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Harper or not, Nats struggling to score

May 2, 2012, 4:12 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Bryce Harper went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his home debut.

Bryce Harper found himself at Dodger Stadium over the weekend, and at Nationals Park Tuesday night, because his team desperately needed an offensive spark.

No matter how well the 19-year-old plays — and he's playing pretty darn well three games into his big-league career — the Nationals' offensive woes extend far beyond that. As was all too evident during a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the Diamondbacks, it's mighty difficult to win games when almost nobody in your lineup is producing at a level of competence.

"I think the last five or six games, we've been averaging two runs or something," Davey Johnson said. "That's just not going to cut it."

Actually, it's even worse than the manager realizes. During what has now become a five-game losing streak, the Nationals have scored a total of seven runs (1.4 per game). They've compiled 25 total hits (five per game). And they've struck out 45 times while drawing only 11Read more »

  1. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 2, 2012 at 4:33 AM

    When the highlight of the night is a throw to the plate that DIDN'T throw out a runner…

  2. peric - May 2, 2012 at 4:54 AM

    Could be worse and was … just last year until they started to take off a bit. The highlight could have been Michael Morse double-switched in the fifth inning for Willie Harris because a certain manager had to get Willie going.

  3. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 2, 2012 at 4:59 AM

    Alumni news that's not going to make any of us feel better: Jerome Williams tossed a three-hitter in the Angels' 4-0 win over Minny. Yeah, THAT Jerome Williams.

  4. Section 222 - May 2, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    Um, Willie Harris wasn't on the Nats last year, but Riggles definitely was enamored of the vets (Matt Stairs anyone?) and underestimated Michael Morse for years. Davey won't make that mistake. I was sure with this rotation that the Nats couldn't possibly lose 5 straight. But they just did. Our team ERA over the last 5 games is 3.20, and the starters' is even better. Just goes to show that you have to have at least a little hitting to win this game.I wonder when we'll get the word whether Zim will return on Sunday. It's going to be pretty hard to take if it turns out he's staying on the DL for awhile.

  5. Will - May 2, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    Why is no one calling out Davey Johnson?He's been pretty awful at managing the lineup. I understand that he's been dealt a pretty poor hand with injuries, but for god's sake, Rick Ankiel, Chad Tracy, Danny Espinosa and Mark DeRosa should NEVER be batting third!! Johnson's too enamored with 'roles' (both pitchers and batters) that it's warped his judgement. Adam LaRoche is a clean up hitter, so he can only bat 4th. Jayson Werth is the same, but bats 5th. Ramos- always 8th. Etc.What does that get you? A line of .190/.296/.274 from arguably the most important spot in the lineup.Ride the hot batters and rest the cold ones. Davey's seemingly done the opposite, giving game after game to washed up hasn't-been-for-4-years-now Xavier Nady, Chad Tracy and Mark DeRosa. Each of these guys hasn't had a productive season since at least 2008, why do the Nats expect something different to happen now?

  6. NatsLady - May 2, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    So much for "working the count."_________________________________________________"A perfect example: We had a very good pitcher on the mound, and they were very aggressive," Johnson said. "Guys were swinging the bat early trying to drive the ball. I'd like to see us get a little more aggressive like that. I think we will."_________________________________________________Not sure Cahill is the right pitcher for that approach. Luckily, he did get tired, just not soon enough.Another think you have to be aware of is that opposing teams are "up" for the Nats, they know they are only going to get, maybe, 2-3 runs and it doesn't help to tire out the starter because the bullpen is good (though not great without Storen). Pitchers are not relaxing, they are not giving anything away. After we left, LA lost to Colorado…Davey: LaRoche is tired. Give him a day off against the lefty and start Moore at first base, his natural position.

  7. JayB - May 2, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    I might have mentioned once or twice that Rizzo did not do what he needed to do over the off season. This team needed bats to go with the pitching. They needed offense in CF and the Bench……this is looking like a huge waste of great pitching just to save some cash. Rizzo's ego is holding the team back. His guys are not as good as he wants to believe. DeRosa, Nady, Mike C (thus Roger B), Rick A…..those are the moves he made over the winter to improve the offense. Those are the moves that are costing the team wins right now.Rizzo needed to improve the offense. He did not.

  8. JayB - May 2, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    oh and that hitting machine from Japan….Chad Tracey

  9. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 2, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    There is an old saying I first heard Ted Williams say, but I do not know where it originates, "if its low let it go, if its high let it fly." Eck doesn't preach that for sure, as we swing at lots in the dirt. Pitchers are good enough without swinging at balls. If it leaves the hand low the chances of it being a strike is not good.Working the count has its draw backs. Genreally the best pitch you get to hit is the first strike, and those who take generally behind 0-1, and the at bat goes down hill from tat. Working the count is good if the pitchers is not throwing strikes. Not particualrly good if he is throwing stikes early in the count.

  10. MicheleS - May 2, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    We are 14-9, we are still in first place.

  11. MicheleS - May 2, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    Oh. and Bryce is the real deal.

  12. ehay2k - May 2, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Agred about the hitting strategy. However, if everyone in the ballpark knows you will always put a home run swing on the first pitch you see, you are not getting a pitch to hit. Last night, for some reason there were two ceremonial first pitches – one from an Under Armour rep, and then later from a retiring general. Desi swung at both of them.Rick thought they were both "good cuts."

  13. Doc - May 2, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Waiting to get Morse and Zim back is no excuse for Ramos, Espi, Werth, Nady, Tracy, ect. not hitting.The Nats are making a lot of average oppositon pitchers look better than they are!

  14. natsfan1a - May 2, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Now, that's funny. :-)Last night, for some reason there were two ceremonial first pitches – one from an Under Armour rep, and then later from a retiring general.Desi swung at both of them.Rick thought they were both "good cuts."

  15. baseballswami - May 2, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    I think that you can't have it both ways – either you are aggressive and swing at the first pitch, which might be the only good pitch you see, or you work the count and make the pitcher work and run up his pitch count. Batters who don't work the count get out quickly and don't walk – on this post we tend to hammer batters who get out on the first pitch. Which is it? Aggressive? Or Selective? Do they as a group have any idea what the philosophy is supposed to be with any given pitcher? If you listen to the manager at all then you can hear that he changes his tune almost minute by minute. I think that must be tough on young players who don't know what to hear and what to tune out. Although last night the younger hitters looked the best – Desi, Lombo and yes, Harper, who made outs but looked pretty good at the plate. I agree that he looks like the real deal – I hope he does not become infected with the current epidemic of bad hitting. Praying for Zim and Morse to feel well soon!

  16. 320R2S15 - May 2, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Call out DJ, are you serious Will? You think you got more experience under your belt than Davy? PLEASE. Again, JayB has it right about the front office sleeping in a HIE on the hitting. I can pretty much assure you that Davy got all he could out of em, but they just figured they had gone far enough to keep the natives from stomping, and that would have to do. If I hear one more time that they are the richest owners in baseball I think i'm gonna puke.

  17. Candide - May 2, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    …Jordan Zimmermann had to be wrestled to the clubhouse floor when he went Mel Gibson on his team after today's loss…Okay, I made that up.In other news, Danny Espinosa is now officially below the Mendoza line, joining every left fielder on the team not named Harper.I didn't make that up.

  18. Gonat - May 2, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Inserting Ankiel into the 3 hole didn't work out too well. 0-4 with 2 K's. The worst part of the 2 K's was that he K'd the 1st time on 3 pitches and the 2nd time on 4 pitches. And by the way, he got a steady diet of challenge fastballs.Other than the 1st inning, Ankiel had men on base every at-bat.

  19. baseballswami - May 2, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Perspective – Albert Pujols is having trouble hitting. Perspective – the Dodgers are feasting on everyone, led by Matt Kemp. Those couple of close games go the other way and we are not so depressed right now. Seems like almost all of our pitchers have had a tougher start mixed in so far – was that Jordan's? Kind of weird that what passes for a tough start on our staff is considered a quality start in the books. 3 earned runs feels like a blowout to us – well , that's kind of because one or two would beat us. I feel bad for our pitchers because it seems like they are always in high stress situations. I know they are all tough guys, but still, a blow out would be nice every now and then. We need one big offensive game to help every one exhale – maybe we can catch a pitcher on a bad night?

  20. Gonat - May 2, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Doc, not sure why you are including Ramos in there, he has been one of the Nats better hitters with RISP and is batting .250. Just because he went 0-4 in the 8 hole, he only had 1 runner left on base.Players are going to go hitless, its the night after night hitless, K's, and GIDPs.Ankiel and Espi and unfortunately LaRoche all had RBI opportunities but it was Ankiel with runners on 1st and 2nd with NO outs that grounded into the double play that was just awful.Not a coincidence after that 6th inning goose egg that JZim left with bases loaded the next inning.

  21. NatsLady - May 2, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    That was my point. It's not so easy as "work the count" vs. "be aggressive, the first pitch might be your only pitch to hit."Gotta do more than that. Expand the strike zone, game situation, etc.,Slogans aren't enough.

  22. Section 222 - May 2, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Tired or not, LaRoche is a better hitter than Ankiel or Nady. I'll take Moore in LF tonight against a tough lefty, please. Can't blame the Nats bad hitting on Davey's lineup selection. If anything, it's the roster. But DeRosa, Tracy, and Nady have filled a total of 4 out of the 40 position player lineup spots during this losing streak. Can't really blame it on them. Blame the injuries if you like, but the remaining guys have to step up. They aren't getting it done.

  23. NatsLady - May 2, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Also, please stop with obssessing about order in the lineup. It doesn't matter 2 pins if Ankiel bats 3rd or 6th. What matters is HITS, especially some extra base hits with runners on base. Ankiel was correct not to be bunting.

  24. alexva - May 2, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    The approach to hitting has always been "get a good pitch to hit then don't miss it". In certain situations you may have to take a pitch or two but generally you need to be ready when that good pitch comes. I'm sure I heard FP say on more than a few occasions that Cahill got away with one. That means we are missing the good pitch and no amount of coaching or managing can do anything about that. I think Lombo is asserting himself at the top of the order and may soon find himself in the leadoff spot. I think he has the capability to do it and that would go along way to fixing the lineup. That and the return of Zimmerman and eventually Morse.

  25. 164abb6e-9075-11e1-aba1-000bcdcb471e - May 2, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    I think it was NatsLady who said the other day, correctly, that the key is not just "being aggressive" or "working the count," but rather avoiding being predictable. That means a varied approach tailored to circumstances: who is pitching ,what's he throwing, what did he throw you the last time, what did you hit the last time, how did he get you out the last time, is he tiring, etc.Obviously a hitter can overthink this stuff to the point of distraction (Yogi Berra famously said he couldn't hit and think at the same time), and it's sometimes hard just from watching to tell whether a batter has an "approach" or is just flailing. But when a whole team is failing like this, it's hard not to conclude these guys need help that they aren't getting from the coaching staff.

  26. NatsJack in Florida - May 2, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Danny Espinosa is an opposing pitchers dream….a sucker for the low off speed or breaking pitch in the dirt or the high hard one up around the shoulders.

  27. SFNats - May 2, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    The hitting right now is pretty bad. You can't argue with that. But even over this losing streak, the games have been close. If Harper's throw gets that call at the plate last night, for instance, it's a different ballgame. And there have been similar situations in a couple of the games the Nats have lost recently.All to say, they're not getting blown out, they're scuffling and losing close ones. That's what happens a lot to teams that are almost there. This team is close to being a contender, but they're still a piece or two away. Maybe in another month, with Zim, Harper, and Morse in the lineup, they'll have the hitting they need. But likely they'll need to add one more piece at the deadline or in the offseason.

  28. The Great Unwashed - May 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Oh my gosh, where do I start?Manassas, the whole idea of breaking balls in the dirt is that they look like good pitches until the last millisecond. They were actually good pitches. Albert Pujols and Matt Kemp strike out on those too.Will, I'm guessing you've never coached. Davey is working with what he has. Every coach or manager has to do that. It's the reality of things. The Nats have no other viable options. If they did, don't you think they would be playing them? Do you not see that they called up Harper and Moore because they were desperate?The hitters Davey has to work with all profile as bottom of the order types, but he has to put them somewhere. On the Rangers, for example, Espinsoa would be in AAA. But to call out Davey as not getting it given his hitory as a manager and as a player for that matter is a little shortsighted, don't you think?

  29. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 2, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Tack. Taking the same tack. A sailing term.

  30. MicheleS - May 2, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Gio on Intentional Talk

  31. JaneB - May 2, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Thank you Unwashed. What you said. And thanks for the Gio link, MichelleS. And the reality check as to our success, despite a five game losing streak. I wrestle with the "I'm a baseball fan here to enjoy whatever happens" part of me and the "Why the heck doesn't the world change based on my view of what 'better' could look like?" selves. I find I am happier being a fan, because I can't change the batting order or who we signed last summer, or who we lost in 2006. Today, the fan is winning. GYFNG!

  32. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    NatsLady says the order doesn't matter. I disagree. I also see the swagger the team had is changing. You could see it in JZim. Another game of no run support. At least Matt Cain got 1 run in support.Bryce Harper was brought up at the right time. This kid has an infectious good attitude and the next move has to be to bring up Corey Brown for Nady and send Espi to AAA when Zim comes back.

  33. bowdenball - May 2, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    If the first pitch is the only pitch you get to hit, then you take the pitches off the plate, you fight off the ones that are close, and you take your base. That's how you win baseball games. Take a look at the stats on walks and the stats on runs scored- the teams that are near the top in one are almost always near the top at the other.Swinging at the first pitch because you might not get another to drive is flat-out dumb. It's how a talented player with a quick bat like Ian Desmond ends up with a sub .300 OBP, and it's how you grind an offense to a screeching halt.

  34. NatsNut - May 2, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    1a, you got to it before me, but ditto. natsfan1a said… Now, that's funny. :-)ehay2k said… …Last night, for some reason there were two ceremonial first pitches – one from an Under Armour rep, and then later from a retiring general. Desi swung at both of them.Rick thought they were both "good cuts."

  35. phil dunton - May 2, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    JayB. Agree, except you forgot to mention that Espinosa should be playing second base at Harrisburg and that Eckstein, as a major league hitting coach, is a fraud.

  36. jeeves - May 2, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    Unfortunately, the thing about Espi's atrocious offensive is that it has gone on since before last year's all-star break. I'm not sure how bad he will have to get before someone does something about it.

  37. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 2, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Why is no one calling out Davey Johnson? He's been pretty awful at managing the lineup. I understand that he's been dealt a pretty poor hand with injuries, but for god's sake, Rick Ankiel, Chad Tracy, Danny Espinosa and Mark DeRosa should NEVER be batting third!! Johnson's too enamored with 'roles' (both pitchers and batters) that it's warped his judgement. Adam LaRoche is a clean up hitter, so he can only bat 4th. Jayson Werth is the same, but bats 5th. Ramos- always 8th. Etc.OK, I'll bite: who should bat third?

  38. NatsNut - May 2, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    I agree with NatsLady at this particular time for this team. Batting order is set up based on their *hitting* roles, (not, you know, their current *getting out* roles). Get em on, then knock em around is supposed ot be the lineup's job. But if your get-em-on guys aren't getting on, why does it matter if your 3-4 guys are sluggers or not? Where this team is right now, it's just got to be "everyone, please just hit"

  39. JamesFan - May 2, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    I want to see Moore in left, Harper in center and Werth in right until they prove this won't work. Frankly, I would like to see a lot more of Jesus Flores (good defense, better bat). Let's get Espinoza and Ankiel out of the top of the order. Lombo looks better there behind Desmond. If Espi can't get it straight at the plate, put him in AAA when Zim returns. Use Ankiel and others off the bench and for defense when required.I know they are in first place, but they won't be if the offense keeps going this way.

  40. phil dunton - May 2, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    The Orioles have a better record than the Nats and much better offense. I knew the Nats were toast as soon as Sports Illustrated featured them in last weeks issue.

  41. bowdenball - May 2, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    NatsNut-For one thing, Werth is more a "get 'em on" guy than a "knock 'em around" guy. He should be hitting closer to the top of the order. But other than that, NatsLady is right that order just doesn't matter that much. I think it's been shown that you could do batting order entirely at random and it wouldn't cost you more than a game or two over the course of the season, so moving Werth up or Ankiel back would obviously not be a cure-all for the Nats.

  42. UnkyD - May 2, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    JayB said: "…just to save some cash."—————I'm not gonna disagree about any negative comments re: hitting… The team seems to have an endemic problem, in this area. But can we leave the "cheap" shots at the door? Last year, spent $millions$ on Laroche and Werth, ant payed way over scale to sign very promising draft picks. This year, locked Zim up forever, gave up a year of non arb elegibility, to bring up Harp, traded for Gio, and signed him to an extension…. I get that you would have chosen different bench players, and perhaps they'd look better than this (even if you picked them out of a hat, blindfolded), but it's NOT a money issue!!! Stop It!!!!

  43. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    Last year I embraced small ball/smart ball as the only way the team won under Riggles. It was also a struggling offensive team. Riggles hated the monniker and said he didn't really play small ball. Whatever, it won games and none of them were too pretty.This team in the short-term has to use some small ball to advance runners. As bad as Ankiel has looked since last week, last night's game turned on that 6th inning doubleplay.Davey was playing for the big inning with no outs and 2 men on base and his #3 hitter up. LaRoche was on deck. This team has offensively had 213 innings which includes extra inning games and 3 home games that the Nats didn't need to bat in the bottom of the 9th.Of those 213 innings, they have only put up crooked numbers in 15 innings which is 7% of the time. Of the Nats 23 games, only the 2nd game of the year in Chicago and April 25th against San Diego have the Nats had 2 games where they put up crooked numbers in 2 innings.There is a point here. This team is anemic when it comes to big innings and they have won plenty by scoring just 1 run innings. Last nights 6th inning was a critical point in the game and the Nats had some luck with Desmond on 1st the pitcher couldn't field Lombo's hot smash comebacker to put men on 1st and 2nd with no outs. Then bad luck reared its ugly head with the inning killing double play.The largest inning of the whole season was a 4 run inning. Call it smart ball, small ball, single digit innings, just score runs.

  44. Diz - May 2, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    And against Saunders tonight, it ain't going to get any easier. Might even see less hits/runs than yesterday. Can you say 4 hit shut out? A lefty with a 0.90 ERA. Yikes!And I'm going to be at the game tonight too. Ugh!Pray for rain?You know the old adage, "You can't lose if you don't play!"

  45. alexva - May 2, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    @Bowdenball – you don't swing at the first pitch because you're afraid it will be the only good pitch, you swing at it when it is a good pitch to hit and you are looking for it in that location. Unfortunately sometimes they miss it, and right now they re missing it way too often.

  46. Gonat - May 2, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    Steve M., the stats don't lie. Hard to remember 15 crooked numbered innings this year. The fact that in only 2 games the Nats have had more than 1 inning with crooked numbers is pathetic.

  47. 320R2S15 - May 2, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    One thing I've learned in my time on this earth is that it is "always" about money. The thing is, it seems to me that if you spend it, you will probably get a return. Everybody wants to talk about all the cash these guys have thrown at this, but what is the 2012 payroll? Don't tell me that there were not any good hitters available. I believe it was the "boss" who said he never lost money on a ballplayer.

  48. bowdenball - May 2, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    alexva-I'm fine with swinging at the first pitch if it's what you're looking for. I was responding to the posts suggesting that they should swing at the first pitch because it's the only pitch you're getting to hit. If that's true, then let it go. They give you three strikes for a reason. If you swing at the first pitch because you're sitting on something and you get it, more power to you. But if you swing at it because you're scared the pitcher will have you off balance the rest of the AB and you won't get a chance to drive the ball, you've already lost.

  49. UnkyD - May 2, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Steve M…… You read my mind! This is the only area in which I would dare to second guess Davey. I think it's always a mistake to not play small/smart ball, for the same reason I don't like pass-heavy or run/ heavy offenses, or teams which ignore their own TEs, in football. Predictability KILLS offenses! You HAVE to make the pitcher worry about the base runners. You HAVE to have the corner IFs at lest thinking about bunts, even with the based empty. The more contingencies they have to account for, the more thought goes into their reactions. Everybody needs to bunt a few balls, in BP every day

  50. UnkyD - May 2, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    …and everybody needs to show bunt, when they are cold at the plate. Base runners…..if you don't got'em, you can't win….

  51. Exposremains - May 2, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    SteveM I would love to see this team steal bases or bunt. It seems like its not the way DJ does things. It really seems to enjoy the big HRs, unfortunately for him they don't have players that can do it so you get Ks and DPs. They even look like they're trying to hit HRs all the time.

  52. A DC Wonk - May 2, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    Why is no one calling out Davey Johnson?Oooh, oooh, I know, I know, call on me teach!Is it because . . . ummm . . . that despite losing Morse, Zimmerman, Storen, and having an ineffective Clip, they're still alone in first place?Teacher? Hello? (is this mike on?) Am I close?

  53. A DC Wonk - May 2, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said… NatsLady says the order doesn't matter. I disagree. Well, for one, I think stats-geeks show that order doesn't matter anywhere near as much as everyone thinks.But even if you disagree with that — I think what NatsLady was saying is: order doesn't matter one whit if you're only getting four singles per game.

  54. UnkyD - May 2, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    302R: it's just not that easy… There are very few top shelf, proven offensive stars who will sign for less time than any sane person would sign them for (see Fielder, Pujols). Stras, Harper, JZim, …. These guys will need to be paid, while you are still throwing $$ away on guys who used to be good….

  55. Doc - May 2, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    You're right Gonat Ramos is somewhat of an exception in the list of hitless wonders, as noted.I'm letting his reduced defensive play interfere with an objective fan's survey of his offense. I also thought that we'd see more power this year, after his really good rookie year.Maybe it'll still come. In spite of his winter league work, I still think that he came to camp somewhat out of shape. His throws to 2nd have been less than the performance we saw last year. Then there are the dropped pop ups, and the failure to hold throws from the OF. Although last night, Ramo did a really great job on Harper's throw–the ****** ump just flat out blew it!

  56. A DC Wonk - May 2, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Don't tell me that there were not any good hitters available.Like who? Fielder (who signed for a ridiculous amount for too-long a contract), and, what, get rid of LaRoche? There was a lot of talk about Coco Crisp — he's batting .206Frankly — the fact that our LF production was down might turn out to be a good thing — if Harper ends up developing faster because of it.So — instead Rizzo put the highest priority on pitching. And darn-it-all, look what that's gotten us:Just the league's top ERA and first place in the East.

  57. lefty1950 - May 2, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Ways to fix hitting problems:1) Get Morse and Zimmerman back2) Get a new hitting coach who knows what they are doing3) Hope for the best!GO NATS!

  58. Pilchard - May 2, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    Danny Espinosa offensive numbers since the 2011 A-S Break:88 games 375 PA 329 AB 72 H 6 HR 54 RBI .302 OBP .219 BA .328 SLG .630 OPSCan't stay in an MLB line up with those numbers over a 4 month period. He needs to be sent down to find his stroke. Similarly, Rick Ankiel has proven that he can not produce enough offensively to justify playing everyday. No team to get away with playing two guys everyday that are so offensively challenged.

  59. Pilchard - May 2, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    BTW, Espinosa's RBI numbers since the 2011 A-S break should be 16 RBI not 54.

  60. peric - May 2, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    Um, Willie Harris wasn't on the Nats last year, but Riggles definitely was enamored of the vets (Matt Stairs anyone?) and underestimated Michael Morse for years. Davey won't make that mistake. I know replaced with Alex Cora … but I'm afraid Riggle's constant yanking of Morse early in games was unbelievable. Would HAVE CONTINUED had La Roche not been injured and unable to hit.THAT IS WORSE FAR,FAR, FAR WORSE glad the Blue Wahoo's have to put up with him now.I was sure with this rotation that the Nats couldn't possibly lose 5 straight. But they just did. Our team ERA over the last 5 games is 3.20, and the starters' is even better. Just goes to show that you have to have at least a little hitting to win this game.I think the part that escaped pundits and fans a like is that the Nats stopper failed to stop LA. When Strasburg went down to defeat with Harper in the lineup it had to take some air out of the balloon. Baseball is a very long marathon made up of short series … emotion has to be a big part of getting out there and getting at it don't you think? The players, fans and pundits have to realize Strasburg may be the "stopper" but this is really HIS VERY FIRST close to first year in baseball? I like the fact the Nats are going young but development takes some time and not everything will fall in place according to plan. The nice thing is what they learn will benefit them for years. These aren't veterans who are long in the tooth … they are still budding prospects with high ceilings.I'm not worried.

  61. 320R2S15 - May 2, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    I'll bet you dinner that Prince and Albert will be ok in the end, and when you spread the years, it's not that bad. There was also this guy in Dodger blue, and another guy in Tiger Black…..the list goes on. I believe it actually is that simple, and don't bring up the yankee first baseman, they knew they had no shot at him. I am also 100% behind the Werth deal, but not all that keen on the Zimmerman one.

  62. peric - May 2, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    Meant to say Strasburg's first close-to-full year in baseball …It would be nice (since we can no longer post anonymously?) if we could edit the content of our posts instead of having to delete and repost them? You can do that on the MASN site why not here?

  63. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    With all the talk of Espi being sent down, it probably doesn't happen until after Nady is exiled. Maybe Rizzo has a moment to look at AAA again and swaps Corey Brown for Nady and Espi gets sent down on Saturday when Zim comes off the DL.Espi needs time where he can learn again and the only place he can do that is in AAA. Blaming the batter's eye in Florida may have placated the eager media assembled in one of those "oh that makes sense" moments since they all wrote about it, and while it may have answered a small percentage of those strikeouts, the root of the problem is a long swing and poor eye at the plate leading to this sub-Mendoza line and like NatsJack pointed out, he is a sucker for the high heat. How frustrating that he can't lay off of that.

  64. peric - May 2, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Don't tell me that there were not any good hitters available.THE GOAL THIS YEAR was actually to develop the Nat's prospects. What part of that didn't you understand? Not to win the world series out of the box! Sheesh.Davey the consultant hired himself to do that job. Why? He historically loves evaluating talent in the minors and bringing those up with the most promise. As we saw last year he was the one who initiated all the September call-ups. Also, his self-confidence borders on arrogance … he believes he can win while prospects develop. So far, it looks like Davey is right, he is winning.They still have Morse, Marerro, and Tyler Moore to try out. Hood and Perez are still adapting to AA. Kobernus is going gangbusters but hits like Desmond, he never walks. Desmond is the better fielder. Corey Brown is still working through his new approach to the plate. Carlos Rivero is starting to come on … advanced stats showed him as a potential breakout candidate and he is still young. If Zim goes down and he is hitting he's a potential replacement. Looks Matt Skole's big bat will show up in Potomac sooner rather than later. If he does well there Harrisburg is next and Davey will notice. He is a big left-handed bat.Time to stop bellyaching and start attending games to root the prospects on instead of blogging to flagellate them. The prospects will appreciate it.

  65. peric - May 2, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    Its just possible Espinosa may have an issue with his eyes … apparently Corey Brown does … acquired some special glasses he wears for a certain amount of time each day to correct it.

  66. UnkyD - May 2, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Good posting, Peric… I'm going back t what I used to do; compose on my iPhone's note pad… proofread, and copy&paste. Doesn't take any extra time, and the blogger can't interrupt me….

  67. Section 222 - May 2, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    How good has the Nats pitching been? The Nats are tied for 28th in all of MLB in runs scored, and tied for 26th in hits. Yet we sit atop the NL East and our 14 wins is tied for 6th in the majors behind only the Rangers, Dodgers, Rays, Orioles, and Cardinals. The Marlins (9 wins), Pirates (10 wins), and Padres (8 wins) are down at the bottom of the standings with us in hits and runs. Davey said yesterday in the postgame presser that we must lead the league in runners left on base. I can't find that team stat (can someone tell me where it is on Fangraphs or Baseball Reference?), but I doubt it. We aren't getting on base enough to have a high number of LOB.

  68. 164abb6e-9075-11e1-aba1-000bcdcb471e - May 2, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Espi may be a sucker for the high heat but he's also striking out on a lot of sliders in the dirt. Chasing either is a problem, chasing both explains why he is struggling to put balls in play.

  69. peric - May 2, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    Rizzo's ego is holding the team back. His guys are not as good as he wants to believe. Davey has as much say as Rizzo JayB. You have to know that by now right? Davey is going to tell Rizzo he wants to wait for Marerro, evaluate Harper, and perhaps Tyler Moore … that's three players. Its likely Harper will end up in CF so that Morse can be situated in left and Werth in right. And I suspect Werth may be benched sooner than later for the next wave of prospects.The big problem is the dearth of left-handed bats. That's where Chad Tracy, Mark Teahen, et al come in. Corey Brown and Matt Skole are probably there two best potential prospects.I thought they should go after Seth Smith for the bench and a part-time starter's role. Instead Oakland acquired him in a trade with the Rockies. He seems to have returned to his mean instead of progressing with his break out. Then there's Fielder and Pujols …The best bat Rizzo was after was probably Upton and Tampa wanted too much. Its not Rizzo's "ego", its as much the Lerner's and Johnson. At this point the Lerner's are going to be more likely to be reluctant to give up prospects … the farm has been depleted by the Gonzalez trade. The bonuses already paid out. Rizzo has to work hard to sell Ted Lerner on trades … harder than he does the other GM's! What part of that are you missing?

  70. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    A DC Wonk said… Ghost Of Steve M. said…NatsLady says the order doesn't matter. I disagree. Well, for one, I think stats-geeks show that order doesn't matter anywhere near as much as everyone thinks.But even if you disagree with that — I think what NatsLady was saying is: order doesn't matter one whit if you're only getting four singles per game. May 02, 2012 10:50 AM You want your lighter hitters in the back of the lineup and your higher OBPs at the top of the lineup. In the middle you need your higher OPS guys.Most of all you need hitters that execute in the role they are in. Only Desmond and Lombo executed in their roles last night.Striking out isn't going to move up runners.

  71. MicheleS - May 2, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Standing next to Wonk and cheering him on..Yes, the last 5 games have stunk, but guess what.. we are 14-9 and are in first place.

  72. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    164abb6e-9075-11e1-aba1-000bcdcb471e said… Espi may be a sucker for the high heat but he's also striking out on a lot of sliders in the dirt. Chasing either is a problem, chasing both explains why he is struggling to put balls in play. May 02, 2012 11:28 AM Right you are. They have Espi all set up for the ole high/low and he's swinging and missing at both. Watching Ankiel swinging at high heat too tells me that Arizona had a scouting strategy for both Espi and Ank.Worst part on Ank is when Cahill needed either a K or a grounder he went high outside for pitch #1 and Ank swung through it. Then he had him in a 2 strike count and got him to hit over the next pitch for the grounder that turned into the doubleplay.It was the most critical point in the game as mentioned. Again, he didn't execute. He got himself into a 2 strike count and Cahill had him set-up even with 2 men on base and no one out. I'm not saying he should have bunted but that seemed like a good option at the time with LaRoche your big RBI man on deck. One out with men on 2nd and 3rd with LaRoche looks pretty good in hindsight.

  73. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    MicheleS said… Standing next to Wonk and cheering him on..Yes, the last 5 games have stunk, but guess what.. we are 14-9 and are in first place. May 02, 2012 11:40 AM I was okay with that over the weekend thinking the Nats could feel good about their stature at the top of the East while I was also thinking the Nats would beat Billingsley and Capuano with Strasburg and Gio pitching and I certainly thought JZim would best Cahill.Its back to the Nats making every pitcher look like Cy Young.That is why small ball/smart ball has to be employed to just get single digits on the board and hopefully do what they did in most of their innings this year, 1 run at a time.When Zim comes back, the team can get back to thinking big innings as they will have a much better 1-5 in the order and if Harper can get going Davey can move him to the 6.

  74. mick - May 2, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Flashing back to Davey's O's team of 96 and 97 for some perspective on the NATS. Nats pitching staff and relef when healthy is far better and most importantly deeper. However, the hitting comparison are eerily similar. Palmero was a choking dog whose on base percentage in post seasons was one of the worst I ever saw. Ripken was like Zim now, not overly reliable at the plate but somehow found a way to get on base. Hoiles had a pretty good stick as did Alomar. Surhoff was the most consistent hitter as was Harriston. If you look at the Nats today, you see similarities. Those O teams were so close but the had and still have a horse ass of an owner who let his ego destroy a franchise that could have been in a few WS.

  75. Candide - May 2, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    Doc said…In spite of his winter league work, I still think that [Ramos] came to camp somewhat out of shape. His throws to 2nd have been less than the performance we saw last year. That appears to be putting it mildly. Base stealers are 15 for 16 against him so far this year. Is he hurt, too?

  76. Dave - May 2, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    If you take this out of context "Ripken was like Zim now" this is the worst comparison ever.Ironman vs. 115 gpyI wish Zimm had a name like Chris Chandler (crystal chandelier) so we could give him a cool nickname.

  77. mick - May 2, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    Dave:I meant in terms of hitting with men on

  78. Marty - May 2, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    @ Section 222 – re: LOBTry this: http://content.usatoday.com/sportsdata/baseball/mlb/stats/team-totals/2012#nlTEAM LOBHouston Astros 191New York Mets 191Washington Nationals 175St. Louis Cardinals 170Arizona Diamondbacks 169San Diego Padres 168Atlanta Braves 167San Francisco Giants 167Los Angeles Dodgers 166Cincinnati Reds 160Philadelphia Phillies 156Colorado Rockies 153Chicago Cubs 144Milwaukee Brewers 141Pittsburgh Pirates 141Miami Marlins 139

  79. Dave - May 2, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    @ mick, I am with ya with regard to the hitting comparison. Just trying to make light because of the current injury situation.

  80. Dave - May 2, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    @ mick, I am right with ya on the comparison. Just making light of our current injury situation.

  81. NatsLady - May 2, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Wonk, correct. The order doesn't matter very much (a miniscule %) except that hitters think it does, and they envision themselves in certain roles. Obviously there are some basic things that matter, especially in the NL with pitchers hitting, but in general, unless there is some reason not to, if Desi is happiest and most productive as leadoff, put him there. If he sees it as "punishment" or even "incentive" that he's moved down, that may not work. I think the team misses RZ– way more than Morse. It's destablizing to be waiting for someone to return, but they've adjusted to Morse being out because LaRoche and Werth have stepped up. I think RZ being out, even "short term" was a punch in the gut, a real punch in the gut.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
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ATLANTA 69 64 6.5
MIAMI 65 66 9.5
NEW YORK 62 71 13.5
PHILADELPHIA 61 72 14.5
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THU: OFF
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SAT: Nats at Mariners, 9:10 p.m.
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MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
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