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Time for Werth and LaRoche to hit

May 4, 2011, 3:15 PM EST

US Presswire photo
Michael Morse's solo homer last night accounted for the Nationals' entire offense.

PHILADELPHIA — Perhaps lost amid all the Jayson Werth hullabaloo last night was another feeble performance from the Nationals' lineup, which managed one run and five hits against Phillies starter Cole Hamels.

This, of course, was nothing new. The Nats have been held to one run or fewer five times in 29 games this season. And over their last 13 games, they've averaged a whopping 2.7 runs and 6.8 hits. For the season, they're now hitting a robust .225.

Now, last night's performance certainly had something to do with Hamels. The lefty was simply electric, going the distance and barely breaking a sweat doing it.

"When you have a guy that threw nine innings and threw a lot of strikes and located the baseball the way he wants it, it's tough," Ivan Rodriguez said afterward. "You've got to give credit to the pitcher. Credit goes to him today. He threw the ball in, mixed in off-speed,Read more »

  1. erocks33 - May 4, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Do whatever it takes to get Michael Young from the Rangers. The Nats need someone that can play 3rd AND get on base. Then, once Zim gets back (my opinion: not until the All-Star Break), then LaRoche can go get his surgery and they can move Young over the 1st.I know Young would NEVER come to DC, but a guy can dream, can't he?

  2. bgib - May 4, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Not only do I not believe that LaRoche's injury has no affect on his swing, I'm also wondering just how much he can maintain his upper body strength, e.g. lifting weights, etc., when he has a labrum tear. He certainly seems to not be able to catch up with anything thrown reasonably hard.

  3. Gonats - May 4, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    bgib, this was brought up in the previous posting as to the extent of LaRoche's injury if it really is affecting his swing. After the revelations on Zim, you would think some hard questions would be directed at Rizzo. As good as LaRoche is with the glove, at some point you have to wonder if the Mendoza line average is more than the team can take even with the great defense.

  4. Steve M. - May 4, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    Here's the issue here and JayB kind of said it early this morning in another post, the media isn't asking the questions some times. So here is the precise question that needs to be answered, "Is LaRoche's shoulder injury having a effect on his swing?"It took the small local newspaper in Hagerstown to get the Harper news that no other media got prior and our Anon8 was able to find it before any Washington media person picked up on it. That was huge news and if you were on Tom Boswell's chat yesterday he mentioned Bryce's contact lens situation at least twice. Here is a follow quote I found “I wore them in high school,” he said. “I got headaches when I wore them and I didn’t use them. Then when I got here and started playing every day, I started to notice I might need them more.”Anonymous8 said… The other big news is that Bryce Harper was having vision issues. Here's some quotes:“I have been getting work in the batting cage with my dad,” Bryce Harper said. “And I got contacts. I was told my vision is really bad.”Harper said he wore his new contacts for the first time on Wednesday in the Suns’ 8-3 loss. He got two singles in his first two at-bats and finished 2-for-5 in the game. He is 3-for-7 with a home run and four runs scored since starting to wear them. He is now hitting .261.“I’m seeing the ball really well now,” Harper said. “I’m seeing the spin and I’m seeing the strings really well. My vision is now in HD.” April 22, 2011 7:07 AM

  5. SonnyG10 - May 4, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    LaRoache is the one player I would want playing even if he doesn't hit. I think his defense makes up for his lack of offense.

  6. Knoxville Nat - May 4, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    As much as some might like to get Michael Young or another big bat in the line up, I think the more pressing need is to find an established lead off hitter who can consistently get on base. If our #1 and #2's aren't getting on than the 3, 4, 5 guys have no one ahead of them to drive in anyway. Right now I don't see a lead off type on the 25 man roster or for that matter in Syracuse or Harrisburg just yet.

  7. Mark Zuckerman - May 4, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    Steve M.: We (ie. the Nats beat writing crew) has repeatedly asked both LaRoche and Riggleman whether his shoulder is affecting his swing. Both have repeatedly said it is not, and that if it does, he'll be shut down.Is it possible one or both are hiding the truth from us? Sure. But other than asking the questions, what are we supposed to do?

  8. Doc - May 4, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Rizzo should have known/or did know about LaRoche's status when he signed him. LaRoche came into ST with the injury.Either the physicals before signings are negligent, or Rizzo is deciding to ignore the results. I'm thinking the latter. Rizzo has a 'sign at all cost' mentality. It's also possible that Rizzo mistakenly thinks that players (Marquis with his bone chips, Cla Meridith was his potential TMJ status, RZim with his rectus muscles, etc.)can play through their status issues, even when their physicals have clearly outlined their problems. If we fans are going to believe in this team, we first need to find some reasons to believe in Mike Rizzo. Maybe Rizzo needs to have some medical consultants from whom he can learn, and trust.

  9. Steve M. - May 4, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/04/sports/baseball/04jeter.htmlMark, thanks for that but lets get quotes and go one step further. Ask an orthopedist for his opinion as this just doesn't sit right. Does LaRoche look like he is getting his normal bat speed? I don't know his previous swing but it looks weak to me and he is dropping the bat head and getting very weak popups and dribblers.Here is the NY Times article (link above) doing the same type of piece on their struggling Jeter except they have quotes from Jeter, his hitting coach Kevin Long, his Manager Joe Girardi, and even the opposing coach Lamont.

  10. Stranded_in_Philly - May 4, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    @ Knoxville Nat"Crazy" thought (and one that can't really go into place until Zim is back and a few other guys are hitting)… but how about Werth at lead off? Despite his lack of contact, he's still getting on base… always has. He doesn't have "speed" (a silly old school cliche that people still cling to for lead off men), but he gets on, sees a lot of pitches, and can run the bases reasonably well. Plus, he's one of the best hitters in the lineup… so get him as many AB's as possible.When things are right, we could field a lineup like this…. Werth, Espinosa, Zimmerman, Laroche, Ramos, Ankiel, Morse, Desmond, (P) And, for bonus points, here's a 2013 dream lineup… Werth, Espi, Pujols (hehehe….), Harper, Zimmerman, Ramos, Morse (I guess), Desmond, P

  11. dale - May 4, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    Another good question that is never asked is "What are the minimum requirements for a hitter to be placed consistently in the clean-up position?". LaRoche has been designated as the clean up hitter and has by any objective measurements failed in that role so far. I was relieved to see Ramos get that spot the one day LaRoche sat but Riggleman certainly needs to be quizzed on his rationale at this point.

  12. Knoxville Nat - May 4, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    Stranded,With Pujols included that lineup is more than a dream it's a true fantasy. However I have a suspicion that if Morse doesn't improve his defense in the outfield and gets more consistent at the plate, by 2013 he will be out of the Nationals lineup completely. I'm still not a believer that MM is an everyday player.

  13. NatsHat - May 4, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Does anyone remember that Ramos got an at bat against Hamels and hit promptly hit into a double-play. Doesn't mean he wouldn't have gotten a hit later but he isn't the be-all-end-all of the offense.

  14. Mark'd - May 4, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    SteveM, nice pickup on that NY Jeter article. They just don't write that way here unless it is the Redskins. Tom Boswell gets the deepest in delving into the problems but only comes up with his anonymous sources.

  15. Steve M. - May 4, 2011 at 4:32 PM

    NatsHat, if the Phillies "D" wasn't at double play depth and cheating towards the middle, Ramos grounder up the middle would have been a single into Centerfield. That's how it works some times.Next to Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos had the best swings I saw in Spring Training. Everything just crushed.

  16. erocks33 - May 4, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    and the Ramos DP was helped by the ball ticking off of Hamels, which slowed it enough for Rollins to pick up and start the DP.

  17. The Great Unwashed - May 4, 2011 at 5:10 PM

    One easy adjustment the Nats cam make right now is to move LaRoche down in the order until he starts to hit. He's an automatic out in the heart of the order and it's killing the team. He's not the only offender, but he's the worst one right now.It's also clear this team has no leadoff hitter. Desmond started the year there and it put him in a hole from which he's just starting to emerge. Espinosa was hitting well before being put in the leadoff spot and his batting average has taken a serious nosedive. I don't know what the answer is but you're not going to get a trade done right now and I think the next successful leadoff hitter is not currently on the roster.

  18. Anonymous - May 4, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    "I think the next successful leadoff hitter is not currently on the roster"The next successful leadoff hitter this club has will be the first successful leadoff hitter it has had.

  19. masnstinks - May 4, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    I know exactly what will happen — we'll sign a "power bat" and as soon as they arrive here they will go ice-cold —-(see; Jayson Werth, Adam Laroche).There are no guarantees. Adam Dunn went to the White Sox with the idea of being on a contending team — how is that working out for him and for them? They stink and his batting average is miniscule.

  20. Sec 3, My Sofa - May 4, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    Besides Dr. Phil, who is going to diagnose someone based on what he sees on tv? Oh, and Dr. Nick.

  21. Sec 3, My Sofa - May 4, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    Ramos's 1-6-3 GIDP was a 4-6-3 without Hamels. It's not an accident they were playing there, and pitching to the defense. These things aren't luck, except in the "residue of design" sense. It's what good teams do well.

  22. HHover - May 4, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    re: RamosAnother reason to temper expectations: Ramos has been crazy lucky so far–his BABIP is .429 this season, which is bound to fall, and severely (Nats as a team are .268 on BABIP, while MLB team average is around .290).I expect good things from him and I'm going to enjoy his hot streak while it lasts, but I know it won't last forever.

  23. Steve M. - May 4, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    Sec 3, My Sofa, and how did that work for Milwaukee's shift defense? No way on Ramos. He is a pull and opposite field hitter. Look at his spray chart.

  24. The Great Unwashed - May 4, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    If Rizzo were to pull off a trade, it would cost the team another valuable chip like perhaps Jordan Zimmermann. It's not worth it. They either sign someone who's been DFA'd or give someone in the farm system a shot at it. It can't hurt.

  25. Sec 3, My Sofa - May 4, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Cole Hamels wasn't pitching for Milwaukee.

  26. Steve M. - May 4, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    HHover, BABIP is a much better indicator for a pitcher. I would look at Ramos plate appearances and use your eyes to judge him. For such a young player, he has a great sense of going with his pitches. He takes the outside pitches to right field and if you pitch him inside, watch out, as he has the power to knock almost any pitch out.

  27. Anonymous - May 4, 2011 at 5:53 PM

    Werth was protected by a powerful lineup in Philly and he played in a very hitter friendly park. He's lost both of those advantages so he may turn out to be a total dud over the next seven years.

  28. Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 - May 4, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    Soriano wasn't a bad leadoff hitter for the NATS. See AK's post today. He expects the team to improve thier hitting soon.

  29. Anonymous - May 4, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    the question should be why in the world is Wislon Ramos the only player who can hit in this lineup and does so no matter where he hits in the order, blaming Zim's injury or Werth or LaRoche is not the answer the answer is most of these guys stink and have no business being a starter on the major league level!

  30. HHover - May 4, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    @ Steve M I agree Ramos is a good hitter, but I think you're offering a bit of a false choice there–believe the #s or your eyes. There's no reason not to believe both, and the #s tell us that .429 is unsustainable.

  31. Anonymous - May 4, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    Its pretty clear LaRoche's shoulder probably needs surgery … I believe its at least as serious as Zimmerman's injury. Zimmerman tried to hide it through ST and into the season … but that one head-first slide kind of finished it for him. LaRoche is one courageous guy but its reached the point now where having a guy at first ostensibly batting fourth in the line up and in too much pain to hit? But then there's a guy named Ivan Rodriguez who has only played in 2 fewer games than the team offensive leader at this point Wilson Ramos. Management already announced that Ramos would be the every day catcher … and now? They need offense and Riggleman continues to start IRod? If he is showcasing for Boston then hopefully that trade will get consummated soon as this offense is pretty pathetic.Goessling thinks Morse should be leading the offense. Since when is Morse paid more than LaRoche and Werth? I'm not even sure he is paid as much as Ankiel and Ankiel should definitely be a bench player not a starter. There's at least still a question about that in Morse's case.The team might be better served with Morse at first base with LaRoche getting his shoulder surgically repaired. Bernadina/Nix and hopefully as a late inning fielding replacement ONLY, Ankiel plus Werth.

  32. Tim - May 4, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    All this griping… and players scuffling… and we're still a game under .500. Hang in there everyone! The hits will come.

  33. Anonymous - May 4, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    Ramos has amazing bat speed. A Harper attribute. The difference being that Harper is far too young to have that kind of bat speed. Ramos can pretty much hit anything even close to the strike zone as a result. He also seems canny about handling the breaking pitches. You don't often see him swing at pitches that end up in the dirt (an unfortunate Michael Morse attribute).

  34. JD - May 4, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    HHover; Good luck convincing baseball fans to look at numbers objectively;It's a lot easier to react to every at bat and formulate one's opinion based on yesterday's game. Suggestions of rearranging the lineup are akin to suggestions to rearrange the chairs on the deck of the titanic. The options are not that great.

  35. NatsHat - May 4, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    Ramos will be a very good hitter in this league even as teams learn how to pitch him as the season goes on. Love him, he is as strong as an ox, and will learn to adjust.Anon @ 2:08; As far as why Pudge is starting? The guy still knows how to play stellar defense and calls a great game. It is not all about the offense, though at .234 he has LaRoche, Espy, Werth etc. beat. Loved his demeanor last night (loved seeing him handle H. Rodriguez) and if you don't think Ramos isn't watching, you ain't watching.

  36. JD - May 4, 2011 at 6:45 PM

    Also,nothing in Ramos history (minors or majors) suggests that he can sustain a .365 batting average which is not a criticism but a call to reality. If Ramos settles at .280 .320 .480 with good defense he will be a perennial all star and resolve our problems at the catching position for years to come.

  37. masnstinks - May 4, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    Before the season started everyone seemed to agree that we were looking towards 2012. We have young guys still learning ( although Ramos looks pretty good now), and veterans holding places and keeping them warm. We signed a couple of players that will probably be good in the long run — ie Jayson Werth, who will not be this mediocre forever. Our pitching is a pleasant surprise, our bullpen is holding, defense seems better, base-running is good, hustle is there most of the time, attitude seems good. Hitting is absolutely in the toilet. I guess we can't have everything right now – baseball fans tend to be whiny and kind of ADD. I would LOVE to see some hitting – but I do enjoy watching this team play. Our bats need an exorcism, though.

  38. Anonymous - May 4, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    Anon @ 2:08; As far as why Pudge is starting? The guy still knows how to play stellar defense and calls a great game.He should be playing as much as any backup catcher plays; in other words Wil Nieves? Yes, defensively he just might be one of the best backup catchers in baseball. But at this point that is exactly what he is: a great backup not a starter. He is a GIDP waiting to happen most nights. He isn't all that much younger than Matt Stairs when all is said and done. Starting IRod over Ramos when Ramos should be getting 3-5 nights and then a blow is on Riggleman. Most of Rizzo's braintrust (and probably Rizzo) wanted to see Ramos starting out the chute … but Riggleman decided otherwise …If they are playing IRod to showcase him for a trade … that's fine. It would be nice if some sort of hint were thrown out for fans who follow the team. The fanbase is tired of watching pathetic teams crawl to the finish line at the end of the season. They deserve better.

  39. Anonymous - May 4, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    Buster Posey did not need Ivan Rodriguez to show him the ropes, teach him to lead a team to the world series now did he? Give Ramos some credit he looks very much like a similar talent. Having IRod as a mentor is definitely an added bonus BUT CERTAINLY NOT a reason to start Ivan Rodriguez every other night.

  40. Mark'd - May 4, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    We start with a Werth/LaRoche article and know no more today than yesterday except what he thought of Hamels pitching. I am less worried about Werth and very concerned on LaRoche. No POP in his bat.JD is right on Ramos numbers but maybe Eckstein's tweaking is paying dividends.

  41. erocks33 - May 4, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    Why is Pudge still getting playing time? Because in his last 40 plate appearances (aka after his 0-10 start of the season), his slash line is .297/.333/.459. So one could argue that Pudge and Ramos are the only Nats batters hitting the ball.

  42. Anonymous - May 4, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    The whining in these comments -especially about the incompetence of rizzo andd riggleman-is just incredible.Look, thehitting so far is lousy. Everyone can see that. But you know What? When you check the standings each morning they don't list the team bt batting average, but by Ws& Ls. And this team that has been pitiful for yearsis in themiddle of the pack, right around. 500 – and this is despite having played the majority of their games without their best Player! I don't know if they keep this up. But none of you do either

  43. Anonymous - May 18, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    Werth will hit — in fact, is already hitting.La Roche will never hit. Worst hitting mechanics and approach I've seen in many a year. He (La Roche) as one of the biggest busts of the Lerner era.

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