Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Demote Ryan Church

Sure, why not?

Chances are it's not an idea original to me, but then, what really is original among our collegial community of Nats bloggers? At any rate, it makes sense. Church has been relegated to the bench
almost exclusively in August, but he hasn't done diddly-poo as a pinch-hitter. He's just taking up space, and he's succeeding so well at the description that's it time to think maybe he could be better served playing regularly somewhere. Since somewhere apparently won't be Washington, it might as well be New Orleans; he can ride out the season with the Zephyrs and get back into a rhythm.

tonight's 4-3 loss to the Phillies (Hey, a one-run loss! No way!) exposed how weak the right side of the Nats' bench is, especially since Church's doghousing means that righty Preston Wilson is a full-timer. Observing a modest uprising against fireballing Phils' closer Billy "Die Feen" Wagner (Jose Guillen on first and one out---a stubborn 10-pitch at-bat by Wilson, who finally fanned), Frank Robinson faced the choice of sticking with catcher Brian Schneider, a lefty hitter, or dipping into the bench for a righty. There wasn't much from which to choose: at first blush, the options were either back-up catcher Gary Bennett, an offensive zero, or ¡LIVAN!. Robinson elected to try the third rail, Rule V'er Tony Blanco, who stood a chance against Wagner's Lohengrin only in theory and who soon fell victim to a third strike. One meager Vinny Castilla swipe at a fastball later, and Wagner had assured the win for Jon "Das Liebesverbot oder Die Novize von Palermo"Lieber.

[Disclaimer: I have no idea what any of that means.]

What I am saying is that, if Wilson is a regular for Robinson, then this team needs a sturdy right-handed swinger for its bench. Might as well use the guy who's hitting .400, right?

[Aside: Okay, maybe my perception is reframed right now precisely because the Nats are facing a team with a lefty closer. Past series have demonstrated that the Nats need lefty bats off the bench, too---often in succession. Such is the price for carrying a defensive whiz such as Cristian Guzman. I'll concede the point and counter that Rick Short deserves the call-up just based on principle.]

If one goes up, one must go down---Church or Brandon Watson. Now, the latter---despite his winning smile---isn't going to fare much better at the plate than the former. And, strangely, though Watson is a centerfielder by trade, the Nats haven't employed him as such. Talk about derailing a guy's utility! Nevertheless, if all Church is going to do is strike out, pop to right, or ground weakly to second, the Nats might as well keep Watson as a late-inning pinch-runner. Presumably, the team would trust him to do that. Heaven only knows Bodes has the guy's back.


That was a fun thought exercise, but signs point to Watson being sent down before Sunday's game, to be replaced not by Short, but by swing-man John Halama, who would start the final game of the New York series. Thursday's twin-bill against the Phillies will juggle the rotation around, thus necessitating the move.

This one-week fling with Watson has been fun, really, but it also sheds light on the stranger aspects of rooting for a team run by Jim Bowden and managed by Frank Robinson. Bodes gets his outfielder de jour fix, and Robinson gets his mystifying quote:

For the third straight game, Watson was not in Robinson's starting lineup last night. "The way things were going I got to feeling that he may not be 'the guy' to turn us around or give us that shot in the arm," Robinson said. "He can help. He can help us win ballgames."

I'm not sure how one follows the other, but whatever.

As for Church, it would appear he's safe. And he's received some advice on pinch-hitting from Robinson:

"It's a mindset. During the course of a ballgame, he has to keep notes on pitchers."

Somebody needs to be taking notes, for sure. I've long thought that a two-year, Ball Four-type project, chronicling the last year in Montreal and the first in DC, would be dynamite. If I could go back in time, I'd nominate Eischen for that assignment.


Speaking of Bodes and Frank---or of their respective posteriors pointed toward the Wilson Bridge----Brick is noodling ideas for the next management team, effective whenever in the future Bud Selig gets around to selling this little concern. Brick is looking at either Boston assistant Josh Byrnes (who received the Inquirer Seal of Approval in early June) or Atlanta exec Dayton Moore (no Inquirer critique in the file) as the GM; based on these choices, he surmises Grady Little as the next field manager.

It's interesting, at the least. I can see us five outs away from the World Series, with &#161LIVAN! on Pitch No. 153. You fill in the conclusion, Nats Nation!


i posted on pretty much the same thing this morning before logging on here! think yours is better.

yahoo says brandon's down; halama's up.
I can deal with that. If you aren't going to use Ryan, might as well get him at bats in the meantime.
And, but you have incorporated Halama into dinner, Pete. I bow before you. :-)
I don't follow the Nats a ton, but wouldn't it make sense to add Frank Robinson to the lineup? Player/manager? I've gotta believe he could hit better than a couple of people.
They hit okay tonight, Tom! Go Phils! ;-)

(But, yes, I think you're on to something here. He could outhit Cristian Guzman, just rolling out of bed in his Underoos.)
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