Monday, April 30, 2012
Prior to a 4-game losing streak (1 against the Padres and 3 against the Dodgers), the Nationals were the talk of baseball and one of the best teams in the league.
Things, however, haven't been as rosy since the Nationals were 14-4 just 4 games ago. There is really only one reason for that, though it goes a bit deeper than simply the one issue - of course I am referring to the Nationals seemingly abysmal offense.
The pitching staff can allow 1 or 2 runs over the course of a week's worth of games is fantastic, but when the offense can't scratch together 2 or 3 runs to steal the ballgame is where the Nats are running into trouble. In the last 11 games (in which the Nats are 6-5), the Nationals have scored more than 3 runs only twice and won only one of those games. Their total runs scored over those games? 29 runs - or 2.6 runs/game. Any team would struggle to win ballgames when the offense just can't drive in runs.
We know the offense is bad (and that Rick Eckstein deserves to be fired), but the reason why it has been so bad is because of the sheer volume of injuries. We talked about it last week in this post and it has exacerbated since with Ryan Zimmerman actually going to the DL (when he was day-to-day and was expecting to play two days later) and then Mark DeRosa going to the DL with a mysterious Oblique injury. More injuries to some key players is going to negatively affect the offense all the time but with Morse already down? It's just salt in the wound.
To get a sense of how drastic things have gotten for the Nationals I dug back into the Capitol Baseball archive and found this gem from February of this year which included my prediction of the Nats lineup. It went as follows:
Ian Desmond - 6
Jayson Werth - 9
Ryan Zimmerman - 5
Adam LaRoche - 3 (yep, I was ahead of the curve)
Michael Morse - 7
Rick Ankiel - 8
Danny Espinosa - 4
Wilson Ramos - 2
Now for comparison's sake, let's take a look at yesterday afternoon's lineup:
Ian Desmond - 6 (4 for his last 44)
Stephen Lombardozzi - 5 (1 for his last 17)
Danny Espinosa - 4 (Yes, that is a guy with a .213/.308/.280 slashline hitting 3rd)
Adam LaRoche - 3 (Nats MVP thus far)
Xavier Nady - 9 (The Nats 6 hitter has a .140/.173/.220 slashline and a -0.7 WAR which is the worst in the National League) [Oh, by the way, he didn't have a job before two weeks before the season cause he is so bad but he is now starting every game for the Nationals]
Tyler Moore - 7 (Just called up)
Bryce Harper - 8 (19 years old and has a better eye than probably anyone on the team)
Jesus Flores - 2 (Backup Catcher)
Honestly. I'm not kidding at all when I say this. This is a AAA baseball team with Adam LaRoche rehabbing an injury. Are any of these players good enough or ready to be on a major league roster right now?
The answer is no.
How many players did I get right? 2. With a 3rd that is still in the lineup. Werth - out. Zim - out. Morse - out. Ank - not in the lineup. Ramos - struggling. Espinosa hitting 3rd???
Strasburg can lead the NL in WAR all he wants, but if the Nationals are putting out a AAA lineup it isn't going to matter. He can throw a 10 inning No-Hitter but if he can't get any run support it really isn't going to matter.
Thing's aren't going to get any better until the team gets Morse and Zimmerman back healthy. Then, and only then, can we all witness what the Nationals are truly capable of. But for now, hope that the Nats can scratch out two runs before the other team does.
It will get better. It really will. Keep the faith.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
The game starts at 9:10 pm EDT, and the guys from the podcast Nats Talk On The Go will hop on with you about a half hour before that to start fielding your questions and chat with you about Harper, Strasburg, and everything Nats. Join us for some fun.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
So far this offseason/Spring we have seen a myriad of debilitating injuries that have been completely mis-managed:
- Sammy Solis: According to reports, Solis reported that he was feeling elbow pain near the end of his Arizona Fall League stint but it was decided by doctors that he would be fine with a "special throwing program". Later in the Winter it was announced that he was "doing well" in his recovery from elbow pain. Fast forward to Spring Training, after his first bullpen session it was discovered that he did indeed tear his UCL and needed Tommy John Surgery.
- Michael Morse: In early March Morse strained his Right Lat Muscle and was immediately listed as day-to-day - meaning that he might be ready soon. Not so much. When Morse was finally ready to start playing again, he actually wasn't and immediately re-injured his Lat. Rizzo himself admitted that "we tried to get him ready as quick as we could". Now the slugger and heart of the lineup is in the middle of a six-week no-baseball-activity shutdown.
- Drew Storen: This Spring, Drew Storen was pitching incredibly well until a bout of elbow injury hit him pretty good. Immediately after the soreness Nationals doctors decided that it was simply inflammation and prescribed rest for the closer. Once again, the Nationals training staff thought he was ready so they had him pitch on a mound. Days later, Storen was under the knife to remove bone chips in the fireballer's elbow. How a professional training staff can miss bone chips floating in an elbow baffles my mind.
- Ryan Zimmerman: What is there to say. The Nationals Face of the Franchise was scratched from Saturday's game at the last second (forcing customers to watch Mark DeRosa in the 3-hole) with right shoulder tightness - though this is not the same shoulder that hampered Zimmerman in 2008. The release during the game said that Zimmerman wasn't concerned and that he should be fine to play Tuesday. Well, last night was Tuesday and instead of Nationals fans watching Zimmerman man 3rd until the wee hours of the morning, everyone was waiting for the results of Zimmerman's MRI (while watching DeRosa hit 3rd again).
That's 4 players who went from simply day-to-day style injuries to 3 players missing significant time and 1 player waiting on the results of an MRI.
There have been serious miscalculations with all of these (and more) injuries from the Nationals training staff. Something has got to give.
How long do you think Zimmerman will be out? Sound off in the comments!
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
This week's Nats Talk On The Go episode is full of positive stuff, including lots of wins, a continuously impressive pitching staff, and some surprisingly impressive offensive numbers from a few key players. Unfortunately, we also have to talk about the offensive reality of an inability to drive in runs and the continued effect of injuries on the team. If you can't stream it below, subscribe on iTunes or download it here.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
- Start with 50 points.
- Add 1 point for every out recorded.
- Add 2 points for every inning completed after the 4th.
- Add 1 point for each strikeout.
- Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
- Subtract 4 points for every earned run allowed.
- Subtract 2 points for every unearned run allowed.
- Subtract 1 point for every walk.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
This week, we talk about the Washington Nationals' prodigious pitching and their awful offense. Well, maybe it wasn't quite as awful as you may think. We spend a lot of time both praising and criticizing Ian Desmond, and we talk about about Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth, too.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
In any other MLB city would this have been almost inconsequential. In Washington, maybe it puts the heat on President Obama over Cuba. In Philly they might boo for a few days, but hey, they are going to do that anyway. Maybe in Atlanta he is run out of town for professing love for an 86 year old man. But a suspension? Can Major League Baseball really let teams suspend players or managers who make comments that some of its citizens may disagree with? Will the Nats suspend a player who says he is against statehood?
Now the Marlins argument, that he represents their organization when he acts and speaks, is disingenuous at best, and a cheap ploy to bring in Cuban fans at its worst. You do not go get Ozzie to be your manager and expect him to be a role-model for your city and team. He skipped the White House for Hugo Chavez. He used an offensive slur while describing Jay Mariotti. There is no way the Marlins did not see this sort of thing coming. And to now cry foul, is both naive and hypocritical.
Fidel Castro is 86 years old. Yes, he once stood for the Cuban Missile Crisis and big red (Read: communism) right in our back yard. But his time as a villain has come and gone.
What say you Natstown?
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
With this week's episode, the Washington Nationals regular season is officially underway, and there's quite a bit to talk about. At the top of the ledger is injuries and the issues with Drew Storen's elbow. We talk Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel, and Anthony Rendon's ankle, too. We spent a lot of time talking about Adam LaRoche's crazy start, and if you throw in some pitching talk, some offensive concerns, recaps of the first series, and some series previews, you have a full lid on this week's episode.
Question Of The Week: What were the three biggest surprises of the Nationals Opening Series vs. the Cubs? We read a few listener responses, too.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Wins: 90 - A first half around .500 will give way to a torrid August and September and lead the Nats into a wild card spot.
Offensive MVP - Ryan Zimmerman. He plays over 150 games and hits close to .300 with over 30 HRs and over 100 RBI.
Pitching MVP - Jordan Zimmerman. Strassy, Gio and even Ejax may have gaudier stats, but Jzimm will make close to 35 starts and have a quality start % in the 70s.
Biggest Offensive Surprise - Ian Desmond. He will hit 20 HRs and score over 100 runs.
Biggest Pitching Surprise - Edwin Jackson. Minimize his starts at Citizen's Bank and he will be golden.
Biggest Offensive Disappointment - Hate to say this, but Michael Morse. He will fall alittle further back to earth. But a healthy Zim, LaRoche and a bounce back year for Werth will help the offense along.
Biggest Pitching Disappointment - Chien Ming Wang. I firmly believe he is made of candy-glass and will never throw any substantial innings again.
Best Moment - I want to say when the Nats clinch a wild card spot. But really it will be the first time Wilson Ramos comes to bat in the home opener. I will not forget the shock and unease I felt during those days in winter.
Nationals All-Stars - Ryan Zimmerman, Steven Strasburg, Drew Storen
Teddy Wins - 0
Player Games lost to the DL - Lots
Prop-Bets - Davey Johnson ejections 2, Zim walkoffs 1, Ian Desmond errors 17, Jayson Werth beard alignments 7, Strassy's last start August 24
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
This move is an important one for the Nationals organization. It signals an important shift in focus, from perennial underdog to consistent contender. Yes, the Nats are at a point in their existence where the personnel decisions are made strictly based on the on-the-field product. Gone are the days of "Mike Bascik, he's such a nice guy, great story, glad he's on our team" and in are the times where the most reliable Nats starter in history is optioned to Syracuse. It's encouraging to future fans of the team and means that the building of a rotation by cattle call is a thing of the past.
But none of that makes this alright with me. John Lannan is a wonderful person and very good pitcher. Let's look at the stats: 751 innings pitched in 128 starts, basically 6 innings per start, an ERA right at 4.00 and has a career WAR over 7 in 5 seasons, all the while costing a total just north of 3.5 million dollars (not a year...for his whole time in a Nats uni). He has been the stalwart of the rotation and endured the humiliation that was the Nats run-support and defense. To demote him to triple-A and tell him in the middle of the last exhibition game is so outside the realm of decent that there are no words.
This was an inevitable step in the progression towards being a keystone franchise. It makes the on-field product better, or at least gives it more potential. And Lannan at Syracuse is a nice insurance policy. That does not excuse this. John Lannan deserved better of the Nationals. Be it through trade or outright release, he is a Major League pitcher and the ignominy of being sent to triple-A is outrageous. The lack of decency and loyalty will not soon be forgotten by Lannan. Or me.
In this week's episode, Joe and Craig have their first guest, Brett Taylor of Bleacher Nation. Brett provides great insight on the state of the Chicago Cubs, who the Washington Nationals are playing on Opening Day, and is an all around cool guy. Besides that, a few other pretty interesting things happened for the Nationals in the past week: John Lannan was demoted, Ross Detwiler was added to the rotation, more injury stuff, the bullpen, and spring training surprises, followed by the official end to spring training.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Today we are jumping right in with a piece on the Former Nats Greats that will be suiting up for the Nationals NL East opponents against your Washington Nationals. Let us venture onward.