Thursday, July 18, 2013

2nd half storylines

Associated Press
And so we have reached the unofficial second half of the season, which this year amounts to a 67-game sprint to the finish line for a Nationals club that cannot afford a single slip-up along the way.

The Nats have already used up all their mulligans for 2013, slogging their way into the All-Star break with a 48-47 record that falls well below Opening Day expectations but still leaves them with an opportunity to play meaningful baseball right through September and perhaps into October.

What has to happen between now and then to make that reality? And what else should we keep an eye on over the remainder of the season? Let's count down the five biggest second-half storylines for the Nationals...

5. STRASBURG'S FIRST FULL SEASON
Remember the sideshow that was the Great Stephen Strasburg Shutdown of September 2012? (How could anyone forget, even if they tried in desperation to erase those images?) Well, the good news is that we won't be subjected to such drama this fall.

Strasburg is free to pitch straight through the end of the season, which makes this his first complete season as a professional pitcher, and that's a mighty compelling storyline if you think about it. The right-hander has never pitched a full, six-month baseball season, but he's going to get the chance to do it this time, and we're going to find out just how his body holds up through the grind.

Beginning tomorrow night against the Dodgers, Strasburg is scheduled to make 14 more starts this season. To date, he has averaged 6 innings per start, though if you throw out his two abbreviated, two-inning outings, that average jumps up to 6.5 innings per start. If he's able to maintain that pace, he would finish the regular season with ... 199 innings. That's exactly where the Nationals want him to be, and if they're fortunate enough to reach the playoffs, they wouldn't hold him back at all.

4. CAN THE LINEUP START CONSISTENTLY PRODUCING?
This really was the No. 1 storyline of the season's first half. A star-studded and deep lineup that should have been among the most-potent in the majors proved to be one of the sport's least-productive units, hitting a collective .241 with a .301 on-base percentage and only 3.76 runs per game.

Is there reason to believe those numbers can significantly improve over the rest of the season? Well, yes. Provided the Nationals stay relatively healthy.

From April through June, the Nats hit just .236 and averaged 3.6 runs per game. But since July 1 (when Bryce Harper returned from the DL, three days before Wilson Ramos rejoined the roster) they're hitting .267 and averaging 4.4 runs. Obviously, they haven't been real consistent during these last two weeks, but clearly the talent is there and we've seen some evidence it can all come together on any given night.

Davey Johnson, though, is going to have to settle on a lineup that works. He switched things up again in Sunday's first-half finale, bumping Bryce Harper to the leadoff spot and Denard Span down to the 7-hole. Will he stick with that look, or will Harper find his way back into the No. 3 position before it's all said and done?

3. WILL RIZZO DO ANYTHING AT THE DEADLINE?
Mike Rizzo has maintained all along he doesn't expect to make any "major splashes" before the July 31 trade deadline, believing he has a roster already in place capable of winning the NL East and making a deep run in October. Which may be true. But unless he sees serious evidence of improvement over the next two weeks, Rizzo may have no choice but to consider a bold move at the deadline.

The key: How do Ross Detwiler and Dan Haren look during this important stretch? If each pitcher comes back strong from DL stints and solidifies the back end of the rotation, Rizzo may not need to seek reinforcements. But if one or both continue to look shaky, Rizzo may have to do something to bolster his pitching staff.

Offensively, it still seems unlikely Rizzo will acquire another everyday bat. He could still look to add to his highly unproductive bench, perhaps bringing in a veteran left-handed hitter if Chad Tracy and Roger Bernadina don't start doing something productive soon.

Either way, these figure to be two highly compelling weeks that should help determine Rizzo's course of action.

2. DAVEY'S LAST HURRAH
Though he usually hates looking more than a day or two down the road, Davey Johnson has started talking a bit more wistfully about his final few months as Nationals manager. He even mentioned on Tuesday some places he and his wife plan to visit next spring once he's retired, including Bora Bora.

So despite some early season suggestions he wasn't ready to hang up his spikes, Johnson seems now to have accepted and embraced the notion. It remains to be seen how that translates into his job performance the rest of this season.

Will Johnson be motivated to try to go out in style, making bold decisions and getting the Nats' clubhouse collectively to play for him down the stretch? Or will the lure of retirement leave Davey complacent and simply counting down the days until October?

That's a fairly compelling storyline to monitor.

1. WILL THERE BE ANOTHER PENNANT RACE THIS FALL?
Everything came so easily to the Nationals in 2012, we kind of got spoiled and didn't get to truly experience the grind of a tough pennant race. Well, it isn't coming easily to them in 2013, so if a race is to develop, the Nats are going to have to claw their way through it right down to the wire.

Is there enough time left for the Nationals to do it, or at 48-47 is it already too late? Consider this: In order to get to 90 wins this season, they'll have to go 42-25 the rest of the way. And that's not such a preposterous notion.

If you break out 67-game stretches from the 2012 season, the Nationals went at least 42-25 on 47 separate occasions. Their best 67-game stretch was a 45-22 run from July 1-Sept. 12. So, absolutely, it's doable.

The problem: The Nationals' best 67-game stretch so far this season is 36-31. They simply haven't been able to get onto any kind of sustained, positive roll. So if they're going to do it this year, they're going to have to play the rest of 2013 like they played for much of 2012.

Even if they don't, there's reason to believe the Nationals will remain in the pennant race deep into September. It may not take 90 wins to reach the postseason. The Cardinals snagged the final Wild Card berth last season with 88 wins. Stay at least a couple of games over the .500 mark, and you're in the race down to the final week.

This season won't be considered a success in D.C., however, if the Nationals merely hang around the race in late-September. This team won the division last year and was expected by everyone to win it again this year.

So the pressure's on. The Nationals spent the season's first 3 1/2 months hovering around the .500 mark, keeping themselves within striking distance but never making a serious push to catch the Braves. If they're going to do it, now is the time.

85 comments:

baseballswami said...

No matter what our record is, no matter if we make it to the post season or not, I would like to see good baseball . And a few more smiles. It's a game.

alexva said...

good analysis Mark. how they arrange the lineup for the next few games will show if they are willing to take desperate measures or rely on the track records of the players

Constant Reader said...

#1 ain't happening without #4. Week before the break, 19 runs. Week before that, 43 runs. Here's hoping we see more of the 43-run team.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2013/07/18/jordan-zimmermanns-non-existent-two-seam-fastball/

And Kilgore answers one of the mysteries I have been debating for a while that JZim doesn't throw a sinker pitch (2 seamer) that the low in the zone pitches he gets the doubleplay balls on are 4-seamers he throws low to the zone and sliders thrown low to the zone.

Now only if we find out the breaker Detwiler throws. Is it a curve, slider or a hybrid slurve?

Get Your Re(n)d On said...

"If you break out 67-game stretches from the 2012 season, the Nationals went at least 42-25 on 47 separate occasions."

This makes no sense. Those 47 occasions when they went 42-25 last year weren't separate, they overlapped. What's next, are you going to say that Siamese twins consist of two separate people? Better to just say that their best 67-game stretch in 2012 was a 45-22 run from July 1-Sept 12 and leave it at that.

baseballswami said...

As much as I love Mark's writing, Amanda Comak and Adam Kilgore also do fine work. Kilgore's piece on Jordan tells us more about him than we have known since he was drafted. Very personal and well written- recommend it. And I hope this neck thing resolves- Jordan is truly the rock of the staff.

nats guy said...

Deckchairs.

NatsLady said...

It's really bad that I'm checking minor-league schedules...

hiramhover said...

Second half story line for me:

When do we really get Bryce Harper back? I don't expect him to return to the red-hot #s he put up in April, but the Nats need a productive Harper back if they're going to make a serious run.

Moving Harper to lead-off was probably as much about changing things up for him as for Span, a way to reduce the pressure on him to mash the way you'd expect from a #3 hitter. Maybe Davey keeps him there till he starts mashing again.

baseballswami said...

No, it 's not bad. Survival tactic. We miss it now, but by Friday at 7:15 we will be complaining again .

baseballswami said...

Hiramhover- I know this is probably trivial, but Bryce has not looked like he is having fun very much. I think he plays best when he is just enjoying what he can do. That Bryce makes more mistakes, but I don't like watching careful Bryce. Weight of the Nats and MLB on his shoulders?

sjm308 said...

As an old coach I just don't understand how this group will all of a sudden switch gears or become something they have not been for over 90 games. I realize I did not coach baseball and maybe that is something that can be done in this sport. Don't get me wrong, I want that to happen, I am just not convinced they will go on the run(s) Mark talks about. To me, another problem or maybe a solution to us making the playoffs is what the Braves/Reds/Pirates/Cards do as well. We are now in a situation where we have to rely on the results of others. We do not control our destiny like last year.

No matter what, it will be a successful season for this old fan if they just catch the ball and play clean baseball for the last few months. I can deal with hitting slumps but poor baserunning and the many many errors drive me crazy.

Go Nats!!

Jimmy said...

Dont forget, trade deadline might not be the absolute final opportunity for Rizzo to find outside help. See acquisition of Kurt Suzuki last season after the deadline. If we're looking for bench players (in my mind the only realistic place of dramatic improvement), a post-deadline pick-up might be the most likely change.

I mostly say this to try to quell the onslaught of "I can't believe Rizzo didn't make any moves before the deadline" talk that is inevitable to come if he stands pat at the time.

alexva said...

308, my expectations of a turnaround are growing smaller by each game. but where there’s life there’s hope.

GYFNG

A DC Wonk said...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2013/07/18/jordan-zimmermanns-non-existent-two-seam-fastball/


Proves the old adage once again: to successfully pitch you only need two of the following three: speed, movement, location. JZ mostly only has the first and third. And yet his still an All-Star pitcher.

sjm308 said...

alexva: absolutely! I still have that hope as well

A DC Wonk said...

sjm308 said...

As an old coach I just don't understand how this group will all of a sudden switch gears or become something they have not been for over 90 games. I realize I did not coach baseball and maybe that is something that can be done in this sport.


I hear you, and would agree with your sentiment -- except -- isn't that exactly what happened last year? A 14-4 start, then .500 ball, and then, finally, the closing months when the Nats started to hit as a team, a great last two months.

So, too, here. As Mark pointed out, the Nats are hitting .267 over the past two weeks. Now, that's in the same ballpark of how the Nats hit after the ASB last year (iirc) -- so, if they can do that, and keep their pitching (currently 5th best in NL), then they will certainly make a pennant race out of this.

hiramhover said...

swami

It's somewhat chicken and egg, I suppose. Is he not producing because he's not having fun, or vice versa? Either way, maybe the HR derby helps.

NatsLady said...

I don't think the Fillies have it in them, and good for us if they decide to "go for it" now and not stock up their farm system for the futuer.

As for Atlanta, I would have said they have a handicap in Fredi, but he seems to have learned how to manage, and Davey seems to have forgotten. Davey, wake up!!! Motivation is NOT enough. Grind it out, and if you are tired on these hot nights, make sure Randy and Jayson are AWAKE!!!

NatsLady said...

"Having fun" is overrated. Do your d*** JOB, and have fun when you win the Division and Playoffs. I never understood the "having fun" thing. Fun is what the fans are supposed to have. Players, have fun fishing or golfing or other activities NSFW. On the field, FOCUS.

hiramhover said...

Personally, I can't do the thing that some commenters around here do, where they load all their expectations for the season on every single game. Mid to late September, I can maybe do that. July, no.

The Nats playoff chances are not that great, and to make it they'll need both to play well themselves and to see at least one other team stumble.

For the next 6 weeks, my strategy is to hope for some good baseball and pay little attention to the standings. Sure, I'll peek, but I'm not going to recalculate the winning % the Nats need for the playoffs in the 8th inning of every game. If the standings look good on Sept 1, I'll starting paying more attention to them.

Don said...

Jimmy making reference to last year's election by Rizzo to not make a substantive add (but for the necessity deal for Suzuki post deadline) makes me uncomfortable. Rizzo blew it last year. He had a club that was poised to go far, but he played his cards as if next year was the year. He knew Stras was going to be shut down, his club was struggling to score, the Nats were a very good club but he did not act with urgency to get them over the top. They limped to the finish line in 2012 and almost blew the Division crown and then did not have enough to overcome a frankly less talented club in the Cards and with home field advantage. Now, the club is still very talented but not performing to his expectations, but Rizzo sees no splashes being made because the club is healthy and should be good enough to win. He might be right, we'll see. I sure hope so. But, if he's wrong, then as far as I am concerned he's not the guy to be the GM of this franchise going forward, he might be able to build it up but if he can’t take it to elite status, then he's not of much use.

NatsLady said...

Also, Ricky Nolasco??? We can beat this guy, we know him very very well and have beaten him, twice this year (April 1, April 17).

baseballswami said...

Sjm308- I would generally agree with you about big turnarounds, and I have no idea if this team can do it. But I have been watching baseball a long time and it does seem to happen every single year. A team you think is toast ends up winning it all, ( Giants, Cardinaks), or a team that seems to have it all sewn up collapses, ( Mets, Phils). It almost happens more than it doesn't happen. When you are playing within your division things happen fast. Again, don't know if they can- but also know that they could.

NatsLady said...

According to coolstandings.com Nats playoff chances are 20%. That ain't great, but it ain't hopeless either. Yes, I do look at the standing and playoff odds, but the fluctuate wildly. Two blowouts, two losses by ATL and they could be 40%, which makes little sense. In that I agree with hh.

However, there does have to be a little more sense of urgency. Urgency NOT at the expense of tightening up. There is talent on this team, the very same talent that Rizzo envisioned, and that the pundits applauded in March.

NatsLady said...

Also, I'm from the South SIde, and right now, I am REALLY rooting for my childhood team. Go, Sox! Go, Adam Dunn...!!!

A DC Wonk said...

NatsLady said...

"Having fun" is overrated. Do your d*** JOB, and have fun when you win the Division and Playoffs. I never understood the "having fun" thing.


I'm guessing that, at least for some (not all, some), "having fun" helps one stay up for a 162-game grind.

Clearly it seems to help Gio, no?

NatsLady said...

Great quote from Jayson, on team players vs. stars.

"I'm a purist," says Washington's Jayson Werth, the highest-paid player in the history of his franchise, a third-generation major leaguer and a charter subscriber to the Baseball Players Don't Do That Club.


Werth I'm a purist. My feeling is, you don't need one guy. I think The Game is the marvel, not The Player.

-- Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth
"My feeling is, you don't need one guy," Werth says. "I think The Game is the marvel, not The Player. You know, I remember, before one of the World Series we played in Philadelphia, Charlie Manuel told a story. And the moral of the story was: 'Keep your helmet on.' And that resonated with me. Keep your helmet on. There's no reason to show your face. There's no reason to be That Guy. Just go about your business, and at the end of the day you'll have everything you want. All the other stuff is extra. The truth is, I think that stuff takes away from the game, almost."

Trust us. Werth speaks for hundreds of players when he says: "It's a team sport. Oh, it's very individual. I get that. It's very mano a mano. But at the end of the day, chemistry plays. You see the teams that are successful; I think the way to go about it is to have everybody on the same page.

"I get that there are superstars in this game," Werth goes on. "I've played with them. … But I'm OK with, 'Keep your helmet on.'"


http://espn.go.com/mlb/allstar13/story/_/id/9479573/mlb-face-baseball-all-star-game

JD said...


NL,

The key in my mind is to not lose any more ground to the Braves coming out of the break. Again the schedule does not favor us. We get the Dodgers and the Braves get the White Sox. I am not saying we can't beat the Dodgers, I'm just saying that it's not aligning smoothly.

NatsLady said...

Wonk, Gio is Gio. There is none like. He knows it's a show....Love that guy, I'm sorry, Tommy Milone could win the Cy Young (not likely) and I would STILL love Gio.

NatsLady said...

No, the schedule does not favor us AT All, agreed. The only good thing is opening a long home stand.

NatsLady said...

And, of course, Bryce doesn't keep his helmet on.... I'm OK with that.... Just keep his cool.

A DC Wonk said...

Don said...

....Rizzo blew it last year. He had a club that was poised to go far, but he played his cards as if next year was the year. He knew Stras was going to be shut down, his club was struggling to score, the Nats were a very good club but he did not act with urgency to get them over the top. They limped to the finish line in 2012 and almost blew the Division crown


Limped to the finish line? What are you talking about? From Sept 1 -- almost completely without Strasburg -- they were 18-12.

And with 10 games to go, they were up 4.5 games, and they finished ahead by 4.0 games.

I'd love to "limp" so well!

Your apparent rush to condemn Rizzo seems to be leading you to an imaginary 2012 season that's from a different universe.

JD said...


I would start the 2nd half with the following lineup:

Werth,Harper,Zim,ALR,Desi,Span,Rendon,Ramos or

Werth,Rendon,Harper,Zim,ALR,Desi,Span,Ramos.

This is strictly to maximize the OBP potential of the team and not as a demotion for Span. I don't believe we play the speed game and in any event Span is not a speed demon who beats out infield hits and bunts.

alexva said...

Don, they played .580 baseball from September 1st to regular season end. if you consider that limping then you're a tough critic

A DC Wonk said...

a team that seems to have it all sewn up collapses, ( Mets, Phils)

Somewhere in my dresser drawer is an (obviously unused) 1964 Phillies World Series ticket. (Given to me in the late 1960's by a relative, now long gone, who lived in Philly).

A DC Wonk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

"I get that there are superstars in this game," Werth goes on. "I've played with them. … But I'm OK with, 'Keep your helmet on.'"

Easy for him to say--the beard and hair stick out enough that everybody knows it's him under the hat.


I think Don must have been remembering the couple of days where they couldn't seem to get that Magic Number down to zero. More of a stutter-step than a limp, really, but it was frustrating at the time.


"Having fun" and "focusing" are not mutually exclusive; once you learn how to do both, having fun actually does help. But not everyone can do both.

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

Just tossing out a couple more story lines:

Make Room for Danny

If Rendon keeps ending his AB's standing on second, he'll get ROY votes.

Don said...

I misstated the facts, sorry. I should not have gone with "limped to the finish line" (it was more of a relative statement -- Atlanta was on fire going 20-10 down the stretch, the Phils were also hot - and in September, the lead went from 6.5 to 4.5 in a week, as the club went into the final stretch). Who cares. My point is that Rizzo had a very good club, a club that was only 2.5 games up in the NL East on 7/31, a club that had real post-season hopes. He saw no need to add pieces in order to make a post-season run. I think that he blew it. Clubs that get that close go for it. He didn't. He knew Stras was going to be shut down and his club was not scoring to beat the band. 2013 was going to be his year, or so it seemed.

bowdenball said...

Strange that posters seem to think that our playoff chances depend on the Braves. We're closer to the Reds' spot in the wild card than the Braves, the Reds have a much tougher remaining schedule than the Braves, and their best starting pitcher is out indefinitely. If we finish ahead of the Red we're in a one game playoff with Strasburg facing the Pirates, an overachieving team that doesn't have a true #1 starter for a one game playoff. What's wrong with that path?

bowdenball said...

Don-

What move would you have made at the trading deadline in 2013 that could have made a difference, and what prospects do you think we would have had to give up to get it done?

Anyone can say "we should have done things differently." Every season there are 29 teams that have varying degrees of regret. The devil is in the details.

NatsLady said...


Good point, bowdenball. I would take my chances with Sras vs. the Pirates, too.

NatsLady said...

Mostly, however, I think it's WAY too early to speculate about playoff match ups. There is a lot of baseball to be played yet. I want to see if our Nats are fighters or giver-upers.

hiramhover said...

He blew *what*, Don? The chance to make you feel better at last year's trade deadline?

He didn't make a trade, and the Nats ended up making the playoffs. If he had made a trade, there's no guarantee the Nats would have gone deeper, or made you worry less in Sept.

Whatever his faults as a GM, Rizzo is competent and self-confident enough that he's not going to make a trade just so he can say, hey, you can't blame me--I made a trade!

A DC Wonk said...

My point is that Rizzo had a very good club, a club that was only 2.5 games up in the NL East on 7/31, a club that had real post-season hopes. He saw no need to add pieces in order to make a post-season run. I think that he blew it.

The Nats _did_ have the pieces for a post-season run. They made it to game five, and only lost because Storen had a rare terrible inning.

And they lost to a darn good Cardinals team who took the Giants to seven games.

What did Rizzo blow? 98 wins in the regular season and coming just *this close* to advancing in post-season, after coming off a season where they went 80-81 is blowing it?!?

Doc said...

Thanks Ghost and Swam for putting me on to Kilgore's article on JZim.

So he throws a 4-seamer that we all thought was a 2-seamer.

What would a pitching be without seams and flicking wrists!!!

alexva said...

not that Rizzo needs me to defend him but if his club was performing as well as any club in the game (5th most in runs scored, 2nd fewest in runs allowed) why would he feel the need to make changes?

Lannan was a good as any starter he could obtain and the majority of his position players were having career years

sometime you win, sometime you lose, sometimes it rains

Section 222 said...

Not sure why we're talking about Rizzo's moves last year. The important question is what will happen this year. Last year's decision to stand pat at the deadline (and pick up Suzuki later) still looks fine in retrospect. But if Rizzo decides to stand pat at this deadline, I'll be very disappointed. The needs are pretty clear -- (1) a starting pitcher because there's a very good chance that either Det or Haren will not be able to pitch well through September, and Kid Jordan will be shut down too soon to fill that spot; and (2) another upgrade to the bench because Tracy's nine lives have long since run out.

Neither of these fixes are going to get us to the playoffs. For that we need (1) the Braves to stay mediocre; and, most importantly (2) the bats to heat up (ie., Mark's storyline #4). And I have to say it truly is now or never. Yes, I know that teams have come back from 6 down at the beginning of August, but that is definitely not where the Nats want to be.

#4 said...

In order to be involved in the pennant race in a meaningful way, the Nats need to reel off a few longish winning streaks of 6 games or more. In order to do that, this team must improve its performance in close games. When coupled with selected games where they hit and blow someone out, it's the formula for a winning streak. Yes I know that they have a decent record in one run games, but my sense is that until they play consistent defense and eliminate the poor offensive execution i.e. - the inability to lay down a bunt and/or getting thrown out stupidly on the bases - they will struggle in close games. All the other speculation about this or that guy performing better or what trade they might make is irrelevant.

hiramhover said...

222

I don't understand - you don't think those trades "are going to get us to the playoffs" but you'll be "very disappointed" if Rizzo doesn't make them?

nats guy said...

Just enjoy the season for what it is. But don't expect them to change their spots. They are what they are about a .500 team. We all would have killed for that 10 years ago. What they have don for the first 95 games is about what they are going to do for the last 67. What matters is how the prepare for the next season and Davy's replacement.

MicheleS said...

All i want is a healthy lineup and pitching staff, let the chips fall where they may, and as FP said yesterday.. Do it for Davey.

Section 222 said...

hh -- Yes. On their own those moves won't get us to the playoffs if the bats don't wake up. But the moves are needed or we're taking a big chance, particularly with our starting pitching. You don't think Det and Haren are both going to be solid for the rest of the year do you? If you do, you're a true optimist, and you're probably going to be disappointed.

bowdenball said...

If you want a starting pitcher better than Det or Haren at the trading deadline, be prepared to deal Brian Goodwin at a minimum, probably more. Teams don't make a habit of dealing quality starters for peanuts. Is that really what we want? To trade away the few prospects left in our system who could be impact guys in the major leagues for a slight upgrade to our starting pitcher in 20% of our games?

Sounds like a terrible idea to me. It's the kind of thinking that turned a can't-miss Phillies organization that seemed to have every advantage in the world into a disaster that's hanging on for dear life in what will probably its last pennant race for several years.

JD said...


222,

As Bowdenball says the devil is in the details: Are you willing to give up Goodwin and Jordan to get a 2 month rental of Garza? Who are you getting off the scrap heap to replave Tracy who has actually been fairly productive lately?

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Doc said...
Thanks Ghost and Swam for putting me on to Kilgore's article on JZim.

So he throws a 4-seamer that we all thought was a 2-seamer.

What would a pitching be without seams and flicking wrists!!!

July 18, 2013 11:21 AM


I had written to Amanda that she was wrong when she once wrote that JZim was inducing grounders with his 2-seamer.

I had actually asked my friend who used to work with JZim to confirm it and I'm glad Kilgore wrote it to get it out there.

I'm just kind of stuck on getting the real answers which is why I asked Mark to get the info from Detwiler on what he really throws with his breaker and Mark never got us the answer. Certainly not on the top of anyone's priority list. I look at spin and movement and it usually tells you what it is but Detwiler changed his breaker from a year ago.

Some pitchers can only tell you the grips as the wrist and forearm movement is something unique to them and it's up to someone else to define it. Many pitchers throw hybrid pitches like a split change or a slurve or a circle change, etc.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

JD said...

222,

As Bowdenball says the devil is in the details: Are you willing to give up Goodwin and Jordan to get a 2 month rental of Garza? Who are you getting off the scrap heap to replave Tracy who has actually been fairly productive lately?


Not a chance. Short-term rentals rarely work out for the acquiring team.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

JD said...

I would start the 2nd half with the following lineup:

Werth,Harper,Zim,ALR,Desi,Span,Rendon,Ramos or

Werth,Rendon,Harper,Zim,ALR,Desi,Span,Ramos.


The "or" lineup is what I have suggested many times but I also would get Span feeling better and get him back in the leadoff against RHPs. I would have pulled Span 2 months ago from the leadoff against LHPs which was a big Davey fail.

Talking about Fails, when the heck is Eck going to teach Span how to bunt? Yes, it's difficult to bunt for a hit but he has been awful in bunting for a straight sacrifice also.


hiramhover said...

222

The Nats face pretty uphill odds right now. Do I hope they make it? Of course! Would I marginally improve their odds over the next 2-1/2 months at the cost of harming the team in 2014 and beyond? No.

Get Your Re(n)d On said...

After the trade deadline has passed or the Nats fall out of contention, whichever comes first, the #1 storyline will shift to who will be Davey's replacement. Girardi? Mattingly? Bo Porter? You know the beat writers are already lining up their sources for this.

A DC Wonk said...

But if Rizzo decides to stand pat at this deadline, I'll be very disappointed....

But if no moves are made, that doesn't mean he "decided to stand pat." It could be that the moves that are available to him are not worth the cost.

As hh just wrote: "Would I marginally improve their odds over the next 2-1/2 months at the cost of harming the team in 2014 and beyond? No."

Section 222 said...

JD -- Oh come on. You mean in order to express the view that Chad Tracy should be replaced, I have to identify the player who could be obtained at a reasonable cost? Of course the devil is in the details. That's why there are professionals in those jobs who have way more information than you and I have. Rizzo got Hairston for not much. Don't you think there's a lefty out there as well? Wouldn't you like our biggest LH PH to have an OPS of over .485?

Of course I don't want to mortgage the future. Do you know for a fact that it will take Goodwin and Jordan to get Garza? Is there no other pitcher out there who would be more reliable in the 5 spot when either Det or Haren inevitably goes down? And no, I'm not going to list all the options, not that I even know what they are. But I sure hope Rizzo does and that he makes a move if there's one to be made.

Also, let's not get into the rut of overvaluing our prospects or forgetting that there really isn't room for all of them in that mythical future that we don't want to mortgage. Jordan has done well so far, and he's probably a nice No. 4-5 in the future, but do you really think he's off limits for any trade? Didn't you once say that he was probably no better than a John Lannan type?

Tcostant said...

Remember last year when Rizzo said we want to play meaningful games in September as his team goal?

Well, that is all we can ask for now in 2013.

Section 222 said...

But if no moves are made, that doesn't mean he "decided to stand pat." It could be that the moves that are available to him are not worth the cost.

Wonk, that is just semantics. If he doesn't make a move that in his view is too expensive, then he has decided to stand pat. And I'll be disappointed that he couldn't figure out how to improve the team for the stretch run because I'm afraid I don't think we have much of a chance at the playoffs with the roster as currently constituted.

But that doesn't mean I'm willing to mortgage the future or pay any price for a starting pitcher and left handed bat. On the other hand, it kind of sounds like you, hh and JD, are prepared to pack it in for this year and just hope for the best with the current roster because you assume there is no deal to be made that wouldn't give up too much. I'm not willing to make that assumption. And I hope Rizzo isn't either.

JD said...


222,

Jordan is not off limits, neither is Goodwin or really anyone else. The issue is for what? teams that are rebuilding use this opportunity to restock for the future and dump salaries. I don't want to trade anyone who can contribute 2-3 wins a year in future years cheaply for someone who can contribute 1 win this year unless there are overwhelming odds that 1 game can make a difference.

The worst thing contending teams (and it's a pretty open question as to whether we are contenders at this point) can do is mortgage the future and then also fall short in the present.

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

I just want them to give it their best shot, and, the Good Lord willing, things will work out.


There is bound to be someone, somewhere, who is available, cost-effective, and could help. The problem is identifying them, for Rizzo more than for us, because he's the only one in this conversation who actually does it. It's not magic, but it's not simple arithmetic, either, where you put in your diligence and skills and are guaranteed results. That's why he gets the big bucks, but only on a short contract.

JD said...


222,

When looking to upgrade the bench (even if you do it won't make that much of a difference in wins and losses) you have to consider the following:

1) The teams which want to trade with consist of these teams which are fairly out of it by 7/31.

2) The teams which want to trade with you on this basis are trying to s*rew you.

3) The pool of available players consists of players who aren't good enough to play every day but who you still consider an upgrade over what you have.

I am not saying there's nothing there, I,m just saying that some of the best deals are those you don't make.

bowdenball said...

222-

Why do you think Detwiler and Haren will "inevitably go down"? Detwiler's ERA in the second half of the season is more than a full run better than his ERA in the first half, while Haren's second-half ERA is less than a half-run higher. What's the basis for this bizarre conclusion that you seem to have assumed as fact?

If I were you I wouldn't go around accusing other fans of being "prepared to pack it in for this year" when you seem to be giving up on 40% of the rotation for no discernable reason.

Water23 said...

JD,

I think people are looking for a Scutaro type player. He was not a good fit with his old team but made significant contributions to the Giants.

There are many players like that and almost every year someone seems to come back from the dead and help their new team to make a run at it all.

JD said...


Water23,

Actually the statistics show that 95% of the transactions done at the deadline make no difference at all and half of the other transactions work in the opposite direction they were intended.

Fools gold.

The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

"If I were you I wouldn't go around accusing other fans of being "prepared to pack it in for this year" when you seem to be giving up on 40% of the rotation for no discernable reason."

40% of the rotation is currently manned by three guys who collectively equal about a pitcher and a half. Taylor Jordan is on an innings limit and has maybe four starts left. On any given day Detwiler is more likely to be hurt than he is to be pitching. And Haren is Haren. Rizzo needs to acquire some starting pitching if he wants to be playing meaningful games in September this year. As Davey Johnson would say, no doubt about it.

Section 222 said...

bowdenball -- Sorry, but you misread me. I said the chances are good that *either* Det or Haren won't be solid from now until the end of the regular season. And since Kid Jordan is innings limited that means we need another starter. To come to that conclusion, I'm relying on what has happened this year. Haren has been largely ineffective and Det has been plagued by injuries. In fact, Det is currently on the disabled list and last I heard it was still uncertain whether he would make his next scheduled start. Haren had one ok start and one good start after being on the DL. Are you really fine with giving him the ball every fifth day from now until the end of September?

Seems to me it's a lot more bizarre to have confidence that they both be fine based on their histories of doing better in the second half. What do the first 10 years of Haren's career have to do with how good he is now? And Det has never pitched over 164 innings and he's injured now. So I'm surprised you'd make that assertion, much less ridicule my view. But unlike many debates here this one will have an answer. They probably have about 26 starts to cover in our last 67 games. I will bet you a virtual beer that between the two of them, either because of injury or ineffectiveness, they will make no more than 15 total. What do you say?

Section 222 said...

Feel has come to my defense. Thank you. Now let me check out the temperature in Hades. :-)

A DC Wonk said...

On the other hand, it kind of sounds like you, hh and JD, are prepared to pack it in for this year and just hope for the best with the current roster because you assume there is no deal to be made that wouldn't give up too much. I'm not willing to make that assumption. And I hope Rizzo isn't either.

Totally not. I just don't want to hear (probably not from you, but from others), on Aug 1, "why didn't Rizzo make a move? he must think we have enough to win" or "he must be packing it in."

Sometimes you want to make a move, but there aren't any good moves to be made.

A DC Wonk said...

Section 222 said...

Feel has come to my defense. Thank you. Now let me check out the temperature in Hades. :-)

Hmmm . . . well, it _is_ the hottest day of the year so far . . . ;-)

hiramhover said...

222

I don't think anyone's suggesting Rizzo give up, unplug the phone, and lock himself in an isolation chamber for 2 weeks.

Of course he's making and taking phone calls, and of course he should do a deal that makes sense. But there's the rub--what makes sense?

I guess I'm more skeptical than you that he can find such a deal, given the Nats current situation and the prices on the market. But he will look, and we will see.

bowdenball said...

15 total starts between now and the end of the season for Haren and Det combined? Sure, I'll take the over on that. Consider it a bet, 222.

As far as being OK with handing the ball to those guys every fifth day, I think we've lost a little perspective because of our rotation last year. I think Haren will put up reasonable #5 starter numbers between now and the end of the year- ERA between 4 and 4.5, WHIP between 1.3 and 1.4. I'd be fine with that. Detwiler is a little trickier because of the health concerns, but if he's healthy I definitely expect slightly better numbers then that, i.e. perfectly adequate #4 starter numbers. If we get that kind of stuff from the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation and the offense continues its upward trend, I predict we grab the last wild card spot and a date in Pittsburgh in early October.

baseballswami said...

Apparently someone saw Rizzo in Miami and the twitter verse is going crazy with speculation.

James Joyce said...

Rizzo has just not proven much of a willingness/ability to make a deadline deal. Not sure that he'll break with his tradition of mid-season passivity this year (he's seemingly never shopping anyone, he's only taking calls, not making them). I am with Don, Mike rolled the dice that the club could lose its Ace, rely on a then injury-plagued pen and ride an iffy offense through the playoffs in '12. He got lucky and the Nats played well enough to hold on, but they just were not that imposing of a playoff club with no Stras and something less than Murders' Row. He could have taken on salary for a starter or moved guys from the farm for some pen help, etc., but he was OK with what he had. What he had was a club that needed a little bit more. Now he has a club with obvious needs, will he do what it takes to fill the holes? We'll see.

Don said...

I was actually coming around to the other side of the argument, but thanks JJ. :-)

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

One question:
If Storen had gotten the call on any one of half a dozen pitches in game five, and they had thereby beaten the Cardinals, what's the "Rizzo-Fail" narrative in that case? Given the schizo post-season the Giants had, there's no telling how that series would have wound up.

The '12 Nats won 98 games, most in MLB; they finished comfortably in first place, which is the highest place anybody gets; if they lacked anything in the playoffs, it was the composure of a bunch of young guys who had not been there before; Strasburg was toast by Labor Day, and anyway, his replacement, Detwiler, turned in the best start they got in the playoffs.


Another_Sam said...

The allstar break has helped me. Rejuvenated me, and I'm ready for the second half -- one game at a time.

In the second half I want to see good baseball, played one game at a atime. Good defense; good base running; good third base coaching [oops, maybe I'm not as rejuvenated as Ithought. sorry.]

Swami, Wonk, and others -- I always enjoy reading your comments.

Play ball.

JamesFan said...

I don't think the issue today is a deadline trade. The question is whether DJ can motivate this team to perform. I'm not sure at this point.

James Joyce said...

Sec 1 D -- If Werth gets under it a bit, flies out and the Nats go down in game 4 to the 88 win, who are these guys?, Cards having been out-scored more than two to one and making 5 errors, is the Rizzo-succeed narrative the same?

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