DETROIT — As the clock winds down to today's 4 p.m. trade deadline, the Nationals appear to be staying true to their word and refraining from making any moves that would alter their roster for the season's final two months.
Manager Davey Johnson spoke with general manager Mike Rizzo, who remains in Washington with other top front-office execs, this morning and came away with the same vibe he's had all week: Rizzo isn't planning any deals.
"He's always trying to do something to help the club," Johnson said. "But it didn't seem like there would be anything imminent."
The Nationals have maintained all along they didn't feel like a significant roster change would be prudent, neither as a way to boost a struggling club trying to get back in the pennant race nor as a way to dump veteran salaries. Entering today's series finale in Detroit, the Nationals are a season-high 10 games behind the Braves in the NL East, 6 1/2 games behind the Reds for the NL's final Wild Card berth.
"We like the quality of the players here," Johnson said. "Now, unfortunately we're not playing like we're capable across the board. ...
"We're still growing as an organization. And talent-wise, to make a move to block somebody coming up next year, it doesn't make any sense. We're not out of this thing. I like the way our schedule is racking up the rest of the way. We can do similar to what the Dodgers did. I like my talent here, too."
The Dodgers, who were in last place and 9 1/2 games back in the NL West a month ago, have gone 27-6 since June 22 and now hold a 3 1/2-game lead in the division.
The Nationals' best 33-game stretch last year, when they finished with baseball's best record, was 24-9.
To get to 90 wins — the likely target to ensure a postseason berth — the Nationals would need to go 38-17 the rest of the way. If they can't accomplish that, Johnson knows he'll have to hear more questions about his December proclamation that his team's goal for the season was: "World Series or bust."
The retiring skipper, though, still stands by his offseason message.
"I don't regret saying World Series or bust," Johnson said. "It looks more like bust. This is my last go-around anyway. But what I want to do is what's best for the organization to continue being a first-division ballclub. The Lerner family has done that, Rizzo has done that. We're just not holding up our end on the field."