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Mid-spring roster projection

Mar 6, 2014, 7:45 AM EDT

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It’s been exactly three weeks since Nationals pitchers and catchers reported for spring training. And exactly three weeks from today, the Nats will break camp in Viera and head north in anticipation of the 10th Opening Day in club history.

Obviously, there’s still plenty of work to be done between now and March 27, and there’s still much that can change. But we’ve learned quite a bit about this team (and its new manager) over the last three weeks, enough to make some calculated guesses about its eventual roster.

Here, then, is a projected 25-man roster as things stand to date…

CATCHERS (2)
Wilson Ramos
Jose Lobaton

Outlook: Nothing really to explain here. One of the Nationals’ biggest question marks entering camp was the identity of their No. 2 catcher, and GM Mike Rizzo took care of that on the very first day, trading right-hander Nate Karns to the Rays for Lobaton and two prospects. Ramos, meanwhile, appears to be in great physical shape and has been crushing the ball so far this spring.

INFIELDERS (6)
Adam LaRoche
Anthony Rendon
Ian Desmond
Ryan Zimmerman
Danny Espinosa
Tyler Moore

Outlook: For all that talk of an “open competition” at second base, this thing has looked shut from Day One. Rendon has been getting the bulk of the time at second base, while Espinosa has spent more time at shortstop. The Nats want him to be their utility infielder. Defensively, he’s outstanding at both spots up the middle. Offensively, he’s 0-for-10 this spring but is taking the ball the other way much more and has struck out just once. Zimmerman has looked fine at third base thus far and is just beginning to get some work at first base (though not yet in a game). If Zim actually proves ready for spot duty at first, Moore is going to have a tough time finding his way into the lineup. But he’s still the Nats’ best offensive option for the final spot on the bench, beating out Jamey Carroll, Zach Walters and Jeff Kobernus.

OUTFIELDERS (5)
Bryce Harper
Denard Span
Jayson Werth
Nate McLouth
Scott Hairston

Outlook: Harper’s surgically repaired knee, a major question entering camp, doesn’t appear to be an issue at all. He’s running well and killing the ball at the plate. Werth’s Grapefruit League debut was delayed due to biceps soreness, but he finally played yesterday and put up a typical Werth spring debut line: 2 plate appearances, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 0 swings. McLouth and Hairston are locked in as the backups, with McLouth serving as Williams’ first option at all three outfield spots when one of the starters needs a day off.

ROTATION (5)
Stephen Strasburg
Gio Gonzalez
Jordan Zimmermann
Doug Fister
Ross Detwiler

Outlook: Strasburg appears healthy after minor elbow surgery. Gonzalez and Zimmermann are their usual, reliable selves. Fister has been one of the stars of camp, impressing everyone with his pitching acumen as well as his fundamental skills in the field and at the plate. The fifth spot is legitimately up for grabs, but the edge here goes to Detwiler over Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan because his selection rocks the fewest boats and still puts the other guys in position to be called upon should something go wrong along the way.

BULLPEN (7)
Rafael Soriano
Tyler Clippard
Drew Storen
Jerry Blevins
Craig Stammen
Tanner Roark
Luis Ayala

Outlook: This remains the most unsettled situation in camp, with the last two spots very much up in the air with three weeks to go. Soriano has yet to appear in a game, but that’s by design. Clippard and Storen each debuted the last two days. Blevins has been solid in his first two outings and is going to have major responsibilities as potentially the only left-hander in the pen. The durable Stammen will remain a valuable piece to the puzzle. Roark makes the club here because of his ability to go multiple innings and even make a last-minute start in case of emergency. The last spot could go to any of seven guys (Ayala, Ryan Mattheus, Manny Delcarmen, Christian Garcia, Clay Hensley, Xavier Cedeno or the newly signed Michael Gonzalez) so this one is hardly written in stone. But Williams does seem to like Ayala, a veteran who induces a ton of groundballs and who could prove valuable as a guy summoned from the pen to escape a tight jam.

  1. nats128 - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:00 AM

    “But he’s still the Nats’ best offensive option for the final spot on the bench, beating out Jamey Carroll, Zach Walters and Jeff Kobernus.”

    Interesting that you have TyMo as your last guy on the bench. I find Hairston and Tymo to be a duplication and Moore to have more to give the team in flexibility as he hits RHPs better and can play 1st.

    Against LHPs the infield could be RZ at 3rd, Desi SS, Rendon at 2B and TyMo at 1st.

    This opens up a spot for Jamey Carroll or Zach Walters and yes it means the Nats eat $2 million for Hairston’s contract.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:12 AM

      Hard to see them ditching Hairston for Carroll or Walters – they don’t clearly gain anything at the plate (with Carroll, they surely lose), and they also lose a back up OF to add another mid-IF to the bench.

      Hairston hits LHP much better than Ty Mo, by the way. And I cringe less when I see him in the OF, so there’s that.

  2. Hiram Hover - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    Astute observations as always – thanks, Mark.

    I’m not sold on Ayala and a BP with only one lefty–or rather, I’m not sold on the first part, and I’m not sure Matt Williams is sold on the second part.

    Since you’re making projections – since Ayala is only on a minor league contract, if he makes it, someone has to come off the roster to make room. Who will that be – maybe they decide Ryan Mattheus’ day-to-day rib injury suddenly looks more serious?

  3. karlkolchak - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    No mention of Ohlendorf. I know he isn’t in consideration for a rotation spot, but no love for him in the pen, either? Or did he get hurt and I just missed it?

    • wearenationals - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      “It’s a skin on his finger issue… split it open. So, we’ve got to make sure that he’s good to go.” – Matt Williams on Ross Ohlendorf’s delayed start

  4. karlkolchak - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    BTW – Werth looks like he’s wear a fat suit in that picture. :D

    • ehay2k - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:43 AM

      Livo’s influence, no doubt. ☺

  5. sjm308 - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    Thanks Mark

    I am wondering what kind of contract Cedeno is on & the chances we lose him if he is not on the 25 man roster. It’s not a huge deal to me but I really like 2 lefties in the pen. Then again, I like ayala’s story & remember him from RFK days.

    Go Nats!

  6. Theophilus T.S. - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    I’m assuming Hairston has nasty pictures of Rizzo in a safety deposit box somewhere. Hanging on to him is antithetical to principles of sound management. You pick the players that make your team better, not those who make it look like you’re playing eight guys against nine (on his better days). Carroll is a better PH even if not a power hitter (but you’re keeping Moore around for that limited purpose). The Nats do not need five OFs plus Moore on the big league roster. If two of them concuss each other in an OF collision there’ll be three guys at Syracuse who are better OFs than Hairston, are already on the 40-man roster, and are less than 24 hours from the Big City. On the other hand, an extra utility IF could be a real blessing. Assume, hypothetically, Rendon is down for the day with a flu bug and Desmond tweaks a hammy running out a ground ball. Who would fill the hole in the IF now? Are you going to move LaRoche to 3B so Z’man can play short?

    Keep Carroll. Sell Hairston to the Nippon Ham Fighters.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:11 AM

      I don’t get the hate for Hairston. He’s clearly not a great player, and he had a really bad season last year. But then again, so did Carroll–Carroll had an OPS+ of 45 last year. Hairston was at 74

      Looking at their stats for the last three years, Carroll hit better for average and walked more, so his BA and OBP were higher. But Carroll so completely lacks power (1 HR in the last 3 years, vs. 37 for Hairston, in about 40% fewer ABs) that Carroll’s OPS+ is significantly lower–about 85 for Carroll and 105 for Hairston.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:13 AM

        PS – Tyler Moore’s OPS+ last year was 66, and he doesn’t hit lefties nearly as well as Hairston does.

      • letswin3 - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        Moore and Walters solve several situations. I don’t hate Carroll or Hairston, I just want to hear the loud bats. And Walters is a switch-hitter to boot. I understand Walters plate discipline issues, but he keeps on grabbing attention with his power bat …. and his glove has looked much better, if not quite “there” yet. Forget salary comparrisons when selecting the 25 who can get ya to the promise land.

  7. Doc - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    If Ayala makes the team, it means a poor spring for some of the guys for whom we had high competitive expectations, e.g. Solis, Cedeno, Garcia,etc.

    It’s a long season, and ‘Cuse isn’t that far away. Regardless whoever makes the team out of ST, we’re going to see some of these guys sooner, rather than later.

  8. #4 - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    I just don’t see how Storen, Ayala, and Stammen all make the team. It would seem they are too similar in terms of their potential roles.

    • unkyd59 - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      So, Storen is set-up/closer, Stammen and Ayala are RH middle relief, and Stammen can go long…. What am I missing…..?

  9. Theophilus T.S. - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    HH: ” He’s clearly not a great player.” That’s like saying Warren G. Harding was “clearly not a great president.”
    Hairston is not only not great he’s also not “good,” or even “mediocre.” The only debate is whether he is “poor” or “bad.” He had one aberrational season w/ the Mets (and bamboozled the Cubs so badly they were eager to get rid of him a quarter of the way through his contract). You can’t let him hit against RHs; the Nats probably have three pitchers who hit RHs better than Hairston. He really can’t hit LHs either (.214); if you want to lionize him for his “power” then I bet you spend all day pulling at the nickel slots, too.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      Oh come on, Theo. The question is whether he’s worse than Carroll, and the numbers are against you. And yes, power is one component of offense, which is why looking only at BA is misleading.

      But you already knew that, which is why you dragged Warren Harding and nickel slots into the discussion. I’d have gone with Andy Johnson and Powerball myself, but to each his own.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:46 AM

        Theo wouldn’t make a good politician as he doesn’t sugarcoat things although it’s hard to dispute what he is saying. Hairston just can’t hit RHPs and it’s the Matt Stairs argument all over again. Hairston is a declining career .226 hitter w/ a .284 career OBP vs RHPs. Hairston was exposed and exploited by opposing Managers who brought in the RHP to face him.

        In 2013 Hairston hit .097 vs RHPs w/ a .276 OPS. The Nats have pitchers who have better OPS vs RHPs.

        Still Rizzo has shown a stubborness in correcting his own mistakes on players with veteran contracts in Spring Training.

        What does this all mean? Hairston probably makes the OD roster and gets DFA’d around May 5th.

        By the way, Jamey Carroll has already showed that he can handle a bat and his baseball IQ is off the charts. He hits behind runners to advance them and gets in a rundown on an attempted steal to score a runner from 3rd and he’s done that in the 1st week of Spring.

        My bench is McLouth, Lobaton then I take the best 3 to fill out the rest of the bench.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:33 AM

        natinalsgo

        Thanks for making the case more politely. Yes, Hairston is abysmal vs RHP, and yes, Carroll beats him on BA and OBP, which is what I said in my first post. (But let’s be clear – Carroll last year slashed .211/.267/.251, so he is not exactly a prize either).

        Power isn’t everything but you can’t ignore it in evaluating a bench bat. When you include it–using OPS, OPS+, wRC+, whatever–Hairston comes out ahead of Carroll. If he doesn’t produce in the early months of the season, then yes, they absolutely should cut him–as they should any other bench player.

        Carroll is a nice guy, a good clubhouse presence, high baseball IQ, etc. He could make a great coach, but at 40 yo, his productive days are on the field are dwindling, if not entirely past.

      • therealjohnc - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        Oh come on – Hairston had a crappy season last year especially against RHP. Even in his crappy year Hairston had ten HRs in 126 at bats against LHP. Hairston’s reason for being is to make the opposing manager think twice about bringing in a LHP against Span, LaRoche or McLouth (Harper is going to hit regardless). It’s also just silly to say that a .214 BA means he didn’t hit lefties last year. His OPS vs. lefties was .743. Not great, but above league average production (his split OPS+ was 105).

        And natinalsgo, really? You’re going to hang your argument on Hairston’s OPS vs. RHP in 2013, which occurred in a grand total of 31 at bats? For comparison, in 2012 his OPS vs. RHP was .739 in 188 at bats. In 2011 it was .886 in 51 at bats.

        No, there isn’t a pitcher on the roster who is more likely to be effective vs. a LH or a RH pitcher than Hairston. There just isn’t.

      • letswin3 - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:50 PM

        I hear that Fister clearly knows which end of a bat is the business end. I’m anxious to see him hit.

  10. Section 222 - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    I would hope that McLouth will get most of the OF starts when our starters are getting a rest. Much as I dislike the idea of infielders playing the outfield, Ty-Mo now has enough experience to fill in for a game or two in LF if needed. So the real question is who will be a better late inning pinch hitter — Hairston or the runner-up for the utility infield position. To me, that’s Carroll if Espi is the utility infielder, but I can see the contrary argument. Neither is a great fit. I could also see keeping Walters on the bench, though I’d rather see him play every day in AAA to improve his fielding.

    The most important thing is to be ready to make a move in mid-May if whoever we keep can’t hit above the Mendoza line. Between Stairs and Tracy, we have too many examples of failed PHs sticking around too long.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      +1 on the Mendoza group that always stay too long. I was just predicting rather lamenting that above in my comments on Hairston. His defense is so poor I really think TyMo is better. The problem is the same. The 5th outfielder does need to be righty and has to be either good enough with the bat and good enough with the glove to put him out there.

      I feel bad for our pitchers any time the Nats have to go to a 5th outfielder as there is nobody I see outside of Michael Taylor who is that righty OF but he’s not ready.

      It’s the only flaw on this team. How’s Kobernus defense in LF? I know they list him as a LF and 2B in the depth chart. Souza and Eury and TyMo are the others.

    • David Proctor - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      It will be a platoon in the OF when someone needs a rest. Against righties, McLouth would start. Against lefties, Hairston would. So yes, McLouth will get most of the OF starts as there are far more righties than lefties.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:15 AM

        Well duh yah that’s what the predictions are and my point is Hairston is a poor 5th outfielder defensively and when he offensively has to face a RHP. Hopefully they won’t need him much but then again it’s like playing with Matt Stairs all over again.

      • pdowdy83 - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:13 PM

        This argument about Hairston facing righties is pointless. He get very few at bats against them. His job is to crush lefties or force a team to not put a lefty reliever in to face a guy like Span or Laroche. Over his last 572 plate appearances Hairston has 30 homers. 30 in what amounts to about a full season. The Diamondbacks traded 2 major prospects for a guy who hits 30 homers a year with no OBP or defensive skills for Pete’s sake. Why does everyone have such an issue with Hairston? Matt stairs he is not.

  11. tcostant - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    I think Tanner Roark will win the 5th starter job. I really do…

    • letswin3 - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:56 PM

      I’m leaning that way too, tcostant. It also gives us a “lights out” second lefty in the BP in Det (and Det could even go multiple innings if forced to enter a game early). Roark just looks to have found his way, and he looks confident doing it too.

      • realdealnats - Mar 6, 2014 at 7:41 PM

        TCon & Win3–
        Agreed.

        Det will be #5. And I hope he proves us/me wrong. But what I foresee is Det initially #5 and running into trouble around mid-May, when I would not be surprised to see him shift to the BP and Roark shift to #5. Wild to say I know, but seems very possible to me.

        Comparing toughness–even on a small sample as we have with Roark–I think he wins that contest most every time. He seems to be the type of guy who guts things out and finds a way to win. I’m just going on the last part of 2013, and not on his minor league stats. Might not be rational but let’s see what happens. And as a few of us have been saying for a while, Det gives us a power arm in the BP that’s LHed, he can pitch a couple to a few innings if need be, he doesn’t have to see batters twice in a game, and it is not as essential that he master his most recent pitch he’s been working on.

  12. David Proctor - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    We have two guys on the sure hands leaderboard: Span and Werth.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-all-sure-handed-team/

    “Using the new Inside Edge leaderboards, we can find out fairly quickly which players made the plays they were supposed to last year. Only nine players made every single play that 60%+ of baseball ‘should’ have made: David Murphy, Buster Posey, Denard Span, Andrew McCutchen, Josh Reddick, Brandon Barnes, Jayson Werth and Marlon Byrd.”

    • NatsLady - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      So, according to this, Jayson doesn’t have great range but he makes 100% of the plays he “should” make. He is one smart feller.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      They didn’t do an unsure handed team, but Zim might make it, or at least rate 2d team.

      Among players with at least 400 innings at 3B, he was the second lowest in % of routine plays made, at 93.9%.

      I know, I know – last year’s performance was atypical, and better in the last months than earlier. But it is a reminder of how poorly he played in 2013.

  13. David Proctor - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    James Wagner ‏@JamesWagnerWP 34s
    Nats lineup vs. Braves: Rendon 4, Espinosa 6, McLouth 8, Moore 3, Rhymes 5, Hairston 7, Lobaton 2, Peterson DH, Souza 9. Zimmermann SP.

    Rendon batting leadoff tonight. That’s interesting. McLouth batting 3 is hilarious.

  14. alexva6 - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    If I had to pick a longshot to make the roster it would be Peterson.

    Moore just has not shown the ability to be a part time player.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:09 PM

      who is peterson? or did you mean Patterson?

      • wearenationals - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:46 PM

        Brock Peterson. He played DH and 1B over the weekend. He wont make the trip to DC from what I saw.

      • cayucosbaseballconservancy - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:18 PM

        Brock Peterson is a 30 year old career minor league type but last year in AAA he demolished the league. He hit .296/.364/.895 with 25 homers and 30 doubles ripping through the PCL while with the Card’s organization. Kind of a late blooming Michael Morse wannabe. 49th round draft pick originally.

      • cayucosbaseballconservancy - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:25 PM

        Peterson was the best hitter on the Card’s AAA affiliate and that’s saying something right there given the level of talent that always seems to persist in that organization. A 23.9 Bat Value (offensive WAR) led all the Cards along with a .399 wOBA. Not a very good fielder tho …

  15. scnatsfan - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    I love the fact we are excited Espi makes a better quality of outs now.

    • David Proctor - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:32 AM

      Results in the Spring are literally useless. The process is more important. So if the process is good, that’s all I care about. I think that’s what Matt Williams was saying too.

      It’s not like Rendon has hit any better this Spring, but he’s had good ABs too.

  16. natsguy - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    I sure wish he would make those better quality outs in Syracuse. If he goes North this will be a hard team for me to watch this year. As much as a fan as I am I cannot stand to watch that guy. I’ll probably take it North to the Seattle Mariners (my American League team) for awhile.

    • David Proctor - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:38 AM

      You’re going to stop watching the team because you dislike the utility infielder? Okay…

  17. philipd763 - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Forget Detwiler! If he’s the fifth starter, the Nats are in trouble.

  18. Section 222 - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    DP, I have to disagree with you on your platoon comment. McLouth will get most of the outfield starts because he’s a good outfielder. Hairston can only play left and his arm is a real liability. Williams will time the days off to make sure they mostly come against RH pitching. So yes, any starts Hairston gets will be against LH pitching, but my prediction is that Hairston will get very few starts, if any, until we clinch the division. :-)

    • David Proctor - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      McLouth hit .209 against lefties last year and has hit .221 against them in his career. Hopefully none of our starters get hurt and we don’t need Hairston much, but if someone goes down, it’ll be a platoon.

      • Section 222 - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        If someone goes down, sure. Or they bring up Goodwin perhaps if someone goes on the DL. We were talking about spot starts to give the starting outfielders rest. I predict those days will generally be against RH pitchers and McLouth will get the ABs.

  19. Drew - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    Choosing between Warren Harding and Andrew Johnson is like picking between Daniel Cabrera and Henry Rodriguez.

    That said, James Buchanan was even worse — the Sgt. Schultz of secession.
    “I see no-thing!”

    I shudder to think of the baseball equivalent.

    • ArVAFan - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      Hey, quit picking on my extremely remote relative! Just because he and Warren Harding trade places at the bottom of the president’s list (depending on who’s writing the list). I say Harding was worse because Buchanan didn’t personally profit from his ineptitude.

      Baseball equivalent? How about Mr. “Where was he going?! What was he thinking?!”

    • Section 222 - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:47 PM

      Matt Stairs?

      • ArVAFan - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:58 PM

        Nook Logan.

    • realdealnats - Mar 6, 2014 at 7:46 PM

      Who was the guy who signed up Smiley?

  20. naterialguy - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    I think if a trade can be worked out Zack Walters takes Espinosa’s spot.

    • scnatsfan - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      I can’t imagine him moving at the low point of his value. If Walters takes the spot then Espi heads to Syracuse.

    • cayucosbaseballconservancy - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:01 PM

      Y’all worry too much about whether Espinosa makes the team, starts, plays … mien gott!!!]

      Y’all need to give up Espinosa bashing for Lent for crying out loud?

      Look the guy is their best fielder at second and shortstop and let’s face it they haven’t tried it yet but undoubtedly he could play third. From what I’ve seen of Walter’s in Syracuse he’s a better third bagger than he is a shortstop. AND? Espy brings high ceiling potential offensively if he can remain reasonably unscathed both physically and mentally. Whereas the long departed Alberto Gonzalez did not albeit he did bring a glove. Espy also features a platoon bat as does Walters. But Rendon does not.

      When you look at this squad you have to try to see it from Rizzo’s eyes. He’s not kidding when he says he wants people who can help him now and in the future. Right there you basically can exclude Jamie Carroll age 40. If anyone looks like a Matt Stairs to be its Carroll at this stage of his career. Espinosa, Walters, Rendon that’s the future. If you look at Desmond at shortstop here’s a guy who will be able to command a pretty decent multi-year salary soon. The Nats already have Werth and Zimmerman in that category. How many more will Rizzo be able to convince ownership to follow suit with? Given the Media/TV MASN situation which is grim.

      You just may need ALL Three on the roster for that reason. After these three young infielders there really isn’t anything else on the horizon. Closest is Kobernus. The first three all have star potential. All three are 26 or younger. That’s the future.

      • scmargenau - Mar 7, 2014 at 3:25 AM

        Stop. Just stop.

  21. Doc - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    RE: DP’s quoted Inside Edge Leaderboard

    Span is an obvious choice. Werth, regardless of UZR, makes the plays that a smart RF should make, and always has.

    Hope he’s working with Gio on covering 1st!

    • NatsLady - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      This reminds me of something that’s difficult to judge from outside, namely, leaders on the team. If you’ve been on the internetz since yesterday you’ve heard the remarks Ian Kinsler made about Texas. In particular, after he signed a big contract, they asked/expected him to be a leader. He claims that that role took energy out of him when he wanted to focus on himself.

      Now, I don’t know much about Kinsler or controversies in Texas–of which there were apparently a multitude–but it made me think about whether being leader on the team DOES take energy out of a guy. And I think that it does, which makes Werth’s performance last year even more impressive. RZ, much as we love him, says that he “leads by example” which says to me he leads by his performance on the field and by keeping his nose clean off it.

      Werth, on the other hand, takes a more active role, from Zach Walters’ shoelaces to Gio not covering his base. He is the “go-to” guy for reporters so the other guys can shower, dress, and depart in peace. On TV, I watched him in almost constant conversation with MW (except when Knorr slipped in between them–as per the apparent pecking order.) I have a strong feeling that the team’s “lack of urgency” in the first half of last season was due in part to Werth’s absence, and I remember thinking I wished he were traveling with the team. Werth came back, saw Davey tired and probably in a lot of pain. Werth said, this CAN be done, and he almost did it.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:00 PM

        Great post NL. I think it takes a lot of mental energy and Werth’s job when he came to DC was to clean up the clubhouse and the casualties included Nyjer Morgan and probably some other slackers and eventually the Manager.

        Now Werth has the clubhouse and he doesn’t need Lieutenants like Stairs as he has Ian Desmond and the respect of everyone.

        If Espinosa is on this team Jayson has his work cut out for him. Rumors die hard and we all heard the rumors of Espinosa sulking. Can’t afford clubhouse issues.

      • cayucosbaseballconservancy - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:29 PM

        We also “heard the rumors” of Espinosa working way too hard, harder than pretty much anyone else, not complaining about any injury because it might preclude playing time. Its said he can be stubborn but you don’t ‘sulk’ and work as hard as Davey said he did. Right?

      • realdealnats - Mar 6, 2014 at 7:51 PM

        +1

  22. natinalsgo - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    Gross, I have NBC Sports ads all over this page for Orioles gear.

    Really????

  23. Section 222 - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    Interesting thoughts on leadership NL. That commercial with Zim always bugged me. Leading by example? That sounded a bit like saying, I don’t really have time or inclination to take charge in the clubhouse. Seems to me that Werth and Desi are the leaders on this team, rather than Zim. And Harper’s waiting in the wings.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 6, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      I think perception is your reality and that’s my perception also.

      That is why I heard the clubhouse was a mess before Werth because nobody wanted to lead.

    • David Proctor - Mar 6, 2014 at 3:08 PM

      Maybe, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Some people are natural leaders and some aren’t. If Zim tried to be someone he’s not, grown men are going to see right through that. So it’s good we brought some leadership onto the team, but I don’t fault Zim for not assuming that role.

    • letswin3 - Mar 6, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      Yeah, it’s Werth and Desi. And I too noticed Werth hanging around the new skipper virtually all the time in the dugout … with almost non-stop discussions. Frankly, I’ve concluded that Danny won’t be a problem (there is no doubt he sulked .. we saw him sitting alone last season, when he was benched, and frowning, even when a teammate got an rbi or did something positive) because Rizzo has a plan to move him. The only hesitation in moving him sooner rather than later concerns finding a competent backup middle infielder, and he might be hoping that Walters will let him make that move. I might be wrong, and Rizzo is instead working on a deal to move Danny while adding a seasoned infielder (with a bigger bat than Carroll) to the bench, but, regardless of all that, I can’t help but think that Danny’s days as a National are numbered.

      • cayucosbaseballconservancy - Mar 6, 2014 at 6:11 PM

        You mean like Alberto Gonzalez? Now there was a young, very competent MI who really did ‘sulk’. And yeah they got rid of him because his bat was never going to be anything to write home about and he wasn’t happy with his role as utility guy.

        I think there’s a difference between ‘sulking’ and feeling overwhelmed. When someone works too hard, puts out so much effort, suffers injury after injury and all they have at the end is poor performance at the plate (but not
        in the field)?

        I think Danny was more than a bit depressed in Syracuse initially and didn’t field up to his usual standards. That more than anything else is why he wasn’t recalled at the end of the year. And come to find out he was suffering from a broken wrist the entire time?

        Give the guy with a torn rotator cuff, and broken wrist a break will ya?

  24. David Proctor - Mar 6, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Werth approves of Williams’ philosophy of aggressive baserunning and has some interesting thoughts on it himself.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2014/03/06/jayson-werth-on-the-nationals-baserunning/

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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

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