Friday, May 30, 2008

To prove that none of us know anything about baseball

The Nats beat the Diamondbacks 7-4 tonight. Among the oddities:
--Willie Harris hit the game-winning 3 run home run. Watch the video here. Fast forward to 0:28 if you want an inappropriate Elijah Dukes soundbite.
--This lineup started: 1. Harris (2B), 2. Guzman (SS), 3. Boone (3B), 4. Young (1B), 5. Milledge (CF), 6. Langerhans (RF), 7. Flores (C), 8. Mackowiak (LF), 9. Redding (P).
--Arizona starter Micah Owings has a better batting average coming in than 5 Diamondbacks starters. Washington starter Tim Redding had a better batting average coming in than 3 Nationals starters. The difference? Owings has a .297 batting average. Redding's was .188 at the beginning of the day and .167 at the end of it.
--Any lineup featuring three players the terrible trifecta of Harris (.172), Langerhans (.111) and Mackowiak (.137) should not win. Funny how 2 of those 3 (Harris and K-angerhans) batted higher in the lineup than Jesus Flores (.344). For those math majors out there, .172*2=.344. So Flores is hitting twice is well than Harris, plus 3+ times more than Langerhans. And he's still hitting 7th. He was one of 3 starters (the other being Guzman and Boone) with an average above .241 and he's batting 7th. Great lineup tonight, Manny. But you got the W so I guess nobody will doubt you.
--After 7 straight appearances without allowing a run, Ayala served up a solo shot to Chad Tracy in the 8th.
--Redding was solid, giving up 3 runs in 5 and 2/3 (1 of them was let in by Hanrahan), but he couldn't make it to the 6th yet again. He's only pitched 6 innings in 50% of his starts. If he's going to be the Nats all-star representative (highly unlikely, IMO, as Jon Rauch has it all but locked up right now), he needs to string together some quality starts, pronto.

Other news: Maxwell has an injured wrist (which is why K-angerhans got called up instead). He's out at least a month. Hope he didn't catch the injury plague from Escobar or Nicky J.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thursday afternoon roundup

Sitting on the couch watching an afternoon ballgame taking place in San Diego is the next best thing to actually being at the afternoon ballgame in San Diego. But I'm not lucky enough to be there right now, so I'll just blog about it.

I am very, very happy with Lastings Milledge's performance in the top of the 4th. Bunting for a base hit, stealing second (twice, really) and then stealing third to score on a sacrifice fly by Elijah Dukes. Milledge is actually hitting fairly well over the last 7 games at .250/.308/.583. He hit a bomb last night, too. After seeing a glimpse of what Milledge is actually capable of over the last 18 hours or so, I've decided to be a little more patient of Milledge's learning curve in center.

It's also pretty funny listening to Paul Lo Duca and Chad Cordero talking about New York and Philadelphia Fans (all are paraphrased, no Tivo here):
"It was easy to convince myself they were yelling 'Duuuuc' and not 'Boooo'"-Lo Duca (sure, Paulie, keep telling yourself that).
"Philly fans are mad, mad people"-Lo Duca
"In Philly you have 8 year olds booing you"-Cordero

Some people don't like Lo Duca in the booth. For them, I have one simple question: Would you rather have Paulie in the booth or behind the plate? I'll take my chances with him chatting with Johnny Holliday.

I'm flipping back and forth between my favorite teams of softball girls, the Nats and the Virginia Tech Hokies in their College World Series game against Texas A&M. The US College Softball Player of the Year Angela Tincher is on the mound for the Hokies. I won't go into how really, really good she is. But she no-hit the US National team. And Tech's starting shortstop (and cleanup hitter), Misty Hall has killed two black bears (one with a rifle, missed what the other one was with). If looks could kill, she would be in the double digits by now. Texas A&M has a left-handed second baseman, Natalie Villareal. That's all I've got so far, but LET'S GO HOKIES!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Caps resign Matt Bradley

As the title says, the Capitals locked up the soon-to-be-30-year-old winger today to a 3 year deal worth $1 million a year. The general consensus seems to be 1 year too long and a few dollars too much.

I tend to agree with that assessment, but $1 mil for a good energy guy who can play plus hockey, score a handful of goals and serve as the secondary enforcer to Donald Brashear (who makes $1 million also) is not awful.

Now it's up to George and Ted to get Fedorov, Huet, Laich and Green under contract!

Answers to the mailbag

Here are my own answers to Bill Ladson's mailbag:

Is Aaron Boone going to get more playing time? He should.
-- Dean O., Winnipeg, MB.

Yes, but not for good reasons. As we all know, Johnson is out for a few more weeks, so Boone will spell young at 1B every once in a while. But now we hear that Zimmerman could miss more games so, unfortunately, Aaron Boone is going to be playing there. Not that Boone playing is a bad thing (as he's hitting very well), but I'd much rather see the face of the franchise manning the hot corner and batting 3rd. I'd say there's a 75% chance Boone gets shipped somewhere at the deadline a la Daryle Ward. San Francisco, perhaps?

It seems like after every game, there's an item about Lastings Milledge being careless or lackadaisical on the field. And all I hear from him are excuses. What is he still doing in center field?
-- Adam C., Atlanta, Ga.

I don't think he's being careless or lackadaisical. That would be Andruw Jones territory. Milledge simply is not very good at fielding the CF position at this point, as he misreads everything and ends up where the ball lands a second late, often letting up to let it fall. He's still in CF because we don't have any other options. Dukes could play there, but we can't play Pena in RF and Milledge's arm in RF isn't a good option either. When Kearns comes back (and if Dukes actually starts to hit), I can see Dukes becoming the CF and Milledge becoming the 4th OF (or being shipped to AAA to work on CF skills). I'm confident that Elijah Dukes is the team's long-term option in CF and Lastings Milledge will be a LF when it's all said and done.

Can we get some love for Tim Redding? What a warrior, but nobody talks about him. He's by far our best pitcher this year.
-- Scott C., Washington, DC

I've heard a lot of love for Redding about being the team's lone all-star pick (don't feel like searching for links, but I'm sure you've seen them anyways, including in Ladson's mailbag). I disagree with the premise that He is "by far our best pitcher this year," however.

John Lannan is almost as good, if not just as good, if not better than Redding this year. They have basically the same ERA (3.57 for Lannan, 3.59 for Redding...remember that 6 of the 7 runs Redding allowed here don't count against his ERA), similar K:BB ratios (2 for Lannan, 1.9 for Redding), similar ERA+ (118 for Lannan, 117 for Redding). Redding has a decent lead in WHIP (1.229 to Lannan's 1.397) but that could be easily attributed to a low BABIP (.228 to Lannan's .271). The biggest difference is W-L record, with Redding sitting at 6-3 to Lannan's 4-5. I'm not even going to get into it all, but look at each of their run support stats. Redding gets 4.6 runs a game, Lannan gets 3.1. Lannan has given up 2 runs or less in 60% of his starts, to Redding's 45%. Lannan has given up 3 runs or less in 70% of his starts, to Redding's 64%. I won't say Lannan is better, but to call Redding "by far our best pitcher this year" would not be accurate.

Acta and Washington management should be commended for their patience, but how much longer will it last?
-- Dean O., Winnipeg. MB

"As long as Acta is in the organization, the patience will be there." Agreed. If he didn't lose it over the blown "stolen base" call with Gabe Kapler in the 9th today, I don't see him losing it any time soon. His job isn't on the line and there are very low expectations, so he doesn't need to panic...he can afford to be patient.

I completely agree with Nationals' idea of building a strong farm system. However, the club needs to get somebody to make fans excited, and somebody who is proven. You can't keep getting guys hitting .100 with five RBIs in a month. They also can't keep bringing up young guys before they are ready. I think the Nationals must stop being stingy and at least sign one big-name free agent.
-- Adam H., Nazareth, Pa.

Who do you suggest they sign? You're a week late, bro, Piazza already retired! Who want Bonds? Nobody wants Bonds for a reason. It's not the right time to suggest a big-name signing, but over the offseason I guess there are a few worth looking at: Teixeira, Furcal, Dunn, Sabathia, Perez, Sheets. These days you're almost better off developing your own young talent that may not be quite as good as these guys at their peaks rather than going 7 or 8 years on players, signing them to hundred million dollar deals that pay them almost $20 mil per year when they're past their prime at 38 or so. I hope they'll be in the running for one of those 6 guys this offseason, just to appease the fans. I'd take any of those guys on a 5 year deal.

One last note: BERGMANNIA CONTINUES!!!! Too bad the Nats' new guys (Sanches and Manning) couldn't hold a 2-0 lead and get Bergmann his second W of the year.

One more last note: Dukes has raised his batting average from .038 to .119 in the last 6 games. He's still behind Tim Redding, Matt Chico, Odalis Perez and Austin Kearns, but at least he's starting to defrost.

Okay, for real last note: Guzman has 5 HR this year, halfway to his career high of 10. BERGMANNIA+GUZMANIA=BERGUZMANIA!!!! Kinda like ManBearPig?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Batting Order positions

I'm starting to get tired of the misuse of players in the Nationals lineup. I hate looking at the lineup and seeing 1. Lopez 2. Guzman 3. Zimmerman 4. Young 5. Milledge (after that, it pretty much changes night-to-night).

Felipe Lopez IS NOT an ML-quality leadoff man. He has done nothing to deserve that spot. Just look at the stats:
-.268/.338/.354 out of the leadoff spot (this year).
-.255/.328/.329 this year total.
-.258/.320/.382 out of the leadoff spot (career).
-.258/.328/.393 career total.
The only logical reason for him to be there is the old-school method of "speed first," as he doesn't get on base enough to merit hitting there.

Cristian Guzman IS an ML-quality leadoff man (never thought I would say that sentence). At least when you look at it this way.
-.329/.350/.526 out of the leadoff spot (this year).
-.300/.322/.443 this year total.
-.284/.320/.448 out of the leadoff spot (career).
-.265/.303/.381 career total.
Guzman has superior numbers in 3 of the 4 categories (just not career total). Until he starts proving me wrong, I'm assuming Cristian Guzman's LASIK surgery and weight loss after the 2005 season are working. He's a completely different hitter and deserves to be the leadoff man. GUZMANIA BEGINS!!

So Lopez should bat second, right? Maybe. Lastings Milledge could the best option out of the 2 hole.
Here are Milledge's numbers:
-.298/.354/.439 out of the second spot (this year).
-.236/.301/.381 this year total (thanks to a .200/.265/.256 line out of the 5 slot)
-.295/.361/.432 out of the second spot (career).
-.250/.318/.384 career total.

Lopez hasn't hit out of the second spot this year, but sports a .264/.345/.391 career line there. In Milledge's short major league career, the second spot is really the only place he's had success, and I think his career line out of the second spot (although a somewhat small sample size, with only 111 PA) trumps Lopez's.

So here's what I'd like the lineup to be (most nights of the week):
1. Guzman-SS
2. Milledge-CF
3. Zimmerman-3B
4. Young-1B (Johnson when he's healthy)
5. Flores-C
6. Pena-LF
7. Lopez-2B
8. Dukes/Mackowiak/Langerhans-RF
9. Pitcher

Your thoughts?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Roundup on tonight's games

I'm happy that the Nats finally turned base-runners into runs (3 hits, 5 runs, only 5 LOB total!) tonight.
--Sanches got the win after striking out the side.
--Wily Mo Pena got his 1st homer (only into the second row, but it was a bullet!).
--Our 3 hits were all XBH's (Zimmerman and Flores got doubles too).
--3 2-out RBI!! YES!!!
--Our relievers threw strikes (for the most part at least).
--Dukes went down with a left ankle maybe we'll see Maxwell after all? Depends on the severity, but signs aren't pointing to that yet. Just speculation if it's bad.

One more note: my favorite ball player Joe Saunders (attended West Springfield HS and Virginia Tech, just like me. Used to watch him pitch when I was little) threw 8 and 1/3 innings of 1-run ball (including 8 shutout innings to start the game) to bump his record to 8-1 and lower his ERA to 2.31. I was pushing for the Nats to trade Soriano for him and a hitting prospect from the Angels back in 2006. It's an interesting scenario: would you rather have Joe Saunders and a hitting prospect (perhaps Callaspo, Morales, Wood or Kendrick) or Jordan Zimmerman and Josh Smoker? I'd take Saunders and a hitting prospect, but I'm biased. Here's the 2006 Angels top prospects page, so you can go through and try and nitpick a scenario at the time...but at this point, I'd rather have Saunders than both Zimmermann and Smoker.

Schroder's roller coaster ride continues, plus other moves

According to Nationals Fanboy Looser (who credits NFA, who credits the Columbus Clippers for the first break):

OF Ryan Langerhans purchased by Washington
RHP Brian Sanches purchased by Washington
LHP Charlie Manning purchased by Washington
RHP Chris Schroder optioned to Columbus
LHP Matt Chico optioned to Columbus

First of all, I have to say this: stop toying with Schroder! He pitched well for us last year (3.18 ERA in 45 and 1/3 innings) and has now been up and down 3 times this year. Leave him up or leave him down.

To the players:
Langerhans definitely deserves the call. He is an excellent fielder at all 3 OF positions (something Wily Mo Pena and Lastings Milledge, and less so Elijah Dukes, aren't able to say). He's hitting .306 in 144 AB this year in AAA (although has lost some power, as he's only slugging .438...the .417 OBP is definitely encouraging, though). He was my 3rd choice last night behind Maxwell (who we're all going to assume is hurt now, because he hasn't started in 6 days) and Escobar (who we're all going to assume is hurt now, because he is Alex Escobar).

Sanches is a 29-year-old righty who spent the last four years in the Phillies system after spending his first five years in the Royals system. The 1999 second round draft pick has a little bit of experience in the majors, with a 5.75 ERA in 36 career innings over 2006-07 with the Kingdom of Phailadelphia. Sanches is ripping apart AAA bats this year, allowing a miniscule 0.98 ERA in 18.1 innings. The rest of Sanches' rate stats will really make your jaw drop: 4.41 H/9, 12.76 K/9, 8.67 K/BB. He also has 7 saves to go with his 26 strikeouts. According to NFA's initial report on Sanches (not a whole lot there), he is a "one-pitch reliever (fastball)." No word on how fast this fastball is, but it better be mid-to-high 90s if that's all he's got.

Manning is another 29-year-old who spent almost all of his seven previous years with the Yankees organization (minus some random time in 2003-04 with the Cincinnati Reds system--funny that he already pitched at Potomac and Columbus with different organizations). The southpaw also has a low ERA (1.95) and a lot of strikeouts (34 in 27 and 2/3 innings this year). His control is not quite as impeccable as Sanches' so far (13 walks to Sanches' 3), but he looks like a solid lefty option out of the pen. The knock on him has been a weak fastball (86-89 mph), which makes it tough to work with his good cutter and slider.

I'm going to withhold anything and everything about Chico except this: it's about time. It took me 9 random posts about Chico (out of my 23 total posts) to convince JimBow to send him down! That means I'm still 7 away from the Nats firing Lenny. Make that 6: FIRE LENNY!!!!!!

On a quest

Tonight my dad approached me with a simple question: have you seen all 30 MLB teams play? I've been incredibly privileged to even be asked this question. I'm lucky to have a father who is a huge baseball fan. I'm also lucky that back when I was 9 and 10 we went on back-to-back baseball road trips to see the relics such as Tiger Stadium (the year before it closed), Yankee Stadium, Fenway Pahhhk and my personal favorite, Wrigley Field, plus other ballparks such as the Skydome (now the Rogers Centre), Comiskey Park (now US Cellular Field), Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) and Shea Stadium (not to mention the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY and the Little League Baseball Hall of Fame in Williamsport, PA).

A lot of the teams were easy to knock off the list. I've been to the homes of the Cubs, Reds (only Riverfront Stadium, not the Great American Ball Park), Pirates (only 3 Rivers Stadium, not PNC Park), Phillies (only the Vet, not Citizens Bank Park), Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays, White Sox, Indians, Tigers (only Tiger Stadium, not Comerica Park) and Dodgers, not to mention the Nationals, who I saw probably 50-70 times at RFK and once so far at Nationals Park. It was simple to knock off the teams I've seen at home (taking away 14 of the 30 ML teams). So I had to go about knocking out the other 16 teams.

Some teams were still easy to eliminate. The Braves and Marlins are in the NL East, so I've seen each play at least 5 times throughout the last few years at RFK. I saw the Diamondbacks both in the game where Sammy Sosa hit his 20th HR in June in 1998 against the Cubs and in the Nats' first home game in 2005. I saw many other teams, such as the Mariners, Athletics, Devil Rays (who I have yet to see as the Rays), Padres, Giants and Rockies at RFK at some point as well.

This left me with 7 teams: the Astros, Cardinals, Brewers, Royals, Twins, Angels and Rangers. These became harder and harder to narrow down. I remembered wearing my Little League Brewers shirt to their game at the White Sox on one of the road trips, so the list became 6. It dwindled to 5 when I remembered the Dodgers game I saw in LA was an interleaguer against the cross-town rival, the Angels. I had to go through my shoebox of tickets from games I've gone to to cross the Cardinals off the short list.

So here I am, thinking as hard as I can about whether or not I've seen the Royals, Twins, Rangers or Astros in action. The Astros randomly come to mind because I was thinking about Ricky Gutierrez, who fouled off some twelve pitches in a row when I saw him play the Indians. So the list became 3. I found it incredibly ironic that two of the three teams I hadn't seen were the ex-Senators versions 1 and 2. I came across ticket stubs from a 1996 Phillies vs Cubs game, a 1996 Salem Avalanche vs Frederick Keys game and a 1999 Potomac Cannons vs Lynchburg Hillcats game. But I still had no answers for the Twins, Rangers or Royals. I dug and dug through the box and saw one faded ticket that was strangely intact. And then I remembered.

Thursday, August 17, 1999 was a normal summer night in Baltimore. My dad and I drove out from our home in Virginia to see the matchup between Mike Mussina of the O's ("not the home team" lectured my dad, a lifelong Senators fan) and the budding youngster Joe Mays of the visiting Minnesota Twins, which gave the attendees high hopes for a pitcher's duel. Neither starter held their side of the bargain, with Mussina giving up 3 runs in 6 innings and Mays allowing 4 over 5 and 1/3. The Orioles led 4-3 in the top of the 7th. The forgettable Jim Corsi got the equally forgettable Chad Allen to ground out to third and then got Brent Gates (who at least was a first round pick) to ground the ball right back at him. So here we are, 2 outs in the 7th inning in a mid-August game between two pretty bad teams (the Orioles came into the game at 51-66, pacing the 50-66 Twins by half of the game). In trots Jesse Orosco, the first LOOGY of his time, to face Todd Walker. He gets Walker to fly out deep to Brady Anderson in center. Orosco gets a standing ovation for this simple act, and I'm sitting there like "all he did was get Todd Walker to fly out." Then I look at the scoreboard and see "Congratulations, Jesse Orosco, for setting the Major League record in games pitched!" I saw Orosco break The Eck's all time record with his 1,072th career game.

It doesn't matter how inconsequential some baseball games might seem at times. You can find history in any game (even an Orioles game, believe it or not!). Finding this ticket stub reminded me exactly why I love this game. Who really cares how many times a lifetime reliever pitched? I do. Dad, let's see the Nats play the Senators (now the Rangers) a week after Father's Day. And finish off all 30 teams with the Royals in Baltimore a week later.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kearns to the DL. Who to call up?

As I said, Kearns has been placed on the DL. He has surgery tomorrow and will be out for 3-4 weeks. Assuming whoever is called up rotates in the outfield with Milledge, Dukes and Pena, here are the pros and cons of everyone we could call up:

Kory Casto (AAA, 26 years old, player page)
Pros: On 40-man roster, 6/14 in first 4 games since return from break in hamate bone (what Zimmerman broke this offseason), "experienced," can play 1B/3B as well.
Cons: Just returned from hamate bone break, can't play CF, 7/54 in ML duty for the Nats last year.

Alex Escobar (AAA, 29 years old, player page)
Pros: Can play all OF positions, hit well in the Majors in 2006 (.356/.394/.575 in 87 AB), hitting .315 in 92 at bats in AAA this year.
Cons: Not on 40-man roster, returned from hamstring injury at the beginning of May, always injured, career .258/.328/.415 hitter, only played in 14 games last year so may not be able to catch up to ML pitching, doesn't run as fast as he used to due to knee/hamstring/leg injuries.

Ryan Langerhans (AAA, 28 years old, player page)
Pros: Excellent fielder, can play all OF positions, hitting .306 in 144 AB this year in AAA
Cons: Not on 40-man roster, you remember last year...(.198/.296/.370 in 162 AB with the Nats...adds up to a .666 OPS...coincidence? I think not), recent hamstring "tweak" (still played tonight), power numbers down this year (isolated slugging of .172 last year with the Nats, .132 this year in AAA)

Mike Daniel (AA, 23 years old, player page)
Pros: Can play all OF positions, hitting .315 in 149 AB in AA. According to NFA: good contact hitter, a little gap power, okay speed and great base-running instincts.
Cons: Not on 40-man roster, no experience above AA, not a whole lot of power, has 2 generic male first names (3 if you include his middle name, John).

Justin Maxwell (AA, 24 years old, player page)
Pros: On 40-man roster, can play all OF positions, local (Sherwood High, UMD alum), tons of potential, proved last year he can hit ML pitching (.269/.296/.500 in 26 AB), patience is way way way up this year (31 BB/27 K as opposed to 50/122 in the minors last year), fast, sexy, etc.
Cons: Not hitting for average this year (.248 in 138 AB), hasn't started since May 17 (NFA suspects either injury or being held out for a call-up), historically old for his level (could lead to some statistical inflation).

Roger Bernadina (AA, 23 years old, player page)
Pros: On 40-man roster, can play all 3 OF positions, fast, hitting .321 in 129 at bats in AA.
Cons: Career minor league line of .255/.340/.370 uninspiring, 2007 line of .259/.338/.356 also uninspiring, little power.

The Verdict:
First the disclaimer: the 40-man roster stands at 38 right now, so it shouldn't be a huge deal adding someone to it at this point. I suppose that could still theoretically work against Daniel, but Langerhans and Escobar have both passed waivers at some point, so unless they tear up the majors, they'll probably be able to slip through once again.

Here's how I rank them:
1) Maxwell-Assuming he's healthy and gets semi-regular at-bats. He's our best talent and he's on the 40-man. Why not?
2) Escobar-Assuming he's healthy. Good candidate to pump up value and deal at the deadline. Would have to add to the 40-man.
3) Langerhans-We know what we'll get out of him, so I'd prefer to get more answers from the others. If his hamstring leaves him less than 90%, a definite no. Would have to add to the 40-man.
4) Casto-We don't really need another 1B/3B/corner outfielder since we have Boone, Mackowiak, Pena to cover those. He does deserve another shot in the majors, though, and is still only 26.
5) Daniel-Why start his service time and add him to the 40-man now? He needs a full season (or at least from now till the beginning of August) in AA/AAA at the very least before he's ready to face ML pitching.
6) Bernadina-Looks too much like an Endy Chavez/Nook Logan clone. But he does look like a better fielder at this point. Still too early to start his service time, he needs more than 129 at bats of .321 average to annul his .259 average last year against AA/AAA pitching.

Ideally, I'd like the Nats to send Elijah Dukes down to AAA and call up Justin Maxwell and Alex Escobar. Dukes and Maxwell both have tons of potential, so I'd like to see them flip-flopped. Escobar can spell the new outfield of Pena-Maxwell-Milledge when needed.

UPDATE-5/23, 1:25 AM
Just noticed the Harrisburg Senators (AA) are playing in Connecticut. Might be difficult to get a guy to Washington in time if they don't announce it soon (or if it doesn't leak soon). I wouldn't count out the AA guys but I'd say it's about a 5-10% better chance an AAA guy gets the call now as opposed to before.

Quick Caps notes

Both come from Capitals Insider (the Post's Capitals blog), run by Tarik El-Bashir.

First off, the Caps' top prospect, 19 year old defenseman Karl Alzner, signed a 3 year entry-level contract. I'm very excited to see the reigning WHL MVP take the ice in the NHL. I have only heard good things about this kid (is it okay to call someone who is exactly the same age as you a "kid"?) and hope he can make the transition to the NHL as seamlessly as most people think he can (was considered the "most NHL-ready" draft pick of 2007).

Secondly, the Caps and their top minor league affiliate, the Hershey Bears, extended their affiliation through the 2009-10 season (plus an option year for the '10-'11 season). This is also good news, as the team is both close to Washington (130 miles away says El-Bashir) and close to Washington's heart, as the Boudreau-led Bears of 2006 won the Calder Cup. And Hershey=Chocolate, so all is well there!

Why I'm smarter than you

Before you pull out your SAT scores and college GPA, hear me out for a second.

Remember this post? When I suggested Hanrahan was improving and might actually become not only a good reliever but a viable fantasy option? Well since that post, Hanrahan has thrown 12 and 1/3 innings, only allowing 2 earned runs (a 1.46 ERA) with 9 walks and 10 strikeouts (although 5 of those walks came in one game). But over that span, Hanrahan has allowed 2 HITS! The man is unhittable! The man is on fire (cue Ricky Bobby references).

If you include the stats I used in that post, in Hanrahan's last 12 outings (spanning 19 and 2/3 innings), he has allowed 4 runs, 13 hits, 10 walks, 23 strikeouts and has lowered his ERA from 7.71 to 3.72. For a reliever, 19 and 2/3 innings is a pretty long time. When you mention he has a 1.83 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and a 10.53 K/9 over that span, you have a heck of a reliever. And don't forget, he's the 5th manliest Nationals player. Ladies, I present to you Joel Ryan Hanrahan of Des Moines, Iowa!

So I may not be smarter than you (it was just a catchy title), but I totally called that.

Last night...

Not a whole lot I'm going to say about last night. I've got a few key hits though (something the Nats lacked last night!!)
--Chico sucks, why is he not in AAA?
--Jesus sucks (Colome, that is)...why is he not in AAA/on waivers/walking and balking for a different team?
--Jesus lives (Flores, that is)...he's hitting the tar out of the ball, playing terrific defense, calling a great game...if Lo Duca starts more than 2 times a week when he gets back, I don't know what JimBo is doing. The money doesn't matter. Developing one of our best young players, who is CLEARLY ready to be playing every day in the majors, should be priority 1A.
--Kearns to the DL? Couldn't hurt. Give the man another week off, give Dukes the at bats or call up one of the younger guys (Maxwell, Daniel, Bernadina, even Kory Casto. Again, we should be developing our prospects. Casto can still become a role player!!). Doesn't hurt to let Kearns heal, it's not like he's our star player right now anyways.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Might we finally have the 5th piece to the puzzle?

Jason Bergmann has found more mitts (14 k) than hits (8) over the last two games (spanning 14 innings). He hasn't allowed any runs, and has walked a modest 5 opponents. What's interesting is the fact that he has more than halved his ERA in his last 2 starts, from 11.68 to 5.47. I guess that's what happens when you throw 14 scoreless innings after throwing 11 and 1/3 innings that were anything but scoreless.

With those recent goose-eggs thrown onto the board by Jason Bergmann, it would appear that the Nationals now have a pretty good rotation. At very worst, Bergmann is a good option in the 5 slot. Redding, the staff ace, isn't even giving up 7 hits per 9 innings and has a 6-3 record to go with his 3.16 era. Lannan is holding his own, with 5 performances of 1 run or less and 6 innings or more and a 3.40 era to boot. Perez is filling his spot nicely, keeping his ERA around 4.24 for the time being (and hitting .313!!).

Then we have our staff ace, Shawn Hill. If you look at that link, it's not Shawn Hill. It's Shawn Hill's replacement, Matthew Bryan Chico. This is where we go from pretty good to mediocre. We're back to the black hole in the 5th spot until Hill comes back (and I really hope it's just 1 start, because I don't know how much longer I can stomach the Fullerton, CA native). This is the life of a Nats fan...just when we get excited, something bad happens. But at least whatever bad happened didn't happen to Ryan Zimmerman, so the throngs of casual fans won't notice.

Concerning the bats (or lack thereof): I don't have answers. I am not a hitting coach, and I admit that I had a worse batting average in my last two years of organized baseball than Austin Kearns has right now (better OBP and SLG though...I was a Jack Cust/Adam Dunn prototype). But that's why we have hitting coaches and base coaches. Just like a soccer mom driving in her giant Expedition can't afford gas these days, the Nats can't afford to waste solid outings by their pitching staffs. And, in honor of the great Chris Needham of Capitol Punishment, I will end with this: FIRE LENNY!!1!!!!ONE!!!

Other note: click on "bats" for the gamer for the game from last night, and watch the "Guzman's throw" clip. It was #5 on SportsCenter's top plays!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Roundup: Redding, Milledge and more

To say I am anything less than incredibly impressed with Tim Redding would be a lie. Why? Despite all of the following things, he managed to work around his own shortcomings of the night to shut down one of the better offenses in baseball (or at least an offense that features Rollins, Utley and Howard). His stuff wasn't great tonight, as he gave up 7 hits and walked 2 in his 6 and 1/3 innings of work. He only struck out two batters and 59% of his pitches went for strikes (not bad, not great). The key to his performance tonight: getting out of jams. He was Cardiac Cordero-like out there, as he led the Phillies into the pit of despair on multiple occasions. Hats off to you, Tim Redding. You fought through it on a night where your stuff wasn't the best, and ended up giving up nothing but a big goose egg!

Now that I've gotten all of my sunshine and rainbows out of the way, we turn to Lastings Milledge. Per the gamer from, "'The swagger is part of my game since I broke in the big leagues. Every time I go out there, I feel I'm the best player out there,' Milledge said. "It's gets rough when you don't play to your potential.'" Yes, it does get rough when you don't play to your potential. I'm glad you've realized this, and I'm sure you'll end up being a solid major leaguer. But, seriously, Lastings. You are not the best player out there. I don't even have to look back to the box score to know that the Nationals started 5 position players better than you (Zimmerman, Young, Lopez, Guzman, Flores). Have confidence, not cockiness. Seriously, when I copy/pasted that comment to my roommate, he was just like "Wat?" Please, Lastings, just go out there every night and play your heart out. Let your play do the talking when it comes to whether or not you're the best player on the field. Leave the fans with visions of diving catches, doubles to the gap and stolen bases rather than costly strikeouts and poor play in center field.

Congrats to Jon Lester, who threw a no-hitter tonight. I won't go into the whole story, but it is very courageous to come back from the cancer he had not so long ago. If he pitched for a team that wasn't the Boston Red Sox, I would be more ecstatic (and would have probably devoted a whole post to it), but I will settle for a pat on the back and a blurb for the guy. Funny that the Sawx have 18 no-hitters all-time whereas the Mets have none.

Chico is starting Wednesday. For the sake of the well-being of my television set, I will not watch it. If Hill goes on the DL, I'd place my bet on Chico going back to the rotation for the time being (unless he bombs again on Wednesday). I certainly would like to see Clippard, Balester or Shell get the start, but I think Manny will keep giving Chico chances until Bowden sends him down.

Last note: according to the Nats Journal, Alfonso Soriano hit more homers last week (7) than the entire Nationals outfield has hit all season (6). One word: yuck.

Friday, May 16, 2008


I told you so (or hinted that Jason Bergmann deserved a second chance, one that Michael O'Connor might not get, although he probably deserves one for fighting it out in 2006 and coming back strong in the minors this year). There has been some discussion regarding whether or not Bergmann is going to be able to be a guy who can put up 6 or 7 strong innings each game. If you look at this year's numbers from his first stint in the majors this year, you'll see that he regularly imploded after the 4th inning (scroll down to "By Inning"). The problem with this, however, is that the sample size is only two starts (and three games). Looking at last year's numbers, Bergmann got somewhat stronger as the game went on. Its silly to look at his 7-9 inning stats because there were only 23 plate appearances in that timeframe, but look at Bergmann's line the third time around the lineup: .223/.286/.398 .684 OPS against. I'll take that line from any pitcher at any point in the game! So while he may have had problems going deep in his first 2 starts, I don't see this being a problem anymore. He's just not that kind of pitcher.

Other (non-BERGMANNIA!!) note: Nicky J is out 4-6 weeks with a wrist injury. Up goes infielders' (mainly Zimmerman's) throwing errors, Dmitri and Boone's playing time...down goes Nicky J's trade value, team OBP, runs. This is where I really miss having Josh Whitesell on the team, as he's tearing up the PCL (and can field!!). Just like when Bowden waived Darrell Rasner to clear a spot for Matt Lecroy and shipped Jamey Carroll off to make room for Damian Jackson (or was it Royce Clayton? Either way, it makes me want to vomit), Bowden waived Whitesell to clear 40-man room for Ray King. Talk about getting value for your players (Disclaimer: Yes, I know Bowden has gotten value for his players before. I'm just saying this is not the case with Whitesell, Carroll and Rasner).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bergmann to start Thursday

My wish came true! Bergmann is going to be the starter for Thursday's game against the Mets. Hopefully this means Chico gets a ticket to Columbus to work on his pitching (notice I didn't say control or velocity...I said pitching in general, because he has a ton to work on). The Washington Times' Mark Zuckerman suggests that the corresponding player sent down will either be Hanrahan or Chico, but I would be surprised if Hanrahan (who is out of options) would be sent to AAA.
Bergmann's definitely not perfect, but he has shown flashes of brilliance. I'm glad the team rewarded his recent success in AAA, because he only had 3 games (and 2 starts) to show his stuff this year, an incredibly small sample size.

UPDATE-MAY 15, 10:30 AM
Schroder was sent down to make room for Bergmann. Quit toying with the guy, will ya Jimbo?

Something that may surprise you

Believe it or not, our very own John Lannan is a semi-candidate for the Rookie of the Year award. He does have some work to do, as he is fighting with two other very good pitchers at the moment, not to mention the batters who could pull it out (and it is still only the beginning of May, with plenty of baseball left to play), but at least he is emerging as a possible candidate.

Here's a comparison I made on Google Docs between Lannan and his two main pitching competitors: Jair Jurrjens (ATL) and Hiroki Kuroda (LAD). Leaders between the three pitchers are bolded, and as you will see, Lannan doesn't lead anything as of yet...the key, however, is that the stats are only through 8 starts and he has another 20 something starts to work with to pass the other two pitchers. I'm not saying it's going to happen, but the pitchers are essentially on even ground, considering they still have another 100-150 innings to pitch this year.

This all being said, he still has to fight against guys like Geovany Soto, Kosuke Fukudome, Joey Votto and Blake DeWitt who are all mashing the ball. Max Scherzer could be a dark horse if he gets enough innings pitched as well. But I would bet my ridiculously low bank account balance that one of the 4 pitchers (Jurrjens, Kuroda, Lannan or Scherzer) seriously challenges one of the 4 hitters (Soto, Fukudome, Votto and DeWitt) for the ROY crown. Here's to hoping Lannan can be that guy for the Nats.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Monday night roundup and a must-see link!

Regarding tonight's 10-4 win over the Mets: Wow, we can beat these guys, but not the Marlins? I mean sure, Nelson Figueroa is no Johan Santana, but it's not like he's worse than Ricky Nolasco. But I digress. Tonight was odd...a pretty bad pitching outing by Odalis Perez (seriously, 11 hits allowed in 6 and 1/3 innings?) to go with his great evening at the plate (3-3, 1 run, 2 RBI, 1 sacrifice). The team had 4 doubles. Flores continues to alternate between hits and strikeouts, Guz leaves 8 men on base...and we still won by 6 over what was supposed to be the clear favorite to win the NL pennant at the beginning of the year. That's why ballgames are played on grass, not paper.

The Post has a new beat writer for the Nats, Chico Harlan. He's looked good so far, but only time will tell regarding whether or not he is Svrlugaesque.

Quick answers to the Mailbag questions:
Since Lastings Milledge hasn't been performing well enough, is there any way that the Nationals would consider signing Jim Edmonds?
-- Josh T., Chevy Chase, Md.

Are you serious? Edmonds is awful! He can't hit any more (.178/.265/.233). He was outhit by Jake Peavy by over 100 points, and Peavy isn't even a .300 hitter!! Edmonds can still catch the ball but he takes roughly eighteen years to get to it, so his defense isn't better. I mean if we want an more expensive and worse player than Milledge, Edmonds is definitely our guy. Stupid question.

What do you think of general manager Jim Bowden's strategy of signing veterans to fill out his roster -- Aaron Boone, Rob Mackowiak, Johnny Estrada and Paul Lo Duca. The Lerner ownership would have been better served by just saving its money. What is your view of this?
-- Michael L., Westport, Conn.

Mackowiak-Good (Signing him was a good idea, keeping him is not)
Lo Duca-Poor...not quite bad, but I'm not feeling Jimbo on this one. Should have just let Jesus play in the Majors.

The Lerners were going to have to spend money in the offseason to keep fans from killing themselves, so this is what we got. I would have rather had them sign Boone and Mackowiak and Wil Nieves and save the money they spent on past-their-prime has-beens like Johnny Estrada and Paul Lo Duca on a contract extension for Ryan Zimmerman, because that's something the fans would actually get excited about. Not a stupid question.

Would there be negative consequences by sending Wily Mo Pena or Austin Kearns to the Minors and bringing up Ryan Langerhans? Langerhans seems to have corrected his hitting problems at Triple-A Columbus.
-- Geoff B., Las Vegas

No matter what corrections were made, Langerhans had 35 hits in 210 at bats last year. We would have to waive Wily Mo or Kearns to send them down. Learn waiver rules, please. It would make so much more sense to send down Mackowiak or Harris (inferior players to Kearns/Pena) or Dukes (options left). Stupid question.

I really enjoyed watching the rise of John Lannan from Class A Potomac to the big leagues last year, and now he is our best starter. The Nationals have a similar pitcher this year in Cory VanAllen. Have you heard any mention of him from the "think tank" about moving him up the ladder?
-- Cole J., Atlanta

Ladson's response: Oh, yes. He was already promoted to Double-A Harrisburg, and Bowden talks about him often. I would not be surprised if we saw VanAllen in the Majors by August or September.

Sounds good to me. I don't have any "think tank" connections so I'll have to defer to Ladson on this one.

You mentioned special assistant to GM Barry Larkin's stepping in to offer advice on hitting. How does hitting coach Lenny Harris feel about Larkin's presence? Is there some bad chemistry going on between the players and Harris?
-- Dean O., Winnipeg, Manitoba

It's not bad chemistry, it's the fact that Harris is not a very good hitting coach, period. Teach patience, patience, patience, the Nicky J method. Please, FIRE LENNY!!!

Considering how quickly Jason Bergmann was sent down to Columbus after pitching poorly in April, are you surprised that the Nats haven't sent Matt Chico down yet?
-- Mike G. Millersville, Md.

I'm not surprised at all, but I'm rather appalled. Bergmann>Chico. Chico needs the AAA seasoning more. Just because he pitched 31 games in the Majors last year doesn't mean he deserves a spot through thick and thin this year. Bergmann had 21 starts last year and put up a 95 ERA+ to Chico's 91. Give the guy with more pro potential another shot. That guy is Bergmann.

I recall Ryan Zimmerman's rookie season in which he had a significant number of bunt singles. Any thoughts on him trying that a couple of times to help him get out of his funk?
-- Doug C., Lubbock, Texas

Zim: please start doing this again. I miss your amazing drag bunts!!

***And here's your must-see link. A bunch of hilarious "Hardball made easy" videos with real MLB players such as Carlos Zambrano and Brad Hawpe. They're worth 10 minutes of your time (5 videos in all)

Sunday, May 11, 2008 pours

Gross. Even when we have a quality start by Shawn Hill, our bullpen blows the game. Good news: Shawn Hill pitched great (7 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 3 K, 0 BB), Aaron Boone went 3-4, a double short of the cycle (or maybe a triple...they said in the MASN broadcast it was ruled a double and an error) and Belliard hit a home run. Bad news: Ayala blew the game in the 8th and we couldn't recover.

It's really all Manny's fault. If he had batted Zimmerman 8th in the lineup, Zim would have hit a 2 out, 2 run walk-off shot. Instead, we had to settle for a Jesus Flores groundout to end the game. Sorry, had to try and look at from a lighter perspective, because these losses to the Marlins are making me depressed.

On another note, the Marlins only threw 95 pitches today. Lenny needs to preach patience to no end. We need to see more pitches, that's the bottom line. If he can't get the batters to do that, he should be fired.

No long post today. I'm too angry with this team to spend more time thinking about them. I'll instead spend that time celebrating Mother's Day by watching the Weather Channel with Mom.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

When it rains...

Well you know that Fish thrive in water. But did they really have to score 11 on one of our feel-good stories, local kid Mike O'Connor? Did Andrew Miller, Taylor Tankersley and Matt Lindstrom really have to hold us to 3 hits tonight?

We were apparently spoiled by a pseudo-streak against the Cubs, Braves and Pirates so much that many of us actually expected results against the Marlins. All I've got to say: watching the last two games seriously sucked. The only good things tonight: Rauch had 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 2 K. Lopez was 2/4. That's it...seriously. At least in last night's 7-3 loss, we saw 3 multi-hit games (Guzman, Johnson, Milledge), an extra base hit (Guzman's double) and 3 shutout innings by Matt Chico and Joel Hanrahan.

Let's just hope this doesn't give anyone a reason to throw Matt Chico back into the rotation. Give Bergmann another shot. Give Balester a shot. Please get rid of one of these lefties who can't pitch! Convert them into LOOGYs or something.

UPDATE-MAY 11, 7:40 PM
It appears my wish came true, with Mark Zuckerman of the Washington Times (via Capitol Punishment) reporting that O'Connor is being sent down and Chris Schroder will be recalled in his place. Zuckerman also notes that the move may be temporary, as O'Connor's rotation spot needs to be filled. It all depends on whether or not the team is willing to throw Matt Chico back into the rotation already or if they'll instead call upon Jason Bergmann or one of the pitching prospects such as Balester, Mock, etc.

Oh wait

Forgive me for being optimistic. I forgot, we're playing the Marlins, a team we simply cannot beat this year (1-6 now). There goes our momentum...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

You hate to say it, so I'll say it

The Nats are actually looking good right now. Sure, they lost two winnable games in a row. But the difference between now and before the pseudo-streak they're on is that they're staying close in games. Sure, they won't win every 1 or 2 run game, but they are at least giving themselves a chance to win. The Nats have lost 11 games this year by 3 or more runs, which is a pretty scary thought. But now that they've kept themselves within a few runs, they'll be able to hang with the big guns. As long as Lannan pitches the way he is (and, like I said before, I'm 100% happy with the 2 quality start, 1 implosion pattern he's on, because he puts us in position to win 2 of every 3 games he pitches), as long as Redding pitches the way he is, as long as Odalis pitches the way he is, and as long as Chico stays in the bullpen (had to throw that one in there), I think the Nats will be able to play near-.500 ball. Fundamentals are what it all comes down to, and I think this team has more figured out than we think.

Looking ahead at our next 7 games, the Nats could have some favorable pitching matchups. They will be facing Ricky Nolasco (6.10 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, facing Redding), Andrew Miller (7.96 ERA, 2.12 WHIP, facing O'Connor) and Nelson Figueroa (4.81 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, facing Odalis). I know these guys have potential, but as of now, they're hittable. We'll also have our two best pitchers (although Redding is arguably better than Lannan, we'll just say they're options 2a and 2b right now) facing the two best opposing pitchers: Shawn Hill facing Scott Olsen and John Lannan facing John Maine. Probables are not listed for the last two games of the Mets series, but it looks like they will be Tim Redding vs Mike Pelfrey (liking that matchup at this point of the season) and Johan Santana against O'Connor (crap!!). Right now I like our chances against Nolasco (3-1 vs us, but high ERA, high AVG against, some of the decisions may have been in relief), Miller (hasn't pitched against the Nats), Figueroa (outdueled by Lannan earlier this year only for Hanrahan to blow it in extras) and Pelfrey (has been hit hard by the Nats before this year, shut them down this year). Let's see if we can take those 4 games (and maybe a 5th in the Hill vs. Olsen game...and the Nats hit Maine hard, with 6 HR and a 5.21 ERA from 05-07, so anything could happen) and continue playing at or above .500 ball for the next week!

I just want to be better than the Orioles. Is that too much to ask?

Mike Green

Green is full of pluses and minuses. He is excellent on offense and underrated for the most part defensively (although he does have lapses at key times). I saw him play in person and payed close attention in game 2 vs. Philly, and was frankly appalled at his defensive skills (or lack thereof). I like him quarterbacking the point during the power play, I like the way he shoots the puck and moves, but sometimes I just can't stand how bad his defense is. According to Japer's Rink, Green was third on the Caps in takeaways (but third among NHL defensemen in giveaways). This is why I say he's underrated defensively, because he paired a ton of takeaways with a +6 plus/minus rating. Even though my impression of his defense makes me want to vomit, I can't say he's any worse than average, because his numbers indicate exactly the opposite.

That all being said, Mike Green is freakin' awesome on the power play (8 goals), led all NHL defensemen in goals (18) and netted 4 game winners (3 in OT), plus was Captain Clutch in game 1 of the playoffs, scoring the 3rd and 4th (tying) goals before Ovechkin won it. But he was more Captain Choke altogether in the playoffs, giving away the puck at key points and posting a -2 plus/minus rating.

The point: I love Mike Green. He is the best offensive defender we have, and whenever he is paired with Shaone Morrisonn (rather than Ovechkin beside him on the power play), I'm not afraid of his defensive faults, as Morrisonn can pick up the slack when needed. The problem: Green led all NHL defensemen in goals scored! Some stupid GM is going to throw a crazy amount of money at him. At what point do we just move on? I mean, 95% of the voters at Japer's Rink said they had a satisfaction rating of at least 8 on a scale of 1 (lowest)-10 (highest) of Green's achievements based on his potential. Can we afford to lose him at any price? Obviously if someone throws Ovechkin money at him, a pat on the back and a "good luck" will be given, but the guy is still only 22 years old. He's got potential like the Spears family has baby daddy drama.

My personal opinion: Offer him 5 years at $4 mil apiece to start, be willing to shell out as much as $5.5 mil over 6 years if he'll take it before going on the market. If he hits the market, I say it's about a 65% chance he gets priced out of the Caps' range...not because they won't shell out the money for him, but because it will be hard for them to tie up that much money for the long term (the next 4-6 years) in just 2 players.

Thursday's Roundup

Lo Duca and Estrada to the DL, Flores up from AAA and Dukes back from the DL.
Estrada, first of all, should never have been reinstated from the DL, mainly because he never should have been signed at all. He is awful. He doesn't run out base hits, can't take a walk, hits in to a ton of double plays...and he couldn't even throw the ball when they reinstated him from the DL! They need to cut him, he's worthless.
Amateur Fighter Paul Lo Duca is going to be out 4-6 weeks. I think during this time, Nieves should start 3 games for every Flores game until he falters, and then they should go in cycles of either 2 games for Nieves, 2 for Flores, or 3 apiece.
I still think Rob Macowiak needs to be cut immediately. Sign Brad Wilkerson or Jacque Jones, at least they can play good defense and hit righties. Wilkerson would fit best, in my opinion, as he can take over at first if Johnson gets traded (and I can reuse my Wilkerson jersey/t-shirt thing).

Also, O'Connor to the rotation, Chico to the bullpen. All I have to say: It's about freakin' time! Chico needs to be sent down to AAA to learn how to throw strikes. Pure speculation is that they want him to stay up with St. Claire, but just as I said, that's simply speculation. They don't have any lefties in the pen besides Chico, though, so it could be hard from a management standpoint to send him down, but I still think it's in the team's best interest to keep a worthwhile reliever in the pen, because Chico can't get lefties out either.

I got to go on a tour of Nats Park today. It was really nice, and a fun tour. It's always cool go to in the dugout and bullpen and on the warning track. Wish we could have gone in the clubhouse, though, instead of just hanging on the outside. If you're looking to take the tour, I'd say it's worth the $15 (although my tour was paid for by someone else).

Now, my first Caps rant:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Who is the manliest player on the Nationals?

I spent much of today contemplating my personal manliness after shaving off my beloved red beard. I then started thinking about how a beard isn't necessary to be manly. You can have huge muscles, a deep voice, man-machines (such as tractors, vintage cars, pickup trucks, etc) and other things of the variety. This led me to look at the Nats, and see who of the team is at least mildly manly. On the surface, you're looking at the big guys (Rauch, Pena, Kearns to some degree, Hanrahan, Johnson etc.) and the guys with beards (Redding). A few other guys could possibly qualify are Aaron Boone, Odalis Perez and John Lannan (for no particular reason, really). Ryan Zimmerman does not qualify for any manliness award, as he attended UVA (the "University of Suck"), likely drank Zima and wore pastel-colored polos. No matter what he does on the field, he is too far in the negative to ever recover from UVA-level negative Man Points.

Some quick rules about my accounting: I give batters +1.5 Man Points for a walk and -1 Man Point for a strikeout. Pitchers receive +1 Man Point for a strikeout and -2/3 Man Points for each walk. Batters receive +2 Man Points for every home run, while Pitchers lose 3 Man Points for every home run allowed. Everyone recieves 1 Man Point for each inch above 6'2" they are and 1 Man Point for each 10 pounds above 220 they are.

For your amusement, here are the 5 Nationals I think are the most manly:

5. Joel Hanrahan (6'4" 250 lbs. Des Moines, Iowa)
While doing my preliminary list, I remembered Hanrahan for 3 manly things: He's huge, he's from Iowa and he throws 95-98 mph (which leads to a very high amount of strikeouts, which are manly). Capitol Punishment awarded him his "favorite book," Where the Wild Things Are, for Christmas. Youngsters who read Where the Wild Things Are are scientifically proven to grow facial hair and win bar fights at a much younger age than kids who don't.

The Stats
24 strikeouts (24 Man Points)
13 walks (-9 Man Points)
1 home run allowed (-3 Man Points)
6'4" (2 Man Points)
250 lbs (3 Man Points)
From Iowa (1 Man Point)
Total: 18 Man Points

4. Nick Johnson (6'3" 235 lbs. Sacramento, CA)
Johnson, as we know, is Larry Bowa's nephew. He takes walks, can rake, fields well, recovered from a broken leg, shaved lightning bolts into his hair...what a man! But then when you look at his Wikipedia page and his injury history, it takes away from his man points. I mean seriously, Nick: if you want to win this competition, you simply can't tell me that you would be a software engineer (coined engi-nerds at Virginia Tech). Being an Engineer is not manly, minus this kind.

The Stats
26 walks (39 Man Points)
21 strikeouts (-21 Man Points)
5 home runs (10 Man Points)
6'3" (1 Man Point)
235 lbs (1.5 Man Points)
Long injury history (-5 Man Points)
Larry Bowa's nephew (5 Man Points)
Oh's this Larry Bowa (previously awarded 5 Man Points revoked)
From Northern California (-5 Man Points)
Buzzed a lightning bolt into hair (10 Man Points)
Had a mullet/rat tail before buzzing a lightning bolt into hair (-10 Man Points)

Total: 20.5 Man Points

3. Wily Mo Pena (6'3" 270 lbs. Laguna Salada, DR)
"The Weapon" has a great nickname and more power than your local electric company. Unfortunately, he strikes out more than I did in Little League (even in the year where I had 4 hits the entire season) and moves more like a 6'3" 270 defensive tackle than a 6'3" 270 linebacker.

The Stats
4 walks (6 Man Points)
17 strikeouts (-17 Man Points)
0 home runs (0 Man Points...wait what? Wily Mo has 0 home runs?)
6'3" (1 Man Point)
270 lbs (5 Man Points)
From the Dominican Republic!!! (10 Man Points)
Nicknames: The Weapon, Weapon of Mass Production (10 Man Points each)
Total: 25 Man Points

2. Austin Kearns (6'3" 240 lbs. Lexington, KY)
Kearns is the league's premier good ol' country boy. He wears John Deere apparel and I presume drives heavy machinery around everywhere. That being said, whoever his coaches were in Kentucky sure taught him how to field.

The Stats
16 walks (24 Man Points)
19 strikeouts (-19 Man Points)
3 home runs (6 Man Points)
6'3" (1 Man Point)
240 lbs (2 Man Points)
From KENTUCKY!! (10 Man Points)
Wears a John Deere hat (5 Man Points)
Names of two sons: Aubrey (Maybe Kearns' wife loves Aubrey Hepburn so much that she convinced him to name their first child, regardless of gender, Aubrey) and Brady (loses man points because Brady is in Tom Brady's name!) (-5 Man Points)
Nickname: Country (5 Man Points)
Total: 29 Man Points

And the winner is...
1. Jon Rauch (6'11" 290 lbs. Louisville, KY)
The tallest player in the world (of baseball's history that is) has more manliness than some third world countries. In addition to his huge, superhero/professional wrestler build, he can somehow muster the strength to lift Wil Nieves about eleven hundred feet off the ground. One last note: Rauch is almost twice as tall as the shortest player of all time, Eddie Gaedel, who stood at 3'7".

The Stats
11 strikeouts (11 Man Points)
3 walks (-2 Man Points)
2 home runs allowed (-6 Man Points)
6'11" (9 Man Points)
290 lbs (7 Man Points)
From KENTUCKY!! (10 Man Points)
Won an Olympic Gold Medal (2000 Olympic Games) (10 Man Points)
Played at Morehead State (5 Man Points)
Has a ton of tatoos (10 Man Points)
Daughter's name: Aubree (-2.5 Man Points-got the baby's gender right, but spelled it wrong)
Awesome picture (5 Man Points)
Total: 56.5 Man Points

What are your thoughts? Leave them in comments!

Super Sad Face

Chris Needham of Capitol Punishment retired from the blogosphere today. This is a huge blow to those who follow the Nats in non-traditional forms (such as reading blogs). I know I wouldn't have survived through finals without his witty rants. If you've never read him before, click that link and read every single post. You won't be disappointed.

I'm going to get a roundup up later tonight and I'm going on a tour of Nationals Park tomorrow so I'll save a feature until after that!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tim Redding

What an outing today! In the first game I actually got to watch on TV for quite a while, Redding pitched what was for the most part a gem. While he tailed off a bit after I stopped watching, he threw 6 and 1/3 innings and allowed 6 hits, 1 run (on an Adam Laroche HR) and struck out 5 Pirates against 0 walks. He tossed 96 pitches, 64 of which were strikes. He and Lo Duca were definitely on the same page (trust me, Carpenter and Sutton let us know about once per batter), and his fastball, off-speed stuff and breaking pitches were all "on" today. Maybe this is the pitcher Redding was once supposed to be (look at 2000 and 2001). Whatever it is, He could very likely be starting for a contender if he keeps this up, with a low-ish ERA and a salary of only $1 million.

Unsubstantiated Trade Rumor of the Week

Here's my first installment of the UTROTW! Let me first say that this IS NOT A REAL TRADE and is COMPLETELY UNSUBSTANTIATED.

The Detroit Tigers trade UTIL Brandon Inge to the Houston Astros for SP Felipe Paulino and SP Bud Norris

Why it makes sense for the Tigers:
At this point in time, Inge is turning into a big headache. The Tigers have a handful of players that can play multiple positions (Sheffield, Cabrera, Guillen, etc.) so the loss of his utility wouldn't hurt them that much. They could use an heir to Pudge, and while James Skelton is a decent prospect, he's still years away. It also wouldn't hurt to dump Inge's $6 mil/year or so salary. Adding arms never hurts, even though Paulino is on the DL right now. We did see an injured top prospect traded in Humberto Sanchez in the Gary Sheffield trade, so it can be done.

Why it makes sense for the Astros:
They need someone to take over at either 3B (for Ty Wiggington/Geoff Blum) or CF (for Michael Bourn/Darin Erstad/Jose Cruz Jr.), as both positions are basically black holes offensively for the Astros. If they mortgaged their entire future to get Valverde and Tejada, they might as well pick up another piece that could fit in at either position as well as spell Towles behind the plate when needed.

Why this probably won't get done:
The Tigers don't really have another guy to back up Pudge at this point. The Astros will probably hold out from trading and end up being sellers. The Tigers are probably afraid of guys who throw 100+ and look to turn into relievers (see Zumaya, Joel).

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Saturday's Roundup

First off, I find it incredibly ironic that one of the NFL's most respected players, Marvin Harrison, is in some trouble. Even though things are pointing at this time toward the fact that he's not responsible, I still find it hard to believe that he could have even gotten himself in that position in the first place.

The Nats got creamed yesterday and pulled out a close one today, both against the Pittsburgh Pirates. John Lannan got roughed up in last night's 11-4 loss, allowing 6 runs (5 earned) in only 3 innings. If he continues his 2:1 ratio of quality starts to complete implosions, he should be safe on the Nats' staff. His 3:2 K:BB ratio is a bit frightening at this point (although it's better than last year's atrocity of 10 K to 17 BB). At least he's getting a chance unlike last year where guys like Levale Speigner and Jerome Williams got way too many starts.

Matt Chico pitched almost as bad today, giving up 5 runs (4 earned) in 4 and 1/3 innings. Unlike Lannan, however, Chico has only one quality start for the entire year (which makes this headline, "Nats turn to Chico for a quality start" incredibly ironic. That's like my girlfriend turning to me for fashion advice). If Michael O'Connor can bounce back from his poor performance last night (4 runs allowed in 3 and 2/3 innings in mopup work), I can see him taking over Chico's spot in the rotation while Chico trades spots in Columbus with Chris Schroder, who is wreaking havoc on AAA, with 18 K and only 1 run allowed in 10 and 1/3 innings pitched.

Don't look now, but Joel Hanrahan is bouncing back from a bad start to the year. In his last 7 and 1/3 innings (including today), he's allowed only 2 runs with 13 strikeouts and only 3 walks. It's also funny that Bill Ladson of wrote this in the midst of Hanrahan's hottest stretch of the season. The guy's only 26 years old, and has a ton of potential (that he was light years away from last year). He's still adjusting to life in the bullpen, as this is his first year there. The team is using him mostly in blowouts (as the team is 1-12 when he pitches, only 5 games of which the winner was within 3 runs of the loser), but keep an eye on him in your fantasy leagues anyways (if anyone already has their grips on him, they must REALLY be hurting for K's) and look to pick him up if he keeps this stretch of solid, strikeout-filled pitching up.

One last Nats note: Jonah Keri of ESPN's Page 2 wrote this column while sipping on some ice cold Haterade. Inside, he names the Nats as one of five "failure dynasties" (along with Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Kansas City). It's interesting, because these teams are all somewhat on the up. The Rays rebuilt their farm system and are finally looking to reap the benefits this year with a finish around .500. The Orioles started hot and guys like Adam Jones and Matt Weiters show a ton of promise. Pittsburgh has some chips to move at the deadline, including Xavier Nady, and could come away with some prize prospects to make up for some bad drafting in the early 21st century. Kansas City is a bit of a disappointment this year (thats what you get for relying too much on Jose Guillen!!) but has some guys with unlimited potential like Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, not to mention some of their pitching prospects. The Nats are on the up as well, completely rebuilding their farm system with some guys they've gotten through the draft (Marrero, Willems, Smoker, Detwiler, Burgess, McGreary, etc.) and through trades (Martis, Mock). The problem is, what if none of these guys plan out (not just for the Nats, but for any team)? Then you're stuck in the perrenial rut of the "failure dynasty." While I hate to admit it, unless the Nats prove something in the next few years, they might need more than a big FA signing and a new-ish stadium to get butts in seats. The one thing I disagree with: Keri says the Nats won't have a winning season until 2012. I think that they should be able to hit .500 by 2010.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Congratulations! You've stumbled upon my new blog. Since I'm a student and have very little credibility when it comes to sports (just a foaming-at-the-mouth passion), you're just going to have to trust me at first.

I'll be blogging mostly about the Nats, Caps and Redskins. I will also claim the Cubs as my own, as they were the baseball team I was raised on. I will periodically drop notes on other teams and players, but my main focus will be DC area sports teams (minus the Wizards, because I know absolutely nothing about basketball). I'll also write quite a bit about the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Some of the things I'm going to try and do on a regular basis:

1) Come up with an unsubstantiated trade rumor of the week. I will look through their team needs (or wants, or surpluses) and find a team that matches up and try and come up with a trade partner. While I am no GM, I don't think I'll be too far off with anything.

2) Post a roundup of my sports thoughts of the day. It may be short like 1-2 items, or it may be long. I'll discuss all I can here.