Monday, April 30, 2007
More & More
UPDATE: Our Washington Nationals Designated D'Angelo Jimenez Today and Offically Recalled Kory Casto. Not Surprising in the least.
All spring long, the focus of Our Washington Nationals has rested nearly exclusively on The Starting Pitching. Game after Game during the first two weeks of the 2007 season, The Nationals never had a legitimate shot to win. Undependable Starting Pitching killing the team, putting Washington in early deficits, holes dug so deep, virtually no team in baseball could have clawed themselves out. Now, just as slowly as the weather has finally changed from bitter cold to expected spring warmth, Our Starting Pitching is warming up as well. More and More, Our Washington Nationals are competitive. Are they great?--by no means. But, they are better.
Shawn Hill has been Our Ace from the get go. Jason Bergmann has been a pleasant surprise. Matt Chico, a work in progress. Number 47 hangs in there though, even without his best stuff. Matt is making strides during his Major League ON THE JOB Training Program. Even Jerome Williams somehow pulled it out last Friday night against The Mets. Its a good thing he did, Jerome was heading to the Waiver Wire, now he's resting on The Disabled List. Only our supposed BEST PITCHER, John Patterson, has yet to show his expected promise.
And when your starting pitching holds up, MORE & MORE, the games become competitive. The closer the games, MORE & MORE, Our Manager Manny Acta must rely on strategy. Which ultimately means, MORE & MORE--Manny must rely on his bench players.
And, that's the subject of today's post.
MORE & MORE, Our Manager must realize--Our Washington Nationals DO NOT HAVE A BENCH.
On any given gameday, The Nationals bench players consist of Jesus Flores, Robert Fick, D'Angelo Jimenez, Josh Wilson and either Michael Restovich or Chris Snelling. That's it. That's Terrible.
Flores is a TERRIFIC YOUNG PLAYER. The Rule V Draftee must stay on The Major League Roster all year. That's fine with me. The more Jesus Plays, the better I like him. Number 3 is struggling at the plate, but is going to break out, sooner, rather than later. He just doesn't have experience.
After Jesus, those left sitting on the pine have been virtually unhelpful, some would say: USELESS.
No One to reliably trust to get a key hit. No One to provide Pop in the Bat for some late inning heroics. And, NOT A SINGLE PERSON THAT CAN BUNT. In fact, Jimenez and Wilson are not even trusted to play the field defensively. What kind of a bench is that? Would not even Bernie Castro be a better choice over Jimenez?
Our Manager, Manny Acta has few choices to counteract an opposing Manager's Moves. The Chess Match, so crucial to National League Baseball, is barely possible with Our Washington Nationals. Manny can ONLY HOPE Fick, Jimenez, Wilson, Restovich/Snelling or Flores can get the job done. So far this season, Manny Acta can only cross his fingers, wishing for luck, then long for a fluke. Not a way to Manage a Major League Team.
What a far cry from the first two season's of Nationals Baseball. Jamey Carroll, Ryan Church, Marlon Anderson, Daryle Ward, Brendan Harris, Marlon Byrd, Alex Escobar, Bernie Castro and, of course, Carlos Baerga (only because We LOVE CARLOS BAERGA in Section 320, the man provided so much enjoyment in 2005). Not any great players there, but some serviceable talent. Skill Frank Robinson could depend on late in the game to give Our Washington Nationals an opportunity to get back into or over the top in a tight match.
A Lost Moment Now, when Jimenez and Wilson are sent to the plate by Manny. Neither decent sticks. Fick, not much better. Number 13 can play first base decently, is the emergency third catcher--but has struggled MIGHTILY at the plate. Time and Time again early this season, Our Manager has sent Robert up to provide that veteran spark off the bench. He has failed, repeatedly--in the clutch.
Help may well be on the way though. Although the move is not official, some reports have Kory Casto joining The Nationals in San Diego tonight. No corresponding roster move. Cristian Guzman and Nook Logan are days away from returning. Jimenez has to be gone. Wilson next. "The Guz" & Logan, nor Casto are going to provide much power. But this trio does give Manny Acta maneuvering space late in games. Stratagem Our Manager has no power over currently.
Yeah, I understand a $35 Million Payroll limits growth possibilities off the bench, but it doesn't mean Our Washington Nationals progess is limited, right now. Ronnie Belliard would be a terrific platoon/late inning replacement if Guzman returns to short, FLop to second. Clearly, Cristian has to help also, not return to his 2005 form. Snelling is a helpful player, a gamer. Logan a perfect 4th Outfielder, late inning replacement. And, what in world has happened to ALEX ESCOBAR? The King Of Injury has disappeared off the radar screen for Our Washington Nationals. How is it possible for a player to dislocate his shoulder last September, AND STILL NOT BE ABLE TO THROW THE BASEBALL?
Alex Escobar is a FIVE TOOL TALENT, arguably one of the most thrilling players on The 2006 Version of The Nationals. If healthy, how decent would a Church, Escobar, Kearns outfield look? Logan, Snelling, Belliard, Flores and most likely still Fick off the bench. That's LIGHT YEARS from where we stand right now. And, I haven't even mentioned Nick Johnson, he's still a few months away.
More & More, I would LOVE TO SEE THAT BENCH. Manny might work miracles with THAT BENCH. Better Competitors, ready at a moments notice. WITH THAT BENCH, Our Washington Nationals would be a far better team, than today.