Nationals Baseball: Yuk

Thursday, May 22, 2014


The question right now is not one of "Can a healthy Nats team win the pennant".  Everyone thought so last year, everyone thinks so this year, everything we've seen when the Nats are healthy suggests its possible. The question is whether an injured Nats team can hang close enough to the rest of the playoff teams to come back. 

The first test was this time frame between May 12th and May 25th. Over that stretch the Nats would play an easy schedule and the Marlins and Braves would play hard ones. Even an injured Nats team should make up games in this scenario. They have made up one so far. The Nats have gone 5-4, while the Marlins and Braves have both gone 4-5. Disappointing but at least it's something. The next 4 games (Nats @ Pirates, Braves v Rockies, Marlins v Brewers) will end this set of games. The Nats could gain another half-game. If they lose ground though... be worried.

And by be worried, I mean exactly that. Don't panic, but be concerned that when the Nats had a golden chance to make up ground they failed to do so. That hints that when these injured Nats face a tough stretch things could go horribly wrong. In about 2 weeks they'll begin that tough stretch @SF @STL v HOU! vATL @ MIL where it's likely they'll lose ground. Bryce won't be there. What if Zimm isn't? What if Gio isn't? Based on what we've seen so far, they'll probably lose several games in the standings. If it's 4 or 5 games to fall back 6+ games, if the Braves take 3 or more of those head to heads... well then you can panic.

Why is this happening? In Nats Theory 101, the Nats should be able to be carried through stretches by their pitching. That was the idea. Build one of the best pitching staffs, top to bottom, and watch it carry the offense through trying times.

It isn't happening but it's not because the pitching is failing.

For example in the last 8 games the Nats have an ERA of 2.69.  That includes Gio's game. Their record during this time? 4-4. Take out the Gio game and the ERA drops to 2.38. So in 7 of the last 8 games the team has collectively pitched like a Top 15 starter (at this point in the year where ERAs are still a little skewed) and to show for it they have 4 wins and 3 losses.

You might pass that off on the teams they faced. The Reds without Votto and Bruce might be the worst offense in the NL. The D-backs are below average. The Mets are average. But then you have to consider the reverse. The D-backs have the worst pitching staff in the league. The Mets' arms are below average. The Reds better than average but with real relief issues that are still being worked out. How did the offense do?

.232 / .283 / .329

It's a team of Kevin Frandsens.

And that was facing mediocre pitching for the most part. What happens when they face good pitching? You might be fooled by the "5th in Runs Scored" stat, but that's just a quirk of variance. Look at R/G (better than runs for obvious reasons) and they are 6th. They are .17 runs worse then 4th place. They are .17 runs better than 10th. They are closer to 12th place then 3rd.  In other words for the season as a whole - these guys are nothing special.

Is it injuries? Yes, of course. Having Bryce, LaRoche and Zimmerman back in the lineup will help. I'd imagine that lineup would be a "real" Top 5 team. But when exactly will that be? LaRoche might be back Sunday (though Monday makes a lot more sense). Regardless it'll be soon. Bryce looks good, but his early July timetable hasn't changed and Zimm is taking the slow road to recovery. It's one thing to beat the Braves and those Wild Card teams straight up over 162 games. It's another to spot them a 7 game lead and try to do it in 90 games.

Also, at that point the hitting will be better and the pitching will be healthy (one hopes) but there are three aspects of baseball. What about the fielding. It takes a team that would be among the best in the league in runs scored and makes it pretty much average. While some of the numbers look funny (Espy & Rendon especially) what about the returning guys makes you think this is getting better anytime soon? Zimm can be very good, but can easily be awful. LaRoche wasn't great before, with hammy issues he'll be even more of a statue.  Bryce has yet to click and likely McLouth is better out there.

This is a long-winded way of saying - I really hope the Nats make up a few games this weekend. If not, as crazy as it may sound, a deal for a bat might be in order, just to keep the Nats in it for the time being. Unfortunate it has to come to that but it just might.


Anonymous said...

What bat? who is even available? The Nats suck right now(as they are literally missing the middle of their lineup), but what kind of bat is even realistic in this offensive starved league, to play what position?

m j b said...

Is Nate McLouth being paid off by the opposition?

John C. said...

I hear you, Harper, and if they fall more than 3-4 games off the pace over the next couple of weeks I will be very concerned. Not a "kick over the roster, trade everyone in the farm system for new players" panic, but certainly worried.

That said, because we are forced by the calendar to daily follow a sport that unfolds over months it is easy to wrap ourselves up in "OMG [or OHBOY, if you're an optimist, aka, new to DC sports] this COULD BE IT" ... constantly. And then each new game, each "OMG they punted a game in 15 innings and face Cueto tomorrow this could be the start of the collapse" is followed by "OHBOY they shook off losing at 1am and knocked around the best pitcher in the NL what a resilient squad this is!" Lather, rinse, repeat.

Right now the Nats are treading water, but frankly I was worried that the Braves were going to run off and hide again. That really doesn't look likely (Braves fans sites are every bit as gloomy and concerned as Nats fan sites). The schedule looks tougher in June, but who knows? Coming into the season it looked like the Nats were set up for a cakewalk with many series against the Mets and Marlins early. The Nationals took care of those games so their fans don't realize it, but the Mets and Marlins have been pretty good against everyone else. As for upcoming teams, which team gets hurt, which team gets hot, all these are unknowns.

The Nats are 1.5 games out of first, 1.0 games out of the Wild Card, and both those races are likely to go right down to the wire. It's what makes baseball so fun, but my God it's exhausting!

Harper said...

Anon - Ah the harder question. Right now you are limited to what? Cubs, D-Backs, & Astros Maybe Padres? What exactly can you get there? Something you hope to be a little above average in the OF for a month like Fowler or Parra? Trade for someone like Prado in the hopes (1) he wakes up (2) he fills that 3B/1B void that is Frandsen's role now? Same sort of "get on the cheap maybe" for guys like Alonso or Venable who should be better?

There's always throwing a Cole or Giolito at someone not really in it? Or trading from your strength - sending Roark out and hoping someone who needs pitching (Cleveland? Toronto) bites?

None of that is appealing but what's your other option? Sit on your hands and hope? Don't make a move because maybe in two years you'll need that arm you traded? Two years is a long time.

mjb - He's allergic to the NL East

Harper said...

John C - The best and worst part about baseball is that in only MOSTLY matters what you do. Going 7-3 is great... unless the team you are chasing goes 10-0. Right now the Nats have been saved by some Braves slumps but it's hard to see where, before the All-Star break (and presumed full health) the Nats will make up more ground. Sure anything can happen and Nats could close ground, but it can happen the other way and the other way seems more likely.

I guess you could say right now I'm worried Nats fans are going to have to panic. Another game closer to the Braves would help with that.

cass said...

I think it's time to start following Hagerstown (home of the hardest throwing rotation in professional baseball) instead of Washington.

Okay, not really, but this underperforming thing is getting real old. We haven't really ever felt good about how the team's doing since the 8th inning of Game 5. It's the Kozma Kurse.

JWLumley said...

The other thing is that even once they're healthy, bumble- the - boy- wonder (aka MW) will likely continue to make head scratching decisions about the lineup and bullpen. You know who would be great for this team : Michael Morse. Sure he would have cost the Nationals roughly a little more than McLouth, but he would have been roughly eleventy times more valuable.

I don't know what his value is now, but I would look to deal Detwiler, although if they could get more for Roark, they should do that. Either way, I do not have good feelings about the Nats prospects because regardless of what happens I just assume MW and Rizzo will make the wrong decision in dealing with it. That may sound harsh, but that's pretty much what's happened since PFK.

DezoPenguin said...

One thing to keep optimism going is that unlike the Nats, who are injured and getting players back, the Braves and Marlins aren't getting their injured players to return. Fernandez, Medlen, and Beachy are done for the year, which means that those teams are who they are unless they make a trade like the Nats.

And the Braves honestly don't look like world-beaters. Sure, in April when every pitcher on the team magically became Sandy Koufax they were impressive, but guys like Harang and Floyd just weren't going to do that all year. And their offense isn't that impressive, either: Apart from Freeman (who's great) and Justin Upton (who's great in streaks and well above average overall), they don't have anyone who particularly stands out. The real edge the Braves have over the Nats is their defense, which features any number of stellar players.

(Weirdly, if Zim wasn't hurt, the Nats and Braves could probably work out a trade for Espinosa, whose defense would mesh wonderfully with Simmons and whose average would be a major upgrade over Uggla and their fill-in jetsam. Unfortunately, they don't have someone to give back that fits US.)

Donald said...

What are the odds Zim is put in LF when he returns? It seems like a good idea to me, though it's only a temporary solution until Bryce comes back. But there have been a number of critical plays recently to Rendon that he handled fine. I cringed thinking about those situations with Zim over there ballooning the throw over to first. If Zim still has throwing issues and they keep him at third, the defense could get a whole lot worse. And Rizzo and Williams both seem stubborn enough to do that.

Eric said...

So, in losing 2 of 3 to the Reds the Nats have fallen 1 game behind my hope of 30 wins the morning of May 31, at which point they will have completed exactly 1/3 of the season. 30 wins on that morning has them on a 90 win pace overall.

To regain that pace they will need to take 3 of 4 from the Pirates or split with them and sweep the Marlins. I think we have a better shot at the former, which isn't to say it's likely. If we do take 3 of 4 in Pittsburgh, we'll need to take 2 of 3 from the Marlins at home and win the first game against the Rangers. Both seem feasible, the latter somewhat depending on who starts for the Rangers on 5/30.

If we split in Pittsburgh, we'll have to win 4 straight to have 30 wins the morning of 5/31. If we lose 3 or more in Pittsburgh, my hopes will have been dashed.

Here's to keeping hope alive!

JWLumley said...

@Donald I don't think Zimmerman would be any worse than Frandsen in LF and even when he doesn't hit, Espinosa is a great glove to have at 2B. In some ways, I think Espinosa is misunderstood, basically he's a glove first SS with pop who's miscast as a second basemen. If he can have any success at all at the plate, the Nats could really raise his trade value.

John C. said...

As fans we have the luxury of panic. Teams do not. Panic moves lead to things like the Expos trading Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips (who, nearly 12 years later, cost the Nats a win on Tuesday - some wounds never truly heal) for a few months of Bartolo Colon. It leads to things like the Red Sox trading Curt Schilling AND Brady Anderson for the decayed remains of Mike Boddicker - and then a couple years later the O's proved they could do it, too, trading Schilling, Steve Finley and Pete Harnisch for Glenn Davis, that big bat they needed to get over the top. Oops.

As a GM you don't panic, you use other people's panic to get what you need. You get Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps; Tanner Roark and Ryan Tatuko for Christian Guzman; Zach Walters for Jason Marquis; and A.J. Cole, Ian Krol and Blake Treinen for six months of Mike Morse. As fans we tend to want the team to go "all in" RIGHT NOW, whenever now is, because it's something and it is exciting.

There are times when I think "all in" is the right move. The Phillies in 2011 picking up Roy Oswalt (etc) for one last charge up the hill by their aging team. The Brewers picking up CC Sabathia in 2008 for four prospects to try to catch lightning in a bottle.

As a cautionary note, neither the 2011 Phillies or 2008 Brewers made it past the NLDS. They went all in and busted anyway. But I could understand the moves given the teams and where they were. The Nats are still one of the younger teams in the league with a solid base of talent. They're not in a position where it makes sense for them to be overwhelmed by the fierce urgency of now. If an opportunity comes that makes sense Rizzo has shown that he's not afraid to make a move (Doug Fister).

A Fly Moses said...

"It's a team of Kevin Frandsens."

Suddenly, FP's insistence that Frandsen is the team MVP makes a lot more sense!

John C. said...

I find it hilarious that fans (JWLumley) on internet sites roast Mike Rizzo on a regular basis. By any objective analysis Rizzo is really good at his job. He stepped into a truly awful team with a decimated farm system and has built a very good organization in a pretty short period of time.

And make no mistake, the 2014 Nats that Rizzo built are a very good team. Take away a top starting pitcher (first Fister, now Gio) and four middle of the order bats (Ramos, Zimmerman, Harper, ALR) from any team and they're going to struggle. That's just reality. And despite that the Nats are over .500 and right there jockeying for playoff position.

No, he's not perfect; no GM is. He's not the best GM in baseball (whoever that might be). But he's in the tier right behind that.

Chaz R said...

Good points Harper. The Nats offense started out good:
April 2014: 258/.327/.414/.327

But now:
May 2014: .230/.284/.346/.280

Which looks a lot like:
May 2013:.233/.286/.376/.290

The starting pitching is coming around and the bullpen continues to be awesome.

The key will be whether the bench can hold the fort until the cavalry arrives.

Good news is we do have 7 games against the Cubs before the All Star break!

Jay said...

I am hoping that LaRoche will help a lot when he gets back. Werth and Rendon were killing the ball when LaRoche was playing. Now that Ramos is hitting sub-.200 behind Werth, suddenly Werth and Rendon have cooled off. I am still encouraged. Hopefully, LaRoche provides some protection for Werth and Rendon.

I agree that the Braves look to closer to an 88 win team than a 95 win team. Their offense isn't very good. I'm also not convinced that outside of Julio Teheran the starting pitching won't end up league average, and yes Ervin Santana stinks. I know Harper disagrees, but no one wanted Santana until the Braves came knocking. He's a half-step above Edwin Jackson. Good stuff, so so results. He has a lifetime ERA of over 4. Had an ERA of over 5 his last year in LA. They couldn't wait to get him out of town in LA. He only turned it up in KC for the supposed big contract he was going to get - which never happened bc everyone knew better. Combine that with their not so great offense and issues arise. The other big thing to remember - the Braves will have to trade for help. At this point does anyone think BJ Upton, Dan Uggla, Jason Heyward, or even Andrelton Simmons are going to become even average on offense? Even Evan Gattis is looking like an at best average catcher. The Braves right now on offense are Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton most nights. That's a lot of swings and misses by Atlanta management.

Finally, I suspect Zimmerman ends up in LF and the Nats try to recapture 2012. If Span continues to struggle (last few games not included), then Harper goes to CF and Zimm becomes an upgrade on Mike Morse from 2012. Rendon bats leadoff. Espinosa plays everyday and the infield defense becomes a lot better. If Span hits (like the last few games) then Zimm is only in LF until Harper is back.

DezoPenguin said...

After all the whining about how Dombrowski somehow won the Fister trade, I am experiencing some schadenfreude today at Ray getting lit up by the Rangers. Just saying. ;)

Kenny B. said...

Zimmerman will not play left field. It's just not going to happen. That would be a move way too far outside the lines for this lot that still thinks Span is a lead off hitter, while virtually every other position in the lineup moves on a regular basis.

I know the team is still relatively young, and half the decent bats are injured, along with one of the top pitchers, but I feel like if I listen closely, I can actually hear the window slowly closing. We will all be talking in 7 or 8 years about the 2012 Strasburg shutdown as the curse that haunts the team.

As Harper said at the beginning of the season: the team is good, but the injury bug could be killer. We got the injury bug bad, and the prophecy is being fulfilled.

Anonymous said...

Jay: You're just hilariously ignorant about the Braves, so I can only hope Mike Rizzo is thinking the same kinds of things and declines to upgrade his team.

Players you made obvious, embarrassing errors about in the course of about two sentences: Heyward, Simmons, Gattis, Santana, Minor, Wood.

The Braves will walk to the NL East title over Bryce Harper's smoking corpse.

Chaz R said...

Troll alert.

Wally said...

DezoPenguin said...
After all the whining about how Dombrowski somehow won the Fister trade .....

Was this really a thing? I must have missed that one completely. I am going to stick with Fister :)

I mostly agree with John C's take, especially on Rizzo, but I do admit to some fatigue over 15 months of the team not winning as much as I think it should. Makes me wonder whether the assumptions on some of the core players were too optimistic. I think if this level of play holds throughout the rest of the season, they may need to consider swapping out some position guys. I won't speculate on who, there are too many variables.

But as for going for it, I wouldn't pay a ransom for a bat just for this year, but the one guy that I might pay up for is Jose Bautista. He's the kind of bat we need (everyone needs), has the positional flexibility to hedge at corner IF and OF and he is signed through 2015. I know we can't get him because TOR is in the thick of it, but he'd be a perfect fit.

Lastly, I'd be up for a Zim experiment in LF. Whatever creates more options for the line up is a good thing, in my book.

JWLumley said...

@John C. Thanks so much for completely misrepresenting what I said, but hey strawmen are always easier to debate. I said Rizzo's decisions haven't worked out since Game 5 in 2012. The bench in 2013 fail, Nate McLouth - fail, Tyler Moore-Not a big leaguer, Dan Haren- Not good, deal for Span... See a pattern here? The Fister deal was great, but even that hasn't worked out quite as well as expected.

Then there's all the discord that's spilled out into the media from Storen and Clippers, to Espinosa and Detwiler, to Strasburg, to Harper and MW. In a day and age when most teams are buying out the first one or two years of FA, the Nats have been spurned by people like Desmond in trying to sign long term deals and haven't bought out any years of FA for their young team. Now you can ascribe that all to crazy people on the internet who think they know better, but it's tough to make an argument in defense of Rizzo over that time frame.

blovy8 said...

This armchair GMing is really easy. If the Nats don't overpay for Desmond's decline or pay Zimmermann like Hamels in extension offers, and they walk, it'll be a failure. If they do pony up, and then they perform as predicted, it will also be a failure since they overpaid, and presumably will not be able to keep other useful players at their desired rates.

If Rizzo had kept Morse as the 4th OF/backup 1B in 2013 and he kept those Seattle numbers, we'd be able to complain about how he streaky he is, and can't stay healthy or play defense, and they should have traded him and got something before he became a free agent. Also, another faction would say how he was screwed to begin with since he was set up not to play enough to get as much value on the market by sharing positions.

I would imagine Rick Schu ought to be sending out resumes.

Jay said...

I would agree that there are few questions about Rizzo the scout, but there are more questions about Rizzo the people person. Riggleman, Storen, Clippard and on and on. Even the whole fake tough thing on the Phillies and the we're better than the Braves thing this year. Hopefully, it'll all work out in the end.

I guess the Braves win a game and the Braves fans have to come over and talk trash on this board. Never understood that too much. The Braves offense is healthy. The Braves offense is next to last in the month of May. The only problem - the Nats are last. The big difference is that the Nats have people coming back from injury. You can argue they are injury prone, but you can't argue that for the most part other than Freeman and Justin Upton the Braves offense is not so good. These thoughts are echoed by many baseball writers - not just a Nats fan bashing on the Braves.

nicoxen said...


I'm a firm believer that Nationals have vested too much faith in their young talent and have used free agency wisely.

Going into this year Rizzo failed to add a reliable bat to lineup even though his establish lineup consisted of players who were frequnetly on the DL and, in the case of Zimm, Laroche, and Werth, players who are on the down slope of their respective careers. I believe Rizzo expected young players Harper, Rendon, & Ramos to come to form early this season. We see how that has worked out.

The Nats have had one of the best pitching staffs in MLB for the past 3+ seasons. They've invested prospects in acquiring Gio and Fister. Free agency dollars in Soriano, Harren, and Edwin Jackon. They have had a surplus pitching talent. But even the best pitching staff cannot overcome a total lack offense. Remember the legendary Braves pitching staff. How many championships did they win?

Despite conventional wisdom, hitting wins championships not pitching. If you look at the past 10 World Series Champions all of those teams (except SF) have been top 5 in run production. The exception, SF, play in one the most pitcher friendly parks in MLB.

The Nats will never become the elite team they think they are until they commit serious money towards legitimate All-Star caliber hitters. Guys who can stay healthy for 150 games season.

John C. said...

As pointed out by blovy8, signing long term extensions is great if the price is right and they work out. What people tend to not remember is that a lot of the extensions don't work out(Nick Markakis, Grady Sizemore, etc). Rizzo is willing to sign a deal if the price is right (Gio Gonzalez). Can you imagine the yowing that would have followed if they had signed Desmond to a long term deal and then he got off to the start he did? Likely from some of the same fans who were incensed that Rizzo didn't sign Adam Dunn - who has had some truly miserable seasons for a big pile of money in Chicago. There were other fans who were outraged that Rizzo didn't sign Prince Fielder, seemingly exactly the big bat you are talking about. Except Fielder is starting to look like an enormous money sink, and that contract runs through 2020. No, thanks.

Armchair GMing is easy, especially through the lens of hindsight. Although it drives fans nuts, a lot of times the best move is to not make a move.

Froggy said...

Armchair GM-ing is what I do. And I guess it's a good thing I have a day job as I don't do it very well. That said, the proof of how well you do something is in the metrics and one can make the argument that Rizzo's plan for the last couple seasons don't plan for injuries very well. Something you need to do with a team that has a history of injuries. The facts bear out Rizzo gambled that not signing Morse for relative FA chump change would be offset by Tyler Moore was wrong. The TMo experiment has failed. Nice kid and all, but he can't hit for average.

Kenny B. said...

I just don't think many (any?) GM is good enough to build a team that can produce runs at a high clip when huge chunks of the middle of the lineup are missing. If every day you're running out some combination of Frandsen/Moore/McLouth/Dobbs/Lobaton, you need mid-90s era Braves pitching (or April 2014 Braves pitching) to stay competitive. Nats pitchers are very good (and becoming consistent!), but not that good. And even they have been lucky only one of them gets injured at a time.

Point is, I can't blame Rizzo for the injury bug, but I am *highly* suspicious as to the quality of the Nats' training staff. I worry they are kowtowing to the will of Rizzo and Williams, and things are being overlooked at the early stages, resulting in more serious injuries that last longer. See, e.g., Harper's knee, LaRoche's leg, Zimm's shoulder, whatever the hell was wrong with Espinosa last year, Ramos's hamate, Fister's lat, all these things showed some early signs, and they let them go until they seriously impacted performance over the course of one or multiple games. Then they're like "let's do an MRI" and lo and behold the player is out for a month and a half. Now granted, they seem to be doing better with Gio now, but I feel the examples of this are few.

Maybe I'm just looking for someone to blame for the uncontrollable, but hey, you fire a hitting coach when the team doesn't hit. Sometimes you need to make a ritual sacrifice to the baseball gods, which of course are the fans.

John C. said...

Agreed that gambling on Moore hasn't worked out to date. Rizzo was able to not only duck paying $6M for Morse's uber-crappy season last year, he also parlayed that one year of Morse into A.J. Cole, Blake Treinen and Ian Krol, the latter of whom finished out the package for Doug Fister.

It's hard for me to say Rizzo didn't handle the Morse situation right.

Froggy said...

@John C , Rizzo got Treinen, Cole, Krol, an Fister for Morse? I wasn't aware of that.

Bjd1207 said...

@Froggy - Not in so many words

We got back Cole, Krol, and Treinen in the Morse deal.

Krol was in the pen for us for most of last year. This offseason we flipped him, Lombardozzi, and Robbie Ray for Fister.

So in a sense you can say that Morse, Lombo, Krol, and Ray netted us Fister, Cole, and Treinen but once you try to make all these connections it breaks down because you need to include relative contract sizes and previous history (like Cole was sent out of our organization initially in the Gio trade, then came back in via Morse trade)

Wally said...

Kenny B said ...I just don't think many (any?) GM is good enough to build a team that can produce runs at a high clip when huge chunks of the middle of the lineup are missing
To me, this is a large truth. And assuming full health, my guess is that we'd be comfortably in first (and for the most part, I give Rizzo very favorable reviews).

But what I think has to be considered, maybe right now but at least in the offseason, is whether the assembled core position players can give you those 150 g/yr that you need. The sample size is starting to get big with some of these guys, and I don't know if it is reasonable to say 'assuming these guys stay healthy' for much longer. I don't know if it is statistically supported, but some guys just seem to get injured and miss time. At some point, Rizzo does need to make some tough decisions on whether Zim, Harper, Ramos are going to play the bulk of the season or be 70% guys, and then be accountable for whether he got it right or not.

I won't pretend it is an easy one. Some players do turn it around, health wise, but many don't. But I think where I come out is, if we head into 2015 with essentially the same lineup, it is a high risk proposition.

Kenny B. said...

"...tough decisions on whether Zim, Harper, Ramos are going to play the bulk of the season or be 70% guys, and then be accountable for whether he got it right or not."

I think you're justified in the Ramos and Zimm questions. With Harper, he's so young, and the causes of his injuries so obvious, I don't view him as a traditional injury risk. Ramos is a catcher, so you always have to view his injury risk as higher, but the call is tougher because his injuries have all been so disconnected from each other. He seems more unlucky than broken. And he's still relatively young, so you can try to bank on him one more time to pay off in a healthy season (gambler's fallacy, I know, but is anyone *that* unlucky?).

With Zimm, I think the writing has been on the wall since the cortisone shots. I love Zimm, but he is aging rapidly. His gold glove defense has regressed to outright liability and he seems to wear down pretty quickly every season. Though his injury this season is somewhat unrelated to his usual creaks and cracks, I think a move to 1B needs to happen sooner rather than later, and it is unwise to believe he will ever play a full season again.

The other guys I worry about pulling out full seasons are Werth and LaRoche. Both are aging, and someone's going to have to be ready to take their places for a good part of the season next year.

The organization seems to have very little offensive depth, and though I admittedly don't follow the minor league system closely, I've not heard of any big bat developing down there who might get to break out in the bigs soon. There's no big unveiling coming, so deals and drafts are the only ways to improve. But deals don't work when there's little to deal.

I don't envy Rizzo's job over the next couple of years as the "window" starts to close. I suspect if the team keeps getting hurt or underperforming over that time, he will eventually move on and someone else will try to build a winning way in DC.

Froggy said...

Even though I really liked his personality and the way he 'fit in' the team chemistry, I'm not trying to make (or 're-make) a case as to why we should have signed Morse, but I did make the point that he could have gotten 400+ AB's as 4th OF, and fill-in at 1B simply based on the injury history of ALR and Werth. Not to mention the pintch hitting and international-league DH possibilities.

Regardless, letting him walk bc of money is one thing, but the bigger issue was in that the replacement solution for Morse didn't add up to what he brought to the team. I mean if you are going to let him walk then you better have a 'proven' .295-.300 / 30+ HR solution which Rizzo didn't.

*Morse leads the Gigantes in HR's and RBI's.

Froggy said...

Typo: inter-league
(dang spelchek!)

Wally said...

Kenny B - agree on Harper. I wasn't even trying to draw conclusions on the others, because I am not smart enough to know whether it is randomness or a propensity that will keep going. Ellsbury seemed injury prone, but the Yanks bet $150m that he isn't. I was just saying that it is a question that Rizzo should, and probably is, asking.

But I wonder, given Rizzo's prospect background, if they finish around 85 games again, instead of walking away or trying for that one big acquisition, he goes the other way. He concludes this core isn't going to get it done, and sells off some guys in a mini rebuild. Try to create the next window around Cole, Giolito, maybe Taylor. It wouldn't be a stretch to see them let ALR and Span go in the offseason, and trade Desi and one of JZimm, Fister or even Stras (whichever one won't extend) to try to replace the middle infield and maybe add another pitcher with more years of control?

I am not advocating anything at this point, just speculating. I'd like to see the season play out and see what happens. But I do think it is fair to start questioning whether the assumptions around the core guys are still sound.

Kenny B. said...

This team will dig a hole too deep for Harper and Zimmerman to pull out of. Come September I'm sticking to my prediction that we will be halfheartedly watching the wild card standings during a run that comes too late to make a difference. As I've said before this season: Ladies and gentlemen, your 2013 Washington Nationals. So far, the biggest differences I see is that Matt Williams never said "World Series or bust" and Adam LaRoche is good.

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