Posts Tagged ‘bronson arroyo’

Dusty Baker’s Boys Dropkick Nats

Friday, August 14th, 2009

After losing the second of two in Atlanta (final score: 6-2), the Washington Nationals had high hopes of rediscovering their winning ways in Cincinnati, where the struggling Redlegs are trying to decide whether to wave the white flag or make one last run at the wild card. Sadly for the Nats, Thursday night’s contest was among the most lopsided defeats the Anacostia nine has suffered this year, if not in number of runs scored (or not scored, as the case may be), then at least psychologically.  This seemed a reversion to earlier times, when nothing worked. The Nats’ were held to two hits in their 7-0 loss at the hands of Redlegs, making starter Bronson “Bongwater” Arroyo look like Johnny Vander Meer. Arroyo, with a lackluster 4.74 ERA, is now 11-11. He was all smiles after the game.

While Nats’ fans decry the lack of starting pitching (inaugurated by John Lannan’s blow-up on Tuesday), and the woes in the bullpen (which collapsed in the loss to the Braves on Wednesday), they can now add another factor to the list of complaints: the Nats have scored three runs in three games — and they’re lucky it wasn’t worse. That’s three up and three down: no pitching, no relief pitching, no hitting. Arroyo, a semi-rock star with his own album and a sometime guitarist with the Quincy Massachusetts-based punk rock band Dropkick Murphys, looked untouchable, while Nats’ pitcher Collin Balester looked shakey. At best. Balester, now 1-2 with an even 6.00 ERA, threw strikes: but not many of them moved. The hero for the Reds was Jonny Gomes — a light hitting part-time former Tampa Bay Ray, who hit three home runs: two off of Balester, one off of Jason Bergman. If Arroyo looked like Johnny Vander Meer, Gomes looked like Vada Pinson.

Guitarist Arroyo and groupie

Guitarist Arroyo and groupie

For the first time in two weeks, Washington manager Jim Riggleman was clearly irritated, his mouth set and voice rising during post-game interviews. The Nats played poorly and Rigglemam told them so in a clubhouse meeting after the Reds recorded the last Nats’ out. “You look flat when you get two hits and you don’t have many baserunners,” Riggleman said. “You have to create some energy. You have to be hustling down the line. You have to be running balls out. You hit fly balls, you have to round the bag hard.” The Nats face off against the Reds again tomorrow at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park.

Wily Mo

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Willy Mo

Wily Mo (aka “Wily Modesto”) Pena is this year’s Washington Nationals left fielder — exhibit number one that this guy has a hankering for molding the Nats into Cincinnati East. Not great news, considering the senior circuit’s oldest club just hired this destroyer-of-perfectly-good- pitching-arms. But Jimmy never saw a Redleg he didn’t love, and he absolutely loves Wily Mo: “His power works at any stadium,” Bowden said soon after Wily Mo arrived on the scene. “He is a good kid with a big heart. He has got to be driven. You have to stay on top of him. You have to get him to work hard.” At 6-3 and 215, Wily Mo can drive the ball: he hit 26 home runs for the Reds in 2004, with 66 RBIs. The downside? Wily Mo swings through the ball: 118 strikeouts in 336 at bats. You’ve got to get him to work hard?

You’ve got to get him to make contact — that’s what you’ve got to do.

After the next year — after 2005 — the Reds had seen enough of Wily Mo and dealt him to Boston for Bronson Arroyo. The deal looked like a brilliant move for Cincy, and one of the few knuckleheaded moves made by Boston Red Sox (“oh, those dirt dogs”) wunderkind Theo Epstein. Theo had it all figured out. “Pena strikes out on a rate basis more than anyone else in the big leagues,” Epstein said in his usual snooty neo-empiricist meanderings right after the trade. “There is precedent for those (type) players developing a little bit more discipline, increasing their walk rate and becoming better all around hitters as they adjust to the big leagues.” Oh yeah, Theo, like who? We might point out (dearest Theo) that, while with Cincinnati, Pena struck out more times than Arroyo had struck out batters.

Stick that in your “rate basis.”

In 2006, Arroyo was 14-11 with a 3.29 ERA for the Reds while Wily Mo continued to battle the breezes: 94 strikeouts in 289 ABs. We might imagine Theo rethinking this just a tad and looking around the league to see just who would take Wily Mo off his hands. So Pena came to the Nats for a player to be named, who turned out to be 25-year-old first baseman Chris Carter. Not bad really: Wily Mo is a solid citizen, a team player, and has a lot of heart (Jim is right about that, but you can dismiss his other statement — “his power works at any stadium” — really Jim, no shit). Then too, while Wily Mo doesn’t run a lot of sprints, ya gotta luv him. For all of Jim’s talk about how ya gotta stay on him, Wily Mo works hard. I’ve seen him run up the steps onto the field. As our friends at Nats320 point out, he is “big, strong, and incredibly confident.” And yahavtaluvaguy who is modest about what he needs to work on: “I need to work on my defense and my hitting,” he told Nats320. And his baserunning: no one would ever mistake Wily Mo for Willie Mays Hayes.

There’s an upside, which no one who saw him play in RFK last year will forget. Before he arrived the Nats averaged 3.9 runs per game, but with him in the line-up they averaged five runs a game, and his defensive statistics were surprisingly good. He’s quicker with the glove than he looks: no errors in 57 chances. He ate up NL East pitching, hitting .324 with six HRs in 30 games. Which makes him my pick to put one out on Opening Day, against the hated Braves. But the moment I can’t wait for (next year, methinks) is when Wily Mo sticks one in the parking garage and Theo takes out his slide rule, does a few calculations — and tells us “told ya so.”

It’ll be worth the strikeouts.