1. The Nationals have two paths to take: Manny Acta or Stephen Strasburg
For a team that is farther behind than many thought possible, the Nationals are truly a team in crisis. They can't draw fans to their brand new, state-of-the-art ballpark. Last week after a rain delay, fewer than 100 fans remained in the Beltway's crown jewel, conjuring up memories of Italian soccer games played behind closed doors.
So what's the problem that they face? Quite honestly I would say it stems from the league take over a few years ago, and one that put Bowden in charge as GM. Other than the super 2006 season of Alfonso Soriano, the Nats have failed with every transaction that they have made, manager Manny Acta included.
So 29 games under .500 in the middle of June has got to be worthy of a sacking of Acta right? I believe so. Ofcourse you cannot pin the blame completely on him, but let's face it, Acta is not the guy that is going to lead them to the promise land anyways. So why not cut him now, and see how the team reacts? As one blogger says, "Sometimes you just have to give the players a fresh outlook. Axe Acta now, Washington." That's exactly right. Whats the worst that could happen? They lose 110 instead of 105? Get it done.
Signing Stephen Strasburg is more of need right now than a manager that is neither qualified, nor truly to blame for poor players. Focus elsewhere.
2. Gerald Perry was not the cause to the Cubs hitting troubles, Piniella is more of a total problem however.
The Northsiders have struggled to hit more than ever these days, something that cost batting coach Gerald Perry his job this past weekend. Why? Since Perry took the reigns for the 2007 season, the Cubs hitting approach has changed completely. Gone are the days of Sammy Sosa and Jeremy Burnitz swinging for the fences and whiffing, under Perry the Cubs(sans Alfonso Soriano) have become a patient ballclub for the most part.
In 2006, the last year before Perry's appointment, the Cubs ranked last in OBP and walks, walking 64 fewer times than the 15th ranked Pirates. While players like Juan Pierre did not help those two stats in '06, the approach of the team as a whole was terrible. Perry changed the hitting philosophy completely, and by 2008, the Cubs led the league in both OBP and walks, walking an astounding 636 times last year.
This year is different however, as the injury-riddled Cubs have struggled without their best hitter, third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Teams have also learned to pitch to Geovany Soto and Kosuske Fukudome, and have had their way with the struggles of Soto and Milton Bradley. Players are missing chances to drive pitches, and take what pitchers give them, thus prolonging the abysmal .246 team batting average. But despite their failures so far, the team remains just 3 games out, and the problem is more of Lou Piniella's, than the scapegoat, Gerald Perry.
Piniella told shortstop Ryan Theriot to start turning on pitches, rather than doing what he does best, slap singles through the right side. The result has been detrimental to the club, and Theriot has become Willie Mays Hays. His importance to the team is to get on base, be the pesky baseruner he can be, and make up for Soriano's lack of true leadoff hitter tendencies. Lou on the other hand, can't see the issue, and until Theriot won Sunday afternoon's game with a walkoff single to right, the real Ryan Theriot had been AWOL, replaced by Lou's little slugger. Blame Lou, not Perry.
Photo: The Onion