Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Donuts?

Well, it turns out that both the 3 and the 2 went up, but the 3 went up more. Yay Nats!

That's all the Nationals analysis you'll be getting from me tonight. It's late and I need to get to bed, but first I want feel like making fun of Will Carroll a little bit. I haven't had much to say about our friend Will since his sad attempt at conceptual Internet comedy, but he's been on a roll lately. Apparently unable to find anyone to talk to him about his book, he had his crony Scott Long interview him on the blog they share, which is only slightly different from me answering questions about Gunnar Peterson that I made up. After that he started whining about the injustice that someone as special as he doesn't have a press pass. There are some real howlers in this one.
However, as I've developed both credibility and readership, I haven't been given any more access.
Yeah, you'd think after Pete Rose, "DC's bid is dead," the Grays, and all the other scoops Will has provided over the years, teams would be thrilled to let him nose around in the lockerroom. How much more credibility can one man have?
However, when it comes to baseball teams and more specifically, team media relations personnel, there's little difference between Baseball Prospectus and Bobby Joe's Bravez Blog.
Here's a riddle for you: what's the difference between Baseball Prospectus and Bobby Joe's Bravez Blog? 40 bucks a year.
Then there's idiots in the clubhouse, working for papers that don't have the circulation that BP, Toaster, or Sportsblogs have.
Yes, Will Carroll just called a whole bunch of people idiots. Other people. I don't have to explain why that's funny, right? Will also informs us to what extent the world revolves around Will.
I've made some overtures of starting something like the BBWAA for the web, but those efforts have failed due to both lack of interest and my odd status as lightning rod. . . .

Will I be forced to beg for press passes for the next ten years or does baseball want to force me out of the business?
He concludes with a vague threat to start fixing games or something if Bud Selig isn't nicer to him. Amazing.

Will spent Memorial Day coming up with a way to vaunt himself further without looking too arrogant, an area in which he's a real innovator, assuming the Scott Long interview was his idea. This time he had a probably imaginary interlocutor, "Mark," explain to him how great he was.
"That's your best quality - accessibility," Mark typed. "It's also why people get jealous. They can't email Peter Gammons. They can't email the guy on SportsCenter. With you, you're something different and that makes some wonder why you get to do what you love and they don't."
I think "Mark" is in love. But I guess he's right, as long when he says "something different," he means "bafflingly incompetent."
Fair enough, but I mentioned that my gambling/access post had a grand total of one reply.
Here's the real crux of the matter, as we'll see in a moment. Will lives for his comments, and they're way down since now you have to register to tell him what a doofus he is. He's not the only one. I have eight or nine different Blogger profiles that I'll use to comment over at Capitol Punishment just so I don't get 10,000 word emails from Chris about how nobody lives him and he's going to quit. Anyway, there follows a bunch of nonsense about blog models and donuts and how Will's media empire is the perfect buzz machine -- only Will doesn't realize it! "Mark" continues:
"Think - who's the biggest name on the web?"

I paused. "Kos?"

"What about in baseball blogs?"

I paused again. "Aaron Gleeman?"

"No, not even close, but let's check the blogbuzz on a couple names plus yours."

That surprised me. "Whoa."

In case you don't want to click the link, it shows that "Will Carroll" is mentioned on blogs far more frequently than either "Kos" or "Aaron Gleeman." There are a couple problems with this. First, does Will really expect anyone to believe that he was unaware of this, that his old pal had to hip him to this info? I mean, I check Technorati hourly and my Site Meter every five minutes, and I'm not half the megalomaniac Will is.

Second, and even better, go ahead and click on the link. Then click on Will's name. What do you notice? That's right, none of them is about Will Carroll. Lewis Carroll, Carroll County, Carroll College, Jon Carroll -- no Will. I sifted through the first 50 ("Why can’t someone do some actual reporting or at least fact-checking?"), and only 2 are Will, the first not coming until #28. This is really sad. Will writes this whole post and even invents a person all to tell us how great he is (I guess Scott Long decided enough was enough), and it's not him. That would like me posting about my U.S. Open experience or the intricacies of Canadian college football. Why is he doing all this? He thinks no one's reading, and it makes him sad, so he has his imaginary friend cheer him on.

Quit worrying about hits or comments internally. There's nothing in the donut hole. The rest of the world is noticing and the right people are reading. So quit worrying about things and figure out how to get one of those cards you want around your neck.
This can only get worse, people. I exhort you: register and comment on Will's blog. The man's rapidly losing his grip on reality, and he needs our help before he heads to the clocktower with a rifle and starts picking off the people he blames for keeping him out of the Cubs' clubhouse.

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.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Sayonara, Kyojin

I guess we can add another item to yesterday's list of Ryan's Favorite Nats Who Are In Trouble. Giant Jon Rauch just went on the DL and is out for the year with a torn labrum. I wasted a lot ether or bandwidth or whatever it is arguing for Rauch first to make the team and then to start. I pestered Washington Post writers, I insulted Zach Day, I even dug up pictures of a dead Japanese wrestler; all for naught. For old time's sake, here's Giant Jon and Barry Svrluga having one last chat.

"Bummer, huh, Jon?"
"Yeah, well. Maybe now Ryan will stop sending me fan letters written in crayon."
"I've gotten a couple of those too. Who's this 'Dayn' guy he's always whining about?"
"Beats the hell out of me. See you next year, everyone!"

Rauch to the DL was only one of nine moves made today. John Patterson, who was our best starter for a while there, joins Rauch after suffering through a pretty rough ordeal.
Patterson received three injections to relieve the back problem Monday. During the third injection, he said he began to feel "woozy" and started to pass out. The doctor administering the procedure, Reds physician Timothy Kremchek, stopped the process, and Patterson received oxygen and had an IV inserted in his right arm.
Yeesh. Get well soon. I, Claudio Vargas wore out his welcome and was designated for assignment, and Zach Day is headed to New Orleans, where I wouldn't be surprised to see him thrive away from the harsh glare of Frank Robinson. The roster is brought back to full strength with the additions of versatile but mediocre pitcher Sun-woo Kim, Endy Chavez alternative Tyrell Godwin, and two relievers: righty T.J. Tucker and lefty C.J. Nitkowski. Exciting stuff, eh? I suppose it could be in the hands of someone else, but I got nothing today. So let's take a spin 'round the Nats blog world.
  • Nasty Nats looks at how much of a career-enhancer a start against the Nats can be for mediocre pitchers. Remember Brian Moehler? Jae Seo? You're welcome, fellas.
  • Basil of Nationals Inquirer is back from vacation and on fire. Here he tells us why new guy Tyrell Godwin is preferable Inning-Endy and displays some exasperation with a certain criticism of the Post.
  • Capitol Punishment observes that even Nats beat writer Barry Svrluga has had it with Frank.
  • Nationals Review actually talks about the roster moves rather than just listing them.
  • Oleanders and Morning Glories will shock and amaze you with how bad Cristian Guzman really is hitting. Pregnant women and the elderly should avoid this -- it's that horrifying.
My series prediction: the Nats win one and everyone starts talking about how scrappy they are again.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Bring On the Cards!

Do you love Distinguished Senators but can't stand the look of the blandest Blogger template? You're in luck! Some of my stuff will be cross-posted over at Capitol Dugout, your one-stop site for Nats stuff. If you come for the baseball stuff, you can read it there. But if you come for the swears and Will Carroll-baiting, you'll want to stick around here.

I can't be bothered to look it up, but it feels like we just lost two games in the space of about four hours. Remember that series we won against Milwaukee? I don't. The fact is, this team had been very lucky, winning a majority of its games while not scoring all that many runs. There's nothing like 11 scoreless innings followed closely by a good, old-fashioned disaster start to bring us all back down to earth. The Nationals have often been described as "scrappy." This may be true, but the Reds just beat the "s" right out us.

I don't take all these losses too hard, though. If we finish the season over .500 and/or in front of the Mets, I'll be ecstatic. Even if we don't -- hey, remember when we didn't have a team? Instead of worrying about being competitive, I tend to worry about a select group of players I root for particularly. It all depends on which guys I argued for before the season; I want them to make me look good. This has been a bad series for my pet causes.
  • Livan Hernandez is my favorite player, so much so that I attempt to reflect his dynamic awesomeness by rendering his name as ¡Livan!. Tiresome gimmick? Heartfelt tribute? Why not both? Regardless, my man had a less than stellar game on Tuesday, but it wasn't his fault. In the first inning, Felipe Lopez was picked off second and thrown out at third yet called safe both times. That extra out allowed Austin Kearns to hit the bases-clearing double that produced the only Cincinnati runs of the first 13 innings. ¡Livan! still has a 3.70 ERA and is on pace for 265 innings, so I'm not sweating it too much.
  • Brendan Harris is holding his own. After starting his season with a pinch hit home run, he came into last night's game late and went 0 for 2, leaving 3 men on base. He bounced back today, getting 2 hits in 4 at-bats while filling in for Old Man Vinny. Unfortunately, Nats beat writer Barry Svrluga thinks he won't be with us long. Harris may no longer be on his previous 300-HR pace, but he's still more useful than Baerga.
  • Ryan Church has been a cause celebre with many of the bloggers, and I promise that's the last French you'll see here for a while. Specifically, we were sick of seeing an immobile, useless, and possibly dead Jeffrey Hammonds playing instead of Church against lefty pitchers. This problem became less urgent with the acquisition of Marlon Byrd, who is both right-handed and ambulatory. Still, it would be nice to see if Church can hit lefties, and we'll never know unless he gets to try. He finally got his chance last night, and it didn't go well. Soul Patch struck out twice against Brandon Claussen and stranded 5 before being lifted for a pinch hitter. Well, my mind reminds unchanged. Church looked much better in his second try against the southpaw, working the count full before looking at a called third strike -- he was making adjustments. More importantly, it was only two at-bats. Brad Wilkerson went 1 for 7. Do we sit him? Two at-bats are nowhere near enough to make a decision, and Church should continue to be sent out there regardless of the handedness of the opposition.
So I'm still in denial, and tomorrow's another day. Maybe it's a good thing that we're playing the Cardinals next. If the Nats are this bad against a lousy team, they're bound to turn it around against the class of the league, right? If we can make a Cy Young candidate out of some dude named Matt Belisle, whose last name sounds like nothing so much as an attempt to say "Belinda Carlisle" more efficiently, Matt Morris and 3.50 ERA are doomed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Bring Me the Head of Frank Robinson

There's a lot of stupid stuff on teh Internet, as regular readers of this site are all too aware. Take, for instance, this Pitchfork Media review of Failer, the debut album from Canadian alt-country chanteuse Kathleen Edwards. Reviewer Amanda Petrusich, do doubt clad in green Pumas and a hip Transformers t-shirt, misspells the name "Mabel," uses the word "anachronism" despite obviously not knowing what it means, and thinks "slurping whiskey, infidelity, and dirty girls in dirty bars" cannot exist in "a tidy, peaceable country with unarmed policemen and free health care." It's just a terrible piece of writing, even though Ms. Petrusich and her editors are no doubt professionals.

I mention this for a reason. There's a tendency, particulary pronounced in sports, to defend the professionals from any attack. "Let's see you do better" is a favorite retortm, as is something along the lines of Anonymous' devastating "
Hey, why do you keep picking on Jim Williams? He knows a lot more about sports media than any of you bloggers, living in your parents basements, ever will." This is true to a point (though most bloggers prefer an attic space), but there is a line of incompetence which, if crossed, opens one to criticism by pretty much any idiot with a Blogger account. Amanda Petrusich crossed that line, and so has Nationals manager Frank Robinson.

Frank is in charge of a whole bunch of dudes, and he knows what to do with only a few of them. Capitol Punishment has a thorough run-down of his deficiencies, so I'll only mention a few. He platoons for Ryan Church even when there's no adequate right-hander to replace him. He bunts far too often and in odd situations. There are a lot things, including a truly breathtaking first inning against the Brewers, but I wasn't quite ready to start calling for his head until Monday night. The Nats went into the ninth down two runs and with the bottom of the order up. Frank pinch hit for Mendoza Line straddler Cristian Guzman, which is actually a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, Carlos Baerga couldn't do anything, and neither could #8 hitter Brad Schneider. With one out left, two runs needed, and a righty on the mound, one would think Frank would call on his unjustly benched .300 hitter, Ryan Church. But he didn't, instead bringing in backup catcher Gary Bennett, who's hitting worse than Church this year, has never hit in his entire career, and didn't even have a platoon advantage. Bennett struck out and we lost, in case you were in suspense.

And that's my biggest problem with Frank. He decides a guy can't do it, so he never lets him try. He has it in his mind that Jamey Carroll isn't a hitter, so he bunts him at every opportunity. Tomo Ohka has a couple of rough starts, and he's relegated to the bullpen unless there's an emergency. This thinking -- or rather, subsitition for thinking -- reached its insane zenith when the .247-hitting backup catcher pinch hit instead of the .300-hitting outfielder. And that's why he has to go.

Brendan Harris is back up. The 3B/2B prospect, acquired from the Cubs in the massive four-way swap that put Orlando Cabrera in Boston and Nomar in Chicago, was trapped behind several players on the major league squad and still is. In fact, with Vinny Castilla, Tony Blanco, and Baerga in front of him at third and Carroll playing everyday at second with Jose Vidro hurt, you have to wonder how much he's even going to play. But check this out: he hit a home run last night in his first 2005 at bat. So now it's all up to Frank. If he gets 300 at bats this year, he'll hit 300 homers and drive in 600, if we go by the extremely scientific projection of his 2005 performance. 400 at bats=400 home runs. The math is pretty easy on this one, so I'll let you figure out the rest of possibilities yourself. Frank seems to be a big Baerga fan, but when's the last time that guy hit 300 homers in a season? It's been a while, I bet.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Lies, Damned Lies, and Intangibles

As mentioned in the wildly popular Nat of the Day feature, where we don't discriminate against players just because they're not starters or Jose Guillen, "Soul Patch" Ryan Church has raised his AVG/OBP/SLG line to 304/347/446 (and on the off chance that you don't know what that means, I made an attempt to explain it here). This is good news for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it puts a Nat in the running for a major award. Let's face it: Brad Wilkerson isn't going to win the MVP, at least not without some better TV commercials. The official position of this blog is that there's no one better than ¡Livan!, but he won't be winning the Cy Young. If there's any justice in the world, Frank has already napped and bunted himself right out of Manager of the Year. But Ryan Church has a shot at Rookie the Year. Although it's early in the season, Church has a lot of catching up to do, and it's going to require every specious argument we can muster to put him over the top.

The front-runner for ROY at the moment is Colorado Rockies shortstop Clint Barmes. Barmes is off to a hot start, putting up a 349/392/550 line with 11 doubles and 7 homers. Yeah, that's pretty good. Too bad the Rockies have road games; Barmes is at 282/317/397 away from Coors Field with only one measly home run. Furthermore, his May has been a lot worse than his April (1106 vs. 780 OPS), he doesn't take many walks, his mother doesn't love him, and he's batting .000 as a pinch hitter. Ryan Church, on the other hand, is 1-7 pinch hitting and his mother's favorite son.

New Yorkers will likely impose themselves into this discussion in a loud, obnoxious, and possibly unshaven manner. "Victah Diaz is da rookie o' da yeah," they'll probably say. And Diaz does sport an impressive line: 294/423/541. But on the other, he just got shipped back to the minors by a fourth place team, and according to the logic that's jobbed Alex Rodriguez out of at least one MVP, he can't win.

Jason Ellison of the Giants is having a nice year as well. 313/358/475, 2 HR, 6 2B. That's a better line than Church's, and Ellison doesn't get benched against a particular type of pitcher, as Frank insists on doing with Soul Patch. But that's only if you ignore the intangibles. Ryan Church is laboring under the expectations placed upon him by trying to replace three-time All Star Endy Chavez (margin of error on Endy's All Star appearances: +/- 3). Despite horrific mismanagement by Frank Robinson, Church hasn't complained at all. Under constant assault by message board armchair outfielders, Church, like John Rocker, has persevered. Plus Ellison lost a game with an error, and Church hasn't even committed an error.

So there you go. Using these arguments, you can prove that anyone who thinks someone other than Ryan Church is Rookie of the Year is a communist. You're welcome.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Clear Answering Was Made

I'd just like to say right now that I never stopped believing in Tomo Ohka. He was having some problems, pitching like a pre-glasses Rick Vaughn without the fastball, but I knew he'd get over it. And he did. On Tuesday, the Landlord relieved a bullpen-bound Claudio Vargas, stopping the bleeding with 5.2 innings, four strikeouts, and only one walk. Tonight he pitched about as well as you can expect him to: 8 innings, 2 earned runs, 2 Ks, 1 BB. This pushes him back into the rotation at the expense of Vargas, one would have to think. As the inscrutable Japanese media put it, "With the going to the mound whether or not it can recover confidence of, the clear answering was made."

"But Ryan," you're probably saying, "what about sample sizes? And what about Juan Rivera, dumbass?" For one thing, Rivera's finally playing since Vlad Guerrero got hurt and had two homers this weekend, so shut up. As to your more civilly phrased question, yeah, Ohka's been good in his last 13.2 innings, as opposed to the 30 innings of crap that came before. I think Ohka's back, though, simply because he's pitching like Ohka again. If I may attempt to summarize the man in one pitching line:
6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO, 85 PC, 4.00 ERA
He doesn't throw many innings, he strikes out few and walks fewer, and his ERA is solid. That's what he did against Brewers on Tuesday, and that's what he did against Toronto today.


UPDATE: Frank brings the tough love in the Times this morning.
"Hey, let's not jump to conclusions here, we thought [Tony] Armas and [Claudio] Vargas turned the corner too, but they turned the corner and went back the other way," Robinson said. "We'll wait and see. It was encouraging, let me put it that way."
Too late. Conclusion jumped to.

In other news, everyone's injured. Brad Wilkerson has a forearm splint or something, Castilla's knee is sore, Guillen's ribs still hurt, Hammonds left the game today, and Jim Bowden is still recovering from severe concussion he sustained just before signing Cristian Guzman. Remarkably, with everyone gimping around and the B-team in, the Nats managed to score 9 runs. I don't have anything to say about this, actually. Good thing Bodes picked up Marlon Byrd.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hammonds is on the DL, and 3B Brendan Harris, a Distinguished Senators favorite and a martyr to Bowden's evil machinations, has been called up from New Orleans. With the Nats facing (crappy) lefty tonight, he might actually play.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Duel of the Iron Mic

I envision Frank Robinson and Ned Yost sitting in a bar after the game last night. "Boy oh boy, Frank, you sure did manage a shitty game last night," says Ned, his eyes aglow with admiration and four one dollar cans of Pabst.

"Thanks, kid. What was your favorite part?"

"The bottom of the first was the Citizen Kane of shitty managing, Frank. The failed bunt, the blown hit and run - we spotted you a leadoff double and not only did you not score, you didn't even come close!"

"Heh heh. Nice to meet a connoisseur. I've been in this game a long time, son. Maybe after 15 years you'll figure it out, too."

"Hey now, I'm pretty bad myself. Tell you what, old man. Let's make a wager: if I out-mismanage you, I show everyone an incredibly embarrassing picture of you with a moustache that would make Nick Johnson gag. If you out-mismanage me, I'll give you an autographed 1985 Ned Yost Topps baseball card. It'd run you $24.95 on Ebay, and it will increase in value."

"Sure you want to do this, cowboy? I'll start Jeffrey Hammonds."

"I'll start Jeff Cirillo."

"Well played. I'll see you tomorrow. You gonna finish that Pabst?"

"Yes."

That scenario is pretty much the only excuse for today's game. Both men lived up to their promises to start the most washed-up men on their benches. Frank's weapon of choice was the sacrifice bunt. Brian Schneider led off the 5th with a double. Cristian Guzman, the #8 hitter, came up and attempted to bunt. Remember that the pitcher was due up next, but Frank was determined to win the bet. Even after Guzman had two strikes on him, he persisted and struck out on a two-strike foul bunt. Less egregious was Hammonds' bunt. The radio guys were saying that Hammonds is on the team to be a "professional hitter." Whom do you think of when the term "professional hitter" is used? I think of Edgar Martinez, who sacrificed a grand total of 10 times in his career, and not once after 1995. Yet Frank had his professional hitter sac bunt in the 6th. Hammonds doesn't bring much to the table these days; if he's not a good enough hitter to swing away with two men on base, what's the point of having him around at all?

Ned Yost was as enamored of the intentional base on balls as Frank was of the sacrifice bunt. In the 5th with Brian Schneider on second base, Yost had Brad Wilkerson intentionally walked. Since there were two outs (thanks, Cristian!), Frank couldn't call on Jamey Carroll to bunt. I'm sure it annoyed Frank to no end until Jamey drove in Schneider with a single. Yost hadn't learned his lesson: in the very next inning with men on second and third, he gave the old IBB to Cristian Fucking Guzman. A run wound up scoring on a passed ball, and the walk didn't cost the Brewers anything, but still. Anyone Frank can pull of the bench is likely to be a better hitter than Guzman, and with two outs they didn't need to keep the double play in order.

So who won the bet? It's close, but Frank won the game, and I think we all want to see that picture of him, so congratulations Ned Yost.


Update: The world is upside-down. While I'm bitching about managerial trifles, Needham is composing a love letter to ¡Livan!.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I Hate Bunts So Much They Make Me Swear

I need to stop paying close attention to these games, because Frank Robinson is about to make my luscious hair fall out. First off, the Nats are facing a lefty starter again, and we all know that brings out the worst in Frank. Once again, the remains of Jeffrey Hammonds start instead of Ryan Church. As I've said before, I'm not opposed to platooning Church as long as he has a competent platoon partner. Marlon Byrd playing instead of Church is fine. But with Jose Guillen on the bench, Hammonds is out there. I feel for the guy, but he's just not a major league player anymore. There is simply no advantage to sitting Church against lefties if his replacement can't hit anyone. (NB: the fact that Hammonds actually has a hit tonight changes nothing).

That's not even the worst part. Brad Wilkerson led off the game with a double, which is obviously pretty nifty. Jamey Carroll, who's hitting .313 and even better against lefties, fucking bunts. That's stupid even if it works, but of course Wilk gets thrown out at third. Then Frank has Carroll take off on a hit 'n' run. Vinny Castilla doesn't get the ball in play, and Jamey's out by a mile. Frank managed us right the hell out of the first inning. If this were a war, he'd be hanged for treason.

UPDATE: Minutes after I post this, Hammonds wins the game. So I'll just shut up now.

My new first stop on the teh Internet every day? GunnarPeterson.com.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

No More Cosmo

That was not an impressive ballgame. "I" Claudio Vargas, inexplicably starting instead of the much taller Jon Rauch, lost it before the second inning was over. Of course, being down six isn't necessarily a death sentence -- I just watched the Orioles come back from six down to take a lead -- but when the offense can muster only three hits, one walk, and two runs it is. Still, there are some brights spots in the momentary gloom.
  • The Redemption of Tomo Ohka. I don't know what's been going on with my man Ohka. From 2002 to 2004, his walks per nine innings were 1.5, 1.6, and 1.7. Just for comparison's sake, that's a lot better than Roger Clemens (3.0, 2.3, 2.9), though it must be said that Clemens does everything else better, with the obvious exception of naming children. This year, Ohka's is 6.4, which is sort of the BB/9 equivalent of Cristian Guzman's batting line. The leading theory is that he's hurt and not admitting it. Well, either he's over it or the Brewers couldn't take advantage, because he stepped in for Vargas with 5.2 innings of shutout ball. 4 Ks, 1 BB, 2 hits. Frank, consider the Landlord for your starting pitching needs. He's really really not hurt. He swears.
  • Jose Guillen got a day off. Jose's been hurting lately. He strained his ribcage, and his right hand is still sore from when he took his knuckles upside Mike Scioscia's head. As much I bitched about his acquisition, Guillen's been really good, so his lingering injuries are a problem. This makes the acquisition of Marlon Byrd look even better. Before the trade, Guillen would have had Endy Chavez or Jeffrey Hammonds playing in his place, and I don't have to tell you of how little use those guys are. Now we can field a Church/Wilkerson/Byrd trio, and that's not embarrassing, though I still don't understand why Byrd's not in center.
  • ¡Livan! is apparently going to pitch on Thursday. He had fluid drained from his knee, and it shouldn't surprise us that his leg would give out before his arm, which is invincible. ¡Livan! 's injury-shortened game against the Cubs (6.1 IP, 2 ER) left him on pace for only 265 innings, but he's finally got that ERA under 4.
  • I found my new favorite thing on teh Internet. I was checking, as I do daily, on Amazon's customer reviews of the Official Fitness Bible of Distinguished Senators, Gunnar Peterson's G-Force. I found this review, which I think must have been written by the Onion's Jean Teasdale.
    I'm overweight and I looked for the cutest personal trainer I could find. And Gunnar is it! Just kidding. He really got me with "for every day I strayed from my excercise program, it took two days to get back on track." Okay. If he can go from a two ice cream sandwiches a day to being such a hunk, I think I can manage to cut back on the Ben & Jerry's and do my time on the treadmill. And no more Cosmo while I'm on the stair-stepper -- he says you need to tune in with your body while you tone down. I like his little tips too -- like only keeping the hard to make fatty stuff around so that I'm less than likely to eat it. I'm doing this, I'm really doing all these reps with weights and I've lost an inch and can almost reach my toes. Well, almost is relative. But I'm closer.
G-Force: The Ultimate Guide To Your Best Body Ever is on sale now at your local bookseller, or online at Amazon.com.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Free Jamey!

Just back from the game. This will be short, because I need some sleep. The more closely you follow a game, the worse Frank Robinson looks. Marlon Byrd is a center fielder, right? Coming into this year, he'd played 231 games in center and only 2 elsewhere. So why is he in left tonight? It's more understandable when Ryan Church is out there; neither he nor Wilkerson is a true CF. But Byrd is, so put him out there. I remember Bwilk grousing in the offseason about how wanted to have one position all to himself, and maybe Frank is just trying to keep him happy.

Jamey Carroll is still hitting second, which is fine. Unfortunately, he seems to be there mainly to bunt over Wilkerson (when he manages not to get picked off). Tonight, Brad led off the bottom of the fifth with a single, and Carroll went up to bunt. I think that's a bad play to begin with, but it got worse. Doug Davis threw him two straight balls; the count was 2-0, and Carroll had already drawn a walk in the game. With a hitter's count like that, the odds are pretty good that Jamey will get a walk or a nice juicy fastball. So of course Frank keeps him bunting, and Wilkerson is sacrificed to second.

But we won, and it was relatively easy, so what am I complaining about?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Distinguished Senators Mail-Sack

I learned a lot from my in-depth investigation of the scandal behind Parade Magazine's Personality Parade column and MLB.com's Nationals Mailbag. From the lack of reaction in the mainstream media, I learned that no one cares if you answer questions you made up yourself. I also learned that AMUQ format (answering made-up questions) allows you to talk about whatever self-indulgent/payola-inspired thing you want without anyone suspecting a thing. And they're so easy to write -- you don't have to worry about abrupt transitions or non sequiturs or nothing. So now I'm going to answer a bunch of real questions that real people really sent me. Seriously, I get questions like this all the time from my legions of curious readers.

Hey Ryan, what about that Endy trade? --Umberto E., Palm Springs

I hate it! I'm just kidding, of course. I'm pretty impressed that after months of management whizzing all over him (not literally) (as far as I know), Chavez got us something in return. The Marlon Byrd/Endy Chavez swap was rumored months ago, and here's what I said about it:
As far as I can tell, Byrd and Chavez are actually the same person, so that won't make much of a difference. I guess I'd rather have the guy who managed 44 walks in a season, though.
I'll stand by that -- Byrd had a good 2003 (303/366/418, 28 doubles, 44 walks), better than any year Endy's ever had. They're both centerfielders who don't hit all that much. Chavez has a speed advantage and perhaps a defensive one as well, but he can't hit and everyone hates him -- I don't mean the bloggers, either; I mean Frank Robinson and Tom Boswell. So Bowden gets an unreserved thumbs up from this quarter.

I worry a bit about Byrd's use. I like our current outfield alignment, and my Ryan Church fetish is well documented. Byrd seems to have potential as a fourth outfielder and has the advantage of being right-handed. It's not that I hate the idea of sitting Church against lefties, it's that the shambling corpse of Jeffrey Hammonds plays in his stead when Frank platoons. So if Byrd is used as a defensive replacement/pinch runner/platoon righty, I'll be thrilled. If he displaces Church, I start swearing again.

UPDATE: Basil has a recap of The Marlon Byrd Story Thus Far. Go read it. Also, Frank has indicated how Byrd will be used.
Manager Frank Robinson has told Byrd that he will start against left-handed pitching for the time being.

"At least I know I'm going to be platooning. In Philadelphia, the Phillies looked at me as a fifth outfielder," Byrd said.

I approve.

I haven't heard from Will Carroll in a while. What's he up to? -- Scott L., Hollywood

Not content to rest on his Will Carroll Memorial Nostradumbass Award, Will is branching out! His New York Times article about steroids received rave reviews (". . . has some serious issues[!]" -- Baseball Crank; ". . . sloppy and dishonest[!]" -- Eric McErlain), and now he's expanded it into a whole book! When asked about the venture, Will wondered, "Why can’t someone do some actual reporting or at least fact-checking?" before stating that he sure as hell wasn't about to start.

Juiced by Will Carroll is on sale now at your local bookseller, or online at Amazon.com. Don't be fooled; Amazon's telling people that Alan Schwarz wrote it. Guess why.

Ryan, I'm looking for an inspirational fitness book, preferably by an author whose clients include Penelope Cruz and Angelina Jolie. Do you have any ideas for which you haven't been compensated by the publisher? -- Ryan M., College Park

Do I ever! G-Force by Hollywood trainer Gunnar Peterson, 42, is so inspirational it's like the Rocky IV soundtrack in book form. Enjoy this excerpt:
You really don't realize how much mayonnaise you eat until you eat mustard in its place.
Ain't that the truth! G-Force by Gunnar Peterson is on sale now at your local bookseller, or online at Amazon.com.

Hey, how are Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis doing with the Angels, Dr. Genius? -- Craphonso N., Alexandria

Man, shut the fuck up.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

G-Force!

I got nothing. There's no game tonight, and Mr. Conrad has adequately expressed my feelings on the Nats at the moment. RFK attendance is the big topic of conversation today, but I have little enough to say about that. Look, I was hoping we'd be packing 45,000 a night in there, but 30K isn't embarrassing. The first time I heard the "there's no marketing" excuse, I kind of scoffed. But then I sobered up and started thinking clearly (relatively speaking). If pocket schedules, bobblehead doll giveaways, and team logo beach towels don't have any effect, why does every other team have them? So let's give the locals a couple months before we start comparing them to Braves fans or something.

Well, since I'm not in the mood to do any, like, thinking or anything, I might as well make fun of the latest Mailbag column on MLB.com.
Where is Wil Cordero these days and when he will be back to the Nationals roster? --- William B., Puerto Rico

Cordero traveled with the Nationals during their West Coast trip. Manager Frank Robinson said he was pleased that Cordero was taking ground balls and batting practice. Cordero is on the disabled list after tearing his left medial meniscus during the first week of the season.

There is no timetable as to when Cordero will return, but Robinson said that Cordero would come off the bench and start against some tough left-handers after he is activated.

Hey, MLB.com's Bill Ladson, El Boricua William B. asked when Cordero would be back. He didn't ask for a bunch of fun facts about his meniscus and what species of pitcher he'll be beating [insert joke stolen from Needham here]. Answer the question next time, Bill.

I recently read that the Nationals are seeking a trade for Rockies outfielder Preston Wilson. Do you think Wilson is the answer to the Nationals need for a powerful bat? --Brian Coburn, Potomac, Md.

That's hard to say. Wilson is off to a slow start and is coming off an injury-plagued season in 2004. His best year occurred in 2003, when he led the National League in RBIs with 141 for the Rockies. Wilson is a free agent after this season.

The Nationals have been after Wilson for a few weeks. He is making $12 million and the Nationals would like the Rockies to pay most of his salary.

I'm starting to see a pattern here. Once again, Ladson doesn't quite answer the question and then reels off some facts he seems proud of knowing. "That's hard to say" - weak, Ladson. Very weak. The correct answer, of course, is "Oh, fuck no."

Was Jason Bay ever in the Expos farm system? -- Kevin S., Ottawa

The Expos drafted Bay in the 2000 First Year Player Draft. Then-general manager Omar Minaya traded Bay and pitcher Jim Serrano to the Mets for infielder Lou Collier on March 27, 2002. Bay went to win Rookie of the Year honors with the Pirates in 2004.

I gotta call bullshit on this question. Who the hell would write in to the Nationals beat writer to ask if a Pirates player ever belonged to the Expos? I'm guessing that "Kevin S." is the first name Ladson came up with when he wrote this question after watching Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. You ever read Parade Magazine, the thing that comes in the middle of the Sunday paper between the color comics and the Best Buy ad? This sounds a lot like one of those really suspicious questions that run in Personality Parade (for my money, the only part of the magazine worth reading). Like this one:

Q. Every Hollywood actor seems to have a personal trainer. Who’s the hottest trainer of them all?
—Bea Bell, Raleigh, N.C.
Now honestly, couldn't the intern who writes this come up with a subtler way to plug G-Force, new from ReganBooks, in which one who wanted to train like the stars would the find the fitness philosophy of celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, 42, whose clients include Sly Stallone and J-Lo?


G-Force: The Ultimate Guide To Your Best Body Ever is on sale now at your local bookseller, or online at Amazon.com.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I Sure Hate An Off Day

Well, the game wasn't on TV tonight, so I'd like to take this opportunity to offer a perfunctory "up yours" to Bud Selig, Peter Angelos, Bob DuPuy, and Tony Tavares. While I'm at it, I might as well include Jim Bowden, George Steinbrenner, Roger Clemens, and the guy in charge of air conditioning at the Metrodome. Dayn Perry and Will Carroll can go ahead and get some of this, too.

Anyway, I have to admit that I, as a Jon Rauch partisan, was anti-Vargas. But I, Claudio acquitted himself well and Rauch took the loss, so what the hell do I know? Juan Rivera and his .229 batting average say, "Not a whole lot, chief."

Everyone enjoys a good baseless trade rumor, right? MLB.com favored us with a whole pile of 'em today.
Although the Nationals were second in the National League in hitting entering Tuesday's action, they are still looking for a power hitter, who could bat fifth in the order and protect Jose Guillen. According to two sources, the Nationals are targeting Rangers infielder Alfonso Soriano and center fielders Preston Wilson and Vernon Wells, who are with the Rockies and Blue Jays, respectively.

If Soriano is acquired, he would play left field. Soriano has hit over 30 home runs in a season twice and is currently hitting .291 with 10 home runs and 24 RBIs.

The Nationals have been after Wilson for a few weeks. He is making $12 million and the Nationals would like the Rockies to pay most of his salary Wilson is coming off an injury-plagued season, but his best year occurred in 2003, when he led the league in RBIs with 141. Wilson is a free agent after this season.

Wells is off to a slow start with the Blue Jays, but is capable of driving in a lot of runs. He drove in over 100 runs in 2002 and '03.

If Wells or Wilson were on the Nationals, it would mean that Brad Wilkerson would switch to left field.

Let's take these one at a time.

  • Soriano: everyone knows this guy because he was a Yankee. He's a free swinger with good power (39, 38, and 28 homers the last three years), but was afflicted by some sort of space-time continuum issue in the Dominican Republic which aged him two years overnight. Suddenly he's 29, which isn't exactly old, but Soriano isn't a prodigy anymore, either. I half like this idea for the Nats. I'm of the perhaps controversial opinion that Jose Vidro needs to be shipped out of town before he collapses on us. He's already slow and injured, and it seems pretty likely that the poor man's Roberto Alomar could follow his idol right off the cliff. So I Soriano would be a nice replacement at second, but putting him in left field is just silly. Soriano may not be a red-hot second-sacker, but at least he's familiar with it, and 30 homers are a much hotter commodity from second than they are from the outfield.
  • Wilson: This just doesn't make any sense at all. He's 30, he's injury-prone, he can't hit outside of Coors, and he's about to be a free agent. So either he's a rental, for which we have no use, or we give him an extension, which is just silly. Look, the outfield isn't a problem. Guillen/Wilkerson/Church is pretty good, and Wilson doesn't improve it in any obvious way. So if you're get someone new to play out there, he'd better be good.
  • Wells: Fuck yeah! This is the kind of player I'm talking about. Vernon Wells is a 26-year-old center fielder, an athelet with 30-homer power and an increasing walk rate. I was trying to come up with a list of current Nationals I wouldn't trade straight-up for Wells. Here's the list: 1. Livan Hernandez. That's it. He's younger and more athletic than Brad Wilkerson, and he's not a ticking time bomb like Nick Johnson. Unfortunately, I can't see this happening unless Toronto's offices have been affected by a severe and unrecognized carbon monoxide leak.
I don't think any of these is going to happen. The team doesn't have much room in the budget or much to trade, especially with Terrmel Sledge on the DL. Beyond that, who is there? Wilk isn't going anywhere, we actually need Church, and who's going to want one of our unreliable mix-n-match #5 starters? So we're stuck, at least for a while, with the rag-tag bunch of misfits we've got now. There are worse fates.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

When I'm in a Hurry, All I Can Think of is ¡Livan!

Jamey Carroll fever is running wild. I'm not the first to link to this must-read post at Oleanders and Morning Glories, in which Jamey himself defends the logic of keeping him on the bench.
Maybe someday, after I start playing everyday, I’ll get the chance to play everyday but not yet.
Luckily for Jamey, Nats infielders are dropping like Spinal Tap drummers. Cristian Guzman just joined keystone kompatriot Jose Vidro on the pine, so we're going to see Carroll at short and Carlos Baerga at second base. This could be hilarious, assuming you're a Diamondbacks or Cubs fan. Needham's looking forward to it:
[Baerga] wasn’t a good fielder in 1995. And he’s definitely not a good fielder ten years and fifty pounds later.
So this is going to hurt us defensively. Offensively, though, we're not missing much. Consider these batting lines, expressed in the traditional Avg/OBP/Slg format:

Guzman: 222/264/291
¡Livan!: 250/286/450

I suppose it would be rubbing it in to point out that ¡Livan! has as many home runs as Guzman, as well.

Speaking of our #1 starter and hearthrob, ¡Livan! is currently on pace for a 25-10 record, and 4.02 ERA in 284 innings. I'd take that. Yeah, I know the ERA looks high, but is the kind of guy who can be useful even with a less than eye-popping ERA. A couple of months ago, I used the example of 2004 Jake Peavy vs. 2004 ¡Livan!. Peavy's ERA was 2.27, ¡Livan!'s 3.60. Yet ¡Livan! was more valuable because of a near-100 IP advantage. The 284 ¡Livan! is headed for is the most anyone's thrown since Charlie Hough in 1987, and there's a lot of value in that even with that ERA. And the great part is that our hero is pretty likely to lower the ERA -- he's striking out fewer and walking more than he has in years -- and is a fair bet to continue the inning-eating. And, of course, he's hitting better than our $16 million shortstop.

Time to watch the game. Tony Armas is back, and you can imagine my excitement. Reigning Nat of the Day Ryan Church is sitting against lefty Shawn "T" Estes. He's not upset, though. Church:
It’s really easy to explain. I haven’t gotten to hit left-handed pitching, because I haven’t had a chance to hit left-handed pitching. Once I get some at bats versus southpaws, maybe then Frank will let me get a couple swings in against port-siders, but until I get in the batters box against a few lefties, I don’t think I should get a chance to go one-on-one with those crafty guys who throw with the other hand, not the right one.
I'm completely serious that you need to read this thing.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Tenure?

It's been a while since we had the rumors, so here's Ken Rosenthal:
The Braves remain interested in Reds OF Austin Kearns, who also is on the Royals' and Nationals' wish lists. The Reds, however, don't want to trade Kearns until he increases his value to the point where they will get a quality pitcher in return.
Kearns, in case you haven't been paying attention, is a young righty outfielder with the potential to be a huge power hitter. He's also been ruined by injuries his first couple of years (only 64 games in 2004). I wouldn't mind having him, but I wonder what "quality pitcher" means. I'm guessing Zach Day and Tomo Ohka don't fit the bill. Tony Armas? John Patterson? Giant Baba?

He also mentions my fellow Baylor Bear Kip Wells.
Pirates RHP Kip Wells could be one of the most attractive pitchers available before the July 31 trading deadline, but his makeup is a concern. "He's an over-thinker, an over-analyzer," one executive says. "He doesn't believe how good he is. He's always thinking worst-case scenario. It's more self-doubt than being weak. But at some point you've got to shake it; you've got to get going."
That is unquestionably the problem with Baylor grads: we're just too damn smart. Always over-thinking, over-analyzing. That's why the NBA MVP debate is Steve Nash vs. Shaq and not David Wesley vs. Brian Skinner. It's why Crystal Bernard isn't polishing eight or nine Oscars as we speak. And it's why I keep getting jerked at the Source Awards.

District of Baseball, a daily stop for those in the know and for me, informs us that "more than 100,000 tickets have been sold for this coming weekend's three-game series against the Cubs." This could be very bad. For some damn reason, Cubs fans are everywhere. I've never understood it. I guess there's some kind of romance in the idea of a star-crossed franchise that can't win a World Series, but that was the Red Sox. The Cubs are just a crappy franchise that can't win a World Series. You might as well be pulling for the Clippers or Baylor football. Anyway, there are those who thought that Nats fans looked bad when the Mets were in town. I disagree. Yeah, the Mets fans were numerous and, as is typical of species, loud and obnoxious, but cheers for the home team were louder. This series, though, could see us drowned out by a huge crowd of whatever you call the opposite of bandwagon-jumpers.

I let my Baseball Prospectus subscription lapse this winter. I was annoyed at their well documented anti-Nats snarkiness but even more annoyed at the way they completely half-assed it during the offseason. There's not much I'm missing. On one hand, I feel like a slacker in that a couple BP writers also have lucrative side jobs as my archenemies, and forty bucks should be a small price to pay to keep an eye on evil-doers. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who cares all that much about Will Carroll, so it's probably good that I don't read that much of him anymore.

But I was looking forward to reading transaction analyst Chris Kahrl. It's not that I find her analysis of transactions indispensable, but rather that Kahrl's a D.C. resident and deeply interested in the baseball in the city -- and in a good way, unlike most of her co-conspirators. Baseball Musings was good enough to quote her look at the Nats' current roster set-up, so here it is.
Progress can take all sorts of shapes, although sometimes it needs a sing-along ball. Even so, happy notes are to be found in the immediate assurances given that Chavez is only here to be a reserve, pinch-running and handling defensive substitutions and such. And the idea that the Nats are willing to--gasp--go with ten pitchers or--gasp again--do without a situational lefty… well, it's the world turned upside down, you'd think. It's cool to see that Frank Robinson has the gumption, and Jim Bowden the flexibility, to run with this sort of roster, but I can't help but wonder if necessity, and not any peculiar genius, is the unwed mother that produced this invention, a leftover of the organization's long bender with Omar Minaya. When your choices are bringing back Joe Horgan or doing without a lefty, you might end up doing something bold because you don't have a whole lot of choice.
Saber-types generally wish teams would go back to 10 pitchers, as opposed to the 11 or 12 they usually carry these days. This is largely because pitching changes bore Bill James, and as a result he's spent decades bitching about those lefty relievers who come in to get one left-handed hitter out and then leave (Joey Eischen, Steve Kline). The Nats are at 10 pitchers right now, meaning they can employ some position players with very narrow portfolios, guys like Endy Chavez, who is ideally suited for pinch-running and as a defensive replacement (see Basil for further discussion along these lines). But, as Kahrl notes, this is owing more to a lack of alternatives rather than to innovative thinking, and we'll be back up to a non-Prospectus-approved corps of pitchers as soon as circumstances allow.

Rickey loves baseball. Rickey wants to play. Rickey should be our player/manager. Or just our manager. Or our television announcer. I don't care how, I don't care in what capacity, but Ryan wants Rickey in Washington.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

There Are Far Too Many Commas in This Post, and I Haven't Even Been Reading Wodehouse

The last week may have disguised this fact, but Distinguished Senators is, in fact, a blog about a baseball team. So that's today's topic. The Nats, in case you haven't been paying attention, are hot. It was widely assumed that the ten-day, three-city road trip that the Nationals are tearing through would be disastrous, that the team would limp back with their eyes blackened and in a plane that had a couple of engines shot out, Memphis Belle-style. Not the case so far. 4-2 with two series wins against quality teams, and all this in spite of a practically Biblical plague of injuries and some very shaky starting pitching. Neat! I still think we've been lucky and that we're about to get kicked in the junk by an infuriating losing streak, so I'm enjoying this while I can. What follows is a series of useless observations. I can't be bothered with a theme unless I'm complaining about writers.
  • Why isn't Giant Jon Rauch starting? We've already established that he's really tall, and that's reason enough to put him in the rotation as far as I'm concerned. But he's really pitching like, hell, I don't know, a decent pitcher. Better than Day and Ohka, at any rate. He was brought in in long relief twice in the series against the Giants. 6 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run. Only 3 strikeouts vs 4 walks, but he's earned a shot.
  • Needham's convinced that Frank's a bad manager. I'm not disagreeing with him -- he's paying much closer attention than I am -- but he did the right thing Friday and Saturday by yanking obviously ineffective pitchers before they could do irreperable harm. On the other hand, he let red-hot Ryan Church stew on the bench for 13 innings today, so screw him.
  • Jose Vidro's out for one or two weeks. That's just part of the budget with Vidro. You get the bat, you put up with the poor defense, lack of speed, and the injuries. Jamey Carroll is playing well in his absence, slapping singles and probably improving the infield D. Which brings me to my next point.
  • Carroll should be playing more -- he hasn't played at all in 17 of our 31 games. I'm not the only one who thinks so; the last two Washington Post chats with Barry Svrluga have included questions about the Carroll PT issue, but Svrluga dismisses them. Let's have a look at his most recent response.
    Carroll is, right now, a utility player. A fine one at that, but he won't play every day.
    Let me rephrase this: "Carroll won't play every day because he doesn't play every day." That's true, I suppose, in a zen sort of way. Barry continues:
    Plus, where are you going to put him? At second? No, Vidro's a star. At short? No, Guzman's coming around and is superior defensively. At third? No, because the surprise of the first month has arguably been Castilla's bat.
    Let me run this through Babelfish: "Vidro makes $8 million. Guzman makes $4 million. Castilla makes $3 million. Carroll makes $300,000." Don't think this kind of thing doesn't make a difference. Imagine Castilla was benched for Brendan Harris (not that I'm advocating that move at this point); that would mean the organization would be admitting that it made a huge mistake. Guzman is sitting at 239/276/312 after the old size 5 collar today, which is just astoundingly bad. He's going to have to keep that up for, by my reckoning, three and a half years before they sit him. We've got a shortstop who can field but can't hit, a second baseman who can hit and can't field, and a utility guy who can hit better than the shortstop and field better than the second baseman. Seems to me like you could fashion a pretty nifty three-man rotation out of that set-up. Guzman needs pinch-hitting for, Vidro needs time off and defensive replacing, and Carroll needs playing time. I'm thinking about sending Frank this biography of Casey Stengel when I'm done with it. That guy knew how to use his whole roster.
  • Back in the early days of this blog, before all the fame and fortune, back when I was scrapping for every link and hustling 24-7, I lamented Nick Johnson's amazingly ugly moustache. To quote myself:
    He looks like he lost a bet. I mean, Johnson isn't exactly Travis Lee to begin with, if you know what I mean, and having what looks like two anchovies attached to his lip doesn't help.
    Well, hide the kids, because it's back.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Dayn Fallout

One last Dayn post. Maybe tomorrow I'll talk about baseball -- wouldn't that be novel? First off, I mentioned Yuda's masterful analysis of the problems several of us have with Dayn Perry and with Baseball Prospectus, home of the haughty, overpaid tastemakers of the sabermetric world. In case you didn't get into the long, embarrassing comments thread that houses this masterpiece, or in case you did but couldn't get past all the Pat O'Brien, here's Yuda's unanswered question to Dayn:
While it's true that Montreal got something of a raw deal, they didn't really go to any lengths at all to prevent the team from moving. The fans stopped coming to the park; no owner who wanted to keep the team there stepped up to buy the team (a la Paul Allen and the Portland TrailBlazers).

But, it's not just your column that has us pissed off. For the last six months there's been a notable and clear bias against the city of Washington and the team playing in RFK. I recognize that all the writers here have favorite teams, and I expect that kind of bias to come out from time to time. But rooting against a particular team just because you don't like Bud Selig -- with no other reason to do so -- isn't going to win you many fans in the area.

Through all this, the only BP writer who's been professional about the topic if the Expos moving to D.C. is Jonah Keri -- ironic, given he's the one writer who's actually been injured in the whole scenario.

But beyond that, what it boils down to is the quality of BP has gone down -- way down -- over the last couple of years. You guys have been phoning it in since sometime around early August last year. When's the last time you checked a fact? Hell, Nate Silver last month linked to an article claiming that Jim Bowden was looking to trade for Neifi Perez. The article talked about his interest in Damian Jackson, Pokey Reese or Wilson Betemit as a backup shortstop. None of those players are named Neifi Perez.

You guys have started reaching conclusions first and trying to find data -- or even just ignoring what data you do find -- to fit said preconceptions.

I'd have already let my subscription lapse if I hadn't paid for two years in 2003; I know several people who *have* let theirs lapse. If you don't want to address it, that's fine. Half the staff has cushy writing gigs at places like Fox Sports now.

Of course, those outside cushy writing gigs are probably part of the problem, as I suspect everybody is saving their A game.
And no swears!

Basil T. Inquirer also chimed in on the Perry issue.
Anyone on Team Prospectus can (try to) assess whether Erik Bedard is legit; you have written something far more specific, in an incediary fashion, with no basis for it other than to antagonize. And you complain that there's a better forum for it than your BP chat? I don't think so.

In law, we'd call this kind of thing . . . well, I was going to say "invited error," but that's something different, and this case can be concisely worded as Being a Jerk.
There you go. If Dayn's going to flamebait, he can't start whining when the conflagration starts.

And finally: Dayn Perry, May 2005: "For external observers, however, the move of the Expos to D.C. can be viewed only as a grave injustice and yet another example of MLB's lamentable corporatist ethic."

Dayn Perry, January 2005: "Fans and media: Take it easy on the righteous indignation."

Dayn should consider following his own advice. Or just stop being a jackass.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

In Which I Rag on Dayn Some More

I'm proud of you guys. We all gave Dayn Perry a whole bunch of shit in his chat today, to the point that he started getting a little snippy.
Vinny Castilla (RFK): What's your problem with baseball in DC? It seems to be going pretty well to me.

Dayn Perry: See above. As for further Nats-related questions, I'll be glad to schedule a chat on any Nats fan site/blog out there. Just contact me through the site.

Hmm . . . any Nats fan site/blog? Well, I'm not going to do it. Regardless, this is a clear indication that we kicked Baseball Prospectus in the ass with our righteous indignation. It was a disappointing chat, all in all. It started late, one-hand typist Dayn took half an hour between questions, and he certainly didn't answer all our questions. Though I guess we couldn't expect him to respond to advances from Pat O'Brien and queries on what unnatural acts he had to perform to insure his employment. But at one point in the (plodding, insight-free) chat, Dayn answered a question about his dickheaded wish "that things in D.C., generally speaking, go horribly wrong for the Nationals."

Dayn Perry: Nats fans are certainly a mobilized lot. I've received more email about that one sentence (to be pedantic, I suppose it's actually not a sentence) than anything else I've ever written. So let's talk about it ...

First, I don't begrudge Beltway fans joy in finally have baseball return to them. If I were in or around a city deprived of baseball for 30-plus years, I certainly wouldn't give a crap how a team got there. So long as it got there. That's fine.

For external observers, however, the move of the Expos to D.C. can be viewed only as a grave injustice and yet another example of MLB's lamentable corporatist ethic. The orchestrated failure of the Expos in MOntreal and the chicanery it took to make that happen is nothing new, but that doesn't make it acceptable. After all, D.C. lost two iterations of the Senators because of this sort of thing. Bob Short was greedy, and Calvin Griffith was a greedy racist. The whole relocation scheme is predicated on lies and avarice and wholly betrays the concepts of loyalty, history and tradition.

So to support what MLB has done to bring the Expos/Nats to Washington is to tacitly endorse this sort of behavior. Again, I don't hold this against Nats fans from the area, because I wouldn't care were I in their position. But we shouldn't propagate this dynamic by pretending all's glorious about baseball's return to D.C.

If it's any consolation, whatever I wish to happen makes no difference, and, no, I didn't really expect the Nats to fail. So get over it.
Nice, Dayn. You hate Bud Selig so much that you hope thousands of Nationals fans suffer so you can chuckle at his failure. It's terrible reasoning, of course. Suppose the Nats fail and pack up for Vegas or Norfolk. What is that supposed to do to Selig? The man is clearly unembarrassable - just look at him. No conflict of interest, no strike, no tied All-Star Game has brought the man down yet. Everyone hates him except the owners, but the owners have the only opinions that matter. So Dayn hopes that the heart-broken fans of Montreal are avenged by the heart-break of Washington fans. It doesn't add up.

But we shouldn't expect it to. Dayn isn't a great analyst. His opinions on personnel are right of out of the Rob Neyer Songbook (meaning that they're identical to mine), and he does little but spout the most vanilla SABR-lite claptrap. It's Prospectus dogma that Bud Selig=bad, and this is undoubtedly true. So Dayn jerked his knee and said something dumb (he has been known to express forcefully an opinion on a matter about which he knows nothing). Indeed, if Dayn had restricted himself to pointing out that the whole relocation process was awful and that Montreal got hosed, fine - I think we all agree with that. But he went too far and knows it (hence the last two sentences of his response). But he won't back off for some reason, and now he has a thousand enemies. Oh, and by the way:

If it's any consolation, whatever I wish to happen makes no difference . . .
No consolation to me, but I'm sure Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes feel better.

If you're in the mood for more Dayn talk and are over 18, check out the comments for the last post. There's some good stuff in there, particularly Yuda's evisceration of Baseball Prospectus.

One Hour Left

Get to BP! Now! Brian (comments below) had the brilliant idea of posting as Pat O'Brien, but there's nothing that says he has to be the only one. We don't do this for a living.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

In Which I Ponder the Four Versions of Dayn

We're 15 or so hours away from Dayn Perry's Baseball Prospectus chat, when the normally reclusive (terrified) (of me) Perry pokes his head out to receive the adulation of his public. We're going to be waiting for him, right? We're going to flood him with questions about his imaginary girlfriends and wishing that the Nats crash and burn and his total misunderstanding of the stadium situation. Hell, while we're at it, we may as well express our displeasure with BP in general and make fun of Will Carroll. With the Nats way the hell over on the other side of the country and American Idol bereft of contestants who have slept with Paula Abdul, I've had a lot of time to think about my li'l buddy Dayn, so here's a brief monograph.

As a writer, Dayn has several personae, none of them good. We all know Greasy Pervert Dayn, of course. GP Dayn has gotten most of the press around here, and for good reason. GP's writing is the kind of thing I wouldn't believe if I hadn't seen it. Who can forget this gem?
We make love to the throbbing Tejano beats of the barrio. I adore her for her swarthy charms, nasty inclinations and tamale skills. She adores my money.
That's him fantasizing about dating some actress, in case you need some background. And that's the one without the venereal disease. Then there's what I like to call Talk to the Hand Dayn. TotH Dayn is similar to Greasy Pervert Dayn in that both take their inspiration from Maxim magazine and the Man Show. TotH Dayn is the one that threatens to hit people with a shovel and takes notes during Pepsi commercials.

Less easy to mock is Wannabe Rob Neyer Dayn. Rob Neyer, for those of you unfamiliar, is a perfectly innocuous baseball columnist for ESPN who quite rightly gets credit for introducing sabermetric ideas into the mainstream. When Dayn's trying to write seriously about baseball (picking the A's every year because of Moneyball, starting up to five consecutive sentences with some limp qualifier like "similarly" or "on the other hand"), he sounds like Rob Neyer. It's really dull, and I've lamented before how WRN Dayn limits my opportunities for entertaining invective, especially now that WRN has almost entirely replaced GP and even TotH Dayn. It would be delusional and megalomaniacal of me to claim that this was my doing, so go ahead and say it for me in the comments. Thank you.

Recently, though, Dayn has adopted a new persona, his worst yet: Guy Who Makes Sense About the Nats. I was expecting some real bullshit out of Dayn after his New Year's outburst. But check out the Nats entry from this week's Power Rankings:
Don't be tempted by Cristian Guzman's ten-game hitting streak; he's still lugging around an ungodly .265 OBP. His signing was one of the worst in recent history. In a span of five games, Brad Wilkerson's SLG has dropped from .616 to .505.
Shit, makes sense to me. Last week?
A -12 run differential drops them quite a bit, but there are promising signs here. Vinny Castilla will most assuredly come back to earth, but Nick Johnson has reached base in every game this season, and Brad Wilkerson's playing at an MVP clip. Expect a move upward in the coming weeks.
True and very disturbing. Earlier I accused Dayn of stealing my stuff like I was Bono and he was that little weasely fuck from Coldplay. I hope that's the reason Dayn sounds like this, because it's kind of flattering and the alternatives are much worse. Do I sound like a Neyer wannabe? Or is this whole blog some kind of post-modern literary experiment where it turns out I'm Dayn or Dayn doesn't exist and the whole thing is in my head? So you see how plagiarism is actually a best-case scenario here.

I hope you learned something. See you tomorrow at Baseball Prospectus. Bring your nastiest shit.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

In Which the Return of a Certain Centerfielder is So Depressing That It Can Only Be Alluded To

There's good news and bad news. The good news is that the Nationals won last night. The bad news is almost everything else.

First, game stuff. I honestly don't know how this team is winning. We had one extra-base hit last night, Jose Guillen's homer. We had on extra-base hit in the previous game, a Cristian Guzman triple. Brad Wilkerson is on an 0-5 streak. Let me define my terms: the "0" is the number of hits, the "5" the number of games; Wilk is all the way down to 295/368/505 - still good, but he ain't the MVP anymore. Esteban Loaiza was good last night, but only went six innings - not the inning-eating we were expecting, but I'll take fewer innings if he keeps his ERA under 4. Anyway I expect a demoralizing losing streak in our future.

Terrmel Sledge won't be around for it, and neither will Joey Eischen. Both are on the disabled list. Sledge is a better player than Eischen, but more easily replaced: he and Ryan Church were being used interchangeably already. The loss of Eischen, on the other hand, leaves us without a lefty in the bullpen. So how does our esteemed GM respond? By bringing up two near-useless outfielders from New Orleans. Don't expect me to explain how this man thinks, but if he was just trying to provoke Craphonso "Chris" Needham, mission accomplished. It's not all bad, though. With Guillen and Castilla playing really well, this will give us all a nice, safe target to bag on. This isn't the end of the early-season reshuffling. Brittle starter Tony Armas is on his way back, leaving us without about 12 starting pitchers in addition to our 15 outfielders. I can't imagine we'll go long with a lefty-free bullpen, so expect some movement on that front as well. This has been a pretty boring couple of paragraphs, and I can't think of any way seemlessly to blend in some swears. Sorry.

It seems that I start every announcement of a new link with the phrase "I've been remiss." It ain't broke, so it remains unfixed. I've been remiss in not linking to Nasty Nats. It did start when I was off getting married and all that girly stuff, so I have an excuse. Anyway, check it out. It's got pictures and a Joey Eischen obsession and buckets of irreverance, which I may not have spelled right.

I trust that you're all working diligently on your questions for Dayn. Don't let me down, people.

Late game again tonight. Get to Yuda's and join the fun.

Monday, May 02, 2005

In Which I Attempt to Get Others to Join in My Vendetta

I've convened my evening by-myself meeting, but there's no one who deserves to catch a beating. The Nationals in general are worthy, I suppose, but I already registered my disgust with last night's nationally televised performance by awarding Nat of the Day honors to a jowly alien in a little hat. So I'm looking ahead, and I've found a potentially nifty opportunity. This Thursday at 1 pm, Dayn Perry (Official Greasy Pervert of Distinguished Senators) is having a chat at Baseball Prospectus, where forty bucks is a bargain for a whole year of their repetitive, doctrinaire bullshit. I think we should all make sure to attend and contribute questions along the lines of, "Dayn, which rape fantasy are you most proud of?" or "Dayn, what do you fellow BP writers think of all the boob-talk you indulge in at Fox Sports?" or "Dayn, what's the most cutting insult Chris Kahrl's come up with in response to your 'Imaginary Girlfriend' series?" Maybe you, my beloved readers, can come up with some subtler but still insulting questions that Dayn would consider answering, and at any rate we could make sure the BP crowd is aware of the enormity of Dayn's FoxSports.com work.

The Nats begin a long road trip out West today. Tonight's game starts at 10, which means I really should be in bed before it starts. Sometimes I hate living on the East coast, even though our hip-hop is by far the stronger. Anyway, Yuda's is the place to be, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for letting us get around Blogger's player-hating.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

In Which I Quote from the Works of the Ghostface Killa

I had a damn good time at RFK last night. It all started when I got to the park and found out that lame-ass Zach Day had been replaced by much put-upon Distinguished Senators favorite Tomo "Landlord" Ohka. He lived up to his nonsensical nickname, too. Six innings, no runs, a hustling infield single, and a masterful performance in getting out of a bases-loaded jam caused by his own bad throw to second. Another recipient of my support and a nickname, "SoulPatch" Ryan Church, had a good night as well. Twice he got himself down 0-2 but still managed to do something, chipping in with a single and homer. Nick Johnson was even better with his homer and two walks, one with the bases loaded. I really dislike the Mets, and they looked pretty bad, especially Victor Zambrano. I hope they didn't give up much to get him. HAH!

Yeah, it rained, but even that was my friend. It justified my cheapness, as all the millionaires in the unroofed section in front of me got rained on. Even better, the two rain delays had a lovely sense of timing. The first took Ohka out of the game after six innings, before he could blow it. The second, combined with the hilarious ineptitude of the grounds crew, handed the Nationals the victory before they could blow it. Put it all together with some high drama - two pitches bouncing off of Jose Guillen and Frank getting his cranky ass ejected so he wouldn't miss Matlock - and the free candy bars that guy was giving away outside the Metro station, and it spells fun.

It's actually a lot easier to write about a baseball team in the offseason, I'm learning. You can spend months dissecting the minutiae of team building (George Arias vs. Jared Sandberg - take a side!). These days, though, the closest we get is stuff like Jim Bowden's contract being extended through the season and Jose Guillen's option getting picked up. Neither of these is a surprise, and there's only a little to complain about. The fact that Bowden wasn't already signed through the season is merely an indication that MLB thought they'd be able to find some owners during the season. That's out the window, so Bodes isn't going to be let go before October. The Guillen issue is slightly more troubling. It's only $4 million, and Guillen's a fine player when not annoyed, but Craphonso Needham rightly points out that there's no obvious reason to do this so early in the season. (Digression: Guillen's problems with the Angels started when he got plunked and felt that the team didn't protect him by retaliating. Ohka threw near somebody last night, drawing a warning from the ump, so I wonder if Jose feels protected.)

These two moves, though, have prompted some flawed analysis (yes, I'm looking at you, Marc Sterne). We're a month into the season, and Bowden looks pretty good. Castilla and Guillen have been great, Loiaza's been acceptable, and the team is over .500. But we are a month into the season. Brian Roberts is second in the AL in home runs, the Yankees are playing .400 ball, and Jon Garland is pace to go 32-0. None of these things will be true at the All-Star break, much less at the end of the season, just as Vinny won't be sporting a .347 batting average come June. The point I'm trying to make here is not to make any conclusions yet - a month is too soon. This isn't a sophisticated sabermetric theory or anything; it's just common sense.

Not that anyone cares, but my home computer issues are resolved, so now I can get back to my usual schedule, perfectly described and possibly inspired by occasional Wu-Tang Clan member Cappadonna:
Every evening, I have a by myself meeting
Thinking who's gonna be the next to catch a beating
That about sums it up. Now that I'm able to have my nightly by myself meeting again, prepare for another week of the same old shit from me.