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More on the Ian Desmond decision and morning links

When the Nationals signed Adam Kennedy this offseason, Ian Desmond wondered what that meant for him. Weren't they going to try to Cristian Guzman at second base? Wasn't shortstop finally going to be open? Desmond let those thoughts bounce around for a very short time, and then he dashed them.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to come here and win a job," Desmond said yesterday, after he learned Jim Riggleman had decided he won the shortstop position. "If you're a player, that's what you want to do. You want to be the best. When they signed Kennedy for second, I said, 'Oh, man.' I just moved on. It all paid off."

It was not, Riggleman said, an easy decision. It made for a difficult conversation with Guzman. Riggleman respects what Guzman has done and still believes he is capable. He wanted to make clear this was a vote for Desmond, not a vote against Guzman.

"We all have our respect for the veterans, what they've accomplished," Riggleman said. "You don't want to insult them or anything like that. You try to make that as clear as possible -- 'Please don't be insulted by this, this is not a reflection on your play. It's just a special performance we've seen from the other guy. You're an A player. But this guy's been playing A+.' It's amazing what he's been doing out there, and we can't ignore that."

While Guzman digested his new lot, Desmond snuck out of the clubhouse and told his parents the news. "He's extremely happy," said Chris Charron, Desmond's stepfather. "He didn't know if he was going to be living in Syracuse or living in Washington. It kind of eats at you."

As for Guzman, he isn't going to disappear altogether. "Desmond isn't going to be a 600 at-bat shortstop for us, because Guzman is going to play a lot of shortstop," Riggleman said. "Guzman will get some games at second. Basically, there will be some days where I decide I want the right-handed bat of Guzman in there against certain left-handers. Kennedy will get a day off on those days."

It will be an interesting situation to manage, but count Boz on board. In his column, Boz has some wonderful data that pretty much only Boz would think to look up. Guzman said he is going to embrace his utility role. It was a day of decisions for the Nationals. The Desmond choice was popular around the Natmosphere. Last week, 84 percent of you said Desmond should be the shortstop.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 29, 2010; 7:45 AM ET
Categories:  Cristian Guzman , Ian Desmond , middle infield  | Tags: Adam Kennedy, Cristian Guzman, Ian Desmond  
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Next: President Obama will throw out first pitch Opening Day at Nationals Park


From the Nats' site, regarding Desmond: "He's also played spectacular defense."

Um... okay... What's his fielding percentage this spring? How many errors? UZR? Throw those numbers at us and let us decide how spectacular his defense is.

Next we'll read that Guzman has been drawing a spectacular number of walks. And Dunn has been hitting a spectacular number of triples...

Posted by: gilbertbp | March 29, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

long term it was a good move. if the Big Rigg can keeps forcing extra defensive practices through the season I expect Ian and the rest of the squad to improve.

Not to mention we're having a guy who is learning on defense, playing next to a gold glover. That is what I call trying to balance things out.

Posted by: alex35332 | March 29, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

"Last week, 84 percent of you said Desmond should be the shortstop."

Yep, with an (old) rookie SS, an (old) journeyman 2B, and an (old) clumsy 1B, we've got an infield made to order for our slo-pitch ground ball starters.

This team is going to be something to see.

By the way, Stammen in his last start missed not one but two opportunities to pick off David Wright at 2B that Guzman had set up. Apparently, the Nats do not care about the basic, run-saving stuff. Which raises the question: what do they specialize in?

Three-run homers, I guess.

Posted by: JohnRDC | March 29, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Understand the field appears to be like a swamp and the customer parking is underwater. Think this one is a rain-out?

Posted by: bjvon58 | March 29, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

@gilbertbp and @johnRDC,

I guess this makes the summer real easy for both of you. You don't have to watch any baseball. Complain, cmplain, complain!!!

Posted by: natsguy | March 29, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

It sounds like Riggs is finding a nice way to say "platoon." Give the fans what the want and start Des, but give the front office wants not to waste 8 million. I bet the break down will be more like 60-40 to Des.

Posted by: hansenjo | March 29, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

If you are looking at it like it will be another lost season - and I do - then I think this is positive to see if SS is another position we need a long term solution for vs. having that position locked up for a couple of years. Assuming that he works - a big assumption - then our needs are to resign Dunn and get long term answers at RF, 2B and C - a shorter list then we've had in years.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | March 29, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

If you are looking at it like it will be another lost season - and I do - then I think this is positive to see if SS is another position we need a long term solution for vs. having that position locked up for a couple of years. Assuming that he works - a big assumption - then our needs are to resign Dunn and get long term answers at RF, 2B and C - a shorter list then we've had in years.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | March 29, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

And pitching...

Posted by: alex35332 | March 29, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I love Boz, but his logic is flawed.

When trying to determine if Desmond will work out, Boz started by looking at all the shortstops who played more than 110 ML games last year. This automatically narrows the candidate pool, and restricts it to (I presume mostly) succesful ML shortstops, who wouldn't be ML shortstops if they had an unacceptably bad combination of defense and hitting.

To make a valid comparison, he needed to identify players, probably from multiple years, who had similar minor league performances to Desmond's, and see whether they made it as succesful ML players.

When you start out by looking only at the (mostly already) succesfuly ML players, you're skewing the results.

Posted by: hats4bats | March 29, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

It's the right move both with Desmond and Maxwell.

In both cases, they were given obvious opportunities: In Desmond's case, Guzman's injury and declining range. In Maxwell's, the Dukes release.

Desmond clearly took advantage of his opportunity, and Boswell's point about expected defensive improvement is valid. Certainly this is the season to find out.

If Maxwell had managed an even half-decent performance the RF job would have been his, but you can't expect a team, no matter how much faith it has in a player (and I don't think they have that much faith in Maxwell's hitting ability) to bring up a player who not only isn't hitting is weight but more importantly, as Riggelman said, just isn't catching up to the fastball.

It will probably be another frustrating season. But at least we will get to see whether Desmond is likely to be a star or just a flash in the pan.

Posted by: Meridian1 | March 29, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

alex, pitching is a given for any team because of how easily arm injuries occur, but if you look at Lannan, JZimm, SS and Detwiler then we just need one arm to go with them. As a bullpen changes from year to year I'm not worried about that; if our starters are solid then the bullpen will fall into place.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | March 29, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Game Cancelled? That's the word from the local sports writers.

Posted by: bjvon58 | March 29, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

"You don't have to watch any baseball."

I won't be watching baseball at a major league level if I go watch the Nats play, that's for sure.

Well, I can always visit Maryland, Navy or GWU.

Posted by: JohnRDC | March 29, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Game called off for today. Split squad tomorrow?

Posted by: EnricoPolatzo | March 29, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Hey Adam,

Any news on today's game? Will need to get ready to leave Orlando soon if they think they can get in.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | March 29, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Per NI and MASN, today's game is cancelled/postponed. It's to be determined whether they may make it up tomorrow with a split squad match.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 29, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Ladson actually interviewed Guzman, and his story is worth a look. Guzman's classy comments should put to rest all the "he's going to sulk" assumptions that we've been hearing. The guy is a pro and will try to help the team win. Good for Desmond for winning the job, and good for Guzman for accepting the decision with grace. I have a feeling he will get plenty of at bats. Injuries happen, he can platoon with Kennedy if Kennedy has trouble with lefties, and when he's not starting, he'll be the first option for a pinch hitter in late innings.

Posted by: Section222 | March 29, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Having Desmond as the starting shortstop without having Cristian Guzman lurking in the dugout would be a scary situtation.

But like Riggleman said, if he's not doing well by May, the team can still throw Guzman out there return to some normalcy.

Posted by: rushfari | March 29, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

sec222, if that is Guz attitude then that's great; if things pan out I could actually see Desmond at short with Guz getting the majority of the time at 2B by the time SS arrives.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | March 29, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse


Do we have any desire to return to what is normal in Washington baseball?

I'm so glad they are giving Desmond the job...he is an exciting young player who can potentially be our SS for the future.

Posted by: LoddieDoddie | March 29, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

The Ladson article is here

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 29, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Stephen Strasburg should be starting on opening day and be on the big league roster, I like Desmond and glad to see him get his chance to prove that he belongs in D.C. and he will. I'm not happy with the team sending Strasburg to the minors when he proved that he belongs with the Nationals and playing in the big leagues from day 1!

Posted by: Beltwayboy7 | March 29, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

hats4bats hit the nail on the head. Boz's logic is very flawed when it comes to his statistical break down of MLB SS's with more than 110 innings.

Kilgore points out "Boz has some wonderful data that pretty much only Boz would think to look up." Not so wonderful at all, fairly worthless data really. I hope the Nats are not buying Boz's brand of statistical voodoo.

Posted by: dfh21 | March 29, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Do what makes the team better; I love Guz but he's not what he once was and watching him whiff was brutal. I know he's had some injuries and a defensive upgrade is needed all around.

Posted by: kahlua87 | March 29, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

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