75 Wins if Nats are Lucky

I wonder how the season ticket sales are going.  As the roster stands today the Nationals will be a mediocre team.  What do they need?

A Closer.  And they are weak up the middle.  The combination of Danny at SS and Trea Turner at 2B would be fine defensively but pitchers would love seeing them coming up to bat:)  And they need a power-hitting left-handed outfielder for either CF or LF not named Cespedes.  Gordon would be great, but there are several others out there still.  The current lack of rumors could mean Rizzo is close to a deal.  But his problem is not money, but the fact that few want to play for the Nationals.  The reasons are obvious to all by now.

To me the rotation looks……………………………….questionable.  Sure, we expect Scherzer to bounce back, but I’ll believe that when I actually see it. Same with Strasburg, who was great over the last six weeks of the 2015 season.  Then we get to the real big “ifs.”  Gio, Roark and Ross.

About the only real good news is that like the Giants, the Nats seem to play well in even-numbered years!  I hope 2012 and 2014 don’t turn out to be their high-water marks.

Nat’s Fans Are NOT Happy!

This is well known.  Mike Rizzo and the Lerners (and now Dusty Baker, sadly) better mend fences soon, or revenue could become a problem.

I’m glad to see that just this week, on the margins of the winter meetings in Nashville, they began some wheeling and dealing.  Several new bullpen arms are on the way, starting with Yusmeiro Petit, who was a “Nats Killer” with the Giants in recent years.  He can spot start or go multiple innings in the middle of games.  They have also added the following relief pitchers:  Sean Burnette ( who was very successful in his prior stint here), Trevor Gott, Mike Brady, and Shawn Kelly.  I predict 2-3 of these will actually end up in the 2016 bullpen and be successful.

The other exciting news is the Nats have made an offer on Jason Hayward.  I predict they will not sign him.  Why?  He is wildly overpriced and there are plenty of great outfielders out there, including three with the Rockies who are so far flying under the radar (Rizzo’s preferred targets!).  I think the Nats just made the offer to try to goose other teams into getting Hayward off the market so then they can focus on all the others.

So far, the Nats are still a 75-win team at best; you heard it here:)

 

Bull-pen Update

Things seem to be churning in the Nats tepid efforts to re-build the “pen.”

The rumor that Darren O’Day is leaning to coming to DC (from the Orioles) is the only seeming good news.  He would help in the late innings.

The acquisition of Oliver Perez is nothing Mike Rizzo should expect to be applauded for.  His stats are mediocre.  He is a step down from Matt Thornton.

The most discouraging is the decision to non-tender Craig Stammen.  The rumors are that might be due to a so-far not so good recovery from surgery on his throwing elbow.  Not all operations on pitchers throwing elbows are totally successful.  Apparently the Phillies Cliff Lee is recovering from the same procedure.  And I have seen recent rumors the Phillies are trying to alter or sever his contract.  Not having Craig in 2016 would be a really major loss!  From 2011-2014 he was one of the most dependable relievers in all of baseball.

The Nationals: What a Joke!

A noxious odor is emanating from Nats Park!

The Bud Black charade has morphed into Dusty Baker!  Maybe the proximity to Baltimore (and Peter Angelos) or our joke of a football team in DC (owned by Danny Boy Snyder), have rubbed off on the Lerners.

We all know Baker ruins pitchers.  Why did they even interview Dusty twice?  What about all the excellent people they didn’t even interview?  Dave Martinez, the Cubs Bench Coach, comes to mind.  Ron Roenicke, formerly the Brewers Mgr. is another.  Donny Ballgame is a third (he was nuts to sign with Miami).

Ever since the wacko hiring of “Choker” Papelbon, the Nats have been in a downward spiral.  They are working hard to just be an after-thought in 2016.  You saw it here:)  One poster on the MASN site says the Nats have become the laughingstock of MLB.  Right on!

 

Papelbon News

It’s good news!  He and his family just moved out of their house (which they bought just last month) last weekend!  Good riddance, even though the team will need to acquire a new closer.  A friend of mine who lives next door to Drew Storen told me the other day that Drew said to him that he wants “a change of scenery.”  I don’t blame him.

The Nats bull-pen has been terribly mis-managed by both ex-Manager Williams as well as Mike Rizzo.  Rivero, Stammen and maybe Carpenter are the only ones I would consider keeping.

Stay tuned.

I’m Keeping One Eye on Chris Davis’s Free Agency

If Davis turns down the Orioles qualifying offer and becomes a free agent, the Nats should make him an offer he cannot refuse!  He hits from the left side and is a good defender at both 1B and the corner outfield positions——-just what the Nats need.  Also he is “good in the clubhouse.”  That means that as the Nats show “Paps” the exit, and Davis walks in the other door the clubhouse improves by a factor of 2+.

OK, I realize there could well be some unintended consequences to the above, and also that with Mike Rizzo’s steady bungling over the past 15 months or so that he may have permanently lost his touch.  The team might be forced to drop either Clint Robinson or Matt Den Dekker for example.  But a Davis acquisition has a huge up-side that is hard to ignore.

Finding the Next Manager May not be Easy

I am wondering how many experienced MLB managers, such as Bud Black or Ron Gardenhire, would jump at the chance to be the Nats next manager.  I’m thinking the search may be a tough-sell for Mike Rizzo and the Lerners.

I don’t see the Nats being winners for at least two years.  I predict they are facing major problems re-constructing a viable contender given the looming departures, the fact that the bullpen needs at least FIVE new members, the shakey state of RZimm’s health, Werth’s declining skills, Escobar’s limited defensive skills and low interest in playing 2B, etc., etc.  Even the rotation is not likely to be as good as it has been over the past 2-3 years.  They will be lucky to win 75 games in 2016.

Given how poorly Rizzo has proven to be as a GM (with no prior managing experience, by the way), and the depleted roster, I would think twice about accepting the offer to be the Nats next manager, if I were an experienced hand such as the two I mentioned above.

More on the Case to send Rizzo Packing

One more brilliant move by the man claiming to be a major league GM.  Trading Tyler Clippard to save money!  He then proceeded to pay out more than Clip would have cost for the guy who tried to strangle the best player on the team, and Casey Janssen who had just a few problems holding Nats leads in the late innings.  If the Nats had had Clip, Stammen and Storen for the whole year, I’d bet they would have won 5-8 more games.

Clean Sweep!

So they have fired not only Williams but the entire coaching staff.  The consensus in the Nats fan world appears to be that Mike Rizzo ought to go too; I agree.  Please close the door on your way out.

Rizzo’s bad moves are too many for a short thing, but the list starts with Papelbon!  This was such a ridiculoudly bad move that it ought to be enough to demand his head.  But then there was paying McClouth about $10-11 mill a year to do nothing.  Telling (not asking) Escobar to play 2B and playing Rendon where he should be, 3B!  Putting together a woefully bad bullpen.  I could go on but now I must go deal with the real world:)

The 11 That Got Away

First, we have to marvel at the game Scherzer pitched last night!  I want a DVD of this gem.  Striking out 9 straight the third time thru the Mets batting order was the frosting on the cake!  In both no-nos Max was one fluke play away from a perfect game.  And I think he had three one-hitters this season too.

The Post has a great article today (by James Wagner) about the 11 games the Nats should have won but didn’t.  The main culprit was their bullpen, constructed by Mike Rizzo and mis-managed by Matt Williams.  These games made the difference between winning the division and not even making the playoffs.

Another thing for us to ponder is this:  If the Nats had not spent a small fortune on Scherzer, they would have had money around the date of the trade deadline to shore up the bullpen (and would not have acquired Mr. Pap-smear).  They could have got either Chapman or Kimbrel instead, plus one or two others.

What if?