Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Around the NL East: Scuffling starts

Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney
CSNwashington.com

The Nats aren't the only team that has stumbled out of the second-half gate. Things are worse than ever in Miami, as the Marlins' bats have all but gone on strike, and nobody in the division has fared better than 2-2 since play resumed. The only real action in the standings involves Philadelphia moving into second place ahead of Washington, though their seven-game deficit behind the Braves is a veritable chasm compared with the other division leads around baseball.

Atlanta Braves (56-43)

Freddie Freeman has showed no ill effects from the finger injury that kept him from participating in the All-Star Game, boosting his average with a .400 tear since the meaningful games have returned. Paul Maholm, on the other hand, probably wishes he was still on vacation after he was shelled by several soon-to-be-former White Sox on Saturday, giving up seven earned runs in just three innings. The loss was Maholm's ninth, and he's not the only starter saddled with a relatively high number. Though Atlanta's staff is deep and talented, every member has at least five losses, and only Mike Minor (9-5) has a record much above .500. Odd.

It'll be interesting to see what Atlanta does with the non-waiver trade deadline looming; though they likely don't need more ammo to win the East, they can't reasonably expect to contend for a pennant without an upgrade or two. Lefty relief could be a target, but they may choose to add a bat to help in the outfield. If just one of their current outfield starters plays up to his full potential in the second half, that would more than equate to a major deadline acquisition -- but as it is, they have all underperformed, and 99 games is no longer a small sample size.

Player of the Week: Freeman, 1B: 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB, .400 AVG

Miami Marlins (36-61)

If you started your day the way the Marlins began the second half of the season, you'd be better served just going back to bed. Miami was shut out for the first three games back from the All-Star break, a total of 31 innings without plating a run thanks to a 13-inning, 1-0 loss to the the Brewers on Sunday night. The streak of futility was snapped last night when -- who else? -- Giancarlo Stanton doubled home a run in the top of the first in a win at Colorado. 

The unfortunate scoreless streak obscured a relatively good few days for the pitching staff; Nathan Eovaldi was tuned up for six earned runs in just four innings on Saturday, but Justin Turner (5 IP, 2 ER), Henderson Alvarez (7 IP, 0 ER), and the bullpen (12 IP, 1 ER) were otherwise very effective during the slide. Tom Koehler continued the trend in last night's victory, going seven full innings and yielding just one run, with bullpen stalwarts Chad Qualls and Steve Cishek finishing the Rockies off with a scoreless inning apiece. That's good news for Miami for more than one reason -- the several young starters in the rotation are holding their own and maturing, while the bullpen is showcasing well ahead of the trade deadline. Qualls could be dealt, and Cishek should be -- I hear there's a possible opening for a late-inning guy in Pittsburgh.

One thing to keep an eye on in the second half: when the Marlins decide to cap phenom Jose Fernandez's innings. They've been aggressive with the 20-year-old, but if they let him pitch through September, that would constitute definitive proof that owner Jeffrey Loria is doing everything possible to sabotage the team. Fernandez will be shut down at some point. 

Player of the Weak: Alvarez, SP: 0-0, 7 IP, 1 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP 

New York Mets (43-52)

Well, that was a nicer break for New York than it was for most: Matt Harvey acquitted himself well as the NL All-Star starter, and David Wright also got to start in front of the home crowd, though he wasn't able to do much about the final result. Counting Team USA earlier this year, that's the third squad that Wright has been a part of that has failed to live up to expectations (almost entirely through no fault of his own, and in spite of his mostly stellar play). He must be getting sick of it.

Shaun Marcum is out for the remainder of the season with thoracic outlet syndrome (I don't know either), joining John Niese (partially torn rotator cuff) and Johan Santana (shoulder surgery) as starters missing significant time. Noah Syndergaard has made just five starts at Double-A, but his services may be needed before the end of the season, even if it's a September cup of coffee. He's still just 20, though, so the Mets may just as likely choose to keep him marinating in the minors for the rest of the year.

Player of the Week: Marlon Byrd, OF: 4 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .375 AVG

Philadelphia Phillies (49-50) 

Someone needs to sit Ruben Amaro down and let him know that it's probably not going to happen this year. Big league GMs are paid to win, and you never want to see your team give up, but passing up on the opportunity to reload a bit -- not even overhaul, just restock -- in favor of adding pieces to try to make a push will likely serve to set Philadelphia back. This is not a real second-place team -- this is a team that is probably fortunate to be in the position they're in, and at just under .500, that isn't saying much.

It's not that they're sitting at 49-50 and seven games out of first place; teams have been in much worse situations and made deep postseason runs. It's that they're looking at playing the next month and a half or so without Ryan Howard and Ben Revere; Cole Hamels isn't pitching all that well; and Roy Halladay is taking steps towards returning, but can't be counted on to provide a huge boost. These are not the ingredients of a team about to catch fire. Michael Young should return a decent prospect, perhaps from the Red Sox, and some might listen on Jonathan Papelbon (whose contract would be a great one to get rid of). Keep the core, Ruben, but just don't buy anything expensive.


Player of the Week: Utley, 2B: 3 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, .444 AVG (all in just two games)

32 comments:

James Joyce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
natsfan1a said...

I remember reading about this with Kip Wells back in the day. (You're welcome. :-)

Shaun Marcum is out for the remainder of the season with thoracic outlet syndrome (I don't know either)

Section 222 said...

Got new posted. Repeating because I think this needs to be said.

Fans- knock off the tantrums, booing and sense that you are entitled to something magical-- get behind the team, lift them up when they are down, cheer them louder, pull for them no matter how it is going . We need to stop whining also.

swami, have you been to the Park recently? Did you see 39,000+ fans on Friday and 41,000+ fans on Saturday, 34,000+ fans on Sunday, and nearly 30,000 last night cheering their hearts out for the Nats, who failed miserably to get even one win? The fans are behind them. There really is no legitimate complaint about fan support or attitude. And don't blame people for having expected a magical year, and being disappointed or even angry now. That's what all the experts predicted, and it's what the organization from top to bottom expected and promoted. Listen to the radio ads on C&Ds broadcast featuring our players as just one example. It's kind of painful to think about the hopes that players and the scriptwriters had when those were cut.

As for the tenor of the comments in here, different people react to adversity in different ways. As much as I find the LoD approach distasteful, I think we have to admit that so far they've been more right than wrong this year. It's now up to the team to show that "we got this" was more prescient than "this team stinks." There's nothing we as fans can do about that.

Don said...

Gald the new post is up as "Werth on sustained offensive tear" was annoying me to no end. His tear is sustained only if you remove the large portions of time over the last season and a half+ when it wasn't as he was nursing this or that injury. And a sub .900 OPS with 70 RBI is not so much a tear as it is a strong contribution when it comes from a guy getting paid to be an elite performer.


Anyway. The Nats should be able to beat up on this bunch of clubs to some extent. They just need to get it done. No more excuses, just go win ball games.

TexNat said...

I agree with Boswell that the Nats should not compromise the future to pick up any players this year as it is unlikely they pull off the comeback and the farm system is already barren.

VP81955 said...

The Phillies remind me of the team in 1984 and '85, as its nucleus was getting old and no one in the front office (the Gang of Six, as Bill Conlin called them) had any serious idea of what to do next. Yes, they placed second to the Mets in '86, but took a plunge the rest of the decade and, save for the 1993 season when everything magically fell into place, struggled for nearly two decades.

bowdenball said...

Don said...

"And a sub .900 OPS with 70 RBI is not so much a tear as it is a strong contribution when it comes from a guy getting paid to be an elite performer."

The "tear" refers to his last few weeks. His OPS for the last few weeks is well in excess of .900. His July OPS is 1.152.

And I don't understand why his paycheck affects whether or not he's on a tear. You're not paying him. If he's on a tear, he's on a tear. They don't award you fewer runs or hits based on how much money you make.

Also, Werth's salary this year barely ranks in the Top 30 of baseball. When you consider that the majority of major leaguers aren't eligible for free agency, that hardly makes him elite. The five guys closest to him in salary are AJ Burnett, Derek Jeter, Bronson Arroyo, Matt Holliday and Josh Hamilton. Werth has been better than all of them.

3on2out said...

Section 222:

Well said. A voice of reason. The Chicken Littles were gloating last night. "See? We told you. This team is awful." They sound almost gleeful. Why are they here?

Wonk reminded me of that oh-so-true adage:

"A team is never as bad as it appears during a losing streak, and as never as good as they seem during a winning streak."

And Joe Seamhead quoted George Carlin:

“Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

If it wasn't for guys like you and gals like 1a, Mrs. B, MicheleS and Natslady...I'd be in the wind.

Keep the faith.

Tcostant said...

I agree with TexNat and Boswell. If this team wants to come back, do it with the current horses.

Tcostant said...

bowdenball said...
Werth is has been better than Josh Hamilton.

Me: Call a doctor, that insane!

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

Got new posted. Repeating because I think this needs to be said.

swami, have you been to the Park recently? Did you see 39,000+ fans on Friday and 41,000+ fans on Saturday, 34,000+ fans on Sunday, and nearly 30,000 last night cheering their hearts out for the Nats, who failed miserably to get even one win? The fans are behind them.

Really? Last night after McCutchen hit his first HR I heard the chant "B-U-C-S! Bucs! Bucs! Bucs!" coming from my right. I looked over and there were Section 222's buddies in 313 leading the cheer and waving their hats. No one in Pirates gear in that whole section. Those 313 "fans" are clearly nothing but front runners who like hearing their voices on the radio.

bowdenball said...

Tcostant said...

"bowdenball said...
Werth is has been better than Josh Hamilton.

Me: Call a doctor, that insane!"


Not sure what kind of doctor you want to call, unless you think there are medical reasons to explain why Hamilton has been so bad? He's been awful.

Section 222 said...

Feel, yes really. By the way, I sit in 314, not 313, in case you ever want to introduce yourself. And I don't know the 313 crowd, though I admire their enthusiasm. Others here do know them, so I'll leave it to them to defend them against your calumny. But you're probably wrong just like you were wrong about who asked the question about Billy Martin in last night's postgame presser.

You have a great avatar though, and I'm glad you've abandoned the phony IDs here. It's so much easier to ignore you when you appear under the name we've come to know you by for so long.

Joe Seamhead said...

So far, for 2013

Hamilton: .223 BA/.409 SLG/ .688 OPS

Werth : .300BA/.506 SLG/.872 OPS

snopes1 said...

[I apologize for the re-posting, but I accidentally put this in an old thread]

baseballswami: "It was easy to be a fan last year- I sure that some of the bandwagoneers will go away. To me, it's like every other thing in my life- you give an honest effort and I will support you rain or shine until the rainbow shows up."

Well said. Sure the crowds are big right now and they cheer when something goes right. But the booing is something almost entirely new this year. To hear the boos of Drew Storen, who is trying so hard that it's making him less effective, broke my heart and made me mad.

Do they think that booing someone like Drew Storen is going to make him play better? Do they think that he deserves boos because he's trying his best and failing?

I've been to more than 150 Nats games (including the very first one at RFK) and I've booed precisely one Nats player -- the vile Felipe Lopez, who thought it beneath him to run hard on ground balls.

Too bad many Nats fans have decided we should be more like Philadelphia and Yankees fans and boo our own players.

Even for the opposing teams, I don't boo a player unless he shows bad character (I've booed Brandon Phillips many times and will roundly boo Ryan Braun next time he's in town).

Joe Seamhead said...

I don't boo, either, though I did heckle Lastings Milledge once. He really did dog it big time in front of us in CF. That guy was a punk.

James Joyce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Seamhead said...

I should qualify that; I don't boo our players. I am known to boo umps.

Section 135 said...

I really want to know what the Lerner's think of this season. I'm sure they're pissed. Heads may roll this offseason. Davey is luck this is his last year.

Tcostant said...

Boswell's take on Eckstein firing:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/washingon-nationals-firing-of-rick-eckstein-is-a-frustrated-swing-and-miss/2013/07/23/9317e8f2-f3ba-11e2-aa2e-4088616498b4_story.html

baseballswami said...

Joe- bingo! I am just not a doom and gloom kind of person- and I also feel that if I judge anyone, especially someone who is trying and struggling, then Kharma will get me and I will be in that position , wanting support not flak. I am a musician and stages are scary, vulnerable places. I do hope the grown ups in the room put their differences aside and start working together. I hope Schu is accepted in a professional way- none of this is his fault. We should be hearing statements of support for him by Davey and the players today. That has to happen. When things are this bad with the hitting, they should be open to any suggestions.

hiramhover said...

As much as I like bashing the Phils, I don't think you can really get away on a Nats blog right now with snark like this:

"Someone needs to sit Ruben Amaro down and let him know that it's probably not going to happen this year."

Unless, of course, you're wiling to add:

"... right after he delivers the same message to Mike Rizzo."

Tcostant said...

I'll take Hamilton over Werth for the next four years, any day of the week. Hamilton a lot like Werth did a few year ago here, is pressing trying to live up to the big contract.

He's track record says he'll be the much player from here on to the end of each of the contracts.

Those who ignore history...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

I'm still concerned about Gio in this Biogenesis. While workers said he was clean and ESPN printed that, Tony Bosch had the goods on Braun and you never know what MLBs agenda is. There seems a lack of due process and that concerns me. Something to keep an eye on. If I were a betting man I think this Dirty 20 is going to have big repercussions.

bowdenball said...

Tcostant said...

"I'll take Hamilton over Werth for the next four years, any day of the week. Hamilton a lot like Werth did a few year ago here, is pressing trying to live up to the big contract."

That's all well and good, but it has absolutely nothing to do with what I said. I said Werth has been better than Hamilton (this year was implied since we were talking about their 2013 salaries). He has been, easily. You called my post insane. That was a weird thing to say about a correct statement.

paul brandt said...

In the event we become sellers, I would have to think Soriano could be an attractive option for the Bucs given Grilli's injury although have no clue how bad he is injured...if so, what could we get in return? I don't know much about the Bucs prospects.

VP81955 said...

As much as I like bashing the Phils, I don't think you can really get away on a Nats blog right now with snark like this:

"Someone needs to sit Ruben Amaro down and let him know that it's probably not going to happen this year."

Unless, of course, you're wiling to add:

"... right after he delivers the same message to Mike Rizzo."
_________________________


The difference being, of course, that the Phils' nucleus is venturing into Wheeze Kid territory, whereas the Nats' nucleus (Gonzalez, Strasburg, Zimmermann, Harper, Rendon, Ramos) is quite young. Even service dog owners can see that.

hiramhover said...

VP8

That's a great point about the teams' relative long term prospects.

The difference being, of course, that the question here is about their short term prospects--whether "it's probably not going to happen."

In that regard, alas, not much separates us.

hiramhover said...

"...probably not going to happen *this year*"

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

By Boswell's logic, they were wrong when they fired Randy St. Claire instead of Manny Acta midseason in 2009. Did Boswell chastise them then for that? I don't think so. And did that throwing of a poor, innocent and hard-working pitching coach under the bus hamper the organization for years to come in ways too numerous to even hint at what they might be in a column? No. It got them Steve McCatty and a pitching staff that's the envy of MLB. Meanwhile, St. Claire was quickly snapped up by another organization and got the chance to prove again that he's a great pitching coach. Similarly, if Eckstein is the great hitting coach that Johnson and Rizzo and everyone else says he is, he'll be working again soon - and maybe in a position of more responsibility. Sometimes when you've tried everything else to solve a problem the only thing left to do is provide a new voice and a new viewpoint to address it. That's all this move is. Not desperation, not panic, just baseball. Boswell should realize that after all his years covering the sport.

John C. said...

hiramhover said...
As much as I like bashing the Phils, I don't think you can really get away on a Nats blog right now with snark like this:

"Someone needs to sit Ruben Amaro down and let him know that it's probably not going to happen this year."

Unless, of course, you're wiling to add:

"... right after he delivers the same message to Mike Rizzo."


Hiram, Mike Rizzo probably knows it - that's why he's talking down the possibility of making a move at the deadline. The difference is that Rizzo isn't doing anything that is jeaporizing the future of his organization while Amaro is. Not only is the Nats farm system in better shape than the Phillies' farm system, but look at the age of the players. Out of their starting rotation and starting eight position players, here are the number of players under the age of 30:

Phillies (7): Hamels (29); Lannan (28); Kendrick (28); Pettibone (22); Dominic Brown (25); Ben Revere (25); Delmon Young (27)

Lannan and Young are about to be free agents (and are not very good) and Hamels is already really expensive. Kendrick is already on the arbitration ladder and a free agent after next year. In terms of cost effective talent, the larder is pretty bare - Dominic Brown and maybe Pettibone.

Nationals (10): Span (29); Suzuki (29) (he's played more games, although the real starter at catcher is Ramos (25); Zimmerman (28); Gonzalez (27); Zimmermann (27); Detwiler (27); Desmond (27); Strasburg (24); Rendon (23); and Harper (20).

Even the Nationals' bench is younger. For the next couple of years the Nationals will be younger and cheaper than the Phillies, which is why Amaro should be more conscious of the need for the Phillies to remold their roster and organization when he gets a chance.

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

Section 222, I only know what I see and hear with my own eyes and ears. Maybe those people in 313 who aren't your friends but who you can't stop promoting lost a bet or something when they were doing their thing up in Pittsburgh this year. You know, like sjm308 losing a bet and having to wear Orioles gear. Whatever it was, they did the B-U-C-S cheer after McCutchen's first homer. But not again after the other Pirates runs. I bet if you go back and listen to the archived radio broadcast you can probably hear it. There sure wasn't any noise from Nats fans then.

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