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Leading Off, Nick Johnson

[UPDATE, 12:35 p.m.] -- I neglected when posting earlier to name the pitchers. Shairon Martis is starting for the Nats, and will be working on a 90-pitch limit. Joe Beimel, Garrett Mock and Gary Glover are all scheduled to pitch in relief.

---

This has got to be the most creative lineup we've seen all spring. Don't read too much into it; Lastings Milledge has the day off. But what do you think? You like it?

Johnson - DH
Guzman - 6
Zimmerman - 5
Dunn - 3
Dukes - 8
Willingham - 7
Kearns - 9
Flores - 2
Harris - 4

By Chico Harlan  |  March 30, 2009; 11:17 AM ET
 
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Next: Top 4: Tigers 3, Nats 2

Comments

I do like it, because Millege isn't in it. If Dunn, Dukes, and Willingham made up our starting outfield, with Kearns and Harris as reserves, I'd be quite happy.
Trade Millege, get another arm!!

Posted by: usmc53 | March 30, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"And there are plenty of out-of-options lists floating on the internet."

But apparently not on the food sites where Chico was looking for them.

Posted by: spamcastin | March 30, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

... there should be one of us who's thrilled. I can't recall who, but someone during the past couple of weeks has made it clear this is the way things should be - with Nicky leading off.

... I'm not quite as sold on the idea. Novel? Yes, but a best-seller? We'll have to wait until the reviews are in.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 30, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Answering a couple questions from the previous thread.

Craig Stammen was a 2005 12th round draft pick (out of Dayton IIRC). Has spent time as both a starter and reliever. Solid 2008 in Hariisburg. Got knocked around a bit in Columbus.

Hinckley is out of options because he used all of his options up the previous time he was on the 40-man. His contract was originally purchased in 2004. Option year one in 2005. Option year two in 2006. Option year three in 2007.

Posted by: Brian_ | March 30, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Nick leading off is a great idea. The first three in the lineup get at least 30 more at-bats than the rest. The first two slots belong to our best on-base guy and then our best rbi guy.

Posted by: asherman1 | March 30, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

What I read into it is that they wanted to get Nick some quick at bats. There's a reason why lumbering first baseman don't lead off.

Posted by: joebleux | March 30, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Change the record Spamcastin.

Posted by: soundbloke | March 30, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

LOVE this lineup. I follow and agree with a lot of a-certain-someone's Milledge observations.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 30, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Change the record Spamcastin.

Posted by: soundbloke | March 30, 2009 11:44 AM
___________________________________________________________

I agree. Please, for the love of God, let it go!

Posted by: Section505203 | March 30, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

No Milledge is the best lineup. Dunn, Dukes, Willingham is the best OF -- if NJ gets hurt, let AK back in there (if he gets playing time he's going to be substantially better this year from what I saw when I was in spring training).

Is there any possibility Milledge could actually be moved??? The longer we hold onto this guy the lower his value is going to be because he just doesn't have the instincts to be a good ballplayer. (Stop me if you've heard this before...) The more I see him play the more he reminds me of Nook Logan.

With Nick's OBP, this is a viable option (remember Wilkerson and Soriano were not typical lead off men but both were successful there).

Posted by: raymitten | March 30, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

nick at 2 makes more sense

Posted by: bford1kb | March 30, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Rymitten

That is by far the best offensive line-up but Willingham and Dunn are both basically statues out there, and with our pitching that is a very dangerous problem.

What is more, everyone who suggests this outfield totally neglects the fact that it requires Dukes to simultaneously play RF and CF because neither Dunn nor Willigham have even close to good enough arms to man right field. I reference the WBC.

Also, describing Wilkerson as successful only works if you are working with the very low bar set by other lead-offs we have tried Nook Logan et al.

Posted by: soundbloke | March 30, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Brilliant. Nick is an IDEAL lead-off man. Seriously. He gets more ABs over the course of the season, is an on-base machine, and is not a base-clogger. You don't want a big steals guy at the top anyway because it doesn't make sense to try to steal ahead of your big home run hitters anyway.

Posted by: sbiel2 | March 30, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

FJB has been saying Nick Johnson should bat first for a long time. Not sure I agree.

No matter what the statistics say, I'm more comfortable with a speedy guy who can get on base with a bunt occasionally, and who can make it home from second on a looper to right.

Milledge isn't Logan, but he's not getting on --- and that pick-off just wasn't smart.

By FJB's logic, just having NJ on first from a walk is enough. Dunn comes up, wallops the ball and its an easy jog for both...

Posted by: nattydread1 | March 30, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I like this line-up

Posted by: JayBeee | March 30, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Willingham and Dunn are absolute liabilities in the OF... but one of them HAS to be out there. Whover said Milledge lacks the instincts is just a moron. I'm no Milledge fan by any stretch but the kid's got skills. Good wheels, decent arm and ridiculous bat speed. Centerfielder? Maybe not... but if he ever pulls his head out (Dukes too) he'll be one outstanding baseball player.

The real question is where does Johnson bat in this lineup? You don't put Dunn and Johnson back-to-back, so does NJ drop to all the way to 6? I'm guessing you slip Dukes between him and Dunn with Flores and Hernandez 7 and 8? Johnson's such a good on-base guy... shame he'll never score with those two and the pitcher following him.

Posted by: outsider6 | March 30, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone name a player who's as slow as Nick who has bat lead-off for any significant period of time? (not being antagonistic; I'm genuinely curious, and I can't think of anyone offhand).

I agree that for his size and lack of speed, Nick's a good base runner, but I still wouldn't lead him off. For one thing, I want him driving people in.

Posted by: joebleux | March 30, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Flop Dukes and Zimmerman and you have the ideal lineup.

And please let's give up on a 24 year old who hit .303/.376/.477 in 1191 minor league AB's. Yeah, that's a brilliant idea.

Posted by: traderkirk | March 30, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

An excellent American League lineup (except for the swap between 1B and DH). Unfortunately the Nats play in the National League. I like Dukes in CF, but Milledge and Dunn need to play too. Anyway you slice it there's going to be at least one defensively challenged player on the field if you put your best offensive production in the lineup.

The question is, which player(s) in today's lineup are being scouted for a trade by another team? Is it Kearns, Johnson, Willingham, or all three? And what would the Nats get for one of them?

Posted by: natbiscuits | March 30, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Nick leading off is not a great idea by any stretch. This spring training lineup is made to get Johnson an extra AB not to try something for the long term at the MLb level. Joebleaux is dead right. Lastings will (and should) lead off.

Posted by: dfh123 | March 30, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm all about the Stick leading off. He is an onbase machine. Who cares if he can't run like Milledge. You can't run if you are never on base... and Milledge isn't exactlyt he second coming of Tim Raines on the bases. He isn't going to scare any opposing pitchers/catchers. I'd rather have a guy getting on base 40% of the time then a guy getting on base 33% of the time and stealing 23 bases while getting caught 14 times.

I have to somewhat jump on the anti-Milledge bandwagon... he's got the talent (speed, power, bat speed) of a young Gary Sheffied... and the baseball instincts of a young Nook Logan...

I still want to see him play because of the talent, but at this point in his career he is better suited to hitting say 7ths... he can still learn to hit and run down there but won't hurt the team as much with his poor OBP and running mistakes... and hopefully he gets a clue, starts listening to his coaches and peers and learns to play winning baseball.

Posted by: rumbly45 | March 30, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Remember Wade Boggs... he was a pretty great leadoff hitter who couldn't steal bases... all he would do is walk and hit doubles.. and get on base to the tune of 40% or more of the time...

Posted by: rumbly45 | March 30, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

@joebleux

Maike Hargrove led off for the Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres in the late 1970s and Earl Weaver occasionally had Ken Singleton lead off for the Orioles in the 70s as well. In fact, it was Weaver who suggested to then Rangers manager Billy Hunter that Hargrove's high OBP made him a viable candidate.

Posted by: leetee1955 | March 30, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

This is VelocityAtrocity and I approve this lineup.

Posted by: VelocityAtrocity | March 30, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Speed at the top of the lineup is important, but it is often over emphasized. A good OBP is likely more valuable - especially if you have a #2 hitter who is not prone to hitting the ball on the ground. However, Christian Guzman is exactly the kind of groundball hitter you probably don't want batting behind a slow runner. Guz may stay out of the double play, but he won't get Johnson to second safely.

The best OBP last year belonging to a fast runner was actually Elijah Dukes at .386. He has a .400 this spring. It would be a little Bobby Bonds-like, but I'd like to see Dukes batting first. As unorthodox as it would be, I'd like to see Dukes-Johnson batting 1 and 2. Of course that would dilute the lower half of the order so it can't happen, but that combo would set the table for great years from Zimmerman and Dunn.

Posted by: natbiscuits | March 30, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Must say, I have been pretty impressed with Alberto Gonzalez the last couple of weeks. I hope he finds his way into that last roster spot that might be available (at least until Zimmermann is need at the end of April). I will be PIST if they give lardass Young a spot on the 25-man roster.

Posted by: kfisher32 | March 30, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I have been reading for a while all the bashing of Milledge and just don't understand it. Sure he's a little cocky and nonchalant at times, which I think leads to some errors in the mental part of the game.

That being said, he has a load of talent and he's still very young, turning just 24 in a few days. Last year was his first full season in the majors.

Give him a chance, for crying out. And those people who want him to be traded, it ain't happening so, your wasting your time.

As for Nick leading off, I like the high OBP he would give but, I don't like the servere lack of speed and the wear and tear the extra AB's would put on his body. The man is fragile.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 30, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Yes, yes, yes! The lineups that produce the most runs are those that start with the highest OBP and decrease as they go through the lineup. Most people won't like the idea of hitting Zimm fifth or sixth or where he falls, so we can make an exception. But there's no point in putting the speedy Milledge at the top if he doesn't get on base. Having a guy on first is better than having the threat of a stolen base with no one on! Plus, Johnson has solid power to the gaps, and he can start off many games with doubles. That's equivalent to a single and stolen base from Milledge.

Posted by: Vladman1327 | March 30, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

This is unrelated, but I was hoping someone might have the answer and figured this would be as good as a forum as any to find out.

Does anyone know if which bars and restaurants near the stadium have opened? If they haven't, do you know what the schedule is like for that area?

Thanks!

Posted by: mereterp | March 30, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

If Chico Harlan was a food writer, he'd be calling Lastings Milledge the perfect dish. An elegant starter for your meal, indeed something around which to center a menu. Too bad Chico's not a food writer so he could be knocking some sense into you all.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 30, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

And in case you haven't already figured it out, they're not going to trade Milledge.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 30, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Milledge as a lead-off hitter is going to prove a very good idea. He's not that good a contact hitter. He's not that good a runner. Guy should definitely be a No. 5 or 6 hitter. Guzman or Hernandez should be leading off and Dukes should be in the 2 hole.

Posted by: dovelevine | March 30, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I, too, like Johnson hitting second. It sets up Zimmerman and Dunn, and between the 2 and 4 hitters, it could eat up a lot of pitchers to start a game.

It may give Milledge an extra quality pitch or two, who knows?

Dukes hits fifth, Guz drops to sixth. Flores and Hernandez round it out.

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 30, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I think you have to give Milledge a shot. I agree that he is better suited to LF than CF but, LF is absolutely full of guys we need in the line-up and can't play anywhere else (or at least unless we trade Nick). Grissom has already apparently really improved his fielding. Dukes is an absolute top shelf prospect in RF and should be left there to begin the process of making him a stable long term fit.

Also, we have zero choices at RF besides Dukes. Unless you count Kearns. And I do not.

Posted by: soundbloke | March 30, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

... sure Nick’s ‘on-base’ numbers are right up there (best on team??) but when you bat him 1, you’re sacrificing speed AND wasting a big bat.

... in ST, you can do whatever your heart desires, but in the long run, I think what this all means is you have a lack in your roster which needs to be addressed. I’m sure the powers that be know this and are willing to do something about it.

... but Nick leading off during the season? Nah.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 30, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

According to John Dewan's Fielding Bible, Josh Willingham was an above average left fielder in 2008 (+10, 6th among ML outfielders).

Elijah Dukes was +11 in RF (10th among ML outfielders). I am not sure how he would do in center field, but he has played there before.

Adam Dunn is nowhere to be found in the top 10 or bottom 6. Of course, he could be the 7th worst left fielder in baseball.

Willingham - Dukes - Dunn (either left to right or right to left) would likely produce the most runs and save only slightly less than putting Milledge in for Willingham. I'm not sure why Manny is hung up on Milledge. That being said, I think Milledge can become a solid corner outfielder, but I'm not sure if that year is this year.

Posted by: Vladman1327 | March 30, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

"Does anyone know if which bars and restaurants near the stadium have opened? If they haven't, do you know what the schedule is like for that area?"

Well, you'd have to presume that for a bar or restaurant to actually open there would have to be a building built first in which to put it. And based on what I saw when I was down at the park for NatsFest a couple of months ago, nothing was being built in the neighborhood. So it's probably a good assumption that there will be no bars or restaurants near the stadium this season. Estimated schedule? I'd say sometime after the economy recovers.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 30, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I read this comment... it starts with a question... and then he answers his own question!!!

"I have been reading for a while all the bashing of Milledge and just don't understand it. Sure he's a little cocky and nonchalant at times, which I think leads to some errors in the mental part of the game."...

Cocky is one thing, many great players are cocky, it comes with the territory... acting nonchalant leading ot mental errors... like, the same mental errors over and over again... that is genesis of the Milledge-blasting...

His talent in unquestioned... but that doesn't mean he still doesn't have A LOT to prove... like dedication to his craft and being interested in getting better and helping the team win...

He definitely deserves the chance, given the talent and his young age... but that doesn't mean you shove him into the limelight by making him the starting CF and leadoff hitter... he needs to earn that with more then the one good month (August) that he had last year...

Posted by: rumbly45 | March 30, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Some of ya'll talk about Nick Johnson like he's 300 lbs. He's not THAT slow. There are, what, 2 guys on the team who are fast enough to have a green light to steal? Sure, Nick's not one of them, but I'd rather have a high OBP guy ON BASE in front of Dunn than a speedy bonehead who may get on base but then runs into an out or gets picked off every other AB.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 30, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Normally this blog has some pretty reasonable baseball-related discussions (the beauty of baseball -- you can talk it to death!) but today the group's credibility is taking a hit. NJ in the one or two spot? C'mon... that's just silly. Some folks are applying Little League logic here...

Though I think the Milledge at lead-off experiment is interesting, I have to agree with the writer who has Hernandez and Guzman 1/2. That drops Milledge or Dukes -- whoever fails to get his act together -- into the 7 spot ahead of Flores.

Also, much as I love Ryan Zimmerman, this is a "Show Me" year for him. He's got to prove he's a legitimate 3-hitter this year. Otherwise a Dukes or a Milledge -- should they begin to demonstrate some plate discipline -- could make a case for themselves at 3.

Back to NJ... does it seem clear to anyone else that they're trying to bolster his trade value so they can move Dunn or Willingham to first? Maybe swap NJ for an arm?

Posted by: outsider6 | March 30, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Lasting Milledge in 2008 (23 years old):
Start of the season through June 25, he hit .245/.312/.368
Then he was on the DL for a month, coming back on July 25.
After coming back from injury, July 25 through September 28, he hit .299/.355/.448.

That second half makes me think it's a little early to give up on him.

http://nationalsreview.wordpress.com/2009/03/03/arbitrary-endpoints-or-why-im-so-optimistic/

Posted by: CharlieF | March 30, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

... but then natscan makes a good point too. Nick hit a lot of doubles last year when he was healthy, which would make a good case for putting him lower in the lineup. Then again, he wouldn't have to steal if he led off with a double. ;)

Posted by: NatsNut | March 30, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"but that doesn't mean you shove him into the limelight by making him the starting CF and leadoff hitter"

Um, am I missing something here? Wasn't Milledge the starting centerfielder all of last year, except when he was on the DL? How is he being shoved into the limelight now?

As for leading off, he couldn't do that last year because they had to bat him 3, 4 or 5, where he's probably not the best suited to bat. Now that they have real hitters for the 3-4-5 slots, giving Milledge an extended shot at the leadoff position makes a lot of sense.

Two things the Nats have rarely if ever had are a good centerfielder and a good leadoff hitter. Let's see if Milledge can fill those voids by giving him an extended chance to do it, before tossing him on the scrap heap at the age of 24.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 30, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Zim with a two-run shot in the 1st! Yahoo!

Posted by: erocks33 | March 30, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure why batting Johnson is "silly" or "little league tactics." What is wrong with batting the guy first who has the best chance of getting on base?

Posted by: Vladman1327 | March 30, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I think it's funny how Manny drew todays final Space Coast line-up out of a hat.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 30, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm not giving up on Milledge. I'd start him in CF this season. I just don't think he's a lead-off hitter. And since Guzman is going to bat second if Milledge leads off, that puts the Nats most potentially explosive hitter--Dukes-- down to fifth. And that aint right. Dukes should be 2nd or 3rd (if you can ever get Zim outta that spot--good luck on all that).

Posted by: dovelevine | March 30, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

knock knock...Cy Shairon dealing again today.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 30, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Nick is the worst leadoff hitter they've got, except for everybody else.

I'd keep Guzman there, and then Nick, but they are apparently giving Milledge one last shot at it. Ill-advised, IMO, since he's already trying to learn how to play center, and learning how to lead off at the same time will probably distract him from both. Best if he does one thing well, first.

Posted by: CEvansJr | March 30, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

would it be that much better to have Nick leadoff? Sure he has a better chance than most on this club to get on base in the 1st inning, but after that how many more times is he likely to lead off an inning?

If he leads off, chances are that the 6-7-8 hitters would end up being (in some order) Flores-Guzman-Hernandez. Not exactly murderers row there. If Dukes or Milledge (or Zim) were batting 5th, there seems to be a better chance that they would be stranded on the basepaths a lot more with Flores-Guz-Hernandez batting after them, than if Nick or Milledge were down in the #6 spot.

If Nick leads off, would the Nats be sacrificing more at the bottom of the lineup, or would they gain more at the top?

Posted by: erocks33 | March 30, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Nick is the worst leadoff hitter they've got, except for everybody else.

Posted by: CEvansJr | March 30, 2009 1:43 PM

***********

good one!

Posted by: NatsNut | March 30, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I don't know why it would be silly to put a guy in the lead off spot who hasn't played in 2 years due largely to a badly broken leg that almost ended his career.

Crazy, I know...

Why wouldn't you want a guy in the lead off spot who's too slow to break up a DP, too slow to go 1st-3rd on a single to right, and too slow to score from second on a single?

Why not have a lead off man who requires at least 2 hits to score?

You're right, Vlad. I take it all back!!

C'mon... stop kidding around. NJ in either the 1 or 2 spot is like saying Chris Cooley could be the 'Skins top WR cuz he has great hands.

As for Milledge, he's always been projected as a middle of the order guy. you'll see him fill out quite a bit over the next 5 years or so (when he'll only be 28!!) and start putting up some pretty impressive power numbers. Batting him lead off now is strictly a stopgap until they can find or develop someone, preferably a 2B, to properly fill that slot.

Posted by: outsider6 | March 30, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

mereterp, use the link below to find up-to-date info on developments around the ballpark (including info on where you can eat):

http://jdland.com/dc/index.cfm

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 30, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut, if the "first to third lumber" ever becomes an Olympic event, my money's on Nick, but short of that....yeah, he really is that slow.

Posted by: joebleux | March 30, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Opening day line-up, if all are healthy...Milledge - Guzman - Zimmerman - Dunn - Dukes - Johnson - Flores - Hernandez - Lannan. I had Johnson 5th, but I don't like batting lefty back to back, so flipped with Dukes. We'll see in week.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 30, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I read this comment... it starts with a question... and then he answers his own question!!!

Posted by: rumbly45 | March 30, 2009 1:22 PM
___________________________________________________________

rumbly45,

The point that you may have overlooked in my rambling was that Milledge is young, only 24 and deserves a little slack to try and figure it out.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 30, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

1. "What is wrong with batting the guy first who has the best chance of getting on base?"

Because he hits a lot of doubles and can knock people in. Bat him second, he still gets on base to allow your #3 and #4 someone to hit in, but if a speedy leadoff man is ahead of him, he moves the guy to Third or Home a lot more often than another guy would. Go check your lists of leadoff men, you'll see that while their OBP is always high, their SLG is going to be usually lower than NJ's


2. "And please let's give up on a 24 year old who hit .303/.376/.477 in 1191 minor league AB's. Yeah, that's a brilliant idea."

I agree, brilliant idea. Especially if we instead we go with a 30 year old with significant back problems in his medical history and a 28 year old signed for only this year and next.

Posted by: Section506 | March 30, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't recognize many in the Tigers line-up.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 30, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

So you'd have Nick hit sixth, I take it, and whichever of Millege or Dukes isn't 7th hitting fifth, after Dunn?
Or are you saying he should be fifth, after Dunn, another lefty?

I can't see having my best OBP right in front of my worst RBI hitters at the bottom of the order, I don't care if it's Ponce 48+.

************
Normally this blog has some pretty reasonable baseball-related discussions (the beauty of baseball -- you can talk it to death!) but today the group's
credibility is taking a hit. NJ in the one or two spot? C'mon... that's just silly.

Though I think the Milledge at lead-off experiment is interesting, I have to agree with the writer who has Hernandez and Guzman 1/2. That drops Milledge or Dukes -- whoever fails to get his act together -- into the 7 spot ahead of Flores.

Posted by: outsider6 | March 30, 2009 1:27 PM

Posted by: CEvansJr | March 30, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

knock knock...Cy Shairon dealing again today.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 30, 2009 1:43 PM
---------------------------------------
I see only 2 starters for the Tigers today (Everett and Laird). Three others are nowhere to be found on their depth chart. Let's not get too excited about the Shy-one's outing today.

Posted by: erocks33 | March 30, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Crap, and then Martis gives up two HR in the top of the 3rd. Nats down 3-2 heading into the bottom of the 3rd.

Posted by: faNATic | March 30, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

he he. I feel a new nickname brewing:
Cy-ron?

Posted by: NatsNut | March 30, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

LOL, my timing on the nickname wasn't very good. Hope I didn't jinx him.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 30, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Willingham and Dunn are absolute liabilities in the OF... but one of them HAS to be out there. Whover said Milledge lacks the instincts is just a moron. I'm no Milledge fan by any stretch but the kid's got skills. Good wheels, decent arm and ridiculous bat speed. Centerfielder? Maybe not... but if he ever pulls his head out (Dukes too) he'll be one outstanding baseball player.

The real question is where does Johnson bat in this lineup? You don't put Dunn and Johnson back-to-back, so does NJ drop to all the way to 6? I'm guessing you slip Dukes between him and Dunn with Flores and Hernandez 7 and 8? Johnson's such a good on-base guy... shame he'll never score with those two and the pitcher following him.

Posted by: outsider6 | March 30, 2009 12:26 PM

I'm the 'moron'. Did you ever see Milledge try to catch a fly ball? He breaks the wrong way; the most simple catch he makes complicated. He takes poor routes to the ball. He doesn't get his body set up in the right position to throw BEFORE making the catch. He makes the catch, then repositions his body to throw; thus taking just a couple of seconds longer.

And this doesn't even begin to discuss his poor judgement baserunning, his inability to move runners over with the bat, his lousy bunting skills and his inability to hit in the clutch.

Other than all those things, you're right, I'm a "moron" for saying Milledge lacks instincts.

Posted by: raymitten | March 30, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Here's my nomination for best slow lead-off hitter - Brian Downing for the 80's Angels. He never stole more than 5 bases, but was a great lead off hitter on good offensive teams. His stats are below:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/d/downibr01.shtml

NJ should bat 2nd for the Nats - with Guz 6th.

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 30, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

That proves, I'm jinxed...drat. Cy-?

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 30, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't read too much into today's lineup, but note that Brian Downing was an outstanding leadoff hitter in the 1980s with the Angels. Not horribly slow, but certainly not a burner (he had 50 SB lifetime).

My guess is that if Nick leads off, he would score more runs than Guzman would (which is the point) if he played as many games.

Posted by: chiefwj | March 30, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

In other news, wonder if this will affect Frowny's ability to ever make it back to the US, whether for us or any other team:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4027260

Posted by: faNATic | March 30, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

#4...on 2nd thought, I like Johnson hitting 2nd also, I wonder how Manny feels about that though, we'll know in a week. Thats why he makes the big bucks I guess.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 30, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Section506: I am aware that most teams pick a speedy player with minimal power to hit leadoff. And I believe that that is a bad idea. Given two evenly matched teams, a leadoff home run actually increases your chances of winning significantly (I don't have the actual numbers now, but I will after my class is over). Plus, Johnson's large amount of doubles is just as effective as a single and stolen base, but it is guaranteed. Milledge was in the low-70% range in SB/SBA last year.

For the record, I have not given up on Milledge. If he develops some discipline and gets his OBP up to around .350, I am all for him batting leadoff. Milledge will slug just as high as Johnson if he develops. But, right now, Milledge is not at that level.

People are obsessed with putting a fast player in the leadoff spot just because he can steal bases. However, getting on base is FAR more important than stealing a base. Plus, Johnson consistently has an OBP of .380+. Even a leadoff walk is demoralizing to a pitcher, and Johnson does that very well.

Posted by: Vladman1327 | March 30, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Yes, NJ in the 6 spot.

If my fellow Nat fans/bloggers are really serious about being somewhat unorthodox, leaving NJ at 5 behind Dunn would do it. Both are RBI men and both -- despite Dunn's avalanche of K's -- are very picky hitters. So you'd think Dunn would see some pitches with NJ behind him.

The downside, of course, is you really help out the opposing manager with his bullpen. And those two back-to-back is a double play waiting to happen.

I like Dukes/Milledge in that 5 spot with NJ to follow, then the other of Dukes/Milledge. You'd think there'd be some real RBI potential in the 7 spot that way.

It'll be interesting to see how long Milledge lasts at lead off... especially if Hernandez hits like he did when the Nats got him. He was never anywhere near .250, much less .300, with the Mets. If he can hit .300+ like 2008 it'll be hard to leave Milledge up there.

Posted by: outsider6 | March 30, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Opening day line-up, if all are healthy...Milledge - Guzman - Zimmerman - Dunn - Dukes - Johnson - Flores - Hernandez - Lannan. I had Johnson 5th, but I don't like batting lefty back to back, so flipped with Dukes. We'll see in week.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 30, 2009 1:47 PM
####################################
Not bad for Opening Day and see how it works but I would put Hernandez 7th and Flores 8th. I like your 3, 4, 5 and 6 for now.

If AHernandez can show he can do the job better, I see him as a potential lead-off with Dukes or Milledge than batting 2nd.

Posted by: dmacman88 | March 30, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

RayMitten: Yes, I see Milledge quite well from my seats 6 rows behind him in CF. I agree on all your comments on Milledge's TECHNIQUE. Those mistakes are not necessarily indicative of a lack of instinct, however, just a lack of training. The Mets played him in corner OF spots since they have Beltran til 2012 or something.

Again Milledge is 23... ok, let's say 24 since his bday's coming up. On many teams Milledge would still be in the minors learning his craft. He happens to be on the worst team in baseball, so here he is. Give him time. And let Marquis Grissom, a superb OF himself, some time to "coach him up".

Posted by: outsider6 | March 30, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Just a little mix-up, cokedispatch. Evidently the two hitters at the top of the Tigers line-up thought that the "knock knock" was an imperative addressed to them.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 30, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

My bad...

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 30, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Now to reverse it so that our Nats get a couple more knocks...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 30, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Dukes is gonna have the best batting average on the team. Are you still gonna keep him 5th or 6th?

Posted by: dovelevine | March 30, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

When traderkirk said, "Flop Dukes and Zimmerman and you have the ideal lineup" I thought he wanted Felipe Lopez back for a second. About had a heart attack!!!!

Posted by: kevinx | March 30, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I hope he does (Dukes), when (if) that happens changes to the order may happen. He'll need to earn that change though.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 30, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Dove: Yes, Dukes stays at 5 -- especially if he's raking. Zimm is the golden boy, first of all. He'll have to fail spectacularly to lose the 3 spot. Also, Zimm should have a better year w/ Dunn behind him. Basically, if Dukes is tearing it up you HAVE to pitch to Dunn hoping for that "K"... more hittable pitches for Dunn means more hittable pitches for Zimm too (assuming Dunn HITS those pitches!).

Posted by: outsider6 | March 30, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who is actually trying to make a case for either A. having NJ lead off or B. trading Lastings Milledge needs to do some soul searching.

Give the kid a chance, I have a feeling he really is going to be lovely suprise this year.

Posted by: NatsandSkinsareclassclassclass | March 30, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

The Flop threw me at first too, kevin.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 30, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I have searched my soul (what there is of it at least, I am a lawyer and all) -- they can trade Lastings for pitching and I think that St. Peter still lets me through the Pearly Gates when the time comes.

NJ batting leadoff b/c he has a good eye overlooks the fact that batting leadoff is about a lot more than getting to 1B often. The idea is to get your guys to Home Plate as often as possible. Nick is lot more valuable further down in the order.

Posted by: dfh123 | March 30, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

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