Friday, July 31, 2009

Be creative (and not cheap)

This is from MLB trade rumors today:

The Red Sox and Indians discussed a three-way deal Thursday night that would send Victor Martinez to Boston and Clay Buchholz to Cleveland, according to's Jayson Stark. The deal would include a third team and send prospects in all directions.

The Red Sox and Indians contacted other teams to find a match. The Red Sox would want to trade recently-acquired Adam LaRoche to the third team, according to one of Stark's sources. LaRoche wouldn't fit on the Red Sox anymore if they add Martinez and there don't appear to be many suitors for him, especially now that the Giants added Ryan Garko. We know a team other than the Giants made the Pirates an offer for LaRoche earlier in the month.

The Indians are "heavily scouting" the Rays' system, but it's a "long shot" that Martinez goes to Tampa because the Rays have financial limitations that would likely force them to make a preliminary deal before acquiring Martinez. With just over 14 hours left, they don't have much time.

Now in just these two paragraphs are two ways for the Nats to get better with almost no player downside.

1. Red Sox want VMart. But they have the Adam LaRoche albatross hanging over them. Get on the phone and tell Theo, we'll take LaRoche and his salary if you send us a prospect. Then deal Nick J. for Ryan Tucker and boom. Two prospects for 2 months of NJ and cash.

2. Same deal with the Rays. They need to shed payroll to add Vmart. Take their payroll and get a prospect. Rays are deep in pitching and have a ML-ready SS who's buried now behind Bartlett and Zobrist.

This is a great time to use the massive profits this team has been making. Strasburg is not enough. Do more. Be creative not cheap for once!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The power of D

Even I must admit, last night's 3-1 win was more about D than O.

Nyjer Morgan's running catch, Zim's , dodging, ducking, dipping, diving and dodging all over the hot corner even Guzzie made a play if I remember correctly. Even Adam Dunn made a nice running catch on the left field line.

Absent those plays, it would have been a 4-3 or 5-3 loss. Just like about 40 of the previous 66 losses.

15 more to go to hit 43 and let the '62 Mets pop open that jug of ripple for another year.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another $2.5 million in the bank

Congrats to the Lerner family who just got $2.5 million richer thanks to Scott Olsen's frayed labrum.

The math: Olsen's going to be non-tendered (ahhhhhh have I just let the cat out of the bag!) So, instead of getting a small raise for a league average 30 starts from say $2.8 in '09 to $3m in '10, he gets a minor league deal if any deal at all.

Fill Olsen's roster spot in '10 with a pre-arb guy at no more than $500,000 and voila the Lerner's make $2.5 million with one torn labrum.

Now guys, I know the market stinks and business is down but you've just pocketed $2.5 m. What are you going to do with it?

Hint: Think San Diego. Or failing that chase a fleeing Cuban (the country not the maverick owner). Or a (really) teenaged Dominician shortstop?

Do something. For God's sake.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Promoting That Which I Like

-1 for syntax I know.

But, I love it when someone agrees with me.

What will I do in three to five years when the Omar hobby horse has run its course? 

I don't know and I don't care.

If nothing else, Scott O's shoulder trouble should give Uncle Teddy and his band of tightwads ample ammo in the upcoming arb hearings to give him the max slashola to the paycheck (assuming they even offer arb)

BTW guys, there's a 21 year old Cuban on the open market who's a lefty and can touch 100 on the gun.  It only takes cash (so I know it'll not happen but its worth pointing out yet another missed opportunity to help the club long term costing only a dent in the Lerner's Swiss cash balance)

Another cash related thought . . . would NJ and taking Lugo off your hands for Bard or Bowden be something you'd be interested in Mr. Henry?  Mr. Henry????  Over here . . . yes your wife is hot you rich bastard. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What the F*(&%^(&*%

That's all I have to say about this Boz report . . .

Let me say this as clearly as I can. 

There is NO OTHER PRIORITY higher for this organization than to sign Strasburg.  None. Zero.

Not getting a permanent GM, manager not deadline deals not roster shuffling, not even proofreading uniforms, it's SIGNING STRASBURG.

Haven't talked to him for a month? WTF????  They should have been camped out on his front lawn the day after the draft and not left until he signed on the dotted line.  Do you really think waiting even one second is beneficial?  Don't you think the leverage goes over to SS every second the Aug 17th deadline approaches?  Answer: Yes it does. 

Lerners: I know you didn't get rich by shelling out a dime more than necessary in your negotiations.  I can respect that.  But this ain't the parking garage business.  It's not all about location.  This is the entertainment business.  Perceptions matter.  I am not going to find a different parking garage just because the owner of that garage is a tighwad ass(^*&^*&^.  But I will find something else to do with my entertainment dollars rather than support a substandard product run by a tightwad ass*(&*(. 

Face facts: if you want this $400 million investment to start to pay off, you are going to have to start spending money.  I've droned on and on about ways you could have accelerated the development of this ballclub without tying yourself to big time free agent contracts.  Yet, aside from some overslot bonuses in the draft, nothing.  You even went cheapskate in this draft! 

Stop reading right now and pick up the GD phone and call the man.  Talk to Boras.  Now.  Don't wait.  Do it every freaking day.  Make yourself a pain in his ass if you have too.  Get it done and get it done now.  Can't you see what it would mean to the "fans" of this franchise?  Don't you realize how embarrassing it is to wear Nats gear in public?  

"You a Nats fan?  They suck.  They are pathetic" and those are the charitable ones.

You have a chance to start writing an entirely new narrative about this team by making the Godfather offer and getting this pick signed.  I am telling you, there will be the pre-SS era and a post-SS era.  The image of you and the team will change immediately if you show your commitment to winning by getting this deal done easily.  Drag it out, squeeze every penny till Lincoln cries and even if you get him, it won't change the perception.  It'll be, well they had to do it. they didn't want to and they nearly screwed it up.  Same old Nats.

I really hate to have to side with all the superficial jerks out there (I'm looking at you Wilbon you pompous windbag) who cavalierly dismiss this team as worthless.  But you are making it impossible to defend you.  Give us something please.

BTW: For those of us who think the team isn't quite as bad as it's record . . .

Monday, July 13, 2009

Might as well pile on

I'm pretty sure I said it a month ago, it had to be done.

Manny Acta might be a nice guy, a good baseball man and may end up being a successful manager elsewhere but it was not gonna happen here.  Eventually, the stink rubs off on the manager. 

It credited to Bill Parcells but it sounds more like a truism than a real quote

”You are what your record says you are.”

In the Nats case, they really are a little bit better than 26 wins. But not by much.

By my reckoning, Manny greatest failure was to not recognize what kind of team he had this year.  Despite the fact that he had a few more vets in the field, they still needed to be pushed to work hard every night like a young team that is bad would have to do just to remain somewhat competitive.  This team didn't do that.  The young pitchers sure have but between the meltdowns by the vet bullpen arms and the lackadasical play of vets in the field, the talent gap was too hard to climb.

I'd imagine that the psychology of losing also played a role here.  There were the three stomach punches early in the year against Florida. It seemed the team never got a chance to develop and swagger (ignorance and arrogance in the Bull Durham parlance) and that magnified the mistakes.  Attitudes changed from winning to performing and not getting hurt.  Who among us would put out effort day in and day out for a business that you knew was going down the toilet?  Real high character people might but the unwashed masses, they check out mentally but still cash the paychecks.

Interim manager?  Got to be the way to go.  The next two and a half months won't tell you anything about a new manager.  Better to use the time to decide what kind of guy you want and then go out and find him.  Oh and Teddy, pay the man too.  Stay off the discount rack please.

Finally, the late unlamented JimBo comes in for the lion's share of the blame here.  So, the '05, '06,'07 and '08 bullpens that were at the least mediocre to surprisingly effective were who's success?  Is the '09 lineup vastly superior to the lineups run out in the past few years?  They are what middle of the pack in runs scored?  That's a damn sight higher than they've been in the past.

If you want to kill someone for the dearth of talent here, kill the man responsible . . . Omar.  He drafted absolutely nothing. Zippo.  And tell me an outfield of Jason Bay in left, Grady Sizemore in center and Vlad Guerrero in right wouldn't have more than 26 wins?  I know I can't kill him for Vllad but the other two (plus reigning AL CY Young award winner Cliff Lee and talented but troubled Brandon Phillips.) 

The point is, as I love to make, is it takes a long time to become an overnight success. It will take longer because the ownership refuses to use their financial resources to jumpstart the process (not Mark Texieria but how about international signings or some creative take salary off your books for a prospect deals?)  Even I have to give them credit for their work in the draft (they've spent there until this year.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

There is nothing left to say

I've been out of the TV loop for Nats games for a bout a week.

Last night, I sat down to watch the festivities from Denver.

Hey, not bad through three.  An opposite field bomb from the hitting Zim and three OK innings from the pitching Zim.

To be honest, I can't even be sure I remember all that happened over the next couple of hours.  I can honestly say I've never seen anything like Willie Harris' bouncing balls.  Think about this: would that grounder taken a normal hop, those two runs don't score.  That probably keeps the pitching Zimm in for a while longer and it makes the Guzman debacle and the 1/4/3 FC a moment of comedy rather than pathos.

What force is it that kept Josh Bard's drive to right center (the same spot Zimmerman's shot went and kept carrying) 4 feet from leaving the park?  Another almost moment.

I don't know about any of you but I was really scrutinizing Manny Acta's face every time the director panned to the dugout for a reaction to the latest disaster.  To me it seems bemusement was the dominant emotion.  Like he couldn't believe what he was seeing and had no idea how to make it stop. A sort of fatalism had set in whereby raging against the injustices perpetrated on the field would be pointless . . . they were going to happen and there was nothing to be done.

I won't go into a whole spiel on Boswell and his 20/20 hindsight.  He's old and probably forgot the Brandon Watson and Endy Chavez outfield defense experiments.  Sure they could catch but those teams couldn't score at the Jack Daniels High School prom.  Guess what?  You want players who can catch hit and throw?  Takes money or a lot of drafting acumen and luck.  Most of the time, you take what you can get. 

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's July 2nd. Do you know where your GM is?

I know where he isn't.  In a hotel lobby in Santo Domingo inking a boatload of 16-22 year old Dominicans to fill the sparse prospect cupboard.  Why?  Because of Strasburg.

If they don't sign Strasburg, they MAY put money into international signings.

Great.  When you are 22 and 54 I think you really should cut back on spending for the future.  That makes a lot of sense.  First they went cheap in the draft then they are total non-players in the international arena.  Please give us some hope!

I'll never link to my mistakes mind you so that makes me a hypocrite for linking to this Why didn't the Nats grab Andy Marte when he was available post?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One step forward, two steps back

Nyjer Morgan is underappreciated.  I get that.  He's an amazing defender (but hasn't played much CF where I presume he'll be stationed).

But he's 29.  Perhaps his recent increase in plate discipline portends a Brett Butler-like 30's career arc but that's not likely.  That's as much of a gamble as waiting for Milledge's prime year breakout.

Morgan will make the 2009 Nationals better.  It looks like he has the skills to sustain his .350 OBA and that would make him a decent lead off hitter.  As long as his wheels hold out, his amazing defense will overshadow his slightly below mediocre offensive "contributions."  Morgan will never be a key piece and that's what is disturbing.

Basically, in this Pirate swap the Nationals have 1)sold low on two assets and 2) acquired nothing of long term value.

I love the fact that the Nats press release includes this about our new LOOGY:

Burnett sports a .200 (22-for-110) batting average against in 2009

That's pretty good, No?  He must be real good a hit prevention.

Well, not so much his BABIP (the luck factor) is an unsustainable .218.

His 6.4 k/9 doesn't profile as a guy who will always outperform average in BABIP.  In other words, the odds are Burnett turns back into the mediocre lefty reliever he's been destined to be for years. 

So on the reliever side, the swap was to get the pitcher who's had tremendous luck this year for one who's had horrendous luck.  I know it's gambler's fallacy to assume luck changes based on past performance.  But averages are averages for a reason.  The most likely result is Hanrahan pitches better and Burnett pitches worse.  So what have the Nats gained? 

I'm just not comfortable with the fact that the Pirates got 1) the guys who has a chance to be very good in MIlledge and 2) the RP who's better than his numbers indicate for 1) a guy who's likely as good as he's ever gonna be and 2) an RP who's been absurdly lucky. 

I know Milledge will most likely never materialize as an impact player.  In that case, taking the sure thing in Morgan makes sense.  But doesn't a team that is 31 games under .500 need to take big risks?  Play the upside angle at every turn? 

I guess this front office doesn't think so.  I'm sure we'll see more of that tomorrow when the international signing day arrives and well nothing happens in Nats Town.