Monday, May 30, 2005

Ohka Cuts Off Succession Tenaciously

I love it when Tomo Ohka does well. It helps the Nationals to no end when Ohka is eating innings and keeping us in ballgames. It makes me look smart, as I spent much of the offseason trying to convince the world that Ohka was better than everyone thought he was. And it gives me an excuse to get (I hope) cheap laughs with via automatically translated game recaps from the inscrutable Japanese press. See if you can figure this one out:
The expert to take making strike with the pitch which acquires gentle emergency, with 4 Annie Oakley 奪 as for three swings 0. Mistake being entwined to 3 times, 1 point was lost, but it cut off succession tenaciously, tied to 2 tournament continual victories.
"Annie Oakley" has to mean walk, but your guess as to why is as good as mine. Anyway, it's nice to knock off the co-division leader a day after upgrading the road trip from "utter disaster" to "really bad" after knocking off another division leader. It was also the Nats' second consecutive 3-2 win, which is symptomatic of a pretty serious problem.

The Nats don't score enough runs. It's 50 games into the season, and we're 14th out of 16 NL teams in scoring, only four runs ahead of Pittsburgh. We're 15th in slugging, 13 in OBP, 10th in batting average, and 15th in home runs. This weekend, we ran up against the league's best scoring team, the Cardinals. The contrast is enlightening.

Nick Johnson has been our best position player this year. He's remained free of injuries and is putting a up a very nice 317/428/511 line with 7 homers, 12 doubles, and 29 walks. The dude's an on-base machine and, as Barry Svrluga points out, the only guy on the squad with a healthy concept of the strike zone. There have been only four games this month in which he had neither a hit nor a walk. He had a pretty typical series in St. Louis. 2 hits, 2 walks, 3 RBI, and a double. Here's what center fielder Jim Edmonds did for the Cards: 6 hits, 3 walks, 3 homers, 6 RBI, 3 runs, and 2 doubles. So our best player got schooled. In fact, if you combine Johnson's output with Brad Wilkerson's, it still doesn't beat Edmonds in RBI, runs, homers, or walks. The point is, the Cardinals have a guy playing a premium defensive position -- and playing it well -- who did more to help his team win than our two best guys combined -- and he's not even their best player. When Scott Rolen is healthy, the Cards have four players better than our best, four players from whom they can expect that kind of performance.

So, after two straight 3-2 victories, you have to ask yourself: which is more likely to increase, the 3 or the 2?

The amateur draft is coming up fast; June 7th, to be exact. The Nationals have the fourth overall pick and are looking at taking a college player, possibly UVA third baseman Ryan "Dutch" Zimmerman. Here's what prospect guy John Sickels has to say about Zim:
Hitting .401/.472/.609, 16 doubles, 26 walks, 13 strikeouts, 15 steals, 202 at-bats. A solid all-around hitter, Zimmerman is also an excellent defensive third baseman. He doesn't have [Nebraska 3B Alex] Gordon's offensive ceiling, but he should move through the minors very quickly. Rumors indicate that the Washington Nationals, picking fourth, are interested in him. He would be a good fit.
Neat! It just so happened that the Cavaliers were playing Georgia Tech in the ACC championship this Sunday, and I managed to catch an inning or two. It appears that young Zimmerman knows of the Nats' interest in him and considered the game an audition. With two on and none out in the first, he tried to bunt twice and then grounded into a double play, so he's definitely a Nats-type player.

FUN FACT: I decided Zimmerman's nickname should be "Dutch" because that's what they called players of German extraction back in the day. And once you get past the metal bats and whatnot, college baseball is what I would imagine pro ball was like in the 1930s. The stands are mostly empty and everbody's white.

6 comments:

Chris Needham said...

Dutch? That could work.

Though I'm quite partial to Heinie.

(Don't take that sentence out of context, damnit!)

Basil said...

Heinie'll work. And don't take that one out of context either! ;-)

By happy coincidence, the best hot dog vendor on GW's campus was/is named Manush!

Ryan said...

I must respectfully disagree. Heinie seems usually to be a nickname for Henry, and Dutch isn't named Henry.

Chris Needham said...

Respectfully, my ass.

And I wasn't so much thinking of Heinie Manush, that stalwart of our former team, but of Ryan's compatriot at the hot corner, Heinie Zimmerman.

Alas, Herr Emperor has struck it down.

Dutch, it is.

Ryan said...

Ass, heinie - you've got a one-track mind, Chris, don't you?

Basil said...

Hey, I was just looking to give some props to Manush, in whom my strung-out college friends placed in total trust and adoration!