May 28, 2006

Meet the Nats

If this team is going to put forth the effort to win a few series in a row, taking 2 of 3 from those filthy, thievin' Baltimorons, 3 out of 4 from the defending NL Champs and 66.6% from the suddenly resurgent Trolley Dodgers, I guess I can take a few minutes out of my Memorial Day weekend to figure out who the hell these guys are.

To say that the Nats roster has experienced some turnover since Opening Day would be an understatement on par with saying Britney's career is experiencing a bit of a hiccup. The team has used no fewer than three centerfielders (Brandon Watson, Ryan Church and Alex Escobar) who aren't on the 25-man roster, and we have a full 5-man rotation on the DL (Patterson, Astacio, Lawrence, Drese and Day). All this roster flux has forced the Nats to start a shuttle bus service to New Orleans and Harrisburg.

If the last 10 games are any indication, some of these guys, either through necessity or design, might be sticking around awhile. So without further ado, meet the newest Nats:

Mike O'Connor: Not really all that new, having assumed John (Gee, didn't he used to pitch here?) Patterson's roster spot last month. O'Connor's a crafty lefty, which is essentially the tag given to all lefties who don't throw like Randy Johnson used to. But Mike's done an excellent job since his promotion, going 2-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 6 starts, and dueling Roy Oswalt to a Texican standoff the other night. If "Irish Mike" can cut down on the BBs (16 vs 22 Ks) he has a chance to be the Nationals first legitimate lefty starter. (No John "The Llama" Halama doesn't count.) O'Connor's performance has already earned him the Federalist Party's nomination for 2008.

Shawn Hill: Shawn was called up from N'awlins to fill the roster spot of the late, unlamented Zach Day, who may or may not be having shoulder surgery but definitely is gone until after the All-Star break. Hill was one of the Expos best young pitching prospects until Tommy & John went to work on his elbow. He spent 2005 rehabbing, and this season working his way up through the minors. In his first start on Saturday he pretty much shut down the Dodgers, giving up just 1 run on 5 hits through 7 innings. If Shawn continues to pitch well he might free up the Nats to trade Tony Armas or Ramon Ortiz for prospects later on this summer. In his free time Hill is the poster boy for Nationals Farm Authority.

Mike Vento: Vento is the newest contestant in the Nats Outfield o' Doom, which has thus far claimed Brandon Watson's potential, Jose Guillen's health, Daryle Ward's pride, Ryan Church's sanity and Alex Escobar's career (such as it was.) According to Trader Jim, "[Vento] is this year's version of Rick Short. A blue-collar, hard-nosed kid who can hit." So lock in the lowest possible fare to Tokyo ASAP, Mike. And when you get there, say "Hi!" to last year's version of Rick Short for me. Realistically I hope Vento can hold down the fort until Ryan Church gets his head on straight again.

Saul Rivera: This is Saul's 2nd stint with the big club this season and this time they actually let him pitch. So far the 28 year-old righty reliever has pitched two innings, giving up just one hit and striking out two. And he's given the Nats a plausible excuse not to use Felix Rodriguez.

Santiago Ramirez: See above re: plausible excuse not to use Felix Rodriguez.


gamer20 said...

Realistically I hope Vento can hold down the fort until Ryan Church gets his head on straight again.


Nate said...

Ryan buddy, I'm pulling for you. You might want to use that time down in N.O. to practice your middle relief pitching too.

Basil said...

That's a good nickname for Rivera.

Scorebook: "That's it for Armas. Frank Robinson makes the call for Saul Rivera."

Wow: "Ah, the ol' Plausible Excuse."

Scorebook: "Anything to avoid Rodriguez---"

Wow: "Wow."