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[July 5th] -- Look, there are going to be games like this, and there isn't a thing we can do about it. You chalk it up to "get-eveness;" you know, we've had three walk-off home runs in 2 1/2 weeks, so things evened out tonight. It's just a loss, and a lot less painful than a 1-0 setback.

Mike O'Connor was pulled from the game in the second inning after allowing two more runners to reach base without retiring a batter. In one "official" inning, O'Connor gave up five runs on four hits, two of them long home runs. So, did Frank Robinson pull O'Connor so early because it was readily apparent that the kid just "didn't have it," or did he pull him so quickly because he didn't want to damage his psyche any further? At this stage of the season, one more loss (especially after four straight wins) won't change anything. My guess is that Robinson still has high hopes for O'Connor and didn't want him to impale on his own statistics.

Should Robinson still have confidence in his young pitcher? I don't know. His motion is herky-jerky, and his stuff is slow and slobbery, so it might have taken a while for the league to get a "fix" on his repetoir. Maybe National Leaguers now know what to expect, and the tide has turned. O'Connor had back-to-back bad outings for the first time this year (though to be fair, he's only had three bad starts all year). That said, he's now 3-6 and his ERA has ballooned to 4.32. Now that Pedro Astacio is back, and Tony Armas will be back later this week, and with Ryan Drese about to begin pitching his rehab assignments, will Robinson and GM Jim Bowden stay the course with the kids, or will they restock the rotation with wheezers and geezers? An interesting dilemma to be sure.

I was going to write something about the bullpen's effort, but, NAH .... I'll pass

With Ryan Zimmerman having slumped after his last two 9th inning home runs (vs Billy Wagner and Jay Seo), I was curious to see how he'd do tonight. No worries. Zimmerman got three hits and raised his average to .283. Soriano and Vidro also got three hits and Royce Clayton got two, upping his average over .270 for the first time this year. I'm telling you, Clayton is going to be in big demand in another week or so -- there aren't many veteran shortstops on the market who are hitting .270 and are playing with a near-minimum contract. He could bring a decent prospect. A few years ago, when I was still a Braves fan, John Scheurholtz traded for shortstop Jose Hernandez, then playing with the Brewers. They Braves gave up three mid-level draft picks. While none of them became stars, they all at least got to the major leagues. Why can't Jim Bowden do that?

What? Because he's not John Scheurholtz you say? Wicked, man. Wicked.

And now this: The Washington Post is reporting that our friend Alfonso Soriano wants to stay in Washington after all. He says he likes the youth of the team and the direction of the new owners. In a couple of years, he says, he'll like the new stadium too. And if the Nats keep him but don't sign him before the season is over? Well, says Soriano, "If they don't do nothing now, in three months, they would be the first team that I want to come to because I feel comfortable here." It seems that his being chosen a starting all-star "outfielder" has made him feel much more comfortable about remaining in left-field.

Amazing. Some "insiders" said that there would be ZERO chance of retaining the mecurial outfielder (I have no idea what that means, but the word seems to fit, doesn't it?), if Jim Bowden was handed the long-term GM job. I guess those "insiders" aren't very bright, huh? A five year, $50 million dollar deal earlier this year didn't entice the guy, so what would it take now? Five year, $60 million? Probably. But does the team want to tie up that much money in one player? I mean, that's three Brian Schneiders or two Nick Johnson's and a bunch of bench players. I don't know if he's worth those many Washington National dollars, especially if they take away from the other players to sign him. Now, if the signing of Soriano had no effect on the rest of the team, then sure, go for it. It'll be interesting to see what happens ....

I've got a new theory, in re Soriano. I've read that he has never liked to be traded away from any team he was on. My theory is that this is a guy who, likeable as he is, forms strong team-mate bonds and loyalty to whatever team he's playing on. Seems like he doesn't have the emotional makeup to put it all down to the business of baseball and just look out for number one. I think it's a thoroughly admirable and charming quality. Be great if we could keep him around, for reasons I mentioned on BPG.
What's the over/under until there is a ESPN Deportes article quoting Soriano about how anxious he is to sign as a free agent with a team that wants him at 2B?

I put little credence in any of the posturing from either Soriano or the Nats. He's going to want to test the free agent market in realistically his one shot a big payday. His advisor is going to recommend he not commit to just one team in the bidding process.

If that is the case, you have to strongly consider trading him. If there is a legitimate offer out there, the Nationals should deal him with hopes he is serious and leaves the door open for a return to Washington
So Alphonso wants to stay and he's going to give the Nats first crack at paying him $60 million over four years. No thanks. Soriano hits some home runs and he steals some bases but his fielding is seriously flawed and his knowledge of the strike zone is non existent. I still say, trade him before the deadline for one or two top prospects.
Farid, Who would need Clayton? Just about every team that comes to mind is well stocked at that position.
Farid: I think O'Connor was a very good story, but, having seen him pitch 5 times at RFK Stadium, he just doesn't have good stuff. He can't locate pitches and change speeds well enough to be effective against good major league hitters. Most of his pitches can't reach 80MPH. Livan could get away with it when he was going well (obviously Livo can't do it now), but Mike doesn't have the arsenal to make it work for him. And, that's too bad, he and his parents have been great to the fans at RFK this season. He might be back after the trading deadline, but he may well not be in the Nats Future. Too bad.
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