After attending the second game of back to back contests at Nationals Park, and watching the wild dichotomy in attendance, intensity, and pitching talent between the two, it puts one in a reflective mood. With the utter dominance of a phenom like Strasburg, and the performance of the offensive spine of the team, a fan could be forgiven for thinking the sky was the limit (playoffs).
But watching last night’s game, despite the resulting victory, showed weaknesses that will keep this team from October baseball. Defensively, this team is awful. There a number of reasons for this:
1) Our outfielders cannot read the ball off of the bat. I’m not sure if this is an optical situation, or they just suck at it. But 90% of balls hit in the air, not directly at a fielder will be caught in a way that does not belie confidence, or missed spectacularly.
2) Despite Ian Desmond’s impressive UZR, that puts him among the top in the NL, he still manages to fluff his lines on a simple play. As the observation has surely been made, the hard plays he’s able to focus on, the routine, he’ll not move his feet enough, or short arm the throw. It may be telling that Desmond said earlier this week that he’s able to focus more late in the game when he’s hitting.
3) Non defensive Defensive backups. Wil Nieves. I’m not going to say much else.
Despite his player of the game performance last night, I’m still not sold on Roger Bernadina as an everyday option in right. Additionally, while Atilano has performed admirably in his MLB spell, he reminds of Shairon Martis, who I became briefly enamored of, until he turned into a walk machine.
Mike Rizzo has a decision to make. Sitting in the back of the pack in the NL East, but in definitive striking distance, this Nationals team has outpaced anyone’s reasonable expectations. Willingham is turning into a stud in LF, Dunn is hitting for average, Capps is the freaking MLB saves leader, Atilano has 6 wins, Pudge has been otherworldly, Clippard has the highest swing and miss rate in all of MLB, and all of this despite Jason Marquis not being healthy, John Lannan sucking, Scott Olsen being hurt again, and Wil Nieves having to play more than once a week.
The pieces are in AAA and AA to make a move for a salary dump on an out of the race team. The name being most touted, Roy Oswalt, would probably being mighty costly, and the Astros are sure to want good pitching in return. That may be the main reason I don’t see this deal getting done, unless by “good pitching” they mean Brad Meyers, Luis Atilano, and Colin Balester. Cliff Lee obviously isn’t happening, so let’s move on. Fausto Carmona and Jeremy Guthrie could be had. But the best scenario for Rizzo is that Detwiler and Wang and Marquis all come back guns a blazin’.
I wouldn’t mind Corey Hart, the suddenly non-shitty Andruw Jones, or David Dejesus.
What do you think?