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Posted at 6:33 PM ET, 12/15/2010

How Jayson Werth affects Bryce Harper

By Adam Kilgore

The Nationals' biggest free agent acquisition ever happens to play the same position as their best position player prospect, which, Mike Rizzo said, "is a problem I would be glad to address in the very near future."

The Nationals have a year, maybe two, until they figure out how to divvy time in right field between Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper. The solution will likely include both players also seeing time in center field.

Manager Jim Riggleman said Nyjer Morgan would be his center fielder if the Nationals played tomorrow. But he also floated the idea of Werth playing center against left-handed starting pitchers, with Morgan on the bench.

Meanwhile, Rizzo said Harper will begin taking some of his fly balls in center field. Harper has the athleticism to do pretty much whatever he wants on a baseball field, and the Nationals would be comfortable with him playing some center field in his first professional season.

It may seem like a problem, but having Werth and Harper seems like it will be a good problem to have, and one that won't be all that difficult to solve.

By Adam Kilgore  | December 15, 2010; 6:33 PM ET
 
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Comments

If that's the biggest problem for the Nats, I'd say they're in pretty good shape. Of course, there also starting pitching, . . .

Posted by: JohnRDC | December 15, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

@JohnRDC: That's exactly the kind of problem any team wants, at multiple positions. Load up, and let talent win out.

The Harper vs. Werth question shouldn't be an immediate issue, but for 2012 & beyond, it's a valid question. They're both good athletes, with each currently capable of playing any OF position. Werth (based on age only) may lose the speed/range to play CF effectively after a year or two. Based on body type & speed, Harper may profile as a corner OF sooner than later. If that does happen, would many of the fanbase complain about an OF of Werth/???/Harper for 2012-2016?

Posted by: BinM | December 15, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

My 'ideal' OF for that period would be Werth / Desmond / Harper. Range + arms + power at all three positions, and a RH/RH/LH combo to spread around the lineup; Beautiful.

Posted by: BinM | December 15, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

A problem isn't having Harper and Werth. A problem is having Tavares and Mench.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | December 15, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps I'm in the minority of NJ bloggers, but I think Desmond will turn out to be an above average shortstop. His errors are coachable (i.e., he makes bad decisions sometimes, but his range, hands, and footwork are all very good).

So my outfield for 2012 and beyond would more likely be Werth, Harper, and either Burgess or Norris (or free agent). If Ramos and Flores can hold down catcher, Norris might be convertable to left field.

I suppose it is more likely Norris is traded for a pitcher, but if he stays in the organization, he will need to move to the outfield or first base.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 15, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I am of the opinion that if you are in the organization and you can hit then the powers at be can find a spot for you.

And natsbiscuits, I agree. I look at Desmond and I see an above average shortstop for years to come. Maybe my opinion will change if he doesn't mature this year but still way too early to give up on him.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | December 15, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

@ natbiscuits. Agree on Desmond. A good number of his errors were the result of pushing too hard to make the DP, and it seemed to me that he was already making progress with that mistake by the end of the season. New SS typically see the errors significantly decline in year 2, and I expect that with Desmond. If they do not, then the team can consider another position.

Posted by: NatsFly | December 15, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

From mlbtraderumors:

The Nationals signed outfielder Jonathan Van Every, according to Eddy (via Twitter). The 31-year-old boasts a career .471 slugging percentage in Triple-A and can play all three outfield positions. Van Every played in 39 games for Boston's varsity squad across the last three years.

Washington picked up another versatile, left-handed hitting outfielder in Buck Coats, Eddy tweets. Coats, who spent the first seven years of his career with the Cubs, has a lifetime slash line of .294/.352/.407 at the Triple-A level.

Posted by: derwink | December 15, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Agree with others about leaving Desmond at short. Pretty sure the errors will be reduced, although with his range he will still get to some balls that others will not and end up with errors on a certain amount of tough plays. That leaves centerfield. I am wondering how long a leash they will give Morgan and what the backup plan is. I am guessing Bernadina. Sure would like to see us sign LaRoche in the next few days.

Go Nats

Posted by: sjm3091 | December 15, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Unless I've missed something, the Nats have traded Dunn for Werth so far--Period. Less Home runs, less RBI, better defense. A wash.
Unless I'm mistaken Washington hasn't improved it's starting pitching rotation one iota.
While the Lerners and Rizzo are so giddy slapping each other on the back, Washington under DoubleSwitch Riggleman with the same ole pitchers--and Livan as ace, will lose 100+ games again.
Teams don't win titles with power hitting Right Fielders. Anyone know who even played right for the SF Giants?
It's pitching pitching pitching-- Something our current management doesn't seem to understand.
And as for Werth, well he'll look up to Philly, cry and scream... why didn't you get Lee before I left. I never woulda gone.
Too late sucka.
Welcome to Pittsburgh Pirates South where management gets rich by fielding lousy product.
Settle in and enjoy.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | December 15, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Skins_fan_22 - If the Nats get LaRoche at 1st base then it is win/win.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | December 15, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

I like the idea of Harper in CF--his bat is much more valuable there than in RF (and while not as valuable as it would have been at C, it won't put nearly the wear and tear on him that catching would have).

And I agree about Desmond being a quality SS, but I'd still trade him for Greinke. Keeping with the positional-value thing, it's kind of a waste to have both him and Espinosa--whoever ends up at second would be more valuable to a team without an SS than he would be to us.

Posted by: jaycane40oz | December 16, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Bernadina LF Werth CF Morse RF against lefties sounds good in 2011. Bernadina LF Harper CF Werth RF against everyone 2012 sounds great also.

Posted by: destewar | December 16, 2010 2:01 AM | Report abuse

From catcher to centerfield seems like the weirdest move in baseball. Among the many amazing things about Craig Biggio is that he successfully played catcher, 2d base and centerfield. If Harper can make the move he must be a terrific athlete all around.

Posted by: markfromark | December 16, 2010 6:39 AM | Report abuse

I love the idea of moving Werth to CF and sitting Morgan against lefties. Morgan's splits are quite dramatic. He is a much better hitter, and his stolen base percentage is much better against right handed pitching. If he bounces back to his career norms he could easily hit near .300 and steal 30 bases just playing against RHP. That would make him a valuable part of the team instead of a potential cancer. This seems like a no-brainer. Just do it!

Posted by: autobits | December 16, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I think Desmond can and will hit well, but he is not a SS. The guy has not been able to make the plays at any level since the dawn of time. It is a loonnnngggg shot that some coach is going to unlock his defensive magic when he's pushing 27. I am not sure that there is such a thing as a Short Stop Whisperer. The sooner the club figures out where he can actually play (as BinM suggests, CF maybe?), the better. I'd trade him in a NY minute if the club could get Grienke -- an Ace being the biggest need by a country mile.

Where Harper plays is a non-issue; he'll glove decently enough wherever he plays, it is his killer bat that matters.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 16, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

The more power hitting outfielders who can play good defense the better. I know Rizzo and Riggleman have said the Nyjer is their CF but have they said if he is likely to bat leadoff or not, yet?

Posted by: markfd | December 16, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Nats going hard after LaRoche and Lee--I'd rather they get Lee on a one year deal and further assess the first base situation. Lee is amenable to one year and imagine the corner defense if we sign him.
I'd still like to see Norris considered as the Nat's future first base man.
Lee is also a better hitter than LaRoche--last year he was injured which explained the poor numbers. Understand they want a left hander but think Lee would still hit right handed pitchers better.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | December 16, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Do you people know anything about baseball here?? Werth is a Centerfielder. He can play all three positions but CF would be his. Forget Morgan - he stinks!!! Horrible OBP and as he proved- a bad guy. Werth can run, throw and catch. He hits for average and power to all fields. He can do it all. Can Morgan??? As far as Harper goes (BTW I still think they're nuts for not keeping him at catcher - don't buy that learning bull and that he'll come up to the bigs faster crap). he's in Right!!!

Move on and get Laroche, Garza and Grant Balfour.

Posted by: Dog-1 | December 16, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I say bring up Harper and let him play centerfield.
The Monster and the Beast! Watch NL East!

Posted by: dorseylaw | December 16, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"The Nationals have a year, maybe two" -Adam Kilgore

This goes against every word written on this subject previously by Post writers. Every one of you has maintained from the beginning that the earliest we will possibly see Harper is 2013...now you are saying we have just a year? Way to overdramatize things Adam and try to create a story that doesn't exist. Sheesh

Posted by: Barno1 | December 16, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

If harper can make it to the show out of spring traning; I would love to see Bernadina, Harper, and Werth. With that much speed no area of the outfield is un-coverable. Bernadina in his first year showed a lot of moxie and I think he has a high ceiling. Plus you have three outfielders who could play all three spots.

Posted by: hansenjo | December 16, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

To me Bernadina, Harper, and Worth is the best fit. All three can play all three outfield positions. Bernadina showed a lot of moxie last season,his rookie season, I feel he has a high ceiling.

Posted by: hansenjo | December 16, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I've never heard anyone ever mention Harper playing center field as a consideration until now. He didnt even start playing right field on a regular basis until after he was drafted, although he did receive some spot duty at that position but catcher was still his primary position. I never gheard his speed was that impressive. Is he really capable of playing center field well at all? By the way, is this team even considering how to develop a lead off hitter? Unless the 30 year old nut we has last year is considered the long term solution- he did have one nice season I guess, though he was crap last year. Hoping they add a starter and LaRoche yet because as of right now, unless the young guys improve then they're roster is actually worse than last year's now that Willingham is gone.

Posted by: ParticipatoryDemocracyNow | December 16, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

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