Thursday, May 22, 2008


There comes a time when "Potential" has surpassed any player. And the colossal struggles of Wily Mo Pena immediately come to my mind. Originally a New York Yankee--Wily Mo was hotly pursued by Our General Manager Jim Bowden--when JimBo was the GM of The Cincinnati Reds. For a couple of years--Pena had some decent--if unspectacular years as an outfielder with The Reds. Eventually, he moved on to The Boston Red Sox--where he first played well--but eventually languished on the bench for The BoSox. Now--Wily Mo Pena finds himself a member of Our Washington Nationals.

Never has Wily Mo Pena earned a starting spot for any consistent period of time--during any point in his Major League Career.

And easily, Our Number 26 has been one of the most disappointing players so far in 2008.

Looking lost at the plate--Pena is receiving off speed pitch, after off speed pitch. Not a single pitcher has challenged him with a fastball. A pitch that--if Wily Mo connected on--could well end up in The Red Loft Bar in Left Centerfield at New Nationals Park. Of course, each opposing pitcher does not have to throw him their heater--as Pena is getting himself out--expanding the strike zone and swinging at everything. Wily Mo Pena has no plate discipline.

Which always bring up one of two questions--whether he is coachable or not receiving the proper coaching? That may be a thought for another day.

But, after 30 games this season and 91 At-Bats, Our Number 26 has not hit one single home run. As powerful and strong as Wily Mo is--that's pretty hard to believe. Being a 2 O'Clock Hitter (as my Dad always called batters that hit well in Batting Practice, but flailed in the game), Pena has been--mostly--an automatic out with runners in scoring position.

Simply--Wily Mo Pena is not helping Our Washington Nationals.

So, how long should Our Washington Nationals keep Wily Mo Pena in the lineup?

When should Our Washington Nationals decide that Wily Mo Pena is more of a deficit--than advantage in the lineup?

At what point should Our Washington Nationals cut bait with Wily Mo Pena--if he doesn't turn his season--and ultimately his career--around?

That time certainly appears to be coming fast.

Clearly--Wily Mo Pena is a below average outfielder. If he slugged 40 Homers and knocked in 100 or more runs--no one would probably care about his fielding. Unfortunately, since Our Number 26's struggles at the plate have been so great--his field work has been magnified--to his detriment. As someone once told me: "I learned early on--never to fall in love with my stocks. And the same holds true for baseball players."

I have never fallen in love with Wily Mo Pena. And Our Washington Nationals should not fall in Love with his "Potential" any longer.

There are better options.

Sorry Wily Mo--Nothing Personal.

PS--Give me credit, I just wrote an entire piece about Our Starting Leftfielder having a terrible season and I did not once, until now, mention My Main Man!!--as tempting as that may be. But even I realize--Ryan Church is perfectly situated in a New York Mets Lineup--behind Jose Reyes and in front of David Wright--that gives him the power to just be himself. And what a season Our Former Number 19 is having--being in a position--where he does not have to be The Mets "Main Man!!" In fact, possibly, Ryan Church is having an All-Star Season. And I am happy for him.


Anonymous said...

I agree! And miss Ryan also. Thank you for saying it!

Anonymous said...

Wily Mo is coming back from injury and was hurt during Spring Training you should give him a chance as Manny says he needs 500 ABs.

Anonymous said...

SBF I know this one's been weighing on you for a while because you're not quick to criticize.

Sadly, I think cutting bait on Wily Mo would be an easier decision if the rest of the outfield weren't playing just as badly.

Where to begin? The Nationals' most established and best defensive outfielder is on the DL and having the worst season of his career.

The sure-thing talent acquired in trade for Church is batting .241 with one home run and 34 strikeouts.

The new 4th outfielder and allegedly biggest raw talent on the team is slugging (gasp) .100!

The two 30-something veteran left-handed backups signed in the off-season are batting .170 and .171, respectively.

Down at AAA Columbus, it's Ryan Langerhans and Kory Casto. I'm not sure I'm doing much for the future of the Nationals by bringing either of those guys up.

I mean, this is like an outfield horror movie.

So with Wily Mo still only 26 and with only 90 at bats this year, do you give him a little more time, or do take a flyer on Alex Escobar again (though I think he may still be injured) or do you reach down to AA and bring up Justin Maxwell?

Anonymous said...

Props for levying some criticism of the team. I agree with you that its good to stay positive, but I think you are foolish to leave the coaching issue to another day. IF it is a matter of coaching which im not saying it is, then the coach should be taken to task. By putting this squarely on wily mo's shoulders you are ignoring the thornier Harris issue, which extends beyond Pena and on to Dukes, Kearns, Milledge, and our DLed catchers.

Anonymous said...

Everyone can predict the outcome when Pena comes to bat. Low outside breaking balls off the plate and Pena bending at the waist to reach for it. That image is burnt into my mind. He simply does not seem to have the skill to recognize and react to the pitch.

At this point when Pena comes to bat, I usually evaluate if it is a good time to head to the men's room and beat the crowd. For one at bat, I wish he would just take every pitch and only swing at 3-0, just to see if he actually will get a fastball.

My guess is that he will see playing time over the next two/three weeks. His performance will determine his future. Or, Escobar will be brought up and move Pena to the end of the bench.

I would love to see Pena prove me wrong but I just don't see it happening.

The other factor is Bowden. Does he have the strength to make the move? His trades are in question and it may be too hard to admit a mistake.

The likely scenario is Pena will probably take up a roster spot for the entire year, pinch hit when we are down by five runs and strike out. Just like he is striking out with his third team.

Anonymous said...

4th if you count his failure to advance above Class A in the Yankees system

Anonymous said...

The saga of Wily Moe Pena is just further evidence of how incompetent Jim Bowden is as a general manager. I mentioned on this blog at the time of his acquisition that Pena was a big whiffer at the plate and a butcher in the outfield, and that trading for him made no sense. I have said it before and I will say it again. this team will never compete until the Lerners smarten up and show Bowden the door.

SenatorNat said...

Po Willie Mo: since he cannot field, he makes Duke look better by comparison. Since he cannot hit, he makes Milledge look better by comparison. Since he isn't country, he makes Kearns look better by comparison. Since he cannot run, he makes Harris look better by comparison. And since he does not look like the star of the movie "Grease" he makes Mackowiac look better by comparison!

He is such a nice likeable big fella - I would like nothing better than him to succeed, but, alas, his clock is running faster than that of #44 and #34.

Things about to change should Bow-Bow bring up Alex Escobar, me thinks and prays: he is hitting .310 in Columbus, and knock-on-wood, is healthy. Makes sense to bring him up, since it is only for one month until Kearns returns, in Bow-Bow's view. I predict (pray) that should he come up, like Jesus Flores, they may never get him out of the line-up...

Starting Line-Up 2008: Johnson 1B (DL); Belliard 2B (DL); LoDuca C (DL); Dukes (LF)(DL); and Kearns RF (April DL). Pitching Ace: Shawn Hill (virtual DL) The injury excuse is certainly available to excuse Bow-Bow, and buy him one more year.

Where is the iconic baseball over the Red Loft? Long time passing, due to its $8 million price-tag. Indicates that Lerners, not Bow-Bow, could be the true problem, as everything is being done on the cheap. Team salaries total less than $40 million, I would guess.

Means team has to win with economy budget - all young or older with injury or attitude or weight issues, and the like. Average season attendance probably 2.5 million for this and next season: nice profit I am sure. Take that $8 million, at least, and put it towards a true free agent - legitimate player.

Trust in the power of the internet. All Good.

SenatorNat said...

I meant to put the designation of DL-April on Dukes, not Kearnes, obviously.

An Briosca Mor said...

Where is the iconic baseball over the Red Loft? Long time passing, due to its $8 million price-tag.

This might have had a lot more to do with it being too tacky or too kitschy than to the $8M cost. It might have been a nice novelty this year, but two years, five years down the line I think the general opinion would be that it was something that wore out its welcome rather quickly. Plus, if that giant baseball was there it would block some nice views of the Capitol looking down the Half Street corridor from the Gallery Level.

Still, they have created a sort of natural pedestal there on top of the Red Porch/Red Loft, with that big round ribbon board as the base. It does kind of suggest that something ought to be there to complete the design, but I for one can't think of anything that would really work there. Maybe that's why I'm not a stadium architect.

VCUAlum Kyle said...

I think the same can be said for Austin Kearns. I know I am very harsh on this man but HE CANT HIT. Yeah he can field the ball but he CANT hit and I dont think he is going to live up to those number the "think tank" think he will produce.

I also think Church is playing better b/c he is in a better hitting lineup. Yeah I know the Mets are near the bottom of the NL East but face it, WE HAVE NO OFFENSE and NO THREATS. Lerners face this off-season wise up and SPEND SOME MONEY, like the old addage goes, you need to spend money to make money. But also please keep developing the farm aswell by signing our picks!

SenatorNat said...

An briosca mor:

Good comment that the iconic baseball might be tacky looking or get old in a hurry, and we do not want to block good view: possible solution is a giant replica of a Gifford's Dinger, which should fit the round ribbon pedestal nicely, and has naming right's potential!

Trust in the red star receipt at Gifford's. All Good.

Anonymous said...

The Red Loft has been such a success, I wonder if they could expand to the roof.

Screech's Best Friend said...

natswin83--Stan Kasten personally told me and was reported here last month that The Red Loft Bar will be expanded after the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk construction is finished. They are not going to pass up on expanding a highly successful part of the park.

Here is the link:

Anonymous said...

SBF - thanks - I'll have to check it out tonight. I'm not sure where the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk is but I'm sure it can't be hard to figure out.

Nice weather and Suppan's 4.78 could make for a fun time tonight at the park. Hope we get closer to my pick of 83 wins!

Screech's Best Friend said...

natswin83--Miller Scoreboard Walk--you can't miss it. It is the construction zone directly behind the HDTV Scoreboard on the catwalk--between The Red Loft Bar and Section 243.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Stan is holding out to sell the top of the Red Loft, like the giant tacky coke bottle in Atlanta