If you watched the Washington Nationals play baseball on Monday night, you probably woke up depressed about it on Tuesday morning. As a matter of fact, I'm nearly sure of it. At points yesterday, both before and after the 42 minute rain delay, disappointment and shame for covering this baseball team overtook me.
After a game of lackluster defense by Guzman and Harris, and an exceptional defensive game by Desmond and Dunn, Jim Riggleman and his squad kept spouting the same tired lines that Nats fans are simply tired of hearing. "We'll have to break out of this slump, eventually...." There's no outright anger, almost helplessness.
The Nats have plummeted to 22nd in hits and 26th in RBI in the League. They're moving way, way in the opposite direction of .500. And while I know that it would be nearly impossible for this team to reach more than 100 losses this season, it certainly hasn't felt like it lately. Long gone are the thoughts of an 80 loss season from the first few weeks, back are the days of minimizing damage and just hoping the team doesn't get swept in every series.
In Riggleman's infinite wisdom, he put Willie Harris in the game, as we covered yesterday. Harris went 0 for 3, shocker, and saw his average somehow drop even more to an almost inconceivable .173. He did draw a walk, but he also struck out. Morgan hit the ball hard, but still went 0 for 4. The only person who was on in all aspects of his game today was Ian Desmond, who had two incredible fielding plays and actually went 1 for 4 and scored a run. Yes, a .250 day is now considered a roaring success in Natstown, until proven otherwise. Desmond threw one of those amazing plays from shortstop into the dirt, but Dunn was there to rescue him.
Even national broadcasters are now flabbergasted at Riggleman's seemingly inconceivable decisions to keep guys like Harris, and to a lesser extent Guzman, in the lineup. Even on an a completely irregular basis. When 2010 started, I was as big a support of Jim Riggleman as anyone you could find that cheers for or covers this team.
Before you read on, know that I do not support firing Riggs at all during this season. His management doesn't make the Nats the worst defensive team in baseball. For the most part he works with what he has. But what he needs to start doing is playing the guys that have a future in Washington, or in baseball, as anything but a utility guy. To reiterate, let's quickly list two categories of those characters:
- Future of the Nats' organization: Morse (bench), Bernadina (bench), Gonzalez (bench). Yes, Cap Ballers, I'm going to keep touting the 27 year old AG as a future 2nd basemen for DC until someone can provide an alternative.
- Future utility guys for other clubs: Guzman, Harris (if he can figure it out), Morgan (if he figures out how to steal bases again, he may end up as a pinch runner type. May.)