Friday, February 03, 2006

Fouled-Off Bunts: Everybody Loves Royce, Man Edition

Oleanders and Morning Glories doesn't like it:
Bowden has a quote which borders on the ridiculous. “…if Guzman fails like he did last year, we have an alternative that we didn’t have last year.” Technically, Bowden is right. Clayton is an alternative to Guzman. We did not have Clayton last year. Therefore Clayton is an alternative to Guzman we did not have last year. But notice the word “viable” isn’t anywhere in his quote. He’s just an alternative. Replacing Smuckers orange marmalade with Polaner All-Fruit orange marmalade.

  • Curly W is confused by the constipated roster:
    Clayton joins an already crowded middle infield for the...no, wait. I'm tired of people calling the Nats' middle infield "crowded." The Nats middle infield has more hopefuls than the first day of American Idol auditions.

  • Distinguished Senators wonders where the improvement is:
    Clayton in his senescence is the same hitter as Guzman pre-2005 meltdown -- maybe a little better because more of his OPS value in his on-base percentage. Guzman has a few advantages: youth, $12 million dollars left on his contract, and unbeatably low expectations.

  • BTF's Transaction Oracle wonders the same thing. Using their ZIPS formula, they project him for a throroughly mediocre .224/ .283/ .302 batting line:
    Is it funny because someone brought in on a minor-league contract is competition for the guy who signed the high-profile deal? Is it funny because Jimmy Bowden thinks Royce Clayton is a major leaguer? Is it funny because Royce Clayton actually is bad enough to provide insurance for Guzman? I just can't figure it out.

  • The BTF commenters weigh in. One passed on the snark and added valuable insight. His words are something to keep in mind as spring training looms:
    Inevitably, it has begun. Washington's shortstops will relentlessly be judged this year against Guzman's performance last year, as if being better than '05 Guzman is meaningful in some sense. No doubt Guzman himself will be lauded by the local media (and praised to the high heavens by Boz) if he can manage to get his OPS above 650.

    And if Guzman does go that high, no doubt we will see articles about how his improvement shows great character... "When they brought in Royce Clayton to compete for your job, did you see that as a slap in the face?" "Well, I was disappointed, but you can't blame them after the way I struggled last year. Now I've gotten back to playing my game." See, all you have to do is light a fire under his ####, and he'll be OK. So long as you think being the worst starting shortstop in the league is still "OK."

    He's right. Guzman's almost a bet to get better. If he does, it won't completely be because he was pushed. It will be because he has a long track record of not sucking as much (and probably a bit of having a batting coach who's more concerned with the team's bat swings than his golf swing.)

  • On the prognostication side, Federal Baseball wonders what his readers think Guzman'll do? I'm optimistic that he'll revert to his previous mediocre form -- which is still a two-win improvement.

  • On the positive side, Beltway Boys wonders whether there's a platooning potential there. I suppose it's possible, but I'm still seeing a roster crunch that's going to make slipping a mediocrity like Clayton on the roster -- especially since the team doesn't lose anything if they release him (as compared to Carroll, for example).

  • Switching gears, Banks of the Anacostia points to a wonderful Baseball America story about the upcoming draft. If the Angels don't sign Jeff Weaver, the Nats have three first-round picks, and Nats scouting director Dana Brown talks a lot about the team's philosophy. Click through and check it out.

  • Our friends at the BPG forum point to a recent Mark Plotkin chat at the WaPo. Sez Mark:
    Linda Cropp will make the decision to have a vote on the stadium lease on Tuesday only if she has the seven votes. I think they have six votes now and they are the following: Evans, Patterson, Orange, Ambrose, Cropp, and I think Gray. They need Kwame Brown. He's key right now. Believe me, if they get seven, there'll be a few more that'll want to jump on the bandwagon and the vote could get to be eight or nine. The mayor on Ask the Mayor this week made some news that didn't get much play when he said right now he would not support Phil Mendelson for at-large. I think this was an attempt to convince Mendelson to come over to the proponents' side.

    Like a dam bursting or rats scurrying a sinking ship. Pick your metaphor, but 9 yea votes isn't out of the realm of possibilities.

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