Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sinking Nats try to stay afloat

BALTIMORE -- Twelve losses in their last 15 games. Six of those losses by one run, including four straight. And a weekend sweep at the hands of baseball's worst team after leading each of those games by at least three runs.

Suffice it to say, the Nationals' clubhouse is not the happiest place on earth these days.

"It's terrible. It's devastating," said Tyler Clippard, the pitcher of record in today's 4-3 loss to the Orioles. "We're battling our butts off. We're playing good. But we're coming up short. It's not fun."

Plenty of questions were raised this weekend, but as you'll read on, the Nats believe they have the mental toughness to overcome this incredibly difficult stretch of baseball.


Anonymous said...

Losing ONE GAME to the Orioles, heartbreaking! Losing TWO GAMES to the Orioles, devastating!
Losing THREE GAMES to the Orioles, apocalyptic!

Anonymous said...

Mark -- what do you think? Worse than last year's club? Certainly worse from where I sit because of the glimpses of an adequate, 0.500 team we've seen. And is there any talk you hear of a real shakeup -- gettng rid of Riggleman, benching some of the anemic bats, calling up some mystery pitchers, a fire sale trade, or anything at all to keep us interested?

nats rising said...


what troubles me is clippards's comment, "we're playing good." does this comment reflect the team's sentiment? If so, they are delusional.

Anonymous said...

Mark do you get the sense that the players really are taking losses as hard as they were earlier in the season?

Ken said...

Since the Nats were at their season high in May with a 20-15 won-loss record, they've gone 13-28, which is not even remotely close to being even mediocre. The Nats front office, meaning Rizzo, should be ashamed for sitting back and not doing anything, except replace one AAAA player with another.

Nats fans are very polite, cordial and play the role of being a very patient fan when they are out in public, but in smaller more friendly groups, they are sick of how badly the team is performing on the field, as well as the lack action my the Nationals to make things better.

As a not so polite, cordial or patient Nats fan, be it in public or private, I'm sick of being the laughing stock of the National League. Even when other teams are lower in the standings than we are, we are still the National League's number one joke.

I pray everyday for that day when the Lerners are so embarrassed by this team that they will authorize Rizzo to make whatever deals necessary to make this team competitive through the end of the season and start contending next season. But I wont hold my breathe, because if the Lerners actually cared about the team, they would never have allowed consecutive 100 loss season, and had they care, some major changes would have taken place after the second. But they've not given even the smallest indication that they will ever do that, not that they actually care.

Because of Stan Kasten, the Lerners are the group that most Nats fans wanted. Well, they got what they asked for, and while they got what they wanted, they were being fleeced by Stan the spin doctor. Where are the Fred Maleks and Jeffrey Zients of the world when we need them.


I see from my cheap seat that Riggleman did not use his bullpen wisely.

Riggleman does not possess the killer instinct. He did at the beginning of the year and seems to want to be everyone's friend now.

He parades out horrible lineups. Willie Harris and Kennedy, are you kidding me?

He didn't have anyone warm when Clippard came in the game and it cost the team again.

The Orioles won because each night Samuel pushed the right buttons with his bullpen and that is where the Nats lost each game.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Jesus better toss a shutout Monday night. Because sure as lightning, we're not doing anything against Tim Hudson, 8-1 lifetime against the Nats. Lots of groundballs to second base, no moving runners over, no small ball, just more "we're playing well" comments by Clippard, et al.

Earth to Clippard: No, you're not.

Anonymous said...

When's that Edwin Jackson Dan Haren trade for Willie Harris? Maybe there's some other assets the bankruptcy fire sale might help facilitate rebuilding the Nats? Might as well help a guy who was a significant factor in building the club into something (Mike Rizzo)? Good to catch Jon Daniel while he is dyeing his hair.

bdrube said...

There have been a lot of bad moments these past three years, but this one is the worst. It seriously makes me question why I continue to support this team. At 20-15 one would have never guessed that this team might be destined to make a run at a 3rd consecutive 100 loss season. Well, one would have been wrong.

HHover said...

Great piece at CSNWashington, Mark, and I think it helps underscore what many fans are finding so frustrating. Both Zim and Kennedy make comments of the "we've just got to tough it out" variety--as if the losing streak is something that's happening to them, rather than something they're doing.

And some of the individual players may feel that way about any given game--I played well today, it's not on me, I'm not the one who did it.

But that points to 2 things that are missing, at least in terms of what we're seeing in public: 1, any team spirit and sense of responsibility among the players, and 2, any sense that the front office is holding the players and manager responsible. I thought Lannan's demotion last week might have signaled the latter, but apparently not.

A losing streak isn't like a stomach virus. It's not something they need to wait out--it's something they need to change.

Souldrummer said...

Folks, the sky is not falling. We're on pace to win about 70 wins, which represents the kind of incremental improvement over last year that we were supposed to show. It hurts that they lost to the Orioles and it hurts that they falsely raised our hopes with better than expected performance against the stronger part of the schedule and far worse than expected performance against weaker interleague teams, going 3-9 against the Indians and Orioles.

What we learned is that this team has to be better defensively if they're going to win games and that respectability seems to be as fragile as Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps' arms. We looked ugly against the Astros, a far weaker team, when Capps had some bad outings. We looked ugly against the Orioles, a far weaker team, when Clippard had two bad outings.

I'm disappointed and I hate giving the Orioles the satisfaction of a Battle of the Beltways series win in a season when they've been so horrible. But in the big picture, at least it's helped Rizzo to realize that our roster is just slightly better than last year's rather than a mirage like the 2005 Nationals were. Rather than see radical moves to acquire assets that can help us now, I'd rather us prepare to sell assets to help our weak upper minors, a far larger area of concern for me. Start working on moving Capps to someone like the Yankees or Mets while there's more time left in the season and we might be able to get more of value for him. Offer Dunn a fair and reasonable offer that's slightly before market rate in the next 3 weeks. If he doesn't take it and you can't announce a resign before the deadline, sell him now rather than hoping for Jordan Zimmermann luck.

We have enough young pieces (Strasburg, Bernadina, Clippard, Desmond, and Atilano) for the games to be worth watching for me, and as a fan base we should be taking a longer view and think about doing whatever we can to make up organizational ground against the Braves. It will be very informative to play 6 games against the top two teams in the division and see where we stand against them.

bdrube said...

70 wins? That's a laugh. They just came through the weakest part of their schedule. Now they get playoff contenders all the way to the All Star break. In the 2nd half, they get the priviledge of getting pounded on repeatedly within the division by the resurgent Braves and Mets; the Phillies, and a Marlins team that always beats them regardless of the standings. And all of this with four guys named Moe following Saint Stephen in the rotation, a lineup that spends most of its time catching up on its REM sleep, and fielders whose gloves have an allergic reaction to the baseball.

At this point, I'll just be crossing my fingers hoping that they can somehow eek out 32 more wins to avoid the humiliation of a third straight triple digit loss season.

Souldrummer said...

Atilano has been decent so far, I'm not prepared to call him "four guys named Moe". If he is, we have enough 5th starter candidates in the minors to prevent our young guys from getting crushed and embarassed. Martis and Chico are possible options if the ship starts caving in but so much in the short term. In the longer term, some combination of Detwiler, Zimmermann, Wang, and Marquis will help prevent total cratering from the starting staff.

If the bullpen goes under for an extended period of time, it will get ugly, but I think this series was an aberration, not a trend, for the bullpen.

Richard said...

I have to believe the players, coaches, and management are hurting even more that we, the fans, and we're hurting pretty bad, especially after those enjoyable first 35 games when we thought we had some normality. Re some of the players' comments, which I too have questioned in the past, I'm wondering what there is to say in their position after this latest string of humiliating loses.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

I agree, Richard. We've given Riggs a lot of grief for some of his moves lately, and probably deservingly so. But did you look at his face in the post-game interview when they asked about losing three to the "worst team in baseball?" Ever the optimist, even Riggs looked ashen. Thank god they play Monday. Too bad it's against Tim "25 groundball outs" Hudson.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Combining one answer to several of the above questions: I don't believe this team is taking these losses as hard as they were earlier in the year. There seems to be more acceptance right now, more deflecting praise to the opposition, more insistence everything will be OK rather than the kind of seething over tough losses we saw in April and May.

That said, no one of significance's job is on the line. Riggleman's not about to be fired. Major players are not about to be released. The Nats can legitimately look at this stretch and say these losses would have been wins if they just one or two small things right in each game. This team doesn't need an overhaul. It just needs to get its act together and start playing up to its capability.

rogieshan said...

I for one am tired of Riggleman praising the opposition, "their pitchers made the pitches." Well, yes, against the Nats they make the pitches. Go watch the highlights today with Longoria getting in the face of teammate Upton for not hustling. THAT'S accountability. THAT'S what losing should look like.

Anonymous said...

This team doesn't need an overhaul. It just needs to get its act together and start playing up to its capability.

Isn't that the manager's job, to do whatever it takes to get his team's act together and have them playing up to their capability? Is Riggleman up to the job?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response Mark. I was watching the team by the dugout each day (an advantage of having a road series so close) and they looked pretty happy for a team that was in the middle of an embarassing series -- everybody was laughing, etc. I know its a long season and they can't let ever loss eat them up inside but they seem blissfully unaware of how serious this slide is.

I really like Riggleman a lot, and I know he isn't going to necessary publish for public consumption what he really thinks is going on here. But I worry that he and the players really think they are playing good ball after getting swept by a team that was, according to the MLB Network, on pace to have the FOURTH WORST START IN MLB HISTORY. We aren't talking about dropping a couple of games to the Royals or even the Pirates. This is like letting the '62 Mets sweep you and then say everything is fine. Its not. There is a real reason the fans are panicking here, and it goes way beyond hating Baltimore. The fans get it, but I worry that the players and the management may not.

Anonymous said...

It is only darkness now. The Nationals' day has turned to night, and following the time of laughter comes only sorrow.

Our erstwhile heroes stand before us, clay-footed, Achilles-heeled, broken. We learn that their only real skill was exaggerating their abilities.

The bouncing stands are gone now. The playoff dreams of 2005. All gone.

Let this be the beginning of our end, or at least, the end of the beginning.

Anonymous said...

The whole stance being taken by the Nats management is ridiculous. They have a job to do and they're not doing it. It isn't complicated. If an airline crashed multiple flights in a row we would accpet that they felt bad about it? If a bank kept losing your money, would we accept that they almost got it right this time? If your garbage man missed your house 6 weeks in a row but said you would just have to be patient because he is doing a really good job picking up garbage right now, but somehow doesn't quite seem to be able to pick up the ton of stinking refuse at the bottom of your driveway, you wouldn't buy it. The bottom line is that baseball players and their bosses get handsomely paid to play good baseball and win games, and this franchise is doing neither. In other industries, when you fail to do what you've been hired to do, you get your butt fired; well guess what, why should baseball be any different?

This latest debacle in Baltimore is just an embarassment too many. It is time for someone to be held accountable. Perhaps many people. You don't publicly soil yourself like this without there being consequences. So who should go? Well, Riggleman is the "field commander" and made tactical errors of biblical proportions. So he needs to go first. Before tomorrow night's game preferably. I don't care if he's a good guy or not. His team has failed to perform, he's responsible for that, bye. Some of the players need to go. It's time to shake up everyone's comfort zone. Ian Desmond, I don't care if you have the greatest range in the history of baseball if everytime you catch the ball you throw it to a fan in the fourth row. Fix that or see how the weather in Syracuse is this time of year. And puhlese, don't ever say "I don't care if I make 20 errors in a row, I still want the ball. I'm not scared" again. We are. And it's an increbily dumb thing to say. See how you feel about it someday when your wife is pregnant and your doctor says, "gee, I don't care that I've dropped the last 20 newborns I've delivered, I still want the baby, I'm not scared". Willie Harris, .155, nuf said. Wil Nieves, .175, nuf said. There have to be fans in the stands that could produce those numbers just for the priviledge of wearing the uniform and getting an upgrade to their seats.

Maybe some of the senior management needs to go too. Rizzo built a major league team with no second baseman, no right feilder, no bench, perhaps the worst defence that's seen a major league field in a century and a complete indiffernce to the fact they suck! This team is short at least 5 real major league calibre players. Whose fault is that? Yeah, I know, the Kennedy gamble hasn't quite worked out. Time to either take action to fix it by getting rid of the non-performers or commit career sepuku.

Maybe if Nats fans completely boycotted a couple of games....

Attitude Adjustment said...

There is a different team attitude since Strasburg came and the team dropped 2 of 3 in Cleveland.

Dropping Lannan was a good first step of Rizzo making tough choices. There are other tough moves that have to be made as this team needs an attitude adjustment.

Luckily Nyjer has stepped up.

Anonymous8 said...

I watched the Yankees Dodgers game last night and saw a monumental massive meltdown on ESPN that would make you want to go, that didn't happen.

Dodgers took a 6-2 lead into the Top of the 9th. The Yankees smashed the Dodgers closer Broxton who was in there for the work as it wasn't even a save situation. He got smashed for 4 runs to leave in a tie game.

In the top of the 10th the Yankees scored 2 more runs and Mariano Rivera closed the door on the Dodgers with an 8-6 win.

6 unanswered runs in the last 2 innings. I feel a little better today. Is it a case of misery loves company?

Anonymous said...

This team has veterans that know how to handle situations in the clubhouse, not in the dugout where it can be caught by a stray camera. We need to hang in there until the cavalry (of injured pitchers) come back. In the meantime our rookies are still learning (Strasburg, Desmond & Bernadina). Kennedy has a major case of the yips, he needs to get over that soon.


It was earlier this month that some wanted Kearns back in Washington after seeing Kearns had a hand in embarassing the Nats in Clevland.

MEET THE REAL AUSTIN KEARNS? Kearns hasn't hit a HR since that 2 HR night in Cleveland against the Nats and his batting average has spiraled down 31 points since then from .307 to .276.

Not sure where Austin Kearns will be at the end of the year in stats but I think Roger Bernadina will have better stats!

Fire Jim Riggleman said...

Soo...if I take all of my Nats t-shirts, hats, and other gear to an Orioles team store, do you think they'd let me trade it in for O's gear? I'm about at that point.

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