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More on the Nationals offense

Morning roundup

Well, that was pretty horrendous. That's just about the only conclusion you can draw from the Nationals' past two games. Terrible. Wretched. Awful. Yeah, that sums it up.

But the conclusions, at least based on those two games, should cease right there. The length of the baseball season allows a short sample to distort what's really happening. Now, the Nationals offense has been below average all season. The guys at the top of the lineup don't get on base quite enough, and the ones at the bottom generally don't produce enough. There are improvements to be made. The futility of the past two days didn't need to happen for us know that.

This is a roundabout way to get to the point, which is this: There seems to be some rumbling sentiment that the weekend proved why the Nationals can afford to break up their 3-4-5 hitters and/or trade Adam Dunn. There are some good arguments for trading the Nationals' sluggers. Basing it on the past two games, or any two games, in patently insane.

Yes, Adam Dunn stunk on ice this weekend - five Ks in five at-bats with men in scoring position. But one unequivocal thing about the Nationals offense is that the problem is not Adam Dunn. He leads the National League in extra-base hits and his 154 OPS+ is one of the best in the league.

They do have issues. Dunn is not one of them. The past two games tell us that the middle of the order just isn't good enough. The entire season tells us it's one of the best combinations in the league, and that's what really matters.

And about fixing those issues? That's what Rick Eckstein is trying to do. Here's the chat a couple reporters had with him at the end of the game:

What do you take out of this past few days?
The game is based on execution when you've got runners in scoring position. That's the bottom line. We just didn't execute the last few days. We had our opportunities, and we couldn't capitalize on those opportunities. To do a better job in the future, we have to capitalize on the situations and execute. The bottom line is, find a way to get it done.

Is there anything different in the approach in clutch spots?
Well, we're getting pitches to hit and we're just missing them. When you don't execute a situation, you can say whatever you want. The bottom line is, do you get the job done or not? The last two days, we were getting the job done with nobody on. But then when guys were on base, we weren't getting it done. Plain and simple. Typically in those situations, they tend to pitch us in a different way. We've got to make adjustments. Our adjustments weren't up to par.

As hitting coach, how much do you take it personally?
Every pitch. Every pitch. Yeah.

If you're having success when guys aren't on base, how do you go about fixing the problem?
Well, you've got to evaluate, is there a problem? Sometimes, it's baseball. That's the first thing you have to do. You've got to realize, and they conducting their at-bat in a good way? Are they doing what the plan is, and trying to execute that plan? Sometimes, you know, there was a pitch out there that one of our players put in play that, if the wind isn't blowing in, it's a home run. But it wasn't today. It's a fly ball out. So is there a problem there? No, I don't think so. So, hey, keep nutting it up. So you have to evaluate. You have to look at the way they're conducting the at-bat, how their approach. Ultimately, the result doesn't always dictate if it was a quality at-bat or not.

Do you have to remind guys of that when it's going bad?
Don't get me wrong. There are times where's it's, 'No. No. We need to have a better plan. We need to have a better approach.' But there are also other times like, 'You did what you were supposed to do. You conducted a professional at-bat in that situation. Keep doing that.' Each at-bat is individualized to each individual person, to each individual situation, on each individual pitch. But I was bad yesterday, and I was bad today. I'll be better tomorrow.

FROM THE POST

The Nationals suffered their second straight shutout, a 1-0 loss to the Marlins that allowed Florida to win the series despite scoring three runs in the three games.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse 3, Pawtucket 0: Matt Chico allowed no runs in seven innings on three hits and a walk. Jason Bergmann, who's ERA is down to 1.87, pitched a perfect eighth. Pete Orr went 2 for 4 with a double.

Harrisburg 13, Altoona 4: The Senators have scored 28 runs in their past two games. Danny Espinosa went 1 for 5 with a home run. Chris Marrero went 2 for 5. Tyler Walker pitched two clean innings with two strikeouts.

Potomac was off.

Hagerstown 7, Rome 2: Justin Bloxom went 2 for 4 with a walk. Josh Smoker allowed one earned run on six hits and no walks in six innings, striking out six,

Staten Island 9, Vermont 5: Jason Martinson went 2 for 5 with a triple.

GCL Nationals 7, GCL Astros 6: In his first rehab start, Jason Marquis allowed no runs in three innings on two hits and no walks, striking out four.

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 19, 2010; 5:59 AM ET
Categories:  Adam Dunn , Josh Willingham , Ryan Zimmerman , minors & farm system , trade deadline  | Tags: Adam Dunn, Rick Eckstein  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Craig Stammen puts it together, at least for one day
Next: Today's lineup

Comments

The Nats need to fix a couple of things. Number 1, it's time to put Nyjer Morgan and Adam Kennedy out of their misery. Both are guys you want to root for, but in the immortal words of someone - "it is what it is." Nyjer needs to go to the bench for awhile. Let's see if Bernadina can provide a spark at the top and maybe Morse can give the six or seven spot more punch. As for Kennedy, give him his release and let him start over somewhere. Seems like every time he steps on the field, he trips over his own cleats. I know that he has a proven MLB track record, but sometimes it just doesn't work out for certain guys in certain places. One more thing - get off Cristian Guzman's case. Robbie Alomar he ain't, but he's a legit MLB hitter,e in must faster than he's given credit for, and is not the problem in the middle of the infield. Loved when Carpenter combined his error total with Desmond's. Sort of like combining Tommy Aaron's homer total with Hank's.

Posted by: truke | July 19, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

At this point I look longingly at the description of Riggleman as a ".440 manager."

That might be about where the Nats are now, but it is not where they are headed. Since mid May, they are playing about .350, so I'd like to see some of that .440.

Posted by: KenNat | July 19, 2010 9:07 AM

The Nats are 73-93 since Riggleman took over - good for .439

We get what the Lerners pay for

Posted by: Kev29 | July 19, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I get that somedays "it's just baseball" - I don't think that it's "just baseball" everyday. There is something seriously wrong with the hitting. Although it's this generations "year of the pitcher", when nearly every pitcher has Cy Young winning performance against us (except, oddly enough, the Cy Young winners) there's a problem with the hitting. I'm sooo gratified to hear that Rick takes every pitch personally, but at some point it needs to translate into performance. Perhaps our guys are just dumb as stumps and can't learn from a master coach. Or maybe....

Posted by: burnedonce | July 19, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

thinking way outside the box here:

What if the nats trade Dunn and moved Desmond to 1st? Morse could play 2nd, and give Espinosa the SS job in Sept.

Also, I am now in the camp that wants Storen as a starter. Jon Rauch is a free agent next year he could take Drews spot. If traded Dunn / Willingham for a Joba or a Cain our rotation could look like this:

SS
Zimm
Storen
Jobba/Cain/?
Olsen/ Detwiler
Livo (lets face it the old man gets it done and should retire as a Nat)


Posted by: hansenjo | July 19, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I agree with truke. Morgan is showing us that at age 30 he has likely peaked. The guy has some tools, he just cannot put them together. Kennedy is a decent bench guy for this club, but he should remian there most of the time. Guz can play. his glove has been better this year despite playing a new postion and getting sporativ playing time to boot, and there is no doubt that he can hit.

Morse at 2B is a stretch, a literal one - -the guy is simply too large to play the position on more than an emergency basis (6'5" 240 pound 2B? No). But he could play RF when they send Morgan back to 'Cuse and let Berndina play CF every day for a while. Why not.

Posted by: dfh21 | July 19, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I don't want to root for Adam Kennedy. Morgan I do, but not Kennedy. I prefer Gunman at his absurd 8 million a year contract before him.

And I definitely prefer Orlando Hudson over him....

Posted by: CJArlington | July 19, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Not sure I agree with the proposition that you can fix offense or defense but not both, even with the existing roster.

Many of the defense and baserunning fixes should be achievable with existing players as the result of better and more demanding coaching.

The offensive shortcomings can be addressed, at least in part, by abandoning this Little League idea that everyone gets some playing time. That is a luxury this team cannot afford.

So it means seeing less Adam Kennedy and less Willie Harris, and probably less Nyjer Morgan, and more of Bernadina in CF, Morse in RF (with opportunities for defensive replacement/double switches in JMax and Morgan), and a Guzman/Gonzo platoon at 2B.

It won't propel them into the World Series, but it may help and it certainly is unlikely to hurt.

Posted by: Meridian1 | July 19, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

On a bright note, the pitching during this past series was outstanding. Great to see Stammen get a start and I don't think the relief pitchers gave up a run.

Posted by: DavidandDonald1 | July 19, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Meant to say it was great to see Stammen get a quality start.

Posted by: DavidandDonald1 | July 19, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Adam,

thank you for bringing some sanity to this discussion. The last two games notwithstanding, we have one of the best 3-4-5 combinations in the majors, period.

Still, I am all for breaking them up, because it's obviously not enough, and they won't be a really good middle of the order any more by the time the Nats will be able to contend.

This year, you have a great chance to get a decent return for giving away two months of Adam Dunn. Rizzo should do it, without expecting too much in return.

The Nats are 19th in OPS, but 26th in runs scored. That tells you that something is seriously going wrong in terms of balance in the lineup. And a discrepancy like that does not look good for the manager either...

Posted by: amo36 | July 19, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Since the focus of the post was on (lack of) hitting, a couple comments repeated from previously in the season:

- The Nats as a whole don't change their hitting approach with 2 strikes on them. Other than Bernadina (and Pudge at times), it seems like batters are taking full cuts with 2 strikes, instead of shortening their swings and putting the ball in play. With RISP, this lack of adjustment seems more pronounced.

- With a runner on 2nd less than 2 outs, we're not hitting to the right side very often or well.

- The weekends' first innings were indications of what the top of the order CAN do when they work the counts early. This is key not only to give the guys more pitches to see and making the opposing starter drive up pitch counts. Josh Johnson had 30 pitches in the first, I believe, including tons of foul balls by both Nyjer and Roger. Of course, 3-4-5 blew Saturday night, and Nyjer inexplicably gets caught stealing Sunday, killing that promising beginning. Nyjer has (badly) bunted so many first or second pitches at lead-off, I wonder if anyone (Eckstein?) is talking with him...

- In general, it seems to me batters aren't going to the box with a plan, and THAT is a problem with Eckstein. Seems like the players respect him, and he works his tail off. However, it isn't magic to string together a few hits -- it takes recognizing the situation and making a plan for that situation. Then, of course, executing.

Posted by: mo_dc | July 19, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I look at what Eckstein says above and I think of Crash Davis coaching Nuke Laloosh on his cliches.

Cripes, how about something concrete? Something like, "I'm going to throttle the next guy who swings at the first pitch right after the previous batter walked on four pitches."

Or, "I'm going to smack a few guys upside the head who swing for the fences every time they get two strikes on them. They need to start shortening up the swing and fouling off the pitches that are too good to lay off but not good enough to hit. Yeah, I'm talking to you, Desmond, Hammer, Nyjer, Harris..."

Or, "Riggs is going to bench the next guy who swings at the very first pitch a reliever throws when he comes out of the bullpen."

Instead we get stuff that makes you wonder if Eckstein is in the Kevin Bacon, "Remain calm! All is well!" camp.

Posted by: gilbertbp | July 19, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Many of the defense and baserunning fixes should be achievable with existing players as the result of better and more demanding coaching.

Please.

Who was the biggest goat on the basepaths this weekend? Adam Kennedy. He's 34 years old for Pete's sake and he's been in the big leagues for 12 years. Does he really need coaching to be a better runner?

Both of his foulups, in my opinion, came about because of guys pressing to produce runs. Listach sent him on Saturday to try to steal a run in a 1-0 game. Big gamble and it didn't work.

Yesterday, Kennedy pushed it to get to third with one out in the ninth, so he could score the tying run on a fly ball. He realized he couldn't make it, and slipped trying to get back.

Those mistakes aren't going to go away with more practice. They'll go away when they stop playing scoreless games and guys have confidence in the guys behind them to drive in runs. Even there, Rick Eckstein can only do so much; you either hit the ball or you don't.

BTW, Danny Espinosa is hitting .249 in AA. Why would he be ready to help this team at the big league level this year, or next?

I would not "break up" this team. The Nats may very well have filled many of the key spots on a baseball roster: 3-4-5 hitters, top two starters, closer and setup man. If they can get a leadoff man, #6 hitter (Morse?), and improve the defense up the middle, they could be much better, and fast.

Other than Morse, they don't have those answers on the roster now, so they'd either sign guys in the winter or make a deal now. I'd be hesitant to give up Dunn or Willingham, but if you do it and improve in the weak areas without drastically hurting the middle of the order, then make a trade.

I just don't think that trade exists.

Posted by: baltova1 | July 19, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Can I ask a simple question of all of these people bashing Eckstein? Without looking it up, can anybody name the Phillies' hitting coach?

'Cause I couldn't come right up with the name (I have a guess), and if we don't know who's coaching one of the best offenses in the game, maybe the coach isn't that important.

By the way, if you do fire Riggleman, would you want to replace him with a guy with a .471 record after 12 years of big league managing? Probably not, right?

Well, you just turned Joe Torre before he joined the Yankees.

Posted by: baltova1 | July 19, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Well, you just turned Joe Torre before he joined the Yankees.

(That should read "turned down")

Posted by: baltova1 | July 19, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

a. baserunning is poor at best.

b. they refuse to give up at bats and move up runners....the entire series in Florida is an example of how they won't play fundamental baseball....

c. they are getting nothing of power from a lot of people...Desmond, Morgan, right field, and catcher.

d. The pitching staff needs to raise a level of skill in bunting to help move runners. SS needs to be doing 100 a day cause he is killing himself.

e. Dunn's home runs and rbi's are nice, but he doesn't hit fly balls to advance runners - he strikes out a lot. He doesn't get Pujol or Howard $$$$ cause he is not equal.

Posted by: outrbnksm | July 19, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Morgan's BA and OBP are right where they were at the end of May. If we were winning, I'd be fine w/ seeing if he comes around the last part of the season. But, we're losing so I really don't get why he isn't sitting or playing in Syracuse. Morse and Bernadina are drammatically better right now and I just don't see any reason why they are not both starting regularly.

Leaves me continuing to doubt that Riggleman is the answer.

I might cry if they unload the Hammeer or Dunn. At the same time, I don't envy them trying to put a value on the Hammer right now. Can he keep this up? Very few guys raise their game this much this far into their career. Smart money is on him reverting to his career numbers but I'd love to be wrong. Dunn on the other hand is very easy to value and the only question with him is number of years. 3 is it I think. More makes me nervous.

Posted by: Avar | July 19, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Dunn is what he is; he can carry a team then be the hole in the middle of the lineup; that will never change.

If Eckstein thinks this is just a streak of bad luck - not scoring in 26 out of 27 innings in Florida - then he's fooling himself. Maybe he's getting all he can out of meager talent, maybe he isn't, but one thing is for sure, it's not the breaks that are killing the Nats.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | July 19, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I guess my number one problem with the offense is the absurd number of strikeouts. A couple of players actually try to shorten the swing and make contact, but most seem to think that a strikeout is just an out, despite the simple fact that a strikeout has no chance of moving the runners up. Of course the most useless form of batting is taking a called third strike with runners in scoring position. Find me an excuse for that one.

Posted by: driley | July 19, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

driley, agree with you on the last point and, to me, it's the biggest flaw with our 3-4-5 hitters. I don't know what coaching or managing can do to change that. I mean, I'm sure Riggo and Eckstein have probably suggested that maybe they, you know, hit the ball somewhere with runners in scoring position. It's probably popped into their heads as something they should consider...

Posted by: baltova1 | July 19, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Actually, driley, the most useless form of batting is hitting into a triple play, followed by hitting into a double play.

But taking a called third strike with RISP is right up there.

Posted by: gilbertbp | July 19, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

It's one thing to make outs with RISP, but it's another to strike out. Dunn is going to strike out his fair share and never adjusted to what Johnson was doing to him on Saturday. I was upset that both Zimm and the Hammer were left with their bat on their should a couple of times. Both of these game were well pitched and our top of the lineup was on base enough to score runs.

I've reached the same conclusion on Morgan and that he is a situation outfielder with poor instincts on the base paths. He gets struck out and picked off way too much for an everyday player. Riggleman should give Bernadina some starts in center and put Morse in RF on a regular basis. We need more punch at the No. 6 spot and that's where Morse could help out.

The Nats should to Kennedy a favor and release him....the guy has been a starter his entire career and can't help playing once or twice a week like a utility guy. Same for Willie Harris who won't get much PT on this team. I'd rather have Maxwell on the bench and hope he develops.

Posted by: wizfan89 | July 19, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-checking in....and while all the analysis from the Gang is always informative and entertaining...I dunno-right now I seem to have lost my passion for it because I 'm still-STILL-waiting for some evidence that the Slows are merely SLOW and not CHEAP. I know this topic provokes outcries from both sides of the plate. I know there are valid points to be made accordingly. I WANT to believe that the owners ARE merely "slow". But to this point, I think it's fair to say that the Slows have missed on many levels and opportunities to establish much credibility with with US-the FANS...I don't begrudge them with trying to run an efficient, cost effective business-as long as "profitability" recognizes the fundamental difference in owning a baseball team and a shopping mall. I also believe that the Slows want to provide us with a consistent contender (what better way of maximizing your asset?)but as long as success is only defined as bottom line profitability...well, that's why all this other stuff is moot. Sure, maybe down the line we'll have assembled enough talent across the board (a la the Twins) to compete consistently on a low budget. But the odds are just as great that we'll have a perennial "plan"....and end up like so many of the other bottom feeders in MLB.
Hoping the stars align for a brief period.
I'll still love 'em-after all, it's baseball AND my hometown 9.But I'll forever feel, wistfully, that we coulda been so much more. Patience, you say? Like "wait for the new park to open"? For the minors to develop? Our collection of pitchers to magically become something, by and large, more than an endless supply of 5's? To finally land a Chapman or Tex? Pick your own moment. I was ecstatic when the Lerners got the team. Now? Well, I keep hopin'....and prayin'...I mean, what else can I do? It's too depressing to think otherwise. But right now, as I mentioned in an earlier post-I have more confidence in Dunn getting a big 2 out RISP hit then I do the Slows finally rewarding the fans...and team...(and themselves) with some smart, aggressive off the base paths moves. I still got faith, y'know...but I'm getting more and more dubious. STILL....mebbe it's just the heat....and STILL-
Go Nats!

Posted by: zendo | July 19, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

The nationals lead the league in every negative category:
Errors, unearned runs, picked off base, striking out, called third strikes, stranded RISPs, failed bunts, solo HRs. Most of that is coaching. If there were stats for dumb, they would have those too. They over-slide every base. Are you telling me that can't be corrected with a little ass-chewing? Nobody in the org knows baseball.

Posted by: lp_lodestar | July 19, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

amo36 says:

The Nats are 19th in OPS, but 26th in runs scored. That tells you that something is seriously going wrong in terms of balance in the lineup. And a discrepancy like that does not look good for the manager either...

BINGO!

Posted by: richs91 | July 19, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Are you telling me that can't be corrected with a little ass-chewing?

-----

Um, yeah, lp_lodestar, that's what we're telling you....

Posted by: baltova1 | July 19, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

With all the funky, weird new twists this team displays on the field, it makes me think the FIX is ON. How can they do this stuff without trying?

Posted by: richs91 | July 19, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I think that Harris needs to be DFA'd today. They just cannot be giving that guy AB's as poorly as he has hit and with guys on the bench that need the opportunitiy to play.

Desmond and Morgan should go to 'Cuse. Both guys are struggling with fundamental aspects of the game -- time to work on it on the farm. Platoon Guz/Gonzo/Kennedy at SS/2B, Bernadina plays CF every day and Morse plays RF. Having no true lead-off man is a bit of a problem but not such a big deal as Morgan has not been getting on anyway. (2 to 1 K/BB -- his OBP sicne April is about .290).

Trade Capps and Livo to contenders for whatever we can get for them.

They should move Dunn (because they will not do what it takes to re-ink him), but I don't think that they'll do it (too bold a move for the introverted Nats management team). (Too bad becasue they might be able to get Bumgarner or Sanchez from SF for Dunn.) Willingham has an arb year coming so I'd hang on to him and see how things unfold for the club.

Posted by: dfh21 | July 19, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

We all need to repeat to ourselves, "The Nats will not receive blue chip prospects for Dunn, Capps, or Livo".

Those types of trades just don't happen anymore. Can we please stop talking like they do.

Posted by: db423 | July 19, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Morse not only hit in his only appearance since the break, but he got a clutch hit. At .319, and the average higher against right handed pitchers, that should say something to Riggleman.

Posted by: periculum | July 19, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"We all need to repeat to ourselves, "The Nats will not receive blue chip prospects for Dunn, Capps, or Livo"."

Posted by: db423 | July 19, 2010

If Dunn demonstrates the kind of hitting he showed before the break. Dunn for Beckham is still a possibility. Beckham is at least a B prospect with upside. The White Sox scouts have been following the team at every stop.

So, no, they could get 1 or 2 B level prospects for Dunn. Dunn and Capps packaged? More? Teams get desperate when they are in the hunt.

If Livo keeps pitching the way he has they might part with a "B" level prospect for him as well.

Its all about what the market will bear.

Posted by: periculum | July 19, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't agree more with much that has been said in the last few posts.

The front office needs a "the season is essentially over" attitude. The team as it is constructed will NOT win.
Get as much as possible (but don't be ridiculous in your expectations) for players like Guzman, Capps and Livo (who won't be here for long anyway.
Trade Dunn or sign him to a 2-3 year extension (not longer than that!).

And, for crying out loud, STOP running Kennedy, Harris and Morgan out there!
Find out if Bernadina is a consistent defender in centerfield. Find out if Morse can be a solid RF if he plays regularly. When are you going to try these things if not now?

Riggleman's managing for the team's record, and his job (or for what he ridiculously perceives to be beneficial in that respect, like playing Kennedy against righties and pitching Burnett against lefties...), and not for the future of the franchise.
Which is another reason why it was dumb to get him and not someone with a longer deal.

Posted by: amo36 | July 19, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

db423 -- not sure what you mean, quality sluugers, late inning arms and work horse innings eaters garner good returns every year. Last year the Giants gave up a high pitching prospect for freddy Sanchez, the O's got Josh Bell for Sherrill. Holliday nabbed a 2008 first rounder and two other prospects. And the question is what does the club get for keeping Livo, Capps and Dunn?

Posted by: dfh21 | July 19, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Mike Morse is big yes, but there are a handfull 2nd baseman 6 feet or taller playing right now. Ben Zobrist is 6'3" 220lbs. Morse also started 59 games at SS for the Mariners.

Posted by: hansenjo | July 19, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

"And the question is what does the club get for keeping Livo, Capps and Dunn?"

An innings-eating starting pitcher who shows no sign of not pitching until he's 50 (or 60, in the event that he already is 50), a closer, and 40/100.

All of which are useful to have, and that you'd need to replace if you let these guys go.

Posted by: joebleux | July 19, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Pls joebleux, let's be locigcal here. The season is lost, but for your every fifth day of Stras (until he hits his innings limit that is). If Rizzo, who's job it is to build the club for the future, does not move Livo by July 31, he should be fired on August 1.

Posted by: dfh21 | July 19, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Bernadina to CF and top of the line-up, Guzman at 2nd permanently & batting second. Morgan & Kennedy need to ride the pine.

Posted by: shanks1 | July 19, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

If Rizzo has not moved Livo by July 31, he should be fired on Auguust 1.

Posted by: dfh21 | July 19, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

(sorry for the duplicative posts, did not think the 1st went through)

Posted by: dfh21 | July 19, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

dfh21, the last time we traded Livan was four years ago and we got Matt Chico and Garret Mock. Nice guys and everything, but not exactly propelling the Nats into contention four years later.

Posted by: joebleux | July 19, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

The worst Rizzo can do with Dunn is 2 early draft picks. Assuming Dunn hits free agency, and signs with a top 15 club, we'd get a low (near the end) first round pick and a sandwich pick between rounds one and two.

So of course, the only trade we make for Dunn is a trade that is better than that.

And that is exactly why these trades do yield good prospects. Because the only way Rizzo, and any other MLB GM, trades a guy slated to become a Type A free agent is to get a deal better than two picks between 16 and 35.

(To be a Type A FA, Dunn would need to be ranked amount the top 20% of OF and 1B's in the NL by Elias. It's a pretty sure bet at this point.)

Posted by: Sunderland | July 19, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Really? What Livo garnered as a return from a trade of 4 years ago? Wow.

Livo is pithcing better than most available guys, makes less, has big game and playoff cred, is a good guy and is little of an injury risk. If Rizzo does not get something for him, he is a certifiable moron (not to mention that he has 2 SP's coming back from injury over the next several weeks to fill roster spots on his, yet again, last place club anyway).

Posted by: dfh21 | July 19, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Sunderland, that is not exactly accurate. Dunn would likely be a Type A, but if a team in the lower half of baseball signs him in the off season, the Nats would get a Sandwich pick and a second round pick (1st rounders for the bad clubs are protected). So, if Dunn is Type A, is offered Arb and turns it down and signs with another club, the worst case scenario could be that the Nats get something like the 37th overall pick and a second round selection as a return.

Posted by: dfh21 | July 19, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo is doing the best he can making chicken salad out of chicken shiznit. I don't know that it's fair to criticize him this early. He did improve the ball club from last year, although, it can't be to hard not to with back to back 100 loss teams. There is no where to go but up, really.

However, I do know that it all boils down to the Lerner's and there tight ways.
This offseason may be the most critical in franchise history. If they are willing to increase the payroll by 30-40 million this club could make a major jump. But again, that depends on the cheapass Lerner's who don't have the best track record in that area.

Posted by: Section505203 | July 19, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

The Nats run the bases like Helen Keller on crack. DFA Kennedy now. Trade Listach and Eckstein to the local car wash for a couple of shammy jockeys. They could not do worse.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | July 19, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

However, I do know that it all boils down to the Lerner's and there tight ways.
This offseason may be the most critical in franchise history. If they are willing to increase the payroll by 30-40 million this club could make a major jump. But again, that depends on the cheapass Lerner's who don't have the best track record in that area.

Posted by: Section505203 | July 19, 2010 2:59 PM

Yep - I think all the Lerner off-seasons have been critical (and they've largely failed) but this one has the added pressure of trying to retain some of the Strasburg bandwagoners. If those ticket buyers for Strasburg games don't see any other reason to watch the team, they won't come back. More eyes have been on this team over the Summer and probably will be over the Winter and Spring too. Can the Lerners manage to keep their attention? Attendance for his last home start was the lowest (at Nats Park) since he was promoted - 34k on a Friday night. Now that might be a little over analysis, but easy come... easy go.

Posted by: Kev29 | July 19, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

If Rizzo does not get something for him, he is a certifiable moron (not to mention that he has 2 SP's coming back from injury over the next several weeks to fill roster spots on his, yet again, last place club anyway).

Posted by: dfh21 | July 19, 2010 2:31 PM
------------------------

If Rizzo was working with Yankee or Red Sox money for the last several years, you might have a point. But he hasn't, and you know that.

Posted by: shanks1 | July 19, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

If Rizzo was working with Yankee or Red Sox money for the last several years, you might have a point. But he hasn't, and you know that.

Posted by: shanks1 | July 19, 2010 3:16 PM

Heck, I'd be interested to see what he could do with just Orioles money ($20 mil more than he has now)!

Posted by: Kev29 | July 19, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

A specific question for Eckstein: do the Nats' hitters change their approach with two strikes? Conventional baseball wisdom says you cut down on your swing and protect the plate in that situation. (Note to baltova1: this is not the same as "try to hit the ball somewhere.") Protecting the plate means trying to just get a piece of nasty borderline pitches with two strikes until you get a pitch you can drive. Do the Nats practice this strategy? This is the question former MLB hitting coach Ray Knight has been asking implicitly over the last couple of weeks. I'd be very interested in hearing Eckstein's answer.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | July 19, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Hate to beat a 5 year dead horse but all i can think about is is that F.Robby won 81 game's with half the talent that this team has, and they were pretty much a fundamentally sound ballclub, Eckstein show's me nothing because "the big three" continue to choke in situational hitting Dunn keep's swinging at ball's low and in the dirt for strike three,Zimm keeps taking a thrid strike(right down the middle)with RISP, JWill isn't as bad as the other two but not much better,like i said in an earlier post just once i would like to read that Riggs closed the clubhouse and could be heard yelling through the clubhouse doors, just once!.

Posted by: dargregmag | July 19, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

The amount of money (or lack thereof) a GM is dealing with in terms of budget is not really related to the discussion of what Rizzo can get for Livo in a trade. Sure, maybe to the extent bringing on big salary was in play, if that were the case, but that is not likely part of an equation that would send Livo away. They'd be getting younger, cheaper talent, not some big contract. There are a bunch of clubs sniffing a pennant that could use him, Rizzo should be able to get something decent for the guy. Time for us to see what Rizzo can do.

Posted by: dfh21 | July 19, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Hate to beat a 5 year dead horse but all i can think about is is that F.Robby won 81 game's with half the talent that this team has

Posted by: dargregmag | July 19, 2010 3:23 PM

I disagree - go back and look at that 2005 team - there was talent there. And importantly, that talent stayed healthy (even Nick Johnson played 131 games - John Patterson made 31 starts!). They were not built for the future, and many were headcases (Robinson kept them in line - just enough), but they were talented. Not only did 2005 have more than "half the talent" - they might have had about as much or more.

Posted by: Kev29 | July 19, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals cannot afford to break up Zimmerman, Dunn, and Willingham. I have heard that it's the Lerners who don't want to sign Dunn, because he would cost them too much money. I'm tired of the wealthiest ownership, in Major League Baseball, being tightwads. I, and other fans, pay good money to attend (and buy the expensive refreshments). We deserve owners who will make the Nationals competitive; the Lerners are not doing that, because they are not spending adequately, on player payroll, with few exceptions, to get competitive players.

Posted by: mcjr | July 19, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

The Nats have had only one $20 million free agent signing under all the years under Ted Lerner--and that was Adam Dunn, for two years. With that one move, Lerner showed that he could play with the Little Boys (the small market teams).

Now will the Nats show that they can play with the Medium Boys, by re-siging their one and only (somewhat) costly free agent? This is a big test. After all, most of the middle-sized teams have signed many more big money guys than the Nats have, and have retained their players too. The Nats only have to do this one thing to bring a little hope to their fans.

If the Nats let Dunn go, what will Willingham do? Why would he stay? And many of the other talented Nats will be marking the calendar until they are free to go elsewhere, and may make quiet pitches to Rizzo for a trade out of here. Moreover, would the Nats be able to attract a pitcher who could help, when they do not want to pay for run-producers?

The Nats have one of the largest and most affluent markets in all of baseball, yet they act like they are smaller than Cincy and Kansas City!

Posted by: EdDC | July 19, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

@dfh21, let's not be too picky here.

What I wrote about free agent compensation is accurate ("Assuming Dunn hits free agency, and signs with a top 15 club, we'd get a low (near the end) first round pick and a sandwich pick between rounds one and two.")

If you are Rizzo, or any other GM with a guy likely to be ranked as a Type A Free Agent, you are looking at this as the baseline for any deal. Any deal must be better than this.

And since that is the case, that's why these deals *do* often result in trades for blue-chip prospects, because anyone making an offer would have to offer better than the equivalent of two drafts picks.

Posted by: Sunderland | July 19, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Sunderland, not to be even pickier, but only part of what you wrote was accurate, you also said, and it was what you lead with: "The worst Rizzo can do with Dunn is 2 early draft picks."

That's just not accurate. He could very well do worse by holding on to him.

But, I very much agree with you that thse deals happen -- deals in which real talent moves for a free agent to be talent -- because history tells us that they do happen, which makes sense because clubs knocking on a Division title or hoping to take it all have to make tough choices and trade from strength to fill weaknesses to make the big run (and teams who are out of it and who are risking a stud guy walking away with only a potential and risky way down the road return are eager to pull the trigger too).

The Nats should walk away from this trade deadline with several decent young players, we'll see what they do.

Posted by: dfh21 | July 19, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

If the Nats had signed several big money free agents over the years, now would be the time to turn most of them into prospects. If the Nats had traded for some valueable players who make big league salaries, now would be the time to tun those into prospects too.

Currently the Nats resemble, in some ways, a big league club. Dunn helps. Do you trade your only $20 million agent free agent? It makes it harder when the Nats only have one.

The Nats have never traded for a player who makes more than average MLB salary in all the years under Lerner. Willingham comes closest. Do you trade your only guy in that respect too?

It makes it tougher to trade your "only guys" when you have done so little to build a winner. It would be better to convince players and fans the club is committed to winning by holding onto these guys.

Then in the next off-season, add guys to the Nats who could be turned into prospects.

Posted by: EdDC | July 19, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

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