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Time for leaders to emerge

Aug 18, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

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If it feels like you’ve been watching the Nationals’ worst stretch of baseball in a long time … well, you’re absolutely right.

This team has gone 4-13 over the last 2 1/2 weeks, the franchise’s worst 17-game stretch since 2011. That’s also the last time the Nats finished with a losing record, a fact that probably doesn’t leave everyone feeling all warm and fuzzy inside right now.

It’s a stunning reversal of fortune for a ballclub that not very long ago looked like a safe bet to win its third division title in four years yet now finds itself 4 1/2 games behind the resurgent Mets entering the season’s final seven weeks.

And it leaves the Nationals at a make-or-break crossroads. There are 45 games to go, but it sure feels like the events of the next week will determine what exactly becomes of the 2015 Nats. Is this a team that still realizes its potential with a furious sprint to the finish line, or is this a team that sinks even deeper into the abyss and forever is remembered as a colossal failure?

And so that makes this a time for leadership, a time for key figures to step up and assume control of a ballclub currently spiraling out of control.

Whose team is this? Who is the one who commands the respect of everyone else in uniform and can lead them to a better place?

Is it Matt Williams? The second-year manager was hand-picked by GM Mike Rizzo after the 2013 season to lead this organization to new heights, but his words and actions over the last two weeks haven’t inspired much confidence. And his refusal to discuss the big picture and what can be done to turn things around has not been received well by the public.

Is it Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman? The two highest-paid position players on the roster, both mainstays who will remain part of the organization well beyond this season, are viewed within the clubhouse as leaders. But neither veteran displays the personality traits typically associated with trusted leaders. They are quiet by nature, insisting on staying even-keeled throughout a long baseball season, confident that talent will prove itself over 162 games. And neither is playing this year at a level that befits a player of top stature, lessening their message.

Is it Bryce Harper? There’s no debating his production on the field this season, and there’s no denying his Type A personality, which can be infectious when he gets on a roll. By all accounts, this should be Harper’s team now. He’s far and away their best player, not to mention their most outspoken individual. But he remains a 22-year-old in a room full over 30-somethings who have already been there and done that. And so Harper, to date, has shied away from taking on a leadership role among his older teammates.

Is it Max Scherzer? He’s the best pitcher on the staff, not to mention a 3-time All-Star, Cy Young Award winner and veteran of 10 postseason starts, including one in the World Series. And he has the security of a 7-year, $210 million contract that makes him the richest man in a room full of millionaires. Trouble is, pitchers rarely become leaders of an entire ballclub, especially those who only play once every five days.

Whoever the guy is, whether it’s one of the above names, all of them or someone else entirely, the time has come for leaders to emerge.

The Nationals have seven weeks left to save their wayward season. Given the favorable schedule, the weak state of the NL East and the fact they get to play the Mets six more times head-to-head, they’re in a far better position than just about any other 58-59 club in baseball history.

But it’s time to put up or shut up. It’s time to show everyone how good they are, not keep telling us how good they are.

It’s time for someone to lead the way.

113 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. stoatva - Aug 18, 2015 at 7:25 AM

    Where have you gone Mark DeRosa? Our ball club turns its lonely eyes to you.

    Woo woo woo!

  2. joemktg - Aug 18, 2015 at 7:30 AM

    This game is played between the ears. But it’s not a lack of Leadership that’s the issue, but Confidence at the plate and on the bump.

    Proof? Many of these players are pressing, trying to go at 150%. So what happens when you press? You’re technique, your pitch selection, your routine, your everything gets out of whack. And once you get out of whack, it takes work to ratchet it back and reacquire your poise. That’s the beauty of this game: 1mm off, and it throws everything off. And to find that 1mm, you have to start with the gray matter within the skull.

    What causes pressing? Lack of Confidence.

    Unfortunately, there are many players pressing, and it’s not going to get better given their tailspin: it’ll just compound the problem.

    Can Leaders instill Confidence? You bet. And a great Leader will understand that the issue is not a lack of Leadership, but a lack of Confidence.

  3. rabbit433 - Aug 18, 2015 at 8:16 AM

    From MZ: “Is this a team that still realizes its potential with a furious sprint to the finish line, or is this a team that sinks even deeper into the abyss and forever is remembered as a colossal failure?” If the current Nationals are a colossal failure, it won’t be remember….just a statistic. Who will care except for now; today. If the Nats win the division next year, I won’t give a rat’s behind what they did this year, win or lose. And, the year after next, the same applies. All this is, is sports. Suffer now, tomorrow you can be sky high in pleasure. In the playoffs in 2014 I was sky high in sports happiness. I didn’t care what they won or lost in previous years. Then in 2014 I suffered deeply when they lost and went home. This year I don’t care about 2014. What can they do now! Right now, I’m suffering.

    • natsguy - Aug 18, 2015 at 8:29 AM

      Many more are not pressing,

  4. chaz11963 - Aug 18, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    Good stuff, Mark. Well said, let’s hope the Nats are feeling the same way.

  5. scnatsfan - Aug 18, 2015 at 8:24 AM

    It’s been time for leaders for 3 years and they haven’t shown. No reason to think that will change. And that breaks my heart.

    • bowdenball - Aug 18, 2015 at 8:56 AM

      3 years? GTFOH. They won 98 games in 2012 and 96 games in 2014. It didn’t end well, but 29 of 30 teams don’t end their seasons well. If you can’t be happy unless your team beats 1 in 30 odds you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of misery, and for your own sake you might consider doing something else with your spare time.

      • scnatsfan - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:04 AM

        Starting in 2013, which I see you have blocked from your memory. That’s 13-14-15, 3 years. Pretty easy math there buddy. Where were your leaders in 13? Where were your leaders in the playoffs last year? And, more important, where are your leaders as MW is driving this team into the abyss? Yeah I know, all kind of leader stuff is going on behind closed doors… right. This team has always played with a lack of urgency, a lack of heart. Sure they want to win – I would bet every player in MLB does – but are they willing to do anything to win? Are they willing to work harder then other teams and players? I don’t know how any fan of this team can they they do.

      • bowdenball - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:18 AM

        1. This season isn’t over, which is why I included 2012 when you said “3 years.” Furthermore, the simple fact is that 2012 happened, and a good number of the key guys on this team were key guys on that team (Harper, Zimmerman, Werth, Desmond, Ramos, Espinosa, Strasburg, Zimmermann, Gio, Storen). You can’t just pretend it didn’t happen because it contradicts your point.

        2. You have absolutely no idea what goes on in the dugout. None. Everything you posted here is a sily narrative about “will to win.” Are there leaders? Will they do anything to win? Are they willing to work harder than other teams and players? I don’t know. Neither do you. I do know that many of these same guys were on a team that won 96 games last year, and many of them were on the team that won 98 in 2012, and others have come from other teams that have won pennants and World Series, so clearly they have it in them.

        3. There’s more than a bit of irony about a fan who can’t even sit on the couch and WATCH the games without feeling completely defeated and miserable and feeling the need to spread his misery with other fans complaining about the players’ attitudes.

      • bowdenball - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:22 AM

        And i don’t mean to say that they’re going to turn it around. They may just not have it this year. But I seriously doubt it’s because they lack the will to win, given how much they’ve won in recent years. If they don’t win this year it’s almost certainly because key guys are older or injured or struggling with mechanics or approach or they’ve been hamstrung by poor in-game management or most likely some combination of all of those. Not because of some BS mumbo jumbo about their “will to win.”

      • scnatsfan - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:23 AM

        And there is something wrong about a fan who thinks the way he views the team is the only correct way to view it. You show me an example of a player who has acted like a leader, someone who calls someone like Ramos out after he trots his double into a single. You don’t have to be in the dugout to see things like that.

        2012 and 2014 happened which proves these guys have talent and can win when things are going there way. Can they rise above when things aren’t? That remains to be seen but so far evidence points to no. I hope they sweep the Mets, I hope they make the playoffs; yeah, silly me, I like to see them win and enjoy that more then seeing them lose.

      • bowdenball - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:49 AM

        “You show me an example of a player who has acted like a leader, someone who calls someone like Ramos out after he trots his double into a single. You don’t have to be in the dugout to see things like that.”

        Yes you do. You absolutely have to be in the dugout or the clubhouse to know if someone called our Ramos in the dugout or the clubhouse for his baserunning mistake.

        I think this is all a bunch of Monday Morning QBing and narrative-sculpting. When you lose, whatever attitude you’re taking is the wrong attitude. If someone had yelled at Ramos in front of the cameras after that play we’d all be talking about dissension in the ranks and the frustrations getting the better of them. If they were winning and nobody called him on camera out we’d be saying that they’re forgiving and supportive and a brotherhood. If they were winning and someone called him out on camera we’d be saying that they’re fiery and demanding. There’s a ready made narrative to accompany both winning and losing for pretty much everything a ballclub does.

        Anyway, that’s my take. I didn’t mean to be so confrontational, scnatsfan. I guess I’m just frustrated by this notion that the team lacks heart and drive. What they’ve lacked so far is runs and outs. We have no idea whether there’s a connection.

      • scnatsfan - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:56 AM

        One thing we all have in common on this board buddy – we are all frustrated. Sure would be nice to have a victory to build on tonight.

  6. kiawah51 - Aug 18, 2015 at 8:54 AM

    Sorry guys. This isn’t a confidence issue. Don’t try and masquerade the real problem. These guys don’t have the tools and skills to meet everyone’s expectations. They were only annointed early on because the division is terrible. You are who you are at this point in the season. Not just swinging at balls outside the strike zone consistently but missing them by 6 inches or more. Pathetic display of discipline and awareness at the plate. Talk all you want about the pitching. They are under 500 because they have no clue or plan when they step into the batters box.

  7. nats106 - Aug 18, 2015 at 8:57 AM

    Well written article. Over a short (Sunday/Monday) I was taking time off in Kill Devil Hills and a wise baseball fan told me that the Nationals will still win the NL East. “No way” I said. His comment-you’re a Nationals fan-you’re not objective about them when they are playing great or when they are playing poorly.

    Thinking about that point, it hit me-as Nationals fans, some live pitch by pitch, or game by game, or series by series. As baseball fans, we live season by season. The Mets are playing at a level that knowledgeable baseball people thought they were capable of, with the weaknesses and strengths that have carried them thus far. As a team, the Nationals are underperforming, but we still have a lot of season left, with 25 games to be played at home.

    Regardless of the W/L record, this is still my team. I’m a Nationals fan, but for the next 45 days, I think I’ll just be a baseball fan and see what emerges.

    • natsjackinfl - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:05 AM

      Hallelujah! Another on sees the truth!

    • scnatsfan - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:10 AM

      Win or lose, I wear the curly W hat. Just looks better on me when they win.

      • dcwx61 - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:29 AM

        reminds me of my friends Dad who was also very wise:

        I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor and rich is better.

        another one but not quite related
        I’m going broke saving money

    • tcostant - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:26 AM

      I’m hopefully, as in I hope they do well. Great point! For those who say, you have to have faith, I’ll save that for church.

    • veejh - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:52 AM

      Yeah, but watching the season with no hope will make it a lot easier in the end. If we actually end up winning the division, bonus!

      • tcostant - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:18 AM

        As I said, I have hope. But the Nats would need to go 32-12, just to finish with 90 wins. Think about that. This is a longshot. It’s great when a long shot comes in, but it is not likely.

      • bowdenball - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:23 AM

        I don’t think they’ll need 90 wins to make the playoffs. 87 might be enough, assuming 4 or 5 of the 29 wins it would take to reach 87 come at the expense of the Mets.

      • tcostant - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:30 AM

        Well 29-15 isn’t to easy either. My point really was how far we have fallen…

  8. Guapo - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:28 AM

    From a leadership perspective, there is an expensive logjam in the front.

    Werth and Zimmerman are the elder statesmen. One is a brooding grump who rarely, if ever, seems like he’s having fun out there. The other comes across as the most milqutoast player in the league. They, along with Williams have set an flat tone with this club for years. And the Desmond situation hasn’t helped either. Here’s a guy who treats each April as his personal Spring Training, kicking balls all over the infield while the team digs itself a hole. Yet he leads the team in games started, and MW benches Harper for not touching first after he’s already been punched out. Not a good message.

    Scherzer, Harper, and Rendon are the core of this club. Although different, each brings a unique leadership element to the club. But until JZim and Werth step aside, it will be tough for them to take this team where it needs to go.

    • raleighnat - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:06 AM

      I don’t know why but the hit on Desmond struck a chord with me. Say he’s been terrible this year – ok, but I don’t think for a moment he hasn’t tried hard from day 1. He sure seems like a first class guy to me. I wish he were better because he is an easy person to root for.

      • Guapo - Aug 18, 2015 at 12:08 PM

        Lots of people get bent when I break down Desmond. He is likable. He does some good things at times. But to be a leader, your credibility depends on your actions, not your words.

        Desmond is horrible each April in the field. It’s not once, or twice, it’s every year. Seems to indicate that he’s unprepared for, or doesn’t take Spring Training seriously. That’s not leadership.

        Getting on base is important. Moving runners is important. Making contact at the plate is important. Each of those things are what helps teams win. Leaders do those things and expect others to as well. When Desmond is at the plate with two strikes and runners on base , swinging out of his shoes and racking up another 200K+ season….that’s not leadership.

        Desmond will make a serviceable corner outfielder or 2B somewhere next year. He’s a solid MLB player, and has the tools. But he lacks the dedication to improving his game that would make him an elite player and leader on any other team.

  9. Sam - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:43 AM

    Ian Desmond.

    He is, by all accounts, the leader in the clubhouse, and it would behoove him (some tens of millions of dollars worth) to put the team on his shoulders and carry them into the postseason.

    For what it’s worth, Desmond has been the 5th best short stop in baseball by WAR since the All-Star break. In that time, he’s batting .272/.336/.544, which, while definitely outperforming his career norms, are more in line with what we would expect to see from him than what we have seen thus far.

    • stoatva - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:51 AM

      Sam beat me to it. Consider this, from yesterday’s Bozchat.

      Q.: Storen
      He’s looked awful in his last relief appearances. Is he mentally checking out?

      A: Thomas Boswell
      No, not until — maybe — he’d given up two runs in the eighth to make it 12-5 Giants on Saturday. Williams came to the mound (McCatty had been ejected). That didn’t seem to rouse Storen much. Then, after Williams left, Desmond got in Storen’s face and gave him a pump up talk. Whatever he said, it worked. Every pitch Storen threw after that was an excellent — sharp, on the black, as many pitches had been over the middle before that. Maybe Desmond will manage someday.

      • Sam - Aug 18, 2015 at 9:57 AM

        Consider the Nationals’ production by position since the All-Star Break:
        C: .173/.214/.227 -0.7 WAR 30th
        1B: .229/.316/.412 -0.1 WAR 20th
        2B: .204/.282/.296 -0.2 WAR 28th
        3B: .243/.302/.421 0.2 WAR 24th
        SS: .272/.336/.544 1.0 WAR 7th
        LF: .200/.268/.321 -0.6 WAR 27th
        CF: .231/.260/.376 0.6 WAR 19th (MAT plays unbelievable defense; would be okay if other positions could hit)
        RF: .297/.419/.455 1.0 WAR 11th
        P: .186/.200/.203 0.0 WAR 11th

        SP: 2.6 WAR 8th
        RP: 0.6 WAR 15th

        Essentially, no one on the team can hit. And short stop has been our best position in the second half.

      • stoatva - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:03 AM

        And “post all star break” isn’t one of those conveniently selected dates like MASN uses to make things look good artificially. It actually encompasses a pretty significant span of continued suck. Ian’s slugging over .700 our last seven games.

      • bowdenball - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:32 AM

        Catcher was a problem before the break, too.

        I’m a Rizzo defender, he’d have to screw up a lot more than just the Williams hire and this season to lose my support. But I can’t understand why they didn’t go harder after an upgrade at C before the trading deadline.

      • mauimo22 - Aug 18, 2015 at 2:10 PM

        Nice breakdown Sam. Shows how pathetic Nats hitting really is.
        It all started, or did not start, in Spring Training when they were pathetic.
        No one said it mattered, but guess what? Hitting is contagious and they just never got it going.
        Mental lapses, undisciplined ABs, lots of GIDPs, not working the count – you name it.
        Granted injuries were a big deal.
        Time to turn things around.

        #NoExcuses_45games

        GO NATS!

  10. Theophilus T.S. - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:03 AM

    I don’t think there are any real leaders on this club. I also don’t think that’s unusual for a baseball team. Unlike football, basketball, hockey, baseball is a team sport played by individuals — individually. For the most part, no coordinated activity is required. If anything, the team lacks followers. Individuals, e.g., Span, Escobar, Harper, Espinosa, show by their example how the game is supposed to be played. Who’s following? Not Desmond, not Ramos, not Strasburg, not Gonzalez, not — unfortunately — Rendon, who’s more Huck Finn than Tom Sawyer. Taylor is clearly suffering from Span’s absence — an example to play alongside. There are examples, but no one else seems to be paying attention.

    Regardless of the outcome of this season — we’ll know a lot more by the end of this week — Nats fans have to hope for a real culture change in next season’s roster. Desmond will be gone, but will whoever replaces him be willing to suppress ego-centric behavior in favor of what’s best for the team? Rizzo needs to replace Ramos, find someone (Heyward?) to succeed Werth, get a tough-as-nails veteran starting pitcher (that does not mean re-signing Zimmermann). Success will require at least a couple of major trades. Be prepared to see Difo, Fedde, Lopez on the move.

    • Guapo - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:26 AM

      Grew up a Mets fan and I’m a short guy. So Backman and Dykstra were my favorite players on those legendary mid 80s teams. Backman was a grinder. He had very little talent, relatively, when compared to his peers.

      But he grinded it out and was a very important part of the successful Mets TEAMS. Nats need to increase the grind factor dramatically. I’d support that hire in a heartbeat.

  11. peewilly - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:16 AM

    “And his refusal to discuss the big picture and what can be done to turn things around has not been received well by the public.”

    All due respect Mark, you don’t speak for the public. If you want to suggest Williams’s comments haven’t been received well by the media, fine. For me, I don’t care what he says during the post-game presser. He’s very guarded and doesn’t wander off script which I’m sure is frustrating to the media but that doesn’t mean he’s not working to turn this team around.

    • texnat1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:32 AM

      Well, you don’t speak for the public either, and I think Mark’s characterization is fair.

    • NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:42 AM

      I’m with you on this, pw. I don’t care what he says in pressers, I don’t listen to them, and what I do hear about them says to me he’s learned from last season when he was less careful and made P.R. mistakes.

      • Dave - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:49 AM

        +1

    • scnatsfan - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:39 AM

      Well I’m part of the public and I agree with Mark. This stay the course, we are all OK act has tired on me. But that’s just me.

  12. texnat1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:32 AM

    The team appears to me to have the leadership problems Mark discusses. One tell tale sign is when everything seems to be going wrong at once.

    Anyway, I agree that Desmond is probably the vocal leader of the team. But this presents its own problems. He makes a ton of errors and doesn’t do the little things at the plate given that his approach is to swing for the fences. These are the type of things that a manager would normally get on a player for, but because Desmond is really the best leader on the team, it probably makes it awkward for MW to do so. So instead he does things like pick on Bryce last year to try to make a point. It comes off as inconsistent.

    More broadly, this team could use a veteran no nonsense manager with skins on the wall to impose himself on the clubhouse. Guys like RZim and Werth are not that kind of guy, and at the same time, are too accomplished and senior to really give much deference to a rookie manager like MW. Thus, hiring a rookie manager really deprived the Nats of an opportunity to get some leadership out of that position. As it stands, the Nats come off very much like a player run club. It isn’t that the players are bad guys or aren’t trying, but we all need a fresh perspective and some leadership sometimes, and MW just doesn’t have the chops to lead this clubhouse.

    • NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:10 AM

      When Matt Williams was hired, it was because he had “chops” as a player, and that was supposed to earn him the respect of a young-ish team. Werth and RZim aren’t going to give him “deference,” nor should they. They don’t need to be managed and they rarely even need to be coached at this stage of their careers.

      I wouldn’t say that a fresh perspective is needed, because a “fresh perspective” wouldn’t have stayed with Desi long enough for him to be productive. Williams had the perspective that sooner or later Desi would come around, presumably from having observed and gone through slumps, even months-long slumps. That fan “perspective” would have benched him for Espinosa. Espinosa is a nice player, but he’s a bench player, pure and simple.

      The time to make a decision on MW is when the season is over. Not only will you have the result (whatever it may be) but also Rizzo can have heart-to-hearts with Werth and Zim (and McCatty) to get the clubhouse picture. He can’t do that now, because it would truly undermine Williams’ authority.

      With regard to the trade deadline. Rizzo counted on the return of veteran players, so he didn’t trade for a position player and give up what little we have in the farm system beyond the “untouchables.” Looking back at posts from June and July, there was just about universal fan support for this strategy. It may have been too optimistic (especially with Span, and with how poorly the returnees have hit) but we all made the same mistake.

      He got a very good deal on Papelbon, and Paps has been on his best behavior even though he’s only had two saves since he got here. I have difficulty believing he is a disruptive influence in the clubhouse since he is (a) a newbie and (b) a reliever.

      Personally, I think there would be tremendous resistance to bringing in a Buck Showalter-type at this point. That guy would not be kicking Werth’s or Zim’s ass, just whose ass would he kick? Ramos? That’s about the only one I could think of who might benefit. So, yeah, let’s bring in a guy to kick the catcher’s ass.

      • jd - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:45 AM

        NL,

        I think that if Rizzo waits until the season is over and it doesn’t go well (we don’t make the play offs) he will have his own position to defend. I think he should do whatever he can to rescue this season and I think it’s doable.

        To be fair, we here for the most part are staunch supporters of Mike Rizzo (I include myself in that group) but he has also not had a great year beyond making a couple of excellent trades to replenish our prospect list. The team Rizzo built is too right handed, the Werth contract always had the potential to become an albatross in it’s last few years, it could be that Jayson simply needs more time to get his mojo back (he did hit very well last year) but it could be that injuries and ageing has finally reduced his abilities to where he will never be the player he was.

        Finally, when Rizzo decided to bring all of his impending free agents back he took a risk. I think it backfired especially in the case of Ian Desmond who is unquestionably the team leader in the club house. It’s a tough balance when your leader is also on his way out and his stats are in a steady decline. I don’t agree with your assessment of Espinosa at all, in a semi full time year he still ranks as one of the top half dozen 2nd basemen in the NL, in fact the production of the position took quite a nose dive when Rendon took over (not saying to bench Rendon).

        Finally, finally, I was really taken aback with the Ramos incident. If ever there was a situation which begged to be addressed on the spot, that was it especially after what happened with Harper last year. This was a perfect chance to tell a player: ‘you want to be a spectator, sit on the bench’ and it’s not as if Ramos is really bringing anything to the table.

      • texnat1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:46 AM

        Chops as a player don’t get you respect as a manager. And the idea that players don’t need to be managed is the entire problem. Everyone does at some level. It may be a light and infrequent touch with some players, but it is necessary, and MW doesn’t have the experience to do it here.

        I’m fine with waiting until the off season to evaluate. But the bottom line is that MW never should have been hired in the first place.

      • jd - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:55 AM

        texnat1,

        I am not fine with waiting because I am not prepared to throw this season away just yet.

      • NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 12:04 PM

        I 100% agree that the design of the team falls on Rizzo. However, you might look at Bozwell’s comments from yesterday’s chat. This number stuck out.

        40% of teams who win their Division by 15 or more games in one year FAIL to make the playoffs in the subsequent season.

        We saw that in 2012-2013. Look at the Angels this year, they could easily miss the playoffs. It’s simply not a straight line where you take the team that finished last season, add pieces like Max Scherzer and Yunel Escobar and off we go to 100+ wins. Bryce Harper reacted like a fan when he said, “Where’s my ring!!?” Things happen. If you think Angels fans aren’t just as disappointed and worried as Nats fans, think again.

      • texnat1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 12:06 PM

        JD, I see that perspective, and it wouldn’t break my heart to say the least.

        But I believe firmly that the Nats need a real veteran manager to run the team. My concern is that if they go on a run with Knorr (the likely choice), then Rizzo et al decide everything is fine and we are right back here next year with a player-run club and a rookie manager that the players don’t feel like they need to listen to.

        I am sufficiently worried about that possibility that I would prefer a clean break.

      • NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 12:10 PM

        jd, I’m not ready to throw the season away either. I just don’t think firing Matt Williams is the solution. I’m not sure there IS a “solution.” Let the player’s play, hopefully Rendon will get back on track, etc. etc. There is no reason we can’t play FIVE games better than the Mets over the next forty-odd games, with the rotation, lineup and bullpen that Rizzo designed. The talent is there, and with the exception of Werth, the team is not past its prime.

        I don’t know if we can sweep the Rockies in Coors. Coors is a pinball machine. But imagine we do, and imagine the Mets drop the pair in Camden Yards. The entire tenor of “Nats Collapse” would change in three days. And we have a lot more than three days to turn it around, we have six weeks!!!!

        Go Nats!

  13. NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:40 AM

    What’s frustrating to me is not taking advantage of situations where they have what I call “winnable” games — going up against inferior pitchers or inferior teams, or having the lead against tough opponents. Most teams lose to Kershaw/Greinke/Bumgarner. You may get a win (they aren’t 100-0), of course. I done’t concede them automatically, but I don’t count on those when I look at what the team SHOULD be doing. You put up Joe Ross–talented as he is–against Madison Bumgarner, and it’s not likely to happen. You put up Jordan Zimmermann against Clayton Kershaw and it’s not as much of a mismatch, but you need Kershaw to give you an opening. However, you put up Scherzer against Yohan Flande or Matt Cain, and you are supposed to win that game.

    What I count on is winning over teams like the Rockies, winning against pitchers like Vogelsong, Matt Cain, Peavey. That’s where the Nats’ talent should shine. We should have at least split the Giants’ series, and should have swept the Rockies. That’s four wins that we, in essence, gave away to inferior opponents.

    Now. The game we have tonight. Jordan Zimmermann has never lost in Coors (he’s made four starts there and is 2-0). He is slightly more of a ground ball pitcher than a fly ball pitcher, plus he can rack up the strikeouts if he needs to. So I am not afraid of JZimm in the altitude. He is experienced, tough, and to all appearances, healthy, coming off a seven-inning, one-run outing against the Dodgers.

    We’re going to see Jorge de la Rosa. He is their best pitcher, and he knows how to pitch at altitude since he grew up in Mexico City. However, he has a 6.62 ERA at home this year, and he’s a lefty. The Nats should chew up lefties and spit them out. Not so much against de la Rosa. In 2014 he won in Coors (overall he is 5-2 in nine starts against the Nats but since the composition of the team changes, I don’t like to go back more than two seasons).

    The Nats have had a day to rest and adjust to the altitude. They will put up a lineup of all righties except Bryce Harper. Harper has a walk and a hit in 6 PAs against de la Rosa. Although teams often bring in a lefty reliever to face him, against left-handed starters Bryce is hitting .292/.414/.594 with five homers — not too shabby.

    Vegas has the Nats as -146 favorites (BTW, the O’s and Mets are about even, which says Vegas likes Gausman more than I do.)

    So, before the game starts, this is what I categorize as a winnable game. That doesn’t mean we will win, it means we should win more times than not in this situation. Our boys need to take advantage of the situation.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:42 AM

      Its a good thing that I hit the REFRESH button as I was going to write – ‘It ticks me off that the Nats couldn’t win the more ‘winnable’ games. I couldn’t MadBum, Grienke and Kershaw as Ls and saw no reason why they wouldn’t beat up on the other pitchers. And then to let the Giants find their mojo against our vanted starting rotation…’

      and then go from there… lol

      • NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:48 AM

        Wait, are we twins, too?

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:49 AM

        Lately, it seems like it! 🙂

    • 9rhrssy01 - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:38 AM

      nats lady, have u ever heard of a pitcher having a loss of good mechanics like Scherzer? It seems strange;he didn’t have any long breaks(& days at the all star between starts).If it takes takes thousands, of reps to straighten them out as he said ,how would they have been lost after a half season of repeated good mechanics? I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on the matter.

      • NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 12:26 PM

        All you have to do is look at another Ace, Clayton Kershaw. Last year, the trip to Australia “destroyed” the beginning of his season–supposedly he got back problems from the long flight. Well, that certainly got fixed. This year, everyone was worried because he had a 4+ ERA in April. Again, that got fixed.

        The thing with pitching in my observation is that the margins are very small. A pitcher can be tired, hung over (yes, that happens! It happened with Scherzer in Detroit), distracted by personal problems, or even–as Strasburg is famous for–distracted by the condition of the pitcher’s mound. A small, very small change can mean a big loss of effectiveness, because major-league hitters are damn good at their jobs.

        That’s what is meant by “repeatable” mechanics, can you repeat the delivery under different circumstances, in the first inning when you are maybe amped up, in the eighth inning when you are tired, against righties/lefties, in the altitude of Coors and the cavern of Miami, in night games, in day games, when it’s hot, when it’s drizzling, etc.

        I don’t think it takes thousands of reps to straighten out mechanics if the pitcher has spent thousands of reps developing his mechanics. I think that’s what Scherzer meant. Also, I think the first bad outing, maybe even the second, he brushed off with “that happens, if it happens again, I’ll worry about it.” Well, it happened again and now he has to fix it.

        First, he has to identify the problem, usually by comparing video of the problem to video of his desired mechanics (I believe his slot dropped). Then he has to analyze why that happened (in the case of a lowered slot, it’s usually, but not always, fatigue. It’s possible this is fatigue because of the heavy workload in the first half, but he doesn’t seem to think so. Or it started when he was tired/distracted and he didn’t realize what what happening and it continued.)

        Then he has to try out a fix (or maybe more than one fix) in the bullpen, and stop, look at video, compare what he’s doing to what he WANTS to do. If it’s not fixed, re-try. Then he has to put that fix into his muscle memory. Now, he should already have a good muscle memory, because, as you point out, he’s not a newbie at this. So some of it is mental. He has to “forget” the habit he got into for a few games and “remember” what he did right.

  14. micksback1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:42 AM

    Very timely post by Mark Z. I wish he had posted this before the road trip because it was clear to this ex coach that there were serious problems of leadership in the club house after the series with the Rockies at home.

    I truly believe this season is done as far as post season is concerned. The 4 and one half gap in reality feels more like a 10 game set back for simple reality that the team is off course and not competitive any more. Does anyone honestly see anything positive at this point??

    One could make an arguement that the Nats right now are worst MLB team over the past 2 weeks hands down. The reason has nothing to do with talent. The talent is there but the team has quit on themselves and the manager whom I hold about 75% resposblie for this collapse.

    This is where Mike Rizzo is challenged in terms of not blowing the team up, but making the right choices. I see two ways the team can go right now:

    Scenario #1: Shake up and fire up this group by firing MW and bringing in a Buck Showlater type that will tell the guys, the past is the past, for next month and a half we are going to have a whole new attitude and have each others back, if a player does not buy into this, he sits. Look at how Buck handle the O’s when they were almost dead a month ago. O’s right now are playing the best ball in the AL with confidence. The problem is, there may not be such a manager out there? So, this scenario is unlikely.

    Scenario #2: Stick with MW and have a knock down drag out, involving Rizzo, Mark Lerner, MW and the team, if fists fly in the meeting, that would be a great thing, at least some passion will be shown by a group of men who look like they all need to grow a pair. Also, Rizzo needs to tell MW to start being HONEST in his post game comments and stop trying to become the number one most condenscending ahole in DC!!

    If by some miracle, they turn it around and play close to 600 ball and even if they do not make post season, that would be a positive sign and it would mean the Mets played out of their minds and earned it, instead of backing into the post season because the Nats are so pitiful.

    If this team fails to win at least 85 games, Rizzo has an easy decision with MW. I will say now, If MW is with this team in 2016 and the Nats fail to win at least 8s games, I will turn in my season tickets that I have had since 2010 and would recomend others do the same as this franchise would just be a joke at that point deceiving their fans that they care about winning.

    My prediction ( I should have taken the bet with Wonk that Nats would not win 82 games a week ago, darn it) now is 76-86

    • bowdenball - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:54 AM

      I’ll make that 82 win bet right now if you’d like, mick. 81.5, I get the over and you get the under. What are the stakes?

      • micksback1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 10:57 AM

        Let’s do it…how about a case of each other’s favorite beer? I like Corona Lights

        lol

      • NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:11 AM

        I’m taking the OVER, too. No beer, though, it puts me to sleep.

      • micksback1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:19 AM

        so NL, name your stake, this means if I win, I will get a case from Wonk and a case from you..

        life is good

        lol

      • NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:50 AM

        I will be perfectly satisfied with you losing. No more stake than that is needed!

      • bowdenball - Aug 18, 2015 at 12:35 PM

        Sure, mick. Can we just make it a payment for the cost of the beer? The logistics seem difficult to deal with but I’m happy to paypal you the retail price for a case of Corona Light if you win!

      • mauimo22 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:04 PM

        Count me in on the under 81.5, but I like wine!
        I mean, beer is so last century!

    • micksback1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 2:43 PM

      hey bowden….forget the paypal, opening day, God willing we will meet at ball park have a beer or two. yeah, I will go to the opener, whether or not I renew my package or not

  15. rlndtln - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:22 AM

    Nats problem in a nutshell.Hitting fair,fielding fair,starting pitching fair,BP poor,manager poor,record fair.81-81.

  16. stoatva - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:24 AM

    I tried Corona Light once. It had no discernible flavor. A helpful friend pointed out: It tastes like lime, if you add lime.

    • micksback1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 2:44 PM

      stoa….its a great beer with or without the lemon

  17. NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:36 AM

    You tell me, how much of this could Matt Williams have fixed with a good ass-kicking?

    • scnatsfan - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:42 AM

      We will never know. Certainly the players aren’t playing. Whether they would respond to a different leader is a question above my pay grade.

      • rlndtln - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:44 AM

        The real issue for me is if he had the horses he would screw it up.

    • jd - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:53 AM

      NL,

      Yes but please also consider Cameron’s last few paragraphs which to me say that having a bad week against the Rockies and Brewers will make a managerial change moot because it will be too late. I think he is very clearly suggesting that making a change while not a panacea is the right thing to do now.

      • NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 12:29 PM

        I don’t agree with him.

    • texnat1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:54 AM

      Who said it had to be an ass-kicking? You are over simplifying.

      When a bunch of players under perform, you might well look at the manager. Particularly when things like errors are an issue.

      But maybe your right. Maybe the best thing the Nats could do is to just eliminate the position of manager. You seem to think it irrelevant. So why not? Let Werth do it. Save the money to resign Harper or something.

      • rlndtln - Aug 18, 2015 at 12:22 PM

        The Nats are nearly as close to the Braves as the Mets.The real bet should be will the Nats hold off the Braves.

      • NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 12:28 PM

        Oh, I think Werth will do it. Eventually. I’ve thought so for a long time.

      • NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 12:42 PM

        Did you see the A’s play the O’s last night? The A’s have a good manager, very experienced. Did you see how many errors they made? They went 0-7 on their road trip and their defense was a joke.

        I actually agree with you, that the manager has a role in cleaning up errors. But, at least recently, errors haven’t been the problem. So by your theory you would have to credit Williams for cleaning that up. Escobar is better at 3B than he was–although his inexperience shows occasionally, as does Zim’s at first. Michael A is the most problematic since he has to play in a new outfield every four days, poor kid. He’s doing OK with that and I assume someone is helping him.

        There have been a couple errors, and a couple of mental errors, but nothing like the spring. The problem has been underperformance of the rotation, bullpen and lineup. We complain about Werth, but Rendon also has been terrible since he came back. Escobar has hit .250 since the All-Star break. Zim had a brief resurgence, but he’s 1-for-19 now and NO ONE (except Werth and Harper) is taking walks!!!! Ramos is a mediocre hitter but Lobaton is worse. Clint Robinson can hit but is a butcher in the field. I’m not sure what Tyler Moore is doing on the team.

    • akiterp - Aug 18, 2015 at 2:14 PM

      Doesn’t this validate Rizzo’s decision for not making a lot of moves during the off season or by the TDL

      • akiterp - Aug 18, 2015 at 2:16 PM

        the WAR table table

    • mauimo22 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:11 PM

      That WAR table says it all. Wonder how Bryce grades out?
      Take the deltas between 2014 and 2015 and there is your “blame table”.
      Bottom line these guys are making $$$ and need to put up.
      Clutch hits, few errors (Desmond), and playing tough and smart.
      Can a manager make this change?
      I blame the players!

    • Nats Fan Zee - Aug 18, 2015 at 4:14 PM

      Give Gio a raise

  18. Dee S - Aug 18, 2015 at 12:49 PM

    Maybe we should play those players wsuho successfully kept us in first place and beyond. This isn’t meant to criticize the guys talents because they really are super stars, but the substitites kept us in the race and that’s a fact. As unprecedented and unusual as this may be it’s worth a try. I would consider using Espinosa at shortstop as well. The heck with politics, protocol and political correctness. Let’s shake things up and might put us back on track. Zimmerman, Werth, Rendonh and others involved are,above all, team players and I believe they will support this plan.

  19. raleighnat - Aug 18, 2015 at 12:58 PM

    OK. I’ve been guilty of crying in my beer, but a day off helped. No more introspection. Let’s start winning ballgames today and get on a roll!

  20. natsdial8 - Aug 18, 2015 at 1:04 PM

    Slight disagreement here N-Lady- Counting on returning injured vets Z and Werth and Anthony to save the day was not a good strategy . I don’t believe the majority on this blog thought so either . It was and is apparant that’s the strategy but it is flawed . The nature of those injuries pretty much assured those guys would at the very least need many weeks if they could even salvage the season . MW playing them all at once and regularly was IMO a bad move .

    • NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 1:17 PM

      I agree in retrospect having them all in the lineup really dragged it down, but I’m not sure what else he was supposed to do once they had gone through rehab and appeared on the roster. Maybe he could have platooned Zim and Robinson more often, or Werth and Robinson? I dunno. They needed at-bats, major-league at-bats. Let Espinosa play instead of Rendon?

      The question for me will be if they have enough at-bats to now start producing.

      If not, we were never going to win no matter what Williams did. We might have made it closer, but you are not going to win pennants with the likes of Clint Robinson and Matt den Dekker. If the recovery, especially for Rendon and RZimm, is that lengthy, you have to go back to whether Rizzo should have foreseen this once the injuries started.

      • NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 1:18 PM

        And even if he did foresee it, whether he would have been allowed by the Lerners to increase payroll.

  21. natsfan1a - Aug 18, 2015 at 1:06 PM

    On a somewhat-related note (okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch), I was nattering to my husband the other day about the Bambino thing, and I had an idea. Matt doesn’t seem to want to do it, so here’s what they do. You know, for good luck. Because Bull Durham taught us that if you think it helps, it helps. Okay, so first, they all go out and get hammered. Then, they head to the ballpark (this idea might work best if the ballpark happened to be closed to the public at the time of the visit, but I digress). Then Werth runs out onto the field and gestures for the team to follow him. He says something like, “What about the Babe Ruth thing, skip? Are you gonna do it, or not? [Heck], if you won’t, I will. I’ll show you a Bambino that will knock your socks off” He then stuffs a pillow under his jersey, gestures broadly to the outfield, and calls his shot. “Look at me. Yeah, I’m the Babe, and I’m gonna hit one out. Yessiree.” (Come to think of it, maybe someone might want to pinch-hit for Werth here, and they could hit one out. I’m thinking Zimm, maybe? Eh, never mind, it’s just pantomime, anyway. Where was I? Oh, yeah.) So Werth takes a huge phantom swing, and he starts headings around the bases. “Aw-wooo! That’s what I’m talking about! Yeah, I’m the Babe, and y’all can kiss my lily-white [posterior]. Aw-wooo!!”

    texnat1 – Aug 18, 2015 at 11:54 AM

    Who said it had to be an ass-kicking? You are over simplifying.

    When a bunch of players under perform, you might well look at the manager. Particularly when things like errors are an issue.

    But maybe your right. Maybe the best thing the Nats could do is to just eliminate the position of manager. You seem to think it irrelevant. So why not? Let Werth do it. Save the money to resign Harper or something.

    NatsLady – Aug 18, 2015 at 12:28 PM

    Oh, I think Werth will do it. Eventually. I’ve thought so for a long time.

  22. NatsLady - Aug 18, 2015 at 1:10 PM

    I’m going to say one final post, then I have stuff to do.

    It may seem like I’m defending Matt Williams. I’m not. What I’m saying is we don’t know. And we certainly don’t know if changing managers two weeks before rosters expand is going to make anything better. To me, panic is never the answer. It makes clicks for people like Dave Cameron, so good for him.

    This morning I listened to a podcast where the analyst faulted Matt Williams for leaving Strickland in to give up all those homers in the playoffs. Hello, that was Bruce Bochy. Oh, and our best chance to win was in 2012 by not shutting Strasburg down. There are very, very few analysts who have a clue. I appreciate the numbers they put out, but they very often draw the wrong conclusions from the numbers because they have to have a narrative.

    (1) Expectations were way too high, as per Bozwell’s note of the 40% failure rate.
    (2) Injuries and slower than expected recovery from injuries.
    (3) An extraordinary run of simple bad luck–bad luck, for example, that on the very days when the Nats score 5 or six runs the rotation falters, or when Strasburg gives up two runs the offense staggers, etc.
    (4) I feel MW’s in-game managing directly led to one of the losses in the recent set, namely when he left Joe Ross in for the 7th inning with a 2-1 lead. I’m sure he got an earful from Rizzo on that. You could argue he shouldn’t have let Max have that extra inning when he gave up the solo homer and for a while that looked like the difference. Otherwise, the losses in what I call “winnable” games are on the players. This team is NOT the Cubs–the only rookie who plays regularly is Michael A. and he only plays one position. There is no reason they should need much “leadership” or new “visions” or any of that crap. They need to play better. Period.

    • Doc - Aug 18, 2015 at 1:21 PM

      Amen, NL!

      And guys that stepped up too late, or didn’t step up at all, i.e. Ramos are part of this season’s troubling saga.

      • nattygoats - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:14 PM

        Ramos plays like he’s 48 years old. Without a doubt my least favorite player. With Werth a close 2 nd

    • Section 222 - Aug 18, 2015 at 2:01 PM

      Well put. Leadership, shmedership. Unless by leadership you mean someone (actually several someones) have to step up and put the team on his (or preferably their) backs and win some games.

      But we all knew that and it doesn’t make for a very good story.

  23. bisonaudit - Aug 18, 2015 at 1:15 PM

    Yeah, for the leadership narrative.

    This is so not a real thing. It’s a label we put on people after the fact. Leadership isn’t an attribute that people actually possess in identifiable quantities before a thing happens. It’s not a skill.

    This is just a set up to crown someone a hero or a goat seven weeks from now when this team either makes the playoffs or doesn’t.

  24. chaz11963 - Aug 18, 2015 at 2:05 PM

    This has nothing at all to do with leadership, lack of urgency, lack of heart, blah, blah, blah… It’s easy to be frustrated and say those kinds of things. The reality IMO is well outlined by bowdenball and NL above- they have suffered significant injuries and some under-performance. They bet heavy on the injured guys returning and producing. That only led to mostly more under-performance. I think I am most disappointed in the pitching. we were concerned about the offense and bullpen at the beginning of the season, but felt the strong starting pitching would carry us through any rough patches. That didn’t happen.

    • micksback1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 2:52 PM

      however, through the injuries, reserves more than stepped up, Clint and Michael and Espi. while that was happening, the players who were not injured really stunk, Desi for one and Werth and Zim even before they were injured. Through all that, the Nats managed to rise has high as 10 over 500 and the bottom line at the end of the day is…

      Nats were 3 up on Mets, 8 over 500 when 3 key starters returned, one which played above anyone’s expectaions RZim whe the collpase began!!! There is no injury excuse for this whatsoever. If this crappy play had occurred while Werth, Rendon, Span and R Zim and Stras were out, then a great case could be made for injuries. There is NO excuse for this other than team turmoil, players losing respect for each other and MLB’s worst manager MW, and the TERRIBLE bedside manner MW and Rizzo have had with players who play well and those who have stunk, PERIOD

      Injuries have zero to do with the past 2 and half weeks!

      • chaz11963 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:25 PM

        mick, you can’t expect these guys to immediately perform at a high level. I think they are still coming back, it takes time. At least one (Rendon) may still be injured.

      • micksback1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:27 PM

        true but would one expect the team to perform at the current level?

      • chaz11963 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:33 PM

        Yes, I think they bet heavy on the team performing at a higher level quicker, and they lost that bet. I probably would have done the same thing and expected a higher level of performance sooner.

  25. bleacherbumerik - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:07 PM

    I would just like to know why becoming a MLB manager requires no experience. It is a hard job, and teams are continuing to hire people with no experience in managing. Matt Williams was in over his head from Day 1. That falls on Mike Rizzo. Leadership on most teams comes from the guy in charge, and the Nats are not getting that from him. I may not be able to tell you how or why a manager is a leader, but you just know it when you see it…and 99 times out of 100, those guys have been around the block a time or two and are not still trying to figure out what they are doing. LaRussa, Bochy, Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick, Joe Gibbs here in DC, Joe Torre, Gregg Popovich, Coach K, Nick Saban, etc. All of these guys seem to have a lot in common, most notably, (except for Gibbs) a whole lot of experience by the time they won anything. This team needed a Joe Maddon and not a Matt Williams.

    • micksback1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:14 PM

      I hear ya bro and agree. The only defense of the MW hire (I can not believe I am defending Curly) is that one could say that every Gibbs, LaRussa had to start somewhere inexperinced. However, in many of these cases, they started with teams that had no where near the talents level of this team.Exception was Gibss who took the team to aWorld championship in 82 after going 8-3 to finish the 81 season ona strong note. Also, you got the feeling that those managers, coaches, etc.. knew what they were doi9ng and that the players responded to them. In MW’s case, it is clear to anyone who is not a blind homer that MW has lost this team.

      Also, Rizzo knew MW from his days back in Zona. I get that. But, Mike has to know now, that this hire was the biggest mustake he has made as GM. He needs and will rectify it, after this season comes to a merciful end!

      • bleacherbumerik - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:33 PM

        It is a big problem when Clint Robinson and Michael Taylor or more valuable than Zimmerman, Werth, or Rendon…all of whom Rizzo made foundations of this franchise. These guys are a walking infirmary, and in the cases of Zimmerman and Rendon, the warning signs should have been there. They had better go out and get at least 2 decent bats in the offseason, because they certainly can’t count on any of these guys being healthy. At the very least, Werth has to become the 4th OF next season. Staying healthy is a skill, and these guys don’t have it.

    • natsdial8 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:29 PM

      +1 – this team was ready to win and the smart money said hire a veteran Skipper. Mike went the other way and may have lost an opportunity in this particular window . We will most certainly turn over several players next season and should be competitve for a while.

  26. nattygoats - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:11 PM

    MW is a complete bafoon. Last year he benched Bryce for not hustling to first. Few weeks ago Ramos stood and watched as he thought he had a HR. He ended up with a single. MW did nothing. He is an absolute dolt who is too arrogant to know he stinks.

    • micksback1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:15 PM

      well said natty, glad you said it and not me

      lol

    • micksback1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:22 PM

      I thought I heard MW yell in the dugout “Moe, Larry, the cheese”

      lol

  27. sec112 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:13 PM

    If the difference between a 96 win team and whatever we have now (for the record, I’d guess 87 or 88 wins) is that this one lacks “leadership”, then who was the leader last year (detwiler – Clippard – maybe Cabrera)? What changes did Matt Williams make in his managerial style that changed created those appallingly cratered WAR results posted earlier? It’s so tempting to complain about leadership (which I actually believe IS a skill – but is not one that translates easily to a professional baseball squad other than retrospectively) and about the manager, because the results seem inexplicable and we want an explanation (it’s human nature – and it’s why we divide ourselves into different religions and political parties – we hunger for a way to explain what isn’t as we think it should be).

    I don’t think MW is a great manager. But then I didn’t think Joe Torre was one either (neither with the Mets nor with the Yankees). The players play the games. Dizziness made a bet that the rising younger players would improve more rapidly than the older players would decline. Due in part to injury (which accelerated declines and stunted growth in the cases of Stras and Rendon) and in part to earlier than typical declines from mid-career players like Zimmermann, Desmond and Fister, he seems to have lost the bet. The season is not over – and the Mets, having gone all in with three young arms that should probably not be pitching two or three weeks from now, are more likely to fade than not. So – there is still a chance for the returning players to perform at a level more consistent with where their career arcs would suggest (in my view, the biggest mystery is Rendon, who I don’t recall ever having a bad at bat before but who now looks lost at the plate, which really makes me wonder if he’s OK), and if they do, this will go down to the last week and perhaps the final series.

    I suspect that if it does, the team with several decent veteran options who have pitched 200ish innings before will be in a better position to win than the one with three spent young guns.

    It is more likely than not that the Nats will play better in the coming weeks – but it won’t be because a leader emerges (although that is inevitably what will be written in the media narrative) or Matt Williams suddenly becomes a tough guy who chews out his players and tells the truth in press conferences. It will be because if they aren’t still hurt, Werth, Zimmerman and (in my view most importantly) Rendon will start to play closer to where their career trajectories (adjusted by injury) suggest they should be playing. Oh – and Span too!

    • sec112 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:18 PM

      Dizziness! I corrected that twice and it autocorrected back on me both times!

      “Rizzo” made a bet on rising arcs exceeding declining ones and appears, thus far, to have lost.

    • micksback1 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:18 PM

      FYI:

      everyone has forgotten that Torre took the 1982 Braves to the West division title. the Braves had been terrible since 1970 and Torre took that squad to the NLCS. they lost to eventual World Series Champs Cards that year.

      Torre had a fall out with then owner Ted Turner

      • sec112 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:30 PM

        Interestingly

      • sec112 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:33 PM

        Or maybe NL MVP Dale Murphy led that team to the postseason (with 89 wins by the way), with help from a career year for Bob Horner and a strong season from Phil Neikro. Oh – and interestingly, the hapless manager he replaced was Bobby Cox. What ever happened to that guy?

    • chaz11963 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:31 PM

      I think that’s right. Players have to perform. As a team, the Nats have not performed consistently at a high level this year (Bryce aside). There are reasons for that and it has nothing to do with leadership. However, they now have an opportunity in the next 45 games to step up and change the course of the season.

  28. nattygoats - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:16 PM

    They broke up the Nats family when they traded clipboard and brought in the cancer closer from Philthy.

  29. nattygoats - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:17 PM

    Clippard

  30. 9rhrssy01 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:30 PM

    Thanks to nats lady for the insightful comment to my question re Scherzer

    • sec112 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:35 PM

      +1

      That kind of post (and the one on 2014 vs 2015 WAR) is why I come here.

  31. 9rhrssy01 - Aug 18, 2015 at 3:44 PM

    Likewise!

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

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