Nats offense has up a ‘Help Wanted’ sign

Steve: Where did the Nats offense go? Two consecutive shutouts at the hands of the Chicago White Sox. I expect Joey Gallo to be called up for the Phillies series this weekend. But a lot more is needed IMHO just to put a charge into a team that went flat in Boston and Chicago with the offense. Before you say anything, I’m not expecting much from Gallo, and manager Dave Martinez was non-committal in his postgame about Gallo returning on Friday.

Don: No argument from me on that point. And unless Gallo magically turns things around, adding Gallo fixes nothing. As the title says, wholesale changes are needed.

On the assumption that General Manager Mike Rizzo is not going to call up James Wood, Brady House or Dylan Crews before the weekend, maybe it makes sense to see what the next tier of players can do. The Nats 40-man roster has one opening, so that is something we can take advantage of.

I am going to throw out some ideas that you can agree with, shoot down, and comment on.

Don: First, Keibert Ruiz needs a reset. I’d risk getting wacked by MLB and put him on the IL. My argument if MLB questions it is that he was brought back too soon. Replace him on the roster with Drew Millas.

Steve: Davey was point blanked asked after Wednesday’s finale in Chicago if Keibert is fully recovered and Davey said, “I think he’s past that point.” So the only rest Keibert might get is more time to Riley Adams. The problem is Adams isn’t much of an upgrade and you can’t drive him into the ground. Does anyone think that Millas would be a defensive upgrade over Adams and Ruiz? I do.

By the way, here is a timely article on monitoring MLB player’s workloads and health in an ESPN exclusive.

“If that collaboration isn’t taking place and we don’t mesh those things appropriately, you’re going to have a much higher risk of injury or poor performance. From my seat, what’s important is the daily schedule. We monitor the efficiency of the pregame work. That’s the best word to use, I think. How efficient are we with our work beyond the game?”

— Padres manager Mike Shildt said for the ESPN article

Don: I’d also create a roster spot on the active roster by DFA’ing Nick Senzel. It is just not working and keeping a guy who can only hit against lefties is not an option. Vargas and Trey can cover 3B. And since Gallo needs a 26 man spot, he replaces Senzel. Since Gallo can play the OF, that means we don’t need to have Vargas starting in the OF. Using Ildemaro Vargas in the OF as a late game substitution is the only reason he should be playing OF.

Steve: Rizzo isn’t DFA’ing Senzel at this point. They signed him knowing he struggles against RHPs. Once he gets hot he goes on nice runs. My question is who leaves for Gallo?

BTW, the Mets just made SIX roster moves today that included 2 DFA’s. I can’t think of who Rizzo would send back for Gallo unless it is Joey Meneses or Trey Lipscomb to Triple-A Rochester. Some think it should be the Rule-5 Nasim Nunez, but I’d like to see a little more of him. Of course Rizzo could shock everyone and DFA the up and down Victor Robles. Easy answer is an IL stint for Jesse Winker and his balky back.

If you want to go back one month, here is a link of the worst offensive players and you will see Nunez of course, then Ruiz as everyone figured. Then you have Robles, Winker, Meneses, Lipscomb in that order if we removed Gallo and Lane Thomas who both went on the IL during that time. Winker has been on a dive and his defensive metrics are bad too. Obviously Ruiz is in the same situation and doubt they would put him back on the IL to make another move for a catcher.

Don: I agree that Rizzo likely won’t DFA Senzel now. But he simply is not adding much value in a 3B platoon given Lipscomb and Vargas. I also think about promoting Travis Blankenhorn. He can play OF, or 1B (or DH). And to create a 26 man spot, I send Joey down; and he takes the 40 man spot you get by DFAing Senzel. So you still have one 40 man spot. I like having one spot available in case you need to call up Wood earlier due to an injury.

Steve: Again, I wouldn’t care if they DFA Senzel but doubt it happens. Maybe like I said above that a Winker move to the 10-day IL with that balky back. I suggested Blankenhorn while he was red hot in Rochester, but now we have seen Eddie Rosario heat up. Blankenhorn got a chance last year on the Nats’ roster and didn’t impress. Hard to second chances, especially with Thomas weeks away from returning.

Don: Good point about Winker to the 10-day IL – which they could have backdated if he didn’t play today. And maybe bringing Robert Hassell III up is a good idea. He may not be ready yet. But so what, he is in the next tier and it is worth it to see what he has. If he doesn’t perform you send him down after a few weeks and don’t call him back up (barring injury) until late August or September. And if you have to send him down, call up Alex Call. You need a 26 man roster spot for that, I think about DFAing Winker. He has fallen off the cliff. And we still have a 40 man spot available for James Wood.

Steve: Wood will be up by June 14th, and maybe Monday against Minnesota on May 19. That is a Rizzo call, and he is keeping that to himself.

Don: Agreed. Hoping it is May 19 and not June 14. The difference between those dates is just Super-2 status. I doubt that Rizzo plays that game. But, as you said, he is keeping that to himself.

Steve: Rizzo still could be nervous about Wood winning the ROY or runner-up and losing the full year of 2024 to service time with 5 years remaining. That’s all I can think of is that he waited this long, he might as well wait longer.

The good news is that Wood, Crews, House, and Hassell are all over .800 OPS. Could you imagine a call-up of more than one top prospect? I assume by the end of August that 2 or 3 will be up. Wood obviously first up.

The problem I see is that RF, first base, and catcher have been black holes in the lineup, and have you seen the defensive stats on catcher? The Nats rank last in MLB in catcher defense.

While we have seen the pitchers step up, this team needs to find a way to create more offense. Getting shutout for 18-innings against the White Sox is a new low for the Nats. I just think we will have to wait longer for the prospects to come to help.

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