Well I'm glad I've been busy because this would have been a depressing few days to cover the Nats am I right?
There isn't all that much to say beyond the Nats can't score runs and hopefully Ryan Zimmerman's return will help. It's an interesting lack of offense at least. Yes the Nats don't get on base enough (15th in OBP in the NL) and they don't SLG enough (13th) but it's not because they lack the secondary skills to get on base and slug. If we remove batting average from the equation their isoOBP and isoSLG numbers are quite average (tied for 8th and 8th). It's the fact they don't get hits that is driving the terrible offense. There are only two players batting over .254 and neither have a ton of at bats (Nix has been up 5 fewer times than Rick ".208 / .278 / .278" Ankiel)
They are a little unlucky with BABIP overall (.277 as a team) but that only suggests a minor correction is coming. The hope for this to get better is (1) the return of Zimm, a lifetime .289 hitter, (2) the correction of Jayson Werth, a lifetime .270 hitter currently hitting .244, (3) the continued success of Morse and Nix, lifetime .294 and .247 hitters currently hitting .308 and .283 respectively, and (4) Wilson Ramos developing into a higher average hitter. That's a lot to ask but then again outside of Nix keeping up his average, it's nothing that one wouldn't expect.
Well, I guess there was a bunch more to talk about.
Anyway the trade deadline is a mere 50 days away so as clear non-contenders the Nats need to look into once again who will be dealt. My opinion follows
Who NEEDS to go
Laynce Nix, Jason Marquis.
Veteran players not signed for next year who have enough value to bring in a decent player (if you're lucky they might get a guy on the outskirts of some team's Top 10) and who don't necessarily have a place with next year's team. These define the ideal trading pieces. The iron's hot with Nix and there's no reason to wait on Marquis. If the Nats really want either guy it's quite possible to grab them again in FA after the seasons over.
Who should go but might not draw interest
Pudge, Hairston, Coffey, Slaten
Pudge (who I've grown to really like this year as he admirably slid into a back-up role - which I'd be perfectly ok with him taking next year too... for a lot cheaper mind you) and Hairston are both on the wrong side of 35 and have minimal offensive value. Hairston though is versatile and hasn't been terrible this year and Pudge makes a nice defensive specialist type back-up catcher. It could be that some teams might have a passing interest and the Nats should jump at it.
Coffey and Slaten are both older relievers - they type of guys you do want to deal. Coffey would bring a bit more interest, despite Slaten's being in team control for another two years, because Slaten is sneaky bad and doesn't get out lefties like he should. (in other words if someone drives around Slaten to take a look - toss him in their trunk and run away) Coffey though is still a Plan B type of pick-up for teams, if they can't get a better or younger reliever from the Padres. They'd be looking to get him for a steal.
Who could go but also has enough value to stick around
Livan, Flores, Burnett
You may think that Livan belongs in the last group but if Marquis has to go (and he does) Livan serves a purpose soaking up innings and taking a rotation spot every 5th time out. With Zimmermann on an innings limit, Lannan a year removed from injury and Gorzelanny unproven as a full year starter it would be a mistake just to trade Livan for a bag of balls. You need someone to take the abuse.
Jesus Flores is hardly lighting AAA on fire but he has decent major league stats and catchers are not that easy to find. On the other hand if the Nats believe in Ramos, that could make Derek Norris very tempting trade bait for teams, (or if they decide he shouldn't catch anymore) which would leave the Nats without a good alternative to Ramos if he gets injured. He would make a very competant back-up for a position that demands a lot of rest.
Burnett should draw at least passing interest. He's young enough to have a few more good years for sure. History would suggest this is just an off year. Most importantly, he still gets out lefties. But that ERA is going to drive down his price. While it would be expensive to keep him (at 3.5 mill next year) it may make sense if what you want to do is turn him into something younger. Chances are he'll fetch a better price next year.