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Series preview: Cardinals at Nats

Jun 14, 2011, 1:12 PM EDT

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. — LHP Jaime Garcia (6-2, 3.20) vs. RHP Yunesky Maya (0-1, 5.40)
TV: MASN Radio: WJFK-106.7 FM, WFED-1500 AM

Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. — RHP Kyle McClellan (6-2, 3.86) vs. RHP Livan Hernandez (3-8, 4.15)
TV: MASN Radio: WJFK-106.7 FM, WFED-1500 AM

Thursday, 7:05 p.m. — RHP Kyle Lohse (7-3, 2.67) vs. LHP John Lannan (4-5, 3.60)
TV: MASN Radio: WJFK-106.7 FM, WFED-1500 AM

CARDINALS UPDATE
A rash of injuries, including several to key players, has left the Cardinals unable to field their Opening Day lineup for all but four games this season. So, clearly, they must be languishing at or near the bottom of the NL Central, right? Uh, not exactly. Until a three-game sweep at the hands of the Brewers over the weekend, St. Louis held a stranglehold on first place in the division.

How has Tony La Russa managed to pull that off? Start with the National League's best offense (.274 batting average, .347 OBP, .764 OPS) despite the prolonged absences of Matt Holliday, David Freese and Skip Schumaker and (until recently) an under-performing Albert Pujols. Lance Berkman has been a godsend, hitting .317 with 16 homers, 46 RBI and a 1.050 OPS. (Holliday, by the way, is expected to come off the DL in time for Thursday's series finale.)

Add a solid starting rotation that has withstood Adam Wainwright's Tommy John surgery and Chris Carpenter's ineffectiveness. KyleRead more »

  1. UNTERP.NAT - Jun 14, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Grading the Nationals about 2/5ths through the 2011 season:Pitching: A- Would give an A but bullpen has slipped with a few pitchers.Defense: A- Outfield is lacking range.Offense: D- Worse batting average in the Major League most of the year. Ryan Zimmerman being back may bump it to C-.Manager: B+ Not his fault that guys are not coming through for him at key moments. Plays a couple of players too much. Won't mention their names…Coaches: B Except for hitting couldn't ask for much more.GM: C- Failed at CF, RF, Leadoff, Top of rotation starter, stretched bullpen.Owners: NG Jury still out whether they are willing to spend money. Also, invisible to media.

  2. still waiting....... - Jun 14, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    too high a grade for Mgr, he is stuck on Ankiel at the expense of younger player. flopping Werth in the batting order and especially batting him leadoff is a joke. C or C-agree with Rizzo, he is too lost in his scouting department roots and needs to get back to the ML roster and out of draft mode.contenders wait til deadline, last place clubs need to improve roster by now. if he releases Stairs , ill bump him to a Csorry, had to go there!

  3. HHover - Jun 14, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    This series will be a test for the pitching staff. Their last 2 series were against the 2 lowest scoring offenses in MLB; the Cards have scored the second most runs in the NL.

  4. Anonymous - Jun 14, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    The Cards have also played the easiest schedule in the MLB. Brewers are winning the Central. http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/rpi

  5. Grandstander - Jun 14, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    If we can light up McClellan tomorrow night we might be able to win one of these games. Even with his latest performance, I don't trust Maya at all against this lineup.

  6. Manassas Nats Fan - Jun 14, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    As usual my goal is to win the series. It won't be easy, but the return of Zimmerman might lift the condifence of the hitters (not that he will continue at the .350 clip he was going at before he went on the DL. Interestingly only one team has played less home games (The Nats are 14-12 at home). The Twins have played 25 games at home.

  7. Knoxville Nat - Jun 14, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    still waiting……do you have any suggestions on who you would bat at leadoff given the current 25 man roster? Bernadina hasn't exactly been a real success at that spot now has he?Desmond? Tried and failed. Espinosa? Ditto.

  8. Doc - Jun 14, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    Hard to be optimistic for the Nats' success in this series. But the hitting really showed sighn of improvement, fewer Ks and better ABs (particularly Espi batting L), against a tough series of pitchers in the Giants' and Pads' games.So I'm gonna be pessimistically optimistic against the hated Cards, and their stacked deck. Hey, I'm a Nats' fan.I guess Nyj is feeling better to-day, after his Brews beat with 3 of a kind! Time for LaRussa to develop some humility

  9. A DC Wonk - Jun 14, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    The comments about Rizzo (no surprise) have been ridiculous. "Just go out and get a front line starter"? Right. Ignore the fact that 29 other teams want one, too. You have to have stuff to get stuff. And we don't have a lot of stuff to offer. It's been a long recovery from MLB's r*ping of our farm system, Bowden's years of incompetence, and Lerners learning how to run a team.As has been said before — you can't fix everything at once. Rizzo made it a top priority over the last two years to improve relief pitching and defense. That has worked wonders. If I recall, we had the league's worst ERA a few years back, and, I think, led the league in errors two years in a row. We've improved magnitudes from that.As for complaints that Rizzo is too much into scouting — well, hello?, how else do you find and get players that others don't get? I recall criticism of Rizzo's pick of Drew Storen — that's kinda worked out ok, don't you think? Snagging Jesus Flores was a steal — and getting Ramos for Capps might have us set for catching for many years to come. For all those who called Rizzo an idiot for not trading Dunn by the deadline — well, perhaps Rizzo got the last laugh because the compensatory draft picks we got just may be worth a lot more than he could have gotten in a trade (Alex Meyer, Brian Goodwin). One analyst calls the Nats draft haul "an embarrassment of riches".Yeah — he's not perfect, and he's made mistakes. But we're light years better than we've been, and we're building the team the right way. Look at the potential line up next year:An infield that starts with Zim-Ian-Espi; Ramos behind the plate; JZimm and hopefully a recovered StrassClipp and Store in the penThis is 2/3 of a really solid young team — with guys like Harper and Rendon in the wings. This is a core that could last the greater part of a decade.Compare that to just a few years ago when, other than Zim, we had nobody, Chris Marrero was the only "prospect" in the system, we were losing 100 game, team ERA was over 5.00 (!!), and we led the league in errors. Now *that* is what a mess looks like. And today we hear guys like Marquis and others who say they want to stay with the Nats. He, like others who's impatience don't blind them, can see that the odds are high that we have a bright future ahead.So — who directed those changes? That would be Mr. Rizzo.It doesn't take drinking Kool-aide to see all this. It just takes looking at the big picture and understanding that building a solid team takes years and takes patience.

  10. still waiting......... - Jun 14, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    as a lame duck manager, Riggleman is playing for this year, albiet without a well dealt hand. the franchise, however, is obviously looking to 2012 and beyond.that being said, is a 32 year old journeyman like Ankiel worthy of getting lead off at bats when we have a 26 or 27 year old Bernadina that we may or may not be the answer?i dont know if he is or not, but i am sure Ankiel isnt, nor is Werth. Bernadina is the closest thing we have unless Rizzo can put together a trade of some sort.my rule of thumb has always been, if your bad, be young, you may improve

  11. FS - Jun 14, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    You know I never understood "MLB's r*ping of our farm system" argument. Do not get me wrong. I only started following baseball since 2005 and more regularly since '09. So yeah, no idea about expos history (except that Cliff trade). Can someone please explain how MLB ripped us off?Thank you.

  12. still waiting..... - Jun 14, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    there are lots of excuses that are readily trotted out. MLB, Minaya, Bowden, what have you.the bottom line is in year 7, the major league product has marginally improved. many fans are happy to continually wait til next year, that really is Washington's baseball heritage. I am a native, btw and have seen one winning home team in my lifetime, baseball that is. so yes, i am impatient.i have never understood why "the Plan" precluded a better major league team. yes, the cupboard was bare in the farm system, but a better job could have been done. please dont ask me what i would have done, i am not a professional baseball executive.i will say this, to have basically the same major league payroll in 2011 that the team MLB moved here and owned in 2005 is unexcusable, in my opinion.

  13. Manassas Nats Fan - Jun 14, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    I am a native too, and I recall one winning season too in my lifetime. 1969 Ted Williams first year of managing the Senators came in 4th place with a record 86-76.

  14. baseballswami - Jun 14, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    Knoxville Nat, et al — I don't think we have any idea whether or not Bernie or anyone else can be our lead-off because we NEVER give any line-up or other strategy time enough to work itself out long enough to know. I know that there are some situations that will have to be semi-platooned to get bats in the line up or for pitching match-ups. BUT — I would love to see a defensive configuration, and a line- up stay in effect long enough for the guys to get used to their roles and settle in. The "it's not working" panic button is pushed WAAAAY too soon. One of the reasons that Danny,Desi and Morse are turning dps well is that they have had sufficient reps together. Perhaps if Bernie had a long enough chance at leading off, he would really figure it out. The hook is too quick. Well, except for certain veterans…..

  15. Knoxville Nat - Jun 14, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    You said it for me…"Bernadina is the closest thing we have…." In other words we don't have a true leadoff hitter on the 25 man roster. Trying Ankiel, Werth or others in that spot is simply a move to try and get something started in this anemic offense. Certainly Werth's performance in the middle of the lineup has been disappointing at best and I recognize that part of this disappointment is not having any runners on base ahead of him. Ankiel is never going to be too much with the bat no matter where he hits in the lineup. Bottom line is that Riggleman is trying multiple moves to get something started and those moves are a response to the failure of the GM (so far anyway) to acquire the leadoff batter they desperately need. I for one will applaud Riggs for trying these moves rather than be content with the same old, same old.

  16. still waiting....... - Jun 14, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    1969, thats the one. there was also a .500 finish in the early fifties (yes i am that old) and our 81-81 in 2005. thats it.i agree 100% with the too much lineup tinkering, but that goes back to the mixed signals between our lame duck manager and the FO. do we want to see what we have for 2012 and beyond or see more of the vets who are probably in their last year anywhere?FO and Dugout need to get on same page.

  17. HHover - Jun 14, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    The intertubes never cease to amaze me. Let's review:1. The FO made some good and maybe great picks in the draft last week; 2. the team is coming home from a winning road trip and is on a three-game winning streak;3. the face of the franchise will be on the diamond tonight for the first time in months.And yet all some folks have to offer are the same tired complaints about Riggs and Rizzo?!Give it a rest.

  18. Manassas Nats Fan - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    50 years ago today The Senators beat the Orioles 5-1 and improved to 29 wins 30 loses (if you recall they ended the year 62-100). Catcher Gene Brown smacked a 2 run homer and Dick Donovan improved to 3 and 5 with a 5 hit 5 K complete game for the Nats. Attendance was 8363Red Flaherty called the balls and strikes that day. A interesting side note Brooks Robinson was the O's lead off hitter that game. I wonder if that happened often.

  19. still waiting..... - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:08 PM

    You forget…..we are in LAST PLACE…as always!it never ceases to amaze me that it is the Back Slappers who are so dismissive of other peoples opinions.if you are not Rah Rah everything is wonderful, you get called out and told to keep it to yourself.We all cant be MASNites

  20. Bowdenball - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:14 PM

    FS-Sounds like you have a pretty good feel for it already with the Cliff Lee mention. Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips were included in that same deal. That's enough right there. But as a general matter, there's the common sense notion that when an organization is owned by its competition and its existence- and the futures of its front office- are uncertain no matter how good of a job they do, there will be less time and effort devoted to important things like scouting and player development. There's also no motivation to spend- in fact the opposite, since the 29 other owners would be spending to better a rival and wouldn't necessarily see the return on that investment directly because the club would likely be sold before those young players made an impact; it would only come in the form of possibly getting a higher bid on the club rather than an improved team generating more revenue at the turnstiles, at the merchandise stores and on TV. And that bore out in the real world- the Lerners inherited what was universally considered the worst farm system in baseball.

  21. Unkyd - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    Wonk: …. Spoken from my own heart!! Nice post… Please: where did you read the "embarrassment of riches commen"? I've kinda wanted to hear some relatively uninterested party make that kind of remark….

  22. N. Cognito - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    I don't understand all the complaining. The new concessions in rightfield are opening today (Shake Shack, etc.) and Happy Hour at the Miller Scoreboard Walk now begins 2-1/2 hours before each game, for the rest of the season.http://www.jdland.com/dc/index.cfm/3502/First-Look-at-New-Nationals-Park-Eateries-(Shake-Shack-et-al/

  23. UNTERP.NAT - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    I'm not saying this because he led off the last two games, but Jason Werth on this team should have been the lead off guy all along and until they find a real lead off guy he should fit that bill. Bernadina should be batting 2nd. Desmond should be batting 8th, Espi 7th, Ramos/Pudge 6th, Morse 5th, Nix 4th, Zimmerman 3rd. I know I did this ass backwards…

  24. N. Cognito - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    Of course it royally sucks how bad and inept the Nats have been the last few years, but I'm curious how long people here thinks it takes to rebuild a team when the minor leagues are almost totally barren and the major league squad is mostly filled with guys on the downhill side of their careers. This does not even take into account the idiot GM the Nats had.

  25. Bowdenball - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    N. Cognito, I agree 100%. To me, today maybe even has the feel of a turning point for the club. Most importantly the team is playing quality baseball with great defense and coming off a winning road trip. The farm system is moving up the rankings by leaps and bounds- can't wait to see the rankings going into next season after the draft we just had- young guys like Ramos and Espinosa and maybe Desmond look like possible long-term contributors, and we're probably 12 months away from seeing Strasburg and Harper in Nationals uniforms alongside Zimmerman, Werth and friends. And now the park has been improved too. I've never happier or more optimistic about the Nats than I am right now.

  26. UNTERP.NAT - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    N. Cognito said… I don't understand all the complaining. The new concessions in I haven't been to all the ballparks, a few less than half. But from my vantage point when Five Guys and Teddy's Barbeque was at Nationals Park, along with all the other food, I thought Natinals Park had the best food in the Majors. Then it disappeared, and now the Shake-Shack and Bluesmoke barbeque and the Mexican food. MMMMMMMMMMM…

  27. Unkyd - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:55 PM

    Look…. Some of us are "half-full", some, "half-empty". Still waiting makes nothing but valid points, given his(?) long perspective… Seven years is a longtime to be waiting for a club with, still, no realistic chance for a winning record (I'm still hoping, though!). Hhover's take, like my own, is no less valid: this clud was on life support, the first few years. Kasten seems to have resuscitated the roots of the organization (scouting, farm, ect), as well as teaching the Learners the basics on how to run things… My view is, the clock wasn't even ticking, until Bowden left. This organization is only 2-3 years old, as far as I'm concerned. Ghats not making excuses, to me. Spending a buttload of $$ on a bunch of mismatched malcontents (and I have little doubt that's what would likely resulted from trying to field a competitive team, starting from scratch, within a couple if years), would have been a waste of resources, IMHO… But I totally get where Still is coming from!Can we stop telling each other to shut up? We all love the game, and we all want Our Boyz to kick tail, every night.GOOOO NATS!!!!!

  28. UNTERP.NAT - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    N. Cognito said… Of course it royally sucks how bad and inept the Nats have Put it like this, they might as well had been a new franchise 'cause there was nothing there. Be that as it may, if they can sign a top FA pitcher and a leadoff guy, they can contend next year, and if or maybe if Zimmerman wasn't out so long and now that he's back they have a good chance to flirt with .500 or a game or two above it at the end…

  29. UNTERP.NAT - Jun 14, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    Unkyd said… Look…. Some of us are "half-full", some, "half-empty".What if you're both? I know I am…

  30. N. Cognito - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    I'm thinking of doing Mexican tonight, burgers and shakes tomorrow and then barbecue on Thursday. I usually eat before I get to the park, but I wanna try the new places and the Nats Bucks are burning a hole in my pocket.

  31. Natman - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    You can build a team with veteran free agents and win. Of course your payroll will be bigger. The Red Sox of 2004 come to mind…. The Nationals chose not to do that and instead pushed a lousy product and "hope." That campaign is good for only so long. Having Riggs, a mediocre manager (and I know EVERYONE knows that) doesn't help morale. Now that they are actually picking good players in the draft, (thank you for spending money) the product will eventually improve. And by the way, Bowden is to blame, sure, but so are the Lerners for refusing to spend on even an adequate staff or on the draft picks when he was GM. He operated with his hands tied. I dont even think J.C. himself could have done well. And also, Flores was Bowden's pick, from Manny Acta's advice.

  32. sparky - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    DCwonk – Nice post.FS – MLB owned the Expos for a couple years and they did whatever they could to cut costs, put a decent MLB product on the field and think short term. So cheap drafts, trade prospects, cut costs. Omar Minaya was the GM and did what was asked of him. The result was the Lerners bought an organization with an old MLB roster and next to nothing in the minors.

  33. Grandstander - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:10 PM

    I'll continue to buy 5 guys on NJ Ave and just bring it in. Free peanuts! Looks as though they totally remodeled that area as well with trees and grass and whatnot. A park within a park. Looks pretty dope.Whoever this new marketing team is, I think they're doing an amazing job. It ain't easy to shine a turd.Should we be looking into the fact the Nats haven't activated Zimmerman yet? I don't see any corresponding roster moves. Does he need another day? Is Rizzo on his knees somewhere begging Matt Stairs to retire? Are they unsure whether they want to send Bixler back down? Are they just waiting until the last minute?

  34. UNTERP.NAT - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    Natman said… Flores was Bowden's pick, from Manny Acta's advice.Flores is my favorite Nat, but Ramos and Flores together = Young Pudge, maybe…

  35. DFL - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    The Werth as lead-off concept is foolish. Certainly with Zimmerman coming back, they should be batting 2-3 or 3-4. I think a line-up of Bernadina, Desmond, Werth, Zimmerman, Morse, Nix, Espinosa and Ramos the correct call for right now. I wouldn't be surprised if Desmond's offense jumps now that he's improved his defense and, thus, has diminished the pressure Desmond places on himself.

  36. HHover - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    UnkyndHalf full, half empty isn't the point. These "Riggs and Rizzo suck" comments are just spam at this point. It's the same thing again and again, without any relevance to the actual topic of Mark's post. Nats lose? Riggs and Rizzo suck.Nats win? Riggs and Rizzo suck.Series preview? Riggs and Rizzo suck.At least the food discussion is enlightening. Put me in the "bring in 5 guys" category.

  37. UNTERP.NAT - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    DFL said… My point is that there seems to be too much pressure on anyone other than a veteran leading off. Werth is not or has not driven in any runs. His OBA is I think close to the best on the team. It also takes pressure of Bernadina. Werth most likely will return to 2nd anyway…

  38. Natman - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    @HHoover, would you seriously take Riggs over the other 29 managers out there? Where does Riggs go based on your opinion? Do you really think Riggs is the answer for a championship team?

  39. JaneB - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    What HHover said. The Riggs and Rizzo suck comments no matter what happens just get old. But, if that's the lens you have on the world, maybe it gets old to read the rest of us say, "well, even a little better is better. We have some hope for a brighter future." But it shouldn't get old. Because the fact is we DO have hope. Maybe not on the schedule some is would prefer, but things are incrementally better. Just a fact. And it seems worth remembering and celebrating, to me.Go Nats!

  40. natsfan1a - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    FS, re. farm system background, here you go, from the Father of all Nationals Blogs (or something like that):http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16551-2005Jan17.htmlOn another note, I'm really picky about Mexican food as a former California resident, but I can't wait to try the ballpark tacos. Won't make it there until Sunday, though.

  41. natsfan1a - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    Also re. the farm piece, interesting to read the Rijo and Bowden comments on Latin America in retrospect. Heh.

  42. Unkyd - Jun 14, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    I feel ya, Hhover, but there's really only one poster who bangs that drum, early and often, on a more or less daily basis. That's what makes it seem spammy. There's enough head-scratching roster and lineup moves to make me forgive someone for wanting Riggs gone, but Rizzo's only crime seems to be that he hasn't put us in the playoffs, since taking over 2 years ago… Tough room…

  43. Unkyd - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    Looking at the pitcher's matchups, and the Cards' offense, I wouldn't hang my head, if we take 1 of 3….. But how cool would it be to get 2?!GOGOGO!!!!!

  44. dj in Fl. - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:02 PM

    @natmanI think Riggs has done an excellent job moving the goal forward this year, and I should be given another year. It has been a slow process to extract the cancers and get a group to pull together and demand each other perform. They may be struggling to produce runs, like many clubs, but their defense, base running, and on field communications have been a pleasure to watch. Every game I can now expect an improved performance after all these years.Oh boy, baseball in 5 hours.

  45. dj in Fl. - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    not me, Riggleman!That is what happens when you try and not be so wordy.

  46. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    I'm one of the "shoulda spent the money on better free agents while they rebuilt the franchise," with the stipulation rebuilding takes longer that way. No Strasburg. No Harper. No Storen. I'm not a Riggleman fan, either. That said, I think zero-to-81 in five seasons is reasonable. They are now unambiguously getting better. This is the first time the team has been interesting since 2005. To argue it should have been faster misses the point; that milk is spilled. They do seem to be cleaning it up, tho they aren't done yet. And will you *please* quit whining about how oppressed you are just because somebody doesn't agree with you?

  47. Unkyd - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    hehehe…

  48. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    Manassas Nats Fan: Best. Memory. Ever.

  49. FS - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:25 PM

    WOW guys thanks for the help, Bowdenball, Sparky, and Natsfan1a. I know more than I did fifteen minutes ago.I want to look into draft history of Expos. Lost picks or unsigned. To see on what exactly we missed.I thought Garcia and Lohse were struggling as of late. But it is only couple of bad starts for these two. It is possible they use their starts against us to get their standing back. Anyways, I will not count Nats out from any games.

  50. Wally - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    Picking up the All Star thread from last post, here is Fangraphs selection:"Second Base: Rickie Weeks, Brandon Phillips, Danny EspinosaThe first two are no-brainers, and Espinosa is having a nice year and the Nationals need a rep."

  51. Anonymous - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    Snagging Jesus Flores was a steal Uh DC Wonk that would be under Bowden's watch. However, the draft from 2007 on is Rizzo as he likely ran it for Bowden (if you believe what Bowden says about GM's during the draft) with the exception for the higher picks of course.

  52. FS - Jun 14, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    That's the correct rating of second base from NL. Weeks and Phillips both play in a hitter friendly park and Danny's defense is 100 times better than theirs. But those two are more solid performers at the plate, avg, power, runs, and so on.Then again, if you look at relievers' (closers included) standings, I have to say Venters and Clippard right behind him. Almost every closer has WHIP issues. My relievers are Putz, Hanrahan, Venters, and Clippard.

  53. Anonymous - Jun 14, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    Manassas Nats Fan: Best. Memory. Ever. YUP! And sec3, unkyd, janeb, you forgot to mention the continuous whining about the hitting coach Eckstein? I've never complained about him myself but imagine these young Nats WITH THAT HITTING COACH? Imagine if Teddy Ballgame could get Harper under his wing? He took Brinkman from a sub-Mendoza hitting shortstop to a solid .260 contact hitter. Del Unser from a decent fielding outfielder with NO BAT to a good outfielder with a bat. Frank Howard from a .230 strike out artist to a guy who could barely run hitting .300 and perennially competing with Boog Powell and Harmon Killebrew for the HR and RBI titles. Ken McMullen learned to hit. Then too did the slick fielding Aurelio Rodriguez. Tim Cullen was AAA no hope for him and others still what Williams accomplished in a short time was nothing short of remarkable.

  54. UNTERP.NAT - Jun 14, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    ESPN980 just reported that Ryan Zimmerman has been reinstated to the roster…

  55. Anonymous - Jun 14, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    I want to look into draft history of Expos. Lost picks or unsigned. To see on what exactly we missed.I think NatsFarmAuthority had a pretty good compendium. But its gone. SpringfieldFan is doing a great job maintaining the list but it no longer goes back as far as it did.

  56. Anonymous - Jun 14, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    Pete Rose, hitting coach.

  57. Anonymous - Jun 14, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    Pete Rose, hitting coach.As fast and aggressive as he was he never managed to hit .400 like Ted "gazelle" Williams. OBP probably was invented based on the concepts he elaborated in his book "The Science of Hitting". A must for any true Nat's fans book shelf

  58. N. Cognito - Jun 14, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    Cardinals:Theriot – SSRasmus – CFPujols – 1BBerkman – LFMolina – CBrown – RFSchumaker – 2BDescalso – 3BGarcia – P Nationals: Werth – RFDesmond – SSZimmerman – 3BMorse – 1BEspinosa – 2BRamos – CAnkiel – CFMaya – PHairston – LF

  59. Anonymous - Jun 14, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    Espinosa's UZR is outta sight. He is raking when he bats right handed. It the platoon at bats from the left-side that are killing his offensive stats. Fangraphs states that 600AB are needed before a determination can be made whether the hitter can manage switch hitting … Danny's only had 130 so far.

  60. N. Cognito - Jun 14, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Another key point about the Expos under MLB's "stewardship." MLB was planning to contract the Expos and Twins and allowed Minaya to gut the minor leagues.

  61. Anonymous - Jun 14, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    The "vet pack" comes first: Hairston over Nix? Is Nix injured? At least Bernadina does thus Ankiel.Still sure seems like someone promised a slot in the starting lineup in order to save their first born.

  62. A DC Wonk - Jun 14, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    for those above who are saying things like: "the bottom line is in year 7, the major league product has marginally improved."Yep. But Rizzo was in Arizona seven years ago.There's a clear and obvious improvement since the two consecutive 100-loss seasons.

  63. Manassas Nats Fan - Jun 14, 2011 at 10:25 PM

    I remember my first game at DC Stadium. Nats played the Wins in a double header. Killabrew homered in each game.June 14 1964.

  64. Water23 - Jun 14, 2011 at 10:46 PM

    Mark,I have noticed a lot of teams have begun signing draft picks. Now, I do not expect the top players to be signed until the deadline but is there any update on the later rounds or undrafted players?

  65. Manassas Nats Fan - Jun 14, 2011 at 11:16 PM

    I see Maya didn't listen to me.Bug Car and I said offline, we would pitch around Pujols each at bat. I warned Maya not to pitch to him, but he refused to listened (as did McCatty)

  66. Manassas Nats Fan - Jun 14, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    Make that big Cat hit the wrong keys

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NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 55 44 --
ATLANTA 55 46 1.0
NEW YORK 48 53 8.0
MIAMI 47 52 8.5
PHILADELPHIA 43 57 12.5
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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