Nationals Baseball: Uh oh

Friday, September 02, 2011

Uh oh

Anyone else out there worried about a total and complete collapse down the stretch? I mean, still go ahead and bring up those youngsters, and give them time (mainly because I don't think they are much worse, if at all, than who they'd be replacing), but doesn't it kind of feel like the Nats are reverting back to the "Nats Classic"?

I didn't have huge goals for the Nats this year. Despite my prediction of 79 wins, the 75 they are on pace for now would be fine. A six game improvement based on no luck? That's good. But a win total in the low 70s would feel kind of bad. Mainly because of the amount of improvement that would be needed to compete for real next year. From 75 wins you still need to get at least 10 wins better. That's a lot of wins. To ask for a 13 or 14 win improvement? Just to be on the outskirts of competition? I don't think anyone wants to wait one MORE year.

The good news it theyy won't be as bad as last year. The numbers just don't add up. A quick review. The Nats sit at 63-72. Last year they won 69 games. To finish 69-93 the Nats would need to go 6-21. It's not impossible, but that's about as bad a month as you can have. Of course the same logic makes having a strong enough finish to turn this into a "good" year hard to believe in as well. To finish 81-81 the Nats would need to go 18-9. Again not impossible, but it would be the best month the Nats have had since their 20-6 June in 2005.

The Nats are pretty much set at finishing with 7x wins, but will it be a disheartening 72 or so? or an affirming 78? A crushingly weak schedule and a lot of home games suggest the latter (a season long problem beating the teams they should beat and a lack of off-days would lean toward the former). Let's start it off right. 10 game homestand against the Mets (66-69), Dodgers(66-70) and Astros (47-90)? Gotta expect to win every series. That's a 7-3 at minimum. Hit that and then maybe we talk about something more.

At least the Marlins are doing their part keeping the Nats out of last.

In other news : Don't expect Archie Gilbert to get that call-up.


Dave Nichols said...

Harper, I appreciate the optimism, but what rationale do you have for expecting the Nats to take three straight series, even against bad clubs? they've lost 8 out of 9, three of which were home games. they look to be limping home just like the last several years.

i know they have a better home record this year than in years past, but looking for better than break-even on the homestand seems folly to me. that's better than their overall winning percentage for the season.

Harper said...

Nothing more than typical baseball expectation. Home vs mediocre team means series win. really though I'm saying "If they want to finish with a good record than they need to..." If you twisted my arm I'd bet on 6-4 or 5-5 before 7-3.

Lee said...

I realize I'm casting an excuse into the pot, but we were missing our best hitter for a good portion of the season. We also lost LaRoche. Granted that cleared the way for Morse, but many were basing the 75 (or ballpark) win estimate on the expectation of a good season from Morse (based on his finish last year and his spring). If we don't lose our corner infielders and Rigs doesn't give up on Morse in LF, then we might be talking about .500 baseball right now.

So 7x is still an improvement. I welcome it.

If (and it's a giant series of ifs) Morse continues to mash, Zim and LaRoche hit as expected (and stay healthy), Werth hits at least .260 (too optimistic?), none of our young guys regress, and Stras and ZNN pitch well (and stay healthy) we are a solid 8x win team next year. And that's without any offseason pick-ups or call ups from the minors.

Yeah, I know...tons of giant ifs. But at least the team has control of all the players involved. I'm re-upping my season tickets next week because I'm pretty excited about the future.

Bonsai said...

Diamondbacks did a pretty goob job of increasing their win total from last year, and they did it with young pitching, a couple of solid hitter and an...existant...bullpen.

Of course, they get to play in the NL west, but something interesting could still happen, even if they only end up with 70 wins this year.

Also, we have to consider that who cares whether they win 71 or 79. I only care to see if Milone, Lombo, etc. will be able to increase our win total for NEXT year. If they play well but Nats still lose the games, I'll remain optimistic.

Harper said...

Lee - still a month to go but I bet your right that at day's end the Nats will have had more gone wrong than right for them this year. Not saying anything either way till then.

As for your dream scenario - yes if everything goes pretty much perfectly the team could be over .500 next year but the same could have been said for this year right? If Zimm stays healthy, If Desmond build on his '10, if Gorzelanny is a solid #3 type starter...

Bonsai - I guess what I'm getting at is that there final record will be indicative of the talent level of the team. If they get to 70 wins it'll be because Morse slumps or the young guys don't look good, things that'll make us more wary about 2011. If they happen to win only 72 because Livan, Wang, Ankiel, and Bernaina are all dreadful than you're right it really doesn't matter between 71 and 79.

Wally said...

In some ways, a high win total may hurt them if it makes them mostly stand pat this offseason. I think that they need to add a quality starter like Buerhle, Danks, Billingsly ( just to give a sense of the level I mean) and an above average bat (not just above average for position, but truly above average) if they want to be mid 80s in wins next year.

Since I think Rizzo wants to be there next year, 72 wins may spur him into action.

It is kind of perverse logic, I know, and I am not rooting for it, just pointing out a possible silver lining.

JDBrew said...

I hate seeing this team fade down the stretch every year. It's hard to be too excited about a team that never seems to turn it on late. It's very frustrating to watch. It could be a simple matter of enthusiasm. It's hard to really get amped up to play when you know it's not going result in anything. The guys that I definitely need to see playing hard are the guys still in question for next year, and the late call-ups. Unfortunately there aren't very many of those. Espinosa has pretty much been been slated to be one of the starting MI next year. Maybe a little early to think so. At least i think it's a little early (I'm more of a proponent of batting average, and on-base percentage then most). But everyone (not just chicks) digs the longball. Morse is a lock, zimm is zimm, werth makes too much money and has too much past success to be in question, Bernadina is not going to be a starter next year (probably no matter what he does this month), Ankiel won't be back (thank you baseball gods), Cora is a coach at this point no matter what anyone says, Ramos looks like a lock (especially considering there's really no other options really at this point), Laynce Gomes or Jonny Nix ( I call them this because together they make one really awesome player) are free agents in waiting, management keeps saying Desmond is the future SS ( I can't entirely believe that), and I'd love to see Marrero play well ( but where's he gonna play if Laroche is healthy?), the pen is 75 percent set, and the rotation has a couple of spots ( but you'd want that in order to force competition and start who's playing best in the spring and all). So this leaves Lombardozzi, who if Espinosa is a lock, and Desmond is the future (debatable), where does he fit? Personally I'm big on letting Desi try the outfield, and see if Lombardozzi can hack it in the bigs. It's not you have to worry about giving Ankiel playing time, or winning games. I'm sure there's a reason for it, they know more about these guys then I do. But I'd love a good explanation as to why they won't try this. (because everyone know that management owes me an explanation, because what I think is definitely one of their major concerns)

As for the record this year, who cares? They played well in the portion on the season that really mattered. I'd like to see them win. Again, I hate watching them fade down the stretch, but I can understand why they would. And I recognize that September is like spring training here in DC.

By the way, trading Marquis now looks like genius, as he totally sucked in Arizona. Good deal Rizzo. Props.

JDBrew said...

Just to throw this in there, every year I buy EA's MLB2k. And every year when I've run through a simulation the Nats don't resign Ryan Zimmerman or John Lannan. And every year Zimmerman signs with the Phillies, and Lannan signs with the Yankees. If this actually happens, I might just boycott baseball.

Tombo said...

Folks as a N. Virginia transplant and a Phillies fan (non hating and respectful) I have seen about 15 Nats games this year and I have drawn a few conclusions. Its time to face the facts folks-there is no guarantee that baseball will survive down here. Each game, you see almost as many if not more fans from the opposing team than you do for the nats. Your ownership has resorted to giving away tickets for 1 dollar on select mondays and 2 dollars for select tuesdays. there is a deal in place that if you buy 2 sets of '12 season tix you get 2 free along with the rest of this years home games. 126 million dollar contracts, 10 million dollar signing bonuses, and all the money spent to lock up prospects don't pay for themselves or with dollar tickets. Two weeks ago, there were approximately 35,000+ phillies fans at the phils nats game. I have never seen a more pathetic showing for a home team in my entire life, and i have been to many many different sporting events in many different cities. I would say you could almost hear a pin drop in the stadium at over half of the home games. If Strasburg doesn't become the true Ace and return to his dominant form, if Harper can't become a star within the next 2 years (yes I said it-Nats flat out can't wait for him anymore they MUST bring him up by the all star break next season at the latest to draw interest) and if they can't get more bats to protect Jayson Werth (aka top 3 worst signings of all time thus far) the nats will be doomed. They cannot operate the way they have been operating for much longer without serious talk of relocation. Think im wrong? you can only hemorage money for so long before you go belly up. I would love to see the nats compete with the phils and I love going to nats games but somethings gotta give. If the nats cant become contenders within the next few seasons and successfully draw crowds, there will be serious questions about relocation in the near future.

Froggy said...

I sense the wheels are coming off.

My view of the second half of the season is there is no identity to the team, due to a lot of things but the ever changing lineup is a big one. I think even if we have Zimmerman all year we don't get to .500.

Bright spots so far: Zimmerman's solid bat and play (despite his truncated season). Everything about Morse. Espinosa period (remember he is a rookie). ZNN pitching and his QS. The Pen. And the solid play of Ramos. Let's see what else....Strasburg? Milone?

Not so bright spots just to name a few: Werth...I'm a fan, but hey he is making a buttload of money and not hitting (is there a stat for most-looking-at-first-pitch-strikes?) He should do the right thing and restructure his contract. I'm on the fence with Desmond, but it is time for a Lombo look. And that gaping hole in CF where a player sometimes 'shows up'.

And finally, at the risk of sounding treasonist, Davey Johnson might be a HoF'er but, I kind of miss what's his name...oh yeah, that last guy who had the team at .500

At this point I will be ecstatic if we get to 75 wins.

I hate when Harper is right...Dang!

Harper said...

JDBrew - Lannan on the Yankees? Is it wrong to buy the home, away, batting practice, and BP alternate versions of one players jersey?

Froggy - don't give up yet. 6-4 homestand (4-2 rest of the games) would be a great step to that.