Thursday, May 13, 2010

cybercritics -

Please make a note of this Phil Wood column. I want to pull it out later this year when the "grittiness" and "knows how to win ness" isn't there anymore.

The Nationals are 19-15. That is a fact. It is also a fact that they have been outscored on the year 160-144. Over the long history of baseball, teams that are outscored by their opponents tend to lose. At least they lose more often than they win. Now for short stretches teams that are outscored win more than they lose. How do they do this? Normally, they win a lot of close games (check).

For a baseball historian like Wood, it shouldn't too difficult to remember a similar situation involving the Nationals. 2005 -- the first year. 50-31 in the thick of the postseason race. Remember that Phil? What was that record in the second half? 31-50? Yep. It was. What powered that amazing first half? Yep, a lot of close wins.

I am one of those cybercritics he talks about. And I have no problem staying with my analysis. Last year, when Wood and other were calling the Nats the worst team of all time, I was forever pointing out they were not as bad as their record indicated and things would improve if only by dint of regression to the mean in terms of luck.

I was right then and I say now they will regress to the mean again. They weren't as bad as they appeared last year and they aren't as good as they appear right now. I'll take any odds you want on Pudge winning the NL batting title (I get the field) and Livan! winning the CY. They will regress, Clip and Save will regress they will find their level. I'll enjoy the ride as long as it lasts -- the only thing that worries me is: a Preston Wilson moment. Fans can buy into the grittyness causes winning all they want, just make sure the FO doesn't. Remember where you are on the success cycle, you are still at the bottom fellows and you need to act that way.

Now, I reserve the right to change this analysis in early June.

Because I watched the first five innings of last nights Norfolk/Syracuse game. I'm no scout so I'll just repeat what I heard Curt Schilling (a guy with some creditability on the subject of pitching) say: "I've never seen anything like this."

I'll bet the FO is not too happy MASN showed that game. Because if anyone watched it, they would realize this stint in the minors is all about arbitration. This is the correct decision for the long term prospects for the franchise. So, please stop insulting the intelligence of any half sentient baseball fan by saying anything other than that.

Right now, today the bottom third of most National League lineups would stand virtually no chance against SS. And the top half's might turn around a couple of those 96 MPH fastballs, they might punish the one or two hanging curves he threw but for the most part they would look exactly like the majority of Norfolk hitters did last night: totally helpless. Scott Moore couldn't have put a tennis racket on the ball.

I think my favorite moment came when Steve Grilli, the color guy, said on a 3-2 pitch after a nasty FB on the black, he just needs to throw a get it over curve and he'll have a strikeout. Then SS threw a 12-6 bender that bisected the strike zone. I wish I had a freeze frame of the hitters face -- eyes rolled up in utter disbelief.

I say I reserve the right to change my opinion after SS joins the rotation because one time in every five for the rest of the season, the Nats will go into a game as the favorite. Maybe Timmy L, Halladay or Wainwright might make it a toss up but that's it. If nothing else, 1 in 5 games will be worth watching.

(I didn't think about Zach Grienke before I typed this section. One ace starter does not a decent team make. However, I will grant you the Nats supporting cast is better than the Royals and that will make a huge difference.)

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