Stinks, right?

To hear the players talk about it, we should just disregard the spring training record.  They have a list of reasons/excuses to forget about the record.

  • We're just getting our work in.
  • We aren't playing with our regular players.
  • I just want to stay healthy for the season.
  • I'm working on some new thing/adjustment.

For the most part, spring training records don't mean squat.  Several writers over the last couple of days have tried to analyze the impact of spring training records. 

While there is some anecdotal evidence that winning/losing spring training records can show potential regular season success, there's just no real hard evidence to prove that spring training records mean anything.

What does mean something, however, it how the team is going about earning their dubious spring training record.

Yesterday's ballgame was typical of the troubles the Nats are having so far.

Nationals pitchers walked eleven batters yesterday.  Granted, it was windy and controlling even the fastball was a bit dicey.  But eleven walks in a game.  And these weren't guys wearing uniform numbers in the 70s. 

Livan Hernandez, in his first spring training appearance, walked three.  Ok, that's not fair, because Hernandez never really cares about walking guys. 

Tyler Clippard, however, walked five in his appearance, and has been fairly terrible so far this spring.  He going to be counted on in the Nats revamped bullpen this season.  What happens if he can't find the same success that he did last season?

Ron Villone walked two and made a throwing error while recording one out.  He could be the second lefty in the pen.  Manager Jim Riggleman certainly thinks enough of him to see that decision being made.

There was also a wild pitch and passed ball to go along with the free passes.

Defensively, there were two more errors in the field, and a couple of defensive miscues that went for base hits.  Two days ago, Nyjer Morgan dropped a fly ball and twice balls fell between him and Elijah Dukes that should have been outs, or cut off before extra bases were collected.

But Adam Dunn says "Who cares?"  Maybe that's the part that bugs me the most about the Nats results so far.

GM Mike Rizzo said flatly that these games don't matter, that he wishes they didn't keep stats or records.  Dunn said yesterday he doesn't care about winning in spring training, and Jim Riggleman said that he didn't want to "use up" all the teams wins in March.

Ryan Zimmerman, the team leader, said these results are happening with "guys that aren't going to be here" when the season starts.

Should the leaders of this team have such a nonchalant attitude about winning in spring training?  Think they would be saying the same things if the team were 10-0 instead?

So if spring training results don't matter, as everyone wants to imply, what's to make of the good performances thus far?

Are we supposed to ignore Ian Desmond, Drew Storen and Stephen Strasburg's successes?  Or do we write them off as "just spring training" too?

While we're on the subject, what to do about the shortstop position?  Ian Desmond has been playing out of his head.  Rizzo yesterday told reporters that Desmond will play shortstop full-time somewhere in 2010, whether it's in D.C. or Syracuse.  Good.

The competition has been pretty one-sided thus far, as Cristian Guzman has missed most of the exhibition games, due first to his recovering right shoulder, then to attend to the birth of his daughter.  But The Guz is a known commodity.  He brings empty batting average and below average defense to the table. 

If Guzman returns to the team and can slap a few base hits around the last two weeks of spring training without making himself look silly in the field, could the Nats find someone to take him off their hands? 

The Mets just lost Jose Reyes for an extended period of time, might Omar Minaya find Guzman a more palatable answer than any in-house option he might have?

Something to think about, anyway, while we continue to watch the losses pile up in games that do not matter.


  1. Deacon Drake // March 15, 2010 at 1:05 PM  

    I totally agree that the players should be a little frustrated that the same mistakes that doomed them last year have continued to surface. The claim that "these aren't the regular guys" is BS. Everybody is using AA-AAAA players, yet the Nats are the only ones that have not found a way to keep a game close.

    While it is true that these standings do not count, closing out games is a learned ability and it begins in camp. The team's (and especially the management's) insistence that these problems will magically go away once the team arrives in DC proves that they do not understand the underlying reasons for their terrible 2009 start. This team accepts losing and prefers to make excuses rather than taking accountability for poor performance.

  2. Dave Nichols // March 15, 2010 at 2:10 PM  

    Deac, salient points. The Nats talked a lot about the "culture of losing" over the off-season, yet to a man are dismissing it in spring training.

    i get that these games aren't like regular season games. pitchers run in the outfield during the game.

    but taking it so nonchalantly is insulting to the fans. don't say, "I don't care" like Dunn did.

    say "Losing sucks" and we're trying and we're going to get better. even if they aren't.

    but your right that it seems they are making the same physical mistakes that have doomed this team for the last two season: lousy pitching and abysmal defense.

  3. Anonymous // March 16, 2010 at 8:42 AM  

    Right, Dave. I was going to add that if the Nationals had not lost 100 games in consecutive years, it would be no big deal -- maybe a little worrisome.

    However, considering that two rookies -- Storen and Strasburg -- and Ian Desmond are out-performing veterans at this point should raise a red few flags.

    The culture of losing needs to change and the statements from Dunn and Zimmerman right now are not helping their cause.

    I mean Dunn -- of all people -- dropped a fairly routine throw at first from Desmond in last night's game.

    That's why he should care about Spring Training.

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