Dear Kyle Wright:
(I’m too geeked to be coherent right now. FSU-UM analysis to come tomorrow. For right now, just WOOOOOOOOOOO!)
Apparently I’m becoming a real live blogger, part of the community. I’m not going to use the -sphere word, but you get the point. Yesterday, I engaged in a back-and-forth with Brandon Kriner, the proprietor of the Nationals blog The Curly W. He asked me some questions about the Cardinals, and my responses (as well as those of Erik Manning of VEB) can be found here.
Meanwhile, here are Brandon’s responses to my probably uninformed questions about the Nats.
1. O,YNAG: Is it even possible to do a big-picture evaluation of Jim Bowden? Some bizarre moves as is often the case, and we know his predilection for toolsy RHH outfielders — then he goes and swindles the Reds. What’s your take on this guy? What’s the fan base in general think of him? What does the future hold for him?
Kriner: Bowden is such a tough one for the reasons you allude to. He makes moves that enrage the fan base (Guzman’s four-year deal, for example) then goes and pulls off some decent trades. I think the fan base in general is pretty sour on Bowden, and I am too, because he often appears to make moves at random without having any kind of a plan. Of course, people are also turned off by his huckster-like, media-seeking persona. Fans hate him for the same reason that beat writers love him: he’s always a good story ;-)
2. O,YNAG: New ownership means what, exactly? Do they start spending and upgrading and becoming a real player as of ’07? Or does that have to wait until the new park opens?
Kriner: New ownership means that the franchise is anchored in Washington D.C. It’s hard for an outsider to understand the magnitude of that. The owners keep saying that they’re building for 2008 (when the new park is slated to open) but frankly, the team has so many needs that I think it will take more time than that for them to become competitive. That being said, there’s no reason at all that DC can’t become a big-market team by the end of this decade. My best guess is that they’re in contention in 2010.
3. O,YNAG: Soriano. Seriously, where did this come from? What should they do regarding him? Do you believe this is a career year, or a step forward? Major perplexing problem, obviously.
Kriner: Ick. Soriano is somewhat of a sticky situation for Bowden. The GM wanted to move him but couldn’t get his asking price. Now the team wants to re-sign him but I can’t imagine this happening (assuming no drastic increase in $60m payroll in 2007) given ownership’s stated goal to rebuild the farm system. The team could let him walk at the end of the year and get two draft picks (assuming the new CBA doesn’t prevent it). To top it all off, Soriano has become THE fan favorite in D.C.. What should they do with him? Take a stab at re-signing him but don’t overpay. ***** it up if he walks. I think this is a step forward to him and he’ll be a real asset to any team.
4. O,YNAG: Is the honeymoon over? How is the area responding to this team this year? Do people still care in year two?
Kriner: The honeymoon is over but the marriage is alive and well. Obviously having a team back for the first time since the 70’s was a big deal last year, and the decent season helped too. The area is responding to the team pretty well this year given a tattered stadium, zero offseason marketing, 2 million fans not able to watch games on TV, and a bitter fight between city council and MLB last winter. This team has faced almost every conceivable issue except for contraction/relocation and survived. It’s all uphill from here. People will be out in droves for the new stadium. The lobbyists and lawyers won’t be able to buy tickets fast enough.
5. O,YNAG: Who’s the starting five in 2006?
Kriner: Yikes. How about: John Patterson, Brian Lawrence, Mike O’Connor, Ramon Ortiz and a free agent acquisition this winter. After the first three, it’s anyone’s guess.
Thanks to Brandon for his time and insight, and to y’all, please do go check out his site.
I was traveling today, missed the game entirely. Reyes’ line was extremely impressive. How’d he look to you guys?
-M, watching the race and counting down the hours to FSU-Miami.
Here are my calls for this week’s Lucky Seven questions.
1. I think he should have had more rehab starts, until he showed that he was sorted out. I certainly understand the desire to get him back and find out what he can do, but it never seemed that he was right.
2. Carpenter, Suppan, Reyes, Marquis, Weaver — the current five, but I’d be looking for a chance to get Wainwright a start or two in September, so that you have the option.
3. I’d go four guys for three spots — Duncan, Encarnacion, Wilson and Rodriguez. Most of the time, I’d go Duncan in LF, Encarnacion in CF and Wilson in RF, but I’d look for good matchups for Rodriguez. He’s an offensive asset.
4. There does seem to be something about the matchup with the Phils that doesn’t work well for these guys. Dangerous offense, improved rotation.
5. Cards are up five and the Dodgers are up four, so I’ll go with all three division leaders to hold on. I think I like the Padres to win the Wild Card, but you can throw them all in a hat.
6. I have a lot of favorites — Yankee pinstripes and the Tigers home uniform are my favorites in baseball. The Raiders’ home unis, the black jerseys, are superb. The Canadiens’ tricolor. USC’s home and road football. Notre Dame’s green alternate football. If I had to pick one, I think I go with the Raiders’ black-and-silver, though.
7. Ballpark: Polish sausage and non-gourmet beer. Preferably Bud. Movies: Milk Duds or Twizzlers and Diet Coke (yes, I know).
Today’s newsiness, which Conor Nicholl will follow through on in the notebook…
* Anthony Reyes has been recalled and will start Sunday.
* Also called up were John Rodriguez and Brad Thompson.
* Further moves are expected in a few days, likely another pitcher or two or three, an infielder and possibly another outfielder.