Saturday, June 13, 2009
A Very Sullen Day
First came the really sad news of the day: Josh Willingham's Brother killed in an auto incident in his hometown of Florence, Alabama.
Second came some more upsetting news: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports declaring on National Television that Our Manager Manny Acta would be fired--by Monday at the latest--and replaced by Jim Riggleman?
Finally, came a real stinker of a ball game from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Another bad loss thanks to some really poor relief pitching. A 2-1 advantage evaporated in just six pitches from Jason Bergmann. A resultant seven run 6th inning that sent Our Washington Nationals down for their 44th defeat of 2009.
All of today's events combining to make for a very sullen day. And the final score in tonight's 8-3 loss to The Tampa Bay Rays the least of our concerns.
First and foremost--Sohna and I would like to add our condolences to those of the many others whom have sent their best to Josh and his family. Losing a family member is never easy--at any time.
And how disconcerting--on the heels of personal news of grief that affects not just a member of Our Washington Nationals Family, but also an entire clubhouse--the flying of the Manny Rumor could not have been more badly timed.
So--who exactly are these Major League Sources? And seriously, why would you replace Our Number 14 with someone that has an unimpressive managerial record while working with better talent overall?
That doesn't make any sense.
Manny Acta has more to learn when it comes to game management and strategy decisions. There is no question about that. But he's never been given a full deck of players to send out onto the field. You can't hire someone (Manny) and then tell him from the very beginning--"We are going to be rebuilding. It's a long process that's going to take time. It's going to take patience." And then get rid of him only because management's patience might be running out?
That would be sending the wrong message.
That's saying what you preach is not what you believe.
And it makes ANYONE coming on board to possibly replace Our Number 14 wonder--what exactly he's getting into?
Manny Acta did not pick most, if anyone, from the 25 names he's been given to place on the lineup card each day.
Our Number 14 was handed a terrible bullpen that has totaled 22 Blown Saves.
He's been given a rotation of "BABY" Starters--all under 25 Years Old--combing for a total of 22 Major League Wins.
He's stuck with a Defensive Lineup that has committed 60 Errors in 60 Games.
None of that is Manny's fault.
Since Interim GM Mike Rizzo took over day to day roster management of Our Washington Nationals in the wake of Jim Bowden's Resignation--he admitted Our Bullpen was a significant problem waiting to be exposed.
He was right and despite all attempts to fix our relief corp by looking at everything available on the market--that sinking ship has yet to be righted. Mr. Rizzo also believed Shawn Hill would never hold up. And Daniel Cabrera was not an answer. He was right on both accounts. Our previous General Manager would never have admitted that.
But everyone knows--no one wins consistently when four of your five starters are rookies. That takes time--learning on the job--feeling the development pain while understanding the long-term benefits.
Manny Acta did not put together Washington's terrible fielding team. You could argue Mike Rizzo didn't also.
Mr. Rizzo didn't trade "Our Second Baseman Of The Future"--his Emilio Bonifacio (and two minor leaguers)--for Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham. A swap that really hasn't worked out for both sides yet.
Jim Bowden did, as well the signing of Adam Dunn's prolific offense and terrible defense.
Clearly, Our Manager Manny Acta can only do so much with what he's been given. Joe Torre or Tommy LaSorda couldn't have done much better--if at all--with the same lineup. And to use Manny as a scapegoat for all that is wrong on the field for Our Washington Nationals would be a mistake in judgement. A "Forced" decision just to do anything--while providing no long-term stability to the development for Our Struggling Franchise.
If a manager decision is imminent, more thought needs to be put into the move than this Rosenthal rumor.
Remember, Manny has been nothing but respectful both on and off the field for Our Washington Nationals. He's treated everyone, fans included--with that same regard. Our Washington Nationals owe that same respect to Our Current Manager.
Keep Manny Acta is our wish tonight.
That and Our Best Wishes which we pass along to Josh Willingham and his family in the wake of a terrible tragedy.
Truly, this has been A Very Sullen Day--making tonight's game sort of meaningless.
Game Notes & Highlights
Manny made the right decision to take Jordan Zimmermann out after throwing 92 pitches in five innings. Precaution was necessary after the small scare earlier this week about JZ's elbow soreness. Our Number 27 is a strikeout pitcher, his pitch count was high. He left ahead in the game. And if Jason Bergmann hadn't pitched so poorly, no one would second guess Our Number 14's move to sit Jordan down. Zimmermann is our future for tomorrow--just not the winner of this one game this night.
Our Number 57 was shockingly awful. He said after the game he was worried about just throwing strikes and aiming the ball--not throwing HIS pitches. Was that ever costly--Bergmann faced just five batters in the key 6th frame. He allowed four hits, one walk, two home runs and five runs scored. His ERA ballooning to 6.91. Although you got to give him credit for standing up to the media after the game and taking personal blame for letting this game get out of hand. One of the reason's Sohna and I have always enjoyed him.
"The Human Rain Delay" relieved Jason and didn't fair much better in that bottom of the 6th. Jesus Colome allowing two more runs to score. Julian Tavarez was given Mop Up Duty for the 8th.
Our other "Zim"--the one with just one "N" at the end of his name--was the only other bright spot. Ryan Zimmerman slamming his 12th home run to dead center off Tampa Bay's Andy Sonnanstine in the top of the 1st. And knocked in Washington's second score of the evening when he grounded into a force out with the bases loaded in the top of the 3rd. Anderson Hernandez knocked two hits and scored Washington's last run of the game when The Rays' Gabe Gross committed a throwing error on a single by Nick Johnson in the 8th frame.
Finally, nearly the first hour of today's game was unable to be broadcast by MASN due to Fox Networks Major League Baseball Television Contract. A blackout is enforced until 7PM on Saturday Afternoons to give Fox exclusive rights for nationally televised games. With The Rays hosting a post-game concert at Tropicana Field with Ludicrous--tonight's game started at 6:08PM. MASN joined in progress at the top of the hour.
Tonight's InGame Photos--Brian Blanco (AP)