The Washington Nationals widened some eyes yesterday, firing beloved and embattled hitting coach Rick Eckstein after five years of team service. As a team, Washington batted .240/.300/.385, hitting 91 home runs with 348 RBI, all ranking in the bottom 20 in MLB.
Ironically enough, thanks to Jayson Werth, Washington was able to score five runs for the first time in the second half, though still falling, 6-5 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. They aren’t exactly the strongest second half team, and their ugly head seems to be turning with the injury to Jason Grilli. Washington went with a different look lineup that also scored five runs prior to the All-Star Break, with Bryce Harper batting leadoff and Denard Span batting seventh. Of course, Washington had plenty of opportunities last night, blowing most of them, and being unable to do the little things.
As infuriating as this season has been, Washington GM Mike Rizzo still has time to make things better. There is absolutely no getting around it anymore: Washington needs to make moves. Not just a move, such as firing a coach. No, moves with actual impact and change need to be made. The changes of which I speak, unfortunately, are going to be few and far between. Because of Rizzo’s moves, Washington does not have many expendable players around the diamond.
Two moves Washington can make now involve both Dan Haren and Ross Detwiler. What Washington absolutely must do is release Haren. It’s tough for me to say this, because I loved the signing at the time, but Haren has been an absolute horror show and Washington needs to cut any and all dead weight. With that, leave Taylor Jordan in the rotation until further notice, and try to add Ross Ohlendorf to the rotation as needed, though leaving him in the bullpen may be where he is most valuable.
Unfortunately, Jordan is on a Tommy John Surgery induced innings limit and will eventually be shut down, so basically, Washington will have two open rotation spots. Rizzo needs to make a trade of some sort. Washington needs pitching desperately and cannot look into their organization to do so. Rizzo should look to acquire both Yovani Gallardo and Bud Norris. Gallardo could come cheap because of his down year and velocity along with a manageable contract, and Norris is still going through arbitration and has shown his worth as a serviceable Major League starter.
Firing Eckstein should not be where Rizzo stops making moves. The bottom line is that Washington needs to shake things up and do whatever they can to improve themselves. It does start with the offense, but you can also never have enough pitching.