Halfway through the last year at RFK

July 9, 2007

Time for a break!

The All Star break couldn’t come sooner for the Nationals. Going 6-15 since the last time they strung together 2 wins in a row, they have hit a bit of a lull recently. Alternatively, perhaps they’re really waiting for the end of the season. To be fair, other than the Pirates, they have played some good teams recently – the Braves, Milwaukee, Cleveland and the red-hot Chicago Cubs. They play a somewhat easier schedule after the break, so they should be able to string together a win or two. Regardless, they have gone 35-52 to this point, on pace for 65 wins and, that’s right, LESS than 100 losses. Sure, they’re not gonna win anything this year, but for a team trying to learn who will be part of their future, they know that nobody is giving up, and they know that even now they’re better than people expected. They also have a few more starters than they realized, even with out John Patterson. It will be interesting to watch them when they can send out Matt Chico, Jay Bergmann, and Shawn Hill on consecutive nights. That kind of group, while not a set of aces, does help limit losing streaks and turn bad teams into mediocre teams. If the three of them can form a core of quality starters, this team may be closer to contention than people realize. If Patterson makes any sort of recovery to pitch like his old self, this team may actually have 4 of their 5 starters set for next season.

The big questions for this team right now surrounds trades. Who will they get rid of? What will they get in return? Right now, there hasn’t been too much interest in Dmitri Young, but that is subject to change as the trade deadline approaches. Belliard is another player who is doing well right now and could be a key trade piece. Remember though, the players that are playing well are on one-year contracts. Trading teams would get rent-a-players, and they aren’t going to give up their top prospects for these guys. For now, just sit back and relax, enjoy watching Da Meat Hook in the All Star game, because it is really a remarkable comeback for him.

Lopez’s new address

Since Felipe Lopez moved to SS he is hitting better than when he played 2B. He knows that he is pretty much the SS for the rest of the season, so he can relax and concentrate on hitting. As of the break, his splits are .279/.380/.395 since he moved over from second, which are boosted by a strong Sunday, and are only over the course of 13 games. What will be interesting is seeing if the hopefully more relaxed Lopez can hit the way he was expected to hit when he got traded from Cincinnati. He may not have the best glove in the league, but if he can hit somewhat like he did with the Reds, well, obviously it’s better to have a poor defender who can hit at SS than a poor defender who can’t at 2B.

Sad Day at The Review

The White Sox locked up Mark Buehrle to a four year deal this weekend, and I couldn’t have been more disappointed. Not that the Nationals had much of a chance of signing him, but it would have been nice to see them take a shot. What’s so great about him? Well, at some point at the end or after the season we’ll go over the list of free agent pitchers available. It is not promising and Buehrle was the best of the bunch. Many of you may be thinking that I am overvaluing Mark, but take a look at what he’s done. He had a bad season last year. His ERA was 4.99 and he struck out less than 100 batters. But look at his career prior to that. He is not considered by many to be an elite pitcher, but he may be a “quiet” elite pitcher. Since 2001 he has been top 10 in the AL in the following categories multiple times:

  • ERA, Wins, WHIP, K/BB ratio (3 times each)
  • Games started, CGs, shutouts (4 times each)
  • Innings pitched (5 times)

Buehrle is a machine. This season, besides throwing a no-hitter, he is on pace to have over 200 IP again, for the 7th year in a row. And as of the All-Star break, had the 6th best ERA in the AL. Take a good look at this 28-year-old one more time. If he continues what he’s done for the next 10 years, he may never win a Cy Young, but he could rack up 250 wins. If he moved to the pitcher-friendly confines of NL East parks, who knows what he could have done. Oh well, congrats to him for playing just where he wants to play.


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