I don't believe that the Nationals aren't "trying." Too many players on the team will be fighting for a position next year for them not to give 100%. But six errors in one game, and nine over two?
Pretty much every story I've read regarding the Nationals' effort against the Rockies included the word "embarassing," and so it should have. I got a reprieve from watching the games on my computer screen as I can view the Nationals on my local Fox Sportsnet channel -- the Rockies home network. Jeff Huson, who said on Thursday that the Nationals "played as poor a game defensively as I've seen in the major leagues" was dumbfounded by their play on Friday. "Last night," he began, "I watched a game that I would have expected to see at a rookie league level. But tonight, well, tonight was a performance that I wouldn't have expected to see at the Little League level."
And he was right.
Out of curiosity, I went back and reviewed the score book for my son's last year in little league. He played 22 games that season, and the Braves (his team) committed six errors in a game exactly ZERO times. It never happened. So, it would seem that the Nationals did something that a bunch of 12 and 13 year olds couldn't do -- make six errors in a game. Now, to be fair, one of Ryan Zimmerman's two errors really wasn't an error. After he chased down a bad throw into foul ground behind third, he fired what looked to be a strike towards home plate, but it hit the runner in the back of the leg, allowing him to score. That said, five of the Rockies eleven runs were earned.
Huson said something else that I found interesting. In the Bottom of the 8th inning, with the Nationals still ahead, 8-7, he noted, "You would think that a team that has committed six errors and walked nine batters would be blown out of the game -- yet the Rockies are trailing." Spot on, Jeff. More importantly, how could a team make six errors and walk nine batters, period? That's the mark of a team who is too tight, given up entirely or simply playing out the string. Perhaps it's none of those, but more likely, it's a combination of all three.
More on the centerfield situation: Nook Logan, the defacto starter for the rest of the year, went 0-3, struck out twice and left three runners on base. He also made an error. His average is now down to .250. And this is the guy that Frank Robinson and Jim Bowden will give the bulk of the playing time down the stretch, to "see what he can do." Uh huh. Ryan Church, verbally abused all season, sent down twice, all the way to Double-A the second time, who has been treated with contempt and disrespect, came off the bench Friday and hit a pinch-hit double, driving in two more runs, raising his average to .269. Had the Nationals just put him out in center on opening day, and forgotten about Endy Chavez II & III, Church, based on what he's done so far this year and extrapolated out to 560 at-bats, would have had a season something like this: Ave:.269 ~ Hits:150 ~ 2B:52 ~ 3B:3 ~ HR:28 ~ RBI:105 ~ SB:21 ~ OPS:900. Oh, no, says Bowden. That's not good enough. We want a "toolsy" player in centerfield, not someone like Ryan Church. We want solid defense in center. Okay. Nook Logan has made 9 errors in his 174 game career in the major leagues. Ryan Church, he of the "inferior" glove, has made just 2 errors in his 156 career games. Offensively, Logan has a career .671 OPS mark this season, while Church's sits at .900. Bowden also is demanding stolen bases from the position. As noted, Church would have stolen 21 bases this year if given the opportunity. Yet with all this information common knowledge, I have little doubt that the Nationals' GM will trade Church away this off season, and will probably trade for yet another "toolsy" outfielder to start in center next year. Church, of course, will blossom away from the constant sniping and silliness, and will probably have a career similar to another former Nationals' outfielder, Grady Sizemore.
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