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A frustrating loss, a learning experience

Aug 11, 2011, 11:49 PM EDT

Associated Press photo
Two late home runs, combined with little run support, cost Jordan Zimmermann.

CHICAGO — A nine-inning baseball game typically features 300 total pitches, countless decisions and any number of opportunities for players on each side of the diamond. There are, however, a handful of games over the course of a season that truly are decided by one or two key moments.

And when those moments involve young players still learning how to thrive in such high-pressure situations, the results often are painful to watch, even if they do teach those players how to better handle them the next time around.

The Nationals’ 4-3 loss to the Cubs Thursday afternoon fit that description. Painful to watch both from afar and up close, it perhaps will serve a greater purpose down the road when Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond look back and realize what they did wrong and what they could have done better to turn this excruciating loss into an uplifting victory.

Start with Zimmermann, who for most of the day was as sharp as he’s been all season. Blowing away Chicago’s hitters with a lethal combination of mid-90s fastballs and high-70s curveballs, the
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  1. SCNatsFan - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    Another loss, another time the manager backs up a player who doesn't perform. Someday Desmond is going to be good – maybe – but that day isn't tomorrow. Even with the new manager its "don't worry, just another loss, just another bad at bat". And another curly L in the books in a game we should have won.Break some TVs, knock over some gatorade, show us as fans you find this as unacceptable as we do. Just once. Show some heart.

  2. Big Cat - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:53 AM

    Let me second ManassasNatsFan and Ehays opinion about Eckstein. Desmond has a 2-0 count with the bases loaded. A 13 year old, with just the minimal coaching, looks for a fastball he can drive. Anything offspeed….ANYTHING!!….you take. The total lack of discipline is killing us. We chase balls routinely a foot out of the zone. We take pitches right down the cock ahead in the count. Our hitters are too far from the plate…..yadda yadda yadda.Here is the thing that really chaps me. Ramos, Espy and Desmond are future all-stars with the right guidance…..and that ain't happening with this guy Eckstein. He needs to go

  3. Andrew - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    Different subject. On the game thread it was discussed about Zim's HR that was hit on Waveland was "supposedly" thrown back on the field. I sent an email to my buddy who hangs on Waveland during the day games. He sent me an email and sure enough, he caught the ball and still has it.He is going to send me video.

  4. Anonymous - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    Its just gotten to be a joke when runners get in scoring posistion. When is the last time we had a gapper with the bases loaded?

  5. A DC Wonk - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:02 AM

    Picking up from a prior thread:NatsLady said… Wonk, it's not bitterness (at least on my part), it's frustration!! If we had lost by 4-1 it would have been yada, yada, the usual. OK, stats are s, but you play the games. Stats said we had .001 chance to win that game in Seattle, but we did. I understand, NatsLady, and my comments weren't directed at you. They were directed at folks that think that since we had bases loaded, nobody out, and didn't win, then the Nats must be particularly inept and must be innate losers. But that's not the case — I was just trying to point out that _most_ teams lose in that situation. It goes with the territory.

  6. Gonat - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:02 AM

    Guys, it is the preperation while you are on the bench before you go in the on-deck circle.I see Eckstein do it all the time. Desmond last year would have been one of the 3 guys you would have wanted up in this situation. Not this year. It starts with confidence and he doesn't have it. Davey has to take over the game and should have given a TAKE sign until one strike is rung up. I liked the idea of a fake bunt also to frustrate Marmol. The Nats beat him in DC on that wild pitch that scored Werth.

  7. Gonat - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:06 AM

    Anonymous said… Its just gotten to be a joke when runners get in scoring posistion. When is the last time we had a gapper with the bases loaded? August 11, 2011 8:59 PM _______________________Uh, a few weeks ago. Its called Ankiel's GRAND SLAM

  8. Gonat - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:11 AM

    I am scouting. Watching our new #3 pitcher in 2012 over on MASN1. His name is Mark Buehrle. He would fit in well here. At least his team staked him to 4 runs in the 1st inning.

  9. Anonymous8 - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:16 AM

    I think Michael Morse will be wearing full arm armour like Barry Bonds used to wear.

  10. A DC Wonk - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:17 AM

    Anonymous said… Its just gotten to be a joke when runners get in scoring posistion.It just seems that way because we're frustrated every time it happens, and because the Nats are in so many close games.For example: less than two out, runner on this, the Nats are 6th best in the league; with no out, runner on second, the Nats are the *best* in the league at advancing the runner (yeah, that surprised me, too).This is particularly good considering that the Nats are 15th (of 16) in batting average.Percentage of all baserunners who have scored, the Nats are 12th. Not good — but not bad considering, again, that they are 15th in batting.

  11. JaneB - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:20 AM

    How do we get more Morse news?????

  12. Gonat - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:21 AM

    Gonat said… Davey has to take over the game and should have given a TAKE sign until one strike is rung up. I liked the idea of a fake bunt also to frustrate Marmol. The Nats beat him in DC on that wild pitch that scored Werth. August 11, 2011 9:02 PM _____________________________Here is Davey's response to that:Johnson said…"He can hit a double. I'm not going to put a take on, or anything. He's still a young player, got a little aggressive, expanded the zone a little bit. But that's what happens with young players. He's going to be awful good."

  13. Gonat - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:24 AM

    JaneB said… How do we get more Morse news????? August 11, 2011 9:20 PM ___________________________Jane, good news so far. XRay was negative and the MRI showed no structural damage. I believe they will see how it feels tomorrow. They are officially calling it a contusion.

  14. SCNatsFan - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:36 AM

    And Morse had that huge mark on his arm after a HBP about a month ago. I say we take up a collection and buy Bonds' old armor because without him we are toast.

  15. ehay2k - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:46 AM

    DC Wonk, your stat is very misleading. I'm not mad that we lost when trailing in the 9th. Find out how many teams lose when they have the bases loaded, down by 1 with 1 out in the 9th. or down by 2 with the bases loaded and 0 outs.I'm willing to bet it is not 50%. Especially when the pitcher can only manage to throw 5 strikes in some thing like 20 pitches.

  16. natsfan1a - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:56 AM

    Nice piece. Thanks for the perspective.

  17. Andrew - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:57 AM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQpGysQ-BzsHere it is. My buddy gets the Zim HR baseball and his little friend we will call Henry Rowengartner throws a fresh ball on the field.

  18. NatsLady - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:07 AM

    Well, I know it's happened before, like in SF, Brian Wilson loaded the bases in the 9th and we lost…I don't think it was a well-managed game, but here is some perspective on the Desi at-bat and Davey's comments. I'm watching the Indians-Detroit game (because if the Nats aren't going to the playoffs, at least maybe Manny's team will). The Cleveland announcer tells this story about Verlander's debut against the Indians. So the pitching coach (or manager) says to Verlander, go in and throw all your pitches, don't just throw fastballs. Verlander goes in and throws fastballs and gets creamed. He comes out of the game and the coach says, "what about what we talked about, you throwing all your pitches?" And Verlander says, "I just had to see for myself [that major league hitters could hit my 98MPH fastball]."What Davey is saying is that Desi has to learn for himself. If you want Desi's baseball IQ to improve, and you surely do, then you can't micromanage his at-bats, and in particular, you can't micromanage his at-bats in critical situations. I think Desi will get smarter, and my evidence is not just RZimm's faith in him, it's that he improved his defense. He LEARNED just how much focus you have to have in the field not to make errors. He always could make great dives and throws, but he didn't realize that you can't daydream at all, not even for an instant, you can't wait until you hear the bat crack, you have to be ready and thinking before the play. I think he will learn about planning his at-bats, about recognizing game situations, about seeing when a pitcher is off his game. Then he won't be just starting off every at-bat as if he and the pitcher were born that inning. He just hasn't learned it yet, and that's frustrating to fans.Also, whatever the stats say, we SHOULD have done better in this situation, because we weren't playing against the stats, we were playing against Marmol.

  19. Gonat - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:11 AM

    Gonat said… I am scouting. Watching our new #3 pitcher in 2012 over on MASN1. His name is Mark Buehrle. He would fit in well here. At least his team staked him to 4 runs in the 1st inning. August 11, 2011 9:11 PM ______________________More scouting. Chris Carpenter pitching against the red hot Brewers on the MLB Network.

  20. A DC Wonk - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:12 AM

    DC Wonk, your stat is very misleading. I'm not mad that we lost when trailing in the 9th. Find out how many teams lose when they have the bases loaded, down by 1 with 1 out in the 9th. or down by 2 with the bases loaded and 0 outs.Yes — that precise situation is less than 50%. At no time in the ninth inning, did the probability of a Nats win ever exceed 50%. The graph is here: http://www.fangraphs.com/livewins.aspx?date=2011-08-11&team=Cubs&dh=0&season=2011(Note, the graph is from the Cubs points of view, so the correct wording is: at no time during the ninth inning did the Cubs probability of win ever fall to under 50%).I'm willing to bet it is not 50%.I should have taken that bet!

  21. Anonymous - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:12 AM

    Zimmermann is good for six innings. Why does Johnson continue to send him out for the seventh?

  22. A DC Wonk - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:18 AM

    Continuing my post:When bases were loaded and no out, down by two, the Cubs winning probability was 56.8%. When Ramos was batting, bases were loaded, one out, down by one, the Cubs winning prob was 54%.NatsLady — terrific insights, and great story about Verlander. Your comments, together with Davey's comments, now make a lot of sense. Well put.

  23. A DC Wonk - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:22 AM

    Anonymous said… Zimmermann is good for six innings. Why does Johnson continue to send him out for the seventh?Oh, please. You're going to try to hang _that_ on Davey?Have you forgotten that JZ struck out the first two batters in the 7th? And that he had an 0-2 count on the third batter? JZ could have gone a full seven, he just messed up.

  24. NatsLady - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:33 AM

    Andrew, thanks for the video, that was fun to watch.

  25. Gonat - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:38 AM

    It was a typical JZim performance. Low run support. Something in the field happened that could fall into a category such as: A fielding mistake, miscue, misjudgement, momentary lapse of judgement, misplay, lack of a big play, etc. Think about it, for most of the Nats pitchers the fielders are turning a few spectacular plays. Only one above average fielding play was needed today and that was the hit to Werth by Soriano which didn't have the highest degree of difficulty and could have been caught and that scored the first run.This game at least the bullpen didn't fail him. Like Wonk said, he was rolling. Very strong 6th and the start to the 7th was amazing and really when you look at the replay Aramis reached over the plate and the ball barely went out.JZim has just had horrible luck. Reed Johnson on that 0-2 single in the hole between 1st and 2nd got it going in the 7th with 2 outs. FP said it right, "Jordan feels he has to be perfect due to the low run support".JZim will learn.

  26. JaneB - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:48 AM

    Thanks NatsLady. Great post about Desi learning. He did, he does, and he will. I appreciate your insights! And Gonat, thanks so much for this good news

  27. Andrew - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:05 AM

    NatsLady said… Andrew, thanks for the video, that was fun to watch. August 11, 2011 10:33 PM Glad you enjoyed.

  28. Drew8 - Aug 12, 2011 at 4:37 AM

    Davey on Desmond: "He's going to be awful good."Well, he's halfway there.I don't wish the guy ill. I hope he does learn on the job.I just hope he does it in Tampa Bay.

  29. JamesFan - Aug 12, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    Big Cat has it right. The Nats hitters look bizarre sometimes. Something is wrong with our hitting preparation. On Desmond, who could trust him to deliver in a clutch situation like this. He has no track record to do this. He guesses and chases. I do not think this guy is our future.

  30. Crash Davis - Aug 12, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    Announce your *$%#@^ presence with authority? This guy is a first ball, fast ball hitter! (Nice story, btw, and go, Manny Acta!)"So the pitching coach (or manager) says to Verlander, go in and throw all your pitches, don't just throw fastballs. Verlander goes in and throws fastballs and gets creamed. He comes out of the game and the coach says, "what about what we talked about, you throwing all your pitches?" And Verlander says, "I just had to see for myself [that major league hitters could hit my 98MPH fastball]."

  31. masnstinks - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    What happened yesterday to JZ is going to have a lasting effect on him.Next year, or the year after that, when the games are more critical at this time of the year – that game is going to be filed in his memory banks and he is going to know how to handle it because of his mistake. All young ball players – or just young people in any field, have to make mistakes to learn. I, for one, am glad that he stayed in there and learned what happens at that point – I think people are usually pulled too quickly and then they don't learn. However, I do have to say that if Pudge is behind the plate – that doesn't happen. And – perhaps McCatty should have gone out for a re-focus chat, especially when he saw him in the stretch.

  32. Anonymous - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    Let's not forget the eigth inning as well. The Nats had a chance to do more damage other than the one run that they scored but Wood made Espinoza and Zimmerman look sick. Its just one bad AB after another bad AB for a lot of these guys. You have a lineup full of guys that will strikeout over a 100 times each (some well north of that number) so it just seems difficult to get any kind of offensive consistency going when you don't at least put the ball in play. Sometimes I'm amazed they've won as many games as they have.

  33. Anonymous - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Too many minor league players on this team. That at bat by Bixler was a complete embarrasment. (why is he here and not bernadina?)

  34. Unkyd - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    @ NatsLady 10:07…….DAMMIT, I like your posting, Lady!! Just when, even I was faltering in my patience with Desi, you supply the nessecary (and correct!) perspective. I don't think I noticed your handle on the earlier season threads, here, when I made a point of adopting Desi as my lil' brother (so to speak). Before his baby was born, he was still booting balls at a nauseating pace, and the calls for his execution, at high noon, were loud and frequent, here. I just felt that, given his upside, and the dubious prospects for a championship run, this year, he should get the benefit of the doubt, until the ASB, next year. He's not a baby, it's true, but he's still within a reasonable learning curve….. Thanks for reminding me ;-)GO DESI!!!!! GOFNGOGOGO!!!!!

  35. Anonymous - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    Learning Learning learning. That's all I ever here. That is just a word of procrastination used to cover up the word BAD. How long does it take you to learn to not throw any good pitch on 0-2? How long does it take you to learn to not swing at a ball 24 inches out of the strike zone? (bixler) It's bad baseball by bad players. It will not get better until player changes are made.

  36. Anonymous8 - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    There is a lot of over reaction. It should be focused on early in the game the Nats didn't take advantage of their situations and so true on Jayson Werth. Just doesn't make the tough catches like on Wednesday on Soriano's bloop to right field Jayson got a bad jump and slid to the wall. He has to start making non-routine catches.As far as the HR to Aramis Ramirez. Give the batter credit. He got it and it was an ugly swing. He was fooled on the pitch. A few more feet of outfield and Gomes catches it.It is a game of inches and this was dumb luck.As far as batter preperation, that is where Eckstein excels. He can't carry the bat for them. The player has to make the plays.

  37. Anonymous - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    When the players come to bat and they show each ones batting averages, other than Zimm and Morse, I just have to laugh.

  38. NatsLady - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    Anonymous8 — agree on Jayson, he is wall-shy and he was the same at Nats Park when he first arrived, and then he seemed to be better after he played for a while and got the feel of the outfield. In his defense (once he had the bad jump), that is a brick wall there in Wrigley, with about an inch or less of "padding" and you could seriously injure yourself if you run in at full bore.

  39. carolync - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    Ian Desmond has more excuses made for him than any other player I can ever remember. The man will be 26 on Sept 20. He is well into his 2nd MLB season and played 6 years in the minors before that. He should be beyond the kind of brain cramp that led to yesterday's dreadful at bat. That took the air right out of a spirited rally.Glad to hear that Morse didn't have serious damage. I'm afraid he's going to be too sore to play against Philly though.Go Nats!

  40. Tcostant - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    Interesting how JZimm is quoted a lot about lesson learned, yet Desi doesn't say much other than be "fooled".

  41. Steve M. - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    NatsLady, I think the only way Werth catches that ball in RF in the Detwiler game is getting to the spot quicker and getting under it instead of sliding for it. Yesterday's was in his glove and he needs to make those type of catches. He does make the routine catches and rarely makes the tougher ones. You are right about the earlier days in Nats Park. This is one of the reasons he may need to be a left fielder in the future.

  42. Mick - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    After calming down from another poorly managed game by Davey, I have concluded that the Nats have more of an upside than a lot of up and coming teams. I am just not sure Davey is a good manager for this team. i would think the Nats job would be very a attractive one for a top quality manager in 2012. Here is my take and would love to hear some feedback on it:1) Do not trade Clippard or Storen period going into 2012. Rizzo believes the club has a future quality lead off hitter, maybe in Lombardizzo (not sure of sp). So trading either fir an Upton, etc.. would be foolish and an acknowledgenmnt that they are not confident they have one in their farm system.2) Nats starting pitching and middle relief should in theory be a playoff caliber staff. In addition to Starssburg, Zimmerman and Lannan,if Wang is back, throw in Peacock and the other young arm in the minors, and with Detweiiler in the mix, this could be a hell ofa staff. Where they are weak is another lefty relief pitcher as I am not sold on Brunett yet.3)In terms of offense, as much as I am pissed at Desomnd's stick and his poor baseball IQ at the plate, he is a solid shortstop and this infield is very good. So, let's assume that Bryce Harper will be phased in slowly as he should be, why not a lineup of LaRouche at 1st, Danny at 2b, Desmond at short, Ryan Z at third, Morse in LF, Werth in CF and Nix in RF, with Ankiel platooning in CF? As the season progresses in may-June 2012, then you look at maybe Harper in RF and platooning Werth and Ankiel in CF.This is of course problematic in that I am not including the youngsters they have that could make an impact in Spring training.4) Get off Bryce Harper's back. I love his passion. As high school coach I never want to break a young players spirit for the game. Some of you are making too much of his latest incident. In fact, look at the difference in Harper's reaction on a called third strike and how passive Ian Desmond was yesterday when he walked away from the plate expressionless after he thought he struck out. The umpire called him back to tell him he had fouled the pitch off. That upset me more than his swing on 2-0Any way, would love some feedback gang.

  43. a frustrated m20832 - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    As far as batter preparation, that is where Eckstein excels. He can't carry the bat for them. The player has to make the plays. With 117 games behind them there are still a bunch of stupid players on the Nats?I'm sorry, players that are not baseball smart is a little more pc?So lessee, Eckstein coaches (supposedly), the players listen and then do whatever they want at the plate? This team's batting average this year is .240. That's 28th out of 30 teams.With Morse hitting .319 and RZimm hitting .296 and the rest hitting between .219 and .255, is it a lack of coaching, talent, baseball smarts, what??? I, like a lot of other fans am totally frustrated. I really want our boys to do well and I'll root for them whatever their record is, sit out in 110* heat sweating through my Espinosa teeshirt three times over and root for them as they were swept by the Marlins at home.But now I am frustrated to the point that when JZimm gave up the second HR to Pena, I turned off the tv and went to dinner not even listening to Dave and Charlie as I was driving. I was hoping like many others that they would be much improved this year (and they are, no doubt about it). But I LUV Winning! I HATE losing!GYFNG!!!

  44. Steve M. - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    It was mentioned yesterday that much of the hitter's approach is confidence (the mental aspect of the game). When I saw Desmond, Ramos, Bixler all coming up in succession, I was concerned that Desmond and Bixler could be in trouble and I would have felt the same away about Werth and Espinosa at this point in time. The team overall is lacking clutch and confidence with all the players slumping. The short bench was a problem and as was said the use of Gomes early on instead of Bixler could have been a tactical error. I would have gone un-conventional with 1 out and had Bixler bunting and hoped for the best given his speed.In the end, it still goes down as a loss but it won't help Desmond's confidence.

  45. Steve M. - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    a frustrated m20832, I hear you and maybe a change in Coach is needed but Eckstein does his homework and his prep. He works his butt off. If he isn't getting through to these guys, then maybe a change in offensive leadership is needed.We all know Desi can hit at times. He looks defeated these days and thats what slumps do to you. I think with slumping players it is generally the approach and sometimes the approach is more mental (confidence) although I am lost at Werth's problems.

  46. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    I'd like to know when J Zimm decided his 2 seamer is his go to pitch? He came up 3 years ago with a terrific 94 mph 4 seamer and was classified as a "power sinker" guy. Now he does his best Justin Verlander impersonation with the problem being his 2 seamer tops out at 95 while Verlander can hit 100. That second bomb he gave up yesterday was 2 seamer belt high.He and most everyone else is better when they can pound the zone down with a solid 4 seamer.

  47. JaneB - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    Dear frustrated: Charlie and Dave weren't on yesterday. Some dumb sports talk thing, where they talk about extraneous sports, was on instead. I agree these guys are much improved. And, not to you in particular, but to lots of frustrated fans — "much improved" was what we all wanted. No one was expecting a play off caliber team this year. Why can't "much improved" be good enough this year? It seems like — again, not targeting you — we don't see them as "much improved" unless they make no mistakes and win every game. I'm looking forward to seeing Strasburg pitch a few innings tonight, meeting up with some sister Insiders, and hearing about how well we are shutting down those Phils tonight.

  48. Steve M. - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    Mick, #1. A strong bullpen is essential for good team balance and Clippard and Storen combined are MVPs of this team. By the way, BJ Upton is still struggling. He had a couple decent games after the trade deadline and now got pushed back to 6th in the batting order. He's not a leadoff guy or a high OBP guy. So happy Rizzo passed on him. Upton is just what I am talking about with our struggling players. Do we need another struggling player?Your #2, absolutely they are weak in a lefty relief pitcher. Its been the weakness all year along with not having the 7th inning set-up guy and relying too much on Clippard. If my 45 run differential I put up the other day didn't convince everyone that the bullpen needs improvement, I really can't add anything else.#3, the offense has improved with having Ryan Zimmerman back. When you have 4 of your 8 players slumping, it sure makes it tough to get going.#4 Love Bryce Harper's enthusiasm. Just don't get thrown out of the game young man!

  49. Steve M. - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… I'd like to know when J Zimm decided his 2 seamer is his go to pitch? He came up 3 years ago with a terrific 94 mph 4 seamer and was classified as a "power sinker" guy. Now he does his best Justin Verlander impersonation with the problem being his 2 seamer tops out at 95 while Verlander can hit 100. That second bomb he gave up yesterday was 2 seamer belt high.He and most everyone else is better when they can pound the zone down with a solid 4 seamer. August 12, 2011 9:42 AM Jordan Zimmermann said he threw a changeup to Pena. I can't remember the radar reading.

  50. Mick - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    Hey Steve M., great feedback, I really appreciate it. I hear you about Upton

  51. CBinDC - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Now in the Davy ERA we still have a team that has had three bases loaded NO OUTS and only two runs to count as a result. The losing culture of this team will not end until those situations are taken to their full advantage. I compare it to a 5 on 3 for 2 mins in hockey or a !st and goal at the 1 yard line. You do not get the full score you are just a losing team. Does not anybody talk about how or what to do in these situations. Even the most seasoned veterans in hockey will talk about the approach in a 5 on 3. They really again seemed adrift at the end of the game yesterday. AND NOW they have the another 5 game losing streak ahead. Really feel why bother watching this weekend… it is just going to be brutal.

  52. Steve M. - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    Mick, great points you made. This glass is 3/4 full. This team needs tweaking and a bullpen overhaul to contend next year and 1 veteran Free Agent starter. You can see it. Danny Espinosa can work the whole off-season on shortening up his LH swing and Werth can re-tool himself. This is the 1st year that the Nats have had all the key parts returning and if they get back a healthy Adam LaRoche "bonus". There is 1 position to fill in CF and 3 to 4 spots in the bullpen and rebuild the bench.I truly believe Coco Crisp (clutch) in CF with a .330 OBP is good enough because he is clutch and knows how to steal bases.If they can get a solid veteran starter off of Free Agency, that will round out the staff. Buehrle will get this team to the playoffs next year. I think as a lefty he is so key to what this team needs to compete with the Phillies and Braves and he will be better in the NL. He is having a resurgent year so he won't be cheap. Problem is, everyone else will want him. Chris Carpenter would be a #4 or #5 here as would Jason Marquis.1. Jordan Zimmermann2. Stephen Strasburg3. MARK BUEHRLE (I can dream)4. John LannEn5. Milone or Chris Carpenter1. Coco Crisp CF2. Jayson Werth RF3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B4. Michael Morse LF5. Adam LaRoche 1B6. Danny Espinosa 2B7. Ian Desmond SS8. Wilson Ramos C1. Livan Hernandez -Long Relief2. Ryan Matteus3. Stopper4. LH Reliever5. Ross Detwiler 7th inning set-up6. Tyler Clippard7. Drew StorenI absolutely have Ross Detwiler as my 7th inning guy. I have left out both Henry Rodriguez and Sean Burnett who are both under team control for 2012.1. Roger Bernadina2. Laynce Nix3. Chris Marrero4. Pudge Rodriguez/Jesus Flores5. Alex Cora/LombardozziI re-sign Nix and put one of the young guys on the bench.

  53. PAY TO PLAY - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    NatsJack, I think you are wrong with your statement above on what Jordan threw Pena. It looked off-speed especially with how far in front Pena pulled it.Here is what Mark Zuckerman wrote "…Zimmermann also couldn't explain his decision to throw his first changeup of the afternoon in that at-bat, an 0-1 pitch that Pena crushed down the right-field line, over the bleachers and onto Sheffield Ave. to put the Cubs ahead 4-1.""Probably the worst choice I made all day," the right-hander said.

  54. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    You guys are right. It probably was a change up. I had the sound off because I could only get the Cubs feed and their announcers were horrible. The pitch acted like a 2 seamer as it came back over the plate. My point is, though, I don't see the power sinker that was such a killer pitch for him.

  55. PAY TO PLAY - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Steve, thanks for illustrating how most of the moving parts are already here. So nice to tweak a team instead of the total rebuilding we have seen every year here in Washington.I think Desmond is a stop-gap. While his defense is improved, he has to improve at the plate. If Rizzo can get 1 key veteran Free Agent pitcher and the lead-off CF, he can concentrate on smaller projects. The Free Agent market is loaded with bullpen pieces so that shouldn't be a problem.

  56. m20832 - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    JaneB said… Dear frustrated: Charlie and Dave weren't on yesterday. Some dumb sports talk thing, where they talk about extraneous sports, was on instead.They were on 1500am.

  57. NatsLady - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Steve M: I think you have to hope for Wang in there. Watching him pitch in person, he is the real deal, and I hope he continues to progress and we can re-sign him.

  58. Mark'd - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Steve, thanks for penciling that up. In June 2012, it may be Bryce Harper starting and Werth to the bench if Werth doesn't improve.

  59. Mick - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Steve M, excellent run down, I agree with 95% of your post. You left out Peacock as a potential starter. Coco would be great and I would assume the Nats could make the case to him to play in DC. You did not address the manager. Is there someone out their that can manage this team the next decade? I really do not think it is Davey. My fear is that Davey comes back and the Nats lose games early in the season because of his ineptitude and then the season falls apart. Maybe I am wrong, but I have bad vibes on Davey long term. Also, can they get Marquis back next season and would that be a good move?

  60. Steve M. - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    NatsLady, if Wang is the real deal, then absolutely. How nice would that be!There are only 3 locks for next year in JZim, Strasburg and LannEn so Buehrle and Wang would work also.Mark'd, I hear what you are saying and no Werth isn't reality. Hoping he can re-tool and find himself in the off-season.

  61. Steve M. - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    Mick, thanks. I think Peacock needs more seasoning. With the way rotations go, at some point they will need a 6th starter and we know Strasburg will be on the 160 inning limit. I have Livan as long-man in the bullpen so he serves dual purposes for this team.No reason to rush Peacock. I think Milone is further along. They will both certainly get work in Spring Training.I agree what you said about Davey. Rizzo has himself in the corner on that one and will have to dig himself out.Marquis is a freebie Free Agent in that no comp picks required. Do they want him back? Probably only as option 4 or 5 if none of the others work out. The guy won here and has always been a winner April to July.Buehrle is the perfect fit here. If Wang is solid the rest of the way, he is certainly a candidate.This is a playoff team in 2012 and the other great thing is there is finally depth in the Minors. This Draft will go a long way in getting this Farm system to top 15.

  62. Steve M. - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    Andrew, thanks for that video of the Zim's HR ball. That went 439 and the roll like a good golf ball hitting the cart path added another 61 feet making it 500 feet or 166 yards. That is probably a 8 iron shot for Zim!

  63. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    Steve M….. I agree toatlly with both Crisp and Buehrle…. Buehrle has been the poster boy for consistency and having two quality left handers to throw at the Braves and Phillies is almost a must. (Ironic that the captcha is "supboth"0

  64. Anonymous - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    The frustrating thing for Zim is that he was in complete command and it just unraveled in 3 pitches. He blew away that pesky lefty with all fastballs away in the 94mph range. The guy had no chance. The second guy, he also gave him all away stuff, except a 1-2 fastball that about took the guys face off. He was leaning, so it was a terrific pitch. One thing I saw from Zim on this guy was a nasty 89 mph cutter. It looked like it was moving about 2 inches. NatsJack, this might be what you saw as a 2-seamer. Any how he was spotting this on the black. Again, the batter was totally overmatched and struck out. Zim quickly got up 0-2 on the 3rd hitter. His next pitch was 94, and about 3-4 inches outside. The guy got a basehit to right. How he hit it is anybody's guess. Here is the killer though. On a 1-2 pitch to Rameriz, Zim hits the outside corner with his cutter/slider/2 seamer? Whatever you call it, it was a good pitchers pitch. The batter leaned out and hit a onehanded homer to left. Unbelievable. I can see how Zim was devastated. The guy is just snake-bit

  65. Steve M. - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Thanks NatsJack, the captcha is a sign! Crisp will be doable for Rizzo. I think Buehrle will be tough to get but hoping everyone else is concentrating on CC Sabathia who is the only #1 in the Free Agent pool.Wang, Carpenter, and Marquis would be the other potentially available veteran Free Agents.Adam Wainwright, like Carpenter has a team option. The Cardinals don't look like they will pick up Carpenter's option. Now Wainwright is a TJ guy and you have to wonder if the Cardinals don't pick up his option and that he may be available. If he is available, he will be ready to pitch in early Spring as he will start rehabbing when Spring Training starts.

  66. LoveDaNats - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    I know this is late, but can someone explain why it was a mistake for JZimm to pitch out of the stretch to Pena? Mark's recap and the Post both mentioned it as the wrong thing to do.

  67. natsfan1a - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    If memory serves, he'd just given up a dinger and there was nobody on base.

  68. PAY TO PLAY - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    I am actually excited about how you all turned around this post to a positive spin. Next year looks real good and you don't even have Bryce Harper or Rendon written in there. Good things to look forward to and the final Draft signings next week are key for stocking the Minors.Just hoping I can stay positive through the entire weekend of Philadelphia. That Philadelphia team adding Pence is almost unfair to see them improve over what they had before which was already a very good team.

  69. PAY TO PLAY - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    LoveDaNats said… I know this is late, but can someone explain why it was a mistake for JZimm to pitch out of the stretch to Pena? Mark's recap and the Post both mentioned it as the wrong thing to do. August 12, 2011 11:46 AM There was nobody on base.

  70. natsfan1a - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    To expand on my post (and forgive me if you already know this, LDN), pitchers typically go to the stretch with runners on – I believe because it's faster (the better to throw out runners).

  71. Feel Wood - Aug 12, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Zimmermann pitching out of the stretch to Pena wasn't the mistake. The pitch he threw there was the mistake. Pitching out of the stretch with no one on was just an indication that something wasn't right with Zimmermann there, that perhaps he had lost focus. This was confirmed after the game when some reporter asked him why he had pitched from the stretch there, and he really didn't know.It's not wrong per se to pitch out of the stretch with no one on base. Many relievers pitch out of the stretch all the time, whether there are men on or not. But starters generally throw from the windup unless there are men on base.

  72. Big Cat - Aug 12, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Went to Cubs web to see both homers and check speeds. Pitch to Rameriz was 88 and the one to Pena was 87.If I have any critique of Zimmerman at all, it is that he sometimes throws too many strikes. The guy is an absolute bulldog. Also, almost everything is hard from him. Slider 88-89 Fastball at 92-94. Not a whole lot of variance. Pitch to Pena was a change-up? Hmmm 87 is waaay to hard. His curve is around 78-79. Maybe he needs to throw that more. Clippards change is around 80-82 with a fastball at 93

  73. LoveDaNats - Aug 12, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Thanks, 1aI actually didn't know that and finally googled it and found out why pitchers do it in the first place.The more I know about baseball, the more I realize there are a lot of small nuances I DON'T know.

  74. Steve M. - Aug 12, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    Big Cat said… Went to Cubs web to see both homers and check speeds. Pitch to Rameriz was 88 and the one to Pena was 87.If I have any critique of Zimmerman at all, it is that he sometimes throws too many strikes. The guy is an absolute bulldog. Also, almost everything is hard from him. Slider 88-89 Fastball at 92-94. Not a whole lot of variance. Pitch to Pena was a change-up? Hmmm 87 is waaay to hard. His curve is around 78-79. Maybe he needs to throw that more. Clippards change is around 80-82 with a fastball at 93 August 12, 2011 12:09 PM Great point on throwing too many strikes so long as your pitches outside the zone are purpose pitches. He needs to expand the zone more on aggressive hitters. The shame was he was really cruising up to that 7th inning 0-2 single by Reed Johnson with 2 outs.It was going to be in his top 3 best performances of 2011.

  75. PAY TO PLAY - Aug 12, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    MLB Network showed the Ramirez HR and said the wind was blowing out to Left and center later in the game. Nobody mentioned it during the telecast and don't even know if that is legit. His bat speed was only 97.8mph so he didn't supply all the power and like Big Cat said the pitch was 88mph.That could also explain why Rick Ankiel's ball to end the game almost went out as he didn't appear to hit it that well.

  76. NatsLady - Aug 12, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    Big Cat and others: JZimm awhile back said he was throwing too many strikes and getting too many strikeouts (if that's possible), thereby upping his pitch count and also giving up fly balls/homeruns. He had a plan to go for more ground balls, especially given that the Nats have a top infield– and he stuck to the plan for a couple of games. But when he got in trouble, he went back to throwing strikes.It's something he needs to work on in the off-season, pretty hard to change in the middle of the season.

  77. NatsLady - Aug 12, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    Also, I checked the DBacks comments on Marquis (who was scalded the first two times out). Basically, his infield let him down, they were not on the same wavelength with him as a ground ball guy. I had not realized how important that is, somehow I just imagined infielders just fielded whatever comes their way. Desi/Espi make a tight infield, and that ain't something you throw away quickly.Ideally, you get Marquis back for the spring and trade him July 31. :)

  78. LoveDaNats - Aug 12, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    Thanks, NatsLady. Great video.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 86 63 -- 2
ATLANTA 75 75 11.5
MIAMI 73 76 13.0
NEW YORK 72 79 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 69 81 17.5
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
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
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

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

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

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