Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
So I've already moved on. Where does this leave the Nats? Well, we need pitching. Right now, we're looking at ¡Livan!/John Patterson/Brian Lawrence/Ryan Drese/Jon Rauch, and that's damn shaky. ¡Livan!'s indestructible, and Lawrence should be fine. Drese and Rauch, however, are coming off injuries, and Rauch has never demonstrated an ability to stay healthy. Patterson's 2005 saw him pitch far more innings that he ever had in a year (198 versus 140 in 2003), and that's enough to worry me. We need depth -- someone's going to get hurt, and there's no reason to think Hector Carrasco can bail us out again if he's even still around. Our non-Esteban alternatives have been investigated by Capitol Punishment, Capitol Punishment, and Banks . . . Anacostia (no way I'm typing that out every time). I'm a Kenny Rogers man myself, and my advocacy is serious, not just a reason to cast Elliot Gould as Needham. The real issue, of course, is can we afford any of these jockjaws?
And that's why I'm really worried. The Nats had offered $4 million a year to Loaiza, an offer which, if Esteban has any pride, no doubt earned Nationals management a hearty string of Spanish swears. His departure frees up at least that much, and my first reaction when I puzzled this out was "Sweet! We can keep Wilkerson or sign Paul Byrd or something!" Then I realized who's in charge and started swearing in Spanish. Jim Bowden isn't a guy I trust with money. Among his other attributes, Bodes is known for his yearning for former Reds and mediocre outfielders and for his willingness to force his manager to scrape by with three starters. Esteban Loaiza's generous new contract could well set off a chain of events that results in the long-delayed beginning of the Juan Encarnarcion Era.
Boswell has chimed in on the situation.
So, the Nats can sign anybody they want. As long as he's lying in the remainders bin or the damaged-goods box. That's where GM Jim Bowden found Loaiza and Jose Guillen last year. He signed them late and cheap because nobody else wanted them much. But can lightning strike again?The Nats traded for Jose Guillen, dumbass, they did not sign him "late and cheap." I'm sure Boz is just guessing as to how Guillen got here. It's tough to figure out when you think Juan Rivera's still around.
Monday, November 28, 2005
One of the most unpleasant stories this offseason has been the burial and probable disposal of Brad Wilkerson, a good player and a good guy (as far as I know) who's been unfairly nailed on the official site whenever Bill Ladson stops Googling himself long enough to file a story. But things might not be as bad as my natural pessimism and low opinion of Jim Bowden have made them look. George Solomon quotes Bowden:
We need another starting pitcher and to upgrade the center field position so we can play Brad Wilkerson elsewhere.So I feel a little better, but only a little. I take some comfort in the fact that back in January, I was positive that Nick Johnson was on his way out.
I'm not one of those blogger triumphalists. I have delusions of replacing the mainstream sports media or even the vaguest desire to. Barry Svrluga is a better reporter than I could ever hope to be, and I couldn't dream of emulating Tom Boswell's schmaltzy sentimentality and willfull homer blindness. I'm funnier than Thom Loverro, but he writes for the Times, which barely counts -- I'm not comparing myself to writers from the Prince George's County Gazette or the Washington Blade, and the Times is sort of on the bubble. It does bother me, though, when a major metropolitan newspaper employs someone whose job could done far better by just about any blogger -- indeed, by any person at all. This is a roundabout way of bitching about Mike Wise's latest column in the Post. Nate over at the Triple Play is all over it and implies that we're supposed to have already realized we hate this guy. I'm not saying he's wrong, it's just that I don't remember anything else Wise has said. I'll skip over the really offensive bits and underline this, reminding you that the man is being paid by a widely respected media outlet for this opinion.
The point is, it's getting late in the game. It's time to pick someone in this race, and I don't care what Selig is thinking. I'm going with Smulyan in the hopes he can bring in a rock star like Theo to lure some rock-star players.Honestly, the worst blogger in the world couldn't help but do better than that.
Above: Sandfrog featuring rock-star player Scott Spiezio (center)
As long as I'm discussing the Nature and Purpose of Blogging, I'll mention this. For the longest time, there was only one thing I could be proud of in my blogging career: the results of this Google search. That's all changed now that Washingtonienne hates me. And just in case her desperate searches for people being mean to her on teh internet bring her here, allow me to state for the record: no, dear, I'm not Dayn Perry. But you should hate him too.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Monday, November 21, 2005
Sunday, November 20, 2005
That's not to say it was incorrect. You want a guy who can hit for average and not play defense? Rick Short is right there working for the Major League Baseball equivalent of free. Say what you will about Marlon Anderson's pinch-hitting effectiveness or his amazing ability to stand at any one of four different positions with a glove on one of his hands, he is simply not the kind of baseball player to whom you guarantee employment. The Mets didn't do it in 2005, the Cardinals didn't do it before that, and those teams have a lot more payroll flexibility than we do. Hell, the Nats didn't even do it last year with Carlos Baerga, last year's Marlon Anderson. It's like pudding. Everybody likes pudding, right? Our lives would be grimmer without it. But no one's paying 500 bucks for a Snack Pack.
The Atlanta Braves are an operation worth imitating, and the Nationals appear to be aware of this. However, instead of emulating the Braves' hugely effective scouting, their tradition of having a competent and interested manager, or even their refreshingly un-Fox-like TV broadcasts, the Nats have adopted a less pleasing Braves custom: dressing up like a damn signal flare once a week.
Just in time for Christmas, suckers!
And now it's time for me to do my duty as an upstanding citizen of Natsylvania. We have been instructed to humiliate Bud Selig with a Google-bomb, which is one of those things you can do on the internet and is almost impossible to explain to your parents. I'll let Rocket explain. So here we go: National Disgrace. And now that's out of the way, I'm going into business for myself: Charlatan. Pervert. Jon Rauch. Condescending Schismatic. Professor Bacon. Buffoon. I Love Derek Jeter. Asshole. Not Worth Forty Dollars. Buzz Machine. America's Sweetheart. Dutch. Dutch. Dutch.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Free agent Marlon Anderson agreed to a $1.85 million, two-year deal with the Washington Nationals on Friday.Remember when Vidro was out and we brought in Junior Spivey, who did nothing and then got hurt? Anderson makes Spivey look like Frankie Fucking Frisch, the Fucking Fordham Flash.
Marlon Anderson can't hit (career .265/.314/.385) and he can't field. He's a spare part for a spare part and exactly the kind of guy you're not supposed give two guaranteed years. Remember Moneyball? Billy Beane's success isn't just because of fancy SABR stats and slapping Milos on people and microchips and stuff, it's because he doesn't do silly shit like this. Anderson can't play and doesn't fill a need. We have Brendan Harris, who I foolishly thought was going to get a chance this year. We have loveable Jamey Carroll. We have Damian Jackson and Rick Short. What the hell can Marlon Anderson do that these guys can't? You can stick him in the outfield, as the Cardinals did when he got beat out for the second base job by Tony Womack in '04, but why would you? Well, I suppose a two-year contract will answer that question to Frank's satisfaction. You dumb fucker.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Brad Wilkerson seems like a good guy, and I want him to be with people who love him. Since the management of Nationals is completely focused on the one goddamn thing he can't do (not strike out), maybe it would be better for him to seek his fortune in Seattle. At least they want him -- check out this perhaps too enthusiastic scouting report. Author Dr. D makes the important point that Wilkerson's 2005 is less indicative of his actual ability than are the years preceding it. You know that, and I know that, but it can't hurt to harp on it, since you never know when Bill Ladson's going to Google himself and maybe learn something new.
But check the young Brian Giles, up until he exploded - perfect comp. As Shandler indicates, Wilkerson has an outside chance to explode like Giles did.See that, Bodes? That's not a prediction, it's a fucking prophecy. If you trade Wilkerson, he will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
Milton Bradley doesn't seem like such a good guy, but he's available and sparking discussion and even a new addition to the Natlantic Natmospheric Natscape. Longtime Nats scenester JammingEcono has started By the Banks of the Mighty Anacostia and devotes his first real post to Bradley. He (JammingEcono) likes him (Bradley), especially compared to the apple of Jim Bowden's eye, Juan Encarnacion. Harper over at OMGWTFLOL, meanwhile, thinks having one batshit crazy outfielder means we may as well add another.
Having considered the issue and consulted at length with Professor Bacon, I declare myself anti-Bradley. He's not an appreciably better hitter than Wilkerson or Jose Guillen. While both Win Shares and Baseball Prospectus agree that he's a really good centerfielder, his grisly injury history makes him likely to decline or simply not play. Then there are the behavior problems -- whatever his performance on the field, his eagerness to slam down the race card and yell "Uno!" has to count against him. I'd rather have Bradley than Encarnacion -- he's a better player, and I just want Bowden to be sad -- but I don't think either one is an improvement over the outfield we have now.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I want to focus on the ass-end of the article. Dig:
The Nationals are serious about getting better in the outfield and they have turned their focus to free agent Juan Encarnacion, who played for the Marlins this past season. The Nationals previously tried to acquire Encarnacion before landing Preston Wilson this past July.
Encarnacion hit .287 with 16 home runs and 76 RBIs for the Marlins in 2005. He played for general manager Jim Bowden when both were with the Reds in 2002.
Encarnacion just isn't very good, and the durability of Jim Bowden's obsession with him allows me merely to point to a months-old critique rather than do any thinking. But could Juan fit a need peculiar to this team? Earlier in the offseason in the Examiner, Bowden laid out the eight things we need to fix the Nationals this winter. Let's go through them and see if Juan fits the bill.
- 1. Starting pitcher. Nope.
- 2. Another starting pitcher. Another nope.
- 3. Left-handed reliever. Nuh-uh.
- 4. Center fielder, preferably Gold Glove-caliber. We already have three center fielders, Bodes. They may not win Gold Gloves, but you rightly traded away the one who was good enough to win one. Anyway, nope.
- 5. A big RBI bat. There is no such thing, and if there were, it wouldn't be coming with Encarnacion. Single season high for Juan? 94.
- 6. Leadoff hitter. He doesn't get on base or steal much and back in June was being sold as an RBI guy, so no.
- 7. Improved bench. Hmm. Getting Encarnacion would push Ryan Church to the bench, assuming we don't get rid of anyone else. So I guess he would help here.
- 8. Backup catcher. This is possible. I mean, who knew Hector Carrasco could start? Or that I could put on a magic show?
Monday, November 14, 2005
There is a part of me that's happy when Bowden makes a boneheaded trade or Frank alienates another player. I like writing about that stuff. I get to fling my invective and call Boswell a homer and just generally feel better about myself. This ownership situation, however, offers no such enjoyment. There are degrees of bullshit, and as bummed as I was when Tomo Ohka was traded, another lost offseason is too depressing to dwell on. I've resigned myself to the worst: no owner, no Theo Epstein, Randy St. Claire gets a job with the Mets or something, and Bodes exerts his interim authority by getting rid of Brad Wilkerson and handing Frank a five year contract. I liked it better when we could call Peter Angelos a bastard and get on with our lives.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
And now, to honor the other Manager of the Year winner, four rad things about Ozzie Guillen:
- He hires people to murder chickens for good luck -- just like Pedro Cerrano!
- When getting Bobby Jenks out of the bullpen, he makes the universal arm gesture for "big fat guy."
- He's willing to lively up a dull day with a swear- and threat-laced rant. Watch out, Magglio Ordonez, you made yourself a big enemy!
"He's a piece of [bleep]," Guillen said. "He's another Venezuelan [bleep]. [Bleep] him. He thinks he's got an enemy? No, he's got a big one. He knows I can [bleep] him over in a lot of different ways.
"He better shut the [bleep] up and just play for the Detroit Tigers. Why do I have to go over and even apologize to him? Who the [bleep] is Magglio Ordonez? What did he ever do for me? He didn't do [bleep] for me. But he said I'm his enemy -- he knows me. Tell him he knows me, and he can take it how he wants to take it.
"Did he play good for me? Yes, he did. Did he play hard for me? Yes, he did. He might like me. He might be sensitive of me. He might be jealous of me, I don't know why. But saying I'm his enemy, he hates me, I could care less what that [bleep] thinks. I don't give a [bleep] what he does with the rest of his life. He [bleep] with the wrong guy, and he knows that, too. He knows for a fact that he [bleep] with the wrong people.''
- But beneath the pissed-off, barely intelligible exterior, he's all about the love.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Hector Carrasco got me to thinking about the coaching staff, just as he once made me think about my improbably successful magic show in the old barn. Bodes recently told the coaches that it would be wise to get while the getting's good, and set a fine example of what he expects them to do by pursuing a better job. Near as I can tell, the staff consists of Frank Robinson's lackeys, and it's no skin off my ass to see them leave. Except, of course, for pitching coach Randy St. Claire. St. Claire has been lauded previously here and elsewhere for turning ¡Livan! into an actually good pitcher by changing his arm angle -- the Rob Neyer article that described the process is now behind the subscription wall, but here it is in French and here it is Babelfished back into English. And now we have Carrasco chiming in with this:
Carrasco reiterated on Tuesday that he wants to stay with the Nationals because they were the team that gave him his first chance to pitch in important games. He also made it clear that he wants pitching coach Randy St. Claire to return to the team. St. Claire, whose contract expired on Oct. 31, taught Carrasco to throw a deadly changeup.
"I hope the negotiations work out because I want to go back to Washington," Carrasco said. "I want St. Claire there. I owe him a lot. He taught me everything."
For the most part, I don't think outsiders can gauge value of coaches with any accuracy -- there's simply too much statistical noise to sort through. But here we have a coach who took two mediocre or worse talents, made adjustments, and transformed them into extremely valuable (and helpfully underpaid) assets. Losing Randy St. Claire on account of the lack of ownership would be a greater tragedy than missing out on this year's free agent class.
Bartolo Colon won the Cy Young Award, and I have nothing to say about it except that I completely disagree with Harper. I believe this is the first time this has happened. The important part of this result is that I have finally had a question answered. For years I had wondered what it would look like if Andre the Giant and Robert Smith had a child who grew up and went to a party with a bunch of Dominicans. Now I know; it would look like this:
I think the guy over Bart's right shoulder has had enough
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Washington Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden is scheduled to meet with the Boston Red Sox to discuss their vacant general manager's position either tomorrow or Thursday, the Boston Globe and Boston Herald reported from the GM meetings in Indian Wells, Calif., for today's editions.Looks like someone in Boston's been reading Curly W! Since the idea of swapping general managers with the Red Sox gives the kind of all-over jingly tingles I usually get from heartwarming pictures of Japanese pro wrestlers getting ready to go fishing with their daughters, I'm going to do whatever I can to convince the Sox that this is a good idea.
Lawrence "Lucky" Lucchino, President
Boston Red Sox
4 Yawkey Way
Boston, MA 02215
Dear Mr. Lucchino,
Jim Bowden is a hella rad general manager. He appreciates the value of veteran leadership and knows what a franchise shortstop looks like (chubby). He dresses for success and hardly ever makes inappropriate analogies to terrorist atrocities anymore. In fact, if you take Bodes (that's what he likes to be called) away from us and we're forced to replace him with some snot-nosed intern boy, it would mean the death of the promising Washington Nationals, so please don't. I beg you -- don't offer him a raise and a cloth of gold track suit and all the toolsy outfielders he can stand and deprive our nation's capital of its young monument to baseball genius. And please don't throw me in that briar patch, Mr. Lucchino!
Thursday, November 03, 2005
The Washington Nationals last night discarded one of the most celebrated additions from last offseason, third baseman Vinny Castilla, and all but certainly thrust rookie Ryan Zimmerman into the Opening Day lineup for 2006 when they traded Castilla to the San Diego Padres for right-hander Brian Lawrence.This is a breathtakingly good deal. Here's why:
- We are rid of Vinny Castilla, who wasn't good enough to start in front of Dutch Zimmerman or versatile enough to do anything but play third.
- We have added a solid, innings-eating starter. Brian Lawrence isn't really "good" (I called him "the very embodiment of mediocrity" back in January), but he's exactly what we need and costs us nothing. If Esteban Loaiza were to sign elsewhere, the presence of Lawrence would take a lot of the sting off the loss.
Bowden said the move to trade Castilla and essentially put Zimmerman in the starting lineup was made easier by the performance of infielder Brendan Harris in the Arizona Fall League. Harris, who briefly appeared with the Nationals over the summer, is leading the league with a .397 average, and he could prove a useful insurance should Zimmerman struggle, Bowden said." Finally, Bodes seems to realize what he has in Harris. With Zimmerman and Jose Vidro around, he shouldn't be starting, but it's a very good thing to have insurance for, respectively, a rookie and an injury-prone vet.
Do you believe that if Brad Wilkerson played only one position, his concentration and hitting would improve? -- David E., Owensboro, Ky.
I don't buy that theory. The only way Wilkerson becomes a better hitter is by learning the strike zone and cutting down on the strikeouts, which killed many rallies for the Nationals this past season.
In terms of his defense, some in the organization felt that Wilkerson made a lot of fundamental mistakes. I don't think that had anything to do with Wilkerson playing more than one position.
Look, I really don't want to be the guy that quotes Bill James all the time, but this is a classic example of a team focusing on what a player can't do rather than what he can. Bitching about Wilkerson's strikeouts is only slightly more relevant than bitching about his acting ability. Working on the assumption that Ladson is the Nationals front office equivalent of Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf (except not as funny), this is an indication that our interim GM is planning to get rid of Wilkerson, something he occasionally tried to do before the season.
It is at this point that I have to give up my short-lived "Yay Everything!" gimmick and throw it on the dustheap of history along with Gunnar Peterson and the inscrutable, poorly-translated Japanese media because I can't go along with this. That's not to say there aren't good reasons to trade Wilkerson. He probably won't age well, and it won't be long until he gets rather expensive. He played most of 2005 with a debilitating arm injury that turned him into a banjo hitter. I gave my endorsement to a rumored Wilkerson for Vernon Wells deal, but the noises coming from the trailer out back of RFK don't give me confidence that this is being done for the right reasons or in the right way.
And don't let a down season or this "too many strikeouts" nonsense fool you: Wilkerson is a hugely valuable player. He plays four positions, and he's not embarrassing at any of them. He hits homers, he's a doubles machine, and his patience makes up for his low batting average. He hits lefty and righty pitchers with equal ease. When healthy, he's almost certainly our best all-around player, and his treatment by this team has been disgusting. As Needham (who's once again the Simpsons to my South Park, especially taking swears into consideration) points out, Wilkerson was jerked all over the place -- he prepared himself to play left but wound up in center. Add to this the intimations that Frank defended Jose Guillen against the rest of the clubhouse (we know Guillen and Wilk had problems) and the current smear campaign against B-Wilk, and it would be hard to blame him for wanting the hell out of here.
By now you've heard that outfield Matt Lawton has been suspended for using teh roids, and I'm sure many of you responded with a quizzical look and maybe that noise Scooby Doo makes when he's confused. Those of who had been listening to Will Carroll were doubly confused. Will was interviewed on Sports Bloggers Live on October 27, and he coquettishly teased us with the following:
SBL: "Is this a name we're actually going to care about?"
Will almost immediately started backing off, studiously avoiding any admission of being full of it (again).
I don't know a name but have heard rumors, much as many journalists have."I'm a journalist!" is fast becoming Will's catchphrase. Note that now he's claiming he didn't know who it was, but was acting like he did anyway.
Superb! Once it turned out to be a name almost no one cares about, Will gave us this.
BM: When asked, "Is this a name we're actually going to care about?" by Jamie Monttram, you answered yes. Why do we care about this player?WC: I think as baseball fans, we should care about any athlete.
"Gimme a Break!" That was the title of an email I recieved from a friend, someone I respect, someone who you probably read. On the heels of the Matt Lawton suspension, his comment was "So that was the guy we cared about???"
My response, I think, is worth sharing widely: "All-star OF who played on a playoff team? What do you want? Do we all only care about gotchas and the next Palmeiro? Will we need ever increasing names or do we just want to headhunt Bonds until he admits he's the anti-christ, shot Kennedy, and impregnated our daughters with his steroid-ridden seed?
"Really, what player SHOULDNT we care about and if I say, on national radio, "No, we shouldnt care" what does that say about me?"
First off, Will just can't help being coy: "someone who you probably read." Oh Will, you're such an insider! More to the point, he's completely full of shit. He knows the rumors that have been floating around -- hell, he's responsible for some of them. Gary Sheffield, Johnny Damon, Roger Clemens, etc. So when the question "is it someone we care about" is posed, it's completely obvious to anyone what is meant. In case you've ever wondered why Will is frequently described as a "charlatan," now you know.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Above: Grandpa Ray chats with my infant uncle Lenny. Backdrop: the logo of the cat rendering facility that never was.
It could well be that Carrasco will be a good swingman next year, or maybe even a full-time starter. The problem is that everyone knows that possibility exists, and that's going to drive up his price. I like spending money on a sure thing, and this is anything but. How many 35 year old journeymen relievers have turned into effective starters? I love a rags to riches story as much as anyone, but I don't want to bankroll this one. I say take the money Carrasco wants and give it to Esteban Loaiza, who is at least a for-sure starter. Better yet, take Carrasco and Loaiza money and give it to Kenny Rogers, who's actually good and brings with him the intriguing possibility of someone getting his ass kicked.