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Looking at lineups

Jan 30, 2012, 12:00 PM EST

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Ian Desmond is likely to get first crack at leading off.

Since we're now inside of three weeks to the start of spring training — and since it doesn't appear there are any major roster shakeups still in store between now and then — it's time to start considering the Nationals' potential starting lineup.

Jim Riggleman, John McLaren and Davey Johnson tried out no shortage of combinations last season. Together, those three managers submitted 121 different lineups (excluding pitchers). And no single lineup was used more than six times. (The most common: Rick Ankiel, Danny Espinosa, Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, Laynce Nix, Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos, Pitcher).

Is there reason to believe Johnson will stick with one lineup a bit more often this season? As much as you'd like to think so, the odds don't look too strong.

The problem is that there remain a couple of major question marks when it comes to the Nationals' potential lineup: 1) Can Desmond
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147 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. NatsLady - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hotdiggitydog - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    Seems like Espi and his .323 OBP are a good fit for #2. That would allow Werth to go to #5 and LaRoche to #6.

  3. Neal - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Opening Day Roster (IMHO):1. Ian Desmond – SS2. Bryce Harper – RF3. Ryan Zimmerman – 3B4. Michael Morse – LF5. Jayson Werth – CF6. Adam LaRoche – 1B7. Danny Espinosa – 2B8. Wilson Ramos – C9. Stephen Strasburg – P

  4. The Great Unwashed - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    I think the best line up is the one where Werth hits sixth. Given his strikeout total last year, he should not be hitting second. His salary should not be the determiner of where he hits. I would also flip flop Ramos and Espinosa.

  5. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Desmond's odds of succeeding as a lead off guy are long, sad to say. So, I hope they've got some kind of plan B, becasue no one else on prjected 25 man roster passes the laugh test.I think that Davey may have LaRoche batting clean-up (he has a better track record than Morse and splitting RHB's in the middle of hte order is desirable), unless they are facing a tough lefty. And I think the CF platoon in the 2 hole looks like that might be the way they go for now at least, as having Werth's boatload of K's (and his 30 HR potential) there is something of a waste. Bernadina has good speed and might be OK if he only faces RHP and Cameron can take a BB. And when Harper comes, who knows where they will put him in the lineup. We'll see.dfh21

  6. Nats1924 - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    Attn NealJZimm should be the W's 2012 opening day starter

  7. FS - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    If Harper is part of the lineup, I put him in #2 spot and move Werth to #5, bumping AL and DE one spot down. That does put 3 righties back to back, but DE being switch hitter helps.If Harper is not part of the lineup, we might have to go with Mark's first lineup.If BJ (another righty) is part of the lineup, there will be only two lefties in the lineup.

  8. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    And Werth should be in the 6 hole behind Morse. He had some good success batting there with the Phils.dfh21

  9. ehay2k - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    I am not ready to believe Harper will be starting before June/July, even if he hits well in ST. He just needs more time in the field. When he does come up, I really don't see him batting 2nd. Why would you put a slugger that early in the lineup? Unless Livo is pitching, :-) BH in the 2nd spot will be coming up with a much lower chance of having a base runner to drive in. I think BH, when he comes up, bats no lower than 3rd. Werth, with his high OBP, is fine at number 2. Mark is right about stacking the LH bats. We just don't have the right hitters in the right slots. If we had a LH CF lead off hitter…But, as a STH from the RFK days, I can say that if at this point in the offseason, we are not wondering IF we have a starting 5, and bemoaning our lack of fielders(everywhere but 3rd), but instead we are talking batting order and LH/RH slots, and which member of the rotation will start in the bullpen or AAA, then we have made a LOT of progress! GYFNG!

  10. Drew - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Alas, the much better options are a year away:cf Bourn, Victorino, etc.2b Rendon3b Zimmerman1b MorseRf HarperLf Werthss EspinosaC RamosP StrasburgCan't wait until the Nats have high on-base-percentage guys in front of the big bats.I hope that when the Nats jettison LaRoche and Desmond they get starting pitching prospects in return.

  11. The Dude Abides - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    ehay2k…..good post. Some of these posts are hard to read, much less respond.

  12. Section 215 Row A - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    A common theme here is that young Master Harper is going to be a significant contributor to the offense once he arrives. I am afraid to suggest this in these heady days when all things are possible, but I suspect he will struggle mightly his first few months…and most likely the whole season. I suspect he will be up to stay by mid June but his numbers will not be very scintillating: .235/.290/.350ish? I have much higher expectations for him in 2013.

  13. pauloyd - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    There are problems anyway you slice it. So just for fun, I'd go with:DesmondWerthZimmermanHarperMorseLaRocheRamosEspinosa

  14. Eugene in Oregon - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    Unfortunately, given the lack of OBP in the potential lead-off and number two spots, batting Mr. Zimmerman third and Mr. Morse fourth means you'll have an awful lot of games in which Mr. Zimmerman comes to the plate with two outs and the bases empty in the first inning, followed by Mr. Morse leading off the second inning. Why waste the two hole on a 'traditional' number two hitter when you don't one? It would be somewhat unconventional, but — unless and until another potential number two hitter proves he can get on base consistently — I'd prefer to see Mr. Zimmerman hitting second and Mr. Morse third.

  15. lefty1950 - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    Since we are doing lineups just for fun:1) Desmond (SS)2) Espinosa (2B)3) Zimmerman (3B)4) Morse (LF)5) Werth (RF)6) LaRoche (1B)7) Ramos (C)8) Ankiel (CF)9) Pitcher

  16. pdowdy83 - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    What about signing Fukudome to play RF. He has a high OBP and is left handed. He could easily bat 2nd in the lineup for half a year or so. At this point he would be as cheap as Ankiel was for our team last year and could really provide some upside. Even in his worst season last year he provided a .342 OBP. Desmond – SSFukudome – RFZimmerman – 3BMorse – LFLaRoche – 1BWerth – CFEspinosa – 2BRamos – CThe other thing Fukudome would do is open up more popularity in Japan as well.

  17. sjm308 - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    C. BrownI. DesmondR. ZimmermanM. MorseA. LaRocheJ. WerthD. EspinosaW. RamosJ. ZimmermanWhen Harper comes up, he bats 5th moving Desmond into the #1 spot and Werth 2nd.

  18. sjm308 - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    pdowdy: I actually like that signing even over Ankiel, although signing both might make things even more competitive. I realize Fukudome was not well received in Chicago but your numbers have me thinking he could fill a need. If he rebounds and plays even better its a great story.Did not mention this in my last post but a players salary should have no bearing on where they hit. It was a poor contract, that has been hashed out many many time. Now Werth just needs to play and there is nothing any of us can do about his salary. It honestly would not surprise me in the last few years of his contract if Jason was our 4th outfielder as we win 3 or 4 World Series in a row.

  19. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Not on opening day, but when Harper comes up, this would be a good lineup with lefty/righty mix:1. Desmond 2. Espinosa3. Zimmerman4. Harper5. Morse6. Werth/Laroche7. Laroche/Werth8. Ramos9. PitcherIf you're the Nats, you'd probably have to put Werth at 6. And I hope Marrero passes Laroche soon. I call him La'out' because he hardly hit last year.

  20. meixler - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:17 PM


  21. Drew - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Anyone who thinks Harper will fully blossom this year at the major league level this year is being unreasonable. Here's a handy roadmap:Mantle at 20 — 96 games, 13 HR, 65 RBI, .267 avg.Mays at 20 — 121 games, 20 HR, 68 RBI, .274 avg.Aaron at 20 — 127 games, 13 HR, 69 RBI, .280 avg.Junior at 19 — 127 games, 16 HR, 61 RBI, .264 avg.Of course, we don't know how many games Harper will play this year.

  22. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Desmond and Espinosa at the top is a recipe for losing. Neither guy can reach base or make contact anywhere near enough to be successful. And if the top of the order is bad, the middle of the order will nto produce enough for the club to beat the Braves, Phils and Fish. Rizzo needs to make a roster adjustment before ST for this club to have a real chance. It's foolsih to think that the Nats have a winning club given the complete lack of table setters on the roster.

  23. Rabbit - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Does a lineup really matter? Will it fix the economy or contribute to society? NOPE. Just a bunch of grownups who never grew up, playing for a living, and surviving on lottery hits. Don't worry about it, as I keep trying to convince myself. But then I always get back to what…"looking at lineups"!

  24. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Drew — Harper is about the most seasoned 19-yr old player ever. Comparing him to guys from way different eras in a much different world is not really that dispositive. And why'd you cut out guys like Frank Robinson who did a bit better than those guys as a ten? Anyway, the kid has as much chance to go big early as any guy ever has.

  25. JaneB - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    There's no evidence to say that Harper will be on the team in April (it makes no sense to exchange one year of control of his contract for 8 weeks on the team this year) NOR that he'll be lights out when he gets here. It will be an adjustment.I am starting to hear the scout from ST last year, who said: "No offense is no offense." I guess we haven't improved the offense any this off-season. Hmmm…

  26. baseballswami - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    Here's my problem with the line-up/lead-off situation. They try someone at lead-off and then when it doesn't go perfectly right away they panic and start randomly changing it. It's a process and no one has been given a chance to really figure it out. Same thing with center field – no one gets enough time there to really master it. They will give someone a couple of weeks and then give up. Learning any new role just takes a while to get experience. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and wait. Of course, you have to see some sign that it can work – you can't just stick with it if there is no chance – but most of these roles have subtle things that are only learned by experience. Sometimes I think the managers need some Ritalin because they jump from new idea to new idea so fast.

  27. Just sayin' - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Now I'm depressed. I think this post (and the comments) really brought home to me just how much the Nats needed to add a "high OBP guy" or a "good CF/lead-off hitter" or a "run generator" or a "run creator" (different folks here have used different terms but they all mean something similar). Prince would have been it, but so would several other potential acquisitions (either free agents or by trade). I think it's great that we added Gio and Lidge to an already good pitching staff, but you need runs to win and I don't see a lot more runs being scored (compared to last year) no matter how you fill out the line-up card. Wish I could be more optimistic on that front, but I just don't see the Nats in the top half of NL offensive production — which is where you need to be if you're going to compete for a playoff spot.

  28. Jon - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:40 PM


  29. ChaimLavan - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    The lead off man should be Lombardozzi. He should get every cahnce to start. He had a very good OBP in triple A. He is a natural lead off hitter.

  30. Brian R. - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    There's a simple solution, but it's too eccentric for most people to accept: bat Werth leadoff.

  31. Sunderland - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Sec215 & Drew, agreeing with the notion that Harper will be unlikely to be a big contributor his first few months up.Switch hitting Espinosa would be ideal in the #2 spot *if* he could cut down on his strikeouts (about 1/4 of his plate appearances resulted in a K). This could have the effect of pushing his OBP up from 2011's .323 into the .340+ range.And since I am of the opinion that experimenting with Desmond at leadoff is futile, I would prefer to see Werth lead off until we get a real leadoff hitter. With just a little improvement over last year, he could be .350 OBP.So I'm looking at:1 – Werth2 – Espinosa3 – Zimmerman4 – Morse5 – LaRoche6 – Ramos7 – Bernadina8 – DesmondAnd little change when Harper arrives:1 – Werth2 – Espinosa3 – Zimmerman4 – Morse5 – LaRoche6 – Ramos7 – Harper8 – Desmond

  32. Bowdenball - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    Drew has an interesting point, unfortunately he chose stats poorly. For those who are curious:Mantle at 19: .267/.349/.443 in 96 gamesGriffey at 19: .264./329/.420 in 127 gamesA-Rod at 19: .232/.264/.408 in 48 gamesFor what it's worth, these three guys all played at a very high level in their 20 year old seasons.

  33. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Werth at lead-off is not likely to be successful either. I like Lombo for the role, but that means that Desmond or Espi is out of the lineup to make that happen. Not sure that is gonna happen as things shake out now.I had forgotten about DeRosa. He may get the nod for the bulk of AB's in RF until Harper comes up. If so, he may bat 2 fairly often.dfh21

  34. UNTERP - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    What I expect is a whole lot of one run games which can go either way. Sounds familiar?

  35. NatsLady - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    @Brian R: Actually, Werth was tried at lead-off last year, and it didn't work at all. So not "eccentric," but a serious idea. Just didn't fly.

  36. Steve M. - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    Brian, they tried Werth in the leadoff without great success. Werth mostly batted 5th and 6th in Philadelphia and that seems to be a good spot for him.There were so many different lineups in 2011 that if you go statistically with what worked, Desmond at the end of the season did an admirable job at leadoff slashing .302/.333/.434/.767 the last month of the season at leadoff. Bernadina over the entire season in the 2 hole batted .313 although it is a sample size of 15 games. Bernadina also batted .191 against LH pitching so he is a prime candidate for a platoon to further boost those numbers. Now Bernadina over his career in the 6 hole slashed .305/.380/.516/.895 for 31 games and #2 in his career .275/.299/.450/.749 also for 31 games.Zim clearly in the 3 hole. Then you have to consider Morse RH or LaRoche LH in the 4 and 5 hole. Werth career in the 6 hole (168 games) slashes .276 /.367/ .459 /.826 Espinosa in the 7 hole gives you the switch hitter and athleticism and Ramos really adjusted to the 8 hole.My biggest issue is while I believe Bernadina could handle the 2 hole 5 days a week I'm not comfortable at all with Mike Cameron as his platoon partner.I go with for better speed at the top of the lineup against RH starting pitching:Desmond RHBernadina LHZim RHLaRoche LHMorse RHWerth RHEspinosa SHRamos RH

  37. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Natslady, when Werth was batting lead off the Nats went on the ridiculous win streak which culminated in Rigglemans resignation…How can you say "it didn't work at all?"

  38. Binx Bolling - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Streaks are funny things in baseball. Last season, Jayson Werth did poorly at lead-off yet the team played .600 or so ball while he was leading-off. Two years ago, the Nats swooned almost as soon as Strasburg was called up. Yet Strasburg pitched well and was the chief highlight of the season.

  39. Bill C-H - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    Werth to #6 until he proves he deserves to be higher in the order.

  40. Unkyd - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Soooo…..bat Werth at lead off, on the assumption that, although he, personally may stink the joint up, his teammates will somehow, unaccountably, step their games up, and rake? Yeah. Let's do that…

  41. Steve M. - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    For those penciling Jayson Werth at leadoff, I think that was attempted and failed—miserably.Part of Werth's problems in 2011 was that he was trying to do too much. His 12 games at leadoff were .163/.281/.306/.587 and for anyone wanting to see Lombardozzi at leadoff better hope he makes the team. Lombo isn't even a lock to make the team.Unfortunately the choices at lead-off are very slim.

  42. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Mark DeRosa is going to play a lot, if healthy. He's a 20 HR guy who makes contact and gets on at a decent clip. It's not a bad bet that RF is his until Harper shows up.

  43. Just wonderin' - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Haven't the sabrmetric folks pretty much demonstrated that optimizing your line-up only gets you about five additional runs (that is, about half a win) per year? And that the optimized line-up that gets you that extra half a win is simply to put folks into the line-up according to their OBP?

  44. The Dude Abides - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Why are we on PCT again?

  45. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    They need to trade Desmond. If he's out of the picture it might go:LomboDeRosaZimLaRoche/MorseMorse/LaRocheWerthEspiRamosThe Nats likely score more and give up less runs with Espi at SS and Lombo at 2B. Desmond lacks Espi's upside nd quality glove and Lombo's relative youth and OBP skills. If Houston still has interest in Ian, I hope Rizzo's on the line with them right now.

  46. UNTERP - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    Don't know how many remember this, and if what some of you mentioned above that Werth led off during the win streak, Riggleman had the pitcher position bat 8Th. Lot of the success came with either Desmond or Bernadina batting 9th during the streak. Now that was eccentric…

  47. lesatcsc - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    All these lineups are spoiling my optimistic mood. They all point to the two glaring weaknesses that Rizzo was unable to resolve over the winter. Here's hoping that either Lombo or Brown (or both) emerges in ST and forces a change in the Nats thinking because none of these lineups looks capable of winning 85 games unless the pitching is lights out.

  48. Steve M. - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Anon @10:24 brings up DeRosa as a RH bat in the outfield. If Chris Marrero was healthy, the Nats could go with an all RH lineup against LH pitching.Lets say as you suggest DeRosa in RF, it may work although he has mostly been a LF.Against LH pitching, instead of Cameron you go with DeRosaDesmond RH SSWerth RH CFZim RH 3BMorse RH LFLaRoche LH 1BEspi SH 2BDeRosa RH RFRamos RH C

  49. Steve M. - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    lesatcsc said… All these lineups are spoiling my optimistic mood. They all point to the two glaring weaknesses that Rizzo was unable to resolve over the winter. Here's hoping that either Lombo or Brown (or both) emerges in ST and forces a change in the Nats thinking because none of these lineups looks capable of winning 85 games unless the pitching is lights out. January 30, 2012 10:32 AM The Nats won 80 games last year with a roster that looked worse than where the Nats are today so I disagree with you.The 1 and 2 holes while not perfect was working with Desmond at leadoff at the end of the season.I am actually cautiously optimistic.

  50. UNTERP - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    Steve M. said…All you can do is wait 'n see. They'll have Zimmerman healthy, Werth can't possibly be as bad, and hope Ramos continues to progress, Espi doesn't strike out as much, and that Desmond is at least average…

  51. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    why not put Laroche 2nd and bump Werth back to fifth? Laroche's OBP was above .340 from 2006-2009, and it breaks up the four-straight-righties problem, while pushing Werth back in the lineup, where he seems to feel more comfortable. I realize a .350 OBP isn't exactly ideal for #2 hitter, but it seems like an acceptable compromise until the Nats acquire a true leadoff hitter — and maybe beyond.

  52. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    I think the Lombardozzi family is commenting on here or else people have lost their minds. At best Lombardozzi would be a part-time player and not a chance Davey would entrust the leadoff to a player with 31 career at-bats. That's the equivalent of playing 6 to 7 games in the Majors.

  53. Section 222 - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    "It didn't work at all" because Werth was terrible last year pretty much anywhere in the lineup. Leadoff doesn't seem like a natural spot for him, but at least he takes a lot of pitches before he strikes out.A lot of the lineup issues can only be resolved after spring training when the answers to few key questions will hopefully be available:1. Has Desmond stopped chasing bad pitches and can he be expected to raise his OBP enough to justify another shot at leadoff? Remember, he was our leadoff hitter last Opening Day and was pretty awful for the first several weeks of the season. The only time he had any success as a hitter last year was in September. If he starts reasonably well in ST, he's probably our leadoff hitter this year, at least until he regresses to career norms.2. Does ALR show he's healthy enough to bat in the middle of the lineup? I hope that regardless of how well he does in ST he doesn't dispace Morse as the cleanup hitter. The obsession with alternating LF and RH bats shouldn't mean that our best hitter isn't batting 4th. And he's much better protection for Zim in the late innings against either RH or LH pitching than ALR.3. Do Cameron and Bernadina show enough to bat 2nd or are they going to end up 8th if they platoon as expected in CF?4. Where is the best spot for Espi? 2nd, or 6th? Do we take advantage of his speed and halfway decent OPB (everything is relative) and make him a table setter, or look for his power to drive in runs?5. And what about Ramos? Last year, he was one of our most consistent hitters (again, everything is relative), but he also had success in the No. 8 spot which seems to be bad place for people who can't lay off breaking pitches out of the zone (Desmond particularly). Unfortunately, as currently constituted, our starting eight includes six guys who should probably be hitting at best 6th in a good lineup — Werth, ALR, Ramos, Espi, Desmond, Bernadina/Cameron. But someone has to hit 1st, 2nd, and 5th.Thankfully we're only a month away from starting to get answers to some of these questions.

  54. Steve M. - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    Anon @ 10:44, LaRoche's worst career numbers were in the 2 hole and 9 hole. In 13 games batting 2nd he slashed .255/.283/.451/.734 For MLB players, it is all about a comfort zone. I don't think that will work.

  55. fibi - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    Lineup construction is one area where trying to squeeze out the last bit of efficiency at the expense of player relationships isn't a good idea. That's why I think Davey will put Zimmerman 3rd and will bat Werth 5th or 6th.That said, when you don't have a true 3-4-5 of high OBP, high power guys you are better off putting your best two hitters 4-5 rather than 3-4. As someone mentioned upthread, if Zimmerman and Morse are 3-4 there will be too many games where Zim bats with two out / nobody on in the first inning (and Morse then leads off the second).Given the team we have put together, I think our best lineup would look something like:1. Desmond2. Werth3. Espinosa4. Zimmerman5. Morse6. LaRoche7. Ramos8. Non-Werth CF/RF of the dayThis lineup spreads out your LH bats and maximizes the RBI opportunities for your RBI guys.

  56. Feel Wood - Jan 30, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Unfortunately, as currently constituted, our starting eight includes six guys who should probably be hitting at best 6th in a good lineupI always wondered what the "our rotation contains five guys who are at best number 4 pitchers on a decent team" crowd would complain about once Rizzo put together a good rotation. Now I know.

  57. Steve M. - Jan 30, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    fibi, I don't think I change Ramos from 8th. To have a player adapt to that spot, it probably isn't worth changing it. I don't like any line-up with Cameron in it. If he is filler until Bryce Harper is ready than so be it.Moving Espinosa up in the order didn't work last year. He had 56 games in the 1 & 2 spots in the lineup and batted a combined .183 w/ a combined .253 OBPMost of Espinosa's RH at-bats came in the 6 hole where he saw his most success slashing .272/.372/.485/.858 which is why I have him penciled in batting 6th against LH pitching.By the way, here is Espinosa's stats batting RH.283/.361/.496/.857

  58. sm13 - Jan 30, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    Fibi gets credit for creativity and for giving Danny more credit than most. With Zim behind him for protection we might see last year's first half turned into a full season with 30 homers and 80+ FBI.

  59. sm13 - Jan 30, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    Not FBI, RBI.

  60. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 30, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    sm13, while I think off the cuff Espinosa looks like the perfect guy battind 2nd, he didn't shine there with or without Zim. I think you have to earn moving up in the order. With that said, Werth is probably the guy who should take that spot although he struggled hitting to the right side. Bernadina being a LH batter and his speed can move batters from 2nd to 3rd by taking the ball to the right side.

  61. lesatcsc - Jan 30, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    I actually like Fibi's lineup the best of any presented here. It puts most of the team's speed at the top of the lineup as well.

  62. sm13 - Jan 30, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    Pay to play – I agree with you, which is why I like fibi's idea of moving Espi to the 3 spot. Werth may be the best option at the 2 spot. I just don't have faith in Roger.

  63. baseballswami - Jan 30, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    And since I am determined to look on the bright side today, since the counter is at 20 (!!!) and it's kind of feeling like spring is around the corner — there were a number of things that went against this team last year, but the overall outcome was pretty darn decent. Just because Werth didn't do well last year doesn't mean he can't do well this year. Just because Desi had to learn lead-off and it didn't always go well doesn't mean he can't do it this year – remember how he cleaned up his errors? There is a learning curve. Did anyone expect what Michael Morse ended up doing last year? Someone could get hurt, but someone could also break out. I can't wait to see what happens! As much as we try , it's not all that predictable. Look at the Cardinals in August, or the Phillies or Yankees. Baseball loves to try to predict everything, but part of the fun is that you just have to wait and see what happens.

  64. Steve M. - Jan 30, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    Another stat to keep in mind is Bernadina was 17 for 20 in steals last year. He had the best percentage of steals per AB of any player on the team.Ian Desmond had 25 of 35 steal attempts last year. With Ian 1st and Bernadina 2nd, it certainly gives the Nats a speed game at the top of the order.Also Werth had the best stolen base % stealing 19 in 22 attempts.

  65. Section 215 Row A - Jan 30, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    Following up on Drew and Bowdenball:Mantle at 19: .267/.349/.443 in 96 gamesGriffey at 19: .264./329/.420 in 127 gamesA-Rod at 19: .232/.264/.408 in 48 gamesA few more:Gary Sheffield at 19: .238/.295/.400 in 24 gamesAl Kaline at 19: .276/.305/.347 in 138 gamesRobin Yount at 19: .267/.307/.367 in 147 games

  66. Ray - Jan 30, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    What's the latest on Ankiel? I just don't understand why they don't bring him back, his defense is so good and his bat can be, at times, potent. MLB Network did their "Top Ten CF's" and had a stat ranking Ankiel as third best in the NL in taking away runs at the CF spot. Without an option better than Cameron, I don't see how you let that defense walk. I think at this point with no Ankiel, the best lineup has Werth in center and LaRosa in right.

  67. RPrecupjr - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    Ray, I completely agree with you, but the problem, as I understand it, is Ankiel wants to be THE centerfielder….not part-time, not defensive replacement. I'm not sure the Nats are willing to go that route at this point, but his arm does more than keep guys from scoring, it keeps them from going 1st to 3rd, and trying to stretch singles into doubles. Remember the insane play last season where Werth misplayed a ball in the gap, it hit off the wall, Ankiel fielded it on one hop, turned and threw out the batter at third with a laser to Zim? The look on the runner's face was priceless, he thought he had a triple all the way. No other outfielder makes that play. Makes you wonder why he can throw a strike from 300 feet but not from 60.And Swami, if you think it feels like Spring today, wait until tomorrow, when the counter is in the teens and the temperature is in the mid 60s!!

  68. The Fox - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    Mel Ott at 19:.322/.397/.524 in 124 games.When he first came up he was asked if he ever played the outfield? His reply was yea when I was a kid. He was 17 when he first came up. Mel Ott at 20: .328/.449/.639 in 150 games.he also hit 42 HR, 151 RBI, and led the league in BB with 113 with only 38 SO. They don't make baseball players like that anymore.

  69. N. Cognito - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    Ray said… "What's the latest on Ankiel? I just don't understand why they don't bring him back, his defense is so good and his bat can be, at times, potent." The "at times" part was way too infrequent. Remove your emotions and look at his career stats, especially the last 3 years. He's 32 and is only going to get worse.

  70. fibi - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Steve, I think batting order is a lot like closing vs setup. For some, a change in role disrupts their comfort zone. For others (think Jon Rauch), it hardly matters. The problem is there's a lot of noise in any splits, even 56 games worth. If Davey, with the benefit of daily interactions with Espinosa, believes he would be thrown out of his comfort zone if he was moved up in the order, then he has to stay in the 6 spot. If he thinks that Espinosa was just a young player who struggled at times as a rookie, and those struggles coincided with the times that he was batting 1st or 2nd, then go ahead and put him higher in the order.Of course, the biggest change I put out was batting Zimmerman cleanup. And the same issue is present there. If Davey thinks Zimmerman won't have any trouble adjusting, then I think you have to drop him in the order until you have a legitimate 3-4-5 (i.e., a Harper who is fully adjusted to mlb and acting all hitterish)…

  71. Feel Wood - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    What's the latest on Ankiel? I just don't understand why they don't bring him backHe's a Boras client. Boras is probably trying to get him a deal with some club that will guarantee him a bigger role than he'd have with the Nats. Keep in mind that Harper is also Boras's client, so out of all agents Boras is probably the one who has the best pulse on which OF spots are going to be available for how long with the Nats this season. If he can't get Ankiel a better opportunity somewhere else, he'll probably steer him back to the Nats. But he could easily string the process along right up to the start of ST.

  72. HHover - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    Werth as lead-off hitter is unlikely, but it's not a ridiculous idea, nor does last year's brief experiment with it provide real evidence one way or the other. He led-off, what, 12 games last season? That's way too small a sample size to draw any meaningful conclusions. For the season, his OPB was .330, or more than 30 pts higher than Desmond's. I don't think we'll ever again see the kind of #s out of Werth that he put up in Philly, but he should rebound some this year, wherever they put him in the line-up.

  73. Steve M. - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    Zim is currently training at the Saddlebrook fitness center in Tampa and says he feels great. That is an encouraging sign leading into Spring Training.With the reports of LaRoche swinging the bat and the hope of being in better shape than he was for the 2011 season, we should be optimistic.Comparing to last year, I think all parts of the team are better than last year except the bench.Starting lineup – BetterStarting rotation – BetterBullpen – BetterBench – WorseLast year the bench still wasn't great but had all purpose Jerry Hairston and Laynce Nix. This year with Bernadina currently looking like the starting CF, the bench star is Mark DeRosa with Jesus Flores and possibly Steve Lombardozzi. There is no power bat off of the bench still unless Rizzo goes into the Minors for a Tyler Moore. I am still thinking that Rizzo isn't done with the roster.

  74. John C. - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    In considering the leadoff/CF problem, given what is out there, I'd recommend that Rizzo at least contact the agent for Kosuke Fukudome to play RF instead. Yes, that means having Werth in CF full time – which you're already committed to doing once Harper comes up anyway. Fukudome can play CF, but he's a lot better in RF. Fukudome has experience hitting in the #1 and #2 lineup spots, hits from the left side and his career OBP is .362. Last year his OBP was .342, the worst of his career. For contrast, the best season that Bernadina, Desmond and Espinosa have managed in OBP is Espinosa's .323 last year. Desmond's OBP has been going the wrong way (.318 to .308 to .298). Bernadina's career best OBP was .307 and his average is .304.Batting order:(1) Fukudome (RF) (.362 career OBP)(2) Werth (CF) (.360 career OBP)(3) Zimmerman (3b) (.355 career OBP)(4) Morse (LF)(5) LaRoche (1b)(6) Espinosa (2b)(7) Desmond (SS)(8) Ramos (C)Ramos has proven effective in the #8 spot – don't underestimate that as a skill. Fukudome was unpopular in Chicago because he was merely an OK player getting paid like a good one (4 years/$48 million). If the Nationals can get him for one year for $2-3 million he'd be a good bargain. It also means less disruption whenever Harper is ready; Harper slides into LF while Morse goes to 1b. If Harper starts the season at the big league level then Fukudome is a more effective bench bat than Bernadina (or Ankiel for that matter). If LaRoche rakes, then that's your lineup. If LaRoche does OK, then you deal him, bringing Morse in to 1b and sliding Fukudome into the OF. It also lets DeRosa focus on his strength – as IF depth (673 games, mostly at 2b and 3b) rather than OF (233 games, mostly in RF). Don't want Werth in CF long term? Don't sign Fukudome long term. This would purely be a move to get through the 2012 season.

  75. Original Nats Fan - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    the Nats can't re-sign Ankiel until March. you can't re-sign your own free agents between January 1 and February 29 if you didn't do it before the end of last year. We just have to wait and see.

  76. Steve M. - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez, Kosuke Fukudome and Rick Ankiel are all remaining on the market. Fukodome will be 35 years old and finished his season with Cleveland slashed .249/.300/.371/.671. Doesn't hit for average, not great speed and career OBP vs. LH pitching is .328.Ankiel we know what he can do. Ibanez is more an AL guy if he doesn't retire. Damon is 38 years old and also looks like an AL guy and his line last year in Tampa was .261/.326/.418/.743

  77. Sunderland - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    I don't in any way undestand the notion of "we tried Werth at lead-off last year and it didn't work". As others noted, the teams won games with Werth at lead-off. Plus, the team had tried Desmond at lead-off prior to that and it didn't work then. So if it worked OK for Desmond some months later, what's the basis for saying it was tried with Werth and there's no sense trying again?

  78. jcj5y - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Fukudome is an interesting suggestion, but he's two years older than Ankiel and provides less positional flexibility. Still seems like Ankiel is the better choice. Ibanez and Damon are even less appealing than Fukudome. But someone of that ilk is very likely going to sign with the Nats before the offseason ends, if only so they don't have to have Bernadina on the roster.

  79. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    Fukudome might be had on a minor lerague deal, given what Pierre took from hte Phils.dfh21

  80. Tom in AR - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    It was so much easier to project good lineups with a theoretical left handed, high OBP slugger in the 4 hole. But not for what Detroit paid him!

  81. Sunderland - Jan 30, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    SteveM, I've got Chad Tracy penciled in on the bench. Think that's off base? He's got a little power. And yeah, I think Rizzo is still bench assembling.We started last year with Ramos, Cora, Hairston, Stairs and Nix. So far it looks like Flores, Cameron, DeRosa, Tracy and an outfielder TBD. Not much worse I'd say.

  82. fibi - Jan 30, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    I am hearing what I want to hear from Davey and Rizzo. That's the word "platoon." I've never understood why platoon became a dirty word over the last twenty years.Sure, I'd rather we had the long-term answer at every position. But by making a genuine commitment to a platoon in the outfield, you can cobble together decent production from flawed players. What I want to see with regards to Bernadina/Cameron/DeRosa1. We always start the game with the platoon advantage2. A quick resort to pinch hitting in order to maintain that advantageOne question I do have is whether Davey would consider moving Werth around the outfield. I know they are considering him as a possible everyday centerfielder. And, of course, he could still end up in rightfield at least until BH arrives. But, would they consider moving him back and forth if our best lineup against RHs includes Bernadina and our best lineup against LHs includes DeRosa? If either Werth, Davey, or Rizzo has been asked this, I've missed it…

  83. HHover - Jan 30, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    If the Nats are looking for a high OBP guy to lead off, Fukudome is a slam dunk over Ankiel–he's 40-50 pts higher in OBP, both last season and on his career. But Fukudome is clearly less flexible on defense, and more of a liability. And he'd probably cost more.

  84. John C. - Jan 30, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    Fukudome is two years older than Ankiel, but for a one year deal I really don't care about age as much as I might otherwise. I'm not sure how Ankiel offers more position flexibility – both guys can play anywhere in the OF. I don't see Ankiel as a better choice at all. He is a better defender in CF than Fukudome, but he's nowhere near the offensive contributor – and offense is where this team has more needs. Ankiel has a career OBP of .309, and was at .296 last season. That's terrible. And Steve M., you're concerned about Fukudome's career .328 OBP against LHP? When that's 19 points higher than Ankiel's overall career OBP, and 46 points higher than Ankiel's OBP against LHP (.282)?And don't cherry pick stats. If you want to talk about Cleveland last year, I could point out that in Chicago last year (in 28 more games and 87 more AB) Fukudome put up a .273/.374/.369 split. I would take that in a heartbeat at the #1 or #2 spot in the lineup!

  85. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    Bowden and Rizzo have had seven long years to fix the lead-off problem and they have failed miserably.

  86. John C. - Jan 30, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    HHoover, I'm not sure how Fukudome is less flexible than Ankiel defensively, unless it's because Ankiel has played more LF (which is largely a function of Werth having RF occupied). Fukudome is a better than average RF, and a slightly worse than average CF. Prior to last year Ankiel's defensive stats were mixed, although he was great in CF last year.Cost? Ankiel may cost $2 million to resign, and Fukudome may cost $5 million. Given that it would be a one year commitment, and given how low the payroll is going to be this year, I don't believe that cost is/should be the deciding factor here.

  87. Tcostant - Jan 30, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    Looks like we’ll have the extra wild card team in each league, this year. So 90 wins could get you to the post season. While this isn’t official, if you know anything about how Selig does business, you know he doesn’t float stuff like this unless it mostly a done deal. the Ankiel comments, I truly believe he’ll be back. The issue is what the Dodgers gave Rivera (, as Ankiel thinks he is a similar player and deserves similar compensation. Once reality sets in, he will re-sign with the Nationals for around $1.5M

  88. Neal - Jan 30, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    Some added fuel to the fire. Cleveland needs a bat and a first baseman while Pittsburgh needs a first baseman. Tampa needs a catcher and a short stop. Washington needs a center fielder. Any thoughts?

  89. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    Desmond Sucks.

  90. Theophilus - Jan 30, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    Espinosa should be batting second behind Desmond. Yeah, he strikes out a lot. Hopefully less this year. But he can also bunt, will have a lot of extra base hits, and is fast. "Speed kills." Zimmerman will get a lot of ABs w/ a runner on second.LaRoche should bat cleanup, based on his no. of career high RBI seasons. Then, against RHs, the lineup is R/L/R/L. Takes the pressure off Morse, who I want concentrating on duplicating last season, not trying to jack one out of the part four times a game. Werth resets the lineup in 6th with relatively high OBP. Seventh is whoever is in CF until Harper arrives. Then Harper bats 7th. No pressure on him there, at all. He's not going to be a big power guy right away. Eighth is Ramos. Conventional Wisdom is that you need a better hitter in the 8-spot to make sure the pitcher gets up and you at least roll over to the leadoff hitter in the next inning.

  91. Binx Bolling - Jan 30, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    Just wishing- Desmond and Flores to Tampa for Ben Zobrist.

  92. HHover - Jan 30, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    John CI think we largely agree. I said Fukudome is less flexible because, while he can play CF, the fact is that he's done it only 13 games in the last 2 years. I think that offers less flexibility to a team that already has one corner OF they're thinking about shoving into CF.As for the $$$–I suspect the difference bwn $2M and $5M looks bigger when you have to open your own wallet to pay it.

  93. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    Who is Edwin Jackson?

  94. Marty - Jan 30, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    Well, playing the just wishing game.Send Laroche and Detwiler/Lannan to Cleveland for Ezequiel Carrera and a prospect.

  95. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    Why does Cleveland take that deal? Who wants to pay $14-15M for LaRoche and Lannan and lose a talent like Carrera in a trade?

  96. Marty - Jan 30, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    @Anon 2:18 – You aren't very good at the just wishing game…Cleveland could use a LHP and a first baseman. It's not like Ezequiel Carrera is some established sure-thing.

  97. Bowdenball - Jan 30, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    I don't much care about batting order because ultimately it just doesn't matter that much, but I don't understand why Werth can't lead off. He sees a ton of pitches. He gets on base. He has semi-decent speed on the basepaths. What's the problem exactly? His poor performance in last year's cameo at leadoff? Way too small a sample size? Too big a star to be a leadoff guy? If he puts up a stink, point to last year's numbers and tell him he's lucky to be seeing first inning ABs at all after that.

  98. Avar - Jan 30, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    For the record JayB is right, Harper can be expected to NOT contribute this year.A grand total of 58 guys have played more than 40 games in a season at age 19. Almost all of them stunk. Mel Ott and Jimmie Fox were the best, that was 1928 and 1927. They had OPS of 921 and 908.Some great players on the list; Young, ARod, Pudge, J Upton, Beltre. All of them had OPS of <700.The last guy to have a respectable season at 19 was Renteira in '96 w/ OPS of 757.Trout was rated above Harper by BA and his slash line last year was 220/281/390. That's about what I expect from Harper this year. 2013 is another story. 20 year olds fare much better.

  99. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    Happened to be going by the ballpark early this afternoon.1) The former Florida Rock site, which was cleared a while ago, now has gravelon the dirt surface. Could be for erosion control but perhaps the owners plan to cash in on parking for ballgames.2) Box office windows at the CF gate are closed.3) Team store still empty. I heard the store would be run by a 3rd party this year…Majestic, maybe…I heard but I forgot.

  100. fibi - Jan 30, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    Avar, you have a good point about what we can expect from Harper. But that just means we should trade the 19 year old Harper, LaRoche, and Cutter Dyskstra to the future for a 21 year old Harper. Do you think we can get the future to throw in a few prospects also?

  101. Avar - Jan 30, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    fibi – Great idea! The future throwing in prospects makes my head hurt.

  102. RPrecupjr - Jan 30, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Just read this tidbit from a WaPo chat (Richard Justice) last week about the 20th anniversary of the Redskins' last Super Bowl win:Q.Title in DCWhich of the four professional DC teams (Redskins, Nats, Wizards, and Caps) do you see as the most likely to end our championship drought first? – January 26, 2012 12:25 PMA.Richard Justice :The Nationals are pretty good. They're the closest.– January 26, 2012 12:30 PMFrom his lips to the baseball gods' ears

  103. Theophilus - Jan 30, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    Agree, essentially, that the batting order shouldn't matter that much. Among the starters, not including Harper, six should hit between 20-35 HR. That oughta produce a lot of runs.

  104. Sunderland - Jan 30, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    I'm a big fan of the future, and I don't think the future even considers a trade like that. Plus, seriously if the future throws in prospects, you can pretty much count on them being arrested, injured or in rehab. The future knows these things!

  105. gonatsgo - Jan 30, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    My opinion is that Rizzo has decided to wait until next year's free agency class to plug that particular CF gap. Once you sign them you are stuck with them for a long time so you better get the one you want to live with. Contracts these days are longer than a lot of marriages. Exception — if we are contending mid-season, Harper is injured, not up, not doing well and someone becomes available – Rizzo will bite.

  106. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus - Jan 30, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.

  107. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    Wow – that was deep.

  108. fibi - Jan 30, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    Sunderland, great point! This is why crowdsourcing is so valuable. We wouldn't want to get into the middle of another mess like the Gary Majewski "Injured or Not Here You Go" saga.

  109. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 9:41 PM

    Next year it will be theoretically easier for Rizzo to get a guy we very much need right now, so let's wait it out until then to get someone? That's loser talk. Be prepared to be the NL's version of the Kansas City Chiefs, an at their best perpetual comer, with that kind of attitude. Next year is always their year.

  110. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 9:58 PM

    This would be a more imposing lineup.2B Stephen Lombardozzi [S] CF BJ Upton [R] 3b Ryan Zimmerman [R] 1B Michael Morse [R]SS Danny Espinosa [S] RF Jayson Werth [R] LF Bryce Harper [L] C Wilson Ramos [R] … and it may still happen

  111. NatsLady - Jan 30, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    If I recall, Espi preferred to bat lower in the order so he could drive in runs. If RBI's are what tickles his fancy, then I would say go ahead and bat him in the 7 spot–as was pointed out above, if a player has preferences, or if he has an "idea" of where he belongs in the order, probably best to go with that unless the player is struggling or you expect a drastic improvement with a different order.

  112. David - Jan 30, 2012 at 10:19 PM

    I want to see this lineup.Lombardozzi – 2bEspinosa – SSZimmerman – 3bLaRoche – 1bWerth – RFMorse – LFRamos – CBrown/Bernadina/Cameron – CFPitcher

  113. David - Jan 30, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    or Lombardozzi – 2bBrown/Bernadina/Cameron – CFZimmerman – 3bLaRoche – 1bWerth – RFMorse – LFEspinosa – SSRamos – CPitcher

  114. Just wonderin' - Jan 30, 2012 at 10:29 PM

    What is the fascination with putting low OBP hitters early in the line-up, then moving your better hitters lower down the order? Some folks seem to be dropping Morse down to 5th or even 6th. He was our best (some might say only) hitter last year. Shouldn't we be trying to get him more at bats? Not fewer? And unless/until Espinosa can prove that he can get on base regularly, why try to make him a lead-off or number two hitter?

  115. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    What is the fascination with putting low OBP hitters early in the line-up, then moving your better hitters lower down the order?The two most improved hitters were Morse and Ramos. Morse was far-and-away the best hitter on the Nats and one of the best in the NL. Ramos continued to improve dramatically as the year progressed. Neither are speed guys.The speed guys did okay. But the Nats do need a left-handed bat at the top of the lineup and that bat belongs to Lombardozzi. Espinosa was a better hitter further down in the lineup. Desmond did improve but he doesn't have the skills Lombardozzi has demonstrated. That should become very clear in Spring Training.

  116. Gonat - Jan 30, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    This Lombardozzi stuff only happens if he earns his way. This isn't 2007 any more where Jim Bowden would pencil in a guy with no MLB experience and throw it out there.

  117. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:28 PM

    So, Lombo has to earn it — not right to give a guy a role before he's proven he can do it, but to hand a guy a role when he's proven he cannot do it, when he has really not earned it, is ok? The club is locked in to Desmond at SS and lead off right now, despite his 1,000 PA's and his lousy glove work for his entire professional career that say throwing him out there is a losing proposition. We have a pretty good idea that Espi can play a better SS, and we have a pretty good idea that Lombo can find first base much more often than Desmond. Why is the mostly woeful performing Ian Demsond's name pre-Sharpie'd on the Opening Day lineup card? And why is it some terrible idea to give Lombo the nod?

  118. JaneB - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    Espi was better if there was a guy on base when he was at the plate. I think Lombo is a cutie pie, but I don't know in what Big League universe he is better than Desi and/or Espi.

  119. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    That's about what I expect from Harper this year. 2013 is another story. 20 year olds fare much better. I think another outfielder had a .439 OBP a 1.02 OPS more than 100 runs and 145 RBI at age 20. One can well imagine the damage Ted Williams might have done in the majors at age 19. Remember, Davey Johnson is a different animal from Riggleman. Johnson loves acting as the finishing school for top prospects. Since Fielder fell through there isn't really any reason other than financial to keep Harper from finishing his training in the majors at this point. AS long as he is far enough a long … if Harper plays well enough to start the year in AAA then he plays well enough to start the year in the outfield for the major league club. This is still a rebuilding year and if Johnson wants to train prospects in the majors (such as Harper and Lombardozzi) I don't seen any problem? The Nats aren't going to be challenging anyone this year. Its still all about the prospects.

  120. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    but I don't know in what Big League universe he is better than Desi and/or Espi.He doesn't try to hit for power and knows how to take a walk. His fielding isn't stellar but he's good enough to play multiple positions in the infield. He is fast enough to steal a base or two. He knows how to bunt. In other words he can do some things neither Desmond or Espinosa can do and unlike Desmond he is a switch hitter.

  121. Anonymous - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:59 PM

    Desmond hacks like Adam Dunn and hits like . . . well, Adam Dunn. And Desmond fields something closer to Adam Dunn than anyone wants to admit. In 2010 they trotted out some UZR jazz to explain how Ian's terrible play was not soooo terrible, but in 2011 even UZR hated Ian. He may be the worst starting SS in the game. He makes clutch outs and cluth errors like nobody.They keep thinking that the approaching year is the year he hits like he did for 2 months of 2009, not the before or after AB's, and all the while he'll tighten up the glove as he gains experience, though he's not really doing that either. CUT BAIT!! Do it now while some other club thinks he may have some value.

  122. Anonymous - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    Desmond was also responsible for the famine in southern Sudan.Lombardozzi, on the other hand, rescued baby animals after Katrina.

  123. Anonymous - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:22 AM

    Weather patterns are not in Desmond's control. No famine is his doing. But, there's no doubt in my mind that there would be peace in the Middle East if Desmond could hit a slider.

  124. Gonat - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:25 AM

    Anonymous said… So, Lombo has to earn it — not right to give a guy a role before he's proven he can do it, but to hand a guy a role when he's proven he cannot do it, when he has really not earned it, is ok? The club is locked in to Desmond at SS and lead off right now, despite his 1,000 PA's and his lousy glove work for his entire professional career that say throwing him out there is a losing proposition. We have a pretty good idea that Espi can play a better SS, and we have a pretty good idea that Lombo can find first base much more often than Desmond. Why is the mostly woeful performing Ian Demsond's name pre-Sharpie'd on the Opening Day lineup card? And why is it some terrible idea to give Lombo the nod? January 30, 2012 6:28 PM _____________________________Its not to fair to Lombo (or the team) to put the stress on him Day 1 in front of sold out crowds to lead off. He had a rough September if you didn't watch those games and I don't think anyone except a few Anon's here + a couple more thinks he is ready.If Lombo is the 2nd baseman leadoff man of the future he will prove it when he gets his opportunities.Desmond became the leadoff by default and the #'s were decent in September. Now if he can't do his job in April then this could be a long season and you may just see Lombo.

  125. Anonymous - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:28 AM

    Peace in the Middle East will only be achieved if Davey can convince Rizzo to put Harper on the 25-man roster immediately after Spring Training. If Harper doesn't start the season on the big club, then prepare for that rapture thing.

  126. N. Cognito - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:28 AM

    Just wonderin' said… "What is the fascination with putting low OBP hitters early in the line-up, then moving your better hitters lower down the order?"First, you want your power hitters batting in the 3-4-5 holes so that if someone ahead of them is on base, they will be able to drive in runs.Low OBP hitters bat in the 1 and 2 holes for a couple reasons. 1) A holdover from the past when batting average was the revered stat and OBP was barely considered. Many managers liked to put slap hitters in the top two spots in the order. 2) Sometimes,when keeping your power hitters in the 3-4-5 slots, the team has no high OBP guys to put in the 1-2 holes (Nats, 2011) so crappy OBP guys end up there.Just ran into Lombardozzi. He just single-handidly rescued 30 aninals from the local animal shelter. Just before the fire, Desmond was seen leaving the animal shelter with a gas can and matches.

  127. Anonymous - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:33 AM

    If Desmond intended to torch an animal shelter, he'd at best fumble the gas can and miss when he threw the match, and at worst, for his intended destructive goal, would end up building an addition to the place. The man's intentions never match-up well with the results. He's trying to hit the ball, and he's trying to field it . . .

  128. Anonymous - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:37 AM

    Torching the animal shelter using GASOLINE? Christ, not only is Desmond a puppy-killer, he's also contributing to global warming AND the energy crisis! Plus, I heard the gasoline he used wasn't even domestic…he's funding terrorism!

  129. Anonymous - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:42 AM

    Ok, this thread has jumped the shark in a big way.

  130. Anonymous - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:45 AM

    I guess the Red Sox should dump Carl Crawford. He wasn't good last year. He had a .289 OBP last year.The Red Sox should put Nate Spears in the lineup in his place because Carl will start the season on the DL.(just joking of course about Nate Spears) The talk about starting the year with Lombardozi at leadoff is just rediculous.

  131. N. Cognito - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    Maybe someone else started the fire and Desmond was rescuing the gas can and matches.

  132. Whatsanattau - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:47 AM

    What's wrong with you people?

  133. natsfan1a - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    Days until pitchers and catchers report20

  134. Anonymous - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    Ian Desmond cannot hit and he can barely field. The evidence is overwhelming that these statements are fundamentally true. Ian is the weakest link on the club. They need him to improve his overall game by a LOT or they need him to be gone. It's that simple and I think that they realize it.

  135. Anonymous - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:12 AM

    We're bored! We're bored!Our posts are all mix-metaphored!We mis-use clichés quite a bit–Our baseball insight's all for [nought];We're bored! We're bored! We're bored!

  136. Unkyd - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    ……..(god…..please….pitchers&catchers….before it's too late……)

  137. Anonymous - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    I'm with Gonat – Lombardozzi has to earn it. Just what did he do during his September callup that makes anyone think he can hit major league pitching right now? Granted, it wasn't a lengthy stint, but he had one extra base hit and one RBI – that's it. He looked overmatched the entire time, and didn't look at all ready. He's put up consistant numbers in the minors so far. But he split last year between AA and AAA, and I think he needs to do it for a full season at AAA. And at that point, Rizzo/Davey will have a personnel decision to make.

  138. baseballswami - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:42 AM

    While I was at work this site definitely went amok. And I missed it. Darn.

  139. Unkyd - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:55 AM

    Yep. Pon farr….

  140. Drew - Jan 31, 2012 at 3:00 AM

    The Anon Sequiturs are chewing paint chips again, but look on the bright side — Mark fixed the leading.Thanks, Mark

  141. Elwood, the Rally Possum - Jan 31, 2012 at 4:30 AM

    I'll be back…Watch for it…

  142. NatsLady - Jan 31, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    The Fangraphs guys on their podcast just said the O's are the worst franchise in baseball, and baring 5 wildcards per division, they won't ever make the playoffs….

  143. Cwj - Jan 31, 2012 at 5:36 AM

    Darn, I missed out on a lot today :DApparently some people think: Desmond is terrible, Werth has no track record, LaRoche has no track record, Strasburg and Gio and Harper will contribute absolutely nothing to the Team, "Lombo" will make it past ST, pitching doesn't win games, and batting order counts? What happened to the optimism? I very much like this year's team and can't wait!!

  144. Cwj - Jan 31, 2012 at 5:45 AM

    NatsLady- Yeah the Orioles are terrible. Never is a long time, but it will definitely be a while before they build a team. Much less make the playoffs. It's pretty sad.Fortunately, our Nats are on the rise :)Tired of waiting for ST….Go Nats!

  145. gonatsgo - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Good morning all – 19 today and I think we are all running out of things to (rant) talk about. GYFNG!!!!! There was a nats classic on masn last night – July 6, 2010. Tyler Clippard was awful, Dibble was obnoxious, Desi made a critical error(!) Livo was good but lost, Pudge made a great play at the plate. There was Willie Harris, Guzzie, Nyger and Michael Morse hit his second, ( in July!) double of the year and had a buzz cut, there was hope that Matt Capps would close out the all star game and win it for the national league (yes!). Some things never change — walk off by Zim. Of course. Our pitching was considered terrible and the Padres staff was considered really good. It was not that long ago – perspective. It was painful to watch at times. Can't wait to see our team in 2012!

  146. Original Nats Fan - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Gonats, I enjoyed the game also. our projected starters the next couple series included Atilano and Stammen. We've come a long way, baby!MASN is airing this new series of classics every Monday at 7 or after the game through April 23rd. Of the 12 or 13 games, 4 are Zim walk-offs.

  147. Anonymous - Feb 1, 2012 at 3:25 PM






As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at Click here for past audio clips.

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