The news this week that Espinosa will be playing through a torn rotator cuff this season and that Jayson Werth’s wrist is still not back at full strength certainly caused more than a little concern. Let’s not forget that Zim is coming off offseason shoulder surgery, and that Stras is not all that far removed from his Tommy John procedure. On the bright side, I can speak from experience that it is possible to play through a torn labrum, assuming you are not a pitcher. I had a torn labrum and rotator cuff for many years and only finally got it repaired 14 months ago (although often referred to interchangeably, they are not exactly the same injury). The rehab was brutal, and makes me even more impressed that LaRoche went through it and then came back last season and put up the numbers that he did. Hopefully Danny can keep his shoulder strong and play through the injury. If not though, Davey must not hesitate to play Lombo. He should at least see some increased time there to give Espinosa a rest more often.
As for Werth, I actually liked him as a leadoff hitter. Wrist injury or not, I think his days of hitting 25+ homers per year are over. I’m fine with him in the 6th spot if Span lives up to expectations. But for all the heat I’ve given Werth, he is a smart player. He took a lot of pitches (and walks) in that role, when I’m sure he would have rather been swinging the bat. Working a pitch count, and letting other players see what pitches a guy throws in a particular count, is a valuable skill that does not show up in a stat sheet. Not to mention his stalling tactics when there are 2 outs and the pitcher just batted. Team player. They should not hesitate to put him back at leadoff if Span need a day off or spends any time on the DL.
First off, I like to see the addition of Dan Haren to the pitching staff. I expect he’ll be an almost identical plug-in for Edwin Jackson, in terms of eating innings and hopefully hitting a double-digit win total. He brings some solid veteran experience to the staff and team. But he’s also a few years older than Edwin, and he had some injury issues last season. Let’s hope he does not break down this season and leave us with a hole there. Kudos to Mike Rizzo for getting him on a one-year deal. Also great that we did not have to surrender any draft picks, since he was non-tendered by the Angels.
On the flip side of this, the move apparently puts to rest for now the rumors of an Espinosa for Shields deal with the Rays. I’ve been meaning to examine our second base situation, and this provides a good opportunity. Simply put, Espinosa needs to cut down on his strikeout total or he needs to be traded or moved into a utility role. He’s a great fielder, but his batting average and strikeout totals need to improve if he is to remain an everyday player. Hopefully the rumors will serve as a wakeup call to him and he will work on his hitting in the offseason. I’d be interested to see what Lombo could do in a full-time role. Obviously you lose some power, but his average might make up for it in other ways. His range is also similar to Espinosa’s. We’ll see what happens in this regard over the next few weeks.
I haven’t posted in a while, so I’ll try and keep my comments on several topics brief:
Jim Riggleman, wow. I wonder how long it took him to realize whoa, I just made a huge mistake. No one in baseball has judged his decision as a wise move. Also, he must be doing well with his retirement accounts if he can walk away from $350,000 for the second half of the season. He may have been a “low-paid” manager, but that’s not chump change.
Morse and Espinosa: Keep it up! You guys make the games much more exciting.
Jayson Werth: Guys, it’s time to quit it with the puff-piece comments about what a hard worker this guy is and how he’s due to break out soon. It’s time to sit him down for a while and let a hotter hitter play until Werth can get his head straight. And for all the talk about his defense, I’ve seen a handful of instances recently where he has shied away from potential catches near the wall and the stands. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, but come on. I predicted in the offseason that he’d average .272/22/75 over 3 season before the Nationals looked to move him (which would be very tough), and even those numbers now look to have been too rosy.
Starting pitching: You guys have outdone yourselves. Amazing job this year.
Sixteen days until opening day, and the Nats have looked pretty good so far this spring. While Bryce Harper has received much of the press surrounding the team this spring, their steady play and winning record have not garnered as much attention. There is more optimism surrounding this team than any I can recall since their initial spring of 2005.
I do think there are a good number of supporters who drank a lot of the Kool-Aid this year; that is to say they have been impressed with the team’s spring performance so far but seem to have forgotten that the Nats went 0 for 2 this offseason when trying to land a couple of top-flight starters to the mix. I do believe that starting pitching will remain their weakest point this season. Livan and Jordan Zimmermann have looked great so far this spring, but we need to keep in mind that JZimm has all of 4 wins in his major league career and that we can’t expect Livan to duplicate his impressive season from a year ago. I do expect Marquis to bounce back nicely since he appears to be healthy. No one knows which John Lannan will show up this year, but we all hope it’s the one who may be primed for a breakout season. On the offensive side, I love that Morse has had a great spring and seized the LF job. I’ve been impressed by him ever since we acquired him. I really hope Espinosa matures quickly as a major league hitter, and I’m hopeful that Ian Desmond is able to cut down on his errors so that we don’t lose his bat in the lineup. Center field could be a mess for awhile until someone separates themselves. Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later. I’m just trying to be optimistic but also realistic. Go Nats!
Posted in Opening Day, Spring Training, Starting Rotation, Uncategorized, Washington Nationals
Tagged Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Jason Marquis, John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann, Livan Hernandez, Michael Morse, Nationals, Spring Training, Washington Nationals, Washington Nationals Blog