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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."

By Adam Kilgore  |  September 5, 2010; 1:01 PM ET
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This is the SAME crapola as last September where they "were committed" to the Bums that got them there all them where? ....last fxxxxxx place in NL East...... Bench any and all of those Bums for anyone that has a chance to make the major league roster next al....

Posted by: FletcherChristian1 | September 5, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman needs to be coaching a pee wee league team. He seems committed to giving everyone playing time and 'keeping everyone sharp'. Who cares ?

What stupidity. If the goal of the team is to WIN in the playoffs and go to the world series, then there is NO rational short of injury for playing Haris, Kennendy, or even Pudge for the rest of the season. They have NO place on a playoff winning team in 2012. Let's face it, even if these guys gave you a better chance to win (which is fantasy) last place is still last place.

OF course if the Nats goal is to keep all the players happy with playing time (and that includes ones that are too old or too mediocre to be on playoff team then Rigss actions are consistent with that goal.

How tragic. It must reflect tyhe whole management team and with that kind of thinking we will never be an elite team.

Posted by: xxxxx2 | September 5, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I think most Managers feel a commitment to the guys that have been there all year when September comes around over the call ups even though playoff chances are long gone. As a fan though we want to see the young guys, players that give us all some hope for the future. The most excited I have been as a Nats fan the last couple of months has been watching Espinosa the last two games. I must say I was really bummed when I looked at the starting lineup today and saw that he was not in it.It was the major reason I did not watch the game today. I guess it's not the Managers job to keep the fans happy, but at the end of the day we do pay everyone's salary.We need to find out if this kid can be the answer next year and no better way then letting him start the rest of the way. Even though I want to see Pudge as the starting catcher next year I feel it is best for both their sakes that Ramos be the starter at least 4 games a week the rest of the season. Why put the added starts on Pudge when Ramos needs the time now. We can still be a very competitive club while keeping the fans and the future in mind.

Posted by: prknguy | September 5, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

There is a reason why seasoned pros are called veterans because they have experience and can be ready in a moment's notice. There is no reason to continue to play veterans like Kennedy, Rodriguez or even Dunn 4 times a week down the stretch. I would prefer to see young talents like Espinoza, Ramos and Morse get more opportunities and see if they are indeed the National's future. Dunn is a great one trick pony, but Morse can play multiple positions and can hit with power too.

Posted by: JohnWWW | September 5, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Morgan, Kennedy, and some of the other vets won't be back next season in any event.

No harm in playing the younger guys and getting them ready for 2011.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | September 6, 2010 1:49 AM | Report abuse

Kennedy, Nieves, and Harris don't belong here.

Replacing them with prospects is the next step towards contention. These guys couldn't play for a wild-card contender, let alone a pennant contender.

Morgan will return next year, by the way. Hopefully he will keep plowing through catchers. It seems the best way for him to get on base is to provoke pitchers to hit him intentionally. As a bonus, it gets the opposing pitcher ejected early in the game.

Posted by: jboogie1 | September 6, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

If the Nats want to compete, they need pitching/pitching/pitching

The current SP and RP is average AT BEST and will get us nowhere until we upgrade across the board

Posted by: Bious | September 7, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

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