Why is Pudge the first-string catcher?
Ivan Rodriguez’s career is Hall of Fame worthy but for the sake of the Nationals’ record he should really finish it elsewhere. He will be 39 next season, is entering potentially his fourth straight year of offensive decline, and the Nationals have several excellent prospects in waiting, at least one of whom, Jesus Flores, is ready to play now with Wilson Ramos not far behind. I cannot understand how Mike Rizzo (or Jim Riggleman, whoever is calling the shots) would prefer a Rodgriguez/Flores combo to a Flores/Ramos combo. Also Derek Norris could be ready to play in September.
Why is Mike Morse not slated to start?
Some Bill James wOBA projections for you:
Mike Morse: .348
Roger Bernadina: .336
Rick Ankiel: .320
Nyjer Morgan: .310
I think Morse will be even better than .348 (.374 last year), I am skeptical that Roger Bernadina will be that good, I think Rick Ankiel has upside, and Nyjer Morgan likes to throw his glove.
.348 is also about the same as .350 which is the projection for Adam LaRoche. Just sayin’.
Why did we sign Rick Ankiel?
Not that I don’t think he’ll be better than last year and not that I don’t think we didn’t get him at a bargain but I’m not sure we needed a fifth outfielder (though I hope he’s not the fifth outfielder) that badly. On the other hand this is pretty small potatoes.
Why is no one considering a tryout for shortstop?
It seems that Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa are similar offensively, both having comparable Bill James wOBA projections and minor league stats,though I would give the edge to Espinosa in the latter area.
Ian Desmond, however, did not play exactly stellar defense last year: He had the fourth worst UZR/150 amongst shortstops last year, the fifth worst Dewan +/-, and the 7th worst OOZ (a range rating). Although Desmond did have the 8th best RngR rating (another range rating) and a fairly good arm according to the fans it should be clear that his defensive performance was mixed. There are also plenty of reports of Desmond lacking focus and muffing easy plays.
Instead of automatically giving the job to Desmond, I do not think there would be much harm in giving Espinosa a shot at being the starting shortstop. Both are at a point in their careers when they should be willing to accept a tryout and it is not clear to me that either is overwhelmingly deserving of the job. Maybe some competition could insure Desmond keeps his focus.
Will Nyjer Morgan get to play against lefties?
Nyjer Morgan cannot hit lefties. Here are some of his career splits with his stats against lefties on the left and against righties on the right:
Regarding that wOBA stat, Morgan is Adam Jones (.333 last year) against righties and against lefties he is the worst center fielder in the Majors aka Nyjer Morgan.
And if Morgan sits against lefties, who will play? Ankiel suffers similar problems (.341 wOBA against righties, .301 against lefties) so I would suggest shifting Werth to center and giving Morse (.385 against lefties) the go-ahead in the corner.
Where do we go from here?
If I were managing we would not have signed LaRoche and Morse would be starting at first, the outfield would be Bernadina, Ankiel, and Werth (with LaRoche signed it would be a Werth/Ankiel platoon in center with Morse always playing and Bernadina covering for Werth during the platoon), the winner of the shortstop battle would be at short and the loser at second, Flores would start and Pudge would done away with, and Zimmerman would just keep doing what he does. But obviously I’m not the manager.