Friday, July 18, 2008

Holy Cow that's One Mess of a Roster

We are really on the verge of watching some scary bad baseball, especially defensively.

With Pena on the DL, and Estrada getting the call-up, here's the active roster:

56 Luis Ayala
40 Collin Balester
57 Jason Bergmann
43 Jesus Colome
38 Joel Hanrahan
31 John Lannan
36 Charlie Manning
45 Odalis Perez
51 Jon Rauch
17 Tim Redding
52 Saul Rivera
59 Steven Shell
23 Johnny Estrada
3 Jesus Flores
16 Paul Lo Duca
53 Wil Nieves
10 Ronnie Belliard
5 Kory Casto
15 Cristian Guzman
2 Felipe Lopez
4 Pete Orr
21 Dmitri Young
1 Willie Harris
25 Austin Kearns
29 Ryan Langerhans

Yeah, yeah, injuries... but this is crazy. I can't remember ever seeing a roster that looked like this.

You might notice right off that there are four catchers and three outfielders. That's not normal. Actually, there are seven guys who theoretically could play the OF, counting Lo Duca, Orr, Casto, and Lopez. But Lopez, Orr and Lo Duca are all LFs only, and barely. Orr's appeared in 4 games in LF for his career. Lopez never played in the OF ever till this year, although he looked pretty natural out there. Lo Duca has 40 OF appearances career, but none since 2004 till this year, and we've seen what that looks like. If anything we have to be hurting his trade value by eliminating any last doubt that he can't play out there anymore.

Funny thing, if we actually played Harris, Kearns, and Langerhans, that would probably be the best defensive outfield that we've seen certainly this year. But we're not going to see that outfield much.

The catcher thing is even crazier. Estrada is here why? This is a guy who is hitting .179 and slugging .179. OK, sample size. I'll give you a fancy stat. Last year, his adjusted OPS was 78. That means he was 22% worse than league average. The last time he had an OPS+ over 100, indicating an above average hitter, was 2004. Defensively, he's improved his CS rate to 31% from 13% last year, but he still shouldn't see any time behind the plate as long as Nieves and Flores are on the roster.

Is it just that he's filling the slot Bowden reserves for fat, bad pinch hitters who can't play the field, the Wil Cordero/Matt LeCroy/Tony Batista parade of uselessness? Well, turns out he's starting behind the plate tonight, so I guess the answer is no, we intend to use him as a catcher. Which begs the question, why is Nieves here? I'd take him over Estrada any day, but if Estrada's going to catch, what's the point of carrying four?

I clicked on the "depth chart" link on the Nationals site to see if there were any clues as to what Manny's expected to do with this. Notice 3B. No, those depth charts on don't mean anything, but I think maybe that reveals a kind of perverse truth.

This whole mess of a roster is all the more frustrating considering that one of Manny's best strengths last year was his ability to use his bench every day to get the most out of everyone--bringing in Langerhans and Fick for defense late in games, minimizing Young's exposure at 1B, etc. This year, he's been constantly hand-cuffed by the injured guys littering the roster. How many days has he actually had 25 available? Seems like wey less than half.

But the thing that really scares me is the number of players we're going to have playing out of position and what that's going to do to our young arms. Tonight we have a DH at first and a catcher in left. Chances are we're going to see plenty of Belliard at third and first. Who knows what else?

Basically, we're deciding to give the other team 29-30 outs a game for the forseeable future. And when Balester and Lannan go out there, or based on today's Post maybe Zimmermann pretty soon, how exactly is that setting them up for success? This year, and especially those guys' starts, is about the future, so how is it that we can't field a minimally competent defense behind them to help them out as much as possible? Or are we trying to shatter their confidence and help them build bad habits by not trusting their defense?

Wouldn't it be better to bring up Larry Broadway to at least have one decent defensive option at 1B? Or Justin Maxwell? Given all this, did we really need to just throw Alex Escobar to the curb?

Maybe those aren't the best options. Yeah, the injuries have forced us to scramble. But JimBo's had a whole all-star break to go get a useful player. Instead, here we are. It's going to be ugly, I'm afraid. I just hope it isn't 7-year-old little league ugly. And I hope Balester survives with his sense of self-worth in tact.
  • I forgot one other point I meant to make in this post. Not only does the bad defense hurt our young starters; it also taxes the bullpen. Rauch and S. Rivera are among the most highest value trade chips we have. Would be a shame to get them hurt, huh?
  • Well I went out to dinner right after making this post and didn't watch the game live. Turns out Meat--SHOCKER!!--isn't healthy.
  • Let's just stop a minute and take note of the fact that we are LOADED with injury-prone players? I'm not trying to pick on JimBo, I'm just saying that in addition to some bad luck, we brought at least some of this on ourselves.
  • Well only Guzman made an error. Consider it a dodged bullet. Don't expect that to continue.
  • I did just see the last inning. I've somehow never seen Mike Gonzalez pitch live. Does he have some kind of tic or something? Is that the result of mercury exposure as a baby? That guy needs some kind of medication.
  • Looks like only Guzman made an error tonight and somehow the box score said Lo Duca stole a base? I'll have to watch the replay.
  • Post-AS Game resolution: watch all the games, at least on the replay. We'll see how long that lasts!


The Nationals Enquirer said...

"Funny thing, if we actually played Harris, Kearns, and Langerhans, that would probably be the best defensive outfield that we've seen certainly this year. But we're not going to see that outfield much."

And then lo and behold, Dmitri's blood sugar gets all out of whack and who's your starting OF? Langerhans, Harris, and Kearns. Mess of a roster, indeed...

Nationals Fan said...

Shocking! Meat is hurt again. Wonder how long it'll take for Bowden to get Manny a 25th player. Maybe Luke Montz will get the call as our fifth catcher?