Nationals Baseball: Charlie Amble

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Charlie Amble

Well that was an ugly loss and not just because Gio was recent Gio - not making it through the 6th and giving up 5 walks and 6 hits in that time frame. It might have actually still turned out acceptable because Gio is apparently magic, but neither Miller or Solis could hold down the fort.

It was ugly because Trea Turner didn't bother to run out a fair bunt. His explanation meshes with what I thought - he was thrown off-balance by the play and knew it was an easy out so he decided not to run. That's not great but Chacin picks up the ball fast and tags him or fires it to first and we probably barely notice. But Chacin was confused by Trea walking away and just stood there and so we were treated to 3 odd seconds of nobody doing anything. The end result was something that looked much worse than it should have.  Look - you always run. Maybe you don't go all out on an obvious out but you 90% it down the first base line in the hopes that they screw something up. Trea should have been running around when Chacin got to the ball, slim chance or not. But are we talking about it if Chacin just threw him out? Probably not, or at least not as much as we are.

It was ugly because Martinez brought in Sammy Solis (not getting lefties out this year) to face Christian Yelich (hitting lefties quite well this year) in a crucial spot and got burned for it. This isn't the worst move. Solis has had a little more success versus lefties. Yelich has had a little more trouble with them. But it's not the slam dunk - oh you gotta make this move these things normally are and given the stats this year, it's hard to see why you'd be compelled to make the change. Still I put this more on the team than on Martinez because every team needs a lefty killer. There are just certain big time lefty hitters that have real problems with leftys and a lefty adept at getting them out is an advantage. Matt Grace isn't that. Sammy Solis isn't that. Tim Collins was kind of that but they sent him down because... ummm... well he wasn't great overall and they wanted to see if they could find someone that was great amongst all these guys they looked at before and weren't great then? God, that's not a good reason.

The Nats can't afford to make mistakes. They can't afford to lose games they could win. At least this didn't appear to be one of those games as the Nats offense was thoroughly shut down*  And the Nats (at least in my book) are only looking to take 1 of these games, so a loss is expected. But all this doesn't bode well for what they have to do now - which is take 4 of the next 6.

*Want to really yell at Martinez for something? Batting Zimm clean-up first time back after injury?

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Harper, this post ignores the fact that Solis got Yelich to ground out but our 1B (who for some reason was starting against a righty despite the fact that there's a better 1B on the team to hit against rightys) misplayed the ball. That is a play a competent MLB first baseman should make. It's not an easy play, per se, but it's definitely not a hard one. It also had nothing to do with range - the ball was hit right at him and he didn't get a glove on it. Maybe the fact that Zim only played two rehab games had something to do with his inability to field a just-barely-harder-than-routine groundball, which cost the team three runs and any chance at a comeback.

Solis did his job. Zimmerman did not.

JE34 said...

No data, just a feeling... but it sure seems like the Nats are flailing and getting weak contact against more than a few of these 78mph finesse guys. I get it when you have a pitcher going 97-80-92-88-98... hitting against that is one of the most difficult things in all of sports. Jhoulys Chacin isn't a strikeout pitcher, but he sure was against the Nats. Those are the guys that hitters have to wear out, fight stuff off, put it in play. That requires shortening up, adjusting to the situation, putting a premium on getting on base before you have two outs in the inning... being a pain in the ass to the pitcher, forcing the pitcher to throw a pitch that gets more plate than he wants.

Friggin Erik Kratz, from nearby Eastern Mennonite U, a Mendoza-line man if ever there was one, managed to do this against Gio, twice. Yelich worked the count in a big spot, forced Solis to throw strikes, and put it in play.

In short, putting bat on ball is highly recommended.

JE34 said...

@Anon - exactly right. Solis located that pitch well, in a very difficult situation.

PotomacFan said...

@Harper: WTF, with Zimmerman starting instead of Adams, and then batting clean-up? Seriously? And sure, Gio was bad Gio, with 4 walks, but come on, the Nats only scored one run.

Harper said...

Anon @ 7:10 - You could argue though that Solis should have worked Yelich into hitting it to the opposite field knowing the right side is a topiary with Zimm and Murphy there. But I get your point. I didn't think it was a terrible move - but an unecessary one, reaching for what should have been an obvious choice (get the LOOGY) that he doesn't have.

JE34 - a quick check of splits doesn't back that up - Ks and OPS versus finesse pitchers (guys with low Ks, low BBs) are middle of the road. Probably worse though in comparison with recent years.

Harper said...

PF - gotta start zimm sometime - but clean-up no.

DezoPenguin said...

FWIW, Martinez has said that he's going to platoon Adams and Zim going forward. Too bad he didn't feel like that yesterday. And even against a lefty, Zim has no place batting cleanup. Some combination of Eaton, Soto, Rendon, Harper, and Turner should have the first four slots (though against RHP I wouldn't mind seeing Eaton-Soto-Rendon-Harper-Adams-Turner 1-6).

Ole PBN said...

One random thought I had last night as I watched Justin Miller take the hill: this guys seems to pitch every night. I ran the numbers and taking the top three relievers of every team (excluding closers, LOOGYs, and longmen) and listing what percentage of their appearances come with zero days rest (i.e. pitching on back-to-back days). The league average for these guys is 19-20%. The high is Joe Kelly (30%) and the low has several guys around 13-14%. For the Nats? Miller, Madson, and Kintzler average 27%. These guys are burned out.

Some of this has contributing factors of course. Our SP's not going deep into games means more appearances for everyone, is one factor. However I see this pretty commonly across the league: a team gets a journeyman reliever, most likely signed to a minor league contract or claimed off waivers, and he does well enough to get a shot at the MLB level. The manager rides that arm for all he's worth and then tosses him aside after his numbers fall off a cliff. The rationale behind it? It's a low risk-high reward player; costs nothing; and is basically a luxury without any consequences tied to failure: We weren't expecting him to even play. Problem is, that logic is like finding a $100 bill on sidewalk and spending it on two $50 lotto tickets rather than putting that $100 to better use. Most likely, none of the tickets were winners and you tell yourself "well I wasn't supposed to/expecting to have that money in the first place, so it's not necessarily a waste." But no, you still were $100 richer and you did just throw it away.

Justin Miller was doing great for us. He was that winning lottery ticket, but Davey spent him for all he was worth instead of trying to lengthen that unlikely success. I could be entirely wrong about Miller's situation. He could just be a mediocre pitcher who had a hot streak and now has returned to expected form. But I feel like we had something there and unnecessarily threw it away because it wasn't expected to begin with. There was no investment in him, so what is the loss?

In other news, the Nats are running out of time.

Jay said...

I think Martinez is rather awful at handling the pitching staff and bullpen in particular. He leaves the middling starters in too long when they are awful and then keeps using the same people over and over. Shawn Kelley hardly ever pitches. If you can't trust except for once a week, then why is he in the bullpen? I blame Rizzo for part of this. They really miss a long man - Craig Stammen or Yesmiro Petit. Having all guys who can only go one inning can be problematic. An example is Sunday night. Martinez used 5 guys for 3 innings. Plus the closer got 5 outs.

Of course, I don't think Martinez does very well with the batting order either. Why did Zim play last night? Is it in his contract that he must bat 3,4 or 5? He is just so awful now. Awful in the field and awful at the plate. He is Ryan Howard now.

G Cracka X said...

Interesting Bryce article at Fangraphs:

https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-thoroughly-average-exploits-of-bryce-harper/

Looks like his ZiPS projected contract is now about 8 years, $230 million. I wonder if his value stays around that range, do the Nats try to bring him back? I'm all for prioritizing Rendon, and I think the team should too, but maybe there's a way to do both

Harper said...

GCX - I think he'll either 1) get more - anything that surpasses Stanton at this point would be acceptable to Boras I imagine. The AAV won't matter as much as the total ($325) 2) Or he'll sign somewhere cheaper, short, and favorable for like a year (opt out) and try to hammer out a great year.

Anonymous said...

Jay - Zim IS Ryan Howard, except Ryan Howard could still hit righties. I think another good comparison is that Zim is basically 2017 Jayson Werth, but maybe even worse.

Ole PBN said...

Zimm really shouldn't be playing, period. But I'd settle for a bench role/pinch hitter, though its hilarious that we're carrying three 1Bs. If there was a color that best describes our version of Ryan Howard, it's beige. The fact that 1) its him who gets the platoon with Adams and not Reynolds, and 2) hits cleanup, pretty much means that this team isn't serious about contending.

This is how its going to be for 2018. Fine. But give this guy an Edible Arrangements bouquet with a signed card from the team, and tell him he'll have all the time in the world to heal his sore back, plantar fasciitis, oblique, or whatever at HOME.

Anonymous said...

Soooo, when do we start talking Hot Stove and off-season acquisitions??

Gabe Roark said...

Zimm batting cleanup again...

sirc said...

Zim sitting out spring training was a harbinger.

Sammy Kent said...

Somebody tell us again how everything is going to be fine now that Ryan Buckner is back.

And why did it take a stinking umpire to do what should have been done months ago: throw Kevin Long out of the dugout??? Dave Martinez and his one-trick pony need to be sent packing today. Apparently the Mark Lerner and Mike Rizzo Lerned nothing from the Matt Williams fiasco. More than ever I have come to believe that rookie managers should start with young, non-contending or average teams. Let them learn the craft as a young team grows and develops together.

Veteran-laden perennial contenders need the experience, savvy, discipline, and authority of a tough old bird that's been around the block a few times. Dusty wasn't the first Nationals manager to fail in the post-season. But he WAS the first and only to have the Nationals playing smart, aggressive, intelligent baseball from opening day to October; the only one to be both a players' manager and a no-nonsense disciplinarian that didn't tolerate prima donnas and wasn't cowed by the star status of his best players.

This team is NOT fun to watch. Not because they're losing a couple of games more than they are winning, but because injuries or no injuries, stars or no stars, bullpen or no bullpen, planets mis-aligned or black cats crossing the road or whatever---THEY ARE PLAYING BAD BASEBALL, and bad baseball is not fun. They are doing stupid stuff on the bases and on defense, and failing miserably to have anything remotely resembling a situational approach to their ABs. That is a direct reflection on the manager. Except for moving Bryce to the leadoff spot earlier in the year, the zenith of his ingenuity has been batting the pitcher in the eight hole a la his old boss, Joe Maddon. Some magnificent creativity on display, I tell ya.

In 2015 Rendon, Werth, and Zimmerman were out for months, Denard Span for weeks, Stras had his usual two weeks on the DL, Doug Fister went in the tank, and Daniel Murphy was still playing for the Mets. Y'all remember? After 100 games the dang second string had that team eight games above .500 and three games in front of the division--- because they went out there every night and busted their asses playing fundamental basic baseball the way it's meant to be played. This team has piddled and loafed and played like this season was a coronation and a mere formality to be endured. Well, we the fans are the ones enduring it. It's not going to matter what happens before the trade deadline. They way they are playing they could sign Babe Ruth and Cy Young and Willie Mays and it wouldn't make a dime's worth of difference.

BxJaycobb said...

Sammy Kent: I really don’t see the evidence that this is Davey Martinez’s doing. If teams don’t play well or injuries decimate a team (you’re wrong by the way—the injuries this year have been far worse than 2015. In 2015 we weren’t easily first in Major League Baseball in DL Days....actually we had 1/3 of baseball ahead of us it looks like) then everybody assumes it’s due to the manager. Does anybody have any doubt that if either the Red Sox or the Yankees had gotten super banged up and out of the AL East race a month ago that we would hear about how Alex Cora and/or Bret Boone wasn’t prepared? Of course we would. But the teams have performed well and been healthy. So we hear they’re geniuses. That’s how it works. There is so much misinformation out there about the influence of managers on outcomes it’s crazy. For example, most fans (and it’s perpetuated by people like Boz) believe that record in 1 run games is a reflection on the manager. Know what it’s a reflection on? Luck. Pure luck. There is no empirical evidence that there are “good 1 run game record managers” and “bad ones” due to managing skill. It’s all nonsense. Same with sequencing luck (the sequencing of hits that produce runs based on how they’re grouped). To me, it is far, FAR easier to attribute this year’s disappointment to Rizzo than Martinez. With Martinez it’s all ineffable vague allusions to “they’re not playing hard they’re not busting it down the line they’re not playing good baseball” (have you ever heard a fan for a team that’s been a W-L disappointment say ‘well at least they’re playing good baseball!’ of course not. Winning makes good baseball)......now. With Rizzo it’s easy. He looked a GLARING GLARING hole at Catcher in the face and said “were good with it!” So we have the worst production from the C spot in baseball FOR ANY TEAM SINCE 2015 BY OPS. And he looked at glaring rotation lack of depth and said “good with it!” So we probably lost 5-6 games in the standings SOLELY due to people like Fedde Cole and Jefry Rodriguez starting games they had no business starting. He gave Davey no quality lefty in the pen to use situationally. That’s all Rizzo’s fault, not Davey’s. And the injuries? Well the injuries have been brutal. Worst in baseball as I said. And there’s been some underperformance. More than usual? I don’t think so. Bryce and Roark are the only obvious ones for me. And you have overperformers (according to expectations) in Soto, Adams, Reynolds. But otherwise it’s a combo of (a) guys producing exactly as u would expect when healthy and (b) guys being out with injuries or obviously ineffective from injuries. It happens. It doesn’t make it Davey Martinez’s doing. Honestly every “it’s Davey’s fault” comment boils down to speculation about cause and effect because you want to label *something* as the cause of our ills. It’s a combination of things. In my view, the two most obvious being injuries and poor planning by Rizzo that has killed the team at C and starting pitching depth. You can’t win that many games with 7 legitimate hitters (at full health) and 4 starting pitchers on the entire roster.

BxJaycobb said...

Those are all measurable disasters. There is no measurable negative effect from Davey and Kevin Long besides throwing up your hands and saying “I don’t like that they’re not winning more!” To be clear, maybe Davey isn’t a great manager. Maybe Kevin Long isn’t a good hitting coach. But I mean. We can’t know that. We’re just guessing because we want to kill somebody. What we CAN know is that we all first guessed Rizzo’s roster construction over the offseason, and we can also know that the WAR/value of produciton from the positions he neglected have KILLED the team this year. And he should be blamed for it WELL ahead of Davey.

Anonymous said...

That’s it; it’s over. They’re more done than a five dollar steak at the Golden Corral.

Jay said...

I don't disagree with the statement that we can't know for sure if Martinez and possibly Long are part of the problem. However, I don't know that it translates to none of it is their fault. Otherwise, we would still have Matt Williams as manager. I agree catcher has been awful. I agree starting pitching depth has been bad. I think their DL numbers are skewed by Murphy and Zim spending an eternity on the DL this year. However, I agree they have had a ton of injuries. Things that worry me about Martinez - articles about how he doesn't handle the pitching staff well. I would agree that he uses the same 4-5 guys over and over. When is the last time Shawn Kelley pitched? I think Rizzo is partly to be blamed here bc they have no true long man. When I hear the players have called a players only meeting and they are "going to win for each other" that usually translates to me that some players feel like they are not getting any help from management GM and/or manager and/or coaches. Finally, the saying goes you can't fire all of the players and someone has to go. Personally, I don't think it matters. I don't think there is any way Martinez is going any where. I guess there is one thing you can use to tell how well the manager is doing - past performance. It is why teams hoping to win usually go with a manager with experience. I agree that NY, BOS, and PHI all look fine with their rookie manager. However, everyone agrees that Terry Francona and Bruce Bochy do more with less than other managers.

The truly bothersome thing is that the entire Nats organization seems to have no idea why they keep losing. The interviews from last night were all pretty much - Oh well that's baseball. There is no plan of attack to turn things around.

JE34 said...

Turning things around requires significant pitching upgrades, and jettisoning underperforming/aging veterans... neither of which can be done now. And telling Trea Turner that the go-ahead run simply cannot get picked off in the 10th inning.

I hope we get a glimpse of Joe Ross and Koda Glover in September, to see what we might expect from them in 2019.

Sammy Kent said...

BX, I would agree that no team that loses plays good baseball. My frustration is that this team is capable of playing good baseball--REALLY good baseball, in fact; but they certainly don't seem to be playing hard baseball, and in no way are they playing smart baseball. I will forever be of the opinion that most of that is on the manager and staff. Martinez is managing like Earl Weaver: doing virtually nothing but waiting for the three-run homer. Well, he lucked into one last night, and unfortunately even that wasn't enough. The line never moved. The line doesn't move.

When your players aren't batting their weight, you have to manufacture runs. That means using the bunt, the sacrifice, the hit and run, the steal, hitting behind the runners ON THE GROUND, small ball to get guys on, over, and in. Those words are like an unknown tongue to Dave Martinez and Kevin Long. Pity for the Nationals and their fans. The saying "Luck is the residue of design" was coined by a baseball manager, Branch Rickey. I hate to lose more than most, but I could stand it a lot easier if the effort and spirit were there. The one pet phrase people always pulled out when discussing past Nationals teams was "These guys have heart." You haven't heard it this season, and for good reason.

Ole PBN said...

Jay, what should the plan of attack be? I'm sure we can all list some. And with every one of these, there is a counter explanation that Davey/Rizzo would give if we had their ear:

1) "We need more small-ball, less individualistic approach at the plate."
DM/MR: our guys are trying. Each situation asks for a different approach. Plus our hitters are most comfortable hitting a certain way. Certain guys adjust better than others. That's just baseball.

2) "Ryan Zimmerman shouldn't be hitting cleanup."
DM/MR: Ryan is the anchor of our clubhouse. He has a rich history here as recent as last season. He'll turn it around. It's just baseball.

3) "Our hitters need to beat the shift by hitting it to the opposite field."
DM/MR: stats show that its easier for those premium hitters (Bryce, Murphy) to go for solid contact to the gaps than to ask lesser hitters behind them to rally off three consecutive singles. Trust me, it’s harder that it looks. That's just baseball.

4) "We need to rotate our use of relievers better. When was the last time Kelley pitched?"
DM/MR: we approach every game the same way: to win at all costs. In a tight spot, we want our best guys on the hill. They've battled for us. You can't win them all. Kelley has been sore the past few days, so we're looking to work him in slowly. That's just baseball.

5) "Our base running is atrocious."
DM/MR: the great thing about our clubhouse is the freedom for players to do what they do best. If they want to steal, I trust them to make that call. But we also hold each other accountable. It's a solid group of guys that know when they made a mistake. That's just baseball.

(continued below)

Ole PBN said...

6) "Our rotation has to go deeper into games. I'm tired of seeing Gio/Roark fail repeatedly."
DM/MR: Gio and Tanner has battled for us all year, and had great starts to the season. They'll get it going. Plus we tried our minor league depth and they didn't pan out as we had hoped. Gotta work with what we have. That's just baseball.

7) "Bryce is in a terrible slump. What's the deal?"
DM/MR: He puts a lot of pressure on himself to be the best player he can be. We have a lot of confidence in him to turn it around. Trust me, no one wants this more than him. Just have to keep his head up and keep fighting. That's just baseball.

8) "Why did we go into this season with the worst situation at C in the MLB?"
DM/MR: we have a lot of faith in Wieters, Sevvy, and Kieboom. Those guys have battled for us all year and Wieters last year. People forget, Wieters was a first round pick and a former All-Star, so we like our chances with the guys we have. That hasn't changed. They'll turn it around. That's just baseball.

9) "I think our rookie manager is in over his head."
MR: Matt Williams wasn't until he was 'over his head' in his second season. We have different personalities in the clubhouse now, and DM has done an excellent job with the cards he's been dealt. Injuries, slumps, it’s just baseball.

10) "I think you, Mike, are to blame for the 'cards DM has been dealt.'"
MR: We like the guys that have been part of this nucleus since the beginning. We have great leadership from the front office, to the clubhouse, all the way to the minor leagues. We've been able to build a world class organization here in DC that the fans have really come to enjoy. Hearing complaints about how the team is assembled makes me happy to see, because there was a time when losing was acceptable. Now it isn't and I take great pride in being a part of that process to bring a winning standard to this city. It's on all of us to uphold that standard that the fans deserve. Unfortunately, we've had a rough run of injuries to a lot of our key players. When you're trying to win now and prepare for the future, it’s a delicate balance. We like the guys we had going in and I still feel that way. With regards to the injuries, and I told DM this, you know, 'next man up.' And he knows that. And our players know that. I have full confidence in our group here that we're going to do special things. The ball just has to bounce our way, which it will. Just have to keep the faith and battle trough. That's just baseball.

Am I wrong on any of this? I mean these managers and GMs are politicians. They give you these bogus lines that mean nothing, because what, you expect them to give you raw feelings and emotion, and throw people under the bus? They have a job they're trying to preserve. You know, we once had a football coach in DC who once said after a loss "I feel like I'm the worst football coach in America." He got canned a couple weeks later. The players play the game. I have seen no evidence of bad blood in the clubhouse, which is DM's sole responsibility. We lost Kendrick, our stellar utility man for the season months ago. How are we supposed to be 'prepared' for that? And should we have had a contingency plan for when our MVP-level best player plays like crap for 80% of the season? Please. Injuries are the reason why we are here, but I put the burden squarely on the shoulder of the players on the field to find a way out, regardless of who they are. All the injuries have subsided for the most part anyway. Murphy, Stras, Eaton, Wieters, Zim are all back now and need to do this themselves. Dusty, Bochy, Aaron Boone, or the (all-of-the-sudden) great Gabe Kapler (lol) won't save us. Message to the guys in spikes: GET THE JOB DONE.