Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Offense or Defense

Jim Bowden has "written" another column for the Examiner. This one takes a look at the spring training competitions. There's probably some observations I could make about Bowden's love for dick-swinging contests and manly men who have fire in the belly, but that's not really what caught my eye.

He's finally given an out for the Nook Logan problem, and it's something I've written about a number of times before:
The other important element will be balancing offense with defense. Do you put your best defensive team on the field? The best offensive team, then sub for them late? Or a combination of both? This team will need a lot of managing and constant adjusting. Fortunately, we have the right manager in Manny Acta to get this done.

This is encouraging news. Rather than doing a straight lefty/righty platoon (although with Church and Logan's offensive strengths, that could make sense), an offense/defense platoon could work.

There are a number of ways it could work. If the Nats have a low-K flyball pitcher on the mound, then maybe you start Logan. If Jason Simontacchi (a low-K groundball pitcher) starts, maybe they could "hide" Church's defense in center. If the Cubs are in town and Carlos Zambrano's on the mound, you're going to place a premium on offense, so maybe Church starts the game, with Logan go sub in late when the Nats take the lead (as if!).

It's encouraging news because it's really the best way to maximize the talent on the roster. These different players have different skill sets -- different strengths and different weaknesses. A truly great manager understands that and puts the players in the right situations, so they have the best chance to succeed. The difference between winning and losing, even for a lousy team like the Nats, is often a play or two, and little changes could make a big difference over the long run.

Maximizing talent wasn't really a strong point of Frank Robinson. Too often, he put players in a situation where failure was the most likely option -- like letting Joey Eischen or Joe Horgan face mostly right-handed batters.

Bowden seems to think that Manny Acta has the ability to do it. If so, it's going to be fun to watch.


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