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Do the Nats need to acquire another bat?

Jul 9, 2015, 11:38 AM EDT

AP

Had they not been rained out Wednesday night, the Nationals would have fielded a lineup boasting only two projected members of their Opening Day lineup: Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond. And when they return to the field Friday night in Baltimore, the Nationals probably won’t have more than four regulars available: Harper and Desmond, plus Wilson Ramos and perhaps Yunel Escobar (who will have had three days off to rest his hamstring).

Matt Williams has said he can see “the light ahead,” with injured players getting healthier and getting closer to returning to the lineup. But there isn’t a particularly definitive timeline for any of those players, aside from perhaps Jayson Werth, who has been targeting an August 1 return all along from a broken wrist.

Ryan Zimmerman? He has been hitting and taking grounders in the field, but he hasn’t been able to run yet without a recurrence of foot pain due to his plantar fasciitis. And even when he does come off the DL, this is probably an ailment that’s going to remain a problem to some extent over the rest of the season.

Anthony Rendon? He has missed the last two weeks with a strained quadriceps muscle, and there has been no indication he’s on the verge of coming back. And this is the third separate injury he has suffered this season, leaving him sidelined for all but 18 games to date.

Denard Span? He’s in Dallas today visiting a back specialist and quite worried he has a more serious ailment than everyone has believed since he first began experiencing back spasms a month ago. Span has already made it clear he won’t be playing this weekend. And if that’s the case, a DL stint certainly appears more likely than not.

Could all of those players return in relative short order and make it through the rest of the season intact? Sure, that’s possible. But is it probable? And is it probable the rest of the roster can avoid injury over the season’s second half? That’s some real wishful thinking.

All of which may lead you to the following conclusion: The Nationals need to seriously consider acquiring another starting position player prior to the July 31 trade deadline.

Yes, they’re currently in first place in the NL East, 3 games ahead of a Mets club that would kill to only be dealing with the Nats’ current offensive woes. Yes, they’ve got an electric rotation that can carry the load the rest of the way if needed. And yes, they’ve been getting some really nice contributions from players who weren’t expected to play on a daily basis, most notably Clint Robinson, Danny Espinosa and Michael Taylor.

In the big picture, the Nationals haven’t been a sub-par offensive club this season. They rank fourth in the NL in runs scored, fourth in homers, third in walks, fifth in on-base and slugging percentages, fourth in OPS.

But not once this season has Matt Williams been able to fill out a lineup card with all eight of his projected regulars on it. And there’s no guarantee that day will come before the 2015 season is complete.

The Nationals probably could get away with the long-term loss of only one of their regulars. Say Span ends up missing significant time. Well, Taylor has shown he’s capable of filling in as the regular center fielder. Except they’ve needed him in left field with Werth out.

A Robinson-Tyler Moore platoon could probably hold its own in left field under that scenario, but those guys have been needed at first base with Zimmerman out.

Espinosa showed he could handle first base for a brief stint last month, but he’s needed at second base with Rendon out.

See the problem here? The Nationals have a bunch of versatile players capable of filling a variety of roles. But there are too many holes right now to be filled, and some position always ends up uncovered.

So maybe it’s time for Mike Rizzo to start getting serious about acquiring another everyday-caliber player. It could be an outfielder. It could be a corner infielder. It could be a middle infielder. Better yet, it could be somebody who can do any of those things (hello, Ben Zobrist!).

Yes, the Nationals might end up with their entire lineup healthy before it’s all said and done, with no need for a reinforcement. But given what you’ve seen so far this year, how confident are you that’s going to happen?

  1. GeneralCornRowWallace - Jul 9, 2015 at 11:50 AM

    Lads on says Span done for year with the back.

    Trade Giolito for Shin Choo Chooo?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 9, 2015 at 11:56 AM

      where are you reading Ladson said that ? This was posted 2 hours ago by Ladson.

      http://m.nationals.mlb.com/news/article/135582250/nationals-denard-span-to-see-back-specialist?tcid=tw_share

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:01 PM

        just as I suspected, Bill Ladson never said Span was out for the year.

        “Jul 09
        William Ladson

        NatsHR2Win: @washingnats you’re being quoted by someone as saying Span is out for the season. Have you said that?
        ——————–
        Jul 09
        William Ladson
        @washingnats

        @NatsHR2Win No, I haven’t.”

      • Doc - Jul 9, 2015 at 2:18 PM

        The NI guy that misquoted Ladson should by suspended for a year–and his mouse taken into NI custody!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 9, 2015 at 2:22 PM

        I don’t get why someone would just make up stuff. Ladson takes enough cr@p for stuff he really does say and he doesn’t deserve people flatly fabricating and misquoting him.

      • nats128 - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:14 PM

        As Dana Carvey used to say in his best Church Lady voice “Isn’t that special”.

        It stinks to have someone come on here and spread untruths. Glad you got that straightened out and straight from Bill Ladson himself.

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 10, 2015 at 6:44 AM

        Good work, Ghost.

    • Doc - Jul 9, 2015 at 12:17 PM

      That would be an all-time doofus trade. Rizzo is not that stupid!

      • hokiepokster92 - Jul 9, 2015 at 2:32 PM

        +1

    • pburm9qp - Jul 9, 2015 at 12:29 PM

      I assume the Giolito for Choo trade idea was a joke.

      • nats128 - Jul 9, 2015 at 12:49 PM

        Dont assume anything here. Have you ever read the MASN Commenter on Twitter. The trades people propose would blow your mind.

        Someone once suggested a trade of Billy Burns for Jerry Blevins and you would think that was a joke.

  2. kingwshngtn22015 - Jul 9, 2015 at 12:00 PM

    They are not trading giolito under any circumstances. Not a chance.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:31 PM

      Under any circumstances? Heck with that – I’d happily trade Giolito for Mike Trout!

      “Not a chance,” however, is much closer to correct 🙂

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 9, 2015 at 12:03 PM

    “A Robinson-Tyler Moore platoon could probably hold its own in left field under that scenario, but those guys have been needed at first base with Zimmerman out.”

    I don’t know about you Mark, but in my vision comprehension, Clint Robinson could be worse in LF than Adam Dunn and that’s saying something plus he doesn’t carry a 900+OPS like Dunn.

    I’d rather have den Dekker and his speed and defense over CRob out there.

    • nats128 - Jul 9, 2015 at 12:08 PM

      http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=lf&stats=fld&lg=all&qual=100&type=1&season=2015&month=0&season1=2015&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=24,d&page=2_50

      Would it suprize you that Clint Robinson ranks above Jayson Werth in LF defense this year? Also ranks above Hanley Ramirez and Eury Perez.

      Certainly small sample sizes in LF.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 9, 2015 at 12:45 PM

        Jayson is a Negative WAR on offense and defense. It has not been a good year for JDub.

      • hokiepokster92 - Jul 9, 2015 at 2:34 PM

        To be fair to Jayson, any measure of his performance this year is based on an extremely small sample size.

      • davebinmd - Jul 9, 2015 at 4:54 PM

        I knew ‘CRob’ was much better in LF than Ghost would have us believe. Thanks for the proof, and saving me the time and trouble of pulling that up myself.

      • nats128 - Jul 10, 2015 at 9:26 AM

        My point is he was better than Werth. Still not great. His numbers in LF have fallen and could be becuz UZR is cumulative.

  4. nats788 - Jul 9, 2015 at 12:16 PM

    Can we really rely on Zimmerman if/when he returns?

    http://navyyardnotes.blogspot.com/2015/07/ryan-zimmerman-albert-pujols.html

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 9, 2015 at 4:04 PM

      This is a shell of the man we knew as the Z-man.

      I saw a player whose mind was saying swing and his bat couldn’t make solid contact and not sure that has anything to do with plantar fascitis but maybe it does.

      RZim is at his highest groundball rate of his career at 52.8% and one of his lowest hard contact %’s of his career at 29.5%.

  5. coolhandbane - Jul 9, 2015 at 12:18 PM

    I am not a baseball expert but from my observations as a nats fan with the injuries we have been having, we need a player like Ben Zobrist who can play multiple positions. If we are talking about getting Zobrist, we should try & get clip in that trade. We could trade a Moore or Robinson along with a MLB ready pitcher, plus a good prospect. I can see the nats and A’s being trade partners again

    • virginiascopist - Jul 9, 2015 at 12:27 PM

      Zobrist’s name is being mentioned in connection with every single team anticipated to be buyers at the deadline (including Kansas City who has,it appears, lost Alex Gordon). Assuming Billy Beane is going to be a seller, which is not a given yet, there is going to be some pretty stiff bidding for him.

      The unknown element in all this, of course, is a timetable for all of our injured players. On the assumption that management knows more than they’re telling us and it’s not optimistic, I am sure Rizzo has potential deals on the board; I’m just not sure a trade for Zobrist is realistic.

    • tcostant - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:20 PM

      I saw in the NY Post last week, that the Mets have told the A’s they will “overpay” for Zobrist.

      • virginiascopist - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:49 PM

        I think the Mets’ definition of “overpay” is something like, “we’ll give you both Colon and Niese.”

        Seriously, it appears to me the Mets are playing a waiting game to see if David Wright will make it back this year. If they knew for sure he wouldn’t be, they would be more motivated to make a deal.

      • dcwx61 - Jul 9, 2015 at 7:19 PM

        how about for denDecker

  6. Doc - Jul 9, 2015 at 12:21 PM

    If Ramos and Desmond would step it up, we could make it through. But both are under performing and both need to start shouldering the load!

    Rizzo might find something out there, but I doubt it.

  7. mauimo22 - Jul 9, 2015 at 12:25 PM

    Yes, we need another strong bat. I like Zobrist.
    Espi at 3B and Zobi at 2B, then Desi’s on the bench when injured players come back with Espi flashing leather at SS.
    Ian is a major liability now, no different than Espi last year. Espi has made us all proud this year!

    • davebinmd - Jul 9, 2015 at 5:22 PM

      You left-out Escobar, he’s a more likely candidate to play SS in place of Desi since he has been a full-time SS in the Majors for several years and he never had a chance in spring training to get comfortable at 2B. Espi has no trouble at 2B obviously. If they acquire someone to start in the infield (and don’t bench or trade Desi), Espi is going to be the odd man out again. Why? It’s simple, while he has made progress this year batting left-handed, it’s still his weaker side, and that’s where the vast majority of his ABs come from (217 vs. 63). From the right side he’s a .304 hitter, but from the left he’s hitting .243 this season. Espi has pulled that lefty average up from just .229 within the last 10 days, although his righty-hand average has dropped sharply in the same timeframe. Meanwhile, Escobar is batting .315 full-time. You don’t bench a .315 hitter for a .243 hitter (whenever they face a right-handed starter).

      • jd - Jul 9, 2015 at 5:57 PM

        davebinmd,

        Your entire analysis is based on batting average completely leaving off slugging. In fact in 70 less at bats Espi has has 8 more extra base hits than Escobar. Would it surprise you to hear that Espi has has a better offensive 1st half than Escobar? (it’s really close but it’s still in Espi’s favor) and when you take defense into account, forget about it. It’s not even close. Esco is a + 1.2 WAR and Espi is at +2.2.

  8. 4thgendc - Jul 9, 2015 at 12:32 PM

    I haven’t compared the numbers between this years’ bench and last years’, but I’d venture to say that an analysis would show that this year’s bench is far out performing last years in the field and at the plate. Probably the last several years worth of benches. Gotta be thankful and glad for the guys that are stepping in and stepping up. A silver lining in a cloud of injured Nats.

  9. exposedindc - Jul 9, 2015 at 12:32 PM

    Zobrist is the answer, I can live with MAT in center and a platoon of Moore/Robinson at 1st

  10. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:12 PM

    So many factors at work here and if you did trade for a big bat I think you are ostensibly sending Werth to the bench or RZim. Not sure either can help this team and both are Negative WAR players.

    Span and Rendon both will return and return to form and maybe it takes a little longer than July 17th. If you believe in that, the Nats will be fine this season with adding nobody and doing the platoon at 1st and working MAT in LF.

    I’m more worried about the bullpen and the 8th inning and Storen facing lefties and the competency of Janssen, Carpenter and Aaron Barrett and do we get the great Treinen or the lousy Treinen as he’s a Jekyll & Hyde.

  11. tcostant - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:16 PM

    Our bench is so limited right now, we might have two catchers playing (Ramos at DH) on Friday…

    • nats128 - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:18 PM

      I think that will happen if Gio pitches.

    • tcostant - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:23 PM

      Have to believe with happen at least once, why put Ramos bat on the bench for the Dan Uggla’s of the world, when he doesn’t catch one of the Sat/Sun games. But it might happen more than once…

  12. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:16 PM

    So, as VirginiaScopist pointed out above, there’s approximately 30 teams who would like to have Zobrist, and quite a few who will try to get him. Bidding War in 3 … 2 … 1 …

    Which usually means somebody is going to have to over-pay. Do you give up Joe Ross? Joe +?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:21 PM

      That’s Fools Gold. Nats don’t need a Swiss Army knife as they have the infield taken care of. There’s better LF options out there if you want to overpay but I’d rather put my money into the bullpen.

      • masterfishkeeper - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:25 PM

        Right. I’d be shocked if the Nats paid enough to get Zobrist. Just need to find another plausible LF bat, which is not as difficult.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:27 PM

        I’d be calling Arizona for AJ Pollock. He is worth overpaying as he’s team controlled for 3 more years and becomes the starting CF next year. Unfortunately he’s RH but he’s solid and under the radar and the Nats can give up 2 prospects not names Giolito, Turner, Ross or Lopez.

      • Tyler Babip - Jul 9, 2015 at 2:06 PM

        +1 to this. We already have the good Danny Espinosa going.

  13. scnatsfan - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:29 PM

    Lets get Zobrist, a bullpen arm and a left fielder. Oh wait, we have to give up our top prospects? Nevermind.

    Everything comes with a price – price like Difo or Lopez. You guys got mad when we got rid of Burns?

    • Doc - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:38 PM

      Yeah, because we ended up with den Decker.

      • pchuck69 - Jul 9, 2015 at 2:56 PM

        And lost Blevins in the mix.

    • nats128 - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:38 PM

      Your correct. Zobrist will cost alot.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 9, 2015 at 3:20 PM

      As I remember it there was only one person upset when we got rid of Burns.

  14. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:37 PM

    I also go back to if you can’t get Aroldis Chapman then I look to Joe Cool Ross as my David Price circa 2008.

    In the regular season in 2008 David Price got the call-up and started 1 game and then was moved to the bullpen and got a Save.

    Ross has the velo and fastball/slider combo to do it. He could definitely be the 8th inning man.

    • Doc - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:42 PM

      Yeah Ghost, and his FB would go from 94-95 to 97-98 outta da pen. Joe Cool has a few other pitches that would come in handy too! We want Joe Cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Ross is also the room mate of Turner—bring ’em up together and save on moving expenses!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:44 PM

        EXACTLY!!!

      • Joe Seamhead - Jul 9, 2015 at 3:21 PM

        I wonder if Turner has an outfielder’s glove [sic].

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 9, 2015 at 6:38 PM

        What’s the (sic) for?

    • tcostant - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:45 PM

      Ross has an innings limit and won’t pitch at all in September. If Rizzo was really considering that, he would have to move him to the pen right now. I don’t think that will happen, as he rather have Ross as a injury fill in and get the rest of the year as a starter, with a valid shot of winning a spot as a ML starter in 2016, after the FA’s leave.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:47 PM

        He may have innings left for the bullpen. Think outside the box. The Tampa Rays did with David Price.

      • Doc - Jul 9, 2015 at 2:14 PM

        Exactamundo! Ross’s innings limit woudn’t apply the pen!

  15. manassasnatsfan - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:47 PM

    Marlon Bird would cost a lot less than Zobrist.

    AJ Pollock would cost more than Zobrist.

    Justin Upton might be affordable. I realize many people probably would not like him.

    • nats128 - Jul 9, 2015 at 1:56 PM

      Ghosts point is you get AJ Pollock for this year and 3 years after so you pay for that.

      Justin Upton is a short term rental and will probaly cost more than Zobrist!

      • manassasnatsfan - Jul 9, 2015 at 2:00 PM

        I don’t want a long term Pollock at what the DBacks would want.

    • NatsLady - Jul 9, 2015 at 5:28 PM

      What about Carlos Gomez of Milwaukee? He has a year left, so he’s not a 2015 rental.

  16. zmunchkin - Jul 9, 2015 at 2:03 PM

    tongue firmly planted in cheek

    I wonder what the Fish want for Mikey Mo?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 9, 2015 at 2:28 PM

      They want nothing as he’s a salary dump. He did hit a HR last night.

      • zmunchkin - Jul 9, 2015 at 2:30 PM

        Exactly

    • virginiascopist - Jul 9, 2015 at 3:07 PM

      Talk about someone who can make Clint Robinson and Tyler Moore look like all-stars in left field.

      • scnatsfan - Jul 9, 2015 at 3:26 PM

        The legend of Morse would be better then the present tense Morse

  17. philipd763 - Jul 9, 2015 at 2:31 PM

    Danny Espinosa has better stats than Zobrist, plays just as many positions, is a better fielder, probably has more power and is 6 years younger. You don’t shore up a team’s offense by bringing in a .250 hitter. Let the Mets give away a couple of their top prospects for Zobrist.

  18. unterp - Jul 9, 2015 at 2:36 PM

    Do the Nats need to acquire another bat?

    Yes…

  19. jd - Jul 9, 2015 at 2:59 PM

    Pollack is 27 years old and has 3 more years of team control left. Why would Arizona not hang up the phone on Rizzo immediately when he makes that suggestion and doesn’t mention Giolito and/or Turner? Sorry guys that’s just not a reasonable suggestion. I think Adam Lind makes a lot more sense for several reasons:

    1) He makes a reasonable $7.5 mil in 2015.
    2) He has a team option for 2016 at $8mil so you can keep him or not at the end of the year.
    3) He is a very good left handed bat (15 HR’s and 50 RBI’s in the 1st half).
    4) You can probably get him for a couple of secondary prospects (Cole and Goodwin).
    5) There is a chance that Zim won’t be back at full strength this year and may be only able to be a platoon option.

  20. Jeff - Jul 9, 2015 at 3:41 PM

    Billy Beane keeping his cards close
    To the vest .
    Let’s see how Werth and Zimm rebound .

  21. Jeff - Jul 9, 2015 at 3:43 PM

    As NatsGM pined this past week :
    Ryan Raburn. Rizzo has dealt with
    The ex- po exec before !

  22. Guapo - Jul 10, 2015 at 9:08 AM

    If I’m Rizzo I hand tight. He’s put together a good team this year, and had built depth behind them. Still leading the division despite a stunning rash of injuries. Making a move now would be out of desperation and undo all the good work that’s been done to build an org that can contend for years to come.

    Even if only half of the DL group gets back to full health this season, the Nats can still make a deep run. No need for knee jerk personnel changes now.

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