- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2008

NATIONALS FIRST-HALF REPORT CARD

Player Grade Comment

Catchers

JESUS FLORES B+ Was supposed to spend year in minors but has thrived as everyday catcher.

PAUL LO DUCA D Injuries, subpar play cost him his starting job; now he’s on the trade block.

WIL NIEVES C High-energy backup catcher enjoyed some big moments early on.

Infielders

NICK JOHNSON INC. Season again ruined by a major injury for snakebitten first baseman.

DMITRI YOUNG C- Has raised his average to respectable levels but has only 10 RBI.

FELIPE LOPEZ D Hasn’t played to any level of consistency, and he has made countless mental gaffes.

RONNIE BELLIARD B- Surprising low batting average, but he leads club with nine homers.

CRISTIAN GUZMAN A- Earning praise around baseball following three difficult years.

RYAN ZIMMERMAN INC. Hopes to return from shoulder injury by end of week, a major boost for club.

AARON BOONE C- Got off to a hot start, faded since, now plagued by nagging injuries.

PETE ORR C- Plays hard and is fundamentally sound; just doesn’t have the skill to stick around.

Outfielders

ELIJAH DUKES B Had become team’s best all-around player when knee injury derailed season.

LASTINGS MILLEDGE C+ Shows signs of greatness, but he still needs to learn a few fundamentals.

AUSTIN KEARNS C- Horrible start to year probably attributed to elbow injury; looks better now.

WILY MO PENA F Shoulder was injured, but that didn’t cause him to swing at all those bad pitches.

WILLIE HARRIS B Plays the game the right way, brings energy and is a favorite among teammates.

KORY CASTO C Looks more comfortable in big leagues this time around.

RYAN LANGERHANS D+ Good defense, good baserunning, but the guy just can’t hit.

Starting pitchers

ODALIS PEREZ B Surprise Opening Night starter has pitched surprisingly well; now possible trade bait.

TIM REDDING B Staff leader with seven wins; should have more if not for all those no-decisions.

JASON BERGMANN B After an up-and-down start, has become consistent on the mound.

JOHN LANNAN A- 5-9 record doesn’t begin to show how well the young lefty has pitched.

COLLIN BALESTER C+ It’s clear he has electric stuff; just needs to harness it.

SHAWN HILL D Tried to pitch through forearm pain but yielded terrible results.

Relief pitchers

CHAD CORDERO INC. His loss to a major shoulder injury has had a huge effect on the bullpen.

JON RAUCH A- Has filled in admirably for Cordero as closer; could have earned an All-Star selection.

SAUL RIVERA B Workhorse is the only reliable setup man for Rauch.

LUIS AYALA D One of season’s biggest disappointments; he can’t be trusted in tight games anymore.

JESUS COLOME D There’s a reason he’s rarely used in close ballgames.

JOEL HANRAHAN B- Developing into a solid setup man; has best stuff in bullpen.

CHARLIE MANNING C 28-year-old rookie lefty battles; success rate is about 50 percent.

STEVEN SHELL B- Has remained solid as a long man in bullpen.

Coach/GM

MANNY ACTA C Second-year manager coming under more scrutiny this time, but look what he has to work with.

JIM BOWDEN C Acquired long-term fixtures in Milledge, Dukes, but wasted money on Lo Duca, Estrada, Mackowiak.

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