Nationals Baseball: Pouring

Thursday, May 16, 2013


There are no good options. I don't just mean for Espinosa here, I mean in general. I know you all think that Espinosa is the worst thing since bread wasn't sliced (which is silly, because except for processed sandwich bread what bread do you actually prefer to come sliced? Are you the reason all the crusty fresh-baked loaves in my grocery store are 95% sliced? If so I hate you.) but there are three batters hitting worse than he is (.502) in May by OPS. The three? Roger Bernadina (.452), Steve Lombardozzi (.441), and Tyler Moore (.315). In the matter of one offseason the bench went from "secret weapon" to "black pit of despair" in no time flat. Whenever anyone has gone down they've been replaced by a terrible offensive player.

I'm not surprised this happened to Tyler Moore, but Lombo is a little surprise and Bernie's is a a flat out shock to me. He didn't just regress from his best year, he free falled.  The knee-jerk reaction is to say "small sample size" and maybe this is just a fluke.  Ok, let's see then, how much is this BABIP? Given their average BABIPs (I used .300 for Moore and Lombo, .290 for Bernie (and Espinosa for the hell of it)) they would be hitting this: Lombo .271, Espinosa .234, Moore .179, Bernie .178. Without looking any further that would explain why Espy isn't at his usual "just decent enough average not to turn fans against him" and Lombo isn't at his "deceptively high enough average to make fans want to see him play everyday even though all of those hits are singles". But it doesn't help Moore and Bernie much.  Why? As we explained earlier with Moore - too few balls in play. Too many Ks.  Moore is striking out an alarming 44% of the time, but Bernie is up there, too, near 35%.

And this tells us something important about strikeouts.  Everyone hates the fact Danny Espinosa strikes out so much (around 25% of the time right now) But it's at those rates getting around 30% and higher that you need to worry about K's. Adam LaRoche is heating up in May with his hitting streak and a .356 average in the month. He's still striking out 26% of the time this month.  Desmond and Zimm have been the best non-Bryce hitters on the team this year and they've both struck out nearly as often as Danny. It's not the Ks.

What is it with Danny?  Right now it looks like an inability to drive the ball. LD-rate at 9.8% which is significantly lower than the past couple years (16.1% and 18.9%) . Same with HR/FB rate, 8.1% after years of 13.5% and 12.6%.  It could be just small sample size. Maybe. Patience is wearing thin but I'll keep saying I think we should wait until Memorial Day. You can have a bad month. You CAN have two but at that point you may need to make a decision, which would almost certainly be a DL decision, because if you have a third then half the year is gone.

So who replaces him? Minor leaguers? Sure there are guys hitting ok Rhymes & Kobernus come to mind but neither is someone you feel good enough about to pull Espinosa right now. (and no one fields like Espinosa).  Rendon? He's a 3rd baseman to this franchise. He's played only 4 times at 2nd in the minors this year.

And speaking of having no good options, Detwiler and Ramos went down. You'll probably see Solano for Ramos. He is hitting .167 / .196 / .204.  Why him if he's hitting that bad? Because the other AAA catcher is Maldonado and he's .098 / .159 / .098. Sandy Leon? He's hitting this year like he hit in every year that wasn't 2012 (poorly).  As for Detwiler the Nats don't have a real prospect pitching well above High-A right now. Daniel Rosenbaum is doing ok, but he's a paradox.  He's not good enough that you expect him to stick (the Rockies had him as a Rule V this year and tossed him back) but he hasn't started his clock yet so you hate to do that just for a spot start. Look instead for one of the terrible veteran AAA arms (Young, Maya, Perry and Ohlendorf) to step in.

1-2 vs the Dodgers isn't bad. But they really need a strong showing vs the Padres with the Giants waiting at the end of the road.


Booyah Suckah! said...

What about Stammen as a stop-gap if Detwiler has to miss time? He's already a long reliever anyway, and correct me if I'm wrong, but he used to be a starter I think. His stuff has been very good lately, his K-rate is pretty decent (I haven't looked it up, but I'm guessing based on the times I've seen him pitch this year), and as for intangibles, he seems pretty unflappable. He's almost always the guy that gets brought in when someone else vomits baserunners all over the place. Might as well let him start for a few weeks while Det heals up, unless there's something I'm not seeing (besides the fact that it would be taking a very reliable arm out of the bullpen).

Harper said...

BS - Stammen. I like that idea. The problem is you don't ask him to go more than say 5IP / 80 pitches and then you have to use the pen which doesn't include him now. But if you think you can roll with Stammen / Duke for 8-9.... maybe that's for the best.

Zimmerman11 said...

Craig has no "Stammen"a ... he was usually good through 4-5 innings and then would fall apart later, is my recollection. Bring up Chris Young if we need a couple of starts... let's hope Ross' back issues don't land him on the DL.

Harper, how are we doing against the rest of MLB with days lost to DL? Seems like everyone is hurt or has been, and who is our strength/conditioning coach and should he be fired for incompetence RE: I got 99 hamstring pulls, and we ain't scorin' runs.

DCNatty said...

the offense is brutal to watch. how are we only 1 game back? silver lining. haha.

Everyone hates Espinosa cause he looks lost at the plate. bunting with 2 outs and a man on second? give me a break...i woulda yanked him right on the spot for that move.

Lets just hope the pitching keeps it up, and the return of Werth and Harper help. It can NOT get worse for the offense. again...silver lining. impossible to be worse...or so i hope

Harper said...

z11 - From what I can gather Nats are in top half but not near top itself. Basically 5 of the 8 positions players have missed only a couple of games and the other two (Werth and Zimm) have missed about a dozen. Ramos' injury is the biggest one of the season, but as a platoon guy it's not as impactful.

Of course this doesn't count playing hurt.

DCNatty - When Werth and Bryce are both back in the lineup and healthy it's gotta be better but remember. In each of their last 13 games here are those guys lines :

Bryce : .135 /.283 / .243
Werth .200 / .280 / 289

Miles Treacy said...

I was at the game last night, being a VA guy living in LA at the moment, and the worst part was 1st and 3rd no outs and not being able to plate at least a tying run in the 7th. It's not just the offense is bad, but the outs are so hideous to watch. It seemed last year they'd get the clutch hit. This year the Nats are '0' clutch and that includes the pen.

Tyler Moore just needs to go as soon as Werth is back. he's a complete waste of space that doesn't offer anything offensively or defensively.

Espi makes horrible contact or no contact at all. Lombo isn't a great option either.

Berni who I've always liked is just as lost as Danny and Moore at the plate.

Hopefully a 4 game trip to SD will get some confidence back into the bats.

NatsVA said...

The thing that kills me the most is that if we had won all the games the Barves had lost over the past week, we'd be in the NL East drivers seat on this West coast trip. That's baseball I guess.

Also, even though Werth has been pretty bad this season, you can tell that not having him there is a big hole in the clubhouse. He is clearly the veteran leader of that team. And speaking of veterans, was just thinking that it's too bad the Nats are saddled with this huge contract for Zimmerman now. He seems to be regressing quite a bit this season. He's no longer elite (was her ever?) but an average MLB third baseman.

Harper said...

MT - it's not as much not hitting clutch (which they are middling at, but not the worst) it's the terrible combination of not getting on base at all then hitting poorly when they do. Also they hit even worse late in close games (Late & Close are Plate Appearances in the 7th or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.)

A .462 OPS. Next worst team is MIA at .536 then Padres at .624.

Anonymous said...

NatsVA- You could also say the opposite and if the Braves had won while the Nationals lost they would be in trouble. In my opinion, given the schedules until that point the Nationals will need to start playing well to not let a gap open back up before they meet again at the end of the month.

Kenny B. said...

When Bryce is back, he won't be 100%, so don't look for major production from him for a few games. Werth, I think, will help.

Also, I posted this on another thread, but should the Nats be looking for a new long-term solution at catcher? As much as I like him, Ramos is getting to be kind of a mess.

I don't think the Braves will continue to be this bad. Nats missed some huge opportunity, and they're extremely lucky to still be in striking distance on any given night.

They need something to jump start the bats. I don't know what does that, but as a fan you feel like there should be something that can be done. Like, not necessarily replacing guys, but some change in approach that gets people making better contact.

Froggy said...

Two things jump out at me (but this doesn't mean they are relevant necessarily):
Trainers and Hitting coaches.

There just seems to have been a ridiculous rash of fitness type injuries and it makes me wonder if there was a significant change to the training staff and or core muscle development philosophy. (My ex-wife was a sports PT)

As to the hitting, I know you can't blame a hitting coach but it does beg the question to some degree, no? I mean Danny's swing is still that horrible looping tomahawk chop instead of one like LaRoche or ZMN which has the bat head swinging flatter and in the strikezone longer.

blovy8 said...

So you are perfect at cutting bread for sandwich use, Harper? Now, I wouldn't mind one like Charlie Chaplin eats in Modern Times, but the bread won't last long that way. Plus my GF would holler at me about the crumbs every day.

On top of the other numbers, Espinosa is hitting his flyballs an average of 10 feet shorter this year too. He's just got to swing less at this point. There's not too much reason to throw the guy many strikes, and that will lead to a lot of slop he can't drive. I don't see an adjustment forthcoming, and it could be time for another voice to start preaching it, or a ride on the pine to watch.

I disagree that Rendon is not a good option. He's a disciplined hitter and a good athlete who can learn 2nd. If you're going to baby the guy figuring he's injury-prone, third base isn't much better, or perhaps Zim's injury collection after a durable looking first couple of years of his career isn't enough of a reminder? If he's up it means they need the hitting and can accept the learning curve. Kobernus isn't on the 40 man roster and would be more of a guy to mix with Lombo should they find the shoulder excuse for Espy.

It's not just because he was the only offense last night, but LaRoche should be hitting more homers since he's 11th in HR/flyball distance right now.

blovy8 said...

Suzuki is going to play a lot of games, until he goes down, I'm not so worried about the day game after a night game missing a better bat.

Detwiler might not even a miss a start because it's just tightness, you might line up a reliever like Erik Davis to replace Stammen if you have to DL Det for 15 days. Chris Young is not looking like an option, I guess they could put Rosenbaum on the 40-man, bring him up and drop someone, but that seems less likely.

Anonymous said...

Nats will only lose once for the rest of the road trip, book it!

Froggy said...

I figured out what is up with's his uni!

When he gave up his number to Span he gave up his mojo!

33? What kind of number is that? Bernadina is a single digit guy.

Mythical Monkey said...

Right now it looks like an inability to drive the ball.

Now that sounds like the shoulder injury to me -- or at least it reminds me of the problem LaRoche was having the year he wound up having surgery. He's making about the same contact as usual but there's no starch in it.

But what do I know.