Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Baseball Blog - It's Mighty Casey's Turn

Casey at the Bat
A poem by Ernest Thayer (from baseball-almanac.com)

"The Outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
We'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat."

Those are the first five stanzas of "Casey at the Bat", a poem by Ernest Thayer that is many, many, many years old and known, at least as far as the ending is concerned, by many more baseball fans.

What recently became known to many of those baseball fans is that the Nats were last night able to sign Steven Strasburg, a college pitcher who seems to be almost as legendary as Mighty Casey himself.

The tales of Strasburg's baseball exploits while he was in college range from a fastball that clocks in around 100 mph that he throws with good control to a strikeout rate of nearly 2 per inning, an almost unreal number matched only by someone playing as an ace major league pitcher in a video game on the easiest difficulty (and even then, it can be pretty difficult).

The problem facing Strasburg and the Nats is that there is a really low success rate for pitchers (or any players) taken anywhere in the draft. According to espn.com, every single pitcher taken with the first pick in the draft, where Strasburg was taken earlier this summer, has been essentially a bust when it comes to actually playing at the major league level.

To make matters worse, the Nats signed Strasburg at the cost of $15 million, the largest contract for an amateur baseball player ever. At that cost, there is going to be a ton of pressure on him to succeed, or else be certified "The Biggest Draft-Pick Bust Ever" by baseball folks for years to come.

So at this juncture, you are probably thinking that this is all well and good, but wondering where the poem I put in above comes in to play.

Well I assure you it has a point.

Strasburg's being drafted by the weak-spending Nats was something Nats fans were doubting would happen, much like the people of Mudville in the poem doubted that the weak-hitting Flynn would deliver in the clutch.

Then, once Strasburg was signed, Nats fans doubted a deal would happen because the much-hated super-agent, Scott Boras, was negotiating on his behalf and was rumored to be demanding an unbelievable $50 million for his wonder-client. This one sounds an awful lot like the much despised Jimmy Blake, who Mudville fans also had little faith in.

However, much to the Washington and Mudville fanbases surprise, both of those elements came through in the clutch, leaving Mudville with Mighty Casey and the Nats with Strasburg to be their saviors.

Now it is up to Strasburg to save the worst franchise in baseball just as it was up to Mighty Casey to save Mudville that day.

As baseball fans familiar with the poem know, Mighty Casey ultimately didn't deliver and Mudville lost that day.

Time will tell if Strasburg will share Mighty Casey's fate.

I'm hoping he won't, but I'm also a pessimist, hence the comparison.

What do you think will happen?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Short Movie Blog - Five Things You Should Know Before You Watch The Watchmen

Last night, I went to the midnight showing for "The Watchmen" and I walked away very impressed with the job director Zach Snyder did with bringing the "unfilmable" comic book story to life, but I do have some suggestions for people who intend to go see it just so they know what they are in for.

The first thing you ought to know about Watchmen is the graphic novel. No, seriously. Read it. I can't stress this enough. The film does not spend a whole lot of time building familiarity with the characters or the atmosphere so you will feel much more connected to the movie if you are familiar with the characters in it. For this I whole-heartedly suggest you go read the graphic novel, or for those of you dead-set on seeing it tonight, getting a very abridged version through several bits of background teasers at the very least online. Without any background information, you will find yourself in a long movie (more on that later) that moves slowly (more on this as well) so please heed my advice and don't ruin a great story by going to see the movie unprepared.

The second thing you ought to know about Watchmen is that it is absolutely NOT for the kiddies and it takes the "R" rating to the fullest here. Blood, sex, and violence can be found in copious amounts here so be very mindful to not bring impressionable young minds to the theaters unless you are absolutely certain that they will not need therapy afterwards. Seriously people. We are talking severed limbs, a very naked blue man, and a few action sequences that involve bones breaking through skin. Not one for the kids. Not even close.

The third thing you ought to know about Watchmen is that, contrary to the ad campaign, the story moves along slowly, but surely. For those who read the graphic novel, you will feel right at home because it unfolds very similarly, but for those of you who haven't (READ THE FIRST POINT AGAIN), this movie will feel like it is 4 hours long and you have scratched your head through most of it. Now, it is not actually that long (it clocks in at just under 3 hours), but it will feel that way so be prepared. It is not the Dark Knight. You will not be on the edge of your seat for the entirety, or even the great majority of it. Think of it as "The Godfather" as far as pacing is concerned.

The fourth thing you ought to know is that there is a high level of paranoia that is meant to be felt in this film that isn't built up because it assumes that you know all about it. The graphic novel has a subplot in it that builds the tension of the Cold War circa an alternate 1985 that isn't found in the film, but will be touched on when the DVD is released. The film touches on this paranoia a little bit, but it just doesn't reach the level that it does in the graphic novel without the right anticipation. Again, READ THE GRAPHIC NOVEL.

The fifth and final thing you out to know about Watchmen is THE GRAPHIC NOVEL. I seriously cannot stress this enough. It is the only graphic novel on Time's Top 100 novels of all time and it very much deserves the praise. I read it last semester and I cannot say enough about how great it was. Every character is brilliantly touched on. Every bit of background in the story is fully explained. There is so much detail and depth to the graphic novel that just will not be found in the film unless you are already aware of it. Do yourself a favor. Don't ruin a great story for yourself. Read the graphic novel first. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Nats Blog - Getting Back Up To Speed

So over the weekend while snow pummeled the Washington D.C. area, the Nats took no notice and proceeded to make big baseball news. Sunday saw a personal dream come true for me as Jim Bowden "stepped down" from his Vice President and General Manager positions atop the Nationals organization, but rather than go gracefully with his head percieved to be held high, he instead thought it better to subject himself to being kicked repeatedly on his way out (not that it wouldn't have happened anyway, seeing as the majority of Nats fans/bloggers that I have come across are not too supportive of JimBo) by blaming the media for his need of an exit.

First of all, I'm not too sure that Jimmie-B decided to step down so much as many people in the organization pressured him to do so. There had been a few rumors that I linked to in some previous posts that the Nationals were considering replacing Bowden with Tony LaCava from the Toronto Blue Jays organization and though the Nationals had denied doing so, those rumors still have not gone away. If an organization is already considering your replacement days before you submit your letter of resignation, I'm inclined to belive they had a hand in pushing you out the door if only for the simple reason that it seems that they had prior knowledge of your departure from the position.

Second of all, though Jim leaving is certainly big news and his shot at the media wasn't exactly classy, he's not the biggest news article or item of speculation for me. That distinction belongs to his replacement.

Despite the rumors of an interest in bringing LaCava in to be the new GM, the prevailing notion in the media has always been that Assistant GM Mike Rizzo would be named to the position in the interim should Bowden be ousted. However, the Nats took an interesting course of action that caught me and most of the bloggers in the Natosphere by surprise.

Nationals President Stan Kasten annexed the title and duties of the GM for a very brief (we are talking a day, tops) time before giving the majority of those duties over to Rizzo (and here's the interesting part) without giving the title over to him officially, not even in the interim. Basically, this means that Rizzo is the GM without actually being the GM.

It is a very intriguing move to me because, though it initially doesn't make sense, it is actually quite an interesting way of testing Rizzo's GM merit without letting him get too big to hold on to if he isn't the right guy.

You see, and mind you this is all speculation, if they promote Rizzo to interim GM, but he doesn't have a knack for the job, the likelihood of him returning to the team in a smaller role, like his Assistant GM title, is not that great. However, by keeping him in the Assistant GM role for "the foreseeable future" while giving him the majority of the responsibilities belonging to a GM, they keep him in a position where they can still hire someone (like LaCava) from outside to be the GM full time if things don't work out for whatever reason without losing his incredible expertise for scouting talent (see Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, Dan Uggla, Brandon Webb, and Jordan Zimmermann) to another team.

I may not do it often enough, but I am definitely singing Stan Kasten's praises on this one. He's allowing the Nationals to get the very best replacement for Jim Bowden that they can with as little harm done to the organization as humanly possible.

After all, hasn't Jim done enough harm?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Short Football Blog - Haynesworth Worth The Money?

I'm taking a small break from Nats blogging today to focus on the big news in football camp. DT Albert Haynesworth signed with the Washington Redskins this morning on the first day of NFL Free Agent Signings for a reported 7-years, $100 million with $41 million guaranteed, but is this another classic Redskins over-paying job? My initial reaction was "yes".

Names like Bruce Smith and Jason Taylor immediately jumped to mind when I heard the news, and it shouldn't be surprising. The Redskins have a long history of making these sort of big market, big headline deals that have a tendency to blow up in their faces, especially when you consider that Haynesworth's best years have come in the last two when he was essentially playing for a new contract both years. Now he has his retirement fund paid for courtesy of Dan Snyder and Co., so what am I supposed to think?

Well, rather than dwell on whether or not we overpaid another big free agent, I got to thinking about how we could insure that we get our money's worth from Big Al and I came to a conclusion that Danny Boy might even be in favor of: spend more money! Oh boy, I can hear it now. "Matt! What could you be thinking?!? It is this type of rampant spending that has got the Skins into trouble in past years! How can you possibly be for that?!?" The quick answer is actually pretty simple. I am supporting "responsible" spending, a term not frequently heard of in DC when talking about football. How so? Well, it is pretty simple really. Sign more players that will help this franchise win where they really need it the most.

I'm looking at WR T.J. Houshamagillagorilla (I was never really all that good with names) for starters. He's an elite WR from the Cincinnati Bengals and the only reason we haven't been hearing more about him in the free agent discussions is because Big Al was still on the board. It is no secret that the Skins have struggled terribly at the WR position in recent years, Randle El is average at best and the two WRs we got in last years draft have done jack squat to prove they belong. My advice to the Redskins is land yourself a big gun on the other side of the ball that will open up options and give Big Al something to play for, a shot at a Super Bowl ring.

Real quickly, I got to wrap this up so I can catch my bus.

The Skins now have to sign TJ and then look to the draft to get younger on offensive and defensive lines.

That's the bottom line.

Short Baseball Blog - A New SCREECH?

According to Chico Harlan over at Nationals Journal, Screech, the beloved, overweight, and wobbly Nationals mascot is under going a transformation, though only being a few years old and beloved by most fans for being as overweight and ridiculous as some of the Nationals players those fans came out to the ballpark to see. Now I've heard of cleaning house, but when even your mascot gets the axe, this "Smiley" Gonzalez scandal is getting a little out of hand. I'm kidding of course, but I know the mascot change is interesting in the very least to my girlfriend, who really wanted that beloved creature to serve her a free Papa Johns pizza at a baseball game. Tough luck, babe.

Short Baseball Blog - Bowden On The Way Out?

According to some rumors being passed around the Internets (yeah, I said "Internets"), the Nationals are looking into the possibility of hiring Toronto Blue Jays Assistant General Manager Tony LaCava to replace their often-criticized and currently-under-federal-in
vestigation current General Manager, Jim Bowden. The rumors have been spreading around several blogs that have been collectively nicknamed "The Natosphere." Now normally, I scoff at blogs that aren't on washingtonpost.com, espn.com, or mlb.com, but at least 3 of the blogs that I visited (federalbaseball.com, firejimbowden.blogspot.com, and farmauthority.dcsportsnet.com) are listed on washingtonpost.com's Nationals Report blog and farm authority has even been able to sit down with big name, big league reporters like ESPN's Keith Law to get their information together. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that they could be on to something here. Tony LaCava is very well respected in the industry and has been considered for a couple of recent GM openings in Seattle and Pittsburgh to go along with these rumors. Don't believe the blog hype on Tony's resume? It is all backed up by Baseball Prospectus here. So far the whispers are little more than just that, whispers.

To be fair to the other side of argument, that these are unfounded and untrue rumors, Washington Post writer Chico Harlan recently refuted another rumor that the Nats had contacted MLB Commissioner Bud Selig about allowing them to forgo a rule that requires the Nats interview minority candidates here. The earlier reports that the Nats were making this request did not come from any of the 3 blogs I mentioned earlier, but were mentioned on them with links to the site where the news broke, so there still is a possibility the rumors on the 3 sites above could be accurate, just not about this one.

True or not, if you read my post a few days ago, I am all about running Jim Bowden out of town, so I may just be hopelessly optimistic that the Nats are going to do something about this, but until told otherwise, this is big news to me.

**EDIT: Legitimate (albeit Candaian) newspaper The Star has also acknowledged the rumors on LaCava, which therefore legitimizes the rumors.**

Short Baseball Blog - Welcome Back Spring, Welcome back baseball

I was cruising across the internet today and came across this passage from the Song of Solomon which apparently used to be read over the radio before the first Detroit Tigers Spring Training baseball game of the year, so I thought I would share it with you all.

"For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."

Welcome back, baseball. I missed you.

P.S. - "The voice of the turtle is heard in our land" tonight. Go Terps. Beat Duke.

Another Nats Blog - The Crushing Lows That Follow The Soaring Highs

Well, as you may already be aware, those Nats of mine can't let me remain content with them, not even for one week. If you read my blogs last week (or have even so much as pondered about baseball within a 3 ft radius of me at any point in my life), then you know that the Washington Nationals last week finally managed to make me a happy camper after 3 1/2 years of being a frustrated camper (and nobody likes those guys) by signing Adam "Big Gun" Dunn (I'm trying out nicknames so give it time) to a two year, $20 million contract that seemed to be a first step in the right direction of a team/organization hopefully on the rise. Now to be clear, I wasn't delusionally happy (i.e. expect an immediate World Series title), but more of a "content for now" kind of happy. I believed the move would allow some credibility to make its way back into the DC-area baseball scene and would finally begin pull the Nats out of that cellar known as "The Laughing Stock of Major League Baseball", which is a phrase that seems to follow them around no matter what sporting news source I check.

However, Nats General Manager Jim Bowden, his staff o' morons, and some guy apparently NOT named Esmailyn Gonzalez saw fit that I and NatsNation (again, trying out nicknames) needed a reality check on just how hopeless our favorite baseball team really is.

It turned out that the 19 year old SS elite prospect Esmailyn Gonzalez from the Dominican Republic is actually a 23 year old fraud named Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo. Now why he felt he needed to have another two names (Esmailyn Gonzalez) to go along with the four he already had (Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo) is plain and simple: Being 4 years younger would get him paid. $1.4 million to be exact. So 3 years ago, he claimed he was 16 and got his money in a contract with my Nats along with being dubbed proof positive that the Nats could compete with bigger MLB franchises such as the Yankees in the Dominican Republic. The problem of course is that a 20 year old prospect is not the same in the baseball world as a 16 year old prospect. If he was really 19 and hit the way he did last year in the minors (.342 avg), he's officially dubbed a huge prospect (Baseball America listed him as the 10th best prospect in the National's farm system) and is one-way trip to stardom should everything go right and he stay healthy. On the other hand, being 23 and hitting the way he did just makes him a behind-schedule prospect with much slimmer hopes of stardom unless he can have a massive year and tear through the minors in a hurry on his way to the major leagues. In essence, that 10th best prospect in the organization is now slightly above average at best and makes the farm system (which slipped from being #9 in the country in 2007 to being somewhere in the 20s in 2008) look even worse. That being said, not all (or even most) of the blame should be placed on his shoulders.

Instead that honor is bestowed on Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden, whose time in Washington has been turbulent, to say the least. As Tom Boswell wrote today in his article for the Washington Post, "a Nats franchise that shoots itself in the foot every time it gets a new pair of shoes has taken another painful public pratfall." I couldn't have said it any better (and I've tried). He goes on to cite specific examples such as "Get a new city-built ballpark; don't pay the rent. Get a coveted No. 1 draft pick; don't sign him. Promise a better team to inaugurate a new park; lose 102 games. Expect sellouts in Southeast Washington; average 12,000 empty seats. Sign slugger Adam Dunn; have a scandal explode the next week." I put quotes on these because they are his words, but that doesn't make them any less true. Every single one of those has happened to the Nats under Jim Bowden's regime and while not all of them are his fault (the rent thing falls on the owners), most of those happenings can be traced directly back to the product that Jim Bowden put together to be on that field at game time. In fact, the list that Boswell has put together doesn't mention some things that Bowden has been able to skate by with doing.

For instance, signing seemingly every former Cincinnati Red he could get his hands on that had anything to do with his time as the General Manager there (Dmitri Young, Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez, Aaron Boone, and more) despite the Reds organization being a bottom-feeder in the NL Central for quite a few years now (and more than partially because of his doing). It would be one thing if he brought them here and they succeeded, but Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez have been epic flops (Lopez is no longer with the team), Dmitri Young had one great year and has since been unable to control his weight and diabetes problems, Aaron Boone was nothing more than a serviceable backup, and Adam Dunn, for all the praise I gave him last week, is an incomplete player defensively and will never hit for a good average.

Bowden has also very narrowly avoided looking like a moron on several occasions with other personnel decisions. Trading OF Ryan Church and C Brian Schneider to the Mets for OF Lastings Milledge last year looked to be a decent move that would garner the Nats a promising young prospect. However, Milledge struggled mightily playing defense in CF last year, fell into a massive slump early in the season, got hurt, and managed to hit .300 over the remainder of the season to bring his average for the year up to a respectable .268 while Ryan Church got off to a brilliant start in the Mets lineup before suffering a concussion. Bowden was saved from looking like a complete moron by Milledge's 2nd half of the year and Church getting knocked stupid, but only barely and Milledge will have to continue his success this year for Bowden to escape criticism.

However, his luckiest moment by far has got to be his acquisition of SS Christian Guzman in 2005. Guzman came to DC with a 4 year, $20 million contract that initially looked just downright terrible because of his constant struggles that year to hit above .200. He got injured, got eye surgery, retooled his hitting approach, and made it back into the starting lineup consistently just in time to .316 last year and earn himself a spot on the All-Star team in the final year of his contract, which was extended before the end of the season. If not for last season, the whole transaction would have been a complete failure on Bowden's part.

All this being said about Bowden's reign as GM is fine and dandy, but the biggest case for his ineptitude has to be last season. Say what you want about injuries plaguing the team causing it to fail, but when it comes down to it, the majority of the players on that team were brought in by Bowden to contribute and failed on an epic level. The only players on the team that proved to be worth anything tradeable were Jon Rauch and Luis Ayala, two bullpen pitchers from before Bowden's time as GM. Epic disappointments like OFs Willy Mo Pena and Austin Kearns, SS Felipe Lopez, and Cs Paul Lo Duca and Johnny Estrada were all Jim Bowden acquisitions. Of the five players I just mentioned, only Pena and Kearns are still on the team and both are considered unlikely to see much playing time this year.

All last year, team president Stan Kasten tried desperately to assure me that, though the major league team was awful, hope was on the horizon with a quickly rebuilding minor league system. Then, of course the team failed to sign its top draft pick, a pitcher named Aaron Crow who was widely considered to be the best pitching prospect in the draft over a somewhat small difference in contract money. That was just one part of a domino effect that saw many young and highly touted Nats prospects in one way or another do a collective face-plant in their careers. OF Justin Maxwell and 1B Chris Marrero, amongst others, caught the injury bug and lost large portions of their seasons. Ps like Matt Chico, Jason Bergman, and Chad Cordero had similar fates. The young players called up out of the minors to see playing time for the most part fell flat on their faces as well, but through performing poorly rather than injury. What was a year before a top 10 farm system suddenly looked very inept and that year's rating reflected it, dropping down into the 20s.

Now compared to all that, the Gonzalez turned Lugo ordeal looks small, but don't fall into that easy trap. The difference between this ordeal and all the ones that came before it is that this one became public and in a hurry. Whereas all the individual player failures last year were able to hide, clumped together in a terrible season, the "player to be named later" (as Stan Kasten calls him) has brought direct public scrutiny down into that Laughing Stock cellar to take a gander at this Nationals organization. Although frequently criticized by most people in the sports media, never before has every single paper in the country taken such a close look at a Bowden mess-up.

This is a very public scandal and I don't want to take it sitting down. As a frequenter of Nationals Park, the son of season ticket holders, and an inconceivably big Nats fan, my money that I spend at the Park goes to funding the organization in a small, but nonetheless vital way. As such, I and all the Nats fans like me who do the same are technically helping to fund this sideshow and the product Jim Bowden puts on the field every game has been disappointing to say the least. Enough is enough. Bowden has had 5 years to turn this ship around and has only tread water, if not submerged the ship and turned a once respectable Montreal Expos franchise into a PR disaster in the nation's capital.

I don't know how much more the man has to do to get fired already, but here's to hoping this does the trick.

More Nats Blogging

Today is the first day of mandatory spring training for the Nats and after my dad and I looked over the 40-man roster that was in the Washington Post the other day, I decided I would share a few lineup scenarios that I consider to be a reality with my loyal readers (all 3 of you).

First, I would like to start with the Opening Day lineup for when the Nats open the season in Florida against the Marlins on April 6th for a three-game series. Essentially what this lineup dictates is what the 9-man batting order is going to look like for the Nationals when they field their best lineup, although you could certainly laugh at the use of the word "best" in that sentence, seeing as it is the Nats afterall. Accompanying the players' names are their batting average, home run total, and runs-batted-in total for 2008, except for the pitcher, who has his pitching stats displayed in win-loss, earned-run-average, innings pitched, and strikeouts. Now, the lineup.

1st - SS Christian Guzman (.316, 9 HR, 55 RBI in 138 games)
2nd - CF Lastings Milledge (.268, 14 HR, 61 RBI in 138 games)
3rd - 3B Ryan Zimmerman (.283, 14 HR, 51 RBI in 106 games)
4th - LF Adam Dunn (.236, 40 HR, 100 RBI in 158 games)
5th - RF Elijah Dukes (.264, 13 HR, 44 RBI in 81 games)
6th - 1B Nick Johnson (.220, 5 HR, 20 RBI in 38 games)
7th - C Jesus Flores (.256, 8 HR, 59 RBI in 90 games)
8th - 2B Anderson Hernandez (.333, 0 HR, 17 RBI in 28 games)
9th - P John Lannan (9-15, 3.91 ERA, 182.0 IP, 117 K)

Now that lineup may not have opposing teams wetting themselves by just looking at it, but there is a great deal of potential hidden under the surface. Christian Guzman was an all-star last year who had his best year at the plate and seems likely to repeat that this year. Lastings Milledge, like many players on this list, spent some time injured last season, but coming off his injury hit .300 and showed a great deal of potential at the plate. Ryan Zimmerman is the face of the franchise and has the skills to back it up, but because of no lineup protection the last few seasons, has been unable to put up the kind of offensive numbers that people would like because pitchers stay away from the strike zone while he's at bat because nobody behind him could hit. However, that looks to change this year as the big signing of the off-season, Adam Dunn, sits behind him in the lineup with a consistent 40 HR a season bat that will give pitchers a reason to try and throw strikes to Zimmerman as well as the young-and-talented Elijah Dukes, who hits behind Dunn and, with the right lineup protection, could hit 25-30 HR this year. Nick Johnson rounds out the middle of the lineup in the 6-hole and, provided he stays healthy (he's played only 38 games the past 2 seasons because of injury), he could be a very solid offensive presence in the lineup capable of hitting around .300 and has a history of being good at getting on base as well. Following him up is Jesus Flores, whose talent last year both behind and at the plate demanded he play ahead of veteran Paul Lo Duca, and with good reason. Flores calls a good game behind the plate to back up a knack for getting timely hits to score runs or keep innings alive. The wild card of the offensive side of the lineup is sitting in the 8-hole, but could very well find himself at the top of the lineup or at the bottom of the bench depending on how well he does with his opportunities this spring. If he falters, look for Willie Harris to fill in for him and hit at the top of the lineup because of his excellent play last season. Last, but certainly not least is John Lannan, who anchored a very inconsistent pitching staff last year and whose body of work looks to have situated him as the ace of the staff this season until somebody else proves they can out-pitch him.

Personally, I have a lot of hope for this season and I think this team has the potential finish much better than they did last year. The remainder of the starting pitching staff, which I did not have time to cover, shows a good deal of potential and could surprise some people this year. The clincher to whether the Nats can be successful this year depends largely on their young bullpen. Should the bullpen be able to hold down good performances, this team could surprise people and finish as high as 3rd place in the NL East. While there's obviously no comparison to the Phillies and Mets, the Braves and Marlins could find themselves overtaken by this Nationals team if all their potential and youth pans out into wins. It's a bold prediction, but we'll see what happens. Afterall, anything is possible and, as Chris Berman said 400 times during Super Bowl week this year, "that's why they play the game."

Small Birthday Baseball Blog - Adam Dunn Edition

I like this move a ton. He's shown that he can consistently be an offensive threat and his presence in the lineup should afford Zimmerman some much needed patience, not to mention whoever bats behind him after he walks. On the flipside, if he's awful, he's only here two years and during that time the Nats can bring 1B Chris Marrerro along the right way to be able to step in and replace Dunn when the contract is up. The way I see it, the Nats get more good than bad here and I'm glad they were able to pull the trigger on a big move like this. Now let's see what we can do about bringing 2B Orlando Hudson.

Those Lerners Never Learn

I knew it. I knew they would do this.


I just knew it. I took one look at what they were doing with Texeira and said, "this isn't right". These guys don't spend that kind of money. Something is amiss. Well its amiss alright. Nobody involved with this team knows what the hell they are doing nor do they have any commitment to really improving the team and making it profitable with an small fanbase that is jumping ship by the minute.

One moment, they are willing to spend enough money to make bids for Mark Texeira that rivaled that of the mighty Yankees and Red Sox or to bid the same amount as the Cubs for Milton Bradley, and get beat out in both cases only because those players (and I can't blame them) want to win now. The next, they can't shell out similar amounts of cash (and in Texeira's case, substantially less cash) for (and let's forget about Dunn for just a moment) a gold glove, clubhouse leader like Orlando Hudson who, oh-by-the-way, can hit out of the leadoff spot as well. Just so you know what that looks like in a lineup (again, without Dunn) thats Hudson, Guzman, and Zimmerman right off the bat. All solid hitters, though Zimmerman has been historically impatient at the plate because any major league pitcher taking a passing glance at our lineups the past couple years know better than to give him anything to hit. All solid hitters that if we were to add somebody like Adam Dunn or somebody like Elijah Dukes or Lastings Milledge were ever to produce properly at the plate could result in at least a reasonable offensive threat to build a team around. But no, the Lerners got me again. Here I thought they were actually going to spend some money this off-season to bring in the kind of high-caliber, not-too-old veterans that this team so desperately needs to build around, and then 'here we go again' with the tight-fisted ownership. You know at this point I'm beginning to believe that the whole Texeira thing was just a hoax. Something they could point to in the press and say, 'This means we are committed to winning and willing to spend the money necessary. Your faith in us was not misguided." I mean honestly. Where was an ownership that makes its money from real estate (and clearly not from their own state-of-the-art, over-budget, publicly-funded, stuffed-away-in-one-of-the
-worst-neighborhoods-in-town [wow that's alot of hyphens] stadium) going to get the kind of money they would need to pay Texeira $180 million for 8 years? That's assuming of course that he doesn't negotiate for an option that would allow him to jump ship in 2-3 years once he realizes what kind of shithole (<---- accurate description, not unnecessary profanity) he dug himself into.

I'll admit, I was unrealistically optimistic that they would somehow have the means to do something like that and stick with it. I drank the Lerner's Kool-aid when they talked about building around the best young first basemen to be on the market since the team arrived in DC. I drank it again when they started talking about back-up plans like Milton Bradley and Orlando Hudson to provide not just badly-needed support at our defensively frailest positions, but also bats that would contribute to more than just the breeze in the ballpark. However, this is the last straw. These owners don't really have the fans' best interest in mind. They are just another Peter Angelos-like presence in a town that already despises that kind of ownership from their sports franchises.

Sure, the source goes on to say that the Nats are looking to improve through trades for young players, but notice that it also says "concentrate on their Minor League system" just before that. For God's sake, the Single-A Potomac Nationals won their league championship and the AA and AAA teams were unfortunately bitten with the same injury bug to their best players as the team at the major league level was. Nevermind that you said earlier this off-season that the minor-league system was essentially where you wanted to be and now was the time to focus on improving the club at the major league level and therefore basically lied to a fanbase that is more and more turning on you every second you don't spend money on a talented free agent.

Enough with the farm system and build-through-the-minor-league talk. You said it yourself, it's good enough that you can begin to focus on improving at the major league level at this critical time so that your fanbase, which was already one of the smallest in the league last year, doesn't walk out on you and instead spend their summer waiting for the Redskins to start another trainwreck of a season.

You expect me, or anyone else for that matter, to be excited that you added two players from the Marlins I've barely heard of and a pitcher from Baltimore that I'm all too familiar with for being a headcase who never lives up to his potential? Good luck with that.

Will I continue to root for the team on the field? Probably. It isn't their fault they are handcuffed to terrible ownership and questionable management. The players we have like Ryan Zimmerman, John Lannan, and Jesus Flores who have all the ability needed to be something special are, by contract, stuck wasting valuable and sometimes fleeting time of their careers hand-cuffed to a broken radiator in the cellar of Major League Baseball. It is those guys, who I pity tremendously, that I root for when baseball season rolls around, not this pathetic excuse for management.

The sooner the Lerners get that, the better.

Catching Up

Just stopping by real quick to let you know that I will be uploading some of my writings from this year to get my blog caught up with what I have already been writing on Facebook. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Start of Something New

Welcome to my blog. This is my first time being a part of a major blogging site. Before this I was posting in my Facebook account, which I don't intend to stop, but instead spread over to this site and vice versa.

I'm not limiting myself to one subject in my writings, but instead covering whatever comes to mind which has been known to be anything from Major League Baseball to College Football to movies/TV to my own experiences as a filmmaker and potential journalism student.
Stay tuned though because you never know what I'll be writing about.

Hopefully you enjoy my blog, but I can understand if you don't. Either way, I'm going to write from my point-of-view with the aim of expressing my views while respecting yours (maybe).

Here's to hoping this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

(Yes, I mashed together two famous lines from Casablanca)