Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ryan Langerhans

I have never made any qualms about this. Ryan Langerhans is pretty good Major League Player. A defensive wizard and excellent complimentary player. One of those 4th outfielder type of guys that many organizations tend to over look. A good on-base percentage hitter--that as the 2008 season played out--found Our Number 29 becoming more and more comfortable with his utility and backup role with Our Washington Nationals.

As a free agent over the winter--Ryan Langerhans could have chosen to play for whatever Major League Team that was willing to sign him. He decided to stay in The Nation's Capital. A decision that know finds him battling for a roster spot thanks to a very deep group of outfielders also looking to impress Baseball Operations.

Always friendly and willing to chat--Sohna and I caught up with him in Viera to discuss Ryan's chances of making the final cut.

Here is that chat with Ryan Langerhans:

This is a far different team than last year? (SBF)

“It is. It really is. A lot more excitement. Everybody is always excited to get down here and get ready to go and prove themselves again. And I believe the addition of Adam (Dunn) is going to be huge—not only from what he brings in the power department—but he keeps everybody loose. I wouldn’t say he is really a joker. He just has this way of getting everyone to feel relaxed out there.”

So he has changed the atmosphere? (SBF)

“Exactly. He is going to talk to everybody and keep everybody loose. Having a guy with a presence like that will be really beneficial.”

So where does that leave you in this congested outfield? (SBF)

“It is a congested outfield. There are a ton of guys out there and hopefully that stuff will kind of work it’s way out. My viewpoint on it is that I feel good about it. I have kept working hard on my swing—working with (Rick) Eckstein. And I just need to go do what I CAN DO—and let the people that makes the decision make them known.”

How good is Rick Eckstein?

“He is excellent. He is as good as any hitting instructor as I have ever worked with. He is a tireless worker. I think that might be the biggest compliment that I can give him. He is going to put in his time. I was talking to Josh Willingham after he got traded here—Eck called him and was talking to him about how he had already watched a bunch of video on him to try to find out what was going to work for him. I think that’s something special he is going to bring to the table that can help everybody. I really believe everyone has the chance to have big years this season—because of him (Eckstein).”

From what I have gathered so far—the personal trainers, the coaching staff, everything that needed to be enhanced to improve the product on the field—has been improved? (SBF)

“It has. They (Our Washington Nationals) have done a great job in bringing in some top-notch people. I have enjoyed working with all of the new coaches on the field. As well as, some of the training, strength and condition staff. Everybody seems to be hard workers—some really good people.”

How about the players? Everybody seems to be bigger? (The African Queen)

“Yeah. Pete Orr and I were joking around. He said (to Ryan): ‘You are a big guy. But on this team you are just an average size guy out here on this team—this year.' (laughter all around). So, I don’t know what it is—but we seem to have a lot of big, athletic type guys out here.”

Adam Dunn towers over Wily Mo and Pena is a pretty big guy? (SBF)

“Exactly.” (Chuckling) “There are not too many guys that are going to dwarf Dunn (good round of laughter)”.

As honest as that statement is—do you get nervous knowing the competition for you is difficult? (SBF)

“I don’t look at it as nervousness. I enjoy the competition. I want to enjoy coming out here and playing. I definitely think I can help the team win. Whether that is defense or coming off the bench—or whatever role I can play—I just want to show them (management) I am a piece for them.”

In your opinion—have teams forgotten the importance of defense—something you excel at—especially late in the game? It seems to me that your skills are less valued in the game today? (SBF)

“Well, this is a little different era of baseball. But I think that Manny (Acta) wants to see us playing better defense this year. He stressed that early on. So hopefully I can contribute to that, as well as, continuing to improve with the bat. I started to get a little more comfortable in the pinch-hitting role last year. And I have started to figure out how to get better prepared for that opportunity a little better.”

What do you think of the new coaches? (The African Queen)

“I like all of them. They all are bringing some really different knowledge to the table. Marquis Grissom—I really like. He seems like he is going to help us in the outfield quite a bit—especially with some of the young guys. And I think he is going to help us from the base-stealing standpoint too. He was a very good base stealer in his days. Having guys like him and Devon White around are really going to help the guys that can really run quite a bit (Langerhans can run well). And as I have already said—I have nothing but praise for Eckstein. Pat Listach seems good. I haven’t had the chance to work with Jim Riggleman yet, but he seems like a good guy.”

All of whom you feel can make you a better player? (SBF)

“Of course. I want to make the team in whatever way they see I fit.”

A lot of roster movement may happen between now and Opening Day--2009. Sometimes the good guys should come out on top. Here's hoping that Ryan Langerhans somehow makes the 25 Man Roster of Our Washington Nationals. He really could be a very valuable addition to our lineup. Unsurprisingly--Our New Batting Coach--Rick Eckstein--feels the same way. Eck telling Sohna and I that Ryan Langerhans has all the tools to be a complete Major League Player.


James Bjork said...

Thank you for taking the time to provide what is really exceptional coverage of Spring Training.

I know that in your interviews, no player is every going to say anything bad about a team-mate or coach or manager, but it is still nice to hear individual twists on the platitudes.

Anonymous said...

I gotta believe the only reason you hoped Langerhans would "make the team" is because he stood for a photo with you. I have seen this guy swish so much he should be in the air conditioning business. As spring training proved -- what did he get? maybe 3 hits -- he just had to be farmed and await the possibility that late in the season when all is lost and another outfielder goes hamstring, they might call him up. Nice guy, maybe. But what was it Leo Durocher said about nice guys?

Screech's Best Friend said...

Don: Then you have no understanding of what a stellar defensive player Ryan Langerhans is. Arguably the best outfielder on the team. He is that good. And new hitting coach Rick Eckstein also believes that he can change Ryan's approach at the plate to help make him better contact. As it is, he takes plenty of pitches, I believe only Nick Johnson sees more at the plate. He walks alot. He gets on base. When you have a power hitting outfield, you need a complimentary 4th guy to fill the void. Sometimes you have to look at the entire package, not just one dimension. Ryan Langerhans is a useful Major League Player and it has nothing to do with him taking a picture with me. It just shows you don't see his skills in same way as me. That's OK.

Anonymous said...

Granted, Langerhans has defensive skills, albeit only demonstrated in 2008 over the course of 49 chances, with 2 assists. Doesn't measure diving leaps, so "best defensive" is usually quite subjective. His fielding stats not that much different than now-gone Nook Logan, certainly a different style of hitter. Logan, however, struck out at a lower rate than Langerhans. And that's my beef. As for "making better contact" with new hitting coach, again, that didn't seem to prove itself this spring. The Nats seem flush with outfield talent; as you point out, how many can they carry without dealing away someone? Someone with trade value, unlike Langerhans who has been essentially given up on by his last three teams. Good to read your thoughts/feedback. Nice work.