NATS LOSE, BUT THE FUTURE WINS
First, did they win? Yes? Cool. No? Well, did they lose "gracefully?" Not on Monday. Okay, down to question number four: "How'd the kids do?" Ahah! Good news, even in a blowout loss.
Ryan Zimmerman went 2-4 with a home run and an RBI. Even better, he didn't strikeout once (which has to be some sort of record). Zimmerman's batting average, once the sole sore spot on his otherwise stellar first year resume, is now a positive. Zimmerman leads all National League rookies in home runs and RBI's, and is 5th in batting average. Prince Fielder is the kid's main competition for top rookie honors, and although he has a higher batting average (.324), he also has many more strikeouts and plays first base worse than his father Cecil did (as if that's possible). Unless he gets hit by a bus, or he begins reading his own press clippings, he certainly should be the odds-on-favorite to nab the award come October.
Mike O'Connor pitched well before he got whacked on the ankle, ending his effort prematurely at five innings plus a batter. He gave up two runs, but Gary Majewski was feeling generous Monday and served up a three run homer to Ryan Howard, allowing O'Connor's last run. Seven starts into his young career and he has yet to allow more than three runs in any game. He lost and is now 2-3. No sweat. His ERA "jumped" from 2.65 to 3.00 (Thanks Gary!) ... who cares. Something wonderful happened on Monday. O'Connor's only problem so far this season is his propensity to walk too many batters and strike out too few. Against the Phillies, the kid struck out five in five innings while walking no one.
This isn't going to be a season that will be judged by wins and losses; well, at least it shouldn't be. I'm fully prepared to watch the Nationals lose battle after battle, as long as they win the war. What's the war? Well, the war is the process of putting together a team that will not just be good in a few years, but great. Every time Ryan Zimmerman hits a homer or makes a superb catch at third, each time that Mike O'Connor gives up less than four runs each time he takes the mound, we win. If O'Connor and Shawn Hill and the rest of the Zephyrs and Senators pitchers show promise at RFK this year, Stan Kasten and the Lerners have one less problem to deal with this off season. While I agree that the Nationals have one of the worst minor league systems in the big leagues, they do have several players who could make an impact in the next few years, and, in this case, quality over quantity might just be enough to make a difference.So, while the Nationals lost on Sunday, the future won, and that, my friends, is a really good thing.
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