Sunday, September 28, 2008

Taking Stock

102 Losses guarantees The First Pick In The 2009 Entry Draft for Our Washington Nationals.

And the Dismissal of Five Coaches plus The Strength and Conditioning Coach, right after the final game this year, guarantees more changes--unexpected or not.

Not moments after The 2008 Season concluded in Philadelphia, The 2009 Season Officially Began this afternoon for Our Washington Nationals.

Now is the time to tread lightly. Because now is The Time to make The Right Decisions. Accountability needs to be reviewed, stock needs to be taken.

Many Big Resolutions are on the horizon this winter leading into next summer. And making The Number 1 Pick next June is just one of many coming our way concerning DC's Team.

Stephen Strasburg is the so-called consensus #1 Pick. A pitcher out of San Diego State. At least that's what I read everywhere else. But, I don't know that for sure. And whether he is or not, Our Washington Nationals need to make THE CORRECT CHOICE next June. An informed pick. Clearly, not all Top Picks Pan Out. Just look at the history, it's pretty interesting. But a correct determination sets Our Team onto a continually rising path. A bad choice sets Our Franchise back unnecessarily so. We don't need a mistake right now. We need a Win--in the draft lottery. The same holds true for Our Pick Number 10--as compensation for Aaron Crow in 2008 not signing.

Washington needs to land TWO CAN'T MISS Prospects. No question about it.

Dana Brown, Our Scouting Director--the ball is in your court--with Your Staff. You have been fabulous at choosing picks for Washington--even under the disguise of Major League Baseball's pauper ownership. I am trusting you will not let us down. Your diligence can lead us down the right chosen path. I truly believe that.

But that choosing and signing of Our Top Draft Picks, which must occur next summer, are not our only issues.

From The Minors Leagues through The Majors, Our Personnel need to be better skilled at The Basics of The Game. Washington needs to become a better bunting team, a better fielding team. Clearly, The Fundamentals of The Game need to be addressed. I can't tell you how many times over the past four seasons Our Washington Nationals have lost due to the inability to make the routine play. Bad bunts, poor tracts to hit baseballs, hitting the cutoff man--the skills that should be rote, but make me, as a fan, shake my head in wonder over the poor workmanship.

If Baltimore had "The Orioles Way" for those nearly 25 Years and was so successful during that time frame, then Washington needs "The Nationals Way". From Rookie Ball to The Major Leagues, every single player must be taught the same way. The Basic Skills to play the game. There can be no exceptions. And today's relieving of their coaching duties of nearly the entire Major League Staff, except Our Manager Manny Acta and Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire, must be addressed with a vision. Forward thinking that Our Coaches in The Big Leagues are the FINAL PIECE to the puzzle. The last tweaking in the development stage of skills honed through five levels of Minor League Ball--not the first stage.

Our Players need to arrive at Nationals Park with the ability to play The Major League Game--not just with the opportunity given to find out whether they have the skills or not. The talent should already be there. The guessing games need to extinguished as much as possible. Learning on the job is one thing--but if you have not already been taught the skills to be a Major League Player, your chances of success will falter--greatly.

You will not succeed.

Success comes with better talent, but winning can also be found with better baseball. Our 25 Man Roster does not have to contain a dozen or so Five Tool Talents in the field. Or, 12 guys that can throw 95 Miles Per Hour. Our Washington Nationals need skilled players that know how to play the game, competently--with that big bopper thrown in at the plate, along with that one overpowering starter on the mound. It's how you build a team these days, component parts to complement your few stars.

Washington doesn't have any of those Top Billed Players, not just yet. But it doesn't mean they can't be found.

Ryan Zimmerman has the makings of a Franchise Player. Elijah Dukes, The Slugger In Waiting. Jesus Flores, Our Catcher for the Future. John Lannan Our Starter. There are others worth considering--Lastings Milledge, as a corner outfielder, Alberto Gonzalez, Emilio Bonifacio and Anderson Hernandez up the middle. "The Guz" as perfect compliment for a Good Team. Not many players gave more on the field of play in 2008 than Cristian Guzman. His contract is not a weighty as some believe.

No question, Washington has an overload of outfielders. Barring a trade, Austin Kearns, Wily Mo Pena, Roger Bernadina, Ryan Langerhans are all under team control and will return. Just like Willie Harris--if offered arbitration. Where do all those players stand when you add in Dukes and Milledge? Who are the odd men out? And how does Our General Manager Jim Bowden solve those thorny issues. Some need to go. Some need to be traded--leaving Our Core Outfield for the future. Also, can JimBo bring back a useful young player in return through his trading skills for talent. Players we currently possess my play an important factor over this winter in trade value.

Our General Manager hinted at his potential bartering during last week's ESPN Zone Chat.

Either way, sharp decisions need to be made. Positioning that enhances the future of Our Washington Nationals. Young pitching is close to arriving with Jordan Zimmermann and Shairon Martis--maybe Collin Balester. But there are no guarantees, we need some more. Washington needs a legitimate Number One Starter for 2008, maybe a Number Two. John Lannan had a fabulous Rookie Season, but he can't do it all by himself. Not by a long shot.

Washington lost their 102nd game this afternoon in a meaningless affair at Citizens Bank Park. But Our Management can't sulk about it, neither should our fans. Washington's Front Office must turn this negative into a positive by making educated and well informed decisions--helping to turn Our Washington Nationals from loser into winner. No, I don't think they are as awful, or that far away from respectability, as some have portrayed. When you have five starters 23 years of age--all of whom have shown promise--the glass is Half Full for The African Queen and I. Never do we believe Our Tank is half empty, possibly running on fumes. There are many good signs that raise hope for us.

Our Future is coming over the next nine months, leading up to The 2009 Entry Draft. And Our Washington Nationals need to be well prepared to make The Right Moves. Because whether others want to believe it or not, some talent is already here. It just needs to honed and enhanced, to make Our Washington Nationals more complete.

Final Score from Citizens Bank Park, where an abusive fan base is a well established way of life for the home side, The Philadelphia Phillies 8 and Our Washington Nationals 3 in a game that only stood for one fact. Season 5.0 of Our Washington Nationals began at 4:14PM Eastern Time, the very second Emilio Bonifacio grounded out to The Phillies First Baseman Chris Coste to end Version 4.0 with a record of 59 Wins and 102 Losses.

Changes are coming and Washington needs to make some solid decisions--both on and off the field of play. Time for Our Washington Nationals to Take Stock.

Today's InGame Photo--(AP) Tom Mihalek


Edward J. Cunningham said...

We need to make smart choices this offseason. What is equally important is that we don't make any panicky moves. For example, let's say Stephen Strasburg and Scott Boras make an outragously high demand for the Nats' to sign him---not because they honestly expect that money but because he doesn't want to play in Washington. A panicky move might be to sign him at any price to show fans the Nats are doing something. The smarter move in that case---and I hope it won't come down to this---would be to use the same money to sign somebody else and maybe get a free agent or two.

By free agent, I don't mean get into a bidding war for C.C. Sebathia with the Yankees and Red Sox. But there are lesser picks that can help the Nats substantially in 2009. (Speaking of which, I think one of the biggest mistakes the Nats made was not signing Livan Hernandez when he became available again.)

Let's get to work Nats. You screwed up big time this year. Let's not do it again in 2009.

Anonymous said...

Manny Acta should be nervous. Managers who have their personally selected coaches fired out from under them are on very weak ground. He could be next.

Anonymous said...

Tim Tolman, after walking of the field for the very last time as a National, sought me out in the crowd to hand me his helmet. He is truly a class act. Jeff and I will miss him very much.

Anonymous said...

"Our Players need to arrive at Nationals Park with the ability to play The Major League Game--not just with the opportunity given to find out whether they have the skills or not. The talent should already be there. The guessing games need to extinguished as much as possible. Learning on the job is one thing--but if you have not already been taught the skills to be a Major League Player, your chances of success will falter--greatly.

You will not succeed."

Thank you for so eloquently expressing something that badly needs to be said. And I found your entire analysis to be excellent and to the point.

I am a diehard Nats fan and am trying to retain some optimism that smart choices can be made. This is difficult as I see some of the 2008 choices as so blatantly not smart.

Decisions on new coaches and on the need to retain a core of veteran players are crucial.

Cathy said...

Colleen, very sweet about Tolman handing you his helmet!!

Anonymous said...


Very nice with Tim and the helmet. I didn't realize that he and Aponte went as far back with Manny as they did. One a scout for Manny even. (article in the Post this morning)

SenatorNat said...

I suggest that you put some ice cream and fudge sauce in that helmet and enjoy a much deserved helmet sundae! Don't count on Nats Park vendors to assist in preparation, however...

Manny, Stan & Jimbo: they could all co-exist just fine if the brother-in-laws were not so darn tight-fisted apparently. Mark and Bow-Bow are tight; Manny is still part of the Plan; and Stan has never been considered part of the Clan.

Nats have 5% chance of doing what the Rays did this year: I suggest dropping the first part of the name No-Money Nationals, and just go with Nationals next year (the Devil made me say that, of course.)

Nats have 20% chance of the current adverse media pressure forcing team to actually budget $65 million for team and spend it - I do not believe they spent $55 million this year, in actuality. With a base of $35 million, brothers-in-law need to swallow hard and put actual $30 million more in budget for major league roster in 2009.

Kasten could depart - elevating BowBow and Rizzo respectively. This may be inevitable, since BowBow far less of a threat to the inner sanctum, me thinks. Sort-of like Vinny C. over at Redskins Park. Manny then good for one more year - obvious that he is way too afraid to rock the boat, and is treating this job as something not to lose, rather than something to win, so-to speak. If Rizzo is elevated to GM with Bow-Bow Exec. VP of Baseball, he will probably bring in his own manager. (Frank must be amused just a bit on the golf course these days...)

Kasten has had a terrible assignment of being the unwelcome front man, oblivated to paint a rosy picture everyday - would wear out anyone.

Will Mark Lerner join the ranks of Danny, Abe, and Ted and really act to put some true investment into the team, i.e., risk some capital - or is going to remain his American Flyer set given for the holidays to the wide-eyed scion...

Trust in prudent over frugal. All Wait Until Next Year.

Anonymous said...

If our future is in the 2009 draft then we might be good 5 years later (part of the plan is to bring the youngesters through the system slowly regardless of their talent level) so we may be good if our young pitchers develop by 2014..woohoo!!!! Of couorse, barring any busts or injuries...Todd VanPoppel anyone!???

Anonymous said...

The next few weeks are going to be critical for the Nats. There are many disgruntled season ticket holders who are watching very carefully. Their decision to renew or not renew may hinge on what happens over the next 6-8 weeks.

Anonymous said...

So what are the odds preseason ticket
sales will be lower than this year?
More seats for the real baseball fans. And Phillie fans and Mets fans and. . .
Nationals Park is about to turn into the NL's version of Camden Yards.