Monday, April 30, 2007

More & More

UPDATE: Our Washington Nationals Designated D'Angelo Jimenez Today and Offically Recalled Kory Casto. Not Surprising in the least.
All spring long, the focus of Our Washington Nationals has rested nearly exclusively on The Starting Pitching. Game after Game during the first two weeks of the 2007 season, The Nationals never had a legitimate shot to win. Undependable Starting Pitching killing the team, putting Washington in early deficits, holes dug so deep, virtually no team in baseball could have clawed themselves out. Now, just as slowly as the weather has finally changed from bitter cold to expected spring warmth, Our Starting Pitching is warming up as well. More and More, Our Washington Nationals are competitive. Are they great?--by no means. But, they are better.

Shawn Hill has been Our Ace from the get go. Jason Bergmann has been a pleasant surprise. Matt Chico, a work in progress. Number 47 hangs in there though, even without his best stuff. Matt is making strides during his Major League ON THE JOB Training Program. Even Jerome Williams somehow pulled it out last Friday night against The Mets. Its a good thing he did, Jerome was heading to the Waiver Wire, now he's resting on The Disabled List. Only our supposed BEST PITCHER, John Patterson, has yet to show his expected promise.

And when your starting pitching holds up, MORE & MORE, the games become competitive. The closer the games, MORE & MORE, Our Manager Manny Acta must rely on strategy. Which ultimately means, MORE & MORE--Manny must rely on his bench players.

And, that's the subject of today's post.

MORE & MORE, Our Manager must realize--Our Washington Nationals DO NOT HAVE A BENCH.

On any given gameday, The Nationals bench players consist of Jesus Flores, Robert Fick, D'Angelo Jimenez, Josh Wilson and either Michael Restovich or Chris Snelling. That's it. That's Terrible.

Flores is a TERRIFIC YOUNG PLAYER. The Rule V Draftee must stay on The Major League Roster all year. That's fine with me. The more Jesus Plays, the better I like him. Number 3 is struggling at the plate, but is going to break out, sooner, rather than later. He just doesn't have experience.

After Jesus, those left sitting on the pine have been virtually unhelpful, some would say: USELESS.

No One to reliably trust to get a key hit. No One to provide Pop in the Bat for some late inning heroics. And, NOT A SINGLE PERSON THAT CAN BUNT. In fact, Jimenez and Wilson are not even trusted to play the field defensively. What kind of a bench is that? Would not even Bernie Castro be a better choice over Jimenez?

Our Manager, Manny Acta has few choices to counteract an opposing Manager's Moves. The Chess Match, so crucial to National League Baseball, is barely possible with Our Washington Nationals. Manny can ONLY HOPE Fick, Jimenez, Wilson, Restovich/Snelling or Flores can get the job done. So far this season, Manny Acta can only cross his fingers, wishing for luck, then long for a fluke. Not a way to Manage a Major League Team.

What a far cry from the first two season's of Nationals Baseball. Jamey Carroll, Ryan Church, Marlon Anderson, Daryle Ward, Brendan Harris, Marlon Byrd, Alex Escobar, Bernie Castro and, of course, Carlos Baerga (only because We LOVE CARLOS BAERGA in Section 320, the man provided so much enjoyment in 2005). Not any great players there, but some serviceable talent. Skill Frank Robinson could depend on late in the game to give Our Washington Nationals an opportunity to get back into or over the top in a tight match.

A Lost Moment Now, when Jimenez and Wilson are sent to the plate by Manny. Neither decent sticks. Fick, not much better. Number 13 can play first base decently, is the emergency third catcher--but has struggled MIGHTILY at the plate. Time and Time again early this season, Our Manager has sent Robert up to provide that veteran spark off the bench. He has failed, repeatedly--in the clutch.

Help may well be on the way though. Although the move is not official, some reports have Kory Casto joining The Nationals in San Diego tonight. No corresponding roster move. Cristian Guzman and Nook Logan are days away from returning. Jimenez has to be gone. Wilson next. "The Guz" & Logan, nor Casto are going to provide much power. But this trio does give Manny Acta maneuvering space late in games. Stratagem Our Manager has no power over currently.

Yeah, I understand a $35 Million Payroll limits growth possibilities off the bench, but it doesn't mean Our Washington Nationals progess is limited, right now. Ronnie Belliard would be a terrific platoon/late inning replacement if Guzman returns to short, FLop to second. Clearly, Cristian has to help also, not return to his 2005 form. Snelling is a helpful player, a gamer. Logan a perfect 4th Outfielder, late inning replacement. And, what in world has happened to ALEX ESCOBAR? The King Of Injury has disappeared off the radar screen for Our Washington Nationals. How is it possible for a player to dislocate his shoulder last September, AND STILL NOT BE ABLE TO THROW THE BASEBALL?

Alex Escobar is a FIVE TOOL TALENT, arguably one of the most thrilling players on The 2006 Version of The Nationals. If healthy, how decent would a Church, Escobar, Kearns outfield look? Logan, Snelling, Belliard, Flores and most likely still Fick off the bench. That's LIGHT YEARS from where we stand right now. And, I haven't even mentioned Nick Johnson, he's still a few months away.

More & More, I would LOVE TO SEE THAT BENCH. Manny might work miracles with THAT BENCH. Better Competitors, ready at a moments notice. WITH THAT BENCH, Our Washington Nationals would be a far better team, than today.


JayB said...

What harm is there in replacing Fick with a proven bat.

Remember we had Vidro and we are still paying part of his paycheck. He would have been a nice bat off the bench and I am sure he could have played 1B too.

Oh well to late for that and I understand we got pitchers for down the road but we should buy a bat and up the payrole to $37 Million and win some of these games.

Dream on with Guzman and Escobar. One does not want to play and one can't due to real injuries.

Chris Needham said...

Good post.

One thing to remember, though, is that if you take away the Hamburglar persona, Carlos Baerga was pretty worthless in '05, and that bench was pathetic. Tony Blanco led the team in PH ABs, and there were games that he was legitimately the best choice.

We got spoiled last year, as Daryle Ward had an incredible year.

Regardless of that, you're right about this year. 3/4 of them can't hit OR field. What's the point of them?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear Casto is being recalled. I really want to see a full season of him up in DC before I past judgement on whether or not he is a cornerstone in the OF.

Guzman should be cut, I rather Bowden eat whats left on his contract then play him. Belliard is hitting really well and I think if he keeps this up we could get a decent (3,4,5) starter for him in a trade.

Bernie Castro would be better then Wilson and Jimenez. They are terrible. What about Frank Diaz?? I thought he was supposed to have a good bat, is he big league ready?

I will say this and this might upset people but I really did think we should have traded Chad Cordero when we had the shot with Boston. He can not be blowing save (3 or 4) oppurtunies like that, esp since we arn't expected to win any games. I think we could have gotten Bowdens Willy Mo (I do not know why he loves him so much) for Chad.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Chris: The Baerga Comment WAS A JOKE. We just loved how he couldn't play anymore, definitely could not run and was error prone galore. What a sight on the ballfield.

And, its true. There is NO REASON for Jimenez and Wilson. There has got to be better players available even in The Nationals System. Why not give them a try?

JayB. Until we have a backup first baseman and a number 3 catcher, unfortunately, Fick Sticks. Those are the breaks of our current set up.

JayB said...

How about Gary Bennett at catcher/1st B.....we had him too and he is much better than Fick.....when does the bill come due for all these poor moves for Jimbo?

Screech's Best Friend said...

VCUKyle: Diaz is actually strugging in the minors. If there is any other outfielder that might get a call up, Abraham Nunez would be next. He almost made the team out of spring training as a 5th outfielder. They are going to stick with Cordero. They have to. No way they attempt to move him, on a down cycle. Remember every move this season is based on positioning for something else farther down the line. As frustrating as that might be for many, it is what The Nationals are giving us. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

For people to say NOW that the Nats should have moved Chad Cordero is a little much. I know it's Monday and everything...

Anonymous said...

SBF: What do you think about bringing up Tony Batista, a career .250 hitter with 219 home runs? He is hitting .282 with 2 homers out at Columbus. Sure beats Wilson or Fick or Jimenez when you are looking to drive one into the gap in the late innings. He certainly has the experience.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Batista to Jim Bowden represents VALUE. I have no doubt that Our General Manager is looking for the right opportunity to bring Tony Up. He was told at Spring Training he was an emergency opportunity option only. But, considering the lost pop off our bench, I would have to believe Batista is being considered as the ever changing makeup of Our Team Transforms. I would not be surprised to see him here, soon.

As a side note, during Spring Training, everyone, not just The African Queen and I, but EVERY SINGLE BEAT WRITER was STUNNED at how easy Tony Batista swung and knocked the ball out of the park during BATTING PRACTICE. It was impressive, and did not go unnoticed.

Despite his critics, Bowden does understand under valued journeyman and the opportunity for them to get hot, then trade them off for something of more value. Jimbo going to use him, to his best advantage. And, if that means bringing him up next week or next month, expect to see Tony Batista in a Nationals Uniform.

Good question by the way.

Anonymous said...

Thanks...Batista just hit HR #3 for Columbus tonite by the way.

Anonymous said...

Batista 3 for 3, now hitting .309 Regardless where he might play in the field, we need that bat in key pinch-hit situations.