Monday, April 26, 2010

Nats320 -- A Washington Nationals Blog: Inside Pitch Live @ The PNC Diamond Club

Nats320 -- A Washington Nationals Blog: Inside Pitch Live @ The PNC Diamond Club

Mark Scialabba--Director Minor League Operations: "Jeff is a really exciting player to watch. He runs very well. He’s got quick wrists. He’s strong and aggressive. He’s got the approach like Cristian Guzman when he swings the bat--and we like that." I don't like that. I don't like it at all. I'd be happier if he didn't swing as much as Guzman does. Now the pitches he DOES swing at, go ahead an Guzman them all you want.

“The scouts also have a relationship with the players. And once we get them into our system, we begin to instill in them The Nationals Way--playing the game, playing the game hard, playing the right way. At that point, they really begin to understand what discipline is on a professional level. Coming out every day, being on time, be ready to play--have respect for your managers. So we want good character in our players. That’s what our scouts really try to acquire. However, sometime makeup and character don’t always mesh. You can have players with really good makeup on the field, but are problems off the field in character. We try to instill good character, discipline in our players off the field, not just on the field--through our coaches, employee assistance program, through out trainers--we just try to instill that discipline from the top all the way down to the bottom of the minor leagues.” -- Now we know why Elijah Dukes is unemployed.

Rizzo: "When you trade for Bartolo Colon and trade away the young talent they gave away in that trade--to win today because your sight is only on today only--is the main lesson I learned from that situation.”

Good god YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Perfect, awesome, outstanding. I like the fact that you reference a deal from this organization even though it was before your time. Keep the memory of that debacle alive as a warning to others.

Now, please take a second lesson from this hot mess: It pays to be the team DEALING the overrated vet. You get better faster that way.

Mike Rizzo: “Those are certainly breeding grounds for players. They have quite a passion for the game also. 33% of all players in the major leagues are not from the amateur draft. So they are being acquired through international scouting, signing the players and those types of things. It’s become a huge focus for all the organizations in baseball to be successful internationally. We made steps in that direction and made a focus on international baseball.” -- As absolute a non-answer as you will find in the greater DC area. And that is saying something since DC is the #1 producer of non-answers to actual questions in the world. "Steps in that direction?" a "Step in that direction" would be writing a check.

Unrelated note: First Potomac Nationals game of the year on Saturday. Marcos Frias gave up two home runs but nothing else. Martin Beno struck out four . . . and on three of them the catcher had to throw the guy out at first. IOW, he got 3 K's on balls in the dirt. I don't know if that means he has a great breaking ball or if it means he had a 55ft curve and A ball players can't tell the difference.

The P-Nats won 4-3 because of Pat Kelly. Who's Pat Kelly? Why he's the Lynchburg manager who had his 1B playing one step from the line in the 8th Inning with Burgess at the plate and no outs. One routine ground ball DIRECTLY at where the 1B usually plays later and the P-Nats had the tying run on base. I could understand it somewhat if they were playing the Ryan Howard/Adam Dunn shift for a dead pull left hander but they weren't. To my thinking, it more likely for Burgess to hit a ball where he did rather than just over the bag so playing to prevent the off chance of the extra base isn't worth increasing the chance of a lead off single. As it turned out, that's exactly what happened.

Lombardozzi on base 4 times. Patient and had some good swings.

Pretty sparse crowd for a Saturday night. Ended up pelting the crowd with foam Microsoft windows figurines obviously ordered for a full house. Rough estimate would place the number distributed at 20,000 for a crowd of maybe 750. At least the firework show was impressive. Good job on that Mr. Silber!

Friday, April 23, 2010

To Be a Fan of the Washington Nationals - Charles Krauthammer - National Review Online

To Be a Fan of the Washington Nationals - Charles Krauthammer - National Review Online

I don't even know where to start. I could go with the hey moron if you are such a fan then you must know the '10 version of the Nats is not appreciably better than the '08 and '09 versions just a lot luckier early.

But that point is up for debate. You are what your record says you are and the Nats are (right now) a .500 team a 23 game improvement at current rates.

But to pen a hymn to the joys of losing? Yes, I'd like to go to the opera and hear Britney Spears hit the high notes. Or I'd like to see The Situation as Willy Loman. Because watching an artful or athletic skill done at a sub optimal level is what it's all about. I'd rather watch Willy Tavares ground out weekly to short than see Albert Pujols take an outside low fastball and deposit over the right field wall.

Now I suppose if your intent on going to the ballpark is to be seen, to mix and mingle with mover and shakers in an atmosphere of relative serene peace and quiet then well Nats Park is for you. Goodness knows the unwashed masses who would show up and cheer loudly for a winner would make it impossible to discuss the finer points of US foreign policy with an undersecretary of state while noshing on a brisket.

Losing only tells you one thing: You are doing it wrong! But in Washington, doing it wrong gets you a subsidy so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

30 for 30, "Silly Little Game": Turning fantasy into reality

What's Alan Watching?: 30 for 30, "Silly Little Game": Turning fantasy into reality

A missed opportunity.

They spent so much time fooling around with those useless "re-creations" they didn't give us any real story or context for fantasy sports in general.

Nothing about the statistical revolution in sports and especially baseball partly as a result of fantasy sports. I mean Bill James was self publishing his abstract in the 70s. It wasn't a coincidence (nor was it entirely a result of the widespread adaptation of computers) that statistical analysis of baseball became far more advanced than any other sport.

Partially, it's a result of baseball's nature but a lot of it was young people playing the game then using their developing skills to devise how to better predict baseball players performance.

We get just a hint of that with Okrent's invention of WHIP and the study he did to come up with the 8 categories. But it ends there. Nothing about all the projections systems that were developed afterwards. All these developments led to the smarter baseball fans of today AND to much smarter decisions being made by GMs of real baseball teams.

They spent more time talking about how they didn't make any money off their invention. Boo freaking hoo. I guess you'll have to settle for being editors and writers of major national publications. So sorry.

They also didn't really capture the feel of playing the game itself. Aside from Lee Eisenberg, I know nothing about the other 9 players except they were Phillies fans and they were obsessive about baseball. The original Rotisserie League could have stood as an example of almost every league ever created. Different personality types, different playing styles and of course all the gamesmanship.

Gamesmanship like the massive flaw Okrent's original design contained . . . one discovered a few years later by (I may be wrong but I think it was Alex Patton) who devised the punting wins gambit. Now, almost no one plays 4x4 or if they do they have an IP minimum. Nothing about the difference between keeper leagues and non keeper leagues. They never explained HOW these guys kept talking about baseball over the winter. It ratchets up the dork factor 100% when you go into long term contracts and minor league keeper rules.

Then nothing about different variations that have evolved H2H: daily leagues, dynasty etc.

The most interesting thing for me was finding out Mike Schmidt for $26 was the first player ever drafted. They should put THAT on his HoF plaque.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Nationals Journal - Jason Marquis will stay on schedule

Nationals Journal
- Jason Marquis will stay on schedule

"I still believe that Marquis is going to be Marquis at the end of the day." -- that's the problem Mike. We're waiting for him to turn into the average starter he's always been. Woo Hooo

I hate to be a downer since 7-6through 13 games is miles better than the last two years. But really how different is this team from the one's that started so badly? One defensive replacement in New York results in one win, Zimm's hammy keeping him out of the line up and allowing him to bat in a high leverage situation garnered another. How would we feel about 5-8 with the same stats we have now?

I'm just not convinced yet that this team is appreciably better than the '08 and '09 versions. Strasburg may change that all by himself but it shouldstill be crystal clear that this is a major rebuilding job and gaining a few wins this year is not worth not gambling on future assets (e.g. trading Josh Willingham. What would the Red Sox give up if you offered them Hammer AND offered to take Big Pop-up's contract off their hands? Wouldn't they clean out the prospect cupboard?)

Don't get me wrong. It's a far far better thing to see a National make Top 10 plays for his glove work and not for having a jersey spelled wrong.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Bryce Harper Watch: Counting down the days until another game of chicken with Scott Boras.

The Nationals Enquirer: The Bryce Harper Watch: Counting down the days until another game of chicken with Scott Boras.

"Assume the position, Mr. Lerner."

It would be a total switcharoo wouldn't it Nats fans?

Imagine that. A $10m signing bonus. That would cut operating profit by almost a third!!!!! Next stop -- Portland.

Signability shouldn't be a concern -- the guy skipped his senior year of HS to get draft-eligible a year earlier. His team has a clear grasp of the time value of money. And to counter the "He has leverage since he's only 17 and could easily go back into the draft in 2011" argument -- aren't they negotiating a new CBA? And wouldn't one of the things the owners would want that the players association would be more than happy to give up is a rookie salary scale. Call me crazy but if I'm running the players union, that's the first deal I make -- how much more will the owners commit to player salaries in exchange for cost control through the draft process? My guess is quite a bit.

I'm less concerned about the #1 pick -- I'm more concerned they will once again use it as an excuse to go cheap in the rest of the draft.

What can we say about this team after seven games? They are who we thought they were comes to mind. I suppose a sunshine up your ass partisan could argue the veteraniness of this 2010 Nats meant a better start than the last two seasons. .500 after six games!! That's progress.

More likely, just getting even luck early rather than the spate of bad luck that happened in '08 and '09. Weak starting pitching, a porous bullpen, and a punchless line up (I excuse the Hammer) all adds up to a rerun of last summer.

I may be speaking too soon since they could be 3-6 by the time they leave Philly and well on their way to 5-19.

Think about this. Just squeeze a smidge from the operating profit and we would be looking at TWO 100mph throwing SP candidates entering the rotation in June. Tell me that wouldn't give this team instant creditability.

And finally thank you Houston Astros. You may yet save the Nats from the ignominy of three straight #1 overall picks.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Washington Nationals Weighing Right Field Options... - Federal Baseball

Washington Nationals Weighing Right Field Options... - Federal Baseball

Is there anything to say about Opening Day (at least on the field.) Was anyone surprised that Roy Halladay dominated? Or that the Phils lineup got to Lannan? Color me not shocked.

What has grabbed attention is Stan's open admission of this ownership groups operational plan. They intend to create a hometeam Washington Generals for the amusement of displaced fans in other cities.

You have to admire its brilliance. And it would only work in Washing ton with its massive transitory population and relative proximity to major, underserved markets (I'm thinking New York)

Hold down payroll, don't take a single risk and cash the revenue sharing checks and the gate from non-Nats fans and laugh all the way to the bank. The Wharton School couldn't be prouder.

Just three words on the right field situation. WTF

Is it some kind of revelation that a Willie Harris/Willy F Tavares platoon wasn't going to work? That you already had offensive black holes at half the batting order slots and WH/WTF were going to be the most glaring?

To me, it reeks of a lack of planning. What did Dukes do to merit his dismissal? It must have been something since he has yet to resurface. Even a 2009 Dukes should be able to find a job, hell he'd hit cleanup for the A's.

So you had to axe Dukes and you did it without any idea of what you were going to do going forward. Great. I'll sell you some real estate in Las Vegas if you buy this "Nats looking at "high-profile" right field options" BS. That's message board quality stuff . . . oh hey the Rays'll trade us B.J. Upton for ????? They never say who. And to be honest, who would it be?

Of course, if they wanted to fix the spot, they could do so. Wladimir Balentien is freely available for almost nothing. He'd be an upgrade, even an asset. Cincinnati would give him for next to nothing. Now maybe you are waiting till he's put on waivers knowing that your putrid record last years gives you first dibs on the leftovers. If so, great. If not, three more words WTF. Need a spot on the roster? OoooHHHH OooooHhhhh ask me ask me. I know who could go . . .

I can give them a smidge of credit for making a quick move to at least try to patch the sucking chest wound in RF. It's just a real organization wouldn't have had it come to this on April 7th.

Thursday, April 1, 2010



The funny thing is: this headline could mean just about anything when it comes to our Nats these days.

This particular really?!? involves Willy Tavares whom I have already opined.

But you could say the same thing for Scott Olsen. Or Matt Capps (I'm sure it's just spring rust?)

It shouldn't be this hard to put together a narrative of the club's direction. But what can you make of actually thinking Willy Freaking Tavares is a good idea at any level? Here's a clue Mike: Willy Tavares IS REALLY BAD AT BASEBALL!

I get it. He's fast. So F(*&^&*( what! Usain Bolt is a hell of a lot faster why not him? I'll bet he isn't THAT much worse of a hitter than WTF. Oh Willy can catch the ball. News flash: there are lots of guys who's lone skill is catching the ball. It's not unusual. So find one who has that skill AND BRINGS ANYTHING ELSE TO THE TABLE!

Willy to me symbolizes the utter lack of imagination we're subjected to here in Washington. I get that you might consider this fetish with veteran stability a welcome break from Captain Leatherpants. Yes, the majority of his gambles didn't pan out. Such is the nature of gambles. At least there was a sliver of hope, at least you are telling me there's a chance. Willy Tavares tells me there is NO chance. It's like giving up. Now and in the future. What possible use is it to waste a single AB on Tavares? What future value will be mined as a result of WTF's presence.

It's not a secret that he sucks. He has made it abundantly clear that he a bad baseball player. No matter how well he does, it's not like he'll have trade value. It's not like he'll suddenly improve and be a plus player this year. So I ask WTF?

You want an example of imagination? The Marlins traded a ballboy to the Tigers for Nate Robertson. The Marlins. The team that didn't add a single FA in the off season. They are paying him diddely poo. And he isn't very good as a starter. But guess what? He IS really good at getting left handed batters out. Which I'm sure Adam Dunn will find out sometime this season. So, why not go to the Tigers and say "We'll pay $1m of his salary and give you a nothing prospect." That's more than the Marlins gave and all the Tigers wanted was salary relief and the roster spot.

Make him your LOOGY. Don't let him face too many RHB's. Watch as he is effective in that role. Then, flip him at the deadline for something useful. Team is better today and has an asset for the future. Simple.

Instead, I will silently seethe every time I watch WTF make outs at a staggering rate. Or more likely I won't watch.