The Next Explosion You Hear Won't Be A Terrorist Attack, It Will Be the Nationals Being Blown Up From Within
[August 8th] - If there was any question about changes coming for the Washington Nationals, one had to only watch Sunday's game to see that the team, at least as it currently exist, was about to be blown up.
Manager Frank Robinson started only two of his regulars Sunday, with the subs getting the same 5 hits that the starters averaged the past two games. But it's just not me anymore that is seeing the writing on the wall. After a two hour meeting that was supposed to "clear the air" made matters worse, General Manager Jim Bowden finally acknowledged that this team is going nowhere, saying, "It's getting [to be] that time. You can't watch these games too much longer, so let's try something different. It's like sailing a boat. Sometimes, you think you're going the right way. But if your team's losing, at some point, you might as well tack and go the other way and see if that'll work."
It's time to face the unpleasant facts. The Washington Nationals are more like the team of the second half and not the first. All through those first three months, fans, other teams and the media kept saying, "How are they winning all those games?" I'm not sure how they did it. Perhaps it was the new city, the new uniforms and, for the first time in a decade, they felt like real baseball players playing for a real team. When that "newness" wore off, however, the team reverted back to their talent level and winning percentage from the year before. Bowden took a chance by trading for Guillen and signing Castilla, Guzman and Loiaza. Loiaza was a good move, Guillen is hitting well but murmurs are beginning in the clubhouse about his attitude [just ask Brad Wilkerson] and Guzman and Castilla make up the worst left side of the infield in the major leagues. I too thought they were good moves at the time and, perhaps, they were the only moves that Bowden could have made with a limited payroll and a dirth of talent in the minor leagues.
So now what? If the Nationals sweep the Astros beginning tonight, they'll likely be back in first place for the Wild Card birth. If they are swept, however, they will be likely too far out to make any serious attempt at winning any post season birth. That's what happens when you don't have an offense.
There are no players worthwhile enough to pick off the waiver wire this late in the season. That leaves only the minor leagues, which has only a few players capable of one day playing in the major leagues. I make this guarantee: Ryan Zimmerman will be playing 3rd base for the Nationals THIS YEAR. Ian Desmond is starting to hit at Potomac; he likely will see a call up in September so Bowden and Frank Robinson can gauge how far he's progressed since he turned so many heads during spring training. Matt Cepicky has been sent back down to the minor leagues for the second time this year, which likely means that the 27 year old will not see the major leagues again in a Nationals uniform. Taking his position will be Zephyr Brandon Watson, who was batting .282 with 9 home runs and 59 RBI's in New Orleans. He has a .335 on base percentage and a .425 slugging percent, not exactly star numbers, which shows again the lack of talent at AAA New Orleans.
Big changes are in store for the Nationals. Further, it they end the season the way they're playing now, I doubt that either Frank Robinson or Jim Bowden will be retained. This is hard to imagine saying now, but that magical .500 finish that would have been difficult to swallow just a month ago is now looking questionable. I'm fine with that if they play the kids and see just who can and can't play. But I won't be terribly happy with 75 wins while Vinny and Guzman are still patrolling the infield.
Let's hope that things change beginning tonight. But don't count on it.
Ok, I'm confused. The Minor League Baseball website has Watson's stats in New Orleans as:
.355 average, .401 OBP, SLG of .421 with 114 hits in 321 AB in 75 games and 27 SB. 2005 combined minors: 467 AB and 150 hits, which still gives him an average of .321 (and 34 SB and 17 CS).
Also, I seem to have Watson down as having 1 HR, not 9, and 20 RBI, not 59 in AAA (adding AA only gives him 6 additional RBI).
Were there two Watson's on that AAA team, and am I looking at the wrong one?
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