Tuesday, November 28, 2006

5 Questions with JammingEcono

Update, 11/29: you can read my answers to JammingEcono's questions at this link.

Alright, party people. It's the week after Thanksgiving which means there just isn't much Nats news to speak of. Of course, next week that could all change as Jim Bowden communes with his fellow GMs in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Who knows what Cristian Guzman doppelganger we'll be greeting after that's all over. If you're an MLB.TV subscriber with too much time on your hands, you can actually watch the meetings live online.

But we digress. As part of our undying commitment to bring you high-quality filler material until Spring Training, we bring you another edition of 5 Questions. This time I interviewed the much-loved but little-heard-from JammingEcono from Banks of the Anacostia.

Here we go:

Curly W: We haven't heard your take on the Soriano deal yet...what say you?

JammingEcono: What Soriano deal? Just kidding, of course. I had no doubt that Soriano would end up signing with a team that could afford to pay him the big bucks and satisfy his need for a long term contract. Nothing that has happened with the Nats in the past two years suggested seriously that BowKast were going to be able to make a deal with him. What really upsets me is the fact that the Nats won't be getting a first-round pick since the Cubs were not a top 15 team. This only serves to exacerbate the monumental error in judgement by the Nats front office in not simply taking the best offer on the table at the July 31 trading deadline. While there has been much debate in the Natosphere over what may or may not have been offered prospect-wise by different teams, these is no doubt that whatever prospects were on the table were better than a second round pick and a sandwich pick. Without a doubt, the failure to trade Soriano on July 31 was the single biggest blunder by the organization in the two-plus years that the Nats have been in Washington.

Curly W: Assuming the Nats take the field in April with their current roster, who would you start in left field and center?

JammingEcono: Casto deserves the starting gig in left and Nook Logan and Church should platoon in center. Logan has hit LHPs well (.322/.356/.461) in limited duty (152 ABs career), but has struggled vs. RHPs (.608 OPS). Church has been more "consistent" overall, (.808 OPS) but his defense is not suited to CF, in my opinion.

Curly W: There were rumors last week that Jim Bowden was thinking of trading Chad Cordero for Wily Mo Pena. Do you think the Nats should look to trade Cordero or any of their other regulars for more prospects from other teams?

JammingEcono: I think that rumor was probably floated by Theo Epstein via the good people at the Boston Globe to gauge interest in Pena and advertise Boston's need for dependable relief help. That said, the thought of trading one of the "core guys" should not be considered verboten by Nats fans. At this point, the Nats are essentially starting from ground zero as far as rebuilding goes. The Livan Hernandez trade was a good start (despite Chico and Mock's struggles) and should serve notice that no one on the team is untouchable. That said, I wouldn't have taken the Pena-for-Cordero deal either. Pena is basically an above-average center fielder with big-time power who hasn't learned to take a pitch (.315 career OBP). Granted, he's still developing at the tender age of 24, but Cordero is the same age as Pena, more talented, cheap ($525K 2006 salary), and under the Nats' control for several more years. In today's pitching starved, overheated free agent market, the Nats should be able to get more for him than Pena. If Zech Zinicola continues to develop, Cordero could become considerably more expendable. Other regulars that I could see trading for decent-to-good prospects include Nick Johnson (good, but too brittle, especially considering the glut of replacement 1Bs on the market), Larry Broadway, Ryan Church, John Patterson (sell him before his recurring injuries end his career) and (especially) Jose Vidro.

Curly W: How would you clear the logjam in the middle infield with Guzman, Lopez and Vidro?

JammingEcono: Easy. Trade Vidro for a ham sandwich. Unfortunately, no other team is likely to want to touch that contract until the 2007-08 offseason at the earliest (with the '08 trading deadline being more likely). Lopez is probably the easiest decision of the three as far as who to start goes. It's hard to send a guy in to spring training without a defined position in mind, but I wonder if he couldn't just take over the position of whomever does worse in Viera between Guzman and Vidro? Since I doubt that that happy scenario would be palatable to Manny Acta or Lopez, I'd probably bench Guzman and eat Lopez's pretty terrible SS defense.

Curly W: Two questions in one: who are the most expendable and least expendable members of the Nationals?

Most Expendable: Vidro. The money saved by getting out from under that horrible contract alone would be worth seeing him go.

Least Expendable: Zimmerman. Cornerstone of the franchise right there. If his 2007 season even comes close to replicating his 2006 campaign, I'll be driving the bandwagon to lock him up with a 7-8 year deal.

*****

Trade Vidro for a ham sandwich? We could then subsequently trade that ham sandwich to a bigger, tougher GM for a package of Craisins, a Fruit Roll-Up, or some other hideous lunchbox standby.

Thanks to JammingEcono for jamming with us...see you next time!


We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen promotional poster unceremoniously pilfered from The Minutemen web site.

Friday, November 24, 2006

'Tis the Season...Tickets



This is the post in which I finally expose myself...



...as a shill for the Washington Nationals marketing department.

It's Black Friday, that day after Thanksgiving where everyone, even in this age of online shopping, heads out to the local mall and wades into the consumer clusterfrack therein. Hey, why get shot in the ass waiting in line for a PlayStation 3? If you're a Nats fan, or have a special Nats fan in your life, skip the mall and consider treating yourself to Nats season tickets this holiday season!

I recently disclosed that I have decided to take the plunge and become a Nationals season ticketholder. Well, I guess you could call me a halfass quarter-ass season ticket holder. I purchased a 20 game plan on the Nationals web site last week, and I've since gotten a few questions on the blog from curious information-seekers. I'll describe my experience in the interest of the public good, and in hopes of dispelling some of the myths about the season ticket buying process.

I decided sometime toward the end of last season that I wanted to become at least a partial season ticket holder. I was inspired largely by the exploits of Screech's Best Friend and his cohorts in Section 320. I was also motivated by a personal desire to spend more time at RFK in its final season, gain access to the exclusive events for season ticket holders, and get a leg up on the hoi polloi when it comes time to buy tickets to the new stadium in 2008. Let's face it, every Dewey, Cheatem & Howe lobbying/law/PR firm in the city is going to be fighting for tickets to bribe impress their clients and members of Congress at the city's newest monument. Especially the Republicans.

So I logged on to the Nationals web site and found my way to the 2007 Season Ticket section. The first step was to choose a full-season, 41-game or 20-game plan. As tempting as the larger plans were, I had to be realistic about the number of Nats games I could feasibly hope to consume as a busy consultant and the father of a one-year-old. I settled on a 20 game plan, since that's about the number of games I've gone to in each of the last two seasons. There are two different 20 game plans to choose from. The specific games included with each are listed on the web site. I am going to go for plan B because it contains the max amount of Sunday afternoon games, which are easiest for the family to attend.

While the Nats list the prices for the different tiers of seating, they won't let you pick your seats right away. Instead, they take a $100 deposit (plus a $10 service charge) per seat, regardless of where you ultimately end up sitting. I was shocked and pleased to find that the team had lowered or maintained the ticket prices for last season, and that season tickets were way more affordable than I could have imagined. The absolute rock bottom one can spend for season tickets is $100 per seat for 20 games in the outfield. That's just $5 per seat per game. Of course, if money is no object, you could pay $3200 per seat for a full season in the Field Box. (No wonder Kasten returns Screech's Best Friend's phone calls! ;-)

It all depends on your budget, but for as low as $5 per seat there's little reason not to get season tickets so you're in line for tickets next year. You also get a break over single-game ticket prices. The larger the plan you buy, the deeper the per-ticket discount gets. For full season plans the discount can be as much as $5 per ticket, or $400 for the season! After much thought and argument with my wife, I finally settled on the Upper View Box tickets for $9 per game.

The Nats are also offering other minor perks like discounts at the team store, exclusive season ticket holder events (glad-handing picnic with the players, etc.) and "pre-sale opportunities prior to the general public." Hopefully this means "have a chance in hell at getting season tickets in the new stadium." Full season ticket holders get steeper perks, like a flexible exchange program for unused tickets and the ability to transfer tickets to a third party via the Nationals web site. I'm also told that they will be sending me a hat. Awww...

The day after I submitted my deposit I received an e-mail from my new Nationals account executive. He asked if there was a particular location I was looking for. I told him the exact section I wanted, and he called back to explain that they were still working on accomodating existing season ticket holders and he'd call to set up my exact seats when that effort was finished. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the process goes.

I'm looking forward to getting my exact seat location settled and can't wait to head back to RFK next summer. If you're thinking about getting season tickets I hope you've found this post helpful. As for the rest of you season ticket holders, feel free to drop a comment if I've overlooked anything or you have something you'd like to share.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Soriano Monologues

We all knew this day would come, but it still stings a bit, doesn't it? It's not so much that I'm sad that Soriano is gone, but that now, two years later, the Nationals' honeymoon in Washington is officially over. In 2005 we had the magic of the inaugural season and the improbable flirtation with contention. In 2006 we had the anticipation of having a bona-fide star on our team, and the validation of that hope that came with Soriano's amazing season. In 2007 we have...nothing.

Sure, it'll be neat to see what Manny Acta can do, and we might all wax nostalgic a bit at the passing of our beloved RFK, but this coming season looks like one that is destined to be forgotten. It's ironic, in a way. 2007 will be the first full season with a real owner and a respectable TV deal. Now that everyone can watch, there's little worth watching. It feels like the team is moving backwards.

*****

Now that Soriano is gone we can sift through the ashes. Federal Baseball and Capitol Punishment point out that Soriano's departure essentially moves up by one year the compensation the Nats would have received had Brad Wilkerson left via free agency. The way things worked out, we'll get a Type B draft pick from the Cubs, the same level that Wilkerson would probably have netted.

On this comparison alone it's tempting to conclude that the team broke even on the Wilkerson trade. However, it's impossible to view this trade as anything other than a net loss. First of all, there's no guarantee that Wilkerson would have walked had he remained with the Nats. The team would have had a good chance of re-signing him, even with the allegedly limited budget. The Nats also traded two other players to Texas, Terrmel Sledge and Armando Galarraga. Both of those players ended up back in the minors for their new teams, but the Nationals could have used some help in the minors with all the injuries in 2006. So the team gave up a potential fixture in the outfield (and a fan favorite) and two prospects for a one-year mirage and a Type B draft pick.

The Soriano trade seems to have been just what many of us suspected: a splashy trade for Jim Bowden in order to buoy his candidacy for the permanent GM job. I can't say I blame him, but hopefully from now on he can make deals in the long-term interest of the team instead of trading for self-preservation's sake.

*****

So where does this leave the outfield? Seems like the Nats are once again looking forward to a Bowden-esque logjam of toolsy would-be outfielders. Austin Kearns is a lock for right field, but center and left field are up for grabs between any and all of Nook Logan, Ryan Church, Kory Kasto and Alex Escobar. Yikes. These guys have all shown flashes of brilliance, but none of them has been able to break out despite several seasons in the league (Casto excluded). Instead of breaking out, most of them just break, spending countless months on the DL. It's going to be interesting to see how Acta juggles all these players. Farid breaks down the myriad possibilities.

Oh, and the Boston Globe is rumoring that Bowden is looking to trade Chad Cordero for Wily Mo Pena. That would be just unconscionable. Pena, for those who don't know, is another former Red (and Bowden draft pick), a promising young star who's never broken out, mostly because he was stuck in a similar outfield logjam that Bowden created as GM of the Reds. Pena was stashed on the bench for years, primarily as insurance for the oft-injured Ken Griffey, Jr. He was traded to the Red Sox last summer, where he was once again stashed on the bench. If Jim Bowden trades away our closer for another outfielder it will be that much harder to take his alleged desire for pitching seriously.

*****

What will the team do with the money that was being spent on Soriano? Kasten and Bowden have made mealy-mouthed overtures about "investing in player development," but I don't buy it. My guess is that Kasten and the Lerners will simply pocket the cash to recuperate some of the $450 million they spent last year to buy the team. All significant investment and spending is almost certain to be on hold until 2009, when the revenue starts to roll in from the new park. It's going to be a long couple of years.

*****

The silver lining, if there is any, is that the Nats didn't overpay for Soriano and the Cubs did. It's just one of those ill-fated offseasons where the big boys are spending like crazy and the rest of the teams just fold and wait for the next hand. It's also good, I suppose, that Soriano didn't go to a division rival. I shuddered at the thought of Soriano joining Utley and Howard in hitting dinger after dinger off the Nats' pathetic pitching staff.

Soriano's departure also paves the way for Ryan Zimmerman to become the team's most high-profile star. This is a good thing, because Zimmerman is exactly the kind of guy you want as the face of the team: talented, selfless and semi-local. Perhaps he'll be a Barry Larkin for our times. Or he'll turn 30, take the Yankees' money, and run. Who knows.

This is baseball today. You get attached to a player only to watch them leave. So long, Soriano. It was a fun year.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Welcome to...Me

In a moment of serious misjudgment, Papi and Manny have brought me up to the Show for a cup of coffee. This is akin to sending Ryan Church down, except that presence is felt more acutely than loss. Anyway, I'll be handing those two crushers their sunflower seeds and pushing off the paparazzi, and they thought it would make sense for me to give a bit of an introduction.

I have never played baseball. As the story goes, my father kept me out of tee ball to save my arm for little league. And by the time little league came around, it was already clear that Geoffy couldn't hit a beach ball off a tee, much less a baseball careening toward him at 45 miles per hour. So dad took me to the library and taught me that rooting for the Tigers and playing strat-o-matic was almost as good as, you know, hitting a baseball. (Growing up in South Florida in the 80's, there was no local team to root for, so the Tigers were my heroes; it's surprising how evocative names like Gibson, Morris, Whittaker, and Trammell still are to me.)

Though I followed baseball obsessively in my youth, I fell off in high school and turned my attention to stealing my mother's car and girls. And I didn't really pick an interest back up until I moved to New York in 2001. My resurgent interest in the game was a product more of my love for New York than any particular interest in the team itself--I rooted for the Yankees because they are as much a part of that city's identity as the Brooklyn Bridge. No matter how the squad looks, and whether the burghers love or hate them, they're an immovable part of the collective consciousness. In a post-9/11 Manhattan they were a comforting presence--the team grieved with the rest of the city, but more importantly they just played baseball. In a city reeling and confused, the immutable distance from third to home, the heaviness of history in Yankee Stadium, and the pinstripes on the back of Mariano Rivera gave proof that New York was still there, and that life would carry on, in some ways unchanged, however trivial those constants seemed compared to the hurt.

I've weaned myself off the Yanks, now that I'm out of New York (I'm not one of those "Born a Cubbie, Die a Cubbie" types--I don't wear much black anymore, either), and now I pull for the Nationals. Some things are different--my new team doesn't win, for example. But I retain my interest in how the team interacts with the city--how people fit it into the rhythm of their summer, how a lazy beer on a Sunday with friends is often the real point of going to a baseball game, how a team works together. The human side. I don't mean made-up Joe Buck melodramatic crap. I mean the quiet hum of human effort, success, and failure, as events related to baseball play themselves out on the field, in the clubhouse, upstairs, and in the larger community.

Luckily for the anti-sap crew, I've also become very interested in the post-Bill James game, in how baseball is uniquely susceptible to advanced analysis through statistics. In a way this new number-crunching is very closely linked to the anti-melodrama, human story that I treasure. Players are measured now not by their "look" or "clutchness" (with the exception of a few already-superstars like Papi and Jeter), but rather based upon statistics that can measure how small adjustments in a player's game can radically affect his performance. By understanding the numbers, you can understand how his efforts to find a new pitch are failing, or succeeding. By reading deeper, and in a new way, you understand the old plotline of human acheivement that much more.

Going from casual fan to Kind of a Big Deal will be no mean feat, I think of this as an education, more than anything else. I have a lot to learn with respect to many on-field aspects of the game (around which everything else ultimately revolves). I hope and expect that you all will call me out it, and that I will, over time, be able to contribute some sort of unique perspective to a game that attracts commentators like Anna Benson attracts catcalls. More soon . . .

Saturday, November 18, 2006

5 Questions with Harper

Around and around we go, 5 Questions with the Nationals bloggers. Today, we trade up with Harper Gordek of Oleanders and Morning Glories. Harper also asked us 5 questions as well, which can be found here. Previous 5 Questions Nats Blogger Edition entries: Misschatter,Farid, Screech's Best Friend, Nats Triple Play.


And with that, onto our questions.

=====

Curly W: What's your inspiration for blogging? What do want to do with this and where would you like to see it go? Do you have an angle or a routine when creating posts, or do you just follow the news? Why is it not crazy for us to waste all this time writing about baseball?

Harper: I can see that the "5" in "5 questions" is more of an abstract idea than a strict rule.


Let's see...spite is a big factor in my blogging. I only started blogging after calling out a friend for not posting enough to his blog. He said it was harder than it looked and I took that as a challenge. Some will say I've proven my point, going on for over 2 years now. I say if I stop now, the terrorists win. In a more traditional sense, my love of baseball and hatred of idleness are the real inspirations. If I gots ta do something (and I usually gots ta) discussing baseball is not a bad way to go.

Where do I want to go from here? Nowhere really. It's a fun little side gig, I don't see this as a career or anything. If the right opportunity arises I might jump at it, but otherwise I'm fine plugging away until it stops amusing me. I do think about expanding to some of the more large scale ideas when it comes to the blogs though, things that I enjoy on the web like roundtable type posts or podcasts. However, given how I like things, I'd only be happy with it if it was
both consistent output and of decent quality. I go back and forth on whether I have the time and energy to put that together.

What's my routine? I read everyone else's blog and steal things, then I look at the news. I think you got to use the news as a guide if you want to write a quasi-daily blog. Creativity has its limits. Sometimes it boils down to perusing what's going on and scribbling down my opinion. I enjoy that ok. When I really start to get excited about blogging is when I'll wonder about something and that leads me into a more creative post. So my "angle" is what I'm thinking about. I try to be funny, but I find I'm a lot more matter-of-fact blogwisethan in the real word.

Why is it not crazy? I assume that we all would be wasting our free time on something, why not blogging? If we were interested in doing something more altruistic or meaningful with our time I bet we'd be doing it already (and probably some of us are).


Curly W: Manny Acta, exsqueeze me? Is this for real? Is he the stopgap guy set up to fail while the team builds, or is he The Next Bobby Cox? Do you think Jimbo will just kneecap him when it's expedient?

Harper: It had to be someone right? Because of how bad this team could be for the next few years, no manager in his right mind was going to make the Nats choice #1. We were facing an uphill battle. Given that, Manny is a fine choice. I think the team would like Manny to be a long-term solution, but I also think they'll take a good long look at him when/if the Nats get into contention to see if he fits that type of team.


Curly W: So whoo-hoo, Mayor-elect Adrian Fenty managed to get the DC Council to approve box garages in place of Herb Miller's condo buildings with magically hidden parking, and this is considered a 'major victory,' because the Nationals' get their 1225 parking spots none of us will ever get to use, and so far about 9,000 other spaces have materialized for a 41,000 seat stadium. Is the stadium turning into a debacle, or can DC, the Council and the Lerners work this out? Also, will the all-business Lerners bleed us dry a la Dan Snyder, or are they owners that will do us proud?

Harper: The stadium process was a debacle from Day 1. The question is whether the end product will reflect that or not. The fans have a dream list of what they'd like to see in a stadium and we're crossing things off the list everyday. I think it'll work out for the Council and the Lerners, but the fans, not so much.

I think the Lerner's are cautious with their money, but have put enough faith in Kasten that if he tells them the money needs to be there - they'll put it up. Of course, I get the impression that Kasten is working under orders not to bother coming round looking for money unless we're talking about making the team a winner. It could be very rough if the minors don't start producing talent.


Curly W: Baseball food and beverage(s) of choice?

Harper: I like to start with a hot dog and microbrew, then I'll move on to the signature dish of the park, more microbrews, and something sweet. Churros are a good choice, or, of course, Dipping Dots.


Curly W: What, if any, official relationship should the team have with its bloggers? What can the Nationals do to distinguish themselves from other teams, and in the local community, in terms of alternate coverage and/or with citizen journalists? Would it be tougher for you to write snark and/or harshness if the team were to reach out to you in some capacity? Is Barry Svrluga the coolest beat writer in the biz, or too clever by half?

Harper: I don't know if they need to have any. We're sort of like some guy handing out fliers with his opinions before a ball game just with a larger audience and lower publishing costs. I think if they manage to be helpful to us when we're ooking for information, maybe toss out
some passes to larger events, and maybe, maybe, ok the occasional interview, that would be more than enough.

From past experience it wouldn't be tough to be snarky in a column, but it is very tough to be snarky, or even a little unprofessional in an interview. You want to attack or be funny or be witty, but you know these people are doing you a favor and they do work hard...then
you just ask the same rote questions you hear everyday. It's sad how wimpy we become in the face of minor social pressure.

Barry is teh coolest. (Man, like I said before - not funny)


Curly W BONUS QUESTION: I've seen at least one comic book reference on Oleanders and Morning Glories. What titles/characters are your faves and when did you read the most comics?

Harper: I could go on for a while about this. My favorite characters are the Flash and the Fantastic Four, but their respective books are at low points right now. The Flash is just a mess, seemingly without focus with Bart replacing Wally, and the Fantastic Four is suffering from
the drastic personality changes necessary to move Marvel's Civil War Event forward. The new mini-series Fantastic Four: The End is much better at capturing how the team should act. Captain America is up there as well and his book is going strong with Brubaker writing. Right now I'm reading X-Factor, The Walking Dead, Invincible, JLA, Teen Titans, X-Men. I'm on the fence with a couple Superman books and She-Hulk. Also some mini-series, DCs just interesting enough 52, the great Justice.

I read the most comics around 7-9th grade I believe. At one point collecting close to 20 Marvel titles a month. Pretty abruptly stopped after that and only really picked it up again after college.

=====

8th grade through 12th grade (1982-87), those were my comic book years. At the height, I was collecting almost 40 titles. All Superman, all Spider-Man, all X-Men, all Batman, the 'new' editions of Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern, the Question, Moon Knight, Spider-Woman, Marvel Team-Up, ROM Spaceknight, Conan the Barbarian, Thor, Daredevil, New Mutants, Swamp Thing plus all the classic miniseries, Watchmen, Wolverine, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Legends, Marvel Universe, Who's Who in the DC Universe. All sitting in my parents' basement.

Thanks to Harper for playing. Have a great weekend, and stay tuned for a major announcement next week from The Curly W...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

DFA: Signs of Life Edition

So, uh, this whole having an owner thing is pretty sweet. Things are actually getting done with plenty of time to spare in the offseason, meaning that we can all actually focus on the happenings on the field in February and March. I've been pretty quiet of late, so let me shatter that silence with my unsolicited opinion on the latest developments. I know you're just dying to know!

*Last week came the announcement from MASN that Tom Paciorek would not be retained as the color man on the channel's Nats broadcast. Some people were disappointed. Not me. I only got to watch a few Nats games last year while suffering under the yoke of Comcast's oppression, but I found Paciorek's bizzare antics irritating and distracting. I can only imagine what torture it must be to create color commentary for a horrible baseball team, but resorting to bad Cookie Monster and Ray Romano imitations is not the way to go.

MASN needs to project a more polished presence if it wants to be taken seriously as the dominant RSN in this market. Of course, this has been impossible due to the bumbling, stumbling and rumbling between MASN and MLB, Angelos, the DC Council, Congress and Comcast. I can only imagine that working for MASN must be like being on the set of the classic movie UHF. It's not good to replace your broadcast team twice in two years, but hopefully this year MASN can pick a team that sticks. Capitol Punishment has your early MASN color man replacement punditry.

*There is good news for those seeking broadcast team continuity: Nationals games will once again be broadcast on Washington Post Radio. Last year's duo of Charlie Slowes and Dave Jaegler will once again be behind the mike. I'm glad to see the broadcasts stay on a radio station that seems to have a good signal throughout the DC Metro area. Even though many more people will be able to watch the games on TV this year, good radio coverage is an essential component of developing a regional fanbase. Hopefully the Nats can someday get coverage on sister stations farther out in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. Heck, maybe the team can sign a broadcast deal with Voice of America to send liberating Nats broadcasts into Communist China, North Korea, and Baltimore.

*Ryan Zimmerman lost the NL Rookie of the Year voting to Florida's Hanley Ramirez by a measly four votes. I had a bad feeling all along that Zim might get edged out. First of all, there is no doubt that 2006 featured one of the strongest rookie classes in years. It kind of reminds me of that class of NFL rookie quarterbacks in 1998, just without the Ryan Leaf part.

We also can't discount the extent to which the Nats are still considered Untouchables in the MLB caste system. The national media at large still regards our Beloved Franchise as somewhat of a pathetic sports curiosity, kind of like the Arizona Cardinals or the NHL. Of course, it's hard to get attention when your team isn't very good and even harder when your team, under MLB stewardship, makes no effort to engage in publicity-generating activities of any kind. When 3/4 of the fanbase can't see the team, the sportswriters won't see them much either.

No matter. Award or no award, Zimmerman is a very good player and I'm glad he's on our side. What concerns me, though, is that Florida Marlins rookies represented 6 of the top 12 players in the voting. We can expect the Marlins to win another World Series in 2009, followed by the inevitable fire sale.

*Alfonso Soriano is gearing up to leave town in his shiny new contract. Bad news is, he's talking to the Phillies first. I really, really hope Soriano ends up outside the division. I don't want to see what kind of damage the Phillies would do with Utley, Howard, Burrell and Soriano.

*The D.C. Council sided with the Lerners, voting to build two above ground parking garages adjacent to the new stadium. Whatever. Just build them and move on.

That's all I've got for now. Stay tuned...rumor has it that Ben is working on 5 Questions with Harper...should be good stuff. If you're a Nats blogger and you want to join in on the 5 Questions fun, drop me a line at thecurlyw-AT-gmail dot com. Don't be shy, now.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

15 Questions With Nats Triple Play

It's time for another exciting edition of 5 Questions! This week we feature a tripartite exchange between the Curly W and Dave, Watson and Nate of Nats Triple Play. The guys were kind enough to each take a stab at answering my questions, so you can get the full, three-dimensional perspective of these bloggers. They asked (far superior) questions of me, and you can read my answers here.



Nats Triple Play (w/ Unindicted Co-conspirator #1)
celebrate another Tuesday

Now, without further ado, here are their answers, cubed:

Curly W: Manny Acta is going to be the next Nationals manager. What do you think about this?

Watson: I’m quietly optimistic about the Manny’s hiring. I like the idea of going with a younger manager. From all I’ve read he’s knowledgeable about the game
and get’s along great with his players. With all due respect to Frank, getting a player’s manager will be a big change for the club and hopefully it will pay dividends.

Nate: Are you asking me to comment on Manny's Acta Vision for the team? Too soon to tell. At least he doesn't seem to have any latent narcolepsy problems, or an irrational fear of Asian pitchers. Those are probably good points.

Dave: Who? I mean, really, who? Young guy I don’t know. Seems to me a change is better than what we had, and despite my admiration for Frank, it doesn’t seem like it would be that tough to win a few more. Young seems like a good plan to me. Old wasn’t getting wins.

Curly W: This is going to be the last season at RFK...do you think you'll be nostalgic at all or are you eager to get to the new park?

Nate: It'll be hard to get nostalgic when we're still parking at RFK and taking shuttle buses to the Navy Yard. But I will miss RFK, the dingy, dumpy, roomy beautiful mess that she was. And no venue in professional sports is more transportation accessible. Something tells me we'll miss that sooner rather than later.

Dave: I love RFK. It’s a breeze to get to, parking rocks, seats that are bigger than most pro sports venues, and fun, history and a general dinginess that can be a good thing. I’m going to miss it.

Watson: I’m really going to miss RFK. I love the sense of history, the bouncing stands, the cheap seats, and the parking. Especially the parking.

Curly W: If you were Jim Bowden/Manny Acta, what would you do about the Cristian Guzman/Jose Vidro/Felipe Lopez logjam?

Nate: Oh that's easy. Yard sale. Take 25 cents on the dollar for Vidro. Move FLopez to 2B. Cristian Guzman is, of course, primed for a breakout year at SS, now that he can see and lift his arm. GUZMANIA! Catch the fever.

Watson: Put the players in the President’s costumes and have them race for it. Winner get’s his choice of positions. Runner up gets what’s left. Loser gets traded to the Reds.

Dave: Haven’t we been here before? Didn’t we have too many 2B guys last year? I say, move Guz to LF, tell him he’ll love the position, and threaten to put him on the disqualified list if he won’t do it. I bet you can make this a yearly thing – make this the Nats way to build a power hitter. Guzmania through extortion.

Curly W: It's only been a few months, but what's your take on the Lerner regime so far?

Dave: For overlords, they have done alright. Power washing the stadium to get rid of the smell was a huge win, the food is better, and they’re trying. They’re business people – they play hardball over deals that are made (which I think is very fair), and they aren’t looking to waste money. This thinking makes me unpopular, I’m sure, but then again, I spend my time crushing the little man. They could wield their swords with a little more might.

Watson: So far they’ve done okay. I like the public relations moves and the hiring of a new manager. The real litmus test will come when the stadium isn’t ready on time and attendance lags again next year.

Nate: As Dear Leaders go, Ted Lerner's miles ahead of Kim Jong Il. But I would like to see the Nats devote more money to a nuclear weapons program. Or maybe just some big league pitching. The brisket, however, is very nice.

Curly W: What's your favorite Nats moment of all time?

Nate: Opening Day 2005 at RFK. Vinny Castilla needs just a single to hit for the cycle in the first home baseball game in Washington in thirty years. Lance "F**kin" Cormier plunks him. 45,000 fans boo like Cormier just bit the head off a kitten. That's baseball. Good times, good times.

Watson: Opening day was awesome but I think my favorite moment was the game against the Angels when Frank and Mike Scioscia got into it. First you have the ejection of Brandon Donnelly for pine tar, then the confrontation between Scioscia and Frank and topping it all off, Guillen jacking a homer off his former team. That was a great game.

Dave: For me, there are so many good ones. I can’t pick just one. Nate and I catching Wilkerson’s grand slam on a whim to go to the game is one. Opening Day 2005 will always be on the list. The last day of the first season. Frank’s last game. A weekend of baseball in May against the Orioles. All winners. It doesn’t hurt to have two good friends to spend a lot of summer nights with, having a beer and watching some baseball. Frankly, our blog has the records of just about all my favorites.

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Thanks to the Nats Triple Play triumvirate for another awesome exchange! Stop by again as we continue our offseason voyage around the Natosphere!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Are You There, God? It's Me, Manny.

Hey all! Long time, no post. That's what happens when real life is busy and the Nationals' news wire churns out nothing but crickets.

Couple things:

-It looks like Manny Acta will be the next Nats manager. Now that we've dried our tears of joy, let's have a closer look at what this means. On the plus side, this hiring should satisfy many in the Natosphere and the Greater Punditocracy. There seemed to be consensus that the new manager should be a younger, fresh face to lead a young, fresh-faced team forward. At 37 years old, Acta's got youth on his side, yet he's got good experience, serving as Frank's third base coach for three seasons in Montreal before moving to the Mets.

The downer, if you can call it one, is that Acta seems to have merely defaulted into the job. He has always been considered the top candidate for the job, yet Kasten and Bowden kept pursuing interviews with one lackluster, no-name outsider after the next. What was the hold-up? Did Acta want too much money? Too many years? Who knows, but if I'm Manny Acta, I can't be too confident in the faith that my new bosses have in my managerial skills thus far.

It's as if BoKasten was looking for a prom date. All the hot girls in school had already been asked out so they moved on to the next-best tier of hotness. Acta was pretty cute, but there were questions around his willingness to, uh, fully participate in post-prom activities. So they kept looking around school for a better alternative, but the other girls they talked to would rather stay home than go to the prom with BoKasten. With the prom looming on the calendar, BoKasten went back to the one girl that was still willing to go out with them. Manny Acta is that prom date.

Nonetheless, it's going to be fascinating to watch Acta shape the team around his style. How will he resolve the Guzman Conundrum? Can he handle the Wrath of Guillen? Will his defensive strategy be conventional or unique? Who will bat leadoff? I'm glad that we have Manny Acta on our side. Let's hope he thrives here in D.C..

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-The team signed 21 minor league free agents last week. Wow. It's going to be a full clubhouse in Viera, that's for sure. Ideally we'd like the team to not have to use the ol' Minor-League Grab Bag tactic in future seasons, but for now this is the best way to get some surprising young talent on the cheap. Kudos to BoKasten for making this move. Even if one or two of these guys makes the big league roster, it will have been worth it.

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-I'm freakin' pumped. For the first time, I am now a Nationals season ticket holder. I'm not at the Screech's Best Friend level, mind you, but I have purchased a 2-seat, 20 game plan in the nosebleeds behind home plate for $360. Yeah, I know it's cheap, but it's the most I could convince my wife to let me spend on tickets. I wanted to force myself to go to more games and also have a foot in the door to get tickets at the new park next year.

I'd encourage you all to do the same. The Nationals, bless their hearts, have kept the same or lowered prices on nearly all seats for 2007. The only prices that have been raised are for the most expensive seats. See, the Democrats aren't the only ones who want to give us middle-class members a break! You can see 2007 ticket prices here. It's Acta's first season as manager, and the Nats last season in RFK...there are sure to be tons of memorable moments, no matter how the team finishes.

Oh, and stay tuned...we've got more 5 Questions action coming your way this week.