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Infield shift works on Harper

May 2, 2012, 3:03 PM EDT

When Bryce Harper smoked a fifth-inning pitch from Trevor Cahill back up the middle and through the Diamondbacks right-hander's legs, he assumed (like everyone else at Nationals Park last night) he had just recorded the third base hit of his career.

And then shortstop John McDonald appeared out of nowhere to scoop up the ball behind second base and make a routine throw to first to get Harper by a step.

"I was pretty upset," Harper said. "I hit it through his legs and I was reading base hit, and he just played me up the gut and got me. … Nothing I could do about it."

What happened? Credit the Diamondbacks' advance scouting department for knowing exactly where to position McDonald. The word is out: Harper is a pull-hitter. And until he proves otherwise, opposingRead more ยป

  1. Ann Ominous - May 2, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    "What happened? Credit the Diamondbacks' advance scouting department for knowing exactly where to position McDonald. The word is out: Harper is a pull-hitter. And until he proves otherwise, opposing managers are going to use the shift on him."Two words. Unleash the oppo boppo. Oh wait, that's four words. But you get my drift. So they think Harper is a pull hitter and are shifting against that? As FP would say, he'll make the adjustment.

  2. Grandstander - May 2, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Forgive me if this was previously discussed, and sorry for the threadjacking, but I was absolutely stunned last night when Ankiel didn't bunt in the bottom of the 6th.You're flashing your first offense of the night and have runners on 1st and 2nd, no one out, down 2-0. Why on earth would you let Rick 'can't hit a lick' Ankiel swing away there instead of bunting the runners over with your two "hottest" batters coming up behind him?This offense is terrible, everyone knows that, and knowing that, every run is precious and should be played as such.

  3. JamesFan - May 2, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    A shift for every significant hitter is the new fad in ml baseball. Almost every team is doing it. Harper and others will have to adjust.

  4. Brother Juniper - May 2, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Brother Juniper - May 2, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Mark, you are right on saying the Nats are "swinging from their heels" trying to do too much with each at bat. FP and Carp had been saying that the Nats were taking what the game gives in each at bat and letting the next guy give it a try. They are not doing that so much now as before. Zim and Beast are only two guys, the whole team needs to play smart. (edited typos)

  6. peric - May 2, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    If Harper hits it as hard as he does it won't matter the hits will come. Let them shift to the local pub to cry in their beer when he beats them shift or not.

  7. Section 222 - May 2, 2012 at 3:40 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.Oh baloney. The point made above was that DeRosa, Nady, Tracy – i.e., the vaunted Goon Squad — has been a failure. Cody Ross was available. He's playing LF for the Sox in the absence of Crawford and batting .282/.337/.538 and 5 HRs so far, more than anyone in a Nats uniform. The Nats passed on him because of price, not because they were going to develop the the prospects.And I don't care what "the plan" was. With a start like we had, and the pitching that we have, there's nothing wrong with hoping we can make the playoffs this year. Beyond Harper, Moore, and maybe Brown, none of the minor leaguers you mention are going to play in DC this year, or next.And by the way, I doubt very much that the prospects have any idea what we write on this blog.

  8. peric - May 2, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    You're flashing your first offense of the night and have runners on 1st and 2nd, no one out, down 2-0. Why on earth would you let Rick 'can't hit a lick' Ankiel swing away there instead of bunting the runners over with your two "hottest" batters coming up behind him?Davey isn't giving Ankiel any guarantees. In a sense he is playing baseball's version of office politics. He's doing what far too many in the FO who are Riggleman carry overs want him to do. Then they see, oh that isn't going to work … just like last year. And Ankiel gets his chance EARLY. Then? He moves Harper to CF and Ankiel to the bench and no one will be able to argue against it. He'll get his offense oriented outfield one way or another because when Morse comes back he'll be situated in left. It remains to be seen whether Werth remains in right field. Werth's hitting is actually less effective than last year when he looked like a good bench bat. I don't look at batting averages because they can be misleading when I say that. What do you expect from something invented at the turn of the last century or before?

  9. peric - May 2, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    Cody Ross was available. He's playing LF for the Sox in the absence of Crawford and batting .282/.337/.538 and 5 HRs so far, more than anyone in a Nats uniform.And so was Austin Kearns? Gee you must think we're in the 1860's and slavery is still legal. Often the players decline to sign with a team. Given the Nats records of the recent past can you blame them? Or maybe they just don't like DC. Its possible you know … so isn't it just possible Cody Ross said no when approached by Rizzo? After all the guy was in Florida so he knows a bit about the Nats.

  10. lefty1950 - May 2, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    I was at the game and when he hit the ball, figured base hit. But this is the major leagues where there is constant adjustments being made. When Harper gets comfortable being a major league hitter, teams can shift all they want, but will they be able to shift high enough?

  11. peric - May 2, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    And by the way, I doubt very much that the prospects have any idea what we write on this blog.Section 222 try telling that to Nationals Prospects Luke Erickson and see what he says. You're naive if you believe that "baloney".

  12. peric - May 2, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    As BOZ himself said section 222, you're just going to have to be patient. They are going to execute their plan NOT yours. And given the great performances of free agents who have come to the Nats in recent years one can see why … (albeit hopefully La Roche changes that).The Lerner's aren't going to buy off on expensive free agents unless they are young and have high ceilings. An Upton for example. As one pundit put it the plan was to develop or die. Not panic, trade valuable prospects for decrepit free agents who might not pan out … could just as easily be the next reincarnation of Matt Stairs …

  13. Doc - May 2, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    In time, the so-called shift will have minimal effect on Prince Oppo Boppo.His power is to LF/LC, unlike most lefties. He'll pull it too, but a constant shift in that direction will catch the defense a few yards short, as many times as it 'catches him'.Harper hitting out of the box is like a power hitting Tony Gwynn I. They want to shift–go ahead. In the future, he's go beat them at that game lots of times.

  14. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 2, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    I like small ball as much as the next guy, but even a good hitter is more likely to make an out than not, except for maybe Matt Kemp. Ankiel, a guy with power, bunting there, is a [sub-optimal] idea. The guy has significant power, and gets hot in streaks. He gets hold of a mistake and you have the lead. And who's he moving them up for? Nobody else is hitting.You play for one run, and that's what you get: one run. There's no such thing as a three-run bunt. The problem with the offense is not complicated. This is how good they are. When the better guys get here, they'll hit. When that happens, they'll win. In the meantime, they're staying in the race. If they can do that for another couple of months, it'll be a good year.

  15. Gonat - May 2, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    Grandstander at 11:16AM, I wrote the same thing last night on bunting Ankiel and was told that was wrong by NatsLady. I guess I was wrong. I guess you are wrong too.Like SteveM said, whatever Daveys strategy was, it sure wasn't executed and props to Arizona.

  16. peric - May 2, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    If they can do that for another couple of months, it'll be a good year.At that point they'll have more choices … Morse, Marerro, perhaps Moore, Harper … and a lot of the "Goon Squad" will likely be gone to make space for them. They aren't going to "force it".

  17. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 2, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    Luke, I'll save you some time–summarizing:Be aggressive, and take lots of pitches. Don't swing from the heels, bunt, but don't bunt. Hit third. Don't listen to your coaches, who are idiots–read the comments on from pseudonymous posters online, but avoid the ones who can't spell. Did I miss anything?

  18. Grandstander - May 2, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    I like small ball as much as the next guy, but even a good hitter is more likely to make an out than not, except for maybe Matt Kemp. Ankiel, a guy with power, bunting there, is a [sub-optimal] idea. The guy has significant power, and gets hot in streaks. He gets hold of a mistake and you have the lead. And who's he moving them up for? Nobody else is hitting.Ankiel is a good hitter and has significant power? Since coming to DC, he's slashing .239/.292/.366. His ISO is .128.The guys he's moving them up for are ALR, who's slashing .314/.398/.523 and Jayson Werth, who's slashing .275/.383/.425.I actually don't like small ball, I don't think it's smart to give away outs. But in that situation (and I said it as soon as I saw he was hitting, without the value of hindsight), I just don't see why you don't take away the double play and move the runners over for your two hottest hitters. This goes double when you take into account how precious runs are and how terrible our hitters looked against Cahill all night long.

  19. Gonat - May 2, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    Grandstander, perfectly said. Arizona was set for the Bunt and Cahill threw the high heat outside to get him to POP up the Bunt only Ankiel was not bunting. He swung and missed.

  20. bowdenball - May 2, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    So now we're second-guessing potential free agent acquisitions that the Nats passed on, several months after the fact, based on about 20 games worth of data? You're better than this, Nats fans.

  21. feelanau - May 2, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    I was the author of the Boz chat question that prompted the "be patient" response. I love Boz as much as the next fan, but this is ridiculous. We can't expect shut-outs each game. Why not shop Zimmermann and/or Detwiler for a front-line OF bat? You have to give up quality to get quality. The "Goon Squad" retreads are not the answer. I was at the game last night, and it was maddening! And given our pitching depth and historic lack of offense, why go get Edwin Jackson? Wouldn't that money have been better spent on a bat, letting Detwiler, Wang, or Lannan have that spot. Got to score to win, folks.

  22. Tcostant - May 2, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    More random thoughts:- Grandstander thought Ankel should bunt in the 6th; I was watching the game live and I didn't consider it. That was a chance for a big inning and these team can't give away outs. I like that he hit, but wish it wasn't a DP. Play to win.- Until futher notice I want Haprer and Moore in the lineup, every day. And I want Harper hitting no lower than 6th.- I think if Espinosa doesn't turn it aroun by Sunday, I would send him to the minors for Zimm's activation and play Lombardozzi at 2B.- I'd also consider pinch hitters as soon as the 5th inning, if the game is a ties or down a run or two, if a guy is in scoring position. The pen his rested and we need runs!

  23. mr baseball - May 2, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    You may not like small ball, but Espi and Lombo need to become choke up hitters. Espi is not a 21 HR hitter like last year. As long as he continues to swing from his heels he will continue to strike out (often). It's better to choke up make contact and spray the ball around and get on base. And, I don't care what anyone thinks, Desmond is not a lead off hitter and never will be one. If Espi would make this adjusment he might become one. If Lombardozzi, on the left side, moved 2 inches farther away from the plate, he could be a lead off hitter,also.

  24. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    feelanau "shop JZim and/or Det for a front-line bat"Wrong strategy. You win with pitching pitching and pitching and timely hitting.SF Giants won the 2010 World Series based on that forumla and a good bullpen. When you get into the playoffs, you can win with 3 top line starters.

  25. A DC Wonk - May 2, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    I was the author of the Boz chat question that prompted the "be patient" response. I love Boz as much as the next fan, but this is ridiculous.What's so ridiculous? We have close to the youngest team in baseball. In everybody's mind was: "the Nats will do well this year, but not seriously contend until 2013". Espi is still too young to throw away. Ramos still has to learn some defense. HRod needs to learn to be in control. Lombo needs to learn. This team is built for the long haul (meaning: for a couple of years).historic lack of offense, why go get Edwin JacksonYeah — shudda had that crystal ball working where we could figure out that Morse, Zim, etc., would miss significant time in the early season.Got to score to win, folks. True — but you just need to score more than the other team. And we've been doing that enough (thanks to the pitching) to have sole possession of first place despite losing five straight.Good pitching beats good hitting — and it's even more true over the course of a 162-game season. The hitting will come.

  26. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 2, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    Ankiel has home run power. The play there was to get extra bases. He simply failed. He does that, hence the numbers you quote. So he gets a bunt down, and they lose by one less run.

  27. jcj5y - May 2, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    The Nats are going to be patient, especially with Espinosa. But the hitters have to figure it out eventually, both for 2012 and in future years. If the status quo (Espinosa not hitting since the first half of last year) holds, I would expect to see this lineup after the All-Star break (and in 2013):Lombardozzi 4, Werth 8, Zimmerman 5, LaRoche 3, Morse 7, Harper 9, Desmond 6, Ramos 2I really thought Espinosa was making good adjustments at the beginning of this year, but he didn't get good results and he's regressed significantly in the past two weeks. Now he's swinging at pitches he took at the start of the season. His ceiling is way higher than Lombardozzi's, but if he goes through a whole year (second half of last year, first half of this one) hitting .200 with no pop, he can't be in the lineup.

  28. feelanau - May 2, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    To my critics (including Boz), I fully understand that "good pitching" beats "good hitting." But "good pitching" loses EVERY TIME to "no hitting." And, a "crystal ball" wasn't needed to know that hitting was a bigger need than pitching when he acquired Edwin Jackson. What team were you watching last year?? Look no further than Strasburg's record — all the no decisions and losses in games when he's given up zero, one, or two runs. Pitching was not the problem last year; hitting was. And so it remains.

  29. A DC Wonk - May 2, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    But "good pitching" loses EVERY TIME to "no hitting."Are you saying the Nats have "no hitting"? If so, how have the Nats managed to find themselves in first place every single day this season?hitting was a bigger need than pitching when he acquired Edwin JacksonIf four starts, EJax already has a complete game win, and a 6-2/3 outting where he allowed zero runs. A WHIP of under 1.00. Guys like that don't grow on trees.Further, it wasn't either or. EJax was a free agent. Signing EJax didn't prevent the Nats from getting hitters.Pitching was not the problem last year; hitting was. And so it remains. Yep — but the pitching could still have been improved — and it has — and is now so outstanding that it's been able to overcome the loss of Storen & Morse and & Clip's awwful start and Zim and still end us up in first place. Wow. How'd that happen?!There's a reason that one of the truisms in baseball is "you can never have enough good pitching."

  30. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said… Ankiel has home run power. The play there was to get extra bases. He simply failed. He does that, hence the numbers you quote. So he gets a bunt down, and they lose by one less run. May 02, 2012 1:43 PM Disagree. Ankiel has HR power just like Espi does and that doesn't mean much as neither is a power hitter. The goal in that situation is either a hit or a productive out with the hit being the best outcome.It was a 2-0 game in the bottom of the 6th with real legit power behind Ankiel. Based on Ankiel's stats, his chance of a XBH was probably less than 1 in 9 at that point according to his 2012 stats. A single would have been fine and the odds of that were less than 1 in 9 if we went by his Batting Average at the time which made the chance of any type of hit less than 1 out of 4.I looked at his 1st 2 ABs of the game and he looked so bad that I would have been bunting based on how he was seeing the ball in that game which then would have put the pressure on the pitcher and defense.If that was any batter up in that same situation except for LaRoche or Werth, I may have been bunting -unless- you have the hit and run on with a guy who can handle the bat or a batter en fuego who matches up well in the situation.

  31. jeffwx - May 2, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    and pitching, pitching, pitching, we got so much, there won't be spots for some in the majors or the rotation.What do you do when Wang is ready ?

  32. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    feelanau – I feel your pain. Yes, you are correct about NO RUNS, but at some point the hitting will come around and get hot. You have multiple players slumping and other than Desmond, Bernadina, and Lombo came through last night, the middle of the order was a big Zero last night.

  33. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    Here's my lineup tonight:Desi, Lombo (RH), Werth, LaRoche, Ramos, Espi (RH), Moore, BHarp

  34. jeffwx - May 2, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    The offense is so much different without Zimm in the lineup. It will be nice having him back out there. I still think it smart to trade for more versatile bench, OF guy in case the Harper-Moore exp needs a little more time and as insurance in case Morse needs more time. Lot of uncertainties given the youth, and injuries….More insurance off the bench can't hurt and then you don't need to rush your minor league up too early.

  35. peric - May 2, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    The Nats are going to be patient, especially with Espinosa. But the hitters have to figure it out eventually, both for 2012 and in future years.You'll have to put Desmond on that list as well … as bad as his BA (which is why I've finally come around to ignoring it) Zim's OBP is higher. Desmond has to get on with walks … he'll never be Soriano with 50 homers from lead-off. And I'm not sure that's a good thing?How long do they wait? Not long: (see Rendon, Anthony, plus Kobernus, Jeff and yes there still is Lombardozzi.) BUT its not going to be a month early in a baseball season … Desmond's time is almost up. Espinosa, because he has the unique advantage of being a power-hitting switch hitter, more. You may have a guy who could be Berkman-like at the plate at some point. And Desmond has been the starter for 2 years in a row now going into 3. Even with Riggleman spotting him with Guzman pretty regularly. I still think it smart to trade for more versatile bench, OF guy in case the Harper-Moore exp needs a little more time and as insurance in case Morse needs more time. With what? More promising prospects? The farm was pretty decimated after the Gonzalez trade. Would this guy be better than Marerro when he gets back? That's who DeRosa replaced? Than Marerro consistently averaged around .300 in the minors? He is still young enough to redevelop the power swing now that the plate discipline is in place. You won't find anyone better than what they already have in AAA in the form of Brown and Teahen … and perhaps Michael's bat will come around. Chris Marerro and Carlos Rivera are both around 23 and it does seem like both may be able to hit major league pitching. Then there's Lombardozzi. And Harper and Tyler Moore in the outfield. Be patient. They tried your idea. How did you like Jonny Gomes coming off the bench? He has pop. Any better than what they have now? NO. Anything better would be a starter … and there IS NO ROOM.

  36. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said… Ankiel has home run power. The play there was to get extra bases. He simply failed. He does that, hence the numbers you quote. So he gets a bunt down, and they lose by one less run. May 02, 2012 1:43 PM There's an old saying in baseball that if you fail 7 out of 10 times you can still be an All Star and that is how hitting works when you are a .300 guy. Situationally even a .300 career hitter may be lower.Of course there was a greater chance Ankiel was going to fail than not which is the same for every hitter unless you look at walks as a success and then Barry Bonds would be the last man to brag about getting on base safely 6 out of 10 times which is why you play to the averages and the situation. Ankiel's chance of any hit was at a failure rate of 76% and the way he was swinging the bat against that same pitcher earlier in the game put it at a lower percentage which isn't measurable so lets say 76% fail rate. The chance of an XBH was a failure rate of 88% and a HR had a failure rate of 97.62%.The situation in my mind is move the runners up at any means possible. If he swings away, why not put on the hit & run with 2 of your best base stealers or bunt or shorten up the swing for contact and maybe you get a single. I think he was swinging for the fences. Bad move. Poor execution.

  37. Section 222 - May 2, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    I have lots to say about Peric's multiple responses to (and misinterpretations of) my comment at 11:40, but apparently less time on my hands to debate it than he has. I'm curious, though, who is Luke Erikson and has he ever before been mentioned on this blog? And Luke, if you're reading, I concur with PFB Sofa's advice, and want to assure you that all of us here wish you all the best.

  38. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    jeffwx said… The offense is so much different without Zimm in the lineup. It will be nice having him back out there. I still think it smart to trade for more versatile bench, OF guy in case the Harper-Moore exp needs a little more time and as insurance in case Morse needs more time. Lot of uncertainties given the youth, and injuries….More insurance off the bench can't hurt and then you don't need to rush your minor league up too early. May 02, 2012 2:38 PM I think the goal was to play to win and be in a position to be a buyer at 7/31 to get the trade in the area of greatest need.When Zim and Morse are back healthy coupled with a hot LaRoche and Werth, this will be a totally different offense.

  39. peric - May 2, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    Add another bat 'potentially' to the list. Looks like the Cardinals decided to designate Erik Komatsu for assignment. They have to offer him back to the Nats first. I suspect the Nats will take him given all the holes they have down in the minors. There's yet another CF.

  40. BaseballDude - May 2, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    Random question. I'm going to the Sunday night game vs. Phillies. With an 8 PM start, what time will the Nats have batting practice? Do they have batting practice before the final game of a series?

  41. peric - May 2, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    When Zim and Morse are back healthy coupled with a hot LaRoche and Werth, this will be a totally different offense … Its still all about developing the prospects and they are the X-factors. Harper, Ramos, Flores, Espinosa, Desmond, Moore, eventually Marerro … any could improve and break out. That be the plan like it or not. If not there's always joining Poopy as fav Orioles fans. Who knows maybe the sign Abreu to DH? Looks like Nick the Stick is starting out really slow.

  42. peric - May 2, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    I'm curious, though, who is Luke Erikson and has he ever before been mentioned on this blog?Along with Bryon Kerr, and before Brian Oliver (NFA Brian) he tracks the Nats minor league system with NationalsProspects.com. He once was known as Sue Dinem. Yes, he reads this blog and sometimes posts. Its likely why he decided to forego the pseudonym (Sue Dinem). He is constantly warning folks about their posts. Not only do **prospects** read this blog … but so do their families! Believe it!

  43. Keith - May 2, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  44. peric - May 2, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    Forgot to mention Lombardozzi as a top prospect who could "break out".

  45. Eugene in Oregon - May 2, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    Ghost of Steve M. wrote: "..You win with pitching pitching and pitching and timely hitting…SF Giants won the 2010 World Series based on that forumla and a good bullpen. When you get into the playoffs, you can win with 3 top line starters."=======================Ghost: I agree with much of what you write here, but the 2010 Giants are not a team to emulate. Yes, they won the World Series, but that was an aberration. The all-pitch/no-hit formula is not going to work year after year. A successful team needs balance if it wants to stay in contention over several consecutive seasons.Over the offseason I posted a bit of research (that's probably giving it much more credit than it deserves, but you know what I mean) that I had done on the age-old pitching vs. hitting question.The bottom line was pretty simple: To get into the playoffs a team needs to be "above league average" (i.e., one of the top eight teams in the NL) in BOTH pitching and hitting (defined as runs allowed and runs scored). Yes, there are exceptions (like the Giants); it's not a perfect correlation. Some teams make the playoffs when they are way above league average in one category and just slightly below league average in the other. And some teams don't make the playoffs when they are just slightly above league average in both. But — on balance — if you're above league average in both, you have a good chance of at least getting a wild card (and that applies even more so now that there are two wild cards).I'm certainly not in favor of panicking yet. Nor am I in favor of trading a young arm for an old bat (there I agree with you 100%). But I am realistic. No matter how good the pitching is, unless the hitting improves substantially the Nats will be hard-pressed to contend for even the second wild card spot. I've always assumed that this year will be about 'learning to win' and even 'learning to contend' rather than making the playoffs. I hope I'm wrong, but I think the Nats remain a year — and another bat or two — away from making a serious run at the playoffs.P.S. – I agree with you that once you're in the playoffs, you want those three dominating pitchers. The 'balance' becomes much less important in a short series — if you've got the pitching.

  46. peric - May 2, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    feelanau "shop JZim and/or Det for a front-line bat"Fantasy baseball. No way you even think about losing JZimm that is the height of well, honestly? Pure and simple stupendous stupidity. Not sure the same is true of Detwiler at this point.Now Wang? Lannan? Perhaps even Rosenbaum? Again it won't be the decrepit bat you seem to want that could end being a flameout like Matt Stairs. They are going to want young, projectable with a high ceiling that can help this year and in the future. Think Gio Gonzalez.The Manno for Gomes trade really worked well didn't it?C'mon people use your heads for something other than a hat rack. The offense is a problem that needs to be worked out internally, that spans multiple positions not just Espinosa's. Its a player development problem that I'm sure Johnson and his coaches (along with Rizzo) will address. I believe they already have by bringing up Moore even if it is very temporary.

  47. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    peric, you just named 6 of the 13 position players on the roster. This isn't the Minor Leagues. They can't be "developing" almost 1/2 their current MLB roster.Harper and Moore certainly are "works in progress", Marerro is on the DL, and the other 4 definitely are no longer "prospects" by any definition.

  48. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    peric, well you just added Lombo, make that 7 of the 13.I figured you thought Lombo was fully developed so you didn't mention him.You don't seem to grasp what the 25 man roster is all about. It was frustrating reading your "Anon" posts, now that you identify yourself, I just shake my head at some of this.

  49. jeffwx - May 2, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    Peric, my point is we have extre pitchers once Wang/Storen are back. Worth trading NOT prospects or Minor leaguers (but include Lannan that I know, I know… nobody wants) but some of our pitching for off the bench OF offense as insurance in case Harper/Moore need more seasoning and Morse/Zimm need more time for healing….also our bench is purtty old (Tracey, DeRosa, Ankiel) so more injuries are possible. I think (Again this is my humble opinion…not Rizzo's or anyone important, no need to panic) that we should make a trade for more offense. I agree with Ghost that we will be in a good position come July, when more teams will be willing to make a reasonable trade.

  50. peric - May 2, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    Pitching was not the problem last year; hitting was. And so it remains.Sorry starting pitching WAS THE WORST problem last year period. Were it not for JZimm's emergence it would have been far, far worse. Bordering on pathetic! C'mon , WTF what team are you watching your fantasy team? The ace of the staff was Livan Hernandez until they shut him down to look at oh let me see: THE MINOR LEAGUE PROSPECTS? Which consequently led to the Gio trade?They kept talking about the CF, but Rizzo likes to use subterfuge when really his two top priorities were left-handed starting pitching and top-of-the-rotation starting pitching and Zim's contract renewal. Its likely they could get Upton if they were willing to give up enough … but they figured why not wait until he is a free agent? Rizzo and Johnson aren't going to put decrepit, slow moving, terrible fielding bats in the outfield like Dunn and Willingham with his knees. That was embarrassing. You probably want them to sign crippled outfielder Abreu? Well, the Orioles may you can always go there.

  51. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 7:31 PM

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  52. jeffwx - May 2, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    Peric, also have to wonder if bringing up Harper/Moore was part of a developmental plan or an act of desperation. I think it would be better to have those guys playing/learning down in cuse for a little while longer. *(but am stealing from Keith Law's, ESPN, recent article).If the Nats were practicing patience, they'd give Moore/ and 19 years young Harper more time to learn.

  53. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Eugene in Oregon, the Giants play in a pitchers park and their problem was their offense was so bad last year without Posey that they couldn't hit outside of San Fran also.Their pitching isn't as good this year as 2010. I believe if Posey stayed healthy last year they would have made the playoffs again although winning the WS again in 2011 with a healthy Posey, still not likely as I agree, 2010 was an aberration.The Nats with Zim and Morse are much better than the 2010 SF offense was. The point is good balance and I have spoken about the need to get to 4 runs of offense per game.You first need 1 to get to 4 has been my point all day. Smart ball—-not small ball.

  54. Ann Ominous - May 2, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    "Random question. I'm going to the Sunday night game vs. Phillies. With an 8 PM start, what time will the Nats have batting practice? Do they have batting practice before the final game of a series?"Barring bad weather, both teams typically take BP before every non-day game. Often they will skip BP for early day games after night games. If they follow the normal protocol for the 8 pm Sunday game, one or two gates will open for viewing BP 2-1/2 hours before game time. Anyone with a ticket can come in then, but you can only go into the outfield seating area. 1-1/2 hours before the game, all gates open and you can go to your seat. Nats BP is over by the time all gates open, but visitors BP is still going on then.

  55. peric - May 2, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    but some of our pitching for off the bench OF offense as insurance in case Harper/Moore need more seasoning and Morse/Zimm need more time for healing….also our bench is purtty old (Tracey, DeRosa, Ankiel) so more injuries are possible.The most valuable commodity in baseball is solid starting pitching. The Nats now have that. And you believe Rizzo would go against everything he believes in to sign another decrepit bat that might deliver, might not? Good for only a year? For that price Rizzo wants the moon and the stars. He wants young, projectable, high ceiling starters NOT bench players? My god you must play way too much fantasy baseball.They have one of the youngest starting rotations in baseball. They aren't going to change that … now EJax is the only potential trade chip just because of his 1 year contract. But for a bench player? No. And then what do you do when Strasburg gets shutdown? If EJax continues to perform they might try to re-up him given the issues they are having injury-wise with Solis and Purke.

  56. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 2, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    Peric, starting pitching WAS THE WORST problem last year period. Were it not for JZimm's emergence it would have been far, far worse. Bordering on pathetic! C'mon , WTF what team are you watching your fantasy team? The ace of the staff was Livan Hernandez until they shut him down to look at oh let me see: THE MINOR LEAGUE PROSPECTS? Which consequently led to the Gio trade?Like it or not the pitching staff overall was Top 8 in the Major Leagues. That's the fact. Was it sustainable with Marquis and Livo and Wang and Lannan? Probably not.JZim emerged as a true star, Stras showed everyone in September that he is a true Ace and Rizzo traded 4 top prospects for Gio. There's your core 3 pitchers.

  57. peric - May 2, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    If the Nats were practicing patience, they'd give Moore/ and 19 years young Harper more time to learn.JeffWx, depends on who you think is smarter … KLaw or Davey Johnson. Has KLaw won a world series as a player and a manager? No. I think Harper is ready … based on what I've seen Johnson seems less than sure about Moore which is why he likely will go back when Zim returns. But Harper is going to finish his development in the majors just like Matt Kemp did.

  58. bowdenball - May 2, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    peric's 3:24 post hits the nail on the head. This ridiculous panic about the offense and the idea that we have to take drastic measures to address it on a team who is currently 14-9 even though they weren't projected to contend until 2013 is waaaaaaay off base. Trading away young elite pitchers who will be under club control for many many years for a quick offensive fix is short-sighted lunacy. Great post, peric.

  59. peric - May 2, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    Like it or not the pitching staff overall was Top 8 in the Major Leagues. That's the fact. Was it sustainable with Marquis and Livo and Wang and Lannan? Probably not.Not according to advanced stats … and don't trot out stuff from the 19th century to prove your point? Fangraphs and statscorner clearly shows Nats starting was last in their division. Miles behind the Phillies … Livan and Lannan were among the least effective starters with Lannan finishing almost dead last.They seem to have reversed that in a single year. Not bad I think. So, I have faith they will fix the offense as quickly as possible the right way. Not the crazy Redskins owner/fanatic fan way.

  60. jeffwx - May 2, 2012 at 7:45 PM

    Peric, Exactly right….the most valid commmodity is indeed starting pitching. The Nats have it in spades but to go along with a team .226 BA. Why would you think Rizzo would consider trading for a decrepit bat for such a most valuable commodity. I agree with you that we should get.Where in my post do you see me suggesting trading for a decrepit bat. It is virtually impossible for me to have an adult discussion with you. And I think the strategy of bringing up more minor leaguers before they are ready (Solis/Purke) goes against everything that not only Rizzo but any major league GM believes in. Why would they do that ?? To hurt their development for a few months ???Enough said. You get the last word. No more replies from me to you. This is your blog now.

  61. A DC Wonk - May 2, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    BaseballDude said… Random question. I'm going to the Sunday night game vs. Phillies. With an 8 PM startDitto! What section? I'll be in 309 (right near sjm308!)

  62. jeffwx - May 2, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    Bowdenball…drastic measures were already taken when we brought up Harper/Moore and when we traded for Gio (Remember the win now mentality we applauded last week).You need to make drastic measures, take risks to win now…..That's what Rizzo had to do cause for right or wrong, he's trying to win now.

  63. bowdenball - May 2, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    jeffwx-Those measures don't sacrifice the long run to benefit the short run. Gio is under club control for a long long time and calling up Harper and Moore don't cost the club any control years.Trading away Zimmermann or anyone like that for the kind of OF who could help right now would definitely constitute a sacrifice in the long run to benefit the short run. It's a truly terrible idea.

  64. A DC Wonk - May 2, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    Eugene in Oregon said… Ghost: I agree with much of what you write here, but the 2010 Giants are not a team to emulate. Yes, they won the World Series, but that was an aberration. The all-pitch/no-hit formula is not going to work year after year.Right — but smart teams start with pitching. Good hitters can be acquired — but good pitching is priceless.I truly think that Rizzo and the FO were loading up on pitchers for serious runs at the pennant in 2013, because we have so many still-young position players. The fact that the pitching came together so well this year has prompted a change in outlook and strategy.Among other things: guys like Harper and Moore are going to get serious looks. Older guys (Ankiel, Goon squad) are probably in the position of "produce in the first half the year, or get cut").This is a team that is solidly built for 2013 and beyond. That's why Boz, peric, me, and others are preaching patience. The fact that we will probably be in a pennant race in Sept is just icing on the cake –although, for sure, Davey, Rizzo, et al, are "going for it" now.In the meantime, we're just going to have to be patient as our young Nats grow up and we see who can really cut it. And if we're looking good in July, expect a trade, or a rent-a-player or two for the second half.But in the meantime, the hardest part of the equation — starting pitching — seems solved. Relief pitching _might_ be solved (presuming Storen comes back, and HRod can be consistent).The hitting: some of it will come, some of it from maturity, etc. And if it doesn't, then a month or two from now, we'll look for it elsewhere.

  65. Eugene in Oregon - May 2, 2012 at 7:59 PM

    Sometimes the best statistic to consider is the most fundamental, the most simple: runs.I don't know if that's considered old-fashioned or advanced, but to me — particularly in considering a team as opposed to an individual — it's what matters most.In 2011, the Nats ranked 12th in the NL in runs scored. They ranked 7th in runs allowed (and that's total runs, not earned runs).In 2012, the Nats rank 14th in the NL in runs scored. They rank 1st in runs allowed (again, total not earned).

  66. NatsJack in Florida - May 2, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    Maybe nobody believes Mike Rizzo when he says "any trade the Nats make has to address an immediate need not just for now, but for the long term as well".I do.

  67. jeffwx - May 2, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    Agreed….no reason to make a rush trade….and NO ONE is talking about trading the big Three (Stras, Zimm, Gio) of course. As Ghost says, the Nats will be well suited to trade extra pitching for a top of the order outfielder in July that they very well need. (of the Bourne, Pence, Span type.) Related question, what do you do when Storen/Wang/Kimball/Lidge are ready ?

  68. BaseballDude - May 2, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    @DC Wonk, my seats are in Sec 130.Can't wait for this weekend's series. Hopefully, we'll pull out of our funk beforehand. Wouldn't want to be finding our groove against Halladay.

  69. natsfan1a - May 2, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    Pretty sure that we're missing Halladay in the series.

  70. natsfan1a - May 2, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    As he's starting tonight.

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