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Depleted lineup comes up short in 3-0 loss

Jul 29, 2014, 11:55 PM EST

AP AP

MIAMI — When healthy, the Nationals lineup is something to behold, an 8-deep consortium of power, patience and potency that proved to be as effective an offensive group as there is in baseball.

But the moment one key guy goes down — or even worse, when two key guys go down as was the case Tuesday night — that lineup looks a whole lot less imposing and sees its production drop more than a little.

Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the Marlins was perhaps the starkest example of it. With Ryan Zimmerman on the disabled list with a strained hamstring and Jayson Werth on the bench with a sprained ankle, Nationals manager Matt Williams was forced to assemble a reconfigured lineup that bore little resemblance to the one that scored more runs than any other club through the first three weeks of July.

Adam LaRoche was suddenly hitting third, with Wilson Ramos in the cleanup spot. And Danny Espinosa and Nate McLouth (owners of a combined .200 batting average) brought up the rear in the 7 and 8 slots, leaving something of a black hole at the bottom of the lineup.

The end result was perhaps not surprising: The Nationals were shut out by Henderson Alvarez and a trio of Miami relievers, totaling five hits while going a collective 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Were the absences of Zimmerman and Werth particularly noticeable on this night?

“Not necessarily,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “Obviously those guys are really good, and this is no discredit to them, but that guy on the mound (Alvarez) is pretty good, too. I believe, and I think we all believe, that the guys that we have, whoever, 1-through-9 every day, give us a really good chance to win. We have a really deep roster. That guy just pitched a really good game today.”

Alvarez indeed pitched a gem — seven scoreless innings — but the Nationals had their opportunity to get to him early. Six batters into the game, Alvarez had issued three walks and a single and was visited by the Marlins’ pitching coach and trainer as Espinosa stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the second.

Espinosa immediately fell behind in the count 0-2, then struck out on a 2-2 low fastball, his 81st strikeout in only 212 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers this season.

McLouth stepped up next, and though he smoked a line drive to third base, Casey McGehee made a lunging catch (nearly pulling off a double play in the process). That left it up to Stephen Strasburg to deliver a clutch hit; the Nationals pitcher grounded out to second to close out the inning.

“We had him on the ropes,” Williams said. “It was early, and we didn’t get it done. That’s part of the game. That happens sometimes. It’s the first inning or it’s the last inning. You have opportunities, and you just have to keep creating them. We’ve come through in a lot of those situations. Tonight wasn’t the case.”

The Nationals wouldn’t get another opportunity until the sixth, when they got a leadoff double from Anthony Rendon but stranded him at third base. Then came another chance in the eighth, with two on, two out and Bryce Harper at the plate against left-handed reliever Mike Dunn in a 1-0 game.

Harper has hit lefties well this season (he was 15-for-45 with an .899 OPS entering that at-bat) and he immediately got what he thought was a good pitch to hit: a slider over the plate. But he popped it up to short, and so another scoring chance went down the drain.

“I just got under it a little bit,” Harper said. “If I catch it out front a little bit, it might be a different story. Dunner, he’s pretty good, dang good, throws about 95. I was sitting on a slider and got it, just missed it. Hopefully the next time I face him I can get him. Nothing I can do right now.”

One final opportunity came in the ninth. Trailing 3-0 now after Jerry Blevins and Aaron Barrett combined to allow two big insurance runs, the Nationals quickly got two men on base when Desmond singled and Espinosa took a pitch off his right arm. But McLouth struck out to cap an 0-for-4 night and Werth (pinch-hitting but unable to run if he reached base) flied out to right. Denard Span singled to keep the rally going and load the bases with two outs, but Rendon struck out to end the game and send the Nationals to their fourth loss in six games since Zimmerman landed on the DL.

The positive trend over this span? Nationals starting pitchers have allowed a scant five earned runs over their last 35 innings. Yet their record in those five games is 2-3 due in part to the lack of run support from a lineup that once again isn’t 100 percent healthy.

“It’s good that our pitchers are going out there, our starters, and giving us a chance every night to win,” Williams said. “Run support has been there, I think. Last night we scored six. It’s not a question of that. It’s a question of things not going the right way right now. We can change that tomorrow, though, and come ready to play.”

144 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. stoatva - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:09 AM

    What’s all this “depleted lineup ” excuse making? We already established in the last thread that they’re shell shocked, demoralized, and should probably be put on round the clock suicide watch! That’s the reason they lost, not because they were missing couple of silly players!

    Amirite?

    • tcostant - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:07 AM

      Bottom line Espinosa & McLouth can’t be in the same lineup, if Werth or another OF is out you must start someone else at 2B other than Espi. That bottom third of the lineuop is like facing the Mets of the late 70’s, you just can’t do that to the team.

    • adcwonk - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:12 AM

      ;-)

    • tcostant - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      Just heard on the radio that Zimm’s injury of the “Grade 3″ kind. We won’t see him playing ’til September, which will make it harder if later Sept, because most minors leagues will be over, so he won’t be able to rehab in games. I think the Nats will call about Hill now,

  2. stoatva - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:14 AM

    his 81st strikeout in only 212 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers this season.

    I don’t often say “I could do that” with regard to professional athletes, but darned if I don’t believe I could do that.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:28 AM

      You may believe it, but you’d probably K more like 200 times in 212 plate appearances. Unless you started bunting, in which case it would probably be only 125-150 or so. It’s hard to hit big league pitching.

      • stoatva - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:38 AM

        Also, I am 107 years old.

      • Section 222 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:47 AM

        Never having stood at the plate to face a MLB pitcher, I can’t say for sure, but I would guess it’s not easy to bunt MLB pitching either. :-) Maybe you’d K 190 times in 212 PAs.

  3. David Proctor - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:40 AM

    “Nationals third baseman/left fielder Ryan Zimmerman has been diagnosed with a Grade 3 hamstring strain, reports MLB.com’s Bill Ladson (via Twitter). That is the most severe form of hamstring strain, involving a tear of half or more of the muscle, and could shelve Zimmerman for a significant stretch.”

    • Danny - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:44 AM

      Not surprising. He may be shelved for the year.

    • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:46 AM

      Oh, now I have to go and repost on THIS thread (sigh).

      • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:53 AM

        Grrrrrrr, that went in the wrong place!!!

        That was in reply to stoatva…

        This news is so depressing. We’ll have to get Beltre, or at a minimum, Prado. And we’ll have to give up a lot. I don’t want to say one player could cost the season, but losing Zim will cost a lot, and it’s not as if we have such a big lead over Atlanta…(like, exactly none, at the moment I write this).

        Losing Zim the rest of the season is probably 1.5 to 2 wins, which could be the difference. Need a player who can give 1.5 to 2 WAR over two months, which is almost a 5 WAR player (over the season). Those are NOT easy to find.

        Danny, FWIW, is 0.2 WAR on the season, all of it baserunning and defense. He won’t cut it.

    • pchuck69 - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:33 AM

      Ladson’s is quoting “MLB sources”. How would they know?

      • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:14 AM

        Who knows how they know. People talk. But the best thing would be if Ladson’s wrong, y’know, for a change. ;)

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:42 AM

    Ladson saying RZim s Grade 3. Huh what?

  5. Danny - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:46 AM

    MLBTR just put up a post about Zim. Interesting they mention Texas has been scouting AAA Syracuse. Beltre may be in play.

    • David Proctor - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:48 AM

      Cole is our only impact talent at AAA. Everyone else is at AA or below

      • Danny - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:50 AM

        Yea DP. They will demand him. That is an extremely tough call on Rizzos part. Cole looks to be the real deal. I don’t see him paying up. Cole is J Zimm insurance.

      • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:56 AM

        Cole is probably not only JZimm insurance, he’s JZimm replacement. Also, imagine what Cole would feel like getting traded again. He didn’t thrive in the A’s system. He may not thrive outside our system. Really tough call. However, if he gives up Cole, so be it. Rizzo will find other pitchers, he always does.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:57 AM

        Hows about Souza?

      • David Proctor - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:58 AM

        I think highly of him but he’s not regarded as a top prospect. A bit old

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:00 AM

        I disagree. Still a prospect.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:58 AM

        TyMo too.

      • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:59 AM

        Souza’s not enough. I wouldn’t do it for Souza if I were Texas. You’d have to give them more than that. You might have to give them Cole and Souza because they can read Twitter…

      • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:02 AM

        I’ll throw in TyMo because he’s blocked but I doubt he’s much value unless they can coach him up.

      • natinalsgo - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:08 AM

        They aren’t doing that deal for just Souza. Probably Souza and a lower level prospect.

      • texnat1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        I don’t think the Rangers would do it for Cole and Souza alone. Beltre is still an elite talent and is the leader of that team. If they made that trade they are giving up on being competitive next year. I don’t think Cole and Souza alone are enough for that. They could get more from another team.

        I don’t think the Beltre thing will work out because Washington won’t give up what they will demand.

        A completely outside the box solution would be to trade Ryan Z for Beltre straight up. Texas could DH him.

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:59 AM

    Dodgers up 5-4

    • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:01 AM

      7-4. Kemp homered.

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:01 AM

    Dodgers up 7-4 on a Matt Kemp 2 run HR

    • Danny - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:01 AM

      I see the NIs are all watching the same channel.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:02 AM

        LOL, yes we are. This is fun!

      • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:03 AM

        I am going to get NO sleep tonight. And I have a very early appointment tomorrow. I’ll sleep on Thursday…

  8. Danny - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:01 AM

    Kemp homers again 7-4 Doyers.

  9. David Proctor - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:01 AM

    KEMP!

    • Danny - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:04 AM

      And the Braves face Kershaw and Greinke next two nights.

      • adcwonk - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:14 AM

        !!!! ;-) (is there an emoticon for “happy dance”?)

      • adcwonk - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:15 AM

        I meant to add: Brave pitching is pretty good — hitting not so much. So, them facing Greinke and Kershaw . . . . well, I just hope those two pitchers are both on their game

  10. Danny - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:03 AM

    Unfortunately our system is top heavy. If we want to make more than a marginal 2B-3B upgrade, we will likely have to bite the bullet on Cole. Giolito is as untouchable as it gets.

    • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:06 AM

      It’s top heavy and bottom-heavy. I think there is some real talent at the lowest levels. Too far away to interest other teams. But not as much as we need at high-A and AA to overwhelm Texas (or even Arizona)…

  11. natinalsgo - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:07 AM

    Ryan Z is like the house of cards. While Ladson is rarely right and we know Rizzo and MW aren’t discussing the extent of the injury, I’m not worrying about Ladson’s medical opinion.

  12. David Proctor - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:11 AM

    I’m not convinced Beltre is even available. The Rangers think they can compete next year. But if he was available, I’d give up a lot to get him. Not Giolito, but I’d give up Cole.

    • stoatva - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:13 AM

      I’ll bet when Rizzo says “Beltre” Texas says “Giolito.” I wouldn’t do it.

      • David Proctor - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:14 AM

        Giolito is untouchable.

      • Danny - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:15 AM

        Nonono way. It would be a tough decision for Rizzo if they would accept Cole as a headliner. If Beltre is even available of course.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:18 AM

      They are going to want 2 prospects. Probably one near ready to make an impact and another lower level.

      They could also be looking at Taylor Hill or Blake Treinen and even Taylor Jordan.

      There is plenty of talent between Nats AA and AAA.

      • David Proctor - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:19 AM

        Jordan is damaged goods right now. He hasn’t pitched in a long time due to “elbow soreness.”

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:21 AM

        So you say but some teams will still take a DL guy if they think his medicals look okay. Rizzo took a few of those like Ryan Mattheus.

  13. David Proctor - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:12 AM

    We could’ve had JP Howell if we were willing to pay a little bit more…

    • David Proctor - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:23 AM

      As I say that, he puts two left-handed Braves on base…

    • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:23 AM

      JP Howell??????? Maybe not today… he just got pulled. Put your faith in Kenley Jannsen.

  14. stoatva - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:12 AM

    Come back, Steve Lombardozzi! All is forgiven!

    • stoatva - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:17 AM

      8 game hitting streak during which he’s batting .387

  15. Danny - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:14 AM

    Chase Headley might have been worth taking a flyer on if the Yanks hadn’t snatched him up. They didn’t give up much to get him.

    • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:18 AM

      At the time he was available, we didn’t need him. Also, he was awful. For every 100 guys that you say could use a change of scenery, it works for maybe two. It’s early days yet. Hard to say if Headley will work for them in the long term. Look at what is going on with Boston and Stephen Drew. You want to pick up Drew, he’s practically free. No? But Drew is what Headley looked like a month before he went to NY. The Yankees were desparate.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:23 AM

        Really? That’s a shortsighted view. The bench stunk and he was available for near nothing.

      • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:24 AM

        So are you ready to take Drew? Same story as Headley.

      • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:32 AM

        You could also have had Darwin Barney, and a heckuva lot cheaper than Beltre, but some how Rizzo didn’t take him, either.

        Guys like Headley who have basically had one good year make me cautious. Not because I think they were on somethng, but because you don’t know how much motivation plays into it. When the “newness” wears off, a lot of these guys with talent turn back into shlubs because they don’t put in the effort, day in day out, year in year out. If you are going to take a veteran, take one with a track record, like Beltre, Prado, etc.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:20 AM

      Nats could have had him and cheap if Rizzo had the guts to do it weeks ago just to send Espi back to AAA that would have been fine.

      Funny thing is when I first mentioned Chase Headley last year, and again the off-season and several times this season, everyone was saying NO.

      • Danny - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:24 AM

        I would have joined in the “No” camp Ghost. Recent development though Headley would have been a cheap risk to take as a replacement.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:28 AM

        He was still a bench upgrade and he had some good underlying peripherals.

        You put a player who knows how to hit in a good lineup and you should get better results. That Padres lineup is miserable.

      • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:16 AM

        Well, I checked. Headley was 3.6 WAR in 2013 which wasn’t as bad as I thought, though he was terrible this season. Maybe he checked out, playing for the Pads. But he certainly didn’t look good and he’s not a bench player, so I still would not have voted for it before Zim went down.

      • dcwx61 - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:16 AM

        Of course, Headley would have been a huge upgrade to the bench….Is anyone satisfied with Espinosa/Walters as replacements for the inevitable injury…really ?

      • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:27 AM

        No, definitely NOT. Even though you don’t want to say one player could lose you the season, in this case it could, because one win could be the difference between WC and Division Title. That’s the marginal value, when you are right where the Nats are. Plus, Rendon or Desi could get hurt. We are VERY, VERY thin, and nothing major-league ready for infielders beyond Walters (if he even is major-league ready).

  16. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:22 AM

    Not a good inning by JP Howell.

  17. Danny - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:33 AM

    Zobrist would be my choice if the Rays are willing to play ball.

  18. Joe Seamhead - Jul 30, 2014 at 6:48 AM

    Went to sleep concerned about the Nats. Woke up to hell seemingly frozen over. 49 degrees on my front porch in July.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 30, 2014 at 6:50 AM

      Oh, yeah,and on top of that, the Nats are still in 1st place.

      • ArVAFan - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:04 AM

        May it stay that way (Nats in first and below 50 degrees in July on your porch!)

        GYFNG!

        Tanner, now would be a good time for another complete game. And while you’re at it, you can try being the winning run (see John Baker, Cubbies catcher, winning pitcher and winning run in the 16th last night).

      • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:17 AM

        I can’t believe I stayed up to watch the end of the Cubs game, but it was funny as all get-out, especially on Twitter and the Cubs’ announcers. Two lousy teams…

    • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:11 AM

      Yes, much discussion of this in yesterday’s threads. Gonna be some fireworks for sure.

      • water47 - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:21 AM

        NL,

        Saw that yesterday but Mark has been silent. I am hoping that is because he is doing additional research etc before posting a terrific article about this but after the HR broke the story yesterday and MLBtraderumors and others have done nice pieces on the subject. This is my go to place for Nats news but sometimes it is not as timely as others.

      • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:24 AM

        Yep, it’s my go-to place also. Mark’s got a lot of news to check out. I’m hoping he gets on the Zim Grade 3 hamstring report, and either confirms it or finds out it was exaggerated. Then the trade deadline. Plus the game stuff! We are lucky to have him, and for free!

    • natsfan1a - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:32 AM

      Perhaps the silence has something to do with the fact that Comcast is said to have been a candidate to purchase MASN rights at one point.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/2012/12/13/4ca6855a-4563-11e2-9648-a2c323a991d6_story.html

      • natsfan1a - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:33 AM

        Plus, there’s that whole MLB omerta thing…

      • water47 - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:50 AM

        natsfan1a,

        Possibly and that may be why the Hollywood Reporter broke the story. Someday, it might be fun to see who, has a buddy/college roommate etc) working at the Hollywood Reporter? Mark, Adam? Maybe it is the return of Chico Harlan… Yikes?

    • ArVAFan - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:20 AM

      Story up on WaPo. Can’t post link from my phone, sorry.

  19. water47 - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    On a roster issue, I think the Nats should go for it. Trade Cole (not Giolito) and others for Beltre. Rizzo has shown an ability to build/rebuild the minors. Beltre is a two year replacement at 3B and they have the parts to win it for the next two seasons. Yes, that might make this off-season tough and send LaRoche on his way after this season but a real chance at winning the WS would be worth it!

    • natsjackinfl - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:31 AM

      That’s been my feeling since I brought up Beltre around the same time MLB Network suggested a 3 team trad involving the Nats, Pirates and Rangers.

      Beltre lengthens the lineup and covers 2 years allowing Zimmerman to play first next year.

      I don’t hold much hope for seeing Ryan this season with his noted slow healing process and the difficulty in fixing a hamstring tear.

      • NatsLady - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:35 AM

        Beltre’s been my choice also. Maybe Martin Prado. I’d be leery of Zobrist only because it’s the Rays you are dealing with…

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:53 AM

        Im in the Zobrist boat myself…

        I also hope they address the BP… Hope Rizzo is making some calls as I think its fair to say that the Nats cant stand PAT. Seems we can deal with 1 big bat missing, but 2… Not so much, especially given how the bench has not been productive at all…

  20. natsjackinfl - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:35 AM

    Note to Ghost and his “cut the crap” remark to Mick.

    Mick has an extreme dislike for, in no particular order, Strasburg, Harper and Matt Williams.

  21. Nats fool - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:40 AM

    If we do overpay, then it is because Rizzo failed to recognize that Espi could not develop into an acceptable hitter. This is the price of underpaying earlier and having too much trust in prospects. There’s a fine line between playing for the now and developing for the future.

    • water47 - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:01 AM

      Alas, the goal is to win the WS and we sometimes forget that. I am always on the fence about whether it would be better to be the Barves and be in the Playoffs a lot with one championship or the Marlins with few chances but when they go for it they go for it. Sometimes it works out (1997 & 2003) and sometimes not 2012.

  22. Eric - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:43 AM

    Possible Grade 3 for Zim? That’s just awful news to wake up to. My understanding is that almost always requires surgery and~3 months of recovery.

    In any case, just awful, awful news.

    • water47 - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:55 AM

      Terrible news. Especially for a one of the best Nats players of all time. He is willing to sacrifice everything (his position, pride) to win it all. And now, he may not be able participate in the adventure. Get healthy and come back better than ever!

      • Eric - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:22 AM

        Zim missing the post season would be…horrible.

  23. nats128 - Jul 30, 2014 at 7:44 AM

    Wake up to Nats in 1st place. Thank you Dodgers. Some good comments. The quality of the bench is beyond pathetic. I to am sick of watching guys like Reed Johnson get pinch hits and the Nats fail time and time again. Yesterday it was some guy named Jayson Werth while the paid pinch hitters Frandsen and Hairston sat and watched.

    Like others if you get Beltre which you have to do it pushes a bench player back to the bench. Espinosa once again costs this team in the most critical of spots.

  24. bowdenball - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    Can’t believe you guys are giving Strasburg a pass. A true ace would have convinced Matt Williams not to start Espinosa against a right-hander, would’ve gotten a hit off a tough right-hander with the bases loaded in the second inning, would have repositioned Rendon so that he could snare Stanton’s line-drive in the 6th, and would have pitched the 8th inning. Horrible leadership from Stras, as usual.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:14 AM

      LOL!

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:32 AM

      Certain people will conveniently forget this performance. He was awesome. Sure he made 1 mistake to GSC but outside of that, he was lights out…

      I always think pitchers should be afforded the opportunity to make a mistake *snickers*

      But the offense let him down…

      And then of course Blevins come in and that was the cherry on top…

      We’ve got some outstanding performances from our SP rotation… which is so good to see.

      And thanks Dodgers, I fell asleep on the game after Freeman hit his 2 run HR.

  25. rmoore446 - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    NatsLady, looks like you did pull an all-nighter or something close to one.

  26. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    Early game today and I have 2 frickin meetings… ugh, I blocked that time out on my calendar but people still scheduled me for meetings… Ugh.

    • RPrecupjr - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      Ok, MrsB, I need a job like that where I can block out time for the day games. I have to surreptitiously watch MLB Gameday at my desk and flip to my actual work when someone walks by….which is far too frequent for my liking…and NEVER between innings.

      Maybe I should get a Nats Park usher to stand by and hold up one of those signs? ;)

  27. Joe Seamhead - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    I wonder if Jerry Blevins has any options? He supposedly wasn’t brought here to be a loogy, but he has reduced himself to being that, and is not exactly excelling at it.If he’s just going to be used a loogy then Cedeno would probably be a better choice.

    The dead weight on this roster is Hairston. He has to go. If Rizzo gets a Beltre, Prado,or a Hill, I still see Danny as a bench player, unless he is somehow involved in a trade. One problem with any of the guys mentioned in trade talks, other then what prospects would be traded, is whether the Lerners will take on any more salary. If reports of Ryan having a grade 3 hamstring issue are true, he’s done for the year. It’s obvious to all that reinforcements are going to have to come from somewhere if indeed the Nats are going to go the World Series this year. Any major trade will not come without great pain.

  28. Joe Seamhead - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    Twice the Nats have lost games in the last week with the possible winning run on base, or at the plate, with two outs, only to have the batter strike out to end the game. Add in Soriano’s meltdown and those were 3 games that should’ve/could’ve been won.

    Let’s do it today!

    GYFNG!!!

    • Smyrcok - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:28 AM

      This team has had trouble driving in runs with 2 outs for a long time. 2012 was the anomaly where everything was a 2 out rally. I’m not sure what changes need to be made but they were just awful strike outs.

      • bowdenball - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:45 AM

        I’m pretty sure this is not true. I can’t find it on fangraphs or baseball reference at the moment but I believe the Nats rank as good or better in RBIs with two outs as they do in RBIs overall (6th in the NL in total RBIs).

      • Smyrcok - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        @bowdenball, you’re right I did read they they have the same average with RISP as without. But you want your RISP average to be higher.

  29. #4 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    I was not in the “trade” camp but am beginning to waver. The one think I haven’t seen much discussion of is the fact with Beltre, Prado, or Hill they are taking on a $11-16 million per year contract through 2016. There was talk that the Lerners didn’t want to up payroll significantly, and I also wonder how that impacts their ability to sign JZim, Desi, etc. It’s amazing to think that the “window” may be closing, but perhaps it is time to go for it.

  30. jd - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    So hear is my take on Beltre. He is owed $18 mil for next year + almost half of that for this year and whatever the option buy out for the following year. It’s ok to take on that kind of salary for a player this good but it’s not ok to do that and give away top prospects as well. I would think long and hard about trading Cole, in a year from now if/when we can’t sign JZimm do we want the likes of Jason Marquis in our rotation or do we want a young stud like A.J. Cole? similarly if Stras walk away when he can wiouldn’t it be nice to have a Giolito to step in?

    IMO the thinking has to be: ‘is the team minus RZim good enough to win the division? (I think it is). In that case don’t make make any panic trades. By all means upgrade the pen (I think you take a small step by dropping Blevins and replacing him with Cedeno), upgrade the bench and if possible plug in the hole Espinosa creates but not over pay just yet, remember you have all of August to make upgrades.

    I think Martin Prado and Zobrist are reasonable targets and I think Souza, Tymo etc. should be the highest level of prospects we should trade for this purpose.

    • natsjackinfl - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:37 AM

      jd. Friedman would want a lot more than Souza and or Moore for Zobrist. And Rizzo has already traded Cole once, and for something I consider less than Beltre.

      I really don’t think Daniels will part with Beltre but it’s obvious that Rizzo has to do something. A serious bat is necessary to replace Zimmerman and the Lerner’s will have to pay up for somebody.

    • chaz11963 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:41 AM

      If we are All In for this year to win now, there needs to be a trade given Zim’s condition. I suspect it will not be easy to win the division with the current team minus Zim, and certainly hurts our post season chances. Any trade is going to hurt the future- but the future is now. I think we need to be willing to give up any prospects not named Giolito or Cole, due to ZNN’s likely departure and Stras’s future likely departure. You can’t keep planning for the future, at some point you have to go for it.

    • water47 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      jd,

      The Rangers are not a team that would dump a high performing high salary player for just money. You have to give to get and the cost something like Cole plus others. I remember the heartburn on the Gio trade but in the end that has worked out. Span deal has been better than fair for us. Now, not all trades work out.

      I think we all might take a championship this year and playoffs next year. Then a restart. Which may happen anyway. Desi and JZimm are looking for big money add to that Stras and Harps and it may be time to go for it!

  31. micksback1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    I watched the Dodgers-Braves last night, good news, Braves lost, bad news, Nats are not in the same league as Dodgers. I was wrong about Dodgers, they are probably the team to beat now and in October

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      The Nats are absolutely in the same league when they are playing their real lineup.

      You seem to sell the Nats short. Other fanbases know what the Nats have and while the last 2 games have been clusterf***s, prior to that the Nats were rolling.

      A trade for quality is a must. At this point it has to be Beltre, Castro or Utley and a real deal reliever like Ziegler.

      • micksback1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        not if it means losing a Gioloto

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:56 AM

        Rizzo isn’t that stupid. LOL. A trade is going to hurt, that’s for sure.

        Castro makes more sense since he’s so dollar controlled and long-term. His splits are better than Beltre and enough recent sample size.

        I can’t believe nobody is mentioning him. Beltre’s salary and age are an issue.

      • Eric - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM

        I didn’t agree with this until the news that Zim probably has a grade 3 strain. I can’t imagine that’s anything but season ending, including the full post season.

        If we don’t have a bat to replace Zim’s, it seems we’ll always be one injury away from averaging 3, 3.5 runs a game, and that will make for a very dicey run to end the season.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        Total tears with surgery can be 2 to 3 months but there is no indication that it’s anywhere that severe and Nats aren’t talking. Still holding out hope for beginning of September but that shouldnt change the plan as you aren’t going far with Danny. Last night was the slap of reality that the boy won’t change.

        Nats lack depth. Bench is awful.

      • bowdenball - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:02 AM

        Beltre is a steal at his current salary. and he’s only under contract for one more season- a season in which he would make only $4 million more than the qualifying offer to Adam LaRoche and would almost certainly out-produce LaRoche while allowing Zimmerman to move to 1B.

        His salary and his age are not problems at all. The problem is convincing the Rangers that they can’t compete next year, because they’re not gonna ship off their best hitter if they plan to compete.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:20 AM

        I’m glad you are so confident. What about the vesting option when he’s 37 for 2016.

      • bowdenball - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        If he stays healthy and productive enough for 600 plate appearances next year then I have no problem keeping him for 2016 at $2 million less than his 2015 salary.

        Obviously there’s some risk. There’s risk with every veteran you pick up to bolster your chances at the trade deadline. But Beltre is good enough to be worth the risk. It’s not some albatross deal like a Ryan Howard or something. He’s still an all-star caliber player on offense and defense and the deal only runs through 2015, or 2016 if he stays healthy and productive.

    • bowdenball - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      The Nats have outscored their opponents by 71 runs this year. The Dodgers have outscored their opponents by 58 runs. The Nats play a much more difficult schedule than the Dodgers- the NL East is clearly better than the NL West, and the AL West (the NL East interleague opponent) is clearly better than the AL Central (the NL West interleague opponent).

      That’s a lot of evidence suggesting that the Nats are not only in the same league as the Dodgers, they’ve actually been better than the Dodgers so far this year.

      Of course the shorter playoff rotations favor the Dodgers, who can start Kershaw and Greinke in the majority of the games instead of only 40% of them. So I think they’re the NL favorites too. Still, I think it’s a bit rash to watch one game and assume that a team with a similar record and a worse run differential than the Nats against a weaker schedule is clearly superior to the Nats.

      • micksback1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:52 AM

        LA’s pitching in post season is the significant difference

      • micksback1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        and also, Lester could be in dodger blue in a day or 2

    • jd - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:45 AM

      bowdenball,

      I completely agree with you that Beltre’s salary is not outrageous by any means, I’d sign him as a free agent for that as well but I wouldn’t do that and give away one of my top prospects as well.

      I also understand that Texas is not necessarily interested in trading him away but they have been scouting the Nats AAA team so there may be something there. As far as prospects I would stop at the Souza, TyMo level with Espi thrown in.

  32. micksback1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    I would not give up any prospect the caliber of a Gioloto. Go with what we have. The worst thing Rizzo could do is mortgage the next 10 years down the road to take an all or nothing shot. Yes, Espi SUCKS, we know that and the bench is a collection of garbage. But, Rizzo has to be smart, all his work goes down the tubes with a stupid trade.

    Off season, he really has to make some cold hard decisions that could be very beneficial for the next decade, if that means trading one of our aces for a stud young player, or Desmond, then it might be the missing link

  33. micksback1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    let try again on Zim, yes he has a no trade clause, he of course could always agree to a trade.

    he is a great hitter a great player whose body is now old in MLB terms. Injuries to pecs, shoulder and now hamstring over past 3 seasons. why not trade him to AL team where he would have a reduced injury risk and flourish and nats could pick up a stud or two?

    • stoatva - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      Among other things, the fact that Zim’s latest injury came while running to first probably won’t sit well with potential AL suitors.

      • micksback1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:08 AM

        But, he runs a significantly less risk of injury as a DH. There would be no worries about his throwing, etc..

      • stoatva - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:11 AM

        I take your point. I’d prefer to see the Nats give him a full shot at first next year, personally. If that doesn’t work either then it’s time to cut losses.

  34. micksback1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Look, i want Zim as part of a championship team, he deserves it and is the face of Nats. But, life is unfair and it may mean trading the face of the franchise in order to run to glory. Ask sonny Jurgensen, face of the Redskins, who deserved a championship more than any Redskin but it never happen

    • Section 222 - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:26 AM

      No one is going to give us anything of great value for Zim in his current condition. And he has a no trade clause. We’re stuck with him.

      • bowdenball - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:33 AM

        Yup. Is the idea is to move him to the AL so he can DH he’s basically valueless. DHs don’t get paid the big bucks because they only help you on one side of the ball and a full-time DH kills your lineup flexibility. David Ortiz makes less than Ryan Zimmerman. The trade return would be basically nothing.

      • jd - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        Not only that. I think it’s pretty evident what missing Zim does to our lineup. His injury is much more damaging to our cause than what fans think.

  35. micksback1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    stova

    I agree with you

  36. water47 - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    Hmmm…micksback1

    Here are players I would trade for Giolito right now

    1) Jose Abreu
    2) Jose Altuve
    3) Adrian Beltre
    4) Giancarlo Stanton
    5) Edwin Encarnacion

    All of these have performed and play everyday

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:40 AM

      Giancarlo with an extension in hand is the only one I would.

      • jd - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        Ghost,

        Absolutely. Of course if the Angels dangle Trout?

        LOL

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:59 AM

        Yes!

  37. Section 222 - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    I haven’t read all the comments on this thread yet (over 100 by 9 am, whew!), and I’m sure I’ll be new posted momentarily with the Zim news yet to be addressed by Mark, but the next few days are going to tell us a lot about Rizzo and the Lerners. Last year at the All Star break, I argued that the Nats should look for a starting pitcher because Haren and Det were not reliable and we couldn’t muddle through with our rotation if we wanted to catch the Braves. I wasn’t blasted, rebuked, or ridiculed, but lots of people disagreed, content to stand pat and unwilling to “mortgage the future”.” We all know what happened. Not to say things would have been different if Rizzo was willing to make a move. But standing pat (well, except for that gutsy move of signing Scott Hairston) didn’t bring about the desired outcome. We were pretty much dead in the water by the trading deadline, and definitely after the first two weeks in August.

    This year, the prevailing attitude amongst us fans is that something needs to be done. We’re in first place with a very good chance of winning the East. We have a rotation that lines up very well for a post season run. But the weaknesses in the pen and at 2B are so obvious even a caveman can see it. If Rizzo doesn’t do something, it seems pretty clear there is no circumstance under which he will want to improve the team mid season in order to try to win.

    For several weeks I’ve thought that’s where we were headed. Recent events have only made it clearer that what this team looks like on Friday morning is a clear sign of the approach of our GM and our ownership.

    • jd - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:34 AM

      Deuces,

      I agree with a lot of what you say but I think that tomorrow is an artificial deadline and you can make pretty much any deal after July 31st. I am pretty sure that the big Red Sox to Dodgers trade a couple of years ago happened after July 31st. For the most part teams won’t block a trade for fear of getting stuck with a salary they won’t take on. Also players can be pulled back from waivers if someone tries to block a trade.

      I do agree with you that Espi at 2nd against any righty is no longer acceptable. I don’t really understand why Walters isn’t getting a full shot. I am pretty sure he won’t be as bad as Espi at the plate.

      I also don’t understand why MW insists on using Blevins in key game situations and not strictly as a LOOGY. Again I am pretty sure Cedeno is better than Blevins.

      • 6ID20 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:09 AM

        Matt Williams is apparently not a member of the cult of the LOOGY. He will bring in a lefty to face a lefty, but has he ever brought in a lefty to get just one guy and then pulled him. I can’t recall one instance of that. Maybe when the lefty came in to get the last out of an inning, but that’s it.

        Likewise Rizzo would not seem to be a LOOGY guy. Have the Nats even had a true LOOGY on the roster since Ray King?

      • Section 222 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:38 AM

        Good point on July 31 being arbitrary. Although the situation is dire enough if Zim is out for the season to make a move now necessary, and it gets marginally more difficult to make a trade because of the games that can be played with the waiver wire.

        I don’t get why Walters has started just one game either. I guess they saw something either at the plate or in the field that scared them away. Maybe the bad news about Zim will convince them (Rizzo/Lerners) that our chances of winning the division without a move have slipped enough to change their attitude.

    • David Proctor - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      Well Haren was far from our problem in the second half. We were the best team in baseball in the second half. It was just too late. I don’t think a starter would’ve helped and we would’ve traded a quality prospect for naught. This year is different.

      • Section 222 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:22 PM

        DP, I know you’ve got an answer for everything but really? Best team in baseball in the 2nd half? The Nats were 48-47 at the ASG last year and finished 86-76. The Dodgers were 47-47 and finished 92-70. I’m no statistician, but I think they were better. Might want to check the A’s second half record too. 40-27, compared to our 38-29. But who’s counting?

        And yes, there were other problems, and Haren wasn’t as awful as he was in the first half. Detwiler, on the other hand, never pitched a game after the break, and Roark didn’t start a game until September. Who knows what might have happened if Rizzo had acquired a reliable starter and someone to replace Chad Tracy.

        But that really wasn’t my point, as I agree that this year is different. This year is a poster child for the need to make a move given Zim’s injury and the complete inefficacy of the bench. Will he do it? If he doesn’t I’ll be disappointed, but I won’t be surprised. How about you?

  38. jd - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    Mick,

    Your 1st post makes a lot of sense to me. I don’t think you want to trade Cole and then have to fill the starting slot with poor over the hill types as we have done in the past. It took 3 tries to land a Fister and we really lucked out with Roark.

    I know we traded Cole before but we got a pitcher (Gio) back who fit right into the rotation and was also young. Beltre is not an apples to apples comparison.

  39. chaz11963 - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Ramos and Werth back in the lineup today. No day game following the night game off for the Buffalo. That’s a clear recognition they need help.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      He only crouched 7 innings which helped. MW has to strategically do that in blowout games.

  40. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    For anyone who said MW would not sub Ramos in a game, he did.

    It was a good move to get the speed on the basepaths and you hoped MW would then get him in the lineup today.

    • natsjackinfl - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      And I alluded to a situation just like that where it could and should happen. Game situations that dictate a move that sets you up for improving your chance to score in a tight game late.

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