Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lenny Harris for the Hall

David Ortiz says he's going to retire in about a year, so in the spirit of putting up Christmas decorations on November 1, it's time for Hall of Fame arguments.

I don't know if Ortiz should be in the Hall. Craig Calcaterra thinks he should be. He may well be right, but in mounting his argument he strung together some impressively illogical blithering about whether all of Ortiz' designated hittering should factor into it. I quote the entirety of the "The Designated Hitter Factor" section of his piece (except for the end).
He has played a mere 277 of his 2,257 career games in the field, spending the rest of his time as a designated hitter. 
The notion, however, that just because one has zero defensive value means one has no Hall of Fame case is silly.
No one is arguing that, right? Well, I'm sure you could find someone who refuses to consider DHs for the Hall, but this is certainly not engaging the real argument.

Baseball players' offensive output is graded on a curve. 300 home runs from a catcher means more than it does from a first baseman, right? Then it follows that those same dingers from a DH mean even less.
The DH has been part of the game for 43 seasons. It is not some novelty anymore.
OK. So? This is not an argument.
Relief pitchers are routinely inducted to the Hall of Fame now and they are specialists too. Many — specifically, one-inning closers — are the sorts of specialists that have only existed since the 1980s, really. If no one knocks them for not being all-around players no one should knock the DH.
Things that are different are different. Is this an argument that people should like the DH, or an argument that being a DH should have no bearing on a player's candidacy? Either way is dumb.
And the fact is that, with the possible exception of Edgar Martinez — who should be in the Hall of Fame in my view — David Ortiz has been the greatest (mostly) full-time DH in baseball history.
This is begging the question - "Ortiz is the best at something, so he's a HOFer." Being the best thing something - anything - is not a criterion for election. Being the best hitter or pitcher gets you in, sure. But it doesn't work for the best pinch hitter or defensive first baseman or third base coach.
It’s also the case that Paul Molitor and Frank Thomas would not likely have lasted long enough or produced enough as players to make the Hall of Fame without the aid of the DH as well.
Then it seems like the voters have already managed to factor designated hitting into Hall of Fame candidacies, huh?

What I suppose Calcaterra is doing is arguing against the ideological anti-DH case for keeping Ortiz out of the Hall. In doing so, he ignores more reasonable arguments, which I guess makes it a lot easier for him.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Six Year Itch

The theme of the Nationals' 2015 is nostalgia. The team celebrated the tenth anniversary of its arrival by embarrassing the hell out of us like it was 2009 all over again.

Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer ensure that we're no longer humiliated by every Nats headline, as was the case six years ago, but the ratio is nevertheless unfortunate, and it got worse as the year wore on.

Or rather, it's getting worse as the year wears on - our embarrassments didn't end on October 4, which prompted the Sports Bog to compile the Nats' ten most embarrassing moments.

The Natinals jerseys screwup is the funniest one. Papelbon choking Harper checks in at #1, but I'd put Smiley Gonzalez there. Lots of teams have public disagreements in the dugout; I think we're the only one that's lost a GM because the FBI was coming after him.

Rob Dibble's on there, but Tom Paciorek was worse. Dibble was kind of fun.
"Rob Dibble here reminding you to bring a lunch!"
A couple of my favorites didn't make the list. Remember when the Nats were ordered by the DC Fire Chief to stop setting off fireworks because some hot explosives landed on a guy?

And that guy was in fact the D.C. Fire Chief? 2009 really was a hell of a year.

That same year saw Washington Post Nats beat writer "Chico" Harlan throw an hilarious little prissfit about how he was too good for his job.

I wonder why the Sports Bog didn't mention that one.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Penny Wise

This managerial situation is amazing. The Lerners seem not to realize that talented people expect to be paid for their services, and thus have embarrassed the hell out of us all once again. I would agree to manage the Nats on a one year, $1.6 million contract. The problem is that no one who should be managing would accept that.

It has probably worked out for the best. Managerial performance is even harder to predict than it is analyze, but we may well be better off with Dusty Baker. With the exception of headline writers, of course, for whom being teased with Bud Black must have been very trying.

Even if everything's OK this time, you have wonder to what extent the Lerners' parsimony and lack of appreciation for the manager role has held this team back. They have never paid top dollar for a manager, relying on people either too new or too old to command big salaries.

Like Matt Williams.

Let's say, hypothetically, the Nats were the team that poached Joe Maddon away from the Rays. Williams gets the Rick Renteria treatment.  With Maddon installed and the Lerners millions of dollars poorer, things would have played out quite differently. Would Jayson Werth have spent his season undercutting the manger? Would one of the closers have sulked himself into uselessness? Would the other closer have tried to strangle the Bryce Harper?

Probably not, but that's why Joe Maddon costs five million dollars.

"Hey now, fellas. No choking in the dugout."