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Gut-check time for Nationals

May 24, 2011, 3:23 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Jayson Werth and his teammates have arrived at a critical juncture of the season.

Remember how good everyone felt Friday night after the Nationals exploded for a club-record 17 runs, as if a 2-ton anvil had been lifted from their shoulders?

Let's see what's happened since…

– Adam LaRoche finally acknowledged his left shoulder was affecting his swing, so he went to New York to get it checked out and wound up on the DL.

– Jim Riggleman was ejected two pitches into a game on a call even the manager later admitted was correct.

– Jason Marquis threw a dugout tantrum that left Riggleman describing the right-hander as "about as upset as I've ever seen a ballplayer."

– Mike Rizzo and Ivan Rodriguez were disciplined by new MLB disciplinarian Joe Torre for their involvement in Thursday's altercationRead more ยป

  1. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    The season is slip sliding away. The only question is how deep the hole will be by the time Ryan Zimmerman returns to the lineup.

  2. Will - May 24, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    Remember when we were 20-15 on May 13th last season? Well that exact same thing happened this season. The high water mark was 2 days short of a year earlier and one game earlier: 18-18 on May 11th.It's time for Gorzelanny, Marquis, Livo and Lannan to resort to their career averages. We'll have to see if the bats ever come around. But either way, it's all down hill from here…The points of interest from here on out will be late July, when we see what we can get for Marquis, Coffey, Nix, Pudge and Ankiel, and September when we see what we can get from Meyers, Peacock, Marrero, Maya, Milone, Lombardozzi and others.

  3. UNTERP.NAT - May 24, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    This should sum it all up: When Strasburg arrives next season, they won't be any better because these players don't belong in the ML. Strasburg could pitch nine shutout innings every game and still lose 1-0 in the 10th. This organization is in serious trouble for the remainder of this season and into next, and is about to fall into an unmanageable abyss…

  4. SCNatsFan - May 24, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    I don't know what upsets me more – the Nats crashing nose dive back into the cellar or management always remaing silent and not asking for a shred of accountability from its players, never acting like they are the least bit upset that this franchise continues to sink. I'm sure if we spoke to Riggs or Rizzo we'd here how good a job Eckstein is doing, what a nice job HRod did last night or how Morse with his HR is coming around. I know criticizing the team like Wilpon did the other day isn't the answer, but for the love of Pete what does it take to get someone on this team upset? What does it take to make changes? And how freaking bad do you have to perform before either being taken to task or be shown the door?Mark, I disagree – the gut check time is for the fans and how much longer they can stand what they are watching. Right now they are pathetic.

  5. UNTERP.NAT - May 24, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    This is how bad it is and I suppose many here will concur. That a 3-0 Brewers lead after one inning is insurmountable to overcome by the Nationals. Nuff said…

  6. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    nothing has changed, really. we got a better catcher. and a better 2nd Baseman, lost the bat at 1st base. Hammer and Werth were about an even trade. with Zim gone, and crummy pinch hitting, it's a net loss.

  7. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    To this day, I will never understand how so many players can come out of Spring Training disabled, then try to play through the pain, which doesn't help them OR the team, then end up on the DL during the regular season for weeks, and even months when they are needed the most, and not be able to contribute to the team AT ALL ! This is no way to play professional sports. Something ain't right here.

  8. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    The Las Vegas under/over for this team was 71 wins. Their current record projects out to 72, and with Zim back, maybe 74-75. I agree that it's time for the fans to do a gut-check and decide if this is your team or not. Excluding the DC journalists who like to blow smoke up our skirts about playoffs and at least .500, no one else had the Nats much better than 75 wins. Man, this is who they are-love 'em or leave em' but lets quit complaining when we don't get miracles. AD

  9. sweetpearacer - May 24, 2011 at 4:14 PM

    My biggest beef right now is with the Nationals "fanbase." Yes, the management could use an overhaul. Yes, the team desperately needs to figure out what to do offensively. But the endless griping and moaning from the "fans" is NOT helping. It's the middle of freaking May! Major parts of the team are injured. That's baseball, kids. Buck up, enjoy the game, and stop being so fairweather. Defeatism breeds defeatism – and you're rubbing off on the team.

  10. UNTERP.NAT - May 24, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    sweetpearacer said… You don't complain when you purchase a new car that's always in the shop? That's the Nationals, always in the shop, six straight years in the shop. I will complain and complain loudly…

  11. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    67 wins — book it.

  12. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    Hey AD. I think after being in town for seven years, us season ticket holders should see a better product on the field. I, for one, am not asking for "miracles." I'm just asking for a .500 season (81-81) which hasn't happened since 2005, and that ain't asking for any "miracles!" When you sit in the stands as often as I do, rain or shine, hot or cold, and know that a two run deficit by the third inning usually means a Nats loss, something is very wrong with this same old inept team!

  13. SCNatsFan - May 24, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    sweetpearacer, c'mon now, we could be in the stands holding hands and singing kumbaya and this team would still be pathetic offensively. The fans aren't making the Nats play worse and after years of supporting a AAA team playing in MLB you can't blame some of us for wanting to see improvement. Real improvement.

  14. Bowdenball - May 24, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    This season ended the day it was announced that Zimmerman was out for at least six weeks. We got by on smoke and mirrors for a little while, but the organization simply doesn't have the depth needed to absorb a blow like that, thanks in large part to the mismanagement by MLB and my namesake Mr. Bowden.This team is closer to being decent then some here seem to think. But nobody in MLB- especially teams with payrolls under $100 million- can absorb a loss of a player of Zimmerman's stature. Even the well-managed Rays, with one of the deepest farm systems in baseball, hovered at .500 until Longoria came off the DL. And the Nats are no Rays.

  15. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    Children want what they want when they want it, no questions asked. For them everything is black and white. Don't ask or expect them to understand why things aren't going the way they want.

  16. Eeyore - May 24, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    The thing that gets me is that I really believe this is the best team they could put on the field right now. There is no one in Syracuse who is just screaming for a chance in the majors. Maya? Stammen? Detwiler? Swap any of them for Lannan and do you really expect a change? There are no bats ready for the big leagues either. Sure I'd like to dump Stairs, but I couldn't tell you who I want in his place. We brought up Bixler to fill the last bench spot – THAT's the best we've got? Call-ups aren't going to change anything. This is our team. Sigh.

  17. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Said it back in March……Nothing will change until Riggs is fired June 1….then the team will be .500 the rest of the way…..Riggs is a dead fish. Jayb…on the road

  18. sweetpearacer - May 24, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    @unterp: If I had a car that was always in the shop, I'd be ditching it for another one. Perhaps you should do the same? There are several other baseball teams within driving distance of DC, one of which is a recent championship team. You're not stuck with this one.@scnats: I want to see improvement, too. In fact, I've seen it. This team is a vast improvement over last season. There are still holes to fill and they're not going to happen overnight. Bitching on the internet isn't going to speed up the process.

  19. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    Let's not kid ourselves. Even with a healthy Zimm and LaRoche and a productive Werth, this is NOT an especially good hitting roster.Ramos, Desmond and Espinosa are young and still learning to adjust to major league pitching (except maybe for Desmond), Morse has always been a question mark and Ankiel, Cora, Hairston, Nix, Bixler, Pudge and Stairs aren't very good hitters.Then, when we add that our starters aren't as good as their hot starts, we're looking at a 90+ loss season.

  20. UNTERP.NAT - May 24, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    sweetpearacer said…Since I don't know you, I won't suggest to you how you should feel. I'll just say this in reply so you'll know a little about me. I don't attend one high school just to root for the high across the city to beat the one I attend, but unlike high school this is a professional high paying team and I contribute to their salary, and I expect a better product for my money…

  21. A DC Wonk - May 24, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    This negativity of the comments section here is completely off-the-charts and utterly ridiculous. It's not even worth responding to all the slams against the Nats here (I don't have an hour). Sheesh — it's like I walked into a vicious Orioles board or something . . .

  22. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 5:16 PM

    @scnats: I want to see improvement, too. In fact, I've seen it. This team is a vast improvement over last season.They've improved in one or two areas and steeply declined in others? They still have yet to solve the problem of lead-off and who bats 2nd. They haven't had a good #2 hitter since Werth was doing it, and before him Nick Johnson. They should have tried Willingham there last season to take the onus off of Morgan a bit. Starting pitching has improved. But two starters, Livo and Marquis really shouldn't be there. Zimmermann begins to look like a bonafide #1/#2 starter. Gorzelanny has suddenly declined allowing too many homers. Lannan is still the 5-6 ERA pitcher he will always be. So, no dramatic improvement there until some of the boys on the Syracuse roster assert themselves in the majors and Strasburg comes back.The heart of the order: the 3,4,5 steeply, inexorably DECLINED this season. No and, ifs or buts about it. With Zim injured you just have the equivalent of Willingham in Werth. Better fielder, more athletic … still!! (As Boz put it.). NO OBP at the top, (and tonight we see Rig fav Ankiel starting and batting second and that's an improvement? I'd rather see made-of-glass Nick Johnson!!!), no one who can consistently drive them in in the heart. Right now the leading RBI guy is Espinosa who mostly bats near the bottom and as a rookie is still learning the ropes? Oh yes the bullpen. H-Rod looks better than Clippard. Vastly better, yet "the manager" can't trust him? Kimball looks good. Burnett and Slaten (the left side) have been inconsistent. Storen has looked good but they have already reached a point where having a closer is superfluous … as it was when they had Capps and were mired in last place.Improvement? Its not even a wash at this point. Its actually worse than last year.

  23. UNTERP.NAT - May 24, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    this is a professional high paying team and I contribute to their salary, and I expect a better product for my money… Or maybe I shouldn't since the payroll is very low, LOL…

  24. NatsFanTom - May 24, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Settle down everybody. Look, Zimmerman, LaRoche, and Strasburg are all on the DL, and someone was suggesting that fans consider switching allegiance to Philly or Baltimore? Are you nuts?? These guys will get healthy again, Harper will be up in another year or so, and we'll get a good FA or two this winter. Sure, it's a tough time, but it is a vastly different scenario than in years past. As for Riggles, I like and respect the guy a lot, but I simply don't know what the alternatives are. I don't want to get rid of him just to get rid of him. That would be an emotion-driven decision, and everyone should keep their cool in times like this. Again, settle down and order another beer.

  25. SCNatsFan - May 24, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    If you see improvement other then in our pitching then I'm watching a different team. Ramos has improved our catching but it wasn't like Pudge lit it on fire the second half of the year, otherwise positionally I think we've taken a step backwards; Desmond is showing he is capable but not spectacular and Espi shows potential – ah, the word you use when someone is playing bad. Morse and Ankiel are showing they are spare parts, nothing more. I want to believe, I really do, but I watch this team with my eyes, not my heart, and I see little if any improvement other then our arms. If that makes me a bad or fair weather fan then so be it but you don't see me calling you a lemming just because you are seeing what you want, not what you actually see.

  26. Scooter - May 24, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    Mark Zuckerman said:Mike Rizzo and Ivan Rodriguez were disciplined …???I'm sure today's surfing will turn up an in-depth article somewhere, but for now, can anyone provide a one- or two-sentence summary? Tanks.

  27. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Rizzo has to shoulder the blame for this club not performing. This has been his club since Spring training 2009. The guy is a rookie GM and it shows. He has given the fans awkward and flawed rosters and he shows no signs of slowing down. Last year he added an innings eater, a non-tendered closer and a couple of vet back-ups to a historically bad club, which then went on to finsih last, again. This year he added Werth at a Gajillion point five Dollars, a nice, yet unspectacular, 1B, some retread bench guys and a couple of long shot Rule Five guys to his yet again last place finishing team, which is now last in the standings.It is not OK to lose in MLB, Mike seems to think that it is. He thinks that Desmond and Espinosa, both of whom are wildly over-matched at the plate every night, should be playing every day in the bigs (Desmond in the 2 hole no less!), yet he also thinks that no matter how well Harper plays in the minors he needs to stay there. He's confident that he knows what he is doing, I wish that I was too, I wish the record showed him to be some above the curve getting it done smart guy, but it does not. I want Rizzo either to start making moves that help the club perform better right now or to go back to being a scout and leave the GM gig to someone who can get results.

  28. Bowdenball - May 24, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    Unterp-Unless you live in the District of Columbia, you're not being forced to contribute a single cent. If you don't like the product, spend your dollar elsewhere. Or tell the purveyors of the product how you feel. But you can't expect that casting overly negative totally unfair aspersions in a public forum about the product would go without consequences. The same thing would happen in the comments on amazon.com or Consumer Reports or something if you took a negative review too far. People would dismiss you as an angry, bitter person instead of a voice worth listening to about the product. And that's what's happening here, when you say a 3-0 first inning lead is "insurmountable" even though this team came back from a 3-1 NINTH inning lead just two weeks ago. Or when you say that there's no way the team will be any better next season without knowing how the young players will develop, or if they'll sign free agents, or if Zimmerman and LaRoche will be healthy and productive. When you say crazy things, people treat you like a crazy person.

  29. VP81955 - May 24, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    I understand the defeatism among the fan base — it's part of the inherent fatalism about being a Washington baseball fan. I think Rizzo has made some progress with the farm system, improving it from horrid to mediocre, but aside from Strasburg and Harper there isn't that much on the farm. Forget Riggleman for now — you could blend Connie Mack, John McGraw, Casey Stengel and Sparky Anderson and not turn this impotent bunch into a contender. The Lerners need to fully replenish scouting, which has never completely recovered from Jeffrey Loria absconding with the best Montreal personnel a decade ago. That won't happen overnight, which admittedly won't please a fan base that views baseball through the ignorant quick-fix Dan Snyder perspective (it doesn't work that way, folks), but it's the only way to build a contender in Washington for the first time since the 1940s.

  30. Steve M. - May 24, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Will said… Remember when we were 20-15 on May 13th last season? Well that exact same thing happened this season. The high water mark was 2 days short of a year earlier and one game earlier: 18-18 on May 11th.Looks like my previous post went to Mark's SPAM again!I thought the same thing and the one common demominator was Rizzo sat on his hands and didn't make improvements other than essentially DFAing Bruney like he did with Broderick.Every team has to make adjustments at the 30 day mark and like I said the Nats were the last team to DFA a player (Broderick).The problem is Rizzo lacks total vision in all facets of the job which makes him middle of the road although he is new at it and hope he can improve. He may be good on evaluating young talent but you have to also make changes on the 'fly' and he hasn't been able to do that. The fact that Stares is still here tells me that he doesn't get it. The fact Slaten is STILL here tells me he doesn't get it. The fact it took this long to DL LaRoche tells me he doesn't get it.

  31. UNTERP.NAT - May 24, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    Bowdenball said…Unfortunately, you make my argument. Precedence speaks for itself…

  32. Steve M. - May 24, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    Eeyore said…The thing that gets me is that I really believe this is the best team they could put on the field right now. There is no one in Syracuse who is just screaming for a chance in the majors. Maya? Stammen? Detwiler? Swap any of them for Lannan and do you really expect a change? There are no bats ready for the big leagues either. Sure I'd like to dump Stairs, but I couldn't tell you who I want in his place. We brought up Bixler to fill the last bench spot – THAT's the best we've got? Call-ups aren't going to change anything. This is our team. Sigh. May 24, 2011 12:29 PM I'm still holding the same stance I had on March 30th when the final roster was set.You take Nix over Stairs and Bernadina over Stairs and I still felt Alberto Gonzalez made a better utility guy then Cora (probably not a large statistical difference).I said on that day that Detwiler should be retained and made into a Jonny Venters 8th inning guy instead of keeping Slaten.I also said weeks before that Ryan Zimmerman would lose time and play in 140+ games never thinking it could be worse than even that.Even I couldn't envision things getting as bad as they are starting with:1) Ryan Zimmerman out 2 to 3 months for abdominal surgery2) LaRoche being totally worthless as a hitter3) Dead last in team BA 4) Matt Stairs no RBIs and ZERO hits with RISPIf you were told the above 4 items you would think the season would be a total bust and on the good side:1) Nats would be 10th in Team ERA2) Rookies emerging in the clutch (Ramos & Espi)3) Catcher position #2 in team RBIs with 254) 9 game errorless streak at one point in May5) Coffey has allowed ZERO inherited runners to score6) Drew Storen would have a 21-inning scoreless streak So again, I will call it like I did a few month ago. Rizzo FAILED on many fronts on this team and has done nothing to improve this team other than DL'ing Gaudin and DFA'ing Broderick. Detwiler is struggling once again in the Minors and could have opened the season on a high note as a vital part of Nats 2011 (as I suggested) and instead is the same old miserable starter that I predicted. Stairs is worse than anyone could have predicted but never should have been on this roster. The biggest Rizzo FAIL was not having a suitable replacement for Nyjer at leadoff. I really like Roger Bernadina and he has helped this team but I see him as a bench role player.I suggested Rizzo trade Lannan as I saw him as the only one who could get value during Spring Training and now the Nats are stuck with him and his regression back to his 2010 form. The other thing is Riggleman started the year as a "small ball" manager or as he calls it in his commercial "smart ball" and he has gotten away from that. I liked that he had a quicker hook on his pitchers and utilized the studs in his bullpen to shut down games. Now he doesn't do that. I liked where he created runs using small ball at the beginning of the season and he isn't doing that anymore as he is trying to create big innings that haven't been happening except 3 times this year.The Nats were the last team in the MLB to actually DFA a player. I love team chemistry but keeping guys like Broderick, Gaudin, Slaten, and Stairs with as many fails as they have accumulated is not smart baseball.

  33. UNTERP.NAT - May 24, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    just two weeks ago…

  34. Sec 3, My Sofa - May 24, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    @scooter, from mlb.com"MILWAUKEE — Nationals' general manager Mike Rizzo was disciplined and catcher Ivan Rodriguez was fined for their roles in a dispute with umpires last week in New York, a Major League Baseball source said on Monday.The league will not release the details of the discipline or the amount of the fine, the source said, confirming a story first reported by The Washington Post.Umpire Phil Cuzzi called Jayson Werth out in a close play at first in the ninth inning of Thursday night's 1-0 loss to the New York Mets. Replays showed that Mets first baseman Daniel Murphy's foot came off the bag and that Werth was safe.After the game, members of the Nationals' team argued with the umpires. Rizzo, who was unavailable for comment before Monday night's game at Milwaukee, said last week that the incident didn't have anything to do with the close play in the ninth inning.The source said the league now considers the matter closed."

  35. fpcsteve - May 24, 2011 at 5:56 PM

    Let's briefly review the criticism of Riggleman. It sounds just like the critiques that were directed at Acta. "He can't manage. He is inept. he has no fire. Get rid of the guy." Well, that same guy has led the Indians to the best record in the majors. Turns out he is a good, maybe great, manager. The criticism of Riggleman is unimaginative, predictable, and off base. It's about the players, and right now some of our most impoprtant players are banged up. Riggleman didn't injure Zimmerman, LaRoche, or Strasburg. NatsFanTom is right–settle down. Let's get people healthy. We have a ton of baseball left to play. Let's play 'em all and see what happens. One thing is for sure: firing Riggleman won't improve the health of the club and thus its performance.

  36. Scooter - May 24, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Thanks, Sec3. Explains why Zuckerman didn't provide more details: there aren't any.

  37. Steve M. - May 24, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    fpcsteve, Riggleman is a good manager but this team started off well by good starting pitching and a great bullpen and small ball, and now he is stretching the starters out too long with the exception of Marquis Friday night and blowing the leads.Once Jordan Zimmerman got you through the 6th winning 1-0, you turn it over to your rested bullpen as the team just wasn't producing on offense again.Also, Riggleman has been managing to the big offensive innings instead of small ball to score the runner from 2nd and 3rd and it isn't happening with any consistency.Friday was an anomaly (unfortunately) with all the offense.

  38. UNTERP.NAT - May 24, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    I mean "precedents"…

  39. Steve M. - May 24, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    fpcsteve, also give Manny Acta credit for changing his approach. New team, new start. He is a lot more emotional and attached now and has backed up his players. He is creating a positive environment and the team is responding.He was not in Washington at the right time for him. The good news is he is a better manager today.I like Manny and supported him while he was here just like I am supporting Riggleman. Just because I question some decisions doesn't mean I want someone fired. My pet peeves are with the GMs office. Rizzo made the same 2010 'Dukesian' mistake when he traded Nyjer without a replacement. Huge error in approach and that seems to be the start of it. Compound that with a few lousy off-season acquistions and injuries and you have what you have.To me the Sunday game in Baltimore was crucial and win-able if Riggleman used his early April approach rather than his new one.

  40. still waiting........ - May 24, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    i read somewhere recently where Giggleman has the worst winning percentage of any manager with 10 or more years experience since 1900.that says it all. he isnt a good manager. even a decent manager gets more out of their players.and if you want to go with the "he never had a good team" argument, there is probably a good reason for that too.why bring in a manager that may raise expectations when you have an inferior product?

  41. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    The problem is Rizzo lacks total vision in all facets of the job which makes him middle of the road although he is new at it and hope he can improve.And herein lies the crux of it. And where fpcsteve and I diverge. Rizzo knows all there is to know about player development, scouting, how to find, sign and develop prospects. How to build a major league franchise's minor league development system and operations.What he is not good at, and has not had experience in; is in the major league roster and the major league product. Here is where he has been relying a bit too much on a very average manager with the worst winning percentage in the history of major league baseball since 1900. Jim Riggleman. The bench and most all of the so-called marginal players are likely Riggleman's idea. Boz himself commented during his chat on how Riggleman chose Gaudin and Broderick. That it was Riggleman who was at fault for the initial bullpen … now since rectified by Rizzo. You need only look at Riggleman's MASN commercials to know for absolute certain that Rick Ankiel, starting CF and batting 2nd is entirely Riggleman's idea. We could go on? Sure Desmond and Espinosa: Rizzo. Werth definitely Rizzo. Are we sure Dunn and Willingham are all Rizzo or was Mr. "smart ball" involved in wanting a cleaner fielding/cleaner baseball playing roster? The guy absolutely comes alive talking about his "smart ball". But its not "smart ball" when the top of the order have really poor OBP's. Historically, most especially, Rick Ankiel.In the end both share responsibility but based on what I've seen and heard Riggleman should get the brunt of the blame for the performance of the major league roster. In Syracuse Randy Knorr had these same problems yet somehow found a way to get the offense going … whether it will be enough to see the Chiefs to a winning record? And please let's not use losing Zimmerman or even LaRoche as an excuse? Riggleman picked his bench he, as a major league manager decided these guys were the safe bet over AGonz et al? Bixler is riding the pine and only really pinch runs for Stairs. Riggleman picked this. It was HIS CHOICE. And, yes he should pay because, unlike Rizzo, there is no vastly improved minor league system and front office to look at and say, he is still learning maybe he'll improve once he learns the ropes? Riggleman has had his chances and as a result is the proud owner of the worst winning percentage in major league baseball history since 1900. Period.These are mostly Riggleman's players. The "filler" between what Rizzo decreed for the initial depth chart through free agency signing and promising rookies/2nd year men and what we see today has Riggleman's signature on it. Including, most particularly, Matt Stairs. Cora, Hairston, Ankiel, etc., etc. Are there better options than Riggleman? Yes, I think so. I think Knorr would make a better major league manager without all the drama a Valentine would bring.

  42. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    If we only had Manny Acta back, everything would be fine…

  43. SCNatsFan - May 24, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    This team has problems that firing Riggs and DFAing Stairs won't solve. Maybe its time to move some of the stockpile of young arms we have for a hitter.

  44. fpcsteve - May 24, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    Steve M, I take your points. Well put. What you have to say about small-ball and pitching is interesting. My frustration rests on the implicit and usually unstated belief that the Nats should be in the thick of things. Thanks to MLB, we still have a long way to go. The Nats' next great manager will be the man who has a healthy Strasburg, Harper on the roster, and players who have become experienced in these tough times and on our farm teams. VP81955 is right–even the best managers ever would have their hands full with the circumstances the Nats are currently facing.

  45. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    It's about the players, and right now some of our most impoprtant players are banged up. Riggleman didn't injure Zimmerman, LaRoche, or Strasburg.That's a poor and pathetic excuse fpcsteve. In fact Boz is the one who characterized it as such? Riggleman specifically picked the bench that he wanted that he knew might have to go in and replace players like Zimmerman and LaRoche. He chose these guys (including Stairs) over younger players who might just be better like Alberto Gonzalez? Even Morgan. Riggleman picked Ankiel in spite of his historically poor offense (bench player if that) and batted him 2nd??? Riggleman picked his poison.Just as Steve M said, "The problem is Rizzo lacks total vision in all facets of the job which makes him middle of the road although he is new at it and hope he can improve.", Rizzo appears to be very good at resurrecting player development, scouting and signing prospects and bring farm systems back from the dead. That is his, and his FO's specialty. He may not be as good building the major league product through trades, and acquiring free agents. He is relying on a very average manager with the worst winning percentage in the history of major league baseball since 1900 … now currently .442. The bench, the "filler", the so-called marginal players like Ankiel are on Riggleman. As Boz noted in his chat when asked who was responsible for Gaudin and Broderick. Rizzo picked the initial depth chart spoke to who he wanted to see play every day … but after that … its all Riggleman. You can see it in his commercials on MASN, he comes alive talking about his "smart ball", yet without the high OBP hitters at the top of the order it ends up being "futile ball". Riggleman has no redeeming qualities. There are other options such as Knorr (who appears to have brought Syracuse out of their offensive doldrums) in Syracuse. Riggleman is definitely NOT the only option.

  46. Water23 - May 24, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    Getting a player will cost and if we are not in it until next year then maybe we should acquire them in the off-season via FA? Especially if things continue and we have a protected 1st round pick.Don't get me wrong, I would love to see Bourn or Reyes in the #1 spot and generating offense but the cost for an in-season pick up might be too much.

  47. spaminator - May 24, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    Looks like my previous post went to Mark's SPAM again!Same here. Draconian measures … circle the wagons MASN/CSN/Nats!

  48. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    Now we know why Stan Kasten threw in the towel on this franchise. He just plain gave up trying to work with the Lerner family.

  49. phil dunn - May 24, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Maybe Manny Acta has changed. The only thing I know is that when he was here he was either too lazy or too timid to argue with an umpire when the ump blew a call. At least Riggleman will do that. Both were hired because they would work on the cheap and that will be the number criteria for hiring the next manager.

  50. UNTERP.NAT - May 24, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" LOL…

  51. PAY TO PLAY - May 24, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Phil, you are soooo cynical. Everything comes down to dollars and cents with you instead of dollars and sense.Riggleman is a quality big league Manager who can handle a team with a few egos and developing talent. Give him time.

  52. 2 argue or not to argue - May 24, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    phil dunn said… Maybe Manny Acta has changed. The only thing I know is that when he was here he was either too lazy or too timid to argue with an umpire when the ump blew a call. At least Riggleman will do that.—————————————–And how has either approach worked for them? Acta felt that it would do no good arguing with the ump because they weren't going to reverse the call or give them a makeup call later on, so why bother? Riggs does it and he gets the same result — still more bad calls against the Nats.Sure, one could argue that the players might see the manager argue on their behalf and that it might rally them up, but I haven't seen anything close to that when Riggs comes out arguing.

  53. Mike In DC - May 24, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    I just want a manager who doesn't sac bunt with a position player at the plate, and who doesn't suffer two strike em out/throw em out double plays in the same game. This team actually has power top to bottom, but it's not managed that way.I don't mind having a manager who's not a stats guy, but don't play small ball for the sake of playing small ball.

  54. Mark Zuckerman - May 24, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    Regarding some of your comments getting tagged as spam, it appears to happen on especially long comments or sometimes those that have links embedded. If you ever notice it happening, shoot me a quick email or post a quick comment noting that you think your comment was tagged as spam.

  55. Sec 3, My Sofa - May 24, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    Personally, Riggleman lost me last year, but I'm starting to feel more sympathetic. He over-manages because, hey, he's got to try *something*. He's got a rotation of 4th and 5th starters, he's starting 2 fourth outfielders, starting three bench guys on the infield with a shortstop who is, as Bill Walsh used to say, "just good enough to lose." He's got three, maybe four guys in the bullpen he trusts in a close game, but virtually every game they lead in is a close game–you can't pitch the same three guys in 100+ games a year.It makes me nuts when he double-switches out the one guy he's got who homered in the game, but he's got a tough gig.

  56. Tim - May 24, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    It seems to me that in this three-week make-or-break period, the Nats are severly handicapped: no Zim or LaRoche, 2/3 of the top players on the team. I agree that things could spiral downward, but i'm not sure I can get a fair read on this team because of that. After all, when those players are out, everyone else gets pitched differently, not to mention the effect it has on team morale.So, will this be a 100-loss team? Maybe… now that injuries have gouged our lineup. For us to compete, we need everyone to stay healthy and the season to go perfectly. Remember, this isn't our year.

  57. masnstinks - May 24, 2011 at 7:59 PM

    Ok – I love the game of baseball, I love having a home team. The Nats appear to be my team because it doesn't feel like a choice anymore, kind of like family. The ups and downs can be frustrating, kind of like my real life, actually. Riggleman — who knows what kind of a manager he would be with the right players ( the healthy kind). I can't stop watching and hoping – is there a 12 -step program? Should we start one? Win or lose, it distracts me from my own personal stresses and the problems in the world. There are worse things to be addicted to, I guess.

  58. Tim - May 24, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    Mike in DC: Power top to bottom? Hairston, Cora, Pudge? Come on.We neednto play tight, small ball. We need to hit n run which leads to strike em out/throw em out DPs. We need to bunt, steal bases, and go from first to third. I like the aggressive way we play. Are there side effects? Sure. I still like it.

  59. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    "To me the Sunday game in Baltimore was crucial and win-able if Riggleman used his early April approach rather than his new one."So you're saying that Riggleman's new Sunday approach of getting ejected on the second pitch was not the right one? Tell me, what might Riggleman have done differently on Sunday to win that game?

  60. Feel Wood - May 24, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    "Riggleman — who knows what kind of a manager he would be with the right players ( the healthy kind)."Let's look at his career record then. He has the worst W-L record of any manager in history to manage 10+ seasons. Are you saying he's never in that time had the right players to be a good manager? Or is he just a mediocre manager at best (the more likely scenario)?

  61. Anonymous - May 24, 2011 at 8:23 PM

    Mark could you please speak to the constant assertion by an anonymous poster on here with a pathological hatred of Jim Riggleman that the roster construction is Riggleman's and Riggleman's alone without any input from Mike Rizzo or any of his FO staff? It is becoming an embarrassment and makes Nats fans look really stupid. Not to mention annoying to read ALL the time on this fine site. You can find many things not to like about the manager but this desperate desperate fan should really be put out of his misery by having a member of the press that has covered this team from the start explain how an MLB team ACTUALLY works. Seriously, if your Manager comes on the cheap and will work for peanuts does it make any sense to say that he is the guy that makes ALL roster decisions? If that sounds crazy it probably is.

  62. JD - May 24, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    Steve M. I completely reject your notion that Zimmermann should have been removed after 6 innings with a 1-0 lead. He was cruising; with a low pitch count and was likely to do better than any of the bullpen choices. Hindsight is 20/20 but strategy type criticism should not be based on the eventual outcome but whether or not the decision made sense before the fact and it did.

  63. Manassas Nats Fan - May 24, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    MLB considers the case closed. Rizzo disciplined and Rodriguez fined. One part was missing. What about the incompetent Phil Cuzzi? He just walks away with another bad call under his belt. Is Joe Torre going to fix him too, or just let him ride.As for field performance, I wish the players would perform to to win all the time.

  64. Nationals Rapture Shark - May 24, 2011 at 8:48 PM

    Hmmm I'm not quite up to devouring anInterim Jim … But from white cap andtrough I spy a tasty, rounded morsel offthe shores of Giggleman's Isle! It's MartyStairs! Ahoy I'll just devour him first. Giveme surplus energy to pursue cagier and faster fish like an Ankiel oran Interim Jim.Ahhh, slow, sluggish and near sighted youcan tell by his swing! I wonder if tasteslike chicken?

  65. Rabbit - May 24, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    Let's put this article and the Nats in perspective….Blah Blah Blah……Blah Blah Blah…..Blah Blah Blah….we've heard it all before, been through it all before, and are not suprised we are going through it again. This is nothing more than a team of mannequins.

  66. SonnyG10 - May 24, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    Man,could you negative posters start your blog with Neg: or something to indicate its negative. I'm having a hard time trying to enjoy the Nats while they're playing bad and don't want to read a lot of negative crap on this site. If you mark your posts as negative, then I could just skip right over them.

  67. Cwj - May 24, 2011 at 8:55 PM

    Who here realistically expected playoff contention from the Nats this season?Wasn't this supposed to be the "hold-over" year until 2012 when Stras (and possibly Harper) will be on the Team?The Nats are fine for now. Unterp- your negativity is getting obnoxious

  68. Cwj - May 24, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    SonnyG10- I'm right there with you!Go Nats!

  69. LoveDaNats - May 24, 2011 at 9:03 PM

    I kind of agree with masnstinks. Just because I complain about them doesn't mean I won't continue to support them. Just cause I'm not a major league manager doesn't mean I don't second-guess Riggleman. But being a Nats fan is kind of like banging your head against a wall. When we were down 3 runs in the 1st, yeah, I decided to watch something else. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior (sorry, Dr. Phil) and when I've seen loss after loss and the Nats fall apart, it's frustrating. That doesn't mean I won't be front and center for the next game, hoping for a different outcome. Sometimes we need to let off steam and vent to someone who feels as passionate as we do. My friends and family aren't, so you lucky "insiders" get to hear the rant.GO Nats!

  70. A DC Wonk - May 24, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    As for the comment: "Let's look at his career record then. He has the worst W-L record of any manager in history to manage 10+ seasons. Are you saying he's never in that time had the right players to be a good manager? Or is he just a mediocre manager at best (the more likely scenario)? "Yadda yadda yadda. I'm an old Mets fan. Folk said the same thing about Joe Torre. He came to the Mets and had three straight last place finishes. His last full 162-game season with the Mets, he got 'em up to fifth place.It's amazing what you can do with good players (and how little you can do without good players)

  71. Don - May 24, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    To be honest I'm not sure why everyone is so upset. We all came into this season knowing they would win around 75 games, a .462 avg. Todays average is .447, not too far off.Considering the injuries and that 4 or 5 of the postion players (depends who's playing) have played less than 2 years and most are starting for the first year at this level. I'm pretty happy about where this team is. If everyone will remember, last year the score was 6 – 0 at the top of the 3rd more often than not.The Nats are playing where everyone expected, not where everyone wishes. Is it frustrating, yes, but can we please stop screaming for everyone to be either fired or bat 8th. It's getting a bit tedious.-Don

  72. Cwj - May 24, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    LoveDaNats- Good points. But sometimes the rants are by the same people who say the same thing over and over and over again.I enjoy reading most comments, and of course I can whine with the best of them on rare occasions when I'm in a bad mood. But what I don't understand are the negative posters who own season tickets (a luxury I can't afford), and talk as if they would rather see no game than a game where the home team loses.

  73. JaneB - May 24, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    Me tooSonny10.You're a fan or you aren't. It used to be people shouted at the TV when they didn't likes play or a move or a manager. Now people shout on line, and get each all ginned up.Anyone who thought THIS team wa going to be a contender this year either is sniffing glue or wasn't paying any attention at all. So why are you so worked up? We HAVE made an improvement at second base. Defense on first is better than with Dunn. You got rid of Nyjer. Given the pieces we have, and the injuries, trul what more could you be asking for? They are where they are. Send good schtuff their way, not venom. They will lose again and again this season, until they win. Then they will lose again. Then baseball season will be over, and we will (some of us) moan about THAT. Enjoy what's there to enjoy.Go Nats!

  74. Cwj - May 24, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    JaneB- That's what I meant to say :)

  75. Anonymous - May 25, 2011 at 12:08 AM

    Too bad. I am facing it now — the Nats stink. All the off-season tinkering has left this pitiful team still full of holes.Pitching has been good! And that's what is so frustating; their hitting is beyond bad. They have too many career .260 hitters combined with a young one or too that simply show they don't have it to make it in the bigs.La Roche — a gross waste of moneyWerth – good players, underperforming, overpaidRamos: getting better — bright futureDesmond: total loser – can't hit, can't field — how did he ever make the big leagues?Hairston and Cora: old, career .250 guys — thats it.Bernadina: jury is out — showing promiseEspinosa: two or three years away from learning to hitNix: At least he doesnt get cheated at the plate.Pudge: still a fine player — no powerAnkiel: face it, he's been washed up for 3 yearsEckstein: If it's his idea to take so many pitches – fire his butt.Forget this season — it's already lost.

  76. Anonymous - May 25, 2011 at 12:15 AM

    Desmond: What's his deal? He's afraid of hard hit balls, doesnt seem able to judge short hops — where did this kid learn to play ball? Takes strike one — down the middleWill take strike two down the middleThen, swings at an outside curveball in the dirt — strike three — This kid will never amount to anything. Ever

  77. Anonymous - May 25, 2011 at 12:16 AM

    If the Nats can't chase Narveson, they should be ashamed.

  78. Cwj - May 25, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    Anon 8:08 (or any other Neg. Anon.)- they stink? Wow what a great analysis. Almost as good as your expert analysis of the players you listed. Show me the stats.BTW, where are the pitchers? What are your thoughts on the Bullpen? That Storen really stinks doesn't he? After all, he gave up a couple runs the other night.

  79. VP81955 - May 25, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    For all those who blast Riggleman (and I admit I occasionally find fault in some of his moves, as I would do with any manager), how does his W-L percentage compare to Casey Stengel's if you took Casey's Yankee years out of the equation (in other words, Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves, New York Mets)? Those are essentially the types of teams Riggleman has been handed throughout his career.2011 has been a frustrating year, especially since it doesn't appear the Nats have enough to overtake the Mets for fourth place at a time the Mets appear susceptible. Nevertheless, there has been some progress made in a few areas (starting pitching, infield defense, throwing out baserunners). After two-thirds of a century without seeing significant September baseball in this town, it's difficult to be patient, but things are starting to jell. Will it be enough to complement Strasburg (if he returns 100%, or even close) or Harper? The jury is out on that one.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
x-WASHINGTON 87 63 -- 0
ATLANTA 75 76 12.5
MIAMI 73 77 14.0
NEW YORK 73 79 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 69 81 18.0
Through Tuesday's early games
x-Clinched division title
UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
THU: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats 7:05 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

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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.
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