• What do you even say at this point? Really? "Hey, don't sweat it, the Nationals got swept in their second series with San Diego last season too." September 19-21st. Losses 96-98 of the 102-loss '08 campaign. And once again it's September, and the nation's capital's favorite baseball team is getting swept out of PETCO Park, having dropped seven of nine on the late season road trip, and six in a row over two-straight series against the Cardinals and Padres.
• When I read Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's Nationals Journal post's headline, I have to admit I assumed he was talking about John Lannan when he wrote, "Losing Streak, Elbow Soreness For Stammen", well at least until I got to the "For Stammen" part, (I think Mr. Harlan changed the title, actually), but for a moment I thought this might explain John Lannan's recent struggles on the mound, which include today's five-run fifth, in which Lannan allowed six-straight San Diego batters on with two outs. Two singles, a double, an intentional walk, a double and a single before the final out of the frame is recorded when Padres' catcher Nick Hundley pops out. A scoreless game is quickly a 5-0 blowout and Lannan's out after 5.0 innings, 90 pitches, 6 hits, 4 walks and 5 ER allowed.
Stammen? According to Mr. Harlan's article:
"Rookie starter Craig Stammen, a member of Washington's pitching rotation since May, has been scratched from his start on Friday because of elbow soreness. An MRI, scheduled for Thursday in Washington, D.C., will determine the severity of the injury."
PTBNLON? After The JUMP...+ Plus: Who Is Heath Bell Talking About?
Nationals now 46-88. (Countdown To 100 Losses Stands At...12)
PTBNLON? Player To Be Named Later Or Not? [Rizzo Points To Head]
There was a note in Wednesday's GameThread about the Nationals acquiring the Los Angeles Dodgers' left-hander Victor Garate as the Player To Be Named Later in the Ronnie Belliard trade which also brought RHP Luis Garcia to DC. There was apparently some confusion as to whether Garate had simply been claimed off waivers separately or if he was the PTBNL, but late in the day, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger cleared up any confusion with an article entiteld, "Garate completes Belliard deal", in which Mr. Bollinger confirmed that Garate, who, "...entered the season as one of the Dodgers' top 25 prospects," was in fact, the PTBNL. Back in Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's Nationals Journal post entitled, "Losing Streak, Elbow Soreness For Stammen", Mr. Harlan writes that Garate, "...will be pitching out of the bullpen for...the rest of the season," and Mr. Harlan quotes the DC GM Mike Rizzo's quick scouting report on Garate:
"We see a guy who's a versatile pitcher. He can be a set-up type of guy. He gets right-handers and left-handers out the same. He's got good stuff with good command and a funky delivery that fools some hitters. He's kind of between a three-quarters and a low three-quarters (arm) slot, so he's really tough on left-handers. The league is hitting .191 against him, and he's shown a propensity to throw all his pitches for strikes at any given time. He's not a soft-tosser. He throws up to 91-91, and he's got a good sweeping breaking ball and change-up."
Garate is 24-years-old, the other arm included in the deal, Luis Garcia, a 22-year-old right-hander was described by Mr. Rizzo in Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's Nationals Journal post on Sunday entitled, "Nats Trade Belliard to Dodgers", as having a 94 mph fastball, slider and "really good command". Ronnie Belliard, who went to the Dodgers after parts of three seasons in DC, hit a HR in his first at bat with LA.
Who Is Heath Bell Talking About?
When asked about how important "team camraderie" was to the relative recent success of the Padres, San Diego closer Heath Bell talked to XM hosts Jeff Joyce and Jim Duquette on "Power Alley" this afternoon about how the attitude the team played with, where they just thought about playing each game in spite of their record, and went about their jobs as if they weren't a last place team, helps them compete late in a long losing season in contrast to another team Mr. Bell neglects to name, which he describes as having "great talent and great players," but no team chemistry. The kind of team that, in Mr. Bell's words, makes you ask, "How are these guys not winning," :
"...they're not putting it together and then you just hear about other things that are going on, and you're like, Damn it's just like it's 9 or 25 professional great athletes, but it's not one team. You know, you got 25 guys out there, but it's not one team, and here in San Diego we got the Padres in there, yeah you got 25 guys on the Padres but we're all going out there trying to win it for San Diego, where, you know other clubs, there just going out there and just playing, trying to put their numbers up and some are, some aren't, but I really think for a team to do real well, you gotta have that team chemistry..."
Who is Heath Bell talking about? Which team? All he'll say in the interview is that it's not the Mets, his former employer. Is it just the fact that the Padres are playing the Nationals now that makes me think he's talking about Washington? He might as well be if he's not. Outside of the fact that some of the players throw DY Waves to the dugout when they double is there any real sign on a day-to-day basis that the Nationals are tight as a team? Do they have any definable identity? Outside of the Face of The Franchise, Ryan Zimmerman and the quiet HR hitting Adam Dunn, how has the team been marketed to the DC fanbase? Is Stephen Strasburg the one who'll shift the focus from "NatsTown" to the actual players on the field?