Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cristian Who-zman?

When the Nationals traded Cristian Guzman away to the Texas Rangers for two prospects, there wasn't much negative rumbling in NatsTown.  The team was giving up an aging player for two AA prospects, and most people recognized that it was the right decision to make.

Since the trade, Adam Kennedy has made 4 starts at second base, and by the looks of things, maybe his lack of playing time was actually part of the issue.  Granted, 4 games is a small sample size, but since he earned the presumptive starting job back, Kennedy is hitting .411 in games that he's started and .350 in games that he's appeared in.  He's appeared in every game since Guzman was traded.

Obviously Kennedy is not the long-term solution to the problem, though.  While in his younger career he was was one of the best fielding and hitting 2nd basemen in the AL, he even earned the ALCS MVP in 2002, Kennedy is now 34 years old, 2 years older than Guzman.  Kennedy is a great guy to fill the hole for a while, but at some point the team has to get other guys some at-bats to see if they are capable of having a future with the organization, primarily Alberto Gonzalez.

It will be interesting to see when expanded rosters come around in September if the Nats choose to call up future stars like Danny Espinosa.  The Nats already have Alberto Gonzalez, who is still just 27 years old and has shown flashes of brilliance this season.  But with Ryan Zimmerman solidified as the 3rd baseman for the long term, and Ian Desmond tentatively holding that role at shortstop, assuming he can stop committing an attrocious number of errors, it leaves just one infield position left for Gonzalez and Espinosa to fight over.

In all reality, Espinosa is probably still years away for seriously contending for that job; he is only 23 years old.  By the point he's truly ready to go Ian Desmond may not even be a factor, though I imagine he will be.  So that leaves 2 infield positions for at least 3 players.  Not good odds for one of them.  It will be interesting to see if Rizzo takes the same hardline with Espinosa as he did with Desmond, "He's a shortstop only."  For now, the Nationals will stick with the Kennedy/Desmond middle infield duo most of the time, but the long-term middle infield may look much different.


  1. Espinosa may not be "years away." After a miserable start in AA he has come on like a house on fire. He'll also be 24 next year, only a year younger than Desmond this year, and Desmond missed significant time in the minors due to injury.

    I'd like to see him get the September callup and a solid full month look at 2nd base. If it looks like he could be ready for next year, it will save the Nats having to sign another over-the-hill veteran like Kennedy for the middle infield.

    The only question would then be which among Desmond and Espinosa plays SS and which one plays 2nd base. Nice problem to have.

  2. I think that Espinosa is a much better 2nd baseman than Desmond, and I have since the first time I saw him. Desmond earned his moniker Ian "E6" Desmond years ago and he hasn't yet earned a new one.

    I suggest flipping him to 2nd base and entrenching defensive specialist Espinosa in the SS role.