Great game tonight to close out the White Sox series. A few observations from the game: Beyond getting on base three times, which was great, Denard Span seemed to be in the perfect position every time a ball was hit his way. And the wind was tricky tonight. That same wind also kept 2 White Sox balls in the ballpark, which was nice. But it got even with us, by keeping 2 potential homers in the park from, of all people, Steve Lombardozzi.
Interesting interleague observation: did Robin Ventura forget that he could pull a double switch mid-inning? It’s understandable since these games are pretty rare for him, but it forced him to have to bat a pitcher at leadoff after he came in to get just one out the prior half inning.
Another random observation: it didn’t matter in the end, but because of a lazy tag by Chicago , it looked like Werth was actually safe at third on Harper’s final hit. Now it’s on to what should be a great series with the Braves.
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.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, so I figure I better get something up in November before the month totally passes me by. Been recovering from rotator cuff surgery, so typing takes twice as long as usual. I’m using Chien-Ming Wang as a little bit of inspiration, since my shoulder feels worse right now than it did pre-surgery. Eventually they say it will be much better, so I have to hope I’ll be 100% again at some point. Wang came back to pitch in MLB, so I’m optimistic that I can get back to a weekend warrior level.
Many fans are keeping their eye on the winter meetings in Dallas, to see if the Nats come out of there with a piece or two that would enable a playoff push next year. I’m all for finding the right pieces, but not at the expense of mortgaging the future. Like many close observers of the Nats, I think 2013 will be the year to make a serious playoff push. I’m not trying to be pessimistic, just realistic, while playing in the same division as a few other perennial playoff teams. I would like to see us acquire a front line starter, either as an innings-eater and staff leader, such as Buhrle or possibly Oswalt (with an incentive-laden contract) via free agency, if the price is right. Or, we could trade for a higher-caliber, entering-their-prime starter, if they are under contract for at least 3 more years. A center fielder with either leadoff capability or power would be great, and I acknowledge that need along with everyone else. But I’d like to see a 1-2 year solution there, barring a trade. In 2 years, we’ll have a glut of outfielders, and not enough room to play them.
As for first base, I’m not sure whether to laugh or be angry at those who suggest we sign some help at first base. I’d prefer to keep Morse at first, for no other reason that him playing there coincided with him hitting over .300 and 30+ home runs. But if the front office is intent on playing LaRoche at first, then Morse can shift there when LaRoche needs a day off, which also frees up an outfield spot for a bench player to get a spot start and some ABs. To use a roster spot on another 1B would be downright silly.
If we enter spring training with no major signings or trades, I’m fine with that too, as long as that means we get a long look this season at Milone, Peacock, Lombardozzi, and others to see if they are going to be long-term pieces of the puzzle. And my acquiescence to that plan in 2012 would be with the strong assumption that we would be major free agent players for the pieces we need going into 2013.