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Espinosa forcing way into lineup, possibly in left field

Jun 11, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

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NEW YORK — Has it gotten to a point, Matt Williams was asked after Wednesday’s game, where the Nationals simply need to find a way to get Danny Espinosa’s bat into the lineup on a regular basis, even if it means putting him in the outfield?

“Yeah, have to try to find a space for him to play,” the manager responded. “It’s important to do that. We’ll spend the next hours discussing and try to work that out.”

Consider the complete improbability of Williams’ answer had the same question been asked two months ago. The Nats have to find a way to get Danny Espinosa’s bat in the lineup? Possibly in the outfield? Well, yes. Yes, they do.

There has been no more surprising development this season than the emergence of Espinosa as an offensive force following two abysmal seasons at the plate that included a long-term demotion to the minors. And it doesn’t appear he’s about to fall off a cliff again, either.

With a 3-hit performance during Wednesday’s 5-4 win over the Yankees, including his eighth homer of the season, Espinosa raised his batting average to .263, his on-base percentage to .361, his OPS to .842. Remarkably, all three of his hits came from the left side of the plate, while the only two outs he made came while batting right-handed.

Such is the way of things right now. Thanks to a completely revamped swing, Espinosa has completely reversed his fortunes from the previous two seasons. After posting a left-handed slash line of .177/.222/.281 from 2013-14, with a 2 percent home run rate and a 37 percent strikeout rate, he’s now hitting .238/.340/.451 this year, with a 5 percent home run rate and 24 percent strikeout rate.

“It feels good,” he said. “I’m just staying with my routine, trying to take my approach into the game and just trying not to do too much. Trying not to create. Just see the ball and hit the ball.”

It’s working, so much so that the Nationals are now seriously thinking about starting Espinosa in left field for the first time in his career. He has been working in the outfield over the last week or so, and he did get into Sunday’s game in left field late after Denard Span departed with back spasms, forcing Michael Taylor to center field.

The Nationals weren’t thinking Espinosa would become a viable starting option in the outfield so soon. But circumstances tend to change in a hurry. The Nats have gotten worse production from their left fielders than any other NL club so far this season, and with Jayson Werth likely out until August with a fractured wrist, the team is open to new, unconventional ideas.

“We never could have foreseen starting [Ryan Zimmerman] there last year, or Kevin Frandsen,” Williams said Tuesday. “If the need arises, sure. [Espinosa] is swinging the bat well. If we have opportunity to get him out there and get him in a game, to help us win a game, we’re not afraid to do that.”

Espinosa, who has been using an extra outfielder’s glove he and Dan Uggla share as a “Just In Case” mitt, has impressed the coaching staff during drills.

“He’s an athlete,” Williams said. “Did you see his throws? Pretty good. Pretty strong arm. It’s just a question of getting him familiar. So he was out there early doing that. We’ve thrown a lot at him, and he’s willing to just take the bull by the horns and go, regardless of what’s presented.”

With the Nationals headed to Milwaukee for a 4-game weekend series, the opportunity for Espinosa to make his first career start in the outfield may be about to arrive. Anthony Rendon and Yunel Escobar are both healthy and need to play on an everyday basis at second and third bases. Ian Desmond, despite his struggles, isn’t in danger of losing his starting job at shortstop.

That leaves left field for Espinosa, who thinks he’s up for the task.

“I’m sure I could figure it out for nine innings,” he said. “There definitely could be work to do out there. I’ve never done it. So definitely work on flyballs, balls over my head and stuff like that. But I’d try not to over-think it and just catch the ball and make the plays I’m supposed to.”

104 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. rabbit433 - Jun 11, 2015 at 6:13 AM

    What is the difficulty as to where to put Espi? Shortstop is wide open!

    • laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2015 at 6:48 AM


      Actually you could leave Danny at 2nd, move Esco and his gold glove to SS, keep Rendon at 3rd and move Desmond and his lead glove to LF, where he would probably be a better defender out there than Espinosa (taller and longer and better able to reach up and grab shots hit over his head).

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 7:34 AM

        Nats need a LF and 1B where they are last in both in OPS. The 2 most premium power spots are the opposite right now. Shocking.

      • nats128 - Jun 11, 2015 at 7:59 AM

        Last in OPS in those 2 spots. Espi can certainly help in 1 spot, not both. If Tyler Moore or Clint Robinson had stepped up, there could be a internal candidate. Has to come from a trade.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:10 AM

        “Nats need a LF and 1B where they are last in both in OPS. The 2 most premium power spots are the opposite right now. Shocking.”

        Moving Desi to LF would not help with that. But there is nothing down on the farm, either, and MAT’s OPS (.679) doesn’t cut it.

      • Guapo - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:07 AM

        This +1.

        People ask why I’m so anti-Desmond and articles like this one are why. No matter how awful #20 is in the field, or how unproductive he is at the plate, there is never even a discussion of him losing his position, even for one game. It’s absurd. It’s like little league and he’s the coaches kid.

        Here are the facts.
        – Escobar has better career fielding statistics that Desmond at SS. Espinosa is about the same.
        – Desmond’s has been less productive at the plate then both Espinosa and Michael A Taylor despite logging roughly 80 more ABs than Espinosa and 100 more than Taylor.

        The fact that the Nats continue to pencil #20 in without question each day is inexcusable. And the media refuses to call them to task over it. Both are detrimental to the ballclub.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 11, 2015 at 11:51 AM

        We don’t know that Desmond is being run out every day “without question.” There may well be discussions about it in house. But until a move is made there is no reason for them do discuss it with the press/fans, and a lot of reasons for them NOT to. So there’s that.

        Further, a possible reason that Desmond continues to be run out there is that the Nationals believe, based on his overall track record, and the overall track record of the other options, that Desmond provides the best option going forward that the team has.

      • Guapo - Jun 11, 2015 at 12:27 PM


        Mark Z has dramatically better access than we do to Nats leadership, so I’ll take what he wrote at face value.

        “Ian Desmond, despite his struggles, isn’t in danger of losing his starting job at shortstop.”

        That’s a pretty clear indication that it’s not being discussed internally. Other than that, all I can judge by is what I see. And what I see is a them trotting out the 3rd best SS on the team as the only player on the roster who’s not sat a game this season.

        If they were using the overall track record of all their options, Desmond wouldn’t have started a single game this year.

        If you choose to look it up, Escobar’s career defensive statistics at SS are BETTER than Desmond’s. He’s better offensively too. This organization has never been objective in their evaluation of #20. He’s the golden boy and they refuse to see the reality of his play, this season or seasons past.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 11, 2015 at 1:08 PM

        See, I read “isn’t in danger of losing his starting job at shortstop” and I don’t immediately conclude that the matter was never discussed. There’s nothing in that statement that says that the Nationals didn’t have internal conversations that ultimately concluded that Desmond is the best option.

        Which is moot anyway, because I agree that Desmond isn’t about to lose his job.

  2. laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2015 at 7:02 AM

    “Thanks to a completely revamped swing, Espinosa has completely reversed his fortunes from the previous two seasons.”

    Espinosa’s resurgence has at least as much, and probably a lot more, to do with his new-found patience, plate discipline, and selectivity in his approach at the plate. I don’t care how level your swing is if you keep on swinging at pitches in the dirt, way outside, way inside, or six inches above the strike zone. Danny regularly struck out without the opposing pitcher ever having to throw him a pitch in the strike zone last year. Believe me, I used to keep track of such instances, just because his approach was so weird and self-defeating that you had to see it to believe it. That is no longer the case – not with Espinosa, anyway.

    He hit a 1st pitch center cut FB for his homer yesterday in his 2nd AB following his 1st AB, which featured an opposite filed double on an outside pitch he took the opposite way, as if he was Bryce Harper. Danny never, ever would have seen a first pitch like that last year in his 2nd AB following a hit, unless the ball had slipped out of the pitcher’s hand.

    Give Espinosa and the bench the credit for yesterday’s win, with a big assist from Denard Span. The 2 homers came from the bench (Danny’s and the FB MAT hit into the RF seats), and the winning run came via Moore’s clutch lead-off hit in the top of the 11th, which gave Matt a chance to play some small ball. The bench showed the regulars how that is done with Lobaton bunting Moore to 2nd and Danny’s IF roller getting him to 3rd.

    Without all of that, Denard’s gritty IF leg hit would not have mattered.

    • laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2015 at 7:05 AM

      And lest I forget (I did), a great outing from Gio and shut down relief from Janssen, Treinen and Druuuuuu!

      A very solid and well-earned team win.

      • virginiascopist - Jun 11, 2015 at 7:19 AM

        Indeed. Janssen, Treinen and Drew were very impressive.

    • natsjackinfl - Jun 11, 2015 at 7:26 AM

      Alot of Danny’s problems stemmed from his exaggerated leg kick, especially from the left side.

      Last season, he attempted to moderate it some but inevitably, his bull headedness would take over in short order and he would continue to flail away at pitches out of the strike zone

      This season, he’s abandoned the kick altogether from the left side and is showing signs of plate awareness in all his at bats. He even loos more in control when swinging and missing.

      Here’s hoping his awareness and new found success will banish that bull headedness altogether.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:18 AM

        The reduced leg kick helps keep his head still, and contributes to his seeing the ball better. I suppose Schu deserves credit for that, or some of it. Danny has said it was Matt who convinced him to dial back that swing and become more selective in his approach. He was bull-headed, but now looks like one of the smartest Nats’ hitters around.

        He presents a completely different package now. I am blown away by the makeover. He deserves most of the credit, though. He went from being a boneheaded twerp to being a level-headed grownup in an amazingly short period of time.

        I don’t know, but my guess is that he decided he was going to do whatever it took to make himself the player he could have been, all along. Good for him.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 7:37 AM

      The bench has been nothing short of fantastic plus the acquisition of Escobar.

      If Clint Robinson can get hot, this bench will be cranking on all cylinders.

      • nats128 - Jun 11, 2015 at 7:57 AM

        The team success to this point sure hasnt come from Ryan Zimmerman, Werth or Strasburg.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:39 AM

        “The bench has been nothing short of fantastic …”

        I really can’t remember a time when the Nats bench was so productive, regardless of individual stat lines. Danny’s stat line is the only one that is really impressive. I don’t have the numbers, but I am quite sure this Nats’ bench has produced more clutch hits, and certainly more big, clutch HRs than any Nats bench since the franchise moved to DC.

        Espinosa and Taylor lead the power numbers, but Moore, Lobaton and Uggla have also contributed.

        “If Clint Robinson can get hot, this bench will be cranking on all cylinders.”

        Robinson’s BA is actually substantially higher than Moore’s, Taylor’s, Lobaton’s and Uggla’s (every bench bat other than Espinosa’s), as well as starters Desmond’s and Zimmerman’s. He hasn’t shown any power, though.

        And neither he nor Moore should be playing LF, anyway. Not much Matt can do with what he’s got. I expect Rizzo to work something, especially of Ryan does not come around. The Nats will be hard-pressed to win much of anything with a 4-5 hitter as feeble as Ryan has been, up to now.

        I’m not a big fan of getting Zobrist from Billy. Matt already has a better, younger, more talented, much cheaper utility guy than Zobrist in the made-over Danny Espinosa. Danny would help with those power LF numbers if Matt would play him out there against lefties. Espinosa is killing lefties.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:55 AM

        Uggla’s stats don’t look great but his impact has also directly contributed to Wins and none bigger than the game in Atlanta that changed the fortunes of this team.

        Robinson has yet to make an impact. Stats are ok but he has to feast on RHPs and isn’t doing that.

        Bour and IDavis have been feasting on RHPs. Davis gives better defense. Flip the coin on who costs less but I would make a deal quickly as there is nothing out there. Of course make sure Davis will be healthy. He’s been out for a month.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:05 AM

        “Robinson has yet to make an impact.”

        I don’t agree with that, Ghost. Robinson has provided the tying or go-ahead runner in several games. Getting on base is important, and the base-runner has no control over what the guys hitting behind him do. Desmond scored on MAT’s HR yesterday, but he was only on base because the hitter ahead of him was forced out at 2nd. Give the credit for that run to the guy who made it to 1st before Desmond came to bat.

        The end result shows up on the scoreboard, but not necessarily in the responsible player’s stats. That is one reason I don’t put that much store in sabremetrics.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:10 AM

        .239/.292/.313/.605 not awful, but not great for Clint Robinson.

        He’s only had 1 RBI in a win.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:49 AM

        “He’s only had 1 RBI in a win.”

        Now, Ghost, you know as well as I that RBIs can be deceptive. If all you looked at were Ryan’s RBI numbers you might not think that there was a problem, at all!

        “.239/.292/.313/.605 not awful, but not great for Clint Robinson.”

        Not great, for sure, but better than any of the other bench players, save for Espinosa, and better than either Zim’s or Desi’s – and somehow Desi’s job is secure as a starter while Robinson’s numbers are not acceptable for a bench guy? There are many, many bench players with numbers worse than that, including almost every other bench player on CRob’s own team.

        Talk about RBI numbers. Check out Desmond’s, and how often he has left RISPs. Desi is the guy who has merited losing his job, much more so than Robinson, IMO, and by your own yardsticks of performance, as well.

  3. Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2015 at 7:38 AM

    Glad to see Danny’s turn around. Glad for him, glad for the team.

    There is also a cautionary tale here for all those fans who are so quick to blame a player’s attitude for his problems. When Danny was slumping, many wrote him off as a head case, hopelessly selfish and stubborn, unteachable, etc etc. Trade him for a bag of balls, asap, and let him be someone else’s problem!

    How wrong they were. How happy we should all be that the team knows better and ignores all that BS.

    • nats128 - Jun 11, 2015 at 7:55 AM

      Your also assuming that none of that was true. I never made any of those observations but your correct that others did. Attitudes can change. Its possible Danny did some growing up and soul searching and embraced change.

      As they say, the truth is sometimes in the middle.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:33 AM

      Glad to hear you weren’t among those who did that–lots of folks did.

      A lot of the psychology is simplistic in the extreme, and based on fans’ misunderstandings about how obvious and easy problems are to fix. “He just needs to do X, and if he’s not, that’s just because he’s stubborn, selfish, etc.”

      Are some guys stubborn and selfish? Of course. But fans know virtually nothing about what’s going on inside their heads, and we’d better off sticking to a discussion of what we can see and know–his swing, approach at the plate, etc etc. And we’d be better off having a little humility about how easy these things are to do (unless I’m on a chat board with a bunch of HOFers).

      • jfmii - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:40 AM

        My thoughts but said much better than I could have said it

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:46 AM

        Glad to see frustration with a certain someone didn’t drive you off yesterday!

      • pdowdy83 - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:53 AM

        We also can’t discount this is the first time he has been healthy since August of 2012 when he looked like an All-Star caliber middle infielder. I still expect over the course of his season for his walk rate to dip back down around 8% and his K rate to rise up to around 25% but even then he would be a 3-4 win player and his positional flexibility is really impressive this season.

      • masterfishkeeper - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:19 AM

        What makes you think Espinosa was not healthy last year?

      • jfmii - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:38 AM

        Thank you

      • pdowdy83 - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:44 AM

        Masterfishkeeper, I stand corrected. I was thinking the shoulder injury was 2014 but it was 2013. Disregard my fully healthy post.

      • natsfan1a - Jun 11, 2015 at 11:02 AM


        Hiram Hover – Jun 11, 2015 at 8:46 AM

        Glad to see frustration with a certain someone didn’t drive you off yesterday!

  4. ArVAFan - Jun 11, 2015 at 7:45 AM

    From the minor league report:

    “Toledo 11, Syracuse 2: Taylor Jordan allowed eight runs on six hits over 1 2/3 innings. Eric Fornataro allowed another two runs. Mitch Lively fired three scoreless innings and has a 2.31 ERA this season. Darin Mastroianni went 3 for 6 with three RBI.”

    Maybe they should bring up Mitch instead?

    • nats128 - Jun 11, 2015 at 7:53 AM

      Not good.

      • natsjackinfl - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:09 AM

        The Nats front office needs to apologize to the poor fans of the Syracuse Chiefs. Not only is the pitching staff below average, in what univers is Emanuel Burris a 3 hole hitter?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:14 AM

        Talk about retreads. When I read a misprint from James Wagner last week that Difo was going to Syracuse AAA I freaked. Until that team is righted and they get things changed there, I wouldn’t move any top prospects to that team.

        Rizzo has some work there. Pitchers are struggling there and the offense is offensive.

    • tcostant - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:19 AM

      Syracuse broke a huge losing streak, when they split a double header the other day. All their pitchers are our bullpen right now or sent down and depressed.

  5. thelatencn - Jun 11, 2015 at 7:57 AM

    Isn’t it amazing that with so many slumps and injuries, I open up the blog and see on the right hand side that we’re in first place. How did we do that with all our head-to-foot maladies? How good would we be if even half of these problems were resolved?

    • adcwonk - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:56 AM

      + 31 !

      • natsfan1a - Jun 11, 2015 at 11:03 AM

        I see what you did there. 🙂

  6. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:05 AM

    Minor quibble: Outfielders use gloves, which have separate fingers, and not mitts (as in mittens), which do not.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:10 AM


    • natsjackinfl - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:11 AM

      Good call, hence a catcher’s and 1st basemen’s mitt and an outfielder or infielderin infielder’s glove.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:36 AM

      A quote from Tim McCarver that he caught a bunch of ridicule for (unfairly?) : “Watch Darren Daulton use his mitt as a glove.”

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:09 AM

    “nats128 – Jun 11, 2015 at 7:59 AM
    Last in OPS in those 2 spots. Espi can certainly help in 1 spot, not both. If Tyler Moore or Clint Robinson had stepped up, there could be a internal candidate. Has to come from a trade”

    I’ve been making the point on the LF and 1B offensive issues for a month. In fairness you have to give sample sizes a while to become large enough to analyze.

    Until Rendon returned, Danny had a spot at either 3B or 2B which is what happened and with Esco playing so well it potentially makes Espi the odd man out as there’s zero indication that Desi will sit for anything more than rest days and the same for 1st base as there’s zero indication that Ryan will sit for anything more than resting his foot which leaves LF.

    When I made my prediction that Espi would play LF it was based on considering all those possibilities. We shall see.

    • nats128 - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:19 AM

      There had to be some indication after the game yesterday that Espi was going to LF as all the Nats beat reporters were making Tweets about Espi could be playing LF in Milwaukee.

      I guess that then begs the question why the assumption in the writers group was just that Espi was going to return to the bench when Rendon returned.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:34 AM

        From what I read, that was the assumption of almost everyone here also except some that still think Espi will take over for Desi and send him to the bench.

        I think Rizzo wants to see if Espi can be the full Zobrist as we know that Ryan Zimmerman could use a lefty 1st baseman to platoon with.

        .715 vs .576 tells me that Ryan can hit LHPs but is struggling against RHPs. Time to find a lefty 1st baseman. Bour and Ike Davis would be the 2 that I would target depending on who costs less.

        A shame since Ike Davis was available for nothing in the off-season when the A’s got him from the Pirates. Yes, Ike is still on the DL.

      • nats128 - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:47 AM

        I just did a sort of all 1st baseman. Not good. I know Ryan always says during his slumps that he will return to career numbers but this time it’s wishful thinking as he would have to play the next 1/3 of the season at .950 OPS

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:07 AM

        All true.

    • Doc - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:32 AM

      If Zim continues his decline, then 1B is maybe where Danny lands. Still think that TyMo should get some more time there..

      In the last Cub series, the Cubs’ announcers noted that TyMo’s teammates where hoping that he would get traded last winter to a team that could play him regularly.

      LF and 1B are two big power holes in the Nats’ lineup.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:36 AM

        It’s possible as I made that point earlier also. I have been making the point all off-season that Rizzo needed a left-handed compliment to Ryan and he didn’t do it. To go in to ST with Clint Robinson was a head-scratcher. Now you have to trade for a player which will cost you a player in return unless Beane just wants to dump salary with Ike Davis. Marlins will want a decent prospect for Bour.

      • natsjackinfl - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:39 AM

        The one thing that scared me yesterday was when Tyler pulled that Austin Kearns move where he raised his arms above his head to avoid an inside pitch that caught a lot of the inside portion of the plate for a called strike.

        Man, did I ever hate that move by Kearns although his almost always was a called strike 3 and Tyler’s was only strike 2.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:39 AM

        The other note I made could be Esco playing 1st base. He’s 6’2″ and gives a bigger target than the 5’11 3/4″ Espinosa.

        If Espi could handle LF that’s 1 problem solved and then just get a platoon partner for Ryan Zimmerman.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:44 AM

        Heading into ST, they thought they had McLouth as a LH bat.

        Once he proved a bust, I’m sure Rizzo tried to do what he could before April.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:01 AM

        HH – I wouldn’t have counted on McLouth. He was awful when healthy last year but he wasn’t the issue. We needed a lefty bat for 1st base and while I know there were some that said TyMo would have to be the 1st base backup, it clearly was the case once Rizzo didn’t get a true lefty and they were in short supply except for Ike Davis. Those players are hard to find.

      • paulfortier - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:23 AM

        Totally agree with you, Doc. Unless you want Desmond on the first bag 😉

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:04 AM

        Ghost –

        I hear you about McL–esp when thinking about a 1B backup.

        I think the team had too much invested in McL just to write him off before ST even began.

    • laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:53 AM

      I would think the Nats would find a spot for Espinosa in the lineup. Desmond needs to be replaced at SS, anyway, for the obvious reasons, and the Nats need a better bat in LF than what MAT, CRob or TyMo have to offer. That would leave 1b as the problem, instead.

      If Ryan steps up, that problem goes away, too. If not, Rizzo will certainly find better than a .210 hitter to replace Zimmerman at 1b, although replacing Zim at 1b may be an even greater heresy in Natstown than replacing Desmond at SS.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:03 AM

        Big if’s my friend. Read the comment that RZim would have to play .950 OPS baseball for the next 1/3 of the season to get back on track.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:28 AM

        “Big if’s my friend. Read the comment that RZim would have to play .950 OPS baseball for the next 1/3 of the season to get back on track.”

        Granted, it really looks bad for Zim right now. But he turned it around in late June last year. Regardless, Rizzo has got to hedge his bets at 1b. It is not like Rizzo to just stand pat with such poor options going forward, should Zim continue to fail. As always, you are way ahead of most of the rest of us on exactly what options Rizzo might have on his mind. but I would be shocked if he did not have several.

        It Ryan can’t recover this year, then Mike really has to wonder if he ever will. The platoon is not a bad option, but I don’t know why the Marlins would give up a lefty power bat like Bour’s:

        .291 .344 .500 for an OPS of .844

        His splits against righties are probably even better than that. They would want a lot, I imagine, especially since our need is presently so dire, or appears to be, at the very least. Mike does not like to deal from a position of weakness.

  8. rayvil01 - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:40 AM

    The problem with playing kids is that they gak all over themselves at times. But there’s no other way to learn.
    Treinen’s stuff is so filthy that all he needs to do is throw it. Against the Cubs he got two quick grounders, left a ball up to Anthony Rizzo who dumped it into the corner, and then Treinen stopped trusting his stuff. He started guiding the ball and the trap door under his feet opened up. Yesterday he cruises through and inning, leaves a ball up to Teixeira who smacks it for a single. Then Treinen kept throwing stuff. Great development. I saw a twitter post at one point this season that said, “It’s time to pull the plug on the Treinen experiment.” Can’t do that. The upside for this kid is way too high.

    A-Rod looked like he was in a Whiffle Ball tournament.

    • nats128 - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:48 AM

      Good obersvations!

    • adcwonk - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:01 AM

      So good it needs repeating:

      The problem with playing kids is that they gak all over themselves at times. But there’s no other way to learn.

      Yes, yes, and yes. All those who want to trade the farm for improved BP — it’s too early for that. We have a lot of youngsters, and the odds are that at least some will pan out/grow up by the end of the season. (Treinen, Barrett, etc.)

      Patience is what is needed. And some hitting. And recovery from injuries!

    • Doc - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:05 AM

      Having had to listen (thanks to MLB blackout policy) to analysts from more opposing TV broadcasts than I care to enumerate, everyone of them has raved about Treinen’s stuff. That includes Ron Darling, former pitcher, and analyst for the Mets.

      Let’s give Treinen time; all these baseball guys think that he will dominate.

  9. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:41 AM

    In last night’s Barves game there was a lot of plunkings and Justin Upton wore one on his arm. Welcome back to Atlanta! Kind of tell you what the Barves thought of their old teammate to plunk him after it was Andrelton Simmons who they had a problem with after another questionable slide the day before.

    • rayvil01 - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:13 AM

      I used to think McCann was the guy calling for the bruise balls down there. But, he’s gone and they just keep coming. Freddi G must be the one pushing that “Plunk” button. Does that really help your team? I guess you could argue it helped the Reds when they went Dirty Ball and got Bryce in the middle of the back. That started our skid. But, long term? Really?

      After the purge over the winter David O’Brien dropped a few hints that things were bad in the ATL clubhouse last year. I’ve never heard who/what the issues were. We’ll just have to see who gets drilled to find out. =)

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:21 AM

        Both Upton brothers are gone. You have to wonder as their reputations with their former teams were never great. Clearly we knew about BJ but the way Arizona got rid of Justin Upton indicated that something was going on there also.

        Now you have Andrelton Simmons now twice making questionable slides that started some issues which led to plunkings.

  10. Toot D. Blan - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:42 AM

    ” Ian Desmond, despite his struggles, isn’t in danger of losing his starting job at shortstop.”

    I can understand that. What I can’t understand though is why Ian Desmond isn’t in danger of having a day off now and then to clear his head, keep him fresh for the long stretch run, etc. It’s not like he’s going to be breaking Cal Ripken’s record, and even if he does he won’t be wearing a Nats uniform for the celebration. He doesn’t need to be Wally Pipped, but what possible damage could giving him a day off now and then do?

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:13 AM

      I am among those who think there’s zero change of Ian losing his job at SS.

      But – if Ian ever were to lose it, I would expect MW and Rizzo to be telling the beat reporters Ian was in no danger of losing the job, right up to the moment they took it away.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:37 AM

        Ian has effectively already lost that job. We just have to wait until the off-season to confirm what appears to be a virtual certainty, right now.

        Rizzo has already told everyone, including the Desmond team, that he already made that decision when he refused to reopen negotiations on an extension with Ian’s agent. That is not just my observation – we were so informed by Desmond’s own agent that the Nats are not negotiating further about an extension for Desmond, and Rizzo spent much effort during the past off-season procuring alternatives to Desmond for SS. They not only have Turner, they are also continuing to play Difo at SS in AAA.

        And then Rizzo went out and got a gold glove SS, for good measure, by giving up Clippard to get him shortly before ST. SS is covered, but it won’t be covered by Desmond next year.

      • Toot D. Blan - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:42 AM

        We’re not talking about next year, we’re talking about NOW. They are clearly not going to replace Desmond at shortstop NOW (barring a trade, of course) but there is no reason he shouldn’t be getting a day off every now and then just like every other player on the roster, save for Harper.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:47 AM


        I agree he’s not coming back next year, and made these pts about Turner and 2016+ elsewhere myself. And I agree that’s a good thing for the team.

        But that’s not what Mark meant about Desmond losing his job. You knew that, right?

        I know you want to see Ian ditched sooner, but it just ain’t happening.

    • nats128 - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:24 AM

      Agree with that. Rest days are just smart. Clint Hurdle claims to have analytics that told the Pirates to rest McCutcheon this week.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:35 AM

        Let’s face it. Ian Desmond is in a slump, and it’s been even worse when he has come up with RISP. Slumps happen, and I expect that he will eventually get out of this one. But in the 9 games this month he has 5 hits in 35 AB’s, 2 RBI’s, 0 walks and 10 K’s. Where is it written that he has to play every inning of every game?

      • nats128 - Jun 11, 2015 at 1:44 PM

        How does one have a season long slump with RISP situation.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:49 AM

        Also, this might surprise some of you, but for the year his .370 SLG and .647 OPS are the worst of his ML career.

      • nats128 - Jun 11, 2015 at 1:44 PM

        Not suprized.

  11. laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2015 at 8:57 AM

    “I can understand that.”

    I can’t. If they can move Zimmerman to LF because he was not effective at 3rd base, they can move Desmond out there to eliminate his ongoing disaster movies at SS.

  12. Joe Seamhead - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:42 AM

    Any significance that Matt denDekker wasn’t in the Syracuse lineup yesterday?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:28 AM

      Wondering the same given Ryan Zimmerman’s status.

  13. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 11, 2015 at 9:55 AM

    So, assuming arguendo that Zim needs to platoon, what LH power bats might be available at any position (assuming further they could plug that someone into first, which is a dubious idea but just saying)?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:32 AM

      I suggest it should happen but doubtful they would do that to Ryan Zimmerman. I say should but won’t.

  14. JamesFan - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:09 AM

    Put him at shortstop. Let Moore play 1st for two weeks to see if we have something. If not, DFA him and move on. I can’t believe how many young Nats get opportunities and flop. Play the ones who don’t.

    Espi—and I’ve been super harsh on him–is a better defender and hitter (right now) than Desi.

    I’m ready for a shake up.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:19 AM

      I think they already know perfectly well what they have in Tyler Moore. Either Rizzo wants to keep him, or nobody is offering Rizzo’s price, because trading him makes sense otherwise.

      Baseball is predicated on failure. Lots and lots of players fail and fail and then succeed. Matty is a perfect example; it took him three years to realize he could hit a curveball.

  15. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:12 AM

    Glad Danny is doing well, of course, but I remember 2011, when he was lighting it up for a few months, and then didn’t readjust when the league adjusted to him. Until now.

  16. micksback1 - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:22 AM

    Why not make Espi the every day SS? That is his natural position, until Mr Turner is ready next season or so. Trade Desi now for a BP arm. Escobar at 3rd, Rendon at 2nd and Espi at SS. alos, why did nats draft out fielders, was it a case of they were the best players available?

    this would make sense to me

    • unkyd59 - Jun 11, 2015 at 2:42 PM

      No OF depth in the system, Mick…you know that. Witness the carnival in LF all year…. Werth old, Span gone next year. All there is is MAT….

  17. natsdial8 - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:28 AM

    Danny has been a positive surprise . He is probably able to play any position and spot pitch if needed
    Let’s keep even keel here and hope he can put together an entire seaon of good offense .

  18. TimDz - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:46 AM

    Tony Renda to NY Yankees for RHP David Carpenter…

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:56 AM

      Carpenter hasn’t been very impressive, but then again, neither has Renda. With Turner here soon, Renda was totally expendable.

      • TimDz - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:59 AM

        Carpenter was recently DFA’d, so I am guessing the Nats took a flyer on him to see if they can re-work some of the mechanics. But Renda had no future here….

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 11:01 AM

        “@Nationals The #Nats have acquired RHP David Carpenter from the #Yankees in exchange for INF Tony Renda:

        Carpenter is on his way to Milwaukee

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 11:03 AM

        McLouth moved to the 60 Day DL to make room for Carpenter

      • TimDz - Jun 11, 2015 at 11:06 AM

        I said at the beginning of the season that McLouth will either remain on the DL for the entire season or be released…either way, he won’t be on the Nats roster again…

  19. Doc - Jun 11, 2015 at 10:53 AM

    Danny has made strides–I particularly like the reduced K’s and the OBP. But he’s facing RH pitchers most times and hitting .238.

    Still room for improvement.

  20. Theophilus T.S. - Jun 11, 2015 at 11:01 AM

    Desmond hasn’t lost his job but he has lost the fans. Also, several million a year and a couple of years off his FA deal — although he won’t starve. There are analysts who think his Ks are only partly the result of his lack of discipline and are exacerbated by declining bat speed. I wonder if he’s also losing his team-mates. Probably not, because I think this is a very closely knit team, but am I alone in seeing less enthusiasm in the post-HR helmet-removing ritual? Clearly Desmond is not the near-exclusive de-hatter any more. Small matter but maybe significant.

    A lot of people have been waiting for the first shoe to drop on both Espinosa and Escobar. WaPo especially is rife with articles about how Escobar can’t possibly maintain his OBP and BAPIP, must “regress to the mean,” etc. And after each article he goes out and gets two or three hits. Can it be he’s become, as FP says, “a professional hitter?” Each base hit placed — and I mean “placed” — in RF says to me no significant regression is in sight. The upshot is that room has to be found for all of Rendon, Escobar and Espinosa in the lineup.

    • soonernat - Jun 11, 2015 at 12:05 PM

      – an excellent observation about Desmond in the dugout. I have also noticed it and have wondered about its implications. Hopefully this is another of baseball’s ebbs and flows – albeit longer that we would like – and Ian returns to his career norms….for our sake this season and his long term estate planning!

    • natsfan1a - Jun 11, 2015 at 12:12 PM

      Some of them, sure, but not all of them. imho.

      “Desmond hasn’t lost his job but he has lost the fans.”

    • therealjohnc - Jun 11, 2015 at 1:19 PM

      Trying to psychoanalyze based on observations from the stands/TV is an incredibly uncertain business, and so I leave it to others.

      Escobar is way overperfoming – his BABIP is .370 vs. a career BABIP of .304; his BABIPs the past seven seasons are .282, .281, .273, .316, .282, .317, .311. While his batted ball profile has improved slightly (his GB% and LD% are a bit up, which are good) it’s not across the board (his infield fly ball% has nearly doubled over his career rate, which is bad). So there’s no revolution in output, just in results. Can it continue? Sure – hey, baseball. And his BABIP is likely to be much better than his career average this year, because he’s already banked 1/3 of a season of this. But the smart money is to not assume that he continues at this level for the next four months – much less the remaining two seasons of team control after that.

  21. Theophilus T.S. - Jun 11, 2015 at 11:04 AM

    Renda may have some kind of future in NY. Yankees certainly have problems at 2B with Drew (who leads Desmond in HR, 9-5). If they can play Brendan Ryan at SS Renda may well earn a paid visit to the Bronx.

  22. TimDz - Jun 11, 2015 at 11:04 AM

    If Desi continues his slide, do the Nationals even make the qualifying offer to him at the end of the year for fear he may accept it and try to rebuild his value?

  23. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 11:30 AM

    The Yankees put Andrew Miller on the DL and instead of pulling David Carpenter back and putting him in their pen they went to their Minors and traded David Carpenter.

    Nats gave up a good prospect for Carpenter. Just sayin.

    • therealjohnc - Jun 11, 2015 at 12:04 PM

      Although Tony Renda has OK speed and a decent batting eye, he is limited defensively to 2b. If you’re going to be 2b-only, it would be nice to have some pop. It’s also an open question how well the OBP translates to the big league level when you don’t have the power to make pitchers fear coming into the zone. I see him as a second coming of Steve Lombardozzi Jr., and I was never a big fan of Lombo. Although at least Renda will take a walk.

      It reminds me of when the Nats traded Chris Manno and Bill Rhinehart for a couple of months of Jonny Gomes. The minor league mavens had kittens about it (Manno had a fan club who called themselves “Manno’s Minions”), but neither Manno nor Rhinehart amounted to anything. I see this trade in a similar light. IRWT

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2015 at 3:18 PM

        Some believe Renda had a Jamey Carroll ceiling while others saw him as not even approaching the ability of Lombo.

        Certainly he’s not ready for primetime but there are those that think the Nats future CF (Billy Burns) was given away for a bag of balls (Jerry Blevins).

        What Renda turns into will be known at some point and also David Carpenter.

        I think Renda should have been saved for a deal with the A’s to pry back Clippard and get Ike Davis and possibly even Zobrist and what would needed to be a multi player deal.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

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