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The depth chart … for now

Feb 6, 2012, 3:00 PM EDT

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Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina will be competing for playing time in center field.

Another Super Bowl has come and gone — what an equally thrilling and bizarre finish that was last night, huh? — and that can mean only one thing: Pitchers and catchers will be reporting for work in less than two weeks.

Yes, baseball season is nearly upon us and we can finally turn our attention away from what moves the Nationals did or did not make this winter and instead focus on what actually takes place on the field.

Which means it's time to start looking at roster battles that will play out this spring in Viera. We already know the final spot in the Nationals' rotation is going to make for a doozy of a saga. And with yesterday's re-signing of Rick Ankiel to a minor-league contract, it sure looks like the competition in center field is going to be wide-open with Ankiel, Mike Cameron and Roger Bernadina fighting for playing time. Unless, of course, Bryce Harper convinces GM Mike Rizzo to make him the Opening Day right fielder, bumping Jayson Werth to center field.

There are going to be no shortage of possibilities, and there could still be plenty of changes via either trades or last-minute signings. But for now, here's how the Nationals' depth chart stands at every position. All players scheduled to be in big-league camp (those on the 40-man roster, plus non-roster invitees) are listed below…

CATCHER
Wilson Ramos
Jesus FloresRead more »

121 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    The whole club comes down to Desmond. IF he plays well, the club is likely going to do well. The Nats have options and depth all over the place. You look at the roster and in all other aspects and it is solid, maybe not ideal, but very solid. Ian's just gotta play well. Gonna be an interesting Spring.Best 25 go North!dfh21

  2. SonnyG10 - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    I predict Ian will do well for us this year.

  3. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    Sonny — I hope you're right. These egg-headed baseball guys that the Nats have hired have had patience with Desmond, presumably because they see that the guy can be a plus player at SS. I am hoping that Ian gets it together and meets his potential. But, I want the Nats to have some kind of a Plan B ready, if Ian stumbles. The club has to play to win in 2012 and they cannot endure weeks and weeks of bad baseball from the SS position and hope to be in the conversation in September. dfh21

  4. bdrube - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Lombardozzi likely IS Plan B, which is probably why the Nats reportedly resisted trading him as part of a deal for Span last year.

  5. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    Is the constant harping on Desmond a drinking game too? If so, I suggest that commenters be limited to one drinking game per day.

  6. SonnyG10 - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    If Lombardozzi proves he can hit major league pitching, then I think Ian will have a much shorter leash. Davey will see to that.

  7. Nats210 - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    Let's not forget P Chad Durbin as a NRI in the bullpen.

  8. SonnyG10 - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Of course, Danny Espinosa must also not go into a season long slump either.

  9. Mark Zuckerman - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    Nats210: You are correct. Durbin signing hasn't been officially announced yet, so his name doesn't appear on the actual roster. But I just added him to the bullpen depth chart. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Steve M. - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    Rizzo hasn't been the man in charge for for too many years although the few years he has been, he has gone into Spring Training with a hole in his outfield.Why should this year be any different?This year is different for one reason—-Davey Johnson.Davey doesn't have a prototypical leadoff man or a top outfield, but I bet he has a plan.Pitching was the strength of this team in 2011 and for all the Lannan bashers, Lannan was part of that strength.The defense and athleticism were improved.What isn't improved is the offensive side of the ball. In football, your best offense is a great defense giving you generally a shorter field to score + some defensive points. In baseball, a better defense (pitching + fielding) gives you less runs you have to score offensively (See SF Giants 2010), but it usually doesn't work historically speaking. You need to score a lot of runs. 700 of them would be nice.It can be done but I think Rizzo made things harder on himself by improving pitching and doing nothing about the offense other than make a run at Prince Fielder and hoping for a healthy team to do what it was supposed to do in 2011. Carlos Beltran and Cuddyer never popped up on the Nats radar. Many simple fixes like Coco Crisp never seemed to materialize. It seems like many retreads are in Mark's chart above. I see some hope based on good health in Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, and Mark DeRosa.Instead of using prospects like AJ Cole, Tom Milone, Brad Peacock and Derek Norris for a trade for a top outfielder, the Nats used them for pitching.Maybe Rizzo isn't finished. If he is, Davey Johnson's personal project is Ian Desmond and finding an outfield combo platoon that provides OFFENSE.

  11. flippin - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    I have been watching and waiting for Desmond to "get it" since spring training 2005. Seven years is a sample size large enough for me to be confident in saying that he is not a starting infielder for a good team in the major leagues.

  12. andy - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    When looking at the pitching depth, this team is stacked. Long gone are the days of Mike O'Conner and Jason Bergmann! Look out in 2012!

  13. FS - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    is anyone interested in playing fantasy baseball here?oh and agree about pitching depth. very glad we don't have to consider mike o'connor a prospect or anything.

  14. Manassas Nats Fan - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    I say bring the best 25 North. If Bryce Harper is there now then bring him, if not quite yet, place him in Syracuse and be ready to bring him in June.It will be interesting how they set up the rotation.I like Lannon and hope he makes it as the 5th starter. I do not think they will pitch Strasburg and Zimmermann back to back. If Lannon is the 5th starter, I really don't want to pitch him and Gonzales back to back. However I see Gonzales being number 1.To keep the youngsters separated, I suspect one will be 2 and the other 4. Jackson then would be three. And Lannon at 5 means the two lefties would be together.Not sure how Johnson will do this, but I am sure McCatty will help solve the problem.

  15. NatsLady - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Steve M., Cuddyer is overrated and Crisp made it clear he would not sign with the Nats. I don't think that means they weren't on Rizzo's radar. Beltran signed for $26 million and 2 years, maybe not a bad deal BUT–did you want to get into a bidding war with the Cards? There is no telling how high they might have gone.Yes, it's frustrating but you have to look at each individual case as see that it would not work for the Nats. Rizzo has his eyes open, and something will "pop," cf. Ramos.

  16. PAY TO PLAY - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    The way this outfield is shaping up it is Michael Morse and Jayson Werth and 10 other guys auditioning for a platoon. Bryce Harper has to be better than the rest of these AAAA players and some guys who should be in the MLB retirement home.Way too many lefthanded outfielders applying for the job. Bernadina makes the most sense given his ability to hit RH pitching and batting somewhere in the order other than leadoff the guy has good numbers which makes him the perfect LH platoon. For whatever reason, Bernadina can't hit leadoff. Now then, Ankiel can't hit anywhere, so why was he brought back? Designated outfield golden arm? If that was a position on the bench, then its news to me. Then you consider the RH outfielders, this guy Cameron is the best Rizzo could do?

  17. greg - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    for some reason, there were more than a few "above value" contracts signed by OFs this offseason. you mentioned a couple of them in your list, steve. i think most people think cuddyer's contract was silly. and i've seen both his and coco crisp's contract listed in a few "worst of offseason" lists. it may seem like coco was simple, but he got 2yrs/$14m. i honestly don't see how he's worth that (or that cuddyer was worth 3/$31.even willingham got 3/$21m. beltran got two years ($25m).note that all of those guys wanted to start, all of those guys got multiple years, and only one of them could play CF (and he hasn't played more than 120 games but once in the last 4 years). that leaves the nats on the outside looking in on everyone but crisp. none of the others would consider coming to washington to end up on the bench when harper comes up this year (let alone next year). the only position in the OF washington could look at for more than half a season is CF. and crisp was a mediocre target in FA, especially for 2/$14. i wish we had some idea of what some of the other potential trade targets would have cost. i'm not a huge melky cabrera fan, and i thought he was a little expensive in SF for what they paid and with (i think) one year of control, but i wonder what he would have cost the nats when you think the giants paid sanchez and a minor league pitcher for him. i think this was a weak OF crop of FAs and they ended up pretty overpriced. and the situation in the nats corner OF spots made washington a difficult sell for a corner OF FA that sees themselves as a legit starter and wants more than one year.

  18. Steve M. - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    NatsLady said… Steve M., Cuddyer is overrated and Crisp made it clear he would not sign with the Nats. I don't think that means they weren't on Rizzo's radar. Beltran signed for $26 million and 2 years, maybe not a bad deal BUT–did you want to get into a bidding war with the Cards? There is no telling how high they might have gone.Yes, it's frustrating but you have to look at each individual case as see that it would not work for the Nats. Rizzo has his eyes open, and something will "pop," cf. Ramos. February 06, 2012 11:17 AM If Cuddyer's 805 OPS is overrated, then we have a different definition and Coco Crisp may have come to Washington if they had pursued him. Beltran was looking for a payday and a spot to play.Rizzo got his pitcher(s) and that's great but counting on Bryce Harper at 19 years old to save the outfield is asking for way to much.Again, I am just hoping that Rizzo has another surprise up his sleeve for a real outfielder who is preferably right-handed. That is an outfielder with a proven track record that we don't have to hope & wish rather see & believe.

  19. jeeves - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    I don't get 'the offensive has not improved' comments. I could put up a reasonable arguement that the odds are good that the 2012 Nats will be improved offensively in seven of the eight positions. No comparison in left field where Morse will spend the whole year. Werth in center will be a marked improvement. (unless one takes the half empty approach and assumes that last year, not the previous three years, was the real Werth). And because of Werth's poor year in 2011, the odds are high that Harper will be quite a bit better. Zim, at third for the year and the combination of Ramos and Flores shoud improve the catching offensively. With their added experience and a little less pressure because of the improved lineup, Desi and Espinosa should be more consistent. That leaves first base where Morse more than likely had better production last year than Laroche will this year.

  20. jeeves - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    Should read 'those two positions' not 'the catching' offensively.

  21. Steve M. - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    Greg, championship teams are built sometimes with over-stocking with back-up plans or as some people call it – insurance. Sometimes you have to over-pay for insurance if you want to be a post-season team.What if LaRoche isn't ready to go on April 1st and you have to move Morse to 1st? Then you are 2 outfielders down.On paper, this is a better team right now than the 2011 team. My point is that this outfield isn't good. Going with Morse, Ankiel and Werth is how the 2011 season ended. Nothing exciting there especially if you are telling me Mike Cameron is the 4th outfielder.

  22. JaneB - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    I have to believe that if Rizzo COULD have done better, in a deal that made longer term sense for us in the outfield, he would have. He just would have. He certainly is still trying: the lead-off problem and the CF problem are not invisible to him if we can see him.I think this hinges on how good The Kid looks. If it looks like he is in Syracuse till August or September –and that is still a possibility, no matter how much we want something else; he needs to hit Big League pitches AND field Big League hits — then we have a CF problem. If he is going great guns, we have a problem and a platoon to solve it until June. If he is a miracle in the Nats ST uni, we see Werth in CF on Opening Day. We still have a lead-off issue. But maybe Davey really sees something in Desi we don't see. Maybe he is going to be able to do it. He's fast and he can steal and he's fearless. And his defense with Espi is solid. So let's watch Bryce and Desi, and not get a fatootzed as they work on skills this spring, and see what they bring. THEN we declare we have a lead-off and a CF problem. THEN we jump up and down when Rizzo solves it some other way. Finally, I think, if you are playing with pieces of this team, the best thing to have done is what they DID do: Upgrade the pitching. That was a no-brainer, and if The Other Guys can't hit us. we are better off. The team pre- and post-Bryce is apples and oranges, almost. We might have solved a very short term problem with a big fat contract, and that might have looked really dumb and expensive come June. Or April. Or maybe it would look prescient in September, when Bryce finally comes up. Who the heck knows? But I think Rizzo and Davey know more than me, and I'm going with them.Finally FINALLY — we have to give it them that this roster looks so much more solid than any we have ever seen wear a Curlie W. GYFNG!

  23. JaneB - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    PS…I know this is a dumb question but I'm willing to ask it anyway:If it looks like Bryce is a short-timer in Syracuse and that Werth will play CF when Bryce comes up, why aren't we STARTING with Werth in C and playing the platoon at RF? PS Capcha is bygolle — which is exactly the energy I had when I wrote this.

  24. HHover - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    jeevesI think you're largely right. A lot of the kvetching about offense, I think, is due to 1) failure to add a high OBP lead-off man, 2), the bench, 3), the complaints about Desmond. #1 – I agree is a failure, tho there's an outside chance of something being done before OD; #2 – seems overblown to me (if bench players were all that, they wouldn't be bench players); #3 – the ragging on Desi is just background noise at this point; I don't pay a lot of attention anymore.

  25. greg - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    steve, you're talking about it from the *nationals* perspective. what about the players themselves? how much do you have to overpay a guy to come into a spot on a team where he might be a bench player for 1.5 of the two years on his contract? how much more do you have to overpay if you're the nationals as opposed to say asking someone to be a bench player in philly, boston, or the yanks, where there's a higher chance of playing in the WS in the next two years? i'm not saying it wouldn't benefit the nats to have any of the guys mentioned. i'm just saying that most of them would have little to no interest in playing *here* because they wouldn't actually get enough playing time.

  26. greg - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    jane, i think you want werth in CF as little as necessary because it's harder on a player physically, especially if it's not really a natural position. that said, i think if the 3rd OF coming out of spring training was a natural corner OF and not CF (like most of our options are), you'd see werth in CF.

  27. pdowdy83 - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Steve M. I saw on multiple sites that Crisp wanted to play on the West Coast. There is no evidence one way or the other if the Nats contacted him or not but who is to say they didn't and he said no thank you.As far as Cuddyer, why would you want him on a 3 year deal for that high of a price? He is a corner player who signed a 3 year deal and we have 4 of those already (Zimm, Morse, Harper, Werth). Not to mention while an 805 OPS is decent it isn't anything worth the contract he got. Werth should be able to put up that number this year and people would still consider him a let down. If Cuddyer got a 1 year deal I would be right there with you in saying he should have been a target but 3 years doesn't seem to make sense. He isn't really a guy you move other players around to fit into your lineup.I agree Beltran could have been nice, but only really on a 1 year contract when you look at the layout of the Nats. Do you want Werth playing CF for multiple seasons?

  28. jd - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    JaneB, That's not a stupid question at all. I think Werth is a better center fielder than Bernadina in any event. I think Cameron is better than both of them but he may not hit enough to be anything but a platoon option.

  29. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    At JaneB: As always, loved your comments. One silly question: What is the derivative of "Fatootzed?"Does one "Fatootz?" Or does one have "Fatootz" inflicted upon by another? Did Jimbo "Fatootz" us for lo, those many years? Or are we guilty of being overly (or underly) "Fatootzable?"An inquiring NI nation wonders…As always, GYFNG!! And, to sound the alarm, Bring the Best 25 North!!

  30. SonnyG10 - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    Right on JaneB!

  31. Twinbrook - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    Why have they seemed to have given up on the idea of Harper becoming a CF? He's fast and has a strong arm. Aren't those the qualities that you look for in a CF?

  32. N. Cognito - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    I was wrong about sending an e-mail to the Nats in October or November suggesting a "Take Back Our Park" effort. It was September 23rd. Here's what I sent:Being still several feet off the ground following the sweep of the Philthies, with the prospect of an even better season next year, and with (unfortunately) the bad taste of Stan Kasten's invitation to Phillies fans from a couple seasons ago, I propose the Nats launch a campaign next year titled: "Take Back Our Park."Most of this would be through encouraging season ticket holders and other Nats fans to purchase tickets to as many of the 9 Philthy games as they can, and attend said games, and through other means such as:- Including game(s) against the Philthies in the smaller ticket plans (less than 1/4 season).- Having a Friday Plan, a Saturday Plan and a Sunday Plan.- Offering a "Buy a 5 game mini-plan (buyer selects the games, with exclusions; i.e. Yankees), get a Philthies game free" plan.- Removal of Philthy area e-mail addresses (this includes groups), and e-mail address of those who have only bought a preponderance of Philthies tickets, from receiving promotional e-mailings – removal from Nats Insiders. Simply DO NOT MARKET TO THESE PEOPLE!- Holding off on group sales until single game ticket sales have slowed way down.And any other ideas which might occur and are doable.Many Nats fans refuse to attend games against the Philthies, myself included. I promise to go to these games next year and encourage those in my ticket group to purchase and attend these games. Give others the incentive to buy tickets and attend.

  33. Steve M. - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    JaneB said… I think this hinges on how good The Kid looks. That's the problem. Too many people see Bryce Harper as the key to this team's outfield success. It probably won't happen and it is unfair to put that much pressure on a 19 year old kid.

  34. BinM - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Should the Nationals decide to go with a 'stop-gap' platoon in CF to begin the season, they've at least got a host of players to choose from. Six weeks in Viera should sort the wheat from the chaff in that regard. Of course, Bryce Harper could be a mitigating effect there as well.The team does seem to have a bit of an overstock in pitching, particularly starters. A single injury however can turn that into a nightmare; Just look at what happened to Oakland's & Boston's rotations last year. The bench still seems to lack that gap-power+ bat that they got from Nix in 2011; Hopefully, someone will step up & fill it in ST. Color me cautiously optomistic for 2012. P&C reporting in less than two weeks, and ST games beginning on March 3rd. Hurray baseball and Go Nats!

  35. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    jeeves, Steve M, et al.,I agree with jeeves that the offense will improve, but the question is will it be enough? I thus share Steve M's worry that the Nats haven't done enough to increase their runs-scored potential. In this regard, I've been looking at the question of "runs scored" vs. "runs allowed" recently and here's some of what I found:– In the National League since 2005, 19 of the 28 playoff teams have finished 'better than league average' in both runs-scored and runs-allowed. All 28 finished 'better than league average' in one or the other.– Of the nine that lagged in one category, three of those were the 'best of the below average' teams in the lagging category, i.e., they were just fractionally below league average. This number included the 2010 Giants (best pitching in the league by far, but also 'best of the below average' in scoring — that is, they weren't as bad on offense as people recall).– Of those same nine who lagged in one category, four of them were the best (all by far) in the category in which they were stronger.– Because of overlap in the above two categories, there were only four teams out of 28 that were 'better than league average but not the very best' in one category and only mediocre in the other.– Turning the argument around, since 2005 only nine teams have finished 'better than league average" in both runs-scored and runs-allowed in a given season and NOT made the playoffs, for an average of 1.3 a season. At least two of those would have made the playoffs in the five-team version that MLB is about to implement, meaning that using today's version it's one team/year that finished better/better but still fails to make the playoffs. So, while finishing 'better than league average' in both runs scored and allowed is neither an absolute requirement for nor an absolute guarantee of making the playoffs, it's pretty darn close.My concern remains that while the 2012 Nats seem to have positioned themselves well to remain in the 'better than average' category in runs-allowed, even if you assume career norms for all the players in the starting eight, it's just not clear that they'll be able to move into the 'above average' runs-scored list. And, in my book, that's what they need to do to give themselves the best chance of playing meaningful games in September.

  36. Exposremains - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    Great upgrades on the pitching staff but very sad that a guy like Ankiel is once again competing for a starting job when he's no more than a defensive replacement. I really can't believe that we're gonna see another year of the CF of the month competition and hearing quotes like: "We gonna give this guy a chance to be our CF"Please Rizzo you're better than that!

  37. jd - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    As we get closer to spring training I would like to give my 2 cents worth of advice to the gang here. Don't worry about spring training stats for players who are getting ready for the season but are not competing for a roster spot and don't get too excited over terrific performances by players who have no shot at making the team. This is not a try out camp.

  38. Steve M. - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Eugene, well said. I remain cautiously optimistic but I just don't see an offense there that can score 4.3 runs per game on average unless everything goes right for the 2012 Nats.Here's why I believe the offense will improve. I base that on optimism that Zim and LaRoche will be healthy, and the maturation of Espinosa and Ramos, and a more determined Ian Desmond, and a less stressed Jayson Werth.The only one I didn't mention is Michael Morse as I am just hoping for more of the same.The last spot of the 8 position players is the final outfield roster spot. If it is a platoon, it needs to produce until Bryce Harper is ready.

  39. Wally - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Steve M said …Again, I am just hoping that Rizzo has another surprise up his sleeve for a real outfielder who is preferably right-handed. That is an outfielder with a proven track record that we don't have to hope & wish rather see & believe. Agreed. Byrd seems like the easy target. Can play the position and hit competently, and doesn't block Harper when he is ready. I'll bet Rizzo goes to ST to see if Cameron has anything left in the tank, and if not, tries for him. He shouldn't be expensive to get: why should a rebuilding team keep a 35 yr old, average CF, especially with some young kids like Brett Jackson, and maybe Cespedes, coming. Might be able to get him for Bernie, although they possibly have to add someone off the Hagerstown roster.Also, I don't think going to Chicago with Lombo as the back up MI makes sense. I brought this up a few posts ago, and got bellowed at for (mistakenly) showing Lombo love, but as I see it, there is no one else currently on the roster who can back up either Desi or Espy for more than a few games if they get hurt (I don't know much about Blanco or Hoffpauir). And unless I misunderstand the scouting, Lombo doesn't really project to be able to do it at SS, requiring Espy to slide over. I don't know who is left on the FA market for this slot, but I hope that Rizzo has something cooking there too.

  40. PAY TO PLAY - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Exposremains said… Great upgrades on the pitching staff but very sad that a guy like Ankiel is once again competing for a starting job when he's no more than a defensive replacement. I really can't believe that we're gonna see another year of the CF of the month competition and hearing quotes like: "We gonna give this guy a chance to be our CF"Please Rizzo you're better than that! February 06, 2012 12:18 PM That was my feeling this morning after reading through the post-Super Bowl Monday morning thoughts on baseball.We all know Rick Ankiel is making this team and last's years stats were beyond bad:.239 /.296 /.363/ .659 I am hoping Corey Brown rakes in Spring Training as he has always had potential. This is his year to put it all together.

  41. jd - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Jeeves, Not everyone will improve from last year. It just doesn't happen. Morse may well regress a bit, LaRoche is no sure thing, Werth had a terrible year last year and should improve but he's also a year older and most of the time players don't reverse their declines so that's still an open question. Additionally; Clippard may well regress only because it's hard to replicate what he did last year and I also have great concerns about Espi and Desi. Will they both take a huge step forward? unlikely. I am not trying to paint a bleak picture here. Just trying to introduce some realism into the discussion.

  42. HHover - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    EugeneGreat job of picking thru the past numbers – it's very helpful to see. The Nats last season were about 40 runs scored below league average in 2011, which seems a reasonable–certainly not impossible–gap to close. With the improvement in pitching (7th in the NL last year in runs allowed), I think the Nats have at best an outside chance to contend this year–and that's if everything breaks their way.

  43. NatinBeantown - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Eugene, great analysis. As a follow up, for those without the numbers at their fingertips, can you provide:1) the projected 2012 NL averages for runs scored and runs allowed2) the Nats' averages in 2011

  44. Dr. Demento - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    Big surprise of Spring Training: Chris Curran comes out of nowhere to become not only the centerfielder but the lead-off.

  45. Avar - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:39 PM

    The pitching is obviously much improved and we have depth both in the rotation and the bullpen.I contend the lineup is significantly improved despite not adding anyone. As others have said; Morse to LF and LaRoche to 1B means LaRoche takes Nix's place in the lineup and that is big upgrade. It's reasonable to expect that Zimm and Werth will be upgrades from themselves this year.The big problem with the lineup is not lack of a leadoff hitter, that's overrated. The problems are 1) Desi and Espi are not proven yet so 2 of 8 spots might be lousy, 2) Harper has almost no chance of being even average this year at 19 and 3) they have no depth. One or more guys in the lineup will get hurt and/or underperform and our options to replace our starters are weak.Can't fix it all in one off-season. We'll see how it plays out this year and Rizzo can address the weak spots next off-season. We are one or two lineup pieces away from being a playoff caliber team, that's pretty exciting.

  46. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    N. Cognito said…I was wrong about sending an e-mail to the Nats in October or November suggesting a "Take Back Our Park" effort. It was September 23rd. Is it too late for Post of the Year honors for 2011? Well done, Mr. C. Well done.

  47. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    That Chris Curran post must have been by his Dad. Even Peric isn't that delusional (although on another site he's already started a Matt Skole watch.)

  48. natsfan1a - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    I second that emotion.

  49. natsfan1a - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    Postal intervention clarification: my "seconding" post referred to sec3's post from 12:45.

  50. Mark'd - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    jd said Feb 6, 2012 09:25 AM…. I am not trying to paint a bleak picture here.ust trying to introduce some realism into the discussion.———It's nice to get some realism. This is a much better team than last year and even though leadoff and outfielders may not be perfect there is still time before Opening Day.By the July 31st trade deadline, it is the time for 2nd chances to tweak and fix a weak spit or 2.There aren't any teams right now with the perfect roster. There are 20 other teams that would kill for the Nats rotation!

  51. JaneB - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Sunshine Bobby: "fatootzed" is several cranky steps above frazzled. One is fatoozed, and some here are, indeed, easily fatoozable. Word stolen from a former colleague and life-long friend, Jerry Whiddon. Who also used to tell us to calm down and take the bees out of our pockets. Thanks for asking..,Steve M I agree that we can't put too much on the shoulders of a 19 year old. But he IS the RF of the future, we know that. And we know that, for him to take that spot, Jayson moves to C. If the kid is to be one of the 25 sooner than later, then Jayson is moving.JD, that makes sense (that it wears on you more to play CF). Thanks to all for not making me feel dumb to ask.

  52. RPrecupjr - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    FS, I would definitely be interested in a Fantasy League. I find it helps me keep track of what's going on all over MLB, not just in NatsTown.

  53. NatinBeantown - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    Can we make some rules on projections?1) No one is allowed to compare a previous year's numbers, with injuries, to a theoretical injury-free lineup in 2012.2) No one is allowed to assume rebound performances by some players (Werth, LaRoche) without a reasonable regression performance by others (Morse, Clip, Espi)3) No one can compare a position's productivity (say, LF, with starters, subs and replacements) and compare it to the projection for a starter only.Oh yeah, one more thing… bah, humbug!

  54. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    NatinBeanTown,I can't give you projected scoring averages for 2012; if they exist in a reputable form, I don't know where to find them. Anyone?But on historical data, MLB.com, baseball-reference,com, and fangraphs.com all provide the basics.To answer your questions, the league averages for runs scored and runs allowed are going to be essentially the same number (there's actually a tiny variation for reasons I don't fully grasp, but it's truly insignificant). In the NL, the recent runs-per-game averages have been:2011 = 4.162010 = 4.352009 = 4.492008 = 4.632007 = 4.78You can see that the average has been declining, but I'll let others argue the cause (i.e., better pitching, fewer steroids, too small a sample size to draw any conclusions).In 2011, the Nats scored 3.88 runs/game (sixth lowest in the league).In 2010, they scored 4.04 runs/game (third worst in the NL).

  55. NatinBeantown - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    Eugene – thanks.

  56. PAY TO PLAY - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    NatinBeantown, if you are looking for regression from Espi, we are in trouble. His numbers were borderline by the time the year was over. If he didn't have all those HBPs, it would look even worse.Werth is the curious one. I think he played injured. Davey has to give him some more days off and I think a healthier Werth will rebound.

  57. SCNatsFan - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    It is amazing the hate Desi gets here but everyone seems to poo poo the terrible second half Espi had. Should Desi be traded watch the vitriol soon move to Espi unless he picks it up.

  58. N. Cognito - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Too many question marks on offense.Ramos had a great rookie year – stats much better than one would expect – good chance his stats will slipLaRoche is already on decline and is coming off shoulder surgeryEspinosa and Desmond – will they show progress or are they destined to be average hitters at their position (albeit with some pop for Espinosa)Zimmerman – reoccuring but not recurring injuries – will he be healthy and put up the solid numbers he's capable ofMorse – was last year his career year – if so, how much dropoff – maybe only a littleWerth – a career bad year, he'll probably never match any of his seasons in Philly (age, bigger ballpark in DC) but he should rebound3rd outfielder – totally unknown – even if Harper plays all season in DC it's highly probable that it will be a difficult one for himbench – weak again, so far

  59. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    I get why some posters here whine about Desmond, and it can be annoying to hear the same jazz over and over about how terrible he has been. But I don't understand why some posters whine about the whining about Desmond and retort the arguments that Desmond cannot play with powder puff stuff like "Davey loves him" and "He's Davey's personal project" and "He's been in the organization so long, we'd hate to see him go some place else and succeed, finally." Desmond has stunk, and the counter-arguments to the facts about how much Desmond has objectively stunk being such fluff just egg-on the haters.Zuckerman points to Desmond playing fairly well at leadoff over the last 6 weeks of the season and at Desmond cutting back on the errors overall in 2011 – good stuff. But, is a couple of months of good performance enough to out-weigh a couple of years of bad play? For the folks that love Desmond, let me ask what about him makes you want the Nats to give him a chance at the top of the order and how much of a leash should he get in 2012 if he’s not fielding or hitting well?

  60. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    NatsinBeanTown @ 12:59,I'm satisfied that you can use career stats to make some projections, but you have to take into account the variance/standard deviation and probability theory. And that means you can't project a single number (e.g., someone's career average) as the likely outcome. You have to consider a range of numbers. If you've got a career .300 hitter, there's about a 75 percent chance he'll hit somewhere between .280 and .320, but it's just as likely he'll be on the lower end as on the higher end. And there's still a 25 percent chance that he'll be outside that range (again, lower or higher).

  61. Cease the Opportunity - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    Steve M. said… JaneB said… I think this hinges on how good The Kid looks. That's the problem. Too many people see Bryce Harper as the key to this team's outfield success. It probably won't happen and it is unfair to put that much pressure on a 19 year old kid.Ordinarily I would agree with your observation about the Kid. And I'm not really disagreeing with you now. The Kid, without me really knowing him, and I mean I don't know him at all, but he in particular seems like the kind of kid who relishes this "pressure". For many they would cower from it. For him it's fuel. And he would thrive as a sponge in the sea. Just my observation…

  62. Cease the Opportunity - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    Steve M. said… JaneB said… I think this hinges on how good The Kid looks. That's the problem. Too many people see Bryce Harper as the key to this team's outfield success. It probably won't happen and it is unfair to put that much pressure on a 19 year old kid.Ordinarily I would agree with your observation about the Kid. And I'm not really disagreeing with you now. The Kid, without me really knowing him, and I mean I don't know him at all, but he in particular seems like the kind of kid who relishes this "pressure". For many they would cower from it. For him it's fuel. And he would thrive as a sponge in the sea. Just my observation…

  63. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    FS said…is anyone interested in playing fantasy baseball here?how about actual baseball? Just curious how many still lace 'em up.

  64. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    SCNats: Espi can glove very well, he's a switch, hits for power and has some speed too. He's simply a much better player at this point than Desmond is at several years older, and his upside is higher due to better glove and the power.

  65. Cease the Opportunity - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    Steve M. said… JaneB said… I think this hinges on how good The Kid looks. That's the problem. Too many people see Bryce Harper as the key to this team's outfield success. It probably won't happen and it is unfair to put that much pressure on a 19 year old kid. Ordinarily I would agree with your observation about the Kid. And I'm not really disagreeing with you now. The Kid, without me really knowing him, and I mean I don't know him at all, but he in particular seems like the kind of kid who relishes this "pressure". For many they would cower from it. For him it's fuel. And he would thrive as a sponge in the sea. Just my observation…

  66. NatinBeantown - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    For the folks that love Desmond, let me ask what about him makes you want the Nats to give him a chance at the top of the order and how much of a leash should he get in 2012 if he’s not fielding or hitting well? 1) Point to someone else on the roster who makes more sense at leadoff than him. The least-worst option is still the best option.2) The Lombardozzi lovers usually forget that Desmond outperformed Lombardozzi at similar steps in the minors, and that Lombardozzi looked significantly overmatched during his Sept 2011 at bats.3) Desmond is a legitimate clubhouse presence, on a team without a lot of natural, vocal leaders (Zimm, SS). People who are actually in the locker room (Davey, Riggleman, players) who's opinions count a lot more than ours, say that stuff really matters.4) His leash is entirely dependant on what other options are out there.If and when Rizzo lands a fast, high OBP guy via FA or trade that can play one of our available spots in the field, that guy will bat leadoff. But, hope as we may, that guy has not appeared yet, and all the potential in-house and outside candidates are flawed. Someone's gotta fill the slot.

  67. Exposremains - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    N Cognito,I agree. When every player in your lineup as a "if" in front of him. Its a scary thought.

  68. jcj5y - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    I'm not sure we can know whether to expect regression or improvement from Espinosa and Ramos. They haven't established career norms at the major league level yet. Both are still young enough that I would lean toward expecting some improvement in their stats based on an assumption that they are still climbing the learning curve.

  69. NatinBeantown - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    *whose* opinion…

  70. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    Lannan was the worst least effective starter else he would have surely won in Abitration? Sanchez did he's the real deal. Lannan is another Maya on the left side. Even bad Livo was better. Stop dreaming face facts.

  71. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    jcj5y: That's a very good point. Neither Mr. Espinosa nor Mr. Ramos — nor Mr. Desmond, for that matter — really have enough MLB at-bats to consider their 'career' average to be their 'true' average (as Nate Silver uses that term for predictive purposes).

  72. whatsanattau - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Not that I feel the need to justify my fandom for Desmond, but I take on faith – since I have now heard it from three different managers – that Desmond is a joy to manage and in the clubhouse, works hard everyday, and is a leader on and off the field. When he has hit early in the lineup (late season for both 2010 and 2011) he has performed significantly better than when batting 7th/8th. His on base skills increase when there is protection around him, decrease when they can pitch him outside the strike zone. At least a third of his errors in 2010 were throwing with Dunn short-arming, stumbling, or positioning himself so that he could not catch them. Once qualified firstbasemen took the field his errors decreased. His zone ratings are somewhat understated last year because Zimmerman and Espinoza both have good range so it was not necessary to range as far. (There's a whole debate there about zone measures, but I'lll keep going). Lombardozzi is a rookie and has not proved himself to be a better option. Desmond runs the bases well. His stolen base record last year screams injurry. He stole 20 in the first two months and at that point had only been caught twice, then got caught 6+ times in a row. He had a leg problem of some kind but stayed in the lineup. And, he's got a cool walk up song….so there….

  73. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    NatinBean –1) Desmond's the least of the evils? Not exactly a celebration of Desmond's talent there.2) Desmond has not out-performed Lombo in the minors. Lombo's hit .300 all over the place.3) Clubhouse presence? Did you really go there? How many runs does clubhouse presence get the Nats?4) The leash has to be very short. The Nats can't lose ball games waiting for Ian to come around forever, and it's getting close to a forever ago that they gave him the SS job. They can get an all glove guy to play SS and bat 8th, if Desmond can't glove, and they can work some kind of platoon that gets them some OBP and speed at the top of the order that out-performs Ian's stat line too.

  74. RPrecupjr - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    Sec 3, My Sofa said… FS said…is anyone interested in playing fantasy baseball here?how about actual baseball? Just curious how many still lace 'em up.Maybe not baseball, but softball is fine with me. For whatever reason, probably lack of use, I can no longer throw a baseball with any certainty of its destination. I'm worse than Rick Ankiel's last few pitching attempts, and we all remember what those were like. Throwing a softball, however, is a different story. No problems at all, other than a rag arm from too many years playing third base. So now I'm a first baseman or catcher, good glove, good stick though not much in the power department. No wheels, but I never had them in the first place.So I'd love to be involved in something like that, even if it's just a bunch of us on a field having fun.

  75. MicheleS - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    Whatever JaneB is having, I will have a double of that! Totally spot on with her comments today. I think it is time with less than 2 weeks before P&C's report, that we should take a deep breath and see how this thing plays out!Take the Best 25 North! (Down the Hatch -DFH21)!GYFNG!!!

  76. Steve M. - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    Eugene, at some point the offense curve trending down will settle in for this post-steroid error. Hard to say when that will be or where the bottom is as I would expect when they test for HgH the offense may drop even further.Still, the Nats are clearly below the offensive runs scored curve average for the MLB and with an even pythagorean or luck factor, you generally have to score 65 or more runs than you give up to make the playoffs. The Nats were a negative -19 last year.Having a better pitching staff helps. The Nats gave up 643 runs last year (161 games). If they can drop that number to 615 runs, can they score 680 to get to that 65 run differential?That is about a 10% increase in runs score per game. If the Nats can do that at a minimum, it still doesn't guarantee playoffs but should get them there.

  77. Unkyd - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Anon@ 1:15 said:For the folks that love Desmond, let me ask what about him makes you want the Nats to give him a chance at the top of the order and how much of a leash should he get in 2012 if he’s not fielding or hitting well?———————I guess I'm as big a Desi booster as any, here. My point is simply; desis talent level is high enough that I'd just like to make sure he's not gonna make it here, before giving up on him. Especially with a lack of somebody in-house to take his place. At this point, if he's booting chances, and not getting on base at ASB, bring Lombo up, move Espi over, and make Desi a utility guy. But, if he can function reasonably well as a leadoff guy, and not regress from the relatively surehanded, rangy SS we saw (post-Daddy) last year, then that's quite a DP combination, as well as more trade flexibility, down the road… My point has always been: "CHILL!!! He's not a failure, yet!!"

  78. alexva - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    @@NatinBeantown:The Lombardozzi lovers usually forget that Desmond outperformed Lombardozzi at similar steps in the minorsThat's false, Desmond had one hot half season at AAA, otherwise never hit .260 at any level. Lombardozzi was never less than .290 except for rookie ball where he was .283

  79. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    Whatsanattau's most compelling argument is the walk-up song.Her/his post breaks down to: great kid!, he's better when everyone else around him is better (lineup spot), unless it makes him worse when people around him are better (Zim and Espi having range), he masked injury down the stretch (when he played the best baseball overall, oddly enough), and until the kid who will never get a chance to prove himself in MLB so long as Desmond is inked in the lineup proves himself in MLB Desmond should be inked in the lineup . . .Desmond believers have to do better than that.

  80. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    The Daddy Desmond was not head and shoulders better than the Expecting Daddy Desmond or the just Desmond of 2010. Can we remove this cloud of Desi having been terrible with the glove only before his baby was born? Desi took the paternity leave on April 22. He booted a LOT of balls in May and June and beyond.

  81. MicheleS - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    For those of you that are ready to Dump Desi..I have two words for you:Emilio Bonafacio…(how many of you crow for him when he is beating our brains in when we play the fish). Some complain that we gave up too early on Emilio.. Let's wait and see what DJ/Rizzo have in store for Desi before we throw him overboard (along with LannEn).

  82. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    Best 25 will go North! I am with you MicheleS.I'd like the club to make the decisin on whether Espinosa is a SS or not in Spring Training. Asking him to step over and play SS at the ASB is a tough assignment and if Desmond has been bad for that long such that the club wants to make the switch, then it's too late anyway.I think that Desmond needes to win the job, he has not responded very well to having been annointed the everyday SS and he seemed to play better back in the day when he was fighting Guz for the gig. (Not basing that on anything other than my perception of his game, not some stat lines or anything that would rise to the objectivity that the Anon above is looking to find, sorry). Maybe it will jump-start Desmond's progression if he has to really win the job. If he does not respond and take the SS job in the Spring, then I want Espinosa at SS (where we have a pretty good idea he can play well), Lombo/DeRosa at 2B and Desi in Cuse where he can play everyday and get it figured out, not on the bench in DC grabbing a random AB or inning with the glove.Maybe Desmond wows them and steps up to become the player they believe he can be this Spring, why not have true competition and . . . take the best 25 North! (a double!)dfh21

  83. PAY TO PLAY - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    MicheleS, if you have told me today that Emilio Bonifacio was going to become HenRod/CoreyB then I would tell you give me Emilio back.That Emilio trade that yielded Josh Willingham & Scott Olsen looked like a swindle and the police should have been called in. Funny how trades turn out.

  84. NatinBeantown - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    Anon (and others, re: Desmond at leadoff):You didn't ask why he's beloved. You asked what about him makes him get a shot at leadoff. Being the best option among many flawed candidates is a reasonable case.I take back that Desmond has outperformed Lombo. Side by side they have very similar performance (though up and down at different levels). My point is that there is nothing about Lombo's minor league performance that indicates he'll do much better in the big leagues than Desmond has.Lastly, clubhouse character counts. If you don't agree there is nothing I can convince you with. Ask Dan Snyder to count his Lombardi trophies.

  85. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    Ah, so the constant harping on Desmond is a drinking game. Otherwise the haters would have their say once and be done with it. No other reason to be lather rinsing and repeating all in the same thread.In which case, dfh21, I ask you to abide by the "one drinking game per person" stipulation above. Which will it be, Desmond harping or best 25 go north? Don't be abusing the good graces of us readers and doing both, okay?

  86. Section 222 - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    It's pretty hard to predict a big improvement for the Nats offensively since the only real changes in the lineup (ALR for a full year and Harper coming up by mid year) are based on hope not experience. We hope that ALR will produce as he did before he came to the Nats, but that has to be tempered by the fact that he's coming back from a serious injury and surgery. And we hope that Harper will begin a Hall of Fame major league career by at least hitting better than the other third outfielder alternatives both last year and this year. But there's no telling when he'll be ready to come to the bigs or how well he'll do when he gets here. Here are my predictions for the 8 lineup slots, hopefully doused with a enough realism to satisfy NatsinBeantown and Eugene:1B — ALR will not hit anywhere near as well as the 25 HR, 100 RBI fantasy that we all have for him. He barely makes us forget Laynce Nix and JHJr, who he's essentially substituting for in the lineup. But he's not worse than they were.2B — Espi begins a steady improvement. Fewer strikeouts, more consistency, better production from the left side, but still not on par over a full season with his 2011 first half performance.SS — Desi remains the same hitter he's always been – acceptable for a good fielding SS in the NL, but not good enough for a leadoff hitter or for the barely average fielder he is.3B — Zim has a solid comeback year, returning to 2010 form and setting himself up for a big long term contract next winter.C — Ramos and Flores are better than Ramos and Pudge. LF — Morse doesn't regress. He's found it and isn't going to lose it. But it's hard to see him getting even better.CF — Bernadina/Ankiel/Cameron in CF or or DeRosa in right are about the same as Bernadina/Ankiel, JH Jr. were last year. Harper comes up mid year, rearranging the deck chairs and the position assignments and adding alot of excitement at Nats Park, but isn't yet the second coming of Mantle or Junior. RF — Werth bounces back and puts up better numbers than last year, but not as good as when he faced the Nats pitching staff of 2008-2010 18 times, 9 of them in Citizens Bank Park.So I count 4 improvements (two or three of them slight), and 4 about the sames. Doesn't seem like enough to score 70 runs more than last year. Am I being unduly pessimistic, or just realistic?But our pitching will be great.

  87. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    Anaon 2:22 — no. I did not do any Desmond-bashing in this thread and even if I had I'll do as much as I like. Unthin your skin. And never ask a Navy man if he'll have another drink, because it's nobody's goddamned business how much he's had already. (Caddyshack reference for you there)dfh21

  88. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    Right, haters, no matter how logical, no matter how supported by the facts in their non-lust for Desmond should only have one shot, say it and shut up and move along, but gushing irrational praise for Desmond should echo over the flower covered and rainbow kissed valleys of Natstown. I can almost hear Up With People humming while smiling in the background. Yeah, if we don't tell the truth about Desmond it WILL go away.

  89. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    To elaborate on my earlier point about it taking several years to establish a player's 'true' average — and also to insert myself in the Desmond debate, which I usually try to avoid — compare Mr. Desmond's first two full MLB seasons to Player X's:Desmond:Age 24: .269/.308/.392, 0.8 WARAge 25: .253/.298/.358, 1.1 WARPlayer X:Age 23: .263/.319/.412, 0.4 WARAge 24: .258/.300/.362, 1.5 WARAdmittedly, Player X only had 271 games in those first two years, while Mr. Desmond played in 308. So, since WAR is cumulative, you should probably give Player X a few more mental tenths of a point in his age 23 season. This is not to suggest that Ian Desmond will ever reach the Hall of Fame, but the Cubs were probably a little too hasty in giving up on Lou Brock.

  90. Tom in AR - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:45 PM

    Surprised no one has mentioned him, but the guy that I dream about eventually joining this infield isn't Lombardozzi, it is Rendon. Every indication is that he should be on a fast track to the majors (I know he hasn't seen a professional pitch yet, but he had a full and productive college career). I guess the big question is if he stays at third to pressure Zim to extend, or if he starts learning second so that Espinosa can slide to SS and Desmond can move to the bench.

  91. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    Right, haters, no matter how logical, no matter how supported by the facts in their non-lust for Desmond should only have one shot, say it and shut up and move along, but gushing irrational praise for Desmond should echo over the flower covered and rainbow kissed valleys of Natstown. I can almost hear Up With People humming while smiling in the background. Yeah, if we don't tell the truth about Desmond it WILL go away.You must be reading a different blog, because I don't see any gushing irrational praise for Desmond here, except when demanded by some Desmond hater. "Tell me why Desmond doesn't suck. Otherwise, he sucks!"You know, it's not the Desmond hate that's so tiresome, it's the sheer repetitiveness of it. At least until the season starts and Desmond starts sucking anew (or not) can't you haters be content with stating your case once and leaving it at that? Is that too much to ask?

  92. Avar - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    @NatinBeantownIf you're using something like WAR, you can base that on historical performance because that factors in their injury history. Example, LaRoche has historically put up 2.5 WAR depite whatever time he may have missed during those years.Sure it is tricky to project young guys like Espi and Ramos. If you think they will regress, say how much and explain why.I'd love to see you present a projection in ranges and factor in likelihood of injuries and plan on a "reasonable" regression for Espi and Ramos.That's not sarcastic, I'd love to see it. We're all amateurs here so try to do these projections quick an dirty. They're all flawed – duh. Let's see yours.

  93. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    Eugene brings it!!It loses some traction when you compare Brock's age 25 season when he hit .315 with 200 hits versus Ian's 25 year-old season which was last year's not so sexy stat line, but impressive nonetheless.

  94. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    Desmond the Emporer is not wearing clothes. Delusions that he's clad in Ernie Banks' clothing need to go away until Desmond plays that way, if ever. Grumbling at blog posters for overdoing some complaining about anything is a fool's errand, btw.

  95. NatinBeantown - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    Avar, I'd be lost in the statistical dust of many here. I didn't mean "regression" in the quantitative sense, at least that I have evidence for presenting. I mean, in a discussion of expectations for this year, it's not reasonable to assume everyone who had a bad year rebounds and everyone who had a good year continues at that pace. Many here (but certainly not all) make that mistake.I don't hold out hope that Espi and Ramos will reproduce the solid offensive numbers from 2011, even including their respective slumps. I don't think Espi will hit 20 home runs. I do hope his walk rate climbs, but that will be tough in the #7 or #8 spot.But on second thought, spring is just around the corner, and maybe I should let hope overwhelm reason for a bit. It's one of the best parts of being a baseball fan.

  96. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    said anon@1:46:"…it's getting close to a forever ago that they game him the SS job."Yeah, a whole two seasons ago. That's certainly an eternity in anyone's book.

  97. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    2 plus full seasons of low rated D and lousy O for an everyday middle infielder? Desmond's O numbers regressed and his glove improved only to bottom quarter. He's been a minor-league caliber guy for 1,200 plate appearances. How much longer do you want eternity to be until you see this guy as the player he is?

  98. FS - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    RPrecupjr, if we can get few more insiders, we can make a league at espn or yahoo.Sec 3, as much as I like watching baseball, I have never tried playing it. mainly because I am not from here (refer to the X-files season 6, episode 19). But I would love to try this out or even softball.

  99. Unkyd - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    Anonymous said…Eugene brings it!!It loses some traction when you compare Brock's age 25 season when he hit .315 with 200 hits versus Ian's 25 year-old season which was last year's not so sexy stat line, but impressive nonetheless.February 06, 2012 2:53 PM—————-Ah!! I believe you've made Eugene's point!!! Extrapolating Brock's third season, gives us pause to consider the possibility that Desi may breakout, this year. Hey… Desi's prolly not Lou Brock, but by the end of May, he might be reasonably productive. Then, if Rendon sets MiLB on fire, we'll have something worth serious prospects, for next years Hot Stove…

  100. baseballswami - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    MLB Top Ten Now for shortstops showed Desi as one of the 3 ss that they think may break into the top ten next year. And their number 10 for this year is Jeter. Baseball minds see more in him than a lot of our fans do.I have no stake in him either way, but I do see that when challenged to improve on his errors, he did. I do see that he works hard, is a team guy and has a passion for the game. My guess is that he will continue to learn and grow as a player. Don't sell him too short, people who really know this game see a lot in him. You all seem to think Davey Johnson is such a great baseball guy and he thinks highly of him – so?

  101. Unkyd - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    Hear Him! Well spoke, Swami!

  102. Mark'd - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    These same guys finished 2011 on a high note. This game is all about talent and momentum and this pitching staff has it. The offense has some talent also. If they can start the year with some positive momentum there's no telling how far this team can go.Fast start!

  103. Cease the Opportunity - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    So we're on the 'it's Ian Desmond fault' parade again? I say that Ian Desmond is the starting SS in the 2012 All Star game…

  104. JimHoy - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    Tweet reports that Nats signed Mark Teahen to a minor league contract…

  105. DWS - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    As somebody posted weeks ago, nothing to see here move along.If nothing else Ian strikes me as a TEAM player and gives his all on every play. That is certainly worth something. Maybe that's why Davey likes him.And a 19 year old with the same fire just may make a difference.Pitching is there. Watch out. SF can do it, why can't we?Stop the "Negative waves man."

  106. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    Ian just needs to shut everyone up by playing to his potential. That would make this conversation go away.

  107. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    @anon3:181) In all honesty, 1200 MLB ABs is not that many. Another full season would go a long way toward establishing something definite. 2) While not good, Desmond's performance over his two seasons wasn't lousy when compared to other shortstops in the league. Below average, but not horridly so. 3) If you throw in the towel on Desi, who slots into his place in the lineup? And if you're going to lobby for Lombardozzi, what about his 1 XBH, 1 RBI performance last September makes you think he's ready? He looked overpowered and overmatched the entire time.

  108. Section 222 - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    I don't understand why people who express doubt about Desmond being our leadoff hitter or SS of the future, much less noting his shortcomings in the field, often supporting their opinions with statistics, are called "haters." I certainly don't hate Desmond, and I don't think anyone else here does either. And when the thread is discussing the lineup or the depth chart or the infield alignment, there is nothing wrong with noting that at this point Desmond is the one of the weakest links in the championship contender we're hoping is being constructed. One and done may apply to some teams in the playoffs, but there's no sense in applying it commenters, whether they are positive or negative. Otherwise, you'd have some pretty one-sided discussions.To anon@3:05, I wonder how many lousy seasons at SS Desi should be given before you would be will be willing to try something else? One more, two, three? I thought last year was going to be "make or break" for him. Now he's our default leadoff hitter. If he continues to underperform, should we bat him 3rd or 4th to see if that lineup spot agrees with him more?

  109. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    Ian just needs to shut everyone up by playing to his potential. That would make this conversation go away.Don't kid yourself. Desmond could hit .350/.450/1.25, and the argument would just become "It's not sustainable!"We had a couple of shots at Cristian Guzman the other day, and Riggleman "you will always have with you."captcha = "blest" As so we are, to have this to argue about.

  110. natsfan1a - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Maybe, but it would just be replaced by another debate about "player x, y, or z," 'cause it's baseball and the interwebz and all (I'm pretty sure that nobody ever shuts up on the interwebz). The good news is, there's a new post up. ;-) Ian just needs to shut everyone up by playing to his potential. That would make this conversation go away.?

  111. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    To anon@3:05, I wonder how many lousy seasons at SS Desi should be given before you would be will be willing to try something else? One more, two, three? I thought last year was going to be "make or break" for him. Now he's our default leadoff hitter. If he continues to underperform, should we bat him 3rd or 4th to see if that lineup spot agrees with him more? WADR, all we are doing here is killing time–P&C in 13 more days!–until something actually happens. We don't bat him third or fourth or leadoff, Davey does. So there's no real risk, there, in arguing for one or the other all day long, or in being wrong.FWIW, I think replacing him would take some serious doing on Rizzo's part at this point, so I don't expect it to happen soon.

  112. greg - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    on a minor league deal, i'm all for teahan. maybe he rediscovers enough stroke to be a better bench guy than chad tracey. and he (like derosa) can play some corner OF as well.

  113. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:12 PM

    @Section 222,I don't think there is any specific cutoff time, and to look at it that way is a false choice. Morevoer, I think it's unreasonable and unfair to see a guy's second season in the league as a "make or break" year. But if you're going to ask a guy to hit leadoff at the ML level, put him in that position and give him at least a half season to figure it out. Don't put him there for three weeks, then bounce him down to the 7 or 8 spot, then move him back up to the 2 hole the next month if he gets hot. Give him a real sustained opportunity to sink or swim in one role. If you're not willing to do that, then perhaps you should have dropped some cash on Jose Reyes. Because there aren't many sure things in the leadoff spot. As for hitting him 3rd or 4th, I'm absolutely certain that isn't a serious consideration.

  114. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    It is hard to argue that Desmond needs more of a chance to prove himself. Mark Teahan will confirm that some 4th round picks don't pan out, some 1st rounders too.

  115. DaBone - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    Dezi gets a bad rap because of the team's record and who he's batting around. If this team had been in the playoffs you would have heard the talking-heads speaking of his great range and arm. He makes errors on balls other SS wouldn't get close to. This is still a young man. Lets hope the Dezi we get in 2012 is the one that Davey saw leadoff the 2nd half of 2011.

  116. Anonymous - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    The facts don't support the statement that Desi gets to balls other guys don't, his range has middle of the pack or worse. His arm strength is very good, his range is OK and he has good hands. His problem is his brain. He has lapses that are agonizingly bad. Some guys don't hit well until the second half, but Desi does not field well until the season's half cooked. That is not a quality that a winning club can tolerate from its SS. Ian needs to bring the leather in 2012 or his career as a Nat is over. No place to stash him with the pipe as full as it is.

  117. John C. - Feb 7, 2012 at 2:47 AM

    Sec 3, My Sofa said…FS said…is anyone interested in playing fantasy baseball here?how about actual baseball? Just curious how many still lace 'em up.I still play, actually in a couple of local leagues. One 48+ league and one 35+ league (for which, chronologically at least, I am wildly overqualified :-)

  118. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:03 AM

    Ponce and MSBL. If you're the John C. I'm guessing, I think we played together a couple of summers ago.: )

  119. Hopeful2012 - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    Knowing that the best 25 do not always go North because of buisness reasons here is my take on the roster that heads north:CATCHERWilson RamosJesus FloresFIRST BASEAdam LaRocheChad TracySECOND BASEDanny EspinosaMark DeRosaSHORTSTOPIan DesmondAndres BlancoTHIRD BASERyan ZimmermanLEFT FIELDMichael MorseCENTER FIELDRick AnkielRoger BernadinaRIGHT FIELDJayson WerthSTARTING PITCHERSStephen StrasburgJordan ZimmermannGio GonzalezEdwin JacksonChien-Ming WangBULLPENRoss DetwilerTom GorzelannyDrew StorenTyler ClippardBrad LidgeSean BurnettHenry Rodriguez

  120. Cwj - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    Hopeful2012- I think you nailed it.

  121. ehay2k - Feb 8, 2012 at 12:02 AM

    Desi stays because:I already own a Desmond ShirseyHis ARM – not every throw is perfect, but he and Espi can easily turn tough double plays that a lot of other tandems dream about.Power – he can crush it. He just needs to not try to do it every time. It is his over-achieving effort that causes him to underachieve. Who is the perfect person to teach him that? I think DJ is. (If Desi's improvements in the last 2 months of 2011 were the result of DJ's tutelage, then there is hope.)Improvement. Desi seems to improve every year, at least defensively. I do not trust UZR and other defensive stats – too much subjectivity there from the start for me. I believe my eyes. What I see is that he no longer tries to make a throw when he really has no chance. He gets his body in front of the ball now where before he would ALWAYS pick it from the side. Desi has a very high upside, and appears to be coachable which means he might actually reach his potential. He is NOT Elijah Dukes or FLop. That is why, in my book, Desi stays.

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