Sunday, July 15, 2007
What I Want To See
Knowing that Our Washington Nationals are not going anywhere in 2007, there are still wishes that I would love to see play out, by that Final Game on September 30th in Philadelphia. Some of those desires struck me during Washington's Series Ending Loss, to The Florida Marlins this afternoon at Dolphin Stadium, 5-3.
I want to see Our Hitters show more patience at the plate--When the first two hitters, preceding them in an inning walk--you can probably guess your pitching opponent has little command. Don't swing at the very first offering--unless its right down the middle of the plate. Most anything else is probably only helping the pitcher--not you.
And, when Our Team has an opposing pitcher in trouble--I would love to see better hitting in the clutch. Time after time, Washington leaves countless runners in scoring position. Its frustrating to watch, and something that has been common for Nats Fans during all three seasons since Baseball's Return to Our Nation's Capital.
When you have two strikes--its OK to cut down on your swing--no need to attempt to JACK everything out of the park. Its called "Hitting Defensively". I would love to see more of our players attack this way, when behind in the count. Ryan Zimmerman got tied up terribly today--twice striking out looking. Sure, sometimes you're fooled, other times--you are looking to do too much--and only helping the pitcher. Patience is a virtue in baseball.
In fact, I want to see Ryan Zimmerman get a"Little Greedy"--like Don Sutton mentioned to me last week--and look to improve His Game--first. His Game can only help Our Washington Nationals Games in their near and long term future.
I want to see Our Pitchers trust to throw their best stuff--not just what The Pitch Count Dictates. Jason Simontacchi got beat today, because he failed to trust his stuff. Instead, Simontacchi tossed his lesser choices and lost. Go with your gut feeling sometimes.
I want to see "Our Starter In Training" go the entire 2007 season without missing a turn. Matt Chico's Ups & Downs are interesting to watch. All with a confidence, shown from his very first pitch of Spring Training-- believing he belonged. How much better will he be in 2008? I would imagine--remarkably better.
I want to see if Our Washington Nationals can find a leadoff hitter. Despite Nook Logan's weekend resurgence in South Florida--I am not convinced he's the one. Never has Nook Logan been consistent. And, that Final Out at third base last June 23rd against Cleveland--still hurts. Throw Alex Escobar out there until he breaks down again. We have nothing to lose. And, if Escobar Fails--lets go shopping for a STARTING CENTERFIELDER this off season (Not just a toolsy, no hit, no arm, fast runner).
I want to see us run a little more. Yeah, I know--Our Manager Manny Acta says he doesn't want to run, just to run. I understand that. But, with our struggling bats--sometimes stirring things up, forces the situation at hand.
I want to see Jesus Flores play more and more. Again today, he showed his cannon arm and guile behind the plate, when he threw two Marlins out at third base. Our Number 3 is struggling at the plate. But, I have little doubt---Jesus Flores is extremely talented. If 2007 is about finding talent on the Major League Roster--This Is Our Man.
I want to see Shawn Hill return from his elbow problems--pain free--and, DOMINATE THE GAME. Our Best & Most Talented Starter on The Major League Roster. I want to see him healthy. He would be a Stabilizer nearly every 5th day. Someone Our Washington Nationals do not enjoy at this very moment.
If he's still here come July 31st--I want to see "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" ATTACK hitters in the 9th. Working ahead in the count is always a good thing--especially for Chad Cordero. As heart thumping as his Closer Attempts can be--I would rather see a more mundane finish to ANY Curly "W".
I want to find out if Luis Ayala has fully recovered from his elbow problems. A one time workhorse and Premiere Set-Up Man, Our Number 56 could be invaluable once again. His contract is up, time to see if he's a keeper, also.
I want to see My Main Man!! Ryan Church start hitting for more power. After such a hot start, Ryan has calmed down mightily. When he's swinging the bat well, Our Number 19 hits the opposite way. Something we have not seen much of, lately.
I want to see Our Manager Manny Acta continue to show his AMAZING PATIENCE. Not many Rookie Managers would have handled this given situation is such a positive way. And, still flash that FABULOUS SMILE. Manny Acta is a keeper as Manager--for years to come. With little talent at his disposal--he's managed effectively. How much better will he become when given some real horses to run the race?
I want to see how Deft Our General Manager is come the July 31st Trading Deadline. His maneuvers may shape up differently now, due to the season ending loss of Cristian Guzman. Jesus Colome's surgery also changes what he can do. No doubt--Jim Bowden will be very interesting--until the clock strikes midnight that day.
And, when it comes to possible trades, I would not mind seeing Ronnie Belliard REMAIN a member of Our Washington Nationals. He's just so valuable. And, unless some other team offers something really good--why not keep him and see if he can be signed to a contract for a few years. Belliard will be as valuable then, as now. Every team needs some solid veterans for support. Ronnie has been a perfect example.
Although, I think Dimitri Young should be traded--if at all possible, for the best offer. He's hot. In fact--ON FIRE. Get what you can for him. Dimitri Young can always resign next year, if he really wants to play here.
And, if Our General Manager is lucky--he can not only return some young pitching in trade, or a hitter. But, maybe a near ready shortstop. Someone that would allow FLop to move back to second, and be comfortable again. Felipe Lopez has shown signs of life of late. Its time to find out if he's a keeper. When "The Guz" comes back--we can figure his situation out then. Nothing that happens over the next few weeks will affect Our Number 15.
Despite being signed to a three year contract extension--Austin Kearns has not been clutch at the plate. Although, his fielding is very solid. I would love to see what Austin Kearns is capable of doing. If Our Washington Nationals don't know soon--it may well be time to pass him on to someone else--while he still wears that "Potential" tag.
And, with Our Number 25 in my mind--I want to see Nick Johnson come back and play in September--if only for a few games. And, not just for his own well being. But, for The Peace Of Mind, for not only Our Number 24, but also Austin Kearns. Deep Down inside--their awful accident (and that's all it was--a terrible accident) has got to bother Austin Kearns. Getting Nick Johnson back on the baseball field can only help both players--physically and mentally.
I want to see Our Washington Nationals draw 2 Million Fans in their final Lame Duck Season at RFK Stadium. Really, I believe there is solid fan base. Everybody just wants to see a more competitive team.
Finally--come September--I would LOVE to see some of Our So Called "TOP Prospects" on the field at RFK Stadium. With a losing season, all but certain--A Fresh Look at What's Coming in 2008 can only tease my mind. That's a good thing.
That's all I Want To See. Because, I'll still enjoy Our 2007 Washington Nationals--no matter their results on the field.
Game Notes & Highlights:
This afternoon's 5-3 loss to The Marlins was one of those frustrating defeats where, Our Washington Nationals were never really out of it. But at the same time--it never felt like they had a chance to win. Continuing their trend, of not scoring runners from second and third. I have to give Third Base Coach Tim Tolman credit for sending Belliard Home on FLop's run scoring single (plating Logan) in the 5th. Belliard was thrown out at Home by Alfredo Amezega (who knew this guy would have a career weekend), but Tolman tried to stir things up. Ronnie Scoring at that moment--could have been a game changer. When you team can't score from third--risk is sometimes necessary. I applaud that move, although Belliard was out by a mile.
In the bottom of the first inning--The Marlin's Leadoff hitter Hanley Ramirez laced a sure gapper to right center. Logan used his speed, dove to his left and made The Defensive Play of This Game. If Logan misses his forward lunge, and Austin Kearns could not back up the play--Ramirez would most likely had run around the bases for an Inside The Park Home Run. Our Number 7 made a very fine play.
A Defensive Gem that Felipe Lopez also made in that bottom of the first. Marlins Slugger Miguel Cabrera laced a grounder off the top of the mound--between 2nd Base and FLop at Short. Lopez ranged to his left, to the grass toward left center--reached down and scooped the ball into his glove. His easy toss to first completed an excellent, instinct reaction, defensive play.
Jason Simontacchi is fascinating to watch pitch. He can give up a lead off Home Run, then settle down and look very decent. Then, get in trouble, allowing a single run to score-and then, like Houdini, get out of a serious jam. Some times by fooling a hitter with his good stuff. Other times, by one of best pickoff moves in the game. Today, Jason Simontacchi picked off his 5th runner at second base in 2007. He may never be a top pitcher, but he is a competitor. I like that.
Nine Home Runs by The Florida Marlins this weekend off Washington Pitching. Zero by Our Washington Nationals. Our Starting Pitchers not keeping the ball down.
The "ANNOUNCED" Attendance today at Dolphin Stadium was 12,119. Scanning the stands on MASN--there could only have been a few thousand. Reminded me of 1971--The Final Season of My Washington Senators.
Saturday Night was "The African Queen's Night" So, we did not watch Matt Chico's performance on the mound. The very Few Times, all season, we have missed any away game (on TV) for personal ventures--Our Washington Nationals have lost--convincingly. Someone must be telling us--WE MUST WATCH EVERY GAME.
Today's & Last Night's InGame Photos--(AP) Alan Diaz