Posts Tagged ‘Placido Polanco’

Phils Stampede Nats, 11-1

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

One game a season does not make: and that’s a damn good thing. If the Nats loss at home during their opener is any indication, then fans of the Anacostia Nine are in for a long season. Starter John Lannan was shakey, the bullpen (with the lone exception of Jesse English) seemed to revert to last year’s form, and Nats’ batters just couldn’t get around on Roy “Doc” Halladay. At least in the case of Halladay that’s no surprise. The former Blue Jay was masterful in seven complete innings of work, while Lannan lasted just three-and-two-thirds.”Philly is a tough team to stop once they get the momentum,” Lannan said after the game. “The momentum kept on going, and I couldn’t stop it. I felt good at first, it’s just that the fourth inning got me. I felt good the first three innings. I wanted to have a different story for Opening Day. It’s the first game of many, and I’m not going to let it tell the story for this whole season.”

Aside from the stadium-bulging and excited home town crowd (with Phillies’ fans sprinkled liberally throughout) — and the ceremonies surrounding the actual game — the day was only marginally memorable. It actually began the night before with Washington’s obsession (and the trade of a major player from that other game), and continued into the early afternoon, with the sports media’s focus on America’s current sports megalomaniac. In Boston and New York (and Chicago, Anaheim and Atlanta), those kinds of stories would be footnotes: a sure sign that Washington will need a winner to command the kind of loyalties enjoyed by the “Nation,” the “Empire” and the “Halos.” We’ll get there, but if Monday is any indication, it probably won’t be this year.

The good news is that with the opener out of the way, Nats’ fans can now focus on the real story: whether the bullpen will show appreciable improvement over ’09 (at least Jesse English looks good), whether the platoon in right field will really work (it won’t), whether Ian Desmond is “the answer” at short (we won’t know for awhile), and whether the starting five (sans Strasburg, at least for now), can reel off some wins.

Those Are The Headlines, Now For The Details: Bad news for Cubs fans — Carlos Zambrano is still Carlos Zambrano. The Venezuelan rolling pin made Lannan look like an ace. The “Big Z” gave up two homers, hit a batter and made a throwing error as the Sluggies fell to the Chops 16-5. At least he didn’t destroy the water cooler. Lou said that he never imagined that Chicago would give up 16 runs on Opening Day. It was God-awful. Atlanta’s version of “the real deal” hit a dinger in his first at bat and the boys over at “Baseball Tonight” just couldn’t stop talking about it. They said (as ESPN rolled video) that Henry Aaron has “passed the mantle” to a new slugger — new Atlanta outfielder Jason Heyward. Well, maybe. But it might be a little early . . .

John Kruk on Placido Polanco: “He’s the best number two hitter in baseball,” he said, “with the exception of Derek Jeter, who bats first” . . . Peter Gammons is fitting in nicely in his new gig, as an on-air commentator for the MLB Network, but he’s still a homer for his favorite team — and player. That said, he still issues some thoughtful insights. Last night Gammons described Frank Robinson as “the most underrated great player” of his era; that’s a new and interesting baseball category that demands some thinking. Gammons’ new category might, for instance, include the overlooked Mickey Vernon — who’s hardly rated at all. Gammons added that Robinson was overawed by the attention given to Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Yeah, that’s right. And Mickey Mantle.

Another Bullpen Arm: Capps Signs With Nats

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Nationals fans will be forgiven if they now view Pittsburgh as part of the Washington franchise feeder system — a kind of waiting room for Nats-to-be. With the signing of reliever Matt Capps on early Thursday morning, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo has added a third Ahoy to the rebuilding Nats: a trio that also includes fleet centerfielder Nyjer Morgan and lefty set-up whiz Sean Burnett. The new Nats relief corps is also expected to include aging former star Eddie “Everyday Eddie” Guardado, who once notched 45 saves with the always surprising Twinkies. While the Guardado signing is not final, it is expected soon. Capps, team officials say, is expected to compete for the job of closer with Bruney in Spring Training.

With the signing of Capps, Nats fans will go into the Christmas holidays knowing that (while everything else might collapse), the ballclub’s end-of-game options will include a set of potential closers that includes a young Yankee, a steady Bucco and (perhaps) an ageless wonder. Coupled with Burnett and Clippard, the Nats’ bullpen seems stronger now than it has since the departure of sore-armed closer Chad Cordero, felled by a labrum tear back in 2007. The signing of Capps probably ends Mike Rizzo’s off-season efforts to shore-up the Nats bullpen (barring a bit of tweaking here and there), leaving the Anacostia Nine with several more holes to plug: the addition of a middle-of-the-infield glove (the Nats are still interested in signing second sacker Orlando Hudson), an add-on in the starting rotation (Jon Garland is still an option — albeit one that seems to be fading) and (as we hope) the signing of a versatile bat-and-glove man that could play second, left, short and (under a worst case scenario) third. The Nats could (could!) go into Spring Training with a rotation of Jason Marquis, Jon Garland, John Lannan and Craig Stammen (or maybe what’s-his-name) and an infield that includes Mark DeRosa or Orlando Hudson — and (will wonders never cease) two steady catchers. It’s certainly not out of the question that the signing of either Hudson or DeRosa would include a trade (and salary dump) of Cristian Guzman, who has been making noises about not wanting to switch to second.

Don’t Let It Go To Your Head: Remember all the yacking about how this year’s free agent class was weak with few marquee (ahem) players? Well, maybe. But don’t tell the Phillies — who have solidified their reputation as the Yankees of the National League. While Mike Rizzo has been busy deftly filling holes in the bullpen, starting rotation and behind the plate (and others have been sucking their thumbs about the eventual destination of Jason Bay and Matt Holliday), the Ashburns have been busy getting stronger — adding Placido Polanco as their new third baseman and engineering a blockbuster trade for Roy Halladay. While a gaggle of analysts say that the Mariners were “the big winners” in the Halladay sweepstakes (nailing down Cliff Lee), that’s not the way it looks from our perch outside a snowed-in Nats Park, where the spectre of a Halladay-Hamels-Happ-Blanton front four makes the Phillies (with a Polanco-Rollins-Utley-Howard infield) the class of the National League. And the Phuzzies aren’t done . . .

But The Mets Might Be: Whatever happened to the Mets front office? While the silence in New York has Mets fans upset, our friends over at TRDMB cite Newsday reporter David Lennon’s claim that Mets’ fans should learn to appreciate Omar Minaya’s patience in going after the likes of Bay and Holliday. After all, Omar says, the Mets are not as attractive a destination as Philadelphia and these things take time. “It’s not that they [free agents] don’t want to come here,” Omar says, it’s that the timing didn’t work out. As for Halladay and Lackey — well, the Mets were never really in the running on Halladay and Lackey – and Lackey “blindsided” the Mets when he signed with the Red Sox. That son-of-a-bitch, what was he thinking? Don’t worry, Omar says. All of this can be explained, Omar says. “Players like going to situations where they can win,” Omar says. Never fear, Omar says, the Mets have a plan. “I like our plan,” Omar says.