Sunday, March 23, 2008

John Patterson Gets Cut

No sooner did I expound on my optimism for Patterson's return, the Nationals let him go after what they have said was a very disappointing spring rehabilitation. Even in my previous post I cautioned against the vulnerability of Patterson and his history of injury, and it is now evident that his arm troubles have had a more lasting impact than originally expected.

Patterson was 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in nine innings this spring. Most telling however was his fastball, or lack there of, which was clocked in the low to mid 80s. This move while a disappointing one for all involved was necessary for the organization. All parties involved have remained patient and optimistic for two years, but a lack of progress regardless of the reason can't be shouldered indefinitely. I'm sure Patterson feels more let down by his current physical limitations than by the Nationals and I hope that he can regain some of his vigor that we saw in 2005. Maybe resurface again down the line.

This leaves a hole in the rotation and after a shaky Spring Training start Odalis Perez has righted the ship and pitched his way into the top spot of the Nationals staff. He will be the opening day starter against the Atlanta Braves on March 30. Manager Manny Acta has said that only Perez, Bergmann and Redding have solidified spots in the rotation and that Matt Chico and John Lannan are fighting for the final spot in the four man rotation. Clearly, after last year's experiment with inexperienced pitching Acta is choosing to use the guys that have the most innings in the bigs. If awareness and composure dictates who gets the fourth spot, look for Lannan to have the edge over Chico as he has been praised by many in the organization for being mature beyond his years.

With the rotation and the lineup becoming clearer every day the Nationals appear to be putting together a very competitive team.
I expect their numbers to improve across the board in 2008 as Bowden has addressed a lot of their problem areas from last year. However, the only statistic that counts won't change as much in this first season. The Nationals are relying on a lot of potential which is good for a young team, but when each individual is a question mark, each player has less focus to devote to the team. In this first year they will look inward towards themselves in order to justify their position and their potential. This won't create selfish ballplayers, but it also won't create team chemistry needed for a playoff bound ball club. Teams that already know what they have to do and are consistent as individuals can devote more energy toward winning games. The Nationals will have to learn that over the course of the season. They will retain their fourth place finish in the division but look for them to push very close to the .500 mark all season.

- The Hokie

1 comment:

DMG said...

I'd have to agree with your overall assessment in Bowden's ability to build a solid foundation and that they Nationals should be fighting for .500 but I'm not sure I'd call them a competitive team. I mean when your starting rotation consists of Perez (4.70 and 4.60 ERAs, 1.58, 1.67 WHIPs the last two years), Tim Redding (career ERA+ of 88, career WHIP of 1.53, Jason Bergmann (5.31 ERA away from spacious RFK last year and 18 HRs in 115.1 innings), John Lannan (6 careers starts) and Matt Chico (1.54 WHIP in 2007 and 26 homeruns in 167 innings), I think the pitching staff is really going to struggle.

That said, I do like what the Nationals are doing in bringing in a lot of guys who look decent and hoping some of them pan out. Some journeymen will figure it out late in their careers, some okay looking youngsters will exceed expectations and the Nationals will come out of it with some decent pitchers and it's great the Nationals recognize that they aren't realistically going to be shooting for a playoff spot and they can experiment like this.

I also think you make an interesting point about the players developing individually versus developing as a team, although I have to say that since baseball, much more than other sports, is an aggregate of individual performances rather than a coordinated team effort that as soon as the Nationals players starting doing well individually the team will benefit.