Siberian Baseball

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Washington Nationals (81-81, .500, 5th in NL East)

The long-suffering Montreal Expos were finally unshackeled from their exile in the wolverine- and mink-infested backwoods of Canada and presented all shiny and new in our nation's capital.

They were greeted with a hero's welcome and struck out to a handsome lead in the NL East before sometime around the All-Star Break, the rest of the league realized, "... Wait... We get it now! These guys used to be the Expos, didn't they?" and the party was over.

The Nats finished an even .500 on the season and that was that.

This offseason saw the signing of Alfonso Soriano from Texas and that may be the dumbest move made this winter, but more on that later.

First, I'd like to focus on a man among boys and a hog among piglets. I speak, of course, of Matthew LeCroy.

LeCroy was the only player that Minnesota fans consistiently (and openly) heckled at Spring Training last year. In and of itself, that was reason enough to keep him with the Twins. When the nicest people in the Midwest are agitated with your performance, that's saying something.

Fan One: "Hey fat boy! You're out of shape!"
Fan Two: "Also you are lazy."
Fan One: "You betcha!"

Then again, David Ortiz is lard-assing his way to 100-RBI seasons and MVP contention after the Twins gave him the boot, so go figure. I liked the guy and will miss seeing him. There's something to be said for players on the hometown team who you know you could beat in a comprehensive athletic competition without having to quit smoking first.

Back to the big issue for the Nationals (other than no solid pitching), which is what to do with Soriano. Unwilling to move Jose Vidro - either to the outfield or to another team - they are stuck with a premium player, but no place to play him.

Soriano is digging his heels in now, not wanting to move to the the outfield, and the Nats have limited options. Meanwhile, the knock of Soriano (average glove, but he loses focus and gets a bit lazy over the course of a long season) pretty much dictates that you'd want to keep Vidro in position there and Manny Ramirez Soriano out to left field.

While this has been an interesting side plot this spring, I hadn't paid a ton of attention to it. Also, in these capsules, I've been editing them for space, cutting the fifth and sixth right fielder on the depth chart if they don't matter. In this case, look at the logjam in left. If you are the Nationals, you're telling Soriano to get in the middle of that mess? Are you sure? Also, if you are the Nationals, quit collectively reading this blog and get back to work, slackers...

Let me put it this way. At the all you can eat sushi restaurant, they keep sending great fish around and around and around and it's your job to pick out what you want and grab it as it goes by.

Now, I really dig eel. Probably my favorite type of sushi because it's served warm and so you can't just pick eel up at the grocery store's sushi cooler. When I see eel coming around, I'll lunge for it, regarless of any other type of fish I already have in front of me... unless I already have eel.

The Nats had some really good eel with Vidro and they wanted to go with some warmer eel that refuses to pay attention for every inning of every game and frustrates the manager because the only way to guarantee that focus is to play in a big game (which doesn't happen a majority of the time).

My question is why they would do this without a plan in place to either move Soriano and have his blessing to do so or trade him or Vidro for some starting pitching... or a really good cut of tuna.

Washington Nationals
C: Schneider; LeCroy
1B: Nick Johnson; LeCroy; Fick; Anderson
2B: Vidro; Soriano; Marlon Anderson
SS: Guzman; Zimmerman
3B: Zimmerman
LF: Soriano; Anderson; Byrd; Church; Kelly; Watson
CF: Church; Byrd; Watson
RF: Guillen; Anderson; Byrd; Church; Watson

SP: Hernandez; Patterson; Ortiz; Lawrence; Armas; Drese
CP: Cordero
RP: Ayala; Eischen; Hughes; Majewski; Rauch; Bermann; Stanton



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