.275 / .345 / .465
.280 / .370 / .520
.220 / .275 / .345
.255 / .325 / .385
The first two numbers are the projections going into the year for Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper. The second two are the projections going into the year for Danny Espinosa and Nate McLouth.
One of the absolute truths in baseball is that you are going to have injuries. You put enough effort into the game, and the season is just so damn long, that it is unavoidable. Nearly every player is going to miss a few games with dings and scrapes. The plan you put in place to replace these guys is what I like to call "Disaster Prep". The actions you have to take when you didn't plan well, or you did but the plan goes awry anyway, is what I like to call "Damage Control".
The Nats didn't plan for a 3B replacement, despite Zimmerman's issues fielding and history of injury. Instead they figured Rendon could slide over and Espinosa could take second. That is not a terrible short term solution and if you remember Espy started red hot. (That can happen. It's part of the reason GMs don't like to disaster prep. The only way you can really see the difference between good and bad prepping is having a player out for a very long time.) But over time Espinosa hit like Espinosa and the loss of Zimmerman's bat has been felt.
The Nats DID plan for a loss in the OF (though I bet if you held their feet to the fire they'd admit that McLouth was first and foremost a struggling Span replacement) by bringing in Nate McLouth. It was a tough job for McLouth, as the bats of Bryce and Werth are almost irreplaceable. However, he should have at least held his own. He hasn't. He is hitting .143 with 4 XBH in over 100 plate appearances.
Bryce is out at least another month. Zimmerman is up in the air. The Nats offense is struggling without them. You could wait for the Nats bats to turn around. Desmond is hitting a lot better, and LaRoche is back right? Ramos has to turn it around eventually. Rendon can't keep struggling like this. Werth can turn it on. It's easy to think like that and see a light at the end of the tunnel. But let's throw some numbers out there. Let's say Desmond hits better (80% chance) and LaRoche's return makes an impact (95%) and Ramos turns it around (75% - I'm being generous for the sake of argument) and Rendon stops struggling (60%) and Werth turns it back on (90%) well then THEN the team can have a potent offense without Bryce or Zimm.
Even being pretty generous you just gave the Nats a 30% chance at a good offense. LaRoche helps, the offense will get better, but without Zimm and Bryce it won't be good for any long period of time.
Unless you think Zimm's return in imminent (and you feel ok about Ramos and Rendon who haven't exactly proven anything yet), It's time for a damage control.
One of the downsides to 'just blogging' is that when you get something right you don't get a million dollar contract extension, a TV spot and national praise. One of the upsides is that you don't have to have all the answers. That's good because I don't have an answer on what the solution to the issue is.
I'll repeat what I said in the comments the other day. The Nats maybe could deal with the Astros, Cubs or Padres right now. What can you get from those guys? Someone you hope to be a little above average in the OF for a month
like Fowler or Parra? Or someone like Prado who you hope wakes up and fills that 3B/1B void that is Frandsen's role now? Or maybe some other "get on the cheap" guy like Alonso or Venable who
should be better? I don't know. I just know that in less that two weeks the Nats will begin a pretty brutal stretch that could easily put them behind the 8-ball for the remainder of the season, just like they were heading into the post All-Star time frame last season.
Rizzo can sit on his hands like last year and hope things work out. So far the season hasn't gotten away from the Nats as they play in the terribly mediocre NL East who's best team wouldn't lead any other division in baseball. So maybe it might. But if he does nothing and things don't work out again, I expect hellfire and brimstone to reign down on him. A GM is supposed to build a winning major league team, not a strong minor league system and a major league team that should win in theory.