Nationals Baseball: Round 3 - Mets; TKO

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Round 3 - Mets; TKO


Fire Matt Williams.

Yesterday, after the Nats bullpen imploded in spectacular fashion, I tweeted that the obvious take-away from that night was that the Nats couldn't use Drew Storen in a big spot again this season. I suppose if pressed, I might have said it could happen if he got through 3-4 non big spots with no issues, but the point was the season now hung on a thread. There is no time to work things out. If something isn't working you have to cut bait and cast anew. If you fail trying the unknown, so be it, but you can't fail trying something you know is a problem. Drew Storen, who had issues since moving out of the closer role, is a problem. Thornton would have to take his place, or Ross, or Martin. Someone, but it couldn't be Storen.

Yet, in THE VERY NEXT GAME, Drew Storen was used in a big spot. Forget everything that happened up until the game two nights ago. Let's say all you knew was Drew Storen came in to that game, gave up a smash double to Cespedes, followed by three walks and threw 22 pitches. You would probably try not to use him the next night. You'd certainly avoid using him in a crucial situation. And you'd have had to never seen a baseball game to have him come in to face Cespedes. And yet that's exactly what happened. It was a terrible decision just based on the past two nights. Factor in the work of Drew in the past month and it's unforgivable.

There was one glaringly obvious "You can't do this" move that hung out there. Matt still made that move. If he can't avoid making the obvious mistakes, what the hell is he doing here?

Yes, maybe he can steer a ship through calm waters, just like last year. But at some point there is going to be adversity, be it in a pennant push, in the playoffs, or what have you. You can't have someone in charge that not only can't push the right buttons, but seemingly seeks out the wrong ones to be pushed.

Fire Matt Williams.


That was a game, that if it happened in the first game of the series would have been a classic. It was well pitched by both starters. The big players, Bryce and Cespedes, came through. However, after the last two, let's admit, pretty horribly played games on both sides, it was hard to appreciate it. Oh well, Mets fans will have more games to appreciate probably. And for Nats fans, there's 2016.

Today, for me, the season is over. For you it might have ended a week or two ago, or it might still be going on, but here, at this blog, we're going to start looking at next season because I think any puncher's chance the Nats had at catching the Mets is gone. Even though the difference seems slim the gap is really huge. Picking up 5 in 23 is among the decade's best comebacks. Picking up 7 in 23 is historic. I never figured the Mets to falter much in these next 20 so the idea that the Nats could catch them, or at least get to the last series 3 out, was based on the Nats themselves catching fire. The Mets go 11-9, maybe a game behind what they probably should. Well the Nats can go 13-7, maybe, if everything falls their way. Now that 13-7 is 15-5? No. I don't see it. I don't see the Nats making their best 20 game run, or the Mets making their worst and then having a sweep. I don't see the Nats making their best 20 game run while the Mets make their worst. No.

I think the season might be best summed up by the fact Matt denDekker made the last out of this game, of this last important game. He was here because of money. As a reliever becoming a LH specialist Jerry Blevins made too much. The Nats had to cut some salary because "Topped Out" so he was dealt. denDekker was the return and he should have been incidental. He should have been organizational depth. But the Nats never looked at this injury prone team and decided to back it up with the necessary pieces, not knowing what they knew from previous seasons, not when these players were actively injured before the season even started, not even when they got re-injured during the season. So denDekker continually flirted with a 5th OF role. When on this crucial night, two injuries/illnesses forced the Nats to reach deep into the bench he is what was there. A 28 year old AAAA player with a .232 average and 3 homers in 300 plate appearances.

The Nats are a team that continually tries to find what's "just enough" to win and do that. These guys should be just healthy enough. These arms should be just good enough.  But when you do just enough, you don't put yourself firmly in success, you instead straddle the line between success and failure. In that situation you'll see what we have seen. A team that vacillates between reaching their goal and failing to do so. It doesn't have to be this way. At times, to save a season, you can gamble that you may unnecessarily waste resources. You can sign a guy that you don't end up using, or trade for a guy who takes a smaller role than you thought as the season goes on. All on the chance that you might need him when the chips are down. But when the choice is to possibly waste resources, be it money in signings, or players in trade, the Nats can't do it. So instead it's not Parra or Gomez or CarGo up to decide the game. It's Matt denDekker.

You see where that gets you. 

91 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now that we're done, can we have the post where you tell us just how awesome Bryce has been this year? Because a lot of NY media folks don't seem to get it.

Jay said...

I might print this post and frame it. It pretty much sums up the Nats. I agree that Matt Williams manages like a former player. ie. pitcher struck me out last night, tonight I'll get him. Thus Storen comes in to face Cespedas the very next night. It's good for him right? Back on the horse right?

Anyway, the only good of this year is that it has shown that MW is indeed way over his head. When you are consistently out managed by Terry Collins - that is not good. Hopefully, Rizzo and the Lerners wake up and get rid of MW and spend money everywhere there is a need including the bullpen. Trading Clippard, Blevins, and letting Soriano walk (though I was not a Soriano fan) all came back to kill the Nats. Plus they need to start using some of their prospects to go get the big player to push them over the top. I'll be honest, I worry that as a GM Rizzo is an excellent scout.

Anonymous said...

Bryce?? lol..yeah he was great the first 2 games as well...what? he left the entire dugout in scoring position? when it would have mattered? no, my friend, think Yoenis...big players come up big in big games and Harper came up small at crunch time...what Yoenis did? that's the stuff that MVP's are made of

embittered Nats fan said...

It was a terrible decision just based on the past two nights

Amazing. BTF regulars jumped all over me when I suggested that a manager factor in "What have you done for me lately?" in choosing relief pitchers, for instance. No, you can't consider the itty-bitty sample size of only a few games, you MUST only consider the player's career numbers because THAT is where the truth lies.

So I guess this means if Ryan Zimmerman can barely walk because his foot is aching, you still put him out there because CAREER NUMBERZZ!!11!!1

embittered Nats fan said...

It was a terrible decision just based on the past two nights

Amazing. BTF regulars jumped all over me when I suggested that a manager factor in "What have you done for me lately?" in choosing relief pitchers, for instance. No, you can't consider the itty-bitty sample size of only a few games, you MUST only consider the player's career numbers because THAT is where the truth lies.

So I guess this means if Ryan Zimmerman can barely walk because his foot is aching, you still put him out there because CAREER NUMBERZZ!!11!!1

Harper said...

Anon - I think they know, deep down. And as good as Cespedes has been the Mets don't even trade for him if deGrom doesn't pitch like he did for the first half of the year.

Jay - Agree. He manages players like he would have wanted to be managed, but that's not how it should be done. Players worry about themselves. Managers worry about teams.

Anonymous said...

Sic semper tyrannis!!! cried the Mets juggernaut as they galloped out of DC...this was the biggest murder job seen inn DC since a man named Wilkes Booth was last seen galloping out of DC

Anonymous said...

@Harper coming from a Mets fan, the fact Bryce has had the year he has at 22 is incredible, and he's a hell of ball player. If he was on our team we'd be yelling MVP too. The NY media just hates him because of his ring comment.

Harper said...

enF - you have to manage the playoffs (and the playoff equivalents in season) differently. Players do slump/get hot beyond "just luck" and a big role of a manager is to try to feel that out. That's hard enough that you can say during a 162 game season that you're better off going with what you should see rather than what you do. But in a 7 game season it's criminal not to try. Watching someone fail over and over NOW because something 3 months to 3 years ago tells you is bad decision making. When only now counts the very recent past has to be weighted extremely heavily.

a m s said...

No longer believe Nats are best chance for a title in D.C.

Anonymous said...

Also, same Mets fan again, I disagree any of my fellow Mets fans saying Harper shouldn't win MVP because of the Nats place in the standings. We were all pumped when R.A. Dickey won the cy young with our garbage record, weren't we?

Harper said...

Anon @ 7:29 - so the Mets are the Confederates in this scenario?

Anonymous said...

naaah...not Confederates...merely doing what you do to gnats....swat them

Anonymous said...

That last paragraph was perfect. Thanks, Harper.

Anonymous said...

and btw to my fellow Mets fan...Harper is a great player and would be proud to see him finish 2nd in the voting...an impressive accolade and if there was no Cespedes he would certainly win...but, alas, there is a Cespedes...when Dickey won there was no one even comparable much less on one of the top teams so, yes, he lucked out a bit...anyone with comparable stats on a winning team trumps the guy on the loser and deserves to win just by virtue of the fact the guy who won and played on a top team had many more high stress, high impact games than pitching for a loser entails. Doesn't mean that guys on bad teams are not in the running but they have an extra hurdle to leap over and certain other X factors have to occur.

Anonymous said...

and btw to my fellow Mets fan...Harper is a great player and would be proud to see him finish 2nd in the voting...an impressive accolade and if there was no Cespedes he would certainly win...but, alas, there is a Cespedes...when Dickey won there was no one even comparable much less on one of the top teams so, yes, he lucked out a bit...anyone with comparable stats on a winning team trumps the guy on the loser and deserves to win just by virtue of the fact the guy who won and played on a top team had many more high stress, high impact games than pitching for a loser entails. Doesn't mean that guys on bad teams are not in the running but they have an extra hurdle to leap over and certain other X factors have to occur.

cass said...

You don't need qualify Harper's season with "at 22".

In terms of hitting, Harper is having the greatest season of the 21st century by anyone not named Barry Bonds.

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2015&month=0&season1=2000&ind=1&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=18,d

In terms of overall value as a position player, he's 1.4 away from 10 WAR. Only Bonds, Trout, and A-Rod have done that this century.

But, back to the original post, I agree completely. Fire Matt Williams. I am glad everyone seemed to understand that we were not booing Drew Storen nor Stephen Strasburg last night but Matt Williams. He's wasted the franchise's two most promising years with his mismanagement and needs to go.

Jimmy said...

lol. Cespedes mvp talk is hilarious.

Miles Treacy said...

The off-season will be very interesting to follow. That will really tell the direction they want to go. I think firing Williams is a given in either scenario (doesn't seem he has any respect from the players). But I'm curious if this season the Lerners let off the reigns and let Rizzo work with a higher cap. Or if they go back into we just spent all this money and struggled to stay 0.500 for most of the year. I think it will be the latter. I could see them going all Braves and just letting everyone walk and not picking up anyone big and bringing up young talent to "learn on the job".

JC said...

The silver lining from the past few days
1. We get to start focusing on the future
2. Blog can go back to being a refuge for intelligent baseball discussion rather than Mets trolls
3. Possibly will indicate to Lerners that team need fundamental reconstruction around Bryce
4. Matt Williams will be fired

Robot said...

Fire MW and the entire bullpen. Do it last week, if possible. Do whatever it takes to keep ZNN. See if we can get Desi to stay for cheap (unlikely given his second-half improvement), but otherwise let him walk.

It would be criminal if Bryce doesn't get MVP. LOL@Cespeded talk.

I dont give up hope until we're statistically eliminated. It's more gruelingly soul-crushing that way. Besides, what am i gonna do, watch the Skins?

Anonymous said...

Is this not baseball? It ain't over til it's over.

It's not easy to gain 4 games over 20 games, but it's been done. Often. Early season, mid season, late season. There's room for error with 20 games. 4 over 20 is certainly easier than 7 over 17 (really 8 over 17 since the Phillies finished 1 up). The Nats schedule is set up to make a run. Don't forget the Nats just gained 2.5 games in only 4 games.

The Nats showed they are the superior team against the Cards and Mets. The Nats should have swept them. As Zuckerman pointed out, the Nats are not in first place today only because they beat themselves (led late in every loss to the Cards and Mets).

It's simple now. Keep beating bad teams, which they've done for the last 5 series other than the Cards and Mets, get some help, like they just got from the Red Sox, Phillies, and Marlins before the Mets series, and count on Mets pitching to lose them more games.

The Mets had to come from behind in every game against us. Playing from behind all the time means the Mets should lose enough over the next 20 to give the Nats a chance to catch up.

Harper said...

Anon @ 7:47 : I just don't see how you can watch the Mets all year and not think deGrom has been more important to this entire season. It's great Cespedes has come in and help give the Mets that last needed push to get the stone over the top, but aren't you kind of slighting the guy who helped the most pushing it from the bottom of the hill to near the top?

I'm not firmly in the "best player should win" bc I think if you open it up to a vote you allow for interpretation, but for Cespedes to win you are really limiting the definition to "best player on a playoff team during August and September" I can't go there. I'd vote deGrom before Yoenis.

cass - I'm sure some were booing Storen. Like 30K or so.

MT - I think it's always been a one year bump. I think we'll see a 130 mill payroll but that'll be just maintaining status quo after the departures.

Harper said...

JC _ that's it! Silver linings all around.

Robot - Nats still haven't reached "oh that'll take the best comeback of all time" so I guess you got that going for you.

Anon@ 8:01 - I think the Nats can win. I'd be surprised if they don't go say 11-9, 12-8 down the stretch. I just don't see the Mets doing the necessary 8-12 to make it matter. Their offense and relief staff has been remade in the past months to be a real contender.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 8:01

"and count on Mets pitching to lose them more games."

Umm.... what games are you watching?

And even you're rosiest of scenarios involves a sweep in NY. That's adorable.

SM said...

Extraordinary post, Harper, almost as if you were white hot while writing it.

Fire Williams, you say. No disagreement. But it raises an issue discussed once before.

If Rizzo--I'm assuming he's going nowhere--fires MW, does he hire another "Rizzo guy?"

Nattydread said...

There was a Fire Jim Bowden website. You must've heard about that. It was a good name but I doubt it caused his dismissal.

Time to close the book. Five straight wins, even though four were against a broken team, were almost enough to build up a head of steam. But to lose 3 straight that were the ones you were supposed to win --- and still hope to have a chance? --- well that's being a loyal fan. I gave up the night before last.

As a fairly knowledgable fan, I know the stats and I know, in general terms, which batter would be best and which bullpen member might be best. Hell, I can even do the research for match-ups. What I can't do, and what I'd expect that MW and McCatty and the other coaching staff members might be able to do is what a non-professional cannot do. Know the players. Who is hot. Whose pitches are firing out of his hands, whose bat is electric. One would think that the well-paid crew in the dugout would know more than 35,000 fans watching.

Not Matt Williams. A player's manager like Davey, he puts them in a position to succeed. Unfortunately, though, since he has none of the clairvoyance or foresight or baseball vision of his betters, he ends up putting his players in positions where they fail --- and fail spectacularly. Unforgivable.

Anonymous said...

Good luck Mets. Lets see how you do without the gift of the Nationals bullpen. Perhaps you will get 6 walk 7th inning each game to bail out Neise and Harvey.

Yes you are the best team in the NL East. Just like being the prettiest girl at the North Dakota beauty pageant.

Anonymous said...

^
Let's see how the Nats continue to do WITH their bullpen :)

Anonymous said...

Strasburg was filthy last night and he hardly used the changeup at all, historically his best pitch! His ceiling as a pitcher remains in the stratosphere. I hope next year is the year everything breaks his way.

RIP 2015.

Fries said...

LOL at the Cespedes for MVP comments. The only player in the NL who even has a chance over Harper is The Pride of Arizona Paul Goldschmidt.

Season's done, no use fretting over it at this point. Time to cut Matt loose NOW and let Knorr audition over the last few weeks. Put Turner in the starting lineup to let him get more consistent ABs so we can assess whether it's worth re-signing Desi to a team favorable deal. Let Storen pitch in middle relief and see if he can at least handle non pressure situations, otherwise trade him in the offseason. And for Christ's sake put Escobar at 2nd and let gold glove caliber defender Rendon play 3rd

Anonymous said...

ok...so we are 139 games in... a fair sample by any imagination, yes?? and the Nats are 3 count 'em 3 games over .500 and the Mets are 17 over .500...so, if the Mets go 11-12 over their remaining games; possible but not likely, the Nats would have to go 17-6 just to tie...so, it took 139 games to get 3 games over but all of you think they are going to go 11 games over in the 23 remaining games...with Matt Williams aka the Mets 10th man at the helm...best laugh I've had all day...puhleez

Anonymous said...

@Harper

The Mets middle relief is a mess - throw it on a wall and see what sticks. Sometimes it works, like it did against us unluckily. More often it doesn't. It's an Achilles heel for them. Their starters struggling has put more pressure on the middle relief. Their back end is solid but not airtight. Clippard is mostly effective - like everyone else, I wish we kept him - but he's left a lot of pitches up, like the one to Harper, too.

I grant the revamped Mets offense is legit. I just don't count on them consistently outhitting their worsening pitching like they did against us.

@Anonymous 8:11

The 5 they just lost to 2 last-place teams and 1 2nd-to-last-place team. In other words, the kind of team the Mets will be facing for the next 20 besides the Yankees.

4 over 20 is a relatively conservative scenario. 7 (really 8) over 17 would be a rosier scenario, but not an unprecedented one.

Anonymous said...

well, Werth and Harper predicted the Nats would be the team to beat...boy, were they right

Anonymous said...

@Anonynmous 8:38

Oh my god, stop trotting out that cherry-picked 9 game stretch (without mentioning the Mets 7-game winning streak that directly preceded it). If you wake up to rain, do you think it's going to rain every day for the rest of the year? Your observational logic is astounding.

You just watched de Grom beat a nearly unhittable Strasburg, but you think Shelby Miller is going to put up a fight? Colon just won NL player of the week and hasn't given up a run in 25 innings. Are you new to baseball or just an eternal optimist?

Anonymous said...

I agree that MW should be fired (I thought it should happen after last year's playoff bullpen mismanagement). But the Lerners already picked up MW's option, and unlike Dan Snyder, the Lerners don't seem interested in paying people not to work. Also, the Nats have proven adept at ignoring public pressure when it suits them, as with the Stras shutdown. (Rizzo has the "stiff spine" that Boz evidently wants to see the players grow). The media reports suggesting the Lerners are souring on MW are pretty thinly sourced (see Heyman;s from CBS)

Harper, how likely do you think it is that MW is fired?

something unique not anonymous said...

You know, if you click the Name/URL button instead of Anonymous you wouldn't have to do all these handstands to identify which of the eleventy billion anons is whom. Just type in something unique in the name field fer crissakes!

Anonymous said...

At this point any decision that MW makes will be questioned. If he had left Stras in and he got hammered, people would have screamed why didn't he go to the pen. If Stras had gotten out of the inning, people would have asked why don't you stay with your starters longer knowing how terrible the pen is. MW has lost the confidence of the fans. It's unknown how the players feel about him. People complain that it's unfair to blame the manager-he's not the one at bat or pitching or fielding-that firing him is just offering him up as the sacrificial lamb. However, he's the one deciding how long to go with a starter, he's the one deciding on which reliever to put in, he's the one deciding on bunting or stealing or giving a green light on a 3-0 count so he does affect the game. I simply can't believe that there isn't a better candidate out there.

Jay said...

I am not Harper but I agree that Rizzo is likely to stick with MW in my mind. I think the only way MW goes is if the Lerner family forces Rizzo to get rid of him. My fear is that the Nats will chalk it up to an unusual amount of injuries and otherwise they would have been fine. The Cardinals had a ton of injuries this year too. They haven't used it as an excuse. Plus at what point are you supposed to start looking for other players if the same players keep having an unusual amount of injuries every year.

This team has underachieved since 2013. It's time to shake some things up in my mind. I'd be looking for a catcher, LF and or/CF, a bullpen (entire including closer), and another SP. I'd even think about a 1b if I could figure something else for Zim to do. I'd trade Werth and pay his remaining salary - let him be a statue for another team.

I also think the MASN thing has killed us now for the last two years. The Lerners don't strike me as the types to just wing it and I think they are being more conservative (even with the Sherzer signing) until the MASN thing is resolved. Yet another reason to hate Peter Angelos.

Pete said...

Managers are a lot like umpires -- you don't think about them much until they do something really horrible. I wonder if Matt Williams and Angel Hernandez are drinking buddies.

NatsfanSince2012 said...

6 h2h. We got this. The Pathetic Mets can't take is in the 6 remaining h2h.

JW said...

Anyone who doesn't recognize how fantastic Bryce's season has been is letting their perception of him as a person impact their perception of him as a player. Admittedly, his personality is not everyone's cup of tea. But if you enjoy baseball, he's a great player to watch. If you don't like what he says, you just have to treat him like Dick Vitale -- don't listen to him. But he has objectively played at an incredibly high level.

I also hope things really come together for Strasburg next year. It'll be his last in DC I think. I like Max and I think signing him was a good idea (not necessarily the contract itself), but I do think that, if I were the GM, Max isn't the one pitcher of the three I would have prioritized. If it was pick two, I could see going with Max and then ZNN or Stras. But to think we are most likely two years away from neither ZNN or Stras, and it really hammers home how the MW years were such a waste.

I wish I could feel like next year there is the potential to bounce back, but I think there are just a few too many holes and not enough cash (made available) -- not to mention two huge contracts for two guys who I wouldn't bet on contributing anywhere near equivalent value.

Start playing Turner more regularly ASAP. Gotta see what's there.

Anonymous said...

You're being a little harsh on MDD here...I mean, he did do more at the plate last night than any Nat not named Bryce Harper. Also, while yes, Cespedes did come up big for the Mets in these past 2 games, they also got clutch 8th inning homeruns from Kelly Johnson and Kirk Nieuwenhuis off 2 of the Nats best pitchers. Every team has and uses depth guys- the ones on the Mets just happened to be the ones that came through this week.

VI said...

Harper is having the best offensive season in the ML. However, channeling my inner Branch Rickey, the Nats could've finished 2d in the East without him. No MVV, unless by some miracle they make the playoffs.

Similarly, you can't give the award to someone who only plays for 2 months on the winning team. Sorry Cespedes.

Bill Karim said...

Why do Nats fans keep referring to 6 h2h?? You have 3 left against us h2h, and you are 7 games out. This guy said in his post last night, if the Nats lose on Wednesday and get swept, you have to go into "crazytown" to formulate a way in which the Nats come back to take the division.

Max David said...

My take away from watching the first 2 games, and getting the At Bat notifications and the highlights from last night (I was out at an independent league game, so probably better that I didn't watch it anyways) are that the Mets are simply a better team then the Nats are. Can the Nats catch and pass them?? Sure, until they are 10 games back with 9 games to play that chance is always there, however slim it may be, but I'm with you Harper getting swept it's time to stick a fork in them. We had players that played like they were going to be handed the division and World Series on a silver platter, but outside of Bryce nobody has come close to fulfilling expectations.

Time to give Turner AND Espinosa regular playing time for the rest of the season. In Turner's case, see what we have there, and see whether or not he can be the opening day shortstop next season. In Espinosa's case if we find out Turner is capable of playing every day, hopefully Espinosa has a good few weeks in him, and we can turn him into something useful for a team that needs a SS/2b stop gap for a year or two, or if Turner isn't ready, a hot closing stretch for Espi can hopefully give management confidence he can be the stop gap, at least to start the year, until Turner comes back up.

I was on the fire Matt Williams bandwagon, and his decisions this year and in basically a playoff series were abysmal (Storen yesterday, the Rendon bunt Tuesday, Scherzer batting with 2nd & 3rd Monday), but Mike Rizzo needs to answer some serious questions as well. Sure, MW could've made some better & smarter decisions with the hand he was dealt, but you can only play the cards you are dealt and that's where I take it back to Rizzo. He's made great off season moves but this roster was flawed from the start (no backup plan in case any of the regulars got hurt, no viable bullpen pieces, a rookie manager with a "win now" team, the Papelbon trade when we already had a closer pitching as good as Pap was at the time, not trading Storen when we acquired Pap and demoted Storen, not making ANY attempt to make a waiver trade in August). All questions he should answer, and he should be put on the hot seat as well. I'd fire them both in the offseason actually.

Harper said...

Bill - You know someone that goes by the name "Natsfansince2012" is not actually a Nats fan, right?

Anonymous said...


@ Wildly optimistic anon

Every time you posted something trashing the Mets, they would up serving up a devastating loss to the Nats. 6 in a row. Please keep it up, you are a good luck charm.

W. Patterson said...

Making my comment before reading the comments because, well, I've seen what most of them probably are already in the last few posts. In sum, get rid of Storen, Rizzo, and Williams (not necessarily in that order.)

Wanted to comment first, though, to remark on how well written and, um, restrained Harper was in his post. I can only imagine the seething inside. Good job, Harper.

WiredHK said...

Williams is an easy, no-brainer fire. He is unfit to lead an MLB team and handle a pitching staff. A decently designed computer program can very likely do a better job than he has at nearly every turn. The complicating factor is how wedded Rizzo is to his bad decisions. Personally, I think he is very wedded to them (stubborn). That probably means the Lerners could face a difficult task if they still generally like Rizzo: let 'em both go, or keep 'em both.

I think the decision to keep or let go of Rizzo has a decent balance sheet of Pros and Cons (blog post in closing weeks, Harper?). And, it would be interesting if that sheet was such a close call that the idea of Rizzo staying meaning MW stays may tip it over in favor of ditch 'em both.

I'd be curious to see that decision process laid out for us to chew on as a group.

Harper said...

Anon @ 10:38 - I kind of think "Wildly Optimistic" Nats fan is just trying to troll the trolls.

For those asking I think MW has to go - but there is no reason for him to be fired now so he'll be the rest of the season.

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

Much of interest here (he said, picking his way through the smoking rubble). Intrigued by the notion (above) that as a GM, Rizzo is a great scout - that'd explain his strengths (ID'ing prospects, drafting, trading - good work on balance there) and also his weaknesses (picking managers, understanding chemistry).

Not sure he and the Lerners are behind Williams for 2016. Did anyone notice Rizzo's comment yesterday to Barry Svrluga? " “Matt Williams is our manager,and he’s going to lead us through this stretch. I’ve always supported him. We’re not going to talk about 2016 while 2015 is ongoing.” If that isn't a setup for a postseason dismissal, I don't know what is.

Worried about the Lerners and "topped out." They don't seem to get that running a baseball team isn't like running Tyson's Corner. There are times when you have to get irrational and go all-in. Think they will? Or are they going to manage us to a profitable, rational third- or fourth-place performance?

Hope this isn't the beginning of a long downslope.

Jay said...

I saw that comment from Rizzo A.G.A. I wasn't sure if it was a vote of no confidence or if he was just tired of answering the question. Time will tell I guess.

Also, I agree with your comment about the Lerners. I have to admit I'm am rather tired of hearing owners talk about budget and the payroll is to high. No one asked you to buy a major league baseball team. Anyone that is buying a major sports team is doing it out of ego. You don't run said sports team like a business, because you get an obscene amount of money out of the team when you sell it. Not in the year-to-year running of the team. I think teams are more of a public trust - a good example is Mike Ilitch in Detroit. The next time the Lerners think owning the Nationals is all about them they can purchase their own stadium without public funding and watch it all by themselves with no TV or radio coverage. Then it can be all about them, and not until then.

I will now get off of my soapbox. Sorry for the rant.

SM said...

@Jay

No need to apologize for your concise, first-rate rant

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

@Jay - an additional factor here (and I apologize for repeating myself about this - I know I've posted about it before) is the MASN litigation. It has the potential to be a blanket excuse and/or litigation-related strategy for a payroll cap. Blanket excuse, publicly: "We can't spend more because we're being denied the regional TV revenues we deserve." Litigation strategy, privately: "It weakens our case against MASN and Angelos if we up our payroll spending - litigation success requires we demonstrate that we can't field a competitive team without a payroll increase that could only come from the revenues we're suing for. So let's keep the payroll level no matter what our actual financial picture." Depressing in either case.

I agree about the public trust aspects, but ownership is apt to say that they've met that by giving us a team to watch. Quality is purely a private-sector thing. I don't agree, but it wouldn't surprise me to find out that that's how they think.

So... back to an era of Wily Mo Pena-caliber teams, then?

Anonymous said...

Davey Johnson even at 80 years can still out-manage Williams and most MLB managers.

Al said...

Matt Williams should head over to Fangraphs every once in awhile.

Drew Storen Career Leverage Statistics
HR/9 K% BB% BABIP LOB% FIP xFIP
Low Leverage 0.99 23.8% 5.6% .310 79.8% 3.35 3.23
Medium Leverage 0.26 26.7% 6.3% .300 88.0% 2.21 3.02
High Leverage 0.53 19.7% 9.6% .227 56.0% 3.53 4.10

vjwhitmore said...

What seems to be overlooked in all of the 8th inning debacle, is the shear fact that in the bottom of the 8th the Nats retook the momentum of the game. Harper's hr had swung the momentum. The Mets got a great defensive play to kill what could have been a rally, but the tide had swung.
Then on to the 9th.
MW brings in our closer to stifle any momentum swing back to the Mets. 1st batter Duda doubles , next batter moves him over, and then next knocks him in...
Momentum back to the Mets, game over.

The closer is supposed to not only closer a game but to be the stopper...

Harper said...

Look, let's all be honest here. The Mets are just a better team than the Nats, have a better fan base, and better coaches. deGrom and Harvey are 100 times better than Stras and Scherzer. Cespedes could eat Bryce for lunch. The Captain David Wright is an amazing presence. I anticipate the Nats rebuilding for 20 years and the Mets winning the Division in all of those years to come.

vjwhitmore said...

Papelbon also choked big time in this series.

vjwhitmore said...

I agree that this year the Mets have been the better team. Unlike many Nats fans I concede that both teams dealt with major injuries, but no excuses. The Mets front office also took realized that even though teams look great on paper, due to may reasons it is difficult to get to the postseason, so the made the moves to enable themselves. Whereas the Nats front office assumed it was inevitable that they would be there, making no critical moves to enhance their chances.
One can argue all day about the Papelbon move, but lets face it we were expecting for all to be clicking at 100% which is "pie in the sky".

Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHA..... Werth was right the Nationals are the team to beat....and beat, and beat. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

vjwhitmore said...

Also some on here argue that "we picked up 2.5 games in a 4 game stretch"... yes this is true. But let's also be realistic we just lost 3 games in a 3 game stretch, give back what we had made up and more.
Is it impossible for the Nats to make a miraculous comeback, No.
Is it improbable, Yes.

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

The Wily Mo Pena comment was, of course, a bit of rhetoric - I don't envision the Nats sliding back to those days, not all at once. Though actually I feel some nostalgia for the days of Wily Mo and Elijah Dukes and Cristian Guzman - only because they were the first Nats I came across when I got here in late '07, and also because things were a lot more relaxed back then and I miss that. High expectations take energy, disappointment doesn't happen when you have no expectations to begin with...

But what does worry me is an era of just-enough payrolls, with no margin for the crazy acquisition that puts you over the top. So to me there's a risk of contending but not quite getting there, sort of like the Reds the past few years before this one.

But there are more immediate concerns: firing Matt Williams, for example...

Mets2015 said...

@vjwhitmore

Thank you for actually giving the Mets some credit without infusing your post with defensive sarcasm, passive aggressive potshots or predictions on how poorly the Mets will do in the playoffs. Appreciated.

VI said...

A lot of criticisms focusing on Nats penny pinching at the deadline. The Nats took on $11.4M in financial obligations with the Papelbon acquisition through 2016. The Mets took on $11.1M with the trades for Cespedes, Clippard, Uribe, and Kelly Johnson.

With $160M payroll, flat attendance from last year, and a 1.9 TV rating (down 34%), I don't think one can characterize the Lerners of operating on the cheap.

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

@VI - Fair points, but you also need to look at the structure of the contracts. The Nats like to do deferred compensation deals, sometimes hugely deferred.

Attendance is actually up somewhat - 908 per game per Baseball Reference today - not a radical increase but they're building on a large base, and also the team has been drawing for several seasons, so increases won't be as sharp as they are for teams just coming into contention (Mets and Blue Jays, for example). Also, ticket prices are going up, in some cases sharply.

All of this is beside the point. The issue isn't overall payroll - this is marginal analysis. What's ownership's stomach for, say, the extra-budget $10m that gets you the bat that takes you deep into October. So it's not, will they spend, but rather, will they spend a chunk more, impulsively, to get a big return?

I'm not sure how major this issue really is, but it keeps cropping up in the Rizzo-leaks-to-Boswell columns, so there seems to be some tension about it in the organization.

One factor to consider among many others.

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

Also, the ability to spend more on payroll is very much in play in the MASN litigation - a big part of the argument for a reset to parity with comparable markets is the potential impact on payroll (and related ability to put a better product on the field). So to an extent, the payroll issue was introduced by ownership itself.

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

From Sports on Earth today, an interesting piece by Jeff Long (adapted from his Baseball Prospectus article) about whether it's possible to measure manager performance, and how to do it. Some good insights into leverage and how it counts:

http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/147801776/matt-williams-nationals-bullpen-criticism?partnerId=ed-9659904-658620023

Andrew said...

This Cespedes for MVP talk is nuts. Yeah, Cespedes has been great since he became a Met. But Bryce Harper has been much better over a period four times as long. Even if you think the quality of the overall team matters, the Mets are the FIFTH best team in the National League. And how many baseball writers won't even consider casting an NL MVP ballot for a player who has been in the NL for less than half the season? I think it's a pretty large number.

Harper said...

Uh oh. Evil alternate Harper raised in Jackson Heights is loose.

blovy8 said...

II know they are going to act like they can win 12 in a row until it doesn't happen, but I agree with playing Turner and Espy more. I also would like to see if Cole has his fastball command back - can he be any worse that what we've seen out of the pen? They should probably just shut Ross down, and let Taylor sit awhile because if his knee is still swelling up what's the point? I'm not even sure that's a worse lineup, unless you are in denial about the diagnostic capabilities of the training staff.

blovy8 said...

Harper, that other guy was I.W. Harper.

W. Patterson said...

Evil twin?

Anonymous said...

7.5

Anonymous said...

@vjwhitmore

Those 3 games were lost playing the Mets. Nats should have swept the Mets anyway, but regardless, we're not playing the Mets in any of the next 20 games.

The point is that we gained 2.5 games over 4 games because the Nats are consistently beating the kind of teams we'll be playing over the next 20 games and the Mets lost a bundle to the kind of teams they'll be playing for their next 20 games, except the Yankees who are tougher.

Believe:
http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/62671/mets-fans-dont-read-this-greatest-september-collapses

It's too soon to give up. The schedule is set up for the Nats to make a run at a winner-take-all rematch - picking up 4 over 20 is all we need.

Max David said...

@eternally optimistic anon,

It's over. I doubt we'll even sweep the Mets or even win the series @ Citi Field anyways, so in actuallity we have to go into that series probably tied or even 1 game up, so when you look at it that way, we have to gain 7.5 to 8.5 games in 20 games. The 07 Mets blew a 7 game lead in 17 games, even the 07 & 08 Mets think losing 8.5 games in 20 days is impossible.

Max David said...

And also, in the same stretch we went 6-3 against the Brewers, Padres & Marlins, the Mets went 7-2 against the Rockies, Phillies & Red Sox, so keep bring up that small sample 3 game series @ the Marlins. That same weekend we were playing the AA Braves and were actually lucky to win the Friday game otherwise the lead would be 8.5 right now. Meanwhile, the results this weekend are reversed: Mets @ the Braves, Nats @ Marlins. But keep bringing up that 6 game sample size though.

blovy8 said...

I think three things would need to happen for a collapse to begin:

Familia would have to lose command and start blowing saves.
Cespedes would have to get hurt, let's say an oblique, hasn't that happened to everyone this year?
This skipping starts thing will screw up their rotation so that they won't be effective, leaving them to think Colon is now their best pitcher

Vladdy27 said...

@eternally optimisitic anon

I really wish the standings were ranked by who "should have" won, but you've got to play the games. They won. We lost. I see the Mets continuing to beat the sub-.500 teams like they have all year... 11-8 sounds about right... and that'll be that. And if you think the Yankees are a better team than the Mets, I've got news for you.

blovy8 said...

Also, I just read Avila's quote regarding Brad Ausmus who seems to pretty much be a dead man walking in Detroit. Eerily similar to Rizzo's "vote of condfidence" for Williams. It just reminds me of all the times Yankee managers would get fired after similar denials. Hell, it was the stuff of Miller Lite commercials with Martin and Steinbrenner.

Gr8day4Bsbll said...

It's been hilarious to read all the Mets fan trolling going on here. These are the same tools who for the first half of the season were crying in their watery beer and calling for Collins' head. Now that they've won a few and are going to win the NLeast, the trolls come out and jump back on the bandwagon. Funny, but also pathetic.

Enjoy your two and out against ANYONE else in the NL, guys. We'll see you on the golf course earlier in October than you think...

Fries said...

Irregardless of who makes the postseason at this point, neither team is any good. Both would lose in the first round to the unstoppable force of Greinke, Kershaw, and whatever shmuck they put in for the third game.

Anonymous said...

@Gr8 2 and out? What about game 3?

@Fries speak for the Nats, buddy.

Rob Evans said...

"Thank you for actually giving the Mets some credit without infusing your post with defensive sarcasm, passive aggressive potshots or predictions on how poorly the Mets will do in the playoffs. Appreciated."

Do you really expect to come to a Nats blog and read about how good the LOLMets are? I mean really?

Anonymous said...

LOLNatslolololololOLOLOLOLOL

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, cheer up. Remember the '04 Red Sox? They made up a 0-3 deficit in the ALCS to beat their rival winning 4 straight. 4 games made up in about 4 days!

But...these Nats aren't those Red Sox. I vividly recall a Sox team that was relaxed, lucid, and laughing after being beat 19-8 in Game 3 by NY. They had an attitude of "don't let us win tonight. Yankees, don't let us win tonight. Because we got Lowe going tonight, Pedro coming at you in Game 5, then big Schill in game 6. And anything can happen in Game 7. Just don't let us win tonight."

That type of attitude has never existed here in Washington. Especially when the chips are down. Fans say "here we go again" (as they did in Boston in '04), but the players tend to agree. No, they don't have to say it. "Get back up on that horse and play tomorrow..." These Nats are soft, they are stiff, they watch in utter disbelief every time as a team with the slightest bit of confidence steamrolls theirs. And no, not after the game is blown. WHILE IT'S HAPPENING. Zero fight with this group.

I can't do it. I can't sit here and watch a team waste the talent of Bryce Harper (for the moment in time that he's wearing that mickey-mouse curley W), similar to how the Redskins wasted the Sean Taylor years. I don't really blame Rizzo, nor the Lerners. I don't blame our fan base so much either. But I do blame whatever toxic air is being pumped into that dugout/clubhouse on a daily basis. Werth? Williams? McCatty? A pouty Drew Storen who would rather give the ball to any of the 30,000+ fans watching him pussy out on our season? I can't do it anymore guys. Our fans deserve better.

...And then I think of the time several of the Nationals when to a Caps playoff game and hung out in their lockerroom with the Caps players earlier this year. They were laughing, having casual conversation and it genuinely looked like they had a lot in common. Well, I was right: Cant. Finish. Off. An. Opponent.

This town ain't big enough for 2 chokers.

Sincerely,

DC Born-and-raised since '88, heartbroken since as long as I've had a memory.

Anonymous said...

As a Mets fan I have enjoyed reading this site to get great analysis on the Nats and the fan base's perspective on the race. Sorry for the trolls but all fan bases have them....

The bottom line is the race was lost when your GM didn't get reinforcements at the trade deadline. You needed to get some BP arms, another OF to bench help. I guess the GM didn't take the Mets seriously enough or though the current roster was good enough to be a WS champion. Not the case.

Just getting Papelbon (IMO - who was a distant third to Chapman and Kimbrel) was fortunate for the Mets. Watching him pitch he throws to many balls over the plate.

Anonymous said...

And to add to that ^ I see:

In Bryce, Papelbon, and Scherzer, even ZNNand Ross a "I'll kick your teeth in" type of attitude. Those guys are winners.

In Werth: I see a calculated effort to disguise his flowing hair, so laid-back, so confident, type of aura with a winners attitude. Dude is a fraud, and unfortunately our "team leader."

In Ryan Zimmerman, Rendon, Strasburg, Ramos, Espinosa: I see "could care less kind of approach."

In Desmond, Storen, Treinen, Gio: I see a scared, just got kicked in the balls, I think I'm going to throw up. That right there - has zero room for on any club. Get em out. I would rather have all the others than this

Harper said...

Anon - "The bottom line is the race was lost when your GM didn't get reinforcements at the trade deadline." I'll add to that "and the injury returnees played like crap for a month." Whether just a slump or still getting over injuries the fact that Werth, Zimm and Rendon took weeks to get up to speed while d'Arnaud and Wright came in at more respectable levels, helped separate two squads who up to that point had bounced around a few games from eachother.

Sammy Kent said...

Fire Mike Rizzo. When a team has five aces and still folds........