Baseball Archives

April 1, 2008

Nat's 9th inning rallies...

are becoming routine! See the following Sporting News article.

March 31, 2008

Nats win their first game at Nationals Park!


February 27, 2008

Bonds as a Devil Ray?

Some think Barry Bonds could be in Tampa Bay this year. Might not be a bad thing for the francise. It would give people a reason to go see a Rays game this year.

Food at the new Nationals Ballpark

The Washington Nationals announced yesterday the food vendors at the new stadium. Too bad they didn't announce the beer brands that will be available. Guinness? Clipper City? Sweetwater? Flying Dog??

February 25, 2008

Brad Lidge's phirst impressions as a Philthy

I see that Brad (meltdown) Lidge is off to a distinguished start as a Philly! One pitch is all it took.

February 19, 2008

Nick or Dmitri?

Here are a couple articles on the Nick Johnson or Dmitri Young debate. You have to trade one. Which would you keep?

  • MVN National's Blog
  • USA Today

    I say keep the younger guy. Roll the dice and cross your fingers.

  • February 15, 2008

    Schwag at the new Ballpark this year

    Looking over the Nationals home schedule for the first half of the year, the following dates pop out to me:

    Thu., May 1 Pirates
    Dmitri Young Bobblehead to the first 15,000 fans

    Thu., Jun. 5 Cardinals
    Ryan Zimmerman Bobblehead to the first 15,000 fans

    I LOVE BOBBLEHEADS! I have a Chad Cordero bobblehead from 2006 on my desk. Coolness factor is way up there.

    Nat's pitchers and catchers report today

    Spring is starting! My sister sent me an email yesterday that made me think about this baseball classic...


    February 12, 2008

    Patterson finally ready?

    I was wondering about John Patterson this year. This article tells about how he feels coming into this year.

    January 30, 2008

    Johnny (don't call me Erik) Estrada to join Nats

    Here's the announcement about Johnny Estrada joining the Nats. Another catcher. Apparently Jesus Flores will now be moved to minor leagues to get more playing time. And I can't believe that Ryan Zimmerman still doesn't have a contract for this season!

    January 23, 2008

    Nick Johnson or Dmitri Young?

    I keep wondering why the Nat's gave Dmitri Young a contract extension and not Nick Johnson. This article attempts to explain some of the thinking. Not that it's right...

    June 12, 2007

    New stadium seating plans

    The Washington Nationals web site posted information about seating in the new stadium.

    See the Nats Blog also.

    The new stadium is rumored to have the most expensive seats for next year. :(

    June 3, 2007

    Padres v. Nationals

    Tyler and I went to the Padres game today. Weather was terrible with a driving drizzle throughout the day. We left after 5 innings and went to Sweetwater Tavern dry off. By the way, the Nats lost 7-3. The only consolation was being able to see David Wells pitch. That was fun. He's a big boy!

    May 8, 2007

    Baseball Most Foul: The Nats Reinvent Bad

    The following article appeared in this morning's Washington Post. Enjoy. I'm still predicting a 40 win season. Historically BAD.

    By Linton Weeks
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, May 8, 2007; C01

    Can Washington learn to love a bunch of baseball losers?

    And by "bunch of losers," we mean the Washington Nationals. They are just not very good so far this year. In polite terms: They stink.

    In fact, if the Nats play their cards - and the Cards - wrong, they could turn out to be absolutely, conclusively, without-a-doubt drop-dead dreadful. Not just losers, but looooozzzzers. The possibility has not escaped sportswriters.

    The 2007 Nationals:

    " . . . have reeked this season," notes Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

    " . . . have a chance to be one of baseball's all-time bad baseball teams," writes Bob Matthews of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

    " . . . make the 1962 New York Mets look like a touring all-star team," according to Rick Maese of the Baltimore Sun.

    When they are at their worst and hitting on no cylinders, the Nats, like the classic bad-as-dog's-breath teams, find new and creative ways to lose. In a recent game against the New York Mets, the Nats blew a ninth-inning, two-out lead and wound up losing by four runs in the 12th inning. In another game, they were down by one run in the bottom of the eighth inning. The bases were loaded and the Nats couldn't score.

    They'll take their'n and lose to your'n and they'll take your'n and lose to their'n.

    The Nats Fan is still trying to figure it all out. Season ticket holder Joe Baker, 46, of Falls Church, was in a red Nats cap and jersey at a home game on a recent wind-swept weeknight. Though he doubts this year's Nats will be the worst team ever, he says, "I see them losing 90 games. But that's okay. We're building for the future."

    Indeed. If the Nats aren't careful, they could be working toward becoming even worse.

    It's still early in the season. After last night's loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Nats had dropped six straight. At 9-23, they are on track to win about 50 games and lose 110 or so, which wouldn't make them the all-time rottenest team. But as the season slouches on, there could be more injuries. Losing can lead to bickering, finger-pointing, clubhouse tumult and more losing. Other teams will discover Washington's weaknesses. And some top players could be traded to successful, needy/greedy teams as the season skids toward the playoffs. It could get tobacco-plug ugly.

    The 2007 Nationals might rival some of the sorriest teams on record. The 1962 New York Mets, who won 40 games and lost 120. The 2003 Detroit Tigers, who lost 119 games. The 1916 Philadelphia Athletics, who went 36-117. Or, if you believe what goes around comes around, another Washington team that went 38-113 in 1904. They were called the Nationals.

    Arguably the most loserly team in American sporting history is the nightly opposition to the Harlem Globetrotters. Fielded by general manager John Ferrari, the Globetrotters' Atlantic City-based opponents have lost more than 5,000 games since 1971.

    "I tell the players that we are not defined by winning and losing," says the eternally optimistic Ferrari. His team, by the way, is called the Nationals.

    This year's Washington Nats have every reason to be called awful. Nick Johnson, the team's premier hitter, is out with a broken leg. Former all-star pitcher Chad Cordero is a closer who depends on the team to get runs (which they don't) before he gets into a game. The five starting pitchers are neophytes. Their combined record in the majors coming into the season was 44-58. Can you say base pathos?

    They did not score in the first inning of any of their first 22 games, setting a new National League record. That's Little League bad. Maybe they should be called the L'Enfants Terribles. They are having trouble in the pitching, hitting and fielding departments. But other than that, they are dynamite.

    So we return to the question: Can Washington love a losing team?

    Maybe not on paper. But in this town we take paper and we shred it.

    There are two kinds of sports fans in Washington - the Wild Ones who root for the Redskins, and the Mild Ones who cheer for the Nationals. The Wizards, the Capitals and the United have a mixture of both archetypes.

    Traditionally, this city loves winners, not losers. When the Wizards went to the second round of the NBA playoffs in 2005 - for the first time in more than two decades - the city went crazy. The capital tipped caps to the Capitals in 1999-2000, when the NHL team won its division. And, of course, Washingtonians so gloried in the glory years of the Redskins, 1981-91, that many fans still think of them as a winning franchise, though they have gone 104-135 in the 15 years since the Super Bowl championship in 1992.

    The city's fans were so ho-hum about the Washington Senators that the team moved out of town twice.

    The only way Washington could really get behind the Nats is if the team wins the World Series in the next five years.

    Or . . . if the Nats were to become the best losing team ever - an epic, historic, unforgettable bomb squad for the ages.

    A team that the Wild Ones can get behind, because it's so much fun to drink beer and laugh at ineptitude, and Mild Ones can support because the team would be statistically exceptional. The best worst team ever fielded.

    It has worked in Chicago, where the Lovable Losers draw huge crowds all season long.

    The Cubs management, says Eve Geroulis, "would be chagrined to invest in players that would actually revive the franchise. I swear to God."

    Lifelong Chicagoan and Cubs fan Geroulis, 44, teaches business and marketing at Loyola University in the city. In a phone interview, she says she is fascinated by how Cubs fans have embraced what she calls "the Lovable Loser mantle."

    She says: "In America, we love the fallen hero. The Cubs live up to that. We love them for their losses."

    Wrigley Field, she says, is the epicenter of chic. People go to the games for the experience, and part of that experience is watching the Cubs - who even after spending a truckload of money in the off-season - continue to lose in all kinds of ways.

    Sam Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern near Wrigley, agrees. "The Cubs can be in last place and still draw millions of people. It doesn't matter if they lose . . . the fans will follow them."

    Losing is important to the team's identity, Geroulis says. "We bathe ourselves in it. It's a blanket of comfort, in a disturbing sort of way."

    She says the Cubs used to feel a kinship with the Boston Red Sox, but now the Sox are winners. "We're all alone, man."

    Unless, of course, the Nationals can get their act together. And really fall apart.

    April 12, 2007

    Brad Lidge Video posted

    I made sure to put Brad Lidge on my "do not draft" list for fantasy baseball this year. In part because of the meltdown he experienced last year in the playoffs. Be sure to watch it.

    April 5, 2007

    Nats Win!

    First of 60 games. The offense actually came to life for 1/2 an inning. It's a start...

    March 26, 2007

    Philthy Blog added

    Added a link to Beer*Leaguer, a Philadelphia Phillies blog for all you philthy Philly phans. Say that three times phast.

    March 22, 2007

    Angelos Says Plenty

    From Tuesday's Washington Post, Tom Boswell had a great column bashing the Orioles' Peter Angelos. Here's a link to the column. A copy of the text is provided below. My favorite part is where he actually says Brian Roberts (.286/10/55) "is just like Cal Ripkin". He's beginning to remind me of George Steinbrenner back in the 70's - 80's.

    By Thomas Boswell
    Tuesday, March 20, 2007; E01

    It's better to remain silent and be thought a meddlesome nightmare owner than to speak and remove all doubt. Now the Orioles and their fans know the truth. Peter Angelos hasn't changed. His silence in recent years, the claims of his organization that he no longer holds every major decision hostage to his whims, means nothing. He's just gone underground.

    The Baltimore owner still vetoes major trades to keep his favorite players in town regardless of the preferences of the men he has running his team. He'll still blow up any deal, free agent signing or draft pick if he feels like it. And he'll do it for any reason that pleases him. For an owner who inherited a great franchise and turned it into a disaster with nine straight losing seasons, no confession is more damaging. All of baseball will read Angelos's latest words and shake its head in pity for the O's.

    "I just thought that Brian [Roberts] should stay an Oriole, not that the front office didn't think so. They were looking at it from a standpoint of improving the ballclub," Angelos said Sunday, confirming that he nixed an offseason deal for slugging first baseman Adam LaRoche. "And they may have been totally right. I looked on it as the retention of a player that came through our system and who is of such great value to the club for all the things that he does out there with the public and in the hospitals and so on.

    "This is a special kind of player, just like Cal Ripken was for the Orioles. And the kind of player you want to keep as part of the organization. And so there's an area where one might say that I have interfered, but I felt impelled to do that from the standpoint of keeping a player that I thought was critical."

    It's almost hard to imagine where to start. Did Angelos think he'd be hailed a hero because he saved a popular second baseman from being traded?

    For a trial lawyer who is accustomed to speaking extemporaneously and being accountable for every word, this must be a career-worst summation to the jury. In the offseason, team executives Mike Flanagan and Jim Duquette were considering a deal to "improve the ballclub." But Angelos squelched it because Roberts is a fan favorite who's great for the Orioles' image?

    Roberts has great value to the club "in the hospitals and so on"?

    LaRoche hit 32 homers in 492 at-bats last year and, at 27, is just entering his prime. The Orioles have no first baseman. Okay, they have people who own large gloves and can stand near first base. But they don't have a smooth-fielding, left-handed hitting first baseman who, if he got 600 at-bats a year, might be the 40-homer anchor that the Orioles need in the middle of their lineup behind Miguel Tejada.

    Roberts is a special player but he's not "just like Cal Ripken." However, that's the sort of bizarre comment you'd expect Angelos to make. He's precise and analytical in business and law, yet he never seems to get anything exactly right in baseball. His view of the game is tilted, warped, just not quite right.

    In other words, as brilliant as he is in other fields, his gifts don't translate to baseball. The verdict came in long ago: He doesn't have it. Just because Angelos made a billion dollars and bought a team, that doesn't mean he understands the sport it plays. He's still a baseball dope. That's okay. It's no sin - if he'd stay out of the kitchen. But he won't. He has to give orders to his chefs.

    So when an owner says that blowing up a trade for a possible cleanup hitter is "an area where one might say that I have interfered," you just want to slap your forehead until it's black and blue.

    What Angelos refuses to grasp, no matter how many times he is told, is that the issue is not the merit of any particular trade, free agent signing or draft pick. The problem, and it is absolutely central to the Orioles' organizational disaster, is that Baltimore is cursed with a billionaire who is constantly injecting himself at the last minute to reverse decisions that have been made after long labor and best judgments by his baseball people.

    This is a perfect recipe for dysfunction and the Orioles repeat it year after year. Why do you think so few superior free agents want to sign with Baltimore? Why do others in baseball say that the Orioles try to compete using "Confederate money"? It's because precious few stars are going to pick a town where a 77-year-old plays favorites among his athletes and ultimately makes any goofy decision he wants. No matter how capricious, even if he's comparing home runs to hospital visits.

    "It's just another Angelos story to add to the list," one baseball executive said. "He affects everything they do. They may never overcome him. Why would they want a first baseman when they can overpay for middle relievers and have four DHs?"

    What elite high school draft pick, choosing between the Orioles and a career in college, wouldn't be swayed to stay in school by the universal mocking of Angelos's reputation for meddling? The grapevine buzz was dwindling about the draft day when Angelos reversed his scouting director and changed the team's top picks at the last minute. Now it'll get new legs.

    What rival GM wants to spend his time, especially in trading-deadline situations, working on a complex deal with the Orioles when it's known how often Angelos has erased all the work at the last minute? How will Roberts now feel about Flanagan and Duquette? And how enthusiastic will the Atlanta Braves feel about working up another big deal with Baltimore?

    What Orioles star, in his walk year, wants to put his faith in Baltimore's ability to negotiate a new contract during the season? After all, from Rafael Palmeiro to Mike Mussina, the Orioles' owner has dawdled for months on big contracts - paralyzing all parties - as his asbestos-wrangling background misinforms him that more time off the clock equals more negotiating leverage.

    "I would like to give our fans a winner. That doesn't mean upon that happening that I would then sell the team. I have no real interest in selling the team," Angelos said. Of course, he doesn't. He wants to be vindicated - on his terms.

    "I really want to take away all that criticism you guys are able to lob," Angelos said amiably to reporters Sunday. "It's my way of getting even. Of course, it bothers you. No one likes to be criticized, but you have to deal with it. I am the managing partner, so I have to take the heat. And I make the decisions, so I should take the heat."

    Sigh. How sad can it get? For the Orioles, their fans and Angelos, too. He's finally got it half right. He is the person to blame. But he doesn't understand why. His curse is that he wants to win so much, be loved and cheered so much, that he simply can't loosen control. He's the boss, so he thinks he has to rule his own fate, "make the decisions."

    But he doesn't have to. And he shouldn't. He's no good at it. That's been proved. It's never going to change. Angelos doesn't have to sell his club. But he has to take his hands off its throat because, as we see again, he's still strangling to death the team he loves.

    February 1, 2007

    El Hombre still is numero uno

    From the Sporting News...

    Are you ready for another baseball debate involving the words "Albert Pujols" and No. 1? Don't worry: We're not here to argue that Pujols should have been the 2006 NL MVP. We are here, however, to argue about who should be No. 1 in your 2007 fantasy baseball draft: Pujols or new Cub Alfonso Soriano.

    But there's no need to frantically start diving into the stat book -- Fantasy Source guru Rob Hurtt already has done the work for you. Hurtt's hypothesis: Soriano might steal more bases, but Pujols superiority in every other hitting category more than makes up the difference for Soriano's superior swipe totals.

    But what about the Wrigley Field effect? And, as SN user ogremace says: "I expect great things from Soriano in a lineup with Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Jacque Jones and Matt Murton."

    Soriano will be hitting in a friendlier park than in 2006, and he will have a better lineup. No doubt about it. But as Hurtt points out, there's no doubting Pujols' consistency.

    If you still believe what someone once said about statistics (you know, lies, damn lies and statistics and all that) and want to go with Soriano, feel free. Just don't say we didn't warn you.

    Stick w/ Pujols if you get the number 1 pick.

    January 27, 2007

    An Embarrassment Of Pitches

    By Thomas Boswell
    Friday, January 26, 2007; Page E01

    This week, Ted Lerner said he thought this winter's expensive free agent signings "could take baseball out of control." His son Mark finds the current payroll explosion "shocking." They're both correct. But they should realize two things.

    First, since 1976, when free agency arrived, baseball payrolls have gone out of control every few years, like clockwork. Perhaps Alex Rodriguez gets a $250 million deal. Or Chan Ho Park makes $15.5 million last season to go 7-7. In this era, that's just baseball's pox. When a new owner buys a club, part of his responsibility is to cope with that basic reality. Payroll isn't the fans' problem. The customer still has a right to expect a big league product for a big league ticket price -- especially in old RFK.

    Second, if the Nationals' pitching rotation isn't significantly improved by Opening Day, the Lerner family runs the risk of fielding a team that could be even more "shocking" and "out of control" than the salary spiral. The Nats could be shockingly unprofessional, unworthy of the town they represent and the $611 million price of the team's new park.

    Right now, the Nats' rotation is John Patterson plus Nobody Else. That is, unless you consider Shawn Hill, Jason Bergmann, Beltran Perez, Billy Traber and Mike O'Connor a staff. They won 10 games combined last year. If the often-injured Patterson can't stay healthy -- and he's never won more than nine games -- there's almost no limit to how bad this team could be. How many fans could that alienate? And why, for the sake of saving such a small amount of money, would you take such a risk?

    Viewed from 30,000 feet, the Nationals aren't doing much wrong. The Lerners and team president Stan Kasten have a perfectly plausible grand plan for constructing a winning organization. Spend top dollar to sign scouts, coaches and young players. Voluntarily contribute at least $30 million to improvements in the new park that, the owners assume, will ultimately increase their fan base and thus pay for themselves. Forestall any big free agent signings until after the '07 season. Then use the anticipated new revenue from Nationals Park on the Anacostia to field an improving team when the Southeast project actually opens. The Lerners have even taken a public vow not to take "a dime out of the team for at least 10 years." Also, it doesn't hurt the Lerners' standing within ownership circles that they are sticking to the party line on sinful salaries.

    "People will get tired of hearing about 'The Plan,' but it's the truth," Mark Lerner told The Post this week. "We know we'll get little hits from people who are a little impatient. But we're very enthusiastic."

    "Little hits" won't be the Nats' problem this season. The big hits -- the one-hop triples up the gap, the upper-deck homers, the nights at RFK when the umpires wish that the big leagues had a 10-run mercy rule -- will be the ones that do the damage. And it's the endangered enthusiasm of Washington's new fan base -- not the enthusiasm of its owners -- that is at issue.

    The Nationals can't cancel this season and turn a time machine forward to spring 2008, though by June they may wish they could. At the very moment when the local baseball market -- an ill-defined thing at best -- is forming its first impressions of the new owners, the team is perilously close to insulting a touchy town that has a thin skin after a 33-season gap without baseball.

    The problem isn't Alfonso Soriano. Nobody expected the Nats to approach the Cubs' $138 million offer. Jose Vidro is classy, but he can be replaced. Even the memory of the team slamming the door behind popular ex-manager Frank Robinson may fade. But how many times do the Nats want to roll the dice after watching their attendance drop 20 percent last season?

    During this offseason, the Nats took a big and unnecessary gamble. They decided they could ignore their own free agents Ramon Ortiz and Tony Armas, the only Nats starters (along with Livan Hernandez) who won more than five games last year. That's f-i-v-e games. Pedro Astacio? Do without him, too. In their place, the Nats hoped to find cheap pitching available in late January. Not good pitching, just cheap -- a couple of 160-inning veteran stiffs to prevent the team from becoming tragicomic.

    That inexpensive market for last-free-agent-standing pitchers never developed. This week, the Nats discovered that, with their bare-bones payroll, they couldn't even compete for humble free agent Tomo Ohka, Robinson's old feuding partner. Ortiz is gone. Armas is going. Of course, Roger Clemens and Jeff Weaver will go to contenders for a fortune. What's left? It's ugly: Jason Johnson (3-12) or Bruce Chen (0-7). Perhaps only two pitchers who suit the Nationals' modest innings-eating needs are still available, even in theory: Steve Trachsel (15-8, 4.97 ERA for the Mets) or Mark Redman (11-10, 5.71 ERA for the Royals).

    But those established journeymen may earn $3 million to $4 million a year in the current inflated marketplace. The Nats are dreaming of finding pitchers who will accept half that. They don't exist. Who can you get for $1.5 million? Well, the Nats' new TV announcer, Don Sutton, is only 61. Once, asked if it was true he sometimes scuffed the ball with sandpaper or tore it on a buckle, Sutton said, "I'd wear a tool belt out there if they'd let me." If the Nats sign Gaylord Perry to do radio, get suspicious.

    On Feb. 13, when pitchers (loosely defined) and catchers report, Washington will welcome 37 -- count them, 37 -- pitching vagabonds, orthopedic anomalies and surgical experiments to their training camp in Viera, Fla. If you don't immediately recognize some prime rotation "candidates" like Tim Redding, Jerome Williams, Joel Hanrahan and Brandon Claussen, there are reasons. Some have been out of the majors for years. Some just never arrived. Don't fault General Manager Jim Bowden. Within budget restraints, he's tried, though sending a contract to Satchel Paige's last known address may have been desperate.

    The Nats expected to have a bad team in '07. The idea didn't bother them. They like the prospect of a high draft position. They think season ticket sales will be underpinned by the desire of fans to grab a place in line for tickets in the new park.

    However, it now appears that the Lerners, coached by Kasten and not contradicted by Bowden, severely underestimated a worst-case scenario in which they might report to Florida without an actual major league pitching staff. Nobody expected the free agent tsunami of recent months. But it arrived. And the Nats, without an adequate backup plan, are reduced to moaning about all the evil teams that, somehow, looked at the prosperous baseball industry and thought higher salaries were justified.

    Now, unless some purse strings get loosened in a hurry, the Nationals may be just one injury to their "ace" away from embarrassing not just themselves, but their sport.

    And one might ask "Charlie... Do you REALLY want a share of the season tickets this year?"

    January 8, 2007

    Nationals Stadium Info

    Info about the Nationals new ballpark is starting to appear on the Nationals home page. Even a countdown clock. Only 448 more days 'til opening day 2008. But I wouldn't be surprised if the 2008 season starts in RFK.

    Too bad they don't tell you that there will only be about 1500 parking spaces in a garage near the new stadium. Guess they think everyone is going to take Metro to the Washington Navy Yard and walk from there. Traffic on South Capitol St is going to be a nightmare!

    I hate to say it, but I will miss RFK.

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