Monday, March 22, 2010

Don't Pinch Me; Kick Me Instead

I present to you the worst lede in the history of the English language:

"Add Nationals outfielder Willy Taveras to the mix of right-handed hitters who could platoon with Willie Harris in right field."

I had to read the full thing 8 or 10 times to see where someone with the team was suggesting it.  Upon reading it for the 10th, I realized that any attribution doesn't really exist.  (Though to be fair, it is one of about 15 names that Riggleman rattles off) Such is the power of the word "could."

Related sentences:

"Add disgraced former Reds outfielder Pete Rose to the mix of switch-hitting batters who could platoon with Willie Harris in right field."

And that's just as correct.

"Add a giant macaroni sculpture in the shape of the Taj Mahal to the mix of right-handed objects that could platoon with Willie Harris in right field."

Still journalistically accurate!

Yet here we are, a week out and the team has no idea what to do with rightfield given the axing of Dukes.

There's an old saying in the restaurant world: "You don't fire the dishwasher 'til the end of their shift."

Not only did Mike Rizzo fire the dishwasher before the restaurant even opened for the day, he's bringing in some waterphobic bums with shaky hands who were just fired from Chuck E. Cheese's down the street.


My official position: Platoon Bernadina and Maxwell.  They're the only players on the team with any sort of future, and it's now or never.  See what you can get out of 'em while the games don't really matter.  The idea of Wily Taveras is not only laughable, it's embarrassing.  


  • I'm still trying to understand the idea that Willie Harris needs to start on Opening Day because he's our best weapon against Roy Halladay.

    I mean, I understand. But c'mon.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 3/22/2010 10:07 PM  

  • Willie Harris is much better than people think. He's easily a 2 WAR player with an upside of 4, but I agree that he's not a great option. He's never played RF, except for one game with the Red Sox in 2006. However, I think he's got plenty of trade value. If he can prove he's got an above average bat this season, I think there will be a lot of takers on his $1.5mil salary around the deadline.

    What I don't understand is how the Nats management was able to convince the fans that Roger Bernadina has a future. He's had one remotely successful season out of eight in the minors. His power is nonexistent- career SLG of .383, and doesn't compensate for that with an ability to get on base with a pedestrian .350 OBP. To top that off, he's not a good defender either. So care to explain why Bernadina is a better option than, say, Mike Daniel, Marvin Lowrance or any other AAA fodder?

    By Blogger Will, at 3/22/2010 10:27 PM  

  • you're right in that he's probably not any good. but what's the harm in seeing what you've got with him? maybe he can stick as the 5th outfielder next year once Harris moves on.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/22/2010 10:33 PM  

  • Will,

    Do you have any support for Harris having a WAR of 2 last year? I only see him at 1.0, but maybe I am looking at the wrong numbers. Plus, I only see him cracking 1.6 once in his career, which makes me think 4 is overly optimistic, even on these terrible Nationals.

    By Blogger RPS, at 3/22/2010 11:32 PM  

  • I think Will mistyped "2 WAR" when he meant to type "2 WAN" (Wins Above Nationals).

    It's starting to look like some of the guys they'll be running out to field will be operating below replacement level. At the start of Spring Training I threw a dart and hit 72 wins for the Nats this year, but now that looks optimistic.

    By Blogger Bote Man, at 3/23/2010 12:48 AM  

  • Sorry, I should have clarified that Harris is a 2-4 WAR player, when played in LF, just as Ryan Zimmerman is worth 8 WAR when played at 3B. Yes, he'd still be useful at 2B, but his value as a 2B would decrease significantly. Harris can play 2B, but his real defensive value is in the OF.
    I'm assuming Harris' defense in RF is relatively comparable to his LF defense, as was the case with Dunn and Willingham last year, though it's impossible to tell based on his 10 career innings in RF.

    You're right that he's posted a WAR above 1.6 only once, but you'll also see that Harris has never played a full season. If you assume a full season is about 600 ABs and Harris maintained the same level of production, Harris would have been worth about 4 WAR in 2008, and 2 WAR in '09. If he played only in LF, he'd have been worth 5 and 4 WAR, respectively over the past two seasons.

    Of course this is all hypothetical, but the only time Harris has been given a consistent starting job (LF in late '08), he performed fantastically. Unfortunately he's one of those guys whose value is not immediately apparent. His bat seems to be too weak, but he's actually slightly above average, and his defense is astoundingly good.

    I do think a platoon of Maxwell and Harris is a good idea (Maxwell vs LHPs/Harris vs RHP), granted Maxwell rediscovers how to hit a baseball.

    By Blogger Will, at 3/23/2010 1:37 AM  

  • there's a reason Willie Harris has never played a full season.

    By Blogger Dave Nichols, at 3/23/2010 8:50 AM  

  • In the end, this was the biggest problem with cutting Dukes -- no one, and no combination of the other contenders, will give us the production that Dukes almost certainly would have this year, even if he didn't improve as hoped. And given their ages and histories, none of them really have the chance of doing so in the future either. I'm pessimistic about both Maxwell and Bernadina. RF is a place for a big bat, and, sad to say, it's pretty clear that neither of them have it.

    By Blogger Section 222, at 3/23/2010 9:31 AM  

  • I know you don't want to believe the Nats could be considering a Taveras / someone not horrible platoon, but the facts are they brought the guy into Spring Training so they must have liked something about him, and he's still here.

    By Blogger Harper, at 3/23/2010 9:46 AM  

  • Dave, that's exactly what they said about Franklin Gutierrez.

    By Blogger Will, at 3/23/2010 2:52 PM  

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