January 26, 2007

Without much to say, you're left to turn on your own....

We here over at NTP quite readily admit that we don’t have sh*t to say right now. Nothing that hasn't been said a half dozen other places anyway.

Really. Truly. Not a damn thing to add to the world. What are you supposed to say when your entire blog is based around the concept of “our conversations at baseball games are kinda funny, what would happen if we wrote this stupidity down.” Since it’s like 20 degrees outside, no one in the Northern Hemisphere plays baseball when it’s a frozen tundra, and we’re not sitting at a stadium much right now, there isn’t a whole lot of funny. At least not baseball funny. At least not ha ha funny, instead of painfully ironic funny.

I’ve been quiet since the season ended because I don’t have a damn thing to say. (Last year I played with incendiary devices around this time, and while the concept of lighting things on fire is always intriguing, I admit I don’t have a good topic.)

Ryan over at the Distinguished Senators is very fired up about Bill Ladson, and the Beltway Boys interview with him. More power to him – Ryan’s on the list of people that write really good stuff. The constant struggle between “new” media and “old” media never ceases to amaze or amuse me.

I think it a fair rule that if you’re getting mad because of what someone wrote about you in a blog, you have a pretty good life. You’re not hungry, you’re not homeless, you’re not cold… you have the time to worry about what others think of you. You have time to worry about whether a fan with a computer and a writer with a computer need to see eye to eye. One gets paid for his opinion, one doesn’t. They’re still just opinions – kinda like a certain body part we all have. Everybody’s got one. And the opinion (and body part) are worth what you paid for it.

There is an important distinction between Bill and bloggers – Bill gets paid to write his stuff. He does it professionally, and he’s not only putting his name on his work, he’s putting his employer and his reputation on the line. Those of us blogging are not necessarily (although sometimes can be) professionals, in that none of us are paid for this. As a blogger, any of our paycheck(s) are not tied to our opinion.

That’s also not to say that any of our opinions are not just as valid as Bill’s. Bill likely has a different perspective, partly from having done it for significantly longer, with a professional editing system (review process, editors, etc), and with significantly different audiences. (Frankly, if only Watson and Nate read my crap, that’s sometimes the only target audience. Not that I’m not a media whore, but our publishing concept is different from mlb.com or the Post). Chris Needham or Basil put together some good opinion pieces, just as Bill has his opinions. A paycheck does not necessarily a professional make – in any context. Remember, just cause it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it's true, and it’s possible to trade the word “internet” for many other sources of media.

I feel it important to point out the byline on our very own blog – we readily admit that we are a group of idiots. We know our place in the world. Our job in the Natosphere, generally, is to try and be funny. Nate’s generally pretty good at it, Watson is a great sports fan and provides color commentary, and me… well, if you haven’t caught on to the character I play, you haven’t been paying attention.

I’m off to go squash the dreams of the working class. I think we’ll wake up over here when the weather warms and we crawl out of hibernation to go drink beer and be stupid again.

January 14, 2007

Southeast Jerome and the Pickle Guy

Pitching we wanted, and "pitching" is what we got. The Nationals signed RHP Jerome Williams and LHP Brandon Claussen. Williams got a major league contract, Claussen a minor league deal. Williams is fat and Claussen is broken, but they're genuine, certified, bona fide veteran hurlers. To the extent that their presence on the roster means that young arms like Matt Chico and Colin "Battlestar" Balester won't be rushed to the big leagues, bully for them.

"Southeast" Jerome Williams was the consensus pick for most intriguing remaining free agent pitcher. Just 25 years old, Williams has had big league success in the not-too-distant past (3.91 ERA in 17 starts in 2005.) But his numbers have been steadily declining, and he got rocked in Chicago last season. Still, there's plenty of time for him to turn it around and have the career everyone expected of him when he debuted as a San Franciso prospect in '03. Besides, it's not like we're risking a playoff spot by slotting him in as our probable No. 2 *gulp* starting pitcher.

Brandon "
Pickles" Claussen is another low-risk, low-reward pick up. He's rehabbing a surgically repaired throwing shoulder, and likely won't even be a viable option until mid-season, but hey, we're expecting a few pitchers to burn out by then anyway. Claussen's 27, and only a few years removed from a respectable season in Cincinnati's Great American Bandbox (4.21 ERA in 29 starts.)

Assuming a starting rotation of John Patterson, Jerome Williams, Shawn Hill, Tim Redding and "Irish Mike" O'Connor makes you feel better than a Patterson, Hill, Redding, O'Connor, Beltran Perez starting 5, these signings were very good news. Even if you're largely indifferent to the composition of the rotation behind JPatt, adding Southeast Jerome and the Pickle Guy takes some of the sting out of being priced out of the market for Ramon Ortiz, Jorge Sosa, Stevie Trashcan, and Ryan Freaking Franklin.

January 12, 2007

No Love For Frank

A good article this morning from Boswell about the Nationals decision not to include Frank in the front office going forward. Personally I think the least they could do was give him a consulting gig. He might not have been a great manager but he still knows more about hitting than 99% of the guys out there.

January 6, 2007

Pitching? Pitching!? Pitching!?!?!

For weeks now the Natmosphere has been ablaze. The Federalist tried to rationalize it. OMG harped on it. Banks overflowed with speculation, rumor and innuendo. Cap'n Punishment just plain wouldn't shut up about it.

Well now we have it. And frankly, it's less like waking up Christmas morn to find a lump of coal in your stocking, and more like waking up to find an anthracite strip-mining operation in your living room. Nationals.com
reports, with a straight face I suppose, that the team has offered "contracts" to five "pitchers." (Note the liberal and entirely justified use of "scare quotes.") The contract offers are said to range in value from a bus ticket to Viera up to roughly $3M dollars. Or as I like to call it, "Sub-Joel Piniero Money."

Two of the five names are familiar to Nats fans in the same way that the grim spectre of approaching death is familiar to the elderly, so we'll dispense with them quickly. Ramon Ortiz, the club's 2006 "leader" in innings pitched, wins and strikeouts strikes me as the most likely to have been offered a multi-million dollar big league contract. The Nats avoided offering Ortiz arbitration last month out of the (increasingly reasonable) fear that a neutral arbitrator, not whacked out on any sort of hallucinogens, might award Ramon-O a contract in the $6-8M range. Or as I like to call it, "Sub-Gil Meche Money." If we can get Little Papi's 190 innings for three millions of dollars, I'm all for it.

Tony Armas, Jr. is the other potential familiar face. I've always been a TA2 fan, even though his 5.1 IP per start average is absolute murder on a bullpen. But he's still young-ish and talented, and if he would agree to be paid on a per inning basis ($10K per seems fair to me,) I'd be happy to have him back. I'm betting that's unlikely though, because if the previously mentioned Talented Mr. Piniero can get a $4M deal, someone will offer that to Tony. Hopefully it won't be us.

The other potential future disposable Nats starters are Steve Trachsel, Jorge Sosa and Jerome Williams. The 36-year old Trachsel tossed 164.2 innings of sub-5 ERA ball, but that about exhausts his upside. To sum up Stevie Trashcan, Needham put it best when he said, "Like Ortiz. But worse." Better than Ryan Franklin? We report, you decide.

Jorge Sosa is at least on the right side of 30, but he's never thrown more than 134 innings in a season, and his K/BB ratio is the very definition of uninspiring. Seriously, if we've reached the point of bringing in veterans to throw 120 innings of 5.50 ERA ball just to protect the arm of Joel Hanrahan, or Colby Lewis or Billy Traber I say the team needs to go all in and call Denny Neagle. He's tanned, rested and ready.

Jerome Williams is the most intriguing of the bunch, as the perennial hot prospect only last month turned 25. But he's also the most likely to draw stiff competition from other (better) teams. If we had to burn a guaranteed contract and a 40-man roster spot on any of these shlubs, Williams would be my first choice, with Ortiz running a distant second.

There it is folks. The Nationals are "in the market" for veteran "pitching." Are you happy now? Are you?

Personally, 5 innings of Tony Armas or Steve Trachsel are going to require as much beer and nachos as 5 innings of Shawn Hill or Jason Bergmann, so I'm largely indifferent. Crappy pitching is crappy pitching, be it delivered by six veteran starters or nine journeyman minor leaguers. Cold beer, warm nachos, abundant soft serve and please God no rain delays when Patterson is pitching. That's what it will take to get me through this season, one way or another.