Nationals Baseball: There's no "sensible way to manage your star player" in TEAM

Monday, July 28, 2014

There's no "sensible way to manage your star player" in TEAM

Told you not to worry about Cincy. They can't hit. Can't. As good as the pitching can be (see Cueto, Jonny) it hardly matters when they can't score more than three runs, which should be the case versus a good pitching team (which the Nats are). Seriously - here are their runs scored since the All-Star break. 3, 1, 2, 2, 3, 1, 1, 1, 2.  This is a team that could find itself in last place by the end of August. Most likely not (the Cubs have gotten themselves a great "lead") but I'm not betting against it.

Anyway, the Nats will have to sweep the Marlins to go 7-2, like I demanded they do.  Don't they listen to me? They are better than the Marlins. They should win the series. 6-3 is fine. 5-4 is not ok.

The bigger story over the weekend is how the management has treated Bryce Harper and how the fans are turning on him.  He has not hit particularly well since coming back (.209 / .329 / .328). He seemed to have something going for a few games there but has gone back to slumping. During that time there was a questionable non-start versus Franklin Morales (not exactly a lefty who dominates lefties), an odd "fake bunt" call in a key point, and a few overly aggressive baserunning moves which everyone loved so much last year, and now everyone hates because... ummm...  Well, there's the stated reason why they hate these moves, because they cause outs. But you know what? They caused outs before too. The turn can be caused by a team losing when they should be winning, but the Nats have taken 1st place and don't look to be slowing down. No, the big reason why they hate the moves now, something that has changed from previous years is the team (and the media - Hi, Boz!) have told them they should hate it now.

Now you have people throwing out trades for Bryce, or suggesting he go down to Syracuse for Souza.  It's created this weird ironic situation where in order to show that Bryce is not more important than the team, that the team's success is paramount, the Nats are doing things that most likely will hurt the team's success.  So I guess send the management down too?

Bryce is arguably the most important piece for the future success of the Nats. Everyone else is either too old, to injury prone, or too unproven to take that title from him. The only possible challenger to Bryce is Rendon, but here's a fun fact; in Bryce's 2nd year (last year), he got on base more and hit for more power than Rendon is doing now in his second year. He was also four years younger than Rendon. Bryce's potential to be a team carrying star cannot be ignored. He doesn't have to be coddled, but he does have to be used properly.  Preferably that would be batting higher in the line-up but hey, if they just set-him and forget-him for 2014 in the 6 hole I'd be fine with that. Sit him versus tough lefties, otherwise he plays everyday. Don't ask him to do things you wouldn't ask other players of his talent to do. It's not that difficult.

Sigh. What a stupid thing to be talking about.

In other news - Denard Span. You all know I'm not a big fan of Denard Span. It's pretty much all about him batting leadoff, as I don't think he should be sat and certainly not traded. Recently he's made the leadoff question moot, getting on base at a crazy clip. Of course a lot of that is just luck (please someone tell me his .441 July BABIP is sustainable) which happens with speedy slap hitters, but he did increase his walk totals in each of the past three months. Six in May, eight in June, twelve so far in July. If he keeps it up he might not be terrible leading off when the batting average cools down. That's important because like it or not, he's leading off for this team.

I'm one to think that Span's option year should be picked up. Does that mean Souza (or whoever) doesn't get there chance? Maybe. But the Nats OF D is pretty shaky and Souza is still learning the position. Bryce hasn't been able to turn his athleticism into good OF play and Werth can't get around out there anymore (sorry Werth fans).  They need Span in CF.  If he happens to hit like crap (or if Souza shows himself to be an unstoppable force in the majors when he plays) then you can bench him - he would make a great 4th OF / defensive replacement / pinch runner in that case.An expensive one yes, but the Nats should be able to afford it without affecting their future plans.

40 comments:

Zimmerman11 said...

Williams is trying to break Bryce. Make the kid "pay his dues" and all that. Thing is, all Bryce has to do is start producing again and stay healthy and it's all moot. I'm certainly not rooting (or betting) against him!

Chaz R said...

Yup, Bryce and Stras are really catching some heat lately. Bryce is like 2 for 17 with no extra base hits over the last week. He will figure it out though.

Span seems to heat up (like Werth) in the second half. Remember his hitting streak last year? I have never liked him leading off, but his OF D is awesome and necessary for the Nats. I still can't understand why Rizzo let Dejesus go last summer, he would've been a great 4th OFer.

Anonymous said...

Bryce often makes dumb decisions (seemingly) in the pursuit of attention, whether it's baiting a runner to take an extra base, throwing behind runners, or running the bases too aggressively. It reminds me of Lebron's early days in Cleveland, where his defense suffered because he often snuck away to get a fast break and dunk on SportsCenter. Maybe that mindset is part of being the next big thing.

But someone needs to tell Bryce that baseball won't get covered again now that the NFL teams are talking about practicing or something. Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

Bryce often makes dumb decisions (seemingly) in the pursuit of attention, whether it's baiting a runner to take an extra base, throwing behind runners, or running the bases too aggressively. It reminds me of Lebron's early days in Cleveland, where his defense suffered because he often snuck away to get a fast break and dunk on SportsCenter. Maybe that mindset is part of being the next big thing.

But someone needs to tell Bryce that baseball won't get covered again now that the NFL teams are talking about practicing or something. Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

This is why Washington can't have nice things. The media shits on everything and "fans" will turn on you in a second if you don't live up to their unreasonably high expectations. (Just look at the mess with RG3).

Bryce is the most important part of the team long-term. He's also the most fun to watch. MW seems to have some need to show how tough he is by putting him in his "place" or something.

nicoxen said...

@harper

Great post. I have been concerned about Bryce's swing for long time,ever since Andy Pettite made him look foolish during interleague play in 2012.

The thing that's most concerning to me is his whiffs against offspead and breaking pitches. If you look at his Whiff rate it seems like he has never really figured out how to hit offspead pitching. As a result, Bryce get's a fastball less than 60% of the time. This is bad news for a pure fastball hitter.

http://www.brooksbaseball.net/h_outcome.php?player=547180&time=month&startDate=04/01/2012&endDate=07/28/2014&s_type=16

I think the league has Harper figured out, and actually they've had him figured out for the last season and a half.

If Bryce is ever going to realize his potential he needs to figure out how to hit offspead and breaking balls. I don't know what it will take to do this, maybe see a hitting specialist, a sports psychologist, a vision expert, or spend some time in Winter ball. I don't know. All I do know is this...It won't matter where he hits in the lineup, or if the coach has his back or not...or if the other guys on the club like him or any of that B.S....if the guys can't his a damn curveball he'll be packing his bags sooner than we thought.

Section 220 said...

Harper, I think you tweeted something along these lines at one point, but isn't Werth's diminished ability in the outfield a great argument for keeping first base open for him as an option? That is, let LaRoche go, play Zim in left, Werth to first, Bryce to right?

Anonymous said...

I think this is an important post. There seems to be an effort by MW to "put Harper in his place," whatever that means. I have to believe MW has support from Rizzo on this effort (or perhaps MW was tasked with this by Rizzo). It seems really stupid because Harper is the best offensive player on the team. At the same time, one thing the numbers don't tell us is how (or whether) clubhouse chemistry affects performance (the assumption underlying this statement is that Harper's behavior is somehow affecting chemistry, which we have no way of knowing). I hope it works and doesn't alienate Harper. It looks really stupid from the outside (Keith Law wrote about this).

Re OF, I think it's entirely possible that Zim will be a better OFer than Werth in years to come (Werth looks very very slow out there these days but still looks decent on the bases). I think it's very unlikely we see Werth at 1B and Zim in the OF even if that's the best defense...

JWLumley said...

Bryce was heating up before Williams benched him vs. Colorado and since then he hasn't been great. The thing about Harper is that he's a kid. Perhaps he's a man physically and perhaps he's advanced beyond his years emotionally, but he still lacks a fully developed brain and is probably not fully developed emotionally. There's a reason they call them "kid gloves" because you use them on kids. Perhaps more so than any other player in the big leagues, Harper needs emotional support. Listening to F.P.and others who seem to have turned on him is alarming and reminiscent of the greatest player to ever come out of Oklahoma. Let's hope Bryce finds a different way to cope than the Mick did.

Here's the thing about Bryce's decisions. Did he get thrown out twice against Cueto, yup. But he was one of the only people on base that day, so there's that. Is he tinkering with his swing too much, yup, but perhaps he doesn't trust any of his coaches enough to listen when they step in and say 'stop messing around with your swing.' Plus you have an organization that doesn't seem to properly value walks, one of Harper's greatest strengths. For all the talk of how Span is now a good leadoff hitter, he still has a lower OBP than Harper.

The one thing, and this is just speculative, is that Harper doesn't seem to be under anyone's wings anymore. When he first came up, it seemed Werth and Ankiel kind of took him under their wing, but now he seems to always be alone. I realize that may be reading into things too much, but perhaps it's not MW, perhaps it's the clubhouse that has ostracized Harper or perhaps they've done so with Williams' direction. I don't know, it's wild speculation on my part, but it certainly appears that way to me.

JWLumley said...

@Nicoxen This is common for someone Harper's age. It's kind of like the "Harper can't hit lefties" narrative from the last two years. Well, he's hitting almost .400 against lefties this year. Of course they're feeding him breaking balls, he needs to better at swinging at breaking balls in the zone. But how would he have learned this? They don't throw breaking stuff like this anywhere else. Once his pitch recognition of breaking stuff gets better, ie he sees more of it, they'll be forced to throw him more fastballs.

Donald said...

I think the narrative that MW is trying to break Harper is overblown. It's like how everyone calls Strasburg a head-case when he makes a mental lapse but never, ever says that about Znn for doing the same thing. In fact, it would have been very easy for MW to call out Harper for his bad base-running, but I think he actually supported him, and certainly bailed him out by saying the failed bunt was a designed play.

Where's the real evidence of MW treating Harper poorly? So he sat him once in Colorado. He's been sitting Ramos even more. So he benched him for not running out a grounder. Even Harper admitted it was warrented.

I think this is just one of those storylines that seems believeable, so everyone has bought into it without questioning.

JWLumley said...

While everyone may be wanting to eat some crow about Denard Span at this point, I'm not. He's had a very hot month, he does that. He also goes very cold, like 0 for twentysomething. When the season is over I still expect him to have a sub .330 OBP, due in part to his BABIP regressing to the mean. I'm not rooting against him, I just think that's where his true talent level lies. Even if it doesn't, he still shouldn't leadoff because Harper will almost certainly finish with a higher OBP than Span. Toss in the fact that Harper sees more pitches per plate appearance than Span and it would be better for him to leadoff. Now that I think of it, 6th could be one of the worst spots in the order for Harper to hit and negates his ability to get on base. When he leads off an inning with a walk, that means you have your two worst hitters and the pitcher coming up to drive him in and/or move him over. He might be better off batting 9th. Think of the Cueto game, perhaps Bryce was trying to make something happen because you have Frandsen coming to the plate who hasn't hit since April and the pitcher.

Harper said...

sec 220 - yes! I like bringing back LaRoche primarily because no one on this team hits righties like he does, but if you don't keep him. Werth to first, not Zimm, is the right move.

JWLumley said...

@Donald Harper isn't a catcher. He should sit for rest and that's all. When Williams went over his rationale with the media, it was suspect and wrong. Now, Williams could just be incompetent or completely averse to basic statistics like BA, but I doubt that. I'll admit some of the evidence could all be explained away, but it's not coming out of thin air. Harper was sick and nursing a quad when he was benched and not only did MW bench him, but he blabbed about it to the media. A big no-no. Then there was the whole differing timetable for his return and the several differing comments about "conversations" the two have had. Point being, their communication doesn't seem to be good.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is that Keith Law has written and sited internal sources stating that there was/is friction between Harper and Matt Williams. KLaw is not known for sensationalism, but is an insider who knows a lot of people within the game. Matt Williams has repeatedly stated that he looks up to managers like Dusty Baker and Kurt Gibson who are both notorious for their poor treatment of younger players in favor of veterans and their disdain for statistical analysis. Stuff happens and these could just be bumps in the road of an otherwise good relationship, but as much as clubs try to conceal what goes on behind closed doors for this much to leak out smacks of a larger issue.

Bjd1207 said...

@Harper/220 - Lol I don't know if I've ever seen Werth field a grounder in my life without dropping to a knee. I'd want to see that before getting on board, but I like Zimm's mobility better than Werth (duh) if LaRoche walks.

@The Topic - Nothing about Bryce's numbers/approach pops out at me except the glaring uptick in strikeouts. He seems to have a couple giant holes in his swing that he needs to either work the count around or at least foul off.

This is purely eye-test now (perhaps Brooks can back it up) but the slider under the hands I've never seen him turn on (as you see when ALR jacks a foul ball into the 3rd deck) or go inside out. He also flails at the lefty-lefty outside fastball, or the power sinker from righties if they have it.

Froggy said...

Mike Trout: 286 games, 1117 ab in the minors. Focused development, with no pressure.

Bryce Harper: 139 games (some of those rehab, vice developmental games), 486 ab. The whole nation of baseball wondering how long before he was getting called up. Pressure.

I believed then and still think Davey Johnson did Bryce a disservice and brought him up too soon. Yeah Werth kept him under his wing that first season, but how long do you coddle a Professional baseball player? It's not Werth's job to be his big brother every season. That said, I don't believe there are any shenanigans going on or that Bryce is being ostracized by his teammates, I think it us just a boys game played by men at this level and sooner or later Bryce will get it together. Personally, I don't think day to day in the show is the best place to 'tinker' with his swing.

Wally said...

I think that there is something to this Harper alienation thing. I don't know if it is specifically this narrative, or some of the ones thrown out in the comments, or something else. But the body language from him is noticeably worse than last year imo. Williams also seems a bit off with him. And there seems to be a noticeable lack of teammates stepping forward with supporting comments, like happened in the past. Where is Team Leader Werth in all this?

It might all just be as simple as frustration over his injuries and on-field results, and when they start ticking up, everything looks better. But if I had to guess, I'd say that there is an element within the org that feels that his production isn't making up for some of his on field recklessness, or maybe just that he isn't always giving 100% effort, and Harper feels like the 'org' doesn't 'have his back', however you define each of those things.

To be honest, I don't really care all that much about it. I expect Williams/Rizzo not to be taking sides though, and find a way to get the best performance from everyone. If the Bronx Zoo could win with Billy Martin fighting players in the dugout, the Nats can play through this reasonably mild spat. But Bryce isn't playing well, and while it is fair to think that he is still rounding into shape from his injury, it would be good to see him get all the way back soon.

As for Span/leadoff, seems like a really overspent topic, to be honest.

Anonymous said...

Fans of Moneyball (the book) will recall that Billy Beane's downfall as a player was that he took himself too seriously to succeed at higher levels of competition. Even if Bryce isn't a self-destructive bad sport, as Beane was, he seems to forget sometimes that for the fans baseball is entertainment. On TV, every frown will be broadcast, every mood subject to commentary. As they say in politics, television is a “cool” medium: never, ever lose your temper on air. Fans will enjoy Harper's performances more when he is a happier warrior. He may need a media coach more than a batting coach.

Donald said...

I don't see Zim anywhere but 1B, based on his arm. I may have missed it, but did he have a single strong throw into the infield from LF? I did see a number of lobs and 3 hoppers to Desmond.

If he's in LF next year, I'd expect a lot of teams to force the issue and take second on routine singles or tag up on short flies. Maybe he'll be able to make the throws, but if he doesn't it could get ugly.

Also, is there any reason to believe Werth can play 1B? As far as I can tell, he played there for 1 inning in 2007 and that's the full extent of his infield experience. I'm not saying he couldn't do it, but I agree with Bjd1207. I'd want to see how he does picking sharply hit balls down the line or in-between hops before anointing him the future first baseman.

IPLawguy said...

I don't know if Werth can play 1B, but his OF play has looked "Morse-ian" this year.... and when it drops to Adam Dunn level, he has to either learn 1B or become a very expensive pinch hitter.

Eric said...

"I don't see Zim anywhere but 1B, based on his arm. I may have missed it, but did he have a single strong throw into the infield from LF? I did see a number of lobs and 3 hoppers to Desmond. "

I recall exactly one, in CO last week. He bounced it once, but it had some pepper on it, leading me to think the bounce was intentional. The throw was to Desi, who was maybe 10 feet into the outfield, and I think Zim was back near the wall? I think it held the batter to a single.

Nothing impressive, relatively speaking, just notable because it was Zim throwing it.

Natty dread said...

Was wondering how long it would take to pick up on Span's uptick. 4 walks in one game? What happened? There is enough core hitting talent on the team to stand in for a month with no Zimmerman. Particularly when Harper heats up. Which he will.

Bjd1207 said...

@Nattydread - Love the optimism on Harper, its much needed it seems lately.

On Span, I think his walk potential has always been there. Or at least the lack of strikeouts has always been there, and the rest of his approach is good enough to maintain good BB%/K% ratios. As Harper pointed out much of this streak is driven by BABIP, and the 4 walks is the start of pitchers beginning to pitch away from him, which will in turn probably drive BABIP (and AVG in turn) back down.

Mitch said...

I have officially lost patience for further excuses for Bryce Harper. To paraphrase F.P., the first time he was thrown out on the bases was justified. The second one was just plain stupid, and the last straw for me.* Remember when people found any reason to put Yasiel Puig down based on similar mental mistakes, immaturity, etc.? I don't hear much of that anymore, as he is now one of the best players in the league, age/experience notwithstanding. How long should we keep making excuses for Bryce?

*I reserve the right to jump back on the bandwagon if he turns things around :)

Harper said...

Puig still does dumb things, and people do complain but when you are hitting .310 / .398 / .532 a lot of people tell those first people to shut up.

JWLumley said...

@Mitch You will not be welcomed back on the bandwagon. That is all.

Mitch said...

@JW - I'll manage... it's not the first wagon I've fallen off of.

blovy8 said...

It's mostly hyperbole with Harper because he's been presented as the future of the franchise. Why wouldn't he be the story? He does have to learn and adjust, but that doesn't always happen the way we expect, and I would expect something insignificant to just click in soon unless he's hurt. It could be that the CF comment pissed off the clubhouse more than we know, but I don't know why that would affect his hitting. I would sooner believe he's hurt than that he was not mentally strong enough to deal with that type of thing. The guy has played with a lot of old guys who probably resent him throughout his life.

Anonymous said...

I do believe the grinch's heart grew 10 times when it comes to Span. As for Harper - if the fan base does turn on him they don't deserve him. I have to believe the majority of fans aren't that dumb

JE34 said...

Pardon the vent: Who among us would leave Jerry Blevins in against a right handed hitter, with the winning run on 3rd base? Soriano was horrendous, but it doesn't take much to know how bad Blevins has been against righties. Good gravy MW... good gravy. He IS Dusty Baker Part Deux.

Froggy said...

Forgive the rant part deux: Like I have been saying for over a year now, Sorryano is freaking terrible! Never liked him. Never liked how he pulls his shirt out as if it's all about him. He is not a team player and would trade him for anyone right this second. To date, I have never seen Sorryano get three guys out without some sort of drama, giving up a walk and hits. That said, MW is equally to blame for not pulling him after Ozuna's single...terrible.

Froggy said...

Our 'closer' you know, the guy how slams the door on the offense gives up a four pitch lead off walk to McGhee, a double to Jones, a RBI single to Ozuna. Perfect time to realize your fireman is fanning the flames instead of putting them out and 'doesn't have his stuff'. Nope, MW leaves him in for a sac fly by Saltalamacchia and a WP moves Ozuna to second. How about now Matt Williams? Nope, Hechavarria has a 12 pitch wear my ass at bat that results in a bases clearing triple that ties the game! Ok surely you pull him now MW? Nope. Not until Sorryano settles down and HBP Donovan Solano.

Tie score with runners at the corners with one out so let's break this off in Blevins' ass. Nice job there Matty!

JWLumley said...

You never pull your closer with the lead. Set up men should only pitch in their inning. Denard Span is a leadoff hitter. Bryce Harper is a dum dum head. Jerry Blevins is not a LOOGY. Somewhere I have to believe Matt Williams has all of these "sayings" written down. Meh, I don't think it will really affect the Nationals overall chances too much, but it's a good glimpse into the type of manager MW is....a bad one.

cef5434e-171b-11e4-bd17-1b3b5ee01611 said...

Ray Knight said it best after the 1-0 loss to the Reds: there's aggressive baserunning to be aggressive and help your team, and then there's aggressive baserunning that's just stupid. Bryce doesn't seem to know the difference right now, and it's hurting the team. And coupled with the ongoing slump, THAT, plain and simple, is why the fans are starting to turn on him...

Booyah Suckah! said...

ATTENTION MATT WILLIAMS. ATTENTION MATT WILLIAMS. Blevins is a LOOGY. He has always been a LOOGY. He will always be a LOOGY. After Baker, there were two more right-handed bats on deck and in the hole. Why on God's green earth would you leave Blevins in?

Stammen hadn't pitched in a week, and his ridiculous slider almost guarantees a ground ball.

Meanwhile, Jeff Baker's only purpose in life is to hit lefties.

Seriously. I can't stand it anymore.

John C. said...

An ugly loss, but let's not get carried away.

Froggy: To date, I have never seen Sorryano get three guys out without some sort of drama, giving up a walk and hits.

Soriano has now appeared in 40 games this season. 16 of them (40%) were clean innings (no baserunners) and in another 12 of them he gave up only one baserunner. That's 70% of his appearances with one or no baserunners. You could look it up.

Booyah: ATTENTION MATT WILLIAMS. ATTENTION MATT WILLIAMS. Blevins is a LOOGY. He has always been a LOOGY. He will always be a LOOGY.

Also wrong; it's a 2014 phenomenon. He has actually never had anything like the dramatic platoon split that he had this year, and for his career he doesn't show a dramatic platoon split. Last season, in fact, he was better against RH batters than against LH. So far this season Blevins is a pitching version of what we went through with DSpan last year, when for the first (and only) time in his career Span had a dramatic platoon split. Again, you could look this up.

Why not go to Stammen in the 9th? Because the game was tied, and with Clippard unavailable and Detwiler, Storen and Soriano already used MW was down to just two more pitchers in the pen after Blevins (Stammen and Barrett). Since they were on the road, MW knows that he has at least one more inning to get through, possibly more, as a best case scenario. If the game got that far the pitcher's spot was coming up 5th or 6th the next inning - so you could have had a two outs, RISP situation where you PH for the pitcher and you are down to the last Mohican ... and it's only the 10th inning. On top of that, the Nationals only have one off day (8/11) between now and August 28. So going to a starter has ripple effects in the rotation that's already going to be pushed.

So MW had a series of bad options. Given all that, rolling the dice on Blevins getting Baker was understandable, even though it didn't work.

John C. said...

Most importantly, ladies and gentlemen, don't let one craptastic loss cause you to lose sight of the big picture.

When the Braves and Nats parted ways on June 22nd, I looked at the schedule and simply hoped that the Nats would be within 2-3 games of first place when we got to this point. I'm not the only one who commented on this at the time, either. This was because the schedule since then really leaned against the Nats and for the Braves. Since then the Nats have played 29 games, 19 on the road, and had to play 9 games against first place teams and 3 more against a preseason playoff pick the Reds (52-53), who were 51-44 and just 1.5 games out at the All Star Break and had three very good pitchers lined up against the Nats. Despite all that the Nationals have gone 5-4 against fellow first place teams, 18-11 (.621) overall – a pace to win 100 games.

In contrast, since that game the Braves have played 31 games – not one of them against a team with a winning record. And not just bad teams, mostly atrocious teams. 3 against the Astros (43-63). 3 against the Cubs (43-61). 3 against the Diamondbacks (46-60). 7 against the Phillies (46-60). 4 against the Padres (46-59). And 7 against the Mets (51-55). They did play 4 against the Marlins (52-53), who are on the fringe of playoff contention ... and lost 3 of 4. 20of their 31 games have been against teams that are farther below .500 than the Nationals and Braves are above .500, and 17 of those 31 games were in Atlanta. Not surprisingly, playing mostly at home against dreck, the Braves did very well, going a very respectable 20-11 (.645). This is about what I expected them to do, and about what you would expect a good team to do. What hurt the Braves is that in their 11 games against the "least bad" teams, the Mets and Marlins, they only scrapped out a 5-6 record. That combined with the Nationals playing their schedule very tough means that despite the headwind the Nats have managed to stay ahead of the Braves, only losing one game in the standings to cut their lead from 1.5 games on June 22 to their current .5 game lead (2 in the loss column)

This is important because the schedule wind is now behind the Nationals. Between now and August 28 the Braves will play 28 games, 18 on the road, and their schedule includes 13 games against first place teams: 7 games against the Dodgers (59-47); 3 at home against the Nationals (57-46); and 3 in Oakland (65-40). They also play 7 more games against playoff contenders, all on the road: 3 games at Pittsburgh (55-49); and 4games in Cincinnati (52-53). Over the same stretch the Nationals will play 29 games, 18 at home. No, the Nats’ schedule isn’t as easy as the Braves has been for the past month – that schedule is as soft as you'll ever see. The Nats have 12 of 29 games against teams basically at or above .500. But only the game at home against Baltimore (58-46) is against another first place team. The Nats play 11 more games against playoff contenders. Five of these are on the road: 3 against the Braves (58-48) and the next 2 against the Marlins (52-53). The other six are at home: 3 against the Giants (57-48); and 3 against Pittsburgh (55-49). Most importantly, 17 of the 29 games are against bad teams: the Phillies (46-60) 7 times, the Mets (51-55) 6 times, and the Diamondbacks (46-60) 4 times, with 11 of those 17 games at home.

So the big picture, the important thing is this: the Braves have lost an opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the Nationals. Now the Nationals have an opportunity to do that to the Braves. From August 29 on the teams’ schedules are very similar. Time to go to work, Nationals – no guarantees obviously, but your good play over the last few weeks has created an opportunity. Carpe diem!

Booyah Suckah! said...

John, my "always has been a LOOGY" was hyperbole and probably less than accurate, but I stand by my assessment of Blevins. Whatever he may have been or may be in the future, as he currently pitches, the guy has virtually no ability to get outs against righties. He's awful in that respect.

As for the rest, Stammen is a long reliever and is more than capable of pitching 3-4 innings if it went that far. He's also very athletic and a halfway decent batter in his own right. I would have no problem leaving him up there to hit in anything but a RISP-with-two-outs situation.

Personally, I hate the "trying to save the bullpen" argument. It's exactly like the "closer pitches the ninth" argument to me. Sure, the ninth might be the most important. But if we'd had a shutdown 8th, maybe the ninth wouldn't have mattered. The "save the bullpen" argument is the same horse-hocky. I want to save these guys because I might need them tomorrow. Yeah, you might. But you definitely need them right now. Soriano was flaming out, Blevins has shown ZERO ability this season to get outs against righties. A win in that game counts just as much as a win in the not-yet-played game next week when you MIGHT need a fresh bullpen. That's not logic, it's tradition, and a terrible way to make decisions.

Booyah Suckah! said...

Besides, if we burn through the bullpen, I might get to see LaRoche pitch, which would make my life.

Froggy said...

John C , your reply posts are way too long. As for your comment on my comment about Sorryano, I haven't seen every game he has pitched but EVERY game I have seen him pitch in he has given up at least a walk or a hit (or more) in the inning. I've seen him pitch at least 15-20 times this year and it seems like he can't get a save without some sort of drama. Period.