Thursday, August 23, 2012

Does Harper deserve everyday job?

Photo by Bob Youngentob / CSNwashington.com
Bryce Harper went 2-for-13 with six strikeouts in three games against Atlanta.
Though he's not producing nearly as much as he did during the first two months of his big-league career, Bryce Harper is making positive contributions to the team with the best record in baseball. Just look at his 4-for-8, 2-homer weekend against the Mets.

But Harper's offensive production has turned painfully inconsistent. Just look at his last three nights against the Braves (2-for-13, six strikeouts).

Look, any 19-year-old (no matter how talented and brash) is going to struggle at times in the major leagues. And Harper continues to do things few teenagers have ever done in this game before. But make no mistake, he is struggling right now, and he might just be hurting the Nationals more than he's helping them.

Owner of a .210 batting average and .279 on-base percentage over his last 59 games, Harper is putting up numbers worse than anyone on the Nationals roster who isn't a catcher or pitcher. And it's not just the numbers; it's his poor approach at the plate, which was painfully noticeable the last three nights.

It's no secret opposing pitchers have figured out the book on Harper: Feed him almost exclusively offspeed stuff down and away and watch him chase those pitches out of the strike zone. Which he's doing in spades. Worse, when someone does decide to bust him inside with a fastball, Harper doesn't look ready for it and often takes it for a strike.

In short, he's guessing at the plate instead of using his natural abilities and keen batting eye to react to what he's being thrown.

"He's just overly aggressive, overly aggressive, trying to put a big charge in it," manager Davey Johnson said. "He wasn't quite that aggressive early, and now he's going through a little slump. But he'll make adjustments. He'll get through it."

The question is whether Johnson can continue to let Harper get through it on a daily basis.

If the Nationals were out of the race and playing for the future -- as they were each of the last six seasons -- there'd be no debate. Harper would play every day and gain valuable experience.

But this team finds itself in a pennant race, trying to hold off the Braves in the NL East and perhaps post the best record in the NL and secure a Division Series matchup with the one-game wild-card winner plus home-field advantage straight through the World Series.

Can the Nationals afford to use the No. 2 spot in their lineup on a rookie mired in a two-month slump?

The situation is complicated all the more by the production the Nationals are getting from two other, less-hyped rookies. Steve Lombardozzi has 18 hits in his last 33 at-bats, including pinch-hit singles in each of the last three games. Tyler Moore owns an .883 OPS over his last 43 games. The more-experienced Roger Bernadina has a .909 OPS over his last 29 games.

Should any one of those guys get at-bats in place of Harper?

"I always think about all those things; that's what my job is," Johnson said. "It's my job to try to find ways to get these young guys ... now that I've got a regular lineup, I'll have to try to get them in. Nothing has gone on in my head on how to do it yet."

97 comments:

bacabac said...

Put Lombo in and let Bryce PH.

Tcostant said...

We're up 6 games. Keep Harper in the lineup and hope he works it out. If he isn't right by mid-September drop him in the lineup. If he still idn't right, et Lombo in there for half his at bats late in teh year.

Old Wino said...

The Nats are in the race, but still playing for the future. I say play him, he will come around and the experience will be valuable for future runs to the playoffs.

Old Wino said...

The Nats are in the race, but still playing for the future. I say play him, he will come around and the experience will be valuable for future runs to the playoffs.

MicheleS said...

Whatever Davey wants to do is what i am signing up for. Can't argue with the results he has gotten out of the team.

rarumberger said...

I have no problem with him continuing to play poorly as long as we're winning and postseason-bound. But come playoffs, you've got to put the best available team on the field.

That may mean Bernadina, or it may mean Lombardozzi. It really depends on how comfortable we are with Werth in CF, Lombo in LF, and Morse in RF as our playoff starting roster. That's a pretty shaky defensive team, whereas the alternative is perfectly good.

I'd lean toward Bernadina as the starter, with ample opportunities for Harper to play his way back into the lineup.

howl31 said...

I'd wager Harper has one more hot streak in him... And hopefully it starts about September 25th and goes until about October 25th...

whatsanattau said...

I'm with Davey too. It's not like we have a natural righthanded centerfielder he could platoon with. Lombo deserves playing time, but I'm not so sure that it should come at Harper's expense. Some nights Danny looks like he's swinging from a different dimension. Lombo might need to play second.

Wonder what this lineup would look like now if Mike Cameron had not agreed to play and then backed out on Rizzo last spring. Clearly Rizzo identified the need for a RH centerfielder. But byt the time Cameron realized he wanted to retire, all the candidates were gone....

Jim Webster said...

Pleasantly amazed, stunned even, to see such unanimity in the posts above ... maybe a good sign going forward that the perennial pessimists are beginning to cheer.

NatsLady said...

I'm not sure what the point would be of taking Harper out of the lineup unless he is tired or hurting, and that would just be for a day or two.

We lived through Espinosa's slump--well, Davey did. Harper isn't going to learn to hit lefties unless he faces them. I agree with Tcostant. You could swap Harper and Espy in the lineup, but I'm not sure if that would help, since you want him to see more pitches, not fewer. I think just remind him he doesn't have to be a hero, take walks if they are given to him as he did before.

It's exactly because he is nineteen that even he, Bryce Harper, might have a little insecurity, especially when a light hitting catcher (Flores) hits a HR against a pitcher he can't touch. He shouldn't be "auditioning" for his job, as Davey says. Right now, it's not costing us. If it starts costing, then you re-evaluate.

I'd worry more about Morse's slump than Harper's, I worry every time mores rubs his shoulder or his chest, because another injury could be lurking.

sjm308 said...

This is really a tough call and I had a question about it earlier. As little outfield as Harper has played, Lombo has played even less and is really limited to LF. If you play Moore or Lombo, that moves Morse to RF and gives us a very weak outfield defensively. Werth will do whatever is asked but the reality is Harper gives us the best defensive outfield with the players we have available. He is obviously stuggling and maybe a day off against a tough lefty is smart but like Michelle, I will trust Davey on this. Look how many were screaming about Desmond early in the season and how did that work out. Same with Espinosa when his left handed stats were below the Mendoza line and how is he doing now?

One thing I certainly would not do is make a change going into the playoffs. That is probably the worst time to be tinkering. Let this play out now and maybe a few days off will help but the bottom line to me is that Bryce needs to play in the big games and will probably make a difference in those.

Go Nats!!

NatsLady said...

sjm, it is a tough call, and a good topic for Mark to bring up. I love Lombo, but you don't "earn" the right to play, it has to fit, and right now he doesn't fit as a starter. He would weaken the outfield, and while he wouldn't weaken the infield--as we've seen--we aren't allowed five infielders under the current MLB rules...

SonnyG10 said...

Excellent comments, my virtual friends. I'm not sure how it should be handled, so I will rely on Davey to figure it out

Candide said...

I have a much tougher question.

There's no game tonight. What am I supposed to do from 6:30 to 10:30? I already mowed the lawn and did the laundry today.

Doc said...

I'm with whatever Davey dreams up---which apparently he's still dreaming about.

Harps has to realize that he's never gonna hit those outside breaking pitches the way he's currently swinging---but he already knows that!

Ron In Reston said...

I have some laundry you could do, and maybe you could make dinner while you're at it? ;)

baseballswami said...

I don't think Lombo playing is a case earning or not earning. It's also not a case of Harper losing his starting job. I have noticed that often when Bryce does sit, he hits better after that. He can still work out his struggles with even one day a week off. Desi just returned - yes, he is a strong dude, but does running him out there every single day, 13 innings, rain delays, make total sense? If the team can continue to eke out wins with Bryce figuring things out fine, but if and when we really need offense, you just have to put someone in there who is making contact. If the offense starts to sputter then a change might be needed. I also think it is smart to keep guys sharp out there, especially when it won't hurt the team to have them play. It is such a luxury that we have bench guys who don't weaken the line up. So , Candide is making dinner for everyone tonight?

McR-rich said...

Sounds like a good night to catch up on all the DVR watching that got neglected during the last 24 games. :)

I agree on Morse more than Harper. The league has a book now and the kid needs ABs to adjust and slow things back down. Morse is a monster, but his slump makes me worry a bit, and he looks a little slower in the OF. or is that just me?

natsfan1a said...

Dinner? That'd be awesome, thanks. I don't like fish, but otherwise I'm not too choosy.

On topic, I'm for whatever Davey decides.

natsfan1a said...

Re. DVR watching, I just watched a back episode of The Franchise. One down, one to go. Now I kinda heart John Buck, though. Dang. I gotta stop falling for the opposition guys. :-)

pRAA with the ISO said...

we aren't allowed five infielders under the current MLB rules

There's no rule that says you can't have five infielders. You just have to remove one outfielder, pitcher or catcher to make room.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Putting 5 infielders in play happens all the time when the winning run is on third and less than 2 outs.Teams go the 2 outfielder 5 infielders in to cut down the run at the plate.

Not sure what MLB rule you're thinking of NatsLady.

NatsLady said...

So, I'm listening to Baseball Today, and they have this pitcher on there, Mitch Williams ("Wild Thing") who was closer and gave up a lot of walks. Might give some insight to Clip as a closer.

(1) He didn't care about the walks ("only my manager and my teammates cared about the walks"), he pitched a lot to the on-deck circle, meaning, if he had a guy up who could hit his stuff and a guy in the on-deck circle who couldn't, the guy in the box would be swinging at balls or he'd be walking;

(2) He took advantage of the hitters' aggressiveness, especially with men on base. "These guys want to see their names in the paper tomorrow, if there are men on 2nd and 3rd they wouldn't take a walk if I threw the resin bag at them four times." If the "closer" comes in earlier, guys are more relaxed, so that's why the closer might get hit more.

A lot of what he talked about was on the hitters, not the pitcher. He said, the hitters don't care how the pitcher feels, they hit what they see, not whether the pitcher is tired/sick etc.

NatsLady said...

NJ--LOL. I meant a starting infield with five guys....y'know, so Lombo could start. Would mean 10 guys on the field....

NatsJack in Florida said...

Oh...OK...Maybe the NL can vote to have an extra fielder like that wuss AL did when they voted to have an extra hitter.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

"There's no game tonight. What am I supposed to do from 6:30 to 10:30? I already mowed the lawn and did the laundry today."

My lawn mower is broken. I am willing to let you do my lawn, and I wouldn't charge you anything, either.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

"Harps has to realize that he's never gonna hit those outside breaking pitches the way he's currently swinging---but he already knows that!"

He's trying to kill everything. Lombo went up there with a plan and slapped a slow breaking pitch into LF as easy as 1-2-3, with a very easy, well-timed swing. Lombo looks like a ML hitter, and Bryce looks like a kid who is still trying to figure it out.

Earlier in the season, Bryce was content to go the other way for the hit, but now he seems on a mission to knock everything to Kingdom Come. Lombo is the guy who has come a long, long way this year, while Harp has regressed. Of course, Harp is only 19, so it's not surprising that Lombo is further along with the stick.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

I'm totally in the tank for Harp. He's the best athlete on the team. To think this was a high school catcher two or three years ago is mind-boggling. He's now our best outfielder (except for the Shark).

Harp will adjust and learn either to lay off that outside stuff, or take it to left field.

I love Lombo, but he's no Harper. There's only one kid. Play him.

In Davey we trust.

baseballswami said...

natsfan1a - about The Franchise - last night's new episode was the last one. They ended it early because things were going so poorly. The Marlins organization found it to be a distraction and so the just stopped. Last night's episode was hopeful for their team, Reyes, Stanton, Lomo, Buck, Buehrle. There's a nice young rookie catcher that seems to be a good guy. You can pretty much tell how demoralized they have become. Like watching a train wreck. I personally got tired of Ozzie spewing vulgarities. It's much better when it's about the players and their struggles in major league baseball. I think I saw that you can vote on twitter or facebook for which team you think it should be next year. Who wants it?

Theophilus T. S. said...

Down the stretch, or until they're eight games up w/ seven to play, they need to go w/ the best four IFs they've got, which means Lombardozzi sits, does late-inning outfield cameos, or pinch hits. Harper, I think (hope) will be snapping out of this eventually. I don't think his problem is not knowing the strike zone -- it's clear he knows which inside pitches are strikes and which are not, even if the umpire doesn't agree. So I assume he either (A) over-estimates his ability to handle the outside pitch; (B) isn't recognizing the break on the outside slop until it's too late. I think time/experience will correct either of those issues.

natsfan1a said...

swami, I haven't watched last night's episode yet, but I'd heard that it was the last one. I was thinking the same thing about the players while watching the other episode. Would much rather see their stories (well, maybe without the surgery and tattooing scenes - yuck). Not surprised that it would be a distraction and not sure why a team would want to do it.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Davey will do what's right for Harp and the team. They are taking advantage of his aggressiveness. Has to get back to what he was doing the month of May.

NatsLady said...

So are we rooting for Colbert and against Cueto?

JayB said...

dumb question....every game he plays we are a better team that day and for years to come....win win...his energy alone is worth .100 points of BA

baseballswami said...

When Bryce is calm and on his game he can just murder the ball. He is going to be one dangerous hitter in the future. I just don't see what the rush is to pound him into the ground the first year. This is tough on the veterans, let alone a kid. The days off seem to make him more effective. Isn't that what we want? He doesn't have to be a mature, finished player and carry the team in his first season at 19. Days off show him that the team can play without him once in a while.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I'm watching the Rays/A's tonite but will check in on the Phils/Reds.

I'm from the "Take care of your own business" school so .....

Pilchard said...

Harper will not start against Cliff Lee this weekend. He has no shot against lefties with great off-speed stuff. Think Tyler Moore will get the start.

BTW, not sure what Lombo needs to do get a start. Going into the home-stand he was 15 for his last 30. He did not get an AB against the Mets, and then went 3 for 3 as a pinch-hitter in each of the 3 Braves games. Lombo is 18 for his last 33. He has earned a start.

NatsLady said...

Lombo can't do anything to "earn" a start. He will start when there is an injury or he's on another team. As the roster is constituted now, he's not a starter. Doesn't mean he's not a good player, not a knock on him at all.

NatsLady said...

It's like saying, what can Stammen do to "earn" a start? Nothing. He's in the bullpen, where he does an excellent job. No matter how good a job he does--this year--he won't "earn" a job in the rotation, short of an emergency. If he wants to be a starter (not clear that he does) it would have to be next year.

Jimmy DeMoney said...

I'd like to see Lombo, TyMo in every other day. Bryce doesn't deserve a starting spot with his undisciplined plate approach and bat breaking antics. Really Bryce, is it the bat's fault? I do wear my Bryce Harper jersey proudly and I think he'll be a star eventually, just got to get him through the growing pains. Meanwhile, Lombo is a great contact hitter and TyMo has power. Don't forget the Shark and his game-saving catch and timely hits, but he hasn't proven as consistent at the plate either.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Off-topic, but Manny Acta gets his vote of confidence despite Cleveland losing 21 of last 25.
Owner says he has no "immediate" plan to fire dear old Manny.

Translation: He gone by Labor Day.

Joe Seamhead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jimmy DeMoney said...

I agree with Pilchard - Lombo has EARNED a start for sure. C'mon Davey, you messed around with HRod too long and now you're doing it with Bryce. If they don't perform sit them on the pine! Then make them earn their way back into the starting lineups with solid performances.

NatsLady said...

I don't like Harper breaking bats. I wasn't wonderfully thrilled with Werth tossing his helmet thirty feet either, and if you want to sit Harper for that, OK--because he could get tossed from a game, or worse, injure someone with those antics.

You have Lombo, TyMo and Bernie on the bench because Davey (and JayB) want a strong bench. That's their job. Harper's a starter (with an occasional day off, perhaps). He's not going to sit on the bench, any more than Espinosa did.

Joe Seamhead said...



What time's the Nats game tonight?
What's that you say? Wadda you mean there's no Nats game tonight?
There's really no game tonight? Who's fault is this?
When do we get back to our regular scheduled program?
Wadda you mean, "Don't touch that dial?"
And you! You look a lot like Rod Sterling.
mick, how's the Corona supply?

BTW, Reporter to Davey Johnson in spring training after watching Bryce Harper take batting practice: "Have you ever seen any thing like this kid?"
Davey Johnson: "Mantle."

Harper stays, except after the temper tantrums. Then he should go stand in the corner.

NatsLady said...

Manny knows his job is in danger. I posted a quote from him telling his players to "relax, they aren't going to release 25 guys, he'll be gone first..." Haven't been following close enough to know if he mismanaged, or the team overachieved and the talent wasn't there. I like Manny (and Brad Mills). It's a tough game.

natsfan1a said...

Nice rant, Joe (but you forgot "and think about what he did" after "corner"). :-)

I like Manny, too, NatsLady.

natsfan1a said...

Oh, and on the ex-Nat watch, Josh Willingham had a segment on Intentional Talk today.

baseballswami said...

We have been throwing around the word "earned" in regards to the line up. How about the other guys in the lineup " deserve" to have Lombo in there with them to help them score runs? Not the same as a reliever vs a starter. Lombo has already shown that he can play everyday. Who can help the team win on any given day? It's not always the same guys every day. It's that particular day. Some days Harper, some days someone else. Someday he is going to be great but he is not there yet.

NatsFanChris said...

I'm as big a Harper fan as the next WOO HOOO-er, but I've been wondering about his full time spot at #2 too.

I agree that he shouldn't be benched regularly or moved down in the lineup every game, but any consideration to swapping him and Espinosa in the batting order against lefties? Here are the current splits....

Espinosa vs. L - .298/.361/.461
vs. R - .231/.300/.391

Harper vs. L - .223/.288/.378
vs. R - .262/.341/.430

Danny has had his 2nd-half surge while still primarily batting before Flo and Suzuki. Giving him the opportunity to hit in front of Zim and taking some pressure of Harper may benefit both of them.

In the end though, I trust Davy all the way. He's earned it with the way he handled these situations all year.

NatsLady said...

SO they have this one cell that's drenching Citizen's Bank Park, and blue skies all around. Was it the same cell that was here yesterday? :)

mick said...

Why not just work out a rotation among Espi-Lombo and Bryce?

tayo said...

Bryce should start everyday. this is simple. look what Desmond did last year and look how better he has got. Look at Espinosa, beginning of the year and now.Both this players were allowed to play through their struggles and it has paid off at least for Desmond. I know we are in a pennant race but this still should not disrupt the development of our young players that would be integral parts of our future just like being in a race should not alter the shutdown plan for Strasburg. Having said that, I think Bryce should hit lower in the lineup as this might take a little pressure of us without hurting our offense as much as he does hitting in the 2 spot.

SonnyG10 said...

Here is my opinion on whether Bryce or Lombo deserves an everyday job: that is not the correct question. Its not about who deserves an everyday job. Its about what's best for the Nats team, both now and in the future. Bryce is not regressing. He is progressing. He is learning what works and what doesn't work in handling adversity. The only way he can learn this is by going through it. Personal experience is the best teacher. He has to learn what adjustments he needs to make and when. He needs to learn to control his emotions. The more experience he gets, the sooner he'll come out the other side. Davey knows what he's doing. I recommend we be patient and let him determine what and when to do whats necessary; that's what's going to happen anyway. Remember, its easier riding a horse in the direction he going. End rant.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

The Nats are in a pennant race. Davey will do what the thinks gives the team the best chance to win. I don't always agree with him, but I haven't gotten them to 30 games over .500, either.

This season is a learning experience for Harp. He has a lot of baseball smarts. He will figure it out, but it's taking longer than I thought it would.

Lombo is the guy who has upped his game. I am really impressed with how well he has adjusted to ML pitching, compared to the beginning of the year. Harp will make a similar leap, and he will do it at a much younger age than Lombo has done it, and he will do it with power. Harp has to realize it is not necessary to hit it out of the park every time up, and that it is usually better just to get on base.

Look at how a power hitter like Zim adjusts his ABs when he gets to 2 strikes. I am a little surprised that Harp cannot see what the other guys are doing successfully, even when they are doing it right in front of him.

Werth is another guy whose approach he could emulate to good effect. It is downright fascinating to watch Werth work the pitcher, instead of the other way around. He is the best on the team at doing that. Werth can do things with pitches that Harp would miss by a foot.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

"Davey will do what he think", not "what the thinks".

Laddie Blah Blah said...

Man, I am on a roll tonight - "Davey will do what he thinks".

NatsLady said...

SonnyG10--exactly. It's not about "earning" or "deserving." It may seem unfair that after such a good performance Lombo has to sit on the bench most days. But unless it's better for the team overall--now, in October, and next year--there he will sit.

NatsLady said...

Werth is amazing, that's for sure. His at-bats are like hitting lessons. I'm never afraid even when it's 0-2 against him. Of course he doesn't succeed 100%, but he's always in there thinking and calculating and he's the most unselfish guy I've seen about sacrificing his AB's to rest the pitcher or move a guy to the next base, etc. Maybe it comes from the long-term deal, but he's not worried about pumping up his stats.

sm13 said...

Davey's gut and instinct had gotten us this far. I'm sticking with him for the next 10 weeks or so. For now, Lombo and Roger are providing big hits off the bench and we know how much Davey values a strong bench.

baseballswami said...

Jayson Werth has a new look in his eyes. I love it. He is smart, gutsy, intense, unselfish and can hurt you in many different ways. His competitive fire is fully ignited. He exudes Natitude. The word could have been invented with him in mind. I was talking to some Philly relatives about him. They used to take that old attitude that we were stuck with him. Now they know what they missed out on.

NatsFanJim said...

This is an easy one.


No.


Sit him against Lefties.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

And the NI Manager of the Year award goes to:

NatsFanJim said...

This is an easy one.


No.


Sit him against Lefties.

ehay2k said...

The only way you can really think Bryce should sit is of you think, doing so would have made a difference in wins this year. I think that is a hard case to prove. However, by keeping him in, and helping him learn, you have a very good chance to improve our wins total in the out years.

I'll take the latter.


I miss having a game, although my sleep-deprived body does not. Wait - the Barves play on an hour. Damn that MLB AtBat!

Candide said...

Well, Cunegonde and I finally figured out what to do tonight.

We went out to a pizza place. She had pizza. I had calzone.

Is this what November-to-pitchers-and-catchers-report have in store for me...?

(And thanks, everyone, for the kind offers to have me cook for you or mow your lawns. You NIers are the kindest, most thoughtful people. Remind me to remember y'all in my will.)

The Fox said...

Laddie,

Harper is a very aggressive hitter and not much of what Zim or Werth do with their AB's seem to be rubbing off on him. This is not too strange for a 19 year old kid because teenagers don't work that way.

Thinking out of the box I wonder if batting him 8th for a bit and telling him that if the pitcher wants to pitch around him to get to our pitcher then let them. This might change the dynamic and let him relax.

I also think that when the call ups come up in September that the non-contending teams new pitchers will want to challenge Harper or at least not pitch around him as much. Not sure if this would make any difference but I'd like to see it for a week to see if it does change anything. I would think it would at least turn our line up over quicker.

MicheleS said...

I went completely off the baseball grid tonight. Food, wine, and the Andrea Bocelli concert on DVR. I figure this is a way to prep myself for November when MASN is showing the Orioles repeats instead of the NATS! GEESH! I hate Angelos.

JaneB said...

I needed the baseball break. And I kinda hated it, too. Go figure. I'm glad they are resting. I'm glad I have a night like a Regular Person. I want me some more baseball and some more Curlie Ws. That is all.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

Go giants

peric said...

Keep him in if Davey wants to do what he feels he does best, run a major league finishing school for top prospects like Harper, then let him. It'll likely be easier with the more polished Rendon.

Dave could consider moving Harper to 7th moving Espinosa up to 6th and batting Desmond 2nd. BUT, this has been working. Yes, hitting has been inconsistent all year because of the plethora of youth the Nats feature. But, hey, they develop and they win. In the end that's all that counts I suppose.

peric said...

I am really glad Werth accepted lead-off this go round. He was more than reluctant when Riggleman requested it ... and then Davey moved him down in the line up to get him out of there.

Werth has really embraced the role and its just about perfect for him and the Nats. His power isn't there as much as it was and it might never return. But its still a threat and he is a threat to hit a double or even a triple so pitchers have to respect him. It means he can use his eye to get some key walks. He can also be a threat to steal a base or two. He's still athletic enough if he can manage to stay healthy. I admit I like him a lot better than Bourn in that slot.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

We've all got to give Mark a lot of credit for even broaching this subject with the headline: "Does Harper deserve everyday job?"

After all, it could provoke the obvious response from the kid: "That's a clown question, bro."

peric said...

@JayB: dumb question....every game he plays we are a better team that day and for years to come....win win...his energy alone is worth .100 points of BA

No, the above is the NI Manager of the Year post bar none. And mostly because he's right.

BUT, if you are the manager you have to worry about Harper getting too down on himself feeling as if he is letting down the team. That will add more stress and make his hitting even worse.

BigCat said...

Don't worry....Eck is workin with Harper.

baseballswami said...

Did it rain at all in DC tonight? Didn't think so.First time in how many days? Let's all catch up on our sleep. I understand some of us actually did laundry and yard work. Over-achievers.

ExposedinDC said...

I think Harper should play but sit against tough left handlers, ie cliff lee and so on, he gets at bats and we get tymo or Lombo into the game, however if he continues the slide into September , possibly a change would be in order

JT said...

Since my favorite team isn't in action tonight, my rooting interests are with the S.F. Giants, at least for the next 4 games they play. Nats needed this day off real bad. As for Bryce Ice, perhaps a platoon is in order for a bit.

Drew said...

Kilgore reports Giolito will have Tommy John surgery Aug 31.

Good luck, kid. We'll see you in a year.

(T.J. alum Taylor Jordan won tonight at Hagerstown.)

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Giants leading the Barves 2-0 and still batting in the fifth. Barves have managed two hits off Zito. I guess Fredi's Flops were spent from here.
Barves tremendously overrated and may not even make the WC.

peric said...

however if he continues the slide into September , possibly a change would be in order

Its not going to happen to him anymore than it would to Espinosa or even Desmond if he were still struggling. The won't pull JZimmnn out of the rotation, nor Detwiler. They will go with Storen and perhaps even Henry.

Why? Its the youth that got 'em to this point make no mistake. Its a learning experience for them. And taking it as far as they can is a part of that learning experience.

Scooter said...

Well, I couldn't find any yard work to do. Instead, I taught my kid how to do a cannonball, played Battleship (I won), went out for sundaes, caught the end of the Phils game, and now I'm listening to Jon Miller describe the Giants go up 2-0 on the Braves as the surf pounds in the background.

Sorry none of y'all could join me.

Scooter said...

Oops, make that 3-0.

Scooter said...

5-love, Giants still serving.

Drew said...

Go Giants -- spank those Barves!

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

You think we get bullpen jitters at times? Man, check out the Superfund site that is the Giants bullpen.

I'd go through a gallon of Maalox (and I don't know how much bourbon) if I rooted for these guys.

Jints hold on, 5-2. But it wasn't easy or pretty.
Nats up by 6-1/2 over the Barves.

Nice.

Scooter said...

Sunshine, I'm trying to remember if you've ever complimented an opponent. You don't have to, of course, but you're so contemptuous of every other team ... how do you ever feel good about the Nats beating such collections of stiffs?

I mean, I love you madly, if only for your brilliant contributions to Nats mixology. I'm just curious how your approach works.

Others may weigh in as well, of course.

Scooter said...

I'm such a numbskull. I post a question right before I get tired and need to go nighty-night. Hope there's a new post when I finally roll out of bed tomorrow.

Nighty-night!

Laddie Blah Blah said...

Fox

"This is not too strange for a 19 year old kid because teenagers don't work that way."

Most of 'em don't, but Harp has shown he is a thoughtful student of the game. Early on, he adjusted his hitting approach against pitchers based on what he had learned in prior ABs. Remember how bad Livo made him look the first time Harp saw those slo-mo softballs? And how he absolutely crushed one of them the next time up? Harp stated in ST that trying to pull the ball all the time was what .250 hitters did, and going to the opposite field was what .300 hitters do. All he has to do is take his own advice.

A number of Harp's hits earlier in the year were to LF, and he dialed it back when necessary to poke the ball the other way. He was hitting over .300 with that approach, and pitchers started coming in on him. That's when he started to hit for more power.

Opposing mgrs started to bring in Loogies to pitch to him, and they went back to slow breakers off the outside of the plate. It worked, and worked, and worked. He is still opening up his stance and taking power swings at pitches he used to poke into LF earlier in the year. Now, he is trying to pull almost everything they throw at him over the fence, including all those outside softballs. It's not working and it never will. He's been trying that same approach for 2 months, and won't adjust.

You really don't have to be a teenager to be that stubborn, e.g Rick Ankiel and Danny Espinosa. Danny has finally stopped flailing at the high FB, and it took him until the age of 25 to do it. Ankiel is in his mid-30s and never learned to lay off a pitch that he never could hit. The Nats finally gave up on Ankiel, but Danny is a lot younger. Maybe seeing Ankiel get cut is what finally motivated Danny to change his own approach.

They are not going to give up on a 19-year-old phenom. They are letting him learn the old-fashioned way, and the ML pitchers are teaching him, in spades.

natsfan1a said...

Good morning and thank you, Barry Zito. :-)

sjm308 said...

Good Morning All!

Waiting for a new post, Mark should be rested. Wondering about MLB scheduling. Not that Atl needs any breaks but why didn't MLB schedule our Wed. game for 1:05? Had to be tough, small rain delay on Wed. - flight to the West Coast - no time to adjust to the time change and a game the next night.
I realize that Hammels probably had two days to adjust but the hitters sure didn't.

Oh well, 1/2 woo hoo for the Giants as we move 6.5 up.

Go Nats!!!

sjm308 said...

Not Hammels - Hanson!! man, its still early

sjm308 said...

One more thing, Phillies have been playing better since all the trades and getting Utley & Howard back. Not sure what their record has been but they have moved from last to 3rd in the NL East. Still a bunch back but this will not be an easy series. I did like seeing them go 11 innings (using 5 relievers) last night while our lads were out on the golf course on Thursday morning and easing into Philly yesterday evening.

Go Nats!!!

MicheleS said...

SJM.. new post.

Another_Sam said...

IMHO Bryce is gonna bat second, just like Zimmerman was going to bat third -- remember that discussion a while back? [And I'm fine with both. To many switches and the club begins to lose it's personality.]

The effect on the energy level that BH continues to have on the club is palpable. I don't know if this slump is something that can be worked out in the regular season if if it will take offseason tutoring. I favor giving him a day or two off each week. At the level of intensity that he goes at, surely even a 19 year old player could benefit from that.

I'm not a GM or a field manager, and I've never played one in an online forum.

natsfan1a said...

Speaking of pizza, because 100 runs were scored across MLB on Wednesday, one can get 50% off Papa John's pizza on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

natsfan1a said...

Oops, the code for that is MLB100. Thanks to Michele for asking about it in the subsequent thread.

JamesFan said...

Right now, it does not seem to hurt the Nats to have Harper in the lineup. I watched him strike out four times in a row in a win against Atlanta the other night. He looked awful at the plate. If the Nats go into a dive, you can bet he would be on the bench pronto.

I want him to get plenty of playing time, but frankly, I would like to see a lot more of Lombo and Bernie--better hitters, better defense all around.

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