Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Matt-Tinez?

Monday, April 23, 2018

Monday Quickie - Matt-Tinez?

Look - it's going to plan. They beat the Mets. They took a game against a good team on the road. Going into the road trip I only asked for 3-6 and they could get swept by the Giants and still hit that. That might have been a low bar, so let's assume they win one against SF.  A 4-5 road trip in a stretch that featured the Mets, Dodgers, and Giants and a mid-trip swing to the West Coast? You can't be unhappy with that. Road trips like that aren't the problem. The problem is the 3-7 homestand that preceded that. That should never happen for a playoff team, not even against good teams.*

The Nats don't really have a break soon - in part because there are really only three BAD teams in the NL and in part because they don't start playing Miami until relatively late in the season. Right now it looks like the next nice Nats stretch is heading into Memorial day when they close out a homestand with the Padres, then go on the road to take on Miami, Baltimore and Atlanta, then back home for Tampa Bay and San Fran. This is what looks like their easiest stretch of the season. It's that 18 game stretch where you'd want the team to go like 12-6, 13-5 and make up some serious ground. Until then it's about surviving the road trips and gaining a little ground at home. A step at a time. Anything more is appreciated but extra.


Rendon went to the DL! FINALLY! It was a big swing and miss by the Nats medical staff. If Rendon went on the DL any time in the first couple days he could have been back today and the Nats could have had a full compliment of players to work with for most of the road trip. No, they aren't good players but they are better than no players. Now Rendon has to wait until the 29th (I think - maybe 28th, maybe 30th) to come back. I think Rendon has shown he's not a quick healer (remember the 50+ "day-to-day" diagnosis in Spring 2015?) so DL is probably a safe bet for the future ok?

Zimm looks right which is great. Can't be happier to be wrong about his health status assuming he isn't shot up with horse steroids or whatever. It also shows that skipping ST didn't do a damned thing to make him start out better. The proof that it was worth it now shifts to "July and August". Given he had a great September last year, basically he's gotta come through the entire 2nd half or big in the playoffs to sell this. Good luck to you sir.

MAT's hitting now too. Great!

Who isn't hitting? Most everyone else. Like really. There is not enough talent here to survive guys going cold at the normal rate. Nats need everyone back healthy soon.

Among the not hitting. Hey! Pedro Severino! Huh, Who would have thunk it?

Nats pen is spent with only the back end (Doolittle and Kintzler) working right now. That's the point of depth. The Nats aren't crashing in the pen like last year because they bothered to get 3+ reliable arms in there. But they need more.  Will it be the renewed Gott? Will Solis bounce back? Will Madson be fine after rest? Is Austin Adams ready to give something? Hey, didn't the Nats have a guy named Shawn Kelley? Let's see how it shakes out/resets in the next week and then we'll talk about "needs".

One this else to sit and think about. In the last 20 games, the Nats have gone 8-12. The Nats never went 8-12 in any 20 game stretch in 2017 or 2016.  Dusty > Martinez? Well, obviously. Should go without saying. Dusty is borderline HoF. But that doesn't mean Martinez is bad. Jury's out all year probably but the very first notes back from the foreman are not as positive as you'd hope.

*Oh it will happen, but it'll happen like once. Having it happen this early is not a good sign.


Huzzah! said...

It is as we all feared!!! Harper, do you have any theories on why Kelley hasn’t been used? And does the bullpen issues over the past couple seasons reflect on Rizzo, or is it ownerships unwillingness to spend?

a.d. samuelson said...

I have been unimpressed by Martinez so far--can anyone explain to me why he didn't put in a pinch-runner for Adams last night immediately after he singled? Adams has to be one of the slowest runners in MLB, and when Difo hit a single to right, instead of having a pinch-runner on third--with no outs!--we have a runner on second, a big difference. Martinez comes to his senses and replaces Adams with a pinch-runner when he's at second, but it was a missed opportunity, and not the mark of a manager on top of his game.

PotomacFan said...

@Harper: why are you convinced that Dusty is better than Martinez, simply because Dusty never went 8 - 12 during any 20 game stretch in 2016 and 2017? Did the Nationals ever play a 20 game stretch under Dusty where they were missing 3 of their 4 best hitters? Any one of Murphy, Rendon or Eaton could have turned that record to 10 - 10, although I readily concede that Eaton played only a handful of games last year so maybe he shouldn't be part of the discussion. And I'm not sure that Martinez has messed up the bullpen. I don't think he's done a good job, but I don't think he's done an awful job either. There's not a lot to work with. Madson said he could go, and Madson was wrong, and now he's still not pitching. And it's tough when you don't have a single arm that can go two innings. Dusty is the one (or was it Rizzo) who tried to make Treinen a closer, and may have ruined his career.

Ole PBN said...

Not sure if it's ownership's fault we don't many reliable arms in the pen. It's true they won't spend, but at some point your farm has to produce something in-house, and maybe some of that blame can go on Rizzo? I don't know. Fact is, the farms system from 2011-present has given us:

Ryan Mattheus (2011-2014): 145 G / 142.1 IP / 3.60 ERA / 1.370 WHIP
Drew Storen (2010-2015): 355 G / 334 IP / 95 SV (81% success rate) / 3.02 ERA / 1.129 WHIP
Craig Stammen (2009-2015): 229 G / 490.2 IP / 3.91 ERA / 1.310 WHIP
Blake Treinen (2014-2017): 185 G / 223 IP / 3.39 ERA / 1.377 WHIP
Felipe Vazquez (2015-2016): 96 G / 98 IP / 3.67 ERA / 1.061 WHIP
Sammy Solis (2015-present): 97 G / 96.1 IP / 3.83 ERA / 1.349 WHIP

I think in 7 seasons, you need to hit more often than this. Unless you want ownership shelling out enormous amounts of cash for commodity relievers with a short shelf-life, you have to be able to do it yourself. Of course I think the Lerners should be open to spending a little more on the bullpen, but IMO an approach like the Rockies are taking to fixing the bullpen is ill-advised if you want to consistently produce an across-the-board competitive roster.

BxJaycobb said...

Saying Martinez is worse than Dusty this early is...sorry, nuts. Managers win-loss record certainly means something, but it definitely doesn't mean everything. It means even less over course of a single year. And it means roughly zero after 1/9 of a year. Dusty Baker's teams in 2016 and 2017 had phenomenal health in terms of rotation and starting lineup, with exception of Eaton. All told, excellent health. You had Zim, Murphy, Rendon, and Harper all raking at like a 1.000 OPS clip for first few months. Dave Martinez is managing a team right now that is starting--no, seriously-- 5 AAA level players a game. You really have to be kidding putting a sluggish start on him. I think it's frankly an achievement to play .500 baseball with the players currently taking the field. Tactically Martinez has been fine. Clubhouse-wise, I have no idea. But give the guy a chance with something vaguely resembling a full team. Good heavens. It's just as silly to say Aaron Boone is clearly a worse manager than Joe Girardi because the Yankees aren't killing it yet or that Alex Cora and Mickey Callaway are voodoo geniuses because the Red Sox and Mets are hot. Good thing we're not judging Dave Roberts or Joe Maddon's managing ability based on Cubs and Dodgers 20 game starts.

JE34 said...

@PBN - I think you mean Romero.

I miss Craig Stammen.

@saumelson - putting Rendon on the DL sooner could have given Martinez more to work with in the situation. Also, Matt Reynolds 1st to 3rd on a single to Yasiel Puig isn't exactly a gimme. But yeah - if you're going to pinch run, might as well do it. He was hedging his bets, in the event the bottom of the order stranded Adams at first.

JE34 said...

Hey! When did Romero change his name, and why didn't he tell me first? Mah bad!

JE34 said...

I'm a mess today. I forgot they called up a pitcher to fill Rendon's spot. Nothing to see here.

Harper said...

Huzzah - no good theories. I imagine maybe a tweak he could pitch with if needed but otherwise would rather rest? Can't imagine something big.

a.d. - I think because Reynolds was the last man on the bench. I think. If he was I think he wanted to keep the option open for a PH down the road since the game was so close. So he only PH when a single could score a run, rather than needing an XBH or multiple hits. I'm more on your side (worry about later problems later) but I don't condemn him for it. I actually might have PR a pitcher if I thought that would have worked

PF - well look, I'm convinced Dusty is better than Martinez because Dusty is probably in the Top 30 or so managers of all time. I'll go out on a limb and say Martinez as a rookie manager isn't that good.

Did the Nats ever play a stretch with 3 of their 4 best hitters out? Not specifically, but they played a stretches with Bryce and Eaton both out last year, and 2016 basically played most of the season where Daniel Murphy was the only one healthy. Plus the played 2/3rd of 2017 with no pen. Almost all years have something wrong.

I'm not sure Martinez messed up the pen either. I mean I think he did a little mismanaging recently but if the pen is broken it's not because of that. It's because it wasn't built right. It should be able to absorb the slight overuse of a single arm.

This is a tough situation for Martinez, but not an unwinnable one. Good start, bad homestand, so far acceptable road trip. He's only a couple games off what I think he should be based on everything. Now, what he REALLY has that Dusty didn't, is a set of teams that could challenge. That's Martinez' big problem. ATL, PHI, NYM were like they were in 2016-2017 Nats are probably 12-10 and a couple games up and were just waiting to kick it into overdrive.

Ole PBN - it does seem light especially on the back end but I'm not sure what the usual numbers look like. So I'll hold off on commenting on development for now. Maybe I'll look into it

Harper said...

Guys - stop. You want to say "Maybe this new manager is better" fine. Sure. It's possible. But my take is that a long term successful manager is not something that falls from the trees. It's far more likely that Martinez is worse than Dusty (and Boone is worse than Girardi) then the other way around.

I am not saying Martinez is bad. He might be good. He could be very good. But Dusty proved over 20+ years that he was very good and proved he was very good with this specific team over the past 2. To say Martinez might be better is to say "Oh yeah, there's a decent chance this guy is a multiple world series winner type"

Anonymous said...

I see what you're saying Harper. Hard for anyone to defend or criticize a manager after such a small sample size. Joe Torre had a .470 win percentage across three teams and zero playoff series wins before getting the Yankees job... and then, well, you know. Time will tell after this season, but I'm alright with Martinez so far.

Harper said...

I think there's a lot of people that don't understand how good Dusty was/is. I'm not Dusty's biggest fan. I hate all his cooler than you - name dropping shtick that the media eats up. But results are results and he put up results everywhere. Could technically I be wrong. Sure! Dave Martinez could be one of the 10 greatest managers of all time! But I don't think I'm going out on much of a limb here.

Harper said...

All that really matters is - is Martinez good enough to get the Nats into the playoffs. And hell, Matt Williams was good enough so I think Martinez will be fine with the wins. It's just whether the rest of the NL East will cooperate

Huzzah! said...

I can’t remember if Harper said it or another commenter, but it was once said on here that Dusty was an incredible manager for the regular season and his only shortcoming was that he didn’t alter his approach enough in the “win now” decisions necessary to win a playoff series. Not crazy at all to say that Dusty is better than Davey! Daveys had 20 games! Also- I’m very happy that the Nats continue to employ people named Davey in prominent positions.

Combee said...

Last night Bryce Harper appeared to be loafing on a ground ball that he could have beaten out because of a bad throw. Any consequences? What would Dusty do?

Harper said...

Combee - he fouled the ball off his leg/foot earlier in the AB so I don't forsee any punishment now or in the past

JE34 said...

Matt Adams is to the changeup what Pedro Cerrano is to the curve, I think.

Mark said...

Last August when Bryce over extended himself running to first he ended up on the DL and it possibly affected the division series outcome. At the same time, it appeared on Sunday night he could have run faster than he was without risking injury. I'm going to trust he knows what he needs to do to keep himself healthy, which is job one, but persistent lack of effort in the regular season may keep this team out of the playoffs. We need Eaton back.