Nationals Baseball: Worry worry worry. Too much worry.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Worry worry worry. Too much worry.

How do we feel now? Better? 4-6 isn't good, but 2-8 would have been... well don't sound the alarm, but good teams have like one run like that a season. (Neither the 2012 or 2014 teams ever went 2-8, though last years team had a run in mid to late May that flirted with 2-8 several times) Put your hand on the alarm and watch the next two-three games.

As much as I'd like to say the Nats are turning the corner, I don't have any faith that the Phillies are a good team. Losing two games to them previously was terrible. Ruiz and Howard are over the hill. They are starting Ruf, Francoeur, and Sizemore at times. While you could expect Utley and Revere to hit a lot better, you have to expect Galvis and Asche to hit a lot worse. This team won't score. David Buchanan, is a bad team's 5th and he's their 4th. Jerome Williams is done. Once Harang's arm tires out this team won't pitch. If the Nats are going to be any good they have to fatten up on the weaklings they play. The Braves may or may not be weak (I'll go with "may") but the Phillies definitely are. You play this team 19 times, you better get 12+ wins. One loss this series is the limit.

It's also important because what follows. After the Phillies come the Cardinals at home, then the Marlins, Braves, and Mets away, then the Marlins and Braves at home. That's a lot of games, 22 more to be precise, that will set up the rest of the Nats 1st half. If they do well during this stretch, even after this slow start, it's likely that they'll have put separation between them and the other NL East teams, with the possible exception of the Mets (since the Mets have the best record right now and play the Nats the fewest times in this stretch). The first half will be about either keeping the Mets at bay, or widening the gap between the Nats and their closest competitor. If the Nats do poorly they'll likely have allowed a couple NL East teams to be right there with them (if not have a slight lead). The first half will be about keeping pace with whoever is in front, and fixing whatever is "wrong". Taking at least 3 from the Phillies will keep the first couple series from feeling apocalyptic if they go badly.

I told you a couple days ago you should let worry sit until they played another 8 games or so. Get 10% into the season, then see what you think. If you aren't seeing horrendous or amazing baseball it's what you have to do (Nats were close but not quite at horrendous). That's especially true with a team that has injury returns in it's pocket. But really it's about how good the teams are you think the Nats are competing against.

If you think the Nats are 10 games or so better than the Mets over the course of the season, then falling a game or two behind early is no big deal. It'll work itself out over the next 154. Worrying is kind of silly because your most likely scenario still has the Nats winning the division, but by around 8 games instead of 10. Falling 9 games behind in the first 16 though (tough to do) and you've set up a situation where the most likely situation to play out from this point, based on preseason expectations, is a neck and neck finish. Worry is valid. (plus your preseason expectations were probably off)  Of course the season is too long and variable to take that in anything but the broadest sense but the take away is worry is not only based on how a team is doing, but how you expect them to do going forward and how you expect everyone else to do. 2-6? There just isn't enough separation there to really matter unless a team you think will be as good or better than yours has gone 7-1 or 8-0.*

Since the Nats were such big favorites and have guys returning there's a nice big cushion to work with. Watch the Nats, watch the Mets, watch the Braves & Marlins a little. Enjoy (as much as the Nats play allows you to).  Try not to worry needlessly. 

*Does that mean Minnesota can consider it's season lost already? I won't go that far but I'd probably already write them off for an AL Central title. Harsh but true. You'd expect they were the worst and they are. Anyone want to be that they play at least a half-game better than CLE and CHW AND at least 4 games better than the Royals AND at least 5 games better than the Tigers? 


JWLumley said...

I will enjoy as long as Espinosa starts instead of Uggla. Also, going on record that Danny is the opening day SS next year, not Escobar.

Also, Nats need to deal for some bullpen help. I wonder what Tyler Moore would bring back in trade?

John C. said...

Danny the K as starting SS over Escobar (assuming that Desmond isn't back, as seems likely)? That's betting on an improbable midcareer renaissance. While I don't think that Escobar will continue to be one of the best players on the team (as he has been for the first ten games) I do think that at this stage of his career he's a solid major league regular middle infielder. That's a status that Danny is going to have to really stretch to achieve.

T-Mo has almost no trade value. There is a small-but-nonzero chance that he would clear waivers if the Nationals DFA'd him.

As for the bullpen, I'm OK with letting the kids play for a while. Players like Treinen, Rivero, Grace and Martin have the potential to be parts of a solid bullpen. If the Nats need something more, they can look around in June and July and see what's available.

Which points up the final problem with getting bullpen help: most teams aren't ready to jettison players yet because they still have a chance to be competitors for at least the second wild card spot. By June or July at least a few pretenders will have fallen out. That may be when the Nats can go get Aroldis Chapman :)

Donald said...

Lumley -- I think one reason why Espi won't be the opening day SS next year is that they also have a hole at 2b. I don't think Difo is ready and Uggla won't be back. So it seems to me that when Desi leaves, Escobar is at SS with Espi at 2b. That's barring any big deals, but I think that was the plan when Escobar was brought over.

Froggy said...

Why would we not keep Uggla? Aren't we playing with Atlanta's money still?

Still got 152 games left. Keep Calm, and Carry On.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter whose money you're playing with if the bet is a loser.

JWLumley said...

@Donald, why in the world would the Nats put the inferior defensive player at SS? Oh yeah, they did that when Desmond and Espi came up,so I suppose they could do it again. Rationally speaking, won't happen.

As for "mid-career" renaissance. Danny isn't mid career yet, he's only a little older than Steven Souza. What I'm banking on, is that he's finally healthy and can be a league average hitter, with pop and great defense. If Danny hit's .250 with 15 HR's, he'll be a 3-4 win player.

Zimmerman11 said...

I also want Uggla off my team for purely sentimental, I hate that guy, type reasons.

Seeing we NEED one of either Espinosa or Uggla this season I shouldn't be so against keeping that jackhole... but the heart wants what the heart wants.

Froggy said...

For Christ sake we are ten (10) games into the season and there is a lot of hate going around!

I was at opening day game and if Desmond doesn't almost run Uggla over he makes the catch, no error, end of the inning and it's likely Scherzer wins that game.

MW needs to stop effing with the middle of the infield and pick a 2b for 5-10 games and let everyone gel. Oh and keep the batting order-ish we had last night or day before and ride the bull for awhile. I mean as long as T Mo isn't in it of course!

Anthony Rendon said...

I completely agree with Froggy pick a 2b (preferably espi), stick with the lineup, and a few mistakes not happening would have us at least at 500.

Lumley is right if next years middle infield is the two Es than espi is shortstop.

Span made a rehab start and could be back soon. Which might actually hurt our offense. Although after the last few games I would love to see a good defender in cf.

Bjd1207 said...

I dunno, I'm not so sure that Espi would start as SS over Escobar. We already put to bed the "++ Defender at SS" rumor, and barring Escobar's outlier 2014, I'd say they're relatively equal in defensive metrics, with Escobar playing about a billion more innings there.

Might have to see how each of their metrics hold up over the course of this season, although that's not to telling of a switch to SS in 2016.

Zimmerman11 said...

Froggy for Christ's sake, we're 10 years into Dan Uggla playing for hated rivals. We can't all be soulless automatons like Harper. I didn't like him when he was on fire in ST, and I don't like him now.

If we had caught lightning in a bottle and it hurt the Braves to see him hit a buncha HRs for us, then it would have been fun. But he's still Dan. Uggla.

Froggy said...

I don't disagree with you on his history but he is a Nat now and I'm inclined to give him a fair shake is all. Besides he does / did have power and it would be nice to see that again.

Even though Espinosa's natural position is SS I think the 'Espinosa at SS in 2016' discussion is ridiculous since he hasn't nailed down starting at 2b this season.

Richard Parker said...

Another big scoring night. Zim is getting into his groove, but early this year. Just watch the RBIs start piling up now. Harper uninjured, too. And Desi? Looks like he's adapting to the right-handed program so far, eh?

Zimmerman11 said...

Bad news, our best player so far pulled his groin. Good news, our best player so far is Yunel Escobar :)

DezoPenguin said...

What worries me is MW's emphatic "We will not call up an infielder unless Escobar goes on the DL!" declaration. Why on earth would "Zim goes to 3B if someone gets hurt" be your Plan A? Just move Stammen to the 60-day DL (it's not like he's going to be back in two months) and add Stewart or Dykstra to the 40-man (probably Stewart).

a m s said...

After watching the weekend I'm definitely not worried. The lineup is filling in and pitching is looking good.

Bryce is getting walked to face Zimm.

Zimm is clubbing the ball.

Bryce is an on base machine with pop.

Scherzer is in top form.

Strasburg got his movement back.

Ian Desmond played a game without a yip-induced error.

blovy8 said...

I'm no real fan of slider-averse Uggla, but he's a stopgap and we need to stop worrying about what he's actually producing as long as it's something close to acceptable. Once you put a guy on the 40-man roster the clock starts ticking, I don't blame Rizzo for postponing that for a few games. The underlying benefit here is that both Escobar and Espinosa are getting some pretty good experience at third and that has to help in the future.

Let's not get goofy about a little production from Espinosa either - this happened last year, and I almost fell for it then.

As for his future role, I suspect they would rather have the guy who's played a bunch more at 2nd stay there if the two E's are your choices next season, but it may be more complicated by then. Trea Turner's hitting well at AA on a team that doesn't really need to coach him anymore. It could be he's ready sooner than we think.

Kenny B. said...

Series against the Phillies went about how you hoped it would. The team does seem to be remembering how to baseball. It's unfortunate we dug a little hole right out of the gate, but once that rotation gets cooking (it seems anecdotally like Strasburg often takes a couple games to find his form) and the lineup starts producing at baseline expectations, you can start to see why so many liked this team before the season started.

The bullpen is still a concern, but when you can consistently get more than 6 innings out of your starters, it's not a huge one.

Question though: why send Taylor down when your every day CF just came back from an oblique injury and Taylor has performed pretty well? I suppose they can call him back up if Span gets hurt again, but Taylor seems like a pretty versatile OF backup that you would want on your bench.