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MLB Power Rankings: Nats trending up

Jul 25, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Here are this week’s MLB Power Rankings featuring thoughts on each team from Mark Zuckerman, Chase Hughes and myself, Steve Roney:

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1. Oakland Athletics (LW: 1) – Hughes: It’s hard to find a weakness with this team right now. Maybe their stadium, but that’s it.

2. Los Angeles Angels (LW: 2) – Hughes: L.A. now has the highest scoring offense in baseball. Something tells me they catch up to the A’s before it’s all said and done.

3. Detroit Tigers (LW: 3) – Zuckerman: Justin Verlander’s 4.84 ERA is a full run worse than anybody else in Detroit’s rotation. Bizarre.

4. San Francisco Giants (LW: 5) – Hughes: Dan Uggla fits a need, but I’m not sure that guy has anything left. His drop-off was a remarkable one.

5. Washington Nationals (LW 7) – Roney: Did Ryan Zimmerman’s hamstring strain create a need to add an infielder, or solve those “where does everyone play?” issues from a few weeks ago? I’d be inclined to let it ride with Espinosa/Walters, and focus on the bullpen (Andrew Miller, please?).

6. Milwaukee Brewers (LW: 9) – Zuckerman: Pretty amazing that a team with a first base platoon of Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds leads its division.

7. Baltimore Orioles (LW: 6) – Roney: Chris Tillman has been more Hyde than Jekyll this year, but if they take the East, I think it will be thanks to a gloves-off Gausman down the stretch.

8. Atlanta Braves (LW: 8) – Roney: ‘Braves release Dan Uggla’, said another way: ‘Anchors aweigh.’ Give them back Omar Infante in his place and they lead the East.

9. Los Angeles Dodgers (LW: 4) – Hughes: The decision to either keep Matt Kemp for the pennant race, or to trade him, is a tough one.

10. St. Louis Cardinals (LW: 10) – Zuckerman: Second-to-last in NL in runs, last in homers. They need to find some offensive punch somewhere.

11. Pittsburgh Pirates (LW: 13) – Zuckerman: Quietly inching their way up the NL Central standings, determined to be in this race again.

12. Seattle Mariners (LW: 11) – Hughes: Does Mike Rizzo get credit for seeing something in Chris Young? The veteran is 8-6 with a 3.22 ERA this year through 117 1/3 innings.

13. Toronto Blue Jays (LW: 14) – Roney: Quietly contributing to the tune of .279/.333 at 2B this year is Munenori Kawasaki, who has more fun playing baseball than anyone on the planet. Love to see him doing well.

14. New York Yankees (LW: 16) – Roney: And just like that, Chase Headley walks off in his first game sans facial hair. How do the Yankees always manage to squeeze at least a little water from the veteran rocks they always pick up?

15. Cincinnati Reds (LW: 12) – Zuckerman: The absences of Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips are starting to show.

16. Cleveland Indians (LW: 17) – Zuckerman: Michael Brantley: AL MVP candidate. No, really.

17. Kansas City Royals (LW: 15) – Zuckerman: Can’t figure these guys out. Every time they appear to surge, they come crashing back down.

18. Tampa Bay Rays (LW: 22) – Roney: It’s been written about extensively, but Joe Maddon and his defensive shifts have really put the clamp down on offense – much more than many realize.

19. New York Mets (LW: 18) – Roney: Jacob deGrom is less-heralded than at least four other young Mets starters, but he’s put together a really great rookie campaign so far (4-5, 3.01, 8.8 K/9).

20. Miami Marlins (LW: 19) – Roney: Had he not exhausted his rookie status last year, Christian Yelich would have a good ROY case in a relatively weak NL field this year: (.282/.360/.430, 12 SB).

21. Boston Red Sox (LW: 23) – Roney: Call on the kids – and boy, does Boston have a bevy. I’m excited to see what Christian Vazquez has to offer at the plate (he’s already a boss behind it).

22. Chicago White Sox (LW: 20) – Zuckerman: Good to see Adam Dunn is back to his old self: .227 batting average, .364 on-base percentage.

23. Minnesota Twins (LW: 21) – Zuckerman: Brian Dozier is the only guy on the roster who has reached double digits in homers.

24. San Diego Padres (LW: 25) – Hughes: Chase Headley was arguably the best third baseman in the NL two years ago, can he revive his career in New York?

25. Arizona Diamondbacks (LW: 29) – Hughes: It’s hard to win when your starting rotation has a collective ERA of 4.55.

26. Philadelphia Phillies (LW: 24) – Roney: “Oh my god! We’re having a fire…sale.” Somehow, Ruben Amaro still hasn’t spoken these words. It’s arrested development in Philly.

27. Houston Astros (LW: 28) – Hughes: First they can’t sign their first overall pick, then George Springer goes on the DL. Tough month for the ‘Stros.

28. Chicago Cubs (LW: 27) – Zuckerman: Edwin Jackson: 5-10, 5.61 ERA. In the 2nd year of a 4-year, $52 million contract.

29. Colorado Rockies (LW: 26) – Hughes: Now Troy Tulowitzki and Justin Morneau are on the DL. Another tough year in Denver.

30. Texas Rangers (LW: 30) – Hughes: Crazy to think that just three years ago they were in their second consecutive World Series.

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  1. natsjackinfl - Jul 25, 2014 at 6:24 AM

    I’ll take Adrian Beltre for a rental. Please?!!!???!!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:23 AM

      Not sure if you saw my post yesterday, Smoltz predicted this trade but as part of a 3 team deal.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:41 AM

        Pretty crazy deal tho, wasn’t it? Nats send ALR to Pittsburgh.

        So Nats fill one hole by creating another?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:43 AM

        Exactly. And none of the other 2 on the MLB Network desk even questioned him.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:31 AM

      Too expensive? He is under control for one more season and his option for 2016 may vest given his track record.

      • bowdenball - Jul 25, 2014 at 8:21 AM

        “Too expensive” is a weird thing to ask about Beltre because suggests that he’s not very good. He’s really good. He has a higher OPS than any Nats starter right now- it’s not even all that close- and he’s still an above-average fielder despite his age. He’s a steal at his current salary. The Nats would be lucky to have him for $16 million next year. Maybe you mean too expensive in terms of prospects it would take to make the deal?

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:51 PM

        Yes, I meant as dealing prospects.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:51 PM

        Yes, I meant as dealing prospects.

  2. ArVAFan - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:01 AM

    Some unrelated thoughts:

    1. Thinking ahead to tonight’s game: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/was/doug-fister-emerging-as-critical-component-to-nationals?ymd=20140724&content_id=86077330&vkey=news_was

    “Roark is a beneficiary of Fister’s inadvertent teachings, the result of the duo’s insistent eagerness to discuss baseball. With another Nats pitcher on the mound, Roark said he sits next to Fister and asks him what pitch he would have thrown in a given situation. Most importantly, Roark watches intently when Fister is on the mound.

    “We talk a lot,” Roark said. “Just pick his brain and learn from him.””

    Keep it up Roark–this can only lead to good things.

    2. The Padres were not playing well at all on Tuesday night against the Cubs (sloppy fielding, inept hitting, lost 6-0). Apparently it was just jet lag, because they then proceeded to pound the Cubs 8-3 and 13-3. May they save some of that mojo for their next homestand against Atlanta.

    3. Speaking of Atlanta, apparently losing 3 of 4 at home to Miami causes your postseason probabilities to decline from 65% to 55% per Baseball Prospectus. Awwwwww . . . . . NOT! Their LoD must be in overdrive.

    • laddieblahblah - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:40 AM

      Thanks for that link. Fister said that he did not intend to become an older mentor to the Nats young staff when he was acquired, as I recall. So much for that. That is some back end the Nats have, in those two.

      Watched the Atlanta game last night. The Nats have no business losing to that team.

      They are so bad they have jettisoned their grossly overpaid former 2nd baseman, and now are reportedly eager to depart with their grossly overpaid center fielder. So glad Rizzo got Span, instead of BJ. It’s clear, by now, that Heywood was over-hyped. He is a terrific defender, but is an erratic hitter whom the league has figured out.

      Not sure what has happened to Gattis. Maybe he is still rusty from the DL and his bat will come back. Freddie is not as consistent as last year. The offense has just not been able to score, all year long. It’s not a slump – it’s who they are.

      They have been very unfortunate with their rotation, which cannot now compare to what the Nats have, because of all those injuries. Their pen is still a strength, but can now be beaten. Even the lowly Marlins put a loss on their once invincible closer.

      Of the teams rated ahead of them in the power rankings, the Nats have dominated the Giants and split with the Halos, and have the best record in the NL.

      “8. Atlanta Braves (LW: 8) – Roney: ‘Braves release Dan Uggla’, said another way: ‘Anchors aweigh.’ Give them back Omar Infante in his place and they lead the East.”

      I hope that is a joke, because its pretty funny. Estrella is doing the job just fine for them, as it is, and he hasn’t stopped their slide into mediocrity. The Nats are the only team in the NL East whom they dominate (7 – 3), and that is mostly due to the Nats poor play against them. No way those Braves should beat the Nats 70% of the time, on the merits. They are playing barely better than .500 ball against everyone else. They are a middle of the pack team, without that gaudy win-loss record against the Nats.

      The Braves can thank the Nats for being so over-rated.

      • coollikelivo - Jul 25, 2014 at 8:32 AM

        Laddie — you might want to reconsider your “back end” of the order thinking.

        Per ERA:

        Roark 2.91
        Fister 2.92
        JZimm 3.20
        Stras 3.67
        Gio 3.74

        Per W/L:

        Fister 9-2
        Roark 9-6
        JZimm 6-5
        Gio 6-5
        Stras 7-8

        If you believe in FIP as the be-all/end-all stat then you get the result you want:

        Stras 2.84
        JZimm 2.91
        Gio 3.28
        Roark also 3.28 (weird, huh?)
        Fister 4.03

        But none of these stats account for what you see with your own eyes: Stras is still immature and slow to get into a groove during a game, tires too early, and just doesn’t show the killer instinct he seemingly used to have. Gio has let his erratic side show too much this year. JZimm has been solid, but Roark and Fister are the ice-blood get-it-done, don’t get rattled, clutch performers so far this year.

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 25, 2014 at 8:53 AM

        “Laddie — you might want to reconsider your “back end” of the order thinking.”

        It doesn’t matter what you or I think. That’s what the Nats think.

        I think people are forgetting that Stras had his second elbow operation in 3 years during the winter, and that Gio’s command problems were amplified by what they called shoulder “tightness.” As Stras recovers his strength and velocity, and as Gio recovers his command, they will perform up to their respective billings as top of the rotation guys.

        I think that’s what the Nats think, and they are probably right. We’ll just have to see. I like all of them, for sure. They are the best starting rotation in baseball, IMO, even with the problems that Stras and Gio have had in recent games.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:12 AM

        coollikelivo

        Appreciate the #s, but these “who’s #1?” debates are just an invitation to promote one guy by bashing another.

        And at this point in the season, they have no real meaning or purpose anyway–each guy has his spot, and pitches as the rotation turns over. You might as well as debate “who’s #1″ on a merry go round.

      • coollikelivo - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:16 AM

        Laddy– Understood that’s what the Nats think, but that makes for a short boring conversation…. :-)

        Fair points of course re injuries, but suppose Stras and Gio DO get back to their potential (as we all hope!). That does not mean Fister and Roark’s numbers will go down. And if they are all about equal on key stats, how do you sort them? Apparently by salary and draft pick number, which makes no objective sense….

      • bowdenball - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:11 AM

        Well put, laddie. The Braves run differential ranks 11th in baseball despite playing in a weak division. And their run differential is negative over the last three months: they were +27 on April 25 and are +20 today. I’d probably rank them around 12th or 13th right now. The only reason they’re a mere 1.5 games back is because they took 5 of 6 from the Nats three months ago and because the Nats have been unlucky in one run and extra inning games.

      • Steve - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:36 PM

        Over-simplification for sure, but I was referring to the relative value of each player. A glance at their bWAR numbers: Uggla has been worth -1.0 so far this year, while Infante has been worth 0.8 thus far for KC. Does swapping in Infante for Uggla mean that Atlanta and Washington definitely switch places in the standings? No. I’m just making a point about how terrible Dan Uggla has been at baseball for the past season and a half, and commenting that they’d be in better shape value-wise — this season — if they’d never traded for him and had Infante play in his stead.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:59 AM

      Thanks for that link. Exactly what you hoped for when the Nats pick up veteran crafty pitchers that they mentor as well.

    • tcostant - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:10 AM

      Roark is good at this, I either read last week he appoached Jzimm and he showed him how to the throw a pitch better and it now has more “bite”.

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:22 AM

    Absolutely not. He let him walk for free. Look how much value CYoung has now.

    “12. Seattle Mariners (LW: 11) – Hughes: Does Mike Rizzo get credit for seeing something in Chris Young? The veteran is 8-6 with a 3.22 ERA this year through 117 1/3 innings”

    • NatsLady - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:42 AM

      How could he not? Young wasn’t going to accept a minor-league assignment and there was no room for him in our rotation. Sometimes (a lot of times, it seems) the Nats are just the nest for pitchers to hatch, heal, and thrive.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:48 AM

        A few of us considered the possibility of Young as the #5 and Roark to the pen and TJord to AAA then you have the Fister injury which would have paved the way for Roark and Young to the rotation.

        Young looked incredibly good in ST and had a great April and May in Seattle.

    • laddieblahblah - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:56 AM

      Good thoughts last night on trade possibilities. I remember well your opinions on Headley from earlier this year, and on Coco, a couple of years ago, when Rizzo was looking for a center fielder.

      Most interesting speculation was about a deal with the Cubs for Starlin Castro. I certainly don’t know what Rizzo will do, but I am inclined to think he will go with Espinosa and Walters at 2nd rather than make a big splash at the trade deadline. He will certainly not overpay for a rental.

      Look at the Dodgers with Kemp, the Yanks with Texeira and ARod, the Braves with Uggla and BJ, the Phils with Howard, even the A’s with Johnson.

      The Nats are still the best team in the NL East, even without Zim. If Walters could hit .250 against righties, then Matt could platoon him with Espinosa, who is hitting around .270 against lefties. How much better than that could they do in a trade, and what would Mike have to give up to get it?

      This comment probably clinched a big deal at the deadline by Mike, probably for Castro. He always makes me look bad, every time I put in my 2 cents.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 8:07 AM

        Remember the “desperate” tag a rival GM threw on Riz 2 years ago.

        He never wants to be in that situation again.

        Castro solves the Nats issues if he has flexibility on a position change and not only this year but beyond as there is no real organizational depth even close at SS except Espi, but he is more filler than depth. Castro is signed to a 5 year extension plus 1 team option on a $8 mill AAV deal. That’s way below market. He steps up in clutch spots and as I showed in stats he crushes at NL East parks except for Atlanta.

      • rayvil01 - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:00 AM

        Does Walters play a decent 2nd base?I diddidn’t see much ST. But I read that Walters was shaky at Short.

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:02 AM

        Ghost, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you turned out to be right about Castro and the Nats. Everything you say about Castro makes sense.

        I just have no sense of what Rizzo is thinking, at all. I never do. I just know he will not overpay, and he will not jeopardize the long-term health of the team to solve a short-term problem. In this case, the short-term problem goes away when Zim comes back, whenever that might be.

        Even in that case, though, Castro makes sense if Rizzo can get him on favorable terms, as insurance if Desi opts for free agency and the kind of money the Phils paid Howard. I don’t think Rizzo will ever take that kind of chance, again, even for Desmond. He doesn’t have to. A slugging SS is a luxury, not a necessity. He will plug that hole, if he has to, when he has to. He doesn’t have to, now, but he may not pass up the opportunity if it makes sense to do it now.

        You have made that case.

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:11 AM

        Ray – “Does Walters play a decent 2nd base? I (didn’t) see much ST. But I read that Walters was shaky at Short.”

        He was, but Jack posted, some time back, that they are working Walters at 2nd, and that he was performing at an acceptable level, there. They have continued to play him at 2nd in AAA. It’s up to Matt, but I hope we get to see what he can do at 2nd this time around.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:14 AM

        rayvill Walters is better than Frandsen at 2nd but don’t expect Rendon or Espinosa type of defense every game out there. He has a plus arm, good range but almost clumsy footwork and his glovesmanship has been known to have some clank off. The great thing about 2nd vs SS is he doesnt have to rush which makes him more relaxed.

        Nats stuck with him much too long at SS. Just as I suggested during his stint in Arizona Fall League. 2nd base or LF.

        Still has to turn his BB/*K ratio around and increase that OBP to be viable at this level.

        What looked like a so/so trade for Jason Marquis, this kid still could prove me wrong although I was right from the start that he wasn’t going to play SS.

        My concern overall is when the league gets a scouting report on him, can he adjust? In the short term it’s adrenaline and the team’s don’t know how to pitch him.

      • rayvil01 - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        Thanks for the info and typo correct. (Darned phone)

        I was wondering. I know this is no solid basis but he looks too tall to me for a 2B. Sure would plug a gap if he could play well there.

      • Section 222 - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        I’m with you laddie. I like the idea of a trade for Castro, in only to end the Espi era, but I don’t think it will happen. Rizzo likes his guys, and isn’t all that interested in wheeling and dealing at the deadline.

      • zmunchkin - Jul 25, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        Castro? Really? I guy who loafs on the field and is well-known to have an attitude problem.

  4. NatsLady - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:44 AM

    Just doing research on Edwin Jackson for an injury report. Discovered this. He’s given up a NL-worst 73 earned runs (after last night’s disaster). Guess who’s given up an AL-worst 73 earned runs.

    Did you guess Justin Verlander?

    • laddieblahblah - Jul 25, 2014 at 8:04 AM

      “Did you guess Justin Verlander?”

      No.

      Heard someone on the MLB network say, the other day, “the only sure thing in baseball is that you never know.”

      You never do. Rizzo was accused of overpaying for Werth, and now that deal looks like a bargain, especially compared to Howard’s deal with Amaro and the Phils. Even Rizzo’s long-term deal with Zim looks iffy now, considering Ryan’s injury history, which is turning into something Steven King could have written..

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 8:09 AM

        No surprise about EJax but the Verlander thing is crazy and his team is still rolling.

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:04 AM

        And they lost Fister, too!

  5. edshelton2013 - Jul 25, 2014 at 8:39 AM

    Laddie:
    Totally agree re: Espinosa/Walters platoon at 2B. And long-term extensions, Werth’s looks good but RZimm questionable due to injuries.
    Do we really want to commit 6-7 years/$100m to Desmond and/or JZimm next year? Think what Rizzo could get in a trade for either.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 8:52 AM

      Desi may start regression in 3 to 4 years. Try to get 5 years or less with options.

    • laddieblahblah - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:05 AM

      My thinking, exactly, Ed. You are undoubtedly a genius!

    • tcostant - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      Yes on Desi contract, the farm is filled with pitching but not many MI.

      • nats1924 - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:19 AM

        at this point, i feel more comfortable giving ace $’s to JZim than Strasburg.

        With that being said, extend JZim. Look into trading Desi for a young SS, in the mean time play Espi at SS…and DO NOT give Stras any type of extension (unless it is team friendly – but of course that aint gonna happen)

      • natszee - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        Especially @ 2nd base. In the last four years the Nats drafted 87 pitchers … anybody want to guess at 2nd Base?

        SIX … No need there I guess

        SS? Seventeen!

      • tcostant - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:40 AM

        I agree also I rather have Jzimm over Stras too. Sign Desi this off season and try to get Jzim done too, know your not likely to get Stras down the road. By the time Harper is ready Werth’s contract will be up and will be rolling in the new MASN dollars…

      • bowdenball - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:39 AM

        OK this is just getting silly.

        Zimmermann is more than two years older than Strasburg, and when you’re talking extensions there’s a huge difference between 28/29 and 26/27. The idea that you’d want a 28/29 year old over a 26/27 year old who are even remotely comparable is positively bonkers. And Strasburg is more than just remotely comparable to Zimm. He’s got a lower career ERA, lower career ERA+, lower career WHIP, lower career FIP by far, and better career K/BB rate.

        Come on, folks. I understand you expect more of Strasburg given the hype, and I know he’s been a disappointment this year to some degree, and he vulnerable to the big inning this year (so has Zimm, but he always gets a pass from Nats fans for some reason). I get that stuff. But saying you’d prefer a post-peak Zimmermann to a peak Strasburg? Please.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        Those ratios aren’t really so out of whack when you think about the composition of an MLB roster, almost half of which consists of pitchers (5 starters, 7 in BP).

      • tcostant - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:23 PM

        Bowdenball who is being silly. It more than just age, ever pitcher is not the same. Stras because of his name value is going to command $25M per, by the time he a free agent, due to what you mention and “name value”. JZimm will get about 20% less than that – A HUGE difference.

      • bowdenball - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        tocostant-

        nats1924 said “he’d feel more comfortable giving ace $s to JZim than Strasburg.” You said you agreed. There’s no hedge there based on how much you expect each to command in free agency. That’s a straight up one to one comparison that assumes the same type of money for each and says that Zimm is preferable on such a deal.

        That’s what I said was bonkers. Adding the factor of market price to each totally changes the discussion.

      • tcostant - Jul 25, 2014 at 2:11 PM

        I signed up for paying Jzimm market value and not paying Stras market value. Once you get to $20M it’s “ace money” but not the same money.

      • bowdenball - Jul 25, 2014 at 2:27 PM

        tcostant-

        Appears we just crossed wires- I read the comment as I’d be more comfortable giving X contract to JZimm than giving Stras a similar deal. That, I think, is nutty.

        I disagree about Zimm over Stras unless the money is significantly different, simply because I think there’s a huge difference between age 26 and age 28 for a long term extension because there’s much less chance of a guy dropping off the cliff at age 32-33 than age 30-31. But that’s a polite disagreement, not a “you’ve gotta be kidding me” disagreement.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      You don’t necessarily re-sign them to huge extensions, but you don’t necessarily trade them either.

      Both look to be valuable when the club hopes to contend again in 2015. It doesn’t look the Nats can replace the current production of either from what it now has in the farm system.

      Could you do a trade (or other trades) that would replace their production?

      If not, play them out in 2015, make a QO at the end of the season, and wish them the best on the FA market.

      • nats1924 - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:26 AM

        Hiram — thats an awful idea. in return we’d only get draft picks that wouldnt help us till 2020 ?

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:48 AM

        nats1924

        It’s also an awful idea for a contending team to tank its chances by trading away key players when it can’t replace their production.

        Rizzo has to weigh that in the mix. What does he get in return for them? Can he do other trades or FA signings to replace their production?

        Because if not, playing them out through 2015 might be the least bad of the available options.

    • Section 222 - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      I doubt you get much for a one year rental on either. I still think Rizzo signs Desi to a friendlier contract than he could have gotten last winter, and lets JZnn walk. Both of those results are kind of dictated by our pipeline.

  6. nats1924 - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    big series for the curly w’s — If we can take this series, and with the braves fading a bit… it be nice to have separation in the division

    go nats!

  7. Joe Seamhead - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    I doubt that Rizzo will go after Beltre, or Prado because of the long term cost of getting either one of them.

    I’m looking forward to this series against the Reds.I’m sure glad that Ramos will be behind the plate to deal with Billy Hamilton’s baserunning abilities. Best to keep that lightning rod off the bases to begin with. Start times are 7,4,and 1 Sunday. Which one does Wilson sit out? My guess would be Sunday.

    Speaking of catchers, I agree that Gattis isn’t all that great.The way he often lazily lobs the ball back to the pitcher with runners on base leaves them wide open for a well timed delayed steal.

    • nats1924 - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:22 AM

      I cant stand Gattis…hes garbage

      he’ll be outta baseball in two years

    • jd - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:59 AM

      Joe,

      I am with you. There have been countless studies of the effects of deadline trades on contending teams. Suffice it to say that in an overwhelming majority of these trades the team making the ‘star’ acquisition did not get the anticipated benefit. I know there are examples where players such as Cliff Lee did make a big difference but the lesson is: buyer beware.

      I am not against finding someone to replace Espinosa at 2nd base with Zim out for an extended stretch as long as we don’t give away too much financially and prospect wise. I also am against making a move where the replacement player is not much better than Espinosa and the cost is high (Hill).

  8. sjm308 - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    Excellent info this morning Insiders, thanks for all the opinions.

    I think I am in the camp of Espinosa going as long as possible against both left & right handed pitchers. If he does not get his left handed numbers up, you then platoon with Walters but still have the advantage of Espinosa coming in for late innings as you did when Zimm was healthy.

    Both Beltre & Castro look tempting and I would not be upset with either depending on what we had to give up but there are few cases where that late trade actually made a difference. Another I can remember was Sabathia but I have a hard time remembering a position player stepping in (was Pence a late trade?).

    I keep waiting for the Braves starting pitching to fade and it honestly has not done so. That being said, we are in control of our own destiny right now and that is certainly better than last year. I have tried to stay fairly controlled after last year but if we win two of three from the Reds, I will be more than pleased. It just reinforces how long a season baseball has. Lots more ups and downs to come I guess.

    Go Nats!!

    • bowdenball - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      “… there are few cases where that late trade actually made a difference.”

      I disagree with this. Three of the last four World Series winners have gotten a big lift from a deadline trade. Peavy was very good down the stretch for the Red Sox and came up huge for them in Game 4 of the ALDS. Marco Scutaro turned a glaring weakness at 2B into a strength for the 2012 Giants. And of course everyone remembers the crazy story of 2010 NLCS MVP Cody Ross.

      I’d say it’s harder to find teams that have won it all without help from a late trade.

      • NatsLady - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        I agree with this. You have more than a month before you can bring up the minor-leaguers (and before Zim gets back). You need to cover that month and not lose ground. There is bound to be at least one more injury, and while I feel we have good depth in pitching (Treinen, maybe some others) and the outfield (Souza, for sure), I don’t feel as comfortable with the infield (and to some extent, the bullpen). It’s possible that Espinosa/Walters form an adequate platoon, but what happens if Rendon or Desi need a few days off? Very thin.

        We are also going to have to play those three extra games. We’ve played 99, the Barves have played 102 (and, yes, that’s the difference, in the LOSS column, which is a good thing).

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 25, 2014 at 12:06 PM

        “Marco Scutaro turned a glaring weakness at 2B into a strength for the 2012 Giants.”

        I remember that well, because I was hoping the Nats would pick him up, back then. But they never listen to me, anyway (the fools!), so I said nothing.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:51 AM

      sjm, in actuality the Barves starting pitching got back to reality. Remember when they were a staff 2.20 ERA in April and had 3 starters looking like Cy Young?

      The only one who’s pitching top of the rotation is Teheran. Santana is hanging in there and the other 3 have had bad and good days depending on the competition.

      • sjm308 - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:01 AM

        agree Ghost but you have to admit, the other 3 guys have done better then we thought they might.
        I am hoping we slowly but surely pull away as we get into the dog days

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that. I had the Barves finishing 3rd to the Marlins and if José Fernández doesn’t get injured, who knows.

        Right now it’s Chris Johnson who is carrying the Barves as Freeman is in a slump and if the Barves starters falter, their offense can’t score enough day to day consistently.

      • NatsLady - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:55 AM

        Our rotation and bullpen have also gotten “back to reality” and are only middle of the pack for the last 30 days. What’s been keeping us afloat is the offense. Stats/rankings and injuries are here.

    • Section 222 - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      What’s “as long as possible” in your view? Espi batted .167/.186/.262/.448 with 35 Ks (26.9%) in 130 PAs against RHPs last season. This year, 190/.249/.307/.556 with 79Ks (38.5%!!) in 205 PAs. These are not small sample sizes. He’s not going to get his numbers up. He’s just not. You can’t play a guy every day against RHPs who strikes out 4 out of 10 times. That’s just insane.

  9. Nats fool - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    I do think we need to make a trade for infield depth. I’m not confident we can win the division if Espi is an everyday player for an extended period. With Espi in, you have two players a pitcher can be confident will so. In addition, pitchers can play off Desi’s aggressiveness at the plate. It alters an opposing pitchers game plan. We need to take a little risk of overpaying now for depth in the next year or two, which is our window of opportunity.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      Still can’t trade away the future as RZim will be returning.

      Castro is a long-term acquisition where you can trade Espinosa as part of a package. Let the Cubs develop him.

      Beltre is a larger risk but gives more immediate return.

      Whoever takes less prospects is who I would trade for.

      I’ve pointed out the many positives and some caution flags with Castro and someone pointed out the upside is he has never played on a good team much like Chase Headley. Teams were able to pitch around Castro. That’s actually the strategy the Barves used this year. This lineup with the athleticism Castro would bring is off the charts. Castro’s road splits are better than RZims and his .292 RISP BA is a nice addition.

      Beltre brings a big bat and big OPS and could tilt this over the top in the best lineup in baseball.

      Get one of these 2 players now!

      • rayvil01 - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:13 AM

        Castro is my vote. Epstein is the opposite of Rizzo when it comes to pitchers vs position players in the system. Rizzo and Epstein are in position to help each other.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        Castro is my vote too because of the long-term impact especially if you can’t extend Desi, problem solved.

        Like I said .375 OBP this year vs Barves. Kills the ball in Marlins Park and Philly and NYM.

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 25, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        “Castro is my vote too because of the long-term impact especially if you can’t extend Desi, problem solved.”

        That is the part of the deal that would appeal the most to Rizzo, as long as he doesn’t have to mortgage more of the team’s future than the future that Castro would provide him with, in return. He would probably turn out to be a bargain as an alternative to Desi, plus he is younger. And, frankly, I still don’t like Desi’s tendency to strike out in so many key game situations.

        Very imaginative thinking there, Ghost. That’s one reason why I read this site.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 5:31 PM

        Laddie, thanks. I’m sure Rizzo is on it. The biggest hang-up to me would be Castro’s refusal to change positions. I don’t think that would be a given. If it were an issue, remind him of what ARod did when he came to the Yankees.

      • NatsLady - Jul 25, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        Beltre is my vote. The man is a HALL-of-FAMER, for crying in the beer! They don’t grow on trees! Pile up the prospects (other than Giolito) and get him here. Period.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 5:33 PM

        Beltre is a great replacement with RZim out, but what do you do when RZim returns? Send RZim to LF? Castro can probably play 2nd and 3rd as well as SS.

      • NatsLady - Jul 25, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        Beltre is also a phenomenal defender. Even at age 35 he is above average. He was on the DL with a quad for a couple of weeks in April, other than that, he’s healthy. Played 88 games and put up this line .322/.368/.512. Yes, he’s expensive, but he’s also eminently tradeable because there will be a dozen teams looking for RH power in November, you don’t think you can off-load a guy with one year on his contract (plus an option) that a team can get and put a QO on 2015 (or keep)?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 25, 2014 at 5:35 PM

        NatsLady, I would be fine with either player. When you look at both of these names, it would be a letdown to look at any other player unless your 3rd choice was Utley.

    • rayvil01 - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:17 AM

      They’re losing 2-1 and 3-2 games. Without Johnson they would be in a complete tail spin.

  10. tcostant - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    Are the playoff invoices on there way yet???

  11. natsbro - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    Nats line up since the all star break:

    Span .462/.517/.500 1 Double, 3 Walks, 2 SB, 4 R

    Rendon .172/.172/.207 1 Double, 1 SB, 4 R

    Werth .391/.440/.609 5 Doubles, 2 Walks, 2 RBI, 2 R

    LaRoche .217/.321/.348 1 HR, 4 Walks, 4 RBI, 4 R

    Zimm .368/.400/.579 1 HR, 1 Double, 1 Walk, 6 RBI, 5 R

    Harper .412/.524/.647 1 HR, 1 Double, 4 Walks, 1 RBI, 4 R

    Desmond .440/.462/.640 1 HR, 2 Doubles, 5 RBI, 4 R

    Ramos .412/.412/.412 6 RBI, 1 R

    Epinosa .300/.364/.700 1 Triple, 2 Doubles, 1 Walk, 2 RBI, 3 R

    Span has just been on fire. In fact his OBP this entire month is .423..It seems like he’s getting on base a lot in his first AB of the game too..which is huge.

    Rendon has cooled off since the ASB but with a .208 BABIP, look for him to hopefully start getting on base again. He is still great defensively and has not made an error since mid June.

    Werth is just raking. His line this entire month: .381/.473/.841 6 HR’s, 11 Doubles, 10 Walks, 21 RBI’s..straight video game numbers

    LaRoche is struggling at the plate but had a big 3 run bomb the another night to put us ahead. Also has not had an error since mid June (I think they ruled one against him the other day, but it was clearly on Lobaton)

    Zimm is a huge loss to this lineup, hopefully he can recover soon but I’m thinking a month at least.

    Harper with his new stance has done well, particularly in getting on base. Though I think a few of those are IBB’s. He needs to pick up where Zim left off in the 5 spot.

    Desmond had a hell of a series as we all know, and his line on the season is now: .256/.305/.446. He’s come a long way from late may/june when his averaged hovered around .220. And after 13 errors in the first 2 months of the season, he’s only had 2 in June/July.

    It appears Ramos is strictly hitting singles since the break, but can you complain with 6 RBI and a .412 average? (The answer is no, you can’t).

    In a small sample size (10 AB’s) Espinosa has done well. That was in a great hitters park though..lets see if he can keep in up as we travel to Cincinnati.

    Enjoy the series everyone…

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      They change the error call on ALR to it now being on the Loboton.

    • laddieblahblah - Jul 25, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      A lot of his recent success came from the right side. The Rox starters were all LH pitchers. With Expinosa, the splits are dramatic. If I had my druthers, we’d never see him against a RH pitcher.

  12. Joe Seamhead - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    Thank’s to “This Date in Washington Senators History” for these tidbits that happened on this date in years past:

    1918 – The Big Train is masterful yet again. Johnson allows only a single hit, a triple from George Sisler, in the first 11 frames of a 1-0, Nats win in 15 innings. In all, Johnson gives up only 4 hits to St. Louis.

    1970 – Howard goes deep for the 27th time this year in a 5-0 Senator whitewashing at California. Sens P Jim Shellenback holds the Halos to 2 scratch singles in the complete game shutout.

  13. Danny - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    I like the thinking regarding other commenters on Starlin Castro. My question is at what price would he cost. The Cubs have built a prospect powerhouse of position players. They need to eventually solve their pitching woes. Epstein would undoubtedly request Cole and/or Giolito no?

    • tcostant - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:46 AM

      No doubt one of them (likely Cole), nothing is free especial young All-Star SS under team control for a bunch of years, with a team friendly contract.

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:11 PM

        I’m not enthusiastic. Off-the-field issues.

      • jd - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:17 PM

        I’m not giving up Cole. He is just about ready and Zimmermann is only signed through next year. Top flight pitchers don’t grow on trees.

    • tcostant - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:26 PM

      I tend to agree not to give up Cole either, but the fact is another team would give up some similar…

  14. Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    from MLBTR:

    By Mark Polishuk [July 7, 2014 at 8:50am CDT]
    A member of the Mets organization described Starlin Castro as “a perfect match” for their club, John Harper of the New York Daily News reports. Addison Russell‘s acquisition makes the Cubs even deeper at shortstop and Castro seems like a logical trade candidate, while Harper feels the Mets have the young pitchers necessary to swing a deal. Harper suggests Zack Wheeler and a minor league leaguer could interest the Cubs.

    So if Wheeler + is right, then you might be talking Detwiler+ or Taylor Jordan+.

    But the Mets are probably not the only ones interested.
    (MLBTR again)

    By Steve Adams [July 18, 2014 at 3:44pm CDT]

    The Cubs are receiving some trade interest in Starlin Castro but don’t expect to trade him this month, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports 1. That lines up with a tweet from Newsday’s David Lennon earlier this week, when Lennon noted that Castro isn’t expected to be dealt in 2015, and the Cubs may slide him over to third base in 2015. That would be a surprise, given the organization’s wealth of third base prospects, although such a move would clear a spot for Javier Baez.

  15. Section 222 - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    Just wanted to repeat these numbers in case people aren’t reading the whole thread. Espi batted .167/.186/.262/.448 with 35 Ks (26.9%) in 130 PAs against RHPs last season. This year, he’s at 190/.249/.307/.556 with 79Ks (38.5%!!) in 205 PAs. These are not small sample sizes. He’s not going to get his numbers up. He’s just not. You can’t play a guy every day against RHPs who strikes out 4 out of 10 times. That’s just insane.

    It’s one week until the trading deadline. Walters should start at 2B and Rizzo should decide if he can play the position enough (and hit against RHP) to get 2/3 of the starts until Zim gets back. If not, it’s time to make a move if he can.

  16. letswin3 - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    I could be very happy with picking up Beltre, but I would be elated and optimistic with Castro. Would I be okay with sending Cole to the Cubs for Castro …. No, but I would do it. I’ve learned that in baseball you have to give something to get something, and Cole would fit that concept in this case. Epstein might even ask for an additional “throw in” too.

    Until then, give Walters the next several consecutive starts (against both lefties and righties) at second base. Who knows, it might just be his time to break out, and a game here and a game there just isn’t conducive to getting a shot ….. if we’re ahead by only a run in the late innings, MW could still insert Danny for defense.

  17. micksback1 - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    I think this is about right, even with Zim’s injury

  18. micksback1 - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    Ghost

    if you are around, what is your sense on a trade, if any and for whom, and what should Nats be willing to give up?

  19. micksback1 - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    Its Friday so don’t jump on me too much, but, I had a crazy thought, could anyone else see the Mets catching fire and moving ahead of the Braves?

    • secretwasianman - Jul 25, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      No mets stink. Nats have lost 6 straight Friday night games.

  20. secretwasianman - Jul 25, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    I hate Dem Os Hun. But they are better then the Nats.

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
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