Nats fans need not panic just yet

After having read the last couple posts from my talented fellow co-writer Leslie Monteiro it left me feeling like maybe it was time for an opinion from a different point of view to be expressed. See while I can somewhat understand where Leslie is coming from our opinions still differ when it comes to the current state of the Nats. Personally my outlook is not one of gloom and doom and is instead one of hope for the Nats in the second half. So for that reason I will go ahead and address my opinion on some of the topics raised by Leslie in the following posts

http://districtondeck.com/2011/07/16/q/

http://districtondeck.com/2011/07/20/memo-to-nationals-stop-making-your-pitchers-as-wimps/

http://districtondeck.com/2011/07/21/davey-johnson-has-yet-to-make-difference-with-nationals/

http://districtondeck.com/2011/07/22/rizzo-botches-up-managerial-situation/

1. “With the Nationals winning eight out of 20 games under Davey Johnson, it’s safe to say something is not right. They were 40-38 before he took over, and everyone thought they would continue to improve.That hasn’t been the case under Johnson.”

Yes when Riggleman left the team they were above .500 but how many people really expected them to even be above .500 that far in to the season? Even at 38 and 37 which is what they were under Riggleman how many people felt that the Nats would not dip under .500 again?

We have to be realistic here the Nats while improved from last season still have a ways to go before they can be counted on to win consistently. Even under Riggleman it took going 11 and 1 in his last 12 games as manager for the Nats to get to one game above 500. The Nationals were not going to keep winning at that rate especially with the hitting being as on and off as it has been all season long. Simply put the Nats are a work in progress so there is going to be bad stretches but remember baseball is a marathon not a sprint. So with 63 games left lets hold off on labeling a proven winner like Johnson a failure.

2. “Looking at the hitters, there are question marks all across the board.”

Is there some question marks? Yes but I would not go as far as saying all across the board

Danny Espinosa- Going in to this season I told people Espinosa would win the NL rookie of the year award and its a prediction I still feel comfortable in having made. While he has struggled with his batting average so far the one thing he has managed to do is pile up the home runs (17) and rbis (55). Sure he will have some slumps but at the end of the day his total numbers are going to rival if not beat those of any other second baseman in the NL.

Ryan Zimmerman- Having watched him since he returned from the DL it appears to me that he has been swinging the bat better in the month of July than he was in June. Plus he is beginning to draw more walks with 10 so far this month in 75 plate appearances as opposed to 3 walks in 69 plate appearances in the month of June. As the season goes on Zimmerman is going to look more and more like his old self.

Michael Morse- I know the argument is out there of well pitchers could figure Morse out but has there been any signs of that happening? If anything I’d say he has gotten better as  the book on him has gotten bigger. Between last year and this season Ive seen enough from Morse to where I feel comfortable in saying he is a well above average hitter.

In Espinosa, Zimmerman and Morse the Nationals have 3 people that I am not worried about going forward in this season.

Now on to those people who I do agree are question marks for the Nationals

Ian Desmond- I love his potential but unfortunately potential means nothing if you can’t put it altogether and he has yet to show that he can. In many ways I’m a Desmond fan but at the same time if he does not turn it around soon I feel like it might be worth giving Lombardozzi a look this season. I know Lombardozzi is a second baseman but he has experience at shortstop as well and I wouldn’t want to move Espinosa back to short and possibly throw off the progress he is making this season.

Jayson Werth- Like many other Nats fans I am growing impatient with Mr. Werth and waiting for him to turn it around has been almost as painful for me as it has been to watch Matt Stairs pinch hit this season. History says he is better than what we have seen so far but something just has not been right with Werth lately. I don’t know if it is the pressure of signing a big contract or if he is playing hurt but hopefully he turns it around soon.

For me those are the two biggest question marks with some smaller ones in guys like Bernadina and Ramos. Honestly though if they could just get Werth going it could go a long ways to helping jump start the team as a whole.

3. “The starters put the team in a position to win tight games by pitching well and going deep in games.That said, it’s hard to believe  Jason Marquis and Hernandez will keep this up. Those two will eventually get hit hard based on their history.”

Yes more than likely Livan will not be as good in the second half as he was in the first half but if he can keep his era in the mid 4’s for the second half he will still be a quality pitcher with all things considered. Livan was the opening day starter but by no means is he the ace of the team so realistically they are not expecting him to go out and be great every night. Going on talent and potential right now Livan is more like the 4th or 5th best pitcher in the rotation and you are doing alright if you have a guy like Livan in the back of the rotation.

Worst thing for the Nats is that Jordan Zimmermann is fast approaching his 160 inning count limit. More than likely he will get around 6 maybe 7 more starts before being shut down for the season. This will hurt the Nats a little but at that point in the season they could have Chien-Ming Wang up and healthy and they also have some strong late season call up candidates in Peacock and Milone. Plus there is always the chance of a Strasburg sighting for a game or two but I’m not fully expecting that to happen.

The Nats starters will have some rough outings but you do not have to have the Phillies rotation to battle for 500. Overall between what they have currently on the team and what they could bring up from the minors the pitching should keep them in enough games to where they will be able to battle for 500

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