Friday, June 4, 2010

I Thought these Wins Were Automatic!

The folks in red-colored glasses have made a big point about how the Nationals had one of the toughest schedules in the majors to start the season. And, the theory goes, now that the team has hit the soft Astros-Reds-Pirates-Indians-Tigers-White Sox-Royals-Orioles portion of the schedule, the team is sure to really take off.

Ooops. Turns out baseball isn't football. There are no Detroit Lions in MLB, and there are no "automatic" wins. Especially when you've got a shortstop in right field in a save situation in the bottom of the ninth.

We shouldn't make too much out of one series, especially one at the end of a long road trip. But this was a really bad series for the Nationals. Matt Capps, so reliable early on, blows two saves. The fielding gaffes were as bad as anything we saw in the days when the Cleveland Spiders were their main competition. And the Astros are really, really awful.

There's an old saying that the way you win a division is to play .500 against contenders and the beat up on the little sisters.

And then there's another old saying that if you can't beat the lowest scoring team in the league with Brian Moehler on the mound, then you better take cover.

Let's hope Riggleman has some tricks up his sleeve.


Chris Needham said...

You buried the lede:

"We shouldn't make too much out of one series"

Eric said...

Bag of tricks? From Riggleman? I think he is as much the problem as the black hole in RF Rizzo gave him.

Thought: By replacing Willingam with Harris in the 9th you went from a player with a slightly positive UZR to a player with a slightly higher UZR, but in the mean time you put an absolute butcher in RF (and Morse would,kt have been that much better).

Of course if Riggleman had left Harris in RF and Hammer in LF and the Berkman hit had gone to LF instead we'd probably have Riggleman on the spit anyway, but at least you could point to the 3 best statistical defenders in the outfield being on the field. Guz in RF should never be allowed to happen though!

Blaim (IMO) goes to Rizzo for continually failing to give Riggleman the pieces he needs in RF (If Guz vs Morse is the answer you've already got the wrong question).

Also, Riggleman has done a fine job managing middle infield playing time, but his in game management, specifically the running game and pitcher management, has been awful.

Rizzo, go get a decent FULL Time RF (DeJesus please!).
Riggleman, please go read Baseball between the Numbers, you'll thank me later.

hleeo3 said...

I find it hard to blame Rizzo, he has pursued a RFer according to several reports earlier in the season, but no one has given up on their season yet so they are not trading yet. Rizzo also apparently offered Jermaine Dye $3 million and Dye said no... Granted Rizzo should have signed a RF in the offseason if he knew he was releasing Dukes but that is another story and apparently something happened because Dukes still does not have a job.
So we will have to live with the right field situation until after the draft, because all GMs are worried about that right now.
The blame in yesterday's game goes towards Riggleman for playing Guz in RF in the save situation and in Rizzo's case I feel like his hands are tied... unless you are willing to empty the farm system for David Dejesus and Roy Oswalt. We can't just say "get someone" without losing alot. The farm system is just finding some life, I prefer not to kill it until we are in the position to do so. This season is nice but I think we are still too far away from playoffs.

TBC said...

If Rizzo does manage to swing a trade for Roy Oswalt, what are the chances that Riggleman would play him in right field?

Eric said...

Maybe Strasburg can play RF on his off days, he had a single yesterday in AAA so he's already well ahead of the stiff we have out there.

AD said...

I always get flamed when I say this, but our best solution for right field is playing first base. Dunn is an outfielder-not a good one, but at least in the outfield, he'd have many fewer chances to mishandle the ball. Kennedy goes to first permanently. Guz goes to second permanently. With what we've got to work with, this solves many more problems than it creates and keeps the big bats in the game while cutting down on defensive lapses.

Eric said...

Dunn would get fewer chances in RF? The problem isn't his catching throws (he's actually been better than I expected), but his lack of range fielding his position, which he has also exceeded my expectations. It's early to judge based on his UZR, but his -5.1 so far matches what I think we see with our eyes, his value is WAY up over the past two years now that he's a 1B. I say he's a keeper, except whatever extension you give him he's bound to fall off the performance cliff half way through it.

mw said...


You're right that Dunn is more valuable at 1st than in RF, but I think AD's on to something nonetheless. The issue is whether 1B Kennedy + 2b Guz + SS Des + RF Dunn > 1B Dunn + 2b Kennedy/Guz + SS Des/Guz + RF Bernadina (and friends). There's probably someone who could quantify this, but I suspect that the former does produce more wins than the latter. OTOH, even if that's right, we're trying to see what we have in Bernadina, and sacrificing a win or two this season might be worth the chance to judge him as a future RF.

Will said...

No no no no...

Adam Dunn should never ever ever be an outfielder again. He's truly terrible- and terrible doesn't really convey just how bad he is, and that's in left field. In right he's even worse!

There's a reason why 1B is where you put your worst fielder, because it's the easiest position to play. You might have to handle the ball more often, but it requires less skill. At 1B, range is much less of a factor than any outfield position, which is precisely Adam Dunn's greatest deficiency. Putting him out of position in the outfield is a disaster waiting to happen.

It's (kind of) working right now with him at first, though he's still destined to be a fulltime DH. Let's not blow up the outfield, just so we can avoid playing Cristian Guzman in the OF.

Will said...

mw, Dunn is a career -53 UZR/150 in RF. That alone makes any scenario with him in RF substantially worse. (In most cases -10 is considered very bad. -53 is unheard of.)

There's also little to suggest that Adam Kennedy is an upgrade defensively at first. UZR and Range Factor rate him below average, granted the sample size is very small.