Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Odds & Ends For The Holiday Season

With Calendar Year 2008 just around the corner--the beginning of Spring Training in just 7 Weeks--some questions and thoughts are on my mind as 2007 comes to a close.

Like--What EXACTLY is the status of Charlie Slowes? Neither Our Washington Nationals or Charlie have said ONE WORD--which I take as a professional approach to negotiating. But, I am still worried. Any further delay in getting Charlie resigned and in the broadcast booth with Dave Jageler--better be a routine matter of just getting the contract signed. After three years of hearing that man GIVE HIS ALL on Nats Broadcasts--its only right that Charlie return for New Nationals Park--calling Washington Baseball Games--no one elses.

Although some within Our Washington Nationals mentioned to me that FanFest or The Winter Caravan--whatever is the final wording--will be scaled back for 2008 due to the push to get New Nationals Park ready for Opening Night--can we please get some details on what will occur? If there is ONE EVENT any baseball fan wishes to attend during the off season--THIS IS IT!! What Baseball Fan doesn't want to meet and greet, Players, Coaches & Managers? Please, just make it so--give up some dates--so plans can be made.

Opening Night March 30th--Sohna and I vividly recall the VERY FIRST GAME Our Washington Nationals EVER PLAYED at RFK STADIUM. The March 30th, 2005 Exhibition Game against The New York Mets. The TEMPERATURE WAS FRIGID!! Maybe that Holiday Card Washington sent to all Season Ticket Holders showing a Snowball transforming into a Baseball--was a Harbinger of things to come? Remember last April, 2007? Below 40 Degrees most every night game. One evening--it actually snowed against The Braves. We understand the importance of The March 30th Date to Showcase New Nationals Park and The African Queen and I support the effort. But, the weather that evening may be more akin to A Redskins Football Game.

The Weekday Afternoon Getaway Baseball Games will be at the minimum for 2008. Personally, I am sorry to see them curtailed. There is just something special about watching a Major League Baseball Game when you KNOW--everybody else is working at their day jobs. Others may not feel that way--but Sohna and I really LOVED THOSE WEEKDAY DAY GAMES--consistently the most entertaining games. Besides, NO ONE wants to lose the last game of any series. They were FUN!! Hopefully, Weekday Getaway Games return more in 2009--once the Parking and Traffic Situation pans out at New Nationals Park.

Speaking of start times--not all weekday games will begin at 7:35PM--as was mentioned a few months back--just the Friday Night Games. Monday through Thursday ball games will begin on South Capitol Street at 7:10PM--just five minutes later than the previous three seasons at RFK Stadium. Those times all work for me. Monday through Thursday--I am usually working the following day--the earlier start helps on those dates. Friday Nights--most always not working on Saturday. The 7:35PM start will allow The African Queen and I to enjoy New Nationals Park more thoroughly at least once--each home stand--without rushing to our seats.

As he did in 2006--Our General Manager is building a Bench for Manny Acta you would expect to see more on a Contender. Jim Bowden has assembled some good talent that Our Manager can maneuver with--late in games. Depending on who starts--Aaron Boone, Dmitri Young (or Nick Johnson), one of Flop, The Guz and Ronnie Belliard. Rob Mackowiak, Ryan Langerhans, Jesus Flores and one of either Elijah Dukes, Wily Mo Pena or Lastings Milledge--all might be available off the bench. That sure beats Robert Fick and D'angelo Jimenez as Manny's first choices. More importantly--these parts are all interchangeable. Flexibility is important off the bench. Our Washington Nationals should be pretty respectable in close games--now that The Bullpen may not have to carry THE ENTIRE LOAD--and worry that giving up EVEN JUST ONE RUN--means the ball game is lost.

And no--I am still not sold over Dukes. But, as mentioned before--Sohna and I won't just turn our backs on someone. Yet, Elijah has to prove himself--both on and off the field--for an extended period of time--to be accepted. We still think that's fair.

Having been so busy leading up to The Holidays--I don't recall Paul LoDuca having spoken publicly about his implication in The Mitchell Report. I am curious to see how he handles everything now. Really, Paul LoDuca can ONLY WIN if he shows up in DC and has a solid season in 2008. Anything less and the public will only see, in him, another Major League Player that fooled every fan in previous seasons.

At the same time--I remember reading Tommy Glavine raving about working with LoDuca behind the plate in a recent article. Yet, not one other of his former teammates for The Mets--made similar gestures. In fact--many New York players were quoted in various New York Newspapers last week--how they were looking forward to the quality and stability Brian Schneider will bring to their catching situation and pitching staff in Queens. Interesting. On a young staff--I would still take Schneider--even before Steroid Issue arose with LoDuca. But, there is nothing more that can be done about that fact now. Even I realize--time to move on.

And speaking of The Pitching Staff--I like that Tyler Clippard trade for Jonathan Abeladejo. Never heard of Clippard before the trade--but whenever ANY TEAM can pick up a potential young starter for a reliever---a replaceable bullpen man that Washington picked up for free from The Pittsburgh Pirates--you gotta appreciate the ability of Jimbo to broker such a deal. As Our General Manager--Jim Bowden has been consistently good at picking up lesser known talent from other organizations, for little--and succeeding with them. His Owners--The Lerners--must love the fact that he picks up talent while reducing payroll.

Eventually though--that Payroll will have to rise--when Our Washington Nationals become an ESTABLISHED TEAM--hopefully sooner than everyone thinks.

Happy to see John Patterson offered a contract. Washington has NOTHING TO LOSE by resigning him. JP is needed in The Starting Rotation. And after meeting him last spring in Viera, Florida--Garrett Mock intrigues me as MY DARK HORSE FAVORITE for the 2008 Rotation. Injuries have hampered his development over the past two seasons--but remember--Mock was THE TOP PLAYER traded for Livan Hernandez in August, 2006. Matt Chico may well be more polished now--but Garrett may well be the more explosively talented.

"The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" seems to be back for 2008. All the rumors surrounding The Winter Meetings--named that Chad Cordero was sure to exit Washington, DC before Christmas Day. But, why should Jim Bowden trade him--just to trade him? Our Number 32 has value--on the field--at the conclusion of every tight ballgame. Despite his many "Cardiac" Efforts--113 Saves as a member of Our Washington Nationals--is not chump change--in anybody's league.

Finally--a more solid overall team appears on the horizon for Our Washington Nationals in 2008. Maybe not as fan friendly and warm, but certainly more offensively minded--especially in the outfield. If Nick Johnson REALLY is finally turning the corner in rehab--what a nice bonus to see Our Ultimate Team Player return healthy and ready to play ball for 2008. Milledge, Zimmerman, Johnson, Young, Kearns, Pena (Maybe Dukes), there's some pop in those bats. And, I can live with Cristian Guzman at short and Belliard at second for one more season. Felipe Lopez still needs to get his act together though. Overall--No--that's not a bad team--on the baseball diamond.

Those are just a few Odds & Ends on my mind about Our Washington Nationals--this Holiday Season.

PS--Now To The Important Stuff--Sometimes the simplest things are THE BEST! The African Queen came up with "Curly W" Bedroom Slippers for Christmas--as a Stocking Stuffer. Now--That's COOL!! Unexpected and Very Sweet!! Sohna gets some HUGE POINTS for this one!! And I thought I HAD EVERYTHING--A NATS FAN COULD POSSIBLY WEAR!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post SBF,

Starting pitching is the issue for this team. At best, JP, Hill and Bergman together will be filling a single spot in the rotation, given their history with injury. Lannan, Chico and Basick are just about the same and at best make up a single #5 starter, pitching them any more than that would spell another season of Bull Pen arms being burned up with risk of injury. Mock might be serviceable as a #4 but that leaves us with big holes at the front of the rotation still.

Nats need to find some short term solutions for the front half of the rotation. If they must over pay for one or two year contracts then so be it. Bringing in Livo and someone else would not block any of the young pitchers development and would allow the bull pen to be used in a way that does not shorten careers of our most tradable assets.

I am not going to accept this years version of the claim that nobody was available at a reasonable price as I look over my season ticket invoice. Enough with the excuses as given last year with respect to the bench when FO defended lack of talent with claims that nobody better was available (than Fick?!). Players cost what they cost and this team needs starting pitching real bad.

Sure in a perfect world JP and Hill and Bergman would all be healthy and reach their potential this year..........and pigs would fly too!

paul said...

I too am concerned about Charlie Slowes's status. Please, Mr. Lerner, during this Festivus season, grant us this wish of Charlie safely in the fold.

I agree the team looks better on paper, or from a fantasy or stats point of view. How could they not? I'm just hoping that Loduca can handle the pitching staff half as well as Schneider, and that the new outfielders help make their teammates better as well. Hope springs eternal.

Nice slippers, ny the way. I am picturing SBF's house, with Nats insignias everywhere--on the lightswitch plates, the lamps, oven mitts, trash baskets, toilet seat covers. What is his screen saver, I wonder--Screech himself?

Screech's Best Friend said...

Anonymous--I also would love to see Livan Hernandez back in fold. He is pure entertainment and an innings eater as well. Starting Pitching is still a concern too--buying someone short term will not hurt long term development.

Paul--And, Curly W Curtains TOO!!! No--That's just a nice fantasy on our house. The African Queen does restrict Nats Stuff to One Area Of Our Home though--too bad.

As for The Screen Saver--Its a special picture of Sohna and I lounging on the beach in Fiji. But, I am WEARING A CURLY "W" Speedo!! (which makes everything official.)

Anonymous said...


Another great post. Thanks to you we fans get the information we need; for some reason the Nats official website does not give us that information.

I have to laugh that the Nats are going to do a "scaled down" version of last year's winter caravan. How could it be any more scaled down than last seasons? The few people they did get - O'Connor, Logan and at some stops Zimmerman - were all local. Logan is gone (thankfully I might add) and no one is coming out for O'Connor (been there, done that). I have a feeling this year's Caravan will consist of Screech, Screech and only Screech.

It broke my heart to see the Mets website with a smiling Brian Schnieder on 5th Avenue holding up his new Mets jersey. The trade had not sunk in with me until I saw that picture. In my opinion, no one personified the Nats better than Schnieder.

Anonymous said...

When people talk about the 2008 starting rotation, the name of Tim Redding seems to be missing? Why? Was he released? He was certainly a pleasant surprise in 2007.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Jim: Redding is definitely back. I just believe many believe that better is available for the short term.

Anonymous said...

Hey, those slippers look awfully familar ;)

My favorite gift is a Ryan Zimmerman signing day collage made up of tiny pictures from the Nats' first year in Washington. #4 of 25.