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Today's lineups

The Nationals will try to avoid a sweep in Philly. Against right-hander Joe Blanton, Justin Maxwell will sit and Willie Harris gets the start in left as Roger Bernadina moves to center.

Nationals
1. Danny Espinosa, 2B
2. Ian Desmond, SS
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Adam Dunn, 1B
5. Roger Bernadina, CF
6. Michael Morse, RF
7. Willie Harris, LF
8. Ivan Rodriguez, C
9. Yunesky Maya, SP

Phillies
1. Shane Victorino, CF
2. Placido Polanco, 3B
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Jayson Werth, RF
6. Raul Ibanez, LF
7. Brian Schneider, C
8. Wilson Valdez, SS
9. Joe Blanton, SP

By Adam Kilgore  |  September 19, 2010; 10:41 AM ET
 
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Next: Justin Maxwell sits with sore thumb

Comments

I read the convoluted argument from Riggleman on why he's batting Pudge eighth behind the self indulgent Morgan. But is Pudge hitting eight behind the .182 hitting Willie Harris?

And why is the overmatched Bernadina still hitting fifth?

And should I still care? Why should I keep watching this horrible, dysfuctional group?

Posted by: swanni | September 19, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Two months ago, I thought that maybe - maybe - this team wasn't far from being a real competitor. But I have totally reversed my opinion; the team may be years away and I'm blaming Rizzo now. He has done little to disrupt the culture of losing.

Posted by: swanni | September 19, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I agree...Rizzo has really done very little to change the culture of this organization. Don't forget he was here a few years before he was GM as well....He seems to have learned to accept losing while making a huge profit.....just play at GM but not pressure to win....Lerners like cash more than wins.

Posted by: JayBeee | September 19, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Missed the first two games due to being at the P-Nats on Friday and the Great Frederick Fair last night. mmmm...fair food...but I digress. Here's hoping that perhaps Maya can pull a Livo and stop the L streak before the Nats head home.

In other news, I see that old friend Brian Snyder is in the lineup. What? Schneider, you say? Oh. Never mind...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 19, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

good on a1...was that Sutton?

Posted by: JayBeee | September 19, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

That Willie Harris is still on this team is all you need to know about Mike Rizzo. That he is in the starting lineup is all you need to know about DoubleSwitch Riggleman. This team is a complete joke.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | September 19, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo, Riggleman and Harris have done the impossible--make one long for the days of Bowden, Acta and Kearns.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | September 19, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

>I read the convoluted argument from Riggleman on why he's batting Pudge eighth behind the self indulgent Morgan. But is Pudge hitting eight behind the .182 hitting Willie Harris?

And why is the overmatched Bernadina still hitting fifth?

Posted by: swanni

I figured it wouldn't take all that long for the people with brains around here to come over to the dark side on Rizzo. I look for baseball explanations for a lot of what he does, and it just doesn't pass the litmus test. There are certain things you just don't do - I guess the dummies want to get Willie Harris going. What a waste of 4 ABs. I'd run Maxwell out there until his bat turns to dust if it hasn't already, then I'd cut him if I couldn't package him in some sort of minor, useless trade for another Tommy John victim. But they'll invite good ol Maxie back next spring with the same bs line that they believe in him, after they send him down to Mexico this winter to work on hitting the breaking ball - 'we're real happy he's putting in the extra work in the offseason'. See, when you decide whether to release or trade a player, you need to be damn sure you know exactly how good he is, or is going to be. If he doesn't project, you got to get him out of there asap. But guess what? The only person he's holding up is 33 year old Kevin Mench.
The thing with Pudge is a precursor to next season - he'll steal about 350-400 ABs from Ramos and set him back another couple of years with the bat - 'hey we signed him for two years so he could mentor all the young pitchers'. Yeah what about the young CATCHER. There's only a week or two left and they're sitting him?

Posted by: Brue | September 19, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Play an entire year without a major league right fielder. Who'd a thunk that could be done. And next year, an entire year without a cleanup hitter. Or a right fielder. Other than Espinosa and Desmond if he gets his fielding under control, where's the progress?

Posted by: markfromark | September 19, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Look at it this way - With Harris in front of him in the lineup, you won't have to worry about GIDP's from Pudge.

Posted by: BinM | September 19, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

The blame can't be placed on Rizzo. Sure, he favors older vets while JimBo favored young "toolsy" players who had potential but were on their 2nd or 3rd teams. I prefer "toolsy" but whatever type of marginal player each would sign, the signed player had one thing in common with all the other signees: they were "affordable."

Going into this off-season, here's an approximate pecking order in acquiring good players:

1. The wealthy, high-expenditure big market teams who are contenders.

2. The wealthy, high expenditure big market teams who are not contenders, but wanna be.

3. The contending mid market teams who are willing to spend.

4, Mid-market teams who are willing to spend but are not contending.

5. Small market teams willing to stretch their budgets and can contend.

6. Moderate spending small market teams without much of a chance.

7. Small market teams who finish last every year who won't spend much, and last-place large or mid-market teams who don't spend, like our Nats.

Now how is Rizzo going to go out there and be so persuasive that he brings the good players here in the off-season? He can only get the leftovers of the leftover leftovers. (For examples, see the Nats' lineup and bench.) And I'm afraid letting Dunn go sent a loud signal to potential Nats that this is not an attractive team to associate yourself with.

I believe in Rizzo, but he needs a little help.

Posted by: EdDC | September 19, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Nats beat the Bravos 2 out of 3, only the second team to win a series all year, and all the naysayers retreat to the woods. Lose 2 in a row against a team that has gone to the world series the last two years and break out the tar and feathers for the entire front office.

I swear some fans on this board wouldn't know what to do with themselves if this team was any good. Unfortunately it might be awhile until we find the answer to that.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | September 19, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

People talk about how MLB stripped the Expos, and that's true, but it's also true that MLB gave us by far -- by far -- the best team we've had here. And they did it with a bunch of short term free agents and cranky old Frank Robinson. The present owners could have been doing that while they re-stocked the minor leagues, but it would have taken them out of the top ranks of profitability. The money they saved has not been escrowed for future free agent payments.

Posted by: markfromark | September 19, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

2-8 the last 10 games. When not losing 100 games for the third straight year is your top goal, you're just bad.

Posted by: markfromark | September 19, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Could someone explain to the blithering idiot manager that while Bernadina should be considered our CF of the future, he's not a 5 hitter. Why not do what a mentally incompetent 2 year old could figure out and bat Morse 5 and Bernadina 6 so that the person behind Dunn provides some actual protection and you keep the R/L balance from 1-6 in the lineup forcing the other manager's hand on relief pitching situations.

Riggleman is a moron and needs to go now.

Posted by: TheJoeGreene | September 19, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

mark - You're right on about how the Nat's could have and should have spent money to field a competitive team while they built both a fan base and a farm system. Instead, they've lost 2/3+ (my estimate) of their season ticket base and built up the farm system way too slowly (2010 was the first draft where they showed an understanding that the draft is the most cost effective way to get talent).

I'm still laying everything on the Lerners and StanK, and not on Rizzo. Maybe I'm not one of the smart ones around here (like that would be a shock). And there are a bunch of things he's done that puzzle me (going into 2010 Spring Training knowing he likely did not have an MLB right fielder on the roster).

It's hard to say he's handled Dunn wrong because we don't have all the info, and we don't know the outcome. But I'll certainly concede it looks like he's handled Dunn wrong.

More disappointing to me is if he really does bring back Riggleman. But that still might be on the Lerners. I can see Rizzo fighting for budget, and deciding he'd rather spend the bucks he has on players for 2011 and beyond than on a manager for 2011. Say what you want about Riggleman, he works for cheap and that's appealing to the Lerners, and presuming that Rizzo has a budget, it's got some level of appeal to Rizzo too.

For Ramos and Pudge, you can't sit Pudge more than half the time right now. Not if you intend to bring him back next year. And he is under contract.

SCNatsFan - It's really not the winning and the losing that has people riled. It's the roster and the lineup. They're gonna win and lose some number of games the rest of the way whether Willie Harris is wearing the curly-W or not. It hard to explain away why he has a roster spot at this point, let alone a spot in the starting lineup.

Posted by: Sunderland | September 19, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Where's that joker Kev something who was raving about the Nats Sept record? Yea right. Exactly.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | September 19, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Sunderland writes that the Nats have "built up the farm system way too slowly (2010 was the first draft where they showed an understanding that the draft is the most cost effective way to get talent)."

This is a great point, and I hope everyone reads it and takes it in. The previous drafts have focused on slot and under-slot signings, and signing one player only if they don't sign another.

Many readers say that, paraphrasing, "Sure the Nats are frugal in signing free agents and in accepting small salary guys only in trades, but look, they are focussing on the future through the draft. We just have to be patient." The truth is that the Nats have had small budgets in every corner of their operations, including the draft. They seem to be loosening up--finally!--when it comes to the draft.

Posted by: EdDC | September 19, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

You got it, JayBee. ;-)

---

good on a1...was that Sutton?

Posted by: JayBeee | September 19, 2010 11:20 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 19, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Forget this season, it has been a joke. But seriously how on earth do you think the Nats can avoid 100 losses next season. Who are their starting pitchers next season--ANYONE??!!
Name 2 pitchers who will be starting for the Nats who have won more than 10 games ever?

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | September 19, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Sunderland and EdDC, you're dead wrong on 2010 being the first successful draft for Rizzo.

The 2009 draft has two MLB players already and 6 other players at A+ ball already (5 pitchers and 1 position player). That's a phenomenal early return on a draft after only 1 full pro season for those guys.

Add in the over-slotting this year, and one position player already at A ball, and Rizzo is 2 for 2 on drafts.

Posted by: TheJoeGreene | September 19, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Did I see skins_fan_22 actually reference wins for a SP?

I thought most baseball fans were out of the dark ages on a stat that lost all relevance 30 years ago. W is a team stat that is controlled as much by the bats, and the bullpen in this age of specialization, as the SP performance. We have a couple of guys who can put up league average or better K/9, K/BB, WHIP and FIP. That's what is necessary. Someone like Lannan needs to show that this recent run isn't a fluke.

If everyone is healthy going into next season there's no reason to think that Livan, Maya, Marquis, Lannan, Detwiler, and Zimmermann aren't good enough for a consistent rotation with 1 guy in reserve. Add in a good FA and the rotation becomes a slight strength.

Posted by: TheJoeGreene | September 19, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The Nats have a good solid right fielder. Morse has shown that he is very capable of playing that position. He hasn't made one error out there and his bat is a 300 hitter. More home runs would be nice

Posted by: chiro1623 | September 19, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

>If everyone is healthy going into next season there's no reason to think that Livan, Maya, Marquis, Lannan, Detwiler, and Zimmermann aren't good enough for a consistent rotation with 1 guy in reserve.

Posted by: TheJoeGreene

Detwiler - if he doesn't gain some muscle mass and some explosion in his delivery, then he's always going to throw from a vertical position/across his body. Every pitch he throws flattens out. The only major league pitch he has is the 12-to-6 breaking ball thrown over the top. The rest of it, he drops down to 3/4 arm and throws it directly across the zone so the batter doesn't have to change his eye level.
Marquis - Come to the conclusion that his arm is toast for two reasons - 1 - he doesn't create enough arm action, so his pitches die and drift out of the strike zone, 2 - he's lost his grip on the ball, he doesn't have what they call 'feel' - you need the finger and wrist action when you want to cut or turn a ball over. He's got nerve damage in his elbow/forearm/arm, and he can't control the ball when he wants to. So not only is his shoulder fried because of the lack of armspeed and extension, his control is gone because he's lost his grip.
Zimmermann - everyone likes the possibilites when they see him rifle it up there at 94 mph. So do I. The problem he's got, and I will give Rizzo credit for saying that the guy had come to pitching late, and didn't throw that many innings being in the north country - is that he really doesn't know how to pitch. His rhythm is awful, he always looks like he can't do his windup at the same speed all the time. It's like he gets anxious and starts leaning as he goes into his delivery and he's off balance, because he misses his target by to much distance. He's a couple years away from being really effective, but I wouldn't mind being surprised next year when his arm is totally healed.

Posted by: Brue | September 19, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

JoeGreene,

Sunderland writes that the Nats have "built up the farm system way too slowly (2010 was the first draft where they showed an understanding that the draft is the most cost effective way to get talent)." That's different than your point of saying the draft of 2009 was successful. Yes, it was. In 2009, the Nats got underslot guys who are working out quite well! But 2010 is the first draft where the Nats have not gone into the draft hoping to cut back on costs and still come out ahead.

In the long run, as Sunderland points out, you are better off not saving money through the draft. You can get away with that in any given year, but you can't as a general practice. For the first time, in 2010, the Nats had no instances of cost saving--and it cost them just a small extra dollar amount.

Posted by: EdDC | September 19, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

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