“Who’s on first. What’s on second. I Don’t Know’s on third.” This classic comedy routine by Golden Age comedians, Abbott and Costello has been illustrated by artist John Martz in a book. This sketch is well known and loved by baseball fans alike and I make no exception for myself. What got me excited about this book was reading it to my five year old son, who’s just starting to take an interest in learning more about baseball. We play catch and hit balls fairly often and he’s really taking a shine to doing that. (more…)
Yes, Anthony Rizzo is raking at Iowa right now and Brett Jackson is the OF of the Cubs very near future, but Adrian Cardenas needs to be called up now and replace either Ian Stewart or Blake DeWitt on the active roster, and get a lions share of the time as a three-bagger.
Stewart is picking up where he left off last season with a triple slash line of .188/.258/.318. This is compared to .333/.376/.544 of Cardenas at AAA Iowa right now. Cardenas been playing mostly second base but has also seen action at shortstop and third base. (more…)
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis, Fantasy, On the Farm - Prospects | Tagged: Adrian Cardenas, Alfonso Soriano, Anthony Rizzo, Blake DeWitt, Brett Jackson, Bryan LaHair, Chicago Cubs, Ian Stewart, Jeff Baker, Joe Mather, Jose Bautista, Matt Szczur, Prospects, Starlin Castro, Tony Campana | Leave a Comment »
In our third installment, we’ll take a look at what options the Cubs have an the infield while they work to build their 25 man roster.
Aramis Ramirez: The longest tenured third baseman since Ron Santo has left Chicago and now plays for the rival Brewers. It’s going to take a lot to replace his production in the lineup, but I really think it’s time for Ramirez to move on. He’s not a clubhouse and team leader. With a younger team taking the field, veteran leaders are going to be more important than ever.
Carlos Pena: In a typical Scott Boras move, Pena signed a one year deal with the Cubs last season in hopes to boost this worth for a long term contract. It didn’t work out with him batting .225 but hitting a team leading 28 home runs. Between Pena and Ramirez that’s 54 HRs and over 170 RBIs gone from the previous season. We might see an increase in Starlin Castro‘s throwing errors without Pena scooping everything he can reach. He’s back on the Rays. (more…)
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis | Tagged: Adrian Cardenas, Alfredo Amezaga, Anthony Rizzo, Aramis Ramirez, Blake DeWitt, Bobby Scales, Bryan LaHair, Carlos Pena, Chicago Cubs, D.J. LeMahieu, Darwin Barney, Edgar Gonzalez, Geovany Soto, Ian Stewart, Jason Jaramillo, Jeff Baker, Junior Lake, Koyie Hill, Matt Tolbert, Starlin Castro, Steve Clevenger, Welington Castillo | 3 Comments »
In my second installment of looking towards the Cubs 2012 season, we’re going to examine the options the Cubs have in to fill out their bullpen roster.
Sean Marshall: Marshall is one of the best left handed relievers in the game at this current moment. I think very highly of Sean Marshall both in terms of a player and human being. As much as I hated to see him go, Epstein and Co. made the 100% correct decision and sell Marshall high.
John Grabow: Not a very good last couple of injury laden seasons for the lefty. Marshall replaced him the last two seasons as the go to lefty, and when given a chance didn’t pitch effectively. Recently signed an MiLB deal with the Dodgers.
Angel Guzman: Not quite a key departure so to speak, but the one time “end all be all pitcher” for the Cubs has finally left the organization. He had major shoulder surgery 2010 that was deemed career threatening, and was working his way back up the minor league chain. He recently signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis | Tagged: Aaron Heilman, Andy Sonnanstine, Angel Guzman, Blake Parker, Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs, Chris Carpenter, Frank Batista, James Russell, Jeff Beliveau, Jeff Samardzija, John Gaub, John Grabow, Kerry Wood, Kyle Smit, Manny Corpas, Marcos Mateo, Rafael Dolis, Scott Maine, Sean Marshall, Ted Lilly, Trever Miller | 4 Comments »
In my first installment of seven where I’m going to look at the outlook of the Cubs 2012 season. I’ll examine the options the Cubs have for their starting rotation
Carlos Zambrano: Good riddance. He was a cancer on the team and major distraction. Anything they would get in return for him, Chris Volstad in this case, makes me view this as a positive deal for the Cubs.
Andrew Cashner: I’ve been vocal about liking this kid, and I still like the kid a lot, but when you can single-handily flip him into Anthony Rizzo you have to take that opportunity. I like Cashner pitching in San Diego.
Realistic Rotation Options
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis | Tagged: Andrew Cashner, Andy Sonnanstine, Carlos Zambrano, Casey Coleman, Chicago Cubs, Chris Volstad, Dillon Maples, Jay Jackson, Matt Garza, Nick Struck, Paul Maholm, Randy Wells, Robert Whitenack, Rodrigo Lopez, Ryan Dempster, Sean Marshall, Trades, Travis Wood, Trey McNutt | 3 Comments »
Writers note: This is for nonsensical entertainment purposes only. After getting past my personal bias towards these two players, I wholeheartedly agree with both of these moves. Merry Christmas!
Dear Epstein/Hoyer & Co:
Your team has already traded D.J. LeMahieu and it appears that Sean Marshall is also on his way out, to a division rival no less! These two gentlemen happen to be my two favorite players in the organization, with Marshall being my current favorite among all the players in the Majors.
Your move Sirs!
Mr. Jim Hendry. I am one happy Cubs fan that you’ve made your way out of town; however, you can leave the head coach you hired around for a while to help rebuild the team. You were fired July 22nd, but helped the team get through the trade deadline and the only move you made was to move Kosuke Fukudome, for a couple of mediocre relievers? Nice work chief. Glad you stuck around for another month; you helped out the team _so_ much! Alright, alright, I will admit, I’m impressed that a good number of their draft picks got signed including first rounder Javier Baez, Trevor Gretzky, and Shawon Dunston Jr. (can anybody say SHAWON-O-METER!!!). I will give you that and that only. Only because the Ricketts family allowed you to go over slotted bonus demands and spend on the players, they were able to be signed. More players needed to be moved off the roster to make room to audition the young kids in the minor league system.
I could go on and on about how Hendry hurt the Cubs over the years, but I don’t want to bore to death. He made some good moves, plenty of bad moves, and couple of head scratchers. Sure, he helped create some playoff teams, back-to-back teams at that, which has been no easy feat for the Cubs over the years. He’s often traded off a lot of what little farm talent they had for a mediocre veteran to graze the pastures of Wrigley to ease into the decline of their career.
Randy Bush, the assistant General Manager promoted to interim GM, should do more than a fine job finishing out the season. I truly hope he calls up a few young kids to get a taste of what is to come for them. I’d like D.J. LeMahieu, Brett Jackson (tearing up AAA), Rebel Ridling (.304 20 HRs 74 RBIs at AA), Ryan Flaherty, and maybe even Josh Vitters to get some work with the big league team this year. As you may or may not have noticed, these are all fielders and not pitchers. The pitchers in the farm system are either not ready, or not good enough at AAA. It’s been struggle for the pitchers this season, especially in Des Moines. Kyle Smit, Nicholas Struck, Jay Jackson, and Robert Whitenack (assuming he comes back from Tommy John surgery) all have a shot at contributing in the years to come, but their time is not right now. The Cubs are doing fine in regards to their minor league development, but it will get better with a new GM in town next season.
The Ricketts family has said they’re going to shop outside the organization for the new GM. There are a few interesting GMs that could be able to be had. Billy Beane, Brian Cashman, Theo Epstein and others have had their names tossed as possible candidates. One thing for will be for certain; the Ricketts will be hiring a big time, big name GM to replace Hendry. Think about the potential with the team, and to be the famed GM that ends the Cubs drought as World Series champions. I would like to point out hat Mr. Epstein was the man who broke “The Babe Ruth Curse”. Who’s the man for the job? I’m not for sure. All I know is the Ricketts want to win and they’ll pay to have the best available GM on the market to lead the team.
This all leads me a bigger point i need to make. Mike Quade was hired this past season to be the full time skipper of the Cubs for the next three seasons. Will he be fired at the end of the season and join Hendry on the unemployment line? I sure hope not. With a few exceptions Quade has done a fine job managing this band of misfits and under achieving veterans. Have you ever seen the movie “The Money Pit” with Tom Hanks? Yeah, that’s the Cubs current roster. If only could cover up Alfonso Soriano with a rug and trap Tom Hanks in his hole. That would make my day. Carlos Zambrano can be the pissed off raccoon in the dumbwaiter. There have been a few growing pains with Starlin Castro, including the recent lapse in concentration when he wasn’t paying attention when James Russell started the inning. Quade can’t help all the errors the Cubs have had this year. He’s only been out managed few times, and left a pitcher out one batter to many a few times. The biggest mistake was the squeeze play that Quade missed. There hasn’t been many times where I didn’t agree with his call to the pen, or letting a pitcher get that last out.
As a baseball mind, he’s up there with the best. Prior to the managing the Cubs, he managed almost 2,000 games in the minors, so managing a ball club is nothing new to him. He gets on his players when they’re not playing well a la the benching of Castro earlier this week. I sure hope he finishes out his contract, and helps these younger players coming up in the next two season. In the end, he’s going to be the rebuilding coach, and probably won’t have a good win/loss record as the Cubs manager, but he’ll have laid a lot of the ground work for the seasons to come. I would imagine that after Quade will be another big name manager. Will it be Ryne Sandberg? I’m not sure, but I would support that decision. Ryno would have to be willing to come back after getting the big snub when Quade got hired this season.
The last thing I want to address is the future of the Cubs and how I would personally go about things. Get these veterans on the field out of town at any cost. Soriano is going to make his money whether he’s batting or not. Bring him off the bench or to platoon in left. He’s not an everyday player anymore. Even though Marlon Byrd is the leader of the team, he should be moved in order to get a player or two for him. He’s been fantastic for the team, and has instilled his hustle work ethic into some other players on the team. If he’s not moved, he could be a great mentor for Brett Jackson, who should be manning center next season. Tyler Colvin can platoon left with Soriano, and Byrd can play right.
For the love of Pete, improve the pitching staff. First and foremost, get rid of Zambrano. I don’t care if you have to pay him $18 Million to sit on his couch and email his family enough so it hurts his forearms. He’s not a positive player on the roster anymore and doesn’t contribute at all. Matt Garza was a step in the right direction, but there still need to be 1-2 more pitchers added to make the rotation better. I like Ryan Dempster (as a number 3), Garza, Andrew Cashner, and potentially Randy Wells (as a number 5). The pen isn’t horrible, but could use some better arms. I like keeping Kerry Wood around as long as he can compete, and many know about my man-crush for Sean Marshall. Outside of maybe five to seven pitchers, their pitching is pretty thin in the minors. They will need to find somebody outside the organization to fill this hole.
Aramis Ramirez will probably finish out his contract next season with the Cubs. Actually, this is a good decision. Josh Vitters hasn’t quite developed like the team would want, but he’s been better this season, and could just need one more season before he’s ready for the hot corner. It makes no sense to try to get a replacement long term when Vitters is still probably your third baseman of the future.
Darwin Barney. I love the kid. He’s actually my second favorite player behind Sean Marshall. He plays the game very hard, and plays the game the right way. I just don’t think he’s got what it’s going to take to be an everyday player for the years to come and statistically contribute to the team. He doesn’t have much power and he doesn’t walk all that much. If the team gets their production from other players in the lineup, he could settle into a fine bottom of the order hitter. Realistically, he’ll fall into a utility role when someone better comes along.
Get rid of all this AAAA players playing at Iowa. Lou Montanez, Bryan LaHair and Scott Moore, I’m looking at you guys. There are better, younger players you’re blocking from progressing up the ladder. Yeah, yeah, yeah, LaHair is batting over .330 with a MiLB leading 34 home runs and 100 RBIs. He’s a AAAA Hall of Famer. I would rather see Ridling called-up next month over LaHair.
Finally, if you’re going to go after a big named player to take over at first base, please, please choose Prince Fielder over Albert Pujols. Fielder is left handed, cheaper, younger, and almost as good, power number wise, as Pujols. For being a tank of man, Fielder, has been more durable than Pujols over the past few seasons. Seriously, how is Pujols going to be worth $30 million when he’s 41? Let’s get real people. I personally, want to give Ridling and Justin Bour a shot before blocking the two completely with a big name signing.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis | Tagged: Billy Beane, Brett Jackson, Brian Cashman, Chicago Cubs, Cubs, D.J. LeMahieu, Javier Baez, Jay Jackson, Jim Hendry, Josh Vitters, Justin Bour, Kyle Smit, Mike Quade, Nicholas Struck, Prospects, Randy Bush, Rebel Ridling, Rebuidling, Robert Whitenack, Ryan Flaherty, Shawon Dunston Jr., Theo Epstein, Trevor Gretzky | 13 Comments »
There has been a lot of talk of Sam Fuld around the internet, and this very site being that spark plug to give some energy to his team. I’ve followed Fuld since he was up and down as a Cubs, who was a “throw in” player in the Matt Garza deal. I’m very happy to see him getting success at the big league level.
There was a pretty significant development in the Chicago Cubs roster at the end of spring training that is paying off with large dividends for the inconsistent North Siders. It was widely expected that Blake DeWitt would win the 2nd base position outright, leaving Jeff Baker the LHP hitting specialist on the team and fill in at 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Darwin Barney was expected to backup at 2nd and SS; however, with a strong spring by Barney, and DeWitt having a weak spring, Barney won the starting job opening day.
Starlin Castro was the obviously more highly regarded shortstop in the Cubs organization, but Barney is no slouch either. He was a two time NCAA national champion for the Oregon State Beavers in 2006 and 2007. In 2007 he was named to the all tournament team. He was also a part of the 2006 Team USA gold medal team at the World University Games.
He was a late season call-up last season and did decently well. He’s not going to win games with his bat, only ten home runs in 1546 ABs in the Minor Leagues spanning over four seasons. What he will do for you is play the game extremely hard, run the base paths well and play the field above average. He’s settled in as a full time 2nd basemen when a large majority of his innings were at short in the minors. He’s looking more like a natural 2B on a daily basis.
While he is no Castro on the field in regards to the highlight reel plays he’ll make throughout this season, he will also not be like Castro and not make near as many as errors either. He’s a solid, consistent defender. His stats in the minors might not indicate that, but playing at 2nd, a position he’s better suited for, will show off how good of a defensive player he’s going to be.
Against the Rockies this weekend, he and Casey Coleman teamed up to make a great play where Barney made a diving stop and tossed to Coleman who was heading over to cover the bag. [mlb.com video]
As I mentioned earlier, he’s not going to carry a team with his bat, but he’s a good contact hitter, who almost walks as much as he strikes out. Prior to Tuesday’s game he’s walked 4 times and struck out only 3 times. Since the time that Castro and Barney have batted 1-2 in the lineup, they’ve been getting on base on a pretty consistent basis. Castro is battling well over .500 since being moved to lead off, and Barney is still batting .311 currently and has an OBP of .360. That’s giving the hitters behind the duo plenty of chances to drive them in.
There were two very specific instances where his hustle got him more than what the regular player would have. First, Saturday night’s game, late in the game, he hit a bloop into “no man’s land” in left-centerfield and was running hard out of the box. When Dexter Fowler couldn’t corral the ball as he came up to it, Barney scooted into 2nd after rounding first base hard. The following day, he scored on a potential double play ball after an errant throw clipped off the top of Todd Helton’s glove [mlb.com video].
I’m pretty sure there’s a little bit of Marlon Byrd’s hustle instilled in Barney. I was watching a video earlier in the spring where they were talking to Marlon Byrd about Brett Jackson, and how teaching him to play the game the right way. He wants Jackson to stay with the big league team after he is first called up. He said he expects Jackson to take over at CF, moving himself to RF. I see a lot of “Johnny Hustle” similarities in Barney. I think he’s established himself being a core part of the young Cubs movement heading into the coming seasons along with Castro, Tyler Colvin and Andrew Cashner.
I also remember seeing a video before spring training started, where a reporter was interviewing Barney about the MLB academy he went to in the off season to prepare himself as a MLB ball player both in the regards as a player and as person. He also was a member of “Camp Colvin” this winter. A rigorous, alternative offseason strength program ran by Colvin for players to get in shape for the season where Barney put 19 lbs onto his small frame. Barney is well on his way to becoming a fan favorite, much like former Cub, Ryan Theriot, but he’s a much better ball player.
Barry Enright is far from a house hold name to most baseball fans, but it’s a name you might be starting to hear more of in the near future. Enright is a 24 year old pitcher that was a 2nd round draft pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of Pepperdine University in 2007. He was recently named the fourth starter by manager Kirk Gibson. Armando Galaragga named the fifth starter of the DBacks today, who beat Aaron Heilman, who will start the season in the ‘pen. Zach Duke was up for a spot in the rotation, but he is recovering from a broken throwing hand. Enright might find himself out of a spot when Duke returns from his injury, but he could easily hold on the spot even after Duke comes back. Having pitching depth like that is a good problem to have. Enright found himself making the jump from AA to the majors last season with pretty decent success last season. In his first 12 major league starts, he posted a 2.45 ERA, but finished the season with a 6-7 record and a 3.91 ERA. For a pitcher that skipped AAA, it’s a good start to his major league career. He also fields his position well, and can swing a bat better than most pitchers. He had a .242 average in 33 at-bats with six RBIs last season.
The term finesse pitcher has been also be coined as a “control pitcher” or denoted as “crafty”. The two most well-known control pitchers are “First Five” Hall-of-Famer Christy Mathewson and sure fire Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux. Reds pitcher Mike Leake, Cubs pitcher Casey Coleman and teammate, Ian Kennedy are a couple examples of today’s control starting pitchers. Control pitchers can succeed at the level Major League Baseball has presented itself to be today.
He’s got a big frame (6’3″, 220 lbs) for a finesse pitcher, but he mixes speeds and his average pitches very well. His fastball comes in the upper 80′s, but will top-out about 93. He does have a plus change up; one of the best weapons a control pitcher can have. As noted, he doesn’t have lights out top of the rotation stuff, but he pitches effectively and gets batters out. In his summer call-up last season holding batters to a .261 average. That number may look high, but his last five starts in September bloated his stats. He ended up having 10 of 17 starts last season be quality starts; a pretty good ratio for a pitcher with zero AAA experience. Most scouting reports list him as a fifth starter with some upside (noted as a lesser Ian Kennedy). If a pitcher in the back end of a rotation has a record around 12-14 with an ERA around four, I’ll take him on my team any day.
When I find myself admiring baseball players, it’s typically because of who they are as a character, more so then their physical skills that got them where they were. I’ve been following Enright on twitter (@BarryEnright54) since just before spring training and he’s got a very positive, yet competitive attitude. After last season, he was in line to secure a spot in the rotation for the following season, but with the acquisations of Duke, a former top prospect of the Pirates, and Galaragga, who pitched a “perfect game” this past season for the Tigers, he was instantly put into a situtation where he was going to show the DBack brass including coach, Kirk Gibson, why he should be the teams fifth starter in the rotation.
He talk a lot about competing when he tweets, and has hashtagged several posts with “#COMPETE” and “#GIDDYUP”. He interacts with fans very well, answers their questions, and a lot of time to make sure fans are taken care of at spring training games. He re-tweets many fan posted photos that he’s taken with fans, and there as photo of himself as the last player in the dugout giving autographs to the fans after a game this spring training. It’s important for a player to take time and interact with the fans. I enjoy reading the tweets about Enright and how well received he is by the fans. He’s also had a couple of contests and given away some swag to the winners.
When Duke came down with an injury, a fan asked him if he was relieved since Duke got injured. He replied “I am not relieved. I feel very bad for him. He is an awesome guy and has worked hard to pitch as well.” This statement I see as genuine and show how much of a “team player” Enright really is. He’s not going to wow fans with blazing speed like Aroldis Chapman, and he’s not baffling hitters with a nigh unhittable slider like Carlos Marmol, but what he is going to do is go out on the mound every five days, and work his hardest and do his part for his team to earn the “W”. Barry Enright does deserves this shot in the rotation that Diamondbacks are giving him. He may go through a few “growing pains” in his sophomore campaign, especially pitching at Chase Field. I think last season stats will be about where he’s at for his career, which is more than adaquete for a fifth start on pretty much any team in the Majors. Heck, sometimes rotations are in bloody shambles trying to figure out who’s going to be their fifth starter or if they’re is any pitching depth in case of injures (Yankees and Cardinals, I’m looking at you!).
In my book, he’s a good kid with a bright future, and I wish him the best this season and I now can call myself a Barry Enright Fan, even if I’m a “Bleed Cub Blue” Cubs fan. I even picked him up in a franchise league too, since he’s only 24 and he’s showed he can succeed at the Major League level.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis | Tagged: Armando Galaragga, Aroldis Chapman, Barry Enright, Carlos Marmol, Casey Coleman, Christy Mathewson, Control Pitcher, Diamondbacks, Greg Maddux, Ian Kennedy, Mike Leake, Zach Duke | Leave a Comment »
After off-season moves this past season, two teams come to the forefront, in my mind, on who became the most improved in the two different leagues.
In the American League, the Baltimore Orioles made a meandering of changes in their lineup this off-season to try to support their young and talented pitching staff. The major off-season acquisitions included Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy, and Vladimir Guerrero. All four of those players have the power to hit 20 home runs, maybe with the exception of Hardy. He did however hit over 20 in the ’07 and ’08 seasons. The only problem in going this route, you’re not planning for the future. None of these four players will be with the team for more than a couple of years at most.
The interesting aspect what these players bring is the protection that Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Luke Scott gain in the line up. Lee doesn’t have the same power he once had after his wrist injury, but is still a dangerous hitter. Reynolds will probably continue to strike out at an alarming rate, but will probably still hit 35+ home runs in hitter friendly Camden Yards. He also has to deal with the better pitching in the AL East compared to the much weaker NL West, which could be a problem. Junk ball hitting specialist, Guerrero should be a dangerous hitter in this line up as well. He’s thrived in the DH role with Texas last season, and I expect him to keep the same momentum going. If you figure in a healthy Brian Roberts at the top of the lineup, and a young Matt Wieters behind the plate, it could rival any team in the AL as one of the best lineups.
With the young pitching staff, the team is going to have to put up a lot of runs in order to help these young guys “take their lumps” while they gain more experience. Brian Matusz is poised to have a break out year, and Jeremy Guthrie could have a winning record with his normal ERA in the low fours or high threes. Between young pitchers Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and to an extent Brad Bergesen, with veteran Justin Duchscherer could make for an adaquete rotation with a very high ceiling. I’m not expecting a Cy Young winner to emerge from the group, but they could win a number of games with amount of runs the line up could mash in.
Brian Roberts – 2B
Adam Jones – CF
Luke Scott – LF
Vladimir Gurrero – DH
Nick Markakis – RF
Derrek Lee – 1B
Mark Reynolds – 3B
Matt Wieters – C
J.J. Hardy – SS
It’s pretty hard to place all those power hitters in the lineup while trying to make the most sense. This will give coach Buck Showalter the flexibility to have a lot different lineup configurations depending on the pitching match up. The only hitter on the team that hit over 20 home runs last season was Luke Scott. He should be poised to do the same, and drive in plenty of runs himself. This lineup might be one of the most balanced lineups I’ve ever seen as well. You have two switch hitters, five right handed hitters, and two left handed hitters. Fact of the matter is, they’re also in one of the best divisions in all of baseball. Between the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and even the Blue Jays, I just don’t foresee them making the playoffs, but they’re going to surprise a lot of people this season. Will they make it out of the cellar? There’s a really good possibility that occurs.
On the NL side of things, the Washington Nationals added some players that give slugger Ryan Zimmerman some extra protection that could even take him up to a next level (if there is one for him). The additions of Jayson Werth and Adam Laroche will add 40-50 home runs from those two batters alone. Werth of course was the super-star contract acquisition this season, but it’s going to be hard for him to live up to those expectations. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fantastic player, and knew he was good with the Dodogers; he just needed that change to get regular playing time. He got that with the Phillies and got him a World Series ring in the process.
Outfielder Michael Morse appears to have gotten a shot to be the everyday left fielder for the team to start the season. In only 266 ABs, he hit 15 home runs and batted in 41. Assuming enough at-bats for an everyday player through out the season, 30 home runs and 90 RBIs aren’t out of the question for him.
None of the options the team has for center field are all that attractive. I think Nyjer Morgan makes the most sense to me, since he can lead off, so I want to assume they’ll go that route. Last I read; however, Rick Ankiel has the inside track to securing the position, which I’m not sure that is the best option for the team. Without Morgan, they have no true lead off hitter. Roger Bernadina is also in the mix for OF time. Ian Desmond is more suited to be the second batter in the lineup behind Morgan.
Youngster Danny Espinosa, who has 15 home run power is slated to take over duties at 2nd base. Desmond should able to build on a pretty decent rookie campaign from last season. Hot shot catching prospect, Wilson Ramos, who was acquired in the Matt Capps trade with the Twins could start to figure in the lineup too with aging Pudge Rodriquez. It’s also possible that Jesus Flores could factor into the catching spot too, but there has been some interest with him going to Houston when Jason Castro was lost for the season.
Potential Lineup (How I would construct it):
Nyjer Morgan – CF
Ian Desmond – SS
Ryan Zimmerman – 3B
Jayson Werth – RF
Michael Morse – LF
Adam LaRoche – 1B
Pudge Rodriguez / Wilson Ramos – C
Danny Espinosa – 2B
The pitcher’s spot brings up a really good point: The Washington Nationals rotation and bullpen are a giant mess. Livan Hernandez is _NOT_who you want pitching for you opening day. With Steven Strasburg on the shelf all season, and Jordan Zimmerman having his own injuries last season, the team doesn’t have much to work with. The other three pitchers poised to make the rotation are Jason Marquis, John Lannan and Tom Gorzelanny. They will not be able to compete at all with the Phillies, but could give the Braves and Marlins a kind of “run for their money”. They’re a much better hitting team this season, by spending a lot of money, but with out pitching they don’t stand a chance.
Young closer Drew Storen has seemed to lost his spot at closer as well with a horrid spring with an ERA over 11. I saw last that the team has no official closer announced as of yet. We’ll see what happens there. Tyler Clippard could get some time shutting down games of Storen officially loses it.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis | Tagged: Adam Jones, Adam LaRoche, Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Danny Espinosa, Derrek Lee, Ian Desmond, Jake Arrieta, Jason Marquis, Jayson Werth, JJ Hardy, John Lannan, Jordan Zimmerman, Justin Duchscherer, Luke Scott, Mark Reynolds, Matt Wieters, Michael Morse, Nationals, Nick Markakis, Nyjer Morgan, Orioles, Rick Ankiel, Ryan Zimmerman, Steven Strasburg, Tom Gorzelanny, Vladimir Guerrero | 1 Comment »