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Werth still wonders ‘what if’ about Nats in 2013

Jan 31, 2014, 2:33 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today AP

Before the Nationals were eliminated from playoff contention on Sept. 23 of last season, they nearly completed an incredible comeback to secure a wild card spot. From Aug. 9 to Sept. 22 they went 29-12 and along the way closed the gap to a playoff berth to five games. The late season surge, however, was a little too late.

Given how hot the Nationals were in September – they won 18 games during the month – one could argue they were one of the best teams in baseball at the time. Their 2012 season suggested they were no fluke, they just arrived too late to the party.

Jayson Werth still can’t help but wonder ‘what if,’ given how well the Nationals were playing late in the year. Last weekend he looked back on 2013, and even after several months, still believes the Nats could have made some noise in the playoffs.

“We were too far back coming down the stretch. I always knew we were going to make a run, that we had good ball in us, it just took us too long to get there,” he said.

“But all in all, you look at the way we played coming down the stretch, if we get in the postseason – which we only missed by a couple of games even as bad as we played in the first half – if we get in, we were the best team in baseball at the time. I think it was ours to lose, really.”

The Nationals sat at home and watched the Boston Red Sox capture the 2013 World Series, a run that no one predicted before the season began. It was as wide open a playoff bracket as any in recent years, so who is to say the Nationals wouldn’t have had a chance?

Not having that opportunity, not even being there is something Werth has thought a lot about this winter. It gave him a strong reminder how important the entire regular season really is. The Nationals stumbled out of the gate and just couldn’t catch up in the end.

The Nats did finish the year with a 38-29 record in the second half, a pace that would have qualified them for the playoffs. Werth understands that and thinks it bodes well for 2014.

“If you look at last year, the way we played down the stretch, if we played like that all year it’s a done deal,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to [2014]. I have no expectations, nothing negative, I’m looking forward to a new season.”

The Werth and Matt Williams get-together 

Shortly after Matt Williams was introduced as the Nationals’ new manager on Nov. 1, he and his family met with Jayson Werth at the veteran’s home in Virginia.

“He just happened to be in the neighborhood, so I just said, ‘you want to stop by?. I’m going to be right by where you’re going to be, so you’re more than welcome.’ He had about 15 minutes so he stopped.”

Werth described the meeting as very casual.

“It went well. We’re just getting to know each other. We just talked about the team a little bit and expectations. Just normal stuff, we didn’t sign any treaties or anything.”

Werth, who began training for the new year on Dec. 1, says he started baseball activities in recent days. He’s already geared up for 2014 and hopes the first season under Williams will be a success.

“Hopefully we’re going to be together for a long time,” he said.

  1. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 31, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    corey brown is a free agent now.

  2. NatsLady - Jan 31, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    Arbitration hearings start tomorrow (Feb 1). Do we know anything on Fister and Clip?

  3. Doc - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    Maybe Corey should be checking out Japan. If Tony Plush can hit 17 dingers there, Brown would be in for a career year!!!!

    • alexva6 - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:14 PM

      彼らは日本のストが多すぎる

      • TimDz - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:36 PM

        If you do that Alex, YOU have to clean it up….

      • hantiaolang - Jan 31, 2014 at 4:49 PM

        “They have too many Japanese strikes”

        — Darn those free online translators! Did you mean “They strike out in Japan, too” or “He will strike out alot in Japan, as well”? Or something else? This is going to bug me. . .

      • alexva6 - Jan 31, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        They strike out in Japan, too

  4. tcostant - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    I just hate this. Back in late April, May and June we all knew this teams wasn’t playing well. And all we heard from the team, was “there is plenty of time” nad “we know we have a good team”. And that start just killed them. No sence of urgency – nothing. Flat right out of the All-Star break and it was over.

    Hopefully they learned there lesson.

    • nats128 - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      I guess many were wrong when they said early season didnt matter much.

      • jd - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:42 PM

        Of course it matters. Every game counts as much as every other game but the point is that a week before the all star break the team was in a reasonable position (4 games out) to get back into the race or at least to stay relevant just by playing average ball which they failed to do.

        Look, I was all over Davey last year, I also felt that he was over confident and too laid back. I believed then as I do now that Davey believed that he has superior talent that would in time rise to the top. I think he had a lot to do with last year’s failure. I don’t agree with the notion that Rizzo moved too slowly with roster changes. When you take all off season to build a roster and you believe in that roster you have to give it some time before you start making fundamental changes. You can’t make moves every time someone goes into a 3 week slump, that’s no way to run a team.

        Rizzo believed in HRod and Espi and he gave them a lot of rope. He was wrong about them and he eventually made the moves (He also had a plan in mind for Rendon which involved 1 more year in the minors and I am not so sure that this wouldn’t have served Rendon better). Being wrong about a couple of players does not make the GM stubborn or bull headed or whatever else JayB wants to call him, every GM has hits and misses on their resumes and Rizzo’s overall performance is very good.

      • Jw - Jan 31, 2014 at 6:58 PM

        So if it was all Davey’s fault, what exactly could he have done to make those guys start playing better sooner?

      • sjm308 - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:40 PM

        jd – your reply at 5:42 just really rings true for me and I wish I could express myself as well as you did on this post. I think sometimes I get caught up in replying to the negativity. Anyway, thanks for the post and lets hope this season turns out well for all of us, even the naysayers.

        Go Nats!

  5. Eugene in Oregon - Jan 31, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    I’m still convinced it WASN’T the early season that doomed the Nats.

    For all the team’s problems in April, May, and June, at the end of the day on Sunday, July 7, they had beaten San Diego for the third straight time, were 46-42, and stood only four games behind the Braves.

    In retrospect, where vision is always 20/20, they ‘lost’ the season in the week that followed (i.e., just before the All-Star Game) and in the week immediately after the break. During that 15-game stretch the Nats went 3-12 and fell from four games back to 8.5 back. Essentially insurmountable.

    I recognize I’m cherry-picking a bit, but I really believe that it was that period that doomed them more than the slow start.

    • jd - Jan 31, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      You are exactly right Eugene

      • bowdenball - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:00 PM

        Absolutely. That was the prevailing sentiment at the time as well. Natstown was filled with optimism bordering on confidence after the San Diego series. The notion that a slow start doomed them and they never recovered emerged after the season.

  6. JayB - Jan 31, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    In April May and June they were giving away games by being stubborn and pigheaded with the roster and playing time…..HROD was in games. Danny was playing every inning. They lead the NL in Errors….They refused to get a Lefty that could help in the Pen….just Davey was being a contrarian just to show how smart he was by maintaining that winning did not matter at this time.

    In July they just played poorly but at leas they had the right players on the field. If they had not given away 20 or so games in April and May then the dip in July would not have done much to their chances.

  7. Hiram Hover - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    Unlike Werth, I am done wondering about 2013.

    Time to speculate about 2014, baby!

  8. JayB - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    You do not lose the east with a two week bad stretch you lose the east with a 4 month under performance and no leadership to wake up and play with passion and urgency

    • jd - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      You do if the team you are chasing takes a 4 game lead and stretches into a 10 – 12 lead which is exactly what happened.

      Game, set and match.

  9. sjm308 - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    One big reason I am looking forward to a new season is that I hopefully will not have read about Davey, HRod, poor spring training habits, Espinosa etc. can’t wait to see what he bitches about this year but he is still spewing last years dregs so the new season can’t come soon enough

    • Jw - Jan 31, 2014 at 7:01 PM

      JayB was still complaining about Acta as recently as 2012.

  10. Section 222 - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:51 PM

    Two bad stretches killed the season.

    1) May 12-30. Last loss to the Cubs, the West Coast road trip, through losing the home and home series with the O’s 3-1. We were four games over .500 and just one game behind the Braves on the morning of May 12 and fell back to .500, and 5.5 game back after going 7-11 in that set.

    2) July 10-31. The games right before and after the All Star break against the Phillies, Marlins, Dodgers, Pirates and Tigers, when we went 6-12. 47-44, still just 5 games back after winning series against the D-Backs and Mets and sweeping the Padres, to 52-56, 11 games back, and toast.

    In the seven other 18 game sets we won at least 9 games. If we went 9-9 in those two outliers we would have won 91 games and made the playoffs.

  11. Sonny G 10 - Jan 31, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    Yes, we probably could have done some damage if we had made the playoffs in 2013, but that’s ancient history now. Let’s make sure we make it this year and see how much damage we can do. Go Nats!

  12. letswin3 - Jan 31, 2014 at 10:00 PM

    I’m optimistic. Injuries look to be in check, with Harper, Det and Strass back to near 100%. Nice 4th starter move over the off-season, nice BP pickup, nice bench find and 13 days until pitchers and catchers report for ST. Only a few question marks; a 5th starter (with several good options there), ALR’s recovery from a very wayward bat issue and a solid backup catcher to be named. And I’m tiring of the Danny conversation … let it be settled in ST. And finally, a new skipper who looks to be a focused leader with the tools to implement appropriate strategies and motivate. Yeah, I’m optimistic.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 79 15.0
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Sunday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 67 2.5
y-ST. LOUIS 87 68 4.0
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 71 7.0 --
PITTSBURGH 84 71 7.0 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 11.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Sunday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 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.

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