Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Current Free Agent List

I was looking over the current list of 143 Players that have officially filed for Free Agency. As I always do, I look for players that might seriously give Washington a shot. Players that could actually help the Washington Nationals over the next season or two, as Management attempts to rebuild the Farm System. And, as we all know, Pitching--Starting Pitching, is what Our Washington Nationals need the most.

The everyday starting lineup (assuming Nick Johnson can play from the get-go at Spring Training) is actually decent. Catcher Brian Schneider, First Baseman Johnson, Second Baseman Felipe Lopez, Shortstop Cristian Guzman, 3rd Baseman Ryan Zimmerman, Right Fielder Austin Kearns, Centerfield (for me) Alex Escobar, and either Alfonso Soriano (if he resigns) or Ryan Church in left. I just don't see Nook Logan making a go of it, full time. As fast as he can be with his speed, the man just can't hit, especially from the left side. Flop can lead off for Alfonso, he's not much of an RBI guy.

Off the bench, whether anyone likes it or not, Jose Vidro, will be back--its the only way he can become tradeable for something decent. Number 3 is insurance for Nick Johnson's recovery and Second Base, if Lopez does FLOP at his new position or Guzman reverts back to his terrible 2005 self. Brandon Harper has a legitimate shot at the backup catcher position. Bernie Castro either makes the team, as a backup infielder, or is cut loose.

I see no reason, to pick up any relief help. With Luis Ayala coming back from elbow surgery, I am content with what was developed over the last half of 2006. Chad Cordero is the closer. Jon Rauch will be back, hopefully in the 7th inning setup role and Ayala returning to his 8th inning set up, where he excelled for 4 seasons, for The Chief. Ryan Wagner, Saul Rivera, Micah Bowie all deserve their shots. Maybe even Chris Schroeder. And, if Jimbo wants to trade him for the 3rd consecutive season (maybe even setting a Major League Record again in 2007), LeftHander Mike (The Games Not official Until I Get In) Stanton has filed for free agency. Zechry Zinacola is on the fast track to the Majors after being drafted out of Arizona State last June. Jumping from Rookie Ball all the way to AA Harrisburg--closing out game after game along the way. Zinacola may well make the Big Club in 2007. Zinacola is worth watching.

That still leaves a few openings for everyday players, as well as, pitchers.

Scanning the list of everyday players, a few stand out, players with decent credentials, but not expensive signings. To me, I would be willing to get ahold of all the following players available for 2007 Spring Training.

Catcher Rod Barajas (Texas)--Decent Power, Throws out 33% of baserunners attempting to steal, knocks in runs. Doesn't walk much, the more he plays, the less he produces. Good situational player, perfect as a backup catching choice.

First Base--Daryle Ward (Atlanta)--The guy was terrific as a pinch hitter for the Nationals last season, could become even more valuable if Nick Johnson does not come back as planned. Frank Robinson, whom Daryle trashed upon being traded, is no longer here. Ward has got to see an opportunity once again to resurrect his career. Fan Favorite. Nothing to lose.

Infielder/outfielder--Mark DeRosa (Texas) Everday UtilityMan playing 2nd, 3rd, SS and Outfield. The Perfect Bench Player for so many reasons. Hits for power, average and knocks in runs. He's 31, late bloomer. I really like this guy.

Outfield--Jose Guillen (Washington)--I have been on Jose's Bandwagon for a long time. His ability to get hurt and come back way too soon, a direct link to his terrible 2006 season. Still, the man LOVED playing here, came to EVERY SINGLE Team signing event. If healthy, can be a MONSTER PLAYER. Jose has something to prove--Let him prove it in Washington.

Now--The Starting Pitching. My number one choice for signability and performance is Jason Marquis (St.Louis). Just look at the guys numbers, they are decent, doesn't walk alot of hitters, goes deep into games--still developing, 27 years old--and, except for Dontrelle Willis, is the finest hitting pitcher in the game. Exactly what the Nationals need. Easily our Number 2 starter, after John Patterson (If Healthy) if Jason is signed by the Nats.

Ted Lilly (Toronto)--Left Handed Version of Marquis, goes deep into games, can get hitters out, when it trouble. 30 Years old, the perfect stop gap pitcher to have on your staff for a few years. And, being a lefthander, tradeable for something very good, if doing well at the trading deadline.

As much as I like Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt--I just do not see them giving Washington a serious look--only to use the Nats to get a higher price somewhere else. Schmidt is looking for a winner. Zito might not be looking to go east.

There are two other fall backs available right now, in case Marquis or Lilly--or both, do not come here.

Adam Eaton (Texas)--Struggled with injuries after his trade from San Diego--yet can reach 97 MPH on his fastball, throw 4 quality pitches. His slider would be wonderful at RFK Stadium. Give Randy St.Claire Eaton and Adam may well reach the potential so many predicted for him, 5 years ago. Still, just 28--maybe the perfect RFK Pitcher available.

Gil Meche (Seattle)--A talented, yet never developed 28 year old. Promise, Promise and Promise, but always just a little short. Like Tony Armas, Jr, but at least Meche has never had a losing record in his MLB career. Another St.Claire project, does throw alot of innings. Something our Nats definitely need. Available cheap, you can bet on it.

I am also not against Brian Lawrence coming back from his torn labrum. If Lawrence resigns, its the least he could do for getting paid to provide absolutely no help in 2006.

Finally--He's is one of the most outstanding pitching talents in the game, yet, can never stay healthy. Arm injury after arm injury--back injury after back injury. Kerry Wood is available. If he wants a back loaded, incentive contract, always worth a shot. If not, sayonara.

Unless Our Nationals play so far over their heads that the team, once again, competes for the division title, a la the inaugural 2005 season, we are not going to win it next season. All the above players should be available for reasonable amounts of dollars. None are budget busters. Each can help Washington right now. Pitching killed the Nats in 2006--with a few of these potential free agent starters on the team, and plug in backup everyday players, whomever the new manager is, that new leader has a shot at .500 or above.

What do you say? Who do you Like? Who do you Not Like?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

5 Questions with Brandon from The Curly W

Late in the 2006 Baseball Season, Brandon & Ben over at The Curly W Blog started a Question & Answer Session with fellow bloggers from upcoming opponents of Our Washington Nationals. Before each new Series, Brandon, or Ben, would send five questions to a willing Opponents Blogger, and that person would answer 5 questions in return. Its made for enlightening information at times, finding out what diehard fans in other cities might actually think about The Nationals.

With the season now long over for the Nats, The Curly W guys have continued their weekly question and answer sessions by inviting fellow Nats Blogs to participate. Recently, the never dull and always exciting, Miss Chatter-from Just A Nats Fan, led off the first exchange. With, Farid, long lost Falls Church Fan, now, by way of Pocatello, Idaho, and producing the always informative The Beltway Boys batted second. I am proud to say that Brandon asked me to step into the 3rd spot in the batting order (The African Queen wanted to know whether this means I am as important as Ryan Zimmerman, usually hitting in that position?) and we exchanged not only our questions, but alot of other information. Brandon and I are both HUGE FANS OF RFK STADIUM!!

Leading off the barrage, I sent Brandon the following 5 questions plus a bonus round. You can read my answers to Brandon's questions at The Curly W, linked directly from this page--


SCREECH'sBESTFRIEND: With Our Washington Nationals set to move into their New Stadium on South Capitol Street in 2008 and knowing how much both you and Ben enjoy Lot 8 at RFK Stadium, arguably the greatest tailgate lot in American Sport, what are you two going to do on that last regularly scheduled game, currently set for September 23rd against the Mets? Will there be a ALL NIGHT CANDLELIGHT VIGIL?? Should I get The Stadium Authority to actually GIVE YOU TWO the Lot 8 Sign so proudly displayed on your site? I betcha I could make it happen.

BRANDON: Wow. You know, I hadn't even thought about it. It really hasn't sunk in that next season is the last season at RFK. It will be bittersweet for me...I feel like I "just got there" and I have tons of great memories in just two short years. If we can do some extended tailgating that day, it would be awesome. If you could actually score the Lot 8 sign...that would be amazing. My wife would probably not be so enthused, though. But you're right, we all have to get some serious Lot 8 action in next season.

SCREECH'sBESTFRIEND: Now, since you have started The CURLY R blog devoted to the Washington Redskins, which FANS WHINE THE MOST!! You must hear it from both sides, both good and bad. Whose fans have the least patience? Whose fans do you shake your head sometimes, amazed more, at their sometimes absurd comments?

BRANDON: The answer to this question will soon be a blog post of its own. Much to my surprise, there is (as far as I know) little to no overlap in readers of the two blogs. I had assumed that many Nats fans would be Redskins fans, but this doesn't seem to be true. At least, the people reading Curly W are not reading Curly R. The comments on both blogs are generally very intelligent and constructive. I guess I get more absurd and whining Nats comments...the Redskins are so messed up that their fans have moved beyond denial and anger and are now entrenched in resignation. That franchise will not be whole again until Daniel Snyder goes.

SCREECH'sBESTFRIEND: Nationals President Stan Kasten, always wanting to improve fan experience, comes to you and says, "Brandon, for One Day, you are my General Manager." Obviously there is only so much you could do, to trade, you need trading partners, but you might have some money to spend. What would you do? Who would you release, because you just can't stand the player, but knowing the financial responsibility that comes with that decision?

BRANDON: If I had money to spend I'd spend every cent on pitching depth. The Nats are pretty well set at the positions, and mid-season fill-ins can always be had. But a team is toast from the beginning without a pitching staff that can survive season-ending injuries to one or two members. The St. Louis Cardinals are in the World Series right now because they have a solid rotation. When Lawrence and Patterson went down there was no one to step up. That's what I'd change, and hopefully Bowden will too.

SCREECH'sBESTFRIEND: I believe you grew up in Cincinnati, if I gathered that right from a comment you made on the Nats320 Blog about RFK Stadium. The Reds have a Rich and Storied History, a solid fan base--drawing decent. In two seasons watching and talking Nationals Baseball, how does the Washington DC Fan Base compare in passion, knowledge and actually coming to the games to watch baseball and not talk away the evening?

BRANDON: I did grow up in Cincy, home to the first professional baseball team in 1869. DC fans are much, much more rabid than Reds fans. Downtown Cincinnati (where the Reds play) is otherwise a demilitarized zone, so Reds fans tend to roll down from the suburbs, watch the games, and go home. It's not like DC where people walk, drive and Metro in and spend time hanging out before and after games. I had the great opportunity to take my Dad to a game last summer (he still lives in Cincy) and he was amazed at how into the game the crowd was. The Cincinnati crowd is a lot like the crowd at Camden Yards...people clap when the JumboTron tells them to, but otherwise you hear crickets chirping. Without question, the Nationals has rekindled my nearly extinct love for baseball.

SCREECH'sBESTFRIEND: Obviously, I love sitting in Section 320, to me and everyone of our regulars, its the perfect place to watch a ballgame--25 rows from the field, under cover, out of the elements, behind the 3rd base dugout. There is not many other places I would like to sit at RFK Stadium. In the many games you have attended---is there a special seat or section in the park for you? One that says--"Yeah, I could sit here every single day and enjoy baseball, forever."

BRANDON: I have watched games in nearly every sector of the stadium and there really aren't many bad places to sit. I've always been fond of the 4-500 section right above home plate. The tickets aren't too expensive and the view of the field is great. Of course, I've had the chance to sit in one of the party suites on two different occasions and those are lots of fun if you're with a group of friends.

Bonus Question:

SCREECH'sBESTFRIEND: RFK Stadium Beers--Your Favorite or Favorites?? Are they normally Cold?

BRANDON: When I go to RFK, it's about quantity, not quality. I usually have several beers while tailgating in Lot 8, and by the time I make it into the park on a hot day those 16 oz. Buds are looking pretty good. I'd love to see Capitol City Brewing company selling its brews at the game; as I'm a huge fan of their beers. The beers are always cold if you buy from a roving vendor...you're pressing your luck if you get them from the tap.

This exchange has brought to my attention that there may be an even larger family of Nats Fans that enjoy each others company--sharing like experiences. In Section 320, we've had it going for 2 seasons now, but, the more and more I write the Nats320 Blog, I have found there exists a ton of others sharing that same feeling and excitement of Baseball In THE NATION's CAPITAL!! The Curly W Guys, Brandon and Ben, were the very first Nats Blog to recognize Nats320 and place a link on their sidebar. It was a BIG THRILL for me to see it on their site. So much so, I am sure, I emailed just about everyone involved in Section 320 to tell them about it-the day I first noticed the link.

What's great about all the different Nats Blogs are the various different takes, each and everyone of us, brings to the table. Everyone sees baseball just a little bit different than the next person, it makes for interesting reads, and conversations in the comment areas.

Brandon--Thanks again for inviting me to participate--I really enjoyed the opportunity!!.

Friday, October 27, 2006

2007 Season Tickets/Seat Rights Holders

Our Washington Nationals, without much fanfare, began taking deposits for NEW SEASON TICKET SALES for the 2007 season. What is interesting for current season ticket holders are some additional early benefits announced, all new for 2007.

Back on September 18, before the rescheduled home game versus The Atlanta Braves, The African Queen and I were invited to a sitdown, along with about 15 other Season Ticket Holders, with Team President, Stan Kasten, and many of his other right hand men/women involved in the Business side of The Nationals. The gist of the meeting was to gather, as much information as possible, concerning the fan experience at RFK Stadium and beyond. The meeting, turned, at times, into a "SELFISH FAN" Experience chat, most every single person, except the Queen and I, wanted to talk about, one thing and only one thing--"I WANT THE BEST SEATS IN THE HOUSE AT THE NEW STADIUM" Whining, moaning and weasling to get something they may not necessarily deserve.

You could tell Kasten and his associates where getting a little tired of the mood in the room. Finally, Sohna and I were able, ever so briefly, to get in some pointed fan experience questions--we felt would help EVERYBODY, not just our wants and needs. Quickly, we asked for cheaper parking, different choices on parking plans for season ticket holders (not just 81 games and nothing else, for those days when you come from work on the Metro--wasting a parking pass). More flexible return policies on unused tickets, the opportunity to see Nationals Batting Practice, Larger Team Store Discount, and for those ticket holders that come to virtually every single game--chances to meet players, Diamond Club Privleges, More Season Ticket Holder events---just to name a few. We, as Season Ticket Holders, have invested in Our Washington Nationals, for the long run-- and deserving of perks for that devotion.

Later, Sohna and I followed up with an email to management, emphasizing our points--adding a few more. And, it was answered-thoughfully, with an honest view and what could and could not be realistic.

On the Nationals.com website under 2007 Season Ticket Deposits, the opening salvo from that meeting and other Fan Focus Groups, The Nats state that there will be a Flexible Ticket Exchange Policy for unused seats, Bonus Coupons for additional seats to game, Pre-Sale Opportunity for Major Events, and, very important to us--Exclusive Season Ticket Holder Events. All of which, we are very pleased to see. I am sure more will follow.

Pubicly, in writing for the first time, the Nationals are beginning to state their policy on seating priority in the New Stadium, answering all those season ticket holders that kept hammering Mr. Kasten this past September. The statement says you must purchase 2007 Season Tickets to have seating priority for 2008 in the new stadium.

The website reads:" Secure your 2007 season tickets and guarantee seating priority for the Nationals new Ballpark opening in 2008! Deposits for 2007 season ticket plans are now being accepted. Coming soon, the Nationals will announce seating relocation process for Washington DC's New Ballpark, which gives priority to existing season ticket holders. This is your chance to lock in your spot today. Don't miss out -- enjoy the best seats and the biggest games at the lowest prices in 2007 and lock in your priority for 2008."

During that Fan Focus Group on September 18, Mr. Kasten stated, in total clarity--(paraphrasing here) Anyone who has been a Full Season Ticket Holder from the very beginning in 2005 and has remained a Full Season Ticket Holder for all 3 years at RFK, you are GUARANTEED to be allowed to sit, in virtually the EXACT SAME LOCATION in the new park. Then, those with 41 Game Plans will choose next, then 20 Game Plans, all by when you originally purchased your plans. 2006 and 2007 Season Ticket Holders and Plans will be added, in order. You also must remember, most of the Rich and Famous, and the Corporations, will now move to the Club Level Suites, freeing up alot of seats now taken in the lower bowl of RFK.

In Section 320, we are 25 rows from the field, behind the 3rd base dugout. Under this announcement, this will allow ALL OF US to stay in the exact same spot on South Capitol Street. Additionally, Mr. Kasten stated that everyone will receive a detailed brochure with a questionnaire asking for our desires in the new stadium--to stay where we basically sit, or move. At the same time, early next year, all of us will have access to a 3D Computer Graphic allowing viewing of exact seat locations/views on South Capitol Street.

I know there has been alot of speculation out there, many negative comments, concerning seating in the Nats New Stadium. From what I have been able to find out, in person, and in follow up commentary--it really looks to me, that The Washington Nationals are doing their best to make it work for everyone-fairly. The Nationals statements over the past few days, falls in line with everything Sohna and I were told personally. Will someone get angry and upset, because they feel they got screwed, you better believe it-its bound to happen. But, they do appear to be trying to work everything out. FOR EVERYONE.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tony Siegle

Sad I became, upon reading that Our Washington Nationals had informed Assistant General Manager, Tony Siegle, that his contract would not be renewed for 2007. Siegle, now 66 years old, has worked in baseball for over 40 years, in various capacities--always behind the scenes, important work, yet out of the spotlight.

Siegle's baseball career began in 1965 when, for the Houston Astros, Tony helped operate the, then, brand new, 8th Wonder of The World, The Astrodome. From there, on to the Phillies, scouting with the Brewers in 1970, eventually running Milwaukee's Farm System from 1975-1979 (developing Harvey's WallBangers). Becoming the Astros Assistant General Manager in 1982. Later meaningful front office positions with the Padres, Angels, Giants and Rockies. Always behind the scenes, never complaining, never being named General Manager of any franchise. Though, wherever he went, winning followed.

Siegle was asked by Commissioner Bud Selig, to come on board the sinking Montreal Expos ship in 2002 as MLB was in the process of contracting the team. As Assistant General Manager, Tony was involved in all contract negotiations with all the players, known for his knowledge of the most arcane rules of baseball. Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga and Washington Times beat reporter Mark Zuckerman always turn to Tony for the details, the rulings.

When the Expos were traveling all over Canada, The United States and Puerto Rico in MLB's efforts to drain every last penny out of the franchise, it was Tony Siegle that made those difficult travel decisions work. At Hiram Bithorn Stadium, the Puerto Rican facility the Expos called home for parts of two seasons, it was mostly Siegle, on hand, pushing the works crews, to make it all happen, as seamlessly as possible.

Although Tony Taveres got a tremendous amount of credit for executing the transfer of the Montreal Expos to Washington, to play that infamous first game at RFK on April 14, 2005 (and deservedly so), it was Tony Siegle, there by his side, working in the trailers, outside of RFK, while renovations took place, getting the teams players signed, helping a new staff, moving the reconstruction of the stadium along.

For the past two seasons, Siegle has been with The Nationals on virtually every single road trip, representing the team, being there to work out any difficulties that might arise. The "GO TO" Man. The Answer Man.

Yesterday, Assistant Vice President and General Manager, Jim Bowden, informed Tony Siegle that his services were no longer needed--too many cooks in the kitchen seemed to be the reason. A crowded front office, filled now by Jimbo hires: Bob Boone, Jose Rijo, Jose Cardenal, Barry Larkin, Mike Rizzo, Andy Dunn, Bill Singer. Siegle apparently not in the Bowden inner circle.

That's really too bad. For all Siegle went through, truly helping make the Montreal Expos and then Our Washington Nationals a viable franchise, he should not be shown the door so unceremoniously. There may be too many cooks in the kitchen, but, I believe, we showed the wrong cook the door.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Managerial Situation

For the most part, I have stayed out of the fray over the Nationals ongoing search for a new manager. I jumped in back on October 6th, getting a kick out of SenatorNat predicting that Washington would interview Terry Pendleton for the job--well before it became public. I stated in that post, even if Pendleton was not the eventual hire, it was a good sign, that both Stan Kasten and Jim Bowden are looking "outside the box"-- for new talent, not recycled "good baseball" men.

Since that first week in October, Lou Piniella signed on with the Cubs, Joe Girardi backed out, citing family-- Joey Cora and Cecil Cooper were told, they would not get the job. Davey Johnson is not being considered. Dusty Baker publicly wants the job, but has not heard anything. And now, Pendleton has also backed out of the situation.

All those development are OK WITH ME. Being the diehard fan that I am, I read everything, and I mean EVERYTHING about Our Washington Nationals each and every day. Whether its the main stream Washington Post, Times, Nationals.com, ESPN.com/MLB, Rotoworld,WTOP, and, most importantly, every single NATS BLOG. Every Single Day--EVERY SINGLE ONE. Everyone's angles and takes on ALL THINGS NATS is always interesting to me.
What has got me fired up, is the ongoing SNIPING and BITCHING, all over the place, about the Nationals hiring process for that new Manager. Calling Stan Kasten incompetent and cheap for not hiring Expensive Available Talent like Piniella, Girardi, Baker and Buck Showalter. On one blog, the host was challenged as being a racist, when he noted that the final KNOWN candidates are all minorities and that The Nationals are just looking to please folks after letting Frank Robinson go.

This has got to stop. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, that's what our country is all about, but we really don't know what is going on. And, as I commented, on FARID's The Beltway Boys--Stan Kasten and Jim Bowden are in a Win-Win Situation right now. Our Washington Nationals are not going to win anything next year, possibly not even when the new Stadium is scheduled to open in 2008, as they are developing, evaluating and finding even more talent--Kasten and Bowden may get lucky, find a fresh young face that can grow with our young team. But, even if they are wrong, or it doesn't work out, it will not matter. The talent will continue to mature, and if management feels its necessary, then, go out and find that perfect manager that can bring the horses home--in first place. Look what happened to the Detroit Tigers. Alan Trammel was given the job to nurture a floundering franchise with good young talent. Jim Leyland took them to the World Series. This happens all the time.

Clearly in the past, I have stated, time and time again, I am not a big fan of Jim Bowden. Others could have done a far better job with our limited resources, but Stan Kasten has been nothing short of a GODSEND to this franchise, thus far. Hands on in everyway--just ask anyone in Section 320 how Mr. Kasten personally has come to our section to take care of some situations. Making sure everyone is happy. At RFK during games, that man is all over the place, wanting to make everything worthwhile, despite all of RFK's shortcomings, for every single fan. A tireless worker that, from my perspective, wants to get it right, even if its not during yours, mine, or anyone else's timeframe.

I apologize for the rant, its something that I thought I would never do, but, I truly believe everything will turn out OK, in the long run. Our Nationals don't need to waste $5 million per season for a manager of a developing team. Use that on Alfonso Soriano, or a Starting Pitcher--so we have something to cheer for in 2007.

Despite all our personal knowledge of baseball and what we feel is right or not, none of us has actually run a franchise. Stan Kasten has, and successfully, for many seasons. Give the man a chance.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Always Looking At What You Can't Do

Harper over at Oleanders and Morning Glories (http://all-baseball.com/oleanders) noted the other day that Rick Short, the 2005 Inaugural National, finally making it to the Big Leagues after over 10 seasons of Minor League Ball, was a player he missed in 2006. Sold by Jim Bowden to the Rakuten Golden Eagles, playing in the Pacific League of Japan's Major Leagues, Rick finished 3rd in batting in 2006.

This lead to a couple of comments back and forth between us about a problem, we both have seen when it comes to evaluating talent for Our Washington Nationals. I stated:

"Rick Short was a fun player to watch, because everyone in the stands could relate to him. Journeyman player, hanging on, for that one last chance to reach a long awaited goal. Never giving up. Succeeding by reaching the Major Leagues, playing for The Inaugural Washington Nationals. The Nats doing what they have always done in their first 2 seasons, bitching about what he CAN'T DO, never looking at what a terrific hitter, with some pop in the bat, he really provided. Same could be said about Church, Carroll, even Endy Chavez. Its a management problem. Too bad."

Harper replied:

"That's pretty much deadon. The Nats don't maximize their assets.
Rather than: What do you do well -> Can we use it?
They think: What would we like to have -> Can you fit into that?
Sure a speedy, great-fielding CF with a high OBP would be great to have, but it would serve us better to use decent players in that spot till we get someone we feel is a pretty good chance of filling that description, rather than toss failing player after failing player into a role hoping that something eventually will stick."

Harper makes a great point. Why are the Nats always looking to put that square peg into the round hole. Never does it seem that players evaluations are based on what assets those players bring to the table.

Jamey Carroll was run out of town by Jimbo, because Bowden could never see what Jamey provided--consistency, competence--a winning, professional attitude. Something that Frank Robinson had seen for 4 years, throughout 3 years in Montreal and the Inaugural 2005 season. During 2005, Both Frank and Jimbo kept on giving it to Tomo Ohka--always bitching about him not throwing enough strikes-always Frank yanked him early from games. Ohka had a 3.33 ERA and was just recovering from breaking his arm in June, 2004 on a line drive hit in a game against the Kansas City Royals. Yet, Tomo was an effective hurler, and when he showed up Frank, turning his back to Robinson when being taken out of a game at RFK that first season in Washington--that was it--thrown overboard for basically nothing--Junior Spivey.

Both Carroll and Ohka had respectable years for Colorado and Milwaukee, respectively in 2006.

Obviously, I have always been in Ryan Church's corner. He can't hit a curve ball, even when he knows its coming, but that doesn't take away from his talent. Hits better and with more power, from the left side of the plate--yet Frank rarely played Church against lefties. Does not have the speed to be an everyday centerfielder. But, catches the ball well, decent corner outfielder. Yet, the Nationals never seem to realize his power potential and projected stats laid out over a full season. Always messing with his mind, you have to wonder what the Nats might have on him personally. When he messes up a defensive play in center, sent right to the bench for the next 5-7 games. Church has talent, lets see, once and for all, whether he can do it. If not, cut bait after 2007.

Never was much of an Endy Chavez fan, yet, all that Bowden and Frank could see in him was that he was not Juan Pierre, Jose Reyes, Johnny Damon--heck, he wasn't even David Eckstein. All Management wanted him to do was walk, take a pitch, do not provide anything Chavez did well. . Endy was a decent outfielder, could steal bases, when he did get on, he just was not consistent yet--and the light bulb never came on in his head until after he was traded to Philadelphia for Marlon Byrd, released by the Phillies for terrible play, and picked up by a talented, veteran Mets team, that needed him as a 4th outfielder. No pressure. Just do what you do best. Endy did, and had a terrific 2006 campaign. You just know, that Nook Logan is next.

Frank really didn't trust Marlon Anderson in the outfield, yet when traded to the Dodgers at the August 31st, trading deadline, immediately became Los Angeles' starting leftfielder, blasting 7 Home Runs, hitting .375 in 25 games. As the 2006 season progressed, I came to enjoy Anderson more and more, he was feeling at home, becoming a useful player. I understood the trade, but it really makes you wonder about management decisions.

There are a couple other Nats players over the past 2 seasons that never were given a decent chance, yet seem to be prospering elsewhere: Darrell Rasner--pitching, and pitching well, with the Yankees; Brendan Harris-thrown into the Big Cincinnati trade. Harris never did anything wrong for the Nats, just never played enough to prove himself. Never understood what the Nationals thought was wrong with Harris' Game- great arm, fielded well, had some pop in his bat.

Rick Short could flat out hit. He may well have been a liability in the field, yet how many times have you been watching the Nationals, attempting to rally, late in a game, bases full of runners, yet we just don't have that slap hitter, that always gets his bat on the ball knocking it into play. Short could provide that stroke.

Ours Nationals have a way to go, before becoming competitive, but that should not take away from always emphasizing the negative aspects of any players talent. If Albert Pujols was in the Nats Minor League System, would someone complain he can't field? So he's not worth keeping. Carlos Lee? You could minimize, wrongly, just about every power hitter in the game. It took Johan Santana nearly 4 years, at the Major League Level, to develop confidence in his SERIOUS STUFF. For the past 3 seasons, he's been nothing short of terrific. Do you think The Nationals would be so patient. I tend to doubt it, so far.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

New Nats Stadium & The Naming Rights

I am not a big fan of Corporate Names on Sports Facilities. Whether its FEDEX Field, M&T Bank Stadium or Verizon Center, never does a Stadium name push me toward that company's product. PETCO PARK in San Diego, I laughed to no end when I first heard about the Padres New Stadium. That's a tremendous amount of pet treats to sell, if you are going to make your sponsorship fee back on the naming rights. Really, deep down, DO THESE CORPORATIONS REALLY BELIEVE IT HELPS THEIR IMAGE AND BOTTOM DOLLAR?? Everyone I know, can't stand those corporate names.

How many times has Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami changed names? Candlestick Park in San Francisco? Even M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore was, at one time, PSINET.com Stadium. My favorite baseball park, that beautiful structure built in China Basin--at 24 Willie Mays Place, The Home Of The San Francisco Giants, started as PacBell Park, then SBC Park and now AT&T Park. Its ridiculous!!

Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Camden Yards, far more preferable to me. Those four ball parks evoke MEMORIES for me. Even Giants Stadium is better for me than that awful place in Landover, Maryland. Can you think of anything memorable from Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina? How about Citizen Bank Park in Philadelphia?? or Wachovia Center, right across the street, that was First Union Center Originally. Its just plain STUPID!!
Dodger Stadium--Now if someone says that name to me, I could talk all night about Koufax's Perfect Game, Vin Scully, Tommy LaSorda--it goes on and on. Why do the Cleveland Browns, still call their new Stadium, Cleveland Browns Stadium? Because Ownership realized, in the long run, Fans--the people who mean the most, in the long run--will recall fondly, moments of watching their favorite team, in their own named stadium. Its a natural fit.

Yet, it concerns me to no end that The Lerner Group will go THE CORPORATE WAY and find a sponsor for 20 some odd years to put their name on the new stadium being built on South Capitol Street. I could live with Nats Parks, but I realize that is not going to happen. Going the corporate way, In a Just World, either Walgreens Drug Store, that uses the EXACT SAME CURLY "W" would sponsor the Field, or Wegmans Grocery Store, which uses a modified Curly "W". Then, We could all call it "CURLY W" Field, Park or Stadium.

If that doesn't work, there is only one other corporate choice for me. The Nats New Stadium is being built within spitting distance of the Washington Navy Yard. If the teenage, young adult clothier, Old Navy, really had a sense of spirit--they would be contacting the Lerner's RIGHT NOW, and signing on for "THE OLD NAVY YARD".

I could live with that name for the rest of my life. Perfect, in so many ways. The Corporate Sponsorship is put away to rest, still allowing a sense of history, and, at the same time, The Nationals are able to incorporate the military, a staple of life for all of us in THE NATION'S CAPITAL!! The fit is so perfect, I just can't image someone involved with the Nats and Old Navy not already talking about this marriage.

We certainty can't have the Federal Government sponsoring the New Park. Then, during every changeover in administrations, someone would want to change the Parks Name for some Great Republican or Democrat. Of course, we all know, the Republicans would, right away, call the stadium--Ronald Reagan Field. It would be about the 1,000th building named after the Former President. There never seems to be enough things for Republicans to rename after "THE GIPPER".

Curly "W" Field or Old Navy Yard--what could be better?