Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where do they stand after 81 games?

US Presswire photo
The Nationals have hovered around .500, even with Jayson Werth hitting .223.
Transport yourself back to March 31, as the Nationals were taking the field on Opening Day, and consider how you would have felt knowing these following facts would be true three months later:

1) Ryan Zimmerman would spend nine weeks on the disabled list.

2) Adam LaRoche would hit .172 and be lost for the season with a shoulder injury.

3) Jayson Werth would hit .223 and be on pace to drive in 54 runs.

4) Stephen Strasburg would not have thrown a pitch in the majors (though you already knew that would be the case going in).

5) The Nationals would hit the halfway point of the season with a 40-41 record.

Who amongst you could have imagined facts 1-through-4 would result in fact 5? When you put it this way, it's pretty impossible to believe, isn't it? But there the Nationals are, one game under .500 after 81 wild and wacky games that have in many ways defied logic.

Forget, if you can for a moment, the managerial carousel of the last week and focus simply on the baseball aspect of the 2011 season to date. What have we learned about this Nationals club?

Well, it's produced the best pitching staff we've seen in these parts since the inaugural 2005 season. Actually, this staff has been considerably better than that '05 bunch. John Patterson, Esteban Loaiza, Chad Cordero and Co. posted a 3.87 ERA back then, carrying a team that was severely lacking in offensive punch through a surprise pennant race. Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan, Drew Storen and Co. have posted a 3.51 ERA this season, again carrying a team that is severely lacking in offensive punch.

This Nationals club has also played sparkling defense (with a few minor blips along the way), seeing Danny Espinosa establish himself as a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman, Ian Desmond establish himself as a steady shortstop after all of last year's struggles, Michael Morse establish himself as a solid first baseman (who knew?) and Wilson Ramos establish himself as the best-throwing catcher in the game.

That combination of quality pitching and solid defense should be enough to lift a team into the heat of a pennant race. Yet these Nationals remain just below the .500 mark, having needed to go on a two-week tear just to get themselves back near sea level.

That's because they've produced less offense than in any previous season they've called D.C. home. Even that 2005 squad -- which boasted a 37-year-old Vinny Castilla, a .219-hitting Cristian Guzman and pinch-hitter extraordinaire Carlos Baerga -- hit a collective .252 with a .708 OPS. Those numbers ranked last in the NL, but the 2011 Nationals would kill to be as productive at the plate.

This year's lineup is batting a collective .232 (worst in the NL) with a .671 OPS (amazingly ahead of the Pirates, Giants and Padres). Werth has done virtually nothing to contribute offensively. LaRoche did nothing to contribute offensively during his 1 1/2 months in the lineup. Zimmerman hasn't found his stroke yet since returning from the DL.

So what can be expected over the next 81 games? The optimist will say if these guys just start to hit a little better, they can start winning a few more low-scoring pitchers' duels (even though they've incredibly won 10 games already when scoring two or fewer runs).

The pessimist will say the pitching staff is bound to regress over the season's second half, with Lannan, Livan Hernandez and Jason Marquis reverting back to career norms and Zimmermann having to be shut down once he reaches his limit of roughly 160 innings in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.

The realist will say the likely outcome lies somewhere in between all that. The lineup has to start producing more. Zimmerman will get better as he gets more at-bats. Werth can't be this bad over an entire season. The pitching staff will regress some, but probably not as much as you fear. Lannan seems to have turned a significant corner in his fourth big-league season. Hernandez has reinvented himself in his mid-30s. And Zimmermann is the real deal, even if he won't be allowed to finish the season.

So where does that leave the Nationals by season's end? Probably not in the thick of the NL wild-card race. But probably not in the thick of the race for the No. 1 draft pick, either. Players inside that clubhouse would love to finish with a winning record for the first time since the franchise arrived in town, and that's a realistic goal to set. It may not be reached. And even if it isn't, this season can still be deemed a success because of the development of so many key, young, core players.

The first half of the 2011 season may not have played out exactly as any of us could have envisioned back on Opening Day. But the end result probably is close to what we expected. If nothing else, it gives us plenty of reason to care about what transpires over the second half of figures to be a highly compelling season.


Canada's #1 Nats Fan said...

Given the non-contributions of Werth, Zimmerman and Laroche a 40-41 record should seem pretty good, but I can't help but feel like a great opportunity has been squandered with how anemic the hitting has been. If our hitting was even 20th out of 30 in the first half we'd probably have 5 more wins and really be in the playoff hunt. Here's hoping for an even better second half. My expectations have been raised.

Bowdenball said...

Well, we're 22nd out of 30 in runs scored, which is obviously a far better indicator of offensive production than batting average. In fact I'd say it's the best stat there is to measure offense, since it's the only one that matters.

It's not 20th, but it's pretty close. I don't think the extra two runs that we'd need to rank 20th would have gotten us five more wins.

The Michael said...

I think 'the realist' scenario is the most accurate. Taking all factors into account, I think the hitting will get a little better, the starting pitching will take a hit, and we'll end up in the mid 70 game win range when it's all said and done.

This is the bottom line though - It's nice to finally have a team that competes night in and night out, regardless of the situation. That couldn't be said in years past. The malaise has been replaced with intensity, the goons replaced with character and fans are starting to come out and show their support as a result.

This homestand and the attendance will say a lot of where this franchise is and how far they've come. Hopefully it reflects positively.

LoveDaNats said...

Mark, Thanks for the "glass half full" look at the Nats. I was hoping for no more than a .500 season this year and yet many thought that was reaching too high. I'm encouraged by the progress being made and look forward to a stronger second half.

Bowdenball said...

What I meant to convey is this- although the batting average is ugly, the team is finding a way to score runs anyway. You can say they might have five more wins with better hitting for average, but they just as easily could have five fewer wins with less effective baserunning and sacrifices and less power. In the end, they are what they are.

JD said...


I think that your analysis is very accurate and I think that this is a 75 - 80 win team with a very reasonable chance to do better mainly based on a favorable 2nd half schedule.

I think Morse and Espinosa are the real deal and won't regress significantly; I think that Bernadina is fine at CF too. I think that this team looks to be an exceptional team in 2013 with a brighter outlook than any of the other division rivals.

IMO the Nats have to resolve a couple of things in the 2nd half:

1)I would get Lombardozzi up as soon as possible to see if he and Espinosa are the answer up the middle for the next 5 - 7 years; they need to know that because if they are not I would advocate a serious run at Reyes.

2) I would figure out if a long term deal with Zim (7- 10 years) is doable because if it's not then you have to start thinking about how you maximize his value via trade and start developing Rendon as the 3rd baseman of the future. I think that now is the time to do the long term deal because the closer Zim gets to free agency the harder this is going to get.

3)I would move Marquis at the deadline especially if he continues to perform well; do not extend him under any circumstances. Let's have a look at Milone and Peacock.

Binx Bolling said...

The Nats have performed much better than could be reasonably expected considering that LaRoche was lost for the season, Zimmerman missed nine weeks and Werth and Desmond have not performed as expected. But the pitching and defense have sparkled most of the time. Espinosa and Morse have been outstanding most of the time. Ramos, Hairston and Cora have come through. Nix and Bernadina have surprised.

And for the line-up for the second half.
Bernadina CF the only logical lead-off choice
Desmond SS need to get him going
Werth RF ditto: needs to earn his big bucks
Zimmerman 3B must become team leader
Morse 1B has earned it
Espinosa 2B has earned it
Nix LF against righties only; has earned it
Ramos C the future
(Hairston plays left against lefties and bats eighth)

A DC Wonk said...

FWIW, in our predictions thread just before the season (you can look it up!), I predicted a final record of 80-82 (a number that some ridiculed as overly optimistic).

I'm happy to see 40-41 at the halfway mark.

I think Mark has it about right. We can expect some regression to the mean in our pitchers -- but we also can expect some, errr, "reverse regression"? "progression"? improvement, to the mean from our hitters.

And through it all -- (a theme I keep hitting on over and over and over again) -- almost half our core players have not yet reached the age of 27. There's a huge amount of upside to this team.

Slidell said...

Pretty much agree with Mark. Our situational hitting seems much better than last year, winning more of the close ones while rarely getting blown out.
Given the more-favorable second half schedule (11 more home games than away), a .500 record the rest of the way seems quite doable.

JD said...

Binx Bolling,

You want a guy with an OBP of .260 hitting second?

Anonymous said...

1)I would get Lombardozzi up as soon as possible to see if he and Espinosa are the answer up the middle for the next 5 - 7 years; they need to know that because if they are not I would advocate a serious run at Reyes.

And what about Rendon? Arguably the best college bat in well over a decade? Where do you put him? Its almost a given he ends up at second base if Zim is at third. If Rendon hits like Zim (a similar college player) then what? If he progresses to the majors as rapidly? Lombardozzi becomes a utility guy or competes with Rendon, Espinosa, Zimmerman, and Desmond for playing time. And it appears Antonelli may have resurrected himself? Doesn't he get to be in that mix come spring training?

Forget Reyes they can do better with what they have. And these players will be here longer. Its in the outfield where the issue of lead off hitter will be settled. Not in the infield where they are already well positioned.

erocks33 said...

can we all agree to stop projecting where Rendon will play? Let's wait until they SIGN him first, then let him take his physical to see if he can actually play a few games this Summer (although if he signs it probably won't be until close to the deadline, so he probably won't play at all this Summer for any Nats affiliate).

Sam said...

League-wide, offense is way down since even 2005. So, it's not fair to compare the 2005 team's .708 OPS to this year's team's .671 OPS without adjusting for deflation in run-scoring. Relative to what they did in 2005, I don't think they would love to produce at that level because it's still dead last in both leagues. It's just like saying a baseball ticket in 1950 was 50 cents but costs $35 now.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Zimn came straight up in part because he is that good, but also because he only had to beat out Vinny Castilla, on a last-place club the FO knew they were rebuilding. Nothing against Zimm, just that Rendon is not in that situation. Barring another injury, they don't need Rendon yet, at least not at third.

Reyes is certainly not worth trading for unless you know you'll re-sign him, and that's unknowable. Probably a better ROI thsn Werth, but still.

Binx Bolling said...

JD, I expect improvement from Desmond in the line-up I suggest. I like that Desmond can steal a base. However, if given a month at the two slot and a lack of improvement, I would reverse Espinosa and Desmond.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Something else to consider: Morse and Espinosa won't be under the radar anymore. Any surprise factor they benefitted from up to now, and there must have been some, is gone by now. OTOH, they have learned things, and built confidence. So maybe that's at least a push.

erocks33 said...

just saw that Mike Cameron has been DFA'd by the Red Sox. I know he's having a bad year, but would you be willing to dump Stairs and replace his role on the team with that of Cameron? Cameron can play all 3 OF positions, so he could be used as a platoon partner with Bernie or Nix versus LHPs.

The Great Unwashed said...

My prediction before the season started was 75 wins. Anything above that is gravy as far as I'm concerned. I came up with 75 based on my concerns with the starting rotation and not hitting so I was definitely wrong about that, but I'd be more than happy to eat humble pie if they exceed my expectations.

Oh yeah, and no way to signing Reyes. He's a good player but let's not forget he's also in a contract year. We thought the same of Werth and look where it got us.

82-80 ( formerly still waiting....... said...

going forward, i want to be optimistic. we've seen the SP, fielding fall in place and can only hope the offense is next.
DJ always had a way of getting the best out of his players and i think he can do the same for Werth and Desi.
i was a proponent of trading for a leadoff hitter, but would like to give Bernie the rest of the season to show what he can do. again, DJ
was always a great confidence builder.
i would love to see a winning record and dont think it is unrealistic.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Erox, that's not crazy.

Anonymous said...

can we all agree to stop projecting where Rendon will play?

That's where Brian Oliver currently projects him to be. And yes he will be signed. And yes he will likely overcome his shoulder problems. Meanwhile, there's also Antonelli and Lombardozzi in AAA Syracuse.

Can we all agree to listen to people who usually know what they are talking about? (As in Brian Oliver?) And can we also agree to drop the idea of Reyes? He just doesn't fit for a lot of reasons and yes one of those will likely be the money saved but that's reality. They have plenty of MI. Plenty. Stop. Okay?

Anonymous said...

Cameron can play all 3 OF positions, so he could be used as a platoon partner with Bernie or Nix versus LHPs.

But, there's Ankiel. Not Stairs, you would almost have to release/trade Ankiel. Because that's whose spot he would grab. Do you really believe management will do that? I would jump for joy if they did but doubtless they won't.

P. Cole said...

Terrible news about Willie Harris.

Natslifer said...

Great writeup Mark - I too fall squarely in the camp of "all things considered, they're overachieving and have significant upside". I also like this team as a group to watch and think that counts for something. There's something real in their chemistry that's different than the Dukes/T Plush era.

One last thing... I think we should all expect Rendon to be signed and then immediately be diagnosed with a shoulder tear that needs surgery and have that done. I can't see how anyone has that kind of drop-off and doesn't need something fixed with more than rehab. But who cares? If he comes back strong, he'll be a huge asset.

Scooter said...

Thanks to Bowdenball, for talking about runs (Mr. Zuckerman, your assignment for the second half is to talk less about batting average), and to Sam for pointing out the lower offense this year. .252 and .708 would both be just above average this year. (!) I'll throw in one more for fun: the '05 Nats had to contend with RFK.

As to how the team is doing, I too am very pleasantly surprised. Like Unwashed, I went with 75 wins ... but only because I forced myself to be optimistic, it being April and all. It seems the pitching and defense have worked into a real virtuous cycle, each reinforcing and magnifying the other's positive effects.

And finally, erox and Sec3: any proposal that includes "dump Stairs" cannot be considered crazy. I don't so much care who the 25th guy is, but the current one is exciting nobody. Well, not exciting anybody in a good way. (Goodness knows he's got some people here very excited.)

Unkyd said...

With you, 'Lifer... Good post!

Jim Hoy said...

Echoing P. Cole. Willie Harris' wife went into early labor, and lost the baby. Condolences to a fine fine ball player.

All these MI prospects. Gotta think we could use them as trade bait at some point next year to get whatever piece we are missing. Same thing with one of our extra catchers.

phil dunn said...

No matter how you slice it, this team has pathetic offense, which is putting tremendous pressure on the pitching staff. If this continues, the pitching will collapse. I believe Rick Eckstein has some explaining to do but the tyrant GM won't let him talk.

JD said...

I haven't read anything yet which contradicts my call to try Lombardozzi at 2nd alongside Espinosa at short sooner rather than later. It is my opinion that Desmond ain't the answer at short; utility infielder maybe everyday player - not on a championship team.

Feel Wood said...

"Zimn came straight up in part because he is that good, but also because he only had to beat out Vinny Castilla, on a last-place club the FO knew they were rebuilding."

Mainly Zimmerman came straight up because he signed immediately after he was drafted, and thus started playing in the minors immediately after he was drafted. This gave him over two months of professional experience before his September callup. And once he got the September callup, he had the advantage of having the incumbent at his position being ready to retire as soon as the season was over.

Rendon being a Boras client will not sign until the absolute last minute, which like Strasburg and Harper before him means there will be no minor league assignment this season and no September callup. He will go to the AFL like Strasburg and Harper, and then be assigned to the minors for 2012. But unlike Zimmerman, Rendon plays position(s) in which there are entrenched incumbents, i.e. Zimmerman, Espinosa and Desmond. Rendon will have to dominate AA and AAA for quite some time before he'll rate a callup. Perhaps September 2012, at the earliest. Rendon like Strasburg, Harper and Storen before him will not be brought up until he's brought up for good. Prediction: Harper will make the majors before Rendon does.

JD said...

BTW no one said anything about my Ryan Zim. contract extension comments. I know its heresy but it's something which needs to be resolved. To me there are 3 possible outcomes here:

1) Zim signs long term and we have to find another position for Rendon.

2) Zim is traded and we groom Rendon at 3rd.

3) Rendon is traded.

I think all of this is predicated by the anser to the question: 'Can we sign Zim for 7 - 10 years?'

NatsLady said...

Sorry to hear the news about Willie H and his wife. Miss him. He was a team player when he was here and a fun guy.

JD said...

Feel Wood,

I disagree with your conclusion. As is evident; Harper is not flying through the levels the way some would have hoped. At this stage he won't 'graduate' any higher than Potomac this year and that's not a bad thing. He is definitely suffering some growing pains at Hagerstown; better to conquer a little failure there than being over matched at a higher level.

Rendon is 3 years older than Harper and will likely start at Harrisburg next year; I predict a Sept. 12 call up for Rendon and maybe A Sept 12 callup for Harper.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read anything yet which contradicts my call to try Lombardozzi at 2nd alongside Espinosa at short sooner rather than later. It is my opinion that Desmond ain't the answer at short; utility infielder maybe everyday player - not on a championship team.

They likely have no issue with that and are considering it if his OBP remains high. The problem is the defense could take a hit losing Espy at second base. They DL Hairston to accomplish that. However, Cora gets less playing time. I think they should bring up both Lombardozzi and Antonelli given that Antonelli has accomplished pretty much the same all in AAA in many more at bats. And HE IS THE BETTER fielder.

But then you'd have to lose both Hairston and Cora. Would the FO and Johnson be willing to do that? I rather doubt it. Cora would have suffer an injury at this point. Why? REMEMBER, the FO will certainly want Lombardozzi to play every day. Either in the majors or in AAA. Particularly given that he is a switch hitter. The same I think has become true for Antonelli interestingly enough. Interesting conundrum.

Again Stairs provides that so-called needed veteran presence. So far his presence really isn't blocking anyone from the majors now that Bernadina is on the roster. With Johnson managing the club I see the need for Stair's veteran presence as minimal. Johnson was an all-star infielder in his time. He even hit for power a couple of times. He has played and managed in the world series. Stairs' presence becomes superfluous but my inclination would be to replace him with another relief pitcher.

Finally, as one can readily see the really DO NOT NEED Reyes. Wouldn't it be better if they focused on signing Zim long-term? They have a window of opportunity given his injury along with an off year. It will make him more easily persuaded to getting some security now. I would much rather see them sign Zimmerman than sign Reyes.

Brian B said...

I think Stairs should be dropped, too.

Anonymous said...

Rendon is 3 years older than Harper and will likely start at Harrisburg next year; I predict a Sept. 12 call up for Rendon and maybe A Sept 12 callup for Harper.

If Rendon didn't have a possible injury, if he signed today I think Sept call-up for Rendon THIS YEAR if he's as good as everyone seems to think.

But he may be injured AND he likely won't sign before the deadline. If he did he would likely be in the FLA Instructional or GCL for evaluation and rehab to determine if he needed surgery.

I am still willing to bet Rendon beats Harper to the majors.

UNTERP.NAT said...

I have only one comment, why is it that mostly everyone on this board thinks that Bernadina should be the lead off when he hasn't hit at all as the lead off? Am I missing something? He doesn't hit as lead off. He doesn't hit as lead off. He doesn't hit as lead off. He's only hit when he hasn't been lead off. All you stats people please go and check...

Additionally after you figure out that Bernadina cannot hit as lead off, why is it that you would waste him as lead off when he hits better somewhere other than lead off. Also, Werth hasn't hit at 1, 2, 3, or 4 for the most part. Wouldn't it make more sense to have him lead off and have Bernadina hit 2nd than to not have either one hit at all? Please tell me how stupid I am...

Anonymous said...

Thought this snippet for today's KLaw chat was interesting:

Mike Rizzo (DC)

Did I do the right thing with Jim Riggleman?
Klaw (2:19 PM)

Klaw (2:19 PM)

Klaw (2:19 PM)


Scooter said...

JD, I think you've summed up ZImmerman/Rendon about as well as possible, which means there's little to add.

Oh, except for

4. One or both has a career-ending injury.

5. It turns out Rendon actually can't hit professional pitching.

So, again, nothing else to say at this point.

N. Cognito said...

UNTERP.NAT said...
"Please tell me how stupid I am..."

Don't get me started ;)

It hasn't been that many games at leadoff. It simply might take a while for him to get comfortable with it. Or, he could be slumoping at coincidentaly with his move to the leadoff.

Personally, I don't think he's that great of a hitter. Lacks patience and tries to pull the ball too much, but he has made more progress in those areas than Desmond has.

Anonymous said...

5. It turns out Rendon actually can't hit professional pitching.

This is equivalent to saying the same thing about Harper. And there were some who did since he was basically high school age. Mmmm guess what Rizzo is dead on right he says trust the scouts eyes.

Trust their eyes: Rendon can hit major league pitching today. The question is will he do so for power or not?

Anonymous said...

It hasn't been that many games at leadoff. It simply might take a while for him to get comfortable with it.

So, who IS THE ANSWER? Morgan, Bernadina, Werth, Ankiel (yep he is again batting lead off in AAA Syracuse shuddddddersss), Lombardozzi, Antonelli?

In this one case I liked Riggleman's answer: the Sabermetric lineup where #9 was as important as #1. Less pressure more emphasis on stacking high OBP hitters close to each other followed closely by high OPS. I liked it from the start and it turned out to be a good answer.

You can't put the pressure for getting the offense jump started on one guy. It makes no sense. Even the great Geico Caveman apparently couldn't handle it. Ha.

Scooter said...

I'm very sorry, Unterp, but I don't have enough data on how stupid you are. (Though I think coming up with the measurement scale would be fun, if a bit mean-spirited for my taste.)

Speaking of not enough data ... how about you tell "all [us] stat people" (and boy, is that a great way to get people to agree with you!) how many plate appearances Bernadina has at leadoff? Majors and minors would be helpful, if it's not too much trouble.


UNTERP.NAT said...

N. Cognito said...

I grant that he hasn't had the time in as lead off and he isn't a natural lead off. In the mean time, to wait for it to happen means no production from the lead off and 2nd batter. He is a natural 2nd batter. I know what I see and from his mouth he says he prefers batting 2nd, nuff said...

markfd said...

If we can flip around the #s for the second half I would be very happy with 81-81!

we have ben treated to some good ball of late and I hope the guys have enough left in the tank to create some more excitement before the end of the year!

Harper_ROY_2012 said...

"The pessimist will say the pitching staff is bound to regress over the season's second half, with Lannan, Livan Hernandez and Jason Marquis reverting back to career norms and Zimmermann having to be shut down once he reaches his limit of roughly 160 innings in his first season back from Tommy John surgery."

No, Mark that would be the realist and the sabrematricians saying that.

The pessimist would say Jason Marquis is a member of the Yankees, Livo is traded to the D-backs..again! and we have Atilanoesque pitchers throwing their innings instead after the trade deadline!!!

UNTERP.NAT said...

I know how much everyone likes pointing out my stupidity (and I enjoy it too), but it could be that I might be right way ahead of any of you about Bernadina. And after the results are in it will be very joyful for me to say "I told you so... :>)

Scooter said...

When you do it, Unterp, make sure you mention how much you hate to say "I told you so."

natsfan1a said...

Link re. Willie's loss below. Also sorry to hear the news, and condolences to him and his family.

Re. the w-l record, I already said my piece in the prior thread and am too hot/lazy to track down and repost it. I will, however, attempt to abstract it here: ahead of last year's pace, better record than I'd anticipated, more games at home in second half, glass is half-full*, yay. :-)

Scooter said...

Hey, Unterp, since we're here, may I say one more thing? It's about style rather than stupidity:

When you begin a post with "So-And-So said ..." I expect to read words that So-And-So actually, you know, said. If you want to address someone, I would suggest just typing his or her name, perhaps followed by a comma or colon.

This is just my quick thought on something that might make your writing easier to understand.

natsfan1a said...

Crud, I was also too lazy to type the footnote that went with this *

*I guess that puts me in the optimist category, though I'm not real big on being pigeonholed and can also be cynical where warranted. ;-)

erocks33 said...

2011 Bernadina:
Leadoff: .204/.268/.270 (137 AB) .262 BAbiP
Elsewhere: .435/.458/.674 (46 AB) .472 BAbiP

Leadoff: .202/.264/.266 (203 AB) .258 BAbip
Elsewhere: .266/.327/.409 (474 AB) .312 BAbip

A DC Wonk said...

From above: "Finally, as one can readily see the really DO NOT NEED Reyes."

From another: "So, who IS THE ANSWER? Morgan, Bernadina, Werth, Ankiel (yep he is again batting lead off in AAA Syracuse shuddddddersss), Lombardozzi, Antonelli?"

I'm of two minds of this.

If you look at our infield -- we don't need Reyes.

However, if look at our lineup -- we sure as heck need a lead-off hitter!

Tim said...

I haven't read all the comments, but I agree with much that's been said. With a little hitting, we'd be in the thick of it, but it's been fun so far (at least until a week ago).

I agree that the hitting will improve (it has to, doesn't it?), the starters will falter (they can't be this good, can they?), and it'll end up a wash, and we'll finish with 80 wins, which I'd be tickled with.

As far as predictions...
Espi will only get better.
Werth will hit.
Morse will finish with 30HRs and hit .290 AND be traded at the trade deadline.
Marrero will be called up and live up to expectations: good hit/shaky fielder at 1B
Marquis will win 15 games, not be traded and be re-signed in the offseason.
RZim will get an extension - 5 yrs/$130M
JZim goes 14-10 and receives votes for Cy Young.
Desi gets hot in December and ends up at .260 with 42SB

Now the real crystal ball...
We trade Detwiler and Norris to the Astros for Michael Bourne. If that is true, then we don't trade Morse.

Tim said...

Make that Desi gets hot in September! I hope it doesn't take until December! LOL!

JD said...


Padding your numbers in September against minor league call ups means nothing.

UNTERP.NAT said...

erocks33 said...

thank you...

Unkyd said...

Tim.... I can't imagine who it would take to pry The Gorse Hacker away from us... Care to speculate on a scenario (taking into account Morse's WAR, and that he has some years left under our control)?

And.. Will Desi's December hot streak be televised... Somewhere....? ;-)

UNTERP.NAT said...

Scooter said...

I admit I am a bit lazy when it comes to quoting someone. I'm not here to call people out per se. Also, I'm not taking statements out of context of the overall consensus, either. I just have a memory for things being said as though its gospel and it isn't so, like Werth should bat second and Bernadina lead off, except collectively the team fairs better (they win) when Werth leads off even if he does nothing much productive (this season). Of course if Werth started hitting, this would be great. If Bernadina started getting walks and bunts down more consistently, this would be great too. Still waiting for one or both to happen... :~)

JD said...

For those of you saying we don't need Reyes. He is at 5.1 WAR halfway through the season which means his presence alone potentially wins you an extra 10 games. Which part of that is unattractive to us exactly?

JaneB said...

Tim, i hope we have Bourne AND Morse. I'd be just fine with that trade.

I am in the we win 82 camp. Though maybe my prediction in the spring was 81. I think we can still do it. But I KNOW these Nats are a lot more fun to watch than the are in past years.

Put me down for a resigning of RZimm. I thought Mike Wise wrote a kinda good piece today, when he said Zimm deserves to play on a Cham
Io ship team. So do I. I want to make sure we are rooting for him, not against him, when that happens.

What's with the draft choices waiting so long to sign and missing a summer of ball while they do? I get that maybe that gets them more money. But they don't have that many years ofBB earning power. Losing a summer of minor league ball, especially at Rendon's age, seems like it just delays the call up by a year.

Thanks for the news about Willie. Though I am glad he plays elsewhere, I still think of him as one of ours, once removed, I am sorry for their loss.

Finally, we will lose JZimm soon, and that's the right thing for his and our future. No trading Livo away again. He gets guys out. But he sure seems to be a lot of the heart in this team. HE has World Series experience, just like Matt. He is on the rail in every game he doesn't pitch, watching. The joy on his face in a win could power the stadium. I mean, I know I'm in thank for Livo, but still... If you want PRODUCTIVE veteran presence, we keep him. And move out Stairs in any case (Scootet, you cracked me up In re: Stairs)..

I am really really happy to have a National League team in my town, and really really really happy about 24 of the guys on the team.

Now, on to 42- 39 in the second half!

UNTERP.NAT said...

JD said...

For those of you saying we don't need Reyes. He is at 5.1 WAR

I plead my ignorance. But what is WAR? What is it good for, for this novice...

natsfan1a said...

Ooh! Ooh! I totally know that one (I think). What is, wins over replacement player?

Scooter said...

UNTERP.NAT said...
But what is WAR? What is it good for

You are so beautiful ... to me.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

A modest proposal:
Let the pitcher lead off. Hit Bernadina 2nd.

1. A couple of the current starters would do no worse than what they've had up to now.

2. Rather have Bernadina hit .400 with one out than .200 with no outs.

3. After 2 or 3 ABs they are usually pinch-hitting anyway.

JaneB said...

In the tank for Livo, I meant, but also thankful. And the garbled word about it was meant to be "championship." sorry.

One last thing, I would have loved these guys even if they were cringe worthy. I had good practice as a (former) Mets fan in finding the silver lining in anything. But MAN it feels so much better to expect good and not failure out of them. It's the abiding difference between this and all the other years (2005 doesn't count because they could have gone 31 and 131and I'd still have been thrilled they existed).

natsfan1a said...

LOL, I just got that one. Absolutely nothing. Didja know that was the working title for "War and Peace"?

Scooter said...

Oh, and: here.

The first paragraph is enough to get the sense of it.

JD said...


WAR = Wins against replacement. All of the offense and defense metrics are combined to arrive at a measurable statistical value. The top Nat is Danny Espinosa at 3.0. Incidentally; Reyes is 2nd in the majors to Jose Bautista who is 5.3.

Here is the link to the leaderboard:

JaneB said...

I like that, Sec 3... Just till we get us a real lead off guy. Everyone we seem to throw out there so far is hurt by it. I know others will hate it but it's like ripping off the band aid fast, and killing two birds with one stone. Shoot, our record for getting a hit in that spot couldn't get much worse. And Scooter and UNTERP...hilarious.

UNTERP.NAT said...

Scooter said...
JD said...

Oh, will try to remember this...

RickH said...

I was shooting for .500 for this season, so our current record is pretty good (would have preferred 41-40 though). Of course, it took an unduplicatible (is that a word?) win streak to get there.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the potential Davey Johnson factor for the 2nd half. GYFNG!!!

Drew8 said...

On another topic, there's good news and bad new about Brad Peacock. Harrisburg played in Richmond last night. Times-Dispatch beat writer Tim Pearrell reports that Peacock pitched well, but his velocity was down.

By Tim Pearrell
Published: June 30, 2011

Brad Peacock's fastball came without its usual zip Wednesday night.

The Richmond Flying Squirrels still couldn't do much against the Harrisburg right-hander.

Peacock, the Eastern League's winningest pitcher, combined with three relievers to slow Richmond's momentum in a 3-2 victory before 8,669 at The Diamond.

Richmond had won six of its previous seven games. The loss restored Harrisburg's (44-32) four-game lead over the Squirrels (40-36) in the EL's Western Division.

Peacock (9-2) struck out 14 Squirrels in seven innings May 13. His fastball consistently was clocked at 92-95 mph.

It was down to 90-91, and occasionally 93, Wednesday night. Richmond managed just one hit — Wes Hodges' single up the middle in the fifth inning — before Peacock left with two outs in the sixth. He walked three and struck out six.

"I don't know what happened with the fastball," said Peacock, who said he felt fine. "I'm glad I had the curveball.

"You're going to have bad ones and good ones. When you don't have good ones, you have to battle."

Peacock hasn't had to battle too much this season while emerging as one of Washington's prospects. He has a 2.14 ERA and has allowed just 57 hits and 21 walks in 922/3 innings. He has 120 strikeouts.

Drafted in the 41st round in 2006 and signed in 2007 in the now-defunct practice known as draft and follow, he was 6-11 with a 4.50 ERA last season. He has allowed more than three earned runs just once in 15 starts this season and has been selected to play in the Futures Game for minor-league prospects.

"I think I figured something out," he said, noting that a tweak in his delivery to hide the ball better — he was breaking his hands — has added deception.

"He's got good stuff," Richmond manager Dave Machemer said. "The kid has proven he is one of the premier pitchers in the league. We didn't hit him, so I'm going to tip my hat to him."

UNTERP.NAT said...

JaneB said...

Sec3, My Sofa said...

I'm not trying to one up you, but I am.

How 'bout the manager just send out the ball boy with a note to the umpire? "No thanks"

Scooter said...

All right, I have time for one more question today. JaneB in Maryland writes: "What's with the draft choices waiting so long to sign and missing a summer of ball while they do? I get that maybe that gets them more money. But they don't have that many years ofBB earning power."

Great question, Jane. Thank you. Basically, this is their pay day. Most guys drafted won't even make it to AAA, let alone the bigs. (1,500 draftees this year.) Even tippy-top prospects get derailed. Also, for those who do get lucky, it can take years -- in the minors, then being optioned up and down, then a couple years at minimum salary (which ain't shabby at the MLB level) -- before they get another chance to negotiate a contract. They're about to sign over maybe 7-10 years of their lives.

Although a few guys develop such that they'd be better off playing now, the right call for the vast vast majority is to get what they can now, if only for a bit of a safety net.

My thoughts on the matter, for what they're worth.

Anonymous said...

Morse will finish with 30HRs and hit .290 AND be traded at the trade deadline.

You sound like the silly persistent Phillies Phan on MLBTR.

MMM NO WAY. Morse + Nix + LaRoche is better than Pujols both hitting and fielding. That's not where the hole in the offense is. Also far superior fielding wise. When compared to Prince Fielder far, far greater.

Marerro is still only 22 and his numbers aren't good enough to put him at first base or third base in the majors. He can stay in AAA two more years and still be young enough. He is the more likely trade candidate just for that reason. The other club perceives value over the long haul.

A DC Wonk said...

WAR = Wins against replacement. All of the offense and defense metrics are combined to arrive at a measurable statistical value.

In case somebody asks: what's "wins against replacement". The idea is this (simplified): How many wins is player X worth, compared to if we had to replace him with your average bench player.

(The reason we compare it to a "replacement player" is that even the worst guys occasionally score or drive in runs, etc., to help win a game here or there. After all, a guy who has 500 AB, and bats only .200, is still getting 100 hits, which, presumably, has helped the team win some games).

I see on baseball reference, the following chart:

8+ MVP
5+ All Star
2+ Starter
0-2 Sub
0 (or less): bench player

Note that WAR is cumulative -- the more games you play, the more games you can help win. And so, just like hitting 20 HR's in half a season "projects out" (sort of) to 40 HR's in a season (ignoring regression the mean), if Reyes has a WAR of +5 already, then if he continues this, he's having an MVP-type season.

Anonymous said...

Now the real crystal ball...
We trade Detwiler and Norris to the Astros for Michael Bourne. If that is true, then we don't trade Morse.

For that price (perhaps plus a marginal prospect) they should get Peter Bourjous. But I don't think the Angels will trade him. Preferable and has the value both now and in the future to make that a trade Rizzo pulls the trigger on.

UNTERP.NAT said...

A DC Wonk said...

Interesting...And thank you JaneB and Scooter...

NatsLady said...

Re: Willie Harris. Remember how Desi kept making errors this spring and then his errors pretty much disappeared when he came back from paternity leave? Good to remember that our guys are human beings, and you can't always "leave it at the door" no matter how much you want to.

JD said...


Thank you; just for reference Ian Desmond is +0.5. The problem is that he is likely to be asking for 7 years $150 MN which isn't even unreasonable except we need to give Zim something similar and we already have Werth for the next century or so.

NatsLady said...

How 'bout the manager just send out the ball boy with a note to the umpire? "No thanks"

That was funny. Can the ump put a note on the lineup card, like, "Are you sure on this one?"

baseballswami said...

Regarding the lead-off discussion. I think it's interesting to talk about who does or does not hit in the lead off position this year. First of all - in most games, the number one batter only leads off once per game. Second - you do realize that NO ONE on our team is hitting , dont' you? ( rhetorical, yes, I know, MM and Laynce hit) It seems to be a contagious disease - people who hit anywhere else come to the Nats and suddenly they go blind, their bat weighs a ton, their feet are tangled and they create giant gales with their whiffing. Ray Knight absolutely crushed Jayson Werth in pre-game last night by showing ALL of the many things he is doing wrong as a hitter. My prediction is if we trade for a proto-typical cf, lead-off man, we will pay him lots of moola and he will pull an Adam Dunn on us and forget how to hit. I think Bernie deserves the rest of the season at leadoff and cf. And stop bashing unterp - he is not stupid and all posters should be able to express their opinions without being personally attacked.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

That's right, Scooter. Although most of the worthwhile holdouts are by guys who were high-round picks, there are also guys drafted lower, but out of HS, or who still have college eligibility--in other words, a realistic option if they don't get the money they want. They go back to school, and get drafted again later (or not).

JD said...


The main reason draftees wait until the last minute is that MLB does not want any contracts announced at anything over slot before the deadline in case it ups the value of other players. The players who sign early are usually at or blow slot. Many of the contracts announced at the deadline are actually done long in advance.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

"We trade Detwiler and Norris to the Astros for Michael Bourne."

Norris for Bourne, AND they'll take Detwiler off our hands? How bad must they hate Bourne?

UNTERP.NAT said...

NatsLady said...

Is Mrs. Werth expecting?

Anonymous said...

For those of you saying we don't need Reyes. He is at 5.1 WAR
And you sign him for how many years to be your shortstop at what price?
And how old is he? 28 Same age as Morse.

Now what do Harper, Rendon, Zimmerman, and Espinosa have in common? Top offensive talents in their respective drafts. Rendon and Harper right at the top. Zim and Espinosa not far behind. All gold glove candidates in the field.

Last year's WAR for Ryan Zimmerman (age 26 two years younger): 5.3
Danny Espinosa's WAR: 2.0 in his rookie year. Zim was 2.4 his first full year.

Now projecting the top hitting high school+ prospect in 2 decades perhaps? Harper.
Now projecting the top hitting college prospect in a decade? Rendon.

For added measure throw in Lombardozzi, Antonelli, and Desmond.

In that scenario you need explain why they need to sign Reyes? It looks like a monumental waste unless its for 2 years. And Reyes won't sign for that.

Again, what does it take? Forget REYES 'kay?

UNTERP.NAT said...

baseballswami said...

thank you. But no one has to defend the posters about UNTERP. They know I enjoy the ribbing...

Anonymous said...

Ray Knight absolutely crushed Jayson Werth in pre-game last night by showing ALL of the many things he is doing wrong as a hitter.

That's funny because Ray Knight did the same thing to Davey Johnson when he took over as manager of the Reds (Announced as Johnson's replacement by Schott almost 2 years before it happened.) And how did that work out ... ~smiles~

UNTERP.NAT said...

thank you. But no one has to defend the posters about UNTERP. They know I enjoy the ribbing...

I meant defend UNTERP about the posters...

JD said...

Anon @ 5:26,

Just to clarify; Reyes is +5.1 at the half way point. That projects to +10.2. Now; adding that to the other players you mention is a waste? adding 10 wins over the current SS is a waste?

If Lombardozzi can be a +3.0 or so it might be reasonable to spend elsewhere; say a starting pitcher and that's why I would like to see Lombardozzi up this year so we can see if he can actually do it.

sjm308 said...

I have to compliment this group. Your comments plus Mark's article made for a great read!
You guys forgot one thing on the WAR comments, its WAR - uuuh - what is it good for? The uuuh is a key

My takes: 1. No to Reyes, I don't care what his WAR is, he is in a contract year and we would have to give up way too much.
2.I like Desmond still and want to give him the entire season - I like that we have 2 guys in the minors who appear ready but I think Espi and Desi are a better than average DP combination and they both hustle
3. Was amazed at the leadoff stats for Bernadina, I would also have concerns with those. I just can't figure out who should bat first but after the game starts, is it really that important? (that is a serious question and I am hoping you guys will jump on it to help me out)
4. Would love the trade for either Bourne or Bourjous and could move Bernadina to the 4th outfield position or LF and look at the speed we would have then! Desmond, Espinosa, Bernadina can all fly, Werth is a very good baserunner and for a catcher, Ramos has been great at going 1st to 3rd.
This has been way too long but thanks again gang for some great reading
Go Nats!!

A DC Wonk said...

Re: Reyes . . . . has anyone in NY suggested that the Mets won't do whatever it will take to keep him? If not, then all this is a pipe dream (or nightmare, depending on the point of view) anyway, no?

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

JD, if you can get Reyes for Desmond straight up, maybe, but that seems unlikely. So you aren't swapping Reyes's 10 for Lombardozzi's 3, or whatever--it's that 3 plus maybe Storen. And then there's the salary thing. I don't think he's worth it.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

sjm, it's important for the full season, not just the one game. Whoever leads off will come up more often, so it should be somebody you *want* coming up at the end of the game, more often.

UNTERP.NAT said...

sjm308 said...

3. Was amazed at the leadoff stats for Bernadina, I would also have concerns with those. I just can't figure out who should bat first but after the game starts, is it really that important? (that is a serious question and I am hoping you guys will jump on it to help me out)

Subjectively, I will only say, it appears that the player who has led off regardless of whether he leads off another inning or not, has been unproductive the rest of the game, this season. It make no sense to me not being able to hit or get on base, except, maybe there's a psychological factor influencing the lead off for the remainder of the game. I'm only referencing the Nationals for this season and not other teams...

JD said...

Sec 3,

I am not suggesting we trade for Reyes; I am suggesting we go after him as a FA. Of course if the Mets sign him (they won't) or if they trade him and the team that trades for him signs him it's a moot point.

I live in the NY area so I have been following this pretty closely; I don't think Reyes is signing with anyone before he hits the FA market.

Anonymous said...

Mlb crawl reports Hairston out 2-4 weeks. He's been a real asset this year and that looked very painful last night. The All Star break can't come soon enough for these guys and the trainers. I hope none of them are planning anything strenuous during the break.

Big Cat said...

This Lombordozzi related to him? I mean, he has hit for an ok average in th minors. Doesn't have a lot of pop though, can't run like Desi. Why you throwing the towel in on Desi. Desi is a superior athlete which you can't teach. He needs a batting coach to get him straightened out. Lets not anoint this Lombo guy anything yet. I agree about locking up Zim....however, this throwing thing scares me. I have seen things like this end careers. Hopefully he will come out of it. But right looks horrible

Dave said...

Bad news about Hairston. I thought it looked rough after he got hit last night, and it was. Jerry's a gamer.

Also very sorry to hear about Willie Harris's news. My condolences to Jim and his family.

Re: the Richmond Times-Dispatch piece about Peacock, quoted by Drew8 WAY up the thread, can somebody explain the concept of "draft and follow" to which the T-D writer refers?

Big Cat said...

Also JD
Reyes is a dog. A lot of talent? yep. A dog? yep....A-1. Only reason he is playing hard this year is cause its a contract year. You give him big bucks and he'll lay down like a 10 dollar hooker. Guaranteed.

Dave said...

Sorry. Re: Harris: condolences to "him and his family."

Damn iPhone. (But it gets the word "iPhone" right every time.)

Anonymous said...

Yes, and the person who pulled off this million to one type of miracle was none other than

Jim Riggleman. --- and he got fired for daring to have a conversation with the boss because he wanted a future with his team.

Davey: 0-3 -- doesn't like small ball (a swipe at Riggs) Well, you better think of something old man.

NatsLady said...

There are other qualities you want in a lead-off hitter beside batting average:

1) Patience at the plate -- you want him to look at or foul off a lot of pitches in the first inning so that the batters behind him can get a good idea what the opposing pitcher is throwing.

2) Speed - you want the lead off hitter, no matter how he gets on base (walk, single, bunt, HPB, whatever) to get to scoring position, so right away in the first inning you have a chance to score. He should attempt a larger percentage of stolen bases, again, to get an idea how well the catcher is throwing, what is the pitcher's pick-off move like, etc.

These are particularly important in interleague and interdivision play where you might be seeing a pitcher for the first time. Of course you look at videos, but that is not the same as game conditions, where lighting and field condition affect you.

So what I'd like to see with the Shark is his average pitches per plate appearance, and steals and attempts.

Dave said...

Uh, Riggleman quit. Nobody fired him.


NatsLady said...

Re: Davey and small ball.

Not sure that was a swipe at Riggs (who himself said he didn't play small ball). It was a dig against the common practice of sacrifice bunts, which don't pay off statistically.

Any manager who manages THIS low-offense team should play to get runs, one at a time, but that doesn't mean employing the sacrifice bunt.

Drew8 said...

Re: Draft and Follow.

Dave: This is from a 1999 Baseball America piece. Reminder -- this procedure now apparently is defunct:

"The rule was conceived between the 1986 and 1987 drafts after the elimination of the January draft and secondary phase of the June draft, which were dominated by junior college players.

Clubs decided to simplify the draft process because of confusion about the different eligibility rules and the cost of having first-round picks in four different drafts.

Draft-and-follow was one of the changes to evolve out of that. It allows clubs to maintain exclusive signing rights to a drafted player until a week before the following draft, if that player attends junior college.

Under other circumstances high school players who go to four-year colleges or college players who return to school–clubs lose their rights as soon as the player attends his first class."

N. Cognito said...

Big Cat said...
"You give him big bucks and he'll lay down like a 10 dollar hooker."

I'm not familiar with that. I usually go all out and spend $25.

Wally said...

Another day with lots of stuff here. Which is great, especially for an off day.

1 - JD, I am totally with you on the importance of locking up Zimm long term. I would prefer to keep it to 5 years (beyond his existing contract), but if he requires a longer deal, I would do it. And I would do it now.
2 - I am thrilled with this team so far. They have been competitive and are doing it mostly with guys that you can see being part of a long term future. We are finding answers to our future playoff team, and it is the best possible thing that could have happened this season. And I agree with the watchability comment
3 - I don't know if Desi is the answer or not, but I would let him play out the season as is, not bring up Lombordozzi. A variety of reasons for that, but IF Rizzo believes that Desi is not the answer, I would trade him now, not send him to AAA or wait until the offseason to do it. He would have value to a contender who has a SS need and thinks that they can fix him. SF and Cinn come to mind.
4 - Reyes? Only considering talent, Reyes and Espy are the best possible combination we could get. That seems so obvious that I assume everyone agrees. But the contract determines whether it is a good fit, and know one knows what that is until the offseason. But a dog or contract year push? No way. From 2006-2008, he averaged 6 WAR. Hurt in 2009, came back in 2010 and underperformed only to his own standards, delivering almost 3 WAR. If healthy, he is the second best SS in the game. He is great in the field, on the bases and at he plate. Whether he is injury prone is maybe a debate, but not skill. Yes, I would like to sign him as a FA.
5 - natsfan1a, I usually don't get most of the inside jokes here, but i ALWAYS get the Seinfeld references!
6 - love Bourjos, love Span even more, like Bourn. Don't know if any are available, but I would be happy with any one of them (not Upton, and don't think Roger is the answer) and would be willing to pay a fair price in prospects for one of them

natsfan1a said...

Seconding Dave re. Hairston. I had a feeling last night, because it looked bad. Have appreciated what he's brought and hope that he heals fully.

Also seconding Dave on the quit vs. fired front.

Glad somebody got it, Wally. :-)

NatsLady said...

Sorry, I can understand baseball jokes (usually) but I only watched Seinfeld once in my life and it was something about chickens. So I'm out of the loop on that.

JD said...

Big Cat,

I am giving up on Desmond because he is in his 6th pro year and is showing 0 progress in his hitting approach and at 25 I have serious doubts about some hidden potential coming to light.

I don't know if Lombardozzi is the answer. I know that he has mastered every level of the minors and its time to see what he can do in the show; kind of like Espinosa last year. If you don't give him a look see this year how will you know if you have your answer for next year or if you have to get it from outside? You want to go into next year with a regular carrying a .260 OBP?

MicheleS said...

Mark Z, thanks for the Glass Half Full article! As someone who was brought up rooting for the Cubs, it's good to know that I can now actually root for a team that has a shot at the playoffs. (The Cubs killed my Father, and I am NOT letting them come for me!)

ABSOLUTELY FREAKIN NOT GETTING REYES! He is the typical, have a great contract year, then slacks off while he counts the cash. SEE Soriano and the Cubs. And it's not like he has been healthy. He is a speedster and what have most of his injuries been to? His LEGS.. No thanks. I will stick with Desi (Leyland likes him and well I trust that opinion) and if he doesn't work out, move one of our many MI to SS. Keep Espi at 2B. I think he will be magical there. Kind of like a Ryne Sandberg.

Sorry to hear about Willie, thoughts and prayers are with his family. He is a good guy and a good teammate.

Sad about Jerry, hopefully he can play through it. Definetly a good utility guy that stepped up when we needed him most. And the veteran leadership that we need.

I might actually sign up for twitter so I can follow Stras. My heart goes pitter pattter when he posts how excited he is to be throwing a curve ball!

Harper.. Still nervous about that thumb!

Finally, SIGN Zim, please, he is a local kid that WANTS to stay with this team. I DO NOT WANT TO SEE HIM IN A YANKEE OR PHILLY UNIFORM. And we could not ask for a better face of the franchise.

HHover said...

First of all, condolences to Willie Harris and his wife. That's devastating news.

Second of all, thanks to Mark for a balanced appraisal of where things stand at mid-season. The sweep in Anaheim notwithstanding, this team is still outperforming what I expected at the beginning of the season.

Third of all, could we leave off the hyperbole and false dichotomies about Reyes, on both sides? He's an elite SS AND he's having a career year (on tract for 9+ WAR this year, vs 6 WAR average 2006-08)--both things are true. He will regress. Now, 6 WAR is still pretty awesome, but it would be silly to ignore those 2 injury seasons (2009-10) before plopping down $130-150M on him as a FA. That's a lot of money that could be better spent elsewhere.

That said, what's the basis for claiming he'll dog it after signing his contract? I think the Soriano comparison is off base (Reyes plays a harder position and has consistently played it better), but remember that Soriano had his best year ever, in WAR terms, in his first season as a Cub.

FS said...

WOW lot of discussion going on here.

1. Mark's post sums up my expectations. I was expecting 84-85 wins in the beginning of the season. Nats underperformed and last month overachieved that gave us the result of 40-41. They can still get those 80+ wins I believe.

2. Reyes: Trading for him in mid-season is without a doubt no-no. Having him lead-off in 2012 and beyond sounds awesome, if you ignore his salary demands and injury history. Those are the two reasons I want to stay away from this guy. Instead I would like to trade for Bourn (who may not be available). He is your typical league-average lead-off hitter. He is much better a table-setter than anyone we have right now. We need not have a player of 5+ WAR at lead-off to make this lineup good. Besides, I want to give Desmond the rest of the year to improve offensively. He has two aspects I like, improved defensively and speed on base-paths (leads all Nationals I think).

3. Signing Ryan long term should be one of the top priorities this off-season. He is our FoF player and I would like that to be true until he finishes his career. He has only one condition that is putting together a winning team and I think we are getting close to that.

4. Bernie should be our lead-off rest of the season. He is the best candidate since everyone else has pretty much failed. Let us just give the guy some space and see what happens.

5. Sorry to hear about Willie's loss. Must be very difficult. Also sad to see Hairston out for weeks. He did well for us in Zimm's absence.

Dave said...

Thanks, Drew8. I understand draft-and-follow now, and I understand that I can now forget about it.

JaneB said...

Thanks for the insights about later draft signings, guys! I love how much knowledge gets shared here. Interesting that MLB doesn't want to impact the players' salaries with "early" above minimum signings. Makes my old unionista background rear up and say, "then sign early and high, guys!"
I agree that Reyes is good AND that he is doing the "pay me" hustle at the moment. We see what happens when the pay day actually comes: a period of less production than before. Exhibit A is playing for us in RF.

A DC Wonk said...

FWIW, I don't think Reyes is having such a great year because it's his contract year -- he's having a great year because he has incredible talent. As folks above mentioned, he averaged 6+ WAR over a three-year period when he wasn't injured (Above 5 is all-star material).

And, again, I'll ask: if we stop thinking about position on the field, and think about how much we need a lead-off batter, doesn't it make a bit more sense?

MicheleS said...

DC Wonk..

I would rather invest the money in a Front of the Rotation guy. I know that Reyes has had good to great years, but after shelling out mega $$$ for our RF (like JaneB mentioned). I would rather have a pitcher than a really pricey leadoff hitter.

Also, I am willing to let Davey work on the team to see who fits where (Riggs was playing for his job and a LT deal - I don't think Davey is thinking beyond 2013).

FS said...

So Mark, does Chase Hughes cover the Nats' minor league affiliates for CSN? Thanks

Scooter said...

Jane, I see your union colors shining through. (And that's why I love you.) For a couple years, I've wondered whether the players' union could balance out a lot of this nonsense if they unionized the bush leagues. If guys know they'll be protected in A ball, the signing-bonus payday loses significance. (I also think there's no chance it will ever happen.)

Scooter said...

And Unterp, I was trying for light teasing, and I think you took it as such. But if I hit the wrong tone, and I came across as bashing you or actually calling you stupid, then I am very sorry.

Anonymous said...

FS put it well indeed.

So FO priorities for the rest of the season:
1. SIGN as many draft picks as soon as possible especially the top 4. Shoot for signing all of the top 20 picks as they did last year. Evaluate Rendon and Purke's injuries determine best course of action to develop them.
2. SIGN Zim to a long-term contract. Now may be the best time to do this. Do it while the iron is hot.
3. Find a way to add Milone and Bradley plus Stammen to the major league staff. Promote Rafael Martin and Brad Peacock to AAA Syracuse.
4. Evaluate potential trade partners. Accept only trades that improve the franchise/team both in 2011 and through 2015.

Meanwhile, let Davey do his stuff. That in itself might be pretty entertaining.

Tim said...

Hey... I thought of something...

Riggleman + Bourne = Bourne Ultimatum

FS said...

LOL What an off day can do to Nats fans!!

AndesAngle said...

It amazes me how good the pitching has been this year. It also amazes me how bad the hitting has been. What is up with the hitting this year? Not just with the Nats.

Anonymous said...

70-92 Mark this down. I promise you thats the best they will do. Werth is responsible for us not having 80 wins. Please go back to Philthy. If Davey doesnt finish this homestand over .500 I think we made a big mistake with Riggleman.

Unkyd said...

7:28.... Hilarious! You slay me, man....

Tim said...

I listened to Duquette and Kennedy on MLB Radio yesterday and the Riggleman thing came up again and Kevin Kennefy said he talked to some of our players and they said, across the board, that Riggleman had "lost the clubhouse". Even since Spring Training, Riggleman had been grumbling and negative about the status of his contract. At some point after he walked, Riggleman said he'd handle some things in the clubhouse differently if he had an extension and that he'd manage differently.

That just can't happen. For a guy whop managed 11 years in the big leagues to say something like that... that just astounds me.

This managerial thing was a freight train that was coming... no matter what. The only thing that would have fixed it would've been a contract extension and that wasn't going to happen... because of the sort of thing mentioned above.

Big Cat said...

Tom Milone is quietly putting together another fine season in Syracuse. all the guy does is win. Went 8 scoreless the other night. Is 6-5 with a 3.50 era. 89 innings 85 hits and 89 k's. NatsJack.....whats the scoop on him? Probably doesn't have the big sexy fastball.....correct?

Steve M. said...

Tim said... I listened to Duquette and Kennedy on MLB Radio yesterday and the Riggleman thing came up again and Kevin Kennefy said he talked to some of our players and they said, across the board, that Riggleman had "lost the clubhouse". July 1, 2011 8:03 AM

Tim, to be fair, Kennedy referenced getting info from ex-players. I could only find Pudge and Stairs talked to him. Matt Stairs played for him in Boston. Imagine Matt Stairs being angry. Instead of taking it out on Riggleman he should have looked in the mirror.

The guy is a complete joke. Either he looks at strike 3 or check swings (too far) on a ball out of the zone to strike out on strike 3. Not one hit over an outfielders head. I thought he was brought here to quote Rizzo "to change the game with one swing". Funny.

Steve M. said...

We can talk all we want about dysfunction in the clubhouse but I saw a youngster thrown under the bus last night on the other MASN team and it tough to watch.

Buck Showalter (complete A-hole) has his post-game news conference and says they are sending Brian Matusz (who started the game) down to their Minor Leagues to work on his issues.

Immediately after that, the press baraged the young kid about his demotion. This is a kid who was injured earlier this year and has a total of 46 games under his belt.

Why did Showalter have to do that to their pre-season presumptive #1 pitcher.

The kid looked ready to cry. I haven't seen too many things as bad as that in a long long time. Most teams announce the negatives like that a day later so the guy can clear out and not have to face the herd of reporters.

N. Cognito said...

Anonymous @ 7:28 said...
"Werth is responsible for us not having 80 wins."

I have to agree with you. If Werth was hitting, the Nats would be 80-1 right now.

Cwj said...

Wow great article Mark, and great comments following.

I can't really add anything new, but here's what I think:
-Re-sign Zim (rather than have Zim resign)
-Keep Livo. If/when the Nats have their own team hall of fame, he should be the first pitcher inducted.
-Stick with Desmond for the entire year.
-I'm 50/50 on trading Marquis.
-No to Reyes.
-Riggleman quit. Davey Johnson is a huge improvement.
Oh and I still think the Nats will be in the 77 win range this season. Though 81 wins is certainly possible.

Go Nats! Keep the faith guys and gals.

Steve M. said...

Has anyone heard that the Nats will have a new 1st base coach tonight?

Unkyd said...

About Buck..... What Halperin said.....

JaneB said... But the predictions were that he would leave. Who is it?

And by the by, what do people thi k about Pat Corrales as bench coach? I thought people thought it was a good thing when he left a few years ago.

Wonder who the first base coach will be!

Thank you all for keeping the talk going while the guys had a day off.

JaneB said...

I agree Unkyd. Buck is showing his colors now, he is nit someone I would want to manage my guys. Mean spiritedness, especially in public like that, is just inexcusable. I wish any other team could grab that baby pitcher and get him away from the O's. Frank could get sharp with people, but he was never mean. Neither were Manny or Jim. And Davey, not in public.

Steve M. said...

Jane, its amazing how quiet things are as I expect Hairston to the DL and unfortunately Ankiel probably takes his spot. Pat Corrales to bench coach and Dan Radison to an early July 4th vacation.

Detwiler pitched just 2 innings yesterday. Could it be Balester and Det changing spots?

I guess we will know more (no more) this afternoon.

Steve M. said...

From MLB Trade Rumors • Some rival executives think B.J. Upton will be a borderline non-tender candidate this offseason. Upton will earn a raise from $4.825MM next year and he currently has a .223/.308/.396 line with 20 steals. I can’t envision the Rays non-tendering Upton, who would presumably have trade value if Tampa made him available.

Any GM that gives up more than an A ball prospect for this guy is crazy. Tampa Bay is desperate to get rid of him and bring up someone like Jennings. Upton is non-productive and batting like Jayson Werth.

I say "pass".

Steve M. said...

You have to feel sorry for Davey. He had lousy fielding behind him on Monday and Tuesday and no hitting on Wednesday. The bullpen pitched awful on Monday and Tuesday and he has a thin bench with all of the injuries.

I would be 'face timing' with Rizzo and demanding an infusion of players who can help. I think JC Romero if used properly (lefties only) and Mike Cameron as Ankiel's replacement could help some. Hoping Detwiler can help re-form a strong core in the bullpen to take some pressure off of Clippard.

The Great Unwashed said...

Steve M.,

The Nats are struggling to hit right now so why on earth are you suggesting they try to pick up Mike Cameron? He was DFA'd because he's batting .174 this season. I'm no fan of Ankiel but he's hitting about .50 better than that.

The Great Unwashed said...

Sorry, I meant .050 better than Cameron.

Anonymous said...

Just a few rants. Desmond is becoming a very good field, no hit player. We should move Espinosa and bring up one of our many promising farm club second basemen to play second. Plus after 6 years in the minors he struts around like he expects to be picked for the All Star game.
Jayson Werth thinks he will hit better after the all star break. If he can't hit in front of Ryan Zimmerman, how is that going to happen. Again, like Desmond, he struts around like he is hitting .300. Also, doesn't he have six errors. If he lets his beard grow longer and dyes it that putrid color it is now, he will look and play like Gabby Hayes.
Also, plesse fire F.P. and replace him with Ray Knight, or bring back Dibble. He is a bigger homer than Carpenter. Giants fans celebrated when they found out he was going to DC. Also, he sounds like a high school kid, and his commentary befits his sound.

Cwj said...

Anon 1:31- Really, Dibble?
All he did was criticize Clippard's changeup and Storen's slider last year. (Both pitchers' out-pitch, btw).
Dibble was a power pitcher, so he thinks every reliever should challenge hitters with their fastballs down the got old in a hurry.

I like FP.

Anonymous said...

I like FP.

Light years ahead of Dibble. FP knows a lot more about baseball ... and what it takes to win and that should include Dibble's other Cincinnati Reds cohort: Ray Knight.

Plus FP gets excited about DC getting winning baseball ... excited in the right way.

Anonymous said...

To Nats lady: It's mind boggling how many people have the nerve and verve to give out their "learned" opinions when it's obvious they just don't know the game.

Nats Lady: How do you play for as you say "one run at a time" without employing the sac bunt? And don't insult us with "well placed hits and stolen bases" which are, of course, part and parcel with the sac bunt and bunt for hit in a game where you are playing for one run.

Anonymous said...

Will all you people please stop using and quoting WAR stats as if their gospel. The WAR are interesting and fun and would be valuable IF they compilation wasnt so totally Subjective. Repeat: they are Subjective stats that are so unreliable that they should not become part of Baseball nomenclature.

Anonymous said...

No one could have managed the Nats pitching both starting and relief corps better than how Riggleman did. How can Davey J or anyone else for that matter do better? They can't and they won't.

Davey is set up for failure -- and then Riggleman will be able to smile a bit, abeit all by his lonesome.

Go Riggs -- you did a phenomenal job for a team that only .223

Cwj said...

Anon 2:13- Agreed!
I think FP's easy going nature and knowledge add a lot to the MASN booth.

Anon 2:36- I somewhat agree. I generally look to sabermetrics to back up the standard stats.

Anon 2:39- I disagree. Riggs was not a good manager. Why? Because he quit on his team.
He was in no danger of being fired this season.
His attitude was horrible the entire season.
He hated his job and showed it, in my opinion.

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