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The Drew Storen-Tyler Clippard debate and how Ryan Zimmerman made it moot

Morning roundup

Over the weekend, Manager Jim Riggleman declared the eighth inning would be split in some fashion between Tyler Clippard, once the full-time eighth-inning reliever, and Drew Storen. On Tuesday night, he chose neither.

Instead, Liván Hernández came out for the eighth inning having thrown 104 pitches in hazy heat, the kind of air that makes you think you have to chew it before you can breathe it. He lasted two batters; both Adrian Gonzáez and Scott Hairston poked singles. After 111 pitches, Hernández was finished.

After the game, Riggleman admitted he had made a mistake. If he could do it again, he said, he would have removed Hernández for either Clippard or Storen at the beginning of the inning.

As it was, with two on and none out, Riggleman chose Clippard. For reasons to be explained, that may not have been wise. Clippard believed he had shed his recent funk, when he allowed seven earned runs in four appearances, by throwing 1 1/3 flawless innings Sunday. He had not. Clippard yielded two more singles and a sacrifice fly, and when he left the game the Padres had slashed their deficit to 5-4.

Clippard did not allow any of his own earned runs, but he continued a season-long trend of yielding others. As dominant as Clippard has been for most of the year, he has allowed 14 of 31 inherited runners to score, 45 percent. (The National League average is 32 percent.) For comparison's sake, Storen has allowed 3 of 20 inherited runners to score.

Riggleman talked about how matchups would determine when he uses Clippard or Storen. Clippard has a history of success against left-handed batters, and the batters coming up and pinch-hitters available for the Padres made Riggleman choose Clippard. Situation, though, could be just as important of a factor. Clippard has pitched his worst with runners on, and Storen has been stingy.

Of course, Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman made it all moot, for one night, with their ninth-inning heroics. Zimmerman has gone 6 for 9 with three homers, a double and a walk since the all-star teams were announced Sunday, reinforcing his status as an all-star. "We all now he's an all-star," Michael Morse said.

Zimmerman also dashed his recent slump. From June 9 to July 3, a 22-game span, he hit .202 with a .543 OPS. Suddenly, after his two-game outburst, he's now triple-slashing .293/.383/.553 for the year. Zimmerman's slumps are shorter than Dan Brown's chapters.

"I've been working hard the last week or so," Zimmerman said. "I've been struggling for the last three weeks, however many weeks it is. It's frustrating. Nobody wants to do that. But I've been working with Rick [Eckstein] a little bit. It's kind of starting to get back to where I want to be. It's good."

FROM THE POST

Ryan Zimmerman proved why he's a worthy all-star and Ian Desmond proved why he remains so promising in a 6-5 walk-off victory over the first-place San Diego Padres.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse 5, Buffalo 4: Jesse English allowed one hit and no walks in three scoreless innings. Jason Botts went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk.

Harrisburg 3, Richmond 2: Ross Detwiler allowed two runs on eight hits and no walks in four innings, striking out two. Rafael Martin pitched two scoreless innings with one walk and one strikeout. Danny Espinosa went 2 for 4 with a triple and a home run.

Wilmington 2, Potomac 0: Evan Bronson allowed two runs on nine hits and a walk in seven innings. Michael Burgess went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .251.

West Virginia 7, Hagerstown 3: Hagerstown did not have a hit until the ninth inning. Justin Bloxom went 1 for 4 with a home run.

Vermont 3, Williamsport 2 (15 innings) : David Freitas went 2 for 4 with a walk. Matt Swyneberg allowed no runs on four hits and a walk in six innings, striking out seven. He lowered his ERA to 0.41.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Ryan Zimmerman remains the face of the franchise, Ben Goessling writes. Mark Zuckerman concurs.

The Nationals should trade Adam Dunn, Bill Ladson argues, using the 2004 White Sox as an example.

Capitol Punishment dug up an epic picture of Ivan Rodriguez in his backyard.

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 7, 2010; 12:07 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Game 84 discussion thread: Nationals vs. Padres
Next: Video: Matt Capps on all-star news

Comments

Look, it's very simple: Storen seems to be (much) more effective with men on base. Clippard is better with the bases empty. Not sure why Riggleman doesn't understand that. When Clippard trotted in from the bullpen, I turned to my seatmate and said, "We're screwed--I've seen this movie too many times before." Sure enough, Clip melted down again. Storen would've been out of the inning and preserved Livo's win.

I used to be a big Riggleman fan, but he's really lost me over the past few weeks. His tactical managing is completely bewildering. Thank God for Zimmerman, because this could have been another disaster, traceable directly to the guy making decisions in the dugout.

Posted by: Eyewitness1 | July 7, 2010 2:10 AM | Report abuse

Like Ike and Tina Turner the Nats never do nothin' nice and easy, but this year's club is fun to watch. Zimmerman's heroics speak for themselves but how about Capps' ninth inning (especially in getting Gonzalez out with a man on), Burnett's holding down the fort during the Padres rally in the eighth and the perfectly executed Willingham-Desmond-Rodriguez relay that kept the Pads from taking the lead and kept Heath Bell in the pen. Finally..maybe I am missing the summaries of the games when he doesn't do well, but it sure seems as though Harrisburg's Danny Espinosa gets two hits every game. It is nice to have a young middle infielder who seems as though he has the potential to be a very good Major Leaguer.

Posted by: VaNat | July 7, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

LOL, I hit the link to Bill Ladson's inbox, and this is what he says the Nats should do at the top of their lineup:

"Here what I would do: I would let Harris lead off and play second base for a week and bat Desmond second. I think Zimmerman, Dunn and Josh Willingham would drive in a lot of runs if Harris and Desmond would be in the top of the order. I would bat Morgan seventh or eighth in the order until he started hitting again."

Does the guy pay attention to stats (or, for that matter, watch any games) at all... How would Harris (.252 on-base percentage) and Desmond (.295 on-base percentage) help the middle of the order knock in more runs, getting on base at a clip well under 30 percent... even the much maligned Mr. Morgan is better then that! Basically, his plan would be to take a bad situation and make it worse... he cracks me up...

And, he HATES Adam Dunn... who, admittedly is not a slick fielding 1st baseman (duh)... but you can tell he has worked hard to improve both his defense and his offensive game, too... he looks like a more complete hitter these days... and is well established as one of the best power hitters in all of MLB...

Again, he cracks me up... his theory to improve the team is to get rid of the clean-up hitter, put a 30-something bench player with an OBP of about .250 in the leadoff hole, with a raw rookie with a .295 OBP in the number 2 whole... genius!

Posted by: Ghost7 | July 7, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

And, just so I don't spit all hate, the one thing I do agree with Ladson on is putting Morgan down to the bottom of the order until he gets hot (or, sitting him on the bench at least part time until he hits more)...

But, how about keeping Guzman up at the top of the order, he has been ok (.338 OBP) and moving Bernadina up to 2nd as well (.349 OBP)...

Either let Morgan work out of his season long funk at the bottom of the order where he hurts the team less... or, put him into a 3-way platoon with Bernadina and Morse sharing the CF/RF at bats...

Anyway... this arguement feels like deja vu...

Posted by: Ghost7 | July 7, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

@Eyewitness - I'm pretty much with you.

@VaNat, Espinosa (age 23) is hitting .252 at Harrisburg AA,hitting an even .300 over his last 10.
He's a switch hitter, hitting much better from the right (.338 on 77 AB's) than from the left (.220 on 209 AB's).

I'm curious what his fielding is like.
Anyone?

@Ghost

Posted by: Sunderland | July 7, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I have a question for the more Baseball people on this here blog, I was able to find out that the Nationals deal with the AAA-Skychiefs of Syracuse is done at the end of this season. Any one know if the Nationals are planing to change AAA clubs again?

Personally I think the team should look into moving their AAA club to Richmond, which is vacant right now, and look to make that home long term. If they could work with that city to build a new ball park for a few years from now, they desperately need one down there as the current one is falling apart like RFK.

It just strikes me that it would be cool for the team in the nations capital to have its AAA and AA clubs both in state capitals.

Posted by: alex35332 | July 7, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

More from the farm:

Eastern League has 12 teams, including our AA Harrisburg.

Harrisburg ranks (hitting):
Runs - 11th
Hits - 11th
AVG - 11th
SLG - 10th
K's - 10th
BB's - 12th (fewest)

Harrisburg ranks (pitching):
ERA - 3rd
WHIP - 2nd
Runs - 4th
Earned Runs - 3rd
Unearned Runs Allowed - 8th
K's - 6th
BB's - 1st (fewest)

Win / Loss, 39 - 46, 10th of 12.

Most of our prospects are in AA or lower.
Syracuse AAA has only 3 guys on their roster born in 1985 or later (roughly 3 guys age 25 or less).

Not that any of this is news.
I was just curious, thought I'd share.

Posted by: Sunderland | July 7, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Good idea about the AAA club, but Richmond has the Flying Squirrels, the San Francisco Giants' AA ball club. Detwiler and Harisburg played them last night.

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 7, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

When Yogi Berra said, 'you can observe a lot in baseball just by watching', he clearly did not have Jim Riggleman in mind. I started scratching my head when he put he put Bernadina in for Morse WITHOUT doing a double-switch for the pitcher. You simply put Clippard in for Morse and Bernadina in for Livan at that spot. No inherited baserunners for Clip to worry about and no need to pinch-hit for the pitcher next inning.

Sounds like Riggleman figured that out, too, AFTER the game!

Posted by: Section314 | July 7, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Good idea about the AAA club, but Richmond has the Flying Squirrels, the San Francisco Giants' AA ball club. Detwiler and Harisburg played them last night.

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 7, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I thought that was an Independent League team? That stinks. Why are the Giants putting a AA club all the way in VA? Makes no sense to me.

Posted by: alex35332 | July 7, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Once again Rob Dibble said it best last night.

Paraphrasing Dibbs;
Why in the world does Tyler Clipperd continue to throw breaking balls when his best pitch is a 96mph fast ball? Your only out there for one inning, throw your best pitch and forget about everything else.

After the 8th inning debacle, both Sun Shine Bob and Dibbs both go postal on the Nats.

SunShine says, "this sloppy play has just got to stop, if it doesn't then the second half of the season is going to be a disaster"

Dibbs says, "Rizzo's just can't stand around and watch this, if not this year next year they have to start looking better up the middle and make some decisions about shortstop, second base and center field" Amen Rob!

The Nats infielders have made 32 errors, thats more then the Padres have made as a team the whole season. Might have something to do with the reason why the Pads are looking for win #50.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | July 7, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

OK, here's an "out of left field, just-wondering" question: Is there a consensus on Chris Marrero? Is he a prospect or a suspect? Big-time #1 draft choice who is taking a long time getting to the bigs. I don't know the answer; I thought maybe some of you did. Maybe sunderland after the earlier post/rundown on Harrisburg?

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 7, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks the fix to the Nats problems is playing Harris more is delusional or is drinking the cough syrup with JaMarcus Russell.

Clip, well, he was at his best when guys were chasing the high heat; without that he's getting pounded. Maybe he sees the writing on the wall with Storen, maybe his arm is tired, maybe the hitters have figured out the funky delivery - in any case, he's not to be trusted with guys on base.

Riggs, well, his moves looked sweet when we were winning but he looks like a chump when we are losing. Guess that's the same for all managers.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | July 7, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

fpcsteve:
Marrero is still relatively young (22, iirc). He lost a year to a broken leg w/Potomac in 2008, and has been a bat in search of a position, imo. The guys with the real goods on him would probably be SueDinem at NationalsProspects, or Brian Oliver at Nationals Farm Authority.

Posted by: BinM | July 7, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

There are no AA teams out west, all of them are in the east and south. The major league teams don't control where the minor league teams are located, they just pick the ones they want to partner with when the affiliations are renewed every two years. So the Nats could switch AA teams from Harrisburg to Richmond if the Giants decide to leave Richmond and pick another available team.

Posted by: Cosmo06 | July 7, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I've watched Desmond closely and his lack of judgment at SS is astounding at times. Coupled with the fact that Guzman is a mediocre second baseman, this team has probably lost 10 games this season that it should have won. I felt very bad for Livo last night who pitched great and then watched as the bullpen and bad fielding resulted in a no decision. There are teams out there with good field, no hit SS's like Caesar Izturis in Baltimore who would trade a player for a bag of balls.

Having a good fielding SS can make up for a lot of defensive deficiencies. I'd be more than willing to give up a .250 hitting shortstop with occasional power for a guy who made all of the routine plays at SS any day of the week. I'm surprised Rizzo hasn't made a move and insisted that Desmond go back to AAA for more seasoning. The Nats should be at least at .500 which is a shame.

Posted by: wizfan89 | July 7, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Clippard is a complete enigma. To me he is a return to last years' Nats. I heard an interview earlier this year with Tyler Walker, after Tyler Clippard had blown a two run lead in the eighth. He said he talked with Clippard and let him know that he did his job, that it was the bullpen's job to allow the team to go into the 9th at least tied and with a chance to win in the 9th. That mindset flabbergasted me, but it does seem to be the mantra lately. The bullpen will inherit runners on base and they always seem to score. Three run leads have been blown way too frequently. I really think someone needs to have a sit-down with the bullpen and lay the law down, or they need to find five starters that can pitch 8 innings every night. When I see Clippard or Walker enter a game, I know it's a 50-50 shot the game will be tied at the end of the inning.

And, Morgan should 8th. They won't want to walk him because he's dangerous on the basepaths, so they'll pitch to him. If he gets on, and the pitcher is at bat, there's no harm in him trying to steal a base or two.

Posted by: AsstGM | July 7, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Dibble has made everyone of us aware of Tyler Clippard and his "beloved" changeup. Every hitter in the league is also aware of it. They wait for it. It's an automatic hit every time he throws it. Explain to me how Riggleman and McCatty don't see this. Dumb people never succeed and man, are they dumb. Dumb cannot be fixed, only replaced.

Posted by: lp_lodestar | July 7, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I guess AK means the relay throw when he mentions Desmond's heroics in the 9th. So Ian is a hero for executing a relatively routine throw (which came up a bit short, by the way. Nice tag by Pudge)? How about the terrible throw that shouldn't have been made that cost the Nats the lead? (error no. 21, if you're keeping score.)

OK, he's starting to hit again. But his play in the field has got to improve.

I saw Espinosa a couple of times last week. He has a rocket arm and made all the plays, nothing too spectacular, but solid. He's raised his BA a bit in the last weeks.

Posted by: nats24 | July 7, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

And how about the absurdity of the Hold and Blown Save stats? Clipp actually got a Hold last night and poor Burnett got a Blown Save, even though his line was 2/3 IP, no hits, no runs, no walks. Crazy!

Posted by: nats24 | July 7, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Section314,

Good point on Riggleman's botching of the double switch. Funny how a guy who normally likes to show off and do the double switch even when there may be no advantage blew this opportunity. Maybe he deliberately forwent (can that be correct?) the switch to allow the Great Willie Harris to pinch hit, with the usual lamentable results.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | July 7, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Willie has that stomping walk back to the dugout down pat. He looked like a professional staring at strike three as our pinch hitter.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | July 7, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Willie has that stomping walk back to the dugout down pat. He looked like a professional staring at strike three as our pinch hitter.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | July 7, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I have always thought the Nats farm teams should be closer. When I heard that E. Dukes will be coming to town to play the Waldorf team, I thought the Waldorf location would be the perfect AAA spot. Granted it hold 6,000 fans less but, it is not controlled by the O's and could be retrofitted to hold more. If the Nats want more fans then give us players we can go see and fall in love with. Potomac is perfect, Harrisburg is fine, but we need more.

Posted by: hansenjo | July 7, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

The reason I asked about Marrero: Dunn trade talk. If Marrero finishes the year at AA Harrisburg and spends 2011 at AAA Syracuse, his landing date in DC is 2012 at the earliest. If you trade Dunn (the talk here and in some other venues)who plays 1B in the meantime? If it turns out to be Morse (by default), that would look an awful lot like a cobbled-together plan for going forward. Just wondering...

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 7, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

The reason I asked about Marrero: Dunn trade talk. If Marrero finishes the year at AA Harrisburg and spends 2011 at AAA Syracuse, his landing date in DC is 2012 at the earliest. If you trade Dunn (the talk here and in some other venues)who plays 1B in the meantime? If it turns out to be Morse (by default), that would look an awful lot like a cobbled-together plan for going forward. Just wondering...

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 7, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

sorry for the double post...

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 7, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

If the Nats trade Dunn, they don't have to wait for Marrero -- they can just go pluck a new first baseman from the 40HR/100RBI tree, where apparently such players are free for the picking. At least, I assume that's the case, because otherwise it would be COMPLETELY IDIOTIC to trade away a player like Dunn, since you'd just need to go out and find someone exactly like him as a replacement.

Posted by: joebleux | July 7, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

By some standards, Syracuse is pretty close to Washington. Anyone recall when the Senators triple-A team was the Hawaii Islanders?

Slumping players were sometimes heckled with calls of "Give him a grass skirt!"

Posted by: KenNat | July 7, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

well said, joebleux - I like it - my point in part is that we don't have a solution in the system - trading Dunn doesn't make us better, and if we aren't getting better...

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 7, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I thought the Waldorf location would be the perfect AAA spot.

Posted by: hansenjo | July 7, 2010 10:53 AM

Really? Don't AAA leagues want their teams in decent sized markets like Indianapolis, Columbus and Charlotte? No offense to Southern Maryland, but I think Waldorf is a backwater compared to those cities in the International League. Then again, the Braves are in Gwinnett now, which would would be similar to Waldorf.

If anything, maybe the Nats could have worked with Loudon on an affiliate there (they're building for an Independent League club).

Posted by: Kev29 | July 7, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Ladson on trading Dunn:
"Considering the Nationals are having problems on defense, I would say they would have to make a move. While Dunn has improved at first base, I think Washington can do better. Granted, Dunn is better hitter than I thought. But when I look at the defense at shortstop, second and first base, something must change. Defense is the No. 1 reason the Nationals have a record under .500 entering Tuesday's action."

Ladson on whether the Nats will be buyers or sellers:
"If the Nationals were sellers, they would trade a lot of players, which will not happen. However, I see Rizzo making moves to improve the club like he did last year. To me, the Nationals need to get another bat."

Allow me to paraphrase these two notions:
"We need to trade Dunn, um, for another bat, ok?"

Posted by: Sunderland | July 7, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

At least, I assume that's the case, because otherwise it would be COMPLETELY IDIOTIC to trade away a player like Dunn, since you'd just need to go out and find someone exactly like him as a replacement.

Posted by: joebleux | July 7, 2010 11:02 AM

You could trade him then try to re-sign him in free agency (though he'd be pretty pissed with the organization... unless he's wearing a ring). Or trade him and look at him and other 1B free agents or trade possibilities.

Jorge Cantu will be a free agent this winter - he's younger and a better fielder. Certainly doesn't have Dunnkey's power or mass appeal though.

Just playing devil's advocate here.

Posted by: Kev29 | July 7, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Missed this one, but it sounds like Desmond gets the Comeback Player of the Game award.

Richmond, etc: Keep in mind that the Braves own their AAA team, which is unusual, and why they were able to move it, rather than switch to another one.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 7, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

If you're not going to get Adrian Gonzalez over the winter (and if they let Dunn go, they'd better), why bother?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 7, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

kev29: nice try, but I'm not buying it.

For the past few years, the Nats have been a mass of question marks, and the answer to most of the questions has been "no" ("Is Nook Logan our center fielder? Can Nick Johnson stay healthy? Can Austin Kearns produce east of the Appalachians? Is Felipe Lopez not a jackass? Will any Nat's starting pitcher ever recover from an injury?"), or at best, the answer's been "eh" ("Is Nyjer Morgan a long term answer at lead off and center field?").

The Nats cannot afford, at this point, to reintroduce question marks at the few positions where we finally have long term answers (1B, 3B, LF).

I hope they're just working out the details of Dunn's contract; probably haggling over the number of years.

Posted by: joebleux | July 7, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

joebleux, nicely put.
Reminds of Jack Johnson's lyric:

It seems to me that maybe
It pretty much always means no

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpBPsa3jr24

Posted by: Sunderland | July 7, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

The Nats cannot afford, at this point, to reintroduce question marks at the few positions where we finally have long term answers (1B, 3B, LF).

Posted by: joebleux | July 7, 2010 12:16 PM

I guess it really all hinges on whether or not someone (well, only Mike Rizzo, actually) believes that Adam Dunn is a long term answer (defensively) at first base.

Posted by: Kev29 | July 7, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Dunn and Willingham are not long-term answers. They are now on the other side of 30 - you keep thinking this team is close to competing...it is not. The time for this team will be 2013 and beyond. Believe it or not they need to get younger and build depth in the system. If there's no good options this year at 1B then you trade or sign a FA in the off-season, but one that fits the plan. If the Nats really thought Dunn was part of their future he would have been signed by now.

Posted by: bendersx6 | July 7, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

But if you make a trade or sign a FA to play 1B, you are working on a medium to long-term solution. What do you do with Marrero then (assuming he is ready in 2012)? Who wants to trade for an unproven prospect? An earlier post made this good point: let Dunn go and you are looking for someone like him. I have only seen the Nats in person once and on TV a couple of times(living in Nebraska). Is Dunn really that bad defensively? Not arguing, just asking...

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 7, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

There is a lot of debate on this blog -- mostly in good spirits -- so let's embrace it when there seems to be a universal agreement, which in this case is that Ladson is useful only to the extent he can break news that he is fed in his role as an mlb.com employee. When it comes to opinions, he appears to be incapable of articulating any with consistency or logical support. I won't say he's an idiot as others have -- I've never engaged him -- but he comes across as not very sharp, either from a baseball or writing perspective. In short, I don't think Adam's linking to Ladson's pieces -- unless it is a hard news piece -- adds any more value than simply reading the comment boards. Ladson, like the rest of us, has opinions. The fact that he has a team-sponsored website on which to air them does not make them worth anything.

Posted by: flotsam3 | July 7, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

A. 30 isn't old.
2. They aren't "an old 30/31" like, say, Nick Johnson. Neither has a history of injury, or hard use. They should both be good for several more years.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 7, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Well, everything's relative. Certainly Dunn and Willingham are less long-term than Zim, but there's no reason they can't continue to produce for another four or five years.

The Nats aren't close to completing? Well, they're a hell of a lot more competitve than they were last year, and that has a lot to do with having Dunn/JWilly in place all season.

Should that Nats just pretend that they're the Royals/Pirates/As and continue to trade away their best players for prospects, in the hopes that there will still be a fan base in 2013?

Yes, it stinks that the farm system is still suffering from MLB's stewardship, but you can't keep demolishing the team trying to fix that. At some point (like NOW), you have to take the pieces that are working and build around them.

Posted by: joebleux | July 7, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

The Nats are way past the point where they can sacrifice intermediate success for long term success. They have been feeding us that rebuilding BS for 4 years, and it won't work anymore. They have the core, at 1B, 2B and LF (and some promising young players) around which they need to build NOW, not sell that core for yet another will'o wisp never to be caught future, and bargain basement retread present.

For crying out loud, Messrs. Learner, I am sick of buying ST to watch crappy baseball! This team has a decent start on improvement this year, enough to give the fans some heart. DO NOT sell it, and us, out by refusing to pay Dunn and Willingham what they are worth. You are a profitable MLB franchise. Act like it. Spend some freakin money already!

Posted by: NatsFly | July 7, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

To the AAA club posters, there has to be a league for them to play in. The existing leagues are not going to add teams and leave others without an affiliation. So you have to move an existing team, like Richmond to Gwinnett. The Nat's don't own the teams.

To the Clippard issue, there is nothing wrong with him other than a slump. He can and must still work his changeup in though he may be using it a little more lately. I though Dibble took this a little too far last night, not unusual for him when he get's down on the team for blowing a lead.

I doubt Clip's a sub 2.00 ERA guy and I doubt Storen will finish up there either. I think both will contribute to wins in the 2nd half.

Posted by: sjt1455 | July 7, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

What they said, and another point that's been made before: The farm is still pretty well un-stocked, nowhere near where you'd feel good about it, but if the trades aren't going to be any more productive than the drafts have been (lots of inventory, but not many MLB players so far, or even top prospects, and gaping holes at several positions, org-wide), they might as well keep Dunn and Willingham.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 7, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, granted Dunn and the Hammer are not young... but, they certainly can be productive for the next 3 years or so... seems like something to build around in the near term... I would be disappointed to see the heart of this order broken up unless the return was high level prospects that were within a year of being major league ready... at least right now the team can be entertaining... I would rather see the team continue to fill in the puzzle pieces via the draft and free agency rather then blowing up the core of the current team just to create organizational depth... ugh... neither option is 100% appealing!

Posted by: Ghost7 | July 7, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Should that Nats just pretend that they're the Royals/Pirates/As and continue to trade away their best players for prospects, in the hopes that there will still be a fan base in 2013?

Posted by: joebleux | July 7, 2010 12:53 PM

There's an in-between the contenders and the Pirates. Trading one good player does not make you small market no-hopers. The Reds traded Dunn a few years ago and how are they doing now? And after getting little to pan out from that deal with the D-backs. Of course they had good prospects like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce on the rise at the time.

No easy answers when it comes to making moves like this. It's not as simple as 'trade Dunn = bad move' and 'keep Dunn = set at first for 5 years'. Rizzo is going to make a bunch of tough decisions between now and the time this team is ready to contend. How to deal with Dunn, Hammer, Desmond, the stable of young and injured pitchers, left and center field, etc... Long way to go, but they also have to stop wasting seasons.

Posted by: Kev29 | July 7, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

If someone were offering a good side of 30, starting pitcher, who has shown that he could be our no 2 guy for Dunn, then I would listen. But I don't think trading for a bunch of prospects is worth it.

Posted by: alex35332 | July 7, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Is Zim throwing away every ball hit to him since Dunn's big target moved to first? No -- Zim's throws have improved dramatically -- it may be psychological but he likes that big target. How many 35-40 HR 100 RBI sure things in the next 3 years do the Nats have in the system or would they get for Dunn --ZERO, so why trade him. I might think about it for another J Zimm type pitcher ready now -- like Dan Hudson in ChiSox sytem, but with Peavy hurt, he'll be called up to the Sox (and I still wouldn't). Don't trade Dunn or Willingham for 2-3 low probability of success in 3-4 years out prospects -- that's all you can get nowadays except for a top established SP-- such moves are now usually salary dumps -- not a concern for either Dunn or Willingham.

Posted by: grclarkdc1 | July 7, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad Riggleman admitted that he made a mistake in the 8th inning. I just wish he understood what his mistake was.

He says it was a mistake letting Livan start the 8th. His real mistake was not letting Livan finish the 8th.

Hernandez gave-up a single to Adrian Gonzaez -- one of the best hitters in baseball. He then induced Scott Hairston into a perfect double-play ground ball. Unfortunately, the ball found a hole between Zimmerman and Desmond. 10-feet either way and it would have been 2-out, nobody on.

There was absolutely no indication Livan was having difficulty. 111 pitches is not a problem for a rubber-armed pitcher who does not rely on his arm strength to be successful.

This is just another example of over-managing by a Major League skipper who thinks more about what they are going to say about him in the paper than what his eyes should be telling him in the moment.

I will agree that -- if Riggleman was concerned about Livan's pitch-count -- it was a mistake letting him start the 8th. Because Clippard, Storen, Capps, and virtually every other relief pitcher in the Nat's bullpen has shown time-after-time this season that they are not nearly as effective when they do not start an inning. I do not know why this is, but it is a fact that should be obvious to anyone who has watched this team on a daily basis.

So Riggleman screwed-up the 8th every possible way he could be letting Livan start, by by bringing-in Clippard in the middle of an inning, and by not letting Livan finish.

Yes, I'm glad Riggleman is taking responsibility for all this. But I am starting to ask why it is these types of mistakes keep happening -- on and off the field -- with no seeming improvement?

Kevin Olson
Manassas, VA

Posted by: noslok | July 7, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

I just skimmed thru all the post and very little talk about our rookie reliever Drew Storen. We seem to be taking for granted that we might have a rare young gem of a Major League pitcher. Gosh, expressing negatives toward individual players is no fun, but frankly as much as I like Adam Dunn--watching him since he's been a Nat, I always feel he isn't in it for Washington DC to win. I know that's a terrible and almost for sure incorrect opinion. Offensively and especially defensively he is very non-chalant quite often and generally gets a pass from observers unlike Niger Morgan. Josh Willingham is having his best year as a Nat. He seems to have brought into being a Washington DC player. He's more consistently focused at the plate, with or without men on base, which puts pressure on the opposing pitcher whereas he doesn't have the upper hand. That's one thing I've always liked about C. Guzman. Our Nats are not focused defensively in the clutch, they routinely make bonehead decisions that they learned how to handle as kids.

Posted by: CTaylor42 | July 7, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

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