Nationals Review

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Offseason Blogging: A Quasi-Scoop!

Chris has been following the final week drive for #15, which guarantees a team will not lose its first round pick as free agent compensation. The Nats tied for this with Milwaukee at 81-81. So, who gets screwed?

Baseball America has the answer!

The determination is by previous year record, so the Nats win! (lose?) They're #15! No losing of the first-round pick! Yay!

Hat Tip (MetsGeek).

Thursday, August 25, 2005

An Article of Note

This week's Washington City Paper has a wonderful profile of Baseball Prospectus writer Chris Kahrl.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Game Recap: Houston 4, Washington 1, 14 innings

Having been at RFK for this one, I've decided to point out some of the interesting things I saw, in a reasonable chronological order.

- The game was Armed Forces Day, making this the third game out of four that I've been to with a military theme feel (Memorial Day, July Fourth). The national anthem and G-d Bless America were sung by Caleb White, who impressed me very much with his quick pace and deep bass voice. I appreciate those things.

- The top of the first was notable for the Orlando Palmeiro steal. With Gary Bennett catching, it made things easier to run, although the Astros haven't been afraid all series. It's a nice skill to have, but the Nats simply don't have it. It also took John Patterson 27 pitches to get through the inning, so I figured he might make it through six.

- Wandy Rodriguez was pitching for the Astros, starting the day with an ERA north of 6. Brad Wilkerson doubled on the third pitch, but was stranded. Rodriguez retired 13 in a row after Wilkerson's double. The next two batters were Marlon Byrd's double and Bennett's RBI single.

- This was followed by Cristian Guzman's inning-ending double play. For the game, 0-2, 3 outs made.

- The Astros picked up two doubles on bad fielding by the Nats. The first was Palmeiro's in the third, in which Preston Wilson ran back, then right, then forward and missed the ball with a dive by about a foot. Then, in the sixth, Lance Berkman hit a ball to the wall, Byrd misjudged the wall, made an awkward leap and missed, leading to the Astros' first run two long fly balls later.

- Rodriguez was pulled in the eighth after walking Byrd. Chad Qualls was brought in, Bennett laid down a nice bunt, Mike Lamb threw the ball away, and it was now first and third with out. Frank then pinch-hit for Guzman with Brian Schneider and pinch-ran for Bennett with Kenny Kelly. Both moves are defensible, although Kelly's run is less important, Bennett's gone anyway with Schneider PHing, and I don't think that PHing for Guzman needs a defense.

- The question here now is, if you were playing for one run before, why stop? Why not try to suicide squeeze to get Byrd in? The offense is anemic anyway. But Schneider hit away, and hit a soft chopper to second. With the infield in, Kelly advanced, and Schneider was out. One out.

- Here now is the head scratcher. Patterson has recovered beautifully since the first, and is a pretty good bunter. Jamey Carroll has to come in to play short anyway, so if you want to PH, you might want him out there; he's also a good bunter. Again, it's the eighth. You can play for one run. And yet, Frank sends up Ryan Church, presumably to hit a long fly ball. He fails, grounding out to the pitcher. Wilkerson then strikes out to end the inning.

- Note: Frank's now exhausted the bench to just Vinny Castilla, available presumably only in emergencies.

- Chad Cordero throws 12 pitches in the ninth. With an off-day, you'd think he'd go two. Instead, the already overworked Luis Ayala comes in in the tenth. Then Mike Stanton for 2/3 inning. Then Gary Majewski for 1 and a 1/3.

- Meanwhile, remember that emergency? Yeah, Jose Guillen just got injured on a hit-by-pitch. Pinch runner: Ryan Drese. New defensive alignment: Vinny to third, Baerga to first, Wilkerson to right. Other than the HBP, of course, Dan Wheeler is blowing through the Nats' lineup.

- Chris Burke would get hit by a pitch, so Guillen can be happy his pitchers are defending him.

- Move to the top of the 14th, Hector Carrasco in his second inning of work, and with only the dead-armed from Friday Sun-Woo Kim and Joey Eischen left out there, Carrasco's finishing this game no matter how long it goes. He puts two guys on right away, then gives up a scary line drive to pinch-hitting pitcher Brandon Backe, in which Brad Wilkerson almost gets a double play by doubling Jose Vizcaino off of first. Then professional slap hitter Eric Bruntlett squeaked one over the left-field fence. 4-1 Astros.

- Eight Brad Lidge pitches later, drive home safely.

It was the eighth that was the most frustrating, because those are the types of innings that were scoring runs in June. Now, not so much. And here comes an important six-day stretch at Atlanta and Florida which is going to say a lot about where this team is going to be come September.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Run Distribution and the Nationals

Over at The Hardball Times, Dave Studeman has been looking at the effects of run distribution on a team's record versus their expected record based on runs scored and runs allowed (the Pythagorean record). The best case of this this year is our Nationals who sit a whopping 14 games over .500 despite having allowed more runs than they've scored. As previously pointed out here and on other Nats blogs, a lot of this is due to the bullpen torching by Joe Horgan and Antonio Osuna early in the season. Here are the raw numbers, as of Tuesday night's game.

RunsTimes Scored

The above linked article (which you should probably read first if you're going to continue with this post) points out the expected winning percentage for each number of runs scored, and that the most important runs are numbers 2 through 5. The Nats exceed the expected winning percentage at every run value except for 4 runs, where they have a .400 winning percentage versus an expected winning percentage of .471.
The Nats have a perfect record when they score 6 runs or more, and are a stagerring 10-2 when they score 5 runs.

Some of this is probably due to the "pitching to the score" that Livan Hernandez and Chad Cordero have demonstrated so well. Per the THT article, adding up the offensive expected winning percentage only comes to 34 wins, 11 short of the actual number. This confirms what Nats fans have known for a while: the rest of the season is going to rely heavily on the pitching.

I'm going to keep tracking this, and will post periodically on these numbers.

(And no, I can't figure out how to get rid of that giant space. Sorry.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Brief Foray into Politics

One thing that riles me up the most is an op-ed column that is completely devoid of logic. They appear regularly in papers across the country, from both ideological sides. But today's op-ed by Richard Cohen (usually a decent, if lazy, columnist) is so sloppy with facts that I had to e-mail him, and blog about it. It's a slam at conservatives for the popularity of Ed Klein's new book trashing Hillary Clinton. I haven't read the book, it sounds like a collection of sleaze but if Cohen had done any research, he'd find that most conservatives are either trashing the book or ignoring it. Here's my letter:


You cite the popularity of Ed Klein’s new biography on Hillary Clinton as proof that conservatives “will buy anything, no matter how badly done, that attacks the Clintons or liberalism” even as you conveniently ignore (except for the brief Economist reference) that most conservatives, from Peggy Noonan to John Podhoretz have trashed the book in print. Nevermind the fact that, in all likelihood, a good number of the purchasers of the anti-Hillary tome aren’t died-in-the-wool conservatives.

In July 2004, you called Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9/11 “farrago of conspiracy theories” and “silly and so incomprehensible.” His movie, of course, was tops at the box office – propelled by many liberal Democrats eager to see a specious attack on our president – and our country. Likewise, hisbooks have consistently reached the top of the bestseller list. Are you going to condemn the many Democratic Congressional attendees of his movie and the many liberals who purchased his books and paid to see his movie?

I’m disappointed to see you misrepresent the conservative reaction to the book, and lazily insinuate that the popularity of the book is attributable to conservatives. Conservatives, in general, like to promote individual responsibility, and it would have been nice if you placed the blame on this trashy book directly where it lies: on Ed Klein himself. Instead, you take another cheap pot-shot at conservatives, who –- if you’ve done any research –- have not praised this book. Sounds like Hillary Clinton herself, in fact: blaming a liberal’s criticism of her on that vast-right wing conspiracy.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Another 5-4 Win!

The Nats won yesterday, 5-4, completing a successful 5-4 road trip against the Angels, Rangers and Buccos and today the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that "local governments may seize people's homes and businesses -- even against their will -- for private economic development." This presumably will make it easier for the city to buy off the assortment of strip clubs and isolated homes around the Southeast ballpark site for the new ballpark.

At first glance, I'm not a big fan of the ruling, even though it may be one of those good policy, bad judicial logic type of decisions. (i.e. Roe v. Wade, to abortion rights advocates) It seems to give arbitrary power for governments to seize land without giving enough consideration But then again, I'm no expert on eminent domain law, so check out smart lawblogs (like Volokh) for more insightful commentary on the decision.

Some tough roster decisions will have to be made in the upcoming days. Travis Hughes has been great in his two appearances with the club, so when Joey Eischen returns from the DL at month's end, one of Ryan Drese, Hughes or Sunny Kim will have to be sent down. I'd bet Hughes would be the odd-man out, but I'd like to see him a bit longer with the Nats.

When Jose Vidro is activated off the 15-day DL -- perhaps as early as tomorrow -- one of the Nats' trio of utility infielders will have to be sent down. I'd say the no-brainer candidate is sub-.100 hitter Wil Cordero. He's contributed absolutely nothing to the team all year and I doubt his "chemistry" points will push him ahead of Jamey Carroll or Carlos Baerga.

Final note: ESPN Radio dissed the Nats again this morning with Steve Phillips' NL top five power ranking. No mention of the Nats at all, but the Braves placed #2, the Marlins #3, and the Phils #5. Where's the love?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Breaking Nats News

Fresh off the wires...

The Nats trade Tomo Ohka to the Brewers and get 2B Junior Spivey. Also, Jeffrey Hammonds retires and Sunny Kim moves into the starting rotation, presumably tonight against the M's. Trader Jim also picks up former Rangers ace Ryan Drese off waivers.

Short-term, this looks like a good deal. But now, our vaunted pitching depth has vanished with Jon Rauch injured, Claudio Vargas released and Tomo Ohka traded.

Ryan Drese is a real gamble. He had some solid minor league peripheral numbers, but his 2004 season was pretty much smoke and mirrors; he's been awful this season. Perhaps a change from hitter-friendly Ameriquest Field to RFK will do him some good.