Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Thursday, November 03, 2005

We Got 99 Problems, But the Wilk Ain't One

The lastest Nationals Mailbag starring Bill Ladson differs from its predecessors in that it's not an occasion for mockery of teh internet's leading Nats propagandist. Instead, it is full of dread portents.
Do you believe that if Brad Wilkerson played only one position, his concentration and hitting would improve? -- David E., Owensboro, Ky.

I don't buy that theory. The only way Wilkerson becomes a better hitter is by learning the strike zone and cutting down on the strikeouts, which killed many rallies for the Nationals this past season.

In terms of his defense, some in the organization felt that Wilkerson made a lot of fundamental mistakes. I don't think that had anything to do with Wilkerson playing more than one position.

Look, I really don't want to be the guy that quotes Bill James all the time, but this is a classic example of a team focusing on what a player can't do rather than what he can. Bitching about Wilkerson's strikeouts is only slightly more relevant than bitching about his acting ability. Working on the assumption that Ladson is the Nationals front office equivalent of Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf (except not as funny), this is an indication that our interim GM is planning to get rid of Wilkerson, something he occasionally tried to do before the season.

It is at this point that I have to give up my short-lived "Yay Everything!" gimmick and throw it on the dustheap of history along with Gunnar Peterson and the inscrutable, poorly-translated Japanese media because I can't go along with this. That's not to say there aren't good reasons to trade Wilkerson. He probably won't age well, and it won't be long until he gets rather expensive. He played most of 2005 with a debilitating arm injury that turned him into a banjo hitter. I gave my endorsement to a rumored Wilkerson for Vernon Wells deal, but the noises coming from the trailer out back of RFK don't give me confidence that this is being done for the right reasons or in the right way.

And don't let a down season or this "too many strikeouts" nonsense fool you: Wilkerson is a hugely valuable player. He plays four positions, and he's not embarrassing at any of them. He hits homers, he's a doubles machine, and his patience makes up for his low batting average. He hits lefty and righty pitchers with equal ease. When healthy, he's almost certainly our best all-around player, and his treatment by this team has been disgusting. As Needham (who's once again the Simpsons to my South Park, especially taking swears into consideration) points out, Wilkerson was jerked all over the place -- he prepared himself to play left but wound up in center. Add to this the intimations that Frank defended Jose Guillen against the rest of the clubhouse (we know Guillen and Wilk had problems) and the current smear campaign against B-Wilk, and it would be hard to blame him for wanting the hell out of here.

By now you've heard that outfield Matt Lawton has been suspended for using teh roids, and I'm sure many of you responded with a quizzical look and maybe that noise Scooby Doo makes when he's confused. Those of who had been listening to Will Carroll were doubly confused. Will was interviewed on Sports Bloggers Live on October 27, and he coquettishly teased us with the following:

SBL: "Is this a name we're actually going to care about?"

Carroll: "Yes."

Will almost immediately started backing off, studiously avoiding any admission of being full of it (again).

I don't know a name but have heard rumors, much as many journalists have.
"I'm a journalist!" is fast becoming Will's catchphrase. Note that now he's claiming he didn't know who it was, but was acting like he did anyway.

BM: When asked, "Is this a name we're actually going to care about?" by Jamie Monttram, you answered yes. Why do we care about this player?

WC: I think as baseball fans, we should care about any athlete.
Superb! Once it turned out to be a name almost no one cares about, Will gave us this.
"Gimme a Break!" That was the title of an email I recieved from a friend, someone I respect, someone who you probably read. On the heels of the Matt Lawton suspension, his comment was "So that was the guy we cared about???"

My response, I think, is worth sharing widely: "All-star OF who played on a playoff team? What do you want? Do we all only care about gotchas and the next Palmeiro? Will we need ever increasing names or do we just want to headhunt Bonds until he admits he's the anti-christ, shot Kennedy, and impregnated our daughters with his steroid-ridden seed?

"Really, what player SHOULDNT we care about and if I say, on national radio, "No, we shouldnt care" what does that say about me?"

First off, Will just can't help being coy: "someone who you probably read." Oh Will, you're such an insider! More to the point, he's completely full of shit. He knows the rumors that have been floating around -- hell, he's responsible for some of them. Gary Sheffield, Johnny Damon, Roger Clemens, etc. So when the question "is it someone we care about" is posed, it's completely obvious to anyone what is meant. In case you've ever wondered why Will is frequently described as a "charlatan," now you know.

Above: Will Carroll menaces co-bloggers Scott Long (left) and Ryan Wilkins. "Hold up my books, you fools! Smile! HARDER!"

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