Friday, May 28, 2010

What do you think?

SAN FRANCISCO -- As I prepare to board my delayed flight to San Diego, several Nats-related questions occur to me. I'm curious to know how you would answer each of these...

-- Should Adam Dunn ALWAYS be taken out for defensive purposes late in games the Nats lead? Jim Riggleman left him in yesterday, and he proceeded to boot a grounder that helped pave the way for the Giants to rally and win. Then again, Dunn's spot in the lineup came up in the ninth with the Nationals trailing by one run. Had he been pulled earlier, someone else would have been batting there. Of course, Dunn proceeded to strike out to end the game.

-- Plenty of you are dissatisfied with Nyjer Morgan and the right field rotation. But what would you do? If not Morgan, who in center field? And who do you want in right field? (Jermaine Dye is not an accepted answer.)

-- If it was up to you, when would Stephen Strasburg make his big-league debut?


DJ said...


It's not totally out of the realm if Strasburg does end up debuting the 4th after all right? Let's say he's dominant tomorrow and the Nats lose a couple more games on this road trip ..... don't you think the think tank will stop and say okay it's time let's get him up here ASAP?

As for the rest:

>Riggleman usually takes Dunn out but he's been pretty good with the glove this year. Despite the error, we should have gotten out of that inning.

>I'm fine with Nyjer. He's an aggressive player, he is what he is. He's going to make some athletic, phenomenal plays ..... he'll also make some bonehead, overaggressive plays. As for RF, it's a joke. Bernadina had a good two week stretch going for a while, but is back to earth now. I would love to see a trade for a Corey Hart, Brad Hawpe or BJ Upton. Or maybe even pick up Darnell McDonald from the Sox when they dump him.

>Debut = June 4 :-)

Bowdenball said...

1. Dunn should only be pulled if his spot was one of the last two to bat in the previous half-inning. He's too valuable an offensive asset if they tie the game, and Kennedy's not that big an upgrade at 1B.

2. I'll leave this to others, as my biggest problem is with Morgan's attitude. When he had something to prove last year, he was great. Now that he thinks his place is secure he's constantly trying to "create" and "excite" instead of doing his darn job. Someone needs to pull him aside and point out to him things like the fact that he sucks at bunting for base hits.

3. 4th or 5th and 10th. The notion that the Nats misled fans into buying tickets for the 4th is dumb, but once he starts on Saturday and he's not a Super Two guy any more, there is zero reason to keep him out of our rotation. Especially with Olsen's prognosis not good. Get him in there twice during the home stand, both for the home fans' sake and for the sake of a team that's trying to cling to wild card dreams. There is NO reason not to do this.

Andrew said...

I think we just need to stick with Bernadina. I think he is the clearly the best and more AB the better he will get.

JayB said...

SS would start Jun 4th now that they have achieved their goal of saving money on super 2 status.

RF should be filled by trade. I am not a GM with a blackberry full of other GM's numbers so I do not know what is out there but I do know Nats do not have a solution for this year, next year or the year after that so they need to make a trade. CF I think Morgan is the longer term answer but only after he sits down for 10 days and watches Roger get his chance. Morgan can do it he just needs to have his bubble burst and get some perceptive on playing within his skill set.

Dunn should always be lifted with a lead. Dunn should be traded for a RFer.

cass said...

1. Dunn is much-improved defensively this year. Because of his bat, I would usually leave him in. I think Riggleman made the right call yesterday, but the right call does not always work.

2. I'd continue playing Morgan, but give him some time off. Got to hope he gets out of his offensive and defensive slump. I'd give Bernadina the majority of time in right field, but would let Guzman make some starts there while his bat is still hot.

3. June 4th. I see no reason for Strasburg to have an 11th minor league start on June 3rd/4th. He's already proven he's major league ready. Bring him up.

N. Cognito said...

Dunn should not always be taken out for defense. It's gonna bite us in the ass once in a while. The relief pitching didn't do too much to stem the tide, did they?

Morgan needs about 3 or 4 games (or more) on the bench. Put Maxwell into CF, even as bad as he is at the plate. Throw Bernadina in RF and leave him there all season - even against lefties - trial by fire. As to how that affects the lineup - who cares - gotta be better than Morgan batting first anyway.

If it were up to me Strasburg would make his debut on the 8th against the Pirates. It's an easier team to pitch against and so the possibility of him getting lit up is much smaller than it is against the Reds. Have him pitch a toned down simulated game in between Saturday's start for Syracuse and the start for the Nats.

On another note: Quit the practice of holding back tickets until the initial batch available has nothing but singles left.

JayB said...


Todd Boss said...

1. No you shouldn't always take Dunn (or Willingham for that matter) out for defensive purposes. You over-manage and over-think yourself by doing this. One error does not make a 4 run rally.

2. Trade for Jayson Werth (just kidding). Probably not much you can do. Dye refused a contract and a starting gig for millions; he was really the last resort. You struggle through with Bernadina and sign/trade for a RF in the offseason. Cuddyer, Crawford, Werth, Hawpe, Kubel interesting names. Remember; this is a team built to win in 2012 not 2010. Anything above 75 wins this year is absolute gravy and the team should act accordingly. By 2012 Hood or Burgess could be ready

3. Strasburg on 5 days rest from his last start absolutely should have debuted 6/4. Otherwise put him back on a 4day rest rotation and it becomes 6/8. You can give a starter too much rest and they get thrown off their routines.

Anonymous said...

I'll be selfish here. June 4th because I have tickets for the 4th and the 10th. Also that should pencil him in for the Sunday game at Baltimore which I am planning on going to.

Souldrummer said...

1) Good question that I'm very torn about. I'm going to say no on this one. At some point, we have to try to blow some teams out and score enough runs so that we're not always in 1 or two run games. Nats could have mounted a rally to blow the game wide open had they been able to hold the Giants off the scoreboard when Burnett came in. I'd like Riggles to leave starters in longer, (though I was more upset about Livo being taken out than Stammen).

2) To me, the answer to this depends on whether we have the cojones to move Willie Harris. I will continue to beat the drum that if he is not going to play any infield for us, he probably has more value to someone else than he does to us. I'd like to see Maxwell given a shot to be a platoon partner with Bernadina in RF, who would platoon some with Nyjer if Bernadina does anything to show that he can hit lefties.

3) June 4th certainly. I hope that they are leaving open the possibility for a 6/4 debut if Strasburg dominates on Saturday. I've got tickets for both 6/4 and 6/8 and I'll probably find a way to go even if it's on another date. I've missed just about every other "event" day in Nats history and I'd like to catch this one.

Anonymous said...

#1. Trust Riggleman.
#2. What Todd Boss said. The Nationals are not a very good team TODAY, but they are the kind of mediocre team that can be pretty good next year and very good in 2012. It finally makes sense to sign blockbuster free agents over the winter. (It made sense to sign Dunn last year only because he was going for a song.) So see what the free agent market has. A superstar RF seriously competing with a Hood or Burgess is the kind of problem any GM wants to have. Strong rookie ballplayers are worth very strong veteran pitchers. I knew you could say: "playoff-ready rotation!"
#3. The Nat's should start Strasburg when I decide to buy a ticket to the ballpark. Not before then.

Dave Nichols said...

1) not as a rule. completely up to situation.

2) Morgan, Berndina and Harris are reduntant, low OBP slap hitters. Team needs more power from RF and more variety on bench.

3) June 8.

Anonymous said...

1) yes. especially if we have a lead, and if he's not due up in the 8th. he's not helping us much offensively in late innings anyway, is he?

2) play bernadina in CF for a week, let Harris start in right. Nyjer needs to take a seat for a few.

3) June 4 and 10th. no reason he needs another AAA start. and i have tix for all the games that homestand, so no bias here.

alm1000 said...

# 1 Dont take Dunn out unless leading by 3+. He is doing better with the glove. Leave him in Jimmie.

#2 I am OK with Morgan. Everyone has ups and downs and he is really down now but will be up again. I like his attitude and aggressiveness and he is fun to have on the team. Just relax and take it easy with him. Lets give Bernadina anothe month or so. If he doesn't take the position by his play, AND IF we are still only 3 or so out of first (or better) then maybe a trade at the end of July, BUT we only have so many trades that we can do for a front line guy so it needs to be the right trade.
3. Delaying to the Pittsburg series is OK w me. I trust that Riggs and Rizzo know what they are doing. They can get another AAA 5 inning start that will likley be much less stressful than an MLB start.

Slopitchtom said...

1. The 7th inning is too early to take Dunn out for defensive purposes in a tight game where his bat may be needed later. I'm fine with taking him out for the bottom of the 8th on the road or top of 9 at home.

2. Keep playing Nyjer in CF. He's not as good a player as he showed last year but also not as bad as he showed so far this year. He'll settle in somewhere in-between. Stick with our RF platoon and sign Jayson Werth as a free agent in the offseason. He should be the #1 free agent focus in the offseason.

3. June 8th for Strasburg's debut. Keeps him on his regular 5 day schedule with starts in Syracuse May 29 and June 3 and starts him against a weaker Pittsburgh team at home. Plus, I'm going to Cleveland to see the Nats series with the Indians June 11-13 and that would line him up to pitch on the 13th.

Sec$39.99 said...

Not always, but on days he's probably tiring, like yesterday, probably. It's not like they have an anti-Dunn on the bench--Kennedy, for instance, had that ball go just over his glove the other day that Dunn probably would have gotten. Numbers geeks will have to correct me if I'm wrong, but I think defense late and close is more valuable than offense later and still close. But honestly, half of us here would have had that ball. Of course, none of us would have hit that double. Or the home run.

Morgan is Nook Logan without the Mitchell Report tag, but with a following in the clubhouse (apparently). Wait, Nook was hitting >.300 when they dropped him. Nyjer's pushing 30--he's not going to learn a lot more baseball than he knows now. But he seems important to the team, so if you replace him, it better be with somebody clearly better, and that probably won't happen mid-season.

I think Bernadina has earned a long look in right, at least against RHP. It's not a position I'd spend a lot of discretionary payroll on in the offseason.

So I'd stand pat for now, but keep working the phones, just in case.

If it were up to me, I'd have started him against the Orioles, but that will probably turn out to be slicing it pretty thin, for Super 2 dating. Starting him on the road is out of the question, for lots of reasons. So I'd bring him in on the fourth, just because it's the first chance. If he doesn't get 2 starts in the first homestand, he'll get them in the next, so that doesn't seem to matter much. He'll get X number of home starts, ultimately, regardless, but once he's up, it's a baseball decision.

Brian said...

--Whether or not to take Dunn out should be a game-by-game decision. There are games where it might make sense to make a defensive replacement, and others the need for his bat will outweigh the defensive factors.

--I'm okay with Morgan. He'll never be great, but he is exciting to watch for the most part. I have lost my faith in Justin Maxwell after his at-bat yesterday in the 9th where he just looked at strike two and strike three right over the plate. Jon Miller was very critical of the at-bat on the Giants radio broadcast, and rightfully so. JMax needed to be swinging away in that situation.

--June 4 still makes the most sense to me, but I'll trust Rizzo on this one.

NattyLite said...

1. I think the 7th inning is a little early to pull Dunn. I would almost always pull him in the 8th inning of a game in which the Nats were leading by 2 or fewer runs.

2. I'm fine with Morgan in CF, but I have grown tired of his attempts to bunt for a base hit. I can understand it a little more now that he has not been hitting as of late, but it seems to me that he was (unsuccessfully) attempting to bunt just as much at the beginning of the season when he was hitting well.

3. I took a look at the RFs who will be free agents in the off season. One potentially interesting "flyer" would be Randy Winn. I read today that there are rumors that the Yankees are going to designate him for assignment. He hasn't hit since 2008, but he wouldn't really hurt defensively (particulary if the alternative is Guzman)and there is at least a chance he could regain some of his old form at the plate. If not, cut him. I wouldn't mind seeing the Nats overpay for someone like Jayson Werth in the offseason. I'm not really comfortable with the fact that our CF and RF positions have combined for approximately half the home runs of Rod Barajas.

AD said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again-Dunn belongs in right field where he has many fewer chances to handle/mishandle the ball. He's been an outfielder for almost all of his career. Kennedy could shift over to first, making room for Guzman at second. That keeps the best of what's available in the game and minimizes the damage from bad defense.

Anonymous said...

Mark, you didn't ask critical question #4 - should Riggs keep pulling starting pitchers who've thrown less than 100 pitches because they give up a baserunner during or after the 6th inning. That's two losses this season where Riggs has pulled a starter with the lead and a low pitch count and the bullpen immediately proceeds to give up the lead.

As to your questions,

1) Dunn should be pulled only in the 9th unless, as stated above, he batted last or second to last in the 7th. Basically, if there's a less than 50/50 chance he'll bat again in a game, pull him immediately.

2) Morgan seems to have gotten very stupid this month. Bad throws, bad routes to fly balls, temper tantrums, bad baserunning, bad at-bats. He's not a top centerfielder, just potentially a really good one. Nyjer needs to accept that and don't try and be a combo of Ty Cobb and Willie Mays. Catch the ball while accepting that some will be over his head and he needs to position himself for the bounce. Acknowledge the fact that his arm is average and he can't gun down runners at the plate. Hit the cutoff man with fast and accurate throws every time. Be selective in steal attempts and have better situational awareness when running the bases.

3) Strasburg should make the first start on the first day after the team is certain he won't be a Super 2. There is zero reason to delay it.

Kevin said...

1 - No, you don't always take him out, especially if he is due up the next inning.

2 - Nyjer needs to learn to be smarter, but I think it is something he will need to learn on the field. Keep Bernadina in there - inexperienced guys are notoriously streaky...let him get his streakiness out of his system now, and if he can't get it out, you know you need to look for someone else. Agree with Todd Boss - we all need to remember that 2 months ago, we all would have LOVED to have a .500 club.

3 - Despite the fact I have tickets for the 4th, I kindof agree with holding him until 6/8. The reds are playing good baseball, and you want to give him a good chance to win his first game. Plus, I kindof like the idea that Zuckerman predicted 6/8 WAYYYYYY before anyone else, so I'd like to see him proven to be the best baseball writer in the region (yet again!!!).

Anonymous said...

Maybe Nats should try to trade Angel Pagan from Mets after Carlos Beltran activated.

Anonymous said...

So, we're channeling Ben Goesling now? Where are the golden geese and rotten eggs listed?

1. They should trade Dunn (and some others) for a left handed starting pitcher. The Mariners are about to lose Ken Griffey jr. They are in the AL. The Nats would probably be better off with a Cliff Lee more than Dunn given Willigham's hitting. You probably move Willingham to first base.

2. Morgan, Bernadina, Morse, Harris, Maxwell, and Willingham Yes, they could use Austin Kearns in right field. Gee, whatever happened to that guy? Morse and Bernadina are doing a reasonable job from the left side. They need a righty still. They need to try Morse out there. Especially if they decide to trade Dunn and move Willingham to first base. They have Michael Burgess, Destin Hood, JP Ramirez, Eury Perez, and Justin Bloxom. Then there's Harper. Looks like the makings of a pretty fair outfield to me?

3. June 8th. The schedule, the competition, the number of minor league reps, slowly but surely stretching the him out ... it always sounded good to me, Buster Olney, and Ben Goesling.

Anonymous said...

Bernadina in center.

Morse in right.

Theophilus said...

Good time to sit Morgan for a week. His head is screwed up in a number of ways: can't steal bases, seems to be actually trying to be a Punch & Judy hitter instead of hitting line drives. Assuming Maxwell isn't sent down again to bring up Martin, let him start for a whole week, batting 8th. The Gnats aren't going to be run out of any games by either SD or Houston (Petco a pitchers' park, Houston can't hit) so they can afford to experiment a bit. For same reason, no need to bring up Strasburg early. Watched his start against Toledo and feared what would have happened against more patient hitters. A big problem w/ the offense is lack of a genuine No. 2 (Rich Dauer-type) hitter. Guzman may hit for average but lack of patience, low OBP (relative to BA) are not helping. Best some other team's shortstop or second baseman breaks a leg and they trade for him -- soon, before trading deadline -- only tradeable body they've got that might fetch a better corner outfielder than the bodies they already have.

joemktg said...

1) Always, always, always: have to give the pitcher all opportunities to generate outs.

2) Like it or not, Morgan's in CF and Roger's in RF. There's no rabbit to pull out of a hat. Is what it is. Ride it out, and re-examine after the season.

3) Doesn't matter when he starts. Needs to get in innings, get the experience. However, I'd prefer he started his career against a weaker team.

The Great Unwashed said...

Great idea on this questions forum, Mark.

I second what Todd Boss said.

Capitol Baseball said...

1. I think that you take out Dunn situationally. Sure, he booted that bouncing grounder yesterday, but he was due up and the Nats were down only a run. And if that big fly was called a home run that hit off the concrete earlier in the game, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. He's usually a passable defender and his power is invaluable.

2. Bernadina needs to be the regular RF for now, but I agree with Dave Nichols' comment above on this. Morgan, Bernadina and Morgan are all redundant players. Lefty speed guys who don't hit for power... or with much consistency. The team needs to find a longer-term power solution in right. There are too many speed/no-power guys on the bench.

3. Strasburg should start on the 8th, 9th, or 10th because it a weekday series against the abhorrent Pirates. The Nats need people to show up for a Pittsburgh weekday series far more than they need the help on a weekend series, even if it is only the Reds. Plus, some media sources all but guaranteed a June 4th start from Jesus. So much so that the game is basically sold out without any involvement or nudging from the Nats. The club certainly didn't encourage this, but they wouldn't be wrong to take financial advantage of the situation. Too many people who moan about front office decisions in DC forget that it is a business first. That's why multimillionaires INVEST in these teams.

Anonymous said...

Ben Goesling can't hold Zuckerman's jock strap.

MM said...

Jordan Zimmermann update -

don't see this posted here yet but apparently Jordan Zimmermann pitched a 1-2-3 inning with 1K yesterday in an extended spring training game against the Astros.

Rehab start set for 6/22.

MLB return? can you say late-July???!!!

alexva said...

"Morgan, Bernadina and Morgan are all redundant players"

evidently :)

Section 222 said...

Great way to keep us busy while you're in the air Mark. My two cents:
1. I think Riggleman substitutes for Dunn too much. Clearly, the 7th inning yesterday was too early. Dunn is a passable defender and Kennedy is no superstar at 1st. Plus, giving up his bat is very risky in a close game. Subbing for both Dunn and Willingham as he's done a few times is lunacy unless we are way ahead. I actually think that if you're going to make a defensive substitution, putting in a fleet outfielder is probably a more important move.

2. I'm a broken record on this. We need a decent bat with some power in RF and Bernadina is not it (neither is Maxwell, Harris, or Guzman). I'd rather see Morse get a shot if there's no one out there to trade for.

3. SS should have been up for the Orioles series since he's going to get shut down in September anyway. I see no reason to wait past June 4 (or this Saturday in S.D. for that matter). The "let him him face a weaker team for his first start" argument is BS -- this is major league baseball folks. But whatever night it is, I'll be there.

Anonymous said...

Right field has been a joke since Jose guillen went down in late 2005. They've had five years to fix the problem and can't seem to get it right. Regarding Dunn, he belongs as a DH in the AL. He's a bad dream at first base. My twelve year old daughter could have fielded that broken bat routine grounder yesterday. Dunn couldn't even bend over to touch the ball.

natsfan1a said...

Pretty tacky to bash Zuckerman on his own blog, and anonymously at that. What's your beef with him, anyway, "anonymous" (and why read it if it you don't like it)?

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't think they have any interest in "fixing" right field until the offseason. I think they want to let the cast of characters play their way into (or out of) long-term consideration there.

Earlier, someone laughingly suggested a trade for Jason Werth. I don't know about a trade, but the last I heard, Werth and Philly were at a standstill in their negotiations on an extension. He is a free agent this winter. I'm willing to be patient, assuming (a) he stays on the market; and (b) the Lerners are told by Kasten this would solve the RF dilemma for the next half-decade or more. Wouldn't HE be perfect in a Nats uniform next year....?

K.D. said...

Definitely thought provoking:

- Depends who is coming up to bat, a lefty who always pulls the ball, who do we have on the mound a fly-ball or ground-ball pitcher, is Dunn coming up to bat, etc. I say, gotta trust the skipper.

- I think Nyger is trying too hard, he sees the round-robin rotation going on in right-field. Who is the outfield coach, and does he have a connection with Nyger?

Anonymous said...

We knew Morgan wasn't the all-world CF he looked like at times last year, but I still really like him there. His speed is incredible, he gets to a ton of fly balls others would not, and offensively (despite his current slump) he'll bounce back.

Sam said...

1. IMHO defensive changes that get the bats out in a close game are shaky at best, and often are over engineering of the situation. I'm okay with doing something in the outfield but Dunn is close enough for me. Keep him in.
2. I think that Morgan can be rehabilitated. I hope he's not doing all that bunting and running on his own. I say keep him playing. And Bernadina is okay with me. Or even a platoon of a couple of guys named Joe. The inconsistent offense isn't localized to right field. My question is how to get some clutch hitting out of those guys -- except for that dandy walkoff home run last week.
3. I'd like to see SS take the mound tonight.

Mr Baseball said...

I say lets put Morgan in left, where he played for Pittsburg. His problem he's trying to be the Nats Clinton Portis. Remember Portis antics and later play! Morgan has to stop his fulishness and concentrate on playing. CF - Berdina and RF - Willingham.

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone so down on bernadina and morgan? I can't believe it. Bsrnasina has shown a lot....stick him in rf for the rest of the year, no platooning. Morgan is slumpimg, but he will recover, keep him in center. All of his issues are mental, and he will get over tjose. Go Nats!

Anonymous said...

I think the Nats are wasting an opportunity to have two home sell outs if they don't bring him up on the 4th. That's a lot of money at the gate. He has no business in the Minors anymore. Dude is Roy Hobbs down there before he got shot. He's getting paid like a big leaguer, so bring him up and let him earn his money.

I don't think they should always remove Dunn for defensive purposes. He's not that bad over there and, ultimately, he's not the one giving up the flares that were dropping in. The bullpen has to make there pitches. I'd rather keep his bat in there.

As for the OF.....I'd love for the Nats to some how get Brett Gardner from the Yankees. I don't think they would give him up, but that kid plays with the same intensity as Morgan, but a bit smarter. Why can't Mike Morse get some time in RF? I haven't seen enough of that guy. Maybe they can turn Bryce Harper into a Right Fielder. That guy is Roy Hobbs after he got shot.

Avar said...

I'm not a fan of frequent defensive replacements. I'm not convinced the extra D overcomes the lessened O.

Have to keep w/ Morgan for a while and let him work out of it. Bernadina needs a longer look in RF and my dream is to sign Werth in the off season. Don't want Hawpe due to weak glove.

Once SS clears super 2 issue, they MUST bring him up. To help the team win and because he has earned it by dominating the minors as much as it's possible to dominate. Arguments that he needs more time lack any credibility at this point.

Steve M. said...

This is great.

1) Adam Dunn's situation is totally based on the situation. If there is a lead in the 8th, pull him.

2) Nyjer needs to sit to Bernadina and be shown he doesn't own CF. The team still needs to find a good RF.

3) June 4th is the only choice that makes sense with a 2nd start on June 10th. I hope Lerner listens to the fanbase and quashes any other ridiculous notion of a 1st start in the following series.

Sam said...

Regardng defensive replacements, platooning and so on: who is the one guy I want at the plate with the game on the line: Guzman. Not even close here. This year -- he's the man.

sjm105 said...

1. leave Dunn in, he has gotten better as the season goes on - I think he wants to prove he can play this position and Kennedy is not that big an upgrade - idiots who keep saying he is an AL dh have not heard Dunn speak about this. He wants to play a position.
2. Think Morgan has had a really difficult year and is obviously not the player we saw last year. Still think the clubhouse appreciates him and I would leave him alone. I would also play Bernadina a bunch and see what develops. Have to agree that this has not been a plus for us but defensively, if they both come around it gives us great speed. Offense, not so much.
3. It was established long ago that they were not going to play
SS until he passed super 2 status. If he is good to go on the 4th, I am not sure why they would wait until the 8th. Either way, once he is here I hope they keep him on schedule until we are eliminated. How great is it that for the first time in years we are not 15 games out after the first 1/4 of the season. Agree with Sam that Guzman really is the guy I want to see up, he might not walk but he sure can hit.

Anonymous said...

Bernadina could be very good, and given his great performance in the minors I'd give him every opportunity to show it.

I'd stick with the current CF/RF arrangement for now, but perhaps after giving Morgan a week or two off to get his head together. If after another month or two he hasn't improved, I'd move Bernadina to CF and play Morse in right.

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