Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

The Definition of Insanity…

45 comments

… is to do the same things over and again, and to expect different results.

Two nights in a row, the Nats held leads that should have been protected while playing at their most difficult opponent.  And twice in a row. the same reliever Casey Janssen was completely ineffective and the team lost a game that they could not afford to lose.

At least in the 9/1/15 debacle Janssen had help; deposed closer Drew Storen had yet another awful outing, blowing the save and putting Janssen in the position to give up the walk-off homer.  Storen now has a 7.98 ERA in the 15 games (14 2/3rds innings) in which he has pitched since getting demoted for Jonathan Papelbon.  You want to quibble about causation versus correlation?  How about *cause and effect?*  The Nats man management of this ball-club has been inept at best and horrific at worse (you know where I stand on the idiotic callup of Trea Turner just so he can shine the bench with his ass).

You remember Papelbon right?  He’s the high-priced closer that this team figured it needed to get to the post-season, disrupting the chemistry of the bullpen in the process?  Yeah Papelbon; the highest paid reliever, who finished YET ANOTHER game sitting his surly ass in the bullpen while lesser relievers blew multiple run leads.  That’s because our “color by numbers” manager Matt Williams can’t quite get it through his thick skull that you need to be flexible with relievers, that you can’t just write up the roles ahead of time and wait for it, that the “Save” stat is utterly meaningless to anyone except the idiots who apparently decide all arbitration cases and conclude that 1.5 WAR “closers” are worth 10 times as much as the guys who hand them their cushy 3-run leads night after night.

I ask this question again: where is the sense of urgency on this team?  The offense is certainly doing its part, finally hitting the ball and putting runners on base.  12  hits last night, 8 hits to go along with 7 walks the previous night.  In fact you might wonder how they didn’t score more than five runs each night with that many guys on the basepaths … not that it would have mattered, given the ineptitude of the bullpen lately.

Janssen now has nearly a 5.00 ERA on the season.  Storen is giving up nearly a run an inning.  Maybe, I dunno, maybe its time to try someone else to protect leads??  Blake Treinen has been great since coming back: he has *NOT GIVEN UP A RUN* since his return from AAA, a span of 13 innings over 12 appearances.  I dunno; maybe he’s the guy to get the ball in the 8th right now instead of the sh*t-show that is Storen and Janssen.

We miss Stammen.  We miss Barrett.  We really miss Clippard; why again didn’t we try to acquire him or some other middle reliever instead of disrupting the whole bullpen by acquiring the arrogant headcase Papelbon?  I dunno.  I just watch the games and try not to throw things at the TV screen when our soon-to-be-ex-manager makes his latest idiot move.  Instead of getting a proven middle reliever at the trade deadline, we continue to get by with retreads (Janssen, Thornton) and rookies (Rivero) and demoted starters (Fister, Roark).  Hell, instead of getting someone like Clippard, or Soria, or Johnson, or Broxton, or Jepson or Dyson, or any of the 8th/9th inning types that were moved at this trade deadline, our team KEPT TWO LONG-MEN instead, letting Fister and Roark it in the bullpen to await blow-out situations to throw a couple of useless innings.  You remember Roark right?  Yeah, he was our 5-win starter who the team deemed unnecessary who is now riding buses in AA to “remember” how to be a starter again, since clearly Joe Ross is about 2 more walks from getting shut-down for the season.

Hmm; I see a parallel between Roark and Storen.  Home grown guys, both worked their asses off to get where they got, both had great 2014 seasons … and both were supplanted by FA acquisitions from other teams and were demoted from positions that they not only had earned with blood and sweat but had no business being demoted from.  Is it any surprise either guy has struggled this year?  Will it be any surprise when either or both guys demand trades in the off-season as a result?  Nope, not to me.

This season’s done.  6.5 games out and the team has a losing record in the second half and can’t string together 3 straight wins when they really need about 10 straight wins to get back in this race.  Don’t be surprised when the Mets come to town in a week’s time and the team scores 4 runs in 3 games.  The Mets have better starters, actually MADE ACQUISITIONS at the trade deadline to improve, and apparently want it more.  Get me to the off-season; i’ve had it with 2015.

 

45 Responses to 'The Definition of Insanity…'

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  1. Good post Todd. Did you see Ramos stalling in the batter’s box to admire his single off the wall with 2 outs last night? On what should have been a double for almost any other human being in a MLB uniform. Pretty funny now that Matt William’s biggest idea for lineup to start last year was that Ramos was his cleanup hitter.

    Best news has been proof that Ryan can still be good with the bat. Was very worried about that at the break. There might be someone out there who likes Matt William’s style but I haven’t met him yet.

    One refreshing thing in this Cardinals series has been getting break from FP Santangelo’s bad stand up act and excuse show. Knight at least tells it like it is, and is not afraid to be critical, even though he admits he’s a homer.

    I still enjoy the season even when we don’t win a championship though. Such a long season, it’s just interesting to watch the whole story arc of a team. But you could tell after a month that this team didn’t have what it takes this year.

    Marty C

    2 Sep 15 at 10:37 am

  2. Ray Knight in the booth: agree; he’s got the kind of insight that Santangelo doesn’t. Knight was a more significant player, played longer AND was a manager, so he can relate to both the issues on the field and the decisions being made in the dugout. His commentary was fabulous on Monday’s game as the cameras panned to the St.L bench coaches who were clearly steamed at something during the inexplicable meltdown inning).

    Todd Boss

    2 Sep 15 at 10:46 am

  3. I think the breaking point for me was the two home series to start August. After they went 6-10 to start the 2nd half against a ridiculous run of starters, you expected them to bounce back with 7 games against non-playoff teams (Arizona and Colorado). But instead of going 6-1 like we needed to, they went 3-4 and then absolutely fell apart in LA and SF. That was the season; they were 56-52 at the beginning of that stretch and ended it 58-59. They’ve basically been a .500 team since.

    Todd Boss

    2 Sep 15 at 10:49 am

  4. Zuckerman had some very pointed and relevant questions in this recap: http://natsinsider.com/2015/09/02/an-inexplicable-loss-in-a-season-full-of-them/

    Specifically … Janssen got hammered last night and was clearly out of gas by the time he was set to face the lefty Moss. Why didn’t Williams go with a lefty-lefty matchup there? Or more to Zuckerman’s poitn … why didn’t the Nats call up more Arms?? They have Jordan, Cole, Hill, Roark, Martin, Erik Davis, Grace and de los Santos still sitting in AAA while the bullpen is in crisis mode in the majors. Why was only Solis called up on 9/1?? Another head scratcher.

    Todd Boss

    2 Sep 15 at 10:54 am

  5. We generally find ways to implode against STL, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but yikes. I can’t actually bring myself to go through the specifics.

    On Williams, putting aside whether I think he should go (I do), the more curious question is going to be ‘will’ he go. Rizzo is stubborn enough, and up until recently the injury excuse was plausible enough, that you could see where they would keep him. Now though, I am not so sure. And maybe even Rizzo is at risk. That would be a bad call, imo, but we haven’t seen the Lerners react to this before. The payroll wasn’t nearly as high in 2013 when they also disappointed.

    what a sh@t show this season has been. It felt off from the very beginning. I was a little worried at the strategy of coming in to the season with so many key guys in walk years. One or two is fine, but to have 4 prime guys in walk years is unusual and just seemed like a high risk strategy. Easy to say that in hindsight, I guess. But they just never seemed like they were playing well, even when they made that run in May to get back the lead.

    I am not ruling anything out going in to this offseason. We know that there will be big turnover just with the FAs. But will there be more? Trade Stras? Rendon? Even Harp? No one should take this as me suggesting that they should do it ( I wouldn’t do the last two for sure, and only the first one if (a) they can’t extend him which is my preference and (b) they don’t feel confident about contending next year), but I am just saying that these kinds of failed expectations can make teams do surprising things. if the Lerners or Rizzo want to give it a complete redo, those are your valuable trade pieces.

    Wally

    2 Sep 15 at 11:41 am

  6. If Jansen ever pitches again for the Nats, I’m going to throw up. Who the Hell needs an 88 mph non-power reliever on a contending team anyway. The Nats are now closer to ending up 10 games out than winning the division. Good to see some of our overpaid vets finally starting to hit, but its not enough and its almost too late. Only a high performance outing by Swerzer tonight should give anyone some hope.

    old man

    2 Sep 15 at 11:43 am

  7. Jordan was actually quite good last night . . . in Syracuse. I have no idea why they didn’t call up everyone who might be able to help.

    I’ve made passing references to what Wally addressed above, whether they actually *win* fire Williams. Boz in his chat a couple of weeks ago thought that was a longshot, mainly because he was Rizzo’s anointed guy, and Rizzo would have to admit a big failure to get rid of him.

    As far as how bad the season has been, despite everything, the Nats were so close to getting back in it. Flip to curly W’s the last two nights, as they should have been, and we’re at -4.5. Beat Adam Friggin’ Conley with Scherzer last Friday on a night the Mets lost and that’s -3.5. In the course of just five games, the Nats could have flipped the script and had the Mets sweating. Who’s sweating at -6.5? It’s not the Mets.

    KW

    2 Sep 15 at 12:14 pm

  8. Oops, actually *will* fire Williams. They certainly didn’t “win” him, or with him.

    KW

    2 Sep 15 at 12:15 pm

  9. Thanks Todd. I’m beginning to think Rizzo will be gone at the end of the year as well. This has been such a disaster, that although I think Rizzo has done a fantastic job with the roster, he may want a fresh start AND not have to directly fire MW. There were rumors he was talking with Toronto last year and my gut is that those types of rumors will increase this offseason. And, that would be a shame – one really bad move (Matt Williams) shouldn’t take away from many other great moves.

    In the meantime, the season is over – start playing some young guys including Turner, Cole, and Severino. Maybe a little Difo and I’d like to also see a few starts from Goodwin before DFA’ing him. Promote Knorr and let’s see what we may have for 2016.

    Andrew R

    2 Sep 15 at 12:54 pm

  10. While I totally agree with the analysis on the results post-Papelbon trade, what about the results post-Escobar trade? Of course it would be great to have had Clipp, I agreed with the trade at the time over his salary and fears that Clipp is due to break down at any moment. But perhaps Escobar has had a similar impact on team chemistry (not to mention defense) as acquiring Paplebon? The Nats are 55-59 with Escobar in the lineup, 11-6 without. He’s produced some good hitting stats, especially during the dark days for the offense, but I can’t shake the feeling that he’s part of the problem not solution. And I’m afraid that we’re stuck with him for next year too.

    MG

    2 Sep 15 at 1:28 pm

  11. Trading Clippard away netted the Nats their 2nd most important hitter this season; that’s fantastic return for an 8th inning guy. Which is not in line with his record in and out of the lineup.

    Maybe the excuse is that he’s basically been playing out of position the entire year. And here I put the fault at Williams yet again; when Rendon was healthy, you put him back at third. You don’t leave a poor defender at 3B (even if he was covering for us and doing an admirable job of being a flexible veteran) simply becuase … well I can’t figure out why he didn’t put Rendon back at third. Rendon had his statement year at the plate and in the field in 2014. The only thing I can think of comes back to a severe fault I have with Williams; cowtowing to the veterans at the expense of the younger guy. Escobar is the vet so when Rendon comes back its the young guy who has to adjust, not the experienced guy.

    Rendon’s defensive numbers at 2B or 3B last year were good to excellent. Escobar’s defense at 3B in 2015? Awful.

    Todd Boss

    2 Sep 15 at 2:32 pm

  12. Andrew R – I don’t think Rizzo will be fired simply because good GMs are hard to find these days. Rizzo’s ability to maximize value when executing trades, for example, is the biggest reason why an organization that is still not deep in talent (thanks in part to being practically invisible on the international FA market) has managed to win two divisional titles.

    That said, the smart move will be to hire an experienced executive to be “VP of Baseball Operations” or whatever title and make him responsible for negotiating player contract extensions and deciding which free agents to pursue, as well as oversight on in-season trades. This year has clearly demonstrated that for all the plusses Rizzo brings to the table, he needs “adult supervision” in the front office.

    Karl Kolchack

    2 Sep 15 at 3:09 pm

  13. Escobar although effective hasn’t been able help this team much. He is so slow and the players surrounding him much of the season were so slow and strike out prone that all his hits didn’t add up to much. Desmond, Harp and Danny did not run at all first half and other speed like Rendon and Span were sidelined all year. His hits would have played better with a team like Cardinals that knows how to string singles together.

    Also telling, Harper’s seemingly low RBI totals with such a historic stellar stat line otherwise. He should be close to 100 rbi by now if he wasn’t surrounded by failure most of the year. And now that guys are back and he even has some protection, his power stroke has gone AWOL lately.

    Marty C

    2 Sep 15 at 3:47 pm

  14. So, I am going to say something, but before I do, I have to acknowledge that I don’t know why I feel compelled to say it. Its weird; I don’t want to say it, yet I am going to. First the set up:
    (a) I do not like Matt Williams as a manager. Do. Not. Like. His faults have been been discussed ad nauseum, and my dislikes fall into the main categories: I think he has no idea how to manage a bullpen; he shows no ability to adapt his strategy; generally seems to defer to the vets rather than the better player. I’ll add one, in that I usually get annoyed with the way he explains himself and his decision making after the game.

    But now the weird part that I feel compelled to say: there is no way that he is the primary reason this season has been a sh@t show. Just no way. I mean, he isn’t helping , but this season’s failure lies firmly on the players. I guess Rizzo too, if you want to hold him accountable for assembling them, but the main culprits are players most of us would have bet on coming into the season.

    I hate William’s bullpen usage, and he could clearly be bringing in Papelbon more, but who exactly is the sure thing there? I have wanted Storen to get used more, but he clearly isn’t pitching like he was earlier. So if Williams was clearly not using guys who were lights out, ok he is the problem. But where are those guys?

    As for hitting, we have super Bryce, and 1.5 other above average hitters: Yuni and what little Span has played. Rendon is kind of right around average and Zim is approaching average, but everyone else is well below for the season.

    And SPs? Mad Max is 9th in WAR, ok great, there is our ace, but the next two guys show up in the mid 30’s in WAR, and the rest well below that. So we have a 1, two 3’s and and couple 5’s, according to performance.

    So it has been weak performances across the board, some likely due to injury, some age, some just bad luck, I guess, but the main reason is the players.

    Doesn’t mean Williams should stay, imo. He isn’t helping, and the manager is the real face of the franchise, so someone has to be accountable for the sh@t show. But he wasn’t the main reason they won last year, nor the main reason they lost this year. Just not sure why I need to say it.

    Wally

    2 Sep 15 at 4:03 pm

  15. In two years and hundreds of interviews I’m still waiting for Matt Williams to say something interesting. Just one thing. Anything!

    Listen to a Joe Maddon interview and it takes about 2 seconds for him to pop something really interesting.

    Rizzo too is a complete waste of time to interview.

    I agree with Wally that this is 90% on the players. But you could see it all coming. Risky Unproven bullpen. Ramos, Espi, Taylor, Desmond, Gio, Lobaton are who they have always been and the chronically injured star crew was too much for Bryce and half a season of great Max to overcome. You didn’t really expect a full season of stellar pitching out of Stras did you? Actually the meltdown and re-tool may have salvaged his career as a truly elite pitcher. But only for 6 or so starts for us. Gio is the same post PED investigation Gio we’ve seen last couple years. Fister regression and a good but not close to great JZimm hurt the most as far as holding a good rotation together.

    Marty C

    2 Sep 15 at 4:30 pm

  16. Wally–if you want to dig down deeper, there has been a troubling level of underperformance across the board in the organization in 2015. Last year, three of their four full season minor league squads made their respective league championships and Potomac won it all. This year, it appears that every team at every level will finish below .500.

    Six of their Top 30 prospects (according to MLB.com) were drafted and/or signed this year. Of the 24 returning players, 13 had seasons ranging from disappointing to disastrous. Even uber-prospect Lucas Giolito has been hit hard at times (including the night I saw him pitch at Potomac).

    So what is causing so many players at every level to play below expectations? I wish I knew, but it doesn’t give one confidence that the Nats will be able to easily bounce back as they did after the 2013 debacle.

    Karl Kolchack

    2 Sep 15 at 6:21 pm

  17. Karl – has it really been that bad for the minors? I didn’t think team success was considered that important. Didnt Law name them a top 5 system around the ASB? And Kiley M named a lot of their guys in his mid season update too.

    I am not a hardcore prospect guy, and it does seem like the position players have fallen off quite a bit. But while their system does seem a little stars & scrubs to me, Taylor and Ross have been solid contributors, Treinen and Rivero, and maybe Barrett if he comes back from surgery, look like they can be pen guys for a while. Giolito has held his ranking as a top prospect, Turner (and Ross before losing eligibility) has joined him at the top, with Robles rising fast. Voth, Fedde, Cole, Lopez all have promise. Is that not still a solid system?

    Wally

    2 Sep 15 at 9:23 pm

  18. Wally–it’s not a complete disaster on the farm, but the overall news isn’t good. Particularly troubling is the utter lack of power anywhere in the system. While they have some promising middle infield and CF-type prospects (Turner, Difo, Bostick, Robles, Stevenson, Abreu, Schrock), the outlook on the corners is bleak. Also, all four of their catching prospects (including Severino, who was just recalled), had poor-to-bad years offensively.

    Pitching-wise things are a little better, but other than Giolito there’s nobody you’d call can’t miss. Cole and Lopez each had down seasons, Fedde looked shaky after being promoted to Hagerstown (but in fairness is still recovering from TJ surgery) and for some reason MLB scouts are not that high on Voth despite his excellent numbers.

    A couple of guys they drafted this year (Andrew Lee, Glover) have started out like gangbusters, but were not high picks so we’ll have to see how it goes down the line.

    Karl Kolchack

    3 Sep 15 at 12:16 am

  19. KK, that’s a very “glass half empty” view of the farm system. The Nats’ farm system is not a top 5 system (although it was getting a look at about that area until Ross “graduated”). Odds are the Nats’ system will be in the top half of the league when assessments are done – likely in the 10-15 range, with more coming in closer to 10 than 15. For whatever that’s worth. Given where they’ve been drafting the past few years that’s not a bad achievement.

    John C.

    3 Sep 15 at 8:34 am

  20. Reports of the demise of Ryan Zimmerman are greatly exaggerated.

    John C.

    3 Sep 15 at 8:35 am

  21. That last one looks true. And as one of the early ‘reporters’, nothing could make me happier to be wrong.

    So enough with the gloom and doom. But for the bullpen implosions, they played pretty well this last series. And the Mets pitching seems creaky, to me. So I am calling a surge here: one week from today, they are within three games of the lead. And then let’s see how the Mets like playing from that spot. :)

    Wally

    3 Sep 15 at 9:10 am

  22. Wally with the positive spin!

    If the Nats sweep Atlanta, then lets talk. Because at this point that’s what they need. they need to win four or five in a row while the Mets scuffle. They’ve lined up their rotation so that the Nats will likely get Niese harvey and DeGrom next week; tough.

    Todd Boss

    3 Sep 15 at 9:19 am

  23. Amazing that Zimm might actually pass Harper in rbi’s by season’s end. Would be quite an accomplishment after having one of the worst first half seasons in history and missing 40 games! He really does know how to drive them in.

    Marty C

    3 Sep 15 at 11:17 am

  24. John C – we’ll see where the system is rated going into next season after year full of underperformance by so many of the prospects. My guess is they drop to no higher than 20.

    That was point–expectations this season may have paced them in the Top 10 farm systems but lack of performance proved that wasn’t the case, just as the MLB season has proven that the Nats almost certainly the not a playoff club most people thought they were.

    Karl Kolchack

    3 Sep 15 at 11:28 am

  25. Nats Organizational ranking: Keith Law did in deed rank us 5th mid-season, thanks to Ross and Turner additions. But this coming off-season they probably won’t count.

    But, the Nats will still be ranked on the strength of Giolito, who may be #1 or #2 overall by the time all these 9/1 call ups are done. Most of the mid-season top-X rankings had some combination of Buxton, Seager, Giolito, Urias, Crawford, Gallo and Sano) as their top 5 prospects in the Minors. Seager just got called up, Buxton has been up for a while, Gallo has been up and down, Sano is up. That leaves giolito, Urias and Crawford as the likely 1-2-3 for off-season lists.

    Then, we still have Lopez, Fedde, Robles as top-end talents who did nothing but improve their stock this year. There’s probably a gap beyond that to the likes of Difo, Cole, Voth.

    Is that a top 10 system? good question. Giolito+Turner+Ross made it top 5. Giolito+question marks maybe drops it to the 11-15 range.

    Todd Boss

    3 Sep 15 at 11:34 am

  26. KK, any minor league system that starts off with Lucas Giolito, Trea Turner and Victor Robles isn’t doing badly. Reynaldo Lopez is still a good prospect, and more importantly Erik Fedde has proved that the stuff is there – the biggest concern with pitchers who have had TJ is that they don’t come all the way back. All the reports that I’ve read about Fedde (primarily Kiley McDaniel/Fangraphs, on Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus) indicate that the stuff is there, it’s just a question of refining it/consistency.

    So if you’re putting the over/under at 20, I’ll take the under, and happily put a beverage on the table for it :)

    John C.

    3 Sep 15 at 11:44 am

  27. Turner will still be a prospect because he will still have rookie status – that’s the dividing line that most analysts use (for ease of administration). A player is considered to have rookie status unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has (a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues; or (b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit (excluding time in the military service and time on the disabled list).

    Turner will have 45 days of service, but NOT service during the period of 25 player limit. So he will still be considered a prospect for 2016 rankings.

    John C.

    3 Sep 15 at 11:48 am

  28. http://sports.yahoo.com/news/manager-matt-williams-isn-t-the-only-one-to-blame-for-nationals–mess-155224058.html

    Jeff Passan absolutely crucifies Williams and Rizzo. Deservedly. Agree with this entire article.

    Todd Boss

    3 Sep 15 at 1:28 pm

  29. If Turner still counts then that puts the Nats top 10 something like this: Giolito, Turner, Lopez, Fedde, Robles, Difo, Cole, Voth, Severino, Reetz.

    That’s (in order) two can’t miss MLB studs at important positions, a hard-thrower who at worst can be a closer, a high-ceiling pop-up guy who is on everyone’s radar, a backup middle infielder at least at a 4-A level, a couple of 5th starters, and two young catchers in a league that can’t find enough of them. And this doesn’t include any of their 2015 draftees (some of whom have done pretty well actually), or the two high-end IFAs they just got. not bad.

    Todd Boss

    3 Sep 15 at 1:33 pm

  30. Most damning quote: “Now comes the hardest part for Williams: Finding some way to take a group of players who have increasingly tuned him out, according to sources with knowledge of the clubhouse dynamics, and rescue it from its deficit.”

    I know there are people who read this who think “chemistry” is BS. I don’t. I just listened to a great JABO podcast with CJ Nitkowski (former pitcher) and Rob Neyer talking about it and relaying more than a few stories .. one of which directly talked about how Toronto specifically didn’t want Papelbon b/c of clubhouse issues. That didn’t stop the Nats. Add in Werth’s surliness, Escobar’s checkered past, the daily indifference of the other veteran leaders (Desmond, Zimmerman). Thank god Scherzer seems to have a sense of humor .. at least until he forgot how to be an Ace.

    Todd Boss

    3 Sep 15 at 1:44 pm

  31. I’ve never seen any indication that Werth is surly within the clubhouse. Surly with reporters, occasionally surly with fans (although I’ve heard things on both sides of that one), sure. But his teammates speak well of him in the clubhouse.

    I also think that to accuse Desmond and Zimmerman of “daily indifference” is unjust and fairly ridiculous. Both of those guys bust it every single day.

    Is “chemistry” complete BS? Probably not – it’s certainly possible that there’s something there. But there have been plenty of teams that despised each other and won anyway. The early 70’s A’s, for example, and the “Bronx Zoo” Yankees of 1976-1981. It’s at least as likely that the “chemistry” narrative is anecdotal and self-affirming (if a team wins, they have good “chemistry”).

    John C.

    3 Sep 15 at 2:36 pm

  32. The Nats only scored two TDs! Can the quarterback! Fire the coach! Fire the owner!

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. That does get to a central issue here, though: the Nats do need to make some changes to their organization, but all they have to do is look out to Ashburn to see the level of dysfunction that perpetual change gets you.

    Now for the Blutarsky speech: It’s not over. The Germans may not have bombed Pearl Harbor, but it sure looks like someone bombed the Braves, who are a smoking ruin. They may be the most sweepable team in baseball right now, but you only do that one game at a time. I’m not that convinced by Roark right now, so have the hook ready in the second inning if need be. To make the Met series actually mean something, we’ve got to take care of the Braves first.

    KW

    4 Sep 15 at 6:33 am

  33. Chemistry in the clubhouse: Listen to the conversation Neyer and Nitkowski just had (JABO podcast on itunes). Directly quoted a GM who did NOT want Papelbon for clubhouse reasons, talked about how a number of executives now look at personalities coming into the clubhouse while constructing rosters.

    Todd Boss

    4 Sep 15 at 9:57 am

  34. http://espn.go.com/mlb/team/transactions/_/name/atl/atlanta-braves

    Here’s a list of Braves MLB roster quality players they’ve traded away so far in 2015: Evan Gattis, David Hale, Gus Schlosser, BJ Upton, Craig Kimbrel, Luis Avilan, Alex Wood, Bronson Arroyo, Jim Johnson, INF Jose Peraza and Chris Johnson. And that’s not even including trades of guys whose names I did NOT recognize. That’s half their active roster! They’re basically playing Gwinnett’s roster at the MLB level.

    Yeah, I would hope the Nats win the damn game 15-1.

    Todd Boss

    4 Sep 15 at 10:05 am

  35. It always makes me nervous playing at team in a crappy free fall like the Braves are currently in – because at some point in time it’s going to change because that’s the way baseball works. No, it’s not the Gambler’s Fallacy, it’s reversion to the mean. Even an awful Braves’ team does not have a mean level of 1-16. Even going by their record since peaking 7 July at 42-42 (they’ve gone 12-38 since, a crisp 39-123 pace) they managed to take 2 of 3 from the Dodgers and 1 of 3 against the Cardinals. It’s unlikely that the Nationals will sweep all four games from the Braves in this series.

    John C.

    4 Sep 15 at 2:23 pm

  36. Someone (Schoenfield?) said the Braves pythagorean record since the ASG was something like .225. That’s winning less than one out of four. Lets hope the “less than” part happens here and the Nats get 4 of 4. :-)

    3 of 4 mandatory, 4 of 4 hopeful. The Nats havn’t lost to Atlanta at home yet, lets not start now.

    Todd Boss

    4 Sep 15 at 3:01 pm

  37. Now that was a fun game. Now c’mon Fish, do the right thing.

    Williams finally uses the bullpen the way that I’d been hoping. Hooked Roark early, before he lost it (and didn’t try this ‘let him go five’ stuff). Storen for the 8th in a tie game (can’t blame Williams that he gave up a run), and then Pap for TWO innings in a tie game. Love it. The only negative for Mattt is going be the Lucille Ball – he’ll have some Splaining tonight and tomorrow about why he wasn’t doing this all along. Well done Matty.

    Wally

    4 Sep 15 at 10:38 pm

  38. And the Fish came through! Yep, it’s amazing what playing with, and managing with, a little sense of desperation will do for you.

    Let’s not forget the huge hit by den Dekker, picking up the flailing Ramos in a big way.

    Biggest win of the season . . . thus far. Repeat after me: It’s not over.

    One organizational note: Get more hands on deck for games like that. Why in the heck isn’t Difo in DC? He’s already on the 40-man.

    KW

    5 Sep 15 at 6:57 am

  39. Did I mention that it’s not over?

    I hate to quote F.P., but “Game On!”

    KW

    6 Sep 15 at 4:48 pm

  40. Couldn’t have asked for a better lead up to the Mets series. Knock off 2.5 games, and get a little controversy going in NYC.

    Ross looks done. Hope Stras is back, so we don’t miss a beat.

    Wally

    6 Sep 15 at 8:48 pm

  41. With the NYC media, I’m shocked that it took this long for the shutdown controversy to surface. I’ve been mentioning it since July. Here’s a special shout-out to our buddy Scotty Boras for fanning the flames!

    I don’t know whether anyone except Wally is still reading this thread, but I wanted to point out something I’ve been watching that I haven’t seen or heard anyone in the media mention. Bob Carpenter did point out yesterday that Harper could be only the second player to lead a league in BA and HRs in the same season since 1970, with Cabrera’s triple crown year being the other. What’s more impressive, at least to those with a little knowledge of stats, is that Bryce currently has the highest single-season OPS of any active player. He’s been doing a tango with Pujols’s best years but is currently ahead of him. He’s at a rate better than anything posted by Pujols, Cabrera, ARod, Howard, Stanton, Trout, you name it; better than anybody still playing . . . and at age 22. The only better age-22 season ahead of him was posted by Ted Williams in 1941, when he hit .406. The guys ahead of Harper on the list are nearly all Hall of Famers, juicers, or Rockies (Walker and Helton), with a couple of oddball seasons from the 1890s in there for good measure:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/onbase_plus_slugging_season.shtml

    KW

    7 Sep 15 at 6:57 am

  42. Saw somewhere that if Bryce makes it to 40 HRs, he passes ARod into 4th all time for homers before age 23. Never going to catch the #1 guy, I think it was Mel Ott.

    Gotta say that the Mets are really hanging Harvey out to dry on this one, and I am completely in harvey’s camp. He is dealing with a medical uncertainty that only affects his entire career, one with earning power of maybe $200m. The Mets haven’t committed bubkis to him, not even offering to guarantee his arb years, maybe give him a little financial security to push things. And then publicly they just put it all right on to him to make the decision, knowing that if he says no, all of NY and the media will crucify him. Regardless of how this comes out, I can’t imagine harvey stays with them, and maybe starts agitating for a trade this winter.

    Forget whether either side is being too aggressive or cautious on the medicals. How you handle it says a lot about the organization. At least the Nats protected Stras, not letting him get too aggressive in pushing it, and taking the decision away from him publicly so that he wouldn’t be subject to this kind of pressure. I wonder if this whole harvey episode makes Stras reconsider extending here, appreciating how he was treated.

    Wally

    7 Sep 15 at 10:23 am

  43. Yep, the Mets are blaming Harvey and Boras. Class acts! Boz really blasted them in his column today. Somehow I imagine ol’ Scott will have a *long* memory about this . . .

    KW

    7 Sep 15 at 1:03 pm

  44. The definition of insanity – getting my hopes up! What a way to put a damper on a holiday. Once again, the Nats scored at least five and lost. Ugh.

    KW

    7 Sep 15 at 8:20 pm

  45. new posted. I have some thoughts on Harvey/Boras but not now. I want to see what exactly they do.

    Todd Boss

    8 Sep 15 at 9:22 am

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