Rachel Levitin: Lacking consistency, Nats must hope shakeup helps fix team

A common saying among the Nationals’ players and coaches this season is, “We’re better than this.” My question in retort is, “But, are you really?”

Let’s be frank here - this conversation has been running in circles for weeks now. Despite the thrilling victory on opening day in which Stephen Strasburg pitched a gem and Bryce Harper came up big at the plate, wins have been rare and cries lamenting that the team hasn’t been meeting its potential are aplenty.

Sure, the successful 2012 season was a positive step in the team’s history and reputation as a contender. But if Washington keeps losing, especially in a way that leads to a 10-1 loss to the fourth-place New York Mets just one day after an exhilarating walk-off win against the same team, then something is quite clearly off. To make things harder to stomach, the Nationals have fallen to third place in the division after Wednesday’s loss.

General Manager Mike Rizzo took his team’s poor performance into consideration when he cut some dead weight from the roster Tuesday afternoon. This was a great move. Why? Well, as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and this team definitely needs a bit of fixing.

At the end of the day, potential does not win games. The ability to win baseball games is one thing and actually winning games is another, and this team isn’t winning. Rizzo’s got the right idea of shaking things up and making changes to ensure that they find a way to maintain their new reputation as an actual contender instead of being a perennial joke in Major League Baseball. But will it work?

Just a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in a guest post that I wouldn’t be surprised if Rizzo made a few moves if the Nats were still struggling to win games. Based on the events earlier this week, Rizzo has proven he’s willing to make the changes necessary. Now, let’s see if his moves strengthen the team’s ability to win on top of all that potential.

If they’re really as good as they say they are, they’ll start winning games. And if they don’t, the trade deadline is going to be quite the roller-coaster ride.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation’s capital 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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