Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Projected Everyday Lineup

Bill Ladson over at Nationals.com posted up Our Washington Nationals projected lineup and batting order for 2007, injuries permitting. Some of which, I can agree with. A few, I prefer other choices. Now, I am not sure whether this lineup comes exactly from Manager Manny Acta, himself. But, there's room for improvement.

No doubt, Felipe Lopez will be given every chance to be in the leadoff spot. Over 40 steals last season, offensively, FLop is a decent talent (fielding is a whole other area). Although I don't see Nook Logan lasting, long term, as an everyday player--he's got the speed for a leadoff hitter. No one knows if he can hit, or not--consistently.

Cristian Guzman, at the two spot? No--don't see it. For speed, and all around ability--I am pulling for Alex Escobar, and in Centerfield, not Leftfield. Alex may well sprain his ankle getting out of bed tomorrow, but I am all for Escobar receiving every single opportunity to succeed. Number 44's got talent, undeniably.
Maybe, Nick Johnson here, if he's healthy.

Ryan Zimmerman at the 3rd spot. Perfect. He was great there last season, why change it.

Nick Johnson as the clean up hitter. We don't know whether he will be ready to play come April 2nd, most unlikely right now. Nick struggled in that spot most of the past two seasons. Had quite a few, notable, failures in the clutch. He is a favorite Nats player of mine, though. But maybe better suited for the 5 spot, or 2nd spot due to his High On Base Percentage (He is a terrible runner, which doesn't help). Whether Johnson starts the season on time, or not--Austin Kearns is the High Strike Out Potential, Big Results performer, this team needs batting 4th. If Austin comes around and improves on his 2006 season--he's perfect for this spot.

In the 5th spot--either Johnson or Escobar--all for the reasons stated above. Either can do the job there.

I'm not all for the right/left/right/left batting order, that many managers use against a starting pitcher--especially since Ryan Church continues to show he hits lefthanded pitchers better than righties. Everyone knows, I am all for Church starting in left--Batting 6th. I am not expecting anything less. Break Out Season!!!
Then, traded at the July 31st, trading deadline. I can just see it.

Brian Schneider, catching, and batting 7th--decent stick, with some pop. Which leaves Guzman for 8th. Unless he turns it around in 2007--(Please Baseball Gods--Help US!!), The Guz is an automatic out, followed by the pitcher at Number 9 position. Guz just can't be that bad, again. I just can't imagine that scenario. If so, he's benched-- and Bernie Castro moves to second base, Lopez to short. Castro would be a nice speed addition at the bottom of the order, setting up the pitcher to advance him, Lopez to bring him around.

Our everyday lineup is actually average or better. Its not terrible. Church/Escobar/Kearns across the outfield. Zimmerman, Guzman, Lopez & Johnson (hopefully) around the infield. Schneider, behind the plate. You have some speed, pop in the bats, and some decent on base percentages in that lineup. Defensively, that's a pretty good lineup--not stellar, but very decent.

Off The Bench:

Larry Broadway will get his chance, probably, his last one, to make the Big League Roster, if Johnson can't go early in the season. Travis Lee gets the nod, if Broadway fails.

Kory Casto will get a serious look, although, I am not expecting him to start the season at RFK Stadium. The Nationals need Church to get hot, so Ryan can become a trading target, once again--for something good, in return.

I am very curious about Chris Snelling, the often injured outfielder, that arrived in the Jose Vidro Trade with Seattle. And, utilityman Josh Wilson. But, I honestly don't know a whole lot about their talents. Can't wait to see though.

Logan should make the team, as a backup outfielder, defensive specialist. Catcher Jesus Flores stays on the Major League Roster, all season long--no matter what. No way, Jimbo's giving him back to The Mets. Robert Fick makes the team also, due to his versatility. Not so sure about Brandon Harper, last season's back up catcher.

With Manny Acta announcing Our Washington Nationals will carry 12 pitchers to start the season--all the everyday players listed above have the best chance for filling out the remaining 13 spots. Of course, there is not much left, on the non-invitee roster, to choose from anyway.

One week away from the start of Spring Training. The African Queen and I can't wait!!


Bang the Drum Natly said...

With Johnson and Da Guz being questionable for opening day, according to MLB.com's outlook for the NL East (http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article_perspectives.jsp?ymd=20070204&content_id=1794149&vkey=perspectives&fext=.jsp), it's kind of up in the air of course,
but I'd like to give the latter a chance.

I know I am in the deep minority in rooting for Da Guz (in '05, I think it was only myself and SBF's African Queen who were the ones to be yelling out "GUZ" with a G, as opposed to the unfortunately popular alternative with a B), I'd like to see him rebound into the situational hitter I'd like to think he could be, in getting on base, and running like hell when the 3rd and or 4th batters produce behind him. We shall see.

That's not to say that I don't also like Escobar, provided he doesn't sprain an ankle walking over an errant peanut shell on his way to the batting circle. He is, as you say, a great talent, with the asteriskical (if that's not a word, it should be) "when healthy."

As for the rest of the order, I agree in full, with the caveat that I'd have to say that this '07 season can be pretty much summed up with the phrase "toss up," and we simply see what happens. Kind of exciting in that way, dontchya think?

I just hope at this season's end we won't be hearing the phrase "There are winners, and then there are Guzers."

Sorry for that, couldn't help it.


Anonymous said...

FLop has struck out nearly 240 times over the past two seasons while drawing 138 walks. I see absolutely nothing in his statistics that would suggest he will be an effective lead off hitter.

Chris Needham said...

I guess you didn't notice that .360 on-base percentage last year, Phil? Or the 44 steals?

Who exactly IS a good leadoff hitter in the league? You seem to have some pretty high standards.

Anonymous said...

Bernie Castro is doing a fantastic job at Left Field for the Dominican Republic team in the Caribbean Series. He's looking like a natural outfielder! He could be an option in case one of the other guys can't do the job. He's got great speed too.

Anonymous said...

Chris, You make a good point about Lopez's OBP. Maybe my standards are too high but I prefer a lead off hitter who doesn't strike out much. I like David Eckstein of the Cards. By the way, he was available when the Nats signed Guzman. He signed with the Cards as a free agent after Guzman signed with the Nats. Which SS would you rather have?

Chris Needham said...

That was an interesting year for SS. A bunch floated around and Eckstein was the only one who didn't get a big contract.

Eckstein's OBP is roughly the same as Lopez, but Lopez also played half the season in a tougher pitcher's park. (though his time in Cinci evens that out)

Eckstein stole just 7 bases, too.

He might be a better shortstop, all-around, but Lopez appears to be a better leadoff hitter.

Screech's Best Friend said...

To chime in on The Eckstein chat: I recall that Bowden was not too interested in him-although he was definitely available, at the time. I actually love Eckstein. He strides to be far better than anyone ever expects. You have to appreciate his efforts.

Screech's Best Friend said...

SenatorNat: Escobar is an interesting choice, if healthy--another Soriano at the top of the order. But, I would be more comfortable with him second, just because of his power. Lopez's speed in front can only help him. Zimmerman says he's very comfortable batting 3rd. He may well develop into a slugger, but, for now--I really like him at 3--Kearns at 4.

Its very interesting though. Thanks, as always