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Feeling better or feeling worse?

Aug 2, 2010, 11:00 AM EDT

Six days ago, the Nationals were reeling from a 3-7 road trip that included an ugly sweep in Milwaukee. The status of Stephen Strasburg's shoulder wasn't worth pausing one second to contemplate. Matt Capps and Cristian Guzman were members of the roster. Adam Dunn was, too, though there was reason to worry he might not be by week's end. Yunesky Maya was in the Dominican Republic, his visa not yet secured. Scott Olsen and John Lannan were pitching in the minor leagues.

And, of course, there was no reason for anyone in Washington to know Miss Iowa's name.

Turned out to be quite an eventful week, huh?

Now that the dust has settled, there's time to catch our breath and evaluate what happened during that homestand. Two trades were made, one really big one wasn't. Strasburg went on the DL but resumed throwing yesterday and reprted no problems. Olsen and Lannan each returned from the minors and each pitched well. The Nationals took four of six from the Braves and Phillies, highlighted by Saturday night's dramatic, Ryan Zimmerman walk-off.Read more ยป

  1. JayB - Aug 2, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    Yes Mark, it was a great week. Rizzo traded Guzman…you know how long the history there is…..killed us in 2005 and 2006 with poor play and then injuries and again in 2009-2010 by taking up $8 Million dollars/playing time that stunted the long term development of the middle infield solution. Good guy but bad baseball player….no range and .300 OBP is a very bad combination.Rizzo finally faced reality about Flores and addressed the need for a good young catcher. Rizzo finally signed a international player that will make a difference. Still think they are way behind where the should be with 16-17 year olds but at least Maya at 28 is MLB ready.Perhaps the best move was taking a more active role in limiting Riggs options so he has to start playing younger guys. Ironic as it is I think Riggs is a better manager with a 23 man roster.

  2. Jim Kurtzke - Aug 2, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    I agree, for the most part. But I'll feel a whole lot better when Strasburg and Zimmermann are pitching well again, and Dunn is given a new contract. If Dunn is not extended, then I don't understand the logic of not trading him for prospects closer to performing at the major league level.

  3. HHover - Aug 2, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    I'm encouraged too, for the same reasons, and perhaps another one too–tho it might have made good business sense for the Nats to have Dunn locked up with a new contract by now, we get to watch him for another 2 months at least, and he has a strong incentive to impress.Less encouraging to me:1. Rube Goldberg rotation – surprisingly effective in the past week, but how long can it hold up?2. More JMax? Really?! If you think the guy actually has potential, he deserves better than than this revolving door. If you don't, then it's a waste of a roster slot. Either way, it's the sort of roster management that infuriates fans.

  4. JayB - Aug 2, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    Dunn will be back one way or another in my view. It may be a string of arbitration contracts over the next few years in the most extreme case but keep in mind that will make him a very rich man before he moves on to DH for Yanks or Boston in a few years. Worst case when he does go we have an extra $15 Million a year to use on the open FA market and two top picks…..I'll take that as a fall back position.

  5. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    Overall encouraging but, IMO, Willingham, Nyjer, Bernie, and Morse need to share PT in OF. No time or room for Willie or JMax. Let's see what we've got in 1st four.Trading for Ramos: best acquisition by Washington of a young catcher since Earl Battey? WADR to Flores.

  6. Positively Half St. - Aug 2, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    I completely agree that it is silly to bring Maxwell back, except that he has a spot on the 40-man roster. I also agree that my good spirits are contingent on resigning Dunn. We all want that to happen, but what if Rizzo's real intent is to make a run at Fielder, or sign Dunn for less if that fails? I suppose he should have traded him, in that case.Anyway, my main reasons for contentment at Wilson Ramos and Ynueisky Maya. I look forward to seeing both of them with the Nats not later than September 1. On a lesser note, I will be disappointed if Chase Lambin isn't rewarded with a cup of coffee for his successful year at Syracuse.

  7. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 2, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    JayB… your "string of arbitration contracts" indicates that the club has some sort of control on where Adam goes next. How in the world does Adam get to arbitration? What part of "free agent" includes arbitration? Am I missing something here?I agree that the fall back is the two draft picks and the money saved from not spending it on him but we are going to have to bid against others to maintain his services.

  8. alexva - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    Dunn does not have to accept arbitration and he won't. By offering it, the Nats get the picks if he signs elsewhere.

  9. Big Cat - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    i didn't even know Guzzie was gone. He was a punch and judy hitter with no range and no arm. It was a good move dumping his 8 million perHated to lose Capps. This is a gamble. But hey……thats why you have scouts. Bring the kid up. lets see what he's got

  10. Smatt1001 - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    Encouraging:-Finally seeing some consistent offense and taking 2 of 3 from the Braves and the Phils.-Shoring up our catching past the end of the seasonMy big question going forward is, "Are the going to have any sort of "real" rotation going forward or is it going to look more like some fantasy baseball line-ups as we stream pitchers for the rest of the year?

  11. natscan reduxit - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    … to answer your question, I feel more positive this week. The things that happened, as you recounted, were all part of a successful team's season, and the team's authority figures dealt with each of them in the correct way. I have developed a lot of faith in Mike Rizzo and see a lot of hope for Jim Riggleman. Improvements for each can always be made, but each in his own right, has shown values worth celebrating. … as I look at the team, heading west today, I see a team which is more stable, and more capable of playing steady baseball, than it has been to date. Not a winning season, but then again, it wasn't going to be. But the team that lands in Phoenix today is the beginnings of a good team which starts next season with great promise.Go Nats!

  12. SpashCity - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    If Strasburg can return from the DL on schedule and Zimmermann doesn't have any setbacks in the minors we could be looking at a nice preview for the 2011 rotation starting right about the time Bryce Harper should be signing on the dotted line.2011 RotationStrasburgZimmermannMayaHernandezOlsen/Marquis/Stammen/Lannan/Wang/New FA Signing

  13. phil dunn - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    I will feel better when the Lerners open their wallets, let a few moths fly out, then pony up enough money to sign Adam Dunn to a long term deal. They have enough holes in the lineup (starting pitching, 2nd base, short stop, and right field) without creating another on at first base. I would also feel better if they would sign a real manager for next season instead of doing what the Os have done for the past several years on the manager front.

  14. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    Smatt1001… I agree totally. We haven't had a major league rotation EVER… Livo should be our #5 starter and he's the glue that's held or staff together for the whole season. I would love to see some consistency out of Stammen, I believe Olsen is solid as a 3 or 4, and I can't wait to see J-Zimm and Maya with Stasburg. That's 6 guys I believe have the stuff to form a decent rotation. No Lannan and definitely no Marquis.I can't wait to see Ramos behind the plate and word is Marrero will get a September look.Things are looing up.

  15. Jimmy - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    I'm glad we kept Dunn but I won't start feeling good until we sign Harper. And, I"ll feel alot better when double switch Riggleman is gone. Mr. Nat

  16. Stew Magnuson - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    Just a couple of off-the-wall remarks.When we traded Capps, we also sent away his theme song, The Final Countdown, by Europe, which has to be the most annoying song any closer has chosen.Also, how embarrassing that the Nats took whatever money was offered them to have Captain Morgan and his crew of skanks walk around the park Friday night. Anything for a buck, seems to be the Lerners' philosophy.

  17. greg - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    pos half street, i can't imagine any NL team making an expensive, long-term play for fielder. his long-term profile in the NL is less positive than dunn's. dunn's body isn't and hasn't changed over time. fielder's is getting doughier and less capable of fulfilling his last name every season. i really hope the nats wouldn't be looking that direction.

  18. David - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    I feel SUPER thanks for asking, as for the Nats I would feel a whole lot better if they can go at least 3-4 on this road trip. The Nats are 6 games over 500 at home(.557) and and 19 below 500 on the road(.320 ouch). The only other team with a winning record at home and any where close to that wining pct. on the road is Colorado .384 and there may be some park effect there. In fact the Nationals road record is the same as it was last year(.321). I can't explain this except for maybe our defense is so fragile that it loses an additional one out of every 4 games on the road for us? Any guesses? Oh, Ramos was 2-4 HR and 2 RBI last night in a 3-1 win for the Chiefs.

  19. HHover - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    Stew – It is kind of skeezy, but don't blame the Lerners–it's an MLB-wide promotion:http://mlb.mlb.com/sponsors/captain_morgan/first_pitch/

  20. John O'Connor - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    Agree with Stew Magnuson that Captain Morgan and his wenches on Saturday night was a horrible idea.Also agree with Jimmy that something has to be done about the incessant double switches. The idea that you would double switch one of your three decent hitters (Willingham) out of a tie game in the top of the 8th(?) inning Satuday is just insane.

  21. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    Is not being discouraged the same as being encouraged???I'll see how we do on the road.

  22. Doc - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    It was a fun week to be a Nats fan. But it's still grating to see the Braves and Mets develop position players, that the Nats should be developing. Particularly so since we've been picking ahead of these guys in the draft.

  23. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    Jay B, excellent points.If there is a lesson in this for Rizzo with respect to Riggleman and next year, it's this: Do not put too many proven veterans on the bench. Limit Riggleman's options, and it may just work out.Of course, it's been a good week, but at this point, I tend to hope that the team does not to do too good. A few wins more or less don't really matter, but there is nothing more dangerous than a deceptively good finish to the season. The record at the end needs to reflect that there are many holes to fill, and that the team is not "one or two players away"…

  24. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    Agree with phil dunn–2b and SS are holes in the lineup. Kennedy wasn't supposed to be the long-term solution, and Desmond clearly isn't. RF isn't as clear. Bernadina has improved during the year. The verdict there may take another year. If so, Dunn has to be signed to provide the power you might expect from RF otherwise. I think the pitching is coming on with the primary caveat to that claim being Olsen and Zimmermann's health and durability. On balance, I'm encouraged.

  25. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:39 PM

    Nobody thinks this team is "one or two players away" no matter how many games they win the rest of the way. Wilsom Ramos has to prove himself, we still need a bonifide right fielder and Benandina needs to prove he can be an everyday Center Fielder (that throw by Morgan on the sac fly yesterday was abysmal), the middle of the infield, both short and second need bonafide everyday players as the jury is still way out on Desmond and the pitching staff, while talented, needs alot of shaping up.The positive is that the new scouting staff is in place and will continue to provide solid draft picks and prospects from other organizations. And the pitching appears deep through out the organization. Bryce Harper will be signed and is 2 years away, Willie Harris, Wil Nieves and Adam Kennedy will be gone afterthis season with, hopefully younger replacements.

  26. SpashCity - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    @Anon 9:24I couldn't disagree more with you second point that "there is nothing more dangerous than a deceptively good finish to the season." How about a finish to the season that was even worse than it's start? The Padres had a 39-35 record in the 2nd half last year, after a horrible 36-52 1st half. They have obviously built on that momentum by adding a few key pieces and currently have the best record in the NL.The 2007 Rays had a 32-43 record in the 2nd half, clearly not spectacular but the .427 winning percentage was an improvement over their 34-53 (.391) record in the first half. As we all know the Rays shocked the world by going to the World Series in 2008.I'm not saying the Nats are in for that kind of turnaround in 2011, but a strong finish to the season can't possibly be seen as a bad thing. A strong finish could be the difference between certain current players choosing to resign with the Nats or test the free agent waters. It could also be the difference between some free agents signing in DC because they see the Nats as an improving team with the potential for greatness, or just another Kansas City or Pittsburgh that never improves and just sits in the cellar every year.We all want Ian Desmond to improve defensively right? So it would be a good thing if he made fewer errors at the end of the season than he did at the beginning, because that shows improvement. Why should that logic not apply to the team as a whole?I think a real Nats fan would want the team to win as many games as possible every year, (unless there is a Stephen Strasburg waiting to be drafted #1 next year, which I don't think there is).

  27. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    Yeah, things looking up. Clint was not around on Saturday night. Unfortunately Ballystar was on Sunday. Justin Maxwell must have more frequent flyer points than George Clooney in "Up in the Air."

  28. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    As far as developing position players is concerned, am I the only one who thinks Chris Marrero is a latter-day Larry Broadway?

  29. Feel Wood - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    "In fact the Nationals road record is the same as it was last year(.321). I can't explain this except for maybe our defense is so fragile that it loses an additional one out of every 4 games on the road for us? Any guesses?"I blame Riggleman. He has openly admitted that he manages differently on the road than he does at home, e.g. he schedules off days for prime players during road trips because he doesn't want to short-change the home fans by resting them at home. He totally botched the DH situation in the road interleague games – this during a time when the big three (Dunn, Zim, Hammer) were all hitting well and so was Morse. Riggleman should have been front-loading the offense in those games, but instead he pulled back. Result? One measly win in nine road games against AL teams, even though they played two of the worst (BAL, CLE).Riggleman is a mediocre manager at best when they're playing at home. On the road he's terrible. On the road is exactly where the manager and the team need to up their game and rise to the occasion. Instead, Riggleman eases up, thinking he's outside the prying gaze of the home fans, and this carries over to the team. They end up playing poorly, and the record speaks for itself.

  30. LoveDaNats - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:19 PM

    I agree that it has been a positive week and I'm very encouraged. I held my breath until 4 pm Saturday hoping Dunn would not leave us. But I also remember doing the same thing with Soriano only to have him chase the big bucks and walk away after the season. Could the same thing happen with Dunn? or are circumstances surrounding him different?I will feel much better if they offer him….and he signs….a new contract. My daughter is dating a die hard Phillies fan (yeah, I'm in a support group :) ). He spent the weekend with us and it's true…..winning leaves a Phillies fan with nothing left to say. PS. I'm actually fond of him and he's a Nats fan when they aren't playing Philly.

  31. Tom B - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    Lannan did not pitch well. His results were okay but his location was not good and his velocity was not where it was last year.

  32. Water23 - Aug 2, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    Feeling somewhat positive. Nice they did not take a horde of middling players for Dunn and the Capps for Ramos deal was very nice but other moves seem lacking. Mark, you mentioned Maya but really this is the only significant international signing in two years. Granted the Nats rebuilt their international staff during that time but you do need some volume of players to build a decent organization. Spend some money on international development and you might get a above average player once in a while.As to building a team, yes, I agree with Mike Rizzo that winning comes from solid pitching but you have to develop a few Major League Players(few in the last five years). Zimmerman and Strasburg were up after a few months and although Desmond, Bernadina and Morse are ok players none has made a significant impact on the team. It would be nice to develop one home-grown superstar, heck the Phils were in the doldrums until they develop 3 (Rollins, Utley and Howard). It would be nice to see some light at the end of the tunnel on fielders

  33. Steve M. - Aug 2, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    The Nats have played the good teams tough all year and have not capitalized on the weaker teams on their schedule.Seeing good offense and defense at the same time when you see good pitching is the key all the time to winning which makes us feel better about our team.The Matt Capps trade was a worthy gamble to get Ramos and fill a long-term hole. The Guzman trade wasn't about money as the Nats had to pick up $2 million of his salary and doubt the players they got in return will help in the Majors so seeing Guzy's roster spot was picked up by Maxwell disgusts me.Only Lerner would know if not trading Dunn was a good gamble if they plan on signing him to a 3 year deal which is important for the team continuity as almost every player starting with the exception of Dunn, Pudge, Willingham, Livan, Olsen, and Kennedy are all under team control for 3 more years or longer.A rotation of Strasburg, JZimmermann, Maya, Detwiler, and TBD can pitch together for several more years.The key to the future is to upgrade at either Shortstop and move Desmond to 2nd or worse case keep Desmond and find a 2nd baseman. The Team needs one more top of the rotation pitcher and figure out their outfield. I would play Morse in RF everyday and move Bernadina to CF. I would have Nyjer start working in LF along with Willingham. This team needs to see if Morse is an every day player. If Morse isn't an every day player Jayson Werth should be available as a Free Agent.Send Maxwell back down and give Lambin a much deserved promotion.

  34. Mark - Aug 2, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    Good analysis Steve M. as continuity is a key to a good team. They still have holes to fill.Agree with most that the road record and losing 5 of 6 on the road to Cleveland and Bal'more sunk the team. This team faded due to poor fielding and inconsistent pitching on the road. If the Nats picked up almost all of Guzmans salary, tell me again why they traded him? Oh, to bring back Maxwell!

  35. Nattydread - Aug 2, 2010 at 3:37 PM

    Very encouraging week! Rizzos moves all good. Holding out with Dunn will make the fans and clubhouse happy which is important.Pitchers slowly coming back — not like the charge of the light brigade but definitely there's progress. Lannan pitched okay on his first day back. Zimmermann almost ready. Potential star Cuban Maya signed. Olson looking good. Strasburg being treated with kid gloves. Marquis almost ready. Wong still working out in Viera. Detweiler and Stammen showing flashes. That's 9 starters not named Livo, and an excellent 1-2-3 punch for '11 with Strasburg, Zm'nn, Maya. Plus some fodder for trades in the off-season.Nyjer Morgan, now that he's sliding head-first again, is looking like the guy we had last year. So the missing pieces are 2B, RF and some bench hitters. I think the pitching will sort itself out from what we have. Agree that jury is out on Ian Desmond. He needs to play in the Arizona League to focus better.And we need to get rid of Willie Harris (should have thrown him into the Capps deal).

  36. Section 222 - Aug 2, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    I'm definitely feeling better than I was Wednesday after SS went down. Now it looks like he may be back soon, Guzman is gone, we got some real value for Capps, Dunn is still here. All in all a good week, though Riggleman still has doubleswitch-itis. But the real test will be what happens to Dunn. There were three possibilities, ranked here in my order of preference:1. re-sign him2. trade him for good value3. lose him to free agency for a couple of compensation picks.So we didn't do #2, but we still might end up with #3 instead of #1. I really think that the return on two draft picks is way too uncertain for this team's current trajectory. We need make a good run before Ryan Zimmerman has to decide whether to take the money and run after 2013. So whether the Dunn saga has a happy or a sad ending is still uncertain and may very well remain so into the off-season. The finish of yesterday's game was a perfect demonstration of the difference between a contending team (the Phillies) and an also-ran (the Nats). The two clubs had exactly the same chances in the bottom of the 10th and the top of the 11th. Man on first, none out. Man on second, 1 out. Man on third, two outs. We failed to bring home the game winner, they broke the game open. And they had their closer left to finish the game, we had Colin Balester.

  37. Mark - Aug 2, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    Stew Maguson – you are a journalist by occupation and you flippingly made the Captain Morgan comment without doing any research plus one of those so-called SKANKS you referred to is my friend Ashley Weber who is a graduate of Holy Cross in 2004 and recently graduated college. Would you rather she supplement her income selling drugs or living on government welfare?Stew, you have issues. Let's talk about baseball and next time you call someone a skank, don't do it hiding behind your keyboard!

  38. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    I was in Tulsa when U. Jimenez was pitching for the Drillers (Colorado's AA club). Tatusco and Roark both have better stats than Jimenez did at times. You could see his potential, but Jimenez wasn't a finished product. I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss the Guzman trade. Anybody with decent stats in the Texas League (hitters league) with its heat has a chance to be a good pitcher. BTW, Guzman is gone. I'm all for giving up on the Guzman bashing.

  39. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    Apparently Mark knows a skank when he sees one!

  40. Mark - Aug 2, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    White Sox sat Beckham yesterday after another 0-4 night for Brent Lillibridge who hit a 3 run triple as the GW RBIs for the White Sox.Still puzzled why the White Sox didn't get the LF/DH they needed with Beckham as trade bait.I still see Beckham as available in the off-season in a trade to fill the hole at 2nd base.

  41. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:05 PM

    When does Beckham's season-long slump become more than a short-term problem and growing proof that the White Sox missed on that pick? Just asking. He doesn't help much if he can't hit.

  42. court - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:17 PM

    2B's not the problem, SS is. After watching Desmond for over half a year, it's become clear that he can't/won't charge balls. He lets them come to him and either boots the grounder trying to field an in-between hop or rushes a throw because he's let the runner get too far up the baseline. Given his range and potential with the bat, I think he'd be fine at 2B, especially if Dunn is re-signed. But if he can't charge grounders then he can't play SS in the majors. What is Alex Gonzalez's contract situation? Is he a FA? He would be a great stop-gap until Espinosa's ready. Espinosa has a great arm, but isn't making the errors Ian is. Hopefully he can be the SS of the future.

  43. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:20 PM

    Don't get me wrong, I love Dunn, but my biggest concern is his defense. We are fast to talk about the errors the team makes but how many errors this year are on throws to first by our infielders that an average major league first baseman would make. Desmond was charged with an error yesterday that was a bad throw but should have been knocked down by Dunn and wasn't. There have been several errors this year that have been charged to infielders that in my opinion are clearly on Dunn. I love his bat in the lineup but would have much rather seen him moved for future pieces to the puzzle. I was really hoping that a deal would get done with the White Sox that included Beckham. Beckham can and will hit. He won't hit for power, and few second basemen do, but it's about making adjustments and he has to learn that at the major league level.

  44. Slidell - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    Attended the games Friday and Sunday. The game Sunday developed better than I had any reason to expect. Lannan was okay (if a bit lucky) and we were able to get to Hamels a bit. Several late game near-misses and a couple of head-scratching managerial moves ended up leaving me a bit disappointed as to what might have been. Overall, I feel good and somewhat encouraged by the developments and play of the past week. The Nats desperately need to be consistent and not just play to the level of their competition. This road trip will demonstrate whether or not there has been any change in their approach. Re: Captain Morgan— I had the opportunity to observe him and his "crew" up close for several minutes. While not tarring all with the same brush, the general impression left by the Captain and his mates would cause one to legitimately wonder what they were doing at a Major League baseball game.

  45. DCJohn - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:31 PM

    Strasburg changes everything. Someone said that there are only 17 or 18 front line pitchers like him in the game, and we have him and I now expect better things. The Nats should be breathing fire on this road trip, playing one of thw worst teams in the leagues, the D'Backs, and a team on a dead spiral, The Dodgers. I expect a 5-2 road trip. Otherwise it's a disappointment. Start winning away.

  46. greg - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:34 PM

    SteveM, you really think the right approach is to have Nyjer steal ABs from Willingham and play him in LF (where his bat really stands out as being out-of-position)?if the idea is to play him as the 4th OF wherever the days off come, he can play all three, it doesn't have to be LF in place of willingham. but i don't think it's a good idea to sit one of the top 3 hitters on the team with any regularity to get morgan some ABs.

  47. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:34 PM

    Alex Gonzalez has a 2011 club option for $2.5M per Cot's.

  48. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:42 PM

    Nyjer doesn't even make a good defensive replacement with that rag doll arm of his.He definitely doesn't need to be taking AB's from Willingham.

  49. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    Question: how does Bernadina compare with Morgan in the short run? Seems to me that if all things are equal, Bernadina plays CF and the Nats develop and evaluate him. Then Morse plays RF (loss on defense, upgrade on offense), and Morgan becomes the 4th OF (and an upgrade over Willie Harris). If Morgan is better, than you play the hand we have now and mix in Morse occasionally.

  50. Section3OhMyGoodness! - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    Capt. Morgan — clearly, we are going to need pictures here. Are we talking Keira Knightly, here?

  51. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 6:02 PM

    I am very encouraged given that I think our pitching rotation in 2011 may be above average and we potentially solved our catching problem – huge. For the rest of this year IMHO we need to:1) Find out if Maxwell is an MLB player (contrary to what others here think I believe that we don't really have an answer).2) Find out if Morse is an every day player – I don't understand the reluctance to play him for a long stretch to see if he is for real; we can rest Willingham, Dunn, Morgan etc. once a week to ensure there's enough AB's to go around.3)In September we need to have a look at Marrero (He is 22 years old and just about major league ready .295 .354 .453 .807) and Espinosa.Ian Desmond really must improve his offensive numbers (OBP .292 is veru sub standard);and if not Espinosa then we need 2nd base help via FA.As far as Dunn is concerned; I was of the opinion that we had a great opportunity to get good major league ready, young, cheap prospects and save the money they will need to resign to fill other holes but I guess that there is something to be said for continuity and team chemistry; I do feel that we can't lose him to free agency now and gamble on potential draft picks.

  52. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 2, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    The Captain Morgan fiasco was just to make All Those Phillies Skanks feel less offensive about themselves.Anonymous 10:18 said… As far as developing position players is concerned, am I the only one who thinks Chris Marrero is a latter-day Larry Broadway? No, No, No, you are not alone. I've long thought this chump was merely AA fodder. Can't field, really can't hit, and is a one-dimensional WiMP, in my opinion. Even thinking he could fill Dunn's shoes is ludicrous. He will never amount to a major leaguer, and you can quote me.Best move of the week was getting Ramos for Mr. Matt Capps.Worst move of the week was losing Mrs. Matt Capps.And, guys, get over the J-Max thing. He's the 25th man on the fifth-worst team in the league. By now it's obvious to all he's a pinch-runner and a late-inning defensive caddy for Willingham, and nothing more. So he's up-and-down, up-and-down. Nothing there to see. Get over it.

  53. Ernie - Aug 2, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    Captain Morgan was strange on Friday. It seemed like the only people in the stadium interested in having a pirate on the mound were the little kids. I'm not sure we really need to be selling rum to the kids. The girls' outfits didn't bother me, but it still seemed really out of place with the usual kind of thing at the stadium.I'm pretty happy with everything except the continuing presence of Willie Harris and Riggs's desire to swap out players before it's time. At least Dunn made it past the 8th inning yesterday. Seems like every other time we've gone to extra innings he's already been pulled for Kennedy.The return of John "BP" Lannan is not the most promising development, but I've never felt comfortable with him on the mound. The best I can say is that he didn't look any worse than normal.

  54. Michael J. Hayde - Aug 2, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    I'm sick to death of all this talk about 2011 or 2012 or beyond. I look at the standings; at the fact that, among all MLB last place teams, we have the best record (all others are at least 21.5 games out of 1st), and I believe with a little luck and a lot more confidence, we could STILL CONTEND THIS YEAR. There's no single NL East team situated as an impassible juggarnaut. We're one 12- or 14-game winning streak followed by .666 ball the rest of the way toward a playoff berth. It's certainly been done before, and not just by the 1951 Giants.Extend Dunn, send Balestar back to the minors where he belongs, bring up Severino and let's see what he's got, get Maya and Zimmermann into the rotation the very second each is ready to go, and let's get moving!If that's Kool-Aid talking, I'll have another glass, please.

  55. Steve M. - Aug 2, 2010 at 6:30 PM

    Here are my "feel bad stats".If the Nats keep on their current pace W/L % will end up with 71 wins and 91 losses. There have been 55 Unearned runs given up this year by poor defense which is last in the MLB. That is over 1/2 of a free run every game which is the main reason this team isn't above .500Another crazy stat is the Nats are a terrible 1-7 in extra innings games this year. Interleague is almost equally terrible at 5-13. Combine those 2 stats to 6-20 and it is super ugly.When you look at offense and defense stats it is clear where the main troubles are in that the Nats are ahead of the league average in runs scored but last in team defense both in errors and double plays turned.The number one area to turn this team around next year is in the defense up the middle. 45 of the 83 errors come from the middle infield. Pitching is just about league average with a 4.13 ERA but when you think of the poor defense that has to strain the pitchers to throw more pitches.I always thought Rizzo was a stat man and where this team let down is defense, defense, defense.Greg, Willingham falls off at the end of the season slowly each year. He just needs more days off against righties. You react to everything like the point is to replace Willingham. Geeeez……The point is to get Morse more time playing and then move Bernadina to CF. That's what the point was.

  56. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    Steve M., your stats on the middle infield are really telling. Extra outs mean extra pitches. And MLB hitters will punish anyone for that. If (for argument's sake) 2012 is when the Nats really start competing for the top-spot in the division, then between now and then Desmond becomes part of a trade. He is OK for the time being, but not beyond next year.

  57. Stew Magnuson - Aug 2, 2010 at 6:46 PM

    Well Mark, I don't think I need to do much research. I don't think the guy who portrayed Capt. Morgan is a real pirate. But he sure dressed up like one. As for the four young ladies, it was certainly the Captain Morgan company's intentions to dress them up as "women of easy virtue." They were dressed in boudoir clothing in public. I wouldn't bother with it if they were parading around in nightclubs to hawk booze. But a baseball park?In short, it's my observation that a man portraying a pirate and four women portraying skanks were walking around Nationals Stadium Friday night. At least they weren't there on Sunday for "Family Fun" day. I could care less how these five people make a living. It reflects poorly on the Nationals organization, or MLB baseball, or whoever thought it was a swell idea. Also, I don't think I'm hiding. I'm one of the few who sign their full names on this post. In addition, I will continue to post any opinion on the Nationals I care to share inside or outside the lines. And if Zuckerman thinks they are not appropriate, he can delete them.

  58. Mark - Aug 2, 2010 at 7:07 PM

    Stew – you were quick to blame the Lerners for the Captain Morgan promotion which is a MLB city by city tour which lacked research, and labeling the young ladies as SKANKS is disrepectful. This discussion should be about baseball and start a morality thread somewhere else.

  59. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    I feel better because I don't have to hear the Nats Public Address Announcer introduce Guzman as "Guuuuuuuuuuuzman" every single time. Boy that got old.

  60. josh f - Aug 2, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    Went to three games over this past homestand, enjoyed Miguel Batista's "Miss Iowa" performance and the Zim walk-off, and we almost beat Cole Hamels.A few thoughts:1) I think Desmond should bat second more regularly, like Riggleman suggested at one point. Bet that would help his OBP and other stats. He had a few great swings over the weekend.2) Nyjer is indeed returning to form and looks great, IMHO, since the break.3) As much as I agree with the Capps-for-Ramos trade, our bullpen looked pretty bad over the weekend, and our starters haven't been able to go 7 IP regularly. Hope to see Stras, Zimmermann, and Maya in there soon so we can hold late leads better.

  61. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 7:24 PM

    I agree with Stew, I also thought it was very bad taste.

  62. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 7:30 PM

    Hey Mark (the poster, not the real Mark Z.) -Chill out dude. We're all glad you know a hot girl who likes to get paid to wear skimpy outfits in public, but that doesn't change Stew's point. It was out of place at a baseball game.

  63. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 7:40 PM

    Mark is just upset that Ashley Weber had a little Captain in her! D'oh!

  64. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    Michael J. Hayde,Way beyond Kool-aid; I think you need therapy. We are in 4t place 14 games out And behind 4 teams. In the wild card we are 13.5 games out AND behind 9 teams AND we don't have enough talent to play .666 ball AND we are certainly not about to win 12- 14 games in a row.The Brewers think they are never out of it and that's why they constantly field a mediocre team (They just extended Hart for 3 years – geniuses). Hopefully Rizzo has enough vision to understand that it takes a couple of years to build a decent team based on a strong farm system. Don't kid yourself Rizzo started from scratch when he took over from Bowden.There are no quick fixes; even the Yankees and the Red Sox developed MANY of their core players before augmenting with FA,s.

  65. Steve M. - Aug 2, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    I want some of Michael J. Hayde's Kool-Aid!This team down the stretch needs to see if Bernadina can be a lead-off for this team. We know he can play CF. With no Willie Harris next year, Nyjer can take on his spot on the bench. Next they need to see if Michael Morse can be an every day RF. If not, after fixing the middle infield will be corner OF.It is up to Rizzo to let his Manager Mr. Riggleman know that is how the lineup needs to be written for a while.

  66. Stew Magnuson - Aug 2, 2010 at 8:12 PM

    Mark,Well then, in the spirit of the Miguel Batista-Miss Iowa incident, I would like to apologize to your friend, Miss Ashley Weber. I would also like to send her a bouquet of flowers as Miguel did with Miss Iowa. Please post her address and phone here.Well maybe not. My wife might take that the wrong way. I guess I'll just have to publicly appologize.Meanwhile, changing to another outside the lines topic, what's the dang deal with having a bobblehead night when there are 15,000 Phillies fans in town? I thought bobbleheads were supposed to be an incentive to draw fans to the park. Why don't they do that when it's a Wednesday night against the Marlins?

  67. carolync - Aug 2, 2010 at 8:23 PM

    Many thanks to Steve M. for the stats confirming my belief that the black hole that is the middle infield has to be addressed. Desmond is a physically gifted athlete who lacks the mental attributes to be a major league shortstop. Espinosa's hitting stats are about the same as Desmond's but he is a much better fielder with an equally strong arm. If Danny is not considered ready, the Lerner's will have to release some moths to pay for an interim SS. With Desmond gone, Riggleman could go back to the defensive accountability that was one of his strong points last year.I am encouraged about the outfield as we see more of Bernadina and Morse. Don't understand the Maxwell situation though.We're hanging on to our season tickets in anticipation of the day we have a team to be proud of. It was fun beating the Braves and the much-depleted Phils.

  68. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    Dunn does not have to accept arbitration and he won't. By offering it, the Nats get the picks if he signs elsewhere.He just might. He owns the first base position with the Nationals. He is it. That probably would not be the case on another team. Plus, he is the cornerstone of this lineup and has said himself he thinks that because of the young pitching he is seeing this team will be very good very soon. But I don't think it will come to that. They'll hammer out a 3 year deal which should give the Nationals enough time to groom his replacement down in the minors.

  69. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    I just can't be silent anymore about what for me is a huge elephant in the room that no one addresses. IMHO Adam Dunn is killing us. I think he helps us lose more games with his unproductive outs (strikeouts) and his clueless fielding skills on offline or one hop throws than his home runs make up for with wins. I believe a large percentage of Desmond's and Zim's errors would be outs or scored hits if Adam was instinctive with shifting his feet on the bag, turning his glove like an infielder to take hops, knew when to come off the bag, or just blocked the ball with his body, stretch and smother it, anything but let the ball get by into the dugout or cameras and give teams extra bases. Every night you see other first basemen around the league make these plays routinely while I cringe when they give Desi or Zim another error on a ball that should or could be caught by 90% of major league first basemen. Pretty soon, if they have to make a spectacular play, hurry, and throw off balance, they'll just eat the ball rather than throw it with no confidence that it has a good chance of being caught. I think Rizzo's quandry is- keep him and will Adam work hard to get sleeker, more flexible and more skilled for the next few years or will he rest on his stats of HRs, on base %, walks, extra base hits and figure that's where the money is? If it's the latter, the infield will continue to have high error totals, give teams extra outs and we wiil lose lots of games because of it. I am not enemored with the " Come see the huge man hit the ball far" marketing strategy. He's a DH and I want to win.

  70. Steve M. - Aug 2, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    Good Willingham post to drive home the point that Greg doesn't see:http://voices.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2010/08/josh_willinghams_career_year_i.html

  71. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 8:49 PM

    I want to comment on anonymous posting. I like it. I started out with NJ at the Post and got kicked around a few times by a couple of regulars there. I just wanted to talk and learn. That is what I get here. But I haven't gotten to the point where I want to do the name thing because it gets a little personal here at times (among those of you who know each other)and the guys from NJ show up at times. On balance, I appreciate the tone of the conversations here. I get to talk and learn. Not bad. So I like the anonymous posts for the time being for practical reasons. As regards Dunn, I only wonder who takes his place if/once he leaves? I agree with an earlier post that said Fielder is getting in worse shape by the year. And I doubt Gonzalez is going to leave the Padres for the Nats. And Marrero? Nope. Just wonder who fills that hole. Defense for the Nats needs lots of work in lots of places.

  72. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 9:29 PM

    I think anonymous posters should be banned.

  73. rmoore446 - Aug 2, 2010 at 9:44 PM

    Regarding Anonymous@4:30, while there's no doubt a few of those in the dirt or offline throws that a brilliant first baseman would save that get by Dunn, I don't recall many. Dunn makes a very large target at first he's reached a few of those wild ones that better fielding but shorter 1st basemen would miss.Zim has had problems this year with certain of his throws even when he has plenty of time. Desmond has acute defensive shortcomings that he may be able to cure if he can accept coaching. That remains to be seen. With all his seasoning in the minors, I'm not certain why some of the rough edges weren't corrected earlier.

  74. markfd - Aug 2, 2010 at 9:47 PM

    I feel much better after the Phillies series and the Ramos and Maya acquisitions. For 2011, Rizzo still needs to address the RF and 2B situation and probably needs one more arm in the bullpen now that Capps is gone and Storen will likely be the closer for 2011.

  75. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 9:49 PM

    "As regards Dunn, I only wonder who takes his place if/once he leaves? "How about Michael Morse? Everyone seems to think he deserves regular playing time. Why couldn't that be at first base?

  76. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 9:51 PM

    I have to say that from a defensive point of view I am less concerned about ID that other posters; everyone focuses on errors but he gets to many more balls than an average shortstop; you have to take that into account. Offensively though he is quite offensive; he gets a few key hits but when you only get on base 29% of the time you are essentially an out machine; I think he has a nice stroke but someone has to tell him that it's OK to have more than a 2 pitch at bat and that a walk is a good thing.

  77. greg - Aug 2, 2010 at 9:58 PM

    steve m, i *did* say "if the idea is to play him as the 4th OF wherever the days off come, he can play all three, it doesn't have to be LF in place of willingham."my point was more than you singled out willingham for nyjer to get his ABs instead of just making him the 4th OF (which is probably what he should be). you are right that he slumped in the 2nd half last year. before that he was fairly consistent pre/post all-star (2008 being a slight drop from 874 to 801 OPS, 06 and 07 he actually was better in the 2nd half). not sure what the cause is there last year (or this season, so far). but i'm not sure there's enough track record of second half slumps in his career to presume it will happen for the full second half again. even kilgore's stats for the slumps the last few years are just 2-3 week periods (40-50ABs). i'm sure you can find some pretty horrific 40-50 AB slumps for a lot of good players. what's telling about kilgore's numbers are that they're the same general timeframe, late july/early august. could be he's hitting a wall that, other than last year, he broke through.

  78. baloney - Aug 2, 2010 at 10:01 PM

    Feeling better. Appreciated Guzzie's efforts but he was an OBP black hole. If you can trade a non-elite closer for top shelf prospects you do it every time. Love the Maya signing as well. As for next year the crop of SS and 2B FAs is pretty awful (FLop anyone?). If I had to guess it will be Desi, Alberto up the middle. The starting staff should finally be better than serviceable. Rizzo should target a dynamic corner OF. Two names leap to the fore: Jason Werth and Carl Crawford.

  79. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 10:22 PM

    Anonymous: I think anonymous posters should be banned. I bet you do. Lead the way.

  80. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 10:24 PM

    IMHO Adam Dunn is killing us. I think he helps us lose more games with his unproductive outs (strikeouts) and his clueless fielding skills on offline or one hop throws than his home runs make up for with wins. I believe a large percentage of Desmond's and Zim's errors would be outs or scored hits if Adam was instinctive with shifting his feet on the bag, turning his glove like an infielder to take hops, knew when to come off the bag, Yeah that's one perspective and to some extent true. The problem is his heir apparent in the minors is by far the worst fielder of the two. At age 22 his range is far more limited than the 30 year old Dunn. Dunn could actually manage in the outfield for a bit … Chris Marerro could not. The analogy that immediately comes to mind is Frank Howard vs. Jeff Burroughs. You take Howard even at age 33. A Tampa Bay did some calculations as far as how Dunn would affect the Rays were he trade there. He calculated that even with his fielding he was far more valuable to the Rays than what they currently have. Obviously the WAR went even higher when Dunn DH'ed. I have to say this it is likely true for the Nats as well. The real problem is that Desmond continues to make off balance fielding plays and throwing the ball while in mid-air and it typically doesn't go where he wants it to. Perhaps Dunn needs to learn to leave the bag to grab these so they don't add an extra base. But Desmond needs to finally figure out that hey, your big bat is at first base, and he isn't known for his fielding. Its really Desmond's job to adjust just as Zim has had to in order not to make his friend look bad. Zim's throws were quite a bit different when Nick the Stick was over at first …

  81. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 10:27 PM

    Rizzo should target a dynamic corner OF. Two names leap to the fore: Jason Werth and Carl Crawford.Yep, baloney is right. FIRST, if you want to spend that kind of money you re-up Dunn. THEN you go out and somehow, someway, whatever it takes sign Cliff Lee. Immediate and dramatic improvement will occur.

  82. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    How about Michael Morse? Everyone seems to think he deserves regular playing time. Why couldn't that be at first base?If they had traded Willingham, Morse should be considered a good replacement. Morse vs. Marerro? Yeah you take Morse that's for certain.

  83. carolync - Aug 2, 2010 at 10:35 PM

    I have to admit I'm more than concerned about ID-he's driving me crazy. Just for the record , his range stats (his selling point) have plummeted to below average during the season. At the start, he was tied for 4th in MLB with Ronny Cedeno of the Pirates. As of today, his UZR and UZR/150 on Fangraphs were 18th out of 22 rated shortstops. I imagine FLOP has better stats and besides he can pitch. (Just kidding)

  84. Anonymous - Aug 2, 2010 at 10:47 PM

    Question: if all things are (financially speaking) equal, who does Cliff Lee sign with, the Yankees/similar contenders or the Nats? The Yankees. How much do the Nats have to pay above market to sign Lee?

  85. Michael J. Hayde - Aug 2, 2010 at 11:24 PM

    "Way beyond Kool-aid; I think you need therapy."Anon 3:50 PM: LOL. Actually, I had therapy: I was at Saturday night's game. Section 225, right behind a young couple; he in a Nats grey road jersey, she in a red Nyjer Morgan T-shirt. We out-shouted the plethora of Phils Phans surrounding us, high-fived and fist-bumped for every Nats base hit or Phils strike-out. There was mutual consolation when it looked like all was lost at the top of the ninth and spontaneous hugs at Zim's walk-off. Yessir, that was true group therapy.We just took two out of three from the 1st and 2nd place NL East teams. You think we can't continue that pace for another two months, mixed with mowing down the lesser western division teams we're now facing? I think we can. The question is whether the Nats really think they can.Like another worst-to-first NL East team's fanbase once said: Ya Gotta Believe.

  86. Richard - Aug 3, 2010 at 12:43 AM

    To those who say "Dunn is killing us", how about some numbers. Total bases? 210, which leads the league. HR and RBI? 25 and 66, which leads the team. 100 RBI years? 6 out of the last 7 and he's on a pace for 100 this year. Okay, RISP is .198 and needs to be better as Dunn is well aware. But "killing us"? It's just more hot air, which is okay here but some statistics to back up the arguments would be more enlightening.

  87. DougK - Aug 3, 2010 at 1:17 AM

    It feels mean to say this, but when thinking about the contributions that Guzman made to this team, let's not forget: He is the reason that we don't have a Silver Slugging, Gold Glove shortstop. Bowden could've put Zimmerman at SS or 3B but stuck him at 3B because of Guzman. As valuable as Zim is at 3B, imagine his bat at SS. Imagine being able to put Desmond at 2B and find a slugger to play 3B.

  88. Anonymous - Aug 3, 2010 at 2:35 AM

    Michael J. Hayde, God bless you; of course the Nats can go 42 – 15; that's .736 baseball. The Yankees are playing .635 baseball bu8t they don't have Craig Stammen and Wil Nieves.

  89. Anonymous - Aug 3, 2010 at 3:34 AM

    I would say I'm definitely encouraged. In Ramos, they acquired a promising young catcher, a position, where they really need to get someone. Rizzo was very prudent in making his trades. He didn't need to trade Dunn & Willingham, didn't get what he thought was good value, so he didn't trade them. Of course, I would feel better if Dunn was signed to an extension. I also will feel better once Harper and the other high draft picks hopefully get signed.I see a lot of discussion about the pitching staff & I'm surprised not to see more discussion of Detwiler. I see a potential staff of 1) Strasburg, 2)Zimmermann, 3) Detwiler, 4)Maya & 5)Olsen, Stammen, Hernandez, Lannan, Marquis, or Wang. I listed the #5's in the likelihood I see of them winning the position. Of course, if Hernandez continues strong over the last 2 months, I would think that he would have to be in the rotation. Additionally, 2-4 all have great potential, but still have a lot to prove, so a lot can change.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 80 15.5
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Monday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 67 2.5
y-ST. LOUIS 88 69 4.0
-------------------------
PITTSBURGH 85 71 +0.5
SAN FRANCISCO 84 71 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Monday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
(End of regular season)
MON: OFF
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

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TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
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