How to Move Beyond This Arrested Development
The Nationals finally sent Drew Storen down to Syracuse today. It was long overdue. In all truth Mike Rizzo should have sent Danny Espinosa and Storen down at the same time. But Rizzo had to overrule Davey Johnson who believed that Espinosa, Tyler Moore and all the rest just needed more time.
Drew Storen has been sulking all season long. When Steve McCatty has come to the mound to wag his finger at Storen hoping to refocus him. Ignoring whatever McCatty said, he would serve up another gopher ball. Storen is just a 25 year old with important growing up to do. He needs to do it somewhere other than at the major league level.
He could have made the Nationals rue the day they signed Soriano as his replacement. He could have beaten Soriano out of the job. He could have pitched so well out of the pen that as soon as Soriano stumbled, Storen would be there to take over. Instead, Storen is going to Syracuse and Soriano must feel the heat of his immature team mates who somehow believe it is all his fault.
And Davey Johnson, who has let emotions cloud his judgment all season long, did it again, calling out Soriano for having a bad attitude on Thursday night. Storen’s attitude has given Davey no pause; the 5.95 ERA just needs love.
In truth Storen is a poster child for the team as a whole. They are a case of arrested development waiting for rescue and the same formula Davey tried in 2012 has not worked the second time round.
Last season a young Washington team needed someone that believed in them. They needed someone with the patience to let them come together as a team, to reach their real potential. It worked and Davey was smiling big smiles all through September as youngsters like Desmond and Bryce Harper powered the team down the stretch.
There have been so many feel good stories on this team this season. Ross Ohlendorf, Taylor Jordan and Anthony Rendon stepped in when needed. But rather than build off their energy, the team has continued to stew in the failure to meet its own expectations. Stephen Strasburg has pitched well, but does not find the form he had last season until after the first couple of innings. Gio Gonzalez started the season repeating his performance against the Cardinals too often.
The only players who brought their “A” game again in 2013 were Ian Desmond, Tyler Clippard and Jordan Zimmermann. Clippard has earned the right to second guess management on behalf of Storen. He is dead wrong, but he has earned that right. What is missing is the admission from his friend Storen that “no, this is the right thing to do. I brought it on myself.” That would be the mature response, but there has been no finding that maturity among these Nationals
Reggie Jackson described team chemistry as the right set of complementary pieces. However the pieces fit together last year, the expectations that they would repeat changed the chemistry. None of the senior members of the team–Zimmerman, Werth or LaRoche–has stepped to the plate–so to speak–and shown the rest how it is done.
The frustration has become palpable; a sense of tension hangs in the air at Nationals Park. Ohlendorf pitches a masterpiece against one of the best young pitchers to come along since….Strasburg? But the team is too angst-ridden to notice.
The Washington Nationals are a team without a champion. Their development was arrested in early October 2012, a detour sign placed in the path of the team bus. The trick is finding someone who knows the way.