Friday, September 3, 2010

Espinosa gets his shot

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Danny Espinosa went 1-for-2 in his big-league debut Wednesday night.
Yet another aspect of Wednesday night's game in Miami that got lost amid the flying bodies was Danny Espinosa's successful major-league debut.

The 23-year-old infielder entered in the fifth inning, with the Nationals already trailing by double digits, but impressed in the limited time he appeared. He recorded a hit in his first career at-bat, stretching a hard hopper over the second baseman's head into a double and driving in his first run. He also flashed his well-known rocket of an arm in turning a double play and emerged all smiles.

"It was great. I had such a fun time," he said. "It was a little fast for me, and I was nervous. I just had to slow myself down a little bit. But I had a great time. It was just a great experience to be here."

Espinosa will get "significant" playing time over the season's final month, according to Jim Riggleman. Most of it will come at second base, a position he hadn't played in the minors until last month at Class AAA Syracuse but one he said he's comfortable with after playing it extensively in high school.

A switch-hitter with good all-around offensive skills -- he was one of only two players in all of the minor leagues this season with at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases -- Espinosa is a scrappy ballplayer who doesn't seem to know how to operate in first gear. Everything for the former Long Beach State shortstop is at full speed, a trait that impressed at least one of his former college opponents.

"He's got great talent and a great natural gift, but he's just a gamer," said Drew Storen, who faced Espinosa while pitching for Stanford. "He's just a dirtball. He works really hard on the field but also off the field. I'm excited to see him here. I was fired up when I walked in here and saw his jersey hanging in his locker."


Anonymous said...

After showing some good speed and base running instincts the other night, I'm wondering if he can eventually bat lead-off? Any word on what spot in the lineup he's projected to be in the future?

Mark L said...

Playing him at 2nd base is so dumb. I'm going to quote Sue @ Nationals Prospects, someone who has seen a lot of both, when she says "playing Espinosa @ 2nd & Desmond @ SS is like Paul McCartney on guitar & George Harrison on base".

Anonymous said...

"Espinosa will get "significant" playing time over the season's final month, according to Jim Riggleman."

Let me translate this for those of you who may be unfamiliar with Riggleman, who routinely says things and then does the exact opposite. Espinosa will play again in oh, about two weeks.

Look no further than the example of Desmond last September. He was called up Sept 1, but did not appear in a game until Sept 10th.

That's Riggleman. Gotta respect the game. Wouldn't want to play anyone too soon who might actually turn out to be good.

Anonymous said...

"playing Espinosa @ 2nd & Desmond @ SS is like Paul McCartney on guitar & George Harrison on base".

How about if Harrison was in scoring position? Would that be better?

SpashCity said...

Mark L said...Playing him at 2nd base is so dumb. I'm going to quote Sue @ Nationals Prospects, someone who has seen a lot of both, when she says "playing Espinosa @ 2nd & Desmond @ SS is like Paul McCartney on guitar & George Harrison on base".

Not to diminish the hard work and great information Sue provides at Nationals Prospects, but I think Mike Rizzo and his coaching and scouting staffs have seen Desmond and Espinosa play more than anybody and have the best idea of how to use them to help the Nats.

YLLaGDI said...

Not so sure if I trust the McCartney/Harrison analogy because 1) its bass, not base (as in 2nd base) and 2) McCartney and Harrison would swap bass and guitar when Macca was playing guitar. Both were perfectly capable at both, but McCartney was the better musician overall.

Eric said...

Who really cares what the self proclaimed expert Sue Dimen thinks?

N. Cognito said...

There is nothing wrong with playing Desmond at short and Espinoza at second over the last month of the season. It's not that big of a deal. This does not cement their positions for their career. There is still plenty of time for Desmond to play his way out of the SS position.

Anonymous said...

no word yet on suspensions from MLB?

A DC Wonk said...

Hey, Eric, I think Sue Dimen knows the minor league prospects pretty well.

Nevertheless, I think "Sue's" criticism is unwarranted and/or premature here. First off, as Mark noted, Danny played 2d base all through high school. Secondly, there seems to be a consensus among many that Ian has the best range of any shortstop in the entire league -- if that's the case, you keep him at SS and hope his errors go down. Thirdly, a great infielder ought to be able to play either 2d or SS with enough practice. (Ryne Sandburg came up as a SS, and moved to 2B when he went to the Cubs; A-Rod played SS for a decade before moving to 3B when he went to the Yankees; etc etc)

Doc said...

@ N. Cognito, Desmond and Espinosa are mostly interchangable on the field. I agree it makes more sense to leave Desmond at SS for the rest of the season. He's earned it.

ID has become more focused on plays and seems to have reduced his errors in the second half. ID might also have a bit more RF than Espinosa, but not much.

They're both going to be fun to watch. Together with Zim, Nats could soon own bragging rights to the best hitting/fielding infield in MLB--particularly if they sign Dunn.

N. Cognito said...

Doc said...
"ID has become more focused on plays and seems to have reduced his errors in the second half. ID might also have a bit more RF than Espinosa, but not much."

Mark - could you figure out how many errors Desmond has made per month.
Just kidding! Here are the numbers:

April - 3
May - 8
June - 11
July - 5
August - 5
September - 0

There were some dumb plays that aren't errors plus some bad throws that didn't get recorded as errors because they didn't complete a double play, but numbers-wise, he has gotten better.

N. Cognito said...

Anonymous said...
"no word yet on suspensions from MLB?"

Nyger might get more games because of he recent jawing with fans, including the alledged use of profanity. He needs to learn to ignore fans.
Volstad should get a pretty hefty suspension because he threw at Morgan twice. Crappy Sanchez should also get a hefty suspension because you don't come in and clothesline someone. A number of other Marlins should also get a game, because they didn't just grab, push and pull but instead jumped on Morgan and some swung at him.
Wes Helms should be thrown out of baseball because he's nothing more than a washed up dope.

HHover said...

The Nats are clearly banking on Desmond improving at SS--that's the course they set at the beginning of the season, and there's no real reason to deviate from it at this point; and there are signs that he's getting better at the position.

Still, I have to think a decision point will come around mid-season next year. If doesn't Desmond doesn't improve his defense significantly compared to this year, I'd expect him to lose his lock on the starting SS position.

natscan reduxit said...

... thanx to N. Cognito [10:24], who opened the Nyjer discussion on this thread, I can submit the following:

... perhaps this is not the right place to do this, and if not, I agree to be reprimanded for it. But I want to respond here, to something Kilgore said in today’s Post. He said he finds Nyjer Morgan’ recent behaviour puzzling. Well Adam, it’s like this: the team is losing, and he doesn’t like it. What word there don’t you understand? Or would you prefer that the league do all it can to turn players into Bud Selig’s Stepford Wives, as it appears Wes Helms has become?

... from where I sit, it looks as though Adam Kilgore prefers, and Bud Selig wants, players who don’t rock the boat, but rather those who are simple automatons, perfect game abilities but no exhibitions of desire or passion.

... after 1994, MLB had lost the fan, and it had some work to do to get them back. I will say it right here; if MLB continues to take the emotion out of the game, and try to turn it into baseball’s version of the No Fun League, it will face the same problem all over again.

... to say that team player ‘X’ plays with one hundred percent emotion, only to watch team player ‘X’ go about his business with no more passion than the accountant in the front office, is to say the game itself is in trouble.

... to put the final touch on this, I have to say that Dibble made sense yesterday. He was forceful but not incendiary. He explained it quite well; the game is not clean and tidy, it’s a competition and it results in messy confrontations at times. Hard to take from one of the game’s worst exponents of ‘over-the-top’ baseball, but words at any rate, which carry the right message.

Go Nyjer; Go Nats!!

CapPeterson said...


What did Dibble say?

Michael J. Hayde said...


Read it here:

rogieshan said...

Finally, a homegrown double-play tandem. Our own Trammell & Whitaker for the next decade.

CapPeterson said...

Thanks, Michael.

Would have made a great postgame show: Dibble and Ray Knight debating the merits of Nyjer's action.

Richard said...

Desmond and now Espinoza have been two of the positives in re the Nats 2010 season, along with Bernadina, J Zimm's come back, and others. Maybe Mark with do a positives-negatives list after the season. If so, one of the top negatives, for me, aside from the Nyjer misery, has to be the non-signing of Adam Dunn, a subject that's been around since spring training. His wading into the stinking Fish pile the other night to fling a few Fish kinda brings it to the fore. The FO has tortured the fans with it all year, with Rizzo saying, yeah, Dunn's a hall of famer, and we're working on the contract but we're not going to discuss it in the media blah blah blah, while at the same time talking trade heavily in June and especially July and then putting him on waivers in August. It kinda smells like Kasten though, who strung Rizzo along as much as possible last year, and has done other stuff that speaks of a very larlge ego in need of attention.

A DC Wonk said...

Why are we only blaming Rizzo and/or Kasten for the thus-far non-signing of Dunn? Isn't it possible that Dunn's agent is asking for a price that's actual more than Dunn's worth?

I'm not saying that's the case, I'm just asking: might it be possible that that's the case?

The larger point I'm making is this: we have no idea, so let's stop pointing fingers until we have a clue as to what's going on.

N. Cognito said...

The Nats were not talking trade heavily in June and especially in July. The media was.

Just about every team puts just about every player on waivers in August. That's the way the game is played.

Anonymous said...

Put Desmond in center field and play Espinoza at short. Go after Marlins' Dan Uggla, who will be a free agent this offseason.

Faraz Shaikh said...

@ n Cognito, can you please provide info on how many fielding errors and throwing errors per month Desmond has this season? thank you.

Anonymous said...

Sue @ Nationals Prospects, someone who has seen a lot of both, when she says "playing Espinosa @ 2nd & Desmond @ SS is like Paul McCartney on guitar & George Harrison on base".

Sue Dinem's (pseudonym's in other words anonymous? right?), opinions should be considered in the same light as well an anonymous post here? His experience is based more in Potomac with the Potomac Nationals.

One could also look at the insider information conveyed by both Ben Goessling and Byron Kerr from their MASN blogs as well? And take it
into consideration as it comes from Mike Rizzo, Roy Clark, Doug Harris, Mark Scialabba, et al and from Scouts outside the organization. To whit:

1. Desmond has more range, perhaps more than any other shortstop in baseball. Espinosa also has excellent range at short.
2. Espinosa has the better arm of the two believe it or not.
3. Outside scouts believe Espinosa is a player. Believe he is capable of 20-20 major league seasons.

Richard said...

The point about Dunn is simply that IMO the Nats could've re-signed him if they wanted to and shut the media up. Also, the Nats didn't put Zimmerman on waivers in August. Dunn has floated some contract numbers that sound reasonable -- to me at least. IMO Rizzo (and/or Nats above his paid grade) have been disingenuous with talk of working with him re an extension. After six months of wondering, we have to conclude that they don't intend to re-sign him and are playing their cards so as to maximize their return when he signs elsewhere. Fair enough. But as a fan looking for stability on the very turbulent Nats ocean, I would have found more of the scarce enjoyment available in 2010 had Dunn been in the fold; it's a negative for me.

David said...

What about Ramos? Will he "get his shot" as well?

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