Many dedicated Nationals fans need a reality check. In brief this is a bad team. Of course there are several players to build a better team around or trade to fill holes:
Zimmerman, Willingham, Dunn, Bernadino, Strasburg, Storen, Clippard and a few others.
It is time to be impatient. There should be more improvement by now, but we are not really getting it. Perhaps this team will win 5 more games than last year with the current cast and manager, and even that will be due to the presence of one guy: Strasburg.
Here are some opinions and suggestions:
Riggleman is not the manager for this team. One example of why I say this: playing Willie Harris and recently batting him second in the order when he was hitting below .150 You got to be kidding! There are dozens of guys better than Willie, and younger, who could be acquired or advanced. Another example is playing Kennedy. A no hit AND no field type. Riggleman needs to play the best players he has and advocate the removal of the dead wood (Harris, Kennedy, Nieves). Some of the blame may go to the GM on personnel decisions—it is hard to know. But we do know is who is playing each day. The team needs a manager to shake them up and end the complacency. I am fed up with the Acta and Riggleman types. They will do well with a good veteran team like Boston, NYY, LAD, etc. This team needs a Billy Martin or a Jim Leyland. Managers may not ‘win’ many games, but they can lose them. A lineup with Harris, Nieves, and Kennedy playing at the same time is a near sure loser.
Since there are no obvious call-ups for the non- pitcher positions it is imperative that Dunn, Capps and/or Willingham be traded in order to shore up several positions defensively. The GM should lower the asking price for them and get a deal done before they lose the chance, and in the case of Dunn, possibly lose him for nothing after the season anyway. This team can win more games with a solid pitching staff, that may come together very quickly (from among Strasburg, Livan, Zimmermann, Detwiler, Marquis, Wang, Olsen, Clippard, and Storen.
They need a new second baseman via trade (in the mean time let Gonzalez play much more—he might even win the job), backup catcher (Nieves is another no hit, no ‘good’ field player, and center fielder or right fielder (Morgan should not play regularly due to a weak throwing arm, poor OBP, and no baseball sense).If Dunn is traded and a first baseman is not acquired in the deal then Morse should fill that role for the rest of this season. Or he should play right field and Bernadino shifted to center.
Consider trading Capps while he has value, if the deal is decent. Storen or Clippard could close right now.
I not a big fan of Desmond. He seems to be one those players who plays just well enough to give you hope, but in the end is too inconsistent. Like Morgan, his fielding and baseball sense is not good enough for the hitting he brings. It appears that the more he plays the more opposing pitchers have figured out how to get him out. He either adjusts soon or the Nationals should consider SS to be another hole that needs filling, possibly by Desmond himself in the future, after a trip down to Syracuse.
Let me add that many of you want Dunn to stay, but he is a luxury this team cannot afford. There are holes to fill and he is one of only a few with any substantial trade value. Remember we are losing with him at this point. And I assert that his value to winning is less than the slugging stats suggest. I believe opposing pitchers actually would rather face him than Zim., Willingham, Guz., Pudge, or Bernadino. When they really need a K they can usually get one when Dunn is up He is not a very good guy with runners in scoring position situations and his defense is below average. There are way too many unproductive outs. He may be worth more for his trade value than his play.
I implore the Nationals to build a good field-good pitch team with above average team speed and smart players. A .500 winning percentage can be achieved in the short term even with weak offensive numbers. I am old enough to remember the White Sox of 1959, who beat out a powerful Yankees team, with pitching, defense, and losts of speed.
I have been thinking about writing this for several days and as I put it together Dibble is saying some of these things on-the-air. I assure you I am not just repeating what he is saying. I will add that Dibble is good to have, and not just a cheerleader for an obvious bad team. I suspect he will be forced out after the season though.