New Nationals Uniforms

New Nationals uniforms were unveiled in a ceremony this afternoon at ESPN Zone in downtown DC. Nationals radio broadcaster Charlie Slowes was on hand along with manager Manny Acta, outfielder Lastings Milledge, and members of the Nat Pack to show off changes which included new home white uniforms and new home red uniforms with minor changes, plus entirely new alternate blue uniforms, and new road gray uniforms with a script “Washington” across the chest.

New Nationals road uniforms feature a curly W and script Washington to replace the old uniform's block letters.

New Nationals uniforms include this "alternate blue" uniform with red, white, and blue DC logo to be worn for a select few home games in 2009.

New Nationals uniforms include this sure-to-be-controversial new alternate blue uniform with red, white, and blue DC logo to be worn for a select few home games in 2009.

I’m not sure how the Nationals players will look in the new alternate blue uniform, but I’ll bet it would look good on Teddy. It looks sort of slimming…

I was not able to make the event, but intrepid Nationals fan SBF over at Nats320 has a comprehensive review of the day’s festivities.

I Think I’m Going to Like Chico Harlan

Those of you who get your Nationals news from blogs and feed readers may have not have noticed a big change in Nationals coverage over at the Washington Post.

Barry Svrugla, who had covered the Nationals beat since the team first moved to DC, recently moved on
to cover the Redskins.

Barry is great at what he does, and helped bring the
Post into the 21st century with his frequent and candid posts on the Nationals Journal blog. I was sad to see him move on from the Nats beat.

However, in just a few short weeks, Svrugla’s replacement Chico Harlan has proven to be razor sharp with the pen. In today’s Post Harlan paints a painful picture of pitcher Odalis Perez’s day, battling through 6+ innings just hours after undergoing an emergency root canal. Great stuff.

Some of the other memorable gems Harlan has given us in this short season:

On a 12-2 drubbing at the hands of the Phillies:

Certainly science has a name for this, the kind of implosion too vast for common math to quantify.

On the trials of starting young players:

Milledge and Dukes are both 23. Peña is 25. Whether they flourish or flounder, they will play. Sometimes, they will play games like this one.

On the anemic Nationals offense:

With the season 47 games old, they’re still waiting for the offense to break from its sleepwalk. They’re still waiting for a lineup to produce with runners in scoring position. They’re still waiting for results to catch up with logic, because an entire roster of hitters can only flounder below their career averages for so long, right?

On Manager Manny Acta’s shaved head:

With a razor, using the same technique that Carlos Delgado once taught him, Acta shaved the stubble from his head. He was ready for a clean start. Head fully Mr. Cleaned, Acta then turned to his next cleanup job — the team outside his office door.

On Shea Stadium:

Shea Stadium, decrepit and months from demolition, deserved a game like this one — filled with both trash and trash talk.

Yes, I think I’m going to like Chico Harlan.

Since When Was Cheering Unprofessional?

New York Mets losing pitcher Nelson Figueroa, after last night’s 10-4 defeat at the hands of the Washington Nationals, called the Nationals players — led by Elijah Dukes — “truly unprofessional” for cheering loudly from the visitor’s dugout at Shea Stadium.

“They were cheerleading in the dugout like a bunch of softball girls,” Figueroa, said. “I take huge offense to that. If that’s what a last-place team needs to do to fire themselves up, so be it. I think you need to show a little bit more class, a little bit more professionalism. They won tonight, but again, in the long run, they are who they are.”

Yes Nelson, and the Mets have reminded us who they are as well. Last off-season, Lastings Milledge was run out of town by his Mets teammates for such unprofessional behavior as high-fiving after making a big play. I think I’ll take a team full of young, enthusiastic players who never quit when they’re down over a bunch of overpaid underachievers who choke in the stretch and point fingers afterwards.

Am I wrong? Since when was cheering for your team unprofessional?

Photo by flickr user tagvestibule

Lastings Milledge in the Presidents Race?

Could Lastings Milledge don the Teddy Roosevelt costume?Presidents race watchers should take note to watch manager Manny Acta’s lineup card this season to see whether he’s given center fielder Lastings Milledge the day off.

In a video interview on Friday, Lastings Milledge tells the Washington Post that he plans to take the first opportunity to help Teddy win the presidents race.

“I’m gonna dress up as Roosevelt. I’m gonna win for him,” Milledge said. “If I get an off day I’m gonna ask Manny if I can dress up and win one.”

Milledge likens Teddy’s quest to win the presidents race to the Nationals’ pursuit of the NL East title. His advice to Teddy?

“Hang in there, man… You know, he’s just gettin’ a rap like how we get, everybody expecting him to lose, so he’s going to come out on top.”

The Washington Nationals Got Younger. Will They Be Better?

It’s been rumored that Stan Kasten is considering adding more presidents to the presidents race at Nationals Park in 2008. Could this be part of The Plan to make the team younger as they seek to build a champion? Teddy Roosevelt is currently the youngest of the racing presidents, but he was born 149 years ago, so none of them are exactly spring chickens.

But seriously, the team did get younger this week. The question on fans’ minds is did they also get better?

At the recently-concluded winter meetings, Washington Nationals GM Jim Bowden made several big moves. When the dust cleared, the Nationals had said goodbye to Brian Schneider, Ryan Church, Jonathan Albaledejo, Billy Traber, Justin Jones, and Glen Gibson.

The new faces on the Nationals include Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, Tyler Clippard, Aaron Boone, Matt Whitney, Garrett Guzman, and as has been reported by Barry Svrugla., catcher Paul LoDuca.

Followers of the Washington Nationals such as Mark Zuckerman and Chris Needham seem to agree that the team made a lot of progress this week. But while I applaud Bowden for executing against The Plan, I’m not ready to greet the moves with anything other than a little cautious optimism.

Did the Nationals address needs? Yes.
Did they get younger? Absolutely.
Did they acquire some upside potential on the cheap? Without question.

On the flip side, they also created some holes that have yet to be filled. There are no left-handed bats to speak of, and more importantly, they left themselves with only Jesus Flores at the catcher position. The signing of LoDuca doesn’t fill that hole. It only puts an exclamation point on the fact that they couldn’t fill it. LoDuca’s 1-year contract is a stopgap until a long-term solution is found.

At some point, when the Nationals acquire their catcher of the future, let’s take a look at what they had to give up to get him, and then we can do the math. If it turns out that another year of seasoning is all Jesus Flores needs to become an all star behind the plate, then Bowden looks like a genius.

Washington Nationals Trade All Their Left-Handed Starters

When I first saw the cozy right field dimensions of the new Nationals Park, my first thought was “if their averages don’t improve at least we’ll see more home runs from Ryan Church and Brian Schneider.”

Well, today the Washington Nationals announced that they had traded Brian Schneider and Ryan Church to the New York Mets for outfielder Lastings Milledge. Milledge is only 22 years old and filled with raw talent, but the Mets are in “win now” mode, and are willing to trade potential in change for consistency and experience, particularly behind the plate.

I have to commend Jim Bowden for continuing to advance The Plan. Schneider in particular was a fan favorite — an original National whose experience is credited with holding together last year’s rag-tag pitching staff. Still, it’s hard to criticize the team for getting younger and cheaper while filling a hole. It could be an absolute steal if Milledge fulfills his potential in a Nationals uniform.

Here’s what concerns me. Am I the only one who noticed that the Nationals just traded their only 2 left-handed starting pull hitters in exchange for another righty?

With Church and Schneider gone, switch-hitting Dmitri Young is the only potential regular starter with even a slightly better career batting average vs. left-handed pitchers. Here are the career splits for the 11 Nationals position players who stand to get the most starts. The right column shows the difference in batting average when facing right-handed pitching (for Nook Logan, I only included his right-handed at-bats, since he is no longer a switch-hitter).

Player vs Right vs Left Difference
Dmitri Young .286 .295 +.09
Cristian Guzman .263 .263
Felipe Lopez .257 .260 -.03
Ronnie Belliard .270 .284 -.14
Nick Johnson .264 .295 -.31
Austin Kearns .257 .289 -.32
Lastings Milledge .246 .281 -.35
Wily Mo Pena .247 .283 -.36
Jesus Flores .220 .270 -.50
Ryan Zimmerman .267 .330 -.63
Nook Logan .237 .314 -.77

As you can see, things are fairly stable with the switch hitters at the top of the list, but it falls off the charts pretty quickly after that.

I hope the Nats have found the centerfielder of the future, but I just can’t get too comfortable with this young lineup. Last year, as a team the Nationals batted only .250 vs. right-handers while hitting .272 vs. lefties. You won’t find a differential like that on a playoff team, yet after today’s trade, how can it possibly improve?

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