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Davey: Time to "get a little mad"

Apr 24, 2013, 4:11 AM EDT

Associated Press
Adam LaRoche reacts after striking out with the bases loaded in the sixth.

Baseball is a sport that requires patience. It requires an even-keeled approach. You can’t get too high when things are going well. You can’t get too low when things aren’t.

The Nationals excelled in this department last season en route to an MLB-best 98 wins, and they’ve tried to stress the same approach during the early stages of this highly anticipated season. But there comes a time when frustration starts to boil over, and Davey Johnson appeared to reach that stage Tuesday night following a 2-0 loss to the Cardinals that dropped his team to the .500 mark.

“I’m usually pretty patient, but I’m getting to my rope’s end,” the 70-year-old manager said. “The effort’s there, but we’re just not getting it done. We’ve got the players who can get it done, we’re just not getting it done. It’s time to get a little mad.”

Time to get mad? Twenty games into a 162-game marathon? That may seem a bit premature, but the way his team is slumping at the plate right now, it’s tough to blame Johnson for being frustrated.
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  1. peric - Apr 24, 2013 at 4:25 AM

    Seems kind of early for that or so the experts tell us? There's a problem and its with injuries. LaRoche is a strike out machine right now regressing to what he was with the AZ Diamondbacks. He's not a legitimate threat. Wainwright admitted he decided to walk Harper and pitch to LaRoche? I guess that's the problem : a completely emasculated heart of the lineup after Harper. I guess we'll see Moore tomorrow against the lefty I hope he can start getting hot as he was last spring with Syracuse.

  2. peric - Apr 24, 2013 at 4:25 AM

    And Chris Young? Looks to me he's a feeding frenzy for AAA hitters with the 82 mph fastball.

  3. Clip&Store - Apr 24, 2013 at 5:25 AM

    The real question right now is…Who has more protection in the lineup…Bryce Harper, or Giancarlo Stanton?I vote the latter.

  4. D'Gourds - Apr 24, 2013 at 5:58 AM

    I know I'm mad! Well, the Caps turned their season around. Maybe our Natsies can too. But it's just torture watching this team now.

  5. peric - Apr 24, 2013 at 6:20 AM

    And Espy is a better right handed hitter than he is left. I suspect we might see Lombo … but at third base? Or in left field with Harper moving to center which would pretty much remove every left-handed hitter except Harper.

  6. Secret wasian man - Apr 24, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    Can't believe Espinoza criticizing Davey for getting mad. Saying getting mad wont help. What would help is sitting Danny. I'm starting to dislike some of the guys on this team. What a stupid comment by Danny.

  7. Laddie Blah Blah - Apr 24, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    Werth and La Roche are not hitting with men on base. The only 2 guys who are hitting are Harper and Lombo. The bad guys just pitch around Harper and Davey won't even start Lombo, for whatever reason.This team did not hit early, last year, either, but they won the close games, largely because La Roche had an uncharacteristically good spring. And they seemed to be out to prove something last year, but lack any urgency this year – like Desi's and Ryan's casual dismissal of their problems in the field, like it doesn't bother them and that it doesn't matter.The pitching and defense last night were outstanding. They played the kind of game that Rizzo built the team to win, but they lost, instead. JZ knows exactly how Detwiler must feel. The hitting will come around later in the year, just like it did, last year. Even Espinoza started to hit last August, and both Harper and Zim were on a roll toward the end of the year.In the meantime, those guys have got to grind it out and play team baseball in those clutch situations. Scratch out the runs when you get the chance. Play smart until you start to play well. No swinging at a 3 – 0 pitch with 2 guys on and nobody out and Harper on deck, for example. No 4 or 6 pitch innings for a guy whose pitch count was high for every other part of the lineup.This is where Davey gets to make a difference, if he can. He could start by not telling his prize prospect that he has no chance to make this team. He could play one of his hottest hitters, Lombo, and bench Danny. I don't think TyMo would have struck out 4 times last night. He's worth a shot in place of ALR, who is in his usual early season slump. (Good call, Peric).You play the guys who give you the best chance to win.

  8. baseballswami - Apr 24, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    Whomever starts the game on this fine April day could not possibly do worse than scoring zero runs and losing the game. I keep thinking- okay, now they have hit the bottom and will start to climb up. Have they? Wainwright was angry that he "let" Bryce get on base, even though he did not end up scoring. I would like to see that kind of attitude – might help a resurgence of Natitude. Need some fire and swagger. A great Stras outing could help.

  9. Manassas Nats' Fan - Apr 24, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    is that 5 shutouts now? That is 25% of the time.

  10. mick - Apr 24, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. mick - Apr 24, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    Davey, YOU THINK??

  12. fast eddie - Apr 24, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    I've watched us lose to some of the best pitchers in the NL recently: Hudson, Harvey, Wainwright, Miller. They had command of multiple pitches "on the black", while Stras, Gio and Haren did not.Not to make excuses for our hitters, but you only need to beat other teams' aces occasionally, then pound their #3/4/5 pitchers frequently.Yes, several guys are in slumps, but to me, we've been out-pitched.

  13. Lipty P - Apr 24, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    Nats are THE most CLUTCHless hitting team….EVER!

  14. Rabbit34 - Apr 24, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    The headline to this article is a riot!! By the time the Nationals get-it-together, there won't be enough games left to catch the Braves, or for that matter any of the other teams in front of us. Oh, the Nats look sooo bad. At least there is Harper, Det, and Zimm. Oh, come on Rendon!!

  15. BigCat - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    That includes you to Davey. Maybe go out and chew on an ump. Get tossed. Show some life!

  16. Steady Eddie - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Rabbit34 - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Just another thought. When a player is put in the lineup for a "lineup change", it should be for a minimum of a week. At least that may take a little pressure off of them. Wow, imagine saying that about professionals making millions and millions a year. Seems absurd. But, it's true. That's the way the ball bounces. Maybe if we win, North Korea will end the war. Perspective.

  18. Richmond Nat - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    "I understand why it’d be so frustrating for us and it would be easy to turn that way and just be [ticked] off about everything,” second baseman Danny Espinosa said. “But what’s that going to do? It’s going to put added pressure on every single guy in the clubhouse, trying to do more, trying to get outside of their game. You’re putting too much pressure on every single guy.” Bench his butt!! And anyone else who can't handle pressure. You get paid to handle pressure. If you can't, go back to the minor leagues.

  19. Navy Nats Fan - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    What a beautiful day – need an excuse to come to the game and see the results when Davey gets a little mad?I have a few groups of extra tickets in the right field mezzanine to today's game – I am selling then at a deep discount. Contact me at navynatsfan(at)gmail(dot)com for details!

  20. DaveB - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    I think Danny is absolutely right … baseball is a game of patience, routine, etc. much more than just effort or desire. This comment is a little out of character for Davey, but I think probably intentional. "It’s going to put added pressure on every single guy in the clubhouse" might well hurt some in the short run, but I think Davey is thinking much more about the pennant race / playoffs, and thinking that it is good to learn a little more about how the team reacts to pressure.

  21. baseballswami - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    I agree that if you make a line up change it has to be at least a full series not one game. As for Danny- I don't care if he is right or not, you don't disagree with the manager to the press. Danny knows he is the organizational golden boy and can play however he wants and say whatever he wants. Unacceptable. You want to see me say my boss is wrong in public? You want to see me looking for a new job?

  22. bowdenball - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    If you want to see Lombo replace Espi today it means you either don't know we're facing a lefty or don't know Lombo and Espi's splits vs. LHPs.Either way, if you can't be bothered to check even the most basic information, you probably shouldn't be posting on a message board about proposed lineup changes. Thankfully Davey is not as careless as you are.

  23. bowdenball - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    I can't believe people are unable to take a step back and realize how spoiled and short-sighted they sound posting angry rants about a 10-10 team that had the first season over .500 in its history last year. It's very early, and you're very spoiled. This is the kind of entitled attitude we used to hate in other fan bases. Get a little perspective, please.

  24. DaveB - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    Swami … I agree … my point was not to defend Danny making those comments … I was more about noting that last year Davey consistently tried hard to get the team to just relax and have confidence when things got tense (with great success), while this year he seems to instead be intentionally trying to ramp up the pressure (these comments, WSOB, etc.). I think Davey really has shifted some of his focus to how to get the team "playoff tough" … hopefully he hasn't made that shift too early, but it will be interesting to watch.

  25. Richmond Nat - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    Bowden, I'm not upset about the record. You are correct. What I'm upset about is the apparent response by the team to "pressure". These guys get paid to respond to pressure. If you have the right guys your game should rise under pressure. Your game should improve when the lights are on and the nation is watching. Like a team in NY over the years. I like to think that is why we paid Jayson Werth so much money. He always seemed like one of those guys in Philly. If pressure doesn't make you better then you might just have the wrong guys.

  26. Knoxville Nat - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Bowdenball said:"If you want to see Lombo replace Espi today it means you either don't know we're facing a lefty or don't know Lombo and Espi's splits vs. LHPs.Either way, if you can't be bothered to check even the most basic information, you probably shouldn't be posting on a message board about proposed lineup changes. Thankfully Davey is not as careless as you are." Ok I checked the splits. This season Espinosa is hitting .125 vs LH pitching and .174 against RH. Lombo is hitting .500 against LH pitching and .278 against RH. Granted Lombo has had fewer at bats against all pitchers but SO FAR this season he has outperformed Espinosa.Anything else you would like to add at this point?

  27. Joe Seamhead - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    My thoughts exactly:bowdenball said…I can't believe people are unable to take a step back and realize how spoiled and short-sighted they sound posting angry rants about a 10-10 team that had the first season over .500 in its history last year. It's very early, and you're very spoiled. This is the kind of entitled attitude we used to hate in other fan bases. Get a little perspective, please.April 24, 2013 8:33 AM

  28. bowdenball - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    Richmond Nat:It's been proven many times that almost all baseball players are exactly the same regardless of the pressure. Look up studies on clutch hitting. It's a myth. Google it and you'll see. And I'm not sure what you consider "pressure" anyway. Which games this season have been pressure-filled? They are 1-1 on Fox Saturday baseball. They're 1-1 in home sellouts. And as far as Mr. Werth goes- he did OK last October in a "pressure-packed" situation, as you may remember. Are you saying that even though he's good enough to hit a walkoff HR in Game 4 of the NLDS, he can't handle the pressure of a Tuesday night late April game? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

  29. mick - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Bowdenball, you have good points but most of the fan frustration I think is due to Davey's proclomation of "World Series or bust" Add to the fact that Davey is a Hall of Fame Manager who knows what it takes to win a World Series, and of course fans will take it seriously. In other words, if the Nats manager was not of Davey's stature, most fans would think, that he is just being over positive and blowing smoke up everyone's ass. The problem is, this proclamation came from Davey who manged the club to 98 wins and fell short by inches of advancing the NCLS. I have been around this game my whole life and I always look at historical comparisons. I think Nats fans would feel better if they would do the same. What I mean is the following and Peric has brought this up as well, the talent base is tremendous. EVERY great team after tasting success seems to take a step back 1, sometimes even 2 years before coming back and dominating the next decade. Having said this, Davey needs to also self evaluate his decisions. Either bring up some young guys and go with it, accept that Espi will NEVER bat Left handed consistently, make him bat right or play Lombo God dammit! Just to give an example

  30. Eric - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    I Davey really meant the team should get angry with itself. If he did, then I agree with Danny that such an approach would be harmful.But, I think Davey meant it's time to "play angry," rather than it's time to "get angry at yourself." Playing angry can be ineffectual and erratic, but for a team that's locked up it might be a good way to open the door.

  31. 3on2out - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Manassas Nats' Fan?Really? 5 shutouts? Yeah, if you count the 2 pitched by our guys…

  32. Eric - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Wow, nice mixed metaphor at the end there, eh?"For a team that's locked up, [playing angry] might be a good way to [get the engine humming again]";)

  33. natsfan1a - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    Yeah, the wheels kinda came off on that one. :-)

  34. bowdenball - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Knoxville Nat said…"Ok I checked the splits. This season Espinosa is hitting .125 vs LH pitching and .174 against RH. Lombo is hitting .500 against LH pitching and .278 against RH. Granted Lombo has had fewer at bats against all pitchers but SO FAR this season he has outperformed Espinosa.Anything else you would like to add at this point?"Yes. I'd like to point out that you seem to not understand small sample sizes. Or maybe you think Pirates backup catcher Michael McKenry is a better power hitter than Giancarlo Stanton? He's got a higher slugging percentage than Stanton this year- by your logic the Marlins should trade them straight up.Lombo has 10 ABs against left-handed pitching. Ten. That's two games' worth. You don't make lineup decisions based on numbers from 10 ABs. You make them based on as much data as you can get, and it's pretty obvious to anyone who understands that which 2B option hits better against left-handed pitching. I know that, I suspect Davey knows that and will play Espi today, and I would hope that most everyone else knows that too.

  35. bowdenball - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    mick said…"Having said this, Davey needs to also self evaluate his decisions. Either bring up some young guys and go with it, accept that Espi will NEVER bat Left handed consistently, make him bat right or play Lombo God dammit! Just to give an example"If he wanted to platoon them that's one thing. I would disagree with the decision, but it could be done pretty easily.But you can't ask a guy who hasn't seen right-handed pitching from the right side of the plate in a decade to all of a sudden give it a shot at the major league level. Baseball doesn't work that way. I don't know of any switch-hitter ever who just stopped switch hitting and went to his better side all the time. He'd need years of practice.

  36. NatsLady - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Nats have been shut out 4 times as follows 4/5, 4/14, 4/21, 4/23. That is 20%. Also twice only scored 1 run 4/13 and 4/19. That is hard for even the best pitchers to overcome.

  37. Eric - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    I'll tell you what, the last thing I want to see is changes to our defense JUST as it finally becomes smooth like buttah. PLEASE, Davey, just hold steady. The fielding was pure joy to watch last night.

  38. NatsLady - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Anyway, I agree with the concept of not giving up on our team or its manager in APRIL.

  39. Eric - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Granted, I missed the 4th inning while I was putting my son to bed…but it sounds like all runs were come by entirely honestly…yes?

  40. Richmond Nat - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    Bowden, I was Jayson as an example of a guy who does play well under pressure. Like last fall. And I disagree about there not being clutch players. I like to use the Atlanta Braves during their playoff years as an example. Never could get it done in the playoffs. They were a different team in the playoffs.As for the Nats. If game 5 last year wasn't an example of a team not responding to pressure, I don't know what is. What is their record on nationally televised games? Davey keeps saying he wants some big hairy chested guys sitting next to him on the bench. I think I know what he means and he needs a few on the field, too. Bryce probably already is. I think Ramos is too. Werth, maybe. Hopefully, Soriano will be. Detwiller is growing into it. Have I missed anyone?

  41. Gonat - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    BABIP doesn't matter when your batters strikeout.LaRoche looks as lost at the plate as he did with that shoulder injury in 2011.Werth is sandwiched in a great spot as he's hitting between Span and Harper.Definitely TyMo time!

  42. Don - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Espi's a liability at the plate, he just is. 1300 ABs bears it out. Upside power is great but his contact rate and pitch recognition are just bad. Werth is pressing, maybe the contract weighs on him or the need to be "the guy", who knows. But, I think that the club needs to play guys who can hit in spots that make sense for them. Lineup might beSpanLomboHarperALRWerthDesmondRendonSuzukiTwo guys who can get on and over, Harper is Harper, at clean-up they can flip Werth/ALR for lefty SP. Werth had his best success in the middle of the order, he's trying to win games from the 2 hole and that is just not the right approach for that slot. He wants to swing big, he can do that lower down.

  43. 3on2out - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    oops!You are right Natslady. 4 times.

  44. bowdenball - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Sorry, Richmond Nat, but I have no idea what you're saying. It kind of sounds like you're just frustrated that this team is 10-10 and want to find a reason. I can understand the frustration given the hype surrounding the 2013 team, they've been playing poorly and are very lucky to be 10-10. But the reasons are complicated and correctable over the long haul, and they probably will be corrected. We're fans so we live and die with this team every day. But if you ask outside experts whether they think this team will be in the race all year, I bet almost all of them would say yes, because they have the benefit of looking at it from a place of reason instead of passion.

  45. John C. - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    I find myself wondering whether the "sky is falling, this team [stinks]" posters – and the trolls, a different group – will just fade away as the season goes on (as they did last year), or will simply take credit for when the team starts to play better ("it's about time they started doing what I wanted them to do!").One thing I know they won't do is admit that they were wrong. It's the internet, we don't do that here.

  46. Gonat - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    John C, well Al Gore invented the internet.

  47. bowdenball - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    Don said…Espi's a liability at the plate, he just is. 1300 ABs bears it out. Upside power is great but his contact rate and pitch recognition are just bad. Werth is pressing, maybe the contract weighs on him or the need to be "the guy", who knows. But, I think that the club needs to play guys who can hit in spots that make sense for them. Lineup might beSpanLomboHarperALRWerthDesmondRendonSuzukiTwo guys who can get on and over …"Lombo's career OBP is virtually the same as Espi's. Why would you call one of them a "liability at the plate" who has no pitch recognition ability as shown by his 1300 career ABs, and then describe the other as a guy who "gets on base over and over"? I'm sorry to be the rain on everyone's Lombo MVP parade. I love him for his position flexibility and his ability to put the ball in play off the bench. Great guy to have on your 25 man roster. But this is what he is: a career .314 OBP guy with almost no power and limited defensive range.

  48. D'Gourds - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    Put 10 -10 in real perspective. We've played Marlins 6 times and Harper has been hitting impossibly well. He's carried the team. This team could easily be 4-16. We have just sucked. Davey has to start mixing it up and play hotter hands like Lombo. Keep Rendon in to see what he's got.

  49. Eric - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    There's actually more truth to the *idea* that Gore invented the Internet than there is to the *claim* that he ever said he did ;) .

  50. JD - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    There are 2 main differences between last April and this one: Steven Strasburg Gio Gonzalez

  51. RaleighNat - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Zimmerman is very important to our offense. Puts everyone in their proper space and he is the only guy, other than Harper, that we have difficulty replacing with a very strong player. I know he was struggling with the defense, but a lot of our offensive woes and the reason it seems to be dragging so long is that Zimm is out.Werth and LaRoche are nice complementary pieces…but Zimm has got to get and stay healthy.

  52. JD - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    RaleighNat, That's true but we did manage to go 15-5 last April with almost no contribution from Zimm. As I recall the offense was LaRoche and Desmond.

  53. Gonat - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    bowdenball said… Don said…Espi's a liability at the plate, he just is. 1300 ABs bears it out. Upside power is great but his contact rate and pitch recognition are just bad.___________________________Certainly enough people saying the same and others keep talking about this upside.I really think he needs to prove his upside in AAA. Potential is great for teams like the Astros and Marlins but it just doesn't work for teams like the Nats who are working towards a Championship.Is it possible he will turn into a great hitter? It's possible but you have to look at that really awful non-contact Whiff rate.

  54. Janus - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    From Kilgore, Moore in for LaRoche and Solano in for Suzuki as expected. No Lombo in this lineup.

  55. D'Gourds - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Espi is injured, but won't admit it. He's terrified that he'll lose his position to Lombo/Rendon if he takes time off. How long can we withstand his inning killer strike outs? It's so painful to watch. Send him down to Syracuse, keep Rendon up when Zimm comes back. Play Lombo now.

  56. Janus - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Excuse me, that was James Wagner on the post blog that reported the lineup.

  57. Eric - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Espi's injury must be a very strange one, as his fielding has been absolutely stellar so far.

  58. D'Gourds - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    I believe he had a left shoulder injury that he opted not to surgically repair in the offseason and instead rehabbed it. It is what he blamed he lousy second half last year on.

  59. Don - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Espi should be either in Cuse getting it right or on the bench as the utility guy. Lombo has played well enough to deserve a shot at every day ABs and the club is struggling to score runs. I don't understand the resistence to playing the hotter hand.

  60. DaveB - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Don,Always "playing the hotter hand" works great in fantasy baseball and maybe in a key playoff game. In real life it's a very long season and Davey's job is to get his best players to a point where they produce their best results. That isn't usually done by benching them whenever they have a slump.

  61. Secret wasian man - Apr 24, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    Mark the series against the Reds actually starts tomorrow which is Thursday. A 4 game set.

  62. Nats106 - Apr 24, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    Fortunately, today was the first game I have been to in a while since game 3 of the Marlins: My unbiased perspective:Postives to take away:1) Soon, with the Nationals level of play I will have my beloved sec 106 to myself again like in 2010 and 11.2) I will be able to buy president club passes when I don't want to sit in 106 at a 75% discount.3) If you don't believe this team can come back, look at the giants record at this time last year. I'll take their first 60 days if I can have their last 60.Now the negatives:1) Face it, in the field we have 1 Harper and 7 Harpos (as in Marx.)That dropped ball at 2nd on the throw from Harper was a game changer.2) The coaching staff needs to stand up and start managing, which they havent done since the 7tj inning of game 5 of the NLDS. If you are looking for an example, I submit last Saturday, when Gio was cruising until he gave up 4 hits, 4 walks and 4 runs. Hint to the coaching staff: Talk to your piutcher BEFORE he gives up 4 runs, not after!3) Hitter: start hitting4) Fielders, if you can't do item 3 above, please start making NO errors. I saw better fielding at a high school JV game last night. The fact that Carpenter was given a double and not a single with an error by the infielder at 2nd base is criminal.5) Fans are still showing up, and I'll be there tomorrow. If we show up, so should the players, not just a bunch of jerseys.I leave my rant with a famous quote from Rob Schnider in The Waterboy. "Oh NO, We suck again!"You can agree or disagree or say I am a lousy fan for saying this, but if the fans pay, the team should play.

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