Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats are quickly letting this season slip away


So, how long before Martinez gets fired? Photo via Geoff Burke/USA today

So, how long before Martinez gets fired?
Photo via Geoff Burke/USA today

“Its early.”

“Its only May.”

“Its a long season.”


The Nats woke up this morning (after a well deserved night’s sleep presumably after their interesting plane odyssey from Philadelphia sunday night) and find themselves seven games under .500.  And their next 15 games, taking them completely through the month of May, are against Milwaukee (best team in the NL last year by record), Los Angeles Dodgers (2x defending NL champs), New York Mets (who have 3 arms who at any given time will shut down a team), and the Cubs (currently in 1st place in the Central and of course 4x straight playoff participants).

So, we probably shouldn’t be surprised when they go 5-10 or 6-9 between now and June 1.  Lets give them the benefit of the doubt and they go 6-9; that’d put their record at 20-30 through their first 50 games.

That’s ridiculous.

Yes they’ve gotten hit with injuries.  Tell that to the Yankees, who (as of this writing) have 12 guys on the IL yet are seven games ABOVE .500.  They too have lost key hitters (they’ve yet to have Aaron Hicks take an AB this  year, and have both their primary sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge on the IL as we speak), yet they keep on cruising despite being in a division with Tampa AND last year’s 108-game winning Boston team.

So what’s the difference?   Why is a team like NY able to weather this storm but the Nationals seem impotent?  It isn’t payroll; while the Yankees have a higher payroll than the Nats, the delta is almost entirely made up by one awful contract to Jacoby Ellsbury, who hasn’t played a game for the team since late 2017.

Is it management?   Both the Nats and the Yankees jettisoned experienced, veteran managers at the same time in Dusty Baker and Joe Giradi; both got replaced by rookie managers (Dave Martinez and Aaron Boone).    Boone came straight to the Yankees dugout from the broadcast booth, having spent basically every day after his playing retirement in the ESPN broadcast booth.  Boone did not have *one day* of professional managerial experience or even professional coaching experience before taking over the club.  Meanwhile Martinez was Joe Maddon‘s bench coach for more than a decade, interviewed with half the league for managerial openings before the Nats picked him.   What’s happened since?

  • Boone inherited a 91 win team, won 100 games in his first season and they have a .600 winning pct this year
  • Martinez inherited a 97 win team, guided them to an 82 win season in 2018 and they have a .400 winning pct this  year.

I guess those 12 years as a bench coach weren’t nearly as valuable as broadcasting games and eating off of expense accounts that Boone did for a decade.  Maybe we should hire J.P. Santangelo to be Martinez’ replacement when he gets fired in a few weeks time.

Is it ownership?  If you’ve read a single word that Tom Boswell has written about the Nats managerial situation, you’ll have read these points:

  • Mike Rizzo and the “baseball people” absolutely did not want to get rid of Baker
  • They were more or less bewildered by the choice of having to “find” someone to manage in 2018
  • The owners, for reasons inexplicable, continue to view the on-field manager as a lowly mid-manager and not a well-paid, important position.

Is it roster construction?  I personally thought that the off-season moves were fantastic.  Gomes, Suzuki, Dozier, resigning Adams, signing Corbin, getting two closer-quality arms in Rosenthal and Barraclough.  So what the heck is going on?    Why can’t this team find 7 competent relievers to sit on the bench in RF awaiting a chance to “do no harm?”

Here’s the ERAs of the current 8 guys in the bullpen: 0.00 (Fedde), 1.15, 1.42, 6.75, 7.07, 3.55, 10.80, 16.88.  So of course last night, when you needed someone to bail out the team after Strasburg‘s start fell apart in the 7th … you pick the f*cking guy with the 16.88 ERA!  Why??  At what point do you look at the bullpen decisions of the manager and say to yourself, “enough is enough?”

This team, instead of dipping into any one of a dozen arms in AAA or AA who are pitching lights out, chose to give a contract to a re-tread who sat out the entirety of the spring training w/o a deal … and who now has retired just 8 of the 21 batters he’s faced.  Why does he still have a job?   How is it possible that this team missed so badly in their roster decisions w/r/t Trevor Gott (who currently has a sub 2.00 ERA for San Francisco) this spring?  Was Gott really a lesser arm than Tanner RaineyJames BourqueAustin Adams and Jimmy Cordero?  Clearly he was, since the all four of these guys were kept instead of Gott.

Why is the team signing guys off the street instead of trying out Rainey, Bourque and Cordero?  Why are they on the 40-man roster if you’re not going to use them?    Go look up Bourque’s numbers in AA last year and this year; they’re phenomenal; why isn’t he getting called up?  If your argument for not calling up Rainey and Cordero is, “they’re too wild in AAA” then, *why the hell are they on the roster?*  If the answer is, “Oh well Rainey throws 100” well who frigging cares how hard you throw it if you can’t find the plate and thus can’t get called up and be trusted in MLB settings.   Same with frigging Cordero; he was *awful* for the team last year, yet still occupies a roster spot, walking guys in AAA at nearly a guy an inning.  Why?

DFA these guys, call up guys in the minors who ARE pitching well.  There’s a slew of candidates at AAA (Derek Self, Dakota Bacus, Vidal Nuno has improved lately) who are pitching well.   Same with AA (Mario Sanchez, Jacob Condra-Bogan, even Aaron Barrett are pitching great).  I would have Included Adams here, with his ridiculous 21/3 K/BB ratio in AAA this year, but for reasons inexplicable the team opted to DFA him and trade him for a non-top 30 prospect and keep the  unused Rainey/Bourque/Cordero crew instead of retaining him and seeing if his stuff would play this year in the majors.  He got one inning of work this year; unlike Trevor Rosenthal he was actually able to COMPLETE said inning despite walking a couple of guys.   You mean to tell me that was any worse than what Jennings could give us?

And then there’s the bats.  Here’s our current non-catcher bench: Sanchez, Noll, Stevenson.  Wow; do these guys have 5 career homers between them??   Way to really pack the bench with slap hitters for those crucial late-inning PH opportunities.  Meanwhile Fresno has three veteran guys who are hitting the cover off the ball in Brandon Snyder (Westfields HS grad!), Jacob Wilson and Yadiel Hernandez.  Any of them getting a sniff?   Of course not.  Because the team has to keep around guys like Kyle McGowin as an 8th starter (current AAA ERA: 5.00 in 7 starts) and a catcher they’ll probably never use in Raudy Read.  Why??  Are you *trying* to win games?   Why is Jake Noll taking pinch hitting duties at the major league level??

I dunno.  Something needs to change.  I just don’t get the way this team is being managed right now, both on and off the field.

/rant off.

45 Responses to 'Nats are quickly letting this season slip away'

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  1. … And their first reaction is to run out and sign Gerardo Parra, a guy who was hitting .198 for SF this year. A glove-first OF who can’t play center (well, can’t play it well any more apparently, since he didn’t once appear in CF last year for Colorado (an indictment in and among itself, since Colorado allowed Charlie Blackmon to play awful CF defense all year instead).

    Todd Boss

    8 May 19 at 1:50 pm

  2. I’ll bet the corresponding 40-man move is Austen Williams to 60-day.

    Todd Boss

    8 May 19 at 1:52 pm

  3. … make that 8 games under .500 with the listless loss today, getting swept in Milwaukee. geeze.

    Todd Boss

    8 May 19 at 4:57 pm

  4. I don’t get it either Todd. Why would anyone even want to play in this organization if they don’t get rewarded for hitting .500 in AAA and their spots held by .125 hitters on the MLB bench or lineup.

    No wonder our players never progress through the system, other than the few high profile chosen one’s that might make Rizzo look smart. How can they stay motivated if they know they won’t ever get a chance no matter how well they perform?

    Nat’s management doesn’t know how to improve or fix any players. You better get here fully formed like Scherzer. And they don’t know how to ease a minor leaguer with talent into the lineup in comfortable growth oriented situations. Like the Austin’s… making the team on opening day and knowing you have rope is different than the do or die pressure filled situations they get brought up in.


    8 May 19 at 8:12 pm

  5. This team looks like a bunch of independent contractors at the plate. None of the ab’s fit together. Nobody ever alters a stance or approach no matter how poorly they are performing. Soto struggled all year and not because he lost bat speed or athleticism. It was all approach. That falls on coaching.

    Difo is one of the strongest players pound for pound in the league yet has some of the least power with that stupid crouching stance. He should stand up and get some leverage in his swing. I would tell Zimm and the other high K guys I would rather they get called out looking on outside paint strikes 10 times in row before they swing at another outside pitch

    I would tell Rendon to show some emotion the next time he picks up his huge paycheck because his low energy, bored at the game attitude spreads through the team. The true power hitters should be the only ones with any uppercut in their swings. Way too many pop outs and weak fly balls by our slap hitters. We need to up the walks and get all the K’s and pop outs and big swings by small hitters out of the lineup. Difo and Eaton’s couple home runs season are not worth all the shallow fly balls.

    When Suzuki might be the best player on your team and Rendon your team leader, you’re in deep trouble.


    8 May 19 at 9:42 pm

  6. Marty i know you can’t stand Anthony Rendon for his “low energy” approach, but it is what it is. What makes you even think he’s the “team leader?” What does that even mean? he’s not the highest paid player (Strasburg), nor the longest tenured (Zimmerman), nor the “best” in terms of career achievements (Scherzer). I’m not sure who the union rep is these days (thought it was Trea Turner for some reason but that probably doesn’t make sense).

    Was Albert Pujols high energy? Was he a team leader, someone you’d want on your team? of course. Harper was extremely high energy and was constantly criticised for it. So you can’t win or lose.

    but i’ll say this: the fact that Rendon plays a more “calm” manner has NOTHING to with this team’s malaise. Who frigging cares. All he’s done when healthy is produce: seasons of 6.6, 3.9, 5.9, 4.2 bWAR. I don’t want him to change at all.

    Todd Boss

    9 May 19 at 10:15 am

  7. Wow Marty, sounds like you should be the new hitting coach with all that observation….


    9 May 19 at 10:23 am

  8. What is Rendon’s clutch war?

    Would you like 9 Rendon attitudes on the field? I’ll take his play but 1 is plenty. If he’s bored playing I’m bored watching.

    I’ll take 9 Daniel Murphys or 9 Howie Kendricks.

    Howie Kendrick and Daniel Murphy are the only players I’ve seen here last few years who can consistently put up a good ab against a really good pitcher.


    9 May 19 at 11:08 am

  9. marty: define “clutch.” Its nonsense. Its made up sports writer narrative BS. You can’t find such a measure because it doesn’t exist.

    Nine Rendons on the field would be a 120 win team. You realize that right?

    Why do you assume that Rendon’s demeanor on the field in any way affects his play?? Why does someone have to be screaming on the field to be effective?

    That link is Rendon’s per-pitcher career stats. You can find PLENTY Of quality pitchers that he crushes. He has .300 career averages against Cy Young quality guys like Nola, Snydergaard, Kershaw, Arrieta, Bumgarner. So to say he’s unable to put up a “good ab” against a quality pitcher is nonsense.

    Todd Boss

    9 May 19 at 11:40 am

  10. The closest thing you can find to “clutch” measures is leverage index stats in

    Rendon’s lines are lower across the board in high leverage versus low and medium. But you know what? So are Babe ruths and Ted Williams. These figures don’t take into account specialty relievers, matchup arms and closers, all of which by default make it a heck of a lot more difficult for anyone to be awesome in “high leverage” situations.

    So what does that prove? If someone hits 200 against Mariano Rivera for his career, does that mean that player isn’t “clutch?”

    Todd Boss

    9 May 19 at 11:53 am

  11. BTW, if you havn’t read Tom Boswell’s article today:

    or Ken Rosenthals:

    then well … they’re basically asking the same questions we are here. What the heck is going on. Where is this franchise going? Why has this happened?

    Todd Boss

    9 May 19 at 1:03 pm

  12. Marty, it’s great that you like watching Murphy and Kendrick. I like watching them too. But Rendon and Harper are simply better hitters than those two are (in Harper’s case, better by a lot). I would bet an exorbitant amount of money that Juan Soto will be a better hitter than either of them as well (Soto’s hitting stats in 2018 are better than any season of Howie’s career, and better than all but one season of Murphy’s career – 2016 – which is *barely* better than Soto’s age-19 season)

    I mean, Howie’s career WRC+ is 107, which means he is slightly better than league average at producing runs, which is good for a 2B and great for someone coming off the bench. That’s his average. Harper has never had a single season as bad as Howie’s average (even Harper’s slump-riddled 2016 was better). Howie’s BEST season is 123, which Rendon has surpassed in three of his six seasons. A team of nine Rendons would absolutely demolish a team of nine Murphys or a team of nine Kendricks. The Murphy/Kendrick team would have a demonstrably worse hitter, a demonstrably worse fielder, and a demonstrably worse baserunner at every single position!

    You need to stop conflating “guys you like to watch hit” with “guys that are good at at hitting.” Your comments make clear that those two things are not the same.


    9 May 19 at 1:04 pm

  13. Todd Boss

    9 May 19 at 1:05 pm

  14. Hey, its “Pile on the nats day” in the natioanl media! Here’s another one

    Todd Boss

    9 May 19 at 2:28 pm

  15. Derek.. I totally disagree…. especially on Murphy.

    When Murph was healthy with us he was a threat to get multiple hits every night. He rarely slumped. And didn’t often strike out. (throw out last year as he wasn’t healthy for us)

    I would take him over Harper’s months long feast or famine streaks 10 times out of 10. With a guy in scoring position I want a great consistent hitter, not a streak hitter up. I enjoyed watching Murph’s day to day ab’s much more than Harper.

    How many times do we just need a lousy single or ball in play? Much more than a bases empty homer once a week.

    I’m not saying Howie on Murph’s level but he is the best we’ve got re a contact bat by far. If i need a ball in play I’d take Howie over anyone on our team at the moment.

    Of course Soto has much more potential than all of them. But team needs to coach him out of the early bad habits this year before they snowball.

    Murphy was a tough out every ab. Harper is often an easy out for long stretches. A team full of Harpers would get no-hit often. Because when he is bad, he is totally lost and awful for long stretches.

    And it looks like Rizzo did it again. Signing Dozier, a streaky warm weather hitter to ruin the first 20% of the season in that spot.

    Yes I am guilty of liking consistent vs. streaky.


    9 May 19 at 3:19 pm

  16. Todd, I think the most important thing you brought up here is why the f.o. is not dipping into the farm to see what they have.

    Jennings was a good try, but after he showed he has nothing why is he still around.

    Mark L

    9 May 19 at 4:00 pm

  17. The real point abut Rendon is…

    It’s much better when the best players on your team are the leaders of your team.

    Rendon’s the best player but he’s not a leader.

    Murphy was a leader, and pseudo batting coach. i was hoping they would sign him to long term contract and transition him to batting coach.

    Nat’s have had issues with position player leadership. When Zimm was best player he certainly wasn’t a leader. He’s first in line to make excuses.

    Werth tried to be THE leader but he wasn’t a very good player, so that leadership was out of joint. Did the other players even like him or respond to him? (other than Harper)

    Harper was best player supposedly, but not a leader and looks like his teammates didn’t even like him very much.

    I realize that’s esoteric for this stats centric audience…


    9 May 19 at 4:09 pm

  18. Marty, you’re free to disagree, and it’s certainly fine for you to prefer to watch Murphy’s ABs over Harper’s. And I’ll stipulate that Murphy is better at putting a ball in play than Harper (though I’d want to look at the data to make sure). But “putting a ball in play” is only part of hitting. Getting on base is part of hitting. Hitting for power is part of hitting. When you consider all aspects of hitting, Harper isn’t just a little better than Murphy, he’s MUCH MUCH better than Murphy.

    Harper and Murphy’s careers have overlapped since 2012. That’s seven full seasons and part of an eighth. Murphy has been a better hitter than Harper during exactly one of those seasons (2016). And that one season is the ONLY season that would be considered above average for Harper.

    I’m sorry man, it’s just contra all available facts that you think Murphy is better. He’s just not.

    And on what planet is a lousy single better than a homerun?


    9 May 19 at 4:57 pm

  19. Back on topic: there’s an interesting point in Jaffe’s article on Fangraphs about the Nats’ outfield defense. The three OFs (Soto, Robles, Eaton) have bad numbers so far this year. I am very resistant to placing any stock in six weeks worth of defensive metrics, but that’s not the whole story. The numbers also show that Harper has been much better in the OF this year compared to his last few years with the Nats. Jaffe suggests that the Nats’ OF positioning may have something to do with the current poor defensive performance of the OF, as well as Harper’s poor performance last year. Way too early to tell, of course, but this is a plausible story, IMO.

    Incidentally, Robles has not looked like the defensive wizard we were led to expect. He’s made some great throws and he’s clearly fast. But he’s failed to make a bunch of catches I thought MAT would have made, and he’s made only a few tough plays that I’ve seen.


    9 May 19 at 5:15 pm

  20. Re: outfield defense, I’ve been thinking that the constant shuffle when MAT plays isn’t helpful and may be hurting Robles. If we agree that Soto in LF , Robles in CF and Eaton in RF is the best alignment, wouldn’t it be better to just sub in MAT or whomever is the same position of the person he’s replacing? Sure he may be the best true CF on the team, but the trickle of moving Robles to RF and Eaton to LF with Soto out just disrupts everyone instead of just 1 position. Is MAT really that much better in CF than Robles?

    Minor problem in the bigger scheme of the teams issues, but another example to me of Davey not pushing the right buttons with the roster he’s been given.


    9 May 19 at 9:21 pm

  21. I’ve been saying since the spring that it was dumb/dumb/dumb to be saying that Robles was going to shuttle between CF and RF so Taylor could play CF. It’s asinine, all the more so for a former MLB OF as manager to not realize it. Robles is the CF of the present AND the future. Taylor won’t be here in 2020. He wasn’t worth the arb price this year and sure won’t be next year. Anyway, the rookie CF should be allowed to settle in CF and play there exclusively.

    Many thoughts on all of this, and not a lot of time, but I will point out that what happened last night is why they’re not completely dead in the water despite a lot of incompetence. They’ve got three of the best starting pitchers in baseball, and if the team can hold the fort until part of the lineup gets back, all is not lost.

    Parra signing is insanely bad/desperate, all the more so without even giving Yadiel Hernandez a look.

    As for Gott, he was out of options, so he was leaving unless he had made the club. Who know in the spring that he was going to be significantly better than Rosenthal?


    10 May 19 at 11:00 am

  22. I’m of two minds on the OF configuration issue. On the one hand, the arguments about having Robles consistently play CF are persuasive. On the other hand, a major league caliber CF ought to be able to play all three positions. Kris Bryant is able to play a competent corner OF despite playing 3B most of the time in the minors. Why can’t Robles do the same? Playing a lot of CF in the minors is much better preparation for playing RF in the majors compared to playing 3B in the minors.

    For me, the idea that there is some systematic defect in how the Nats position outfielders is a bigger deal than the team changing starters’ OF positions to get MAT in CF.


    10 May 19 at 11:32 am

  23. Todd Boss

    10 May 19 at 1:12 pm

  24. Derek… the stats must be fooling you.

    A healthy Daniel Murphy is a much more “skilled” hitter than Bryce Harper. Your eyes can tell you that watching thousands of their ab’s here as Nats.. I’d take Murphy in an important situation every time. Bryce can cannot hit good pitchers.

    It’s like comparing a good PGA Tour golfer to someone on the Long Driving Tour. Murphy has all the shots.

    Marty C

    11 May 19 at 11:39 am

  25. Hey all – I’ve been super busy this spring, so haven’t watched a ton of games yet. But still have a few thoughts to add:

    1) – is it too late? No, but its close, tbh. The ground itself isn’t insurmountable but (a) there are a lot of teams to beat, which is hard mathematically since they also play each other, but (b) what in their performance to date makes you think a long stretch of .600 ball is in them?
    2) its kind of predictable. (A)We all thought the bullpen was weak even if all their risks panned out. Most haven’t, although Barraclough has been unsung, so the bullpen is now a major weakness. Can’t be fixed this year without selling off their best prospects, and they shouldn’t do that, since improving the bullpen is no guarantee of the playoffs (unlike 2017, when I felt the cost, even though it was prohibitive, was appropriate because the team was so strong and had a clear pathway to the postseason. it didn’t work out but I don’t think it was bad logic)
    (B) no one liked the Roark trade or the Sanchez signing, and so far at least, that’s being born out
    (C) Dozier was overpriced and a risk. he’s playing badly and his salary prevented additional bullpen additions

    (3) injuries have crushed them. I don’t care what the yankees are doing, this version of the Nats need Turner, Rendon and Soto going gangbusters and its not there.
    (4) Rendon – look, i’d like to re-sign him BUT … if there is no deal by Jul 1, i would start taking offers and he’d go to the highest bidder. They made a big mistake not trading Harper last year
    (5) DMart – the favorite punching bag. I would sack him, which I’ve said before. But more importantly, as I think about the managers who have been successful, I think a large personality manager is what works for the Nats. Davey, Dusty worked, the quiet ‘good guys’ don’t – DMart, Acta, Williams. Its like the players want to be in the shadow and do their thing, which is ok but just get the right guy
    (6) Rizzo – he rightfully should be getting a lot of heat for this mess, I actually think this is more on him than DMart. And I am wondering if he is failing to adapt to the changing game. He still builds staff with strong starters and weak pen (until closer). Outside of CLE, that’s not a winning formula. Where are our multi inning guys? He has done a miracle job with this org for the last decade, but it might be time to move on.

    I hope this is the reverse jinx but I don’t think they fix it this year. I see .500 or less.


    11 May 19 at 2:04 pm

  26. Um, they’re both gone, guys. Murph hasn’t been healthy since about August 2017 (and is hitting .193), and #3 is hitting .237, with OPS+ of 126. Neither would be solving many of the multitude of the Nats’ problems right now.

    There is only one team in the NL East with a record above .500, and that team has some unsustainable starting pitching issues. That said, the Nats are currently sucking so bad that the only team in the whole NL is the AAA Marlins . . . who beat the Nats two out of three in their only meeting thus far.


    11 May 19 at 2:07 pm

  27. Wally was posting the same time I was. Dozier was indeed a risk, but I’ll point out that nearly all the 2B options who were on the market have really sucked — Lowrie hasn’t even played, and Murph hasn’t played much. In retrospect, as good as Kendrick has been, the Nats didn’t “need” Dozier, but they’ve ended up needing Kendrick in a multi-position role. And I think the experience with Murph not being healthy last year really spooked them about hoping that Kendrick would be ready at the start of the season.


    11 May 19 at 2:12 pm

  28. Re: 2b, i objected to the $9m salary than picking Dozier over any of the others. If they weren’t going to go for Lemahieu because of Kieboom, which I get, then I would have rather that they signed a Walker or someone like that for $2m, and spent $7m more on bullpen. Thats all.


    11 May 19 at 4:13 pm

  29. What are you guys thoughts so far on:

    Robles, and Eaton now that he’s healthy.

    Marty C

    11 May 19 at 5:14 pm

  30. In brief, I think both have been trying too hard to compensate for all the missing cogs and have gotten themselves in a bit of a rut. Robles is being overaggressive and has the highest K rate he has ever had at any level, in addition to a concerning .298 OBP. On the plus side, his six homers put him on a much higher pace than I anticipated. Also, both should gain value for their defense, but they aren’t at this time.

    But how ’bout that Howie Kendrick? (OK, at times it’s challenging to find the bright spots.)


    11 May 19 at 9:01 pm

  31. LeMahieu is off to a good start with the Yanks but was still significantly overpaid based on recent performance.

    I don’t know that the Dozier signing kept them from getting any other significant bullpen pieces, particularly since Sipp fell to them for almost nothing. Kimbrel was never going to fit into their budget (or apparently into ANYONE’s budget, based on some awful market misreading). I thought Rosenthal was worth the gamble, although they overpaid a bit to get him early, but he’s looked like a black hole thus far. I was right, however, in my concern that they were really banking on strong repeat performances from Grace, Miller, and Suero (although Suero’s 2.92 FIP suggests that he’s been a lot better than his 6.60 ERA shows). After a couple of early bumps, Barraclough has been great . . . unless he gets overused. The Nats literally got him for nothing — for international bonus money they would have been prohibited from spending.

    Sigh. I don’t hate trying Fedde and Ross in the ‘pen. Really, they don’t have a lot of other options.


    11 May 19 at 9:19 pm

  32. The win Thursday night bought Martinez a little time, but not too much. I tend to agree with the folks who are pointing at Memorial Day. After they get home from LAD, 10 of the next 13 are against NYM and the Fish (plus three with the Cubs). If the Nats can’t manage a winning record in that stretch, even just 7-6, it’s time to try someone else. It may already be time (or past time), but Rizzo hates to admit a mistake.

    I wanted Girardi last offseason, but the Nats were too cheap to go after him. They were also too cheap to bring back that fella who won 95 and 97. Sigh.


    11 May 19 at 9:27 pm

  33. My take on Robles and Eaton:
    Robles is every bit as advertised, and I am very high on him still. He’s wild and undisciplined, but that is an exceptional athlete and I really like his hit tool. With time and experience he’ll smooth out the rough edges, and I see a 4-5 WAR guy during his peak. We’re just going to have to live with his occasional embarrassments.

    Eaton, on the other hand, is a lesser player than he was. It’s a shame, but I think his leg injuries have sapped that little bit extra that he had during his 5 WAR seasons. I don’t think we’ll see those again, and he’ll settle in at 2-3 WAR for the next few years. Good player, but you have to be careful not to overpay him. I suspect his options will get picked up, but it’s not a slam dunk.


    12 May 19 at 11:36 pm

  34. Marty, this is the last time I’m going to address this, and I recognize I’m not going to convince you. But thinking Murphy is a better hitter than Harper is contra all available facts. It’s simply not a supportable opinion. Believing Murphy is better is like believing the world is flat. What’s more likely, the numbers are fooling me, or your eyes (and biases) are fooling you? The answer is obvious.

    I don’t know what “skilled” hitter means. I do know that there are ways to compare hitters that don’t rely on people on the internet making declarations about “what their eyes see” after “watching thousands of ABs.” These ways are looking at numbers – and the numbers see dramatically more than your eyes do because they see every AB. They don’t even need to be fancy numbers; the ordinary ones tell you Harper is a better hitter. If comparing Murphy and Harper resulted in the conclusion that “it’s a close case,” then your eye test – whatever that means, and I suspect the meaning changes to fit a particular narrative – might be a way to differentiate. But it’s not a close case. Harper is a MUCH MUCH MUCH better hitter than Murphy because his career OBP is 44 pts higher and his career SLG is 50 pts higher. And Murphy has hit better than Harper exactly one time in their respective careers (in 2016, which is an extreme outlier for Murphy – almost, but not as extreme as the outlier 2015 for Bryce). EVERY SINGLE OTHER YEAR Harper has been better, and in many cases dramatically better. But hey, if you want to keep believing the world is flat because that’s what your eyes tell you, go right ahead.

    I’m willing to believe that Murphy hits “good” pitching better than Harper, but not because you simply assert it. It’s an empirical claim. You don’t need to prove it, but you could support it. I suspect both guys hit good pitching worse than they hit bad pitching, but that Harper hits good pitching better than Murphy because he’s a better hitter than Murphy. Also, my eyes saw Harper take DeGrom deep past year with a broken bat. Earlier this year he doubled off Scherzer and hit a Strasburg *changeup* for a three-run homerun. But I guess those guys aren’t good pitchers because Harper can’t hit good pitchers.

    Sorry for polluting this thread, but I just can’t let the idiocy go unrebutted. I promise this is the last time.


    13 May 19 at 10:13 am

  35. I guess Murphy must be horrible. Because I’ve seen Harper slump for almost half a season a couple times now. And he might be on the way to doing it (going a big chunk of a season batting .220’s) again. Of course I admit when he’s hot he’s hot but when he’s cold he’s ice cold and a lineup killer. So again I’ll take consistency and tough outs. How about Freddy Freeman instead of Murphy.

    It’s also pretty impossible to not have 100 rbi’s in a season where you hit 42 HR.

    On Robles and Eaton. Robles looks exciting but they need to start fixing his plate discipline now or they will ruin him. A strikeout to walk ratio of over 6-1 is a ticket to Espinosaville and Taylorville if not corrected. I know it’s early but it’s more approach than skill, so needs to be coached out of him. It’s not like he swings and misses everything like Espi and Taylor.

    Eaton needs to get the obp back way over .370 like it was last year to really be of value. A no speed leadoff hitter, as a no power corner outfielder, who’s not playing elite defense needs to be on base somehow all the time.

    But these guys are on the fringe of the main issue this year. Soto needs to be Soto the superstar in this lineup or it’s over. He’s the only one who can carry them.

    And I’m pretty sure Parra has as many walk off hits in 2 games for the Nats as Rendon does his career.

    Marty C

    13 May 19 at 12:04 pm

  36. Now we’re getting somewhere! Freddie Freeman, like Bryce Harper, is a MUCH MUCH MUCH better hitter than Daniel Murphy. His career WRC+ is 137, which ever so slightly worse than Bryce’s 139. And they both started very young, so I think there’s no reason to think this measure favors one over the other. Bryce has more power and patience, but Freddie strikes out less and is far less vulnerable to the shift. “Freddie Freeman is a better hitter than Bryce Harper” is a totally defensible statement, in my opinion.

    Last year Joey Gallo had 40 homers and 92 RBI. The great Mike Trout had 39 homers and 79 (!!!) RBI. Of the top 11 HR hitters last year, four of them had under 100 RBI. In 2017, exactly half of the top ten HR hitters had under 100 RBI. Barry Bonds had 45 homers and 90 RBI one year (his OBP that year was a cool .529). Two points: (1) stop using RBI, it doesn’t tell us much; (2) the thing you think is pretty impossible happens all the time.


    13 May 19 at 12:52 pm

  37. in a sport that’s played almost every single day, you have to value consistency. Even the quality of outs is important.

    With the game on the line and men on base and you just need a hit, I’d still take Murphy every time..

    He used to kill us when he was just a singles hitter for the Mets too.

    Okay Iooks like i was wrong abut the RBi’s….

    Marty C

    13 May 19 at 1:09 pm

  38. How about Murphy right now Marty? .203/.273/.390 line so far, IN COLORADO, good for a 63 OPS+ figure. He’s starting to get benched day after day for how much he’s hurting that club.

    Meanwhile, even though Harper’s “struggling” at the plate hitting just .229 … he leads the league in walks and still slugs at a massive pace so his OPS+ is 117. Double Murphy’s.

    How do these figures play into your “Murphy is awesome” narrative?

    Todd Boss

    13 May 19 at 1:16 pm

  39. I think Murphy is old, hurt , done probably. Too many injuries piling up.

    Yeah Harper .. impressive…imagine how good he would be if he didn’t lead the league in K’s and post o – fors 4 times a week. Prob with Harper now is he has tons more swing and miss in his game than he used to.

    Marty C

    13 May 19 at 1:30 pm

  40. So … in 2018 Murphy was a better hitter than one of the 10 best hitters in the game. Now in 2019 he’s old hurt and done. That’s convenient.

    Todd Boss

    13 May 19 at 1:35 pm

  41. Interesting piece on Strasburg at Fangraphs today:

    It seemed to me from watching him pitch this year that his fastball was moving more. It looks like he’s throwing more two-seamers than in recent years, which might make sense as a reaction to a drop in velocity. It’s interesting to think about the curve and the four-seamer being a pair and the changeup and the two-seamer being a pair.


    14 May 19 at 12:34 pm

  42. Getting back to the harsh reality of the present, the Nats are already eight games back a quarter of the way into the season. They have the second-worst record in the NL, ahead of only the woeful Marlins. Their record is 27th out of 30 MLB teams. They have a run differential of -25. In short, they’ve sucked. Yes, there have been injuries, a good number of them, but a team and a farm system are supposed to be built to withstand injury hits and at least maintain at close to a .500 level until the cavalry can return. Instead, they’ve been awful. Plus, instead of calling up hot minor-league hitters like Jacob Wilson and Yadiel Hernandez, they’ve insisted on multiple calls to stiffs like Stevenson, Sanchez, and Noll.

    So where are we? To me, -8 is entering the danger zone. At -10, you start firing people. Davey would be the first overboard, but I’m getting close to saying something I never thought I would: it might be time to consider firing Rizzo. Yes, he wanted to keep Dusty. But when Dusty wasn’t an option, he made his second awful managerial hire, yet another one that is wasting multiple “window” years and perhaps actually closing the window this time despite a lot of top-tier talent and a big payroll. He’s also the one most responsible for the Rosenthal and Dozier debacles and for not having the talent depth to cover for the injuries.

    On the flipside, the NL East is still winnable, even from eight games back. The Phillie pitching will NOT hold up, and the Mets and Braves look to be .500 clubs. Of course right now, the Nats aren’t even close to being a .500 club.


    14 May 19 at 12:37 pm

  43. KW, Let’s not have this conversation until June 1.
    There is no one pulling away in the NL East and the Bats can only play better.

    I agree it’s time to start thinking outside the box here and call up players who can a dually help the team lime Wilson and Hernandez.

    Mark L

    14 May 19 at 12:54 pm

  44. Natsguy. I think the evaluation of Tetreault was from this post:

    I wrote “Jackson Tetreault’s stock has plummeted; he was once on the breach of being a top 10 prospect for the system and now isn’t even being mentioned.”

    That post was my evaluation of Fangraphs’ ranking of Tetreault. And what I said was absolutely true. Fangraphs ranked Tetreault outside their top 22 prospects in Dec 2018, whereas most prospect rankings after the 2017 season put him in the 10-15 range.

    Not sure where the vitriol is for my personal opinion of Tetreault. Apparently you should be emailing the fangraphs guys.

    Todd Boss

    14 May 19 at 1:15 pm

  45. Mark — I had said Memorial Day a few days ago, which is essentially June 1. But the bleeding has to stop, and they can’t let it get to 12 games back or so before they do something. The Nats HAVE to make hay right now, with 10 of the next 13 against the Mets and Marlins.

    I’m not throwing in the towel. I still think the Nats, when mostly healthy, have the most overall talent in the division. But they have to start proving it on the field.


    14 May 19 at 1:29 pm

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