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A competition at second?

Remember when the Nats acquired Emilio Bonifacio for Jon Rauch in late July? Team management said, both on that day and often thereafter, that Bonifacio was the second baseman of the future. And once he was up in the big leagues, he'd play every day.

Well, now that picture has been muddled a bit. And it's not just because of Bonifacio's production -- he's hitting .246, but has shown flashes of ability. It's also because of the unforeseen emergence of Anderson Hernandez, acquired in a far less heralded trade (with the Mets) one month later. Hernandez was coming straight from the Mets' Class AAA affiliate, where he had a .203 average. The Nats hoped Hernandez could perhaps provide some middle infield depth. He had a decent glove.

Well, now we've had 25 games since Hernandez's acquisition. And they've been transformative. He's started 13 games, including tonight. The truth is, Hernandez, 25, is better against lefties and breaking balls than Bonifacio, 23, is. Today, Manny Acta acknowledged that the team will likely have a competition for the job at second base entering 2009. Depending on how the offseason shakes out at 1B and RF, that could be the only starting job up for grabs in Viera, Fla.

Here's a comparison so far of Bonifacio and Hernandez:

Bonifacio:
130 AB, 32 H, .246 AVG, 4 2B, 4 3B, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 6 SB, .298 OBP, .338 SLG

Hernandez
53 AB, 18 H, .340 AVG, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 12 RBI, 0 SB, .417 OBP, .358 SLG

Acta was asked today if the two were close enough defensively that their work at the plate would eventually determine the starting job.

"I think it will have to be what they bring to the table offensively and on-base percentage and stuff like that," Acta said. "But it's so early. Don't forget, come spring training, a lot of things come into play: Options, who plays well."

And how is he structuring playing time between the two right now?

"Right now I'm just doing the best match-ups possible. Like, yesterday I didn't play Boni against Pedro [Martinez] because Pedro throws a lot of off-speed stuff, and he's a young guy, a real young guy, and I didn't want him struggling with that. Anderson has been around longer. [Bonifacio] will play tomorrow against Knight. And then mostly with lefties I've thrown Hernandez out there, too, because we keep working with Boni from the right side."

By Chico Harlan  |  September 16, 2008; 7:20 PM ET
 
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Comments

Chico, sorry, but this one is a non-contreversy until Spring Training. Boni & A.Hendz both bring things to the plate and each take different things away. Don't bother bringing it up until next season in Viera.

Posted by: BIM | September 16, 2008 7:55 PM | Report abuse

BTW, see the last string for a by-position composite of batting performance.

Posted by: BIM | September 16, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

I figured out why they're stopping broadcasting the Nats on 107.7. Don't believe the hype that this a Bonneville decision. No, it's actually a Lerner/Kasten plot to drive up attendance by forcing us fans to come to the ballpark if we want to follow the Nats: first, they rehire Carpenter so that the tv broadcasts remain unwatchable, and now they eliminate radio frequencies to make the games unlistenable too. Brilliant! Bill Wirtz would be proud.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 16, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

step away from the tin foil hats...

Posted by: SF Fan | September 16, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Funny, CiL!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 16, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Pummel Pelfrey!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 16, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Chico, one more thing - You asked specifically about defensive ability - Manny deflected the question and responded by referring to overall offensive performance; End result = a non-answer. Why even bother with this string? Bonifacio has shown speed+ & defensive range+, and lacks power; Meanwhile, A.Hernz has shown no speed, decent range, no power, but a skill for the "moment" (10RBI). A good possible platoon situation for next year, but nothing more.

Posted by: BIM | September 16, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Hernandez: .367 BABIP = Lucky, won't continue, nevermind.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 16, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

@CiL: Not just funny, but hilarious & sadly true. Reception on 1500AM where I live & drive (Manassas-Western Fairfax) is not good, to be kind. Apparently the coverage problems now stretch beyond that of the WaPo alone. Sad, just sad...

Posted by: BIM | September 16, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Do you assume no one will be traded during the off season? Probably not a bad assumption. Does either one project as a utility infielder?

Posted by: Tom | September 16, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

@Tom: If your'e respondinding to my posted numbers, they were based on current rosters only - no projectins. If you're looking for projections, don't ask me.

Posted by: BIM | September 16, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

How about that Willie Harris? (it sounded good on the radio - 107.7 for tonite)

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 16, 2008 8:54 PM | Report abuse

@1a: Willie is this season's "super-sub". We love him, hope we can find a way to keep him, but will mourn him when he's gone. BTW, I hope the nats re-sign him for a 1-yr (w/possible option).

Posted by: BIM | September 16, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

no chat this week, chico? don't see one listed.

Posted by: natsscribe | September 16, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you on that, BIM.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 16, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

I think that Acta reads the blog. A starting pitcher, throwing a shutout, still in the game in the seventh inning. Wouldn't have happened a few days ago.

Posted by: JT | September 16, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Or else Acta watched the 8th inning in that fateful game with the Marlins... :D

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 16, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

@1a: Whoo-Hoo! - some agreement & happiness on Planet NJ. Seems like a long time...

Posted by: BIM | September 16, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse


Oh please. If no one posted anything here that was irrelevant, pointless, already beaten to filth, or just brain-dead, you could count the used pixels on one hand.

************
Chico, sorry, but this one is a non-contreversy until Spring Training. Boni & A.Hendz both bring things to the plate and each take different things away. Don't bother bringing it up until next season in Viera.

Posted by: BIM | September 16, 2008 7:55 PM

Posted by: ce | September 16, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Which is not to say this was any of those. It'll be interesting to anticipate how this plays out in, yes, spring training.

Posted by: ce again | September 16, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Surely does seem that way, BIM (I'm agreeing again). :D

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 16, 2008 9:12 PM | Report abuse

@1a: ACK! How dare you bring up the abomination that occured on 9/14! That one was purely on Manny, and In my mind shouldn't even be acredited to the team.

Posted by: BIM | September 16, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

er...uh...oops? Sorry about the flashback...

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 16, 2008 9:18 PM | Report abuse

The reason that Acta leaves OPerez in is that OP actually hits... a double! and the only run scored!

Posted by: SF Fan | September 16, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Who wants to tell him?

************
It will be interesting to see if the Nats offer arbritration to Cordero & Colome.
Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | September 16, 2008 3:34 PM

Posted by: Sec. 3 my couch | September 16, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

And a belated POTD to BobL for the Tolman line.

Posted by: CE | September 16, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

pull him, Manny, pull him!

Posted by: SF Fan | September 16, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

That was a good line, ce.

Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned that prior inning. Bad mojo. Unfortunately, I don't have a live chicken to sacrifice. Maybe I'll just pound on a stuffed Easter chicken. Back later...

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 16, 2008 9:27 PM | Report abuse

@ce: My point was that Chico (the WaPo writer of record) probably shouldn't be the one raising a in-progress player point in-season on the blog. He's a reporter - his job on this forum is to feed us information (not opinion, spun or otherwise) that we can comment on, pro or con.
Acta's/Bowden's/Kasten's decisions are an issue for Chico to cover & for the knuckleheads (like you & I) to raise/discuss/dismiss/etc. over the course of the string. My bottom line for Mr. Harlan here is, report the facts, not your opinion.

Posted by: BIM | September 16, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Houdini Hinckley!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 16, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

WTG Nats!

SEA is getting crushed by KC, but SD is leading early.

Posted by: estuartj | September 16, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

The Cubs-fan wife is loving this...

Posted by: ce | September 16, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Listened to the top of the ninth on WFAN via MLB.com. After Delgado struck out, Mets announcer Howie Rose sounded like "Uh, oh...We've seen this movie before." Beat the Mets! Beat the Mets!

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 16, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

BIM, I dissent.
In the paper, he's a reporter. In this blog, which is more like a column, he's more like a columnist, and has more latitude.

FWIW, this was discussed (not that that is in any way dispositive, just sayin) extensively back in the day, with Barry.

Posted by: CE | September 16, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Atta team, Nats!!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 16, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

But you know what? F that. I'm going to a ball game tomorrow night. Look for me around section 320 - first one's on me.

Posted by: ce | September 16, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

carp suggested calling the zimmerman charging play a zim, you got zimmed...i say we call it a zim job. what a zim job, that zim job was worth a million bucks, i want another zim job, etc.

Posted by: love | September 16, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

I nominate Perez for player, Harris for play of the game.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 16, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

this the second 1-0 loss the nats have hung on pelfry. bergmann beat him at shea on may 15.

Posted by: natsscribe | September 16, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Folks, we need to not assign any great conspiracies to the radio thing. I grew up listening to the Nats (Senators) on WWDC, 1260 AM. That was all my life. Radio stations come and go. Call letters (which don't seem to matter, anyway) change. Even signals seem to change. If you want stability, get Satellite Radio, but don't hold your breath. That may go by the boards. The landscape changes from month to month.

The Bonifacio / Hernandez question is on my top ten list of things for the Nats to do this winter. I'll compile the complete list in a couple of days and put it on line. Bonifacio is about number 7...basically, he needs to be sent to Mexico for the winter. That is the best way for him to learn to hit curves.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 16, 2008 10:46 PM | Report abuse

SEA lost and SD is losing bad.

Good day for the Nats, no matter what happens with Strasburg it's a good day.

Posted by: estuartj | September 16, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Bad news from Boswell, lots of anonymous sources from within the team are griping about Ted Lerner being unwilling to sign players.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 11:23 PM | Report abuse

admittedly, i don't follow the team closely. however, it struck me at the time that dealing a proven, young (?) closer for an iffy prospect at a position that is relatively easy to fill, was kind of crazily optimistic. i'm not a bowden basher, but that one made me wonder.

i haven't noticed a lot of criticism of the trade. what's the concensus?

Posted by: stevie | September 16, 2008 11:25 PM | Report abuse

I figured out why they're stopping broadcasting the Nats on 107.7. Don't believe the hype that this a Bonneville decision. No, it's actually a Lerner/Kasten plot to drive up attendance by forcing us fans to come to the ballpark if we want to follow the Nats: first, they rehire Carpenter so that the tv broadcasts remain unwatchable, and now they eliminate radio frequencies to make the games unlistenable too. Brilliant! Bill Wirtz would be proud.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 16, 2008 8:15 PM

I wouldn't call that brilliant, if tonight's half-filled stadium is evidence -- even with all those Mets fans.

As for the second base question, I'm intrigued that this is only coming up now. It seemed obvious to me over a week ago that Hernandez was out-playing Bonifacio. Lest we forget...the Mets had fairly high hopes for Hernandez when they handed their second-base job to him. He got hurt, and then he sucked -- so, they brought in Cairo and then Castillo, and they gave up on Hernandez.

He has ability and, as Acta noted, he's been around longer. He will have a big advantage over Bonfacio in a spring training competition. In fact, I would guess that Bonifacio would have to really outplay Hernandez to get the job. My guess is the Nats will opt to give Bonifacio more seasoning in the minors, and give Hernandez a shot to prove he can play every day in the bigs -- with a veteran backup to be named later....

Why is Hernandez hitting so much better than he did at New Orleans, for the Mets AAA club? Ray Knight offered some interesting thoughts a few days ago. Knight said he was a better hitter in the majors than he ever was in the minors -- for two reasons. The pitchers are better, so they're around the plate more. If you can wait for a good pitch to hit, you'll probably see one. Also, it's far easier to actually see the ball in the majors, because the lighting is so much better at big league parks. Maybe, Hernandez is a better hitter in the majors...

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 16, 2008 11:43 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe, Hernandez is a better hitter in the majors..."

As is Jesus Flores, another ex-Met farmhand.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Boswell needs to be put out to pasture, or sent back to the Redskins beat to write about Chris Cooley's junk.

Posted by: an anonymous source from within the team | September 16, 2008 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Stevie, I think the consensus was mixed.
; )

Rauch was very possibly ripe, and Bonifacio is cheap. OTOH, they probably could have gotten more if Bowden weren't such a d*ck no one will deal with him, but he is, so it's good.

*************
i haven't noticed a lot of criticism of
the trade. what's the concensus?

Posted by: stevie | September 16, 2008 11:25 PM

Posted by: Willie Harris's junque | September 17, 2008 12:12 AM | Report abuse

A source within Nationals Park, quoted on condition of anonymity, suggested the beer might not all be cold, and some of the ushers let fans return to their seats during at-bats.

Posted by: Boswell's latest scandal | September 17, 2008 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Woah! Bos said that Zim was offered a Tulowitski type deal at the beginning of the year, what Zim considered a "fair deal". Does that satisfy our expecations of the Lerners with regards to Zim, or are they still cheap?

Posted by: SF Fan | September 17, 2008 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Old news.
Boswell is starting to write like he pitches: all over the place.

Posted by: Millie | September 17, 2008 1:08 AM | Report abuse

Forget 2nd base. I'm wondering about left field!

Did Willie Harris's sensational game-saving catch tonight earn him SERIOUS consideration for a starting role there next year? Hard to argue with what Harris has done for the team this year. The Nats could do a lot worse -- and moving Dukes away from his natural spot in right, or any other move intended to get Kearns back in the starting nine, would be worse.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 17, 2008 1:57 AM | Report abuse

Beautiful, perfect gem of a win tonight! And after Odalis got shelled in NY, so unexpected! It might be due to Lannan asking Martis how he gripped his changeup and Odalis getting involved in the discussion, throwing the new change to left-handers! And Niekro-like, he scores the winning run! What a gift gift from summer as the days get shorter!

Let's win 11!

Posted by: flynnie | September 17, 2008 4:53 AM | Report abuse

So many good story lines last night. Hinckley is a great one - former phenom, injured, down and out, now redeemed.

Willie Harris can start in LF only if the Nats find lots of power elsewhere - 1b is the only other spot with potential, unless you count improvements from current players. And that's not enough. So they have to get more pop in LF. Super sub looks like his best spot. We're in last place - we shouldn't overvalue our own players.

I love that Boz dropped the Z-bomb on the Lerners. Zim won't stay if the Lerners are Cheap. Good to see the Face of the Franchise use his leverage.

Posted by: Geezer | September 17, 2008 6:17 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if the value of a left fielder goes up if he saves an average of one run per game. Do people who emphasize so much power statistics weigh the difference of a take away of one run defense vs say an Adam Dunn who costs one run per game in left field? Seeing that a club may average 4 runs offense per game that one run difference would be a substantial statistic to consider. Now consider the demoralizing effect that Willie Harris has on certain clubs, i.e, The Mets, and a case can be made for making him a starting left fielder next year.

Posted by: Dale | September 17, 2008 7:13 AM | Report abuse

5 more!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 17, 2008 7:53 AM | Report abuse

yet again I've seen an intimation that AK might be moved to 1B, suggesting an outfield of WMP, Milledge, & Dukes ... does Austin have the footwork ??

Posted by: weeble | September 17, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I've gotta keep my head out of this blog and get some work done today 'cause I'm going to be at the park tonight to enjoy some of this perfect weather, pick up one of those silly green hats for my Rays-rootin' brother, and participate in aNOTHER curly-W over the Mets.


GO SOFTBALL GIRLS! Score early and score often on this Knight tonight.

That's all from me until after 5. :)

Posted by: i hate walks | September 17, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

"According to Lerner, not one person, either fan or employee, has said anything to him this season except, 'Good job.'"

Well then, let me be the first--and I will email this to Lerner and Kasten as well. Ted: You are doing a horrible job. You are a schmuck. You suck.

Posted by: Lerners ARE Cheap | September 17, 2008 8:23 AM | Report abuse

"Well then, let me be the first--and I will email this to Lerner and Kasten as well. Ted: You are doing a horrible job. You are a schmuck. You suck.

Posted by: Lerners ARE Cheap | September 17, 2008 8:23 AM "

Will you sign your real name to it, or will you continue to spew your bile under the cowardly cloak of anonymity as you do here?

Posted by: Talk IS Cheap | September 17, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

The Lerners are NOT cheap, if they are keeping the revenue as profit they are in fact Greedy. Only by refusing to spend their own money would they be cheap.

Posted by: estuartj | September 17, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I found Boswell's column this morning would have been more accurate about the performance of the team if it was written mid-summer. Yes it has been a very disappointing season, but we have now learned a great deal about where this team is going than we knew at the beginning of the year, or frankly any other year they have been in Washington.

Six field positions are now set with five players 24 or younger (3B, 2B, C, CF, RF, with Guzman at SS) when entering the year you could only project Zim. And the makings of a very solid bench with Harris, Belliard, Nieves, Kearns, Gonzales, and probable N. Johnson.

We have a solid middle to back end of a decent rotation.

An emerging bullpen with good prospects at closer and lefty-specialist, even though it does have holes.

And we know what we need: a power hitting lefty and a solid high average/RBI guy at the plate; and two real top of the rotation starters. Getting Strassberg would help the latter and allow some more money to be spent on power hitters.

Of course there are questions about whether Dukes, Flores, Milledge, and Bonafacio can develop into top tier players, but it impossible to deny that this is a solid young nucleus to build on that could turn into a sustainable contender with a few good additions.

Posted by: KG | September 17, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

listen: there's a hell of a good universe next door; let's go

Posted by: well, a new post, anyway | September 17, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

KG: You're on target. I've been saying that for a while now. It's been hard to watch the negativity in the Natosphere. The improvements have been significant, notwithstanding the won-loss record.
With the right decisions are made in the offseason--buy a hitter or two, have a good draft and be blessed with a little more health--then don't be surprised to see the team vying for a playoff spot as soon as next year.
You heard it here first.

Posted by: John DC | September 17, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

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