Skip to content

Opportunities squandered

May 28, 2011, 9:07 PM EST

US Presswire photo
Ian Desmond is thrown out trying to steal second base in the third inning.

It’s an accepted fact at this point that the Nationals don’t have the kind of lineup that’s going to consistently hammer away at opponents. They’ve established they’re only going to get a couple of legitimate chances at producing runs on a nightly basis.

Which means they’ve got to take advantage of what few opportunities they get. Not squander them the way they did during Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Padres, the latest maddening display of offensive futility from this squad.

Aside from Laynce Nix’s solo homer in the seventh, the Nationals had only two realistic scoring opportunities all afternoon. They loaded the bases in the first against starter Tim Stauffer, only to watch as Michael Morse (the club’s hottest hitter over the last week) ground into an inning-ending double play.

Perhaps more frustrating was the wasted opportunity in the eighth after Jerry Hairston led off with a double. Needing one run to tie, the Nationals instead watched as Hairston never advanced past second base. Matt Stairs flied out to shallow center field on an 0-2 pitch from reliever Mike Adams. Rick Ankiel struck out swinging at a 1-2 pitch. And Ian Desmond struck out looking at three consecutive pitches,
Read more

  1. SonnyG10 - May 28, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    I guess I might as well forget about the Nats going on a hitting streak. Doesn't seem to be in the cards.

  2. JamesFan - May 28, 2011 at 9:40 PM

    The little things get magnified in times like these. Morse swinging at the first pitch with the bases loaded after three walks is one; pinch hitting Stairs with a runner on 2d and no one out is two. But really, there is no consistency in this line up where it needs to be. This can go on a little longer, but not much.

  3. Rabbit - May 28, 2011 at 9:50 PM

    Poor Zimmerman. He didn't pitch well enough to win on most days…..he pitched well enough to win on most other teams! Yes, the Nats are sooo BAD!

  4. Anonymous - May 28, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    But really, there is no consistency in this line up where it needs to be. This can go on a little longer, but not much.Actually, its way past that point. The Padre's are reaching down to AA for players to help them get their hitting going. The Nats still have Matt Stairs on their roster. And that is on Rig and his coaches. Believe you me when Rig needs someone off the roster … Rizzo makes them disappear as he did with Brian Bruney.Wake up Rizzo! Now is the time for all good men to rise to the aid of their franchise!

  5. josh f - May 28, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    I don't usually join the boo parades after a loss, but come on — Matt Stairs has to go. Let's do what other clubs do when they hit slumps like this – bring in new pieces via callup or trade. The hitting can't get much worse.

  6. Dave - May 28, 2011 at 10:10 PM

    I know this us beating a dead horse, but during Riggleman's post-game today I was sincerely asking myself the question so many of us have posed for so long:Why is Stairs on the team? I mean by that, what is the real, bottom-line rationale for keeping him around? Are his lifetime pinch-hit numbers just so overwhelmingly good that a generous interpretation of them leads to the belief that he will soon come out of his slump? At what point must Rizzo conclude that is just not going to happen? Pudge is also a veteran past his prime, yet his contributions to the Bats are real and visible. Not so with Stairs, whose offensive vacuum becomes more glaringly obvious every time he comes to bat.

  7. Dave - May 28, 2011 at 10:12 PM

    I meant, of course, Pudge's contributions to the Nats. Damn iPhone autocorrect.

  8. Wally - May 28, 2011 at 10:23 PM

    Forget the game. I saw this on Twitter, and my heart skipped a beat at first and my stomach clenched..B1GSHOW5 Sam Vannozzi by stras37@ @stras37 heading to hospital to get my arm checked out, felt a twinge on a throw last night… could I get a Retweet 4 luck good luck?6 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply

  9. Wally - May 28, 2011 at 10:24 PM

    Sorry, should have clarified that was Stras retweeting someone else's note that they had an arm twinge.

  10. Anonymous - May 28, 2011 at 10:25 PM

    Yep, iPhone. ;)I suspect Riggleman makes that call @Dave. He is the one who decided to give Stairs the roster spot over younger candidates who could play the field including Roger Bernadina. My intuition is that if (when) the Nats reach some point … say 10-15 games under .500 and their pathetic futility continues to increase … at that point … Player Development would then have more input (perhaps even take over ) management of the 25-man roster. Have to assume it would include both position players and pitchers. At that point one would have to assume that Riggleman might also be given his severance and asked to step down.Rizzo should have waited to make his pronouncement about Harper. I see no harm in a late season call-up for their youngest prospect? By making his decree Rizzo could have done more damage than good noting that since he did that Harper's hitting has been on a precipitous decline. He no longer leads the Suns in BA.

  11. Anonymous - May 28, 2011 at 10:27 PM

    Sorry, should have clarified that was Stras retweeting someone else's note that they had an arm twinge.Clarified by Mark in previous blog-post. I thought the same thing …

  12. Anonymous - May 28, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    And that leads to the other question … how many veterans "past their prime" does this clubhouse need to "learn to win"? There are more than this team really can afford to have … and they apparently still haven't "learned to win"? Riggleman's strategy in that regard appears to have completely backfired.

  13. Anonymous - May 28, 2011 at 10:32 PM

    Tomorrow's lineup:1. Ankiel CF2. Stairs 1B Riggleman tells everyone that Stairs "needs to get going, needs to see more fastballs."

  14. Wally - May 28, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    Anon@6:27. Sorry, I didn't scroll through all that. Pretty scary moment or two, no? I did a quick search of other outlets, and since no one else was mentioning it, I figured that I had it wrong so I went back and reread it. Sheesh.

  15. SCNatsFan - May 28, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    The reason we are losing isn't Stairs; he's just convenient lightning rod for the all around anemic offense, and I suspect that when Zim returns he's gone; at this point, why DFA him when there isn't anyone to take his spot. We need to make a move to get an offensive player here, and if it means sacrificing one of our middle infielders r pitching then do it, something I've been opposed to. I understand Rizzo wants to build a team that will win low scoring games, but we have to score something to be somewhat relevant, don't we?I feel bad for Maya; he gets a start but knows if he gives up 2 runs he more then likely will lose.

  16. bdrube - May 28, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    "The Padre's are reaching down to AA for players to help them get their hitting going."The Nats can't even do that. They've got NOTHING in the minors that could help them right now. Marrero is having a very Meh season at AAA and Norris, their other most advanced position player prospect, got off to a horrible start and plays a position where they are already stacked. Lombardozzi is intriguing, but he's still pretty raw and plays the same position as Espinosa.Absent a trade we're stuck with what we've got, and I can't imagine that any hitters are available at a reasonable price who could actually help turn things around.

  17. eddie brinkman - May 28, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    Time for Harper even if he's Menzoza line this year w/8hr-31 rbi….The O sucks and will even w/Zim coming back….can't keep hoping for something that won't happen

  18. Anonymous - May 28, 2011 at 11:50 PM

    >>>Marrero is having a very Meh season at AAA<<<Marrero is having a very good season in Syracuse.

  19. HHover - May 28, 2011 at 11:52 PM

    SCNatsFanI agree about Stairs' eventual departure and the reason he's still around, but Riggleman is still responsible for when and where he chooses to play Stairs. Having him PH in the 8th, with a RISP and no outs was a lousy decision, and it's all on Riggs. He had other and better LH options on the bench–Bernie and Cora. Even on a light hitting team, Stairs stands out. Forget hitting his weight–he's in danger of not hitting his age.

  20. bdrube - May 28, 2011 at 11:55 PM

    @Anon – exactly what drugs are you on? Cause I want some. Marrero has a .274 BA, a .729 OPS and exactly four home runs out of the 1B position.

  21. SCNatsFan - May 29, 2011 at 12:04 AM

    Oh HHover I agree; its a wasted AB and it shows that accountibility means nothing to management, on this roster it seems we look at you like you were, not how you are

  22. Drew8 - May 29, 2011 at 12:25 AM

    I was sitting a few rows behind the Padres' bench and could not believe my eyes. Jerry Hairston, the tying run, was on second base with nobody out in the 9th inning.I turned to my buddy and we talked about who would come up to bunt Hairston over to third. Would it be Cora, Bernadina or Bixler? With nobody out, you obviously have to get the tying run to third, so he can score on a wild pitch, a passed ball, an error, an infield hit, a shallow single.Riggleman sent up Stairs. Honestly, I thought my head would explode. When Stairs took two strikes, the natives weren't just restless, they were angry. All around me, people were screaming: "Just swing the bat!"

  23. Drew8 - May 29, 2011 at 12:30 AM

    I meant the 8th inning. Blame it on the head explosion.

  24. Anonymous8 - May 29, 2011 at 12:50 AM

    Opportunities Squandered is the normal title around here. Just a pathetic effort today led by Jayson Werth.What does Jordan Zimmermann have to do to get a win around here?

  25. Will - May 29, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    bdrude said, "The Nats can't even do that. They've got NOTHING in the minors that could help them right now. Marrero is having a very Meh season at AAA and Norris, their other most advanced position player prospect, got off to a horrible start and plays a position where they are already stacked."That is simply not true. Stairs is currently hitting .094, and has an OPS of .219.There is quite a bit of information available to predict how a player in AAA would fare in the majors, and I'll be happy to provide you with such information. Minor League Splits actually provides a handy calculator to see just how well a hypothetical player from any minors league would fare in the majors.With that said, I took the time to calculate the worst players on Syracuse's roster to see just how bad they would be if they played for the Nats. The worst player on the Sky Chiefs, by all accounts, has been Boomer Whiting. He's posted a .448 OPS and an awful .175 AVG. Converted to the majors, that equates to a .354 OPS. Abysmal, yes, but nevertheless substantially better than Stairs' ridiculous-in-so-many-ways .219 OPS.To summarize, the worst player on the Nats AAA roster would fare better than Stairs currently is. Organizational depth, like Mike Aubrey or Tug Hulett, do not need to play every day, but could be useful (relatively compared to Stairs) role players: late innings defensive substitutions or pinch hitters.Matt Stairs has shown he is incapable of anything/everything related to baseball, and it's ridiculous that he stills has a roster spot after 50 games of futility.

  26. Anonymous - May 29, 2011 at 1:49 AM

    >>>@Anon – exactly what drugs are you on? Cause I want some. Marrero has a .274 BA, a .729 OPS and exactly four home runs out of the 1B position.<<<The biggest problem Marrero had was defensively where he was terrible for much of his time in the minors. I'm watching the Chiefs game (on right now and after making a really good defensive play, the announcers were talking about how dramatically he's improved his defense.Also, later, he blasted a double deep in center field and the announcers were talking about how much power Marrero has to all fields.Marrero is doing fine in Syracuse.

  27. Harper is Awesome - May 29, 2011 at 2:05 AM

    I was at the game last night and the crowd really seemed restless with the losing streak and when Storen let up that game tying homerun in the 9th it seemed like deja vu all over again. I was screaming at werth all night sitting only 4 rows back from the dugout (great seats really get to see the whole game). He is just a *********** who is not werth anywhere near the money he is being paid for his skill, attitude and decorum towards the fans. he doesn't give a bleep about the Nats and the fans. On the other hand Drew Storen was extremly nice and signed autographs for nearly a half an hour interacting with teh fans, etc. Also, it is a shame too see how complacent most of the fans are about losing and honestly really don't know whats going on in the game. most are too worried about other things. I really would like to see this franchise turn around and I do belive that they are in teh right direction but somedays it just makes me question if we ever are going to be able to comepte with the Phillies, Braves and other NL powerhouses. Hopefully the Nats can salvage the rest of this season by preparing for the next but isn' that what we/they say every year???

  28. Anonymous - May 29, 2011 at 2:22 AM

    I feel bad for Maya; he gets a start but knows if he gives up 2 runs he more then likely will lose.First, Maya is used to it. Syracuse had exactly the same problem. In point-of-fact they had it worse. They were the lowest scoring team in all of professional baseball … Indy League, minors, majors you name it. The solution? Move some guys around. Bring up a bat from AA Harrisburg. Release guys like Boomer Whiting. Plus bring back Aubrey from the DL. Now they are hitting and scoring. hint, hint, hint to Rizzo? If Syracuse can do it then why can't it happen for the big club? I mean I'm really tired of hearing about how "you want to win more than anyone"? Well NOT MORE THAN I or this fan: SodaPop6548: Werth's remark on Teddy getting the win is a trivial, but reasonable point. Why the losing novelty? WE HATE LOSING. At least I do"Mike Rizzo isn't it high time you put your money where your mouth is don't you think? Or at least some of the Lerner's money?Make us believers. You can start by promoting Randy Knorr tomorrow.

  29. bdrube - May 29, 2011 at 2:28 AM

    Statistics don't lie, Anon. And the statistics are saying Marero is right where he belongs right now–in AAA.

  30. Anonymous - May 29, 2011 at 2:31 AM

    Marrero has a .274 BA, a .729 OPS and exactly four home runs out of the 1B position.Its actually .279 now up to 10 doubles … and his bat is heating up. They brought up Matt Antonelli who is hitting around .364 for Syracuse plus Marerro and Aubrey have been pretty damned good in the month of May. In fact Syracuse which once looked even more pathetic offensively than the Nats has just won both games of a double header today.

  31. Anonymous - May 29, 2011 at 2:35 AM

    If Rizzo "manages" both the Syracuse Chiefs and the Nats roster … why is there such a difference in results? Syracuse coming all the way back from dead last … and the Nats seemingly endlessly mired in that losing spiral?It couldn't possibly be the manager could it?

  32. Anonymous - May 29, 2011 at 2:37 AM

    >>>Statistics don't lie, Anon.<<<Statistics lie all the time.

  33. Anonymous - May 29, 2011 at 2:49 AM

    It is Rizzo. He's just not good folks. Nice scout, lousy GM. Riggs cannot be expected to win games with this roster. — dfh21

  34. Anonymous - May 29, 2011 at 2:56 AM

    It is Rizzo. He's just not good folks. Nice scout, lousy GM. Riggs cannot be expected to win games with this roster. Riggs had as much a hand in picking this 25-man roster as Rizzo. Stairs was signed to a minor league contract … Riggleman could have easily picked Bernadina and waved bye bye to Stairs. Kimball instead of Broderick. Balester instead of Gaudin. Cora was also signed to a minor league contract. Rizzo gave Riggleman the type of good club house clean baseball players he asked for to fill in around guys like Werth, LaRoche, Zimmerman, etc. Riggleman picked the starting rotation from a lot of possibilities. Riggleman picked the relief staff from a lot of possibilities.Its Riggleman more than Rizzo for the 25-man. Rizzo, Clark, Kline, etc. more than Riggleman for the 40-man and down into the minors.

  35. Anonymous - May 29, 2011 at 3:32 AM

    "Its Riggleman more than Rizzo for the 25-man. Rizzo, Clark, Kline, etc. more than Riggleman for the 40-man and down into the minors."How do you know?What are your sources?

  36. Grandstander - May 29, 2011 at 3:34 AM

    For those still up, the move is now official. Bally's is back to the 'cuse and Maya's coming up. My question is this. Who makes this a better team, Matt Stairs or Collin Ballester? Is it not worth having an extra arm in the pen over having a "bat" on the bench that can't seem to hit and definitely can't run or field?I understand that no one in Syracuse is exactly making the case to replace his bat, but he simply cannot be used at all. Even Pudge can weakly hit a grounder to 2b to advance a runner!I'm sorry, but I just can't find any justification for keeping him on this team. The end was his DH stint in Bmore. Anyone who saw that and can still defend his presence on this team is lying to himself or us.And it's not like I think not having Stairs will make us suddenly win. It's part of the culture of this team. There's no accountability. Releasing Stairs sends a message. There's 25 men on this team. If you can't help it win games, you will go. There's no hiding, there's no getting by. Play hard or go home.

  37. Anonymous - May 29, 2011 at 3:40 AM

    I didn't see justification in signing him.

  38. Drew8 - May 29, 2011 at 3:43 AM

    I've helped lead the hand-wringer chorus, so here's a positive note to end the evening. While we wait to see whether a Pudge to San Fran deal materializes, it's great to see Derek Norris heating up in Harrisburg.In his last 10 games, Norris is hitting .343 with 5 homers and 10 RBI. For the season, he's hitting .236, which, while unimpressive, is a big improvement over his sluggish start.Norris remains very disciplined at the dish. With 20 walks in 28 games, he has a tremendous .384 on base percentage — as a catcher.I'm not suggesting he's on the fast track for Washington. I'm just happy that after a spate of injuries, including the beaning, young Mr. Norris seems back on course. Good for him.

  39. Neal - May 29, 2011 at 5:20 AM

    So today's batting odor didn't work….and it's highly doubtful that unlike the Padres, the Nats will not bring any one up from AA or AAA to try to shake up their batting odor. So, pitchers aside, here is who the Nats currently have to work with: Ankiel, Bernie, Bixler, Cora, Desi, Espi, Hairston, Morse, Nix, Pudge, Ramos, Stairs and Werth. So the name of this game is let's build a batting order out of these 13 players (cause that's all we got till R Zimm returns). Here's my shot at it in this order: Bernie, Hairston, Nix, Morse, Werth, Ramos, Espi, Desi and Pitcher. Bench: Cora, Pudge, Bixler, Ankiel and Stairs (if there no other available players left on the bench).OK Nats Fans, chime in with yours'!

  40. Neal - May 29, 2011 at 5:28 AM

    I hate to say this because I happen to think that the problem is beyond one person. However, no matter how much the players support and say that Rick Eckstein is helping them, after 50 games the hitting is apparently not improving at all. Eckstein is not getting much help either with the way that Riggleman is constructing the batting order. However, something has to change to wake everyone up now. Since you can't replace all of the players, Rick Eckstein must be replaced now in order to send a strong message to Riggleman and the players that the current conditions are not acceptable and the Nats will make any changes necessary to get this team going in the right direction. Eckstein may or may not be the problem, that no longer matters, changes must be made now. BTW, does anyone remember this headline? "Nats' Pitching Woes Cost St. Claire His Job" Washington Post Wednesday, June 3, 2009: "Nobody, in the wake of Randy St. Claire's firing yesterday, suggested he deserved total blame. Nobody suggested his replacement, Steve McCatty, would shepherd a total turnaround. St. Claire's superiors, while acknowledging that culpability for a 13-36 start ran higher, simply believed the move had to be made. St. Claire's pitchers — many of whom had known no other big league pitching coach — wished they'd pitched well enough to prevent it. Having already rearranged much of their pitching staff to little avail, the Washington Nationals fired St. Claire, their longest-tenured coach, and replaced him with McCatty, who was in his fourth season as the organization's Class AAA pitching coach. St. Claire was a casualty of the losing. Known as a diligent worker, respected for his ability to resurrect pitching careers and help sub-par talent find adequacy, St. Claire this year found no way to fix his staff. When St. Claire was notified of his firing on Monday night by acting general manager Mike Rizzo, he didn't even need an explanation. The Nationals' staff had a 5.69 ERA, worst in baseball. They'd blown 13 saves, most in baseball." It happening again, only this time it's the hitting and the coach is Rick Eckstein. Mr. Rizzo, I respectfully submit that it is time again to replace a coach.

  41. Steve - May 29, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Nats' run differential as of today: -20Nats' run differential on May 29, 2010: -19This despite the absence of their MVP, Ryan Zimmerman, for pretty much the entire season.I agree that there are some real areas that need to be dealt with, especially the continued and inexplicable inclusion of Matt Stairs on the roster. And I remain a nonfan of Riggleman and Eckstein, who both strike me as in over their heads on most occasions.However, I've seen real progress in this team in terms of defense and pitching this year. When the names Zimmerman, Werth, Harper, Espinosa and Ramos are on the lineup card on a daily basis in the next year or two — and with Strasburg and Zimmermann taking the hill every fifth day — there should be some baseball that's truly worth watching in these parts. Until then, we're looking at a continued path from awful to mediocre baseball, and hoping that good baseball is coming soon.

  42. Anomymous8 - May 29, 2011 at 1:54 PM says it all. Jayson Werth has to start making defensive plays. He isn't clutch with his bat so be clutch with your glove. Jordan Zimmermann is the best 2-6 3.88 ERA guy in the Majors. Leaves the game trailing 2-0 and all runs scored on that catchable ball to Werth.I had no problem with Werth criticizing the quality of play but turn the mirror on yourself Jayson!

  43. Feel Wood - May 29, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    "It happening again, only this time it's the hitting and the coach is Rick Eckstein. Mr. Rizzo, I respectfully submit that it is time again to replace a coach."There's a big difference between a 13-36 start following right on the heels of a 59-102 season and a 22-29 start following a 69-93 season. Big, Big difference. Historically bad vs merely underachieving. It's way too soon now to be picking coaches off the list and firing them as sacrificial lambs.

  44. Section 222 - May 29, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    Reposting here. Sorry for the duplicate comment:I've been catching up on Mark's posts and have a few thoughts that I'll leave here. First, whether or not Werth was being truthful in explaining his comments about changes being needed (doubtful), I'll be glad if his explanation makes the controversy he stoked go away. His original comments certainly didn't help the team, even if Reid's column in the Post was an overreaction. Best move for Werth was to back off. If he had to dump on the media to make his escape, so be it. They're just doing their jobs. Now let's hope he concentrates on doing his and does it better.He's right though about Teddy needing to win. The Prez race is tired and boring. If the Entertainment Committee gets the message from Werth after ignoring the obvious for several years, then good for him.LaRoche. Oh my. Readers of my comments are probably tired of hearing that I've had labrum surgery and it's a bear to recover from. Has anyone ever heard of someone coming back from that surgery in under a year? Nope, didn't think so. If LaRoche thinks he can play through this season, have the surgery in October and be back for spring training he is smoking something. If he wants to be recovered by ST in '12, he needs to have that surgery yesterday and pray. It won't work, but still. The Nats medical staff is once again falling down on the job (what else is new, see FJB's recent post) if they've told him he can wait a few more weeks before deciding whether he'll do the surgery. Adam, we hardly knew ya.Finally, yesterday's game. It's time for Stairs to go. If Riggleman really had confidence "that Matt would get it done," he was the only one in Nats Park or watching on TV that did. I don't think even Stairs had confidence. He's lost at the plate, always swinging late if he's swinging at all. Sending him up in that situation was almost an admission of defeat. As is keeping him on the roster.

  45. Anonymous - May 29, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    Another baseball season in the books. We almost made it to memorial day with a chance to finish .500. That's gone! Well theres always the Skins (nevermind) Wiz (nevermind) Caps (nevermind)





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 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: 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 Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter