Thursday, July 31, 2008

Re-Structuring


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)

18 comments:

JayB said...

Good Morning Baseball Fans,

It is a great day to be a Nats fan. I think if Acta can re-focus his mission here and get these guys playing hard, smart baseball then we are in for some fun times the rest of the summer.

Manny, please, the first guy not to call a ball or miss a cut off man sits for one game. The first guy who does not run to first, sits two games. The first guy late to the ball park goes to AAA for a week.

Send a message, I will be watching tonight.....when I hear "play ball" I want to see them all BUST OUT of the dugout and SPRINT to their positions........is that so hard to do? Try it, it feels good as I recall.

JayB said...

Oh, Manny, one more thing. Start taking Infield before each game. It works, honestly, it is just the type of thing they need. Just do it and see why for over 100 years of baseball this worked to set the tone before the game.

Andrew said...

SBF said...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.

SBF, great points as almost everyone on the Nats message board didn't think the Nats would dump the garbage. It was one of the boldest moves I have seen ownership do.

We all know what the next BOLD step is....

JimBo's Post Game hallway interview was also very professional as Debbie Taylor started off with a tough question and he handled it well. I think Jim may have learned from his Chad Cordero incident.

BTW, its amazing nobody would give up anything for PLoD or FLop so their best going away present should be a mirror and a videotape of their season. These 2 along with Estrada gave very little effort and cost us a lot in bad attitude and bad behavior.

jayb said...It is a great day to be a Nats fan...

Now let's win a few games.

I still think you need some veterans on your staff that can be leaders such as Tim Redding.

When the White Sox came calling for Joel Hanrahan yesterday, I am glad they were told NO.

When Guzy and Zim are at SS and 3B with Bonifacio at 2B and hopefully the LF & CF change that SBF suggested, we will have a solid lineup outside of 1B which is our biggest hole besides a true #1 starter.

Looking forward to the games ahead and caps off to the Lerners!!!

Old Nats Guy said...

Let's not get too excited about a few moves that were long overdue. This group of Nationals is full of individuals and factions. This is not a TEAM (e.g.: Belliard's reaction to Mock). Unless they start thinking as a team and playing as a team, the sloppy baseball and the losing will continue.

JayB said...

Exactly Correct Old Guy,

This is Acta's job description. It is why he was hired. He gets one more chance in my book to do what he said he was all about.

The time is now Manny. Take charge and lead. Not by sitting back but through proactive and decisive reaction to how your players conduct themselves on and off the

Anonymous said...

I was one of those who has to eat his words about the Lerners not wanting to have eat the Estrada, LoDuca and Lopez salaries. I was wrong, and my hat is off to them.

Maybe the Lerners can identify the reason they had to eat $12M in worthless player salaries this year. If it was management following instructions to plug someone with MLB experience into holes, then they have no one to blame but themselves. If it was management telling them that LoDuca , Estrada, and Mackowiack were actually worth $7M, then they should seriously consider making other changes.

Amazing how a few bad players can ruin an entire team. I was at Wednesday's game, and as impossible as it seems, the team that played on Wednesday was capable of losing every game for the next two months. You could see it on the field and at the plate. They were just waiting to find the way to lose that game because they knew it was inevitable, even when they led by 1 run. When a player hustled, like Harris going to third with 1 out when the ball didn't come off the wall cleanly, it was always followed by someone negating it (i.e. Milledge hitting a tapper back to the mound).

Maybe now that the special treatment players are gone, Acta can be a manager once again, and the players can be held accountable and actually play for something, even if it is only for themselves.

Sec314 said...

SBF,

I like your idea of Dukes in CF and although I like Milledge's attitude, after watching his weak throw that his LoDuca in the ankles Tuesday night, its clear to me he's not ready to be playing.

I'd put Dukes in CF and leave Harris in Left. Let Lastings heal.

Tom said...

SBF
Strange. I guess you think (know) that JimBo has been writing out the daily lineup card.
I would have thought you should have been addressing Manny when you asked
to switch the outfield positions.

Anonymous said...

SBF,

One thing that comes to mind for me is, with Dukes coming back (I also think that Dukes in CF and Milledge in LF is an obvious move), why not give Langerhans a look at first base, at least while he keeps hitting well.

With LoDuca gone and Boone on the DL why not? Clearly, Casto doesn't look in any way comfortable around the bag, and my gut instinct is that Ryan has far better LangerHands (sorry about the terrible pun), and would also have more range, especially going to his right. (One other possibility could be to give Harris a shot there as long as he provides good offense.)

Speaking of Harris (who as the leadoff man was the most obvious culprit), did you notice all the first pitch swinging up and down the lineup in the middle innings after Kendrick had his pitch count way up early on? (Not that this is something new.) It's hard to believe that Nick Johnson, whose spikes haven't touched the field since May, still leads the Nats in walks. Aside from Nick, Dukes and Austin Kearns (and, when he was going well in May, Jesus Flores), there's a complete absence of plate discipline.

This, of course, leads to a discussion of another Harris . . .

WFY said...

I'm hoping the Lerners notice that Jim Bowden threw away $11 million of their money and relieve him of his duties.

Screech's Best Friend said...

anonymous at 10:19AM I just came from a Team Sponsored Back To School Drive Event Friday Morning for a post later. Ryan Langerhans was the representative player for Our Washington Nationals. In a interview conducted with him, he told me that he HAS BEEN WORKING OUT at First Base in an effort to get more playing time. Langerhans says he has played the position before and is comfortable there. Just wants as much of a chance to play as possible for The Nationals. This could get him more time.

An Briosca Mor said...

I'm hoping the Lerners notice that Jim Bowden threw away $11 million of their money and relieve him of his duties.

All major league GMs, successful or unsuccessful, will piss away large chunks of their owner's money in any given year. How much of Steinbrenner's money has Cashman pissed away on dubious FA signings too numerous to mention? How much of Henry/Werner/Lucchino's money did Theo Epstein throw away for a few miserable months of Eric Gagne last year, or to pay off the rest of Manny's contract this year?

If you say you want the Lerners to fire Bowden just because he threw away $11M of their money on player acquisitions that didn't pan out, then what you're really saying is that you want the Lerners to actually be as cheap and penny-pinching as their detractors say they are. You're saying that you don't want them to learn once and for all what it means to be a successful MLB owner. What you should be wanting the Lerners to say to Bowden is not "You're fired!" but rather this: "Next time, spend more money and get some better players. Otherwise, you're gonna get fired."

WFY said...

ABM: I want Bowden fired period, dating back to about 2004. He should have never been hired or retained after saying things "like you are supposed to run out of pitchers in September and October, not April." No Jimbo, you are never supposed to run out of pitchers, your job is to make sure you don't.

I agree that getting rid of those three was a good decision, but Bowden was also the guy who signed him. I was trying to "talk the Lerners' language."

Andrew said...

If Cashman weren't a local guy who was educated at Georgetown Prep I would probably totally throw him under the bus. He has an open checkbook and can't put together a winner. Enough said????

Theo Epstein has been amazing and should be applauded for cutting out the Manny cancer that was growing there.

This appears to be the Angels year in the AL in my opinion.

Jim Bowden as rated by numerous publications in 2007 did an admirable job. You know the old saying, "What have you done for me lately?"

This year has been horrific as Jim ultimately chose Estrada, LoDuca, and previously FLop. Bowden had a budget defined by ownership and chose the players and didn't deliver. Like the Mariners and Mets and going forward a few other teams that will make decisions in early October as to who do you fire---the Manager or the GM.

Owners don't fire themselves or Peter Angelos would have been gone a long time ago so the Lerner Group won't be leaving so they will have to figure out how to make this work.

Andrew Stebbins said...

Only thing I disagree with is Lasto in left. He knows he has to improve in center (and he has!) to stick in baseball because he can't produce the big power numbers corner outfielder's are supposed to put up.

Anonymous said...

Milledge's arm is extremely weak and inaccurate. Further, he is not much of a hitter. Dope Bowden gave up two proven major league players for another turkey.

Andrew said...

Some good points on Milledge and his defense.

If he can't get that .300 OBP over .350 that will be what makes it an easy decision on his future.

Elijah Dukes is best suited as a LF or RF.

paul said...

GREAT report and summary, SBF. You're right on target about Dukes and Milledge. But we have time to settle that issue.

Whither Ryan Langerhans? One of our hotter hitters is a sometime pinch-hitter, nothing better.