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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Post-Trade Thoughts

He kept Soriano. A day after the anxiety-filled, rumor-fuelled day that was Monday, I am still in disbelief. Evidently my hoodoo and voodoo paid off, because Alfonso Soriano is still a National (to the chagrin of many a sportswriter). I think it was the best move for the team and for the fans, though I think the management aren't convinced, despite their public comments to the contrary.

You would think I'd be showering thanks and affection all over The General, but the words just don't want to come out.

I do think he should have done something. Maybe with either Armas or Ortiz. Getting rid of Stanton was a start, but even I was disappointed with the lack of activity. I guess General B really is all about being the center of attention.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Another plea

I was sent this link earlier today, and wanted to post it in its entirety. Doug McKinney over at Nats Fanatic sent it to me, and I think what he's written here is pretty much what I've been thinking throughout the course of this whole nasty trade saga. Please read it, and think about it.

Courting Soriano: Closing Statement

Written by Doug McKinney
Friday, 28 July 2006

With the trade deadline just days away, it's time for my closing statement. This is your last chance. I'm down on the ground, begging, for you to make the wise decision. For your sake and the city of Washington, D.C. Ladies and gentlemen of the Washington Nationals higher-ups jury...you must keep Alfonso Soriano. Or you'll be sorry.

Enough of playing the debate game, weighing pros and cons of whether to keep his services. I've been doing that all week at work, on message boards and at the bars. It's now decision time. I'm pleading with you to keep him.

I respect everyone's opinion, even crazy John Rocker. Okay, forget Rocker. But, everyone else, they have the utmost respect from me. Yet, I'm scratching my head - and no I don't have dandurff - at the comments I'm hearing from those opposed of keeping Soriano. "We need prospects." Or how about, "it's not a good business decision." Oh, and my favorite, "he's not a superstar."

It's mind-boggling, that there are some people that don't feel that he can help this club now and for the future. Today, I'm speaking in defense of my client, Mr. Soriano.

We Need Prospects

I know the Nationals farm system is "dry", hell I think the whole town knows it's dry. Yet, do you really expect with the addition of two prospects, the farm system will miraculously turn into code "wet"? No. Is it a start? It could be, depending on what GM Jim Bowden wants in return. There are some in the "know" that claim Bowden wants Major League ready - or the closest thing possible to it - in return for Soriano. How can that possibly help improve the farm?

Let's say they do trade Alfie, for say, a AA/AAA what scouts call "future" MLB ace and a A/AA "future" 5-tool outfielder. Are those two going to solve all our problems? Or better yet, are those two ever going to pan out and reach their full potential? We don't know. Yet, we do know what we have: Soriano. I keep referring to him as "W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G.", What You See Is What You Get.

You know this guy will come to the ballpark with his patented smile, work out at second base and out in left field and then hustle his butt off from warm ups to walking back to the clubhouse after a victory. Oh, somewhere mixed in the shuffle in between warm-ups and post game interviews, he'll deliver a 2-run homer, a double and one or two stolen bases.

Let's get rid of him because he's not helping our minor league system.

It's Not A Good Business Decision

Soriano is going to require top-dollar in the offseason. No doubt about it. And I'm not afraid to go out and say it: he's one of the few cases where I can actually say the athlete deserves it. Now, new team President Stan Kasten is fairly conservative when it comes to throwing out wads of cash at players, but who's to say he can't sign Soriano?

I'm tired of hearing about how Kasten won't be able to afford Soriano's services. Or that he isn't willing to do so. Is everyone forgetting that Kasten was in Atlanta when they threw $90 million bones over six years at Chipper Jones (2001-06). Is that not evidence right there? Oh, and what about the time, when they signed the other "Jones boy", Andruw Jones (2002-07), for a whopping $75 million over a period of 6 years?

Hmm, good 'ole Chipper, was 29 when he signed that contract? Soriano is 30 years old now. Big difference, huh? Is Soriano not deserving of a 5-year, $65 million dollar contract? Is he not worth $75 million dollars over six years, but Chipper Jones is? Sure Chipper has held a .306 average the past 6 seasons (including '06) which buries Sorianos' .282. Yet can Jones say he's homered 191 times over the course of these last 6 years? No, but Soriano can. Jones has just gone deep 157. A 26.1 average comapred to Soriano's 31.8. Never mind you that there is still 2 months left of the season, giving Soriano a realistic shot at 50. Just so you know, their RBI production is basically the same: Soriano has 524, Jones has driven in 535. Not to mention, Soriano's .OBP and .SLG are at a career high. Why can one assume he can't continue that over the years? To top it off, Soriano has stolen 192 bases in these last 6 seasons and he's played in at least 145 games or more in each of them.

Let's get rid of him because he's not worth the money.

He's Not A Superstar

Soriano fits the superstar term from a marketability standpoint and from sheer talent. It's not hard to market a player who is a 5-time All-Star (5-time, 5-time, 5-time, 5-time, 5-time ... All-Star, for you Booker T/wrestling fans). Yet, to see the complete 360 from spring training when Soriano didn't want set foot on the field (left field actually) or in DC, to the standing ovation he receives from the 3rd base stands of RFK when he runs from the dugout to his new position, it's turned him into a fan favorite.

He does things 99 percent of the rest of the league can't do. He can stretch a routine single into a double with his speed. He can hit 3 home runs in a single game (2 of them against future HOF'er John Smoltz). He can lead the Major Leagues in outfield assists (13) in his first year as an outfielder. The guy can even speak three languages. Why are some so quick to trade him away?

We're not in Montreal anymore. I'm not saying let's go on a spending frenzy, but at the same time, the owners will make their money here. And in return, the fans should see that income pour over to an enjoyable ballpark and a competitive team. We've got the ballpark on the way, give us the superstar. Soriano.

Respected people of the jury, in the Major League Baseball Dictionary, it reads...

Potential (adj) - having a latent possibility of being successful.

Prospect (n) - full of potential.

Soriano (n) - a former prospect, turned one of the games biggest superstars.

In closing, your honors. Prospects such as Adam Jones (Mariners), Philip Hughes (Yankees), Brian Anderson (White Sox) are all fine, young players. The jury is still out on them. Yet, with Soriano, we know the verdict. He's one of the best players in the game. Do you really think you can afford to lose him?

I rest my case.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A plea to General Bowden

Dear General B.,

I know I've mocked you relentlessly lately, and well frankly since you've been holding the reigns to the trades and all, but I've got a favor to ask you. You probably won't listen, because that's just the kind of guy you are, but I thought it was worth a shot.

Please don't trade Fonzie and Livo.

I know you think you can get good prospects back for each player, but what's a couple of prospects when you're without two of your best players? What's a slight jolt in the farm system compared with the respect of the fanbase, who might mutiny of you trade the two aforementioned Nats (especially Soriano). Does team chemistry mean nothing to you? I know, it doesn't, and it was silly of me to ask. The players want them to stay. They want to stay. And if you trade them, they might cry. I know I probably will.

Sure, there are those out there who take your side that they should be traded. I think it's pretty obvious by now I'm not one of those people. I don't look at players as mere commodities. I think that if a player is happy, and he tells you/the media/anyone who will listen that he wants to stay with your team, then maybe you should really consider actually listening to him. Try and get yourself out of MLB-ownership mode. You're not operating on such a limited budget anymore. It doesn't hurt to have big-salary guys on the team. Especially when they're actually really good players who are well-liked among the fans who will stop paying to come see your team should they be traded. Think about that. There are those out there who will not pay to go to RFK without certain players, no matter how you try to reel them in with some new paint and more food (and brisket).

Thanks for listening.



PS: Can we talk about your hair next?

Friday, July 21, 2006

July 20: Met-tastic

Boy, I bet that other New York team is pretty happy ole Bowden decided Endy Chavez wasn't good enough for the Nats. Because Endy has been a valuable cog for the Mets in their hurtle toward the NL East pennant. Example: last night, top of the 10th inning, Mets tied with Cincinnati. Game tied at 2. Dear departed Gary Majewski on the mound. Endy Chavez doubled in a run, breaking the deadlock, which the Mets would go on to win 4-2. I'm telling you, Gary does not like Cincinnati. But Endy sure likes Gary. And Endy sure likes New York. And Bowden...well, he sure didn't like Endy. And General Bowden is never wrong...right?

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I'm a big Jamey Carroll fan. And I'm not the only one. Carroll was one of the most popular Nats last season, and came to represent the spunky, never say die attitude that (sometimes) surfaced in the Nats' clubhouse. People loved him, he always gave 110%. So what happens?

Yeah. We got rid of him.

Not even a trade. They let the Rockies buy his contract. And how's he doing in Colorado? Anyone who witnessed the sweep at the hands of his new team at RFK can tell you Jamey is faring pretty well with his purple pinstriped team. As of today, his batting average is a very respectable .318. And he's helping the Rockies win plenty of games.

The Carroll transaction puzzles me. Why would you offload one of the most popular players, and not get anything in return? He wasn't eating up all that much budget, and was great for team morale. Without Jamey, the chemistry of the team is noticeably flat. He defined hustle as applied to the team last season. Who can we look to this year for that? Apart from Ryan Zimmerman the answer is no one. Instead, Bowden has used the money to procure some subpar players, instead of keeping a dedicated utility player who loved his job.

And the timing is weird, too. Carroll's contract was renewed in January, and he was gone in February.

All I can do is appeal to the baseball gods to bring him back to RFK. Maybe Bowden can dupe the Rockies into a trade? Felipe Lopez, anyone?

Trade History: Reds Edition

It's interesting to go back and look at all the trades Bowden made while in Cincinnati. He was hired in 1992, and fired in 2003. Almost eleven years of wheeling and dealing. Bowden plays favorites, and Bowden makes a lot of head-scratching, what was he thinking trades. Good to know he didn't just do it to the Nats. He also likes retreads - a few current Nationals have been involved in Bowden's web of trades over the years. I'm not a fan of that, because it shows that he's not looking at what is good for the team, but surrounding himself with individual players he likes. He's not concerned with the team chemistry at all.

It is hard to really go in-depth with this examination, because I'm unfamiliar with most of the players mentioned in the trade history. But I will touch upon some more...ill-advised moves. Judge for yourself.

November 3, 1992 - acquires OF Roberto Kelly from the Yankees, in exchange for OF Paul O'Neill and IF Joe DeBerry.

I could be wrong, but O'Neill was a stalwart for the Yanks, and was probably the marquis player of this deal. Unless Roberto Kelly was a great player, this trade comes out heavily in the Yanks' favor.

March 27, 1993 - acquires IF Gary Scott, P Hector Carrasco from the Marlins for P Chris Hammond.

Hector Carrasco was a National, before Bowden shipped him off to the AL in the off season.

May 29, 1994 - acquires OF Deion Sanders from Atlanta, and trades OF Roberto Kelly and P Roger Etheridge.

Less than two years after the Yankee trade, Bowden ships Kelly off to Atlanta. This is a recurring theme among Bowden trades.

May 11, 1995 - acquires P Mike Remlinger from the Mets, sending them OF Cobi Cradle.
December 4, 1995 - trades P Mike Remlinger and IF Luis Ordaz to the Cards for OF Andre King.

See? And I do believe the St. Louis got the better end of that deal, as well.

July 31, 1995 - acquires P David Wells from Detroit, in exchange for P C.J. Nitkowski, P David Tuttle, IF Mark Lewis.
December 26, 1995 - Merry Christmas, David Wells, you've been traded to Baltimore for OF Curtis Goodwin, OF Trovin Valdez.

Again, the Reds got the short end of the stick. Are we seeing a pattern yet?

March 16, 1997 - acquired P Joey Eischen from San Diego, for 1B Ray Brown.

I only bring this up, because Eischen is currently a National. One of many to be involved with Bowden in Cincinnati.

July 4, 1998 - acquires If Paul Konerko, P Dennys Reyes from the Dodgers for P Jeff Shaw.
November 11, 1998 - acquires OF Mike Cameron from the White Sox in exchange for IF Paul Konerko.

And again. 4 months as a Red, and Konerko is off to Chicago, where he has had a pretty good career. Sox win, Sox win.

I think you're getting the idea. I'm getting bored, so I'll stop. Bowden has made oodles of trades, and no less than 5 Nats were part of his revolving door at Cincinnati.

Nationals trade thoughts coming soon.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

July 18: Feels like old times (in more ways than one)

Last night, the Nats were very lucky to leave the ballpark in Miami with a win. Despite leaving nineteen men stranded, the Nats came from behind and stole one from the Fish. It almost felt like the glory days of last season's first half, when one-run, come from behind wins were abundant.

All was normal in terms of the new boys, too. FLo and AK went a combined 1-9 at the plate, with three strikeouts and eight runners stranded. Seriously. WTF? Hit the effing ball, people. The Nats also had three errors, and amazingly none of them belonged to Felipe Lopez. Someone pinch me, I must be dreaming.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

By the way...

I just did some stat-tracking. Bowden's new shortstop ranks dead last among starting shortstops in terms of fielding percentage (.952), and he is tied for the second-highest error total. Were it not for Rafael Furcal, he and Carlos Guillen would share the dubious honors.

Someone remind me again what Bowden was doing?

July 17: Fileted by Fish (or, how Felipe lost the game)

I almost did it. I almost ate my words. But no.

After Felipe Lopez hit his tenth homer of the season (to atone for that error in the bottom of the third), I was raising an eyebrow and thinking to myself "maybe he's not so dire after all." And then came the bottom of the fourth. While vexing, errors aren't the worst as long as nobody scores. And in the bottom of the fourth, score they did. The Nats lost the game in this inning. Now, mind you, the rest of the team should have been able to score three runs and win the game, but had Lopez not made an egregious error, the inning would have been over sooner (conjecture, but it's probable) and with no runs scored. Instead, our walking error helped the Marlins immensely. Lopez was like the tenth man for the Fish! Last night's action brings his total errors for the season to a jaw-dropping 17. Someone tell Royce Clayton I miss him...

Our other acquisition, Austin Kearns, had a great night. Why, you ask? Because he was on the bench.

Monday, July 17, 2006

July 14-16: Weekend Wrap-up (or Yo-Ho-Ho, the Pirates win the series)

This was not the best of ways to begin the second half of the season, but I suppose we should just be grateful they weren't swept by the Pirates. Here's how Bowden's wunderkinds performed over the weekend. Warning: these numbers aren't for the faint of heart.

Friday: Kearns went 0-3 with a walk, and left four runners on base. His average stood at .271. Lopez was worse, going 0-4 with a strikeout and a walk, and he also managed to leave six men on base. Felipe got his average down to .265.

Saturday: Kearns went 0-3 with two strikeouts and two walks. Mercifully, he didn't strand any runners. The same cannot be said of Felipe Lopez, who left a crimal seven runners on base. He went 1-4 with three, yes three strikeouts and two walks. Who really needs to walk these guys, anyway?! They're almost automatic outs.

Sunday: Despite the win, these two had abysmal numbers yet again. Austin Kearns went 1-6 with a strikeout, and left a scandalous seven people on the bags. Lopez was equally dire, leaving 3 men stranded as he went 0-5 at the plate, with two strikeouts. Their respective averages went down to .267 and .261, down four points each. I never thought I'd say this, but Lopez makes me miss Royce Clayton.

Speaking of the devil, Royce must have had a perpetual mental middle finger pointing in the direction of Washington this weekend, because he played incredibly well this weekend. I don't want to look at his numbers, because I might cry.

Let's hope this dynamically bad duo can begin to show us why Bowden thought they were worthy of a trade, starting tonight as the Nats take on the Marlins.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

July 16: Nice trade, eh?

What's that? Someone said the Nats got the better end of the trade? Pardon me whilst I scoff. Let's look at the players over the past two games in their new homes.

Oh, and by the way. The Nats have lost both games since making the trade, while the Reds are on a three-game winning streak. Coincidence? I think not.

Friday 7/14

Pirates 7, Nats 4

You know you're doing something wrong if you can't beat the Pirates, especially considering how many men you're leaving on base. Newbie Kearns grounded out with the bases loaded. Lopez went 0 for 4, left six men on base, and also ended the inning with bases loaded. He was perhaps the more loathsome of the two, as he had a couple awful fielding plays that helped the Pirates score. And I say again: we got rid of Royce Clayton for this?!

Reds 3, Rockies 1

In Cincinnati, Royce Clayton meanwhile was busy driving in a run with a sacrifice groundout in the 4th inning. Majewski had a more forgettable night, giving up the only run for the Rockies, but it was a moot point as the Reds won the game. I think you see where I'm going with this. The Reds win this comparison by a mile.

Saturday 7/15

Pirates 7, Nats 6

Oh, the 1-run games. How they hurt. Especially when you consider how many the team won last year. The Nats lost, for hardly the first time this season, in the bottom of the 9th. You might say they were pillaged. And what did our glorious new acquisitions do? Not a whole lot. They both managed to get on base this time, though, but it was the "let's all leave as many men on base as we can" game. In other words, same as the previous night. Wow, these new guys are really making an impact.

Reds 3, Rockies 2

Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, the Reds won. Again. Gary is obviously not adjusting to life in the Midwest, as he blew a 1-0 lead. Perhaps he just really misses being here. Bill Bray, conversely, pitched a perfect ninth and got the win. Take that, Bowden! Nothing like getting a win for your new team while your former team is stinking things up. And again, win goes to the Reds.

Draw your own conclusions. But looking at the numbers...unless the newbies start performing better, and until the Nats get new onfield management (the sooner the better), the Reds are going to come out of this shock trade smelling like roses. And Bowden...everyone will just shake their head and sigh, because really aren't the vast majority of Bowden's trades this dumb?

Friday, July 14, 2006

July 14: Chris Booker & Brandon Watson

According to the Nats' site, Chris Booker (RHP) has been reacquired from the Kansas City Royals. He had a 2.49 ERA last year, which sounds good but keep in mind he was in the Minors. He's going to New Orleans to play ball with the Zephyrs. He can keep Marlon Byrd company.

In other news, the Nats and Reds are not done doing business just yet. Eight is seemingly not enough...Brandon Watson was claimed off waivers today, making him another casualty of this dismantling. I always liked Watson, but I don't ever think he lived up to his potential. He had been languishing down in the Minors after having some trouble (that's being nice - his average in nine games was .179) at the plate.

July 14: Matos & Byrd (or, This Byrd has flown)

More movement! I tell you what, that Bowden sure is busy. Today we picked up Baltimore castoff Luis Matos (his batting average through 55 games with the Orioles is a Guzman-esque .207). Not sure the point of this, other than the fact that he plays outfield. But couldn't Bowden have picked up someone with a little better batting average?

In addition to picking up Matos, the team subtracted a man. Erstwhile outfielder Marlon Byrd was designated for assignment. I'm torn on this one. I think that while Marlon was currently barren at the plate, and somewhat lackadaisical in outfield, he had some stellar moments and always seemed to play hard. And then there are those dimples...but no matter. #25 is gone, which seems to be a trend these days.

I worry that by the end of the season I won't recognize the team I've come to love.

Here's my wishlist: Soriano stays put in left (or they come up with some super stealthy deal to trade him now and then bring him back long-term after this season), we get a rightfielder not named Jose Guillen, we trade Livan Hernandez and get good prospects in return, and we require MRIs for all incoming pitchers (the reason for this requirement? Mister Brian "on the bench all year" Laurence). All of these could happen, maybe. My fingers are crossed.

July 13: 8-player trade with Cincinnati

Nats traded: Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, Royce Clayton, Brendan Harris, and minor-league pitcher Daryl Thompson

Nats aqcuired: Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez, Ryan Wagner

My first observation, upon recovering from the reeling shock of my dear Mister Majewski's departure, was that I could have sworn I heard multiple assertions from the great and powerful Front Office that the club wanted youth. Lots and lots of youth. And so naturally, the thing to do is rush out and trade young players? With the exception of Clayton (whom I am not broken-hearted to see the back of), all the players are 26 and under. Harris maybe wasn't the best option for the Nats, so my consternation applies less to him than to Majewski, Bray, and Thompson. Majewski was solid for the Nats, and despite a couple rocky innings this season should have been a part of the long-term for the team. Bray, despite my love-hate relationship with his tendency to pitch either flawlessly quick innings or massive, multi-run meltdown innings, is young and left-handed. Teams love lefties. They are the hot tamales of the league, in terms of relief-pitching. And now, the Nats bullpen has lost a leftie reliever. And Thompson, despite knowing nothing about him, becomes a big bone of contention. Why? Because he comes from the Nats supposedly dismal farm system. Kasten and co. came in touting the need to focus on the farm system. Threatening to dismantle the club (check) in exchange for prospects (nope). The dismantling is happening, sure, but show me the prospects.

The talking heads are slobbering over the deal, saying the Nats definitely got the better end of the trade. But did we really?

The only thing I knew about Kearns prior to the trade is that he strikes out a lot, gets hurt regularly, and can sometimes hit home runs. Lopez evidently has made more errors than Royce Clayton in the same span of time, which leads me raise an eyebrow and ponder why we would trade down, when the point should be to improve the defense. Maybe he hits a little more consistently than Clayton, but Lopez will be interesting to watch. Wagner was a first-round pick in 2003. Who drafted him? Jim Bowden.

All three players coming to the Nats from Cincinnati are players that Bowden brought in. Now, I don't know about you, but something stinks to high heaven. Great, you like these players, Jim. But must they all come here to play? Being a GM isn't about one-upping your former club. It's about doing what's best for the team. And while only time will tell how the trade plays out on the field, I for one am skeptical at best.

Black Wednesday

Yesterday, the other shoe dropped. The straw broke the camel's back. And enough was enough.

It was not enough for Jim Bowden to up and get rid of Brad Wilkerson and the sparkplug that is Jamey Carroll. Oh no. Yesterday, he made the mistake of uprooting my favorite National, Gary Majewski. I have bitched and moaned amongst my friends and family long enough. This latest move by the Nats' trigger-happy GM has inspired me to blog again, and blog I shall.

This blog is dedicated to the removal of Jim Bowden from the Nationals organization.

In my mind, perhaps naively, there is the thought that baseball is not just a business. Baseball is part of life. The players are not mere commodities, they are people. Exorbitantly overpaid people, but people all the same. The players and the fans have a unique relationship in baseball, and you can't just trade fan favorites away and expect to keep the stands full. If Bowden is allowed to continue, the Nats will be playing to Tampa Bay-sized crowds for the remainder of the season, if not for the forseeable future.

It is with that in mind that I plan to (over) analyze the trades of Mister Bowden. To prove a point: the man must be stopped.

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