Monday, September 21, 2009

An Error in Philosophy...

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Well, it looks like the Nationals have cornered the market on "Turd-Ade". I make this statement only because of the continued issues the Nationals seem to have filling out a lineup card. The latest gaffe involved seeing 23, now 24, year-old shortstop Ian Desmond lined up in right field. Players play out of position all of the time, and the most typical reason is for injuries. The Nats, however, like to play people out of position for reasons that will substantially reduce the team's expected chance of winning, or for reasons unknown. This season, the Nats have played Anderson Hernandez, Mike Morse, and now Ian Desmond at a corner outfield spot. This is the one position that most of the season had a surplus of young players. The Nats feel that it is best create a position player rather than to find a position player. Hopefully this is still some residual fallout from the Bowden Era.

As seen before, the Nationals tried to make center fielders out of non center fielders, with Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, and Willie Harris all showing some potential, but ultimately proving what the scouts already knew: they were not center fielders. Only Willie Harris is adequate. The Nats are trying to make a first baseman out of Adam Dunn; less of a stretch, but still comical at times. Garrett Mock was a disaster in long relief before rejuvenating his season as a starter. Alberto Gonzalez has bounced around as well. Now the team wants to take a middle infielder, under team control until it moves to Portland (just kidding, I think), and stick him into the outfield mess?

Ian Desmond, even if he is only as good as Guzman both in the field and at the plate, represents a huge upgrade at the position based on age and cost. In right field, he has little value other than being further from arbitration than Dukes and the Hammer. If the Nats don't like those options, and do not like their organization retreads (who can blame them), corner outfielders grow on trees compared to other positions. Seriously, go get Matt Holliday.

The good teams always seem to have the right player for a position. Their general managers draft players who can play a position at the major league level. The ones who cannot better be named Manny Ramirez. The bad teams continue to cut square pieces to cram into round holes. Being a GM in the AL is hard because the Yankees and Red Sox set the bar high. Being a GM in the NL is more difficult, though, as there is less room for scout error without the DH. Mike Rizzo makes me think that the Nats are steering the ship with a purpose now, but when Desmond trots out to the outfield, it makes me wonder.

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