Nationals Baseball: We were warned

Thursday, October 09, 2014

We were warned

Short post today as I take a little break.

But something "fun",  someone asked if the Nats had ever hit this bad. Using the baselines of 9 runs in 5 games (since that is essentially what the Nats played) and a .480 OPS, my perusing of the batting gamelogs for this season found that the answer is no. The Nats never hit that poorly.

However they did come really close. These things are shifty (you can usually move a game or few in either direction and it still doesn't look great) but here are some bad 5 game streaks they did go though.
  • April 17th-21st :  11 runs, .533 OPS
  • May 6th-11th : 10 runs, .539 OPS
  • May 21st-26th (6G) : 14 runs, .588 OPS
  • June 11th-15th : 10 runs, .469 OPS
Those are some pretty lousy stretches but there are some line-up explanations. In the same order : 
  • No Zimm or Ramos and Span was out a couple games. 
  • Zimm still out, Bryce out, Ramos comes back but not everyday yet, LaRoche goes out
  • Zimm still out, Bryce still out, LaRoche comes back a few games in
  • Zimm back!, Bryce still out, Ramos out again,
So none of these times had the line-up that the Nats had at the end of the season and even if you say "Hey missing Zimm it pretty important!", most of these have him missing too.  In terms of full line-ups or at least in terms of the line-ups the Nats put out versus the Giants the playoff series was an anamoly.

Ok but you titled this "We were warned" - what the hell does that mean? A little schedule look please
  • STL,LAA
  • LAD,@OAK
  • CIN(1), @PIT, MIA(1)
  • @SFG,@STL
Except for 2 games around that Pittsburgh series all these bouts of terrible hitting came against playoff teams. The Nats had a .714 OPS for the season. They hit roughly that versus the Dodgers and much worse versus the Pirates and Cards. They faced 3 AL playoff teams and hit worse than their average against all 3. (terribly vs LAA and OAK). The only team they hit well? San Francisco.  In games Vogelsong started. HAHAHA. Seven of their 17 wins versus these teams were one-run affairs.

I don't want you to take away "THE NATS CAN'T HIT GOOD TEAMS!!!" because we run into a problem if you try to do that. The Nats played 37 games against playoff teams but only 10 after the All-Star game and only 13 after the 15th of June. It's a chicken and the egg type of argument. Did the Nats hit poorly versus these teams because they were good or because they happened to play them when they hurt?  Did they hit better in the 2nd half of the year because they were healthy or because they started to play more bad teams? It's hard to tease out. They didn't hit badly versus these teams in the 2nd half, which would tend to suggest injuries mattered more.

I can tell you this :

WAS: .736  .660  .076
STL: .695 .682 .013
PIT: .737 .730 .007
LAD: .758 .704 .054
SFG: .715 .670 .045

The first number is the team OPS versus teams under .500. The second number is the team OPS versus teams over .500. The third number is the difference. As expected every team's production drops, but no team had a great a drop in production as the Nats did. Of course to add the usual shaker of salt - the only teams this adds to the analysis is MIL and SEA.

Was it bad luck? Or was it something else? Regardless of what we think and what can be proven, at the very least this was a warning sign that the offensive outage of the playoffs was a possibility.

37 comments:

Ollie said...

Whenever you have the chance, can we get a deeper dive on the starters that they played against for those teams? Might go a long way in settling the "Nats can't hit good teams" question/thought raised by this.

As always, keep up the great work. Thanks for another season of this Harper.

Harper said...

Ollie - yeah there's like an onions worth of layers going on here. I think the idea that the Nats can't hit good teams as a specific problem is probably nonsense.

But at least for me I think I overestimated how good the Nats offense was because they were third in the league and because they made such a good run in the 2nd half. I think I thought too much "IT WAS INJURIES" and dismissed the schedule and thus thought this was a team that could rip it's way to runs versus anyone when in reality it would struggle to score, just like pretty much every team. It was a good offense but not a special one.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Ollie - would love to see a player by player breakdown. For example I've been on the side all season of saying I disagree with you on Span in terms of his value as a lead off, and I know you cooled on the opposition too him, but given the spots he had in the playoffs and some missed defensive production I'm particularly let down by his performance and would love to see if that's been a trend for him all year.

Would also be fun to consider in org/free agent solutions, but we'll have 6 more months to talk about that.

Regardless, just wanted to say thank you for the blog. I love having a talented team in DC to root for as much as the season ending is no fun.

cass said...

Would it make a huge difference if Werth were batting leadoff? He's been great at getting on base his whole career and another year older, we'd expect a drop in power as well. I know Matt will never do this, but isn't Span an ideal #9 hitter since he could be fast on the bases and have guys to drive him in when he does get on base? It's also a bit of a waste to have a pitcher before your best hitters, as discussed by Tango.

Here's my provisional lineup. Maybe we'll talk about this in the long, long offseason. My main point is to move Harper up and Werth into lead-off.

Key question for next year seems to be finding a second baseman. Key question longterm seems to be extending Zimmermann. And Desi?

Werth
Rendon
Zimmerman
Harper
Desmond
Ramos
Second Baseman
(pitcher)
Span

Steamer projections:
http://www.fangraphs.com/projections.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&type=steamer&team=24&players=0&sort=19,d

ocw5000 said...

Harper, great work as always and thanks for the great work all year.

I call this the Mike Morse effect. in 2012 I tried to figure out a way to analyze each of his at bats and the quality of the pitcher he was facing at the time. I was expecting an egregious split between good pitchers and AAAA pitchers. But I never figured out a way to do this. Individual vs. teams should be more feasible.

I really want us to trade for Chase Utley. I know it would cost too much in $ and young talent (Espinosa? Purke?), but he's a proven quality veteran LHB to counterbalance Zim to 1B.

Natsfan51 said...

Harper

Great write up and thanks for a great year. This is the best Nats blog and #2 isn't close.

Stepping back for a minute, I've got to ask myself if now is the time that you really shred this team. They've had essentially three years to learn how to win in the post-season and they didn't get any further from 2012 - in fact they regressed. I mean it's more or less going to happen anyway with LaRoche. But why spend another year on Span - and I love Span. Why not just bring up Taylor now. Sell high on Desi - and I love Desi. Are there any other contracts you could unload. Gio? Espi? Werth? Storen? Even Zim? If I were Rizzo and Lerner, they only ones that would be solid would be Rendon, Harper, Fister, Staus, JZim, and maybe Clip. Everyone else is up for grabs. Too harsh? Maybe but I guess I'm just imagining the same team assembling for Spring Training in 4 months and asking myself, "What's going to be different this time?" This team, for whatever reason, has shown they just can't do it. Sorry. I love them all but this is a business and doing the same thing and expecting different results is....well, you know. Thoughts?

Mitch said...

You're certainly not the only person that thought Werth should be leading off. See pitches, take walks, and the little pop he has left is gravy. I like your lineup but I have a bad feeling about Zimmerman's future with this team. He's a good hitter, yes. But the injuries and lack of ability to throw the baseball are a problem that needs to be addressed soon, in my opinion. I know he's popular around here but I don't see how the team can think they can hide him in 1B or LF and hope he never really has to make an important throw.

John Lushetsky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ocw5000 said...

I would not sell high on Desi. To the contrary, I would extend him now after a "down" year (at least relative to his two previous years). He'll still cost a lot but the Nats can argue that the lower AVG and higher K rate means he's trending the wrong way and should cost less. Of course, if it really is trending the wrong way, then that's not good either.

Seriously though there is no one in the farm system who plays MI besides Tony Renda, who is basically Jose Altuve but without the talent and still in A ball. You'll have to go trade or FA to get help and if you trade Desi, you're trading a sure thing for a maybe. That maybe includes Espinosa as your full-time SS.

Anonymous said...

@ocw5000 I would trade desi and roark for elvis andrus and a strong reliever. Curious how the pure righty-work goes for Espi.

Also we should definitely sign Span and possibly try to trade him mid-year when either Souza/Taylor force the issue. I love Span the way I was a huge fan of Morse, but we need a bat with Souza's potential to at least test the waters with the MLB team.

I like ALR a ton as a person, wish him success wherever he ends up, but at this point it might still be unfair to him to keep him as a bench spot.

JWLumley said...

@Harper Agreed. I don't think this was nearly as good of an offense as people thought it was. My own perceptions on each guy.

Span - Had a nice season, but has been somewhere below and at league average hitter most of his career. Forgot how to hit lefties after 2012.

Rendon - Awesome. One of the best young hitters in the game.

Werth - As old as I am. Still a serviceable bat, but the power is nowhere near what it used to be and he doesn't run like a spring chicken anymore.

LaRoche - Very streaky hitter, capable of carrying a team for a couple of weeks, or going 0 for a couple of weeks. DOES NOT HIT LEFTIES. Also, getting old and power is diminishing. Will take lots of walks when he's going well.

Desmond - Also very streaky, but strikeout prone. Above average offense for a SS, but the strikeouts and inconsistency probably wouldn't play at many--if any--other positions. Doesn't cheat the game by taking walks.

Harper - Your 2015 NL MVP

Ramos - Very promising at one point, but injuries seem to have derailed his career. Completely disappeared down the stretch and in the playoffs. Perhaps he's hurt, but from September forward he was basically replacement level. (.223 wOBA and 36 wRC+ in Sept./Oct.)

Cabrera - His bat really only plays at SS where he's basically a league average hitter, but with some power. Two consecutive seasons with slightly below 100 wRC+ at ages 27 and 28 make me think Fausto Carmona and he may have something in common.

So basically the Nats have two hitters who are very good (Rendon and Harper) two hitters who are above average for their position (LaRoche and Desmond) two guys who most seasons are right around average in Denard Span and Asdrubal Cabrera, one guy who used to be really good, but is in the decline of his career (Werth) and one guy who hit like a pitcher over the last 6 weeks (Ramos).

Not exactly the '27 Yankees. The Nationals needed another true middle of the order bat, but those are hard to find on a moments notice. I mean it's not like they had one sitting on the bench for 4 games and only used him as a PH....I hate you Matt Williams.

cass said...

@Natsfan51

The way I see it, we flipped a coin twice and it came up tails. No reason to throw the coin away.

All the Nats can do is build one of the best teams in the NL and they've done that. Then you face other good teams and you need to get three heads in a row. There's really no way to build a team significantly better than the other good teams in the league. When playing the best teams, you're always just going to be flipping coins.

Ideally, baseball would go back to just 4 playoff teams and make the regular season mean something again. As it is, we've basically got a 162-game exhibition season followed by a tournament. Maybe we should just find other things to worry about in the summer and treat those "regular season" games like Spring Training.

Unfortunately, most people prefer lots of randomness - look how popular the March Coinflip Madness is. Probably cause most people like gambling more than sports. Who knows?

But all the Nats can do is reload the best they can, assemble a good team, and then hope that the coin comes up heads.

I mean, the umpire could have easily called strike on one of those borderline pitches in the ninth inning of Game 2 of 2014 or Game 5 of 2012 and the Nats would've made the NLCS. Those borderline pitches were coin flips in the most literal way. Came up tails. Oh well.

Anonymous said...


I think another thing that needs to be mentioned with respect to that Nats' hitting woes is that Bochy had a specific plan to cause those hitting problems by exploiting the Nats' weaknesses. In contrast, Matt Williams' "plan" against the Giants was to treat the series like a season series in June. Bochy had Javier Lopez assigned to pitch to LaRoche to ensure that LaRoche would not get an RBI-producing hit, he had his pitchers pitch first and second pitch strikes to Werth, he had Ramos pitched away and he had Desmond pitched outside the strike zone. In response, Williams did nothing, other than the one sacrifice bunt by Ramos. Given Ramos' problems with GIDPs, Ramos should have been practicing sacrifice bunting in the weeks leading up to the playoffs. Also, Williams should only have had Zimmerman practicing and playing at 1st base, because of what was likely to happen with LaRoche.

Williams also failed to have a plan to exploit weaknesses of the Giants and to exploit his own team's strengths. For example, in constructing his roster, Williams should have kept Detwiler given San Francisco's left-hand heavy line-up. Every game Williams should have had at least one lefty assigned to pitch to Sandoval in a high leverage situation. Williams should have had his best righty ready to pitch if there was a possibility that Posey could bat with men on base. In general, Williams should have been willing to use his superior starting pitchers out of the bullpen to shorten games, as Zimmerman did in Game 4 in 2012. A good starting pitcher who knows he only is going to pitch an inning or two can be devastating to an opponent. In 2012 the Cardinals looked helpless against Zimmerman in that one inning.

Despite the fact that Williams was on the 2001 Diamondbacks team that is maybe the prime example of how to use your best starting pitchers to win a playoff series, he seemed to learn nothing from this experience.

Ollie said...

If you agree on the "Nationals are baseball's Capitals" narrative then the lineup feasting on worser teams support that. I'm worried about it, but at least we know our pitching comes through in the postseason (even when Matt Williams mangles the bullpen matchups). Seeing how they did against who makes or breaks the speculative part of that narrative (until this window fully shuts we don't know if that's true or not).

I think Bryce may have finally (even though he's yet to be 22) taken the leap towards that dominant bat they need in the middle of the lineup this series. His defense looked pre-HGH Bonds-esque while his homeruns looked like Bonds during his blimp-sized head era. That, coupled with the fact that Williams did most things wrong yet they still almost clawed their way back into winning this series, makes me feel optimistic about next year.

Ollie said...

@ocw5000 I don't disagree with you per se, but Desmond looks like _he is_ trending the wrong way.

Jay said...

I think the Nats have painted themselves into a bit of a corner. You can't trade Desmond, Fister, or Zimmermann. They have 1 year left on their respective contracts. You're not going to get as near as much if they had traded them this past year. Even then it can be dicey. Look at the David Price trade which was essentially a younger Span and a little better Roark for a guy who has won a Cy Young for this past year and next year. Think of what you might get any of the three I listed = not enough.

I think Werth is now officially OLD. He looks bad in the playoffs. Looking back on his year - he was hot in July and that was about it. I would trade him and pay his entire salary if I could, but it unlikely. Either way there is no way he should bat 3rd or 4th.

Personally, I think Span can hit the door. I'd still put Harper in CF and get a big bat for LF. Again not likely to happen. Span just kills me. He didn't hit at all in the playoffs and for long stretches early in the season. Even when he is on base he doesn't steal bases. The one game in the playoffs when he got on base he didn't even try to steal a base. Speed doesn't help you if it's just standing at first the whole time.

Anyway, they need either a 2nd baseman or 3rd baseman (with Rendon going back to 2nd in that case). Lineup as it looks most likely to me next year:

Span
Rendon
Harper
Zim
Werth?

then it becomes very right handed with something like

Desmond
Ramos
2nd baseman
Pitcher

Also, I am hopeful Ramos just needs the offseason to get his power back, otherwise I would move on. Russel Martin would be a nice pick up.

If I have to put up with a 100 games of Espinosa at 2nd next year then I'll beat my head against the wall.

Also, you could keep LaRoche as a back up 1st baseman and bench bat - we all know Zim won't play the whole year.

This sucks. We should still be talking playoff baseball. Oh well.

Natsfan51 said...

@cass

understand that there is randomness in the playoffs and that they are just like a second season. But again, this isn't a single data point. 2012 we could write off to as an over-achieving but immature team. Some personnel, performance, and maturity issues also in 2013. But by the end of this year, this team was firing on all cylinders just as it was designed. It performed to it's full potential but still couldn't get over the hill. I'm sorry, the playoff collapse was more severe than can be attributed to randomness and while MW clearly had a role, it just seems like there is some other ceiling, even if I can't put my finger on it. Maybe Rizzo figures it out. It will be interesting to see his off season moves.

John C. said...

Blowing this team up would be a terrible idea. For one thing, as Jay noted, many of their trade pieces are one year from free agency, basically rent-a-players. They're not going to get return for them. Werth* and Zimmerman aren't going to bring as much return as you'd like. The players that would get a decent return (Harper, Rendon, Roark, the top prospects) are exactly the players the Nats would want to hang on to if they were blowing this up.

No, this is a "win-now" team and will be for at least the next two seasons, possibly longer. Get used to watching this core play baseball.

*The idea that Werth is in decline offensively is pretty silly, given that he led the team in OPS at .849- ten points above his career OPS when offense is down in baseball overall - and he stole nine of ten bags he tried for. His power is down, but power across the league is down. Where he's really feeling his age, IMHO, is in the field.

JWLumley said...

Also, as for Span. Exercise the option and deal him for a 2B and/or catcher. The Nats need offense, and unlike other teams who just need it and don't have a solution, the Nats have Souza. Yes, they'll lose defense with Harper in CF, but the Nats have a staff full of strikeout pitchers, so a CFer is less valuable to them. Not to mention that an OF of Werth, Harper and Souza would shut down teams trying to take an extra base.

Re-sign Desmond, because offense from SS's is non-existent in the big leagues as is power.

And if someone calls this offseason with a good enough package for Strasburg, take it, but only if they take Matt Williams too.

Anonymous said...

Baseball fans are fickle :). I hate boswell's article because he captures some of the right sentiment but his actual evidence and conclusion is just wrong. As for turning on the players on this team - I don't think dumping the roster and the manager are the right call (seems somewhat panicked doesn't it?)

ALR walks. Desi, Span and Roark can be trade chips. Asdrubal might walk too. Everything else stays the same. The bats you need most are already in the organization (Zimm, "fingers crossed" Souza + the "what if" righty only Espinosa (????)), and unless Andrus or Yadier are walking in the door soon the other upgrade positions just aren't there.

JWLumley said...

@Anon et. al. I agree that blowing the team up is the wrong thing to do. However, I disagree on the manager. While this may be a revelation to the national media we've been watching this all year long and Keith Law reported back in April/May that rumblings around the game were that MW was in over his head. He needs to go. He won't, but he needs to. The Nationals can make improvements on the edges Zim should be as good if not better than LaRoche, Souza could be better than Span if given the opportunity and I think Espy could be a revelation right handed. His defense is excellent, if he hits .250 with pop he'll be in the big leagues for the next decade.

Zimmerman11 said...

No reason to let Span and LaRoche walk... it's just one more year...And no reason to feel bad about letting them transition to a bench role while paying them starter money either, if the young'uns can outperform them! And it gives you trade potential to make adjustments mid season, depending on how things are working out.

Unless the owners want to continue to cry poverty over the TV rights, and it would prevent them signing someone (Desmond, Znn, Fister)... I understand we won't keep all three, but I might turn off on this team quickly if they don't retain their best talent. That's just not something an Expos fan is going to be able to put up with.

Having LaRoche on the bench to platoon a bit with Zimm, give starters a rest, and cover when the inevitable injuries occur is a big luxury...

ocw5000 said...

There is no way they're getting rid of Span. He just broke the team record for hits and batted .300 in a league where only 7 players batted .300. He plays plus (if not GG) defense in CF, which hides the weaknesses of Werth (old) and Harper (young). I like Souza as much as the next guy but he is not a sure thing and one incredible catch does not a great defender make (for reference see: Shark, The).

Even in a "down" year, Desmond was 2nd in MLB among SS in fWAR. Good luck replacing that in FA. He didn't light it up against the Giants but he played great defense and actually got on base and actually scored these things called runs. Desmond is not the problem.

I agree with all the sentiments that in the playoffs you need bats that scare you. For example, you get to Posey/Sandoval/Pence and you think "uh-oh these guys can hurt us" (well, unless you're MW and have established playoff veteran Aaron Barrett on the hill). The only time the Nats had that was Rendon (Game 2) and Harper (Game 4). We can all agree that those two guys are great and should bat #2 and #3 next year, assuming health. Maybe Zimmerman doesn't have a degenerative shoulder and broken hamstring and the yips next fall and he's your scary #4.

The best option is probably trading something incredibly valuable for Adrian Beltre and moving Rendon to 2B. Because Rendon/Harper/Beltre would scare the crap out of me in the playoffs. But then maybe you don't have Giolito waiting in the wings.

cass said...

Span stole 31 bases and was the 19th-best baserunner in MLB. Rendon was 6th. Desmond 17th. Pretty good speed on this team and that's about more than just stolen bases.

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2014&month=0&season1=2014&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=18,d


I really think some of you are vastly overreacting to a four game sample. Anything can happen in four games. The Nats scored just as many runs as the Giants did.

Gotta keep your good starting pitchers and position players cause the Nats are built to win now and dealing them would be counterproductive. Dealing them for prospects would be a mistake.

The best team rarely wins the playoffs even though the best team has the best chance of winning the playoffs. That's just the way things are. No reason to cripple the team because of four games.

Two division titles in three years. The sky is not falling.

JWLumley said...

@Z11 I can see your point, but--and this could be way off base--Span is not the type of guy to accept a bench role from everything I can tell. This is a guy who bristled and basically threw a fit when they didn't bat him leadoff, what's he going to do when he's on the bench? Also, how do you find out what you have in the young'uns if they're not playing? There's not enough PA's to go around. That being said, I like the idea of having guys like Span and Laroche on the bench, I just don't see MW implementing a plan that informal

Jay said...

The question is do you think Span will hit .300 next year? I doubt it.

The optimist view (and I'll admit I am a bit of an optimist)

Span hits well and we're happy he bats leadoff. Rendon continues to improve and bats second. Harper continues to improve and bats third. Zimmerman ends up being Jeff Bagwell at first and is the big bat in the middle we've been waiting for. Werth does well in the 5 hole. Desmond has a big year in a contract year at 6. Ramos gets his power back and stays healthy. We find a second baseman not named Espinosa.

All of our starting pitching stays healthy. Storen does well as full time closer. Bullpen is even better without Soriano (second half - his first half was great) bringing it down.

Nats get to postseason again. Do not have best record in the NL and advance to NLCS.

Anonymous said...

@OCW et al.

I love Span, and he was fantastic this season. I also think a CF needy team would pay a fortune for him and would get us the power bat we need, and the defensive step down with Souza/Taylor and Harper in CF likely would justify the change. However I would not be upset if the lineup next year was exactly the same with Zimm at 1b and Espi only batting right-handed. Span, Desi and Roark in particular over the long term may be more valuable as trade chips, hence why i mentioned them. I am huge fans of all three, but if we can get a premiere level catcher (I'll throw Ramos in on this) or power bat 2B/3B/LF with slightly above average defense, it would be a step up. I'm looking at the Cubs and Texas in particular.

Anonymous said...

Also I fear how quickly nats fans will turn on Werth... even early this year he carried the team, but he won't be ageless.

Wally said...

I disagree with most here and think the Nats have to trade at least 1 or 2 of the guys who can walk at the end of 2015 as a way to retool on the fly, and extend their window. Otherwise they bet it all on 2015 and then replace these guys with people in the system (ie lesser players) plus supplemental picks which will create a bigger down cycle while they rebuild.

I also disagree with the premise these guys won't bring back anything of value. 1 yr and two months of Austin Jackson just got Nick Franklin, a good MI prospect with a little tarnish on him. All of our guys are noticeably better than Jackson and available for only two months less. If you do it this winter, the acquiring team also gets a supp pick at the end of 2015. I'd put JZimm, Fister, Desi, Clip, Span in this group. I'd try to negotiate contracts with all of them, and trade the two that brought the most back + wanted more than I was comfortable with. If you keep them and don't take their trade value, it is no different conceptually than trading prospects for guys on 1 year deals. I don't mind that sometimes, but I wouldn't make five of those trades in one year.

These are all good players with value, and there are a lot of teams that would want them. No one would give back a sure thing, but they'd give younger players of value and we have to look at it.

JE34 said...

Great teams win playoff games by getting guys on, over, and in (plus great pitching - check!). That requires disciplined at-bats. Because this team lacks danger (except Harper), the average-to-very-good hitters in the lineup need to be (wait for it...) COACHED.

Will someone make Ian Desmond work on situational hitting? He is good, but I believe he could be truly great. Unfortunately, he rarely goes with outside pitches and serves them to right field, and good pitchers exploit this weakness, and he piles up the strikeouts. Can he be coached, or is it too late? I fear that he knows he's among the top 5 shortstops as-is, and need not change to get paid. Get him a mentor (Jeter needs something to do now, right?), and keep him. Rendon is years younger and a far more disciplined hitter.

I think there is something to the idea that the Nats don't hit well against good teams, and that's because good pitchers exploit their many bad habits. The most recent and painful example was following Bryce's 5th inning RBI double. Ramos and Cabrera both had awful at bats, with no one out and a runner in scoring position. First pitch swinging, no patience, both hit balls to the left side. 3 pitches, two outs, Harper still nailed to 2nd base. Against the Giants' weakest starting pitcher. That's inexcusable in the situation. Do big league coaches go over these things with their players?

It also seems like Werth had a lot of badly-fooled swing-and-miss at bats against good teams. That's a feeling more than anything, in need of verification by the cold calculating eye of our gracious host.

Ultimately you can't blow up this team, b/c it's too hard to get this close. Now it's about the small handful of moves required to keep the window to the World Series open for as long as possible. We pray that Souza is ready to become a fearsome everyday player (maybe with some coaching on situational hitting along the way)... we pray that Taylor makes the big league roster and learns Span's glove work, and eventually hits well enough to make it impossible to sit him... and we pray that the team is run as a meritocracy, run by coaches who coach, for cryin out loud.

Until then, Aaron Barrett is the 7th inning guy, and JE34 is the Yell-at-the-radio guy.

WiredHK said...

I know this doesn't fit in this thread, but listening to MW on sports talk radio this morning and it's clear that he either doesn't get it (which blows my mind) or is more stubborn than anyone alive. Either way, to me, this seems like a huge indictment against his ability to learn and improve as a manager going forward. That is a huge red flag to me right now.

I haven't specifically said I'd like him fired up until now, but...this feels like Adam Oates and the Caps last year (for those of you who follow hockey). Ex-player, in over his head, not really cut out to execute critical game management strategy at the highest levels.

As has been covered many times, these teams performed identically on offense. Blaming run-scoring for this series loss is a bit of a copout to me. We were in every single game, and almost without fail, the games came down to management and little things.

This is the NORM for playoff baseball, not the exception. To give this team a chance at winning more than a division pennant, it needs someone running it that completely understands bullpen management. MW not only didn't demonstrate that, he is not demonstrating one iota of analysis about his own performance and mistakes (or, if he is, he sure is doing a great job of appearing not to).

Wally said...

WiredHK - can you share some of what he said? I saw Steinberg's tweet about his Strasburg comment, which was something like 'Stephen didn't pitch in relief because Stephen has never pitched in relief', which turned me into the 'JE34 is the Yell-at-the-radio' guy.

But I'd be curious what else he said. I still can't believe that his failure to use Stras isn't getting more attention.

NotBobby said...

So, we need a 2B next year. Jed Lowrie already said that he would transition to 2B next year if need be. If he doesn't sign again with Oakland, he may be the perfect fit bc he could back up Desi and be insurance in case Desi leaves.

WiredHK said...

@Wally - here's a spot you can go to read all his comments. Some were fine, but some were not (to me).

http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/10/10/matt-williams-candid-end-of-season-interview-on-nationals-season-successes-and-failure/

Pay specific attention to his comments about the inning that did us in, that's where I get most uncomfortable at his response/demeanor. He is fine in his logic to bring Thornton in for two lefties at the start of the inning, but he excuses letting him face Posey ("he handles righties fine") with the season on the line and then suddenly finds Jesus in match-up analysis by getting Barrett to face Pence because "Aaron gets tough righties out" - which, if he thinks that, shouldn't he have been in for Posey? Lastly, he never even mentions the Sandoval AB by name, just mentioned Barrett "then threw a wild pitch to the next batter" basically. He says one time Barrett struck Stanton out, so we should be aware how good he is vs RHB.

The whole vibe (to me) was "ho hum, that's baseball, shrug your shoulders and hit the showers, but second guessing me is just BS hindsight".

He left Clip, Stras, and even Storen and Stammen to lesser extents, sitting on the bench while Thornton faced an All-Star RHB and then a very questionable option and rookie in Barrett faced a great RHB and a dominating LHB (vs RHPs) - on the road, with men on base, in late innings, in a must-win game, in the playoffs.

Having no sense of this being even possibly questionable is incredibly huge, to me, when I listen to him live days later.

Wally said...

Thanks for the link, although I kind of wish that I didn't read it, it just got me worked up again. The two vibes I found troubling: (i) good results trump bad process, and (ii) he doesn't have to actually explain himself or his decisions to the public.

I think the second one is more aggravating, because it seems so arrogant.

Wally said...

Here is another good take on Williams

http://joeposnanski.com/joeblogs/why-do-we-yostify-ourselves/#more-2363

Froggy said...

@WiredHK,
Yup, it is confirmed, MW does not get it. He made the classic mistake, 'this is what happened to me when I played therefore this is what I will do now'. The whole point of having Strasburg warm up in the pen and be ready is getting INSIDE the Giants heads and forcing them to think about it. Can you imagine telling Stras, 'heh kid, go out there and just smoke the next three batters and then you are done'.

Maybe it doesn't work out, maybe it does, but it sure would be better to defend a Strasburg failure than a Barrett disaster. Not to mention the point of pride in knowing we did all we could. Would make the winter easier to choke down.