Monday, July 19, 2010

It's Time to Get Younger; It's Time for a Change

Tonight, the Washington Nationals will face the best team in the NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds. J.D. Martin will get his first start since before the All-Star Game against Johnny Cueto. Cueto is 8-2 with a 3.42 ERA. Now, it's a lot easier to get wins when your team is 7th in baseball in average, 4th in homers, and 5th in RBI, but it still poses a problem for the Nats.

Not the least of their problems is the managerial decisions that have been made lately (and unacceptable base running errors). Sure, the Nats haven't gotten any offense for their starters, and I'm certainly not making excuses for that. But look at the line ups that these starters have behind them, starting with tonight's. And a few things about them.

1. Nyjer Morgan - Although Nyjer is new to the organization, he is still already 30 years old, and has shown this year what Pittsburgh saw in him when they decided to let him go. That said, Lastings Milledge certainly wasn't an upgrade, and Morgan is having the worst year of his career this season. His career average is .288, this season it's .255. Career OBP is .348, this year its .316.
2. Cristian Guzman - Guzzie is 32 years old. Being that baseball peak ages tends to be 28-32... he's on his way down for sure. That said, Guzman is, on no planet, a 2 hole hitter. And he's had more than half of his ABs in that spot this season. His CAREER on-base percentage is .309. Unacceptable for a top of the lineup guy.
3. Ryan Zimmerman - A near-perfect 3-spot hitter, and among the best in the game. His average this year is .293, and his OBP is .381, 30 points above his career average. He hits for power (16 HR) and traditionally has been an RBI machine. One problem though: NO ONE is getting on base in front of him! Oh... and he's only 25. (Time to start asking yourself what you've done with your life, everyone...)
4. Adam Dunn - The Big Donkey is in the peak of his career. He's putting up career numbers, is hitting near 40 points above his career batting average, he's on pace to hit 40 homers yet again. Dunn is 30.
5. Josh Willingham - The Hammer is also playing solid ball, giving Dunn ample protection. Dunn is getting pitches to hit because a guy like Willingham is behind him. This is one of the main functions of a 5 hole guy, and he fills it well. He, along with Dunn, have become passable fielders.
6. Ivan Rodriguez - You're never, ever going to argue about having a Hall of Fame catcher behind the plate to help your young pitching staff. But at 38 years old, he does significantly skew the average age of the Nats straight up. That said, there are few good reasons to have a catcher hitting above the 8 spot in a line up, especially an old catcher. But as long as Pudge keeps putting up the great numbers, he deserves it. If I EVER see him batting 2nd again though, I might vomit.
7. Willie Harris - I'll try and take care of this one without losing my cool. Willie Harris is a bad hitter. Like... really, really bad. Yes, he's a good fielder. Yes, he has a World Series ring from being a utility player in Chicago. But he's 32 years old, he's hitting .177, and the Nats are playing him freaking $1.5 MILLION for it. Ok, my heart rate is skyrocketing. So I'll stop with this: Keep Harris and Kennedy OUT of the starting lineup. End. Of. Story.
Rather than bore you about everything that I've already said about Ian and J.D., just go read my very recent posts dedicated to those guys.
8. Ian Desmond - See this post
9. Martin - See this post

Meanwhile, riding the bench today are Michael Morse (28), Roger Bernadina (26), Justin Maxwell (26), Alberto Gonzalez (27).... Personally, I'm not big on the "JMax is the future" train, so let's leave him out of this just for a moment. The fact remains that the other 3 that I just listed are far more likely to be the future than some of those guys in the line up. Morse, Bernie, and AG are all hitting .280 or above in their opportunities. I fail to see how leaving guys that are passing their prime in the starting line up, while the "future" rots on the bench, only to start every few days, makes managerial sense.

If the Nats win tonight, I won't be eating my words, because one game doesn't make me wrong. Riggleman's job isn't at risk, because I mean, come on. He's coming off of 205 losses in 2 years. He'd have to do something really bad (I had lots of inappropriate... and hilarious... examples here, but I'll keep the blog PG) to lose his job. But the problem isn't the talent. The talent exists. The Nats are using the WRONG talent, and have backwards priorities. It's time for a change.


  1. Very interesting article. I like the humor in it too! If you don't like the lineup, what would your ideal line up be and how do you think it might be more effective?

  2. The answer to your question is why I don't get paid millions of dollars (yet). I have no idea what the ideal line up could be. Anyone else out in the blog-world have a thought. I like:

    1. CF - Bernadina
    2. SS - Desmond
    3. 3B - Zimm
    4. 1B - Dunn
    5. LF - Willingham
    6. RF - Morse
    7. C - Pudge
    8. 2B - Gonzalez
    Pitcher's spot?