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Monday, June 30, 2014

Bryce Harper Returns To Nats Lineup, But Where

Yankees, Jeter, Red Sox, Girardi, Tanaka, Sabermetrics, silly grand predictions, get off my lawn…
(hopefully that pushes all the right buttons to get this posted before the end of the regular season.)

For more than two months, Matt Williams has been waiting to fill out a lineup card that includes Bryce Harper in it. And for several weeks, the Nationals’ first-time manager has been contemplating just how much he wants to shake up the rest of his lineup as a result of Harper’s return.

The time has finally come. Harper, out since April 26 with a torn ligament in his left thumb, is expected to be activated off the disabled list today and play for the Nationals tonight in their homestand opener against the Rockies. Williams, who has gone out of his way not to reveal his plan moving forward in advance, must now make the decision so many have anticipated and debated.

Bote Man Posted: June 30, 2014 at 03:47 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bryce harper, nationals

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   1. Ray (CTL) Posted: June 30, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4740123)
Let's sit him so that Span can play.

Anyway, this is why the DH is silly. They could keep the four OFs in the lineup with the DH. Instead, we get to see Doug Fister hit.
   2. PreservedFish Posted: June 30, 2014 at 04:47 PM (#4740143)
How is Zimmerman in LF? Terrible?
   3. Walt Davis Posted: June 30, 2014 at 04:50 PM (#4740147)
Right next to the 800 lb. gorilla
   4. Walt Davis Posted: June 30, 2014 at 04:57 PM (#4740160)
None of the three OF are hitting well although Zimmermann can be expected to turn it around eventually. Can Zimmerman play 2B? That would seem the simplest short-term solution. Long-term solution is presumably Zimmermann to 1B.

Nice to see Fister back. And his ERA+ is at 130 although the FIP's a good bit worse. Is it too soon to start calling Dombrowski an idiot again? :-)
   5. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: June 30, 2014 at 04:58 PM (#4740161)
How is Zimmerman in LF? Terrible?

Not at all. He has performed way better than I had expected him to.
   6. Bote Man Posted: June 30, 2014 at 05:55 PM (#4740228)
Actually, from the Bryce-Harper-is-a-punk-who-doesn't-know-his-place desk, he's been dishing a number of his opinions including that he should really be playing CF for the Nationals. His defense has never been Maysian, but he can really fly (for a white guy) so maybe he can make up for bad breaks on batted balls by just plain being quick to intercept them. It's not like the Nats haven't ever played him in CF after all.

The D.C. sports ignorencia have been speculating for weeks about the multitude defensive lineups that Matty might field once Harper returned to the lineup, including some that would induce guffaws. For a time, moving Zimmerman to 1B made perfect sense, but LaRoche is one of the few non-dim spots lately in the Nats' batting order. Without the DH and no other practical place for him LaRoche is glued to the 1B bag, so Zim returns to 3B. Let the wild throws across the diamond resume!

Rendon has been the other hitting bright spot so they'll find a place for him, which means sitting Danny Espinosa and his < .550 OPS to play Rendon at 2B. Espinosa strikes me as a guy who just wears down when he plays every day; he was hitting pretty well when he first started filling in as a starter, but has fallen off the cliff and deep into the abyss after 20 or so games. If he can rest up and come off the bench as a defensive replacement and perhaps hit one of his patented surprise game-winning home runs the Nats might have something.
   7. Bourbon Samurai, what price fettucine? Posted: June 30, 2014 at 06:15 PM (#4740264)
Zimmerman looks pretty decent in left, actually. Good to know for the long term. I'd prefer the regular strategy to send Espinosa to the bench, but rotating them around and benching Laroche against some lefties.
   8. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: June 30, 2014 at 07:31 PM (#4740326)
Oh brother. Bryce needs to not take the bait, pipe down, be noncontroversial, and let his play do the talking.
   9. Hack Wilson Posted: June 30, 2014 at 07:34 PM (#4740330)
Let Bryce return to his natural position---CATCHER.
   10. puck Posted: June 30, 2014 at 08:41 PM (#4740373)
LF tonight, with Zimmerman at 3rd.
   11. Greg K Posted: June 30, 2014 at 08:46 PM (#4740377)
Harper made a pretty interesting throw tonight, catching Morneau in a run-down after a single to LF. A bit of a non-standard play, so no Morneau managed to get back to 1B where no one was covering, but seemed like a bold play on Harper's part.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: June 30, 2014 at 08:59 PM (#4740383)
I'll admit I thought the Nats had resigned themselves to the reality that Zimmerman just couldn't play 3B anymore due to the arm issues. Still makes more sense to me to put him at 2B. I know the range might not be great but the arm issues will matter a lot less, I'd imagine the re-injury risk is lower and you leave Rendon to work on 3B.

But then I thought they'd resigned themselves to keeping Harper out of CF to try to keep him healthier. Maybe they've decided it's not keeping him healthier so might as well move him back for more than 5-10 games per year.

Anyway, it's a nice problem to have that, unfortunately, will probably resolve itself when somebody gets hurt.
   13. Bote Man Posted: June 30, 2014 at 09:58 PM (#4740416)
Ryan Zimmerman made a Brooks-like dive to his right to snare a sharply hit ball before it hit the ground, then got up and threw to LaRoche at 1B to double off the runner returning to tag up to end the inning. Looked like he still has it. Don't know how long that will hold up, though.
   14. Ray (CTL) Posted: June 30, 2014 at 10:03 PM (#4740419)
Looked like he still has it. Don't know how long that will hold up, though.

Probably at least another inning.
   15. PreservedFish Posted: July 01, 2014 at 12:19 AM (#4740485)
Has anyone as big and sluggish as Zimmerman ever spent real time at second base?
   16. Walt Davis Posted: July 01, 2014 at 07:41 AM (#4740514)
Dan Uggla, Neil Walker, Daniel Murphy (although he's not sluggish), Brandon Hicks, Jedd Gyorko ain't exactly Jose Altuve.

I wouldn't expect him to do well there but almost anybody who can play a good 3B should be passable at 2B except probably on the DP.

But if Zimmerman can actually make the throw from third a few times a week, keep him there.

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