Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Right Stuff

Dispensing tonight with the gamer from today's latest loss because there is something more important to discuss. Thanks to John R. for really hitting home with Sohna & I in his commentary this evening on the post-game roster moves.

John R. mentioning how many so-called experts out there thought Chad Cordero was worthless? Look at Our Washington Nationals now. "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" was certainly "The Chief Cardiologist", he made the 9th inning far more spectacular at times than needed. But Cordero succeeded far more times than he lost. He was a deserved All-Star playing for a mediocre team. And he was pretty darn good at his job. It's disappointing that only because he got injured, attempting to be THE GUY again, he was unceremoniously and publicly dumped. And when Chad Cordero signed with The Seattle Mariners this spring, many others cheered the move. They didn't want Our Former Number 32 a National any more.

They were wrong.

Look at Our Bullpen and Closer Situation now. We can't finish off ANY ball game. Sure, Chad Cordero will not be ready until late May, early June. But who wouldn't want to take that chance six weeks from now that "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" would be far more successful than anything that has been witnessed so far in 2009 in Washington?

When Chad Cordero was sent to the mound, there was a belief--he knew what was needed to get the job done. You just didn't know whether he would always be successful.

The same with Shawn Hill. Granted he was injured, continuously for year after year after year. But when your Starting Pitching Staff is not composed of Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tommy Glavine you should hang on to what you got--not send them packing for nothing in return. Many applauded the release of Shawn Hill during Spring Training. It's an issue that has bothered The African Queen and I since the very day Our Washington Nationals made the waiver move. Now Our Former Number 41 is pitching some pretty decent ball for The San Diego Padres. Two respectable starts, a 3.60 ERA, no lingering after-effects of pain. The only pain suffered being that of Our Very Own Team (and fans watching them) struggle in the pitching department.

You don't give up on talented individuals to make due with journeymen. Players that are just complimentary parts--not your Go To Guys.

Truly, sometimes you really don't know what you had until it is gone.

John Lannan, Shairon Martis and now Jordan Zimmermann all deserve to be in Our 2009 Starting Rotation. We are all for the youth movement when talent is there. All three earned it. You could argue Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera as well--depending on their individual days on the mound--but their consistency is lacking.

Wouldn't you want to see Shawn Hill back in our rotation right now? He's certainly more talented than Kip Wells as long man and emergency starter. And Shawn would be that solid veteran presence this rotation needs to excel. Hill walks, talks and handles himself very professionally. Tim Redding might not have been the greatest starter in The National League for Washington. But look at what good he did nurturing John Lannan last year. John Lannan will tell you that Redding was a big influence in his 2008 Rookie Campaign. A person to confide in and trust your deepest thoughts.

Hill should be playing the same role at Nationals Park. But he's not. Sadly.

It's worth repeating once again (maybe for the 100th time here), it's far better to win with your own players, than trying to win with some one elses.

Who doesn't believe that Chad Cordero and Shawn Hill could still be the veterans and reliable young anchors for Washington's Pitching Staff? They both have The Right Stuff, but weren't allowed to resurrect their careers in The Nation's Capital. Together Cordero and Hill wouldn't have combined to make Our 2009 Version Washington Nationals even a .500 club so far in April, 2009--but they sure would have made us, as fans, feel a whole lot better about our near and long term chances in The Curly "W" Column.

Realistically, Our Washington Nationals are nowhere near as bad as they have played through the first eleven games of 2009. Although, these 10 losses have been pretty depressing. What we do have is a rather solid starting lineup. A team that can hit and smash the ball. Nick Johnson, Cristian Guzman, Ryan Zimmerman, Elijah Dukes and Adam Dunn (who is actually been very impressive at the plate) we would take on our team at any time. They hustle, make the effort, never give up. Austin Kearns is the same way, but hasn't been as consistent. We have a starting rotation that is better than advertised. But that 25-Man Roster is too incomplete. Our Bullpen horrendous. To win consistently, Our Manager Manny Acta must be able to trust EVERY SINGLE PERSON on his active roster to be there when he calls on them.

He can't.

Duty, that has fallen short, well before Our Washington Nationals have played their first dozen games of the new campaign.

No, you can't cry over spilled milk--both Chad Cordero and Shawn Hill are gone--maybe forever. But we can certainly believe Our Washington Nationals would be a better franchise today, if we had taken care of two of our very own--when they needed our support the most. Not trash them when they were down. We miss those two guys, because they made us A BETTER TEAM.

More worth cheering for.

They really did.

And we miss that.

We really do.

Because They Have The Right Stuff.

PS--Just give Jason Bergmann the ball and let him close out a few games. There is no doubt he has also the right stuff to be a legitimate closer. If Jason is allowed to throw the ball and not think about it--for one or two innings at a time, Our Number 57 could be OUTSTANDING in that pressure role.

PPS--And when Our Washington Nationals have Ryan Zimmerman on second base with two outs and only maintaining a slim one run lead (4-3)--let's have Josh Willingham at the plate pinch hitting in the 8th, not Alex Cintron. Why are we saving Josh when Our Bullpen can't hold a lead? I don't care about lefty/righty matchups. I don't care about what THE BOOK says. I care about having the best hitter available being at the plate with the game on the line. A journeyman like Alex Cintron is not the guy. Josh Willingham is. Today, that exact scenario played out in the 8th inning when Our Manager Manny Acta decided that Cintron, a left handed batter, was his guy against the hard throwing righthander pitcher Leo Nunez of The Florida Marlins. It was the wrong call. Sorry Manny.

PPPPS--And not to jump on Manny. It's fair to question some of his managerial moves, but you can't fault Our Number 14 for not having the horses to run with every single day. Manny's playing short-handed and that's not all of his own doing.

Finally--and like long time Nats320 reader Tom (who made the kind effort to come by to meet The African Queen and I in Section 218 this Sunday) mentioned tonight to in the commentary on the roster moves: "(Mike Rizzo) is not indecisive." Tom's right. You or I may not always agree with all of his decisions, but he makes his moves without hesitation. Mike Rizzo is not wishy-washy. I can appreciate that too. Mike Rizzo knows what he wants and makes his decisions--without hesitation. You know where Mike Rizzo stands--and that's a good thing.


Allen Collain said...

All I know is he's not healthy so they'd still be 1-10 without him, and to say that they were wrong to give up on him because the bullpen is bad is false logic.

Jim H said...

C'mon, SBF...tell us what you really feel. ;)

Kenny G said...

If Shawn Hill was still in DC... do you think he could have a bullpen role?

janet said...

BASEBALL: Wetteland remembers time with Sparky
Bellingham Herald - ‎Apr 17, 2009‎
[This follows a note about John Wetteland] Right-hander Chad Cordero (shoulder) will pitch a simulated inning Monday in Arizona. He continues to progress toward a mid-May return. ...

On Saturday, I sang the praises of the Capitals treatment of Alexander Ovechkin, and a few of their gestures of support of their fanbase.

Today, I find myself thinking of Brian Pothier. In January 2008, he had a concussion that many thought would end his career. In December 2008, the Capitals head trainer suggested he visit a vision specialist. This turned out to be the breakthrough that has allowed him to return to the NHL.

At this point, we can't know for certain if either Shawn Hill or Chad Cordero will successfully rehab their injuries. We do know that they are both talented, loyal, high character guys. We also know that, for whatever reason, the Nationals did not offer either of them a real chance to make their comebacks as Nationals. In the process, we saved what, $2 million in salaries?

I know, baseball is a business. But sometimes, goodwill is a business asset. And with all due respect, I wonder if the Nationals understand the concept.

Andrew Lang said...

Janet brings up "loyalty". That word has been defined, redefined, and debated time and time again, and usually the word "respect" and "pay me the money" comes in to the equation. I am not saying that came into play with The Chief or The Hill, but at times this is a tough business.

I am a fan, a sports businessperson, and a realist at times because sometimes my fan status overtakes my commonsense.

So true that Chad Cordero was treated poorly by Bowden last July, but what was the real reason Chad didn't push to come back to Washington after Bowden left the team?

We don't know what goes on behind closed doors with respects with what went on with Chad Cordero and Shawn Hill.

The problem at hand here is the bullpen in 2009 and as Allen pointed out Chad Cordero if under Washington control couldn't help this team now anyway. Beimel and Taveres are doing the job so it isn't all bad.

I have also had the same thoughts as Kenny G with regards to Shawn Hill, why wasn't he considered for the bullpen before he was dumped? I don't think that has ever been answered by Mike Rizzo.

Screech's Best Friend said...

No, it's not false logic to consider Chad Cordero no longer being with Washington and helpful. Sometimes you have to get past the immediate short term issues and look at the long term possibilities. The Big Picture. As far as we can tell from the outside looking in--neither Cordero or Hill were given the chance to fully prove themselves. Their "loyalty" was unmatched. If they wanted, both should have been given the opportunity to prove themselves again here. Shawn Hill is extremely talented and could play a major role TODAY on our struggling pitching staff. Talent over Journeymen I will take anytime--even those with injury issues.

yazzy1956 said...

SBF, I was disappointed that you didn't snag that foul ball in the bottom of the first that landed right behind you!

Speaking of old Nats friends from the RFK days, here is a sad story. Hard to believe Brad lost it at such a young age.

Brad Wilkerson told his manager at Triple-A Pawtucket yesterday that he's retiring from baseball.

Shoulder problems derailed Wilkerson's career. He posted OPSs of 840, 844 and 872 in his first three full seasons with the Expos before dropping off to 756 in 2005 and being traded to the Rangers in the Alfonso Soriano deal after the season. He never returned to form in Texas, and after bouncing around in 2008, he failed to make the Red Sox out of spring training this year. If he's finished at age 31, he ends his career with a .247/.350/.440 line and 122 homers in 3,753 at-bats. He was second in the Rookie of the Year balloting in 2002, and he had his best season in 2004, when he hit 32 homers, walked 106 times and scored 112 runs.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Yazzy1956--Actually Sohna had her hand on the ball but this other guy snatched it from her. She wanted to give it to Andy a young boy that sits just to our right. The guy refused to give it up. The boy stared the man down--made him look bad.

Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

Quick - Which one of these two players was Chad Cordero in 2005:

55 19 22/4 8 .276 .283 2 1 5
62 24 21/7 3 .248 .306 9 0 7

Now, let's look at Chad's numbers in 2006 & 2007:

59 27 12/1 1 .279 .416 13 0 4
59 31 5/2 7 .326 .405 8 1 9

Now, a peek at our other pitcher's numbers from 2006 & 2007:

56 31 5/4 8 .312 .382 4 0 6
54 29 7/2 7 .331 .371 3 0 6

Even by the most generous standards, it was clear that Cordero was in decline before his shoulder injury, much like our other pitcher here,
Todd Jones... except that Cordero was in his mid-20s and Jones was in his late 30s.

It doesn't take a genius to deduce that Cordero was on the same path as a lot of throwers-turned-closers, and to suggest that the Nationals were wrong to let someone else take a gamble on him on him returning to form simply ignores both the facts and history.

yazzy1956 said...

We never get any foul balls over in Sec. 214 because of the screen. I should come over and sit behind you. I've been meaning to stop by and say hello.

John R. said...

My main issue with the Chad Cordero debacle is that the Nats STILL had an opportunity to sign him at reduced rates this spring. It was fair for the Nats to want a reduced deal given the injury situation, but it was worth it to invest some amount of money in the guy.

And after listening to folks say all last year that we may not need Cordero anyway because we have got Jon Rauch, we traded Rauch for a Second Baseman. I think Jim Bowden got an unfair bad rap for the Smiley Gonzalez and Dominican Republic baseball academy episode, but if he truly was the catalyst for the creation of this relief staff, then I surely am glad he is gone.

Anonymous said...

From a fan's perspective, Shawn Hill should have been kept as a reclamation project and insurance policy if Cabrera or Olsen fizzled.

What we don't know is that Hill possibly refused to go to the bullpen or be re-assigned. Those are the things we as fans don't know.

The same goes for Chad Cordero, who knows what really did transpire. How was he so loyal besides doing his job well and getting paid per the CBA terms? Am I missing something? He got a huge raise in 2007 to $4.1 million and $6.2 million in 2008 and was unable to perform and still got paid. If this happened in the real world, you and I would have received a pink slip!

SenatorNat said...

Nats need to act rationally and to preserve core fans' loyalty: that would have translated into rehabbing Cordero and betting the extra $600k on Shawn Hill - two move risking about $2 million. Rizzo must be more attuned to this than Bowden was - yet he was the one that cut an apparently "healthier than before" Hill loose to satisfy Fast Eddie's green-eye shade concern that team was forking out $2 million for Beimel - claims that the two were not connected, to the contrary. He needs to recognize which players core fans like: Z-man (recognized with fair deal today); Johnson; Guz; Dukes (Acta has him the dog-house at the moment, a situation which demands watching by brass...); Lannan; Zimmermann (yes, I know that seems ridiculous); Williamham. Bergmann may soon be on this list, if he can perform - BowBow hated this guy, but BowBow is gone. Dunn would be big fan favorite, but he is such a liability in the field, that fans are holding back on the loyalty quotient. Add Beimel to this list, too, in all probability.

Should team get the chance to unload Kearns $8 million burden to the Yanks, do it, even though our outfield then becomes a bit thin. But, in a pinch Milledge can come back up and sit on the bench for depth, or in the locker room, as he is NOT a fan favorite.

Defense: unbelievable that sure-handed infielders Hernandez and Gonzalez each have equivalent of three errors. This situation will correct itself (has already with Hernandez) over time. Throwing to first is a problem for Z-Man and Guz too often if they are not moving, and this seems perpetual. About 5 passed balls and 4 WPs so far already this year. Bard responsible for 2 PB, so that should improve, and as Flores gets to know the starters better. (Flores will be a fan favorite should he hit .260)

Belliard and Young - two extensions which are costing the Nats $7 million this year, but not in 2010. Add Kearns $8 million saved to it, and this is $15 million for free agent starter and reliever next year.

Stockpiling young pitchers: Lannan and Zimmermann can pitch at back of a rotation for a good team, but Mock, Martis, Ditwiller, etc. do not appear to be in Nats starting rotation. Stockpiling works only should some work out. Strasburg coming, of course, and that may turn things aroung - we can only hope. The Stanford guy may pan out too but that wouldn't be until 2011. Olsen and Cabrera journeyman, at best, as said.

This means team is weak on defense in left field, iffy starting, line-up does not drive in runs (Zimmerman should be batting 6th; Guz 2nd; Johnson 3rd; Dukes 5th; Williamham 7th)due to the wrong batting order, and of course relief pitching outside of Beimel is huge problem.

I am with SBF - Hanrahan should be pitching 7th inning; Beimel 8th; and Bergmann 9th for now. Use Mock and T for earlier and longer stints. Hinckley situational.

Coaches: Grissom is asleep and Lastich far too conservative, but he seems to have some promise. They are important parts, but Nats treat as after-thoughts.

Statues: beautiful white bronze and the normal parts are actually very good depictions of the three - the extra arms and bats and balls and "motion" putty pieces detract so much from what would be great - it is like someone put a sombraro over the Vietnam Memorial!

Acta - does not have the Right Stuff - good guy on so many levels but not the right guy for Stan and Mike. Known now for getting thrown out privately by an Umpire, preserving his gentleman Jim image...Will not be here Spring, 2011.

Attendance: if team continues to hit, and actually wins some games, with its attractive home schedule and school letting out, could still crest 2 million, but more likely to have gate of 1.9 million, about same as last RFK year. For five seasons, team will maintain average attendance over 2 million, not bad for the worst of 30 teams over that span record-wise. Doubt that Kansas City Royals drew this average...

Trust in the Fact that Dan Snyder does not own the Nationals. All a Relief.

An Briosca Mor said...

"At this point, we can't know for certain if either Shawn Hill or Chad Cordero will successfully rehab their injuries. We do know that they are both talented, loyal, high character guys. We also know that, for whatever reason, the Nationals did not offer either of them a real chance to make their comebacks as Nationals."

I was at the May 11, 2007 game (ironically a win over Scott Olsen and the Marlins) when after five near-perfect innings (only two walks) Shawn Hill walked off the mound hurt and unable to come back. In a sense that's when his rehabilitation and possible comeback began. Twenty two months - nearly two years - before the Nats released him. You might be able to make a case that the Nats incorrectly evaluated his progress coming back, but I don't see how anyone can say they didn't give him a chance to rehabilitate and come back.

Unknown said...

I think we also need to keep in mind the Rauch-Bonifacio then Bonifacio Olsen-Willingham trades. In my opinion, Rauch had the mentality and demeanor that wuold've made him a great closer. At the time he was traded for the second basemen of our future, who was then traded for a power-hitting outfielder, and an innings- eating starting pitcher. Well, Willingham is on the bench far too often to be truly useful, and Olsen is at most a 4 or 5 starter, certainly not a #2. I know a lot of people disagree with this, but in hindsight I'd rather still have Rauch in the bullpen and have never heard of Bonifacio.
I also asked Bill Ladson a question in the Nats mailbag about signing Livan Hernandez over the winter. Bill agreed that Livan would be a perfect fit, but that he was too expensive. The Pirates paid Livan the same amount in 08 that we paid LoDuca. Enough said.

C.G. said...

Sorry to hear about the incident with Sohna and the ball that was snatched out of her hand, SBF. Why a grown man would have so much attachment to a baseball that he would refuse to give it to a child is beyond me.

Berndaddy said...

yazzy1956 - I saw that Brad Wilkerson was retiring and felt bad for him. When I read early in spring training that he was going to Boston's camp I was hoping he would land a stop there, oh well...

The first face of the franchise, eh, well, he and Chad. God bless them I don't wish an wrong for them both.

Thanks Brad for that first year here in DC. I hope your life is sweet from here on out.

yazzy1956 said...

Just a thought. The $5 million the Nats are wasting this year on Dmitri Young is the exact amount of money Pedro Martinez has been asking for to pitch in 2009. Sure he would be a 1-year stop gap, but the guy has always been a competitor and maybe he could be a good mentor for the young starters.

Anonymous said...

John R. - Your comment is total speculation on both sides. You don't know what the Nationals and Cordero discussed.

The same went for Omar Minaya and the Mets for that matter as Omar passed on him and knew Chad well in the Expos organization.

"My main issue with the Chad Cordero debacle is that the Nats STILL had an opportunity to sign him at reduced rates this spring."

Anonymous said...

yazzy1956 - Don't you think sometimes it is more than money why a team doesn't re-sign (or sign) a player. The Mets with the fat payroll passed on Pedro Martinez for more than just money IMHO.

This again is too much speculation when you are thinking dollars and sense (pun intended).

Many have complained that the Nats have too many troubled players, do you really want a Pedro Martinez around your young pitchers?

William had the right idea with Livan Hernandez who was a good clubhouse guy back in 2005.

NatsGuy said...

Interesting about Brad Wilkerson, when Jim Bowden saw him for the first time he noticed that Brad had gotten smaller than the previous year. What happened between 2004 and 2005 that affected all of baseball performance.