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.
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. The 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. I 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
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. He 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.
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-
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-