Monday, July 18, 2005

Struggles at Shortstop

In light of his continued struggles, the Nationals may consider putting Cristian Guzman on the bench. He has been by far the worst everyday player in MLB this season (192/229/278 [BA/OBP/SLG]). The Nationals only option currently on the 25-man roster is Jamey Carroll who is best served in his role of utility IF given his numbers are only marginally better than Guzman's (247/310/279). Is there any help in the minors? The short answer is no. Nothing of note. As discussed when Junior Spivey went down with a broken wrist, the MI options are limited at best. Below are the shortstops available in the farm system (I have focused solely on players who have actually games @ SS) : New Orleans (AAA)
  • Jason Bowers (27 years old) is a light hitting option (224/321/270). He doesn't strike out much (46 times in 78 games) but he has only walked 33 times in the same timeframe. Bowers is the classic AAAA player. He isn't appreciably better than Jamey Carroll.
  • Speaking of Jamey Carroll, his brother Wesley (26) currently serves the same role with the Zephyrs that Jamey does with the Nats, utility IF. He has played 6 games at SS out of his 50 appearances putting up the numbers you would expect from an utility IF (255/287/363). His strikezone judgement is not very good 5BB/20K. A definite pass.
  • Henry Mateo (28) was placed on the 60-day DL and is not a realistic near-term option.
  • Juan Melo (28) had a cup of coffee with the Giants in 2000 played a couple of years in AAA Fresno before playing last year in the Independent Northeast League. He has been putting up serviceable numbers (338/377/550) for the Zephyrs in 36 games (17 @ SS). His strikezone judgement isn't developed 9BB/21K. Of the options available in New Orleans, he may be the best, however not necessarily a solution the Nats problem at SS.

Harrisburg (AA)

  • Melvin Dorta (23) is only hitting 254/325/380 for the Senators. He has shown some speed which the Nationals do not currently have though his SB pct is only 67% (14/21).
  • Shawn Norris (24) has been also seeing time at SS in Harrisburg and much like Dorta, the numbers are not that impressive (229/296/319). He doesn't even bring the speed to the lineup that Dorta does (0/4 in SB attempts)
  • Josh Labandeira (26) spent September in Montreal with the Expos but was recently demoted from New Orleans to Harrisburg. He is facing a 15-game suspension for violation of the drug policy (amphetamines) and more than likely is not considered an option by the Nationals.

Potomac (High A)

  • Ian Desmond (19) was recently promoted from Low A Savannah. His numbers in Savannah were mediocre (247/291/334) 20/26 in SB attempts in 73 games. Since his 7/6 callup, in 9 games he is hitting 282/300/462 2/4 in SB attempts. The issue with Desmond is his defense which is still a work in progress. In the combined 82 games, he has made 23 errors. Not necessarily the type of numbers you look for in a middle infielder. Many in the organization consider him the SS of the future after his eye-opening performance in Spring Training. Let's not put the cart before the horse, Desmond has potential for the future, but he is nowhere near ready for the majors no matter what some may think.
  • Marcos Yepez (23) and Javier Rodriguez (26) are too old for the level at which they are playing and are not realistic options.

The truth is, the Nationals do not have a realistic option waiting in the wings to fill in for the struggling Guzman. The only course of action the Nationals have is to ride out the struggles of Guzman perhaps platooning him with Jamey Carroll. It's not what most want to hear but with an additional 3 years and $12M left on Guzman's contract, odds are, he isn't going away anytime soon.


John IV said...

Great Article.

looks like we may be stuck with Guzman, unless Juan Melo surprises everyone, or Trader Jim finds a deal for Julio Lugo(as he is rumored to be looking into).

Brian said...

Lugo would be the perfect fit with Wil Cordero and Marlon Byrd. They can discuss domestic battery