Thursday, May 26, 2011

The good, the bad, the ugly

US Presswire photo
Ian Desmond has committed just one error in his last 24 games.
It's an off-day for the Nationals, and it comes at a good time for a club stuck in a five-game losing streak at the end of a dismal, 1-7 road trip through New York, Baltimore and Milwaukee.

Perhaps the best thing the Nats can do right now is take a day off, take their minds off baseball for 24 hours and return to the park tomorrow rested and ready for a weekend series with the Padres (owners of the NL's worst record).

And while they do that, this seems like an opportune time to delve deeper into the numbers. Let's take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly with the Nationals right now...

THE GOOD: Jayson Werth is heating up at the plate. Over his last 11 games, he's hitting .366 with six extra-base hits and a 1.057 OPS. For the month, he's hitting .293 with a .381 on-base percentage and .869 OPS.

THE BAD: After a hot stretch to open the season, Tom Gorzelanny is struggling. The left-hander sports a 7.63 ERA over his last three starts, having put a whopping 33 men on base in 15 1/3 innings. He's also served up six homers in that span.

THE UGLY: Nationals batters have struck out 399 times (second-worst in the majors). In 29 percent of those cases, they've struck out looking. That's well above the league average of 24 percent. Their worst culprits at watching strike three sail by: Wilson Ramos (42 percent), Werth (43 percent), Alex Cora (45 percent), Matt Stairs (55 percent).

THE GOOD: Ian Desmond has been near-flawless at shortstop in recent weeks. After committing seven errors in his first 20 games, he's been charged with only one over his last 24 games.

THE BAD: Sean Burnett has struggled so far this season, posting a 5.60 ERA. He's been even less effective when you consider the runs he's allowed that haven't been charged to him. Fifty percent of Burnett's inherited runners (8 of 16) have scored. Prior to this year, he had allowed only 24 percent of inherited runners to score in his career.

THE UGLY: The Nationals' bench was supposed to be much improved this season. It hasn't been so far. Pinch-hitters are now 7-for-54 with one double and two RBI. That equates to a .447 OPS.

THE GOOD: In 11 appearances since a brief stint on the DL, Todd Coffey has an 0.71 ERA, a .174 batting average against and a 14-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. And he hasn't allowed any of his six inherited runners to score.

THE BAD: The Nationals are scoring an average of 3.9 runs per game. Throw out Friday night's 17-run explosion against the Orioles, though, and that number drops to 3.6 runs per game.

THE UGLY: The Nats' first batter of the game has successfully reached base eight times in 49 games this season. The first batter's slugging percentage is .167. Its OPS is .330.


Anonymous said...

Mark, I just read Boswell's column concerning a lot of "dugout drama." Isn't this a symptom of a ball club in serious distress? Also, it took sportscasters on the 5:30 MASN show to point out that, at this point in the season last year, the Nats were 25-24, and we know how last season ended. In the Nats' "new and improved 2011 season," they are now 21-28, mired in last place, 9 games out of first. Where's the silver lining in all this? What happened to the expected .500 season?

Steve M. said...

THE UGLY: The Nats' first batter of the game has successfully reached base eight times in 49 games this season. The first batter's slugging percentage is .167. Its OPS is .330.

But how has that changed with Bernadina's call up?

DCJohn said...

My wife and I are going to Hagerstown this weekend to see Bryce Harper. Bought the tickets, reserved the hotel room, and plan to spend the holiday in Western Maryland. My son refuses to see the Phillies, too one sided. So, I'll go by myself. This time next month, we'll probably be gooing to Woodbridge to see Bryce play there. I imagine when Bryce gets within 50 miles of DC, there will be articles in the paper about attendance at Potomac Nationals games and DC. I haven't given up on the season for the Nationals because Ithink that they are very cabable of running off a seven or eight game winning streak, but the cyclinders are not clicking. My bet is that the Nationals are going to go after Albert or Prince, big time this off season. So, the money that I would be spending on Nats tickets is going for gas to see the future. Next, year is when I plan to get a robust season ticket package

Anonymous said...

Hey DC John! If you REALLY expect the Nats to make all that improvement by next year, you better order your Nats season tickets THIS year! And I'm sure you look good in your new "rose-colored glasses," too!

Grandstander said...

Since getting called back up on May 7, Bernadina is slashing .229/.289/.300 (.589 OPS).

When that's an improvement, you've got serious issues as a ball club.

UNTERP.NAT said...

It's all my fault?

HHover said...

Anonymous @ 10:56

Well, I don't think the more realistic predictions were for a .500 season this year--personally, I thought 74 wins were reasonable and would be a decent improvement over last year. Even after this horrid road trip, the team is still on a pace to match last year's 69 wins--remember that they started off hot in 2010 but then really stunk things up afterwards. I'm still hoping 74 wins is possible.

Steve M - Bernadina's overall #s this year aren't that great: .247/.304/.329. I know that includes some non-lead-off appearances, but he's really gone cold in the last 10 games, when he has mainly batted lead off--BA of .200, with 1 BB and 12 Ks.

Cwj said...

Here's a wacky thought: Try Werth at leadoff.
Why not?
He can get on base, and his baserunning skills are underrated.
Of course, that wont happen (and probably shouldn't), but this Team needs a leadoff hitter.

Unanonymous said...

Maybe Werth could bat #s 1-5? The game would go much faster because he'd already be at the plate from striking out looking the last time up...

It's a joke. Not a negative coment.

fpcsteve said...

Here is one that isn't good, bad, or ugly--Danny Espinosa. He has apparently done a lot of great things in the field. And he has driven in runs. But that .200 BA is worrisome. A mixed bag to date...

Steve M. said...

2 of Mark's 3 UGLY observations fall squarely on Stares.

Rizzo has to take a huge share of the blame. He didn't construct a team of the best 25. At a point where the weak links were showing, he didn't make changes.

Riggleman doesn't have much to work with in later innings as the bench is a geriatric group in baseball terms. The lefties in the bullpen aren't doing the job.

The other thing clearly is the LaRoche and RZimmerman injuries. You knew after a while that would start to show in the W/L column.

Riggleman's change in philosphy moving away from hit & run, double steals, suicide squeeze, "small ball" to conservative is the other huge change. What happened to the aggressiveness?

Steve M. said...

Grandstander said... Since getting called back up on May 7, Bernadina is slashing .229/.289/.300 (.589 OPS).

When that's an improvement, you've got serious issues as a ball club. May 26, 2011 11:10 AM

The numbers aren't great on paper but his intangibles of what he can do on the basepaths and in the field and his aggressive play is what this team needs. He lost 2 hits in the past week on that foot on the plate bunt, and that bloop where Livan was forced off 2nd. Those 2 greatly change his BA and OBP as his sample size is still small.

Not making excuses, but so far he is the best leadoff the Nats have paraded out there.

Still, this is Rizzo's problem. How do you know you are getting rid of Nyjer without a Plan B?

Cwj said...

Unanonymous- hahaha! :)

DFL said...

For the immediate, Bixler needs to be sent to Syracuse and Aubrey sent up to replace him. For the future, at the trade deadline(or earlier, if possible), Marquis, Lannan and Gorzelanny should be put on the block. They will not be part of a championship rotation unless Marquis is willing to take a huge pay cut to stay as a back end starter. Marquis for Bret Gardner would be an outstanding swap for the Nats if they can pull it off.

Cwj said...

Some OBPs for Nats hitters:
For comparison, the MLB avg OBP is .319

Bernadina- .303
Nix- .333
Werth- .350
Hairston- .312
Desmond- .259, ouch!)
Espinosa- .301
Morse- .303
Ramos- .339 (higher than I thought)
Pudge- .256

JD said...


That trade is not happening. Marquis is not better than the pitchers currently in the Yankees rotation and he is exactly the type of pitcher they usually leave off their playoff roster. I don't see any of the guys you mention fetching front line talent; I would do the trades anyway for low level talent and payroll relief.


Desmond is performing at replacement levels; the first thing you have to do is get him the heck out of the top of the batting order; move Werth and everyone else up 1 and put Desmond in the 8th hole.

DFL said...

In addition, La Roche should be written off for the season with Morse, Nix and Aubrey getting the LF/IB at bats depending on who's hot between the last two(Morse plays full time). Matt Stairs should be dropped. Alex Cora should be dropped and Tug Hulett brought up.

Grandstander said...

I wasn't trying to bash Bernadina, someone asked what he was doing since getting called up and I answered. I like Bernadina a lot, actually. I like that he creates problems for pitchers when he gets on base, interrupting their rhythm and drawing throws. Dude is fast too.

I think everyone knew going into this season there were a lot of question marks going into this season. A pretty good spring led us to believe some of those have been answered. But like always, this team just can't seem to put it all together. Just as the offense starts to heat up and Morse and Werth are mashing the ball, the bottom of the lineup, which had been the lone source of production all season long goes limp and the pitching falls apart.

You can definitely make the case the Nats should release Stares and bring up Aubrey, who is red hot right now (12 for his last 30 with 2 doubles and 5 homers). I wonder how much talk, if any, there has been about it. Seems to make sense to me. I thought he was gonna be released after that DH stint in Bmore.

Grandstander said...

Marquis for Bret Gardner would be an outstanding swap for the Nats if they can pull it off.

If you were Brian Cashman, would you make that trade? While we're at it, why don't we trade Cora for Cano.

JD said...


He would have been if LaRoche wasn't injured. I wouldn't get too excited about Aubrey and Hullet; these are career minor leaguers; I doubt they are even on the 40 men roster.

fpcsteve said...

What's the win with Hulett over Cora? He is a career minor-leaguer. At least Cora is a major leaguer with a proven track record. At 28 Hulett isn't even a young guy. Just wondering...

Anonymous said...

I assume Pudge is still adjusting to being a part-time player and he never gets to hit against LHP (who he hits well against)those are reserved for Ramos. If it was my choice I would have him catch Livo, Marquis and Zimmermann, he seems to get the best out of them. That is until he is shoved out the door.

Cwj said...

Yeah Grandstander I thought it was a given that Stairs would be released (or asked to retire) after the Baltimore series.
I really don't know why he's still here. Makes zero sense to me.

S.U. Sasskuash said...

Steve M.- I agree with the Stairs comment. CUT MATT STAIRS TODAY. I would rather have 24 men on the roster than watch him stare at a fastball down the middle for strike 3 (when he's supposed to be a fastball hitter, by the way) one more time. I'd rather the bat boy take a few hacks. At least we wouldn't have to pinch run for the bat boy the few times he does take a walk. The man is too old and too out of shape to play baseball anymore just cut him loose.

While Rizzo did not assemble a strong bench, I don't think Riggleman should be off the hook. He has shown an irrationally strong preference for veterans who have 'put in their time' even if they cannot play. Matt Stairs should never have made the team, but he's so old that Rizzo couldn't send him to the retirement home where he belongs. Same with 39 y/o Hairston. It was the same story when Riggleman refused to play Desmond because Guzman had played long enough that it didn't matter that he sucked at baseball. Rizzo may have traded Alberto Gonzalez, but I believe Riggleman's desire to keep Hairston and Stairs had a strong influence in that decision. Gonzalez would have performed well at 3B while Zimmerman was hurt if he were not traded- probably better than the Hairston/Cora combo we've had the last few weeks.

Riggleman also makes terrible personnel decisions. His obsession with the double switch is irrational and loses this team baseball games.

You can put a lot of blame on Rizzo for this ball club's poor bench, but I believe his overall management of the whole organization has been commendable and I think he has us going in the right direction. When Strasburg comes back, we'll have an intimidating starting rotation; when Zim and Harper are playing in this lineup our 2-6 (Espinosa, Zim, Werth, Harper and Ramos in some order) could be terrifying for opposing pitchers; and our bullpen is young and very strong with legit options to fill in any holes at AA and AAA. That's a future I am excited to watch develop. I just hope the next step in the right direction is not renewing Riggleman's contract at the end of the year.

Cwj said...

Some Batting Averages. Amazingly, the MLB avg is a mere .250

Bernadina- .247 (only 73 AB though)
Nix- .306
Werth- .254
Hairston- .248
Desmond- .230
Espinosa- .200
Morse- .281
Ramos- .255 (slowly going down)
Pudge- .205

Cwj said...

I'll try to find some more interesting stats later today.

Anonymous said...

Mark, I'd like some explanation from Riggs and Rizzo as to why Henry Rodriguez is now seen as a guy to be put into crucial situations, when just a couple of short weeks ago, he was considered too risky. What's changed? A couple of okay outings in Baltimore in non-pressure situations?

I think the decision to put Rodriguez into the Tuesday Milwaukee game turned the game into a loss, particularly after Burnett got Prince Fielder out so easily. And the decision was not called out by anyone to the degree it should have been, in my opinion. If Clippard or Storen fail, fine, we've ridden them to much success and these guys are human -- but Rodriguez has not shown an ability to throw strikes at a consistent level sufficent to keep him in the major leagues, let alone as someone to be put out there when the game is on the line. And I'm not going to criticize Riggs for this alone, because I think Rizzo shares the blame. Rodriguez has been sold like snake oil since they traded Willingham for him. His velocity is much touted, but if he doesn't get the ball over the plate and walks .188 hitters or pitches his way into counts where he has to put the ball down the center of the plate, his velocity means nothing. Its been apparent to me from the first time I saw Rodriguez in Spring Training that he's nothing more than this year's Jesus Colome. I would like an explanation from Nats management what they see in this guy.

Cwj said...

Raymitten- I'm not quite ready to give up on H.Rodriguez. He's only pitched 10.2 innings so far, only given up 7 hits and has 16(!) Ks.
BUT he also has 7 walks, which is a lot.

I agree he needs more time pitching in non-crucial situations before moving up into the later innings.

Burnett seems to be misused lately. He's very capable of pitching a full inning if given the chance.

Steve M. said...

S.U. Sasskuash said... While Rizzo did not assemble a strong bench, I don't think Riggleman should be off the hook. He has shown an irrationally strong preference for veterans who have 'put in their time' even if they cannot play.

I often wondered if it was Riggleman who likes the vets or that is all he has?

At the end of March, my bench was Bernadina, Alberto Gonzalez, Laynce Nix, Wilson Ramos, and Jerry Hairston. See, NO Matt Stairs. How could I have been so right about that guy. What a waste of a roster spot and key situations.

My bullpen was Gaudin (long guy), Burnett, Storen, Clippard, Detwiler, Coffey, and Ballester. While I was wrong about Gaudin and was back and forth on Ballester and Broderick and neither worked well. I think I was very right on the bullpen being the place for Detwiler. Rizzo should have KO'd Broderick quicker or traded for him to send him to Syracuse.

I suggested trading Lannan in Spring Training for a player like Lorenzo Cain and I still see Lannan as nothing more than a 5th starter on a mediocre team so he should have been traded while his "stock" was high. Now he looks like the old inconsistent John Lannan as does Tom Gorzelanny.

Biggest problem (besides the injuries) was that Rizzo's plan B for CF after ditching Nyjer was light hitting Rick Ankiel. Not only did Rizzo not have a prototypical leadoff guy, he had weak hitting Ankiel.

The team is actually constructed well when Zim gets back if Werth and Morse can keep smacking the ball.

1) Bernadina
2) Werth
3) Zim
4) Nix
5) Morse
6) Espinosa
7) Ramos
8) Desmond

So Zim is hopefully on tract to return in 3 weeks and this team has to go on a run. Of course, the schedule makers don't make it easy because after San Diego this weekend is the Phillies then a long West Coast swing.

HHover said...

S.U. Sasskuash - This yr's #s, to put things in perspective:

Hairston: .248/.312/.357
Gonzalez: .197/.242/.262

So, yeah, I'm ok that we have Hairston and that Gonzalez will be wearing the visiting team's uniform this weekend.

About Stairs--yes, his performance has been poor, but I'm surprised at the level of venom towards him. If they released him, who would they call up? Not Tug Hulett. Not Chris Marrero, as long as Morse stays hot and doesn't completely screw up at 1B. Maybe he goes when Zim comes back.

The sad truth is there's no huge well of talent down in the minors that Stairs is blocking, and his eventual departure isn't going to make much of a difference.

DFL said...

Why drop Cora for Hulett? Cora will not be with the team next year. Why not see whether Hulett might be a useful utilityman? His father was a pretty good utilityman back in the 80s and 90s.

As for Gardner, of course only injuries to pitching will get the Yankees to contemplate trading him for pitching. Yet it is interesting that the Yankees are playing Andruw Jones more often(two homers yesterday)these days. If Gardner is losing so much playing time to someone thought washed up, might the Yankees not value Gardner as highly as other teams might?

Bowdenball said...

Like I've said before, talking about this season without putting the Zimmerman injury front and center doesn't make a lot of sense. They lost the one guy they could least afford to lose. If you didn't suspect that the season might look like this the minute you heard he was out for 6+ weeks, you're more optimistic than I am.

DFL- if the Yankees don't value Gardner as highly as other teams might, they can get more for him than Jason Marquis. Gardner is under contract until 2014.

PAY TO PLAY said...

Funny how bad things get for teams out there. Jorge De La Rosa to Tommy John surgery. Chris Young to season ending should surgery. Matt Garza 9 starts and on the DL.

How bad would things have been if the Nats picked up one of those guys?

Anonymous said...

Wonder if Pudge gets left behind on our trip out west when Buster Posey gets his X-rays back on his leg. Does he have a no-trade clause? I don't really want him to go, but I would like him to reach 3000 hits sooner rather than later. And if we can get something back for him all the better. Wouldn't be surprised to see Bengie Molina come out of retirement to take that opening.

Unkyd said...

Posted late on yesterday's gamethread:

Right with you, JD! Attempting to buy a championship, is a fools errand. Assembling expensive talent, locks management into decisions which may end up to be counterproductive, and most importantly, forfeits the fallback of depth, in two ways: You blow up your budget, meaning you can't afford to get out from under longterm deals with underperforming, or injured players. And secondly, you strip your farm bare, both through trading prospects for bigtime vets, and through the loss of compensatory picks, when signing bigtime FAs. If your plan necessitates buying 1-2 pitchers, and 2-3 position players, you might, with luck, enjoy a year or two of serious contention, before diminishing returns sink your chances, and you need to go shopping again...without as much cash on hand. Much more sensible to develop 90% of your team, and THEN go find the piece or two that puts you over the top.

Regarding the tenor of this blog: I'm new here, and have never posted on any sports blog, prior to this years ST. Also, I have long been considered "relentlessly optimistic", by those who know me. I was born with this condition, and I realize it's very difficult to develop, otherwise. Consequently, I've never expected everyone else to be the same way. Virtually all of the naysayers here, make valid points: Seven years may have been a little long to reach this stage of mediocrity...ya gotta lay most of that at the Learners feet- the buck stops here, right...You are what your record is, so it's not unreasonable to suggest that Riggs may not have the ability to take this team, even improved through '12, to the 
championship level. Rizzo and the youngsters are open books... We just don't know about them, so no opinion is necessarily invalid. And so on... I hope the positive folk here, don't begrudge the opinions of the less positive.

The frustrating part is the very small minority,  who beat a particular drum, on a more or less daily basis, pointing the finger of blame at this aspect of the organization, or some other, in such a way that it's easy to infer that the rest of us are to be considered ignorant, or stupid, for disagreeing. Whether or not the implication exists or not, is beside the point: when your tone dismisses dissent, that is the message you send. And even most of the less positive have positive observations... It really seems to be only 2 or 3 trolls who stir up the intra-thread animosity. Deal with them how you will. It's probably wisest to ignore them, but I prefer to gently tease, hopefully without offending, hoping to get them to chuckle at the mirror, once in a while. 

Thanks, Ernie, for putting me on your short list! It's nice to be singled out for being interesting and upbeat. I'm convinced that my late Mom smiled at that, which is something I strive for :) 

And I learned something new, here: Godwin! Googled it... Interesting observation...

Please forgive me if I post this again, on another thread... I frequently seem to be close to the last post, and I'd like most of you to see this (yes...vanity! Forgive me, for I have sinned... :)...)

CBinDC said...

It appears to be a huge disconnect on the issue of payroll and available players.

One thing the Nationals do not need is payroll relief they have had that for 7 years plus and the inclusion of the Fetalnom and the Phenom in payroll metrics is premature. They were paid high for draft pick rookies but in the grander picture cheap by comparison.

The owners have created the impression that they are cheap by the very nature of how they discuss and what they want to take credit for in paying players.

When you use all the people WHO DID NOT sign as examples of increasing their commitment you are just feeding the cheap impression. But when you find out that really they have not spent more then it is hard to defend the high commitment point.

Yes it is hard to spend money that people will not take no matter how much the amount.

The area that seems to be troubling is not getting middle line players who cost something but are in total better then looking for diamonds and winning lotto tickets and the last bit of toothpaste.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Unkyd. While you speak with "eloquence," professional sports is what it is (i.e., "winning is everything"), and I would HAPPILY "enjoy a year or two of serious contention" over the perennial "cellar dwellers" we've had for years! Word up! Sincerely, Your Friend, the Troll

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

When Werth signed, part of the news was that they told him they'd be signing more players. I can't believe he was thinking of Laynce Nix, Alex Cora, and Matt Stairs in that conversation.

That seems like the obvious part, to me.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind, I believe the Z-Man's contract is up in 2013. If you read between the lines when the Z-man talks, he may leave da Capital (DC) for the "Bright Lights and Big City" of a contending team! "Mr. Franchise" wants his World Series ring, and can you blame him? So enjoy him while he is here because the Z-man will jettison the Nats once he becomes an FA and the Nats continue to hold up the NL East.

Mousy McMouse said...


CBinDC said...

Unkyd, you should have seen the message board on the Nationals website a few years ago. They have since cleaned up a lot of trolls but the negative lives on. The Posts journal comments section has been infected with a troll or trolls for a least a year now and they seem unable to do anything about it. Negative is one thing just plain snark and derision is another.

Anonymous said...

When you disagree with the "happy talkers" on this message board, you're instantly labeled derisively as a "Troll." Gee, guys, what happened to "Freedom of Expression?" Is that freedom only reserved for YOU?!?!?

CBinDC said...

Anon 2:27pm

Ahh did you just not express yourself and were free in doing so ? So guess that part is alive and well ....I know the issue is a lack of respect regardless if it is a anon or much of sports talk has been distorted by the Jim Romes and Collin Cowherds of the world.

Cwj said...

CBinDC- Interesting that you bring up Jim Rome.
I use to listed to his syndicated radio show on AM 980 years ago. Fortunately I came to my senses.
He and his callers absolutely loved the "that team sucks" way of analyzing Teams rather than mention the "why and how to fix it" based on stats and other helpful info.

Anon- It isn't that positive outlook fans are deriding negative outlook fans simply because they are negative.
It's the way they express their negativity that ticks off those of us who would rather have a losing team than none at all (ie a happy talker)
NOT saying you are one of them.

Anonymous said...

It may be time for the club to shift Espinosa to SS, where his glove is better, play a platoon at 2B and get Desmond back on the farm to figure his game out. Ian is avoiding mistakes at SS recently, which is great, but he's still not very good there and his bat is simply awful right now. He's killing the club in the 2 hole every night.

Cwj said...

Anon 2:53- Not a bad idea. Or simply switch them at positions without having Desmond platoon.
I still think Desmond's bat will come around.
Espinosa would be awesome at SS.

Bowdenball said...

Did the last two posters, especially the 2:53 poster, miss the last couple weeks, or the last couple months of last season? Desmond has actually been hitting pretty well of late. He's had multiple hits in four of the last six games and an extra-base hit in four of the last five. And he started slow and finished strong last year as well. In other words, he's already starting to come around, and there's every reason to believe it will based on last season.

Of course needs to learn the strike zone and how to work counts and take walks. But I'd rather see him do that against pitchers with major-league control instead of AAA control, while working with Espinosa on what we hope will be our double-play combo for many years to come. Going down to AAA does him no good- it's not like he's a new arrival in the majors who is at risk of being overwhelmed- and is no good for the ballclub, because there's nobody waiting to take his place who represents an upgrade.

Switching them does make some sense, though, considering Espinosa's arm. I'm sure they considered it, and I have no idea why they ruled it out. I'd love to see a real, thoughtful answer to this question from Riggleman or Rizzo.

CBinDC said...

Those of you who Ken Beatrice the man who started sports talk in DC with Sports Call.
While at times his sports geek manner of handling questions could wear you out, he was at least kind and seemed interested in talking to you..he even said you could call him after and before the show just to ask that to the current callers are jerks or unless you agree with me you are cut off and then demeaned whien you can not respond that passes for talk radio today.

UNTERP.NAT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
UNTERP.NAT said...

Since I’m one of the always negative posters quite possibly no one will hear anything I have to say whether it’s the truth or not. First of all, I’m too old to care what anyone thinks of me; it’s like water off my back. Perhaps I am angry, obnoxious, and crazy, which a few of you have cast me as. Be that as it may, the reason I am so angry, obnoxious, and crazy is for one particular reason, I do not see a plan in place by the Nationals that makes me think that this organization is in any better shape than they were six years ago. The Nationals have two players in the minors as far as I am concerned that have a future at the ML level and you know who they are. Besides that, as of right now I don’t see any other players coming along who are in the Majors other than Ramos, Desmond (who many disparaged), and Espinosa all of which are yet to be determined. Statistics aside which many of you bring to the party and you don’t need everyone to explain what is wrong or right about this baseball team. The only stat that means anything to me in any professional sport are Ws or Ls. This is the stat I can look at which tells me all I need to know. The Nationals have finished last in the NL East each year since their arrival in 2005. If I am negative it is because I don’t see any immediate or distant hope that the Nationals will finish any better than they seem destined to finish this season compared to all the previous. Do I see improvement? Marginal. And I will continue to support the Nationals even if they finish last for the next decade. But if I appear angry, or crazy, or obnoxious, it isn’t because I lack passion. It is because I have passion, and I hate to lose…

Cwj said...

Unterp- Yeah losing really sucks and this current 5 game slide has really worn me out.
But they will eventually go on a winning streak. We haven't seen it yet this year but it happens to every team every season.

I never thought of you as obnoxious, though I seem to always disagree with you on just about everything :)

Unkyd said...

Anon 1:48... We agree to disagree, methinks. I'd far rather have a team which contends most of the time, at the cost of a few years mediocrity on the front end, than sell that for 2-3 years of contention, followed by starting from scratch. The odds of winning it all go up, obviously, the more years you are good.

Trolls, as I understand the term, are folks who simply like to stir the pot, to jack up the emotion of a discussion by strenuously disagreeing with frequent posters.
From urban dictionary:
One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument."

As I said there are not many who answer that description, here. Plenty of disagreement...that's why it's fun! But, anyone who has very little to say, that isn't negative, or even derogatory, well it just makes me wonder what, if any, joy they take from participation...and if none why bother?

Cwj said...

Unkyd- Agreed.
But there were plenty who fit the "Troll" definition posting after yesterday's game.
They seem to have gone back into hiding after Mark Z's post though.

Bowdenball said...


I appreciate your passion. But if you don't mind, I'd like to address your arguments in support of your negativity.

If all you care about is wins and losses and have no use for statistics, how do you know whether there's any prospects in the system who are any good? Do you have teams of scouts in Vermont, Hagerstown, Harrisburg, Potomac, Harrisburg and Syracuse reporting to you directly? People don't ignore you or discount you solely because you're so negative. It's also because you make arguments that contradict each other and make no sense.

Also- TWO major league ready prospects? Seriously? You don't like Norris, AJ Cole or Solis even though many experts like them a lot? You don't like Brad Peacock, who is 6-1 season (the only stats you care about, in your own words) with a 2.05 ERA and a surreal K/BB ratio in AA?

No other players at the major league level coming along other than Ramos, Desmond and Espinosa? First of all, that's not bad. You realize that combined with Zimmerman, Harper and Werth, that's 3/4ths of an NL starting lineup, right? And what about Zimmermann? Or Storen? Or Hernandez? Or some little-known guy who had a cup of coffee with the big-league club named Strasburg?

It's not that you're negative- it's that you're negativity strains the bounds of reality. You contradict yourself and you ignore the obvious.

I'm not just trying to give you a hard time. I'm trying to give you the hope for the future that many of your fellow posters have. We're certainly not sure they're gonna turn this team into winners in 2013 or so, but there are many things to like that you seem to ignore.

Unkyd said...

Unterp. Cranky, but cool.... Never called me names...yet :)

Bowdenball said...

That should be "Rodriguez," as in Henry, not "Hernandez." Sorry.

UNTERP.NAT said...

Bowdenball said...

I'm not ignoring anything including statistics. I don't bring statistics. Doesn't mean I mind others bringing stats. I enjoy baseball and other sports beyond winning at all costs, but I'm talking professional sports, not little league, or high school or college. At some point, winning has to be the bottom line. How is it that managers and head coaches get fired!? My whole gripe and thank you for trying to encourage me and I hear everyone who is trying to point out the positives. But something is not quite right with this organization and no one is speaking up about it or seems to care, well Rizzo is with the umps, but I'm starting to think that his bosses are not in it to win. And if they aren't fine. I just want to know their plan. What is their plan?

Big Cat said...

Man, a 1-7 road trip and people are going out on the ledge ready to jump. Take a deep breath Unterp.....come back in to the room here......thaaaats it....phew! We aren't to the halfway point yet. The loss of Zimmerman has been a dagger to us. You put him in the lineup and we are a .500 club. So lets just wait and see

Neal said...

Respectfully disagree about Desi. 1) His defense is dramatically improved over the last 24 games (as have the Nats as a whole). 2) His hitting has been pretty consistent of late and fairly reliable with 2 notable exceptions. When pressed, Desi still cases the low outside corner (but has been getting better at laying off of it)and if he strikes out early in the game, he usually has a bad game at the plate. Desi and Espi both still have a lot to learn about plate discipline. Their both young in MLB years, their game at the plate will get much better. The future wild card in all of this is Lombardozzi, who Rizzo called the best middle fielder in the entire Nats system. If I were to make a prediction, then it would be that at some point, Desi gets traded, Espi gets moved to SS and Lombardozzi ends up at 2B, time will tell.

Big Cat said...

Rizzo's plan, in my opinion is to build with pitching and defense. I think he also cares a great deal about character. Both Hairston and Cora, while not being your A+ players are good guys who work hard. As for the pitching, he is bringing in young, power arms. Strasburg, Zimmerman, Storen, Kimball, HRod, Clippard.....heck, even Hot Coffey is at 93+. We have another high round pick this year and watch....its gonna be another college "power arm" The thing about defense is you gotta be strong "up the middle" So Rizzo stole Ramos, a young bull at catcher, who is gonna be around a long time. He is great defensively and is gonna hit 20 homers soon. In Espy and Desmond he has 2 young, athletic kids who cover great amounts of ground in the field and have cannon arms. Have you heard Ray Knight dwell on Espy? As they say, you can't teach athletic ability and these guys got it baby. The final piece to our middle defense is in CF, and he ain't here yet. So, yes, our record is no good so far and I think a lot can be said about Riggs and eckstein, but I will save that for a rainy day. Also, players aren't stupid. The free agents are coming....just wait and see. Players look at whats going on in Washington. They know that we are on the rise. So UNTERP.....tomorrow night when you watch the Nats, watch them as a thing in progress. And take a deep breath....its baseball....smell the grass, listen to the crack of the bat.....ahhhh, its good to be alive. One last thing....I sawSad Man smile the other night. Yes! He was on the bench talking to Gorzo and Gorzo said something and Riggs smiled.....but quickly looked around to see if anyone was watching. The camera got it Jimmy boy!

Mark'd said...

The baseball season is like a marathon relay in which 25 run each day. I liked SteveMs use of the term "weak links". Not all 25 finish the marathon. This team has allowed for to long "weak links" to stay around and try to resurrect their careers in Washington.

These players need to be replaced by young and hungry players to make the collective 25 better.

Slaten, Stairs, and Bixler all need to be replaced. Honestly, not sure how the first two are still here. Does Rizzo watch the games like the rest of us?

Mark'd said...

Cwj, thanks for the teams OBPs and that is why Desmond has to be the 8th batter in the order.

Ernie said...

I'm pretty sure that the model is that you bring up new talent to play every day. You don't use your farm system to create bench players that you promote to the majors only to pinch hit or to be late-inning subs. Cutting Stairs (which I think no one whose last name isn't Stairs would complain about) doesn't really open the door for a young talent since they'll spend most of their time on the bench. And remember that our original bench players have become our regulars with the injuries to Zimmerman and LaRoche. I'd be happy to have replacements, but I'm not yet convinced there is anyone in particular who is ready for the majors or that we have a place for them to get meaningful playing time up here anyway.

Mark'd said...

Ernie, not new players every day. Just eliminating those that can't finish the marathon like the 3 players i listed.

Bowdenball said...


I think you could say that something WASN'T quite right, past tense. And that something was MLB's mismanagement of the Expos and early Nationals franchise followed by the GM years of my namesake. The result is the team we have now, which should have been built from 2002-2008 in the draft and with smart trades, but was not. That's why there's no depth in the organization as far as even replacement-level talent for things like the injuries to Zimmerman and LaRoche or Matt Stairs losing the ability to take a bat off his shoulder.

I'm not ready to say that is still a problem. Every service that ranks minor league systems has us improving by leaps and bounds since Rizzo took over. You can say it's a no brainer to add Strasburg and Harper and you'd be right, but we still had to sign them, which we did for less money than many people predicted. And they've never been in the minors at the same time, so those rankings are a product of more than those two guys.

We knew when we didn't have an owner until 2007 that we'd have to be patient with this team. I think we're getting to the point where that patience is starting to get strained. I understand that, mine is too on weeks like this last one. To the club's credit, they do seem to understand that, and they speak about the future and also have started to do things for the fans like the Red Carpet rewards for season tickets that they didn't do in the past.

Anonymous said...

The naive call me a pessimist, everybody else calls me a clairvoyant.

Salvador Dali said...

The only difference between me and a crazy man is that I am not crazy.

I got your clairvoyant right here said...

Andrew said...

Wow, Buster Posey now reported to be out for the year!

Cwj said...

I'm sticking with 76 wins (+/- 2 wins :)

I noticed the Orioles are hanging around .500
Hmmm, I still see the Nats ending the season with a better record.

Call me an optimist :)

Charlie Chaplin said...

Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.

DCSportsHomer said...

The season is long. I am hoping that things will improve.

I am also hoping that the Nats will add another free-agent this year. This should happen whether things improve or not. It should be part of the plan.

Anonymous said...

Long time no post! Hope all is well with all in Nats Insider.

I think that Bowdenball above was saying Desmond is coming around. I think that is more wishful thinking than objective. Over the last 4 weeks the guy has 96 AB's and 30 K's against 2 BB's and is hitting .250, with an OPS still well under his career line of .705 (so he is trending down over the long haul). Over the last 2 weeks he is not doing any better 49 Ab's 17 K's, 5 R's and 2 RBI, etc. Over the last 7 days he is hitting .281, OK nice, but with a .281 OBP and 4 2B's, but is still whiffing a third of the time. The guy is not a MLB player right now. Can this club really stomach a no hit and barely capable glove SS?

It is time. The kid has had ample chance to prove himelf at his current stage of development, and he just is not ready to be an everyday MLB SS. Ian needs to be back in 'Cuse tomorrow.

-- dfh21

Anonymous said...

Here is one that isn't good, bad, or ugly--Danny Espinosa. He has apparently done a lot of great things in the field. And he has driven in runs. But that .200 BA is worrisome. A mixed bag to date ...

And Espinosa's also a switch-hitter who, let's face it, was rushed to the majors @fpcsteve. Rizzo decided to let him finish refining his hitting while adapting to switch-hitting in the majors in exchange for who is a superlative fielder at second and short. Rizzo himself admitted that it might take some time for Espinosa's bat to come around.

Nevertheless, this rookie usually batting 7th or 8th leads the team in RBI's. What about all these savvy and sage veterans again? We can only wish even one had 20 RBI by now don't you think? And Stairs ...

If anything 2nd year right-handed only hitting Desmond is the real concern at the plate. He has been pretty terrible ...

- peric

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit concerned about Bryce Harper. Since Rizzo made his pronouncement that Harper would not even get to sniff the majors this year ... including September call-ups his average has dropped well below lead-off hitting prospect Blake Kelso's.

He is after all young ... this is a case where Rizzo should have stuck to his "when he meets the parameters" schtick and not made any final
decision about September call-ups at least.

Unfortunately, like his young pupil, Mr. Rizzo is also learning the ropes it seems ...

Drew8 said...

Attention Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch:

Robbie Ray was pulled tonight after two scoreless innings.

Don't tell me....

Anybody know what's up?

Peter said...

This was the most dismal stat...

"Nationals batters have struck out 399 times (second-worst in the majors)."

I can't think of a more boring team to watch than one that can't hit.

Anonymous said...

@Drew8: rain.

- peric

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