Will Yoder: June swoon may dictate Nats’ path at trade deadline

The Nationals may still have the second-best record in the National League at 41-30, but the team is currently in a tailspin. The Nats have lost seven of their past 10 contests and have been outscored 25-34 in that span.

The club will be the first to admit it: Their offense is struggling and the team, as a whole, is suffering. Earlier in the year, the team was able to get by game-to-game with one-run victories, but it seems the luck has run out as the edged-out wins just aren’t happening. The bottom line is, the Nationals need to hit the baseball, and right now they can’t.

The general consensus was that when Michael Morse returned from injury, the team’s lineup would stabilize and his power bat would bring much-needed run support. For reasons unknown, the exact opposite result has seemed to happen. Those hitting around Morse in the lineup have inexplicably regressed, and Morse is taking a slow time to return to form.

Take a look at these Nats players who have struggled in June:

* Adam LaRoche: .153/.215/.389, five homers, nine RBIs, 22 strikeouts
* Ian Desmond: .259/.294/.432, three homers, 14 RBIs, 16 strikeouts
* Steve Lombardozzi: .155/.222/.241, one homer, one RBI, 11 strikeouts * Jesus Flores: .210/.258/.339, one homer, three RBIs, 13 strikeouts
* Danny Espinosa: .238/.315/.375, one homer, eight RBIs, 23 strikeouts
* Ryan Zimmerman: .186/.213/.244, one homer, six RBIs, 14 strikeouts

While there are no signs of panic, as the Nats still have a healthy lead in the National League East, one has to wonder whether the team will try to make a move to fix the offensive problems, or if they will coast out the season and simply hope it gets better. If the team wants to make a change, the most obvious move would be to attempt to move LaRoche along with some prospects for an everyday outfielder. This way Morse can be moved to first base, a more natural position, and the Nats can improve hopefully both their defense and their offense in one move.

That’s assuming the Nationals want to be buyers going into the trade deadline. There is a very real possibility that they could end up being sellers, however. With Strasburg’s innings limit, and Edwin Jackson’s expiring contract, there’s a very real possibility that come late July Washington decides to make a few moves to secure competition next year, as opposed to this year.

Either way, the Nationals are facing the closest thing to adversity they’ve faced this year. Something will have to change, whether it be done internally, or externally.

Will Yoder blogs about the Nationals for The Nats Blog, and offers his viewpoints as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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