Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stairs Expendable Upon Ankiel's Return

Since Roger Bernadina has taken over outfield duties and become the lead off man of our dreams, there is one inevitable question that has to be answered. What happens to Bernie when Rick Ankiel comes off the 15-day disabled list, possibly in the next week or so?

I am a firm proponent that a player shouldn't lose his starting roster spot because of injury. Ankiel wasn't exactly lighting up the competition at the plate (.221/.302/.288), but he's been playing the outfield solidly and has a cannon for an arm in center field. He's certainly not an ideal 2-hole hitter, but it's hard to argue with his defensive credentials.

Unfortunately for someone on the 25-man roster, when Ankiel returns, someone will need to be sent down or released. Jim Riggleman has said, pretty firmly, that Bernadina is basically the only viable lead off man at this point, and he's absolutely right. So what does that do for the rest of the outfield? Most likely, it puts Ankiel back in CF because of his laser arm, and Roger will end up in LF. Werth isn't going anywhere in right.

These moves will leave Michael Morse and Laynce Nix as power hitting bench players most of the time, which makes one guy very, very expendable: Matt Stairs. You could (pretty easily) argue that Stairs is already expendable with his .095 batting average, absolutely zero extra-base hits, and 8 strikeouts. For comparison, Jason Marquis is hitting .333 with just 4 strikeouts and a double. They both have 21 at-bats, and Marquis is a pitcher.

I know that the Marquis comparison may not be the most solid, but it's fun to point out just how bad Matt Stairs has been while eating up a precious 25-man roster spot. That spot is going to become even more precious when Ankiel returns, and Riggleman has to find some way to keep Bernadina in the lineup. With Nix and Morse providing power from both sides of the plate from the bench, and they're both able to play the field, and they can both actually run the bases, it's easy to see Matt Stairs getting his walking papers in the next few weeks.

What say you, CapBallers? Is Stairs on borrowed time, and how overdue is it?


  1. Most likely Bixler will get sent down instead of Stairs, because the Nats are so in love with keeping ineffectual players for their veteran presence.

    Speaking of ineffectual veterans, screw Ankiel. Solid defense and a rocket arm? Defense is not this team's problem right now. Plugging Ankiel back into the 2 spot is a horrible idea. I know they won't do it, but I'd love to see them leave Berny in CF (did you see that catch??) and play the hot hand between Morse and Nix in Left. I was against Ankiel from day one, because he has never hit well in his career. Not what we need.

  2. I've got a blog post mirroring this post coming up (should have hit "publish" yesterday ... now it'll look like i'm copying you :-)

    I agree with the above comment; i'm predicting Bixler goes down and we carry 5 OFs for the time being. The real problem comes when Zimmerman comes back; at that point they'll probably dump whichever OF is least-performing.

    Stairs i hate to say it probably goes nowhere. Not that I don't agree with what you've said; to me its ridiculous he's drawing a veteran salary to provide sub .100 average off the bench and no fielder help. Riggleman seems to want him in the clubhouse and on the team.

  3. We've had some pretty bad veteran bench players over the years, from Wil Cordero to Rob Mackowiak to Alex Cintron; but Stairs has got to be the worst one yet. How much you want to bet he'll be the DH when Interleage play begins?

  4. bdrube dropping Former Nats Great knowledge.

  5. Bernie must stay and Stairs must go - end of story -- that's all -- no questions -- finito!

  6. I also agree that Bixler (the only one with options besides Bernie) goes back down when Ankiel returns. However, Bernie will stay in CF and Nix will be the primary LF (at least for now). When R Zim returns, Stairs will be given the opportunity to retire and take a coaching position in the organization. He already said that this is his last year anyway. If he doesn't retire when R Zim returns, the Nats will DFA him.