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Where do Nats turn to solve what ails them?

Aug 14, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

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This space could be devoted to a breakdown of Thursday night’s 3-1 loss in San Francisco, with mentions of Stephen Strasburg’s rocky first inning but impressive rebound after that, Yunel Escobar’s game-opening homer followed by a complete lack of offense by the Nationals after that and yet another case of this bullpen’s inability to keep the score of the game intact (whether ahead, tied or behind).

Alas, a comprehensive look at merely the latest in a string of frustrating losses by the Nats doesn’t really seem like a productive use of time and space right now. This team’s problem isn’t what’s happening on any given night. It’s what has happened in the big picture over the last two weeks.

On July 31, the Nationals arrived at Citi Field holding a 3-game lead over a Mets club that appeared to be in disarray. They had just acquired Jonathan Papelbon in a trade that surprised most — and upset some — but ultimately seemed like a move that would help address the team’s biggest area of need. They also had just activated Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth off the disabled list, giving the lineup a sorely needed boost.

So, what has happened since then? Pretty much everything negative you can imagine happening.

The Nationals’ lineup hasn’t been boosted at all by the return of those key players, Zimmerman’s solid production notwithstanding. Papelbon has been a non-factor, appearing in all of four games, only two of them save situations. The bullpen as a whole has been scored upon in 11-of-14 games, posting a collective 5.50 ERA.

The Mets, on the hand, have completely reversed course. Buoyed by the acquisitions of Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, they’ve taken the sport’s 30th-ranked offense (which was averaging 3.6 runs per game) and turned it into one of the game’s most-productive groups (averaging 5.3 runs per game since July 31). And their already-fantastic pitching staff has become even better, going from a 3.29 staff ERA through July 30 to a 2.29 staff ERA since.

And so you end up with the following facts about these two division rivals: Since July 31, the Mets are 11-2, while the Nationals are 4-10. And thus what had been a 3-game lead for the Nats only two weeks ago now has morphed into a 4 1/2-game deficit faster than you can say Noah Syndergaard.

Which leads to the real pertinent question of the moment: How on earth do the Nationals flip the script again and put themselves back in position to take the NL East title before it completely slips out of their hands?

Manager Matt Williams alluded after Thursday night’s game in San Francisco to some potential changes for Friday night’s contest against the Giants. He most likely means some lineup juggling and perhaps the insertion of one or two bench guys. The odds of some truly dramatic shakeup seem unlikely at this point.

Williams only has so many reasonable alternatives at his disposal. Want to bench Werth, now 8-for-56 since coming off the DL and owner of a .185 batting average, .256 on-base percentage and .530 OPS for the season? OK, your backup left fielders are Clint Robinson and Tyler Moore.

Fine, prefer simply to move Werth down in the lineup where he can’t kill as many rallies? Well, who are you going to move up to the No. 5 spot? Your choices are Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos and Michael Taylor.

This is where the continued absence of Denard Span really devastates the Nationals. If Span is healthy, Taylor falls into the fourth outfielder role, available to take over for anybody else who is struggling. Instead, Taylor is forced to play every day as the only true center fielder on the roster.

It’s been said before, but it needs to be said again: The Nationals are 35-24 this season when Span plays, a .593 winning percentage, or the equivalent of a 96-66 club. When Span doesn’t play, they’re now 23-32, a .418 winning percentage that equates to a 68-94 team. Kind of a significant difference there, huh?

But it can’t be that simple, can it? Is a healthy Denard Span really the difference between a 96-win team and a 68-win team?

No, not really. But there’s still no denying Span’s importance to this lineup. Think about it this way: If he’s playing, somebody is hitting fifth besides Werth. Maybe Zimmerman. Maybe Escobar. Maybe Rendon. Whatever the case, the lineup is lengthened considerably just with the addition of its regular leadoff hitter.

The Nationals, though, can’t just sit around and wait for Span to return from his back injury. If he even does return.

No, this team has no choice but to try to win with what it has. There’s no magic trade to be made, not in mid-August. There’s no magic minor-league call-up that’s going to take this team on his shoulders. (Sorry, even if Trea Turner is promoted from Class AAA Syracuse, he doesn’t solve the real problem right now.)

This is the team Mike Rizzo built, the team Matt Williams has to manage. They could have chosen to do something more dramatic before July 31, but they chose to bank on their returning regulars carrying the load at the plate.

That hasn’t happened. But it’s going to have to happen if this team wants to right itself and fulfill its immense potential.

For better or worse, this is who the Nationals are. The question is which team they’ll ultimately resemble: The one that led the division by 3 games on July 31, or the the one that has given it all back and more over the last two weeks?

132 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. scmargenau - Aug 14, 2015 at 6:48 AM


    Best option to shake things up? Shu in williams to bench.

    • scmargenau - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:33 AM

      I meant Knorr

      • hokiepokster92 - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:06 AM

        Can Knorr hit for these guys? Otherwise, I don’t see how that changes anything. They need a spark on the field. In hindsight, Rizzo needed to acquire another bat.

    • mbelshaysr - Aug 16, 2015 at 2:42 AM

      To best sum it up Nats fans are used to winning we haven’t had a season this bad in quite some time. Is there hope? always. To believe this team is exempt from bad spots is insane is there time to have the players who haven’t had a preseason or even more than a handful of regular season games to get into the swing maybe but time is fast closing the Nats can overcome the deficit but that will soon be a hard task the question then is do we drop the three or 4 players that aren’t up to par and bring in those who were playing for them and bring them back next season. Maybe they weren’t doing badly with the backups and won’t do badly with them back in. RZim isn’t doing as bad as people make him out to be Rendon may need to sit for back up to Espinosa Werth may need to do the same Harper who is needed may need a couple days off to recover from his ailments completely. They lost tonight badly to San Fran but weren’t really out hit just out scored. You don’t hit on demand in the MLB this isn’t the minors there are actually good pitchers out there not on our club and as far as hitting is concerned we need a replacement for Span or do we in Espinosa he can play outfield also and has put him in for Werth. Strausberg did a good job in the game this post is written on a 3 – 1 loss if you can’t get a pitcher runs it won’t matter who pitched you will loose ask Nolan Ryan who lost sever games in which he had a 1 or 2 hit game. I coach middle school and had a 14 – 0 season I don’t believe having a perfect 14 game season makes me a coach that can replace one who manages a team for 162 games over a year. I have coached several soccer teams to undefeated seasons also but the truth is I never had to deal with the injuries the Nats have had to overcome and I will assure you most teams with them don’t do as well as the Nats have we have what we need the questions we need answers to now are 1 go for the post season or 2 find out who is going to replace those that will leave after this season. Sure Storen should have been given more respect as to how well he was doing. But could it also be just as fair to say our bullpen has been lacking this year and respect was given to him that he was given the 8th inning so we could get to the 9th inning. And picked up Papelbon to shore up what we know was a weak link. Players understand this more than fans do when it blows up fans have questions maybe the answer is found in how many innings Storen pitched in the past before breaking down is exactly where we are and if we didn’t get someone to replace him everyone would be up in arms that he didn’t do that why doesn’t he have any record keeping on these situations at all. Managers have records on everyone and yes he probably has records on the ones coming back from injury in as to how long it takes them to get on track. So let’s give the Manager some respect in that he knows what he is doing. Do you think some of these players came back too soon to try to get them used to the pitching at this level before it got too late to bring them back at all? That could be possible as well. Glad I’m not paid to make those decisions and even more glad I didn’t have all of you as fans when I coached. But I know your type it seems a lot of you came up from Tampa but they had reasons to wear paper bags 0 – 26 their first 2 seasons before winning their first game then Doug came gave them 4 out of 5 seasons getting into the playoffs to be cut. then the 12 years double digit losses. 26 years before their first superbowl At least they are perfect there 1 for 1 haven’t been back and repeating their old ways even with the new owner.
      Can you be strong and stand by your team as they did or will you give up all hope and let this team move as well?

  2. lphboston - Aug 14, 2015 at 6:53 AM

    No heart
    No fire
    No desire

    • Brian - Aug 14, 2015 at 6:58 AM

      Keep running out the same team and expect different results. insane. Trea turner is tearing up every level of the minors. He might not be the savior but at least he brings some enthusiasm and speed to a lineup that can’t score other than an occasionally bomb and strikes out like it’s going out of style. Love rizzo but they are standing pat while the season is flushing down the toilet. Do something.

    • Another_Sam - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:00 AM

      No hitting.

      • faridrushdi - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:30 AM

        No hitting, yes. Zimmerman is finally healthy and on-track, but he’s carrying too much early-season baggage to ever turn 2015 into a positive one. Anthony Rendon reverted back to the oft-injured player he was in college and his first year of minors. I thought after last year we could put that to rest, but now I’m not sure. Ian Desmond ended up being the one walk-year guy who couldn’t translate his season into a hundred-million dollar contract. Escobar is the only guy who hit above his career average, but you don’t want a 3rd baseman with a .777 OPS (and career .732). Werth–even at 100% health is settling into that player we feared he’d be at the end of his contract. Taylor struck out at a ridiculous rate in the minors and it continues in the majors. That’s not a number that generally gets better at this level. He should be a 4th outfielder at this point. Harper is great. And Wilson Ramos has backslid. Even I know to pitch him low and away. He’ll either strikeout or roll-over his wrists and ground out to second.

        And of course, the starting staff decided to implode the same year the hitters did. Fister, Roark and Strasburg average an 4.52 ERA. Scherzer is Scherzer and Gio better than hoped. Zimmermann’s numbers are down but he’s gone next year anyway.

        And the bullpen is even worse. And I see the chances of Drew Storen being here next season at 50%. He can easily say, “I took one for the team when you signed Soriano but I wasn’t ready to do it again. Find me a new home.”

        What to do for 2016? I don’t know. the team has fragile players at first, second and left. Desmond will be gone as will Span. Turner is ready for the bigs come next year, but they’ll probably put Espinosa there, which will not make the team better.

        I think Rizzo needs to rebuild the bullpen to K.C. Royals standards, get two power bats (left, center, 3rd, wherever) and put Turner at short to give the team a shot in the arm.

        The thing that makes me crazy is it looks like these players walk through the losses and say, “no time to panic.” I want to see a fight, threats, inside pitches, anything to get the juices flowing.

    • Tim Harrison - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:51 AM


      No sense of urgency. Stated aggressiveness, but in acuality, none shown.

      Painful to watch.

    • Guapo - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:37 AM

      Absolutely right. This team doesn’t have the drive to win.

      It’s not hitting or the offense in general. They’ve scored 36 more runs than the Mets on the season. It’s the hitting it he clutch. It’s not moving/scoring the leadoff double. It’s letting a bum like Vogelsong off the hook in the first inning last night with the bases loaded. This team lacks the killer instinct.

      If fingers are to be pointed it’s at the pitching staff. Their ERA is almost a half run higher than that Mets, and that wasn’t supposed to happen, not with this type of talent.

      All the talent is there. The team is under performing. They need new leadership. MW isn’t getting the best out of his players. Make the change now.

  3. laddieblahblah - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:02 AM

    “For better or worse, this is who the Nationals are. The question is which team they’ll ultimately resemble: The one that led the division by 3 games on July 31, or the the one that has given it all back and more over the last two weeks?”

    In baseball, you are what your record says you are. The guys they were counting on haven’t turned the offense around. That is clearly what their record says.

    Next year looks to be a transition year. Span and Desmond will be gone from the starting lineup. You can pencil in Trea Turner at SS, but CF will be a question mark going into the off-season. JZ and Fister will walk, taking 40% of the former starting rotation. And Rizzo will have to do something about the gigantic hole in LF.

    We have always wondered how good Ramos really was, and couldn’t wait for him to be healthy for an entire year, to find out. Now we know. I would not be surprised if Rizzo upgraded the offense by getting a catcher who can hit, consistently, in the off-season.

    Mike will make some big moves, either in the free agent market or via trade(s). In addition to Turner, the Nats could see the arrival of Wil Difo to the big club as soon as Wil proves he has mastered AAA pitching the way he has now mastered AA pitching, which he has been destroying for the past month or so to the tune of a +.400 BA. Both Turner and Difo have proven to be superlative base stealers, as well. Their arrival will mark the beginning of the transition of the Nats identity from free-swinging, all-or-nothing bats, to small ball opportunists specializing in situational run manufacturing.

    Andrew Stevenson is cut from that same cloth, and is advancing faster up the MiL pecking order than I had anticipated. I expect him to repair to Viera in September so the Nats can rework his swing mechanics, which they announced they would do on the very day they drafted him. Already doing very well at Harrisburg, I would expect him to start next season in Potomac. Stevenson may not be as far away as I originally thought he was. If he continues to progress next year as well as he has this year, I expect the Nats to fast-track him.

    The Nats took some flyers on some other HS OF kids this past draft, most notably Blake Perkins, but Perkins has already been surpassed by some other 18-year-old youngsters, who have already been promoted to Auburn ahead of him. Give credit to the scouts for spotting those kids and seeing their potential.

    The Nats are really deep in young, quality arms, as you would expect from a Mike Rizzo farm system, which has already given the big club a sure-fire starter in Joe Ross for next year. Either Rizzo moves Roark back into the starting rotation or goes after someone else to solidify Max-SS-Gio-Ross. The Nats have many MiL options for replacing flawed relievers next season. Treinen’s new 4-seamer has finally turned his stuff into swing-and-miss, knee-buckling dominance. Give credit to the pitching coaches for that dramatic transformation.

    I would not be surprised to see Rizzo trade Escobar and Storen in the off-season, or early next year, if he can improve the offense with a LH power bat. Maybe Danny starts the season at 2nd, but don’t be surprised if Difo has that job by the end of next season.

    Replacements for Werth in LF, Desmond at SS, Escobar at 3rd, Rendon (who moves back to 3rd) at 2nd, Ramos at catcher, and, perhaps, a stop-gap CFer until Stevenson is ready, could all be in the cards, as early as next year. MAT belongs at AAA, where he can work on his weaknesses without the pressure of a pennant race. He could easily be the solution in LF, if/when he eliminates the remaining flaws in his hitting game.

    I don’t usually speculate on what Rizzo will do, but blowing this team up and remaking the Nats seems too obvious not to see coming ever since Mike traded for Turner to replace Desmond and brought in Max to cover JZ’s impending departure.

    The makeover has already begun. You will not recognize this team in 2 years. They will be a better team then, and could have both Giolito and Stevenson arriving to make them even better.

    Don’t fret, Nats fanatics. Rizzo knows what he is doing. Just look, and you can see that he has been hard at work doing what he does best.

    • scmargenau - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:31 AM

      Fantastic post! Just great.

      • laddieblahblah - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:39 AM

        I have always been impressed with just how perceptive you really are!

    • natsfansince62 - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:51 AM

      Excellent post Laddie. But now what do you do with the coaching staff?

      • laddieblahblah - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:30 AM

        “But now what do you do with the coaching staff?”

        The “coaching staff” covers a lot of ground, including the coaches who taught Treinen the 4-seam FB, the coaches who convinced Desmond to alter both his swing mechanics and his approach at the plate, the coaches who nurtured SS back from almost total ineffectiveness to restored domination on the mound, et. al.

        The coaches do not play the game, the players do. The field manager, whoever he is, is going to catch flak his entire career. Casey Stengel won 5 straight pennants and WS titles for the Yankees (1949-1953) but he still caught plenty of flak from the NY press.

        They can’t win, even when they do. Being the field manger is almost as bad as being an umpire, who is never, ever cheered for making the right call. The only time they receive any attention, at all, is when the fans boo them for making what the fans think is a bad call. Not that much different for a field manager. Part of that job is being the designated scapegoat. Of course they make mistakes. Every human being does. Even I make mistakes, believe it or not. So do players. Maybe you do, too.

        I think Matt has the players believing in him, just as he believes in them. When that relationship fails (see Ozzie Guillen, et. al.) then a change has to be made. No matter who you replace the old manger with, the new guy is going to make mistakes, as well.

        If, or when, I think it is time to replace MW, I won’t be shy about saying so and stating my reasons, but I am nowhere near that. I think MW will grow and evolve and learn from his mistakes and fine tune his approach as time and circumstances teach him their lessons.

        MW prefers an opportunistic, situational, contact hitting team that can run, and he does not have one. Rizzo is building a team that is more to MW’s liking. I doubt if Rizzo is going to dump the guy who is already inclined to manage the running, contact-hitting team that Rizzo is building for him.

        Imagine the speed of a team with MAT in LF, Stevenson in CF, Harp in RF, Turener at SS, Difo at 2nd. That is 5 out of the 8 starters. And you have Rendon at 3rd, who also has base-stealing speed. Assuming Ryan is still at 1b, you would still have one of the smartest base runners around, even there.

        MW is the guy to manage a team like that, IMO.

      • adcwonk - Aug 14, 2015 at 12:06 PM

        Laddie — excellent post x 2. I’m impressed with your diagnosis of MW.

        I want to add, flesh out, one point.

        A good manager adapts his strategy to the team he has, not the team he wishes he had.

        I learned that from following Davey Johnson’s career (I used to be a die-hard Mets fan, and when he left the Mets, I followed his doings his entire career). His finest adaptability, perhaps, came when he managed the Reds. He saw a team that had raw speed, but didn’t steal bases. By Davey’s third year, the Reds led the NL in stolen bases.

        Why doesn’t MW play small-ball so much? (And, btw, the NL team average is 35 sac bunts, the Nats have 38 — and the Nats are 3rd in NL in sac flies) — The answer is simply this: we have a team of big thumpers. When we have more singles hitters and speed demons, MW (if he is good) will adopt more small ball tactics.

        As Boswell said a week or two ago, and as you seemed to be implying, laddie — is that a manager always wears a “kick me” sign on his back. When to pull a starter is always questioned, and if a bad result occurs, it’s always the manager’s fault — that’s just the way baseball is and will always be.

        As I once noted here: you have your screamers (Mike Ditka types) and your non-screamers (Tony Dunjy) — there’s no one-size fits all. Davey didn’t think highly of “team meetings” (a 13-year vet making gazillions is going to change his approach because of a meeting) — but was not completely immune to having one (thinking: the fewer meetings, the more impactful those meetings are). Again: one size does not fit all.

        I think MW is an average manager, and still learning. So long as he keeps learning, I think we’re OK. The problem is mostly the players not producing at this point. No amount of MW management is going to change how good or bad Werth is, or Storen, or Paps, or RZ, or Ramos, or Ian, or . . . . . They say (not sure who “they” is, but is seems to be conventional wisdom) that a manager’s in-game decisions only effect a few games a year. More importantly is the atmosphere he creates, whether there’s trust there or not, and so forth. And, of course, the little things that happen that we rarely know about. (Bryce Harper credits MW for helping him a great deal in his hitting approach — it was just one little thing MW said to him that made it all click for him. MW said, “it’s’ not a matter of how far they go, it’s a matter of how many you hit.” Yeah, I know, sounds simple to us, but you never know which little things might click in somebody else’s head).

        Have I mentioned lately how much I love baseball? 😉

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:52 AM

      Couple of things.

      Actually think this playing time is good for MAT as I think this experience is good for him. He knows the pressures and can start trying to think/adjust and anticipate things better (man, I’m still upset with him not scoring Desi last night)

      It was high time for them to start the transition of Jayson Werth, issue is, well we know what the issues are… I still hold out hope that Span csn sign here for 1 to 2 years and help with the transition of the farm guys.

      I also hope the do not trade Escobar as he has been instrumental for the team.

      This line up is too R heavy. Need a big LH bat (I was hoping we could get Carlos G from the Rockies)

      I’m not ready to concede yet but this team is infuriating right now. The offense is terrible and something needs to happen quick. 1 run off Vogelsong is just unacceptable, to me.

      • laddieblahblah - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:07 AM

        “I’m not ready to concede yet but this team is infuriating right now. The offense is terrible and something needs to happen quick.”

        No one is ready to concede, and we can hope that they turn it around all we want. But they have to do it on the field. It is up to them. They know that. We will support them just as we always do, but that is all we can do.

        “I still hold out hope that Span csn sign here for 1 to 2 years and help with the transition of the farm guys… I also hope the do not trade Escobar as he has been instrumental for the team.”

        I’m just speculating Mrsb. I am sure others have differing opinions from mine. I respect yours as much as anyone else’s.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:31 AM

        Speculation is the beauty of the board! 🙂

      • jd - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:18 AM


        Again, I don’t think Rizzo can bring in an expensive replacement for Werth while Werth is still owed $42 mil. I think that’s a very big problem and many pundits predicted this when we signed Werth for 7 years.

        I agree with you 100% about Taylor, consider he was destined for AAA this year. I expect him to be a star player in the not too distant future.

        I don’t see the Nats giving Span a multi year deal with his health issues. Backs don’t get better. I was all for keeping Span especially if he signs a 1 to 2 year deal but I am afraid that ship has sailed. I think eventually Trae Turner will have that role at the top of the order maybe as soon as May next year. I wouldn’t trade Escobar, not until we see what we have in Turner and Difo.

        The problem with the offense is that there are too many players with an OBP under .300. Guys like Desmond and Ramos occasionally have a big game but mostly they are out machines. Rendon just hasn’t been able to get his year kick started and that hurts.

        I am not conceding anything yet either, the pitching is starting to really come around and that’s normally a very good sign, besides as I said before I am a fan of this team and if they are 4 games out with 5 to play I am still all in. I won’t however stay up half the night any more, too old for that.

      • Guapo - Aug 14, 2015 at 1:41 PM

        The offense isn’t terrible. Nats have scored more runs than the Mets, and the majority of other NL teams.

        What this team lacks is timely offense. It’s having the killer instinct to score in critical times. They had Vogelsong on the ropes in the fist last night and let him off the hook. It’s not a lack of talent, it’s approach and attitude. This team lacks a killer instinct and that falls on Manager and senior members of the team who fail to lead, inspire others, and set a tone of urgency and accountability.

        Lack of leadership is the single biggest reason this team is struggling.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:49 AM

      Good post, laddie, lots of good perceptions. Except Stevenson is not “playing very well in Harrisburg.” He has looked good in Hagerstown though.

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:06 AM

        Also, Stevenson has had over 60 plate appearances with the Suns and only 5 K’s. Impressive stat, he strikes out less than 1 out of 12 PA’s.

      • laddieblahblah - Aug 14, 2015 at 12:42 PM

        Did I write Harrisburg, again, instead of Hagerstown? Must have some kind of mental block about Hagerstown, for sure.

    • Nats Fan Zee - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:44 AM

      Very nice Laddie … Well done. I was thinking along the same lines back in April but I admit, I did not add Wilson to the mix. BTW, for many of the reasons you mentioned I felt back in the spring that the Mets would finish respectable above .500 this year and would have a real chance to contend next year while the Nats rebuilt. They started early filling their holes and say what you wish about Rizzo, Williams or pick the player of the day that folks here like to hang a loss on (or the constant complaining about balls and strikes …. Childish), you have to tip your hat to them as Their record has improved significantly, 11-2 since they made the moves.

      I never expected this level of play from the Nats even with injuries this late. I am concerned about the depth in the roster which is a problem which some thought would be fixed with the acquisition of McLouth (anybody remember him) or the handful of DFA’s brought on since on the pine and in the BP. I do think Nats leadership have a long view which keeps us in the mix while making the team better each year it’s just frustrating watching another club take proactive (albeit short term) steps to improve while we hope the medical reports are correct.

      Anyway, again, nice job in your analysis.

    • jd - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:09 AM


      I really do like your optimism and your almost blind faith in Rizzo and I agree with some of your analysis. I do however disagree on some points:

      1) I don’t think Stevenson has done anything yet to have us extrapolate him to the big club anytime soon, There have been many players who mastered ‘A’ ball but started to fade as they moved up. Hood and Marrero come to mind. I am not saying this will be the case with Stevenson but I do know that the overall scouting line on him was somewhat less than what you suggest.

      2) Solving the big hole in LF as you put it ain’t that simple. The big hole in LF is owed $42 mil in the next 2 years and as rich as the Lerners are I don’t think they will easily flush that away and allow Rizzo to bring in a new toy. I think we better hope that Werth’s struggles are a result of injuries and that he’s just behind in his year and will recover. Because if he’s done that’s a very big problem.

      3) Turner looks very promising but I don’t know if we should start considering him the lineup saviour just yet, he’s also played some uneven defense in the minors and is considered to have just an average arm.

      4) I think Taylor will be a star player both on offense and defense. Patience.

      5) I think the fact that the lineup is so right handed is squarely on Rizzo’s shoulders, let’s not pretend this happened by chance.

      6) I think Rizzo has a very mediocre record when it comes to his choices for manager. I think MW is a product of Rizzo’s relationship with DJ. He wanted to have a man who won’t argue with him and he picked an unproven rookie who IMO is clearly over matched in game situations and worse refuses to use data to help him improve his odds.

      7) In conclusion I think Rizzo is a very good trading and developmental GM but is also late to the analytical game (I don’t think he trusts it completely), has a stubborn streak and is not good at making adjustments to his plans.

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:27 AM

        I think Rizzo has a very mediocre record when it comes to his choices for manager. .

        Really? I would say that Davey Johnson was the best move that he could have made in mid 2011 when Riggleman walked out the door. And whether you agree with it or not, Davey and Matt Williams have both been recipients of the Manager of the Year Award. I think he’s had a little better than mediocre record in that regard.

      • jd - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:40 AM


        I completely agree with you on Davie. I don’t agree that he was who Rizzo really wanted but when Riggleman went postal he was the logical inhouse candidate to take over and his longevity was brought on by his success. I don’t thing Davie and Rizzo worked well together in Davie’s final year.

        I think MW winning manager of the year doesn’t impress me that much. I don’t think the voters spend too much time reflecting on a manager’s work, it’s almost always based on the team record. I think when Rizzo gave MW the three headed monster bullpen he was able to paint by numbers but when faced with somewhat difficult decisions MW has not shown a penchant for getting it right.

        A perfect example for me of an old time manager who has adopted the use of analytics (I am talking about defensive shifts, bullpen choices etc) is Clint Hurdle and look at howm much his team has outperformed their aggregate talent level.

    • Section 222 - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:57 AM

      A few reactions to this interesting post:

      1. Treinen looked great last year too. Then he was awful this season and was sent back to Syracuse. He’s had four good appearances since he returned. What makes you so sure he’s had a “dramatic transformation?”

      2. I truly hope all the minor leaguers you mention turn out as well as you expect. But I’m certainly not ready to hand a starting OF position in 2 years to a now 21 year old who has hit one HR in 153 ABs in the minor leagues, playing no higher than A ball this year.

      3. Why would you dump Esco next year? He’s under team control for just $7 million and has been one of the leading hitters in the league all year long. I hope he’ll learn to play 2B over the off season so Rendon can move back to 3B. But you want to replace him with Difo? Really?

      4. You and many others here have way too much confidence that Turner will be our starting SS next Opening Day. I doubt it.

      5. If Rizzo knows what he’s doing, why is a team that features Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer struggling to make the playoffs? The Nats have Scherzer for the duration. But if they want to keep Harper, they can’t start a new 5 year plan next year.

      • jd - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:51 AM


        Like you I am very leery about anointing ‘A’ ball players as the next thing, I’ve seen too many fall by the way side once they start competing against better talent. I am more inclined to believe the scouting reports which feel that Stevenson is a marginal prospect with an upside to become an average major leaguer. I’ve never seen him play and I hope I am dead wrong here, just not ready to pencil him in or even have him in the conversation just yet.

        I am hopeful about Treinen, Some guys do figure it out at some point and he does have electric stuff. I don’t expect Storen back in 2016 and I think the departure decision will be mutual.

        I think Esco is a useful player, not quite as good as we think though. very mediocre defense and very under powered for a 3rd baseman. If he could play a fair 2nd base and produce the same offense he’s producing this year it’s a no brainer to bring him back.

        I am very confident about Turner. He has hit at every level and has moved up seamlessly. I understand that the next move up is the toughest but at the same time I don’t know how hard it will be to replace the replacement level play of Ian Desmond.

        Again, Rizzo has pulled off some exceptional trades and has done well in finding talent while drafting late. He’s not perfect, the lineup he has built is very right handed, is very OBP challenged and he has some monster contracts (potentially under performing) to live with.

    • faridrushdi - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:38 AM

      I agree but you can’t pay Scherzer $31 million/year to pitch for a .500 team. I mean, no point there.

    • edgs3rd1978 - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:25 PM

      You certainly have written enough to cover all bases within in YOUR organization, but what you’ve failed to do is consider the division. The Marlins certainly have enough young talent on their major league roster to contend for years – the kiddos just didn’t take the leap forward as many thought. I’m not even going to discuss the braves, but if you’ve been a fan of baseball long enough, you know that they are coming…and soon. Then you’ve got my team, the team that’s about to go on a 5 year run…the New York Mets.

      Of course you’ve all talked and heard about the talented arms the Mets have been grooming for years now. All 5 throw 95+ and have great secondary pitches. However, what YOU are not taking into consideration is that they are all cost controlled. They are not going anywhere anytime soon.

      However, arms alone do not make a dynasty…ask the Padres of old. The point that I want YOU to take away is the fact that our payroll ranks in the bottom third of the league. Yes that’s right, we’ve just taken over the division with a payroll of less than 100 million. What’s more is that our 2016 payroll is slated to be around 85-89 million once free agents like Colon, Clippard, Mayberry, Parnell, Uribe, Johnson, Blevins, and O’Flaherty are removed and Gee non-tendered. Their “break-even” payroll level figures to be in the 115 to 120 million $ range for 2015 based on the publically available numbers, certainly higher if they reach the playoffs. Barring for a massive collapse down the stretch, revenue will take a big spike upwards for 2016. Thus, “break-even” for the isolated Mets entity figures to be a lot higher too, at least deep into the 120s if not 130s million $ range. There´s no reason for the OD payroll in 2016 to be below 115 million $. And it could / should easily top 120 million $ again.

      So I guess my question to YOU is, what do you expect the teams in your division, the teams that have been retooling while you guys have been pu$$yfooting around for the last 3 or 4 years, to be doing when your “makeover” is complete? I can tell you what the Mets will be doing, and that is adding about 50-70 million dollars in payroll to complement those five studs that cost us less than one year of what you’re currently paying to “Werth-less”. Good luck with your rebuild.

    • natslive - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:57 PM

      Great post. I am hoping that we can keep Span but if not…..and what do you do with Werth if you replace him? As I commented in another thread I am now unfortunately in the Werth is done camp but I don’t see him willingly becoming a bench player and he is still owed a lot. I agree 100 percent ref the rotation (while I would love to see JZ return as he is one of my favorites I don’t see that happening) with those 4 and lots of options for the 5th starter I see the rotation as being strong.

  4. robertrobert104 - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:08 AM

    Well, when I listen to Matt Williams and the players, I heard that we, the fans, should not be worry, that there’s enough time to turn thing over….and I just see in my head a fable I heard when I was younger: The cricket and the ant….I think that the Nats are just overtaken by events….Too bad, time to think about the future.

  5. JayB - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:11 AM

    Fire Williams is an easy choice. We know Randy Knoor is not one to sit on his hands when people underperform.

    So our Bench is the problem yet again….or at least the Bench make up that Rizzo has had more than enough time this season, last season, the one before that and the so on to build.

    Rizzo has said nothing, done nothing, made know impact at all during this death spiral…..If Mark is correct and nothing can be done then Rizzo needs to go on record with fans and team that this is the case and take full responsibility for his team and his decisions….leaders to do that……real problem is we have no leaders on the field, in the dugout or in the clubhouse.

    Randy Knoor could change some of that today.

    • stoatva - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:11 AM

      That was a tantalizing little interview fragment with Knorr last night. When asked what the Nats needed to do his answer had to do with “communication.” Players talking to each other and to the coaches. Makes you wonder where that was coming from.

  6. edbrinkman - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:12 AM

    How often do long term contracts work out for the club? Rarely. The baseball landscape is littered with their failure. I am tired of hearing, ‘the Nats have to play _____ (fill in the blank) because they are paying him too much’. Those Nats that fall into that category or either out because of injury or they are back in the lineup waiting to ‘get it going’ again. One of the Nats most productive players this year is sitting on the bench because of this situation. What happened to the phrase, ‘this is a performance business’? It doesn’t apply to Werth and it doesn’t apply to Zimmerman. If I was MW I’d put Espinosa in left field and send JW down the minors to get more ABs. But they won’t do that. The Nats are a semi-broken team right now. They need to do something or the death spiral will continue. The Mets are NOT going to go away.

    • Drew - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:51 AM

      This will be the big problem in the next two years. The Nats must pay Werth $21 million in 2016, when he’s 37, and $21 million in 2017, when he’s 38.

      What an albatross.

      • Another_Sam - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:07 AM

        The Werth deal proclaimed to all that they were serious about assembling a club. It was and still is a great move.

      • natsdial8 - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:20 AM

        The Werth deal was a good deal. It no longer is. Bench him , send him to minors or write off the $ and play someone who gives us a chance to win .

      • Guapo - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:22 AM

        Nats would not be where they are today without the Werth deal. The next two years, it’s bad. But it was an important step in their development.

      • Dave - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:38 AM

        As so many have said, and as I have said, the Werth contract was not about his value as a player in the last years of it. It was to show the world and the league that the Nats were ready to start playing for rank in 2011. They started playing for real within the first two years of the contract, so it worked.

        Frankly, I’m more concerned about the Scherzer contract than that of Werth. I love Max, but a seven year deal for a starting pitcher will have to become problematic in year 5 or 6, right?

      • bowdenball - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:41 AM

        For the Werth deal to be an albatross it would have to prevent them from doing things they want or need to do. I don’t think that’s the case at all. The Lerners have plenty of money to spend, as they’ve shown, and they don’t have any immediate roster needs that can be filled with an expensive free agent because of the depth at the minors. They can pick up some respectable corner OF and bullpen options in free agency this offseason without spending too much and by the time they need to spend big to extend/replace Strasburg or to give Harper the $400 million it will take to keep him, Werth will be off the books.

      • Section 222 - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:38 AM

        I totally agree with bb. It’s not an answer to Werth’s lack of production both at the plate and in the field to say,” well, he’s owed $42 million over the next two years, so he has to play.” LF is a big power position in today’s game. You cannot have someone playing like Werth has been recently out there for any length of time.

        I still think the deal was worth making but we all knew, and I’m sure the Lerners did too, that it would be a money hole for the last few years. If Jayson doesn’t serious pick up the pace before the end of the year, they have to pack it in and get someone else.

      • jd - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:52 AM

        ‘If Jayson doesn’t serious pick up the pace before the end of the year, they have to pack it in and get someone else.’

        Good luck with that.

  7. nats106 - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:21 AM

    So the directions to the playoffs – when you get to the fork in the road, take it out and stick it in the Nationals.

    I won’t concede the season until a player takes a cellphone out during the game and takes a selfie. #epicfail.

  8. tcostant - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    Maybe our guys should start at eating at subway before the game.

    Seems to work for Kershaw…

  9. scnatsfan - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    Hey Rendon isn’t worried, why should I be worried.

  10. Candide - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:59 AM

    Breaking news, September 15, 2015: Having won 14 of 16 and vaulted back into first place since Matt Williams’s firing last month, several Nats players explained what had happened to turn their season around.

    “We just didn’t like Williams, so apart from Bryce and Yunel, we decided to just mail it in until he was replaced. Now that Randy (Knorr) is running the show, we decided to start hitting again,” said catcher Wilson Ramos, who’s hit eight home runs and is slugging .622 since the beginning of the month.

    “No more meatballs in the late innings,” said reliever Drew Storen, who has retired 27 straight batters – 20 on strikeouts – in 9 appearances since the management change. “Randy explained to us that our job was to get batters out; I don’t know why Matt never explained that to us.”

    The players were nearly unanimous in agreeing that they finally understood that hitters needed to hit and pitchers needed to pitch. Harper and Escobar were among the significant exceptions. Harper appeared puzzled: “You mean those other guys can just turn it on and off at will, depending on whether they like the head guy out not?” He shook his head: “I guess I still have a lot to learn about this game.”

    • zmunchkin - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:07 AM


      Rizzo won’t fire MW now.

      One thing I’d like to see is handing over managing the pitchers and the BP to Knorr and Cat.

    • dryw4nats - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:12 AM

      That’s beautiful, Candide!

    • veejh - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:13 AM

      Do you really think the players dislike MW? I don’t know.

      • Candide - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:25 AM

        I have no idea.

      • zmunchkin - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:35 AM

        In (I think) a recent Boswell chat he said the players liked Davey, but did not respect him (in 2013) and added that they do respect MW but don’t like him.

  11. zmunchkin - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:03 AM

    Am I concerned! Absolutely!  But I am not ready to write off the season. 

    Baseball is a game of runs. If/once the Nats get on a winning run, all bets are off. 

    Two weeks ago the Jays were 8 games behind the Yankmes (not a typo). Now they are in first place. And before you say that is due to the trades for Tulo and Price: Tulo is hurting around 230. Price has been lights out, but that is only 2 games. 

    Last year on this date  (with fewer games left), the Cards were 2 games behind the Brewers. They ended up winning the NL Central by 8 games. 

    • tcostant - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:07 AM

      The Blue Jays are playing well and had a team in front of them not playing well. We have the oppsite of that.

      • zmunchkin - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:11 AM

        Agreed – but that changed because MLB is a game of runs.

  12. stoatva - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:04 AM

    14 Ks. I watched the whole thing and still don’t believe it.

  13. JayB - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:11 AM

    Hey this is just baseball….nothing can be done….it is just a random game of chance and all good fans know that the only way to be a good fan is to hope for the best, never question the GM or Manager and NEVER EVERY Boo a player no matter what their performance or actions. Just ask MW or NJack

  14. stoatva - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:16 AM

    Personally I don’t think Werth has forgotten how to hit, and I think he can play an important role over the next two years (not proportional to his salary but no one ever expected that). But he’s not a guy to start ten out of ten games anymore.

    • JayB - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:19 AM

      Clearly MW is not on the same page as reality with respect to Werth

      • stoatva - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:27 AM

        You know his point of view is: Jayson needs to play every day to get back to where he should be. But he’s not that guy anymore. He looks as futile and frustrated as he did most of his first year here… only five years older.

    • adcwonk - Aug 14, 2015 at 12:14 PM

      Personally I don’t think Werth has forgotten how to hit,

      When I think about Werth this season, and whether he’s “done” or not, two things keep popping into my mind:

      1. His trajectory was straight up in late April and May – hitting like .300 or so in this last 10 games before getting hit (proving that he really needed the spring training that he missed); and

      2. “Everybody says” you need about 100 AB’s to get the rust off. Werth has had 61 plate appearances since returning. That’s a big chunk less than 100.

      In my mind, until he gets 100 at bats, the jury is most definitely out on whether he will be useful down the stretch. We just need some patience with him (which, admittedly, gets harder every time we fall a game further behind . . . . Real hard!)

  15. JayB - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:17 AM

    Blue Jays have a GM who is willing to go all in to win now…..Nats have a GM that never wants to pay fair value for anything….See Chapman when a FA out of Cuba and his comments…..Blue Jays have a GM that understands his existing talent was not good enough and did not over estimate their value in July 2015 because he was responsible for moves to get them years or even months ago.

    Rizzo is not going to win a World Series in December or Feb…but he sure thinks he can.

    • jfmii - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:31 AM

      Such unnecessary, repetitive vitriol. Tie a can on it, please

  16. Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:32 AM

    Some of these stats over the past 10 games are surprising, some are shocking:

    Last 10 games:

    Rendon 7-42, 1 double, 5BB’s, 7 K’s , 0 RBI’s

    Werth 4-35, 1 double, 1 HR, 2 BB’s, 9 K’s, 6 RBI’s

    MAT 10-37, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 1BB, 9K’s, 5RBI’s

    RZim 11-33, 5 doubles, 2 HR’s, 3 BB’s, 10 K’s, 9 RBI’s

    Harper 12-40, 1 double, 0 HR, 9BB’s, 8 K’s. 1 RBI

    Desi 10-36, 2 doubles, 3 HR’s, 5 BB’s, 8 K’s 6 RBI’s

    Ramos 8-37, 1 double, 0 HR’s, 3 BB’s 5 K’s, 7 RBI’s

    Escobar 10-40, 1 double, 2 HR’s, 5 BB’s 3 K’s 3 RBI’s

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:35 AM

      Between them, over the past 10 games Harper and Rendon have had 82 AB’s/96 PA’s and have produce 1 RBI. And they both have come up with runners on base.

      • jfmii - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:41 AM

        Bryce’s fall-off is a disappointment.

        And Anthony? 2015 is a lost year. It is a good thing everyone saw how good he could be last year…

  17. JayB - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:32 AM

    Oh and of course….above all any baseball in DC is better than no baseball so anything the team does is fine….anything at all…as long as they have a team.

    • jfmii - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:36 AM

      Repetitive vitriol

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:42 AM

        You’d have thought that JayB would have worn the record out on the jukebox by now, but no, he keeps putting a quarter in and playing the same crappy song over and over again.

      • rlndtln - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:46 AM

        next year lineup.Turner,tendon,harp,Zim,Esco,jason,ramos,Taylor.On paper not bad but what we really need that can not happen because of jasons contract is to replace him with someone like Cargo a good lefty hitter that can field.Still could use an additional lefty bat,

      • natsguy - Aug 14, 2015 at 12:15 PM

        Ramos has to go from that list. Was in there for his bat. If he’s not hitting, he’s too much of a liability at catcher.

      • mauimo22 - Aug 14, 2015 at 12:18 PM

        Ramos should be gone! Werth should be gone!

      • IsawTeddywin - Aug 14, 2015 at 12:38 PM

        Ramos last time I looked ranked 3rd in RBI’s amongst all NL catchers.
        Who do you suggest as a replacement?
        Good luck getting Posey,

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Aug 14, 2015 at 1:22 PM

        Matt Wieters will be a free agent after this season.

      • zmunchkin - Aug 14, 2015 at 1:37 PM

        His career numbers are comparable to Ramos’. And he has not been able to stay on the field the last two years.

        This may happen because he is a Boras client. But then again, the Nats have a couple of catching prospect who are a year or two away and they may not want to sign a long-term deal (which Boras will demand/expect) for a player with a recent history of injuries.

      • IsawTeddywin - Aug 14, 2015 at 2:03 PM

        Rizzo is not going to take on that much extra salary for no real improvement.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:39 AM

      Jay B, one can be disappointed in the team’s record and still appreciate the fact that we have baseball in this town. Like you, I’ve been going since day one.They’re my team and I make no apologies to the likes of you for continuing to support them, warts and all.

      • zmunchkin - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:46 AM

        Well said Joe!!!!!!!!

  18. theoneontheleft2 - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:45 AM

    So, is this the math?

    2014 Nats = 2015 Mets
    2015 Nats = 2014 Braves

    And, if so..what happens next year? Are we suddenly in tear down mode, or do we write off this year as bad luck.

    • rlndtln - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:51 AM

      The opposing teams keep pitching our right handed batters away with sliders.We do not have any left handed batters other than Bryce.Just look at what lefties do against Max and Drew.Teams load up lefty line ups against our righty pitching.Mathematically they all have a big edge starting a game there 5 lefties versus our 1.Tonite you will see our genius manager play 3 additional lefties,Danny,Lobaton andRobinson.

      • jfmii - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:02 AM

        Yes, I see the righty/lefty imbalance as the team’s biggest flaw

    • bowdenball - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:57 AM

      I don’t know that they write it off as bad luck., but the 2015 Nats have a much clearer and easier path to a turnaround than the 2014 Braves.

      For one thing the Nats have a lot more financial flexibility. In addition to the Lerner’s impossible wealth and desire to bring a World Series to DC for their aging patriach vs the restrictions resulting from being owned by a corporation, there’s also the fact that a lot of money comes off the Nats’ books after this season when the four free agents depart. The Braves had to trade away their financial obligations, the Nats can just let the clock run out on them and immediately start spending elsewhere.

      For another thing, the Braves ranked close to the bottom in the 2014 farm system rankings while the Nats rank close to the top. That’s important for two reasons. One, it means that guys like Ross and Turner are available to provide instant boosts on opening day next year, with guys like Giolito and Lopez and Difo not far behind. Two, it means that there’s no real reason to trade away assets to build for the future, because the system is already strong and it will be getting a huge influx of talent in the draft this year thanks to the comp picks for the departing free agents.

    • Karl Kolchak - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:13 AM

      Next year they’ll retool around the same core of players with Trea Turner eventually playing SS, Taylor starting in CF and two new pitchers in the rotation (Ross hopefully winning one of those spots).

      But two of the big problem children from this year will remain: Werth and RZ, who will making $47 million between them next year. Old man Lerner may say he wants a WS championship, but so far the Nats have shown no indication to do what the Dodgers do and bench expensive veterans who are not performing or eat a substantial portion of their huge remaining salaries in a trade.

      • bowdenball - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:21 AM

        If you think Zimmerman is a “problem child” you haven’t been watching the games since he returned from the DL. Simple as that.

        Nobody in baseball has hit the ball harder in August than Ryan Zimmerman. Literally:

      • therealjohnc - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:41 AM

        Good get bowdenball. Zim’s LD% and hard contact% since he got back have been off the charts. Even most of his outs have been loud.

        I will also point out for the sake of accuracy that between them Werth and Zimmerman will make $35M next year, not $47M. Not insignificant, but neither is the difference between $47M and $35M insignificant.


  19. NatsLady - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:54 AM

    In case you haven’t seen this.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:59 AM

      Nice cheerful post on the NI blog, NatsLady? Ah, a ray of sunshine!

  20. erocks33 - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:54 AM

    Hey JayB, I’m all for letting out your frustrations, but man oh man, how about putting to rest the Aroldis Chapman stuff? It’s been 5 years already! And you keep insinuating that Rizzo/Nats didn’t try.

    The reports were that the Nats were second in the bidding. They offered more than the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Marlins and Angels. And by more, I mean MILLIONS more.

    So, the Reds outbid EVERYONE. Nobody at that time thought the Reds would pony up $30M. The Nats were right behind them withe their bid, but remember the Nats were coming off consecutive 100-loss seasons. I’m sure that and, oh yeah, a couple million dollars more, helped persuade Chapman to choose the Reds.

    5 years is a LONG time to carry a grudge, especially one (IMO) that is a pretty weak grudge.

    • alexva6 - Aug 14, 2015 at 9:58 AM

      get ready for the Maya rant

    • scnatsfan - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:06 AM

      Well Chapman is 0-1 career at bat so I don’t know how much he would be helping the offense… but he would fit right in

      • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:02 AM

        And signing him produced how many World Series wins for the Reds?

  21. didactique - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:02 AM

    Let me make sure I’ve got this: the answer to your question, ‘How do the Nats solve what ails them,’ turns out to be, there are no solutions, they need to just keep doing what they’ve been doing and hope for different results? This suggests even the Nats bloggers are playing without fire or belief at this point. It’s certainly a fall from grace for a team sufficiently arrogant that even Braves fans are now pulling for the Mets.

    • Karl Kolchak - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:25 AM

      Oh, screw the Braves fans. The way they have hounded Harper and acted like babies when the Nats rose up in 2012 and upended their applecart makes me hope they don’t have another winning season this century.

      • nats106 - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:43 AM

        +85 (remaining years in this century) I hate Braves fans. I said I’d never root for the Orioles, but I’ll make an exception when they play the Braves

  22. hummel26 - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:36 AM

    I think we’re seeing Rizzo oversold himself on his hand. They HAD to get a hitter or two in July and they didn’t. We’re also seeing how well MW can manage with a lot of adversity (I think he gets a B minus or a C; an A would have the Nats still in the lead by a game or two). He hasn’t been smart about his pitching match ups, and he sticks with guys who are in a deep offensive hole for too long. He puts guys in the wrong spot on the field and the lineup.

    He’s not a great manager by any stretch of the imagination.

    • scnatsfan - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:39 AM

      What hitter did you want and where was that guy going to play?

      • adcwonk - Aug 14, 2015 at 12:19 PM

        Umm . . . . Aroldis Chapman at shortstop? No, wait, left field, that’s it!

        Or just snap your fingers and get Jay Bruce! (and if that doesn’t work, trade Ross and Turner for hiim!)

        See — simple!

    • alexva6 - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:50 AM

      agree on MW, he’s still only in his second year and his inexperience is showing

      if you knew that Werth, RZim and Rendon were going to underperform as they have to date then you’re right on Rizzo. I expected them all to be better and I assume he did too.

      if that is what you mean by overselling his hand ok, but if they perform up to their past performances the ship can still be righted

  23. scnatsfan - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:39 AM

    You can’t fire the whole team but you can fire the manager. Rizzo, as he never makes mistakes, wont fire him; the only hope is MW says something disparaging about a player, management or the franchise and forces Rizzo’s hand. As MW never says anything of note I think it is safe to say that won’t happen.

    • tcostant - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:57 AM

      A large percent of the team will be gone next year because their free agents. We might have missed our window, and be a .500 team until the new kids hit their primes…

      • senators69 - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:20 AM

        Depends on what Rizzo does in the off-season.
        IMHO, I think Werth is better than he has shown recently, BUT is not a starter anymore, I don’t think. I heard/read an interview with him in the last year or so wherein he indicated that it takes quite a long while for his power to return after an injury to his oft-injured left wrist. So late this year or next year he should be fine…unless too many left-wrist injuries have finally done him in.
        As to replacements for next year, my gut tells me that Rizzo will work some magic for 1-2 year transition players until the kids are much more proven. Others have mentioned this approach. I just hope they can be as productive as Escobar has been this year!
        All this said, Rizzo MAY grab 1 or 2 quality players to be under team control for longer than 2 years. Reasons: (a) To try to get the elderly Mr. Lerner his WS in the near-term, (b) Because his generational superstar (Harper) will simply not want to stay around if the team is just mediocre, and (c) For job security.
        The one silver lining here is if the team does not make the playoffs and do ok there, I hope it provides a rationale for Matt Williams to be fired.

    • natsnatsnatswoo - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:29 AM

      He could always pull a Riggleman and resign because Rizzo won’t pick up his option. Oh wait, Rizzo already picked up MW’s 2016 option. I guess we’ll have to wait til next year, when Rizzo surely won’t be picking up the 2017 option early in the season.

      • senators69 - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:58 AM

        If not fired, we can only hope for no 2017 option!

  24. Eugene in Oregon - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:10 AM

    After the 20th game of the season, the Nats were 8 games back in the standings. By the 40th game of the season, they were tied. After the 45th game, the Nats were up 2.5 games on the Mets. I’m willing to keep watching for the full 162 games before writing off the season. That’s not a prediction that the Nats will win the division, mind you, just a simple reminder that both the Nats and Mets have 45+ games to go.

    • senators69 - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:21 AM

      Ok, but the Mets seemed significantly improved since Spring while the Nats show no signs of rallying (esp the hitters). Just feels different to me.

    • rlndtln - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:39 AM

      Keep Dreamin

    • adcwonk - Aug 14, 2015 at 12:22 PM

      Wait — the season is 162 games long?

      I forgot, because so many here, or rather a loud few here keep repeating and repeating and reapeating, that the season is over (which is confusing because they are still here). I forgot we still have a month and a half

      Yes, yes, LoD, we’re digging a hole that won’t be easy to get out of — but, like Eugene, and most of us, we understand that there’s 162 games to be played.

    • Nats Fan Zee - Aug 14, 2015 at 12:58 PM

      So I had this thought/realization this morning … if the Nats loose the next two and the Mets win, we will be closer to 3rd place than we are to 1st. If the Nats play .625 baseball from here out and the Mets play .500 ball, we win the division by a game. The lights are not out folks but they are very dim.

      Having said that, as Yogi said (when he was the manger of the 1973 Mets BTW), “it’s not over ‘til it’s over”!

  25. philipd763 - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:30 AM

    My solution: The Nationals players need a jolt. At this late date, short of acquiring Mike Trout for all out prospects, the only jolt can be provided by the firing of uptight Matt Williams and the hiring as manager of Randy Knorr. This situation is desperate and a desperate solution is called for! Career miinor league and fringe major league catchers make great managers! Randy would loosen this team up and get them winning.

    • rlndtln - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:41 AM

      Funny how we the critics were vilified for only being realistic about the Nats.Now all are critics.

  26. micksback1 - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:50 AM

    Just finished a nice run on the board walk, watching a little Sports Center, The Donald (ha, ha), etc… so I thought I would chime in before hitting the beach and casinos. The above link I think expresses spot on where the Nats are headed. Captain Edward J. Smith and MW are now soul mates along with the infamous ship and the Nationals 2015 season. “The ship is unsinkable” “The Nats will win the W.S.”

    too funny, LOL

  27. micksback1 - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:57 AM

    I’m in a singing mood today and thought of another childhood icon who use to sing a great song that applies to the his season as well.

    Frank , Howard and Dandy Don are also reunited in the Lord’s booth

  28. Theophilus T.S. - Aug 14, 2015 at 12:03 PM

    Right now, Williams seems toxic. Not as a manager but as a substitute symbol of ineptitude, a scapegoat for players who haven’t accepted responsibility for their own failings: “Don’t you worry; let us worry;” “By the end of the year all the numbers will be there,” etc. The “numbers,” you idiots, aren’t what matters! Too much navel gazing (e.g., Harper obsession w/ the perfect strike zone; Werth obsession with waiting for the perfect pitch;, insouciance, players — one player, mostly — approaching their exit with fantasies about great accomplishments elsewhere).. What matters are the Ws, now, tomorrow and the next day, to the end of the season.

    In a perverse way, firing Williams — I don’t advocate it — would probably spark a temporary resurgence (as it did with the Phillies) and longer term chaos trending toward the same result: out of the playoffs. At a low but growing level I worry about the influx of young players that seems inevitable next season (Turner, Difo, full-season Ross, Giolito) and the possibility a contagious malaise works to shape their major-league careers.

    A ten-game winning streak will cure everything.

    • Section 222 - Aug 14, 2015 at 1:14 PM

      It might cure everything, but it won’t get us a Babe Ruth trot.

  29. mauimo22 - Aug 14, 2015 at 12:16 PM

    Sadly it’s just under-performance all the way across the board, for a variety of reasons:

    Healthy but Slumped Horribly (mostly all year):

    Injured and Yet to Contribute:

    J Zimmermann

    Showing Promise (for next year):
    Gio (as of late)

    I also am not impressed by Matt Williams. He is still learning the balance between deer-in-headlights and micro-management. He’s certainly not the “cerebral” manager I thought he’d be.

    So, what’s my prediction?

    Nats don’t make playoffs.
    Mets make a deep run.

    Mets optimized their rotation for Nats series and made some nice acquisitions. They outfoxed the Nats.
    I hope I’m wrong but I don’t see this ship righting itself.

    • adcwonk - Aug 14, 2015 at 12:25 PM

      Two things:

      1. You need a special category for Span: “Contributor for the 1/3 season he was healthy”

      2. I can see the Mets getting into the playoffs, but I can’t see a deep run. Those young arms are going to either be taken out of commission (innings limits) or run out of gas.

  30. nats106 - Aug 14, 2015 at 1:10 PM

    This will probably be the last comment and will go unread since a new thread has already started. What ails this team? Lerner should know. Baseball is a game, but at this level it’s a business first. What happens in a business? You reward good performance, you address bad performance.

    Nats have done the opposite, I can name four instances off the top of my head.

    Situation 1 Punishing good performance
    Example 1: Storen does a great job closing this year-one of the best in the league. Reward? trade for Papelbon, get relegated to an 8th inning role. Nice reward.
    Example 2: Yes, I’m going to dredge this one up again. Tanner Roark. Great starter last year, relegated to (from a layman’s view) an undefined bullpen role while a rookie gets called up and takes a starting position. And no, I’m not saying Joe Ross shouldn’t have been, he’s been great, but Tanner never really got the opportunity despite last years performance with the exception of a spot start here and there.

    Situation 2 Reward poor performance
    Example 1: Ian Desmond. How many errors? How many bad at bats? Yet he kept trotted out there, game after game with no repercussions. No benching, dropped in the order once or twice.
    Example 2: Jayson Werth. everyone’s said it-looks lost in the field, hitting .185. Still out there. Hell $21MM CEO’s get fired all the time. It’s a business.

    And we wonder why they play uninspired baseball?

    • micksback1 - Aug 14, 2015 at 3:25 PM


      excellent post and that is why this team is in jeopardy of falling fast the next few years. I almost wonder if the Lerners have been influenced by Dan Synder’s bedside manners when it comes to rewarding crappy play and punishing guys who work hard.

  31. Feelanau - Aug 14, 2015 at 1:35 PM

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. Rizzo’s pitching-centric general management is insane. There are no viable alternatives to the anemic lineup because the obvious need for a bat refuses to be addressed — including this July 31 when our already desperate need was even more desperate because of the injuries to Span, Zimmerman, Rendon, and Werth.

    My seats are directly outside Rizzo’s box. For five years I’ve yelled to him as I depart — including after the last out of the 18 inning debacle when we had NINE chances to walk off — “GET A BAT!!” Maybe next year.

    • rlndtln - Aug 14, 2015 at 2:58 PM

      I keep saying the same thing over a over.Are number 1 problem is we are too right handed,Bryce being the only lefty in the line up.We need to trade Jason for a good lefty power hitter that can field.Cargo is an example.He could bat behind Zim.Another lefty would help.The problem is who would take Jason.We might have to give up prospects also and take some of his salary.We are losing 4 salaries,Denard,Desi,JZIM and Fister.We would then add Cargo,Turner and a new reliever.Reed Johnson could be the 4th outfielder.Plus my guy denDeker.Robinson Lobaton and Danny would be key reserves.

  32. hokiepokster92 - Aug 14, 2015 at 3:18 PM

    Call it an outlier or just one of those freak things, but here’s a small glimmer of hope to hang your hat on, Nats fans. The 2006 WS Champ St. Louis Cardinals finished with a mere 83-78 regular season record. They played 3 poor months of baseball:

    June 9-16
    August 13-15
    September 12-16
    October 0-1

    Talk about stumbling into the playoffs. But just as the Giants have proven multiple times in recent years, anything can happen if you can get into the postseason.

  33. rlndtln - Aug 14, 2015 at 3:32 PM

    MAIUMO.Where were you when I needed you.Thats right the Nats will not make the playoffs and the Mets made the right moves and will make a deep run in the playoffs.I was called crazy and worse.

  34. fpa4356 - Aug 14, 2015 at 3:49 PM

    To JayB : the point of “any baseball in DC is better than no baseball” is not that “anything the team does is fine”. Rather, it is or should be a factor in setting a floor for our negative emotions when we are (justifiably) disappointed by the team’s play. It’s a lot easier for those of us with no team at all to put into proper context two bad weeks. The Nationals have some good, and a couple of great, players. It’s not for no reason that many knowledgeable baseball people, including many here, thought that the Nationals would get to and through the playoffs. Injuries derailed the plan for awhile, but let’s enjoy watching the players who were (are) the foundation for those predictions get the plan back on track.

  35. nattygoats - Aug 14, 2015 at 4:03 PM

    LOL absolutely epic. whats up MICK? Miss ya. so does my old pal SWM

    • micksback1 - Aug 14, 2015 at 4:10 PM

      on vacation and just checking in on the lastest Titnaic sinking, lol

      miss you guys and miss SWM!!!!

  36. JayB - Aug 14, 2015 at 4:54 PM

    I was here for most of the post 1970 no baseball years and I never became a fan of American League baseball or Oholes…….that said….this town and fan base is giving the players, GM and organization way to much credit for just being here. They have major structural problems with the roster and the clubhouse. That is not acceptable to just say oh well….that is how it goes sometime….why because they are doing nothing to address the issues and nothing to even acknowledge they have dropped out of relevancey without ever even facing the facts.

    • letswin3 - Aug 14, 2015 at 5:21 PM

      JayB is always such a ray of sunshine.





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