I'll admit I'm a bit worried about the Nats. Not that they won't make the playoffs or anything like that, but there's a little too much "let's try to recreate last year's magic" going on. Let's sign a veteran arm to a one-year deal. Let's call up our vaunted rookie at the first opportunity. Let's assume guys like Moore, Tracy, Lombo and Bernie will again excel as subs and PHs.
The Nats didn't exactly rest on their laurels. They brought in Span and Soriano. But Span is mostly a defensive improvement and "bring in a big-name closer" is about as classic a bad move a team can make (not that it won't help, just that it won't help a lot). The Nats chose to ignore both big names and depth this year, thinking they'd have enough on hand to be just fine. And they do, but they left themselves open to a few bad breaks ruining a season, when they didn't necessarily have to.
Of course I do mean a few. The season is 1/9th complete and the Nats have had very little go right. Bryce Harper, of course. ZNN and Detwiler. The catcher hitting. Ummm... Desmond's offense? Where as the things going wrong are far more numerous. The defense. Zimm's injury. Espy's still not hitting. A terrible bench. Strasburg is a bit off. Gio is really off. Haren is Deep Woods, as in completely scary, off. The bullpen has been at best hit or miss, with Storen and Mattheus being knocked around and no one looking dominant.
And yet the team is still at 10-8. Win tonight and they are on a 94 win pace or basically what we assumed they'd be, give or take a couple of games. There are no worries. Not yet.
Ok that isn't actually true. The thing to worry about is catching the Braves but hey, they got swept over the weekend so the Nats actually gained a game. So that's a mild worry. Call me back after the 4 game set at month's end.
The Rendon move to me smacks of desperation. Anthony Rendon is no Bryce Harper. True, Rendon was hitting better in the minors than Bryce was when he was called up but here's the things. Rendon was a 23 yr old in AA. Bryce was a 19 year old in AAA. Anthony Rendon is a very nice hitting prospect. Bryce Harper is BRYCE HARPER. Last year when Bryce was brought up the Nats didn't necessarily need to win. They didn't know last season was going to turn out like it did. Expectations were still low. Now? Now they need to win and I'm not sure Rendon is ready to help them. Will he be better than Lombardozzi or Wil Rhymes or Carlos Rivera? Almost certainly. Will he be better in 2013? Don't know.
In the past week Span, Werth, Zimm, and Espy combined for 2 XBH. Only Bryce, LaRoche, and Lombo are hitting over .211. .211!
I'm more worried about Gio than Strasburg. I watch Stras and I see a guy who is right there. A mistake or two from getting the results he wants even without being in the groove. With Gio I see a guy who doesn't have command at all and can come unraveled at the drop of a hat. Still "Wait Until Memorial Day" still applies.
Except for Haren. There's being off like Gio and Stras and then there's being "please don't let me pitch again" bad, which is where Dan Haren is now. He is getting hit hard and he's getting almost nothing on the ground. You know who gets more ground balls than Dan Haren? 172 of 174 other pitchers that have thrown at least 10IP. One more god awful start and you have to think about making something up so he can go on the DL and work things out.