In Search of the Elusive W

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, April 12, 2007 | 3 comments »

After nine games, the Nats have scored 21 runs and allowed 61. By the averages, they are not only the lowest scoring team in the majors, but also have allowed the most runs per game. This, my friends, is a recipe for disaster. I'm not breaking new ground here, but could this team actually challenge the ignominious title of "Worst Ever"? Yea, verily. All winter long we heard about how the Nats were upgrading the pitching by getting rid of the dreck they had last year. The reasoning espoused by many was that it couldn't be worse. So far, so wrong.

There's a statistic used in fantasy called VORP, Value Over Replacement Player. Basically, it provides a player's worth above the run-of-the-mill player that would be available if the Big Leagues had a free agent pool like fantasy leagues generally do. Well, guess what? The Nats starters last year were below replacement value. That means they could have signed any free agent off the street and they would perform at least as poorly as those that were already here. That combination left the team with a 71-91 record, good for last place in the NL East and 6th worst in MLB.

Well I'm here to tell you, after nine games it looks like the brain-trust was incorrect, that they could go out and get anybody and they would be better than what they had. John Patterson is a shell of his former self. Control of his fastball is almost non-existent, his velocity is down, and his confidence is going down with it. Jerome Williams is what he is, which is a moderately talented thrower who never learned how to pitch and was overhyped by his first team to the detriment of his development. Shawn Hill and Matt Chico grade out to 4th-5th starters in the bigs and are learning as they go. Ask Mike Maroth circa 2003 or Zach Grienke circa 2005 how that usually works out. The rest, unfortunately, aren't even really worth debate. The truth of the matter is that NONE of these guys would be on any other big league roster, including Kansas City, except this one.

If you believe in "The Plan", you expected to suffer this year with the promise that in a few years things would be better and the team would be competitive. Time will tell on that. Mr. Kasten's track record speaks for itself, but then again, so does Mr. Bowden's. What they didn't tell you is just how bad this team really will be this year, and realistically, for the next 3-5. Cause it will take that long to draft and develop enough talent to be major league ready. MLB's amateur draft is the freakiest of all player entry drafts, the most volatile and unsettled. There's really NO WAY to decide who will be a good major league player until they get there.

History is filled with 1st round draft busts and 62nd round Hall of Famers. So the lesson there is that it will take several-to-many drafts to unearth enough talent to have a core to build on. By that time, Patterson's arm will surely have finally fallen off, Zimmerman will have reached free agency, and all the one-year free agents signed this year, and for that matter, the next several, will be history, mere footnotes in the chapters of the biography of the Washington Nationals.

Basically, what I am preaching here is this: Love Baseball for what it is. Not for the promise of a contender, because that is well down the road, if ever. It's taking your kid to the park for the first time, and hopefully many times after that. It's the green of the grass and reddish brown of the infield dirt. It's fooling a hitter with a called strike three. It's a 60 year old manager in stretchy pants getting the boot for arguing with the ump. And it's the crack of hardened ash connecting with a 90 MPH fastball.

So don't get wrapped up in how bad the team is for now, because in the grand scheme, that why there wasn't a team here for 30 years.


  1. Dave Nichols // April 14, 2007 at 8:12 PM  

    just wanted to see if this worked

  2. Anonymous // April 25, 2007 at 9:46 PM  

    If I want to love baseball for what it is, I can go to a game in Bowie Federick and Prince William - and for significantly less than for what it costs to go see the AAA Nats. How can you or the Lerners justify paying $20/ticket to watch this mess? And you'r right it's going to get worse before it gets better - if ever.

  3. Dave Nichols // April 26, 2007 at 2:47 PM  

    well anonymous, if you want to watch minor league baseball, go ahead. personally, i prefer watching major leaguers, even if the better major leaguers play for the other team. i appreciate your point though, and if money is the issue, the minors are a better place to get your baseball jones. but if the idea of giving a billionaire your $20 is the issue, then i suppose you've attended your last big league game.