The Nationals get a much-needed break today, no game. Perhaps they can use this day to put the last week of baseball behind them. More likely, many of them will sit and wonder how they have managed to go winless in 7 games. Adam Dunn’s attitude is something I agree with whole-heartedly. Every team slumps during the season, this one just happens to be at the beginning of the season. But there is still cause for concern. Here’s my take on the performances so far.
This has been awful. Daniel Cabrera has made the best start so far, the closest to an actual quality start, although he didn’t get there, going 5 innings yesterday, giving up 1 ER (and 3 more unearned) with 2K and 2 BB. Not great, but certainly serviceable. And when DCab has been your best starter, you worry. Lannan and Olsen have been awful so far. The only reason I’m not running around like my head is on fire is that I know that neither of those pitchers are awful. They may not be staff aces, but they combined for 38 quality starts last year. This level of dropoff doesn’t happen. It’s a bad spell for them, my only question is, when will they come out of it? At least the Double N is scheduled to pitch on Sunday!
What can you say about this? Saul Rivera blew the Nats chances yesterday, and he was probably their best or second best reliever last year. And he’s been good all 3 years as a National. So I don’t expect him to do that all the time, but it happens. Hinckley, Tavares and Beimel have all actually been ok, if not great. The relief has been bad, but with those 4, plus Hanrahan, I don’t think the bullpen is going to be nearly as bad as people, including myself, predicted.
Wow. Just… wow. I think the starting pitching will definitely improve. And while the bullpen has had some blowups, you can see where it has its strengths. But the defense has been atrocious. From their cornerstone player at third making throwing errors to the ridiculous misplays in the outfield that allowed, among other things, Emilio Bonifacio to get 2 extra base hits in a series, they haven’t looked bumbling. Anderson Hernandez came off the DL and fit right in as he made 2 errors that were clearly a major part of the difference in yesterday’s 1 run game. They of course, lead the league in errors (tied with the Mets with 7), but those 2 misplays by Lastings don’t even count as errors. I am not sure how much it will get better over the season, at least Dukes looks good out there.
While they aren’t scoring a ton, they are actually in the middle in terms of runs scored (18th). What’s really nice to see is that they are finally getting on base (11th in the league), at least so far. This may just be from the addition of Dunn, Dukes and Johnson playing full time, coupled with Guzman’s high numbers while he’s on a hot streak, but it still is nice to see them 11th in the majors in a category that they sucked at last year. Overall, this offense doesn’t look atrocious like it did in 2008. Maybe much of 2008 had to do with injuries. Regardless, this team will score enough runs to win some games, it’s not the major weakness here.
The team still isn’t hitting with much power, but it looks better than it did last year. 6 HR puts them way down on the list, but only 9 teams are in double digits right now. Dunn has it, Dukes has it, and Zimmerman already has 2 HRs. Something tells me if he stays healthy he’s gonna hit more than the 14 he hit last year, and the 24 he hit the year before.
It’s not there. Seeing someone like Bonifacio makes you realize that this team lacks much speed at all. Milledge and Dukes are their fastest players, but so much is dependent on those guys succeeding anyway, I don’t want to put even more pressure on them.
I’m not satisfied here at all. They never put me in! I am willing to be patient, but I really hope that this is working towards some sort of trade. For the future, it makes the most sense to trade Johnson and Kearns, because they are both on their last year. Of course those are also two of their best defenders, but maybe you just punt that category. If Kearns goes, Dukes in RF isn’t a dropoff to me, but without Johnson, first base isn’t going to be pretty. Another possibility is trading Willingham, or even Milledge. But they have Willingham under control for 2 more seasons, and it is way too early to give up on Lasting’s bat. His CF abilities maybe, but not his bat. It’s only mid-April, I’m going to give it some time before I start really complaining, but someone’s gotta get moved soon. Hey, maybe this will help:
Welcome, internet readers from Major League baseball teams’ front offices! Have you seen Austin Kearns lately? Man, that guy can hit. He’s got such a great personality, too. But forget that, I’m talking about HITTING! The man already has a home run and a double! And he’s shown a great eye. Did you see what he did in spring training? The man had an OPS over 1.000! And his defense, well nobody has ever question his defense. Get him while you can, before everyone catches on to how great he is!
It’s worth a shot, anyway.