Skip to content

Nats’ offensive issues showing

Apr 30, 2012, 1:50 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Rookie Tyler Moore recorded one of the Nationals' four hits on Sunday.

LOS ANGELES — Bryce Harper strode to the plate late this afternoon, the shadows starting to creep onto the emerald green field at Dodger Stadium, and surveyed the situation.

Top of the ninth. Two outs. Man on first. His team trailing 2-0. A hard-throwing right-hander on the mound.

A home run, you know, would've tied the game.

"I was thinking the same thing," Harper said. "I wanted to hit a bomb, for sure."

What does this say about the state of the Nationals' lineup? Their best hope is for a 19-year-old with less than 24 hours of big-leagueRead more »

  1. Section 222 - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:56 AM

    It may be harsh but it may be time to say goodbye to Xavier Nady and bring up Corey Brown.Don't hold your breath. Brown's a LH outfielder, and we already have two of those — Bernadina and Ankiel. But now that Moore is here, and they apparently have confidence in his defense in LF, look for him to get whatever platoon starts are out there for a RH hitter. Once Werth is back, we'll probably see him in RF with Ankiel in CF and Harper in LF against RHP. Against lefties, unless Ankiel really heats up, Harper will play CF and Moore will start in LF. Nady (RH) and Bernie (LH) coming off the bench to PH. When Zim returns either Nady gets released or Moore goes back to the minors. Harper's probably here to stay, at least until Morse is ready to return. DeRosa's time may have come and gone. I expect he'll be resting that oblique for quite awhile.

  2. Scott from Burke - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:15 AM

    A 4 game losing streak onthe west coast for an east coast team is no reason to panic..if they win the next four it will be happy time all over again…a bucnh of nats fans in full throat would be nice.

  3. whatsanattau - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:21 AM

    Been gone all weekend. Missed seeing the debut. DVR failed. Xavier needs to accept reassignment and go work on his stroke. DeRosa needs to sharpen up on rehab before coming back too. Haven't caught up on all the news, gossip, and speculation yet. When's Zimmerman due back?

  4. peric - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:22 AM

    When Zim returns either Nady gets released or Moore goes back to the minors. Harper's probably here to stay, at least until Morse is ready to return. DeRosa's time may have come and gone. I expect he'll be resting that oblique for quite awhile.Davey's made it pretty clear and plain. Whoever hits stays, whoever doesn't goes. I think with the warmer weather now fast approaching in DC that excuse/explanation for cold bats will be gone. If Harper and Moore hit they will stay and play more and more. If they don't they will get optioned. I have confidence both will hit. And seeing the dual promotions will hopefully have an effect on those left behind like Brown.Jason Michaels, Mark Teahen are looking exposed with their middle of the order promoted. I am keenly interested to see what Rizzo does about that. Perhaps Chris Rahl gets promoted to Syracuse?

  5. peric - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:26 AM

    Haven't caught up on all the news, gossip, and speculation yet. When's Zimmerman due back?You almost have to wonder if Zim and Morse will be ready about the same time as Chris Marerro. That would give Davey 3 additional bats. Albeit I suspect Marerro will get optioned to Syracuse to work back into shape.

  6. baseballswami - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:30 AM

    Was this really the first time we got shut out? Guess we're not THAT bad offensively.

  7. Exposremains - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    You often hear you need an ace to stop losing streaks, Nats have a few. Thats how bad the offense is. Eventually, all that pressure on SP will come back and bite them. With Zim and Morse last year they were not that much better.

  8. baseballswami - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:33 AM

    I really like espi but does he need a AAA tune up?

  9. Exposremains - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:35 AM

    apart from Laroche, surprisingly Harper seems to be the only one with a plan at the plate.

  10. Adam - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    I was at the game today. Seeing Harper live was a sight to behold. He's going to be a season ticket selling machine…

  11. peric - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:49 AM

    I really like espi but does he need a AAA tune up?Watching Lombardozzi's batting average and stats plummet after getting to bat in Espinosa's slot? Not to mention Desmond's as well?Who do you replace that glove and arm with? The next best looks to be Jeff Kobernus who looks like a great hitter who will soon be in Syracuse but he doesn't have Espinosa's abilities or athleticism in the field.Its his second year. Just like Harper … you just keep playing him … a switch hitter needs 1000 at bats to see if whether he is going to hit major league pitching … or become a bench player. This is how its going to be … this all a part of player development matching the styles of Rizzo and Johnson. We will all just have to be patient just as fans are with minor league teams. Even though the pitching has been beyond belief and beyond anyone's expectations up to this point. In the end the Nationals are a player development work in progress. And its definitely a better idea to play your better prospects than to go with bench players like Tracy, Nady, and Ankiel. The Nats still need to continue developing their future.

  12. Scott from Burke - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:51 AM

    Peric: Is Moore a bench player, or you think he's gonna start?

  13. whatsanattau - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:55 AM

    Am I missing something. As I look through the previous stories, the only news on Zimms return is that he might be ready after his 15 days are up. How do you get from there to same time as Morse in late June?

  14. peric - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:05 AM

    Peric: Is Moore a bench player, or you think he's gonna start?They should start him … because that's a part of his development plan. But they asked Davey and he said it all happened so fast …. he needed a day off to ponder it.I suspect that until he learns to play left field he will get starts and then get double switched out fairly early if he isn't hitting. He'll likely also be used to give LaRoche a day off. If he hits up to his potential he will play. No one is really hitting well except for LaRoche. I suspect its going to be a lot easier than expected for Harper and Moore to force their way into the lineup. At least until Morse comes back … then it will be interesting.

  15. Manassas Nats' Fan - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:07 AM

    It goes to the hitting coach that none of these players have a plan. FP mentions that when he played the hitting coach wanted to know his plan before he went to the on deck circle. Eck only sits there with his clip board and says nothing. What kind of coaching is that. I just hope he doesn't ruin Harper and Moore.

  16. peric - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:09 AM

    How do you get from there to same time as Morse in late June?Both Zim and Morse have injuries that take time to heal and require rest. Zim says he won't need that long … those words are eerily similar to what we've heard in the past. Best not to have any expectations for a rapid return. I'm sure that's why Davey decided to call up Tyler Moore in addition to Bryce Harper. He's trying to get some fire power into the lineup. If Rendon hadn't gotten hurt doubtless he too might have been next on tap since he is already on the 40-man.

  17. Scott from Burke - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:11 AM

    Peric: earlier today you wrote: Moore is a first baseman. Not an outfielder. Moore is a bench player.

  18. Section 222 - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    I totally agree that you can't count on anything the Nats say about the extent of injuries. They're always "not worried" until they are. That being said, we don't have any indication that Zim's injury is as serious as Morse's. I won't be surprised if he's not back by May 6, which I believe is the first day he can return from the DL, but Morse isn't due until mid June at the earliest. If Zim is gone that long, this team is in deep doodoo. I don't care how ready Moore is, he's no Ryan Zimmerman. Neither is Harper….yet.

  19. Scott from Burke - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    Based on what I saw the last three days, with a right hander pitching, I'd rather have Harper batting. His bat speed looks faster than Zim's.

  20. Scott from Burke - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    And it's hard to double him up..he has better foot speed..Zim runs like he's got weights in his shoes

  21. whatsanattau - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    Ahhh so speculation as opposed to news. Not that I'm casting aspersions … Just differentiating. Thanks.

  22. SonnyG10 - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:30 AM

    Peric @ 10:49…I'm in full agreement with you re the work in progress. We need to keep in mind we don't have a finished product yet.

  23. peric - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:39 AM

    Peric: earlier today you wrote: Moore is a first baseman. Not an outfielder. Moore is a bench player.He is until he learns the outfield position as I stated to section 222. He isn't an outfield starter … yet. The operative word is YET. Thus he was double-switched out for Ankiel. The score was only 2-0 and the Nats bats have been beyond dormant bordering on pathetic. Why take a big bat out of the lineup so early? doh!Moore wouldn't have even started this game were it not for Werth's migraines.You still sound like a nine year old. Stop.

  24. peric - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:42 AM

    Based on what I saw the last three days, with a right hander pitching, I'd rather have Harper batting. His bat speed looks faster than Zim's.Harper is going to play every day, every game against right handed and left handed pitching … even when Zim gets back. What part of that don't you understand?

  25. Scott from Burke - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:45 AM

    He had one chance and handled it..he was switched in the 7th for Ankiel(lefty) when a right hander came out of the pen

  26. A DC Wonk - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:46 AM

    We will all just have to be patient just as fans are with minor league teams. Patience? Here? Although I suppose if you look hard you can find some. ;-)

  27. Scott from Burke - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:46 AM

    I was responding to this: I don't care how ready Moore is, he's no Ryan Zimmerman. Neither is Harper….yet. Based on what I saw the last three days, with a right hander pitching, I'd rather have Harper batting. His bat speed looks faster than Zim's.

  28. Scott from Burke - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:48 AM

    All-Time Rank (among Batters): #296. Eric Davis… #297. Ken Williams… #298. Del Ennis… #299. BOBBY MURCER… #300. Tony Fernandez… #301. Roy White… Three bhehind Eric the Red…average? Dope

  29. Section 222 - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:49 AM

    What part of that don't you understand?Why do you add that to your otherwise reasonable comment? Talk about sounding like a nine year old. He isn't an outfield starter … yet. The operative word is YET. Thus he was double-switched out for Ankiel. Actually, he was an outfield starter…. today. He was double switched to allow Stammen to pitch more than one inning. And yes, if Werth didn't get a migraine, Nady would have started in LF. Doesn't look like that will last long.

  30. Section 222 - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:52 AM

    Based on what I saw the last three days, with a right hander pitching, I'd rather have Harper batting. His bat speed looks faster than Zim's.Harper has been impressive in the first two games of his major league career. (Not sure what he did on Friday, but he wasn't playing in LA that night.) Still, I'll take our $100 million dollar man, the guy who leads the majors in career walk off homeruns. But that's just me.

  31. Scott from Burke - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:56 AM

    I think foot spped means a lot, on the bases and in the field. Also, he's been here two days and hasn't gotten hurt (yet). That works for me. If Zimmerman had made that catch against the center field wall today they woudl have needed a stretcher to get him off the field. Gimme youth!

  32. A DC Wonk - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:58 AM

    Fear and Ignorance said… Say good bye to 1st Place. We will not see it again this year. This is a .500 team on the way to 4th place.Wanna bet?

  33. Scott from Burke - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:58 AM

    When Bobby Valentine was managing the Rangers someone walked in his office and excitedly mentioned Oddible McDowell. Valentine shook his head ruefully. "He'll never be this good again." I hope the same isn't true about Zim, but i'd like to see him play a whole year. he's an old 27

  34. Scott from Burke - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:59 AM

    DC Wonk: I LOve it!! Money shuts people up fast!

  35. Section 222 - Apr 30, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    Also, he's been here two days and hasn't gotten hurt (yet).As Peric might say, the operative word is "yet." Harper plays all out, and it's great to watch. I loved the way he sprinted to first on the comebacker he hit in his first AB. He's going to beat out some infield hits that's for sure. But I don't think you can conclude much about his durability from two games, just like you can't conclude much about how well he'll do over the course of his first few seasons. If memory serves, Jason Heyward hit a HR in his first MLB at bat. He was awful last year. I'm not expecting Harper to be a superstar this year, Zim already is one, though I will grant you that he's a bit more fragile than we'd all like.

  36. Scott from Burke - Apr 30, 2012 at 4:08 AM

    If you were to put both players ont he trade market you would get a lot more for Harper than you would for Zim…agree?

  37. A DC Wonk - Apr 30, 2012 at 4:09 AM

    I'm not expecting Harper to be a superstar this year…Me neither, but, I have to say, I'm very impressed with what I've seen so far. Besides the obvious (amazing throw yesterday, great catch today — hey, not bad for an ex-catcher, eh?), the slightly more subtle things: the sac fly yesterday, and, impressive to me: the walk today in the 9th. Nice take for a 19 year old with full-count-two-outs.While someone (Mark Z, someone else?) pointed out that in the history of MLB, only three teenagers ever hit more than 10 HR in their rookie season — Harper is showing good fundamentals, and is, clearly, playing (as usual, apparently) well above his age. Good for him. And good for us!

  38. Section 222 - Apr 30, 2012 at 4:11 AM

    If you were to put both players ont he trade market you would get a lot more for Harper than you would for Zim…agree?Of course. Particularly considering Harper's significantly less expensive contract for the next four years. That's a different question from the one you raised earlier — Who you'd rather have at the plate with the tying run on 1st. I'll take Zim or Morse right now.

  39. Section 222 - Apr 30, 2012 at 4:13 AM

    Nice summary of Harper's first two games DC Wonk. He's a true 5 tool player. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch him develop.

  40. Drew - Apr 30, 2012 at 4:16 AM

    While Jeff Kobernus has a career .284 average in the minors and steals tons of bases, he seems to have the same drawback as a certain lead off hitter whom I've promised not to discuss until June.His career on base percentage is just .318 because in 1,008 plate appearances he's drawn only 44 walks.

  41. Scott from Burke - Apr 30, 2012 at 4:17 AM

    Fair enough, but neither Zim or Morse are capable of swinging a bat right now..against a lefty I'd rather have a healthy Morse, but againsta righty I'd take Harper..perhaps pitcher will find a hole and he'll struggle, but then again..perhaps not.

  42. Scott from Burke - Apr 30, 2012 at 4:19 AM

    assuming the contracts/options/all of the were the same, If you were to put both players on the trade market RIGHT NOW you would get a lot more for Harper than you would for Zim. Zim's ceiling is just not that high. If harper was on another team would the Nats trade Zim for Harper? Would you? I would

  43. Drew - Apr 30, 2012 at 4:42 AM

    Mark:I enjoyed your reports from L.A.If you get a chance in the next couple of days could we get some injury updates on the prospects? The Nats have the makings of an impressive club on the sidelines.What is wrong with Matt Purke and Robbie Ray? How are Goodwin's legs, Rendon's ankle? How are Solis and that other promising pitcher (Taylor Jordan?) doing in their recoveries from Tommy John surgery?And what is shortstop Rick Hague's status? Do the Nats still see him as a prospect? Thanks, Mark.

  44. Unknown - Apr 30, 2012 at 4:48 AM

    Rick Eckstein needs to be canned. Our hitters are all MLB players, but they go up and can't advance leadoff runners, strike out on pitches in the dirt, and so on. Not that firing Eckstein will solve things over night, but our offense has always been bad under him. FP said it best today when he said he's getting tired of tipping the cap to opposing pitchers every night.

  45. jeeves - Apr 30, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Good questions Drew. I second your requests.

  46. alexva - Apr 30, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    You hit as part of a lineup. A lineup without a leadoff heater and missing it's 3/4/5 hitters is going to struggle. If Eckstein was the problem he'd be gone by now. If you blame him for Espi striking out on pitches in the dirt then we see things differently.14-8 for April, anybody here that would have declined that on Opening Day?Harper's coming to the Park, prepare for liftoff.

  47. 164abb6e-9075-11e1-aba1-000bcdcb471e - Apr 30, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    I don't think it's a matter of "blaming" Eckstein. It's a question of needing to see if something else works with this particular group of players in this environment. Eckstein could be a great hitting coach somewhere else or under different circumstances.Maybe it won't make any difference. But after seeing this exceptional futility for part of two seasons (if not longer), I think you've got to say "Rick, there may not have been anything else you could do, but we've got to try something else. We can't just sit still and accept these results, the stakes are too high."

  48. Steady Eddie - Apr 30, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Numbers and letters guy — that's the most insightful and thoughtful characterization of the situation with Eckstein I've seen here yet, in contrast with the rote "off with his head!" mob chants. Thanks. Comments like that are why I keep coming back to this blog (along with our terrific host/ kibitzer in chief, Mark, of course! ;-)).

  49. Section 222 - Apr 30, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    “We’re playing good,” Jayson Werth said. “You can sit here and complain about the hitting all you want. But winning games is most important, no matter how you do it.”That's from Kilgore's post this morning. And it's probably the answer that the Nats' management would give to calls to can Eckstein. I doubt a club that is 14-8 and tied for first place is going to fire its hitting coach. Of course, I also doubted that we'd bring up both Harper and Moore this weekend, so there's that…

  50. alexva - Apr 30, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    @8:07 – you're right, situations like that happen all the time and are often the best course of action. I just don't think this is one of those times.

  51. Unknown - Apr 30, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    A combination of the injury curse and Rizzo's total concentration on the pitching staff while ignoring the offense is very frustrating to Nats fans. I seriously doubt that the middle infielders will ever hit major league pitching on a consistent basis. Rizzo has done a good job with the pitching but he has been a disaster with the offense. Additionally, he has accumulated a bench consisting of total garbage–Nady, DeRosa, Tracy, Bernadina. This team desperately needs a qualified hitting coach. Yet, Rizzo continues to give Eckstein a free pass even though he has no qualifications to be a major league hitting coach.

  52. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    I wonder what they are saying about the hitting coach for the Angels or Marlins?

  53. A DC Wonk - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Odd stat of the day: Espinosa and Nady each have more home runs than Albert Pujols. So does Ian — and Ian has a higher OBP and SLG than Pujols. Ouch!Other random stats:Nationals lead (tied) the league for fewest errors.Nats pitchers have allowed the fewest HR's, six. The next fewest is 12. (Ariz, second worst, has given up 24).

  54. TimDz - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    I looked up the Name "Nady" In Spanish, it means "Designado para la tarea"

  55. Unknown - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Let's face the facts with Ryan Zimmerman. He has had major health problems in just about every season since he came to the majors. I don't know whether it is a lack of conditioning problem or if he just has a Nick Johnson type body but, based upon his injury history, it was risky to sign him to a long term contract. If he has all these injuries during his prime years of 22 and 27, I shudder to think what will happen as he ages.

  56. MicheleS - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    Unknown, What will happen is Ryan will probably be moved to first base as some point. If Rendon pans out or some other prospect upends Rendon

  57. Section 215 Row A - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    TimDZ…Muy divertada!

  58. A DC Wonk - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    A combination of the injury curse and Rizzo's total concentration on the pitching staff while ignoring the offense is very frustrating to Nats fans. I seriously doubt that the middle infielders will ever hit major league pitching on a consistent basis. Rizzo has done a good job with the pitching but he has been a disaster with the offense. Additionally, he has accumulated a bench consisting of total garbage–Nady, DeRosa, Tracy, Bernadina.I disagree on a number of points:1. Rizzo has not "ignored" offense. (E.g., they made a serious play for Fielder, etc.) But there are priorities — and priority #1 for any team is pitching. And he's been proven right so far. 14-8 on the strength of the pitching (without Storen). 2. Asserting that Ian will never hit is really going out on a limb, imho. In any event, what you want most from middle infielders is fielding, and Ian/Espi are doing fine there.3. No teams have a "good" bench. Remember, guys on the bench are the ones who aren't good enough to start. When you're a light hitting team (as the Nats are right now), then of course your bench is going to hit even lighter (because if they weren't they'd be in the starting lineup). FWIW (and it's not worth a lot because of small sample size, but, still): the Nats as a team are tied for first with the highest number of PH RBI's. (Chad Tracy getting three of them, tied for the individual league lead).)Rizzo can't do everything at once. Remember, this was a team that lost 100+ games two years in a row. He, quite correctly, focused on pitching first (look at where it's put us now). He focused on building up the farm (so that he could trade four prospects for somebody the caliber of Gio, and still have guys like Harper, Moore, Rendon, Purke, etc., for the future). Oh, and he signed LaRoche, didn't he? And Werth. Imagine what our offense would be like without those two signings.Rizzo should be winning executive of the year.

  59. Theophilus T. S. - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    Re: Eckstein . . . What was apparent at the end of the game yesterday was not the hitters' "lack of a plan" but the inability to get a bat on a 93 mph FB in the strike zone. That's all Jansen threw — not a single curve, slider, whatever. Anybody — even Alberto Gonzalez — ought to be able to time a 93 mph FB. Swing-and-a-miss on 96 mph I understand but 93 just isn't that overpowering. Questions: (A) This is contrary to DeRosa's, Nady's, Ankiel's, Tracy's histories; did they all go over the hill at the same time? (B) If it's that they're over the hill, howcum Espinosa, Desmond, Flores, Werth, Zimmerman (before injury) are over the hill, too? They haven't faced a single pitcher this year w/ the overpowering stuff Strasburg, Gio, Jackson have. (C) Are they all just bad hitters? (D) Are they all — and I think this is the answer — streak hitters and they're all in a slump at the same time? (Which would imply that several of them are going to come out of it at or about the same time.) The Nats have great power hitters, but it's like alternative energy — if the sun don't shine, the wind don't blow, the lights go out. What the team really needs is a true high average hitter who starts/sustains rallies. My hope has been Rendon would be Washington's Pedroia/Michael Young/Helton/Mauer, etc. Looks like that's at least a couple of years away.And getting rid of Eckstein wouldn

  60. Theophilus T. S. - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    wouldn't hurt.

  61. NatsLady - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Wasn't able to watch much of the game yesterday, except for Gio's walks…Pretty much agree with Jayson on this one–wins are wins. Davey got what he wanted, a hot April with a bench that was, let's face it, just place-holders until Rizzo could bring up the young 'uns.When you argue about the bench players, you are arguing about, what, 5% of the at-bats? You might as well worry about increasing the pitchers' batting averages… basically, that's all you ask, does the bench (other than Flores) have a better batting average than letting the relievers hit? Um, yes.Watching RZ this spring and April, yes, the guy–for whatever reason–seems "fragile." (I think it's more because he plays hard. And he's not going to stop playing hard, he said so.)BUT, when he is rested and healthy you want him on your team! If the strategy is he plays a month and rests three weeks, so be it, we are still better off. While he's resting and recovering, let Lombo learn to play third (which he seems to be doing just fine).

  62. Theophilus T. S. - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    14 Ks last night, right? Sheesh. I hope there was a batting cage on the plane home.

  63. natsfan1a - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Speaking of April, hot or not, I enjoyed this retweet by Mark:Kevin Cooney ‏ @KevinCooneyPhillies are 10-12, guaranteed first losing April since 2007.Retweeted by Mark Zuckerman

  64. whatsanattau - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    The bench is neither as good as many claimed after the Cubs series, nor as bad as many claim after this road trip. DeRosa and Nady are better than they have played, but their pretty awful right now. If all the Nats were healthy and Harper was still here then the bench might be Ankiel, DeRosa, Lombo, Flores, and Tracy. Not excellent, but not too shabby either. And btw, if all the regulars were healthy, the only players on that list getting semi regular playing time would be Lombo and Flores. Unfortunately, Zimm, Morse, DeRosa, and Marerro are all hurt and Nady, Moore, Lombo, Ankiel, and Tracy are all getting more playing time than they probably should. Personally, I'd like Abreu, Harper, Werth in the outfield until Morse comes back and I'll make myself happy with Lombo at third until Zimm is back. (of course they'd have to sign Abreu, but ….)

  65. NatsLady - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    Wonk, agree, er, except, take a look at the Cards bench… OTOH, Matt Holliday is hitting .215. And their 2nd baseman is hitting an even .200. I'm looking at the Cards, because, without Pujols, they are similar to the Nats without Beast-mode Morse–good pitching, good fielding, adequate offense (although they are hitting .280 right now, I don't think that's sustainable.). They have had some blowout wins (13-1,10-3, 9-1) etc., which inflates their average run differential, but a win is only one win.

  66. NatsLady - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Lotta teams say that on the way home from K-Street, so there's that. Nats' pitching still leading MLB in strikeouts.Theophilus T. S. said…14 Ks last night, right? Sheesh. I hope there was a batting cage on the plane home.

  67. Tcostant - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    This is a good wake up call. You can't win ever close game.I like Moore and Harper in the bigs, I hope they both can hit here (now). I was impressed with both of them approach at the plate.West coast trips are hard, I was hoping for 4-2, but would have settled for 3-3; so 2-4 is a disaster. Especially coming home where your 8-2. Granted after starting the trip 2-0, I was hoping for so much more. And Saturday was a heartbreaker. Just hang on, play well and destrot the Phils!

  68. natsochist - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Fun bit of optimism for everyone today. Have a look at Coolstandings.com's standings and playoff percentages. Specifically, take a close look at the Nats "ExpW" and "ExpL" – expected wins and losses this year, compared to the Phillies:Washington: 87.6-74.4Philadelphia: 87.3-74.7Going on their projections for the rest of the NL, the Nats would take the first WC spot, which is nice – but I'm enjoying that even the projection systems are starting to show the Phillies in trouble.

  69. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    If you asked me a month ago if I would take 14-8 without Michael Morse, Drew Storen, and only 15 games of Ryan Zimmerman, I would say ABSOLUTELY.This team was built for pitching and had no margin of deviation for the offense. As I wrote over the winter, this team has to score on average 4 runs a game to compete. Well, they haven't been doing that and they have been winning because 3.36 runs a game has sufficed because the pitching/defense has only allowed 2.68 runs per game. Unfortunately over the weekend the Nats only scored 1.67 runs per game.I made a brief post over the weekend about the pendulum swinging and while each game Thursday to Sunday had certain anomalies, the weak links are now getting exposed as they do when the sample sizes get large enough, and certain players are not doing what they need to do.The worst part of what I have seen exposed is what I called last week "the plan" for the batter. If there is a plan, the only 2 executing it is Werth and LaRoche. The other 6 position players seem lost.How do you beat Kershaw? You really don't as he has to beat himself or you have to beat his bullpen. The Nats didn't get to the bullpen soon enough. Too many 1st pitch swings and not working the count. That is having a plan. Players like DeRosa and Nady were 1st pitching swinging and of course many others were too.

  70. NatsLady - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    But Nats hitters are right up there, 5th in the NL with most K's. Yes, I think it's officially time to worry about Espinosa. The walks are the only thing that keeps his OBP at .300 (reminds me of last year when he OBP was inflated by all those HBP.) OK, maybe teams don't get (or expect) that much production from their middle-infield, but he is down there with the Weeks boys and the guy the Phils brought up to replace Utley…You can't sit him, because you already have Lombo playing third. So he's got to hit.MLB 2B hitting

  71. Steady Eddie - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Agree with DC Wonk @ 9:26 — the problem with the bench isn't with the players as bench players, it's that they're starting.Also agree with whatsanattau except about Abreu — between his messing with the good clubhouse chemistry Rizzo has built, and his lousy glove, I'd much rather have Harper in CF or LF every day, and Moore and Ankiel platooning in the position that Harper isn't playing.

  72. fast eddie - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    USA Today says Harper will be sent down as soon as Zim comes off the DL. Huh? Could this be true?They also note that our home attendance is third from the bottom in the NL. Maybe it'll pick up now that the NFL draft is over (and after the Caps get bounced from the playoffs).

  73. NatsLady - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Ghost– I feel like you are my echo!! 100% on both of your major points, 14-8 is amazing for this team, especially under the circumstances, and you have to have a different strategy against Kershaw than against A,B or C. I said the exact same thing during the game as you said below!!!I was livid at the 4-pitch inning, and the first-pitch swings, and FP (idiot!) saying in the 6th inning, "he's going to get you on 0-2 so you might as well swing at the first pitch."——————————————–How do you beat Kershaw? You really don't as he has to beat himself or you have to beat his bullpen. The Nats didn't get to the bullpen soon enough. Too many 1st pitch swings and not working the count. That is having a plan. Players like DeRosa and Nady were 1st pitching swinging and of course many others were too.

  74. A DC Wonk - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    The worst part of what I have seen exposed is what I called last week "the plan" for the batter. If there is a plan, the only 2 executing it is Werth and LaRoche. The other 6 position players seem lost.And, as I noted above: it seemed like Harper had a plan, too. Imagine: you're suddenly and surprisingly yanked from AAA to the big show at age 19, you're adrenaline must be off-the-charts, and you can still go 2-for-6, with a double, RBI, and a two-out-full-count walk in the ninth. That he already has more patience than Ian, Espi, etc., is quite startling — and the comparison quite stark. Maybe those guys can learn from the teenager!

  75. natsfan1a - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    Speaking of offensive woes, interesting piece on Juan Pierre as the face of Phillies offense (will Charlie Manuel be doing a "small ball" commercial next?). :-)

  76. bowdenball - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    I think Ghost of Steve M nailed it perfectly. 14-8 with all these injuries? If you'd known about tine injuries a month ago every single one of us would have taken 14-8 happily. We probably would have taken it even before the news of the injuries.NatsLady: Saying that the only thing keeping Espinosa's OBP above .300 is walks is kind of like saying the only thing keeping someone's batting average above .300 is hits. The walks are actually a very very good sign for Espinosa. Players get hot and cold on balls in play and power, and Espinosa has shown the ability to do well with both of those. The walks are a new thing for him, though, and a very welcome sign. If he can rein in the strikeouts to his historical level of 25% or so he could be in for a surprisingly good rest of the season.The guy who should be a much bigger concern is Desmond.

  77. Steady Eddie - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    Steve M. — agree with everything at 10:03; except the weird thing is that Desi and Espi occasionally do have a game or an AB where they do have a plan, and work a pretty good AB — taking pitches, fouling them off until they walk or get one they can drive, etc. Even with Espi's terrible BA he's had some ABs where he was patient and made solid contact that just was hit directly at someone — which probably frustrated him so he mostly stopped trying it that way.The biggest problem I see with the two isn't that they haven't shown they're capable of taking a selective approach and performing this season (and I count "performing" for Espi as including drawing walks; his job is getting on base). It's that they seem stubbornly to refuse to stick to that approach between one game or one AB and the next. Contrast that with the approach BHarp has taken in every single AB so far. Let's hope the other two learn something from his example, because whatever else is going on in the dugout seemingly isn't taking with them.

  78. Steady Eddie - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    DC Wonk @ 10:15 — you and I must be channeling each other, wrote the same thing simultaneously.

  79. NatsLady - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    bowdenball, good point on Espi's walks, but the K's are overwhelming. And, sorry, but to me, a walk is not always as good as a hit.

  80. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    I was one of the people excited about the DeRosa signing in the off-season. I had said that if he played to what he did towards the end of last season, he could be the X Factor the Nats needed. Obviously what we saw in Spring Training is nothing like the player we saw in the regular season.I applaud Rizzo for bringing up youth. You usually get as we saw some quick dividends as it will take a while for the opposing pitchers to adjust as scouting lags behind. Enjoy BHarp and TyMo in the short-run. If they can make their own adjustments when the pitchers make their adjustments, enjoy them for the long-run.I would probably bite the bullet now and DFA Nady and bring up Corey Brown as I am sure he can OPS higher than .364. When Zimmerman and Morse are ready to return, Rizzo and Davey can send any one of the youngsters back to the Minors since they all have options.If I showed you this slash line .130/.161/.204/.364 or this slash line .081/.227/.081/.308 you would probably think those are pitchers who draw walks. Unfortunately those are Nady and DeRosa. Yes, Edwin Jackson's OPS is .444 and Strasburg's is .500.

  81. A DC Wonk - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    USA Today says Harper will be sent down as soon as Zim comes off the DL. Huh? Could this be true?My first (and current) reaction is: whoever said that must be talking through his hat. Harper impresses at the plate (having a plan, executing it), and in the field. If he continues like this, he'll never see AAA again. Granted, that might be a big "if" — but, nonetheless, until we see how he does this week, no decision could possibly be made on him.Over the last two games Harper has collected 1/6 the hits of the team, and 1/3 of their RBI's. Of course it's a ridiculously small sample size, but the fact is: he's one of a small group of non-pitchers that has actually made a contribution to the team over the last two days. How do you send down a guy who's already contributing? Sure, if he goes oh-for-this-week, then he's overmatched. But, over this weekend, he sure looked a heckuva lot less overmatched than almost anyone else on the team not named LaRoche.

  82. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Steady Eddie, I don't disagree that Desi and Espi have had some good at-bats. Its the overall picture. Desi's approach to going up to "party" worked for about 15 games and he has slumped the last 7.

  83. Steady Eddie - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Steve M. — right on target, particularly as between youth and the bench vets.With the kids (and I include Desi and Espi especially in that), they can still adjust their approaches. With the vets, what you see is what you're going to get. Nice to see Rizzo pretty decisively say it's time to cut bait.

  84. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    DC Wonk, in agreement with you on Harper. If he continues to rake, he stays. If he doesn't, then he may go back.From what I also read, by bringing him up before early June, they were also saying his Super 2 status has already kicked in so if he was sent back down, he is already eligible for 4 years of Super 2 arbitration under team control instead of 3 years. Any subsequent moves won't change the financial impact.By the way,Pete Kerzel — May 6 vs. Phillieswon the Harper debut Media prediction as being the closest.

  85. NatsLady - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    Of course, we didn't beat B (Billingsley) or C (Capuano) either… So maybe we should work the counts not only on Kershaw but on other pitchers… Just sayin'

  86. bowdenball - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    NatsLady-Of course not. That's reflected in Espi's terrible slugging percentage. His OBP is actually the one bright spot. Not that it's good or even acceptable, but it's not as bad as his other numbers, and really the only stat of his that gives us reason to be optimistic.

  87. fast eddie - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    I'm on the anti-Eckstein bandwagon with Theophilus/ManassasNatsFan/Unknown/164abb,etc:In any other industry, Eckstein would be long gone after three years of non-performance. In baseball, I assume the "good ol' boy" network is alive and well.

  88. A DC Wonk - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    DC Wonk, in agreement with you on Harper. If he continues to rake, he stays. If he doesn't, then he may go back.I'd even set the bar lower — he doesn't have to rake, he just has to be consistent at not looking overmatched — or, in other words, just look comfortable. Even while not raking, he looks better than a number of other starters up there. If he can do that, even if he's hitting .218, I think he'll stay. (Again — *if* he looks comfortable.(I picked .218, because Willie Mays was hitting just .218 after his first two weeks/15 games. They still must have liked what they saw in him!)

  89. A DC Wonk - Apr 30, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    (Just for kicks b/c I was a big Willie Mays fan):After his miserable first 15 games, in his second 15 games, he hit: .397/.478/.724 with 5 doubles, a triple, and 4 HR's; 17 RBI's.

  90. Tim - May 1, 2012 at 1:17 AM

    "What does this say about the state of the Nationals' lineup?" you ask…We are beset by injuries. Injuries are part of the game. I am very encouraged by the fact that we are in every game, and yet we are missing our closer, our cleanup hitter, our Face of the Franchise, our veteran setup man, and our #1 bench player. We also have a hurting RF with migraines, our durable setup guy has had a sore shoulder, and yet, night after night, we're in every ballgame.This is a marathon and not a sprint. When Morse and Zim come back, the offense will be fine. We need to NOT press and allow the guy behind you in the order place his role.We are a good team and we will stick around in the pennant race, even after Stras' limit is in place. We have the starters to handle the load, including Lannan.Let's get off the ledge and enjoy our team!

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

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.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter