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Position by position: Corner outfield

So while I watch the big college football matchup of the week - Duke at Virginia - let's break down another position, one that I think people are frothing at the mouth to talk about.

(This will also mean that we don't have to dissect last night's debacle. We've already had a discussion of Zimmerman's defense, which was simply horrendous last night. Horrible throw on the last error. Just miserable.)

Let's get to it. Corner outfielders.

Austin Kearns
Age: 27
Contract: In first year of a three-year, $17.5-million deal ($3.5 million in 2007, $5 million in '08; $8 million in '09; $10 million club option in 2010 with $1 million buyout)
2007: 140 G/509 AB, .267 average/.350 OBP/.407 slugging percentage, 30 doubles, 13 HR, 58 RBI, 89 strikeouts, 57 walks
Career: 655 G/2,314 AB, .266/.359/.451, 134 doubles, 92 HR, 357 RBI, 551 strikeouts, 304 walks

Wily Mo Pena
Age: 25
Contract: $1.875 million in 2007, eligible for arbitration in offseason, free agent after 2008
2007 (combined Bos/Was): 91 G/215 AB, .223/.292/.419, 10 doubles, 10 HR, 27 RBI, 77 strikeouts, 18 walks
2007 (just Washington): 18 G/59 AB, .237/.297/.508, 1 double, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 4 walks, 19 strikeouts
Career: 477 G/1,321 AB, .255/.311/.470, 58 doubles, 72 RBI, 203 RBI, 455 strikeouts, 92 walks

Ryan Church
Age: 28
Contract: $395,000 in 2007, arbitration-eligible for first time after this season
2007: 130 G/432 AB, .266/.340/.435, 38 doubles, 11 HR, 56 RBI, 94 strikeouts, 42 walks
Career: 333 G/959 AB, .268/.344/.449, 71 doubles, 31 HR, 139 RBI, 240 strikeouts, 99 walks

Ryan Langerhans
Age: 27
Contract: $410,000 in 2007, would have been arbitration-eligible if he spent full year in majors but will be borderline after his stint in the minors
2007 (combined Atl/Oak/Was): 109 G/196 AB, .153/.260/.276, 5 HR, 20 RBI
2007 (just Washington): 87 G/148 AB, .182/.282/.338, 5 HR, 19 RBI
Career: 385 G/853 AB, .231/.327/.370, 20 HR, 90 RBI

In the minors:
Chris Marrero hit .275/.338/.484 in 125 games between low-Class A Hagerstown and high-Class A Potomac. If things go well in the offseason, he could start at Class AA Harrisburg in 2008.

Alex Escobar is still on this team, still eligible for arbitration this year. Do you non-tender him after he made $530,000 for zero (0) at-bats this year?

Mike Daniel hit .294/.362/.458 in 125 games for Hagerstown and Potomac. Another candidate to move to Harrisburg next year.

One thing strikes me after looking at these stats. Austin Kearns (.267/.350/.407) is basically having the same season as Ryan Church (.266/.340/.435), except that Church has more extra-base pop in fewer at-bats.

This is the organization speaking here, not me: Kearns is part of the future of this team; Church's future is shakier. That's what the stance seems to be. The club acquired Pena and sat Church, for the most part, since then. Church has 36 at-bats since Pena arrived Aug. 18. Kearns, though, is on pace to set a career-high in games played (he played in 150 last year). He will also have more doubles (has 30, career high is 33) and more hits (has 136, career high is 142) than he has ever had before.

This might be the best way to describe the ineffectiveness of Kearns's season: Of all NL outfielders who qualify for the batting title (3.1 plate appearances/team's game), Kearns has the fifth-lowest OPS (on-base percentage). Lower than his .757: Juan Pierre, Shawn Green, Andruw Jones, Jason Bay. Church is ninth-lowest at .775. (According to Stats Inc., only 28 outfielders qualify.)

I will say that I am a big believer in Kearns's defense. It's hard to compare to others around the league, because corner outfield defense is something you really have to see on a daily basis to appreciate. But in watching Kearns, I do think he gets great jumps on balls and makes really good reads. His arm is also above-average.

This offseason you can probably count on another round of Church trade talks. It's inevitable. But you have to wonder what the market will be if they couldn't drum up one in the past. Church's best argument in the past was that if you take his combined 2005/2006, you have one really decent season (.282/.359/.491, 19 HR, 77 RBI, 32 doubles in 464 at-bats). Well, now you see that the numbers compressed into one season (other than the doubles) fall off. There are still questions about whether Church can take the physical and mental grind of playing every day.

Langerhans: His best role appears to be fifth outfielder/defensive replacement. He's a center fielder that can be used in the corners.

Pena: I asked someone who would know if Pena is likely to be the starter in left field next year. "It looks like he's the leader right now," the person said. "He'd have to be."

You can debate how bad strikeouts are and use Pena as the centerpiece. But even if those strikeouts were replaced by other outs, one other thing concerns me about him: His inability to draw walks. In just the few weeks I've watched him, the guy simply doesn't seem to be able to lay off breaking pitches out of the zone. He must - MUST - figure out how to do that. Even when he had that key hit the other night against Florida, taking a fastball the other way against Marlins closer Kevin Gregg, he absolutely flailed at two sliders in the same at-bat.

Prospects: It'll be a while before Marrero's ready. Even 2009 would be too early to expect. Daniel must build on his nice season.

With that, I leave it to you. I'll tag on some lineups when I get them at the park.

By Barry Svrluga  |  September 8, 2007; 1:58 PM ET
 
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Next: The homestretch

Comments

Boy, when you look at Kearns's contract numbers, you really see how much he's underperformed this year. You don't pay big bucks like that just for good D! Still, I think he's coming around at the plate of late and has good potential. I'd keep him, along with WMP in left, and a new guy rather than a Nook guy in center. With Church and Logan as your fourth/fifth guys, that's not a bad outfield, either in the field or at the plate.

Posted by: Section 419 | September 8, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

There is also Burgess...and besides him, Marrero, and Daniel there isnt much to speak of above the SS-A Level.

Posted by: Andrew S. | September 8, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Once again, Church is making a mere fraction of what Kearns has making. 1/7th to be exact and if anything, Church has put up the exact same numbers. Why wouldn't we want to keep Church to light more of a fire under Kearns?

Maybe the Nats brass doesn't feel that Church has the stamina or physical ability to play everyday but we should definitely keep him.

And I am still not sold on Wily Mo Pena being the answer. Yes, he does have inhuman powers that allow him to hit the ball real far. But his numbers in Wash so far have been less than stellar, we have 3 outfielders that are hitting more efficiently than he is.

Thanks for the great post Barry, I can't wait to see this dicussion continue.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | September 8, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

What this discussion (thanks again, Barry) tells me is that it is very difficult to find ways to improve this team--or any team. I was listening to the TBS announcers talk about what the Braves can do to help themselves in the offseason. The consensus seemed to be: not much.

That same conclusion seems applicable to the Nats. So even if I think Bowden is not the greatest, etc., even a Moses could not come down from the mountain with any kind of quick-fix game plan. There's a real shortage of major league talent in the major leagues, and teams seem to be hoarding what little they've got.

And how many "can't miss" prospects are there, within or without the Nats' organization? Man, I'm glad I only watch games and don't have to worry about what personnel to put on the field and where to find improvements. This is going to be a long, slow slog uphill.

Posted by: JohnR(VA) | September 8, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

you left out jmax

Posted by: love | September 8, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

>What this discussion (thanks again, Barry) tells me is that it is very difficult to find ways to improve this team--or any team.<

Even the best teams with the best farm systems have no more than a 18-24 players who are likely to be solid major league players. A handful of those have a chance to be top quality. The rest of the organization are career minor leaguers or "cup of coffee" type players.

Despite what many experts say and despite the team being mismanaged by the MLB for all of those years, the Nationals organization isn't that far from that.

Posted by: Paul | September 8, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Ithink that the cautionary note should be is that the Nats don't have one complete player in their whole outfield. There is no phase of the game in which any of those guys excel. Keanrs is a great fielder who throws well, but can't hit. WMP can bhit for occassional power, but does not have consistent at-bats and his defense is shaky. Church seems to give away too many at bats and isn't an organizational favorite. Marrero's best position may be DH. And Alex Escobar...who knows what his ceiling could be if he could stay healthy. Sadly, there are no do-it-all players available in free agency.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 8, 2007 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I think Justin Maxwell is projected as a center fielder, not corner so he will come up in that position by position analysis.

One key question that needs to be answered before the FO can make a decision on the existing corner outfielders is how long till some or all of the existing prospects are ready for the bigs?

Daniels - 1-2 yrs
Marrero - 3-4 yrs
Burgess - 3-4 yrs
Englund - 3-4 yrs

Help is coming but its going to be a while...but don't go signing any 8 year deals with 30 year olds either...

Posted by: estuartj | September 8, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Keep Kearns in right, and you play Wily Mo at all costs in left and hope he learns to hit something other than fastballs (he actually killed a breaking ball for a HR recently -- was that Monday night against the Marlins?). I believe in WMP, strikeouts and all.

Not to jump ahead (unless I missed it previously), but the more interesting question (to me, anyway) is what happens in center going forward. Seems a lock they'll make a run at Andruw Jones, but I wonder if the price tag will be too high -- considering that Torii Hunter might have sent a signal as to what the market is going to be like this offseason, if it's true that the contract offer from the Twins he turned down earlier this week was 3-years, $45 mil -- unless Hunter just either grossly overvalued himself or is so ready to bail on Minnesota at all costs that he would've turned down anything they threw at him. Then again, there's always Alex Escobar.

Posted by: The Nationals Enquirer | September 8, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Maxwell in Center.

Posted by: Play the Terp | September 8, 2007 7:49 PM | Report abuse

What happens to K Casto after this season? Is he non tendered? Does he ask for his release? This off season is going to be really interesting. . . .

Posted by: Tom | September 8, 2007 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Ryan. What are you doing? Is it just fatigue? I mean, obviously something is up, but finding the problem and addressing the issue needs to become a priority right quick for Manny. Speaking of whom, did anyone else chuckle at his little head shake when Corrales got thrown?

Posted by: Atlanta | September 8, 2007 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Does Kearns have the fifth-lowest OPS, or the fifth-lowest OBP?

Posted by: jon | September 8, 2007 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Memo to Manny....sit Zimm out tomorrow, send him to Miami to await the teams arrival later that night. Even the throw that made it to first pulled DY off the bag. He needs a mental health day. Gov't employees are familiar with that term..lol.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | September 8, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Okay, whoever's pinching the Nats voodoo doll, STOP IT RIGHT NOW.

Are these guys snake-bit, or what?!?

Posted by: Juan-John | September 8, 2007 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Geez, at this rate, I'm starting to wonder if Michigan even could beat Duke. Oh to be a Duke football fan. Since I became a Duke football fan, I have seen more winless seasons than seasons with wins. I'm still sad that we couldn't bring Spurrier back (though I'm not certain that Duke is big enough for his ego and Coach K's). Heck, sometimes I wonder if Sonny at his advancing age would be an upgrade over the current quarterback at his alma mater. Oh well, it still better than being an O's fan. If you ever wonder how Svrluga stay upbeat on the Nats beat, it sure beats covering Ted Roof and co.

Posted by: dukie in sactown | September 8, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

I am not sure whether you keep playing Zimmerman or rest him. If you rest him he might develop a block. I stll remember Sax and the Yankee second baseman. Zimmerman seems to be holding back when he throws. He does not seem to trust his mechanics- this from watching him on TV.

Posted by: mjames | September 8, 2007 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Man, you guys are finicky. Kearns has a bad half season and everybody's ready to right him off! Look at his career, not how terrible he played in the first half. Crap happens, and none of you were ready to cut bait with Zimmerman after May.

Posted by: Chris | September 8, 2007 10:37 PM | Report abuse

A. Kearns + new Nats park = bigger numbers. But...thats probably true for everyone, gulp, including pitchers.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | September 8, 2007 10:49 PM | Report abuse

everyone on here has been clamoring for the nats to sign a FA CF, so maxwell better learn to play corner and he needs to be considered for left or right

Posted by: love | September 9, 2007 12:17 AM | Report abuse

I want to like Kearns, really I do. He's an exceptional right fielder. Saving a run is an important as producing one.
But there is something about him at the plate that makes me uneasy. Even when he is going well, as he has been recently, he doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. I don't know the numbers on this, but it seems to me that he rarely makes a productive out. I can't quite articulate this, but he looks a little snake bit up there, like he's lost confidence. He is driving the ball with more frequency and authority than he did in the first half so maybe he is emerging from a really, really long funk. Let's hope so because I think he's going to be around for awhile.
I like Wily Mo more than I thought I would. He's faster than I remembered and he appears to hustle. He still reminds me of the character in Major League whose bat was afraid of the crooked ball but maybe he is the sort of hitter Lenny Harris can help. He's still very young and has enormous potential.
After the ugliness of the past two nights, I'm certainly ready to think about next year. For the first time this season, this has looked like a team resigned to failure playing out the string.

Posted by: Salty Dog | September 9, 2007 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Am I imagining things or does the Nats defense tend to blow up against better teams? Isn't a ground out a ground out no matter who hits it?

Posted by: Ed | September 9, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Kearns is still relatively cheap, $3.5m is very low for a starting RF, even $5m is low for a starter. This year was an off year but he's under contract, you can't trade him so let's see what he does. It's like we'd be ahead of the Mets if he had a career year.

I think if Kearns wasn't under contract, they'd be as unsold on him for the future as Church. I like their hesitancy w/ Church, he isn't up to par for a starting corner outfielder.

Pena, right now, is not an effective hitter. I don't care how far he can hit it, if he can't lay off the breaking stuff, it won't ever matter. Having said that, I'm all for giving him a one year at around 2m, even 3m, see if Harris can get him off the breaking stuff.

I don't get why Marerro has to take 3-4 years. If he does well at AA in '08, then AAA '09 w/ mid-season call-up?

Langerhans is, at best, a 5th outfielder, defensive replacement, pinch-runner and has been around long enough to prove that he's unlikely to be more.

We've made really good progress on getting good outfielders in the system, we have like 4-5 solid prospects who had good seasons in A ball. We need to keep that up and by '09, '10 we can a really strong outfield built mostly on home-grown talent.

Posted by: mlwagnercpa | September 9, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse


Maybe I'm missing something, but why is there no longer a link from the game story to the Nationals Journal?

Posted by: Nats fan in NJ | September 9, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

The scary part is that the free agent market for Corner OF is not good either.

We will likely need to part with some of the kids in Vermont if we want any quality OF prospects.

My fear is that we will continue to be the recreation of the older and never successful Cincinati Reds of old as Bowden brings Adam Dunn into the fold. The sad part is the fact that he would be a big upgrade.

Posted by: roman1735 | September 9, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

That a way Church!

In RFK that is just a long fly out...

Posted by: natsinthevalley | September 9, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

In Church's last 3 starts he is 6-11 with 5 RBIs. Compare that to WMP who is 2-10 in his last 3 starts with but 1 RBI.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | September 9, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

You know Church, if you saved that massive blast for two doubles, you'd be closer to 50 on the season. . .

I jest, of course. Well done.

Posted by: Atlanta | September 9, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I was thinking about Zimmerman needs to have a day off when he drove a liner over the RF wall for a HR.

Ha. What do I know?

Nats 7

Braves 4

Posted by: Viva Livan | September 9, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else think that Lopez coming in as a defensive replacement is kind of hilarious?

Overall though, a good win. Rauch worried me though...

Posted by: NattyDelite! | September 9, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Not a bad week in Natsland when you look at it from up high. The Nats are on pace for 73-89 and only need to go 8 and 11 for the rest of the year then they will beat last year's Nats. That would mean winning at least one game in the remaining six series and another two victories here or there. Very doable.

Here's the list. I didn't think any team has fallen as much as Oakland this year, but then there's Minnesota, only six games ahead of the Nats!

30. Tampa Bay (60-83), .420 (-4)
28. Chi Sox (61-82), .427 (-3)
28. Florida (61-82), .427 (-3)
27. Baltimore (61-81), .430 (-2.5)
26. Houston (62-81), .434 (-2)
25. Kansas City (62-80), .437 (-1.5)
24. Pittsburgh (63-80), .441 (-1)
22. Cincinnati (64-79), .448 (0)
22. NATS!!! (64-79), .448 (0)
21. San Francisco (65-78), .455 (1)
20. Texas (68-74), .479 (4.5)
19. Oakland (69-75), .479 (4.5)
18. Minnesota (70-73), .490 (6)

ATLANTA - 3 games (5-8)
Division (8.5 GB, E#: 12) - sweep would move E# to 9
Wild Card (4.5 GB, E#: 16) - sweep would move E# to 13

PHILADELPHIA - 7 games (4-7)
Division (6 GB, E#: 15) - sweep would move E# to 8
Wild Card (2 GB, E#: 19) - sweep would move E# to 12

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | September 9, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

if we do sign a free agent centerfield, like andruw jones!, maxwell could just as easily play left field to start the 2009 season and move to center following that. jones is gonna play rightfield sooner than later and just hit homeruns. seems like our current corner guys are setup to be gone within two years. i don't see kearns getting his $10 million.

so this could play out opening day(LF,CF,RF):

2008 - Wily Mo, Nook, Kearns
2009 - Moises Alou, Maxwell, Kearns
2010 - Marrero, Maxwell, Burgess

maybe michael burgess will progress fast. if they feel he will i suspect no long term free agent OF this year and we'll think about all the Free Agent possibilities again for 2009...

no way does this team sign dunn. his glove is embarassing. to develop a pitching staff they will need to know they can can trust their defense. unfortunately that could be Marrero's big issue.

2009 is going to be a very exciting year as the homegrown show up throughout and pitching starts to realize itself (eventually these minor leaguers will have to sell 37,000 seats). 2008 new stadium, 2009 real nats, 2010 get used to the playoffs!

Posted by: longterm | September 10, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Marrero and Burgess are still very, very young. They need time to develop as complete hitters and defenders. 2010 is a best case for either of them IMO. We'll see by ST if Justin Maxwell is ready for the bigs and Michael Daniel has the potential to be ready by sometime in the 2009 season.

Starting pitching is similiar, Detwiler is in the same bag as Mazwell, except that he won't be pitching this fall. I expect we'll see Jordan Zimmerman sometime soon, he might be capable of making a Lannan-esc jump next year, but with our rotation being significantly less desperate I don't think we'll see him in the bigs till the end of '09 (if all goes well). Gibson/Wilems/Smoker/McGeary are all a long way off, much like Burgess/Englund/Marrero so I doubt we'll see any of them before 2010.

Help is coming, but it's a long way off.

Posted by: estuartj | September 10, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

With the resurgence of Nook Logan and the possible resurgence of Austin Kearns, I'm having a very hard time thinking of a reason to waste money in the free agent market in 2008.

In 2009 it is looking like a FA could be the final piece of the puzzle

In 2008 a FA sounds suspiciously like an Angelos-esque move that prevents some natural development or robs the team of a young talent who goes to sign elsewhere for more money.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | September 10, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Sec 506 may well be right. '08 F/A is very iffy. Not only are the available players in the positions that many of us have identified mediocre, at best, but most seem seriously flawed.

Additionally, of course, we are faced with a ballpark that we don't yet understand. Maybe the best bet, at this point, is to eat Guzman's contract, dump FLop, and spend it on middle infielders. If they are young enough, overspending might not be a horrible idea.

Just a thought I thought I'd throw out.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 10, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Kind of a tautology, there, in that having that many Ks necessarily means he is swinging at bad pitches, as well as/as opposed to missing good ones. Does anybody strike out 150 times a year, AND walk much? Hard to see how you could do that. Quit swinging at the waste pitches, and Ks almost have to go down, and walks will have to go up, at least until the pitching adjusts.
Matt Williams, for instance (I'm reminded, since his name came up in the Zimm discussion), was back and forth on the AAA-shuttle for a couple of years, until he learned to take curveballs in the dirt off the plate. But he did learn.
I believe WMP can, too, but we'll see.

----------
"You can debate how bad strikeouts are and use Pena as the centerpiece. But even if those strikeouts were replaced by other outs, one other thing concerns me about him: His inability to draw walks."

Posted by: CEvans | September 10, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Hunter is said to be looking for 5 years.
--------
"Torii Hunter might have sent a signal as to what the market is going to be like this offseason, if it's true that the contract offer from the Twins he turned down earlier this week was 3-years, $45 mil ..."

Posted by: CEvans | September 10, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

That should have read "(On-base Plus Slugging)" -- if his OBP were .757 we'd be having a very different discussion.

----------
Does Kearns have the fifth-lowest OPS, or the fifth-lowest OBP?
Posted by: jon | September 8, 2007 08:48 PM
---------
"Of all NL outfielders who qualify for the batting title (3.1 plate appearances/team's game), Kearns has the fifth-lowest OPS (on-base percentage). Lower than his .757: ..."

Posted by: CEvansJr | September 10, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Kearns strong defensive play and work ethic make him a keeper. He (like most Nats) has had very little protection behind him. If he's batting 6th or 7th he's worth keeping. However, if you need to bat your rightfielder 4th or 5th, he's not going to be accpetable. WMP is not the likely LF for 2008 in my opinion. I believe TBD has the upper hand in that competition. TBD has a better average, OPS, and OBP than WMP. Langerhans doesn't make the team. (note: the acccomplished flyhawk was left out of this discussion, but he does not make the team in 08 either). Church cannot bring much in trade but you really have to create roster space for more productive hitters. If you can find a corner outfileder with more pop you should go get him. However, if kept, Church should have a decent shot at a career year next year at the new ball park. You probably only get 5 outfielders on your team: Kearns, TBD (LF), TBD (CF), Church, and WMP are my bets. Logan may yet make it, but they'll have to try to upgrade there too.

Posted by: NatBisquit | September 10, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

With Logan and Kearns looking up and Maxwell probably ready to step up soon (maybe even for '08), I think we should invest the time and money in Pena to see what we got. He is only 25 years old.

A better use of our increase in salary for next year would be to trade for a middle infielder, preferabbly someone who can play either position. Looking at the FA market for infielders this is going to have to come in a trade.

Does anyone know what 2B/SS's are coming up for FA next year that Bowden might be able to pull a Soriano type trade for?

With Logan, Church, Lopez plus several middle reliever/Set-up guys all available and marketable (to various degrees) I'm sure JimBow can put together a deal.

Who is on that list?

Posted by: estuartj | September 10, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

If the Nats get pitching next year that is close to what they got the second half, they can be a wildcard contender in the NL. The NL is just not that strong. But that is only if the improve their hitting. Does anyone really think we have the pieces in place to get one more run per game, even in a new ballpark? We can wait around for the minors to produce an answer or we go into the free agent/trade market. We'll know how seriously the franchise is taking 2008 by what they do this off season.

Posted by: Arlington Nats Fan | September 10, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"We'll know how seriously the franchise is taking 2008 by what they do this off season."

Do you mean if they wait for homegrown talent by following a strategy that time and again has proven a winner or that they prove they just want seats in seats by signing a mediocre big name free-agent for a lot of money and forget about rebuilding?

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | September 10, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Is Church really that bad? Is he a total jerk or something? It just seems that he's a solid player especially for how much he gets paid.

Posted by: Patty | September 10, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"Is Church really that bad?"

He is not Eric Byrnes, but that is not a damning sin in most clubhouses. He does measure up favorably against the Langerhanses and Snellings.

"Is he a total jerk or something?"

He doesn't seem to be a total jerk, so "or something" gets the nod for now. There seems to have been a disconnect somewhere since the day he and F. Robby first shook hands. In any event, performance alone doesn't explain it.

Posted by: Hendo | September 10, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

"If the Nats get pitching next year that is close to what they got the second half, they can be a wildcard contender in the NL. . . . But that is only if they improve their hitting."

As was mentioned on Phil Wood's show Saturday, and is mentioned in this forum from time to time, the hitting *might* improve on its own, depending on the new dimensions of Nats Park. (Or, as was also mentioned on the show, it might not. OPACY was envisioned by some as a home-run-derby bandbox, and that didn't come to pass.)

The subtler implication is that it might be prudent not to shell out big dollars on slugging outfielders until we see how Nats Park works out. If Nats pitchers start getting creamed every night (let's hope not, but stay with me here a minute) it'll take more than one powerful outfielder to make up for that.

Particularly if, as Barry notes re WMP, that outfielder does not have a habit of taking walks.

Posted by: Hendo | September 10, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Kearns isn't going anywhere for at least 2 more years -- see "contract", above -- absent injury. Get used to it.
IF WMP can learn to identify breaking pitches early enough to bring his Ks down to merely bad, say, 100/y, he should get enough fastballs to hit >.250 with 40+ hr, which, with competent defense, probably keeps him starting in left, especially if they have a big bat in center. You don't sign a guy with his swing for OBP.

Posted by: CEvans | September 10, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

So, that would mean waiting at least one more year, no?
-------
The subtler implication is that it might be prudent not to shell out big dollars on slugging outfielders until we see how Nats Park works out.
Posted by: Hendo | September 10, 2007 01:23 PM

Posted by: CEvans | September 10, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

CEvans notes re WMP: "You don't sign a guy with his swing for OBP."

Maybe not, but without OBP, if he loses his swing for whatever reason, he's Cristian Guzman in 2005. Just saying.

Posted by: Hendo | September 10, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Has the infamous "player to be named later" been announced for the Ray King deal?

I hope like hell it is a corner OF prospect. We could certainly use it after these discussions.

They should start having Marrero play 1B now, since his OF ability is limited. He grew up a 3B, so 1B should not be too far a jump. He'll be ready right as the NJ and Meathook contracts expire.

Posted by: roman1735 | September 10, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Church will probably hang around as a 4th outfielder until free agency, then move on. Langerhans and Escobar are gone. Marrero and Daniel won't be ready before 2010, from what we've read here. If they do get Dunn, just substitute him for Peña in my post above.

Posted by: CEvansJr | September 10, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"So, that would mean waiting at least one more year, no?"

Kind of. Keep in mind that we're already most of the way to next season, having shuffled the outfield considerably and the pitching staff virtually completely from Opening Day '07. And there's sure to be more shufflage during the '08 season.

Nonetheless, anyone who claims to know the ingredients needed to make this team a winner in '08 (and that includes potential snarky suggestions such as exchanging them for the New York Mets) has a better crystal ball than I have. Until we've seen the park shake itself out for a season, we don't know nothin'.

Posted by: Hendo | September 10, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

True enough. If he loses his swing, then he is the guy Boston traded, not the guy Bowden traded for. And if he cuts down on strikeouts by grounding into double plays, that won't help, either.
We all know he is not a 5-tool guy. He only works if he can lay off the breaking pitches and drive in runs consistently.

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"You don't sign a guy with his swing for OBP."
--
Maybe not, but without OBP, if he loses his swing for whatever reason, he's Cristian Guzman in 2005. Just saying.
Posted by: Hendo | September 10, 2007 01:42 PM

Posted by: CEvansJr | September 10, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Even more true here than usual, you're right.

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Until we've seen the park shake itself out for a season, we don't know nothin'.
Posted by: Hendo | September 10, 2007 01:48 PM

Posted by: CEvans | September 10, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I could have this wrong, but I thought Marrero is working on left field because they gave up on him being a competent 1st baseman.
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They should start having Marrero play 1B now, since his OF ability is limited. He grew up a 3B, so 1B should not be too far a jump. He'll be ready right as the NJ and Meathook contracts expire.
Posted by: roman1735 | September 10, 2007 01:44 PM

Posted by: CEvans | September 10, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Section 506, Hendo: While I'll admit I'm not certain who they should try to sign in the off season, if the franchise really believes in this pitching staff for '08 (and I'll admit to being irrationally exuberant), finding a bat to improve your lot for '08 shows a commitment to watching scoreboards and standings in September. We will have money to spend in the off-season. I'm not saying you sign A. Jones to a Soriano-sized contract, but going after Rowand or Fukudome for more reasonable money could make a lot more sense than waiting around for player development to pan out. If we don't, the '08 transition year could be very ugly.

Posted by: Arlington Nats Fan | September 10, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

". . . going after Rowand or Fukudome for more reasonable money could make a lot more sense than waiting around for player development to pan out. If we don't, the '08 transition year could be very ugly."

1. Uglier than '07? I doubt it.
2. '07 isn't gonna end up that ugly anyhow.
3. Player development already is panning out. It's just taken some imagination about how to develop them. (It's about more than the draft and the farm system by themselves.)
4. Rowand will go for very nearly what Sori did, if not more. Fukudome -- who knows?
5. The point anyway is not that Rowand might not make sense. The point is that we don't know what we're going to need in pitching. Maybe not much. Maybe a lot. Having a Rowand on board and losing 10-8 every night -- now that could be ugly.

Posted by: Hendo | September 10, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I read your post about the new stadium and seeing how it plays. That does make a lot of sense. Church may suddenly become a 30 home run guy while Hill's ERA hits 5.00. The idea that Rowand will draw Soriano money strikes me as nuts, but you could end up being right there as well.

The Nats have given up 106 more runs than they have scored. Or you could say the Nats have scored 106 runs less than they have given up. I think it is better stated the latter way and that's where their off season focus should be.

I just don't see the players in jerseys right now clsoing the gap next year.

Posted by: Arlington Nats Fan | September 10, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

If memory serves, an iffy proposition, the home-road splits of Church and Kearns aren't overwhelming. Meaning that offensively they are just underwhelming. Both of them are probably plus defensive corner outfielders, but as Barry posted, in the bottom third at best among MLB outfielders. So what's to lose - besides defense - giving WMP an extended trial? Sure he might stink, but the risk is worth it. We already stink offensively in LF and RF.

Like so many of us fans, I too have come to like Church, feeling he was dissed by Frank despite good potential, and Kearns, liking his hustle and D. But we have to find some offense somewhere and outfielders who have been proven to be below average have to be replaceable.

I haven't thought through the free agent pool or guys who might be traded, but there's gonna be $30m to spend next year, let's buy some bats somewhere. Middle infield or anywhere outfield.

Posted by: Geezer | September 10, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

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