Yet another Geology test precludes me from spending the appropriate amount of time dissecting the Nationals loss to the Rockies, but there are a few things that need to be considered. To wit:
It's been nice having Jose Guillen back in the starting lineup, though he did go 0-3 against Josh Fogg last night. He'll hit; that's not a concern. What is a concern, however, is his defense. Twice, he ran (or tried to run) towards the gap to snare a drive, and twice, he showed up too late, limping on his gimpy hamstring. A healthy Guillen makes both of those catches easily, and who knows if those two outs would have made any difference in the outcome of the game. Hamstring injuries are problematic; they can take weeks to mend, and running around the expansive RFK outfield is going to add additional time to his "get well" calendar. It's sad that, in his contract year, Guillen just can't get healthy and earn some real baseball dollars. He's not, after all, going to be signed by another team for his personality.
The boys on the Rockies broadcast kept mentioning what a good second baseman Jose Vidro "was." Was? Sadly, they are probably right. Just a few weeks ago, the 31 year old was able to sprint hither and yon with little trouble. Any limp was hardly noticable and only in the late innings of the occasional game. Now, the limp is common, and his home-to-first speed is Frank Howard-esque. His defensive range is so poor that he makes the routine play look exceptional. Brendan Harris, no great glove-man, looks like a stud at second compared to Vidro. It's really a shame. His bat can still hit .330, but his knees will probably suck 50 points or so off that average before the season is done. Of all the Nats, he is the one I want the most "good things" for. He stuck with the team during the very worst, and now, when those "good things" could finally be bestowed upon him, his age and injuries have robbed him of his "special" qualities.
Mike O'Connor got whacked hard for the first time this season. What's strange is that for his first five or so innings, he was unhittable. Strike after strike after strike dribbled, drabbled and dropped over the plate. I was watching the game on our local (Idaho local) Rocky Mountain SportsNet channel, and Rockies' announcer George Frazier made an interesting observation about O'Connor. "O'Connor is having a great rookie year, but there is a key to his success; it comes in the first five innings or so. He gets the batters out the first and second time through the lineup, but by the time the batters face him for the third time, they figure him out. If he holds true to form, he'll blank the Rockies until the 5th or 6th inning, when they should break through for some runs."
He was right, of course, and this observation might become the Achilles heel of young Mr. O'Connor. He's averaging only 5.3 innings per outing, not because he begins to tire, but rather because the opposition starts to make sense of his "junk." If this is true, that O'Connor can only be counted on for five or six innings, might he be of better use in the bullpen and not in the starting rotation?
We'll see. For now, Tuesday's loss was but one loss in a 162 game season. Hopefully, he'll go eight innings or so his next time out and put all of this to rest.
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