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Phillies-Nationals Rubber Match Tonight

Party!Russell Branyan was unable to duplicate his heroics from the previous night in last night’s game as the Phillies dropped one to the Nationals by a score of 4-2. Thanks to all those who made it out to the tailgate party and the game, it was definitely a great time. Our next event will follow the Phillies as they travel to Pittsburgh this weekend. Before Saturday’s game against the Pirates, Philly Tailgate is throwing a party at Finnigan’s Wake outside PNC Park and everyone’s invited. I’ll be there ,so call me if you need directions.

In the meantime, there is still a rubber match with the Nationals to contend with; fortunately for the Phils, this day is Cole Hamels day. To offer some perspective on the Nationals – whom the Phillies meet eight more times this season – we’ve invited the ladies from 3 Girls With Heart to answer some questions about the DC club. I did the same over on their site, so check out the Phillies responses too. (Don’t forget to tune in to 1360 AM tonight at 9:30 or listen online to hear my interview!)

What is your ideal starting rotation for the Nationals in 2008?

Steph: This is a tough one because it seems you never know what might happen to our rotation. We have had 12 different starters this year! It has been a treat this year to watch guys like Redding, Bacsik, and Simontacchi come up with great stuff and prove they still have what it takes. A lot of their success does come from Randy’s guidance, but I think our catchers Brian Schneider and Jesus Flores play a part also, both call a great game. If I could choose I would have Bergman, Hill, Chico, and Hanrahan on the roster for sure. I am anxious to see what happens if our draft pick Ross Detwiler makes it to the big leagues this season. Depending on the stuff he throws, my fifth pick would be between Detwiler and Lannan. It’s encouraging to have a couple of young prospects.

Kristen: I’d like to see Hill and Chico stay in the starting five. I’m encouraged by the excellent work of (dare I say it) John Lannan and Joel Hanrahan. There’s also room for a lot of competition from some stellar young guys (Collin Balester), veterans like Simontacchi and Redding or even our first round draft pick this year, Ross Detwiler. I think Randy St. Claire is pretty much invincible. He can work with anyone we give him and somehow – he can make it work. With Randy around, we can handle anything that comes our way.

Lindsey: Redding, Hill, Chico, Lannan and Simontacchi

Do you have any inside info on some of the cool stuff to expect in the Nats’ new stadium next year?

Steph: We haven’t heard many specific details. However, I have heard that there will be cup holders for every seat in the stadium. That’s something Nats fans seem really excited about. Also an expansive new scoreboard, new restaurants (hopefully better food options!), cherry blossoms, and views of the Capitol, all things DC!

Can Shawn Hill pitch a full MLB season next year? Will it be with the Nats?

Kristen: Yes, and you saw on Tuesday night why we want him to be part of this club’s future. I think during Spring Training we all started thinking Hill was going to be our next ace. Fans seemed to have grown tired of Patterson’s problems. It was devastating to lose Hill from the rotation early in the season – due to base-running – not pitching. Overall, he’s been pretty healthy and we think he was a great find. We’re hoping the Nats can lock him up.

Steph: Hill is undoubtedly the Nats best starter; both Manny and Randy St. Claire are fans, it would definitely be to our benefit to keep him in DC.

Lindsey: I think that Hill can pitch a full season, but like all sports, injuries happen and can’t be predicted. Based on what I saw last night, Hill needs to be part of the Nats next year. I sure wouldn’t want to see him in someone else’s uniform.

What was it like as a Nats fan to have Barry Bonds break the home run record against your team?

Lindsey: While some people might not be too happy about it, I think that it is great publicity and an honor to be a part of baseball history, despite the controversy surrounding Bonds. The Nationals couldn’t have asked for a more gracious guy than Mike Bacik to give up that home run. He seemed truly in awe of the moment and proud to be part of history.

Steph: It was a surreal feeling. I think we kinda knew it was bound to happen against the Nats, we were just hoping that it wouldn’t happen against Lannan, I mean how much more could a young pitcher take?! Honestly, it was neat to witness baseball history, and know that my team will always be a part of it, but I am glad the quest is over. The coolest thing about that game was our team pulling together and winning the game. It was a great sign of teamwork vs. one man’s success. The home run couldn’t have come from a better pitcher. Mike Bascik seems like an all around good guy and sports fan. His father actually pitched against Hank Aaron so it’s almost like it was meant to be. I think Mike will represent our team well and if anything, he will always have a great story to tell!

Wtf is wrong with John Lannan?

Lindsey: John Lannan has shown tremendous composure in his first four starts. For a 22 year old to go from being ejected in his major league debut, to win at home and then to be under the national spotlight facing a record-chasing Barry Bonds, Lannan has certainly held his own. As long as he can stay relatively injury free and continue to develop over the next few years, I think his future looks bright.

Steph: Nothing! He is a young talented pitcher. It was unfortunate that he struggled with control during his start in Philly, but it was his first MLB game, that has to be tough. We really are sorry about Utley’s hand! I am positive that nothing was intentional and getting kicked out of his first game is probably not how he wants to be remembered. Lannan’s next two starts proved he can shake things off and I hope he has a long successful career.

Does Dimitri Young have a shot at the comeback player of the year award? How important was resigning him?

Lindsey: I’m not sure about the reality of Young getting Comeback Player of the Year, but I sure believe that there isn’t a more deserving player out there. He’s a player that has battled back from personal issues and physical health issues and now has one of the best batting averages in the National League. Resigning him was extremely critical to the Nats future.

Kristen: I love D – and we are so proud of him. It’s always nice to see people redeem themselves and turn their lives around. I’m glad this was a place where he could do it and I think his veteran presence in the clubhouse can’t be overstated.

Any hot prospects left in the Nationals farm system or are the all playing in Washington?

Steph – We sure do. It’s an exciting time for our system. The Nationals plan is to build from within and we have a couple of guys having great seasons in the minor leagues. Hopefully we get to see some of them come up to the big leagues in September. I am very excited about Ross Detwiler and Chris Marrero.

How much money is Mark Lerner willing to spend in the off season? Are there any specific players GM Jim Bowden will make serious offers to?

Kristen: Bowden is so secretive and you can never be sure what he’s going to do (if anything). “The Plan” as it’s known around here is to cultivate young talent and do a long-term building a la Stan Kasten’s time in Atlanta. Signing Dmitri and Belliard made us wonder if they are ready to accelerate that long-term plan and spend a lot more in the near future. It would be nice to do it now. They are guaranteed a great year of revenue with the new park. Fans will be excited to get back into baseball if we could have a competitive team sooner rather than later. I’d recommend reading Capitol Punishment because he does a great job tracking and anticipating what the Nats will spend in the near future.

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