Nationals Baseball: The right move BUT...

Monday, March 29, 2010

The right move BUT...

Ian Desmond will start the season as the Nats everyday shortstop. While we await the reaction from the home of Guzmania, it is hard to see anyone arguing with this move.

Guzman is a 32 year old, who outside of a couple of years, has shown himself to be a terrible offensive player, unable to hit for power or get on base with any consistency. His defense has been steadily on the decline as well and now he's dealing with a bum shoulder.

Ian Desmond, on the other hand is... umm... well he's younger, 24 for most of this year, and he's at least for a short time shown himself capable of playing in the major leagues. That's all you really need to give him a shot, and if you are being honest with yourself, that's all you really can say about him.

I know Nats fans want to believe that Desmond is a superstar waiting to happen, but that's not likely. Yes, he did hit well while up with the Nats last season, but that was mainly because of a SLG percentage around .100 pts higher than anything he ever did as a minor leaguer. For those that enjoy fancy stats, his isoSLG was .281 last year, while his best in any single year in the minors was .164. That is what we call an unsustainable result. Yes, he did hit well early in this Spring, but if you haven't noticed after starting the month off batting .476 in the first 8 games, he has hit .194 in the next 13 with only 2 doubles. Yes, he did hit well in the minors last year, but it was the first time ever in 5 minor league seasons that he had success anywhere near that level. Prior to 2009 he was carrying something like a .240 / .315 / .375 line in the minors. If Desmond was 27, I would say that he is the poster child for outsized expectations.

But he's not 27, and he won't be until late in 2012. That's the most important thing. Desmond will probably be offensively as productive this season as Guzman would have been (likely lower BA, likely higher SLG), but with a season under his belt he's still at the ages where he will likely improve slightly in the future. Assuming a decent 2010, the Nats could pencil in for a few seasons a perfectly average SS and they could turn their concerns (and their pocketbook) elsewhere. (If you are wondering, it is possible Desmond could blossom into a 25 homer guy, it's also possible he could also crash and burn and be unable to sustain a batting average above .250. It's difficult to project given his strange immediate improvement. Let's try to temper our speculations)

When it comes down to it though, this wasn't a Desmond move, it was a Guzman move, as much as the Nats try to tell you otherwise. They wanted Guzman to play, but he couldn't. They already knew he couldn't hit, and now he can't field. They'll try to give him time to get healthy so they can "showcase" him later in the year but starting him on Day 1 would have been good for no one. It may not be Desmond's time yet (or ever) but Guzman's time has almost certainly passed.


Bryan said...

The Nats certainly need to upgrade some positions if they ever hope to win consistently. SS is one of those positions.

However, they also need a longish term solution there, since Guz is both aging and breaking down.

This provides a longer term solution, even if its a wash production wise. This wouldn't be acceptable on a team poised to win now, but on a team poised to win somewhere in the murky future, its a fine move.

Let's see what Desmond blossoms into: Hope for above average while accepting/expecting Guzmanain.

In 2 or 3 years we could have a decent SS or we can reevaluate and replace him with somone who can be that last piece of the puzzle to get us from respectable to playoff contender.

Harper said...

Well... it MIGHT provide a longer term solution. You don't know. If last year is a fluke - he could be awful and back in the minors by June. But the Nats have no good reason not to find out right now.

Bryan said...

Oh, come on Harper. The Nats only do crazy stuff like jerk guys around or abuse them with CFers and relief pitchers.

Desmond is safe.


Harper said...

Desomnd is safer under this regime but safe? Because he had one good year?If he sucks for half a year I don't think he'll get the second half to right himself. I think they'll say - "Go back to the minors. You're almost 25 and obviously not the answer."