Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Roller Coaster Ride

The Rhythm of any baseball season has its many ups and downs. Teams can rattle off a series of wins, maintain a hot streak for two weeks at a time. And, just as soon as you think you are unbeatable--the losing begins--a streak reaching multiple games, making you wonder if you will ever win a game again. That's the EBB & FLOW of this great game. Vulnerable is every team to losing. And, even those worst teams can beat the very best on any given day. Its how you manage The Roller Coaster Ride of any season that determines your success.

So, with that in mind, how can you explain Our Washington Nationals beating some of baseball's very best pitchers in 2007. Atlanta's John Smoltz, San Diego's Jake Peavy and Minnesota's Johan Santana have all suffered a loss to Washington. Wins that can only bring a smile to any Nats Fans Face.

And yet, Our Washington Nationals have done it with smoke and mirrors--along with some solid instruction and knowledge from their Pitching Coach, Randy St.Claire. How else can you explain 26 victories against 37 defeats with a Starting Pitching Staff almost entirely on The Disabled List. Its quite remarkable that we are not "HISTORICALLY BAD", as so many predicted. Washington is competitive because those hired to determine talent for The Major League Team are responding, positively.

Washington has survived because their scouts correctly determined what Journeyman Free Agent Pitchers were worthy of another shot. Randy St.Claire determined what talent those Journeyman brought to the table. And, Our Manager Manny Acta, forced by injury, found a way to put those journeyman on the mound, with a game plan, to win.

No, Our Washington Nationals are not even a .500 team, but they are competitive with a Starting Five of Matt Chico, Micah Bowie, Jason Simontacchi, Levale Speigner and Mike Bacsik. A Rotation NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD HAVE EVER PREDICTED during Spring Training.

Now, it only will get better as Jason Bergmann, Shawn Hill, John Patterson, Mike O'Connor and even Jerome Williams are near their returns. Luis Ayala might be back as a setup man come July. All are throwing again, whether on the side or in Rehab Starts in the Minors. Which begs the question. How much better can we be?

The last time we all saw Bergmann pitch, Number 57 had a No Hitter into the 8th Inning. The last time we all saw Hill pitch, Number 41 had a Perfect Game going through 5 innings. The last time we all saw John Patterson pitch, Number 22 outdueled Peavy in San Diego for a rousing win. And, Mike O'Connor just gave up two hits and one run during his three innings at AA Harrisburg this past Sunday. His elbow surgery seemingly healed. Jerome Williams will make a 50 pitch Rehab start for the same Harrisburg Senators this Friday.

Our Washington Nationals have come far since those first days of training this past February in Viera, Florida. Out of nowhere--Washington appears to have depth. Depth that many other teams would covet. Do we have many solid Number 1, Cy Young Potential pitchers? Probably, not right now. But, as summer is upon us Manny Acta has choices and decisions ahead that must make him happy. Our Manager knows, he has something special going. A far cry from that awful 1-8 start in April.

A Starting Rotation of Chico, Simontacchi, Bergmann, Hill and Patterson is decent. Not Division winning, but it certainly can cause their competition trouble. Yet, just as soon as all those pitchers are about to return, the game and face of this team may change again.

The Trading Deadline nears. So much may well still be in flux. Once again Our Washington Nationals will be transforming before our very eyes. This is the story of The 2007 Washington Nationals--playing competitive baseball on the field, while constantly changing your lineup. Its tough to do, yet they seem to be doing alright. Their losing streaks never quite putting them down. Their winning streaks fueling the flames of laughter at their doubters. No one can say this final season at RFK STADIUM has not been interesting so far.

Sure, alot of folks are talking about the, ON FIRE, Dimitri Young and Ronnie Belliard as trade bait. Cristian Guzman has opened up some serious eyes. No one would be surprised to see them go. But, its Our Pitching that many Contenders might be looking to for help come the September Stretch Run.

Yeah, you can talk about Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch--both being looked at hard by many teams. I am sure the interest in them is high. But, Bowie has pitched the finest baseball of his career. Simontacchi again looks like a solid middle of the rotation starter. Jesus Colome has been a GODSEND. Saul Rivera is a dependable everyday man out of bullpen And, being the lefty he is-- and always a hot commodity--Ray King has value.

All of which makes the coming six weeks leading to the July 31st Trading Deadline an important time for Our Washington Nationals. Our General Manager Jim Bowden needs all his pitchers back, off the Disabled List and throwing in competitive games. He needs to know what value his cards hold at the poker table. The early part of Summer 2007 is vital to the future of Our Washington Nationals. Is it likely Bowden can return some top prospect? Most likely--no. Although, I wouldn't count anything out with him. But, I am positive many of our tradeable commodities can return some solid useable talent for the near and long term future of Our Franchise.

The 2007 Entry Draft is behind us. Our Scouts are back out on the road--looking for talent from the 29 others Major League Teams. With the success these Scouts showed in finding those journeyman pitchers to fill out Our 2007 Rotation--would you doubt their potential of finding someone elses lost "Diamond In The Rough"? I wouldn't. Nothing Our Scouts have done, so far, would give me pause.

Everybody has their winning streaks. Everybody has their losing streaks. Its how you manage those streaks, both on and off the field, that determine your future. The next six weeks of summer will go along way toward determining that future of Our Washington Nationals. No doubt, we will be players.

The Roller Coaster Ride Continues.

Its amazing how a Last Place Team can hold my attention.

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