Nationals Arm Race

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

NLDS Post Mortem


Not Aaron Barrett's finest moment. Photo via

Not Aaron Barrett’s finest moment. Photo via

So, if you told me that the Nats would lose the deciding NLDS game because Matt Williams chose to work the 7th inning with Matt Thornton, Aaron Barrett and then Rafael Soriano as the savior, I would have asked you, “was everyone else in the bullpen dead?”

Instead of going to war in a tie game with any of his three longest serving and most effective relievers (i.e., Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen) he went with a waiver claim, a rookie, and a deposed starter with an ERA after the all-star break north of 6.00.

I get bringing in Thornton to go against the first two lefties in the 7th; why the hell do you leave him in to face the Giant’s best hitter in Buster Posey?

When Posey inevitably singles to put guys on first and second with one out … clearly the key point in the game and the post-season … why do you bring in a frigging rookie instead of your #1 shut-down, high leverage reliever (Clippard)?

Was anyone really shocked when Barrett walked the next guy to load the bases?  Was anyone then subsequently surprised when he overgripped, overcome by the moment and bounced a mid 90s fastball to the fence?   Wilson Ramos looked like an amateur trying to “block” that pitch, stabbing at it backhanded like someone who’s never caught before, but whatever.  The damage had already been done.  If it wasn’t a wild pitch, it would have been a deep ground out, or a sac fly; the run expectancy of bases loaded with one out is more than 1.5.  I won’t even go into the little league IBB wild pitch; the poor guy was clearly still thinking about the run he just gave up and the weight of the team’s season was on his shoulders.

For the record, you’re not going to win a ton of games where you get just four hits.  Gio Gonzalez once again proved he wasn’t up to the task, and the Nats were lucky to get out of the 5th without giving up a run (also a bases-loaded, one-out jam that Tanner Roark mostly created on his own but also mostly got out of thanks to a ballsy 2-0 changeup to Pablo Sandoval).

No, the story of this game and this series can be summarized with the following list of lines for the 4-game series:

  • Leadoff hitter Denard Span: 2 for 19 with one walk.
  • #3 hitter Jayson Werth: 1 for 17
  • #4 hitter Adam LaRoche: 1 for 18
  • #5 hitter Ian Desmond: 3 for 18.

All of those hits?  Singles.  No power, no driving the ball from the heart of the order.  Basically, the top half of the Nats lineup played four games of automatic outs.  Hard to win like that.  The bottom half of the lineup wasn’t much better: Cabrera was just 3 for 15 though with two clutch hits and Ramos was just 2 for 17 in the series and was a guaranteed weak ground-ball to shortstop every time.

You’re not going to win games when your 3-4-5  hitters get 5 combined hits in four games, none for extra bases and none driving in any runs.  Did you know that Anthony Rendon was 9-17 with a walk and scored ZERO runs in the series?  He was on base TEN times in four games and never scored.  That’s a huge indictment of the middle of the Nats order.

The only hitters who showed up in this series were the two youngest regulars on the field; Rendon and Harper.  With three homers and a double in four games (driving in four of the 9 total runs the team scored), Harper showed once again why it was folly that he was batting 6th.  He drove in exactly four runs; had he been batting with Rendon on all the time, he may have batted in double that and we’re talking about a different series.

Its a bummer; the Nats offense picked a really crummy time to shut down, to make Ryan Vogelsong look like a staff ace.  And they’re out in the divisional round for the 2nd time in three years despite being the #1 seed.  Tim Hudson: you have your answer.

31 Responses to 'NLDS Post Mortem'

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  1. Todd – I agree with you. Their lack of hitting is what lost this series for them. Peavy, Hudson and Vogelsong are mediocre pitchers and we made them look like the Nats staff.

    But Williams, sheesh. Terrible. He had been improving throughout the season in his managerial decisions, but he had a bad series. Not hitting RZim for ALR several times earlier against Lopez was bad; I don’t care if he doesn’t think ZIM can play 1b, let Frandsen play there and burn another bench player. Those were important PAs (and it doesn’t matter that he got lucky and ALR walked once, that was a bad call). But last night’s bullpen decisions were unacceptable. Read Cameron’s piece on Fangraphs/Fox, I don’t actually like that guy but agree with his article completely. Unless Stras refused, he should have come in the 5th and tried to finish the game. You could see early on that Gio wasn’t sharp, so there was plenty of time to get Stras ready. I really think Williams tried to ‘get by’ with inferior pitchers until he had a lead. Inexcusable.

    I won’t say Williams poor decisions cost them the series, that’s on the hitting. But he hurt them and should take criticism for it.

    Big question is what does Rizzo do with this team now? I cannot see how they pay market prices for these guys to keep them, and bringing them all back for one more year seems equivalent to signing seep real high priced FAs on 1 year deals.


    8 Oct 14 at 9:15 am

  2. Williams showed pretty clearly that he cannot properly manage a pitching staff in this series. And that’s pretty troubling, considering that he also has a gaping issue with regards to favoring veterans over rookies. Managers can usually get by with one blind spot, not several.

    Williams’ answer in the post-game was also pretty eye opening; he’s going to continue to get crucified in the national press for his lack of flexibility at a time when it mattered most.

    Oh, by the way, I thought Stammen was your #1 7th inning guy?? Why wasn’t he out there instead of a rookie? Fine, tell me that you were saving your 8th and 9th inning guys for the inevitable lead that your impotent offense was going to somehow give you … but why are you pitching a rookie over a highly paid, long-time effective reliever?

    Todd Boss

    8 Oct 14 at 9:48 am

  3. Where do we go from here? probably another post.

    Todd Boss

    8 Oct 14 at 9:50 am


    Aforementioned Dave Cameron article. I generally like Cameron, thought he can be a bit “sniffly” about stats and his opinion of people who aren’t blindly accepting of them.

    Todd Boss

    8 Oct 14 at 9:54 am

  5. You can’t win if you don’t score. Nats gave us one of the worst hitting performances in playoff series history–losing to three starters with losing records.

    Williams bullpen miscues didn’t help, but why he didn’t start Zim at first in game three is a mystery to me, even though they won the game on a fluke play. If he did well, I would start him again in G4, using LaRoach as PH. Zim’s bat was desparately needed, as was a break for Ramos, who was clearly tired.


    8 Oct 14 at 9:58 am

  6. I can’t get past the offense as the killer for the series. The lack of extra base hits. The lack of home runs. The lack of stolen bases. The absence of any production from #3 & #4, and a comparably moribund performance from Desmond and Span.

    It’s hard for me to get worked up over Williams. The offensive FAIL was profound — without hyperbole. Profound. The point being, that it was so bad that to focus on a single mistake otherwise is unfair.

    The only thing I would add to that is the Storen FAIL in game 1. It’s the post, season, you are the closer, you have to get it done. The decision should have been moot. It was not a bad managerial decision, it was an arguable one. Storen made it bad because he choked.

    With that said, a few points.

    Williams deserves credit for a number of right decisions:

    1) Soriano on the roster. I wouldn’t have done it
    2) Schierholtz love. He came to play
    3) How he handled the bullpen in the extra inning game (post Storen)
    4) How he used Roark and Blevins yesterday

    I don’t think anyone anticipated the Barrett choke yesterday. It’s the major leagues! The Giants threw a first time performer at the Nats and he looked like Cy Young in the extra inning game.

    As for Gio, he was their lefty starter and had been pitching well. He was forgettable but face it, he got some breaks and limited the damage. That’s on him and not on MW. And it’s on the offense. It;s all on the offense.

    They %&%&$PU$@!
    They %$#@! *&^(^%!

    Hard not to find a place for Souza and Harper in the same outfield after this anemic choke. Ironic that the last we heard from Souza was one of the only things lacking from the Nats in the playoffs. Clutch.

    As for Zimm, it seems obvious to me he was incapable of playing the field because of his hamstring. He was Kirk Gibson.

    As for Desi, he may be a leader of the team, but he sure did not earn his long term contract this series.

    Fister did. Zimm did.

    The pitching was altogether terrific, with the few outliers. Really, if anyone told us the Nats would give up no more than three runs in any game in the entire series of 45 innings pitched, we would have ALL been happy.

    The pitching was altogether good enough to win the series in three, the offense truly bad enough to lose the series in three. It’s actually that simple.


    8 Oct 14 at 11:01 am

  7. forensicane: what first time performer from the Giants? Strickland? If the Nats had won that game on Harper’s homer against him .. are we mocking Bochy for his ridiculous bullpen decisions too?

    When I saw Barrett come in, I immediately questioned it. If i could have written this blog post at that moment I would have. Just dumb.

    Todd Boss

    8 Oct 14 at 11:32 am

  8. Bullpen decisions may be questionable. But my reading is a bit different. The Nationals have lost all 3 games by 1 run, and for 2 of them…

    Game 1: Passed ball
    Game 4: Wild pitch

    For that matter, a 2-run error by the Giants helped us stash Game 3 away relatively safely.

    Bottomline is: the Nationals and Giants are evenly matched when it comes to gap between hitters and opposing pitchers. The Nationals choked – they just don’t have it in their make-up. They only play good baseball when comfortably ahead.

    You yourself have observed that Bochy’s bullpen decisions are as strange as MW’s. Also, was anyone really expecting Storen to give up runs *both* times when he was brought in? You included it in your list of most effective pitchers.

    The Nationals just crumbled under pressure as usual. MW can’t help with that.


    8 Oct 14 at 12:01 pm

  9. Your point is fair, Todd, but forensicane is right: Nothing Matt Williams did lost this series. If he’d put Stammen or Clip in the game and they’d gotten out of the inning, then what? Without hitting, it doesn’t matter. What will always encapsulate this utter disaster of a series for me will be innings 9-18 of game 2, during which time the Nats had over 30 AB’s, any of which could have won the game with one swing, and they accomplished nothing. The pitching was fine, except Storen. The manager was imperfect, but all of them are, and none of the losses was his fault. No, this failure belongs to Span, Werth, ALR, Desmond, and Ramos.


    8 Oct 14 at 12:20 pm

  10. Todd–you’re going to have to change that Earl Weaver quote at the top of your main page. This loss was ALL on the offense. SIX earned runs given up in essentially five games and you lose the series? Absolutely inexcusable.

    Williams’s decision making might not have been great, but he was like a pilot of a jet airline in which all of the engines have cut out, desperately pressing buttons as it plummets to earth. This wasn’t Davey Johnson blowing a 6-run lead in Game 5 by mismanaging then pen, this was a total team failure on the part of every offensive starter over the age of 25.

    I totally agree with forensicane that unless they can bring in a big outfield bat from the outside this offseason, they have to get Souza into the everyday lineup. And a trade for a second basemen who can hit would be welcome as well. Next year is the last year of “the window” before the real free agency defections begin. Rizzo should be pulling out all the stops to fix his anemic lineup while he still has his outstanding rotation intact.


    8 Oct 14 at 12:27 pm

  11. JC: fair points. Counter: in a series of close games, managerial decisions like Williams’ throughout the series become even more exaggerated. What if zimmermann finished out game 2? What if the “right” relievers were pitching in the 7th inning of a “no game tomorrow if we lose” game?

    The Giants scored three runs last night: one on a bases-loaded walk. One on a fielder’s choice. One on a wild pitch. No homers, no bases clearing extra base hits. Just professional baseball execution. Williams’ decisions throughout the game last night didn’t help.

    Todd Boss

    8 Oct 14 at 12:40 pm

  12. First of all, thanks to everyone here for keeping the discussions sane. On some other sites, they’re firing Williams, firing Rizzo, firing the batboys. I’m glad the posters are getting passionate about the Nats, but . . .

    Look, it was an ultra-tight series against a well-tested team, with both teams scoring only nine runs. You’re not going to beat many teams by scoring only nine runs in 45 innings, no matter how the bullpen is handled.

    To the original issue, I have no problem with Thornton starting the inning against the two lefties, but, like everyone else, I would have had Clippard ready for Posey. Frankly, Barrett wouldn’t have even been in my plans until well into extra innings. But clearly, Williams believes in the guys he kept on the roster, and sometimes it paid off. You could have won a lot of bets if you’d said before the series that Blevins would be the key guy to extricate the Nats from major jams in three games.

    You hate to have to have a loss as the catalyst, but perhaps how the postseason played out will force a harder look at some things, like whether to bring Span back and whether to pony up for a Desmond extension. LaRoche certainly sealed his fate.

    Also, from here forward, this is now Bryce’s team. Deal with it. A 21-year-old put that team on his back. He’s ready to carry it. Harper and Rendon are the future, and it’s time for youth to be served, particularly since those two nearly out-hit the rest of the team combined.


    8 Oct 14 at 1:21 pm

  13. Clippard’s non-usage: Cameron’s chat he postulated a point that I kind of can see: he thinks that Williams no longer trusted Storen, so was saving Clippard for the 9th and never even came close to considering him for the 7th. Doesn’t explain why Barrett goes in instead of Stammen.

    Harper showed up this series, in a big, big way. As did Rendon. Ironic that those two are the ones that were forced to adjust all season long to the “vets” instead of vice versa. LaRoche is gone, and you can’t possibly bat 4 righties in a row in the heart of the Nats order (Rendon-Werth-Zimmerman-Desmond) so Harper will be inserted in the middle somewhere. Likely 4th to get a good L-R balance. Push Desmond to 6th.

    Another question i’m thinking about: as much as we love Ramos … did he show limitations in this series that might have the Nats thinking about a replacement at catcher? Didn’t get in front of the WP, poor catcher framing (noticeably pointed out by pundits), and a zero at the plate. Do you chalk it up to catching all 18 innings? If so, what was Posey’s excuse for not showing any wear after he also caught all 18 innings?

    Todd Boss

    8 Oct 14 at 1:46 pm

  14. Todd. I was referring to Yusmeiro Petit. Nobody saw that coming. The Nats made him look like Pedro Martinez. There is no arguing that.


    8 Oct 14 at 2:28 pm

  15. Ah Petit. Yeah they sure did. But he’s no rookie:

    Good pitcher but still a 5th starter.

    Todd Boss

    8 Oct 14 at 2:53 pm

  16. Of course the biggest culprit was the offense, but what Williams did mattered too (it was possible to win game 4 despite their failings, and he lowered those odds). We don’t know how the the rest of the game would have played out had he made better decisions and it stayed tied after 7.

    I believe a manager needs to only do the following (on the field, other important things go into off the field skills) (i) play your best players, and put the better ones in position to get up more often than the weaker ones; (ii) pitch your best pitchers more often, and in situations that are the most important (if you can figure that out). I think Williams failed this test.

    Some random comments:
    JC said …Bottomline is: the Nationals and Giants are evenly matched when it comes to gap between hitters and opposing pitchers.
    Except that the Giants hit badly against the best rotation in baseball, while the Nats did so against a mediocre group (at best). So I think the Giants played closer to (or above) their true abilities, while the underperformance was quite a bit higher for the Nats.

    I am still waiting to hear why Strasburg wasn’t brought in the 5th inning to possibly close it out. I haven’t had the stomach to go read all the post mortems, but haven’t heard any excuse offered other than ‘He wasn’t an option’ Why the feck not? Seriously, is this being talked about? If no, why isn’t it being talked about? If anyone has seen a rational reason why, I’d like to know.

    I’ll acknowledge that this is probably an overreaction, but I think the lineup needs a pretty big overhaul, even if they take a step back first. I guess that maybe I am just tired of watching them, but I really don’t want to see this line up again next year. I wouldn’t be upset if ALR, Werth, Span and Desi are all replaced next year, and I am close to adding FotF too. I don’t care if they aren’t tradeable – everyone can be traded if you kick in enough money and these guys all have some degree of value. I’d accept a mediocre record for a year or so to transition to some new position players to build around.


    8 Oct 14 at 3:12 pm

  17. Argh … this bugs me. Don’t know if it makes a difference last night or not, but I think this rationale is crap.

    Afterward, Williams chafed when asked if he had a scenario in mind when he wanted to use Strasburg.

    “It’s irrelevant,” Williams said. “Did I have a scenario in mind when we were going to Stephen? No, it’s irrelevant. Doesn’t matter. He didn’t pitch.”
    Arghh …ARGHH. It’s not irrelevant, at least 1 ticket buying fan wants to know WHY.

    To follow up, Williams was asked if he considered using Strasburg to piggyback Gio Gonzalez, the role Tanner Roark played.

    “No, that’s Tanner,” Williams said. “Stephen, as I told you in pregame, it’s emergency-only for Stephen tonight. We get into late innings, then he’s our guy. He’s only on three days’ rest. Tanner is rested and ready.”
    Again, WHY? Isn’t Stras your best (you started him Game 1)? If you are going to lose, don’t you want to at least make them beat your best?

    Can someone recommend a therapist? I may need outside help letting go.


    8 Oct 14 at 5:11 pm

  18. I don’t understand the logic behind not even really considering Stras. He’s not that fragile anymore. Oh, and Charlie and Dave did confirm that Stras pitched in relief early in his San Diego State career, so it’s not a totally foreign concept for him.

    Oh well, moving on. Todd, I agree with you in starting to question the overall value of Ramos. He isn’t terrible defensively, but his value is on offense. If he isn’t producing at the plate, his value diminishes considerably. I’ve thought of him as a guy capable of 30-35 HRs if he could stay healthy, but he hasn’t. But Lobaton isn’t a very good everyday option, either, and the catcher prospects are a few years away.

    One could put up or down arrows next to nearly every player after the harsh light of the playoffs. I used to think that Zimmermann wouldn’t be worth what it would take to sign him, but now I’m not so sure. Still, I can’t see the Nats going to the Greinke level. We’ll see. I do think the Nats now have more incentive to get a Fister deal done, not only because he pitched so well, but also because Gio looked as shaky again as he did in 2012. He simply can’t be counted on to be one of the rotation leaders in the playoffs.

    I was also thinking that the Nats really might be looking to move Clippard before he gets too expensive for a set-up man, but with Storen wavering in the spotlight, maybe not so fast. Of course if Thornton and Barrett were auditioning for the 8th inning slot next year, it didn’t go so well.


    8 Oct 14 at 8:15 pm

  19. Wally, you might have missed my point when I said that the “Nats and Giants are evenly-matched when it comes to hitters and opposing pitchers.” I’m saying that the Nats have inferior hitters, so even with mediocre pitching, the Giants kept them at bay.

    This is not news for the Nats – their situation hitting has been lacking in key games. RISP BA doesn’t tell the whole story – if they look at RISP BA in close games (tied, or run differential < 3), I think things will be obvious.

    Todd, any thoughts on the above statistic?


    8 Oct 14 at 8:15 pm

  20. The parallels to 2012 almost made me sick. No one can hit, starting pitching falls apart, Storen looks like a deer in headlights, the manager is dead from the neck up…I’m looking REALLY HARD for a reason to give a sh*t about the Nats next year.


    8 Oct 14 at 8:58 pm

  21. Todd, I agree 100%. I’ve been complaining about MW’s vet-oriented philosophy and inflexible decision making all year. Now, everyone’s talking about it. Problem is, I think we’re back in the same spot next year making the same mistakes, and it makes me sad.

    To Ramos – I may be the only one, but I love him. He shuts down the running game and when his hitting is on, he is a force. He could be better at framing, yes, but I think framing is a ridiculous need and that umps need to get better calling strikes (or machines should call strikes). How many other catchers have the ability to hit like Ramos does? Few. What other catchers have we tried in recent years – Suzuki, Flores, Lobaton… ugh.

    Andrew R

    8 Oct 14 at 11:40 pm

  22. JC: The biggest issue with the 2013 Nats was “clutch hitting.” They were dead last in the majors in clutch hitting in 2013, batting .216 in such situations. In 2014 they improved … all the way to 29th. Still hit .223 in such situations.

    In the post season? I dunno how fangraphs defines its high/low leverages, nor does it look like they have post season stats.

    Todd Boss

    9 Oct 14 at 11:14 am

  23. Andrew R on Ramos: i’m definitely not saying “dump Ramos” over his poor blocking attempt there. We have no idea what’s really going on; if a guy with a mid-90s FB is supposed to throw an inside fastball (to a righty) but over-grips it and bounces it like Barrett did … missing his spot by 3-4 *feet* … it may not be humanly possible to get into perfect pitch-blocking techniques.

    Ramos’ framing skills seem to be middle of the road-to-slightly-bad.

    Todd Boss

    9 Oct 14 at 11:25 am

  24. But is “clutch hitting” a skill? Or just noise? I remember two years ago when the Cardinals had that insane split with RISP and everyone lauded their “approach” and “savvy” (etc) … and then last year with mostly the same guys they basically cratered with RISP.

    John C.

    9 Oct 14 at 2:55 pm

  25. JohnC: I offer the following stats: Looking at their team batting average over the course of 162 games.

    Nats in 2013: .251 for the season (17th in MLB), .252 with men on base (19th in MLB), .245 with men in scoring position (21st) but just .216 in “high leverage” situations (dead last in MLB).

    Nats in 2014: .253 for the season (12th in MLB), .255 with men on base (18th), .242 with men in scoring position (24th) and just .223 in high leverage situations (29th in MLB).

    If it was just noise, i’d expect to see the same BA for the season for all four of these scenarios. Maybe expect a slight lowering in the high leverage situations, knowing that its probably lots of end-games with closers and high K guys. But the important part is their relative rank in the league; how do you have the 12th best MLB batting average as a team but the 2nd worst in high leverage situations? And basically do that two years in a row with similar personnel?

    Todd Boss

    9 Oct 14 at 3:39 pm

  26. I don’t think clutch hitting is a skill, I think writers try to give meaning to randomness. I know that sentence is straight out of the sabremetricians handbook, but I believe this one is true.

    As for Ramos, I have been a big fan and thought that if he could stay healthy, he’d be a top 5 catcher. I no longer think that but still think he is probably a better than average catcher when healthy. Better offensively than defensively, good arm, poor at catching the ball, and middle of the road framer (not sure about the last one). But the last 5 weeks or so just puzzles me. He looked so lethargic that I thought maybe he caught mono or something. Seemed like a guaranteed ground all to 2B. Once I thought the Nats should look to lock him up through his prime, but now I think I’d just go year to year. I no longer think he is special enough to merit a long term deal.

    But as for the wild pitch? Primary fault was Barrett but really bad play by the Buffalo, too. I caught all the way into college, and you are taught early on not to trust your ability to backhand a ball with runners on base, but to give up your body to block it. Backhanding the ball is lazy. No excuse for it in a playoff game.


    9 Oct 14 at 3:55 pm

  27. Wally, those clutch hitting stats are so far beyond the norm that they have to mean something. I believe in some guys being clutch – the king was Jeter. How does David Freese always seem to hit homers in the postseason, but stink in the regular season? I don’t know how to cultivate that “clutchness,” but I do believe it exists.

    Andrew R

    9 Oct 14 at 9:30 pm

  28. Andrew R – I agree it feels that way, but I don’t think the stats support it generally (maybe un-clutch guys, like you are saying about the Nats). I think the big events just stand out more in our minds, which maybe gives a different impression than the stats.

    At first blush, David Freese looks to be the poster child for clutch:
    reg season : .348/.417/.765
    Post season: .357/.517/.874
    Over 100 OPS better in post season, case closed (although I’d say he didn’t really stink in the regular season).

    But looking more closely, he had an insane first post season, and then underperformed his career regular season averages the last three years (in almost twice the PAs).
    2011: .450/.704/1.154 5 HRs
    2012-2014: .288/.320/.608 3 HRs

    And Mr. November is almost exactly the same (great) player in post season as in regular season, and he had 650 PAs in the post season, which lets the sample size be more meaningful.
    Reg: .377/.440/.817
    Post: .374/.465/.838

    I can see a guy performing worse than his true talent level when the pressure is on (Barrett seemed to do that on Tuesday), but it is hard for me to believe that they can get better than they normally are. To be honest, I think it is more logical that everyone should do somewhat worse than their regular season numbers in the playoffs, because by definition, you’re playing against the best regular season teams and presumably pitchers, so you lose those games against the Astros to boost your numbers, plus the other teams are playing reliever matchups with you more often, which decreases your odds of success from the regular season – well, some teams use their relievers to create favorable match ups. 🙂


    10 Oct 14 at 12:00 am

  29. Since we were talking about Ramos, here is a write up on him (written with a fantasy angle, but some good baseball points)


    10 Oct 14 at 9:03 am

  30. Todd,

    The issue you raise with clutch hitting is illuminating and perhaps clinches the point that the loss to the Giants was not a fluke after all. I admit I am nevertheless at a loss to embed that metric in the impressive tally of come from behind wins the Nats had this year. If they do not hit in the clutch, how do they come from behind?

    We already know that the pinch-hitting was comparable to just having the pitchers hit.

    With that said, a few observations here:

    The team’s starting pitching is championship level. And Zimmerman and Fister are arguably the best starters on the team. If either can be negotiated to sign, I say lock them up. If they cannot, the Nats have tremendous, tremendous trade chips in either one, particularly if the trading team is able to negotiate signing. But much as I love prospects as much as the next person, a pitcher who is a sure thing, proven in the postseason (at this point) and a player that brings an infectious confidence to the team is immensely valuable. I think those two are worth every penny.

    I’m not so sure that if both are signed, that Strasburg does not become the trade chip, especially since he ended the season so brightly and still has such a luminous marquee quality about him. I’m not suggesting to trade him; but I am suggesting that Fister and Zimmerman may be more valuable investments if the team can only lock up two of them, and if the team’s target requires such a return.

    As for Desi, it’s hard not to be on the fence with him, but he has established himself among the elite SS of the game. The Ryan Zimmerman financial burden, however, ought to give the team pause about length of contract. This feels like the kind of contract for which Rizzo should pay more for less years if he wants to get it done.

    I don’t see this discussed here, and I know someone is going to bite my head off. But Rendon was tried at SS in Spring 2013 and acquitted himself just fine. The guy is a great player and gives the team more positional flexibility that we realize. Just sayin.’

    So as for Desi, I think the team will try to sign him because there is no immediate replacement available. However, he knows that and so the figures may not make sense.

    Asdrubal Cabrera is not the answer. Nor is right handed hitting Espinosa.

    I would sign Clippard, to be sure. Whether Storen gets the ball again is a tougher call.

    I’m still pretty high on Ramos. He just needs to stay healthy and to have an off season to recover the get all of his power back. His defense is altogether strong and hard as it is to have two way threat catchers, he is worth the team’s commitment at least for another year of the development of the farm team products.

    After watching the Nats offensive choke and seeing the suggestion above about clutch hitting, I am all the more hoping that Souza is in the plans for next year as a 4th OF.

    Much as I have advocated it in the past, and the fact that he was part of the problem in the postseason, I’m not sure that jettisoning Span is the answer yet. Even with a full outfield, injuries happen and Taylor needs more seasoning. Souza can hit off the bench and can run in late innings and can provide a break here and there without the dropoff we saw from Nate McLouth and Scott Hairston. By the time we get to June 2015, we will see how Span fits in to the rest of the year and will have far better confidence in the ceiling of Taylor, and perhaps Brian Goodwin or even Destin Hood. But I think that trading Souza would be a big mistake.

    The team has more trade chips to really get any player they want, especially if any of the frontline starting pitchers are on the table. I cannot remember the team having the trade depth that they have right now.

    Steve M from Zuckerman’s board suggests that the Nats were close to trading Gio earlier this year. The Cubs have middle infield inventory and there is history between the two teams.


    12 Oct 14 at 2:07 am

  31. The idea of a Gio trade is not so far-fetched, given his good contract and strong performance.

    If there is a left-handed starter who is targeted along the way, or lefty starting depth that comprises the package they get for marquee players they trade, trading Gio may be less of a loss to the team’s future than any of the others.

    Also, Rafael Martin was unbreakable in the last few months of the season. I’m hoping the team can find a way to keep him under control. He was even more successful than Christian Garcia in his memorable run, and does not have the injury baggage. Just wanted to show him some love. Hey, once people thought Tanner Roark was an organizational arm, too. Martin is no longer the same pitcher he was in earlier years (in an improved way).


    12 Oct 14 at 2:16 am

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