Monday, March 8, 2010

The Phantom Waiver Claim

I remember driving around PG County somewhere when I heard the news that Cristian Guzman had been claimed off waivers by somebody. He was the perfect candidate for a fresh start, as he had lost the leadoff spot to Nyjer Morgan, and DC critics were ripping him for, well, being Cristian Guzman. Instead, Guzman hears the news and voices his displeasure through all channels. To make matters worse, the waiver claim turns out to be some faulty reporting on the Boston side, and Washington is forced to pull him back, stroke his ego, and tell him everything will be OK.

Cristian Guzman is the old dog that cannot learn new tricks, and he knows it. His overall abilities are regressing, and his desperate bat has to jump on the first hittable pitch he thinks he sees. His K:BB ratio will probably be in excess of 7 this season, yet the plan is to trot him out there in the #2 spot and hope Morgan can steal on the first pitch each time. Double plays increase exponentially despite his speed. To tell the truth, without Nick Johnson around, the Nats don't have that patient presence to anchor down that spot. The clever thing to do would be move Zim, Dunn, and the Hammer up a spot in the lineup, but Riggleman is scared to death of innovation (and I feel like I can write this freely as I am sure he is yet to discover "The Internets"). Dukes and Desmond aren't quite developed enough as hitters to be reliable, and Kennedy, while more patient, isn't going to provide the offensive threat. Sure, batting Zim second will probably shave 10 bombs off his yearly output, and if Morgan does steal, it opens up first base to pitch around him, but honestly, pitching around him to get to Dunn is just foolish.

The only thing Guz has going for him batting second is his ability to bat left-handed... to bad he sucks at it. In the AL, Guzman bats 8th or 9th; too bad the Nationals don't feel they can share this luxury.

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