Monday, February 28, 2005

Learn the faces

Now that there are official pictures showing most of our players in Red, White, Blue and Gold, let's take a real look at the main characters!

The starting rotation:
Livan HernandezEsteban LoaizaTony Armas, Jr.
Tomo OhkaZach Day

The infield:
C: Brian Schneider1B: Nick Johnson2B: Jose Vidro
SS: Cristian Guzman3B: Vinny Castilla

The probable outfield:
LF: Brad WilkersonCF: Endy ChavezRF: Jose Gullen

The cream of the bullpen:
Chad CorderoLuis AyalaAntonio Osuna
Jon RauchJohn Patterson

People I'd much rather see in the outfield than Endy Chavez:
Terrmel Sledge Alex Escobar Ryan Church


Particularly when you move to a town that wants you, it's got to be easy to smile before the losses start to pile up! Still, too many of them can't manage it. I can see why Endy Chavez is smiling, but how about Sledge??

Saturday, February 26, 2005

All Nationals

As a blogger, I'm finding spring training to be frustrating, as the articles keep flowing, without any real content. The only things I've learned of note over the past few days is that MLB and Angelos are close to a deal (one that will be unfair to the Nationals) and the radio announcers will be Charlie Slowes (formerly the Wizards announcer) and Dave Shea (formerly the Bruins announcer... we can guess why he's making the move over to baseball).

I do have an announcement of my own. On March 15th, I'm going to be leaving blogger and joining the team over at All-Baseball. The blogspot web address will just point to the old posts, but the nationalspastime.com URL will follow me over there.

I've always thought highly of the team that All-Baseball fields. I've been a daily reader of several of the blogs, particularly Bronx Banter. I know that some of my fellow Nats' bloggers like to knock Will Carroll, but, though he's made mistakes as pretty much all men have, I've always found his writing interesting, particularly his "under the knife" series over at Baseball Prospectus.

Anyway, I'm itching for something to analyze, but (unless something substantial happens) I'll probably return after the weekend to report on more scraps of largely uninteresting news!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The lights are on...


Here are more pictures of the RFK construction from NatsFanY2K.

There's not much of note going on, as the team marches toward its first spring training game, one week from today. Here's a rundown of everything that's even remotely notable:

Monday, February 21, 2005

Jose Rijo's home for wayward boys

The mound of reading material that reporters are producing is doubling daily. How many articles will there be to read in 64 days at that rate? According to the Times, Sports Illustrated is going to add to the pile, as they're doing a story on F-Rob, and there's a good chance he and the Nats will beat out the Daytona 500 for this week's cover.

There were lots of items that were mildly interesting at best for people who follow the team obsessively. Much of it you probably know, but there were some juicy tidbits scattered about.

Hopefully, regular readers know that everyone hopes the 2003 Loaiza shows up and that on-base percentage is a problem, particularly with Chavez and Guzman. We know that CF is a bit of a question mark, and that, if Chavez chokes and Escobar or someone else does well, Chavez might not make the cut (we can only hope). We should all know that defense isn't much of a concern.

It's nice to see Bowden paying attention to pitching prospects, but that's not too interesting.

There were new profiles that may be worth a read. The Times looks atJeffery Hammonds(who has absolutely no shot at a major league spot), and the official site looks at Chad Cordero, Esteban Loaiza and Zach Day, who really wants to remain a starter.

Several sources reported that Guzman will have a continual green light to steal more bases than he has in the past. We'll see how that works out. Francis Beltran is shut down, at least until an MRI is done on his sore elbow. His odds of making the team just went down by 90%, leaving them squarely at 0.

F-Rob did an interview with MLB.com, where he admits that Rauch, Patterson and Hinkley are probably not going to make the rotation. If they do well, he'll be wary that it's "fool's gold". It does seem from F-Rob's words that Day is the default, and it would be tough to unseat him.

The Times has an article covering an interesting potpourri of things overheard during spring training. I think that was the one article I really enjoyed end-to-end this weekend.

But, the most interesting thing I picked up came from the bottom of this article. Apparently, Jose Rijo has a huge baseball academy with eight baseball fields in his back yard in San Cristobal. It's now the official Nats acadamy, replacing the one in Santo Domingo. Apparently, these facilities are much better. I'm impressed that the Rijo strategy is already progressing fairly far. Hopefully, this will pay off reasonable dividends within a few years.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Check out the stadium

NatsFanY2K, a regular poster to the Ballpark Guys forum and a ticket office employee, posted some current photos of the construction, such as this one:

I've been traveling this week, and it's been difficult to keep up with the sea of articles. It's rough, because many of them are mostly content free, but still interesting for the quotes from players that give insight into the people who are coming to town.

The Post reveals some on-the field news today. For example (see bottom): Vargas isn't participating in all drills due to tendinitis. Vargas had a bad year last year, and this problem cropped up in winter ball. Even if he were healthy now, his odds of making the pen out of spring training were a long shot. He's more likely to see some action if he can recover and then tear up AAA.

Additionally, in their profile of Chad Corderro, they reveal that Robinson is worried about Cordero mentally if he's the sole closer, so there's a chance he won't have the job full time going out of spring training. It could be Ayala, or more likely, the two of them will share the duties.

Bill Ladson, the MLB beat writer, has been as busy as the Post in taking a look at players. He's got detailed profiles on Livan Hernandez, Jose Vidro and Brian Schneider.
He also looks briefly at Tony Armas, Jr.

According to the Washington Post's spring training blog, Livan Hernandez and J.J. Davis reported today. Also, they mention that Loaiza had a bit of back stiffness yesterday, but it isn't considered serious.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Nats ink radio deal

The Nats agreed to a 1 year radio deal today. Z104 (104.1 FM) will carry all but 40 games, missing only workday games. WFED (1050 AM) will broadcast all 162 games, but they have a weak signal. Of course, all will be broadcast on XM radio, as well.

From the sound of it, the Nationals are paying for the airtime, but get to keep ad revenue.

Ex-expos dream team?

If you haven't seen it, Barry Svrluga and Matt Lee of the Washington Post have started a blog documenting spring training. They're giving people a great inside look at the team. They've got such a good inside perspective on the team, as a fan I can't help but hope they keep it up after spring training. Svrluga clearly likes to work, and here's his profile on Tony Armas, Jr. Here's another article Svrluga wrote for today's Post, in which we learn what everybody expected, that Livan Hernandez will probably be the opening day starter.

Reader Backward K sent in the following:
Here is one waste-of-time project that I started on an airplane that I think you might get a kick out of.

Compose the best 25-man roster you can of former Expos/Nationals.
Roster should be appropriately balanced, players must currently be on 40-man roster of another squad.

Here's mine:

OF: Vlad Guerrero, Milton Bradley, Moises Alou
IF: Cliff Floyd, Mark Grudzielanek, Orlando Cabrera, Chris Truby
C: Michael Barrett, Raul Chavez
Bench: Larry Walker (lefty pinch hitter), Carl Everett, Juan Rivera, and Mike Mordecai (back-up IF)

Starting Pitchers: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Javier Vazquez, Bartolo Colon, Carl Pavano

Relief Pitchers:
Ted Lilly (long relief lefty, spot starter) Dustin Hermanson (righty) Steve Kline (lefty) Rheal Cormier (lefty) Matt Herges (lefty)

Set-Up: Guillermo Mota
Closer: Ugueth Urbina

The bullpen is loaded with lefties (without regard for arm, I would have put in Graeme Lloyd instead of Hermanson, but I felt I needed at least one righty in middle-relief.) But given righties Mota and Urbina as the set-up and closer, it is not bad to have a mess of lefties in the other slots.

Raul Chavez is the only back-up catcher I could find that is still around. Chris Truby is a bit of a stretch at 3B; the only other choice I could find was Geoff Blum. All of a sudden, Vinny Castilla does not seem so bad anymore!

In general, this "alternative universe" outfield looks very strong and the pitching staff is a dream. It is, of course, a $200 million/year salary team. The infield is not that good, however, which surprised me.
Our current infield is clearly better, especially if Vidro and Johnson are healthy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Thumb twiddling

There was a whole lot of nothing in the news today. The only things I found interesting were in this article. Apparently, Vidro is well on track to making opening day... he is fielding grounders every other day. And, Hernandez and Osuna did not report yesterday, for apparently legitimate reasons. Hernandez will be in by Friday, but no word on Osuna, who is taking care of his sick father in Mexico.

Oh, and the Post looks at the rotation. It's a good look, and I like the implication that Rauch is the front-runner for the 5th spot. Nothing in here should be a surprise to regular readers, it basically says that there are a lot of unknowns due to injury.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Spring training begins

Spring training starts today. The Post is chock full of articles today, mainly thanks to Barry Svrluga (I wonder if he gets any sleep). First, they point out how the team and the city still don't really know each other yet. To get to know them, they offer a list of 10 Nats to watch. The one Nat everyone should know is Frank Robinson, who is "ready for the long run".

Svrluga even does a profile on the Nats Fan Club, saying primarily that, while many of the members know very little about their team, they are nonetheless extremely happy to have them.

Apparently, Svrluga was slacking off, because it took a second reporter to cover another potential ownership group.

But wait, the Post has still more Nats content: Boswell welcomes spring training. And, they have a 'capsule' look at every team in baseball coming into spring training, broken into spring training league. Here's the grapefruit capsule and the cactus capsule.

PS: See if you can decipher the notation in this image from the Post (click for larger image):

Monday, February 14, 2005

Virginia gets Nationals, will build stadium

No, this isn't a joke post. The Potomac Cannons changed their name last night to the Potomac Nationals, and announced that they will build a new stadium in Woodbridge, right by the old one. The new logo and uniforms were unveiled, but I've seen no pictures yet.

The Post also looks at the NL East, predicting a last place finish for the Nats, which is a pretty safe bet. I think it's amusing to see pretty much every publication pick Atlanta to win the division, since they got so badly burned by picking Philly last year. I will go out on a limb and predict that the Braves will not take the division... I suspect the Mets will.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Washington's own Barry Larkin

Barry Larkin is officially retired as a player, but is now Special Assistant to the GM. Welcome, Barry!

Minor trade

The Nationals have swapped injury-prone outfielders with the White Sox, acquiring Alex Escobar in exchange for prospect Jerry Owens.

Owens has been less injury prone, and is almost a waste of a minor league roster spot. PECOTA projected him for 324 at bats and a paltry .233 AVG/.286 OBP/.297 SLG, good for a -16.6 VORP. With the outfield log jam, this guy would have been lucky to see one AB, but the point is, he sucks.

Escobar is absent from PECOTA projections, and it's not clear why (he's going to be ready for spring training). As the article said, he had definitely been considered a top prospect, at least before all of his injuries.

Despite making the outfield log jam even worse, Escobar is definitely going to make the 25-man roster. There's now close to no chance that people like Ryan Church and J.J. Davis will get a bench slot (which is better for their personal development). Escobar is a much needed right-hander off the bench, and he might even do well enough that Robinson will platoon him with Sledge or Chavez.

The Sox made this trade because they were going to have to put Escobar on waivers to try to send him down to the minors when he finally comes off the DL in a couple of days. He'd get picked up for sure, so they are at least trying to get something for the loss.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Lots left to be done

Here's a good article that touches on the large number of little things still left to do, such as select a mascot, find a cleaning crew, and get a tax ID. The operations side of the house clearly has their work cut out for them.

Pitchers, catchers and Vidro report on Tuesday... there should be more to talk about soon!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Slim Pickins

The team has announced partial season ticket plans. The good news is that people who are on the MLB.com Nationals mailing list by 11AM (or were on the old WBC list) get early access, having the right to buy starting Thursday at 12:01AM. The general public will get their crack starting on Valentine's Day. Of course, there's nothing except 400 and 500 level tickets.

Apparently, if they can get him a visa, there's a good chance that the Expos' old radio announcer will be the radio announcer. And in the lead for a radio deal is now Infinity Broadcasting, who would put them on WJFK.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Interview with USA Today's Paul White

Paul White, USA Today Sports Weekly Senior Editor, was kind enough to agree to an interview. Despite the fact that I let my biases show through in the questioning (which I will avoid in the future), I think you will enjoy it-- Paul's answers are deeply insightful.

NP: Cristian Guzman has been rumored to have a poor work ethic, and a resulting weight problem that is affecting his speed. Is this true?


PW: It's no secret the Twins were unhappy with his development. He made little progress at the plate (backslid, actually) and never has been able to overcome the inconsistency that's not so unusual for young shortstops because the guys who get to play shortstop are the best athletes with the best tools and haven't really honed the rest of their skills. Guzman is a quiet guy and often, especially with Latin players, that leads to speculation that is as much stereotyping as it is analysis. Guys who haven't become completely comfortable with the language and the culture often withdraw when they're going through tough periods and too many Americans have a tendency to decide that the players are somehow bad guys. Regardless of the reasons, he often appears pretty emotionless on the field.


All that said, Guzman hasn't been able to apply all the things to make a guy with his tools better. He hasn't learned how to become a basestealer to the point he seems to have little confidence trying to steal. He has had knee problems, which is a factor. He hasn't been able to do much with a poor on-base percentage, which could be a factor of another problem that could become worse in Washington - his general approach at the plate. He seems to have gotten mixed messages along the way, including the idea that becoming a slap hitter reminiscent of the old Cardinals teams of Willie McGee and Vince Coleman would help him on the turf in the Metrodome. It probably created some infield hits, but he seldom drives the ball and slaps at everything, including balls out of the strike zone.


NP: Guzman has a reputation for being good on defense, but not all advanced defensive metrics agree, several ranking him below average. What can we expect on defense, really?


PW: More of the inconsistency. He's an incredibly exciting player ... sometimes. Any reputation for being good on defense probably comes from the spectacular plays he makes sometimes. He still has better-than-average range. I don't know what the stats say about that but, as much as I like numbers for assessing offensive and pitching ability, I still maintain any number that claims to measure defense remains a case of someone trying to justify their own attempt to measure something that drives us nuts because of it's resistance to measurement. Scouts who track the distance he covers with their naked eyes say his range remains exceptional. But Guzman just as often botches routine plays.


NP: What will Vinny Castilla bring to the team?


PW: Castilla will bring better-than-average defense, which will help a pitching staff that won't strike out a lot of people. I'm sitting here looking at another team's (very sabermetrically oriented) analysis of every lineup in the majors and they rate Castilla the second-best hitter on the team after Wilkerson. Castilla also will be a major presence in the clubhouse. One thing this team has missed the past couple of seasons is some quality veterans - I mean quality people - because the core of the team is relatively young and it has been difficult to attract any veterans other than castoffs and the disgruntled. So, Castilla is a big step and makes sense as a guy who can bridge a gap. Remember, there's not a lot in the farm system and this franchise will need to find relatively inexpensive veterans to bridge the gap until new ownership provide a better idea of a payroll budget and until talent starts bubbling up from the farm system. He's certainly an upgrade from Tony Batista.


NP: Do you anticipate Bowden making any significant roster moves anytime soon? If so, what would he be after?


PW: I think they'll do what Bowden has done best in his career - bottom-feed. Given the limited payroll situation, they'll need to watch the waiver wire, look for maybe a veteran utility guy and some more bullpen help. There's a bit of a logjam in the first base/outfield mix but given the questions surrounding a lot of those guys, it would make more sense to let them sort themselves out a bit this spring before deciding who to deal, if anyone.


NP: What's the likely fate of Nick Johnson? Will he play first, be traded, or warm the bench?


PW: The ideal situation would be for him to live up to his offensive promise from the days when he was in the Yankees system. Second choice would be for him to look good enough - at the plate and healthwise - that he's tradable. He has some value now but the smart move would seem to be to gamble that he can increase his value.


NP: Speaking of first base, how far is Larry Broadway from being major-league ready, and how do you predict he'll enter the majors?


PW: We might see Broadway by the end of this season, just to give him a taste. I think he could start in 2006. Last year was huge for him from a standpoint of improving his approach at the plate. He's a big guy who still has some holes in his swing but he's much more disciplined than he was a year or two ago. He'll probably struggle a bit every time he moves up a level but if he can continue to improve his handling of the strike zone, he has a chance to become a somewhat watered-down version of Jim Thome: go ahead and strike out a bunch, as long as you walk often and crank out a bunch of homers.


NP: Jose Guillen and Juan Rivera had very similar years last year, with Guillen hitting for more power, but Rivera was better at getting on base. Considering the salary differential and the fact that Guillen is soon a free agent, was this a good trade?


PW: It's a gamble for sure. Guillen says he would like to stay and there have been some discussions about a new contract. We'll see. You're right that their production is similar but the one advantage Guillen brings is a little more experience. How he performs off the field probably will be more important in the long run. The key for me in that deal was Maicer Izturis. It won't be long before they wish they had him in the middle infield.


NP: What would have to happen for Endy Chavez to not make the starting lineup?


PW: If he reverts back to some of the stuff he was doing last spring and before that, all of which landed him in Frank Robinson's doghouse. He got a quick trip to the minors because Robinson didn't feel Chavez was applying himself to do the things a leadoff hitter must do. Unlike Guzman, Chavez seemed to get the message in a hurry. Speed remains his best top-of-the-order credential but the other stuff is improving. As it stands now, I still think Chavez, Johnson and Sledge and going to eat into each other's playing time when everybody is healthy.


NP: Do you think Ryan Church will make the 25-man roster, and if he does, will he see any playing time?


PW: He is going to have to bash his way in. With all the other bodies, it will be tough on Church. Actually, this is a guy who would be better served playing every day at Triple-A than sitting on the bench in the majors.


NP: Why does the press seem to think that the team has good offense and poor pitching, while stat-heads think the opposite?


PW: I'm not sure who you're referring to - statheads or press - but I know what the stat analysts for several teams think and here's sort of a consensus of their views: Only Guzman and Schneider are below-average offensive players among the starters and there is some disagreement about where Chavez fits. The bench, however, is very thin. As for pitching, they perceive Hernandez, Day and Ohka as solid and Rauch as a sleeper. I think the pitching perception comes from the fact the bullpen doesn't have a lot of names recognizable to the general public and media members who are, shall we say, casual observers of baseball. But most of them are pretty effective. I don't think they realize Ayala and Eischen will be solid setup guys.


NP: Is Chad Cordero ready to be the full-time closer? If not, what should the team be doing?


PW: I'm usually reluctant to say a young guy is ready. Cordero clearly has the talent but the mental step is like nothing else in this sport. There's no way to measure that but he seems like the kind of guy who can handle it. This is an area where they probably ought to look for a more experienced guy who could become available during spring training, a guy who could close now and then but still can be useful setting up.


NP: Considering the large number of 5.00+ ERA seasons Loaiza has had, is this guy going to be better than any of the people who could have
otherwise gotten a 5th spot?


PW: He's no more or less of a gamble than any of those other guys. Rauch is the most interesting coming off a small sample late last year. But nothing about any of the other possibilities should give anyone reason to get excited.


NP: At this point, our starters seem to be Hernandez, Loaiza, Armas, Ohka and Day. Who is at risk if they have a bad spring training?


PW: Probably Loaiza and Armas, though I think it's more likely anyone with a bad spring will get more time than that to lose his job.


NP: In the same vein, who is a dark horse to make the rotation?


PW: Rauch, as I mentioned. We'll probably get to see Mike Hinckley before the year is over but he could create some discussion among the staff with a big spring. Still, he probably would go back to the minors at least for awhile.


NP: Ayala, Cordero and Osuna are safe bets to be in the bullpen. Is this where we expect to see Rauch and Patterson go if they don't make the
rotation, or will either of them be sent to AAA?


PW: Both could pitch in the bullpen and be kept as a swingman/spot starter. If Rauch looks good enough that he makes himself next in line to start, it makes more sense to put him in Triple-A to build up some innings.


NP: Who else do you expect to see in the bullpen when opening day arrives?


PW: I still think there might be another guy or two from the outside. Assuming Eischen is healthy, he'll make it. I'd rank T.J. Tucker and Gary Majewski next, maybe Claudio Vargas.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Shawn Hill status

Shawn Hill used to be our top pitching prospect, except that he recently had Tommy John surgery, leaving Mike Hinkley with the title. But, Shawn Hill is well on the road to recovery. He's throwing 45 feet, and is expected to show back up in the minors in June, probably starting off in low A. If everything goes well, he could end up in AAA by the end of August, and might see a few innings out of the pen as a September call-up. Check out this article on him, it's a nice profile of the guy and his recovery effort to date.

Day to the bullpen?

According to the Sporting News, the Nats are considering moving Zach Day to the bullpen, in favor of either Patterson or Rauch (with Hinkley likely being a dark horse in that scenario).

I wish I had time to analyze the stats to see how much of a jump his ERA takes subsequent times through the batting order, compared to other people in the rotation. But, I suspect that this is probably a good move, as it will keep him from tiring, and thus help him keep his sinkerball down. Ultimately, I think this is good news for the pitching staff, as I'd rather see either Rauch and Hinkley in the rotation than Day. Under this scenario, I'm wondering if the guy who doesn't make the rotation gets placed in the bullpen, or demoted to AAA, to keep them on a regular rotation. I'm starting to think that the later may happen, because the bullpen is starting to get crowded.

In this scenario, Cordero, Ayala, Osuna and Day are destined for bullpen spots. I'd expect Eischen to be the left-hander out of the pen, and would be a bit surprised if T.J. Tucker got dropped. Will the last spot go to the guy who doesn't make the rotation, or will it go to Gary Majewski or Joe Horgan, both of whom pitched well enough last year to merit competition for that spot.

Also in that article, Ken Rosenthal states that the Nats weren't willing to give up Wilkerson, but would have put together a package including Brendan Harris, Terrmel Sledge and maybe a minor leaguer. Considering that, and considering the amount of cash that the Cubs ended up ponying up for Sosa's salary, I'm a bit surprised we didn't get him. While it is easy to assimilate everything published on this and say, "Bowden wasn't going to spend a cent of his $6-7M budged on salary", I am starting to believe Guillen, who claimed last week that it boiled down to Sosa choosing which team he wanted to join. The other option is that Bowden valued Brendan Harris enough to not make it worth the cash to Bowden, which would make me extremely happy, because Harris is the guy on our 40-man roster who should really be playing 3rd base.

All in all, I think Bowden probably did a reasonable job, from the sound of it. Despite the fact that people still seem to think Bowden focuses on things like RBIs to make his decisions (instead of using those things as a way to try to sell his decisions to the public), I am still giving Bowden the benefit of the doubt, willing to tell myself for the moment that he's likely doing the best job he can, considering he's got no budget, and has had a difficult time attracting interest from talent, even in his price range. Though, I'm still stumped on Guzman... maybe every other SS on the market who was better gave Trader Jim the finger...

Other than that article, it was a very slow news weekend. The Nats Fan Club meeting went well, with the Washington Post's Barry Svrluga there, interviewing people. It looks like the club will get a plug in the Post soon! I enjoyed meeting people from the Ballpark Guys forum there, and was a bit disappointed that none of my fellow bloggers showed up! By the way, the Nats Fan Club has taken over natfanatics.com... give them a look!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Guillen, Sosa and Bowden

MLB also has a piece on yesterday's ESPN Zone event that focused on Guillen. I like what I read:
I'm looking to buy a house here. I've already talked to Jim and we already had some great conversations," Guillen said. "I'm looking to be here for many years.


Guillen weighed in on the Sosa trade, saying he talked to Sosa, and Sosa had the ability to choose whether he was going to Washington or Baltimore. That conflicts with all other reports. Most of the reports say that the Nationals didn't want to give up the player that the Cubs were after (either Sledge or Wilkerson), and never got serious about a counter-offer, but kept discussions alive up until the end. Unlike the conspiracy theory, this seems logical.

I give Bowden both the benefit of the doubt and credit, here. I think he takes too bad a rap in the blogging community on the whole. I think pursuing a deal for Sosa along the lines of what the Orioles gave up was worthwhile. I also think it's commendable and quite probably the right decision not to mortgage our future by shipping off one of the two people on that short list.

I've been reasonably ambivalent to happy with most of Bowden's moves, with Guzman and Castilla being the big exceptions. I can start to see some justification for Castilla based on clubhouse leadership, but Guzman is still a mystery (particularly when you factor in the four year deal). Even Loaiza, with the dollar amount involved, it's hard to brand it a bad deal. While I think it needlessly pushes an equal to better arm into the bullpen (or even AAA), I'm still close to neutral on it.

I'm not saying that I'm Bowden's biggest fan, as my comments on his previous transactions will show. I'm just trying not to view his actions through the filter of a skeptic. I think he's probably an intelligent man who had reasons for the moves he made that were reasonably sound. For instance, even going beyond Castilla's "leadership qualities", I can seem him thinking the guy was worth taking a chance on, because while his away numbers were a big step down from his recent past, he magically learned how to take a walk, doubling his walk total from each of the two previous years. Maybe he thinks the guy is worth the risk, particularly considering we supposedly have a good hitting coach. Once you throw in the leadership qualities, the deal starts feeling more sensical. I'm not saying that it's what I would have done, but I at least believe there might be method to Bowden's madness (though I'm still trying to explain Guzman).

Who wears the pants?

Down at the bottom of this interesting profile of Jose Guillen over at the Washington Times, we learn that Bowden received sage council from his children:

"I didn't have a choice," he said. "Tyler and Chad, two of my boys, said, 'Dad you have to bring Guillen. He throws the best [batting practice] of any of the players we had.' That is why we made the deal."


What I want to know is whether these kids were also responsible for the Guzman and Castilla signings, in which case, someone needs to give these kids a lesson on stats, fast. If not, well, then they out-performed their dad, and we have to figure out how to get them more involved!

The Times also reports that the city CFO is likely to soon endorse multiple private financing proposals. They confirm that partial-season plans go on sale next week, and that pretty much all of those tickets are going to be in the upper deck. April 16th will be Kids Day, and the new mascot will be unveiled then. I guess I'll have my daughter in tow two games in a row. The opening day game will have fireworks and a concert.

For those interested, the National Press Club will be having a D.C. baseball event, with Nats president Tony Tavares scheduled to sit on a panel from 8 to 9:15PM. Tickets are free, but seating is limited; mail mlindsay@gwu.edu with requests.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

D.C. City Council commits an error

Yesterday, the D.C. City Council almost deprived themselves of $10M, when they tried to take a symbolic stance against the new ballpark.

The buzz today is something we reported on over the weekend, Cal Ripkin being courted to be the face of an ownership group, which would certainly be mud in the eye for Angelos. Ripkin seems to be a good businessman, which would probably translate to being a good President. However, I like Tavares and Uhlich so far, and would hate to see them get displaced, even though their jobs were quite clearly labeled as "probably temporary".

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Meet and Greet tomorrow afternoon

The Post reports that Cristian Guzman, Jose Guillen, Chad Cordero and Zach Day will be at ESPN Zone tomorrow, Wednesday, February 2nd from 1PM to 2PM. Moreover, you'll also be able to meet the guy in the organization I'd most like the chance to meet... GM Jim Bowden. Sadly, I'll be in a meeting.

The Post also looks at how injury plagued the Expos' season was last year, but things are looking up on that front.

Interestingly, the New York Times thinks there might have been a conspiracy within MLB to keep Sosa out of Washington, to help appease Angelos. The link requires free registration.