The Washington Nationals’ biggest problem: arrogance

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Mark Zuckerman, Washington Nationals Insider for CSN Mid-Atlantic, watched the Bryce HarperJonathan Papelbon thing and, for that matter, the Nationals’ entire season-long breakdown. And he diagnoses the problem.

It’s not Jonathan Papelbon or Bryce Harper. It’s not Matt Williams. It’s not Mike Rizzo. It’s not the owners. It’s everyone, as a group. A total systemic failure. And at the root root of that failure is one quality: arrogance. Arrogance on behalf of ownership and management, mostly, in the manner in which they approach the game and the manner in which they built the team. And an arrogance they have to drop if they want to move forward as an organization.

Whether that’s the sole problem or even the biggest problem is certainly a matter for debate. After all, it is a talented team that has underperformed. If they had performed better or the Mets not as well, we’d likely not be having this conversation right now. But it’s impossible to read this paragraph from Zuckerman and not say “well, yep,” even if one disagrees with whether it’s the root cause of anything:

Yet this organization, from top to bottom, too often acts like it has accomplished far more than it really has. The Nationals fly the largest division championship banner in baseball, high above the scoreboard in right-center field . . . They boast no fewer than three highly visible reminders to the world that they’ll be hosting the 2018 All-Star Game, an event that won’t take place for another 34 months. They spent the entire first half of this season playing intentionally annoying slow-jams over the PA system when the opposing team took batting practice, for no reason other than to thumb their noses at the rest of the league. They continue to show replay after replay after replay of Jayson Werth’s walk-off homer in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS — an admittedly wonderful baseball moment — while completely ignoring what happened only 24 hours later to render that moment a mere footnote.

After establishing that the Nats haven’t done as much as they think they have and need to do more, Zuckerman talks about what they need to do. And wonders whether or not they have the fortitude to do it.

It’s a good read and gives Nats fans a lot to think about as they watch the club enter the offseason.

Roberto Osuna to be the Astros new closer

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When the Astros acquired suspended reliever Roberto Osuna it was viewed as a low-price move to bolster their bullpen. Now, it turns out, it was a move to get a closer. Manager A.J. Hinch said as much today, anyway, telling MLB Network Radio that Osuna is going to get most of Houston’s save chances going forward.

This comes the morning after a late innings loss to the Mariners. The closer who Osuna is going to take over for — Hector Rondon — didn’t even pitch in that game, with the damage coming on a three-run Robinson Cano homer off of Collin McHugh. Rondon has blown saves in two of his last three appearances, however, coughing up runs against the Mariners at home on August 12 and against the A’s this past Friday.

Osuna has made five appearances since joining the Astros, allowing one run, striking out three and walking one in five innings of work. Before that he saved nine games for the Blue Jays prior to his domestic violence suspension.