Nationals Baseball: Hey, Haren is good again! So that's good.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hey, Haren is good again! So that's good.

It's Kershaw and it wasn't a bad day so what are you going to do? Since the Nats don't work walks they weren't likely to get to the pen early.  So you cross your fingers, hope to string together a few hits or get a timely XBH and that your pitcher was doing well enough to win.  They got the latter but not the former.

The latter is good news though.  After looking like he was done a month ago, Haren seems better. Mostly his control is back and that's enough to avoid the catastrophes that were taking place to start the season. Two walks in his last 4 games. But also he's not getting hit as hard as before.  Three out of four games with  2 or fewer hits categorized as line drives. He might not be over that hump just yet (the Tigers had 9 such hits which is usually trash fire territory) but he's trending in the right direction.

Any other notes?

While it's unfair to judge any hitter after facing Kershaw. Tyler Moore went 0-fer again. He's currently 4th worst in WAR in fangraphs and while it's real unfair to judge something like that now, there are a couple things to note. 
  • Usually if you are getting screwed with WAR it's because they hate your fielding too much. 40 games of fielding information is like a couple weeks of hitting at best. Way too variable to be certain of. While they don't like Moore's fielding its not driving this bus.
  • WAR is a playing time dependent stat so the other guys that are up there are mostly every day players. The fact that Moore can be 4th worst in 1/3rd of the at bats of these guys is pretty depressive (that's the opposite of impressive, right?)
Couldn't figure a Haren win over Kershaw but still I wanted a 2-1 series win so the Nats  need one tonight. Can Detwiler outduel Strasburg West?  Normally I wouldn't like the Nats chances but coming off the DL we have no idea what kind of Greinke we'll see.


Donald said...

Gotta figure that Grienke won't go deep regardless of how he's pitching, which is good.

Carl said...

I'm a big Tyler Moore fan, but seriously, he's not getting it done right now. Send him down when Werth comes off the DL, let him play every day, see if he can figure things out again.

Anonymous said...

My non-Harper nats sources are all aflutter over Espinosa. Harper, you strike me as someone who does follow the farm too closely, what with the kid and the job and all. But do you have a farm- (or non-farm) based solution for 2B? And if others do follow the farm, has Rendon been getting time at 2B since the demotion?

Anonymous said...

CORRECTION: does not follow ...

Froggy said...

For me, this is the opinion make-or-break road trip for Tyler Moore. He either steps way up or it's time to go someplace and work on hitting. I don't want to piledrive the guy, but is he just swinging at bad pitches or swinging and good ones and missing?

Weren't we just talking about Bryce and running into fences? I think those neon light illuminated scoreboard fences disrupt your depth perception and have got to go.

Anyway, now with Harper sitting for a game or two and Werth out until San Diego, and Moore...well...being Moore, it sure would be nice to have a Mike Morse type of guy to fill in eh? Who BTW went 3-5 last night.


Harper said...

Donald - I'd feel better about that if the Dodger pen wasn't good and now rested.

Carl - there is no reason to have someone on the team that helps them in no way. If he's not hitting and it doesn't look like it's a mere slump (which come-on a 43% K rate???) he gives the team nothing.

Anon - well one thing is that Danny has only a ~.200 BABIP. The average will go up. But he is hitting worse overall. I've said it before and I'll say it again until I'm blue in the face : I think the Nats aggressive approach to hitting is exactly wrong for Danny Espinosa. I think he needs to be a very patient hitter. So I don't know if the answer will ever be found under this regime.

Short term though - Rendon has started twice at 2B (in 11 games) since being sent down. Personally I would of course wait until Memorial Day, then assuming he hasn't gotten hot DL Danny (get that surgery) bring up Wil Rhymes for a couple of probably bad weeks, elevate Rendon to AAA and let him play 2B full time there. As long as his bat stays hot bring him up maybe after the All-Star break.

Kenny B. said...

As someone who doesn't get MASN, but follows a lot of games on radio and the MLB At Bat app, it looks to me like Moore is swinging at total junk (though I haven't seen the last couple of games because they go past my bedtime). Definitely in Pirates and Cubs series, he was swinging at bad pitches.

I'm very interested to see how Greinke does tonight. I don't care for him, personally, basically because I heard he specifically did not want to come to Washington. So I really hope we crush him.

Also, I think Detwiler's due for a gem. I say whoever wins, this one will be low-scoring.

Swoods said...

Re: Moore: it is the fielding. He hasn't played enough to accumulate sufficient negative batting runs to be that worthless and the fielding component of fWAR isn't regressed. He's 38th worst in batting runs for all players which is miserable considering how little he's played:

Which, you know, doesn't change anything, just a nit.

Harper said...

Froggy - Technically you're right but it wasn't an option on the table for anyone. It's a fantasy GM argument. Morse wasn't going to be a bench player here. He didn't want to play it, the Nats didn't want to pay it. In reality it was always Morse or LaRoche. (which I'm happy to argue about but the Nats would still be having terrible OF fill-ins right now).

Illuminated fences I'm fine with - fences that can cut you if you run into them? That's not necessary.

Harper said...

KB - that is true but he also swings at a lot of not junk. No one in baseball (with 50 PAs or more) has swung at more pitches than Moore. At teh same time only about 20 (out of 332) have made contact less. He's not getting fooled by a lot more off-speed. He's just not major league capable.

Swoods - well given the # of ABs I expected to see a huge Kemp like fielding issue to be driving this. Given his fielding numbers last year we can't be surprised with where he's at now. So I guess what I'm saying is that his WAR issues isn't being driven by surprisingly bad defense. Its a combo of expectedly bad D and surprisinly bad O.

Froggy said...

Harper- You are right I know. I just wonder what harm it would have been to keep Morse until mid season trading deadline since his contract would have allowed it. Maybe it would have been too much of a distraction overall.

As to the fences, I like plain, old green ones that have padding or ivy on them. Chain link with light bulbs, not so much.

Kenny B. said...

I see. He's swinging at everything, and I'm just noticing the bad ones more.

Either way, he sucks. How long do you think before he's gone?

Harper said...

KB - Werth call-up.

Donald said...

I don't think Danny is going to be replaced anytime soon, but if they had to make a switch today, I think it would be for Jeff Kobernus, who's playing 2B in Syracuse and doing well.

As for the Werth call-up, if they send Moore down, it means keeping Perez who hasn't exactly been lighting things up and seems to fill the same role as Bernadina.

I think they stick with Moore and Espinosa through Memorial day while watching Kobernus and Rendon. Moore then goes down for one of those two. Tracy might last until the all-star break.

Froggy said...

Harper- what about the trade / FA market? You see anything Rizzo would pursue?

Booyah Suckah! said...

I know no one wants to hear this, but I would be willing to bet just about anything that barring injury, Espinosa isn't going anywhere at any point this season. His fielding is far too good. If all he does is slowly come back to his career average offensive numbers, he's still one of the best 2B out there when you combine that with his defense. Unless his shoulder gets remarkably worse, he's staying. Period.

Booyah Suckah! said...

It struck me last night seeing the line-up that for one of the few times in the last 12 months, the Nats were finally fielding the exact infield that had always been intended (Zim, Desi, Espy, LaRoche, Ramos) and the outfield ended up being a murderer's row of nobodies (no offense Lombo, I like you, but come on). I wonder if Span was given the night off because Davey already knew that game was lost before it began with those bats up against Kershaw. Not that Span necessarily would've turned the tide, but if the guy is due for a night off, might as well do it now rather than a game in SD of SF where an extra hit or two might change the whole game.

Zimmerman11 said...

Hey, at least ATL is stinking it up, too :)

Though, the longer we hover around .500, the less likely a WC spot becomes for ATL or WASH. At some point it's win the NL East or bust.

I like our bats to improve as the weather warms up (if it warms up?) and for Stras' results to get in line with his performance... but Memorial Day isn't too far away.

DezoPenguin said...

Maybe Grienke can beanball Moore, Moore can charge the mound and knock Grienke back on the injury list so we can beat up on their bullpen and win, and MLB can suspend Moore for a month or so. Everybody wins!

Miles Treacy said...

i was really hoping for a desmond-esque year at the plate for danny where he finally figures things out. him and moore are awful to watch at the plate. a guaranteed out without advancing or plating any runners almost every time. bring down one and i'd trade out rendon for danny at this point. even as a rookie rendon looked so much more comfortable towards the end of his brief stint than danny did. danny is one of the best fielding second basemen, so there's something to not forget.

Rick said...

@Kenny B. Grienke never flat out refused to come to DC because it was DC. He nixed the trade from the royals because the nats would have had to give up too much to get him. He saw what the nats had done to improve their system and knew that the trade would kill the nats if it went through.

"It was never publicly made known what the Nationals would have given the Royals for the right-hander, but some reports indicated that the package included Drew Storen, Danny Espinosa, AND Jordan Zimmermann."

"'The Nationals are trying to build a winner,' Greinke said, 'and if I’m going to go there, I didn’t really want them to trade away the players they were going to build around. That hurts their team.'" -Greinke quote from

TL;DR Don't hate Greinke; he knowingly helped the nats by blocking that trade w/ the royals

Sirc said...

I've spent 2 years defending Danny Espinosa. It wasn't so much that I *love* Danny so much as the options to Danny have been more than a tick below him, as options go. So I've steadfastly supported Danny. And I still think that, if the normal guys were all there, Danny's hitting issues aren't a gaping wound. He's a + defender at a premium defensive position and they don't yet have another one of those in the organization.

But with the injuries, Danny's bat issues are a gaping wound. Plus he's almost completely stopped taking walks for some reason. Lombo isn't the answer; he is an O.K. bench guy and a short term injury fill-in at best (and I don't believe he's that, either).

I didn't support it before, but things change. Call someone up to take over 2nd. NOT LOMBO.

Anyone else but Lombo. Is there anyone? I mean a real 2nd baseman, not a Rendon experiment. The pitching is coming around. There can't be a 3rd defensive question mark in the infield. There much be a real 2nd baseman in the organization who can, I don't know, TAKE A FREAKING WALK every now and then.

6 this season! 6 walks out of that position.

Donald said...

@Sirc -- Jeff Kobernus is a 2B at Syracuse batting .347. He was taken from us by the Tigers in last year's rule 5 draft and was returned in March. He's apparently pretty good -- almost good enough to stick on the Tiger's 25 man roster. Can't remember where I read it, but he's supposed to have a good make-up -- very smart and very competitive.

Sirc said...

"@Sirc -- Jeff Kobernus is a 2B at Syracuse batting .347. He was taken from us by the Tigers in last year's rule 5 draft and was returned in March. He's apparently pretty good -- almost good enough to stick on the Tiger's 25 man roster. Can't remember where I read it, but he's supposed to have a good make-up -- very smart and very competitive."

He was actually taken by the Red Sox and then traded to the Tigers. And they were trying him in the outfield. The book on Jeff Kobernus so far is that he might be a utilityman someday, but isn't strong enough defensively in any position to be a full-timer.

I worry most about a drop-off defensively.

At this point I believe that the Nats should go into Turtle mode: Fill the lineup with defensive players and try to win 3-2 everyday. At least until they get all of their toys back in the box. Last night they fielded 2 average infielders in the *outfield*. Not that it matters a while lot against Kershaw, but it still happened.

Under that scenario, Danny is the second baseman, because he is the best defensive player.

Also Rendon would be the third baseman.


BenDen said...

My thoughts on a few different posts so far:

@Sirc - the difference between Lombo and Espinosa in defensive metrics does not make up the different in their offense. Even if Lombo is ONLY singles and walks, those push him past Espinosa's value (or lack thereof). While I agree with you that Lombo is not a proper long term solution for the position, the correct statement at this point should be "Anyone but Danny" not "Anyone but Lombo"

Also neglected in this post (although I've expressed my frustrations in earlier threads) is the fact that Davey batted him FIRST!!! All of us agree that at best he's a + defender and an offensive liability. Those guys hit 7th & 8th. NOT leadoff. The mismanagement is horrifying.

On Tyler Moore - readily apparent that as Harper put it he's not major-league ready. Had some success last year blasting fastballs on pitchers who had never heard his name. Now he's flailing at any crap they throw him. The sooner he goes down the better, correctly identified as when Werth is ready. So it's all but decided I think

Froggy said...

Question: What does a hitting coach coach when everyone is not hitting?

Eckstein: Tyler

TM: Yes coach?

Eck: You're swinging at bad pitches and good ones and missing all of them.

TM: Ah, so that's it. What should I change?

Eck: Stop missing the good ones and don't swing at the bad ones.

TM: That must be why you get paid the big bucks eh coach?

Ben said...

Geez, so much depression around here, 1 game out of first and barely hitting better than the Marlins (clearly this will change)! Positivity people!

Also, wouldn't it be funny if firing Riggleman simultaneously launched Desmond's career (you know, by not making him slap everything) and sunk Danny's (Harper's too aggressive theory). I am casting my totally important vote for manager next year for the Riggle just because I wanna see this experiment go full circle ... and I wanna see him do interviews beside Rizzo.

P.S. When will the Lombo lovers wake up and smell the emtpy (not very high) average?

Froggy said...

My previous comments aside, I really like Tyler Moore as a player and do hope he can get someplace to work things out. Maybe we can get Tony Gwynn to work on his swing.

Booyah Suckah! said...

I love the "empty average" argument. I'm no Lombok apologist, believe me. This has nothing to do with him. But the empty average argument only works when you're comparing it so someone producing at all. Like say, .240 with a .750 OPS compared to a .280 with a .620 OPS. But that isn't the Espy we have this year. We have a guy hitting .175 and .531. Lombo's OPS is actually better than Danny's right now. Saying Espy is better because of his power only makes sense when he somehow manages to put his bat in contact with the ball, which he isn't doing.

All that being said, however, I still think Espy is the better choice based on defense alone, and I think his bat will come back to career levels, which should be more than enough.

Ben said...

Empty average argument doesn't work because you should only compare 1.5 months of stats and ignore the previous 5 years of data telling you Danny is a much better offensive player?

The argument is over who should be at 2nd base going forward, not who had the better 2013 April/May ... which you seem to agree is Danny ... so that must mean you were being sarcastic about your sarcasm ... which means you do actually love the empty average argument! Well done.

Booyah Suckah! said...

Haha. No, my sarcasm was very real. I think "empty average" is a great argument when people are using it right. But it's a little hard to justify when one average is "empty" (Lombo) and one is completely non-existent (Danny).

But yes, I think Danny is the better option moving forward, compared to Lombo or anyone else. Even if Lombo was better offensively (which he isn't), Danny's defense and baserunning far outweigh the difference. The only reason it's a glaring hole right now is that no one else is hitting. With Bryce and Werth back in and Zim and ALR creeping back up into decent numbers, no one would be nearly as worried about whether Espy's hitting or not.

Kenny B. said...

So now we may get Bryce back, but Det and Ramos are down, Ramos likely for yet another stay on the DL. I get that Ramos is a catcher and that these things happen, but how many more long-term injuries before we look for another long-term answer at catcher?

And what's up with all these hamstring issues? Is this muscle a blind spot for the training staff or something? Or is it just coincidence that everyone keeps injuring the same muscle?