Nationals Baseball: 0:05

Thursday, September 24, 2015

0:05

Disappointing till the end, huh?

The Nats are in theory playing for something (we shouldn't believe that but the players should) and yet here's another half-hearted effort and another loss. Welcome to 2015.

Should Max have been pulled? Probably. Again you see the wheels turning. Max was due up first the next inning, so let's see if he can quickly get through the 7th, even though he's at 104 pitches. Fine. He's Max Scherzer. The bullpen is terrible. But then there's a lead-off double and the memories of recent Max Scherzer. Time to go to whoever. But MW was committed and Scherzer almost escaped. Almost.

Again even if I'm sure the Nats are out (and I am) the team shouldn't be and MW should be managing every game as if it were a playoff game.  Sadly though, I think he IS doing that, which is why I say if you expect to fight for a playoff spot next year you have to fire him. There can be no trust that he knows what he's doing in close and late situations. 


On the offense - some people will look at the Nats rank (currently #1 by the width of a hair) and say "The offense is great! The pitching sucks!" (rank #7)  Here's the thing though.  The Nats offense is 0.35 runs better than average, the Nats pitching is 0.24 runs better than average. That is not a big difference. You have to go back 17 years (if I'm right) to find the last time a NL leader (not couting Colorado - though that makes a difference only like twice) was within 0.35 runs of the league average. The Nats offense isn't great. It's as we hoped good to very good. It's just that no one has a very good to great offense this year. So good to very good can be on top. It's pretty amazing that the Nats hit expectations with all the injuries and soul crushing disappointments (thank BRYCE mainly, but also Yuney, Clint, and Espy) but don't let that convince you that this offense couldn't have been improved.

Right now Werth, Rendon, Desmond and Ramos are all slumping terribly and Michael Taylor a bit. Can't have much of an offense with 5/8ths not doing anything. The pitching has been steady but mediocre as defines this season. How about you guys wake up and don't get swept. Is that too much to ask?

43 comments:

Section 220 said...

You are so right - I think Williams IS managing like this is a playoff situation, which is precisely why you have to get rid of him.

What's kind of tragi-comic about the whole thing is you can totally see the wheels turning in Williams' head. "Well, last time I trudged out to the mound, Max yelled and cursed, and he finished it off. He's a bulldog! I'm going to stick with him! It worked last time!"

Bilbo said...

I agree that I don't see how MW stays. The team seems to have given up on him. It's pretty crazy when you look back on this year. When the Nats woke up on July 31 they were 3 games up on the Mets. The thought was win all 3 and the division is wrapped up, 2/3 and division is most likely wrapped up, 1/3 and they're still in the lead and everything is fine. Needless to say we know what happened. The wheels came off. Wow. All of this in 8 weeks. If the season ended July 31 MW may have finished in the MOY running having dealt with all of the Nats injuries and still been in first place. The last two months have exposed MW's glaring weaknesses. Managing on the fly close and late. He is fine if he can hand the ball to Storen for the 7th, Clippard for the 8th, and closer/Soriano for the 9th like last year. He is fine if his veteran players are playing fine bc MW obviously does not like to play young players - Trea Turner, Wilmer, Difo, Espinosa if everyone is healthy, etc. The one silver lining about this year is that if MW is fired and the Nats get a legitimate manager - it was worth every painful, soul-crushing loss. Does anyone think old PBL will ever manage any team to the world series? I think not.

And for the love of the Pope, can we stop talking about Michael Taylor playing CF next year. He's a 4th OF all day, everyday. He can't hit and strikes out way too much. He's a .230-.240 hitter with 15-17 HRs and 170+ Ks a year. Not someone I want playing everyday.

This series against the O's couldn't have come at a better time. It has exposed all of the Nats weaknesses. 1. MW is an idiot. 2. Pitching is average. 3. They can't hit against mediocre RH pitching. Jimenez has an ERA of ~4.5 and Tillman of ~5+. They scored a total of 4 runs. 4. Zimmerman can't stay healthy and thus is not playing. 5. Palpebon is a gutless punk. Harper's quote in response to Palpebon's "tough guy" act was classic.

That is all.

John C. said...

Meh. It was just last week that fans were offering a full throated roar of approval when Scherzer either talked MW into letting him stay in the game/chased MW from the mound in a profanity-laced tirade. Now we can trash MW for NOT taking Scherzer out. Decisions like this are win/win. Whatever the decision, if it doesn't work we can trash the manager for it. For baseball managers, it's essentially an occupational hazard.

I was at the game last night, and Scherzer's stuff was good - if he was gassed it wasn't obvious, and he had gotten more efficient as the game went on. In the 7th he was doing his classic late-inning "dial it up" and in fact was throwing harder than he had all game. If MW had gone to Janssen there I would not have been very happy about it. Especially since to that point Machado was 0-14 with 7 K's against Scherzer. Even with the small sample size, results that are spectacularly one sided like that are hard to ignore. I suspect that Machado was going to be Scherzer's last batter anyway, with Rivero ready to come in and face Davis.

I have a lot of issues with MW's handling of the bullpen, but I can see both sides of last night's decision. In those situations I tend to give managers a pass, since it's essentially a coin toss. For fun, imagine the hew and cry if MW had lifted Scherzer and Janssen had given up the HR to a player that Scherzer has owned. It would not be pretty.

Anonymous said...

You can't be mad at the manager for not pulling Scherzer. What are your options?

Booyah Suckah! said...

John C, you said, "In the 7th he was doing his classic late-inning "dial it up" and in fact was throwing harder than he had all game."

I'm not picking on you, because I've heard tons of people (usually 'old school' baseball guys) say the same thing. My question: is throwing harder actually a sign of being fresh and vigorous and still having your top-shelf stuff late in the game?

Listen, I'm no pitching coach. But if a guy is 100-plus pitches in... at the end of the season... in a high stress situation... and he's throwing the ball harder than ever, I feel like that means his control is probably going to be shitty. Like, say, shitty enough to leave a big meaty fastball out there.

If a guy comes out in the first who usually throws 95-97 and he's throwing 98, great. He's rested, he's feeling good, cool. A guy comes out in the seventh after 104 pitches and he's throwing 98, I'm worried that he's overreaching. I know if I went out there after working my ass off for a couple of hours and then tried to throw a baseball at 110% effort, I'd probably sail it into the stands. Obviously I'm no Scherzer, but the principle still holds.

This isn't a rip on Scherzer, or even on MW necessarily. I'm just asking the question, because I hear people talk about late-game velocity like it's a good thing. I tend to think otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Scherzer's issue is command not velocity. He probably didn't want to leave that meatball out in the middle of the plate but lost his command late. With a 2-2 count he probably wanted to throw something enticing but not smashable. T

Anonymous said...

Scherzer's issue is command not velocity. He probably didn't want to leave that meatball out in the middle of the plate but lost his command late. With a 2-2 count he probably wanted to throw something enticing but not smashable.

Harper said...

Bilbo - he could learn to be better in late game situations, but you can't take that risk after seeing this year, not unless you are assuming you WON'T make it next year.

JC - you could probably argue that after getting 2 outs he should face Machado. I think the decision point failure was before that though, after the double. 107 pitches, just gave up a double, no one out, two straight lefties up. MW didn't get burned by the bad decision, he got burned two batters later by a more defensible one, but that doesn't make that initial decision better.

Anon - Thornton to turn around Paredes (he's switch but better from the left), and Parra and either a new pitcher for Machado or more likely you pitch around him)

John C. said...

Oh, I hear you Booyah. Who knows? In Scherzer's case, the "dial it up" is his M.O., something that he supposedly learned how to do from Justin Verlander while Max was with the Tigers. And it's not like Max was suddenly throwing the ball all over the place. Yes, he left one out over the plate to Machado, but the damned thing was moving at 98mph (according to the Nats Park scoreboard). It's not easy to square up even if it gets a lot of the plate. And was that because Max was fatigued? Well, he left a 94mph fastball over the plate for Pearce in the first inning, about 14 pitches into the game. I doubt he was fatigued then. So it's hard to figure out causation there. And in Max's case the dial up is essentially a conscious approach by the pitcher, to have something there when he needs it late in games. To me that at least argues against automatically assuming that 98mph is overthrowing.

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

I'd like to take a moment out to acknowledge that we're now finding out who Papelbon really is: Todd from Breaking Bad. "I shot the kid on the bicycle. That was good, right? I mean, he saw us. And he was going to turn us in. And he homered off Max. So there was no choice. Was there? I did the right thing. Didn't I?"

Going to be a long 2016...

Booyah Suckah! said...

Definitely. Not every fastball is created equal, and it's almost impossible to judge since, despite all the measureables (velocity, sink, lateral movement, pitch count, blah blah blah) you can't ever get inside the guy's head and know how he felt when he threw it.

Again, not really picking on Max. More questioning the entire notion of a guy having as-good-or-better velocity late in a game and assuming that means he's still good to go. It's a very old school take.

Chaz R said...

So true Harper. Good grief, very uninspiring performance (again!). What the heck is the matter with these guys?! Is it MW, or something more intrinsically wrong with the players, or a combination of both? August and September have been awful.

Ric said...

Anonymous Bilbo said...

And for the love of the Pope, can we stop talking about Michael Taylor playing CF next year. He's a 4th OF all day, everyday. He can't hit and strikes out way too much. He's a .230-.240 hitter with 15-17 HRs and 170+ Ks a year. Not someone I want playing everyday.

I think Taylor is our future CF. Agree that is a 4th OF this year, but Span's injuries forced him to start. But, most rookies suffer with average and strikeouts the first season. It takes patience to learn to not swing at everything close to the plate. Heck, even Harper struck out too many times his first season. But as a rookie sees more pitches, he slowly learns to hold of on balls off the plate. I don't expect to see a .240 hitter next season.

That being said, I'm totally flustered on the few occasions that MW has Taylor leading off. Taylor will be a legitimate CF next season, but he is nowhere close to being a leadoff hitter.

Anonymous said...


a couple of thoughts about Max Scherzer-he was supposed to be a Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke type pitcher meaning that every 5th day he not only could be expected to go 8-9 innings but also to dominate the opposing team. He came from the AL where one would have thought he would have an easier time in the NL due to the pitcher hitting. In the first half of the season, he performed to expectations but why the drop off in performance in the second half. Was it because the teams had not created a book on him or is he just gassed. He has a contract for 7 more years and if this is what can be expected with probably an ever increasing drop off as he ages, I worry that the Lerners will be extremely leery to sign a high price free agent again. Scherzer is currently 12-12 with an era of 2.98. The era is more a result of his pre all star break than the second half. A pitcher that wins half of his games could probably be had for a pittance of what the Nats shelled out for Scherzer.

Ric said...

Anonymous Bilbo said...

"This series against the O's couldn't have come at a better time. It has exposed all of the Nats weaknesses. 1. MW is an idiot. 2. Pitching is average. 3. They can't hit against mediocre RH pitching. Jimenez has an ERA of ~4.5 and Tillman of ~5+. They scored a total of 4 runs. 4. Zimmerman can't stay healthy and thus is not playing. 5. Palpebon is a gutless punk. Harper's quote in response to Palpebon's "tough guy" act was classic."

Fairly certain we knew 1-4 long before the series against the Os.

Disagree with #5. We may disagree, but not unheard of for a pitcher to plunk a batter after he just sat there admiring his HR the previous AB.

One thing that's been consistent in coverage about Palpebon is that his teammates uniformly love him (Boston, Philadelphia, and even DC, if Rizzo is to be trusted when he addressed fans at the Newseum event). I don't think this changes things (although I could be wrong).

Gr8day4Bsbll said...

Whether WE think they're still in it or not is irrelevant -- THEY have to believe they're still in it. And despite all the talk from several of them recently, the Nats clearly don't believe they're still in it. They had a chance over the last two nights to drop the Mets' lead to 4 1/2 games, and with the Mets in danger of getting swept by the Braves (!) and playing like the "normal" Mets lately, a team that's still in it smells blood and wins these last two games going away, to set up a very interesting 3-game H2H at the end of the season that just might mean something. Instead, we get the latest chapter in uninspiring, uninspired, "where's my golf bag?" baseball from this team. At least we have some good baseball to watch elsewhere -- Yanks/Blue Jays, Astros/Rangers, Cards/Pirates/Cubbies. But whatever was left in the hope that Nats fans had for 2015 has been snuffed out over the last two nights...

Booyah Suckah! said...

Anon- I refuse to judge Scherzer (or any pitcher) based on W-L record. It's dumb.

In his 12 "losses", he's given up an average of 3 runs (not ERA, just how many he gave up before being pulled). 5 of those 12 losses, he gave up 2 runs or fewer. In one, he gave up 0 runs and still got the L.

A guy who gives up an average of 3 runs in his "losses"? I'll take that every day.

Pitcher win-loss is stupid.

Anonymous said...

Was watching mlb last night and they had an interesting discussion about Bryce Harper. They were comparing his season to those of the truly greats-Ted Williams, etc. What sets Harper's season apart from those other guys, is the fact that when they were having their great seasons, they could be expected to face the same pitcher 5 times in a game where the advantage swung their way. FP is always commenting on how after seeing everything a pitcher has in their first two at bats, they can recognize the pitches better. Harper rarely sees the same pitcher the entire game-usually its for 2 ABs and then it's off to the bull pen. The fact that he is doing the numbers while facing multiple pitchers in a game is what makes his season all the more astounding was he point they were trying to make.

ProphetNAT said...

Coming from someone who pitched in college - when you get "tired" your velocity does not go down, your mechanics break down. And when your mechanics break down - your location suffers. Just because Max was missing some bats, doesn't mean that he was leaving flat fastballs over the plate. Not every hitter can hit a 96mph fastball in the seats. Apparently Machado can. Movement and location is the key to nearly every pitchers success. Hence Greg Maddux's career.

On a side note - I am a Nats fan, but I really am starting to despise this team. They should be better than this - I mean what in the hell was all the hype for? Everyone is back now, except for Zimmerman, but Bryce's dominance was not expected when pundits crowned us champs back in February. He's the MVP and if he we Bryce of '13 or '14, this team would be well below .500 and we would have stopped talking about failures a long time ago.

Whether its the manager, the injuries, bad luck in late game situations, a crap-tastic bullpen, or an overrated group of "baseball players," it hasn't panned out. There are some players that we can bring in here to keep the 2016 Preseason World Series trophy in DC, but in order to actually win something, their needs to be a culture change. Good character guys, with good OBP, speed, decent defense, and a solid bullpen should do the trick. Hard to judge a players character and we have a couple good ones - but we don't have anything else of the things I mentioned.

This O's series has literally summed up the frustration that has been the 2015 season for us Nats fans. Some teams find a way to win, and some teams find a way to lose...and sometimes it rains.

Anonymous said...

There's a decent chance these losers end up with an even worse record than the 2013 team, whose season was essentially over even earlier than it was this year. This despite having the guaranteed MVP and playing in a historically weak division. This is beyond pathetic.

Booyah Suckah! said...

ProphetNAT, gotta disagree. We've had (with the exception of Pap and Soriano, I wonder if it's a closer thing) almost nothing but good character guys. Team chemistry has always seemed very good, both in the media and to the eye test.

As for OBP, from a relative perspective, this is actually the best OBP team we've ever had. Going back to 2012 (the first year of successful Nats teams and what I consider the beginning of the current core group of players), the non-pitchers have ranked 6th (2012), 8th (2013), 4th (2014), and 3rd (2015 so far) in OBP in the NL.

Speed? Eh. Yeah, we could probably use more. Or maybe just more effectively use what we have (Turner, Espy as pinch runners in key spots, even if it isn't the 9th inning).

Decent defense? This seems like maybe some bias lingering from early in the season. Are they stellar? Hell no. Are they decent? You bet. The last four years of fielding percentage ranks in the NL: 2nd (2012), 12th (2013), 5th (2014), 6th (2015 so far). I know FLD% sort of sucks as a stat, but it's the only one BR will give along with a NL rank. I didn't want to spend that much time, and to talk about whether they're "decent" I think it works well enough.

And solid bullpen? Well geez. You're right, pretty atrocious this year. Don't think anyone will argue that. But the three years before that? Lights out, for the most part. In fact it was one of our strengths most of those years.

My point? I've sort of forgotten. I guess that you listed things we're supposedly missing that have led to such a crappy outcome, but we've almost always had those things since 2012, and I don't recall any parades down Pennsylvania Ave.

Froggy said...

Unfortunately because MW is Rizzo's guy he won't get fired. When Spring comes next year I'll be hungry for freshness and a new start. Instead we will be stuck with a skipper for 2016 who has failed to learn on the job. So, no Terry Francona next year...doom.

On another not, I'm all for having a team of personalities and characters on the roster as long as they perform, but I also think a certain amount of discipline or more accurately, attention to detail should be promoted by having a coaching staff who set an example by wearing a freaking complete uniform once in a freaking blue moon instead of a faded 'this is my Spring Training good luck warmup windbreaker'.

Say what you want about the Braves and the Mets but from their manager on down they ea look like a professional major league baseball Team and not a group of individuals. Just my opinion here, but I guess I'm old school like that.

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

@Booyah - I agree with you 90-something percent of the time but will disagree on one point - character isn't chemistry. The Nats are fine when it comes to character - lots of fine upstanding guys who take responsibility and work hard and grind away... and they try to maintain an even strain during rough patches... and they progressively fold under pressure, maybe because they're trying so hard to maintain an even strain that they fail to get fired up... or maybe because instead of getting fired up, they're getting introspective and tight. What's lacking is the kind of fire - especially during downswings - that could a) change momentum and b) get the fans on their side. As it stands, they'd be terrific middle managers and it'd be wonderful to have them as employees in a large organization. But I'm not sure that makes them an effective ballclub.

ProphetNAT said...

@Alan & Booyah - My bad, and in agreeing with what Alan said above, we do have good character guys - nice guys who have all the good intentions in the world. But character and chemistry is indeed different. My point was that we lack a certain chemistry (i.e. not friendship and fist bumps). Remember these Nats were the same nice guys that were questioned by an opposing pitcher (Tim Hudson) as to what's between their legs. Some guys whither under pressure (Blake Treinen, Storen) and some guys seem to relish it. This is very hard to find, but some teams have no trouble doing it. If it were easy every team would do it, duh. But I think it boils down to an organizational philosophy that places like SF and STL have that we don't. Trust me - if I knew it, I'd be jamming my way into the Nats organization some how.

One note on a players mind-set. Some of the best players (both raw talent, and ice-in-their-veins-clutch players) were not nice guys. They're the type that would do anything to win anything in life. Similarly, I remember a childhood friend say of Michael Jordan during their younger days, that walking to school Mike would always have to walk in front, and if you challenged him, he'd sprint away from you - just so he could WIN...in walking to school. Not saying we need 25 guys with this mentality, but I wonder if we even have 3? That concerns me...

Anonymous said...

The nats should send papsmear up as a ph to get drilled to protect harper.

Max David said...

When you take a look at how awful the bullpen has been this year I don't have much of a problem with leaving Scherzer in.

And for the love of God if the Orioles hit Harper today, someone should go beat the $#!t out of Papelbon.

Anonymous said...

@Booyah

How did Max pitch against the Mets, in arguably the most important games of the season when the Nats needed him to be a stopper?

Anonymous said...

@prophetnat-I think you hit the nail on the head-I have heard of the Cardinal way or the Dodger way where these teams stress certain fundamentals at a minor league level which seem to pay big dividends when minor leaguers get called up. When a Cardinal player goes down, it seems that there is always someone not only able to fill in but contribute as well. That seems to be lacking with the Nats.

ProphetNAT said...

You guys don't understand how this works. Pap plunked Machado because he pimped a homerun. Not that I condone that behavior - but players get hit for that stuff all the time. Machado complaining about it needs to start a massive petition to enforce suspensions because many people on both sides of similar situations have been quoted with the classic "it's part of the game" company line.

And if Harper gets hit, he better get hit for parking a grand slam in the upper deck, walking to first base, and staring at the pitcher the whole time. Players don't get hit for no reason, fair or unfair Machado got hit for a reason - just like Bryce will need to give the O's a reason to plunk him. Clearly hitting like he has this whole season isn't reason enough.

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

Just a note about the decision to continue with Scherzer into high pitch counts... The Nats Blog posted this to Twitter last night:

"After 101+ pitches, batters are hitting .262 with 3 home runs and two doubles in 46 plate appearances against Max Scherzer this year."

If that's so, I'm inclined to wonder whether "Max is good to 115 pitches" is the orthodoxy MW should be following.

Not that Janssen is necessarily a great option, either, but it'd be interesting to get a fact-based look at what happens when you push Scherzer deep.

Anonymous said...

@prophetnat first of all he BARELY pimped it for a significant milestone home run. 30 homeruns is a big deal. Second of all Bryce has done just as much or more than machado did after his home runs without getting drilled. Third you don't throw at the head. Fourth you can tell that Bryce doesn't want to get hit for what he believes as an unjustified plunking. Fifth the fact that none of the Nats ran on the field after the O's did shows that the Nats felt pap was in the wrong. There is such a thing as drilling someone for excessively celebrating after a home run, this was not that. This was a sore loser airing out his frustrations at the potential expense of someone's career. I wouldn't be surprised if he's moved in the offseason a bag of baseballs.

John C. said...

@Froggy: You're holding up the Braves and Mets as examples of organizations that the Nationals should emulate? Really? Wow. ProphetNat citing the Cardinals and Giants at least makes sense. The Braves and Mets have been dysfunction junction for years - even this year when things are breaking their way all over the Mets are going through all unnecessary drama about Harvey. Suffice it to say that I have friends who are Braves and Mets fans who wish their organizations were more like the Nats. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

Booyah, the Nats defense now is merely bad instead of where it was earlier in the season, which was gobsmackingly terrible. Fielding percentage is not a good measure of team defense, because it's too inconsistent. When measured by defensive efficiency - the ability to convert balls in play into outs - the Nats woes emerge. They are 25th of the 30 MLB teams by this metric. Which is bad, but better than they were earlier this year (they bottomed out at 28th).

John C. said...

I was at the game, and I've seen pictures of the event that confirmed my impression at the time. There were plenty of Nats on the field, they were just more dispersed than the O's because the O's were at bat - everyone was coming from the dugout.

Harper does not typically pimp his home runs. He actually has one of the faster home run trot times in the majors. That said, not only was it a big HR for Machado (#30) but it was off of a pitcher in Scherzer that had completely owned him up to that point. As in 0-14 with 7 K's ownage. AND it was a big HR in the game. I didn't notice Machado really do anything out of line given the circumstances.

Froggy said...

John C, ...easy pilgrim... I wasn't saying the Nats should emulate the Braves or Mets at all. I said clearly how they looked, or carried themselves in appearance only from the manager on down. Next time you get a chance to watch a game in person (if you aren't getting a hotdog or a beer) check out how certain teams act during the national anthem for example.

If I were to cite a team for the Nats to emulate on the field or otherwise it would be the Cards.

Max David said...

Seems like every loss is more disappointing and depressing then the last one. I didn't think it could be worse then the Mets series, but these last 2 Orioles games are right up there with those Mets games.

Sammy Kent said...

It's a good thing the Pope was busy with other things last night, because if he'd come to the game the Nats would have pissed him off bad. Three very winnable games against the blankety blank blank Orioles have gotten away while the Mets stagger and lurch to the division title. The lead could have been down to 4 1/2, maybe even 3 1/2. I'd love to say a few choice words about Manny Machado, but as much as I think that little POS needs his arse kicked, IMHO until we get scoreboard we'll just have to deal with his gamesmanship, primping, and juvenile vulgarity. Otherwise, Nationals, get a bat and knock a dinger of your own over the fence and win the darn game, and feel free to give him back a good loud "F*** you" as you pass third base. I will say this, he fits that despicable Angelos and that cruddy town perfectly.

Yesterday Rizzo was asked if Matt was going to return next season and he just said, "We'll let the chips fall where they may." Which sounds to me like they're going to fall on Matt. I won't argue too much with that, but Matt's still not the one that built this roster. Over the course of the season they put a lot of runs on paper, but it's all illusory. Too many stretches of scoring zero, one, or two then one game scoring 12. These guys can make the most average journeyman pitcher look like frickin' Cy Young. Yes, the offense is lousy. Unless Rizzo gets another genuine 30/90 guy this winter, next year will be more of the same, or worse. Desi is almost certainly taking his 150 Ks and 25 Es somewhere else, and I won't miss those, but his 20 HRs will go too. Counting Adam LaRoche that's 50 dingers and 140 RBIs we'll no longer have and nothing done so far to replace them.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, I can only watch from afar, but this team lacks in the intangibles that the upper echelon teams have. It does not seem to fall onto any one thing. The manager struggles with in game decision making. So much so that we question or second guess just about everything he does. The "leaders" in the clubhouse do not seem to be able to drag the team along during the down times either. This club had sort of wallowed in their mud with a few exceptional runs this year. It will be interesting to see how things pan out between now and the start of next season. Rizzo has his work cut out for him if he wants the next version of the Nats to compete for a championship for the current version is a steaming pile of crap with a few diamonds tucked away in the mess.

ProphetNAT said...

Since the trade deadline, everyone I run into around town when referring to the Nats game the night before gives the same response, "its as if they don't want to win this thing." I can agree and disagree. I agree because when they lose, they lose bad. Rarely does the other team simply beat them. More often than not, the Nats give the game away (i.e. bullpen implosion, poor SP, and poor execution w/ RISP). When they lose, of course they look like they don't care.

I disagree with that sentiment because they do care, as strange as it sounds. When the Redskins are getting beat, you can see that it is a from lack of effort; not wanting it bad enough. Baseball is tough game because rarely can you say "they fought hard, but just came up short." Baseball requires a certain calm above the storm/fire within to hone your craft and execute it, repeatedly. I've spent a lot of time trying to decipher why teams like SF and STL are the way they are. They have an organizational structure that builds these players from the ground up, immediately after they are drafted. Of course the players have to be willing to buy in to what the team is selling, and I'm not saying the Nats players don't buy in - I'm saying that the Nats are selling empty boxes of chocolates. There is no plan. Sign/draft/cultivate talent. Put them in a red/white uniform. Let them play. See what happens - and when we lose, blame it on injuries. And when we lose playoff series, just stand in line with everyone else and yell, "see?! October is a total crap shoot," with shoulders shrugged and a strict defiance to analyze what went wrong and how to get better. With this strategy, we've amassed 3 straight preseason world series trophies - and zero play-off series wins.

People say that the Giants hang around all season and then really turn it on in October. Well if they are that good, why doesn't anyone ever crown them in February. They are a good ball club that has the players who possess the intangibles to not whither away under pressure - when it really matters. They're mantra is not "get into the postseason, and see what happens," but "once we get it, we show them who's boss." Where does this stuff come from? Simple. Its the reason why any good team succeeds at any level. They are COACHED. And I'm not talking about the manager at the MLB level. Bochy gets credit for what he does with the players he's given - but he isn't given any duds/softies. Do you really believe that when they drafted Matt Duffy or Joe Panik, that they thought they were going to be .300+ hitters right out of the gate? No, the talent wasn't there for that, but with a little tweak in approach - it would be possible. When SF let Sandoval walk - they were confident that Duffy would fill in nicely when no one else did - because they COACHED him up, from day 1.

Meanwhile, coming from the Nationals clubhouse, when asked about the growing concern for Desmond's and Taylor's K's, or Ramos's inability to hit anything on the outer-lower half, you'll hear: "Oh that's just Desi's game....that's Wilson's game." There is not enough effort to fix the things that are plaguing these players. An opponent's job is to capitalize on the Nats weaknesses - while the Nats look lost as to why SF keeps pitching low and away 4 straight playoff games last year. Its as if Werth doesn't know there is a book on him? There is a book on every guy, including SF - but its how you counter that attack. The Nats have no answer. Live and die by the talent on the field...(cont'd)...

ProphetNAT said...

...(cont'd)...

Has Rizzo failed? In the way that a big part of his job is to put the best/most talented team on the field to set them up to win now and in the future? He has succeeded. Has Rizzo failed in the way that his scouting/player development staff have not taught our younger players how to play Nationals baseball? Yes he has failed - but only in part. His biggest failure is to establish what in the hell is Nationals baseball. Throw crap at the wall and see what sticks - as long as its talented crap - the wall won't stink right?? Sadly, it will.

JE34 said...

My contempt for the Orioles is as strong as ever, but I must say that Buck Showalter is a quality skipper. He never gave Bryce the chance to kill them, and when he got a pitch to hit, the shift on him seemed to work perfectly. In 3 games, Bryce was 0-6, with 7 walks, and no runs scored. He put the onus on those behind Harper, and they did not deliver (except for Ramos). It was a good example of a manager not screwing things up.

JE34 said...

@ProphetNAT... amen brother. Been lamenting that point for a long time. There appears to be no coaching happening. Tough to pinpoint McCatty's value, and tougher to accept how players' glaringly obvious weaknesses at the plate are not addressed over the course of multiple seasons.

Anonymous said...

I think Harper took a day off. Too much grief from this latest debacle of a series. Rizzo deserves a lot of the blame. Bad team construction and did not work hard enough at trading deadline. Should have gotten 2 more relievers and a bat. See Mets blueprint...how did that work out?

SM said...

Harper doesn't need to post. The Nats' narrative, unfortunately, writes itself.