Friday, May 27, 2011

Series preview: Padres at Nats

Friday, 7:05 p.m. -- LHP Clayton Richard (2-5, 4.85) vs. LHP John Lannan (2-5, 5.03)
TV: MASN Radio: WJFK-106.7 FM, WFED-1500 AM

Saturday, 1:05 p.m. -- RHP Tim Stauffer (0-3, 3.88) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (2-5, 3.98)
TV: MASN Radio: WJFK-106.7 FM, WFED-1500 AM

Sunday, 1:35 p.m. -- RHP Dustin Moseley (1-6, 3.55) vs. LHP Tom Gorzelanny (2-4, 4.25)
TV: MASN Radio: WJFK-106.7, WFED-1500 AM

And you thought the Nationals were struggling to score runs this season. Meet the San Diego Padres, owners of the majors' worst lineup. Team batting average: .228. Team slugging percentage: .336. Runs per game: 3.42. The struggles are especially pronounced at home, with this team hitting an astounding .199 at spacious Petco Park this season.

Only one player on the entire roster boasts a batting average over .263: outfielder Chris Denorfia, also the only player on the roster with an OPS over .758. Only one player has more than five homers or 17 RBI: outfielder Ryan Ludwick (who is still hitting only .230). Padres batters have struck out a league-leading 412 times, an average of 8.24 times per game.

San Diego entered the season knowing it might struggle at the plate. The bigger surprise has been a slight regression on the mound. Last year's MLB-best pitching staff now ranks sixth in the NL with a 3.37 ERA. Projected ace Mat Latos has been a disappointment, going 2-6 with a 4.08 ERA in nine starts. Lefty Clayton Richard, who starts tonight's opener at Nationals Park, has completed six innings only three times in 10 starts.

Perhaps most notably, the happy-go-lucky clubhouse attitude that last year helped carry the Padres to within one game of the playoffs has disappeared. "This is a team of independent contractors," an anonymous player told the San Diego Union-Tribune this week. "Last season, the talk was about what we had just done to pull out a game or how we could beat the league's best pitcher by creating a couple runs. This year, there's not a lot of that talk, yet. Of course, maybe it's because there are a lot of new players. Or we're losing. Maybe it will come. Or maybe it's just the way it is going to be."

Nats' best vs. Richard -- Ian Desmond (3-for-6, 2 HR, 2 RBI), Michael Morse (2-for-3, 2 RBI, K), Ivan Rodriguez (2-for-5, RBI, K).
Nats' worst vs. Richard -- Alex Cora (0-for-6, BB, 2 K), Jayson Werth (0-for-2, BB), Jerry Hairston (0-for-1, RBI).
Nats' best vs. Stauffer -- Jayson Werth (4-for-8, HR, 4 RBI, BB, K), Jerry Hairston (2-for-4), Rick Ankiel (1-for-2).
Nats' worst vs. Stauffer -- Laynce Nix (1-for-4).
Nats' best vs. Moseley -- Ivan Rodriguez (3-for-5, RBI, K), Matt Stairs (1-for-2, 2B, BB).
Nats' worst vs. Moseley -- Rick Ankiel (0-for-2), Jerry Hairston (0-for-1), Alex Cora (0-for-1).

Padres' best vs. Lannan -- Brad Hawpe (4-for-12, HR, 3 RBI), Jorge Cantu (4-for-14, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, K), Chris Denorfia (1-for-3, RBI, K).
Padres' worst vs. Lannan -- Cameron Maybin (1-for-11, BB, 5 K), Chase Headley (1-for-11, 2B, RBI, BB, 2 K), Ryan Ludwick (2-for-10, 2 BB, K).
Padres' best vs. Zimmermann -- Ryan Ludwick (1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI), Cameron Maybin (1-for-3, BB), Brad Hawpe (1-for-3, RBI, K).
Padres' worst vs. Zimmermann -- Orlando Hudson (0-for-2, BB, K).
Padres' best vs. Gorzelanny -- Jorge Cantu (2-for-3, HR, RBI), Jason Bartlett (2-for-3), Chase Headley (1-for-3, 2 BB).
Padres' worst vs. Gorzelanny -- Brad Hawpe (0-for-7, 4 K), Orlando Hudson (1-for-10, 2 BB, K), Ryan Ludwick (2-for-16, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K).


SCNatsFan said...

This year the Nats are going to lose the war but it sure would be nice to win some battles along the way.

Don't know how much offense we'll see this weekend, 2 runs might be enough for either team to win. Let's hope our pitchers are up to it.

Steve M. said...

Glad the Nats won't see Latos even though he is having an off year I figure he would throw a shutout just because.

PAY TO PLAY said...

"This is a team of independent contractors," an anonymous [Padres] player told the San Diego Union-Tribune this week.

How big is it when you over achieve in 2010 and then you lose your face of the franchise player in Adrian Gonzalez and basically add nobody to the roster.

It has to be demoralizing. I am not big on predictors of salary but the Padres dropped this season to $ 45,869,140 and look to dump players on July 31st. Heath Bell is their top salaried player at $7.5 million and he will be traded if healthy.

Bratislava, Slovakia said...


I (and I suspect others) would welcome a post on whether there's any reality to the Pudge-to-the-Giants rumors. And, if so, what's the realistic return?


oldguyjim said...

Let's get ready for a tough series! We don't have an advantage over anyone especially with two of our starters this weekend recent outings!

Go Nats and we must hit!!!

SCNatsFan said...

Also some buzz on Coffey to the Rangers. Has a fire sale begun?

Steve M. said...

SCNatsFan, no fire sale yet. The Rangers were trying to get Joel Hanrahan last week as they need help with Neftali Feliz struggling some. If Coffey keeps up his good work, he will be gone on July 31 for a good prospect.

The Nats problem is outside of Balester, you have to decide if you turn Stammen and Detwiler back into relievers. Not a lot of comfort from the depth of relievers now that Kimball is here.

The Pudge rumors are certainly more interesting as Sabean wants to steal him. Personally, I like the new role for Pudge and think he would be worth extending his contract for next year.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I got a kick out of Jason Werths comments on our "younger players developing, win or lose"...

It must be tough standing out in right field and seeing Bernadina in CF, Espinosa at second base and Desmond at short when you are used to Victorino, Utley and Rollins.

fpcsteve said...

NatsJack in Florida, you're right. There is a name for that--culture shock. Of course, I thought Werth was supposed to help change the culture here. In light of his comments, I don't how that project is coming along. I think Riggleman is unfairly criticized too much of the time. That said, for the first time, I think (intuit) he is in trouble. Just a thought...

phil dunn said...

Rick Eckstein's brother must be the hitting coach of the Padres!

HHover said...

Re: a possible trade for Pudge

I think it's not only a question of what the Nats can get in return, but also what they want to do with Flores. Trade Pudge, and they have to bring Flores up, but they might prefer for him to get more regular play in the minors, at least for another month or two.

Manassas Nats Fan said...

:ets get back to winning series. win 2 out of 3 here and then take on the Phillies.

You can;'t go in not thinking of winning.

fpcsteve said...

Flores is an interesting case. To be a player the Nats think so highly of, he isn't hitting much at Syracuse. Not bad; just not great for somebody who is supposed to me major-laegue ready right now.

SCNatsFan said...

I think with Detwiler you see now that he's returned to his 'normal' motion if he keeps getting pounded the second time thru the lineup - which I read but don't know for sure - then his time as a starter might be coming to an end. Not that he can't still be valuable - Slaten and Burnett have fallen a great deal and we could use a reliable lefty out of the pen. I imagine management must be reluctant to end his career as a started being as he has so much 'potential' but with guys like Cole and Solis in the system there is help on the way, be it years away.

NatsJack in Florida said...

fpcsteve....Unfortunately, the major difference between his former and curent team mates, aside from skill sets, is experience and professionalism, the two primary elements Jason has been charged to provide.

So far, I've admired his ability to carry himself so well despite his failures at the plate. But his most recent quotes dissappoint me greatly.

DFL said...

The Padres ought to be easy on the ERAs this weekend. Lannan, Zimmerman and Gorlzelanny must be salivating like hungry pit bulls to face down the likes of Cameron Maybin, Brad Hawpe and Chase Headley.

Anonymous said...

Hey Natsjack....

Do you think Espinosa is going to make it as a hitter? I hope so so but he looks like a .200 hitter to me for the long term. Very short hot streaks with long droughts. What do we have as a back up plan at 2nd and short if these guys can't take advantage of their opportunities here. Is Lombardozzi close to getting a chance?

fpcsteve said...

I would be interested in that Espinosa angle, too. Growing pains, on-the-job training, or a basic flaw/lack of talent?

DFL said...

I am of the mind of keeping Ivan Rodriguez for the sake of team continuity and Rodriguez's knowledge and defensive skills. He wants to stay. The Nats could get little for him in a trade. Why not let him play out the string here in Washington and get his 3000 hit sometime in 2013 as long as Wilson Ramos?

DFL said...

... as long as Wilson Ramos gets 80 % of the starts.

(Typing from work,)

Anonymous said...

aka Doc said:
The Mickey Morse Fan Club is shakin' the dust off the membership book, and gettin' ready to yell 'n hollar!

4 HRs this 1 or 2.

NatsJack in Florida said...

fpcsteve.... the problem with both Desmond and Espinosa (primarily from the left side) is the length of their swing and their inability to get their hands behind the ball and keeping their bat in the hitting zone.

Desmond swings from the heels on almost every pitch and hardly ever keeps his head in, while Espinosa maintains a major uppercut from the left side.

Espinosa displays the ability to improve, especially when he determines that he needs to make contact and then chokes up an inch or so on the bat when behind in the count. He needs to focus on making more consistent contact, especially from the left side. At his age, he can improve.

I don't hold as much hope for Desmond. Too many years in the organization. His defense has improved but his plate discipline hasn't.... ever.

Anonymous said...

I think that if the Nats do not move Pudge for whatever they can get for the guy right now, they are nuts, completely nuts. He will not likely have any higher value than he has right now, they have depth at C and they could get something decent in return for the guy and save some money to boot.

-- dfh21

JD said...


With Pudge; just like with Marquis, Coffee and any other veteran it's a question of opportunity. If you can convert these assets into something more useful for the future you have to consider it. If you are taking advantage of San Francisco's misfortune then that's how the game works.

Pudge may be attractive to the Giants because he would be a place holder for Posey without the long term commitment.

BTW; obtaining HRod from Oakland for Willingham may yet prove to be a great coup for Rizzo.

On another note regarding the upcoming draft; word is that the Nats are in on :Cole, Bauer, Meyer and Barnes (College pitchers). Any one of these guys would likely start in Harisburg and would immediately jump to the top of our prospect list ahead of Cole, Ray and Solis. The other intriguing possibility is Bubba Starling considered the best talent of the position players (CF) but is in high school; is a 2 sport (Football) prospect and expensive. Apparently; the Nats like him a lot; would spend the money and have no problem working with his agent (Boras).

Doc said...

Padres are a good team to end our 5 game slump.

Water23 said...

With the depth in this draft, I am all for taking a high risk/high reward player like Bubba Starling with the first pick. We do have more top picks and we need to restock the position players in the minors. Another option is college pitcher 1st pick and then Jackie Bradley with 2nd first round pick.

Also, they need to follow up this draft with a decent spending spree at the Int'l FA signing period. That is like a second draft.

fpcsteve said...

While I'm still diligently editing Sunday's sermon and checking in here every page or so, let me give you some draft intel straight from Nebraska. Starling has signed with Nebraska to play QB and has a good chance to play as a freshman. He swears he loves football and can't make up his mind (TV interview on the 10 o'clock news in Lincoln). More than that, he is currently in summer school at NU. You never know; maybe he will play baseball. But he sounded genuinely conflicted in that interview. Of course, a wad of cash might be just the cure for confusion. NatsJack, thanks for the insight. I'm especially in agreement with you on Desmond. The time has come and gone...

Unkyd said...

Ignorant Opinion Alert!

I know nothing about batting, at this level... But am willing to offer an opinion, anyway (a novel approach, for this forum, I know). Espy is adjusting to pitching he's never seem the like of. Also, as a switch hitter, I imagine it may be MORE than twice as much adjustment, as I suspect the action on pitches isn't merely he mirror image, from opposite sides of the plate, and the reads on the spin of the ball may be different, dominant eye forward or back, and possibly many other subtleties. The fact that he has demonstrated the ability to have good streaks, encourages me that he has a really good chance to be awesome!!

Of course, there are no guarantees (or crying!) in baseball...

How far off am I Natsjack?

joemktg said...

"Only one player on the entire (SD) roster boasts a batting average over .263."

Nats have THREE players in the dugout that have an average over .263...

...although one is a pitcher.

JD said...


Starling may very well be gone by our pick; the same goes for any of the pitchers I mentioned but because Rendon and Hultzen are also likely to go early we are guaranteed a really good pick.

BTW; these pitchers are all projected as top of the rotation guys; there is a much higher degree of certainty with them then say Aaron Crow and just to clarify; Ray and Cole are both high school graduates and their ETA is years away; Solis was supposed to be fast tracked to the majors but I think he's been injured and in any event he's not projected as a top of the rotation pitcher.

JD said...


Starling is a Boras client; being conflicted is part of the normal negotiating script. I would be stunned if he leaves a 7 figure signing bonus and goes to play football in college where he is one nasty tackle away from a career at IHOP.

Wally said...

My two cents on Espy: he has a chance to be a star. First, I think that you have to go beyond batting average to evaluate his offense, at least to include OBP and slugging. He is the only 2B to have a .100 increase between avg and OBP. So he is already showing plate discipline, which is great for his age. Plus, it is his first full season, and his MO in the minors was to take a little while to adjust to the new level. He also has a .221 BABIP, meaning that he has been really unlucky when he hits the ball (although I think the concerns LH that NatsJack raises are legit and are contributing to this some). But he shows an aptitude to make adjustments, so I am hopeful. He'll never be a high average guy, but I think that we could see several peak years of .800 OPS (OBP+Slugging) with exceptional defense. Think .250/.350/.450. That is a top 5 2B. Even better as a SS, but I don't know how his defense translates there.

On Desi, I agree with NatsJack. The guy has never shown plate discipline, and there is no reason to think he develops it now. There used to be a starting roles for a decent hit, no walk, decent fielding SS like Orlando Cabrera, but that style is passing so I think that Desi is going to be a below average SS that becomes a utility guy soon.

Full disclosure - I came into the season the exact opposite: high on Desi and unsure about Espy, so it is entirely possible that I do not know bubkis.

Wally said...


Don't forget Dylan Bundy. He is a prep guy that is considered very advanced and a quick to the majors guy like a college guy. Also touches 100 mph. I doubt that he falls to us (or that Rizzo takes him because he isn't 6'4"), but he may be the best pitcher in the draft.

My preference is Bundy, Cole, Bauer ... then Meyer, and Barnes. Really hope they get 1 of the first three, but there is no guarantees.

I hope that they go pitcher again @23.

JD said...


I hear they are not in on Bundy. I agree with another pitcher at 23 because if you can't get Starling or Lindor you are better off with pitching. If you ever have too much pitching you can trade for position players; the oposite direction is much harder.

Unkyd said...

JD... Great point! Pitching= The Coin of the Realm.

Sec3MySofa said...

I've got to think the Giants would be more interested in Flores or Ramos than Pudge. Posey won't be back this year, and there's no telling what he'll be like when he does get back. They are in first, now, but they need to replace Posey's bat more than his mitt. I think they offer much more for Ramos than Pudge. But then, those aren't the only two catchers left in the world, either.

Neal said...


I'm a big Espi fan and I like the way Desi has improved his defensive game this year. Desi hitting is very streaky however and is pron to a wash out game at the plate if he starts out early in the game by striking out chasing low outside corner balls. There is a player in the minors right now who could possibly get a September call-up this year that Rizzo is very high on. Steve Lombardozzi, who Rizzo called the best middle infielder in the entire Nats system could very well be the answer in the future with Espi moved to SS and Lombardozzi at 2B. Desi would probably be traded instead of being kept as a bench or utility player.

Water23 said...


True, they probably prefer Ramos over Pudge but I find it highly unlikely that Rizzo trades his starting catcher unless it is an overwhelming offer. Granted if they really want him and offer a SP then sure Rizzo pulls the trigger but barring that highly unlikely scenario it will be a middling minor leaguer for Pudge. In that instance, I say hold on to him and look to move Flores at the deadline.

Remember, solid veteran defensive catchers are part of the overall upgrade rising teams need.

Water23 said...


Your point is well taken on both the potential of the top pitchers in the draft. One of my concerns is that the Nats have had little success drafting and developing fielders. Zim and Storen are somewhat different as they were college players that spent a little time in the minors and then never looked back. But most others has been drafted a long time ago - Desi, Bernie or acquired through other means - FA or Rule 5. Granted Espi is the first real home grown talent of the Nationals so maybe the minors are beginning to bear fruit.

Let hope so.

PS I am leaving Strasburg and Harper out b/c as good as they have not been here long enough.

Wally said...

JD - I have heard the same thing, because Rizzo doesn't like undersized RHs. So Bundy (6'1") and Sonny Gray (5'10") are out. Bauer is close to that (6'2") but he apparently passes muster. These guys are professional scouts, so I would be delusional not to defer to their opinions, but it does seem a little over the top to place so much value on a general rule of thumb that you don't make the exception from time to time. Roy Oswalt and Tim Lincecum are pretty good, IIRC.

As for 23, I'll bet Rizzo would be ecstatic if a college pitcher like Jed Bradley or Taylor Jungmann fell to them. They might even take Sonny Gray there, despite what I said. It doesn't look likely right now, but you never know. Failing that, I think some wild cards could be guys like Larry Greene or Dwight Smith - Georgia prep bats. It used to be Roy Clark's MO with the Braves. I would be thrilled if they came out of the draft with Bauer and Gray.

Will said...

Wally, well said about Espinosa, and I think you're expectations are pretty reasonable. But I don't think many people realize how rare the power/speed/defense combination is, especially at 2B.

Say Espinosa regularly hits .250/.350/.450, and plays above average defense (about +5 UZR/150), that's worth 4.5 WAR per season, which would make him one of the top 5 2B in baseball.

Espinosa is already on pace to put up 2.3 WAR this year, despite his offensive troubles. I think he'll be fine.

Will said...

Also of note regarding our catching surplus, Derek Norris has turned his season around in a big way.

He had an absolutely miserable April (.125/.310/.156), but something has clicked. Over the past 10 games, he's hit .333/.455/.778, including 4 HR (one in each of the past 3 games too).

Even though his average is still really low at .224, he's got a robust .827 OPS for the season. If he keeps this pace up, we might see quite a bit of catcher movement- David Freitas has been very good in Hagerstown (.289/.392/.458). He looks an awful lot like Norris- patient with some power.

Wally said...

Will - Fangraphs has Espy on pace for an even higher WAR, over 3 (1.3 right now). Agree, catching does look good. It seems like many organizations get known for things, and I wonder if catchers become our signature.

Write up on Peacock by Kevin Goldstein @ BP (free, I am not stealing it)

Brad Peacock, RHP, Nationals (Double-A Harrisburg): 6.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 9 K
That line is actually from Wednesday, but I didn't hear from a scout about the game until yesterday afternoon. Few pitchers have been more impressive of late, as Peacock has whiffed 33 over 19.2 innings in his last three outings while allowing just nine hits and four walks, and the stuff is backing up the numbers. The 23-year-old is not overwhelming physically, but with super-fast arm action, he's consistently sitting in the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball, and the pitch plays up from there due to his ability to locate and use both sides of the plate. He'll flash a good curve ball and decent change, and even with secondary pitches that lag a bit behind, he projects as a number three starter with room to grow if his arsenal does.

Wally said...

By the way, great rehash of how we got here by Harper over at Nationals Baseball

Mark'd said...

No Orlando Hudson to worry about this weekend. On the DL

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