Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: AdamKilgoreWP and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  E-mail alerts: Sports and Redskins  |  RSS

What To Watch For In September

Twenty-eight games remain this season for the Washington Nationals, and to put it gently, very few of these final games will be leading off the Baseball Tonight telecast. The Nationals are 46-88. They're 5-1/2 games worse than any other team in baseball. They're playing for whatever sort of pride is available at those depths.

But for now, I want to ignore all that. I want to find a few reasons why the final few weeks of this season is worth following. I'll begin the list with five things to watch. Any other thoughts, please post.

1.) Can the Nationals finish with the worst record in baseball?

With a 30th-place finish come the rights to Bryce Harper -- and the privilege to spend another summer entangled in Scott Boras negotiations. According to this post in Beyond the Box Score, the Nats have already all but wrapped up baseball's worst record. But I'm not totally buying it. Kansas City is 5-1/2 games poorer than the Nats right now, and Pittsburgh is eight games worse. That's a fairly massive gap, but just ask the 2007 Mets about comfortable September leads. Baseball performance can be guessed with statistical projections, nothing more.

2.) Can Jim Riggleman do enough to make a case for a permanent job?

I don't think there's some magical winning percentage that will secure Riggleman the permanent job. Nor should there be. Almost every night -- especially with the current lineup, discounting 3-4-5, and the back end of the pitching rotation -- the Nationals will face a serious talent deficit. Wins and losses won't tell the story. If anything, Riggleman's tenure already reflects the payoff of a little discipline and a crackdown on fielding fundamentals. The Nats are 20-27 under Riggleman -- a massive improvement. But if the Nats sprint to the finish line, playing hard and managing something respectable (.400 the rest of the way? .450?), Riggleman, like Mike Rizzo did as acting GM, will have made a strong case for the full-time gig.

3.) Can Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham and Ryan Zimmerman keep it up?

All three will end up with some pretty impressive statlines at the end of the year. So it's just a matter of degree. It's a near-certainty that Dunn will reach 40 home runs for the sixth consecutive year, but what about his batting average? He's at .278 right now, which would be a breakthrough career-high. His September could turn that into a .285 or a .265, and lifetime, he's a .220 hitter in the final month. As for the others, I'll be interested to see if Zimmerman can reach .300 (he's dead-even at .300 right now) and if Willingham, who currently has 21 HR, can top his career high of 26.

4.) Can we get a glimpse of the prospects?

I'd enjoy the chance to see Shairon Martis and/or Ross Detwiler get a few more starts in the big leagues. The list of September call-ups probably won't be too long, but we might also get a chance to see Ian Desmond and Clint Everts. Everts is an especially cool story. Drafted fifth overall in the 2002 draft, he had Tommy John surgery in 2004 and has since rebuilt his career. This year alone, he's progressed from Class A Potomac to Class AA Harrisburg to Class AAA Syracuse. He has a 1.57 ERA, total, in 57-1/3 innings.

5.) Can the Nats put a dent in some playoff hopes?

Washington still has six games remaining against Florida and seven games remaining against Atlanta, both wild-card hopefuls. They also play six against the Phillies and three against the Dodgers.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 4, 2009; 10:27 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Afternoon Reading Material
Next: Lineups From Nats Park

Comments

The Morgan factor complicates the equation in the "Riggleman era," IMO.

Also, I always enjoy watching Livo.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and I'd watch no matter what because it's baseball.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Chico, I'd add the what's going to happen to Elijah Dukes as one of the story lines. Myself, I believe he's about 85 percent through the process of playing himself right off this roster. He's a typical "Let's put it all on double zero, we only come to Vegas once a year" Jim Bowden type toolsy, but mindless outfielder. For every hit, there's a bonehead pickoff. For every assist, there's an airmail throw to the backstop. Plus, the guy has shown absolutely no ability to adjust his swing to hit the increasing diet of sliders away that he's being fed. He's been a model citizen off the field, that's not the problem. I just don't think he gets the most of his talents, and isn't worth waiting for that elusive upside. He's better than Austin Kearns, to be sure, but just because he's standing upright with a heartbeat doesn't make him a starting rightfielder. I say he gets non-tendered.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 4, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Bizzaro World Champs---two years in a row!!
Go Nats!

Posted by: ramgut | September 4, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Yeah. I'm scaring myself by thinking of getting the MiLB TV thingie. (Fell asleep during the Dodgers game, but I saw Ronnie break his bat--they gotta do something about those bats, he sliced right in half. It was a hit, though).

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Oh, and I'd watch no matter what because it's baseball.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 4, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Good call on Dukes. I agree that he's playing himself off the roster. September is critical for him.

Posted by: chicoharlan | September 4, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

My 5 to watch:

1) Are there any relievers on this team other than Burnett and Clippard worth keeping next year. Yes MacDougal and Villone are good contributors but if you rebuild the bullpen over the winter, should they make the cut.

2) Can Livon convince Rizzo to keep him. (I'm already in the tank for Livo.)

3) Can Desmond get in the competition for 2010 shortstop?

4) Can Maxwell play at the MLB livel?

5) Can the Nats sweep the Marlins this weekend?

Posted by: natbiscuits | September 4, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

All good points on the statline which you need to include how far Zim goes for 100 RBIs and beyond to see if he can get close to his 2006 numbers. Zim has a lot at stake in Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, and a few other trophies since David Wright did return to the Mets lineup.

Posted by: dmacman88 | September 4, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

or level even ...

Posted by: natbiscuits | September 4, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

From your keyboard to the baseball gods' ears...

---

5) Can the Nats sweep the Marlins this weekend?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I vote for keeping MacDougal. Villone has been helpful, but I don't see keeping him for another entire season.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 4, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

How many of our starters belong on an MLB staff? September results can be fools gold, playing against callups and teams - like the Nats - who are trying out personnel because a couple more wins or losses don't matter. But I'd love to see Mock do well.

Posted by: utec | September 4, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

natbiscuits writes: "2) Can Livon convince Rizzo to keep him. (I'm already in the tank for Livo.)"

Levon is perfect for a low-budget org like the Nats. Because he was unconditionally and unceremoniously dumped by a team he had a high ERA for, he will come cheap. I just hope Levon is not a bargain basement replacement for a younger, more talented arm. In other words is Levon someone who could keep the small season ticket base mollified for a little while longer? It's OK to sign him if the Nats can also start to think bigger for a change.

Posted by: EdDC | September 4, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

EdDC-- I'm OK with Livo, but that's why I think the bullpen needs to be pruned. We have some low-budget guys, we need to make sure they are not taking up spots we need to develop more productive guys.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 4, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Right now it looks to be Villone, Clippard, and MacDougal. Next year for sure: Storen.

More than likely Novoa for sure especially because he is a lefty. Spradlin would be nice for that reason as well. Everts? He did not do particularly well in the mini 2 game pre-playoff with the Yankees. Wilkie, he hasn't been as effective of late.

Kensing and his fast ball have been doing well of late. But can he develop another pitch? Can he learn to keep control? Location? The ball down for the short number of innings he is in.

With the addition of lefty Garate? Is he a factor?

I don't think there is going to room for Villone and Bergmann who one must assume will be traded.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

"Right now it looks to be Villone, Clippard, and MacDougal. Next year for sure: Storen."

My Stengalian slip: Lefty Burnett instead and over lefty Villone (born 1970).

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

perc: I think you mean Burnett, Clippard and MacDougal?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 4, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

utec: the starters are tougher to evaluate, I think, because they've been so streaky, all of them (except Livo, who just got here). We know we won't have JZimm, and I assume they will let Olsen go, and what is the prognosis for Stammen? OK, so that's the DL.

How are you rating the healthy guys?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 4, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The results of Stammen's MRI were supposed to be back today, so maybe we'll learn the prognosis later.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

If Livan (with an a, btw) can continue to show up every fifth day, go seven innings, and win about as many as he loses, he'll be a net asset. These young guys have to benefit from watching somebody who knows how to do this right, and it doesn't look from here like he's blocking much of anybody.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 4, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

This in from Biff Bobson:

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals added left-hander Victor Garate to their Major League roster on Friday.

Garate, who will work out of the bullpen, was acquired off waivers from the Dodgers on Wednesday, after posting a 2.04 ERA and a .191 opponents' batting average in 47 appearances with Double-A Chattanooga this season.

Garate's first appearance with the Nationals will mark his big league debut. He will wear No. 56.

Garate, 24, is 23-7 with 15 saves and a 3.25 ERA in five professional seasons. With 404 strikeouts in 315 1/3 innings, Garate has posted 11.53 strikeouts per nine innings during his career. He was rated among the Dodgers' Top 25 prospects by Baseball America entering the 2009 season.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

"perc: I think you mean Burnett, Clippard and MacDougal?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 4, 2009"

Thank you Nats_Lady, yep.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

If i were putting together 2010's bullpen right now, with no FA signings, it would look like this:

- Clippard and Burnett locks
- Storen, Everts, Alaniz, Rivera leading candidates for mid-relief. Rivera on short leash, first to get cut if doesn't keep his performances up to late-2009 standards.
- Sosa, Villone, Bergmann cut: Sosa ineffective, Villone showing his age and we can replace him more cheaply with one of the many lefties we have at AAA right now. Bergmann is done; 5.10 career era isn't going to cut it.
- MacDougal; maybe, if he's not too cheap. Compete him and Storen for the 8th and 9th inning roles.
- Garate, Segovia, Wilkie, Zinicola, and Novoa get looks to see if they can replace Everts and Rivera on the roster.

I'd still like to see a FA or two added to this mix in case some of the youngsters aren't quite there yet.

Posted by: tboss | September 4, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Another lefty in the bullpen other than Villone. I like it.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Lookout, DC!

"Garate, who will work out of the bullpen, was acquired off waivers from the Dodgers on Wednesday, after posting a 2.04 ERA and a .191 opponents' batting average in 47 appearances with Double-A Chattanooga this season."

(the Lookouts have one of the best cap logos.)

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 4, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I am amazed that some are prepared to discard players such as Dukes and Maxwell. The latter has played maybe 15 games this year and we are prepared to cut him loose. He is a fast and can play defense. He has hit in the past and will in the future but we are prepared to let him go. I hope Rizzo has more sense that some posters. Concerning Dukes he will be picked up by another team in a NY second. That team will spend time coaching him and he will realize his potential. We of course will still be trying out players for RF.

I say give these players a real chance and spend some time coaching them,. If the majors is not the place to learn then why do we have coaches at that level. We have a last place team and it gets tiring reading posters who continually want to cut players without giving them a legitimate chance. If you want to look at why some players have not realized their potential look at the previous GM and manager. Bowden and Acta gave no direction and it showed in the players' play and attitude.

Posted by: mjames0 | September 4, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Kensing is toast, and villone is certainly on the edge. I would love to see Livan come back next spring. He usually starts strong, and can be part of the excuse to bring Strasburg up in May to extend his arbitration another year.

I think that the worries over dealing with Boras again are certainly worth it for the enjoyment of talking about and following Bryce Harper through the JuCo season this coming year.

I want to see Desmond and Everts, but I have given up on both Maxwell and Dukes. Dukes would be awfully hard to trade, unfortunately, so there is no reason to just lose him unless he is replaced with someone better.

Congratulations to Victor Garate. He is someone else to watch in September. I am sure we would all love to be satisfied with another Rizzo "steal".

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | September 4, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

"This in from Biff Bobson"

As Tony would say, "Yeah, RIGHT. What's his REAL name?"

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 4, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Interesting tidbit from a GCL Nats championship item on the Natstown Blog (linked to from the team site):

RHP Shane McCatty, son of Nationals Pitching Coach Steve McCatty, was credited with the win.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

That's his "gentleman blogger's" name.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

The young starters are improving. Both Mock and Martin have improved with every start. Stammen and Balester did some back sliding. As did Detwiler and Martis. Martis still has a 5.0 ERA plus in Syracuse, but Detwiler has made marked improvements during his time there.

Without any trades (I can't see Rizzo going the FA route for a starter beyond Livan. They are all mostly way over 30 and look like retreads.) to bolster the starting rotation in 2010 I look for:

#1 Hernandez, #2 Mock, #3 Lannan, #4 Detwiler, #5 Martin (SP middle relief, needs another pitch and some tutoring from Livan).

#6 Estrada, #7 Atilano, #7 Thompson, #8 Martis, #9 Strasburg (as he works his way through the system).

#10 Meyers, #11 Arneson.

With Stammen, JZim, Chico still rehabbing.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of gentlemen and their games, was interested to hear Jim Bouton talk about his vintage baseball league in the MLB Network interview with Bob Costas. He talked about aspects of the gentleman's game that were particular to that league. Made me think of TP, of course.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

And if Rizzo somehow manages to steal Hanley Ramirez away from the Marlins ... he should get GM Front Office executive of the year ... then we ought to throw a parade.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

FWIW: I just calculated the "magic" number for the Nats to have the rights to Bryce Harper. It is right now 24. Any combination of Nat's loses and Royals wins that equals 24 means we've clinched the worst record in baseball two years in a row. If you want to play along, the formula and explanation can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_number_(sports)

Posted by: twinbrook | September 4, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Why is Olsen worth giving up on? In his last three starts, before being shut down, he had an ERA of 3.00 and averaged over 7 IP. I know that he's earning more than the league minimum (a sin to some on this blog), but isn't this a case where the Lerners should not be cheap and keep a young and potentially effective SP? He's only 25! Are we sure that you can't come back from a bad shoulder?

Posted by: stantonpark | September 4, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

@twinbrook - It's actually 23 since the Nationals hold the tiebreaker with the Royals. If they finish with identical records, the tiebreaker is record from previous year.

Posted by: Brian_ | September 4, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

The Tragic Numbers for each team, any combination of nats wins & that team's wins that total to the corresponding number eliminate them from competition for the #1 overall pick

Kansas City 23
Pittsburgh 21
Baltimore 20
Cleveland 16
San Diego 15
Oakland 15
Toronto 15
NY Mets 14
Cincinnati 14
Arizona 13
Houston 11
Milwaukee 9
Chicago White Sox 8
Minnesota 7
Chicago Cubs 7
Atlanta 4
Florida 4
Seattle 3
Detroit 2
Tampa Bay 2
San Francisco 1

Posted by: Brian_ | September 4, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Well, I'm going to see Hanley tonight, so I'll evaluate him and get back to you. Y'know, we don't need any more marginal players, right?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 4, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I like that, "tragic number".

Posted by: twinbrook | September 4, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Disagree w/ Sunshine and Chico re: Dukes. Granted, he is playing lousy. But who is better in right field right now? If he was arbitration eligible, fine don't offer it to him and let him go. But he comes next year at the minimum. What do they gain by non-tendering him? Try to upgrade RF this winter sure. But, you have to keep Dukes and see if can develop. I think he hits arb after next season. If that's true and he's where he's at now, then you cut him loose.

On a personal note, I'm very happy for him that we are debating his performance on the field only. No shame in not cutting it in the majors but the self-control and responsibility he has learned will help him earn a living if baseball doesn't work out for him.

Posted by: Avar | September 4, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

however, Brian_, I think you mean Nats losses & that team's wins.

Posted by: twinbrook | September 4, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

SF better get right on it and win a game.

I'm also rooting for both Dukes and Maxwell. Maxwell can really fly in the outfield, and if he can just get his bat working!

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 4, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

To me, Dukes is the major disappointment of the season. I thought he was due for a breakthrough year after the good second half in '08, but what's happened to his power? I hope he gets hot this month, but then the old adage about not believing what you see in September.

I'm still hoping for 56 wins. It'll be tough with the opponents having something to play for.

Posted by: nats24 | September 4, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"Why is Olsen worth giving up on? In his last three starts, before being shut down, he had an ERA of 3.00 and averaged over 7 IP. I know that he's earning more than the league minimum (a sin to some on this blog), but isn't this a case where the Lerners should not be cheap and keep a young and potentially effective SP? He's only 25! Are we sure that you can't come back from a bad shoulder?

Posted by: stantonpark | September 4, 2009"

I think Olsen is arbitration eligible. He is young but a veteran. Compare his performance coming in and pitching this year to 2 starts with much older Livan Hernandez? Olsen was supposed to provide that stability. So, from
my perspective Olsen is at least as disappointing if not more so than Dukes!

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about Dukes - I agree he's flawed as a player, but I can't see them non-tendering him. Who in the system has better potential or could play a better RF right now? With Willingham and Morgan set up as your Opening Day 2010 starters, unless JMax suddenly discovers how to hit MLB pitching now and in ST next year, I don't think there's anybody anywhere in the system who's a better RF.

Now, I do think there will be some roster churn with trades in the offseason - I think depending on how Desmond plays, there might well be a chance to move Guzman and/or Dukes and/or some of the AAAA starter backlog for a more ready move.

But Chico - the other question I have is how September will impact the Front Office assessment that the Nats "aren't that far away" - at the end of the day, this a team that finished worst in the league last year and likely worst in the league this year. Even if you go by pythag record, they're still well far away from contention. The recent losing streak and Morgan injury took some of the shine off of the "Hey, maybe Riggleman will have them play better." Ultimately, they've got some glaring holes (SS, 2B, C and pitching generally) and only if's and maybe's (If Desmond can play, maybe Guz can play 2b, If Flores is healthy, Maybe some of the young guys can step up) to fill them. I agree the long-term outlook in 2011 and 2012 is starting to look a little better, but my question is how will September impact the FO's assessment of the state of the team? Ultimately, since that will drive everything they do in the off-season.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | September 4, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Whoah now, let's not right off Dukes too much. Check out his splits by month. If not for June I'd be pleased with his production as a corner outfielder.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?n1=dukesel01&year=2009&t=b#month

Posted by: Section506 | September 4, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

"I'd be pleased with his production as a corner outfielder."

Sigh.... as a right-fielder. Brain gone.

Posted by: Section506 | September 4, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

>Good call on Dukes. I agree that he's playing himself off the roster. September is critical for him.

Posted by: chicoharlan

Ridiculous. Stick to journalism. Yeah, gotta make room for all that hitting talent in the Nats organization. All they have down there are 30 years olds with no power, and guys like Maxwell who started playing baseball late, and still doesn't have a clue at the plate. Meantime you have a guy like Dukes who still collects rbis even though he's not hitting the ball out of the park as much. Those are the kinds of guys you hold onto, because once they get his power stroke straightened out, he'll have even MORE rbis to show for it. Giving him away is utter bull****.

A new manager is one thing that would improve performance - like Riggleman says, 'I have no idea how to read whether a pitcher is getting tired, or losing his stuff, that's why I have the pitching coach next to me.' I get the impression he knows as much about hitting sometimes. The guy's mediocre from the word go.

Posted by: Brue | September 4, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

In my traveling this August, I think I missed the anti-Dukes turn. 295, do you mind a quick recap? Looking at his numbers, I just don't see it.

e.g., RISP

.292/.355/.448

Ryan Zimmerman: .255/.345/.467
Adam Dunn: .280/.463/.593
Josh Willingham: .229/.336/.419

Looks like when it's time to get 'em in, he fits right in with our supposed line-up's core for years to come.

Posted by: Section506 | September 4, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Just to be clear, I'm disappointed in Dukes' production, but I'm not in dump-him camp. That'd be silly.

Posted by: nats24 | September 4, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't think you missed anything on that front, 506, other than what's in this thread. But maybe I missed something myself during time away in early August.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Hm, thanks. Just looking over team numbers it appears that Dukes is about problem number 60 on an imaginary list of 100 problems.

Posted by: Section506 | September 4, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand the disappointment with Olsen - he was hurt and those few starts he wasn't, he was effective. He's young (25 - younger than Martin) and rehabbing, his peripherals are comparable to the rest of the group. Really, I see him just the same as Detwiler, Martin, Stammen, Balester, Mock and any of the Syracuse Chiefs that you'd care to name. There's a group of about 11 guys, aged 22-26 all of whom are somewhere between "potentially useful fourth starter" and "AAA roster filler."

I don't get why Olsen gets singled out as especially not worth it - it seems pretty clear that he's been overworked in his development - I don't see why he couldn't compete like the rest of the AAAA backlog.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | September 4, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I've made my feelings about Dukes clear on here, but just to reiterate: It would be idiotic to dump Dukes. Yes, he's been disappointing at times, but not nearly to the point of deserving to be released. And @Brue is absolutely right -- who are you going to replace him with? Padilla? Morse? Maxwell? Please. I'm not saying he's definitely our right fielder of the future, but he's got more potential to fill that slot effectively than anyone on the horizon. And let's not forget that he has shown for two years now that he's got his off the field behavior under control. Give the guy some credit. I still think he's a potential star.

Posted by: Section222 | September 4, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The problem with Dukes is not his production or lack thereof. He's shown that he has the capability to produce, and good coaching should be able to exploit that. What he HASN'T shown is the ability to play smart, either on the basepaths, in the field or at the plate. Dukes's problem is similar to Milledge's problem. With Milledge it was lack of attitude, with Dukes it's lack of smarts. There's only so much that good coaching can do to resolve those problems. That's why many feel that Dukes is playing his way off the roster now just like Milledge played his way off the roster earlier this year.

But removing a problem player from the roster doesn't mean he has to be thrown away with nothing in return. Rizzo managed to get good value back for Milledge, and there's no reason to think he couldn't do the same with Dukes.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 4, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

506 - I was reacting to some of the stuff earlier up the thread here - Chico's comment that he thinks he's "playing himself off the roster" and what could be an ABM doppleganger talking about non-tendering him.

I worry about the whisperings and innuendo that comes through between Chico's quotes from players about Dukes in the clubhouse, and think that people are looking at his admittedly troublesome past, what may be surliness and using it as an excuse to emphasize his flaws over his strengths. Dukes is not Milledge - his personal demons were far worse, his talent and baseball skills far better.

My view is he needs ABs and to keep working with Eckstein at hitting the ball to right-center - I think, if he stays healthy, he's a great candidate for a Zim-like breakout year next year. If he can get back to being the .260/.380/.480 player he was in '08, and Flores comes back healthy, the Nats could look pretty fearsome 3-7. There's that if word again, though.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | September 4, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Hey - DisparagingBobCarpenterHandle and OtherDisparagingBobCarpenterHandle - you realize if you register many names and post similar opinions, that doesn't count as "many," right? ;)

I took a poll of the voices in my head, and 85% of them agree with me.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | September 4, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I never would have guessed that chicoharlan is a DisparagingBobCarpenterHandle. You learn something new every day. Next you'll be telling me that yourself and that Half Street guy aren't the same guy posting under different cutesy boulevard monikers.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 4, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Dukes is one of the most compelling storylines for the rest of the season. I also agree that right now he's playing his way out of a regular job. Stats are one thing and his are mediocre. The other problem is just his overall play. Bad decisions on the basepaths, poor execution in the field and an inconsistent approach to hitting. It's possible that he could improve his numbers in September (I hope he does) but I'm not sure he's going to convince me that he's a solid major league player.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 4, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Just to add a wrinkle to the race to the bottom with KC, they've got a slightly tougher schedule than we do to finish the season. Their opponents have a combined winning percentage of .541, and our opponents are at .528.

We might have the Phils and the Dodgers, but they've got the Red Sox, Yankees, Angels and Tigers on their schedule. It's going to be close, but given our injuries I don't think we can "catch" them. Bryce is ours.

Posted by: bryc3 | September 4, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Aha, I'm understanding it all now!

Dukes is not and probably never will be invited to my birthday party, nor may he date any future daughter or son of mine. If he continues to hit well, including situational-y, and is banned from ever trying to steal, he is far from playing himself off my team.

Posted by: Section506 | September 4, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

"If he continues to hit well, including situational-y, and is banned from ever trying to steal, he is far from playing himself off my team."

Your team is rather one-dimensional, then. There is a lot more to the game than just hitting. Milledge could hit, too, a lot of the time. Yet he still managed to play himself off the roster, just as Dukes easily could. He has September to turn it around, and as has been said it's a story worth watching.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 4, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

To his deficiencies in base running:

He's been caught stealing 10 times this year (by comparison, he has 2 stolen bases) over 84 games. That shows that he is, indeed, undiscerning on the basepaths -- to put it nicely. I think it's worth reminding ourselves, though, that with THIS team, that does not mean he deprived us of ten runs. I have no interest in looking back at all the pickoffs and all the mythical unquantifiable boneheaded choices that seem to always exist in abundance when stats start coming out, but would anyone be willing to say that five games were lost because of Dukes' mistakes on the base path?

I might take two, if you argued real hard with me and bought me a beer. For one thing you can't flip a loss to a win if you had that one run back, only to extra innings.

Posted by: Section506 | September 4, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Dukes doesn't need to be a future star to have value, he just needs to be adequate. Everybody prefers to have stars in their lineup at all positions, but since it ain't gonna happen like that, "good enough" at most positions is good enough, and far better than we've been watching for the past few years--OK, most of the last century and a half, but you get the point.
That said, I don't believe Dukes will ever learn to stop running over his teammates in the outfield, or stop getting caught off base. He plays hard, and he can hit some, and I think his arm and speed are probably better than Replacement Player level in right.
The clubhouse thing is what it is. Lots of pros have not liked each other over the years (seriously, would you want *your* locker next to Billy Martin's?), and if they win, it's seldom a problem.
Keep him until you have a better option.
Which is like being "day-to-day"--who isn't?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 4, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I don't know who you mean. Seriously, there are some who are adamant the Lerners are cheap, but I don't recall anyone saying this.
Who are you talking about?
**************
I know that [Olsen]'s earning more than the league minimum (a sin to some on this blog) ...
Posted by: stantonpark | September 4, 2009 1:16 PM |

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 4, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm actually several people posting under this one name. Go figure.
**********************
Wow, I never would have guessed that chicoharlan is a DisparagingBobCarpenterHandle. You learn something new every day. Next you'll be telling me that yourself and that Half Street guy aren't the same guy posting under different cutesy boulevard monikers.
Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 4, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

"Your team is rather one-dimensional, then. Milledge could hit, too, a lot of the time."

I think you will find I was much more supportive of Milledge than most -- and still am. I supported him going to Syracuse so he could recover his swing. He's hit .312/.364/.422 in his 30 games with Pittsburgh, so I feel I may be vindicated one day.

As for the primacy of hitting, check out this for team offensive numbers:

In wins, .307/.380/.504
In losses, .238/.320/.358

The way you calculate a win is by whoever has the most runs at the end of the game. to win, you need to score whatever your opponent does, +1. Great pitching and good fielding are awfully nice to have, but they can only get you a tie without offense.

Posted by: Section506 | September 4, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

"I'm actually several people posting under this one name. Go figure."

My nominee for POTD.

Posted by: Section506 | September 4, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I LOL'd at that one, sec3. You're funny. All of you.

---

I'm actually several people posting under this one name. Go figure.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I am legion!

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 4, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Guess I owe 506 a Coke now.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh, looky up there. ^

It's lineups! Really.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

oooh, wouldn't that be funny, though: pick a day, and everybody take turns posting as the same login?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 4, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

uh, don't give anybody ideas...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Lord knows an idea could die of loneliness here some days.
OOOh did I say that out loud?
************
uh, don't give anybody ideas...
Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 3:37 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 4, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

LOL!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 4, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Small sample size vs. even smaller sample size?

Arbitration eligible should be a good thing for the Nats. He's due for a modest raise, but he should still cost less than he's worth.

They have to offer him arbitration.

-----

I think Olsen is arbitration eligible. He is young but a veteran. Compare his performance coming in and pitching this year to 2 starts with much older Livan Hernandez?

Posted by: JohninMpls | September 4, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company