Time for Nats to start over, former MLB exec says

Ben Krimmel
May 23, 2019 - 2:23 pm

Entering the season the Washington Nationals were among the favorites to challenge for the National League crown. After 50 games they find themselves not at the top but instead challenging for the worst record in the Senior Circuit. 

At 19-31, the Nationals are just 1.5 games out of last place in the division and 10 games behind the first place Philadelphia Phillies. 

So what can the organization – from managing principal owner Mark Lerner to general manager Mike Rizzo to manager Dave Martinez – do to pull the team out of this prolonged funk?

Former Marlins team president and current MLB analyst with CBS Sports David Samson joined The Sports Junkies and delivered some bad news for Nats fans.

"I would start by releasing players," Samson said Thursday. "I would think an in-season managerial move may be in the offing, which always just reeks of frustration and desperation – and I would know because I reeked of those things for so many years – it's just bad from start to finish when you're not winning games that (Max) Scherzer starts even against (Mets' ace Jacob) deGrom, when you're blowing leads the way the bullpen is, it is so deflating for the team that it's hard to recover from and (at) 19-30, I'm sorry, guys, that's really hard to recover from, probably impossible."

Despite saying Martinez may end up losing his job, Samson doesn't believe the manager can impact the play on the field all that much and isn't the root cause of the Nats struggles.

"I'm not sold that managers make a difference in any possible way at all," he said. "I think managers can make good teams great, but they can't make bad teams good. And so I don't blame Davey for this. The reason I say in-season managerial is Rizzo can't fire himself, the Lerners made a commitment to Rizzo and they're not going to fire him mid-season."

And this is coming from somebody who was bullish on the Nats entering the season: "I picked them to go to the damn World Series," Samson said. "I thought that without Bryce Harper they would be better. I thought the clubhouse would be better, which by the way it is. I thought that with that rotation with the addition of (Patrick) Corbin, the top three of that rotation they would never lose three games in a row. I thought Anibal Sanchez was a solid number 5, 6, 7, or 8th starter. I was wrong in every possible way.

"Sometimes seasons just don't work out and we're getting to the point where the Nationals have to admit that," Samson said.

When asked if Rizzo should be fired Samson said Washington needs to start over. His advice: Stop listening to agent Scott Boras, attempt to sign Anthony Rendon, but be willing to trade him (and closer Sean Doolittle) if they can get a solid return of prospects. 

"You've got an unbelievable, top-tier rotation but it's being wasted right now with no rings, no World Series appearances," Samson told 106.7 The Fan. "So put it this way: Whatever you guys are doing right now and the way it's been done, you've gotta start doing it differently."

Samson goes on to say the Nationals' sum is not greater than their parts.

"Here's my view of what Rizzo is saying right now, with Davey Martinez and with the Lerners," Samson said. "He's looking at this weekend series as the season, if you do not win three out of four against the Marlins there will be changes."

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