Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Not this S again

Heavens to betsy a real live scandal in Washington. Who would have expected that?

Every two-bit blow dried TV sports hack is so happy to have a chance to pick up one of the precious local Emmy's for their in-depth coverage of this "cheating" scandal.


I repeat my self: I couldn't care less about steroids in sports.  And neither should anyone else.

It's cheating you say. It's against the rules.  So are emory boards and corked bats. 

Unless the integrity of the game is at stake (i.e. I'm looking at you Pete Rose) why should I care if some of the trained performers are destroying their bodies for my amusement?  I don't.  They bought the ticket, they are taking the ride.  They made a choice: I want to fame and money that comes from athletic achievement and I'm willing to sacrifice my health for it.

It's called freedom folks.  Maybe you'd make a different choice.  Good for you.  Now shut the F up and let me watch 600 ft home runs.

But now we're going to be subjected to another round of anguished moralizing from TV radio and bloggers all dredging this crap up.  

One positive at least for me is: there will be a ton of ink and electrons spilt over the next few weeks on this subject.  And I can safely ignore it all.  I probably would have wasted my time reading about the sport itself.  What will I do with all this free time?

I baseball news I care about: grapevine brings news that Nick J. is a target of TWGMIBB.  Usually, custom dictates that you don't deal in your own division.  But when it comes to TWGMIBB, you HAVE to. 

Now, all that he's got on his ledger to deal are potential mediocraties like Jon Niese, Mike Antonini, Eddie Kunz, and big leaguer Bobby Parnell.

Check out their numbers.  They may have "potential" but not one of them screams useful big leaguer.  Parnell throws hard but then again so does Hanrahan.  Neither knows exactly where it's going.  The others are fodder, maybe a tick better than Clippard and more advanced than say McGeary or Arenson. 

The caveat I always hear is: well you can't expect much for Nick J.  He's hurt all the time.  Well, he ain't hurt now.  And you are only buying the next four months.  If you want to add 2-3 wins to your team over that time (hint that may be the difference between making the postseason and not) you are going to have to pay.  Even better, there is no long term commitment involved.  $3m tops.  No one else on the trade market offers a better combination of win now and don't pay later.

Rizz: if you are still awake after D-Cab's last start then here's what you need to be looking for: a young middle infielder who can get on base.  Pitching is second but please don't panic and deal Nick J. for middle relievers.  Just don't.  I find it real hard to believe that the Red Sox turned down Nick J. for Manny Delcarmen.  I have no doubt Theo would do that deal in a heartbeat.

Call Sabien in San Francisco.  He needs to win NOW.  He doesn't have a contract for next year and if they don't win the west or at least get the wild  card then he's gone.  That means his focus in the next four months.  And he's got a buttload of young pitching.  Alderson, Bumgarner and a few others.  Finally, they have a sucking chest wound at 1st.  Nick J. might make the Giants 4-5 wins better over the next four months just by benching the suckitude they've been running out there.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Comparing the losing

There isn't much to say about the current 6 game losing streak.  How many times can you write about a decent start, some early offense and then a bullpen collapse.  It's like having to watch a community theater production of Death of a Salesman over and over again.  The acting is amateurish but the lines sparkle at times but in the end you are depressed at both the content and the players.

So I'd rather compare what this losing feels like versus previous bouts of losing. 

The '08 start: my recollections are of having almost no hope from the get go.  Games would go by with no discernible offensive highlights.  It felt like defeat was preordained.

2nd Half of '05.  Maybe the closets to this stretch in that the first half success gave you hope every night.  Hey 10 in a row was possible so maybe tonight's the night the magic returns. 

This may be the worst of all simply because game after game is a stomach punch.  The top of the order always leaved you with hope that an insurmountable lead could be generated or a small deficit could be overcome.  Then, the Lucy-like bullpen whips the football out from your toe and bam flat on your back.

I am even awaiting the first successful late inning close out by the pen.  It has to be coming, the odds have to fall in their favor once right?   It will seem like a little green shoot, a little bit of sunshine has finally appeared and optimism peeks its fragile head out for a look around. 

Then ka boom they collapse again smashing optimism and finally deflating you once and for all.  Maybe I'm wrong, maybe they can lose a town.

I like all this trade chatter of the past few days.  I hope it's true that Boston and the Giants are looking to upgrade at 1B (SF) or DH (Bos).  Both of those teams have loaded farm systems esp. pitching.  At this point, would you love to see Manny Delcarmen at the back end of the bullpen?  Bard or Buchholtz too.  And would FJB's head explode if they got Michael Bowden? Could he type his last name without twiching?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Only two things you need from Shinin's piece

Here they are:

"The most important factor, way above any other, is the team's
competitiveness on the playing field. When you don't have that, it's
difficult, no matter how good the market or the stadium, to be a
successful draw. Once [the Nationals] turn the corner in terms of
competitive strength, I see them being a very successful franchise."

Exactly.  Please go into your archives and read the same stories about the Capitals three years ago.  They were a serious candidate for contraction. Now, the #2 draw in the city.  Again, large media market + high median income= successful franchise.  And, to all those imbiciles who say baseball won't work in Washington, please pray tell where would it work better?  Portland?  Las Vegas?  Mexico City?  Where. give me a city.  Put a 100 loss team in Portland and they would earn enough at the gate to pay the clubhouse attendant.

However, summing up the Nationals' health, the magazine wrote: "The
owners of the Washington Nationals have badly botched the job thus far
of trying to successfully bring Major League Baseball to the nation's
capital for the third time. Blame the Lerner family, who bought the
team in 2006 for $450 million and dominate the ownership group.
Managing Principal Owner Theodore Lerner and the four other family
members who are principal owners furnish one of the league's lowest
payrolls despite a new, taxpayer-financed stadium."

OK, once again we have to go over the whole taxpayer financed thing again.  Did the Lerners ever have the option of building a privately financed stadium?  No.  If JKC couldn't do it then it ain't never gonna happen.

So, since the DC government realized what a massive patronage machine a stadium would be, they wanted to control the graft themselves.

I ask the Forbes writer (and all the other whiners about taxpayer financed stadiums), Do the Nats (or any other team) play their games there for free?  Does the city get rent payments?  A cut of concessions?  Taxes on parking and businesses in the area.  Metro ridership increases.  Whether it was a godd investment is a seperate matter.  (The answer is no of course since any "investment" the governemnt makes is de facto a bad decision)

Furrthermore, having a taxpayer financed stadium isn't necessarly an advantage. If you think it is, ask Jerry Moyes as he tries to get out of the terrible 30 year lease he had to sign to get his hockey rink in Phoenix.  Say right now the Nationals had a major problem with the stadium.  What leverage do they have to put their ballpark right?  None.  If the city decides to blow them off, all they can do is withhold rent.  And we already see how much that is a PR loser.

Forbes magazine reported last month that the Nationals turned the second-largest profit in baseball last year: $42.6 million.
Payroll isn't any higher this year than last.  So that 35% drop is all out of the profit.  THe Lerner's aren't dumping their own millions in . . . yet.

So, stop with all the they can't sign Strassburg stuff.

They can and will.  In fact, they can pay more than just about every other team in baseball.  Look at new Yankee Stadium.  Think they are paying for that $200m payroll with those attendence figures?  Nope.  Boston maybe but they aren't the type to take a chance like signing an unproven pitcher to a huge contact.  Matsusaka WAS proven, the Japanese leagues are about AA quality and he was dominent there. 

Boras is out to get the biggest contract he can.  And Washington is the place where that is going to happen.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Buster's a reader?

Highly doubtful.

But I have irrefutable proof that I raised this topic before My. Olney.

I can also say the sun will rise in the East tomorrow and be ahead of a lot of prognosticators.

Of more interest is this nugget from the Times:

Indeed, the Nationals have seen this act far too many times already this year. Six times they've entered the ninth inning either leading or tied and wound up losing. Seven times they've scored six or more runs and still lost, including the last three days.
And then the most damning stat of them all: Washington relievers have had 15 opportunities to save games this year. They've blown 10 of them.
"We have tried everybody and their cousins, and we still can't get anybody to put a zero up in the eighth and the ninth innings," Acta said. "And that's really just killing us."
Acta has tried Hanrahan. He has tried Julian Tavarez. He has tried Kip Wells. And he has tried Beimel. The only thing that has changed is the name on the back of the uniform, leaving the beleaguered manager with growing discontent in his clubhouse and few answers for how to remedy the problem.

Does the "discontent" spring from legitimate concerns by the players that Manny is misusing the bullpen?

If that's the case and the players have decided they don't trust their leadership then the game's up.  No organization can function when the leadee's don't trust and believe in the leader.  It's true for Boy Scouts through the Army and right on to the Shady Acres condo board. 

Of course, when the hitters stank last year Lenny Harris was the sacrificial lamb.  Does Randy St. Claire have a long term lease?  His tenure has seen Nats pitchers throw better than expected for the most part.  Esp. the bullpen guys who have thrown an inordinate number of innings with decent results the last few years.

Maybe he'll survive with the old chicken salad out of chicken s(*&^ defense. 

Nats send Terrell Young, the #1 player taken in the Rule V draft back to Cincinnati.  Fortunately, no one from this draft is doing much.  David Patton is the only one I could think of who's still in the Bigs (aside from Everth Cabrera the Padres SS).  He'd fit right in with the pen now.  Don't they get seom money back for returning Young?  That's got to be the reason.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Widespread indifference

That's what I would call it.  Another would be a real bad sign.

Last night I was watching the Caps game at a local watering hole.  It was about 9:45 or so when Steckel potted the game winner.

I figured I'd hang around long enough to finish my adult beverage of choice and catch the first couple of innings of the Nats game.  10:00 rolls around and . . . not ONE of the innumerable TV's in the establishment turned to the Nats game.  I thought, hey I'm wrong this is a travel day. . .

Nope.  NFL rewind appeared on three screens showing a game from three years ago!  Rerun NFL beats live baseball in the NoVa 'burbs.

Folks, Nats town is a ghost town!

In the nobody saw that coming department:

MLB attendance has dropped 5.2 percent from last season. The Yankees are down 11.9 percent.  The Tigers have lost 27 percent.  The Nationals have dropped 35.2 percent.

If the Tigers fall out of contention, they'll look back and think 27% was a great number. With their $100m+ payroll, won't they be desperate to deal.  Magglio Ordonez, maybe even Miguel Cabrara.  Certainly Dontrelle Willis or Nate Robertson.

 And even at -35%, the Lerners are still turning a profit!

Finally, the Sports Guy and his weekly guest JackO did a bit coming up with a nickname for our next #1 starter Steve S.

Their choice: The Anchorman.

Works on two levels: the anchor of the rotation and as a homage to the movie. 

A big inning against the Anchorman . . . "Well, that escalated quickly"

The Anchorman in a brawl . . . "The Anchorman introduced Utley to Jack Johnson and Tom O'Leary."

A swinging strikeout by the Anchorman . . . "You stay classy, Ryan Howard"

Fun Nats Fact 'o the Day

When the EXPOS? traded Ellis Valentine to the Mets in 1981, what relief pitching prospect did they recieve in return?

The answer, in the .000000000000000001% chance that you care, is Jeff Reardon.

I am starting to think that MLB Properties still has an inventory of Expos trivia they haven't used up and damnit Bud isn't going to let perfectly lousy trivia go to waste.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Yes, I know the sabermetricians say lineup protection is a myth.

But it's a strange coincidence that the FoF has a 28 game hitting streak and is hitting
.346/.394/.577/.971 now that they guy BEHIND him is hitting .311/.451/.660/ 1.112!!!!

And I defy anyone to say they don't look forward to an Adam Dunn AB.  He's been cover-your-eyes awful in the field, maybe even worse than we were led to believe but if that moon shot into the picnic area in centerfield yesterday didn't put a smile on your face you aren't a baseball fan.  Even if you believe the big boppers are overrated and you'd like to see more bunting, an athletic achievement like that blast is a wonder to behold. So up yours bunters.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hey, I want my team on the juice

Dodger fans and beat columnists are killing Manny for the roid thing.

Right now, I only wish JJ Davis, Wily Mo and Kory Casto hadn't missed out on the steroids era.

Give me good baseball, even if its through chemistry. I'll take it.

It's better than what we've got now.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

An AARP Bullpen?

So now it's Ron Villone as the designated Nats LOOGY.

Since the start of the season, we've has Kip Wells, Julian Tavarez and now Villone added to the pen.

What do these guys have in common?

Old and freely available.

We're OK with letting Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera throw BP in the rotation because we're trying to develop young pitching.

But Steve Shell and Mike Hinckley . . . sorry guys.  Your couple of innings of suck gets you a bus ticket out of town.

From one point of view, this roster shuttling is understandable.  The pressure to win, at any cost, is pretty high right now.  Probably as high as any team has had that is 10 games under .500 before the idea of May. 

The Nats FO feels the need to do SOMETHING.  And to be honest, in terms of panic moves, this beats the living daylights out of Larry Andersen for Jeff Bagwell.

But fella's please remember the Plantm.  Develop young players you can cost-control into the future. Get rid of vets who won't be around when you hope to turn the corner. 

Go ahead and give these greybeards their shot. Just remember if they show any sign of life be prepared to deal them as soon as you can.  Mike Stanton for Shairon Martis is the model.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It's hard to be a columnist

I understand it must be hard to be a sports columnist.  Really.  Are there enough topics, enough interesting storyline available to fill two or three 1,200 word columns a week.

Not only do you need content but you have to drum up some interest, some controversy too.

Even if your logic and conclusions are thinly supported by the evidence.

Of course it's Boswell and his latest screed.

Soon, the Caps were the worst team in hockey, the laughingstock of the '70s. For nine years, they couldn't even make the 16-team playoffs. Then, when they did, the Caps spent the '80s being dubbed the chokers of April. The Caps' hardcore fans, enough of them to support a franchise, loved the team. But nobody else cared. The media, knowing a stock joke when they saw one, played the Caps for chuckles, just like the Nats now.

I'm sure this is the story line as you and Kornheiser sat around the white wine and brie dispensers in the Post's news room.  Would the history of the Caps be different had Pat LaFontaine hit the post in '87

I suppose the Stan Kasten-led Atlanta Braves with 14 straight playoff appeareances but just one WS title was an abysmal failure too?

So, the Capitals lost the capital for 33 years.

Lost the capital?  Hmmm.  What does that mean?  Hockey wasn't a top draw in Washington?  Really.  Does Bos even remember 1998?  And as for the subsequent years of suckage, you can't win 'em all.

If the Nats wants to avoid another dangerous step down the old Caps path, then they must act decisively. They should start next month by drafting Stephen Strasburg No. 1 overall -- then sign the San Diego State right-hander with the 100-mph-plus fastball. In the Nats' minds, as almost every scout, he will either be, or become, the legit No. 1 that Acta wants.
Please. Take me down the Caps path of 10 straight playoff appeareances.  Losing three Game 7's and losing three series you led 3-1 is a fluke.  Curses don't exist, Harry Frazee wasn't responsible for Bill Buckner's bad knees and the Billy Goat tavern didn't have anything to do with Bartman.  The goal is: build a consistant winner.  If your goal is to win multiple championships, you will be sorely disappointed (see Yankees circa 2001-2009)

Pitchers make risky high picks. Since the draft began in '65, no pitcher taken in the first 10 overall picks has had a Hall of Fame career.

My head hurts.  It really does.  Since 1968 (giving the first class in '65 three years to reach the majors) how many pitchers have been selected to the HoF?  44.  25 pitchers have been inducted who can by any reasonable strech be called the draft years.  Of those this is the list of the pitchers inducted by the writers: Gossage, Sutter, Eck, Ryan, Niekro, Sutton!, Fingers, Seaver, Carlton, Perry, Palmer, Jenkins, Wilhelm, Hunter, Drysdale, Marichal and Bob Gibson. 17.  I don't even want to count how many pitchers make up the set of top 10 draft picks since '65.  It's 43 drafts so it's 429 players (Danny Goodwin if you don't know why its not 430).  But, let's say it takes at least a 10 year career (and five more retired) to get to the HoF.  That means 1994 is the latest any pitcher could have been drafted in the Top 10 and be in the Hall right now.

So we're down to 289 players.  40% of these picks as pitchers let's say.  That's 116 players (rounded up). So you mean to tell me that not one of these 116 pitchers cracked the 17 who are in the Hall?  Out of how many pitchers in the draftable era?  I am truly shocked and appalled.  Those baseball executives are total idiots.  Or perhaps we have the logical fallacy of appealing to authority and the authority if full of crap.

Next, the Nats need to admit to themselves that looking out over the next several years, they don't have a top-flight closer, or perhaps even setup man, in their entire organization. Yesterday's blown leads of 8-4 after six innings and 10-9 in the ninth are the latest evidence. Facing a problem doesn't solve it, but it opens the way. Making a trade, signing a free agent or using their No. 10 overall draft pick in June for a young closer is needed.

Yes.  Let's spend massive resources toward two pitchers who will pitch perhaps 160-170 of the nearly 1,500 innings necessary to complete a regular season.  Brilliant.  Inspired.  How that working out for ya TWGMIBB?  J.J. Putz the answer?  Tough to get F-Rod innings when Oliver Perez and Livan! are not leaving any high leverage situations laying around.

Closers and setup guys are failed starters who can get guys out for an inning or two and no more.  You ride them hard when they are good and dump them when their arms a fragged out (Jon Rauch anyone?)

But if, like the old Caps, they dawdle, they could be in the wilderness a long time. The Nats are in their fifth season in town. A window of opportunity is a horrible thing to waste. If empty seats could talk, they'd say it's closing fast.
Dawdle?  It's that's what's going on?  Was dawdling what the Caps did after the Jagr disaster?  No.  What they did was get rid of high salary old guys and get as many low salary young and talented guys as possible.  It's called a plan. Somtimes plans work and sometimes they don't.  But a plan is better than say whatever in hell Snyder is doing!

Speaking of Snyder, it's always been a truism that this is a Redskins town.  How did that come about?  A sustained period of excellence.  And hey, look around.  Is this still a Redskins town?  How many playoff wins in the past 15 years?   How many Terrible towels in Fed Ex field?

Winning=fan support (period)  Win and everything is good, lose and your are the Coyotes.  This is magnified by our location where winners and losers are made everyday and the fan base is used to sucking up to winners and jumping on bandwagons.

Build it and they will come.  You can't "lose" a town.  Win and they will love you. Lose and they won't.  It ain't rocket science.