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A rare case of not meeting expectations

Morning roundup

Late last night, right after calling Stephen Strasburg way more mature than any 22-year-old he'd ever know, Ryan Zimmerman thought back to when he was 22 and trying to make it in the majors. "I didn't throw 100," Zimmerman said. "I was just a defensive third baseman. If I got a couple hits, it was cool."

The point Zimmerman wanted to make, I think, was this: He was the fourth overall pick, predicted to be a cornerstone of the new franchise in town before his game. And what he faced in terms of expectations does even register compared to Strasburg.

"We didn't expect him to come up and dominate every single start," Zimmerman said. "He obviously mentally expects to do that, but I think he knows. He's a smart kid. He knows that he's going to have a couple bad starts. The important thing he came back and his stuff was good. His arm looked great. He's going to be here for a long time, so that's what we were more about this year."

In the next four days, Strasburg will have yet another new experience in his maiden professional season. He will learn, or try to learn, how to cope with a clunker. As dominant as he had been before last night, the Nationals knew this was inevitable.

"He's a competitor," pitching coach Steve McCatty said. "He expects a lot out of himself. But this is a learning experience. That's how you get better. If you don't have any failures, well, more power to you. You're going to have some failures, and you've got to learn from them.

"We just started expecting a lot from a kid that's 22 years old. He has a tremendous amount of talent. But we've got to understand he's young and he's learning, and he's learning at the big league level. Every mistake that you make up here shows up on the scoreboard. It's part of the game."

The most thing about last night is that Strasburg felt fine afterward. And he did. "Concern would only be about health, and I don't have any concern about that," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "He feels great. There's no concern there."

It doesn't mean everything has been easy, but things have sure seemed so easy for Strasburg this season. So it's hard to predict how he'll respond. "I really haven't seen him have too much adversity so far," McCatty said. "I'm just taking this one in stride, seeing how he reacts."

Everything Strasburg has revealed about himself this year suggests he'll come back fine. We know Strasburg is an intense competitor. We know he's a dogged worker. We know he can focus in much more distracting circumstances than this.

"He's 22 years old. He's got all the talent in the world," McCatty said. "The next time he goes out, if everything goes right back to normal, he's Stephen, everybody says, 'Oh.'

"He expects so much out of himself, sometimes it's a little harder for him. We all expect a lot out of him, too. If he does this one game out of 10, I'll be pretty happy with it."

FROM THE POST

Stephen Strasburg's first rough start serves as a taste of reality, Boz writes.

Strasburg wa healthy after his return from the disabled list, but he was rocked in an 8-2 loss to the Marlins before the smallest crowd to see him pitch.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse 1, Columbus 0 (Game 1, 7 innings): In his second start in Syracuse, Jordan Zimmerman allowed no runs on one hit and no walks in four innings. Leonard Davis went 1 for 2 with a home run.

Columbus 6, Syracuse 3 (Game 2, 7 innings): Danny Espinosa went 2 for 4. Josh Wilkie pitched one scoreless inning.

Binghamton 7, Harrisburg 1: Orlando Hernandez allowed no runs in 2 1/3 innings on one hit and two walks. Edgardo Baez went 2 for 3 with a home run.

Potomac 5, Lynchburg 2: Michael Lozada went 2 for 4 with two doubles. Adrian Alaniz allowed two earnd runs in six innings on six hits and three walks, striking out eight.

Kannapolis 8, Hagerstown 2: Eury Perez went 2 for 4 with two doubles. Rick Hague went 2 for 5.

Hudson Valley 4, Vermont 3: Ronnie Labrie went 2 for 4 with two doubles. Blake Kelso went 2 for 4. David Freitas went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Stephen Strasburg will rebound, Mark Zuckerman says.

We'll get to see how Strasbrug deals with adversity, Ben Goessling says.

Drew Storen's mother compared Storen wearing an Expos cap at two points in his life on her Twitter account. (Storen sometimes served as the Expos batboy thanks to a family connection when they came to St. Louis or Cincinnati.) A must-click.

Former Expo Livan Hernandez was glad to wear the cap again, Bill Ladson writes.

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 11, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
 | Tags: For Strasburg, a rare case of not meeting expectations  
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Next: Today's lineups

Comments

This was bound to happen. The first game against Pittsburgh was the same thing-only in reverse. On that night, all the stars aligned.
Last night, all the stars aligned...in reverse order. a bit rusty, a bit over concerned about his arm maybe, questionable defense and a 3-4-5 tandum that suddenly has all the punch of a 90 year old prize fighter.
SS has ridiculous stuff. He still needs to learn how to pitch. It will take some time.

Posted by: TimDz | August 11, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Kind of like a second shoe dropping. Or are there more shoes to drop?

Actually a good night for this to happen. Had the Nats scored 7, this would have been a missed opportunity, As it was, they could have held the Marlins to 2, and still lost -- 2-2 taking it to extra innings where the Nats just do not win.

If the arm and shoulder really are OK, it was an OK night.

Posted by: KenNat | August 11, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-g'mornin'... a follow -up to Caps' question from last night. The Carter interview was during-oh, the 7th inning or there-abouts. You'd have to watch the replay but it's worth it.I wish someone from the main sites would address his analysis. On the radio show after the game, good ole Mac from ATL (that you, dargreg?)asked Phil Wood about the issue of "complacency".Now, I like Phil, respect his knowledge-but he basically said "Oh no-if you were around these guys you'd see it's not so."(More Lerner Stockholm Syndrome-only this time with the players and their effort) Which is exactly the POINT Carter was getting at. Homerism (and MASN employment) aside-just because you work/play hard...blah blah blah....I hate to use a football analogy here, but just cause you go to the gym EVERY day, run sprints..just cause you're in SHAPE don't mean you are in FOOTBALL shape. No one doubts that these guys work hard, wanna win, etc.That's true for the vast majority of teams, though. Somewhere, the focus is off the mark. Always seems to be on "...When we...". Yea, we need better players, but I just don't see any grim determination to say Enough!Enough, Dang-git! Not saying the game can't be fun, too but....how many times is Ian gonna 1st pitch ground into a dp before-well, you saw what Chris Carpenter did with the Cards' young s.s. made Carp wait to start the game, huh? Because he wasn't paying attention? Took him into the dugout hall after the inning and gave him a talking to. As I've said before-I'm not looking for any "bad" guys on the team, but I'm not so sure that a Bryce Harper and his athletic arrogance isn't JUST what this team needs...and Oh yea, the O's THUMPED the Tribe last night. STILL a small sample, and who knows how long Buck can not wear out his welcome, but
Oh well.....maybe Boz can address Carters' points.....
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | August 11, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Don't know if any of the other gus talked, but was good to hear from Carter and Dawson - both guys are great ambassadors for baseball.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 11, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Zendo.

Speculation about Bryce Harper interesting. Who knows how it will work out with this kid, but that did remind me of the stories told of the effect that the brash young Carlton Fisk had on the veteran Bosox of the early 70s, including Yaz--they didn't like this kid questioning their work ethic, they thought they already had things going in the right direction, I guess. Of course, Harper is not Fisk and our Nats are not the Bosox of the early 70s...
BTW, if Nats keep playing at the pace they have set since their 20-15 start, they will finish with 67 wins.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | August 11, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Interesting comments from Hanley Ramirez about facing SS the second time. Bottom line is that good major league hitters like Ramirez and Uggla will crush 99 mph fastballs from anyone. SS didn't have any of his other pitches working last night and fell behind almost everyone. The Marlins were patient and hit every high fastball on the nose. Strasburg has a ways to go before he is a complete pitcher like a Roy Halladay or C.C. Sabathia and that will take time.

I think it was good for Nats fans to see how human Strasburg could be since he's essentially spoiled us in his first 9 starts. More concerning to me was the lack of hitting from our 3-4-5 guys against the Marlins No. 3 starter who they had hit pretty well against last time. Sanchez dominated last night and deserved a lot of credit.

Posted by: wizfan89 | August 11, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Yes our 3-4-5 guys had a bad night but we need some other chances to score in our offense.

Posted by: 202character | August 11, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Only a bush league operation would throw Strasburg in there just so they could get the gate receipts for a home game instead of putting him on a rehab assignment. That's how you get injured again, by going full bore the first time back on the mound. That's why they have rehab assignments. Jordan Zimmerman's been down there long enough. So they're 'cautious' with J Zimm, who doesn't generate the same fan interest, but they put Strasburg back in the fire immediately because they want the money he generates. Management is completely hypocritical, and everyone knows it. There are some sick people who run this team.

Posted by: Brue | August 11, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Zimm's just being modest. He's performed up to all expectations from day one. Wish he had a team to go along with him, and I fear that if they aren't better when this contract is up he'll go find one.

Posted by: markfromark | August 11, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Only a bush league operation would throw Strasburg in there just so they could get the gate receipts for a home game instead of putting him on a rehab assignment. --Brue

So they should send everyone down for rehab everyone whose shoulder tightens up? Everyone who misses a start? What about a bad fingernail? A bad haircut?

Jordan Z. had ligament-replacement surgery. Hardly comparable.

Posted by: BPupp | August 11, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

>So they should send everyone down for rehab everyone whose shoulder tightens up? Everyone who misses a start? What about a bad fingernail? A bad haircut?

Jordan Z. had ligament-replacement surgery. Hardly comparable.

Posted by: BPupp

There's no crying in baseball. They have no way of knowing what the condition of his arm is because it hadn't been tested in three weeks. They're simply guessing. And since they lost all those money-making opportunities while he was on the DL, they wanted to get that money machine cranked up. Btw, he could have started out in LA if they were that desperate to get him back in there to help the team. But guess what? It wasn't a home series. It was a perfect situation to give him a rehab start and protect their investment. You get into all kinds of bad habits like dropping your arm slot because your arm isn't in shape to throw 100 pitches competitively. And things like that linger, and cause damage down the line. Anybody else would have been sent down, except they don't make the money for the team that Strasburg does. I don't mind helping people out, but you're going to have to start paying attention. It's all about money and lies with this organization.

Posted by: Brue | August 11, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Zendo congratulations you are spot on! I heard that call on my way back home from the hottest game I think I have sat thru since 2005. I totally agree, I think Phil-D-Wood is off the reservation when it comes to really peeling back the Nats onion. Lots of what if's, maybe's, if only etc., keep getting tossed out there by StanK, Rizzo and Gentelmen Jim which the MASN crew bites on but....., the bottom line continues to be, "is there really enough talent here that can move this team beyond the dream stage". I don't know but last night was a lesson in boring and maybe Willingham needs a few days off.

BTW who the heck is Cindy Boren? If that's whats passing for the Sports Editors desk these days at the WAPO, lord knows how bad it will get. See her first post of this AM and tell me I'm wrong.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | August 11, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

For those people, led by dargreg in Atlanta, who think the key thing is for this team to show more emotion, I'm assuming you watched the Reds-Cards game last night. Can't show much more emotion than Brandon Phillips did, can you?

Um, how'd that work out?

Posted by: baltova1 | August 11, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Brue - I think you are dead right about Srasburg not getting a rehab start.
There's no way any other young pitcher on the Nats has soreness, misses essentially 3 turns, and comes right back to the mound 20 days later.

Maybe Livo or another established vet.
No way for Olsen or Detwiler or Zimmermann or any of the other young uns.

They did indeed set him up to fail.
Just for he gate receipt? Who knows, but it's a pretty small and simple jump to that conclusion.

Posted by: Sunderland | August 11, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

baltova - I saw the Cards / Reds game differently.
I thought Brandon Phillips just kinda ran his mouth, and it was the Cardinals, espacially Yadier who showed the real emotion.
Phillips hurt his team with his yacking.
The Cards got fired up by it, and it showed.

Posted by: Sunderland | August 11, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Only a bush league operation would throw Strasburg in there just so they could get the gate receipts for a home game instead of putting him on a rehab assignment.

Posted by: Brue | August 11, 2010 11:13 AM

So the club yanked him from the Braves because they conspired to sell the game out without him pitching. Now they rushed him back to get 25k for the Marlins.

Jesus {rolls eyes} Any other grassy knoll Strasburg theories out there?

Posted by: Kev29 | August 11, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Fair point, Sunderland, fair point.

I still think it's very dangerous to believe that getting a baseball team "fired up" is a good way to go. Gripping your bat or the ball a little tighter doesn't usually help.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 11, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

baltova - I saw the Cards / Reds game differently.
I thought Brandon Phillips just kinda ran his mouth, and it was the Cardinals, espacially Yadier who showed the real emotion.
Phillips hurt his team with his yacking.
The Cards got fired up by it, and it showed.

Posted by: Sunderland | August 11, 2010 12:14 PM

Phillips probably thought it would all go the other way. Start some crap at home to get the Cincinnati players and fans fired up. Well it backfired, big time! This will probably be the week that they look back on when figuring out where the playoff race went wrong. And the Reds still have a ton of West Coast road games to deal with down the stretch. They could be cooked.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 11, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Earl Weaver was vehemently opposed to retaliating for a hit batter. He thought it would likely lead to an incident where somebody got hurt and there was a 50-50 shot it'd be one of your guys. Why risk it?

The best revenge is to win. Just as now, I don't think the Nats need a tougher attitude to win. They need better players and they need the guys they have now to play better. Even with the current losing streak, they're .500 for the last two weeks. That's not bad. Build on that as the starting pitching probably (hopefully?) improves.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 11, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

>They did indeed set him up to fail.
Just for he gate receipt? Who knows, but it's a pretty small and simple jump to that conclusion.

Posted by: Sunderland

I've had four years to jump to that conclusion. How long will it take you? You're already showing signs of getting it, but you still want to hold out for the dream of a real baseball club. I understand that. It's not reality, but as a fan with pride, I understand it. Strasburg only drawing 25k? A whole lot of people are getting it now. The Nats management is having problems because they can't use the star system like the Bullets did all those years when they pimped the other team's stars. They don't realize people want to see winning, not a couple of slam dunks and a 20 point loss.

Posted by: Brue | August 11, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Brue, since neither you nor I know what is the true condition of Strasburg's shoulder, you could be right that he should have gotten a rehab start before coming back. You could also be wrong and the people who most closely evaluated him could be right, he just had the soreness that comes from pitching all season for the first time in his career.

And I'm not interested in defending the Lerners, who definitely should have spent more money on major league talent (and should do it now by signing Dunn).

But why would they rush Strasburg back for a home game start to get more money from him, if it would jeopardize his long-term career? This guy's a cash cow for years to come if they handle him right. And they risk that to get him out there on a Tuesday night against the Marlins?

That doesn't make sense.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 11, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the Cardinals and Reds last night... After watching the Carinals' AA farm team for 4 years and watching how their players, manager, and coaches conducted themselves, I can say that the Cardinals are easy to dislike. I'm not saying what went on last night was good, bad, indifferent, or their fault. Just an observation... Most players have confidence. The Cardinals seem to have something beyond that. I hope the Nats don't get that way.

Posted by: fpcsteve | August 11, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Jordan Zimmermann has a 0.00 ERA and 0.286 WHIP in Syracuse.

He's going to be the franchise's savior.

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 11, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

baltova, the point Brue has made, and I agree with, is not that they rushed him back, but that Strasburg should have gotten a rehab start, perhaps a 70 - 80 pitch AAA start, to help him get his control and command back.
He had not pitched in 19 days. They were putting a rookie on an MLB mound 20 days since his previous game experience.

Any other young Nats pitcher, Olsen, Detwiler, etc, if they had soreness and an MRI and missed the equivalent of 3 starts would have been given a rehab start.

This is fully consistent with the careful way they manage their young arms.

Why did they not do this with Strasburg?

Posted by: Sunderland | August 11, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Loved Molina's reaction to Phillips last night. Especially after I refreshed my memory about Phillips' run-ins with the Nats:

(1) Threatens J.D. Martin after getting hit by pitch:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2009/09/watch_out_jd_martin.html

(2) Deliberately runs into Ian Desmond to draw interference call:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2010/06/a_wild_pitch_brandon_phillips.html

Phillips is a punk; I enjoyed (re)reading about Batista plunking him.

Posted by: joebleux | August 11, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

>That doesn't make sense.

Posted by: baltova1

Of course it doesn't make sense. But it happened. It makes about as much sense as a 3 billion dollar outfit like the Lerners complaining about baseball free agent salaries. The same as being afraid to sign Dunn to a 4-year deal originally - I don't know what they're afraid of, because they wouldn't have gone broke, so I can't speak to what motivates people with too much money. Just like you wanting to play devil's advocate so you can be in the middle of everything - it's probably a garden-variety control issue. They just have more money, so their control issues tend to affect a lot more people than just their immediate circle.

Posted by: Brue | August 11, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"Ryan Zimmerman thought back to when he was 22 and trying to make it in the majors. 'I didn't throw 100,' Zimmerman said. 'I was just a defensive third baseman. If I got a couple hits, it was cool.'"
--------------
A couple hits?!? He was batting close to .400 during his September 2005 call-up....

Posted by: Juan-John1 | August 11, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Phillips is a punk

Posted by: joebleux | August 11, 2010 1:19 PM

...and also a really good player. Shame those *honored* Expos gave him (and Lee... and Sizemore) up for Colon. Sure could have used those three fellas when the Expos were relocated.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 11, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Of course it doesn't make sense. But it happened.

Posted by: Brue | August 11, 2010 1:27 PM

Starting Strasburg last night is just going to (most likely) end up costing the Lerners a lucrative Strasmas in September. So what's the point of management rushing him when they'll be missing out on him again at some point this season.

I'm 100% with the Lerners are cheap crowd, but enough of the conspiracy theories. They're just cheap - not evil.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 11, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

kev29, I don't remember Bud Selig (or the MLB lackies who dismantled the Expos) being "honored".

Posted by: joebleux | August 11, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"That doesn't make sense."

Welcome to the wonderful world of Brue.

Although maybe if you have a couple of drinks it might help. Then at least you'd be closer to a level playing field with him.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 11, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

But why would they rush Strasburg back for a home game start to get more money from him, if it would jeopardize his long-term career? This guy's a cash cow for years to come if they handle him right. And they risk that to get him out there on a Tuesday night against the Marlins?

That doesn't make sense.

Posted by: baltova1

Amen. It doesn't make sense, and there's tons of evidence the Nationals acted with all due caution (for example, having Strasburg throw the equivalent of a couple innings to live hitters--well, more or less live hitters).

I'm more interested in the resigning Dunn issue. He isn't hitting with runners on base (much less in scoring position), and he's driven in only 47 teammates in in 112 games. (He's driven in himself 30 times, of course.) I wouldn't give him four years at big bucks. But they need to have a replacement cleanup hitter--anyone know of any heading for free agency?

Posted by: BPupp | August 11, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Baltova1,

Where do you stand on "leadership qualities" in baseball players? Think that's an unquantifiable myth with no bearing on teams' records?

Your referencing Earl Weaver reminded me of FRobby and his influence on the O's, and of a great FRobby story recounted by Eddie Mathews, of all people, in his autobio. In the 1st game of a doubleheader, FRobby slid in hard at 3B and came up swinging his arm, hitting Eddie on the side of the head. The two got into it, with Eddie getting the best of it.
Frank left the game for repairs, and Eddie was ejected. They both were back for the 2nd game, in which Frank, with puffy, bleeding face, doubled and homered as the Reds beat the Braves. Frank knew how to channel his emotions. Not the same as eliminating them or not having them in the first place. Channeling emotions constructively--the opposite of gripping the bat tighter--is using the power of those emotions to improve your performance.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | August 11, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

He's fine. The Nats are fine. They also have the opportunity to use this last month and a half to help figure out what their pitching staff might look like going into next season. They have alot of promising pitchers, and alot of talent that could net value on the trade market.

Posted by: AsstGM | August 11, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

>I wouldn't give him four years at big bucks. But they need to have a replacement cleanup hitter--anyone know of any heading for free agency?

Posted by: BPupp

Of course you wouldn't, you're not very bright. Half measures avail you nothing. Dunn is only asking for 65% of Ryan Howard's contract (MLB Tonight). Yeah, Adrian Gonzalez is on the market. Maybe he'll skip over a contender and go straight to the basement and sign here for twice as much as Dunn. Brilliant. Another clay pigeon.

Posted by: Brue | August 11, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

The Expos (Omayr Minaya) traded away Phillips, Lee, Sizemore and Bay because MLB said the team was going to be contracted at the end of that season and they were in the playoff hunt. Minaya figured they might as well go out in a blaze of glory since prospects are no use to a team that that wasn't going to exist any longer.

Posted by: slopitchtom | August 11, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

>Welcome to the wonderful world of Brue.

Although maybe if you have a couple of drinks it might help. Then at least you'd be closer to a level playing field with him.

Posted by: FeelWood

You can't get caught up in personalities when you're trying to advance the discussion. You're only hurting yourself. You just better hope that the way he was dropping his arm slot, opening his hips too early and having his ball sail isn't a lingering problem. I guess Dibble's wrong too. He compared him to BALLESTER on the X-Mo. Identical problem. That's why his curveball wasn't working because his mechanics were screwed up and he was flying open. This is what I'm talking about - if your mechanics are messed up, or rusty or whatever, your arm pays for it. Class is in session. It helps when you watch the entire game and the post-game show. You can learn a lot.

Posted by: Brue | August 11, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-good discussion going on here. And while I can't presume to speak for dargreg, at least in my case when I speak of....oh, I dunno-grit? Determination?-I'm DEFINITELY not talking Phillips-type smack."Emotion" doesn't have to be worn on your sleeve....and I'm not even sure emotion is what I'm referring to-or looking for. Just...resolve? Intensity?You know -the old "I know it when I see it". And like you (I think), Baltova-that stuff-particularly the yelling mgr.-wears on me. Don't need one of those "The Beatings Will Continue until the Morale Improves" types! Yet maybe we have a "valiant, noble, trying my best but...it's not in the cards yet.." sorta attitude developing.
I really wish someone could dig out a transcript of Gary Carter last night as he expresses it much better than I can.And I don't presume to know what goes on in the locker room OR to question the teams effort or desire. Maybe the problem IS "gripping the bat too tight". A story: I was once in a position where I was the "top dog"...thought I was doing things the right way...and I was. Then I got a new coach who-without yelling-got me to buy in to the idea that I could do more- by changing my perspective on what I should/could do and expect from others. Danged if I didn't go from being best on the team to being one of the best overall...and we went from "decent" to being at the top. (He had that effect on everyone, pretty much.)Not disagreeing with anyone here-in fact, just the opposite. Guess I'm just yearning for our team to be MORE than the sum of its parts...we're STILL the only team other than the Pirates to not have won more than three games in a row all year-or to win 8 of 10 in any stretch.We keep hearing-like Tippy points out-about how great it's gonna be WHEN...this, that or the other. Maybe I'm a sucker but I buy IN to that! And wonder when some of our guys realize that THEY are the ones who have to make it happen!
I look forward to the day when I don't have to keep looking to the Gang for overall excellence -that the play on the field is the same level as the discussion and analysis here (and how shameful would it be to NEVER surround Ryan-truly one of the best young players in the game-with a lineup worthy of his talents?)
Ah, well-I hope all this hand wringing and bellyaching on my part is just the dark before the dawn-we ARE much closer than our play indicates, IMHO.Division champs next year, bay-beee!Really!
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | August 11, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

>...and also a really good player. Shame those *honored* Expos gave him (and Lee... and Sizemore) up for Colon. Sure could have used those three fellas when the Expos were relocated.

Posted by: Kev29

They've had 8 drafts to rectify the problem since then. Get over it big boy.

Posted by: Brue | August 11, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

>I wouldn't give him four years at big bucks. But they need to have a replacement cleanup hitter--anyone know of any heading for free agency?

Posted by: BPupp

Of course you wouldn't, you're not very bright.

Posted by: Brue

You're right, Brue. If I was bright I wouldn't have wasted anyone's time responding to your Strasburg opinion.

But I really wasn't asking you about resigning Dunn and who the alternatives might be. Anyone have a thought on that that isn't absurdly ad hominem?

Posted by: BPupp | August 11, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Brue, you marvelous stallion, you, feeling good today, are we?

First, there's a difference between playing devil's advocate and not always agreeing with someone else's opinion, but it's pointless to try to spell that out, if you don't already get it.

I think there are reasons to question how deep the Lerners are willing to go into their wallet, I just don't think pitching Strasburg last night without a rehab start is one of them. Yes, other pitchers got rehab starts and he didn't. But maybe that's because his shoulder wasn't as hurt as the other guy's. Again, why sacrifice the meal ticket like that?

BTW, by pitching Strasburg last night, the Nats insure that only five of his remaining eight or nine starts are at home (if I reviewed the schedule properly). If they were worried about maximizing the income he brings in, they probably could've held off his return to pick up more home games. So maybe that's not their only factor in deciding how to use him.

Now, Brue, here's something for you to worry about: I agree with you on something: "You just better hope that the way he was dropping his arm slot, opening his hips too early and having his ball sail isn't a lingering problem."

I also thought he was dropping his arm last night and said that to Sheinin in the in-game chat. He didn't agree but I feel better knowing that you do...

Posted by: baltova1 | August 11, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The problem there, though, is that you're assuming the two things are related. Frank hit a lot of home runs, and most of them didn't come after he got beaten up.

I used to think correlation equaled causation, but I took a course in statistical analysis. Is that why I changed my mind? Maybe, maybe not.

****************
They both were back for the 2nd game, in which Frank, with puffy, bleeding face, doubled and homered as the Reds beat the Braves. Frank knew how to channel his emotions.
Posted by: CapPeterson1 | August 11, 2010 2:08 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

"It helps when you watch the entire game and the post-game show. You can learn a lot."

How many cases do you generally go through when you do that, Brue?

Posted by: FeelWood | August 11, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Cap, good point on the leadership qualities. F. Robby definitely had them and many a player on the Orioles (led by Jim Palmer) have testified over the years that he was the missing piece in the puzzle that took the Orioles from being a good team that finished second and third to a team that went to four World Series in six years. I also think that was Frank's strength as a manager. I was never a fan of his game strategy but he took that Expos team that was in total limbo and got them to play competitive baseball throughout the process. I'd have to say that one of the three or four greatest moments in Nats history would be his confrontation with Mike Scioscia (BTW, does anybody know where I can find the video of that online? I haven't seen it in years).

I think those guys exist but it's not necessarily easy to determine who they are and when and where they'll be helpful. I think this team needs some. I don't think they've lost any in player moves in the last few years and I thought they added some (Kennedy, Marquis, Livan, Pudge) in recent moves. I don't know if those guys have helped but I think Rizzo is looking for them. I also wonder if this is why they're hesitant to sign Dunn, that they'd rather have a leader in his spot on the team. Not sure where they're going to get that guy who can lead and hit 40 homers, so I'd sign Dunn and try to find the leader as an add-on.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 11, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

>How many cases do you generally go through when you do that, Brue?
Posted by: FeelWood

Not nearly enough to watch these idiots make the same mistakes every night.

It's like shooting ducks at a carnival.

Posted by: Brue | August 11, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

hmmm, is it hot in here or is it me?

I'm with joebleux re. the Molina-Phillips interaction. Evidently it got the wrong team riled, as the Cardinals would seem to have their brooms handy in Cincinnati today.

In other news, how about that Astros fan letting his date take one for the team? Evidently he "lost it in the lights." Course, she could have brought her own glove and called him off. Maybe she'll do that, anyway. Call him off, I mean...

Hope our guys can come back and put a curly W in the books tonight.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

>I also thought he was dropping his arm last night and said that to Sheinin in the in-game chat. He didn't agree but I feel better knowing that you do...

Posted by: baltova1

Yeah you made a lot of sense on the chat. I logged on after Strasburg was out of the game and I was going to start in on Sheinin for rationalizing Strasburg's 'bad breaks' - 'if that kid Morrison had been called out on strikes or something, there wouldn't have been that much damage' to paraphrase - but I figure that media in this town is deathly afraid to tell the truth about the Lerners for some reason, and they get nasty when they're told differently. That's just the way it is. If this was NY or Philly, this organization would have been in the dumpster a couple of years ago.

Posted by: Brue | August 11, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

baltova, not sure re. the pine tar incident footage, but here's a Robinson stare-down that you might like. :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNEmyHsqoVY

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Brue, you said something nice about me! I think we had a moment there! Thanks, brother!

Posted by: baltova1 | August 11, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

>But I really wasn't asking you about resigning Dunn and who the alternatives might be. Anyone have a thought on that that isn't absurdly ad hominem?

Posted by: BPupp

How about this? If they keep this free fall up (targeted for 67 wins), I'll bet there ain't a chance in the world that Dunn re-signs. Jeez, I thought I was being nice. My bedside manner with the mildly baseball handicapped isn't what it should be admittedly. Muttley.gif!

Posted by: Brue | August 11, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, natsfan1a1. A true classic...

Posted by: baltova1 | August 11, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, baltova. Couldn't find the Robinson/Scioscia footage but did find this related piece after a quick search:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sports/2002340750_stone19.html

Sigh. Those were the days...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Sec3,

Interesting though that the perception in baseball was that Frank hit better after he'd been knocked down than he did otherwise.
Epilog to the incident: According to Mathews, Robby went on a tear for a week after the incident, at which time the Reds' manager Freddy Hutchinson sent Mathews a telegram: "Thanks for waking Frank up." But what did Hutchinson know? Probably never took a statistics course.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | August 11, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Of course to be a leader it helps to be the best player on a team. Which Frank R. generally was. And the most influential ones are position players. Sounds like Zimmy, but he doesn't seem to have the personality for it. I hate the way he apologizes to that caveman in the Geico ad.

Dunn may not be a true leader, but a lot of the (most talented) Nats seem to badly want him here after this year. Could letting them down be the worst thing about letting him go?

Posted by: BPupp | August 11, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Here is the link to the Gary Carter interview:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=10844205

Posted by: catie-boy | August 11, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Zimmy, but he doesn't seem to have the personality for it. I hate the way he apologizes to that caveman in the Geico ad.

Posted by: BPupp

Now if you just paid that much attention to detail while watching the actual game.

I'm going for a smoothie

Posted by: Brue | August 11, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

"Freddy Hutchinson sent Mathews a telegram: "Thanks for waking Frank up." But what did Hutchinson know? Probably never took a statistics course. "

CapP, maybe what Hutchinson forgot was that Robinson was 9 for 18 the week *before* the incident (including 3 for 4 with 2 home runs the game before the brawl with Mathews). He was already awake.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?n1=robinfr02&t=b&year=1960

(The fight was August 15)

Posted by: joebleux | August 11, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

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