Nationals Baseball: Are the Nats stupid?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Are the Nats stupid?

This isn't about their fielding. Yes, the defense has been terrible.  I've been saying all off-season that I was worried about the defense and hell if I'm going to not play up the one time I'm right. Outside of Rendon the Nats had no one young and great at D on the field. That means the whole shebang might decline and for some (I'm looking at you, Werth. It's easy for me to do that because you move so slowly) decline means a descent into awfulness. The injuries matter too because they took great fielders (and Werth) off the field and there is no telling if we'll get great fielders (and Werth) back. Add in a Yuney Escobar that might have become unable to field now moving to a new position, in place of an actually good fielder, and there were red flags all over the place. Now, I didn't see Desmond becoming Bootsy McThrowaway but hey, we can't get them all.

Nor is it about their hitting. Right now the team is hanging its hat on Yunel Escobar and Clint Robinson. That sound like something you'd hear about an expansion team, not a World Series contender. It's a slow start cross the board. One of the issues with a superstar less offense (and that's what the Nats are - though potential lies with Bryce and Rendon) is that while there are no holes to the offense, there is no one that's going to carry you either. Instead of one guy, prone to be hot anyway, being hot and driving the team forward, a certain number (at least 5, maybe 6 or even 7) have to be "not slumping" to keep the engine humming. With the injuries pulling three regulars out that basically means everyone has to be on, or one of the replacements has to hit.  The Nats are nowhere near that.

The hope though, is that when these guys get back and get acclimated things will be better. That's a fair hope. Werth is already back. Span is on the fast track. Rendon is looking like he won't be missing months.

Then why might the Nats be stupid? Because of this
Williams said Rendon is taking ground balls at both second and third base in Viera. For now, at least publicly, the Nationals aren’t prepared to say where Rendon will play once he returns...
You know what. I've already decided. The Nats ARE stupid, because even if Rendon ends up at 3rd and Escobar at 2nd like they should, they are considering doing this. They admit that 2nd base involves more twists and turns and pressure on the knee and yet they are making Rendon take grounders at 2nd. Rendon who just hurt his knee and has been out becuase that knee seems slow to heal. They are doing this because Yunel Escobar seems comfortable at third and they don't want to force him to change positions mid season. Yunel Escobar. The man who over the last three seasons has hit .256 / .318 / .350 with 25 homers total. The man who they brought in hoping his slick-fielding at SS would come back. They want him to play third and they want to move Rendon back to 2nd. Let's say this again.

The are at least entertaining the thought of moving Anthony Rendon, their 24 year old who finished 5th in the MVP voting, back to second, increasing his chance of injury so Yunel Escobar, their 32 year old "stopgap to Trea Turner" who was possibly the worst regular shortstop in the majors last year, can play third.

AAAAAAAA! It doesn't make sense. 

It so much doesn't make sense I'm convincing myself this isn't about Escobar. It's about dealing Desmond now, shifting Yuney to SS and getting a 3rd baseman. That's the only way it makes sense right? Of course who would trade a young good 3rd baseman with control for a SS with one year left? No one right? Doesn't make sense. Maybe they do go after Beltre then and Yuney can be the Beltre stop gap for Texas while their young guys get a little more playing time. Yes, that's it. They are about to trade Cole and Escobar over the Texas for Beltre. You heard it here first!

The Nats AREN'T stupid. They are sneaky! Right Rizzo? Right?

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is spot on. I really hope a trade is in the works, because if "Rendon at second" isn't deliberate misinformation and is actually the plan, then WTF?

Froggy said...

Agree with the whole post Harper in particular the Desmond trade scenario. I have a feeling there is interorganizational chatter of Zimmermann and Desi trades that has got in both their heads and lays credence to their 'traded man walking' level of play. Doesn't it seem the fire is gone, and they both would rather not be here anymore? I would put money down one or both are gone by the AB.

Chaz R said...

Very interesting Harper. I did think it odd the Nats were considering moving Rendon back to 2B; it really doesn't make any sense unless they intend to go out and get someone for 3B. With Texas' injuries to Darvish and now Holland, and the Nats being pitching rich, a Beltre deal would make sense. Man, I hope you're right.

Mitch said...

When we hear about the coaches trying to convert Scherzer to a "pitch-to-contact" pitcher, then yes, yes they are stupid. Until then, there is hope.

Clip&Store said...

Hey on the bright side, at this rate we can keep Desmond AND JZimm for cheap!!

IPLawguy said...

This is stupid. And playing Werth in the field in an AL Park is stupid too. A guy with very little conditioning warm up, no wheels and a reconstructed shoulder should not be roaming around Fenway when he could just as easily DH.

Sec314

JWLumley said...

Are the Nats stupid, the prosecution presents exhibit A: Matt Williams. Case closed the Nats are stupid because you'd have be stupid to make that hire. Really, I think for all of their talk about grit and gamers, the Nats biggest issue is that they continue to draft and/or develop players incapable of working counts. The only players who work counts (Zim, Harper, Werth & Rendon) either didn't play in the Nats system under Rizzo or weren't in the minors for very long. This mean starters go longer and they get into bullpens less. It also means fewer AB's against pitchers pitching out of the stretch.

They don't shift as much because Ian Desmond can't play defense in April and blah, blah blah blah,

What really gets me is all of the stupid little things that aren't so much about the ultimate effect, but the idiotic process that these answers are arrived at, like: Hey let's bat the strikeout prone low-OBP Taylor first because that's where Span hits. Or Dan Uggla is going to be good again, and even though he's had some terrible AB's and Espinosa had some good ones, let's just stick with Uggla. Or my favorite, despite all evidence to the contrary, let's get Tyler Moore some AB's in the big leagues.

Anthony Rendon said...

The nats are not stupid enough to endanger Rendons knee so Escobar can play third. This is either part of a trade as Harper said or it's Rizzos pride about keeping info away from other teams. Does it matter if other teams have this info? No, but Rizzo is a conceited man.

Offensively Harper has shown pop but I think he feels that if he doesn't hit a home run every game then the nats won't get any runs.

ZNN and desi have looked terrible I don't care if we trade them at this point, but if we trade them don't trade them for mike olt and a minor leaguer.

Anonymous said...

Has a manager ever been manager of the year one year and then been fired the next?

Anthony Rendon said...

Also the nats don't believe in taking walks and try to convert all their pitchers into ground ball pitchers who don't strike out anyone. I love fister but that approach won't work with everyone.( and as long as Desmond is playing defense it will only make unearned runs much more frequent)

Anthony Rendon said...

Anonymous
Buck Showalter 94 fired after 95.
Davey Johnson 97 resigned immediately
Joe girardi 06 fired before he won the award
Matt Williams 14 Forced to resign by JWLumley in 2015

Kenny B. said...

Any chance this is Williams's deference to Escobar's veteranyness, and the fact that he has played reasonably well (compared to the dismal play of most everyone else)? Both are pretty scary if you think it should be more of a numbers game, but neither would be shocking given what we know about Matt Williams.

I will assume that I'm wrong, and that Rizzo is more directly involved in this decision as part of some kind of sneaky plan as Harper describes, but I'm concerned—nay, very concerned—that we are seeing the impact of Matt Williams here.

Harper said...

Just looking at the AL add Tony Pena to that list - a lot only got 2 more years post award season. Frank with the O's, Gene LaMont, Jimy Williams, John McNamara, Buck with the Rangers, Eric Wedge.

NL 2 more year list Frey, lanier, Zimmer, Baker (after 3rd MOY), McKeon, Melvin, Pinella

basically 20-25% of all MOY winners have two more Opening Days coaching their teams.

NatsVA said...

One thing we can all agree on is that Matt Williams is in pretty far over his head in terms of managing a team. Can't believe this guy won Manager of the Year. The "8th inning guy" stuff is borderline criminal.

DezoPenguin said...

Well, Escobar playing was always part of the plan, anyway. He's supposed to be the 2B and Rendon the 3B. So it's not about giving him playing time. It *may* be because they figure the defense would be better that way (I'm not sure why they think that, given Rendon's track record).

I would *like* it to be because they're going to throw Roark or Cole and Desmond at Texas for Beltre (I've wanted Beltre for a couple of years now), but the problem is, Texas isn't going to pay for a one-year rental even if Ian is playing like 2012-13 Ian. So if they're trading Ian, he's not going to Texas, but maybe in a three-team swap that brings back Beltre and some relief pitching?

Anthony Rendon said...

Harper
Yeah I saw all the two year managers but decided not to add them. It is one of the most worthless awards because the voting is done before the playoffs the most crucial time to manage.

JWLumley said...

@Anthony Rendon - Well played sir, well played. Also, big fan of yours, make my son watch video of your swing, it's perfect.

JWLumley said...

@Harper Yup, I remember the Dusty Baker firing. Giants fans were literally dancing in the streets. He was the worst, worse than even MW. Give Russ Ortiz the game ball and bring in a guy who's shoulder is falling off, because Nen was their guy in the 9th (sound familiar?) Even though I absolutely love Rob Nen, Dusty knew--unlike anyone else--how bad Nen was hurt and he let the World Series ride on that. That's why Sabean fired him, along with his ego.

Matt Williams is the worst and every time someone says "The Big Marine" I want to fight him even more. Marine is a title that is earned, earned I tell you through 3 grueling months that would stretch professional athletes physically. You did not earn that Mr. Williams so stop using it.

WiredHK said...

When I read the title of this post, I thought we were going to have a conversation about the 3rd inning yesterday. Because, man, did I ask this question out loud about several of our fielders in that inning (and in many other innings this year).

Watching the Nats "play" defense this year is like watching the Caps in playoff games every year: you know something very bad is lurking, and usually it will be far worse than you can dream up....

cass said...

I was confused when I saw that report cause the idea of moving Rendon from third was just so nonsensical it made no sense. Just hoping that's the last I hear of it.

The Nats have been unwatchable. Kinda literally. Turned off the radio yesterday at work cause I couldn't take it anymore. Turned off Friday's game cause it was awful and skipped Saturday and Sunday figuring things wouldn't be better til Werth came back. Unwatchable.

Rendon and Span cannot return soon enough. Really hope I don't have to turn off Strasburg tonight but these guys have been brutal.

Anonymous said...

1. It is conceivable that the better infield defense is with Rendon at 2B and Escobar at 3B. I have to believe that the improvement from 3B-Rendon + 2B-Escobar to that is minimal, though. And the added injury risk to Rendon cannot possibly be worth the marginal improvement. So the two plausible explanations are: (1) a possible trade that would require Rendon to play 2B; (2) fear of alienating Escobar, who doesn't like 2B. One of these two explanations makes the Nats stupid if Rendon plays 2B when he comes back. Really really stupid.

I think MW is a terrible tactician. His bullpen usage is abhorrent and his lineups have been dreadful. I don't see the former changing any time soon but today's lineup gives me (a very very small amount of) hope about the latter. I've long thought Werth belongs at the top of the lineup, certainly ahead of Bryce and he's hitting #2 today. Taylor - who I like - is not a leadoff hitter and today is hitting #9. I can only hope that Span hits #8/#9 when he comes back.

Anonymous said...

I just got word that Cedeno has been DFA'd. This may be the first smart decision The Nats have made this season.

JWLumley said...

@Anon Yeah, they DFA'd Cedeno, but didn't even bring up Hill, instead they brought up a 30 year old career minor leaguer.

Bjd1207 said...

They also shuffled the lineup to get more OBP up top.

If we're gonna slam them this hard, we also gotta admit when they do what we said we wanted.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the 30yo career minor leaguer will do well.and serve to motivate some of the non-performing *veterans*

K-Ray said...

I really do hate Matt Williams. But i'll give him credit for making all the changes i wanted him to make today.

Wally said...

Cass - how was that bottom of the 7th? Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water. Almost incredible to watch these guys right now. At least I give Treinen credit for pitching fairly well - three weak contact grounders. But that play at home looked suspiciously like the Barrett yips. And without piling on Matty boy, why was Thornton in there to face three righties?

Generally I am more in the talent/stats camp over intangibles, but I will say that the bullpen needs some guys that don't rattle. Too many inexperienced guys in key roles.

Richard Parker said...

Nats may solve their own problems, depending on how you look at it. After tonight, would anyone pay big money for Strasburg or their alleged "shortstop?" Come to think of it, how much would they pay for ZNN?

Yeah, yeah I know it'll all straighten out in the long run. Tonight was quite irksome, though.

Froggy said...

To answer your blog post question Harper:

Yes. The Nats are stupid.

*mostly Rizzo and Matt 'don't call hIm Big Marine' Williams*

JWLumley said...

Rendon at 2B is criminal, I'll give MW credit for tweeking the LOLineup, finally. That game didn't even hurt it was so laughable. Treinen booted a ball, but it was yet another Desmond error that started it. He got away with one yesterday that could/should have been an error, he should be given the benefit of the doubt, but if he's sitting at 15-20 errors come May, he would be almost unplayable at the most important defensive position. Also, there's plenty of room here on the Danny Espinosa bandwagon if anyone would like to hop on.

The Nats will be fine. Games like last night are so fluky they remind me at least that it's early. It's idiotic decision making through even more idiotic process that concerns me over the long haul. Decision making won't regress to the mean. I think MW did a much better job last night managing the bullpen. Strasburg still can't locate, I think guys like Big Fat Bartolo Colon show that location is way more important than velocity. To me that's the current Moneyball if you will. Pitchers who can locate and change speeds are the undervalued commodity.

Anonymous said...

@JW - I agree about the location over velocity 100%. However it has been that way over a long period of time. Teams will never take a righty throwing mid-upper 80's with a great repertoire of pitches and pinpoint control - a "true pitcher" if you will. They will almost always draft or sign a "thrower" who can gun it 95 mph. You can teach control, you can't teach 95 has always been the mantra, which is very unfortunate because the former is art in motion - watching a Greg Maddux

JWLumley said...

@Anon - If you can teach control, I wish someone would get around to teaching Strasburg. Besides, he's not the flamethrower he once was. There's a big difference between 95-97 and 92-94. You can make location mistakes at 97,not so much at 92.

Jay said...

A couple of things. I think MW was trying to win last night's game no matter what. Thus you bring Thornton in to face Ortiz in the 6th. It's a big situation, but what if Ortiz comes up in the 8th and Nats are still ahead? Could have blown up, but in the end didn't matter. I think that is why he left Thornton in the 7th. Hoping that could get to Treinen. Didn't work - fine bring in Treinen to work 7th and 8th. Didn't work. They miss Clippard. Not just for his pitching, but also bc he helped to settle out roles in the bullpen. Guys know Clippard and Storen had the 8th and 9th in most cases. Last year the Nats lost when leading after 6 innings twice. We know how this year has gone. They need Jansen back and give him the 8th. Much different bullpen then.

As far as Rendon - I'm a big believer in maximizing WAR relative to position. Rendon at 2nd is great - if you have a very good 3rd baseman. Escobar has no business at 3rd if Rendon is back. But Rendon at 2nd and Beltre at 3rd (or something similiar) is a no brainer. Rendon at 2nd is probably the 2nd best 2b in the league. Though he is probably top 5 for 3b. That's why I think Harper in CF is a no brainer. He is above average defensively, but more importantly he is probably top 3 CF offensively. We can get an above average RF, an elite CF (which is what I think Harper would be) is a much different story.

Jay said...

Oh by the way. Stammen to DL with forearm tightness. Could it be bc MW has pretty much had him pitch or warm up for almost every game this year. I didn't like Cedeno, but when I saw MW had him warm up 5 days in a row I felt pretty bad for Cedeno. MW is irritating and probably not a very good manager. If he starts blowing up arms bc he can't manage a bullpen then changes need to be made.

JWLumley said...

@Jay Totally agree about maximizing WAR at each position, especially Harper in CF. Even if he were only league average or neutral defensively offensive value would be worth it. As for Rendon, normally I'd agree, but given injury concerns they should go another route. Lot more lateral movement at 2B which can be tough on the MCL.

Jay said...

JWL - I don't disagree on Rendon and his MCL. In a perfect world I'd have him at 2b, but with his injury history and now his MCL 3rd is probably better.

Stammen's arm - I looked and Stammen pitched in 4 of last 5 games. Thanks MW.