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No DL yet, but Span bracing for possibility

Jul 7, 2015, 11:23 PM EST

USA Today Sports Images

Denard Span, in official terms, was still a member of the Nationals’ active roster late Tuesday night. The veteran center fielder, though, sure sounded like a guy who believes he needs to take some extended time off with a back injury that just won’t go away.

“I’ve tried to play through it for the last month,” Span said following Tuesday night’s 5-0 loss to the Reds. “I don’t think I’m doing myself or the team any good. I’ve been playing every four days and then getting a day off here and there. I can’t do that. I can’t do that to the team. It puts the team in a bad spot.”

Since first experiencing back spasms during a June 7 loss to the Cubs, Span has either been out of the lineup or forced out of a game early eight separate times. He has so far never missed two consecutive games, but after leaving Monday night’s loss in the third inning and being held out of Tuesday night’s games, he underwent an MRI to determine if there is a more serious underlying injury.

Span and manager Matt Williams said Tuesday night those MRI results had not yet been reviewed by a back specialist, and that no decisions would be made until that happened. Williams, though, was unusually late to his postgame news conference — a delay typically accompanies a roster transaction — and Span sounded like someone resigned to a DL stint afterward.

“Right now we’re waiting to see what the doctor’s going to do,” he said. “I’ve tried to take it into my own hands and tried to play. I’ve tried to tough it out for the last month, and it’s been the same old cycle. I’ve listened to my body. My body is obviously telling me something. It’s locked up on me about four times now.

“It ain’t about being smart, because I’ve been dumb, I think, for the last month. Now I’ve gotta finally be smart and listen to my body and find out what’s going on before I go any further. I don’t want to mess around with my back. That could be a career-ending-type injury. I don’t want to mess around with my back.”

Regardless of the MRI results, Span is scheduled to see the specialist in person Thursday, when the Nationals are off before a weekend series in Baltimore.

Despite all the sporadic time out of the lineup this season — he has missed 25 total games due to a variety of ailments — Span has performed well when healthy enough to play. He’s hitting .304 with a .367 on-base percentage, five homers, 22 RBI and is 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts, all while playing an exceptional center field.

Span’s importance to the Nationals can’t be questioned. The club is 35-24 when he has played this season, only 11-14 when he has been out of the lineup.

The 31-year-old, a pending free agent, was one of five regulars out of the Nationals lineup Tuesday night, joined by Yunel Escobar (tight hamstring) and three players already on the DL (Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth).

Should Span need to go on the DL himself, the Nationals would find themselves dangerously thin on productive, established, big-league hitters. Right now, though, Span can only be concerned about his own uncertain status.

“I’m very anxious right now,” he said. “I want to know what’s going on.”

  1. stoatva - Jul 7, 2015 at 11:36 PM

    I blame Calvin Coolidge, personally. He’s got to go!

  2. veejh - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:22 AM

    I hope we’ve hit the bottom of the injury plagued season. Any more players get hurt, things could get real dicey.

  3. rayvil01 - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:34 AM

    Tough sledding. Got a feeling that Denard is DL-bound. Something is causing those spasms.

    Taylor looks better in the 8-slot than in leadoff. Would den Dekker be a possibility for leadoff with this makeshift lineup? He’s plenty fast.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:16 AM

      As thin as the Mets are with outfielders and they didn’t keep denDekker should tell you something.

  4. Hiram Hover - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:39 AM

    I love Span and hope he’s back and 100% (or as close as possible) soon.

    But I have a hard time agreeing that he’s been “playing an exceptional center field.” The defensive metrics aren’t worth much over half a season, but they haven’t liked Span much this year, and the eye test–my eye, anyway–agrees.

    When Span is at his best, what’s remarkable is how easy he makes it look. This year, he’s sometimes made it look pretty hard, and others times, he just hasn’t gotten to the ball, period.

    The Nats are better with him–his offense and role at lead-off have been key. But we should be realistic in assessing what he offers, this season and down the road.

    • zmunchkin - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:58 AM

      Most defensive metrics have rarely liked Span – at one point last year there were something like 180 outfielders that those metrics metrics rated as better defensively.

      I do agree his defense has not been as good as in the past. But it still pretty good.

      • Doc - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:28 AM

        Defensive metrics last year had Span at a -8.0 WAR or some ridiculous number like that. Then they corrected the figure to something more realistic.

        Whatever the real stats are, Span does the job better than whoever the Nats have to replace him.

        Yikes, things are falling apart in a hurry here. Time for Desi to man up!

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:35 AM

        Up to last year, the defensive metrics liked but didn’t love Span’s defense. Last year they had him in negative territory, which surprised me too.

        But there’s no question that he’s not as good this year. I know why that is–he’s been dinged up–but it needs to be acknowledged and figured into the team’s plans.

  5. Hiram Hover - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:39 AM

    I love Span and hope he’s back and 100% (or as close as possible) soon.

    But I have a hard time agreeing that he’s been “playing an exceptional center field.” The defensive metrics aren’t worth much over half a season, but they haven’t liked Span much this year, and the eye test–my eye, anyway–agrees.

    When Span is at his best, what’s remarkable is how easy he makes it look. This year, he’s sometimes made it look pretty hard, and others times, he just hasn’t gotten to the ball, period.

    The Nats are better with him–his offense and role at lead-off have been key. But we should be realistic in assessing what he offers, this season and down the road.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:39 AM

      Well, crap. My apologies for the double post.

      • ArVAFan - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:00 AM

        That’s WP for you. If it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying twice!

      • dcwx61 - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:26 AM

        this reminds me of the new section 313 cheer after we read the injury report
        C-R-A-P, crap,crap,crap,BOOOOO!

      • npb99 - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:06 AM

        It’s our version of “let’s play two!”

  6. laddieblahblah - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:12 AM

    Very tough to watch the Nats lose, once again, to the also-ran Reds. With only 3 regulars in the lineup, they had no offense against Cueto’s masterful performance. The bench could not come through, this time, against one of the game’s best.

    I don’t like Taylor in CF. I hope he is not the “best defensive center fielder” in the Nats’ organization, because he has too many holes in his defensive game, IMO. If Span goes on the DL, the Nats will miss him at the leadoff slot. MAT does not belong there, either. I can see why Rizzo went with he best defensive center fielder on the draft board last month.

    The Nats have played very well for a team with so many key injuries to so many marquee players. We do not know the real status of Werth, Rendon and Zim – and now we are left to wonder about the leadoff guy, too. It does appear that Escobar, at least, will be back soon.

    We never know what Rizzo may do, but no one would be surprised if he did something to shore up the offense. Losing SS, once again, does not help, either.

    Time for the Nats to get a break, or two.

    • dcwx61 - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:20 AM

      +1

    • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:54 AM

      MAT rates out, both on the eye test and on defensive metrics, as possibly the best defensive LF in all of MLB. Do you think he forgets all of that when he moves over to CF? If Taylor plays there regularly, he’ll be better than “good enough” defensively.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:58 AM

        +1.

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:04 AM

        “MAT rates out, both on the eye test…”

        Not on my eye test. Once again, he turned the wrong way on a ball hit over his head yesterday, spun completely around and whiffed on the catch. Span makes that catch, IMO, when he is healthy. MAT has had trouble reading the ball in CF all year long, often takes the wrong route to it, and fails to make the catch, or even to put leather on it, way too often. Most often, he has difficulty with balls hit directly over his head, even though he has been playing CF for the past few years.

        He has a strong throwing arm, but his technique in deploying it leaves much to be desired, IMO. I don’t think Rizzo drafts a CF defensive specialist if he really believes MAT is the long-term answer there. Taylor looks much more comfortable in LF, to me.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:39 AM

        I have several friends that are Giants fans, and after the weekend series they were all in the “man, don’t hit the ball at Taylor” camp because the Giants couldn’t find a place in LF to hit the ball that Taylor couldn’t catch it. They also expressed a willingness to take Taylor off of the Nationals’ hands at any time.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:59 AM

      And actually, now that I look it up, not only is Taylor among the leaders in LF by DRS and UZR, UZR loves him in CF as well. He’s faster than Span and has a better arm. Span still gets better reads, but it’s not like Taylor is Bernadina out there (the Shark didn’t get great reads, but made up with impressive closing speed).

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:06 AM

        Speed does not matter if you can’t even get leather on the ball.

    • npb99 - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:08 AM

      I concur that we need yo get healthy but we’ve already gotten a huge break in how weak the division is this year.

    • Doc - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:29 AM

      Or, three!

  7. Joe Seamhead - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:22 AM

    Maybe Espinosa better keep that outfielder glove warmed and oiled up after all.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:33 AM

      Thinking the same after reading this and of course nothing happens until Rendon returns.

      • rayvil01 - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:43 AM

        Tony isn’t running yet. He’s eligible to come off the DL this weekend. Hoping he’s ready for the Dodgers’ series post-ASG. But, him not running yet is worrisome.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:56 AM

        Yep, scratch that then pre-ASG

  8. wearenationals - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:31 AM

    Off topic. I’m going to just leave this here for those who travel to FL for spring training…
    http://www.springtrainingonline.com/nats-stros-spring-complex-a-go/

  9. Theophilus T.S. - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:39 AM

    The stress on the team’s depth is becoming critical. Zimmerman isn’t going to be back anytime soon. They’re being coy about the “new medicine” he received but it was probably an injectable non-steriodal anti-inflammatory. It will take at least a couple of weeks (personal experience) to measure the effectiveness. Even if things improved the rehab process will continue. I don’t see him coming back before mid-August — and who knows if he’ll be able to hit, then. The silence about Rendon’s progress is deafening. No matter how well Werth seems to be doing, he’s another whose ability to contribute right away is problematic. His history suggests that he takes a long time to get his timing back.

    If Span goes on the DL, I still predict the call-up will be Turner. There are no OFs at Syracuse that shout “major-league ready!” Tony Gwynn, Jr.? Doesn’t add any pop to the lineup. They need to find some “pop” from among the bench players and they can audition Turner in Desmond’s spot and hope to get lucky, twice — Turner’s bat plus an extended sit for Desmond to work on his swing-and-miss problems in the batting cage, on the tee.

    • laddieblahblah - Jul 8, 2015 at 8:56 AM

      My guess is that is one of the options that Rizzo is weighing. Bringing Taylor up and keeping him on the 25-man worked out well for the team. Turner is a fast learner. If he clicks, it could give the team a needed boost. Not much to lose by giving it a shot, then sending him back down when Tony returns, whenever that might be.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:01 AM

      Actually reports are that Werth is swinging the bat again and is getting ready to go out on a rehab assignment. August 1 is still the target date.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:01 AM

      I know people love Turner–I do too. But bringing him up now would be crazy rushing him, and burning a year of team control to boot.

      If things are really that dire in late July, I’d expect to see Rizzo do a trade before he calls Turner up. And remember, for all the Nats’ problems, they are leading their division right now.

      No need to have your hand hovering over the panic button.

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:13 AM

        Turner is just an option – I am sure Rizzo has multiple options which he is considering. Neither you nor I know how well Turner will perform during the remainder of July. I read the same opinion about rushing Tony Rendon to the bigs a couple of years ago. I knew he would do well, that he was ready, and that he would replace Espinosa in the every day lineup. It was not even a close call to me.

        I don’t know that much about Turner to be as sure about him as I was about Rendon, but it is silly to make such broad assertions when very few of us, if any, have actually seen him play. You can bet Rizzo has a much better handle on that situation than either of us, and if he brings Turner up later this month, it will only be because Rizzo thinks he can produce.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:28 AM

        I seem to have touched a nerve with you, laddie, and I’m not sure why. I don’t see where I made sillier or broader assertions than anyone else in this thread, nor pretended to know better than Rizzo.

        But I do know that Rizzo looks long term as well as short term. Bringing up Turner now would be a long-term minus. That has to be weighed in the equation.

        It also seemed sensible to throw the idea of a trade into the discussion–’tis the season (almost), and Rizzo seems to be pretty good at those, no?

      • veejh - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:11 AM

        No way Rizzo burns a year of Turner over this. We are still in 1st in a weak division. Weather the storm u til we get the big boys back.

      • natsdial8 - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:48 AM

        Smart money days we won’t see Trea until Sept callups.

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:52 AM

        So it’s a broad assertion to predict that Turner will not be brought up to replace Span, and it’s not a broad assertion to predict that Turner could be brought up to replace Span. Glad y’all cleared that up.

    • bowdenball - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:06 AM

      Trea Turner has pop? That’s news to the scouts. Here’s a just-published breakdown on Turner:

      Power

      Power is the tool where I am most bearish on Turner. His swing’s linear nature bodes well for line drives. Often, though, I see Trea hit down on the ball, something that does not lead to very many home runs. Turner has the strength and talent to pop one out every now and then, but don’t expect him to hit more than 8-10 home runs over the course of a season.

      Power Grade: 35/40

      http://www.minorleagueball.com/2015/7/8/8909235/washington-nationals-prospect-trea-turner-scouting-report-and

      Also, bringing up Turner for Span and then benching Desmond doesn’t make sense. You still have a hole you need to fill in the lineup if you do that. Turner replaces Desmond … so who replaces the DL-ed Span? You haven’t solved the problem at all.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:26 AM

        That’s a great writeup on a site I’ve really come to respect; thanks for posting that link bowdenball. I encourage everyone to read that assessment, because they simply love

        I have to admit that I enjoyed reading this part of the professional’s assessment:

        Defense

        Turner’s plus speed, premiere athleticism, and solid fundamentals give him every chance to stick at shortstop when he reaches the majors. Any prospect who can defend shortstop at even an average level already has major league value.

        However, I think Turner has the potential to develop even further, perhaps into a plus fielder in time. From the video, the most impressive part of Trea’s defense is his smoothness and preparedness. He gets excellent reads on the ball immediately following contact, and gracefully utilizes his speed tool to correctly position himself. Once he reaches the ball, he stays low and athletic to the ground, allowing his soft hands gobble up the baseball in a way that makes it look like the ball is funneling into his glove. Finally, his near-perfect footwork and above-average arm permit him to complete most plays with ease.

        Note “above average arm” from a scout that has actually seen Turner play. That’s going to come as a tremendous shock to Peric and his friends who have been assuring all of us that Turner lacks the arm and ability to play SS.

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:28 AM

        “You haven’t solved the problem at all.”

        Can you make a more inane comment than that? Turner replaces Span as the leadoff guy. He arguably has more pop than Denard, is faster, is a contact guy with a good enough batting eye to draw his share of walks. He is the best replacement for Span in the Nats lineup in the entire organization. The Nats already have both den Dekker and Taylor to cover CF, in case you had not noticed.

        I’m sure Rizzo has, and it is his job to solve the problem, not mine. We will see what he does, if anything. One thing you and everyone else can be sure of – Rizzo has multiple options for dealing with multiple issues at any given time.

      • bowdenball - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:53 AM

        What are you talking about , Laddie? First of all, my comment was aimed at Theophilus, not you.

        Second, replacing a DL-ed OF in the lineup with a SS of lesser hitting ability while not suggesting how that still-open OF spot will be filled is absolutely “not solving the problem,” and I’m allowed to point that out. It’s not inane, it’s the truth. Turner can’t replace Span in CF, so you still have a hole if you swap him in for Desmond- all you’ve done is traded power for (hopefully) a higher on base percentage at SS. Den Dekker is not a solution. He currently sports a .500 OPS, which we could dismiss as a small sample size if his career OPS were respectable, but it’s not- it’s .623, which is unacceptable even for a middle infielder, let alone a corner OF.

        It’s simple math. You can’t replace Span with Turner because that also means you’ve swapped out Desmond, and 2>1 unless you come up with a replacement who can play the OF and match the combined contributions of Desmond’s offense and Span’s defense. Not sure how it’s “inane” to point that out.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:13 AM

      Trea Turner is an exciting prospect, and has the singular advantage in fan’s minds of not having struggled where they can actually see him. But doesn’t it seem a bit premature to rush a guy who just (as in, last week) turned 22 and is hitting .213/.229/.319/.548 in AAA while striking out 25.5% of the time, while making two errors in his first 11 games? He’s hitting worse in AAA than Desmond is in the bigs. Now I’m not writing him off at all – I’m cautiously optimistic about him as a potential impact player – but he’s still only played 80 professional games.

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:21 AM

        “he’s still only played 80 professional games…”

        And Ryan Zimmerman had played fewer than that when he was brought up at 20 years of age. Rendon played a few more games than that when he was brought up at 23. Each guy is different, and making such generalizations simply puts your mind in a box which you cannot see your way out of. How old is Carlos Correa, or Addison Russell?

        Turner got off to a slow start in AAA, but has cut his K-rate way down, way fast. Rendon was 0 for his first 16 ABs before he took off 2 years ago, and struggled with inside pitches for most of his rookie year, until he figured out how to hit those pitches.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:31 AM

        Agree to disagree, my friend. You think my caution (putting aside the need for a 40 man roster move and the downside of starting Turner’s service clock early) is because my “mind is in a box which [I] cannot see [my] way out of.” I think that you are not thinking clearly but are instead thrashing about looking for the shiny bauble/deus ex machina and falling victim to the “backup quarterback syndrome.” So be it.

        There is of course the chance that we are both right – about each other 🙂

      • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:35 AM

        And after looking back at that thread, laddie, to be fair my call of irrational exuberance was more aptly directed to Theophilus than to you. You and I share a belief that Rizzo and his band are ahead of all of us on this.

  10. ehay2k - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:08 AM

    Perhaps no team needs the all-star break as much as the Nats. Surely even the “healthy” players are nursing injuries. And everyone is pressing to try to pick up the slack, and they play poorly when they press. And they don’t have to put the AAAA lineup out there for a few days, and perhaps we even get a starter back sooner than we think.

    A few days off from the grind will do wonders for the team. At least we can all hope so. The current team is a bit painful to watch.

  11. rlndtln - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:14 AM

    More guys get hurt and now Span will go on the DL and the others stay there forever.Rendon a 24 year old gets hurt and is out months the first time and will not be back this time anytime soon.Desi and Danny never get hurt.Danny can get hit on DPS,run into the stands and get hit with pitches and never is out.Esco will be hurt if you look at him.It is time for these guys to get back on the field and in some cases tough it out.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:31 AM

      That’s a fake tough comment, bro

      • rlndtln - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:17 AM

        Reality .Or there will be no October.The real slide is just starting.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:22 AM

        Thank you, Nostradamus. Your prophecies have been received and will be placed in the appropriate file.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:31 AM

        Don’t throw the prediction away just yet, Hiram, I find “Nostradamus’s” predictions to be encouraging. He is so consistently wrong that when he predicts doom it actually cheers me up!

      • rlndtln - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:33 PM

        Utley or Burris right now with the shape we are in?

      • catcher50 - Jul 8, 2015 at 3:23 PM

        Easy, Burriss. Matty W made a bad mistake, last night. Not hitting Burriss for the Pitcher w/ one out and Desi on 3rd. Emmanuel is a slap hitter, who could have put the ball in play, on the ground. Desi scores. Do we win the game, probably not. Point is that we are much more likely to score the first run. Sometimes just that breaks the logjam.

  12. jd - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:12 AM

    Jonah Keri has been suggesting that the Nats consider trading for Adam Lind to bolster their offense, my initial instinct was to dismiss the idea based on the fact that Ryan Z. is signed for something like 20 years (I’m exaggerating). Lind makes a reasonable $7.5 mil in 2015 and since we are half way through the season the cost for the remainder of the year would only be something less than $4mil and Lind is a productive left handed bat.

    What do you guys think?

    • texnat1 - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:43 AM

      Is Lind signed for just the rest of this year or is he under control for longer? What is the speculation as to what it would take to get him?

      • jd - Jul 8, 2015 at 11:59 AM

        Team option for 2016 at $8 mil.

        I would dangle A.J.Cole.

    • bowdenball - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:54 AM

      I think it’s a great idea, if he can play LF as well. He hasn’t played out there for a couple years, but if Span goes to the DL the situation is so dire that even if he defends poorly he’d still represent a massive upgrade at least until Werth is ready and possibly beyond that.

  13. rlndtln - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:23 AM

    Chase Utley once he gets off the DL list is a good option even after our guys get back.He would be a big upgrade to Uggla and could fill in for our always injured guys or pitch hit from the left side.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:37 AM

      The 2015 Chase Utley? The one hitting .179/.257/.275 that Amaro just announced has lost his starting job?

      Uggla is not just outhitting Utley this year, he’s doing it by a lot (77 OPS+ for Uggla, 49 OPS+ for Utley). Utley might be a better defender than Uggla – not good, but better than Uggla. Might. While costing several million more dollars and giving up something from the minor leagues at the same time. I can see why a Phillies’ phan would go for that.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:53 AM

      OK, you have lost your last ounce of credibility. Chase was a beast, now he’s dead meat. Get real, he can’t run and he can’t hit anymore. I actually take no joy in watching his fall because as a baseball fan I actually loved watching the guy play. But he is so done.

  14. pdowdy83 - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:25 AM

    If SPan goes on the DL he would be eligible to return on July 21st or 22nd. That would be missing a total of 8 or 9 games. IT may be worth it to try to get him healthy.

    A simple move would be to play Taylor in CF, Moore in LF and call up Brian Goodwin since he is already on the 40 man roster and can be used as a PHer, defensive replacement etc short term. No transactions needed. Get Span healthy for the long haul and worry about the end of the season and hopefully the playoffs vs the immediate future.

    Right now in that scenario I would go with this lineup.

    Espinosa
    Escobar
    Harper
    Ramos
    Robinson
    Moore
    Desmond
    Taylor

    Never thought I would suggest Espi leading off…

    • virginiascopist - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:38 AM

      I kind of like that idea, especially as Goodwin is on the 40-man. And I have no problem with Espinosa (or Escobar) leading off.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:44 AM

      With the usual caveat the lineups don’t matter much at all, I’d bat Harper second. That’s where your best hitter should go, and Harper is clearly the best the Nats have by a LOT:

      Escobar 3B
      Harper RF
      Ramos C (the GIDPs hurt less here, because the #3 spot comes up more often with two outs and none on than any other lineup spot)
      Robinson LF (gah)
      Espinosa 2B
      Desmond SS
      Taylor CF
      Moore LF

      No, that’s not a good lineup. But given the weakness of the lineup, I want Harper up as much as possible. Heck, because of that I’d strongly consider the possibility of dropping the pitcher to the #8 spot and move Taylor to the #9 spot to see if he can get on base for subsequent Harper at bats.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:57 AM

      And no, I wouldn’t call up Goodwin. He’s essentially a worse version of Matt den Dekker at this point, and den Dekker isn’t very good. Goodwin’s OPS at AA is .652, following an OPS of .670 at AAA last year. Right now the 5th OF spot is essentially a combination of Moore & Robinson. Goodwin isn’t going to improve that situation.

  15. natsdial8 - Jul 8, 2015 at 10:51 AM

    Buffalo in 3 hole is crazy on several levels .

    • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 11:02 AM

      Well, he has been very good with RISP and RISP w/2 outs situations this year. And as noted earlier it actually reduces the GIDP risk slightly because of the actual hitting profile of the #3 position (comes up most often with none on and two outs).

      When Lobaton starts at catcher, I’d shift Espinosa up into the #3 spot to take advantage of lefties brought in to pitch to Harper.

      • natsdial8 - Jul 8, 2015 at 11:12 AM

        Running out of good options John if our sick bay doesn’t improve . Would like to keep 34 at 3, Clint at 4 .

      • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:18 PM

        Yeah, you simply can’t make a good lineup out of what the Nats have had on the field the last couple of days.

        While #3 is traditionally a “glamor” lineup position, those who have crunched the numbers strongly recommend that a high OBP/no power guy go into the leadoff spot with your best all around hitter in the #2 spot. After that the next best hitter goes in the #4 spot, followed by the #3 spot and then descending along the #5-9 spots.

        Of course, those analyses also pretty much show that the difference between the most optimized and least optimized lineup isn’t really all that much even over an entire season. So I don’t ever get too deep into lineup discussions 🙂

  16. Joe Seamhead - Jul 8, 2015 at 11:04 AM

    Denard Span is worried about his long term health. Actually, he has passed being worried and is now scared for his health. He needs to go through a battery of tests to find out if he is realistically risking his career by continuing to play through whatever it is that ails him.

    I understand people wanting to bring up Brian Goodwin, but I doubt very seriously that he can contribute very much at the ML level. Goodwin and denDekker are levels of players that the Nats used pre-2012. I hate to say it, but Tyler Moore gets my vote to play LF until the walking wounded return, unless Rizzo pulls a rabbit out of his hat.

  17. adamjsalmon - Jul 8, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    More and more I wonder if we need to reacquire Laroche for the stretch run.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:24 PM

      No, not really. He’s not good enough defensively any more to push a bad defensive 1b (Abreu) into the DH role where Adam has been getting almost all of his playing time. His hitting, especially considering that he plays in one of the most power-friendly parks in MLB, has been unremarkable (.225/.331/.380; 103 OPS+). He costs $12M this season and is also still under contract for next season at $13M per year.

      As with Adam Dunn, the White Sox have not exactly been getting good value when they sign aging Nationals’ 1b.

      • virginiascopist - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:46 PM

        I certainly agree we should not pursue a reunion with LaRoche. I do wonder, though, what makes the White Sox think he is not as good as or better than Abreu defensively at 1B. I mean, have they even tried him there? I thought the expectation was they would each split time between 1B and DH, the thinking being that Abreu got tired out at the end of last year.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 2:37 PM

        LaRoche wasn’t much good defensively even last year in DC. For all the ravings about his ability to scoop baseballs in the dirt, ALR had a less-than-perfect glove and the approximate range of a statue. This showed up both in the Mark I Eyeball Test and in the defensive metrics.

        The White Sox essentially signed him to be DH/backup 1b, because they have eyes and watched last year, too. LaRoche hasn’t done anything in Spring Training or during the season to make them reconsider that role.

  18. rlndtln - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:17 PM

    It has happened many times with veteran players.The move off the DL which could have been part of his problem.It would be better to have him right now on the bench versus a useless Burris.

  19. rlndtln - Jul 8, 2015 at 12:26 PM

    Would you rather have Utley here or Burris genius?You can get Utley for his salary.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2015 at 2:35 PM

      Burriss is happy to take the 25th-man-on-the-bench role. Utley is an unknown in that regard, but the number of borderline HoF players willing to be the 25th man type on a roster, even at the end of their careers, is pretty thin. And Utley has 10-and-5 rights to refuse a move if he thinks he’s not going to get P/T.

      Burriss as 25th man vs. Utley as 25th man, with the huge stack o’ money, potential clubhouse issues and some sort of compensation back to the Phillies? Just to tide the team over until Rendon is healthy?

      Yeah, I stick with Burriss. At least he’s not going to start something when he doesn’t play.

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