Johnson talks trade deadline, “World Series or bust” slogan

DETROIT - The reality of the situation for the Nationals right now is this: They are currently three games under .500 with 55 games remaining in the 2013 regular season.

They sit 10 games back of the Braves in the National League East and are 6 1/2 games behind the Reds for the final NL Wild Card spot with the Diamondbacks also ahead of the Nats in the Wild Card mix.

The chances of the Nats reaching the postseason are slim. No doubt about that. And that’s a large reason why, with the non-waiver trade deadline now just four hours away, the Nats are unlikely to make any type of significant move to bolster their roster.

Manager Davey Johnson had a phone conversation with general manager Mike Rizzo this morning, discussing a number of things. They talked about pitching coach Steve McCatty, who will be released from a D.C. hospital today after dealing with an irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure and will rejoin the Nats when they return home on Monday.

(Johnson said that Triple-A Syracuse pitching coach Greg Booker or minor league pitching coordinator Spin Williams could join the Nats in Milwaukee to serve as interim pitching coach.)

Johnson and Rizzo also discussed where things stand going into the deadline, and apparently not much has changed as far as their lack of involvement in any major trade talks.

“He’s always trying to do something to help the club, but it didn’t feel like there was anything imminent,” Johnson said. “And I kind of knew that.”

Rizzo and Johnson obviously aren’t just looking at this year when it comes to the trade deadline. The vast majority of the Nationals’ roster includes core players that will be around through at least next year, and the Nats feel that they don’t need to blow the current roster up by making a move just for the sake of making a move.

“I don’t regret saying, ‘World Series or bust,’ ” Johnson said before cracking a smile. “It looks more like bust. But this is my last go-round anyway. But what I want to do is what’s best for the organization. I want this organization to continue being a first-division ballclub. And the Lerner family’s done that, Rizzo’s done that. We’re just not holding up our end on the field. And they’re going to run me out of here anyway. But I am optimistic. I’m optimistic with this team. ...

“We’re still growing as an organization talent-wise, and to make a move to block somebody coming up next year, it doesn’t make any sense. But like I said, we do have the talent. We’re not out of this thing, we’re still in this. I like the way our schedule is racking up the rest of the way. We could do similar to what the Dodgers did. I like my talent here, too.”

For the record, the Dodgers are currently on a 27-6 run, which is the best 33-game streak in the history of the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise.

Is it possible the Nats make a run like that? Sure, anything’s possible.

Is it likely? It surely is not.

“I feel like we’re going to probably have to win over 90 games to get in the thing, but we just have to be consistently better all the way around in our game,” Johnson said. “And we do that, it starts on a daily basis, we’ll be fine.”

For the record (again), to win 90 games, the Nats will have to go 38-17 the rest of the way out. That’s a .691 winning percentage, a 112-win pace.

Despite the optimistic talk, Johnson isn’t blind to the issues with his team.

“Let’s be realistic,” Johnson said. “Forty percent of my rotation had some problems. (Ross Detwiler) with his back, (Dan) Haren with some problems. We didn’t have that last year. We had a little unbalance in the bullpen and we weren’t getting the left-handers out. Then some guys in the lineup, some guys on the bench, they were all hitting, they were all hitting under .200 after 100 at-bats. Same player.

“So it’s more of a panic move when all of a sudden if a guy struggles in a role he’s not uncomfortable with and when all these things didn’t pan out the way you like them, you start blaming everybody. But there have been some problems.”

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