Monday, September 11, 2006

What I Want To See Over The Next 3 Weeks


Its time to salvage something from the poor 2006 Washington Nationals Season. There are a few good things to look forward to, and the opportunity for Washington to actually determine whether some young players, that seem to never get a proper chance, can actually have a future in DC.

Ryan Zimmerman is HANDS DOWN the best Rookie Player for this year. Others can say all they want about Josh Johnson and Dan Uggla in Florida (both have been solid), and Prince Fielder in Milwaukee (decent but not great)--Z has been fabulous!! Ryan, over the next few years, may well develop into the Finest 3rd Baseman in the game. Countless times, I have seen Z make one spectacular play after another. At the plate, he been very consistent. On course to hit approximately 20 homers, knock in over 100 runs and hit about .285. The pressure to succeed for this 21 year old was enormous. Ryan plays like a veteran. Still has some kinks in his game to work out, especially hard smashes hit Directly at him. Swings at too many outside waste pitches, but never has gone more than a few games in a row, hitless. Clutch many times when the Nats have been down to their last at bats. Game Winning or Tying hits against the Mets, Yankees, Marlins, to name a few. Cornerstone player. LOVE TO WATCH HIM PLAY!! The African Queen and I had the opporutnity to meet him, earlier in the season. Was humble and gracious to no end. HANDS DOWN--ROOKIE OF THE YEAR. Always worth seeing play at RFK Stadium--even when your team is destined for last place--again.

Can't say enough good things about him.

Alfonso Soriano--How can one player go from being the absolute most HATED player before ever stepping on the field for the Nationals--to BELOVED and CHERISHED 6 months later. Its been a stunning turnaround for this great athlete. You don't hear many folks, including me bitching about Brad Wilkerson being around anymore.

On course to go where no MLB player has gone before. 50 Homers, 40 Steals and 20 outfield assists. At RFK Stadium, you must watch him in every single at bat--because you never know what he will do. Capable of knocking out 3 homers in one game, and whiffing all 4 at bats the next time. Can change a game all alone, with a walk and his speed on the bases. Scintillating to watch. Scary outfielder though, that, to his credit, has improved tremendously as the season progressed. Can actually be agressive in chasing balls, if he's in the mood. Sometimes seems asleep at the wheel in left. Alfonso Soriano, along with Ryan Zimmerman have made 2006 special just for their play alone.

Alfonso has become the ring leader for all the noise that Section 320 makes. And, is by far, The African Queens favorite player. We strongly want Alfonso to return for 2007. We can win with number 12 Now and Later.

Nick Johnson has been healthy virtually all season long. Although his fielding has not been very good, has been torched for a career high in errors, Nick comes to play each and every day. Johnson can hit the ball out of the park, knock doubles all over the field. The most patient hitter in the game, with a tremendous on base percentage. Probably has more walks this season than most any 5 National players combined. Could drive in a few more runs, in the clutch. Love how the man has never learned how to slide into a base--can look downright atrocious at times, and very comical. Gives his best. By far, the most professional player on the Nats. A quality person, that teams build around. A winner. Enjoy watching him each and every game at RFK Stadium.

Chad Cordero--scary as can possibly be for a closer--and still be successful. After a magical 2005 season, struggled early, blowing 3 saves all in DRAMATIC MELTDOWN FASHION, giving up monster home runs. Major League Hitters had adjusted to him. Chief, took it all in stride, and adjusted his pitching to keep hitters off balance again. To excellent results, having only blown 1 save during the second half of 2006 and 24 of 28 overall. Always entertaining when coming to the mound, as you never know how difficult he's going to make it. Love his FLAT BRIMMED CAP--Style can be everything sometimes. Want to see him get his 30th save of 2006 by the last week of the season.

And, I want to see all the following players over the next couple weeks, so we call all decide whether they are worth keeping.

Jose Vidro needs to sit, so Bernie Castro can use his speed and agilty to make a Major League Club. We all know what Vidro CAN and CAN NOT do--its planly simple. Castro is 27 years old. If he can't show promise finally--its time to cut bait with him. And, Frank Robinson needs to quit listening to Vidro about wanting to play. There is no reason for Jose to be in the lineup over the next 19 games, just because he's a veteran and wants to play. No way.

The Nationals need a backup catcher for 2007, Brian Schneider will be back as the starter. Brandon Harper is 30--this is his FINAL chance. Let the man play, see if he's a late bloomer. But give Brandon the chance. Its only fair. If Harper doesn't cut it, then management knows they can shop for a quality backup during the off season.

Put Ryan Wagner into more pressure situations. He's got a wicked slider, when he's under control. Has impressed me over the past homestand. Wagner could actually be the steal of the REDS/NATS trade earlier this season. Could be a solid set up man for the Chief, and the standby closer when Cordero is not available.

And, Ryan Church--why does Jimbo, and now Frank Robinson, continue to mess with this guy's head. Supposedly given the defacto centerfield job when Alex Escobar went down for the millionth time in his career with a season ending injury, Bowden immediately took that job away by acquiring Nook Logan. Another 27 year old that never found his game in professional ball. But, Logan has speed, something that JIMBO is obsessed with!! Church has been solid since returning from exile in New Orleans, showing power, knocking in some key runs. May not have the speed to cover centerfield at RFK, but really is a solid player. If Ryan Church played for the Florida Marlins in 2006, they would have started him and left him alone, letting his talents decide whether Number 19 can play-not continually bash him like the Nationals do. Puzzling. Deserves an honest chance. Most likely will happen in another organization.

Finally--Frank Robinson--makes some of the most questionable managerial decisions of any manager I have ever watched. Some decisions downright awful--making you wonder whether Frank is watching the same game as you and me. Love how he can get into players faces, at times. But, do not like how he publicy trashes his players. Frank wants to come back for 3 more seasons as manager and has openly stated as such to just about everyone. Personally, I don't see Frank coming back, but he's been through alot for this lost franchise since MLB took over the franchise and handed the managerial reigns to him. Frank relocating to Washington with the team. If Jim Bowden and Stan Kasten are not going to rehire Frank, Number 20 deserves a SPECIAL DAY at RFK during the last weekend of the season--for all he did for this franchise over the past 5 years. It only fair. ANYTHING LESS WOULD BE A DISGRACE!!

The Nationals are are very poor team, terrible fielding, atrocious pitching, but Zimmerman, Soriano, Johnson and The Chief still make it enjoyable to attend the remaining Nats Games at RFK Stadium. Also, even in defeat, Section 320 is its usual rocking self. Making any game at the ballpark fun.

One last thing for the next few weeks--I need Screech to come wish THE AFRICAN QUEEN a Happy Birthday this Sunday, September 17th when the Nats play the Brewers at RFK. It would be alot to her--and me.

1 comment:

SenatorNat said...

Excellent summation of the best and most hopeful of 2006! Screech must know that it is the African Queen's 29th Birthday on Sept. 17, as he must know quite a few "little birdies."

I would add to your highlight list the suprisingly overall strong performance of Jon Rauch, overworked as a set-up guy, but with tremendous upside as a 6th-7th inning guy, with Ayala and Wags as set-up men. Nats bullpen could be among the best in the NL in '07 without adding anyone, since so many young guys like Jason and Ryan got baptism under fire this year.

Also,as a plus for 2006, FLOP is a true asset as a hitter and basepath guy: he would fit in nicely at second base in 2007, I would presume, should Guzman be ready to play shortstop at his Twins' level...Bluegrass Kearns is fine in right every day, particularly should an econimal re-signing of Guillen put him on the bench: the two could give good overall production. They can both be right-handed, too, as Nats have ample left-handed hitting and switch-hitting. Schneider will return to form next year without WBC and two-thousand rookies and old-men not holding runners...And, of course, I again put Church's production for half a season as a highlight, as do so many fans, who see something very bright and solid and productive about his being in the line-up. If Alex Escobar could (please take the hex off this guy, somebody!) stay healthy, the two would be golden together...

Starting pitching: the complete, absolute absence of it could have easily resulted in 100+ loss season. If Patterson and Lawrence are healthy enough to pitch, and we secure one true Number Two in trade or free agency, then we can hope that Bergmann or O'Connor or one of the IR starters can fill out the rotation. Actual ML starting rotation has ripple effect: throwing out runners and general fielding tends to solidify around it, and obviously, the bullpen is not used in lieu of starters...

Finally, you have to mention the play of Darryl Ward and Marlon Anderson as highlights of 2006 for Nats - no team had two better guys for PH and filling-in, albeit they are no longer on the team. Perhaps they will be recycled back along the way...

We were so starved for MLB, that maybe we are exaggerating the promise and the excitement - but, for this fan, these two seasons have been far more enchanting to witness, than any two cellar dwellers I recall among the many with the Senators. No offense Hondo!