Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie

Monday, April 09, 2012

Monday Quickie

The Nats were getting dangerously close to being a "story" early in the year (I think 4-0 is when the National media starts to weigh in if there is nothing else interesting going on) even though without Kerry Wood the Nats may be staring at 0-3 right now. That's the fun of early season baseball.  Every streak seems bigger than it really is because that's all we have to go on. Teams like the Orioles and the Mets can have hope that they may be the surprise team this season. Teams like the Red Sox and the Braves can act like it's the end of the world.  And the best part is that everything will change by this time next week.

If it's all fun nonsense so far, what can a Nats fan take from this opening series?  I would say this : The Nats are going to be much better than the Cubs. When you play a team you are much better on the road, you should take at least 2 games in the series. The Nats did that. Good teams win the games you think they will and they do it over and over again. Mets in NY?  The Nats should take 2 out of 3.  Reds at home?  At least a split, hopefully 3 out of 4.  Astros at home?  You want to sweep.  Let's see what they do.

Other things to keep an eye on :
  • Jayson Werth continues to have flatulence problems.  It's not the 0 for 10 that bothers me, it's the 5 Ks.
  • Gio will have a lot of eyes on him next start being that it's the Nationals home opener and given his poor first outing, and that may not be a good thing. He'll be up against a Reds righty heavy lineup that was by far the best hitting team versus lefties in the NL last year. 
  • Bullpen looks as strong as last year. If Jackson and Detwiler/Wang/Lannan can hold up their end of the bargain it should be fresher, too.
  • 6 XBH in 3 games is pretty sad, but it's what the Cubs put up too.  Let's see if the Nats can put up some more power at home. 
  • No one has distinguished themselves in the OF yet and honestly I don't expect anyone to. Almost made it through Spring without the annual "This is the year Bernadina lives up to his potential" story. Given how he looks so far I'm going out on a limb the say next year is when we'll finally not see that story.
  • Notice Steve Lombardozzi hasn't gotten as much play as you might have thought he would?  It's not because Desmond has been so hot, it's because he's got an option left and he'll be gone once Morse and Ankiel are ready. There's no reason to work him in now.  Again - most of us would agree he's a better option for the team to have on the bench than say Xavier Nady or Brett Carroll but this isn't about what's best for the 2012 Nats. The sooner you understand Rizzo still has his eyes on 2013, the better


Anonymous said...

This is Desmond's year, Lombardozzi is done. Get over it, he sucks.

Anonymous said...

Werth's swing Hitting includes a certain amount of guess-work, and it looks like Werth is constantly guessing wrong.

Donald said...

"When you play a team you are much better on the road, you should take at least 2 games in the series." What does this say about the Phillies and Braves?

Harper said...

Anon #1 - sucks? That's a little strong but there's certainly no guarantee he can hang in the majors. As for this being Desmond's year, we've heard it before. Let's see where he stands at the end of May.

Anon #2 - Maybe Morse coming back will help?

Donald - They both are behind where they should be which is great for the Nats. Those are 1 (PHI) and 2 (ATL) games that these teams won't have come September.

Marc said...

I'm not so worrid about Gio - he was getting consistently squeezed by the ump in that game. He lives and dies with that low strike call. The ump had a smallish zone for both sides and that hurt Gio. If he gets about three-four of those calls over the course of the game, it's a completely different outing.

That said, I'll get worried if the Reds hang another 5-6 ER on him in 3+ innings.

Anonymous said...


Walk me through Rizzo's thinking on Lombardozzi: Nats in 2013 are better off if in 2012 he gets 500+ ABs at AAA, rather than 300+ ABs at the majors?

blovy8 said...

You really see DeRosa as the only middle infield backup? I'd dump Carroll first. Werth can play right handed center field. Carroll has no real value beyond defense and pinch running. Lombo may be up and down, but is a lot more valuable except in majors experience - which he actually needs. If you are sticking with talent, he stays, and he's not prospecty enough to worry about development.

Werth looks unbalanced in every way, sadly, except for in interviews.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the Reds deal with Gio's curve if he's got it Thursday. Votto and Bruce are lefties, after all.

Matt said...

I agree with blovy8 -- Carroll goes down before Lombardozzi. I'd also bet on Nady as the 2nd cut. As I see, it you have Ankiel>Bernadina>Carroll, where all 3 players have more or less the same skill set (I guess Bernadina and Carroll have more speed and Bernadina will probably still be around after the other 2 are gone, but still they're all out of the same general mold). The team doesn't need 3 all-glove OFs, and I'd bet Carroll would accept a demotion. Similarly, Morse is probably a strict improvement on Tracy and Nady. While there's good reason to think Nady is a better ballplayer, I try not to underestimate Rizzo's AZ love, and it seems like Johnson loves Tracy, so there's my rationale there.

But, I guess, if I'm making a mistake it's undervaluing how much Rizzo likes maintaining team control over players, which sending Lombardozzi down would do.

Lee said...

Mark Zuckerman had a good point about LaRoche over on his blog - his power is back. Assuming this is true, and I believe it to be, that is at least a step in the right direction for this team. Other than that, I agree that it is still too early to make predictions. Hopefully Werth won't also go 0 for Flushing.

On personnel changes, I bring more agreement. I see no way Carroll sticks around if we're going with Ankiel and Bernie despite them being essentially the same player. Nothing about his past or present indicates he'll contribute much to this team.

I would have thought Tracy to be the first to go, but not now after this past weekend. I actually bet Nady is the next to go since he showed a willingness to play in Syracuse (I think I remember this). If this is still the case, Nady may prove useful later in the season as the bumps and bruises add up. Too, as Tracy's pinch hitting sample becomes large enough for analyis, we may be in search of another answer.

DJ seemingly likes Lombo too much to send him down. I should also add that it would leave the Nats with a 37 year old as the only real backup in at MI. Perhaps the reason we haven't seen Lombo yet is that the Nats know what they are going to do with him. It's the others they may be trying to figure out. But sending him down now might make sense in a Rizzo-options-minded clubhouse. It's a just a bad idea.

Barney said...

My quick take-aways from the first 3 games:
1) The team is about what we thought it would be in terms of pitching and hitting. My prediction (to friends) of 85 wins still looks good and would make them the best Washington team since the 1969 expansion Senators.
2) Werth won't be as bad as he was last year, I think, but he is working hard to prove me wrong.
3) The offense, I predict, will not be improved by Morse and the bullpen not by Storen. Why? Because, year after year I hear that certain players have "minor" injuries and then, after a down year, they admit that the injuries never went away completely and ruined their performance.
4) If Harper is hitting "only" .300 in AAA by mid-May I would keep him there until September. I have no idea what Rizzo would do if the Lerners started insisting on goosing the attendance but he knew that in the long run Harper would be better off with a year of AAA. How strong would Rizzo be in the face of that pressure from his bosses??

blovy8 said...

If Harper is hitting over .300 with power, AND hitting the cutoff man, I think the decision is easy to bring the guy up. This team is not going to be an offensive juggernaut, every at-bat will count, blowing 300 more on Bernadina et al is silly if you can compete for the playoffs. Next year may bring more TJ surgeries.

After seeing his approach this weekend, Tracy makes a lot of sense as a LH bench bat. He has some experience without being over the hill, and seems to have the kind of easy swing that won't get screwed up from inaction. It's no harder to justify than Stairs last year, and the legitimate alternatives are all righthanded.
The choice really going to be Bernadina or Ankiel as the defensive replacement eventually anyway.

Hoo said...

I think Harper should stay in the minors and learn to hit lefties.

Harper said...

Marc - that's my problem though - if any team is going to hang 5-6 on him early it would be the Reds, so I don't think that would necessarily be worrying either.

Anon - Lombardozzi is really seen as a bench player so Rizzo doesn't care where he gets his at bats. For the current situation it's easier on Rizzo if he gets his ABs in AAA, because that doesn't force Rizzo to lose any of the players he has. (If Rizzo really liked Lombo it would be better for him to be up in the majors - I don't think he thinks much of him)

blvy8/Matt - sure Carroll goes first but 2 will have to go, and with an option Lombo can move without the Nats "losing" anyone. Kilgore I think wrote about this the other day.

blovy - but Votto and Bruce are the ONLY lefties.

Matt - yeah I think you are underestimating it. Given that he's not thinking WS run it comes down to "Keep Nady and Lombo in org" vs "Keep Lombo in org" unless you think nothing of Nady the former makes more sense.

Lee - we'll see on who stays and goes. LaRoche does look better but let's give everyone two weeks.

Barney/blovy/hoo - I think Bryce's call up depends on if he's forcing the issue and when it happens. .300 alone isn't enough to force anything - but as blovy suggest .300 with all the trimmings - power,defense,etc would probably be.

Anonymous said...

And Morse took himself out of a rehab game today- out indefinitely...