Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Leadoff is my main concern at this point. Truthfully, I would like to see Dukes lead off and see what kind of pressure he can put on starting pitchers. Speed and power on top could put a scare into the other teams. Any thoughts on this one?
-- Don M., Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
It's a difficult position to put Dukes at the top. He has a great combination of OBP and speed, but can we handle losing his bat in the middle of the lineup or his baserunning gaffes?
I don't think Acta is the reason the Nationals are off to a slow start, but are there some people in the organization who think he is to blame?
-- Alex C., Montreal
He's not THE reason the Nats are off to such a bad start, but he is A reason. Manny still has a lot to prove to me to be honest-he hasn't locked in a spot for any future years as our manager.
I was pleasantly surprised to see outfielder Austin Kearns have a decent Spring Training, however, he seems to be back to his old unproductive self. Shouldn't the Nationals see more of Josh Willingham in the outfield and give Kearns the shakeup like Lastings Milledge got?
-- Frank W., Fairfax, Va.
Ummmm....he's got a bad batting average (.229) but a .386 OBP and .514 SLG are both awesome, especially when you factor in his plus defense. I'm not following you, Frank...bench the guy with the .900 OPS because he's not producing enough?
What's up with all these guys -- Ronnie Belliard, Cristian Guzman, Willie Harris and Anderson Hernandez -- pulling up lame while running the bases? I thought hiring a new strength and conditioning coach might have helped, but something's wrong here.
-- Maurice N., Fairfax Va.
A strength and conditioning coach means something, but not everything. The players still might not do their individual stretching right, or they still might not be in shape. Chances are, some of them didn't prepare themselves enough for the situation (I won't say ALL of them) and ended up hurting themselves.
Don't you think the Nationals made a mistake in not signing second baseman Orlando Hudson? He is apparently healthy and certainly hitting and fielding well. I think they blew it big time.
-- Peter R., Vancouver
Yes. I don't care if he failed the physical-they knew he was hurt. How does an injured player pass a physical? O-Dog is miles ahead of Belliard with the glove and ahead of Hernandez with the bat.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
There's not too much else to the story. There were the cameras at West Springfield when we had our "Senior Night" for track. Naturally, I decked out in Tech stuff and ended up on the news. There was the funeral, where I wore a VT tie. I didn't know how to deal with the situation except to be proud of who I was: a Hokie, and where I was going to spend the next 4 years of my life: Virginia Tech.
We are Virginia Tech.
We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.
We are Virginia Tech.
We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.
We are Virginia Tech.
We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.
We are Virginia Tech.
The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.
We are the Hokies.
We will prevail.
We will prevail.
We will prevail.
We are Virginia Tech.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
What is happening with right-hander Jordan Zimmermann? When can we expect to see him in Washington?
-- J.D. S., Arlington, Va.
According to Ladson, he's making his MLB debut on Sunday against the Fish. He gave up 3 runs in 5 and 1/3 innings in his first minor league start on April 9, striking out 4, walking 1 and allowing 4 hits (2 of them were HR). Apparently his start that was supposed to take place tonight was rained out so that may change things.
Do you think the Nationals will draft and sign Steven Strasburg?
-- Dylan H., Leona Valley, Calif.
Ladson thinks so, and I agree. The organization simply cannot afford NOT to take Strasburg. They can't afford the bad PR. They'll draft him and sign him.
It is so frustrating to see that the Nats are going to have another season like last year. This team just doesn't have pitching to win ballgames. Don't you say otherwise. There is absolutely no one the team can count on. I know you want the kids to play, but you need at least someone who you can be sure he's going to lead you to a win, even if he's 100 years old.
-- Alex C., Montreal
Pitching stinks, clutch hitting has been awful, defense has been bad...this is a bad team right now. Luckily, baseball is a game of streaks and there's nowhere to go but up for about 90% of the team.
Is Adam Dunn the worst fielder you have seen? In nearly 60 years of watching baseball, and studying the game from the 1870s to the present, I have never seen and do not know of a worse fielder in professional ball either in left field or at first. The guy is a natural designated hitter, so what's he doing in the National League? He makes Frank Howard look like Willie Harris.
-- Woody S., Arlington, Va.
No. Just because he's below average doesn't make him the worst fielder ever. Did you forget Dmitri already?
I know it is early, but is there anything to be concerned about regarding the Nationals? Are the games giving you any more confidence than the box scores?
-- Brian W., Arlington, Va.
I'm concerned that Manny might not be the manager we think he is (I share a similar concern with Redskins head coach Jim Zorn). Both are good guys and good motivators, but they haven't really proven to me to be good in-game managers. They can rally the troops, but at this level you need more than that out of the head honcho.
On an unrelated note: LETS GO CAPS!!!!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Although I like the outfield strengths, I think Adam Dunn, Elijah Dukes and Austin Kearns should be the starting outfielders. I know Lastings Milledge is starting in center, but the other three guys seem to be more of an offensive threat. What are your thoughts?
-- Don M., Charlottetown, Canada
Ladson: "I like Dunn, but I want to see Maxwell and Roger Bernadina as the other outfielders. I've often said this: I want to see the Nationals play the kids. Washington manager Manny Acta, acting general manager Mike Rizzo and team president Stan Kasten will disagree with me, but Maxwell and Bernadina are ready. They are better than some of the outfielders they have now."
What? Maxwell and Bernadina are older than Dukes and Milledge. I think the Nats need to step up soon, though and either trade somebody or send Milledge or Dukes down because it hurt their development to not play every day.
It's not a secret the Nationals are shopping Nick Johnson, but what are they looking for in return? And is Johnson concerned about this at all?
-- Philip G., Brandywine, Md.
Ladson: "The Nationals are looking for young starting pitching in return. As far as Johnson goes, he is not worried about being traded. All this guy wants to do is win. The Yankees spoiled him, and I can tell you he wants to win a World Series ring badly."
Works for me. I'd like for Johnson to stick around, but somebody needs to go.
I don't understand why right-hander Jason Bergmann wasn't given a shot to make the starting rotation this year?
-- Darren M., Fairfax, Va.
Ladson: "Contrary to what he thinks, Bergmann did not have a good year in 2008, and he should be considered a reliever. Just look at the numbers. I've often felt Bergmann has been in denial about the season he had. It doesn't help when a certain beat reporter tells him he should have won nine games if he had the offense and defense behind him. The record is right where it should be: 2-11 with a 5.09 ERA."
Contrary to what Ladson thinks, Bergmann is still probably the 3rd or 4th best ML-ready SP in our system. Nonetheless, he should have been given a spot on the ML roster as either a starter or reliever this year. FJB had a good take on this a few days ago.
With the Orioles letting him go, what is the Nationals' rationale in penciling Daniel Cabrera in the middle of their rotation, seemingly without any competition?
-- Jim S., Bethesda, Md.
Ladson: "It's about Cabrera's potential. This guy can throw gas and be unhittable. I think pitching coach Randy St. Claire can straighten him out. I want to see what Cabrera can do during the first half before I pass judgment."
I'm going to go out on a limb and say probably at least half of pitchers who have thrown in the majors can throw gas and be unhittable. That's very unscientific, but Cabrera has already had 5 years to prove his potential in the majors and has gotten worse as time has gone on.
With the relative success of rejuvenating pitchers, is there any possible interest in the Nationals acquiring Tigers left-hander Dontrelle Willis? With his stock so low right now, it seems he could be obtained for little in return and would be a low-risk investment with high-reward potential.
-- Cliff S., Springfield, Va.
Ladson: "You and I are on the same page. I think St. Claire could turn Willis around. Right now, Willis is on the disabled list, so let's see what the Tigers do once he comes off of it."
Dontrelle is a 180 from Cabrera-he had great success in the majors before blowing up in 2008. I think he can be a good ML pitcher again with the right mentor (St. Claire), but he's also apparently not all there mentally anymore. He's not worth the money at this point. If the Tigers released him and he could be acquired for next to nothing, sure, but I don't want Willis taking up 10% or more of the Nats' payroll.
Dmitri Young is several floors -- not a few steps -- below Johnson defensively. I still believe Ryan Zimmerman's throwing problems are a result of playing a year with Young at first base. When you know you have to throw a strike to first base, it puts a lot of undue pressure on you as a fielder. Also, Young is not a couple of steps above anyone as a first baseman.
-- Richard A., Annapolis, Md.
Ladson: "As far as Young goes, I've seen worse first basemen. Give Young a break. I agree he is not a Gold Glover out there, and he won't be at first base as long as Johnson is healthy."
No, Young is TERRIBLE defensively. You haven't seen worse first basemen except for maybe Adam Dunn, but at least he hits 40 homers.
Wow, Ladson was really off today, even more so than usual.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
2009 win total-76 (I meant to put 78, my choice in Mark Hornbaker's contest, but I failed).
Attendance at Nationals Park (81 dates; last year's was 2.32 million)-1.9 mil
Adam Dunn's home run total-40 (exactly)
Date of Stephen Strasburg's major league debut-Sept. 2
Nick Johnson's total games played-129
Wins for John Lannan-12
Percentage of season Dmitri Young spends in big leagues, not on DL-20%
Josh Willingham's total at bats-300 total, 60 with Nats
Innings pitched for Daniel Cabrera-160 total, 110 with Nats
Team ERA leader-Lannan
Team batting average leader-Zimmerman
Biggest surprise-Austin Kearns
Biggest disappointment-Rookie Pitchers (ZNN, Martis, Hinckley)...and I'd like to add Anderson Hernandez.
Current minor leaguer (not counting Zimmermann) who will make an impact-Bill Rhinehart
Predict the Nats' rotation entering the last week of the season:
(Zimmermann and Martis will be shut down because of innings)
Saturday, April 4, 2009
LHP John Lannan
LHP Scott Olsen
RHP Daniel Cabrera
RHP Shairon Martis
These 4 all deserved to be here. No surprises or disgust here. Z-NN will be up when we need a 5th man in a few weeks.
Ronnie Belliard (1B/2B/3B)
Alberto Gonzalez (2B/SS)
Cristian Guzman (SS)
Willie Harris (2B/3B/OF)
Nick Johnson (1B)
Ryan Zimmerman (3B)
I think the Nats did the right thing here as well when they sent down Casto and Cintron. Both will get another chance at some point during the year.
LHP Joe Beimel
RHP Joel Hanrahan
LHP Mike Hinckley
LHP Wil Ledezma
RHP Saul Rivera
RHP Steven Shell
RHP Julian Tavarez
YUCK! This is poor bullpen management at it's best. 3 LHP is just stupid on all levels, even if Beimel isn't a LOOGY. Tavarez shouldn't have made the pen over Mock or Bergmann (or Colome, even), and one of Hinckley/Ledezma really had to go. Rizzo and Kasten get a F for the bullpen.
The front office failed here as well. They brought the best 5 OF they have to the big league squad, that's not the issue. Instead, the issue is that they didn't move a single one of them! I really can't believe they didn't deal off Willingham.
As for the Kearns/Dukes situation, I favor Manny's decision to start Kearns off under 1 condition-it's not permanent. When Dukes' bat gets up to speed, he starts. He's not ready yet, but needs to start when he is.
Carrying 3 catchers is stupid in almost every case, but this is just going to be an extended audition between Bard and Nieves until Hernandez comes back. Also, Flores will need time to adjust to ML pitching, as he missed much of ST, so 3 catchers isn't a terrible idea here.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Chris had the chance to sit down with this Hall of Fame coach and what is seen is a selection from the interview that took place.
Q: Can you tell me about some of your early days of baseball as a player and early coach?
A: Well as a player, I came up in a high school that had very very good baseball. In fact, won 9 out of 10 state championships. I happened to be a part of the club that didn’t. As a sophomore I got cut. And then later as a senior when we won the state championship I was all-state, and captain of the team and ended up going to North Carolina and having an ok career down there. Thought I was good as a sophomore and then they started pitching me a little tougher (laughs).
Q: When did you know that you wanted to get into coaching?
A: I had it kind of in the back of my mind. My dad had coached [a] legion team. I had to play for him one season. In fact, I made a couple errors one day and we were on the bench and I was about 14 or 15 years old, tears running down my cheeks cause the fans were hollering to put this other kid in. You only play him cause you’re the coach’s son! And I wasn’t mature enough to handle that. He said, “Are you a quitter?” I said, “No, I’m not a quitter.” He said, “Well get your little hiney back on there out on the field.” I wavered a little bit my freshman year of college. At one time I thought a little bit about going into the FBI, but then I changed my sophomore year and from then on I wanted to be a coach.
Q: Did you ever expect coaching for 47 years?
A: (Laughs) No, no, no. No, I never thought it would be that long. I just got real real lucky, fortunate or whatever. It was in January and it was High Point College at the time and now it’s (High Point) University. They were looking for, believe it or not, an assistant tennis coach and an assistant basketball coach and a teacher. I was in the middle of grad school… So, they came in. In fact the president of the school and the athletic director of the school interviewed me. They caught me down in the gym and interviewed me in the dressing room. So they said they would be back in touch with me. I went back to my room and wasn’t thirty minutes they knocked on the door and said, “The job is yours.” And I said, “Well, I’ve never seen the place. I got to come up.” It ended up I coached tennis the first year. I didn’t know anything about tennis. I gave them a can of balls, wrote out the lineup, and got out of the way and sat around and drank water while they were playing. Gave a little pep talk every once in a while. (Laughs) In fact we played for the conference championship. In basketball, I was the recruiter for three years. The second year I was there he told me he wanted me to give up tennis and wanted me to be the assistant baseball and assistant basketball. So, that’s the way that year started off. And half way through the season the head coach at High Point resigned, and I became the interim. In two-and-a-half years I had become the year coach. (Thinks) I was 26 years old. I had become the head coach at High Point College. Oh, they were horrible. The field was bad, but I loved baseball... Having played baseball at (North) Carolina, and I loved baseball. We started working. Of course we did a lot of the work on the field, but then we started recruiting some players. We had very limited. In fact, we had no scholarships to start with… They had won a total of eight games in three years. My first captain came to me and told me we really appreciate the work you’re putting in, and you’re energetic and we’re having a lot of fun playing for you, but we can’t compete against those other teams. So right then we gotta get rid of this losing attitude. 5 years later we won the conference championships and we ended up winning 10 conference championships before I left…
Q: Coach Hughes is in the process of rebuilding the Hokies. What kind of advice can you give him because you did the same thing with High Point College?
A: Well, it sometimes becomes a slow process. You got to get good players let’s face it. I’ve got a little slogan I use. A mule never won The Kentucky Derby. You got to have horses. I still believe that. Now, you have to coach those horses just like those guys have to train those horses, but you can’t train a mule. He can only go so far. You know you got to continue to get good players. It’s a real difficult league to say the least. It’s one of the better leagues. It comes down to recruiting. I think this is a great place. The improvements ya’ll have made in the ball park. It’s got to help in the recruiting…
Q: You and Johnny Oates are the only two baseball retired numbers in Virginia Tech history. Can you tell me your favorite Oates memory?
A: Yea I do. We were playing here, and I can’t remember who we were playing, but it was a Sunday and we always had devotionals down in the bullpen after we took batting practice. We went into the bullpen and it was optional. Johnny had came down for that weekend. I had asked him if he would do our devotion. He was very religious, really religious. Lived it. His wife came down to the bullpen. We were getting ready to assemble. She said she didn’t think he (Oates) was going to be able to make it. He was sick. He was still taking all that chemo treatment and everything. Then he waved his arm, and he was coming down. He came down and spoke to us. He cried like a baby. After it when I talked to him about that. He said that it was one of the most prominent times of his career. Playing for all those teams and managing two different clubs. He said, “That was a moment I will take to my grave.” It was a very emotional day. We were all out there crying.
This past month we played the UNC Tar Heels. Everyone knows who their best players are: Dustin Ackley, Alex White, and Matt Harvey. The most impressive of the 3 to me was Dustin Ackley their first baseman.
Ackley is a projected first round pick in this next years draft. He looks like any ordinary guy, but with a strong southern accent. Ackley is average height and size, but his abilities are far from ordinary. The speed that he has with the kind of power that he has is unreal. He hit a home run versus us that was crushed. The guy can really hit. He also possesses a great amount of patience. He racks up a lot of walks while being able to get pitches to hit. Defensively he is very sound at first base. It’s not a tough position to play, but he makes it look effortless with his picks. I think that in professional baseball, outfield will be better suited for him because of his speed and arm. It would be a waste of talent to leave him at first base with the kind of defensive
skills he has.