Saturday, July 28, 2007

Where Are We Heading?

Where exactly are we heading?

Our General Manager Jim Bowden is creative, I will give him that. At a time that NO ONE, NOT ONE SINGLE MAJOR LEAGUE TEAM, wanted Dimitri Young--Bowden extended his hand, and it paid off for Our Washington Nationals. Similar success Our GM has had, first with Ronnie Belliard and again--with a make shift Starting Pitching Staff throughout 2007. Lost and looking for employment, not wanted players have found homes in Our Nation's Capital. So many now, the total makes up nearly half of the 25 man roster.

So, what does Jim Bowden do now? With the signing of Ronnie Belliard to a very team friendly two year contract earlier this week, and today's announcement of Dimitri's two year extension at $5 Million per year--where are Our Washington Nationals Heading? As much as I LOVE the Belliard Signing--exactly what does Young's signing say about The Future of Our Team?

Ronnie Belliard can help now, next year and by even being traded at a later date. Something I am not too sure about Dimitri Young. If Our Washington Nationals are a contending team, re-signing Our 2007 All Star is a NO BRAINER. He could help, starting and coming off the bench. Our Number 21 would be a HUGE THREAT OFF THE BENCH. But, Washington is not. Does Jimbo believe Nick Johnson may well not return?--Even in 2008 to form? Does Our General Manager believe Our Nats are closer to contending than many believe (that's a stretch, even for me)?

Has Jim Bowden come to realize the "RENT A PLAYERS" concept for the playoff run, by other contenders, is no longer the followed mantra in baseball. Have Major League Baseball Teams actually concluded that giving up your future--to "POSSIBLY" win now--is NEVER WORTH IT? And, has Bowden made a pre-emptive strike in order to make better business for Washington--farther down the road?

Its an interesting thought. Why else would Our Washington Nationals lock up two of their top tradeable commodities a few short days before the July 31st Trading Deadline--if something else was not up. Has Our GM Guaranteed both Belliard and Young ARE MOVABLE NOW, AS WELL AS THE FUTURE? Bowden possibly believing that was not the case before the past few days--when both were heading towards Free Agency come October 1st. As ahead of the game as Jimbo was in first singing these two to non-guaranteed contracts--Is he well ahead of his brethren again? This time getting a jump on an ever changing players market--dictated by EVER ESCALATING SALARIES?

Where exactly do these flurry of moves--unexpected on so many fronts--leave Our Washington Nationals? Are Our Washington Nationals a better team today? Or, are they better positioned for the future? Possibly Both? At a point in the 2007 Season when many fans lose interest towards a last place team--Our Team is becoming intriguing--with its off the field moves.

One of the most creative men in baseball has my mind wondering. Where are we heading? Jim Bowden has Peaked My Interest, Again. What exactly is he up too? Never, ever can I say, is Our General Manager UNINSPIRED OR BORING.

Of course, his direction had me thinking throughout tonight's game two of Washington's Doubleheader with The New York Mets.

Sohna and I were out running the weekend errands on Saturday Afternoon, so we did not have the opportunity to watch Our Washington Nationals 3-1 Lose to The New York Mets in the first game of today's double header. Although, we listened from time to time on the radio between stops.

But, this evening featured the Major League Debut of another Jim Bowden signee looking for an opportunity. Former 2nd Round Los Angeles Dodgers Draft Pick Joel Hanrahan received his BIG BREAK. Given up on by The Dodgers, Hanrahan has toiled a AAA Columbus all 2007 for Our Nationals waiting for his chance. Like everyone signed by Our General Manager, you can pretty guarantee you will, at least, get your chance.

So, was Joel Hanrahan good, or just lucky in the nightcap--at least until Carlos Delgado took him deep to tie this game up at 3 in the 6th? Cruising along before Delgado's opposite field blast--Hanrahan fell apart in just three hitters. Surprised I was that Our Manager left him in to face the dangerous Carlos with two outs in the 5th. All season long, Our Number 14 has taken young pitchers out of situations where they can lose, protecting a strong outing. Playing a Doubleheader is the only reason I can think of Manny Acta saving anybody in his bullpen. Although, an Off Day is coming Monday. Why not, All Hands On Deck?

Nonetheless, Joel Hanrahan pitched well. And, he even helped his own cause with his first Major League Hit, a triple--and first Major League Run scored. Our New Number 38 was better than expected. How much longer will he last? Really, its stunning to see how Our Starting Pitching is constantly in motion. So much so, that has anyone really thought or cared much about the status of John Patterson? He's not even mentioned anymore. By anyone, especially Our Nationals. Another sign of Our Team heading in a different direction.

A trend repeated of late with a ball game on the line--Big Jon Rauch called on to be Our Most Dependable Stopper in the 7th and 8th innings. Tonight, after D'Angelo Jimenez just flat out misplayed a popup over his shoulder and Ray King gave up a bloop single to right, "The Wookiee" was called on by Our Manager Manny Acta to stop the bleeding right then and there. With The Mets & Our Washington Nationals tied at three in the bottom of 7th--Our Number 51 was trusted to get the final out. A reliance not given to Ray King with the Pesky Jose Reyes at the plate. And, Rauch delivered--getting Jose to pop up down the left field line. A play that Ronnie Belliard made easily.

Our Number 10 also getting the key blow the very following inning. A two run double with two outs and the bases loaded off Aaron Heilman, right after Ryan Langerhans drove in Austin Kearns with a single in the hole to left field to put Washington up 4-3.. A game breaking hit that saw Nationals Third Base Coach Tim Tolman wave D'Angelo Jimenez home. A costly decision that resulted in Jimenez being thrown out twice tonight. The first instance on a play at third base. What in world was Tolman thinking? With three runs now in, during this top of the 8th, a 6-3 lead was not enough. And, Ryan Zimmerman was coming to the plate with runners on 2nd and 3rd. D'Angelo was out BY A MILE!! Just a bad decision by Tolman on this play. Why take the bat out of the hands of one of your BEST HITTERS--for a slim chance to score? If the next batter is most anyone else but Zimmerman--maybe send the runner. But, definitely, not in this case. Like Jason Bergmann in Philadelphia earlier this week, Tim Tolman made a questionable call. Being aggressive when your lineup has trouble scoring runs, I understand, and don't have any problem with. But, POOR DECISIONS, just to look aggressive--not smart.

Of course, Tolman's Baserunning Decision was the harbinger of things to come in the bottom of the 8th. Big Jon Rauch returned for the 8th and struggled mightily--unable to retire The Mets until two runners scored on four hits. And, when Shawn Green attempted to steal second base with two outs to get in scoring position--you had to feel Our Washington Nationals were going to blow the lead. Brian Schneider threw his toss to second base past Belliard at second base. A skipping throw that FLop amazingly let get past him--but did hustle to retrieve--keeping Green from scoring the tying run. A score that may well have happened even on a routine ground out, that followed, to Lopez at short by Ramon Castro. Felipe fielded to his left the baseball, wheeled completely around and hurried his throw to first base. The slow moving Castro was NOWHERE near the base. FLop threw the ball in the dirt. Thankfully, Tony Batista scooped his errant toss to keep the tying run from scoring. Batista smiled mightily on catching the ball. Lopez got lucky on a play he could have taken his time and thrown with more care. Felipe is one baffling player. At a time Our Washington Nationals have me puzzled over where they are heading, long term, FLop makes me wonder whether he even has his head in the game sometimes--especially recording a crucial out.

A Final Out that "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" was able to record in 1-2-3 fashion in the bottom of the 9th. Chad Cordero's 21st Save of The Season was completed without fanfare. Curly "W" Number 45 salvaged a split of Our Washington Nationals only doubleheader this season. With a Victory Sunday, Washington would complete a satisfying 4-3 roadtrip through Philadelphia and New York. Surprisingly, Our Nats also heading up in the standings. Now just three games behind The Florida Marlins, losers of 7 out of 10.

Young Photo--(AP) Manuel Balce Ceneta
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Ed Betz


An Briosca Mor said...

I like the signing of Dmitri. Some may say the price is too high, but look at it as $10.5M for three years, rather than $10M for two and it makes more sense. There is no reason to think Dmitri won't continue to hit for two more years, maybe not at his current level but still much better than most anyone else we have here now. Nick is a HUGE question mark heading into next year. Will he come back at all, and if he does will he be able to produce as he has in the past? If he can still produce, will he be able to do it for close to 162 games, or will he need frequent relief? If we hadn't re-signed Dmitri, we might well have found ourselves needing to pick up another player like Dmitri next year to fill in for Nick, and either having to overpay for a free agent, trade to get someone, or try to find another reclamation project and hope we get lucky again like we did this year with Dmitri. So why not keep the Dmitri we have already while we have the chance?

Likewise, I like the Belliard resigning. He comes to play, and next spring with Guzman back FLop won't be able to last very long if he doesn't get his act together more often than he does now. It will be interesting to see what happens with FLop if he goes to arbitration next winter as is probably likely. He's really not making much of a strong case for himself as he's performed so far this year, is he?

And as you point out, SBF, resigning either of these guys does not mean that they can't be traded down the line if a good deal presents itself. Their being locked up also makes it easier to think about trading other players if the opportunity arises. All in all, two smart moves by JimBo. All of this "who will be traded by the trade deadline?" hype every year is really way too overblown, if you ask me. The July 31 trade deadline is almost irrelevant, not nearly the life-changing date the media and most bloggers make it out to be.

Anonymous said...

Great Post as usual SBF!

I am so glad we are looking at things with a bit more critical eye and not just blindly following OUR Nats. I do appreciate the definition of a Fanatic (FAN) but I do not prescribe to the notion that this means blind support.

I think rather than Jimbo being so advanced in his thinking we are seeing him be late to the trend that started a few seasons ago with respect to Rent a players.

I am ever grateful that others are now seeing what I have seen on FLOP for over a year now. What others are saying now is a far cry from back in the spring when any negative view as seen as having an agenda and being part of a failed ownership group or a fired national employee (that was a truly surreal time in the life of this blog.)

I agree with you SBF. They have had a great year and it has been really interesting to watch yet they better not think this means they are close to be putting a good team on the field or that we as fans will be satisfied with something less.

We have paid our dues and I expect them to follow through with signing draftees and FA that are true building blocks and an not impressed by the short term bump of Young and Ronnie. I do think they are much better than 85% of what we have now though.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen any of the Phillies blogs re: John Lannan and Chase Utley?

The Phans have plunged to new depths of disgrace.

Brandon said...

We have to look and see how great a job Jim Bowden has done this year. Who would have guessed that Joel Harrahan would start in the Majors, that D. Young would be a Comeback Player of the Year, that R. Belliard would be a great asset. Then there is the rotation. The Nats now have a stockpile of starters. They may not have to sign a pitcher this offseason.
I think that Adam Dunn will be in Washington next year, playing at first till NJ is back to full strength(IF). Then he could move back to LF. Add some player, like a Young or Belliard, and next year the Nats could be contenders. I honstely think JimBo thinks the same thing

Anonymous said...

Let us keep in mind Jimbo is also responsible for bringing us no CF at all and togather with LF and RF Nats have the worst OF in Baseball.

paul said...

Look who leads the team in victories? The Wookie!