Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - on the road

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Monday Quickie - on the road

I was out Friday - I'm out today, but here's a discussion topic.

METS

Here's another one. Nats have now officially been playing .500 ball for a month. 14-14 since April 16th. Outside of MAT doing really well in strategic usage nothing has really changed. Bench, Bryce, Ramos, Murphy do well. Rest don't. The result is an average offense that the pitching has to try to carry. Biggest hole is Werth. What's the play here? MAT back full time? Platoon use of bench? Do you really think either are long-term solutions?

Talk amongst yourselves.

44 comments:

Rob Evans said...

I think they need to package some pitching and maybe MAT together to try and get an OF bat. Werth can't drag this team down through the AS break. I'd say give him another month.

Robot said...

I propose fewer dropped infiled-flies, more Zimmerman homers and/or on-field collisions, and get Papelbon to choke Syndergaard before the game.

Jay said...

I say trade for Charlie Blackmon and bring Turner up. Blackmon takes Revere's place. Revere and Werth can share time. Blackmon is a lefty and can bat leadoff. Turner adds speed and a little better bat. They really need Zim to do his June bat is on fire thing. Otherwise, I agree the offense is ok and can't beat good pitching. Most likely they will just wait it out figuring Zim will eventually hit and Revere will eventually hit. It will be interesting to see if anything is done now that they know that have Strasburg for at least 3 more years.

Also, Ross and Roark were pretty pedestrian this weekend. Roark can't pitch against the Marlins - and he faces them again next week in Miami, and Ross has run out of steam in the 6th his last two starts - both times 5 runs or more I think.

Anonymous said...

Rendon scares me almost as Werth. I expected Werth to be slow and declining. I did not expect to see Rendon being lifted for a pinch hitter!

Sec314

Sammy Kent said...

New season, same old lament. No offense. The Nationals celebrated the extension of Mike Rizzo's contract by doing what they do best, and what they've done best for the duration of his General Managership: NOT hit the ball and NOT score runs. A tribute to the man that runs a major league baseball team with the mantra that hitting is optional. Saturday was another in the long episode of the Nationals looking like a bunch of Little Leaguers against a weasely-eyed rookie that can't get the ball over the plate if he throws over 85 mph. Two runs in two games....and the only reason they scored one Sunday was a collision in the outfield that let Ryan Zimmerman circle the bases. Pathetic. But not uncommon no matter what year it is. As always, if our starting pitching isn't darn near stellar, we're screwed. The Lerners aren't very good learners. As long as Rizzo is GM, we'll have a roster loaded with bargain basement guys that can't hit their weight with men on base.

Gatsby said...

FanGraphs projects the Nats to have 91 wins - tied with the Mets for second in the NL. I see the Nats waiting until the trading deadline to gauge their collective health - and then trading for a bat.

sirc said...

The Nats aren't likely to do anything before July, right? With the possible exception of calling up Turner next month, of course. And I'm not sure that would help considering how well Danny has played of late.

Revere and Rendon, Rev and Run, need to get on base. Until that happens I don't see things improving much.

BornInDC said...

Maybe let Heisey play more in place of Werth? Heisey is currently #4 behind Murphy, Harper and Ramos in OWAR despite have only about 1/3 as many ABs as a starter. Even if Heisey revers to his more typical numbers, he would still be an improvement over Werth 2015.

Miles Treacy said...

if the wrist is fine, go get Braun. i'm sure the asking price will be too high though.

Bjd1207 said...

Ugh Papelbon and Braun on the same team...I'm not usually one to let personalities trump performance but at some point we hit critical mass and I can't root for a bunch of jerks

Nattydread said...

This is baseball. You have a hot streak and get 10 games above .500 then you tread water until you catch fire again. It was a difficult month of games.

Still, there is real reason to be worried when pitchers (Ross, Scherzer) have higher batting averages than the entire meat of your line-up. I don't blame Rizzo. He brought in Murphy (+++) as well as Revere (--- so far). So if Werth is a bust, don't expect Rendon, Zimmerman and Revere to stay this bad forever. We need two of them to get hot and the line-up looks much better.

Call me an optimist.

Donald said...

The goal for the Nats in NYC is to not get swept. Toughest game may be the first one against Syndergaard. Would be great to get an early win to take the pressure off. I hope the good Scherzer shows up.

Robot said...

@Nattydread - I think you are correct about Zim and Revere (and, unfortunately, Werth). They have never been this bad, and I expect them to pick things up soon enough.

My biggest concern is Rendon. We haven't seen 2014 Rendon since...well, 2014. Will he return to that level of production, or has he been completely derailed? I certainly hope he does, but I think he's the big question mark in all of this.

JC said...

BABIP

Werth 0.232 (career 0.325)
Revere 0.105 (career 0.321)

League avg 0.301

People need to chill.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know a good Mets blog? I want to see what the third place team's fans are talking about.

Fries said...

I'm not concerned with Revere, he's had terrible luck. .105 BABIP is the unluckiest of the unlucky. He's been hitting the ball hard, just right at people. Revere will turn around.

Rendon...I'm not so sure. I'd love Tony Two Bags to come back...but I'm getting concerned.

Fries said...

Oops, JC beat me to the BABIP

SM said...

Sammy Kent - The descriptive phrase of the year: "weasely-eyed rookie."

My hat is off to you, sir.

Ryan DC said...

FWIW, looking at batted ball information suggests that both Werth and Rendon have been crushing the ball, so once those hits start falling in and their HR/FB rates experiences some positive regression they'll be fine. (Rendon's rate is currently minuscule 4.4%, which is way out of line with his exit velocity, batted ball distances, and career numbers.) And as a team we have one of the lowest BABIPs in baseball, which will rise by at least 10-15 points, possibly more, over the course of the season. I'm more worried about Zimmerman, who was hitting the ball very hard last year but not so much this year (although his patented summer hot streak might only be a couple weeks away), and Ramos, who puts the ball on the ground waaaay too much and is headed for a substantial BABIP collapse if he doesn't start elevating more.

Anonymous said...

Now you've done it, Sammy Kent. Soon the apologists will come in and atack you, claiming that it's actually a great offense because they can score dozens of runs against a bunch of bum relief pitchers in Colorado.

Richard Parker said...

Just call me cynical, but I don't see this season getting any better than it is right now. Bryce will still hit and Murphy will, too, although he'll sink back closer to his career averages. Revere will eventually start hitting, too. Beyond that, I'm skeptical. I doubt very much that Ramos will keep up this pace, if he even stays healthy. Werth is basically done, I think. Zimmerman is in decline because of accumulated injuries and won't ever be the .280, 20+ homer guy he used to be. If he ends up hitting .250 this year I'd be surprised. Rendon is an enigma but looks like he's lost at the plate. The rest of the lineup is a joke, despite occasional good games from Espinosa and the bench.

Pitching has been good but face it, it won't last. Roark is up and down recently and Gio won't keep up this pace. Ross has a future but is already showing inconsistency. The only chance is for Scherzer to turn it on and for Strasburg to keep up the pace. That's asking for a lot, considering Max's rough start and Stras' tendency for injury.

Basically I see them winning 82-84 games this year. I hope I'm wrong but they just don't seem like a team that looks like they're shooting for a division title.

JC said...

Maybe some of you should switch to a team in the AL. The Nationals are designed to be a pitching first offense second type of team. At present I think the offense is under performing which I take as a good thing given where we are sitting in the standings. Of our currently underperforming players (Zimm,Werth,Rendon.Revere) at least two of them have objective reasons to think that that there current offensive production is due for a positive regression. I also am willing to give Rendon the benefit of the doubt given his age. If either Revere or Rendon (hopefully both) start to produce even half decent offensive numbers then there will be downstream effects on Bryce. At the moment we have 4.24 runs per game (14th in the league). The Mets have 4.11 (21st in the league). Both teams are philosophically constructed in a similar fashion. I think this season will play out with the Mets/Nats having similar records against all the other teams in the division. Ultimately who wins the division will come down to the H2H games.

Jay said...

Wow. They're in first place. This website will implode if the Nats lose a few and fall to 4th. The NL East is actually pretty good this year. The Mets are the Mets, as expected. The Phillies have rebounded much quicker than expected. They actually have some talent. I don't think they will keep it up the entire year, but they are definitely better. The Marlins have a legit manager now instead of the GM managing the team. They have some talent as well. It's very difficult to sweep a double header. That is why winning those first two was such a big deal. I agree the offense needs to play better. Right now, the Nats offense can't beat a good pitcher. The Mets series coming up looks pretty scary. But I do expect the Nats to hit. Everyone freaks out about Zim, but come June he heats up. He is the type of hitter that tends to get hot for weeks at a time. He can sometimes even carry a team with his bat. Renton will hit, but he does do much better when the guy in front of him is hitting above .100. The entire month of May is brutal for the Nats. They are halfway through and still in first place. The Mets just got swept in Colorado and Matt Harvey has an ERA over 4. You don't see Mets fans jumping off the ledge. I agree with JC and Nattydread. Have some faith.

Robot said...

You don't see Mets fans jumping off the ledge.

Heh. That's because there aren't any unless the team is in first place.


I agree that the cynicism is overstated. I think Revere just needs time to adjust, and I expect Zim to heat up soon. Werth has had a lot of bad luck and, though I think his best days are probably behind him, I expect him to improve from where he has been so far this year.

This weekend saw strangely chilly and damp weather for mid-May. Yeah, the opposing team had to deal with it, too, but I think that definitely affected things. Plus, the Marlins seem to have Tanner's number in a way that no other team does.

JE34 said...

Well said, JC. There have been a few bad at-bats lately (Rendon's 3-pitch K, with 2 on, one out yesterday was pretty heinous) but the slumping hitters are hitting it harder (except Werth). They'll be OK.

As for scoring... the runs per game average is interesting, but look at it by game:

April runs/game: 4,3,4,4,6,2,3,6,9,8,2,1,7,3,1,8,2,6,3,0,0,5,6
May runs/game: 6,2,6,13,2,6,5,3,5,4,3,5,6,1,1

In a month and a half, 38 games (assuming no typos)...
They had 11 games scoring <=2 runs...
They scored 3 in a game six times...
Which means they scored 4 or more runs 21 times.

And their record lines up almost exactly with the 4 run threshold... they're 23-15. Score four or more, boys! Extrapolate the 4+ run games over the year and you get 90 wins (not enough)...but that's with some smoking holes in the lineup.

I reserve the right to continue to lose my mind at all the stranded baserunners, but it stands to reason that Revere and Rendon will be OK, and that the 4+ run games will become more frequent.



Kenny B. said...

"The Lerners aren't very good learners." How long have you been hanging onto that one?

I understand the pessimism, given the recent series (which was still a split, guys, calm down) and the general DC sports fan predilection for negativity. Still, the offense is slumping, BABIP is a little out of whack on the low side, and we're *still* in first place in what has turned out to be the toughest division in the league up to this point. This is really not that bad a place to be, baseball-wise. And it's not like the Mets have been setting the league on fire lately. We don't have to have the best offense in MLB to be competitive. We just need to beat the Mets and get randomly hot in October.

The Mets H2H series will be telling, and we will learn a lot about both teams. (and seriously, wtf is with the Phillies?)

Rob Evans said...

"Anyone know a good Mets blog? I want to see what the third place team's fans are talking about."

Excellent trolling my friend...excellent. lol

Where are all those LOLMets fans now?

Crickets....

John C. said...

You don't see Mets fans jumping off the ledge

Heh. Only if you deliberately don't look. Stop by Amazing Avenue or any other Mets blog, and you will find their own version of DOOOOOOOMsayers loudly proclaiming how terrible the 2016 Mets are.

Fans are fans, and it's much easier (and apparently more popular) to be negative than positive regardless of your rooting interest.

Mitch said...

Not so much a complaint, but a philosophical thought: How often do we mention players "under-performing" (Werth, Zim) before it's no longer under-performing, but simply performing? It is natural, but often difficult for us to truly accept, that players in their stages will noticeably decline each year.

Rob Evans said...

I'm with ya Mitch. I don't like sitting around waiting until June/July every year to see if guys will perform. I think it's time to be more proactive about it.

Jay said...

The Mets rotation has been having some issues. Harvey hasn't been pitching as well this year. His velocity is down. He keeps saying that he doesn't "feel right on the mound" but he's going to work through it. I also knew that Matz had skipped a start and was getting an MRI of his elbow today - he has the dreaded forearm tightness. I knew DeGrom's velocity was down. This was mentioned in spring training, and the response was - oh it's spring training. His velocity is down 2 mph (Matz' velocity is down as well). Boz just mentioned in his chat that Syndergaard had an MRI on his elbow on May 1 due to elbow pain. The Mets organization has already shown that it pretty much ignores medical advice. People will say - oh there is no consensus about innings limits and big increases in most innings thrown in a year. That is true, but there is a difference between using different numbers and pretty much ignoring them like the Mets did last year. These guys may all bounce back and carry the Mets to a Series title, but how long do they hold up? Also, what impact does this have on how the Mets are viewed as an organization?

The Nats are conservative with pitcher workload for the most part. As a result, J Zimm gets a nice deal with the Tigers. They draft Giolitto and Fedde. Strasburg signs an extension. Everyone thought the Braves were genius to bring Medlen back in the bullpen and thus "limit" his innings. It worked for that year. He blew out his elbow again along with another of their starting pitchers (sorry I've forgotten his name). That lead directly to the Braves blowing it up.

Granted pitchers get hurt. The Nats might have 2-3 guys go down in the next month. But at least they are trying to do it the right way. They are trying to take care of the player. It makes a difference in the long run. If Harvey blows out his arm in the next year or two, you can't tell me that won't impact future negotiations between the Mets and any Boras client.

Sammy Kent said...

Anonymous said...
Anyone know a good Mets blog? I want to see what the third place team's fans are talking about.

I wouldn't get too high and mighty just yet. Before the end of the week you may only have to check in here to see what the third place team's fans are talking about.

Not trying to be a pessimist....just sayin'-------

Chaz R said...

It's really not that bad.... yet. The pitching and defense is still very good. The offense is still waiting on a more consistent Zim, Rendon, and Revere. I think they will most likely be much better. Werth is big question mark, but the offense can still be good with Ramos hitting well, Harper and Murph staying consistent (expecting some drop off from Murph), and a little more from Zim, Rendon, and Revere. As long as we are holding our own with the Mets, I don't think there's any need for quick moves right now.

Weasely-eyed rookie said...

Sammy Kent -- My attorneys are currently preparing a libel and defamation action.

Sammy Kent said...

@ Mitch....I hear you, brother. Year after year we hear Bob, F.P., and Ray all saying "We're still waiting for the offense to show up," when in fact, the offense HAS showed up. This is pretty much it, and pretty much what it's been for five years plus and what it's almost certainly destined to be as long as Mike Rizzo is the guy shopping for players: stretches of anemic batting and low run production interrupted by the occasional one or two game double-digit blowout. I'd rather have a team that averages three runs a game by actually SCORING three runs a game, than to be like the Nationals, averaging four runs a game by scoring 2, 2, 2, and 8 every four games. Team 1 will score 162 fewer runs over the season, but head to head they'll beat the Nationals three out of four.

Anonymous said...

Sammy, you will never be a true D.C. sports fan if you keep focusing on how we do against pitchers like Fernandez, Bumgarner, Kershaw, DeGrom, Harvey, etc. This is Losertown USA, and you need to learn to lower your standards a little. How you do against all those bum relief pitchers in Colorado, now THAT right there is the true measure of greatness, my friend.

Bjd1207 said...

@Sammy Kent - How does the Daniel Murphy signing fit into your perpetual disdain for Rizzo? We're obviously not going to completely blow up a team that's won the division in 2 of the past 4 years. But you're probably correct in saying that our offense has left something to be desired for much of that stretch.

Werth and Zim's contracts are pretty much unmoveable, We've got an offensive prospect coming up at SS, and we've got young, team controlled, talent at RF and 3B. I think it's fair to say that Rendon deserves some time to develop. So what exactly do you do to add offense? Go out and sign an offense first 2B? Maybe a steady leadoff guy? Check and check. The leadoff obviously hasn't panned out as he intended but the offense first mentality was definitely there for both signings, and knocked it out of the park so far with Murph.

So lament all you want about the current production of Werth, Zim, and Rendon. I'm right there with you. But please stop acting like Rizzo's asleep at the wheel

blovy8 said...

Unless they're trading Giolito or Robles, there's no real offensive upgrade coming. Just other flawed guys you'll be pissed off at inside of two weeks, Sammy.

No way they want Jose Reyes' baggage and he's probably not better than letting Turner have the job when Espy falls back under the Mendoza line in June. Why take on a drug-free? Braun and hope for anything at his price? The Carloses are mortals in fair parks. Who would you get? Trout? How much would that take? Giolito, Lopez, Bautista, maybe Ward. The Angels need everything. I'd only hold onto Robles and Turner if I could, but everyone's fair game if they're willing. Wouldn't be Rizzo's style at all. But the Angles make lousy trades all the time.

Sammy Kent said...

@Bjd..... The Daniel Murphy signing goes under the category of luck. I love what Daniel Murphy has done thus far, but there's no way in this world Rizzo thought Murph would have the numbers he's put up. I think Rizzo's approach in the trade and free agent market is way too conservative and a bargain basement shopping approach, hoping to grab some pretty good players relatively cheap that will then turn around and have career seasons. It would work if they all turned out like Daniel Murphy. As often as not, they are closer to Dan Uggla.

I'd rather have a GM that will show some creativity and guts, make the blockbuster deal where you give up something that somebody wants to get something you need. Rizzo doesn't like to give up anything. Since Adam LaRoche left we've had a power shortage in the infield and been missing 30 HRs and 90 RBIs that STILL haven't been replaced. A more daring GM could have, for example, worked a trading deadline deal to send Ian Desmond and a pitching prospect and maybe another bencher to Cincinnati for Todd Frazier---an All Star caliber infielder with a lot of power. When I mentioned that on this board people hooted because "Cincinnati would never trade Frazier." But they did. Now he's helping the White Sox kick some serious butt in the AL Central.

blovy8 said...

Anon, Harvey might not be a good pitcher anymore, look at the drop in K rate 10.62, 9.64, 8.94, 8.08 the last four years. 57 hits in 42.1 innings and an era near 5 so far. Sure he's getting hit more than he should be, but at least other underperforming guys like Price and Scherzer are still striking guys out. At least this year we have Revere and Murphy who are the kind of pests that get hits off those guys.

Bjd1207 said...

@Sammy Kent - Lol the one glaring counter example, and most recent Rizzo move, isn't a sign of doing exactly what you're asking of him, but instead just dumb luck? Come on, you've gotta at least come at this fairly. To hang him for all his bad moves and call his good moves "luck" is just proudly displaying your bias. People were extremely skeptical of the Murph signing, but as I said it's a clear case of Rizzo putting offense as a priority ahead of defense or other factors. Murphy was seen as a capable hitter and a suspect defender and Rizzo pulled the trigger. How else do you explain him doing that except to say that he was hunting for offense?

And the Whit Sox gave up their top hitting prospect and 2 young highly rated pitchers in the Frazier deal. Why would they ever want half a year of Desmond or a bench MLB'er? The more realistic deal would have been something like Turner, Fedde, and a 3rd. Or Giolito and one other guy maybe if they really wanted a #1 starter (but with Sale I don't think so).

Oh by the way, that would probably have precluded the Daniel Murphy deal, which means we'd be looking at Espinosa and Rendon up the middle and we'd still be having this conversation.

Robot said...

Bjd, you are missing Mr. Kent's main point, which is that everything wrong with the team is Rizzo's fault, everything good that happens is luck, great pitching doesn't count, and neither does a solid group of players in the pipeline.

Robot said...

Really, what Rizzo needs to do is just trade Revere for Trout and Pujols, then see if the O's will bite on Manny Machado for Espinoza.

Otherwise, he's just a worthless chump who should be sent packing, two divisional titles and current first place notwithstanding. Luck, remember.

Sammy Kent said...

@ Robot....Bjd certainly did miss the main point, but your sarcasm is really unnecessary in what should be a friendly discussion among fans. The point is that despite Rizzo's willingness to pony up huge dollars for all star pitchers, he shops for batters (particularly infielders) in the cheap section, getting guys that hit for moderate-at-best average and very little power....and it costs us in the end. Asdrubal Cabrera, Yunel Escobar, Dan Uggla all fit the mold. Daniel Murphy is exactly such a batter. His ability to thus far exceed expectations doesn't change the truth about Rizzo's approach. Neither does Ben Revere's inability to thus far even MEET expectations....and Rizzo signed him too. He's the same kind of hitter. Rizzo will be bold and brave on pitchers (and I LIKE that), and pick up a fair free agent occasionally, but we'll never see the daring, courageous trade where we actually surrender something valuable we have plenty of (pitching and prospects) to get something of equally high value we sorely lack and desperately need (consistent power and production).

If Murphy was a lifetime 30-90 hitter and Rizzo actually went out and made a blockbuster deal to bring such a known valuable commodity to the team, I'd give him credit for "one glaring counter-example." But Murphy's not, and Rizzo didn't. He's a lifetime .280-10-60 guy Rizzo got as a free agent (after trying and failing to get 35 yo Ben Zobrist) that is hitting 120 points above his average. I'm glad he is, but one signing that's working out great doesn't make Rizzo a genius or prove that he is willing to deal and trade for offense. As for the solid group of players in the pipeline, I hope at least one of them is that 30-90 infielder we've lacked since Adam LaRoche left. If there IS one in the pipeline he needs to be in the fast lane to the show. Trea Turner ain't it, though I think he's going to be great in other ways. Except for Bryce Harper we don't have a single 30-90 guy on the entire frickin roster. NOT ONE.

Your remarks vis a vis Machado for Espinosa are just silly, and you miss the point entirely about creative trading. The White Sox didn't have to mortgage the house and farm to get Todd Frazier. It just took a little savvy and smarts and a willingness to take a bold step to get an All Star infielder. We could have had him or any of three or four other power batters, and his 30 taters and his 100 RBI, and it wouldn't have in any way precluded the Murphy deal. But Rizzo lacks the nerve or the ingenuity or something to make a three-team deal like the White Sox made to get a player everybody and their brother said was far too good for the Reds to ever trade.

Division titles are nice. John Schuerholtz and Bobby Cox won 14 in a row using the same formula as Rizzo: great starting pitching and adequate hitting. You can win division titles with that. But when October rolls around (or when you're Max Scherzer facing Noah Syndergaard in May), you better have some guys with serious pop at the plate. Baseball is played on both sides of the diamond, and I'm afraid our lack of batting consistency and power will continue to make the division title our ceiling. Ask the folks in Georgia if they think one World Series championship in all those 14 division winning years is really all that.