Grading the Newcomers

Every year brings change, some good, some bad. I got to wondering how much of an upgrade Adam Kennedy is at 2B since I hardly ever notice him but at his first AB they mention his current hit streak...but then I might as well list all my highly opinionated observations on the rest additions.Remember Rizzo, the contributions of the staff you add and subtract are the best indicator of your performance

Players Completely new to the Roster:

Ivan Rodriquez -(What we planned) During the offseason, the plan most widely discussed was that we needed a bridge until Flores became 100%. The player obviously needed to be defensively competent at catcher and as an added bonus, the wealth of baseball experience that is Pudge would be a great crutch to the rotation that 3/5 should be attending school with my kids. We would be willing to accept lower-than-average batting at the bottom of the order since offense was not anywhere near the top of the issues of last season. (What we got) Not everyone was surprised by Flores being placed on extended rehap and to be honest, I wasn't feeling bad about Nieves getting the chance to step it up. Obviously nothing to worry about since Pudge has provided everything planned and brought with him the hottest bat not held by Robert Redford. Word is he's been focusing more on aiming his hits into gaps than trying to send it over the fences; just imagine what his lifetime average would be if he'd been approaching that way all along (Room for improvement) The media acts like each time they put "future-hall-of-famer" in front of his name, it counts as a Cooperstown vote, even my boy Bob Carpenter is guilty. Focus on baserunners being to scared to try to steal 2nd, not what's going to happen 10 years from now. The only other grumbling I hear is he's a little winded beating it out on the basepaths. I think it's noteworthy when he runs like a 20 year old, not when he runs his age (Grade) A - Pudge provided not only the role that his position demanded and a BAA higher than Wright's fielding pct but also a household name which should be a pretty feather in Rizzo's hat.


Matt Capps - (What we planned) the bullpen since The Chief is a story of defeat that our grandkids will be telling their grandkids. I can't speak for the whole community but I was a little skeptical of the apparent plan to sign someone effective most of the time and the price was right. I loved Hanrahan as a guy and I wish him the best but it was like being on the rack trying to watch them take a 45-1 lead in to the 7th and the predetermined result. The theme of out targeted free agents seemed to be those who had shown ability in the past but had a crappy season in 2009. (What we got) Another more than pleasant surprise was not only when Capps was saving games (a novel concept in and of itself) but his transition from luck to skill. After those first few closes, Willie Harris should never have to buy himself a drink in DC again. Capps at first wanted to see how many baserunners/runs he could allow and still eek it out. I got really worried here (2009 WHIP 1.656). The timing of this luck couldn't have been betting as our SPs didn't exactly hit the ground running, Hernadez notwithstanding. As spring goes on, I'm seeing something else I haven't seen in 9th in a  few years: 1-2-3 innings. He has a look in his eyes that he's gonna show those guys and Pittsburg who they should've resigned and while he gets a little worries as that fly goes in the corner, I see a real competitive spirit when the 3rd out lands in the glove. (Room for improvement) This is more a factor of his compatriots but Capps is eventually going to blow some saves; chances are he'll cough up a few and we should be OK with that, it happens and it's nothing he hasn't done before. It's going to happen a lot sooner when Capps is out there 6 nights a week and/or pitching more than 1 inning. To me, a closer is a specialist that exists for one mission: to quickly eliminate the enemy in a close game. He's being thrust into some other situations but the choke attempts of his buddies in the pen (Grade) B+ Capps has for the most part lived up to his potential (not his avg). He's not going anything he hasn't done before but at the same time he's not showing an inability to do anything he's done before which I feel is ideal for a free agent.

Adam Kennedy - (What we planned) What a  fuss this offseason for such a neglected position. We had more plans for this position than Dr. Strangelove had mission orders. We had Guz to 2nd, Des to Short, Hudson to 3rd for much less than he thought he was worth and Guz to 2nd again, Guz stays at Short and player to be named take 2nd.  Somewhere out of the blue they came up with an idea to sign someone who has played 2B to play 2B for the Nats. Unique concept, huh? I kinda had my heart set on Hudson so I didn't look much into Kennedy beforehand (What we got) I like OPS+ as a measure and his is dead on his career avg. Sounds like we got what we shopped for. His fielding is decent if unremarkable which is key to our "pitch to contact" plan. In summary, he hits a quarter of the time, steal something and scores sometime. He's a a below league average batter but he's not a hole in the linup. At press time he's took his hit streak to 8 games. (Room for Improvement) My only knock is that I probably couldn't pick Kennedy out of a police lineup. The players got a lot of camera time last year since they weren't exactly dogpiling each other at homeplate after a win. I'd like to see him yak with Debbi a little more so I can root for the guy instead of the number (Grade) B for the same reason as Capps. Kennedy is delivering as expected and if all of a sudden there's 25 guys doing that, the Philly tourbuses are going up to Citi instead of invading Nats Town.

Brian Bruney - (What we planned) The bullpen was unquestionably one of the biggest concerns. If you're relying on the offense to put up 10 runs a night just to stay in the game, 1st round draft picks will be yours for years to come. I think the plan was to get as many credible names through the door and hopefully the cream will rise to the top (What we got)  Thus far no one's that impressed. Bruney has almost doubled hiw WHIP and if we end up a game or two out of contention I know I'll remember walking in the winning run in extra innings in Chicago. He's worse than career average in all meaningful stats (notably <1 in K/BB) and it's pretty clear it's command, not ability. To be honest, I see some Rauch and Hanrahan in him: the arm is there but I might where 2 or 3 helmets standing in the box. If it's a mental thing, maybe the winning fever will catch him and he can get back to pounding the zone. If not, there's too many capable arms in the system for him to be occupying a jersey (Grade) D Might as well be blunt; he's not only sucked but sucked when it really mattered. It's one thing to put your second string in when it's a blowout but Bruney has killed some games that we were cruising to wins.

Tyler Walker - I'm getting a little long winded so I consider Walker to be a Bruney light, not quite a fail but still worse than career just not in such critical situations, he gets a C since his earned runs aren't quite as heartbreaking in my memory. He will also either be improving or moving if Slaten can get the job done (remains to be seen)

After the jump...wrapping up the semi-new faces

This is my first post and it's getting a little long so i'll do a quick wrap of those who have worn the Natinals but are in a new capacity and I have an opinion on them.


Jim Riggleman - (Plan) Nobody was planning on contending this year (and no one is seriously now). It's been about keeping the wheels rolling til next season while avoid the embarrassment of 3 100 loss seasons. Acta had his pros and cons just like everyone else and while I like an even keel, once and a while I want to see someone throwing chairs around the clubhouse after an absurd home loss (What we got) I think Riggleman is a little more credible as a father figure than Acta but we all knew about the career losing record ahead of time as as a potential placeholder to bridge to next season I think he's been effective. He may not know who's played RF in their careers but how much do you really manage in the NL, the occasional double swap? I think it's a shame that I can get pretty emotionally attached to a team more than 100 miles away from me but Riggleman's winning and losing press conferences are exactly the same. (Grade) B Even though I don't necessarily like him and even him going out to argue with the ref is the lameness, the Nats are still playing great and how bad can you kick the guy considering that. (Room for improvement) Unleash the fury. (For the record, whoever came up with "The Riggler" is great, that's my favorite sports nickname of the year)



Rizzo,, it looks like you've done well. Bowden is a stain on these sheets that is going to take a few runs though the wash to come clean. I like how you're handling the rooks. If our pitching duo was up now, it would take the focus off some other Nats that need to swing, catch and throw a little better before they get there. Special mention for you not only sitting on the stands but also actually watching the games, not playing Freecell on your phone

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