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Stuck in neutral

Jun 29, 2013, 10:21 PM EST

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NEW YORK — Only 15 hours removed from what their manager called their “biggest win of the year,” the Nationals emerged from the dugout at Citi Field again, handed the ball to a promising rookie hurler for his big-league debut, prepared to take their hacks against a struggling right-hander with an inflated ERA and perhaps finally get themselves on the sustained roll that has eluded them all season.

What transpired was an all-too-familiar sight for this team. No offense, combined with bad defense and inconsistent pitching, produced another uninspiring loss, this time by a 5-1 count to the Mets that felt like so many other losses that preceded it over the last three months.

“You can’t explain it,” Davey Johnson said. “It was an uplifting game last night, and today was a downer.”

One step forward, one step backward. That about sums up 2013 so far for the Nationals, who have only one game remaining in the season’s first half and find themselves right where they’ve been nearly the entire time: Back at square one.

They’re 40-40, the 18th time this season they’ve sat at exactly the .500 mark. They haven’t ranged three games better or three games worse since May 18, a full six-week stretch now of mediocrity in its purest form.

Positive momentum? The Nationals seem to be proving there is no such thing.
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  1. Section 222 - Jun 29, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    We started off 7-2 in April and were about to be 8-2, when all of a sudden there was a terrible throw to second base late on a Friday night against the Braves. WODL, I'd almost forgotten our hot start against the Marlins and the White Sox. That Zim error truly was crushing. Being swept by the Braves sent us back almost to .500 and we've essentially been there ever since. We got to five games over after winning 2 of 3 against the Pirates in early May, "sweeping" the Tigers and taking the first game against the Cubs. But then we lost the Cubs series, and it's been a few steps forward, and a few steps back for almost two months. Stuck in neutral indeed. Oh Bryce, we need you back.We really need a series win in NY and to take 3 of 4 against the lowly Brewers. Can we do it with only 3 reliable starters?

  2. Eugene in Oregon - Jun 29, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    Apt headline. Given their negative run differential, the Nats are quite fortunate to be in neutral and not in reverse. One can only hope that Bryce Harper's return on Monday (knock on wood) sparks a real and lasting increase in runs/game. Here's also hoping that the front office doesn't wait until the trade deadline to make some much needed acquisitions — one pitcher, one hitter.

  3. NatsLady - Jun 29, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    So the D-backs are leading 5-4. Then HBP HBP, double, throwing error, single. and it's 6-5 with Kimbrel warming. And that's after Atlanta got two runs on 5 walks and a sac fly.You think Kirk GIbson is aggravated?

  4. karlkolchak - Jun 29, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    "Here's also hoping that the front office doesn't wait until the trade deadline to make some much needed acquisitions"Problem is, what are the Nats going to use to get them? I don't think people realize just how depleted the farm system is of trade bait. Karns, Jordan and Goodwin are probably the most tradable commodities they have right now, and they'd likely have to give up all three and possibly more to get two impact players in return, which would leave them with a farm system almost as depleted as it was when they arrived in DC.When you look at their Top 20 prospects as listed on the team's main minor leagues page, you see few promising pitching prospects, but also an awful lot of guys (not counting Rendon who has "graduated") who are either injured or who ultimately project out to be career backups. That's not a strong hand to deal with when trying to make trades.

  5. NatsLady - Jun 29, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    And now it's 10-5, so KImbrel doesn't even need to bother.

  6. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jun 29, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    I am assuming it is still possible to buy players. There are plenty of productive guys out there in terms of having significant value over a replacement player who are earning more than they are worth. But those are sunk costs and some teams might be looking to recoup a bit of their money. Guys like Willingham and Soriano might be available, although I have no idea. Maybe someone would be interested in Span. We need runs. Our pitching is basically fine, as long as one of the guys works out as a fifth starter.

  7. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 29, 2013 at 11:52 PM

    Taylor Jordan deserved better. 2 glove errors and 1 aggressive error (Desmond) and it was the 2 glove errors that really sunk the Nats today.The Nats made Dillon Gee look like a better pitcher than he is but he also had a defense that made their plays with a little help from some lucky bounces and balls hit right at people.I haven't been this disgusted about this team in a while.

  8. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 29, 2013 at 11:58 PM

    Harper facing Wei-Yin Chen tonight at Double-A and is 0-2 with a walk and run scored.

  9. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jun 29, 2013 at 11:59 PM

    Some guys just pitch well against certain teams. It has always been that way. There is no point in tossing around the guy's ERA and cursing about it. We seemed to handle the Giants' guys fine last year. Just the way it is.

  10. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    Espinosa 1-2 with a double.

  11. karlkolchak - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    Just for the record, here are the Nats Top 20 prospects according to their website:1. Anthony Rendon – "graduated" and no doubt untouchable.2. Brian Goodwin – presumed Nats CF'er of the future though having a subpar year at AA.3. Lucas Giolito – recovering from TJ surgery, likely untouchable anyway.4. AJ Cole – having an up and down year at Potomac.5. Michael Taylor – supposedly has great overall skills as a CF'er, but so far his stats haven't been that impressive.6. Nate Karns7. Eury Perez – projects to be a fourth outfielder at best, is simply allergic to taking walks (5 in 234 PA at AAA).8. Destin Hood – 2nd consecutive poor season at AA–will likely lose prospect status soon.9. Matt Purke – finally pitching well coming off shoulder surgery, but do we really want to trade him?10. Robbie Ray – having a great season at Potomac, but again, do we really want to trade him?11. Matthew Skole – out for the season.12. Chris Marrero – not worth much in trade these days.13. Sammy Solis – injured.14. Zach Walters – hits a ton of home runs but also commits a ton of errors and has shown poor on base skills at AAA. Would not likely fetch an impact player on his own. 15. Christian Garcia – coming off injury.16. Jeff Kobernus – at 25, dude has AAAA player written all over him.17. Taylor Jordan18. Brandon Miller – a 23-year-old playing at Low A who has shown a little power but poor on base skills.19. Sandy Leon – hitting so poorly this year at AA that he hasn't even been called up to replace Solano.20. Jason Martinson – a little bit of power, a little bit of speed, but nothing terribly special having just been promoted to AA at age 24.

  12. mick - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:19 AM

    Mark could not have posted what I feel any better…he is being to kind using the term "mediocrity" I think half ass, uninspiring and over rated is more appropriate.

  13. SonnyG10 - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    I'm thinking Ian Desmond should hit 5th after Zimmerman when Harper gets back. Slide LaRoache and Werth to 6th and 7th. If Rendon stays in a slump, then trade positions between him and Werth.

  14. d'grviii 8 - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    Stuck in neutral? No. More like staggering through the season like a drunk walking the line in a sobriety test.

  15. mick - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    the way this team hits, its more like pick your poison , batting order may not matter

  16. karlkolchak - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:23 AM

    The thing about making deadline deals if you are buying is to remember just how badly they can come back to bite you. Back when the Nats were in "sell" mode, they never traded a true impact player of the kind they need to add now, so we fans don't really have a sense at just how much we'd have to give up to try and save a season that may well go down the tubes anyway.Do you think the Angels might just be regretting giving up Jean Segura (and two others) to get Greinke for two months last year? The Brewers stole their lunch money and their girlfriend with that trade.

  17. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:24 AM

    SonnyG10 said… If Rendon stays in a slumpSlump? You are tough. He has had 2 Web Gems put on him and other unlucky BABIP in the last 3 games. You keep making solid contact and that will turn.

  18. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    I would be surprised to see the Nats trading prospects. What are your needs when everyone is healthy?I'd say the Nats need bench help.

  19. Coolhandbane (formally Bob Saget) - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:35 AM

    I agree with you Steve. They need someone off the bench who can hit in the clutch and be relied on to get a hit or get on base when asked. I was working during the game but I hope Taylor Jordan works out. I dont want Haren to start again.My hope with the addition to Harper and Ramos to this line up, pitchers might actually fear pitching to his. This could help our offense. I hope it does.

  20. Get Some Players - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:43 AM

    Nats need to get Morse back somehow.

  21. Raphael Talisman - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:46 AM

    There is so much time left…let's see what happens when Harp and Ramos come back. This is not last year.That was lightning in a bottle.

  22. karlkolchak - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:49 AM

    @Get Some Players – uh, much as I loved The Beast when he was here, he's having a subpar, injury riddled season in which he hasn't hit a HR in over a month. I fail to see where he could help at this point.

  23. d'grviii 8 - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:50 AM

    "Get Some Players said… Nats need to get Morse back somehow."Too late now. They gave his number to Taylor Jordan.

  24. Secret wasian man - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:52 AM

    Karlkolchak. Your dead wrong. This team batting 38 percentage points worse than last year. What's different? No morse. You can't judge by where he is now

  25. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:55 AM

    Coolhandbane, Taylor had good late movement on his fastball and did a good job of control except in those few spots where he was noticeably agitated. I really didn't see his changeup with split action and Buck's single for the 1st run was from sitting on the changeup that lacked good movement.He only threw 6 sliders and it's a pitch he has to master. He threw a few cutters.He fell victim to his own frustration after the errors. The fact that he couldn't get out of the 4th inning really was the big negative on the day but certainly understandable with all the extra pitches he had to throw because of the errors that extended his innings.

  26. karlkolchak - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    Secret wasian man – are you saying Morse WOULDN'T be repeatedly injured and playing poorly if he was still here? Face it, Morse was a late blooming, one-and-a-half season wonder. It was a great time while it lasted, but it's OVER.

  27. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jun 30, 2013 at 1:01 AM

    Mr. Zuckerman always seems disappointed when big wins against the Mets do not result in "momentum" , whatever that is. Why would guys who haven't hit start hitting just because of one win. We improved last year after a slow hitting start because we got Werth back and Morse back and Harper and Moore played really well. Now we have Span leading off. Harper is out. Moore isn't quite as good this year, nor is Werth and Morse never even plays this year. I am not sure why, with the exception of Rendon coming in and regression to the mean, that we would expect some big bump up. If Morse was so terrible in the outfield, then somebody explain how we managed to win 98 games with him out there. For whatever reason, Mr. Rizzo decided that he didn't like his 98 game winner because it was lousy in left and center field apparently. If you are going to make a deal that essentially undercuts the entire dynamic of last year's team, it better damn work. Harper needs to be restored to his starting position in center field, and either Werth or Rendon needs to be leading off. Ramos is going to have to get the bulk of starts at catcher because we simply have no margin on offense because we are not getting the homers we got last year. Now the runners are dying on the bases.

  28. Coolhandbane (formally Bob Saget) - Jun 30, 2013 at 1:04 AM

    To steve and anyone else who watched the game: From your observations, if Taylor can master the slider, add movement to his change up and not get frustrated by miscues and errors, could be a good 5th starting pitcher for us?Maybe he should talk to our top 3 starting pitchers on what they do in sticky situations and how they pitch in certain situations. Does anyone know of a power or clutch bench player the nats could potentially acquire?

  29. SonnyG10 - Jun 30, 2013 at 1:07 AM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said…SonnyG10 said… If Rendon stays in a slumpSlump? You are tough. He has had 2 Web Gems put on him and other unlucky BABIP in the last 3 games. You keep making solid contact and that will turn.June 29, 2013 8:24 PMI stand corrected. Haven't been able to see him play for the past couple of days, so it's hard to tell how he's doing at the plate.

  30. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 30, 2013 at 1:15 AM

    Sonny, the only difference I have seen in Rendon is he has topped more balls (grounders) to the Shortstop as the Mets are pitching him more inside. If he can get those centered for line drives like he had been doing, all good.

  31. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 30, 2013 at 1:22 AM

    Coolhandbane (formally Bob Saget) said… To steve and anyone else who watched the game: From your observations, if Taylor can master the slider, add movement to his change up and not get frustrated by miscues and errors, could be a good 5th starting pitcher for us?I have to see him get deeper into the game and see how the batters do against him 3rd time through the order.He induced weak contact most of the game. He kept his fastball down when needed. From Taylor's own comments he didn't like his own control with the fastball but much of that was after the errors and those doinks that found outfield grass and seemed to agitate him.Not only do I think he could be a #5, I think if he can get that split change going and the slider dancing he can be a #3 on this team.

  32. phil dunton - Jun 30, 2013 at 1:30 AM

    Chris Davis has hit two more homers this evening and 5 RBIs. He now has 30 Home runs and 79 RBIs. That is more offense than the entire Nationals team.

  33. Theophilus T. S. - Jun 30, 2013 at 1:31 AM

    The problem is not the bench, really. It's the starters, who can't seem to get the game to the point where the bench could win it or at least tie it up. They've got players with resumes like some of the Snyder Redskin teams. Resumes don't win games. Assume your whole team went three for four on even days and oh-for-four on odd days. At the end of the season you'd have a team with a .375 BA and a .500 (or worse) record.Nobody is picking anybody else up. If Harper comes back like Roy Hobbs, Joe Hardy or Willie Mays Hayes there's a reason to hope for a run at the playoffs. But it seems like that's exactly what it will take. Management made big mistakes in the offseason. They extended Tracy, based on a, what, .235 BA as a pinch hitter; they held onto Bernadina and Lombardozzi past the sell-by date on their cartons and they went all in for defense on a streaky team that was doomed to go through stretches where guys with suddenly vermicelli bats were going to doom rallies before they got started. Compounding everything they've got a bunch of guys who've demolished their trade value and (A) there aren't any position players in the system likely to see the majors in three-four years and (B) they can't trade any more minor league pitchers while they're worrying about keeping Zimmermann and Strasburg under control.Rendon and Harper are going to have to come back next season as B. and Frank Robby or 2014 will be as mediocre as this year.

  34. SonnyG10 - Jun 30, 2013 at 1:31 AM

    Wow, a number 3 on our team, Ghost. I guess you would assume Gio slips to #4?

  35. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jun 30, 2013 at 1:32 AM

    People get mad on here if you mention the Orioles or imply that we lack the best players at every position in baseball, but I was just thinking the same thing.

  36. d'grviii 8 - Jun 30, 2013 at 1:44 AM

    "Chris Davis has hit two more homers this evening and 5 RBIs. He now has 30 Home runs and 79 RBIs. That is more offense than the entire Nationals team."Also, Ryan Zimmerman has 13 errors this year. The entire Orioles team has 26.

  37. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 30, 2013 at 1:47 AM

    SonnyG10 said… Wow, a number 3 on our team, Ghost. I guess you would assume Gio slips to #4? This team has 2 #1's right now in JZim and Stras and Gio is a solid #2. On this staff Detwiler should be a #2 but he has lacked consistency this year. Taylor Jordan should fit in right behind them. In comparison Haren is a mop-up guy.In a perfect world the Nats should have their 5 in-house starters for 2014 and a full bullpen and need to fix the bench with a top priority a 4th outfielder.

  38. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 30, 2013 at 1:48 AM

    I am not sure I would call it mediocrity. Average is the word given our record and that half the team (pitching) is performing well.

  39. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 30, 2013 at 2:02 AM

    Faraz Shaikh said… I am not sure I would call it mediocrity. Average is the word given our record and that half the team (pitching) is performing well. No way, this is an under-performing team offensively. They score runs at the bottom of the Majors and that's under-performing. Playing for the big innings just hasn't worked out like Davey has expected when you have a lead-off man who gets on base and stays on base near the bottom of all lead-off and a bench that is worse in the Majors.

  40. karlkolchak - Jun 30, 2013 at 2:15 AM

    Ghost Of Steve M. – Yep. You can't hit three run homers with no one on base. That's why even Harper had a puny 23 RBIs to go with his dozen dingers and Rendon only has 6 RBIs to go with his 35 hits.

  41. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 30, 2013 at 2:23 AM

    karlkolchak, which is why I keep saying back to back doubles is more effective than a strikeout followed by a solo HR.The fans like the submarine horn sounding but the reality is getting men on base and putting together several hits in an inning is what this team needs.

  42. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 30, 2013 at 2:26 AM

    Talking about 3 run HRs, Cliff Lee just served up one to Hanley Ramirez in the 1st inning that was a moon shot.

  43. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jun 30, 2013 at 2:43 AM

    The thing is, Span needs to save a helluva lot of runs in the outfield to make up for getting on base at such a low rate. People keep coming on here and saying that Morse cost us some huge amount of runs in the outfield last year because fangraphs says so. Strange that we managed we win 98 games. Do we really think that we would have won more games last year with Span hitting 0 homers and having an obp of .310?Every single homer that a guy hits is a definite run, and often more than one definite run. Span hits no homers so no definite runs there. Is he going to save 20 runs over the Harper/Morse tandem and what it can/could achieve via positioning with respect to each hitter and cheating over to protect Morse? We knew what Morse's stats were with respect to hitting and also Span's. Span's value on the bases is not that great because he doesn't steal and he doesn't get on that much, so he doesn't perturb pitchers. His runs aren't great so it is perplexing why people think he is a lead-off hitter.I hope it is not because he just seems like one, because I don't even know what that means. They need to drop him in the line-up until he starts getting on base at at least a .340 clip. We have just been wasting at bats.

  44. sjm308 - Jun 30, 2013 at 2:50 AM

    I have been talking about moving Span down to 8th in the lineup for several weeks now. With Harper up, we can go with Werth leading off or my choice of Rendon but Span just doesn't do it for me. Again, I am fine with Morse being somewhere else and I love what Span does in CF but I am not happy with him leading off. I have already made plans for Oct. so you guys can laugh later in the season but I will not be held hostage by a mediocre team.Hoping to win the series tomorrow!!Go Nats!!

  45. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jun 30, 2013 at 2:59 AM

    Here is a guy from a fantasy league discussing his pick of Span–http://mastersball.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=963&Itemid=81:Denard SpanWhat I expected: .280 AVG, 6 HR, 55 RBI, 85 R, 22 SBWhat he’s on pace for: .255 AVG, 0 HR, 39 RBI, 61 R, 18 SBSnagging Span for the bargain basement price of $5 was one of my best moves of the draft. Or, so I thought. Hitting atop a powerful Nationals’ lineup, the 29-year-old outfielder, still in the prime of his career, would enjoy his best season to date. He would score a boatload of runs, hit for a nice average and steal a decent number of bases. In fact, Span publicly stated back in spring training that he would make a conscious effort to run more. Well, stolen bases is about the only area where he’s coming close to meeting my expectations. I’m currently near the bottom of the league in runs scored, and Span’s utter lack of production in that department is hurting me big time. Washington’s offense on the whole is underperforming, and since runs is heavily tied to the players batting behind you, Span doesn’t deserve all the blame. But a leadoff hitter simply cannot have a .310 OBP. If Span continues to have such a tough time getting on base, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Nats move him out of their leadoff spot. What a mess!

  46. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 30, 2013 at 3:06 AM

    sjm, I think Davey and Rizzo will give Span a little more time at leadoff but you have to put Werth in there against LHPs.Span against Lefty starters is hitting like a pitcher .149/.182/.162/.344That just tells you that Davey needs to bench Span against LHP starters.It really tells me that the Nats need that 4th outfielder to be a RH batter who can play good defense. Also keep in mind that Harper hasn't exactly been hitting well against LHPs.

  47. DJB - Jun 30, 2013 at 3:11 AM

    Theophilus, I agree that Rizzo and Johnson have completely destroyed the present and future potential of this team with ill-conceived trades and unwise long-term signings. I honestly don't see a fix in the near future. We will need to rebuild and hope to re-sign Harper when the time comes. It looks like Harper, however, is in no rush to be back, which tells me a lot about what he is thinking. He sees the writing on the wall. I think the organization needs to set up a real front office. It can fire Rizzo or not, but his wheeling and dealing days must be stopped. He has not evaluated talent and depleted our farm system. Next, we need to unload the albatrosses around the organization's neck, the Zimm and Werth deals. Zimm is tradeable, if we eat the contract and give him to someone free. His trade value goes down every time he throws away a ball and is unable to display any more than gap power. It must be done fast. Both Zimm and Werth are of no use to the organization going forward. We need offense now!

  48. paul brandt - Jun 30, 2013 at 3:12 AM

    WODL, like your posts, don't always agree with them but you bring great insight…my only critique: stop with the 5 paragraph responses…i read your 1st paragraph but then skip to to the next post…less is more…not being mean…just a suggestion & one you can certainly ignore.

  49. sjm308 - Jun 30, 2013 at 3:13 AM

    It is way too early to complain of a broken heart, but I, like others I am sure are just not happy with what is happening. I could rant and rave like lots of others but will just keep a low profile and continue to hope for the best. I remember looking at posts from Rabbit way back in March and thinking, this guy is nuts but he is looking very very smart right now. We have very little offense and our defense is just bad.

  50. DJB - Jun 30, 2013 at 3:23 AM

    Also, I'm getting madder by the day with the decision to shut down Stras. If we are really just mediocre, and it appears that way, why didn't we grasp the opportunity when we had the chance? Makes no sense in hindsight, even though I bought the rationale at the time.

  51. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jun 30, 2013 at 3:27 AM

    I obviously am too caught up in this, but Rizzo is like the home do it yourself'er who does a bang-up job re-mortaring his chimney and then ruins the whole project obsessing over the one brick that doesn't match, and I have done it myself. 98 wins!–but he just can't stand how slow and clumsy his left fielder is. Maybe Moneyball was crap but it seemed to be entirely about finding guys like Morse who are undervalued because they play ball ugly. Instead Rizzo got rid of the ugly guy likely to be undervalued and went for the slick, good fielding center fielding, with the idea that such players are undervalued…. I cut my last paragraph from here and it was superfluous. I just need an editor.

  52. DJB - Jun 30, 2013 at 3:30 AM

    Rizzo reminds me of that chief of scouting Brad Pitt fired in Moneyball. No use of modern statistics to evaluate players. He really needs to go, or be stripped of authority.

  53. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jun 30, 2013 at 4:02 AM

    Yeah but I think here Rizzo got fooled by Span's defensive w.a.r. and ultimate zone rating and comparing those to Morse's. You can't really compare left fielders and center fielders that way.

  54. Raphael Talisman - Jun 30, 2013 at 4:33 AM

    I am bummed just like everyone else on this board. But this is baseball, people get hurt, chemistry changes, and we're 500 after half the season. We have 81 or so more games. Rizzo has done an above average job, just wait and see.

  55. Drew - Jun 30, 2013 at 5:04 AM

    To quote a loquacious former president: "The headlines are bad, but the trend lines are good."Look at the big picture, folks. The Edwin Jackson-Dan Haren-Chris Young-Please God, Somebody interregnum is almost over.Promising home-grown pitchers are progressing all around us: Karns, Jordan, Robbie Ray, A.J. Cole, Matt Purke. Jake Johansen is signed and learning at Auburn. Next spring Giolito will be back in the ladder, ready to begin his ascent. Maybe Sammy Solis will make it back. Maybe Taylor Hill or Blake Schwartz or Mooneyham is another diamond in the rough.The point is that next winter the Nats won't need to shell out another $13 million per for a bad fifth starter. They will have multiple intriguing options in house.The Nats can hang save millions that can go toward extensions for J. Znn or Desi.Don't worry, be happy.

  56. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jun 30, 2013 at 6:31 AM

    So you are saying don't go to any more games this year…..

  57. Drew - Jun 30, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    I said nothing of the kind, WODL.We all hope the Nats will make a second half run. I just think DJB's sentiment that Rizzo and Davey have destroyed the team's future is way overstated.

  58. sjm308 - Jun 30, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    WODL – plenty more games for me as well. I am upset with our play but not the game and will continue to root for our lads to improve.

  59. d'grviii 8 - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    Best reason for going to the games is that internet is spotty there, making it easier to avoid annoying posts by William Overbearing Douglas Loeffler.

  60. natsfan1a - Jun 30, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Yuck. Felt bad for the kid what with the sloppy defense behind him. But today is another game, and I'll be watching.

  61. Secret wasian man - Jun 30, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    D grvill. When did you show up. At least William is loyal here. Lay off the guy.

  62. Another_Sam - Jun 30, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    Harper's joining the clup ignited 'em last year, and perhaps it can happen again this year.IMHO, the shaky spots in the rotation are overshadowed by the woeful hitting, defense, and baserunning. [Base coaching, I guess I mean. I still think Jewett doesn't get it. That's just me.]But all this — my occasional negativity and that of others — doesn't diminsh my enjoyment of the games, and my anticipation of the next game. Play ball. Please.

  63. mick - Jun 30, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    d'grviii 8 I wills second what Wasian Man said…William is a good man and has very good posts and insights…lay off him!

  64. mick - Jun 30, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    Nats have to start hitting the g-damn ball!!!!

  65. jeffwx - Jun 30, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    So what's the difference between the Braves and Nats. Braves are hitting the Dbacks pretty well, and their offensive numbers are much better than our. Pitching stats are even.Why is their offense so much better ?Freddie Freeman, better outfield hitters, better bench (Shaffer, Gattis when he was healthy) ?Harper and Ramos do bring us closer but bench still suffers.So it may be we are one 4th outfielder away as many have said

  66. jeffwx - Jun 30, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    WODL has been making good points about Span all year that I've refused to listen to until today

  67. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jun 30, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Thanks. The thing about Rizzo is that it is hard to say directly that he had a good job or a bad job. Things are mixed and nobody expects every deal to turn out. Sometimes a team seems to just have things fall in their laps, like the O's this year. Who saw such an offensive explosion coming?I am genuinely fascinated by the decision process facing any GM who had the Nats as his charges after last October. With the possible exception of LaRoche, whom I hoped to see re-signed, would many here deny that we would be better now if we had simply stayed pat by signing all of our affordable pitchers, Lannan, Gorzelanny and Burnett, forgoing Soriano–he's been good but we lost a pick–and keeping Morse.People debate Haren and say it was a reasonable risk. Ehh, I don't think so and once in, they felt obligated to keep throwing him out there far too long.The Span thing fascinates me because he had a huge blip up in defensive w.a.r. last year after several years in the league. Why would that happen? Unlike homers and hits, fielding is mostly subjective but once you lump that figure into overall w.ar. now you have Span as one of the top ten AL players in terms of w.a.r. Maybe he was back in 2009, but of course, that year they thought his defense was worth much less over a replacement player. This year even though he looks good in the outfield, his defensive w.a.r. is way down from last year.Could it be that all of this defensive w.a.r. stuff is garbage?With respect to Span's hitting, things are seriously down. He is obviously not getting on base but things are not that simple. His double and triples are up, but his homers and singles are way down, as are his walks. He is a singles hitter, more or less, who is deriving most of his value by getting doubles and triples. We just need him to get on base. He had one phenomenal year stealing bases, in 2010, getting 26 out of 30, but it has been mundane in his other years, almost seventy percent or so, but with not many attempted.One thing that does jump out is that in 2009 he was among the league litters in the hit by pitch category. He has been hit once this year and then zero times the prior two times. That seems to indicate that he has changed his approach. He is also walking far fewer times now than earlier in his career and what once seemed to be at least home run power that had to be respected has dwindled to the point where he is unlikely to match his previous career lows in homers of 2 and 3. Has he lost his nerve at the plate?It is difficult to find anyone among the "experts" who thought that acquiring Span was a bad deal, so it is hard to criticize Rizzo for the acquisition necessarily, as opposed to the implementation. We lost a decent prospect and aren't locked in for a ton of years, but many of us may not care too much about that because we thought that this was our year.What do you do now? Most on here seem to think that we should just go down with the ship and keep sending Span out to lead-off. I guess he is one of those guys who seems better out there than he is. Regardless, the Nats will not be in the play-offs with a lead-off hitter with an .obp of .310. It is not going to happen so some decisions are going to have to be made and soon, because what we are seeing from Mr. Span seems to be who he is.

  68. mick - Jun 30, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    William…excellent post…so here is an obvious question…why won't Nats move either Harper or Desi to lead off?

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