Tuesday, June 30, 2009

100th Post- Lots Going On...

I was going to discuss the closed polls results, and how three of the four options had been rendered obsolete. However, Mr. Rizzo has been busy, closing a couple deals.

Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan for Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett

The easiest thing to do is to break this into two separate trades, OF for OF, P for P. From the Nationals perspective, given the players involved, it was an offer Rizzo couldn't refuse. The two areas that needed to be addressed were the bullpen and the defense. Nyjer Morgan more than addresses the defense. He can play CF if necessary, which will allow the Nats to keep Dunn, Willingham, and Dukes fresh in the corners. Harris loses out the most in the deal, as he will probably see his playing time cut in half. Burnett is Rizzo's dream... a left-handed, ground-ball, relief pitcher. He has battled back from injury to become a solid major league reliever and will be under control for a couple more seasons. He will benefit from working with two veteran LOOGYs in Villone and Beimel.

So what did the Nats give up? Starting with Hanrahan, since fans have been dealing with his shenanigans all season. Hanrahan was great last year, but pretty well abused. 84 innings of relief on 69 appearances is a number relievers build toward. Hanrahan had been a starter in 2006 and 2007. Basically, Hanrahan could get back to his 2008 form with a couple months off, but does that even make him as valuable to the Nats as Burnett? Villone is 40. Not quite. Lastings Milledge, on the other hand, doesn't need rest. Who knows what he needs... for him to make up for his defensive deficiencies, he needs to hit as well the premier corner outfielder in the league. Nick Markakis is a good young comp. Does anyone believe that is possible for Milledge? Sure, maybe for a couple months, but he is a natural underachiever, a tease. Guys like JD Drew show flashes of their potential, but rarely put it together for 162 games, and that the player the optimists refuse to see in Milledge. However, after watching him play first hand for a few years, the patterns are obvious.

It is difficult to criticize the Nats for making this move. Milledge offered the current major league roster nothing. Hanrahan had been banished to the mop-up role. Burnett will pitch high-leverage innings and Morgan will start in the outfield five days a week. Honestly, what are the Pirates going to do with the players they got? This trade gets a solid B+ for now and really will not look bad unless Milledge turns into Sammy Sosa.


Man, does Elijah Dukes ever field a ball cleanly in the outfield? Stammen's third time through the order woes continue, further indicating that he may have more work to do in AAA before formally claiming a rotation spot for next season. Not sure what is wrong with Nick Johnson, but he isn't showcasing his talent very well for contenders right now... Guzman has made up for a rough outing at the plate with a great dive and throw early in the game. Zimmerman, on the other hand... woof, 3 error games aren't helping the pitchers, especially the relievers. Clippard may not have the stuff to be effective for long runs, though his delivery can be deceptive enough to kill AAA guys.


To the poll. The Nats have officially addressed the bullpen. Colome and Tavarez are crappy guys, but almost every team has one of them. Teams try to get a few innings out of them before they wear out their welcome. Manny isn't going to be fired in the immediate future, and Rizzo has earned the right to see his handiwork through. The Nationals haven't dealt Nick Johnson, and have made a few moves that may make that unnecessary. Tough to really say what additional moves can be made to improve a team that dominates innings 1-5, but then stagger back to the clubhouse two out of three times. I'll try to think of a new poll, maybe two.

The symmetry for The Bombs is beautiful, 50 posts in May, 50 in June... it will be difficult to keep that pace through July, but the staff at The Bombs will try.

More on Olsen

Chico was all over this.

Looking at the pitch f/x data, the fastball velocity is back up two mph. That is good, but great will be if he can add a little bit more as his arm gets extended this summer. The most notable thing that sets this start apart from those he made earlier this season is that he was able to locate three distinct pitches, and even threw a couple 2-seamed fastballs for good measure. The keys, though, are graphs 5 and 6, which show three distinct pitches, staggered by several mph each. Earlier in the season, these plots were erratic, with the three pitches blending together.

The problem is that Olsen has teased with his talents before. Don't buy in until all the evidence is on the table.

Scott Olsen Goes 7 Deep

Disappointing the bullpen imploded again (yes, 3 walks and 2 extra base hits to get 3 outs fits the description). This is doubly disappointing, as Marlins scrap heap find Dan Meyer appeared in his 37th game of the year and escaped without yielding his eighth earned run.

Olsen, on the other hand, probably shocked everybody associated with the organization by finding his fastball/slider combo and embarrassing the Marlins for seven innings, really only slipping up while facing the bottom of the Marlins order in the third. I hope to get the pitch f/x on this this week to see if this was 2006 Scott Olsen coming back, or a flash in the pan performance because he's pissed at the Marlins.

Who knows with these characters...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Marlins Series Preview

Monday: Scott Olsen at Ricky Nolasco

Tuesday: Jordan Zimmermann at Sean West

Wednesday: Ross Detwiler at Josh Johnson

Talk about two teams trying to build around young pitching. Ricky Nolasco is the older pitcher starting in this series, and he is only 26. Olsen and Johnson are 25, and the other three guys are born in 1986, when it was still Hip to Be Square (note, Bale says 1987, which is incorrect, as “Fore” was released in 1986).

Nolasco has been experiencing his own Jekyll and Hyde act, though he has been much more Jekyll than Hyde recently. The Marlins gave him a couple weeks off at the end of May, and since then, he has regained his 2008 form (Rizzo, take notes). Josh Johnson is in the running for Cy Young, and Sean West is showing that he may be capable of replicating Johnson’s success. The Marlins have not been able to take control of this division for three reasons. First, until recently, the back end of their rotation was unsettled, much like the Nats. Now that Nolasco, West, and Andrew Miller have settled in, they have five guys that have potential frontline stuff. Second, they start the man known as “The Worst Everyday Player in Baseball”. They also choose to bat him near the top of the order. Finally, they don’t get to play the Nats everyday, to who they have yet to lose this season in six games.

The Marlins are an average offensive team, and despite their pitching prowess, a bad defensive team. Not quite as bad as the Nats, but certainly bottom third. And given the fact many of these bad fielders are young, emerging hitters, they don’t look to be getting better. Much like the Red Sox series, the Nats need to focus putting the ball in play. Dolphin Stadium is a pitcher’s park, so the key will be to work the defense and not let them off the hook.

The Nats may have dropped the first six against the fish, but that was a different team. The Marlins haven’t seen J Zimm or Detwiler, and Olsen could be out for blood because he is an angry young man. It should be noted that the Nats are 0-6 in the state of Florida, also having been swept by the Rays. One win out of three would be a nice start.

More Moves

Scott Olsen in, Shairon Martis to Syracuse

It was inevitable that Scott Olsen was going to take someone's spot. The assumption was that it should be Jesus Colome's spot, moving Stammen to the bullpen, and that made sense based on Colome's numbers. However, Stammen is just beginning to get comfortable as a starter. He is still prone to the big inning, but is striking batters out at a reasonable rate and getting to the seventh inning occasionally. Stammen will be removed from the rotation at some point, but more likely to be shut down for the season.

Martis, on the other hand, has been laboring mightily since his shutout of the Cardinals May 2nd. He has basically been the right-handed Barry Zito. He isn't striking anyone out, he's walking too many, and he is throwing too many pitches per inning. His stuff is not unacceptable; he has just gotten into the habit of nibbling and isn't consistently hitting his spots. The demotion will give him a chance to pitch more aggressively without the fear of getting pounded by the likes of Raul Ibanez.

The key here, believe it or not, is keeping Colome on the roster. He is more or less scrap heap, so he has no trade value and the Nats don't really have a stake in whether or not they abuse him. Joel Hanrahan, on the other hand, has some potential and trade value. He is still young, and if he can get his slider/changeup worked out (right now they are the same pitch), his fastball will not be pounded. Whether or not Hanrahan is hurting is irrelevant (though his workload last year is daunting); the Nationals do not want him to be perceived as a AAAA pitcher, especially since he cannot be demoted to AAA to work on his stuff. In the meantime, the Nats will want to work him into low leverage situations and limit his innings. Having Colome around will allow them to do that.

Odds are, Hanrahan will be back to his 2008 form sometime before next season. Martis will find his way back to the rotation soon enough, whether it's because Hanrahan gets moved, Colome get demoted, somebody gets hurt, etc. He is a baby by starting pitcher standards and the time on the farm will be better for his long term health.

I give this move a B+, actually. They had no choice bringing Olsen back, and showed some decent foresight protecting two of their better assets.


The Nationals front office has been busy this weekend. We should probably look at the moves one by one to try and guess what each means.

Ryan Langerhans for Mike Morse

On the surface, this looks like the Nationals are trading one of their surplus major league outfielders. Lastings Milledge had been rumored to be going to Pittsburgh, which probably would have been the preferred move, as Langerhans has more ML value. However, Langerhans has been stuck behind the glut of corner outfielders in the system, and was clearly behind Justin Maxwell in terms of age and Corey Patterson in terms of... ugh. Good for Langerhans, though. He hits well enough to fit into their ML plans, and he fits into Safeco's ginormous outfield so he will see playing time.

What does Mike Morse's arrival mean? The Nats have been running a rotation of Guzman, Gonzalez, and Hernandez through the middle infield, and Belliard is on the roster as well. Belliard isn't going anywhere until the end of the year, and if anything, he is done as a pro. Hernandez just got to the Nats and really hasn't shown much to be considered a bargaining chip. That leaves Alberto Gonzalez and Cristian Guzman, both of whom have been playing their asses off the past month. Gonzalez has been great for the Nats, though his glove has been suspect in 2009. Guzman is signed through the end of next season and is playing the best baseball of his career, despite the erratic defense and free-swinging.

Are the Nats getting into a position to leverage one of their two shortstops, using Morse as short-term insurance until Danny Espinoza is ready?

I give the move C+ for now, with a chance to upgrade, depending on how they can improve their defense up the middle before the trade deadline.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

More Poor Tactical Decisions

I know the Nats are short on quality relievers, but why MacDougal Saturday night, down two in the ninth with the bottom of the order coming up? Sunday is a day game, so rest will be shorter if they need him to go more than three outs in the heat. Yes, he has only pitched once since June 20th, but all the more reason to get him into the game Sunday, like with a chance win.

I'm not sure who calls the shots keeping the bullpen fresh, but Hanrahan's arm is dead (more on that shortly) and Tavarez is likely to be the next to start getting fatigued.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The New Cris Guzman

I have been riding Cristian Guzman for numerous reasons this season. Mainly, because he has upper echelon talent that he displays in bursts, losing focus on occasion and playing like a replacement player. Some people still hold 2005 against him, where he played much worse than that, but for the most part, the good exceeds the bad with Guzman.

He was mentioned as a possible catalyst for some of the indifference a failure to execute, as he is one of the veteran leaders and needs to be setting the example. At the time, he wasn't getting behind ground balls and air mailing throws to first base. He was hitting fine, but come the end of May, those hits weren't dropping anymore and he was in a 7-42 funk.

Then, in the Tampa series, he was running full out to beat a ground ball to second base. He didn't, but that didn't deter him from running like a bat out of hell the next time, beating out an infield hit against the Yankees and bunting for a single against the Red Sox. That has helped him bat around .450 for the past week or so. The increase in hustle has corresponded to Alberto Gonzalez' activation, so maybe a little kick is what some of these guys need. The defense could still use some work.

The 3-2 Changeup...

Whoever called the pitch should be more accountable than whoever threw it. Trevor Hoffman may not have been able to get his HOF change by Ortiz there.

Much has been made about Ortiz' diminished skills. He didn't suddenly time travel back to 2004. He is the same hitter with the same bat speed from April and May, he has just made a couple of adjustments to his pitch selection and approach. This has allowed him flip a couple into the stands at Fenway, only one of which was "well hit" (y'know, Adam Dunn-style). But the one thing that had him failing before was guessing on fastballs. Stammen needed to continue to pitch the fastball low and away, where Ortiz' slow bat would have no choice but to defend. The changeup gave him a chance to attack, which he did with his first road bomb of the season. It was arguably the best ball Ortiz has hit all season, and all the more reason to believe it was a horrible, horrible mistake.

Pawtucket Nationals

In 2004, when DC was selected to received the nomadic Expos, I was ecstatic. Surprised also, as I thought that Portland would offer a more loyal fan base and Las Vegas was a completely untapped market. However, MLB spotted the free ATM that is the Federal Government and greed won in a landslide. It is hard to blame MLB, as the integrity bar in baseball is set very low. DC would also be the easiest place to obtain a free stadium. A little seedy, but I wasn't an O's fan and wasn't going to pretend to be one.

Everybody ignored the fact that major league baseball failed in DC twice. The signs were there in 2004 that the city had changed. Face it, this is a an Orioles and Red Sox town... if NESN was carried on the basic cable tier, they would outdraw the Nats on MASN for viewers. It foolish to think that thirty to sixty thousand Bostonians decided to try to make a weeknight series against the worst team in the league nine hours away in DC. Most of these tickets are sold to local Red Sox fans, those filthy annoying donkeys filling up Buffalo Billiards on Friday night.

The hardcore Nationals fans have done well at repelling the surge, but the front office has gone out of their way to create as much of a home field environment for the Red Sox as possible. So that begs the question- would the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox be able to outdraw the Nats in DC? My initial reaction would be no way, but there have been way too many nights that Nats park has more resembled a Washington Freedom game. The PawSox regularly draw eight to twelve thousand... which isn't bad considering McCoy only seats about ten.

The problem is that MLB overestimated the demand for baseball in DC, just as they did in Tampa (Miami is another story). There is a solid TV market, but most people off the street (myself included) are Red Sox, Yankees, or Orioles fans. To create a large fan base here would be a daunting task, and so far neither the city nor the owners have been up to the task. There have been arguments that the fans will come once the team starts winning, but that hasn't played out in Tampa. While Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and even Baltimore have been beaten down by decades of losing, the Nats don't even seem to have gotten through the "New Car Smell" phase before the malaise set in.

The question for us DC residents is had Portland won the Expos sweepstakes and the consolation prize was and Independent or International League team. Would you have supported the team? Would affiliation have mattered? Just something to think about as the Nats are forced to build from the ground up. More than likely, though, MLB will assign the Nats a similar fate as the Senators.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Clippard Up

Wells down.

Can't say that I am surprised. Wells is a failed starter who was failing in every capacity as a reliever. Unable to throw strikes is no way to go through life, son.

Clippard was closing at Cuse, so in the off chance MacDougal needs a day off (that would be a good thing) or implodes (bad thing), he will probably be given the first shot. Everyone else in the pen has already failed to some degreee.

Dibbleism of the Day

'Closers NEVER get the hot chicks!" - discussing the forthcoming Owen Wilson/Reese Witherspoon baseball blockbuster, currently being filmed in DC

Less Depressing News

Zimmerman snapped out of his slump, Guzman is batting .467 over the last week, and Austin Kearns got a hit.

If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say...

Then don't say anything at all... at least that is what my mom used to tell me.

Of course, this has to be in reference to the Nats bullpen, which was up to its old tricks last night. The problem appears to be that these guys do not have an "out" pitch. Hell, MacDougal has just taken to throwing his fastball every time. And it's working for him. Most power relievers rely on either a plus slider or changeup to offset their fastball. The problem with guys like Wells, Hanrahan, Villone, and the scores of pitchers sent away, is that they are struggling to get strikes with their secondary pitches. This is why they are getting swatted. Villone was good for several weeks before he lost the touch on his slider.

Sadly, Julian Tavarez has emerged as a useful cog because he has secondary junk. He just isn't good enough to be relied upon for an extended period of time. The bullpen is improving as guys like Beimel and MacDougal have a defined role and can execute. But until they can get back down to eleven reliable pitchers (six bullpen guys), sending these one pitch guys out there for three or more innings will always have opposing batters salivating over the next fastball.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wil at SportsZone Tomorrow

High Noon.

I think tomorrow wil be a mobile lunch.

Nationals Baseball

Where a 14-20 record wouldn't be cause to panic... if they didn't combine that by going 6-27 against their mediocre division.

NL EAST, minus the Nats:
New York 29-31
Philly 26-29
Atlanta 29-34
Florida 29-36

Against each other:
New York 11-10
Florida 10-10
Atlanta 8-8
Philly 9-10

Talk about Darwinism.

Red Sox Series Preview

Tuesday: John Lannan vs. Brad Penny

Wednesday: Craig Stammen vs. John Lester

Thursday: Jordan Zimmermann vs. John Smoltz

ESPN would like you to believe that the Red Sox are an unstoppable juggernaut that cannot be contained. They have seven dominating starters and an impenetrable bullpen and their 1 – 9 hitters are better than all yours. ESPN would put the Red Sox -130 against the NL All-Stars in a seven game series. Of course, most people at ESPN have no clue what they are talking about.

In truth, the Red Sox currently face a few of the same issues the Nationals have faced this year. First, both teams play awful defense. They rank 29th and 30th in UZR/150. About the only positive move that the Red Sox have been able to make to address this is to install Nick Green as the full time shortstop, and he is a career backup who has picked up most of his major league at bats due to injury (Marcus Giles, now Jed Lowrie). Despite his speed, Jacoby Ellsbury’s metrics have been poor, and Jason Bay is their version of Josh Willingham. Mike Lowell has been awful at third and has to have management considering moving Youkilis back over, although even Youk has been banged up. The horrible defense has made starters Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, Jon Lester, and Dice-K look much worse than they have actually pitched, all posting an ERA-FIP of +0.50 or better. Detwiler, Stammen, and Zimmermann post similar numbers.

The second similarity is how each team has hit an offensive slump in June. Check out their numbers this month:
Pedroia: .178/.250/.455
Youkilis: .210/.372/.775
Bay: .246/.333/.783
Varitek: .190/.320/.653
Kotsay: .259/.286/.656
Lowell: .220/.299/.637
That is some ugliness right there. The only reason the Red Sox haven’t completely folded has been their pitching and David Ortiz’ Vitamin B-12 shipment finally clearing customs. The Nats have endured similar droughts, punctuated by Zimmerman’s recent .217/.313./631 slide (and 0-15 Toronto series) and Austin Kearns incomprehensible .063/.231/.293. Adam Dunn looks like he is not seeing the ball as well, and has resorted to slapping the ball on occasion.

The third is that they both have pitchers that they trying to exorcise. Dice-K is back on the DL with a minor shoulder strain, and Scott Olsen is floundering in AAA with diagnosed shoulder tendinitis. Management is struggling to figure out what to do with each once they are off the DL. The Nats at least have a reason to play Olsen, in an effort to keep their rookie innings down. The Red Sox have a front line starter rotting in AAA, and another rotting as a mop-up man.

The Red Sox do have more talented players; they paid out their backside for this roster. The Nats avoid the Red Sox two toughest tasks, Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield. The other guys are beatable. The chess match between the managers will be interesting. Manny will likely be tempted to go with the hideous Willingham/Dukes/Dunn outfield, but the team would be best served to give Harris two games in center and Dunn Wednesday off against Lester. I think Lannan gives the Red Sox a couple meatballs, but not enough to put the game out of reach. (Side note: uh, what is the deal with Brad Penny? The Red Sox have him listed at 230, way down from the 270 he was playing at with the Dodgers.) Two of three will be there for the taking again, as long as the bullpen continues to control damage.

What the Heck to Do with Scott Olsen

Scott Olsen is going to be completing his rehab stint with Syracuse in the coming weeks and will be eligible to rejoin the Nationals major league roster. The problem is what capacity can he serve? Even though the Nats don't have the '88-'90 Oakland A's rotation, but they have five young pitchers more capable of delivering a quality start than Scott Olsen. At least according to the fine numbers he is putting up at Syracuse. Hell, even Garrett Mock looks like he is figuring things out (96 pitches? Not bad). The Nationals have worked way too hard cleaning up the bullpen to let a possible malcontent like Olsen loose out there. Plus, Olsen would likely refuse a long-term bullpen assignment.

Hopefully, they can string out this rehab stint long enough for Olsen to either get healthy and find his '06 form, shut it down for the season, or demand a trade. Option 2 obviously sucks for all parties, and option 1 may be a bit utopic. So the question may not be what, but where?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Elastic Effect

The Nats were drowning in quicksand just a week or so ago, but now they are riding a brief, somewhat thrilling, three-game winning streak. They haven't been blowing teams out, but they are keeping themselves in games. The Nats suffered some misfortune to assist their general poor play. When games got tight in the later innings, every player had a "deer in the headlights" look. They didn't "know" how win and being afraid of failure begets more failure.

Take a look at what the Rockies have been doing this month. After struggling mightily for their first forty-five games, enough so Clint Hurdle was relieved of managerial duties, they have caught fire like nobody's business. The attitude around the locker room has been described as loose, everyone is having more fun. Of course winning is more fun. But here is another chicken/egg conundrum for the Nats. Which comes first: the winning or the fun?

The damning truth is the winning has to come first. Some teams stockpile talent using vastly superior resources (money) to assemble a winning team. However, most teams coming out of spring training know that it is hard work to win over a sixth month period, and only eight teams will reach that goal. The Nats that came out of spring training were a miscast group of young players and veterans. Nobody on the roster was 27 or 28, basically the age when players are entering their "prime". They did not have an established leader in the clubhouse, and thankfully management made an effort to solve that by the end of April by signing Zimmerman long term.

Then this week happened. The Nats had found every conceivable way to lose this season, but then on Wednesday, the bullpen held strong. Thursday, Craig Stammen delivered like he was back on the farm, only he was doing it in Yankee Stadium. Friday the Nats spoiled numerous opportunities to to put the game away with their bats, the defense tried desperately to give the game away with their gloves, but the bullpen pulled a couple critical outs to extend the game. Finally, they snuck off a single and it was over. Then on Saturday, to prove Friday's extra-inning bonanza wasn't a fluke, Willie Harris goes deep for another walk-off win. The Nats managed to collect a fifth (not of Jack Daniels) of their season win total in four days. Embarrassing and awesome at the same time.

While it would be foolish to believe that the Nats are going to on a 14-1 run, the signs are there. Cristian Guzman is even running hard down to first base to beat out ground balls. Why now? The players won a few games and it felt good, and now they believe they can win again. They believe the starting pitchers will keep them in games and the relief pitchers will not spoil things. Better yet, the pitchers are beginning to believe in themselves.

The "elastic effect" happens in all sports, though it is a phenomenon observed less in football, due to fewer games. Very few professional athletes are not born to lose; most have experienced success at every level to make to the highest stage, and losing is an unacceptable outcome. Over the course of a season, luck will even out with the best teams winning two out of three games... and the worst losing two out of three. Even if the Nats were the worst (many metrics show that they are not), they have been playing well below their potential and have been due for a little luck and momentum to go their way. To make a run at the all-time loss record, the Nats would need to seriously downgrade their roster, probably crushing any chance the team has to survive in this city long term.

Instead, expect the Nats to make small strides the rest of the year, with a few winning streaks followed by continued growing pains. The Nats need to go 43-52 down the stretch to avoid 100 losses, thereby improving on the 2008 disaster. Probably a reach, but far from impossible.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Bullpen Nails One Down

Well, John Lannan deserved this one. I know the dozens of people watching at home cringed when Manny emerged from the dugout and signaled for a reliever. It got dicey when Brett Gardner started running wild (stole on a pitchout, not easy) and MacDougal lost A-Rod. But MacDougal trusts his stuff, and he's worked the end game before. Cano had been lighting up the Nats, but he kept railing him with that fastball, and Cano kept stabbing, hoping for a mistake. I was hoping he change his plane, get him chasing a high fastball or one low and away, but he kept putting it knee-high, 4 inches out, 96 mph and tailing away. Finally, Cano did what he was supposed to, rolling the designed double play ball to second.

They get Joba today at lunch. The Nats got their one to avoid the sweep, and can fluster Chamberlain by working longer counts.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Nobody gets booed quite like A-Rod. He really has brought the plague to the Bronx.

Commitment to Defense...

Is a culture adjustment the Nationals will likely make at some point during the next nine months. Take the game last night, for instance. A key momentum shift occurred late in the game when Melky Cabrera robbed Elijah Dukes of bloop single to center, then an inning later Nick Swisher cut off a sure double from Austin Kearns with a fleet-footed play in right. Neither of these were guaranteed to generate runs, but the defense takes the pressure off CC Sabathia, or who ever is on the mound.

In the bottom of the seventh, the middle of the Yankees order ripped two balls to deep center that Dukes missed by a combined six inches. Dukes has the range to play center, but doesn't seem to have the reflexes to finish the play (may also explain his penchant for getting picked off). If he catches either of those balls, the Yankees may not win in regulation.

In the off season, the Yankees made a commitment to improving their defense. The first move was to remove Johnny Damon from center field completely and install him in left, where his lack of arm strength is not as evident, but his range could still excel. Their remaining outfield options going into the season included Xavier Nady, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner, and Nick Swisher (and Hideki Matsui, but he has been the primary DH). Nady going down week one opened up innings for the other three, who are all better defenders. Next, they replaced Giambi at first base with a much more athletic Mark Teixeira. They are still weak up the middle with Cano and Jeter, but both are playing better than 2008. Their defensive improvement have allowed them to survive the new Yankee Stadium by allowing fewer base runners. The Nationals will have the opportunity to make similar changes this off-season.

The other point that Rob Dibble brought up a couple times in the later innings was that walks are killing the Nats. The additional base runner will put the defense in a position to fail, such as with Pena's single in the eighth, which would have been easily caught with the infield at normal depth. I think this is more "Chicken-Egg" theory. Martis is not a big strikeout pitcher, and was clearly nibbling Barry Zito style to avoid the big hit. He managed minimal damage despite the five walks. Martis gets away with it because he locates his pitches well and doesn't get hit hard. Most Nats pitchers do not and will get hit hard. This leads to the conundrum of whether or not throw hittable pitches with a porous defense or continue to try and get swings out of the strike zone. The latter will up the strike out totals and take pressure off the defense in one aspect, but the risk of walks will force the hand on the others. The starters have been hit hard at times because they are throwing strikes.

In the end, and improved defense next season will vastly improve the pitchers' results.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nationals Baseball

Where Anderson Hernandez goes deep!

What is that, 285 to left?

Yankees Series Preview

Tuesday: Shairon Martis at CC Sabathia

Wednesday: John Lannan at C-M Wang

Thursday: Craig Stammen at Joba Chamberlain

Manny Acta will manage this series. I doubt that will have any impact on the outcomes of these games, though. The Nationals have been swamped in bad press, losing, and personnel changes all season, so this should not surprise anyone on the roster, though it may be a little discouraging to some of the barely legal starting pitchers.

The Yankees outspend everyone to amass the most prolific arsenal of sporting talent outside of Madrid. This is no secret. The Nationals made a fair offer for Mark Teixeira’s services, but were a near non-factor in the bidding. Experts knew that the Nats had little to no chance landing him. Honestly, for that amount of money, it wasn’t worth it. Teixeira’s numbers are highly inflated from playing in Texas and he would have struggled in a non-hitters’ park. It should also be noted that with the exception of 2006, his home/away splits look like something out of Denver. Most telling is that two organizations felt that prospects in return were enough to part with his services. Baseball Reference is not exactly flattering with its player comps, with only Jeff Bagwell knocking on Cooperstown’s door. And until his contract year, he only once did he crack the top 8 first basemen in Win Probability Added, and that was way back in 2004. His agent did a very good job of selling him, and the Yankees have been rewarded with 37 extra base hits by June 15th. This would be impressive if the Yankees didn’t have eight players on pace for thirty bombs each. In summary, the Yankees wildly overspent to get Teixeira, and given their new stadium, almost any first baseman can become a .300/.550/.950 guy.

By loading up on sluggers, the Yankees, similar to the Nationals, have been awful defensively. Their numbers appear improved this year, but that may be an effect of all the balls leaving the stadium. Brett Gardner has vastly improved the outfield defense, but their infield is dreadful. A-Rod looks like he may be headed to first base sooner than anticipated, and Robinson Cano appears to be asleep while the ball is being pitched. If the Nats can put the ball in play consistently, the holes are there.

On the flip side, Martis, Lannan, and Stammen must keep the ball down. Even pop flies and broken bat bloopers turn into home runs here. I really do not trust Stammen in this kind of environment, but he has the advantage of the day game, so if he goes after hitters early, hopefully he can trick them into chasing balls out of the zone. The most damning stat of all is the Yankees 0.68 BB/K ratio, second to the Mets. The Phillies and Braves are also amongst the league leaders in this stat, and the Nats have fared poorly against all those teams. The Yankees will not give away outs.

Dead Man Walking will have his hands full taking one out of three in the Bronx. The weak link is Cashman, who is insistent upon giving away every fifth game by trotting Wang out there. Offensively, the key is to just put the ball in play. Hits can’t happen without that, and home runs will happen naturally here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Was Sunday's Lineup an F-U to the Front Office

It is hard to imagine anyone filling out that particular lineup card under any circumstances. Acta appeared to be attempting to extract as little from his available players as possible.

With the DH available, Adam Dunn, the team's least skilled defensive player, was sent out to left field. The best defensive player on the roster, Ryan Zimmerman, was written in as the DH. Of course... wait, maybe Zimmerman needed a day off... nope, Monday is a travel day. Manny just chose to make a deliberate decision to cost his team a run. Replacing Zimmerman at third base was... Willie Harris? I know the Nats do not carry a backup 3rd baseman because Zimmerman must be in the lineup at all times, but this is stupid. Harris has 60 innings of pro experience at 3rd base... may as well put Dunn there.

Next, we have Corey Patterson in the starting lineup. OK, the Nats are grieving and Kearns has been awful. But who did Patterson pleasure to get the number six slot in the batting order? He hits worse than most pitchers and given his speed, should bat no other place than ninth, as to not clog the bases in front of the lead off hitter. Oh yeah, Corey Patterson doesn't get on base, so that isn't worry.

Nobody fills in that lineup card unless they are trying to make statement. Despite his best efforts, the Nats posted another early lead before karma caught them.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The Nationals have made a mess out have what could have been a memorable turning point in the franchise this week with the draft. They took the Big Gun, got another first round pick signed, and despite the continued skid on the field, appeared to be playing competitively.

First, some idiot in the front office leaks news that Manny is out before anybody else seems to know what is going on. At this point, I think this guy fabricated the whole thing because he was tired of watching Manny. Now, I am looking at friggin Corey Patterson in right field. I know the Nats went from an overloaded outfield to a drained one with Willingham away and Kearns aborting his baseball career. But how in God's name did they find the one guy in AAA that is a worse hitter than Kearns? What value does he bring to the team. Patterson has been on a steady decline for the past six seasons and wasn't exactly lighting up AAA. Even his defense has steadily declined to the point that he is not noticeable more valuable than Kearns.

I don't get it... why not just send Kearns out there to either sink or swim until Willingham gets back, or promote a player that will provide a skill that Kearns doesn't, such as awesome defense or adequate hitting? Just stupid.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Acta Status

Well, it looks like Manny is going to be the last to know if it does occur, as everyone from Fox Sports to SI to the Post seem to be in on the leak. The timing seems peculiar, as he hasn't done anything over the past week to seemingly further jeopardize his Dead Man Walking status. But when have the Nats ever done anything by the book? It is almost as if they are deliberately embarrassing him by having this hang over his head until Monday. Completely unprofessional.

Not a fan of giving Riggleman close to 100 games with which to work. What if the Nats catch fire and play .500 ball from here out? Are they stuck with him? Manny clearly wasn't getting the best out of the roster in April or May... why not then?

Another front office mess.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rays the Series Preview

No Steaks, just baseball nonsense.

Friday: Craig Stammen vs. Matt Garza

Saturday: Jordan Zimmermann vs. Andy Sonnanstine

Sunday: Ross Detwiler vs. James Shields

To put the last week in perspective, if you remove the high and low values, the Nats are averaging a little over a run and a half per game (overall, it was 17 runs in 8 games, 7 coming during Lannan’s CG). That makes winning very difficult. The pitching staff has held up their end of the bargain, giving up just 3.5 runs/game (removing the high and low values). Lower scoring games are more manageable, but holy crap guys. Manufacture a run. It looks like the Nats bullpen may finally have rounded into form, though I think Colome or Tavarez will get the boot once Kip Wells returns. This is extremely good news.

The Rays are much better than their .500 record indicates and should have no problem taking at least two of three, though a sweep is likely. Now that they have moved Kazmir to the DL, their rotation is deeper than almost anyone, especially if they don’t allow Andy Sonnanstine to pitch on the road. Their weakness, which the Nats can pounce on, is their bullpen. It isn’t awful, but they just aren’t as effective as last season. The Nats, scored 6 of their seven runs in the Reds’ series after the fifth inning. If this is trend, they may be able to steal a game or two.

In steps Lee Corso: NOT SO FAST. The Rays are the highest scoring team in baseball and sport the second highest run differential in the league… and they are at home. Corso then puts on a Ray Romano mask and the home crowd goes wild.

The important thing for the Nats will be if J Zimm gets his pitches. After pitching in the rain last Thursday after the rain out, his schedule was off so the skipped start was probably a wise decision. Hopefully he continues to throw strikes. Adam Dunn will be at DH, which should vastly improve the defense, and the turf should help the infield out. This give Manny fewer options in the outfield, but Willingham, Harris, and Dukes would be the most productive bet for all three games.

The Nats are my Ray of cloud on a sunny day...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

8 for 12

Austin Kearns has struck out 8 of his last 12 at bats... that isn't a slump; that's a pitcher.

Nats Vote for Games to End in Ties

No more extra innings... can you believe the Nats lead the majors in extra inning games this year, with eight? Would you believe they have lost all eight? How the hell can that be possible?

Tonight's savior was the rain, allowing the Nats to rally to tie in the ninth. The villain? Villone had a bad run, but you can't fault him for the power outage in innings 1-8. Aaron Harang was awful last night and still shut the Nats out for 7+ innings. Adam Dunn had an atypically horrible game, popping with a runner on third and getting picked off second, both with two out. Manny Acta pulled Martis from a great start to pinch hit him with a guy whose batting average was only 6 points higher than going into the game. Martis was at 81 pitches and was effectively fooling the Reds. He should have stayed in the game. Shockingly, the bullpen didn't explode in everyone's faces. Martis could have easily pitched the eighth and ninth innings. Now most of the bullpen is worn heading into the travel schedule.

The Nats continue to find new and creative ways to lose games and set themselves up for future failures. Manny Acta is being given a golden opportunity to pass Alan Trammell and Art Fletcher on the all-time worst managers list. Trammell was managing a AAA team in Detroit and Fletcher had the misfortune of inheriting the Phillies in the '20s. Manny is just a few losses away!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Support Your Nats! Show What 15-41 means to You!!

It is a long standing tradition for disappointed fans of a team to show their displeasure by wearing paper bags over their heads during games. Cameramen are quite apt at locating these folks and getting them some face time, fulfilling these fans efforts to further embarrass the team and its officials. Some famous examples have been The 'Aints, the Paper Lions, as well as some more recent victims.

The Nats need a remedy, and they need one quickly. Drafting Stephen Strasburg is wonderful and all, but one pitcher will not save this team. Therefore, I recommend showing your displeasure by wearing your own paper Mask mask, as seen below. The players will be scared straight if 6500 people show up at the stadium as Rocky Dennis. Management will have the farm system rebuilt before the next homestand.

The necessary steps one must take when the home team won't empower themselves to improve. In extreme circumstances, such as a team chasing 120 losses, I recommend forgoing the bag for the Mask.

Frustrating Fifth

Those of you who braved the rain delay got to see a decent pitching duel between two offensively challenged teams. The Nats' season numbers are great, and the Reds are average, but both have been struggling the past two to three weeks. The injury bug has been the culprit for both teams, though a lesson in clutch hitting might help as well.

Know neither team was going to score much, everybody knew that each base runner would be critical. This is why what happened to Ross Detwiler in the fifth inning was so irritating. After giving up the lead off double, he went and blew away Ryan Hanigan. That brought up the pitcher Cueto, who he walked on four pitches that were not remotely close to the zone. WTF? And it was bad pitch selection too. Started him off with a breaking ball, which got away, and then tried to aim three pitches to get back ahead. It's the freaking pitcher! Throw him a strike and he'll likely roll one to second. So with runners on first and second, Detwiler comes back and humiliates Willy Taveras on three pitches. Awesome. Should have been inning over, threat eliminated. But with two outs, he tried to start Hairston off with a slider and it just missed (he also just barely laid off), which led to more missing and four and a half pitch walk (3-0 fastballs don't count as pitches, unless the batter feigns interest). He out pitched Phillips and had him way behind his fastball, but Phillips pool-cued one down the first base line to drive in two runs. Lucky? A little... but once again, the inning could have been over. Detwiler escaped further damage when Hernandez's bullet back up the middle hit him.

The lesson? There aren't many scenarios where putting a guy on first base with four pitches is a good idea, unless his name is Pujols or something. But when that player has a career OPS of .233 with zero extra base hits, you may as well let the other side have four outs. The Nats went on to lose 3-2. The young guys like Detwiler and Zimmermann are fun to watch, but like most inexperienced players, they will make enough little mistakes that will make it difficult to avoid losing 115 games.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Some Notes About 102 mph Fastballs

Yes, everybody knows Stephen Strasburg can bring the gas, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that Scott Boras is probably not out of his mind pushing the envelope here. Think of how many pitchers have come into the league throwing 98+. Most of those pitchers did not gain velocity; as a matter of fact most immediately begin losing velocity. Basically, there should be no breaking in period. Strasburg is likely at his peak and he needs to cash in now. By the time he hits arbitration, he may only be throwing mid-90s and could be considered damaged goods.

Even in the event he doesn't start losing juice, he may not be able to maintain it. Take a look at Joel Zumaya. He has had some injuries, and shoulder stress fractures are not common. He struggles to keep velocity and health. Teammate Justin Verlander may be a better comparison, as he starts and can touch triple-digits. Last year he got pounded because he lost 2 mph. He seems to have rediscovered it in the meantime and is lights out. However, he will be a much greater risk as a free agent than a Johan Santana because he relies on velocity more than location and consistency.

For perspective, check out this list. Those four guys at the top of the list will cash in huge in their first year of free agency, despite injuries or erratic results. The two former Marlins behind them did, and they have been good, great sometimes, but rarely the model of consistency.

This is toughest negotiation for the Nats: how do they put a price on good, great sometimes? They price is always driven by "great all the time."

Reds Series Preview

That is, unless the stadium got swept down the river this morning.

Tuesday: Johnny Cueto vs Jordan Zimmermann

Wednesday: Aaron Harang vs Ross Detwiler

Thursday: Micah Owings vs Shairon Martis

It is clear the state of pitching depth within the Nationals organization is now at epic fail. Ross Detwiler was really only supposed to be up for a couple starts before returning to Harrisburg, or maybe Syracuse. Remember, he only had 124 innings of unspectacular high-A ball under his belt, and until this May, his major league potential was a question mark. Now that he is here, and has proven he can pitch at this level for a while, what the heck is his deal? He strikes out batters, walks a few… yet has yielded a freakishly high .358 BABIP in his pro career. This has been the norm when he was wild at Potomac last year, solid at Harrisburg, and now with the big club. It seems to be just him as all the other young Nats pitchers’ BABIPs seem to vary from club to club. So what is making Detwiler so hittable, as opposed to John Lannan, who apparently has adopted a Zen-like power to induce double-plays and cruise through games without strike outs? Something that will be looked into this week…

Lucky for the Nationals they do not have to face the Reds’ best hitter or pitcher. Sorry Mr. Harang and Mr. Cueto, but this guy, when healthy, is the #1. Joey Votto also continues to deal with some sort of condition that really is not being fully disclosed. Both are on the DL. The Reds have gone 6-11 in games Votto did not start and complete since May 15th, including 2-8 on the road. The Reds really have to adjust their strategy to generate runs without much power in their lineup right now. Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, and Laynce Nix will hit home runs if they get contact, but they fail to do that pretty often. They do not steal many bases, and also find themselves at the bottom of the table in doubles, despite having Willy Taveras’ speed. The Reds thrive off the long ball, but cannot get things going if it isn’t there. This should help the Nats mask their poor defense.

In the end, though, the Nats really have to find some offense of their own to take some pressure off the pitching staff (which looks like it got to Stammen Sunday). They can start by parking Austin Kearns on the bench for a couple days. An outfield of Dukes, Harris, and Dunn will be much more efficient. Getting Willingham out of bed would also help, as he was starting to round into form; with the Nats luck, he has swine flu. Is Alberto Gonzalez better than Anderson Hernandez? Probably, not that that is difficult. Improving the defense up the middle would be nice, but it is hard to tell with these options.

Washington Slumpbusters

From Jayson Stark:

• How 'bout this bizarre Phillies stat? Since May 12, Brad Lidge and Jamie Moyer have combined for six losses (they're 1-6). The rest of the Phillies' staff is 18-2 in that stretch (with one loss each by reliever Chad Durbin and now-injured starter Brett Myers).

That 1 win? That was Jamie Moyer's 250th against the Nationals, of course.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Nationals Baseball

Trying to get Livan Hernandez to 300 wins as well!!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

No Mets Preview

The double was a great opportunity to get to a game a choose you own seats. I was able to score a couple wet seats close enough to see the hair coming out of the Unit's nose. I need to bring a real camera next time.

The game illustrated a few things. First, the Nats early season offensive explosion is history. Dunn's a wreck, Zim's reaching for balls and rolling them back up the box, and the catching platoon isn't quite ML caliber. Kearns has officially been written off for the year and Guzman looks ready to check out. One run in three straight games is inexcusable. Johnson's stuff isn't exactly electric. He tagged 92 on the gun a couple times per inning, but was usually at 89 on his fastball and 85 on his slider. He should have been pounded.

They followed that up by allowing former Nats "ace" Tim Redding to skate away on some uninspired, yet effective pitching. No matter what choice Manny makes in the bullpen seems to be wrong. I'm not saying the Nats should give up on Hanrahan, but the velocity is down and he needs to figure it out before killing another winnable game.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Looking at a Possible Free Agent Reliever

Eric Seidman notes how Chad Qualls has changed has simplified his pitch selection to become a fairly dominant closer for Arizona.

Steven at FJB has harped on Rizzo's fetish of groundballers, so you would HOPE that if Qualls is not resigned by October 1 that the Nationals have him at the top of their Christmas list. And given Arizona's need for any bat with a pulse, feel free to deal.


The weather is fine, here at 1:20 pm... instead, we'll wait for the weather to move in to get the game started.

Nationals Baseball

Where the Four Hour Rain Delay Happens.

What is funny, this isn't even the most ignorant thing Nationals' management has done in the past twelve hours. We understand the desire to get the game in. But once the game is postponed, why reschedule for 4:30 the next day? Clearly who ever made that decision has no clue as to how the weather patterns work in the DC area. Or they are trying to create other epic failures to divert attention from the train wreck on the field.

The weather is supposed to be fairly clear from 1 to 3, giving plenty of time to get at least half the doubleheader in. This would also give them the option to delay game two if the weather persists.

With first pitch at 4:30 and the peak of the rain likely coming at 6 followed by thunderstorms, the first game will wash out by the fourth inning. Then the second game will be lucky to get in at all, starting after the storms.

It is almost as if San Francisco slipped Stan a couple bills to find a way to get Johnson's 300th win back to AT&T Park. I would believe that if I actually thought anybody in the front office was smart enough to pull it off.

Basically, the Nats really did have a chance to get a game in today, for sure, and they blew. Naturally, they will blame the bullpen.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Longest... Rain Delay... Ever!

When we were in college, my roommates and I had a PS1 and a copy of Triple Play 2000. It seemed like a stupid name for a game, as the other three franchises (Madden, NHLPA, and NBA Live) all had normal names. Hence, we had a contest for who could come up with the most ridiculous baseball-related game name. After hours of shotgunned beers and brainstorming, we passed up such fine candidates as Passed Ball 2001, Intentional Walk 2001, Out Out Relief 2001, and Foul Pole Baseball. The most dreadful sounding sequel to the EA franchise we worked out was Rain Delay Baseball. No action or stats... just rain and tarps.

The Rollercoaster

Nationals games, if nothing else, tend to be exciting. They can score, and they can be scored upon. Anything can happen, and no lead is safe.

Last night was a prime example. They put numbers up against the reigning Cy Young winner and still found themselves down late.

Bob Howry vs the Nats since 2008: 4 G, 2.1 IP, 9 ER, 2 L, 2 BS, 34.71 ERA.

Hopefully Bochy sees fit to send him out again this week.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nationals Baseball

Where two runs score on a walk. Not sure how to score that one. It was so ugly it sent Jesus Flores back to the DL suffering from embarrassment. Sucks for Flores... players only get a few shots to make it. Hopefully he can pick up where he left off next year.

Man, do the Nats like beating up Bobby Howry or what?

Not Really News, but Yes, Randy St. Claire Has Been Fired

I noted last week that much of the Nationals coaching staff has already lost their jobs. Prior to that, though, we knew that somebody was going to be made scapegoat, regardless of how many guys went up and down between the big and little clubs.

Well, it has finally happened. A safe move, as McCatty has been working with most of these guys the past two seasons. I wouldn't expect the Earth to stop, though.

Expect Manny to hang on for another couple months, unless the tailspin somehow gets worse.


If the Nats were losing every game 8-3, it would be easy to point out their shortcomings. But with the array of 2-1 and 4-2 losses to go along with the shootouts, it can be difficult to point at a single flaw. It does seem that the Nats compound mistakes very quickly. A botched double play always seems to lead to a hung curve ball. 2 out walks always find their way home via a dying quail down the line. As much as some teams make luck for themselves, the Nats produce plenty of opportunities for bad luck to overwhelm.

They are not the first Washington franchise to suffer from this problem, and maybe Keanu is the guy to come give a pep talk. Manny certainly isn't about rallying the troops. But I still think that Anderson Hernandez is worried about spiders at second base.

Austin Kearns in Centerfield?

He looked a little over-matched going for balls over his head, but this is a team that was trotting out Lastings Milledge for a while. With Dukes hamstring on the mend, I'd limit his CF time till he's 100%. And even then, Willie Harris should get the majority of the time out there.

Giants Series Preview

Tuesday: Tim Lincecum vs. Craig Stammen

Wednesday: Randy Johnson vs. Jordan Zimmermann

Thursday: Matt Cain vs. Ross Detwiler

Wow, and the hits just keep coming for the Nationals. After going on the road to pad the two division leaders’ stats, the Nats come home to face last year’s Cy Young Award winner, the last 300 game winner the league will have for a decade (if ever), and the 2007 and 2008 award winner for unluckiest pitcher ever who is getting all the luck this year.

Hopefully, this series will instead highlight the resistible force vs. the moveable object theme. We know the Nationals’ pitching and defense has been more than generous to opposing offenses. It is the Giants’ offense that may choose not to take advantage, as only Seattle averages fewer runs per game. Their “Who-dat” lineup has posted a ghastly 78 OPS+ this season, and they continue to give prime corner at-bats to noodle-bat Travis Ishikawa and decomposing before our eyes Rich Aurilia. Their 26 team home runs ranks just ahead of Adrian Gonzalez (yes, that is a guy, not a team), and to be frank, they could be the most offensively challenged team of the decade, just ahead of the flaccid 2004 Backs.

Ahh, the things we wish. However, it will likely be decided by Lincecum maintaining his dominant form, Johnson making history, and the Nationals leaving roughly 36 runners on base in a 3-2 loss to Cain. Lincecum is actually striking out more batters per 9 than last season and has given up zero home runs while posting a 1.02 WHIP over his last eight starts. Shades of Greinke… It would not surprise me to see something special Tuesday. If Randy Johnson were not chasing history, I’d say he would be hittable. However, the Nats do like to take a reality show approach to staying in the limelight, so expect vintage Johnson.

As far as the Nationals pitchers go, expect strikes, as Detwiler and Stammen are on stupidly low pitch counts, and hopefully somebody gets J. Zimm settled down before he puts together another first inning implosion.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What the Hell Just Happened?

The Nationals started the month off 6-5-1, with a good shot to go to 7-5 later in the year. They were coming off a road trip that wasn't particularly impressive, but got them some wins nonetheless. However, in the last game of that trip, Barry Zito intentionally walked Ryan Zimmerman to effectively terminate his thirty game hit streak.

SInce then, the only plummeting faster is GM. Free fall doesn't even describe what just happened. A 2-9 homestand followed by a 0-6 swing against rival Mets and Phillies. It was a train wreck only Richard Kimball could enjoy. Clearly that hitting streak really had an effect on the team. Yes, streaks are stupid, but baseball players as a whole are superstitious nutbags.

In conclusion, the Nats went 8-20-1 in the month of May... sadly this was a 1.5 game improvement over April. So how is that for half-full? Now by December maybe we can see some .500 ball!!

Hit Tracker

The Hit Tracker site is always fun to go back and relive fine moments in Nationals baseball. The most telling thing I learned today: NEVER pitch to Albert Pujols.

More Nationals History

From Jayson Stark at ESPN:

Adam Dunn has hit 16 home runs this year. That team he plays for, the Nationals, has won 13 games. So I know what you're wondering: Has there ever been a guy who had more homers in a season than his team had wins? And the answer: Heck, no. The Washington Times' Mark Zuckerman figured that one out, with the help of the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR magician David Vincent.

See, this season may not a be a loss after all! The only thought I have is that Dunn seems to consistently finish at 40 homers... yeah, the '62 Mets may be breaking out the champagne.