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Almost halfway home, a look at the Nationals numbers

After their only off day of the spring, the Nationals stand at 2-12, a record they believe means pretty much nothing. The Nationals are saying March matters only in terms of getting players in shape and making sure the players who are going to head north as major leaguers are ready for the season.

The Nationals are playing 31 games this spring, so they'll be about halfway through after tonight. With 17 games left, why not look at how the players most likely to comprise the opening day team are faring?

What's that? The ridiculously small size, you say? That was a rhetorical question. I'm going to show the stats, anyway. Hitters are average/on-base/slugging, and pitchers are ERA/WHIP.

LINEUP
1. Nyjer Morgan, CF: .143/.182/.190
2. Cristian Guzman, SS: .267/.267/.600
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B: .370/.370/.741
4. Adam Dunn, 1B: .167/.211/.167
5. Josh Willingham, LF: .278/.316/.722
6. Willie Harris, RF: .333/.462/.714
7. Adam Kennedy, 2B: .269/.269/.462
8. Ivan Rodriguez, C: .353/.353/.353

BENCH
Ian Desmond, SS: .387/.441/.645
Wil Nieves, C: .304/.304/.348
Mike Morse, RF/1B/3B: .259/.310/.519
Justin Maxwell, RF: .103/.270/.241
Eric Bruntlett*, IF: .182/.250/.409

*I had a difficult time guessing the last bench spot. Roger Bernadina could get it as well, but the Nationals brass didn't mention his name much when they released Elijah Dukes and that would give them a glut of outfielders. Chris Duncan (.120/.267/.120) would seemingly be a better bat than Bruntlett, but he doesn't look anywhere near ready to contribute to a major league team.

ROTATION
1. John Lannan: 3.00/0.833
2. Jason Marquis: 21.94/3.375
3. Livan Hernandez: 3.00/2.00
4. Scott Olsen: 7.20/2.200:
5. Garrett Mock: 4.00/1.333

BULLPEN
Matt Capps: 10.50/2.00
Brian Bruney: 4.50/1.250
Sean Burnett: 15.00/3.333
Tyler Clippard: 6.23/2.077
Jason Bergmann: 3.60/1.600
Craig Stammen: 5.06/1.688
Drew Storen: 5.40/1.600

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 19, 2010; 11:55 AM ET
 
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Next: Today's lineups

Comments

Yikes- Not exactly a fanatsy baseball team.

No one has really talked about the expectations for this upcoming year. I have to think the line-up shown above is going to bring home the century mark trifecta.

Posted by: Tom8 | March 19, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

It's not a good sign when a starting pitcher's ERA is of legal drinking age. Thanks God I'm of legal drinking age...I'm gonna need it.

Posted by: TimDz | March 19, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that's still a pretty lousy team. I haven't seen anything that indicates an upgrade over last year. The Nats are going to be awful for several more years while they rebuild the farm system. Even that may be a massive crap shoot.

Posted by: bendersx6 | March 19, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

It's only spring training. It's only spring training. It's only spring training.

Free Desmond!

(If Guzman is named the starting SS, we need to bring "Free Desmond!" signs to the games.)

(And when a pitcher is getting shelled, can we start a "We Want Stras-burg!" chant?)

Posted by: cassander | March 19, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Wow - those numbers put even more pressure on the Caps to have a long Stanley Cup run.

Posted by: McKinley2 | March 19, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

But wait a minute, according to Mr. Rizzo, he did everything he set out to do this offseason. He went out and got ONE starting pitcher, which is all we needed according to him, and um what else....oh yea, a closer from the Pittsburgh Pirates, which tells you all you need to know about that......and a 100-year old catcher.
He said that was all the Nats needed. And he was very proud of himeself.
Uh yea--whatever.
Like I said, I'll be at the Dodger series in late April, while theres still an illusion of a season goin on.

Posted by: dovelevine | March 19, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

In the end, Rizzo may not have done enough to get this team out of the cellar.

But let's at least see what these guys can do together for a couple of months in regular season games before games before coming to that conclusion.

For this team to be decent, Morgan is going to have to set the table for the offense, Marquis will have to be a solid a sub 4.50 ERA starter, and Capps/Bruney/Storen will have to hold the late innning leads when they have them.

The spring stats so far say none of those things will happen. But let's see when the games count.

Posted by: hapster | March 19, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

So, back to Halfstreet's comment a few posts back (@1a: a less posts back?) about Olson being done if he can't hit the low 90s:
If that's the case, and since they haven't pattersoned him yet, then they probably bring him north anyway and let him torch a few starts, at least, before cutting him, either literally or figuratively.
Whom do they bring up in his place, hmmm?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 19, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Hapster, from your keyboard to the baseball gods' ears, but frankly, this has 60-something wins written all over it. Even if Wang comes back strang. Even if Strasburg comes up in late May and starts 15-20 games.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 19, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

bernadina needs to make the squad instead of maxwell

Posted by: bford1kb | March 19, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

See, the thing is, these guys need to play together. A lot. More than most teams whose core players have been playing together for years (cough...phillies...cough).

There are a lot of new key guys who may be great, but still need to gel (jell?) *together* to face this tough April schedule.

Starting Monday, the key players need to play in every game.

Also, I really, really, really want Willie Harris to start in RF. I've seen it everywhere on the pros and cons. Maxwell good defense, shaky bat. Bernadina hits ok, not great arm. Willie has both the bat and the defense. Just do it.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 19, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Adam - Is there a date coming up soon with regards to Scott Olsen that will commit the Nat's to pay his 2010 salary?
I had thought there was a date (April 1?) where they could release him and save some significant money.

Anyone?

Posted by: Sunderland | March 19, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Or, put another way:

SP Livan Hernandez
SP Esteban Loaiza
SP John Patterson
SP Tony Armas, Jr.

RP Luis Ayala
RP Hector Carrasco
RP Joey Eischen
RP Gary Majewski
RP Mike Stanton
CL Chad Cordero

Opening Day lineup:
Wilkerson lf
Johnson 1b
Vidro 2b
Guillen rf
Church cf
Castilla 3b
Schneider c
Guzman ss
Hernandez p

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 19, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Hapster, I don't disagree with you, but I think the issue is more with the Lerners than with Rizzo. I think he's very limited in what he can do (financially) and that, more than anything else, is why our off-season was what it was.

And since this extended to our 2009 draft as well, this is something we're going to continue being hampered by for years to come.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 19, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

My point being, it's been six years, and I think that team beats this one.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 19, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

ok, five years. Still.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 19, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Still think they will option Olsen to Harrisburg, starting off in Florida where its warmer and safer for his reconstructed shoulder. Getting in some rehab starts in both places.

I just don't see them taking Olsen north when they have options. Unless they plan on giving him "special treatment" like they did Dukes. He is not ready and should not go north period. And for that matter neither should Chico.

That is unless Rizzo continues to run this team like a travesty which is what has been happening for the past 2 years.

Posted by: periculum | March 19, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

And Maxwell should just be DFA'ed or released just like Dukes. Period.

Posted by: periculum | March 19, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

What's the deadline to Patterson a player and avoid paying the full salary?

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 19, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

My point being, it's been six years, and I think that team beats this one.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 19, 2010 1:18 PM
_____________________________________

Unfortunately, THIS team doesn't get to play THAT team, they get to play the other NL east teams and I am not sure if this team can beat THOSE teams...

Posted by: TimDz | March 19, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Ok this is no longer Bowden. Bowden didn't sign Kennedy instead of Hudson so the team could save a couple dollars. Bowden didn't miss out on Chapman so the team could save a couple dollars. Bowden didn't go out and sign ONE--that's ONE mediocre starting pitcher for a staff that needs FIVE starting pitchers.
This is ridiculous. This team is going to lose as many games this year as last.

Common denominator?

THE LERNERS!!!!!!!

They refuse to even field a major league team.

This is absofreakinlutely disgraceful.

Posted by: dovelevine | March 19, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

A better way to evaluate pitchers with so few innings would be to categorize each appearance with a letter grade. I believe Storen has had one disaster game but the others have been solid.

Strasburg's final numbers in Arizona fall ball were nothing to shout about but every start but one disaster was very strong. I think we could all live with one clunker for every four solid starts. At least we could right now.

Posted by: mikeladd123 | March 19, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Vidro was better than Hudson will be this year. They could do better than that. Have to hope that Kobernus and Lombardozzi progress sooner rather than later at this point.

Posted by: periculum | March 19, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

You can talk all you want about Maxwell and Harris etc. Do you think that even matters? Seriously. Do you?
The fact that we're even having a silly discussion about that at this point shows how imbicilic the Nats situation is.

Posted by: dovelevine | March 19, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Here is how I categorize the starting rotation:

Pitching velocity rankings:

1. JD Martin
2. Matt Chico
3. Scott Olsen
4. LIvan Hernandez

Posted by: periculum | March 19, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Wow - those numbers put even more pressure on the Caps to have a long Stanley Cup run.

Posted by: McKinley2 | March 19, 2010 12:36 PM
------------------------------------------------------------

Or, on the negotiators in Washington this weekend to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement for MLS to head off a strike on Monday.

Posted by: fischy | March 19, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully Guzman gets off to a hot start, some contender's shortstop goes down for the year, so we can trade him and open up the spot for Desmond to make his own. The Nats would probably have to pick up most of his contract but they were going to have to pay him 8mil one way or the other.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | March 19, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Every year the pitching staff is supposed to be better, but obviously it isn't. Mock should be in a bullpen. Livan should retire. Olsen in an infirmary.

Posted by: dclifer97 | March 19, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Woah. Hold up a sec. nobody knew the Cards were going to offer 30mil for Chapman. conventional wisdowm was thta he was going to go ~20m or so, and the Lerners ponied up 25m. 30m is seen as crazy numbers...

Posted by: swang30 | March 19, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Pitching velocity is not the be-all and end-all of pitchers. Location and control, IMO, is way more important than velocity.

Posted by: swang30 | March 19, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

And Maxwell should just be DFA'ed or released just like Dukes. Period.

Posted by: periculum | March 19, 2010 1:28 PM
##################################

I don't get it. How can Maxwell be penciled in front of Bernadina.

If Bernadina didn't break his ankle in 2009, he would have stayed on the 25 man the entire year. Maxwell was sent down to AAA for his lack of production in 2009---kind of like we are seeing here in Spring Training.

Posted by: dmacman88 | March 19, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

One owner spends too much money and then rips the fans off to pay for it all. This owner won't spend a penny but still rips off the fans. Is it possible to have Ted Leonis buy the Nats?

Posted by: dovelevine | March 19, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

This is why Fans need the right to vote out ownership every year.

Posted by: alex35332 | March 19, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

How on earth did the penny pinching Lerners come up with the bread to buy this team? And more importantly-- why? Why did they buy the team if they didn't want to spend a buck to make it work? Why waste their time and ours?

Posted by: dovelevine | March 19, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

This is obviously why the Lerners and Kasten kept Bowden on for so long. He was so wacky, he was the perfect target to deflect any criticism that came at them. It was all Bowden's fault not Stank and not the cheapskats. But now who is the focus on when the same penny pinching ways continue and this team looks just as awful if not moreso than last years sorry squad? Rizzo is just the fallguy. It's Stanky and the Lerners as usual pulling or refusing to pull any strings. This is a sorry lot.

Posted by: dovelevine | March 19, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

To swang30:
The Reds surprised everyone when we thought we had the best offer on the table for Chapman, not the Cards.

Posted by: dabagley | March 19, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

@dovelevine: Bump the CD player will ya? It seems to be playing the same verse over and over again...

Posted by: TimDz | March 19, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

>>The Reds surprised everyone Posted by: dabagley

Everyone? Hardly. Just the Nats. Funny how they are always getting surprised.

Posted by: dovelevine | March 19, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

>>@dovelevine: Bump the CD player will ya? It seems to be playing the same verse over and over again...Posted by: TimDz


How bout this, when the Nats bump theirs and finally start doing something different, like running a professional outfit, I'll bump mine. Deal?

Posted by: dovelevine | March 19, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I noticed it, but NN pointed it out, so that should be addressed to her (unless you read my mind or something).

===

So, back to Halfstreet's comment a few posts back (@1a: a less posts back?) about Olson being done if he can't hit the low 90s:

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 19, 2010 12:56 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 19, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I think that March 31 is the cutoff date.

---

Adam - Is there a date coming up soon with regards to Scott Olsen that will commit the Nat's to pay his 2010 salary?
I had thought there was a date (April 1?) where they could release him and save some significant money.

Anyone?

Posted by: Sunderland | March 19, 2010 1:11 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 19, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

At least, I believe that's the applicable date. From the MLB site, MLB important dates page:

March 31, 2010
Last day to request unconditional release waivers on a player without having to pay his full 2010 salary.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 19, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I've had a printout of that page stuck in my desk calendar since January, which I suppose means I'm something of a dork (but the arbitration explanation still makes my brain hurt).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 19, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

This is really amazing. 2 weeks before opening day and only 2 of the Nats 5 starting pitching spots are accounted for. And of those 2, the ace is a 4+ to 5+ ERA guy. Of the 3 openings, 1 guy can't hit 90 on the radar, one guy should be retired and then theres the final spot to be taken by a rookie who will last about a month I'm guessing.
Oh well who is next year's Bryce Harper?
And just to imagine, the Nats coulda been looking at bringing up Chapman and Strasburg together in June along with Wang.

Posted by: dovelevine | March 19, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Dove: I hear ya on the frustration, I really do. I believe that "retirement of debt" has been on the Lerner family CD (the musical one, not the financial one...) and they play to play that tune for a while. Maybe some other ownership group can come by and make the proverbial "offer that they can't refuse" and purchase the club.

Posted by: TimDz | March 19, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

The Jason Marquis' signing was the single worst contract anywhere this offseason. But the Post continues to lap at Rizzo's jock and refuses to admit this.

Posted by: dime_dropper | March 19, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

BTW, does anyone else worry about Capps? He was atrocious last year, but since he's a good guy and good teammate everyone chalked that up to bad luck. Well, he's been atrocious here also. Bruney should close, in my book, Capps' big contract be danged.

Posted by: dime_dropper | March 19, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Who, pray tell, was on the market this Winter that was really worth breaking the bank over, pitching-wise? It was thin, nothin' we could do about it. Next Winter will be more stocked. Happy thought: Maybe by then we won't need to troll the FA market for SPs.

Posted by: thelonghaul | March 19, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

1a1 - Thanks.

So this would mean that Scott Olsen has 2 more ST starts to convince the Nats to keep him.

By April 1, he's either cut loose to save money, or he is DL'd and in Florida continuing rehabbing.

So coming north we've got:
Lannan
Marquis
Livan
Mock?
Martin/ Chico / Stammen?
in tandem with a below average bullpen.

And Stan K says we have all the pitching we need right here.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 19, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

>>Who, pray tell, was on the market this Winter that was really worth breaking the bank over, pitching-wise? Posted by: thelonghaul

Not breaking the bank over, but Garland and Wolf were both available for pretty reasonable numbers. And we coulda used both of em. Oh btw Chapman was worth breaking the bank over and not coming in a lame 2nd with a we tried wah wah wah.

Posted by: dovelevine | March 19, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Is it just me, or does this make the timing of the Dukes release even stranger?

At any rate, we have less than two weeks before we get some real proof of the organization's confidence in Olsen's health.

-----

At least, I believe that's the applicable date. From the MLB site, MLB important dates page:

March 31, 2010
Last day to request unconditional release waivers on a player without having to pay his full 2010 salary.

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 19, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang.....well, I can always count on Hawk(dove) and Peri to cut the sugar off my coating. Eternally optimistic I may be, but that 1st team '05...they probably kick sand in our face.
And jeez, you hit the nail, Hawk. Why DID the Slow Lerners buy this team-for the real estate bonanza around the park? Hmmm, that ain't workin'....'course, having a less than hideous team MIGHT help the bottom line, too.
Oh well-I might be close to the edge but mebbe this team PLAYS with the edge Frank and the gang brought in '05...and we still get 80+ wins......
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | March 19, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

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