April 13, 2008

3 - 159

Stay calm, it's a long season. This is just a bump in the road. At least they're in these games and they're still better than last...

They're being installed next to the cupholders at Nationals Park.

Nope, sorry, can't do it. We're well and truly boned. The team is getting worse as the season goes along. The starting pitching is atrocious and the hitting, if possible, is worse. I know fans as sometime prone to hyperbole and overreaction in the face of adversity (see Detroit Tigers, The) but at least the front office is maintaining a calm and levelheaded approa... oh wait, Jim Bowden is in charge. Nevermind.

So that's what that button does...

Wholesale changes are afoot. Cordero up, Bergmann down. Wily Mo back, ??? gone (please be Willie Harris, please be Willie Harris). So much for being patient with guys coming back from injury. I expect Elijah Dukes will be cleared for pinch-hitting duty by Tuesday and Shawn Hill will be your Sunday starter next week.

Meanwhile the sparkling new park plays host to a team that's deteriorating before our eyes. First it was winning close games, then losing close games, then getting good pitching but no hitting or vice versa and now the wheels are coming off. Yesterday Lastings Milledge (who's still better than Nook Logan, dammit) holds the ball in centerfield as the runner goes from 1st to 2nd on a single up the middle. That font of veteran leadership, Paulie LoDown, doesn't even attempt to block the plate as a runner scores from 3rd on a groundout to Ryan Zimmerman.

While all this is going on, fans are not showing up in record numbers. (Anecdotal evidence suggests that opposing fans love the new park, particularly the two solid rows of Braves fans behind me yesterday afternoon.) As people in the media and basement-dwelling bloggers alike begin to wonder why fans aren't showing up management gets defensive and makes panic moves like bringing Wily Mo back early from injury rehab and demoting Jason Bergmann because yeah, he's the problem with the starting pitching staff.

Panic moves inevitably produce stupid quotes like this one:

Whoever pitches best here is going to pitch here. It's a little different than before. That being said, [Bergmann] needs to step it up. He has three pitches. He has enough stuff. He just needs to execute it.

Jason Bergmann was here because he was one of our best pitchers coming out of Spring Training and he'd shown flashes of brilliance when he was healthy last season. Sure, maybe he really is best suited to long relief, but to suggest that he's a less viable option that Tyler Clippard (5.40 AAA ERA) or Collin Balester (5.06 spring ERA) is just not credible. Not that that's ever stopped JimBo before.

As for WMP, I love me some Wily Mo Power as much as the next guy, but he's not the silver bullet solution to this team's offensive problems. Unless Wily Mo can teach Austin to hit balls out of the infield, or give Lastings better pitch recognition than Helen Keller, the Nats are still going to struggle at the plate. Which will probably spark another round of panic moves, which means I'll be writing this post again in two weeks.

No comments: