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Same old, same old

May 30, 2011, 10:26 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Alex Cora gets caught in a rundown in the bottom of the seventh.

There are any number of ways to analyze the Nationals’ 5-4 loss to the Phillies Monday afternoon, parsing Sean Burnett’s ragged relief appearance or Alex Cora’s baserunning or the entire lineup’s hitting approach with men in scoring position.

Within all that may be the answer that explains the Nationals’ third one-run loss in as many days. But there’s really only one pertinent fact about this game, one that needs not be analyzed, only articulated by Sean Burnett.

“Score four off Halladay and hit three home runs,” the reliever said. “That’s a game we should win.”

Indeed, given their atrocious history against Roy Halladay (now 11-1 with a 2.21 ERA in his career against this franchise) the Nationals must have been pinching themselves to actually put a minor hurting on the Philadelphia ace. They got solo homers from Michael Morse, Danny Espinosa and Laynce Nix, recorded at least one hit in each of
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  1. JayB - May 30, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    June 1st is the day….Riggs is not the only problem but firing him would be the best solution. He has become the poster child for losing just like Acta. Rizzo is more to blame for not doing what was needed in the off season but that's not how the chain works…..AND Lerner has the most to answer for going back to 2006/7/8/9 and refusing to spend…..but again that is not how this goes…..SO….it is time for Riggs to pay the price….as I said he would.

  2. FS - May 30, 2011 at 11:02 PM

    Hey another top first round pick next year. Farm system will get better, right?

  3. Che - May 30, 2011 at 11:11 PM

    Someone needs to overthrow the puppet regime that passes for leadership in this team. Cast aside the freeloaders who stand in the way of Nationals success. My friends, I demand a coup! Who is with me? Viva la revolucion!

  4. baseballswami - May 30, 2011 at 11:11 PM

    Funny how none of the tv personalities, coaches , players ever talk about the elephant in the room – Matt Stairs. They certainly NEVER utter his name in Rigg's presence. As long as he is put in to pinch hit in a clutch situation, we are going to lose one-run games. Yes, there were other things in the game that could have been the difference, but the other guys take turns being the goat and owning up to it. The other guys sometimes get the clutch hit, make the defensive play to end an inning. He has absolutely no value to this team, other than being a nice guy. And even that has to be getting old. He has some kind of protective force field around him that I just don't get.

  5. Eugene in Oregon - May 30, 2011 at 11:26 PM

    Let's assume JayB and Che are right, the revolution takes place, and Riggelman departs on or about June 1. Who replaces him? Do Rizzo and the Lerners go for a big name? Or a no-name 'interim' until the end of the season?

  6. Get Some Players - May 30, 2011 at 11:33 PM

    The real answer is a change at the top and unfortunately that is not gonna happen soon. If Riggleman is fired they will go for the cheapest option.

  7. Fidel - May 30, 2011 at 11:36 PM

    My Aunt Linda is available and will work cheap. She can't run this team any worse! At this point any change is positive. Run the team as a collective without the capitalists at all. Power to the players!

  8. yankish2 - May 30, 2011 at 11:41 PM

    You guys are frustrated; firing Riggleman won't do anything. Hairston will still be at 3rd base, Desmond will still be striking out on outside curveballs, Stairs will still be pinch hitting, and Mike Morris will still wear his designer sun glasses. The only answer is better players but you guys don't need to be told that.

  9. Gonat - May 30, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    People, Riggleman isn't the problem here although his hands aren't clean as he has made mistakes that are magnified by the poor stretch. This team is actually a lot closer than you all think if Rizzo makes the changes that need to be made. Rizzo is the bigger problem and he isn't going away so let's just hope that he keeps improving the 'farm' and gets rid of Slaten and Stairs for starters.This team showed heart and another 2 Veterans let the team down in Cora and Burnett. That wasn't Riggleman baserunning or Riggleman pitching.It doesn't make it any easier doing the blame game.

  10. Marat - May 30, 2011 at 11:43 PM

    Join with us Yankish. We will rid ourselves of all of them! Nothing succeeds like revolution! To the guillotine!

  11. Bukharin and Zinoviev - May 30, 2011 at 11:49 PM

    Revolutions invariably eat their own.

  12. rogieshan - May 30, 2011 at 11:50 PM

    What about Bob (Brenly or Melvin)? Aren't they both connected to Rizzo from their Diamondback days? Bo Porter would probably get the first crack at the interim position, unless the entire coaching staff is canned.

  13. Get Some Players - May 30, 2011 at 11:53 PM

    Gonat—Riggleman tolerates these bonehead plays—that is a problem. I agree though that he isn't the main issue.

  14. Stalin - May 30, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    I like my Trotsky medium rare. Why isn't Riggleman gone yet? Nats fans of the world unite! The solution is in the revolution!

  15. Anonymous - May 30, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    Riggleman IS A big part of the problem. Most recent exhibit. We'll call it exhibit 1001:I paraphrase the beat reporters and bloggers who ask the questions:"What happened to Bernadina is my lead-off man period"? Plus Rizzohas stated (representing Player Development) that Bernadina must play every day they have to find out if he is a starter or a future utility outfielder. Either in the majors or AAA.Riggleman's answer: "I can't abandon Ankiel. [WHY NOT? he wasn't the starter coming into camp? HOW DID HE move past Morgan and Bernadina given the back of his baseball card ... AND LEADING OFF???????!!!!], so I am going to platoon Nix, Bernadina, and Ankiel between LF and CF. We need Nix, he's our clean up hitter right now and his bat has been hot. So, I am going to platoon THREE LEFT HANDED BATS in the outfield."C-R-O-N-Y-I-S-M. He isn't incompetent he plays favorites like a parent might at a little league game. He benches Morse tells Ladson he is in the doghouse and the guy wasn't even close to as bad as Ankiel at the plate? Its okay for Morse to be abandoned? To lose his job even when Rizzo stated it wasn't the case at all?FIRE RIGGLEMAN or demote him to AAA to teach him accountability. Promote KNORR. TODAY. PERIOD. He's worst than for this team than Gascanrahan was … and look at Mr. Hanrahan today Mr. Sec3!

  16. Hans - May 31, 2011 at 12:03 AM

    Revolutions eat their own. (7:49 pm)Riggleman is "worst" for the team. (7:58 pm)I could use a good wurst right now, washed down with eine bier.

  17. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 12:33 AM

    He's worse than for this team than Gascanrahan was … and look at Mr. Hanrahan today Mr. Sec3!The derivative word from Old English says the two are the same words Hans. Ever learned philology? Its interesting how people never realize that languages are living things, constantly growing and changing … I'm not certain but in German they might actually be the same word.Before criticizing people's grammar or spelling one should remember the above … and the following from a dead language which is a double entendre and pun "Cave canem."

  18. Gonat - May 31, 2011 at 12:36 AM

    Get Some Players said… Gonat—Riggleman tolerates these bonehead plays—that is a problem. I agree though that he isn't the main issue. May 30, 2011 7:53 PM ______________________________Like I said, he isn't perfect and has made mistakes but trust me when I say this and Mark Zuckerman can tell you, Riggleman believes his yelling is reserved for his office.He has matured to the point that he won't get into a verbal assault in the dugout when he did that with Sammy Sosa in 1997. If he would take on Sosa who was their star player, he won't stop from addressing player issues.The problem is relying on players who aren't doing their job like Burnett, Slaten, Cora, Hairston, and Werth on consistent basis. I would say Nix is one of the few who is achieving above his career norm and Morse is now striving like Spring Training and JZim is really doing a great job. Marquis is back to career norms and most of the rest are what we expected. The youngsters like Desi, Espi and Ramos are learning on the job.If the team was at .500 on 1 run games they would be a lot closer to a .500 team. My observation is they lack the killer instinct to "put" the games away. Ankiel couldn't deliver in the biggest spot in the game after Burnett failed his spot.

  19. Anonymous8 - May 31, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    BTW, Brian Bruney is back in the Majors! Oh boy….wonder if he will still be with the Chisox when the Nats hear there in 4 weeks.

  20. Anonymous8 - May 31, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    “To move [Pudge], it would have to be a good deal that helps us long term, not a quick fix trade for offense to get us to the time when Ryan Zimmerman is back,” Rizzo said. “Pudge would be a big piece for a contending team if they needed a catcher.”Good to hear that Mr. Rizzo however can you trade Slaten + Matt Stairs for a case of sunflower seeds?Come on, seriously, when are we going to address the problems that can easily be fixed!

  21. Grandstander - May 31, 2011 at 12:52 AM

    Want to see a fun stat? Sure you do!On average this season, the Nats are currently slashing .229/.299/.360OK, whatever, we know they're doing poorly on offense. So what?When games are late and close (7th inning or later, either tied, ahead by 1, or with the tying run at least on deck) they are slashing .206/.308/.310. That's pretty bad. But wait, with RiSP and 2 outs, they're slashing .151/.276/.281 with 51 Ks in only 185 ABs.This team was built on pitching and defense and designed to win close games. That's just not happening right now. Those numbers are why.Now, is Riggs solely responsible for this? Of course not. But his hands are far from clean. Every game I find myself scratching my head at some of his decisions. was Why do you keep marching Stares out there? Or Ankiel?I doubt he gets fired. At least not until the ASB. I doubt Matt Stairs gets released too. There's just no one to replace him at the moment. But that creates a deeper problem this team has known for far too long. Lack of accountability. Acta and St. Claire were sacrificial lambs to try and establish some accountability. We're not quite there yet, but if this keeps up, I want to see some heads roll.

  22. Dave - May 31, 2011 at 1:00 AM

    @baseballswami: "Funny how none of the tv personalities, coaches, players ever talk about the elephant in the room – Matt Stairs. They certainly NEVER utter his name in Rigg's presence."The elephant in the room. Exactly. While it is certainly true that many things contributed to the losses of this week, Matt Stairs' lack of production is a common denominator. He continues to be put at key moments and continues to be a guaranteed out.Why is it that the only people who are SCREAMING about this day after day are we commenters on blogs? Why is this not a featured topic in media coverage of this team?The emperor really has no clothes on! Honest! Matt Stairs really is no (longer) good!

  23. Gonat - May 31, 2011 at 1:00 AM

    Aaron Crow is the Royals was named the new closer after todays Soria meltdown. People just moan all the time about making 1st round draft pick future aces into bullpen guys. Kansas City saw a chance to get better and made some good decisions for "their" team. Maybe not the conventional thinking but they knew what they had in Crow and it all pointed to that he wasn't going to be a longterm guy in their rotation.See people, those who were so darn concerned that making Detwiler into an Ace starter and not what he really was, a 3 inning type of guy, would have helped this team because I am sure he would have fared better than Burnett today.Detwiler gave up 4 runs in the 4th inning for the loss by the way in Syracuse today. Just continuing his horrible May 2011. I remember the debate in Spring Training over Detwiler's future. I stayed out of it because I didn't know enough to comment (except now in hindsight) but I think there was 1 guy who suggested it and 3 or 4 who liked the idea going that route vs the other few dozen who thought Detwiler would be a future Ace. Didn't materialize and probably never will and still isn't happening. Why can't Rizzo see what others do?

  24. Grandstander - May 31, 2011 at 1:02 AM

    Oh, and as a BTW, this team is 6-12 in one run games. Bring that to .500, and that puts us at 25-28. Our Pythagorean W-L for those curious is 25-28 (.474). Just throwing that out there.

  25. Anonymous8 - May 31, 2011 at 1:10 AM

    Dave said…While it is certainly true that many things contributed to the losses of this week, Matt Stairs' lack of production is a common denominator. He continues to be put at key moments and continues to be a guaranteed out.____________________________They won't even walk him any more. Like you said, he is treated like an automatic out now which is why he is worthless. Aubrey in AAA would most likely outplay Stares if given the same amount of at-bats. I know a guy named Jason Marquis would outplay Stares…..

  26. Anonymous8 - May 31, 2011 at 1:16 AM

    I hope you all are watching the Reds Brewers game. Bottom of the 6th and 2 out with the Reds winning 5-3. The Reds have men on 1st and 2nd and pull the pitcher for a pinch hitter. The pinch hitter and he delivers with a RBI hit!!!!!Now flashback to Riggleman leaving in John Lannan in an almost identical situation last week.It is going with "smartball" given the situation.

  27. masnstinks - May 31, 2011 at 1:34 AM

    I love the title of this post – "same old, same old" – it really says it all. You think it's tough to be a nat's fan right now? Try thinking of something new to say about all this each and every day. Mark – Are you sleeping at night, or are you having nightmares where every batter is Matt Stairs, every pitcher is throwing a no-hitter, and no one ever scores, especially in late innings? It's deja vous all over again!

  28. Manassas Nats Fan - May 31, 2011 at 1:43 AM

    There are lots of problems., The main one is they do not understand doing the same thing over and over that doesn't work, will rarely work. Until they are willing to stop take a breath and change the course, the course will continue right down the same path.

  29. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 2:00 AM

    Except for the periodic Boz outburst the media appears afraid to say anything bad about the team and franchise. Maybe the fact they are owned by a very wealthy and powerful home grown, local Washington family is the reason? Boz does ask the hard questions and tries to answer them in his chats. Anyone working for MASN has their hands tied. WaPo less so. Mark often seems ready to let the twin barrels of the shotgun blast then holds back.All I know is got a tweet today from NatsPR right after the game giving the temperature at the game and a bunch of weather particulars. All I know is most Nats fans temperatures are close to 220 F, boiling. They'd better do something … maybe like let Teddy win to appease the masses.

  30. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 2:02 AM

    Mannassas, no different than what they did with Justin Maxwell and before him Austin Kearns and Lastings Milledge and before that it was the 2nd year of Dmitri Young. It seems to take them a full year to see that they never got anything close to WAR on these duds.Stairs may rank as the worse and make this bench worse than last years if that is believable. I still think if you put Stairs out there eventually he will hit a HR and I say big deal. Overall, this guy could go 5 for 5 in his next 5 and it still won't make him productive overall.

  31. Doc - May 31, 2011 at 2:47 AM

    I've always thought one of the more telling dysfunctions of Jim Riggleman as a manager was the way he treated LaRoche's status. If LaRoche hadn't picked up on his own problems with power, Uncle Jimmy would be still playing a sub-Mendoza Adam L., perhaps alternating every 10th game with Mickey Morse.His rationale for playing Ankiel, over Bernadina, is plain goofy. It brings to the fore, that same issue that many of us Nats' Insiders frequently criticis–Riggleman's obsession with extending the careers of faded vets.He lost a few games for us by not putting Morse at 1B sooner. Save the years of experience that LaRoche has over Morse at 1B, there is little outcome difference between Morse and LaRoche in the field. I'd even say that Morse's past years of middle infield experience more than makes up for his lack of experience around the 1B bag. That should have been obvious to Riggleman. Morse, I think, demonstrate that he has more power that LaRoche.

  32. Gonat - May 31, 2011 at 2:50 AM

    Did you all see the Indians lowlights? Ball is booted by their 2nd baseman to let a run score. Instead of picking it up he pouted and another runner saw that he didn't pick up the ball so he scored. This is where Acta will have to show if he is the real deal. The Indians are 5-5 in the last 10 games and 12-14 on the road this season. Now he has players doing brain dead things.My guess is when it is all done the Tigers will win the Division.

  33. Anonymous8 - May 31, 2011 at 2:54 AM

    Doc, how do you know Rizzo isn't asking Riggles to play Ankiel so he can trade him on July 31st and also ask him to keep playing LaRoche. We aren't there so we don't know the dynamics.

  34. FS - May 31, 2011 at 3:02 AM

    that is true. I would hate watching this team lose every night

  35. Manassas Nats Fan - May 31, 2011 at 3:07 AM

    One thing for sure win or lose, I cheer every night, and then complain every night. I feel since I cheer hard, I am allowed to complain hard. I assume that they will win the next game. Too often I am disappointed. Maybe that is why I get this feeling they don't care as much as me, because if I was losing day after day, I know I would do whatever it took to fix it. I have not seen a lot of changes at all.

  36. NewAnonymous - May 31, 2011 at 3:08 AM

    Geez, I think I've learned at least as much on this blog in a few days as I did in a couple of years at NJ.

  37. baseballswami - May 31, 2011 at 3:12 AM

    So – back to having the first draft pick again in 2012? Or – will the team have a respectable second half? June could be a very long month – I just don't think there will be any movement at all until the time just before the all-star break – trades,dfa's,firings,beheadings,public stonings,or burnings at the stake. Sometimes no matter what you are doing- you just need to change something – anything -to shake things up. In the meantime – calling all nats fans – bring your favorite goodluck charms, rally caps and voodoo dolls to the games from now on!

  38. masnstinks - May 31, 2011 at 3:14 AM

    NewAnonymous — make your switch permanent — we complain just as much – but there is much more baseball knowledge and definitely a sense of humor!

  39. Don - May 31, 2011 at 3:16 AM

    C'mon guys, all the complaining about Stairs, who are you going to replace him with? Don't say Bernie, there is a plan for him and it doesn't include sitting on the bench.So who? Who in the minors is waiting to be called up?Nothing is going to happen to the position roster, outside of minor changes, until Zim is back. Then I would expect to see Stairs moved somewhere.As far s pitching goes, The only change you might see is Detweiler coming in as a reliever, but I would expect to see him in that role in Syracuse before he comes up.The problem is there is NO ONE ready to come up to fill these holes. This team is going to finish with 75 wins +/- 2/3. If they had won every game we all think they should have won, if only… They would be nearly undefeated right now.-Don

  40. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 3:21 AM

    Aubrey – dh/1b – how about letting him see some ml pitching? Screech could pinch hit better than Stairs.

  41. Andrew - May 31, 2011 at 3:27 AM

    We are all ticked off and it happens during losses and especially during losing streaks.My problem is too many assumptions and opinions are being spouted off like they are facts and many are wrong. It is true, we aren't in the conversations between Rizzo and Riggleman.I was just on an email thread where someone was critical of caught stealings by slower runners without considering if they were botched hit and runs.I can see the positives in the defense and hustle and hope the team gets on a win streak and I can see the negatives in the bullpen, pinch hitting, bad baserunning, and lack of clutch for the main reason behind the losses. I also love that the bandwagon is back for Michael Morse from some of the same people who 2 weeks ago called him a hack who shouldn't be in the Majors. Really sad how some people go up and down on this team and some of the players.

  42. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 31, 2011 at 3:27 AM

    If anybody thinks that Rick Ankiel has any trade value right now, I think the dictionary has a word for that: delusional.Right now this team has three of four bona fide big leaguers, and there's something wrong right now with two of them (Zimm is hurt and Werth is slumping). Pitching is OK, nothing special, defense is fine for the most part. But there are horrible holes in the lineup and bench taken up with the likes of Ankiel, Cora, Maxwell, Stares, et al. There's little to trade, nothing much on the farm except Bryce, so we endure. Blaming Riggs is misplaced. The problem is the talent level is woeful, and I am crossing no new ground with that sentiment.

  43. Sunshine_Bobby _Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 31, 2011 at 3:29 AM

    Forget that reference to Maxwell. It just seems like he's still on the team. Sorry.

  44. Manassas Nats Fan - May 31, 2011 at 3:39 AM

    When Zim comes back I would replace him on the roster with Zim, and in reality I put Ankiel in his place on the bench.Bernie should be starting regularly. His average etc much netter than Ankiel's. If laRoche comes back he can take Bixler's spot on the roster.

  45. Manassas Nats Fan - May 31, 2011 at 3:44 AM

    One move that Rizzo did that has worked out fairly well is Laynce Nix.

  46. Neal - May 31, 2011 at 4:10 AM

    I just found this on some funky baseball site that digs up little know facts about baseball managers. Apparently sometime during Spring Training, Matt Stairs caught Jim Riggleman reading an X rated copy of FanGraphs and he secretly took photos of him in the act. Those pictures would "ruin" Jim Riggleman, so now we're stuck with Matt Stairs. So, I guess you could say that Riggleman is stuck on the Stairs.

  47. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 4:29 AM

    Forget that reference to Maxwell. It just seems like he's still on the team. Sorry.Milledge and Maxwell are both still in AAA. White Sox and Yankees. Dukes is gone, gone, gone. Ankiel is not a better fielder than Maxwell and is a worse hitter. But he bats left and is an old chum of Riggleman's from their St. Louis days together.The team was redesigned to fit Riggleman's "smart ball" image. It doesn't work. It won't work, at least not with the guys Riggleman picked out from the choices in ST and I'm certain he had more than a hand in requesting certain free agents … most of whom received minor league contracts yet still managed to "make the team". They are doing as bad as the team with Dukes in right field. Milledge in center, Willingham in left. Just AS bad. Riggleman really ought to be embarrassed … his team just flat out stinks.And if you don't think that's on Riggleman go and watch a couple of MASN videos and wait for the Riggleman commercial at the end. Its almost completely on him.

  48. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 6:50 AM

    Right now this team has three of four bona fide big leaguer POSITION players, and there's something wrong right now with THREE of them (Zimm, and LaRoche are hurt and Werth is slumping).They have two guys hitting better or as good as Willingham and Dunn are right now in Nix and Morse. They appear to be "marginal" players who are still young enough to have upside. Both are now playing extremely well as starters. They have two potential future stars in rookies Espinosa and Ramos. Both are still adapting to the majors. Desmond is still borderline although his fielding has definitely improved.But there are horrible holes in the lineup and bench taken up with the likes of Ankiel, Cora, Maxwell, Stares, Pudge. There's little to trade, Pudge, Marquis and Lannan likely have some trade value. In the case of Marquis and Lannan both could be replaced now with pitchers from AAA/AA like Bradley Meyers and Brad Peacock. Both seem to have far more potential than Maya and are certainly younger. Tom Milone looks equivalent to Lannan if not better. Stammen has been pitching extremely well in AAA as a starter. Ryan Mattheus is the closer in Syracuse. Another TJ refugee but one that is looking pretty awesome. So, they could also trade Todd Coffey and perhaps get a decent prospect in return.

  49. Grandstander - May 31, 2011 at 6:52 AM

    @ManassasInteresting you bring up Nix. He's been a kinda 4th OF guy and was brought in as that. He didn't break the roster until Ankiel got hurt and Morse had knee problems. He's earned his place by being one of the most consistent producers at the plate and in the field. That's what I think everyone is clamoring for. Bernadina has done nothing to lose his job and Ankiel has done nothing to earn it. It seems to me the only thing Ankiel has done to earn it is to have played in the majors for awhile. Same goes for Stares, Cora, the lot.I understand the value of vets in the clubhouse, but they shouldn't be taking time from the young guys unless they earn it. And they should be used in situations where they cost us games, like Stares has been, much to everyone's frustration.Stares could literally be replaced by anyone in the minors and we could have a more productive player. He can't field, he can't run, he can't hit. His presence on this team is a joke. It makes the team a joke. I've been a fan since the beginning, so I'm the first to admit this is the best team I've seen in awhile. That's what makes it so much more painful to watch. This should be a team a few games out of .500. It's stupid managerial decisions that have cost us these games.There's no accountability. Oh, btw, draft anyone? What are people thinking on that? Mark, don't know if you read this deep into game threads but it would be great to get an early post up outlining what the Nats might be looking at. Deep year, definitely going after some college arms. We have some picks because of holding onto Dunn. The top 10 has been analyzed to all hell but I would love to read about some of our sandwich pick targets.

  50. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 6:57 AM

    One thing seems certain based on Boswell's phone conversation with Rizzo … he is going to trade for prospects … hoping for as many B grade close-to-the-majors prospects as he can get. Next year Rizzo needs to find a way to sign or trade for at least 2 reasonable/potential impact players. He may have enough in the farm to do a trade … but trading the farm would not be wise at this point … Harper probably won't be ready next year. His hitting has declined since Rizzo made the pronouncement that he wouldn't be seeing the majors this year. Maturity still required on top of other skills. Although I don't agree with Rizzo making that "pronouncement".

  51. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 8:07 AM

    Opinions on Pudge's trade value …:Dave Cameron:"While Ivan Rodriguez is probably the most available catcher on the trade market and still carries quite a bit of name value, there's little to suggest that Rodriguez can still help a team win baseball games at this point in his career. Now 39 years old, Rodriguez hasn't been a productive hitter for several years, and he's bottomed out in Washington with a .256 on base percentage so far in 2011. In fact, Dan Szymborski's ZIPS projections actually suggest that he's a worse hitter than Whiteside at this point, and his once legendary defense is hardly much of an asset anymore. While Rodriguez has carried heavy workloads before, his body isn't what it once was, and he would likely have to share time behind the plate with Whiteside. The upside of making a deal is that the Giants would be able to avoid giving significant at-bats to Chris Stewart, so acquiring Rodriguez would represent an upgrade to the team, but only so long as Rodriguez didn't get that much more playing time than the superior (and younger) Whiteside."

  52. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    Only the Astros and Twins stand in our way!

  53. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    Really Riggleman?? You pinch hit again with Matt Stairs?? I guess Stevie Wonder or Mr Magoo were not available. Worse baseball this weekend I have seen in years!! Riggs must go this week.

  54. Ernie - May 31, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    The team is playing well defensively. That's what Rizzo said was one of his goals – to put together a stellar defensive team. Do the results so far this year undermine his vision for the team? Is defense overrated? Or do we just have the wrong defensive players? Did he err too far on the side of defense?

  55. NatsJack in Florida - May 31, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    OK… I'm not here to defend Riggs or Rizzo or the Lerners for that matter but I am here to say that the team I have watched for the past 4 months (including Spring Training) is still the most competitive team put on the field since 2005.I know we lost 2 out of 3 from the "lowly" Padres but did anyone notice that they squeaked out another one run win in Atlanta yesterday?The Phillies won yesterday on a couple of breaks including the ball Halladay got a glove on and the ball Howard squeaked through the infield on Burnett.In a 6 run loss neither of those things get much notice but in a one run loss they become huge.I am constantly disappointed by the losses yet somehow am able to see rays of light in the teams developement.And while I agree, I see no need to pile on the Stairs issue

  56. baseballswami - May 31, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    Suppose no one cared about wins and losses – the only goal was to do everything you can to get ready for next year? This year's record wouldn't count – except that you get the first draft pick again. What should be done to prepare for next year? Play Ankiel? Or Bernie? Is Bixler a piece of the puzzle? Is Matt Stairs on the roster? If the fans weren't clamoring for the curly w's, if it wasn't "expected" , if everything that was done was with the express purpose of building next year's team — what would things look like? Will we see that in the second half? Or will we see more of the veterans curtain calls in mlb. I think we have had more players end their careers here than any other team.

  57. BowieNat - May 31, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Sorry NatsJack, I root for this team too, so I will pile on Stairs based on this from Mark's post, "pinch-hitter Matt Stairs grounded out to second (dropping to 3-for-34 for the season)." Replace Stairs with ANYBODY and you'll get at least as much production out of them if not more! Why is Stairs still here???

  58. Bill B - May 31, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    I get frustrated too, watching things like Cora getting in that run-down from third, watching pick-offs and runners caught stealing. So, I went to baseballprospectus.com and found something surprising: acc. to the "Equivalent Baserunning Runs" (EQBRR) metric, the Nats are SECOND BEST IN BASEBALL (behind the Giants) on the basepaths. Given all the broken hit-and-run plays and runners caught stealing, you might think that it's the steal attempts that are the problem. But no, we're third best in baseball in "Equivalent Stolen Base Runs" behind the Astros and the Rangers. This means that appearances are deceiving on the baserunning – or at least that my casual take on the performance on the basepaths is wrong. In the end, you're not going to score a lot of runs if you run up to the plate a lot of guys hitting below .250. Acc. to baseballprospectus.com's "True Average" stat, Nix is mashing, and Werth, Ramos, and Morse are hitting better than you might think. Even Espinosa is above league average in that stat. But Desmond, Cora, Ankiel, and LaRoche are just not hitting. I don't understand why they're playing Ankiel in CF over Bernadina. Bernadina is hitting much better, is a far better baserunner, and can field almost as well. He's young and needs the experience.My two cents' worth.

  59. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    And on that note, I would like to advocate for trading Desmond and playing Espinosa at SS. He is the Nats' younger version of Stairs. I mean, if we're going to pile on the Nats, let's have at it.

  60. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    "He" being Desmond. Sorry about that.

  61. JD - May 31, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    Here is my version of the bright side: 1) In 6 days the Nats are projected to draft Trevor Bauer- in a complete game on Saturday he was still throwing 95 in the 9th inning; think of a rotation in the 2nd half of 2012 which includes: SS,Zimm and Bauer. 2) if we don't get Bauer we may well get high school phenom CF Bubba Starling; think of a lineup with Harper, Zim, Espinosa, Ramos/Norris and Starling. 3)With their second pick the Nats may end up with another great pitcher like Alex Meyer or center fielder Brian Goodwin. 4) By the 2nd half of 2012 you won't have: Stairs, Marquis, Bixler, Livo, Hairston, Pudge. 5) By 2012 the manager of the team won't be Riggleman. Cheer up everyone.

  62. Wally - May 31, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    I am with NatsJack. Not only more competitive, (a) also being done by players (some) that you could see being part of a playoff team (Werth, Ramos, Espy, maybe Desmond), and (b) more fun to watch, although if I didn't enjoy watching defense, I probably couldn't say that.The record is awful, feels like it is also trending downward and there is a general feeling that they will find a way to lose the game. But there is progress being made if you are willing to accept that the team will not be good this year, and instead look for progress from some individual pieces. I get that people may be so sick of the losing that they don't want to accept that. I am tired of it too, and I gave up my STH status last year because of it. But I still like the team and find that I am more optimistic about the FUTURE than I have been before.Say whatever you want about Riggs, Stairs, Hairston, Bernie. I am not saying that the criticisms are wrong, just that they will have a marginal impact on results. They need more talented starters. Forget about Stairs and start thinking of who can be a quality CF. There isn't one in sight (and it ain't Bernie). At least 4 position player starters and two SPs need to be found for that playoff team, and one of those position players needs to be a big bopper. The good news is that last year, it would have been 6 players and 3 SPs.I am not a big fan of Riggs, but I am also one of those that don't think a baseball manager influences the results of a game too much. But what could help is a manager that gives the team an identity. Take the media scrutiny off the players. Torre, La Russa, even Showalter add a lot by doing that. So if they do get rid of Riggs, which I think is a clear possibility later in the year, this isn't the team for a Bo Porter or Randy Knorr. It should be a Bobby Valentine or Davey Johnson type who has a wide rep in the game.

  63. masnstinks - May 31, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    So – what's on our wish list already for the draft and free-agency, trades? A Lead-off, center fielder? More starting pitching? Where are we set? Third, for sure, probably middle-infield and left and definitely catching. How many pieces do we still need? I like the perspective on talking about the future, because then you see that some of the pieces are already in place – just unrefined right now and in need of a few holes to be plugged.

  64. fpcsteve - May 31, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Wally, exactly! Knorr and Porter aren't the solution. If the Nats are going to upgrade at manager, they actually have to choose someone who is an upgrade. That said, I don't care for Valentine because of his work-related history. FWIW, Starling is in summer school at NU and has a chance to start at QB this year. Out here, that is worth a lot.

  65. Wally - May 31, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    MASN – my take on the draft is that you have to go best player, not try to fill needs at the major league level. Baseball prospects are just harder to predict with as high a hit rate as other sports. That being said, college pitching is a strength in this draft, and that is where the Nats are rumored to be looking. Free agency and trades are for immediate needs. CF and 1B (big time hitter) are the places I expect the Nats to focus on this offseason. Maybe SS if they could get Reyes. otherwise I see them sticking with Desi. Would you trade Meyers, Eury Perez and something else for Michael Bourn? That would solve CF. I am not sure if that gets it done, but I would make that trade. Maybe Prince for 1B? I am not a fan, actually, but the guy can hit. I don't know where the top SP comes from, though. Adding Reyes and Bourn with a healthy Zim and LaRoche to Werth, Espy, Ramos? Pretty good, in my book. Pitching is still iffy, though.fpcsteve – do you think that he turns down $5m to play QB? Seems like that would be a hard one for the kid. Does he come from an affluent family?

  66. jd - May 31, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Wally, No one who is not an idiot turns down a 7 figure check to play QB where you are one nasty hit away from a career at Pizza Hut. Show him the money and he will sign. My feeling is that if they don't get one of :Bauer,Cole or Hultzen they will draft Starling.

  67. fpcsteve - May 31, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    I would suggest that if you don't live in Nebraska, you may be underestimating the power that attaches to playing QB for the Huskers. IHOP, Pizza Hut, fill in the blank… The kid is in summer school and is on record as being torn over the decision. I don't know what you can do beyond taking a kid at his word. Who wants to draft a kid who is practiced at deceit?

  68. fpcsteve - May 31, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    sorry for too many "kids" in one post…

  69. JD - May 31, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    fpcsteve, The Kid's agent is Scott Boras and being torn over this type of decision has always been a part of his negotiating strategy. Last year Harper was 'considering' returning to his JUCO so he can win a championship. I don't claim to be clairvoyant but I would bet heavily on Starling signing to play Baseball.

  70. Steve M. - May 31, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    JD said…4) By the 2nd half of 2012 you won't have: Stairs, Marquis, Bixler, Livo, Hairston, Pudge.Not sure why you are saying 2012 or if you meant 2011. I think Marquis should be extended for another year to give the Nats some leverage on getting him into a Type A or Type B free agent status. Right now, if you can't extend him you do have to trade him to get value.Pudge should also be considered for extension or trade and consider trading Jesus Flores instead as you may get much more for him.Stairs better not be around till mid 2012.

  71. Big Cat - May 31, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    agree with you NatsJack. If you look at the everyday roster over the last 3-4 years, this is by far the most athletic/talented team we have had. The pitching staff is also by far, much better than previous years. God, I still shudder thinking about Matt Chico and Atliano starting in the majors. But here is the thing. It ain't working with Riggs and Eckstein. They need to go. Riggs is a fine man and a good baseball guy, but he is the Norv Turner of baseball. He is not a leader. and as far as Eckstein….I have benn watching baseball for 40 years and I have never seen more horendous ab's from professional hitters in my life. Taking pitches down the middle, swinging at balls in the dirt…or 4 inches off the plate. Swinging at first pitches after a pitcher has walked 2 guys on 8 pitches. Do you really want to bring a guy like Harper up to talk with Eck? eck would ruin him. Maybe we can make Harpers dad hitting coach. but I will continue to root for them…..regardlessHmmmmm…..just checked out this Trevor Bauer on youtube. I would take him in a minute

  72. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    I can't believe NatsJack doesn't want to pile on the Matt Stairs thing. If Stairs had any integrity he would retire. How can that man cash his paycheck with a straight face? BTW, I have read little comment (because they won) about Desmond swinging at a 3-0 pitch Friday after the pitcher had put runners on 1st and 2nd with walks??????? That is terrible baseball and that falls on Riggleman.

  73. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    I'm hoping Rendon or especially Gerritt Cole falls to the Nats. That guy is another Strasburg. Two Strasburg's in your rotation? The Phillies Phans will be crying in their Nats Park beers before too long. Rendon would provide insurance in case Zim decides to skip town. He has an injury so you have to think he could drop to the Nats. In the end its who Rizzo draft with the next two picks that ought to interesting. I suspect he will surprise Mr. Harvard with them.

  74. Anonymous - May 31, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Let's Bottom Line it without all the peripheral stuff: If the losing continues … it will only prove that either "smart ball" is just another name for "losing ball" or else the manager implementing it is not competent enough to do it."Smart Ball" is Riggleman's idea. Rizzo gave Riggleman a set of players in ST from which to choose a 25-man roster to implement his "smart ball". Odds are very good that Riggleman had a lot of say about which position player free agents turned up in Viera in early ST 2011. Bet on it.If it fails. It really means that Riggleman's worst winning percentage in the history of modern baseball is REAL and not artificially induced by the rosters he was given in the past.That is the bottom line period.

  75. Wally - May 31, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    jd – no doubt any adult would take the cash. And it is not 'just' seven figures, it will be at least $5m, is my guess. But a 17 yr old kid is more impressionable than that, and could make a different (ie irrational to a grown up) decision. Gerrit Cole turned down $3m+ from the Yanks a few years ago to go to UCLA (granted, not to play FB, but still, he could have gotten hurt). Several guys turn down seven figures every year to go to college. That being said, I think he winds up taking the money. It is just too much money to walk away from. And I don't consider it deceitful by him to be in summer school, even if it does help his negotiating position. I would love to see us get the kid. But I have my doubts that we do, simply because he is perceived as being 4 years away from the bigs (he wasn't like Harper in the competition that he has faced). Despite all the talk and our own theories, I really think that Rizzo is building towards a 2013-2014 timeline. So I bet Rizzo goes college pitcher, like most people are saying. Meyer, if those others aren't there.

  76. BowieNat - May 31, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    on a positive note (from the minors at least), the Harrisburg Senators finished a 5 game sweep of the Bowie Baysox yesterday.

  77. Ivan Tuski - May 31, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    How I see it:Starting pitching – Still an overall positiveMichael Morse – Better than average defense at first and much better hitting than we had gotten all seasonEspinosa – excellent defense, above average clutch hittingIan desmond _ continues to improve defensively and seems to be improving on avoiding those outside pitches3rd base – the situation sucks but for what it is at least we are not blowing games through poor defensive play at third, we just miss the spectacular defense that saves runs and the the clutch as well as consitent bat of the Z manCatcher – an overall improvement whitch is continuingLeft field – Nix is a pleasant surprise.Center field – I think I prefer Bernadina because he gets on base more an can steal when he is on. Bring in Ankiel as a late defensive substittionWerth- mediocre in the field. He has made some nice plays but bobbled some he shouldn't. His hitting has been a big dissapointment and at this point I think you would have to label him a bust.Bullpen- sucks now, was great earlier. Hopefully it bounces back.Bench, led by Matt Stairs is attrocious. I think it has become ridicously absurd. Get rid of him! They talked about him being a player/coach because of his knack for hitting. If that is true then maybe that explans our team batting average. I cannot think of one single move to improve the team that would be better than to retire Matt Stairs.

  78. Oldguy - May 31, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    This team is better than its record. A few ground balls that squeaked through inside of being picked up, a couple of hard-hit balls that were a bit longer or a bit wider, etc., etc., and we would be at or close to .500. We are snake bit, no doubt, and we are not yet a good team, though we are certainly average at least. It will change. Guaranteed.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

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ATLANTA 69 64 6.5
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PHILADELPHIA 61 72 14.5
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Mariners, 10:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Mariners, 9:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Mariners, 4:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
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