February 24, 2007

The Gooz Abides

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Way down south, down Viera way, there was this fella I wanna tell ya about. Goes by the name of Cristian Guzman. At least that was the handle his loving parents gave him, but he never had much use for it himself. See, this Guzman, he called himself "Guzie". Now, "Guzie" - there's a name no man would self-apply where I come from. But then there was a lot about the Gooz that didn't make a whole lot of sense. And a lot about where he played, likewise.

He wasn't much of a shortstop really, not by the ways people reckon such things. Heck, some folks figured he'd make a bigger contribution sitting at home, sipping White Russians. Why, there was even some talk of making D'Angelo Jimenez the starting shortstop. D'Angelo Jimenez, author of the .183/.333/.268 line in 2006. Billy Beane himself couldn't find a productive use for that on-base percentage! Still, such was the loathing that the Gooz inspired in otherwise fair-minded people.

Sure, the Gooz may not have hit much. He didn't see particularly well, and his throwing shoulder didn't always work right. Still, that shortstop really tied the infield together. Sometimes there's a man... I won't say an all-star, 'cause, what's an all-star? Sometimes, there's a man. And I'm talkin' about the Gooz here - the Gooz from Santo Domingo, DR. Sometimes, there's a shortstop, well, he's the shortstop for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's the Gooz. The Gooz, from Viera. And even if he's a lazy man - and the Gooz was quite possibly that. Quite possibly the laziest in all of Major League Baseball. Over the last two years, well.. sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, he eats you.

The Gooz had been an All-Star, an MVP candidate. And the starting shortstop for three division champions. But not lately. And there are those who look to rewrite, or at least revise, history. They say
post hoc is most certainly not propter hoc. To them, the Gooz comes with asterix attached. *In spite of, it says. These men are nihlists. They believe in nothing. Nihilists! I mean, say what you like about the tenets of Nationals Socialism, at least it's an ethos.

But the Gooz abides. He stretches, he takes BP, he has MRIs. He'll bat second, or maybe seventh. He'll play shortstop while he's able, or sip White Russians on the end of the bench. Either way he'll collect $8 million dollars over the next two seasons. The fans will boo, or maybe they'll just be screaming GOOOOOZ! I guess that's the way the whole darn human comedy keeps perpetuatin' itself.

The Gooz abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Gooz. Takin' the mudballs for all us fans. Shoot. I sure hope he makes the All-Star team.

February 18, 2007

One and Dunn

Middle Infielder A-Go-Go

ESPN.com reports, (and Nats beat writer Bill Ladson confirms,) that 2B Ronnie "The Tongue" Belliard has agreed to a minor league deal with the Nationals. The non-guaranteed deal will pay Ronnie $750,000 if he makes the team out of Spring Training.

On the surface, I'm not sure I understand the appeal of this deal for Belliard. Ronnie was the starting second baseman for the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, but became expendable when the Cards reacquired 2B Adam Kennedy. Still, I can't believe this was the best offer out there for him. To go from starting for the NL champs to riding the pine for the presumptive NL chumps, and take a $3M+ pay cut in the process? Ouch.

Belliard's a career .272/.338/.411 hitter (.749 OPS for those of you who'd rather not do the math.) In other words, he's a slightly above average big league second baseman. He has just enough experience -- 228 career innings -- to spell Ryan Zimmerman at 3B about three times a month. And as for SS, he has played there once, which is more than Dmitri Young can say.

For the Nats, this is a great pick up. To get a starter caliber second baseman on a non-guaranteed deal, improve your bench, and lessen the odds of seeing Jose Macias, Tony Womack or Tony Batista on the 25-man roster? Outstanding. And, unlike the Young and Batista signings, Jim Bowden may not just be blowing smoke when he says Belliard is the kind of player who might return something of value at the trade deadline.

It turns out that the front office may not just have been spinning when they talked about acquiring tradeable pieces and/or potential Type B free agents. The Farm Authority has been a leading Nat(m)ospheric proponent of stockpiling useful fringe players for trades and draft pick compensation. It's clear that the team has no interest in spending $3-5M per player to try to flip the Ramon Ortizes and Steve Trachsels of the world, but $500K-1M for guys like Young and Belliard appears to be a more palatable risk.

There are two reasons that I haven't been particularly down on the team for eschewing the Kip Wells/Tony Armas/John Thomson-type pitchers in favor of Tim Redding, Jerome Williams, Colby Lewis and their ilk. The first is that I'm genuinely curious to see if it's possible (as many statheads profess) to construct a competent major league starting rotation with lesser known guys whose stats are comparable to big league journeymen. The second, and more significant reason, is that I enjoy rooting for an unexpected breakout season from a nobody more than witnessing a thoroughly expected average season from a known commodity.

The same is just not true of position players. If we can get a career .270 guy on the bench, and spare the fans the indignity of watching Bernie Castro pretend to play second base, I'm all for it. All of a sudden, a bench with Robert Fick, Dmitri Young, Belliard, Chris Snelling and Jesus Flores doesn't look so incompetent. Plus, the deal has the CapPun seal of approval. What more could you want?

Dunn, Done; On to the Next One

One time farm system architect and player development guy Andy Dunn has tendered his resignation and had it accepted by the club. Nobody involved seems to want to say just why. Maybe Mike Rizzo wants to put his stamp on the player development staff, maybe Bob Boone wants to do the same. Maybe Andy vehemently disagreed with "The Plan" and lit a bag of dog poo on fire on the Lerners' front porch. Really, who knows?

From the little that I knew about Dunn, he seemed like a positive force in the front office, and he'll be missed for that alone. I expect Brian, Scott and John over at Nationals Farm Authority to get to the bottom of this. Stay tuned. In the meantime keep your fingers crossed that Andy doesn't resurface with the Mets and torment Nats fans for the next dozen years with savvy drafts and player development.

Andy Dunn "resigns"; Screech "retires" -- Coincidence?

February 15, 2007

The Nationals NRI All-Star Team

Watson's post yesterday, highlighting the addition of Dmitri Young and Tony Batista (but sadly not Randall Simon) to the Nats spring camp, got me thinking. In addition to the 40 guys on the official roster, the Nationals have extended Spring Training invitations to an additional 33 players. These 33 Non-Roster Invitees (NRI) are an intriguing mix of washed-up has beens, disappointing never weres, and anonymous career minor leaguers. But more than that, there's THIRTY THREE of them! That's more than enough to construct an active (25-man) roster. So that's what I did.

I tried to choose players with the slimmest chance of making the actual 40-man roster this season, but also guys who have had at least a nominal big league career. I also largely ignored their listed positions on the Nationals.com NRI roster. Any document that lists Da Meat Hook primarily as an outfielder has no credibility. I've kept the analysis to a minimum. Should morbid curiosity prompt you, more info on these folks is available from any number of sources, including here.

So, without further ado about nothing, I present to you the 2007 Washington Nationals NRI All-Stars!!!


C Danny Ardoin

1B Dmitri Young

2B Tony Womack

SS D’Angelo Jimenez

3B Tony Batista

LF Abraham Nunez

CF Darnell McDonald

RF George Lombard


C Juan Brito

1B Travis Lee

IF Jose Macias

IF Joe Thurston

OF Wayne Lydon

UTIL Tony Blanco


SP Jason Simontacchi

SP Brandon Claussen

SP Colby Lewis

SP Chris Michalak

SP Anastacio Martinez


RP Jesus Colome

RP Mike Bacsik

RP Winston Abreu

RP Josh Hall

RP Luis Martinez

RP Felix Diaz

Now, you can quibble with a few of these guys. Brandon Claussen will almost certainly get a shot in the rotation at some point, but he's rehabbing and there's no chance he'll break camp with the big club. Dimitri Young or Travis Lee will be the Opening Day 1B if Larry Broadway falls on his face, but why wish ill on one of the team's few semi-talented quasi-youngsters? One of the Macias/Womack/Batista/Jimenez quartet will probably assume a utility infielder spot, but I have a shiny nickel for anyone who can correctly predict who it will be.

More than anything, I just wanted to give you, loyal reader, a sneak preview of the eventual 2007 World Champion Columbus Clippers. Happy Spring Training!

February 14, 2007

Bring on Da Meat Hook

There's a short blurb in today's post about the Nats signing veteran sluggers Tony Batista and Dmitri Young.

I was all excited about the Dmitri Young signing. I planned out this elaborate post about how Dmitri was being classified as a threat to the giant foam head President's Race by the Secret Service. Turns out the player who clocked the italian sausage was Randall Simon, not Dmitri Young. So, there goes my great post. Trust me, it would have been awesome.

Thanks to Nate for the correction before I looked like an idiot.

February 12, 2007

Run with the Presidents

With 3 days to go until the start of spring training, something bigger comes to town.

We can sign up to be the presidents in the President's Race at RFK.

Seriously. Check it out.

This is just begging for our kind of stupidity. From the concept of the Triple Play crew racing each other to a blogger based race, this just has bad idea written all over it.

I love it.

February 10, 2007

Site Maintenance

You'll notice some minor changes to the Triple Play experience this weekend. We're reformatting the page, updating the links, turning the mattresses... you know, typical spring cleaning. Hopefully we'll be back up and running at full speed Monday morning, but it's a busy weekend all around, what with Watson relocating to his 5,000 sq ft penthouse overlooking the park, Dave buying his first racehorse and me doing laundry.

If there's anything you'd like to see in this spruced up corner of the Natmosphere drop us a line and let us know. In the meantime, thanks for your patience, we're working hard to improve your customer experience!

February 6, 2007

Media attention

Kudos to Chris @ Capital Punishment for the media attention. The WaPost article on bloggers is very good.

Apparently, the Post likes the bloggers more than mlb.com does.

No, that isn't gasoline on a fire. Really, officer. I swear. I was just holding the gas can.

And Chris.... Stan is calling you out on buying your season ticket renewal.

February 3, 2007

Nats News Roundup

Scouring the Web in a cursory, half-assed fashion for a recap of the Washington week that was...*

Pesky Procrastinating Pitchers Prolong Pending Payday Process

A 3-year deal with Official 2007 Slugger-by-Default Austin Kearns (including a $50K bonus for every member of the starting 8 he doesn't cripple) leaves only the front and back ends of the Nationals pitching staff eligible for arbitration. There's a million dollar gap between the team and ace SP John Patterson, and half a million separates the club and fireman Chad Cordero.

Patterson, who may or may not have re-injured his forearm making a western omelet this morning, definitively rejected the team's offer of a 1-year, uncapped, $10,000 per inning contract. Joining J-Patt, seeking a $4.15M deal, "Closer for Sale" Cordero, his hour come 'round at last, slouches toward New York [Phoenix] to be arbitrated.

Church Targets Resurrection; Advances Anti-Iverson Image

Maligned, malingering outfielder (and sometime amateur theologian) Ryan "Orthodox"Church is seeking a fresh start by dedicating himself to practice, practice, practice. Citing increased "
mental toughness" which he developed by listening to people say unkind things about his actual physical toughness and inability to hit an 0-2 breaking pitch, Church says 2007 will be "the year I prove everybody wrong." Hopefully not including everybody who thinks Church is the Nationals best centerfield option.

Demand for Ex-Nats Skyrocketing, Kasten Eyes Preemptive Auction

Observing the ridiculous salaries handed out to former rotation placeholders Ramon Ortiz and Tony Armas, Stan Kasten is in the early stages of formulating a "Plan" (TM, all rights reserved) to auction off members of the 2007 team at the first faint glimmerings of success. Said Kasten, "What exactly have RamonO and Armas done to deserve a collective $6M? That money should be in my po... err, the team's revenue stream. The Nationals put them in a position to collect this unseemly windfall, and should profit accordingly."

Kasten went on to note that preliminary projections indicate that Jerome Williams could fetch upwards of $2.5M at auction, and Jason Simontacchi "somewhere in the neighborhood of $45 bucks. That's a week worth of savory brisket."

New Stadium to Include Upgraded Lighting, Turn Lanes and Complimentary Snow Removal

DC City Council voted to fold the entire fiscal 2008 municipal services budget into the Nationals Stadium Plan, pointing out that anything that makes DC more attractive to residents and visitors will undoubtedly increase attendance at the new stadium and benefit the team. Moments later the Council reacted with horror to CFO Nat Ghandi's back-of-the-envelope calculations showing that the new stadium was $1.2 billion over the $611M cost cap "even before the first significant snow event of the season."

Councilman David Catania is promising a council resolution directing the city staff to bill the Kasten family for the cost of trash removal in Wards 1, 3, 7 and 8 as a means to recoup some of the expenditures.

*Sadly, only one of these "news" items has less than a 50% basis in fact.