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Game 155 discussion thread: Nationals vs. Braves

If the Braves finish their season out of the playoffs, they might be able to blame their performance against the Nationals. The Braves have gone 7-9 against the Nats this season, while the Phillies have gone 10-5. The difference against the Nationals alone makes up 3 1/2 games of the seven-game spread between first-place Philadelphia and second-place Atlanta.

The Braves enter today in second place in the wild-card race as well after the Padres beat the Reds, 4-3, with a late, two-run rally last night. The Nationals enter today on their best roll of the season, having won four straight games. Their streak means they only need to go 4-4 to reach 70 wins. They also get Nyjer Morgan back in center field and batting leadoff.

Yunesky Maya will try to earn his first major league win. Maya has nibbled and worked plenty of deep counts, but Manager Jim Riggleman said that owes to his competitiveness and never "giving in" to batters. Derek Lowe goes for the Braves. In his last start against the Nats, he struck out a career-high 12 hitters.

Talk about the game right here.

By Adam Kilgore  | September 25, 2010; 12:50 PM ET
 
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Comments

Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon.

Posted by: periculum | September 25, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Um, thanks for that, peri...

Posted by: baltova1 | September 25, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Dunn had a second half of a double play that was EXACTLY like the Zimmerman cave man commercial! The runner stopped dead in the dirt 2 feet from 1st, and Dunn stepped up to tag him out. Priceless!

Posted by: NatsFly | September 25, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

And there's the signature big inning. Crap.

Posted by: BinM | September 25, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

As I figured Riggleman had to put the weak hitters (read veterans) in the lineup again today ... no energy ... albeit Kennedy doing okay in the field as he did two nights ago. The kids have more energy ... especially Espinosa! Put him at third base ... what have you got to lose? Its not like Riggleman didn't try that with Guzman and Harris ... I suspect Espinosa would fare far better than those two even on their best sub-30 days.

And now Maya doesn't make it through five.

Please don't renew Riggleman. Foli, Knorr, someone of these guys have to be a better manager for this team.

Posted by: periculum | September 25, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure how it's the manager's fault that one of the "kids" loses a ball in the sun, forgets to cover second and can't handle a tough grounder with spin, but if it makes you feel better to blame Riggleman, go right ahead.

The real concern I have today is why Maya has one big inning that ruins his starts (and for what's it worth, peri, he went 5 1/3). I thought he made good use of his fastball, even if it's not as fast as expected. He just lacks consistency and, without a big fastball, they're nailing 'em. He pitches like Livan does when he's off his game. He'll be an interesting project for spring training.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 25, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

"I'm not sure how it's the manager's fault that one of the "kids" loses a ball in the sun, forgets to cover second and can't handle a tough grounder with spin, but if it makes you feel better to blame Riggleman, go right ahead."

Yes, and playing Guzman in right field, shortstop, second base, third base ... ype the manager? Right? Its why they lead the majors in errors. Why is Espinosa out? Just his glove has been enough to energize this team even with Dunn and Zimmerman out? Is that respecting the game? What about the team's Atlanta is competing against for the wild card. Riggleman: incompetent: FAIL. Okay?

Posted by: periculum | September 25, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

All of Nats pitching is an interesting project in ST 2011. ALL. Not just one or the other. ALL.

its why Mike Rizzo is almost forced to trade for a top-of-the-rotation ace this offseason if he wants to keep this team from regressing.

Posted by: periculum | September 25, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

baltova, peric just has a preference for young players, and seems to mistrust anyone over the age of 30.

Maya has been a bit of a dissapointment to date - He nibbles more than I'd hoped he would, and can lose the strike zone completely for 1-2 batters. I hope he can get things straightened out in Viera next year, otherwise he's just another bottom-of-the-rotation pitcher, imo.

Posted by: BinM | September 25, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"peric just has a preference for young players, and seems to mistrust anyone over the age of 30."

Its a difference between night-and-day at least with the Nats over 30 types? Dunn is an exception. Willingham to an extent.Livo. Pujols yes?

But Willie Harris claiming he should start at second, in right field? Nieves? Guzman? Mench? Marquis? Even Kennedy. These guys look terrible against even the worst flaws of a Desmond and Espinosa? At least in my case it makes me wonder if the team wouldn't be better off with Lombardozzi next spring?

Posted by: periculum | September 25, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

"baltova, peric just has a preference for young players, and seems to mistrust anyone over the age of 30."

Good point, which might explain why he ignored the point I raised about Desmond and went off on Riggleman playing Guzman all over the place (which has been a big problem for the past two months when Guzman's been playing for the Rangers).

Agree about Maya. He's not showing the command he needs to succeed, at least not yet.

BTW, peri, remember when you thought Maya would be a #2 starter? Always helps to actually watch the guy play first before we make judgements.

One thing we can probably agree on: that bench sucks, especially the righthanded hitters. Mench and Maxwell? Yeesh.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 25, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

peric, the Nationals lead the league in errors largely because thay're living through Desmond's rookie year at SS(34E), as well as down years from Kennedy(9E), Morgan(5E), and your example Guzman(9E).

I'd bust Riggleman for stuffing Harris into the lineup more than he probably should have, and waiting longer than he should have with Morse, but overall the lemonade has been potable.

Posted by: BinM | September 25, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

BTW, to back up BinM, even though Desmond's had a tough day today, I think he has improved tremendously as the year's gone on and should be considered a success story. One of the reasons for that is Riggleman's patience with him in the field and at the plate. So, keep that in mind when we bust on Riggleman for other things (like all of those !@#$%%-ing double switches).

But I ask a question I've asked several times before: how many games do you think this team SHOULD have won? I predicted 73 and they're not going to make that, but they might have, if Lannan hadn't slumped and Marquis and Strasburg hadn't gotten hurt. So I'm mildly disappointed. I'd like to know what others expected.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 25, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

peric, if Lombardozzi performs exceeding well in Viera, and somehow manages to break north with the team in 2011, I'd love it, but that has about a 5% chance of happening. It's much more likely that Lombardozzi starts the year in either HAR or SYR, with a possible Sept. promotion/purchase.

A MI combo of Espinosa-Lombardozzi would be outstanding defensively, and Desmond could be patrolling CF to boot, but that's for 2012, imo.

Posted by: BinM | September 25, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

balt,

I expected 72-76 wins from this team. I think they are who most thought they would be. (And as you say, that's without their few "sure things" coming through early in the season.)

Who's exceeded expectations on this team? Livo? Desmond? Morse? (The bullpen?)

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | September 25, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

baltova, I'd liked to have seen 75 wins (+16) this year as well, but will settle for 70 (+11), given the injuries to the starting staff (Strasburg, Marquis, Atilano) & the non-recovery by Wang.

If peric has been right about one thing this year, it might be the need for another #1-#2 starting pitcher (but probably not the players he's enamoured with [Lee-Grienke]).

Should the team re-sign Dunn, some pieces in the minors (Marrero, Moore) become expendable, and could possibly be used to help pry a top-flight SP loose from another team (SF, TOR, AZ, SD, BOS, LAA all jump to mind).

Posted by: BinM | September 25, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

The problem with guys like Willie Harris, Nieves, Guzman, Mench, Marquis and Kennedy isn't their age, it's their talent level. They're not that good. And playing 21-year old guys with 20 some guys in AA ball is a recipe for disaster.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 25, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

BinM, I agree with the trade idea, if they resign Dunn. I also wonder if they would be able to sign Brandon Webb, who supposedly wants pretty big money for a guy coming off surgery.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 25, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

baltova1,

Webb looks too much like another Wang. They already have one of those. Now, they could decided to cut ties with Wang and take the same approach with Webb? To what end? Can he come back? And if he does will he still be effective?

No, they need A REAL TALENT that is under 30 and in his prime like Greinke. Two if they can get them. Certainly the payroll can handle it even with Dunn and Willingham. The real problem is they would have to make a painful trade or two involving prospects to get one or both. Its what to watch for in the offseason IMHO.

Injured cast-offs from other teams seems to work maybe 5% of the time. Kind of like the luck of the draw with Livo this year.

And yeah they need a new manager who doesn't care about respecting veterans, respecting the game as much as he does about competition to win jobs ... competition to win as many games for the hometown fans.

Posted by: periculum | September 25, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

baltova, Webb scares me more than Wang did last year. He's Ben Sheets (OAK) redux; Looking for big money with a questionable arm.

Posted by: BinM | September 25, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

baltova1,

I agree with your estimate. If Riggleman hadn't made Guzman the starting utility man, if he had played Morse more and Harris less. If they had brought Espinosa up sooner rather than later ... (who is at fault for this? I'm sure Riggleman (you know I'm right about this) complained to Rizzo about his veterans not getting enough PA's and starts ... that he "would lose them".

With Tim Foli instead of Giggleman 73 wins and perhaps more.

Posted by: periculum | September 25, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

"An MI combo of Espinosa-Lombardozzi would be outstanding defensively, and Desmond could be patrolling CF to boot, but that's for 2012, imo."

Agree with all except for one point. The painful part of losing prospects to that all important trade for a staring pitcher. I would pick Desmond. Keep Kennedy and work on getting Lombardozzi, Hague and Kobernus closer to the majors. Getting the right top of the rotation starter/ace is all important. I know you think Grienke is a "pipe dream". But you have to wonder if perhaps Desmond + Norris + JZimmnn or Detwiler would do it? Perhaps Clippard? Now is the time as Stan K said.

Now you look forward to 2012 with Strasburg and Solis in the half pipe ready to stand up in the curl. You come out in 2012 with a starting rotation that might actually dominate ... while hopefully keeping the bullpen up to current standards?

Posted by: periculum | September 25, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

On Yuniesky Maya I agree with Natsjack (FIL reporter):

NatsJack in Florida said...
Anonymous 3:35..... Yunesky Maya is pitching the equivalent of the last days of Spring Training after a 16 month layoff....Hold off on your opinion until April of 2011.

Posted by: periculum | September 25, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Just some SP names that I'd think would be 'interesting' for next year...

Pelfrey (RH, NYM), I. Kennedy (RH, AZ), Billingsley (RH, LAD), Cain (RH, SF), Beckett (RH, BOS), Garza (RH, TB), Morrow (RH, TOR) & Romero (LH, TOR), Weaver (RH, LAA), & Lewis (RH, TEX).

The big kahuna on the FA market this year looks to be Cliff Lee (LH, TEX); He'll likely be looking for a 4-5 year deal, at between $17-$21M/year. At 32 y.o., and having small injury problems the last two years, he's not worth it, imo. However, the Yankees could drop Vasquez & Pettitte, swallow the high-end on Lee & still save salary.

Posted by: BinM | September 25, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

BinM,

You forgot to add Greinke who, according to MLBTR may be available from KC. They are a team interesting in trimming payroll since they have determined they won't be fielding a winner in 2011.

Posted by: periculum | September 25, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Well, I guess I won't go to anymore games, as I seem to be a jinx (she said self-centeredly...)

Posted by: skidge | September 25, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Greinke fits the mold of what I think they need: a front line starter who could come off the payroll in a couple of years when Strasburg and others are ready (of course, in his case, you can also keep him, since he'd be 28).

But, as usual, I would expect the Nationals to be outbid for him. But worth pursuing (in my little version of Fantasy Island).

Posted by: baltova1 | September 25, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

peric, not to quibble (but that's what I do best), but Solis, Hague, Kobernus & anyone else who hasn't logged time at high-A level are shadows.

Solis threw only 4.0IP at HAG, and is going to the AZL - We'll get a better feel for what he's about in Viera (I hope he's good). Hague was another error machine (17E+ in 49GP) in his 1st exposure to pro ball, but handled the bat well. He's still 3 years away, imo. Kobernus either can't stay healthy, or has the lowest pain threshold known to man; For two years straight, he's finished the season on the DL.

The players who could have an impact on the Nationals' near-future (2011-2012) are guys like Lombardozzi (2B), Milone (LHSP), Peacock (RHSP), Rosenbaum (LHSP), Bronson (RHSP), Wilkie (RHRP), & Kimball (RHRP).

Posted by: BinM | September 25, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Grienke (saying that KC would even consider letting him go), could cost a TON: He's a 4 for 1 or better, imo.

I'd imagine Dayton Moore would ask for a ML middle infielder (Desmond or Espinosa), maybe a ML OF (Bernadina), a CA prospect (Norris), and possibly one or two pitchers (JZnn, Milone, Martis, Rosenbaum).

Posted by: BinM | September 25, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

"I'd imagine Dayton Moore would ask for a ML middle infielder (Desmond or Espinosa), maybe a ML OF (Bernadina), a CA prospect (Norris), and possibly one or two pitchers (JZnn, Milone, Martis, Rosenbaum)."

Given what we've seen this season it might well be more than worth it. Particularly since he would be there through 2013. As far as Garza you have to know the first thing they would be after is Dunn, perhaps settling for Willingham, perhaps not.

I think Natsjack is seeing some interesting stuff about former junior college draftee Taylor Jordan.

Posted by: periculum | September 25, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

skidge: it's not us; it's them, which means that we can still go to games. (I have tix for tomorrow, but that's immaterial here.) :-)

---

Well, I guess I won't go to anymore games, as I seem to be a jinx (she said self-centeredly...)

Posted by: skidge | September 25, 2010 5:24 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 25, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

peric: You'd give up two starters (SS/2B & OF), a SP, and a prospect or two for Greinke? Ouch! That's the kind of one-sided trade that makes me glad Minaya is with the NYM (for now, and I'll be sad to see him go).

Also, on Taylor Jordan, you're making an assumption - NatsJack (over at NatsInsider, FWIW), had'nt yet revealed who the scouts were 'drooling' over, last time I checked.

Posted by: BinM | September 25, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

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