Robert Fick has the reputation of being a funny guy in the clubhouse, a great quote in a pinch. Fick should make the Nationals Opening Day roster as a utilityman (1B OF and C) and left-handed pinch hitter.
While Fick goes through the rigors of spring training, his heart is someplace else.
Sunday’s Washington Post featured a great article about Fick and his difficult offseason.
Fick’s mother, Gloria, is 75 years old and has lung cancer. She does not want to chemo or any surgery. Gloria Fick was told a year ago she had two months to live.
The sad quote in the story is when Fick recalled leaving from Southern California to Florida
“I’m probably never going to see my mom again,” Fick told the Post. “She’s probably going to die.”
If this doesn’t make you feel for the guy, I don’t know what will.
Nationals tickets went on sale at 9 AM! It took me 5 minutes to get 2 games (Opening Day and April 5). Sure, I paid an additional $17 to do this at home but it’s easier than braving the cold and maybe standing in line. I’ll do walkup for the rest of the games! I’m impressed! Behold the power of the internet!
WUSATV-9 reported last night that Travis Lee and Larry Broadway are the two candidates Manny Acta is considering for the starting first baseman’s job when the season opens April 2.
I was hoping Dmitri Young would be given a shot even if he has a huge challenge ahead of him of getting in baseball shape in about 5 weeks. Young could get his shot during the season if Lee or Broadway fails to produce. But Young needs to get back into shape and really play well when he gets the chance. Lee is the strong defensive first baseman with not much pop and Broadway is the minor leaguer who hasn’t seemed to break through yet. Either option has question marks. The Nats were among the league’s worst defensive squads last year and Lee at first would be a nice stopgap until Nick Johnson comes back (whenever that is). Acta, though, has placed his confidence in Broadway, who is getting his best chance to win a starting job after being in the Nationals minor league system for five years.
So the starters heading into spring training games are as follows:
1B-Travis Lee/Larry Broadway
On the bench player front, I could see it like this
Ronnie Belliard – backup infielder
Escobar/Chris Snelling-reserve outfielder role
Fick: He can catch, backup at first and play outfield. His versatility will keep him around especially with Flores’ inexperience and his Rule V status.
I’m not sure about the last spot. I don’t think it’s a given the loser of the Lee/Broadway battle will stay with the big club. Belliard is a solid enough player that he should stay with the Nats. I’m wouldn’t be surprised too see Womack there even though I think the Nats could do better. Ask Yankee fans about Womack, they liked a lot (obvious sarcasm). Like Fick, Womack can play a couple positions and the Nats need some versatility. This is the risk of going with a larger pitching staff in that the Nats reduce the amount of position players on the roster but considering how few off days the Nats have in April, the need for a 12-man pitching staff is paramount especially with such an inexperienced starting rotation.
The bullpen seems to be squared away with one spot open. Emiliano Fruto, who was picked up in the Vidro trade, is in the mix for the final bullpen spot. Fruto is generating buzz with his strong winter league season and his four-pitch repertoire. Still, Fruto must show that his control is better if a bullpen spot is to be his. The current bullpen lineup is as follows:
It’s been almost 6 weeks now and there’s still no official deal with DirecTV and MLB regarding the Extra Innings package. It’s been neat to see the widespread sports media attention this has gotten. Now, the FCC is requesting more information about the deal according to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Thanks to dcrtv.com, who posted the story. I’ve read for a month now that they are close to a deal. Click here for the entire story courtesy of tvpredictions.com.
Less than 10 hours until Nationals tickets go on sale…can you feel it? Me neither.
Apparently, the Nationals will have a new public address announcer this year. This comes as a surprise to me because I really didn’t know they had a pa announcer for starters. I guess I’m zone out of that stuff.
Other stuff that happened during my hiatus
-I want Dmitri Young to be the Opening Day first baseman just for the sole reason of showing up to Nationals camp wearing a Sanford and Son t-shirt. That and he’ll probably win the job by default if
Broadway hits a sour note during spring training. Young fit the main characteristic of a National: He’s a former Cincinnati Red!
I can’t find too much fault with the signing. He meets the Nationals requirements: someone who’ll play on the cheap, who is looking to jump-start his career and is good trade bait for younger players come July 31.
-How bad has Ronnie Belliard’s offseason been? He goes from starting second baseman on a World Champion to someone fighting it out to make the Nationals roster. Honestly, he shouldn’t be fighting at all. Then there’s the whole extortion mess (extortion is never pretty). Lopez and Belliard might make the smallest double play combo I can recall (and that’s not much) if given the opportunity. However, Cristian Guzman has started throwing again and I guess the Nationals are obligated to play him if he’s healthy. Yes, I’m rooting for Belliard to make the Opening Day Roster. If Guzman tanks it, Acta has a great out in shifting Felipe Lopez back to short and playing Belliard at second. Belliard showed the leather in last year’s playoffs, especially the Game 1 of the NLDS vs the Padres.
-Chad Fought the Nats and the Chad Won
Chad Fought the Nats and the Chad Won
Congrats to the Chief for becoming the first Nationals to win at arbitration. Although, I’m perplexed by his easy come, easy go personality of the whole process. He was advised by his agent and the players association that he had a great chance to win. That won’t make him a union man now, will it?
Cordero declined a two-year deal and admitted to the Washington Post “I don’t know why I didn’t do it. I wanted to.”
That answer seems weird. For now, Cordero stays a National and a rich one at that, Mr $4.15 million dollar man.
The first couple weeks of spring training brings out the same old, same old storywise. First off, there are features on everybody, stories/columns about Viera and the stadium upgrades at Space Coast (which no one will care about come May). Of course with the Nationals, the stories are centered around the following talking points:
-The starting pitching and which castoff or newbie will be one of the four in the rotation
-The Plan and building for the Future
-Regular Nick Johnson injury updates
-Anything Manny Acta related. He sneezes and it’s a story
-Brian Schneider and his importance behind the plate this year especially with such a rag-tag group of starting pitchers.
-Someone is in the best shape of their life.
-The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network will not be under Communist control this year. MASN-Gill has done a decent job pulling together a respectable package for their Nationals broadcasts.
Johnny Holliday just echoes Washington DC sportscasting. He’s been around this town for decades, the man is an institution. Heck, he’s ever done dinner theatre in the DC area.
Holliday will handle the pre and post game duties for the Nationals telecasts this year joining another former Red, Ray Knight. Geez, it seems the Nationals are 95 percent made up of former Expos, Reds or Braves.
I like this because Knight has actual baseball broadcasting experience. Don’t know who Debbi Taylor is but she’s handling the dugout duties. Wow, the Nats are getting big-time now. Pregame and postgame shows, Acta’s postgame conferences, and a Nationals weekly TV show.
-I like committees. There’s the prom committee, the planning committee, theHouse Ways
and Means Committee, Bullpen by Committee and my personal favorite, the Committee to Reelect the President!
Manny Acta has a committee of players too. We’ll call them the A-Team. A for Acta. I was thinking the Four Horsemen would be a good name too. Apparently, Brian Schneider, Ryan Zimmerman, Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns are going to be a part of this committee.
They are to keep the peace or something in the clubhouse, set a positive tone maybe. Now that’s I’m thinking about it
Zimmerman would make a good Ric Flair
Brian Schneider would be a decent Arn Anderson
Felipe Lopez could be Tully Blanchard. Or Chris Benoit in the 90s version.
Austin Kearns could be the Ole Anderson/Barry Windham one of the group I suppose. Or if you want to go mid-90s, Kearns would be Steve McMichael.
Now if we go by the A-Team model
Zimmerman is Face
Schneider is Hannibal
Kearns is BA just on size alone
Lopez gets to be HM Murdock by default!
It’s good to see John Patterson’s arm and Luis Ayala’s arm haven’t fallen off so far in camp. I’ll take that as good news.
Almost a week away from an actual televised spring training game!
Hello ladies and gents from Florida! I’m not in Viera.
I’m on hiatus from regular blogging this week as I’m on vacation with my family in the Florida Keys. That statement isn’t meant to be a salt-in-the-wound remark to my fellow bloggers in the DC area and in the northeast. I hope everyone there is safe and getting by with all the inclement weather that’s come through the area.
I thought about typing this week but I just can’t. I know the Nats have a winning record when it comes to one thing-arbitration (4-0), I know half the population of Texas seems to be in Nationals spring training. Now, the Nats added Dmitri Young and Tony Batista to the minor league roster, a move I’m still thinking why.
Back Sunday night/Monday morning with some actual Nationals news/opinion/satire. Stay safe!
Thanks to poster on the Nationals message board who found out single game tickets are going on sale Feb. 24. Note to self-try emailing the Nationals in the future instead of playing the automated phone game.
I called the Nationals office twice this week to get an answer. I went through their automated phone system a couple times before finally deciding to try and reach the season tickets people. I was transferred to that department but was put on hold for 10-15 minutes each time. I want to know where they really assisting other customers? I tried to leave a message and that failed too.
Feb. 24 is the date I figured they would have to be on sale, five weeks out is the minimum time between the single game onsales and the season openers. Nationals and tickets.com need time to process the orders, print out the tickets and ship them to customers.
Now I have to decide if standing in line to get tix to Opening Day is something worth writing about for the blog!
Other things I found out this week
Ryan Zimmerman doesn’t have a contract. This would be news if he was going somewhere but he’s not. Zimm and the Nats will get this squared away by spring training. The Nationals hold all the cards here. I think they’ll give Zimm around $500K for 2007 and $650-700K for 2008. In 2009, Zimmdaddy becomes arbitration eligible so I would look for a huge deal then. The Nats are keeping the payroll bare bones in 2007. In 2008, they will have the new stadium money coming in so I wouldn’t count on a bigtime Zimm deal until 2009. There’s no rush on the Nats part to give Zimm a long term contract just yet. By locking Zimm into a long-term deal now, the Nationals are leaving themselves open in case (and forgive me for saying this) Zimm doesn’t meet his long-term potential. He had a great first year, no doubt, but from a management standpoint, it’s only been one year in the bigs for Zimm.
The Mets signed Chan Ho Park to a $600K, one-year deal. The Nationals couldn’t have gone after Park at that rate? That’s a question I would like answered. Were there any offers? Doesn’t seem like it. Then again, if you had the option to pitch for the Offensive Mets versus Stan’s Plans, you might opt for the team based in Gotham.
The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network will air eight Nationals Spring Training Games. MASN also announced they will only recognize five baseball teams during spring training: the Nationals, the O’s, Astros, Braves and the Mets. See their schedule below. What’s with all the O’s-Nats spring training games? Eesh! Forcing that rivalry down our throats, eh?
Saturday, March 3, 1:05 p.m.: Orioles vs. Nationals, Viera, Fla.
Thursday, March 8, 1:05 p.m.: Astros vs. Nationals, Viera, Fla.
Friday, March 9, 1:05 p.m.: Nationals vs. Orioles, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Monday, March 12, 1:05 p.m.: Mets vs. Nationals, Viera, Fla.
Wednesday, March 21, 7:05 p.m.: Braves vs. Nationals, Viera, Fla.
Tuesday, March 27, 7:05 p.m.: Mets vs. Nationals, Viera, Fla.
Friday, March 30, 2:05 p.m.: Nationals vs. Orioles, Norfolk, Va.
Saturday, March 31, 1:05 p.m.: Orioles vs. Nationals, Washington, D.C.
Want to be one of the famous Racing Presidents? The Nationals are looking for a few good people. http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/fan_forum/pres_signups.jsp
One week til Nationals pitchers and catchers report!
How much stuff can I write in 30 minutes? Let’s find out.
So the Nationals aren’t a finalist in the Steve Trachsel sweepstakes? Shucks. The Nats ARE serious about going into spring training with the pitchers they have. ESPN.com reported the Nationals were one of three teams still in the running for the former Met. However, mlb.com reported Monday night that’s not the case.
And Bruce Chen? He looks to be off the market as well. Chen is close to a deal with the Texas Rangers. I didn’t know Chen was 13-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 2005 for Baltimore. Really? I knew about Chen going 0-fer in 2006 (0-7 with a 6.93 ERA). Hold on, Chen has been tearing it up in Puerto Rico with a 0.72 ERA. Let’s see if Chen can translate those numbers in the states.
Fredericksburg.com has an interesting article about Austin Kearns and his fantasy football team. Kearns drafted Peyton Manning No. 2 in the Nationals annual football draft. I don’t know what surprises me more: The Nationals have an annual fantasy football league or Kearns drafted the Indy quarterback second. He must know something because he won his league.
Monday night, the fire alarm went off in my building. I look at the Mrs and decided to head down to our fitness room (which is not attached to the building). The alarm went off for about 40 minutes, no fire (what a shock). So while the Mrs and I are on the elliptical, I came across the Carribean World Series on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (which took a break from every low-major college basketball game in a 50 mile radius). Lo and behold, there’s a Luis Matos sighting. He grounded out weakly to third in his at-bat. Good to see MASN getting ready for the baseball season.
On a blog note, there is a story in today’s Washington Post about the rise of the Nationals bloggers.
On striketwo.net, the Nationals are sixth in the team rankings with an average of 75 blogs per week.
"It’s part of the world, as it has been for the past few years, and it’s becoming part of our world," Kasten said in the Post article. "It’s one of the wonders of the Internet. You listen to [Washington Capitals owner and AOL executive] Ted Leonsis talk about it. It’s the community you create. So anyone who is a fan, a customer, who finds additional ways to engage in your product, that’s a good thing, even on those days that what they’re saying isn’t completely positive or, in some cases, accurate."
Bottom line: There’s almost two dozen Nationals blogs out there (including myself and Ed over at DC Daily). A good chunk of the bloggers are in the DC area (Ed is in NY and Farid over at Beltway Boys is in Idaho) meaning a lot of the blogs started up after the move from Montreal. The newness of the team gave fans (and bloggers alike) to get in on following a franchise in its infancy in a new city. It’s been interesting during the past couple months in which I’ve followed the team day in and day out just how often the Natosphere members blog and how detailed and well-written each blog is. And this is the off-season.
Tuesday, the Nationals baseball equipment will leave on a truck headed for Viera, Florida. The truck is slated to arrive Wednesday at Space Coast Stadium.
It’s a little more than a week until pitchers and catchers report for the Nationals.
Less than two months until the regular season. Can’t wait.
Who knows how long until DirecTV and MLB announce their partnership once and for all. At this point, I just want the two to make the announcement and move on with it.
-Last week, an internet rumor suggested that Nationals starting pitcher John Patterson would miss the first 2-3 months of the seasons due to elbow issues. Patterson, the Nationals and anyone related to the organization quickly shot down the rumor. Still, the mere sight of the words "Patterson and injury" while not surprising, could result in Nationals fans panicking worse than the passengers in "Airplane." The 2007 Nationals starting pitching staff is widely recognized as the worst in the majors. Any Patterson injury could be the breaking point for Nationals fans already frustrated by the team’s lack of movement in the offseason free agent market.
I’ll reserve any judgement on Patterson and any ailments until he goes through a couple of spring training workouts. In case of emergency, Nationals can always break the glass and sound the "Traschel" alarm!
-Austin Kearns signed his 3-year extension Thursday. Great job from the Nationals locking him into a multi-year deal. I think Kearns will do just fine for 2007-heck he hit .274 in 31 games at RFK last year (but only .226 on the road). I think the pressure for him to produce more will come in 2008 and 2009 when the Nationals will play in their new stadium. The new stadium should be an offensive improvement from RFK-then again RFK is among the worst hitters parks in baseball. A phrase "when he’s healthy, he is one of the best" is always scary. I read that a couple times this week when Kearns signed his deal. I’ll cut him some slack and hope Kearns’ injury bug is behind him.
Time to watch the Super Bowl XLI between the Decatur Staleys and the Baltimore Colts! More on that later! Enjoy!