Nationals Baseball: Wait for it, wait for it...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wait for it, wait for it...

Honestly, if you want to panic now that's fine. The "don't panic yet" statement is based off the idea that you, like me, thought the Nats were about 10 games better than the Mets and you haven't radically altered your expectations. We talked about it the other day but with new information (the terrible start for the Nats, the great one for the Mets) you have to re-evaluate.  If you now view their talent level as being closer then 10 games plus then an 8 game lead at this point may very well be panic time.

Why panic with 142 games left? Because the cushion is gone to catch the Mets based on your current beliefs. We're closing in (or maybe passed - but I always suggest conservative changes) on everyone's personal midpoint, the point where if both teams play at expectations that the Nats take the East. It seems silly that we're here this early (12% into the season) in the season but that's what can happen if you play like the worst team in baseball and the team you are trying to catch plays like the best.

If I'm the Nats what do I do? First I make this the best team I can make it without deals - Uggla is gone, Reed Johnson is gone. Taylor is back as 4th OF giving Span and Werth the rest they seem like they need. I probably bring up Tony Renda too. Difo is better but only in High-A, he really does need more minor league at bats. Renda almost certainly can't hack it but he's reliable at 2nd and a contact hitter and frankly is only here until Rendon gets back.

Then I decide whether Roark is my long man or a short inning guy. If he's the long man use him as such 2+ innings each time out, might be 6th and 7th in a close game, might be mop up in a laugher. If he's the short inning guy - he's Matt's 8th. Matt needs structure - Blake Treinen, Aaron Barrett, Rafeal Martin each have failed to show they are ready.  Don't force it. Matt Thorton is the 7th inning guy. If Roark is long guy then Thorton is 8th and you have to rotate through these other guys in 7th. But say "this is the 7th inning guy" to Matt and let him ride it for a week or two.

Lineup wise just bat Harper second. I know you want him to get RBI chances but this team doesn't get on base and he hasn't driven them in, so just get him as many at bats as you can.

That's what I do.

Also I do break down the season now into smaller chunks. Right now - win the next two games. That's it. Don't think about catching anyone. You have your #1 AJ COLE! Who doesn't love AJ Cole?  and #2 on the mound against a beatable team. Get the job done and we'll talk about the next series when we get there. 


Anonymous said...

I'm not in panic mode quite yet. I'm in fire Matt Williams mode (or severely limit his duties). The play by this stacked lineup has been abysmal. They have shown a complete lack of discipline at the plate, letting pitchers get through 6 innings having pitched all of 70 pitches. In the field, their errors have been largely due to a lack of effort (the two errors on Fister last night should have been blocked by Zimm, he didn't even move his feet) or not thinking (Desmond pulling up short on the ball last night or Ramos "running" down Stanton). And according to multiple sources, the clubhouse is dead. The team is demoralized. They know they're better than this, but can't seem to pull it together. It's so gosh darn frustrating to watch them right now. All of these issues are where a good manager is supposed to be able to fix a team. Get the team focused Matty.

On the bright side, this reddit post makes me excited for Bryce's potential:

G Cracka X said...

The Mets this year kinda remind me of the 2012 Nats: hot start despite multiple injuries, star pitcher on innings limit, probably will fade from the hot start but will still stay strong

Harper said...

Anon - it's an odd thing. They actually do see a fair amount of pitches at the plate. However they don't really walk and they haven't gotten hits so even though they are working the pitcher - they work him for three batters and that's it. Part of it is the philosophy of the team (swing heavy) that's been here before Matt, part of it is the guys that are here.

This is basically Matt's defining moment. He didn't inspire the team last year either - if the Braves didn't fade who knows what would have happened. Either he gets them to play solid ball now - smart, focused win or lose. Or he's in big trouble.

GCX - mets offense is going to be the key. Right now they are getting a bit lucky - getting more runs then they probably should. But if they can keep it up till D'Arnaud and Wright are back, I can see them being 2012 like the Nats. Flipside is they are probably one more offensive injury from being in big trouble for a while.

Anthony Rendon said...

I read that Aj Cole is pitching because of scherzers injury.

I didn't play in Harrisburg because my knee was to tight.

Aside from Bryce we are an unwatchable team.

SM said...

You hit the key word, Harper: Structure. But it isn't only in the bullpen.

Right now, every phase of the game is in simultaneous freefall. You know, injuries, atrocious defense, erratic bullpen, no offense, inability to cut down opponents' running game, etc. You've even identified 2 (there are more) players with no business on a major league roster.

But an across-the-board collapse of every aspect of the game won't continue. We all know that. (When it does happen--it's rare--it's usually with expansion teams.)

My issue is with the batting order. Old Matty wants structure there, too, and he insists on it even when the material isn't there. When the season began, his batting order was set in stone even though the players were injured.

So: Span leads off; Rendon second; Werth next, maybe Bryce cleanup or whoever gets hot on a team comprised of streaky hitters.

Until Werth returned, Bryce batted third (where a team's best hitter belongs, like Cabrera, Gonzalez in L.A., Duda, even Ruth and Musial). But no, Werth bats third and that's that. Bryce to cleanup.

I don't know if you're suggesting Bryce batting second until Rendon returns in order to condense the offense. Not a bad idea. But Williams won't do it, because that's Rendon's spot. So he starts monkeying around with the slot, Desmond today, Zimm tomorrow, Escobar another day.
Anybody, no matter how nonsensical, until Rendon returns.

I don't know if it's because he's a hunch-y guy (you know, "Ive got a feeling this is the day Zimm breaks out") or because he's the most inert, ultra-conventional--or scared; anyone consider that?--game manager in baseball. But he loves working with cement

This team will improve, no question. It's just a matter of by how much and how soon.

Anonymous said...

A lot of their struggles have been predictable to this point. Going into this season there were a lot of problems that we failed to address, and also some that we never saw coming. Let me explain.

We lose Clippard and Soriano, only to replace all those innings with a combination of Barrett/Treinen/and other rookies. Not only are those just innings but they are critical, late game innings. We lose LaRoche to essentially replace him with Yunel Escobar. We knew Werth would not be healthy in time to start the season, and at his age and needing time to recover from an injury - there would naturally be a slow start for him. Why are we surprised? We never addressed a bench that was sub-par last year. Miami lands Ichiro as a 4th outfielder for 1yr/$2million and we never even took a look at him. By contrast we have an awful/injured Nate McClouth on the books for 2yrs/$10.75million. The season was built on a lot of "if's" right out of the gate: IF Treinen becomes a shutdown set-up man. IF Yunel becomes a solid bat/second basemen. IF Tyler Moore finally figures it out, IF Clint Robinson carries over a great spring training performance. Smoke and mirrors. What we're seeing is what we should have expected from these IF scenarios.

Now, what we didn't expect to happen: We didn't expect Rendon to start the year on the DL, much less be out for this long, especially with a knee injury. We didn't expect Span to do the same and have a slow recovery. We didn't expect to deal Blevins for den Dekker (who would probably best help us as our bat boy). We didn't expect the atrocious fielding by Desmond and others. We didn't expect ZNN to be where he is at, along with Fister lately, and even Strasburg to some extent. We also, and this is important - didn't expect ANY of the NL East teams to play well, much less contend this early on. The Mets, so far, have looked every bit the part of a good team.

So it is a combination of the two, what we should have seen coming and what we didn't expect to happen. The latter, those issues are disappointing, but it isn't like you can say that Desmond should have taken a few more ground balls. But things like our bullpen struggles, or our lack of run-production with injuries, our clean up hitter gone, and slow recoveries from those formerly injured can't act like this is such a shock.

Our outlook after we signed Scherzer..98-100 wins? Absolutely possible. Once Opening Day came around? Pfffft. To quote Dennis Green, we should be saying: "They are who we [should have] thought they were" - a bad, beaten up ball club with zero confidence in a losing streak. It will absolutely get better. Let's just hope its not too late.

JWLumley said...

Harper good suggestions, mostly agree, but it's a shame they've canceled baseball this year so we'll never find out if they would have worked.

Kenny B. said...

I think this analysis is fine, but raises the question of why it is the Nats are not maximizing the quality of the team on the field just as a general practice in what is supposed to be "your year."

I'm in full-on panic. There aren't even really any green chutes to key in on right now other than Bryce Harper is, unsurprisingly, good at baseball.

JWLumley said...

I know it's probably not quite time to panic, and logically I shouldn't panic, but whatever, I'm in full on DOOOOM mode. The Nats are horrible, Matt Williams is the worst manager since Dusty Baker and is probably even worse than ole Dusty too. Ian Desmond is a liability at SS and if NN is going to regress, the Nats SP ain't all that great. Strasgurg is an excellent back of the rotation pitcher as is Gio, but if they're the guys you're counting on, you're in trouble because they're erratic. Zim will probably turn it around and Werth will hit eventually, just without much power. I don't even feel like saying I told you so about Span because I didn't want him to suck, but he does. Catcher has now become a a huge black hole of fail offensively speaking and thanks to cleats up Andrelton Simmons the Nats now have Dan Uggla getting regular AB's.

To top it all off, these guys don't even seem upset, they seem like a team of Eors (sp? As in Winnie the Pooh). At least be mad and show some fire. And that bullpen is a dumpster fire of fail that's not going to get better with the return of Janssen.

If I were GM, I'd of course fire MW. Then I would ask the Lerner's how much money I could have to hire Dave Righetti, because manager's aren't that important, but pitching coaches are. If Rags wanted to manage too, so be it. If not, promote Randy Knorr, he seems like a nice guy. The Nats miss Rendon big time and would be better off with Span as their 4th OFer. I would also DFA Dan Uggla and bring up Manny Burriss. He's not a big leaguer, but neither is Dan Uggla. And if Burriss is on the Nats I'm sure we'll be treated to some awesome Grant Brisbee tweets about him. Then I'd look to trade Cole for an infielder or catcher. After that I'd spend more money that isn't mine and deal for Papelbon, yes everyone hates him, but everyone hates Harper too, just own it and go with it and wear the black hat.

Either that or see if what you have'll will get it done and if not tear it down, deal everyone at the break and reload for next year.

JC said...

I am now officially in panic mode. Obviously the bullpen and offense issues are at center stage. However, we have never been a team like the Orioles that goes out and produces a ton of runs. This team is built around its pitching and there is ample reason to think that the preseason assumptions about JZ and Fister are off. Both of them are losing velocity and control. Fister is lucky that he kept it as close as he did given the number of fat pitches he left up in the zone last night.

If we actually are the team that everyone thought we would be then I think catching the Mets wont be a problem. Unfortunately I think there is legitimate reasons to think that we are only a .500 type of team.

If this continues for the next few weeks I would be in favor of blowing things up. Move JZ and Strasburg if you can for prospects. Let Taylor have half season in the majors and bring up Cole and Giolito. I am afraid that we need a new younger offensive core if we ever want to get anywhere beyond the first round of the playoffs.

Froggy said...

Annon, perfectly said. To add, and I might have mentioned this before, but I have some seat mates who ea went down to ST this year and said the Nats looked terrible. Showed up out of baseball shape, poor fundamentals, and no cohesiveNess. Really, what can you expect when the only players NOT playing a new position were Span (injured), catchers, and Espinosa, and Desmond. With Escobar, Uggla, and Redmond being new additions and starting half the time.

Like Annon said, how can we expect a different outcome than what was demonstrated in ST? How does management NOT see that coming?

Anyway, so hypothetically let's say you are looking for a replacement manager at this juncture...who is available? And when do you do it? After 25% 30% 50% of the season is gone?

Kenny B. said...

I'm panicking, but I'm not ready to blow it up just yet, as satisfying as that would be in the short-term.

However, if we're still this far out (or, God help us, farther out) as we approach the trade deadline, then maybe it is time to think about closing the window and setting about opening another one. Problem is, it feels like you would be selling pretty low on everyone except the ones you'd want to keep.

But we've got some baseball between now and then. Here's hoping they get it together and quit dropping like flies.

Although I will note the one fun thing about this degree of injuries and suckitude is getting to see new young payers come up and get their shot.

Anonymous said...

Love your work Harper! Now, for your next article, can you explain why in the Blue Hell Reed Johnson is still on this roster and Michael Taylor isn't? Reed Johnson is about as useless as Dan UGHla! Taylor can get plenty of ABs spelling Span and Werth, and we don't have to deal with Reed Johnson weakly grounding out every time.

Mitch said...

Reed Johnson is a veteran. Dan Uggla is a veteran. You all need to respect your elders, the Big Marine, and get out of your mother's basement to see if she needs help with the mac and cheese. Let the experts run this team.

Anthony Rendon said...

Yes, Dave would definitely help this team. He would stabilize Stras's streakiness, but only partially Gios. I'm not a fan of your papelbon idea though.

Anonymous said...

It's always darkest before the dawn. Cole gets the curly W tonight! You heard it here first.

A Fly Moses said...

The good news is that I don't think Werth's problem is age/injury, I just think it's rust. His LD% is way up, his GB% is way down, and his IFFB% is slightly down. His swing rate on pitches out of the zone has stayed the same. The problem is that his swing rate on pitches in the zone is WAY down, as is his overall swing percentage, so even though his swinging-strike rate is down, his overall K rate is up. This matches what we've seen--lots of taken third strikes (often on FBs down the middle).

The good news is that this feels like a missed-spring-training-problem, and should go away. The bad news is that MW is letting him work it out in the 3 spot, which is how you end up with the worst WPA on a team full of terrible WPAs.

JWLumley said...

@Anon, If I really heard it here first, how will you take credit?

@TonyTwoBags You have another idea to fix the pen? If you trade for Chapman you should do the sensible thing and make him into a starter. Where else will they get bullpen help from? Because this bunch isn't going to get better.

Bjd1207 said...

A lot of points on this thread that I agree with, and only a few I disagree with.

-The 4th OF situation is absolutely true. When Nate was on long-term DL we should have started looking for a solid 4th OF option. Now that we're in this mess it's gotta be Taylor that you call up. I can't wrap my head around why Reed Johnson has stayed on the roster so long. I wish a beat reporter would ask that question straight up.

- The bullpen situation is not a clear-cut I don't think. It wasn't that we were expecting Treinen/Barrett to take over 8th inning duties, or at least I didn't see that as the plan coming in. Rather, we expected to have Casey Jannsen somewhere in the late innings, and we expected stammen/barrett to graduate to more high-leverage roles. With Roark as the long guy, I expected us to fill the remaining roles with more of the newer guys. Jannsen/Storen at the end, with some combos of Treinen/Barrett/Cedeno/Thornton/Stammen/Martin in the earlier innings. Not a terrible strategy going in. But when injuries take two of your veterans (Stammen/Jannsen) and your guys don't graduate as you expect (Barrett/Treinen) yea it looks dicey.

-Batting order not all that important, except when you put a guy hitting .150 in your 3 hole. Get Werth out of the middle of the order and I don't have too many other problems with the order.

-@JW I can't believe you have the gall to come in here and even mention the words "I told you so" about Span. The ENTIRE YEAR last year you were quoting small sample size and regression as your arguments for his performance. And now after 30 AB's this year you hold that up as proof? Come on dude...I held my freaking tongue all last year to not speak the words I told you so and you can't restrain after literally a 1-week sample size. You're so far gone it's not worth me arguing over it any more. He's not as good as he played in 2014, but he's not a .220 hitter and to call him "terrible" is just flat out wrong, by any metric.

-The sentiment I agree with most is that there's just no fire in the dugout. No one seems to be pissed about how poorly their starting. We get the same "that's baseball" quotes from Matt Williams night in and night out. "He was throwing well just left one over.." "We all know he's a slow starter in April" How about getting PISSED about the stupid, inexcusable errors. If not the manager, then who??? The fans should not be more emphatic than the freaking manager. It's his JOB and these clowns are making him look bad on a daily basis. I know I take my employees to task when they do that to me...where the hell is the passion?

Anthony Rendon said...

If you don't let me say chapman than no.

Anonymous said...


*slow clap* for those last two points

JWLumley said...

@Bjd I believe I began with something to the extent of "I know this is irrational..." but whatever, to let the facts get in the way of your rant. Besides, your Span love runs so deep it can't be unseated. Span is typically the type of guy who doesn't age well. So he had one good season in which he had a .330 BABIP. I mean he made that huge leap of 0.9% in his LD%, and hit a lot less ground balls, not always a great formula for a guy with no power. From 2010 to 2013 his highest wOBA was .325 with a .308, .307 and .313 tossed in there, but lets all believe the outlier is his true talent level.How good do you really expect Span to be this year coming off of two core body surgeries and on the wrong side of 30? You're probably right, he probably won't be terrible, but given his injury history, age and past performance, it's a possibility that far exceeds zero probability.

Finally, why are you "holding your tongue" just say it. I don't shy away from admitting when I'm wrong. I was somewhat wrong on Span, still absolutely think they Nats shouldn't have dealt for him and think their best team has Harper in CF, but he's better than I gave him credit for, but that doesn't mean it will continue.

JWLumley said...

Also, speaking of irrational love for a player, Steven Souza Jr. has a wOBA of .361 and a wRC+ of 136. 19 games in I know, but enough PA's for BB% to stabilize and it's 11.8%. And he's stolen more bases than the entire Nationals team!

Bjd1207 said...

If you believe you were somewhat wrong on Span, then why would you say I told you so?

This statement is what drove me up the wall:

"I don't even feel like saying I told you so about Span because I didn't want him to suck, but he does."

He doesn't suck. You were wrong, for the whole year last year. And 30 AB's into this season isn't enough to call ANYthing but you still present this statement as if it were divine revelation given to you from on high which is finally coming true.

Your last reply is much more reasonable, and like I said I don't think that 2014 Span is his "true talent level." You think he sucks (see statement above) and thats just flat out not true. He's generated 6 wins above the AVERAGE player in his last 5 seasons, almost 2 wins above AVERAGE in his time with the Nats.

You might think I have a love affair with him, but its been generated solely from trying to defend him against your opinions that are just plain incorrect. And even STILL I wouldnt have said anything to you directly if you hadn't come here and claimed the exact opposite, that you were right all along

JWLumley said...

@Bjd It's called a rant for a reason and by it's definition it isn't measured and well thought out, it usually is somewhat irrational. I do think Span sucks in comparison to other major league players whom the Nationals could have gotten to play in their outfield and relative to what they could have gotten in trade for Alex Meyer. One good season, and that's all I think he'll have, for a top notch pitching prospect during an era when prospects were/are overvalued, well, it sucks. Span is much better at baseball than I am, he's still one of the best 200 or so position players on the planet. Still think he sucks, relatively speaking.

He had 1 good year, which is 1 more than I thought he would have, so that's what I was wrong about. It doesn't mean that I don't still wish they had never traded for him. It doesn't mean that I still don't think they could have/should have gotten someone else who could have provided more value in their outfield. I also don't think Bryce Harper ever runs into that wall in LA or the wall in Atlanta if Span doesn't happen, but that's cherry-picking I'll admit something else could have happened. But the fact remains that the acquisition of Span took Harper out of the primary position he'd played professionally and moved him to a different spot. It also took away a lot of Harper's value because of how much better other LF's and RF's are offensively.

Now, as for the 30 AB's argument. I believe a lot of Span's success was due to luck and randomness. Luck and randomness aren't something that can be duplicated. With that being said, Span was an injury risk when he was acquired. He got hurt again and no one really knows if he'll bounce back to be his slightly below average offensive self. Even if he reverts to average form of the last 4 years, that's not very good. Span doesn't have a great history of coming back from injury. Point being, I'm not basing my assessment on 30 AB's, I'm basing it on 2012, 2013 and 2014, with some 2015 and 2016 tossed in there too. The I told you so part was only because I expect the delusion that was Denard Span circa 2014 has likely passed.

JWLumley said...

@Bjd Almost forgot to mention, 2 Wins above average is my point. I think they could have done a lot better and I expect that the the end of this year that number will be either flat or diminished. Also, that 2 wins above average is based largely on defensive metrics which I wouldn't put a lot of stock in period, and most would say not to put a lot of stock in for anything less than 3 years.

As for being right all along, once again it was a rant born out of frustration and clearly indicated from the get go, that being said, I think I was right in that it was a bad trade and Span represents a sub-optimal solution for the Nats as he's a slightly below average offensive player and a slightly above average defensive player, making him very average overall. I was wrong in that I didn't think he'd have one good year.

Anonymous said...

@Jw if Souza played for the nats he wouldn't run because the nats don't believe in running or stopping the run. Solid point on Bryce for past seasons but not this year (yet)

Bjd1207 said...

In order:

1. Go to fangraphs and search for CF'ers from 2012-2015. Span shows up as #7 on the list. So I'm not sure who you're comparing him to, but the people who do this for a living say he was the 7th best center fielder in the world over that span.

2. Alex Meyer has yet to crack the big leagues, had a mediocre year in AAA last year and is looking roughly the same so far this year. Right now in a big league comparison that's 5.9 wins from Denard against exactly zero from Meyer. I don't know how you could argue right now that the trade doesn't favor the nats, but I'll grant if Meyer returns to the prospect he was, and carries that renewed success to the big leagues, you COULD have an argument 2 years from now.

3. It's not one season. In 2012 he had an above average offensive year. If you go back to 2009 he had a better year than his 2014.

4. Yes he outperformed his averages in 2014. But why is that year a "mirage" but 2013 isn't when he underperformed his averages by the same margin? (103 career OPS+, 113 in 2014 and 94 in 2013)

You're certainly allowed to have an opinion on the guy, and you're even allowed to have an unfounded opinion if you choose to keep ignoring certain years of his performance altogether. The only thing I take offense to is you slapping the "I told you so" on there like I(we) was(were) too dumb to see it

Froggy said...

Not to take sides, but how does someone who has only made 5 errors in almost 800 chances 'suck'? ZERO miscues in 2013, 4 in 2014, and 1 so far this year. I would welcome a whole team of ducky players like that.

I think Bryce is perfect fit for rf with the appropriate cannon to gun down anyone trying to stretch it to 3b or home.

JWLumley said...

@Bjd Nothing comes up in the search you mentioned. Still, I'm comparing him to Bryce Harper + whoever the Nats get to play LF. In just 2015 terms you can compare him to what Meyer would've provided out of the bullpen + Souza. Not sure where you get 7th, maybe in terms of WAR? If so cherry-picking, some guys didn't play in 2012 and Span didn't play for the Nats. Also, it doesn't account for injuries, etc.

2. Doesn't matter what Meyer has or hasn't done. It matters what his value was at the time he was traded. Still believe he could have brought back more.

3. In 2012 he was average offensively, he was also 28, which would seem to indicate that he's not likely to get better, but is likely to decline.

4. 2014 is the outlier, it's not even close to 2013 or 2012 or 2011 or 2010. I understand there were injuries in 2010 and 2011, but in 2012 he was average, in 2010, 2011 and 2013 he was below average offensively and in 2014 he was above average. That's five years, with only one above average, 3 below average and one average with no trend. Looking at career averages doesn't account for his concussion issues and the extreme downturn his offense took as a result.

It has nothing to do with dumb (your word not mine, but I don't know anyone here well enough to believe them dumb), but thanks for letting me have an opinion, very benevolent of you. What year am I ignoring? 2014? To believe 2014 is his true talent level I would have to ignore aging curves, 2010-2013, and all the other metrics like BABIP, LD%, and his huge jump in slugging last year. Everything about 2014 screams outlier to me. What exactly about my opinion is unfounded? Because I think his 2010 - 2013 wth some regression for age and even more regression for coming off of multiple surgeries? Fact is the guy was an average (if I'm being generous) offensive player, who got a year older and two offseason core injuries back to back, but has a lot of his value tied up in his speed. I don't think he'll be average this year, he could be replacement level which I think is more likely than him repeating 2014.

Froggy said...

Heh,heh...sucky NOT ducky.

Bjd1207 said...

You go to batting leaders, choose multiple seasons from 2012-2015, and click on "CF" at the top. And yea its by WAR.

It accounts for the cumulative value CF'ers have brought to baseball over the course of those years, and he's #7.

Yes you are choosing to ignore 2014, and now still 2008 and 2009. Why start your trendline at 2010? If you use his whole career its above average, above average, below, below, average (104), average(94), above. You can split hairs on whether to call those 2 years average or not, but if you buy mine then its 3 years above, 2 years below, and 2 years average. Not to shabby for the 2nd most important defensive position, especially when like you say the 2 worst years he was battling injuries. Your 2010-2013 trendline doesn't make any sense on its own either, he was better in 2012 and 2013 than he was in 2010 and 2011, and even better than that the 2 years prior. How is that an aging curve?

Changing your tune from "he sucks" to "he'll have trouble coming back from 2 offseason surgeries" is a big difference. The part of your opinion that's unfounded is that he sucks. That's just incorrect, shown now by WAR, compared to other CF'ers at the time, looking at his offensive averages over his career. What, out of any of that, can make you come away with any other opinion that he's at least average, and factoring in defense probably a little above.

Kenny B. said...

As I write this, the team is down 9-1 in the second inning headed for their... What is it, 8th consecutive loss? At least they're not having this collapse late in the season, I guess. That would be more painful.

JWLumley said...

All just a ruse to motivate Denard Span. You're welcome Nats Town.

Anonymous said...

Full panic mode, and I'm not even sure where to start in terms of trying to fix the problems, but it's painful to have to just wait for things to work out, especially since I'm not convinced Rendon is close to coming back or being anywhere near 100% when he does come back. On the plus side, at least Span is 3-for-3 so far tonight.

As a Nats fan living in Chicago now, I'm not able to see many games on TV but do follow most games on my MLB app or listen to them on the radio. This could just be the pessimism of a losing streak, but I think I may stop following the games until the Nats come to Wrigley at the end of next month. In the meantime, I'll start to follow the cubs, who at the moment are infinitely more enjoyable to watch.

Just to shake things up, why not try Joe Maddon's approach of batting the pitcher 8th? It's not like half our lineup isn't putting up pitcher-like batting numbers anyways.

(also, as I am about to post this, Lobaton hits a 3-run homer to pump a little life into this game... so I recognize that jumping to conclusions or going full-out panic is irrational... and full disclosure, I haven't played baseball in 15 years and have never been a pro scout)

Anonymous said...

(one of the other anons)...

Game 10-11 in bottom of 7th and that sucking CF of ours is 4 for 5 with a HR.

Man, Span sure sucks!

JWLumley said...

@Bjd IT WAS A RANT, AND BY ITS VERY NATURE SOMEWHAT IRRATIONAL AND FULL OF HYPERBOLE It's not changing your tune, apparently nuance like a sledgehammer is difficult to see.

Still, as I write this Span is having a career day, but even though you completely ignore my points and offer zero rebuttal instead just going back to the fact I said he sucks mid rant, I'm your Huckleberry. I choose 2010 because that's when the injuries started. Simple as that. As for aging, didn't know I needed to explain this, but after most baseball players turn 30 they start to decline. Most baseball players peak between 27 and 29. Span is past these ages and will likely decline. This is not to suggest that his injury plagued years in 2010-2012 were a result of aging, unless you want to chalk the injuries up to his age.

What you fail to account for with your CFer comparison despite my mentioning it, is that fWAR factors in defensive stats heavily, namely UZR. Defensive stats that I find spurious at best (Span's 2014 is a good example of this), but that nearly everyone agrees when taken on a yearly basis are often wildly inaccurate. Lets break this down just for funsies.

In 2010 according to your analysis (as I've pointed out this doesn't account for players who played some CF and some other positions value, overly weights defensive metrics, doesn't account for players who didn't play CF for every year in that range and doesn't account for what Harper + FA LF could have had in WAR)
Span was the 19th most valuable CF.
In 2011, Span was 23rd
2012 - 10th (Bryce Harper was 6th in a short season)
2013 - 11th
2014 - 9th

Since you like averages so much, Span averaged being the 14th best CFer in baseball since his injuries started. Considering there are usually only about 26-29 everyday CFers in baseball with 1-5 teams platooning in CF, he was middle of the road to below average.

Instead you choose 2012 (a year he didn't play for the Nats) through 2015 and poof Span is 7th, despite never ranking higher than 9th during that time span. Now, if you bump it up to only include players with 1500 PA's to compare him to players who had similar opportunities. First he's 7th out of 22, but some of these guys aren't CFers (Josh Hamilton, Ethier, Granderson, CarGo and Harper). Some aren't/weren't everyday players over that span like De Aza, Fowler, Revere, Rasmus, BJ Upton. So if you subtract the guys that aren't true CFers, and didn't play in 400 games over that duration, Span moves up to 6th out of 12 and one of those players is BJ Upton. Wow, still middle of the pack.

And with that I'm done. No more anything about Span from me. I've said just about everything I have to say on the subject. I honestly hope I'm wrong. Hope I have to eat a big plate of crow again this year.

Now Matt Williams as a terrible manager who hung a rookie out to dry and didn't keep the game close, I make no such promises in that regard.

JWLumley said...

@anon in Chicago. No caveats about your panic-mode being irrational will be accepted. Bjd will take you to task (like he does his employees) for anything you may type during this time.

@(one of the other anons) As I mentioned you're welcome, obviously Span used my comments as motivation.

Also, the only person who gave up on this game was Matt Williams. Way to keep it close Matt and not let the game get out of hand. Also, Treinen is the new Jerry Blevins, but in reverse. He should never ever face a lefty, basically the guy is a ROOGY.

JWLumley said...

@Bjd We were all wrong about Uggla and it's wonderful. Truce?

Kenny B. said...

I have come to the conclusion that the Washington Nationals are part of some kind of social experiment in which I am a subject. The experiment is designed to see what happens when a person's factual expectations are persistently incorrect for a period of years at the time.

Exhibit A: my prior comment and the results of the game it was about.

Anonymous said...

(non Chicago anon) I go to the games and all I see is a guy who is a freaking vacuum out there in CF. It doesn't matter if Span doesn't make another error this year or hits .300, JW will continue to be a Span hater.

Span simply does NOT suck, and has not sucked since he has been a Nat.

Anonymous said...

Bjd wins

Froggy said...

We've got us a winning streak!

Woo Hoo!

I wonder who got mad in the clubhouse and fired everyone up. You know Dan Uggla was motivated!

Richard Parker said...

Span and Uggla, eh? Heeheehee!

Timing is everything.

Ryan said...

Can the DOOOOM squad finally shut up for at least a week or two, pretty please? If we're 8 games back in a month, then you're allowed to panic. Until then, chill out and enjoy SPANUGGLATRON TATERS

Ryan said...

Just a brief compendium of things that were silly this afternoon, and sound even sillier now:

"According to multiple sources, the clubhouse is dead. The team is demoralized."

"If this continues for the next few weeks I would be in favor of blowing things up. Move JZ and Strasburg if you can for prospects. Let Taylor have half season in the majors and bring up Cole and Giolito."

"I have some seat mates who ea went down to ST this year and said the Nats looked terrible. Showed up out of baseball shape, poor fundamentals, and no cohesiveNess."

"Span doesn't have a great history of coming back from injury. Point being, I'm not basing my assessment on 30 AB's, I'm basing it on 2012, 2013 and 2014, with some 2015 and 2016 tossed in there too. The I told you so part was only because I expect the delusion that was Denard Span circa 2014 has likely passed."

Sorry for the double-post, but just wanted to reiterate: let's all calm down a bit before deciding that Span is terrible or we need to blow up the team or the clubhouse is demoralized or whatever. It's (still technically) April.

That being said, the next time I see Blake Treinen in a high-leverage situation I'm going to ***** Matt Williams in the ***** with a ******

Zimmerman11 said...

Guess I picked the right night to come back and watch the Nats! Had to take some time off from all this ugly play... just in time to watch more ugly play, but also some good fortune and a win :)

I tuned in, it was 10-2, so I missed most of the ugliness... and got to witness the ugganess. I really do still hate that guy. It will take a lot of GW HRs to make me want to root for that animal. LOL.