Thursday, May 10, 2012

Swing and a miss

Associated Press photo
Ryan Zimmerman struck out with the tying run on base to end the game.
PITTSBURGH -- Rarely in his 10-plus months on the job has Davey Johnson expressed the kind of frustration that came pouring out of the Nationals manager's office at PNC Park Wednesday night following a 4-2 loss to the Pirates.

"You've got to make contact," he said. "You can't drive a run in without making contact."

Generally upbeat and positive throughout his tenure with the Nationals, and always the first to give public and private votes of confidence to his players during good times and bad times, Johnson was as upset with his team's performance in this game as he's been on any previous occasion.

Can you blame the 69-year-old skipper after watching his lineup strike out 11 times -- all swings and misses, no called third strikes -- against a quintet of Pirates relievers pressed into service when starter Erik Bedard departed after throwing only eight pitches due to back spasms?

"Sometimes we expand and chase balls early in the count, and we just can't do that," Johnson said. "That's not being a good hitter. We had so many chances. I thought, two or three times, just a little bloop here and we'll win this ballgame. It's just not coming."

There was no singular corner of the clubhouse to place blame on for this one. Poor at-bats came from just about everyone in the lineup. But the final two innings perhaps best exemplified the problem.

Cut to the top of the eighth, with the Nationals trailing 3-2 but threatening after loading the bases with one out. Up stepped Danny Espinosa, the slumping second baseman who did come through the previous inning with a double to left, ultimately scoring on Chad Tracy's sacrifice fly.

This time, Espinosa swung and missed at a 3-2 fastball from right-hander Jason Grilli, stranded the bases loaded on his NL-leading 39th strikeout of the season.

Moments later, Rick Ankiel swung and missed at a 1-2 fastball at his eyelids, killing the potential rally in a pattern that has become all too familiar for the Nationals.

"I wouldn't necessarily say it's a pattern," hitting coach Rick Eckstein said. "I'd say at times it manifests itself. The pressure builds because I believe in a lineup that's best when each guy knows that the guy behind him can do the job. So then you can be patient and be a little more aggressive in your zones, not expanding. And if they want to walk you, pitch around you, whatever, the next guy picks up the load. And at times when that's happened, we just haven't taken advantage of the next guy picking up that load."

Similar events unfolded in the ninth, with closer Joel Hanrahan putting himself in a jam after hitting Steve Lombardozzi in the foot and then serving up a one-out double to Ian Desmond. That left the tying run in scoring position for two of the Nationals' best hitters (Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman) but neither was able to produce with the game on the line.

Harper, who did draw a fourth-inning walk to reach base for the ninth time in 10 big-league games, fell behind to Hanrahan 0-2 and then popped out to the shortstop. Zimmerman, who did double in the eighth, then whiffed at a 3-2 fastball for his third strikeout of the night.

"I worked the count," Zimmerman said. "I got a pitch I could hit. I just didn't hit it."

Though Johnson and Eckstein both preach an aggressive approach at the plate and encourage their hitters to swing with force, both acknowledge more players need to shorten their strokes in certain situations, especially with two strikes.

When it comes down to it, I think we have to get better with two strikes," Zimmerman said. "No matter who it is, we've got to shorten up a little bit maybe, especially in those situations with one out and runners in scoring position. I'm not saying anyone in particular. We've all been, unfortunately, guilty of it sometimes this year."

Johnson said he wasn't prepared to talk about any possible lineup changes -- "I'm getting over this one before I think about tomorrow" -- but it wouldn't be surprising if Espinosa is given Thursday's series finale off and Lombardozzi is given a chance to make only his second start of the season at second base.

If nothing else, Johnson could justify the swap as an attempt to get his team to put more balls in play. Espinosa is striking out in 31.7 percent of his plate appearances this season, the highest rate among all qualifying NL hitters. The two players on the Nationals' roster with the lowest strikeout rate: Harper (9.5 percent) and Lombardozzi (7.0 percent).

Of course, the Nationals' offensive woes aren't confined solely to strikeouts. They've now totaled five or fewer hits in an astounding 11 of 30 games this season.

"I don't know if guys are feeling too much pressure because we're having trouble generating runs but, boy," Johnson said. "Guys, the pitcher's in a jam. Just relax, and if he throws it over, hit it.

"But tonight was especially frustrating. No doubt about it."


Dave said...

To quote myself from an April 10 Beltway Baseball Post . . .
"It is only 4 games in but the Nationals trend of K's seems to be continuing from last year. I personally was on the bandwagon for an above .500 season but after the second game realized that the teams inability to get productive outs will keep them from the playoffs."

This teams ability to hit a pop up on the infield when a long fly or move him over grounder is needed is uncanny. Stats somewhat bear this out, although not last in the league.

Scott from Burke said...

Dave said: To quote myself from an April 10

Dave loves him some Dave

rogieshan said...

"Johnson and Eckstein both preach an aggressive approach at the plate and encourage their hitters to swing with force..."

There's the rub. Hopefully, they don't try to instill this philosophy on Harper. The kid seems to know what he's doing just fine.

peric said...

Gee Dave,

Well before April 10th we had discussions about the dearth of offense. And the fact that the offense had been extremely subpar even when Dunn and Willingham were here. Stats don't lie and that's what they show.

JayB was pretty agitated well before April 10th? And most here called him on it. I agreed with him with the caveat that the Nats are developing prospects, they aren't going to go outside for anyone unless its someone pretty special. I said you're going to have to be patient. But the pitching and defense should still be good enough for .500 and above.

Well then up come the Nats who jump into first place. Suddenly, everyone is caterwauling about the offense. This was what this team was going to be like even with Morse and Werth.

The hope is that eventually the prospects would develop their hitting. And that can be a long process. Even Harper still needs development to round out the rough edges in his hitting.

The only really sorry part about this season from my perspective were the losses of Storen, Rendon, and Solis. It will set back their development. Losing Werth isn't the same as he is already done developing.

kc21 said...

I think the starting pitching is to blame. We need each of them to throw shutouts and keep their pitch count low so they can throw complete games. :-)

I don't think there are any solutions offensively on our team right now. This is what you get when players strikeout way too much and can't hit off speed pitches.

We need Morse back badly. And, I know most of you love sticking to the plan, but I don't think trading for 1 or 2 reliable hitters who can hit fly balls in key situations would cost much.

Our future is very bright, but still wonder if we can start both Desmond and Espinosa the way they strikeout. Anyone know think Kobernus, Hague, and/or Rendon will be ready in 2013?

JayB said...

This Team has had a poor hitting approach for years. I have met and talked with Eck two times in Spring training over several visits. A very good person. A very hard worker. A very smart man. It is time for him to leave the MLB dugout. He should be on the GM's staff working on stats and advance scouting. He should not be in the hitters heads before each at bat. It has proven not to be effective over a very long period of time.

Dave said...

I just want y'all to know that I'm not the Dave who quoted himself. There seem to be two of us Daves here.

I don't think anything I ever posted before is at all quote-worthy.

ExposedinDC said...

Sure Davey, but keep telling yourself that Espi is your 2nd basemen, this type of loyalty to a player who leads the league in strikeouts will soon find our Nats in 4th place

m20832 said...

DJ is frustrated?

You are the Manager! DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!!! Espinosa is NOT going to "work his way out of it"!

Put the best nine on the field every night! I feel the lefty-righty crap is way too overblown. If a player has shown he can hit, put them on the F'N field!

Please GYFNG!!!

NatsNut said...

Scare 'em Davey. Start throwing bats and calling them lollygaggers.

320R2S15 said...

Is it a general thought in here that Ramos is a better player than Flores? If so, then do not count me in.

Dave said...

I personally believe that Flores > Ramos. I recall JFlo being a beast at the bat and a good receiver before his injury.

This is Swinging-Zimmy-Avatar Dave. I will never again quote this comment.

NatsLady said...

JayB--never met Eck, but just on observation, have to agree. Time and time and time againI've watched McCatty settle down his pitcher, last season, this season. Not feeling that with Eck.

What you need in that situation is "game perspective." Hanrahan was as wild as Henry. The guy before him (whose name I already forgot) had nothing. When they are giving you the game, people, take it! There is no doubt in my mind Werth would have gotten an RBI walk in the eighth inning. In the ninth I was so ready for RZ to show Bryce how it's done--or at a minimum, keep the line going for LaRoche.

Ankiel is just streaky. Much as I like him, he's going to go 3 for 4 one night and 0 for 4 with three strikeout the next night. And whoever said Ankiel should have been more aggressive Tuesday on a single (which I didn't see)==> really? I did see the other play he made and my heart stopped for fear of yet another injury. Ankiel already plenty aggressive.

(I do wonder if McCatty went to the restroom Tuesday night or if Davey felt Henry and Ramos were going to just have to work it out by themselves.)

Bryce is coming back to earth but still great fun. Needs to acknowledge the cutoff man's existence.

Gonat said...

JayB said...
This Team has had a poor hitting approach for years. I have met and talked with Eck two times in Spring training over several visits. A very good person. A very hard worker. A very smart man. It is time for him to leave the MLB dugout. He should be on the GM's staff working on stats and advance scouting. He should not be in the hitters heads before each at bat. It has proven not to be effective over a very long period of time.

May 10, 2012 6:37 AM

I was an Eckstein supporter every season until this year. I don't agree with your last sentence at all as the great hitting coaches will pick up something watching the pitcher and give that special tidbit to his player along with positive reinforcement. Young batters need a plan.

Just ask David Frese on the last second advice from Mark McGwire in the World Series.

Bryce Harper stepped into the batting box like we have seen too many young Nats. Swinging away from his heels at strike 1, strike 2 and getting in a hole and popping up. Espinosa got a 93mph center cut fastball and swung and mix and the veteran Ankiel swung from his heels at 3 balls out of the strike zone. Ramos luckily took 2 balls and swung at the 3rd pitch, maybe should have been taking. Zim had Hanrahan on the ropes and swung through another ball he could have driven the other way.

Hard to watch and glad Davey finally showed some frustration.

ehay2k said...

Last night, I suffered a flashback to last year, the Cubs game when Marmol couldn't find the plate and we struck out swinging with bases loaded, TWICE. Grilli wasn't as wild, but with a little patience we more than likely walk in a run. Actually, with any patience we definitely do. I was hoping Davey would help with the situational awareness that our swinging coach (I will no longer use the word "hitting" when referring to him) clearly lacks. If Espi or Ankle had shown bunt, just to get in Grilli's head, that would have been better than swinging at high fastballs. If memory serves, Espi might have actually been able to bunt down towards third with the 3b playing deep and shifted.

In realize it's easier to fire someone than it is to hire a good replacement, but could ANY available hitting coach do worse than the swinging coach we have now? At least with Lenny Harris, they learned to play cards. I can't even say that about Eck.

Gonat said...

ehay2K, good perspective and you are probably right, swinging coach is probably a better title.

natsfan1a said...

Lollygaggers? I think I feel a bat breakout coming on. :-)

So, you're Dave the teacher, right? I'm so confused. (Funny, btw.) :-)

Dave said...

I personally believe that Flores > Ramos. I recall JFlo being a beast at the bat and a good receiver before his injury.

This is Swinging-Zimmy-Avatar Dave. I will never again quote this comment.
May 10, 2012 7:12 AM

Gonat said...

Remember in the 8th and bases loaded, Espi swung at the 1st pitch out of the zone. Then he worked the count to 3-1 and took the next pitch which looked like a ball. In the 3-2 count he finally got the fastball down the middle.

Why wasn't Espi taking on the 1st pitch?

lawprof said...

Espinosa has GOT to be sent down to Syracuse to sort himself out. He seems to have lost the ability to hit the breaking ball. He needs to build up his confidence.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

"I wouldn't necessarily say it's a pattern," hitting coach Rick Eckstein said.

That's the problem right there. You can't solve a problem until you recognize it's a problem.

ehay2k said...

See the link to the left on the MLB site: "Eckstein looking for better approach from hitters"

That settles it. He has been coaching Espi for almost, two years, Design 3, and Ankiel since before he came to DC. If you want a Porter boy for ineffective teaching, Rick is it.

You cannot read that article and not think, "Wow, he is cluless as to his own ineptitude."

Please Rizzo, fire the swinging coach, or give him a job as an advance pitching scout. We need to bring in who can teach these guys to hit by 2013 or we will never get our WS opportunity.(this is clearly notno

ehay2k said...

...not the year.)

SCNatsFan said...

I have more faith in Matt Stairs then Eck

baseballswami said...

I finally agree with Scott from wherever -- Davey is all about Davey. He thinks he can just bring the entire force of his confidence and ego to bear and good things will magically happen. He does not manage the bullpen well at all( example - why does Burnett never pitch, why does he not even try someone else to close) and he gets stuck in mindsets ( espi and hrod for ex.) and does not ever consider the possibility that he could ever be mistaken. I take issue with what sounds like him throwing zim under the bus who just returned from a dl stint and has been the rock of this team. All the funny stories from the past and having confidence in people do not solve practical problems. Maybe he'll just go play golf with them and tell a few stories about how great he was when he played. He IS a good baseball guy, don't get me wrong - but everyone seems to be ready to make him out as some kind of saint. He is not - he has flaws just like any other manager. He might make a scene but he probably won't look in the mirror.

Gonat said...'R'&season=2012&league_code='MLB'&split=&playerType=ALL&sectionType=sp&statType=hitting&page_type=SortablePlayer&season_type=ANY&sportCode='mlb'&team_id=138&active_sw=&position=&sortOrder='desc'&sortColumn=avg&results=&page=1&perPage=50&timeframe=&extended=0&last_x_days=&ts=1336653144629&tab_level=child&click_text=Sortable+Player+hitting

Sorry about the long link. That is the offensive numbers for the Stl Cardinals. Look at all the "no names" that look like Hall Of Famers.

#14 is a familiar name. Erik Komatsu, the Rule 5 from the Nats. He was batting .211

The Cardinals already cut him loose. Komatsu never played higher than AA and when he was released still was hitting higher than Espi, Bernadina, Nady and DeRosa.

So you tell me, is it the student or the teacher?

PDowdy83 said...

"So you tell me, is it the student or the teacher?"

Both! You can watch the guys who are confident in their abilities and tell they are not doing the same thing that some of the other players are. Werth came into camp this year with a different approach which appears to have been his own idea and not Ecks. Harper hasn't changed anything from the minors and his approach is far superior to the 4 players you listed above. Desmond credits Davey with changing his approach, not Eck. Danny and Bernie are both lost and look scared at the plate and they appear to be 2 of the people Eck works with a lot. Nady has been done since he had tommy john surgery a couple years ago. DeRosa is hurt so I will leave him alone. If this continues for another 2 weeks or so I would not be shocked if the Nats remove Eck from his role.

Scott from Burke said...

baseballswami said... I finally agree with Scott from wherever

It's Burke, mo, and that's not my opinion at all..i love davey johnson...he's not the problem...the bats aren't there...espi, the back fo their baseball cards...they aren't gonna start smashing it around like the texas rangers...if they get morse back and if he hits like last year (2 too many ifs) it would help the rest of the lineup..lombo over espi..yeah, i want to see that

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Read and enjoy

phil dunton said...

Make Eckstein then batboy. Then he can throw away his worthless clipboard!

Anonymous said...

Mark said ...

"all swings and misses, no called third strikes ..."

In the players' defense, when they took pitches that were six inches off the plate earlier in counts the ump called them strikes anyway. This happened twice in the eighth inning alone- once to Bernadina and once to Espinosa. It's hard to take pitches with two strikes after seeing that, although Bernadina was still able to work a five-ball walk.

Not an excuse for their dismal performance, but it needs to be mentioned.

natsfan1a said...

Wait, the Phillies were swept by the Mets at home? And they're, like, 11-15 at home since Sept. of 2011? That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. :-)

Doc said...

It's always the same old story with these Nats' hitters.

Zim says they should have/could have shortened up. OK, but why didn't they?????

Reportedly, Davey doesn't like using squeeze bunts. But Espi can bunt, and the bases were loaded with only 1 out. At least he would have made contact with the ball.

We're only fans, so frustration comes easily. At least Davey's in a positon to do something about it.

Davey, it's time to take names, and kick some #**. Espi K'd with the bases loaded on a 93/mph FB that was in the strike zone. Was he guessing breaking ball, or are his reflexes shot.

fast eddie said...

How do you manage only 5 hits and 11 K's against the entire Pirates' bullpen??
Here's an actual quote from Eck: "When the ball goes into your strength zone and you're not really keyed into that area, the tendency is to miss it."
Espi: "Gee, thanks coach! You just ended my year-long slump!"

When Laroche was walked intentionally the second time, the Pirates' announcer said, "Why wouldn't you walk him when the next two hitters are under .200?"
Espi--gone Nady--gone Eck--gone.

ehay2k said...

Thanks Steve M. I needed that.

Anonymous said...

I predict Lombo is our regular 2B starting tonight. Love Espi, but this has gotten ridiculous.

Drew said...

Danny Espinosa's troubles have lasted for so long that I wonder whether the "batter's eye" that really is causing his trouble is his own. Seriously -- have they checked his eyesight?

Wasn't it Guzman who turned it around once he could finally see the ball?

For now, we've seen a large sample size. Lombo needs to play while Danny gets fixed, whether that's through hacks at Syracuse or a trip to the eye doctor.

hiramhover said...

This is an aptly titled post, Mark. You cite the SO rates--also revealing is the contact rate for the team and individual players.

The Nats have the lowest contact rate in MLB

Team avg - 77.3%
MLB avg - 80%

Team leaders among position players are Lombo at 93.1% (no surprise), Chad Tracy, at 83.1% (surprise!), and Harper, at 81.9% (oughta be a surprise for a 19 yo, but isn't).

Team worst among position players with more than 10 ABs are ... no surprise, Espi at 70.5% and Ankiel at 70.4%.

Too bad for the Nats that their two worst guys came up one after the other with bases loaded and 1 out.

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

That settles it. He has been coaching Espi for almost, two years, Design 3, and Ankiel since before he came to DC. If you want a Porter boy for ineffective teaching, Rick is it.

You cannot read that article and not think, "Wow, he is cluless as to his own ineptitude."

You also cannot read your previous paragraph there and not think, "Wow, he is cluless as to his own ineptitude."

Theophilus T. S. said...

Need a team LASIK surgeon.

NatsLady said...

ATL off tonight, so they can't lose again and keep us in first place. Our boys need to step up.

(BTW, don't look now, but after their sweep, Mets creeping along also, and the Fish had an 8-1 road trip. Not an easy division.)

Read that about Cholly. Interesting that Cliff Lee is on a pitch count/innings limit. Wonder how long it will last.

hiramhover said...

Need a team LASIK surgeon

Or at least a visit to whoever fitted Harper for his new contacts last year when he was at Hagerstown. Wonder if he gives volume discounts?

ehay2k said...

I forget where I heard or read it (Mid-Atlantic Sports Report seems to be the source stuck in my head) but Espi did have an eye-exam.

He needs time off. Away from the stress of having to produce every day, and away from Rick. He has been exposed to both non-stop, and clearly neither is helping.

I will throw Rick a bone here - he does seem to be a help to Mike Morse. (Although there is probably an equal chance that without Rick, Morse would hit .375 with 50 homers.) Well, Morse gives him credit, so that is good enough for me. So, can Rizzo make him Morse's swing coach and get a new one for everyone else?

The drumbeat has started - first here, then Ray last night, Zimm with comments about a 2-strike approach, then Davey. My guess is that we will see some changes coming.

MicheleS said...

Crediting Federal Baseball's twitter account here: Rizzo's comments on Eck

#Nats' GM Mike Rizzo on Rick Eckstein to @1067thefandc's @holderadio and @funnydanny: Rizzo: “If I wasn’t satisfied, he wouldn’t be here. I’m definitely satisfied. Again, you said it, and you kind of glossed over it. When your 3-4-5 hitters are not in the lineup, we haven’t put our full team on the field one time, one game this season. Does it affect your lineup negatively? It certainly does. Take the three and four hitters out of the Dodgers’ lineup, take the 3-4-5 hitters out of the Cardinals’ lineup and you’ll probably have similar results.”

ehay2k said...

Yes Ann Ominous, my phone typing is inept. Thanks for taking the time to point that out. I'm sure everyone on this blog appreciated your assistance.

Typos aside, my point is valid.

NatsLady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
natsfan1a said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
natsfan1a said...

Okay, let's try that one again (new and improved comment, with editing):

Coincidentally, the Phillies need to overhaul their coaching staff, fire Manuel (who evidently has lost his tactical talents since last season), get some different players, and, oh, yeah, find a new GM. I think that about sums it up, but for details, read the comments here.

alexva said...

Good coaches get fired all the time so Eckstein may be the next one. One thing you can't coach is pitch recognition and if you don't have it you are going to struggle.

I'm afraid that Espinosa is beyond the point of recovery and Lombo will be in the lineup no later than the return to Nats Park next week. That also gets Harper back in the 5-6 spot were he belongs.

A DC Wonk said...

> Espi--gone Nady--gone

Ironic -- you just named half of the guys that got hits last night. And Espi scored 1/2 of the runs, Nady got 1/2 of the RBI's.

Just sayin' . . .

Baseball's a funny game sometimes.

mick said...

This is a bad series, Nats should not be losing 2 games to a team that their own fans do not come out and support. I think HRod's disaster is going to springboard another frustrating season if changes are not made now. Eckstein MUST GO, if anything it show the players the management means business. Espi has to be sent down now, Bernadina and Nady should be dealt to any team foolish enough to take them

AndesAngle said...

Isn't it time to start looking at the hitting coach? What responsibility does he have for the consistently poor hitting?

mick said...

there is NO defense in retaining Eckstein, he is one of the worst coaches at this level in the past 40 years of MLB

mick said...

I don't know how Mike Rizzo or the Lerners could be happy with EckStein

mick said...

"by May 10th, Richmond had fell, its a time I remember oh so well" remembering Levon Helm today, lol

fast eddie said...

DC Wonk:
Even a .180 gets 18 hits every 100 ABs. So, I guess Espi and Nady were spraying champagne in the clubhouse after their "big" night.

sjm308 said...

I am getting all kinds of unwanted grief from my former athletes in Western Pa.

Alexva is correct, good coaches do get fired and most coaches understand that its the nature of their job. Not many leave on their own terms.

That being said, they had better have a replacement ready to hit the ground running and not just fire Eckstein for the sake of firing. I am not defending him, our approach has not been good by the young players (Lombo & Harper excluded) and you can't fire players. You can sit Espinosa and I am wondering why that is not taking place.

Who would take over as hitting coach if Eck is let go?

Hoping to be in First place after tonight!!

Go Nats!

mick said...

sjm308... anyone would be better. BTW: you were an excellent coach at Chevy Chase, you won more than lost and your swimmers improved. In Eckstein's case his hitters are regressing

DJB said...

It's not Eckstein or the approach at plate but a simple lack of talent. The Nats have relied on pitching talent, and have not invested in run support. Without some semblance of run support, the pitching is wasted. We needed to trade for a proven hitter. A lifetime .280 hitter is going to revert to the mean. Stop loading up on pitchers and get some hitting. Go get Fielder when you had the chance. Get Pujols when he's available. Get Hamilton. Without that kind of emphasis on proven players while at the same time developing prospects, you're going to be a .500 team.

NatsLady said...

Wow, talk about a rough no-decision:

The Brewers lost by a score of 2-1 today, with all runs coming in the ninth inning.
–It’s the first time the Brewers have lost a Greinke start in Miller Park.
—-Greinke’s line? Eight IP, two hits, no runs, no walks, 11 strike outs.

Unknown said...

Im not sure the problem is the hitting coach. The manager has aresponsibility to put guys in the position to succeeed and reward those who produce. Has espi produced. NO. has Nady produced? NO. has bernadina produced NO. Ankiel -- except for a hot stretch last weekend NO. Its time to send Espi to the bench. Give Dozzi some starts at 2bd and in the 2 hole where he has been an effective table setter. Elevate Ramos out of the 8 hole. Give Moore some regualr at bats and stick Ankiel in the 8 hole. Leave Bernadina and Nady on the Bench and reward production.

1-desmond, 2- dozzi 3- Harper 4 - zimm- 5 laroche 6 Ramos 7 Moore 8 Ankiel.

mick said...


I disagree and Eckstein is responsible for each hitters approach at the plate, also, the hitters are getting worse not better at a time when the hitting begins to catch up with the pitching. So I think you should consider that.

mick said...


I agree in some areas about teh talent when it comes to Nady, Bernadina and Carroll (when he was here) where would Fiekder have played, honestly? This team has the offense at the plate, it is poorly coached

jcj5y said...

I'm afraid that there really are no instant solutions for the offense. Lombo would probably be an upgrade over Espinosa at second, at least in the short term. Other than that, there just aren't real solutions.

The team's two best hitting outfielders are out, and they're going to be out for a while. You can put some combination of Ankiel, Bernadina, Nady and Moore out there, but none of them is going to be above replacement level at the plate, I don't care who the coaches are. You could bring up Corey Brown and Teahan, and get the same results. They're just going to have to keep at it, and hope the hits fall in more often than not.

sjm308 said...

Mick - might have been ok with the summer stuff but the University of Maryland didn't think so highly of my work. Things work for the best though. Had 25 great years of college athletics followed by 15 in special ed. Now I just sit and read baseball blogs. Off to the gym!!

Go Nats!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

ehay2k said...
Thanks Steve M. I needed that.

May 10, 2012 9:09 AM

Yep, when you lose back to back games to the Mets and you throw Halladay and Cliff Lee, you expect to win.

Danny Espinosa unfortunately is the "current" punching bag here and I don't blame him much. His first job when he stepped to the plate should have been to toe up to the chalk as close as he could get to the plate and do what Bernadina did. Take that 1st pitch. Instead, Espinosa swung and miss. The pitcher then threw the identical pitch and Danny laid off. Should have been 2-0 instead of 1-1. Big difference. Coaching has to play into this. WHY WASN'T THE TAKE SIGN ON?

We have had this discussion numerous times over the past few years.

Dave said...

@1a 8:08AM, yes, I'm Dave the teacher. Only now able to reply because I was in class.

Theophilus T. S. said...

Agree that this team has the offensive talent -- just the wrong kind. A bunch of swing-and-miss, all-or-nothing guys. Some teams can thrive on the three-run HR every four-five innings. However, to do that, you need the B. Robbies, Bumbrys, Blairs, Singletons, Griches who hit consistently in all situations. I don't see a single one of the Nats' regulars who does that. Even Zimmerman is a (relatively) high SO guy (roughly 100 per year).

The lack of patience is just mind-numbing. Worse, I think -- among the regulars -- only Desmond and, maybe, Zimmerman have the potential to be that kind of hitter. Morse, Harper, LaRoche may be true power hitters but there are going to be lot of solo HRs and not a lot of three-run dingers.

Getting rid of Eckstein might help some hitters (e.g., Desmond, Espinosa) but they really need to tweak their notion of what kind of hitters they want in the lineup. Ain't gonna happen this year.

JD said...

Something that wasn't brought up here. In the 3rd inning when the Pirates scored 3 runs Det struck out the pitcher but Ramos missed the ball (recurring theme); if he blocks the ball the Pirates have 2 outs and no one on and are likely not to score any runs. The umpire saved Ramos another 'wild pitch' by blocking a ball he missed. Ramos receiving is definitely an issue; he is really struggling.

Desmond's brain fart directly caused us a run; that's really shocking at this level.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

The reason they swing and miss alot is they swing at a lot of pitches that are not strikes. Espi and Ankiel are the two worse at swinging at pitches not in the strike zone.

Gonat said...

Steve, Espinosa has to take part of the blame if not most of the blame. The final pitch he struck out on was a center cut 93mph fastball that he swung through. It was a Grand Slam in the making.

Could the Coaches have helped him by saying don't swing at anything until you get a called strike? Yes. As expected he swung and missed badly at the first pitch.

fast eddie said...

You'd think any hitter could improve by watching tape of himself.
If you continually swing and miss high fastballs (Ankiel) or breaking balls in the dirt (Espi, Nady), you would learn by seeing yourself over and over.
Plus, studying pitcher tendencies, their "out" pitch, % fastballs, etc.
Maybe the hitting coach can spot a flaw, but it seems like self-analysis is the best way out of a slump.
Is that too simplistic??

rogieshan said...

Johnson needs to think less like a guru and more about managing pragmatically. Overselling the duo of Desmond & Espinosa like they're the next Trammell & Whittaker is starting to cloud his judgement.

Forget about the legacy, Davey.

It's easy to forget that, if not for a bad hop, Johnson would be a footnote as a manager under the legend of John McNamara.

A DC Wonk said...

fast eddie said...

DC Wonk:
Even a .180 gets 18 hits every 100 ABs.

Just pointing out the irony that the criticism is directly against the two of the few guys who actually did produce last night.

Maybe the hitting coach can spot a flaw, but it seems like self-analysis is the best way out of a slump.

Let's take Ankiel. Everybody and their brother must know that he's susceptible to high fastballs. I know it. You know it. Ankiel knows it. Eck knows it. NL pitchers know it.

So -- here's the question: what can anyone do about it? This isn't Eck's fault -- it's Ankiel's fault, right?

Scott from Burke said...

It's Rizzo's fault for not having a better CFer to take his place

Scott from Burke said...

It's easy to forget that, if not for a bad hop, Johnson would be a footnote as a manager under the legend of John McNamara.

you are referring tot he ball that 'got through buckner'

the game was already tied

Dave said...

@1a 8:08AM, yes, I'm Dave the teacher. Only now able to reply because I was in class.

Incidentally, I tried posting this from my iPhone this morning, but it doesn't show up on my networked desktop machine.

natsfan1a said...

Thanks for clarifying, SZA Dave. :-)

DJB said...

I know this is about hitting, but I'm also concerned about the bullpen. Rodriguez can't seem to pitch road games. I think he's blown the last two saves on the road. "Country fastball" doesn't work in the big leagues if the batter knows what's coming. Cramming curves into the dirt for passed balls is simply unacceptable for major league closers in tight games. I would consider leaving the middle reliever in to finish on road trips. Rodriguez is clearly psyched out away from home.

Ken said...

The umpiring should take the brunt of the blame. the officiating has been horrendous so far this season. The strike zones have been so widened, that batters are left with little choice but to swing at pitches that should and would normally be balls.

Teams need to take a stand against the terrible umpiring job that's being done. Worst, it's not just the younger umpires making the bad calls and widening the strike zone, it's the veterans as well. If I was an umpire, I would be ashamed to show my face in public.

As for Espinosa, he's not been hitting since the middle of last season. I think it's time that Johnson and the Nats show some guts and give Lombardozzi a shot at second base. If he plays and hits well enough to keep the job, good for him. It's too bad Espinosa cant hit righties or lefties better than the other, because if he could, platooning him might help the team win more often, but he sucks from both sides of the plate.

TheManBearPig said...

It's not the umpire's fault when a batter swings at a first pitch slider at his ankles. Yeah, shorten up with two strikes, but don't make it easy for the pitcher by expanding the strike zone before the pitcher has actually thrown a strike.

Theo, it's not Eckstein's fault. The offense has been underperforming because of the injuries and the Nats' persistence in continuing the Espinosa switch hitting experiment. Now that Zim and LaRoche are back, things should improve and they'll get better when Morse returns. Even at full strength, the Nats' offense is probably only middle of the pack among NL teams. Nothing Eckstein or any other hitting coach does will change that.

natsfan1a said...

Wait. This headline is evocative of that Holiday Inn commercial, when the creepy guy in the bar is trying to get Joe Buck to say "swing and a miss." LOL. That is all.

NatsFanJim said...

phew! I concluded that Davey was an "idiot" a couple of days ago on this forum and said so on these pages. I expected to be attacked for ripping St. Davey the Perfect. Glad to see I'm not alone in being unhappy with Davey, Espi, Ramos, and Desi (in that order).
I guess I'm not crazy afterall.

What does Rizzo do with a failing Davey Johnson no longer able to cut it. This is going to be awkward.

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