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Instant analysis: Cardinals 4, Nats 1

Sep 25, 2013, 4:14 PM EDT

Associated Press Associated Press

Game in a nutshell: The Nationals have been wanting to get a crack at the Cardinals since the moment they blew Game 5 of the NLDS, but they’ll have to wait another season to seek their revenge. After getting swept by St. Louis at Nationals Park in April, they got swept at Busch Stadium in the final week of September. Jordan Zimmermann, trying to become the NL’s only 20-game winner, was done in once against by the same Cardinals lineup that has befuddled him his entire career. And the Nats lineup couldn’t get anything going against rookie right-hander Shelby Miller. Not the kind of way the Nationals wanted to close out this season. They’ll head to Arizona for their final three games.

Hitting lowlight: The Nationals lineup had become quite productive over the last six weeks, but we probably have to point out that much of the damage came against less-than-dominant pitching. Over the last three days, the Nats did have to face dominant pitching, and they were completely silenced. They scored four total runs in the series, came within inches of bein no-hit Tuesday night and put up very little fight today against rookie Shelby Miller and Co. Bryce Harper’s RBI single in the top of the first proved the only clutch hit of the afternoon against Miller, who scattered four hits over 6-plus innings before handing things over to the Cardinals bullpen. The Nationals hardly threatened late, going down quietly to wrap up a miserable series at Busch Stadium.

Pitching lowlight: What is it about the Cardinals that so baffles Zimmermann? Obviously, they’ve got a lineup full of experienced and pesky hitters, but this franchise owns the right-hander like no other. Zimmermann has now made seven career starts against St. Louis (including Game 2 of the NLDS) and he has yet to beat them. He’s now 0-4 with an 8.83 ERA. This one particularly stung because Zimmermann was seeking his 20th win, the first time he would have reached that milestone in his career. This one loss, though, shouldn’t diminish a fantastic season for the 27-year-old. Zimmermann finishes 2013 with a 19-9 record, 3.25 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 32 starts. Not bad at all.

Key stat: The Nationals scored eight total runs in six games against the Cardinals this year.

Up next: After taking Thursday off in Arizona, the Nationals open their final series of the season at 9:40 p.m. EDT Friday. Stephen Strasburg will try to finish his year on a high note, facing Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin.

  1. David Proctor - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    Well that sucked.

    • natsfan1a - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:26 PM

      Yes. Yes, it did.

  2. roosevelt666hawkins - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    The Nationals, at their best, are a very good baseball team.
    Just not a great one.
    Solidly in the second tier of the National League, in the company
    of the Pirates and the Reds (save for the fact that they, not we,
    are in the playoffs.

    We are not a first tier club.
    Not competitive with teams like St. Louis, Atlanta or L.A.
    We lose, and will consistently continue to lose, 75% (or so) of games played
    against these teams.
    For a reason:
    They each have better personel throughout their rosters.

    It’s not just the Nats’ 2013 bullpen, or bench, or first-half defense,
    or inconsistent performances (at one time or another) from all starting pitchers.
    It’s also the regulars/position players who don’t do what the players
    on the good teams do; which is hit safely with men on base,
    or at least put the ball in play to advance runners.
    Individual batting statistics are unhelpful on a club with a poor batting
    average with RISP (compare and contrast: Cardinals v. Nats, e.g.)

    Can/will a new manager effect a change ?
    Perhaps.
    But perhaps also our cherished starters (infield, outfield, backstop, pitchers)
    are simply not good enough; not the stuff of a championship team.

    The off-season evaluations must be candid and thorough.
    No icon should be safe; no fan-favorite unexamined.
    There is no player on the Nationals’ 40-man roster who is not
    expendable if the team can benefit from the change.

    Roosevelt Hawkins
    Washington, D.C.

    • naterialguy - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:27 PM

      and just who on earth are you Roosevelt? What makes you so smart? Last I saw your ancestors couldn’t buy a victory at the presidents race. And basically you are one of the top contenders all of a sudden in 2013? Do the letters P-E-D mean anything to you???
      uh huh, I thought so.
      If your going to post such blatant blasphemy on these hollowed boards I demand you first pee in the cup.
      Then, and only then will i begin to consider your unfounded ludicrous statement a remotely worthwhile read

      • NatsLady - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        I don’t see anything wrong with what he said, I was pretty much thinking the same myself. We expected Harper and Stras to develop into mega-stars. Neither has–yet.

        Our only 5 WAR player is Ian Desmond, and he made 20 errors–and without the excuse of RZimm’s shoulder.

        As far as I can see, we have NO major-league depth in the minors now that Rendon is here, unless you count Danny (which I actually do). Nothing that I have see of Kobernus, Perez and Brown have made me think they are ML “regular/backups” who can play if there are injuries. Zach Walters and Tyler Moore?

        As Rizzo said, the front end of the BP (other than Stammen) is questionable. We have no reliable 4-5 starter. RIzzo will be busy this winter, and he should be.

      • JamesFan - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:23 PM

        Roosevelt speaks the truth and we need to face it.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 25, 2013 at 8:22 PM

        Go home, N-guy, you’re drunk.

    • Candide - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:02 PM

      It’s also the regulars/position players who don’t do what the players
      on the good teams do; which is hit safely with men on base,
      or at least put the ball in play to advance runners.

      This.

      Molina had 2nd and 3rd and FP said, after his first swing, “When he sees runs on base, he’s looking to hit the ball the other way; that’s what he always does.” (Or words to that effect.)

      And sure enough, next pitch he singles both runners in.

      All too often, our batters see runners on base and think, “Three- run homer!” And leave them stranded. I’m really getting sick of seeing that.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:21 PM

        Check this out

        StLouis is doing something with runners in scoring position that has not been done before, at least since 2002 season. Their wRC+ is more than 20 points higher than the next team. they are basically having a historic season I believe in that regard.

      • Candide - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:50 PM

        Faraz – that’s not surprising. They’ve scored 64 more runs over the season than the Tigers, who are next.

        What puzzles me is how it doesn’t seem to show up in the stats. Looking at the Cards’ overall stats compared to the Nats, they don’t seem that much more impressive. And yet…

        Big difference is that the Cards have about 160 more plate appearances this season. Figuring roughly 38 plate appearances per game, average, the Cards have sent the equivalent of four more games worth of batters to the plate than the Nats have. About 100 of those plate appearances are accounted for by the 17-point edge the Cards have in BA over the Nats.

        The other 60?

  3. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Sorry Jordan couldnt get that 20th….

    • NatsLady - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:27 PM

      Yeah, other than that I didn’t really care about this game. I’d like to see the kids in for the Arizona series, it doesn’t affect any result for either team, there is no “pride” involved. Let Bryce hit a couple of HRs, he looks like he has a little energy left. Just about everyone else is really draggin’ I think they played the last two weeks on adrenaline and fumes.

  4. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    Cardinals also scored only 19 runs in six games against us, for an average of 3.17 per game. Only two other teams, ATL (2.86 in 7 games) and TEX (2.33 in 3 games), held STL hitters to less average runs per game.

    • texnat1 - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:32 PM

      Yes. Another illustration that the first order of business for the Nats this off season is to improve the offense. They should pull out all of the stops to upgrade either Laroche or Span (or both).

      • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:34 PM

        Span has been pretty productive lately.

      • texnat1 - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:35 PM

        Yes. Span is fine in and of himself. But he is not a plus hitter and the Nats need another one. I bring him up because he is easy to move, not because he is a problem himself.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:43 PM

        You are saying that he does not fit Nationals’ needs? I still think he does. having him, prompted nats to move Werth out of leadoff role and he has produced better than anyone else on this team. I worry about rendon more than span. This guy was supposed to be a better hitter than harper, wasn’t he? I worry about his production.

      • Candide - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:04 PM

        texnat1 – Sep 25, 2013 at 4:35 PM

        Yes. Span is fine in and of himself. But he is not a plus hitter and the Nats need another one.

        No, the Nats need someone who will advance Span into scoring position or bring him home from scoring position. Instead of guys trying to win the game with one swing in the first inning.

      • texnat1 - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:11 PM

        I am saying the Nats can’t trot out the same lineup next year without expecting the same inconsistent and ultimately not-good-enough results. So they need to upgrade. Span is an easy place to do that because he is cheap and a solid player. If you want to try to find another place to do that, have at it.

        Rendon was supposed to be a better hitter for average than Harper, perhaps, but not a better hitter period. I’m not sure why you would be more worried about him than Span, to be honest. It is telling that even after his recent hot streak, Span still has an OPS below Rendon’s. And Rendon is a rookie.

        Rendon needs to take a step forward next year and appears to need to get stronger. I do agree with that.

      • texnat1 - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:13 PM

        Candide,

        And who is that new guy going to replace if he doesn’t replace Span? 7/9 of the line up is locked in and Laroche is unmovable.

        Do you want to trade Desmond? He is certainly the player that most fits your description.

      • JamesFan - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:26 PM

        Span? Nothing wrong there. Top notch player. It is the middle of the line up that fails to deliver except against weak teams.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:26 PM

        honestly I would consider ALR for Tracy’s role this season. Ok maybe not such a drastic change but we have to get creative with 1B.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:29 PM

        And yes, sign the best hitting coach possible. That’s a must.

      • Candide - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:32 PM

        And who is that new guy going to replace if he doesn’t replace Span? 7/9 of the line up is locked in and Laroche is unmovable.

        And 7/9 of the lineup needs to learn a little bit about situational hitting. Because they sure don’t know much about it right now.

        Yes, Desmond does most fit the description. I consider him a disappointment. Because he has the raw talent to be an even better hitter than he is today, but wastes it on trying to hit a 3-run bases empty home run (or something similar) every trip to the plate. Learn to spoil borderline 2-strike pitches by fouling them off until the pitcher comes in with you fastball down the middle. Ask Werth how it’s done.

        I don’t consider LaRoche unmovable, unless you mean while running the bases; I think I could run faster than him with a bushel sack of potatoes on my back. He might be difficult to trade, but he could certainly be put into a platoon role with Tyler Moore. He’s another one who drives me nuts. Monday night, he had a 3-0 count with runners on 1st and 2nd and everyone in the broadcast booth was saying Wainwright was going to keep his pitches low, maybe in the dirt, to try to get a DP. Everyone knew it. My cat knew it. Next pitch is down below the knees, and LaRoche swings and bounces into the prettiest double play you ever saw. On 3-0.

        Don’t know if Rick Schu is making that much of a difference or if the Nats recent success comes from beating up on the NL East’s versions of Little Sisters of the Poor. They certainly haven’t looked too imposing the last three days.

      • texnat1 - Sep 25, 2013 at 6:10 PM

        JamesFan,

        Span is a solid player, but he is certainly not top notch. He has an OPS barely over 700.

        Candide/Faraz,

        I would love to get rid of Laroche, but he has been so dang bad its going to be hard to move him. And will the Nats really pay someone $14 million to sit on the bench?

        Span is by far the more movable. You would actually get a good return. And if you move him, you can go out and get either a center fielder or a corner outfielder (moving Bryce to center) to beef up the production from the outfield.

        Or, because he is only $6.5 million, and is good defensively, he could become an excellent 4th outfielder.

        Candide, if you could get enough in return, I would not be totally opposed to trading Desmond as crazy as that sounds. His all or nothing approach is a microcosm of the Nats problems as a whole this season. And he is going to cost an unbelievable amount to sign long term (thanks in part to what the Rangers gave Andrus).

        He is still a very good player though. So I’d rather the Nats upgrade the lineup elsewhere.

  5. Section 222 - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Fortunately, as we all know, whether Jordan had 20 wins, 19, or 9 doesn’t matter one bit. He had a fantastic season and is our de facto ace. If and when he signs a long term deal, his number of wins this year should be a non-issue.

  6. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Well, an early run with two runners still on base and only one out, then nothing. I’ve seen this movie before. Too many times. Even if Jordan Zimmermann had only given up two runs, the Cardinals still win. I love good pitching and good defense, but it takes some sort of offense to be a playoff team.

  7. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    We may still need some pitching upgrade, given detwiler’s health. I am not ready to hand over two rotation spots to RD, Taylor, and Roark. I would prefer if they sign another pitcher to be our fourth starter. I also wonder whether RD should be either made into a reliever due to his health issues and stamina or packaged for a hitter. I have lost some faith in his success earlier this season and last season.

    • NatsLady - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:18 PM

      I am SO with you on Detwiler. IF the next manager has the same type of bullpen philosophy as Davey, then let Det go to the bullpen for long-relief, spot starting. A left handed, fireballing reliever??? That is a great commodity.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:30 PM

        exactly. hopefully this can get us one of those relievers that throw mid-90s fastballs.

  8. Whynat - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Got to agree with Mr. Roosevelt. The Nats are their baseball card, so to speak. A slightly above average team, nothing more. The Nats played 51 games this year against playoff bound teams (I’ve included Cleveland). Their record in those games is 17-34. That is not good.

  9. David Proctor - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    And last year, with mostly the same cast of characters, the Nationals had a good record against those teams. We won the series against the Reds, we blew out the Giants, we beat the Cardinals, etc. etc. Same guys. So to say that our guys at their best aren’t good enough doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s unnecessarily pessimistic and not based on evidence. Our guys didn’t perform well enough this year, but they’ve shown they CAN perform well enough.

    • David Proctor - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:55 PM

      I’d also add that one-run games are extremely fickle things. We lost a disproportionate amount of them this year against teams like the Braves. That fluctuates wildly from year to year. Last year, the Orioles had the best record in 1 run games, this year they had the worst. All of those one run games we lost this year we could easily win next year with some improvements on the periphery.

      • NatsLady - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:02 PM

        I don’t object to the cast of characters, BUT, there is no margin for error/bad luck/bad timing/under performance. What you saw from the teams that are going to the playoffs is they had DEPTH and they had BENCH.

        One guy didn’t perform/got injured, they found adequate replacements, some replacements even better than the original. Other than Rendon and the pitchers (and there was a fair amount of trial-and-error with the pitchers), we were not able to do that. Until Werth, Ramos, Harper and RZ got over their injuries, we were helpless.

      • David Proctor - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:07 PM

        I absolutely agree with this. We lacked depth and it hurt us badly. The Braves had Gattis, the Cardinals Matt Adams, etc. etc. That can be fixed though. I object to the people on here acting like the future is dreary because we got beat.

    • Whynat - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      Agree that at their best they are good enough. However, at their mean, they are not good enough. It was actually kind of sobering that they were dominated by every single good team they played, all season. The only ‘good’ team they had a winning record against was CIN, and that was 4/3.

      • NatsLady - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        I don’t think the future is “dreary.” There is a lot of good on this team. And there was some bad luck, actually a lot of bad luck. But face it, Atlanta came out with a mission–namely, to win the DIvision and not the Wild Card because of what happened last year. (McCann reiterated that recently). The Nats had no “mission”–they expected that by playing their game they would make it to the playoffs… Their “lesson” was when we get to the playoffs we won’t make the same mistakes…

        Mike Rizzo said on the radio this season should make the players, who have had a TASTE of the post-season, pull together to get there again in 2014. I hope he gets the right manager, because when you see a guy like Francona, you realize the manager does make a difference.

    • naterialguy - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      totally agree.

    • Hiram Hover - Sep 25, 2013 at 6:00 PM

      I get your point, but there’s a big caveat about at least one of the members of that “same cast of characters.”

      It’s true that both the 2012 and 2013 cast had a guy named “Adam LaRoche” at first base, and to look at them, you’d think they’re the same guy. But then you look at the stats,and you think something different.

      Which ALR will show up in 2014? My guess is there will be some improvement over 2013, but the ALR of 2012 is long gone and never to return. And that’s a problem when we’re talking about a position that should provide some of the highest offensive #s on the team.

      • David Proctor - Sep 25, 2013 at 6:04 PM

        If LaRoche is back in 2014 (and I don’t think that’s a sure thing) I would put money on him being significantly better than 2013 but not as good as 2012. I’m thinking .265/25 HR/80 RBI.

      • Hiram Hover - Sep 25, 2013 at 6:21 PM

        Those are essentially the numbers he put up every year from 2005-2010, which on the one hand was impressive in its consistency, but on the other hand, seems unrealistic to expect him to match given his age.

        We shall see.

  10. JamesFan - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    Time to face reality. The Nats do not appear to be on the same level as StL, Atl, LAD, Pit, Cinn. They win against the lowly NLE and weak teams, but do not measure up against the good teams. I would like for someone to run the numbers for our hitters against the five teams above to see who is best and who is worst of the regulars against these teams.

    Sure they are tough, but that is the standard. If the Nats cannot play at their level, they need to make some changes or stop all this hype.

    “World Series or Bust” and “revenge against the Cards,” looks pretty stupid right now.

    • David Proctor - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:05 PM

      Like I said above, we beat all or most of those teams last year. Mostly the same group of guys. 2013 is no more indicative of how 2014 will go than 2012 was indicative of how 2013 went. There need to be changes, but the core group of guys are just fine.

  11. naterialguy - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    This is a good team. It is good enough to win it all. It didn’t happen this year. That’s baseball.

    But everyone jumping on the “this team is not good enough to beat anyone of significance unless we make major changes” boat, are just either having a knee jerk reaction or enjoy looking at a glass half empty.

    On a positive note, with this game today we don’t have to watch them lose tonight!

  12. NatsLady - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    And LaRoche NEVER got over his illness/injury, and we either didn’t have an adequate replacement or Davey wouldn’t use him. Only two (TWO) of our regulars were in good health all season, Desi and Span. And Span was fatigued for a month before the All-Star Break, AND he was adjusting to a different league, and VERY different coaching demands.

    With regard to Span. I would not be surprised to see him develop more power if he aims for it in his off-season training program.

    • David Proctor - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:14 PM

      I hope he doesn’t aim for it. The last thing I want to see is a bunch of pop flies to right field–him trying to knock it out of the park. His approach is best when he’s spraying singles and doubles all over the field like when he did it during the hit streak. He’ll run into a few home runs.

      • NatsLady - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:22 PM

        It will depend on the next manager and his philosophy. I’m very tired of Davey on that score, and THEN, just when you think he knows better, he has Span sac-bunt when we need two runs, not ONE. (Monday’s game).

  13. David Proctor - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    Why not let JZimm pitch on Sunday? It’ll be one day short rest, but we have nothing to lose. Last year, the Mets moved Dickey around to get him an extra start. I think he could probably do it and get another shot at his 20th win.

  14. Baseballswami - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Already tired of seeing crawls and screen shots that say” Znn fails to win 29 th”. Oh, sure- 4 runs is really getting shelled. Especially when your team scores four in three games and only one in this game. Best hitting team in baseball . Oh, yeah- he really failed. That team is really in his head. Really. Oh, come on. Our inept offense rears its ugly head again. JZ had a super season. Hate to see today portrayed as a failure by him. What? No complete game shutout this time? How dare he?

  15. snerdblurter - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    I think the bottom line is that this was not a mentally strong team. They obviously got inside their own heads and didn’t perform well in big situations or against quality teams. Last year’s team was loose and playing with house money, this year’s team was weighed down by great expectations and was crippled by the pressure.

    How many times throughout the first 3 months did they put together a couple of strong games to pick up some momentum and then get smoked by the Marlins or Mets the following day? How many times did they post a couple of runs in the first inning and then not register another hit for the rest of the game. Hell, I dont think we had a hit against the Braves bullpen before September. And how telling was Storen’s inability to handle the fact that Rizzo brought Soriano in? Agree or disagree with signing Soriano, act like professional ball players and do your jobs.

    Injuries will provide a convenient excuse, but they may be masking a fatal flaw. I just hope whoever replaces Davey can right the ship mentally and get the best out of what is clearly a highly talented group of guys. And I’m not sure Knorr’s the guy who can do it.

    • JamesFan - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:34 PM

      I totally agree with you that this not a mentally tough team. They looked scared last year in the playoffs and the folded when confronted with tough teams this year. I think the talent is mostly there, but something is missing psychologically. Maybe the new manager can fix that. It just seems like the Nats can’t handle the pressure anymore.

  16. NatsLady - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    I don’t agree. I think the Nats are exactly on the level of Pitt, Cin, Arizona, Cleveland, and that level of team–but not the Red Sox, ATL or LAD, Tigers–THIS YEAR. The second tier simply had baseball things “fall” their way, and that’s the difference.

    When Pitt looked good, their GM made some moves. Those were moves the Nats could have made if Rizzo could have seen our late run, but who could have, given how the Nats played until August 10?

  17. secretwasianman - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    If the Nats return this lineup next year the same results can be expected. ALR was pitiful this year. HE MUST GO

    • David Proctor - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:33 PM

      Well we returned pretty much the same lineup as last year and didn’t get the same results. It’s almost like baseball doesn’t work that way. :)

      • texnat1 - Sep 25, 2013 at 6:35 PM

        Nats traded Morse’s 2012 offensive production for Span’s. That’s not an even trade.

        Yes there are obviously changes from year to year. But on the whole its pretty reasonable to suggest that if you trot out this same lineup next year, you will get pretty similar results. Which, from an offensive perspective, are not good enough to win a championship–at least without absolutely elite pitching.

        This team is close enough to being there they should take the next step and secure another bat for the starting line up.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 25, 2013 at 6:43 PM

        texnat1- It’s hard to prove a counter-factual, but you’ve got to acknowledge that Denard Span’s 2013 offensive production (particularly when combined with his defensive prowess) far exceeded Michael Morse’s 2013 combined contributions to the two teams on which he played.

      • texnat1 - Sep 25, 2013 at 8:19 PM

        No doubt, Eugene. But I’m not trying to litigate that decision.

        My point is that the offense got worse on paper when you take out 2012 Morse and put in Span. Thus it is not surprising that the offense got worse in real life as well.

  18. David Proctor - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Adam Kilgore ‏@AdamKilgoreWP 12m
    Both Werth and Span said they think Jordan Zimmermann’s is the Nats’ best pitcher. Not a slight to Strasburg. Maybe a challenge.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 25, 2013 at 7:49 PM

      no-hitter by SS next game.

  19. NatsLady - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    I don’t think this team was “crippled” by great expectations or the pressure. I think what happened is that EVERY other team brought their A-game during the first part of the year–especially Atlanta, which is exactly what didn’t happen last year. Last year the Nats were just another team until August. I remember podcasts in JUNE, JUNE, that talked about all five teams in the NL East still being in it. Teams know they can’t play full out every game, and with the Nats, they didn’t, last year.

    This year, the Nats were the team to knock over. A pitcher who could maybe throw one good game a month, threw it against the Nats. No one cared about the Dodgers, they were a last-place team–until they weren’t. That’s what I think the Nats weren’t “mentally” prepared for. If you want to call that pressure, fine, but it was pressure applied by other teams.

    • snerdblurter - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:55 PM

      “Crippled” may have been a little melodramatic on my part, but attributing the Nats failings to other teams bringing their A-game discounts how many times the Nats beat themselves or blew opportunities to win big games by hitting with RISP or having a strong BP.

      Call it pressure, adversity, or whatever you want, when the going got tough, the Nats did not get going. It was only when they were so far back in mid-August that the pressure eased up on them and they finally starting playing some ball. That’s mental weakness to me.

      • NatsLady - Sep 25, 2013 at 6:03 PM

        I think it’s more HEALTH than mental weakness. Ramos–finally healthy, playing every day. And, most ESPECIALLY, Ryan Zimmerman healthy, offense and power to where it should be and not making errors every other game. Werth and Desi, healthy enough.

      • JamesFan - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        Every team has major injuries. I’m not buying the injury excuse. You have to have depth. Right now we have not at starter, catcher or the pen.

  20. David Proctor - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    This will be a learning experience for these guys, but I don’t buy into all the faux-psychology. They didn’t win because the team had holes. It’s really that simple. I don’t buy that it’s mental weakness or any of that.

    • texnat1 - Sep 25, 2013 at 6:42 PM

      Agree that the problem is not mental.

    • AlexandriaNatFan - Sep 26, 2013 at 12:14 AM

      Agree with Proctor on this point – none of this “Nats can’t handle the (psychological) pressure” business. Baseball is a LOOOONG-term game. Anyone who’s played knows that. One season does not define a team. Two or three seasons don’t define a team. Also to quote Proctor: “2013 is no more indicative of how 2014 will go than 2012 was indicative of how 2013 went.” It would be like saying, after last year, that the team can handle ANYTHING thrown at it. It will take time. Time for Stras, Harp and Rendon to mature. Maybe even a few years. Even phenoms are human. Their job is to train and play the game. Ours is to cheer and support (and yes, I agree that “support” does not always mean being positive…constructive criticism can be very helpful).

      All that said, I do not think Espinosa reflect “depth” in our minor league system. He can play ball, no doubt…we’ve seen it. Problem is he’s just not doing it now…or this entire year. Maybe another time – just not now.

  21. letswin3 - Sep 25, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    Sure am glad that our GM stuck to his guns in giving ALR only 2 years, instead of the 3 he wanted. Can you imagine trying to dump an aging first baseman that hit something like 236 with 2 years remaining of a $13-14 million contract? We may have to pay part of his paycheck just to get someone to take a chance that he is going to turn his numbers around and agree to a trade. It really doesn’t matter how much it costs us, because we can’t afford to include him in the 25 that must see us through in ’14. Give the position to Moore, sign a free agent, trade for someone that can hit 280and deliver 25 homers or move Zim across the diamond…..just don’t show up in Washington next April with Adam on the payroll (not even as a bench or platoon player). We have a few other questions to answer, but first base is the single most important issue for this offseason. Well, maybe the manager decision is more important, but I’m way out of my league with those kinds of positions……I just want a guy that will yell once in awhile and administer “the hook” to a guy when it’s needed,.

    • AlexandriaNatFan - Sep 26, 2013 at 12:20 AM

      ALR is no doubt an important question, but more significant in my mind is that we need two strong and consistent lefties in our pen again. Cedeno has shown good stuff but we are missing Gorzo and Burnett something fierce. Not sure how we lost them, but kept HRod and some guy who punches lockers.

  22. rogieshan - Sep 25, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    I believe LaRoche will hit again next year because his option in ’15 is not guaranteed ($2 mil buyout). He will effectively be playing for his next contract, always a strong motivator.

  23. Joe Seamhead - Sep 25, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    TradeSpan/ or move him to #4 outfielder. Start Tyler Moore/bench ALR. Bring back Morse. Move Detwiler to the pen. Finish fourth.

    • Joe Seamhead - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:04 PM

      Folks, Ryan Zimmerman was hurt for 3/4 of the season, and there is every reason to believe that he will be back to Silver Slugger hitting, and great, if not a Gold Glove level defense next year. Wilson Ramos is a stud All-star caliber level catcher that was hurt this year. Look at the record when he played.Jayson Worth is still in incredible condition, but was injured early and yet still had a great year. Bryce Harper? If you know anything, anything at all about baseball, you know that this is a once in a generation ballplayer that got hurt trying too hard. Denard Span? This guy played flawless centerfield, while growing into his own skin as the leadoff hitter this team has always needed and never had. Ian Desmond? Oh come now. His leadership and offense were enviable throughout the league. Put it all in perspective. The Nats are a team with a solid foundation, that had some serious misfortune in 2013, but wholesale major changes are not the answer, in my opinion. Dan Haren was supposed to be a plus .500 pitcher. Didn’t happen, good guy, but they need a measurable improvement there. We need a ML level loogy,and there are a couple of up and coming guys in the minors ready to show their worth in the bullpen.The bench? Lombo was very solid, but Chad Tracy was the weakest link, and must be improved upon. 1B is a major question mark, but I disagree with many here that think that Tyler Moore is the answer. We’ll see. Personally, I don’t believe ALR’s meds for AADD cause you to lose weight, but I do think he seems to be exhibiting symptoms of Lyme’s disease, and wonder if he has been effectively tested for it. I still have the mantra of “In Rizzo We Trust.”

      • Sonny G 10 - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:52 PM

        +1

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 25, 2013 at 11:34 PM

        ADD meds abso-blooming-lutely can cause a person to lose weight.

    • djbinfl - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:46 PM

      +1

      • naterialguy - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:45 PM

        +1

      • Joe Seamhead - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:03 AM

        I stand corrected on the Ritalin weight loss possibility.

    • JamesFan - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:05 PM

      I don’t get the toughness on Span. He hit .280 and played spectacular centerfield. Harper is not even close to Span as an outfielder. Do no one remember the woeful centerfielders the Nats had in the past? I do not know what people expect from Span. He is a fine leadoff hitter. The problem the Nats had this year was the center of the order not the top. Harper drove in 60 runs. The shortstop is not usually the leader in RBI.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 57 47 --
ATLANTA 58 49 0.5
MIAMI 53 53 5.0
NEW YORK 51 56 7.5
PHILADELPHIA 47 60 11.5
Through Tuesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 p.m.
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m. TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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