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Dave Martinez: “I don’t know what else to do”

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One night after losing to the Cubs on a two-out, two-strike, down-three, pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam to the Cubs, the Washington Nationals were in a barn-burner against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Nats were down 1-0, then up 4-2, then down 6-4 following a big Cardinals rally in the eighth, capped by a big Matt Carpenter home run, before somehow getting up off the mat and tying things back up at 6 in the top of the ninth inning. The bullpen has been bad, but even shaky relievers are successful more often than we imagine them to be. Having lost two of the previous three due to bullpen hiccups, there was no special reason to think that they’d lose late once again.

Koda Glover took the mound and attempted to close things out. He got ahead of Paul DeJong 1-0 and then promptly threw three balls. Not wanting to put the winning run on first base to lead off the inning, Glover threw a fastball right over the plate and then watched DeJong deposit it over the left field fence and into the bullpen to give the Nats their second walkoff loss in around 24 hours:

After Sunday’s game Nats players and coaches all gave the usual “gotta forget this one and move on to the next game” quotes. After last night’s loss, however, rookie manager Dave Martinez said this: “I don’t know what else to do.”

That answer came in response to the cratering of Sammy Solis in that ugly eighth inning, but it might as well apply to any of the Nats relievers or, for that matter, the Nationals as a team. It’s a lost, floundering group, seven games back in the National League East and six back in the Wild Card race with a mob of teams in front of them. They have lost 21 one-run games and there is absolutely no one down in that pen that Dave Martinez can count on at the moment.

Closer Sean Doolittle has been on the disabled list for weeks and weeks. Kelvin Herrera is on the disabled list with shoulder problems. Ryan Madson, who gave up David Bote‘s grand slam on Sunday, said afterward that he is hurt and could very well hit the disabled list soon. GM Mike Rizzo shipped Brandon Kintzler and Shawn Kelley out of town for allegedly being malcontents. That leaves Glover, Solis, Matt Grace, Greg Holland, Wander Suero and, I guess, thoughts and prayers for Martinez to turn to.

In his place I wouldn’t know what else to do either.

BREAKING: Manny Machado to sign with the Padres: 10 years, $300 million

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Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that Manny Machado has a deal with the San Diego Padres. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the deal is for ten years and $300 million with an opt-out after year five.

At the moment there is some disagreement as to how “done” this deal is, with Padres chairman Ron Fowler saying “We do not have a deal. We are continuing discussions.” Ken Rosenthal, however, says that’s “semantics” and that the financial terms are in place, with the deal requiring over some final touches on language and Machado’s physical, which will likely be a formality.

The Padres were a late entrant into the Machado sweepstakes, but they reportedly met with Machado last week. The club has obviously not won for a long time, but they have a strong farm system. While that usually mitigates against a big free agent signing, Machado’s age — 26 — means that he’s still likely to be a productive player when that core of prospects is mature. And if it doesn’t develop, hey, he’s made some serious bank and can still opt-out at an age when he might get another decent paycheck.

For the Padres, Machado represents the biggest single investment in a player in club history. Last year they spent too, of course, giving Eric Hosmer an eight-year, $144 million contract, but this is definitely next-level. As for the baseball side of things, it’s likely that Machado will be the full-time third baseman with Luis Urias handling shortstop. While all of the talk about Machado over the past several months has been focused on money and, sometimes, his alleged lack of hustle, the Padres are getting a player with a career line of .282/.335/.487 (121 OPS+), 175 career homers and a 33.8 career WAR in seven big league seasons. While he played shortstop last year and as a minor leaguer, his past and future is at third, where he is a superior defender. As for the hustle: it has almost exclusively been an obsession of the media, based on an ill-advised postgame quote in October. He has received no bad reviews from former teammates, all of whom speak highly of his game and his work ethic.

When the offseason began it appeared that the Phillies or the Yankees or, perhaps, the White Sox had the inside track on Machado. Everyone took a wait-and-see approach, reasonably believing that by waiting out Machado, a better deal could be struck. The risk of that approach, of course, is that it allowed the Padres to talk themselves into getting bold and, ultimately, swooping in to strike this deal.