Nationals Baseball: STOP LOSING

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Seriously. It was funny for a while. Ha ha. We should be better. Not sure what's going on!  Ha ha. And hell, we can let the whole "there goes the division" thing slide, since if Atlanta wins 100 games that would have been tough to catch even with the Nats hitting on all cylinders. But now, now you're messing with the playoffs. Now you are allowing those morons who don't know baseball and who at the beginning of the year predicted that the Nats would win like 80 games because of such valid reasons like "What have the Nats won?" and "they are getting too full of themselves", you're letting these idiots have their day in the sun.

First off, it may be time to put Dan Haren out of his misery. We went over this in the comments yesterday but Dan Haren's problem is age and that's not a problem you solve. He's lost velocity on his fastball from almost 92 in 2007 to  barely over 89 now. This was fine in 2011 when he threw a devastating cutter. Now though, be it because of the injury, age again, or something else, that pitch is nothing special. He now has an arsenal of below average pitches. When he can locate he can overcome their mediocrity but make a mistake and he gets pounded. This means as soon as he gets tired he gets hit and at this age he gets tired fast. A .196 / .208 / .304 line in the first inning balloons to a .327 / .339 / .655 line by the second. What does it mean when the team's opposing PITCHERS are hitting .353 / .421 / .471 against you?

Yes, Haren has no walks and an average number of Ks which indicates some level of command but guys are teeing off on his mistakes. If he's on, fine, but he has to be on all the time or they will crush these slow fastballs and flat curves.  I'll take a longer look at the fancy stats and pitch stuff but this is what I see.

What about this road trip? 3 at Colorado, 3 at Cleveland, 3 at Phillies. Three middle of the road team. If the Nats truly are a .500 team and nothing better than 3-6 or 4-5 is the expecation level for a trip like this.  If they are something more then they have to come out of this set with a winning record. For their sake I'll go 1-2 vs the Rockies, 2-1 vs Cleveland, and 2-1 vs Phillies for a 5-4 record. They almost got the 4-2 from the little homestand (3-2 with a rainout) so that set us up for believing they could do this.

H-Rod for Ian Dickson is hysterical. I mean it's funny because even though I've said numerous times that H-Rod shouldn't be in this pen, it's still a terrible deal. H-Rod is worth more than Ian Dickson. H-Rod is a borderline major leaguer. Dickson is failing in A ball for god's sake. Would H-Rod ever get it? Is he useful for any good team that doesn't have 5-6 dependable arms ahead of him in a well-constructed bullpen? Not right now, no. But still he's a "stick it in AAA" kind of player, that you maybe call up in Sept one year and he goes on a run and you quickly deal for something that's not crap. This deal strikes me as more of a tantrum than a trade. After weeks of "You want him out? Well I want him in! He's going to be great! You'll see!" Rizzo finally yelled "Fine! He IS terrible." and threw his toy to the ground.


cass said...

Didn't the Nats have to trade him? I didn't think he had any options left so they couldn't just put him in AAA.

cass said...

Also, it is hard to stop losing when Haren pitches. I'd spot the team another loss in Colorado tonight, if it comes to that, since we're just calling up a scrub from AAA. After that, we get our rotation back, and then Harper will come back next week with any luck. If the Nats don't go on a winning streak then, yeah, we're in big trouble.

As I've said before, we're still waiting to tag in our parter and hoping they'll go on a rampage against our opponents. Harp and Stras make a big difference.

Unknown said...

2.1 HR/9IP is Haren's stat. Like you said, he's at a career high almost 6K/BB which is a really misleading stat when we salivate over it for other pitchers. That means he's pounding the zone but getting absolutely crushed. I'm to the point just eat the $13mil and give someone/anyone a shot. It is horrible to go on a nice little 2 game feel good win streak and then just have it crushed in the 5th inning when it looked like that Nats (which they've done so many times this year) have finally figured it out. No idea who can replace Haren. Karns was pretty awful but still young. I've never seen Ohlendorf pitch, and the rest of our real prospect arms are on rehab type of seasons. Should be interesting how tight his leash is. And Haren's "brutally honnest" self assesments are getting old when you can't make adjustments.

Erich said...

@ Miles Treacy:

Sadly, I think Haren is staying through June. A continuing trend of "Let's wait [too long] for [struggling player] to figure it out." He won't and we'll be talking SP trades in July. I don't really know if this team has the prospects to turn a good deal, but we'll find out.

Anonymous said...

The sad part is I don't see the offense being any better next year. Any improvement from Harper, Rendon, Ramos will be balanced by further declines from Werth, Zim, and Laroche. The farm system has no impact bats left.

Todd Boss said...

Why do you think the return for Henry Rodriguez was poor? He was DFA'd; in a few days time he was going to be a waiver claim by someone else (aka we get nothing for him), released (aka we get nothing for him) or assigned to AAA (unlikely, since he was a high probabilty of getting claimed).

Anything in return is better than nothing.

Harper said...

cass / Todd Boss - totally my fault here. I was meaning to say the DFA was the tantrum and not that the Nats should stick him in AAA but that's the kind of return he should get. Someone somewhere I'm sure has an H-Rod counterpart that they are tired of dealing with. It's not ideal but it's a fair value trade. a 1 in 100 lottery ticket for your 1 in 100 one.

Now, if he was trying to trade him before the DFA and got nowhere then yeah, this was the corner he was backed into (by his own bad evaluation) but I haven't heard anything to suggest that.

cass - unfortunately, once in a great while these matches end with the guy still reaching for a tag (creating friction - tag team split! Meet at Survivor Series!).

Miles - well, he is a 5th starter and some days he's going to be ok. What they really need is the pen set up right and the rest of the staff healthy and going deep into games so they can pull Haren at the first sign of trouble. That's the best option (and probably what they are waiting for) right now.

Erich - they do, but barely. Which makes me think they aren't doing it unless they find themselves in the thick of the hunt by the end of July. None of this "we gotta catch 3 teams" stuff.

Sec 135 - Zim may not decline, in fact he is still in the age range he could pull out a surprise good year. If Werth can be healthy he can still be ok. I guess I'm saying there's a chance here. Plus there's a chance that Bryce Harper could not just improve but be HoF AWESOME.

Kenny B. said...

I will continue to spew woe with my prediction that this Nationals team will not make the 2013 playoffs or even play particularly meaningful September baseball. See the 2012 Phillies for what I think is the most likely scenario.

It's got me questioning Rizzo pretty heavily. I mean, the Haren deal was a total bust, his H-Rod experiment was a total bust, and the big name closer move is always stupid. I know the core of the team has been injury-laden, but Rizzo's recent moves have turned out pretty badly, since they came at the expense of a better bench, which would have been helpful in this injury-laden situation.

I know Harper did a recent post on this, but I think it bears reiterating because of how badly all of this is turning out.

Anonymous said...

Can you explain again why Rizzo chose to roll the dice with an injured Haren as opposed to some of the other pitchers available this past offseason(Dempster, Lohse)? Especially after giving up the first rounder to sign Soriano, it makes me wonder why they didn't consider adding one of these guys. Was it all about only wanting to give a 1-year contract?

Erich said...

@ Kenny B.

Not going to argue on Haren or H-Rod. But can we say that a "big name closer deal is always stupid?" While it's impossible to say that just keeping the 2012 bullpen intact would have changed performances by Storen and Clippard, those two do not appear to be ideal 9th inning guys this year. Unless your argument is about 3 outs in the ninth inning don't always mean more than 3 in the 6th, 7th, or 8th, I don't see how Soriano has been a stupid move. FOR NOW, it seems to be working out.

blovy8 said...

Dempster and Lohse are and have worse track records than Haren and would cost more years. Haren's stretch run was decent enough to believe that he'd overcome his back injury. The guy never really threw that hard, and plenty of guys adjust to lower velocity, and make it work in an acceptable fashion. As for stockpiling 6th starters, it's not an easy sell to an established, healthy pitcher. You just end up getting guys you hope can put something together at the right time. Hasn't happened, obviously. Ohlendorf wasn't all that good even when he was a regular, so don't hope for much today. If you don't have a healthy AA guy you're ready to throw against the majors, he's the type of guy you live with.

It's fine to say in retrospect that they didn't get enough for Willingham, but the philosophy was not to have a DH in the outfield. Of course, that lasted until they had no offense, and needed to put Morse out there. And any team could have the Hammer after that one year in Oakland, but he fell to the Twins. Brown and H-Rod for one year of Willingham, whatever at this point. Maybe Brown is actually ready to help?

We can rue how little Rodriguez is worth, but if you actually have to pitch him in a tough spot, he's probably gonna suck. What use is that to 2/3 of the teams in the league? You're left to make a deal with teams that want to keep every player that has any upside whatsover. He wouldn't have cleared waivers, but there's no reason for a lot of teams to care about the guy if the team who lost three games worse than them gets him. Hell, they can probably pick him up in a few months.

Erich said...

@ blovy8

All good points. H-Rod for something is better than H-Rod for nothing.

So who's the 5th starter in August? Because that guy isn't in the organization now.

Kenny B. said...


It has been among the better of what in retrospect appear to have been a set of bad moves. I don't mean that the problem is that Soriano has performed badly (although, really, how many 1-2-3 9th innings have we seen from him?), but that you end up giving up too much for a guy who pitches one inning when everyone is tired.

In the end, you just end up paying a premium for the "closer" moniker when you could have gotten a bigger refresh of the bench or the pen for that price.

Your point about the pen as it exists is well-taken though. There isn't really anyone else in our current pen I would want in that role.

DCNatty said...

Haren isnt the problem...check out the run support for him in his last 6 outings. I dont care what ace is on the arent winning many games with this line of runs scored for you:

3, 1, 0, 3, 4, 0.

HA. that is plain AWFUL. I guess him giving up so many runs has diverted attention from the real problem once again. the OFFENSE is pathetic. I guess you cant have every post on how miserable the offense is tho. So i understand. It must be tiresome Harper.

So it goes. Hes my move for the season. LaRoche stays "hot" we trade him for a 2B. Move Zimm to 1B, rendon to 3B. BOOM. You heard it here first.

blovy8 said...

DCNAtty, If we do that deal it would probably be a white flag, because any 2B we're likely to get is not going to put up the offense LaRoche can. And we can expect about as much back as Morse garnered anyway. Also, since we're complaining about Rendon learning 2nd, we would then be able complain about Zimmermann learning 1st and not hitting well enough to man that position for as long as his slugging percentage stayed under .480, in addition to complaining that the new 2B isn't as good a hitter as Rendon. I guess that would make for some fine complainin' tho.

Anonymous said...

Could we have given Rodriguez to the Braves for free and hoped they put him in? That would have surely been good for at least 2 games in the race to catch them.

He would be known to posterity as the Atlantan Horse.

Anonymous said...

So when does the Ohlendorf for Haren bandwagon start picking up steam?

DezoPenguin said...

Yes, it would be nice if Haren pitched better, but yes, he's not all that bad as a #5 starter. Not as good as 2012 EJax, true, but on the other hand not as bad as 2013 EJax or so on. The problem is starter injuries, which we completely escaped in 2012: With Detwiler and Strasburg on the shelf, Haren's suddenly supposed to pitch like a #3 and he can't do that. Frankly, the fact that this team is still .500 despite the starting pitching being injured, the bullpen being shaky, the defense being unreliable, the offense being offensive, and the bench being a steaming pile ought to be a sign for hope that if we get a few good breaks (injured starters come back healthy, 'pen improvement, Rendon, LaRoche, and Zim continue to hit, and above all Harper comes back healthy and hitting well) that a WC run is not out of the question. The East is a *bad* division this year, and there's a chance of playing above the Nats' heads based on the quality of opposition rather than the quality of the team.

(Of course, that has to assume that either the Reds or the Pirates slip back to the pack and none of the WC contenders in the West go on a big run, but that's true of any sport. The point is, a .500 team that's faced a fair amount of bad luck should not be in "give up" mode in June...even if it's counting on Ross Ohlendorf to pitch like it's 2009 to come up with a surprise win.)