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NATS FALL DOWN 3-2

[July 7th] -- I'm not going to say too much about Friday's game, mainly because it was pretty "blah" and also because I left in the third inning to take my wife to go see "Click," a very funny movie (but why, why does Adam Sandler always have to throw in the gratuitous sex in his movies? I mean, I can't take my kids to go see it. Oh well.

Allow me this whimsy before taking a look at Friday's game. I was looking at the standings in the National League East, and sitting at the top is the New York Mets with a 51-35 record. I guess when you have Billy Wagner, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Belran and a handful of all-stars, you're going to be the top team in the division. Of course, just a year ago, the Washington Nationals, with the third lowest payroll in the National League, had that same 51-35 record, and that was after the team had lost four out of five. My, those were heady days.

The only important storyline to come out of this game was Frank Robinson being forced by a worn-out bullpen to bat Ramon Ortiz in the 5th inning with the bases loaded with only one out. Had either Mike O'Connor or Livan Hernandez been able to go deep(er) into the game, Frank would have been able to pinch-hit for Ortiz, and who knows what might have happened. That said, remember that the team sent down a pitcher on Thursday (O'Connor) and replaced him with a position player (Escobar) so perhaps there is more blame to go around then Frank is willing to admit.

I don't understand how this team is six games over .500 and the Nationals are hovering around ten games below that mark. Of their starting eight position players, only shortstop Khalil Greene, centerfielder Mike Cameron and rightfielder Brian Giles would start on the Nationals. Their starting pitching staff of Jake Peavy (4-8, 4.46), Chris Young (7-4, 3.13), Clay Hensely (5-6, 4.16) Chan Ho Park (6-4, 4.29) and Woody Williams (4-1, 2.98) is better than the Nationals', but not by that much. Remember, last year the Padres had about the same record as Washington, but won their division. Strange, huh?

Do you remember the trade that almost was last December between the Padres and Nationals? Jim Bowden pulled the trigger on a deal that would have sent Terrmel Sledge and a minor leaguer to San Diego for outfielder Dave Roberts. I wrote then that, although I liked Sledge very much, Roberts would certainly fix the team's "top of the lineup" problem. We should have made the deal. Roberts is batting .291 with a .364 on-base percentage and 21 stolen bases. Who said that the best deals are the ones you don't make? On the positive side, our friend Ryan Zimmerman got a hit for the 8th consecutive game.

Oh well, win some, lose some. The Nats face Chris Young, another "former" franchise member on Saturday. Omar Minaya traded him to Texas for ..... Einar Diaz. Diaz was released after the 2004 season because, in Robinson's words, "he just wasn't a major league catcher." Young, on the other hand, won 13 games for Texas last year and is 7-4 this year with the Padres. I guess the best trades ARE the ones you don't make.

Hey, wait a minute: I said that the best deals being the ones you don't make. I should have known that.

Good night Phil Dunn, where ever you are.....

Comments:
Three reasons they are above .500 and the Nats are not
1) You'd also start Mike Piazza over Brian Schneider. The differene in offense is still enough

2) Their starting pitching is not great but doesn't have any weak spots and therefore is about .8 runs better than the Nats, who have dealt with injuries, a couple of bad starters and Livan.

3) The (arguably) have the best relief pithing in the league
 
I agree with all but the first principle, "el gran."

In my view, no way do I trade the top defensive catcher in the NL for a guy in his mid to late 30's who is roundly known as the worst defensive catcher in the league. I mean, he's so bad that they tried making him a first baseman, but he couldn't field there very well either. I didn't make those choices based on just today, but rather the team's future over the next four years. Schneider will still be one of the premier defensive catchers in the league in 2010 while Piazza will be long retired.

I'm with you on the other two, though. The Padres have the #1 ERA in the NL, but, based on their starter's numbers, it must be their relief corps that is so good.

Good post and thanks.
 
Yeah, I was talking about this year only. Right now Piazza would start for the Nats, but I agree with you I wouldn't trade Schneider for Piazza unless I was going for the playoffs in 2006 (which the Nats are obviously not).
 
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