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Cristian Guzman is hot, and Adam Dunn is not

The Nationals fell behind by 10 runs last night, but they do not quit on Manager Jim Riggleman, and there came a time when they could have really threatened the Colorado Rockies. In the sixth inning, Cristian Guzman and Ian Desmond had both already hit RBI singles. Ryan Zimmerman had singled to put two men on for Adam Dunn.

The Nationals trailed by six, but Dunn in the batter's box represented an opportunity. A three-run home run would have sliced the deficit to three runs. Matt Belisle threw Dunn four straight fastballs. He looked at the first two, both strikes. He fouled off the third, and then swung and missed at the last.

Dunn seemed to be coming out of his season-opening slump when he smashed his first home run last week against the Phillies. Now, though, Dunn seems to be stuck in it again. He went 0 for 4 last night with a walk. Dunn has got 14 walks this year, which has been a saving grace. He is 7 for 43 (.163) with that lone home run.

It seems like Dunn can't quite get comfortable at the plate, like maybe his timing is a tick off. Whatever the reason, Dunn will not receive a day off in an effort to snap his cold streak.

"I'm not really thinking that way," Riggleman said. "I'm more looking at it as tomorrow is going to be the day that he breaks out. He's working. Him and [hitting coach] Rick Eckstein are working at it every day. He's going to have to battle his way out of it."

Dunn still has a .379 on-base percentage, which is higher than Cristian Guzman even though Guzman is hitting .362. (Guzman is also slugging .565 compared to Dunn's .279, while we're comparing.) Guzman's inability to draw walks may deter from his offensive production, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he's an incredibly skilled hitter.

Only Ivan Rodriguez, with 20, has more than Guzman's 17 hits on the Nationals. Last night, Guzman went 4 for 5.

"He's been outstanding," Riggleman said. "I'm just really proud of the way he's going about it."

While Guzman hasn't been playing constantly, he has received ample at-bats. The biggest difference is, Guzman has been moving from position to position. Last night he played second base. "It's not easy," Guzman said. A shortstop for his entire career, Guzman said he is "not 100 percent comfortable" with second base.

FROM THE POST

The Nationals have received some great starts lately, and they're received horrid starts lately. Scott Olsen's fell into the latter in a 10-4 loss to the Rockies. The Nationals pounded 12 more hits -- they have 36 in the past three games.

One bonus note I didn't get to elsewhere: Nyjer Morgan left the game last night after the fifth inning only so Manager Jim Riggleman could get him some rest. Nothing happened at all in terms of an injury.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Lehigh Valley 2, Syracuse 1: Roger Bernadina went 2 for 5 with an RBI. Devin Ivany went 2 for 3 with two doubles. Andrew Brown pitched two perfect relief innings, striking out two.

Harrisburg 5, Reading 0: Tom Milone pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out six. Milone lowered his ERA to 2.20. Milone got eight ground outs compared to two flyouts. Hassan Pena did not allow a baserunner in 2 1/3 innings of relief. Leonard Davis went 2 for 4 with two RBI and a double.

Frederick 6, Potomac 1: Brad Peacock struck out 10 in five innings, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks. Stephen Lombardozzi went 2 for 5 with a triple.

Lakewood 4, Hagerstown 3 (11 innings): Trevor Holder allowed two earned runs on seven hits and a walk in six innings.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

If the Nationals draft Bryce Harper, it may take seven figures to sign him.

The All-Star Game ballot is out.

The Nationals have been stealing many more bases this year, as this in-depth piece shows.

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 21, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
 
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Next: Strasburg live-blog: Morning edition

Comments

Adam -- Thanks for the minor league summaries. Very helpful.

Posted by: KenNat | April 21, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, it deserves to be mentioned again. The daily minor league report is a great addition to Nats Journal.

Posted by: rnkorby | April 21, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

The Nats may not have quit last night, but it seems some of the food concessionaires did. Does anyone know what the deal is with some of them not opening when there is a "small" crowd expected, as one of the workers told me they do? The game was bad enough, but I shouldn't have to walk half way around the stadium on the upper concourse to find chicken tenders. Don't they realize that when there is a small crowd, many of those attending will be their hard-core season-ticket plan holders they should be trying to please?

Posted by: fluffy4 | April 21, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Just floating an idea. ESPN in their MLB rumors section discussing the idea that the Rays may be willing to deal Carl Crawford. I would think the Nats might be interested. What would it take to get him? Adam Dunn for Crawford (both in the their walk year)..maybe throw in a prospect or two?

Posted by: jfromPG | April 21, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-a few random thoughts....3 for 3, AK from us on the minor league stuff:now, could you also include a link to our opponents' main coverage?(condolences to the Rox and the McGregor family)..
Is Adams' contract status, coupled with learning/playing a new position, contributing to his slow start?
Guzzie-very flawed, but a pro and-after all the grief he caught in year 1-I have a soft spot for him...
Finally, all the hope for our future rotation-I dunno......outside of JEEZus....I sure wish we had Heyward in R.F.(14th pick) rather than counting on Detwiler(7th) to be another number 3. And Wang? NO idea what he'll be.Farther in the future, even if Zmann2 does pitch this year, and the surgery's a success-I figure it'll be 2012 before he's REALLY back on top of his stuff..always seems to take a full year for pitchers to fully recover.....anyone see Washburn around?
Oh, one more thing-the other night(Monday) a snide reference to the lack of attendance on BBTN-uh, Nats fan Tim Kurkjian-while yer sittin' there, how bout pointing out the "attendance they deserve"? I actually went to the game because the PLAYERS deserve better(Riggs and The Rizz, too)...but the Slow Lerners and StanK? There'd be only vendors -and corporate get togethers-in attendance.(Guess I'm carying a grudge still from my O.D. experience)
Ah, but who needs bitterness?
We're at .500....and I'm sticking with 85 curly w's....
Go Nats!

Posted by: zendo | April 21, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

zendo... at this point every team that passed on Heyward is regretting it...

As for our future rotation, ours is like all the lower tier teams... if they pan out as hoped, we're in great shape, if we blow an elbow or two, we're in the crapper.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | April 21, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

That Nats didn't quit? In the bottom of the fourth, Desmond walked to put two men on for... Tyler Walker. And Riggleman sent him to the plate. I understand the desire to save the bullpen, but if you are seriously trying mount a comeback, don't you have to bat for the pitcher when there is a guy in scoring position? Or do you only act like you're trying to win in the later innings?

Maybe there ought to be a rule that a team can concede the game when it gets too far behind to really have a shot at winning and it wants to save its bullpen. Because that's sure what it looked like last night when Walker was left in to "take one for the team" after inflating a 4 run inning to a 10 run inning, including giving up a baseclearing double to the opposing pitcher.

Posted by: Section222 | April 21, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Can Gooz play FIRST base? It seems to me that such a move might solve a LOT of problems in one fell swoop.

Or maybe Maxwell. I think that if Justin Maxwell gets some extended and consistent playing time he might get the holes out of his swing.

Adam Dunn is an absolutely HORRIBLE slump. At least I hope that's what it is. He has three home runs since early LAST AUGUST, but all have been little dippy shots more worthy of Alberto Gonzales than Adam Dunn. In that whole time, the best ball he hit was a towering fly ball he pulled in one of our Phillies games that went about 100 feet foul.

I say that I HOPE it's a slump because it is becoming a lot lengthier than most slumps, and it may be some structural problem he's developed in his body or his brain that would leave him this way for the brief remainder of his career.

As things stand now with Dunn's batting, we should move Willingham to cleanup and Dunn down to 7th or 8th in the lineup, or even bench Dunn for a while and put Mike Morse in his spot when Morse gets well.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | April 21, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and that's an EIGHT-, not a seven-, figure deal we will need to ante up if we want to sign Harper.

If we can get by with seven figures on that contract, we have got to snarf it up, maybe two.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | April 21, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang- yea, point taken SC-I was thinking of puttin' in a disclaimer to that effect! A bit of 20/20 sleight of hand, ya know?
Go Nats!!

Posted by: zendo | April 21, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Comparing OBP between Guzman and Dunn is not appropriate. At #2 Guzman needs more walks to go along with his fine hitting. Dunn needs fewer walks and many more hits - doubles and beyond!

Posted by: Bill-CH | April 21, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

And another thing:

About our low attendance, we are not alone in seeing record low numbers in our stadium here. It seems to be going on all over MLB this year. Teams, including the Nats, have kept their ticket, parking and concession prices up, sometimes even RAISING them, despite the economic woes being experienced by many of their fans, and the result is what one might expect in such a situation.

But the Nats compounded the sin badly by marketing so aggressively in Philadelphia for tickets to the opener, selling so many of the good seats to Philadelphia tour groups and whatnot that, even on the first day single-game tickets were available here to those with memberships in their various fan clubs -- in advance of general public sales -- that no good seats were available at even relatively unreasonable prices for Nats fans.

This was a HORRIBLE mistake. It offended a lot of fans, including me, to the point where we watched it, and all subsequent games, on TV. They'd CERTAINLY have sold out that game anyway and did not have to fill the stadium with fans rooting, often in a manner so obnoxious that only Philadelphia fans are capable of, for our opponents.

Even now, they reserve so many seats for imaginary package purchasers that those of us whose schedules are not predictable enough can't get any good seats in any of the various price ranges for individual games. This is not fair to the fans and I think that it significantly depresses attendance.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | April 21, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

So, is anyone else really bothered by Jason Heyward? Granted the Nats were not the only team to pick someone before Jason, but clearly Detwiler over Heyward was a mistake.

Posted by: GoNatsTerps | April 21, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

What? ESPN covers baseball?
Everytime I check, they're doing something about the NFL draft. OK, off my soapbox now.

Posted by: KenNat | April 21, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang...yea, Ferg-I underStanK ...it's the ole' yin and yang, right? Do I punish myself by NOT going to games because of the inept past performances on so many levels by the Slows et al.
And let the team suffer from a national perspective-in order to vote with my wallet, etc to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with mgmt...
1st 4 years-season tix and now? Well, last year out of disgust ONE game. This year...well, two and counting-probably 3 after tonight. I just can't help it...but I'm merciless on myself after going to a game like last night (left after 3 and Walker batted....i got the Baseball package at home!)
And please-bring back Mel Proctor and Tom Paciorek or Sutton or Darling...if I need bad comedy-hey, I got the Nats!(though not so bad this year). Love the Silver Fox, though....
Remember-85!85!85!
Go Nats!!

Posted by: zendo | April 21, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-KenNat, that ain't a soapbox, it's a bandstand!(i.e. move over!) You listened to the locals on the radio this a.m.? Do we HAVE a team as far as they're concerned?
Go Nats!!

Posted by: zendo | April 21, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Did I read the owner of the rockies died?

Whats with visiting teams having people die when they play at Nats park?

Phillies last year.... Odd

Posted by: alex35332 | April 21, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I was just reading some Caps news and on the side was one of those mega-lame WaPo polls, naturally on the Redskins. It asked if McNabb would lead the team to the playoffs and gave three choices. The most popular answer wasn't "yes" it was "yes, and for the next three years." "No" was only picked by a small number of responders.

That's why only the 'Skins get coverage around here, because most fans seem to be idiots. I don't even want to go to games anymore, nevermind my self-imposed boycott.

I'll say one last thing before returning to pretending the pointy-ball sport doesn't exist until next September... it's clear now that the Redskins name is racist. Because nothing about the way that team is being built or run could ever be an honor to Native Americans.

Posted by: Section506 | April 21, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Guzman's arm at shortstop and in right field continue to look extremely suspect to me. At least in right he doesn't have to use it as often. He is a much safer bet at second base.

Meanwhile, Desmond continues to improve with the glove at shortstop. I suspect this is the very best thing to happen for Cristan Guzman's career. Seems doubtful that any other team would start him at shortstop again.

Posted by: periculum | April 21, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

LYeah Jason Heyward is the "man" so far here in the A-T-L on the sport's talk station they're giving him credit for bringing black fan's back to the Ted(Turner Field)and i was of the opinion that the Braves had a higher postion in the draft when they picked Heyward please don't tell me we had the higher position,and jfromPG i was asking the same question about us getting in on the Carl Crawford sweepstakes but he may be too rich for our blood. Lannan needs another productive start let's see if we can get a split in this series is 3/4 possible.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 21, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

NatsTerps and dargreg...
There's a really good Verducci piece in the current SI on Heyward, and the real leg up that the Braves had in scouting him in their backyard. There are lots of guys with stellar HS numbers, but they watched him for years, as opposed to a few games over the last few (like the rest of MLB's scouts). They really began to understand how advanced he was with things like plate discipline and maturity. And they could see that he was just growing into that manchild body of his.

All in all, can't fault our guys for missing him, but it just underlines the fact that with a good decisionmaker in the GM seat, there's no such thing as too many scouts.

Posted by: natinbeantown | April 21, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Maybe move Dunn up to hit after Morgan? I mean, if he's not going to drive in anyone yet get a lot of walks just get him on base and let someone with a bat drive Dunn in.

Posted by: richs91 | April 21, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Heywards career has barely started. Let's see if he is the 2nd coming of Albert Pujols or if he ends up being a .280 hitter with potential.

I remember a kid named Ryan Zimmerman who batted .393 in the month of September 2005 and he turned into a pretty good player too. I also think Zim had a few more dramatic walkoffs in his Rookie year so all this hype is to sell magazines and shoes.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 21, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Natinbeantown: There's another kid down here(ATL.) that every one is talking about Chavez Clarke i posted about him last week i cut out the article(ajc) to send to Rizzo and then my wife threw it in the recycle bin,needless to say that started fireworks in my house("it was just a piece of paper") she said, anyway this kid is can't miss and is first cousin to the Hariston family(Scot,Jerry) their father coached and managed in the majors. dmacman88: Heyward came up in the bottom of the ninth and hit a game tying hr after Philly had shut the Braves out for eight innings the Braves won it in the 10th on a walkoff hr by McClouth.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 21, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Tired of seeing Adam Dunn constantly walk with guys in scoring position. Constantly taking 3-0 dead-center fastballs. He's not paid to trot to first base 150 times a year. He's paid to drive people in. Lead off the inning with a walk? No problem. Walk (not intentional) with 2 out and guys on 2nd and 3rd? Ridiculous. Swing the d@mn bat.

Posted by: Handsome_John_Pruitt | April 21, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Not quite. See this from a few posts back:
Rockies team president Keli McGregor dead at 48

****************
Did I read the owner of the rockies died?
Posted by: alex35332 | April 21, 2010 10:23 AM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 21, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"Adam Dunn is an absolutely HORRIBLE slump. At least I hope that's what it is. He has three home runs since early LAST AUGUST, but all have been little dippy shots more worthy of Alberto Gonzales than Adam Dunn."

Well, that's not true at all. He hit 9 HRs last August, 3 in September, and the one so far this year. Yes, he's in a slump, but it's not nearly as bad as you say it is.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"Even now, they reserve so many seats for imaginary package purchasers that those of us whose schedules are not predictable enough can't get any good seats in any of the various price ranges for individual games."

That's total BS. The season ticket plans they are holding seats for now don't include any games until the first homestand in May. That means you can call up, walk up or go online to buy as many seats as you might want in any section for individual games that are scheduled before May. And if your schedule is so unpredictable, you wouldn't be buying tickets any further out than that anyway, would you?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 21, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Rigg's needs to move Dunn down in the lineup 7th? takes some pressure off him i.e.Morgan,Guz,Zimm,Hamma,Pudge,Desmond,Dunn,JMax. and btw what's the weather like today think they'll be able to get it in or are we looking at a dh on thurs.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 21, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

dargramps, you can probably find the piece on the AJC site and then either print it out for snail mailing or email a link from the paper's site.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 21, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

For one thing, we're dealing with a really small sample size, so any analysis, should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, here's my analysis:

Dunn's BABIP is a paltry .194. That probably hurts even more for Dunn since he puts so few balls in play (compared to a guy like, say, Guzman). It stands to reason that it will go back up toward his .290 career mark, especially considering his line drive percentage is only a little lower than last year (18% vs 20 last year). He's just been really unlucky. He's clearly still getting walks, and, interestingly, he's not striking out as much as last season (so far). He should be fine as far as BA/OBP goes. Unfortunately, Guzman's also likely to come back to Earth, his BABIP is .447 (compared to his career .306 mark).

My concern for Dunn is that he's not getting as much lift in years past and hitting more groundballs. His FB/GB ratio is 1, compared to his career .72 figure. If he can get the ball in the air just a bit more, the home runs will come. I'm fairly confident that he'll figure it out (I think it's clear that he's not Austin Kearns), but if not, we could be in for a regression from last year for Dunn.

Posted by: WMPete | April 21, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

". . . hard-core season-ticket plan holders they should be trying to please?"

This phrase suggests the writer has missed the point of Stan's "Plan."

Pleasing "hard-core season ticket holders" is not what this ownership is about. Profit is.

Posted by: JohnRDC | April 21, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

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