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Tuesday night leftovers

Apr 13, 2011, 2:58 PM EDT

Photo by Bob Youngentob / CSNwashington.com
Livan Hernandez authored another quality start and dropped a squeeze bunt.

Jayson Werth got the lion's share of the attention last night, and deservedly so. He put together a fantastic performance in his first game against the Phillies, and more importantly led the Nationals to a 7-4 victory.

There was, however, plenty else going on at Nationals Park during that game. So let's rehash some of the developments that got overlooked…

LIVAN HERNANDEZ'S LATEST GEM
All those offseason fears of Hernandez suffering a major regression in the wake of last year's stellar comeback performance? Yeah, it hasn't happened.

OK, it's only three starts, but Livo sure has looked a lot like the guy who led the rotation in wins and innings last season. He's now 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA, allowing only 8.5 hits per nine innings (his lowest rate since 2004) while issuing only 2.5 walks per nine innings (his lowest rate since 2008).

And, yes, I know those numbers are likely to go up over time. But for now, how can anyone complain about the big right-hander?

Hernandez was especially adept last night at hitting the outside corner of the strike zone, not to mention mixing up his mid-80s fastball,Read more »

  1. N. Cognito - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    It is time for a change.Move Espinosa to short and to the leadoff spot and bring in "Alex Hairston" to play 2nd. If Desmond has any options left, send him to Syracuse with explicit instructions on how he can get back to D.C.Another option is to bat Desmond 2nd so we can see if he can break the record for most GIDPs in a season.

  2. Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    Hitting a pitched ball may indeed be the hardest thing to do in sports, but how hard is it to *not* swing?

  3. Doc - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    Last year in the 2nd half, Desmond was making strides in going to the opposite field, as well as working the count. He needs to return to that format.You are correct Mark, it's time to put Espinosa's OBP to work in the leadoff position. The guy is collecting walks like they are going out of style!As for Livo, what more can you say? A home town hero and legend. He's probably one of the better athletes in MLB, in spite of his junky arsenal of trick pitches. He also appears to have a take on life that goes beyond the celebrity of maga-bucks' diamond stars.Livo will always be one of my favorite ball players

  4. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    So does this make Desmond the new "whipping boy"?I just think he's being asked to do something he's not suited to do. And both he and Morse need to think right center on every at bat until they get out of their funk.

  5. Ernie - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    I agree Desmond's probably not best for leadoff. Over the winter I was wondering how much of Rizzo's hype about him was to talk him up for a potential trade. It still think there's something going on there, but I'm sure the organization would love to see the kid figure it out.Anyway, all this Desmond talk made me go look at some numbers for him and the team so far (which I hope are correctly updated):For Desmond: 9 hits, 3 2Bs, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 walks, .209 BA, .227 OBPFor Werth: 9 hits, 4 2Bs, 2 HRs, 2 RBI, 8 walks, .237 BA, .370 OBPThe only significant difference I see there is in the number of walks. If the kid could take a walk he'd almost be the statistical equivalent of Werth.Do I believe Desmond + walks = Werth? No. What do I believe? That the numbers don't mean much of anything at this point in the year. One or two stats here or there make unreal differences. I think if you are going to make changes in the lineup this early in the season you need to do it for reasons other than numbers. Switch him because his approach at the plate isn't right, or because he's making bad decisions, or some other valid reason. Not because his batting average is low. All that said, my completely ignorant opinion is that we need to move him out of the leadoff spot.

  6. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    forget his pathetic hitting. How about his mediocre fielding?

  7. Sec314 - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    I'm with N. Cognito. Espinosa can match Desmond's range at SS. And that's the only thing Desmond has going for him.

  8. FOTB - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Off topic a bit, last night's win was great, but not exactly a thing of beauty. How about a new phrase. Let's call what happened last night a Surly W, instead of a Curly W.

  9. bdrube - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    What is with all of the Desmond bashing? Okay, so he's not a leadoff hitter and he is in a slump. Drop him in the batting order already. And while you're at it, at least give him credit for having thus far committed only one error in ten games.Sheesh.

  10. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    Thank you, bdrube.

  11. fpcsteve - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    It seems to me now is the time to tinker with the lineup and individual roles (as opposed to serial adjustments all season long). I like the idea of Espinosa leading off for the reason NatsJack articulated in another post–he is a switch hitter. It's all about putting players in positions where they are most likely to succeed. On a slightly related note, Where did Ramos bat last night? If it wasn't the fifth spot, I wonder if that might not be a good place for a bat like his? Just a thought…

  12. K.D. - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    Desmond has a good personality for the leadoff position, but he is an aggressive hitter and he seems unable to find the balance of when to take pitches and when to hit them. When he figures it out he should be fine at it. Espinosa is more relaxed hitting down in the order, but I think if he keeps strikeouts down he will be a perfect No. 2 hitter.

  13. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    I second that bdrube

  14. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    As currenly constructed, the lineup will consist of Werth 3, LaRoche 4, Morse/Ramos 5/6, however Riggs wants to bat them. I have no problem either way.And I believe Ramos batted 5th sometime over the past week.

  15. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    I believe Ramos has hit 5th twice now this season, once was last night.

  16. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    Ramos batted 5th last Thursday against the Fish (another win, I might ad).

  17. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 13, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    I believe he hit 5th the game Laroche set out on Saturday too.

  18. Steve M. - Apr 13, 2011 at 4:08 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… So does this make Desmond the new "whipping boy"?I just think he's being asked to do something he's not suited to do. April 13, 2011 11:20 AM I agree and don't like the piling on Desmond. His decision to eat the ball during that possible Double Play last night where Espinosa gave him a lousy throw at 2nd showed some maturation in Desmond. He ate the ball and didn't throw it away. He is learning on the job(OJT). Sure, he had that bad lollipop throw earlier but still like his progress.On a different subject, I like that Riggleman realized that when he had the lead last night it was a "must" win. The fact he left Coffey and Broderick and Slaten out, and turned to his 2 horses in Clippard and Burnett showed that he wanted to seal it away. After Storen's meltdown in Philly last year, I am not sure he wanted a repeat. A real good win.Tonight poses a different problem as Clippard and Burnett might need the night off. If Lannan can match zeroes with Halladay, it could get real interesting and hoping Gaudin and Storen can step up if called upon.

  19. Steve M. - Apr 13, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    Glad Wilson Ramos is getting some well deserved recognition. Keep him 5th or lower where he doesn't feel the pressure but like how he came through twice last night with runner's in scoring position!

  20. Bowdenball - Apr 13, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    Anyone who thinks the answer to any question is regular time for Hairston and Cora in the middle infield isn't watching the same two light-hitting error-prone old men I've been watching this season.Desmond will be fine. And more importantly, he is a part of the Nats future, and Hairston and Cora are not. Move him down in the order and let him work out his problems with the big league club while getting more experience playing big league defense.

  21. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 13, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    I read an interesting article on CSN Philly today. Had this interesting excerpt about Werth and Morgan in spring training."“You have to change the culture of an organization that hasn’t won,” Werth explained. “When I came to Philly in ’07, when you played the Mets (in Philadelphia) it was like 50-50 with Mets fans and Phillies fans. And over the course of four years there, there’s no more Mets fans. It’s going to take 25 guys going in the same direction.”Apparently, Werth has been integral in that regard, too. During spring training there was an incident where combustible outfielder Nyjer Morgan decided he didn’t want to run wind sprints with the team following a Grapefruit League game. After Werth told Morgan to finish his work, a verbal altercation broke out and two days later, Morgan was traded to Milwaukee for minor leaguer Cutter Dykstra."First I've seen of this incident, shocking it came from a Philly writer. Not sure if its true or not though. Link to the article is below.http://www.csnphilly.com/04/12/11/New-uniform-but-plenty-still-the-same-fo/news_phillies.html?blockID=502772&feedID=693

  22. JamesFan - Apr 13, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Amazing Nats fans. We've won 3 in a row and you're throwing Desmond under the bus. Two days ago it was Riggleman. Before that it was Pudge. Tomorrow it will be Livo or Ramos. These blogs aren't serious and I certainly hope the players are smart enough not to read them.

  23. Ernie - Apr 13, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    Throwing who under the what-now? I've only seen 2 comments on here calling for Desmond to be removed from the team. I think everyone else has been pretty much in agreement that he might be better off batting somewhere else in the order. He's looking a lot better in the field and I don't sense any real fan uprising to get rid of him. Seems like a pretty sedate conversation to me.

  24. Steve M. - Apr 13, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    Peyton Dowdy said… Apparently, Werth has been integral in that regard, too. During spring training there was an incident where combustible outfielder Nyjer Morgan decided he didn’t want to run wind sprints with the team following a Grapefruit League game. After Werth told Morgan to finish his work, a verbal altercation broke out and two days later, Morgan was traded to Milwaukee for minor leaguer Cutter Dykstra."Now that is a juicy nugget. Wow! The Philly, NY, and Boston press always seem to get the stories and sometimes have no problem crossing the line as they have done with ARod in NY and David Ortiz or ManRam in Boston.I know part of it is the circle of protection from the Nats own PR guys that won't let Mark and others get to the real story so for now we have to rely on the Philly press to get to the bottom of things.

  25. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    Move Espinosa to #2 where he belongs. As a better version of switch hitter and pathetic excuse for a shortstop Cristian Guzman. Espinosa walks, Espinosa hits for good power. Espinosa has better speed and appears to run the bases better. Espinosa belongs batting second not first. Look at Ankiel's OBP? Look at his body of work after the fluke year he had when he hit 25 homers? This guy is a bench player nothing more, nothing less or AAAA. And Werth should be batting third. Desmond is a work in progress … he is young in his second year might as well ride it out for a while and see how he does. Let him lose the job. They aren't going anywhere people … 70 wins will be an achievement for this team.

  26. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    During spring training there was an incident where combustible outfielder Nyjer Morgan decided he didn’t want to run wind sprints … That's been out for a few days now and I saw it first in Ladson's write up or some other MLB.com commentator's. Morgan purportedly claims its why he is no longer with the Nationals.

  27. carolync - Apr 13, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    Desmond is a very streaky hitter. We all better hope he's "on" tonight no matter where he bats. We'll need it. Halladay can be had.Go Nats!

  28. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 13, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    Anon, you are correct. I just read the Ladson article that had that in there. Missed it the first time I read it.

  29. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    Two days ago it was Riggleman. Before that it was Pudge.Last part first @JamesFan, its been a very large, and vocal segment of the Nats brain trust that have been talking about starting Ramos over Pudge. From the first day of the season!!! In ST before we really had a chance to see the players? They felt that Ramos was the superior player in all areas except for experience. They were throwing Pudge under the bus well before any fan. Okay?As for Riggleman he's like Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, Pinky and the Brain. Is he Dr. Jekyll, Pinky? The dopey but nice guy who defers to veterans and their feelings …. respects the game over putting curly w's in the win column? OR IS he the bad ass Mr. Hyde, machinating like the Brain for ways to eke out every last curly W he can out of his players? Putting them in the best positions to perform?Here's a clue: it sure seems like Mr. Jayson Werth is having an effect on him on that top step of the dugout. He's been behaving like Mr. Hyde and the Brain of late. Will he revert? Only time will tell.

  30. Carl in 309 - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    So we're a little nervous about Desmond and his productivity. Given that he is still earning the fan's respect and confidence in him as a core player, that's not surprising (though there's enough "throwing under the bus" going on in D.C. at the moment without adding Desmond to the casualty list). Ten games is nowhere near enough time to judge a "regular" starter, though the early evidence is strong in suggesting that he is not ideal for the role of lead-off batter. Whether the personality that that role requires will also show up Espinosa remains to be seen (risking that at this stage of the season would satisfy me).My assumption is that Desmond is already pressing–wanting to take advantage of a pitcher's early effort to get ahead, and pulling the ball instead of potentially going to right field. A move down in the line-up–at least to 2nd, and perhaps further–would seem a worthy experiment. Mind you, I'm as informed as one might expect from a guy sitting in the upper deck!Still, my overall sense is that this team is in a good place–we're at .500; our starting pitching looks way better than we feared; our offense shows signs of being dangerous; we're getting production from down the line-up and off the bench; and at least a couple guys in the bullpen look like they want the ball. Oh, and Riggleman says he wants to get to a point where he can cut down on double-switches (which should appeal to some of us!).

  31. Stranded_in_Philly - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    Espinosa (SS), Desmond (2B), Werth, Laroche, Ramos/Morse, Ankiel, Pudge/Morse, Cora/Hairston, PThere. That wasn't so hard

  32. Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    "Let's call what happened last night a Surly W, instead of a Curly W."SurlyW was maybe the best handle of all time on the other blog.

  33. N. Cognito - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    I'm not intending to pile on Desmond or throw him under the bus. If you were to go back through my posts I'm not one to constantly pick on players.His approach at the plate is terrible. It was terrible last year. Overly aggressive and trying to pull everything is a recipe for disaster. He's a poor man's Jeff Francoeur playing shortstop.Maybe he'll turn it around – I certainly hope so. But I don't see any evidence that he will. If he was a GREAT shortstop, something he will never be, and batted 7th or 8th, it could work.

  34. erocks33 - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    Let's not anoint Espinosa the leadoff savior yet. Sure he's garnered some walks, but don't you think that this may be because of who is batting after him? If you were the opposing pitcher, wouldn't you prefer to pitch around Espinosa and face the likes of Pudge (DP-machine), Cora or Hairston?Espinosa hasn't been know in the past to have great plate discipline. Maybe he has learned to be more patient, but also maybe he's just benefiting from the non-threatening Nats hitting after him.Just a thought …

  35. Big Cat - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:18 PM

    Ahhhh, more good stuff on my man Nyjer. Refusing to run wind sprints and Werth got on him. A smaller version of Dukes. Gosh I am glad he is gone. Bets on how long he lasts with the Brewers? I'll bet they release him over the winter

  36. Tim - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    Not convinced that Espinosa, is the answer at lead off at this point. I think Desi needs to adjsut his approach. But if you put him in that position to hit in a new spot and then don't give him time to adjust his approah then what was the point of putting him there to begin with? Here's hoping he will get it in the later half of April and Beginning May. The problem so far has not been nobody getting on base to drive in. The problem so far has been not hitting with RISP.

  37. natsfan1a - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Surly W was a good one. Also BobLHead. sec3mysofa is a pretty daggone good one, too.

  38. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    Big Cat, I'm not a fan of Morgan but calling him a smaller Dukes is a bit out of line don't you think? Morgan's issues were on the field. Off the field he hasn't physically harmed anybody or threatened their lives. Not a fair comparison at all.

  39. A DC Wonk - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    Another bonus from last night. We all knew the Clippard and Burnet were due for letting in some hits and runs. How convenient for us that it happened with a 6-1 lead!

  40. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    The only negative similarity in Dukes and Morgan is (was) a false sense of entitlement as a Major League ball player.Beyond that, two entirely different people.

  41. JD - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    I think N.Cognito has it right.Since we are not in position to take Desmond out of the lineup the 1st move should be to remove him from a place in the lineup in front of the run producers and into the 7th slot. I; like several others am not completely sold on Espinosa as the lead off guy but I'm pretty sure he will be better than Desmond and our options in that regard aren't great so I would pull the trigger on the lineup swap which was contemplated last week and try it out for 10 – 15 games; what's the down side?

  42. Mark'd - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    To Peyton, who reads Ladson? LOL

  43. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    I still like anonymous and anonymii and anonymonopolis.

  44. Mark'd - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:42 PM

    On Desmond, the kid is on an 80 RBI pace. A good hitter as he has shown in the 2 hole and better than average in RISP situations.

  45. NatinBeantown - Apr 13, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    Off-topic, but in reading the thoughtful post on FJB linked on the left, I followed his link to the Fangraphs WPA leaderboard. Look at the top 5 pitchers, it's the full Nats diaspora!1) Tyler Clippard (1.15)2) Huston Street (1.13)3) Matt Capps (0.93)4) Joel Hanrahan (0.76)5) Joe Nathan…and then down at #9, old friend Aaron Crow

  46. Steve M. - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    Joel Hanrahan has finally put it all together. What ever he is doing this year is working. That slider is biting hard and he can work in his + fastball with movement.Happy for Joel as he is a good guy and now making some serious MLB money as this year was his 1st arb year. Free agent after the 2013 season at 32 years of age. As for Aaron Crow, the Royals made a tough decision this Spring that he wasn't a starter and stuck him in the bullpen and he is being productive for them. He is a very expensive relief pitcher and they are still hoping he can be a starter one day.That is the same decision I had hoped the Nats would make with Detwiler to use him now where he can help the team in the bullpen and you can still convert him to a starter. Shutdown LH relief pitchers are rare.

  47. JohninMPLS - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:23 PM

    Every win is a Surly W for me, because I finish off every win with a can of Furious:http://www.surlybrewing.com/

  48. Carl in 309 - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    Seeing as we're looking at some former Nats, I was trolling the MLB video clips this morning (to see replays of some of the Nats highlights mostly) and while letting the site run through some recent dingers from around the league, there was Ryan Langerhans (whom we traded to the Mariners for Michael Morse). He momentarily seems to have found the home run stroke–while only hitting .200, he's got 3 homers so far. Will see the Mariners at the end of next month–wonder if he'll still be with them?

  49. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    Not only that, our freind Lastings Milledge cleared waivers for the White Sox so they get to keep him as the bonafide minor leaguer that he is.And it was horrific outfield play that finally convinced the Sox.

  50. SonnyG10 - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    IMO our true lead-off hitter is not currently on the team. We're just going to have to do the best we can until that happens.I like Desmond at SS and I do believe he has a great chance to be a great one.

  51. PAY TO PLAY - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    NJFLA, it also proves that no other teams want Milledge mostly because of the defense. He seemed to step up his game at the plate and unless they make him into a 2nd baseman, the only other spot is deep on someone's bench as he isn't an every day player as he is a defensive liability.

  52. Little Cat - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    I'd bet Nyjer Combustible Morgan doesn't even make it to the end of the current season before the Brewers release him.

  53. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    Defense is the primary reason I pick Cincinatti to run away with the NL Central. And it's not that they are so great, it's that Milwaukee and St. Louis are so terrible. And of course, there's Chicago and Houston but they are another story.

  54. Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    So Ryan Church nets them, so far, Cutter Dykstra.

  55. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    Little Cat… so you think a "great baseball town" like Milwaukee will figure out they've got a 31 yo minor league hockey player masquerading as a pure baseball guy???… Me, too.

  56. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    Ryan Church, meet Cutter Dykstra. And thank you Jim Bowden.

  57. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    FYI, Nyjer Morgan is hitting like .470 in his first ten games with the brew crew. Man does that guy respond well to getting traded. Fools gold, I tell you!

  58. Stranded_in_Philly - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:09 PM

    @ erocks33Lineup protection is pretty much a myth. There's no statistical support for it (except for when the pitcher spot is up next).Espinosa has experience leading off in the minors, and is the owner of a healthy OBP in the minors (never dipping below .332). Over last years small sample size he only got on .277, but right now he's well over .400. Why not give him a shot doing what he's done before, and expect him to continue getting on at a decent clip?

  59. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    Re: Morgan…I know. Funny, isn't it. He did the same thing in Pittsburgh, when he first got called up, then balked at going to left field after they brought up McCutchen and griped enough to get traded to us, then we all know how he started here before disintegrating.It's just a matter of time, and a short time I might add, that he'll do the same nose dive in Milwaukee.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
x-WASHINGTON 87 64 -- 0
ATLANTA 76 76 11.5
MIAMI 73 77 13.5
NEW YORK 73 79 14.5
PHILADELPHIA 69 82 18.0
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