Sunday, June 29, 2008

Nats fans who want the organization to open its checkbook for next season might want to note Bob Nightengale's story in Thursday's USA Today. Nightengale reports the No. 1 free agent disaster of 2008 is pitcher Dontrelle Willis of Detroit (three years, $29 million, 0-1, 10.32 ERA). And high-priced contract extensions by Toronto for outfielder Alex Rios and second baseman Aaron Hill proved equally disastrous.

My solution: The person in charge had better know how to assess talent.

As a devoted Nats fan, I now ask myself the question of whether it would be good for the team to put a little heat on management, the GM and the efforts of the players. The self-congratulatory mantra of the "extras" put into the stadium by the ownership and yet no mention of the empty seats behind home plate; the ad nauseam reference to "The Plan" -- which is a fancy way of saying they're putting a minor league system in place; the quirky GM who seems to trade mainly for the unproven, the problematic or rejected players who can't hit, but, as Casey (Stengel) might say: "At least they can't field, either;" and the implacable manager who watches players like Felipe López dogging in the field.

Fans and the media in the Northeast are hard on their baseball teams; maybe we need to give this team a little tough love.

Tom Graves, Alexandria

You make several legitimate points, but GM Jim Bowden has had to operate with budget limitations and follow the club's "plan." That noted, no one associated with the Nationals can be proud of the club's performance this season.

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When are the pitchers for the Nats going to stop trying to set per-inning pitch count records each time they take the mound?

Bob Kessler, Chantilly

The pitchers are not trying to be lousy. But too often, they've been lousy.

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Before anyone starts feeling too sorry over the Mets recent firing of Willie Randolph, consider this quote in the New York Post from Randolph when he was asked about a meeting with (GM) Omar Minaya. "I thought he was talking about whacking a couple of my coaches." Isn't that the kind of guy you'd want to play for?

Charlie Jurgonis, Alexandria

The Mets handled Randoph's firing like amateurs.

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