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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Rosenthal: Harper puts Nationals, Williams in tough position

Manager Matt Williams put on his happy face Tuesday, denying he had a rift with Bryce Harper, telling reporters, “I’ve got Bryce’s back in every way.” It was an interesting reaction, to say the least, considering that 24 hours before, Harper gave an interview in which he all but told Williams how to do his job.

Williams, in his first year managing, is in a difficult if not impossible position. He needs to win over Harper, who, when healthy, is the Nationals’ most dynamic player. But Williams also needs to win over his other veterans, some of whom resent that Harper is the most famous and popular Nat even though he has yet to play 140 games in a season and is still only 21.

What does Williams tell those veterans, who mostly play and hit where they are told, and are certainly more discreet than Harper when they object to the manager’s decisions?

What does he tell center fielder Denard Span, who would be the odd man out in Harper’s suggested lineup, which includes Ryan Zimmerman in left field, Anthony Rendon at third base, Danny Espinosa at second and — ahem — Harper in center?

The challenge for Williams is not as pronounced as, “Lose Harper, or lose everyone else” — at least not yet. But the friction is real. If perceived slights translated into wins, the Nats would run away with the NL East.

...They could trade or bench Span, who has improved his on-base percentage from .305 to .317 in the past two weeks. But many would interpret either move as a capitulation to Harper, potentially sparking greater clubhouse tension. Span does not throw as well as Harper, but both players and club officials view him as the team’s best defensive center fielder.

What about trading Harper? The idea is not as preposterous as it might sound. Harper would command a haul. He is represented by Scott Boras, meaning that the Nationals cannot expect to extend him before free agency. And the Nats have two promising young outfielders who are nearly major-league ready, Steven Souza and Michael Taylor.

Ownership probably would balk at the idea; Harper is the franchise’s meal ticket. Then again, if Harper is the center of the Nats’ universe, the team might as well go all-in. Play him in center. Stop worrying about Span. And don’t worry about anyone else’s feelings getting hurt.

Things will work themselves out, right?

Thanks to DK.

Repoz Posted: July 02, 2014 at 10:40 AM | 50 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nats

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   1. dr. scott Posted: July 02, 2014 at 11:15 AM (#4741853)
Maybe Williams should take notes from Bob Melvin who manages to play 3 catchers, 5 outfielders and rotating first baseman without anyone getting upset... true Melvin has the DH which makes that job easier... but having a deep bench is a good problem to have not something to cringe about. If the giants had a deep bench they would not have lost 15 of the last 20 games.
   2. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4741862)
What does he tell center fielder Denard Span,


"You are not as good as Bryce Harper."
   3. Enrico Pallazzo Posted: July 02, 2014 at 11:44 AM (#4741867)
While it's never fair to rule anything out, the concept of trading Harper seems so absurd that it's weird the writer even conceived of it.

But hey, if he's available, the Yankees have a perfectly good bench-able Alfonso Soriano available. He even had his best year in Washington!
   4. McCoy Posted: July 02, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4741870)
Maybe Williams should take notes from Bob Melvin who manages to play 3 catchers, 5 outfielders and rotating first baseman without anyone getting upset... true Melvin has the DH which makes that job easier... but having a deep bench is a good problem to have not something to cringe about. If the giants had a deep bench they would not have lost 15 of the last 20 games.

As in Williams should collect a bunch of journeymen players that have little clout?

The Nationals have the billion dollar man in Werth in RF so he isn't going anywhere. They have Bryce Harper the young phenom who would be wasted in LF and at this point shouldn't be platooned. Leaving Williams with just LF open and two players left to fill that one spot. Give it to Zimmerman with Span being the super sub. How is this a difficult decision?
   5. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: July 02, 2014 at 11:53 AM (#4741880)
What does he tell center fielder Denard Span,
"You are not as good as Bryce Harper."


Defensively, Span is absolutely better than Harper.

But the relevant question isn't "who's better, Harper or Span". The relevant question is whether the Nats are better off with Harper in center, Zimmerman in left, and Espinosa (who can't hit his way out of a wet paper bag) at second, or Harper in left, Rendon at second, and Zimmerman and his half-dead throwing arm at third.

Fangraphs' David Cameron has weighed in on the issue, and his opinion is sorry Bryce, but Matt Williams is right.

Personally, I don't think the question is nearly as cut and dried as Cameron (or some others) makes it out to be, which is why we're going to see both options used moving forward, with a variety of lineups and guys being played at different positions.
   6. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: July 02, 2014 at 12:01 PM (#4741888)
Span's not just the best defensive centerfielder, but he's also the closest thing the Nats have to a prototypical leadoff hitter. Obviously a sub-.320 OBP leadoff hitter isn't much of an asset, but Williams clearly prefers having a light-hitting speedy guy hitting leadoff.
   7. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: July 02, 2014 at 12:11 PM (#4741898)
Argue all you like about optimal batting order, but Williams made the correct call on which 8 players to play and which defensive alignment to use. The question isn't if Bryce Harper is a better hitter than Denard Span; the question is if Danny Espinosa is a better hitter than Denard Span. More specifically the questio is:

(Harper-Zimmerman in LF)+(Span-Harper in CF)+(Zimmerman-Rendon at 3B)+(Rendon-Espinosa at 2B)+(Span-Espinosa in the lineup) >=
(Zimmerman in LF)+(Harper-Span in CF)+(Rendon at 3B)+(Espinosa at 2B)+(Espinosa-Span in the lineup?

I think Williams gets it right, actually. You go with the tighter defensive OF, where defensive miscues result in doubles and triples, at the expense of looser infield defense, where the balls up the middle that Espinosa would get but Rendon would miss, and the occasional derpa derpa throw from Zimmerman's shoulder result in singles. I guess if Zimmerman's shoulder is completely clusterfvgged you might revisit that calculus, but right now, given how bad Danny Espinosa is at the plate, I think he made the right call.

Harper's complaint basically comes down to "but Brycie wanna play center!!!!" Wah.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 12:34 PM (#4741918)
The question isn't if Bryce Harper is a better hitter than Denard Span; the question is if Danny Espinosa is a better hitter than Denard Span.

He could split the baby. Play Harper in CF and Span in LF. The defensive difference won't be that much. bryce can pick 'em too.
   9. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: July 02, 2014 at 12:43 PM (#4741923)
He could split the baby. Play Harper in CF and Span in LF. The defensive difference won't be that much. bryce can pick 'em too.


He could, and by doing so, broadcast to his entire club that Bryce Harper's childish narcissism outweighs all other concerns when it comes to the Nationals alignments. You wouldn't lose much by strict dWAR if you pacify Harper by playing him in CF and Span in LF, but you do lose a little, and you lose pretty much every ounce of respect from the other 24 members of your clubhouse all in service to Bryce Harper's ego.
   10. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: July 02, 2014 at 12:44 PM (#4741927)
You go with the tighter defensive OF, where defensive miscues result in doubles and triples, at the expense of looser infield defense, where the balls up the middle that Espinosa would get but Rendon would miss, and the occasional derpa derpa throw from Zimmerman's shoulder result in singles.

This calculus works in the alternate universe where those events happen with equal frequency.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 12:49 PM (#4741932)
He could, and by doing so, broadcast to his entire club that Bryce Harper's childish narcissism outweighs all other concerns when it comes to the Nationals alignments. You wouldn't lose much by strict dWAR if you pacify Harper by playing him in CF and Span in LF, but you do lose a little, and you lose pretty much every ounce of respect from the other 24 members of your clubhouse all in service to Bryce Harper's ego.

I highly, highly doubt this. Athletes are plenty used to star players getting star treatment.

In a perfect world, Williams should have known about Harper's preference before it went public, and started him in CF right away. That would have avoided any negative fall-out.
   12. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: July 02, 2014 at 12:53 PM (#4741935)
I highly, highly doubt this. Athletes are plenty used to star players getting star treatment.


And every report out of the Nationals locker room indicates that the veteran players in that clubhouse don't think of Bryce Harper as a "star player." He's a 20 year old self-absorbed kid who believes his own hype and thinks he's the star, but who hasn't earned it to any real degree by performing at that level for any sustained time. Matt Williams undoubtedly knows this about his clubhouse. It would be an abject disaster of management to randomly shove your starting CF, who is at least nominally better defensively in CF than Harper, to LF just to assuage the Moping Wunderkind's ego.
   13. NTP Nate Posted: July 02, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4741937)
Maximizing the outfield defense would probably involve leaving Span alone and flip-flopping Harper and Werth (who's been hitting worse than Span of late), but there's even less chance of that happening than of Span being benched outright.

Espinosa is a better hitter than Span vs. LHP, so you can make a case for Harper in center, Zimmerman in left, Rendon at third and Espinosa at second vs. lefties.
   14. bunyon Posted: July 02, 2014 at 12:55 PM (#4741938)

In a perfect world, Williams should have known about Harper's preference before it went public, and started him in CF right away. That would have avoided any negative fall-out.


Put Harper in LF, tell him he would have been in CF if he'd kept things in house and tell him it will be revisited next spring.


Or, just dither for another couple of weeks until Harper sprains his pinky again.
   15. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: July 02, 2014 at 12:55 PM (#4741939)
Unless you have some heavy dWAR numbers to indicate that Espinosa is just amazingly better at 2B than Rendon, you go with the offense of Span.
   16. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: July 02, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4741940)
Espinosa is a better hitter than Span vs. LHP, so you can make a case for Harper in center, Zimmerman in left, Rendon at third and Espinosa at second vs. lefties.


It might make sense to modify your defensive alignment based on fly-ball/ground-ball tendencies of your starter on any given day.
   17. DanO Posted: July 02, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4741941)
If the giants had a deep bench they would not have lost 15 of the last 20 games.


The Giants had a reasonable bench, but were missing *three* of their key starters during that 20 game stretch. It's asking a lot of any bench to replace Pagan, Belt, and Scutaro all at the same time.
   18. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4741945)
Fangraphs' David Cameron has weighed in on the issue, and his opinion is sorry Bryce, but Matt Williams is right.


That would be a better analysis if it accounted for the risk that Zimmerman could exacerbate the severity of his shoulder issues by trying to make throws from third base that he isn't strong enough to make anymore.
   19. bunyon Posted: July 02, 2014 at 01:05 PM (#4741947)
It might make sense to modify your defensive alignment based on fly-ball/ground-ball tendencies of your starter on any given day.

This is true enough. None of these people have exactly nailed down ironclad cases for any position. They're all roughly similar with the caveat that Harper has way more upside than any of the others.

Can Zimmerman play third or not? If he can't, that settles a few things.
   20. cardsfanboy Posted: July 02, 2014 at 01:06 PM (#4741948)

Fangraphs' David Cameron has weighed in on the issue, and his opinion is sorry Bryce, but Matt Williams is right.


Well that pretty much proves that Harper is right.

Personally, I don't think the question is nearly as cut and dried as Cameron (or some others) makes it out to be, which is why we're going to see both options used moving forward, with a variety of lineups and guys being played at different positions.


And that is how it should be... the thought of a set lineup would tick me off if I was the fan of that team. There is no reason to have a good bench and a set lineup.


Harper's complaint basically comes down to "but Brycie wanna play center!!!!" Wah.


After years of being in the same division as the Braves, Harper is picking up one of the secrets of their success.
   21. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: July 02, 2014 at 01:15 PM (#4741954)
In a perfect world, Williams should have known about Harper's preference before it went public, and started him in CF right away. That would have avoided any negative fall-out.

Williams isn't making these decisions completely alone, or in a vacuum.

Team management clearly had (and continues to have) reservations about the ability of Harper to be a full-time center fielder before Williams was even hired. That's a significant part of the reason why Denard Span was acquired after the 2012 season in the first place and why Harper hasn't played there much since.

Rizzo and Williams are pretty close, so you can be quite sure that they talk all the time and are more or less on the same page in their thinking.
   22. Hank G. Posted: July 02, 2014 at 01:18 PM (#4741959)
Span's not just the best defensive centerfielder, but he's also the closest thing the Nats have to a prototypical leadoff hitter. Obviously a sub-.320 OBP leadoff hitter isn't much of an asset, but Williams clearly prefers having a light-hitting speedy guy hitting leadoff.


If your prototype is Bobby Richardson.

Span is probably (slightly) better than Espinosa, but there is no way he should be leading off, prototypical or not. The man is an out machine.
   23. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: July 02, 2014 at 01:41 PM (#4741980)
Span is probably (slightly) better than Espinosa, but there is no way he should be leading off, prototypical or not. The man is an out machine.


Who do you bat there instead? Harper? (He would whine about it.)
   24. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 01:53 PM (#4741990)
Who do you bat there instead? Harper? (He would whine about it.)


I'd probably use Werth there, if it were my call. He gets on base, and he can run a little.
   25. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: July 02, 2014 at 02:05 PM (#4742001)
I'd probably use Werth there, if it were my call. He gets on base, and he can run a little.


That's the spreadsheets talking, man. Jason Werth isn't a leadoff hitter. Not on the Nats. I guess if he went to the Tigers with all of those boppers in the middle of the order, maybe. But not on the Nats. Optimal lineup construction games are fun little nerd fests for folks like us on the intarwebs, but in the real world, you play the players. The Nats aren't going to lose the NL East just because Matt Williams hits Denard Span leadoff.
   26. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: July 02, 2014 at 02:14 PM (#4742007)
We're going to win the NL East because we're clearly the best team in the division. If we can stay healthy, it should only be a matter of time until we start running away with it.
   27. An Athletic in Powderhorn™ Posted: July 02, 2014 at 02:42 PM (#4742028)
EDIT: Never mind. The Nats' Michael Taylor is not the Michael Taylor I was thinking of. One of them should change their name to Giancarlo or something.
   28. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 02, 2014 at 02:45 PM (#4742030)
The "issue" is overblown. Harper didn't say anything that Ryan Zimmerman hadn't already said. Maybe Harper should have kept his opinion to himself, but it's not like he, or anyone else, is at all resistant to William's decisions. The Nationals will probably try a variety of combinations with Zimmerman, and the logical first step is seeing if he can still play third. If he can't, the Harper in CF configuration likely becomes more frequent.
   29. Bruce Chen's Huge Panamanian Robot Posted: July 02, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4742039)
I'm so sick of hearing about this.
   30. McCoy Posted: July 02, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4742090)
To sidetrack the thread for a moment and to bring it to another Cameron article. Today he has a new post about the Padres why it was weird and kind of pointless to extend Smith. I cannot agree with him on this issue. Cameron thinks that Smith will be about average during this new contract and that the Padres won't be good during his extension so it is a pointless move and instead they should trade him for whatever value they can get. I don't agree with him on this because Smith has definite value to any team out there and at what he'll cost he won't be an impediment to any future moves (as Cameron did note). Even if Smith falls back some he makes a terrific left hand side of an outfield platoon situation. In fact if Denorfia hadn't tanked this year against lefties they would have made a wonderful platoon. One in which they might very well have gotten 8 or so WAR for at rock bottom prices. Like I said even if he falls back some if you pair him with a guy who hits lefties decently you're not talking about league average production but an outfield position that would produce between 4 to 6 WAR a year. That kind of production you want on your team.

As to the other point which is that the Padres should be building up depth in their minor league system thus they should trade him I don't agree with that because I don't believe the Padres have enough talent to acquire the depth to produce the one or two talented prospects. I mean how many league average or better players do you want to trade away in the hopes of finding a decent prospect that might pan out in 2 or more years? At some point you have to accumulate talent and if you can get 4 to 6 WAR (or more) out of a position for significantly less than 10 million dollars you should do it.

You should never purposefully get rid of lots of cheap league average or better talent unless your team already sucks and your minor league system sucks and thus you're going to suck for awhile. Don't tank unless you're already tanking. If you're at 75 wins you need to make moves like turning an OF spot into a platoon spot not discarding those players for prospects in the minors.
   31. just plain joe Posted: July 02, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4742094)
That would be a better analysis if it accounted for the risk that Zimmerman could exacerbate the severity of his shoulder issues by trying to make throws from third base that he isn't strong enough to make anymore.


If Zimmerman can't make the throws from third how does he get the ball back in from left field, run it back in and hand it to the shortstop (the Mickey Rivers solution). I realize that the throw from third requires more zip than lobbing the ball in from the outfield but if he has shoulder issues even soft tosses from the outfield are going to cause him difficulty.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 04:00 PM (#4742109)
You should never purposefully get rid of lots of cheap league average or better talent unless your team already sucks and your minor league system sucks and thus you're going to suck for awhile. Don't tank unless you're already tanking. If you're at 75 wins you need to make moves like turning an OF spot into a platoon spot not discarding those players for prospects in the minors.

Concur.

Also, Smith had Lasik late last year, and has been mashing ever since. He OPS-ed 1000 post-surgery in 2013, and has a 158 OPS+ so far in 2014.

The improvement may very well be real.
   33. Ron J2 Posted: July 02, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4742110)
#31 There's a long history of left-fielders with arm problems. Riggs Stephenson and Shannon Stewart both had arm problems their entire professional career (both got hurt playing football). It's manageable.
   34. Rob_Wood Posted: July 02, 2014 at 04:06 PM (#4742116)
I only have one thing to contribute to this subject. A few weeks ago MLB Network was showing a Nationals game. Span was like 0-20 or something (but not really looking all that bad at the plate). I was watching that game with my daughter. She said that Span should be benched since he is a bad hitter. I said every player goes through hot and cold streaks throughout a long season and a good manager doesn't over-react to them. I even went so far as to guess that Span would get 10 hits in his next five games (my daughter gave me an unbelieving look and said "Sure Dad"). If I remember correctly, Span got nine hits in his next five games and my daughter doesn't think I am quite as dumb as she did before.

P.S. Please don't ruin my story by pointing out that I succumbed to the false law of large numbers or that I implicitly taught it to my innocent daughter.
   35. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 04:14 PM (#4742124)
Two things seem obvious to me:

(1) Bryce Harper has serious immaturity and entitlement issues.
(2) Matt Williams is not capable of nurturing Harper toward maturity while also keeping the rest of the team rowing in the same direction.

Here, I'll add a third thing as a bonus:

(3) But then again, very few people are capable of that. Washington should make a serious effort to locate and hire one.
   36. Buck Coats Posted: July 02, 2014 at 06:28 PM (#4742259)
Isn't the obvious answer (assuming Zim can play 3rd at all - if he can't the question is moot) to platoon Span and Espinosa?
   37. shoewizard Posted: July 02, 2014 at 07:00 PM (#4742293)
Matt Williams knows that trading harper is not the answer here.

It seems what Williams is doing is whatever he thinks is best with the lineup, while refusing to trash his star player in public or publicly feud with him in any way.

That seems like a very rational approach to me. This will blow over.


   38. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: July 02, 2014 at 07:07 PM (#4742297)
A split second after Williams got wind of Harper's remarks, whether through the grapevine or in the press, he should have penciled Harper into CF that very night. Then when Harper inevitably misplays a deep fly ball the issue dies a quick death. He owes nobody an explanation at that point.
   39. Walt Davis Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:36 PM (#4742360)
Did I miss something? I haven't been following this saga but the quotes I saw from Harper were along the lines of "this isn't the lineup I'd prefer but the important thing is I'm in the lineup." In fact, back in the deep, dark history of yesterday, the excerpt posted here has him adding "But he’s got the lineup card, he’s got the pen and he knows what he’s doing."

Is this really a controversy for anybody but sports radio and controversy-stirring journalists?

I'll grant that Harper should have just kept quiet but did I miss something where Harper said he'd refuse to play unless he was in CF? That Williams is a moron for not putting him in CF?

And again, we want it both ways. We gripe when players give pat, boring answers to questions; we gripe when they offer an honest opinion even on benign subjects like this.

   40. Depressoteric Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:46 PM (#4742363)
I know this will piss both of them off to no end, but the two people who are making the most sense in this thread are Joey B. and Sam H.
   41. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:48 PM (#4742364)
Who do you bat there instead? Harper? (He would whine about it.)

That's the spreadsheets talking, man.

The last person I want to listen to on a Nats-related tempest-in-a-teacup is Southern Sam. Werth should bat first -- he's done it before -- and Span eighth or ninth.
   42. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 10:02 PM (#4742373)
(41) Wait, there's actually a topic on which you'd listen to Sam?

Scary. I think you should seek help now.
   43. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: July 02, 2014 at 10:13 PM (#4742377)
We gripe when players give pat, boring answers to questions; we gripe when they offer an honest opinion even on benign subjects like this.

Two different sets of "we". I enjoy players giving honest answers and I also get a perverse enjoyment out of avoiding the shoutfests that ensue debating the weighty implications of those answers.

This is a tempest in a teapot spun up by reporters looking for page views on what they are certain will be a hot topic because it concerns Bryce Harper. Writers gonna write. Nobody is obligated to read.
   44. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 10:29 PM (#4742385)
(41) Wait, there's actually a topic on which you'd listen to Sam?

Hmmm. Can I get back to you after the holiday weekend?
   45. Sunday silence Posted: July 02, 2014 at 11:02 PM (#4742406)
Did I miss something? I haven't been following this saga but the quotes I saw from Harper were along the lines of "this isn't the lineup I'd prefer but the important thing is I'm in the lineup." In fact, back in the deep, dark history of yesterday, the excerpt posted here has him adding "But he’s got the lineup card, he’s got the pen and he knows what he’s doing."


I know the quote I read from the Cameron article, linked to above, sounded completely innocuous. Like I think Zimmerman should be in LF. And then this gets translated into Haper has immaturity issues.

Total overreaction, unless he said something else.

On the issue of Zimmerman's arm. Is there really an injury there or is it more like he has some sort of mental thing where every so often he airmails the throw to first? I guess a few months ago they were talking about his mechanics being messed up because of I dunno, some injury or something.

I think he can get by in LF cause if he airmails a throw every so often, it might not be a guaranteed extra base like it would be at third. I dont think playing LF is going to hurt his arm. Does anyone know more about that?
   46. Walt Davis Posted: July 02, 2014 at 11:22 PM (#4742419)
From Wiki, 2012-13 offseason: Zimmerman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in the off-season to repair the scar tissue that had bothered him in 2012.

And from Yahoo Sports June this year: The Washington Nationals prepared Ryan Zimmerman for a return to the majors Tuesday night at an unfamiliar position: left field. Zimmerman comes in having appeared 1,119 times at third base and once at shortstop over parts of 10 major league seasons.That's nearly 10,000 big-league innings, and all but nine at third base.

He's moving to left, at least temporarily, because his arthritic right shoulder makes it hard for Zimmerman to make the required throws consistently from third base. Zimmerman also has been on the disabled list because of a broken right thumb.


He hasn't been the same defensively since 2010 but Rfield still puts him at average for 3B for 2011-13.

Maybe Rendon can act as a relay man.
   47. Scott Fischthal Posted: July 02, 2014 at 11:27 PM (#4742423)
So look, there are a couple of issues here. One is that Harper probably shouldn't be criticizing his manager's lineup construction in public, irrespective of the fact that Matt Williams has no understanding of how to construct a lineup, make the best of use of his offensive talent or take advantage of the admittedly complex concept called "platooning".

The second is that Danny Espinosa is a substantially better hitter than Denard Span... against lefties. Against righties, he's basically helpless:

vs. Lefties:
Espinosa:
Career .264/.339/.454 (130 OPS+); 2014: .277/.365./.462 (161 tOPS+, 132 sOPS+)

Span:
Career .279./354/.375 (99); 2014: .265/.311/.386 (98/96)

Over 50 pts OPS career (and that's misleading, because Span hasn't performed at those levels in Washington; he was at .223/.278/.261 last year), 120 pts this year.

Espinosa's issue is that he's hitting .196/.253/.307 against righties, with a 75/8 K/W (vs. 18/7 against lefties). You have to wonder whether he should just give up switch hitting, since it's hard to imagine his platoon split as an exclusively righthanded hitter could be any larger than it is now.

While an Espinosa/Span platoon may seem odd, that's probably what the Nats should be doing, especially since it's not clear that either defensive alignment is superior.
   48. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: July 03, 2014 at 02:04 PM (#4742756)
I know this will piss both of them off to no end, but the two people who are making the most sense in this thread are Joey B. and Sam H.

Not pissed off. Mostly I'm amused at:

1) How completely obsessed he is with Bryce Harper.
2) How predictably he crawls into and out of his box based upon how the Braves are playing. He's like this site's version of Punxsutawney Phil, only about ten times more reliable.
   49. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 03:06 PM (#4742797)
Hey, Punxsatawney Phil is plenty reliable--he sees his shadow every single year. It's always good to confirm his eyesight is still functional once a year, though.

The really amusing thing about the Groundhog Day tradition is that in western Pennsylvania, being assured there would be only six more weeks of winter as of February 2 would be a wonderful thing. You don't get to put your winter coat into mothballs around there until the end of April.
   50. Dale Sams Posted: July 03, 2014 at 09:01 PM (#4742985)
You can have 4 of list B and C or 3 of list A and B

A:Koji,Lester, Drew (salary picked up)Betts
B:Shane, Holt, Bradley
C: Gomes, AJP, Doubront, Webster

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NewsblogJULY 31 2014 OMNICHATTER/TRADE DEADLINE CHATTER
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NewsblogCardinals Acquire John Lackey
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NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread July, 2014
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NewsblogA's Acquire Lester, Gomes For Cespedes
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NewsblogOTP - July 2014: Republicans Lose To Democrats For Sixth Straight Year In Congressional Baseball Game
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NewsblogRed Sox trade rumors: 'Very good chance' John Lackey and Jon Lester are traded - Over the Monster
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NewsblogGeorge "The Animal" Steele Mangles A Baseball
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NewsblogAthletics, Twins Swap Tommy Milone, Sam Fuld
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NewsblogHardball Talk: Calcaterra: Nationals-Orioles TV Money Dispute about to Explode
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NewsblogSOE: Minor League Manhood - A first-hand account of masculine sports culture run amok.
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NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 7-31-2014
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NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread- July 2014
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NewsblogDifference of opinion on baseball stats as Derek Jeter climbs all-time hits list
(17 - 2:19pm, Jul 31)
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NewsblogWhy the Mets Are Right to Save the New York State Pavilion
(11 - 2:12pm, Jul 31)
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NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 7-30-2014
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