Thursday, July 31, 2008
As long as Our Washington Nationals are Re-Structuring, why not make one more move with a player currently on Our 25 Man Roster. Every team in the game wishes to be strong up the middle. Good Defensive Catcher with a strong throwing arm. Jesus Flores--We got that. Swift and Fancy fielding gloves at second base and shortstop. The newly acquired Alberto Gonzales--with "The Guz" hurting--and the recently traded for Emilio Bonifacio at 2nd. We supposedly have that too, now--at least on paper. A Quality Centerfielder with good defensive skills and a strong arm. No, we don't have that, yet. But, we do already have someone with that ability on Our Roster, Elijah Dukes--not Lastings Milledge.
Dukes has the five tool talents desired to be roaming the vast lands of centerfield. Our Number 44 may have the athletic talent, but Lastings does not have the skills, nor the required arm to patrol that position. Dukes does.
JimBo, please put Dukes in Centerfield, and Milledge in Left. Make this move NOW--with two months remaining in this oddest of Inaugural Seasons at New Nationals Park. Every Team in Major League Baseball wants to be strong up the middle. Every single team wants to put a quality defensive lineup out in the field to protect their starters. According to everything we've seen about Flores and Dukes, and according to EVERYTHING you and your Baseball Operations have raved about over Gonzalez and Bonifacio--What Do You Have To Lose? This is the right move.
Besides--just about every single person in the game agrees that Lastings Milledge is better suited to be a corner outfielder.
All this possible thanks to a flurry of official moves late this evening.
Johnny Estrada--Designated For Assignment Last Week--Gone. Paul LoDuca--Gone. FLop--Gone (But Never To Be Forgotten--no, now way--Felipe Lopez has provided so much fodder over his past two seasons in The District--he's been quite remarkable actually). All released, unconditionally, immediately following tonight's out of sync and dismal loss to The Philadelphia Phillies on South Capitol Street. An 8-4 defeat, Washington's 9th Straight, and 3rd Straight Sweep by an opponent. This was an ugly affair where missed baseballs, poor throws and some lifeless play added to an already hot, humid and uncomfortable night at the ballpark.
The fact that Our Supposed Franchise Player was hit on his wrist by a fastball from The Phillies Kyle Kendrick--didn't add to the fun. There could not have been a sole in the announced crowd of 31,658 that DID NOT BELIEVE Ryan Zimmerman had just fractured a bone in his right hand. The silence on South Capitol Street was erie. The African Queen later stating--"Ryan being out--again--would have just KILLED THE SEASON FOR ME!!" Fortunately, X-Ray's were negative, the injury is officially called a 'contusion' and Our Number 11 is listed as Day-To-Day.
As for the game itself, Our Washington Nationals were charged with three errors. The Official Scorer generous in not calling two more. But, The Signature Play of this game came with two outs in the top of the sixth. The Phillies already had scored three more runs, sending John Lannan to the showers. Garrett Mock now on the mound--trying to retire Jayson Werth. The Philadelphia Outfielder would pop up in the infield--to the right of mound--slightly toward third base. Ronnie Belliard, filling in for "Z", called the ball all the way. The very instant Our Number 10 was about to close his glove on the dropping baseball--Mock stepped in and OVER BELLIARD to make the catch. The force of Our Number 50's big body pushing Ronnie back and away--forcibly.
Was RONNIE BELLIARD EVER PISSED!! Our Number 10 slapped his glove hard against his side, said something that could not be heard, BUT NEVER LOOKED AT GARRETT MOCK. Not once--all the way to the dugout. Mock, for his part, never gazed over and attempted to apolgize to Ronnie. Walking side by side--two players for Our Washington Nationals REFUSED TO SPEAK TO EACH OTHER. That was shameful. These guys are supposedly teammates, but neither wanted to be on the field with the other at that moment. At that very point in time--THE GAME WAS OVER--Officially. Washington had surrendered.
As Belliard reached the Home Dugout, Austin Kearns and Lastings Milledge slapped their gloves on Belliard's legs in support. No One said a word to Garrett Mock (as far as we could see from Section 218). This moment was very odd and uncomfortable to watch. Sad actually, to witness Two Players on Our Team, that didn't wish to work things out--over something so small--as each attempting to record the out. Silly and Unprofessional.
Expectedly, Washington never really threatened again. How odd that Felipe Lopez doubled to the wall in right centerfield in the bottom of the 9th and eventually scored in his final At-Bat in a Nationals Jersey. Such a talented player--FLop. Such a disappointment on the field of play for so long.
How much I will miss yelling out out: "Come On FLop!!" and "Don't Kill The Rally!!" most every time Our Now Former Number 2 stepped to the plate. The Man's got a terrific arm. The GREATEST NICKNAME IS BASEBALL--"FLop", but played as if his moniker was FACT. Many times--his head apparently not in the game. How ironic that the so-called trade of Austin Kearns and Lopez, along with Ryan Wagner--praised highly by many in the Summer of 2006, now just a nothing swap. Washington left with "Bluegrass", The Cincinnati Reds left with Bill Bray, Gary Majewski and Darryl Thompson--all pitchers. How history can change, over time.
A new look team for Our Washington Nationals takes the field beginning tomorrow--August 1st, 2008. The Second Season Begins for Our Fans. Let's not waste any more time when quality youngsters are available to be placed in Our Lineup. This Version 4.5 of Our Washington Nationals is going to be a pretty good defensive team. What we don't know is whether by 2009, they will learn how to hit--consistently.
Today brought a new day--a fresh look at Our Washington Nationals. 23 Year Olds at Catcher, Second Base, Third Base, Left & Center (Dukes/Milledge). A 25 Year old Shortstop, 22 & 23 Year old Starters and three other 25 Year old Pitchers. All with varying degrees of talent and potential. This is how you finally begin building a team from scratch. Not with veterans on the down side of their careers. Tomorrow is The First Day of seeing The Future of Our Washington Nationals. In a season of lost hope--a rekindled spirit is upon us. Seeing young players that WANT TO BE OUT THERE ON THE FIELD, playing the game we all love--even if losing still--is far more preferable than the effort seen during most of the first four months of this 2008 campaign.
Tonight's Re-Structuring was a good start. Now--lets just put Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge in the positions they need to play to succeed at The Major League Level--consistently. Then, it will be time to find a First Baseman, and more hurlers from "Mr. Pitching, Pitching, & More Pitching"--who always seems to trade Pitching.
Thankfully, even Our General Manager Jim Bowden will have to admit--his pension for all things Cincinnati is FINALLY over--because All Things Arizona is the new fad of Our Washington Nationals and Assistant GM Mike Rizzo. (Matt Chico, Mock, Bonifacio and Gonzales are all Rizzo signed players--while he was with The Diamondbacks). All Snakes--En Vogue.
Game Notes & Highlights
John Lannan really got rocked tonight. Home Runs allowed to Jayson Werth and Jimmy Rollins. Yeah, his defense behind him was poor--but Our Number 31 didn't help is own cause much. 9 hits and 3 walks allowed. At times--he seemed even out of sync with his catcher Jesus Flores. Three times Jesus & John met at the mound to discuss the situation. Once, Lannan threw a pitch to Flores that obviously Our Number 3 was not expecting. Our Number 31 snapped at him--bringing Our Number 3 on the run to the mound to figure out the problem. Just another part of bad night on the field.
At least Pete Orr got some playing time with Cristian Guzman still listed as day-to-day with his thumb injury. Our Number 4's first start since turning down Team Canada to play in the 2008 Olympics. Orr responded with three hits and some solid play at shortstop.
Despite the thoughts of some against The Lerners--They did EAT THE SALARIES of Rob Mackowiak, Johnny Estrada, FLop and Paul LoDuca. That's approximately $12 Million--Folks. They didn't saddle the team with veterans taking up space for the remainder of 2008, when a fresh beginning was at hand. I applaud that effort. Chad Cordero's Salary of $6.2 Million is gone off the books come October 1st, as well. We are approaching an expected deduction of $20 Million in payroll off the ledger come 2009. Hopefully, enough money to sign some more top draft picks and maybe make some smart moves in a few off season transactions. Cristian Guzman's new two year contract only adds $4 million more to the projected 2009 Payroll.
So--why is Odalis Perez still with Our Team? Is Washington attempting to pass him through waivers--knowing someone might take him in a few weeks? If not, we might as well release him too.
How odd to realize that when Our Washington Nationals lost their very first game of this season--to The Phillies in Philadelphia, they were in first place that first week with a 3-0 record. Since that fateful first defeat Our Record, 35-70. .333 ball.
The 4th Inning President's Race was again unusual tonight. With Tom Leading The Race, handily, all the way from The Centerfield Gate--he suddenly stopped running upon seeing "Martha Washington" waiting along the front row of the stands down the right field line. Making a pass at Mrs. Washington, Tom immediately found himself passed out and knocked down--thanks to a hard running hit by a jealous George. Protecting his wife, GW SLAMMED TJ to the ground. Man, he hit him hard. So badly, you had to wonder whether Tom was going to see anything but stars and stripes for some time. This race might have been the most thrilling event on the field tonight at New Nationals Park.
Have you noticed these Widescreen HDTV's being placed in and round certain seating sections with overhangs above? They are FANTASTIC!! Two or three screens to each section showing the game on MASN and the images from The HDTV Scoreboard. All season long, the construction crews have been adding these sets during times Our Washington Nationals are out of town. Honestly, they look great. Terrific Picture.
Finally--Sohna and I have come to really look forward to the Welcome Home!!! Salute to the many military personnel back home and rehabbing from violent war injuries overseas. Taking place in the top of the 4th inning of every home game--the crowd has really responded well to this salute. Even the visiting teams have joined in the welcome. The Philadelphia Phillies clapping during each of the past three evenings for the Men & Women at New Nationals Park. The Home Crowd always now standing and applauding in great response. It's hard to watch these many solders with their debilitating injuries but this salute has also become a very nice moment--cherished every single game. Our Washington Nationals should keep this going--for as long as necessary.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Pablo Martinez Monsivais
All Other Photos--Nats320 (All Rights Reserved)