A lack of energy, or the no-Lou factor?

Nationals’ players were on the field early this afternoon, for an around-the-mound meeting, and some remedial infield; call it what you will. Likely a response to Monday’s less-than-stellar effort against the Cubs, it hasn’t seemed to make much difference midway through tonight’s contest.

The easy thing to say is that the Nationals are in a team-wide funk, but one scout suggested to me that you might want to look across the field into the other dugout.

“Some of those guys are thrilled that Lou [Piniella] is gone,” he told me. “I can’t imagine he was easy to live with this season, and his absence has a lot of guys feeling like their season has started over.”

Whether or not that’s the case remains to be seen. The Cubs have underachieved tremendously this year- a huge payroll and little to show for it - and Piniella’s departure with 6 weeks to play may seem like a last minute call from the governor.

For sure, the Nationals this month have looked nothing like the team that played so well against Philadelphia and Atlanta at the end of July. They’d love to finish 2010 with a flourish, but they’re going to need to get something going offensively more sooner than later.

Several of what once appeared to be hard decisions await a number of uniformed personnel. Some of these guys are facing the next phase of their baseball lives.