Nationals Baseball: All the information we have

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

All the information we have

2-6 is 2-6. Except when it isn't.

Both the equivalency and its opposite apply to the Nats.

2-6 is 2-6 in that going 2-6 for a week and a half now has the same effect on your record as doing it in May, or July, or Septemeber. On one hand that means you shouldn't worry about it. Last year's team (again under .500 on June 1st), went 2-6  three different times. The 2012 team never went 2-6 but they went 0-5 a couple times and 3-7. It, or something relatively close to it, happens, even for mid 90 win teams.

On the other hand teams that fail to realize these games can't be dismissed are teams that miss out on the playoffs by a game. They blame a single late season bad start or muffed play but should really blame the dozens of "could have been"s over the course of the year. Play hard, try to win every day, solve the problems at hand as soon as you can (like the Cedeno DFA), and don't shrug things off with "it's a long season" because you don't know how the season is going to turn.

2-6 isn't 2-6 in that when analyzing a team during a current season you have to factor in the data at hand. For those other Nats teams there was a lot more data, not just the 2-6, to help us figure out what kind of team we were dealing with. For this team, we only have the 2-6. What the 2-6 tells us is nothing good. The depth and quality of offensive talent is not strong enough that it can suffer through injuries. Sure it looks like Span and Rendon will join Werth sooner rather than later, but this is an injury prone team. The defense, which had a couple question marks, is failing. The bullpen, robbed of two of its better arms (Soriano and Clippard) and two useful ones (Detwiler and Blevins - Detwiler wasn't as bad as you think and Blevins at least had LHB flummoxed, if not a bounce back in him), is a mish mash of maybes with none of the clear hierarchy that can help a young manager out.  

But 2-6 is just 8 games so the data size is small. With 50 games under your belt last year, you could have questioned the Nats. They turned out fine. The data says bad things, but the data also says "there's a good chance I don't know what I'm talking about"

One thing that helped the Nats out in 2014 though was the lack of true challenger. On June 1st, they would be only 3.5 behind the Braves, a half game behind the Marlins, a half game ahead of the Mets and only 2.5 ahead of the Phillies. The Nats would go four games over in June. If they went .500 the rest of the year after that, that still would have given them the NL East. The Braves, Phillies, and Marlins would all play well under .500 for the rest of the year. If there are no challengers this year should go roughly the same. If someone rises up things start to look worrisome. The good thing is no one really has exploded from the gate but both the Braves and Mets are set up that they could over the next two weeks. You may not believe in the Braves but that's a good staff and the Mets were a possibility to start the year.

This season has stunk so far, but it's also not even 5% over. The next week or two will be telling on if you have to turn this "what the hell is wrong" into actual concern or if it's just a fluke of timing in the expected march to a title.


Chaz R said...

It's really rather shocking. I think we all expected them to struggle on offense without Span, Rendon, and Werth, but who would have expected a nearly complete collapse on offense and defense? I don't think anyone could have predicted they would be this best bad... and perhaps they're not, and this collapse is a short term bump that should be expected of any team. Wow, but what timing- the first week?!

JWLumley said...

Yeah, it's early. The things that concern me are the issues I see potentially continuing. Zim won't hit under .200, neither will Desmond. Harper will get hot, so will Werth. Span and Rendon will help. I'm worried Ramos is losing bat speed, but that could be a timing thing.

As for the bullpen, I don't think it's so bad from a talent perspective. Despite last night, I like Treinen. If not for multiple errors and Desmond deciding not to try to get the play at the plate, the strategy worked. If MW can stick with that type of strategy, I see no reason to expect the bullpen to have to pitch around 3 errors a night.

Anthony Rendon said...

Harper to clarify you are not claiming soriano would be useful this season just that they lost one who was useful for a little more than half of last season?

Who agrees with me bench desi and start espi.(who actually has not been horrendous at the plate)

I like treinen but I would prefer to see Barrett pitch a little more instead of Blake everyday.

Harper said...

AR - yes. Soriano was good most of last year. This year... I wouldn't be against signing him for some minimal deal but the way last season ended I'd have no confidence he'd be useful.

WiredHK said...

A quick word about Desi (who is symbolic of our year so far):

Ian is pressing, that's my final summation. He has entered the year as an FA-to-be looking for a big payday and he is pressing. This is the kiss of death for a ballplayer - you grip the bat too tight, you have doubt on every routine play and your worst fears start to come true (you make them true). He may or may not be fine - to me, it is purely between the ears and when/if that gets worked out for someone is totally their own journey.

I was angry at his play these first 8 games, but once I really thought about what was happening, I'm relaxed about it (not under our control as fans whatsoever, anyway).

I wish him the best and hope he works his way out of it, he's been a great asset to this team over the past decade.

Froggy said...

I'm worried because we only have 154 games left to turn things around.

Mitch said...

Yes it's early, yes there are injuries, etc. But Tim Hudson's comments from last year (that the Nats might lack...something) just won't get out of my head. I refuse to watch until they get their **** together, but for those who watched last night, was there an impending sense of doom? I checked the box in the 6th or 7th with a two-run lead and thought "no friggin way they are holding this lead." I didn't even entertain the notion that they might actually *add* runs after that.

It's April 15 and I already need a break from baseball. Ugh.

BooyahSuckah! said...

8 games, for comparison's sake, is equal to 2 minutes 57 seconds into the first quarter of a football game. So, you know.

I watched last night, and I actually felt hopeful on the whole. I was despondent when it got out of hand. I was transported with joy when they not only tied it but pulled ahead. I chuckled (with a touch of gallows humor) when Desi misplayed the shot up the middle. And I literally averted my eyes when Treinen double-errored to give the game away.

But I'll tell you something: Last night's game (and the resulting loss) felt to me like an "eh, that's baseball" type of loss, versus the "oh my god, what the hell is happening" variety we've been dealing with so far this season.

As for Desi, I reiterate my cautionary comment from a few weeks back when certain folks were actually back-handedly hoping for an injury to him so it would be easier to resolve his contract situation: the Baseball Gods punish that kind of hubris. The guy is basically the only healthy player left, and he can't field his way onto a Little League team. THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT FOR HOPING FOR AN INJURY. You got injuries. Just to everyone else. Congrats.

Anonymous said...

How bout today's lineup? Moore in, espy out, Desmond still in the field. Makes me feel just giddy

Froggy said...

Why do I get the feeling that MW is treating the first two weeks of the season as a continuation of spring training? Maybe it's because he hasn't fielded the same batting order two games in a row or maybe it's because he hasn't sat his error machine SS down for a game and told him to pull his head out.

Focus on the seams of the baseball Desi and you'll be fine.

DezoPenguin said...

I have to admit, I have no faith in Williams as a manager. He just has no ability (that we can discern from external evidence) to think outside of neat little boxes. His lack of creativity leads to him being unable to respond when crap starts to go wrong: injuries to the lineup, bullpen management.

The good news is that starting pitching has been excellent. Scherzer is earning his money, though he's getting no help. Only Stras has been shaky twice out, so far. We could just as easily be 6-2 or 5-3 if the bullpen didn't choke on command.

Werth is already back, which helps a ton by getting rid of Moore. (Can we please keep Robinson instead of him, Rizzo? Pretty please?) Taylor hasn't been awful--at the least, he's been as good as "expected Span" if nowhere near "surprisingly really good Span from 2014." Escobar actually showed up and played, which a lot of us were dubious about. Yesterday and today the offense finally woke up; hopefully this is a sign of good things (at least, unlike the Braves, we don't anticipate having to win everything 2-1 and 1-0 all season).

The bullpen, though, that worries me. I trust Storen well enough until October rolls around. But Janssen is already injured, and Stammen (one of the few remaining guys I had actual faith in) is now on the DL. Cedeno's been DFA'd. Blevins and Clip were traded. That leaves Thornton, Barrett, Treinen, Roark...and who knows what else. I have no idea about Martin. They called up Taylor Jordan to replace Stammen, which means that the bullpen now includes our 6th, 7th, and 8th (or 9th, if you think Cole's ready) starters in the 'pen. This scares me. Like several other commenters, I basically assume we're going to give away 2-4 runs over the 7th and 8th innings.

Anonymous said...

Just saw a picture of Ramos running the description said "Nats catcher Ramos dashes down the first base line" I have never seen him "dash" in my life maybe waddled is a better term

Donald said...

For whatever MW's shortcomings may be, I can't really blame him for the slow start. It feels to me like the blame lies with the players just not executing. Either they aren't hitting or they aren't fielding or they aren't pitching well. I don't think he has a lot of control over that. He could have tinkered with the order a bit, but he's done that some, and it's not like the #1 and #2 hitters are the issue. A lot of guys called for him to bench Desi and then Desi breaks out with the bat. So who knows if that would have been right. He has played C. Robinson more.

And bullpen management has always seemed a bit of a crapshoot. When the guy you put in there performs, you are a genius and when he doesn't, it's your fault. You can clearly point to dumb bullpen decisions, but most of what MW has done seems rational if uninspired.

Maybe it's that he doesn't know how to motivate guys? I don't know. To a degree, he's in a tough spot where the guys that can field can't hit and the guys who can hit can't field. With the team hitting for crap and making a ton of errors, what do you do?

I will say whoever decided to cut bait with Cedeno made the right call, though.

Hopefully the team settles down and wins a few in a row.

Bjd1207 said...

Anybody get eyes on Martin? Was he as good as the statline says?

Wally said...

I saw him. It was odd, since he threw almost only fastballs at 88-89. Command looked pretty good and he seemed to pitch well up in the zone, but I didn't see a lot of movement on the ball. Batters clearly were swinging late, but don't know if it was delivery deception or late afternoon shadows. I was puzzled why he didn't throw his slider more often, since I'd heard it was his best pitch. He threw a few early, and it broke a ton, almost like a submariner. Maybe he didn't think he could control it yesterday. He shook off Ramos quite a bit, who I assume kept calling for a slider.

Physically, he reminded me of Joel Peralta.