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Encouraging or discouraging?

Mar 30, 2012, 2:21 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Ryan Zimmerman has raked at the plate all spring, an encouraging sign.

VIERA, Fla. — With a night game (6:05 p.m. against the Marlins) on tap, we've got a chance to catch our breaths a bit this morning and look at the bigger picture. It's been an interesting spring, to say the least, filled with signs both encouraging and discouraging for the Nationals.

With that in mind, let's run through five of the most encouraging developments of camp, plus five of the most discouraging developments of camp…

ENCOURAGING: Ryan Zimmerman has been raking at the plate from the moment he first grabbed a bat. The heart of the Nationals lineup is hitting .385 with three homers, 10 RBI, an insane .769 slugging percentage and a ridiculous 1.216 OPS. Is his mind at ease now that he knows he'll be a Nat for life? Or is he just 100 percent healthy and ready to rock 'n' roll? Whatever the case, Zim looks poised for a monster season.

DISCOURAGING: Michael Morse hoped to come into camp and pick up right where he left off last September. But the Nationals' 2011 MVP has managed to appear in only three Grapefruit League games, none of them in the field, because of a strained lat muscle. That muscle has nowRead more »

108 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. SCNatsFan - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Encouraging… the optimism we have as fans actually has some merit.

  2. NatsLady - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Couldn't post this morning at all, plus trying to talk to the cable company….Here is info on otions vs. minor league assignments from a Rockies site.MLB Transactionshttp://www.purplerow.com/2009/2/12/756928/mlb-transactions-part-two

  3. NatsLady - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    So, the cable guy is in south Florida, and says, "Who y'all have on the Nationals now, Zimmerman?"That's the one name that penetrated his consciousness. Not Stras, not Harper (though he knew them when I mentioned them.)

  4. Doc - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    I was wonderin' when we were going to throw some discussion in Espi's direction. His LH stance in the box looks more compact, and he seems ready to rock–but it just hasn't happened in ST. The 20 K's are hard to figure?????A hard working kid who is the heart of the Nats' infield.

  5. Theophilus - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    Of the above, the most apt are the comments re Espinosa. With his speed, bunting skills he should be batting #2. But not if he keeps striking out. I thought his swing was supposed to be "fixed." But it hasn't stayed fixed. If Desmond does what Desmond is supposed to do (and so many say he can't), it won't do any good if there isn't a contact hitter behind him. The only guy who could be happy with that would be Desmond, who would then transfer the hex sign to Espinosa.

  6. NatsNut - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    You know what's so different this year. None of these "discouragings" leaves a sinking knot in my stomach like previous years. These are just "oh well, it'll be fine."Our bullpen is stacked. Neither Morse's nor Storen's "injuries" seem like long-term, season-ending ones unless they're rushed back. Hell, I'd be ok with them missing all of April if ensures they're ok the rest of the season.Is Edwin Jackson really the worst of our starter problems? Hell, we're golden.(Kool Aid, Oh Yeaaah!)

  7. Farid @ Pocatello - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    You know,I've been watching major league baseball since the mid-to-late sixties, and I think I've gotten pretty good at looking at a roster and predicting (roughly) how that team would end the season.But this year, I'm clueless with the Nationals. Are they really better? That one scout last week said "I don't think the Nationals are as good as they think they are."Is he right? If Morse and Storen get healthy, I think the team wins 86 games, 90 with luck if everything goes perfect (which it never does)and will be at least on the periphery of a Wild Card chase.But they could also regress. Man, I just don't know.Farid @ Pocatello

  8. SCNatsFan - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Everyone is on Desi's tail because of the errors and the fact he can't hit leadoff yet Espi continues to get a pass because he is so young; at this stage of his career Espi doesn't seem to be learning from his mistakes. Before we are so quick to cast off Desi and insert Lombo (or Rendon) lets make sure that Desi is the one that needs to go.

  9. SonnyG10 - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    I really hope Espy doesn't become a head case. He seems to be a perfectionist and I'm concerned he may be trying too hard in spite of the fact he said he was going to cut back on his over-preparation this year.

  10. jcj5y - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    I'm with Theophilus; the main concern for me among the "discouraging" signs is Espinosa. If the Nats are going to have a contender's offense, they need him to take a step forward in his sophomore season.Morse's and Storen's injuries seem quite temporary (especially after the latest sonogram for Morse), and I actually think the Nats could survive without Storen if it were necessary. The 'pen is ridiculously deep, especially if Rodriguez is going to be what he's been this spring. (I'd add Lidge to the "encouraging" list, as he's been better than the team could have hoped.)

  11. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    That's not a lot of discouragement! The biggest encouragement is that we've got arms from top-to-bottom.

  12. Hanging On - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Espi worries me. Ourside of a couple torrid streaks at Sept call up year and last year, he has been rather awful at the plate. Not sure he can fix it. The guy has been working on his swing his whole life, so these things don't usually get fixed with one adjustment or change in mindset. Especially someone like him whose weakness is the K. His K's just look worse than other players K's for some reason. When he misses a ball, he misses it by alot! Love his make up and glove but I think Rendon is in line to take his spot in the near future.

  13. Discouraging Picture of Team Offense - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    Some very bad signs:Last year, we struck out more than any team in MLB. In ST, only 4 teams have struck out more than the Nationals.We are LAST in stolen bases. We are looking at a slow, station-to-station team.We are near the bottom in OBP, RBIs, runs.It looks like a team that is going to get great pitching performances and lose a lot of games by a score of 2-1, and also win games 2-1. Exciting, eh?

  14. Section 222 - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    Looks like Mark thinks that Flores will get regular PH work. Hmmm.

  15. Tim - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    I am not discouraged by Espi's spring so much as his second half collapse last season. The nats have committed to see if these two players can be starters on a good MLB club. Given the other opitoins out there like Lombardozzi, I think that Desi and Espi have the first half to work things out, but if either has not produced by then, I could see a change made at that point.

  16. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Let's hope that Flores gets more PH work than Nats Park gets barbershop quartets singing the anthem.

  17. fast eddie - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Discouraging Pic: I wish I could disagree with your assessments but it's difficult to ignore those numbers. Lots of 2-1 wins and losses equals another .500 season. At this point, we're 0-0–let's play ball and see what happens!

  18. Cease the Opportunity - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Mark, I like balance. It's like playing .500 or kissing you cousin, but I love strong bias too. At worse Espi and Desi will not be any worse than the previous season. Having Zimmerman,Werth, and Roche makes it a +3 (since neither of them had significant positive impact in 2011). No question in my mind the Nationals will surpassed hopes and exceed expectations if they can stay healthy.If the offense is sufficient the bullpen and pitching staff will excel.93 – 69 is encouraging and anything less is discouraging…

  19. John C. - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    Dear Discouraging @11:10: don't be quite so discouraged.I am worried about the strikeouts. Pretty much everyone in the lineup this side of Lombardozzi whiffs a lot. Desmond, Espinosa, LaRoche, Werth, Ankiel … all high strikeout players. Imagine if the Nationals' pitchers got to throw to the Nats hitters?I am NOT worried about spring training stolen base numbers. Last year they were 8th of 16 NL teams in stolen bases, and were above average in baserunning skills (1st to 3rd, etc). If you look at the regular players in the lineup, most of them can run. Desmond, Espinosa, Bernadina, Werth all run. Heck, even Ankiel had 10 stolen bases. Lombardozzi had 30 steals in the minors last year. This is not a station-to-station team.

  20. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    The SABR folks say stolen bases are often over-rated, and on a team that strikes out a lot, I can see how that would be a problem. So I'm not too worried about that. They aren't going to score a lot of runs on a regular basis, they just aren't. That's the kind of team they have. If the middle of the order stays healthy, they should be in a lot of games, and if the bench produces, they should win more than they lose. Unless the pitching totally and unexpectedly craps out, then they're [RF]ed.

  21. jcj5y - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    It is very possible that Espinosa could be worse at the plate over the course of the season than he was last year. I don't think he will be, and even if he's average at the plate his glove makes him quite valuable. But it's far from certain that he'll hit above .225 with 20 homers.

  22. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    Let's not overlook the bench, where the Nats have upgraded in most cases. Lombo is an upgrade over both Cora and Bixler at middle infield, and could become the answer to lingering performance problems for either Spinner or Desi.DeRosa is simply the best bench player the Nats have had in years, and is a marked improvement as a corner player over Nix, a K machine. DeRosa is a contact OBP player, with only 1 K to go with 10 walks.Flores is much better with the stick than Pudge, by far. Not quite the defensive force that Pudge still is, but just 2 years ago it was Josh Bard and Wil Nieves back there. Hello? Flores is better than any of those guys.Carroll is not much on offense, but he is a plus defender in CF, and a worthy backup to the Arm. He has speed, a good arm, himself, and takes good routes to the ball, better than the Shark. He is not as good at the plate as Hairston, but he wants to be here, and Hairston did not. A wash, at worst, and probably a bit of a plus. We will win with pitching and D, and it's on D that Carroll shines.That leaves us with the Shark in left, where he belongs. No losing the ball in the sun, over there, no need to take charge on balls hit to left center (Ank and Carroll will be in charge). Misjudging balls hit over his head will not be as much of a problem, with less room to cover, and his ability to charge and snag liners in front of him is more of a plus over there than it was in CF.Maybe Shark breaks out at the plate, maybe he doesn't. At worst, another wash, and maybe a plus if his new batting mechanics continue to pay off.Nady is not long for the bench, as he will go back to the minors as soon as the Beast returns. Good organizational depth, though, in addition to Brown, who appears on the verge.Overall, much better, and that bench is probably worth 2 or 3 wins over the bench last year. How many PHs did Stairs have? One, in 20 odd ABs. That was better than Gomes, who was oh-fer as a PH his entire time with the Nats. Cora was consistently ineffective at the plate, either as a starter or as a PH. Ditto Bixler.I'll take the current group, any time, over that one. Give Rizzo some credit where it is due. None of those new guys cost the Nats anything.Laddie_Bla_Blah

  23. Unkyd - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    I wondered aloud a week or so ago, whether either Lombo or Rendon have the range and arm to be long-term answers at SS. Certainly not giving up on Desi/Espy, but just thinking ahead to end of summer, '13. Jury will be in on Desi, by then, and espy will either have gotten it, or become the subject of frothing Anon Rants… Peric? NatsJack? Steve M.?

  24. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Laddie, you're forgetting Jerry Hairston Jr. Very nice year here off the bench.

  25. Unkyd - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Whether a Lombo/Rendon MI is a practical consideration, is dhat I'm wondering…. It has appeal, offensively, no?

  26. Unkyd - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    Regarding SBs…. Seems like we stopped running, when Davy took over, last year, no? Am I mistaken in my recollection?

  27. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Unk, you're correct, Davey came in and started focusing on "answering questions" right away. He also quit batting the pitcher 8th.

  28. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Encouraging: 109 posts, so far, in March, Mark's second-most prolific month yet. Record is 117, from way back in May 2010. Get posting, Pops!The no-captcha regime continues with little (visible) disruption. Yay!Discouraging: We're starting to see consistent problems with the site, apparently from server being overwhelmed, even tho there is no significant increase in posting. Either lots of lurkers (Yay!) or the back end is getting wonky (uh-oh).

  29. Feel Wood - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Section 3, My Sofa said… Laddie, you're forgetting Jerry Hairston Jr. Very nice year here off the bench.More like half a nice year, actually.

  30. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    *no significant increase in comments posting…

  31. bdrube - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    @Discouraging Picture of Team OffenseA "slow, station-to-station team?" How do you figure? Desmond, Espinosa, Werth, Lombardozzi and Bernandina are all capable of 20 steals (given enough playing time). Ankiel, too, steals bases and Harper will also have good speed when he comes up. The lack of steals seems to have more to do with Johnson's philosophy. The team itself is hardly "slow."

  32. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    Feel Wood said ….traded July 30. Ok. Still.

  33. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Laddie did have Jerry buried in there:He is not as good at the plate as Hairston, but he wants to be here, and Hairston did not. A wash, at worst, and probably a bit of a plus.

  34. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    station-to-station offenseStolen bases aren't the only measure of that. They were much better at going first to third on a single after Davey came on, IIRC. They still seem to be getting the hang of taking extra bases on sloppy outfielders (Espinosa the other day, for instance), but they aren't unagressive. Sac bunts are a "station-to-station" tactic, too, and Davey seems to prefer to let hitters hit, if they are hitters, much of the time, which (I'm told) the stats do encourage.

  35. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    (Oh, and could I have a chocolate fountain instead of Coke? Overreaching? Maybe not, then.)

  36. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    1a, I think I'll just buy you some stock in Coca Cola and call it even, how's that?I stand corrected, and sorry about that, Laddie Boom-Boom.

  37. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    1a, would you believe, a can of Bosco and some Menthos?

  38. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    I am worried about Espi and I think that the Nats need to exercise some tough love with him. Cuse is where guys should be figuring out their game, not DC. He's REALLY struggling and he has no track record of MLB performance which we can look back on and say, it's only ST he'll be OK. Just because a guy comes up does not mean he should not ever go back down, especially a guy this young. If he's not going to hit in the very important 2 hole, then someone who will have a better chance to do so needs to be playing there.Best 25 go North!dfh21

  39. Unkyd - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    FWIW….. I believe Davey said last week, that this past Sunday they'd start playing like it counts (or words to that effect… 5-1, since then.Jes' sayin'….

  40. Frediemac - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    We just need to hang in there with a little offense until the calvery arrives in the form of one BRYCE HARPER!——————————————-Discouraging Picture of Team Offense said… Some very bad signs:Last year, we struck out more than any team in MLB. In ST, only 4 teams have struck out more than the Nationals.We are LAST in stolen bases. We are looking at a slow, station-to-station team.We are near the bottom in OBP, RBIs, runs.It looks like a team that is going to get great pitching performances and lose a lot of games by a score of 2-1, and also win games 2-1. Exciting, eh?

  41. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    Livo released by Astros.. Hope the big guy can be picked up by someone else

  42. Avar - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    I think Espi is the only one I'm worried about. He was really bad for quite a long time last year. But, he was a rookie. I'm happy to give him all year.Very nice that even most of the discouraging things are more like possible worries. The team is a new place and it's fun to watch.Many, including me, are high on Rendon but reading the comments today, I feel compelled to remind us all that he has yet to take one professional at bat. Let's not get nuts here. No telling what kind of player he'll be.Even Lombo, he has played in 13 big league games. I think he'll pan out but it's really early.It's entirely possible that we'll need to pursue a middle infielder in free agency this winter. But, at least we have reasonable proposects in Espi, Desmond, Lombo and Rendon. HUGE change from the old days of Carlos Baerga, Guzman, Royce Clayton…shall I continue?

  43. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    Good read on ESPN by Crasnick..Nats Review

  44. sjm308 - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    This is in response to my question from the last post "thanks NatsLady".Woke up today realizing that in 5 days I will be sitting in Nats Park (not in my 20 game season ticket seat but a seat none the less) watching Edwin Jackson mow down those Red Sox. I am wondering if it will be anything like what used to happen when I went to O's games (before our lads returned). I usually only went to the Red Sox and Yankee games as I wanted to see good baseball. It was like the O's were the visiting team. Last time I experienced that was opening day a few years ago and hope that never ever happens again here.Go Nats!!

  45. JoeHardy - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    Worried about both Desi and Espi, Perhaps they should talk with the Sports Shrink that helped out ATL Brave Pitcher John Smoltz back in the day. Smoltz was almost a lost cause then he got his head on straight.

  46. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    Agree with the concern about Espinosa. A poor spring batting average can be dimissed by hitting into bad luck. 20 Ks in 60 ABs is not bad luck. Also, two extra base hits in 60 ABs is not bad luck.Ks have always been a concern with Espinosa and the hope is that with experience they would trend down. Also, if Espi generates power, Ks can be forgiven, but minimal power and a lot of Ks is not acceptable. If Espi does not improve by the time Morse comes back, Lombardozzi will take his ABs.

  47. Smuff - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    Section 3…..With respect to the errors on the site, seems to me this occurs most often when Mark is doing in-game updates. Wondering if they may be related to that.Different subject– anyone smart on how to get quick 'refreshes' when reading from an IPad? You know, similar to hitting F5 on a non-Apple PC?

  48. Avar - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    Just strolled down memory lane on BR.com. Talk about discouraging, anyone remember who led the team in RBIs in 2008? Anyone?Lastings Milledge with 61. THAT was discouraging.

  49. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    I love(d) Bosco!Section 3, My Sofa said… 1a, would you believe, a can of Bosco and some Menthos? March 30, 2012 12:05 PM

  50. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    awww, Livo. I hope someone would be interested, MicheleS. Was looking for video of a play in a Nats/Mets game and couldn't find it on the Nats site. Went to the Mets site and the first one that started playing was the David Wright grand slam off Livo. The big guy did not look very happy. Sigh.MicheleS said… Livo released by Astros.. Hope the big guy can be picked up by someone else March 30, 2012 12:19 PM

  51. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    Wait, they still make it?

  52. yankish2 - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    Why does Espi have to switch hit; he is weaker from the left side so why doesn't he give it up?Until Nats can beat the Marlins, they aren't going anywhere in the Division. And I am not an Orioles fan!

  53. Feel Wood - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    Woke up today realizing that in 5 days I will be sitting in Nats Park (not in my 20 game season ticket seat but a seat none the less) watching Edwin Jackson mow down those Red Sox. I am wondering if it will be anything like what used to happen when I went to O's games (before our lads returned).Red Sox Nation always represents. They represented in the exhibition game at Nats Park before the 2010 season, or maybe it was 2009.Nats fans OTOH tend to ignore the exhibition game right before the season, except that one time when they let STH in for free to see the new ballpark. So prepare for a Red Sox Nation takeover on Tuesday. But remember, it's an exhibition game, so the takeover doesn't count.

  54. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    I REALLY REALLY want to go on Tuesday, I even have tickets, but WORK is going to dictate on whether or not i can go. 3:05 start stinks (1:05 would be worse)

  55. Sunderland - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    Espinosa has historically (college and minors) actually hit better from the left side. But in late November 2010, he had surgery to remove the hook of his hamate bone in his right hand. And 2011 was definitely affected by that. And the weakness in his right hand would affect his left handed swing more. Reasonable chance his left handed swing is better this year.

  56. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    MicheleS on H-Rod related quotes (prior thread), I liked this one even better:"He's done everything that you would hope that he would do," pitching coach Steve McCatty said. "With his ability, if he does that, obviously his stuff is pretty frickin' bueno."

  57. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    Smuff, that's what I thought at first, too, but the timing doesn't seem to match up. I can't tell when other people are having problems, of course, unless they say so, but from my end, it's getting worse over the past several weeks.

  58. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    1a, that's the McCatty quote I was trying to post when the site went out this morning. I thought I broke it.

  59. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    Yankish, I think Danny's relative weakness from the left side is a recent development. IIRC he was solid there (and that would be the majority of his ABs) in the minors. As to why not, it has to be pretty bad, and relatively unfixable, to switch sides of the plate after years of looking at breaking balls one way. Really hard to pull that off.

  60. Sunderland - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    Breaking again. One I posted is now gone. It's annoying because it was brilliant and illuminattive.4th one today, written, posted, could see it then, and then it got lost upon page reload.

  61. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    They really are better Farid. Johnson's strategy of just sitting back and letting "natural" chemisty/competition take hold is working not just at the majors level but throughout the minors. Surprisingly most especially with the pitchers.Its NOT FOR nothing that the Nats pitchers are suddenly pitching like there's no tomorrow. Jackson probably came in thinking ho hum I'll just pitch for the man like I've been doing … suddenly here he is among some of the top arms in the NL. And most all are younger and better than he is? Not in his mind … ~smiles~ Yep ol' Davey just sits back sippin' on his iced tea and tells Boz well you know I don't think LaRoche will making that left turn against a left-hander anyway … Ha … Chemistry: Encouraging.Albeit I think they should pick up Hawpe and put him next to Nady on the bench to add more fire power to the offense. I'm not seeing the same sort of synergy offensively … I actually expect more in the Syracuse lineup with Harper, Brown, Moore, et al. But, we'll see …

  62. Sunderland - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    Espinosa historically (collge and minors) better hitter from the left. Surgery on his right hand November 2010. Right hand weak going into 2011, which affected his left handed swing more than his right handed swing.

  63. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    I don't think Corey Brown was optioned to a specific minor-league team (yet). He was assigned to minor-league camp. He was assigned to AAA Syracuse per International League transactions and Baseball America.

  64. RPrecupjr - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    Since we're now less than a week away from OD, can we get an update on the full scoop about Duffy's, e.g. are they going to be open for just those of us here, will they be needing a count, etc.?I'm taking off work at noon to be there, but won't be able to stay for the whole game, probably have to leave by 430. Here's hoping from our point of view it IS over by then :)

  65. Hippies? Where?? - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    Jackson probably came in thinking ho hum I'll just pitch for the man like I've been doingThat's just his way of sticking it to The Man.Must have been a tie-dyed diaper baby…

  66. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    Precup, Andy will be opening at 2 pm, just show up.

  67. alexva - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    Spring training performances mean little to me. No significant injuries is a plus however.I am very encouraged by the offseason moves adding significant talent to the team. I'm encouraged by the respect that the team is earning and am happy to have the current management in place.My discouraging thoughts are if we fall just short of the promised land, there will be cries of failure. The fact is that we still are playing with a disfuntional lineup and, while I think Rendon and Harper will go a long way to fixing that, Desmond is no leadoff hitter and Espinosa is no #2 hitter. Now if they play above their abilities and we get to watch playoff games, bye bye to discouraged me.

  68. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    Desi and Espi leading the way on the lineup card? Very discouraging. I don't care how much they love Desi and Espi, you play games to win and Zim can't be up there with 2 outs and no one on every AB if the club expects to win.Way too many Ks not enough contact for each of them to be in the roles the Nats are asking them to be in. Maybe their raw talent will shine through, it could happen, they could both break-out, but let's face it, they are wildy over matched in the bigs and the odds that they BOTH get it at the same time? Ouch. Either the Nats find a way to get Lombo in LF maybe (taking advanatage of Morse's abesence for the time being) to bat leadoff with Bernadina in CF to bat 2 in a platoon to get him out of there against LHP (with Espi and Desi batting at the bottom of the order), or maybe they go with Lombo and DeRosa as the starting middle infield. Not sure, but Davey has to get guys at the top who can get on and over. And they can't wait a couple of months for Desi and/or Espi to figure it out while they lose games 3-1 every night before they realize that they obviously put the wrong guys in the top of the order roles. Every game counts.

  69. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    Duffy's Opening Day on Facebook"We will open early on Opening day April 5th to show the game against the Cubs with sound. Open at 2pm. With Happy Hour Prices. Take a half day and come hang out with us! And wear your Nats Gear!"

  70. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    "My discouraging thoughts are if we fall just short of the promised land, there will be cries of failure."Name a team for whom that isn't true. I'll wait.

  71. The Beaten Horse - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead, too.

  72. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Baseball is full of slick-fielding middle infielders who don't do much at the plate. If Espi can just hit .240 and chip in 15-20 homers, that's pretty darn good for any second baseman not named Cano or Kinsler.The same could be said for Desi, except for the errors. Teams can live with a weak-hitting shortstop who can field, or a mediocre shortstop who can hit. Tough to deal with both. I'm still a believer, but Desi really needs to step up his game this year.

  73. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    Section 3,"Laddie, you're forgetting Jerry Hairston Jr. Very nice year here off the bench."Guess you missed this part of my post:"He (meaning Carroll) is not as good at the plate as Hairston, but he wants to be here, and Hairston did not. A wash, at worst, and probably a bit of a plus. We will win with pitching and D, and it's on D that Carroll shines."Agree that Hairston was their best reserve last year, and it would have been an oversight to not give him his due.Laddie_Blah_Blah

  74. jeeves - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    It doesn't seem to matter what Desi does. Other than for a brief time at the start of spring training, the shortstop has been a consistent offensive player since late last July. At the moment, in st, he has a better average than any starter other than Zimm. Defensively he has made four errors but two of those came in, I believe, the very first game and one more shortly after. Now, that should be encouraging.

  75. JaneB - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    I feel for Livan and for Pudge, too. This is an unforgiving sport. A week from this moment we will be in full out Baseball Season. Man, it felt like it might never get here. When do we know who the 25 will be? Then we will still be guessing who goes when Storen and Morse come back, but still…

  76. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    CBS is reporting that the Braves are going to sign Livo.

  77. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Espi cannot hit .240 and bat 2nd. Incremental progress in Desi's game, whether bat or glove, is simply not enough. That guy needs major improvement, and he needs consistency. He needs to be frickin' bueno. They can't have a long leash with him. He's had plenty of chacnes. Make or break time for Desi. Hope he makes it, but if he doesn't then get him out of there.

  78. alexva - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    Sec3, agreed but my point is that the expectations of some might be a bit too high. Both in terms of the team's sucess and the rate at which improvement is demanded. Also, I think Espinosa can be of value at SS hitting 6-8. If you factor in Rendon next year at 2B batting 2nd the there is only one hole in the lineup left to fill.

  79. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    Section 3, Guess you missed this part of my post:Indeed I did, as 1a pointed out above. Again: sorry, my bad.

  80. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    Sec3, agreed but my point is that the expectations of some might be a bit too high. Both in terms of the team's sucess and the rate at which improvement is demanded. Ah, that was my point, too. We are agreed. Have been all along, it looks like. Good.

  81. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    Anon 2:08, is that to a major league contract? Did they say?

  82. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    Encouraging: The team that we most likely need to finish ahead of to make the playoffs just signed Livan Hernandez after he was released by the (L)astros.

  83. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    From Rotoworld"Only about two hours passed between the time Hernandez was released by the Astros and then showed up in the Braves' spring training clubhouse, which is just 20 minutes away from the Astros'. He'll slide into the No. 5 spot in the rotation and keep it warm until Tim Hudson is ready, likely pushing Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran to Triple-A."

  84. Section 222 - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    So prepare for a Red Sox Nation takeover on Tuesday. But remember, it's an exhibition game, so the takeover doesn't count. Good point, just like all the rest of Spring Training. Except if it's an encouraging sign.Some good points on Espi vs. Desi here. I think the Desi skeptics are inclined to give Espi more slack because:1. He's a year and a half younger and has four years less professional baseball experience. 2. He's a really good fielder, which Desi is not.If Espi has an awful year at the plate this year, he'll be under alot of scrutiny next year for sure. Some might even suggest moving him to shortstop where a good field, no hit guy is alot more bearable. Oh wait, they already have suggested that.

  85. Diz - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    I haven't read through the whole thread, but has anyone seen or posted this from ESPN?Talk about the need of editing…http://espn.go.com/mlb/preview12/story/_/id/7734460/previewing-national-league-east-teamsI can see how we are headed for fourth place with 2 first and second basemen and 2 short stops with only a LF in the outfield and no catcher.

  86. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    Has anyone checked Espinosa's vision/eyesight?

  87. Anonymous - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    Because of his fielding, there's really no doubt that Espy should be playing up the middle on a major league team. There's plenty of doubt as to whether he belongs hitting second in the lineup, but not that he belongs on the team.Historically, Desi has been shaky in the field and at the plate…sometimes more one than the other. He's gotten consistently better over the years, and he needs to take another step forward, but that's the basic difference between the two players. And why Desi likely has more to be concerned about with Lombo and Rendon waiting in the wings.

  88. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    LIVO LIVES!! going to the braves.

  89. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Rendon isn't in the wings. More like backstage, possibly in his dressing room, which doesn't have a star on the door, yet.

  90. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    I prefer to look at the big picture, which is this team going forward from 2012. In the past week I have heard interviews from two different players – Matt Kemp and Jose Bautista, both of whom said they were terrible a few years ago. Both of them stressed that they needed to hang in and keep working hard until things clicked. Very few young players just show up as finished products – it requires many years of patience. If Jayson Werth and Adam Dunn can both have years like they had last year – why do we think a second year player should never struggle? It's a difficult game. I just think that when a team is very young you just have to wait and watch for the evolution of the players. There will be ups and downs and ugliness along with the glorious moments. It's a frustrating game and it is not for the fan who requires instant gratification. Somewhere yesterday someone posted that Jordan Zimmermann still made some mental errors – duh, do you think? How many major league games have some of these guys played? I think it's fun to watch them grow – I love all of the raw talent and energy on the field. GYFNG!!!

  91. alexva - Mar 30, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    re Rendon – if only he were the stand-in because I swear that Desi's throat is scratchy

  92. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    Also worse over the past several weeks for me, and if memory serves it's not always during game threads.Section 3, My Sofa said… Smuff, that's what I thought at first, too, but the timing doesn't seem to match up. I can't tell when other people are having problems, of course, unless they say so, but from my end, it's getting worse over the past several weeks. March 30, 2012 1:04 PM

  93. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    LOLSection 3, My Sofa said… 1a, that's the McCatty quote I was trying to post when the site went out this morning. I thought I broke it. March 30, 2012 1:04 PM

  94. DWS - Mar 30, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    The odd 503 error and also doesn't update by times.I usually watch/listen to games so unsure if that's related.

  95. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    I don't do Facebook but you can put me down as a "probably going."Section 3, My Sofa said… Duffy's Opening Day on Facebook "We will open early on Opening day April 5th to show the game against the Cubs with sound. Open at 2pm. With Happy Hour Prices. Take a half day and come hang out with us! And wear your Nats Gear!" March 30, 2012 1:46 PM

  96. Roseanne Roseannadanna - Mar 30, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    It's always something.The Beaten Horse said… Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead, too. March 30, 2012 1:51 PM

  97. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    That's according to that venomous fishwife, Addison DeWitt, he's angling to be the understudy (just trying to do my part for the metaphor team). ;-)Section 3, My Sofa said… Rendon isn't in the wings. More like backstage, possibly in his dressing room, which doesn't have a star on the door, yet. March 30, 2012 2:52 PM

  98. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    Pretty sure it's an open page, 1a, but you don't have to "RSVP" either. Maybe we'll see you there!

  99. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    I guess I'll mosey on over to the new post. Oh, yeah, one more thing: Good for you, Livo!

  100. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    I don't know, it told me to log in when I tried to look at the RVSP postings.Section 3, My Sofa said… Pretty sure it's an open page, 1a, but you don't have to "RSVP" either. Maybe we'll see you there! March 30, 2012 4:01 PM

  101. Tom in AR - Mar 30, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    Diz said… I can see how we are headed for fourth place with 2 first and second basemen and 2 short stops with only a LF in the outfield and no catcher.Diz – I think it is a new defensive alignment that focuses on not letting anything through the infield. Hopefully Werth has the speed to cover the entire outfield.As far as the editing, they also have Edwin Jackson listed as a lefthander and didn't mark Espinosa as a switch hitter. Details about the Nats are probably beneath their notice.Must say, I am looking forward to exceeding their 4th place expectations.

  102. Cwj - Mar 30, 2012 at 8:12 PM

    The Nats will win 87 games :-)However, if Morse misses more than a month, I'd drop it down to 84ish. No way, unless the entire pitching staff is injured, do that Nats finish .500 or less.I just don't see how that could happen.Go Nats!

  103. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    Here's a nice Atlanta newspaper blog item on the Livo signing.

  104. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    I guess Livo's already got at least one fan there in the fellow he was chatting up while waiting in the on-deck circle last year. After getting his hit, Livo gave him a bat.

  105. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    Oh, yeah, well, to respond you need to be on FB. To read it, you don't.

  106. ehay2k - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    Natsfan1a – Livo gave the fan the bat after calling, then hitting, his HR!Not surprised the Braves signed him – he's inexpensive, he's a great clubhouse guy, they have a void, and he OWNS the Braves. ;-)So happy we'll see him. I guess I'll have to swap my Astros tix since Livo won't be there.

  107. natsfan1a - Mar 30, 2012 at 11:37 PM

    Thanks, ehay, I was thinking that he had a dinger but I was too lazy to look it up.

  108. Cwj - Mar 30, 2012 at 11:46 PM

    After being released by Houston, I was almost hoping Livo would retire and join the Nats as a bunting coach :-)But I wish him well with the Braves.

Archives

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