Wednesday, May 02, 2007

See Ya Later, Mate!

The Nationals just traded Chris Snelling, the under-used left-handed hitter for Ryan Langerhans, formerly of the Braves, lately of the A's.

Initially, my reaction was to get sick. But when I thought about it, it's really not a terrible deal... if he's used the right way.

Langerhans, who really needs more As in his name -- Laangerhaans, is a tremendous defensive outfielder in the corners, and likely is a pretty fair defensive center fielder.

Offensively, he's not going to carry a team, but at his best, he's a league average hitter.

When you're a league average hitter who plays tremendous defense, you're a valuable player.

Now he's struggling terribly this year, but so are lots of players. And he's likely to improve.

The reason why I sorta like the deal is that Snelling wasn't going to be an asset on this team with the way they were using him. He was clearly behind Casto on the LF depth chart. And with Nook Logan set to come back, he'd be behind Church in the LF depth chart as well. At best, he'd be used as a fifth outfielder (even if he's a better player than that).

If they play Langerhans in center -- or even platoon him with Logan -- the Nats will have gained a starting outfielder for a fifth outfielder, a player they weren't going to use.

So on a talent basis, it's probably a wash. Snelling for Langerhans alone is a fair deal. But on a resource basis, Langerhans is likely to contribute more to the team than they would allow Snelling to.

And that has lots of value.

We didn't really get a chance to see Snelling in action, and I wish they had given him a better chance. But they didn't. So welcome Langerhans, and wish Snelling well. And the good folks at USS Mariner now get to see their favorite player back -- just not in the uniform they were expecting.

  • Right on queue, our friends at The Book blog, have a discussion about Langerhans and his value. Check out the first few comments. Short version: at worst, he's a league average performer.

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