Friday, March 26, 2010

Riggleman: Shortstop decision soon

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Cristian Guzman has looked OK throwing over the last week.
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals may not wait much longer before naming their starting shortstop.

Manager Jim Riggleman said today the club needs to make a decision between veteran Cristian Guzman and rookie Ian Desmond soon so the other can get some playing time at other positions before camp breaks a week from today.

"We need to make a call on it, probably soon," Riggleman said following the Nats' 7-4 victory over the Cardinals. "Just so that whoever we're not going to play there, we can say we're going to have to start moving around. Desmond hasn't played anything but short lately. Guzman hasn't played anything but short. If Guzman's the shortstop, we work Desmond out in other places, or we send him to the minor leagues. And if Desmond's the shortstop, then we work Guzman out in other places."

General manager Mike Rizzo has said more than once this spring that Desmond will play every day at shortstop this season, whether in Washington or at Class AAA Syracuse. Riggleman said last week there were no plans to move Guzman to second base.

Something, though, may have to give. Guzman, making $8 million in the final year of his contract with the club, is batting .233 (7-for-30) with one homer, four RBI and zero walks this spring. He's also still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and has yet to prove he can make a throw from his backhand side, though he's been throwing fine on balls hit right at him or to his left.

"He's playing fine," Riggleman said. "His style of throwing is not to get there on top and gun it. That's not what he does. But the ball's getting across the infield nicely. He's got good velocity on his throws. The throws have been from an area that have been at him and a little bit to his left. He hasn't been challenged to his right much. But Guzy's doing fine."

Desmond, meanwhile, is batting .300 (15-for-50) with a homer, a team-high 12 RBI and a .364 on-base percentage. The rookie has, however, made five errors during a spring that has seen him become a center of attention for media members, club officials and scouts from other organizations.

"Any time a young player is playing well, any camp is going to be like that," Riggleman said. "He's the guy in our camp, a young guy who's playing well that you get excited about because he plays with energy and athleticism. I don't think anybody's making too much out of it. But whatever it comes out to be is what it will be. We'll know that in the near future."


Steve M. said...

If Guzy is 100%, for the team's sake, they should have moved Desmond to Rightfield to get Rizzo off the hook.

If Guzy isn't 100%, then you go with Desmond.

With Morgan and Desmond and perhaps Tavares in the same lineup, these guys will drive the opposition CRAZY!!!!!!!

Steve M. said...

So Bernadina had another big game too. 2 for 4 with an RBI and 2 stolen bases!

He doesn't want to go away either!

Paul said...

hide Guzman on the DL! Please! He could never get on base and now he can't throw - that is not a productive player.

Anonymous said...

The Nats are going to have to pay Guzman $8 million either way, there's no reason to compound that problem by also playing him regularly given that he's the inferior player. It's a sunk cost; play the better player: Desmond.

peric said...

They can't trade Guzman. But Desmond's value is a lot higher trade-wise if he is a shortstop as opposed to a right fielder. And there is still Espinosa.

Something has to give its true. Based on MIke Rizzo's adamant quote that Desmond is a shortstop. Have to assume it has raised his value in other club's eyes.

Riggleman seems unable to see the broader picture: the Nats aren't competing for the world series, their farm system, to be kind, is sparse of prospects, not all that much at the major league level ... they are still rebuilding.

Mr. Doggett said...

I know that as a blogger, I have no real credibility, but I know a source who has connections in the organization and I heard that Desmond is going to be starting and that Guzie will be the utility man.

For what it's worth, I just thought I'd throw it out there.

Anonymous said...

The fact that Bernadina is a leftie and came to camp to win a spot is a testament to his hard work.

Bernadina should be rewarded for all of his efforts with no less than a spot on the 25 man!

Tavares has had years to prove himself in the Majors and has been on the decline. Bernadina now can play small ball and can really step it up.

alm1000 said...

Just say no to Taveres. If he makes the team that speaks very poorly for the team.

Taveres over Dukes - that's a joke.

BinM said...

alm1000: Have to agree with you regarding Taveras. He's this year's Corey Patterson, imo - good spring training, has speed & experience, can cover CF, but will roll over & die at the plate once pitchers start throwing a diet of breaking balls.
I'd rather see Bernadina (as a LH option), or Maxwell (as a RH defensive replacement) make the roster.

BinM said...

peric: A point or three of clarification.

1) Guzman can be traded, but as a 10/5 player, he would have to approve it.
1a) Espinosa is not yet ready for "prime-time"; He needs at least another year at the A+/AA level to develop further as a hitter, imo.
2) Desmond is probably ready as a hitter, but is not a MLB-caliber shortstop on an every-day basis defensively. His minor-league fielding numbers, as well as his Viera stats make this clear. I think that's why Rizzo hesitates about the MLB assignment.

Anonymous said...

If the Nats insist on getting their money's-worth and play a deficient Guzman at short, then Desmond MUST be played at RF.

Also: what is it? Day 10? And still no internet rumors that somebody/anybody is interested in Dukes!?!
Will those who have been drinking the Rizzo hater-aide over this move please STFU?

Anonymous said...

Boy, these guys (Riggleman) just never tell it like it is, or admit the obvious. Desmond is plalying flat out better. It seems everyone is always worried about hurting someone's feelings. And, it is always about money, in this case 8, way overpaid, millions; but maybe I shouldn't say that and hurt someone's feelings. But, in two or three years we will be a strong contender. Our starting pitching will finally come around and maybe we will have some semblance of a bullpen. In the meantime we will have to suck it up and listen to all this side-stepping.

Steve M. said...

Anonymous said...

Also: what is it? Day 10? And still no internet rumors that somebody/anybody is interested in Dukes!?!
Will those who have been drinking the Rizzo hater-aide over this move please STFU?

How come you don't get when a guy with a checkered past gets released like the way he was thrown to the curb other teams become really skeptical and stay away. Unless the Oakland Raiders or Cincinatti Bengals are looking, Dukes may have to go to an Independent team.

If Austin Kearns can get a job, Dukes sure should!!!!!

Check out this from Ladson:

greg said...

"The fact that Bernadina is a leftie and came to camp to win a spot is a testament to his hard work."

what? for real? is this anon bernadina's mom?

peric said...

Its a conundrum. Perhaps Desmond ends up in right field until Guzman gets injured or slumps. Meanwhile, he and Adam Kennedy (and Ronny Belliard) are basically the same player offensively. The real problem with this mix is that Kennedy really can't play shortstop. Perhaps Cristian Guzman can but bristles at the very notion. Desmond doesn't care and would likely play in any of the three positions just to make the team and bonus ... actually start! Gonzalez is like Desmond.

My guess would be extended platooning by Riggleman. Shift Desmond to right field with Harris. Desmond the righty does much of what Harris the lefty does. But with extensive time at shortstop. Desmond and Harris also get 2nd base time. Bernadina as your left, right, center field defensive replacement. Maybe his offense picks up allowing a trade? Morse the offensive replacement in left, perhaps right and 1st base. At this point Maxwell should be gone, shouldn't he? ... see Dukes unconditional release.

Many trades probably should happen this year that's for sure. The guys they will be able to move probably start with Willingham which may mean Morse/Desmond/Bernadina in left. They may move Dunn as well.

I would definitely do the fantasy trade of Ryan Zimmerman for the top 6 prospects in the Texas system. Perhaps even for the top 4. When you're the Nats you have to think about such things.

Its going to be interesting.

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