Monday, September 25, 2006

Perez, Schneider, Z and Managerial Decisions

The New York Mets put out nearly their Best Lineup tonight for the series finale against our Washington Nationals. Only Carlos Delgado not in the starting lineup. That lineup wasn't enough at Flushing Meadows as the Nats pulled out a nice 7-3 victory, winning 3 of 4--two in a row since losing Nick Johnson for the season this past saturday.

Nats youngster, Beltran Perez, got his second start. Perez didn't have his best stuff tonight, but showing saavy of a veteran, hung in for 6 plus innings, giving up just 2 runs on 4 hits and 6 walks. Despite giving up a Home Run launched by Shawn Green in the second, Beltran continues to show promise, getting his second win. Sometimes, rookie pitchers can get lucky in their first starts, no one has seen them, but after the scouts have seen you pitch, those pitchers need to adjust and start working the plate with their best stuff. Perez mixed up his pitches well tonight, despite being all over the plate at times. I see a confident young man growing up on the mound. Success brings confidence and Beltran's trusting his stuff. Its a very good sign.

Brian Schneider continued to ressurrect his 2006 season, collecting 4 hits in 5 at bats, raising his average to .254, .025 higher in the past month. Ryan Zimmerman continues to make his late season push to win the National League Rookie of the Year award, stroking a key bases loaded one out double. With Bernie Castro, Felipe Lopez and Alfonso Soriano, the 3 fastest runners on the team taking off, there was NO PLAY AT THE PLATE. Speed scoring easily, putting the Nats up 3-1.

But, you have to wonder seriously about the Nationals Base Running. All year long, base running has been atrocious at times. Tonight, it appeared that terrible baserunning was going to cost Washington early. Just who exactly is making these decisions? Frank Robinson, 3rd Base Coach Tony Beasley, or is it player error??

In the second inning, Jose Vidro leads off with a double to center off Tommy Glavine. Schneider followed with a grounder to right, Vidro unable to score, moving to 3rd base. Nook Logan then slaps a grounder to Jose Reyes at short, with the infield playing in to cut off the run at the plate. For whatever reason, Vidro takes off for home. Reyes easily tosses to LoDuca who tags out Jose in a mini rundown. THERE IS NO REASON FOR VIDRO TO RUN!! None. There are no outs. Schneider has moved to second on the force out at home. With Ryan Church up with 2 strikes, you just knew that Glavine would throw a slop pitch. Sure enough, here it came, Church swinging at the pitch in the dirt, but inexplicably, Brian takes off for 3rd, attempting to steal, with a lefthanded hitter at the plate. Even Logan behind Schnieder stays put. LoDuca easily throws out Schneider, David Wright making the tag. WHO IS MAKING THESE DECISIONS!! With 2 runners on, no outs, the Nats run into 2 unnecessary outs!! Church and Schneider combining on a Strike'm Out, Throw'm Out Double Play to kill the inning.

Then in the 3rd, Beltran Perez, who swings the bat as hard as anyone I have ever seen, slaps a slow grounder in the hole at short. David Wright makes a routine twirling stop and throw, but Perez, running hard all the way, beats the throw for his first Major League Hit. Bernie Castro followed with a hard slap up the middle, sure to get through, only Glavine deflects the ball, right to Reyes at short, who tosses to Jose Valentin at second to retire Beltran. Castro too fast to throw out at first. After Castro steals his 7th base, moving to second, FLop would walk, followed by Alfonso walking to load the bases. Still one out.

Zimmerman continued to be clutch, slapping an outside Glavine pitch deep into right center, the speed of Bernie, FLop and Soriano trotting around the bases easily. Z stops at second with his 46th double of the season, now at 104 RBI. 3-1 Nats. But, bad baserunning continued immediately. Jose Vidro would walk. First and Second and the hot hitting Schneider up. On a 1-2 count, Ryan amazingly takes off for 3rd base. Again with a Left Handed Hitter at the plate. LoDuca, easily throws out Zimmerman. You could tell from the MASN broadcast that FRANK ROBINSON had NOT called that one. Z just staring at Tony Beasley, dumbfounded, before trotting on to the dugout. Brian Schneider striking out to end the rally. Only 3 runs on the board, and the Nats possibly running out of 3 additional runs. Very BAD BASEBALL!! With 155 games already played in this season, you would think that Washington could learn how to run the bases properly.

Later, in the 6th, the Nationals would luck out on their baserunning, when Vidro once again leads off with a double down the left field line, Schneider lofts a looping single to right that Vidro does not run on, stopping again at third. 1st and 3rd--no outs. On a full count to Nook Logan, Schneider takes off for second, Logan DOES NOT SWING AT A BALL RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE PLATE!! LoDuca, snaps the ball to second, but it short hops Jose Valentin covering, bouncing into centerfield. Vidro trotting home for the Nats 3rd run. I can understand running in this situation, but what in the world is Logan thinking, not swinging, even to protect Schneider. Bad decison by Nook. Church would lace a grounder to first and Beltran Perez strikes out to kill, yet another larger scoring rally.

The 8th would be the deciding inning tonight, despite another strange decision by Washington. Facing Mets Reliever, Pedro Feliciano, Jose Vidro would stroke and beat out, of all things, an infield roller to 3rd. Melvin Dorta sent in to pinch run for Jose. Schneider then laced his 4th hit of the night, grounding sharply to right, Dorta moving to 3rd. 1st and 3rd, no outs. Nook Logan, hung in, down 0-2 in the count, to strike back with a hard enough grounder up the middle to score Dorta, moving Schneider to second. 5-2 Nationals. Time to GO FOR THE KILL!!

Ryan Church at the plate. Fastball hitting power hitter, against Fastball throwing lefthander. What do our Nats do?? With a 2-2 count on Church, they SACRIFICE BUNT!! Church laying down a bunt toward the third baseline. I couldn't believe it!! You have a chance to put the game away, are you are giving up an out, to play small ball. Makes NO SENSE TO ME!!

Robert Fick, pinch hitting for Billy Traber, would walk, loading the bases. Feliciano then replaced by the equally hard throwing Guillermo Mota. With the infield pulled in, Castro would slap a fastball into the hole in right, scoring Schneider and Logan, making the score 7-2. Yes, the Nats where able to score, but more due to poor pitching, walks and a little luck, not due to sharp managing. FLop would pop to left to take away the momentum. Soriano would strikeout to kill the rally on a pitch so far in the dirt, he needed a Golf Driver to reach it.

Ryan Wagner would struggle in the bottom of the 8th. Wright getting a infield single on a soft roller into the hole, in right, that Castro showed tremendous range to reach, yet could not make the throw in time to retire the hustling David. Cliff Floyd followed with a drive to left center, but Soriano hustled all the way, keeping Wright from scoring. 2nd and 3rd, 1 out. Shawn Green grounded to Castro at second, scoring Wright to close out tonight's scoring 7-3 as Wagner was able to get out of the jam without further damage.

The Chief, Chad Cordero, trotted on to retire the Mets in order for CURLY W number 69. If you told me in Mid-August that our Nats would possibly reach 70 wins, I would have laughed at you. But, you have to give Washington Credit, despite adversity, they continue to plug away and not give up. We are learning what some young players can, and can not do. Winning 3 of 4 from a Good Mets Team, resting some of their best players--is still not bad.

Although, I have to wonder about the base running and managerial situational decisions. Those decisions just make NO SENSE sometimes. NONE. I would love to sit down with Frank or Tony Beasley to ask them about tonight's manuvers. ANY TAKERS??

1 comment:

SenatorNat said...

Nats should keep the high navy blue socks look on the road - too bad they reverted to the ultra-long trousers last night. Phillies had better beware - Nats have come together over their captain's broken leg - Kearns now part of the nucleus going into 2007 and Soriano among first to visit Nick in hospital.

Clemens was smart, too, to participate symbolically, since the Astros could use us beating the Phillies three in a row to act as a hedge fund if St. Louis starts winning down the stretch.

Nats have suffered, admittedly, over the past two seasons from the worst third-base coaching imaginable. Plus, when did it become standard to steal third, as though it were stealing second? It isn't for good reason.

Between Logan bunting and Castro running up to chop hits, it has been very entertaining these past few weeks, and they have contributed to run production, certainly. Z-man now seems like an elder, and great that Schneider is going to finish remarkably strong.

But, looking forward to next year, I believe that Church (learning in Mexico this winter how to cope with slow junk heading into the dirt!) and yes, the injury-addicted one, Alex Escobar, are still vital to the cause.

If Bow-Bow once again fixates on speedster like Logan in center, leading off, to the exclusion of reality, we are back to square one. Have to say that in hindsight, that Endy Chavez was not a bad fixation leading off 2005 -but, Bow-Bow has tendency to pull that trade trigger too quickly.

Maybe Kasten can temper some of the rash part of Bow-Bow's decision-making during the off-season: start by signing Alf; re-sign quite a few of the young pitchers, if required, and many of the current back-ups, including Fick and Harper.

Then, deal Vidro for a true starter, if it can be done; otherwise, keep him if he can play first, too, and sign best free agent pitcher available.

The bullpen should be the best in the National League altogether, and the starting pitching just has to be better - how could it be worse with even two-three actual major leaguers in the rotation?

This team is not that far away from platforming at .500, and with a bit of luck, like Beltran Perez being real, even better.

The manager and coaches will be new, too, which can inject a bit of energy and consistency to the mix. (My hunch is that Lou Pinella is hunkering for the job, and that he is under active consideration, based on his comments as color on Saturday in Mets-Nats game.)

Management is settling in, the stadium is on track to be ready for opener in 2008, next year will be a sentimental one as we finally say goodbye to RFK, and the everyday line-up is decent and has played together now.

Nats are part of fabric of the city already - good two years, thus far, despite finishing last. Future looks good, overall.

"Who dat gonna beat the Nats?" {With apologies to New Orleans...)