Monday, March 31, 2008

Nats Win! 2-0!

- Talk about busting out of a 6-6 tie!

- Austin Kearns, I had no use for you starting the year, but you are delivering the goods, and deserve a break and "damn good job"!

- Chico high step'in. Let's stick with our young hombre!

- I'm stick'n with Nick and Da Meat Hook! There's room and ABs for both these gentlemen.

- Who ain't comfortable with Guzie and Belliard up the middle?! Like slip'n into a pair of comfortable shoes!

- Ray King AIN'T MAK'IN IT! We need another lefty coming out of the pen!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Opening Night Observations: NATS WIN!

- Zim with the game winning HR! And many more to come as his career grows.

- Nick came thru with the first rbi...&...hats off to Austin Kearns! Nice rbi and great defense off the wall to nail McCann at second base. I'll give it to you Mr. Kearns, but .260, 16 hrs, and 50 rbis ain't cut'in this year!

- Perez! Can you say Loaiza?!?! Good stuff, got ahead and showed a little heat.

- Guzie looks lean and mean. Took it to right with a broken bat for the first hit in the new ballpark.

- President Bush was booed severely when he went out to the mound, and briefly, he looked a little shook. The ESPN people dubbed out the crowd quickly, but the original boos were VERY NOTICEABLE!

- In a major surprise, Rauch gets the nod for the first save opportunity of the year. Thank God for the 14 foot fence in Right Center! Chief is a little stiff with diminished velocity this spring...so sez Peter Gammons...so now we got some scoop!

-PASSED BALL.......

Saturday, March 29, 2008

First game at Nat's Park Observations

- Nice start: Nick knocks in the first run...Austin Kearns with a strong hit...I'm still not a fan, but i'll give it to you when you deserve it!

- Is it the navy blue and white stripe or do our guys look lean and in shape?!
Zim, Nick, Guzie and even Da Meat Hook look ready to go!

- Elijah Dukes is a SPECIMEN! Don Sutton said he reminded him of a young Dick Allen. That is a God's Gift to Athletics!

- Manny has many options and many ball players to do the job this year. Much better than last year. Just stay healthy guys!

- You steal on the Pitcher...Bergmann not LoDuca for three steals early.

- Garret Mock has great stuff, very good rhythm and a "filthy" duece, 12 to 6.

- Don Sutton great insight: He rolled baseballs down the lines...bunts roll in, down the right field line and foul, down the third base line. ;) That's a dedicated broadcaster!

- Felipe stuck a great play in the hole.

Beyond The BallPark's Hype: How's it Hit for HRs?

The Nats Home may be more friendly to Lefty hitters than right. Sorry Zim, Wily Mo. And with little power from the left except for Nick / Dmitri (and that ain't say'in much for Nick and just a little for Da Meat Hook), it looks like we are in a power outage. The SI article below talks about the large parking lots causing a wind tunnel that might keep balls in the park for rightys shooting for the left field fence. Trader Jim sez no band box. Well, we are going to need to out slug somebody with our starting rotation!

My bet is that the rightfield corner and bullpen homerun spot might get a nice workout this season. I just don't think we have enough Left-handed power to pull the ball down the lines to get the HR balls down there. let's hope the gofer balls aren't provided by Nats starters?!?!

SI article:

The initial speculation is that the new stadium, located along the Anacostia River about a mile south of the Capitol, will slightly favor pitchers. The dimensions aren't much more intimate than those at roomy RFK.

Nationals Park is 335 feet down the right field line, 370 in right-center, 402 in center, 377 in left-center and 336 down the left-field line. RFK's posted dimensions were 335-380-410-380-335, although players doubted whether the measurements to the power alleys were accurate.

In the only game played at the new ballpark so far - a college game between George Washington and St. Joseph's last weekend - aluminum bats failed to produce a home run. If Friday night's practice is any indication, the two unsightly parking garages beyond left field could produce a wind tunnel effect that right-handed hitters won't love.

"It's not going to be a bandbox,'' general manager Jim Bowden said. "It's not going to be a hitter's park like Philadelphia or Cincinnati. It's not going to be a pitcher's park like RFK. I think it's going to be a balanced park that leans toward the pitchers. I don't think any of us are going to know for sure until we actually play ball there.''

Friday, March 28, 2008

Young arms: sooner rather than later!

Barry Sv tells the tale with young arms on the cusp of making the Nats Rotation a formidable foe in the NL. Just looking at Lannan's line score below indicates that Mock, Balestar, Smoker, Clippard, Detwiler,..etc aren't that far behind. Pitching wins pennants. With Chico & Bergmann hopefully established, our rotation has the promise of great days ahead....and that just might be May!

Barry Sv writes:

Lannan's line: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.

Now, granted, that's against only two Orioles' regulars. But Lannan's spring ERA dropped to 2.18, by far the best among the candidates for the rotation. Matt Chico's ERA, by contrast, is 4.57. Lannan had seven walks and 16 strikeouts. Chico had nine walks and 10 strikeouts.

Remember what Acta said the other day, that Lannan would be up soon? That might be true even if Shawn Hill comes back healthy on April 13. Lannan might force them to do something if he pitches this way at Columbus.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Nats-Braves observations

The one good thing I noticed after the Braves shalacked us yesterday was the play of Paul LoDuca. He is going to be fine behind the plate. He was moving laterally, blocking balls and making the routine plays while showing no signs of any injury holding him back. He ran well, and seems to have things in gear to start the year. I consider this a HUGE load of the shoulders of the team. Putting Flores in as the everyday catcher would not have been horrible, but it would have been a hard go for him. Then again, the cream always rises. I have very high hopes for Flores who looks like he has gotten bigger to start 2008. But for now, Paul LoDuca is "our man behind the playe." Right Casey?~

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Banged Up & Ready to Go!

Here's my lineup:

Dukes
Guzie
Milledge
Zimm
Johnson
Belliard
Kearns
LoDuca
THE PITCHER

With Lopez and D man poised to come off the bench, Manny has a lot of switch hitting opportunities to change the lineup. My hope is that Dukes lights things up and Kearns hits his weight so Wily Mo steps in to play RF when he is healthy. My firm belief is that in the 3rd spot Milledge will emerge as a star with Zim having his best season yet in the 4 hole because of the the protection provided by Nick. Ronnie Belliard in the 6th position will be an RBI dream for him and a huge protection for the sluggers. Milledge, Zim and Nick will NOT be Maris, Mantle and Aaron. They all will be hanging around second and third a lot. Look for Ronnie to put up the numbers from his spot. For 7, 8 & 9....Let's say I can't wait for Wily Mo to get healthy and Lo Duc to be in complete playing health.

The season will rely on our starters getting us into the 5th inning. I think it will require early calls to the minors to achieve that one!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Rotation?

Perez, Chico, Redding & Bergmann. Did anybody think this would be the four musketeers starting the season for our beloved Nats?! While there are outs in this rotation, the real question is can our guys get us to the fifth inning. The Bullpen is the measure of our season. I still believe Hanrahan should get a shot at starting with his excellent spring. Does anybody really think that Hill will contribute strongly this year? I don't

By this time next spring, I'm looking for the emergence of Mock, Lannan, Detweiler, Balester and Clippard to fill the bill of our starting rotation.

The 2008 Rotation is more duct tape than rubber armas this year.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Of Catchers and Shortstops...

Flores is coming North. It's a strong move that he starts in Washington as LoDuc's backup, but I'm not sure about Estrada's elbow. Nieves could be the backup of the future...behind Flores! I believe that the Nats should keep Flores with the big club, but the big guys want him to learn in Harrisburg. Here's to novacaine and Estrada!

Lopez is on the block! No doubt. The number to call is .383, Belliard's batting average this Spring. Felipe is hitting .231. That sez it all. Unfortunately, if he wants to play everyday, it ain't happening in DC. He needs to go somewhere else. My hope is that he sticks around. The injuries are never tooooooo far away from the NATS!

Hats off to Ronnie Belliard for being the great pro that he is, and winning his job.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Teddy in the Mud! Bet the House on it.

EVERY PRESIDENT HAS HIS DAY! Teddy will win! He is probably a mudder. Look for the 26th President to wait until there is a major rain storm to break from the field, and triumph in a pouring rainstorm. Much like the breeding lines that produced the "Gulch" thoroughbreds (Gulch, Thunder Gulch), Teddy will win in A Driving Rain and A Sloppy Mud Track!

Kearns thinks he's fat. When you hit .280 & 100 rbis Kearns, remind me to listen!

Ian Koski writes:

He has tripped and fallen more times than we can count. He has wandered aimlessly and mingled with fans along the right field wall. He has pursued food into the stands. He has proposed marriage to a Nat Pack girl. He has gotten stuck in the bathroom. He has even been taunted and roughed up by his opponents.

One way or another, Teddy has lost each and every one of the 107 live-action Presidents' Races since their debut at the "grand re-opening" at RFK Stadium in July 2006.

"It tends to not make him look very good," Nationals closer Chad Cordero recently lamented.

It didn't take long for fans to notice that Teddy hadn't yet won a race and to begin chanting "Let Teddy Win... Let Teddy Win."

"We root for Teddy precisely because he’s never won," says Scott Abelman of Northern Virginia. "He’s like our beloved Nationals these first few years – young and full of promise, always the underdog, teasing us with flashes of brilliance, yet falling short by the end of each season."

Abelman registered "Let Teddy Win" as a trademark and launched "letteddywin.com," where he now blogs and sells an array of apparel and paraphernalia meant to exude that of a political campaign. "My hope is that the shirts and the blog will help cement this tradition and engage more young kids as lifelong Nationals fans," he said.

At times desperate, Teddy has been known to resort to trickery that resulted in disqualification. Like the time in 2007 when he zip-lined down from the lighting grid, and the time he maneuvered a golf cart around his opponents. He once emerged from the visitors' dugout on the 1st baseline and tried to sneak ahead of the pack.

"He's got the talent and he's got the athleticism," Nationals' Mascot Coordinator Steve Roche said last month. "He's just kind of getting caught up in the hoopla of the race. Whether it's the fans or something on the field, whether there's an attractive lady, or whether it's the fact that he can zipline in or drive a motorbike. He kind of gets caught up in the hoopla of the race."

More than once a Teddy victory seemed certain.

With the Nationals widely expected to perform miserably in 2007, it was reasonable to predict Teddy might win the home opener - a metaphor for the victorious underdog and something positive to smile about on Opening Day. Teddy lost.

After each of the other Racing Presidents won the race on the day his bobblehead was given out to fans, Sept. 1, 2007 appeared to be Teddy's day. Carried on a throne and escorted by "Secret Service" agents who kept the others at bay, fans cheered wildly expecting a win. But when Teddy fell off the throne and his aides attempted to help him up, the others made a dash for the finish line. Teddy lost.

Teddy was again widely expected to win during the Nationals' final game at RFK Stadium. With George, Tom and Abe detained in the bullpen, Teddy appeared poised to win... until the video screen revealed Teddy was at the new ballpark. Teddy lost.

"I really thought they were going to let him win the last game of the season," Nationals Manager Manny Acta said. "Then start him again at the new stadium and let him go 0-for-life."

"Teddy needs to go on a diet before he wins," Nationals rightfielder Austin Kearns said. "He's too fat."

With the first game at Nationals Park just days away, the question returns to the forefront: Will Teddy ever win?

"If Teddy does win and when he does win, I think it'll be a monumental day for Nationals history and the Presidents' Race," Roche said.

From a purely marketing perspective, as each logical opportunity for victory passes, it seems to become harder and harder to envision a circumstance in which Teddy wins. If the last game at RFK Stadium wasn't a perfect-enough moment, what's it going to take? Do it on opening day at Nationals Park and it gets drowned out by the stadium fanfare. Do it on a weeknight and fewer youngsters will be able to see it. There's a lot to consider.

"It could be a big day, it could be a big giveaway day, it could be a historical day, or it could be a run-of-the-mill Wednesday," Roche said. "He could win at any point - we're just hoping it'll be sometime soon."

First baseman Nick Johnson sees things entirely differently. "I hope he doesn't [win]," Johnson deadpanned earlier this month. "Keep the fans getting p***off. It's a good time."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

It's Nut Cutting Time

As Vince Papale once said to me, it's that time.

First Positive: "PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Catcher Paul Lo Duca played his first exhibition game for the Nationals on Friday and went 1-for-3 in an 8-2 loss to the Mets, the team he played for the last two years. He also threw out shortstop Jose Reyes trying to steal third base." - Sheinin

First negative: Estarda not to start season healthy. Wily Mo also MIA. Pencil in Nieves? for Estarda? Flores is better. But the consensus is Harrisburg for the rising star Flores....But honestly, how old is Nieves?

Pitching Rotation: Serious NUT CUT: Patterson gone...DUE MORE MONEY JIMBO!

I see us getting outs like this from the starters: (Best Spring ERAs)

Bergmann 2.45
Redding 2.85
Chico 3.50
Perez 5.23
Hill....in a week or so Healthy!
Hanrahan 7 games, 10.2 inn., 0 runs, 2 hits, 13 strikeouts,
0.00 ERA THIS SPRING! Nobody is talking about him, but
I think he's a 5th starter right now


The Future!:

Smoker
Detwiler
Balester
Mock
Lannan
Clippard & more.....!

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Good Guy: A Good Move: Bad Form

John Patterson is a good guy. He deserved better. He's arm didn't give him a chance. Patterson is damaged goods. He may never reach that position he was in a few years ago when we all thought he was going to be our ace to anchor our staff with for years to come. His velocity slipped, and he probably wasn't going to reach back for it anytime soon. And looking at our young pitchers, we have to get ready to get them in the bullpen and on to the mound starting soon enough. I'm PISST to see that he will not be paid his full salary. He deserves it. There is a big difference between 212K and 850K. while he was paid for injury seasons last year and the year before, perhaps it is not that unfair, but I NEVER take management's side in a salary dispute. FU Bud Seilg! You're a car salesman who can't throw a ball!

As baseball goes, Patterson will probably get a chance to pitch again. He can still pitch, but The Nats future is moving more swiftly than his fastball is these days.

Reading what Manny had to say, as Dave Sheinin writes it well:

"There was no guarantee [John's stuff] was going to come back" during the season, Manager Manny Acta said, "and meanwhile one of our younger guys was not going to get those starts. And we don't feel right now that, every five days, John was going to give us the best chance to win a ballgame."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Heck No Felipe? May not be your choice

Try these numbers .459 & .356. That's Belliard's and Guzie's averages this spring. Believe me, I like Felipe, but he knew the score. He had to win the job. He hasn't. He's hitting .205 and he's making millions more than Belliard. F. Lopez is in his last year of an arbitration contract. Something tells me that he's starting the season next to Manny no matter what he says...and I couldn't agree more.

Read all about it:

"Lopez's spring training numbers (.205 average, one homer, two RBI) indeed pale in comparison to those of his fellow middle infielders. After hitting a two-run homer yesterday in the Nationals' 9-1 exhibition win over the Detroit Tigers, Belliard is batting .459 with three homers and seven RBI.

Shortstop Cristian Guzman, who also entered camp hoping to beat out Lopez, is hitting .356 with two homers and 10 RBI.

Acta won't make any firm decisions for another week, but he spoke highly of Belliard after yesterday's game.

"We feel very comfortable with him at the plate," the manager said. "He's been around, and he does have quality at-bats. He knows what he's doing at the plate. We're very happy to have him."

But in what role? Belliard, who turns 33 next month and is due to earn $1.6 million this season, has expressed a willingness to come off the bench before, and he reiterated his stance yesterday.

"I'm not going to get upset," he said. "Whatever they decide, it's good to me."

Lopez, 27, is making $4.9 million in his final year of arbitration following a disappointing season in which he hit .245 with nine homers and 50 RBI. Club officials have commended him for his positive attitude and work ethic this spring, but they have been careful not to reveal his eventual role with the team.

"Whatever happens, I would like to stay here," Lopez said. "But I'm not going to be happy on the bench. [Heck] no."

Asked whether he would seek a trade if he's not a regular, Lopez replied, "I'm not saying that. I'm just saying I don't know what's going to happen. But I'm not going to be happy on the bench."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Power Outage?

Wily Mo is DL bound for a month, and as it looks, from the health stand point, Dmitri is stuck on the bench behind Nick. The Nats are going to be looking for LONG BALLS!

Zim will hit his share of dingers, but question marks remain in terms of whether Milledge, Dukes or anybody else can contribute. I think that is enough said on whether ANYONE else will contribute. It's gonna be a tough way to start the season especially without Wily Mo's wheel house swing. Barry Sv writes that Wily Mo is down in the dumps:

"It's not good," Pena said. "I have to work hard to come back. They say I'll be out a month. I want to come back before that. I'm going to be thinking about being on the disabled list the whole day. I called my family and they were sad, too. This was my first opportunity to play every day. Now, I have to wait and see what's going to happen."

Here's hoping Kearns hits his weight!

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Check on our Heroes!: Hill & Patterson

I harken back to Hill saying he hasn't pitched without pain in 5 or 6 years (maybe he said even longer?) These next quotes made me feel a whole lot better. Barry Sv gets the quotes:

"The Nationals were pleased with Shawn Hill's bullpen session Saturday, but they wanted to wait till Sunday to assess how he felt before planning the next step in his comeback from forearm soreness. The report: Excellent.

"To be perfectly honest, I feel better today than I thought I would," Hill said at the Nationals' complex in Viera. "I had some tightness in there, but no pain. I wasn't 100 percent, but it was completely something I could pitch with."

ONE CAN ONLY HOPE.....

As for Patterson, the poor guy had the flu. He pitched well early and then he had no energy. Sure he got shelled. As long as it was the flu and not his arm, we still have a pitcher going north with a chance.

Hill & Patterson strongly contributing in 2008: ODDS: 5 to 1

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lastings Milledge: A FANTASTIC SPRING!!

Milledge: G 10, AB 32, R 8, H 13,DB 5,T 1, HR 0,RBI 7,BB 3,SO 4,SB 5
BATTING AVERAGE: .406 That's a Phenom Spring. This kid is going to start the year well, and has a chance to start it HOT! My prayer is that he finds the home here in D.C. that makes it a LASTINGs career and a star in the making! 2008 Spring is a great start for the Kid! Keep it up Lastings! We are all pulling for you!

Here's some more fun!

Guzie: .393
Belliard: .478
Zim: .353
Nick: .294
Dukes: .280

Here's problems:

Lopez: .125
Kearns .227
Chico: 6.23 era

Monday, March 10, 2008

Moeller cut: A Catcher Healthy?

Lo Duca, Estrada, Flores and it must be Nieves. Moeller is gone now which means one of two things. He can't hit AT ALL! or he is the victim of the healthy numbers game. Let's hope so! Nieves is a serviceable catcher defensively, but this move with Moeller could mean that either Lo Duc or Johnnie E. are going to be healthy enough to go. Let's keep an eye on the back stopper. Flores may go to Harrisburg after all...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Zim: The Nats' 65k Gamble....

For 65K, The Nats are taking a huge gamble. The "leftfield gap pasture" and that "quick hook left field foul post" called Nationals Park just might allow Zim to hit 40 plus HRs this year, double galore into that huge gap in left center and turn his average into an RBI machine in the middle of the lineup. You tell me, is it worth paying our man 10 million + a year next year for 10 years or 8 million a year this year for the next 10 years? The dice are in Zim's hands. He rolls "7s" and Zim breaks out! Perhaps the Nats are figuring on saving the penny now instead of spending the dollar now. Maybe Zim gets hurt?? After looking at the dimensions of Nat's Park, Zim will benefit from the gaps, and that may put the gap in the Lerner's wallet.

In my opinion, the 65K raise is like putting paint on a whorehouse...called MLB Ownership. Just buy the guy a new Cadillac, give him an extra million in real estate or advertising work for MILK, and show your 3rd baseman for the NEXT 10 YEARS! some respect. You can't teach class, and MLB and most professional sports owners prove it everyday

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Scrap Hill

No doubt we got Odalis for a reason. Let's hope that Patterson doesn't come up lame too. Here's hoping that the "Injury Bogeyman" isn't hiding around the corner for anyone else! Dmitri worries me the most. Looks like Trader Jim is planning to slug with people this year in a lot of 8-7 games!

Redding and weeping.....

JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill played catch on Friday, but he had to stop after a few minutes because his right forearm was in serious pain. Hill has yet to play in an exhibition game because of the forearm injury.
General manager Jim Bowden said he doesn't consider this latest news a setback, because the radial nerve in Hill's forearm is normal and does not require surgery. Still, Hill will be shut down for the time being.

Bowden acknowledged by phone that the team will be getting opinions about what's wrong with Hill's arm and how he can pitch through the pain.

"We told Shawn that if he was in pain to just stop, and he stopped," Bowden said by phone.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Catcher Issue is Serious

Our two veterans are not going to be ready for the start of the season nor are they going to be durable enough during the year. Estrada's elbow will be an ongoing issue especially with runners (unlike the stats I provided a month(s) ago) and LoDuca will be working on the knee. Lo Duca looks to be the catcher with the best chance of survival as he worked out yesterday in pitcher's infield practice, but he hasn't squatted yet this spring. It's March 7th.

Personally, I think Flores is in an ordeal by fire position. He is simply going to have to stay with the big club and catch. Trader Jim and My Man Manny say that they don't want him to catch 3 days a week, but that is about what it looks like. I like Nieves because I've seen him catch with the Yankees a little. He's strickly defense, but he's too young to hold the fort. Moeller can catch but he can't hit. I'm clueless on Humberto. And who is the other guy?

It won't take long for one of our go to guys, Lo Duca or Estrada, to get comfortable behind the plate this spring, but I'm concerned they won't be comfortable there in June! It would be nice to have a guy like Charlie Johnson around right now.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hill: This quote says it all

He may never be comfortable as a pitcher, and that means he may never have a long career or be an anchor for our staff. These are his words, and they are prophetic.

Hill: "I've had discomfort in my elbow for six or seven years," Hill said. "So I've got no problem throwing through discomfort or pain."

Mark my...and his words.

Hill better than expected. Prayers Work!

What a difference a day makes. Nats are talking about Hill being ready by Thursday next week to begin tossing again. Thank God! Much better news than we all thought. I still say that between Hill, Patterson and Bergmann, we have a potential disaster season around every turn of the laces! I like all these guys a lot, but i instinctively dislike pitchers and injured ones piss me off to no end. Injured pitchers are like waiting on girlfriends to finish shopping. Torture and it never turns out good in the end because injuries never heal!

We are allowing the whole season to rest on the possibility that the three of them could be lame by April 20th! If not March 20th!!!!! I'm just not ready to turn over the keys to the pitching starting staff to Redding, Perez, Chico, Bascik and Hanrahan at a moments notice. Here's to one of the new guys breaking out. I'm going to light my candles now and pray....


WP 3/5/08

VIERA, Fla., March 4 -- Washington Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill, prohibited from throwing since Friday because of soreness in his right forearm, has no structural or nerve damage and could resume throwing as soon as Thursday, club officials said after Hill returned from an examination by a specialist.

Though Manager Manny Acta initially said Tuesday morning that the injury "doesn't put him on schedule to be ready for Opening Day," Acta was more optimistic after speaking with Hill. General Manager Jim Bowden said the club expects Hill to be healthy for the first week of the season after the examination by David Ruch at Duke University Medical Center corroborated results of an MRI exam Hill had last week.

Asked if Hill would be ready, Bowden said: "That's our plan. That's his plan. Let's hope our plans work."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Bag Hill: Need a NEW Rotation

Barry Sv's Blog is the optimism and great reporting we've come to love, but Hill is damaged goods. He's a 2008 Maybe...Period! Realistically that puts Chico firmly into the rotation and Perez into the 5th spot if not higher. Unless one of the youngsters breaks through, I guess all that talk about Hanrahan from Bergmann wasn't B.S..Pencil in Redding all the way until he gives way. Livan looks very good right now. Here goes a rotation:

Patterson (Pray Hard!)
Bergmann (Keep Praying)
Chico
Perez (Mix'um any way you like)
Redding


Barry's Blog:
Manny Acta gave some thoughts on Shawn Hill's situation. He considers it "very encouraging" that Hill's tests showed no damage, but he's also realistic.

"I don't want to be too quick to pull the trigger, but this right now doesn't put him on schedule to be ready for Opening Day," Acta said.

However, don't be too alarmed. Acta is being very cautious publicly. I just checked again, and he spoke with Hill, and it sounds like Hill will only be shut down for a couple of days. This means he won' t have that much time lost -- and arm strength lost -- before he starts throwing again.

Keep in mind, too, how schedules break down at the beginning of the season. After opening on March 30, the Nationals have scheduled off days on March 31, April 8 and April 14. By my calculations, the club won't need a fifth starter -- if everyone's pitching on his regular four days' rest -- until April 13 at the earliest.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Hitting and Harris

The idea behind hitting is very basic. It's between your ears. The new athlete is so bamboozled by ESPN, hype and glitter that ego is king and talent is the only thing that gets 1 out of 18,000 into professional sports. Lenny Harris teaches to the head. If he gets it to go, then Lenny Harris is our guy for the future. His early numbers look good, and the cult of personality is contagious in the ritualistic and supersitious clubhouses of baseball....

I'm from the Charlie Lau School, if you watched George Brett hit and digested the 7 principles of hitting that Lau taught, there is no other way to go. Had a session with Lau in a batting cage 20 years ago in Ft. Lauderdale, and he informed me that I could be a good hitter. I was, but never MLB material by a long shot. The idea behind hitting is very basic.

To quote Trader Jim on Harris: "The mental part of hitting that he brought to the table, and his relationship with the players, his ability to motivate people, the ability to get in people's face when he needs to and give a pat on the behind when it's needed, that all helped," Bowden said. "He knows how to be real with guys. . . . We started to get better, and I certainly see a guy who can develop into one of the premier hitting coaches down the road."

The Old Chisox tried to teach everybody in there organization to do everything the same way....it went no where. Lenny will motivate the individual, and in baseball and sports that's where we are now!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Banged Up Boys STRIKE AGAIN!

They haven't even been there a good week. Hill is sore, Estrada is lame, and I think I'm at the track with tickets for Smarty Jones to win the Belmont!

Boswell said it best, "John Patterson and Shawn Hill both have long, bright red scars, still fresh, on their right forearms. Which wouldn't be a problem if they were southpaws." Granted it's early, but soreness should not be Hills initial problem after a good outing with an MRI due immediately! Glad we signed Perez for a song. The youngsters will need to perhaps step up, but I'd hate to see us rush anybody. Then again, it's March 2nd.

As for Johnny Estrada, three catchers are better than one for us! Here's praying somebody lasts the season behind the plate in Anacostia!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Boswell: "Ya gotta lotta Heart!"

Tom Boswell is loving Florida. No doubt about it. His article is in my mind dead on! Best quote is "But stay tuned the next four years around here should be all sorts of fun!" He's drinking Merlot baby, I drank the KOOL AID two years ago!

The foundation is in place and the opportunities are in place to win. With everything going right, the playoffs are now or definitely next year. That would take 1) No injuries, 2) everyone with normal career years and avoiding slumps, and 3) the emergence of Milledge, Dukes, 2 Arms and perhaps Marrero becoming Ryan Howard by mid season or Wily Mo hitting 40 by August and hitting .270. We can dream can't we!

The window of the next four years made my heart leap because Boswell knows the game. His prognosis on the Young arms also is right on. He's a little tough on Chico, because Chico will make the list and solidify the rotation...he ain't of the Jerome Williams demeanor.

Here's hoping the good Florida weather and orange juice keeps Boswell drinking Merlot...~Kool Aid Frank Robby signing out!

Nats' Sunny Outlook Not Just Seasonal

By Thomas BoswellSaturday, March 1, 2008;

VIERA, Fla. Washington finally has its first truly serious baseball franchise since the 1930s.
You have to be as old as Ted Lerner, the 82-year-old boss of the Nationals, to remember the last time Washington had a big league team that was a serious annual contender, a legitimate front-line franchise, a club that fought toe-to-toe with the very best. But that time is probably arriving again and perhaps fairly soon.
The Nationals are not, presumably, a playoff contender this season, and may not even have a winning record, although near-miracles such as the '07 Rockies actually do happen. What distinguishes the Nats, what lifts their spirits but also defines them within the sport, is their uniform belief that they are on the verge of joining the sport's elite teams.
At this point, because cynicism bordering on defeatism has surrounded Washington baseball for so many decades, it's useful to hear independent voices. Of course, the Nationals brim with brave talk. What team doesn't? But they're not delusional. More likely, they just see their future slightly ahead of schedule. They may be early in announcing themselves, but they're not wrong.
Long ago, the Sporting News was baseball's bible. Now, the game has old and new testaments. Baseball America epitomizes the eyeball view of scouts; Baseball Prospectus is home to uber-educated stat lovers. Both see the Nats coming fast. In one year Baseball America has upped the Nats' farm system from dead last to ninth, one of the biggest jumps ever. The Prospectus is more brazen: "The foundations are in place. The Nationals are going to be the best team in the NL East, not in 2008, not overnight and not by sneaking up on anyone. But stay tuned, because the next four years should be all sorts of fun."
It is against this inside-the-sport buzz that we should judge the February words of the best-known Nats. A year ago, they had to endure hearing themselves described as potentially the worst team in history. Instead, after May 9, they went 64-64, then, in September, did more head-to-head damage than any team to send the Mets to one of the worst collapses in history. So, they may have a bit too much spring confidence in their words. But they think they'll become worthy of their $611 million park.
"They've done a good job of turning the whole organization around in about two years. We got a lot better and a lot younger at the same time," Ryan Zimmerman said. In a new ballpark, "we have six or seven guys who may become 30-homer hitters. Nick Johnson, Austin Kearns and I think we can. You watch Lastings Milledge and his hands are unbelievable. Elijah Dukes is Lastings with more pop. Wily Mo Pe¿a may hit the ball further than anybody. We got two good-hitting catchers now. Felipe ¿pez hit (23) homers in Cincinnati. Right now, we might have as much potential as any team in the league."
"We've had an underdog attitude since Montreal. We're not going to lose it just because we got a nice park," reliever Chad Cordero said. "We want to be a winning team and get some respect. I don't think we have to wait. We can start doing it now."
That depends, of course, on one huge "if" -- starting pitching, especially the health of Shawn Hill and John Patterson. Last season, even helped by huge RFK Stadium, Washington's starting ERA was 5.11. In a normal park, things could get ugly. That is, unless Hill (3.42), Tim Redding (3.64), Jason Bergmann (4.45), Matt Chico (4.63), John Lannan (4.15) and Patterson (3.13 in '05) can stay healthy enough to start far more than their 98 games in '07.
"If we can go out there healthy for 25-30 starts [apiece] this year, then this team will give 'em all they want -- in our division, right now, not 'someday,' " said Patterson, grinning. "We're really improved. Everybody has that feeling."
Perhaps this isn't the breakout season, or even next year. What is different, almost incomprehensibly so for longtime fans, is that the Nats, as well as much of the rest of the sport, see their emergence as a 90-win team as a "when," not an "if." Nothing like that has been the case since the elder Lerner was 7 and the Senators went to the 1933 World Series.
Since then the phrase "Washington wins the pennant" has been something out of a Broadway hit -- "Damn Yankees" -- rather than an actual memory. Since the '30s, there's been nothing but misery and mediocrity, punctuated by a few lucky but fleeting seasons above .500. Oh, and one brief run at the flag during players-depleted World War II. Washington was baseball's perennial symbol of pity. When the orphaned Expos arrived, they seemed the proper heirs to the Senators "tradition" -- an afterthought, the place to find an occasional slugger, but never a first-class franchise.
"My dad saw Washington baseball when it was that good, but I never have -- in my whole life," said principal owner Mark Lerner. "My generation settled for memories of Frank Howard hitting home runs. We plan on changing that."
Nothing current Nats fans know has any bearing on appreciating or evaluating the progress of this franchise. An entirely new yardstick is needed. Team president Stan Kasten, General Manager Jim Bowden and Manager Manny Acta all operate on a mind-set that, luckily, is completely alien to Washington's decades of disappointment or abandonment. They don't just think that they could be building a powerhouse, they believe that nothing less is acceptable. To them, the National League looks there for the taking, like Oklahoma when Sooners lined up for a land rush.
For them, the game is about the prospects, the pipeline, the potential and the leap in payroll that a new ballpark can generate. For now, the phrase you hear most often here is "high ceiling" -- as in off-the-charts stats if everything broke correctly. The Nats want to find out who fits that mold. The brass knows they have one season, perhaps two, when the feel-good rush of a new park allows them to experiment and not lose their fan base if they go 73-89 again.
What if Pe¿a got 600 at-bats? Does that produce 40 homers, 200 strikeouts or both? How fast could Milledge develop if he got to play his favorite position -- center field -- every day at age 22? What if Dukes turned his life around and forced the Nats to find a place for the talent bursting from his linebacker physique? Until young hurlers Ross Detwiler, Collin Balester, Josh Smoker and Jack McGeary arrive, there's still time for a much-injured Patterson, or an underwhelming but gritty Chico, or a last-chance veteran such as Redding to prove his ceiling is high enough.
"I'm not very good at making predictions, but I am worse at believing them," Acta said. No Florida opinion matters after Opening Day. As a season unfolds, or unravels, "everything changes everything," as Earl Weaver said. Still, Acta knows which direction his team is heading. "We made a lot more progress in one year than I ever could have imagined," the manager said. "We are not trying to 'compete.' We are playing to win."
Finally, Washington baseball is in a place where victory is, increasingly, an expectation, not a hope. For this town, that's somewhere few of us have ever visited. And for those elders, like Ted Lerner, who have, it's barely a memory.