Friday, January 26, 2007

Our Starting Pitching & Fan Support


I agree with Tom Boswell's take that Our Washington Nationals may have underplayed their hand this past winter, when it comes to finding starting pitching in the Free Agent Market, but I don't necessarily agree with him that The Nats should have retained Ramon Ortiz and Tony Armas, Jr.

Boswell states, since Ortiz and Armas were the only other Nats Starters who won over 5 games last season, that alone, should qualify their status to remain in Washington and in the rotation. They weren't any good last year, why would he think these two would be any better in 2007? And, his mention of Pedro Astacio was even more stunning. Astacio was fairly terrible last season, except for one complete game start against Atlanta at RFK Stadium.

The object of the game is to move forward, maybe take a step back, to then move forward. Does Boswell really believe that Ortiz and Armas can help The Nationals improve? Or Astacio. I find that hard to believe.

There is no doubt I am worried that, once again, in 2007, by the 3rd inning, Washington will be down 5 runs and out of the game. Unfortunately, it looks like we are stuck with that prospect. Hopefully, someone will break out during the competition of Spring Training. Every year, there is always one player or two, on every team, that surprises.

At the same time, there is always one or two players you are depending on, that get injured or simply don't perform well.

Of the Nationals off season signings, I like Jerome Williams and Tim Redding, a lot. I also believe that Shawn Hill, if healthy, can be a very solid starter. The few games he pitched at RFK last season, were solid efforts. Only injuries are holding him back.

Nonetheless, I would take all three of these, and many others guys (37 pitchers & counting) coming to camp, over Ortiz, Armas & Astacio, any time. If we are going to be bad, I would rather see us lose trying something fresh, then going back to the leftovers. Leftovers are usually no fun.

Finally, Boswell does mention the possibility of fans turning their backs on the team, if the team is a bad as many expect this coming season. From asking around, I have got the impression that Season Ticket sales have not been as robust as expected, heading into the new ballpark in 2008. During the past week, there have only been 100 or so fans at each of the Caravan Stops in the DC Area---unlike last season when over 1500 people lined up at a restaurant in Pentagon City to meet and greet the players. 300 or more, showed up last season at a Modells for The Alternate Uniform Unveiling.

Its going to be an interesting final season at RFK Stadium. I certainly don't want it to look like this?


Anonymous said...

I don't think the Washington Metropolitan Area will turn its back on the Nats. The Nats will still draw around 2 million fans in 2007. I question the management in the Nationals front office. How many newspaper ads, radio spots, tv commercials have you seen promoting the upcoming season, much less this winter caravan? You know where I heard about the Monday gig at ESPNZone? By reading your blog. I wish I had been there, and I would have if it were promoted. I think Washington fans will be patient and wait for a winner, but the ownership needs to step up and reach out to the marginal fan.

Anonymous said...

I think Stan Kasten is over estimating the postive effect the new stadium will have on 2007 season ticket sales at RFK. I would not be surprised to see attendence drop another 20% or more for this upcoming season. Frankly, the Nats ownership is beginning to look and sound just like the O's. They seem to be doing everything they can to alienate their fan base.

Anonymous said...

Hardly a surprise to me that the caravan has been sparsely attended when the players involved are (1) Mike O'Connor and (2) Nook Logan, each of whom could easily be cut from the 40 man roster in the near future. I think it was Thom Loverro who said that the promotional efforts so far can't be distinguished from the days of league ownership, and he's right. The Nats are being run like a low-budget, small market team.

Boswell's point, though, misses the mark. There weren't any great free agent options this year -- the Nats can't attract the Schmidts and Zitos, and it isn't worth paying $5-10 million to the Meches and Redmans of the world when they will get close to comparable performance from the Williamses, Hanrahans and Hills already on board.

Boswell is right, however, that this area generaly will not support a "minor league" quality team, even one being built according to "plan". Just look at the Caps for Exhibit A.