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Weighing the middle infield options

I'm not really sure if this is a hard argument, per se, for any one scenario, because at first glance, the Nationals need to fortify their middle infield. In fact, the same opinion holds true on second glance. Take a look at the Nats' depth chart.

Over the last two months, much about this team has improved, but the 2B/SS situation still hasn't changed. Basically, the Nats have a 31-year-old career shortstop (Cristian Guzman) with questionable defensive skills who now might be switching positions. And they have a 24-year-old 2B/SS/RF(!), Ian Desmond, with 21 games of big league experience. And beyond that, they have little depth. If Guzman starts at 2B, or if Desmond starts anywhere, the Nats will risk an experiment. And as we know from the Anderson Hernandez Experiment, that can be risky business.

So, to my point. I do think the Nats need middle infield help. I don't intend to argue otherwise. The organization seems to know it, too, turning to free agent Orlando Hudson as its next target. Perhaps the Nats can sign Hudson to a one- or two-year deal, pay him about $4 million annually (just my guess), and breath easier in 2010 with a Guzman/Hudson SS/2B combo.

On the surface, I suppose, that seems like the best option.

But to show the alternative, let me throw some projected numbers out there.

Several of the 2010 statistical projections are already out.

Here's what Bill James predicts for Hudson this upcoming season: 550 AB, .280 AVG, .353 OBP, .409 SLG, 10 HR, 61 RBI, 96 Ks, 7 SBs.

Here's what James predicts for Desmond: 518 AB, .282 AVG, .338 OBP, .432 SLG, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 102 Ks, 25 SBs.

If you're curious for other 2010 projections -- Marcel, CHONE, etc. -- fangraphs.com already has a nice compilation. No matter the source, the numbers for Hudson seem pretty consistent. Guesses for Desmond vary a bit more, mostly because of disparities in projected AB totals.

But basically, according to James, Hudson/Desmond is a wash. Hudson is older and will make more money. Desmond's fielding is shakier but he's better on the basepaths.

Now, let me say this: The Nats would be flirting with disaster by heading to Viera, Fla., with only the current 2B/SS crew. No matter what, they need somebody with big league credentials -- at minimum for insurance purposes. (MLB.com says Adam Kennedy could get a look.)

If Hudson signs with the Nats, the franchise will be quick to note the importance of shoring up the 2B/SS situation with an established veteran, and rightfully so. With Hudson, you have a good sense of what you're getting. With Desmond, who struggled in winter ball, it's a lot harder to say and it's a lot riskier to bank on anything.

That said, there's reason to think that Guzman+Desmond+TBD Underwhelming Veteran might be just as good as Guzman+Hudson... especially once salaries and age are taken into consideration. As the Nats determine how to proceed during the final weeks of the offseason, they must weigh their faith in Desmond for 2010 with the salary demands of Hudson.

In other news, Felipe Lopez is still available.

By Chico Harlan  |  January 13, 2010; 7:51 PM ET
 
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Next: A chat with Rick Eckstein

Comments

Chico, you cruel, cruel, man. Don't remind us of FLop...

Posted by: swang30 | January 13, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

An excellent summary of the Nats' predicament. My guess is that they start the season with Guzman+Desmond+Underwhelming vet. If Desmond Isnt ready, the team can assess where it is in other areas and work on trading for someone who might be a longer term piece at second than Hudson.

Posted by: jcj5y | January 13, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

MLB Trade Rumors says Hudson is looking for 9M for one year. Way too high. They also indicate the Nats are willing to go to 3.25M [about what you said]. MTR also says Kennedy is in the mix as a fallback.

Posted by: mikeladd123 | January 13, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Just get a good utility infielder for cheap, Vasquez from Pirates or Infante. The Pirates might even release Vasquez in spring. He is ok at second or third.

Ideally the Nats need to have someone who has a good glove at short, give Desmond first shot and then fill in if needed. Guzman is probably going to be decent at second.

Posted by: Pensfans | January 13, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Yep,just what the Nat's need,an old second baseman(Kennedy)who supplies practically no offense--never has.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 13, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Eric Bruntlett an Underwhelming Veteran?

Posted by: nunof1 | January 13, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Per MLB Trade Rumors:

Astros Designate Jason Bourgeois For Assignment

By Tim Dierkes [January 13 at 11:03am CST]
"The Astros designated outfielder Jason Bourgeois for assignment to make room for Brett Myers, tweets MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. The Astros had claimed the 28-year-old Bourgeois off waivers from the Brewers in October. In 2009, he hit .316/.354/.401 in Triple A while playing all three outfield positions. The Astros re-signed Jason Michaels in mid-December, lessening the need for extra outfielders."

What this doesn't say is that Bourgeois has played only 11 games in the outfield while logging 541 games at 2B and 228 games at SS.

Does anyone know if he can play defense?

Posted by: KilgoreQTrout | January 13, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Sorry... that's 111 games in the outfield

Posted by: KilgoreQTrout | January 13, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

There's always Soriano. He used to play the infield.

Posted by: nattydread1 | January 13, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

What, Jose Vidro isn't available?

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | January 14, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Guzman will play SS. No doubt about it. Notions of miracle moves that place anyone else in the role of every day SS are worthless. Cristian and his $8M will be there.

Frankly, who really cares who plays 2B? The lineup has the 2B batting 8th anyway, so why spend coins on some short term option for the postion?

If I am Rizzo, I go with a platoon based upon either current options that includes a solid glove guy hitting from the right side or an el cheapo addition AND and I spend the saved coins on pitching, of course.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 14, 2010 12:27 AM | Report abuse

This probably isn't the ultimate answer, but what about seeing in spring training whether Mike Morse might be able to convert to second? He came into the majors as a shortstop and didn't do particularly well there. But range obviously isn't quite as important at 2B, and while he's bigger than many think of as a typical 2B he seems like a good athlete who might be able to handle it. For what little it's worth, he did very well in the few games he played at 1B last year. Meanwhile, while I would never expect him to be a great 2B defensively, he has the potential to be an above-average hitter, with a lifetime MLB average of .293 and a OBP of .355 (though, granted, he didn't do quite as well with the Nats).

I'm not advocating this, necessarily, but am interested in whether others think this is at least worth considering.

Posted by: Dynatic | January 14, 2010 2:48 AM | Report abuse

I am not interested in discussions of the Nats saving coin so they can go for a pitcher. Since they are $6M behind last year's payroll at the moment after dumping the likes of Kearns, Young, etc, they can spend a lot more before they come close to even a league-average payroll.

I am disappointed that the options may not be so exciting, but I agree with the answer I got in a Baseball Prospectus chat yesterday that beyond Hudson being a solid veteran, his signing would continue to build the Nats' credibility.

As for Mike Morse or Eric Bruntlett, I guess either would work if you need a backup. All the interest the Nats are showing in Hudson and Kennedy indicate to me that they have no prospects of trading for a 2B. MLB Trade Rumors keeps on mentioning other teams in connection with remaining available pitchers, but not the Nats, though. I am hoping the Aroldis Chapman pattern is in effect, with the Nats negotiating hard, but keeping their mouths shut.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | January 14, 2010 6:21 AM | Report abuse

You're Freekin' kidding. Guzman/Hudson??? Get over thinking Guzman's solid or anything close. It's Desmond/Hudson. Be a forward thinking organization. That's pretty dumb man. Do you know anything at all about baseball and building a winning team??? Please Wash Post get a baseball person in here to write not a woman's synchronized swimming guru.

Posted by: billm32 | January 14, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

I live in AZ and watched Hudson play for the Diamondbacks. He brings not only a graeat glove and good bat, but something else the Nats could always use. That would be a great clubhouse voice and presence. Never underestimate the value of stong veteran leardership, especially in such a young clubhouse. He is worth a resonable contract.

Posted by: azskinsfn | January 14, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Morse at 2B, it is rare for a man of his size to be assigned 2B because of the demands of the position Morse is 6'5" 230 lbs. The agility, quickness, and accrobatics needed to turn the double play lends itself to shorter, lighter players. Morse might be able to play 2B in an emergency, but his limitations would likely be exposed with any significant playing time. I am more curious as to whether Morse can defend adeqautely enough to be the late inning defensive replacement at 1B. The Nats may need one and if Morse cannot do it, then Josh Whitsell might steal a bench slot on the 25 man roster this spring.

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 14, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone catch the remark from Willie Harris earlier this off-season that:

"He is like Nyjer Morgan. But Nyjer is a little quieter than Orlando. They are pretty much the same as far as being competitive."

How coold would that be?

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 14, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

er, cool

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 14, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Why doesn't the team have any interest in Orlando Caberera? He seems to be a serious upgrade defensively to Guzman.

Posted by: raymitten | January 14, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

You ain't from around these parts, are you?

**********************
Please Wash Post get a baseball person in here to write not a woman's synchronized swimming guru.
Posted by: billm32 | January 14, 2010 6:46 AM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | January 14, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Why in the world Hudson? He lost his LA job to Ronnie Belliard. Why didn't we just keep Belliard? This is just running things backward.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | January 14, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Regarding James's projections for Desmond: I am really surprised and impressed at how high they are, for a guy who would be going into his rookie year. A .780 OPS would have ranked Desmond 5th out of NL qualified shortstops last season, including ahead of Drew, Rollins, Furcal and Guzman.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 14, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

CIL, that ramirez sitch sounds pretty cheap from the buget squeezing end. We need to have a more flexible draft budget if were getting into trouble like this were there isnt enough money to go around to the players that they picked, signability. But why did a potential 1st rounder drop to the 15th, thats pretty drastic and why in the 15th round did we pay him 1.5 mil? Seems high for that late a round pick.

It would be irresponsible to not pickup another MI, but were not really going to get much upgrade from whats left. Is this a Guzman contract year? I really hope so, thats the only way I want to see him playing 140+ games.

Posted by: Stu27 | January 14, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

How James can predict 518 AB's for Desmond is beyond me, the guy might be in a log jam, he might be in 'Cuse.

Guzman is in a walk year. Barring some trade for a MLB caliber everyday SS, he's going to play SS every day for the Nats. His glove will not all of a sudden be golden but he'll be better than he showed with last year's horrid defenseive performance and he'll hit, so it could be worse.

Flexiblie budget for the Nats? No comment. Irresponsible for them not to add some particular piece? No comment.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 14, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Adam Kennedy is the perfect veteran to sign. He can start at second base and provide decent defense and his offense is about on par with Hudson except he has better speed on the basepaths. More importantly, he is willing to play outfield and third and give Desmond some room to develop. So you start Desmond at Syracuse to work on his defense--woeful at times to be frank. In June, as the trading deadline approacheth, Rizzo trades Guzman to the first contender who loses a shortstop for some middle infield prospect and brings Desmond up and makes him the shortstop to see what happens.

A similar argument could be made for Doug Davis that the Nationals are trying to sign. Detwiler or JD Martin MIGHT put up the same numbers or something similar, but earning Detwiler a few more months of seasoning is a good idea. And the bottom line is that Kasten's bs about a "plan" has gone out the window. The plan is to field a competitive team in 2010 and draw some frickin fans.

Posted by: Juliasdad | January 14, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Guzman is a 10 and 5 guy. It would be practically impossible to trade him either now or at the deadline because he can't be traded without his consent. Dude doesn't even want to expand his comfort zone from SS to 2B. He ain't agreeing to no trade.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 14, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Keep it as is (Guzman/Desmond) for this season, and trade for a top prospect out there that can start the following season and next 5 years.

Keep building. We're not going to compete for the division this year, so why spend on Hudson? Forget 'credibility' as a reason. We are ok at SS/SB for now, but go get a young guy to take over after this season.

Posted by: Gibbs4Pres | January 14, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

It dosent matter if Guz would agree to a trade. Not to many teams are hurting for an overpaid, poor-gloved, slap-ball hitting SS with an OPS that's the same as his average.

Posted by: Stu27 | January 14, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

If a contending team loses their SS to an injury and they want Guzman why wouldn't he accept a trade? Playing well for a contender would boost his value going into free agency more would it not? Also, he might enjoy playing for a team other than the Nationals and actually improve, a la FLop and Belliard.

I think Guzman will be the Nats SS at the beginning of the year, but I don't think its unreasonable to think that he would accept a mid-season trade to a contending team.

Posted by: SpashCity | January 14, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

So are good seats, I hear.

---

In other news, Felipe Lopez is still available.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 14, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

"If a contending team loses their SS to an injury and they want Guzman why wouldn't he accept a trade? Playing well for a contender would boost his value going into free agency more would it not? Also, he might enjoy playing for a team other than the Nationals and actually improve, a la FLop and Belliard."

Yeah, that progression really advanced the careers of Belliard and Lopez, didn't it? In case you hadn't noticed, being traded to a contender and performing well hasn't improved their FA value at all. They're both sitting out there unsigned, waiting for their phone to ring. And if it does ring, there ain't gonna be any big money offer on the other side. You can bet Guzman has noticed this. Given the choice of sticking with the Nats in his comfort zone or going somewhere else into an unknown situation, I'd say the chances are he'd opt to stay right where he is.

And all this is assuming that any other team would actually want him, which is doubtful at best.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 14, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

in re: Guzman
Yes, AND the general consensus is the 2011 free agent pool will be much better than 2010, so not only are teams holding off where they can, sticking with one-year deals if they can, etc., but there will be stiffer competition for about the same number of jobs--there's still only 30 teams. Still, stuff happens. Teams that think they're all set, now, at certain positions, will find themselves up a creek in August, from injuries, bad luck, and unexpectedly bad performances from guys they thought were solid. Happens someplace, every year. So you never know.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | January 14, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Assuming the Nats are out of playoff contention when the trade-deadline rolls around, and they can't trade Guzman (because he won't approve a trade or a lack of interest from other teams) they will probably just bench him so that Desmond can get more playing time. Yes I understand that the Nats would be paying him $8 million to sit, but at some point they have to give Desmond a shot right? They did last year with fairly good results.

If this is a possibility, I think Guzman would rather be traded to a contender than riding the pine for the Nats. Just my opinion since we don't really know how Guzman feels about getting traded vis-a-vis the 10 and 5 rule. The only thing we know for sure about Guzman is that he isn't wild about the idea of playing second base.

Posted by: SpashCity | January 14, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Put Guz on the bench behind Desmond and see how long it is before he waives his NTC to go to a contender.

I like the ideas of Kennedy and Davis (or preferably Garland). I also like the idea of trading Willingham for a starter or starting middle infielder and signing Nady to take his place, but no one is asking me.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | January 14, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

The only portion of Bill James's Desmond protection I can believe for 2010 is the # of Ks, he performed horribly in Winter Ball in the Domincan which is a hitters league, no way he gets even close to 500 ABs, I think somewhere between Chone and Marcel's 2010 prediction is right. We know that Riggleman likes veterans and unless there is a major injury to someone in the infield, Guzman plus whomever will be our infield combo to start the season. My vote is for whomever = Eric Bruntlett, he can play good defense at multiple positions and bat 8th and comes at a good price. I would love to see the O-Dog in a Nats uniform but he is asking too much for 1 year.

Posted by: markfd | January 14, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

It is a lot more than "expanding comfort zone" when a guy moves from the left side of the infield and has to turn the pivot at 2B. The throws are different, the positioning and the turn are tough to get down. Guzman is not a middle infielder, he's a SS. He has never played 2B on any level, ever. He might be WORSE there.

A transition to 3B is doable for him but no need with the Nats and his light power does not make him a sexy corner I.F. guy anyway.

Guz will play SS and start all year for the Nats barring injury or should he play very well and get moved with his permission to a club that wants him.

I actually think that he's going to have a nice year. Morgan should get on and they'll have him run like Hell, with Guz's high contact rate he'll be moving him over and maybe even in a lot. His glove has sucked, as we know all too well, but call me the wacky optimist, he's got to improve on last year and there is all kinds of pressure on him to solidfy his D (contract, pride, fans all over him). Gotta hope.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 14, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

If Guzman ends up riding the pine for the Nats at the trade deadline, ain't no other team going to want to trade for him anyway. Recall the following similar cases from previous years: Kearns, A., Lopez, F., LoDuca, P., Young, D., Estrada, J. It's no doubt a sign of progress for the Nats that they have maybe one player falling into that situation this year instead of three or four.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 14, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

@Raymitten
Actually, we don't know they aren't talking to him. He doesn't seem to want an outrageous amount of money (2/$10MM, which he may not get), he's durable, and he's apparently one of the Character Guys Rizzo and Kasten like. But he's not much of an upgrade over Guzman, defensively (Twins say they would move him to second if he stays, which he's said he wants to do), and he's 3 years older.

offensively:
Cabrera '09 .289/.313/.430
Guzman 2009 .284/.306/.390

Not overwhelmingly different there.

-**********
Why doesn't the team have any interest in Orlando Caberera? He seems to be a serious upgrade defensively to Guzman.
Posted by: raymitten | January 14, 2010 8:38 AM
***************
---------

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | January 14, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"Guzman is not a middle infielder, he's a SS. He has never played 2B on any level, ever. He might be WORSE there."

Um, last time I looked shortstop WAS a middle infield position. So Guzman is a middle infielder. He's turned the pivot many times at second base in 4-6-3 double plays. And if you can believe Tom Boswell, second base is a much easier position than SS, to the point that there's no reason anyone who can play reasonably well at short should have trouble playing second.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 14, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I think the point was that he's not a generic (you'll excuse the expression) middle infielder, he's exclusively a shortstop. The FO does seem to think he can play there, though. But the differences are not insubstantial, and even if it works, I'm afraid there'll be a shallow start on the learning curve for quite a while, Boz's confidence notwithstanding.

As Grace Kelly used to say, not everyone can dance backwards in high heels and a dress.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | January 14, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

You've got it backwards Jenn,

The Nats won't bench Guzman until AFTER the trade deadline. I think its pretty clear they won't bench him in May and continue to try to trade him. If they can't get a deal done before July 31, look for Desmond to get increased playing time over Guzman. However, they will probably keep playing him part-time and try to trade him through waivers.

I agree with you though that the biggest hurdle will be getting Guzman to approve a trade. There should be interest, even if that interest is only for him to be a backup, late-inning pinch hitter. A lot of teams could use a switch-hitting, high-contact guy off the bench. But like I said, if it is made clear to Guzman that he is going to have a reduced role on the Nats, he may be more willing to accept a trade.

Posted by: SpashCity | January 14, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I agree with dfh21. I think Guz should be (and will be) the starting SS this year. Of course, this is predicated on the Nats not trading him (pending Guz's approval of course). I think the possibility of having Guz play second has passed. If they were serious about this, he should have been playing Winter Ball working on his 2B defense.

And just because you play short doesn't mean that you can play second. Just because you can turn a 4-6-3 (you being the 6) double play doesn't mean that you can automatically turn the 6-4-3 DP where you are the 4. Completely different angles (balls thrown to you, balls thrown from you, players sliding into you, etc). If you've never played 2B in your 31 years of being alive, it's going to take more than 31 days in ST to make the change.

Sign Hudson. Play Guz at short. Have Desmond start in Syracuse. With Dunn lumbering around first, the Nats need a proven defender at second (and yes, Hudson's D has dimished some, but he's still better than anyone else the Nats could trot out there). And unfortunately, with the Nats Luck that occurs each year, someone will inevitabely go down with an injury. That's when you bring up Desmond.

Posted by: erocks33 | January 14, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I would love to see the O-Dog in a Nats uniform but he is asking too much for 1 year.

Posted by: markfd | January 14, 2010 12:16 PM
______________________________________________________________

Who cares. Sign him, it's a one year deal.

It's not like the Nats payroll is large enough for this to be a factor.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 14, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Ahem, I believe it was Ginger Rogers. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go try to erase the image of Guze in a dress from my mind.

---

As Grace Kelly used to say, not everyone can dance backwards in high heels and a dress.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | January 14, 2010 12:35 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 14, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone catch this nugget in Boswell's chat today?

"I've heard that, within the last week, the Nats thought they were close had a trade for a major-league ready pitcher of Jordan Zimmermann quality but it feel through when the other team backed out. My guess, and that's all it is, is that it was one of those Willingham-plus-somebody-for-a-young-pitcher deals that everybody knows the Nats are looking at."

Boswell concludes, I think rightly, that we are probably underestimating the range of what the Nats front office might do in the next two months.

Posted by: jcj5y | January 14, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

the hurdle to trading guzman to a contender at the trade deadline won't be his no trade clause. the hurdle will be finding a contender who's so desperate that they'd want him.

magic 8 ball says: not likely.

that's not a pipe dream to hold onto there. it's not impossible, but the hurdles (multiple) are big enough to make it extremely unlikely (and very little return if it did happen).

Posted by: sec231 | January 14, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

How do bunions figure into this? I know Guzman has never been the world's greatest defensive SS, but his injuries this year did seem to have an impact.

Should we pray for Guzman and his bunions?

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 14, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Is it possible that there is so much animosity for Guzman because every time any of us see him we see the darling of Jim Bowden? there are a lot of bad players on the Nationals team but he really generates some serious ire.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 14, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, y'all, but this shortstop/second base thing has bugged me for a while. Yes, the positions are somewhat different. Sure fine I get that. But ...

I generally hate the argument method I'm about to use, but I just can't think of a better approach. Can anyone here, anyone at all, name me a major-league-or-close ballplayer who tried to play second, and was so bad at it, they moved him back to short? Maybe with an actual example, I'll understand better.

Just one guy, any guy at all. Anecdotes count, too, because if the player tried to switch in the offseason, he might never have gotten into an actual game at the keystone sack.

Posted by: Scooter_ | January 14, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

No Scooter. No one can name that. But I'm pretty sure the only reason the Nat's even floated the idea is that Bowden extended him and now we have no where to play the man.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 14, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"Can anyone here, anyone at all, name me a major-league-or-close ballplayer who tried to play second, and was so bad at it, they moved him back to short? Maybe with an actual example, I'll understand better."

Well, they played Desmond at second some last year, and in all the talk I hear now about plans for next year, Desmond's name always seems to show up at short but never ever at second. So would he fit your criteria?

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 14, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

2B is easier than SS to play and everyone I can think of was better at 2B than SS - Flop immediately comes to mind. It's nuts to think Guzy will be worst at 2B than he is at SS. And let's not forget that Guzy plays 2B every time we put the shift on. I seem to recall Zim and Guzy turned many double plays from that alignment.

That said, there's no reason not to sign Hudson. Make Desmond earn his spot. We're gonna pay Guzy whether he plays, sits or is traded - nobody's gonna take his salary - so let the Rigglemonster decide who the two best up the middle are. Rizzo should get the best MI option out there and let spring training sort out who plays.

As for Guzy's d, it's not as bad as everyone's making it out to be. He's not great but he's not a black hole. -2.5 UZR isn't god-awful people (and Hudson also has a negative UZR for what it's worth).

Posted by: sec307 | January 14, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Scooter -- I can't think of one, but can you name me one that did make the switch from SS to 2B successfully (and I don't mean the utility infielder types, I'm talking career SS, i.e 10+ years). I'm sure there are a bunch, but I just can't think logically right now (evidenced by most of my posts!).

Posted by: erocks33 | January 14, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Good idea, erocks. I like your return challenge. 10 years? That rules out our very own Felipe, mentioned above, because he was only primarily a shortstop for 6. Michael Young and Cal Ripken both moved to third, not second. Just checked Yount, cuz I knew the Brewers jerked him around a bit, and he moved straight to the outfield. This will obviously take some more thought and looking around.

Posted by: Scooter_ | January 14, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

To All;

Just wanted to pass, over on MASN Ben G will actually respond to your comments on a topic that he has posted. I would think once he gets a following it might become impossible but in the mean time its nice to get a fresh post daily and a response to your thoughts.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | January 14, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone take a look at the "Depth Chart" that Chico links to? It's from the Nationals official website. I wonder who put this together. The six starters listed include Zimmermann, even though he almost certainly won't play in 2010. Also included are Mock and Martin, but not Detweiller, Stammen, or Martis, all of whom are on the 40 man roster just like Mock and Martin. It includes Bernadina as a backup in left and center, but Maxwell is no where to be found. Both are on the 40 man as well. Gonzales is listed as a backup at 3rd, but not at 2nd.

So is this an official document, or just something the new winter intern at MLB.com threw together?

Posted by: Section222 | January 14, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Tippy, I concur re. the MASN site, and it's not unique to Goessling, as other bloggers there are also quite responsive (more so during the season, as one might expect).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 14, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I think it's the latter, 222. I seem to recall that last year some folk noticed Adam Dunn was immediately added at first base.

Or maybe it's the team's official sayer of sooth.

Posted by: Scooter_ | January 14, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

The shift, when Guzman presumably mans 2B, is not on when there are baserunners and they use the shift for what, like 5 hitters they face all year? And being a SS is not the same as being a middle infielder. Some guys play both positions, great, but certainly not all. Some OF's can play CF and RF for example, but not all. Outfidlers are not interchangable for all 3 slots because they are outfielders. Carlos Lee in CF? Yikes.

And it is not nuts to think that a player has to perform better at a seemingly easier position. Yogi Bera was not such a great LF folks.

Anyway, this is a silly conversation. Guzman will play SS if he is on the roster. Two time All Star, $8M contract, switch hitter that will put the ball in play behind Morgan (they are goign to hit and run every night). Guzman is going to play, so can we talk about something else?

Posted by: dfh21 | January 14, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

"Boswell concludes, I think rightly, that we are probably underestimating the range of what the Nats front office might do in the next two months."

I am on record in a previous thread predicting that the Nats will make a major trade sometime between now and April involving multiple players from our side.

Also, didn't 506 trade Guzman to the Mets (fans) for Jose Reyes awhile back?

Posted by: BobLHead | January 14, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Moreover, I'm not sure how many of us here can say we didn't approve of the Guz extension:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2008/07/breaking_news_rauch_traded_guz.html

Posted by: BobLHead | January 14, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Ha, I remember that! I wish the Mets were a publicly-owned team like the Packers; maybe then we could take that agreement to arbitration.

-----

Also, didn't 506 trade Guzman to the Mets (fans) for Jose Reyes awhile back?

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 14, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

BobL: Great find on the poll on Guz! The fact is that it was a good deal when inked. Bowden got Guzman on a shorter term deal than market, and Guzman essentially gave the club a discount due to his injury riddled and poor play filled prior time with the club. (Furcal inked for 3 years and $30M -- Furcal's a better player but not an extar $14M better.)

Posted by: dfh21 | January 14, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Okay, Chico, do you seriously think this was some sort of analysis on your part? Do us a favor and don't even bother. Freakin fans are doing a better job than this.

WaPo, I love you to death, but call me when you get a decent beat writer. I'll be on just about every other blog BUT this one.

Posted by: NatsNut | January 14, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

BobL, that historical nugget is pure gold! Many of us can find some embarrassing comments that we wrote in that thread. My favorite, which is embarrassing only to the Nats not to CiL who wrote it, is the following, which I hereby nominate for post of the day:


BIM, you should see the Nats' email alert to fans on these 2 transactions--it is a (well-earned) slap in Felipe's face. It states that the Nats "set in motion their double play combination of the future" today by re-signing Guz and trading for Bonifacio. I wonder if JimBo or Stan reviews these emails before PR/marketing sends them out?

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 22, 2008 8:55 PM

Posted by: Section222 | January 14, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

This also happened before the big Market Devaluation of 2008-09.

-----

The fact is that it was a good deal when inked. Bowden got Guzman on a shorter term deal than market, and Guzman essentially gave the club a discount due to his injury riddled and poor play filled prior time with the club

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 14, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

soundbloke, my disparaging remarks re: guzman are not animosity. i don't dislike the guy at all and i know he's played hard when healthy here.

but the reality is he's just not that good right now. he's not god awful, but he's really not very good any more. he doesn't suck as a placeholder, but he's not the guy a contender really wants for more than a backup.

since we're not a contender here, he'll do. but he's not going to garner anything on the trade market.

Posted by: sec231 | January 14, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

My point sec231 was that we have a lot of 'not-good' players. He seems to garner a special amount of discusion. The only reason I ask is because a friend asked me the same question and I thought a long time before saying 'I don't know'.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 14, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Get rid of Guzman. Get rid of Guzman Get rid of Guzman.

I don't want to see him out there. Maybe I'm spoiled because I'm a Phightins' fan first and having Rollins and Utley - the two best in baseball, makes it harder to watch my local (and my 2nd team) the Nats suck so bad. What's the point of Guzman at ss when you've got Desmond!!! Heck Bruntlett would be a better fielding 2b than Guzman and he's got rings. Get Hudson or Nick Punto, ,Jamie Carroll somebody else!!!

Posted by: billm32 | January 14, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Sec222: The MLB.com "Depth charts" can be pretty stale - In some teams' cases, they only seem to get updated about three or four times a year (entering spring training, exiting spring training, at the All-Star break & around September 1). They also don't have any method to account for DL-list players (such as JZimm), so for fans familiar with the roster, you're better off just looking at the 40-man list & figuring things out for yourself.

Posted by: BinM | January 14, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

@Sec222: I don't mind being mentioned or quoted, but what in heavens' name was CIL responding to me about in your POTD?

Posted by: BinM | January 14, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind the thought of Desmond "earning his spot" in Viera - If the Nationals sign another 2B or SS, then throw them all (Bruntlett, Desmond, AGonz, Guzman, Orr, & ???) into the mix, and the best three make the roster.

Posted by: BinM | January 14, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

JIndeed, BinM, the best outcome would be if Desmond hits like we hope he can, and his good plays in the field outweigh the lousy ones, and this all looks silly 9 months hence. And there's surely a chance that he's that good.

But -- speaking only for myself, I'm very weary of Bonifacio and Hernandez and Gonzalez being tossed in to see what they can do. My brain tells me that I/we knew they wouldn't all work -- that's why they call it a "chance" -- but my eyes are tired of seeing it.

Posted by: Scooter_ | January 14, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

BinM,

Gotta say your..... "then throw them all (Bruntlett, Desmond, AGonz, Guzman, Orr, & ???) into the mix, and the best three make the roster" ....is just the type of wing and a prayer thinking that has lead to two of the worst 100 loses seasons I can recall in 30 years of loving baseball. Rizzo needs two proven middle infielders to start the season and neither should be named Guzman in my view. The team lead baseball in errors 2 years in a row. Give the pitchers a break and get some defense up the middle. Then we might just be able to win some games and even when we lose it will be worth watching.

Posted by: JayBeee | January 14, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Can we go over this 2B/SS thing again.

1. Generally one of the two is primarily there for his bat and one for his glove (we need to take the Wagners, Ripkins, Gehringers, etc. out of the discussion, since they were beyond extraordinary).
2. Obviously, Guz is now there for his bat. Theoretically, that would leave us with dealing with a bat at 2nd.
3. Desmond is an interesting choice. If we actually see him as "the future", he needs to get a serious number of ML P/As under his belt.
4. Putting a defensive short stop in place takes a lot of pressure off of Zim. That is a good thing. One of the things that you want from someone, like him, is for him to not wear down after 7 or 8 years.
5. This year's F/A crop is mediocre at best. Most of the Lerners' money that some of the posters wanted to spend would have been wasted. It is not that they are cheap, it is simply that they (with Rizzo's advice) want to get value for expenditure. I don't think that anyone can argue against that.

Also, next year may prove interesting, particularly if, as rumor has it, the AL ends the hated DH experiment.

By the way, for those of you who think that the Nats should have overspent for Chapman...Let's remember who dropped out, early. That would include the richest team in baseball...a team that is going to see its #3 pitcher, a sure HOF electee, who has been a member of its staff for years, retire either after this year or next, and would fit Chapman into the staff either next year or the year after.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | January 14, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

BinM -- CiL was responding to something you said in the discussion of Guzman signing his two year deal in the summer of '08 (the same day that we dealt Rauch to the DBacks). BobLHead posted the link, so you can go back and see how clairvoyant you were. Be prepared to be disappointed in yourself. My comment that day was pretty embarrassing with respect to Guzman, but pretty on target on the Rauch for Bonifacio deal.

The Depth Chart isn't really stale as much as just off. It includes Pudge and Marquis. But has Bernadina but no Maxwell, and Zimmermann but not Stammen. Odd and still not explained. The 40 man seems up to date.

Posted by: Section222 | January 14, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Scouting reports on both Gonzalez and Hernandez had them as defensive whizz kids. It's easy to understand how fans could have been confused.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 14, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm no big fan or detractor of Guz, but most of the time what he gets to, he handles. I've watched great fielding SS (Brinkman) who couldn't hit a lick, and I've seen Guz when he's hot (leading the league last May).

I'll take the hitting.

But honestly, has Guz had his laser surgery checked out? His 2nd half slump may be related to that, and he'd hardly notice.

Posted by: nats24 | January 15, 2010 1:36 AM | Report abuse

The number of establsihed middle infield starters on the Nationals team right now is one (1). You need two (2). And some teams have three or more (e.g., Phillies, Marlins, ...). I look forward to Desmond, Espinosa, and Kobernus making up the middle some day, but in 2010 you are really committing to last place if you don't bring in another player.

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 15, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Sec222: That 2B projection probably wasn't the first time I mis-read the tea leaves, and it certainly won't be the last. I was on record in the same string that I felt the Nationals got "short sheeted" on the trade.

Thats OK, though - Feb. 18 is only 34 days away.

Posted by: BinM | January 15, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

This whole conversation seems off regarding our options or Rizzo's likely goal to me. Hasn't he repeatedly said he'd like to pursue the MI solution through trade? Short of 'veteran stability', O-Dog offers us no real tangible improvement, and he would go completely against Rizzo's other moves to bolster the defense to support our pitch-to-contact rotation.

My guesses:
1) Rizzo will trade for a defense-first 2B, and Guzman stays at SS. That way, Zim's range on the left side makes up for Guz's lack of, and the new 2B does the same for Dunn on the right side. I think Guz and Dunn on the same side is just asking for trouble against lefties.
2) Rizzo will wait for the trade until close to spring training (or beyond) to see who the odd-men-out will be for other squads, and pick someone up at a discount (or even someone DFA'ed or released).
3) Desmond will start the season where he should, in Syracuse, playing every day, challenged to earn his way up by producing. This is his make-or-break year to take SS after Guz is gone.
4) The MLB infield backups will be Morse and Bruntlett (Willie & JMax in OF)
4)

Posted by: natinbeantown | January 15, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

====
Also, next year may prove interesting, particularly if, as rumor has it, the AL ends the hated DH experiment.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | January 14, 2010 9:51 PM
====

yeah... don't hold your breath on that. they'd need buy-in from the player's association to do that and i don't see them making that concession. too many older, influential, high-priced players lose their jobs.

Posted by: sec231 | January 15, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I don't know how much stock you an put into any GM's statements that they are looking for improvements via trade vs free agency. You look for the best option available at the best price. Sometimes the best price is via free agency, sometimes its cheaper to trade players and contracts on the books. What we do know is that Rizzo seems willling to work the deals for months with patience and focus. He claims to have worked the Nyger Morgan trade for months dating back to spring training 2009.

If true its an interesting model. Pittsburg had no less than three qualified centerfielders at the start of last year - McLouth, McClutchen, and Morgan. They were clearly going to make room for McClutchen as soon as he was judged ready. I would imagine Rizzo is looking at teams that fit that model in the middle infield now. But you can't wait forever. So sign a free agent to a 1-2 year deal and keep working it.

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 15, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

New post is up!

Posted by: OldSkoolDiehard | January 15, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

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