Nationals Baseball: Relentless Optimism

Friday, August 17, 2018

Relentless Optimism

As long as the Nats are in it - why not just choose to go with it? There's plenty of time - weeks really before the end of the season to start talking about the next year, and that's not even going into the usual entire off-season. So while there's a chance, revel in that chance. At least that's how I see it.


Granted this is a day after calling the NL East but the goal is the playoffs. (well the goal for me is the playoffs. The goal for you is probably a World Series appearance). I'm not having it both ways. This is a run to the Wild Card.

Next up for the Nats is the Marlins and I think we are all in agreement a sweep is pretty much the only allowable outcome.

Zimm and Bryce and Murphyo are hot hot hot.  Soto is... well he's still walking! MAT, Trea, Adams, Adam, Reynolds, Keiboom are all cold. It's half a lienup but the half that is hitting is hitting it really well.

For me the Bryce and Soto things are the most interesting for this season. Bryce is hitting since the All-Star Break (make your own guess on why) and is slowly gaining on the huge lead that Soto set up in terms of offensive worth. He's moving back away from the mid-season "Oh he may not get much of a deal at all" thinking. On his end Soto has had a real tough August and is slipping from a near sure thing for ROY to a dogfight with Ronald Acuna.  It's my contention that Soto is tired. He's up over 115 games for the year when his previous high was 50-something. At 19 that's got to wear on you. I think he should get a day off soon and the Marlins games are a perfect time to have that happen. If both these guys can hit like they had at their peak it's almost irrelevant how the rest of the lineup is doing. They should score.

The starting pitching is about how you might have guessed
Max is Max. Roark is back on track. Hellickson is doing well in his limited outings. Gio is blowing it. Milone is not more than a spot starter.

The relief pitching is working in reverse. Madson, Solis have been hurting. Collins, Gace have been good since coming u. Holland hasn't blown up anything so I guess that's good. 

What can you do? The Nats have 3 1/2 starters as long as Gio can't go.  Honestly Fedde or someone should be absorbing those 5th starter losses, not Tommy Milone. Let Milone be the long relief man that the team hasn't bothered having all year.  Relief wise you just keep going with what you have been and hope it works out. I'd probably give Madson some more time off, two days off if he pitches twice in three days, but otherwise you gotta just keep throwing them out there and hope for the best. No help is coming until Doolittle is healthy and we have no idea when that is.

OK Onto the weekend where it all turns around! 


Ole PBN said...

After taking some time to cool off, I'm with you Harper. Root for the Nats until they're out of it officially. Cautious optimism is how I'm proceeding - for my health I suppose. We can talk about 2019 all offseason, and I suspect it might be a long offseason. At the end of the day, (wait for it) "It's Just Baseball." :)

Silver Fox is Drunk said...

I still just hope they make it interesting, that's all. Be in it and play meaningful games in September. I think that Soto's decline could also increase the chances the Nats sign Harper this offseason, because Soto is less of an absolute sure thing, but totally agree that he looks tired.

billyhacker said...

Looking forward to enjoying the game at the stadium on Saturday and rooting for my team.

Harper said...

billyhacker - this was vague... too vague BILLY (insert picture of Billy Marlin)

W. Patterson said...

Ya know, it's kinda strange but this morning I was full of "hey, the Nats are on a streak." Amazing what a win after a series of pitiful losses can do to you.

ssln said...


It is your blog so I guess you can be stupid and crazy at the same time and probably no one will even notice. The problem with the WC is the schedule. You have at least three teams in the West and three in the Central all in the race plus the Phils in our division. One of the teams in the West and Central will win the divisiion which means we have to overtake 5 (really six) teams. But everyone is playing everyone else head to head. Someone has to win those games. The only hope is that one team in the Central and one in the West gets hot and sweeps every thing dealing the other teams massive loses while the Nats go on the mother of all streaks.
Obviously, math, statistics and probability are not your strong suits. Your blog so write what you want but don't expect many to take you seriously. As usual, win thirteen in a row and prove me wrong.

Mr. T said...

@ssln: Please include a link to your blog so I can go there and write mean comments, thanx

Fries said...


"Obviously, math, statistics and probability are not your strong suits."

I mean, Harper can defend himself, but come on. It's not like you've never read this blog before, you've been commenting here for a while

Jay said...

I agree with Harper. It's easy to say it's over. It's by far the most likely outcome. Saying it's over during the May hot streak, that would be saying something. I'm going optimistic too. Come the offseason - I'll be saying Davey has to go. For now - don't call it a comeback. We're 8 back and climbing.

Jay said...

Though the Dusty Baker interview by Ken Rosenthal posted in the Athletic today was hard to read.

ssln said...


Take a deep breath, then exhale. We are just having a little fun here. You want to believe the team will make the playoffs, then by all means have at it.
The reason why I can say these things to Harper is that I am his brother. Just ask him.

JE34 said...

A sibling verbal brawl would *really* spice up this blog. Which one of you is the older one?

Meanwhile - who among us can feel the bullpen ruining a Scherzer outing... again?

JE34 said...

oh wait, it's the Marlins.

Harper said...

I have no brother. Not since what happened in Ceylon

ssln said...

St. Louis just beat Milwaukee 5-2 to move within a half a game of the Brewers for the second wild card spot.
Let's say you bought into Harper's optimism on the WC. Who were you rooting for in the Cards v Brewers game and why. We gained a game on the Brewers and nothing on St. Louis. That is the problem with so many teams ahead of you in the WC race. The Nats have to win 13 in a row to have a chance and then hope that two teams above them don't go 10-3. Maybe they can catch Philly. Maybe but Philly has Nola going every fifth day. They also have a stretch in early September where they play 12 of 15 games against the Marlins and Mets. You want to bet they are going 3-9 in those games?
Just look at the schedules of the other teams in the WC race. Yes the Nats could make it but everything would have to fall perfectly over a 100 games yet to be played. It is simple win 13 in a row and your chances improve.
Two down and eleven to go. Prove it to me.

ssln said...


There is a better chance that I am your long lost brother and we were separated at birth than the Nats will make the playoff. You just don't know that we were separated at birth. When I prove it to you, it will turn out to be a bigger surprise than the Nats making the playoffs.
Now you really have something to look forward to with optimism...a reunion with your long lost brother you never knew you had.

G Cracka X said...

When I read what Harper wrote, he is not saying that he thinks the Nats will make the playoffs. He's basically saying, 'The Nats will almost assuredly not make the playoffs. But, since they aren't mathematically eliminated yet, and since there will be more than enough time to talk about the future once they are eliminated, might as well keep rooting for them until they are actually eliminated'. And I think that makes sense. The 'relentless optimism' is part sarcasm, and part 'might as well, given the options'

What happened in Ceylon, anyway?

Robot said...

IIRC, while Harper and his brother were inn Ceylon, Harper's brother was trampled by standing wildebeests. Harper could have saved him, but instead, shoved him into a gorge. He then ordered his underlings to murder his nephew.

I'm all about the relentless optimism. If it's mathematically possible, cling to whatever diminishing shred of hope you can.

That said, i suspect the reason for Soto's slump is indeed his age - too old for a long season. 19? Pffft! 39 is my guess! Go home, Gramps! You're through!

Robot said...

"Standing" should say "stampeding." Swipe text is my nemesis.

Kubla said...

I don't think we have to get mopey if we move on from the playoffs. There are other things that are fun.

Max needs 66 Ks to get to 300 and four wins to get to 20. He's got what, eight starts left? That's an 8.25K/game pace, and he's averaged exactly 9K/game over the season. I think he can have his best year in Ks, Ws, and IP (needs to beat 284, 20, and 228.2). He's also got his lowest WHIP ever for now (albeit .89 vs .9, so he may not keep it). His WAR is already higher than last season. He could get the CY and MVP.

Sure Bryce is leaving, but maybe he can put up his highest HR total this season...okay that's a stretch, but he could!

Hopefully Soto can get back to where he was and get over .300, maybe hit 20+ dingers on the season. Can they try him at 1B a couple times?

Who are we going to see from the minors? I definitely want to see more Robles, but I'm sure there are other guys on their minor league teams that exist!

ssln said...

Your want stats, math and probabilities.

Last night the Nats won but so did 4 of the 5 teams above them in the WC. Philadelphia, St Louis, LAD and Colorado. Only team to lose was the Brewers and they were head to head with St. Louis. The problem with the WC is that that we have to have four of the five teams in front of us implode and that is unlikely with all the head to heads. I think the Brewers are toast but that is just a guess. If you want optimism and you dream of the playoffs then let me lead you in the right direction because my bother has it all wrong.
Forget the WC...too much traffic. Our only hope remains the DIVISION where the professor told you to give up. There we only need two teams to fold rather than four and we still have 9 H2H against the Phils and 3 against the Braves.
We are only 5.5 out in the WC which looks better than the 7 out in the division. If you took Stat 101 then you know that the extra 1.5 games is meaningless when you just need half as many things to occur to make the miracle come true. It ain't gonna happen with Milone pitching every 5th day and no bullpen but that is where your hopes should lie and not the WC.
As usual Harper has led you astray so reorient your optimism, if you still have any.
In answer to your question, Harper is the older brother which explains why he believe he has all the answers. As you expected Harper was a soulless automaton even as a child. I always thought that one of my missions in life was to prick his bubble every once in a while. I have been doing it for decades so let's have some fun and see if lifeless, broken team can actually pull it together.
Still need another 11 wins in a row. Prove it to me.

Kubla said...

Harper: Thing X is highly improbable.
ssln: Wrong, it is very highly improbable. Fight me.

ssln said...

Dueling pistols at noon tomorrow in front of the stadium. See you there.

Johnny Callison said...

I just want someone to clearly explain me the rationale behind Rizzo's stand-pat while weakening the bullpen trade deadline strategy. Hamels is doing a Verlander for the Cubs (bounces back when motivated by chance to play meaningful games), Ramos had a huge night his first night back for the Phils, and the A's got Jeurys Familia on a rental. Why couldn't the Nats have done any of those? If it's the Lerners' ridiculous rule against adding payroll in-season (they did it a couple of times in the past--Melancon, Doo/Madson/Kintz, even the evil Papelbon), but in general, while other teams take big risks or do big gets, we do little or nothing. This year, the "last year of the window," they do nothing when pieces are out there that are probably NOT that expensive (Ramos!!!). I just want someone to do a little journalism (Chelseas Janes or Boswell or Syrluga at the Post?) and find out if it really is a Lerner thing. Because it really looks like this team has some talent and should be doing way better and refused to do a single thing to improve and is suffering the consequences. Maybe Familia or someone like him gets out of the ninth versus the Cubs on Sunday. Maybe Hamels or someone like him puts together better starts than Milone. It seems like such a self-defeating approach.

Ole PBN said...

@Johnny Callison - I'll give it a stab. Of course this is all my opinion, no one knows for sure what Rizzo is ever thinking (part of what makes him a successful GM I suppose - always maintaining leverage).

The "weakening the bullpen" argument is tired. Everyone acting like Kelley and Kintzler were great relievers, when everyone on here would complain about their performance is interesting. Kelley had a nice stretch in mop-up duty to lower his ERA to a respectable level. Kintzler was not as effective as last year. Both were FA's after this season (Kinztler had a $5m option for '19). This was a salary dump, I think. For the 137th time, I like the return for Kintzler. I don't like getting nothing for Kelley. But I think Rizzo doing what he did to both guys (rumors of friction in the clubhouse) was justified. Of course both players act like they did nothing wrong. Wouldn't you? They're still trying to save face for every other suitor out there. I don't know, sounds like one guys word versus another; we'll never know.

We could have gotten Ramos at the deadline. Absolutely, for the package that the Phils sent to TB. But why not just go get him in the offseason? Not a fan of the rental stuff, especially when our farm is so thinned out as it is. Moves like the Goodwin/Kintzler one help that. I only dig a rental if that one piece (Melancon, for example) puts us over the top as a WS contender. Was Ramos the only missing piece? No. This was a sinking ship with 100 holes. They had to make due with what they had. Our GM puts a great team on the field every year, while also having a focused eye on the future. What's wrong with that?

There's an quote (Lincoln maybe?) that goes something like, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, that to speak and remove all doubt." The inverse of that? Any GM who likes to make a splash because he thinks that's what the fans want (which we sometimes do haha). Winning the offseason type stuff. Just because Hamels/Ramos is having success with their new clubs doesn't mean we missed out. How do you know they'd perform like that here DC? The same guy who plunked Bryce for being a rookie is all of the sudden "the missing link to our WS trophy"? Huh? Are we playing the same meaningful games as CHC and PHI are?

If this is not our year (which it never looked like it from Opening Day), why are you so keen on getting some Hamels/Ramos/Familia band-aids to fix this mess? Sure enough, they've picked up 2 games in 2 days. We'll see. Harper/Eaton/Zim/Murphy/Rendon are all clicking and Strasburg should be back soon. They will need to pull this thing off with the talent they already have. Which is plenty. Not interested in sacrificing the 2019-beyond team for a band-aid on a potentially sinking ship. The offseason will be busy, as it should, and I expect some new faces in here next year. Both at the coaching level and the players themselves. "The window"... (wake up) is closing and another is opening. Thanks to Rizzo.

ssln said...

Thank you Jacob deGrom.

Now do something with it, Nats.

JE34 said...

What fresh hell was that managing in the 10th? I know JT Riddle had 3 hits. He's still not *THAT* good. Why the heck do you walk him, with a man on first already, to load the bases, putting more pressure on a totally unproven reliever? It was practically an invitation for Koda to get behind in the count. Brutal. How about trying to bust him in, or get him to chase?

Sammy Kent said...

If the Nats get within four games by the end of August, I'll believe September has hope. But I don't think it's going to happen. You can't play lethargic, uninspired, mistake-laden baseball for five months, then suddenly come alive and turn it on for the last 20 games and expect to come out on top. And for gosh sake, PLEASE stop it with the injury excuse! Just stop it. Of course the injuries are important, but this crap sandwich of a season is NOT solely a result of injuries. It's lame, it's intellectually lazy, it's irresponsible, and mindless drivel to say it is. This team has been good enough and talented enough to win the World Series without the injuries, and by far good enough to be in first place and win the division despite them.

There are at least fifteen losses this year that have had zero (ZERO!) to do with anybody being on the DL. Hellzbellz, just take Scherzer's seven blown gems. (4 losses, 3 no-decisions for Max, 1-6 record for the Nats in those games.) In order, 2, 2, 2, 1, 3, 1, 0 runs given up by Max in those games. Except for the disastrous walk-off in Chicago, you can't lay them on the bullpen. Three of those losses were shutouts. ZERO RUNS! Gotdang, Max should already have 20 wins, going for 30. Never mind the dozen or so others that have been such pathetic efforts (two near no-hitters by Tampa Friggin Bay comes to mind). Just take Max's four losses where he got no run support to speak of and the Madson gag job and instead of being 62-62 and seven games back, we're 67-57 and only two games out.

But I have a real strong idea that if they were playing good enough and hard enough and smart enough and aggressive enough and creative enough to generate some runs in those games, they'd've done a lot better in the others too....and then we'd be minimum four or five games in front and everyone would be talking about the juggernaut Nationals despite all the injuries this team was supposed to be. But it's too late now.

Ole PBN said...

Here is some evidence that injuries are a problem: Difo (303 AB), Severino (181 AB), Kieboom (81 AB), Sierra (54 AB), Stevenson (47 AB), Sanchez (23 AB), Matt Reynolds (13 AB). 700 at-bats by below replacement level players this season. 18 games started by pitchers who have no business in a major league rotation, and the Nat have lost 11 of those games.

You are insane to argue that this hasn't mattered on the season as whole. Now? Now they're virtually all healthy and since the All-Star break, and 14-14 over that stretch (still with Milone/Fedde/Rodriguez starting games). Couple that with underperformance (every team goes through this): bad starts for Gio and Roark, Hellickson only going 5, and you end up with one reliable starting pitcher. Harper has slumped for the better part of the season, only now to finally start clicking. It all might be too little too late, but if you aren't mentioning injuries as having an impact, you are indeed insane.

And last night? Last night was on Murphy, plain and simple. Catch the ball (both times!). Questionable managing in the 10th but we wouldn't have even been there if not for our statue of a 2B using his glove appropriately. But Sammy, would you call Murphy's error a lack of "hard baseball" or "smart baseball"? If he were playing "harder" and "smarter" that he would have made that play? (palm-to-face)

Kubla said...

I don't know which over the top response to Harper's style I like more, Sammy's "I don't need numbers, my heart tells me Jose Lobaton has the competitive fire it takes to win" or ssln's "You need to use an Ito integral to solve this...4 is more than 2. QED." First Take needs to hire all three of you.

ssln said...


You are the one who is funny. My point was simple. If you want to have relentless optimism, per Harper, then you should focus on the division where the stats say the PROBABILITY was higher to win than the WC where the stats say the PROBABILITY was lower.
Harper had the call exactly backward.
Apparently, there was a 100% chance that you would misinterpret what I said. So fight me.

JE34 said...

JE34 said...

What an irritating baseball team this is. And for the love of pete, will Soto ever get a day off?

W. Patterson said...

(sigh) I was glad Psycho Gio didn't show. But that was only 2.2 innings. He didn't disappoint.

Max David said...

What an unmitigated disaster that was. Phillies & Braves begging to let us back in the race with crap weekends and what do we do?? Take 15,000 steps backwards AAAAAAAAARGHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I understand bad games happen and sweeps are hard to come by, but that is a series you HAVE TO win if you want to start talking playoffs. Sweep would have been nice but difficult I:e in the last 2 weeks: Marlins won a game against St. Louis, Tampa beat Boston, Orioles won a game in Cleveland, Yankees lost a game to Texas, etc but win the freaking series!!!

And can we just DFA/release Gio already?? Good grief! Let someone from Syracuse take his spot, they can’t possibly be worse, can they??

Sammy Kent said...

@ Ole PBN, I'd call Murphy's error BAD baseball. With the exception of Max they've pretty much all played it this year, whether starters or back-benchers, and that's why this team isn't going to the playoffs. And when the injured starters play bad baseball upon their return, it makes my point that the injuries aren't the problem.

Anonymous said...


Murphy has always been a really bad fielder. Not sure how that proves your point.

Anonymous said...

The Washington Underachievers have managed to underwhelm for 7 consecutive seasons.

Picked by many respected experts to win The World Series in several of the last 7 seasons, the collection of Washington Underachievers has gone 0-4 in the NLDS under three different managers.

The blocked Lerners don't listen to their GM, and they don't allow him to address the obvious deficiencies that the team had all 4 times they went to the post-season.

Until the blocked Lerners stop running the team like an office building, it will never succeed in the post-season, much less win a World Series.

Sammy Kent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sammy Kent said...

Tom Boswell gets it almost 100% right in today's WaPo column. Just a couple of quotes, and sorry for bringing up The Washington Post.

"... in the past 10 days, their season probably has died of self-inflicted wounds."

The self-inflicted wounds began long before the most recent ten days.

"’s useful to recall that this team was so ultra-confident that Martinez had players practice home run trots and walk-off celebrations in spring training, as well as holding golf shot contests.

They worked on drills plenty, too, and have the second-best fielding percentage in baseball. But all in all, they have been a slipshod, blundering bunch." --emphasis added

@Anonymous, I agree with you completely about the Lerners, and let me flesh out my point about the injury excuse. I've contended all year that the injuries are secondary to the pisspoor play, and that the pisspoor play afflicts the whole team. Sure Murph isn't the best defensive infielder, but gotdang, he makes THAT play. For championship teams those mistakes are rare. They've been anything but rare in 2018. This season there have been dozens of game-changing plays botched just as badly, at the plate and in the field. There have been dozens of errors of commission and omission--by the players AND the manager--, a lack of discipline, thought, and SKILL at the plate and lethargic effort in the field. When that happens night after night after night it's ridiculous to claim the problem is injuries.

You can't stop injuries, but you CAN stop playing ball like the Bad News Bears. These guys ought to know how to play good baseball. If they don't, that's on the manager and coaches. If they do and don't perform, that's also ultimately on the manager and coaches. If the manager and coaches are in over their heads, that's on the GM and/or the ownership that hires the manager....or fails to re-sign the one that players were motivated to play for and who accepted no excuses from either stars or benchwarmers. I'm looking at you, Mark Lerner.

Josh Higham said...

Wowee, what a dialogue. To quote Lego Abraham Lincoln, "A house divided against itself would be better than this [comments section]."

Ole PBN said...

I see your point Sammy. I think injuries got us in this hole, but bad baseball is keeping us in up to our necks. Especially now that most everyone (aside from Doo and Stras) are back. I tried to keep a running list of mental errors early in the season, but life got in the way and I couldn't keep it going. I attempted to track every mental error/lapse of judgement from the players themselves. Bad baserunning, called third strikes, missing the cut-off man, not getting down a bunt, asleep in the field, swinging at a pitch in the dirt after the pitcher has thrown 6 straight balls, etc. Not tracking physical errors (bad throw, bobbled ball). I tracked this only for losses up until early May and the results are astounding. You'd be shocked by the number of mental errors this team commits. I don't know if that is on the manager, because I've seen this for quite some time, and that is why this team has never passed the eye test for me. It's this laid-back, make it look easy, attitude this team has had since at least 2012, and we've had 4 managers since then.

PotomacFan said...

I suspect that fans of many teams, including teams with a record over 0.500, would also have a long list of blunders. We tend to forget the blunders our home teams makes when they are winning close games, but it is often the other team that has made such blunders. We beat the Cardinals on Saturday because they made several costly errors. Imagine how angry their fans are about those blunders. They are in a tight race for the wild card.

Now, having said this, I suspect that the Nats have probably made more such blunders than comparable teams.

Some blunders are less on the manager and coaches than others. Daniel Murphy is a terrific hitter and a terrible fielder. He could be managed by the best manager ever and he'd still make terrible plays in the field. By contrast, I think that players can be coached to be better base-runners. We had pretty much the same players last year, but with Dave Lopes coaching first, we seemed to get picked off a lot less. Not sure if the stats bear that out, but it would be interesting to look at.

And MAT has proved that certain batters are going to swing at pitches in the dirt no matter the manager. And Juan Soto (who desperately needs some time off) is going to lay off close pitches even if Davey M. and Kevin Long are the worst coaches in baseball.

Jay said...

Does anyone know why Martinez didn't have someone bunt Wieters over to second in the 9th Saturday night? He was on with 0 outs after Eaton's homer to tie it right? I ended up yelling at the TV after that loss. I just don't see how Martinez comes back next year. The last two times the Nats had must win games they were against the Marlins. Both times they lost the Saturday and Sunday games (just before the trade deadline and this past weekend). They've looked flat and just plain horrible. Granted Martinez isn't the only reason, but man does he seem like he is in way over his head. They should be 5 games back right now. Also, it seems like Martinez is throwing guys under the bus a lot more now. It used to be "we didn't get it done" Now it's player x didn't do well. Gio didn't pitch well. Solis has to get out lefties. etc.

Silver Fox is Drunk said...

For as much criticism as Martinez gets, I think that Liliquist deserves more. The Nats really miss Mike Maddux. Everyone talks about Martinez' handling of the bullpen, but he most likely relies on Liliquist for that information. Zuckerman even mentioned in his column today that while pitchers used to regularly credit Maddux, they almost never mention Liliquist. He has pretty much the same staff as last year, but has seen drastically worse results.

Ole PBN said...

Well when its 8-1 before the 5th inning is over, its really only on 1 person and that's Gio. And does Solis not have to get lefties out? And does Koda Glover not have throw strikes? I think the finger is often pointed at the wrong man. If Martinez doesn't come back, who would you rather have? Do you really want do this all over again? MW was fine in 2014, won MoY, and then a tidal wave hit him in the face the very next year. I hate all this instability. If Showalter were to come in here, he would be throwing everyone under the bus. It's his favorite thing to do while he manages the worst team in baseball. We had a laid-back old man (DJ), and thought this team need a kick in the ass. We had a drill Sargent who tried to hold guys like Bryce accountable (MW), and it didn't work. We had a players manager (DB), but we hated his rigid ways and playoff managing. Now we have a nice guy (who Bryce loves, which is interesting... I guess because he lets him get away with whatever? I think we're getting closer to the problem in the clubhouse...) and we're sick of that guy too. After less than a season. After two weeks Phillie fans hated Kapler and he was the laughing stock of the league. Who's laughing now? So sick of all this manager scapegoating. Its just like what Tim Hudson alluded to all those years ago, this same "core" is still there, three managers removed. But yeah, let Martinez go, and this team is going places!! Gimme a break. I don't know if he is the answer, but firing him now, or after the season is the second worse thing you can do IMO, next to firing Rizzo (which I've heard a lot of on here).

Robot said...

Man, those Marlins are tough.

Ric said...

I'm fine with everything. I gave up on the postseason close to a month ago. I'm rooting for .500 ball for the season.

I've only got two [rather minor] questions:

1) Why didn't we sign Ramos? (I was in favor of not resigning him before he signed with the Rays. I was wrong. But the Phillies got him for close to nothing. We could have matched "close to nothing".)

2) Why won't Martinez rest Soto? I know quite a few others here have asked. But for goodness sake! He looks so tired. And MAT is a passable fourth OF, who frankly does a little better with more ABs. I don't think I'm the only one who thinks Eaton should have off every third game and Soto should have off every third game.

Sammy Kent said...

@Jay, I think the big mistake Saturday was not pinch-running for Wieters in the 9th. I was at the game Friday night and early on Wieters got on to lead off. I said to my friend "This is one time I wouldn't try to bunt a guy over. Let Max hit. If he bunts they'll throw Wieters out at second." Which is exactly what they did, and probably why Martinez didn't try it on Saturday. We won the Friday game going away anyway, but on Saturday with Wieters being the winning run on first and no outs, it was get him over and get him in time. He's so slow the surest way was to put a pinch runner in THEN bunt that guy over--even though by that time we were pretty much down to Difo and pitchers. But when you get the winning run on with no outs in the home half of the 9th, there's no excuse for not pulling out the stops to get that man across the plate.

Anonymous said...

Sammy - Kieboom started that game, so if you pinch run for Wieters there, we'd have no catcher to come back in the game. That's why he didn't PR.

PotomacFan said...

And this shows why, as fans, we can be so hard on managers. The manager may not be totally on top of things, but with the bench coaches they know much more than we do.

As Anonymous noted, Wieters could not be lifted for a pinch runner because Kieboom was already out of the game.

Sammy Kent said...

Sorry. Had to work for a couple of hours.

I'm aware Kieboom was already out of the game. I'm certainly not advocating playing it this way every time by any means, but sometimes it's worth the risk to push your chips to the middle. You score, the game's over. We had the top of the order coming up. You expect them to be able to get the run in, especially with a speedy baserunner. I'm aware that's also another argument for NOT taking out the last catcher, but still, when 1. his run wins the game and 2. he's that slow and 3. just recently off the DL for a hammy to boot, it might be time to do or die. (Sorry for the football analogy, but think QB sneak instead of game-tying FG with no more timeouts in the Ice Bowl.)

DM had already taken the risk of firing virtually every left-handed bullet he had in the seventh to try and get the lead. I was impressed. Pleased, even. He was actually pushing buttons to make something happen. (And it worked until Soto inexplicably swatted at the first pitch thrown by an average reliever that was hammered in his last outing.) I'll just say that we've seen so little aggressive baseball this summer if he had put Difo in to pinch run in an all out effort to push across the winning run, I would have at least given him props for trying.

Jay said...

I would have pinch hit with Difo and tried for a bunt or even just a hit. Or even have your best bunting pitcher pinch hit. Having Mark Reynolds try to swing for the fences three times was not so great. Would have been fine with no one on. I didn't realize Wieters had been thrown out at second on Friday, so I guess I see why he didn't bunt there. It does bring another thought to mind. It seems like Davey learns things a day or two late. Guy gets thrown out Friday, so no bunt Saturday. Didn't score the run and lost the game Saturday, then he had Gio bunt Wieters to 3rd and he scored 1 run that inning in a game he already trailed by 3 with Gio on the mound and likely to give up more.

Also, but the fact that the Nats have had turnover at manager shouldn't play into future manager decisions imo. If Martinez is a bad manager, and more importantly an above average manager becomes available, then the Nats had better get him. If AJ Hinch leaves Houston as the rumor is he might. If Showalter (who I think is an above average manager) becomes available then the Nats had better sign him. The question is will they spend the money. Now the key is if they let Martinez go they have to get someone they know is better. Keeping Martinez just for "stability sake" is how bad teams stay bad. Look at the Cubs. They had Renteria for 1 year and jumped at the chance to get Maddon.

Sammy Kent said...

As the others have pointed out there was the factor that removing Wieters from the game, either for a pinch runner or pinch hitter would have left DM with no catcher --except Bryce, who has actually asked to catch the occasional mop-up inning but been told no-- should the game go extras. I thought it worth the risk. IMHO small ball is much more likely to produce a walk-off than a dinger, but it would be a very interesting statistical research.

Johnny Callison said...

The discussions about firing the manager or not firing the manager are quite confusing, since we have scribes like Boswell backhanding Davey M and then turning around to say, "But managers barely have any effect" despite earlier saying Dusty should have been kept and would have done better. It seems like the way these managers use players affects the players' results, rather than players getting the same numbers no matter who is managing.

I remember Earl Weaver got over 30 HRs out of Gary Roenicke, John Lowenstein, and Benny Ayala during a season when none of them could start full-time. He also managed to have a very effective four-man OF rotation in 1969-1971, with all four players being productive (Buford, Blair, Robinson, and Rettenumnd). DM's off and on deployment of MAT has been very confusing, and he seems to be running Soto into the ground. Dusty made sure all his scrubs got regular starts to stay shape.

Boswell also noted that Dusty's record in one-run games was way better than Davey M's; lately, I've seen a lot of stats suggesting that one-run game records are totally random, but I recall Earl Weaver had a good record, there, too. My vibe on DM is he's too mild-mannered and lets the players decide everything--apparently he felt Bryce should have taken a pitch instead of swinging in the ninth on a 3-1 count with the scored tied and a runner on first, but he immediately backed off to "I rely on Bryce to understand his own talent."

I'm sure Earl Weaver told Frank Robinson to take a pitch once in a while, and Frank was WAY bigger than Earl in the Orioles' universe, but was more than happy to be managed and to support the manager. DM's giving into Gio's demand to stay in games was a huge error that probably led to a lot of laxity on the field; DM was abdicating authority. A simple, "I respect that Gio is a competitor and wants to stay in, but I will make the best decision for the team to help us win each game and to compete throughout the season," would have clarified things, and if Gio complained, sit him down for a start.