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.