The Hot Take
It's all about hubris. The Nats had too much pride. "Mike Rizzo's Nationals" "Where's my ring?" maybe even "hitting a baseball is the hardest thing in the universe" They didn't learn from 2013 and they still expect things handed to them. Of course the problem with this take is that the biggest egos are the guys actually getting things done. Rizzo did put together a team that's been one of the best in baseball the past three years. Bryce is doing well. So it may not make the most sense but it is the one fans may relate to the most. They are angry. Give them a target.
It's all about the injuries. All those offensive ones. Stammen. Zimm looks hurt. The Nats just need time to get Werth and Span and Rendon all back healthy. Then the offense will click and away they go! The question is merely if they can weather the time until that happens. It's certainly the optimistic take and it does have some merit. Werth and Span aren't quite right yet. Rendon was that important last year. But this team shouldn't be this bad should it?
In 2013 the Nats spent 4 months struggling to get over .500. In 2014 they couldn't get out of their own way until June. They are 72-38 in August & September. What is it about the Nats that they can't start well and how do we fix it? This is a good one if you don't like Matt Williams because it places some blame on the manager unlike the first two. You can easily spin this into a questioning piece on the rookie manager (check out that bullpen usage) however 2013 was under Davey so the pattern extends beyond just Matt. If it's even a pattern.
The Nats are not built for this year. They are built for no year. Steven Souza looked to be a very good 4th OF option for 2015... but he could be turned into a SS for the future. Tyler Clippard was going to be an indispensible 8th inning guy in 2015... but he could be turned into a bridge SS. Jerry Blevins was a useful LOOGY type for 2015... but he could be turned into some cash. Despite a team full of injury issues and actual injuries the bench was not strengthened. Despite a pen that looked shaky the relief arms were not supplemented. That's money not in 2 or 3 year deals that the Nats are now able to save for better players next season. If the Nats just go 90% in then 2016 and beyond looks that much better. 90% is good enough right?
The Nats aren't being specific. They aren't trying to win in 2015. They are being general. They are trying to win constantly. That's good if you like a good team constantly, but unless you spend a ton it leads to a team that is not great top to bottom. It will have some holes. For the Nats it's a team with a great surface offense but a questionable bench, a great rotation but a bad middle relief. It's a team that if the surface gets scratched too much the flaws really show. Maybe this is the team Mike Rizzo wants, maybe it's the team Lerner makes him build, but it's the team you have.