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Nats who’s hot/who’s not-5/15

May 15, 2013, 5:05 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today

By Michael Huberman


Gio Gonzalez, SP – 0-0/0.00 ERA/7 IP/2 H/6 SO
At just 86 pitches through seven innings against the Cubs, it seemed Gio Gonzalez was well on his way to completing his best start since April 25 against Cincinnati. But with a 1-0 lead, Davey Johnson elected to pinch-hit for Gio, only to see the Cubs come back to win 2-1 on Sunday. Regardless of whether Johnson made the right call, Gonzalez has been excellent in his last two starts, giving up seven hits and two runs while striking out 11 in his last 13 innings.

Ian Desmond, SS – 9-22/2 HR/2 2B/4 R/1.253 OPS
As Desmond’s assault on the baseball continues, so does his ascension as one of the best offensive shortstops in the major leagues. He’s currently second among shortstops in doubles (13), third in homers (6), third in slugging (.527) and 3rd in OPS (.843). On the negative side, he currently leads all shortstops with seven errors.

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  1. phil dunton - May 15, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    You could include Rick Eckstein in the not so hot group. Oops, I forgot that Rizzo has declared any criticism of Eckstein off limits. Other teams having serious offense problems for an extended period, fire the hitting coach but not Rizzo.

  2. SCNatsFan - May 15, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    phil I have called for Eck's head many a time but I think he can only work with what he has; doesn't seem like he can reach some of the guys though and when you look at the struggles of someone like Moore, a professional hitter, you'd think a hitting coach would be able to get him back on track.

  3. Sec. 3, My Sofa - May 15, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    Oh, I dunno, SC. We've had coaching galore in here, and for many of the posters here, the Mendoza line might as well be the ISS.

  4. 1/2 St. - May 15, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    You left out Ryan Zimmerman, 3B – 12-for-32 (.375) with 2 doubles, a triple, 6 walks, 7 runs, 5 RBI and 2 stolen bases in last nine games, raising his average from .211 to .270 in that span.

  5. Exposremains - May 15, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    I keep hoping to see on twitter: Nats actively shopping Espinosa. Heavy interest from multiple teams

  6. Eric - May 15, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    True, 1/2 St, but then there are the errors behind Stras…

  7. Tcostant - May 15, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Might be time to consider JC Romero for Duke, in addition to Owings for Moore.Now for something complete different: I was listening to the MLB radio channel this morning and a caller offer a point that made me consider this fact. Any time a guy is on second base with ALR up and the overshift is on, the guy on second should try to steal third. Bottom line, the 3B is in no position to take a throw and it is almost a giveme.

  8. phil dunton - May 15, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    SCNATSFAN–There's an old saying: If the pupils fail to learn, the teacher has failed to teach. Beyond that, can anyone on this board tell me any credentials Rick Eckstein has to be a major league hitting coach. I can't find any evidence that he ever played minor league baseball. Other than being David Ecstein's brother, I can't find any legitimate reason.

  9. JamesFan - May 15, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    They are going to play this season out with the coaches they have. The big moves in coaches will come over the winter depending on what happens in October. Unfortunately, I think they feel that way about the players as well. My guess is that they stick with Espinoza until the AS game. For Espy, we have options in the system. I would rather see them try that before making a trade. I just hope they don't dump the quality in the minors at the trading deadline for a lefty reliever or a bench player to replace Moore who will go down if he doesn't turn it around reasonable soon.

  10. Dominats Vobiscum - May 15, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    "Exposremains said… I keep hoping to see on twitter: Nats actively shopping Espinosa."If you've paid any attention at all to Rizzo's GM career, you'd know that he never shops anyone. He'll dump a player every now and then, like Nyjer Morgan, but it's only in cases where the only other possibility for that player is outright release. Rizzo never approaches other GMs with a player saying "What can I get for this guy?", he approaches the GMs that have players he wants and asks what it would take to get them. That's his style. He's an acquirer, not an unloader.

  11. SCNatsFan - May 15, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    Espi has a meager trade value. He's in the organization, just a question if he is travelling by plane or bus.

  12. Exposremains - May 15, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    I think that's what he wants other GM to believe but I'm sure he shops guys all the time. Rizzo's strength is certainly not trading. Some good ones, quite a few misses

  13. UNTERP - May 15, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    This is the specific thing I find most annoying about Espinosa, swinging at "anything 3 inches below the letters or above." To my recollection and I'm not being facetious, he has never gotten a hit against any pitcher who throws a ball 3 inches below the letter or higher and he swings at those pitches religiously. That tells me he's stupid. I would never throw a strike against him because he gets himself out swinging at garbage…

  14. baseballswami - May 15, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    Not every teaching style suits every student. I have always gotten the impression that Eckstein is helpful with scouting type reports on what a given pitcher might throw you in a game. I also get the impression that he is good with guys who basically already know their mechanics. That kind of coach is not necessarily good with a young hitter who is figuring things out or who needs more help with the mental aspect of the game. Sounds like Moore and Lombo got most of their coaching from Tracy and DeRosa last year about how to stay sharp as a hitter when you are on the bench. Lombo seems like he might be battling his way out, but Moore looks lost and is being put in the worst situations for him constantly. The threat of game changing power in his scouting report is causing pitchers to pitch him tough. Even though he is struggling they know he can knock one out on any pitch. I feel bad for the kid. If he got half the time and attention Espi has gotten, he would probably be awesome.

  15. DL in VA - May 15, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    "Rizzo's strength is certainly not trading. Some good ones, quite a few misses"Denard Span, Gio Gonzalez, and Wilson Ramos say "hello."

  16. Section 222 - May 15, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    With a man on 2nd, I've never seen a shift leaving the left side of the diamond completely empty. At the very least, there's one infielder playing between the two bases who can beat a baserunner to the 3B bag in a footrace if necessary. Of course, he'll have to be paying close attention to make sure that the runner doesn't get a jump and beat him.On the other hand, it does seem like there are many times, with men on and the bases empty when ALR could simply chop the ball down the 3B line, or even bunt for a base hit. He wouldn't even have to run that fast. Maybe he's not capable of doing that but especially when things were going badly for him, it seems like that would make opposing teams hesitate to shift on him quite so drastically.

  17. SCNatsFan - May 15, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    UNTERP, exactly and with 3 walks this year espi is helping pitchers out. Throw him a fastball he will take for strike one, hrow a fastball outside the zone he fouls off for strike two then any breaking ball garbage anywhere for strike three. Repeat ad nauseum. After the first pitch no need to throw him a strike.

  18. Eric - May 15, 2013 at 6:27 PM

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  19. Steady Eddie - May 15, 2013 at 7:05 PM

    "Rizzo's strength is certainly not trading. Some good ones, quite a few misses"Would you people give it up on the Josh Willingham trade already? The As got Josh for ONE SEASON, repeat ONE SEASON. That ONE SEASON was 2011 and not having him meant bupkis to our final standing that year. (Oooohhh maybe we could have finished third at 83-78 instead of third at 80-81. Maybe it wouldn't have rained that one day and we would have beaten the Dodgers and finished 84-78.)If Rizzo had wanted Willingham back after that year he could have signed him as a FA for whatever the Twins gave him. He didn't want him back for obvious defensive reasons.But the bottom line is that we only gave up what we controlled Willingham for, which was his 2011 season. In the long run, for that reason, it was a relatively small potatoes deal. What the "Rizzo got taken on the Willingham deal" crowd is really on about is hanging onto what they believe, not without good reason, is the fool's gold of HRod's ceiling. As others have pointed out, that is all about "not another Hanrahan" and has nothing to do with the Willingham deal.

  20. Eric - May 15, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    OK, I *rarely* have a sense of how a game will go unless there is a long streak that seems unlikely to continue (e.g., we're facing a team that's recently on an 0 – 9 skid, I basically assume we'll lose).Tonight, though I have a feeling we're going to DEVOUR Greinke. 9 – 3 Nats.Maybe I'm too fixated on his rushed return and/or I should wait for the line up, but I just have a feeling.

  21. baseballswami - May 15, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    I find this Espi discussion to be very frustrating. Every single point and every single aspect of the situation has been hashed and rehashed. Same thing day after day and nothing ever seems to change. Is this just the way it is ? We let him play defense and have two pitching spot holes? Maybe everyone should just stop expecting any offense from him. Then whatever he does will just be a nice surprise.

  22. baseballswami - May 15, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    Carlos Zambrano is going to the Phils? What??? Hide your women and children!! True desperation– I just cannot see that working.

  23. kgwhit - May 15, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    It doesn't seem the guys we have lost in the last few off seasons are hitting as well as they did here under Eck. Morse, Dunn and Willingham are all struggling.

  24. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 15, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    baseballswami, the Nats have some good hitting pitchers and they bat once every 5 days. Strasburg has a Silver Slugger!

  25. baseballswami - May 15, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    I hear you on the guys who left . Good point. Our pitchers are awesome with a bat. Sounds like they mostly do it on their own. Good athletes. Well, Det does not bunt all that well….. I see no reason why they should not help their own cause. Do any of them have a higher BA than Espi? Small sample size, I know, but just saying. Kind of wish Espi would drag bunt more often, though. Seems like it should be an unwritten rule that you should not hit worse than your pitchers.

  26. SCNatsFan - May 15, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    If Willingham was still here we'd be complaining about him… not like he is Mickey Mantle or anything. That is if he was healthy and playing which isn't assured.

  27. NatsLady - May 15, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    LaRoche bunted for a hit once last year. It cured teams of the shift for a while… He might want to do it again this year.

  28. kgwhit - May 15, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    Only Gio has a better average than Espi

  29. Pilchard - May 15, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    Another example of the risk of signing pitchers to expensive long-term contracts:The Indians hammered Cole Hamels today, and the Phillies are about to go 1-8 in Hamels starts this year. The Phillies have committed $22 million a year for Hamels through 2018, with an option could vest for another $20 million in 2019. Ouch.

  30. NatsLady - May 15, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    That camera angle they have in LA really shows how far RZ stands back in the box.

  31. NatsLady - May 15, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    Yeah, I might have to take back what I wrote yesterday about Hamels being unlucky… LOL.

  32. baseballswami - May 15, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

  33. Theophilus T. S. - May 15, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    I can't figure out what Duke (or Rodriguez, for that matter) is serving right now. With one notable exception the Nats are in close games not blowouts. In four games, Bray is showing in Harrisburg that he's gotten it together. If he keeps it up for another couple of weeks (maybe less), the decision will only be about money.

  34. Theophilus T. S. - May 15, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    Have been off line for a few days . . . don't know if anyone earlier mentioned T. Hamilton's article in the Post this morning — it may be the only good thing's she's ever written but she certainly hammered the nail into the board. Unless Strasburg straightens out his attitude and makes peace with his teammates, we're not going to care whether the Nats get a home-town discount at free agent time.

  35. Theophilus T. S. - May 15, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    As to the earlier post, the word "purpose" was omitted in the first line.

  36. Ron In Reston - May 15, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    Swami – are you kidding with the Zambrano thing? What's the over/under on how many starts before he tries to fight the entire ballpark?Wow.Now, about Eckstein. Just like a team is never as good as it looks when winning or as bad as it looks when losing, Eck is no more to blame for offensive woes this year than he is to be praised for offensive success last season. The Nats were in the top five in almost every meaningful offensive category last year, and have mostly the same lineup on the field this year. again, we have been dealing with shuffling lineups (Lombo-Perez-Moore in the outfiled last night? Yikes) which doesn't help anyone get in a groove. ALR seems to be finding his way back, Zim's bat is back in the lineup and cooking, and hope fully we have Harper back by the weekend and Werth in a week or so. Get the regular starting eight back on the field and back in the batting order where they belong and let's see how they jell. Espi is struggling, there's no denying that, but it's not affecting his defense, and that's what this team is about, pitching and defense. And good defense starts up the middle – Ramozuki-Espi-Desi-Span is as good or better than any other middle defense out there.

  37. SCNatsFan - May 15, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    Theo hadn't seen that but I'm on my way to find the article

  38. Steady Eddie - May 15, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    Theo — he "makes peace with his teammates" by doing his job and focusing his talents.Good piece but nothing that hadn't been written at least 10 or 12 times on various blogs after the Cubs game.

  39. Exposremains - May 15, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    I just think that Rizzo is really good at spotting talent, above average in trades, average at signing free agent. A bit too much in love with his guys and somewhat too stubborn.

  40. Theophilus T. S. - May 15, 2013 at 8:49 PM

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  41. Theophilus T. S. - May 15, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    Eddie — nothing personal intended but that's crap. No professional who gives a fig about his teammates sulks and goes stomping around the mound after an error. "Doing his job" — and it is manifest that he is not "doing" it — is only one of his obligations. Teammates loved Ankiel even if he couldn't hit water from the Santa Monica pier.

  42. NatsLady - May 15, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    Speaking as a person with a long career in show business, I'd say it's a mix. You don't get along with all your cast. All kinds of stuff happens. But when the show is on, you "leave it at the door," because the audience doesn't give a FIG about who is right and who is wrong, they paid money to see the show, and usually they also paid money to see the star. If you sabatoge the star, you won't have a job. Period. They will let you go and keep the star–every time. And you will get a bad rep for the next job.But if the star "sulks" and doesn't give a good performance because he/she is miffed at another cast member or techie, THAT'S what people will remember. Also, part of a good show is the orchestra, etc., performing up to their best. If you don't get support, you may still be able to give a "star" performance, but it's exhausting, really exhausting, like a one-man show (and even a one-man show needs techies…)Last year I wondered if RZ was having difficulty adjusting to Bryce (and to some extent Stras) taking away some of his stardom–because he had been the only real star on this team for a long time. Well, if he did (and I don't know that he did), he's clearly made his peace with it. Stras will never get to the World Series without his teammates and rotation mates at the top of their game–not just him at the top of HIS game.

  43. Laddie Blah Blah - May 15, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    "Maybe everyone should just stop expecting any offense from him. Then whatever he does will just be a nice surprise."I've been there for a long time. It's such a pleasant and unexpected surprise, so we may as well appreciate those moments. Maybe tonight. He's overdue."LaRoche bunted for a hit once last year. It cured teams of the shift for a while… He might want to do it again this year."I remember that play. I don't know why he doesn't do it more often, either. If my memory is correct, I think Davey ordered him to bunt. If they are going to give him a free hit, why not take it? Go 5 for 5 a few times and they'll have to adjust.

  44. EmDash - May 15, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    Braves looking likely to win in Arizona today unless the Diamondbacks figure out how to hit Tim Hudson.

  45. kgwhit - May 15, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    If the Nats had 5 or 6 guys hitting over .280 then you could keep him in for his glove. When you are forced to start Moore and Lambo, you can't afford the luxury of a great glove.

  46. NatsLady - May 15, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    Consider it done. You're welcome.>Braves looking likely to win in Arizona today unless the Diamondbacks figure out how to hit Tim Hudson.

  47. Eugene in Oregon - May 15, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    EmDash – Diamonds seem to have figured it out in the 5th.

  48. EmDash - May 15, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    Ha, my record as a reverse-jinx continues. *g*

  49. Anna Peregrina - May 15, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    Hudson now being pinch-hit for.

  50. Steady Eddie - May 15, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    Theo — if you weren't so wrapped up in your own generally snotty self, you would have recognized that I wasn't really disagreeing with you.If Stras does his job which includes getting people out the next time something goes wrong on the field during his start, he will make all the peace with his teammates they need.But thanks for the reminder that it's a waste of time to address any comments to you.

  51. SonnyG10 - May 15, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    Caught Mike Rizzo on the Mike Rizzo Show on 106.7 this morning. He was asked (essentially) how much rope does Espinosa have and Mike replied that he thought Danny was going to come around at the plate, but they (the Nats) really need the defense and arm strength he has. Mike also said Danny was needed as the backup shortstop. So, unless a great opportunity comes along, sounds like Espinosa is going to be our second baseman for a while.

  52. David Proctor - May 15, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    DBacks just stranded the bases loaded in the 7th.

  53. baseballswami - May 15, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    Ron in Reston- Zambrano really did sign with the Phils organization. Minor league deal with no guarantee and an opt out sometime this summer. Just wait until he rips the Phanatic's head off!

  54. NatsJack in Florida - May 15, 2013 at 10:13 PM

    The one thing that scares me to death with this 2 run D-back lead can be expressed in 2 words……..Heath Bell.

  55. Joe Seamhead - May 15, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    Coach sjm308, sorry, but can't help myself, but for all of you that believe in kinesiology, please raise my arm.

  56. MicheleS - May 15, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    We need baseball before 10 pm. I hate west coast games

  57. Joe Seamhead - May 15, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    And before anybody bites my head off, it's a joke. 308 said that he taught kinesiology at UMD.

  58. Joe Seamhead - May 15, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    Me too, Michele. My problem is that if I stay awake I can't get to sleep after the game.

  59. Eric - May 15, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    "Mike also said Danny was needed as the backup shortstop."That's pretty interesting to consider…

  60. Eric - May 15, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    Dbacks are three outs away…

  61. baseballswami - May 15, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    Thought about Pfitzner, but just can't pull it off. Must use these baseball- less evenings to do some catching up. This Greinke thing sounds intriguing.

  62. Joe Seamhead - May 15, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    Justin struck out. Freeman just doubled.

  63. Eric - May 15, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    1 out to Dbacks win…

  64. NatsJack in Florida - May 15, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    And Heath Bell…..well done, thank you.

  65. David Proctor - May 15, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    Braves lose! If we win tonight, we're in a tie for 1st.

  66. Joe Seamhead - May 15, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    McCann – fielder's choice. Freeman to third. 2 out.

  67. Eric - May 15, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    Mccann and BJ out, game over. Step up Nats!!!

  68. David Proctor - May 15, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    Harper's been doing some work on the field pregame. I'd be shocked if he's in the lineup, but who knows.

  69. Anna Peregrina - May 15, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    As the game starts at 3 a.m. my time, I'll turn in now and hope to catch the end early tomorrow. Hoping for good news! Go, Det!

  70. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 15, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Eric, yep! Thank you AZ

  71. Joe Seamhead - May 15, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Yep, "5 Tool " BJ Upton grounds out to end the game. Lets go Nats!!! GYFNG!!!

  72. Exposremains - May 15, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    The way Rizzo talks about Espinosa, you would think he has already has an mvp and a gold glove. Espinosa is no Utley.

  73. Exposremains - May 15, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    Actually Phillips would be a better comparison

  74. SonnyG10 - May 15, 2013 at 11:23 PM

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  75. Gonat - May 15, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    Joe Seamhead said… Yep, "5 Tool " BJ Upton grounds out to end the game. Lets go Nats!!! GYFNG!!! May 15, 2013 6:44 PM _______________________________I just want to know where the person is who proposed Jordan Zimmermann plus other players for BJ Upton.Some of the trade scenarios that were proposed in 2011 are mind boggling.

  76. David Proctor - May 15, 2013 at 11:53 PM

    Werth had an outfield assist to throw out a guy at the plate in his rehab assignment. He's running well, I read.

  77. David Proctor - May 15, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    Add a hit to that as well. He's 1-2 with a single and an outfield assist.

  78. Joe Seamhead - May 16, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    He can't get back quick enough.

  79. Eric - May 16, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    Agreed Joe!

  80. baseballswami - May 16, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    I would love to stay up and watch the whole LA Greinke drama but, alas, I am already yawning. I hope Det brings a little shock and awe drama to the hitters. I have been waiting for Det to being it like he did in the WBC. When he has that intensity he is fearsome. Time for the offense- such as it is these days– to show up and give him some love in the form of hits and runs. Everyone in that lineup wears a major league uniform and should be able to hit a baseball. If not, sit down. The minors are packed with guys who are dying to make that happen.

  81. David Proctor - May 16, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    Greinke only had one rehab assignment and he gave up 6 runs. I really think they brought him back too soon. But we'll see. He is a great pitcher.

  82. David Proctor - May 16, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    Davey said Harper is well enough to pinch hit tonight. I guess that means he'll be back in the lineup soon.

  83. baseballswami - May 16, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    Wait wait– did I see that Hameks is 1-6 for the season? Really??? Karma is a female dog.

  84. baseballswami - May 16, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    Hamels, that is….

  85. NatsLady - May 16, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    If Colbert is the losing pitcher today, then yes. Because there were three pitchers in my group at 1-5, Colbert, Stras and Samardzija.

  86. baseballswami - May 16, 2013 at 12:40 AM

    Yes, he took the big, fat L.

  87. baseballswami - May 16, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    Samardziga just hit a two run bomb. At least he did not do that here. Time for one of our SP to go yard.

  88. David Proctor - May 16, 2013 at 1:17 AM

    Gio already has.



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