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Why have the Nats been so inconsistent?

Apr 22, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT

Associated Press
Ian Desmond has committed seven of the Nationals' 18 errors this season.

If you're searching for one word to describe the Nationals during the first three weeks of this season, "inconsistent" is probably the best choice.

One night, they look very much like the best team in baseball and certainly worthy of the preseason hype they received. The next, they look completely out of sync, unable to play clean ball and dropping games to lesser pitchers and opponents with far more frequency than you'd expect for a club with this much talent.

And yet the end result remains mildly positive: a 10-8 record good enough for second place in the NL East at the moment. Nobody wins a pennant in April. All you really need to do is stay in the thick of things and not dig yourself into a big hole.

So the Nationals are by no means a failure at this early stage of the season. They are, perhaps, a disappointment. And if you'reRead more »

  1. original Nats Fan - Apr 22, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    This team is too good to continue to struggle like they have. I have faith that they will get back on track. I grew up a Senator's fan, went 33 years with no team and have loved the Nats since 2005. Win or lose, they are my team, but I have faith they will win.

  2. Sec. 3, My Untucked Sofa - Apr 22, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    "the sloppy manner in which [Ian Desmond]'s navigated his position — not to mention many of his teammates — to date is troublesome."Desmond is a clubhouse problem??

  3. natsfan1a - Apr 22, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Only when he bumps into people, evidently. Maybe he had shaving cream in his eyes.Desmond is a clubhouse problem?? On another note, Kilgore had this on the timing of Rendon's call-up in re. eventual free agency.

  4. Rabbit34 - Apr 22, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    The headline probably should read "Why the Nationals are not a first place team". All the reasons were given. The teams that can best overcome these problems are in first place, and there's only room at the top for six.

  5. Laddie Blah Blah - Apr 22, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Davey has reversed the collapse of the bull pen. Most of them are now performing up to the level that was expected of them before the season started. Stammen, especially, has been impressive. Duke, Henry, Clippard, and Soriano have shut down the bad guys. Matheus is still not there, nor Storen, but Davey has started to steady the ship.Yesterday every member of the left side defense made an error. It's like none of them wanted to feel left out. But it is Desi's play that is most troublesome. He seems to have the baseball equivalent of a golfer's yips. I don't know what Davey can do about that.The other problems will iron themselves out. Ryan will heal, and Gio and Stras will start locating their pitches and keeping counts in their favor and going deeper into games. The offense will come around when Zim returns and LaRoche wakes up in May. If it makes you feel any better, check out the LA Dodgers. The Nats are together, but the Dodgers seem to be imploding. The team that sticks together will be the one that comes through these rough patches intact.Character and makeup are as important as pitching and defense during times like these, and the Nats have all of that.

  6. NatsLady - Apr 22, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    I don't know what's going on with the blog-roll–speaking of inconsistent–but here are some stats on Shelby Miller, and unknown quantity to the Nats, but not to the Cardinals. Shelby Millerhttp://ladyandthenats.blogspot.com/2013/04/no-data-shelby-miller_22.html

  7. Joe Seamhead - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    Well said original Nats Fan.This has been infuriatingly frustrating to watch so far, but hey, we have a team! And they will get on a roll. I remain confident that we not only have a good team, but we have the best team in our division, but what a bunch of boneheads they have been thus far! Seriously, other then Bryce and Suzuki, not one other player has played up to the expectations that we all had. Momentum will hopefully kick in soon. I do worry that for a team that won 98 games a year ago that there were an awful lot of changes made that just flat out changed the personality of this team. They are still getting to know each other as a unit. Defensively, the outfield has overall been terrific, but the infielders have been awful,and that is having a huge impact on how many pitches are being thrown by the staters especially. Offensively, the idea was for Span to set the table, and he has overall performed as expected, but the rest of the guys, other then Harper, haven't clicked with anything close to the consistency that was anticipated. Ryan Zimmerman going down, and with his overall performance before he went on the DL, has been a negative impact, both statistically and on the psyche of the team. Say what you want, but Zimmerman is a field leader, and without him playing as such, leaves this infield kind of lost. Are Anthony Rendon's shoulders wide enough to fill the void left by Zimm going down? We'll see. Many on this board have already anointed him as ML ready.I have serious reservations, but a heart full of hope that they are right.

  8. Gonat - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    NatsFan1a, very curious what Kilgore wrote because other publications talking about Wil Myers and others have that cut-off date next week.The interesting part is whether or not Rendon stays up with the Nats or gets sent back down when RZ comes off the DL.

  9. natsfan1a - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    See, I think that's the difference right there. Expectation, anticipation, anointing. Back in the day, we didn't have all that, and we were happy for every win we got. And being over .500? Hold me back. Not saying I want to go back there, but the bar was raised and some had them winning the WS before game 1 had been played. It's April. I'm going to work on staying in the present (game) and not letting expectations get in the way. Maybe that's what our guys need to do as well."not one other player has played up to the expectations that we all had.""haven't clicked with anything close to the consistency that was anticipated.""have already anointed him"

  10. natsfan1a - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    That is so 27 minutes ago. :-)NatsLady said… I don't know what's going on with the blog-roll–speaking of inconsistent–but here are some stats on Shelby Miller, and unknown quantity to the Nats, but not to the Cardinals. Shelby Miller http://ladyandthenats.blogspot.com/2013/04/no-data-shelby-miller_22.html April 22, 2013 7:57 AM

  11. natsfan1a - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    (Well, 42 now, going by the blogroll.)

  12. NatsLady - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    1a, yeah, very strange.

  13. Tim - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Most fist place teams play around .500 ball most of the time with a few hot streaks to bring them up to .600.

  14. 5c3cd06e-cef8-11e1-abe6-000bcdcb2996 - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    Remember when the vet's of this team were yukking it up at Nascar races while the rest of the team was partaking in spring training games?

  15. Sec. 3, My Untucked Sofa - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Remember when the vet's of this team were yukking it up at Nascar races while the rest of the team was partaking in spring training games? Maybe that's what they need–more NASCAR.Speaking of watching car wrecks for sport:If it makes you feel any better, check out the LA Dodgers. The Nats are together, but the Dodgers seem to be imploding.Imagine our surprise. Talk about shaving cream in their eyes!

  16. BigCat - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    Haren…aka "The Stopper" will get us back on track tonight.

  17. Joe Seamhead - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    5c3cd06e-cef8-11e1-abe6-000bcdcb2996 said…Remember when the vet's of this team were yukking it up at Nascar races while the rest of the team was partaking in spring training games?April 22, 2013 8:54 AM—————————————————Dude, you need to buy a vowel, or something.

  18. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    For me, the main reason is starting pitching. we can all blame Rizzo for signing haren and what not but our two other aces in SS and GG have not been pitching like they are capable of. Just compare April numbers from this year to last year. I know they are better than this. Let's see it tonight onwards. Go Nats!

  19. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Re: Nats yukking it up at Nascar race"…..and no less than 6 Atlanta Braves at the same race……so what?

  20. timeless46 - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    ok, I am going to be an optimist. The talent is there. We have just had a bad stretch, some poor luck, and some badly timed mental errors.The team is back home and I predict they get it together this week. I predict a sweep, and that minor leaguer playing shortstop for the Cards goes 0 for the series.Go Nats!

  21. Joe Seamhead - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    My better half doesn't want to go tonight due to the cold and a tough personal schedule the next two days, leaving me in a position of traveling about 60 miles round trip by myself. Having trouble finding anyone else that wants to brave the cold on short notice. I'm convinced if they were in possession of a better record there would be no problem getting a taker for my extra seat.Faraz, I understand your issue with the starters,but they really have had to get four, or more, outs in way too many innings because of infield errors, and some other sloppy infield play not resulting in errors charged.

  22. Whack-a-Mule - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    Mule owes much of his (alleged) wisdom to Annie Savoy, including the "rule of fun" (i.e. baseball is like sex; if it isn't fun you're not doing it right). Let us hope our guys re-discover the joys of baseball. Solid play, and wins, will follow. See you all at the Park tonight!

  23. EmDash - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    I've found myself happier watching the games once I let go of expectations – I got swept up in the hype before the season began, but letting it go has made me a lot calmer when games don't work out.Hey, I think I've found the solution for Haren – is there any rule explicitly forbidding a team from running wind machines during games? He was totally acceptable during that windy White Sox game! *g*

  24. A DC Wonk - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    In the "why the play the game" department:- Tampa Bay was 5-10; the A's were 12-4 — Tampa Bay swept the series.- Braves, 12-2, then lose 3 of 4 to the Pirates.

  25. A DC Wonk - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Statistical oddity of the day:Jeff Keppinger's average (.153) higher than his on-base percentage (.149)

  26. RaleighNat - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Schedule is going to get tougher…5 wins so far against the Marlins so far….we also really caught a break with the Pirates taking 3 in a row against the Braves.Yesterday, I wanted to strangle Werth…I simply was in disbelief that he swung. I really think if he hadn't swung at that pitch we would have ended up with bases loaded and no outs. It was the worst at bat I think I've ever seen. But glad he manned up.All in all, we're still ok but we obviously can't keep playing like this. They seem to have the jitters. We just need to calm down, hit the reset button and go get'em.

  27. 3on2out - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    natsfan1a at 8:19, may I say: ditto?I also like reading about Jayson owning his bone-headed 3-0 swing. It was unconscionable. But taking ownership is important, I think. And the Pirates swept the Barves. Life is not all so grim in Natstown. Going tonight with hopes that Haren can find a way…but regardless, better days are coming.

  28. ExposedinDC - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Seven errors in 18 games seems pretty consistent to me

  29. Rich P. - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    "A DC Wonk said… Statistical oddity of the day: Jeff Keppinger's average (.153) higher than his on-base percentage (.149)"That can happen early in the season. BA is calculated based on at bats, while OBP is calculated based on plate appearances. When the difference between at bats and plate appearances is small and the total number of each is also relatively small, this type of statistical anomaly is possible. If you see it when a player has a couple hundred at bats, then it would be worth noting.

  30. Exposremains - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Last year, most of the players played their best case scenario and this year they are playing there worst-case scenario. What about Strasburb, he really hasn't been the same since his injury. He looks less confident, he throws slower and with less command. I don't buy the pitching to contact stuff so he can last longer into games. In his first year, he was much more dominant.

  31. Doc - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    The Desi 'error' yesterday, after several reviews, was a really a scorer's error on a catachable throw that Gold Glover ALR plain missed. I'm surprised that it wasn't reversed. Harp's bobble in LF, appeared to be the result of plain ordinary carelessness.But I agree, leading the leagu in April in fielding errors is just as bad as doing the same thing in September.The bullpen is starting to come around (knock on wood). But they will only do as well as the SP's allow them sufficient room to pitch. The Nats' starting rotation is not the surprise package that it was last year. As for the Mets, they are, at this point, a better team than expected.JWerth's/Davey's decision to swing away with a 3-1 count, O out and the bases stacked, was just baseball. A more conservative approach may have been to take a pitch or two more. Not sure anyone expected him to hit into a DP. Maybe the next time he hits a ball through the middle.The lack of bench hitting is a real concern. Maybe the Nats were just lucky last year. But Bernadina is not even coming close to what he did last year. And they probably are going to get even less playing time than they got last year.

  32. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    JoeS, I don't doubt that but we have seen JZ and RD get through that so there is no reason GG and SS can't.

  33. Section 222 - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    Statistical oddity of the day:Jeff Keppinger's average (.153) higher than his on-base percentage (.149)I guess that means he has more sacrifice flys or bunts than walks.

  34. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    I think lower OBP than AVG can happen at any time in the season, not necessarily in the early going only.100 hits in 300 AB against 100 hits, no walks, no HBP in 300 AB plus 1 sac fly.

  35. Eric - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    "On another note, Kilgore had this on the timing of Rendon's call-up in re. eventual free agency."Really makes you think about how injured Zimm's hamstring really was…did he just tough it out to buy time before calling up Rendon?

  36. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    I don't think bunts count towards denominator.

  37. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    This reminds me of the chicken and the egg conundrum. What came first?That Atlanta series was the turning point to the season so far in my opinion. The Nats were 7-2 coming into that April 12th game against Atlanta and Detwiler pitched brilliantly. The bullpen didn't exactly help the situation and the offense stopped scoring after the 4-0 lead but it was that throwing error to 2nd base that was the tipping point and it has felt downhill from there.The Nats got swept in that series and moved forward at 7-5. You could also go back to the issues in the Cincy series with the bullpen, the Miami series with the lack of timely hitting and this Mets series and the common denominator is mental errors leading to physical errors.On the Saturday game vs. Atlanta, Span leads off with a single and advances to 2nd after a failed pickoff by Hudson (error). Werth smokes a ball to CF and Span is running like there were 2 outs in the inning and got doubled off of 2nd. The game seemed to fall apart offensively at that point as after that Hudson shut the Nats down for 1 run and only 3 more hits and no walks.Zimmerman had another throwing error in that game and the next batter hit a 2 run HR off of Strasburg which was all the runs the Braves needed.The starters (Stras, Gio, JZim, Det) have deserved better fates as a group. Too many unearned runs and errors and lack of run support. These pitchers have been forced to throw too many extra pitches due to fielding errors extending innings. Their rhythms on the mound have been greatly affected. I've seen too many induced grounders that haven't been converted into doubleplays because of poor relay throws and other balls scored as hits that should've been outs.

  38. Rich P. - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    Sac bunts and sac flies count as PAs but not ABs. So yes, anytime the number of walks/HBP is less than the number of sacs, the OBP will probably be less than the BA. But that condition becomes less likely as the number of PAs increases, except for players who never ever take a walk yet still get a fair number of sacrifices.

  39. Unknown - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    The Nats sloppy and inconsistent play didn't start at the beginning of the season, it started at the beginning of spring training. For those that say spring training doesn't matter, they are wrong. Patterns are established in spring training and they carry right over to the regular season. I suspect one of the reasons for the sloppy play is the very laid back attitude of the manager, a seventy year old who acts, looks and talks like a 90 year old.

  40. Rich P. - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    April 12th is way, way too early to be calling a turning point on the season. Anyone who does that is wound even tighter than the team is right now. Loosen up Sandy baby, you're too tight.

  41. Theophilus T. S. - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    "maybe a disappointment" — How droll.AAA Membership Deals this morning offering a vinyl Nats door mat (w/ curly W) for $25. How appropriate.

  42. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Doc said… The Desi 'error' yesterday, after several reviews, was a really a scorer's error on a catachable throw that Gold Glover ALR plain missed.I agree. It was a moderate degree of difficulty and the ball didn't bounce but was low and hit skipped off of ALR's glove.This is the main reason ALR is here for that great glove around the bag.

  43. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    Rich P. said… April 12th is way, way too early to be calling a turning point on the season. Anyone who does that is wound even tighter than the team is right now. Loosen up Sandy baby, you're too tight. Feelwood with the Riggins quote! I love it. It's the season to this point. 144 more games to go. Plenty of baseball left.

  44. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… I don't think bunts count towards denominator. April 22, 2013 10:02 AM For OBP, sac bunts don't but sac flies do.

  45. Eric - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Oh, another thing about Rendon: seems plausible that he will stick around to shore up the bench in the event that the Goon squad continues its skid.

  46. Rich P. - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    From Wikipedia: "For small numbers of at-bats, it is possible (though unlikely) for a player's on-base percentage to be lower than his batting average (H/AB). This happens when a player has almost no walks or times hit by pitch, with a higher number of sacrifice flies (e.g. if a player has 2 hits in 6 at bats plus a sacrifice fly, his batting average would be .333, but his on-base percentage would be .286). The player who experienced this phenomenon with the most number of at-bats in a season was Ernie Bowman, who over 125 at-bats in 1963 had a batting average of .184 and an on-base percentage of .181."

  47. EmDash - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    I can't see them keeping Rendon up if he can't play every day – hurting the development of your top prospect is generally a bad idea, longterm. I could see calling up someone like Micah Owings, though. Part of the problem they may have is that Tracy is signed to a ML contract and Bernadina has no options, so they'd have to be hidden on the DL to give someone else a shot on the bench. And I don't get the feeling Davey or Rizzo has lost faith in Tyler Moore.

  48. WA2CHI - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    I had a dream last night that the Nats traded Espinosa to the Angels for a left handed reliever. I don't think I'm psychic.

  49. A DC Wonk - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    JWerth's/Davey's decision to swing away with a 3-1 count, O out and the bases stacked, was just baseball.(I think you mean 3-0 count, 2 guys on base)To clarify your point: the decision to "not take" was just baseball. That's fine.The problem in decision-making was this: If you swing on 3-0 it needs to be a d@mn good pitch to hit — and it wasn't. _That's_ the mistake that Werth made (and owned up to). Again: it wasn't that he swung 3-0, it's that he swung 3-0 at something that wasn't a "hitter's pitch"

  50. A DC Wonk - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Eric said… "On another note, Kilgore had this on the timing of Rendon's call-up in re. eventual free agency." Really makes you think about how injured Zimm's hamstring really was…did he just tough it out to buy time before calling up Rendon?Well, he didn't play those last games — but, indeed, it sure seems like RZ's placement on the DL was timed to the 20-day mark.

  51. SCNatsFan - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    You would get nothing for Espi right now as long as people think his shoulder is shredded and he is certaily swinging the bat like it is.Truth is the shoulder is the least of his problems.If we get waxed by the Cards – and I have a sickly feeling we do – then its time for some deep soul searching on this team. Time runs out real fast on a season.

  52. A DC Wonk - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    Re: KeppingerI think lower OBP than AVG can happen at any time in the season, not necessarily in the early going only.100 hits in 300 AB against 100 hits, no walks, no HBP in 300 AB plus 1 sac fly. Well, of course — *but* — how many every day players still have zero walks?Indeed — Kleppenger has 72 at bats, plus 2 sac flies, and no walks.Thus, my use of the adjective "oddity". I.e., it doesn't happen too often. (Is there anyone else in MLB this year to have that many at bats without a walk _and_ has sac flies)?

  53. peric - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    Oh, another thing about Rendon: seems plausible that he will stick around to shore up the bench in the event that the Goon squad continues its skid.Supposedly, he has to play everyday as he is the eventual starter? Yet? Tyler Moore is languishing on the bench and he too falls under that heading? Have to wonder why they don't swap Moore with Marerro. Marerro specs out as an eventual bench player unless he suddenly learns how to hit 30-40 home runs in AAA while driving in 100+. Is it just me or does the FO seem a tad inconsistent?

  54. A DC Wonk - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    If we get waxed by the Cards – and I have a sickly feeling we do – then its time for some deep soul searching on this team. Time runs out real fast on a season. Oh, please. Even if they do get swept by the Cards (and I'll happily make a wager with you that they don't), they are 10-11. Teams that are 10-11 in April are not out of the running. Not by a long stretch. In fact, they won't even be out of April yet!

  55. peric - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    As 1a seems to imply it looks like Anthony Rendon was always a possible part of the plan FOR THIS SEASON eh Ghost?Kilgore:The point will be moot if Rendon ends up spending another chunk of the season in the minors. The Nationals have insisted Rendon will likely return to Class AA Harrisburg after Ryan Zimmerman returns from the disabled list. But the timing of his call-up suggests their minds may be more open to letting him stay all year than they’ve let on. They positioned themselves to get his maximum value this year and into the future, guaranteeing themselves an extra year of contractual control of Rendon while maximizing his potential impact in 2013.

  56. peric - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    Not by a long stretch. In fact, they won't even be out of April yet!But they are struggling now if that happens they might start pressing and if they do that May might implode.

  57. SCNatsFan - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    DC Wonk the games this time of year count the same as the ones at the end. If you don't think this division will be tight then I disagree. The difference between us and the Braves is a couple of games which means a 1 day playoff vs. someone's ace instead of 5 games we can use the dominence (supposed) of our staff. At what point do you become worried about this?

  58. peric - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    This is the main reason ALR is here for that great glove around the bag.Its early and its cold and his back has been bothering him enough to be held out of games already. It should get better with warmer weather and regular visits to the chiropractor + Bowen message.

  59. Doc - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    Thanks for clarifying DC!I wasn't aware of how bad the pitch was, or the actual count. If Werth had walked, we then would have been bases juiced, and no out.

  60. Section 222 - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Good summary of what ails the Nats, although 10-8 isn't all that awful considering how far under expectations they've played. Half of our wins, though, have been against the Marlins. So it's definitely not too early to worry.Folks may remember the nine 18-game chunks that I kept tabs on last year. Last year, we were remarkably consistent. We were under .500 in only 2 of the 18-game chunks, and were better than 10-8 in 5 of them. Going 10-8 in each chunk is a 90 win team, which might be good enough for the playoffs this year, but might not. Here are a few thoughts on each category.Defense– Yeah, it's been ugly. Mostly it's Zim and Desi though. If those two get it together, we'll be ok. If they don't, we'll keep limping along. I hope Zim is seeing a sports psychiatrist in addition to a physical therapist during this DL stint.Starters — It's probably fair to say that last year's success was mostly due to tremendous starting pitching. (If I have time, I'm going to take a look at how many quality starts they had last year.) I'm more concerned with effectiveness than going deep into games. If they start pitching better, they will go deeper. It's as simple as that. In any event, since we've more than our share of blowouts, the bullpen doesn't seem overtaxed. Yet. Relievers — I just disagree that the problem is the roles haven't been sorted out. The roles are clear, it's the performance that's been bad. Maybe there's a lack of comfort in their roles. That's different. Get over it Drew.Bench — This is not that significant of an issue in my view. The division won't be won on the strength of our bench, except to the extent they are forced into starting roles. Still, it would be nice if the Shark got a hit before the end of the month.

  61. Theophilus T. S. - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Right now they are 5-1 against the Marlins and 5-7 against the rest of baseball. At that pace they'll have to go 10-4 against the Marlins the rest of the year to get to .500. I suppose it's possible.

  62. peric - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    I could see calling up someone like Micah Owings, though. Marerro is doing better with 5 home runs already. He's already on the 40-man and when it comes to moves with the 40-man Rizzo can be quite glacial about it. Again, Marerro specs out as the perfect bench bat. He'll never be a 30 homer guy and he can only play first so … he might DH with the right team but … in the NL he's a back-up first bagger and bench bat.

  63. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    peric, I think Rendon was so good in the AFL and Spring that he was always in Rizzo's back pocket. I loved Rendon at the Draft and the first time I saw him in ST (albeit hobbled) last year in that exhibition game with Georgetown.He's a true contact hitter and it starts there. He just needs to show everyone his game and not try to hit 400 foot homers.Let's see how he does playing every day. I think like Harper, you have to force Rizzo into a decision.My thoughts have been since ST that there was a small chance of seeing him early in the season as the 2nd baseman. I don't think we could have forseen RZim going on the DL but given his track record of annual injuries, I can't say I'm surprised.Nothing would make me happier than to see Rendon make a positive impact.

  64. peric - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    Well, of course — *but* — how many every day players still have zero walks?Cristian Guzman.

  65. Eric - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    I suppose the question about Rendon is, how much more development does he need? He seemed pretty comfortable out there yesterday. Good swings at the plate, good hustle on the field, etc. I am by no means an expert on such matters, but he looked like he fell into place quite easily.We'll see how the next 2 weeks play out for him, but another sub/PH of the Goon squad '12 caliber wouldn't be terrible…especially if the Goon squad continues playing like it needs a shot in the arm.

  66. peric - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    peric, I think Rendon was so good in the AFL and Spring that he was always in Rizzo's back pocket.I'm still more than anything else worried about Zimmerman. Fans are ripping into him in some cases.The guy's stats indicate he could be an impact hitter of the highest caliber in the offing. The Nats need that bat somewhere in the middle of the lineup. Three going on four injury plagued seasons has affected his offense and his defense. He's got to move to first base. I know all about how you can injured at first too but I suspect he wouldn't be making as many attempts as web gems as you almost have to at the hot corner. Throwing won't be an issue. Hoping that his shoulder and everything else gets to completely heal and stay healed.I'm not sure if or when Rendon will become a similar impact bat. He has that potential. But Zim should be there now.

  67. natsfan1a - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    Perception is not reality there, as I was linking rather than implying. ;-)As 1a seems to imply

  68. Section 222 - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    I just don't see Rendon on the bench when Zim returns. It might be different if he were left handed and could play the outfield, but he's not and he can't. It also seems unlikely, that the Nats will cut ties with Bernadina this year, almost no matter how badly he does at the plate. He's the guy who can play all three outfield positions decently if one of our regulars tweaks something but isn't hurt badly enough to go on the DL. Yes, Tyler Moore can fill in on the corners for a game or two, but I don't think his glove is good enough for Davey to trust him with an extended stretch of games.Davey has the bench he wants — a LH and a RH power guy, along with two quite solid defensive replacements/line drive hitters. They just need to come around at the plate.

  69. Section 222 - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    Marrero is right handed and plays only 1B. Who exactly is he going to replace?

  70. Unknown - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    I am wondering how far Mike Rizzo is willing to go before they do something with Dan Haren. I thought it was a great signing, so I'm as surprised as anyone. But a championship team just can't accept a loss every fifth day like this. If he's not injured, then what is it? Will they pull a Henry Rodriguez and find something to put him on the DL? And if they do, does anyone feel comfortable with Chris Young as the #5 starter?Regarding Strasburg, I too am seeing a different pitcher from his pre-Tommy John surgery. His fastball seems to be consistently at 94-96 mph. I remember when it was 98-99 with it hitting 100 a few times a game. It's too early to worry now, but last year was a team in a perfect storm. Not this year.And maybe the changes in the roster for 2013 may have brought better players but hurt the dynamics in the locker room. But they might win 13 of the next 15 and all will be well. Who knows ….

  71. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Peric, I don't think Rizzo is willing to throw in the towel on Ryan Zimmerman at 3rd base yet.Remember the look on Ryan's face last year when he was asked about that possibility.It could certainly be a sooner than later but first things first, Rendon has to show in the next 10 days that he is a great hitter and solid defender at 3rd.

  72. JD - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    A couple of observations: 1) There is no way to sugar coat Werth's swing on a 3 – 0 count last night. It was a real brain fart and it probably cost us the game. Even if the pitcher throws it batting practice style you have to take that pitch and probably the next one too if the 1st one is a strike. 2) To say that bullpen has straightened itself out is an unbelievable stretch. Stammen, Soriano, Duke and Clip have had 1 to 2 decent outings lately after many lousy ones. Let's see this hold up for a week before we declare the problem solved. 3) Faraz is exactly right. The main issue has been the under performance of Stras,Gio and Haren which leads one to feel that better times are coming soon. 4) I agree with Peric that Espinosa is a better player than Lombo by any measurable means. At the same time everyone in baseball knows that if you get Espi to 2 strikes and you throw him something soft low and away he will strike out. Until he makes the pitchers realize that they have to throw him strikes to get him out they won't. 5) Why don't we wait and see Rendon play for a couple of weeks before we conclude if he's ready or not. 6) I'd like to see Bernadina in the lineup for 5 or 6 games in a row to see if we can get him going. Same for TMo. 7) Davie has so much confidence in Solano that he didn't even play him in a day game following a night game. Tells you something right there.

  73. JD - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Peric, They signed ALR for 2 years. Zim ain't moving to 1st this year or next.

  74. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    Jayson Werth thought he was getting the 89 Express and it was the 88 Sinker.Still hard to believe that the smartest (baseball smarts) player on the team would swing at that.Nobody feels worse than Jayson. He's the one pulling other players aside for bonehead plays. I think Bryce may be the one lecturing Jayson.The team needed that W yesterday especially with Haren on the mound tonight against another phenom.

  75. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    “Over 162, with this much talent, it won’t last,” LaRoche said. “We’ll go out there and have some really hot stretches. We won’t be able to help it, with the kind of caliber of players we’ve got.”

  76. natsfan1a - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    From what I read, it sounds like Jayson lectured himself. :-)

  77. Section 222 - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    I thought Jayson was very classy answering questions about that brain fart after the game. He obviously knew he a screwed up and felt terrible. Much better than Zim saying that errors are part of the game after his throw in that Friday night game vs. the Braves. That really did cost us the ballgame, whereas Jayson's swing only did if you want to assume that Bryce and or ALR would have come through.

  78. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    WOW RZ actually said that. I didn't know that.

  79. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… WOW RZ actually said that. I didn't know that. April 22, 2013 11:50 AM He actually said worse in my opinion. He sugar coated it that the bullpen didn't do their job and the error didn't help.Next day after the Saturday throwing error when Stras was pitching he had a nervous smile and said that he made an error and he would make more (and he wasn't kidding).I much more prefer Jayson's way as a leader taking it on himself and then you have to respect that and go well the team only managed 4 hits and had plenty of errors and even if Jayson walks with bases loaded there's still no guarantee the Nats win.Yep, there's no rewind button to know.

  80. Theophilus T. S. - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    "They signed ALR for 2 years. Zim ain't moving to 1st this year or next." If/when they're in fourth place by the trade deadline they'll trade LaRoche to Milwaukee or Cleveland or some similar place for a couple of AA guys — and solve their Zimmerman problem at the same time.

  81. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    GoSM, had no idea that Zimm had went so far as to blame the pen. Yes, bullpen did not do the job but he was not exactly producing at the plate either.

  82. peric - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    Marrero is right handed and plays only 1B. Who exactly is he going to replace?Tyler Moore, who should be playing every single day in the outfield in Syracuse with some reps at first base. Moore is wasted on the bench.

  83. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    Theophilus T. S. said… "They signed ALR for 2 years. Zim ain't moving to 1st this year or next."If/when they're in fourth place by the trade deadline they'll trade LaRoche to Milwaukee or Cleveland or some similar place for a couple of AA guys — and solve their Zimmerman problem at the same time.April 22, 2013 11:58 AM Debbie Downer! You did say "if" but hard to see it in writing as a what if type of scenario.It's just too early. You could say the same about the Braves or any highly projected team.Again, if Zim comes back and is productive it's a moot point as 3rd base is his until you pry it from his hands.

  84. peric - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    It could certainly be a sooner than later but first things first, Rendon has to show in the next 10 days that he is a great hitter and solid defender at 3rd.And if he shows enough they are going to have to staring working on their contingency planning. At that point I'm afraid ALR's days could be numbered and he will certainly be a topic of MLBTradeRumors either this season or next. Does make the infield very much slated to the right side though. That could be remedied by moving Lombo to second and Espinosa to shortstop … if Desmond regresses …

  85. peric - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    Again, if Zim comes back and is productive it's a moot point as 3rd base is his until you pry it from his hands.That BAT needs to heal. It ain't happening at third base. Three going on four seasons featuring injuries where he either is a hole in the lineup or is off on the DL for the most part. That has to end. They need that bat!

  86. realdealnats - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    A quick comment not meant to be categorical. Take Werth and the pressure he worked under his first year here.Now apply that example to the Nats as a whole.Dealing with pressurized situations and not, as of yet, able to back each others' mistakes up. In time they will.Will it take into next year like Werth? Who I love this year and last (and even when he was struggling his first year)?Or will they figure it out this year, or even soon? To me this is the question. And it could break a thousand ways from now to never.I think sooner than later. Playing great ball by mid to late May I say. Then in September–Watch Out–no one wants to come up against us.

  87. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… GoSM, had no idea that Zimm had went so far as to blame the pen. Yes, bullpen did not do the job but he was not exactly producing at the plate either. April 22, 2013 12:05 PM Check the MASN videos and see if you can find it from April 12th. I looked and couldn't find it. They have a one-on-one with Ryan in a video after Haren's last game.Yah, it was a little shocking as the team blew the 4-1 lead and the bullpen wasn't great but if Zim is playing the line or takes a better angle or just eats the ball or makes an on-target throw it's ballgame over.He spoke the truth but definitely deflected some of it off of his Teflon coating like a politician.I prefer the Jayson Werth approach.

  88. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    Peric, go hypothetical. Rendon starts getting hitterish and RZim comes off the DL in 12 days, what moves do you make as the GM/MGR?

  89. m - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    I have been following this team since its inception in 1969. It seems every ten years or so this team teases us with a touch of respectability only to revert to its traditional level of mediocrity. Case in point was last year. I felt last year the team had turned the corner. The team was young; we had good pitching; good defense and hitting; management was strong and ownership had the financial ability to acquire players they thought they needed. After watching this team I fear they are like their predecessors and will revert to their level of mediocrity. Some indicators are as follows:(1) The manager is two trusting of his veterans. Werth's decision to swing was inexcusable. Someone should tell Werth that he is not the manager. I read Werth's comments. It was all "I this", "I that" . Someone should tell this prima donna that there is no "I" in team. They is only one guy on this team who is playing his butt off and who should have been up there swinging and that was Harper. Werth should have taken the walk but he wanted the glory. That loss is directly on Werth. The sad thing is that he is supposed to be the leader. If that is the case we are deep trouble. Some example. (2) The veterans did not really prepare during ST. Johnson never had them play. He kept on saying that this player needed only a week to get ready or that that player knows how to prepare. There was no structure. Only Harper applied himself and it shows now. (3) RZ is one heck of a player but this guy has the yips. There is no shoulder problem. He has had the yips for the better part of three years. How you fix that I do not know but he is a liability and it is showing in his hitting. (4) Desmond is resting on last year. He is not focused.(5) Strasburg cannot pitch under any sort of adversity. He is not an ace. He is a good front of the line pitcher but not a stopper. Our stoppers are Zimmermann and Detwiler, assuming Johnson does not yank them after 5 innings. (6) Gio Gonzalez was an aberration last year. He is not 20 game winner. He is wild and too emotional. His is a back end pitcher. Milone is better. (7) Harren is a bust. Jackson is better. Even Lannan is better. (5) Espinoza cannot bat left handed. Johnson does nothing about it. All we do is watch him strike out. (6) The players are not facing reality. Their response to everything is that it is still "early". Well the next 11 games are against St. Louis , Cincinnati and Atlanta. Based on this team's level of play to date we could see them losing 11 straight. At best they might win 4 leaving us below 500. Maybe then Rizzo and Johnson will do something. They should have sent a message by benching Werth. Moore should be called to task for not legging out his strike out. Johnson and Rizzo need to install some accountability.It may not be too late but it is definitely not too early.

  90. peric - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    Peric, go hypothetical. Rendon starts getting hitterish and RZim comes off the DL in 12 days, what moves do you make as the GM/MGR?Posting over in the new post …

  91. Theophilus T. S. - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    "Again, if Zim comes back and is productive it's a moot point as 3rd base is his until you pry it from his hands." Speaking of "ifs" . . .. "If Zim comes back . . . productive," how? Productive with the bat? Able to find LaRoche with a mortar shot? The hamstring is only one, and probably not the most significant, problem. The truth is Johnson can't trust Z'man not to blow up the game at 3B. That's why he's going to "work on his throwing" while resting the hammie. It's much more important (to the team) for him to work on his throws during IF practice for 15 days without endangering the W/L record than it is to spend a couple of days in the hot tub. What are they gonna do when he's reactivated and resumes his pursuit of Butch Hobson's record? I hope Z-man works things out — but if he's as confused about what's wrong with his throwing as I am, and each throw remains an adventure, then they have to move him somewhere in a lot less than a year-and-a half — and they can't bench him or trade him.

  92. Ken - Apr 22, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    To paraphrase Oddball's comment to Moriarty in the movie, Kelly's Heroes, "Don't hit me with them negative waves so early in the season. Think the Nats will win and they will win."I'm starting to get sick of Nats beat writers looking reasons and/or excuses. Stop acting like CNN by making up news, and try reporting it instead.BTW, the Nats are where they are, because they have been playing like a bottom tier team.

  93. BigCat - Apr 22, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    If you are an opposing hitter and you are coming to Washington to play us and you are watching film on our pitchers, what are you gonna surmise? That you are gonna see a lot of very hittable fastballs with little to no movement. You would think our pitchers would go to school on Detwiler. Det throws 90% 2 seam fastballs which dart and dive in the zone at 91-94 mph. He also throws across his body which helps him hide the ball. If Stra can throw a 2 seamer at 94-96 that moves good, why ever throw a 4 seamer? Same with Storen, same with Jordon. Movement is the name of the game in pitching

  94. jeffwx - Apr 22, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    It would be nice to get a more consistent hitter at 2B. Espinosa is playing hurt. I guess you can't move Rendon or Zimmerman to 2b easily.We need more production from that spot in the lineup.

  95. BigCat - Apr 22, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    When they worked on Zims mechanics a few years back, who did it…. Eckstein? He's all fouled up when he has to throw overhand. Its simple. When he throws overhand his palm never points backward. It always faces 1B and he catapults the ball. He can't snap the ball that way. He can't cut it loose. Its like when you first teach your 8 year old to throw you teach him to break their hands from their chest and the glove points to the target and the ball goes opposite and the palm turns to face, in Zims case, down the left field line. Its the most elementary thing. I could straighten him out in a couple days. sorry, I had an afternoon cup of coffee

  96. Eric - Apr 22, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    "BTW, the Nats are where they are, because they have been playing like a bottom tier team."Er, no. They are not playing like the Marlins. Or, even the Phillies.They're also not playing like the Braves were during their hot streak, though.Or, like they played last year. I'd love to see them start playing like they played last year…

  97. Section 222 - Apr 22, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Big Cat — Maybe it was the guy in the VW Passat ad that was giving throwing lessons!

  98. BigCat - Apr 22, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    Serious though. When Zim comes back, watch him closely. You cannot catapult the ball to first base. God, that loss to the Mets yesterday was a dagger. After Harper wnt deep a couple times the day before and zim on the hill. I thought we could be off and rolling. Maybe Rendon give us a spark…..but noooooo. If we ever needed Haren, we need him tonight. He's a veteran, maybe he can get it going tonight

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