Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Not many jobs up for grabs

US Presswire photo
Roger Bernadina could compete for the one open spot in the Nationals' lineup.
There are all sorts of ways to measure progress for a franchise trying to overcome years of losing records and catapult itself into contention, but here's one simple method: Look at how many roster spots will be up for grabs heading into spring training.

For the first time since they arrived in town seven years ago, the Nationals don't figure to have many spring roster battles at all.

Consider how much already is set in stone. Only one of the eight everyday positions is undecided at this point: the outfield spot that won't be occupied by either Jayson Werth or Michael Morse. (First base doesn't apply in this case, because there's no chance of an open competition there. Either Adam LaRoche retains his job or the Nationals go out and sign Prince Fielder, who obviously wouldn't have to battle for his lineup spot.)

There are two rotation slots up for grabs among three contenders: Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan and Ross Detwiler. The loser perhaps winds up in a bullpen that already has five established members: Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Henry Rodriguez, Sean Burnett and Tom Gorzelanny. That leaves perhaps one remaining job to be decided.

Really, only the Nationals' bench still needs to be finalized. Though we know Jesus Flores and Mark DeRosa will hold two of the five jobs, with Mike Cameron and perhaps Roger Bernadina frontrunners for backup outfield positions, and Steve Lombardozzi perhaps the frontrunner for a backup infielder spot.

Pretty amazing how much of the roster has already been determined, especially when you consider how many previous incarnations of the Nationals entered spring training with all sorts of question marks and position battles. There have been camps in which three lineup spots were up in the air, and there have been camps in which three rotation slots were open and available to anyone who seized the opportunity.

Let's make a quick run through the 25-man roster, highlighting what few openings still remain...

C Wilson Ramos
1B Adam LaRoche
2B Danny Espinosa
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
CF Jayson Werth or Roger Bernadina or Mike Cameron
RF Jayson Werth or Bryce Harper or Roger Bernadina

1. Stephen Strasburg
2. Gio Gonzalez
3. Jordan Zimmermann
4. John Lannan or Chien-Ming Wang or Ross Detwiler
5. John Lannan or Chien-Ming Wang or Ross Detwiler

1. Drew Storen
2. Tyler Clippard
3. Sean Burnett
4. Henry Rodriguez
5. Tom Gorzelanny
6. Ryan Mattheus or Ryan Perry or Craig Stammen
7. Ross Detwiler or John Lannan or Chien-Ming Wang

1. Jesus Flores
2. Mark DeRosa
3. Mike Cameron
4. Roger Bernadina or Other
5. Steve Lombardozzi or Other

So, we're really just talking about one lineup spot, two rotation spots (with three viable candidates already on the roster), two bullpen spots and maybe two spots on the bench (and that number could be reduced if GM Mike Rizzo acquires another veteran, especially a middle infielder who would bump Lombardozzi to Class AAA).

The Nationals haven't found themselves in such an advantageous position since they've called D.C. home.


Anonymous said...

Needs more cowbell!

Looks decent. Maybe I would feel better about the depth at SP and CF if Stras wasn't coming off TJS and CF was more proven or younger.

Not bad at all. Room for midseason adjustments if needed even. Sign me up.

Gonat said...

Yes, this all looks familiar.

NatsLady said...

Wang is not going in the bullpen. He is not suited for relief as his warmup routine is quite lengthy.

Remember all the problems he had in the first inning last year? The time he pitched that excellent game at Wrigley field he warmed up for at least 15-20 minutes longer than the Cubs pitcher.

Lannan or Detwiler will go in the bullpen, neither of whom are particularly suited to it either, but if it's Lannan he'll have to swallow it.

Tom Boswell really wrote this said...

Thomas Boswell :
...I ofetn guesstimate a team's wins in its next season by simply looking at what reversion to the mean or a sensible projection of performance would mean when measured by an improvement, or decrease, in WAR.

I did it for the Nats. That's with 25 starts from Strasburg. Z'man back to an average season from a bad one. LaRoche and Werth at normal levels. Morse coming back to earth. Espinosa and Ramos don't get better, but sophomore jinx either. Etc. Then I assumed the Nats "true" record __on run differential__ was actually 78-83 last year, not a slightly lucky 80-81.

So, how many do you think my system said they would win in '12?

I couldn't believe it: 93 wins. I tore up the paper. And you'll never see it in the paper. I'm not crazy enough to put my name on that kind of number as a "normal" outcome, rather than a max-max best case. Hey, this is just a winter chat. So, enjoy it.

But it might partially explain why Davey is so optimistic.

– 一月 03, 2012 12:30 下午

Nats1924 said...

We understand Stras's has #1 stuff

It's just hard to see him ahead of JZimm - Due to Stras's inning's limit, JZimm should be opening day starter.

Theophilus said...

Have said before that Lannan is useless as a reliever -- too many walks, no "go to," get-em-out pitch. So, unless he gets traded -- which I now doubt, because there is no minor league depth -- I think the only pitching competition is between Matheus, Perry and Stammen. Not sure what the option situation is among those players, tho I think Stammen must be out of options. That's probably the determinant.

Don't know what the point is in sending Lombardozzi to Syracuse, except to give the fans there a reason to buy tickets. Altho Lombardozzi is said to not have the arm to play short, I think deRosa is a worse alternative, meaning an injury there would require shuffling the infield unless Lombardozzi is available. So I think he sticks.

And I can't figure how Bernadina stays around if he hasn't been good enough to stick for the last three seasons. Certainly he hasn't mysteriously gotten better over the off season.
I think he gets traded about the time the Nats are ready to break camp.

Cameron is way over the hill, washed up, burned out. And there is no pinch-hitter among the names listed. So I think there are two reserve outfielders to be named later.

BinM said...

NatsLady - Agreed on Wang. His warmup routine is very deliberate (much like Livo's), as he'll throw a single pitch until he has a 'feel' for it before moving on. Watched him in one of his rehab starts (Potomac), and he warmed up for at least 30 minutes.

I have to say, it's a much more comfortable feeling as a fan only seeing battles for a handful of positions (most of them bench or bullpen) than going into the season looking at cattle-calls for starting spots.

Tim said...

I see Ryan Perry, Craig Stamman, and Mike Cameron as the odd men out. Cameron was signed to a minor league contract anyway, and our brain trust likes Matheus so much.

Bernie's in because he's out of options (I think) and they just wouldn't release him (unless he has a horrendous spring). He can pinch-run, too.

I'm not sure they want to see Lombo rot on the bench either. They may opt for a vet mid-infielder instead.

Gonat said...

Theophilus said...
And I can't figure how Bernadina stays around if he hasn't been good enough to stick for the last three seasons. Certainly he hasn't mysteriously gotten better over the off season.
I think he gets traded about the time the Nats are ready to break camp.

Cameron is way over the hill, washed up, burned out. And there is no pinch-hitter among the names listed. So I think there are two reserve outfielders to be named later.

January 4, 2012 7:44 AM

Part of Rizzo's problem the last 3 years has been going into Spring Training with no plan for the outfield. Lets hope he knows he has 3 starters with a legitimate chance Bryce Harper can beat out Bernadina/Cameron.

If he were to trade Bernadina as you say "about the time the Nats are ready to break camp" it will be another get nothing in return situation. If you are going to trade Bernadina, do it now.

Tim said...

Oh yeah... and it's Wang and Lannan in the rotation with Det in the bullpen to begin e season. But Det will make plenty of starts this season... In the 12-15 range is my guess. If Wang holds up for entire season, I'd be amazed.

I'm surprised no one talks of an innings limit for him. Yes, it's been two years since his surgery, but NO ONE has EVER come back from his-type injury. EVER. Just ask Jake Peavy.

MicheleS said...

Remember the days when we invited EVERYONE to spring training (Under Bowden) and over half the spots were an open competition? This is sooo much better!

captcha... exswin hmmm... so many things (good and bad ) come to mind with this one!

sjm308 said...

I try and try to think about both Wang & Lannan in the bullpen and it doesn't work for me. Both reasons have already been given but would any of you want to see Lannan come in to a situation with runners on needing an out? I don't dislike Lannan as a starter but that is honestly pretty much all he has done so its not even fair to project him into a role he has never even thought about. The fact that he is the only one of the 3 with options tells me that unless he blows the other two away in ST, he will start the year in AAA and he absolutely will start for this team this year unless he is part of a trade. You just can't get through a season with only 5 pitchers.

Theo - are you sure about Stammen's option situation? If so it absolutely affects that competition as well. Its just a gut here but I liked what I saw from Mattheus almost every time last year and Davey had no problems going to him in clutch situations.

I agree with others that this is as solid as we have been but I am still hoping that we re-sign Ankiel. I have seen enough of Bernadina and Cameron is not the answer.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Theophilus... one of the primary reasons for the Balester/Perry trade was the options situation. Balester has none but Perry still has this year.

joemktg said...

If all three (Detwiler, Lannan and Wang) perform this ST as starters, I just don't see Rizzo wasting the odd man out in the bullpen.

Anonymous said...

No Matt Chico? Come on man, I had heard he was lifting his leg higher which in turn would give him more velocity.

baseballswami said...

I have always felt that too much of spring training was taken up with making roster decisions. I watched the good teams get right to business with, for example, their infield getting reps together and getting their timing down -- our team wasn't doing that until the regular season started. I would love to see the guys get to spring training and get right after it. The pitching situation proves to be interesting as well as the outfield. We need all the pitchers and outfielders, it's just a matter of starters vs bullpen, and outfielders regularly platoon anyway. Can't wait!!

SCNatsFan said...

I can't see Perry getting a spot; he was aquired for his option. Cameron and Bernie in CF seems to be the thought out of the gate. And the 5th spot is between Lannan and Detwiler, no way Wang is used as a reliever. If Wang doesn't win the #4 spot then I suspect he develops some mysterious shoulder tightness that lets him start the season on IR and get some rehab starts.

Just my opinions!

Theophilus said...

Checking his record, Stammen came up in 2009 and has been optioned twice, so he has one remaining. Perry also as one option remaining, I think. Based on performance, and the presence of Detwiler in the BP, I would favor keeping Matheus on the 25-man roster. But it will be a shoot-out between the three of them in ST.

Notion of Lannan getting $5MM in arbitration and then being shipped to Syracuse is ludicrous (and a condemnation of the arbitration system). We are stuck with him even if he goes 0-16 (on which you probably could get odds in Vegas).

People on this list need to accept what Nats' front office undoubtedly knows -- no other team in baseball wants Lannan enough to offer anything of value for him. You think Rizzo said to everyone in baseball, "Lannan is untouchable?" Hell no. He said -- to every single team in baseball -- "Lannan is available. Will you give me XX for him?" And every single team said no, and none of them offered a YY or a ZZ that piqued his interest. If the As -- after shipping out half their pitching staff and playing in one of the two or three parks in baseball where Lannan could possibly be successful -- didn't want him, you know his value is zilch, until some team gets desperate for a starter in mid-season.

Mark'd said...

Joemktg, Detwiler will shine again in Spring Training. It is his perfect situation of throwing hard for 3 innings. What does it prove? Last Spring Training he looked like an Ace, had an option and sent to Syracuse where he looked bad most of the season as a starter. Then he gets spot starts on crazy amounts of rest.

We know no more about Detwiler then a year ago.

Lannan is the one we know out of the group with Wang and Detwiler. Definitely Detwiler to the pen.

Marty said...

Agreed with Theophilus on Roger Bernadina. Love the guy, but we've been having this conversation for the the past couple of years. I would rather have Ankiel as OF #4 but I know he isn't looking for a bench role. Then again i'd rather have Ankiel (or Fukodome) start in CF instead of Jayson Werth or Roger Bernadina or Mike Cameron. Especially Werth...

At least with someone like Fukodome you could put them at lead off in a pinch. That way you can put Desmond on the bench after he goes into May hitting .188, move Espinosa to SS and let Lombardozzi have a chance at 2nd. Then come September bring the kid up, let Werth have CF and let draw straws before every game to see who hits leadoff.

And how about Vladdy reprising the role of Stairs this year? Or is him returning to the O's a forgone conclusion?

lesatcsc said...

It all looks good except for the OF. That's a mess between Morse, Werth and the 5th OF (Bernadina). There is still a lot of work to be done there, including identifying a third everyday player. It won't and shouldn't be Harper, he's not ready yet and the cost later on is too great.

Anonymous said...

Getting back to Gio. I recommend looking at his ERA and record over the last two years against the National league. It is impressive. I also recommend watching highlight on from his last start against the Marlins, where he threw an 8 inning 1 hit shutout. I don't think many people realize how good he is and how good he can be.

Anonymous said...

I think that any number of guys from the current roster might be moved before ST. In particular I am guessing Lannan and Flores. Flrores has the goods to be a starting Catcher in the bigs and the club may throw Boras a bone and send Jesus to a place where he gets to play. And the log jam has to give and Lannan might be the most expendable yet valued enough to get decent return guy they have. (I think that Rizo would have a harder time casting the first rounder Detwiler away). Yankees or Red Sox might be good fits (both clubs needing relatively cheap lefties who can keep the ball down).

I also think that Wang is annointed a starter if healthy (3 years of coins wrapped up in that guy, I can't see them not looking for returns now unless he's not healthy), and that Gorz is going to get a chance in ST to earn a starting spot. He's the one with the best swing and miss stuff of the non-Gio lefties vying for rotation spots. And I still find it hard to beleive that the club really thinks Desmond is the answer at lead off. 6 weeks of inspired play versus pretty much the rest of his entire career at every level of not getting on and not hitting for average or power? The odds are not good for the guy to do well in the role, but I certainly want him to succeed. We'll see what the roster looks like come March.


NatsJack in Florida said...

Theophilus.... you're 100% correct on Lannan. He's either starting for us or in Syracuse making $5 Million.

Now if he can get his fastball up to 92 like he did a couple of times last season and spot it down like he does when he's successful, maybe he'll amount to a solid #5 for us.

But I don't hold much hope for that.

But I didn't see Wang having any success when I saw him leave rehab last June either.

And see how the O's fans are sneaking in?

joemktg said...

Mark'd: then what you're saying is that Detwiler is not a starter, and the rotation is filled out with Wang and Lannan.

Got to believe that in the eyes of at least one GM out there, he's a starter, especially a GM that is short of starters.

natsfan1a said...

It is nice to have so many positions settled going into ST. I was always somewhat envious of other teams in that situation.

In other news, no Dobbs for the bench as he's signing with the Fish per MLB Trade Rumors.

Sunderland said...

The A's don't want Lannan because they want prospects and guys with a couple pre-arb years. Has nothing to do with how effective he is perceived as a pitcher.
Ankiel can't be signed if we also have Bernadina (LH-OF/CF). One or the other. Not both. And for now, it looks like Bernadina. Cameron was signed partly because he is right handed. If Cameron was left handed, less likely they bother bringing him in.
Short term plan certainly looks like platooning Bernadina and Cameron, then shift Werth to CF in conjuction with Harper's call-up.

Sunderland said...

dfh, interesting notion about Flores and how Boras factors in.
And I love the term "non-Gio lefties".
RE: Desmond - Do you think it's a case of Davey Johnson really believing in Desmond's ability to hit, or Davey Johnson really believing in Davey Johnson's ability to get Desmond to hit?

I'm feeling it's the latter.

Will said...

It would make little sense to trade Lannan if he's the odd man out.

Detwiler has yet to prove he can be a good starting pitcher- at both the big league and minor league levels.

Wang was not good in his return from surgery, and we cannot expect him to pitch 200 innings after the seriousness of his arm injuries.

Lannan will unfortunately get demoted, because he has an option and the other two don't. But I won't be surprised when Wang has arm troubles in mid May, or Detwiler goes 7 straight starts without making it through the 6th.

Lannan will get his starts, but they'll just come a bit later in the season than normal.

If we traded him, then who do we turn to when Wang or Detwiler, or god forbid Stras, Zimm or Gio goes down with an injury? Peacock and Milone aren't coming back....

natsfan1a said...

In other news, Reed Johnson re-upped with the Cubs.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Will.... Wang was terrific after his first two starts. What were you watching?

Sunderland said...

Our home opener is the 7th game on the schedule. If we go with a regular 5 man rotation, that means the guy in the #2 slot gets the home opener. And popular opinion is that Gio sits in the #2 slot, between Zinn and Stras.
Or they could skip one turn over the first six games, in which case the #3 slot would get the home opener. Strasburg?

SCNatsFan said...

Will, I disagree; Wang, while rusty, showed enough to consider him back from surgery and pitched well enough to have a spot. Hopefully he can sole his early inning woes. And while I don't know if you can ever consider someone with his type of shoulder injury 'back' I think this is as good as he gets and can make a huge difference in this team - can you imagine his, like he was as a Yankee, as our #4? How sick would that be????

Sunderland said...

Wang's last 9 starts (skipping his first 2).
53.1 innings, close to 6 innings per start.
ERA 3.71
WHIP 1.18
H/9 8.78
K/9 3.88
BB/9 1.85
W/L 4-1
He had some terrific moments, yeah.

Eugene in Oregon said...

If I'm not mistaken, it was Mr. Wang -- and his agent -- who insisted on a one-year deal for 2012, without a team option. That tells me that he thinks he's fully recovered and ready to have a break-out year, after which he can command a longer-term, higher-salary contract. I see that a strong positive, but certainly not a guarantee.

Bowdenball said...


Wang was FAR from terrific after his first two starts. Four runs on seven hits and a walk in 6.1 his fourth start, 3 runs on 5 hits (2 HRs) and a walk in his fifth start, and so on. He had only two games with a WHIP under 1.00, and several with a WHIP in excess of 1.50, which is atrocious.

His K rate was a terrible 3.6/9 on the year, and although he's never been a strikeout pitcher, during his good years with the Yankees- and he was never really that good, he just got obscene levels of run support- his K rate was usually around 5 Ks/9. Another mark of his good years was the Yankees was keeping the ball in the park, but in 2011 his ground ball rate was down about 10% and his HR rate skyrocketed from around .5/9 to 1.16/9. And that wasn't the first two games- he only gave up one HR in those games. He kept giving up gopher balls all year. He was also very lucky, with a .272 BABIP about 30 points lower than his career average, so you can expect some regression there.

No, he wasn't truly terrible after the first two starts. No pitcher is if you take a couple bad starts out of their numbers. But he certainly wasn't terrific or anything close to it. He was passable, maybe. I don't know what people are expecting in 2012, but if you're thinking we might get some guy with an ERA under 3.75 and a WHIP under 1.25, you're not gonna get it. Wang wasn't even that good with the Yankees, and he hasn't been in the same galazy as that Yankees pitcher in three full years, including his last nine starts last season. Maybe he comes back and gives the Nats a decent season, but the odds are not good.

Anonymous said...

Nats have only 37 players on 40-man roster; therefore, a "net" 3 will be added. Wild speculation for 2012: sign Fielder (8yr contract-Nats & Boras have this "thing" going on),trade LaRouche, add contact hitters Mike Cameron(R)& Chad Tracey (L) to bench as PH and part-time players with DeRosa(R),Bernadina(L)& Flores(R). Sign Juan Pierre(1yr contract-I can hear the screams already but he can be dumped if it doesn't work out and they can go to Plan B)for CF and leadoff. Put Marerro on 60day DL and Nats have only 39 players on 40-man roster on opening day with room for a veteran pitcher. Lineup : Pierre(L),Desmond(R),Zimmerman(R),Fielder(L),Werth(R),Morse(R), Espinosa(S)& Ramos(R). Also, since Nats are very thin with pitching in system, sign LIVO to minor league contract as insurance. Rotation would be: Gonzalez,Strasburg,Zimmermann,Lannan & Wang. Nats are not going to put 3 LHP in rotation, so Detwiler to bullpen. Bullpen would be as follows:Storen,Clippard,Rodriguez,Mattheus,Gorzelanny & Detwiler (no options left and is needed as spot starter for injuried starter,etc).

Call Me the Crazy GM

Anonymous said...

add Burnett to my bullpen

Call Me the Crazy GM

JimHoy said...

I was excited to see Mike Cameron in the mix for the starting gig in CF.

Oh wait, this ISN'T 2003? Never mind then.

That CF position is gonna be the make or break position for this team, I can just feel it.

Anonymous said...

With the players the Nats traded,his seniority & All-Star selection, Gio Gonzalez is #1 starter, Strasburg is #2, Zimmermann is #3, Lannan is #4 and Wang is #5. As long as Wang is healthy, he starts (ground ball pitchers are a manager's favorite type of pitcher since fly balls can leave the park!!). And, Nats will not put 2 LHP back-to-back in rotation (Gonzalez followed by Lannan therefore Lannan #4 spot). Nats are still "hoping" Detwiler will turn it around and so does Detwiler!!! After this group of pitchers the Nats are in BIG trouble for a team that goes thru more starters tha Zsa Zsa Gabor goes thru husbands. The only starting pitcher left is Maya,maybe LIVO if they sign him and ??????? Not are very bright picture.

Call Me the Crazy GM

Binx Bolling said...

No Rick Ankiel?

Sunderland said...

Call Me the Crazy GM - Gio the lefty definitely slots in between Zimmermann and Strasburg the righties.

jcj5y said...

Looking at that third outfield spot, I can't fathom that either Bernadina or Cameron would be a more productive player than Harper. I'm sure he'd struggle at times, but I can't believe that Harper would put up worse numbers than either of those guys over the course of a season. I can't remember the ins and outs of it, but I think the Nats keep Harper down just long enough to get the extra year of control, but don't worry about Super 2 status.

markfd said...

Isn't this great, a training camp that can focus on getting everyone ready for the season instead of trying to figure out which invitee or minor leaguer makes the big club!!!

Wally said...

It gets lost sometimes in the excitement of the Gio trade and all this Fielder talk, but Stephen Strasburg will likely have the single biggest impact on the Nats 2012 season, assuming that he stays healthy. He may have the best stuff and stats of any SP in the game, including Doc. What he doesn't have is the body of work that so many other pitchers have, and of course, he'll probably always worry us about a potential injury. But he is so clearly the #1 pitcher on this team that I am surprised there is even a counterpoint. Put it this way, if there is a key series against Philly (or put in your team of choice) and Stras is available, does anyone really prefer someone else? I mean, would you really want Gio over Stras because you like the lefty/lefty matchups? That would be taking advanced stats to a ludicrous level, in my opinion anyway.

I would love to see JZimm get the opening day nod, as a reward for last year and because he will never get another opportunity (assuming Stras is healthy), but there seems no question who is #1.

Harper_ROY_2012 said...

My predictions on the jobs which are up for grabs:

CF Jayson Werth
RF Bryce Harper

4. Chien-Ming Wang
5. John Lannan

6. Craig Stammen
7. Ross Detwiler

4. Roger Bernadina
5. Other (versitile infielder w some power ala DeRosa)

Steve M. said...

I am of the opinion that Lannan and his $5 million and Wang and his $4 million are your 4th and 5th starters barring a trade which sends Detwiler to the bullpen.

You hope Wang's arm/shoulder stays healthy and you now have Gorzo and Det in the bullpen as your emergency starters.

There is now reliever with options and Rizzo made a good trade for Perry.

My hopes are that Lombardozzi is secretly taking some outfield practice. With his switch hitting capabilities, he is an asset.

I like that the Nats have the ability to go all rightie in the outfield with the addition of DeRosa and when Harper arrives will have a solid lefty outfield bat.

What's still missing is the one player who can push the Nats over that elusive 725 offensive run scored level. In 2011, the 725 runs would rank at 11th in the Majors. Keep in mind the Phillies scored 713 runs in 2011 and the Nats scored only 624.

While many thought the Nats didn't need to add pitching, Rizzo went in that direction. Maybe he thinks with a healthy Zim and LaRoche and more production from leadoff and the maturation of Espi and Ramos the Nats can improve by 15% on the offense.

We have to come to terms that Prince F'Bomb may not happen and Prince Oppo Boppo at 19 1/2 years isn't ready for Prime Time and the 25 man roster is set like Mark penciled it in.

Is this team if healthy better than last year "as is"? Yes. Can this team make the playoffs this year? Possibly.

Steve M. said...

markfd said...
Isn't this great, a training camp that can focus on getting everyone ready for the season instead of trying to figure out which invitee or minor leaguer makes the big club!!!

January 4, 2012 10:34 AM

Isn't that the truth!

JaneB said...

I agree that Jesus has the stuff to start in the bigs,dfl. But who backs up Wilson if he leaves, now that there is no more Norris? I see the most trade value in Lannan, of the three. I have sentimental attachment to him, but I'd rather see him traded and playing than camping out in Syracuse...even if he'd be right back up for us when Det doesn't stick.

Feel Wood said...

Put it this way, if there is a key series against Philly (or put in your team of choice) and Stras is available, does anyone really prefer someone else? I mean, would you really want Gio over Stras because you like the lefty/lefty matchups? That would be taking advanced stats to a ludicrous level, in my opinion anyway.

I would love to see JZimm get the opening day nod, as a reward for last year and because he will never get another opportunity (assuming Stras is healthy), but there seems no question who is #1.

It's a rotation, not a depth chart. You can't mix and match who starts the next game based on whether it's a "key" series or not. The next guy up gets the ball. And you certainly can't set up your rotation starting on opening day so the "right" guys will be pitching in a "key" series two or three or four months later. So get over all this obsession about who's #1, #2, #3, #4 or #5. They will probably set up the rotation so there's alternate R-L-R as much as possible, and they'll probably start Strasburg on Opening Day because he's the "best" pitcher with the longest presence on the team, and certainly the most hyped. But if they do something different, the world will not end, and over the course of a 162 game season it won't make a bit of difference.

Bowdenball said...


Another reason to start someone other than Strasburg on Opening day, and for tempering expectations on his impact, is the innings limit. As great as his stuff is, there's only so much you can do for your club in 150 innings. It is amazing how he's getting lost in the shuffle, though. Since 2009 we've been waiting to see what Strasburg can do over a season, or at least most of one. Now we're finally gonna get to see it three years later, after a year delay due to the surgery. Nats fans should be positively giddy about the possibilities and the chance to see him pitch every five days.

Anonymous said...

As Call me Crazy threw out there above, I would be all for the Nats getting Pierre on a 1-2 year deal to play LF, moving Morse to RF and keeping Werth in CF for now. A true lead off guy makes the club legit and Harper, unless he's dead bolt lock ready in ST, should stay on the farm to play every day for the short term and avoid Super 2.

Pierre gets on and gets in scoring position about as well as anyone available, they would not have to break the bank to get him nor sign him to some contract that blocks the way for anyone in the pipe, as Morse is likely playing 1B in 2013.

This lineup likely scores better than average runs . . .

Pierre L
Espi S
Zim R
LaRoche/Morse L/R
Morse/LaRoche R/L
Werth R
Desmond R
Ramos R

We'll see what they come up with.


Steve M. said...

I agree with Feel Wood on the rotation. Most likely a R-L-R-L-R. The key to this team isn't whether JZim is 1st or 3rd or Stras, it is starting out strong as the April schedule looks to be the easiest the Nats have seen in a long time.

greg said...

pierre is terrible. just awful now. i think lots of people get into scoring position better than pierre (unless you're talking about circa 2004 pierre, but he's not available right now).

his OBP last year was 329 (and on a consistent 3 year decline). he had 27 steals, but 17 CS (ugh). a 61% success rate (yikes). he ran himself out of scoring position more than half as often as he ran himself into it.

he's not a great defensive player to make up for it, either.

again, 2002-2008 or so, sure. 2012? not so much.

once you add in the complete and total lack of power, he's really no better than bernadina. or probably cameron. or ankiel. i'd much rather try to bring back ankiel than sign pierre. at least ankiel is a defensive weapon and can play all three OF positions.

Bowdenball said...

I'm with Greg. Pierre is no better than Bernadina. And at least Bernadina is only 27, so there's the faint hope of improvement. Pierre is 34. It's just gonna get worse for him.

The Dude Abides said...

How can we go from Prince Fielder and the playoff hunt to Juan "Friggin" Pierre in less than 24 hours.

We need some real baseball stuff.

Steve M. said...

Interesting on Juan Pierre. He is another rare Lefty that hits Lefties better than righties.

He will be 35 this year and last year was a stolen base liability. His speed certainly will regress further as will that OBP most likely.

Not too many great alternatives for the last bench spot but he does give you some added insurance.

I don't think you need another outfielder with Cameron already signed to a Minor League deal but if you are suggesting choosing between Pierre and Cameron, that's an interesting idea.

dfh21, I don't see Espi in the 2 hole until he proves he can shorten that swing.

NATural Gallery of Art said...

Great discussion. Couple of thoughts:

- Absolutely no way we get rid of Flores under any circumstances. Remember, when he got hurt, he was leading the team in hitting and RBI. he gives us the best 1-2 catcher lineup in the game, and he can compete with Ramos for the number 1 spot. Just watch.

- As my family took down all the Christmas decorations and the tree Monday, I put the Nats' last home game of 2011 on DVR. It was against the Braves, and as we all know, the Braves had everything on the line in that game. Detwiler was awesome. I love Lannan, but Lannan could never match what Detwiler did on this day, in a big situation. I believe Detwiler will beat out Lannan for a spot in the rotation.

- We know our SP, bullpen, and defense are going to be pretty good. The 2012 season will hinge on how much Werth, Espi, and Desi improve at the plate from 2011, especially their catastrophic levels of strikeouts.

- If the Nats truly want to win now, and I mean NOW, they get Fielder.

Theophilus said...

Juan Pierre hasn't been relevant since Manny Ramirez retired.

Jim Zurer said...

Okay...has this been suggested before?

Strasburg and Detweiler begin the season sharing a starting spot....Strasberg pitches the first five innings and Detweiler comes in for the final four. This conserves Strasburg's innings and keeps both around in a regular rotation until one of the other starters falter or get injured.

Seems crazy but maybe it might work.....

Steve M. said...

I was typing before I saw Greg's post. If I could choose between Ankiel and Pierre, I would choose Ankiel.

I am sure we are all a bit uneasy that all the eggs are in one basket with Desmond at leadoff. If Desmond gives us what we saw the last 45 days of the season, then Davey has himself a very serviceable leadoff man.

Anonymous said...

Pierre's not the best lead off man in the game, but he does not cost anything in trade and he's available at a reasonable salary and he's just not terrible. Juan Pierre is far form ideal and his game has flaws, of course, but his worst OBP (.326 in 2005) is better than Desmond's best. He K's about 1 time for every 3 of Ian's K's too. He puts the ball in play and he gets hits -- he's never hit less than .275. He's durable and the three year decline in OBP notwithstanding his simple average OBP over the 3 years is still .345. He gets caught stealing way too often, sure, but he'd run much less under Davey in any event. He's a masterful bunter and he plays an at least adequate LF according to the advanced metric BS.

For Coco Crisp money, maybe less, and maybe a 1 year deal, what's not to like about this guy for the Nats?


NatsJack in Florida said...

And everyone has to keep in mind that Desmond has been a Davey Johnson promotion ever since Davey joined the Nats. He's been Desi's biggest promoter and is the one that put him back at leadofff.

Nattydread said...

Holding try outs for Desmond and/or Lombardozzi in CF makes about as much sense place holding Werth there. If Desmond establishes his bat (a big IF), then you have to find a place for him in the line up until a legit CF is found.

It was done with Soriano and changed his career for good. Desmond is going to be blocking better infielders fairly soon (Rendon, Lombardozzi), so, if he doesn't change positions, he will have to be shipped or benched in the next few years.

Anonymous said...

Stras not being the No 1 is simply crazy. You get your best guy to the hill as early and often as you can. Thinking about saving his possible starts for the end of the season when the team might be out of it because they did not use him when they could have is wacked.

Davey might get the last 45 games worth of Desmond at lead off or he might get the prior 280+ games where Ian has struggled mightily. Odds on Ian's last 45 games starting a real trend at this relatively late stage in his career -- not good.

Ankiel is a risk reward guy, not the kind of player that the Nats need right now as they finally have a real roster. He's a Jim Bowden type flyer at this point. He MIGHT blossom and be something very nice, but it is not anything close to a given that he's even likely to be better than the average joe. I see him in Oakland or Seatlle. Some place where they can rsik AB's on him.

Feel Wood said...

We have to come to terms that Prince F'Bomb may not happen

Yes, but if you consider the ways it may not happen it almost makes it seem more likely it will happen. There is no denial that the Nats are in on Fielder, and clearly they are willing to pay the price unless it is something totally ridiculous. Boras wants to exceed Pujols's contract, but that is ridiculous. More reasonable would be to match or slightly exceed Pujols's AAV, with more years than Ryan Howard and perhaps the same or one more year than Werth. Probably Boras would want an opt-out clause after 3-5 years. The Nats would pay that price, because wasn't the whole point of overpaying for Werth to get their foot in the door for future free agents? If they weren't prepared to pay a reasonable albeit high price for a future signing, why stick your foot in the door with Werth?

So the only way Fielder doesn't sign with the Nats is if some other team does make him a totally ridiculous offer. But who would do that? Consider the other teams that are rumored to be in on Prince. Seattle? As long as Boras can get him a reasonable contract with a better team, there's no amount of money that will get Fielder there - just like Teixiera with the Nats in 2009. Texas? Maybe if they don't sign Darvish - but they will most likely sign Darvish. Baltimore? See Seattle. Cubs? Theo seems to be in rebuilding mode, so making an Angels-like play for Fielder doesn't make sense. And if he did want to do that, Pujols would have been the better choice, to stick it to the Cards.

So who's left? Toronto and "mystery team." The Blue Jays could do it, but latest word is they might rather wait for Votto (a Canadian) in two years. And the next time a mystery team signs a Boras client will be the first.

So given that, does Fielder to DC really seem all that remote a possibility?

greg said...

pierre for $7m? seriously? (yes, crisp signed for $7m and $6m with a $1m buyout). it would have to be much less. much much less.

i'd rather pay cody ross $7m.

i just don't think we should get overly obsessed with the idea of needing a good leadoff guy to the point where we force something that takes away from the rest of the team just to make someone fit into that spot.

pierre just isn't good enough to be anything more than a 4th/5th OF, at best, any more. even that seems like it's pushing it, since he has no upside, only decline in his future. speed doesn't age well.

Feel Wood said...

Strasburg and Detweiler begin the season sharing a starting spot....Strasberg pitches the first five innings and Detweiler comes in for the final four.

No way they would do that. Strasburg is not in rehab mode any more, just like Zimmermann wasn't in rehab mode last year. They are not going to send him out there knowing he only has five innings. They want him to pitch as deep into a game as possible, with a reasonable pitch count, just like any other starter. He'll do that for as many games as it takes to hit his innings limit, and then they'll shut him down. Just like they did with Zimmermann.

Wally said...

Bowdenball - I agree, that would also be a way to 'sell' it to Stras. To me, the opening day pitcher has limited significance (pitching on the day itself doesn't mean much (to me), but there is data supporting that the '#1' pitcher, due to off days, rain outs, etc gets a few more starts during the course of a season than the others, particularly the '5", so I suppose it matters a little). But it may be important to the pitcher involved to receive the symbolic acknowledgement. So I think that they need to do a little recon to make sure that he wouldn't be offended by giving it to JZimm.

But it has really been amazing how well Stras has pitched so far, and sometimes I think we overlook it, because we are focusing on the next big thing. Since people use #1 starter as a code for 'best pitcher', I really was just saying how surprised I was that anyone could plausibly argue for Gio or even JZimm, as much as I like him.

Steve M. said...

I was thinking if they took a shot on Pierre $1 million tops. The reasoning is someone has to be DFA'd most likely when Prince Oppo Boppo comes up in June/July.

MicheleS said...

Back to the PF Flyer and LaRoche.

Lasdon has a quote from him and I think it shows what a good guy he is.

"All I can tell you is, I don't hold any grudges either way," LaRoche said via phone on Tuesday night. "If [Fielder doesn't sign with the Nationals] and I'm the guy, I'll be out there every day and [will] do everything I possibly can. If it does [happen] and I need to move on -- hey, it's a business move. They are trying to put the best possible team on the field. I think they feel like their time is now to get to the top of the division. Hopefully, I'll be a part of it. If not, that's life."

Will said...

I agree. Personally, I'd like the Nats to give Harper a shot at CF in Syracuse to start the season.

Just imagine with Harper's bat, if he could stick at CF. He could easily become one of the best CFs in the game, and recent past. AND it would solve all our problems. No OF log jam, and we could sign Fielder!

Everyone says Harper is incredibly athletic, so why not give CF a shot? Worst case is he does poorly, and the Nats can switch him back to one of the corner spots.

Anonymous said...

Pierre's upside is scoring 100+ runs in 2012. Not sure he's the right guy for hte Nats, but how does his addition take away from the rest of the team?? He's light years better than Ian Desmond.

Binx Bolling said...

Despite the signing of LaRosa, a better infielder than outfielder, I think infielder Jeff Keppinger is worth signing. Until his half-season in 2011 with the offensive death spiral in San Francisco, Keppinger always has had an On-Base-Percentage over .300 with a lifetime OBP of .332. He can play shortstop if Desmond slumps.

Regarding a potential scenario of trading Desmond, switching Espinosa to shortstop with Lombardozzi given the second-base job, it would seem likely that Davey Johnson will get his way and Desmond will start the year at short and lead-off, Espinosa will play second once again, and Lombardozzi will either be part of a trade or start the season in Syracuse. Desmond is Johnson's man and might even be Rizzo's man. But what happens if the Nats struggle early and Desmond's OBP is less than .300 in mid-May? Is Desmond even tradeable at that point? Would the Nats have the temerity to option Desmond to Syracuse?

Will said...

If Juan Pierre could play SS, then I'd be all for signing him. Except he can't. He can only play one of the easiest positions in the game. The same position where big, immobile power hitters play, and don't have to do too much. To top it off, he's not even very good defensively! Over 3 full seasons in LF, he's almost exactly average.

Put it all together, and you have an average defender with the weakest bat in all of baseball, who can get on base at about league average. That amounts to a really awful baseball player.

greg said...

if pierre had the same number of PAs that desmond did last year (pierre: 711; desmond: 639) and you multiplied that difference to his runs scored (80), you end up with 71 runs. which, granted, is six more than desmond. but it doesn't seem like much of a runs scored upgrade, does it? light years? i don't think so.

i'm not sold that desmond will be a great (or even particularly good) leadoff hitter. i just think people really overrate pierre. he was very good in his heyday. but it's not his heyday any more.

Marty said...

How much is Bernadina set to make this year?

Maybe Rizzo has decided to sit tight and wait for the Cubs to decide they want to shed payroll and trade Byrd to us for Cutter Dykstra?

The Joker said...

A brainstorm is overhead. Tug Hulett for utility. Plays everywhere, son of a player, and has a lifetime minor league OBP of .383.

Steve M. said...

Will said...
I agree. Personally, I'd like the Nats to give Harper a shot at CF in Syracuse to start the season.

Just imagine with Harper's bat, if he could stick at CF. He could easily become one of the best CFs in the game, and recent past. AND it would solve all our problems. No OF log jam, and we could sign Fielder!

Everyone says Harper is incredibly athletic, so why not give CF a shot? Worst case is he does poorly, and the Nats can switch him back to one of the corner spots.

January 4, 2012 12:01 PM

Glad you brought this up because I thought when the Nats signed Werth that the plan was BHarp in CF. It was a little suprising to me last year that he wasn't the full-time CF as he was basically a corner outfielder. He has the speed, certainly the arm and just needs reps. I have to believe early in his career he could handle the rigors of CF and then moves to RF when Werth moves to the bench full-time.

It sure would have been nice to be projecting BHarp in CF.

greg said...

and hulett has a lifetime *major* league OBP of 270 (granted, only 241 ABs).

i think, as far as harper in CF, what i've seen (and i don't have links) said the team didn't think he would last in CF for more than a couple of years and that it might take him a little longer to get to the majors than if they just put him on a corner to learn OF. they wanted his bat sooner, so he's on the corner.

i think he could learn to be a decent CF, but he's a big guy and will only get bigger, and his long-term OF prognosis will be corner.

Section 222 said...

My prediction for opening rotation-- Zimmermann (OD away, reward for 2011 performance), Gio (slot between Znn and Stras, introduce to Nats Park OD sellout crowd), Strasburg (guarantees a big crowd in the home opening series on Friday night, and also lines him up to start the exhibition game vs. the Bosox in Nats Park on Apr. 3), Detwiler (no options), Wang (no way he's in the bullpen). Lannan optioned to AAA, (comes up when Wang or Det develop "arm trouble" or an actual injury, or traded).

Bullpen -- Storen, Clipp, H-Rod, Burnett, Gorzalany, Matheus, Stammen or an acquisition/surprise good showing in ST).

Now, assuming no Prince, but hope springs eternal, and @FeelWood I love your analysis:

Bench -- Flores (if not traded), DeRosa,
veteran utility infielder (Lombo to Syracuse).

That leaves two bench slots to fill. Maybe Cameron gets the nod for an OF bench slot, but it's hard to believe Rizzo signed him thinking he'd be our CF, even as a platoon. I saw him as AAA filler and injury insurance. Bernadina probably starts the season in CF, becomes the 4th outfielder when they bring Harper up. I still think a move for another outfielder/bench bat is possible with Flores, Lannan, and Bernadina being possible trade bait.

As for the idea that keeps popping up of Desmond or Lombo or some other weak hitting infielder learning CF-- Ridiculous. Soriano was moved to LF because he had a huge bat and they wanted to find a place for him to play. Desmond and Lombo have tiny bats, unfortunately. It makes even less sense to have a weak hitting CF than it does a weak hitting SS or 2B.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Harper in CF: "worst case" is not that he does poorly. Worst case is, you break him. Center is harder to play, and they get hurt more often. If he blows out his hamstring and misses half a season, that would be a problem. That said, Harper in center would solve some other problems. He wouldn't even have to be all that good at it.

greg said...

btw, CF is *not* a power position. there are all of 5 CFs with an OPS over 800 in MLB (kemp, ellsbury, granderson, victorino, mccutcheon). six if you include hamilton. out of 32 teams.

Steve M. said...

Sec3, agreed on Harper. He isn't built as a CF but given his age, it would have been nice to have him there as a stop gap and give the Nats options.

On July 1st you have to figure Morse LF Werth CF and BHarp RF.

Harper probably bats 7th and Davey will figure it out from there.

Maybe as Will suggested they have BHarp in Syracuse in CF. I don't think it will happen or they would have tried it already.

Anonymous said...

Will -- Juan Pierre is awful? A career .296 avg/.345 OBP guy, 500 SB's close to 1,000 Runs, who's stayed healthy and played well in the post season and who plays by your admission adequate LF D. He hit .279/.325 last year. Is that awful? He scored 80 runs; how many runs does he score if Adam Dunn hit even .220? He's been as consistent as any player in baseball over his career. All he has ever done is produce well as a lead off guy. He's not Ricky Henderson, but what makes the guy awful?? You can argue that he's not worth it or that Desmond should get the role and can do it, or whatever, but when you start calling a guy who has never been anything close to awful, awful, you're showing yourself to be a cockeyed contrarian of sorts.

Anonymous said...

Harper to CF risks a lot of bad things in hopes of only getting a stop gap solution, as I don't think anyone projects the kid as a CF and he was a catcher not long ago. If they think Werth can do the job most nights for now in CF, then they should go with that. It might be worth grabbing a glove first guy like Corey Patterson and batting him 8th if they really think that they need the leather over the bat. They have some options in any event.


greg said...

his career numbers are good. but we're not talking about his career, we're talking about 2012.

maybe "awful" is too strong a word, but you're right that "not worth it" or "desmond should get the role over him" or even "he's not really needed on this team" or "we can find more useful 4th OFs" might be better descriptions.

the suggestion that he should be signed for anything close to what crisp was signed for (even for just one year) was crazy.

there are more useful guys out there worth signing. as i said before, i think ankiel would be more useful, since he's significantly better defensively and can still play CF. trading OBP for power and gaining defense. bernadina is relatively comparable offensively (slightly lower), but younger and less expensive (and at least might get better). cody ross would likely provide more offense (again, the trade of power for speed) and, like ankiel, can play all three OF slots.

i see pierre as someone way down the line for the nats. there's just not a lot of upside to that signing. and i think the people who are pushing that direction are looking at those career stats you posted and thinking of what he was 3-5 years ago instead of what he will be in 2012.

Will said...

Anonymous. It is absolutely useless using Pierre's career statistics to illustrate his level of play. Ivan Rodriguez can no longer be expected to put up his career average .296/.334/.464 slash. Neither can Pierre be expected to match numbers he put up 10 years ago.

Please, also don't use runs as an indication of talent. All it says is that the batters hitting behind him were good. It has nothing to do with Pierre, unless he stole home 80 times.

Juan Pierre is good for .275/.330/.320. If you think that a .650 OPS to play average corner outfield defense is anything other than awful, then I don't know what else I can say.

Who was the worst starting LF last year? Answer that question, then I'll get back to you.

Wally said...

Will said...Anonymous. It is absolutely useless using Pierre's career statistics to illustrate his level of play.

Only because he played the first half of his career in the dead ball era. After that it is ok.

Harper Gordek had an interesting take on the financial impacts of signing Fielder.

Anonymous said...

Greg -- I hear you, Juan Pierre is not the kind of guy that brings fear to the hearts of opposing pithcers, but if Desmond cannot lead off well, and there is a lot of reason to suspect that he cannot, then a guy like Pierre would be a Godsend for the club to have in tow. There just aren't a lot of reliable lead off guys around, not to mention guys who can be had in FA right now on short term deals.

Desmond may have the chops, but it's far from a dead bolt lock. And if Desmond does well, Pierre could hit very well in the 2 hole (Werth and Espinosa have power better suited to lower in the order). Pierre might be the best bunter in baseball and makes contact as well as anyone. Great OBp and speed at the top two spots would be huge for our RBI guys.

There's a reason why winning clubs keep looking to this guy; he's valuable. I agree that he is not the ideal player for the Nats to add, but I think that the bulk of his game makes him a very good fit for the 2012 Nats as they currently shake out. We'll see what the club does. Like I said way above, I think that the roster's due for a shake-up via some trade(s).


Bowdenball said...


I see you describing Pierre using words like "reliable" and "great OBP" and "speed" and "winning clubs" and I'm wondering if maybe you have him confused with someone else.

He's 34 and his only useful skills have been in decline for years now. This is no place for a .650 corner outfielder who gets caught stealing far too often on a winning baseball team, period. There's a reason he had a negative WAR last year, and most guys don't bounce back at age 35.

If I hadn't enjoyed your comments here so often in the past I'd be wondering if you were has agent right now.

Anonymous said...

I think the Nats brass have made it clear that they're not going for a stopgap leadoff/CF a la Pierre. They've said all along that if they didn't get what they wanted, they feel comfortable with Desi leading off and Werth playing CF, if necessary. Whether the fans feel comfortable with it or not is a different story, but they're been pretty consistent with that line all winter.

All to say, if they had been thinking stopgap, Coco would have been a much better target than Pierre, and they didn't even sneeze at him, so I don't see them making a run for Juan.

Anonymous said...

Mike Rizzo would turn cartwheels if he could get .275/.330/.320 out of Ian Desmond in 2012. The Nats don't need power from a corner OF, they need a lead off hitter. Was Pierre the worst lead off guy in baseball last year? Not by a long shot. And it is mindblowingly funny stuff for you to say that a guy's career stats can't be used to show his level of play. Track records mean nothing, I guess. Sure Pudge and his steroid-bolstered game from years of yore cannot replicate the career stats at age 40+ and after he's had 3-4 years of lousy performance, but Pierre's 35 and his game has not fallen off the table by any measure. Hate on Pierre all you want, but just admit to being wrong when you're wrong. He's got much better odds to succeed as a lead off man than Ian Demsond and his 40 games of glory from late last season have got. Pierre just aint awful, though your selection of that adjective to describe him may be.

The Dude Abides said...

No.... Pierre just ain't awful.... He's old and awful.

Will said...

Pierre doesn't have a great OBP.

The average OBP over the last two seasons was .323. Pierre's OBP over that same period was .335 (and only .329 last season). That's nothing special.

Pat Burrell, Johnny Damon, JD Drew, Kosuke Fukudome, Scott Hairston, Rick Ankiel, Raul Ibanez and Cody Ross would all be better options than Pierre, and they're all still free agents.

MicheleS said...

So when does Rick Ankiel give up and realize he is not going to start for any team (or at least one that is going to contend)?

Tcostant said...

Cross another CF off the list, can't see why the Nationals didn't bid at this level?

Will said...


What makes a good lead off hitter?

An aging corner outfielder with no power, diminishing speed, and average OBP? In that case, then you're right Juan Pierre is the best guy for the job.

The Dude Abides said...

In the year of 2012 (and it is 2012).... I'll take Roger Bernadina over Juan Pierre 100 times out of 100.

How many "Best Plays of 2011" was Pierre in?

Heck... I might take Willie Harris over Juan Pierre..... and The White Sox might do that, too.

greg said...

he might be thrilled to get 275/330/320 from a SS position. he shouldn't be to get that out of a corner OF position.

track records are fine, but recent history is what matters, not a full career. i'm not sure what you're seeing from the last 2-3 years of pierre, but i don't see anything worth signing there as more than a 5th OF. and i think bernadina is fine in that role. a 35 yr old 5th OF to play the corners with no power doesn't do much for me.

if he could play a quality defensive CF, we might be having a completely different conversation. but he can't, so i don't see him as a good fit. we don't need a light-hitting, league-avg OBP, 61% SB success-rate corner OF.

on a side note, "best plays" are not the best way to judge defensive performance. often those "great plays" in the OF are because the OF got a bad jump or took a bad route to start with. i want the guy who can make the good play every day.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Anybody that doesn't realize that the Nats want to get their CF'er next season doesn't realize that Scott Boras represents Michael Bourne.

And MicheleS..... Boras will work for Ankiel and try to find someone that will give him a regular position but since all of us (including Boras) knows that won't happen, there's a chance he'll return to the Nats.

Anonymous said...

Bowdenball -- ha. I am willing to take a commission should they ink him.

If you compare Pierre to corner OF's, he's not a good play, I get it. But as an add to this club right now, I think he's worth a shot. He is durable and he has always gotten on base pretty well and he has played for a bunch of winning clubs. His downside is pretty tolerable, he might accpet a reserve role and he would not demand big bucks or long term commitment. His skills even in decline are arguably better than anyone the Nats have to hit at the top of the order. Getting caught stealing is a big problem, but Davey can apply the breaks too. And how much bouncing back does the guy need to be doing? His last year stat line of .279 and a .325 OBP mostly from lead off, not to mention a big stack of sacrifices, would have been nice to have last year for the Nats, no? And he K's very rarely -- how nice would that change of pace be for the whiffing to beat the band Nats? I dunno -- I don't love the guy, I am not sculping a statue of Juan Pierre in my front yard, but I would be happy if they inked him on a one year deal. The guy brings skills to the table that the club lacks and at small little risk.


From my cold, dead hands said...

So when does Rick Ankiel give up and realize he is not going to start for any team (or at least one that is going to contend)?

His agent is Scott Boras. What do you think?

The Dude Abides said...

Yep. That catch against Dunn in Chicago taking away a home run and the one where Stanton screamed one over his head to CF were "recovery" plays. Bad routes my ---.

Steve M. said...

Hindsight is an amazing quality. Its easy to do. Foresight is what makes the great GMs great. Luck is that great crossroad that shines for some and ruins others.

Yes, we all have said it. Rizzo doesn't have a safety net underneath him if Desmond fails.

If I were doing things, I would have signed Coco Crisp as my safety net or instead of trading away Peacock, AJ Cole, Norris and Milone for Gio I would have dangled a few of them out there for Alex Gordon who I believe could have been had for a large package of Top 10 prospects that would've been hard for the Royals not to consider on Gordon who only has 2 years left of team control.

What's done is done and Rizzo is in a waiting game for Prince F'Bomb who can change all of the near-term fortunes as his addition in slash-line upside exceeds what an Alex Gordon could bring and Gordon could still be available at a cheaper price in the future if the Nats still need him as in they don't get Prince Fielder and Morse moves to 1st. Problem is, now the Nats have a much depleted Farm System.

Bowdenball said...


OK, I'm starting to see your thinking. If he could play all three OF positions I could definitely see him being a useful piece, but he can't. That's my concern. He doesn't have the arm for right and for whatever reason he hasn't played center since 2009 and hasn't played it regularly since 2007. If you have him on the 25 man roster, he can only start when Morse or maybe the 1B needs a day off (since you can maybe slide Morse to 1B on those days). He can pinch-hit, but only in certain situations, like leading off an inning or maybe when there's a man on third and less than two outs and you just need non-double play contact.

If there's room on the 25 man roster for a guy like that and he comes super cheap on a one year deal, sure, welcome to D.C. I'm not sure that there is, though.

Anonymous said...

To be fair on Pierre, how many guys do you think have been above league average in OBP over each of the last 3 years and at more than 2,000 AB's? The consistency is important.

Steve M. said...

NatsJack in Florida said...
Anybody that doesn't realize that the Nats want to get their CF'er next season doesn't realize that Scott Boras represents Michael Bourne.

And MicheleS..... Boras will work for Ankiel and try to find someone that will give him a regular position but since all of us (including Boras) knows that won't happen, there's a chance he'll return to the Nats.

January 4, 2012 1:47 PM

Quiet, some Anon will skewer you for saying that. A few days ago he said Bourn's best days are behind him.

Good news is we will see how Bourn does this year. I hope he does stink, since he plays for Atlanta.

MicheleS said...

I keep forgetting that everything with the Nats leads back to Boras! UGH.

Will said...

By the way, Pierre has a career W/L of 979-965. Over a season, that average out to 81.6-80.4.

So nope, not a "winner" either, whatever that means.

greg said...

the dude: when i make a sweeping generalization, using two specific, anecdotal examples does not make the sweeping generalization invalid. :P

besides, i'm not saying the shark is a bad defender, only that you can't use 1-2 sparkling defensive plays to define whether someone is a great defender (or the lack there of saying someone is a poor defender). you have to look at the full body of work.

otherwise you might pull a bowden and see 1-2 prolific, towering home runs from willy mo pena and decide he's the next frank howard.

i'm with bowdenball on pierre. he's just not versatile enough (and i completely forgot about what a noodle-arm he has, which i think is part of why he's no longer playing much, if any, CF) to really serve the nationals' needs here. the way others that have been pointed out would (ankiel and ross can play all three OF spots).

Anonymous said...

Bowdenball -- my thinking is that Pierre is great Desmond insurance, he's only going to demand a 1 year deal, he plays LF every day until Harper comes up in late June and bats 1 1 or 2 (allowing Werth to hit 6th), if he's playing so well that they don't know what to do to get him out of the lineup then that is a good problem to have, and the downside is that he's a touch worse than league avergae for getting on and that he hits .270 with little pwoer, is that so terrible? And after Harper comes to town, Pierre's a decent enough bench guy (pinch runner plus some stop gap LF starts) or could maybe be moved easily enough if they are not in it at hte end of July. The club has decent power bats off the bench in Cameron and DeRosa already and Pierre's add would still leave room for a LHB on the roster, I think. Like I said, I am not advocating that this is the move to beat all moves, but I think it is not a dumbass thing either.


Be careful what you wish for said...

Suppose the Nats sign Pierre to a one year deal and he ends up playing the whole season in the OF, with respectable production, thereby keeping Harper in AAA until September. Sort of a reprise of the Guzman-blocking-Desmond-and/or-Espinosa scenario of 2010. Gotta respect the vets and all that. Then how do you feel about Pierre?

Steve M. said...

One guy who will come into Spring Training in great shape is Bernadina. He's working out hard again in Holland and his legs are feeling great. Remember he had the broken ankle which was still aching some last year.

Davey likes Bernadina and I believe if Bernie is used in a platoon with Cameron until Prince Oppo Boppo is ready, the results will be surprisingly good. Cameron is not going to be an every day player and this solves CF until BHarp is ready.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

MicheleS said...
So when does Rick Ankiel give up and realize he is not going to start for any team (or at least one that is going to contend)?

To answer your question, probably not before March, sometime. Maybe May.

Anonymous said...

Wow! The player's team's W/L record has been pulled out? Pierre's clubs are only slightly above .500? How does Ryan Zimmerman fair on that truly Bill James inspired test?? Will, relax man, it is ok, you can be worng once in a while, we still respect you.

Binx Bolling said...

If LaRoche was gone, Fielder is not signed and Morse is moved to first, Pierre would be a fine signing for left. Leads off. Can steal a base yet his steal PCT slipped badly last year. And the decline is probably permanent due to age. If you wanted a Pierre on the cheap, Scott Podsednik awaits Rizzo's call.

Will said...

You were the one extolling his great talent of scoring runs.

I was merely trying to dispel the myth that he was a winner or played for good teams, and that somehow indicated anything about his talent level.

But it seems to me that it's just you and dfh21 advocating for Pierre and just about everyone else claiming it's a dumb idea. I guess we're all wrong?

But I'll leave you to argue your point. "His OBP was .374 8 years ago!", "He can score runs!" and "He used to play centerfield!" It's very compelling....

Anonymous said...

It's more compelling than "he's awful".

Anonymous said...

I am not exactly advocating for Pierre so much as I am someone who can bring top of the order skills. Podsednik might work too. I would have liked DeJesus and I loved Coco for his add of the nice glove. The club has a lot of guys who swing for the fences and not enough guys who can play small ball. I love Lombo's small ball game, but he's blocked and untested. And even if Desmond hits well at lead off, the club's 2 hole guy is who? Werth or Espi, and I am guessing that both of the guys are likely better suited to hit down in the order. Will and the Anon person can duke it out over Juan all they want, I have much less of a horse in this race as I may have let on.


DFL said...

RE: Anonymous' comment above
Teams Josh Reddick has played on have a better Won-Lost PCT better than those of Ryan Zimmerman. Should the Nats trade Zimmerman for Reddick?

Comment unrelated to thread's original topic. It has been said that Lombardozzi didn't handle major league pitching in his limited call-up last September. Similarly, Dustin Pedroia hit .191 in his limited call-up as a 22 year old. He improved. So might Lombardozzi.

Steve M. said...

Lombo's sample size was so small that you can't draw any conclusion just like a September callup who hits .340. There is potential there but clearly no permanent spot right now. Again, would love to see him learn LF and be a DeRosa clone plus Lombo can switch-hit.

Mark'd said...

Hard to imagine any more trades occurring at this time unless Rizzo is preemptively shopping LaRoche. I see Mark's list as the viable options until the Prince Fielder drama sorts out in the next 2 weeks.

Mark'd said...

By the way, i would love to see 3 Lefties in the pen.

Anonymous said...

Interesting conversations. I suggested Juan Pierre as a 1-yr fix for leadoff spot but I didn't indicate I'd pay him $7M. He's not worth that sum and he's lucky if some will sign him for more that $1-$3M. The Nats need a CF and leadoff hitter in the future and while there are some good CF/Leadoff Free Agents next year,the Nats are not the location for Free Agents at this time. Therefore, unless they are willing to overpay for a Free Agent next year, they will have this problem again, and again. Also,believing GMs like Rizzo when they say that they are not interested in something is like believing a politican about a campaign promise. Remember,Rizzo was the man who said that they were not interested in Fielder but it appears that Scott Boros & Nats are talking!! Also, Rizzo signed both Mike Cameron(R) and Chad Tracey(L)to minor league contracts WITH AN INVITATION TO SPRING TRAINING. These two veterans didn't sign those contracts without some "understanding" that if they had a average-good training camp that they would be added to the 25-man roster or they could walk. Tracey(1B/3B/OF)is the insurance policy if the Nats didn't sign Greg Dobbs(which appears they won't)as a LHH-PH. And Cameron is the platoon alternative with Bernadina in LF and RHH-PH against LHP which means that Werth plays CF. That situation changes ONLY IF DESMOND CAN"T PRODUCE IN LEADOFF SPOT in which case Rizzo would have to "reconsider" his short-term fix statement. And Juan Pierre may be the best alternative available.

Call Me the Crazy GM

Bowdenball said...


I'm not sure I understand what you would do with Pierre. I mean I understand the notion of a top of the order guy, although I think at this point in his career I think Bernadina can give you similar numbers, maybe even better numbers if you account for power. But where would you play Pierre? In CF, I guess? That's a lot to ask of a guy who hasn't played there regularly since 2007.

Unkyd said...

Hi, all! Backpedaling to yesterday's payroll discussion, if I may... Might there beca balance between the A's/Rays formula of selling everybody for prospects, before they get expensive, and the Yanks/Bosox way of signing/keeping the guys nobody else can afford? It seems to me that a clever GM could manage to keep 2-4 of his Besties on the roster, and turnover enough serviceable vets to keep a steady supply of youngsters fighting for spots on the 25 man, no? I didn't see anyone broach this angle, in the prior thread, but perhaps its obvious enough to not warrant mention... I could see that approach leading to a sustainably competitive team, at a payroll somewhere between middle-of-the-pack and stratosphere.

greg said...

one thing that dawned on me as i'm reading this... if pierre is playing LF, and werth is in CF, who's playing RF? i'm not sure morse has ever played RF, nor if he has the arm to be successful there.

as long as laroche (or, if he's signed, prince) is at 1B, the LF is morse. if werth moves to CF, we need someone who can play RF every day, not LF. and pierre's noodle arm will not allow him to be successful in RF defensively.

gonatsgo said...

Just came up for air at work. Whew - lots of posts for a cold day in January. re lead-off:if they decide it's going to be Desi then they have to put him there from the beginning, coach him constantly on the job of a lead-off hitter and then have the patience to leave him in there and let him learn. It will take a couple of seasons at least for him to be any good at it. Even good baseball players need many reps and lots of time to adjust to positions and roles. Ankiel is a fairly inexperienced hitter, having been a pitcher - Morse is a fairly inexperienced outfielder, having come up as a short stop. Some of these guys have been learning the details of their jobs since they were kids. They are bound to be more automatic. Pitching will work itself out, outfield still bothers me. I think we have a green left fielder ( Morse), one good right fielder ( Werth) and Harper, who can probably handle right or left. I really like Bernie in center - he is poetry in motion out there. Still leaves us with - ???? It just doesn't add up well. I think they see what happens this season and go for a center fielder next year. Patchwork outfield this year, I think -- also a kind of sudden death of "what have you done for us lately". Who gets voted off the outfield first?

Anonymous said...

Greg - didn't Morse play right his first season with us?

Anonymous said...

Bowdenbll -- I am thinking Pierre in LF, Morse in RF, and Werth in CF, with Cameron and Bernadina as bench guys. So, Pierre's ability to ony play LF is not such a big deal as they have a bunch of guys who can play RF or CF. Morse should be able to play RF for the bulk of half of a season until Harper comes to town.

Again, does not have to be Pierre so much as a guy who can bat lead off if Desmond stinks it up. They cannot throw Desmond out there and coach him for however long it takes to get good as a lead off man should he not get off to a good start, that's the kind of stuff for the minor leagues and his track record is lousy. The leash on Ian as top of the order material has to be a very short one if this club wants to compete.


BinM said...

Lombardozzi doesn't have the arm strength to play SS or 3rd on a regular basis, so the OF could be problematic. What he has is 1) great fundamentals for the IF (keeps the ball in front of him), 2) very sure/soft hands, 3) a quick throwing motion with repeatable accuracy (sets & throws from a 'squared-up' position, and knows when to 'eat' the occaisional grounder (something Desmond is still learning at 26).

Should Lombo hit reasonably well in Viera, he & DeRosa could make a nice pair off the bench, with Lombardozzi in the MI role, and DeRosa on the CI/COF positions.

Bowdenball said...


If you move Morse to RF you're downgrading our defense there, so you gotta add that to the cost/benefit calculation. You upgrade LF, but probably downgrade RF more, and all to add a leadoff guy who, at his age, probably isn't much better than Bernadina.

I agree that having Desmond leading off is problematic, but I don't see how this helps. There are plenty of leadoff guys available who can get on at a .325 clip while hitting for more power than Pierre and don't force a downgrade at RF. There might even me one or two already on the team. Bill James' projections at Fangraphs only have Bernadina's OBP at .006 less than Pierre, and that obviously gives us more power and keeps Morse in LF as well.

The leadoff problem is a tough one if you really care about the batting order, but ultimately lineup spots don't really matter all that much. You're talking about one out in the first inning and maybe a few dozen extra ABs over the course of an entire season. If it were up to me I'd have Werth do it, but I know that would never fly with the baseball traditionalists.

Sunderland said...

Unkyd, that hybrid payroll solution you are seeking to retain your really good players as they get into and past arb years could also include signing a few of them to long term deals early on.
Dangle guaranteed money ($40M / 8 years) in front of them while they are still in the period where they are year to year, and perhaps even still at league minimum.
Let's say you do this with:
You sign each of them for 7 - 8 years, buying out their arb years and also extending them 2 or 3 years into when they would normally become free agents.
It gives you cost certainty.
It's a risk on both sides, but it is one worth taking on a few players.

Anonymous said...

Bowdenball -- there is really no reason to suspect that Roger Berndina is now somehow much better than he was last year. He's not an every day MLB player at this point. Maybe that changes, but he's a long shot to be a productive guy for this club in other than a reserve role. Nice glove, no bat. Thsioe Fangrpahs predictions are meaningless right now -- they don;t even know what teams players are going to be on, what home parks, etc. I disagree that there are plenty of lead off guys available who can get on at a .325 clip. Who are you thinking of? Who else is out there that can lead off for the Nats in FA?

And the order does matter in my mind. I agree with the notion that a player's ability to hit is not so much affected by his place in the order generally but a player who puts the ball in play a ton, gets on more than average and who can score from first on a double is a guy with one skill set and Carlos Lee is another. Werth is a guy who can hit 30 HR's, 45 Doubles, having him blast away with no one on base does not make so much sense should there be someone they could get who has a decent chance to score in front of him, no?



greg said...

going back and looking at baseball reference, you're right, morse played some RF for us in 09/10.

still, i agree with bowdenball that doing that would be downgrading two or three OF positions defensively as we're moving two guys into positions they are less qualified to play (werth into CF and morse into RF) and putting someone who's average in LF if you bring in pierre.

again, i think the "leadoff hitter" can be overplayed a bit. yes, we would like to have someone better than desmond there. but finding someone marginally better and shoehorning them into a corner OF position really doesn't improve the team that much. i'd rather find someone who's just a better overall hitter and capable of playing all three OF spots. put them in RF (and maybe occasionally CF so werth isn't there every day) for now and turn them into the 4th OF when harper is ready. so someone like ross or ankiel is a better fit in my eyes. sure, they aren't leadoff hitters, but they fit the rest of the team needs better and offer more positional flexibility, which is more useful off the bench once they're 4th/5th OFs instead of starters.

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