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In Drew Storen, help is on the way

One week ago would have been the best time to call up Drew Storen, but since that's impossible, now works, too. The Nationals' legitimizing start to the season was predicated upon their bullpen, on Clip & Save shutting teams down from the seventh inning on. Last weekend, even in victories, it started showing some signs of teetering. Against New York, it cost the Nationals perhaps their worst loss of the season. In Colorado, it just about started leaking oil.

The Nationals' bullpen took two losses over the weekend, and in the third game Brian Bruney eviscerated any chance at a Nationals victory. The Nationals' bullpen hasn't quite become a question mark, but it's not the same certainty it was early in the season. Earned run average is not always the best measure of a bullpen, but the Nats' bullpen has a 4.96 ERA in May, and it has allowed an earned run in 12 of 15 games.

It caught up to them in Colorado, where they suffered their first three-game losing streak of the season. The Nationals' aversion to extended bouts of losing owed partly to their resilience, mostly to consistent starting pitching. In 24 games since April 21, Nationals starters have lasted less than five innings twice and allowed more than four runs in a start twice. In total, they have a 3.45 ERA, averaging nearly six innings per start. Their starters have almost never doomed them. Sometimes, their bullpen did.

So, yes, now is a good time for a relief reinforcement who's been blowing away minor league batters. In Class AA and Class AAA, to where one assumes he's never going back, Storen had a 1.08 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, allowing 15 base runners while striking out 15.

Storen badly wanted to make the major leagues last season, to go from the draft to the bigs in one season. That's why he signed immediately, shipped off to Hagerstown right away. When he didn't make it, he understood.

"Last year, when I didn't get the call, I said, 'My goal is not to be there for a month, so that's fine,' " Storen said this spring. "I put myself in position for the rest of my career. That's kind of the way I look at it."

The rest of his career starts today.

FROM THE POST

The Nationals suffered their first three-game losing streak of the season as they fell to the Rockies 2-1. Scott Olsen deserved better. Olsen's 1.11 ERA since April 25 ranks third in the majors behind Phil Hughes and Jon Garland. Olsen credits getting ahead in the count and throw more strikes.

In case you missed, Sheinin takes an excellent look at Bryce Harper and the question, fair or unfair, he must answer.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Pawtucket 3, Syracuse 1: Chuck James allowed no runs on seven hits while striking out five in 4 1/3 innings. Justin Maxwell went 1 for 3 with a walk.

Harrisburg 2, New Brunswick 1: Tom Millone allowed one earned run on seven hits and no walks in 7 1/3 innings, striking out four. Millone lowered his ERA to 3.14. Michael Martinez went 2 for 3.

Potomac 7, Wilmington 6: Tyler Moore hit a game-winning single in the ninth. Tim Pahuta went 3 for 4 with a home run and a double. Adrian Alaniz pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing two hits and no walks.

Asheville 5, Hagerstown 2: Eury Perez went 4 for 4. Daniel Rosenbaum pitched seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and no walks while striking out five. Rosenbaum's ERA is 1.72 and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is 41 to 7.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Jeff Francis returned to beat the Nationals after more than a year away from baseball, Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post writes.

This Chad Cordero profile from Tacoma Weekly is a little old but worth a look. Cordero's career is getting back on track. In Class AAA, Cordero, who was once what Drew Storen is now, has a 1.23 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings.

The Nationals will catch a cold Cardinals team that just lost first place today.

By Adam Kilgore  |  May 17, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
 
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Next: Today's lineups

Comments

I just didn't think it would come this quickly.But I'm glad it did:

I would give Bruney until Storen's call-up to get it going. If not, so long, Brian.

Posted by: nats24 | May 16, 2010 12:31 AM

Posted by: nats24 | May 17, 2010 1:14 AM | Report abuse

If further bullpen reinforcement is needed, Willkie, Severino, and Peralta have also been putting up good numbers for Syracuse. (Jesse English, not so much, of late.) It's interesting that none of these three were called up before Storen at this point. The Nats brain trust apparently feels Storen is more ready than the other three.
P.S.: Before we pin Sunday's loss solely on the bullpen (i.e., Clippard), remember that scoring only one run puts a lot of pressure on your pitching. The Nats missed a few chances to put more runs on the board.

Posted by: bertbkatz | May 17, 2010 1:28 AM | Report abuse

@bertbkatz: Right. You can't score one run and blame the pitching for losing. Except for the 8th inning breakout on Friday, the team has been struggling offensively and this is a harder problem to fix than replacing pitchers.

But it's equally true that the team's success so far had papered over some real weaknesses in both the rotation and the bullpen that, over the course of a long season, were bound eventually to be exposed. Exposing them early enough to fix them may be a blessing in disguise, and the good news is that management seems willing to make the necessary moves and has the pieces with which to do it.

And while it's statistically inescapable that you will lose a certain percentage of one-run games, it is also true that the last two games were lost in ways that exposed weaknesses we all knew were there: On Saturday night, an inexperienced shortstop rushed a throw and a subpar-fielding first baseman failed to scoop it. On Sunday, two more failures in fundamentals cost dearly: a failed sacrifice bunt, and a leadoff walk to the opposition. Don't get me wrong, I love Desi and Dunn, and no one's perfect. But getting these things right is what separates contenders from teams that linger around .500.

Posted by: Meridian1 | May 17, 2010 6:07 AM | Report abuse

Very excited to see Storen pitch tonight or Tuesday.

Lets go get a righthanded hitting rightfielder on the cheap to platoon with Bernadina now. Maybe get the Rays to pay for half of Pat Burrell (just sent down) in a trade for Bruney. Maybe Dye. Maybe Corey Hart for a marginal prospect from the Brewers.

I know we won't but I like to pretend...

http://forums.realgm.com/boards/viewforum.php?f=124

Posted by: CJArlington | May 17, 2010 6:51 AM | Report abuse

Good to see that Chuck James had a nice outing for Syracuse. IIRC, another soft-tossing lefty? Come June, let Johnny Boy, Chico, and James fight it out for the Jamie Moyer Chair as Distinguished Professor of Lefthanderology in the Nats' rotation (AKA the #5 slot). Stammen and Atilano can compete for the #4 slot, with the loser maybe supplanting Batista as long reliever?

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | May 17, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Pitching is good. But to win, the team has to score runs. 14 was very good last thursday eve. But did they just get spent? Scoring 14 runs, then 3, 2, and 1 just is not going to get it done.
It was fitting to see Morse play very well on first. And then see Dunn come in the ninth to pinch hit and strike out.
C'mon Nats! Score some runs in St. Louie! It would be nice to take the two from then to make it a 5-4 road trip.

Go Nats!!

Posted by: M20832 | May 17, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Not sure if this got mentioned elsewhere, but the New York Times ran a story on Harper over the weekend, too: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/sports/baseball/16nationals.html

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | May 17, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Love the chief and the overall sentiment of the Tacoma Weekly story, but there are several examples in there of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story...

Posted by: truke | May 17, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

No need to panic about 3 losses in a row (not that anybody is here, but just in case). Even the Yankees will lose 3 in a row at some point. The trick is how the team responds to adversity. We need more runs to help the pitchers out.

Posted by: Handsome_John_Pruitt | May 17, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Yes the defense and pitching seemed good yesterday, but it was clear to me that the batters were all struggling.

My guess is that playing a double header plus a day game the next day probably got a lot of the players burned out. 3 games in a 24 (okay maybe 26) hour period is enough to burn out most anyone. The team needs to try and get some rest for these guys over the next few games. I would think you want every one feeling good when you take on Baltimore, as thats a good opportunity for a 3 game sweep.

Posted by: alex35332 | May 17, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

And while it's statistically inescapable that you will lose a certain percentage of one-run games, it is also true that the last two games were lost in ways that exposed weaknesses we all knew were there: On Saturday night, an inexperienced shortstop rushed a throw and a subpar-fielding first baseman failed to scoop it. On Sunday, two more failures in fundamentals cost dearly: a failed sacrifice bunt, and a leadoff walk to the opposition. Don't get me wrong, I love Desi and Dunn, and no one's perfect. But getting these things right is what separates contenders from teams that linger around .500.


Posted by: Meridian1 | May 17, 2010 6:07 AM | Report abuse


Agreed. But I have to say that, after consecutive 100+ loss seasons, I would be quite pleased (for this season, anyway) if the team "linger[ed] around .500."

Posted by: rbpalmer | May 17, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Let's not get carried away with hopes of feasting on the O's or, for that matter, cleaning up during Boz's stretch of 40-some games or whatever against non-playoff teams. Some of the 2009 playoff teams have been playing poorly so far, and some non-playoff teams, like the Nats, have been playing much better. And the O's have started to pick up their game: they're not the same wretched team they were in April. Given our weak hitting, as noted by others, our margin for error is and will continue to be very small, no matter whom we play.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | May 17, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I went to the Orioles game yesterday - and that team is terrible. Still, let's try to steal a game from the Cards, get home with a winning record then focus on the Mets and O's. I don't think this club is taking anything lightly or for granted.

Posted by: Kev29 | May 17, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link on The Chief. I still half-expect to hear "Hail to the Chief" on the radio going into the ninth with a lead.
That, and the bouncing stands. I miss that.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 17, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I second the thanks for linking to the piece on Chief (although as truke notes, it did have some factual errors, such as that Sori was a high point of the *2005* season...um, no). Apropos in a way to link to it today, given his connection to Storen. Rock those flat-brimmed hats, kids. :-)

Kind of made me mad at Bowden all over again for firing him over the air. What a *#$%@ move. But I digress.

Also reminded me of the story in Svrluga's book about how the Nats representatives sat around the kitchen table with Cordero and his parents, sans agent, to discuss career possibilities with the Expos, and how when the team made the initial offer Chad allowed as how he never thought he'd make that much money in his life and accepted on the spot. What's not to love about the kid?

Yeah, I miss him, too. And, in a way, I also miss dumpy old RFK where I first fell in love with the Nats in that wonderful first year.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 17, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

As noted by truke and natsfan1a1, the Tacoma story had some serious factual errors.

*Soriano a Nat in 2005? I don't think so.

*First game at Nats Park 4-0 going into the ninth? Uh, no. Nats led 2-1 going into the ninth. Braves tied it in the ninth. Zimmerman walk-off homer wins it in the bottom of the ninth.

Sloppy reporting always detracts from a good story. It's not that difficult to do a little fact checking.

Posted by: NoVaSnow | May 17, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the lack of scoring: This will improve down the stretch. If they score as many runs as they did in the second half of last season, that will give pitchers reasonably sufficient leads to get wins.

Dunn has been in a mini-slump so far this season. Everybody has them (last year, Texeira looked really bad through May). Morgan is lagging as well.

Once Morgan and Dunn hit their strides, the lineup should be firing on all cylinders. The 1-run games will become 3-run wins, if the pitching holds.

Relax, people. There's a lot of baseball left.

Posted by: jboogie1 | May 17, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Hate to say it but the bullpen - other than Capps - has quickly reverted back to blowing leads reminiscent of last season. Clippard has now given up runs routinely in his last several outings. I heard an unsettling interview with Tyler Walker the other day and when asked about Clippard, Walker said that Clippard does his job, he gets out of the innings with a tie - regardless of whether he goes in with a lead or not - his job is to let the Nats go into the 9th with at least a tie. That's not really a mentality for an effective bullpen -tobe satisfied giving up runs as long as you stay at least in a tie. I've gone from confident in the Nats to pull out close games, to hoping for enough runs that a bullpen can't relinquish a lead. I was thinking last night I hope Storen can effectively fill the 8th inning role.

Posted by: AsstGM | May 17, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

It's definitely good to know that we have a surplus of solid pitchers in AAA.

On the off-chance that they are wild-card or division contenders (I know, I'm dreaming, but you never know), they will be a HUGE asset in September.

Now that 2010 Clippard is looking like 2009 Clippard, it's definitely a good time to promote Storen. I just wish Marquis wasn't such a bust this year. If he was himself, we would be at least a win or two better.

Posted by: jboogie1 | May 17, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I don't know about you all, but now that we're only 20-18 I'm ready to throw in the towel on all these players and the whole season!

Posted by: Section506 | May 17, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

good now we need hitters , im more worried about them not scoring enough runs evident in the rockies series. they need help try get a rested dye or package some guys cause once Wang Marquis Zimmerman may be ready plus Strasbug we may have to many starting pitchers

Posted by: cjdwolfpack | May 17, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

If I'm not mistaken, Capps hasn't pitched since last Wednesday. That's 4 days off. He needs to pitch tonight even if there's no save opportunity. I'm a little worried he's going to be rusty.

Posted by: slopitchtom | May 17, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Dibble made a good point this AM on MLB Network Radio on XM-175/Sirius-210

He said,"the Nats lost their mojo because of the rainout on Friday". He said, "it was a long 4 days on Denver, in fact the team felt like it was 7 days". According to Dibbs the DH threw a wrench into alot of things that made it very difficult to bounce back on Sunday. No excuses but apprently Pudge was steaming mad after the Sunday loss. Now they have a chance to catch the Cardinals who are in a tail-spin. This is what they have been doing all year, catching teams on the down-low and cashing in. Would you want to play the Dodgers, Braves, Marlins, or Phillies right now? All of those teams had thier swoons and they are starting to heat up!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | May 17, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

"good now we need hitters , im more worried about them not scoring enough runs evident in the rockies series. they need help try get a rested dye or package some guys "

In the loss on Sunday Guzman went 2 for 3 in right field. Morse at first was also 2 for 3. In the last seven days Bernadina has a 1.067 OPS? And a .304 BA with those 2 home runs? Are you looking at some other team.

The Nats offense needs Morgan to get on base. He hasn't been as effective at that of late. And he has been caught stealing way too much. That puts a crimp into getting the heart of the order rolling. For this offense to work Zimmerman, Dunn, and Willingham have to all be lock sync'ed and productive. That hasn't happened yet only Zimmerman has been consistently productive. After him its Ivan Rodriquez.

I doubt that Dye would help. It is more likely he would make things a lot worst for this team. On the other hand if BJ Upton were made available that is a player who would make sense for this team in the outfield.

Posted by: periculum | May 17, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

A bigger question is who they will send down when Strasburg is called up.

So far this season, Lannan has been the weak link in the rotation. But would you really want Lannan to go through waivers? Lannan was the best pitcher in the rotation last year, and is expected to be the #1 this season.

I vote that they send a reliever (Batista?) down, and move one of their starters (Olsen?) to the bullpen for long relief.

Posted by: jboogie1 | May 17, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

How about giving Dunn a contract NOW!? Remember what happened to Zimm when you did that? He took off and has kept going ever since. It shows you appreciate what real pros like Dunn and Zimm do every day and provides a boost for the whole team. Blast him right out of this little slump, methinks. Pay the man, Stanley!

Posted by: NatsFly | May 17, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Need to take care of business against Lohse and not wait for Carpenter (although we did handle Hudson and Hansen in one week) and then feast on the Mets and yes Os. They are not getting better. They absofreakinlutely stink. How Trembley still has a job is beyond comprehension.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 17, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Is everyone really sold on Dunn? The guy is really Frank Howard reincarnated. He's feast or famine, homer or strikeout. And more often strikeout looking. I dunno.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 17, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Upton Stikes out waaaay to much. If a deal were to be done Grady Sizemore would be a better choice. The Indians already have his replacement in AAA for Sizemore. Thier 2nd baseman is hitting .150 and Manny is their coach. Give them Guzman, Lannan both are Manny's guys.

Posted by: hansenjo | May 17, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I think Dunn's contract issue is weighing on him more than we think. I agree with NatsFly that if the organization has him in their future plans, he should be taken care of right now.

The future is now.

Posted by: Tom8 | May 17, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Bottom line is, it's not pitching help we need, but hitting. We sorely lack any type of consisting hitting. I can see how when you go up against the likes of that Colorado ace (Jimenez I believe ??) you really need to battle to get a 2-1 or 3-2 win. But it seems like almost every game, it's 3-2, 4-3, or at best 5-4. That's a lot of pressure on any starting or relief pitching. Besides that outburst they had against the Mets on that rainy day a few games ago, they never could get any runs. It's very very frustrating. If they're down by a couple or runs by let's say the 5th inning or so, I never have any hope that they're going to come back to win. It's almost always, 2-2, or 3-3 going into the 8th inning or so. Really, absolutely no hitting and there doesn't seem to be any help on the way this year, just pitching. If the pitchers aren't throwing like a 3 run or less game, they almost don't have hope to win...

Posted by: jk67 | May 17, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I was thinking last night I hope Storen can effectively fill the 8th inning role.

Posted by: AsstGM | May 17, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I doubt if they'll have Storen in the set-up role -- at least not right away. He'll probably start off in middle relief, the 6th-or-7th inning guy, so as not to put too much pressure on him too early. Eventually, though, I think they see him as being a closer.

Posted by: rbpalmer | May 17, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

" move one of their starters (Olsen?) to the bullpen for long relief."

You kidding? Olsen has been one ofour best consistent starters. I would rank him right behind Livo right now.

I think gettin Storen up will really improve the team. It will allow us to be incredibly strong out of the bullpen when needed, and with a little pressure removed the offense should hit it's stride and when one falters a bit the other can step in.
I see good things ahead for our team.

Posted by: Ivantuski | May 17, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The thing about contracts, you don't give them, you agree to them with another party.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 17, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Methinks I'm going to have to go to Hagerstown to check out young Mr. Rosenbaum.

Mr. Storen Goes to Washington. I predict a box-office smash. Welcome, sir.

Posted by: fischy | May 17, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

"absolutely no hitting and there doesn't seem to be any help on the way this year, just pitching. If the pitchers aren't throwing like a 3 run or less game, they almost don't have hope to win... "

Thank you Betty Buzz-kill

Posted by: Ivantuski | May 17, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Methinks I'm going to have to go to Hagerstown to check out young Mr. Rosenbaum.

Mr. Storen Goes to Washington. I predict a box-office smash. Welcome, sir.

Posted by: fischy | May 17, 2010 11:40 AM |

Just in case you didn't see it above. I'm sure you all care so much about my mindless, banal two-sentence comment that it was important enough for me to republish it. Wouldn't want y'all to miss it. Just in case, I promise to republish it, if there's another thread soon.

Posted by: fischy | May 17, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

@jboogie1: "Dunn has been in a mini-slump so far this season. Everybody has them (last year, Texeira looked really bad through May)."

Right now, Dunn has 9 HR, projects to 38 for the full season. His OPS is .932. If that's a slump, I'd like some more, please.

Morgan, OTOH... Am I the only one who thought he looked like he'd never had a bat in his hands yesterday? Big looping swings that should be every hitting coach's instructional video when they describe "hole in your swing." Head looking all over the place as he's taking his swing. He looked terribly distracted, somehow.

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 17, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Can somebody with ESPN "Insider" status fill me in on the "Oswalt to DC?" rumor?

Posted by: Bethesdangit1 | May 17, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Can somebody with ESPN "Insider" status fill me in on the "Oswalt to DC?" rumor?

Posted by: Bethesdangit1 | May 17, 2010 12:14 PM


I heard Buster Olney on M&M in the morning and he mentioned DC being a "possible" destination for Roy Oswalt. Nothing concrete...just speculation. At least thats how I took it.

Posted by: FloresFan | May 17, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

A few observations after scanning this blog; We hit a liitle slump in Colorado but we should be all right against Loshe tonight,whoever talked about the Uptons mentioned BJ i think it's Justin Upton who strikes out way too much and i'm not sure he's available unless we give up way too much,concerning Grady Sizemore he's been in a two year funk batting wise and has not had a good season since 07-08 Cleveland's looking to deal him,some say he's lost his home run swing if i'm Rizzo, the Indians are looking to fleece someone(buyer beware!) This team needs to take one series at a time don't look ahead focus on the task at hand. Jim Riggleman needs to pull Nyjer aside and reassure him that every thing's allright stop pressing and just play your game don't try to do too much, and as Jackie Robinson would say Let's Go!!!!!!

Posted by: dargregmag | May 17, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Great starting pitching from Livo and Olsen over the weekend was encouraging. Can't always expect the bullpen to come through and there was no reason only to score 1 run against a soft throwing left like Francis who hadn't pitched in over a year. That was a game the Nats should have won regardless of whether Olsen gets down a sacrifice bunt.

Let's hope Storen can become the set up guy with Clippard throwing the 7th and Capps as the closer. Along with Burnett as lefty specialist, that makes for a pretty nice bullpen setup.

Posted by: wizfan89 | May 17, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Regarding our hitting: the weak link(s) in our line-up lately has not been Dunn (who's hitting over .250 after a slow start) but Morgan and Willingham. They'll break out of their slumps soon, I hope.

About Olsen's failure to get the bunt down in the 7th inning: where is it written that a left-handed batting pitcher must try to bunt high inside pitches (especially with the first baseman charging down the line) as detailed in this morning's gamer? I thought pitches out of the strike zone were supposed to be taken for balls, even by pitchers attempting to bunt. Was this Olsen's failure, or was he ordered to bunt under any circumstances? A walk would have been just as good as or better than a successful bunt.

Posted by: bertbkatz | May 17, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Nyjer's hitting .188 against lefties this year and .305 versus righties. Thought this might have been a big dropoff from 09 but his splits last year (Pitt & Wash combined) were .175 and .344

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | May 17, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

While it is true that contracts must be agreed to by both parties, the Nats do not seem to be pursuing it seriously, which is inexplicable to me. Dunn has been an extremely consistent power bat, is becoming an asset at first, is a fine clubhouse presence and is going to be a free agent next year. He may not be Frank Howard, but he is a really solid player who seems to be a great fit for a serious team. He has a great career before him, and I would like it to be here.

Posted by: NatsFly | May 17, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

We may not have any idea how hard anyone is pursuing contracts. They don't have any obligation to tell us what is happening, nor to even tell us the truth about how much is happening. Dunn seems happy here, so I don't see him leaving. My guess is it will eventually get signed. I'm not concerned.

Posted by: hats4bats | May 17, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Agree with NatsFly. Whenever Dunn is asked about contract negotiations, he says nothing's happening but he's not worried. I don't blame him. If the Nats don't sign him, someone else will, in a heartbeat. It's the Nats who should be worried.

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 17, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

"Really, absolutely no hitting and there doesn't seem to be any help on the way this year, just pitching. If the pitchers aren't throwing like a 3 run or less game, they almost don't have hope to win..."

A bit of an exaggeration, seeing as how we're in the middle of the pack in the key offensive statistical categories, i.e., batting average (14th out of 30), runs (18th), OPS (12th).

Posted by: rbpalmer | May 17, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

The hitting is a concern, but I'm an optimist. Almost everyone in that lineup, except Desmond and Bernadina, are proven major-league hitters, and Desmond is doing OK.

The trick is to get enough of them firing at the same time so that they score more runs, but that will happen in time. Hitting almost always comes in waves.

As everyone has said, the one obvious place that is a long-term offensive weakness is RF, and the options right now are limited. Rizzo et al are certainly as aware of this as we are, so there's not much point in fretting over it.

Posted by: Meridian1 | May 17, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Dunn need not worry about it now in any event. If he has a decent year, but more importantly, if the team contends late, nevermind actually wins something, then he's a made man and they're bound to want to keep him. If, OTOH, he doesn't, and they tank again, moving on wouldn't be the worst outcome for either party. So they both know there's no rush, so there's no real pressure, and with the draft coming up, the FO's time is better spent elswhere anyway.
Zimm is irreplaceable. Dunn is not.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 17, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Despite the game long bashing Dibble and Carpenter gave him the other day Atilano has kept us in every game he's pitched except 1. Don't know why they were so hard on him and pretty much defending Bruney the last week.

Posted by: Kolchak | May 17, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Agree with Kolchak on Atilano. He didn't even seem to get flustered when he was called for a balk in his last game. Seems like a cool headed guy to me.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | May 17, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Sec3. Well said, as usual.

You know how ballplayers always tell the press they won't negotiate during the season? I'm half-convinced they do that precisely so that they won't spend the whole [darn] season answering questions about this [stuff].

(Meanwhile, several folks are convinced he's "slumping" because he's so torn up about wondering where his 13th million will come from. Projection is great; we see what we want to.)

Posted by: Scooter_ | May 17, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, Scooter. If he wants to stay here, he's got to know he'll get a reasonable offer from Rizzo if he has a normal Adam Dunn year. I don't think he's worrying about moving his kids (does he have kids?) or trying to sell his house in this market (does he own one?) if he doesn't sign. Even if he were to sign an extension tomorrow, he's not a 10/5 guy (yet), so unless he has a no-trade clause (and I can't imagine them giving him one), he wouldn't know where he'll be playing, anyway.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 17, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

The other thing to remember about Atilano is, he's young. He's a rookie. He has a lot to learn, and we're getting to watch that happen. The real test for him, assuming he lasts that long, is next year.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 17, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Just to answer your question Sec3, Dunn has two sons--Brady (3, shares birthday with Adam) and Casey (I think that's the name) who is ~6 months old. Don't know about the house as he didn't talk about that on his video blog (MASN).

Posted by: LurkerNowPoster | May 17, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Sec3, one of the joys over these last couple-three years has been watching the young pitchers learn. Tagging along on those previous comments defending Atilano specifically, I'm glad these kids have a pitching coach other than Rob Dibble.

On a homer by I think Carlos Gonzalez, Dibble started his accustomed spiel about how the pitcher threw the ball right down the middle (note: in his world, no one ever hits a home run because he is good; the pitcher always made a horrible pitch). The replay in this case forced even Dibble to say "Well, it's down and in ..." but he recovered nicely by telling us that you can't pitch lefties down and in.

Look, I basically enjoy having the fella around, but then, that's largely because I have a working fast-forward button. In the end, the guys talking on TV have little to do with how much I enjoy the team.

Posted by: Scooter_ | May 17, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

IMHOs:

It sounded to me that Riggleman was using Dunn as a crutch yesterday, when he was quoted by the announcers as saying that you never leave a big bat out of the lineup in Colorado. This sounds like Earl Weaver and waiting for the three-run homer, only it's the wrong league. Dunn IMHO belongs in the junior league. As the Rockies showed, there are all sorts of ways to score in a NL game.

Please don't lean on the "big bopper" approach, especially since "caught looking" happens a lot with Dunn.

Posted by: JohnRDC | May 17, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

The two headlines I've seen lately don't really jive: "Mets likely can't afford Oswalt" and "DC a possible destination for Oswalt."

Uh, no.

I don't know how anyone can be anything but impressed with Atilano. He might not fit in long-term, but he's been fairly impressive, especially for a young rookie.

Posted by: CJArlington | May 17, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I hope Rizzo is dropping hints that he's in the market for Oswalt.

1. It means that people have to talk about the Nationals as being serious about winning.

2. It might make the Mutts or the Foolies pay more when they ultimately sign him.

Posted by: Section506 | May 17, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I can see the value in that. It does make me wonder about the conventions on these things. It can't piss off the agents too much when a GM implies interest insincerely just to mess with the competition--the agents talk of phantom "other offers" all the time, apparently. And since it can drive up the price, it works in their favor. But there must be some level of yanking the other GMs' chains that is considered over the line, no?
******************
I hope Rizzo is dropping hints that he's in the market for Oswalt.
1. It means that people have to talk about the Nationals as being serious about winning.
2. It might make the Mutts or the Foolies pay more when they ultimately sign him.
Posted by: Section506 | May 17, 2010 4:14 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 17, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Scooter, I notice that same call on the the down-and-in-to-a-lefty dinger. Dibble had been ragging on Clippard over-using (to hear him tell it) the changeup, until a swing and miss on a changeup, and then he loved it.
Which always reminds me of Manute Bol's threes--"NO NO Nute NONONO!... Nice Shot!"

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 17, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure there is, Sec 3, but given the other stuff that's considered acceptable in baseball, I can hardly believe the line is very narrowly drawn.

Besides, the worst that can happen is you end up with a career 3.29 ERA 32-year old pitcher, with over 1,500 strike outs for cheap. And we all hope that might come in useful in August.

Regardless, I bet if he ends up in the NL East it's in Philly. They need him bad. I will never underestimate Omar Minaya's ability to do something that provokes head-scratching, though.

Posted by: Section506 | May 17, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

That's another thing I've never understood: How "jibe"--a nautical term for bring the stern across the wind--came to mean "in agreement."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 17, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

506, I think somebody on MLBTR was saying how the Mets aren't interested in Pedro now. You'd think if anybody was, it'd be them.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 17, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Like Stausberg, we better rein back our expectations because Storen will not just dominate everyone on Day 1

He will struggle and give him some runs/hits

Posted by: Bious | May 17, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Omar would rather spend his efforts chasing down Bartolo Colon, Sec3.

As to jibe, I don't know either, but the first use of it with this meaning goes way back to 1813, according to the OED...

"Sporting Mag. XLII. 122 It however curricle-izes or gibes in but too well with the passing anecdotes of the day. "

Posted by: Section506 | May 17, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Nice article by Sheinin regarding the Bryce Harper is a bad, bad guy story. Yeah, the kid (he really is just a kid) will need to tone things down as a pro and clean up the Alice Cooper eye black but he seems intelligent as well as talented. There may be something to the notion that the bad guy comments are a ruse to scare off teams and drop him lower n the draft. I think the greater problem is that at 17 he could not sign this year, continue JC ball and enter next year's draft as a mere 18 year old. However he seems ambitious and motivated enough to want to get into pro ball and on his way to the bigs. At any rate, I'm less concerned about the "bad guy" stuff. Sounds like 17 year old hotdogging that he will grow out of. I mean when I hear "bad guy" -- I think of Elija Dukes (sorry ED, but you were a bad guy).

Posted by: Natmeister | May 17, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

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