Nationals Baseball: Turning it around

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Turning it around

The Nats won! Sure they scored only 5 runs, versus arguably the Yankees worst starter and B-Team relievers, and they needed 11 innings to do it but scoring only 5 runs, versus arguably the Yankees worst starter and B-Team relivers, and needing 11 innings to do it is better than NOT scoring 5 runs, etc, etc.

It may seem that I'm damning with faint praise but there's an important point here. If the Nats are a great or very good team they'll win these games, games where in theory they have a clear advantage. They won this game. Sure they should also win other games as a great or very good team but let's worry about the "shoulds" first because they have 4 shoulds sitting right in front of them. Four games versus possibly the worst team in the league (but I believe in you Phillies!).

They need to take 3 of 4.

As for yesterday's doom and gloom - when I say it won't right itself I mean the whole thing won't get back to a point where they will be a contender for best team in the league. At least I don't see it. The thought was a great pitching staff would combine with a good/very good offense to win ~95 games. Maybe if the offense clicked they could challenge 100. I don't see that coming back. The rotation's injury concerns and bullpens extended "figuring it out" period means that in order to be that team that gets the division handed to them that offense needs to click to be a mid 90s win team. If you want the Nats to be that team, they'll need to do some work.

Why do I feel that way? Because where the Nats are right now. We set our current expectations not from March but from June.  You can't say "When Rendon and Span get healthy and hit and play everyday and when Desi and Ramos and Zimm start hitting again and when Werth is back and hitting" and add "with Bryce keep hitting like he has, same with Yuney and Danny" That's basically asking for everything to go right. That's a tough sell three months ago. It's impossible now. Will Rendon and/or Span hit? Probably. Will one of Desi/Ramos/Zimm hit? Probably. But not everything will go right. The reality for the Nats is what's in front of them. Injured guys hitting like it. Guys who we thought it was possible may not hit well, not hitting well. We have to give that more weight.

Can the Nats win 90 games and the division doing nothing? Yeah probably. Enough of the hitters should come around and Bryce, the most important bat, doesn't look like he'll flop. The pitching should settle with time to heal and find decent reliable arms in the pen. And look at this division of ragamuffins. If that's righting itself for you then ok, it could and probably will right itself. If you are looking for something more, for the Nats to hit a goal closer to pre-season expectations, to have no worry about winning the division, like I am, then they'll need a something else.

23 comments:

JE34 said...

Soulless, and correct.

Chaz R said...

Fangraphs seem to feel the same: http://www.fangraphs.com/coolstandings.aspx But continue to be high on the Nats as one of the best teams in MLB, although not the best in the NL any more. Even with the injuries, the Nats talent level when compared to the rest of the NL East is what gets them over the top. The NL East is just terrible.

Anonymous said...

Consider Tyler Moore... for release.

It turned out that your negative assessment of him if anything was too kind. He stinks on ice! I wonder if Danny can play first base.

cass said...

Dave Cameron talked in his chat yesterday as the Nationals being one of the three best teams in baseball. Not sure if his distance gives him perspective or blinds him to the flaws, though.

They've had some recent articles about how the first two months of the season are basically not predictive at all of the next four months while the two-months-out-of-date projections from the beginning of the year are far more predictive. And that includes the fact that injuries aren't factored in.

So the numbers would say that the Nationals should still be one of the very best teams in baseball and that we may be overreacting.

Chaz R said...

Looks like Rizzo is making some moves:

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/06/nationals-acquire-david-carpenter-from-yankees.html

Anonymous said...

Let's make Danny an everyday guy! Let him give some guys some rest. Spelling Yuny on Monday, Zim on Tuesday, Span on Wednesday, Rendon on Thursday, Desi on Friday, Replacement LF on Saturday, Ramos on Sunday. Danny can play catcher, right? Right.

Go team!

(Said while crying into my coffee.)

Anthony Rendon said...

Anonymous. Adding to Danny's new positions. He can pitch out of the bullpen. We definitely need it. Or he can start and we can move Gio to the bullpen.

Chaz. Finally some sign he cares!

We play in the NL East the worst division in baseball so we will be fine come October.

Anonymous said...

What do you think of the Carpenter trade? Definitely need relief help, but is he the right fit?

cass said...

Unless I'm missing something, adding Carpenter sounds like a good, potentially great move providing he can turn things around.

WiredHK said...

I enjoy you throwing shade on the win where we also started our (arguably) worst SP and were on the road vs a 1st place, red-hot NYY team. You're almost as good at spin as Boz, Harper! :)

Anyway, nice to win the game after it looked bleak following the usual (lately) end-game meltdowns on the hill. Did anyone honestly think Barrett was going to let us escape that jam? Good grief, that guy....

blovy8 said...

Moore scored the winning run so he lives to K another day. Barrett should go down just for his awful entry music. He's not even a streaming option at this point.

Picking up Carpenter is probably Rizzo going to the DFA'd Yankee well once too often, but Thornton has been good, and Renda was probably organizational depth, especially with Difo and Turner playing so well ahead of him. I can't really argue with it much, since there was room to move McLaugh to the 60-day DL.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of McClouth... what a waste of money. The fact that Ichiro is playing in Miami as a 4th outfielder for 1yr/$2mil is laughable. Will Nate ever see the field again for the Nats? My gut says no.

Gr8day4Bsbll said...

Barrett is good for one thing: winning post-anthem standoffs. At least he's 2-0 in those. Which makes him roughly the equivalent of Max Patkin...

John C. said...

To me the regular season is all about getting a ticket to the Playoffs. It's not that I'm against winning 96-98 games - hey, that's fun to watch! - but I'm under no illusions that it gives them any kind of advantage in the playoffs. That's not just based on the Nationals' problems, it's based on looking at what has actually happened in the playoffs in the Wild Card Era.

To me, "righting the ship" is getting a ticket to the Playoffs and a chance to make some noise there. After that, let the chips fall where they may.

Harper said...

chaz R - as some like to tweet - the NL East is a refuse of questionable owners (Loria, Wilpon) questionable GMs (Amaro, Jennings) questionable managers (Sandberg, Fredi, Jennings again!) When you look across and say OK Alderson playing the cheap game with the Wilpons and the nothing special Terry Collins is your biggest threat... that's a good place to be.

Anon #1 - considered daily

cass - I've found Cameron (and Fangraphs) to overly stick to his guns. As a whole yes, especially for an individual player, last 2 mo is going to be less predictive than the last 3 years before that. But (1) best predictors would include both which would drive down (or up) predictions (2) watching team matters. Player X may bounce back. Zimm though with no miss-time injury but clearly not himself is almost certain to be closer to this than pre-season. It's a lot of work to find those things. So take what they say "Nats still really good but not best" and add in what you know to come out "Nats still good... division winning... but that might be it" as opposed to what 2 months would say "Nats a dogfight for WC"

Chaz R / Anon #3 / cass / blovy8 - worth a gamble. Renda was never as good as they pumped him up to be in the no Difo/Turner era, and not really going to start as the succession had been decided so whatever. Carpenter knows the NL East, isn't too different a pitcher then he was when he was good. Probably getting hittable as he ages but maybe just a run of bad luck? Whatever, the more arms the better. The better arms the even better

Anon #2 - AR is right - try him in the 8th first.

Wired HK - sure but I'd take Gio over Eovaldi everyday, twice on Sunday, 7 times on a day I just invented called Blurnsday solely to take Gio a bunch of times over Eovaldi.

Anon - it ended up being a waste but I'll stand by it being a decent deal at the time. Injuries are the big leveller.

Gr8Day - maybe he can move over to Screech role?

John C - fair enough.

Carl said...

I agree with John C here. If the Nats can win the NL East with 90 wins, so be it--no point in mortgaging some future piece in favor of improving the team's chances of winning now. Sending away Giolito for some "proven veteran" or other probably won't improve their chances THAT much. For all we know (like I wrote yesterday), the lineup could all get hot in October and they roll through.

blovy8 said...

For the record, I am all for winning in the regular season. While it costs a lot more to get a playoff ticket, I hate watching those visiting clowns with the wrong jerseys walk away beaming after a win. It takes a small percentage off of my improvable fandom and depreciates it after the considerable sum I spent on beer to support the Lerner/Brewery consortium.

I'm a bit surprised that the Yankees couldn't get more for Carpenter. 95 MPH fastballs with a track record are becoming commonplace.

I hate to jinx him, but Gio has actually done a pretty good job of adjusting to his lower velocity given that he's never been a guy with adequate control/command. The change is becoming his best pitch and that's impressive.

DezoPenguin said...

Really, the problem with projections as a whole is that they're very good at saying "This guy has been X over his career; here's what we see going forward when we smooth out some of the luck and the aging" but are really bad at spotting (a) the point when a player just completely craters, whether because of injury or just running out of gas (2013-14 Espinosa and apparently 2015 Zim, injury-wise), and (b) when something changes and they make significant positive strides (say...Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, after the Blue Jays worked their magic on them). So overall, Cameron is right, but in individual cases, when we can point a finger and say, "something's *different* that the projections don't know about," not so much.

Hopefully, when Fister returns to the rotation he'll be some semblance of his former self (not unlike when he came back from injury last year) and that'll make the SP five deep again. The Carpenter move can't hurt (see again, projections, assuming that he isn't hurt either); Storen and Thornton are the only guys in the 'pen I trust to provide reliable performance. When we have to bring in Rivero in a key leverage moment, taking a flyer that Carpenter's fixable doesn't hurt at all.

But man, the bench remains a mess. Taylor and Danny and Lobaton are fine, but the Uggla/Moore/Robinson part just makes me want to gag (I've followed Harper in being disgusted with Moore for years, Robinson was a great Spring Training story that just didn't pan out in practice, and Uggla is...surprisingly, the best of the three--Fangraphs even has him at above replacement level--but still very not good), and the simultaneous problems with Werth and Zim mean that at least one of those guys has to play regularly unless we're going to move Yuney or Ian to 1B.

I still think probably the best move Rizzo can make, offense-wise, is to pick up a high-grade corner rental, somebody like Justin Upton. We've got long contracts with Werth and Zim, which can both be evaluated (Zim, especially, since his glove really has taken to 1B and if it really is the plantar fascitis killing his bat then a recovery is possible) in the offseason, but both of them aren't reliable for 2015 and a guy like Upton would slot in, replace them with presumably high performance, not interfere with next year's plans, and would cost a lot less in terms of prospects.

Also, ESPN's made-up story of the day seems to be Bryce inevitably going to the Yankees in 2019.

DezoPenguin said...

Random thought re: my previous comment. Ian Desmond for Justin Upton, straight-up swap. Padres get a guy who's a good hitting SS (even at 2015 levels) for the rest of the year, parking Amarista on the bench (or the minors; I'd rather have Barmes's glove as my backup), and they've got Venable to play the OF. Nats get a guy who's a good batter in the OF, parking Moore/Robinson on the bench (or the DFA list), and they've got Yuney as SS and Espi at 2B. Upton's a better hitter, but costs more $ and Ian plays a core defensive position. Which GM backs out?

Anonymous said...

^^ smh. It's a mistake to overhype our own players. Desmond will turn 30 by the end of this season, and is trending in the wrong direction. Upton is 27 and either just entering, or right in the middle of his prime. Desmond's defense has been terrible of late - and Upton's offensive numbers are trending up. Plus the Padres letting go of one of their best offensive weapons when they are in the hunt for a guy like Desmond probably wont happen.

Bjd1207 said...

@Anon - you're correct but the "trends" are tempered by the fact that both guys' contracts expire this year. So they should be strictly evaluated by the value they can bring to the current team in their current situation (and then I guess possibility of re-signing?).
That being said, I think I still come to the same conclusion as you do. Padres would be silly to part with Upton this season for almost any price

Bjd1207 said...

Also Zim just hit the DL, den Dekker recalled. I'm guessing a platton of T-Mo/Clint Robinson at 1st?

Kill me...

DezoPenguin said...

Please, by all that's holy, Taylor in LF, Rendon/Ian/Danny/Yuney (in some combination) as the infield. Moore/Robinson gives us that ineffable combination of players who can neither hit, nor field, nor run the bases.