Sunday, July 10, 2005

A Call to New Orleans?

Nationals backup secondbaseman, Junior Spivey, broke his right arm in a freak batting tee accident and is out for 8-12 weeks (essentially the season). With Spivey's broken arm, Tony Blanco's vertigo, and Cristian Guzman's lingering hamstring problem, the Nationals have a practically non-existent bench (Gary Bennett, Wil Codero, and Marlon Byrd). If the Nationals are looking for middle infield help from their farm system, here is what they have to choose from:
  • Brendan Harris (24 years old) 2B/3B in AAA New Orleans: In his favor, he is already on the 40 man roster and doesn't require any moves other than putting Spivey on the DL. Harris was acquired from the Chicago Cubs in the Garciaparra/Cabrera/Mientkiewicz 4-team deal last July. He was seen as the 3B of the future, but that all changed with the signing of Vinny Castilla and more recently the drafting of Dutch Zimmerman in the first round of the 2005 draft. He has been playing 2B in New Orleans so he has the MI experience necessary to backup Jose Vidro. He is a line drive hitter with gap power. The problem with Harris is that it appears the Nationals don't see him as a contributor at the major league level as he was only given a cup of coffee when Vidro was initially injured. The Nationals subsequently acquired Spivey from the Brewers keeping Harris with the Zephyrs. He is probably the best option, but I am not holding my breath.
  • Henry Mateo (28) 2B/SS rehabbing in AAA New Orleans: Mateo is also on the 40-man roster. Additionally, Mateo was envisioned in the exact role that is vacant in Washington right now, back up middle infielder. Unfortunately, Mateo has been slow to recover from shoulder tendinitis. He is nothing more than the typical utility middle infielder, adequate glove and limited bat. Given Frank Robinson's preference for veteran players, Mateo may make an appearance (assuming his shoulder is healthy).
  • Jason Bowers (27), Wesley Carroll (26), and Juan Melo (28) in New Orleans: None of the three are on the Nationals 40-man roster. They really offer nothing of value to the Nationals and are merely roster filler at the AAA level.
  • Josh Labandeira SS at New Orleans: He's an option but given the fact he is facing a 15 game suspension for violating MLB's drug policy (amphetamines), I doubt he'll be the choice.
  • Edgar Gonzalez (27) has been playing 2B in AA Harrisburg. He's too old to playing in AA (as a prospect), so his numbers (287/377/457) need to be taken with a grain of salt.
  • Melvin Dorta (23) has been playing SS in Harrisburg. His numbers are no better than average (265/324/385) but he has shown some power (9 HR) and speed (14/21 in SB). He has shown some plate discipline 29BB/32K. He is not a long term solution.
  • Shawn Norris (24 yr old 2B) and Ramon Castro (25 yr old SS) in Harrisburg are not realistic options.

Given the limited selection, the best choice is to bring up Brendan Harris and allow him to back up both Jose Vidro and Vinny Castilla. Knowing the way the Nationals have maintained their roster this season, I think the more likely course of action is either Henry Mateo (if healthy) or Jim Bowden will do what he loves to do ... trade.


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Brian said...

Thanks for stopping by and thank you for the compliment. Let me know if there is anything you'd like to see.

Matt W said...

Nice blog. I like Brendan Harris and agree that he's a good candidate for a callup, but I'm a little puzzled that you didn't mention Rick Short. He's already been up twice in that sort of role, albeit for very short stints. Hey, look at his numbers. .500 average! 1.167 OPS! No errors!

Brian said...

Matt - Thanks for stopping by. Rick Short is a sentimental favorite of mine. But I really don't see him as a utility MI. He is more of a utility CI. Short has more value than Wil Cordero and other than {blech} veteran leadership, Cordero could much more effectively be replaced with Rick Short.