Nationals can compete and evaluate at the same time
The Nationals want to accomplish two aims in the final month of the season. One of those is the same goal every team has every day of the season -- they want to compete and win. The other is to evaluate their young players, both the ones like Roger Bernadina and Ian Desmond who have been here all year and Wilson Ramos and Danny Espinosa who just arrived.
Those two goals aren't necessarily at odds. Bernadina has been slightly above league average at the plate all season, and Desmond has been one of the best rookies in the league in the second. He is batting .342 with a .366 on-base percentage and a .475 slugging percentage since the all-star break.
General Manager Mike Rizzo cautioned against playing a "psuedo Triple AAA team" down the stretch. But if the Nationals replace, say, Adam Kennedy and Ivan Rodriguez with Espinosa and Ramos on a regular or semi-regular basis, will that really make a negative difference in a strictly competitive sense?
"I think everybody we put out there gives us the same chance to win the game," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "If we put young guys out there - Ramos, Espinosa, Bernadina - they're younger, but they're very talented. If you put some of the older players out there, they're more experienced. They've got more information to draw from on some of the pitchers they've faced. They know how they're going to get pitched. They may not have the same athleticism as a younger, livelier body, but they're still very productive players. I don't really think that when we put one group out there as opposed to the other right now that it gives us more or less of a chance to win."
September 5, 2010; 1:01 PM ET
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