Worst Nats Seasons, By Position

February 9, 2011

On Monday, we took a look at the best season by a Nats player at each position. One of the not so surprising results was how many members of the 2005 that went 81-81 made the list. It’s the best team they’ve had over their short history in Washington, after all. The worst players, on the other hand, can come from any of the subsequent years.

For this, I’m looking at players who spent significant time as the starter, and their performance was bad enough to drag a team down. Unfortunately that means Robert Fick’s horrendous 221 PAs in 2007 don’t count, despite having one of the lowest WARs in team history – he was never considered the starter, as Da Meat Hook started 116 games as the 1B. Negative WAR is a good place to start, but it’s not the only factor I used.

C – Paul Lo Duca, 2008 - When the Nats signed him in the offseason, he was coming off a terrible 2007 with the Mets, but had hit an impressive .315/.355/.428 the year before. There was a thought that he might do that again, because the Nats paid him $5M for 1 year. Three days after he signed, he was implicated in the Mitchell Report. Not just as a user, either. Hilariously, a note from him to steroid dealer Kirk Radomski, regarding a bounced check, written and signed by Lo Duca was in the report (hey steroid dealer, “my phone is TOAST!”). He didn’t redeem himself on the field, either, hitting a terrible .230/.301/.281 in 153 PAs and 43 games with the Nats before he was released in July.

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Best Nats Seasons, By Position

February 7, 2011

This is your last week without baseball until November. In order to get you ready, let’s take a look back at some of this team’s highs and lows. After 6 years in town, the Nats have started to build the semblances of a team. 2011 will probably give us an indication of where they are going. Will the youngsters start stepping up? If so, then once Strasburg returns and Harper arrives, they might have a real chance to win. And they will have built a team, rather than cobbling together a group of free agents.

In the past, they’ve of course had some good players. They never really looked like they were building a real team, but they’ve managed to have a collection of players that occasionally turned in great performances. So who were the best at each position?

C – Brian Schneider, 2005 – Schneider’s 2005 was his career year offensively, hitting .268/.330/.409. That kind of production from a catcher helped make the team relatively successful, but it also probably helped convince the Nats to keep him as a starter for too long – his OPS in 2006 and 2007 was .655. He played a strong defense in that time though, and in 2005 he lead the majors in throwing out baserunners, with an impressive 38%.

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Goodbye Guzzie!

July 30, 2010

I don’t normally write news update style posts, but for the 4 seasons I’ve been writing this blog, two things have been constant. The first is the presence of Cristian Guzman on the roster, and the second is my insistence that the team get rid of him. Well, they finally did it, today they traded him to the Rangers, and I feel like celebrating! It’s nothing against Cristian, who I am sure is a great person, but he was always symbolic of a flawed organization to me, moreso than Jim Bowden or anyone else. His departure ends the Guzman era in DC, and hopefully ushers in a new era of winning, be it the Zim era, the Strasburg era or whatever.

What did they get for him? Don’t know! How much salary are they picking up? Don’t care! I’m just overly excited about a relatively unimportant move leading up to the 2010 trade deadline. Can you understand why, and humor me!

Some Hot Bats This Hot Month

July 23, 2010

Since July 1st, a few bats have started to heat up in the lineup. Maybe it’s part of the reason they’ve gone 8-9 this month, as opposed to the 8-19 they put in for June. Not everything is spectacular by the guys outside of the middle 3, but much of it has been serviceable, something the last 2 months or so was missing.

Nyjer Morgan has finally started getting on base a bit. It’s not enough for a leadoff guy, but it’s better. Since July 1 he’s managed to hit .288/.342/.303. This may not seem like much, a but considering his OBP is .320 for the season, it’s a step in the right direction. He’s also managed to steal 7 bases and only get caught twice, a number that is much more palatable.

Ian Desmond has also started to hit, perhaps recovering from his late spring/early summer swoon. Since July 1 he’s hitting .286/.340/.469. These numbers aren’t enough to bring his overall stats up from the depths of where they fell, but they are about where you think he might be able to hit over a full season if he became more consistent. Maybe he’ll even do this for more than a few weeks.

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Annual Day Off of Sports

July 14, 2010

Today is the only day of the year, I do believe, where there isn’t an MLB, NBA, NFL or NHL game being played. Of course, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton of sports coverage going on, but the major sports don’t play tonight.

Last nights All Star game was interesting in that it was low scoring, AL hitting didn’t demolish NL pitching, and the NL finally won. I don’t doubt that losing every game since 1996 was more coincidence than a proof of AL domination. Even the worst teams in baseball win over 35% of the time, so that drought was as much luck and coincidence than anything else, although the NL being worse probably did add something to it. It was fitting to see Matt Capps get the win, after only facing one batter. Not because he’s having a great season, but because a Nationals bullpen guy often gets the W when they’re victorious. It may have only been more fitting if Tyler Clippard was in there. He leads the team in wins, with Capps coming in tied for 4th with Stephen Strasburg.

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A Week Gone By, No Deals Made

July 12, 2010

After a week of vacation, I have returned to find the Nats in a similar situation as when I’d left. They’re still in last place, and haven’t yet hammered out any trades. It looks the Rizzo and company are hell bent on keeping Dunn and Willingham, which brings mixed emotions. Re-signing Dunn wouldn’t upset me, they don’t have many other options at first and I think he’s one of the best hitters in the NL. Not bad holding on to someone you can apply that label to. Willingham, on the other hand, is more than likely gone after next year. But the gaping hole he’d leave in the lineup probably scares the team a bit. Who knows what they’ve been offered for these guys, but fear of losing games shouldn’t prohibit any trades – the team is losing games anyway.

As for the other piece of trade bait, Cristian Guzman, he’s stayed put. There has been no talk from Rizzo of holding on to him, yet there hasn’t been much talk of trading him or Adam Kennedy. Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reported there were “inquiries.. but little progress toward deals.” Ok, let’s get em moving. It probably doesn’t help that Guzman’s hit .248/.331/.308 since June 1. When I said back then that they’d better trade him before he gets into a typical Guzman slump, I fully expected to write that previous sentence around this time. Except for the high OBP – it’s amazing but he’s actually walked twice in a game two times in the last week and a half. The last time he walked twice in a game before that was April 18, 2008. Anyway, as his bat disappeared, his value probably does too. Still there are a bunch of teams out there that could use some middle infielders – TB, Boston, Detroit, the White Sox, the Mets, San Diego… here’s a more complete list.

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The Diamondbacks Mistake Could Be The Nats Gain

July 2, 2010

I’m taking my first day off of work next week in 2010, and decided to go with the whole week off. I won’t be posting anything on the site, but I’ll be updating the Twitter feed occasionally. Hopefully by the time I get back Cristian Guzman will be traded for something of value, but that’s my usual farewell for the last four years, so I’m not that hopeful.

On to the D-Backs

Arizona Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes was fired last night. Via Twitter, Buster Olney said:

Byrnes will be unemployed for about 0.2 seconds. First, the Diamondbacks have him under contract for the next five years, and secondly, he is very, very, very highly regarded — and now some team can hire him as a consultant until he gets his next GM job, and it will be on the D-Backs’ dime. Today I posted a poll of 12 GMs, and of those, 2 said that of all the other GMs in the game, they would hire Josh as their GM.

Josh Byrnes is talented, and while Rizzo was passed over for the job in Arizona in favor of Byrnes, I hope there’s no hard feelings. I think it would be incredible if the Nats were the team that hired Byrnes as a consultant. I personally know one of Byrnes’ talented young staffers, their Director of Baseball Operations was a grad school classmate of mine, Read the rest of this entry »

The Cure for Guzmania

June 28, 2010

I could lament about the horrible weekend for the Nationals. Or pretend that only losing each game by 1 run meant it wasn’t so bad because they contended. But none of those things are cathartic enough to me. Instead I will write about one of those topics that has always made me feel better over these last 4 years or so – where the Nats might trade Cristian Guzman! Here are a few contenders that need middle infield help (and I’ve assessed their need for said position):

Boston – Marco Scutaro might not be much worse of a hitter than Guzman, depending on how you look at it. And he’s a better fielder. But Pedroia’s out for 6 weeks, and to take his place they are planning on throwing in newly acquired Eric Patterson? That guy makes Guzman look like an OBP machine. Need for help: HIGH

Tampa Bay – Quick, name their starting second baseman. Next to SS Jason Bartlett, who isn’t much of a masher himself, youngsters Sean Rodriguez and Reid Brignac may have a future, but it’s hard to imagine that future involves contributing greatly in 2010. A veteran presence may be something they’d want in there as well. Need for help: MEDIUM

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What to Do With This Lineup?

June 25, 2010

MASN’s Ben Goessling had a great post yesterday, laying out a potential change to the lineup. I don’t get to say this often about many people, but I’m in 100% agreement with him. His basic premise is to move Bernadina and Desmond up in the lineup, put Morse in, move Guzman down, get Morgan outta there. It pains me to say it, but Morgan maybe isn’t the player some of us thought he could be. Currently, he’s an albatross at the top of the lineup, and his near-.300 OBP is a joke to even play, let alone lead off.

Goessling’s lineup looks like this:

Bernadina – CF
Desmond – SS
Zimmerman – 3B
Dunn – 1B
Willingham – LF
Morse – RF
Rodriguez – C
Guzman/Kennedy – 2B

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It’s Hard to Score Without Getting on Base

June 23, 2010

In case you weren’t aware, the Nats are in a bit of a hitting slump. The fact that they’ve won their last two notwithstanding, they still haven’t scored a ton. Maybe last night was an indication of the beginning of an awakening, but when 4 runs seems like a high scoring affair to this team, it is a bad sign. Only a month ago, this team looked like it could hit. But recently the bottom has dropped out, and it isn’t pretty:

  • Runs scored has continued to drop from middle of the league to solidly near the bottom, now ranked 13th
  • OBP has dropped from 6th in the NL all the way down to 13th in the matter of a week
  • SLG has dropped although not quite as badly, from 6th to 10th
  • OPS down to 12th from just above the middle spot only a few weeks ago
  • HR is pretty consistent – sitting around the middle all year, they’re in 8th place right now

In fact, the only one that has seen any kind of positive movement in recent weeks in the HRs. That means people aren’t getting on base, when they do they hit singles for the most part, and the bright spot is the occasional homer, which is more likely than not a solo shot. 44 of their 21 home runs were with the bases empty. That’s 67.7%! Until other guys figure out a way to get on base more, and hit something besides singles, they’re gonna have to continue to rely on production from the middle three guys in the lineup.

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