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Nationals’ bench continues strong start to season in win over Marlins

Apr 15, 2014, 6:00 AM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Last week after the Nationals swept the Marlins before heading to Atlanta, we at CSN pointed out a coincidental parallel between this season and last. The Nats entered their series with the Braves with the exact same record (then 7-2) as they did in 2013 before getting swept by their rivals.

And then the Braves swept them again, taking Games 10, 11 and 12 of this season from the Nats, just as they did a year before. Well, what the Nationals did next in 2013 also happens to line up almost perfectly with this year.

In 2013, after losing three straight to the Braves, the Nationals bounced back with a blowout win in Miami against the Marlins. Jordan Zimmermann took the victory in a 10-3 game.

So, what happened last night? Of course, Zimmermann earned the win in a 9-2 blowout at Marlins Park. For the second year in a row the Nationals are 8-5 after 13 games with a nearly identical stretch.

With all those scheduling coincidences in mind, are the Nationals better this season, or is this just some bizarre replay of their disappointing 2013? The next few months will determine that, but for now they do appear to at least be deeper on offense.

Last season the Nationals were also hit by the injury bug early on. In April alone, Wilson Ramos and Ryan Zimmerman went on the disabled list, and Danny Espinosa took a pitch off his right wrist (he would later find out it was broken). The injuries later uncovered a lack of depth on the Nationals’ bench, and it contributed to their downfall.

This past offseason the Nationals were aggressive in revamping and deepening their bench, opting for experience and versatility. So far, through the season’s first two weeks, it is paying off.

Monday night’s game was a perfect example. Though they saw contributions from all around the roster, names who were not in their Opening Day lineup helped lead the way.

Espinosa, who entered the year as a backup infielder (and who was playing on the one year anniversary of breaking his wrist), went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI triple in place of Zimmerman. He is now hitting .346/.414/.577 on the season through 11 games, has five extra base hits, and has cut his strikeout rate down to 17.2 percent, compared to his 26.9 career mark.

Kevin Frandsen also continued his excellent start to the year. Starting in left field due to Denard Span’s 7-day DL stint, Frandsen reached base safely for the fifth straight game. He has now reached on either a walk or a hit in seven of his last eight.

Frandsen was acquired late in spring for the final bench spot and has been huge for the Nats so far. He is hitting .346/.455/.421 through 11 games and playing better in the outfield than many would have predicted.

Tyler Moore had a game himself on Monday night. The 27-year-old started in the place of Adam LaRoche at first base and went 3-for-5 with a homer, two RBI and a run.

It’s only his fifth game of the year, and he had done little in his previous four, but Moore is already showing more promise than he did to start 2013. Last season he didn’t hit his first home run until his 18th game and didn’t have a three-hit day until his 46th.

Even Sandy Leon stood out at the plate on Monday night. The backstop had just one hit through his first 15 at-bats entering the game, but went 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBI. He also hit the first homer of his MLB career.

For a comparison to last year’s backup to the backup catcher, Jhonatan Solano never recorded a multi-hit game in 2013 and had only one multi-RBI game in 24 appearances. Those two RBI were the only ones he produced all season.

For those who watched the Nationals in 2012, you know how big a role the team’s bench played in their MLB-best 98 regular season wins. Those same people also recognize how the team’s lack of depth held them back one year later. Nationals players hit .283 collectively off the bench in 2012, but just .207 in 2013, for example.

It is still very early both in the season and the rehab schedules of Ramos and Zimmerman, but so far the Nationals’ bench is providing just what the team hoped when they put them together this winter. Perhaps the Nats’ bench can prove the difference in where the team goes from here.

  1. masterfishkeeper - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:06 AM

    If i have this right, Espinosa, Rendon, and Frandsen each have a BA of .346. Weird but good.

    • ArVAFan - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:50 AM

      According to the Nationals’ stats page, Frandsen’s is .368, but the other two are indeed .346.

      In further evidence that h*ll has frozen over, Espinosa’s and LaRoche’s OPS are higher than Harper’s and Werth’s!

      • micksback1 - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        and that would explain the blood moon last evening too, LOL

  2. laddieblahblah - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:10 AM

    There is such a difference in Moore’s game when he plays first compared to when he plays the OF or comes off the bench. I don’t know the splits, but he is much better when playing 1b than the OF. The Nats keep trying to put round pegs in square holes, but when it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. There is a psychological component to the game, and you can measure it in the difference in TyMo’s game whn he is playing his natural position and when he is stuck in the OF.

    Schu looked like Yoda the master watching his apprentice Luke, after Espinosa hit that triple. If Danny can keep swinging like that, the Nats will still miss Zim’s bat, but not by nearly so much. Still better from the right side than the left, but a better swing from the left and much, much better plate discipline from both sides by Danny. Use the Force, Luke!

    Frandsen has been terrific, and McClouth will make significant contributions before the season is over.

    Congrats to Mr. Leon! May you hit another 300 just like that one.

    People like McClouth and Frandsen want to come to the Nats, now. It wasn’t that long ago that players of that caliber would not have considered it.

    What a pickup in Treinen. That guy was a “throw-in” in the Morse trade? The Nats must have some great talent development people. Treinen could not even make the varsity for his college team, and now look at him, striking out Stanton with the bags full.

    Things go a lot better when JZ gets that FB down.

    Watch out! Harper is on a roll, and Rendon will come close to 200 hits, or make it, if he stays healthy.

    There is no good reason why those guys cannot beat the Braves.

    • natinalsgo - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:30 AM

      Those are all good points. Not sure what to think about TyMo. He had a breakout game for sure. Can he do it again and can he do it playing in LF. Can he do something coming off the bench after a start? Lots of question marks there.

      Schu is looking like a genius except for during Braves games. The Nats this time last year were littered with Mendoza hitters and this year are mostly top producers. The Espinosa reincarnation is working in the most simplistic ways. Our senior most people here have made the correct observations for years about Espi and it was up to him to adapt the compact swing. So far so good. I’m not ready to crown him as fixed though as pitchers could still find ways to thwart him as that’s their job.

    • dcwx61 - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:54 AM

      Best writing style on the blog….You should be a writer for more than blogs

      • laddieblahblah - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:45 AM

        I hope it works with the IRS!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        Laddie with daily summation really hits key points.

        Jury still out on TyMo. Didn’t he deliver in Game 1 that game winning hit as a pinch hitter? He was excellent on both sides yesterday.

        There has to be teams scouting him for 1st base needs. If he can produce off the bench he is an upgrade over Hairston but for that matter the Nats have Souza also. Walters has a tryout himself.

        Sime

    • senators5 - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      The key statement you made was, “If Danny can keep swinging like that…” The problem, of course, is when he stops swinging. He led the world in called third strikes last year. Lets hope he keeps swinging!!

  3. Joe Seamhead - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:31 AM

    Great post,Laddie. While enjoying a crow laced omelet, I agree with all of your analysis.

    • laddieblahblah - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      Thanks, Joe, and I like your observations, as well.

  4. rabbit433 - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:47 AM

    Well, we’re still undefeated………except for the Braves!!

  5. Eric - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:49 AM

    Harper with a tight lat since Friday…hope they can keep it in check or the bench test will get even tougher…

  6. natsjackinfl - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:56 AM

    Really glad to see Tyler Moore put the barrel on the ball last night. The opportunity that presents itself to both him and Sandy Leon don’t come around often and they both need to send the message that they are both ready.

    Both just need to make solid contact and cut down on strike outs, Sandy especially.

    • laddieblahblah - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      Yeah. Too much swinging for the fences. The Nats could use a bat from behind the plate in Ramos’ absence.

  7. Theophilus T.S. - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    Nats’ string of good luck against the Marlins will end Thursday when they face Fernandez. They need to win that one — sweep the series, really — to regain some credibility. As nice as they sound, “Moore and Leon Homer,” “Treinen Ks Three,” and “Espinosa Batting .340,” could turn out to be Man-Bites-Dog headlines. I’m as pleased with the bench as anyone but I’m not ready to take out a second mortgage to pay for season tickets.

    • natsjackinfl - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:28 AM

      Theo…When it comes to Danny Espinosa, I’m definitely in the “show me” camp but I have to admit, except for an at bat or two, he’s been looking consistent on that short swing approach since early Spring Training.

      And I believe it really has to help that Anthony Rendon puts on that clinic at the plate and Danny gets to see it in action.

      • Theophilus T.S. - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:38 AM

        If Espinosa can hit .300 for one month he can do it — or somewhere in the vicinity of “it” — for the whole season. At the moment he looks like next year’s cheap 2B. That’s good.

    • bowdenball - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:48 AM

      They need to sweep the series to regain some credibility? Really? A 9-6 team has no credibility? A .600 win percentage won’t do it?

      Come on. Sure, some of the bats will come back down to earth. But I also seriously doubt that Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg will finish the season with 5.27 and 4.24 ERAs respectively. Tanner Roark’s 5.91 ERA is either going to drop quite a bit or be replaced by Doug Fister in the rotation.

      Yes they won’t keep scoring runs like this all year, but the opponents won’t either.

      • dcwx61 - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:56 AM

        Need to win series not every game. Their will be tough matchups even against poor teams

      • Theophilus T.S. - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        A team that goes 5-1 against the worst team in the division and folds against the Marlins’ best pitcher has proved nothing except that they can’t hit good pitching.

      • Eric - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:02 AM

        I mean…isn’t shutting down hot bats exactly what makes a good pitcher…”good”?

        I would love to see us get to a guy like Fernandez and sweep the Marlins in back-to-back series, but Fernandez didn’t put up a 2.19 ERA his rookie season by giving up runs to every hot team he faced.

      • realdealnats - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:28 PM

        True enough BB but many of us feel, possibly yourself, that sure the Nats have credibility at 9-6, but not with a capital C. Credibility really comes in 2014 when we start to hold our own with St. Louis, LA, SF and Atlanta. I think we can and will, but it is presently a hill to climb.

    • chaz11963 - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      They play the Marlins with Fernandez on Wednesday. Thursday begins the 4 game home series against the Cards.

      • bowdenball - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:04 AM

        “A team that goes 5-1 against the worst team in the division and folds against the Marlins’ best pitcher has proved nothing except that they can’t hit good pitching”

        Oh good God, please give it a rest. Bartolo Colon had a 2.65 ERA last year and finished sixth in Cy Young voting. Zach Wheeler is a solid young prospect. Dillon Gee had the Nats’ number all last year. The Nats hit all three hard. They put up 5 runs on Teheran in a loss Friday night too.

        You know why Jose Fernandez is really good? Because teams don’t score a lot of runs when he pitches. Not the Nats, not the Braves, not the 1927 Yankees.

        The Nationals have scored more runs per game than any other team in the National League, despite playing all of them games so far in parks that are either neutral or pitcher-friendly. If (and it’s still an if) Jose Fernandez quiets their bats tomorrow it will mean far less than what they’ve done in the other 14 games of the season.

  8. chaz11963 - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:21 AM

    They looked back on track last night. Desi is still struggling a bit at the plate, but that will come. The big questions is the pitching, especially the bullpen. It would be good to see that come together over the remaining 2 games in Miami before coming home to meet the Cards for 4 games. Cards stopped the Brewers 9 game win streak cold with a shutout last night.

  9. NatsLady - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    I know we don’t hate Phillies fans any more, but this is still fun to watch.

    http://deadspin.com/phillies-fans-reactions-to-dan-ugglas-grand-slam-are-am-1563288296

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:52 AM

      Speak for yourself. Although most of the really obnoxious ones are off the bandwagon by now, still, I got no sympathy.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        Sec +1 Barves fans are now the worst followed only by Phoolies fans.

      • Sonny G 10 - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:01 AM

        +1

    • ArVAFan - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      Until a significant majority of them behave better on the Metro and at the park, I reserve the right to at least “heavily dislike” Phillies fans. Booing our batboy or an injured player just isn’t very nice. I’m not expecting classy: but I do hold them to at least a standard of “civilized.” There are exceptions (I sat next to a nice guy from Philly last year, but he was also military, so that might have helped), but they stand out because they are exceptions. YMMV

      And yes, that was fun to watch. It would have been more fun if it hadn’t been Atlanta, but you can’t have everything.

    • ehay2k - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:44 AM

      You made my morning Natslady!

    • Eugene in Oregon - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:45 AM

      Wonderful video to wake up to here on the west coast. Made even better by the fact that the Nats-Miami stats were crawling across the bottom of the screen as the Phillies fans reacted in dispair.

  10. NatsNut - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:49 AM

    Craig Kimbrel sits out a save situation with sore shoulder.

    • TimDz - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:55 AM

      As great as Kimbrel is, I always wondered how long it would take until he did something to his shoulder or elbow…

      He has a very violent delivery and these types of pitchers often flame out….The Nats had a pitcher like this (I believe Cole Kimbel?)

      • nats106 - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:01 AM

        Agreed and another Braves pitcher to watch out for Alex Wood. While I wish him no ill will, his delivery is ultimately going to do the same thing. Braves organization are teaching these guys something right in terms of winning, but at what cost? (although I think Wood dropped in the draft due to his delivery and injury concerns)

      • cvillegoodtimes - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:09 AM

        yes, Kimbrel and Wood have violent deliveries. But, so does Chris Sale. Pitching coaches should try to teach the cleanest mechanics possible to minimize the risk of injury, but when someone has been throwing one way their whole life and it works for them then there isn’t much to be done about it. You just try to keep them healthy for as long as possible and hope he turns out to be closer to the Sale side of the spectrum.

    • ehay2k - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:51 AM

      Not surprised at all. Fredi was overworking Kimbrel, especially this early in the season. It will be interesting to see how things progress here. Kimbrel will want to get back out there, to compete, just like Bryce would. He may downplay his injury, as Bryce did, to play sooner. If the Barves do not manage this correctly, it could spell disaster for their star pitcher.

      • Eric - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:06 AM

        According to Kimbrel, the issue goes back to spring training

      • ehay2k - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:28 AM

        Wow. Why have him throw so much if he was battling “soreness” ? I guess the Braves don’t want to shut down their pitchers like the Nats do (including Fister this year)?

      • Eric - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        Yeah, very odd. And, it begs the question: if it’s been ongoing, and they let him pitch through it, what changed? Did it get worse? They have a policy to let soreness go unless it doesn’t resolve after n days have passed?

  11. stoatva - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    Tommy John surgery for Matt Moore. Darn, you hate to see that, but it seems to be a rite of passage. And the injury used to be ‘curtains’ for a young pitcher who couldn’t reinvent himself as a “crafty junkballer.”

  12. Eugene in Oregon - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    Another reason what the ‘win’ stat is over-rated and often seems meaningless (especially for relievers): Luis Avilan came into last night’s Braves-Phillies game in a non-save situation, gave up four hits, a BB, and five ERs, and he still got the W because they let him finish the inning.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:51 AM

      Sorry, should read: “… why the ‘win’ stat…”

  13. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    Do we have any McLouth updates on his knee?

    I want to see Souza start a game if there’s an opportunity to fit him in.

    The key to the offense is producing their 4+ runs and have great starting pitching last night like JZim provided and cutting down on the fielding and running mistakes and everything else will work out just fine.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      BTW, last night was the classic “hitting is contagious” and was nice to see. Each game the Nats need guys stepping up and it won’t be the the same players every night in reality and that’s where we need to see in those games Espi and a bench guy or 2 come through.

  14. Section 222 - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    Laddie makes some good points, but I’m not buying that TyMo’s hitting has anything to do with what position he plays in the field. Correlation is not causation and all that.

    On the subject of TyMo, last night, Bob and FP were going on and on about how TyMo is a major league hitter, has shown that time after time when he gets to play. I’m sorry, but I just don’t think that’s the case. TyMo is no longer a youngster working his way up and hoping to reach his potential. He’s 27 and in his third major league season.

    It’s just a myth that TyMo’s bad 2013 was due to lack of opportunities to start. In 2012, TyMo played in 75 games. In only 33 of those did he have 3 or more PAs. Yet he hit a very respectable .263/.327/.513. In 2013, he played in 63 games, and in 41 of of those game he had 3 or more PA. That’s right, TyMo got more starts in 2013 than he did in 2012. He had more total plate appearances in 2013 than in 2012 (178-171). But his slashline cratered to .222/.260/.347.

    Good major league hitters can hit coming off the bench and they can hit when they start. Look at Michael Morse from 2010-2011 for example. Do we really think Rendon would struggle if he were a part time player? TyMo may still have it in him to be a good major league hitter and a big contributor to the Nats off the bench and getting spot starts. But one good game doesn’t prove he’s there, just as his 2 HR, 5RBI game in Toronto in June 2012 didn’t.

  15. chaz11963 - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    Unfortunately as much as I personally like TyMo, I would agree with 222. I don’t think he has shown himself to be capable of playing in the big leagues. If you recall, this was the reason the Nats really wanted to sign Jeff Baker a few months ago. TyMo’s AAA stats the last couple years suggest he could be a very good big league player, but each time he has been given his chance he has under-performed.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      Healthy skepticism is good with him and Espi. Powering up on a pitcher that’s getting walloped in itself just makes it a good game and not a signal to a start of a streak but you take those and build on it and assess along the way.

      I was more impressed with TyMo’s defense. He made 3 really nice plays.

      These are evaluation times for TyMo, ZW, Treinen, Souza, Espi, Leon, and even Lobaton.

      • letswin3 - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        Loved his “D” last night. That hot shot to his right was impressive.

    • masterfishkeeper - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      “TyMo’s AAA stats the last couple years suggest he could be a very good big league player, but each time he has been given his chance he has under-performed.”

      He’s certainly had good power stats in the minors, but I worry about his lack of good plate discipline. That’s why I like Souza a lot better.

  16. Sonny G 10 - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    I’m really going to be interested in how the Nats play against the Cardinals. This is another opponent that could psychologically affect the Nats. It is also another chance for the Nats to chase away their demons. I think the problem with the Barves was the Nats were trying too hard…thus the weird errors and mental mistakes. The other factor in the second series with the Braves is that we were starting two of our number five pitchers who had bad days. Roark and Jordan are not power pitchers and really need their stuff to work and really need to locate their pitches. And then Gio had one of his screwy outings. The Nats need to keep their swagger against the Barves and the Cards and I believe we’ll come out ok.

    One other thing, I must admit I was wrong about changing hitting coaches last year. I am really impressed with what Schu has done. He fixed Span last summer and now he’s got Espi’s approach at the plate going great. Rizzo was right and Davey Johnson and I were wrong.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      Agree completely with your first sentence, but not because of the psychological side of the equation. I just want to see how the Nats do against a good team that’s not the Braves.

  17. Section 222 - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    “From talking to Craig and the trainers, it’s one of those things every reliever goes through over the course of the season,” Gonzalez said. “Guys are hurt and banged up. If it’s not the closer and we’re in a save situation, nobody would even know. I’m not concerned at all.”

    Why do managers say stuff like this? First, if he’s not concerned that his All-Star closer has shoulder soreness, he’s an idiot. Second, he can’t really be sure based on what the reliever says that its nothing to worry about.

    ATL has several good options to close instead Kimbrel if he’s out for awhile. But their bullpen is a lot less scary without him. If I’m a Braves fan (which I’m very glad I’m not because how embarrassing would that be?), I’m concerned.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      Quotes like that when analyzed make you go “What the ” did he really say.

      Kimbrel is the best closer in the game and I hope to be proven right that they took advantage of him like they do with the rest of the pitching staff and drive them into the ground. If he threw only fastballs I think his workload would be ok but he is a small guy who torques that arm for max effort on every pitch and it’s bound to cause issues. Freddie should be worried. Sure he may be back tomorrow but shoulder soreness can’t be ignored for a high torque pitcher.

    • JW - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      All managers and players lie to the press all the time about health and everything else. They’re not under oath. They could just as well answer every question with “no comment” but if they did the press would complain to the league office.

      • Section 222 - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:08 PM

        Of course they do Feel. But what’s the point of that particular lie here? To reassure the fans? Why do that when you could be facing something more serious? To fool other teams? They’re not fooled by “I’m not concerned” and they’re not going to do anything differently anyway. To keep the spirits of his own players up? To keep the betting line from changing? What?

      • NatsNut - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:07 PM

        @222, because they gotta answer the question somehow because they have a microphone, or a dozen, in their faces. And their main goal, just from anecdotal observation, is to downplay everything, no matter what.

        I still say again, a good rule of thumb to keep us sane is to never get upset or indignant over what they *tell us* because it is invariably a lie and/or deliberate minimalization (is that a word?) of whatever injury/issue is going on.

  18. Eric - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:52 AM

    I’m with JW here. If he weren’t worried, he wouldn’t be “resting” him all of a sudden due to an injury Kimbrel’s been pitching with since spring training. Clearly something about it has changed–or has not changed when they thought it would–in a way that has caused them to take precautions.

    • Eric - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:53 AM

      Argh…stupid nesting.

      Also, I suppose technically it’s “soreness” that Kimbrel’s been pitching with since spring training, not an injury.

  19. letswin3 - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    I was going to comment on Treinen’s night (he got slapped around a little, but recovered nicely to strike out 3, including Stanton with the bases loaded, and give up no runs), when I decided to check out another part of that Mikey Morse trade ,,, AJ Cole. Cole has started twice at Harrisburg, won both starts, pitched 10 innings and is enjoying an early ERA of 1.80. Oh yeah, Treinen also looks to be more calm out there than any rookie pitcher I can remember.

    • letswin3 - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      Geeez, I almost forgot about Treinens at bat! That guy had more of “a plan” in that at bat than any hitter I’ve seen all year. His plan was to avoid being hit by 3 pitches, and then take a seat ….. and the guy executed it perfectly. Hat’s off, young man, hat’s off.

      • ArVAFan - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        +1

  20. jd - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    Reading the entire thread I am struck by the fact that there is a consistent predictable theme one can count on when following a fan forum such as this. I say predictable because I see very similar types of reactions in the other sports forums I follow. The names are different but the story line is pretty much the same:

    1) We over react to the most recent games and performances (good and bad).
    2) We over value our prospects.
    3) We take bad performances personally, we don’t accept that players are human and like us have bad days.
    4) We don’t give any credit to the oppositions good performances and we think that every time our guys have great days it can’t be because the opposition is having a bad day.
    5) We think we are smarter than the manager, the GM and pretty much every one else.

    I have to admit that when watching a game or following a game I too react similarly instinctively but I hope that I am smart enough to recognize these instincts as not much more than being a fan.

    • NatsLady - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      Normal fan behavior. If I can, I try to wait at least a few hours, and preferably until the next morning to write my game posts. I remember I was ready to KILL Davey one rainy Friday night when he, and Stras, and who knows who else, blew that 8-run lead.

      Personally, I don’t think I’m smart than Rizzo. I’m not sure why he said that about being “better” than the Barves (of course, what was he supposed to say), he’s not as “polished” as some GM’s, but he knows his stuff. He, and his staff, find guys and develope guys (especially pitchers) from other teams’ trash heaps. It doesn’t always work (CMW and Henry Rod come to mind) but he takes risks and they pay off (Rendon, with Giolito hopefully to come). He also seems to be learning from previous mistakes.

    • letswin3 - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      Yeah JD, you’ve described human nature (especially baseball fan human nature) pretty well here. But I’m also confident that you were typing so fast that you inadvertently added the word “think” in number 5, because we all know who’s smart and who isn’t ……..right? I’m also confident that you can identify sarcastic humor from someone who struggles to keep up with the terrific insight provided by so many of the smart posters here.

    • NatsNut - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      LOL. Funny point.

  21. NatsLady - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Coupla things. First of all, Rizzo is not averse to overworking pitchers, and Davey WY overworked Clip and Stammen (and maybe Storen).

    The whole reason Treinen is here (and pitching two games in a row) is because there are a limited number of resources, and those resources are fragile. Barrett and Treinen are “minor” pieces, and you don’t know if they receive the same tender care as Fister is obviously receiving. BTW, does anyone wonder why Ryan Mattheus wasn’t called up? One feels that Treinen won’t be here long, no matter how well he does.

    Second, this whole period will give us a glimpse into Matt Williams’ creativity, given the injuries and the twenty game stretch with no off-days until April 28. Davey was very creative in 2012, not so much in 2013. Not to mention how the players respond. You have to feel Werth might have liked to take off early in a 9-2 blowout, but there were no outfielders left (see NYY who played Carlos Beltran at 1B and came close to needing CC Sabathia to play a position!). Luckily, Frandsen seems a lot better in LF than Lombo or Tyler Moore.

    Creative Commander

    • NatsLady - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      Make that *WAY” overworked…

      • Sonny G 10 - Apr 15, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        Thanks for the correction. I was going nuts trying to figure out the acronym WY. :)

    • David Proctor - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      I have been pleasantly surprised by Frandsen in LF. I thought it was going to be another failed experiment of putting an IF in the OF, but he’s looked good out there. He made a great backhanded play on a ball in the corner yesterday that kept Reed Johnson to a single and that was a big play because JZimm got a doubleplay on the next pitch.

      FP also said that Matt Williams held a team meeting prior to yesterday’s game. How many times did Davey hold team meetings? Of course, I dunno how much those things really matter. But it didn’t hurt.

  22. therealjohnc - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    How can the bench reinforcements be doing so well? I thought that Rizzo was an idiot and Williams was destroying the confidence of his players by moving them around? Cognitive Dissonance!

    More seriously, the team’s depth so far IS a feather in Rizzo’s cap, as is the return he got for one year of Morse (which turned out to be a lousy year, too). Two pitchers that have already made their big league debuts, and the third is a young hotshot prospect who is potentially the best of the bunch. Maybe Rizzo isn’t an idiot.

    Unlike Theophilus, I’m not in the camp that says a team needs to “establish credibility” after 13 games, much less when they’ve won eight of them. There is still such a long way to go. In NFL terms, the team has just finished the first quarter of game 2. It’s kind of early to get too high or too low, so just enjoy the game. I’ll say this team is already more fun to watch than the 2013 version – with Rendon now full time, Harper in fine form and ALR and Espinosa actually hitting (!) the lineup is better than last year even with Zimmerman and Ramos out. And that lineup means that they can come back from deficits, which they’ve already done multiple times, and yes even against the Braves.

    • sjm308 - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:58 PM

      JohnC – totally agree with you on Rizzo. He is not that smooth on the air but I just have to think he has surrounded himself with excellent evaluators and his ability must be strong as well. Yes, he has made some mistakes but who doesn’t in a league with 30 teams and thousands of players.

      I am sure happier with having a winning record at his time then the opposite and I agree that its earlier but I love what we are doing. I just think Rendon could end up in the same stratosphere as Bryce and how many teams have as many young stars as we do??

      Go Nats!

      • realdealnats - Apr 15, 2014 at 5:44 PM

        John C–
        I agree with just about everything you’ve said and have been saying the same for a couple years. But while I agree we don’t have to “establish credibility” this early–whatever that means–I don’t think you can say we have it. B/c we have yet to play the heavy duty competition out there–except the Braves. That’s all I’m saying. When we play’em I hope we kill’em. But until then we’re just a talented team with great potential.

        In 2012 we snuck up on a lot of folks. And that’s good, I was cheering along with everyone else. But it is much more difficult to play the best, go .600 against the best or thereabouts, or even just get through the best to the WS, when everyone knows you’re good and you can’t sneak up on them anymore. The Nats, whom I love, have yet to show that. We either need to develop that mindset, or show that we already have.

        I think the Nats can. And hope they will. I hope Stras shows it tonight.

  23. naterialguy - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    OK Braves Fans are really starting to bug me

    http://msn.foxsports.com/south/story/braves-listed-as-nationals-owner-on-wikipedia-page-041414

    • Danny - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      That’s pretty funny though and deserved. Embarrassing the way we play against them.

      • NatsLady - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:03 PM

        So, should we do that for the Marlins and Mets?

      • zmunchkin - Apr 15, 2014 at 2:30 PM

        No it is not funny. It is vandalism plain and simple. Look at the history for that page :

        http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Washington_Nationals&action=history

        and you will see that the folks who volunteer their efforts to monitor Wikipedia cleaned it up quickly.

        I also volunteer my time as a webmaster for a different wiki site, and I have to say that vandals who do such things should never have their activities described as funny or deserved.

  24. sjm308 - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Good readiing today and it has made me late to the gym, but well worth it.

    Going way back – Laddie: I really appreciate not only the content of what you write but your style really is excellent. Just a good read each day, even if we don’t always agree (again, the great thing about this game is how many facets there are).

    Heard earlier on radio just what the Phillie phan had yelled to Rollins while he was in the on deck circle and I can’t believe that person wasn’t escorted from the stadium. Agree with AR VA about behavior on Metro but a great deal of that is alcohol related. A key for me on “big games” is to not try and go directly to the metro but wait until things die down a bit.

    JD – add to your thoughts that all of the teams and players we compete against are in the major leagues for a reason. They are good!! This is why its an everyday issue as to who will win or lose. You can have a team like Houston last year who was on the way to a dismal season still play certain games that were just off the charts. You are correct though, its not always the Nationals winning or losing a game, there is a second team involved and all of their players are getting paid as well.

    As much as I want to beat the Braves, the story on Kimbrel is disappointing. That said, I am not hoping for an early recovery.

    OK – off to the gym and I am still wearing the DC logo spring training hat of years ago which makes me happy. Actually anytime I get to wear the same hat two or three days in a row is a good day.

    Question for the group and its a silly question but I will take your answers into account. I am leaving for over 3 weeks for Italy & France. I usually only take two hats and switch them up as wins and losses occur. Its not a fashion statement here but I love to wear National gear on these trips. Should I go with two curly W’s or go with my favorite hats which are those of the old Senators with the Block W? Please don’t write and tell me how foolish I am, that is already established, but I would enjoy this groups thoughts. Oh, great trip because I am only missing two games from my 20 game plan and have already exchanged those for two bobblehead games. Life is good!!
    Leaving Friday and will be reading when wifi is available.

    Go Nats!!

    • micksback1 - Apr 15, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      Coach

      take one Block W and one curly W

  25. micksback1 - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    does anyone now if the little boy gave he ball back to Leon last evening? I would assume, that the Marlin’s ball park staff traded a new ball with him for the HR ball?

    The most important question that was answered last night was clear, JZim simply had an off game last week, he looked very good last night and that is a real positive. Frandsen has been a great addition, kudos to Rizzo

    • ArVAFan - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      What he got in return may depend on the negotiation skills of his father. I can recall a couple of games where the player who hit his first HR had to ante up another player’s signed ball because that’s what the fan wanted. (Don’t quote me on this, but I think Gio had to come up with two Harper signed balls.) Rendon got lucky: his first HR went into the visitor’s bullpen in Cleveland–and you can quote me on that.

      • micksback1 - Apr 15, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        ha ha

        good post, that does make sense

  26. micksback1 - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    If Tyler Moore can have a break out Spring, I am wondering if it is feasable to consider the following: (I am not sayng I would do this, but..)

    when Zim comes back and let’s say he still has consistency problems with throwing across the diamnond aas well as health problems with that shoulder and as I said, if Moore is hitting 270 plus and is playing great, perhaps move Zim to first and platoon him with Moore. Consider a trading ALR only froma position of strength. I know this gets tricky and the other part of the equation is Espi has to be playing well too.

    • masterfishkeeper - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      How do you platoon Zimmerman and Moore? Both are right handed. And why you would platoon Ryan Zimmerman with a player who hasn’t established he is a reliable major league hitter is not at all clear to me.

      • micksback1 - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        did you read my post through?? I said “If Tyler Moore can have a break out Spring, I am wondering if it is feasable”

        I know they are bot right handed, I am talking aout a health/chronic injury situation with Zim as my reason and that is only if T Moore has a great Spring.

  27. stoatva - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    Being a major league manager would seem to be the best possible training for being White House Press Secretary (any administration, any party). How many words can you use up to give the writers absolutely nothing without saying straight out: “I’m giving you absolutely nothing.”

    • ArVAFan - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      I was hoping to win the lunch with Rizzo in the “March to Baseball” contest, so I could see how many words he could use without saying anything. He also noticed me reading his lips over the dugout at Wrigley so he turned around. Can’t blame him for that . . . and I hope he didn’t blame me for trying!

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