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First real test for Williams, Nationals

Apr 18, 2014, 9:00 AM EST

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Matt Williams knew there would come a time when he would be tested as a big-league manager for the first time. Not for anything he did or said in the dugout during a game. But for what he did or said in the Nationals’ clubhouse after a game.

That test came Thursday night when, after a trainwreck of an 8-0 loss to the Cardinals, Williams for the first time had stern words for his players.

Williams had no intention of sharing the contents of his message with the public — “That’s for me and my team, and nobody else’s business,” he said — but the actual contents probably are less important than the rookie manager’s tone. So, how upset was he?

“A lot,” catcher Jose Lobaton said. “I think not only him. I think everybody. I saw everybody’s face. It was kind of a little down, because we know we played really bad.”

Williams’ message, it seemed pretty clear, wasn’t so much focused on how the Nationals played Thursday as how they intend to play tonight when they take the field again for the second game of this series against the defending NL champs.

“It’s one game, and it’s not easy for them to play it and it’s not easy for us to experience it,” he said. “But what do you do now? You have one choice, and that’s to concentrate on tomorrow.”

Only 16 games into the season, more than a few trends have emerged. The good: The Nationals have largely dominated opponents late in games. The bad: They have a disturbing tendency to dig themselves into early holes, sometimes insurmountable. The really bad: They seem to play their absolute worst baseball against their toughest opponents.

The Nationals have flat-out dominated the Mets and Marlins, going a combined 8-1 against those two rebuilding clubs. But they’re now a stunning 1-6 against the Braves and Cardinals, two reigning division winners with a history of making this team look bad.

That fact isn’t lost inside the clubhouse.

“I mean, the numbers are what they are,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “It doesn’t worry me, because I believe in this team, I believe in what we can do. But believing in yourself only goes so far. You’ve got to go out and execute, and if we don’t start doing it soon, we’re gonna end up in the bottom. That’s not acceptable for any of us in here. So we’re going to fix it.”

As bad as they’ve looked at times through the season’s first three weeks, the Nationals aren’t anywhere near the bottom right now. Hard as it may be to believe, they’re still 9-7 overall, 1 1/2 games behind the East-leading Braves.

So there’s no panic coming out of 1500 South Capitol St., nor should there be. But there’s also an understanding that the longer this trend continues, the more reason people will have to panic.

“It’s nice to beat the good teams. It kind of reinforces how good a team we are,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “Everyone still believes that. It’s just time to start showing it.”

Williams made that much clear after Thursday’s night loss. We’ll find out tonight whether the Nationals took that message to heart, and whether they’re able to put this debacle of a ballgame behind them.

“We have to,” Lobaton said. “It’s not easy, but we have to. We cannot come tomorrow with that game in mind. We’ve got to change. We’ve got to pass that day and just get ready for tomorrow.”

  1. micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    I am so glad I have stuck to my promise not to post during games. I do not have the resolve as David and Eric have. I know I will be able to do this since I did not give in and post last evening. Any way, this is where MW can show his value as a manager, this is all mental, i am convinced. MW needs to tough love this group with a kick in their asses!

    • JamesFan - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      I agree there needs to be some verbal butt kicking and benching for those who can’t hold their own.

      However, I want MW to explain why Jordan faces Wainwright and Roark faces Teheran to open very important early series.

  2. micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    When Fister is ready, there is no question Roark should be the 5th pitcher. Taylor is way too soft and fragile at this point.

    • dgourds - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:51 AM

      +1

      • npb99 - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        Why not Det as fifth starter? Haven’t both TJ and Roark come up short of expectations?

      • dgourds - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        Roark had one bad outing this year vs. ATL. While he hasn’t matched what he did at the end on last year, he’s been pretty good. His last outing he went toe to toe with one of the best pitchers in baseball, Fernandez. Det has had 5 years to establish himself as a reliable starter without success.

  3. kirbs3256 - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    What was with TJ only hitting 90? And great leadership words by Dezi.

    • dgourds - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      That’s where he usually hovers–about 90.

  4. micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    just read Bos oped, he may be right. Wonder if trading Stras to a desparate team for s stud hitter would be a move? Before anyone jumps on me, I am not sure if I would do it, but, with so many young arms, and Stras’ value still high, the nats would be dealing from a position of strength

    • bowdenball - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:25 AM

      The Nats have only two young arms that aren’t already at the major league level. Anyone who has watched pitcher after pitcher (including ours) go under the knife in previous months and years knows that only two such arms is not enough. It’s far from a “position of strength.”

      And in any event, the Nats have had the second most productive offense in the National League so far this season behind only the Rockies (who play their home games in Coors Field), and they’ve accomplished that despite the prolonged absences of Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos and a 7 day DL stint for their leadoff guy. I’m not sure why they’d want to trade away our most talented starter for another bat considering our starting pitching struggles and our offensive production.

      • bowdenball - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:26 AM

        Two young arms that project to average or better major league starters, that is.

      • micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:28 AM

        your probably correct, that is why i say i am not sure I would do it. I am thinking ahead based on Bos’ ope d

      • micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:42 AM

        I think this is where we agree to disagree, I do not see Stras as our best and most effective pitcher by any parameter. JZim is our best followed by Gio. Stras has yet to impress me and his attitude is what bothers me the most. Look at how JZim has responded after TJ surgery compared to Stras as well as how he reacts to adversity during a game. I agree wit you 90% of the time, but on Stras, i do not

    • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:26 AM

      Wonder if trading Stras to a desparate team for s stud hitter would be a move?

      Nats lead the NL in runs, 2d in SGL, 4th in batting — and that’s after the 2-hitter.

      • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        Correction:

        Nats 2d in the NL in runs, 2d in SGL, 4th in batting — and that’s after the 2-hitter.

      • micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        if not a hitter, maybe a few young arms. my point is simply that some AL team could be in a panic mode and would be willing to make a trade that the Nats would greatly benefit from

      • jd - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:44 AM

        mick,

        Trust me no one is in a panic yet.

      • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:33 AM

        Agreed. Nobody’s in a panic mode after just 16 games.

        As for Stras, he pitched great last year (despite constant harping on him by many — mostly those who are unable to see past a W-L record), and it’s way too early this season, or his career, to assume he won’t be a perennial all star.

      • jd - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        Wonk,

        I think that some of the frustration with Stras stems from how dominating he looked when he 1st came up. We all thought he would be a cross between Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson and he hasn’t been that. He is clearly a very good pitcher, one you build your staff around, just not a generational stud we thought he’d be.

      • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        Yep — I think you hit the nail on the head.

        But we have to remember that he was one of the top 10 pitchers in the league last year!

        Consider:

        Strasburg was 6th in WHIP, 8th in ERA, 4th in K’s per 9 IP.
        FWIW, Wainwright was 7th in WHIP, 7th in ERA, 3rd in K’s per 9 IP.

        Remarkably and essentially indistinguishible in those stats — how much more can a fan fairly demand? Top 10 isn’t good enough?

    • naterialguy - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      I think the Nats should seriously consider that option because I don’t believe they can sign both Zimmermann and Strasburg to long term deals. They will have to let one of them go. I an sure they’re ears are open. I’ve always thought Houston could be a good trade partner because they have been stockpiling high draft picks for a long time.

  5. adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    Wonk’s Friday Phidbits

    Last night was Wainwright’s fourth 2-hitter.

    Nats’ 20 errors leads all of MLB — Miami is second worst with 16. Despite the two-hitter last night, Nats are still 4th in NL in batting, and 2d in SLG, and 2d in runs scored. (If only their team ERA, 4.10, which is 10th in the NL . . . )

    Pirates lead the NL in HR’s.

    The Twins scored their first four runs in the bottom of the 8th of their night-cap without an at bat!! The following has got to be the one of the world’s worst “melt-down” inning of all time: walk, walk, sac bunt, walk, wild pitch, walk, wild pitch, stolen base, walk, wild pitch, stolen base, walk, walk, single, walk, K, ground-out. Six runs, 1 hit, 8 BB, 3 wild pitches, 2 stolen bases. Sergio Santo’s line: 0 IP, 3 BB, 3 WP, 3 ER. The first pitcher to ever throw 3 WP without recording an out. This was his first blown save in five chances this year.

    Yankees hit two triples and turned a triple play (the classic “round the horn” 5-4-3 type).
    — In the same inning.
    —- The triple play ended with a nice scoop by 1b Scott Sizemore — who was playing 1b for the first time in his major league career.

    Robinson Cano hit a home run. He’s now tied with Gio Gonzalez for the year. Xavier Nady hit his third yesterday. Brian Dozier hit his third lead-off HR.

    Andrelton Simmons struck out. It’s his first of the year, in 52 PAs. In the same game, Alex Wood (who pitched 9 innings and allowed 1 run for the loss) got on base for the first time in his career. Career-wise, in 33 PA, his OBA is now .032

    Dodgers Hyun-Jin Ryu stretched his scoreless streak to 28 innings, as they beat the Giants 2-1. The Giants played in their 7th straight one-run game.

    Alas, Astros. Their stating lineup, again, featured six guys (including a DH) who were hitting under the Mendoza line. As a _team_, they are batting .181, a solid .040 lower than any other team in MLB.

    (I’ll be away again after today, till Wednesday — hold the fort, y’all!)

  6. sjm308 - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    Not much to add from last night

    Man was it cold!!
    Only good thing was getting to say good-bye to my son in person.

    I am positive that me being out of the country and away from my Nationals will only bring them luck. I expect them to be in First Place when I get back.

    Mick – go ahead and post away, it was always fun reading your temper tantrums and we know you only want the best for this team.

    Will be reading comments in the airport – not sure why they make you go 3 hours before but what the hell.

    Go Nats!!! Ciao!

    • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:34 AM

      Have a great trip!

  7. micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    Thanks Coach, but I think i wll sick to no posting during games

    have a great trip, you wlll be missed!

  8. joemktg - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    Nat’s first inning ERA: 11.25. An MLB worst, and clears second worst by 4 runs. And it’s across all starters.

    I keep thinking it’s an aberration, and I wait to be surprised, e.g., Roark’s start vs. Miami two days ago.

    • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      Pitchers just gotta pitch starting the second inning, and we’d be kicking some butt!

      • joemktg - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        Unfortunately, their 2nd inning ERA is 8.44, also dead last. They may have to start the game in the third inning.

        Seriously, I don’t know why they settle in after the lineup is turned over. It’s as if the scouting reports on the starters are killing them, and they change things up after a few innings and start to settle in.

      • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        It’s as if the scouting reports on the starters are killing them, and they change things up after a few innings and start to settle in.

        Wow — it does seem that way, doesn’t it. A scary thought, eh?

        OTOH, we do know that in the past, a number of power pitchers often have rocky 1st or 2d innings until they settle down.

        A very interesting phenomenon!

  9. flnatsfan - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    Today is why I love Nats Insider. Horrible game last night, but most here are optimistic and not doom and gloom. Yes, 20 errors is awful. The starters era is terrible. But I believe in this team and it’s not too late to pull out of this. Let’s shake this off and play some real baseball tonight.

    BTW…love the #yougotthisdesi photo thing on Twitter right now. Go Nats!

    • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:34 AM

      +1

  10. jd - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    Last night was a crappy game but with all due respect we were losing this game regardless based on the quality disparity of the starting pitchers. This is not an excuse for what we saw last night (which incidentally is fairly typical of team playing a night game traveling after the game and playing the next day) but it is reality.

    • alexva6 - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:15 AM

      wow, I guess you’ve already forgot about the night before.

      • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        ;-)

        I suppose that there’s just so many “reverse locks” you can win in a row! ;-)

    • 6ID20 - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      Just like we were losing Roark vs Fernandez regardless, right?

  11. 6ID20 - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    2012’s team identity was “no expectations, just show us what you got”.

    2013’s team identity was “gotta live up to expectations.”

    For 2014 to succeed, they need to get back to the 2012 team identity. A few guys (Rendon, Roark, Espinosa, Frandsen) are there. Can the rest of them follow?

    • chaz11963 - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      I don’t know what the right approach to addressing it is, but I do agree with you that there really seems to be some mental issue involved.

  12. npb99 - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    What do folks think about McCatty? Is he to blame for pitching inconsistencies, or is it only the fault of the pitchers themselves?

    • masterfishkeeper - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      I don’t know how any of us would be able to reach reasoned conclusion about McCatty, but of course that never stops fans from reaching conclusions.

      McCatty seems to me to be a reasonably good pitching coach, and I think he’s particularly good about monitoring the health of the staff, which is very important. But like everyone else here, I really don’t have much of a basis for my statements.

    • micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:28 AM

      I like Cat a great deal. He handles these guys well, look how he calmed down TJ the start before last night as a good illustration. The ass kicking has to come from MW, overall cat has done an A plus job with the pitching staff

      • jd - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:48 AM

        mick,

        I bet Cat is a great guy and probably even very good technically. I just don’t see where pitchers he handles get markedly better the way pitchers seem to do in Atlanta. I also think that the staff as a whole is not good at managing innings. When you face Atlanta and Freeman and Justin are just not making any outs you should let other players beat you rather than trying to get the hot hands out.

        When the same players beat you over and over I think the pitching coach is either not doing a good job with his pitchers or he’s not getting his message across. Either way it doesn’t reflect well on the coach.

  13. micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    I really like our young guys, Walters, Souza, etc.. That is why some type of trade would not bother me as there may be some closet head cases on this team that may need to go. maybe i am wrong?

    • npb99 - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      Probably too early to tell if those two guys will stick in the majors, but I totally agree with your point. The team can’t sign everybody to long-term extensions. They need to figure out who really warrants the eight figure per year long-term salary. Sign some players, let others go and replace them with young talent.

    • bowdenball - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:40 AM

      Well let’s put it this way- your post made the famous “MASN Commenter” twitter feed. So yeah, I think you’re probably wrong.

      I don’t know who you think the closet head cases are on this team, but unless you’re thinking of Nate McLouth or Jose Lobaton, maybe you should keep in mind that these “closet head cases” won 98 games and the National League East in 2012 and won 86 games despite a rash of injuries and putrid performances by bench players in 2013. If you want to play armchair psychiatrist I’d say that should at a minimum be just as important as the last 16 games when you make your diagnosis.

      • jd - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        bowdenball,

        You keep trying to introduce common sense to a fan forum. What are you thinking?

      • micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:48 AM

        only time will tell if this is the case, but I do not think i am the only one who feels this way, i bet MW may be thinking this as well. errors and how a player reacts to them and how pitchers react to adversity are all mental that is common sense

      • natsfan1a - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never heard of the “famous MASN Commenter twitter feed.”

      • bowdenball - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        Time has already told if this is the case. The players you are questioning- I assume it’s Desmond, Strasburg and maybe Harper- have played a lot more than 16 professional baseball games. They’ve done so at an all-star level and were all integral parts of a team that won 98 games not long ago. Of course their errors are mental, but unless they’ve caught some bizarre mental disease they’ll overcome this and return to their usual levels of play as the season continues, just as 99% of players under 30 who have had slow starts have done.

      • bowdenball - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:56 AM

        natsfan1a- its a popular twitter feed that retweets absurd Nats comments and suggestions found at the MASN Nats facebook page, and apparently here as well.

        There are similar twitter feeds for other teams too. The Cubs facebook one is pretty funny.

      • 6ID20 - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        The issues are not mental. They are issues of mindset. For example, when each grounder is hit to him, Desmond’s mindset needs to be “got to make my best possible play here”, not “got to beat the Cards on THIS PLAY.”

  14. micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    jd

    I do not think any of my posts deserve your snarky, baseless and BS post

    • micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      OK, fair enough Bowden

    • jd - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      Mick,

      I did not mean to offend you. Please accept my apology.

      • micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:00 AM

        no problem and no reason to apologize, I over reacted

  15. Section 222 - Apr 18, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    It was overly optimistic to expect that both Jordan and Roark would be excellent all year long. They are young #5 pitchers with promise, but they are going to have off nights. That’s why we only want one of them in the rotation.

    Maybe Desi needs to have another kid to get his mojo back. :-)

    • jd - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:11 AM

      Deuces,

      Not to mention that our lineup is very short handed at the same time. I think it’s a given that we will have to try to keep our heads above water for the time being and then take off when all the pieces are in place.

      I think the negativity stems from the fact that we played a particularly lousy game last night and it was against one of our arch enemies. I think we were doomed even if we played a clean game yesterday. Wainright can be nasty and he was last night.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      222, all good points but when you analyze their recent starts they really weren’t as bad as some may think, and yes, these are #4 and #5 pitchers.

      Roark makes one bad pitch and gives up a 3 run HR in a start that was good with excellent defense behind him. TeeJay gets an error in the 1st AB of the game and then doesn’t field his position on the 2nd batter of the game and he starts his outing with men on 1st and 2nd with no outs instead of nobody on and 2 outs. He throws nearly 30 pitches in the 1st inning.

      Think how you pitch Matt Holiday with 2 outs and none on vs no outs and 2 on.

      Both Roark and TeeJay had better outings than Strasburg’s last outing IMO just to keep it in perspective.

    • Sonny G 10 - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      +1

  16. jd - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    Mick,

    Just to clarify. In principal I object to comments alluding that one or several players having bad attitudes, react badly, aren’t coachable etc without concrete evidence to support such an opinion because none of us know these players so I think it’s rather presumptuous on our part to have such opinions and such certainty to go along with them.

    • 6ID20 - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      Just as you can’t coach speed, you can’t coach a mindset. A player either has the right mindset or he doesn’t. The good news is that unlike speed, a player can decide to change his mindset. Espinosa is the perfect example of that.

      • masterfishkeeper - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        And just how do you know a player doesn’t have the right mindset? Vulcan mind meld?

      • unterp - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        “Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.”
        someone name Yogi

      • 6ID20 - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        That’s why you can’t coach mindset.

    • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      Not piling on, but I agree with jd here. I think the Nats have done a remarkable job of making sure that “bad attitude guys” don’t get on the team (anybody remember teams of yore with Elijah Dukes, Lastings Millidge, etc.?). And when they do (Nyjer Morgan) they get rid of them as soon as feasible.

      I think the team has a good group of guys.

      • snerdblurter - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:12 PM

        nice guys finish in 2nd place…

      • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:25 PM

        There’s a wide gulf between being “nice” and being a head case who’s attitude poisons the clubhouse. Again: Dukes, Milledge, Morgan, etc . . . .

  17. philipd763 - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    These players are in denial, just like last year. They think they are the best team in MLB and in reality they are not a top tier team. That might change if they can get rid of the injury jinx but that is unlikely.

    • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      These players are in denial, just like last year.

      Wow! Can you do mind readings for me, too? Perhaps tell me what my boss really thinks of me?

  18. philipd763 - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    “There are classless guys on the team”. I agree. You can start with Werth, who was blowing snot all over the outfield grass in front of the TV camera. I would think with his $126 million, he could afford som kleenex! He also has no money for a haircut and beard trim. I have seen classier looking street people.

    • Section 222 - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:51 AM

      Classless is the word I would use to describe the MASN director who lingered on Werth even after it was clear what he was doing. I’d also tend to use it to describe people who snidely criticize the appearance of a professional athlete on an internet blog.

      But that’s just me.

      • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        +1

      • masterfishkeeper - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:33 PM

        +2

      • realdealnats - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:40 PM

        +4

    • NatsLady - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:26 PM

      It was cold as bejesus last night. You never had snot drip when it’s that cold? I’m glad he was out there, given he’s no spring chicken and his groin is chancy. If you want to criticize Werth, get on his case for dropping the ball on his error.

      • NatsLady - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:35 PM

        Well, that didn’t go where it was supposed to. Bottom line, criticize players for their performance, not their looks, is my policy.

      • NatsLady - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:36 PM

        Is the reply thingie working?

  19. Section 222 - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    I tend to agree that Roark’s bad outing was better than Jordan’s, and both were better than Stras’s. We should remember also that Jordan was facing the Cards and Stras and Roark was facing the Fish. Neither Roark nor Stras is an ace though, as much as we can hope they are or rely on small sample sizes from last year to think they are or might be.

    We need Fister back at 100% and our big three to pitch as well as we know they are capable of doing. If that happens, we should be in the thick of things. If not, we won’t. It’s pretty much as simple as that.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      I think you were responding to my 11:35 post. I agree with your response and to say I’m less concerned with Roark and TeeJay than I am with the Opening Day starter. Strasburg has to step up or this team will watch the postseason on their TVs.

  20. Theophilus T.S. - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    “And just how do you know a player doesn’t have the right mindset? Vulcan mind meld?”

    I have carped about the mental aspects of a number of players — mostly regarding immaturity, loss of focus/concentration (G. Gonzalez), lack of accountability (e.g., Strasburg says he doesn’t mind being two runs down in the 1st), etc.

    I think the current problems pile on top of that.

    1. Jordan — Inexperienced. I said so previously based on last year’s performance and incorrectly thought he had overcome that this spring. He’s going back to the minors.

    2. Roark — Exposure. The league seems to have figured him out and he needs to recalibrate. Not more than a No. 5 starter.

    3. Desmond — Hitting from behind in the count. I have no idea if he’ll ever get over that. In the field he is overcompensating for problems with the bat.

    4. Lobaton — Not a good hitter, can’t throw very well — other than that, just fine.

    5. Detwiler — Not a reliever. I assume this because Williams can’t seem to trust him to pitch two days in a row.

    6. In addition to not accepting accountability for his performance, I do think Strasburg is still recovering from his elbow surgery.

    Other than the above mentioned 6-7 players, they’re pretty much OK. Rendon great, Werth great, Espinosa and Harper fine, LaRoche steady at plate and in the field. Fister and Ramos will be big upgrades but real improvement requires several players to grow up, refine their approaches, heal and find/adapt to new roles. This team won’t go fa if only 10-11 guys are playing up to their abilities.
    .

    • Sonny G 10 - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      Theo, glad you point out that Stras is still getting over the elbow surgery. I firmly believe that also and have stated so previously. Stras has not had a chance to attain the level he was at before his TJ surgery. Two years recovering from TJ, then he has his elbow cleaned out. I still have hope that he gets back to his pre-TJ status. Of course if it turns out he is injury prone, he may never make it back, but I’m not going to believe that yet. He has had mental issues to deal with, but he recognizes that and is working on it. I still have high expectations for Stras.

  21. breakbad1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    When I watched the 4 teams in the NLCS and ALCS this year, I honestly thought, “We are not in the same category as these teams. These teams are cold-blooded killers.”

    We had a romp in 2012, but when we faced real pressure, it was too much for us, and we folded.

    In 2013 we wilted under pressure from the beginning.

    Last week Desi was asked to describe his teammates, one by one, with a single word. The word he chose for Harper and Gio? — “Divas.”

    You just won’t find teams in the ALCS and NLCS (or their counterpart playoffs in the NBA and NFL) which are made-up of lots of overly-mental guys with throwing complexes and cold-weather complexes and baserunning-complexes and fundamentals (e.g., holding runners) complexes.

    We’re all going to have a lot of fun beating weak teams, and it’s great we have the weakest schedule in baseball. But Pedroia, Verlander, Kershaw, Holliday, Molina, Cabrera, Napoli? We are simply not those kind of guys. We are divas and over-thinkers.

    • chaz11963 - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      Step back off the ledge big guy. It’s April 18th. I think we will know a lot more about our boys after this 11 (now 10) game home stand. Let’s see what happens the rest of the way against the Cards and how they handle the Angels and Padres.

    • masterfishkeeper - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:37 PM

      Yes, I’m sure Desi was serious when he described Gio and Harper with that word. Maybe you should root for another team if this one is so not to your liking?

  22. breakbad1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    Line 1: “last year” not “this year.”

  23. breakbad1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Chas–I agree it’s April 18th, but the factors I’m describing go back more than a year. MFK: I love this team too much–that’s why I’m composing psychiatric team analyses at 1 in the morning!

  24. David Proctor - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Amazing how everyone is a headcase until they’re not anymore. Last year, Storen was a headcase. He made some mechanical adjustments and suddenly he’s not a headcase anymore. In 2012, Clippard’s a headcase. Last year, suddenly he’s not anymore. Nobody seems to be able to accept that these guys are human beings and sometimes human beings make mistakes. That doesn’t make them a headcase.

    The faux-psychoanalysis from the Nats fanbase is really aggravating. Unless you’ve personally evaluated them, lay off pretending to know what is or isn’t in their heads.

    • jd - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      +100

    • Eugene in Oregon - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      Exactly; well said.

  25. Eric - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    I agree devising a full blown psych chart about any of these guys is a bit absurd from most (all?) of our vantage points; however, I do feel there are clearly situations where their minds interfere with their actions. It’s not exactly something you need to be a psychologist to observe nor a baseball player to understand.

    There’s an old song the GD cover called Jack-A-Roe (goes by many, many other names traditionally) that has a fairly simple but very fast-picked intro. I have played it correctly probably hundreds of times. One time, I botched it live. For months thereafter I just could *not* get it right live onstage unless I first turned my volume down and repeatedly played the intro until I stopped thinking about how to play as I actually played through it. This one example of more than a few (Dire Wolf and even Ripple are others).

    Problem with baseball is you can’t replicate the live experience and you can’t practice a bang bang play a few times between pitches. They work through these things on the fly.

    Obviously I can’t know if this is playing a role or, if it is, to what extent. But, in many cases the hallmarks of that dynamic are very clearly on display, imo. Of course, even if that diet if thing *is* coming in to play, that dues not by any means make them head cases, it makes them normal. And, experts in a given area that go through this sort of thing have tools to get through it and will. Desi’s done it repeatedly and I feel confident he will again.

    • Eric - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      “even if that diet if thing” = “even if that sort of thing.”

      Also, an example of how these things might be gotten past includes mechanics. For instance, part of how I solved the Jack-A-Roe intro mental block was when I noticed that starting the intro on an upstroke made it MUCH easier to transition to the second half of the intro line. This might translate to Desi, say, slightly tweaking his foot work when the ball is hit to him or as he prepares to throw to incrementally improve his chances of success on any given play.

  26. NatsLady - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    With great reluctance, I’m going tonight… I’m just NOT a cold-weather person, but gotta practice for October, right? At least it won’t be 31 degrees.

  27. chaz11963 - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    Check out Twitter #YouGotThisDesi

  28. secretwasianman - Apr 18, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Usually I turn on game at 7 15 and we are down 3 -0. Tonight I’m tuning in early.

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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)...

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