Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bad time for a clunker



When he struck out 10 Braves over six brilliant innings last week, everyone wondered if the Nationals really would shut down Stephen Strasburg in the middle of a pennant race.

And when he was tagged for seven runs over five suspect innings last night, everyone suddenly wondered if the Nationals might just shut down their young ace on the spot.

The man who ultimately will make this decision, thankfully, isn't quite as impulsive as fans, media members and the various experts out there ranging from John Smoltz to Terry Bradshaw who all believe they know what's best for Strasburg.

Mike Rizzo wasn't going to prolong Strasburg's season based on one dominant start, and he's not going to cut it short based on one lousy outing.

But make no mistake, it was a lousy outing: seven runs (five earned) on nine hits in only five innings. He exhibited no command of his fastball, couldn't adjust to the Marlins' aggressive approach against him and on more than one occasion lost focus with runners on base. (Letting 36-year-old, 270-pound Carlos Lee steal second without even drawing a throw? Unacceptable.)

Worse was that Strasburg picked the absolute worst time to author the biggest clunker of his career, with the Nationals stuck in a four-game losing streak and desperately needing a win over the last-place Marlins to get themselves back on track.

Instead, Strasburg kick-started the Nationals' worst loss of the season, a 9-0 trouncing that extended this team's skid to five games and moved everybody one step closer to declaring a state of emergency for a ballclub that has avoided adversity all season.

Is it time to panic? No, not yet. It's a five-game losing streak, but the Nationals still hold a comfortable position atop the NL East and haven't let the Braves gain too much ground on them.

But the time to stop the bleeding is now. Another loss in tonight's series finale in Miami would leave the skid at six games and would probably send the Nationals into a tough weekend series with the contending Cardinals with a sense of doubt about themselves for the first time in a long time.

Ross Detwiler: Time to step up and show you can be counted on to win big games down the stretch and beyond.

As for Strasburg, time to put this disaster of a start in the rear-view mirror and focus on Sunday's big outing against St. Louis. The Nationals have no intention of shutting him down after that game -- Davey Johnson has indicated he'll make at least two, maybe three more starts beyond that one -- but he certainly doesn't want to hit his home stretch on a sour note.

Strasburg called last night's game "a big learning experience for me" when speaking to reporters afterward. We'll find out Sunday what exactly the young right-hander learned from the worst start of his career and how he applies it to his next outing.

156 comments:

whatsanattau said...

It did seem like we were doing victory laps a little early. Everybody falls victim to hubris except me.

Go Nats.

terpman33 said...

Why, oh why, must I be the calm sea amongst the rough waves of blithering idiots (some of you) on this blog (judging by some of the comments on last night's game thread!). Listen, we're in a 5 game losing streak, the offense is going silent, and our defense is breaking down (Carlos Lee getting a steal against us is UNACCEPTABLE). Having said that, WE'RE STILL IN FIRST PLACE, SO LETS NOT PANIC! This team gets a mulligan, that's all. We are still 8 or 9 games above the wildcards. The only time to panic is if we go on a 10 or more game losing streak. So again, lets try to keep things in perspective. As I said before, if you want to jump off the ship, then jump. Nats Nation don't need ya! Everyone keep their head up, and GYFNG, baby!!!

hiramhover said...

Great post, Mark.

I'm curious - were you already scheduled to do the csn appearance last night, or was that a special appearance, motivated by last night's lousy game?

Rich said...

Is it just me or what? I can't figure out how LaRoche has such good numbers when it seems like he fails to deliver 99% of the time with runners in scoring position. I know it's not true but it just seems like it and it is frustrating when he takes that effortless, wavy swing at the ball and grounds out to 2nd with runners in scoring position. Does anyone know his total LOB numbers for the year and where he ranks in the NL or overall MLB. I am suspecting it will be a terrible stat for him. Maybe we move him out of cleanup.

MicheleS said...

Whatsanattau.. Good comment on the Hubris. Can't count the chickens just yet. And yet, we can't panic as termpan said.

Sadly last night I just had a bad feeling going into the game and as soon as I saw Stras give up that gopher ball(my comment of OY! What the heck was that) I knew it was time to avoid the in game log. Scanned the comments last night and saw what it had become.

This might be a blessing in disguise for Stras at least. July was not a good month for him, but his last few starts started all the cries from the Outside DC crowd to pitch him until his arm falls off. At least this gives everyone pause to hold off on that for awhile.

I am more worried about Jordan's shoulder at this point.

So it's time for Ross to step up.

Kiterp said...

How many games this season went down to the wire or into extra innings? How many leads were lost? But, how many times did the Nats battle back into games ... claw through extra innings ... find a way to win. With so many games turning into adventures this season, did anyone expect that the season itself wouldn’t end in a circus? It will come down to the last couple of games. But the boys have proven to be fighters and will ultimately take care of business in September. Until then, the haters will hate, the lovers will defend, and the rest of us, like so many games this season, will be sitting at the edge of our seats until the very end with our fingers crossed and nails bitten down to the stub. Keep the faith

164abb6e-9075-11e1-aba1-000bcdcb471e said...

Davey Johnson was channeling Earl Weaver the other day when he reminded reporters that "you're never really as good as you look when you're winning, and you're never really as bad as you look when you're losing."

What is troubling about the last few losses has been the cluster of causes: serious mental lapses on the bases and in the field (including allowing baserunners to steal at will), and the silence of the offense along with the disappearance of the home run. The latter, as we know, is something this team is prone to, and can take a while to come around. The former, however, can and must be fixed immediately, especially if a sputtering offense is to be overcome as it was earlier this year.

This is something for which Davey is ultimately responsible. It will be interesting to see how he handles it.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

The Nats and their fans have endured many losing seasons and devastating losses, but last night was a new low. In years past, games like that had no particular significance, but the Nats are now in a pennant race. I knew we were in trouble when Zim laughed off the losing streak at 3 games a few days ago. Winners do not laugh when they lose. They strap themselves in and put the pedal to the metal.

I mean, never mind Stras, every pitcher has an off night, but Ricky Nolasco? Ricky Nolasco? That's my only comment on the game. Enough said.

I can almost guarantee you that several years hence, when Harp is the leader of the team, losses will not be taken so lightly, and guys like Nolasco won't last 3 innings against a team determined to win the NL title.

I have stated, repeatedly, that no one can beat the Nats except for themselves. The NL East title is theirs to win. Or lose.

fast eddie said...

Laddie:
I agree about Nolasco. He had a 5.07 ERA and we had scored 10 runs in 11 innings against him this year. I can accept being dominated by Halladay and Cliff Lee. But Nolasco?
We're in a team slump with too many hitters trying to hit HRs. How about some line-drive singles to "keep the line moving"? Not time to panic, but I wish Davey would deliver this message.

320R2S15 said...

Oh boy..this has been in the back of my mind all season. This notion that all of a sudden we have a championship squad etc. We do have an exciting young and talented club, that has the porential to do some damage over the next few seasons, but I see trouble with teams who have been to war and won. The Braves and Cards come to mind. I first saw troubled waters in the Yankee series, they bested us in just about every catagory. The Braves know in their hearts that they can catch us and they might, I hope not but they might. these guys are worn down and it shows, question is, can they overcome the strain and rise to the ocasion. The good news is that we will find out this weekend. If they cave to the red birds.....it will indeed be time to panic, although I feel a little bit that way this morning.

320R2S15 said...

Oh boy..this has been in the back of my mind all season. This notion that all of a sudden we have a championship squad etc. We do have an exciting young and talented club, that has the porential to do some damage over the next few seasons, but I see trouble with teams who have been to war and won. The Braves and Cards come to mind. I first saw troubled waters in the Yankee series, they bested us in just about every catagory. The Braves know in their hearts that they can catch us and they might, I hope not but they might. these guys are worn down and it shows, question is, can they overcome the strain and rise to the ocasion. The good news is that we will find out this weekend. If they cave to the red birds.....it will indeed be time to panic, although I feel a little bit that way this morning.

sjm308 said...

Not a lot of fun right now. Actually was entertained this morning reading last nights chatter. Very few actual trolls, lots of discontent and its deserved the way we are playing right now. What might bother me is when we start to play well again, that those same posters will not chime in with some positive points. It's easy to criticize when things are not going well, and lots of people do so. If I had one main point to jump on, it would be the amazing lack of ability for any of our pitchers to hold base runners close. Lots of people jumping on Flores and Suzuki for the ridiculously low number of caught stealing but last night was all on SS. I mean, Carlos Lee??? I remember chuckling when Adam LaRoche stole a base early in the year. Not chuckling now. Its just one small point in a series of games when we give up the first run, don't hit and have a bullpen that doesn't keep things close. I mean, has anything gone right?

Good news is we are still in first place, four games up and we can turn this around.

It's an old cliche but momentum is only as good or bad as your next starting pitcher. Ross, you are up!

Go Nats!!

bowdenball said...

"Last night was a new low" ... that left us with a four game lead in the division on August 29?

"I see trouble with teams who have been to war and won" ... like the 2010 World Series Champions, whom we have utterly destroyed this year, beating them 5 games out of 6 by a combined score of 45-24?

Take a Xanax, folks. This is painful, but it's only five games. You know who else has lost five in a row at one point? The Rangers, for one. The Reds, for another. The Giants, for another. And, oh yeah, the 2012 Washington Nationals, in late April. We recovered OK from that, didn't we?

320R2S15 said...

I do sincerely hope you are right bb. I'm all in jsut like the rest of you.

natsfan1a said...

Okay, that didn't go quite the way I'd hoped. On the plus side, our catcher got his bat going a little bit. I will also say that it was nice to see/hear FP again. I missed him when he was out and did not see the Friday and Sunday broadcasts due to other commitments.

On a related note, and understanding that as fans we don't *really* have any control over wins and losses, I decided to mix it up a bit today and do something different, as FP suggested. My contribution: I had blueberries instead of strawberries on my cereal. So, who's rocking the rally speedo today? ;-)

bowdenball said...

320R2S15-

I'm pretty miserable now, too. I just don't think we should jump to conclusions about things like this team's ability to take the heat and beat teams with experience and all the rest.

I keep coming back to the 2010 Giants for a couple reasons. First, they were a young team with very little postseason experience built on solid young pitching and a few decent bats that won the World Series. Second, because that 2010 in still largely intact, and we smoked them this year. That tells me that this team can beat anyone regardless of experience, and frankly that anyone can beat anyone once you reach the postseason.

mick said...

I think Nats will win 4 of next five games and a lot of us will feel silly a week from now.

blovy8 said...

When's a good time to throw a clunker? Every game counts the same at this point. Things even out over the course of the season. It seemed like the road record was too good to be true, and it is. Davey is going to stay calm, but I really hope McCatty is forcing these guys to work on their pickoff moves, slidesteps, and mound presence. The only good thing about the running is that it exonerates Flores a bit, and puts the blame where it belongs. It's a weakness that teams will exploit. I think Suzuki and Flores need to throw it down to first every so often too.

mick said...

when I first saw the title of Mark's blog this morning, I had a Curly Howard reaction... "hey Moe, Larry, I just bought a clunker, nuk nuk nuk"

natsfan1a said...

On a more important note, happy first birthday to Baby Z, AKA Brian, AKA future All-Star. Very cute pic via the link at the top of the page, in Mark's Tweeter updates thread. Seems like just yesterday that he was being welcomed into the world. :-)

natsfan1a said...

btw, just tell us when and where for the b-day party. ;-)

mick said...

natsfan1a said...
btw, just tell us when and where for the b-day party. ;-


I'll bring the Corona Lights, lol

natsfan1a said...

I'll bake a cake. :-)

alexva said...

It's no fun to watch your team when things aren't going well. But the concept that if they just try harder, bear down and all those other cliches then they'll start winning again is flawed. It's a game of averages and even with the recent slide there playing to a 97 win pace. I'm not convinced they're that good.

I'll hope that they start playing better than their current trend before the season is over and if they do we will have some exciting playoff race baseball to watch.

Steady Eddie said...

The thing that looks different to me from the five game slump around the Dodgers sweep and the four game one around the Yankees sweep is that in this one, we just don't look or feel competitive.

In the Yanks and Dodgers sweeps, we either took leads or were in there fighting and getting men into scoring position repeatedly, and our starting pitching was keeping us either in see-saw battles or very close until the end. Our problems there were the bullpen wilting and/or failure to get key hits with RISP (remember?).

This non-competitive aspect of the slump started with that disastrous ninth inning against the Braves that turned a doable 2-1 deficit (in a game that otherwise looked like our earlier sweeps -- in which it looked twice like we were rallying to tie or take the lead but had the old RISP problem) into a hopeless (against Kimbrel) 5-1 bottom of the ninth gap.

Then during the weekend, quick runs against the starters and weak bats by everyone except PHs TMo and Lombo (and one game by Harp) gave the sense that we were never in those games. And then the one where it looked like we were putting together a good rally was squelched by the non-HR classic bonehead moment. And last night just felt like the 2009 team. (Although with Stras it looked mostly like just a non-command post-TJ performance like JZimm had late last year.)

In most of the Dodgers and Yankees games, you could identify one or two plays that would have given us the win had they gone the other way. (And the missed call at the plate with TMo vs the Yanks wasn't even our doing.) That's the disturbing difference from the earlier in the season slumps -- the feeling that we were just flat-out uncompetitive.

Doesn't mean we can't snap out of it. But it really is gut-check time. They need to regain their focus and intensity, and it would help a lot if they could do it tonight and didn't have to start to get their mojo back against the hot and tough Cards.

mick said...

Steady Eddie... good points, as a coach myself, I think Davey and Cat will go old school in dealing with this, it always works with good teams and Nats are a good team. It is called foot in your butt approach. Davey can get tough when he has too and believe me, Cat can be very nasty in a tough love way, lol

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Cautious optimism is always good. You have to act like a champion if you are going to be a champion.

This losing streak like I said (before last night) is about poor offense and making more mental errors than the opponent.

Last night was clearly a combo of poor offense and a few pitching mistakes but keep in mind that a few of those runs were just grounders finding the holes.

Score some runs and play out the game. The batting overall has been atrocious.

Steady Eddie said...

mick @ 9:31 -- other than the usual suspects in the Legion of Doom, I don't think most of us are saying that they can't snap out of it. It's just that this slump looks like more than simply the law of averages working itself out (though there was some BAPIP frustrations last night, that wasn't the core of the problems). I haven't seen any stretch earlier this year where virtually the entire team seemed to lose focus for more than a game or two. I know it's a cliche, but they really need to suck it up as a team right now in a way that they haven't had to before in this season.

But I have to say, mick, that it makes me smile (in a good way) to have you be one of the strongest "keep the faith" voices! I love that!

mick said...

Thank you Eddie!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Also, it was meltdown Tuesday in Vegas. Verlander gave up 8 earned runs in 5 2/3. Chris Sale got crushed. Jered Weaver gave up 5 with 4 earned. Westbrook got crushed for the Cardinals.

It wasn't just Strasburg. Of course the Tigers got Verlander off the hook as they scored 8 runs and thats what teams should do behind their Aces when they have a bad outing.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I'm in agreement with Steady Eddie and Ghost.. this is the way it goes in baseball. That's why I watch each season as they happen. And this one has been the most exciting in my history of watching Washington D.C. baseball.

On another note.... Ghost... Medlen is now 18-0 in his starts for Atlanta. That's no fluke.

JaneB said...

Happy Birthday, Brian! I hope the cake is good!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Agreed about Mick. I'm just reading past the negative comments with no analysis. Sure, last night was a dud all the way around. Marlins made an error in the 1st and the Nats couldn't capitalize.

In losing streaks, a lot of times it is just some BABIP bad luck and those balls will eventually fall.

What I don't like is some of the batters who are hacking at the 1st pitch and not working the count into hitters counts. Its one of the things I've liked about Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsJack in Florida said...

On another note.... Ghost... Medlen is now 18-0 in his starts for Atlanta. That's no fluke.


Agreed, I said a few weeks ago that he was their best pitcher followed by Maholm and the rest are middle of the road although Tim Hudson can show some good stuff from time to time.

The key is trying to see a lot of pitches and staying off Medlen's 59 foot changeup. Nobody seems to be laying off that changeup yet.

Let's see if they rely on Medlen too much and have him fatigue.

mick said...

NatsJack... I have been saying that Medlen is one of the the most under rated MLB stories. This shows why the Braves are so solid as an organization. While every expert (ha, ha) was talking about Greinke and Dempster, the Braves stayed cool and knew they were set with Medlen

MicheleS said...

1a.. Thanks for the reminder..

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRIAN!! Drink your milk, eat your wheaties, hit left handed (and be able to hit lefthanders) and grow up to be our next CF! See you in 20 years!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Mick, I wrote another post about you that somehow didn't post.

I like your positive spin. I'm reading past the negativity where there is no analysis.

The baseball gods work in strange ways. I pray that the Nats bats get hot and the Nats pitchers look like Aces again.

natsfan1a said...

Add me to the list of those who appreciate Mick. :-)

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

When David Price was getting all the praise, he got bombed and didn't get an out in the 5th inning on Monday.

On Tuesday, it was Verlander, Sale, Strasburg, and Weaver who all got rocked.

It happens to Aces all the time. They aren't machines. Chris Medlen will get rocked and when he does, lets see how he bounces back.

Much of a pitchers performance is based on confidence.

The Nats are playing teams that have nothing to lose and they are sometimes your toughest foes.

mick said...

well I am humbled... thank you....

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

MicheleS said...
1a.. Thanks for the reminder..

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRIAN!! Drink your milk, eat your wheaties, hit left handed (and be able to hit lefthanders) and grow up to be our next CF! See you in 20 years!

August 29, 2012 10:02 AM


What a special day. Happy birthday to Brian Z. and to the Z family as that is exciting news.

SonnyG10 said...

For me, nothing wrong that a seven or eight game winning streak wont take care of.

blovy8 said...

Maybe the Braves are kicking themselves for keeping Medlen in the bullpen so long. He could have won a few more games for them, and maybe they'd be closer to first and wouldn't have to waste the guy on what would a this point be a wildcard play-in game. Strasburg is going to pitch more innings than that guy.

JamesFan said...

It's going to be a wild ride from here on out. Cinch up your seat belts and hang on to the end.

JD said...


Ghost,

Your perspective is right on. Every player, every pitcher goes through rough patches. It's a long season.

Stras had no command of his fastball yesterday; he was wild in the strike zone. I would have taken him out after 3 innings when the score was 5 - 0.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

These aren't called the Kardiac Kids for no reason. They won't make anything easy.

This is where the clubhouse Veteran leadership comes into play.

The team looked lethargic prior to Colorado and came out roaring like a lion.

Hopefully Morse and Desi have better timing tonight against the rookie.

JD said...


A lot of pressure on Det tonight. It would help if we score a few runs early against the Marlins Rookie.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

JD said...

Ghost,

Your perspective is right on. Every player, every pitcher goes through rough patches. It's a long season.

Stras had no command of his fastball yesterday; he was wild in the strike zone. I would have taken him out after 3 innings when the score was 5 - 0.



August 29, 2012 10:29 AM


Absolutely or at least pinch hit for him in the top of the 5th.

A head scratcher for sure.

JD said...


Ghost,

About the offense; Nolasco threw 22 pitches in the 1st inning and I thought at the time that the key was to keep working the count and he will eventually give up some runs; he's no Tom Seaver. Morse went after the 1st pitch in the 2nd and the rest of the team followed with quick outs pretty much the rest of the way.

peric said...

Sorry JD, but since that's the topic ... and as I said I am usually right about these things having followed this team closely as many here have ...

Its all about player development and winning. Both go hand-in-hand. Find a so-called "veteran" on this team that was critical to its success? The current record?

An argument was made for Adam LaRoche at the beginning but he has now tapered off and will finish as a consistent AVERAGE first baseman. I'm not sure why Natslady is so enamored with him given his lack of speed? He is a lot slower than Morse Natslady? If not for his left-handed bat I couldn't see him coming back next season. But, given the Nats dearth of power left-handed bats who are also athletic? You're down to Bryce Harper and Corey Brown and these two are still developing, still learning. Bernadina might find his power again ... the Shark is doing what Davey wants him to do ... learning to hit line drives and once he has that down ... then power.

And Strasburg and the young pitching staff? All of them are tremendous talents ... but all are still developing still learning with the exception of EJax who should be past that now but has actually performed less consistently than the younger players.

There's another team doing the same thing ... with even younger, and perhaps somewhat less talented players. But there are more in abundance and that is the Oakland A's led by the Nat's former top 20 prospect Tommy Milone. With the influx of close to the majors talent, and given the right manager and coaching staff, they are winning now.

The Nats are going to get a lot better ... waaaaaaaayyy better ... my prediction is they will make all of these "pundits" who are calling for Strasburg to pitch look like damn fool idiots and ex-players who are just envious. With some luck on the injury front the Nats future is looking so bright you gotta wear shades.

No pundit expert expected them to do this well this year. They expected them to finish behind the Phillies, Nats, and Braves. Its the same with the A's. Young talent always tends to sneak up on you unless you are watching carefully because most aren't constantly covered unless you have MiLBTV. And even then. Plus, there's always the ubiquitous "its still just AAA AAA" its not the majors. Or they look like AAAA players. Tommy Milone a AAAA players HAH!

And so they aren't going to go out and suddenly start "geezing" with soon-to-be antiques like 30+ Bourn et al. If they make a trade its going to be for young top prospects and players they identify as sleepers. So, if you blather on endlessly and whine about the Nats not doing anything in the free agent market you will look like an idiot when they follow with seasons like this.

Stephen Strasburg put it perspective: its a learning experience. It's going to continue that way for the next couple of years. They won't need "veterans" because players like Stras and Desmond will be those leaders. They're going to go younger. And teams like the A's, the Astros, etc. are behaving like the Steve Job's competitors when they carbon copied everything he did, they are going to be watching Rizzo and his brain trust closely and following suit. Inclusive in that will be the rehabilitation of young arms post Tommy John's surgery.

peric said...

Meant to say: behind the Phillies, Mets, and Braves

JD said...


This business of an entire team not able to hold any runners on is really inexcusable at this stage of the season. It's one thing to have fast runners steal but when Carlos Lee, Greg Dobbs and Cliff Lee start stealing on you easily and against pretty much every one of our pitchers there's something fundamentally wrong.

I don't know if this can be fixed this year but Mc.Catty beetter make this a serious priority next spring.

A DC Wonk said...

Charlie and Dave said that, finally, last night would be (or should be) a wake-up call. As others noted, the other games were close and one or two plays could have decided it. But last night: not quality at bats, etc. I suspect that they will have a new outlook tonight.

peric said...

This is where the clubhouse Veteran leadership comes into play.

Strangely enough, and none of us would have expected or predicted this last year or the year before ... it looks to me like this is going to be the Desmond and Harper ... and on the pitching end of things Strasburg and Zimmermann.

I believe they are very, very close to not needing "veteran leadership". Generally, in baseball, you first lead by example. I see this more in our younger guys ... even with their gaffes and far less in the veterans.

peric said...

It's one thing to have fast runners steal but when Carlos Lee, Greg Dobbs and Cliff Lee start stealing on you easily and against pretty much every one of our pitchers there's something fundamentally wrong.

As Davey put it they are timing the pitchers. The young power pitchers like to get into a rhythm. That is certainly one of the better if not the best way to throw them out of their rhythm. Its why Rizzo went for Nyjer Morgan if you'll recall (or were you even around?). The Nats did the same thing and when they did it their record was the same as the Phillies and the Marlins. Now the tables have been turned.

What would you rather have the Nats record or theirs?

A DC Wonk said...

Is it just me or what? I can't figure out how LaRoche has such good numbers when it seems like he fails to deliver 99% of the time with runners in scoring position. I know it's not true but it just seems like it and it is frustrating when he takes that effortless, wavy swing

I want to make two important points about this:

1. LaRoche is hitting .258 overall, .262 with RISP. As for "it seems like" his effortless, wavy swing . . . that's what all his swings are like -- even the doubles and home runs.

2. The key word is, imho, "seem." We remember the melt-downs and failures because it hurts so much. We remember HRod's blown saves and losses, but don't remember so much that he had nine saves after just a month of closing. We *think* that every rookie pitches like Cy Young against the Nats, but, in fact, as of a month ago, the Nats had *the best record*, of 30 teams, against rookie pitchers. We think ALR stinks with RISP, but he doesn't.

Psychological food for thought.

JD said...


Peric,

I don't now and I never did previously disagree with the notion that development is critical to the process at all times. If you stop developing you will be a one year wonder.

Having said that; you can't rewrite history. The Nats would not be anywhere without ALR's April and hot streak in July. Werth has an OBP of about .390 and the team has also got contributions from veterans like :Clippard, Burnett,Zim,Tracy,Morse etc.

BTW, I am on record as saying we should absolutely stay away from Bourn, we should under no circumstances extend ALR's contract and we should not give EJax more than 2 years at 11 per. I also advocated bringing up and starting Brown and I am very anxious to see if Perez bat plays in the bigs.

Harper would have been better served staying in the minors until next year and Rendon needs a full year in the minors before he should be considered.

JD said...

'What would you rather have the Nats record or theirs?'

I understand about pitcher's rhythm but you still can't allow other team's to have a track meet at your expense. Other young power pitchers had great careers while still able to manage a defense against the running game.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JD said...


Ghost,

Harp will be fine. I just think he would have been better off working on his weaknesses away from the shining lights of the pennant race; in other words I think he would have been better sooner if he's stayed down.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

JD said...

Harper would have been better served staying in the minors until next year and Rendon needs a full year in the minors before he should be considered.



I think Minor League callups that have options left and youth on their side can learn and thrive at the big league level like Harp has done however most are sent back down when they are slumping for prolonged periods and do get called back up when they get hot again. Look no further than Mike Trout last year to his late April callup this year.

Davey clearly thinks he can teach guys like Danny and Harp more effectively here than in AAA. While I don't necessarily agree with that, it seems to be Davey's philosophy.

Let's all hope Harp can be a productive member of this team.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

JD, I don't disagree. I thought Corey Brown on merit deserved to be here over Harper and for the month of May to early June, Harper was a great addition to the Nats.

Since then, not so much. Again, he is performing below replacement since the All Star break. That's a problem.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

"Look no further than Mike Trout last year to his late April callup this year."

You could add Machado to that list, as well. In spite of Harp's struggles since the ASB, he belongs in the MLs.

JD said...


BTW,

Brown is struggling big time at AAA since he went back down (avg down to .280 from .300) and Eury Perez is really the one who's raking on a consistent basis. I have never seen Perez play so I can't really comment on more than just numbers but I would be really anxious to see him up in September even if for pinch running and defense only.

JD said...


Laddie,

The comparison of Harp's 2012 to Trout's 2011 is not really valid. Trout had 135 at bats (around 30 games) when the Angels recognized that he's not ready and sent him back down.

When you say Harp belongs in the MLs of course you are partially right. He is better than Nady and probably may others who are in the MLs but he is not as good as he will be eventually and the question is what's the quickest way to get him there?

My contention is that the best way would have been to let him do a full year in the minors and if you disagree that's fine too.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Harper isn't the problem here. The non-production in the 2 hole is one of the problems here.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

"Cautious optimism is always good. You have to act like a champion if you are going to be a champion."

You can act like a champion after you become a champion. You can laugh at a losing streak when you have the record of '27 Yankees, but you have to earn that attitude with your performance on the field. The Nats have not done that.

Imagine if some of the Nats were in charge of the 3rd army at Bastogne, instead of Patton. The Germans would have won the Battle of the Bulge. I do not like the attitude that accepts losing. Geez, even Davey showed a flash of anger after the last Braves game. Last night was even worse.

One thing that Harp brings to the team, that some of the veterans lack, is a competitive fire that will not be quenched and which will not accept failure. I was surprised at the apparent blase attitude of RZ after he laughed off a 3-game losing streak. They have not stepped things up, since then, they have regressed. Not surprising to me.

Harp makes plenty of mistakes, but he never gives in, and he will not accept failure, especially in himself. The vets could learn a lot from their rookie.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

The Minors is there for a reason for struggling players with options. A way to slow the game down and de-stress. It isn't a lifelong prison sentence like some equate it to.

peric said...

Brown is struggling big time at AAA since he went back down (avg down to .280 from .300) and Eury Perez is really the one who's raking on a consistent basis.

Yeah I guess that's why he was selected to the IL post-season all-star team yesterday along with Carlos Rivero? And Perez wasn't.

Perez is not as good a fielder as Brown. He is not a 5-tool player like Brown. He does not have his arm, his bat, the power isn't there. What he does have is youth and a bit more speed. But Brown is still pretty fast and he bats left-handed.

What do you do with Perez? You've got Lombardozzi and Werth who both look like better than average lead-off guys ... Lombo perhaps better and he is a switch-hitter. Plus Espinosa should eventually develop into a #1/#2 hitter as he has the requisite speed and athletic ability. Like Desmond he too could become a #3/#4 hitter as well. Think McCutchen or Kemp except, again. Espinosa is the better fielder ... doubtless he could like Pete Rose go to the outfield and win a gold glove if asked.

Perez is likely trade bait.

Its between Brown and Bernadina. Davey really likes how Roger has progressed and developed in the majors this season. Brown has made a lot of inroads in AAA as well. Its been a break out season for him.

Brown has 23 homers, 8 triples and 22 doubles all in AAA. He has a .363 OBP to go with his .284 average and has 17 stolen bases ... he might have gotten 20/20 if he had been allowed to keep the lead-off spot. And that's what changed for him ... he was moved from lead-off (for Perez) to the #2/#3 spot. He has managed to score 77 runs.

Both Brown and Bernadina likely occupy the same slot on the depth chart. Davey will look at both because let's face it odds are Bernadina will be a more valuable trade chip this coming off season. If Brown can slide into that role it could be invaluable to the team. Brown has some advantages. He is a sublime center fielder and plays all outfield positions well. He has a great arm. He has always hit for more power than Bernadina even in his off years.

Don said...

I'm curious about opinions on the season.

If the team wins 90+ games, but fails to make the playoffs or looses in the single wild card game would you consider this season a success or failure?

I know my answer, I wonder what other opinions are.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Laddie, the reason you have guys like Werth and a Manager like Davey is because they are Champions.

The Nats put the previous regime(s) attitude of perpetual loser behind them. Losing streaks happen all the time. Last week the Barves were in a 4 game losing streak until they won Wednesday.

peric said...

The Minors is there for a reason for struggling players with options. A way to slow the game down and de-stress. It isn't a lifelong prison sentence like some equate it to.

SteveM, I think we both know that is true for most teams and it certainly was under Riggleman ... except with Riggleman it was a death sentence. He'd take any veteran he might know off the waiver wire rather than try a prospect from the minors who didn't know his smart ball, small brain brand of minor league only baseball.

Johnson likes to do player development. He believes he is better than any minor league manager, coach, roving coordinator/coach. Lord knows he has the requisite cumulae vitae to make that claim. And so, as we both know, that is what he is going to do. Generally with top prospects like Bryce Harper and soon, Anthony Rendon. There will be others as long as he can manage to stay in the drivers seat.

peric said...

If the team wins 90+ games, but fails to make the playoffs or looses in the single wild card game would you consider this season a success or failure?

Monster success with a steep upward projected slope for the future.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Don said...
I'm curious about opinions on the season.

If the team wins 90+ games, but fails to make the playoffs or looses in the single wild card game would you consider this season a success or failure?

I know my answer, I wonder what other opinions are.

August 29, 2012 11:21 AM


With me, you adjust expectations all the time. I thought 85 to 88 wins was what the team had with the off-season moves.

I pointed out all off-season that I didn't see the pitching as the problem if they kept Stras, JZim, Lannan, Detwiler and added one veteran as I saw the offense as the problem.

Rizzo approached it differently and added Gio and EJax and early in the season the pitching was stealth and the offense was just enough.

Now I think anything short of 94 wins would be a disappointment and the team must make the playoffs.

T-Rex said...

Don,

Despite whatever the doom and gloomers might say, it would be a successful season in regards to long-term development. Although, I think anytime you come up short there will always be a little dissappointment - as there should be.

Ghost, I have literally never heard anyone refer to this team as "the kardiac kids."

Steady Eddie said...

I have literally never heard anyone refer to this team as "the kardiac kids.

We've been doing that on this site all summer. Even Mark may have used the term once or twice.

peric said...

Brown's replacement value is still the highest on the Syracuse Chiefs at +17.3 using baseball prospectus based stats.

Next is Rivero at 16.0 so the post-season All Star selections make sense
statistically.

After them its Carroll and Hofpauir at 13.1 and 12 respectively.

Eury Perez is only a 5.4.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

JD

"My contention is that the best way would have been to let him do a full year in the minors and if you disagree that's fine too."

I initially felt that way, too, but I have changed my mind. This would not be the same team without Harp. He brings intangibles which I did not really expect from a rookie. I believe he is an athletic genius whose brain is constantly working to improve his game. Hard to define, like pornography, but you know it when you see it.

If you are an old basketball fan, you remember that Magic and Bird had that same quality. Neither man was the physical equal of many, if not most, of their competitors, but they had a knack of finding a way to beat the other guys. I believe Harp is the same way.

Maybe a better analogy is Einstein's sudden revelation of space-time relativity that came to him while he was just watching a clock as he left a train station in Switzerland. It wasn't the clock, it was his brain that had been working the problem, for years, and the clock was just the catalyst for bringing all those years of sub-conscious work into his conscious mind.

Or you can cite Newton's inspiration for the laws of gravity from watching the fall of an apple. Some people are just gifted in ways that the rest of us are not.

If Einstein could figure out space-time relativity while he slept, Harp will figure out how to hit those slow breaking balls that have been giving him fits. The sooner he is exposed to ML pitching, the sooner he is going to figure it out.

The right move was to bring him up, but I understand your thinking, as well. In any case, it's history now, and they are not going to send him back down.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Peric, I don't know how much was Riggles and how much was Rizzo with regards to the youngsters.

Probably not good to rehash what is done is done. Riggleman has his strengths and certainly has his weaknesses.

I was never a Joe Torre fan as I saw what his record was before the Yankees but his WS Rings will have him in the ranks of best ever.

The best manager I have seen in a long time besides Davey Johnson is Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay. Nobody has been able to get so much from so little.

peric said...

Now I think anything short of 94 wins would be a disappointment and the team must make the playoffs.

They said the same about the Phillies. The difference is they are still old and the Nats are very young. The Phils have managed to turn things around and look like an over .500 club perhaps 10 games over .500 to end the season. But Halladay and Lee aren't getting any younger. Where is the pitching to replace them? The Phils will be a tough nut next season perhaps but then?

Whereas the Nats will be back, again, and again, and again. Hopefully, no one gets spoiled as happened with the Deadskins now Cooley-less.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

T-Rex, Kardiac Kids started last year and many in the media spell it the right way "Cardiac Kids", but it definitely originated here.

I think Kardiac with a K was for strikeouts or something.

I think GYFNG, Woooo Hooo, Kardiac Kids and Z-Mantis are all creations here.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

"Losing streaks happen all the time."

Of course, but winners do not accept them. I had really thought that veteran leadership coming from guys like Werth, Davey and others, would assert itself. Instead, it has been the rookies and bench guys who have stepped up recently, not the vets.

I find that very odd.

blovy8 said...

Losing the wildcard game would still be a success. I don't buy the changed expectations. I thought this was an 88 win team if a lot of things went right. This team has earned their record, if they play poorly now that clubs play better against them, or the pitchers break down over the running game, etc. they will still be a better team than I had hoped this year, and will have a lot to look forward to next year.

You can hope for more innings from Strasburg, Detwiler, Storen, and Zimmermann. More games from Ramos and Werth, better play from Harper, and similar play from the other core guys. Next year can still be "the year". If anything, either way, the current difficulty will be a lesson either way.

peric said...

I think GYFNG, Woooo Hooo, Kardiac Kids and Z-Mantis are all creations here..

I still think they should have a mantis and a shark eating the presidents in the president's race. If Teddy can't win at least they could make a mini-horror movie to entertain ... maybe throw in Henry McCoy as "the Beast".

JD said...


'If the team wins 90+ games, but fails to make the playoffs or looses in the single wild card game would you consider this season a success or failure?'

It would be a huge disappointment given our current position. Even with the current slump we have a 99% mathematical chance to make the playoffs and we still have a tremendous pitching rotation which normally gives us a chance to win every night.

I predicted 85 - 88 wins as well but if you get to 77 by mid august that number has to be adjusted upwards.

Pilchard said...

Time for Detwiler to step up?

How about time for the offense to step up?

As poorly as SS pitched the offense was worse. Going into last night, this is how many times Ricky Nolasco failed to give up a run this year: ZERO.

The Nats have score 6 runs over this 5 game losing streak, and Tyler Moore has driven in 3 of those runs. During this tailspin, the Nats have gotten essentially nothing out of the group that is supposed to be the core of the offense: Zimmerman (1 RBI and 1 extra base hit in his last 13 games), LaRoche (1 RBI in his last 13 games; homer-less since August 4), Werth (0 RBI in his last 10 games; homer-less since May), Morse (1 RBI his last 7 games; 1 HR is his last 10 starts, Espinosa (0 RBI in his last 7 games; 1 extra base hit in his last 10 games) and Harper (3 HRs since June 29; 0 RBI in last 6 games; 6 extra base hits since July 26). Where has the power gone?

peric said...

Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay. Nobody has been able to get so much from so little.

Maddon is certainly better (Although I'm sure Davey would strongly disagree and that's good!) and if you notice he does the same thing. He takes prospects from Tampa's rich farm system and builds year-in year-out winners hand-in-hand with their underrated GM.

blovy8 said...

It's bs to think you need some "leader" to be a hothead in baseball. That guy ends up yelling a lot and gets ignored. Immature babies start breaking helmets and bats when things don't go their way. That doesn't help you win. That is misplace energy that should be directed at playing better baseball. That just helps equipment manufacturers make their money and sportswriters to make their copy.

natsfan1a said...

Put me down in the "success" column, because they would still have exceeded the expectations of the majority of prognosticators and pundits. :-) Of course, I'd also be ecstatic if they do make/go deep into the playoffs.

'If the team wins 90+ games, but fails to make the playoffs or looses in the single wild card game would you consider this season a success or failure?'

natsfan1a said...

Speaking of breaking helmets, I assume that the replacement cost will be coming out of the kid's allowance, er, paycheck? :-)

bowdenball said...

Laddie Blah Blah said...

"'Losing streaks happen all the time.'"

Of course, but winners do not accept them. I had really thought that veteran leadership coming from guys like Werth, Davey and others, would assert itself. Instead, it has been the rookies and bench guys who have stepped up recently, not the vets.

I find that very odd."


It must be pretty cool to have constant access to the clubhouse and dugout. Know that I have some inkling as to your position I REALLY appreciate your insight here. But do you really think it's wise for someone who is obviously employed by the club and playing a key role in their day to day operations to be posting about the team on an internet message board?

rabbit34 said...

The pitchers we have can ALL be stoppers. The problem is we don't have any bats to back them up. WE NEED BATS!! Get Lombo and Moore back in the lineup. At least! Morse, Zim, Werthless, Espo, Desmond, let them rest. Some much longer than others. Yeah, give Zimmerman another shot or two. Here come da Braves!! Go Chipper!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Bowdenball, So Laddie works for the team?

MicheleS said...

Ian will be on ESPN 980 at 1:15...maybe listening to someone on the team will get us off the ledge. :-)

bowdenball said...

Seems like it, Ghost of Steve M. How else would he know that the veteran leadership hasn't asserted itself, right?

natsfan1a said...

Your snarkdar may need adjusting, Ghost. :-)

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

natsfan1a said...
Your snarkdar may need adjusting, Ghost. :-)

August 29, 2012 12:40 PM


Yah, bought that hook, line and sinker! In the Stan regime I often felt like he had clones out there posting on sites.

It wouldn't surprise me if a passionate employee posted their own insight.

peric said...

.Speaking of breaking helmets, I assume that the replacement cost will be coming out of the kid's allowance, er, paycheck? :-)

Why? Is it any different than the very emotional Mike Rizzo raising his voice to Davey Johnson after losing to the hated Phillies? He's mad at his own performance not at any particular individual. Harper deeply cares about his performance and not letting down the team.

If I'm a GM that attitude is enough to make me want to sign the guy to a huge extension right now Boras be damned. But, I guess I'd make a lousy GM when it came to the Lerner's money ... ~smiles~

peric said...

It must be pretty cool to have constant access to the clubhouse and dugout. Know that I have some inkling as to your position I REALLY appreciate your insight here.

Nevertheless, in any endeavor ... whether it be professional athletics or building a supercomputer ... its results and performance that counts when it comes to leadership Bowdenball.

So, by that simple, "mundane" observation Laddie is spot on.

peric said...

Yah, bought that hook, line and sinker! In the Stan regime I often felt like he had clones out there posting on sites.

We all know he definitely did SteveM. ~laughing~ Absolutely no doubt about it.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

I caught the last 20 minutes of the Rizzo Report on 106.7

One questioner was concerned about all the players at league minimum that could be scooped up and paid 10 times that amount by another team and mentioned players like Lombo, Stammen, and others.

Rizzo assured him that all those players at league minimum had at least 3 to 6 more years of team control.

I think it was Danny who commented that many DC callers weren't yet knowledgeable about baseball.

Hopefully I didn't botch my recollection of the comments too badly.

peric said...

Rizzo assured him that all those players at league minimum had at least 3 to 6 more years of team control.

Its not money as much as team control. Albeit from both the Lerner's and Rizzo's perspective it would be nice if they could put a hammerlock on MASN and get something closer to LA area dollars since the area is on par population and market wise. To stay competitive with the new Nats-inspired rules in the draft, the Nats need that funding source. And uncle Bud has to know that he put some serious handcuffs on teams like the Nats and A's who are trying to make it in a game dominated by Yankee and Dodger dollars. You can't just have two teams as it would be hard to compete with the NFL and other sports.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

peric, not sure exactly how LA is divided for media rights by population but if you take the "5 Counties" of LA which would be like taking all the DC Metro, LA is a little more than double the size of DC.

If you use population to your advantage then there should be a case for getting close to 1/2 what LA ends up with as the new standard.

peric said...

If you use population to your advantage then there should be a case for getting close to 1/2 what LA ends up with as the new standard.

Still, probably a lot more than they are getting now.

Because of injuries the timeline gets pushed out as far as their top prospect pitchers under development. I'm not even sure what's going on with Nate Karns. I think some who call in to the Rizzo show look at our comments. If anyone wouldn't mind asking I'd love to see a direct no-holds barred question about Nate Karns.

Alex Meyer is making good progress, looks better than Brad Peacock as a starter. But that's it. And we've got three top prospects recovering from arm injuries in Purke, Solis, Giolito and now perhaps Karns again? And like a few others here I suspect that Danny Rosenbaum may have some injury problems that he isn't admitting to. The bright spot may just be Ryan Perry a power pitcher who is now doing what Balester whom he replaced was supposed to : turn himself in a top 3 starter.

I don't like going into next season with Yunesky Maya and John Lannan as the starting rotation depth. Ryan Perry is a bright spot but after this year he can't be optioned to the minors and you know that the Astro's would claim him in a heartbeat if he were placed on waivers.

A DC Wonk said...

Of course, but winners do not accept them. I had really thought that veteran leadership coming from guys like Werth, Davey and others, would assert itself. Instead, it has been the rookies and bench guys who have stepped up recently, not the vets.

How do we know that? Did JZ "step up"? Did Strasburg "step up" last night? Sure, "Vets" LaRoche and Werth went hitless last night -- but so did younger guys Ian and Espi.

To blame this on vets is off base, imho. This losing streak is a _team_ losing streak. Maybe not all of them are, but this one sure is.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

I believe Rizzo also said he shut down Alex Meyer at 130 innings.

peric said...

To blame this on vets is off base, imho. This losing streak is a _team_ losing streak. Maybe not all of them are, but this one sure is.

I think the point is not to "blame"? Look at it this way Werth is now either a lead-off hitter or a #7 hitter due to the development of the young players. If they get Ramos back Werth could even end up batting 8th if he isn't leading off or batting 2nd. But, it looks like Harper has the #2 slot for the foreseeable future. So ???

And LaRoche has returned to form a third or 4th tier first baseman. In other words basically flat-line average. DeRosa is always hurt as has happened over the last 3 years with him. And until Zimmerman gets moved to first base for Rendon I think the possibilities of Zim finishing a season reasonably healthy are remote. He can't continue to average around 400 at bats and expect to be a leader.

So, there has been a shift in "leadership" to younger players who are in it to the end ... through thick-and-thin. They are growing and developing together. That's a good thing not a bad thing.

There's no blame. Its just the way things were intended to evolve IMO.

peric said...

I do hope we see more of Tyler Moore in the lineup come this September. As opposed to those veterans. And yes, as Natslady I'm sure will remind us, he is a very weak left fielder, but not bad at firstbase. And he is solid against right-handed pitching ... so ... it may be time to give T-Mo more time and veterans like LaRoche less.

Doc said...

Thanks Peric for tabling some stats on Brown, Perez, and Rivero.

Given the uptick that Davey has given the Nats' stats world, hopefully he's looking at the same data.

The Shark has done well in a bench roll, but he never duplicated Brown's stats in the minors. I'd like to see Brown with the Nats 25 man roster next year.

pRAA with the ISO said...

I think the possibilities of Zim finishing a season reasonably healthy are remote. He can't continue to average around 400 at bats and expect to be a leader.

Dude, in his eight seasons in MLB Zimmerman has a total of 3733 at bats. That's an average of 466 per season - even counting his one month callup in 2005 and this not yet completed season as full seasons. So in order for him to continue averaging 400 at bats he would first have to start averaging 400 at bats.

You need to get a new argument, dude. This one is old and tired.

natsfan1a said...

Nor would it surprise me.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Yah, bought that hook, line and sinker! In the Stan regime I often felt like he had clones out there posting on sites.

It wouldn't surprise me if a passionate employee posted their own insight.
August 29, 2012 12:51 PM

peric said...

Dude, in his eight seasons in MLB Zimmerman has a total of 3733 at bats.

Well they are going to look at the past three years. A believe me that is what Nats brass WILL LOOK at in the case of Michael Morse arguably their best power hitter? And even Jayson Werth in spite of the contract? Players do age and injuries can be cumulative! Mr. Pants-down-o-mine actually believe they won't apply the same criteria to Zim. That they haven't already?

In 2010 Zim has a .204 ISO and a 142 wRC+. Those are face-of-the-franchise numbers. Due to injuries those numbers have deteriorated significantly.

From a [b]RAA of 33.1 in 2010 to around 10.5 which is still pretty good but not what Zim is capable of offensively in what is arguably his prime years. Again due to injuries.

In 2009 and 2010 Zim had 33 and 25 home runs, 37 and 32 doubles. 110 runs in 2009 and 85 in 2010. 106 and 85 RBI. In two years he had under 500 at bats: 2008 and 2011. And his numbers shrunk precipitously again as a result of injury.

Right now Zim has 73 runs and 67 RBI with 28 doubles. Yet, he definitely has still has injury issues with that shoulder. Amazing considering the injuries.

The need Zim to be the Zim of 2009 and 2010 while he is still in his prime. And the best way to get him back to those numbers might be (no guarantees) is to move him to first base where the risk of injury in the field should be less. And he should be able to play at a gold glove level there.

I can't see putting Rendon at first base. For starters I think he is a bit too short for that. So, if you look at it objectively, Rendon at third base with Zim at first makes an abundant amount of sense. It leads to the most athletic infield in baseball. Unfortunately, predominantly right-handed with one switch hitter. But with two players that can readily shift positions if need be in Espinosa and Zim.





rabbit34 said...

We all know so much,....yet so little.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

Bowdenball

"But do you really think it's wise for someone who is obviously employed by the club and playing a key role in their day to day operations to be posting about the team on an internet message board?"

I assure you I have no position with the club. If I did, I would never talk out of school. I worked in various security positions in the past when such talk was downright dangerous. Please do not blame some poor innocent on the Nats staff for my opinions, which is all I am posting, with no insider information, at all.

William O. Douglas Loeffler said...

Baseball is a sport where it is generally not possible to overpower your opponent. This differs from football, hockey, basketball and even soccer, where you can attempt to play with more exertion against inferior opponents.

I don't think many fans perceive how important a point this is. Basically, it means that the inferior team wins much more in baseball than in most other team sports. I agree that the Nats seem to lack fire lately, but how exactly can we discern this? They aren't knocking heads and bodies like in football and basketball.

Streaks are a part of baseball and random streaks they usually are. When the Nats were winning 7 or 8 in a row, we didn't think to say, boy, have we been lucky, but when the streaks go the other way, we perhaps blame it more on lackadaisical play.

With respect to the pitchers, Orel Hershisher had one of the greatest years ever in 1985. He went 60 innings without giving up a run and ended up with a 19-3 and an ERA of about 2. When the Dodgers faced win or elimination against the Cardinals, he was on the mound and gave up 4 runs in 6+ innings as the Dodgers were eliminated. Walter Johnson lost both of his starts in the 1924 World Series, and got absolutely rocked in one of them, while scores of mediocre pitchers have won series starts. Bob Gibson lost 9 times the year he broke Johnson's ERA record.

People overestimate the ability of even the greatest pitchers to always be great on any given day.

I think this team is probably a 90 win team. There have been times where I was more sanguine, when Moore and Harper and Espinosa and Desmond were hitting better, along with Morse and Zimmerman, but perhaps the league has learned how to pitch to us, and as long as umpires keep giving the far outside strike to pitchers against LaRoche and Harper, we may continue to struggle, especially since the pitching has begun to come back a bit to earth, as is to be expected.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

"Seems like it, Ghost of Steve M. How else would he know that the veteran leadership hasn't asserted itself, right?"

Because I watch the games, silly. The guys who have been stepping up are the rooks and subs. If you don't believe me, then watch the replays, if you can, on VOD.

And it was Zim who was quoted as laughing at the reality of a 3-game losing streak, by Mark, right on this blog. You can go back and check that for yourself. And it was ALR and Werth whose lackadaisical play against the Braves provoked Davey's wrath. Pay attention, and you might notice a few things.

Now, if you have any facts that contradict that narrative, let's hear 'em.

pRAA with the ISO said...

peric said...
Dude, in his eight seasons in MLB Zimmerman has a total of 3733 at bats.

Well they are going to look at the past three years.


2010: 525 AB
2011: 395 AB
2012: 450 AB and counting

That's an average of 456 minimum over the past three years - well over 400. You're delusional if you think they're going to bump Zimmerman in favor of a kid who hasn't been able to complete one professional season yet without getting hurt.

Faraz Shaikh said...

Happy Bday to Brian. Nats will get back to winning ways. worry not!

bowdenball said...

Laddie Blah Blah-

Can you define "stepping up" for me? What do you mean by that? Because to me, it sounds like empty nonsense.

Sure you can condemn a couple dumb or lazy plays like the Werth/LaRoche HR debacle in Philly, or Strasburg's failure to hold runners last night, or Espinosa's bobbled grounder and baserunning error. Every team makes mistakes like those over the course of the season, but that doesn't mean fans and the team should tolerate them. If you criticize those plays, I'm behind you 100%.

But those plays cost us a run or two here or there. Not one of them would have changed any of the results of the last five games. We lost the games because the heart of the order has gone cold at the plate. That's not a question of effort or "stepping up." It's just one of those things that happens in baseball. Every hitter gets hot or cold. The fact that Lombo and Moore have been "hot" for the last week and Zim and Werth and LaRoche and Morse haven't is nothing more than chance. I'm sure I can find a week where Lombo and Moore were cold and Zim and Werth were hitting great fairly easily. Were those guys "stepping up" in those weeks while Lombo and Moore were slacking? I don't think so, do you? I think that's just how baseball goes.

NatsLady said...

I am a tad worried about Harper. That's two games he didn't hustle on the basepaths, and I saw a flyball that he could have caught (seemed like he backed away from an infielder and it dropped between them).

Didn't get to see much of the game, but it seems to me that it might have gone very differently if they had given Stras a 2-0 lead in the first inning. I'm sure he felt all the pressure of being the "stopper" after a 4-game skid.

Desi said something to that effect in his interview today. Said the offense really let Stras down, and he implied it affected how he pitched.

As for leaving Stras in after the 3rd, I don't see what the issue is. Over and over again I've tried to express that the innings limit is not a magic formula, and 2 innings chopped off this start can't be added up and result in an extra start in September.

Davey likes his young pitchers to leave with a "good result" if possible, but leaving after three at 5-0 is not a good result. So might as well leave him in like you would with EJax until the bullpen can handle it.

And why waste a pinch hitter when Stras is as good as anyone on the bench (except Tracy)? If by some miracle the game gets close you want your bench for later in the game. If not, nothing's lost.

Wasn't sure why he used Stammen rather than Gorzy though. Doesn't that mess up the BP because Stammen's not available today if Det goes short?

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Nats have released their AFL roster. Rendon, Goodwin Garcia and Perry and Martinson, and others

peric said...

As for leaving Stras in after the 3rd, I don't see what the issue is. Over and over again I've tried to express that the innings limit is not a magic formula, and 2 innings chopped off this start can't be added up and result in an extra start in September.

Rizzo did express the notion that the type of innings pitched factor into it. The pressure of being the "stopper" to halt a losing streak. Are those high pressure innings? Do they count double? Triple?

Its not a hard and fast measurement but they appear to have an agreed upon number in their collective minds; thus Davey trying to get Lannan rmped up and ready to go.

peric said...

Looks like Paul Demny is going and that's all beyond your list Ghost?

peric said...

Looks like Ryan Perry is officially a top "prospect" again.

NatsLady said...

Agree on the "stepping up." That is something fans say (and I've said it), but it implies they were slacking off, which I highly doubt under the circumstances.

peric said...

I am a tad worried about Harper. That's two games he didn't hustle on the basepaths, and I saw a flyball that he could have caught (seemed like he backed away from an infielder and it dropped between them).

Yes, that's really not good at all. I noticed the lack of zeal on the base paths as well? Might be getting too much criticism or caution about taking risks? Still think he needs a 15-day DL trip home before the playoffs. Or with the expanded rosters 4 or 5 days at home with the kinfolk?

peric said...

I suspect Demny is a last minute substitute for the now injured Nate Karns.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

"Can you define "stepping up" for me? What do you mean by that? Because to me, it sounds like empty nonsense."

Hitting with RISP. Advancing runners. Getting on base. Fielding your position. Running the bases aggressively, but prudently. The rooks and subs have done all of those recently with far more productivity than the vets during the recent losing streak. You can look it up.

"I'm sure I can find a week where Lombo and Moore were cold and Zim and Werth were hitting great fairly easily. Were those guys "stepping up" in those weeks while Lombo and Moore were slacking? I don't think so, do you? I think that's just how baseball goes."

All valid points, to be sure, but we are not just talking about a bad spell of hitting by the vets (see my list, above).

The rooks and subs have stepped it up in every category I listed, above, and the vets, as a group and individually, have failed in every single one of them, during that losing streak.

NatsLady said...

peric, I do think they have a number, but it's probably more a number of starts (and pitches) rather than a number of innings, especially as we get close.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

"Agree on the "stepping up." That is something fans say (and I've said it), but it implies they were slacking off, which I highly doubt under the circumstances."

I was not implying anything. I am specifically stating that they did not produce at the same level as the rooks and subs in any meaningful performance category during the losing streak, and that is an easily verifiable fact. See my comment to bowdenball, above.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

One more pitcher to add. Is Purke going to be healthy

peric said...

One more pitcher to add. Is Purke going to be healthy

I would have thought Nate Karns for sure ... much further along than Purke.

As you stated with the innings limit on Meyer it would be Karns or Rosenbaum. I guess Jeff Mandel is now a bit old to be a prospect you'd send to the AFL.

That's all I can come up with.

JD said...


Laddie,

I think that Bowdenball and NL's point is that when players are in slumps we tend to draw conclusions about their efforts, injuries etc. and that's a leap of faith. All we know ids that they are slumping which will happen in the course of a long season and based on our excellent record it has happened to us less than to other teams.

JD said...


Peric,

Rosenbaum is turning 25 in October (Karns in November) so I don't know how much longer they can be considered prospects.

rabbit34 said...

Stepping up???? Empty nonsense = these posts!! GO NATIONALS!!

Swift Eagle said...

NatsLady

Off Topic...

Remember the 40% off MLB Shop discount code for the MLB.com blackout in July?

The discount code actually does expire 09/30/12...even though they didn't mention an expiration date in the e-mail

Make sure you use it!

peric said...

Rosenbaum is turning 25 in October (Karns in November) so I don't know how much longer they can be considered prospects.

Christian Garcia is 27. He's more than 2 years older. He's a prospect and is going to the AFL. As is Ryan Perry.

JD, please try reading Luke Erickson's article on prospect age and how that works. Both he and Brian Oliver (Natsfarm) are the source of the ideas.

JD said...



Peric,

I will. My gut feeling is that they are all too old for they levels to be considered real prospects.

A DC Wonk said...

Desi said something to that effect in his interview today. Said the offense really let Stras down, and he implied it affected how he pitched.

Stras didn't look impressive in even the first inning. Did the lack of offense in the top of the first effect him? No way.

peric said...

Too old for a level.

Note I am adding my "caveat" based on what I inferred reading what both Luke Erickson and Brian Oliver often seem to say.

Players who repeat levels and are older may not qualify as "prospects" in the same sense as a prospect like Nate Karns who has rapidly mastered each level and moved on. In Karn's case an injury and subsequent injury kept him from starting. The same can be said for Christian Garcia who was converted to a reliever from a starter in the Yankees organization after two Tommy John's surgeries. In the case of Ryan Perry he was exclusively a reliever throughout his minor league and brief forays into the major leagues. The Nats made him a starter as he suggested and this season was the very first time he has started in his professional career.

In any case there are caveats/exceptions.

Now in the case of Jeff Mandel he has repeated AA and AAA a couple of times. As unfortunately has Corey Brown. Even Eury Perez has had to repeat levels due to underachievement. But because Perez is so young he is still considered a prospect. Carlos Rivero may not even though he is the right age for AAA ball. He has repeated levels and this is basically his very first good season as a pro.

There's a lot of gray area. I defer to Luke Erickson, Brian Oliver, and Byron Kerr on these matters.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

JD

"I think that Bowdenball and NL's point is that when players are in slumps we tend to draw conclusions about their efforts, injuries etc. and that's a leap of faith."

I never said anything about their efforts. I confined my critique to their performance. Anyone can speculate as to cause, but I do not. I stick to what I see on the field and what is reported by the press. You can reread my comments, if you like, and if you do, that is what you will find.

"All we know (is) that they are slumping which will happen in the course of a long season and based on our excellent record it has happened to us less than to other teams."

JD, this is not just a hitting slump. See my list of performance measures to bowdenball, and tell me where it is factually inaccurate.

peric said...

and subsequent injury kept him from starting.

I meant to say subsequent surgery.

A DC Wonk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gonat said...

Lineup: Werth RF, Harper CF, Zim 3B, LaRoche 1B, Morse LF, Desmond SS, Espinosa 2B, Suzuki C, Detwiler LHP

JD said...


Laddie,

You are right, it's not just a hitting slump; it's a team slump and that too happens.

NatsLady said...

Eagle, thanks. I used the coupon for a nice hoodie-sweater. Now I just need to have a use for the sweater. :)

Scooter said...

I think the question of who is a "real prospect" depends in large part on what you think you're prospecting for. Of course, not everyone can be as great as Anderson Hernandez. So you can't insist on only getting Anderson Hernandezes. And if you do so insist, well, you're just naturally going to be disappointed in how few Anderson Hernandezes you end up with. But a guy doesn't have to be all "Anderson Hernandez WHOA!" to be useful.

A DC Wonk said...

The rooks and subs have stepped it up in every category I listed, above, and the vets, as a group and individually, have failed in every single one of them, during that losing streak.

I'll ask again: did Stras "step it up" last night? Did JZ the night before? Has Harper "stepped it up" recently -- you know, the guy in the #2 hole that's been hitting .195 since the all star break?

OTOH, Morse is hitting .278 with 8 HR since the break. Werth is hitting .325 since the break. RZ is hitting .341 since the break, and .306 in August.

So, how can you say it's the rooks "stepping it up" (whatever that means) and the vets aren't?

The division between rooks and vets just doesn't apply here.

See my list of performance measures to bowdenball, and tell me where it is factually inaccurate.

Tell me where you are factually accurate. You haven't cited a single stat. I've cited a bunch here.

peric said...

Tell me where you are factually accurate. You haven't cited a single stat. I've cited a bunch here.

In August Lombardozzi is hitting .309 with 3 doubles and 2 triples.
In August Espinosa is hitting .265 with 3 doubles and 5 home runs.
In August Roger Berndina is hitting .424 with 2 doubles.

Moore has gotten far fewer at bats than these guys.

NatsLady said...

Wonk--you don't think Stras felt the pressure when he saw the Nats flubbed around and didn't score in the top of the first? After four games when the offense scored bupkis?

Here's what I see: Stras knows he's getting shut down, and he's close with the other SP's who will pick up the slack. He knows the team is in a pennant race where every win counts. He knows the team is depending on him to be the "stopper" (whether that's fair or not). He wants to win, and puts a lot of pressure on himself to do so. He got edgy, didn't get calls going his way, etc. To me, he would have been much less edgy if he'd gone into the bottom of the first with a lead.

In theory he knows "he can only control what he can control", and he should pitch the same game no matter the score, but that's hard for human beings to do. I was a little surprised at what Desi said--only because he said what I observed and players don't normally say that type of thing on the radio.

NatsLady said...

I should say, Stras got more edgy than usual. He's always uber-competitive. He's always out there "stepping up." LOL

NatsLady said...

Re: Harper. Rizzo said today that the best thing for him would be to play "every damn day." So. There it is.

natsfan1a said...

I don't remember the code, if I ever knew it. Probably deleted the mlb.com email as soon as it hit my in-box. :-(

Swift Eagle said...

NatsLady

Off Topic...

Remember the 40% off MLB Shop discount code for the MLB.com blackout in July?

The discount code actually does expire 09/30/12...even though they didn't mention an expiration date in the e-mail

Make sure you use it!
August 29, 2012 3:42 PM

peric said...

Re: Harper. Rizzo said today that the best thing for him would be to play "every damn day." So. There it is.

Yep, I guess they've decided to let him play his way out of his funk[s]. I hope it works.

peric said...

I remember the code. They owe me more than that code is all I know. There were a couple of other times that happened.

natsfan1a said...

ohnevermind, it was for tv subscribers. I only did radio.

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