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Nats can’t climb out of early hole

Aug 3, 2011, 10:57 PM EST

US Presswire photo
Chien-Ming Wang fell to 0-2 in two starts since coming off the DL.

Digging yourself into a six-run hole and hoping to climb out of it against arguably the best bullpen in the majors? Not exactly a blueprint for success.

Yet here the Nationals stood in the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday afternoon, having overcome Chien-Ming Wang’s shaky start and a hefty deficit to the Braves to put themselves in position to come all the way back.

And then Mother Nature, along with three Atlanta relievers named Eric O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel, combined forces to stop the Nationals dead in their tracks and ultimately walk away with a 6-4 loss.

Had they somehow pulled this one out and completed a three-game sweep of the NL wild-card leaders, the Nationals would have departed town for a 10-game road trip with spirits soaring. As it was, they still head to Colorado playing much better baseball, with a lineup that’s finally running on most cylinders and a reconfigured bullpen that is recapturing its early season form.

“I mean, we won two out of three the last two series, and that’s all you can ask,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “That’s our goal every time: to win the series. A sweep is a bonus. Obviously, you’d
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  1. SCNatsFan - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    It amazes me Wang as been here as long as he has and still uses an interpreter.Going in to the series I thought that there was a better likelihood we got swept the us winning 2 of 3 so all tings being equal a good start to the week for us. Lets keep it up into the weekend.

  2. JaneB - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:16 AM

    How lonely it must be for Wang to play a sport, which depends so much on team camaraderie and vibe, and not be able to speak to them. I thought it was the catcher who says what to throw, and the pitcher (for the most part) throws it? If so, why was Davey blaming Wang?I did not expect these guys to take two out of three from the Braves, I will say that right out. I'm glad they did. I'm just sayin'. And it looks like, till Wang gets out of late spring training mode, we will just lose every fifth game, unless our offense explodes.

  3. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:31 AM

    I'm really underwhelmed by Wang. He just doesn't miss many bats. At best, he's a groundballer who rarely tops 91 on the gun. At worst, which is what we've seen, he's a BP hurler who gives up a run an inning. I'm with JaneB. It's a loss every fifth day. I hope we just cut this stiff at the end of the year, and cut our losses. Another StanK-inspired flop.

  4. SCNatsFan - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:43 AM

    I agree JaneB, and I think how tough it must be to rehab on a new team and have to use an interpreter. You can see how if you didn't speak English then going to a team who has someone who speaks your language would be a huge plus; I think it will factor heavily in where Yu Darvish ends up.

  5. A DC Wonk - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    I don't see it as a loss every fifth day. More probable than not? Yes, but not a lock. After all, he came pretty close to getting out of the fifth today. And we don't know how long he'll be in "spring training" form.

  6. Dave - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    The catcher makes pitch suggestions. The pitcher either goes with them or shakes them off. The ultimate choice of what to pitch is made by the pitcher. Wang's bad outings aren't the fault of Flores or Ramos. He's responsible for his success and lack thereof. I do wonder what happens in a mound conference, though, when there's no common language.

  7. The Great Unwashed - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:49 AM

    JaneB,Maybe Flores called for the pitches Davey wanted but Wang shook him off.

  8. Ichiro - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    Like some other players, Wang uses an interpreter for media interviews.

  9. sjm308 - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:02 AM

    Couple of thoughts – I was there today and I had not seen Wang pitch in person before. The picture Mark has captured is one of my thoughts, there is no way he is looking at the plate when he throws.2. Right before the homerun, McCatty and Flores were at the mound. If he needs an interpreter, what was said and who understood it?3. Sunshine Bobby is right, he did not strikeout one batter and there were very few swings and misses, I keep score and was amazed at that. Also amazed that our 3 relievers basically pitched no-hit ball in their 4 innings.4. Wang just doesn't look comfortable, even though he did fine for a couple of innings. I am guessing we will see him at least two more times but I can't wait for Peacock, Milone and maybe even Maya. Can't imagine that anyone will honestly want Wang after this year. 5. One last thing, if the pitcher makes the error that leads to runs, why aren't they earned? I mean it was his poor throw that opened the door on that 4 run mess.Hope we will bounce back and keep winning series. I was impressed with both of these series wins and would love to see more.Go Nats

  10. Dawn - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:12 AM

    Wang has been out of it a while, he may be depending on these two young catchers and their "suggestions" a little too much. The pitcher/catcher meetings before the game set out a game plan, but players adjust during the game. Wang will figure it out eventually, I hope. Might help to have Pudge catch him a couple of times, he seems to give pitchers some confidence. The language of baseball is pretty simple, it's all in "sign" language for the pitcher anyway. I'm sure Wang understands a lot more English than he feels comfortable speaking.

  11. Carpe Diem - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:15 AM

    @JaneB said… How lonely it must be for Wang to play a sport, which depends so much on team camaraderie and vibe, and not be able to speak to them. ____________________You must have not seen previous interviews with him or Debbi Taylor's pre-game. He doesn't always use an interpretor except for large post-game interviews. Zim has said that he has had good talks with Wang.

  12. sjm308 - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:28 AM

    I think the player who must be absolutely lonely is Maya. His family is still in Cuba, pretty sure he spoke NO english when he arrived here and to be shuttled back and forth also has to be tough. I am not suggesting he deserves to be up with the big club but I am suggesting that he has had less then two years adjusting to a new culture where Wang has been in the US for at least 6 years.

  13. Eugene in Oregon - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:47 AM

    If this has recently been addressed, forgive me for missing it, but what other options exist for Mr. Wang besides starting every fifth day in the major leagues? And I don't mean simply moving him to the bullpen. I haven't given up on his potential to return to the majors as a starter, but it seems pretty clear that he could use some additional starts at a lower level before having to face any more major league hitters. In particular, I'm wondering about potential avenues for him to return to Syracuse for a few more starts.I fully understand that when he completed his 30-day rehab assignment he had to be called up or released. But he was, indeed, called up and put on the 25-man roster, so that box has been checked.I assume — perhaps I'm wrong — that he could be put on (and passed through) waivers. I can't imagine that any other team would be particularly inclined to claim him. As I understand it, if he passes through waivers, he could be assigned to Syracuse (or wherever) for another few weeks. The biggest obstacle — at least as I understand it — is that as a veteran he could refuse such an assignment. But wouldn't it make sense, from his and his agent's standpoint, to accept a few more starts against minor league hitters given what we've seen in the past week against big league batters?I'm sure I've missed something (and I'm equally sure folks will correct me), but I've got to believe there are options other than pitching him or releasing him. Thoughts?

  14. Carpe Diem - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:51 AM is the video of Wang's interview with Debbi Taylor today in English.

  15. NatsLady - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:52 AM

    I'm not so sure he would pass through waivers. If I were the Cubs or some other team that was not in contention and didn't mind paying his salary, I'd take a chance–given that the Nats have basically paid for his rehab.

  16. Anonymous - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:53 AM

    I was looking at the Syracuse roster and saw that Tom Milone has gone on the DL. Anyone have details?

  17. natsfan1a - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:54 AM

    fwiw, there was a one-on-one interview with Wang on the pregame show, and he answered the questions directly, in English. Perhaps he is more comfortable having an interpreter in group media session. He struck me as being capable of handling an in-game mound conference on his own.

  18. NatsLady - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:57 AM

    Carpe Diem, thanks for the link. I can see why Wang uses a translator with a large media audience, and, watching Davey's video, I wish he would, too. Mumble-mumble-mumble…ooh, the captcha is "flaws".

  19. NatsLady - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:58 AM

    re: Milone. Some kind of "elbow inflammation", put on the seven-day DL (they have that in the minors) as a "precaution" (as per Charlie and Dave in their Wednesday Minor League Report).

  20. natsfan1a - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:02 AM

    Ah, on reading through the rest of the comments, I see that others have made the same point that I did. I think Dawn's final thought in particular is a good one. Some folks are not inclined to converse much in a foreign language until their command of grammar and nuances is near perfect, although their understanding of conversations might be very good. (I'm kinda that way myself. When we lived overseas at one point, I didn't break out my verbal language skills all that much until I felt confident that I wouldn't make any real blunders – although I did still make some real screamers, natch. :-))

  21. Anonymous - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:05 AM

    Eugene, I wouldn't be so sure he'd get through waivers, but if they ask and someone claims him, they have to either lose him or pull him back, and if they do that they don't get to ask again.

  22. Carpe Diem - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:20 AM

    @NatsLady said… I'm not so sure he would pass through waivers. If I were the Cubs or some other team that was not in contention and didn't mind paying his salary, I'd take a chance–given that the Nats have basically paid for his rehab. August 3, 2011 9:52 PM ______________________________If another team picks him up off of waivers, they can sign him to the league minimum and the Nats pick up the freight on the rest of the contract. I am sure if he went on waivers that the Orioles would snag him in a typical Peter Angelos move. I can see the headline now, Orioles Peter snags Wang.

  23. Carpe Diem - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:22 AM

    Wang if released would be similar to Oliver Perez. The Mets are paying the bulk of his salary and the Nats are paying the league minimum.

  24. NatsLady - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:22 AM

    Carpe Diem: Ha. Then if they don't take a big hit on the salary, all the claiming team would be giving up would be a spot on the 25-man?

  25. Anonymous - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:34 AM

    I think the question was asking waivers, not releasing him.

  26. Carpe Diem - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:35 AM

    NatsLady, not even. They could do what the Nats did with Oliver Perez and put him in the Minors.I don't think it will happen that Rizzo would release him as he is 4 weeks away from September where he can expand the rosters and have Wang as an emergency starter or stick him in the bullpen.

  27. NatsLady - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:38 AM

    Carpe, thanks for info. I agree, you've come this far with Wang, just go forward and hope for the best. I feel he is carrying his end as best one could ask, I don't feel any lack of effort on his part.

  28. Carpe Diem - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:40 AM

    Good point. My mistake. I used the word waiver a few posts ago instead of outright release. If someone claimed him off of waivers then it would be subject to a waiver trade/negotiation or the Nats could pull him back. If he cleared waivers the Nats could outright release him and anyone could pick him up at the league minimum and the Nats would be responsible for the rest of his contract.

  29. NatsLady - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:43 AM

    I'm confused now, but the bottom line seems to be it wouldn't pay at this point to release Wang or put him through waivers.

  30. Carpe Diem - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:48 AM

    Big effort by Wang. Stairs made a big effort at times and sometimes it just isn't there. If Wang doesn't produce, Rizzo gets another blemish and trust me, everyone keeps score, just ask Jim Bowden, they remember the negatives and rarely the positives.Davey let Wang down. He could have brought in Gorzalany vs. Freeman or Coffey vs. Uggla. Instead, he let Wang stay in there. Didn't Davey see he could get out of it with no runs when Freeman stepped in? 2-0 was a lead the Nats could win, 6-0 against the Braves best bullpen, don't think so.

  31. Carpe Diem - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:52 AM

    @NatsLady said… I'm confused now, but the bottom line seems to be it wouldn't pay at this point to release Wang or put him through waivers. August 3, 2011 10:43 PM _________________I don't see either situation of putting him on waivers or DFA.

  32. NatsLady - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:59 AM

    Carpe, I do blame Davey (again) on this one, for exactly what you say (and I said so at the time), or he could have removed Wang at the time when it was 3-0. Davey pushed it too far, just like with Livo. On the subject of prospects: I was listening to Baseball America and the guy made a good point. If you make a mistake trading for prospects, that can happen. You have scouts following a guy for maybe a week, maybe you are looking at video, etc.If you make a mistake on your own prospects, that's bad. You have seen the guy for a hundred games, you've had your instructors out there to see if the guy takes and understands instruction or is just out there "having fun." I don't keep score on Rizzo because I don't have time or the staff to keep track of all the players on all the teams, plus prospects, plus deal with the yo-yo's in Prince William County, etc., etc., etc.I do keep score on Davey though…

  33. Carpe Diem - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:01 AM saying "I didn't see a whole lot from him"Didn't Davey watch what FP was seeing?

  34. A DC Wonk - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:17 AM

    NatsLady said… Carpe, I do blame Davey (again) on this one, for exactly what you say (and I said so at the time), or he could have removed Wang at the time when it was 3-0. Davey pushed it too far, just like with Livo. Except that last time everybody here was complaining that he lifted Livo too soon. Remember?Carpe Diem said… Didn't Davey watch what FP was seeing?Perhaps Davey came to a different conclusion.

  35. NatsLady - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:26 AM

    I'm talking about the time Livo melted down. I didn't complain when Davey lifted Livo for a pinch hitter the other day, I understood his reasoning. That is to me a different situation than lifting a pitcher because he is tiring or his pitches have stopped working, or he is on the second or third time through the line-up and the hitters have caught on to his stuff. Those are the situations where I'm questioning Davey. In the case of Wang, it was not an issue of letting the guy learn how to work through jams. Wang is not a rookie, and I'm sure he knows how to work through jams, if he has the stuff. So what was he waiting for?

  36. NatsLady - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:33 AM

    Another thing is, why is Davey carping about the pitch selection after the fact.I would not be surprised if Wang doesn't know the league as well as Livo, and Wang was working with Flores, not Ramos or Pudge. So when Wang and Flores were in the back room yesterday charting pitches (which one assumes they were!) who was with them? Or why not send Cat out to tell the pair of them what pitches to use? Am I missing something here?

  37. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:58 AM

    No, Nats Lady, you're not. Wang was gassed, he didn't have much to start with, Uncle Davey was asleep at thd switch, trying to save his overworked bullpen, and it might have cost him a game. Wang wasn't much to start with, and when he was gassed, the Braves took full advantage. I dread his next start in the Friendly Confines. It won't be pretty.

  38. Dave - Aug 4, 2011 at 4:14 AM

    @sjm308, regarding which runs are earned and which not, I understand the principle to be to judge the pitcher by what he does as a pitcher. The moment that dribbler was hit, Wang became a fielder. Thus his error was a throwing error by a fielder, who let his pitcher (I.e., himself) down. On the other hand, the runs that Beachy allowed via two wild pitches were all about Beachy's screwing up as a pitcher. He didn't give any fielders a shot at fielding a batted ball.

  39. Dave - Aug 4, 2011 at 4:19 AM

    And to pick up on the last two comments before mine, regarding Wang's being left in, all the runs the Braves scored in the fifth resulted from that error. If he makes a decent throw to first, Uggla never comes to bat with runners on base. It was three ground-outs in a row. That doesn't tell me he was gassed as a pitcher then. In fact, he sharpened up decently after the first inning.

  40. Dave - Aug 4, 2011 at 4:27 AM

    Sorry, not three ground-outs in a row. It was a throwing error (should've been an out), a single, then two fielder's choices which would've resulted in outs 2 and 3. At worst, Uggla could've had Freeman on base ahead of him in the sixth.

  41. NatsLady - Aug 4, 2011 at 4:31 AM

    Dave, I agree he sharpened up after the first inning. But I still think that by the fifth, Davey should have been on high alert. I think Davey wanted Wang to finish the fifth (which he eventually did) because his spot was coming up and he didn't want to double switch, and I feel that's why he didn't sense that between the error and the runners on base, Wang was losing control of the situation and of his pitches.

  42. dale - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    So is Wang on sort of a reverse pitch count–the kind where he is supposed to throw a minimum amount of pitches each outing? It appears that major league games are just part of his therapy, which is unfortunate for the rest of the team. I am fine with him taking up a roster spot in order to not lose him to waivers but I would rather that he throw in the bullpen and be saved for games that are not competitive, at least until his real sinker returns to his arsenal. So far there have been two winnable games that were sacraficed by the fifth inning. Management needs to think more about this situation.

  43. baseballswami - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    This truly is an awkward situation with Wang. I think the better thing to do would be to give him maybe 3 innings a game with Gorzelanny in the wings – he doesn't seem to have a lot of innings in him either. Maybe 4 starts of only 3 innings to re-orient himself to the game instead of trying to push him. I feel that the FO is conceding every fifth game. Another factor – Flores yesterday? He is doing better at throwing runners out but all of the pitchers have seemed to have difficulty with him calling games. The language thing — it seems like even pitchers with english as a second language can converse functionally about the pitching. Besides, I think I might need a translator to talk to Debbie ( what was your approach?)Taylor…..

  44. NatsLady - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    This quote (paraphrased) from Keith Law: Rizzo did a smart thing. He's not a buyer, but he let it be known he would be interested in a centerfielder (Bourn, Span, Rasmus, et al.) because he felt he had some excess in his bullpen. Didn't work out, but it was smart.Also feels that the Nationals are a "well-run" team (this meant Davey, because at the time he was comparing the Nats to the Rockies.)Just putting this out there for all you Keith Law lovers. Also he was VERY funny yesterday on Baseball Today re: Tony LaRusso of the Cards and the beanball contest they had with the Brewers. (Didn't hear him on Wang, so that must have been a different show.)

  45. Feel Wood - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Here's a handy Chinese-to-Spanish-to-English translation dictionary for those bilingual mound conferences:CHINESE Chien-Ming WangSPANISH Daniel CabreraENGLISH Hey, this is a family blog!

  46. Steve M. - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    Feel Wood said… Here's a handy Chinese-to-Spanish-to-English translation dictionary for those bilingual mound conferences:CHINESE Chien-Ming WangSPANISH Daniel CabreraENGLISH Hey, this is a family blog! August 4, 2011 8:13 AM Let's hope it never gets as bad as the DCab. He made 8 starts with a 0-5 record before being moved to the bullpen. In all 9 games he appeared, they were Nats losses. He was part of the final straw on Manny Acta as he was the one who knew Cabrera and recommended him for the rotation. The Nationals wasted $2.6 million on him.Remember the Nats started 2009 with a 1-10 record and Mock and Olsen weren't too good themselves. Jordan Zimmermann and Shairon Martis were the star pitchers then.Hard to believe it wasn't that long ago and was the worst season in Nats history with Manny Acta carrying a 26-61 record before being fired.

  47. Steve M. - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    NatsLady said… This quote (paraphrased) from Keith Law: Rizzo did a smart thing. He's not a buyer, but he let it be known he would be interested in a centerfielder (Bourn, Span, Rasmus, et al.) because he felt he had some excess in his bullpen. August 4, 2011 8:08 AM If Keith Law said that, you can throw it out the window as another talking head not knowing the situation. Clearly this wasn't the case "he felt he had some excess in his bullpen".What was more the case was Rizzo felt he would trade a reliever for a centerfielder and the Twins said they want a reliever + more parts or as Ladson claims, they wanted Detwiler and who knows what else. Every other journalist claimed it was Storen at the center of the trade and MASN even had a countdown clock going for Storen leading up to the trade deadline so who knows, but trust me, there is no excess in this 2011 Nats bullpen.

  48. NatStat - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    Wang still needs to be working it out at 'Cuse; he's not ready for prime time, yet!If Davey doesn't trust Wang's pitch selection, he should do what Felipe Alou did with some of his pitchers, including Pedro Martinez, call the pitches from the dugout.

  49. Bowdenball - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    Cabrera and Wang are more like opposite ends of a poop spectrum. Cabrera had a lively arm but couldn't find the strike zone. Wang doesn't just find the strike zone, he can also find the barrel of the bat with impressive regularity.NatsLady: Law is brutally honest, nothing more, nothing less. OK, maybe also a little snarky, but he's as good as they come when it comes to evaluating baseball talent and sharing it with the fans. Sure, occasionally he's wrong, which is inevitable in his business. For example he thought Espinosa's offseason hamate surgery would temporarily sap his power. Oops! But he's right a lot more than anyone else in the media. People who dislike him are generally just people who dislike the reality facing their favorite team.He's right about Rizzo- he's been doing a fantastic job. Since he took over his good decisions outnumber the bads ones at least 3 to 1.He's also right about Wang- he's awful right now. It's a nice story but there's absolutely nothing there. Maybe he'll find something, but it seems very unlikely.

  50. Mark'd - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    SteveM, grab some coffee. Ladson said Detwiler was in the Bourn deal not on the Span deal if that is what you are implying. Agree there is no excess in the 'pen.Also got an ugly taste in my mouth from Feel Wood on Daniel Cabrera.Other comparisons on Stairs is also ugly as he just RETIRED. Surprise surprise, nobody wanted Stairs after he was made available at league minimum.

  51. NatsLady - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    I detest Law, not for his "snarkiness" but because he doesn't do his research in some easy situations and still mouths off at length. However, I do agree with him on Rizzo. I also think Rizzo is doing a very good job, and people who can't see how much improved this team is are, I dunno, blind?I'm keeping an open mind on Wang. If you trust Rizzo as a scout, then you have to feel he sees something there. It may not work out, but Wang's not keeping the Nats out of the playoffs even if he loses every game from now until the end of September. When you are a building team and you don't have a great farm system (yet), you have to look in a lot of places for building blocks. With that, I'm hitting the road… Looking forward to watching the Nats go for the Cubbies in Wrigley Field, I've never seen that ivy in person.

  52. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    As someone who has seen Wang pitch in Viera last year when he couldn't even get on a mound till late July 2010, to someone who could only hit 86 on a gun in October 2010, who could barely break 88 on a regular basis as recently as May 2011, I have to say that he's shown remarkable improvement.Let's not judge too harshly at this time. It's a shame that he has to perform like an early Spring Training arm at the ML level, but it's the only way the team can get any idea about what to do next.I agree that limiting him to 3 or 4 innings for 3 or 4 starts might be a better approach but they really are in a tough spot when it comes to determining what to do next.

  53. Feel Wood - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    He was part of the final straw on Manny Acta as he was the one who knew Cabrera and recommended him for the rotation. The Nationals wasted $2.6 million on him.Revisionist history. Cabrera was a Jim Bowden project, plain and simple. Bowden signed him in Dec 2008 to a major league deal, with no options left. That meant he was going to be in the rotation unless they decided to release him before the season even started. Acta had nothing to do with that, so trying to pin any blame on Acta for Daniel Cabrera is flat out wrong. What was it that Donald Rumsfeld said about going to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had? Acta and Rizzo were forced to assemble a rotation for 2009 from the pitchers they had, not the pitchers they wished they had.

  54. Steve M. - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    Bowdenball-Rizzo's decisions were mostly good in 2010 while Kasten was his boss. Now that Rizzo is on his own, I think he has made some poor on the field decisions including trades that started last winter, Free Agent signings, changing managers, and final roster picks.The one decision which was good was the emphasis and philosophy of the athletic and defensive team.His off-season proclamation of #1 pitcher was the Top Priority shouldn't have been told to the media as he went in search of dead ends and the Greinke trade proposal that made him look desperate.Rizzo went into Spring Training with Nyjer as his centerfielder which wasn't all bad but had no right-handed platoon there to counterbalance Nyjer's horrific numbers in lefty/lefty encounters. Then Rizzo's hand-picked top Free Agent Jayson Werth became combative with Nyjer possibly causing the Nyjer for Cutter Dykstra last minute trade.Alberto Gonzalez was traded for Erik Davis who is a AA pitcher in Harrisburg with a 4.79 ERA and 1.606 WHIP and big regression from the 2.75 ERA and 1.042 WHIP he had last year in San Antonio AA. Did San Diego know something? As it turned out, Alberto Gonzalez has struggled at the plate in San Diego.We can debate Josh Willingham for HenRod and Corey Brown all day long. Josh Willingham should have been traded. It just seems Rizzo didn't get top trade value for Willingham. Again, very subjective and we will never know.Free Agent signings was overpaying Jayson Werth over too many years (7 for $126 million). This will be a big drain in years to come on the Nats payroll.Free Agent Chien-Ming Wang signed to a 1 year deal for $1 million plus $4 million in incentives with NO team option for 2012.Free Agent signing of Adam LaRoche is a disaster when it was revealed that he had a labrum tear. LaRoche would finish the season with a .172 batting average and a stellar glove at 1st. That was $7 million wasted on the team payroll.Free Agent Matt Stairs unfortunately defined Rizzo's year of Free Agent signings as he was on a 1 year deal and it took 4 months of this slash line to cut the $900,000 pinch hitter extraodinaire with this slash line: .154/.257/.169 NO HOME RUNS. 1 big hit. Less RBIs than 4 of the starting pitchers. That's right 2 RBIs in 65 at-bats. When Stairs did get on base, he was generally pinch-run for.Free Agent Chad Gaudin was released after a stint on the DL. Chad had the team worst 2.40 WHIP and 6.48 ERATom Gorzelanny was traded for A.J. Morris, Graham Hicks, and Michael Burgess. Time will tell on this trade but I would say it was a decent Rizzo trade.Trade deadline deals were the following: Jonny Gomes for for Bill Rhinehart and Chris Manno is too early to tell as is Jerry Hairston for Erik Komatsu and Jason Marquis for Zach Walters. Other 2011 Free Agent signings were Laynce Nix, Rick Ankiel, Jerry Hairston, Alex Cora. Generally a decent core that have played well at times.Rule 5 pick Brian Broderick stayed on the roster for almost 2 months before he was DFA'd on May 23rd. He took up a valuable roster spot and not sure what Rizzo scouted as the Cardinals put him back in the Minors. It was often discussed with Broderick, Stairs and Slaten that Riggleman was managing with 22 players instead of 25.Speaking of Slaten, his 2.108 WHIP and propensity for taking inherited runners and letting them score as LOOGY specialist while staying on the roster for 3 months before being put on the DL.Rizzo in the off-season signed Sean Burnett to a 2 year deal. Burnett is the leader of allowing inherited 17 runners to score of the 36 all going on other pitchers ERAs while carrying his own ERA of 4.83Add to this the Rigglman/McLaren to Davey Johnson managerial debacle and you have a GM tenure that doesn't look to good so is that 3-1 favorable for Rizzo or unfavorable?

  55. Steve M. - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Feel Wood, so you think Bowden scouted and found Daniel Cabrera on his own. OK, ask Jim and ask Manny. Obviously JimBo had to agree to it. I know for certain that it was on Manny's recommendation.Let's agree to disagree.

  56. Bowdenball - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Great and thoughtful breakdown, Steve M. I think there's a couple things I disagree with about Rizzo in 2011, though.- I don't see a problem with giving Nyjer a try. There wasn't a better two-way option at CF available outside the organization. There was nothing lost by giving him a chance to mature and live up to his potential. As soon as it became clear he wouldn't, he was traded. No damage done to the organization there.- The Werth signing was a drain on resources but was necessary. It's not a myth that clubs like the Nats have to go above market to sign premium free agents- we saw guys like Teixiera, De La Rosa and Grienke reject us even when we offered the most money (or in Greinke's case, the best package offer). It'll hurt in 2016, but hopefully by then we'll have some playoff appearances and momentum, making the damage easier to bear.- In any event, you can't fault him for one free agent decision without crediting him for another: not signing Dunn despite a very vocal push from the fans. He was absolutely right about that one. Dunn is horrible now and the comp picks we got for them look like great pieces added to our system assuming we sign them.-LaRoche has been a disaster, but to some degree so have all of the 1B free agents. Of that awful group, LaRoche is comparatively cheap and the most likely to bounce back in 2012 You can hold him responsible for not knowing Morse could play a decent 1B, but beyond that it's hard to hold him accountable for his decisionmaking regarding 1B.- I don't think it's too early to evaluate the Hairston and Marquis deals. They're free agents and we got value for them, and they're not good enough that we would have gotten comp picks if we lost them in free agency at the end of the season. That is value added almost beyond question. No downside to those moves. it helps that we actually got some prospects that a few people are high on.- Obviously it's way too early to judge our 2011 draft, but most experts that I trust had nothing but positive things to say about it.So maybe not 3 to 1 good decisions to bad ones, but certainly a lot more good ones than bad in my opinion.

  57. Steve M. - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    Bowdenball, I think it is the weighting of the decisions.1. No issue with Nyjer brought to Spring Training if it was going to be a fair tryout. Problem was Rizzo knew that Nyjer would only thrive in a platoon and only had LH Bernadina and LH Ankiel as alternatives then the curious rumor that Ankiel WAS the CF the minute Rizzo signed him.2. The Nats needed a big splash but 7 years to carry Werth and that salary will be a drain on the system. A 5 to 6 year deal may not have done it but there were other big name Free Agents to make the splash with. All in all, I like Werth just not for 7 years.3. Good point. Holding firm on Dunn turned out to be good. Lucky Chisox took him.4. LaRoche. Right guy, missed diagnosis. I think he was the best pick for the Nats. It was the injury that wasn't found and he should have been shut down sooner. It was really the in-season decisions that hurt the most. Decisions constructing the 25 man roster and the moving parts. Even with Zim injured, this team was moving in the right direction. The weaknesses were Stairs, Broderick, Gaudin, Slaten, and Burnett and Rizzo took too long in each situation. These issues were so obvious, not sure many GMs wouldn't see them.

  58. Mark'd - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    With all the Rizzo discussion on Werth, 5 years at $20 million a year with team options would have made more sense I believe. That would have saved the team $26 million. He will be on the bench I fear in a few years. Unfortunately in hindsight, Werth is playing like an $800,000 player.

  59. Feel Wood - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    Feel Wood, so you think Bowden scouted and found Daniel Cabrera on his own.You say this as if Cabrera was uncovered like a pig finds a truffle. No "scouting and finding" was required for Cabrera. He had been pitching in the major leagues 30 miles up the road for the past five years. And it's doubtful that Acta saw even one of Cabrera's 146 starts as an Oriole, because during those years Acta was a coach or manager in the other league. Acta may have put in a good word for Cabrera if Bowden sounded him out before the signing, but there's no way Acta would have been the one driving the deal as you claim.Hell, even Boswell was saying good things about the Cabrera signing in March 2009. know for certain that it was on Manny's recommendation.Let's agree to disagree.I know for certain you're blowing smoke. Let's agree to disagree.

  60. Dave - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Reading this thread reminded me about the story on SI about the controversial new stem-cell treatment that Colon received. Wonder if it is something LaRoche is considering

  61. Anonymous - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    We all know Jim Bowden did little scouting. It was choosing Cincy Reds and low risk guys with big upside at league min. Daniel Cabrera was neither at $2.6 million just like Wang. What is his upside for the Washington Nationals? What is his $4 million incentive package consist of?

  62. Feel Wood - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    And another thing, SteveM. The Cabrera signing had Bowden's M.O. written all over it. Why is it that Bowden all of a sudden needs Acta to prod him into this reclamation project when he needed no help at all to get into all the others like Dmitri Young, Elijah Dukes, Paul LoDuca, Johnny Estrada, yadda yadda yadda? Perhaps you could blame Kasten for not talking Bowden out of signing Cabrera, but there's no way you can say Acta is the one who talked him into it.

  63. Anonymous - Aug 4, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    The Nats need to find a different charity the CMW. May I suggest ST Judes.





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