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The team the Nationals just can't beat

Morning roundup

Since the start of the 2008 season, the Nationals are 13-34 against the Florida Marlins. That's a .277 pace that, extrapolated over a 162-game season, would produce a 45-117 record. In other words, when facing the Marlins, the Nationals are nearly as bad as the 2003 Tigers. For the Nationals, it was a welcomed sight as the Marlins boarded their team buses around 1 a.m. Friday morning for the drive to the airport.

It's not something that makes a whole lot of sense. The 2008-10 Marlins have all been fine teams, producing a record that, in the aggregate, is 20 games over .500. Of course, they are 21 games over .500 against the Nationals alone in that span.

Aside from one of the best players in the game, shortstop Hanley Ramirez, what the Marlins have in abundance is power pitching -- which was on display in this series despite the fact the Nationals missed Josh Johnson, a Cy Young candidate and the Marlins' unquestioned ace.

"We've played them good," Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman said following the three-game sweep at the hands of the Marlins, which concluded Thursday night. "Here lately, they've gotten the best of us. They're playing good baseball. They're playing good. They're pitching good. [Anibal] Sanchez in the first game of this series was outstanding."

Another thing the Marlins have: Mike Stanton. One gets the feeling the Nationals are going to get tired of this kid pretty quickly. Just 20 years old, Stanton made his big league debut the same night as Stephen Strasburg (June 8) and already has 12 homers. In the series that ended Thursday night, Stanton went 8 for 12 with three doubles, two home runs and six RBI.

Oh, yeah. The Nationals have six more games against the Marlins this season.

FROM THE POST
It was a long, frustrating night for the Nationals.

Boz says the Nats need to get Bryce Harper and Adam Dunn signed.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 4, Columbus 3 (13 inn.): Seth Bynum hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 13th to cap a 3-for-5 night. Atahualpa Severino, Adam Carr and Josh Wilkie combined for six scoreless innings of relief.

Hudson Valley 8, Vermont 2: Catcher David Freitas went 1 for 4 with an RBI and gunned down a would-be base-stealer. Mark Herrera struck out four batters in 2 1/3 innings of relief, allowing only two hits and one earned run.

Hagerstown 7, Greensboro 2: J.P. Ramirez singled, doubled and drove in a run. Luis Garcia pitched three scoreless innings of relief, striking out three.

Harrisburg and Binghamton were rained out in Harrisburg.

Potomac and Lynchburg were also rained out in Woodbridge.

By Dave Sheinin  |  August 13, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
 
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Next: Nationals vs. Diamondbacks: Tonight's lineups

Comments

"We've played them good," Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman said following the three-game sweep at the hands of the Marlins, which concluded Thursday night. "Here lately, they've gotten the best of us. They're playing good baseball. They're playing good. They're pitching good. [Anibal] Sanchez in the first game of this series was outstanding."

Can they please just fire this sad sack manager already?

Posted by: FeelWood | August 13, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

LOL, yeah, a 3 game series in which you get swept and outscored 22-7... that's a drubbing, just call it what it is, Mr. Riggleman... you got outplayed on all accounts, and it is happening more and more as the season goes on...

Sigh, just 2 months ago, this seemed like a really interesting season unfolding with a decent record and some young guns coming up and contributing to the team... now it is back to thinking about potential off season moves, player development that still seems far off, and the sunny hope of spring training...

Go Nats!

Posted by: Ghost7 | August 13, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Just a terrible night. Desmond can't move a runner over, Livo can't bunt, gave up when Dunn, he of the many bases loaded HRs, Ks with the bases loaded. I truly believe this team does not have the confidence or will to win; if they win great, if they don't well you can't win them all.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 13, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang- I tried to stay up, I really did. At the very least, I wanted to hear what the Silver Fox or Dibble had to say.....but they've been strangely muted in their criticisms of the Nats of late - and really, what could they say that they haven't said over and over and over again? What could WE say that we haven't said over and over...you all get the point. No Mike Stanton on this team-we have the 25 y.o. Desmond. No Gabby Sanchez...or even Chris Coughlin (I think a flash in the pan, but still the reigning NL ROY.)
And Oh, BTW-since our 20-15 start, at 29-51 we're playing .362 ball.....works out to 59 wins over a full season. I know all the games count, so that's not exactly fair but.....the things that were looking up starting last year with Nyjer and Riggs, our decent finish, our exciting start....now it's back to beat-downs by the Fish, "..if only's...", "...when we..." and the perennial favorites - (regarding the opposing pitcher)"he pitched real good" and (regarding our team) "we played real hard, we didn't give up". Well-I'm not "giving up" on 'em, not exactly....but I'm not expecting much from them, either. Other than the same old excuses and results. And yes, Slow or not, I blame this almost entirely on the Lerners. Ahh well..at least we have our own team to be disappointed with.
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | August 13, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

God Bless You that you can go to work and follow this team every night. I went to the first two games of the series. It was like watching the opening series of 2007 when the Marlins scored 35 runs in 3 games. At least we stole the game of that series with an insane rally in the 9th finished by Dimitri Young. Oh yeah that series the temp was in the 30's!

Posted by: paulfischetti | August 13, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

The Florida Marlins are everything the Washington Nationals are NOT! They just don't seem to miss a beat. For the life of me you have to wonder what StanK, Rizzo and Gentlemen Jim are thinking when they watch a good fundamental baseball team paired up against their rag-tag bunch of maybe's, if only's, someday's and maybe never's!

As a STH and die-hard going into year 7 this is absolutely frustrating.

Of course it doesn't matter now, tonight is the start of another over-hyped, over played and over-the-hill season for the Synder Group!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | August 13, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Saw all three Fl. games. Hate to say it but it looks like the Nats are "mailing it in" for the season.

Posted by: boyn4884 | August 13, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I've been criticized before for saying this - but I'll say it again.

Riggles is a career .440 manager. (statistically that's probably something like .420-.460) That's what the Nats hired. That's what we've got.

Posted by: charley42 | August 13, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Not to defend Riggs, but there hasn't been a manager yet who could win when his players get shut out.

Still, it really annoys me that Nats pitchers can't seem to get a bunt down. The Nats have to be the least successful sacrifice bunting team in the majors. When you combine that with the legitimate argument that bunting isn't worth it anyway, you have a team that has trouble scoring. The buck on that, course, stops with Riggs.

Posted by: nats24 | August 13, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I agree boyn. Some of the guys are competing but some are just killing time until their fantasy football leagues start.

I am horrified by the lack of a vocal leader on the team. Never see any emotion in the dugout, never see anyone getting on anyone else. I guess you are raised in a culture of losing and eventually you think it is OK to lose nightly. I was hoping Pudge would be the leader we need but, sadly, we still play horrid fundemental baseball with a 'aw shucks' attitude.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 13, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

In Boz's aricle today he writes that his sources indicate Dunn is looking for $40 million over 3 years. If that's true, why the heck haven't the Nats already locked him up?!

Posted by: slopitchtom | August 13, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

slop:

The answer to your question is that Papa Lerner is saying that he doesn't want to pay Dunn any more than Clark Griffith paid Roy Sievers (adjusted for inflation) after Sievers was traded from Balto. InTed Lerner's mind, Sievers was a better catch.

I'm just making this up, but I will stand by it until proven wrong.

In any event, I don't see Dunn's being signed and staying here. The well has been poisoned.

Posted by: JohnRDC | August 13, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

As much as I shudder when I look at our offense sometimes, I shudder to think what will happen to this team with a Kennedy/Morse platoon at first base.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 13, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

"In Boz's aricle today he writes that his sources indicate Dunn is looking for $40 million over 3 years. If that's true, why the heck haven't the Nats already locked him up?!"

If what Boswell says is true, then they probably already have locked him up, at least in principle. They're just waiting until after the Harper signing for Dunn to sign on the dotted line and have the announcement. It's like holding a good news card for the fans in your back pocket. Why pull it out and play it when it will be immediately overshadowed by the good news of the Harper signing? They can save it until later in the season, like when they start marketing season plans for next year, and play it then. Meanwhile, notice how all the media and fan angst over Dunn and the trade deadline has completely obscured the Harper talks, allowing that whole scenario to play out in private, unlike last year's Strasburg drama? I tell you, that Rizzo is crazy with the way he handles these deals. Crazy like a fox.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 13, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

No, Riggs, you didn't play good. You played badly and you looked like you were mailing it in. What a disappointing season.

And if Boz is right about what Dunn is asking, it would really be a slap in the face to the fan base if they do not sign him. But we are used to being insulted, aren't we? Jeez.

Posted by: NatsFly | August 13, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

You may have been disappointed by Carpenter and Dibble last night, zendo, but you wouldn't have been disappointed had you been listening to Charlie and Dave.

Their rough riders/roughriders discussion was hilarious.

Posted by: JohninMpls | August 13, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Defense is the only parts of these two teams that are comparable. They're just as bad as the Nats. After that, the comparisons end quite abruptly.

Posted by: pstotts15 | August 13, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I would never wish that a ballplayer get hurt, but couldn't Hanley Ramirez at least take a rest once in a while? Guy just owns us. See him first thing, the whole night is ruined. Also, last night was the milepost for me -- from now on, we're on a marathon in the desert till the end of the season. Geesh. Also, Randy St. Claire sure got smarter when he moved to Florida.

Posted by: markfromark | August 13, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

FeelWood / Ghost7 - with you.
About the only thing I noticed in AK's posting was ""We've played them good," Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman said following the three-game sweep at the hands of the Marlins, which concluded Thursday night."

He's really got to go and the end of the season. Keeping him is pointless (but inexpensive!).

As for Boz saying Dunn wants 3 / $40, I have no faith that this is valid. It might be, it might not be. But just cause Boz said it (and inferred it came from a Nats player such as Willingham or Zimmerman) don't make it so.

Even though, Rizzo keep things quiet and gets his work done. I just have faith that he's doing what needs to get done, and we won't hear anything until and unless he's signed.

And that's really the way it should be.

Cole is the only I'll be excited about. Getting him signed would make this a really good offseason.

Posted by: Sunderland | August 13, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Cole would be awesome, as would Solis. If we sign those two and Harper - who I cannot imagine not signing - then Rizz gets to take a day off!

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 13, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Amen, Dave. On to the next series. Ugh!!

Posted by: PattyinSJ | August 13, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

If indeed we sign Dunn, Harper, Cole & Solis, add in the Ramos acquisition, toss in Maya, well heck, that's an excellent offseason. A day off for Rizzo?
Not until he releases Riggleman.

Posted by: Sunderland | August 13, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Can't believe that I sat through a 2 hour rain delay just to watch the Nats come out and go through the motions. Agree with one of the last comments that defense (or lack thereof) is the only thing that is similar about these two teams. I've always been impressed with the Marlins ability to score runs against us, especially this year. They come to the plate intending to attack. The Nats on the other hand have this philosophy of being patient, working the count and trying to make the pitcher have a higher pitch count. I think that philosophy tends to lull your offense to sleep a lot. Good offenses don't get hot for 3 or 4 games and then go into hibernation for 2 or 3 series. It seems like we've had a lot of that this year. At what point does Rick Eckstein start to take some heat for the failed hitting approach of this team and their inability to produce runs on a consistent basis?

Posted by: willypops | August 13, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Whew, boy, things are getting ugly around here. Losing streaks make that happen. And I don't mind a little mindless ranting, but...

We're back to blaming the manager and coaches, again, huh? That would be the third manager, second pitching coach and I'm not sure how many hitting coaches who "need to go." Did you ever think it might not be them, that it might be the guys they're using?

For example, the Nats got totally outpitched in this series by the Marlins, who must have one hell of a pitching coach...why, it's Randy St. Claire. Hmm, where have I heard that name before?

Then, there's this: "I've always been impressed with the Marlins ability to score runs against us, especially this year. They come to the plate intending to attack." Well, if I were batting against our guys I'd be aggressive, too. They're soft-tossing, pitch to contact guys. Olsen threw 56 pitches the other night and the batters swung and missed twice. Twice.

"The Nats on the other hand have this philosophy of being patient, working the count and trying to make the pitcher have a higher pitch count." Um, so do the Yankees and Red Sox.

BTW, I'm no member of the Riggleman/McCatty/Eckstein fan club. I think they're all competent pros but nothing special, with the possible exception of Eckstein, who may be very good. It comes down to talent. The Nats don't have enough. They have more than last year and they've got some more coming along but it's not enough. Until they get enough talent, it doesn't matter very much who manages or coaches them.

Finally, I've read comments like "great disappointment" or "lost season" and I have to ask, what were your honest expectations for this team this year? I thought they'd win 73 games with a slow start and a good finish as Strasburg and other pitchers came on board. The pitchers are just getting here now and with a little uptick, they're going to win around 73 games. Am I thrilled with that? Not really.

But if they finish around that mark, with Strasburg, J. Zimm, Maya and some others in the rotation, Storen, Clippard, Burnett and others in the pen, R. Zimm, Dunn and Willingham all coming back next year, some progress with some other OFers and IFers, Harper signed and a few prospects on the brink, I could deal with stuff like this week.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 13, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

baltova: If they do all the things in your last paragraph, I too could deal with this week. So far they haven't. So far they have not even signed Dunn. So far they are just playing bad baseball late in the season, and I find that disappointing. Why? Because I am a season ticket holder for a major league baseball team playing AAAA ball, that's why.

But if they do well in the off season, I will have my hopes renewed and ditto the tickets. (I think a little crystal bat would go nicely with the little crystal glove and ball on my mantle.) If they botch the Dunn and Harper signings, I would see that as an indication the the owners simply will not invest in a major league team and would most likely not keep the ST. I hope that does not happen, because I really do enjoy baseball and want to give the Lerners my money.

Posted by: NatsFly | August 13, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

>"In Boz's aricle today he writes that his sources indicate Dunn is looking for $40 million over 3 years. If that's true, why the heck haven't the Nats already locked him up?!"

If what Boswell says is true, then they probably already have locked him up, at least in principle. They're just waiting until after the Harper signing for Dunn to sign on the dotted line and have the announcement. It's like holding a good news card for the fans in your back pocket.

Posted by: FeelWood

It hasn't happened because whatever Boswell thinks the price is now will go up exponentially when he becomes A FREE AGENT at the end of the season. Rizzo ain't go no say-so. It's up to Dunn. Dunn's just being PC until he can have Eddie Einhorn throw him 60 or 80 million at the end of the season. And you're also assuming that Bryce Harper is gonna sign too. He might, but like the man says, he's only 17 and he's got all day. So he waits until he's 18 to sign. Big deal. He can go chase chicks for a year and pick up another 10 lbs. in muscle and go back in the draft, and in a couple of years, nobody but Nats fans will remember that the Nats had even drafted him.

Posted by: Brue | August 13, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

The real solution is contraction. The Marlins, despite having a better record and a significantly larger stadium, have attracted 300,000 fewer fans than the Nationals this year.

Someone explain to my how it is they still deserve to have a team at all?

Of course, the one nice thing about them not having any fans is that Nationals Park doesn't get overrun with Marlins fans when the Nats play them, unlike some teams that must not be named.

Posted by: zaph | August 13, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Brue, if Harper doesn't sign, I'll buy you a smoothie.

His ego alone will require he signs. If he sits out a year, and gets drafted again next year, that's the same as being drafted as a high school senior. He's not starting his career any earlier than anyone else. That's not what an SI-hyped superstar does. He signs.

Now, Dunn...not so sure I believe that "3 years for $40 million" story. He may sign here, but he'll get more than that, I think.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 13, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Looking at how bad the starting pitching is ... when only Livan Hernandez can be relied upon for 7 innings of + quality starts consistently?

Hate to rain on everyone's parade but I actually believe signing Solis, Cole, and Ray may be more important than Dunn and Harper. Looking at this season and the progression of the starting pitching? One could almost think Mike Rizzo might have been better off drafting a pitcher first. Let's hope Yunieski Maya turns out to be that 1st round pick pitcher because he is sorely needed. Let's also hope Zimmermann can prove he will become a consistent starter as well.

And there is always next June and the Nats are within nine games of the O's and Pirates now I think? Perhaps they will catch them?

Posted by: periculum | August 13, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"Played them good" Talk about your alternate reality! How can you expect a team to play well when the manager thinks getting blown out three days in a row is "Played them good". First, he doesn't speak English. But more importantly, if that's the standard they aspire to, oh oh.

Its pretty scary how weak the line-up becomes as soon as you take any of the big three out of it. I wold have traded Dunn at the trade deadline for the right deal, but now I say give him a blank cheque and move on. You have more holes than Swiss cheese in this line-up, and it gives off about the same odour.

Posted by: lesatcsc | August 13, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

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