Tagged: Nationals

“We Are One” Concert

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On
Saturday morning, I stumbled across this
article on how Astros reliever LaTroy Hawkins was coming to the District for the
inauguration.  So naturally, I had to
go.  The mission was simple: find LaTroy
Hawkins, while simultaneously attempting to come as close as possible to the
Lincoln Memorial, where the We Are One concert was being held.

 

The
Capitol was getting decked out:

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People
were coming from every which way:

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But
I didn’t truly appreciate the massive number of people until I reached the
Washington Monument and saw the sea of people:

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By climbing over chains, squeezing past people, and taking an extremely indirect
route, I finally made it to the best location I was going to stand in that
day.  And this is how far away it twas:

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This
was the view behind me, facing the Washington Monument:

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A LOT of people.  That’s all there was
to it:

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I
can only describe what it was like walking through 17th Street in
one word:

Sardines

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Yep, sardines (the picture
below DOES NOT, I repeat DOES NOT do the situation justice):

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Minutes after the concert ended, enter claustrophobia

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.

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The
White House on its third-to-last day of infestation:

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I
stopped by the Newseum and took some pics:
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What’s the big deal with Hank Aaron’s number?

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The First Amendment from
below:

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Canada being Canada:

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Celebrating their new
neighbor:

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And that’s about it…

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I’m going to the
Inauguration tomorrow (or technically today) and will probably take better
photos this time around.  Although the
chances of seeing LaTroy Hawkins are about as good as the Nationals winning
the pennant next year, I’ll still have my eyes wide open.  But even if LaTroy eludes me, it will be a
fine day (figuratively
speaking
):

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TTPs for the Nationals

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Nationals trade Austin Kearns to the Phillies for LHP Moises Melendez

 

There are
a lot of “ifs” in this trade.  This deal
only makes sense if the Phillies fail to re-sign Pat Burrell, and if
Washington eats up most, if not all, of Kearns’ salary for next year (last year of his contract).  Kearns is
owed $8 million next year, about six million more than he is worth.  

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If
the Nationals are willing to pay that six million, then it makes sense for the
Phillies, with their need of right-handed outfielders, to acquire Kearns as
part of the solution to Burrell leaving. 
I am not saying that Kearns is worthy of being the Phillies starting
left fielder.  He’s only as good as
a fourth outfielder, but he is a good guy to provide power off the bench, and be a
back-up in case of injury. 

 

Any
team interested in acquiring Kearns (actually Detroit and Toronto are
the others I can think of) should understand they have all the leverage in the
world.  The Nationals need to get rid of
Kearns no matter how much salary they have to eat, and no matter how bad a
prospect they get.   The Nats have Roger
Bernadina
, Lastings
Milledge
, and Elijah Dukes
set to start with Willie Harris,
Mike Daniel,
and Wily Mo
Pena
behind them.  Kearns doesn’t
deserve to be in AAA, but he has no place with the Nationals. 

 

Like
I said, the Nationals hardly have any leverage even though they have the player
with the bigger name.  Therefore they have to
take it easy on their asking price.  The
important negotiation process will not be what prospect they get, but rather
how much they will pay of Kearns’ salary. 
I think 75% is enough.  Obviously
the more money the Nationals eat, the better prospect they get but they can’t
get carried away.  Moises
Melendez
is not trash.  True, he’s
not a high profile prospect (like Kearns once was) and probably projects as
a middle reliever or lefty specialist, but hey, that’s the type of pitcher the
Nats need more of.  Melendez wasn’t used
as a lefty specialist this year in Class-A Lakewood, but being a left-handed
middle reliever without dominating stuff makes it a likely future
scenario.  Melendez would go to Potomac
(A+), and maybe get a taste of Double-A before the season ends.

No
matter how much salary they he will have to eat, Jim Bowden (who apparently
thinks he a Jedi)
needs to trade Kearns.  End of
story.  I hope Jimmy B can put Kearns’ “glory
years with the Reds behind him, and move on to younger, more talented, less
expensive pastures.  

Rockies trade 1B Joe Koshansky to the Nationals for RHP Saul Rivera

 

It’s
very sad (Saul
is my favorite player), but the truth is, if this deal were made, it would
benefit both teams. 

sauuul.jpg

Saul is extremely
nice to fans, but he’s 31 years old entering next season.  That’s just slightly too old for the
rebuilding Nationals.  Plus, Rivera is a
perfect fit for the Rockies who need bullpen help.  After the Holliday deal, they acquired Street, but he will
probably be flipped over to another team. 
I also doubt they will pick up Matt Herges
option for next year considering his poor season and his age (39).  If you add Rivera to the Colorado ‘pen, it
will most likely look like this:

 

Manny
Corpas
(CL)

Taylor
Buccholz
(SU)

Jason
Grilli
(SU)

Saul
Rivera

Luis
Vizcaino

Ryan
Speier

Steven
Register

 

If
you noticed there were no lefties in the pen. 
That’s because the only left-handed reliever the Rockies have right now
is Glendon
Rusch
, and he had a 5.30 ERA last year as a reliever, and lefties have a
.334 OBP against him in his career.  A
.334 OBP is not bad but to make a team as a lefty specialist, you need to be
better than that.

 

Todd Helton, Garrett Atkins,
and Jeff Baker
block Koshansky
in Colorado, so the Rockies need to trade him. 
He has shown enough talent and put up good enough numbers in the minors
to have legitimate trade value.   There
will be other teams interested like the Giants and Mariners or maybe even the
Yankees.  Ultimately, I think Saul
Rivera will win the Rockies over.

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Yes,
the Nationals have Kory Casto, Nick Johnson,
Dmitri Young,
and Josh
Willingham
.   All that doesn’t mean
much though.  First off, the Nationals
need to trade away Willingham; he just doesn’t fit with the team.  Plus, there is little chance Johnson or
Young can return completely healthy. 
And if they are healthy, GM Jim Bowden should trade them for whatever he
can get, and that won’t be much.  If
they manage to start next season healthy, they better be traded quickly because
it won’t be long before they go back on the DL.

 

            There is almost as little hope as
Johnson and Young both staying healthy as there is a chance Kory Casto can
finally start producing in the bigs.  In
82 career games, he’s had 14 extra base hits and a measly .264 OBP.  It’s worth noting that Casto’s horrendous
MLB stint in 2007 really drowned his career numbers, but even though he
improved greatly in 2008, he still wasn’t all that impressive.  This last spring I had faith in Casto.  I truly thought it was not too late for him
to turn his career around.  But now it’s
time to move on and try something else. 
That means it is time to finally give Koshansky a full-time major league
job.

 

Maybe
Casto can still make the team next year. 
After all, he can play left field and both corner positions.  Who knows, maybe Casto can capture some of his
minor league power and bring it to the bigs. 

 

Acquiring
Koshansky doesn’t mean Washington is lacking future first base options.  Chris
Marrero
has dealt with injuries and slumps since he was drafted in the
first round two years ago but he still has big power potential.  Bill Rhinehart
doesn’t have the same big upside as Marrero but he put together a good 2008 and
should next year in Double-A Harrisburg.

 

Nationals trade 2B Ronnie Belliard to the D-Backs for RHP Josh Ellis

 

Let
me first start off by saying that I don’t think Anderson
Hernandez
will ever develop into an adequate starting major league second
baseman.  But with the way things are
for the Nationals, they need to at least give him a chance.  Despite his AAA .262 OBP he did hit .407
after joining the Nats.  He also seems
to have brought his hot bat to the Dominican Winter League as he holds a 1.055 OPS
there.

 

As
for Belliard,
he is one of the oldest players in the team and needs to be traded this
off-season. 

belliard.jpg

I’ll give Bowden credit for
signing Belliard.  Ronnie was the
starting second baseman for St. Louis when they
won
the World Series in 2006. 
Weirdly enough (well, he only had a .297 OBP with St. Louis), Belliard
wasn’t signed until February 18th to a minor league contract by the Nats.  That was only five days before spring
training started.  Belliard has done
everything Washington could have imagined and more.  The reality is the only way the Belliard signing can truly help
the Nationals is if Bowden trades him for some prospects.  Despite
landing on the DL and missing almost 40% of the season, Belliard’s trade value
absolutely soared this season.  Not only
did he have his best offensive season of his career, but also he increased his
versatility by playing both corner positions as well as his natural position at
second.   The Mets, Brewers, and Dodgers
may hold some interest in Belliard as well, but Arizona appears to be the best
fit for Belliard and the Nats. 

 

Chris Burke
and Augie
Ojeda
didn’t have good enough years to warrant consideration for a
full-time gig at 2B.  Jesus Merchan
had a nice year at Triple-A and holds a good spot to take over Chris Burke’s
spot on next year’s 25-man roster.  That
will allow Burke to gather up some time at Triple-A at bats after his
disappointing 2008.

 

Josh Ellis is
the prospect that makes the most sense for this specific deal.  The two main needs the Nationals have in
their system are middle infielders and relievers.  Since the Arizona system is weak on middle infielders, relief
pitchers are the best way to go.  Ellis
had a 2.40 ERA this year in Visalia (A+) in his first professional season. 

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You can see, he pitches sort of like Brian Shouse or Cla Meredith.  Too bad the Diamondbacks are moving their AAA affiliate to Reno
(the Reno Aces) because Ellis could have had a chance to be a sidewinder on the
Tucson Sidewinders.  The Diamondbacks
are stocked with young relievers, so if pitchers like Abe Woody, A.J. Shappi, Kyler Newby, Jeff Dietz,
and Scott
Maine
were offered for Belliard, it would be a fair and beneficial trade
too.

Although it is time for Belliard to leave Washington, he will always be remembered becuase of

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this and this.


In
other baseball news, the iconic Oriole Bird has quit his diet.  He has gone from this:

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To this (maybe it’s just perspective):
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The diet obviously wasn’t working because ever since
the Bird started the diet in 1998, the team is 98 games below .500.  Ouch. 
They need change.  And that
change should come in the form of the logo and mascot getting a beer belly like
Wild Bill Hagy.  Thumps up to the Orioles front office.  This is their first sign of intelligence since they designed Camden Yards
.

The Greatest Box Score Ever

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This is the one of
greatest box scores ever. 

 

Here
It Is

 

If you somehow missed it,
look at Winston-Salem’s hitting box, and check out Adam Ricks’ line.  Yeah, you read right.  It’s crazy.

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I actually got Adam
Ricks
‘ (pictured) autograph about a month ago, and I’m sure glad I
did.  He’ll have a very small place in
history because of Sunday’s game. 

ricks.jpg

I’m
not exactly sure why Winston-Salem Warthogs manager Tim Blackwell
decides to pick a player every year to do this feat on a specific day (last
year he picked Robert
Hudson
), but it sure is interesting. 
Ricks actually got told before the game began that he was going to be
given the chance.

 

Ricks is usually a
catcher, but played infield in college. 
It’s another one of those things that only happens in the minors.   I’m sort of bummed I didn’t head out to
attend this game in Frederick.  It would
have been pretty memorable (and a long drive). 

 

I wonder why Blackwell
decided to do this on a road game.  It
would seem to make sense to do it at a home game, so you can treat your fans to
an extreme oddity. 

 

On another quick note, the
Nats suck.  Wait, you knew that. 

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I knew that.  Everybody knew it.  But
wait, that’s not what I’m talking about. 
The Nats suck at sucking.  They
can’t win when they need to win, and they can’t lose when they need to
lose.  If you don’t get me, here’s what
I mean.  The Nationals are not going to
the playoffs, so it theoretically makes sense for them to lose as many games as
they can, so they are guaranteed to have the first overall pick in the draft
next year.  But of course, right as I
finally start rooting for the Nationals to lose as many games as possible, they
go on the best winning streak in baseball.  
That’s the Nats for you.  They
seriously can’t do anything right.  They
can’t even get their stadium renderings right. 
Whenever anybody asked Stan Kasten, HOK, or the Lerners, about what made
Nationals Park unique, they responded “the cherry trees in the left field
seats”.  Well, what’s so special about
Nationals Park now?  It’s the only park where you can’t walk all the way around the lower deck because of the stupid Presidents Club?

 

Notice how the renderings
make the cherry trees look spectacular, but in real life it is an entirely
different story.  In fact, the cherry
trees are completely non-existent when you attend a baseball game in Washington.

 

Renderings:

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Reality:

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Nationals Moves

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     The
Jon Rauch for Emilio Bonifacio trade shocks me.   When I heard that the Nationals acquired Bonifacio for Rauch, I
was like “Okay, well they got some prospects, that makes sense”.  

rauch.jpg

Then I realized Bonifacio was the only
player the Nats got!  I didn’t need to
look at player pages or statistics.  I
instantly knew that this deal was horrible for the Nationals.

 

I
knew who Bonifacio was, and obviously I knew all about Rauch.  Bowden said this about the trade, “This
trade brings us a quality, young player, who has the potential to develop into
a solid leadoff hitter and outstanding defensive second baseman,” This is what
the Nationals.com beat writer Bill Ladson said in his article about the trade,

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Bonifacio
is viewed as having all of the tools necessary to hit leadoff in the big
leagues

 

I
double-checked Bonifacio’s numbers and what I saw didn’t say “future leadoff
hitter” like what Jim Bowden and Bill Ladson said. 

bonifacio.jpg

Rather, the numbers I saw said “solid utility infielder in two
years”.  A .339 career OBP in the
minors?   12 home runs in 648
games?  That’s not a starter in the
major leagues.  Even if his OBP was
higher and had some more pop, it still would not be a good deal.  Rauch is still too good for an average
second-baseman.

 

Take
a look at
Rauch’s numbers and Bonifacio’s numbers.  Fair trade?  No way.    Rauch could have fetched a package like
Joe Blanton.  But Adrian Cardenas, by
himself, is better than Bonifacio.

 

I
don’t mean to sound like I hate Bonifacio as a player, but I think it is ridiculous
that Bonifacio was all the Nats could get for Rauch.   Bowden screwed up big time.  

 

Meanwhile,
the Nationals agreed to a two-year contract extension with Christian
Guzman.   It’s hard to judge whether
this deal is good or bad. 

guzman.jpg

It’s a good
deal if it was meant to increase the trade value of Guzman, because the Nats
will get way more players if the team that acquires him will have him for
another two years.

 

This
is a bad deal if it is actually meant to have Guzman stay in Washington for
another two years.  Sure, Guzman may
help the Nats win some more games in the next two years, but who cares exactly
how many games the Nats win the next two years if it is clear they are not
going to be a contending team until at least four seasons. 

 

Guzman
is at the absolute peak of his trade value after this signing because he is 30
years old now.  Any team that acquires
him will have his contract run out right as Guzman’s career starts going down
hill.


Two bad moves by the Nationals, unless they trade Christan Guzman.   Guzman is a seriously overated player, who in my mind, barely is good enought to be a starter.  I know he’s an All-star, and leads the National League in hits, but he has a .333 OBP, and only 5 home runs.  Guzman has only drawn  a measly 17 walks all season.  I really don’t care about walks,  as long as yoou have a good .OBP, but need to have an awful amount of hits for you to have an exceptable .OBP.  

Notes, Trades, and Thoughts

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With the treading deadline coming, and rumors swirling, I’ve
just put together some trades that could make sense for both teams, or maybe
what a team should ask for a specific player on the block.  Take Brian
Fuentes for example.  I think the Rockies need to trade him.  
The Rox need pitching too much to beat out the D-Backs or Dodgers for the NL
West.  The Rays have so many young pitchers in their system, that’s a
great match for the Rockies and Rays to trade with each other.  

      The
Rays, seriously, are absolutely stocked with young pitching.  I know the
saying “you can never have enough pitching” but if the
Rays want another player, they can afford to give up a pitcher.  Brian
Fuentes can make any bullpen a lot better, and for the Rays, the boost would be
huge.  The Rays have SO many young starting pitchers: Scott Kazmir, Andy
Sonnanstine, Edwin Jackson, James Shields, Jeff Niemann, David Price,
Chris Mason, Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson, and Jacob McGee.   If the
Rays would never trade any of these pitchers, there would be some talented pitchers
not in the Rays rotation. 

     That where the Rockies come in.   If
Chris Mason wasn’t having such a bad year in Durham, I’d propose a Mason for
Fuentes trade, straight up.  But Mason’s value is greatly diminished, so I
think the Rockies should focus on Jeff Niemann(pictured).

niemann2.jpg

In no way am I saying
that Niemann is a better prospect than Wade Davis, David Price, Jeremy
Hellickson, or Jacob McGee, but all of the names I just mentioned are not worth
giving up for just Brian Fuentes.  Niemann seems right.  He’s a big
guy, 6’10, who has been hampered by injuries early in his career, but over the
past two seasons at AAA he’s been healthy.  He’s expendable for the Rays,
but would be considered a large part of the future of the Rockies
rotation.  I had Niemann down to make the Rays rotation this spring over
Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel.  Jackson has done a fairly good job this year, so
I’ve been proven wrong, but Niemann is probably ready for the Majors now.

 

OK, so here is the list of trades I would make if I were the
GM of the Rockies, Rays or Nationals.

 

Brian Fuentes for Jeff Niemann

Tim Redding     for        Nick Stavinhoa and Mitchell Boggs

            Or                                            Or

Odalis Perez                 Tyler Herron, Jaret Hoffpauier, and
James Rapoport

                                                            Or

                                                    Jess Todd

                                                            Or

                                    Skip Schumaker and Daryl Jones

(Many different combinations involving these Cardinal prospects could be used, but these combos seem evenly balanced.)                 

 

Christian Guzman for            James
McDonald

                                                Or

                        Victor Garate, and Ivan De Jesus

                                                Or

                        Adolfo Gonzalez, Chin-lung Hu, and
Eric Stults

 

 

It may be a stretch to say the Nationals could get McDonald
for letting the Dodgers rent Guzman for half a year. 

james mcdonald.jpg

McDonald(pictured) is the best Dodgers pitching prospect behind Clayton Kershaw,
and most likely will hold that title after this year.  But because the N.L. West is so open for any team to break out,
the Dodgers may feel they need Guzman (which they do), so if the Nationals
could capitalize on the N.L. West situation and get a pitcher like James
McDonald that would be huge for the Nats future.

   The Nationals also need some middle
infield prospects, so Hu, Gonzalez and De Jesus could be huge assets.  The only legitimate
middle infield prospect in the Nats system is Esmailyn “Smilin” Gonzalez and he
is 18 years old playing in rookie ball.  Who will play shortstop if Guzman goes?  Either Pete Orr(I’m fine with that), or Yurendell De Caster.  De Caster has been good in Columbus and deserves a first shot at the bigs.

 

Speaking of the Nationals, why do they have four catchers?
They just placed Wily Mo Pena on the DL, and reinstated Johnny Estrada to the
active roster.  That means they have
Jesus Flores, Wil Nieves, Paul Lo Duca, and Johnny Estrada: all catchers.  I’m fine with a team having three catchers
as long as one of them is can play other positions.  But four!?  I mean, Lo
Duca can play left, and first base, I suppose, but he plays below average in
all of those positions, including catcher. 
Estrada has no upside whatsoever in my mind.  He has no power, no speed and is a very below average
defender.  I have no idea why the
Nationals didn’t do the sensible thing and call up an outfielder, since they
just put one on the DL.  Just call up
Mike Daniel!  I already talked about the
whole situation in this post.  https://mlblogsdistrictboy.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/nelsoncruz-thumb-274×4111.jpgarchives/2008/07/the_nationals_report_part_2.html

 

On the Blanton deal, I like how Outman(awesome name!) and Cardenas look for
the future, but the Phillies really needed someone like Blanton in their
rotation and they finally realized that if you are going to be a
championship team, Adam Eaton isn’t in your rotation.   One question I have is about Josh Outman.  The Phillies were grooming him as a reliever
when the trade occurred. 

outman.jpg

 

I really don’t know why Outman(pictured above) stopped starting.  His career was progressing very smoothly and
he ended the season with a successful call-up to AA.  But after five starts in AA this year, the Phillies moved Outman to the
bullpen.  His five starts were good and
he didn’t have trouble giving Reading innings but I guess the Phillies thought
in the long run Outman would be better as a reliever.  I’ll just let you see the numbers for yourself.  I just don’t get it.  Here are Outman’s stats. 

 

How bout some more random thoughts?   How about the job Eric Stults
has done since being moved to the rotation? 
It shows that not everyone is better suited as a reliever. 

 

And lastly, a little chatter from the farm.  I have attended some minor league games
recently and David Hernandez of the Baysox looked dominant.  I’ll be keeping an eye on his career, but
the last minor leaguer who I followed after being impressed at a game hasn’t been
doing so well, Rodolfo Encarnacion.

 

Collin Cowgill has cooled down since being promoted to Class
A South Bend(ARI) and Mike Loree(SF) has, for one start, not been pitching like
Superman.  Loree truly was incredible
and now matter what he does in his career, he already is guaranteed as the
topic for a “Cracked Bats” article in seventy years.   Whenever I talk about the minors in general I have to give a
shout-out to my favorite MILB team.   GO
SPIKES!

I know this was a really messy blog topic-wise but hey, that what the title said – “Notes, Thoughts, and Trades”

 

P.S.      Doesn’t seem
like a crime that Terry Tiffee, Brian Myrow(now a back-up in SD), John Lindsey, and Nelson Cruz are
still in AAA?  Especially Nelson
Cruz. 
Those are SICK, SICK, SICK
numbers.  Oh please Jon Daniels, trade
him to a team that isn’t stocked with outfielders.  Anywhere.  San Diego.  Perfect. 
Cruz to San Diego for some pitcher. 
Jeez I don’t know maybe Enrique Gonzalez?   It probably won’t happen. 
Silly me.  I’m just a dumb kid
who thought Texas could use some pitching….

Stuck in Oklahoma”

nelsoncruz.jpg

The Nationals Report – Part 2

 Jim Bowden has a weird mind.  First of all, it’s obvious that he was the former GM of the Red because well, half of all the players he acquires are former Reds.  Austin Kearns, Wily Mo Pena, Aaron Boone, Felipe Lopez, Ryan Wagner are all former Reds and now in Washington. 
bowden1.jpg
     One thing, I have noticed about Jim Bowden is that he plays favorites.  I usually don’t like saying things like that but I’m not stupid.  I know that Brandon Watson, Ryan Church, and Chris Schroder didn’t get the same treatment as Felipe Lopez, Wily Mo Pena and Jesus Colome.   Brandon Watson was named the starter in spring training of 2006.  After nine games, he was sent down.  Not only did the Nationals ultimately let him go, but then preceded to come back to Nationals and have the longest hit streak in the history of the International League(AAA), and what to the Nats do?  The Nats call him up for four days, and after hitting .275 and having the best game of his life he gets demoted.  Well of course, his self-confidence shattered, he struggled the rest of the year in AAA.  He must have thought “what do I have to do?  I broke a hit streak record that lasted 83 years, I have the best game of my life, where I basically won the game for them and then after four games, I’m back in Columbus and guys like Nook Logan, Preston Wilson and Marlon Byrd are playing in the majors?!”  Seriously, Watson was in his prime right then and there, and Nook Logan is starting for the Nationals?  Just n case you are wondering, Watson is currently in the Phillies organization repeating Triple-A for the fourth time.  In his first season he hit .293.   As of now, he’s hitting .300.  That’s fair.

     Ryan Church is the next player, Bowden had a grudge against.   For the three years Church was with Washington, Bowden consistently acquired so-so outfielders and they would play ahead of Church.  Byrd, Logan, Kearns(who’s good), Pena, and Marlon Anderson, Marlon Anderson.  It truly was ridiculous.   I mean of course, more people know about Church because of the trade and the good season this year, but Church was good in Washington as well, but for some reason, he was never the bona fide starter.  church.jpgThe thing with Church was that he could play everywhere in the outfield, at a high level.  In 2005, Church was 26, and played in 106 games.  He had .353 .OBP and hit 9 homers in 268 AB’s.   In 2006, at 27, he was informed that he would start the season in the minors, and that Marlon Byrd, and Marlon Anderson had made the team.  Well, he got the call back up, but only played in 71 games. He didn’t start, but still hit 10 homers in 196 at bats.  That translates to about 30 homers a season.  Oh yeah, he had .366 OBP in 06.  In 2007, it looked like it was finally Church’s year.  He was 28, in his prime but well, in the Nationals mind, he still wasn’t as good as Kory Casto, who had never played a game above AA, and had only played left field that Spring Training.  After 16 games of horribility, Casto was in AAA, and guess what?   Church was starting!   Yes, it was true.   I kid you not.  But hold on, this is a dream isn’t it. Surely, the Nationals are not going to let Church play almost an entire season.  Then the trading deadline came strolling along, and well……no deal!   Church was still starting, and I started thinking “Is this to good to be true?” 

    It was.  On August 17th, after the trading deadline, Bowden announced he acquired Wily Mo Pena.  And yes, Pena would be the starting left fielder, an yes, Logan (0 HR .310 OBP) would remain the starter in center.  Outrageous. 

    The third player, Bowden seems to have a grudge against who is still in the organization,  is Chris Schroder.  Schroder made his ML debut in 2006 at the age of 28.   For the most part he struggled.  schroder.jpgI happened to attend the best game of his career at that point.  He went 2.0 innings and struck out every batter.  But overall, he wasn’t very good, a 6.35 ERA backs that point up.  But they really did the right thing by calling him up because he was mowing down hitters at AAA, and was considered a valuable strikeout pitcher.   Something that the Nationals needed at that point.   He had a 1.52 ERA in AAA, so there was an urge to see what he could do in the majors.  Going into 2007, Schroder started in AAA, but after recording a 1.62 ERA there he was back in the majors.  After that call-up, Schroder became one of the best relievers on the team, with a 3.18 ERA in 37 appearances.   Schroder made the club out of spring training as expected.  But after only two games, with the Nationals, they sent him down.  Why?  I have no idea.  Here is how he did in those two games…..

                      IP           H        ER        BB         SO
4/4 @STL       1             1         0           0            0
4/7 vs. FLA     1.2          1         1           1            1

   So a guy, who had a 3.17 ERA in 37 games last year gets called down after those two games?   Weeiirrdd.  So after having an ERA below 2, in Columbus , Schroder finally gets called back up.  I’m thinking – “OK, that was really weird but he’s back up now.”.  After ONE game, ONE, he goes back down.  What did he do that game?  1 and a third innings, 1 hit, one walk, NO RUNS.  What?!?!.   In case, you’re wondering some of the guys that are getting called up when Schroder gets called down, here they are – Brian Sanches, Charlie Manning, Steven Shell, and Ray King.  OK, so Manning is left handed, so there is a reason, but King was an ineffective as a lefty specialist, and Sanches, well, I don’t even know what Bowden was thinking.  Shell was good, but why not Schroder?   I just don’t get it.   So when Schroder was called up again, I didn’t know what to think.  Nine days after his last appearance, Schroder came in against the Phillies, and didn’t that well.  HE gave up two runs in one inning, but when I heard he was getting called down again, it was obvious Bowden has something against him. 

     If Luis Ayala (I love Luis, I’m just proving a point), if Ayala had done the exact same thing as Schroder, he would still be up. In fact, Ayala has been much worse than Schroder
did, but he’s in Washington, and Schroder is in Columbus.  Ayala has  5.40 ERA, but since Bowden likes him, Ayala shouldn’t worry.  Jesus Colome has been even worse, with a 5.71 ERA, but Colome has been in the majors the whole season.  It’s unfair.  Schroder is younger than Colome, too. 

   Perhaps the player, Bowden loves the most is Wily Mo Pena.  These are Pena’s numbers:
        G        AB        H        .OBP        HR        RBI        SB        BB        SO
        62       186       39       .249           2          10          0          10         47
   
    The only way to describe those stats is horrible.  Horrid, ugly, pitiful, BAD.    Pena has .222 OBP the past ten games with only on RBI.  Yeesh.  Why is Mike Daniel not starting left field for the Nationals?  In AA Harrisburg, these are his numbers:
        G        AB        H        .OBP        HR        RBI        SB        BB        SO     
        84       311       91       .369          8           38          13        34         75
wilymopena.jpg
    But, as I said before, Pena shouldn’t worry that much because as long as Bowden is the GM of the Nats, he’ll have far more time and opportunities to “prove himself”.  I don’t know, Pena been playing in the majors for seven years.  It seems silly to still try to let somebody “prove himself, who’s been playing that long.  Yes, I’m aware about Pena’s age.  He’s 26, which is not necessarily, the cutoff point for breakout years, but seriously, Pena is a home run hitter who has only hit 2 home runs.  Oh yes, and a .245 OBP. 

   Bowden plays favorites.  It’s obvious.  He likes Austin Kearns, Wily Mo Pena, Felipe Lopez, Ryan Wagner, Luis Ayala, and Jesus Colome.  img1460mikedanielsfuox0.jpgHe has grudges against Chris Schroder, Ryan Church and Brandon Watson.  If Bowden could just be honest with himself, Mike Daniel (pictured right in the snazzy pink jersey) would be starting left field for the Nats, and Wily Mo Pena would be a Clipper.  Jesus Colome would be released or sent down, and Chris Schroder would be the seventh inning set-up man.  Felipe Lopez would be traded for some low-level prospects.  Perhaps, the Orioles, or Dodgers would be possible future destinations. 
 
   Well, I’ll be talking about the Giants next time, I’m pretty sure…..     Oh, and with two big trades just occurring.  I’ll quickly run through them.  The Sabathia trade, I say makes very good sense for both teams.  I think the Brewers are good enough to make the playoffs, and LaPorta will be very good.  I’m guessing the PTBNL will be Taylor Green, who will challenge Wes Hodges for the title of “Indians 3B of the future”

   The Harden deal, looks to be better for the Cubs, but I’m always cautious to question Billy Beane (he has messed up before[Tim Hudson deal].  I think the best player the A’s acquired
from the Cubs is actually Eric Patterson. He’s seriously underrated.  But where will he play?  He’s blocked by Mark Ellis, Travis Buck and Carlos Gonzalez. ??????    I’ll leave you with two theoretical trades:  Jack Wilson to the Dodgers for Ivan DeJesus Jr, Felipe Lopez to Orioles for Sean Gleason.

The Nationals Report – Part 1

 Okay, so over the past three and a half seasons I have gone to over 100 Nationals games.  I have interacted with basically every player who’s made a stop in the District.  I have to say, although I can never truly prove it, I think the Nationals are above-average in niceness.  There some not so friendly players, but for the most part, if you go to enough games, you can see the good side come out in basically everybody.   In fact, there are only two players on the Nationals who I don’t have the autograph of.   And the only pitcher who has come out of the bullpen, who has not signed my cap is Ray King, who was with the Nationals for less than a year.  I call that cap “The Bullpen Cap”.  So I will run through almost every player who has played on the Nationals and give a report about how appreciative they are of the fans and give them a grade.

    Winston Abreu – He didn’t spend much time with them, but I will remember how he risked being late to the bullpen to sign my cap         A
    Jonathan Albaladejo – He was a bit quiet but was appreciative to fans and signed almost every game.  One of the few players on the Yankees I root for     A
    Luis Ayala – Along with playing baseball soccer with Saul Rivera during every game, Luis is just a fun guy to be around and signs every game          A+
    Mike Bacsik – Bacsik went from the rotation to the pen and back a lot during 2007 and is basically being forgotten about down in Triple-A in 2008.  He talked with fans a lot and would give an autograph to who ever asked.     A
    Ronnie Belliard – He has been with the Nationals for over a year and not only have I never seen him sign at a game, but not even after the game in the parking lot after fans wait an hour in the hot sun.  Pena and him are the only players I don’t have, but I have seen Pena be nice to fans and give occasional autographs, plus he has been in D.C. for less time than Belliard.  Time is running out for Belliard to get his grade up     D-
    Jason Bergmann – He his just a guy who you need to root for.  His positions have changed, he has had extreme ups and downs, but he is nice and signs a lot   A+
    Tony Blanco – I truthfully don’t have too many memories of Tony, he received very little playing time in 2005, and has been in the minors since, but it’s amazing is still in the organization. 
Actually, I only have one memory of Blanco. I was standing around in RFK, and he just comes up, nicely signs by baseball and we chat for a while.      A
    Chris Booker – Booker’s call up in 2006 was so short the clubhouse attendant couldn’t finish steaming the second O in his jersey.  Perhaps it was a bit longer, but in any case I got his autograph on my cap      A
    Aaron Boone – I haven’t really had any interaction with him since I met him at a Health Convention in February, but he was nice and he signed my card     A
    Bill Bray – Not only did he sign by cap but he also signed a baseball card I sent through the mail      A+
    Jamey Carroll – One of my favorite players of a all-time.  He signed EVERY single game for at least 20 minutes.  That wouldn’t be that impressive for a pitcher but he’s an infielder, and he was always the first at the ballpark and he did all of that I found out later, with his mother sick, and she eventually passed away at the end of the 2005 season, the same off-season he got traded to Rockies for the minimum salary.  That will always be one of the worst moves Jim Bowden’s ever made, especially since Frank Robinson told him not to.  It’s almost irrelevant that in 2007 with the Rockies, Jamey hit .300      A++++++
    Matt Chico – It’s pretty easy to tell he’s quiet but he still signs everyday in the parking lot      A
    Jesus Colome – He’s part of the pack I see every game, and he also signs a lot, but not quite as much as everybody else.      A
Chad Cordero – Cordero, I considered on of the nicest players in 2005, but he has regressed slightly, and has stopped giving autographs during the game (when I say this I don’t mean literally during the game but rather before)  Cordero has given me at least three autographs and 2 balls, but the regression is noticeable       B+
Zach Day – I don’t own any vivid memories of Day except for liking him for being nice and I have numerous autographs of him         A-
Ross Detwiler – When Ross Detwiler got called up I made it my mission to get his autograph.  I was denied the first time I asked him, but it was as nice a deny you can give.  He said”I’m really sorry, I can’t do it right now”  Because I was actually a veteran of more big league games then him I actually knew he had time to run over quickly but I get that he was worried he didn’t have enough time.  I got his sig the day later.      A
Elijah Dukes – I have to say, I didn’t know what to expect with Dukes coming in to 2008 with all the issues he’s had in the past, but he seems really appreciative to the fans, throws a lot of balls into the stands including one to me and gives autographs a plenty        A
Robert Fick – Fick always acted sort of strange and was quiet in a bad way.  Fick basically never  spoke, and never gave out any balls or autographs, but I heard that he was dealing with family issues so maybe that, and the fact he struggled to reach the Mendoza Line is the reason for his attitude.        C-
Jesus Flores – Flores is one of the fews catcher to squeeze in time to sign autographs while he is stretching with his starting pitcher         B+
Jose Guillen – Jose was just awesome, he signed a lot and although Austin Kearns may be a little better about giving out balls, Guillen was very nice, especially when we saw him in his street clothes walking into the stadium, while I was at a clinic.
Christian Guzman – Infielders are probably the position you interact with the least so Guzman is tough to grade, but I see him throw out balls occasionally and he gives autographs after the game in the parking lot       B+
Joel Hanrahan – He signs basically every game and has given me a ball too       A
Willie Harris – Harris acts sort of cool and he said hello to me but he’s nevertheless stingy with his baseballs and rarely signs     C+
Livan Hernandez – Hernandez signed a lot, but he had a sollen attitude and wasn’t very interactive     B
Shawn Hill – Just recently when I asked Hill for a ball he said “Sure, no problem, here you go” so I have a good last impression, I don’t have his autograph but for starting pitchers there isn’t much oppurtunity    A
D’Angelo Jimenez – Jimenez was very sociable while he signed in the parking lot     A
Nick Johnson – An original member of the team, Johnson has always been nice, although his autograph tendencies have gone down he still is a nice guy      A-
Austin Kearns – I’ll just let it be simple: Nobody has thrown me more balls than Austin Kearns AND I have his autog
raph.  Kearns has thrown to me from the side of the field and from the upper deck.  YES      A+++++++++
John Lannan – Lannan isn’t the best when it comes to tossing up balls, but he will do it once in a while.  The best thing about Lannan is how much he signs       B-
Matthew LeCroy – Although he has never given me an autograph or baseball, his good humor still rubbed off on me, and he was very funny       B+
Paul Lo Duca – I never thought he was going to be very nice, but surprisingly, he has been, very, so far one ball and an autograph, very nice and socialable to the fans so far       A
Nook Logan – Ahh, Nook, Well, the good news:  He once gave me an autograph.    The bad news:  He despised signing in his car in the parking lot, and was always hanging out for everyone to leave to come out.  I’m sorry Mr. Logan, you may not like giving out autographs when I’d like to just leave, but you’re not exactly everyone’s favorite player nor are you the type of player that people stand in 93 degree weather in the side of a parking lot for 2 and a half hours to get.    B
Felipe Lopez – Although, oddly enough I don’t recall Felipe signing anytime inside a stadium, he has signed every time in the parking lot, so I like him     A-
Rob Mackowiak –  I thruthfully only had one interaction with Rob, he was shagging fly balls during BP, a ball rolled near the fence, I asked him for it, viola, so a thumbs up from me    A-
Gary Majewski – Majewski was always nice to fans, but I never really experienced it first hand, until spring training this March when I saw him as a Red in their minor league complex in Sarasota.  He was very nice and graciously signed my card         A
Charlie Manning – Although I wasn’t letting him not sign my cap no matter what ( I have gotten every single Nats reliever on my Nats cap, except Ray King)  I was still grateful that he did.  He has been neglectful with balls in BP though      A-
Lastings Milledge – Milledge has been one of the best with balls so far and gave me an autograph my first game at NP.  The signing was captured on MASN, so it was prolonged and he smiled and gave a dramatic giving-back of the ball.  Hehehe          A
Arnie Munoz – hMunoz was pretty quiet and slightly stingy with balls but he signed frequently and hancock’d my cap         B+
Wil Nieves – When you see him around the game, he seems really nice although he has yet to sign.  To his credit I have seen give out some balls      B
Michael O’Connor – He signed my cap although I was pretty far up in the stands, so I don’t forget that little fact that scares away some players from signing     A-
John Patterson – I’m not positively sure why, for about three years, I considered Patterson one of my favorite players.  He was the first Nationals autograph I ever got, way back in 2005, and yes, it seemed like every time time I went to RFK, he started, and yes, he was good, but he never did anything extraordinary in terms of being nice    A-
Wily Mo Pena – Wily Mo has never given me an autograph or ball, he still has time to get on my good list though,  or does he?  Look at his stats – Ugh
Beltran Perez – A couple weeks back I attended a game in Bowie (AA game) and got Beltran Perez (Double-A Harrisburg)  to sign my program.  Yeah, Perez was pretty good as a young pitcher in 2006.  Weird how the organization has just turned their back on him????????     B+
Darrell Rasner – He would have been the ace on the Nats, if he wasn’t placed on waivers, at least I got his signature before he left for richer pastures        A
Jon Rauch – It may be just me, but it seems like Rauch is separated from the rest of the bullpen.  He doesn’t participate in the pitcher’s fielding drills, nor does he come put with the rest of the bullpen before the game.  Rauch has thrown me three balls and an autograph, but he has gotten a bit less friendly, as he gets older.  He’s probably the most disliked figure in the Nationals Park ball-snagging community, although I think I like him a bit more than everyone else, I see why they can get ticked off     B
Tim Redding – About a month ago, when I asked Tim if he could toss me a ball he asked “How many do you have so far”  I couldn’t decide if he meant so far that day, or this season so I just said five, believable for either scenario.  He nodded his head and through the ball up.  It has some movement, for I asked him what pitch it was he said “Splitter”  Cool.  I still don’t have his sig       B
Saauuuuuuuul Rivera – That is the only way I can say his name.  Saauuuuuuuuul  is just the man.  He signs EVERY, EVERY day before the game and has thrown me eight, 8, ocho, VII balls.    He’s just The man.  His grade?  Well, whatdayu think?     A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Brian Sanches – Sanches is extremely stingy with balls but very good about giving autographs, sooo          B
Brian Schneider – Schneider  was very plentiful with balls, and I got six from him in one season.   He also signed every game he didn’t play.  You will be missed      A+
Chris Schroder – It’s definitely a challenge to get Schroeder’s sig, although I have met the challenge.   Because of whatever Jim Bowden has against Chris, I haven’t had enough experience with him to just how well he is with balls         B-
Steven Shell – Shell is the newest addition to the Nats bullpen which means I needed him to sign my cap, I even predicted the spot on the cap where he was going to sign, without instructing him.  Two words: Spot On.  He seemed nice when signing but the impression during BP was less flattering       B+
Jason Simontacchi – Simontacchi was just the guy Jim Bowden loves, a pitcher in their early 30’s who has had some experience but never really did much.  Anyway, Jason was a funny guy who usually would sign if you asked him to.  He made some funny jokes, and some that were not funny, but he overall was a good guy       A
Alfonso Soriano – I have heard of plenty of fans who got Soriano’s autograph in 2006, but there are always going to be people that get it when a player is in a city for a year.  The truth was Soriano didn’t sign very much, and I never got him            C
Billy Traber – Traber, like many so-so journeymen relievers, was a character.  He created many dances, and the rest of the bullpen danced with him.  Traber was a generous signer and a fun guy.  I hope he and Albaladejo continue dancing in the Bronx.  Can you picture Jose Veras doing the Cotton Eye Joe hillbilly dance?
Jose Vidro – He was awesome to fans in the first two years before being traded across the country for some guys named Snelling and Fruto.        A-
Ryan Wagner – Wagner wasn’t especially socialable to the fans but who really cares if he signs every game?       A-
Brandon
Watson –
Watson signed more games than he didn’t, which is especially impressive for a position player.  A very nice player who was always treated unfairly.     A-
Brad Wilkerson – Brad Wilkerson, the face of the 2004 Expos was very well-liked in his lone year in Washington, and I got him in my first game that I went early to, but he didn’t sign very often and was tough to get         B-
Dmitri Young – I didn’t like Young because well, I didn’t have his autograph and he never stopped in his car the days I waited in the parking lot but I ended up getting him the last game of the season, so he has a check in my book        B
Ryan Zimmerman –  Zimmerman, although about 80%  of everyone’s favorite player, isn’t very well-liked for the serious memorabilia collectors in Washington.  The main point against Zimmerman is he’s very quiet and doesn’t really talk to fans while he signs.  But hey!, he signs and isn’t that what the point is for the serious collectors.  I think of Ryan like Chase Utley, an extremely popular player, who young women gush over (to my annoyance) but are very quiet.  The difference between Utley and Zimmerman?  Zimmerman signs, Utley doesn’t.         A-