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Outfield changes coming?

Aug 18, 2010, 2:23 PM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
A knee injury may prematurely end Josh Willingham's season.

The Nationals' lineup, while hardly the most-fearsome unit in the majors, has had one notable thing working for it most of this season: a potent heart that features three guys who possess the rare combination of a high on-base percentage with power.

Plenty of teams — contending ones — would happily take a 3-4-5 of Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham. Each of those three had a legitimate case for All-Star consideration back in July, and though none of them was selected, few would have argued had any of them made the roster.

So the latest development with regard to Willingham's ailing left knee — Adam Kilgore of the Post reported yesterday the 31-year-old is likely going to have season-ending surgery next week to repair meniscus damage — certainly doesn't bode well for the remainder of 2010 in NatsTown.

If Willingham's knee has regressed to the point he's hurting the team — and his .225 batting average, .326 slugging percentage and lack of speed on the bases and in the field since the All-Star break certainly suggest he is — surgery right now is the right call. Get it taken care of. Give him as much time as possible to recover and rehab in advance of 2011.

But Willingham's absence from the Nationals' lineup will be noticeable. All of a sudden, that potent 3-4-5 is down to only Zimmerman and Dunn, both of whom have benefited from the protection the "Hammer" offers behind them. Without Willingham, who bats fifthRead more »

  1. A DC Wonk - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Nyjer's been inconsistent in CF — some eye-popping stupendous plays, and some real bone-headed ones. I'd try him at LF. Bernadina's been very impressive every time I see him (my last time to the Park, last Tuesday (during Strasburg's blow up) he made yet another diving catch in CF), and so I'd try Morgan, Bernadina, and Morse as LF, CF, RF; and perhaps do some rotating of Mench and Maxwell in the mix from time to time (particularly RF).

  2. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    There's an obvious answer here you haven't considered. Left: BryceCenter: BryceRight: Bryce

  3. Pauloyd - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    I have to admit, even though obviously the season was already a lost cause W-L record wise, I am very depressed about Willingham's season ending. I really want the Nats to make a noticeable improvement in record over the last 2 years and this hurts.For now, bat Morse or Mench 5th. Stop this Dunn batting 3rd nonsense as well. Zimm's numbers are more important anyway. If Dunn's numbers go down, so do his cost.And we have to quit shifting Bernadina around, play him wherever you want him next year.

  4. Pete - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    Morse bats fifth.

  5. meixler - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    If Zimmerman bats 3rd and Dunn 4th then you put Morse in the 5th spot. But when Dunn and Zimm get swtiched then you bat Bernadina in the 5th spot. Put Bernie in left and let Morse play right.I'm still not sure why Kevin Mench got the call up though. I'd like to see Leonard Davis get a chance.

  6. Anonymous8 - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    A great opportunity to see weak armed Nyjer in LF, Bernadina in CF and Morse in RF.Doubt we see it but clearly that is a great look at what I think next year is Willingham in LF, Bernadina in CF and FA in RF unless Morse shows he can be a permanent starter. My FA choice is Carl Crawford, because YES, I am a dreamer. In my dream, Nyjer is the Willie Harris backup of the future.My 5 hole batter is Michael Morse!

  7. David - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    I'd go one of two ways. Go all defense with Maxwell, Morgan and Bernadina and sacrifice some offense. The other option would be to put Morse in left and hope he breaks out of his slump.Those are the two obvious options to me.

  8. SpashCity - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    I'd go with Pudge batting fifth behind Dunn, unless Morse heats up again, in which case I'd put him in the 5-hole.The new outfield configuration is tricky. If the Nats think Bernadina is the CF of the future, and Morgan will eventually be dumped, then they have to put Berny in CF and Morgan in LF. I don't care about Tony Plush's ego. But if they Nats think Bernadina will eventually end up as a LF, then they should take advantage of this opportunity of not having Willingham to let Berny get as many reps as possibly in LF. But, Willie Harris will probably end up with the most extra playing time from the Hammer's bum knee.

  9. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    Anon8,Carl Crawford? The Yanks will throw stupid money at him; we won't be in that game.

  10. JayB - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    Morse will hit…he has hit and he will again now. Morse is the 5th Batter every day in RF against both RH and LH pitching.Roger does not have the bat now or ever for LF on a winning team. Roger plays in CF everyday against LH and RH pitching.LF…..holding pattern for 50 games until 2011 when Willingham is back. I would play Maxwell only because he could hit AAA pitching that will be used as some teams just play-out the string. Then he gets traded in a package deal this winter and you get something for nothing.

  11. Anonymous8 - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:55 PM

    Anon @ 10:48, I SAID I AM A DREAMER. He gets $16 to $18 million+ so let me dream…also through in a consistent Cliff Lee in my dream…

  12. JayB - Aug 18, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    Oh and Morgan…….He needs to be moved to the physically unable to perform list and work out whatever is wrong with his mind. Maybe he can get it back somehow but Rizzo has to be "tired of watching him play" and get picked off first and miss cut of men day after day.

  13. nattaboy - Aug 18, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    I differ:LF: Maxwell/Somebody from the minorsCF: Nyjer My Man Tony Plush MorganRF: Roger BernadinaNyjer was playing like The Nationals' Center Fielder and he deserves the chance to prove he can still do it. No doubt. I agree with 'stop shifting Bernadina around'. Hopefully we'll be looking for a big upgrade this winter, but he's been our best RF and still has things to prove. Could be trade bait even.On Morse – I admit I smiled a few times when I saw him in the lineup, but generally I trust Riggs and this time he got it right. Since Morse has been starting he has looked worse and worse – because he can't hit or lay off outside breaking balls. On a few strikeouts he just looked terrible. Kudos to Skip for knowing his player and not exposing his weaknesses to the league until he had to.In left we have an opportunity to take a look at future players. Maxwell is a good fit despite not being a LF since what he really needs to prove is that he can hit, plus that defensive outfield would be pretty sick. Move the fences back!As far as batting 5th goes, I'll throw Desmond's name out there. He has some pop and has been great with runners on this year. Also if he gets on in front of Pudge you can send him to avoid the twin killing. Plus with the above outfield you have more than enough speedsters for the 1/2 holes without Ian. Do it, Riggs! I picture Desmond really responding well to that role.

  14. Anonymous8 - Aug 18, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    JayB – You are thinking like Rizzo with his mancrush with JMax in LF. If JMax would hit for average, then he would be an everyday player which he was in AAA.Seriously, JMax is the typical kid I see in High School pulling their head off of the ball, swinging long, dropping their back shoulder and swinging for the fences and ending up with air most of the time. You can see the same thing with Michael Morse since he got in his slump.

  15. Sam - Aug 18, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    First off, protection does not exist. It's been studied and there is conclusive evidence that protection does not matter. If you really think about it, it's pretty dumb anyway. Essentially, protection theory states that the pitcher is afraid of pitching to the guy behind the current batter with runners on base. So, instead of trying to get him out with good pitchers, he just throws fastballs down the middle of the plate. Honestly, what a dumb theory.Secondly, and I'll probably get bashed for this, but I really think Maxwell should get some PAs. Everyone seems to think he has had so many chances, but he has had 202 plate appearances total. Everyone should get over themselves. 202 plate appearances over 3 years is not a lot. That's fact, and you cannot argue that. I would like to see Maxwell and Bernadina get a bunch of PAs with Morgan and Morse splitting time (not righty/lefty platoon, but near equal, 50/50). Obviously, this season is going nowhere. There's no point in denying Maxwell and Bernadina their at-bats. They should get as many as possible so that we can really decide whether or not they are plausible future options.Morse is pretty much a train wreck in right field anyway. I think he should get PAs at 1B to spell Dunn occasionally and some in left field (where fewer balls are hit than right field).

  16. markfd - Aug 18, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    Mark, this is a tough call but I think Morse needs to move up to the fifth spot. Also, I think this is what the OF should look like the rest of the way:LF – MaxwellCF – platoon of Morgan and BernadinaRF – MorsePH – MenchPR – HarrisThis alignment lets Rizzo and company take a hard look at Morse and Maxwell and see how they fit in the future plans, if at all.

  17. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    I Agree with some of what JayB says but not all: 1) I am not sure at all that Morse will hit – I would play him every single game this year so we have an idea once and for all. 2) I don't ascribe to the principal of necessary offensive skills by position; in other words you don't Have to have a power bat in LF if for example you have a power bat at 2nd base or SS; having said that I would love Bernadina in center for his defense and the fact that this removes Morgan from the lineup. 3)We will be playing Philly and Atlanta a lot until the end of the year as well as St.Louis so we will be facing some quality pitching in addition to the AAA bunch. I would play Bernadina, Maxwell and Morse every day; there is nothing more to learn about Mench, Harris or Morgan. I also think that it is important to try to get to 70 wins to show some tangible progress.

  18. Richard - Aug 18, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    Last year the Hammer's production fell off significantly in the 2nd 1/2 of the season. He's had back issues in the past. Now a knee. He'll be 32 next February. So, his age and track record argues against a long term contract with the Nats when his arbitration years are up in re 2012. I wonder if the Nats will even try very hard to bring him back in 2011. Really hoping for the best for Josh.

  19. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    Burgess just promoted again to Harrisburg.Boomer Whiting. Have to wonder if theywon't be up in September?Morse can hit and field Sam he has hadfewer true opportunities than toilet flopMaxwell.

  20. sjm105 - Aug 18, 2010 at 4:05 PM

    This has been a great read. Lots of intelligent discussion and very little bashing. I went back and forth agreeing with many different options and this is what they pay Riggs the "big bucks" for. If it were me I think I would go with a defensive look of Bernadina, Morgan and Maxwell. Not sure but I think Morgan played lf in Pittsburgh. If they are looking to see if Bernadina is the lf of the future I am ok with Morgan in center. I agree that this should be the time to once and for all give Maxwell a chance to hit his way on or off the team. We know he can field. Personally, I don't think he will hit major league pitching but at least give him a chance. Morse can backup Dunn and give each outfielder a day off when needed. I also like very much moving Desmond to 5th in the order. Its kinda outside the box but I think he would respond.

  21. Jimmy - Aug 18, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    Washington needs to go with Morgan in LF (he played their for the Pirates) Maxwell in CF for the rest of the year to see if he can Hit Major League Pitching and Bernadina in RF. You have good speed and defense and also make them choke and them contact hitters. Have Morse PH and play some 1B. Mench is not in our future. Harris and Kennedy just spell the infielders. And, please kill Double-Swich of his moves and let the kids play. He destroying everyones developement. Finally get a new Manager in 2011, someone with a little fire. Double-switch can take his tinker toys and coach in Flordia.

  22. Knoxville Nat - Aug 18, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    Batting fifth….Michael Morse, he's the only guy with the power potential needed in that slot. I'm for leaving Desmond at # 2, he seems to thrive in that position.As for the OF alignment, I'd prefer to see us go with Bernadina in LF, Maxwell in CF and Morse in RF. We already know what Mensch and Harris can do and that isn't much. As for Nyjer, let him in to spell Morse with either Maxwell or Bernie moving to RF but otherwise I don't think he fits in with the Nats for the long term. Makes too many bonehead plays in the field for my tastes, base stealing, including being picked off base, is not up to major league standards, and he doesn't seem to be receptive to coaching in my opinion.

  23. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    LF: Try the bat boy. Or Livo on his days off. Please no Morse, Maxwell, or the rest.CF: Nyjer [One of three exciting players on the squad. The others -- RZ and AD.]RF: BernadinaIt's going to be a long rest of the season, IMHO.

  24. Todd Boss - Aug 18, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    I'll take exception to Sam's comment about batter protection being a "myth." I know there are some reports out there (Bill James) that claim it is a myth. But I counter instead that "baseball protection is so difficult to really measure that hard core statisticians end up discounting it."You can't just look at pure baseball outcomes, compare them to the quality of the following hitter, and make a judgement like this. You can't measure a pitcher being "careful" and you can't measure a hitter purposely trying to make something happen knowing that he's being pitched around.You also can't tell me, as baseball fans, that a #8 hitter hitting with two outs and with the pitcher to follow is going to get ANYTHING decent to hit. The opposing pitcher is always going to be willing to pitch carefully to the batter, force the batter to hit the pitcher's pitch, expand his own strike zone knowing that you have a 50% chance of a punchout (and usually about an 85-90% chance of an easy out in general) sitting in the ondeck circle.I have two supporting pieces of evidence right here on the nats. 1. Zimmerman hit for an OPS+ of 107 and 102 the two years prior to Dunn's arrival. Once Dunn is hitting in the 4 spot, Zimmerman's last two year's OPS+ are 133 and 150. In 2008 Zimmerman's cleanup hitter/protection was usually Austin Kearns or Lastings Milledge, not the 40-homer hitting Dunn.2. Look at Desmond's splits hitting in the #2 hole versus #8. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?n1=desmoia01&year=2010&t=b. Hitting #2 he's *significantly* better than hitting #8. Why? You think maybe its because he's got boppers behind him at #2 but a pitcher or a cold pinch hitter behind him at #8?my 2 cents, boss

  25. Avar - Aug 18, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    I have to go with Bernadina, Morgan and Maxwell in OF. I beat on Riggleman all year about Morse but now it looks like he was right. And in hindsight, I should have given more weight to the fact that Morse had been in the majors for parts of like 5 years. [Paraphrasing Marcellus Wallace] – if he was going to hit, he would have hit by now. Whoever pointed out that Maxwell has 200 PAs makes a good point but he shouldn't get a whole lot longer I think. Morgan has been Jeckel and Hyde and deserves more chances. Bernie has serious potential and must play every day. I think we all agree Harris and Mench are non factors for the future of this team.#5 hitter is depressing right now. I haven't looked in a week or more but whoever has had the best OPS the last 2-3 weeks. That might actually be Maxwell but I don't have time to check. Stupid job is a distraction from important baseball work!

  26. Nervous Nats Fan - Aug 18, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    Mark, any update on the "no show, no call" with Morgan last night in Harrisburg? Wasn't he supposed to make a rehab start.Also, the answer for #5 hitter is obvious… Wil Nieves!! You can't argue with how he did last night in that spot.

  27. natsfan1a - Aug 18, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    From Ladson's 8/18 item on the team site (headline relates to Willingham's injury):"According to Morgan, he has an early flight Wednesday morning and was granted permission by the team to miss his rehab assignment with Harrisburg and join the big club instead. Morgan has been on the disabled list because of a right hip flexor strain."

  28. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    Morse isn't hitting. There is no reason to believe that will change. In addition, he is a defensive liability. He has been most productive as a bat off the bench. Let him do what he does well.

  29. BQ - Aug 18, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    In Hammer's absence the lineup should look like this:LF – MorganSS – Desmond3B – Ryan1B – AdamRF – MorseC – Ivan / NievesCF – Bernadina2B – Kennedy / GonzalezPMorse with power, seems to be the logical choice for 5th spot. He might be struggling right now but I don't see any better candidates. Desmond is doing well at #2 spot so I don't think we should move him. And defense wise, Bernie seems to be a better CF than Morgan right now so I won't disturb him either. Let's try Morgan in LF with Morse as everyday RF. I am not much aware of minor league OF prospects. If we have anyone worth trying, now would be the time. And please do not use Harris as everyday LF. He hasn't done anything for a long time offensively.

  30. Feel Wood - Aug 18, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    "1. Assuming Willingham is out for the season, who should now bat fifth?"Definitely not Pudge. Pudge is now a GIDP machine, you don't want him coming up with someone on first. And if you have your high OBP guys (Zim, Dunn) up right before him, it's much more likely there will be a runner on first when he comes up.Actually the best place to bat Pudge would probably be 9th, after the pitcher hitting 8th, a LaRussa. That's probably the one place in the order where he'd be least likely to come up with a runner on first, since if the 6th or 7th hitter got on the pitcher would have sacrificed him to second. (Oh wait, that assumes the pitchers can bunt. Never mind.) Would Riggleman ever even try something like that, though? Hell no. He'll bat Pudge 5th "out of respect" and his GIDPs will kill countless rallies. Yet another reason Riggleman is not a good manager.

  31. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    Nervous Nat,The Nyjer Morgan thing was covered; he was given permission to leave the Senators so he can join the Nats.Nieves had his one big game at the plate for the year; I don't think that there are any more hits left in that bat.

  32. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    Feel Wood; good points about Pudge. I don't know why Ramos isn't up; he'd better be the man next year. I think that Rizzo is not ready to turn the team over to the prospects yet because he is afraid of another 100 loss season; the brass is very anxious to display a 10 game or so progress over last year. Riggleman is a very 'by the book' manager; he believes in the righty vs. lefty splits implicitly even when the data doesn't support it. He is not a terrible manager but he is definitely not an 'outside the box' thinker; that's for sure.

  33. Steve M. - Aug 18, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    I am with BQ, Anon8 and DCWonk. LF Morgan CF Bernadina RF Morse and I like BQ's lineup except Bernadina batting 6th.I also think Eckstein has to go. His job is to take MLB talent and fine tune them. How does Maxwell knock the cover off the ball in AAA and come to the Nats and lose all batting control. The same has happened to Morse to a lesser extent the last 2 weeks. Morse and Maxwell look like they are in a HR Derby contest. The one HR that Maxwell hit was like his Grand Slam last year. It was a popup that was hit 340 and just made it into the flower pots so both of those just made it out and a few feet from being caught. Eckstein is a hard worker but I am seeing players regress. The pitchers bunting of late has been horrible.

  34. jimmy - Aug 18, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    I say we just promote Michael Burgress and let him play the rest of the season for a cup of coffee in left field. Michael Moorse is too slow and he is best served as a pinch hitter. Kevin Mench is very slow but i like him already better than morse. Harris who knows what you will get with him. I love maxwell but he hitting ability has gotten worse over time. For the lineup if morgan is activated for tonight.1) Morgan2)Desmond3)Zimmerman4)Dunn5)Bernadina6)Kennedy7)Pudge8)Maxwell in right

  35. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 5:35 PM

    The Rockies just cut Brad Hawpe and the Red Sox cut Jeremy Hermida last week. Why not take a flyer on one of them? Maybe they will pull a reverse Austin Kearns and rejuvinate their careers here. Hermida is only 26!

  36. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 5:42 PM

    Todd Boss, Here is the problem with your argument; you claim that "baseball protection is so difficult to really measure that hard core statisticians end up discounting it" but then you take 2 isolated examples (your second example is especially weak as it is such a small sample) and make your case based on these. Wouldn't it make more sense to look at massive amounts of data and analyze it taking 'your feelings' completely out of the equation and then making an informed conclusion? There is such a thing as 'managing an inning'; as a pitching coach and/or pitcher you can decide (especially in game situations) who the people are who can really hurt you and issue intentional or unintentional walks. I don't know if that constitutes protection but generally speaking I think Sam is right and protection is way overblown.

  37. Big Cat - Aug 18, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    maxwell is back? He's got more lives than Felix the Cat. And more holes in his swing too. Saw Morgan in his 3 at bats in Potomac. Lefty pitcher from Myrtle Beach made him look like a high schooler. Had high hopes for Morse, but whats that saying about a zebra not changes his colors or something like that. Morse has been in the minors a loooong time and has been very average. What makes you think he is gonna come to the bigs and hit? Well, he seems to be settling back to normal now after a hot start. He does have legit power though

  38. Big Cat - Aug 18, 2010 at 6:04 PM

    I have also seen Burgess in Potomac for the last 3 years. kid has amazing power and seems to work hard. I noticed he lost weight this year. He has put up good numbers power wise. How he stays mentally into it after 3 years in the same league is something I don't know. Anyhow, he hit 2 bombs for Harrisburg last night in his first game there. Good luck Mike. I think you could hit in the bigs if you get the chance.

  39. N. Cognito - Aug 18, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    Draw names out of a hat. It's not as if our playoff hopes are on the line.

  40. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    Eckstein is the only coach I think we should keep. Just because Maxwell sucks does not mean you can overlook Dunn's improvements past two years here. Or Zimmerman's. Even Pudge, Morse, Bernadina, Desmond are all above expectations. Eckstein is a keeper. Riggleman/McCatty, not so much. -longterm

  41. nattaboy - Aug 18, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    More on Desmond, the more I think about it the more I like him in the 5 hole:-His OBP this year is .304, which is not that great for a table setter. In fact, among current position players on the team he ranks 8th.-Yes he's doing well batting 2nd – but that's compared to batting 8th. His success there has more to do with not being in front of the pitcher than it does with batting (specifically) 2nd.-He has 49 RBIs after hitting 8th most of the season. That's 17 more than Pudge or anybody else who hasn't been hitting 3-5. -His slugging is highest among all the 5th hole candidate except Bernadina and Morse. Bernadina bests him by 1 point and would make 2 lefties in a row. Morse as we've seen will see his numbers fall as he plays everyday. Check out his August numbers (when's he's started all 13 games he's played): .128/.163/.277So I think Desmond's good hitter in the 2 hole but he could be even better in the 5 hole. And his potential there is certainly higher than any of the other options.

  42. Feel Wood - Aug 18, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    Ladson has already tweeted tonight's lineup, which once again has Pudge batting fifth. Let's keep track of how many runners that erases from the base paths, shall we?

  43. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 6:56 PM

    My outfield would be Morgan in LF, Bernadina in CF, and Morse in RF. Maxwell would be the primary outfielder I would use to give someone a dayoff. I would also consider using Maxwell or Harris as late inning defensive replacements for Morse & just realign the outfield (prob Maxwell in center & Harris in left). To me the much more difficult question is who hits 5th. I would probably start Bernadina off there. Maybe Morse. Desmond & Pudge are ok, occasionally there, but I wouldn't want to see either there regularly. Also, Desmond has been doing really well in the 2 spot, so I would want to leave him there until he cooled off before experimenting with him as the #5.

  44. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 6:58 PM

    Because of the GIDP factor, I'm against Pudge batting 5th. For me the obvious answer is Bernadina against righties, Morse against lefties. I like Desmond in the #2 spot with Morgan leading off (yes, yes, I know – it's not great but we only have what's on this roster). Defensively the lineup would look like this:CF: MorganRF: BernadinaLF: Morse/Harris platoon, with Harris a defensive substitution option. Keep Maxwell as a pinch runner/defensive substitution that you can give occasional starts against tough lefties. Because RF is a more important defensive position, a lineup that puts the plus fielders there is important. I refuse to put Nyjer and his noodle arm in RF, even catchers would be going from first to third on the team then. JCC

  45. Kevin Rusch, Section406 - Aug 18, 2010 at 7:09 PM

    Anon 1:42:"Here is the problem with your argument; you claim that "baseball protection is so difficult to really measure that hard core statisticians end up discounting it" but then you take 2 isolated examples (your second example is especially weak as it is such a small sample) and make your case based on these.Wouldn't it make more sense to look at massive amounts of data and analyze it taking 'your feelings' completely out of the equation and then making an informed conclusion?"—-However, and as a numbers guy I overlook this all the time: the numbers are ONLY APPROXIMATIONS. These massive amounts of data are based on (kinda solid, but not rock-solid) assumptions. These things go like this:"I was wondering if protection exists. So I compared OBP and SLG for hitters hitting in front of other hitters with these OBP/SLG characteristics. Yet I didn't find any differences."Well, that's fine, but it doesn't _completely_ refute the notion. Interestingly, has anyone done a study of what happens to hitters in the NL in the #8 slot? I suspect it is a special case…-k

  46. Todd Boss - Aug 18, 2010 at 7:09 PM

    Actually, my opinion is based on an entire life playing and watching the game. And the fact that you can study pitch f/x data all you want to prove or disprove your theory.Here's one of the arguments against batter protection oft mentioned: baseball prospectus's Will Carrol's article called "the myth of protection." http://www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=1042In his article, he "proves" his theory by showing that the pitches Kemp gets before/after Manny was protecting him were the same.Isn't this just as bad as my citing two examples to support my opinion? When in fact i was using them as just that: examples to illustrate a point instead of "proof."I'd like to see a study of #8 hitters versus the same guys in another spot in the order. I'd like to see if there's a way to measure how much a guy expands his zone or how well you can measure pitchers purposely nibbling or purposely throwing more offspeed stuff knowing a weaker hitter is up next. These points are the essence of the argument pro/against baseball protection and I havn't seen them out there in SABR-land.

  47. rmoore446 - Aug 18, 2010 at 7:12 PM

    I have big doubts about Eckstein. Morse did great coming off the bench but he did that for stretches in Seattle before he met Eckstein. Now pitchers have his number and he desperately needs to adjust. A good hitting coach should be able to help him. But every night he flails and fails in the same fashion. I don't see much credit due to Eckstein for Dunn or Zimmerman.Still Morse is a player we need to see more in order to evaluate for the future. I would put him in right field with an occasional start at 1B to spell Dunn.As much as I cringe whenever JMax comes to bat, his defense is solid and we have to make a final decision on him after this year. I'd play him in Centerfield with Morgan spelling him and coming off the bench. I reached my tipping point with Morgan this year. You can correct many flaws with good coaching but a knucklehead is forever.If Roger is destined for LF put him there. If he is the CF of the future, put him there and JMax in LF.Batting 5th? Jeeze, I'm tempted with Desmond but he seems made for 2nd in the order. Because of his earlier achievements, I'd stick Morse there and hope he gets some help making adjustments. Frankly, Josh wasn't providing much there in the past few weeks.Come September callups, I'll be ready to see some new faces.

  48. Joe Seamhead - Aug 18, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    Davey Johnson for manager! He's already on the payroll.Jim Riggleman is, and always will be, a sub .500 manager. Still, he was a step up from Manny Atca.Morgan is a losing team's CF. Sad, but true.He has a ton of physical talent but his elevator doesn't go all the way up. Actually, his elevator gets stuck between floors way too often.Maxwell has played LF and CF since his AAU days. He's a good enough athlete that he can play RF, but it really isn't his position. And, yes, he is lifting his head and throwing out his shoulder at the plate. That's a bad combo to go along with his long, looping swing. I do think it's all correctable. He does play a very good, consistent CF. Roger Bernadina is the most consistent all around OF that we have right now. That, and 75 cents will get you a copy of the Washington Post. How would I play the hand with the cards dealt? RF is a crapshoot. LF Bernadina2B Gonzales 3B Zimmerman1B DunnSS DesmondRF MorseCF Maxwell Kennedy and Morgan platoon with Gonzales and Maxwell, respectfully.Willie Harris and Kevin would be gone, with Nieves soon behind them. Bring up the kids.

  49. Steve M. - Aug 18, 2010 at 7:25 PM

    Anon @ 2:11, I don't necessarily agree that Zimmerman hitting better is attributable to Eckstein as Zim had a great year as a Rookie in 2006 and his improvement last year could be his natural progression as a batter. I know Zim has given Eckstein credit which is a good reason Eckstein will keep his job but I don't see others progressing. Desmond tore it up last September. Dunn was a 40 HR guy with high OBP before he got to Washington. Bernadina worked his butt off rehabbing in Europe over the Winter without Eckstein.Morse is in a slump and looks lost and Maxwell shouldn't even be here which is a pathetic statement about OFs in this organization. Pudge has been in a 2 month slump and the pitchers can't bunt again.Here we have people seriously thinking Maxwell should be an everyday player. Sure, everyday as a 9th inning defensive replacement.

  50. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    This team won't get better unless there is a change in philosophy.You may want someone to do better and in the end they don't have it in them. Justin Maxwell is an elite athlete in general society but in Major League Baseball he is the worst in offensive production with over 100 at-bats this year and still on a 25 man roster.So many want to see what they believe Justin Maxwell is supposed to do. Since he was recalled his OBP has nosedived. He is at .301 now with a .107 batting average. Even pitchers hit Home Runs. This guy is the problem with the organization. Cut bait on this kid and bring up Boomer Whiting. Rizzo needs to show he can deal with the talent he currently has.Watching Maxwell at bat is cruel and unusual punishment. Can someone help this kid?

  51. Steve M. - Aug 18, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    Anon at 3:35, hate to tell you that JMax doesn't have 100 at-bats this year. Not sure if you are projecting his numbers.He is the worst of all outfielders over 50 at-bats which ranks him #202 in outfield batting average. Eric Byrnes of Seattle was worse and he got DFA'd after only 32 at-bats.

  52. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 18, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    What? Are you Boomer Whiting's Dad or something?The kid is barely AA material and you want him in the Bigs!! Get real! I'll take Burgess over Whiting any day!

  53. Doc - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:03 PM

    L-R: Bernadina, Morgan, Morse. Morse at 5th spot in batting order, Desmond at 2nd spot. Pudge at 6th, Bernadina at 7th, and good ol' Adam Kennedy at 8th.Not much else you can do!

  54. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    NatsJack, sure, bring up Pete Orr, Burgess, my son, or anyone else that can get this Maxwell obsession out of Washington. Steve M., thanks for the correction, yes 50 ABs from this season for any position player on a current 25 man roster. I was counting career ABs.

  55. Steve M. - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:07 PM

    Good news, Wilson Ramos is en route to Atlanta!

  56. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:15 PM

    Steve M. said… Good news, Wilson Ramos is en route to Atlanta! Hallelujah! The 2010 season is officially over.Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 2011.Mr. Nieves, the driver will now take you to the airport, sir.

  57. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    Please God dont let Maxwell be the choice to replace the hammer. The guy cant hit for bleep! I like his glove in the outfield but when you put a bat in his hands its painful to watch sometimes. LF – BernadinaCF – Morgan (give him one last shot)RF – Morse

  58. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    Players on the nats roster with a higher batting average than Justin Maxwell this yearLivan HernandezMiguel BatistaJason MarquisJD MartinWillie HarrisWilly TaverasWil NievesCraig Stammen(I could also throw in Clippard and Storen, but with only two at bats each that would be mean ;-)

  59. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    How many had tonights' outfield:Harris, Bernie & Morse?

  60. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:36 PM

    With Hudson pitching, this may be the first game I've ever watched with absolutely no hope of winning. If Livan can pitch shutout innings forver, the best we can do is tie.

  61. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:38 PM

    Seriously, game on the line and you need a pinch hitter for a reliever and you only have one position player remaining on the bench and it is Justin Maxwell.Do you bring in Justin Maxwell or do you use Jason Marquis or Livan Hernandez or Craig Stammen?If you even after think about it, how can you trot out Justin Maxwell to play more.Also keep in mind, that the coddled life of Maxwell has been playing him in classic Lefty/Righty matchups so forget about it if there is a Right starting pitcher.Again, it is loser philosophy to even have this discussion. The facts are there:WORST BATTING AVERAGE FOR AN OUTFIELDER WITH OVER 50 AT-BATS THIS SEASON

  62. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:40 PM

    NatsJack, There's always hope; heck, Nieves got 3 hits yesterday so anything is possible.Also I read an interesting tidbit which says that Hudson (though he is excellent) is having a historically lucky year. The average against him for balls hit into play is .235; that's unheard of, the best ground ball pitchers are lucky to be at .270. You know what they say about luck; sooner or later you roll snake eyes.

  63. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:44 PM

    Anon at 4:38Yeah but 50 at bats is meaningless; you can look up any great hitter in history and I guarantee you that they have a 50 at bat stretch or 3 in there where they hit as bad or worse than Maxwell.I wander what Dunn's last 50 at bats look like?Just sayin,

  64. CapPeterson - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:46 PM

    Fun reading all the comments…I could see Maxwell surfacing years from now as a serviceable 4th or 5th MLB outfielder, just like Darnell McDonald, the former O's phenom, has done. But what he needs next year is a full season in AAA, without the yoyo-ing back and forth to the bigs, either in our organization or somebody else's. I think hitting against good MLB pitching now is only destroying his confidence. On a good team, which we hope to have someday, Bernie's best chance to start would be in CF. Let's let him play there the rest of the year against all pitching. Since the 2nd and 3rd best OFers we have now are Nyjer and Morse, let them play most of the time in LF and RF, respectively. Nyjer has played LF in Pittsburgh before & the move would be a good reality check for him. Season well with a few dashes of Mench, Harris, and Maxwell (the latter against minor league callups).

  65. Steve M. - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:47 PM

    Anonymous said… How many had tonights' outfield:Harris, Bernie & Morse? August 18, 2010 4:27 PM —————————-That was easy. Riggleman wouldn't bat Maxwell against the tough Hudson.

  66. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:50 PM

    Anon: at 4:44, the 50 at-bats is a comparison point. There are guys with 30 to 60 that have been DFA'd already that have higher batting averages.You have to make the most with every at-bat and he isn't doing it. Remember, this was the guy that Rizzo picked as his Opening Day starter.

  67. Steve M. - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:57 PM

    Anon @ 4:44 Dunn at least is batting .222 in the month of August, so what's your point?

  68. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:59 PM

    Just for the record; I am not saying that Maxwell is or is going to be a good major league hitter; I,m just saying that despite all the 'expert' analysis on this board no one here really knows that he won't.

  69. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 9:02 PM

    I agree that 50 at bats alone may not be enough at bats to make a judgement, but what about 171 at bats and a .205 career average. Not only that but he has never really done anything in the minor leagues either. He had one good year in low A Hagerstown in 2007 when he hit .301 in 56 games. Since then his minor league resume has looked like this…2007 Potomac .2632008 Harrisburg .2332009 Syracuse .242He will soon be 27 years old, and I wish him the best but its time to move past the Justin Maxwell experiment.

  70. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 9:02 PM

    Steve M. My point is that Dunn is much better than a .222 hitter and looking at a small sample doesn't do him justice; nor does it do justice when looking at anyone else's 50 at bat sample.

  71. Steve M. - Aug 18, 2010 at 9:14 PM

    Anon – Maxwell has had 74 plate appearances this year and again based on what he has done with mostly lefty matchups, he should have been DFA'd which is the typical fate for any player who just can't perform at this level.Until they make this a football field and create an offense and defense, I just don't see a place for guys like JMax and Wily Taveras who can't play both offense and defense.

  72. phil dunn - Aug 18, 2010 at 9:14 PM

    The season is over so this a great opportunity to play Bernardina and Morse every day to see what they can do. Forget Willie Harris, he's history after the season ends. Forget Mench, he's over the hill. Forget Maxell, he can't even hit at one half of the Mendoza line. (For those who don't know, the Mendoza line is .200.)

  73. Anonymous - Aug 19, 2010 at 12:28 AM

    Might be Marerro/Dunn at first in left … some combination after September 1st. Morse in right with JMax … Bernadina/Morgan in center.

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