Nationals Baseball: Doing it wrong.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Doing it wrong.

Ladson noted something that highlights everything that the Nats have been doing wrong in the OF for 5 years now.

Once Ankiel comes back, the Nationals have to make a decision on who plays every day in left and center field. Roger Bernadina will continue to play every day. It's just a matter of where he plays. Bernadina is the currently the club's only legitimate leadoff hitter...

Laynce Nix has made it difficult for the club because he is having a solid season, hitting .310 with five home runs and 16 RBIs. He entered the season as a pinch-hitting specialist, but found himself playing often after Mike Morse slumped.

There is a possibility that Nix and Morse could platoon in left field. Ankiel may also platoon with Morse in left field. A decision will not be made until Ankiel is activated from the disabled list.

Just so you understand all the things that are wrong here :

  • They might sit their best Non Zimmerman offensive player this year (though yes - Werth should be considered better) because at the beginning of the year they saw him as a pinch hitter (let's ignore the facts for now that last year he hit lefties ok in limited at bats and that he's never been a great pinch hitter or anything)
  • Mike Morse, who as of two games ago was still regulated to the bench, is the guy they "have to" work in somehow. Rather than Nix (the best hitter right now) or Ankiel (arguably the best fielder of the 3... arguably - it certainly isn't Morse let's say that)
  • Roger Bernadina, the 27 year old batting a forgettable .270 / .352 / .381 in AAA who was called up only because Ankiel got injured, is now the untouchable player in this scenario because he's most like a prototypical leadoff hitter and he started this 2 week stretch with a few good games.

I don't care what they choose among these 4 guys. Any permutation of starters, platooners and bench players is fine because none of these guys is a young stud needing to break in. But do it for a reason. Sorry. Do it for a GOOD reason. Something beyond "He's a righty!" or "He sure looks speedy!" Have a plan and stick to it for a few months. Stop the haphazard "this guy looks good right now" evaluation process that leads to the same never-wases and new has-beens being mixed in each time with the management saying "we really like what this guy can do". Actively try to find someone that can play everyday for a long period of time by letting someone play everyday for a long period of time.

(At this point I would say keep playing Nix and Bernadina, almost everyday, until the All-Star break. after that near 2-month tryout and a natural stopping point re-evaluate. )


Section 220 said...

The WORST thing that could happen, which is exactly what they are headed towards, yet again, would be to end the season not quite sure what you actually have. I almost don't care who they pick, but just pick a couple guys and give them a couple months to find out. Baseball, by its nature, does not lend itself to the sort of knee-jerk reactionary decisionmaking this team exhibits with respect to outfielders.

Anonymous said...

I agree I would go with Nix and Bernadina but I wouldn't scream if they went Bernadina and Morse. In the long term it doesn't matter because we are likely going to have Werth-Harper-Free Agent/Trade in the OF. This might be why they are trying to ride the merry-go-round.

Harper said...

Sec 220 / Anon - I'd believe it was just that attitude of "none of these guys matter" if it wasn't for the 5 year build up of the same thing. The positives for letting guys play, even if you are looking at a future without them is building up trade value, figuring out which "youngish" player you want as your 4th OF (or starter if things don't work out in FA or injury wise - as they often don' t) , maybe lucking into a couple year cheap starter. THe positives for doing it the way they are doing it is maybe squeaking out two more wins. What sounds better for the Nats?

Donald said...

While I agree that more stability would be good, I think part of the reason why they shift around so much looking for whoever's hot at the moment is that none of the 4 are in their vision for the future. Assuming Werth and Harper are in, you either need a speedy CF to lead-off, which pushes Werth and Harper to the corners, or you need a good hitting LF who won't hurt too bad on defense, with Werth and Harper in CF, RF. None of the current 4 fit either of those bills all that well, though the closest is probably Nix in LF and Bernie in CF so that's what I'd stick with for now.

Hypothetical question of the day: Would you trade Desmond, Bernadina and Detwiler(or minor league pitcher of their choice) to the Mets for Reyes? That solves your lead-off hitter issue.

Harper said...

Donald - Yes. The Mets would be fools to accept that. A more realistic scenario - Norris and a pitcher (Solis?) for Reyes with a long term contract.

Anonymous said...

Chewing through outfielder is what bad teams do. Heck the Pirates traded away their starting outfield two years in a row. I'm OK, with the trying to find a long term 4th outfielder or trade bait, but you have to decide which way to go because the OFs with the highest trade potential (Nix and Ankiel) may not be the best bet for a 4th OF for the next couple of years (particularly Ankiel).

DcNatty said...

The NATS ARE HORRIBLE....two straight shutouts against the Mets. i may be down wtahcing them for the summer. at least let BRyc Harper up so we have something to wacth. Its painful.

Brian and Holli Jones said...

Bernandina has not proven he can hit lefties at all (not even badly), lacks power and has sometimes hot sometimes cold defense.

Nix is bad defensively and does not hit lefties all that well.

Morse should hit much better than he does particularly against lefties. Frankly, his inability this season against lefties is a huge mystery to me.

Ankiel is just a below average player with a deadly throwing arm. It is a mystery why anyone employs the guy. But, he is probably better than most of the above in CF for this season.

This teams biggest need longterm is a great defensive CF who can credibly hit both lefties and righties. We have no one in the minors who fits that mold nor on the MLB roster. I regret the loss of Morgan frankly. Batting 8th he could have really helped the club with his glove.

Anonymous said...

Well if they continue to score zero runs they could put Teddy out there and it wouldn't matter.

Nat Anacostia said...

Let's stop for a reality check. In 87 plate appearances this season, Nix has 25 strikeouts and 1 (that's right, one) walk. His OBP is .322. His BABIP is a probably unsustainable .382. (His career BABIP, accumulated over 1,500 plate appearances, is .301.) He's 30 years old and his career OPS+ is 84. I'm willing to grant that he may be experiencing a late career power surge, but Morse has been known to hit some home runs too. I don't think there's a statistical case to project Nix as a better hitter than Morse based on a sample of 87 plate appearances.

Which isn't to say I prefer returning him to a bench role. A platoon makes a lot of sense. It gives both players regular work, leaving them better prepared when they need to pinch hit.

However, I agree with anon that none of Nix, Bernadina, and Morse is likely to be part of the team we're aiming for in 2013 when Bryce Harper arrives. Unless Eury Perez advances quickly, we'll need a trade/free agent to fill center field.

Harper said...

DC Natty - no way on the Bryce. Delay coming down until late summer '12

B&H - you're a little harsh on Nix's fielding but the point is obvious. Each of these guys has flaws and none of these guys is an answer. The CF you speak of is the CF of every team's dream. I'd settle for a CF that could field and maybe not suck at the plate (which yes, describes Morgan to a tee)

Anon - Lerner or Roosevelt? Either way I like where this is going.

NA - point taken. But I look at everyone else in the lineup and other than Werth there isn't anyone that I think HAS to be better than Nix. The guy probably is getting lucky but everyone else is definitely terrible right now. I'm fine with a platoon though too - but stick with it. Don't let Ankiel make you change your mind.