3, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

While I agree that wins will bring more fans to the table (and the seat), I also believe that there are players who can draw fans even on a losing team.

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Players don't put fans in the seats, wins do.
Posted by: Section506 | September 3, 2009 10:46 AM |

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 3, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

IF I had a travel budget with any $$ in it, I would love to see the Rockies stadium and the Giants stadium, regardless of how the teams were doing. They look stunning on TV. Also I understand the Pirates' stadium is first-class.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Good point, Nats_Lady. Maybe what we need to do is request a Sopranos-style sit-down with the team to discuss, uh, winning approaches (smacks mini-bat against open palm).

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But if you're waiting for a win in order to sit down... ?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 3, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I've also heard good things about the Pirates' stadium. I can vouch for AT&T Park, having visited it on a West Coast trip earlier this year. And Wrigley can draw no matter what's on the field, methinks.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 3, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Would never cross the threshold of Wrigley. (Just a matter of loyalty.)

I seriously wish we could flatten those red roofs and parking garages. Was at Nats Park and overheard tourists looking for the view of the Capitol. I pointed out a tiny corner of the sky and there it was. We had SUCH a chance to build a great park. I mean, it's nice, and the bathrooms are clean, and the staff are REALLY great, but the view is not what it could have been.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

BinM paraphrased:

"Avoid big $$$ or long-term contracts for any FA players. Instead, try to acquire relatively young (23-29 y.o.) players in positions ..."

"... extend Dunn for another year at $10M+, offer Willingham a "market-rate" 2-year deal ($4-5M per?), and get the arbitration or free-agent -eligible "keepers" (Flores, Dukes, MacDougal, et al) under contract."

Yes, especially given that all the top FA's are well over 30 this year ... none appear to offer a good piece to add to get to a winning season. Are seeing things get better? The teams and players appear to be getting better, awards, getting more competitive in the minors. Both Marrero and Espinosa were selected to be All-Stars.

I just don't believe that Rizzo will last (much less any manager) if it takes 5 years. After 2 straight 100+ loss seasons? That makes it seven doesn't it? Even you consider Bowden part of the problem and not the solution.

I suspect that the only true way to make this team better and younger is through gaining better players through carefully orchestrated trades?

Posted by: periculum | September 3, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Ah, you follow the Sox, then?

Agree re. the view.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 3, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

new post--with fun stuff.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 3, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

There was a time when I had hope for the promise of Lannan. Now, he has shown that he does not have any trade value. My disappointment is great. What is so hard about putting the ball over the plate? Even at my advanced age, even I could do it. So they hit the ball, so what! As long as it does not go out of the park you at least have a squad of wannabes who just might catch the ball. One hit through four and then 5, 6 or what ever runs in the 5th. Ridiculous. I am sick of this crap.

The same holds true for the relievers. Wild pitches, balls wide, balls inside, balls upstairs, balls in the dirt. The first non-intentional walk a reliever gives up should be his last throw as a NAT. sO, HE GETS HIT HARD. SO WHAT! Send him back to the minors or just release him!

Posted by: crimsonmac | September 3, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

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