Friday, May 11, 2007

Is There Any Hope For The Nationals???

We are now almost a quarter of the way into the 2007 baseball season and many things are becoming clear... The Milwaukee Brewers are definitely the league's "surprise team" with a major league best 24-10 record... just behind, and not surprisingly, are the Boston Red Sox at 23-10... The rest of the division leaders aren't all that surprising - The Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels. The New York Mets have also played well and would be a wild card team if things were to end today.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have the "have nots"... The World Champion St. Louis Cardinals are at 14-18 and nine games behind the Brewers. The Kansas City Royals are near the bottom again with an 11-24 record as they attempt to go for another 100 loss season... The hapless Royals aren't baseball's worst team at the moment though... that dubious distinction goes to the Washington Nationals who have lost eight straight! At 9-25, the Nats are on pace to win only 40 games!

Why have the Nats been so bad so far this year??? Well, three guys you can't place any blame on would be pitchers Shawn Hill and Jason Bergman, along with outfielder Ryan Church. Hill has produced a stellar 3.00 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in seven starts this year, while Bergman is right behind with a 3.07 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in his seven starts. Church has a lofty .387 On Base Percentage to go along with 3 home runs, 13 RBI's and 12 doubles. As for the rest of the Nats, well quite frankly none of them have done much to write home about so far this year!

I love statistics, but the one I'm about to post should sadly put things into perspective: the entire Nationals team has 15 home runs this year. The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez has that many all by himself this year!!! One look at the Nationals hitters tells us that everyone not named Church is underachieving big time: Ryan Zimmerman hit 20 homers last year, this year he has one... Felipe Lopez hit 33 homers over the past two years, this year he has two... Austin Kearns hit 24 homers last year, this year he has three. Ronnie Belliard hit 30 homers over the past two seasons, this year he has one.

As for pitchers, reliever Jon Rauch actually has pitched well in spite of that 4.67 ERA he possesses. A fabulous 0.92 WHIP and .224 BAA tell the true story with him. Closer Chad Cordero has struggled throughout with a 4.70 ERA and a 2.09 WHIP... As some of you know, Chad is currently on the bereavement list with his grandmother who is suffering with brain cancer... Needless to say, his grandmother has probably been on his mind a lot this year. John Patterson threw up a 7.47 ERA in 7 starts before being placed on the DL. Whenever a pitcher such as Patterson loses five miles per hour off their fastball, it's a cause for concern... the Nats other starters, Matt Chico and Jerome Williams have been nothing short of bad so far, both with ERA's exceeding 6!

So, how do we right the ship???? Well, I have a few suggestions:

1. Move Ryan Church into the #2 or #3 slot. Currently, Church is batting cleanup for the Nats... his .387 OBP is far and away the best on the team, so it warrents him being moved up so that the other guys such as Zimmerman and Kearns will be hitting more often with guys on base.

2. Call up a couple of minor leaguers to replace Matt Chico and Jerome Williams in the rotation. Emilio Fruto and Mike Bacsik are both currently posting sub 3.20-ERA's and sub 1.15 WHIP's in the minors at the moment and should be called up soon to replace the struggling Chico and Williams.

3. Everyone needs some inspiration, right? Well, baseball players are no different... Miss DC 2005 Shannon Schambeau was given the honor of throwing out the first pitch in a game this past June. Most of you know that Shannon was recently engaged to Nationals pitcher John Patterson. Personally, I think that this should be an annual tradition with the Nationals... meaning that the lovely 2006 Miss DC, Kate Michael should be given that honor this year. Kate has done so much to help promote DC and serve the city... she really deserves this opportunity! Kate's also won several awards, including the 2006-2007 Abe Pollin award for her service and dedication to the Washington, D.C. community.


Well, the first round of the Players Championship is in the book and we have several interesting storylines... Phil Mickelson shot a five under par 67 and is tied for the first round lead with last week's third round leader Rory Sabbatini. Tiger Woods had no birdies in the round for the first time in nearly 500 rounds of competitive golf, struggling to a three over par 75. The story of the day was that island green 17th hole. A record fifty balls found their way into the water hazard surrounding the hole yesterday... making me feel a little better about those nine golf balls I got wet this past Monday. More live coverage of the tournament today will be shown on the Golf Channel beginning at 12ET/9 AM PT. You can keep track of the full leaderboard here:

The Players Championship Leaderboard

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