Sunday, July 18, 2010

More from Eckstein

MIAMI -- As I alluded to in my postgame article on, Rick Eckstein takes his team's poor offensive performances just as hard (if not more) than his players. That's certainly understandable, because this is Eckstein's livelihood. He spends every waking moment working with hitters, studying video, thinking about swings and opposing pitchers. Hitting consumes his life.

Eckstein had some interesting things to say following today's 1-0 loss to the Marlins -- the Nats' second straight shutout. I was able to use only a couple of the quotes in my earlier article, but I wanted to share the full transcript of Eckstein's interview with a couple of us inside the Nationals' clubhouse...

Q: What do you take out of this past few days?
A: The game is based on execution when you've got runners in scoring position. That's the bottom line. We just didn't execute the last few days. We had our opportunities, and we couldn't capitalize on those opportunities. To do a better job in the future, we have to capitalize on the situations execute. The bottom line is, find a way to get it done.

Q: Is there anything different in the approach in clutch spots?
A: Well, we're getting pitches to hit and we're just missing them. When you don't execute a situation, you can say whatever you want. The bottom line is, do you get the job done or not? The last two days, we were getting the job done with nobody on. But then when guys were on base, we weren't getting it done. Plain and simple. Typically in those situations, they tend to pitch us in a different way. We've got to make adjustments. Our adjustments weren't up to par.

Q: As hitting coach, how much do you take it personally?
A: Every pitch. Every pitch. Yeah.

Q: If you're having success when guys aren't on base, how do you go about fixing the problem?
A: Well, you've got to evaluate, is there a problem? Sometimes, it's baseball. That's the first thing you have to do. You've got to realize: Are they conducting their at-bat in a good way? Are they doing what the plan is, and trying to execute that plan? Sometimes, you know, there was a pitch out there that one of our players put in play that, if the wind isn't blowing in, it's a home run. But it wasn't today. It's a flyball out. So is there a problem there? No, I don't think so. So, hey, keep nutting it up. So you have to evaluate. You have to look at the way they're conducting the at-bat, how they approach [it]. Ultimately, the result doesn't always dictate if it was a quality at-bat or not.

Q: Do you have to remind guys of that when it's going bad?
A: Don't get me wrong. There are times where it's: "No. No. We need to have a better plan. We need to have a better approach." But there are also other times like: "You did what you were supposed to do. You conducted a professional at-bat in that situation. Keep doing that." Each at-bat is individualized to each individual person, to each individual situation, on each individual pitch. But I was bad yesterday, and I was bad today. I'll be better tomorrow."


JayB said...

Like Eck a lot.....he is not the problem....problem is Riggleman and Rizzo have put way too much faith in Kennedy, Harris, Morgan, Guzman and Will N. These guys are not producing and Nats FO and Riggs just refuse to admit they blew the Winter moves this bad.

I see more of the same for the rest of the year and 97 loses and Riggs taking the fall.....which he has earned. Rizzo is not blameless here....if I were Ted I would hold his feet to the fire right now and get some action now.

Cwj said...

Agree that Eckstein is not the problem. However unless they start scoring runs in bunches, it will be Eckstein and not Riggleman who takes the fall.

Anonymous said...

>>>if I were Ted I would hold his feet to the fire right now and get some action now.<<<

While we're talking to Ted, maybe he can open up the purse strings (watch the moths fly out) and sign some good players?

Anonymous said...

Eckstein is definitely not the problem, and I'm sure the FO realizes that as well. The problem is just that we have some terrible players. Did you know, for example, that Wil Nieves has a career -1.1 WAR? That's right... after all his time in the majors, he has actually LOST the teams that had him 1.1 games more than an AVERAGE MINOR LEAGUE CALLUP would have. He should be nowhere near any major league roster, and the fact that we're starting him every few days is an absolute joke. We need to get rid of players like him and bench underperformers like Morgan (who has 0 WAR this year), Kennedy (-0.1 WAR this year) and Harris (also -0.1 WAR this year). This is not a case of "we have no one to replace them," this is a case of "the team would be better off if we replaced them with players from Syracuse." And that is sad.

Doc said...

Eck may be the best hitting coach in the Bigs! The problem is he has some players that are not mentally coachable and some that are over-the-hill. Morgan is in the former category, and Kennedy and Harris are in the latter.

Dunn's Ks on Saturday, are probably just part of the game. Some things, like Eck suggests are 'just baseball'. In football the coach doesn't keep anybody around that isn't coachable. Riggleman could help Eck out by kicking some ass.

JayB said...

Agree with you all. The problem is the talent being used by the manager. Rizzo is ultimately responsible for both of these items. Yes Ted should spend more but that is not needed to produce better results than this.......If I am Rizzo I am very active this next week or two. He and his own people this time misjudged several moves this off season and it is on him to fix them ASAP.....I would love to see Listash or Foli finish the year with Kennedy, Harris, Guzman, Morgan, Wil N. DFAed or traded for whatever they will bring. I would also trade Capps and Willingham before the Deadline for Catching and OF/2B help that is younger and better defenders.

I understand this is a repeat of what I have been saying for 8 weeks....the record and performance of these guys proves it was right then and it is still right.

Richard said...

I note that one blogger today used a sabermetric measure, "WAR", to criticize Nieves, Kennedy, and Harris. I was at the game July 9 when Nieves' hit scored a couple of crucial runs and have seen him come up with other big hits over the past couple of years. His BA in 2008 and 2009 was a respectable .260 or so, although his slugging and OBP weren't too good, and his year his BA is south of Mendoza. Anyway, Mark, re sabermetrics, do find any of the measures especially useful?

Bowdenball said...


Your post is a perfect example of the value of sabermetrics/statistics. Without them, people tend to put WAY too much emphasis on games they were at or remember fondly. It's great that Nieves got a key hit once when you were in the stands, but the numbers are there to remind you that most of the time, he makes outs, and when he doesn't, he doesn't do anything else special to contribute more to the chances of victory than any old readily available AAA-level guy.

NatsJack in Florida said...

You are correct Bowdenball. Wil does mange one or two notable at bats per season which I believe Maldonaldo has already done in far fewer games.

The problems on this team remain consistant with Morgan, Kennedy, Harris and Nieves as the glaring weaknesses. I get a kick out of JayB who seems to think all Rizzo has to do is pick up the phone and replace this guys with bonifide Major League prospects. In season changes are hard to make when your assets are limited. I see Capps, Willingham and Dunn as our ownly valued commodities and filling the holes created by dumping the 4 weak links is one thing while replaceing Capps (easy) Willingham and Dunn (not happening) is another.

HHover said...

I'm a little surprised--but maybe I shouldn't be--that commenters are using this as another occasion to pile on Nieves, Harris, and Kennedy. Much of what's being said about them is true but beside the point.

The primary culprits in this weekend's power outage weren't those bench players but the heart of the order. Zim, Dunn and Willingham among them left 11 on base Sunday and 15 on base Saturday.

The bottom of the order and bench players will occasionally produce (@ Richard) but usually won't (@Bowdenball)--that's why they are where they are.

The frustrating thing about this weekend is that the power outage coincided with some fine pitching performances and thus squandered what should have been the chance to pick up at least one of those games. Zim, Dunn, and Willingham will come around, but it won't matter much if they do it in a game whether the pitching staff crumbles.

greg said...

one of the differences between a good team and a bad team (offensively) is how often the bottom of the lineup produces. are they a complete black hole or just not as good as the middle of the order?

the real problem with this team is that (other than this weekend, for the most part) the middle of the order (3/4/5) has produced fairly consistently and the other 5 non-pitchers (beyond the pre-injury pudge) have not.

three good hitters does not make a good offense. one black hole is something you can work around. 3-5 black holes can decimate anything three good hitters can accomplish as far as overall offense.

HHover said...

Greg - over the long run and as a general matter, you're absolutely right. But in the short run and in terms of this weekend's games, no.

There are plenty of reasons to complain about Nieves, Harris, and Kennedy, but they weren't the ones stranding most of the runners this weekend (6 LOB for the 3 of them, vs 26 for Zim/Dunn/Hammer).

That's why complaining about those bench players seem out of place in a piece about this weekend's hitting woes (now, if you want to complain about Kennedy's baserunning and fielding...).

Anonymous said...

Morse managed to get a hit in his only appearance since the All Star break. And Willie Harris? That's why you complain about guys like Harris, Nieves, Kennedy and even Guzman. Were it not for Kennedy's boneheaded base running the Nats might have tied the game and even gone ahead in the ninth.

Yeah perhaps you could find better in AAA.

Anonymous said...

Just to add Morse got a clutch hit. If you consider Morse a "power bat" not all the "power bats" failed.

Anonymous said...

The sky is falling routine makes me yawn. The Nationals are what most people thought they were, i.e. an improved but still not very good team. I'm still irritated about Orlando Hudson, (and the stupid slow dog commentary about him on these boards), but he wouldn't have made them that much appreciably better. That said:

Kennedy needs to play every day. When he doesn't he is a pretty bad player, as we have seen. My guess is that he is being showcased. So quit your bellyaching and feast upon his amazing showcase.

Nieves is history in the making. He is a first ballot Bad Baseball Hall of Famer. For references, see Joe Posnanski.

Willie Harris has no power. Willie Harris wants power. Willie Harris is pull happy so he can get power. Therefore, Willie Harris has bad at bats. "Do it once shame on me. Do it twice.... just don't do it again." Well, Willie has been doing that for a few years now. What's Eckstein going to do?

I'm not sure you want to trade away Willingham. Unless there is an intention to get as little as possible for him, and play Mike Morse every day, I don't see the appeal here. Throughout his career he has been a cheaper version of Jason Bay (when he was good). That's a quality asset that is probably undervalued in the marketplace (i.e. only Fangraphs seems to like Willingham as much).

The Nats don't have a viable closer yet. Don't gut your bullpen now that iit is pretty stable. I'd wait for the offseason on trading Capps.

And Dunn is not SO bad at first base. He's not so good either, but I really like his bat more and more.

Anyway its all my opinion and who cares. Rizzo is the guy working the phones, and if a great deal came along, I'm sure he'd take it regardless of what you guys think. And by the way, for you guys complaining about Rizzo, his salary for this year was pretty set. He couldn't get all the people you want. The budget wasn't there for O-dog, another catcher, or a RF. Just like it seems that the budget is not there for International free agent signings. Call it cheap or savy, I could care less. I think whats more interesting is on what will happen this offseason. I think what ownership sets as its salary level (especially after seeing the gate draws on Strasburg games) will be quite telling for what this franchise will be for the next 5 years. Mostly because there are some needs on this team and there are not internal obvious minor league options to fill them.

Post a Comment