Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: AdamKilgoreWP and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  E-mail alerts: Sports and Redskins  |  RSS

If Johnson Is Healthy, Dunn Will Play LF

Provided first baseman Nick Johnson can prove he is healthy, the Washington Nationals prefer use newly acquired free agent Adam Dunn in left field, two sources said today.

For much of the last two seasons, injuries have prevented Johnson from being an everyday player. But Johnson, when healthy, provides plenty of advantages. He gets on base 40-percent of the time. He can hit for modest power (21 HR per 162 games, for his career). Plus, he's a splendid fielder at first base. Dunn flourishes neither at first base nor in left field, but in left, he'd displace somebody like Josh Willingham, who also has some defensive shortcomings.

The bottom line is, the Nats want to give Johnson a chance to be on the field this year, and Dunn's signing doesn't change that. But, Johnson first must prove two things. First, that he is fully recovered from the 2008 tendon injury in his right wrist that limited him to 38 games last year. And second, that all the missed time hasn't taken a toll on his ability.

Dunn, one of the sources said, has agreed to play either first base or left field.

Essentially, Washington has six players -- Dunn, Johnson, Willingham, Austin Kearns, Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge -- that it feels can be everyday players. The team has everyday spots for only four of them. Injuries/health might sort out some of the decision-making automatically. Plus, the Nats suddenly have numerous trade options. Of course, no Opening Day lineup is set in stone, and spring training performances will also help sort things out.

Johnson, to be sure, wants a chance to play every day, and has been working out in Viera, Fla., since last week with hitting coach Rick Eckstein.

"If I'm healthy, I want to be out there," he said this morning.

He ought to have that chance in DC.

By Chico Harlan  |  February 12, 2009; 10:33 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: So, Where Does He Play?
Next: Nats' Mini-Plans

Comments

The first four words of the title form the most-uttered phrase in Nationals Journal history.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 12, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I agree - I'd like both Dunn and Johnson in the line-up; however, this is all posturing.

Jimmy wants other guys to think they're trading for a starter, not a bench guy.

Posted by: Corey42 | February 12, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Pleeeeeease tell me Kearns will ride pine and OF is Dukes Milledge Dunn. Kearns' bat costs us way more runs than his glove saves.

Posted by: tlynch44 | February 12, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Chico,

You say that Johnson "feels healthy this spring." Others have said his wrist is still tender, he can't yet swing a bat, and may have to start the season on the DL. Which is it?

Have you spoken with him directly about his health and whether he thinks he'll be ready to play on opening day? That's an interview I for one would LOVE to read, as I'm a big fan of his, but have doubts about whether we'll ever see him in a Nats uniform again.

Posted by: wahoo2x | February 12, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I love the Dunn Signing but I think Nats really need to stop this line up shuffle pattern they have been running for the past few years. I can see it now.....Jimbo is thinking I will be able to trade the players who I really don't want to keep so if they start hot this spring......This is the same problem they had last year with Lopez, Estrada, Cap Red Ass and the same.......It does not work and it undercuts the manager and the team.....I hate this sign everyone no matter what position they play and hope to trade the excess......this approach killed team moral last year and will do so again.

Jimbo needs to make tough decisions and build a balanced roster soon.....before April.

Posted by: JayBeee | February 12, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

from previous thread:

ugh why does this make me cringe: "and Austin Kearns is their right fielder".

the guy flat out stinks. if he's not good get rid of him! isn't that what makes teams better? get rid of the ones who dont produce and sign and play players who can and have something to prove.

This team would be better without kearns, belliard, and willy mo. all players with paltry .200 something averages last season that arent quick and take up roster space

Posted by: skinzfan4 | February 12, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I hate to say it because I like him, but I believe the guy who gets dealt - if Nick is healthy (that is a default statement for every post) - is Milledge. He can get us some young player of note at a non outfield position, I don't see Kearns being moved based on his salary. Love to see Dunn-Milledge-Dukes, Nick 1B, Willingham the fill in guy but I don't see Kearns and his salary riding the pine.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | February 12, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Well, thank goodness. Really, it's the only sensible solution. Nick Johnson is one of the best hitters in the league; it makes no sense to simply decide not to play him. Insh'Allah, we'll have him and Dunn in there. More likely, just Dunn. And that's okay too -- we've said all winter that we can't count on Slick.

And JayBeee, I'm sure you remember that LoDuca and Estrada were not signed so they could be traded. They were signed so they could play behind the dish. An error, as it turned out, but not the error you're talking about. The "showcasing" thing (which I hated and don't want to see again) was more about trying to make lemonade with the fruit already on hand.

Posted by: Scooter_ | February 12, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I think OF should be Dunn, Dukes, Kearns and se if AK can turn it around. He's the best RF in the game defensively and actually quite good in CF too by the way. He hits as well as Milledge has, let Milledge be the 4th OF and see if can hit.

I guess they'll have to trade Willingham who was conspicuously absent from the article mentioned in the comments from the previous post. If they trade him for an average starting 2B, then all of a sudden, this is at least an average line-up, especially IF Johnson can play.

Posted by: Avar | February 12, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

While Kearns would be the one we'd want to move, unfortunately Lastings is the guy easiest to trade. I'd really like to see Milledge stay as part of a deep outfield. Also, don't forget that Kearns was a deal sweetener for Dunn - I don't think they'll upset the new slugger by trading away his pal.

Hey, at least we're talking about competition for spots. Bring on April!

Posted by: Kev29 | February 12, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

One thing to think about is 2010. Nick's contract expires, and Kearns has a $10 million option with a $1m buy out (making his $8 million this year really a $9 million minimum). Having both Willingham and Dunn in the field represents 2 liabilities. Looking to 2010, I'm guessing the pencilled in line-up would be Milledge in CF and Dukes in RF, with Dunn / Willingham 1st and left. All that is before considering minor league development and next year's free agency.

My guess is that Willingham to the AL might be an attractive trade option for a number of teams due to him being cost controlled for another 2 years. A Milledge move is also possible, but I tend to believe that opens a bigger defensive hole. He would get you more than Willingham due to finances (cheaper than Willingham) and his athleticism. If you can project an internally developed OF next year, then we can afford to move one of them.

As for any trade involving Kearns or Nick, the money may be less of a factor if you take back a bad contract, or at least a big contract. Who has an overpaid middle infielder or pitcher who could use a 4th OF who has shown patience and pop in the past (if not last year)?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 12, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Hah, Scooter, when I was in Iraq we used to say "Insh'Allah means do it yourself".

I think having 6 players for 4 spots is a much better situation than having 2 players for 4 slots like last year.

One questions I'd like answered by the crew here - Does Dunn have the arm for RF?

Our best outfield would be Milledge/Dukes/Dunn - Milledge doesn't have the gun for RF or the instincts/legs/glove for CF so LF is his best option. I honestly don't see much difference between LF & RF EXCEPT for throwing.

Posted by: estuartj | February 12, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Kearns is the odd man out at age 29. He has simply failed to secure a regular job because of his lack of production at the plate. Unfortunately his contract at $8M in this climate in baseball, puts him on the roster for the entire season in all likelihood.

Even though it's a lot of money I think you have to make him the 4th outfielder and move on.

If he gets back on the field due to injury and performs well, all the better.

But depending upon both Kearns and Nick Johnson is part of what has doomed the Nationals in terms of trying to improve over the past 1-2 years.

These guys were supposed to become regular contributors.

Posted by: leopard09 | February 12, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

if kearns and willingham are here for only one more year, no way do we trade milledge. we have him locked up for awhile. he'd return the most but he's more valuable to us.

kearns is in the toughest spot since he is RF only. Nick Johnson plays if he's healthy. Everyone else can play multiple positions.

nothing wrong with keeping all of them. they are all injury concerns except for dunn and maybe milledge. and that's another reason we need him. he and dunn are only two who are sure to be in lineup everyday.

trade talk is fun but there are so many free agents i don't know why anyone would rush to trade with us yet.

Posted by: longterm | February 12, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

re: Milledge trade

I would be shocked if this were to happen.

We gotta have Lastings, Dukes, and Dunn in our Opening Day outfield.

Kearns is terrible. He's getting relatively old, can't hit to save his life, has no speed on the basepaths, his best year's line was .266 .355 .411.

Milledge has not even played an entire season and hit 16 dingers and stole 24 bags last year granted his line was almost identical to AK, but hes 23! (not 29 like AK)

In re: Dukes, this guy has so much potential its not even funny. I'm thinking 30/30 285 this year

Posted by: OptimisticSkin | February 12, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

how long til willingham is a free agent?

Posted by: longterm | February 12, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for poo-pooing my Milledge trade worries. I like him and don't want to see Trader Jim do anything crazy.

Posted by: Kev29 | February 12, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

"Essentially, Washington has six players -- Dunn, Johnson, Willingham, Austin Kearns, Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge -- that it feels can be everyday players."

Which by Opening Day will be whittled down to four or at most five players, because Johnson will be hurt and/or Kearns will continue to suck. Four or five everyday legitimate major league players for four positions is a great place to be in to start a season. Good work by Bowden to put them there.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 12, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

A summary of trade scenarios that I'm seeing:

AK: They're not going to be able to move Kearns unless they eat a good chunk of his contract. Even then, they won't get a good return on him. Also, as has been mentioned, Kearns might have played a role in bringing Dunn here, so they might not want to risk upsetting their big free agent acquisition of the offseason.

Lastings: If they trade Milledge, they could put Dukes in center and have Kearns start in right. That scenario wouldn't really alleviate the LF/1B problem, though (still have Willingham, Johnson, Dunn and only 2 spots to fill). I suppose you could have Willingham start in right, but that could get ugly defensively. No CF can cover for both Willingham AND Dunn.

Willingham: You don't really want to move Willingham because you'd like insurance for Nick in case he gets hurt again (i.e. Dunn moves to 1st Willingham takes over left.). But you do still have Willie Harris as a backup option. Willingham or Milledge would probably get the best return out of any of these options.

Dukes: You could trade Dukes and start Kearns in right, but there's the question of whether there's a team willing to take Dukes. You also lose the Dunn-NJ-Dukes OBP combo that we're all itching to see. I think trading Dukes would hurt the team the most, both short-term and long-term.

Johnson: It'll be tough to trade him until he can prove that he's healthy, and you're probably not going to get a good return even then because there's no recent evidence that he can handle the full season. It would resolve the outfield logjam, but again leaves little insurance in case of injury at first base. Also a defense where Dunn (1B), Willingham (LF), and Milledge (CF) are all on the field at the same time would not be good.

My guess: Trade Willingham. That leaves a starting outfield of Dunn-Milledge-Dukes with NJ at 1st base. Kearns becomes insurance for Dukes, and Willie Harris provides insurance for LF/CF in case Dunn has to move to 1B. Remarkably, I think this is the scenario we all wanted/expected going into the offseason.

Posted by: WMPete | February 12, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

And Snelling was flipped for Ryan Langerhans, another name we hopefully have heard the last of.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 12, 2009 10:23 AM

************************
I completely disagree with you. Langerhans stunk up the field in 07 but when he got called up last year he was awesome. Made some Willie-Harris-caliber catches, some home runs and his batting back up again.

And the cool thing about that was I think Langerhans credited the AAA hitting coach for his hitting improvements. And guess who that AAA hitting coach was? Eckstein.

Posted by: NatsNut | February 12, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I saw some quotes a while back that Milledge is the one guy Jim Bowden will NOT trade, period.

I don't see any reason to trade anyone except Belliard right now or if you want to keep him you stash A.Gonzalez in AAA.

I think in '10 you'll see Dunn at 1B, Milledge in left, Maxwell in CF and Dukes in right, maybe by '11 you'll see Marrero at 1B, Milledge in left, Dukes in CF and Burgess in RF. Add that to Espinoza at SS, Smiley Gonzalez at 2B and Strasburg, McGeary, Zimmermann, Lannan and Balester in the rotation and you have a WS contender...

Posted by: estuartj | February 12, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

estuartj,

is that the grape flavor or the red flavor you're drinking?

I'm just excited to lose games 7-4 instead of 7-0

Posted by: OptimisticSkin | February 12, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I hate this sign everyone no matter what position they play and hope to trade the excess......this approach killed team moral last year and will do so again.

Jimbo needs to make tough decisions and build a balanced roster soon.....before April.


Posted by: JayBeee | February 12, 2009 10:56 AM

******************
THERE's the JayB we know and love. Whew...I was getting worried.
;)

Posted by: NatsNut | February 12, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"Provided first baseman Nick Johnson can prove he is healthy, the Washington Nationals prefer use newly acquired free agent Adam Dunn in left field, two sources said today."

That's obvious. Nick bats from the left side and has a high OBP. Ideally, it would be nice to separate NJ from Dunn. For example:

1 - Guz (S)
2 - Milledge/Dukes (R)
3 - NJ (L)
4 - Zimm/Willingham (R)
5 - Dunn (L)
6 - Willingham/Dukes/Zimm (R)

That is...if Guz can draw some more pitches/walks. I don't know how I feel about batting Nick 2nd or Zimm 4th, but I could live with that 1-6.

Posted by: dclifer | February 12, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

"Also, as has been mentioned, Kearns might have played a role in bringing Dunn here, so they might not want to risk upsetting their big free agent acquisition of the offseason."

Dunn seems to have re-discovered the will to live after the Reds traded his BFF Kearns in 2006, and done it fairly quickly too since he hit 40 homers that year. I'm quite confident he can recover again when the Nats dump Kearns. Now if his check gets delayed in the mail, well that's another story.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 12, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I know I'm repeating myself, but if they feel comfortble with Milledge in CF then Dukes stays in RF. Then you have Dunn, Willingham and Johnson spliting the 324 starts at 1B&LF. That's 108 starts a piece, IF Nick can play that many.

Also, Dunn's stats vs Lefties is not great so playing Willingham and Johnson vs all lefties maximizes offensive output.

Finally any trade of an outfielder (or Johnson) involves way to many IFs going our way, IF Kearns is productive, IF Dukes stays out of trouble, IF Milledge stays healthy, IF Willingham stays healthy, IF Johnson stays healthy.

There is no need to move ANY of these guys right now, I think we move Belliard (and DFA or DL WMP) and these are your 13 position players out of ST;
CA (2) Flores & Nieves/Montz
OF (5) Dunn, Milledge, Dukes, Kearns, Willingham
IF (6) Johnson, Hernandez, Zimmerman, Guzman, Harris, Gonzalez

Now about all those pitchers....

Posted by: estuartj | February 12, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"I completely disagree with you. Langerhans stunk up the field in 07 but when he got called up last year he was awesome. Made some Willie-Harris-caliber catches, some home runs and his batting back up again."

So we have Willie Harris, why would we need Willie Harris lite? If Ryan Langerhans plays an inning above AAA this year, the terrorists have won.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 12, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Kearns has to go, Dunn be damned.

Posted by: MrMadison | February 12, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

And here is the opening day line-up if my roster is correct;

1. Milledge (CF)
2. Dukes (RF)
3. Zimmerman (3B)
4. Dunn (LF)
5. Johnson (1B)
6. Flores (CA)
7. Guzman (SS)
8. Hernandez (2B)
9. Lannan (SP)

Hat tip to BobLHead on Milledge leading off and putting Guz farther back. You'll see I put Flores agead of Guz since he has more power, but Flores OBP needs to improve too me thinks...

Posted by: estuartj | February 12, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

"There is no need to move ANY of these guys right now"

Kearns, like last night's half smoke from Ben's, will likely move himself.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 12, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

fair enough, nunof1. You're right, I really don't see Langerhans playing a role in the majors. But he doesn't suck enough that we need to hurry up and get him out of there.

Posted by: NatsNut | February 12, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be nice if they could pull off a Delmon Young - Matt Garza type trade.

Posted by: dclifer | February 12, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

MASN will televise today's Washington Nationals press conference with Principal Owner Mark Lerner, President Stan Kasten, Senior Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden, Manager Manny Acta and the newest Washington National live at 3:00 p.m. on MASN.

Posted by: HALjr | February 12, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

If Kearns is going to see the field at all, it should only be against left-handed pitching.

I am firmly in the "play Dunn in LF, play Johnson at 1B, when Johnson gets hurt, slide in Willingham" camp. When healthy, Johnson is the best player on the team. Even if he's only healthy for 40 games, that's still a major contribution.

Posted by: Tank2 | February 12, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Kearns is terrible. He's getting relatively old, can't hit to save his life, has no speed on the basepaths, his best year's line was .266 .355 .411.

Posted by: OptimisticSkin | February 12, 2009 11:25 AM
********************
So everyone's saying THIS is why we need to trade Kearns. And he's making $8 million. That's a great sales pitch for a trade. C'mon, you'd go ballistic if Bowden were at the acquiring end of a trade like this.

Posted by: NatsNut | February 12, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Boys! There are two things that are almost certainly true about the '09 lineup, barring trades. Dunn will hit fourth and Dukes, our best right-handed batter, will be behind him. I agree that zimm should not hit third but he will start there I bet:

09 lineup likley:

(1) Hernandez/Harris
(2) Guzman
(3) Zimm
(4) Dunn
(5) Dukes
(6) Johnson
(7) Milledge
(8) Flores

09 lineup should be

(1) Hernandez/Harris
(2) Guzman
(3) Dunn
(4) Dukes
(5) Johnson
(6) Zimm
(7) Milledge
(8) Flores

Posted by: tlynch44 | February 12, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Boys!

Posted by: tlynch44 | February 12, 2009 12:17 PM

*****************

ahem.

Posted by: NatsNut | February 12, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Kearns still has value to us as a defensive replacement. He's the only guy on the roster who can play RF if Dukes gets hurt (or has any "other" trouble).

His value to us certainly outweighs what we'd get in return, especially since we'd have to eat a large portion of his salary in a trade (unless we traded bad contracts like getting Washburn from Seattle, but what good would that do either team?).

I'm curious what the market is for Belliard, and what we should be looking for in return, I'd love to see him get us back a AA pitcher like VanAllen or Carr or maybe a low-A HS pitcher like Willems, - or am I aiming too low?

Posted by: estuartj | February 12, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Estuartj: the lineup will not have three RHBs in a row at the top. Otherwise opposing manger can get your top-three out with a righty reliever and that's what those guys would see every time. You throw a lefty in to break that up and milledge or zimm start seeing LH releivers in the late innings or you force opponent to use more pitchers to get you out with the matchups.

Posted by: tlynch44 | February 12, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Boys and girls. Sorry

Posted by: tlynch44 | February 12, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Trade Milledge, start Willingham in RF. I can't believe our roster is going to include Austin Kearns. Beyond embarrassing.

Posted by: RickFelt | February 12, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I just took a look at Cot's Baseball Contracts. Get a load of this:

Dunn: 2 yrs, 09-10.
Guz: 2 yrs, 09-10.
Kearns: 3 yrs, 07-09, club option for 10.
Nick: 3 yrs, 07-09
Cabrera: 1 yr, 09
Pena: 1 yr, 08 w/09 mutual option
Belly: 2 yrs, 08-09
Harris: 2 yrs, 09-10

That's it. Everybody else is under team control. We don't have a single veteran signed beyond next season. Does anybody see a plan here?

The pitching might already be in the system (or coming in June): Maybe Olsen and/or Cabrera (both acquired this year), and then Lannan, Balester, Strasurg, Zimmermann, Detwiler, McGeary, Smoker and Hicks. You can see the catchers too, in Flores, Norris and Nieto. First base goes Johnson, Rhinehart, Marrero. Second is a hole, but if Hernandez can't fill it, perhaps Espinosa or Smiley can (both may eventually get moved off of ss, which makes that our biggest hole, unless Desmond steps in to fill it).

The outfield already includes Dukes and Milledge, but Burgess and Hood could factor in as well. Unfortunately, none of these guys is a true CF. Hopefully Maxwell can stay healthy and improve his plate discipline.

At the end of the day, the team did what many have been asking it to do, which is to put a major league team on the field while we wait for the prospects. Let's hope they arrive on schedule from this year through 2011 so that we're not still signing 2-year deals with journeymen to fill holes at that point.

Posted by: BobLHead | February 12, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Nick saying "If I am healthy . . ." is like me saying "If I win Power Ball . . ."

Posted by: dfh123 | February 12, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

If Kearns is on this roster more than 80 games this year, then another 100 losses is a definite possibility.

Posted by: SavedByZero | February 12, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Estuart, I want that hat tip!

i'm struggling with this question. if i hit dunn and dukes back to back, who would i want to see in the on the deck circle?

dukes can steal, which he would have plenty of pitches to pick from with dunn behind him. but he could also just steal second, and the atbat result in a walk or a homerun to dunn. what's the benefit of the steal there? would dukes run less? apparently dunn is less likely to push dukes from second to third.

One thing for sure is pitch counts are going up. If we can just get zimmerman to lay off that low and away teaser we're on our way...

Posted by: longterm | February 12, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Well played, NatsNut, and thanks, tlynch. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 12, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Exactly why are people here sold on Milledge? He has no baseball instincts, and was a liability in the OF. He is never going to hit for enough power to be a corner OF. Everyone's ready to jump on Kearns, but at least one part of his game -- his defensive play and arm -- are superior. Milledge hit around .250, with little power and no defense. Cut bait on him if he has any trade value at all.

I'd like Dunn at 1b. Nick is an excellent 1b but can't be depended upon, and I'd cut bait rather than keep hoping for his health. Indeed "if Johnson is healthy" might be the most uttered phrase in the five years of the team's existence.

Posted by: raymitten | February 12, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to HALJr as well for the press conference tip.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 12, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Seems to be some Bowden-style dreaming about the quality of play we might expect from Milledge. At present, he has not shown himself to be a good major league outfielder or hitter. He is over aggressive at the plate (strikes out three times as often as he walks) and on the base paths (career stolen base percentage under 70 percent). Anyone who has watched him play in the field knows that he is not a good center fielder. Perhaps he can get better - isn't that the idea behind upgrading the coaching staff? But, for 2009, putting Milledge and Dunn next to one another in the outfield would be a circus at best and a disaster at worst. This leaves Johnson as the odd man out.

Posted by: rmark1 | February 12, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

i must have much higher expectations of milledge than most everyone else here...

he's leadoff or second for me.

Posted by: longterm | February 12, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

In case you hadn't seen it, Baseball Insider had an item that referred to Dunn (among other subjects) this a.m.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 12, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

What does everybody legitimately believe we can get for Willingham and Belly?

My hope is a minor league, probably AA power hitter at really any position, or a slick AA middle infielder.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | February 12, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"Kearns still has value to us as a defensive replacement. He's the only guy on the roster who can play RF if Dukes gets hurt (or has any "other" trouble)."

Willie Harris would beg to differ with you on that.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 12, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"CA (2) Flores & Nieves/Montz
OF (5) Dunn, Milledge, Dukes, Kearns, Willingham
IF (6) Johnson, Hernandez, Zimmerman, Guzman, Harris, Gonzalez
Posted by: estuartj | February 12, 2009 11:52 AM "

Something struck me as wierd about this roster. I could not quite put my finger on it, but then it hit me - it does not s*ck. I always wondered what Arthur meant by that.

I might quibble a bit about Gonzalez on the roster and Belliard off. My preference would be to see AG playing full time in AAA so that he can step in should there be an injury. I'd rather see a pure replacement guy in that roster slot rather than giving up on AG's career too soon. Even a Casto, Orr, or Langerhans would be a better use of that slot.

As for a batting order, Guz #6 (use his hits to drive in people and take his impatience out of the top), R-L-R-L-R-S at the top by batting Nick 2d behind Lastings. Against LHP, the occasional rest for Dunn, slide Belliard into 2d and #2, and drop Nick to 3d.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 12, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"Against LHP, the occasional rest for Dunn, slide Belliard into 2d and #2, and drop Nick to 3d." - and FotF to 4th.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 12, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

"Indeed "if Johnson is healthy" might be the most uttered phrase in the five years of the team's existence."

More than "Lerners are cheap"? No effin' way.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 12, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Raymitten:

Milledge is 23 and he hit 14 home runs and stole 24 bases last year. That's why he is a more desirable. Milledge will never have enough power to play corner OF? Really? You can project that a 23-year-old player with one of the best bat speeds in the game will "never" have enough power to play corner outfield? I can take that to the bank?

I bet 20 HRs and 25 steals next year and trending up at 24. I'll take that at the corner from a mid-20s guy all day long --especially with this team.

Posted by: tlynch44 | February 12, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

"In case you hadn't seen it, Baseball Insider had an item that referred to Dunn (among other subjects) this a.m."

Haven't heard a peep from Boswell yet. What, is he on hold waiting to renew his season tickets? If so, I hope his old seats are taken. It would serve him right.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 12, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

It's hard for me to make any "Bowden should do this" statements, since at least some of this movement is predicated on trades. It takes two to tango, and at this point I'm not even sure there's someone there to turn on the music.

The new baseball economy definitely hamstrings Bowden a bit. Injury history doesn't help, either. I know he doesn't like settling for lesser compensation, but he may have to bite the bullet between now and April.

Still, the one thing he can do is deal with WMP. He should be placed on waivers and then bought out when no one claims him. Whether he signs a minor league deal with the Nats or goes elsewhere as an FA, it's a good situation for DC.

I think they can head into 2009 with four "regular" outfielders. I'd prefer Dunn, Milledge, Dukes, and Kearns, but that's at least partially influenced by the fact that 1) Kearns is untradeable and 2) Willingham still has some value, but was essentially supplanted by Dunn. This combo would give you two guys who could play all three OF positions (Kearns and Dukes).

Use Dunn at 1B occasionally and it gets that much easier to get ABs to everyone. Super Willie and Kearns can be seen as late-inning defensive upgrades, as well.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 12, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I hope they don't trade Belliard. He's exactly the kind of player you want coming off the bench - relatively clutch hitter, good attitude, and can fill in at multiple positions in the infield. He should NOT be our starting 2B. But how great is it going to be to have Belliard, Willie Harris, and (fingers crossed) a healthy Dmitri Young on the bench?

Posted by: TomServo | February 12, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I keep wanting to throw in my two cents on lineups, but then I talk myself out of it again because there are so many variables (trade, competition, injury, recovery) to be sorted out in the next 6 weeks. Instead I decided to do this "lineup of considerations":

Batting
1st: maximize onbase percentage, emphsize speed
2nd: good contact, move runners, stay out of double plays,
3rd: Consistant contact, drive the ball, extra base power (Zimmerman Bats R)
4th: maximize slugging %, patience, make pitcher pitch (Dunn (Bats L)
5th: protection, average, power, Bats R
6th: no automatic outs
7th: no automatic outs
8th: no automatic outs (I really would like a faster runner here because there will be a lot of bunting from the pitcher's spot. So ideally this is not the catcher.


Posted by: natbisquit | February 12, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Good one, nunof.

---

Haven't heard a peep from Boswell yet. What, is he on hold waiting to renew his season tickets? If so, I hope his old seats are taken. It would serve him right.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 12, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"Haven't heard a peep from Boswell yet. What, is he on hold waiting to renew his season tickets? If so, I hope his old seats are taken. It would serve him right."

Why? He's the best sportswriter in DC and he rightly called out a front office that was showing very clear signs of throwing away the goodwill/promise that a new stadium brings. I doubt very much his old seats are taken too. It's not like Dunn is an instant sellout and people have a ton of spare cash to spend right now. I hope they give him free season tickets right behind home plate so it might look like we actually have some fans at games on TV.

Posted by: RickFelt | February 12, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Other than Dunn and Milledge, all of the others have injury questions. Dukes and Kearns both spent time on the shelf last year and we all know about Johnson. Willingham's back is in question, one wrong swing could send him to the DL. You're gonna need 6 quys to fill 4 slots.

That being said, I like the Dunn signing. Much better at that price than the 4 yr, $56mil he was originally looking for.

Posted by: teamohall | February 12, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Suprise, suprise, Keith Law, ESPN (ESPecially_hates_Nationals) has a low opinion of the Dunn signing. Aside from making several eronsous statements in his blog, Law concludes that there was no point in signing Dunn because they're going to lose anyway. What's the point he asks. Ummm, I don't know Keith I suppose the point is to put the most competitive team on the field possible, while not giving up a draft pick, and giving your farm system time to develop.

I'm really amazed at the lack of objectivity and considered analysis that spews from the crew at ESPN. They consistently evaluate all things Nationals worse than the rest of the industry does.

Posted by: natbisquit | February 12, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

JiM,
I think I'm confused. I though WMP exercised some option in his contract to stay here but I don't know how that relates to waivers. I guess I thought it guaranteed him something so he couldn't be put on waivers. Can you or someone clarify if they're even related?

Posted by: NatsNut | February 12, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I suppose there must be some people, somewhere, who care what Keith Law thinks, but I don't know any.

Posted by: CEvansJr | February 12, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I do not advocate for the trading of Austin Kearns, NatsNut.

I do NOT, however, advocate for Kearns as "the rightfielder" which implied he'd be our opening day starter. Gives me chills to think about Kearns in the six hole, two men on, two out, down two or three runs. He was so bad at the plate last year. I'd much rather see Willingham, Dukes or Milledge anyday.

Posted by: OptimisticSkin | February 12, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Sometime in March of last year, Wily Mo went on the DL with a strained oblique. Then, late in the season, he went in for surgery on his shoulder. Before any of that, in Boston, he cleared waivers with a salary of about $550,000--no one wanted him, even cheap, and that was before he got hurt.
Waivers are the least of his worries.

Posted by: CEvansJr | February 12, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut, as I understood it - and my understanding is limited - they could place him on waivers, but the team that claims him would have to pay his salary per the contract option year he exercised.
Given his salary and his performance last year, I doubt any team would bite.

If no one claims him, I believe they can attempt to negotiate a buy-out or assignment to AAA.

His option just means he's guaranteed the money - it doesn't mean it guarantees he has to play for the Nats, or even in the Nats organization.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 12, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

"Other than Dunn and Milledge, all of the others have injury questions."

Milledge was out for about a month last June/July. Then Dukes got hurt shortly after Milledge did, resulting in round #1 of the Roger Bernadina Offensive Explosion. (What was he, like 1 for 21?) This is why six good guys for four slots is definitely not a bad idea.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 12, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

What about this:

Milledge, cf
Johnson, 1b
Dukes, rf
Dunn, lf
Zimmerman, 3b
Guzman, ss
Hernandez, 2b
Flores, c

The point is, do the R/L/R thing, but put Lastings ahead of Johnson, and Dukes ahead of Dunn, so that they have the greatest chance to use their speed with patient hitters at the plate. Slot Zimm into the five-spot where he can drive in Johnson and Dunn after walks.

This probably puts too much pressure on Dukes, and doesn't give Zimmerman enough protection, at least in 2009. But maybe we can steal Dan Uggla from the Fish next offseason and hit him sixth behind Zim.

Posted by: BobLHead | February 12, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Nice work on the ESPN acronym, natbisquit. Speaking of bias as an issue, one of the Other Papers had a good piece today (business of sports column) regarding how MLB Network has dealt with recent PED revelations. I've been pleased with MLB Network programming and coverage so far and would agree with the author.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 12, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Adam Dunn in the OF--it just keeps getting better and better. This guy cannot play OF. Also you best not take one minute of playin time away from Mr. Dukes.
BTW I got a question, why didn't the Nats go after Abreu for a year or 2 instead of Dunn? He hits for way higher average, is a better OF, drives in 100 runs. He's cheaper and you could have had him for 1 year. He's far superior to Dunn. How come no interest?

Posted by: dovelevine | February 12, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

My heart and Nats infielders want NJ at 1B, but I cringe at the defensive liability of Dunn in LF next to Lastings in CF. And Milledge doesn't have the arm to switch with Dukes in RF. No sane GM would trade for Kearns. If Dunn plays LF, Willie Harris will get A LOT of late inning playing time, and WMP will have to find work somewhere else. But it's SO much better to have too many options!

Posted by: nats24 | February 12, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Boswell the best sportswriter in DC? Oh please. He's barely the third-best baseball writer on his own rapidly declining excuse for a newspaper. Sheinin and Svrluga are head and shoulders above Boswell, and Harlan may have passed him already too. And what he did in publicly renouncing his season tickets in high dudgeon because ownership had not yet signed free agents who were still on the market at the time was like someone getting up in a huff in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game and leaving because "the game is boring and they're just going to lose anyway." Some top-shelf sportswriting there, Boz. No wonder you seem to now have slunked off into the darkness.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 12, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I like that lineup too Bob. Only concern is that nick is sooo slooow. Which is why you maybe put guzman at 2-hole and bat nick behind zim. On the other hand, nic is better at getting on base than guz so 2-hole works too.

Is Milledge a right-handed Curtis Granderson?

Posted by: tlynch44 | February 12, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Somehow, I don't think they will give up on Kearns. Even though there seems to be a propensity for ex-Reds, the Nats got Kearns and Lopez for basically Majewski. Lopez was a quitter. Kearns was a 1st round #7 pick in 1998 and had a great debut a as a rookie in 2002, and he's 28 or 29, a good age. There may be a silver lining break out for Kearns this year, but his time with the Nats to date . . . he looks completely lost. The reuniting with Dunn has to be part of Jimbo's plan, assuming the Nats GM really does have a plan of course. Dunn/Zim/Kearns BBF.

Posted by: uncledak | February 12, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

The REAL question is, who starts in the infield, Freddie "Boom Boom" Bynum or Alex Cintron?

Or, how many batters will D-Cab hit/walk this year? How many brawls will he induce?

Or, how many K's will Cory Patterson have?

Or, will Adam Dunn finally hit above his weight?

HAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHHAHAHAHHA.

The Rock smells another 100+ loss season for the Nats.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | February 12, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Uggla won his arbitration hearing. Let's hope JimBow is on the phone tryinig to save the fish some dough.

Given that we got Willingham and Olsen for Bonifacio and two C prospects I think we can make a deal.

How about Dan Uggla for Garrett Mock, Cory VanAllen and Colton Williams?

Posted by: estuartj | February 12, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

HAHAHAHAHAHHA

Good one, the nats trading for Dan Uggla.

HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA.

Thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | February 12, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I, for one,heartily would endorse a trade for Kearns to get out of town. What has he done since he's been here,to justify his contract and keep aplace on this,current roster.

Posted by: ridgely1 | February 12, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"What about this:

Milledge, cf
Johnson, 1b
Dukes, rf
Dunn, lf
Zimmerman, 3b
Guzman, ss
Hernandez, 2b
Flores, c

The point is, do the R/L/R thing, but put Lastings ahead of Johnson, and Dukes ahead of Dunn, so that they have the greatest chance to use their speed with patient hitters at the plate. Slot Zimm into the five-spot where he can drive in Johnson and Dunn after walks.

This probably puts too much pressure on Dukes, and doesn't give Zimmerman enough protection, at least in 2009. But maybe we can steal Dan Uggla from the Fish next offseason and hit him sixth behind Zim."

Posted by: BobLHead

I like your placement of the two base stealing threats that we have. Flores had more clutch hits than Zimmerman last year, perhaps he should be moved to 5 with Zimmerman 6. (Zimmerman had 51 RBI in over 400 AB and Flores had 59 in 300!) That would leave Guzman 7 and Hernandez 8. If Zimmerman actually starts to drive the ball (and he did not last year) then Guzman has the better chance to get him in with a hit.

Posted by: driley | February 12, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see someone stick up for Kearns. We unfortunately have been subject to a little of the Guzman syndrome for his first couple of years here. Kearns has basically played five full seasons, average .260/20HR/80RBI. Not great, not terrible. But he's had debilitating injuries 4 times, and to his credit or detriment he has tried to play through them and while doing so clearly sucks. In 2003 he was knocking the tar out of the ball for the first two months, but then hurt his shoulder crashing into Ray King at the plate (no wonder he got hurt). He played for the next month and a half doing basically nothing and when they finally decided to do surgery in July, he was still leading the league in RBI. Last year he had the same sort of junk happen. 2007 he basically had his average year (.266,16,74 is darned close) and he even lost the last couple of weeks after he crashed into Johnson. (2006 he did .265,24,86 in another full season). Lots of people seem like they would be happy with .260,20-25,80 with Milledge or Willingham (I think we all expect more of Dukes), and neither one of those guys is anything like Kearns on defense. And Kearns has shown he can do a lot better, he's just seemed to have some bad luck on occasion. If he looks reasonable this spring, he gets the right field job, and then if he hits during the season he gets to keep it; otherwise, the others will take the playing time. And Kearns would be the first one to say that that is fair.

Posted by: jonb5 | February 12, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Not a huge Bowden fan. He could have brought in "Junior" instead.

Posted by: uncledak | February 12, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

John Feinstein?

-----

Not a huge Bowden fan. He could have brought in "Junior" instead.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 12, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Thank you jonb5 for reminding all the AK haters that he has shown flashes of what we are looking for out of the other players. I realize that the other guys are young and should develop into better production over time, but AK has one year left on his contract and other than last year he has played pretty solidly for the Nats. The sentiment around here that if you did not perform at a top level last year you should be gone is getting a little ridiculous. Guzman sucked worse than AK for three years and then had an All-Star season last year. I for one am hoping that AK can repeat Guz's performance!

Posted by: NeedANatsFix | February 12, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Junior can't play 1B, the whole point of getting Dunn is we don't need Nick Johnson to be healthy, we hope and want him to be healthy, but we don't need to rely on it.

On another note I checked with NFA and Gonzalez appears to be out of options so either we risk him on the waiver wire or we trade Belliard. Personally I love Belli, but I think he has the most worth of any tradable player on our roster. Good bench guy with a favorable contract, what's not to like?

Posted by: estuartj | February 12, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Man, these lineup configurations are pretty out there. You can mark Zimmerman in the 3 hole in ink right now for every game. They installed him there years ago, they aint gonna move him now. Dunn will be 4th, every game. Guzman, who has never batted low in order, who puts the ball inplay in dman near every AB and who hits for the best average on the club will not be at the bottom of the order -- he'll bat 1st or 2nd, every game. Acta, even with a club that had more roster moves than the Harlem Globetrotters, is a habitual guy. Why does everyone see them batting Zim 6th and Guz 7th?? Crazy talk.

And barring a trade Kearns will start in RF on Opening Day, if for no ther reason than he makes $9 Million and if there is any chance to trade him he needs to play -- but also because he is a veteran and he played hurt for the club last year. Acta will give him every chance to keep his job. He'll bat 5th against lefties, 6th otherwise. I am guessing we might see Lastings in a Giants unie this spring in a package for Jonathan Sanchez, which would work for me.

Posted by: dfh123 | February 12, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Poopy McPoop's mother rousts him out of bed every afternoon around 2:00, doesn't it? That's probably when she fires up the vacuum cleaner to sweep up the pile of Cool Ranch Dorito crumbs he left by the basement couch when he fell asleep there the night before. Or maybe it's more like 1:30 and it takes him a half hour to bicycle down to the public library and get on the internet. Whatever, he's here now. Let the day begin!

Posted by: nunof1 | February 12, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Poopy McPoop sucks.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 12, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

LOL nunof1

Posted by: tlynch44 | February 12, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I'll trade mcpoop for Sanchez, not milledge

Posted by: tlynch44 | February 12, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know if MASN has an online viewing option? I'd love to watch the presser live...

Posted by: estuartj | February 12, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

It appears that this story ranks about 5th in importance today of sports stories.

Posted by: uncledak | February 12, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

"On another note I checked with NFA and Gonzalez appears to be out of options so either we risk him on the waiver wire or we trade Belliard. "

Not doubting Brian (it does not pay), but unless he was on the NYY or someone's 40 man in before 2007, he's only been in the majors in 2007 and 2008.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 12, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

df123 - Guzman batted 6th or lower low in the order in MN for more than 340 games.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 12, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I was checking things out for other guys than Kearns. Look at the numbers for Nick Johnson (he is two years older than Kearns but has only 4 elapsed seasons of playing time, because of all the injuries:
.269/20/80
Look at our vaunted Zimmerman, now at the equivalent of almost three full seasons:
.282/20/86
Heck, even Willingham:
.269/23/80
(based on a season being about 150 games or 550 AB).
I think the biggest thing is that we've seen Johnson here playing above that level (albeit for short stretches) and we haven't seen it for the others. And Johnson's onbase percentage helped, at least he always seemed to be out there running the bases, while the lasting image of Kearns has to have been him striking out again on an inside high fastball with someone on base. I'm really rooting to see Kearns put it together this year.

Posted by: jonb5 | February 12, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

How about we trade O's Exec and McPoop for the Bird, then put him into a cage match with Screech?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 12, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Dunn's career OPS vs. RHP is .931 ... vs. LHP, his OPS is .833

Kearns's career OPS vs. RHP is .774 ... vs. LHP, his OPS is .828

Willingham's career OPS vs. RHP is .829 ... vs. LHP his OPS is .844

Dukes's career OPS vs. RHP is .789 ... vs. LHP his OPS is .837

So, versus left handed pitching the four players are basically equal, with Dukes likely to improve as he matures. The two best defensive players (Kearns and Dukes) should play against lefties.

Dunn has to be on the field against righthanders, while Kearns, under no circumstances, should start against righties. Willingham has a slight edge on Dukes, but given Dukes's age and his slight edge on defense, he should start full time.

Milledge has to play all the time because he's the only legit CF and Dunn is SOOOO bad in the field that they can't slack off at the position.

Bottom line ... the Willingham deal was completely unnecessary.

Posted by: danconley | February 12, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Svrluga is a baseball writer? News to me. Is this 2006? Is that NatsTown kool aid you live on Irish?

God forbid a well known columnist calls out his hometown organization. That never happens anywhere else.

Get in line or shut up, right nunof?

Posted by: RickFelt | February 12, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

jca-Crystal City. How man yof those 340 games that Guzman batted 6th or lower for MN were in the National League?

Posted by: dfh123 | February 12, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

111 games here, 230+ in Minnesota. You said he hasn't batted at the bottom of the order. Minnesota batted him at the top of the order from 2000 - start of 2003. His rookie year (99), and late 2003 he was at the bottom of the order, and 2004 he was all over.

What has been the case with Guz is that as long as he hits .310+, he can get on enough to be an effective leadoff or #2 hitter, but if he reverts at all, to say .290, he would not get on enough to be at the top of the order. A guy who sees 3.2 pitches per plate appearance is among the lowest in the majors and should not be at the top of the order if you have alternatives.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 12, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

jca -- fair enough, but Guz batted other than 1 or 2 in all but a small handful of games since he missed all of 2006 -- literally like 10 games total, I think. So, he has not batted below .315 since that awful season he had in 2005. He is not even close to being a candidate to bat at the bottom of the lineup.

Posted by: dfh123 | February 12, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

We'll agree to disagree (I'll say #6, you'll say #1 or #2), but thanks. You know what your talking about and not winging it, and you are right about one thing - if he hits like 2008 and the portion of 2007, then he's a bit like the 800 lb. gorilla - he can hit wherever he wants.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 12, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company