Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bench 'Em All

I am actively losing interest in the Washington Nationals. It's only May 1.

My disinterest comes partly from a record streak of busy-ness in life but also from the fact that the team is in such shambles right now. As SBF points out, the sad state of affairs exists precisely because there is no bench whatsoever right now.

I really don't understand this. On past Bowden teams in Cincy and here in DC, it seemed like we had nothing BUT bench players. Bowden excelled at signing mediocre washups, the kind of guys who might DH for a bad AL team, to come off the bench and deliver a hit now and then. You remember them fondly: the Marlons, Damian Jackson, Daryle Ward, the Hamburglar Carlos Baerga, etc. None of these guys were standout players, but you knew that if they came to the plate there was at least a 25% chance that they could deliver a hit.

This year's crop of scrubs is downright horrible. The Nats, as a team, are batting below .200 with runners in scoring position. I'm pretty sure that our pinch hitters have managed to squeak three hits all season long. This is absolutely devastating in a season where the team has been in close games quite a bit. Robert Fick has to go. I am getting tired of watching Fick screw the pooch each and every time he comes to the plate. Is it really so hard to at least make contact with pitches? It's one thing if he's lining out to deep right field but the guy is striking out so much that PEPCO could plug him into the power grid to supplement their wind energy portfolio.

Really, it's an absolute shame when I watch the Nats play a team like the Mets. Every player the Mets bring out can hurt you. Even "Inning-Endy" Chavez, the former Nat, was able to school our sad sack team at the plate and in the field over the weekend. When you compare their players to ours it becomes comical. Their backup first baseman is Julio Franco. Ours is Robert Fick. Their closer is Billy Wagner. Ours is Chad Cordero. Really, who do we have on the team that should give any opposing manager second thoughts about pitching to him? No one.

I understand that the payroll is low this year by design, but really, could we not have ponied up for even a slightly better bench? These kinds of guys are usually the cheapest players in baseball yet we don't even have them. I still love the Nats, and I will keep watching all season long no matter what, but forgive me I fall asleep in the 6th or flip over to Battlestar Galactica in the 7th. Life is short, you know?

I'll be in Chicago, in the Wrigley Field bleachers, for this Saturday's game against the Cubs. It will be fun to watch yet another team stocked with real players beat the stuffing out of the Little Engine that Can't Because Its Management Sold it Out for the Season.