Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Finding The Core
Expected to be a Core Player of The Future, Expected to be Top Run Producer in the the middle of the Starting Lineup, Austin Kearns has struggled most of 2007 hitting for Our Washington Nationals. Although his Right Field Defense has been nothing short of EXCELLENT--Our Number 25's Power Numbers have been down. At times--his woes smacking baseballs around the park--have overshadowed any other accomplishments reached. At times, he has hurt his team on offense.
At least until the month of September rolled around. While non-contending teams use the last games of the year to give their young players a look-see at Major League Baseball--Austin Kearns has looked to rejuvenate his ballgame. For not only this season, but for years to come.
Vulnerable to the inside pitch--"Bluegrass" has been handcuffed all season long by many Major League Pitchers. A book being written that Austin can't get around on the hard stuff. A conjecture Interim Batting Coach Lenny Harris has worked to modify in Kearns' Game. Our Number 25 struggles began when it became apparent he could not move his wrists, thus the bat, quickly through the strike zone. A Flaw that Harris has spent hours with Austin over the past few months--working out the kink.
Hard work that--at least over the past three weeks--has shown marked improvement for Kearns. Yeah, he's still hitting just .267 for the month--but his 4 Home Runs and 17 RBI can't be overlooked. For some time--everyone in Section 320--has heard me yell out to "Bluegrass" to start taking a more level swing. His batting style one of my Pet Peeves. Never, have I watched a player with the UPPER CUT Drive that Kearns seems stuck on. A Swing that makes him prone to measly grounders and routine pops.
An odd stance that is slowly working out for the better--of late. No, I don't believe Austin Kearns will ever be a consistent 40 Homer, 120 RBI Guy. But, in the right lineup, sandwiched among other potent bats--Austin Kearns is a very valuable commodity. He could be a RUN PRODUCER. Hitters like Kearns can take advantage of any opposing pitchers' fears about others in the lineup of Our Washington Nationals. They may not throw a baseball over the plate to a Wily Mo Pena--but they will to Kearns--believing they can throw it right past him.
Assumption, that Austin Kearns is working to prove wrong.
Baseball History has consistently proven--Championship Winning Teams are composed of solid fielding, potent bats in their lineups. Players you can win with--whether or not they ever become an All Star. Baseball is a Team Game and Kearns has the tools to play an integral part to any winning team.
A fact, I was not so confident of--a few months ago. No doubt--Austin Kearns can play defense--well above average fielding with a quality arm. Not many right fielders play baseballs hit into the corners better--his angles to baseballs really nice. Now, if only, he can consistently perform at the plate, as he's shown in September--Our Number 25 WILL BECOME one of those Core Players Our General Manager Jim Bowden has spoken so highly of for Our Washington Nationals.
Kearns, Ryan Zimmerman, Brian Schneider, Jesus Flores, My Main Man!! Ryan Church, Cristian Guzman and maybe--Wily Mo Pena: My Core Everyday Players that Our Washington Nationals should definitely keep for the future. Ronnie Belliard has played better than anyone ever expected, both in the field and at the plate. "The Ballplayer" gives his all each and every game. No one can take away from his hustle. For that alone--I was pleased to see Our Number 10 re-signed for 2008. An everyday player that, off the bench--becomes EVER more valuable. Besides--who have you seen all year that turns the Double Play better than Ronnie Belliard?
The same with Dmitri Young. Although--I am still unsure why the rather large two year contract extension for Our 2007 All Star. Young has been a fabulous story this season. He worked hard, resurrected his career and was rewarded. I just don't know where he fits--in the near future for Our Washington Nationals.
An outlook which it appears Nook Logan, FLop, Robert Fick, D'angelo Jimenez and Tony Batista may be on the outside looking in. I would imagine that Jimbo gets creative again this off season--which I would not put past him--to somehow trade up for more quality everyday players. You just know--he wants to make a splash. Bench players are mostly a dime per dozen in the off season. Belliard, Young, Daryle Ward and Marlon Anderson prove that fact. They can be found anytime. If and when, Our General Manager makes a move--its going to be for a centerfielder, possibly a second baseman. The Rest of Our 2008 Washington Nationals Everday Lineup is basically set.
Building The Core--that's what 2007 was all about. A Goal which was accomplished to some extent.