Nationals Baseball: Bryce taketh away, Bryce giveth

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bryce taketh away, Bryce giveth

How many games can you win with a good start and Bryce Harper carrying the Nats to victory?  Hopefully about 70 more. The Nats end the west coast trip 4-6, when 6-4 was the goal so they are now behind for May, but only by a couple games. A day off and a the Nats enter, to me, the most interesting stretch of games theyhave all year.

3 home series that the Nats should win - Phillies, Mets, Twins
4 games vs their interarea rival - The Orioles
A road series vs their crucial interleague rival - The Braves

It just feels like a lot can go wrong here or a lot can go right.  The blessing is that it ends with the Mets and the Twins so barring complete embarrassment to start there's that chance for a redemption with a strong 5-1 or 6-0 finish. The Nats still aren't hitting but they miss Cliff Lee and it's likely Chen will still be out for the Orioles when the two teams meet. So if there's any time to turn it on, it's now.

At the same time if any problems after this break you feel they have to move on them.  One month slump? Ok. Two months? Getting very tired of it. Three months? You don't go to 3 months. Not unless this is a star player you are talking about. As bad as they've been you can try one last stretch with the guys you have now. But after this stretch, with the All-Star break staring you in the face, you'll be forced to do something.
Last chance boys.


Donald said...

It's pretty easy to point out the problems, but finding solutions is tough. If you give up on Moore and send him down, which is probably a good idea, who do you replace him with? Marrero is hitting well, but is pretty much a 1B which we don't need day-to-day. You could bring up Perez if you want to replace Moore with an outfielder, but what does he offer above Lombo and Bernadina? And once Werth comes back, the issue is reduced. I think I'd give Moore until Werth comes back and then swap him out for the best hitting option we have in AAA -- probably Marrero but maybe Kobernus if you also want to use him to spot Danny.

As for Rendon, I think at some point, Danny goes on the DL and Rendon replaces him, but when do you make that move? I don't think they want Rendon sitting on the bench in D.C. over playing every day in Harrisburg. My guess is it's another month or so until this happens.

On the pitching side, it's pretty clear the pen is in some disarray, but how do you fix it? Clearly, Maya can be sent down. If Garcia could get healthy, you could find some excuse to DL Rodriguez and make that swap, but that's a ways off. You could try to pick up a lefty arm in a trade, but how much are you willing to give up and who's available that would have an impact?

In reality, what the Nats need more than anything is for their starters to get hot. There aren't a lot of moves that'll make that happen.

Anonymous said...

The Nats will be fine, they have too much pitching to struggle for long. They wasted so many good performances but it will soon turn. Its May.

ocw5000 said...

Best hope is for their luck to change as the weather heats up. They are walking at the same rate as last year (7.7%). They are striking out instead of hitting line drives a tiny bit more (about 1% - call this the Bernspinomoore Effect).

But really it's this:

2012: .308 (5th)
2013: .273 (28th)

2012: 13.1% (4th)
2013: 10.6% (21st)

JonQuest said...

Maybe this is a dumb question, but are we avoiding putting Espinosa on the DL because he's the only viable option for backup shortstop?

Booyah Suckah! said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, because MASN cut away from the game pretty quickly after the last out, but it looked to me like Soriano was the only Nat that untucked his jersey after the win yesterday. Maybe the rest of the team sending a message to Soriano that his antics won't be tolerated?

Personally, I think the whole untuck thing is tacky and silly to begin with. He doesn't do it to celebrate a team accomplishment, because he doesn't do it for a win. He only does it when he earns a save. Go play football if you want to have a touchdown dance.

Donald said...

Not a dumb question, JonQ, though I don't think that's their motivation with Espi. If Espinosa were replaced by Rendon and then Desmond got injured for a short stint, they'd probably use Lombo. If Desmond were to go down for an extended period, my guess is that Zach Walters would be their first choice. He's not exactly lighting it up in Syracuse but he impressed in Spring Training. Jeff Kobernus might be another option. He's a 2b predominently but they've played him at a bunch of positions in Syracuse includes SS. He's pretty good and the org thinks highly of him.

blovy8 said...

I think switching from Morse to Span in the OF is going to knock the HR/FB rate down some.

Dr Trea (formerly #werthquake) said...

I'm extremely confused by the last paragraph. Is it an extension of the previous? Is it talking about the team? If so then why does it say "unless this is a star player you are talking about"? And why would only a star player have a 3 month slump?

Otherwise, its a great article as usual.

Dr Trea (formerly #werthquake) said...

In regards to the untucking comment, i wouldn't look too far into it to be honest. Firstly I don't think too many of them ever really did it outside a few. I know if i was a player on the team I wouldn't have felt like untucking there (if i ever did feel like it). If they come home and go on a winning streak i think you'll see a few guys joining.

mike k said...

INTERarea? INTERleague? You know Harper, just because I'm a faceless internet poster who hardly ever posts doesn't mean I don't read your blog and want to be exposed to your grammatical errors.

cass said...

Crazy idea: Would moving Zimmerman to 2nd help with his throwing problems? Rendon could be called up and play his natural position at 3rd. Zimm's range hasn't been great this year, though, so maybe he doesn't have the range to play second. Just a thought.

Erich said...

@ cass:
Yes, I think that is a crazy idea. If (when) Zimm goes anywhere, it will be to 1B.

When is the day (series) that Espinosa has to be moved? Or if the team wins, does his lack of production get ignored (assuming it doesn't improve)?

Donald said...

@Erich -- I agree about Zimm. As for Espi, I see a few possible scenarios, but if you want a date, my guess is shortly after the all-star break if the team still isn't hitting. It would be more gradual around the September call-ups if he's the only hole. Here are a few ways it could play out.

1) Werth returns and the team generally starts to hit a bit better. Espi becomes the only real hole in the lineup so they live with him due to his defense. They platoon him more frequently with Lombo until Rendon is called up in September. Then he platoons with Rendon, with Rendon starting more and more frequently.

2) The team continues to not hit, with or without Werth so they decide to make a change. They call up Rendon and either DL Espi or send down Moore. Rendon works his way into the starting 2b spot if he can hit, which he would. I don't think they will call up Rendon before September to just sit the bench. Werth is probably back during the June 4th-9th homestand at the earliest and I figure they give him a week or two to readjust. If he does, then we're into the first scenario. If not, that's close enough to the all-star break that they decide if getting away for a few days doesn't fix Espi, nothing will this season.

For what it's worth, I think Moore may be on a shorter leash. The big issue with him is they don't have anyone forcing the issue in the minors. I don't know what's available in trade but unlike Espi, Moore doesn't bring anything else to the table besides his bat.

Anonymous said...

Espinosa should have had shoulder surgery in the offseason - I don't understand why they keep running him out there when he clearly isn't right.

Froggy said...

Harper - I wonder if rather than comparing this year's Nats performance to last year, we should be crunching the numbers for the 2011 team instead?

Booyah Suckah! said...

C&S - I think he meant that if you have a star player like a Hamilton or a Cabrera in a 3 month slump, you deal with it and give them time. Otherwise, you think about moving them.

As for the untucking, yeah, it wasn't the whole team, but there were probably half a dozen guys or more doing it, and now no one. Just seems like a nice unspoken message of support for Harper, if I'm not reading too much into it.

Chas R said...

Well said, Harper. I think the the hitting fix can be done internally, but the pitching fix...? I don't see any a way around acquiring a lefty for the pen. Man, we sure do miss Burnett.

What's available out there?

Kenny B. said...

I read the "no untucking" thing as more like "we realize that we barely won this game and our team has been playing poorly despite good quality pitching, so we should probably refrain from engaging in displays of cockiness."

So, I see it more as humility, and less as a Harper/Soriano thing.