Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bowden: "I Fucked Up"

I've been waiting pretty much since the day he was hired for Jim Bowden to admit he sucks. It's a lot to ask, I know, but he's finally done it. Alert Nats fans may have noticed that Cristian Guzman didn't start last night, sitting in favor of Jamey Carroll. Guz wasn't injured, and it wasn't a senior moment from Frank Robinson. It was totally on purpose.
"It comes to a point where, for me, we're struggling and we need offense wherever we can get it," Robinson said of Guzman, who is hitting .189 after grounding out in a pinch-hit appearance last night. "You eliminate the weakest guy in your lineup."
That's not the end of it. Bodes continues to seek a replacement for his $16 million dollar extravagance.
Before last night's game against the Colorado Rockies at RFK Stadium, Bowden said he had called Nationals special assistant Barry Larkin to try and persuade the 12-time All-Star to come out of retirement and play for the rest of the season.
Bowden has realized -- and bear in mind that this is not a recent development -- that his big acquisition, allegedly a player you "build around," is so bad that he'd rather have a 41 year old who hasn't played in the better part of a year suit up. But the fact that it's Carroll replacing Guzman is an even more amazing development. I don't know if you've noticed, but Bodes seems to hate guys he hasn't acquired. Remember Brendan Harris? The Nats have done everything they could to keep him off the field. Baerga has the same portfolio as Harris (2B/3B) but is fat and slow and just generally embarrassing to justify to friends who are fans of other teams. It was decided that Jamey Carroll couldn't adequately fill in at second, but instead of giving Harris a chance, valuable starter/Frank casualty Tomo Ohka was jettisoned for a month of Junior Spivey. So poor Brendan is slaving away in New Orleans while anyone -- anyone -- Bodes brought on board gets to enjoy the limelight of the majors. So believe me when I say that it's a big damn deal that a guy whose performance can in no way make Bodes look good is playing instead of Guzman.

The rough part for Bowden is that this is his legacy. Let's look three years into the future, after Vinny Castilla retires and is elected Mayor of Mexico. After Jose Guillen is booted off his twelfth team for kicking the bat boy in the head. It's 2008, and the only remnant of the mercifully short Bowden Era is the pudgy, annoyed-looking shortstop enjoying his third season on the pine and making a cool $4 million doing it.

On a positive note, you have the Distinguished Senators guarantee that it's completely worth your while to look at this.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Cast Your Vote!

I'm right in my middle of my own, extended version of the All-Star Break. I call it the All-Scotch Break. The concept is that I reenact all the fun-filled events of the All-Star Break, but with Scotch instead of baseball. I started with Scotch Shot Derby, in which I made the mistake of representing my native Venezuela. I don't think it makes me any less a man that I couldn't get through the first batter of the first round -- it turns out Bobby Abreu is better at hitting batting practice homers than I am at downing whisky. I woke up a couple days later to discover that I had missed the actual game, meaning that I'd have to postpone the All-Scotch Game, in which the 25 best single malts take on the 25 best blends. I also discovered that Jim Bowden, perhaps in the course of a Scotch Shot Derby of his own, had acquired Preston Wilson from the Rockies. Don't ask me why Bodes hates Ryan Church or why he thinks "older and more expensive" means "better." That's why he's Bodes. Yes, I know Preston hit a homer in his first appearance as a Nat, but I'm not letting that change my opinion of the trade because I'm not an idiot.

Anyway, I'm going to Ocean City to continue the All-Scotch Break. The next events are the AAA All-Star Game (the AAA All-Scotch Game? Getting drunk at a Delmarva Shorebirds game) and the Futures Game, which you probably didn't watch on Sunday. My version of the Futures Game consists of buying beer for minors. I'll be back on Wednesday.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Paging Dr. Guillen

The Nats are limping into the All Star break. The injuries are mounting, and that's led to a couple of series lost to our suck-ass divisional rivals. Jose Guillen knows what the problem is: too many pansies!
"We have some key players that just keep getting hurt, like Churchy and Nick and Guzzy," Guillen said. "Without those three guys, I don't think the team's looking the same.

"You know we need Nick. We need some of those guys to learn how to play in pain. They need to step it up and have to understand, right now, in the second half, there's no baby-sitting anyone."

Thanks for the diagnosis, Dr. Guillen! I'm sure Johnson is going to ignore both his doctors and his own physical pain now that he's learned that all he lacks is testicular fortitude. I'm also sure that he'll be damn glad to see you when he gets back and will probably thank you in person for your help. For my part, I'm going to file this medical advice alongside Dr. Boswell's -- hey, were you guys in the same class at Jackass Medical College? And as long as you're dispensing medical advice, here's a prescription from Dr. Ryan: 500 mg of SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU PRICK.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bronchitis, Huh?

Jose Guillen is ticking. His problems with the Angels last year stemmed from a perceived lack of protection. Jose felt that he was getting hit and that nothing was being done in his defense. Guillen was plunked yet again by Pedro Martinez on Tuesday, his tenth of the year. It was probably intentional, given that Pedro has superb control and is a dick (and I say that with love -- Pedro rules). Afterwards, Guillen was really, really pissed. Or not, depending on whether you were reading an actual journalist's account of the game or that of a lesser type. Once again I'm going to skip of the Guillen issues to talk about the coverage his issues have gotten from the press.

Lucky for us, Needham is all over the Guillen angle. Go read this.
Guillen's an ass. A complete ass. This isn't the first time that that hothead has let his personal vendettas get in the way of clubhouse issues. And it goes to show that the persona that he and the Nationals have created of a reformed man are horseshit.
Guillen's deep in the doghouse. Don't believe any of this "bronchitis" bullshit. He didn't play on Thursday because Frank rightly took Loaiza and Schneider's side in this issue.

Of course, if you relied on MLB.com, you wouldn't even know there was an issue. Here's Bill Ladson's piece on Tuesday's game.
Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen was upset after Tuesday's win against the Mets and didn't want to talk to the media. According to multiple sources, Guillen was angry that teammate Esteban Loaiza didn't retaliate after Mets right-hander Pedro Martinez hit Guillen with a pitch in the first inning.
...
Guillen apologized to the media on Wednesday and denied he was angry Loaiza didn't retaliate against the Mets. He said he was upset that he made an error in the ninth inning that cost the Nationals a run.
Huh, well that's not that too bad. He's just, you know, intense. Like Tomo Ohka. But check out how the story changes when you hear from a guy who was willing to some actual reporting or at least fact-checking, in this case, the estimable Barry Svrluga.
Several sources said he had a confrontation in the dugout prior to the bottom of the second inning with pitcher Esteban Loaiza and catcher Brian Schneider.
Huh. Odd that Ladson didn't mention that.
"He was on first base, and then we went back on the field [in the top of the second], and then came back in the dugout, and it was our turn up to bat, and he said he told me to hit somebody," Loaiza said yesterday. "He never mentioned anything to me, and then he started going after Schneider. And Schneider didn't hear him, either."
Svrulga went and talked to some of the players involved, it would appear.
Guillen, who declined to speak to reporters after Tuesday's game, said repeatedly yesterday that he was not upset at being hit by Martinez, the fourth time his fellow native of the Dominican Republic has hit him during his career. Teammates privately said Guillen's actions showed differently.
Did you pick up on the vital extra step here? Guillen says he's not mad, and that's good enough for Ladson. Svrluga, on the other hand, did some actual goddam reporting.
All season, players have raved about the club's chemistry, and they consider it an essential element in their rise to first place in the NL East. As one player said yesterday, "We don't need that right now." Some players elected yesterday not to speak to Guillen, who did not take batting practice before the game.
Here's the point: there's a big difference between the rah-rah bullshit you find on MLB.com (among other outlets) and what's actually happening. We've been told since the day of the Guillen trade that he was a changed man and wouldn't dare do anything unpleasant on his new team. The usual wheelbarrow for all this manure has been Bill Ladson's stuff on MLB.com. It wasn't hard to poke holes in this nonsense even when Guillen was well-behaved. But at this point, Ladson's negligence is suspicious. Remember, he simply did not report the confrontation between Guillen and his teammates. Is he just not very good at his job, or did his bosses not want that information to get out? It could well be both. Just remember that anything on MLB.com may as well have been dictated by Tony Tavares or Jim Bowden.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Sitting Feeling Sorry in the Salty Dog

As Basil helpfully points out in the comments to my last post, it's been a full week since my last post. I defend myself thusly: fuck ya'll, I was on vacation. It wasn't all arcades and all-I-could-eat crabs -- I was doing research. I avoided the beach entirely in favor of sitting in a Pittsburgh-themed bar watching the Nats, and I kept close count of Ocean City's vital statistics. You'll be happy to know that Nationals caps and shirts outnumbered Orioles stuff, though both were beaten easily by Confederate flags. Everyone was just excited by the Dukes of Hazzard movie, no doubt. Anyway, here's today's feeble attempt at ~CONTENT!
  • You probably know this, but Nick Johnson and Ryan Church are the DL. Nick is just straight up brittle. What would take a normal human a week to recover from takes Nick a month, according to my medical computations. Hey, I've got all the same credentials as Will Carroll. As far as Church goes, I'm still waiting for Tom Boswell's heartfelt apology. "I'm sorry I used my widely-read forum to imply you were a pussy based on absolutely fucking nothing, Ryan! I won't do it again!" Be a man, Boz.
  • How 'bout that Esteban Loiaza? It's far enough into the season that I can recognize that I was totally wrong about the dude. I was against the signing; indeed, thanks a bizarre mis-quotation in the Washington Post, my opposition has been immortalized for the ages. But he's been really good, and still has pretty far to fall before he stops being a quality starter. The lesson to be learned? Don't listen to me. I don't know shit about dick. I'm saying this now before the government makes me plaster it up top.
  • Speaking of Loaiza, he pitched a hell of a game yesterday, and got a well-deserved standing ovation when he left in the 9th. That doesn't mean anything, though, because he also received a standing O at the conclusion of a five inning, four run performance against Pittsburgh on June 30. The Pirates' announcer was laughing at the Nats fans, and he was right to do so. Yes, cheering a valiant but defeated player is better than booing, but look at it this way: when looking at the Nationals' unexpected success, the more esoterically inclined among us have often pointed the fan factor. The Expos played in front of a demoralizing 15 people a game, and the throngs of Nats fans have certainly helped their performance, right? Well, if we accept that idea, it's natural to conclude that if a standing ovation is the reward for even a crappy performance, the team will lose the incentive to excel. Just like communism.
  • Jose Vidro's back! I barely remember the last time he played. The only thing I can recall is Needham bitching (rightly) about his range. Here's the thing about Vidro: he's already a very old man, in baseball terms. He can't run, he can't field, but he can still hit. That wouldn't be so bad, except that he's signed through 2008 for good money, and by then he has a good chance to be 2005-vintage Carlos Baerga. Trade him! There is allegedly interest in Bret Boone, and Bodes needs to get on the phone with anyone who's considering that. And not just to laugh at them.
  • Speaking of Bodes, his silly ass is reported to be heartily pursuing Preston Wilson, who can't hit and is about to be a free agent. Wilson wouldn't be an improvement if we got him for free, so why the hell would Bowden want to trade for him? Why does Bowden hate Ryan Church and, by extension, America?