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All Over the Road: Nationals at Phillies, April 18-20, 2006

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April 18: Nationals 10, Phillies 3 WP: Armas (1-2) LP: Lidle (1-2)
April 19: Phillies 7, Nationals 6 (10) WP: Franklin (1-1) LP: Stanton (0-2)
April 20: Nationals 10, Phillies 4 WP: Traber (1-0) LP: Madson (1-1)

Okay, it would be mean to make fun of Washington GM Jim Bowden, whose already-slim chances of retaining his job once the Nats get a permanent owner slipped further upon the news that Bowden was arrested for DUI this past Sunday night. But we're Philadelphians, by location or inclination, a twisted and bitter lot, and we come by our crudity honestly. Of course, after making Cristian Guzman a very rich man with a four-year, $16.8 million deal two winters ago and then trading a quality package of players this past winter for the overrated and overpaid Alfonso Soriano, Bowden  might prefer his private life under scrutiny, rather than his job performance.

Unfortunately for Washington, it's those deals that will constitute the bulk of Bowden's DC baseball legacy. The roster he's assembled is a sad map of mis-allocated resources and lousy player evaluation, and its flaws have been ever more apparent since the baseball gods withdrew their blessings around the 2005 all-star break and the Nationals began their plunge from the NL East penthouse to the basement. The Nats have some pitching (Livan Hernandez, John Patterson, Chad Cordero) and a few decent regulars (Soriano, Phillie-killing catcher Brian Schneider, Larry Bowa nephew and on-base machine Nick Johnson, Rookie of the Year favorite Ryan Zimmerman), but are probably at least two star bats from contention.


They come into this series off two straight wins over the last-place Marlins, and already have lost five of six games against the NL East-leading Mets. Johnson is off to a fine start (.357 avg, 1.128 OPS)  and second basemen Jose Vidro and Soriano--who has unwillingly relocated to left field--are hitting, too--.348/.945 and .294/.887 respectively. The rest of Washington's lineup, however, is struggling terribly: ex-Phil Marlon Byrd is drawing walks but batting just .161, Zimmerman has two extra-base hits in 49 at-bats, and shortstop Royce Clayton has accomplished the near-impossible task of under-performing the injured Guzman (.227/.505).

Pitching-wise, the Phils have the good fortune of missing Patterson (1-0, 24 strikeouts in 18 innings) this week. Hernandez was pummeled for 11 hits, including four homers, in his last appearance against the Mets, and Thursday starter    Billy Traber, replacing the injured Ryan Drese, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2003, with Cleveland.