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Game 137 discussion thread: Nationals at Pirates

Jim Riggleman will return to the dugout today after serving his two-game suspension for his role in the brawl with the Marlins on Wednesday, sending John McLaren back to his usual role as bench coach. I jokingly asked Riggleman about how McLaren did in his two days as the manager. "He stunk!" Riggleman said. After he stopped laughing, Riggleman actually used the occasion to promote his coaches.

"John's just a good manager, period," Riggleman said. "He's like a lot of guys here. Pat Listach, John, Tim Foli, there's some good managerial candidates here. If somebody retires somewhere or something and there's openings, I'd like to see these guys get some consideration."

Third base coach Pat Listach will begin serving his two-game suspension today, and hitting coach Rick Eckstein will coach third base.

I'm not sure how to go about proving this, but I've got to imagine the 2-17 record combined record of Charlie Morton and Jason Marquis has got to be one of the worst ever in a head-to-head matchup. If anyone can figure how to find something definitive on Baseball-Reference, please leave it in the comments section. Because I tried and failed.

Marquis was actually quite good in his last start, allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings to earn the first win of his Nationals tenure. If he can win again today, the Nationals will secure their first win of a road series since mid-May.

Talk about the game right here.

By Adam Kilgore  |  September 5, 2010; 1:15 PM ET
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Next: Wilson Ramos is already a prime target


Nicely done -- get'm on, get'm over, get'm in. Aggressive running by Morgan pays off.

Posted by: Natmeister | September 5, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

A little 'small-ball' to start the game by the Nationals, but it worked.

Posted by: BinM | September 5, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

You know i thought we were bad(and sometimes we are) but the Pirates, man now that's bad, forty-five count em forty-five games under .500 nice ballpark though, and before baseball came back to DC i used to love the Pirates and the Giants.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 5, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I think Carpenter said 18 straight losing seasons for the Pirates. Man I hope that is not the Nats future.

Posted by: marathoner | September 5, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Nyjer Morgan - worst baseball player I've ever seen.

Posted by: swanni | September 5, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Sigh...another Njger baserunning blunder. Seems like every time you see signs of hope he regresses.

Posted by: Natmeister | September 5, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

If Nyjer is the worst you've ever seen, you ain't seen too many. But your point is well taken. Cut him loose and good riddance to bad rubbish.

Posted by: Natstoyou | September 5, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

If he gets thrown out, he gets thrown out. But they really do need to do something about those overslides.

Posted by: marathoner | September 5, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

AARGH - Nyjer 'body-surfs' the bag for yet another CS, only for Desmond to rip the next pitch to LC for a stand-up double. Dammit!

Posted by: BinM | September 5, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Well that cost us a run now i'm sure the Nyjer detractors will be out in full force,Riggs has got to tell Nyjer you've got to learn to slide the right way. Great play by Zimm on McCutcheon.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 5, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

No, really, name one player who has cost his team more runs, more outs than Nyjer. Not even Nook Logan, my former worst player I've ever seen

Posted by: swanni | September 5, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

How many times has he stolen a base this year but overslides? And then the batter immediately gets a hit. Seems like he never learns.

Thought it was interesting last week in Florida when RZim or somebody said he was "still learning the game." Huh? This guy is 29 or 30 years old. You would think he would know the game already, and not have to learn it while in the Major Leagues.

Posted by: LeeM9308 | September 5, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Nyjer Morgan - worst baseball player I've ever seen.
Posted by: swanni | September 5, 2010 2:30 PM
swanni, I know you saw Nook Logan at least once, and you can still say that?

Posted by: BinM | September 5, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

*Yawn* Another Web Gems play by Zimmerman.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 5, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

@dargreg - didn't want to disappoint you. You really need to step back from your blind Nyjer defense to see the big picture, especially in letting the youngsters play. This guy is hurting the team - that is the bottom line.

Dunn goes yard for number 34.

Posted by: LeeM9308 | September 5, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

This OppoBoppo sponsored by Alex Ovechkin: "Taking a Bite Out of Pittsburgh One Blast at a Time"

Posted by: souldrummer | September 5, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

BinM - I referenced Nook :)

Posted by: swanni | September 5, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Another Dunn failure with RISP. Get rid of him. :)

Posted by: marathoner | September 5, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

swanni: And so you did, if somewhat after the fact. I'm not happy with him either, but I still think he's a better overall player than Logan. At least Morgan hasn't been caught taking 'roids.

Posted by: BinM | September 5, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Swanni; Nyjer is hardly the worst player in MLB and it's obvious you know nothing about the game, just because he overslides the base is hardly a reason to get rid of himt and neither are what some of you term as his many transgressions reason enough, and No i don't have blind loyalty to Nyjer, how many errors has Desmond made at ss? more than some infields in the majors,how many runners has Dunn left in scoring position and how many games has that cost us? do you want to see these two players gone? i doubt it. The Nationals horrific starting pitching and poor defense has cost this team more win's than Nyjer could have ever cost this team. Some of you who post on NJ are the perfect example of fair weather fans.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 5, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Nyjer made a great catch, no one notices? Going to try to go to the game tomorrrow. If I can make it, I will have my Nyjer jersey on. Go Nats!! Love the wins!!

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 5, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Nat _Lady: No!!! no one noticed Nyjers excellent fielding gem they're too busy bashing him every chance they get they were probably sending the wardrobe police to Pittsburgh when his uniform jersey came undone after he slid into second base wonder how many games he'll get suspended for that offense.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 5, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse


"Fair weather fans"? "Fair weather fans"? Of the Nats? If we ever had any fair weather fans, I imagine they jumped ship in the 2nd half of the 2005 season.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | September 5, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Unless there is a major collapse, next year's outfield should be Willingham, Bernadina and Morse...Get rid of Nyjer or use him for defensive purposes...His bat is a liability for a centerfielder..

I'm sure the 3 I named can each hit 25 homers if playing a complete season..with Zim at third and Dunn returning we should be in great shape offensively...add better pitching next year and better SS & Second base play things look promising..

Posted by: pentagon40 | September 5, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Nyjer will be the starting CF next year. Money in the bank. And he deserves it. I'm with Dargregmag - this board has been waaay too tough on Nyjer. Worst ever? Come on, that does hyperbole a bad name. He's still an elite defender. Accept it. And if he reverts to his mean as a batter, he's well above average and will score 100 runs with Zim and Dunn behind him. As Rizzo said, he's the guy for another year. I trust in Rizzo. Still looks like he got a steal in Morgan and Burnett for Thrilledge and the gas can.

Posted by: cdstej | September 5, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

This season, Nyjer Morgan has been an elite pretender, nit defender.

Posted by: swanni | September 5, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to point out to cd and darg that the Nats kept saying positive things about Elijah Dukes.

Right up to the point when they cut him.

darg, you need to bring it down a notch. It's great that you have favorite players, but you have to stay in touch with reality. Nyjer has been a fun personality and a mediocre player for the past year. If he left right now, he wouldn't be missed very much. I loved the Tony Plush stuff but on the field, he hasn't filled his role. You only get to stay around for very long when that happens.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 5, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Meant to say "you don't get to stay around for very long when that happens."

Posted by: baltova1 | September 5, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Good point, baltova -- Riggleman even went to the funeral of Dukes' Dad during the off-season. But then suddenly he was out of here.

Posted by: swanni | September 5, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

I find it noteworthy that Nyjer just signed to play winter ball in the Dominician. Wonder who's idea that was.

Posted by: swanni | September 5, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

without Stras this team will be lucky to be respectable next year. Nyjer is fun to watch, scrappy and, yes, full of fight. We need him on the team for 2011, and he will have every chance to prove whether he will be on the team in 2012.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 5, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

without Stras this team will be lucky to be respectable next year. Nyjer is fun to watch, scrappy and, yes, full of fight. We need him on the team for 2011, and he will have every chance to prove whether he will be on the team in 2012.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 5, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Even without Stras, am I the only one who expects them to do whatever is necessary to win in 2011? As a season ticket holder, I will not accept anything less.

Posted by: swanni | September 5, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Even without Stras, am I the only one who expects them to do whatever is necessary to win in 2011? As a season ticket holder, I will not accept anything less.

Posted by: swanni


I'd love to think they'd try, swanni, but the Nats' management track record's needle has been stuck in a groove, and we've been hearing the same chorus over and over, skips and all. We need someone to pull a Fonz and elbow the jukebox, bigtime. I can only hope, with reserved expectations.

Posted by: NatAlbert | September 5, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Dukes, it sounds like he's having troubles again. I went to the Newark Bears' website, and he's not shown on their roster, even though they signed him July 1. Going to the Atlantic League's website, it shows:

August 4: "...placed on Inactive list"
August 10: "...reinstated to active list"
August 20: "...placed on suspended list"

Doesn't say why he was "inactive" or why he's been suspended.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 5, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Maybe I'm a dewy-eyed optimist, but even without Strasburg, there seem to be a lot of good things falling into place with the pitching staff.

Zimmermann seems to be back 100%
Lannan seems to be back 100%
Marquis still looks like he has a little rust on him, but he's definitely looking a lot better.
Maya - well, we'll find out Tuesday
Livo looks a little shaky in a few of his recent starts, but it's not like he's lost a few feet off his fastball.

The starting pitching next year could be quite respectable.

As for the rest of the lineup:
OF of Hammer, Bernie, and Morse looks like it could be pretty decent. No great shakes defensively, but respectable at the plate.

Infield looks like two good/great gloves in Zimm and Espy, fair-to-poor in Dunn and Desmond. But all of them can hit (I include Espy - he impressed the hell out of me against Pittsburgh).

Catching - we'll have to see how Ramos works out under Pudge's tutelage.

Bullpen looks pretty good, though we don't have a lights-out stopper in there yet.

All in all, I think this team can do quite well - certainly .500, maybe better if everyone stays healthy.

One thing I think I've noticed lately is the batters seem to be a little more willing to hit the ball where it's pitched. Desmond in particular frustrated the hell out of me most of this season with his go-for-the-fences swing at everything. But this weekend, he looked like he was hitting to the opposite field some. If this isn't just a passing fancy on his part, he could be stepping up a level at the plate next year.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 5, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Yes, gilbertbp, those are all good signs. There are plenty of positives that are easy to miss on a losing team. I notice you left Nyjer out of your outfield, though.

Posted by: jdsp2000 | September 5, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Swanni&Batlova1: Oh now we're comparing Elijah and Nyjer? some of you are beginning to make me wonder about you and your social opinions. Nyjer Morgan never threatened his wife with bodily harm, according to Mike Rizzo Nyjer has been a model citizen I don't know what either one of you expect out of him,like i said in an earlier post Ian Desmond has made more errors at ss than some infields combined! i don't hear anybody screaming about releasing him. I've watched baseballl for damn near fifty years and Nyjers the best CF'er this team has had since they moved to DC and the fact that he'll play winter ball speaks volumes about his dedication if i were Nyjer i'd take the winter off and get ready for spring training the person who should be thinking about winter ball is Ian Desmond. I am going to defend Nyjer because he plays with passion which is more than i can say for some of the players on this team and i'm willing to say right here and now that the supporters of Nyjer Morgan and myself will be vindicated in the long run.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 5, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

most people are being way to hard on Morgan but I do believe the Nats would be better if Bernadina's bat continues develop to have him as the everyday centerfielder with Morgan as a super pinch runner/ defensive replacement with Bernie moving to a corner spot late in games.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | September 5, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

dargregmag: "...Nyjers the best CF'er this team has had since they moved to DC..."

Setting the bar pretty high there, aren't you dargramps?

Here's's list of every Nats player who has "CF" next to his name, going back to the creation (first player played the most games at CF that year):

Brad Wlikerson
Preston Wilson
Endy Chavez

Marlon Byrd (when he sucked)
Ryan Church
Nook Logan
Alex Escobar
Brandon Watson

Nook Logan
Ryan Langerhans

Lasting Milledge

Willie Harris
Nyjer Morgan
Justin Maxwell
Lastings Milledge

Not exactly Mickey Mantle out there.

Seriously, dargregmag, if you had to pick either Bernadina or Morgan to play CF and be a bat in your lineup, would you really pick Nyjer? I don't go for all the hating on him here either, but right now, he's the fourth-best outfielder on this club. I don't disagree that he plays with passion and fire, but passion and fire don't help if you don't play well. And as far as passion and fire go, that guy over at third base is the most low-key guy on the team, and he's the best third baseman in baseball.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 5, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Didn't see the game - how did Ramos look?

Posted by: SCNatsFan | September 5, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

gilbertbp: Right now i'd pick Bernie's bat and Nyjer's glove but seriously i defend Nyjer because it seems everyone has basically thrown the kid overboard and for no reason, look he hasn't ruined the Nat's season but you'd never know it by some of the comments.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 5, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

@SCFan - solid, unspectacular game. Didn't notice him much, which is good, considering the Nats defensive liabilities this year. Had a solid single up the middle and scored a run. Pirates didn't run on him or Marquis, but they were behind most of the game. Wil Nieves is prolly the bullpen catcher the rest of the year.

Posted by: LeeM9308 | September 5, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

@dargreg- "for no reason"? Really? Have you watched the Nats games this year? Please don't cite Desmond's fielding problems as a defense for Nyjer's umpteen bonehead/idiotic/foolish plays so far this year.

If you were a true Nats fan, you would understand the significance of earlier comparisons of Nyjer's play this year to that of the (formerly) incomparable Nook Logan. That's NOT a compliment. Exactly the opposite.

Posted by: LeeM9308 | September 5, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

dargregmag: "Right now i'd pick Bernie's bat and Nyjer's glove..."

Whose arm would you take?

Okay, let's get toolsy. Five tools, right? Hit, hit for power, run, throw, catch.

Hitting and hitting for power - no contest, Bernie wins. Nyjer's somewhat better than Justin Maxwell, who's playing himself back into the minors in a hurry.

Run - advantage Morgan, as long as you don't count getting picked off/thrown out/failing to slide under catchers' tags.

Throw - again, no contest. Bernie has a gun, Nyjer has a pea shooter. And we won't discuss Nyjer's apparent hatred of cutoff men.

Catch - Nyjer can run down balls that other CFs wouldn't get to. But Bernie's no slouch in the outfield either. You might give Morgan a small advantage there, but not much.

Getting past tools: Who helps his team more off the field, in the clubhouse? Nyjer's class clown bit has its appeal, certainly. But when you get suspended, you're hurting the team, you're reducing your manager's options. And when your manager has to bench you because he's afraid you're going to get retaliated against, you're hurting the team.

Sorry - I was a big fan of Nyjer's last year. I remember one Wired Wednesday broadcast, after Elijah Dukes had gotten picked off, the next inning, you heard Nyjer explaining to Dukes what to watch for so you could tell if the pitcher was going to throw over to first. I thought, "What was a great guy to have on our side."

What ever happened to that guy?

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 5, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

At least Dargregmag is not alone. Glad to see at least a few others unwilling to give up on nyjer. and comparing him to Elijah, really? I expected more level-headed discussion from some of you whose posts I've read all year. Nyjer is LIKED in the clubhouse. He's a good guy.

I mean really, his "boneheaded" decisions consist almost entirely of getting picked off or missing throws to the cutoff man (and one inexcusable glove throw on the non-HR HR). But no way he's given away more runs than some of the starters. NO way. So why are people here throwing the initials D.F.A. around so freely? It makes no sense.

And let's be clear -- I love hammer and Morse too -- but put them in the OF corners around Berny, and that defense is WEAK. Morse is a great guy and a fine hitter, but he has poor instincts in right. Mis-plays balls in the corner all the time. Don't get me wrong, I like him. But if defense is going to be a centerpiece of this team, you can't have both corner OF'ers below par. Nyjer has range in Center that few in the league have.

Sadly, I'm afraid Morse's future IS in the lineup, but at 1B if they let Dunn go.

Posted by: cdstej | September 5, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Alex Escobar was the best the Nats have had in CF, IF only the guy could have stayed healthy. What a sad story for such a talented player. Wilky left his game in Montreal.

dargreg, Nyger has been much better than what the Nats have had in CF before him, and he made great play today, but I think if you analyzed it, his getting thrown out and getting picked off as many times as he has, it might have been better if he never tried to steal.

That, of course, dismisses any disruptive effect he has on the pitcher (today's first inning being an example), but it's harder to quantify and might also be a negative for the batter.

As AK has pointed out, his luck has been bad on batted balls. If he can revert to career norm on OBP, it's probably worth sticking with him for a while next year at least.

At this point, you honestly have to wonder if Willy Taveras wouldn't have put up the same numbers playing regularly.

Posted by: nats24 | September 6, 2010 12:15 AM | Report abuse

I hope the Mets used up all their runs in Chicago. If Jzinn -- have we decided on this as his NJ name? -- can shut them down, it will definitely raise my level of optimism (and that's a low bar, indeed)

A modest goal: If the Nats can go 14-11, they could avoid 90 losses, if my remedial math is right. That would nice.

Posted by: nats24 | September 6, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Okaaaay, so I see I have to spell things out more carefully for some of you...

My point in referencing Elijah Dukes was this: if the Nats were willing to publicly support him, even though he had tons of serious issues and wasn't playing well, right up until they released him, it means they would likely also publicly support a guy like Morgan, whose problems apparently only occur on the field. I wasn't really comparing them and, darg, you can take your concerns about my "social opinions" and put them where the sun don't shine. You appear to be the one who wants to express his social opinions here, not anybody else.

Nyjer Morgan in '09 was the best CF'er the Nats have ever had. Nyjer Morgan in '10 wasn't, not even close. As for his boneheaded plays, they don't "consist almost entirely of getting picked off or missing throws to the cutoff man (and one inexcusable glove throw on the non-HR HR)."

His base-stealing technique is poor; how many times does he overslide the bag? He does have great range and gets to the ball well, but he misjudged about five balls this year where he missed them by feet, not inches, feet. I've never seen that happen as much as it did this year to him.

Most importantly, he's become a lousy leadoff man, which is his main role. His OPB stinks, one of the five or six worst among regular leadoff men. As has been pointed out many times, he swings at lots of bad pitches, especially high ones that result in lazy fly balls. He needs to avoid those pitches and try to hit the ball on the ground, where he can use his speed, but he doesn't do it. Throw in his failures on the basepaths and he's not doing either of the things you want a leadoff man to do.

Finally, it looks to me like the pressure has gotten to him. He was asked to play a key role on a team in the big leagues for the first time and he's not handling it well. Since everybody likes to drag up Desmond as a comparison, Desmond struggled badly at the start, and has since reduced his error rate by making better decisions and he's ripping the ball now. That's probably the main reason I soured on the guy (and I loved him last year). He was given a chance, didn't handle it well and it's brought out he worst in him.

Hard to believe we spend this much time talking about him but my suspicion is that won't continue for much more than a few months. So let's enjoy the squabble while we can.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 6, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

For all of us, I hope Nyjer puts together a couple of MLB quality yet unspectacular games, so that our attention gets focused elsewhere. I've got my opinions (like we all do) but I'd really rather move on for a while.

(But can I get away with saying that I think the Nyjer / Dukes comparisons are just silly. All baltova was saying was that what Rizzo says publicly about a player / manager doesn't necessarily mean anything. Rizzo said positive things about Dukes, and then released him. Somehow this got ratcheted up to comparing Nyjer and Dukes??? Let's not escalate stuff where there's no reason.)

No games today (seems odd for MLB to schedule nothing for Labor Day, huh?).

Tuesday, we get to watch Maya, there's a lot of hope and potential bundled up in that dude.

Likely Tuesday we'll also see Espinosa again. He's been impressive. Hard to see that we'll not have him as a regular in 2011.

Ramos should play Wednesday, day game following the night game. My goodness, I hope Riggleman does not give that game to Nieves.

I would hope Rizzo and Riggleman talk about Dunn and our contract situation. We ought to be playing Morse at 1B some since it's sure starting to think like that's one of the likely options for 2011 (not that this excites me).

Posted by: Sunderland | September 6, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

@Sunderland: "No games today"? The Nats begin a home stand at Nationals Park versus the NY Mess this afternoon at 1:05. I'll be there.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | September 6, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

My bad for glancing at yahoo sports and trusting what I saw.

Looked at it again now, and it still says no games today.

And yet I knew better.

Posted by: Sunderland | September 6, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

All baltova was saying was that what Rizzo says publicly about a player / manager doesn't necessarily mean anything.


Exactly. Thanks for summarizing so cleanly, Sunderland.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 6, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

BTW, two interesting tidbits to check out:

One, this little item in a "dots and dashes" baseball column in the Chicago Tribune:

"Apparently the firing of announcer Rob Dibble from the Nationals broadcast team goes deeper than his criticism of Stephen Strasburg not "sucking up" his elbow pain. It was just the final straw in a long line of what executives saw as an excessive mouth. …"

That's it, no details. Might be something that warrants more detailed coverage, perhaps in the hometown paper of the team...

Second, not to continue to dwell on Nyjer, but ran an interesting column about the unwritten rules that Nyjer "broke" that led up to the brawl.

The author wrote a book on this subject and concluded that Nyjer basically got what was coming to him. You can agree with them or not but it gives you an idea of the thinking that was going on out there among the other players and managers...

Posted by: baltova1 | September 6, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

batlova1: They're a lot of "unwritten rules" in baseball, and over time some remain some don't all i'm saying is the Marlin's acted like Nyjer purposley set out to injure the Marlin's catcher which i don't buy and then when Nyjer decided to try and make a one sided game competitive by trying to inspire his ballclub the Marlins tried to punish him by throwing at him and when he decided to stand up for himself all hell broke loose.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 6, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

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