And while the loss of Brian Roberts is certainly more damaging to the O's than that of Rick Short is to the Nats, Short's end of summer performance was one of approximately three bright spots at the end of this (maybe) last place season. There's also Hector Carrasco, who after nine years as a middling reliever was pressed into starter service by a Nats team that was fresh out of pitchers (hey, Sunny Kim pitched a shutout in Colorado on Saturday) and responded by not sucking. The biggest source of comfort, though, has been Dutch Zimmerman (named by an online journalist -- take that, Will Carroll!). He's been playing every day since Frank threw up his hands and started thinking about golf full time, and an 0-5 game yesterday brought his batting average down to .412. So he's doing pretty good.
But even these happy things remind us of the incompetence that got us where we are today. Our B-team lineup isn't much of a downgrade from the first squad Frank rolls out there when he's trying to win. This is most apparent at third and short, and what do those positions have in common? That's right, the left side of the infield is entirely Jim Bowden's doing. This was where he was going to impress the hell out of everybody with his free agent-signing acumen and get himself a real job. As it turned out, all $22 million got us was a couple of players quite neatly replaced by a 20-year-old rookie and a bad shortstop at a combined cost of well under a million bucks.
Then there's Frank. After a game in which Dutch got three of only five Nationals hits, Frank didn't feel like talking about his brilliant young third baseman.
"What is this? The daily Zimmerman report?" he asked sarcastically, then paused looking for his first one-liner of the day.
"He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer," Robinson said.