Friday, March 23, 2012

Is lack of offense a concern?

US Presswire photo
Ryan Zimmerman is one of the only Nationals regulars producing at the plate.
VIERA, Fla. -- Two total runs scored in three days. A .249 team batting average. An abysmal .689 team OPS.

Is there any reason the Nationals should be worried about their lack of offensive punch so far this spring?

No, insists Davey Johnson.

"As I've said before, we're way ahead of what I've seen the last couple of years in our approach, almost to a man," the manager said yesterday following a 9-0 loss to the Cardinals in Jupiter. "That's all I care about: our approach and staying in the hitting area and being aggressive and things like that."

There's always a delicate balance in evaluating players during spring training, deciding what's more important: stats or approach. Clearly, Johnson is more interested in the latter.

Still, the stats aren't pretty, especially for several lineup regulars. Danny Espinosa is hitting .222 with zero extra-base hits and a wretched .504 OPS. Wilson Ramos is even worse with a .179 average and .464 OPS. Ian Desmond was batting around .200 with zero walks until an uptick in recent days.

The biggest problem, though, and the main reason Johnson isn't worried, is the fact the Nationals have yet to field their entire starting lineup this spring. That's both because of playing schedules and injuries to Michael Morse (lat strain), Adam LaRoche (sprained ankle) and Rick Ankiel (quadriceps strain).

The end result of all that has been a ton of playing time for guys expected to come off the bench or not even make the Opening Day roster. Thirteen players in camp have received 27 or more at-bats so far. Only four (Desmond, Espinosa, Ramos and Jesus Flores) are guaranteed to make the club.

Johnson expects to start giving his regulars more playing time next week as camp reaches its final leg. Ankiel has already returned from his injury, and LaRoche is expected back next week. (Morse, on the other hand, may not be ready to open the season.)

"We've got 13 more games," Johnson said. "I think most guys are pretty close. I think with one more week, everyone will be pretty much where I want them to be and I can back off of guys. But we've got a couple guys that aren't able to even come on the field. ... A lot of clubs are in worse shape than we are."

Indeed, plenty of other teams are dealing with their share of major injuries. In the Nationals' case, at least middle-of-the-order sluggers Ryan Zimmerman (1.430 OPS) and Jayson Werth (.958 OPS) are producing.

"I like where we're at," Johnson said. "I've said it before. And if I didn't like it, I'd tell you, too. I'm really happy with the progress I'm seeing from Espi and Desi and Zim, Werth. Almost everybody to a man."

At some point soon, though, you'd like to see others start producing actual results, putting themselves in position to hit the ground running come Opening Day. Johnson acknowledges as much.

"I don't want them peaking too early," he said yesterday.

Johnson then paused for a second and, with a smile, added this qualifier: "We're not."


Sunderland said...

Davey sounds optimistic. And that's appropriate for his role. I'm not so optimistic. Also appropriate for my role.

bdrube said...

"Is lack of offense a concern?"


Anonymous said...

I think our first baseman's full name is Adam LaRoche-is-expected-back-next-week.

And how do we know if the starting lineup hasn't gotten significant playing time? It sounds like a lot of these guys who weren't expecting to make the team will suddenly be making the team, with all of the openings from the DL. For all we know, half of these scrubs WILL be our opening day lineup.

Most of the optimistic projections included statements about "assuming LaRoche returns to normal and Morse isn't a fluke." Well so much for those projections...

FS said...

If Morse starts season on DL, yes. We should definitely be concerned. Otherwise, spring training stats don't count much. Better players than Danny and Ian have had worst spring training games. Morse and LaRoche are must-haves for a full season if we are to compete.

FS said...

Morse is definitely not a fluke. You have Werth and Bautista as example in front of you. I think we can count on 30 - 100 - .290 season from him in a full season.

Anonymous said...

Counting on a man who has yet to step on the field with a glove 2 weeks before the seasons begins...lots of faith there...

fast eddie said...

Davey: "I'm really happy with the progress I'm seeing from Espi and Desi". Huh? Is he watching the same games I am?
At least he clarified Morse's status: "To be clear, his status is unclear." Say, what?

FS said...

Healthy Morse can produce those numbers. Like I said in my first post, not sure we can count on him to be in the opening day lineup.

Anonymous said...

Is lack of offense a concern?? Hell yes! The top of the order cannot get on, Zim's coming back from an awlward, injury season, Morse needs to show he's for real AND he's nicked up, Werth is less than a lock to get to his old level of production, LaRoche is alos coming back from injury and is also nicked up, Ramos might leap forward, but might not. This club COULD be very good, but it also could have 5 regualrs K 100 times and lose a lot of game 3 to 1.

sjm308 said...

Big difference from Davey and Riggs huh?
If we trust that a man who has managed all this time sees progress in our middle infielders then I guess we have to go with that.

Good think DeRosa seems healed, he will be a key while these others come back. Hopefully LaRoche will not hurt anything else and can start. That would be DeRosa in LF until Morse is back and we honestly should not lose that much if this is just a week or so. Remember, Morse did not light it up in April last year so if he can hit the ground running (horrible pun) we should be fine.

I have one question. With Flores proving he can really help offensively, why couldn't the last member of the bench be another catcher? I hate that Davey can't use Flores to pinch hit late in a game because we would not have another option behind the plate if something happened to Ramos. I just wonder how many teams carry 3 catchers?
I am not saying you try Flores at first (although that would help our bench as well). With the little that has been shown offensively, you have to admit that Flores has been one of the stars.

sjm308 said...

Good thing!

Section 222 said...

Another option would be to groom another player as the emergency backup catcher so Flores could pinch hit in the late innings. This would improve our bench dramatically. Unfortunately, I think Morse is one of the players with some actual catching experience. And you kind of have to be able to throw to catch.

sm13 said...

I agree with Davey. We're in NO danger of peaking too early. if the slump ends on April 5th we'll all be happy campers!

MicheleS said...

Standing next to Sunderland, nodding my head in agreement...

I am worried about Drew. What are the "further tests" that were performed on his arm? Did this include a trip to Dr Yokum?

Am I worried we won't have a closer, no MPHRod, Lidge, Clipp, heck even Mattheus could fill in, but COME ON! I feel like we are snake bit with injuries.

JaneB said...

My fingers are crossed for DeRosa to be truly healed so we have some production from him. ALR, an historically slow starter, is getting off to a much later start than usual and that's if he really does play next week.

I will love them no matter how well they produce. But I was looking forward to having the rest of the city notice and love them, too. That will require some better hitting than we will get without Morse.

I think the first month of play is not as difficult as it has been other years, though. Maybe we can keep thing together till ALR warms up and Morse can play. Just stay healthy, Ryan. Seriously.

Marty said...

I'm glad Flores is playing well. Ramos seems to do better under a system like last year where he gets every fourth or fifth game off. The Nats have plenty of incentive to get Flores playing time anyway to show people that he's healthy and ready to start for someone.

Anonymous said...

What is it with 1b and the Nats? Nick Johnson, Dmitri Young, Adam LaRoche, Michael Morse, and Chris Marrero. They are as healthy as a grunt squad after day 1 at Omaha Beach.

Tracy had better hope he gets cut, and Moore should pray for a trade. Even Adam Dunn was reportedly playing hurt last year for the Chisox. And that's where CMW went down, too. He should have known to stay away from 1b.

Next thing, those kids who run the bases at Nat's Park on Sundays will pull up lame before they reach 2nd.


MicheleS said...

Well at least Drew's MRI came back negative. And Kilgore reported that Marrero is coming along.

jd said...

Every team has injuries; part of the game. Last year Philly lost Utley,Rollins,Polanco,Oswalt for long stretches; Florida lost their Ace for half a season, Atlanta lost Chipper, Hanson and Jurgens for big stretches and the Mets lost Davis, Reyes and Santana for huge stretches.

I,m sure that my list is not complete but the point is that we are not more unlucky than anyone else.

jd said...

To me the key to Davey's points is that he is looking at approach. Fans focus in on results and when you are looking at small sample sizes particularly in ST results are meaningless.

If the approaches by Desmond and Espinosa are improving the results will come and when we have a significant sample size this year we can judge the results legitimately.

Exposremains said...

I heard that stuff from managers of Nationals and Expos before about not being worried of spring training stats.
More often than not, it carried into season and than the managers start saying: we've got to get this guy started.

bdrube said...

@jd "I'm sure that my list is not complete but the point is that we are not more unlucky than anyone else."

Unfortunately, because our depth is so thin our injuries are magnified, especially for the position players. I mean, I'm rooting hard for Lombo, but there is NO WAY he should be our Opening Day left fielder.

whatsanattau said...

Lighten up people, everything is going to be fine! Perhaps the rapid availability of information makes it seem like things are worse than they are. I have a little soreness in my left knee and sense it is spring training I can afford to do the right thing and sit out a couple of days, but if this is the regular season, I'm not even reporting it. If I'm fighting for a job, I'm not reporting it.

Morse has a real injury that will take some time to rehabilitate. If it saps his strength or makes it difficult to throw, it's a real problem, but someone else will step up. Would you trade the Phillies medical report for ours right now? Howard (severe), Utley (career?), Polanco (chronic) for Morse (recoverable), LaRoche (recoverable), and Storen (recoverable)? How about the Braves - Hudson, Jurjens, Jones?

Take heart.

bdrube said...

One thing no one seems to mention with Morse is that one of the reasons he didn't have his break out season until age 29 is that he appears to have been very injury prone his whole career. In '08 he made the M's opening day roster, played 6 games and was out the rest of the year. In 2006 and 2007, he seems to have only played about half a season, split between the minors and the majors. And, of course, he missed about a month playing for us in 2010.

As far as health goes, last year appears to have been a aberration for him.

Cwj said...

Exposremains- There is absolutely zero correlation between Spring Training records/stats, and those from the Regular season.
I looked everywhere, including fantasy baseball sites where they are obsessed with player performance. And all (not just some) of the ones I read said that ST results mean absolutely nothing for the upcoming season.
It does mean something to individual players trying to make a team, but even then how they do in Spring will not project on how they do during the season.

Sorry, kinda long :-)

HHover said...

Some commenter--sorry, I can't remember who--praised Davey the other day as a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is straight-shooter. I wonder if that commenter still feels the same way.

Fwiw, I don't really expect anything different from Davey or any other manager. I don't expect him to share every doubt, criticism, etc. with the public.

For my money, it's certainly too early too panic. If/when the time does come, it's something better done in private than public.

Cwj said...

The only two things I care about in Spring Training are who makes the team as a backup, and, of course: injuries.

JamesFan said...

What is troubling is that the Nats' offense looks like the 2011 version without Morse--who provided most of the offense we had last year. Zim has started well, but Desi, Espi, Werth and Ramos looks just like last years version, and LaRoche is hurt. My hope is that this team doesn't dig a hole in April that takes the entire year to dig out of. I see more lineup thinkering ahead and a lack of run production to help this great pitching rotation.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Nady really is an insurance policy at first and left and not just more dead weight!

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

One guarantee Davey can give you out of spring: in approximately two weeks, the Nationals will be in first place. Tied with everybody else.

Cwj said...

JamesFan- Agreed that a lack of offense will cause some lineup tinkering during the first month.
I wouldn't worry about the stats of the regulars right now.
In fact I'm thinking Werth will be a .270-25-80
(slash lines) hitter.
Zimmerman is not hurt (and there's no doubt he's the best hitter on the team), and should have a pretty darned good year. .300-30-100 is a very reasonable projection. Plus, it's my projection which should count for something :-)

Lets say Morse misses all of April, comes back in May and proceeds to hit .285-25-90.

I have no idea about LaRoche. Not sure why he's become so fragile recently, and have no idea when he'll play or even if he can still hit.

Cwj said...

Oops sorry, I meant .285-25-80 for Morse :-)

Section 222 said...

I heard that stuff from managers of Nationals and Expos before about not being worried of spring training stats.
More often than not, it carried into season and than the managers start saying: we've got to get this guy started.

And then they say at the All Star break, "he just needs a few days off and he'll be much better in the second half." And after the season they say, "look at his stats in September, he'll be back full strength next year."

I get the need for a leader to remain positive, and goodness knows Davey has a great track record as a manager. But I'm basically tuning him out as far as his assessments and prognostications go. Let's see some results. Until then, whatever you say is just spin.

Feel Wood said...

I just wonder how many teams carry 3 catchers?

Not very many. Probably more likely in the AL where the 2nd/3rd catchers can pick up ABs as DH some days.

Another option would be to groom another player as the emergency backup catcher so Flores could pinch hit in the late innings.

Werth came up as a catcher and I believe he was considered to be the emergency catcher last season, although never needed.

Cease the Opportunity said...

My prediction is that Morse will play most of next week and be ready for the opening day; Roche too...

Cwj said...

In no real order, here are my projections for the Nats hitters.
SS Desmond- .250-10-50
2B Espinosa- .245-25-70
3B Zimmerman- .300-30-100
LF Morse- .285-25-80
RF Werth- .270-25-80
1B Who knows, maybe Tracy to start?
C Ramos- .275-15-65
CF Ankiel/Bernadina and then....
HARPER- .255-15-60

HHover said...

Of course, once Bryce is up, he can fill in behind the plate. ;)

Section 222 said...

Werth came up as a catcher and I believe he was considered to be the emergency catcher last season, although never needed.

Great point. Given the relative weakness of our bench, do you think it would be worth risking having to put Werth "in the squat," as FP would say, so that Flores could pinch hit in a key spot in late innings? He really is our best reserve RH bat.

Feel Wood said...

Another thing to consider with so many of the everyday players not hitting well yet. None of them have been playing every day. For most hitters, getting in a groove is a very important thing. It's hard to do that when you're not facing live pitching on a daily basis because you're not making the road trips or if you are you don't get much BP because you spend half the morning riding a bus across Florida. Pitchers OTOH are used to the work a while, rest a while cycle because that's how they operate all the time. If we're two weeks into the season and you see this many guys not hitting up to their career norms, then maybe you can start worrying about the offense.

Gardner said...

Concerned? Yes. Concern created by Spring Training performances? No.

Let's all come to terms with the fact that our offense was bad last year. I'm happy to argue with anyone that our offense will be measurably improved with a return to health or form (which is speculative at best at this point) for our veteran proven hitters or a sharp improvement in our young hitters. I just don't see it.

I've been watching baseball long enough to know that 9 times out of 10 a guy who stinks on ice for say his first 1200-1500 at bats in the league is likely to continue to stink for the next 1200-1500 (if he gets that chance). It's easy to hold up a late bloomer as a sign that someone somewhere did figure it out but that's the exception and not the rule. Our offense will be below average until Harper, Rendon, and a lead off hitter to be traded for, signed or developed in house are here and established and the AAAA "one-tool wonders" are forever relegated to Syracuse. Take a gander at the top 10 offenses in the MLB last year - by in large they weren't filled with hope and projections. They were filled with All-Stars and studs. Our lineup is not. Good news is that our offense doesn't have to be amazing for us to be competitive but I'm not seeing league average at this point.

SCNatsFan said...

You do not pay Werth the money you did to have him catch. You want to put Nady or Bernadina back there fine but you can't risk injury to that much payroll.

Section 222 said...

The best injury news this spring is that our starting rotation, with the exception of Wang, is in good shape and injury free (knock on wood.) The poor Braves are in sorry shape.

Feel Wood makes a good point about hitters getting in the groove. I'll be much more interested to see how they do in these last two weeks as the everyday players start playing every day.

NatStat said...

Until real baseball starts on April 5th, it's going to be hard to confirm Davey's perceptions on the offense.

But the few games that some of these guys have been playing seems to confirm that Espi has a more controlled LH stance and Desi has started to focus on being more selective. Werth is going after pitches over the plate, and not just watching them travel into the catcher's mitt.

Ankeil also seems to have tightened up his swing, and started taking advice on laying off pitches that he shouldn't bite at. Ramos appears to be trying to go more to the opposite field.

Davey also wants them to do more with fastballs over the plate, early in the count. The Nats now have a manager who understands hitting and is probably doing more to back up Eckstein and change ineffective swings in the box.

Good to have ALR and The Beast healthy, but the offense seems to be going in the right direction, regardless. All the regulars playing full time will tell the truth about Davey's tale!

Cwj said...

Watching Cubs vs. Tex (replayed).
The broadcasters (Cubs I guess?) are extremely high on the Nats.
Glowing comments about Strasburg and the Nationals being a strong contender.

Always good to hear other commentators praising our Nats! :-)

Cwj said...

Was reading through earlier posts that I missed.
Good to see that St. Louis fans are good people.
I'm trying to think of other teams whose fans I don't hate :-)

Atlanta? Went to a game their once in the early-90s. Stadium (Fulton County Stadium) was half full but everyone was friendly and didn't care about the other team's fans (Reds, I believe it was. Yes it was definitely the Reds because Dibble blew a save and the Braves won in the 9th.)

Yankees? NO! My dad and I attended about 5 games in old Yankee Stadium during the late 80s.
I was just a kid then, but remember the fans in NY being obnoxious. No surprise there.

Cwj said...

I'm curious, does anyone here go back to earlier Mark Z threads to check on recent comments? Or do you just re-post in a new thread?

There are quite a few older posts I'd like to comment on, but if no one's going to read it, I would just be talking to myself :-)

Anonymous said...

Cwj said...
"I'm curious, does anyone here go back to earlier Mark Z threads to check on recent comments? Or do you just re-post in a new thread?

There are quite a few older posts I'd like to comment on, but if no one's going to read it, I would just be talking to myself :-)"

That's one of the primary differences between a message board and a blog.
My advice is to hold onto your thoughts and wait until the subject comes up again.

NatsLady said...

Cwj, I do go back and look at previous posts, and if it is exactly the one previous (e.g., a game thread) I might post an answer. But usually I copy the content into the new post and make my reply in the new post. Hope you read this! :)

Anonymous said...

I don't see how Davey can be happy with the approach that either Espi or Desi is bringing.
This never-ending rah-rah, we have faith in our guys line from Nats management makes no sense to me. They have other guys, also their guys, who can play too. There's no reason to hope and will Espi and Desi through terrible results in the mean time into being more than what they are -- good prospects. They are not good MLB players, yet. Espi can glove as well as anyone, but his approach at the plate is terrible (he’s like Mark Reynolds-lite – 20 HR’s with a .718 OPS-- ouch). Desmond, as we discuss too frequently, has neither side of his game figured out.

It is not going to happen, but it may be that the best combo of middle infielders for the Nats has right now is Lombo at SS and DeRosa at 2B with Espi and Desi in Syracuse playing every day proving they should be stars in the bigs someday. They are clearly not ready for prime time now.

Cwj said...

Anon- Actually if Mark started a message board I'd be all over that! That would be pretty cool.

During the regular season, I tend to post here frequently during most of the games. Then I go to bed wake up and see there are 2 new topics.
Don't have time to comment, and later in the afternoon there's a new game topic :-)

A Nats message're onto something there...

Cwj said...

NatsLady- Read it, thanks! :-)

Anonymous said...

Ha -- well, then we can call Espi and Desi the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, because they will be playing!


Cwj said...

Anon 10:56- I really can't see why you would send Espinosa, a young hitter with 21 HR and .721 OPS (above league average) last season to AAA. Spring Training exhibition game stats is the only possible reason.
And as everyone should know, ST stats mean nothing.

lel said...

Could someone please tell me what the you-know-what "approach" means in this context? Is it how the batter walks to the plate? Or how he compares to other hitters (example from my Funkin' Wangalls: "As a poet he hardly approaches Keats.").
I'd really like to know what Davey is talking about when he lauds the Nats hitters' "approach".

Yukon Cornelius said...

The White Sox have a mountain of a man who plays first-base who's had a tremendous Spring. Blasted two out yesterday and knocked in six. He's totaled four homers already this Spring.

Cwj said...

Yukon- Is that right, Dunn having a good spring?
Good for him. Hope he has a comeback 2012.
I always liked him, and he fulfilled his 2 years with the Nats admirably.
I wish nothing the best for Adam Dunn.

Nat a Chance said...

Times like this, and teams like this, remind us of how tough it is to be a good major leaguer. We all had some high highs with our players, celebrating their successes, but we have to look at the facts now.

Espy and Desi are average players now and will probably tilt toward being low-average players over time. Ramos-average. The probability is that Morse will never replicate, or even come close to, what he did last year. LaRoche, always hobbled, will never be the 25 homer/100 RBI guy of the past. Werth will never hit .280 in the future--his big years were incredibly padded by facing Nats pitching all those years when we had no pitching.

Reading the F bomb-strewn GQ piece on Harper will make you realize that, in addition to the problems with his too-huge swing, he is likely to become a head case on the Nationals. HOFer Mike Schmidt, quoted for attribution in the article, says the game will have to find some way to police this young man. Great start eh?

Leaving us with Zimm, doomed to a year of solo homers because his team is setting new MLB records for low OBP from the number 1 and 2 spots.

What is the good-news story for us this ST? It is this: In Lombardozzi, we have found a promising utility player. Wow.

I have never been around a planning or pre-activity event (football camp, basic training, mock hearings for Congressional testimony) that meant NOTHING to the follow-on activity itself. I have been involved in many successful things where we concluded that the preparation we did before the "season" started made all the difference. Yet we are told, over and over, that ST means nothing to the Washington Nationals, and that all their futility will magically change at Wrigley Field.

This team is in trouble. If you like losing games 1-0, get your season tickets now.

Anonymous said...

Cwj -- Espi hit .236 and K'd 166 times on his way to those 21. He hit .216 on the road. His power is LH but his contact skills are RH domindat. His OPS in the minors was .820, but it's almost 100 points lower in the bigs. He's 24 yrs old and he's over-matched in the big leagues, what's the rush?

Cwj said...

Nat A Chance- I'm sorry but that's ridiculous.
You are clearly basing all of this on ST results.
Pre-season STATS/Records mean nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Ideas, preparation, etc. These things mean a lot.
So does playing what would be mostly bench players at the ML level in ST who are fighting for a job (like Lombardozzi as you mentioned. He's gonna make the team though.)

Pitchers building up stamina, hitters getting loose, umpires getting new contact lenses, etc. That's what ST is all about.

Anonymous said...

"Domindat" is a super-new sabermetric term which means dominant, btw. sorry

HHover said...

Nat a Chance

I think you mistyped your pseudonym. It's spelled


Anonymous said...

Ok, Cwj -- but the actual MLB stats to date for Espi and Desi are pretty grim stuff, no? What reason do we have to think that either, much less both, Espi and Desi are going to be much better than they have been?

Cwj said...

Anon 11:38- You are right, there is no rush with Espinosa. But why send him down after a solid rookie season?
A second baseman who can hit 20+ homers, post a .720+ OPS, and be potentially great defensively should be in the lineup all season. Especially now that the Nats are a coin toss away from the playoffs.

Just my opinion though. And you make very good points.

Anonymous said...

Nat a Chance and CWj are both kinda right. Let's see how Espi and Desi and the rest of them, LaRoche and Morse in particular, fair next week as the club starts getting actually real-game ready.


Cwj said...

Anon 11:52- I wish you would just come up with a name. I just want to know if I'm talking to the same Anon. There are several and it gets confusing :-)

Anyway, I agree about Desmond. Did you see my projection? Still working on the OPS numbers (not easy btw :), but I'd add a .700 OPS for him to go along with .250-10-50 slash lines.
I'm not optimistic about Desmond.

VieraNat said...

We have mountains of regular-season evidence that this team is weak offensively. While we are happy to see Zimm raking in ST, and take this, properly, as evidence that is healthy and productive, we dismiss all the failure around him as totally meaningless.

The evidence that there are problems of, er, "makeup" with Harper grows every day. I wonder how many people on this board read the GQ piece. Does the Schmidt quote bother anyone on this board?

If the purpose of ST is for pitchers to build stamina and hitters to get loose, why not have the players do this in their own hometowns, and just meet up in Chicago on April 5th?

I think the reason Mark wrote the article is not to decry a couple of lousy performances in ST, but to make the larger point that it looks like our anemic offense is stuck in the same gear and there is very little likelihood of change.

NatsJack in Florida said...

There is absolutely nothing in Bryces "make up" to worry about. Alot of what you read, especially in a national magazine, is geared towards sensationalism and the truth be damned.

Get close to the kid, see how he treats the kid fans, watch him hustle, and enjoy

Cwj said...

Viera- Yeah I mentioned the ST game schedule in another thread. Why play 30(?) games before the 162 game season (lots of games!) starts? I never understood that.

I'll try to find the GQ article and give my opinion. Have a quick link?

Anonymous said...

The offense can do better. Davey needs to employ the players who can help the club score. Lombo, DeRosa, platoons galore. Espi cannot bat 2 at this point, Desi cannot leadoff, ever. The Nats need to see the reality in their roster.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

I read the GQ piece, and I think you're making mountains out of molehills. FWIW.

I also think fan predictions on blogs are less useful than spring training stats, which, as we all know by now, are meaningless.

@lel - "approach" as Davey used it means how the hitter plans, and executes that plan, for an at-bat. Some people's approach is basic, "see the ball, hit the ball." Others tend look for a certain pitch, regardless of the pitcher or game situation, like a first-pitch fastball. Some take a lot of pitches and work a count, hopefully to their favor, trying to get the pitcher to use his secondary stuff. Just some examples, I hope it helps.

Erik said...

The Nats might end up as one of the three worst offenses in baseball. Worse even than last year. Morse will be lucky to hit 10 HR's this year...funny what happens to an aging body after steroid use earlier in a career. They get hurt every time!!! I find it truly amazing that Rizzo did NOTHING to improve this offense. Rizzo has received entirely too much credit for "building a contender" and really hasn't been much of an improvement at all over Jim Bowden. What has he really done???
-Traded Josh Willingham (29 HR & 98 RBI's last year in only 136 games and he only costs $6 million/year) for Corey Brown and Henry Rodriguez
-Signed Jayson Werth (20 HR, 58 RBI's and hit for a worse avg. than 135 of 145 qualifying players in 150 games and he costs $18 million/year)
-Drafted Strasburg, Harper, and Rendon (all obvious picks who are giving us fans most of our hope for future success-hardly great GM moves)
-Traded Hanrahan (along with Milledge) for Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett, and then turned around and traded Nyjer for Cutter Dykstra-so basically, Hanrahan, Milledge and Nyjer for Sean Burnett and Cutter Dykstra-horrible trades
-Traded Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos-good trade so far, but Capps is hardly chopped liver
-Traded Langerhans for Morse (great trade, but seems awful lucky to me)
-Did not sign Adam Dunn (got us Storen)
-Signed a hurt Adam LaRoche instead(some credit deserved for Dunn is lost with LaRoche)
-Signed Yunesky Maya to an $8 million contract
-Paid Chien Ming Wang $7.2 million for 11 games started
-Traded 4 top 10 prospects for Gio Gonzalez-obviously this will go a long way in determining the overall success of the Rizzo regime
-Signed Edwin Jackson for $10 million and did not improve the hitting whatsoever
-Treated Riggleman in a very questionable manner

Maybe I am being too hard on Rizzo, but I get so sick of hearing all of the praise for "turning the franchise around." I don't think there would be near the excitement and praise without the luck of getting Harper, Stras, and Rendon in the draft. Lots of credit should still be given to Bowden for drafting many of the Nats and trading a nobody for our only all-star.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Cjw, the GQ article is here.

Warning: NSFW, depending on where you work.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Maybe I am being too hard on Rizzo

Talk about strained lats! You keep bending over backwards to find fault like that, and you'll sever your spinal cord.

HHover said...


Some of your knocks are legit, some are questionable. I think you're clearly wrong, tho, in calling the drafting of Rendon an "obvious" pick.

Rendon fell to 6th because of concerns about his injuries, and the Nats, who don't have a glaring need for a 3B, would hardly have been criticized if they had also passed him over to draft a P--like Archie Bradley, the HS kid whom AZ took at #7.

Whether Rendon works out or not--and of course, if he doesn't, you'll criticize Rizzo for that--I don't think drafting him is what a play-it-safe, follow-the-herd GM would necessarily have done.

Just Nat Certain said...

There is a temptation, because the hype surrounding Bryce Harper has been so out of control, to read the GQ piece and say "Well, Walter Johnson would've never dropped these F bombs and GDs"...or Frank Howard or Joe Dimaggio or whoever. It is always unfair to compare a player to immortals and heroes.

So here is a list of players whom you might recognize, who would NEVER have put out such garbage in an interview:

Anyone else on the Washington Nationals.

NatsJackinFlorida seems to think some of his fellow bloggers are making too much noise about Harper. Does he mean to say the same thing to Mike Schmidt, who said the game will have to find a way to "police" Harper?

I bet if I went on baseball Jeopardy! against NJIF, that he would win. But I bet if NJIF competed against Mike Schmidt, that Schmidt would win. And Mike Schmidt is saying there is a problem with Harper.

Erik said...

HHover-Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade Rizzo for most any GM in the league. The guy is obviously competitive and wants to win badly. I also know baseball enough to never criticize GM's for bad draft picks in baseball. Talk about a crapshoot.

Cwj said...

Just read it. No, Schmidt's quote doesn't bother me at all.
Harper doesn't need "policing". At least not in the Elijah Dukes method.
He's apparently as clean as anyone could be. Which, for a 19 year old, is pretty amazing.

He needs to mature, of course. That will happen when he gets to the Big Leagues and sits next to Werth, Zimm, etc.

Harper is going to show off for a magazine. But I would rather read what NatsJack mentioned in his 12:36 post.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

With all due respect to Mike Schmidt, he's entitled to his opinion, which should carry some weight, but that's all it is. Your guess that he'd be a better Jeopardy! player than NatsJack is beside the point. Baseball is a very conservative culture. That doesn't make them right.

Steady Eddie said...

Sorry, Mike Schmidt's quote = "You damn kids get off my lawn!", "Old man yells at cloud", etc.

As we all know, reading gotcha "journalism" reports is a great way to really understand what's going on, especially with people you don't know.

lel said...

Section Three, My Sofa - Thanks for the helpful response. I did find it useful . It seems at some point, though, you've gotta say - even if you're Davey - that if a hitter's at-bat plan isn't translating into hits, or at least getting on base, there's cause for concern.

NatsFanJim said...

Nat's fans have gone from wildly -- maybe hysterically -- optimistic, to stomping on the Panic Button due to the dearth of runs being scored by a lineup consisting mainly of minor leaguers.

Keep with the Mantra: This is Spring Training: only Spring Training. OOOMMMMMM.

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