Skip to content

Game 43: Nats at Mets

May 19, 2011, 2:46 PM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats need to win today at Citi Field to avoid a two-game sweep.

NEW YORK — No rest for the weary. After enduring last night's 3-0 loss, not to mention plenty of rain, the Nationals are back at the ballpark this morning for the finale of this brief, two-game series with the Mets. They aren't exactly getting to spend a lot of quality time in the Big Apple on this trip.

Seeking to get some semblance of pop from his lineup, Jim Riggleman has moved Jayson Werth to the cleanup spot, with Laynce Nix in the 3-hole. We'll see what the manager has to say about that switch, but my hunch is that he's trying to find a way to get Werth to the plate with some men in scoring position.

Livan Hernandez, who was very good last time out against the Marlins but still suffered the loss, starts today against Mets right-hander Dillon Gee. Plenty of updates to come, so please check back often…

NATIONALS at METS
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 1:10 p.m.
TV: MASN
Radio: WFED (1500 AM), WHFS (1580 AM), XM 183
Weather: Cloudy, 68 degrees, Wind 8 mph RF to LF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (20-22)
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
LF Laynce Nix
RF Jayson Werth

Read more ยป

116 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Bowdenball - May 19, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    I worry that the only way to consistently get Werth to the plate with runners in scoring position would be to send him to Hagerstown.

  2. NotFPSantangelo - May 19, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Have any real members of the media asked Riggs how he can possibly continue to justify LaRoche batting 5th??I'd do it, but I'm really bad at confrontation…

  3. NatsJack in Florida - May 19, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    I'm anxious to watch the double header on line this evening from Hagerstown with Robbie Ray pitching the first game and A.J. Cole going in the second.

  4. UNTERP.NAT - May 19, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    I'm going on the line to say LaRoche will get a walk and no hits today. Bets…

  5. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    ^Eh, I'd take you up on it at even odds. Even with an average of .177, the odds of getting at least 1 hit in 4 ABs are roughly 56%.

  6. UNTERP.NAT - May 19, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    Anonymous said… ^Eh, I'd take you up on it at even odds. Even with an average of .177, the odds of getting at least 1 hit in 4 ABs are roughly 56%. You are aware in Vegas, you can bet on specific at bats, etc.

  7. Manassas Nats Fan - May 19, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    LaRoche will get a hit and walk, odds 27% of that happening.Desmond will steal his 15th base.Lavon will pitch at least 3 balls less than 60 MPH.

  8. HHover - May 19, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    "my hunch is that he's trying to find a way to get Werth to the plate with some men in scoring position"My hunch is that Riggleman's inordinate love for L-R-L has struck again–I can't see any other reason for not having Nix in the 4 hole.

  9. KD - May 19, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Personally, I like the L-R-L strategy most nights. Messes with opposing managers late game pitching moves.

  10. Mark Zuckerman - May 19, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    NotFPSantangelo said…Have any real members of the media asked Riggs how he can possibly continue to justify LaRoche batting 5th??I'd do it, but I'm really bad at confrontation…Actually, the question was asked after the game last night. Riggleman's answer: "Sometimes it's a matter of, you look at the other club's bullpen and see what they have, and how attractive you make it for them to bring a left-hander in a situation. So sometimes it's not just as easy as just dropping somebody. That can create some problems, too. But it just depends on who else is in the lineup with him, who's pitching for the other club, and all that."

  11. Doc - May 19, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Having Morse at 1B would also be a good idea–3 hits in the last two low-scoring games. His career stats for RHPs/LHPs are pretty good. And right now Morse is hitting better than LaRouche. Riggleman seems to be infatuated with LaRoche's fielding, but as noted by commentators he should not be hitting in power positions in the batting order.

  12. JD - May 19, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    You guys are something else. A few days ago everyone was demanding to drop Espinosa to the bottom of the order; at different times this year there were calls to move pudge,Desmond,Morse to the bottom of the order; then there is Cora and Hairston. Everyone can't hit 8th; rearranging the chairs on the Titanic won't resolve the issue. The team is what it is and in the end it's almost at .500 having played the toughest part of it's schedule without it's best player.

  13. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    Actually, the question was asked after the game last night. Riggleman's answer: "Sometimes it's a matter of, you look at the other club's bullpen and see what they have, and how attractive you make it for them to bring a left-hander in a situation. So sometimes it's not just as easy as just dropping somebody. That can create some problems, too. But it just depends on who else is in the lineup with him, who's pitching for the other club, and all that."Jeeeeeest sit right back and you'll hear a tale a tale, a tale of a fateful season that started from Florida's tropic shores Aboard this tiny dugout …The skipper was a renowned baseball man; his GM confident and sure … 25 AAAA's set sail that day on a 162 game tour …a 162 game tour …The weather started getting rough, the tiny dugout tossed,If not for the courage of the klitzy mascotthe curly W would be lost, the curly W would be lostThe dugout is stuck in the rut of last placewith Giggleman! He's the Skipper too. The Billionaire and his son.The GM professor, there's the pitching coach …Here on Giggleman's Isle.So … this is the tale of the AAAA's,they're here for 162,they'll have to make the best of things,Its an uphill climb.The first mate is the Skipper too, he will do his very bestto frustrate fans endlesslyin his tropic island mess.No hitting, no pitching, playing an ancient bench crew,Not a single true pitching ace,Like those Senators of oldzero chance ever of .500 and a pennant race?So join us here each night my friend,You're sure to get a smile From 25 stranded AAAA's,Here on Giggleman's Isle!

  14. NatsJack in Florida - May 19, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    JD… you read my mind. I was thinking exactly the same thing. This is a primary reason why I've slowed my postings to this site.

  15. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    Everyone can't hit 8th; rearranging the chairs on the Titanic won't resolve the issue. The team is what it is and in the end it's almost at .500 having played the toughest part of it's schedule without it's best player.I wish everyone would stop using Zim as an excuse. Its lame and pathetic. If you look at the Mets lineup they are decidedly worst off and gee doing just as well? The Phillies are without Utley … I mean c'mon?And they were actually better off last season record-wise with that heavyweight 3-4-5 instead of the sub-Mendoza hitters who can field.

  16. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    "Everyone can't hit 8th; rearranging the chairs on the Titanic won't resolve the issue. The team is what it is and in the end it's almost at .500 having played the toughest part of it's schedule without it's best player."And before the inevitable drop-off by the starting rotation.

  17. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    "they are decidedly worst off"Learn the difference between worst and worse.

  18. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… "JD… you read my mind. I was thinking exactly the same thing. This is a primary reason why I've slowed my postings to this site."The site has become overrun with whiney nitpicking, glorification of average players and the illogical postings expected of a 10 year old. There is very little intelligent, reasoned discussion anymore.In other words, the site has gotten worst!

  19. HHover - May 19, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    11:45 update: so my hunch was right–sort of.KD: there's obviously something to be said for the L-R-L strategy, but Riggs carries it to extremes, treating what ought to be a rule of thumb as the 11th commandment. If you don't optimize your lineup to put runs on the board against their starter, you've made their choice of relievers a lot easier already.JD: to paraphrase the immortal Don Rumsfeld, you criticize the team you have, not the team you might someday wish to have. Natsjack: I agree with you and JD about the team's overall performance, but honestly–what did you expect to find in the comments on a sports website? Even on sites devoted to better teams, you'll find a lot of second guessing the manager, arm-chair GM'ing, and general ketching.

  20. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    Everyone can't hit 8th; rearranging the chairs on the Titanic won't resolve the issue. Everyone in the lineup can't be a great fielder … or someone with 45 years of professional experience especially on a friggin' LAST PLACE TEAM? Playing a guy at first base who is obviously injured? Instead of trying other alternatives? Its pretty pathetic if you ask me.

  21. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Learn the difference between worst and worse.Originally the same word genius. But then what kind of intellectual prowess should one expect on a Nats sports blog? As such most English scholars accept their mixed use.Origin: before 900; Middle English (adj., adv., and noun); Old English wiersa (comparative adj.), wiers (adv.); cognate with Old Norse verri, Gothic wairsiza; see war2Learn that languages are living things … NOT dead and stiff like cadavers. Cadavers like you who need to get a life.

  22. Ernie - May 19, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    I don't know if this counts as a "worst" posting, but I found Mark's comment on LaRoche's nearly neutral WAR (0.2 or -0.2 depending on the source) interesting. I'm not hip to the sabre-talk, so I was hoping someone could explain how they balance offense and defense in those calculations. It seems like the calculation would depend a lot on the assumptions that went into the formula itself on which is more valuable, but I don't really know what those assumptions are. I get (but don't entirely buy into) the concept of UZR as a defensive rating, and of course we have all kinds of offensive data. But how do you combine the two sides into a single data point? Isn't it apples and oranges?I'm sure this is all clearly explained somewhere. If it's too much to explain here, a link to a good explanation would be appreciated as well.As always, I apologize for my vast ignorance and am prepared to be mocked for daring to ask…

  23. Steve M. - May 19, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… I'm anxious to watch the double header on line this evening from Hagerstown with Robbie Ray pitching the first game and A.J. Cole going in the second. May 19, 2011 11:00 AM Talk about a glimpse into the future of DC baseball! Cole, Ray, and Harper and hoping a few more are the real deal. Still wondering if this Kelso kid is a hidden gem unearthed or just a stand-out in low A ball.

  24. Wally - May 19, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    OK, here is a quiz. Who is pitching the best amongst our SPs?Marquis, right? (5-1, 3.54 ERA)? Gorzy (2-3, 3.56)?Nope. According to FanGraphs, JZimm (2-4, 4.13 era) is our best performing SP so far. Already racked up 1.3 WAR on the season (15th best in NL). His FIP is 2.69, 9th best in the league. He is getting lucky on HR%, which won't be sustainable, but other than that, no one factor stands out as lucky, meaning that we should expect this to continue. His B/9 is a career best, so maybe that is a bit lucky or maybe it is the pitch to contact philosophy. If he can keep that going, he will be a clear #2 SP.

  25. NotFPSantangelo - May 19, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    Thanks Mark. You continue to be the journalistic wind beneath my broadcasting wings.

  26. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    Nope. According to FanGraphs, JZimm (2-4, 4.13 era) is our best performing SP so far. Already racked up 1.3 WAR on the season (15th best in NL). His FIP is 2.69, 9th best in the league.One of the very few things that appear to be going right at the major league level in terms of looking forward into the future.

  27. still waiting....... - May 19, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    the problem with this chat is it is polarized between the glass half empty/half full sides. i for one didnt expect to be battling for last place well into our 7th season. i followed the expansion Senators and know bad baseball when i see it.i dont know what the answer is. i tire of the nitpicking too, but also tire of the we dont have RZim, we have the toughest schedule, etc.looking at it from a long term view, i am very disappointed in the relative lack of improvement of the Major League product. no matter how optimistic you look at it, you cant escape the fact that we are in last place, again, with a roster half full of journeymen ballplayers……i dont see how you can dispute that

  28. Grandstander - May 19, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    I have to seriously question whether some posters watch these games. LaRoche has been brilliant at 1B in the face of some terrible throws. He's been gold glove worthy. Yes, his bat is frustrating, but he must be in the lineup everyday and just hope he gets hot.Werth is in the middle of a 4-game hitting streak, going 6 for 15 with 2 doubles. No problem with moving him inbetween the lefties to shake up the Mets bullpen, it's smart baseball, period. You're acting like he's batting Hairston cleanup just because he's a righty.This is a game we have to win. When you look at that Mets lineup, and you have a guy like Livo on the mound… Let's go get a split!

  29. Wally - May 19, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    ErnieI don't pretend to completely understand it either, nor do I know the exact formulas, but I'll try to give some context to it. They compare someone's actual stats to a fictional AAAA player – meaning someone who a team can call up from AAA, pay the minimum and get a certain level of performance. I think that this is also adjusted for position, so LaRoche's struggles offensively are even more pronounced because he is a 1B. The replacement player is not an average performer, it is bare minimum performance (this is also why when someone says a player is an 'average MLB player', that is actually a good thing, he is better than half the players at his position). They track overall stats constantly to create the reference point of a replacement player. Offense is down the last few years, so a replacement player produces less offense now than 4 years ago. The way that they connect offense to defense is by translating everything to runs – runs produced for offense, runs saved for defense. And then a certain amount of runs = a Win (Above Replacement). Maybe it is 10, I dunno exactly. They get there by saying things like 'if a guy has an OBP of X, a SLG of Y, etc, it generally results in Z runs.' They do that for the replacement guy, subtract the difference and that is his positive/negative run contribution to WAR. Same for defense. I kind of like UZR, but there are others like Range Factor, and some others that I don't follow. The big rap on the defensive stats is that they are considered to need 3 years or more of data to be relevant, unlike most offensive ones.Fangraphs and BR are the leading WAR calculators. One gives more weight to defense (I actually thought that was Fangraphs, but I may be thinking about the weighting of positional value), and LaRoche is doing well defensively (and also in line with last year, so no reason to think he stops).I apologize if I just repeated what you already knew. Just trying to give you my take.

  30. erocks33 - May 19, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    I don't have a problem with some of the "negative" comments, but I do get tired of reading the same old negative comments. And they're almost all from "Anonymous" (and if you read enough of the this blog and other Nats-related blogs, one can decipher that the majority of the Anonymous postings here are by one individual – and if you dare to question his/her comment, that individual tends to reply back using personal attacks, such as @12:25 above's "Cadavers like you who need to get a life."). So, I just stopped reading any comments from "Anonymous." And it seems to me that when the Nats *DO* win, there seems to be a noticeable lack of comments from that specific "Anonymous."

  31. Wally - May 19, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    Anon @12:44I disagree. There are several good things looking forward.Espy – 6th in 2B WAR, even given his struggles.Ramos – 5th in C WAR, despite not being full time.Two of the top 15 relievers in terms of WAR (Storen/Clip).All of these guys are pre-arb, so controllable for 4-6 more years.We need a CF. Maybe a SS if Desi doesn't start hitting. Two good SPs. But some of the pieces are falling into place.

  32. HHover - May 19, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    ErnieFor a primer, try fangraphs: http://www.fangraphs.com/library/index.php/misc/war/.As Wally explained, the short answer is that both the fielding and the hitting components that go into WAR are based on a calculation of the # of runs that a player creates/saves/costs his team. To add a bit, because I think this is what you were getting at: a run that you save on defense counts as much as a run you create on offense.

  33. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    Isn't it amazing how the Nats sickly lineup makes the opposing teams pitcher look like Cy Young game after game.

  34. Steve M. - May 19, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    Anonymous said… Nope. According to FanGraphs, JZimm (2-4, 4.13 era) is our best performing SP so far. Already racked up 1.3 WAR on the season (15th best in NL). His FIP is 2.69, 9th best in the league.One of the very few things that appear to be going right at the major league level in terms of looking forward into the future. May 19, 2011 12:44 PM JZim is the one guy you can't look at the W/L and base an opinion. He has had one poor start and all the others have been good to excellent.The problem in his first 3 starts was poor defense behind him. Costly errors, misplayed balls, stadium lighting in Werth's eyes, and he ends up throwing many extra pitches.Then he gets caught up in 2 of the tougher losses this year in the Burnett grand slam to lose the 5-1 lead and Slaten had a similar inning also in relief of JZim.All in all, if inherited runners weren't given a free ride home his ERA would be 3.375. He, like most of the other Nats starters has been a victim of poor run support in the early innings.That immaculate inning he had striking out the side on 9 pitches shows that he has good stuff and finally his curveball showed up in his last start.I think JZim will be a solid #2 on a good team, and also enjoying Marquis so far too. Give Strasburg the time to recover and extend Marquis for a year with an option and you will have a good 1-2-3 in the rotation.

  35. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    …and on cue, LaRoche bounces into a double play.

  36. FOTB - May 19, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    What a surprise.

  37. Not Werth It - May 19, 2011 at 5:53 PM

    Anyone else catch Charlie and Dave saying the home plate umpire today is a minor leaguer fill-in? It already seems to be benefitting Livan, who could have a big day today with a bigger strike zone.Go Nats!

  38. Steve M. - May 19, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    LaRoche with a nice 3-6-3 doubleplay! DEFENSE

  39. PAY TO PLAY - May 19, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    Lucky, 2 outs, ball hit off the end of the bat and the base runner can take off with the 2 outs and score.

  40. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 6:21 PM

    Boy, isn't this "small ball" fun to watch! Rizzo has structured a team that totally incapable of scoring a run. I almost feel sorry for Riggleman.

  41. Bowdenball - May 19, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    If someone throws a perfect game against the Nats, should it count? Or is it like a rain-shortened perfect game, since the degree of difficulty is obviously so far below normal?(Hoping this works as a jinx)

  42. Ernie - May 19, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    Wally, HHover – Thanks. That filled in a lot of gaps for me.

  43. Steve M. - May 19, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    Anon, that isn't the definition of "small ball" that you are seeing today. You are seeing "light ball" which is where your hitters are all looking like Mendoza line slackers today.

  44. Bowdenball - May 19, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    I missed Werth's walk. Trying it again:If someone throws a no-hitter against the Nats, should it count? Or is it like a rain-shortened no-hitter, since the degree of difficulty is obviously so far below normal?(Once again, hoping I can jinx the legendary Dillon Gee)

  45. David - May 19, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    Is this the day the Dubs get no-hit? It seems inevitable.

  46. masnstinks - May 19, 2011 at 6:33 PM

    I used to worry about losing, then worry about getting shut out, now it's getting no-hit. Well – we really are the perfect no-hit team because – we actually don't hit. One "it might rain" day and any momentum we kind of had for 2 games is completely gone. Either no contact or very weak contact – this is depressing. And anyone who criticizes Riggs or Eckstein on this is just wrong. These are big league hitters and they should be able to hit better than this if I was their hitting coach. It's not Halladay or Lincecum out there!

  47. PAY TO PLAY - May 19, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    Nats Hits are coming!

  48. Water23 - May 19, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    Livan will break up the no-hitter with a Bunt single. He will continue to lead the team offense. Maybe he should be the 1B for a few days to give everyone something to talk about.

  49. PAY TO PLAY - May 19, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    SEE!

  50. Water23 - May 19, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    Oh well, a single to center is just as good!

  51. masnstinks - May 19, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    Livo!!!

  52. NatinBeantown - May 19, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    I love Livo.

  53. Water23 - May 19, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    And for the record, Livan Hernandez may be the greatest modern day Nat. He leads the team in wins, Ks and probably BA.

  54. NatsJack in Florida - May 19, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    How are we going to justify using a DH for Jason Marquis this week end?

  55. NatinBeantown - May 19, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    It's legal to DH for any position, right? Doesn't HAVE to be for the pitcher's spot?I think the better question is how are we going to justify NOT using Marquis as the DH on his off days!

  56. The Joker - May 19, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    The Nats couldn't hit Hilary Clinton's wide ass with a broomstick.

  57. Steve M. - May 19, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    In combined innings in this start and Livan's previous 3, the Nats have been scoreless now in the equivalent of 26 straight innings for Livan.Does Livan's easy going style lull them all to sleep?

  58. TimDz - May 19, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    NatsJack…I think using Stairs as DH this weekend may be a blessing in disguise…here's my logic (flawed as it may be…):Stairs plays two of the three games as DH, plus a late inning PH in the third game. He goes 0-for-the-weekend, realizes he needs to hang them up and retires. Not sure if this is logic or just wishful thinking on my part.

  59. Grandstander - May 19, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    How are we going to justify using a DH for Jason Marquis this week end?It would be downright stupid to take away our batting average leader. He's 6th in SLUGGING percentage.The one thing I don't want to hear after this game is how good of a game Gee pitched. I'm sick of it.

  60. Bowdenball - May 19, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    My jinx worked! Let's try it again-If someone throws a shutout against the Nats, does it count as a real shutout?masnstinks- Am I understanding your 2:33 post correctly? Are you saying that we shouldn't hold the hitting coach accountable because the hitting is TOO bad? I'm not sure I follow that logic.

  61. Unkyd - May 19, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    For what it's worth, WaPo readers poll has 84% supportive of Harper staying in the minors all year.

  62. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    Stairs plays two of the three games as DH, plus a late inning PH in the third game. He goes 0-for-the-weekend, realizes he needs to hang them up and retires.Unfortunately, I think he is one of those guys FP SantaAngelo described in the last game … that want to be on the bench. He likes hanging on the bench bundled up like my grandmother. He enjoys being in the Riggleman Celebrity Golf Tour.

  63. Unkyd - May 19, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    @erocks 1:17…Trolls. Bane of the 'net….

  64. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    @erocks 1:17…Trolls. Bane of the 'net….For someone who claims to not read what they write he sure likes to respond and cut-and-paste what they say enough … not to mention more often than not point his crooked finger at the wrong "anonymii". Maybe he's the real troll? I mean who is erocks33?

  65. NatsJack in Florida - May 19, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    Unkyd…. 8% of the negative votes were anonymous and the other 8% was Peric voting numerous times.

  66. Steve M. - May 19, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    Unkyd said… For what it's worth, WaPo readers poll has 84% supportive of Harper staying in the minors all year. May 19, 2011 2:51 PM The Minor Leagues essentially ends the beginning of September. -IF- Bryce Harper crushes through AA Harrisburg like Ryan Zimmerman did in 2005, does he deserve a September callup like RZim got in 2005? Technically, that doesn't get in the way of "staying in the minors all year" as he would have finished the Minor League schedule.I believe you put your best 25 out there while making prudent decisions. I don't believe Bryce Harper is ready for the MLB right now as he has to progress through the system. Just like the Arizona Fall League last year, I wouldn't rule out a taste of the Majors in September if he earns it and then starts back in AA or AAA in April 2012.

  67. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    NatsJack is actually Poopy McPoop Orioles fan extraordinaire.

  68. masnstinks - May 19, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    Yes, bowdenball – the hitting coach bears some responsibility – but , come on — these guys have been hitting since they were about 7 years old! There is absolutely nothing Eckstein could have done to them or said to them to make them this bad, even if he tried. And –Natinbeantown — I agree with you – I think we should use the dh for laroche and let Marquis hit. How embarrassing would it be for a player to be dh'd for? Would he pull a Posada? This game, and this series — very ugly — kind of hope this is rock-bottom and something, anything, changes after this.

  69. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    Bryce Harper crushes through AA Harrisburg like Ryan Zimmerman did in 2005, does he deserve a September callup like RZim got in 2005? Technically, that doesn't get in the way of "staying in the minors all year" as he would have finished the Minor League schedule.That is what I thought they would do instead of Harrisburg. But Mike Rizzo is definitely not Segway Joy riding leather pants JimBo. Apparently, Harper's play in A ball doesn't warrant it. When pressed on it Rizzo inferred that there some defensive things he felt he needed to work on.There is one HUGE positive about this organization AND that is that player development and scouting have improved exponentially! The way the minors are being managed is so far superior to what we saw in the past … its heart breaking because of all the wasted opportunity one can see. I believe Rizzo when he says he is going to do right by the player (first) and the organization. But in Harper's case he must also consider doing what is right by the game of baseball. Harper probably could come up right away … and perhaps end up as a career .280+ hitter and decent fielder. Rizzo and Harper think they can do a rendition of Teddy Ballgame. From what I've seen I tend to agree that the possibility is there. So, Harper could be your typical first round draft pick .280 hitter. Not so interesting … or he could attempt to match what Williams did when he was young: hit .400. That to me is interesting. If I must cringe everytime I see a Riggleman lineup … I believe I deserve to be rewarded by getting to watch the next .400 hitter (sans any performance enhancing drugs) since Ted Williams.– peric

  70. Grandstander - May 19, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    Stairs over Morse?Is a R-L more important than putting someone up who is capable of getting a hit?

  71. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    @GrandstanderStairs had a decent AB and hit the ball on the screws, just right at Beltran. I don't see how you complain about that one.

  72. masnstinks - May 19, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    Agreed — and might I add — thanks for being on-line to all of you today. It really makes it more tolerable. When I get really frustrated I can post instead of throwing something!

  73. Tcostant - May 19, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    Could the Nationals go to NY and not score vs. the Mets the whole road trip? It might happen and that would be very sad.

  74. still waiting........ - May 19, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    Morse maybe be marginally more capable of getting a hit, but he didnt. i am not calling anyone out, but would really like one of you glass half full guys to tell me how they justify Stairs.Regardless of what may or may not be lurking in the minors and/or DL, this is a terribly constructed 25 man roster

  75. joemktg - May 19, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    Two quick points about Zim and his early call-up: (1) he was a 3 year starter with UVA; (2) he didn't make the dramatic shift from C to OF.

  76. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    Under the heading "just sayin'" : I've also repeated the above comment a number of times … @NatsJack. If that's negative and glass 1/2 empty then I am happy to be so.

  77. Bowdenball - May 19, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    masnstinks-The club bears some responsibility for the lineup they're fielding, but pretty much the entire lineup is underperforming both their career averages and the preseason projections done in systems like PECOTA and ZiPS and by Bill James. It's across the board, and the gap is not insignificant. There's clearly something wrong at the plate with this particular team in this particular year. It's not just that Eckstein and Riggleman aren't improving them; they're regressing across the board.

  78. still waiting...... - May 19, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    and again, not calling anyone out, but someone challanged us "are we watching these games". what are you watching?we are gonna be shut out back to back, by totally non descript pitchers and the only team we have a chance of contending with!

  79. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    but pretty much the entire lineup is underperforming both their career averages and the preseason projections done in systems like PECOTA and ZiPS and by Bill James.And when an entire lineup fails to meet their preseason projects? Is underperforming? That's usually the manager's responsibility at least that's what I've heard. Whether its motivation, politics, lineup screw ups, bad moves … whatever. All Rizzo can do is give Riggleman the components he wanted. A better fielding, clean playing team with decent pitching. That was done. Now, its on Riggleman.

  80. Constant Reader - May 19, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    If Matt Stairs goes 0-for-the-weekend in Baltimore and decides to retire out of embarassment, who would replace him on the active roster? Call up Flores or Marrero? Would you really bring either of those guys up from Syracuse to be the 25th man?

  81. still waiting........ - May 19, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    i agree to and extent, if you have thsi many guys underperforming at the 1/4 pole you need to shake things up. it is hardly motivating LaRoche to bat him in a key batting order spot when he is o for recent memory.that +/- rund stuff doesnt equate to batting 3rd, 4th or 5th and doing absolutly nothing….nor can you justify having someone on the roster whose sole purpose is a late inning key hit who NEVER comes thru!

  82. Bowdenball - May 19, 2011 at 7:39 PM

    Anonymous 3:29:yeah, that was kind of my point. Although I hold Eckstein responsible more than Riggleman. The entire team isn't underperforming, just the hitters. The pitching staff is mostly exceeding expectations.

  83. Grandstander - May 19, 2011 at 7:42 PM

    It's not a series against the Mets without a totally blown call that changes the game. Unbelievable.

  84. still waiting...... - May 19, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    im sorry, is it too much to ask our cleanup hitter get the ball out of the infield? blown call or not. we needed Werth, Laroche or Stairs to come thru and none came close

  85. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    what was the blown call? I am only able to watch the gamecast since I am at work. Thanks.

  86. MikeD - May 19, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    Watching Stairs and Laroche at the plate is just painful. Also time to clean house with some of these inept umpires. Start with the ones over 300 pounds and work their way down.

  87. Bowdenball - May 19, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    Anonymous 3:48-Mets 1B took his foot off the bag before the ball arrived on Werth's grounder. It was pretty clear on replay. Should have been runner on first and third with one out instead of runner on third with two outs.

  88. rmoore446 - May 19, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    Even the Mets announcers on TV said Werth beat the throw and the 1B was off the bag. Unbelievable. But so is the lack of Nats offense. I'm frankly sick of reading about LaRoche's history of slow starts. He should have figured it out somewhere along the way. We are a quarter through the season and he's barely breaking .172. That's a joke for a regular

  89. JayB - May 19, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    Yet Again MARK….when is it time to get some kind of response from the team about the hitting coach and when do we hear anything from the hitting coach….if it normal and smart to "do nothing" and Say Nothing"?

  90. Unkyd - May 19, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    Yeah… Let's not be the guy who spends two days on the totally inept list, then wants to grumble about a bad call-however justified. That was rough…. Let's go beat on the Birds!!

  91. Water23 - May 19, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    As Einstein put it -Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.Maybe bring up Marrero or let some on else play 1B for a week and see if the rest helps LaRoche mentally or possibly physically. What they are doing now if clearly not working for anyone.Let's get the O's

  92. masnstinks - May 19, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    Constant Reader — Ankiel is due back any time – perfect time for Stairs to bow out. This hurts so much more because it's the Mets. Now on to Baltimore, where it also hurts pretty bad when you stink. Is this team demoralized at this point? Nix always looks like he is ready for battle.I love Adam LaRoche at first but his demeanor seems so passive at the plate – he does not look like he cares at all – no reaction. Either he is really good at controlling his emotions or he has none.I know there are rules about options and contracts and stuff, but don't you wish the whole team could switch places with the Syracuse Chiefs for a week? Just send them all down and let some hungry players show their stuff. I mean, if you're going to lose and not hit anyway…

  93. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    It's time to get some offensive help. A package of Marquis, Coffey and Detwiler might land us a decent outfield bat. Replace Marquis with Maya or Stammen and Coffey with Balester. Another couple of weeks put Laroche on the DL and call up Marrero. Might be the only way to salvage this season.

  94. Grandstander - May 19, 2011 at 8:07 PM

    Almost mystically, LaRoche is hitting WORSE with RiSP. .143 with an OPS of .427. With RiSP, he's collected on 6 hits in 42 ABs with 7 Ks.With RiSP and 2 out, he's even WORSE. .083 with an OPS of .366. 2 hits in 24 ABs with 6 Ks.Now, I'm one of those who has been defending him because of his glove and my opinion there has not changed. But I don't know why he consistently is hitting 4th and 5th in the lineup. I think he needs to drop down until he can prove to not be Automatic Adam anymore.Not to play hypotheticals, but if Werth was called safe, LaRoche would've grounded into a DP with that weak roller to 2nd.

  95. Ribuld - May 19, 2011 at 8:08 PM

    The Chiefs can't hit either so not help there. What's the ML record for lowest team BA in a season?

  96. Big Cat - May 19, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    NatsJack…..where can I hook on to see the Hagerstown games? On their website?

  97. Pete - May 19, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    They really need to put LaRoche on the DL for two weeks to heal his shoulder, and his wounded pride. Dude is KILLING the Nats right now. But hey, Dunn wouldn't have made that catch, right? Right?

  98. Ribuld - May 19, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    I don't see how it's on Riggleman because these guys can't hit. We're talking about ML veterans with a pretty good track record. Riggleman or his staff didn't coach away their hitting skills.

  99. Grandstander - May 19, 2011 at 8:17 PM

    @ribuldThe record for lowest team BA belongs to, who else? The Washington Senators! They hit .207 collectively in 1908. We're currently hitting .225.

  100. Constant Reader - May 19, 2011 at 8:17 PM

    masnstinks … I guess my question sort of answers itself. While Ankiel won't be back by Monday (unless I misread Mark's post yesterday) there's no way Stairs survives both Ankiel and Zim coming off the DL.Second question, when Zim comes off the DL and LaRoche goes on it, who do you want at first, Morse or Marrero?

  101. Dave - May 19, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    @Tcostant 3:23 PM: "Could the Nationals go to NY and not score vs. the Mets the whole road trip? It might happen and that would be very sad."Why yes, it looks like they could.And yes, it is indeed very, very sad. Not only could they not beat the Mets, they couldn't even score a single run.I am steeling myself for the annual Baltimore humiliation.

  102. NatsJack in Florida - May 19, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    Big Cat… yes… go to their website and the games are televised on one camera behind home plate. Be prepared for a very loud and obnoxious stadium announcer as that's all you'll get for commentary.You have to have the MILB TV package but it's only 29.95 for the whole season and good for all MILB televised games.

  103. Andrew - May 19, 2011 at 8:30 PM

    joemktg said… Two quick points about Zim and his early call-up: (1) he was a 3 year starter with UVA; (2) he didn't make the dramatic shift from C to OF. May 19, 2011 3:24 PM __________________________I think I have read that before and in comparison, Zim headed to A ball at 20 years old and played 4 games then Bowden moved him to Harrisburg for 2 months and then a September callup and Zim didn't look back.BHarper is 18 and has 1 year of College behind him plus Arizona Fall League,MLB Spring training, USA Team leagues, and year round baseball growing up and will accumulate 5 months of Minor League experience here in 2011. If BHarper hits over .300 in Harrisburg this year, does he deserve a September callup?It doesn't mean he starts 2012 in Washington because Rizzo is smart enough not to trigger a Super 2 any way, so the earliest would be June 2012.Yes, BHarper is learning a new position and doing well at it.

  104. Ribuld - May 19, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Thanks Grandstander. So the current Nats are a veritable powerhouse hitting team compared to their distant cousins. Strangely,(or maybe not so strange for a long time Washington baseball fan) I feel better knowing that.

  105. masnstinks - May 19, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    B Harper is 18 and should only now be graduating from high school. That "college" experience? I believe he lived at home, probably took the minimum number of credits, played ball, got drafted. Zim went to UVA – a very high -level university, where I am sure he had to take the classes and pass, for 3 years — those two experiences are light years apart when it comes to building maturity. B Harper is a great kid with a freakish talent. If they don't handle Bryce, the person, the right way, they will end up with a mess of an adult, talent or no talent.

  106. Nattydread - May 19, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    Sad. Just sad. Great pitching. Great defense. And we cant score a run to save our lives. It was more fun watching Adam Dunn strike out.

  107. George Brett - May 19, 2011 at 8:53 PM

    I believe the problem with hitters would easy to fix if the batters understood what needs to be done. There are two types of batters power hitters, and non power hitters, The method of hittinf for each group is diefferent.Unforunately every one of the Nats does the Powere hitter method. None should be doing it .Powere hitters take long powerful swings. Often miss, but when theyconnect it is usually nice.Non power hitters need a different approach. they need to shorten their swing 20-25%. They need to speed the swing (not make it harder, make it faster) about 10%. they would make much uch more contact and strike out a lot les.We have a hitting coach that allows the power hitting approach. He just needs to tell them we are no longer going to do that. And bench a few players who refuse to try and become contact hitters. The hitting coach has the control. he is the one who can keep them from getting AB. Use some power. Or get a coach who will.

  108. natsfan1a - May 19, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    Say, George, what's that on your bat? Looks like…pine tar maybe? Whoa, settle down there, big guy. (ducks and covers)

  109. Andrew - May 19, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    masnstinks said… B Harper is 18 and should only now be graduating from high school. That "college" experience? I believe he lived at home, probably took the minimum number of credits, played ball, got drafted. Zim went to UVA – a very high -level university, where I am sure he had to take the classes and pass, for 3 years — those two experiences are light years apart when it comes to building maturity. B Harper is a great kid with a freakish talent. If they don't handle Bryce, the person, the right way, they will end up with a mess of an adult, talent or no talent. May 19, 2011 4:44 PM _______________________________You make a great point in your last sentence but don't sell Bryce short. He is 18 and not like any other 18 year old you will ever meet.

  110. Anonymous - May 19, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn scores more often than the Nats.

  111. The Perfectionist - May 19, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    Al Kaline won a batting title at 20 in his third year in the majors. Harper is better than Kaline was at 18.Brett I know yous wing much shorter than any Nat. You might be right. The shorter faster swing might help. Worth a try at least.

  112. wally - May 19, 2011 at 10:11 PM

    Whew, these games were stinkers. I actually had to turn this one off. Just couldn't handle watching us turn Gee into Halladay. It is just in their heads now. Riggs ought to try picking a lineup out of his hat, or one of those crazy gestures that try to make the players believe that their luck is changing. Ballplayers are pretty superstitious, and sometimes something goofy like that makes them feel like they broke the spell.Time to crack a beer and let these go. On to Balt.

  113. Manassas Nats Fan - May 19, 2011 at 10:38 PM

    I like the picking the lineup out of a hat.

  114. Drew8 - May 19, 2011 at 10:44 PM

    The Nats have now lost seven games in which their pitchers have allowed 3 or fewer runs, four of them in which they gave up either 2 or 1.The pitchers are going to sue for nonsupport.Jeez Louise.

  115. Unkyd - May 19, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    Lock them all in a room , to watch several hours of Paul Molitor batting. For some reason, he's my ideal… His swing was so short and fast it seemed like he could wait until the ball was right in front of him, to decide if he liked it or not…..

  116. George Brett - May 19, 2011 at 11:28 PM

    unkydPaul Molitor hit the same style as me.I agree 100% they are all over swinging at least 20%, and the swing is 10% too slow.I would DH Marquis Saturday and Sunday. I bet you Riggs doesn't have the balls to do it.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 53 43 --
ATLANTA 54 44 --
NEW YORK 46 52 8.0
MIAMI 45 52 8.5
PHILADELPHIA 43 55 11.0
Through Sunday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
MON: Nats at Rockies, 8:40 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Rockies, 8:40 p.m.
WED: Nats at Rockies, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
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

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter