Monday, June 30, 2008

Sunday Night Roundup

Wow, nice ending to the game tonight! For those of you who live under rocks (or read my blog for reasons other than Nationals coverage, a dangerous thing in the summer), Nats infielder Ronnie Belliard hit a 1-2 pitch with 2 outs in the bottom of the 12th to beat the Dark Side 3-2. Great to see the Nats win (and the Dark Side lose) in such a dramatic fashion. Seems every time a Nats player hits a walk-off homer, I'm at work. So I guess I'll have to start working more often. Take one for the team, I guess.

The Reds signed Rob Mackowiak to a minor league contract. Usually guys are used to going from the Reds to the Nationals, but I guess Mackowiak is a non-conformist. He really showed his individuality by refusing to conform to the ML standard for being able to hit the ball. Way to show 'em, Rob!

Virginia Tech 400-meter hurdler Queen Harrison made the US Olympic Team today. Another proud moment for Virginia Tech. In the past year, the Hokies have reached the final four in men's soccer, the BCS in football and the College World Series in softball. They scored ACC Championships in Football, Women's Track and Field (both indoor and outdoor) and golf. Still looking for the elusive National Championship, but Virginia Tech sports continue to be on the rise.

Mike Green, Brooks Laich, Cristobal Huet, Shaone Morrisonn and Boyd Gordon can negotiate with other teams starting at (I believe) noon on Tuesday. Wouldn't it be great if, say, Huet signed between now and when I wake up tomorrow? And Green and Morrisonn decide that they'd rather save the team some cash and both sign deals around $1 mil for the better interest of the Caps? And Brooks Laich said "I think that's a great idea" and followed suit? And Boyd Gordon signed for the minimum and Cindy Crosby shaved his 15 year old hispanic kid moustache and the Caps signed Wayne Gretzky's time machine self? Hopefully, the Caps will be able to fit everyone under the salary cap. If you're interested, check out Japers' Rink's assessment of the value of draft pick compensation in the NHL. Here is my assessment of cap room.

Looks like that's it for now. I'll check in tomorrow late morning/early afternoon.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A bunch of Nats news

As many of you saw tonight (not including myself, as I didn't have power), Lastings Milledge went down with a groin injury trying to make a play on a line drive (that ended up an Alex Cintron triple). The Nats announced he was going to the 15-day DL and Harrisburg's Roger Bernadina would be his replacement. Tough break for L-Millz and his Center Field Thrillz, but that's really the Nats' luck as of late. (edit: Chico Harlan says about Milledge in Nationals Journal: "Headed to the DL; Lastings Milledge, who injured his right groin. He'll be out 2-4 weeks."), so not as bad as I thought. Wonder if 2-4 weeks will beocme 4-6 though, with our awesome training staff!

The only good news that comes out of it: Bernadina gets a shot. The 24-year-old has spent 7 years in the Nats system after being signed at 18 out of the Netherlands Antilles (aka Curacao, I believe). He's pulling a line of .325/.397/.475 in AA right now (with a career line of .292/.364/.414 in 636 at bats in AA and .258/.343/.375 overall) and is a good baserunner (career 77% base stealer, 75% in AA, 26/35 this year). He looks to me like a lefty version of Milledge, but with a little less power and a little better defense.

Good news: Austin Kearns is said to be back next week, which will (thank goodness) keep Pena/Harris/Lo Duca/Casto out of LF as much as possible (my dad keeps saying they're "showcasing" Lo Duca in LF to boost his trade value. It makes sense, as there are some really stupid GM's out there. Apparently versatility is in the eye of the beholder). Nationals.com says that Dukes will shift back to LF (even though I think they should stick him in CF, as he's more likely to be a full-time ML CF in the future than Roger Bernadina, who I think will end up as a Tom Goodwin-like player...#4 OF, #1 pinch runner, defensive replacement). I'm a little afraid Bernadina will end up like Brandon Watson, but I'll put a little more faith in him.

Great news: Collin Balester is going to make the start on Tuesday against the Marlins. The 22-year-old righty has a 9-3 record and a 4.00 ERA in AAA Columbus this year. Hopefully, he'll never see AAA again! It's good to see Balester and Bernadina finally get a chance (unfortunately at the expense of starters Shawn Hill and Milledge), but sometimes you have to lose someone for a while to find out who is really a contender from the minors rather than a pretender. The Nats have room on the 40-man (space was made when Nick Johnson was put on the 60-day DL), but no room on the 25-man roster. Top candidates to be sent down/outrighted: Pete Orr, Jesus Colome. The dark horse is obviously Fail-ipe, who is destined to be traded to the Dark Side tomorrow night or Monday.

Yesterday, the Dark Side Bird tripped Teddy in the Presidents Race. Tonight, Teddy beat the Dark Side Bird in an "unsanctioned race" (meaning the Nats can stretch out the misery of Teddy until they feel like giving him a win).

Wow

The Dodgers just got no-hit...and won! (box score)

Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo combined to throw 8 no-hit innings for the The Angels Angels of Anaheim, but the winning run was scored in the 5th inning when Matt Kemp was safe at first on a Weaver error, stole 2nd (and moved to 3rd on a throwing error by The Angels Angels of Anaheim catcher Jeff Mathis) and scored on a Blake DeWitt sacrifice fly.

This, my friends, is why baseball is such an intriguing sport. One of the rarest occurances in the game, a no-hitter, doesn't even guarantee victory.

EDIT-according to ESPN.com, "Strange finish in Los Angeles. Two Angels pitchers. No hits for the Dodgers, but we can't call it a no-hitter. Why not? It wasn't a complete game, and well, the Angels LOST 1-0 to the Dodgers, even though the Dodgers didn't get a hit."

Not sure whether that means it's not a no-hitter for any given pitcher (obviously, because there were 2) or if it's not an official no-hitter at all (either because it was pitched by 2 pitchers or because the Dodgers only hit 8 times, as the home team). Still a cool thing, though.

SECOND EDIT-Check this video from ESPN.com: a "no-hitter" requires a team to hit in all 9 innings. So the Dodgers were just "held without a hit" by the The Angels Angels of Anaheim.

THIRD EDIT-Check this post. Interesting stuff.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Quick odds and ends

  • Added the link to the Nationals Farm Authority Big Board to the links on the right. Check it out every week if you want to live a happy, fulfilling life.
  • Check out Pop'rs. My understanding of Pop'rs is that they are seasonings you put on foods, but have a good source of many vitamins and don't have a whole lot of sugar/carbs/sodium. Flavors go from Cocoa to Butter to Strawberry to Taco. Click the link to find out more, and you can enter a contest here to try them.
  • I'm also proud of Nationals pitcher Joel Hanrahan for doing some fundraising for the floods in Iowa, where he is from. If you want to bid on any of the items from the online auction (or just wnat to peruse them), check it out here.
  • Late Edit: Fredericksburg.com is reporting that Hill COULD be out for the year:

    Right-hander Shawn Hill yesterday did not rule out the possibility that he could be out for the season. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday with a strained right forearm, and he will be out indefinitely.

    "At this point, I honestly think that this is what it needs," Hill said. "I haven't had a good period of rest for a couple years now. I haven't had a good year to rest where my arm can just strictly rest up, heal up and catch up from all the abuse it's taken. At the same time it's frustrating because it's the middle of the season."

    Hill will leave the team and go to his offseason home in Florida in the next few days. He said his arm hurts even when he's doing normal, everyday activities. When that pain subsides, he'll decide when to begin a rehabilitation and throwing program.

More to be proud of

A week ago, I posted a little blurb about how my Virginia Tech Hokies were given the ACC Sportsmanship School of the year award.

And now, to make things better, here's this (from Roanoke.com:

The Hokies took an oral commitment this past week from 6-foot-5 Manny Atkins from Tucker High School in Atlanta, which has allowed them to focus even more of their attention on 6-3 guard C.J. Harris from Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Atkins is rated 89th in the entering class of 2009 by prepstars.com and is the highest-rated of the prospects who have committed to Tech. Recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons, who is affiliated with ESPN.com and Scouts, Inc. raves about him.

“Another great addition,” Gibbons said. “He’s just the epitome of the ideal student-athlete. He’s got the highest test score at his school, he’s in the honor society and he has a 3.8 GPA. His goal is to be the best student he can be. Education comes ahead of basketball and how rare is that?”

Plus, he can play a little.

Gibbons hasn’t seen Atkins play for Tucker High School, but “he was an excellent player for the Atlanta Celtics [travel team]. They won the championship of my Memorial Day Tournament. He has the versatility to play either big guard or small forward.

“He’s an outstanding player in his own right, but the most impressive thing is his academics come first. He brings your GPA up for the whole team. He’s a role model for all your kids to get the work done in the classroom. I think he’s a valuable, valuable player.”

Atkins played on a Class 4A championship team as a sophomore, when he was the most valuable player in the state final, according to Tucker coach James Hartry, who said that Atkins averaged 24.3 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots as a junior.

“He had offers from everybody,” Hartry said, “Coach [Paul] Hewitt from Georgia Tech called me as recently as yesterday, just wanting to know what he had done wrong, why he hadn’t landed the kid. He wanted to polish up on his recruiting because he had done something wrong.

“I think Manny just wanted to leave the state and, second of all, Virginia Tech was a great offer and the head coach up there came down and visited Atlanta. When the head coach takes time out to come and sits in your gym for 2 ½ hours and watch you play, that’s something special.”

Hartry had gotten to know Tech assistant coach and recruiter Stacy Palmore when Palmore was in his previous job, at the College of Charleston.

“He was always telling me, ‘Coach, you work too hard; one day you’re going to have a player,’ “ Hartry said. “He said, ‘Coach, you’ve got to help me out. One day you’re going to have a player.’ Me and this guy, Stacy, have been friends for a while.

“Manny is a student on the floor. He’s so heady, so smart. He’s always a step ahead of his opponent. He always prepares himself. He’s a workaholic. He’s the first one at practice and the last one to leave.

“He’s one of the best shooters I’ve ever coached and that’s going to get better as the years come. I look for him to do big things at Virginia Tech and big things in the ACC.”
I'm sick and tired of the elitists at UVA boasting about the academic "standards" their players face. Just because you kick people off the team for not making grades doesn't mean you have high standards. You just have dumb players. But nonetheless, it's nice to see a Hokie athlete (or just a basketball player in general) beat the stereotype of being a rockhead.

Let's hope Atkins can play to his potential at Tech!

Friday, June 27, 2008

A couple quick notes

According to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal (via MLBTradeRumors.com), 2 good things have decent chances of happening:

-Dumping Fail-ipe Lopez on the Orioles (for a "marginal prospect")
-Resigning Guzman to a 2-year deal

Trading Lopez to the Orioles would make me a happy man. I'd love to see "O's Exec" who trolls around the Nationals Journal comments stuck with the awful infielder.


Also, Dmitri misses Fick and says the team would be better off with him. I think he'd be a good coach, whenever he retires.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Off-Day Roundup

Today was an Off-Day, so not a whole lot to talk about. Here's the roundup:

Nats roster moves: Hill to the 15-day DL, Odalis off the 15-day DL, Nicky J to the 60-day DL (clears up a 40-man spot...Balester anyone?)

Caps make qualifying offers to Brooks Laich, Mike Green, Shaone Morrisonn, Eric Fehr and Boyd Gordon. Also mentioned: the 08-09 season salary cap will be $56.7 mil. The Caps have $37.6 mil tied up in contracts amongst 18 players already, so that leaves them about $19 mil of room to sign the 5 mentioned above, plus Huet and Fedorov if they so choose. Here are what I think the boys in red, white and blue will end up making (rough figures, mostly guesses and based on the comments from Japers' Rink's "Rink Wraps"):

Fedorov: range of $2 mil/1 year to $3 mil/1 year. We'll settle in the middle for $2.5 mil.
Fehr: range of $900k/1 year to $1.95 mil/2 years ($975k average). I'd bet on $925k.
Gordon: I'll just make one spot guess: $925k/1 year.
Green: range of $20 mil/5 years ($4 mil average) to $33 mil/6 years ($5.5 mil average). Because he's most likely to get a big offer, I'll go with the max at $5.5 mil. He could get offered $6 mil/year or more in FA, but I doubt the Caps match that, mainly because it would base more than 1/4 of their yearly salary in just 2 guys. Plus they would get draft pick compensation.
Huet: range of $10.5 mil/2 years ($5.25 mil average) to $24 mil/4 years ($6 mil average). I'll say he'll make $5.75 mil next year.
Laich: range of $1.75 mil/1 year to $5.5 mil/3 years ($1.83 mil average). $1.75 mil sounds like a nice round number for our figures.
Morrisonn: range of $3 mil/2 years ($1.5 mil average) to $5.25 mil/3 years ($1.75 mil average). We'll call it $1.6 mil next year.

That would put them at $18.65 mil among the 6 players. All I can say: It's gonna be close! But if they need extra room, they can always dump Pothier. Per the Caps.com article:
Pothier missed the second half of last season with a concussion, and his career is believed to be in jeopardy. There are two years remaining on his contract at $2.5 million per season, but the Caps would gain some salary cap relief if Pothier were physically unable to play during that period.
That's all for tonight. Check back in tomorrow, maybe something exciting will happen overnight.

UPDATE (1 minute after original post):
My boy Deron Washington was taken 59th overall in the NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. I don't care about the NBA at all, but it's good to see him get a shot.

Here's where some other locals went:
Roy Hibbert (Georgetown)>>Toronto Raptors
Sean Singletary (University of Zima-drinking Brats that are Future Yuppies with Popped Collars...will be referred to in the future as "The University of Suck")>>Sacramento Kings
Patrick Ewing, Jr. (Georgetown)>>Sacramento Kings
James Gist (Maryland)>>San Antonio Spurs

Morning link

Nats offer Guzman a 2 year extension:
http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080625&content_id=3002131&vkey=news_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Geometry beats the Nats once again

Here's the latest installment of Picture of the Day (even though it's a poor-quality screenshot of my My Yahoo! page):
Dang. Got beat by the Angles again. That rivals The Post's coverage of Alex Ovechkin's MVP award (he won a Mazda minivan?).

Also note that Nicky J is out for the year. Ruh Row. Guess it's more Meat Hook and circus music at first base.

And apparently after playing 1 inning in left field, Lo Duca is no longer a catcher, but a bona fide Left Fielder (or at least the headline suggests that).

Now I know why my high school journalism wouldn't let us have sucky headlines...so I took it upon myself to make a decent one up for this entry.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Something to look forward to?

From SI.com's "Ten tough things" (about the toughest things to do in sports):

Score 80 goals in an NHL season

Last to do it: Brett Hull (88), St. Louis Blues, 1990-91
Why it's so hard
: "The goalies are way better - that's the biggest reason why it doesn't happen anymore," says Steve Yzerman, the legendary former captain and current vice president of the Detroit Red Wings, who scored his career-high 65 in 1988-89, the same season that Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins lit the lamp 85 times. (Wayne Gretzky -- 87, 92 -- is the only other member of the 80-plus club.) "You don't get as many easy ones like you used to coming down the wing, slap shots going right through the goalie's legs. But yeah, I do [think we'll see it happen again.] It may not be next year, but if you look at forwards' ice time now, these guys are playing 24, 25 minutes (per game) because teams simply aren't going to have the depth (due to the salary cap). For a while, these guys were at 17 to 20. What did Alex Ovechkin score this year [66 goals]? With a couple more years under [Capitals teammate] Mike Green's belt, Nicklas Backstrom's belt, Alexander Semin's, I think [Ovechkin] might get there. I don't know about 80, but you'll get into the 70s again for sure in the next three or four years. Those [Washington] guys are going to be tremendous."
-- as told to Michael Farber

If I were GM of the Nationals (3 weeks later)

I wrote this the first time on June 1, so it's been 3 weeks (check it out here if you want to see my genius ideas). Much has changed (6 of my 12 proposed moves have been implemented) and much still has not (Colome is still on the team? ARE YOU SERIOUS?). So here's the new version of If I were GM of the Nationals, which will (sadly) continue to occur until Jim Bowden is relieved of his duties.

Just like last time, the 40-man roster is full, so some creativity will be needed to make room. Lucky for all of us, I'm the king of creativity.

Our 25-man roster currently holds at least 6 players who should not be on it (I will give Saul Rivera, Luis Ayala and Charlie Manning a brief reprieve under one condition-LEARN HOW TO THROW STRIKES!!!):
RP Jesus Colome
C Paul Lo Duca
IF Fail-ipe Lopez
IF Pete Orr
IF/OF Willie Harris
OF Wily Mo Pena

Between Lopez and Orr, one needs to stay because an ML middle infield backup is necessary and there is basically nobody ready in AA/AAA at either position. I'll say Lopez stays because he at least has had some success with a baseball bat at some level. So that leaves us with 5 players on the roster that needs to be purged: Colome, Lo Duca, Orr, Harris and Pena. These 5 would fetch very little value on the trade market. Pena (raw power/everything else), Harris (speed + defense/bat), Orr (speed + defense/bat + eye) and Colome (can throw 97 MPH/can't locate at all) all have at least 1 marketable skill and at least 1 major flaw. Lo Duca just needs to retire to the broadcast booth (he did a decent job when Sutton was on the DL with a voice cracking like a 12-year-old boy).

I think (and hope) guys like Pena ($2 mil, team option for next year at $5 mil/player option for next year at $2 mil) and Colome ($1.25 mil) can pass through waivers, because if they can right the ship, they can be solid major leaguers. Both showed signs of decency with the Nats last year, as Wily Mo hit .293/.352/.504 and Colome threw 66 innings of 3.82 ERA ball. Wily Mo's line of .213/.253/.269 (with awful defense) and Colome's 6.00 ERA don't cut it, however, and both need to be jettisoned immediately, whether it be to Columbus or another team. DFA them both and see if any offers come up. If not, let them become other teams' problems. Seriously, look at Colome's last 10 games (taken from his Nationals.com page):
Now that's just pretty awful. Notice that the dates go back more than a month, before I wrote the original If I were GM of the Nationals (June 1). Seriously...he's given up 7 earned runs in his last 3 and 1/3 innings pitched and 16 earned runs over his last 14 and 2/3. There needs to be a point where Jim Bowden just says "no more" and dumps the fireballer. There are a ton of people who can throw it hard waiting for Jim Bowden (or any other GM, for that matter) to give them a chance. Let's add Colome to that list.

Orr will likely accept his reassignment to Columbus (because the Nats have already given him permission to play at the Olympics for Team Canada, so he might as well). Lo Duca might retire if the Nats dump him, because nobody wants a 36-year-old washed up catcher who can't hit, can't field his position and annoys the rest of the team while trying to "light a fire" under them. I've got your fire, Paulie. To put it more precisely, you're fired. Harris is probably pawnable, as he is only making $800k this year, has good speed and can play basically anywhere.

To fill the spots of these 5 guys (not to be confused with the delicious house of burgers), the following hitters would be added to the roster (bear with me, I'll get to the pitchers later):
1B/3B/OF Yurendell DeCaster (needs to be added to the 40-man roster)
OF Roger Bernadina (called up rather than Mike Daniel for 2 reasons: slightly superior hitting this year and is already on the 40-man roster)
OF Kenny Lofton (needs to be signed and added to the 40-man roster, read up on him in my last IIWGMOTN entry)

This would leave us at a lineup looking like this:
Cristian Guzman-SS
Lastings Milledge-CF
Elijah Dukes-RF
Dmitri Young-1B
Jesus Flores-C
Aaron Boone-3B
Ron Belliard-2B
Roger Bernadina-LF

The bench would feature:
Lefty Kory Casto (1B/3B/LF/RF)
Lefty Kenny Lofton (LF/CF/RF, pinch running candidate)
Righty Wil Nieves (C)
Righty Yurendell DeCaster (1B/3B/LF/RF, 2B in a pinch)
Switch Fail-ipe Lopez (2B/SS/LF, pinch running candidate)
This would leave us with a bunch of corner infield/outfielders and not a whole lot up the middle, but the Nats usually don't carry more than 3 middle infielders (with now being the exception). Harris' ability to play middle infield in a pinch may trump DeCaster's callup.

Pitchingwise, it's a foregone conclusion that Odalis Perez returns and claims one of the two slots made available by dumping Colome. I once again support the calling up of Chris Schroder to fill the other spot, as he pitched well last year (3.18 ERA in 45 innings). He's already on the 40-man, and it's a bit of a waste to call up a start to put in relief when they could be starting in AAA (I'm looking at you, Balester/Clippard/Mock, etc.).

This all being said, guys like Balester, Clippard, Mock, Daniel, Estrada, Martis, Zinicola, Broadway and Escobar will probably see some ML action this year (or at least a handful of them) because of trades. There are realistically 3 tiers of guys: unmovable (due to lack of performance or contract), dump off for a low-level prospect (due to a lack of performance or contract) and trade for a solid prospect (or prospects, due to good performance).

Guys like Johnny Estrada and Paul Lo Duca probably won’t command anything on the trade market. If we’re lucky, somebody takes them off our hands for a PTBNL or something.

Guys like Ayala, Rivera, Nieves, Pena, Harris and Lopez could theoretically bring a low-level prospect I’d think if we tried dealing them away. I have a little bit more faith in Jim Bowden’s ability to find low-level pitching prospects (namely Martis), but still it is almost more worth it to hold on to most of them because (with the exception of Harris, Ayala and maybe Lopez) they have yet to reach their potential. Trading Ayala now would be selling too low for my liking, as this is his first non-great year when you look at it.

Guys like Young, Redding, Perez, Rauch, Boone, Belliard, Guzman and Johnson (if healthy) could theoretically bring in some decent prospects (maybe not Boone/Belliard, but it all depends on the market), with Redding, Rauch and Guzman being most valuable. All three are signed cheap compared to their peformance (Redding at $1 mil and with either 1 or 2 more years of team control after this year, Rauch at $1.2 mil this year, $2 mil next year and a team option at $2.9 mil in 2010 and Guzman at $4 mil this year) and are relatively young (30, 29 and 30, respectivelly). Since SP, RP and SS are 3 positions hard to find cheap, young, decent talent, the Nats could realistically ask for a B+ level prospect for any of them, and probably an additional B- to B prospect since it's Jim Bowden doing the asking. For guys like Young, Perez, Boone and Belliard, a B- to B prospect is more likely (and really a C+ to B- for Boone/Belliard would work). For Johnson, who knows.

Attention Jim Bowden: pay attention or you're fired, just like Paulie. Plus, I hear his phone is TOAST!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Last Night & Thoughts on Moves

Things were looking good last night. I caught a Josh Hamilton batting practice shot and was seeing my 29th team play (with the Royals being the elusive last team. Don't think I've been missing a whole lot from Royals baseball in my lifetime, since they haven't made the playoffs in that timeframe). I was hoping to collect my first win of the year (the other three games I've been to this year: the great Bergmann relief experiment in a 10-2 loss to Atlanta, the last game Odalis Perez has started, a 6-1 loss to St. Louis and the great Ayala implosion, a 6-0 loss to San Francisco. With Wily Mo's "minus home run" as another fan called it (well that takes him down to 0 HR now I believe), things were looking bad. Then we went down 3-0. On the 3-2 pitch to Dukes with the bases loaded and no outs, down 4-2, some idiot comes walking down our aisle right as he hits the ball (I guess Disney taught the ushers how to be nice, but how to know absolutely nothing about baseball and the importance of people not going through aisles during at bats. Then Manning, Sanches and Colome melted down and that was all. Yuck.

I meant to say this earlier, but Pete Orr is pretty bad. Sure, he fooled us today with some tricky glovework. But he still went 0-3 and is a career .263/.292/.339 hitter (and a career .264/.313/.349 minor league hitter). Sure, his 15/18 SB this year in Columbus look good (and 112/149 career
in the minors), but his speed didn't translate all that well to the majors (10/15 makes for a decent 66% rate, but averages to just over 3 stolen bases per year in his 3 year ML stint). He'll hopefully just be up until Odalis returns, but (as Manny mistakenly forgot) should NEVER start. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd rather see Fail-ipe Lopez start instead of Peterson T. Orr.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Okay, NOW we can panic

Inside Nova reports (via Nationals Farm Authority) that Nats top prospect 1B Chris Marrero did not sprain his ankle sliding into home plate on Wednesday. Instead, he BROKE his ankle sliding into home plate on Wednesday. Here's what the article has to say:

Potomac trainer Atsushi Toriida accompanied Marrero to see a Washington Nationals team physician in Washington D.C. on Friday.
Toriida said Marrero will have surgery, but did not know when, or where, or if it will be season-ending.
“We’re looking at at least four weeks of no activity,” Potomac manager Randy Knorr said.
Marrero would not take questions when approached in Potomac’s training room.
Baseball America ranks Marrero as the No. 1 prospect in the Washington farm system.
He was integral to Potomac’s offense during its run to win the Northern Division’s first half. He hit .250 with 11 home runs and his 38 RBI were second on the team.
This is Marrero’s first trip to the disabled list during his three-year career.
To replace Marrero, Low-A Hagerstown and South Atlantic League first baseman Bill Rhinehart was promoted to Potomac.
Rhinehart was hitting .295 with nine home runs and 56 RBI for Hagerstown.
“I’m just happy that all the work I put in has gotten me this far,” Rhinehart said. “I’m going to do what I can to help the team win."
In other news, Langerhans was outrighted to AAA to make room for Garrett Mock (who I will see pitch tonight in person...seeing the Rangers tonight will make 29 out of the 30 teams I've seen in person).

And according to the same NFA article:
-RHP Craig Stammen was promoted from Potomac to Harrisburg
-RHP Shairon Martis and LHP Tim Bittner were promoted from Harrisburg to Columbus
So we've got some good prospects being promoted from lower levels to higher ones. That Mike Stanton-for-Martis deal is looking pretty good right now, eh?

And this now puts me at 5/12 in the moves I would make if I were the GM (written at the beginning of June). Still waiting on a Kenny Lofton signing, though!

Entering the Danger Zone

Two "dangerous" things for me to touch on real quick.

One, I got an email containing this message from Nationals.com:
Hey fans, chat with Nationals Senior Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden next Tuesday, June 24 at 11 a.m. on nationals.com!

Now is your chance to ask Jim about the moves he's made, the recent draft selections (including first-rounder Aaron Crow), and where he believes the Nationals are headed in the future!

This chat is open to all Nationals fans, so make sure to log in on Tuesday and submit your questions to the chat!
Can we start a campaign of like 300 people to all send the same question: Is Mike Rizzo going to be ready to take over as GM when you're fired in July?

The other dangerous thing of the night: ELIJAH DUKES' BAT. Finally, something with Elijah Dukes and danger that doesn't involve him doing anything stupid. Dukes went 5/6 tonight with a double, a homer, a walk, 2 runs and 2 RBI (including the game winner on a walkoff single). Dukes is up to .270/.377/.402 on the year. That's actually pretty dang good, without even factoring his speed (8/9 SB!) or his defense. We've got ourselves the special player everyone thought Dukes would be. Let's see if he can keep his head on straight because if he does, he'll be our all-star rep next year.

And I came up with one more dangerous thing: having Lenny Harris as our hitting coach. FIRE LENNY!!!!!!!!1!!!!ONE!!!!

Caps thoughts

The Caps took a trip down memory lane tonight, drafting Bengt Gustafsson's son Anton in the first round (after trading their first rounder, #23, and a 2nd rounder for pick #21). If you don't know who Bengt Gustafsson is, you are not a Caps fan. If you don't know how to pronounce the name "Gustafsson," don't worry. It's spelled exactly how it looks...just like this: GUSTAFSSON. There, you said it. Got it down?

Here's more on Bengt (from Wikipedia):

Records

  • Set a Washington Capitals record (since broken) for points by a rookie with 60 in 1979-80
  • Scored the fastest goal from the start of a period (5 seconds in third period) vs. the Philadelphia Flyers on January 18, 1983
  • First coach in history to win the Olympics and the IIHF World Championship in the same year (2006)

Notable events


But seriously, Anton Gustafsson is going to be either a stud or a dud (well I guess most people are one or the other). If Gustafsson can stay healthy (apparently he's the hockey equivalent of Nick Johnson), he'll be a solid, two-way centerman. If he can't stay healthy, his NHL career will likely be shorter than that of his father's sting of 629 games.

Here's Anton's scouting report (from HockeysFuture.com):

Talent Analysis

Gustafsson reminds quite a bit of his father Bengt-Åke. He is a highly skilled two-way center with very good hockey sense. Gustafsson has good size, decent strength and plays a hard-nosed game where he often likes to play the body.

In the offensive zone, he comfortably sets up plays and leads the team with his play. Gustafsson’s puck control is good and he easily finds good passing opportunities. Although perhaps not a natural goal scorer, he does have a good release. Could perhaps work some with his acceleration, but he is fast when he reaches full speed and very difficult for the defensemen to get hold of.

Defensively, Gustafsson takes a lot responsibility and is a leader that takes no unnecessary risks. Instead, he makes smart and simple decisions. Overall, perhaps the most all-round Swedish player that is/was eligible for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
I'll give the pick an 8/10 and the trade a 6/10. A second rounder (especially the top second rounder we had out of 3 total) is too much to add on to just move up two slots anywhere besides the top ten. But Gustafsson at 21 is a decent buy, and will hopefully be an NHL mainstay for the boys in red white and blue.

The Caps also traded D Steve Eminger and their 3rd rounder from this draft to Philly for the 27th overall pick, which was used to draft defensemen John Carlson. I'd say the trade and pick are both 10/10. Eminger has talent, but is rarely used and is no more than a #6 at this point in time. If Carlson makes it to the NHL with the tools he supposedly has while Mike Green is still with the Caps, they'll have a lethal combination of puck-moving defenders. Here's Carlson's scouting report from MyNHLDraft.com:
John Carlson has size, speed, skill, and a high hockey IQ. Praised for his physical assets, he isn't afraid to use them. A great two-way defenseman, has both the offensive skills and defensive shutdown abilities, logs a lot of PK minutes. Could be the next best all-around D-man behind the big 4 Doughty, Pietrangelo, Schenn, Bogosian. An extremely rounded and fast player, capable of QBing the PP. May have hurt his draft ranking due to playing in the USHL, could have gone somewhat higher. He has the ability and he will be an NHLer.
Overall, the Caps did well today. They added two kids (and I can call them kids now that they are, in fact, younger than me, a scary thought) who will be more than just 3rd liners. Gustafsson could be a 1st line center if he stays healthy and Carlson looks pretty underrated to me. Nice work, George McPhee.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Stop freaking out!

I read through the comments on blog posts at Nationals Journal every day, as well as the weekly chats hosted by Chico Harlan, the Washington Post beat writer assigned to the Nats. These comments used to be all rah-rah but all of a sudden people are starting to freak out.

This semi-optimistic post came first. It sums up a lot of my feelings on the subject:

I love the game, and I love the city, and I'm willing to wait for brilliance. I'm young. If they're not the guys for the job, I'm willing to wait past Kasten and JimBow and Ted. I'll be rooting for the Nats after those men are gone, no matter what kind of team they field...If you don't find this entertaining, Tom, you're watching it wrong. I don't understand the fans who aren't happy with a pathetic disaster of a team. You know what makes me happy? Baseball. Winning is gravy...Winning's a lot more fun when you're in last place. Yes, I'd like to be at the top of the division someday. I'd like it as soon as possible. But I refuse to stop enjoying my favorite game in the world because the Nats just got swept.

Posted by: girl at work | June 19, 2008 4:30 PM


That post was lauded by plenty of the Nats Journal's readers but then called out by a handful of others:

Seriously, what is going on here? It seems to me that a lot of us around here aren't happy with this pathetic disaster of a team. And why should we be? And why are so many of you saluting a post that says we should be happy with a bunch of (unlovable) losers? These guys don't even try hard for the most part, which is what I find most offensive and which makes it impossible for me to be happy.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | June 19, 2008 5:21 PM


Why should you be happy with this team? I can see why people are discouraged with the team, but what were your expectations? The Nats were a 71-91 team last year and were expected to be less consistent than last year (mainly because they're younger). And how do you expect a team to be anything but a "pathetic disaster of a team" when they lose their Opening Day starting pitcher, closer, first baseman, third baseman and right fielder for a significant time? The team is in a lot better shape than people thing. When our 3 best hitters (yes, Kearns IS one of our 3 best hitters. One bad month doesn't displace an otherwise good career.) return, we'll start hitting better. It's as easy as that.

Besides the commenters, there were many pessimistic (and a few outright stupid) people on the chat. Among the losers:


Silver Spring, MD: Isn't it time to just release Nick Johnson. This is for simple fairness, and will not save any money. For the last two years, Mr. Johnson has received $5M a year, essentially to heal, to be on sick leave. He was hired to play baseball games. Whoever hired Mr. Johnson for this kind of money made a huge mistake. On a game-played basis, Mr. Johnson is probably up there with ARod.

Maybe it is time to part ways.

Manassas, VA: Chico, historically Nick Johnson has not played a full season. Ever. The closest he ever came was 2006, then got hurt and missed a whole season. If he's a slow healer that means he's always healing, which means he's rarely playing.

It doesn't matter how good his batting eye is, if he doesn't get to use it.

Second the call to part ways with Nicky J.


Chico (kinda) came to the rescue, saying this: Disagree. Washington has no intention to release Johnson. None whatsoever. Johnson's only problem is that he's historically been very slow to recover from injuries. This is just the latest example. But no doubt he'll be playing again during the last months of the season. And the Nats need him. Even when his average is down, he helps the team by drawing walks and taking pitches. No way does Livan cruise through an entire game on turbo-speed if he has to face Johnson three or four times.


That doesn't take it far enough. There is absolutely no reason to give up on him for being injury-prone. He has ALWAYS produced when healthy. His average may be just average (no pun intended) but he puts up great OBP/iso SLG numbers and good fielding to boot. But this guy said it best:

Dumping Johnson: Suggesting the dumping of Johnson just because he's injured is the perfect example of why you will rarely find anyone from a MLB front office in a chatroom. Just. Plain. Idoitic.

That's all I've got. I guess we've officially found our "stupid fans," which every team has a few of. Some teams (coughBOSTONcough) just have a few more stupid fans than others.

Quick Congrats

To the Virginia Tech Hokies for being named the ACC Sportsmanship School of the year:

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced today the recipients of the 2008 Spring Sportsmanship Awards. Teams receiving the awards have conducted themselves with a high degree of character and good sportsmanship, as determined by a vote of the league's players and coaches.

Virginia Tech was named the recipient of the ACC Sportsmanship School of the Year Award for the 2007-08 academic year. A traveling trophy will be on display for one year at Virginia Tech, which was named the sportsmanship winner in five sports and leads all schools with 19 awards since joining the ACC in 2004.
Big thanks to the players and coaches for giving the rest of us Hokies even more to be proud of.

Some fun stuff for the day

While I'm working on another entry, here's a picture of the day and video of the day for you.

From Nationals.com. None of us can wait for Zimmerman to return so we can get some more walk-off wins.










Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Players I'm Watching

If you're looking for predictions, this post isn't the right place. Instead you'll find some guys I'm keeping an eye on for a variety of reasons, which I'll explain.

SP Joe Saunders-Los Angeles Angels (stats)
I openly wondered in 2006 (while blogging for the now-defunct NatSpace) whether or not the Nats would jump on an Angels offer of Saunders and a guy like Brandon Wood or Erick Aybar if they were offered that for Soriano. It was either never offered or JimBow declined such a deal, but the Nats probably regret not going for it, as the lefty is 10-3 with a 3.06 ERA this year.

Why do I care? Saunders ('99) and I both graduated from West Springfield HS and he also attended Virginia Tech, where I am a current student.


RP Ryan Speier-Colorado Rockies (stats)
Ryan is sporting a 2.82 ERA so far this year in the majors. The submariner has been decent in his ML career, sporting a career ERA of 3.46.

Why do I care? Speier ('97) and I both graduated from West Springfield HS. He attended Radford University, which is just down I-81 from Tech.


C Wyatt Toregas-Cleveland Indians (stats)
Toregas is a member of the Indians' 40-man roster. The 25 year old hasn't had a whole lot of success since his 44 games in Kinston (High A) in 2006, where he hit .340/.418/.517 in 147 at bats.

Why do I care? I grew up watching the likes of Saunders, Toregas, Brad Bauder and Marc Tugwell (also a WS grad) at Tech. Bauder was last seen in Indy ball in 2004 and Tugwell peaked at AAA in the Phillies organization and decided to pursue other life opportunities.


RP Ian Ostlund-Detroit Tigers (stats)
Ostlund was a 34th rounder out of Tech in 2001. He hasn't tasted the majors yet, but he does have a career minor league ERA of 3.30 and has a 2.42 ERA and 10.46 K/9 in AAA this year.

Why do I care? As I said, Ostlund was another Tech grad. The lefty may get a shot in Detroit by the end of the year.


Others to watch:
1B/OF Sean O'Brien-No Organization (stats)
Look for the college slugger to sign a UFA deal somewhere or play Indy ball.

SP Jesse Beal-Baltimore Orioles organization (no stats)
The South County HS pitcher was drafted by the Orioles this year in the 14th round. He hasn't signed yet and is committed to Maryland. I wasn't all that impressed with the righty (I saw him pitch twice against WSHS) but he's apparently decent and has a fairly projectable body (6'6" and 215 lbs).

OF Brian Conley-Baltimore Orioles organization (stats)
The former Towson standout (and Orioles 2008 draftee) is (I believe) my first cousin once-removed (not sure exactly, but I'm related to him somehow). 'Cuz' (who I don't think I've ever met) made the family proud with a 2/3, 1 2B, 1 HR performance in his second professional game last night.

Per the Orioles' writeup (apparently via Cubs.com):
The Orioles drafted three players with local ties, starting with right fielder Brian Conley in the 17th round. Conley is a graduate of Towson University and Quince Orchard High School and a native of Gaithersburg, Md. Last season with Towson, Conley led the team in batting average (.352), hits (76) and RBIs (65), and he smacked 12 home runs.
He'd be an interesting candidate to interview in the future. Just so it's known, I'm also working on scoring interviews with Nats minor leaguers Adrian Alaniz, Jack McGeary and 2008 Nats draftee Chris Curran.

Monday, June 16, 2008

And the Moron of the Day award goes to...

Hank Steinbrenner!

For those of you who don't know, the Yankees' most consistent pitcher, Chien-Ming Wang hurt his foot running the bases during an interleague game at Houston. Here's what baby George had to say:

"Am I (mad) about it? Yes," Steinbrenner added. "I've got my pitchers running the bases, and one of them gets hurt. He's going to be out. I don't like that, and it's about time they address it. That was a rule from the 1800s."

Making a rare appearance on the bases at an NL park, Wang pulled up rounding third and hobbled home on Derek Jeter's single. Wang doubled over after scoring, pointed toward his right foot and was helped off the field.

"This is always a concern of American League teams when their pitchers have to run the bases and they're not used to doing it," Steinbrenner said. "It's not just us. It's everybody. It probably should be a concern for National League owners, general managers and managers when their pitchers run the bases. Pitchers have enough to do without having to do that."

Let's look at some prominent ML pitchers:
I have a sneaking suspicion that C.C. Sabathia and Livan Hernandez don't have much to do on off-days but eat Cheetos and watch SportsCenter. Let's also Google "MLB Pitchers with Weight Problems." Hmm...only 147,000 results.

Hank's not the sharpest tool in the shed. It doesn't take a genius to be able to round a base and keep running. Even a pitcher can do that. At least when guys like Shawn Hill hurt themselves on the basepaths, they're actually doing something (in Hill's case, doing stupid head-first slides). Wang can't do a very easy thing, something they teach you how to do in tee-ball. Hank is just mad because while money can buy talent, it can't buy the strategy needed to play NL-style baseball.

VT to get new football uniforms?

From a chat/interview with Tyrod Taylor from BeamerBall.com via Tyrod-Taylor.com:
Coach Beamer has hinted at some type of uniform changes this fall. Would you and the rest of the team like to see uniform changes? And, if so, how much does stuff like that matter to the players?

John Owen
Scottsville, VA

Taylor: I’ve heard some rumors, but I don’t have any details. I like the uniforms that we have now. I’m not really all that concerned about the uniforms. If you play well, the uniforms will look good. If you don’t play well, they’ll look bad.

I personally am a big fan of Virginia Tech's current uniforms. They're simple and classy, without a whole lot of noise going on. I'll defer judgment on any new uniforms until I see them, but I'd like to be seeing these for my next 3 years in Blacksburg:

That is, as long as they don't go back to these unis:

Doubletake

I've got good news and better news (assuming everyone wants a better draft pick next year, that is): Lo Duca is not only returning on Tuesday, but he's going to get some PT in LF. This is where the Scooby Doo picture comes in. Awuhhhhh?

According to Ladson, Lo Duca last played outfield and first base in 2004 with the Dodgers. Just because he played there when the Dodgers were trying to boost his value after he got off the 'roids (sound similar to what's going on now?) doesn't make it right! If you recall, Lo Duca pitched to David Wright in the 2006 Home Run Derby. Since he has pitching experience only 2 seasons ago (as opposed to outfield experience 4 seasons ago), are we going to trot him out there every 5 days? Do we need to even bother calling up Garrett Mock or Collin Balester or whoever comes up next?

Meh. Lo Duca will be about as useful with an outfielder's glove as I would be with a gorilla suit.

The only good thing to come out of this is that while Lo Duca racks up innings at 1B, LF and DH, Flores and Nieves will also continue to catch. Next time we need a call-up, hope that one of Paulie or Wil has heated up and move them for somebody's 2006 18th round draft pick to clear room.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Random thoughts on the offense

Our O is pretty bad right now. The best we're doing in any category is 2nd in the NL in HBP (no, I'm serious). We do have a few things to look up to now, though.

Lastings Milledge is up to .250/.318/.371. Yes, this is still awful. But he's improving every day. He's hitting .321/.406/.607 over the last week, .264/.328/.415 over the last 2 weeks and .265/.327/.441 over the last 4 weeks. Not great, but he's developing into a nice player.

Elijah Dukes is done insulting our manager and starting to warm up as well. He's still at .222/.342/.343 for the year, but he's at .286/.394/.429 over the last week, .286/.386/.490 over the last 2 weeks and .269/.396/.410 over the last 4 weeks. Still not perfect either, but he's a good defender and will excite Nats fans for as long as he can keep his head on straight.

And over the last week, Dmitri is hitting .500/.565/.750. That's 10/20 with 2 doubles, 1 HR, 3 R/3 RBI, 3 BB/5 K. Atta boy, Meat Hook!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Picture of the Day

Here's your picture of the day! Thanks to my sister for this one.

Saturday Morning Reads

Not sure why I'm up so early on a Saturday morning. I blame the phone ringing.

Anyways, check out these two articles at Japers' Rink:

Ovechkin Planning Wonder Spawn?

Ovechkin Welcomed Home In Style

Back on the Dukes Bandwagon

I'm impressed with Elijah Dukes right now. According to Ladson at Nationals.com, Dukes called a team meeting to apologize to Manny Acta and his teammates in front of the whole team.

In Ladson's words:

According to baseball sources at the team meeting on Thursday, Dukes said it was in the heat of the moment and he wanted everyone pumped during Tuesday's game, which the Nationals won, 7-6.
All has been forgiven.
"(Elijah) held this meeting on his own. It was his idea," said one baseball source that was at the meeting.

Ladson went on to note the following concerning the incident as well:
The confrontation came a few minutes after Lastings Milledge hit a two-run homer, scoring Dukes ahead of him. According to baseball sources, Acta was not angry with Dukes for showboating with Milledge near home plate after the home run. There was a miscommunication in the dugout. Dukes thought that Acta didn't want to shake his hand.
All I have to say about this: Wow, Elijah! The other day I said this:
Dukes needs to quit his childish antics, plain and simple. To be honest, I don't really care about him showing up the pitcher, but you don't show up your manager. Growing up in a bad neighborhood isn't an excuse for a total lack of class. You're an adult, Elijah. Act like one.

Dukes has brought all of the doubts people have in him upon himself. He can right the ship whenever he wants. Let's see if he does it now with an apology to Manny.
I'm very proud of how Elijah took care of the situation. Finally, we can all take a deep breath.

Friday, June 13, 2008

April and May Awards

I'm going to retroactively name Nationals' team awards for the months of April and May and then name them for every month for the rest of the year.

APRIL AWARDS
Cy Young Award
With a 2.64 ERA in his 5 starts, John Lannan takes the cake here. Lannan went 2-2 over those 5 starts and allowed a .239 batting average against. He had quality starts in 4 of his 5 games. The runner up is Tim Redding, who went 3-2 over the month with a 3.55 ERA in 6 starts.

Rolaids Relief Award
Sadly, I have to give this to Luis Ayala, as he is one of the two relievers (who threw more than like 4 innings) to have an ERA under 4. When your best reliever has an ERA of 3, it obviously was a rough month. Ayala's peripherals were actually pretty awful (8 K/7 BB over 15 IP, .268 batting average against), so it wasn't too difficult to imagine his implosion of late. The Tums Relief Award (aka the runner up) goes to Jon Rauch. While Colome and Hanrahan had better ERA's (3.68 and 4.30, respecitvely, to Rauch's 4.38), Rauch had a better WHIP (1.38 to both Colome and Hanrahan's 1.64) and a better K/BB ratio (11 K/2 BB to Colome's 17/12 and Hanrahan's 19/11).

Hank Aaron Award
It's gotta be Cristian Guzman. It's sad that over a month's time, the best hitter on your team hit .294/.322/.450. Guz led the team in hits with 32 (6 more than the next best, Zimmerman) and triples (2), was second to Lastings Milledge in doubles (8 to 7) and was tied for second on the team in HR (2), behind Nick Johnson's sadly pace setting 4. He led the team in runs (13) and was 4th in RBI (8). Nick Johnson gets the runner up, because he had a higher OPS. Too bad Johnson only had a .218 batting average.

Rookie of the Year
Lannan takes the cake again. No others to consider.

Gold Glove
Nick Johnson gets the win. Month-by-month fielding stats are impossible to find, but April is the month he played in most and he has a 1.000 fld% on the year. He saved a ton (thank you BRN for permanently removing the word "numerous" from my vocabulary) of errant throws from Flop, Zimmerman and Guz as well. No runner up, because it's impossible to find April fielding stats.

Most Valuable Player
I'll give it to Nick Johnson becuase he got the runner up for the Hank Aaron and won the Gold Glove. The runner up goes to Cristian Guzman.

Least Valuable Player
It's a tossup between Jason Bergmann (11.68 ERA in 12 and 1/3 innings pitched) and Austin Kearns (.161/.278/.247 in 93 AB's). We'll give it to Kearns because he had a more sustained period of suckiness.

MAY AWARDS
Cy Young Award
Jon Rauch and Jason Bergmann compete for this award for May, as Rauch was spectacular (0.63 ERA in 14 and 1/3 innings, 7/7 saves), and Bergmann rebounded from his runner up in May's LVP award with a 1.30 ERA in 4 starts. Since Rauch's success was over a longer period of time (Bergmann was in the minors for part of the month), We'll give Rauch the win and Bergmann the runner up.

Rolaids Relief Award

Rauch runs away with it, with Joel Hanrahan getting the runner up, with a 2.66 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 20 and 2/3 innings pitched.

Hank Aaron Award

It's down to Ryan Zimmerman and Cristian Guzman. I'll give it to Guzman again because his numbers have less holes in them. Zim did hit .289/.319/.511, while Guzman hit .316/.339/.487. Zim's K/BB ratio was pretty bad (15 K to 3 BB) whereas Guzman's was even (4 K to 4 BB).

Rookie of the Year
Goes to John Lannan again by default, although Kory Casto gets the runner up.
Gold Glove
It has to go to Elijah Dukes. He has only 1 error for the year, and he's been very impressive in RF over the last month or so. Jesus Flores gets the runner up.

Most Valuable Player
Has to be Guzman. He hit well and fielded well enough. Runner up goes to Zimmerman again. Jesus Flores would be in the running if he had more at bats.

Least Valuable Player
Give it to Luis Ayala (6.19 ERA in 16 innings), Jesus Colome (10.13 ERA in 8 innings) AND Felipe Lopez (.234/.297/.318)! YUCK!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

OV=MVP!

Not that it is a huge surprise, but the Caps did pretty well at the NHL Awards shindig tonight, with Caps winning 3 out of the 4 awards they were nominated for.

Ovechkin won both the Hart (MVP) and the Pearson (most outstanding player as voted by the players themselves). Here's what the AP article had to say:
Ovechkin capped off a special season Thursday night by capturing the NHL’s two most prestigious individual awards. He won the Hart Trophy as league MVP and the Lester B. Pearson Award as the players’ choice for the most outstanding player.
According to Japers' Rink, Ovechkin got all but 6 of the 134 first place votes for the Hart and just about doubled the point total of second place finisher Evgeni Malkin (1313 to 659).

Bruce "Gabby" Boudreau won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's top coach this year, narrowly defeating the Montreal Canadiens' head honcho Guy Carbonneauin total points 208 to 196, getting 31 of the 74 first place votes in the process.

Nicklas Backstrom got second in the Calder (Rookie of the Year) to Chicago's Patrick Kane, losing by 206 points (1078-872).

It was a good night for Washington DC hockey, especially when Ovechkin said this:

“I think I’m the happiest 22-year-old guy on the planet,” Ovechkin said. “I want to win everything, so next year maybe the Stanley Cup.”

“Next year I think we will be much better, and I can’t wait to see it start,” he said. “We love what we’re doing. We never give up, we believe in each other, we believe in the coach, we believe in everybody."

We believe in you too, Ovie!

Another 4-6 weeks of this?

Zimmerman's out at least 4-6 more weeks. He'll get a checkup, and if he's not better, he'll have season-ending surgery on his labrum.

Per Chico Harlan at Nats Journal (link is above):
"We're not 100 percent sure that the exercises will resolve this. This is a specific exercise program that is the best in the United States proven to help avoid this surgery and get him healthy. But we're not going to know until that time."
Chico also ran down some other injury updates in the weekly chat he has:

Cordero -- just went down to Florida to start throwing more regularly. He's still about two weeks away from a rehab assignment. I'm guessing he won't be back with Washington until July.

Nick Johnson -- has a setback recently. He was supposed to get his cast removed last week, and the doctors decided he should wear it for two more weeks. Initially the team estimated 4-6 weeks. Now it's more like 6-8.

Lo Duca -- might be close. He just started a rehab assignment. The real question here is, where does he play?

Kearns -- still doing arm strengthening exercises. Once he resumes "baseball activities," the team will have a better idea. Still a few weeks away.


So we're looking at general timeframes of mid-to-late June for Lo Duca, late June-to-early July for Kearns (also fits with Ladson's "2-4 weeks" prediction), July for Cordero, the all-star break for Zimmerman and for Johnson, who knows? Throw in guys like baseball player Chico (MRI on his elbow showed loose bodies, 6 weeks of rest and rehab according to writer Chico) Wagner (throwing simulated games) for some mystery and I start to smell a sitcom.

So I'm starting to have a better feeling about the Nats' "worst lineup ever" now that we'll actually have some of our starters back (not that they were all that special in the first place).

This lineup doesn't sound all that bad to me:
Guzman-6
Milledge-8
Zimmerman-5
Johnson-3
Flores-2
Kearns-9 (he'll be at .250 by the end of the season, I guarantee it)
Dukes-7
Belliard-4
Pitcher-1

We'll hopefully have this lineup from the ASG on. I really really hope so.

But until then, what do we do? We don't really have a choice but to keep trotting out Casto, Pena, etc. But with Belliard back, we've got decent starters at 7 of 8 positions (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CF, RF). There is really no excuse for how bad this team is hitting. They'll turn it around. They better.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Acta-Dukes situation

Most of what I think about the Acta-Dukes situation has already either been said by other Nats bloggers or by myself in the comments of other blogs, but I'll touch on it.

Dukes needs to quit his childish antics, plain and simple. To be honest, I don't really care about him showing up the pitcher (more on that in a sec), but you don't show up your manager. Growing up in a bad neighborhood isn't an excuse for a total lack of class. You're an adult, Elijah. Act like one.

And whilie I don't really care about showing up the opposing pitcher, what he did last night is going to get him a fastball in the ear tonight. Am I the only one who is imagining this following the fastball in the ear: he's going to charge the mound and attack Ian Snell and get thrown out, then cut, and he won't play professional baseball ever again. Dukes has brought all of the doubts people have in him upon himself. He can right the ship whenever he wants. Let's see if he does it now with an apology to Manny.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Some old faces

After reading through this week's "Pop Culture Grid" on SI.com's Extra Mustard section, I realized how much I really do miss having personalities on our team. Brendan Harris was featured on the page. Here are his answers:


Hopefully you can read those. Otherwise, just click the link and it will take you right there. His answers weren't LOLtastic, but, like I said, I miss having guys with personality (you'll feel the same way if you read Ryan Zimmerman's blog). You have to love it when a guy fills in the blank in "I never leave home without my _____" with "flask" and says that Hillary Clinton needs to stop talking.

Some other guys I miss: Jose Guillen (enough personality to supply a whole team), Jamey Carroll (my first autograph where I actually talked to the player), Joey Eischen and Robert Fick. I'll also throw in Mike Bacsik pre-756, even though he's still in the organization. We do still have Circus Music Dmitri Young but that's about it.

Picture of the Day



























Thanks to SI.com for this one. Now as if we don't have enough reason to hate the Patriots and Bill Belichick, he wears awful sandals with suit pants. And his wife (I assume that's his wife) looks kinda scary.

My comment on Nats Journal

I just copied this from Nationals Journal. A lot of the same stuff, but I finally went off on Lopez today. Figured it was long enough to share here:

The team's decision to go for mostly in-house replacements rather than pricey free agents was a smart one, because it's stupid to give guys a ton of money over many years (especially guys that will be 37, 38, etc. when their contracts expire). That being said, we still have issues. Manny keeps batting Milledge 3rd and took way too long dropping FLop from the top 2 slots. I blogged about this the other day at DC Sports Plus (my blog...Google 'DC Sports Plus' and it will be the first link), but this is what I think the lineup should be at this point:

Guzman-SS
Milledge-CF
Flores-C
Young/Boone-1B
Dukes-RF
Casto-3B
Pena-LF
Lopez-2B

Note that Belliard replaces FLop immediately when he returns. Immediately. I don't care if he does absolutely nothing, I'm so sick of seeing Lopez dogging it. Manny Ramirez is good enough to dog it. Felipe Lopez has the talent to be great, but he has never fully tapped into it and likely never will. He's such a frustrating waste of talent. He'll be lucky to get a minor league contract and an invite to spring training next year.

I think the problem lies within Lenny Harris (obviously not an original idea). If Jim Bowden wants to keep his job (which is in jeopardy, according to SI.com's Jon Heyman), he needs to can Lenny and get a hitting coach that gets our bats to improve rather than regress. We really just need Zim/Johnson/Kearns back. Yes, Kearns. He will not be this bad all year, you heard it here.


There's some good conversation going on over there, as NFL has also pointed out. Come join in the fun if you get a chance!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Answers to the mailbag

Entering Monday's action, the Nationals are 25-39 and fans want to know what the team can do to get even better. Here are some answers to some of their questions.

What the team can do to get even better? Are you high, Ladson? To be "even better," you have to be good in the first place. We need to get "better" before we can get "even better."

I'm a big Austin Kearns fan. I think he's the greatest asset to the Nats' outfield. Do you have any information on how his elbow is doing and when we can expect to see him back with the team?
-- April W., Clifton, Va.

I don't have the answer, so here's Ladson:
"He is back with the team and working out. After surgery to remove loose bodies, Kearns' right elbow is getting better and he should be back in action in two-to-four weeks."

Wait, didn't they say three-to-four weeks almost three weeks ago?

What's happened to the Nats' vaunted bullpen? There's not a single guy I feel comfortable seeing when the game is on the line. Why the drop off from last year?
-- Luke H., Southern Md.

You don't trust Rauch? Well, Cordero's hurt, Colome sucks and Ayala and Rivera aren't a whole lot better (scratch that, Ayala sucks too). Hanrahan is improving and the jury's still out on Sanches and Manning.

Frankly, I'm tired of your optimism. This team is nowhere near a contender, or a .500 club for that matter. How can any team expect to contend with the offense that the Nationals field? How do you respond to this?
-- Jon A., Stony Brook, NY

"It looks like I misread the team. I really believed that the team would do better than last year primarily because of the offense, but it's the No. 1 reason the Nationals are in fifth place. There's no doubt they need to make changes when it comes to the bats. Releasing Rob Mackowiak was a start, but it's not enough"--Ladson

LADSON PWNED!!!

Do you see the Nationals actively trying to trade any players? I think the team can honestly do without players such as Paul Lo Duca, Wily Mo Pena, Johnny Estrada and Kearns.
-- Jason H., Rockwood, Tenn.


Oh goodness, please trade Estrada!! I would love any deal getting him out of here (Estrada, contract fully paid and a dozen bats for 1 baseball). Pena and Kearns have no value, as they have contracts that go into next year (Kearns makes big money, Pena will make at least $2 mil (player option) and as much as $5 mil (team option).

Any chance Aaron Boone can play second base? Felipe Lopez hasn't been playing up to his potential.
-- Michael S., Richmond, Va.

BELLIARD IS COMING BACK SOON!! TRADE LOPEZ!!!!!!!!1!!!!!!! Geez, even cut Lopez, he's just awful. I'd rather see someone who at least looks like they want to play out there.

When are we going to see Justin Maxwell again in the Major Leagues?
-- Jim M., Harrisburg, Pa.

As Ladson said, Maxwell is DL'ed right now with a wrist injury. If Pena and Kearns don't hit when he's healthy (assuming Kearns is healthy when Maxwell gets back and gets a week or so of at bats under his belt), I think he'll get called up. I'd guess a mid-July call up for Maxwell.

With Ryan Braun, Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki getting long-term deals at reasonable prices, shouldn't the Nats negotiate a similar contract with Ryan Zimmerman?
-- Matt W., Waldorf, Md.

They are negotiating. The problem is that, as Ladson said, Zimmerman is asking for David Wright money (which is way too much) and the Nats are offering Troy Tulowitzki money (which is not enough). I still think they'll settle in the middle, around 6 years $48 mil. Maybe 5 years $40-45 mil could be a compromise as well.

Ruh Row for Bowden

According to Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated (via MLBTradeRumors.com), "There are rumblings Jim Bowden, GM of the Nats, could be in trouble." That's all he says in the article, not giving a source or reason. I doubt it has anything to do with the draft, maybe he's finally started rubbing Uncle Stan the wrong way? Or maybe it's because the failures of his ex-Reds (Kearns, Pena, Lopez and Young) are finally starting to outweigh the successes of his ex-Reds (Boone). Or maybe it's because the Nats are the 4th worst team in baseball (or tied for second worth if you go by losses).

But either way, Bowden heading out doesn't bother me. I'm sure that there are teams that won't trade with him or are skeptical of it. He is good at finding players whose careers he can resurrect, but you can't field a Major League team of 25 guys with retreads and he has to have figured that out. He probably needs to fire Lenny to shift the blame to the hitting coach. If he doesn't do anything, I could understand why he would get the ax.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The root of our problems

It's pretty obvious that the Nats have an awful offense right now. They've scored 2 runs or less in 9 of their last 14 games and 1 or less in 6 of their last 7.

What continues to baffle me is Manny Acta's misuse of the batting order. He finally (and I'm thinking reluctantly) moved Lopez out of the #1 and #2 spots in game 2 of the doubleheader yesterday. But he's still got Lastings Milledge hitting 3rd. The same Lastings Milledge who is hitting .241/.307/.342. That's pretty awful. In the meantime, he's got Jesus Flores, the team's best and hottest hitter, hitting 5th and 6th.

Here's what the lineup should look like:
Guzman-SS
Milledge-CF
Flores-C
Boone-1B
Dukes-RF
Casto-3B
Pena-LF
Lopez-2B

I've gone over why Guzman and Milledge should be 1 and 2 before. I'm not sure what else is debatable. Between Pena and Lopez, we might as well put the guy who is capable of hitting it very far if he makes contact up there instead of the guy who hits grounders and pop ups and strikeouts galore.

And I'm getting angry by the media tonight (also heard it on Channel 4 news). THE BULLPEN DID NOT BLOW THE GAME! AYALA BLEW THE GAME! DO NOT INCRIMINATE THE INNOCENT (namely Hanrahan, who pitched, but also the ones who didn't pitch like Colome, Manning, Sanches, Rivera and Rauch)!



Up to .250

Yup, another one of my plans has been completed, so I'm up to 3/12. Garrett Mock is being called up to pitch on Saturday (and Clippard will start Sunday). No corresponding move has been announced yet for Mock's call up (still hoping for Colome, but he threw 3 scoreless yesterday so it's less likely). Mock will probably be the one sent down for Clippard's call up. Both are on the 40-man roster, so no worries from that front.

I'll be at the park tonight to see Shawn Hill take on Jonathan Sanchez. I'll try and bring home a winner!

EDIT
Mackowiak will be given his unconditional release to make room for Mock. So now I'm up to .333. All we need now is a Lofton signing (now that Mackowiak is gone, we have room on the 40-man!), a Colome release, etc.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Thursday's Wins and Losses

There were multiple wins and losses on Thursday, including (but not exclusively) the games in the doubleheader. The Nats earned a split with the Cards, losing in the afternoon but winning in the nightcap.

The Nats lost 6-1 in the first game to the strangely effective Todd Wellemeyer. John Lannan was okay, pitching 6 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits, but with 4 walks and 0 strikeouts. Not a good trend to start, Johnny. Flores got hit by pitch in the hand but says he's okay (and finished the game). He didn't play or pinch hit in game 2, but he was going to get the night off anyways. Strange that if both catchers were going to catch one game, they didn't let Lannan throw to his personal catcher, Nieves. But I'm sure there's an explanation somewhere. We left 11 men on base, which is pretty awful. And reading the following should make you want to punch infants and elephants alike: Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Casto; Harris; Milledge; Langerhans. 4 guys couldn't bring a runner on second or third home with 2 outs. Casto redeemed himself in game 2, but Harris, Milledge and K-angerhans are in my doghouse. I'm actually convinced game 1 never actually happened (despite watching it). There were apparently less than 1000 witnesses. Time to call Vinny Castilla and see if he's got any cousins that can erase the game from the books if you know what I mean.

Bang! Zoom! went the fireworks following Elijah Dukes' walk-off monster mash (links to the monster mash, not the actual homer...sorry, I'm childish like that) in the bottom of the 10th. The weary Washington faithful witnessed Redding give up 6 runs (including a 3 run shot to a relief pitcher. Not a homer, it was a SHOT!) to keep St. Louis in the game, Rauch blow a save and Sanches give up a solo shot in the top of the 10th to give the Cards the lead. But then Elijah Dukes (who had a killer game. Hmmm...maybe 'killer' wasn't the best choice of words) hit a 2-run walk-off bomb to dead center (again, 'dead' isn't the best word). I've been pretty impressed with Elijah lately, both in the field and at the plate. Over the last 11 games, Elijah is 11/32 (a .344 batting average) with 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 SB, 8 R, 5 RBI and a 8/7 BB/K ratio. Not bad, dude. Also wanted to point out great nights by Guzman (4/6, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 2B), Boone (3/4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 2B, 1 SF) and Casto (3/4, 2 RBI, 1 2B, 1 BB). GUZMANIA!!!! returns, as Guzman's batting average went from .299 to .310. A 6/11 doubleheader does that for you, I guess.

I'm still scared by this: Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Nieves 2; Lopez; Milledge; Redding; Harris 2. Sure...Boone, Casto, Guzman and Dukes all delivered somewhere in the game with 2-out RBI's (and Casto had 2), but we can't continue the trend of leaving guys in scoring position with 2 outs. 10 times over 18 innings (not even including Redding, so really 11) our batters couldn't plate guys from second or third. I'm unhappy with this.

And last but certainly not least, the first 6 rounds of the draft took place tonight. The Nats snagged 3 hitters and 3 pitchers. 3 of these guys were high schoolers (meaning they're a year younger than me, weird), 1 was a first year JuCo guy (meaning he's my age, weird) and 2 were college juniors (meaning they're only 2 years older than me, still weird). Here's their haul (do yourself a favor and head to Nationals Farm Authority to see the full scouting reports. Great work, Brian!!): RHP Aaron Crow (University of Missouri), OF Destin Hood (Alabama-HS), SS Danny Espinosa (Long Beach State), LHP Graham Hicks (Florida-HS), C Adrian Nieto (Florida-HS) and RHP Paul Demny (Blinn JC). Among these guys, I'm ecstatic about Crow, Espinosa, Hicks and Nieto. All were excellent value picks and all but Nieto are pretty projectable at this point. Crow is going to be a #1-2 starter, Espinosa comes from Shortstop U (the alma mater of Chris Gomez, Troy Tulowitzki, Bobby Crosby and Evan Longoria), Hicks is another lefty who can throw strikes (following in the footsteps of Smoker and McGeary) and Nieto was the 4th rated catcher on most boards (behind Posey, Skipworth and Castro, all high first round picks). Hood and Demny are high risk-high reward guys it's looking like, but I'm happy with the balance of predictability (4 guys) and risk/reward (2).

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Simple Instructions

If you're following the MLB draft today (starts in a little less than 2 hours, at 2 PM EST), visit Nationals Farm Authority. NFA is the go-to source for all Nationals prospect news and his material is excellent.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The most pointless email ever, plus Odalis is burning!

This email just popped into my inbox. "Send your Nats to New York." We can choose between the injured Paul Lo Duca, the injured Nick Johnson (they should have figured he would get hurt), the injured Ronnie Belliard, the above average Cristian Guzman, the injured Ryan Zimmerman, the awful Wily Mo Pena, the injured (and especially awful) Austin Kearns and the average Lastings Milledge. All I'm going to say: It's a great time to be a Nationals fan!!! Nottttttt. I'd say the odds are definitely pointing toward Jon Rauch getting the nod. He certainly deserves it, with a 2.20 ERA, 12/14 SV, 0.942 WHIP, 6.25:1 K:BB ratio, etc. He's really the guy that sticks out. Sorry, Guz, but Rauch deserves it a little more than you.

I got a phone call at 6:15 last night asking if I wanted to come to the game with a friend. We drove (and had to pick up 2 others), so we didn't get there until 7:30 or so thanks to traffic on 395 and the search for parking (and the long walk from the car to the stadium, as we didn't have a permit). So I was in the car for the first inning meltdown and already gone by the time Lohse had his RBI single (was dragged out by my ride just after the second rain delay began). There were only 2 mildly amusing plays while I was there: Boone's diving stop and force-out at second and the "double steal" (where I think Lopez, but maybe Guz...whoever was covering the throw at second, should have just tagged Ankiel).

One word definition of last night's game: Meh.

And to top it all off, the injury bug bites again. Mock better get the call if someone needs to be summoned from Columbus to replace Odalis in the rotation. Unfortunately for Perez, the burning sensation means it's NOT working.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I'm at .167. Me > Mackowiak, Langerhans

Remember last night's post about what I would do if I were GM of the Nats? Actions 1 and 2 of 12 has been completed. Zimmerman is headed to the DL, with Kory Casto being called up with the corresponding move. You can refer back to yesterday on why this is a good idea.

Now we must turn our attention to something else: OH CRAP, THE FRANCHISE PLAYER IS HURT!

Per Nationals.com,
The Nationals placed third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list on Monday because of a slightly torn labrum in his left shoulder and are expected to recall infielder/outfielder Kory Casto from Triple-A Columbus.

Dr. Benjamin Shaffer, Washington's orthopedist, advocated rest and anti-inflammatory medications for Zimmerman. However, the Nationals are consulting with Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala., Reds orthopedist Dr. Timothy Kremchek and Dr. Robert Cofield of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., to determine if surgery is necessary. The club sent Zimmerman's MRI via Federal Express to the doctors on Monday.
I'm no doctor, but I do know how to panic. A torn labrum is serious business, although it's in his non-throwing shoulder, and is only slightly torn (like Hillary Clinton is only slightly a woman). Hopefully Shaffer's "rest and anti-inflammatory" plan (OUR FRANCHISE PLAYER IS FLAMMABLE?!? OR INFLAMMABLE?!? EEK!) will heal him soon, because he is about the only reason to go to the ballpark on some nights.