FENNO: Davey Johnson not crazy to wait for Nats’ bats to come around

Question of the Day

What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

View results


Can you blame Davey Johnson?

In a 24-hour span this week, the loquacious Nationals manager suggested he may be “going crazy” or headed for the “loony bin,” joked he was an “idiot,” invoked Frank Howard and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with a Ouija board.

No, the good-natured Johnson isn’t about to crack up. He’s stuck in the same limbo as the rest of Washington, hounded by a question behind the self-deprecating humor that even the most advanced statistics or experienced manager can’t answer.

When will the Nationals hit consistently?

The manager can shuffle his lineup, grow slump-busting beards and spin one entertaining press conference after another in an attempt to find a solution.

In the meantime, Johnson’s only real path forward is as attractive as watching the cartoon-sized reincarnation of William Howard Taft waddle around Nationals Park.


That’s not an easy word for a season that’s floundered around .500, more bust than World Series. The campaign has resembled a series of funhouse mirrors, twisting and distorting conventional wisdom and thought-out winter transactions and years of proven track records into a team that struggles to hit baseballs much of the time.

The numbers are the stuff that makes up quiet Octobers. The Nationals rank 28th in runs scored and on-base percentage, 27th in batting average and jolt up to 23rd in slugging percentage. That’s offset a pitching staff that ranks among baseball’s top third, despite churning through nine starting pitchers and 13 relievers.

Injuries haven’t been kind to Johnson’s sanity or efforts to weave together a coherent lineup, occurring at a rate rivaled only by the maladies that befell the ringers on the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant’s softball team back in 1992. Catcher Wilson Ramos’ return from the 15-day disabled list Thursday finally returned the Nationals — knock on wood — to a normal group of regulars. But the earlier absences of Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth thrust the slump-ridden bench into extended action and accentuated the offensive woes.

Six different players have started in left field; five each in right and center. That’s far from the fleet, offensive-minded outfield envisioned after acquiring center fielder Denard Span last offseason.

All told, Roger Bernadina, Steve Lombardozzi, Tyler Moore and Chad Tracy have taken 17 percent of the team’s at-bats with a negative-three wins above replacement to show for the opportunity. Lombardozzi, who has more at-bats than Harper, has been the group’s best player thanks to a .233 average and .246 on-base percentage.

No one imagined a season cloaked in expectation to include Triple-A stalwarts like Eury Perez and Jeff Kobernus and Chris Marrero, among others, before rosters expand in September.

Werth and Harper, in comparision, own 13 percent of the team’s at-bats. That imbalance is enough to rob any manager of sleep or, at least, leave him quoting Howard.

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player
You Might Also Like
  • Nathan Walker waits to take the ice during the Capitals' development camp at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington on Monday, July 9, 2012. (Ryan M.L. Young/The Washington Times)

    Nathan Walker’s NHL dreams send him around the world

  • Washington Nationals' Anthony Rendon, third from left, smiles as he warms up with his teammates who were were wearing t-shirts in support of him for the All Star game before an interleague baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Anthony Rendon not an All-Star, but he’s been Nats’ MVP

  • Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter speaks during a media availability in the dugout before an interleague baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Monday, July 7, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    LOVERRO: Suck-up Buck Showalter needs history lesson

  • Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez, left, celebrates with goalkeeper Sergio Romero after scoring the decisive goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Argentina beat the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup final. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

    Argentina beats Dutch in shootout to reach World Cup final

  • Washington Redskins safety Tanard Jackson speaks during a media availability after an NFL football training camp practice at Redskins Park, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again

  • Celebrities In The News
  • Hall of Fame Inductees, KISS, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, and Ace Frehley speak at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Thursday, April, 10, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

    KISS rocker Gene Simmons touts 1 percent life: ‘It’s fantastic’

  • This image from video released by Funny Or Die shows President Obama, left, with actor-comedian Zach Galifianakis during an appearance on "Between Two Ferns," the digital short with a laser focus on reaching people aged 18 to 34. The president urged young people to sign up for the new health care plan through an appearance posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014, on the comic website Funny or Die, bypassing TV talk show titans like Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel for an online audience. (AP Photo/Funny Or Die)

    Obama’s ‘Ferns’ interview gets Emmy nod

  • ** FILE ** In this Nov. 12, 2013, file photo, actor Alec Baldwin leaves court in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

    Alec Baldwin in talks to play Rob Ford-like mayor in new NBC drama