Nationals Baseball: OOB

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

OOB

Out of Blogfice

The offense kept scoring runs AND ZNN pitched great?  Why do I get a picture in my head of a bloodied and battered player in a Nationals uniform pointing a bat at the Braves and saying "You made one mistake. You didn't finish me off when you had the chance"

Comment away.  Should be able to post tomorrow something more substantial. Or, you know, relatively so.

30 comments:

Chaz R said...

Got to feel good about that one... especially against the Phoolies. We sat in front of an uncharacteristically quiet group of them last night. In the 6th inning, overheard them talking about how it was really a much closer game than the score indicates... LOL

Really looks as though the pieces are finally starting to come together... and we are only 2.5 out... maybe we made it through the dark days!

Anonymous said...

The Zim and Zimm show was very enjoyable last night.

What do we do when Bryce is back? Can Zim play 2nd?

Josh said...

Amazing what having Zim back does for the morale of the team (and fans).

Josh said...

Amazing what having Zim back does for the morale of the team (and fans).

Anonymous said...

Better question: Could Bryce play 2nd?

Anonymous said...

Harper what are the chances they push Zim to second rather than tendon he is definitely athletic enough for it but would he be able to turn double plays and such effectively

BooyahSuckah! said...

I see absolutely zero chance of Zimm going to second. There are plenty of creative ways to deal with the potential logjam of starters when Harper comes off the DL (assuming, God forbid, we don't lose anyone else between now and then). But the management of this team has repeatedly shown that they aren't particularly willing to think creatively when it comes to fielding assignments and lineup construction. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is what it is. I say there's a 70% chance we go back to Zimm at 3B, Rendon at 2B, Espy a late innings defensive replacement off the bench. 25% chance we see Harper bump over the CF, Span riding the pine, Zimm in left. 5% chance of something else random happening. All of that assumes no other injuries before then.

On a somewhat related note, I wonder when the last time was a team had their Opening Day lineup together for only a fraction of one game before the All Star Break. And still managed to be within striking distance of first place. I'm encouraged.

blovy8 said...

What, you're not taking Span out of the lineup and sticking Harper in center when he comes back? Where has the hate gone?

Anonymous said...

No, Bryce will catch and Ramos will play 2B. Actually, by the time Bryce is back, it will be time for Werth's annual trip to the DL, so it's probably a moot point.

Seriously, as currently (re)constructed, Zim can't play 3B. He just can't. If he could, he would have been there last night. Harper coming back won't make Zim's shoulder any better.

Froggy said...

Wasn't Bryce a catcher by trade? Hmmm...

BooyahSuckah! said...

Anon-

I don't see how you or anyone else not part of the Nats organization could possibly know what Zimm can or can't do right now.

One, this DL trip wasn't about a shoulder or a lat or anything else. It was a broken finger, which has basically nothing to do with playing third base. If he has issues playing third, they're the exact same issues he had for the first ten games of the season, or all of last season, or the season before that.

No one in any position to know has said anything remotely indicating that Zimm "can't" play 3B.

I took this move as a way of keeping obvious bench guys (like Frandsen and McLouth) on the bench where they belong so starters can start. Rather than love Rendon to second and put Espy on the bench and still have a gaping hole in LF, they decided to try something unorthodox (which is unorthodox in and of itself, since Rizzo seems to be the most conventional of GMs) to fill an obvious hole until Bryce comes back.

FP made a good point during the game last night that standing out in LF is a huge departure from the constant chatter and movement of playing third, and perhaps that's part of the reason. Sort of a mental vacation for the guy so he can focus on hitting (which the Nats desperately need) and less on defense and throwing (where they're doing okay and Zimm has been a little "yippy" of late).

I still think that when Bryce returns, the overwhelming likelihood is that we go back to Opening Day spots.

JWLumley said...

That was a fun game to watch, but I'm still concerned. The Nats seem to be feasting on #5 starters, which they should, but in order to win in the NL East they're going to need to score runs against good pitchers. Zim has such good AB's, though it's nice to see another guy in the Nats lineup who doesn't give AB's away.

I was encouraged by Espinosa's swing last night and watching him take the ball the other way, but Desmond seems to have regressed into a 2 true outcome hitter, it would be okay if he were a 3 true outcome hitter, but it's either a homerun or a strikeout with him lately and it doesn't seem to be improving. His front side is flying open and he's not staying on the ball. I'm torn, because Espi is the far superior defensive player and far superior defensive SS, so if they're going to hit roughly the same logic would suggest that Espinosa get the playing time. It just feels like Desmond is one hot streak away from being a .280 hitter again and Espinosa is one cold streak away from being Nate McLouth.

I think the Nats should make the decision when they get there, but I could see the best decision being moving Harper back to CF and/or platooning Desmond and Espinosa when Harper returns.

Chaz R said...

@JW- they have actually won against some top pitchers; Greinke and Cueto for example.

I could see MW using all the various lineup and defensive options depending upon the team their playing and even particular game situations. I think Zim will get time at 3B, 1B, and LF, and Harper will get time in LF and CF... and Danny will get time on the bench :-)

Froggy said...

Spending time discussing where BH hits and who sits is an exercise in fruitless conjecture since he is rumored to be 40-ish games away (according to comments by FP) from being back on the field.

As others have said, by that time I'm certain one of the other war horses will be on the DL. Regardless, it will be nice to have a 'problem' like where to hit Bryce in a healthy line-up for a change.

Clip&Store said...

Don't get why the nats are so stuck on Harper as a corner outfielder. From what i've seen, he's stayed by far his most healthy anywhere BUT left and right field. He's certainly young and athletic enough to play somewhere else.

Eh, oh well. My hypothetical scenario will probably never happen anyways. It would be nice if they at least though about it.

JWLumley said...

@clip Couldn't agree more, I don't understand why the Nats moved Harper out of CF other than to fulfill some archaic need for a fast guy who can steal bases to bat leadoff. I think Harper is most valuable in CF and he should stay there until he can't anymore, probably in his mid-to late 20's. Even the defensive metrics rated him as above average his one season there.

@Chaz I know they have beat some good pitchers, but they haven't shown any type of sustained offensive output except over this very brief stretch against mainly 4A pitchers and Yu Darvish who shut them down, so color me skeptical. As for Danny, I'll admit, I have a huge mancrush on Danny's defensive abilities. Not necessarily on Danny as a whole, just his defense. I think Nats fans in general undervalue Danny's defense because of how terrible his bat was last year, but also the way he raised expectations in his rookie year. I admit that I want to see Danny at SS over a sustained period of time to compare his defensive metrics with Simmons in Atlanta. I think Espi is that good.

Kenny B. said...

Analogy needs more references to most recent Game of Thrones episode.

I said there was no way Zim would be in left, and I was way wrong, so maybe they'll do something unconventional if Bryce comes back to an otherwise healthy team. Either way, as others have noted, it's a good problem to have if we get there.

Man, it feels so much better to have Ryan Zimmerman back. It just feels more like watching the Nats and less like an off-brand Nats tribute team. Plus, Gio should be back very soon, which will be nice too.

And I've said before that Espy, when good, adds a ton of flexibility to the team. Here's hoping he stays hot enough to justify his existence offensively. Would love to see a 2012 Nats regular season reunion, with special guest stars Doug Fister.

Anonymous said...

There's a clear solution to what happens when Bryce comes back: Span plays second.

Span is a fast, glove first guy. 2B is often a fast, glove first guy. By the transitive property, Span is a second baseman and will replace Espinosa.(Related: Fast Leadoff Man Theorem).

Anonymous said...

You don't have to have inside knowledge of the Nats organization to know that Zim "can't" play 3B right now; you only have to have cable. He has struggled mightily there for two years. The thumb just offered a convenient opportunity to make the transition.

This isn't hating on Zim at all, who looks better at the plate than he has in years. He'll play, just not at third.

It does seem curious that Espy has suddenly shown a pulse in the two games that Zim has been back. Coincidence? Or a little more incentive to focus?

Froggy said...

I think everyone is reenergized and are seeing better pitches since Zim has come back. No more 'gimmy' outs in the bottom third of the line-up.

Wally said...

To rehash two older threads:
(1) I had been very critical of Matt Williams early on, but I think it is only fair to acknowledge that I think he is settling in. I don't say this because they are playing well recently but because I haven't seen many head scratching moves or lineup decisions. Bullpen usage still isn't perfect: Detwiler feels misused still and I'd like Storen used more often, but those are honestly minor quibbles that I'd expect to have with any manager. He has an opportunity coming up when Harper returns. Many of you are talking about where Zim goes and whether Span or Espy sits, but to me, this roster, at least for the rest of the year, has excellent positional and platoon flexibility and he could move guys around on a daily basis. But he has to sell that to the players to get buy in, like they do in Oakland. That is a tall order, and I don't know if he can pull it off but it will be interesting to watch.
(2). On why Stras doesn't get perceived to be as good as he rates statistically. I think part of it is unearned runs. It was brought home to me last night. He pitched great, for the most part, yet left winning 8-4. I did a quick check, and I think he leads the league in unearned runs (tied with Shields at 10). His ERA is 3.1 but it jumps to 4.22 if you calculate it based on all runs allowed. So while, in the abstract you can assign blame for that to the fielders if you want, when you are watching, I think you can't help but emotionally tag Stras with some of that too, which adds to the feeling of dissatisfaction.

blovy8 said...

Strasburg's unearned runs came partially from a bad throw to first last night. I think runs that come from pitcher errors ought to be "earned".

I think there will be throws Zim can't make at third, but I'll accept a few of those to get his bat in there. It's not much different than the calculus used when Morse played. Maybe he'll just stick with sidearm and concede a few infield hits.

Anonymous said...

It's not just Zim's throws from third, it's his shallow positioning, which have greatly diminished his range and left gaping holes in the left side of the infield. Rendon, although above average in his own right, is not as good defensively as Zim was at his peak, but that Zim hasn't been seen in nearly three years, and Rendon is a significant upgrade over Recent Zim.

Zim knows the score. He's handled all of this with class. He will play, but there's no reason right now to hurt the defense and risk his shoulder by playing him at third.

A lot can happen before Harper gets back, so there's no reason to hyperventolate about it now. It's a good "problem" to have. It's hard to remember the last time the Nats had the "problem" of having everyone healthy.

As for Stras, his frustration still seems to result in all those unearned runs scoring. As the saying goes, don't get mad, get even. He hasn't learned how to do that yet. Perhaps Fister can help.

Kenny B. said...

"I think runs that come from pitcher errors ought to be 'earned'"

I've heard a few folks say this, but I think it harms the ERA stat. ERA is not meant to show you how good the pitcher is as a rounded player, but rather as a *pitcher* (or at least the pitcher's propensity for giving up runs). By calculating the pitcher's fielding into the number, you're no longer using the stat to assess how well the pitcher *pitches.*

I'm no sabermetrician, but I definitely feel like a pitcher's fielding of his position is of minimal significance in the grand scheme. In the National League, I'd say it may be the least important part of his game. The pitcher really is weird, since he has so many dimensions to assess in the game.

Anonymous said...

my post from April 23rd....

Anonymous said...
Harper I'm intrigued by your dislike for Span this year - I feel like the Stats guy in you would say he's not so much slumping as he is just unlucky right now (his BABIP is 100 points lower than his career average). I was as scared of him leading off as the next person but since coming back from the concussion he's making great contact and seeing the ball fantastically. I agree with the rest of your points here, but I think you're letting old biases here persuade...

12:49 PM

I'll admit you want higher than .325 OBP but I'll take a +.280 hitter with ++ defense in CF who I know can take more walks than he has any day. If he only could learn to base run...

BooyahSuckah! said...

Kenny, I completely agree. Was just having this discussion last night. I really don't think runs due to a pitcher error should be counted as earned. Like you said, ERA is a pitching stat, not an overall this-is-how-good-a-player-he-is stat. It's the same reason that runs due to a wild pitch are considered earned, but runs due to a passed ball aren't. A wild pitch is part of who that guy is as a pitcher, so it deserves to be counted in a pitching stat. A passed ball isn't.

blovy8 said...

A passed ball is the catcher's fault. So a pitcher can't control how he pitches to first? Makes no sense.

I'm mostly kidding.

Bjd1207 said...

@Anon - Zim's shallow positioning at 3rd improves his effective range, not harms it. It's similar to a hockey/soccer goalie running out from the goal to meet the attacker.

He's always had spectacular reflexes and below average arm (except maybe his first season) so you don't want him deep at 3rd like how Wright plays. Desmond's got spectacular range too and a strong arm so playing him deep and Zim shallow is probably your best alignment in most cases.

None of that takes into accounts Zim's throws obviously, but I was just saying this because I often wish Rendon would take a few steps up after watching Zim all these years

Anonymous said...

WRONG! Zimmerman's range at third was NOT improved by playing in. This has been widely discussed. If this were true, all infielders would play on the edge of the dirt all the time. Instead, they play as deeply as possible (unless there is a threat of a bunt). Rendon was probably 25-30 feet on the grass yesterday at 2B against Howard, and easily threw him out from there.

Bjd1207 said...

@Anon - Yea if it's a 21-year old with a canon I'd absolutely agree with you (see your Rendon argument)

Zimm never had a canon, at one point he had a serviceable arm. So even granted the argument that a typical 3rd baseman should be playing deep, I'd still argue that he should not.

Here's Cal Ripken's thoughts on the matter:

"I concentrated every pitch at shortstop, but you have to do it more at third," Ripken once said. "You have to make yourself ready for your own safety. On a ball hit to third, you can't afford to take a step back. You have to be like a hockey goalie. There's some fear. And there is no comfort zone. You're on edge. It's a highly stressful, anxious position."