Matt Williams wasn’t a happy camper after yesterday’s loss at Fenway Park. It wasn’t so much the final score – Boston won 9-4 – it was the manner in which it transpired. The Nationals played defense like they were allergic to horsehide. A pair of sky-high fly balls were allowed to fall untouched. Ground balls resembled hot potatoes. Bag coverage was shoddy. Only one error was charged, but the ineptitude was undeniable.
The prohibitive favorites in the National League East have lost five of seven games, and while it’s way too early to panic, it’s never too soon for pointed questions. The Washington skipper received several of them after the defensive debacle. Here are a handful of his responses, which were delivered with exasperation and a hint of snippiness:
* “Balls that are up there for four, five seconds need to be caught. Ground balls (that) are hit need to be caught and thrown across the diamond. It’s got to get better.”
* “These are big league baseball players. They’re here because they can catch a baseball. Any time you go out there against a club like this and you don’t catch fly balls, and you don’t catch ground balls, they’re going to kick your fanny.”
* “A wake up call? We’re fully awake, man. Believe me. With all that’s been said about our club, we’re fully aware of it. We’re fully awake.”
* “Last year’s over, man. Last year’s way over. We have to catch the ball tomorrow.”
* “Nobody is playing tight. It’s a function of catching it, making pitches, and getting base hits. Nobody’s tight. Those expectations were there long before today.”
Chances are, this game, and the 2-5 start, will become forgotten footnotes in a pennant-winning season. But for now, Matt Williams’ team is playing poorly, and defense is one of the culprits.
David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.