Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Monday, February 21, 2005

Passenger 5.70

I've mentioned once or twice that the Expos didn't hit last year and the Nationals won't hit this year. The Post agrees with me.
They couldn't get on base regularly. Too often, they stranded the runners that did reach. They ranked among the three worst teams in the National League in nearly every major offensive category, from batting average to slugging percentage to on-base percentage to runs batted in. Last season, when they played as the Montreal Expos, the Washington Nationals simply couldn't score.
LIVAN! should have won 40 or so games. The rest of these jockjaws didn't pull their weight.
When spring training games begin March 2, Robinson will have a few more options with the lineup than he did in 2004. The Nationals signed third baseman Vinny Castilla and traded for right fielder Jose Guillen, who combined to drive in 235 runs last season.
You can't see me right now, but my eyes are rolling out of control. Yeah, Vinny led the NL in RBIs. He was playing in Colorado and on the same team as Todd Helton. I don't think that's a coincidence. Hey, Tony Batista had 110 last year - I guess he's worth every bit of the $15 million the Fukuoka Hawks are paying him.
[Inning-Endy] Chavez, 27, was the Expos' regular center fielder for much of the 2004 season, and Robinson and others badly want him to develop into the leadoff hitter. But he won't earn that job unless he can improve his woeful on-base percentage, which was .318 last year, including an abysmal .291 from the top spot. In 533 plate appearances, he walked just 30 times.
I like the OBP talk. Almost makes up for the RBI crap. We've heard management say things like this for a while now, but they always say things like, "Inning-Endy needs to get on base more or bunt or steal more." It's a good sign that this article has OBP and ignores the other stuff. But does that come from Frank or Post beat reporter Barry Svrluga?
"He has to enjoy creating havoc," hitting coach Tom McCraw said. "You got to keep that third baseman on his toes and nervous and keep the [opposing] manager nervous. When the pitcher starts hollering at you and calling you names, then you're doing a hell of a job. But you have to enjoy that. He hasn't gotten there yet."
Never mind. That sounds like bunting and stealing to me. Endy's a decent base stealer (or at least he was last year), but larceny is the gravy on the (disgusting) getting-on-base cake.
When McCraw looks down the roster, he said he would accept "normal, 8-10 percent improvement" from most of the members. [Nick] Johnson is different.
That's entirely reasonable. There seems to be an idea that the Nats are a young team, but this isn't really so. Just looking at our potential starters, Castilla, Vidro, and Guillen are probably past their primes. Wilkerson, Sledge, Schneider, and Chavez are right there, and Guzman and Johnson still have time to develop. That 8-10 percent improvement is something that happens to players under 30, and we have a number of guys who could do it. Johnson is the only guy in the lineup, though, from whom we can reasonably expect a major jump, and the only guy likely to post a .400 OBP. Combine that with the fact that we'll be lucky to have two guys with a .500 slugging percentage and that we're carrying at least two near-worthless hitters in the lineup, and it's not a stretch to see the Nats 16th out of 16 in scoring.

Nationals Inquirer has an exhaustive look at Esteban Loaiza and his comparables. Maybe I'm imagining this, but every time you read about Esteban (Spanish for "Esteven") in the papers, the question is "will he be rad 2003 Esteven or lousy 2004 Esteven?" I think the rest of his career should factor in to this, so I present a study of Loaiza's career for the layman:
1995: Crap
1996: Crap
1997: Eh
1998: Crap
1999: Eh
2000: Not bad
2001: Eh
2002: Crap
2003: WOW!
2004: Crap

I'm not a fortune teller or a brilliant prognosticator, but I wouldn't lay any money on WOW!. It's like Wesley Snipes almost said in Die Hard on an Airplane with a Black Guy: Always bet on crap.


Ryan said...

Just lucky, really. I wrote the whole thing and then decided to go with "Passenger [ERA]" as the title. It just happened to work out. Something like that reminds you why you put on the futuristic blogging jumpsuit.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand Chavez in the leadoff spot - last year he hit .265 from the #1 position. Actually, he would not even be in my starting line-up. I would keep Wilkerson in Center and Sledge in Left. If/when Johnson does not respond, the Nats can move Wilkerson to First and give Chavez a chance in Center. Guzman can lead off. He may not have the base stealing experience but he can go from first to third on any single.