This is going to more of a me thing right here rather than anything related to the wide world of sports. So this past Monday I finally had my first real article printed in Metro New York. It definitely wasn't my best work because no fringe players (Gerry McNamara, Matt Walsh, Will Bynum, Jared Ryner to name a few) would call me back. And how good can a story about undrafted players in the NBA be without any actual quotes from guys who go undrafted in the NBA Draft? But you can still see the masterpiece online by going here:
Next week should be an exciting one for me because I'm covering a Mets-Cards game and also attending the NBA Draft. And I got a lot of good feedback from the last little Inside Access thing I did with the Mets-Phils game a couple weeks back. I'll definitely have something up about the NBA Draft, seeing as it is my favorite draft out of all the drafts. And I'll try to do something with that Mets game too.
But here's what I wanted to talk about. Last week the Nats swept the Orioles in the Beltway Series and it probably was one of the main reasons why Perlozzo was fired yesterday. You have to believe that Peter Angelos was having a mild heart attack watching a team that has a bunch of players who would probably not be starting on any other team (the Nationals) defeat his above-average salary collection of players, and at Camden Yards no less. There was always this concern that the Baltimore-Washington area could not support two teams and the jury is still out on that because in the three seasons the Nats have been around, neither the O's or the Nats have been that good. But the Orioles really have a lot to do if they want to compete in the AL East. Frankly, I don't see an end to their futitlity in sight.
And here's the thing about the Nationals: They aren't nearly as bad as everybody thought they would be. After all of the doomsdayers saying the Nats would be the worst team ever after their 1-8 start, they have essentially played .500 ball and are actually 21-14 over their past 35 games. Their 30-39 record currently is exactly the same as it was last season after 69 games. But does this really mean anything? The whole point of this season was to take their lumps and hopefully along the way they would find some guys who would be fixtures in a Nats uniform for a long period of time. But have they really found anyone to build around besides Ryan Zimmerman?
I like Big Zim, but the whole batting .250 thing needs to stop. Gotta bump that average up to .275 by the end of the season.
The young pitchers that we thought were going to excel (Shaun Hill and Jason Bergmann) did well for a month, but have been injured since. Matt Chico has been ok, but he's still got an ERA hovering around five runs per game. The position players from that Cincy deal last year (Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns) have been really disappointing and to me it appears their stats from the Reds were merely just a creation of that hitters ballpark they played in. Our best hitter all year has been Dmitri Young and he plays a position that we already thought was filled by Nick Johnson. Outfielder Ryan Church is nothing more than a fourth outfielder on any other team. Christian Guzman has rebounded well but he's only got one more year left on his deal and I just don't see him getting resigned. Brian Schneider has been awesome on defense and handled the decimated pitching staff excellently, but he's still batting below .240, which is unacceptable.
The only foundation the Natties have is their bullpen, which looks set for the time being with Saul Rivera, Jesus Colome, Jon Rauch, and Chad Cordero among others. Team President Stan Kasten, the guy who was the architect of those Braves teams from the '90s, always preaches that this is part of what's going to need to happen in order for this team to reconstruct itself (Apparently he doesn't like using the word plan, so I tried to use a synonym of plan and ended up with a llong strong of words that actually just mean plan). Well, as a loyal fan I'm willing to wait another year after this one. But I expect to be competing for the wild card in 2009. Do I think it will happen? I really don't think so given that we have about five or six players that are legitimately going to be around then. It takes a lot more than five or six guys to build a great team. I've got some faith left in the tank, but these new owners will not be able to get away with spending only a little money this offseason. I want to see my faith rewarded after three seasons of losing.
Manny Acta has been a pleasant surprise as a manager. He is the right guy for the future. Jury is still out on Bowden though. I still haven't gotten over him not trading Soriano last summer.