Rich Tandler's Nationals blog.

Monday, March 28, 2005

TV Deal is in Angelos' court

It's time for Peter Angelos to fish or cut bait. The following information comes to us from Jim Williams, columnist for The Examiner:
  • Four owners of Major League Baseball teams told me that if this thing is not put to bed by mid week they are going to tell Angelos to walk and sue them. Calls to owners and other members of baseball community are mad at Angelos for his not accepting a once in a lifetime deal.
  • This is the single biggest league give - away in sports history and many owners see no reason to give Peter everything. So it comes to an end this week.
  • People forget that the Nationals are owned by all 30 teams including Angelos. In a vote as you may recall back in December they voted 29-1 to move the team to DC - before then MLB wanted to work out a fair compensation package - which they did not have to do...the lawsuit was a concern but now they don't care because MLB is convinced and most lawyers I have spoken to -- say that the Orioles should take the money because IF he sues he will lose. Why? Baseball has given Angelos ALL of what he wanted except the TV deal that he wanted which was to own the Nationals TV rights.
  • So now it is time to take the deal or walk and either way CSN will be involved either the managing partner of the Nats- O's and CSN regional cable network, or they will sign the Nats to a deal that will be worth as much if not more than the O's.
  • Many owners said at this point they don't care if Angelos walks. The team will sell over 2.5 million tickets or more so MLB can jack up the franchise price to a low point of $375 million to $450 dollars and a huge part of that is TV deal. So it is over for Peter, he either takes the amazing deal on the table or risk getting nothing.
You can read Williams' new Examiner article on the subject here.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Nats TV--This is the week!

Will DC fans see Schneider and Co on local TV?
Will DC fans see Schneider and Co on local TV?

Nats TV--This is the Week!
By Jim Williams Courtesey The Washington Examiner
Date: Mar 13, 2005

Jim Williams of the Washington Examiner, a noted radio and TV industry insider, was kind enough to give Capitol Dugout a sneak peek at his upcoming Examiner column about the status of the one piece of the puzzle that has to get into place for the Nationals.

Nats TV Battle Coming Down to the Wire

By: Jim Williams

The Examiner

This is the week that we can expect something to break on the Nationals TV front. I have been working the phones all weekend and to say Major League Baseball is frustrated with O’s boss Peter Angelos is an understatement! Some owners have voiced an interest in having MLB walk away from the deal and telling Angelos to sue them! However, frustration while high is not likely to surface if MLB thinks they can get a deal done on compensation.

My sources close to Major League Baseball told me that MLB is working very hard to finalize the new regional cable network (RSN) between the Nationals – Orioles and either Fox Sport Net or Comcast SportsNet. The orders have gone out from the highest offices in baseball to get the deal done! That means MLB would like to split the TV section out of the compensation plan, for now and get that done so the Nationals can be on TV. They would then continue the rest of the compensation talks after the RSN deal is in place.

It has become clear that Angelos will not allow the Nationals to do a one year deal of their own. Instead he is steadfastly holding on to the notion that this must be a shared market (something we have been reporting for well over a month!) and that both the O’s and Nats have an equal number of games on the newly formed RSN. (Again, something we have been reporting for over a month!)

If the deal does not get done by Friday then the season opener for the Nationals against the Phillies on April 4th is in jeopardy of not being seen.

People in both the ad business and TV programming have told me that the O’s dragging their feet and not getting a deal done with MLB has killed the Nationals TV for 2005 in many ways.

From the sponsorship side budgets for baseball have been spent months ago meaning that while no doubt there will local businesses that want to be part of Nats TV it will be hard to figure out what an ad spot will cost since there is no network in place.

On the programming side sources have told me that even if WB 50 or UPN 20 wanted to carry the Nationals they would have to make some significant changes to their schedules.

You see TV schedules are made up months in advance and ads are sold for those programs so to alter the schedules to fit the Nationals in would be tough at this time. Not impossible mind you but very tough because of prior program, network and advertising commitments.

CSN could work out a schedule for the Nats and my guess is that somewhere in their Bethesda offices they even have a master Nationals TV schedule to be activated should they be allowed to do the games by “King Peter.”

The O’s took out an AD in the Sunday edition of the Washington Post saying that the Post (and the Examiner) got the whole thing wrong! Indeed the O’s want the Nationals to be part of THEIR network!

Thanks King Peter you are a real pal!

The ad stated that when Angelos bought the team the rights to Washington and all points south belonged to the Orioles. That is just plain not true! A check of the ownership papers shows that the O’s territory ends around Columbia. He has gotten the DC, northern Virginia markets for free because there has not been a team in the DC area.

Also in the ad the Orioles point out that they established their own network as the foundation to service the entire territory. Well, O’s TV has been producing the broadcast (non CSN games) for three years but as for a RSN of the O’s own that would be a hard sell. You see they would have to work with cable companies to clear a channel for just the Orioles and to do that they would have to deal with the major cable owner in the region.

Want to guess who that is?


Comcast still has the O’s rights through 2006 and trust me they won't let them out of any deal unless Comcast SportNet is a partner.

Finally the ad states that the O’s are willing to pay the Nationals millions of dollars for their rights. Again think about this….The Orioles want to own the Nationals TV rights?

I am absolutely certain that the new Nationals owners would love to pay nearly $400 million dollars for a team whose TV rights are owned by the Orioles. Yea, that is going to happen!

It should be noted for the record that the O’s TV network productions lack the top notch quality of CSN. The games are not offered in HD and to be quite honest about it they do things on the cheap hiring less than CSN standard production facilities.

After that ad you can see what I have been telling you for over a month and that is MLB baseball is dealing with a man who wants to high jack TV money that he has no right to have! All hail “King Peter!”

A network that has the Nationals, Orioles and CSN is what is best for the fans of the Washington area. Any things else would be a travesty and a total slap in the face to baseball fans in this region.

Maybe you can now feel some of the pain of the MLB team that has been working on the deal with the Orioles.

Meanwhile, the poor folks at the Nationals front office have all that good news about tickets and the radio deal is working out fine, so far, but no TV.

It is a crime and one that MLB is hoping to resolve by Friday

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Who Are These Guys? Christian Guzman

Christian Guzman

Cristian Guzman’s Vitals

27 year old shortstop, 6-0, 195, switch hitter, throws right. Career BA .266, OBP .303, SLG .382, 39 HR, 289 RBI in six seasons.

Quick Take

A slap-hitting shortstop who is solid defensively but needs to show more patience at the plate to be effective offensively.

Guzman rundown

At the All-Star break in 2001, Cristian Guzman was one of the game’s rising stars at the age of 23. He was an excellent-fielding short stop who had the speed to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples as well as some occasional home run pop in his bat. A shoulder injury later in that season derailed Guzman’s rise to a spot among the game’s elite and now he’s very close to being in the “good-field, no-hit” category of shortstops.

To quote the Baseball Prospectus on him, “You typically don’t see this kind of career stagnations without invoking the name of Steven Segal.”

Guzman’s downfall at the plate is his utter lack of patience. Even during his All-Star season, he struck out nearly four times as often as he walked (78 K’s, 21 BB’s). Last year, the ratio “improved” to about two strikeouts for every walk (64-30), still a terrible performance for a batter without much power (8 HR last year).

As one would expect with the low walk totals, his on base percentage is dismal; it was just .309 last year. He doesn’t bring anything in terms of stolen bases potential either with just 10 steals in 15 attempts in 2004. Given all of this, it’s somewhat surprising that he’s penciled in to hit second in the order.

Unless he can learn how to work the count he’ll have to earn his four-year, $16.8 million contract in the field. Although he’s not one of the more spectacular fielders you’ll see during the season, he has good range, he doesn’t bobble many balls when he gets to them and he has a strong arm.

It would be a big plus if Guzman could develop the ability to take a few more pitches, but there aren’t very many cases of a batter dramatically improving his OBP at the age of 27 and seven seasons into his big-league career. Still, if he can just either get to first a little more often or gain some power he’ll be a very valuable player because of his defense.

2005 Down and Up

Downside: .255 BA, .290 OBP, 5 HR
Upside: ..280 BA, .315 OBP, 12 HR

To find Cristian Guzman’s career stats on, go to

To find previous player profiles in the “Who Are These Guys?” series introducing you to your new Washington Nationals, visit the Capitol Dugout home page at and search for “Nationals”.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Source: Nats TV Deal Close

I hate to use the proverbial unnamed source, but let's just say that I got this from a guy in the know. If you examine the DC press on a daily basis, you'll know who told me this:
Many owners have voiced their displeasure to MLB reps working with Angelos. They want this thing tied up and this is a very important week. Meanwhile the Nats radio network is moving fast to add stations and we could have a list as soon as a week from today that will include a Baltimore station.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Drudgery of Spring

The lyrical descriptions of winter turning into spring have been pretty well worn out. The excitement of pitchers and catchers reporting and that exhibition opener against the Mets have given way to the drudgery of endless drills and split squad games featuring AA players and non-roster invitees. There isn't much news to report except that some players have been sent to the Nats' minor-league camp. From Barry Svlurga's journal on Monday:
Other news: The team made its first cuts of the spring, reassingning the following players to minor league camp: pitchers Seth Greisinger, Luis Pineda, Chad Durbin, Micah Bowie, Drew McMillan, infielders Rick Short, Jared Sandberg and Phil Hiatt and outfielder Brandon Watson. After today's game in lovely Lakeland against the Tigers, pitchers Bill Bray and Josh Karp will be sent down.

So with such a news vacuum, the conversation become speculation, like will Terrmel Sledge be traded. From Svlurga in yesterday's Post:
His name will come up as much as anybody's in the Washington Nationals' spring training camp, whispered by scouts and media members alike. He will appear in left field, in right, at first base and maybe a bit in center. He has the respect of his manager because of the way he handled himself during a miserable stretch to start his major league career. He draws the praise of his general manager because of the look in his eye every time he steps into the batter's box.

So while there are questions about whether he'll start and where he'll play, the most significant uncertainty about Terrmel Sledge continues to be: On Opening Day, will he be a Washington National?

Jim Bowden, or Trader Jim as many refer to him, said this about trading Sledge:
"It'd be real hard for me to trade a guy like him," Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden said Monday, "because they don't come often."

Note the missing words and phrases typically associated with a statement about a player that a GM won't trade such as "untouchable" or "no way" or "don't bother calling" or anything like that. What he's saying is code for "I'll only let him go for a left-handed starter" or something like that.

The emergence of Alex Escobar as a possible viable alternative as a fourth outfielder makes such a deal a possibility. Still, the view here is that it would be better to give Endy Chavez--who is still hacking away at anything thrown in his general direction--his walking papers and have Sledge lead off. His OBP wasn't great last year at .336, but he did have two minor league seasons where it was near .400 so there is a prospect for improvement there.

TV Blackout Continues

Cartoon courtesy

This is a red-letter day of sorts; the Washington Post wrote an editorial that I agree with 100%.

The situation is not simple, and the stakes are high. Washington's team,
the Nationals, is owned by Major League Baseball, which has a considerable
interest in getting the best price it can from the people who will be bidding on
the franchise when it goes on sale. Any team that has had its prospective TV
money greatly reduced by an uneven revenue-sharing arrangement such as the one
Mr. Angelos appears to be seeking -- and we are talking about sums that would go
a long way toward financing a major league payroll -- would be worth a lot less
at sale. One possible scenario has Mr. Angelos and the Orioles getting the
lion's share of money from a joint regional network that would televise both
teams -- regardless of whether the more populous Washington area and Nationals
fans were the primary source of that money. Another possibility would be for the
Orioles and Nationals to make their own separate deals with broadcasters. The
complication here is that Mr. Angelos appears to have a far more expansive view
than do his baseball peers of how large a viewing area should be reserved for the Orioles, and thus kept off-limits to the Nationals.

The Post proposes a solution:
If Mr. Angelos is entitled to compensation, it needs to come in some other way, perhaps as a one-time payment from all of baseball. Baseball's leaders should not be cowed by Mr. Angelos's legendary litigiousness.

Not a bad idea. Not as good as closing up the "negotiations" and tell Angelos not to let the door hit him on the way out.

Angelos has no case. He has no right to the DC market, none at all. It's as though he's got a poker hand with an eight high and he's betting like he has a full house. Bud Selig and organized baseball can see his hand, it knows it has trip aces, and yet they won't take his chips.

Call his bluff, Bud. This has gone on long enough.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Who Are These Guys? Terrmel Sledge

Terrmel Sledge’s Vitals

27-year-old left fielder, 6-0, 185. Bats and throws left. Career BA .269, OBP .336, SLG .462, 15 HR, 62 RBI in one major-league season.

Quick Take

The organization’s minor league player of the year in ’03, he struggled early last year, but found his groove as the year progressed.

Sledge Rundown

Handed an everyday role in the outfield after his stellar 2003 performance in the minors, Sledge started the season 1 for 34 and emerged from April with a .122 batting average. In May, he was fined for a strange incident in which an umpire complained after Sledge threw a bat near him after popping up. Coincidently, it was right around that time that he started to find his stride at the plate. From May on he hit .284 and started to live up to the hype.

To continue his improvement, Sledge needs to hit with more power; 15 homers out of your left fielder isn’t going to cut it. As he progressed in the minors, he backed off the plate and was pulling the ball with authority. He needs to learn to do that in the bigs. With even a modest improvement in power Sledge should earn the opportunity to play every day.

Another route to regular playing time for Sledge could be through the leadoff spot in the lineup. While he’s not the classic, old-school leadoff hitter he’s fast enough. His OBP would have to improve some for him to be truly effective there but he did have two seasons in the minors where his OBP was near .400, so there is a prospect that it could get better.

In the field, he’ll worry more about being in a position to field the ball on the hop rather than about going all-out to make the diving catch. The net result will be more singles for the other team but fewer extra-base hits and errors.

There is something of a cloud surrounding Sledge. In October of 1993, while trying out for the US Olympic baseball team, he tested positive for steroids. As the test came in the context of international competition there were no sanctions from baseball at the time.

At 27, Sledge is getting a bit too old to be considered a prospect. Should he show the expected improvement from his rookie year to 2005, he will be a big plus in the lineup for the Nationals. Even if he levels off at his post-May ’04 numbers it will be hard to keep him off the field.

2005 Down and Up

Downside: .250 BA, 10 HR, 50 RBI
Upside: .280 BA, 20 HR, 80 RBI

To find Terrmel Sledge’s career stats on, go to

To find previous player profiles in the “Who Are These Guys?” series introducing you to your new Washington Nationals, visit the Capitol Dugout home page at and search for “Nationals”.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Nats Gameblog vs. Mets 3-2-05

Top First: Armas looked sharp. He had comand of the strike zone, striking out two, one swinging and Beltran looking.

Bottom First: Chavez strikes out swinging on a pitch way low and outside. No sign of the "new" Chavez. The Guzmam strokes one to center for a single is erased on an innning-ending double play by Vidro.

Top Second: Armas a bit wild high, but a leadoff walk doesn't cost anything as he gets a high flyout, a soft liner to second, and a bouncer to short.

Probably the last inning for Armas. He got out of two innings with nothing being hit hard against him, two K's, a successful first outing.

Bottom Second: Glavine plunks Guillen. Robinson does not replace him with a pinch runner. Perhaps he should have as he's easily picked off of first base by Glavine.

Castilla gets an infield hit and but Johnson bounces into a force at second to end the inning. Washington baseball is still scoreless after 33 years plus two innings.

Top Third: Mike Hinckley looks funny out there. He throws with the wrong hand, his left one. I didn't think such players were allowed on this team.

Virdo looked pretty smooth and confident gliding to his left to gather up a grounder. The next play he looked a bit akward on a ball hit straight to him. Remember, this is a guy who hasn't played since August and coming off of major knee surgery.

A couple of hard-hit balls off of Hinckley, one up the middle for a base hit by Reyes and the other a hard line drive right at Wilkerson by Matsui.

Bottom Third: Hinckley bats, gets a few good hacks at the ball before striking out on a 2-2 pitch.

Matsui makes his second nice play of the inning by charging and short-hopping a bouncer to throw out Chavez. I can see what Bowden was talking about with Chavez taking too long to get out of the box. He was thrown out by a few steps and with his speed it seemed like it should have been much closer.

Top Fourth: Beltran nearly takes Hinckley's head off with a line drive up the middle. The pitcher was torn between self defense and trying to make the play for a fraction of a second before deciding to watch it go by.

Hinckley then issues a walk on four pitches and a run-scoring single. Chavez displays a pretty good arm in an attempt to get the runner at third after a fly ball for the first out.

Hinckley showed his nerves a bit when he made a poor throw on a comebacker that should have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, everyone was safe and the Mets scored their second run. He rushed the throw, violating the cardinal rule of making sure you get at least one out. They'll make sure that he fields plenty of short grounders in practice over the next week or so.

After two runs were in, Hinckley did work his way out of a bases-loaded with one out situation with a strikeout and a soft fly to left.

Bottom Fourth: With one out Vidro gets a solid base hit and then Guillen gets one that's low and away and muscles it over the fence just to the right of center with plenty to spare to tie it up at two.

Top Fifth: Chavez flat out drops a fly ball by Matsui. Fortunately, Matsui stumbled rounding second and it wound up being just a two-base error.

The 6-11 John Rauch now pitching and is victimized by Jeffrey Hammonds misplaing a line drive hit right at him into a double to the left-field wall. That's a good way for a non-roster player to ensure that he stays there.

Robinson had the headset on to do an quick interview and, a couple of innings later, he still had the headset on and was listening in to the announcers. When asked if that was still Chavez out ther in center (who made the error), Robinson responded "I guess so." It was kind of like hearing Bobby Bowden on the sideline at a Florida State football game.

Chavez nearly misplays a liner, but recovers for the third out. For a guy who is supposed to be one of the strong points of the defense, he has some work to do.

Bottom Fifth: Nick Johnson looks like a ballplayer. For a fairly big guy he's reasonably graceful and just looks sharp standing up there at the plate.

Keith Osik hits a low pitch over the left field fence to tie it up.

Carlos Baerga is wearing #77, not a good sign for making the team. Escobar's is in the 40's, so his shot would seem much better.

Top Sixth: Tucker with a nice 1-2-3 effort.

Bottom Sixth: No regulars are left in the lineup for the Nats. It's getting very difficult to know who's doing what as the announcers are chatting on about the teams and about baseball in general and they aren't telling you who's at bat or in the field. Somebody struck out looking, I have no idea who.

Classic hit and run executed by Terrmel Sledge (they did tell us who he was), slapping the ball through the hole vacated by the shortstop when Jamie Carroll, who had walked, broke for second. Carroll scores on Hammonds' gound ball that went to the outifield. Not sure if it's a hit or error on the third baseman as they were interviewing Guillen in the dugout.

It's an error, they just told us.

First arguement by Frank Robinson. A popup just off the infield grass to right falls to the ground with runners on first and second and one out. The umpire, though, involks the infield fly rule and the batter is out. With a tough sun and due to the fact that no field ever got into position to field it, that was a questionable decision. The key word in the rule is that the play on the ball must be "routine" and clearly this was not. Frank went out and argued the call, but, of course, it was to no avail.

Top Seventh: Gary Majewski has a solid inning, throwing some 90 MPH heat.

Bottom Seventh: 1-2-3 for the Nats

At this point, I will abandon the inning by inning tracking and just pipe in if anything of interest happens.

Now, if this was a regular-season game, this would be a classic setup. With a one-run lead, Majewski works the seventh, Ayalah the eighth, the Nats get an insurance run in the bottom and Chad Cordero comes in to try to nail it down in the ninth.

Cordero strikes out one swinging, the next looking, and got the last one swinging. The last strike was dropped, but the throw to first wrapped up a 5-3 Nationals win.

Skip The Poetic Waxing, It's Time to Play!

Ahhh, spring. The warm breeze, the emerald green grass surrounding the cocoa-brown dirt of the diamond, the. . .

The heck with it. No poet am I. It’s time to Play Ball!

The Nationals take the field for the first time today in a game that doesn’t count and will soon be forgotten. But, for today, it’s baseball played by a team that calls Washington home and that’s all that matters.

All eight of the projected regulars will start and get one or two at bats and pitcher Tony Armas will go the first two innings.

For a team that lost 94 games last year, the lineup is surprisingly set with the only battle being Endy Chavez against, well, Endy Chavez. Yesterday in an interview on a Washington area radio station, general Manager Jim Bowden called Chavez out.
His numbers are not good enough to win at this level. When someone’s done something two years, you don’t give him a free ride the third. . .He knows he has to adjust. . .We’re not going to put up with it, he has to change.

A few days ago in the Washington Post beat writer Barry “I’d like to buy a vowel, Alex” Svlurga went into more detail as to exactly what Chavez needs to improve upon.
Last year, he couldn't hold onto the leadoff spot -- one he acquiesced to Wilkerson -- because he walked just 30 times in 547 plate appearances, a horrific rate. He hit .277 and stole 32 bases, but it hardly mattered, because his on-base percentage was just .318, including an unforgivable .291 when batting first. The result: He scored just 65 runs. This year, the goal has been clearly stated. The Nationals want Chavez to score 100 times. Doesn't matter how. Just think that way. Make it happen.

It seems that hitting coach Tom McGraw likes to preach old-school techniques when it comes to batting. Perhaps it would help if he made a challenge that a hitting coach made to a hitter with problems taking pitches like Chavez does. It was many years ago and I can’t remember the names of the player or coach, but it doesn’t matter.

The batter would hack at anything within the same zip code as the strike zone, as does Chavez. The coach made a deal with the player. Every time the player swung and missed at a pitch, he would have to pay the coach $10 and every time the player took a strike the coach would pay the ten spot back to the player. They would settle up weekly and it served as an incentive to the player to be more selective.

Today, of course, these guys are playing for more than $14,000 a year so the stakes would have to be increased to $100 or so. If every time that Endy swings and misses there is somewhere in the back of his mind that he just cost himself $100 he just might be inclined to take a few more pitches. Threats to his job and moving him down in the order don’t seem to have served as sufficient incentive to get Chavez to be more patient. Maybe a little pocket money is the carrot that will do the trick. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

Last week, when told he needed to work on getting on base more he took bunting practice. No, Endy, we’re not looking for a half dozen more bunt hits, although it would behoove you to get out of the box more quickly so that you can take advantage of your speed and beat out a few more infield hits. No, you need to draw more walks, a lot more, like 50 more. Pitchers need to know that they have to do better than throw in the same neighborhood as the plate is in to get you out. Make them work.

The problem is that the threats to Chavez’ job security have a somewhat hollow ring to them. The alternatives are not quite as unattractive as having an out-making maniac at the top of the lineup, but they’re not very good, either. The current Plan B is to have Brad Wilkerson, a great defensive left fielder, move over to center, where he’s s bit better than adequate, and put Terrmel Sledge in left. Sledge isn’t a hack in the field, but he’s average at best.

In addition to the defensive problems, there is the question of the alternative to Chavez at the top of the order. Christian Guzman, who has good speed, has numbers remarkably similar to those of Chavez. Wilkerson has the requisite OBP but his power is wasted in the leadoff spot. There has been some speculation that at some point prospect J. J. Davis might get a crack at the leadoff spot, but that would be almost a desperation move.

But desperation can wait for August. Today, it’s Batter Up!

Who Are These Guys? Livan Hernandez

Livan Hernandez
Livan will be the Next Big Thing in DC

Livan Hernandez’s Vitals

30 year old right handed starting pitcher, 6-2, 245. Career W-L 95-94, ERA 4.13, 1181 K’s 581 BB’s. Has also played for Florida and San Francisco

Quick Take

Clearly the staff’s ace, he will produce 250 innings of quality pitching in 2005.

Hernandez Rundown

The word “endurance” does not instantly come to mind when looking at the rather rotund physique of Livan Hernandez, but there was no more durable pitcher in baseball in 2004. In fact, that’s been the case for the past seven seasons. Since 1998 he’s been in the NL’s top 10 in both complete games and innings pitched. He’s getting stronger, topping the NL charts in both of those categories in each of the past two years. Last year he threw 3,926 pitches in 2004, the most in the National League by over 200.

Of course, to throw that many pitches and that many innings, you not only have to be durable, you have to be pretty good. His 11-15 record last year was dragged down considerably by the team’s dismal overall performance and by the sixth-worst run support in the major leagues. Certainly he deserved better with his ERA of 3.60.

As one would expect from such a prodigious inning eater, Hernandez’ game is finesse rather than power. His fastball tops out in the high 80’s and he throws that and a slow curve, slider, and change up with the same smooth motion. Like most finesse-type pitchers, he needs to pitch inside to be effective and he doesn’t have much of a margin for error. If his pitches wander towards the middle part of the plate, look out.

As if his prowess on the mound wasn’t enough, Hernandez is also pretty good at the plate. Good enough, in fact, to be voted as the NL’s 2004 Silver Slugger award as the league’s top hitter at his position. Now, the “slugger” part might be something of a stretch since he hit just one home run. He did, though, hit .247 with seven doubles. When called upon to bunt he was also adept there, laying down 15 sacrifice bunts.

Perhaps it’s a stretch to call him a five-tool player, but Hernandez can also field his position with the best of them. His range factor says that he fields an average of about one more ball per game than the average NL pitcher. That’s fairly significant, especially considering that he made just two errors last year.

Just one more reason why a Nationals fan should be delighted to have Hernandez on the team; should the team defy the odds and reach the playoffs, it has an accomplished postseason ace. In 1997, he pulled off the rare double of being named the MVP in both the NLCS and the World Series for the Florida Marlins.

Not to go overboard here, but the view here is that Livan Herndandez will be the Next Big Thing in Washington. Just as in the early 1970's everyone in town, sports fan or not, knew who Billy and Sonny were by their first names, everyone all around the Beltway and beyond will know who Livan is.

2005 Down and Up

Downside: 16-10, 3.50 ERA
Upside: 12-16, 4.25 ERA

To find Livan Hernandez’ career stats on, go to

To find previous player profiles in the “Who Are These Guys?” series introducing you to your new Washington Nationals, visit the Capitol Dugout home page at and search for “Nationals”.