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Williams unsure of Nats’ needs

Jul 19, 2014, 5:36 PM EST

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With the 2014 MLB trade deadline just 12 days away, the Nationals are weighing their options as usual. They are currently in second place and in theory could use improvement, but what exactly they could use is the question.

Much of the first half of their season was affected by injuries and now at full health, finding a weakness on their roster is no easy task. Their pitching staff as a whole ranks first in the majors with a 3.09 ERA. Both their rotation (3.30) and bullpen (2.65) place third, respectively.

The Nats’ offense is 15th in runs scored this year, but five of their regulars have spent time on the DL. Having everybody healthy enough to get an accurate read on their capabilities has been difficult.

Basically, the Nats could probably use something, but what that is is not clear. Matt Williams talked about the deadline on Saturday and explained that conundrum:

“I think it’s important to say that you don’t want to do a deal just to do a deal. If Mike’s got something or somebody’s out there that could be a difference maker for us, that’s another thing. But to just do something because doesn’t make any sense. In a situation like that you’d be certainly losing some depth in your organization and it’s gotta be worth it for you this year. We’re continuing to talk about things, nothing that’s imminent for sure. What do we need? I don’t know. We’ve got multiple guys that play multiple positions, so we’ve got a backup of strength and longevity and depth, all of that. Our starters have been good, you’ve got five guys in there that have been really good all year. Our bullpen has been fantastic, so you don’t look at a glaring need there either. Who knows what will happen in the next couple of weeks, but right now it would have to be a huge difference maker for our ballclub I think for everybody to be interested.”

The 2014 MLB trade deadline is on July 31.

  1. micksback1 - Jul 19, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    It pains me to say, Nats really need a 1st baseman with the ability to hit with RISP. I believe ALR has deteriorated and his peek was early June. he looks terrible and is an automatic out, that will not change. So, Nats will have to sacrifice some defense at first to get some power. An idea I had would be to move R Zim to first, Rendon back at 3rd and go with Frandsen at 2b. If nats can get a good hitting second baseman, then this would be solved by moving Rzim to 1st. I really believe ALR is done. One more BP closer and as I posted before, depending on Roark’s performances from now until in August 1, perhaps nats might want another starter. a back up catcher would also be nice.

    Big need is filling the slot for ALR

    • Section 222 - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:01 AM

      I’ll repeat my question from your earlier post on this — does this mean that Harper is now out of your doghouse? Wonder how long this jihad against ALR will last. Who’s next for the “he must be replaced now” treatment?

    • NatsNut - Jul 20, 2014 at 5:57 AM

      Yes, it will change. With all due respect, are you sure you have been watching the Washington Nationals? 😉

      micksback1 – Jul 19, 2014 at 5:43 PM
      I believe ALR has deteriorated and his peek was early June. he looks terrible and is an automatic out, that will not change.

  2. edshelton2013 - Jul 19, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    I wouldn’t give up on ALR that quickly. He’s been a notorious streak hitter his whole career. He’ll come around.
    I do agree that he’ll be gone when his contract expires. The only obvious position for RZimm is 1B next year.
    If someone desperately needs a 1B before the deadline, Rizzo would be smart to move ALR. Over the winter, he’ll find a 2B with Rendon moving to 3B.

    Re: other moves, I have to believe Rizzo is looking for a bench bat to replace Hairston. We’re stuck with his McLouth signing through next year. I’d also dump Lobaton and bring up Leon or Solano.

    • micksback1 - Jul 19, 2014 at 6:02 PM

      that makes sense, although I think McClouth can still help this team

  3. philipd763 - Jul 19, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    If Williams doesn’t know what he needs, I will tell him: 1) A couple of clutch hitters, and 2) bench players who are productive. If Rizzo was half as interested in developing the offense as he is in accumulating pitching prospects in need of TJ surgery, the Nats would be a power house.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 19, 2014 at 6:42 PM

      Clutch hitting is part of the approach. I consider anyone who hits above their season average in clutch spots is hitting clutch and those doing it late in the game. You don’t find clutch hitters as easily as you think and I put up a list the other day. Nats have quite a few clutch performers. It’s a law if averages on hits and productive outs count also.

      Your #2 is the most pressing need as the Nats can’t endure that poor of production getting into August. Rizzo and Matty know it. They think it’s a secret I guess.

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 19, 2014 at 6:35 PM

    “Williams unsure of Nats’ needs”

    No, he’s not going to tell us. He can’t be happy with this unproductive bench. 2 more pinch-hit outs last night. Sure, play the law averages, eventually one will fall in.

    Advice to these guys, stop walking into the box swinging for 450, swing for 150 with a good approach.

  5. knoxvillenat - Jul 19, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    Hairston needs the Uggla treatment. And Espinosa needs a new address but that probably won’t happen until the offseason at the earliest.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 19, 2014 at 7:01 PM

      Knox, Espi truly needs to be replaced and sent to AAA and learn how to hit again. He can come back on Sept 1st.

      In the meantime that duo of Hairston and Espi are adding nothing offensively. The other bench players aren’t either but McLouths contract is too large to cut him loose and he’s the 4th outfielder and Frandsen is the team’s best pinchhitter but that’s not saying much as he’s only the best of one the worst benches in baseball.

      • Section 222 - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:04 AM

        I thought they sent Espi to AAA last year to learn to hit again. Doesn’t seem to work. When was the last time Espi had an AB. Seems like MW is so grateful not to have to start him anymore that he’s forgotten about him.

        I agree that the Nats need is the bench. The Hairston experiment has run its course.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        In all fairness, the entire bench stinks. Frandsen hasn’t had a pinch-hit since June 27th and it was during a blowout loss. When was his last Hi Lev pinch-hit? It was May 12th with his HR vs Arizona and he hasn’t been the same since.

        Espi’s last hit was June 22nd.

      • Section 222 - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:45 AM

        Totally agree. Pathetic. Unfortunately, odds are that Rizzo sits tight. And of course, there are no guarantees that the next guy will be any better than what we have. McLouth seemed like a pretty good signing last winter, remember.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 20, 2014 at 11:02 AM

        2’s, I had McLouth as a top 3 pickup but was shocked that Rizzo went 2 years. Makes him no way to dump him.

        Where is this McLouth magic that was witnessed dozens of times last year?

        McLouth, Lobaton, and Frandsen aren’t going anywhere.

        I don’t know what you do with Espinosa. I know what you do with Hairston.

  6. edshelton2013 - Jul 19, 2014 at 7:09 PM

    Memo to Chase:
    Not sure this title is fair to MW: “MW UNSURE OF NATS’ NEEDS”. Reading his comments, they’re all positive.
    I guess you could read between the lines re: the bench which he doesn’t mention.

    He does basically say that if Rizzo has a “difference maker” out there, go for it. It seems clear he likes all his postion players.

  7. coollikelivo - Jul 19, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    Our problem is that we have two main categories of fielders: (1) potential studs who for various reasons have not reached their full potential yet in their careers, such as Rendon, Desi, Ramos, Harper, but because they still have good prospects for improvement you just don’t want to replace, and (2) formerly proven studs who are underperforming so far this year and might or might not turn it around down the stretch (Werth, RZim, Span (I know, debatable if he was ever a stud)), and in trading these guys you also run a high risk of missing a stretch run streak by gambling on an outsider coming in and not suffering from the disruption of a trade and not affecting existing team chemistry (even if they are great guys). That leaves 2 outliers — Espi, who is essentially a low/no value trade bait, and ALR, who is, I think (without having compared detailed stats), having a slightly above-average year for him (leaving aside his DL stint).

    So what DO you do???

    Trade a pitcher or ALR for a 2B and cut/trade Espi. In the first case, Zim goes back to left field, in the second, he goes to 1B. If any trade happens, I predict it will be one of those scenarios.

  8. therealjohnc - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:46 AM

    You know it’s just foolish to say that “[t]he Nats’ offense is 15th in runs scored this year” without a vital bit of context: they play in the NL (no DH), so they are 15th with their pitchers batting. They sound mediocre but hopeful when you say they are 15th in the league in runs scored but that is with five regulars missing significant time early in the season.

    When you stop and realize that is five of eight regulars, not nine as AL teams have, and that the Nationals are actually 5th of 15 NL teams in runs scored going. And after tonight’s games they will move to 3rd of 15 teams in the NL, increasing to 4.17 r/g while the Marlins drop to 4.16 and the Dodgers to 4.12 (if my calculations are correct).

    That’s right, as of tonight the Nationals are third of 15 teams in the NL in runs scored.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:47 AM

      Sorry, dropped a line there; it should have been “5th of 15 NL teams in runs scored going into today’s games.”

    • Sonny G 10 - Jul 20, 2014 at 11:32 AM

      Excellent reminders John.

  9. Sonny G 10 - Jul 20, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    I don’t believe Espi is going out of the organization until the Nats have a potential replacement for Ian Desmond at short stop. He could go back to AAA, but I don’t think he will be traded unless we get a potential short stop. I think there is a good chance we lose Ian Desmond when his contract runs out.





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