The scuttlebutt and rumors are now building on Matt Williams’ departure. He will be gone very soon. Papelbon should go with the same speed, but his contractual details may take the lawyers a bit more time.
The acquisition of Pap clearly really upset team chemistry, which had always been pretty good. But the worst effect was clearly on Drew Storen, who was having a great season with 29 saves up to that point. He may now be “un-salvageable.” So the Nats may be faced with having to find another closer for 2016, and THAT is always very difficult.
Thursday’s Washington Post (9/30) had two great articles. One was about how the trade for Pap, and Williams’ bad running of the bullpen, along with his poor communications with the players all combined to send the Nats into their season-ending tailspin. Barry Svrluga wrote this article, based on a whole season of talking with the players. His best quote was when Jason Werth said to Matt Williams “When do you think you lost this team.” I tried to import a link to the article but apparently the Post has made that impossible to do.
The second article (same date by Kevin Blackistone) is about how Bryce Harper was quoted, commenting on Papelbon’s beaning of Manny Machado), essentially saying it is time for pitchers to stop intentionally hitting batters who had show-boated a little after hitting a homer. This has long been one of baseball’s “unwritten rules.” What made Papelbon’s act so reprehensible was that he threw AT MACHADO’S HEAD! I applaud Harper for having the maturity at the tender age of 22 to stand up against a “rule” that needs to go away.
The Nats will have a lot of work to do during the off-season if they want to be a contender in 2016.