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To start in right field, it's going to be Willie and Willy

The right-handed piece of the Nationals' platoon in right field will be Willy Taveras, according to Manager Jim Riggleman. Mike Morse will still have a place with the team, Riggleman said, but more often as a threat off of the bench and a player who can fill various spots on the field.

"I don't look at him in right now as the right-handed platoon in right field as much as I would Taveras," Riggleman said. "If we're not going to put a classic right field bat out there, we probably want to go with someone covering a little ground, speed. Mike does a good job, but Willy has a chance to be an exceptional defensive outfielder for us."

While a significant role for Taveras alongside Willie Harris would leave scant playing time in right for Roger Bernadina, Riggleman said he could still see a scenario in which Bernadina makes the team.

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 1, 2010; 12:01 PM ET
 
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Comments

The concept of Willy Taveras as a regular starting right fielder is difficult to fathom. There is a reason why he has only played 1 inning in right field for his entire major league career to date. Right field is not where you put speedy, no-hit players, especially when you've got the rest of the lineup that the Nats have.

Taveras has never put up an OPS+ for a single season that even approaches 100. Last season, his OPS+ was 48. In case anyone doesn't appreciate some of these new-fangled stats, how about this one: he had a .275 ON BASE PERCENTAGE last season.

Forget about all the hype he got earlier this Winter. Rizzo really blew this offseason. Right field is exhibit A. 100 losses for a third consecutive season is becoming more and more likely.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 1, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Have to agree with CIL.

For all the noise about Rizzo, the team looks very little changed from last year. Taveras is certainly no improvement over Dukes, and catcher is still a big question.

The rotation looks terrible (and mostly retreads from last year), and it isn't likely to be helped much by the defense, with Desmond likely to make a lot of E's and Dunn still learning how to play first.

Rizzo's one big signing -- Marquis -- looked really lousy for most of the spring. It is VERY hard to be optimistic, and equally hard to see how he or the Lerners have done much to improve the team.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 1, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

lifetime, Taveras hits .262/.309/.326 v. lefties.

in 2009, Taveras hit .219/.245/.257 v lefties in 113 PAs.

how bad is that?

in 234 career plate appearances, Livan Hernandez is .230/.236/.330 against lefties.

ugh.

Posted by: bottomfeeders10 | April 1, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

For anyone wondering why people were so upset about the Dukes move ... this is why.

You can't even risk the possibility that a "player" as awful as Taveras will play right field for a major league baseball team. If the Nats knew dumping Dukes was a possibility, they should have acted in the offseason to make sure it didn't come to this. If they didn't, then you have to ask what changed so radically that the Nats decided to dump Dukes out of nowhere in favor of a guy who gets on base at about the same clip as my dead grandfather.

Posted by: Fozzie1 | April 1, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Now, if we could just get Peña back we'd potentially have Willie, Willy, and Wily in the OF. Eh, maybe not. What ever happened to Wily Mo, anyway?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 1, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Of course I'm not present to view practices and have seen very few of their games this Spring, but my own feeling is that maybe we ought to have Bernadina in right. I like Willingham but I also think I might rather see the demoted Maxwell in left. Fielding, particularly outfielder range, is an underrated aspect of the game, but it wins as many games as pitching and hitting do.

Of course, it's quite possible that Willy Tavares will tear the cover off the ball this year, and he's certainly an adequate fielder and then some.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | April 1, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

HA HA HA! April Fool's, right?

I mean, this *HAS* to be an April Fool's joke! It just has to be!

Please?!

Pretty please?!

Posted by: erocks33 | April 1, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Even Taveres has to be surprised by this. I hope this experiment lasts one game.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | April 1, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

These are not MLB level corner outfielders.

Nonetheless, the Nats have a nice following of several dozens of fans who actually prefer seeing the Nats make a slow climb toward semi-respectability on a rock-bottom budget. The Willie and Willy combo should be pleasing to those fans.

I don't think we should blame Rizzo for going after these bargain basement players and the ancient, washed up or injured pitchers any more than we should blame JimBo for going after so-called "toolsy" ballplayers. Neither Rizzo or Bowden prefer these kinds of players over established MLB performers or players with true upside that you can get excited about. The players Nats' GMs go after are the only affordable options within their tiny little budgets.

Posted by: EdDC | April 1, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

This gives me the Willies.

Posted by: EdDC | April 1, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

No - it can't be possible that they have chosen the worst offensive outfielder in the NL as a regular part of the rotation. So much for giving this brain trust the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they can work a trade with KC of Desmond for Yuniesky Betancourt so we can have the worst infielder as a matched set. We can then be sure there won't be a lot of guys clogging the bases in front of Zim and Dunn.

Posted by: utec | April 1, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Gah..I'd rather have Dunn in OF with Morse at first. Taveras is a bum at a premium hitting spot. Unbelievable they'd throw him there.

Posted by: hoo93 | April 1, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Posted by: Offense-offensive | April 1, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Over 15 MLB seasons combined, the two Willies have hit a combined 35 homers. That's a nice corner outfielder total for one season. But 15?

Posted by: EdDC | April 1, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills. Taveras was arguably the worst offensive player in baseball last year. This cannot be true. Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Posted by: Offense-offensive | April 1, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they meant Wile E. Coyote.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 1, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Did I say 60-something wins?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 1, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

This cannot be right - Taveras, the no-pop, one-tool, non-roster invitee? AAK!

Posted by: BinM | April 1, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Everyone stop Freaking out. This position is still up for grabs, Riggs just went with these too to start off the platoon....who the hell knows who will be Playing right by seasons end.

I disagree with CIL, our rotation is improved from last year...and potentially will get sweet reinforcments by june.in the name of strasburg and wang...so it could be marquis, lannan, strasburg, and wang by the middle of June...which is MUCH MUCH improved from last year. Stammen and Livan could also prove to be decent as well.

I think 70 wins.

Posted by: Cartaldo | April 1, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I am absolutely convinced this is an April Fool's joke. Maxwell and Bernadina can also not hit a lick but field well.

Posted by: GoNatsTerps | April 1, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Really, this should not be surprising at all. What do you expect from owners that are in the bottom 5 in payroll every year?

I see the Nats picking first again next year. This team is no better than last year and will be lucky if they don't lose 100 again.

The Lerner's make me sick.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 1, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

All the comments are agreement that this is not a great tandem. So is this a stop-gap possibly to see what the RF platoon looks like then look to trade a spare starter for a rightfielder once Strasburg is called up?

Dukes is head and shoulders above this RF that Riggleman is talking about. I hear Dukes is still unemployed, can Rizzo get him back here?

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 1, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

While a significant role for Taveras alongside Willie Harris would leave scant playing time in right for Roger Bernadina, Riggleman said he could still see a scenario in which Bernadina makes the team.

By Adam Kilgore
----------------------------------

Final roster spots are a few days away. All spots are commited except 1 which was supposed to be for Bruntlett or Alberto Gonzalez so if neither of them make it then Bernadina would have a spot or if they don't bring the 5th pitcher up until the 11th then Bernadina could have a spot for a few days.

Those are the only scenarios I can think of for Bernadina if Taveras and Morse both have made the team as this says.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 1, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

How to fix the stupid lineup.

1) Morgan

2) Desmond

3) Zimmerman

4) Dunn

5) Willingham

6) Rodriguez

7) Whoever plays 2nd

8) Whoever plays right

9) Pitcher


We need to get rid of the "whoevers" and get solid dudes.

I'm tired of hearing excuses for mediocre players. Putting someone in the outfield for their defense alone is saying you date an ugly girl for "personality."

"Utility man" is synonymous with over-achiever that belongs on the bench or, more appropriately, the minors.

Posted by: jboogie1 | April 1, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse


With Corner outfielders a dime a dozen, we can do better than these clowns

The solution, Rizzo: trade Guzman for a legit RF. Not sure who would pay him $8M, though. Maybe LAD?

Posted by: jboogie1 | April 1, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

...our rotation is improved from last year...and potentially will get sweet reinforcments by june.in the name of strasburg and wang...so it could be marquis, lannan, strasburg, and wang by the middle of June...which is MUCH MUCH improved from last year. Stammen and Livan could also prove to be decent as well. I think 70 wins. Posted by: Cartaldo | April 1, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Cartaldo: Please provide an example of a worse starting 5 in MLB going into this season on April 5. If you can't do that, I'll settle for a worse starting five in MLB history.

Posted by: EdDC | April 1, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

jboogie, nobody will pay guzman $8m except the nats. if they trade guz, the nats will eat the vast majority of that salary. people need to stop thinking that his salary is the impediment to a trade. it's his right to refuse an trade based on his 5/10 rights that's an impediment. that and the fact that he doesn't exactly have a lot of trade value.

EDinDC, to be fair to harris, 20 of his 27 HRs came in the last 2 seasons and last 680 ABs.

all of that said, the fact that taveras could get a platoon role in *any* OF position, let alone RF, is a joke and rizzo and the FO/ownership should be ridiculously embarrassed by this turn of events (if it's not an april fool's joke). at best taveras is a defensive replacement 5th OF. for him to share a role in RF means the team was woefully unprepared.

Posted by: sec231 | April 1, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Not much of a line-up if Tavares or Harris are starting. Pudge may get off to a good start but it's not realistic to expect good offensive seasons from:

Tavares/Harris
whoever is at catcher
Desmond (average at best for rookie)
Kennedy (probably can't repeat last year)
Zimmerman - good
Dunn - good
Willingham good
Morgan almost good (if he have oba of 350)

how good can bench be? Only Guzman and maybe Morse are acceptable.

I don't understand why team has so many holes at this stage. They must have thought in offseason that Dukes was iffy for 2010 so why no contingency plan?

Posted by: Pensfans | April 1, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

The Nats don't need a second leadoff hitter in the lineup with Morgan already in there--they need some RBI potential in the bottom of the lineup.

Riggleman is making some dubious choices in right--but hey, at least its not Austin Kearns...I guess....

We better run alot this year, and if our defense still sucks, well, Rizzo/Kasten can go shoot themselves, then, after emphasizing that all offseason.

Posted by: CJArlington | April 1, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

EDinDC, to be fair to Harris, 20 of his 27 HRs came in the last 2 seasons and last 680 ABs.Posted by: sec231 | April 1, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

To be fair, it is 20 HR over 690 ABs for 2008 and 2009 combined. Willie's batting average was about the same as his career average over those two seasons at about .246. A corner OF hitting .246 should hit LOTS of HR and drive in lots of runs (Willie had 70 RBI over the two seasons combined--not bad, but for a corner OF?) His OPS over the two seasons was .760. You would like to see it into the .900s for a corner OF.

Please name a less productive corner OF--I'll give you LF and RF-- over these two seasons, assuming roughly the same number of ABs. Can you find one, to be fair? Maybe you can--the Nats can't be dead last in everything. In some categories, we are much better than dead last (like: near the bottom).

Posted by: EdDC | April 1, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

@EDDC

1. I mean making a statement that this is the worst in MLB history is a poor one..because where were you last year? OUtside of Zimm, This rotation is already better then the one going into last years..

2. Starting at April 5th- off the top of my head, the Pirates and Blue Jays are two teams who's rotation is worse than ours.... And After Johan Santanna, I think the mets back 4 is worse than ours (pelfry, maine, perez, Niez = suck, suck, suck, suck)

4. And again by June Strasburg will be penciled in there as well..and who knows how wang will be, but if he bounces back to his old form...we actually have a pretty damn solid front 4.

Also Detwiler will be returning from injury as well..so again, I dont see how this is the worst rotation in history...I mean the went agressively after garland, even after they signed marquis, but he really really wanted play on the Padres...yes I would have like Randy Wolf or someone like that as well, but the owners are cheap, it ain Rizzo's fault.

Posted by: Cartaldo | April 1, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Cartaldo,

Thanks, you make a good case that this starting 5 might not be the worst rotation in MLB history, especially if Marquis can pick up from where he left off at mid-season 2009.

Over the long history of MLB, I'm sure there are some worse starting 5s (I was exaggerating), but those staffs are so forgettable that I just forget who they are. The Tigers had a bad one a few years ago, but some of those kids got good!

I'm not convinced the Nats have improved over the starting 5 going into last April--but it is possible!

Posted by: EdDC | April 1, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

@EdDC

Ya, at the start of April 5th.. the Nats are only the 3rd worst rotation in the Major League Baseball this year.

But it has the potential to be much improved (or not) by mid june.

Posted by: Cartaldo | April 1, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

EdDC, i wasn't saying that harris is a quality corner OF, just pointing out that when you say "35 career HRs between the two of them," it's a little harsh on harris who's actually come into a little power the last two years. it's not as if his 27 HRs were 4 a year for 7 years in full-time action (which is how it comes across).

if harris hit 18 HRs in a full season (and i'm not saying he would, playing every day can and does expose a guy), right now a lot of us would be pretty happy with that.

alla that said, wee-willie harris is not who i want starting in any OF slot. i want him as the 4th OF/emergency IF backup. he's a great utility guy, not such a great starting option in the OF.

Posted by: sec231 | April 1, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

sec231

Agreed!

Cartaldo,

OK, maybe the Nats have only the third worst rotation going into opening day, but they will have to get some production from their truly marginal starters (the #3, 4, and 5 guys) to actually beat out the Pirates and Jays when they start to play the games. It is possible they will do it--anything can happen. Hope you are right, as I'm tried of having the very worst team all the time. I'm sure you are too.

I too dream of only being the 3rd worst. We are not far apart.

I love the idea of SS coming up in June. I would like to see SS join with Rick Porcello (whom the Nats regarded more highly in the draft than Detwiler, but couldn't afford), Aaron Crow (whom the Nats drafted but couldn't afford) and Aroldis Chapman (whom the Nats couldn't afford). But SS all by himself makes the Nats better.

I join you in hoping Wang can get somewhere fairly close to his old pre-injured self. If so, the Nats will have found a very affordable bargain!

Posted by: EdDC | April 1, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Not much of a line-up if Tavares or Harris are starting. Pudge may get off to a good start but it's not realistic to expect good offensive seasons from:

Tavares/Harris
whoever is at catcher
Desmond (average at best for rookie)
Kennedy (probably can't repeat last year)
Zimmerman - good
Dunn - good
Willingham good
Morgan almost good (if he have oba of 350)

how good can bench be? Only Guzman and maybe Morse are acceptable.

I don't understand why team has so many holes at this stage. They must have thought in offseason that Dukes was iffy for 2010 so why no contingency plan?

Posted by: Pensfans | April 1, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

You've got to be kidding with lineup!?!?

Obviously RF is not gonna leadoff...its more like:

Morgan CF
Guzman/Kennedy 2b
Zimmerman 3b
Dunn 1b
Willingham LF
Harris/Tavaures/Bernadina RF
Desmond SS
Rodriguez C
P

Definitely not that bad of a lineup. Matter of fact, we didnt have a bad offense at all last year, but i can see why you're mad. You're a weak pittsburg fairweather fan who is trying to make comments about a team/players you know nothing about. Hey hows Milledge and Hanrahan working out for you?

Posted by: willfacc10 | April 1, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

And I was thinking Bernadina and Morse would be the platooned RFs. Once again, the Nats management team has shown me I don't know a thing.

Some of you guys must be in rotisserie leagues. Why is it that Willie Taveras was never on anybody's fantasy team even when he was playing 150 games a year? Extremely low OBP, especially for a guy with 8 career HRs.

Posted by: gibson0 | April 1, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

The news out of Florida just keeps getting worse. And they're coming back here very soon. A seemingly crappola bullpen, again; a mess in right field; Guzman playing everywhere to give him some time. This is a joke, not a damn Major League team.

Posted by: samantha7 | April 2, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

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