July 31, 2008 **
This slump is getting monotonous. Once again, the Nats showed signs of competitive life against a strong opponent, and once again they fell short. John Lannan threw seven strikeouts, but gave up eight runs (two unearned) in 5 2/3 innings, and there is no way the Nats are going to score that many runs. Nevertheless, they got two runs in the bottom of the ninth, closing the gap, but still losing, 8-4. That makes nine (9) losses in a row, matching their worst losing streak of this season, from April 3 through April 12. For the month of July, the Nats won only five games, while losing 19. That makes it the team's worst month in their (Washington) history! (Their previous worst month was April 2006, when they went 8-17.) In tonight's game Ryan Zimmerman was hit by a pitch on his right hand, but no bones were broken, apparently. He's listed as day to day.
But you know what? For sports fans in Washington, a last-place team is better than no baseball at all! Let's see how long we can keep spinning defeat in a ironically positive way... Tomorrow the Nats begin a home series against the Cincinnati Reds, who are doing fair this year (51-58), but are hopelessly outclassed by the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals.
The only trade of note by the Nationals was getting Yankee shortstop Alberto Gonzalez (not the Attorney General ) for Jhonny Nunez, a pitcher in their farm system. He's 25 and may be a contender to serve as backup for Cristian Guzman. The Nationals have an incredibly flexible infield, with Belliard, Lopez, Lo Duca, Pete Orr, and Kory Casto all playing multiple positions. According to MLB.com:
General manager Jim Bowden really wanted to trade his veterans for prospects. But he quickly learned that his veterans, such as Felipe Lopez and Paul Lo Duca, didn't have any trade value because they're having subpar years.
Ouch! Well, who knows, maybe Bowden might get traded soon.
I'm sure the folks in Los Angeles will find out real soon whether they are up to his standards. Manny Ramirez practically begged to be traded, revealing his inflated ego while expressing deep resentment toward the Red Sox organization -- but not the fans. Well, no one ever accused him of having class, so it's no big surprise. His disgruntlement has been well-known for years, and he was almost traded after the 2004 season. I wonder how he will get along with his once and future team-mate, Nomar Garciaparra? This momentous exchange involved the Pirates as well, and Jason Bay is heading to Boston, so at least they won't suffer much in the batting department. See MLB.com.
Ivan Rodriguez played a key part in reviving the moribund Detroit Tigers, and now he's headed for bigger and better things in The Bronx. Since Jorge Posada had season-ending surgery, the Yankees needed a first-class "backstop," so it made eminent sense. (Did they consider Paul Lo Duca?) The Tigers are playing respectably this year, but aren't bound for the post-season, and it seems that Pudge parted ways on good terms.
Thankfully, the City Council in Detroit has given the preservationists one more week to muster enough funds to Save Tiger Stadium. (Go ahead, give a few bucks. You'll feel better about yourself, and it just might make the difference.) See Free Press.
To the dismay of many fans, future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. was traded by the Reds to the White Sox in exchange for a couple younger prospects -- a relief pitcher and an infielder. This happened just before the deadline. Everyone remembers what a feel-good occasion it was nine years ago when he was traded from the Mariners to his family's "home city" on the Ohio River, expecting he would finish his career there. Such was not to be the case. One year remains on his contract, and at age 39 he's probably got a couple more decent years of play in him. He has 608 lifetime home runs, one behind Sammy Sosa. This trade was also a surprise from the White Sox perspective, because they are already strong in the outfield. See MLB.com.