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Sloppy play, strong words

Apr 3, 2011, 10:27 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Danny Espinosa had a rough day in the field, but he wasn’t alone.

The Nationals have lost plenty of games like this over the years, lopsided defeats that really turn ugly late and leave fans either booing or streaming for the exits. It would be easy to look at today’s 11-2 thrashing at the hands of the Braves, shake your head and mutter: “Same old Nats.”

There was, however, one aspect of this beatdown that bore very little resemblance to the beatdowns the Nationals have taken in previous years. They didn’t have to wait for someone to speak up and tell them this performance was unacceptable.

“That’s the good thing about this club: Nobody has to,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “We all know. In years past, I think that might not have been the case. But I think this year we realize we can’t do that in any game in this division, or you’re gonna get your ass beat.”

That’s not the kind of quote Nationals fans are accustomed to hearing come out of Zimmerman’s mouth. The face of the franchise has always talked about being a clubhouse leader, but his criticism has usually been muted.

Perhaps after six years of losing, Zimmerman has simply had enough. Perhaps he doesn’t want his new teammates — professionals like Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Rick Ankiel and others who have played on winning clubs — to think this kind of sloppy performance gets shrugged off in D.C.

Read my full analysis on CSNwashington.com.

  1. bdrube - Apr 3, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    I was at the stadium today–what a debacle. The most infuriating part was the bullpen blowing up because it was so predictable. Broderick is a soft-tosser who has never pitched above AA. He was virtually GUARANTEED to get lit up since there is no way we can hide him in the bullpen all season when we need every quality arm we can get out there to stop the bleeding on days like this. And as for Gaudin, he was just throwing batting practice the past two days. Epic FAIL.Paging, Cee Bally-star. Sorry we stupidly blew the last option on that power arm of yours. We realize Syracuse's season hasn't started yet but we REALLY need you back here. Pronto.

  2. Ernie - Apr 3, 2011 at 10:59 PM

    I swear I've read the bits about "strong words" being thrown around the clubhouse before. It's supposed to convince us that this time it's different. It's not different until the results on the field change.It's too early to call for anyone to be sent down, though I'm sure there will be plenty of comments demanding just that. The season is only 3 days old and we don't really know what we've got, after all. A few of the Hanrahans in the bullpen might need to be put on notice that there are some others waiting in the wings who deserved spots up here though. The one question I want to figure out is what's going on with Desmond. Is he being pitched differently? I've been at all three games so far and sit too high to see where the pitches are coming in to him. Is he pressing too much now that he's hitting leadoff? Is this just an issue of luck and averages? He never struck me as a leadoff-type. and I'm not sure I've really seen why he's hitting there instead of Espinosa. I know we need a leadoff hitter, but why was Desmond the one selected for that role?

  3. bdrube - Apr 3, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    @Ernie – It's too early to call for anyone to be sent downWe've had a lot of bad relievers over the years, but I've never seen one who looked as completely overmatched as Broderick did today. It was yet another awful embarrassment for a team that has had all too many of them. If he is still on the active roster to start the Florida series on Tuesday it will yet another indicator that this team is not serious about winning.

  4. Ernie - Apr 3, 2011 at 11:20 PM

    @bdrubeA bad outing on the kid's first day in the majors shouldn't be the only opportunity he gets. I remember Clippard and Storen having games like that last year as well, and they recovered. We'll see over the next few weeks what he's made of. If he turns into another Brian Bruney, I'll be right there with you, believe me.

  5. dj in Fl. - Apr 3, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    bdrube-Broderick is the last worry I have after that game. Yes he should be in the minors still, but St. Louis would reclaim him and he will be worth the roster spot down the road. A few others really seem to be unable to complete the task they are here to do. Hopefully some warm Fl. weather will get them back on track.

  6. JaneB - Apr 3, 2011 at 11:28 PM

    bdrube…we saw Broderick on the mound at least 4 times in Florida this spring, and this kid was just spectacular. Really terrific. Confident, fast, owned the strike zone. I truly think it was nerves. Haven't seen Coffey be the guy I heard we hired…his spring wasn't great, at least when I was there. We should have kept Miss Iowa, we really should have.

  7. bdrube - Apr 3, 2011 at 11:30 PM

    @dj in Fl -Not to argue that Broderick might not someday be a fine pitcher–that someday is just not today or anytime soon. We need quality Major League ready arms in our bullpen or we are going to get our heads beat in much of this year. And I don't think we did the kid any favors by keeping him on the roster and putting him out there long before he's ready.

  8. bdrube - Apr 3, 2011 at 11:36 PM

    @JaneB Broderick did look good for much of the Spring. Doesn't matter. We have to keep him on the active roster all season (or effect a trade) in order to keep him. He's not ready and we cannot afford to reserve a bullpen spot for him all year. Better to admit the mistake now and cut our losses.

  9. Peter - Apr 3, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    Same old Nats

  10. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Apr 3, 2011 at 11:52 PM

    JaneB for GM

  11. Anonymous - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:10 AM

    Colin Balestar's option hasn't been used yet. It doesn't get used until 20 into the AAA schedule.

  12. Doc - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:50 AM

    @ Anonymous: 8:10 Thanks for the info. It may more valuable to the club to have BallyStar or Kimball here, than to keep up the pretense with Coffey, Broderick, & Gaudin.

  13. Anonymous - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:53 AM

    That's 20 days into the AAA schedule. I forgot the days in my previous post.

  14. Anonymous - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    There's no way Broderick should be released! He's the last pitcher in the bullpen. That's how he has to be used and the results might not be good, when he comes in.But that would likely be the case, regardless. The last pitcher in the bullpen is NEVER particularly good. In his case, he's just really inexperienced but that looks like not very good. Same thing.Gaudin and Coffey are the problems because they're expected to used more often and they're flat out awful. We should have kept Joel Peralta.

  15. bdrube - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:28 AM

    @Anon regarding the 20 days – That's great to hear. It means this awful mistake can be corrected. If they really feel Broderick has potential, let them make a trade with the Cardinals to keep him. Cripes sake, they'll be lucky if they haven't completely destroyed his confidence already.

  16. Anonymous - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:31 AM

    The Nats are getting close the Redskins' pattern: big talk in the off-season and pre-season games, then nothing on the field.I think if they really wanted to win, NOW, they would start Ramos 2 games of a 3-game series. I hate to say it, but Pudge's bat has become a major liability. Ramos would've probably done better than Pudge today, especially in the first 5 innings, when the game was close.It's hard for me to be miserable at the ballpark. I mean, it's baseball and it's springtime. But still, today sucked out there.

  17. Anonymous - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:52 AM

    I'll start taking this team seriously when they start putting winning over not hurting the pride of some of their vets. If any other catcher had Pugh's stats over the past year they would have either been cut or certainly moved to backup. The fact the Ramos is not in there 5 or 6 days a week is insane.

  18. Tim - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:54 AM

    AA guy getting lit up in the first appearance after his defense lets him down? Understandable. The fact that neither Slaten, Coffey, or Gaudin has been effective is the real problem.

  19. sjm308 - Apr 4, 2011 at 4:07 AM

    Here is the bright side to this. If Anon is right and Ballester's option has not been utilized, Gaudin has pitched so poorly that he could probably get through waivers now with no one claiming him. Send him down and bring up Bally ASAP. I realize its early and Gaudin is not the only culprite but he is the least costly of the options we have. I don't want to lose Broderick and Coffey will be OK but Ballester was lights out this spring and needs to be rewarded for that.No panic here but today's game was no fun to watch.Go Nats!!

  20. A DC Wonk - Apr 4, 2011 at 4:30 AM

    "If any other catcher had Pugh's stats over the past year they would have either been cut or certainly moved to backup."Huh? He batted .266 last year, you don't cut a Hall of Famer based on that — even more so when your only other replacements are Ramos (who had a lifetime total of big league 82 plate appearances) and Flores, who's been injured for two years.As for whether he is or will be a backup or not, it's awfully early in the season to know how that will play out.

  21. Grandstander - Apr 4, 2011 at 4:39 AM

    I think the simple fact Ramos started Game 2 when Pudge clearly didn't need the day off tells you how they're going to be used. I also think there's no question they want to trade Pudge by the deadline to get something out of what little value he has, to us anyway. I think it'll start as a 50/50 time share until the trade deadline and then work into Pudge backing up Ramos if there's no takers.If he's going to be traded, he needs to be showcased, and I don't think conclusions will be drawn on a guaranteed Hall of Famer after a 3 game series.

  22. JayB - Apr 4, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    I agree that we have heard all this crap from Zimm before…..time will tell if I am right and this year is different. I expect them to go to FLA and win that series. If they go down and lay even one egg in FLA then I think Rizzo must respond with a message. That message should be a roster move or two.Sunday's game was very familiar and I still think Riggs is to blame for not raising the expectations higher…..Look to O's to see what a real MLB manager looks like…..That move needs to be made by June in my view.

  23. Another_Sam - Apr 4, 2011 at 9:47 AM

    JayB is correct – two of these three games were just like last year.

  24. Jeeves - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    Defense is not a problem. None of us would say that Espinosa is a poor defensive player. Ditto for Werth who has missed three possible outs in the last two days. (granted they were difficult or sun related, but still…) The fact is they are two of the best at their position, but had a bad day. I don't think offense will be a problem. And I don't think the bull pen should be a problem–if they use their best players. Coffey and Gaudin do not fit that description. Neither does Broderick, but his circumstances are different.There are a lot of reasonable posts here, and most of us are saying variations of the same thing. Now, if only the powers that be would catch on.

  25. Big Cat - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    Broderick and Gaudin need to go. I couldn't understand who was making the decisions this spring. Clearly Kimball earned a spot, as well as Balester. These guys are power guys that need to be up here. Oh yeah, and the jury still out on tubby….Coffey I mean

  26. Anonymous - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    Why did Riggs keep the infield back with no outs and a man on 3rd in a 1-1 game. Number 8 hitter hits a ground ball, guy trots home, now its 2-1 and with Hudson on the mound, its "game over man…game over"

  27. Doc - Apr 4, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    The two best BP guys in ST were banished to the boonies, and the GM and manager expect to win, with some BS about the 'numbers game'! Rizzo is being too greedy with Rule 5, and too arrogant with his Gaudin and Coffey signings. Get a grip Mike and Jimmy. It's a competition, and you only win with your best against their best. That can't be done when some of your best is in Syracuse

  28. Anonymous - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    I told you the "kinder, gentler" Opening Day JayB wouldn't last, that he would go right back to being his old hater self. You guys mocked me for that, but right on schedule here he is. Where's your imaginary friend ABM, JayB?

  29. masnstinks - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    JB,Sam – I would argue that only ONE of these games was just like last year. I was at Thursday's game – yes, we lost, but the team did NOT look like last year. I know everyone is ready to jump off a building, but we have played three games against a team that some think we win the division – we played well in 2 games, won 1 of them and lost our composure in one. Well, the bullpen did at least. Against really good hitters. Take a breath – the season is just getting started. I have seen some glimpses of good things.

  30. masnstinks - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    sorry – should have edited – some think WILL win the division

  31. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    I love that people are saying we should have kept Batista. At this time last year everyone was screaming at Rizzo for letting him make the ballclub. I can't honestly ever remember seeing positive words said about Batista last season. While yes, he is a serviceable releiver, there is very little difference between him and Gaudin. Broderick looked over matched yesterday obviously but to scream about cutting him after 1 outing is ridiculous. JZimm has had bad outings in the past and I didn't see anybody demanding for him to be removed from the roster. Same goes for Burnett and Clippard. Let the kid pitch again and if he looks shakey again, work out a trade with teh Cards and send him down, or cut him loose.Everybody take a step back from the edge please. Its 3 games and we played well in 2 of them.

  32. Harper_ROY_2012 - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    Yikes, we might have set a new standard for bad basball yesterday! I am not talking bad Nats baseball bad but I am talking Bad News Bears bad baseball. My observations from attending all three games in this young 2011 season are as follows:Zim is being Zim status quo so that is goodDesmond looks like a minor leaguer at the plate and in the field, maybe he is the second coming of Bobby Meacham not Derek Jeter!Espinosa may have had one bad day in the field but his hit late yesterday gives me some hope that he will continue in themajors for years to come.LaRoche…wow this guy is sweet with the glove, it is nice to have a 1st baseman, he even makes Nick Johnson look only adequate and that is hard to do.Pudge unfortunately looks like the Pudge we saw post All-Star Game in 2010, weak grounders but on the positive side I like what I have seen from Ramos thus far.Bullpen – With the exception of Sen Burnett these guys are looking like chumps.Starters – They continue to get very little support and not allowed to pitch deep into games, which exposes our weak underbelly, the bullpen!Morse is who we thought he was, a guy who is decent coming off the bench, he put on a great show in ST but so far he is not living up to even the standard he set in 2010, nevermind what is hoped fror him in 2011 30 HR 100 RBI.Ankiel, probably the best athlete on the team, unfortunately he is not the best ballplayer on the team but much better than Nyjer!Werth, love to watch him at the plate but UGH! who knew he was such a horrible fielder, I have not seen so many singles become extta base hit since my beer league softball days when there is a girl playing right field and a lefty pull hitter is up!while the season is early, I have lowered my expectations this season from 75 wins to maybe 69 wins, hopefully that will change but so far…no joy in Mudville!

  33. P Angelos - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Sorry your high hopes are pretty much dashed. Come up the B-W Parkway and see a real team play, my O's.

  34. Steve M. - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    So far I am seeing what I expected. Good starting pitching, good defense (mostly), plate discipline, and a lousy bullpen based upon who they placed in there. I am not discouraged at all because it is early and the problems will surface quickly and Rizzo needs to move quickly as he has able guys in AAA to replace unable guys in MLB.When you give jobs to guys who didn't earn their spot, this is what you get. Storen got the job done yesterday but didn't earn his way here. Broderick did earn a spot but turned in a performance worthy of a real Rolaids moment and needs to be on a short leash.Coffey was given a spot and didn't earn it either. Gaudin is better than what he gave and needs to be watched. So what do we have here? Just a bad day in the bullpen or something to be concerned about? I said a few weeks ago that I thought there were going to be some Bruney types in this current bullpen that would need to be weeded out.Ballester earned a spot and I said it before that Ross Detwiler earned a spot somewhere on this team so there is 2 able guys ready to jump in if they are needed and probably highly motivated and pissed off at not having a spot. Those are the type of guys you need.This team needs stoppers as was pointed out over the weekend.

  35. TimDz - Apr 4, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    From the looks of some these comments, you'd think that the Nats were 1-20 and not 1-2…The Bullpen imploded on Sunday. Lets not assume this will be the norm based on one event.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 76 57 --
ATLANTA 71 64 6.0
MIAMI 65 68 11.0
NEW YORK 63 72 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 61 73 15.5
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Nats at Mariners, 9:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Mariners, 4:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 4:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
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