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Around the horn (note: actual baseball content)

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You might have noticed that I'm finding it increasingly difficult to devote my attention on the ballclub. Sure, I'll post things about the ownership mess (which, thankfully, isn't much of a mess anymore), and when a rookie pitcher from GW does well, I'll get all excited. But I haven't really commented on the team in awhile, for myriad reasons, including the simple fact that the Nats stink.

There. They do. Sometimes they don't, but such occurrences correlate nicely with games against the Pirates, who mega-stink. Look at it this way: when the manager is optimistic about a team that needs only to "get better at hitting, pitching and defense and stop making mental mistakes," then we had better savor those times when the Pirates come into town.

I'd say the same thing about the Marlins, too, except they just swept a two-game set. Scratch them.

Nevertheless, these should be optimistic times---what with new (and actual) ownership on the horizon and all---and I think I am getting ready to take a renewed, deeper look at this team.

But first, I want to be glib:

PITCHING (pitching, pitching)

What a disaster zone. Hernandez is rapidly joining the ranks of the washed-up. Patterson is sidelined with no real pot o' gold in sight. Astacio is a waste of time. Drese is a tease. Armas is nice, but still averaging about five innings a start, even when pitching pretty well. I'm one of Day's bigger supporters, but you have to be realistic. I'm certainly one of O'Connor's biggest supporters, but . . . well, you can be realistic about him. Bullpen's a complete mess. Might as well forget assigned roles and just try to give the Chief consistent work. Rodriguez isn't working out. Majewski's been marginalized. Eischen is toast, nothing but now-cliched quotes. Rauch has been heroic so far, and Stanton hasn't been bad. Bergmann's coming around; I think he can pitch.

Scrap-heap alert: Jeff Fassero, designated for assignment by the Giants. Might be the end of the line for the 43-year-old, who wants to be home when his son starts high school. But "lefties are always in demand," and Eischen's piece-o-crunk left arm is this close to demanding a release. Would the Nats turn to Bill Bray? Eventually, but maybe not yet---not old enough for a lefty reliever, eh? Scrap-heap alert, Part II: Joe Mays released by Royals. Sure, he had a 10.27 ERA and was dropped by baseball's worst team, but he "feel[s] like an ox" and would just be another spot on the 40-man roster, you know. (Maybe the active roster, too.) Yeah, Mays is done. But he's only thirty, and this is the type of "Pitching, Pitching, Pitching" that intrigues this team as presently constituted and managed.

Yes, bad pitching.

INFIELD

Love Johnson (have to live with occasional slumps from everybody), love Zimmerman. Respect Vidro's comeback. Think Clayton is beyond pointless, even with Guzman out for the year. (Buck up, Nate! Guzmania went an entire season without making a single out!)

Idea so crazy it just might be . . . crazy: Call up Ian Desmond. So, he's not ready. Will he ever be? (Perhaps, but I think probably not.) So, it starts his arbitration clock. Will he even make it to arbitration? (Perhaps, but I doubt it.) He looks to me like a future slick-fielding extra infielder who might not even hit enough for primary utility status---the type who is hyped for awhile, but has to catch a break just to sustain a career. But the faithful love him; he beat the O's in an exhibition game fourteen months ago, for Pete's sake! Eh, call him up, inject some fresh blood into this operation, maybe we'll catch some "lightning in a bottle." I know, I know; that's crazy. How about a compromise? Just release Clayton.

OUTFIELD

I like Soriano; I'm not going to touch him, except to say that, really, I do like him, and that his league lead is assists ("baserunner kills") is kind of humorous. Chalk it up to challenging Jon Koncak in the line; occasionally, he'd block a shot. Byrd is hot right now, and it makes some sense for Frank to ride him while he's hot. Just don't forget about Church. Remember, he struggled last year when his playing time was sporadic. The object, as I see it, should be accentuating what the players do well. As for Guillen, prodigious bomb on Sunday, bud. Crazy up a few more and let us flip you for something worthwhile. (You have to think someone will bite, provided Guillen is hitting at all. Two million bucks for half-a-season of a supplemental slugger is a good deal. Think Preston Wilson, only an actual threat at the plate.)

Other guys sort of play the outfield, too, but they're infielders, too. You know what? I forgot to mention them before; I'll have to save them for another category below.

CATCHERS

Schneider looks to be coming around. Do we have another catcher? No, I'm not counting LeCroy . . .

BENCH

Not as good with a 12-man pitching staff, as you'd expect. LeCroy and Ward can bop a little, though it's mainly been Ward doing the bopping. Byrd or Church provides a good choice on a nightly basis. Jackson isn't an ideal utility infielder. Anderson: live by the sample size, die by the sample size.

FIELD MANAGER

Same old Frobby. Some people love him. Some people love the player, hate the manager. Has inspired new Fire Frobby blog. Probably based more in advocacy than realism; Frank is likely safe to frustrate the fanbase for another 130 or so games.

FRONT OFFICE

Not guilty, don'cha'know?