Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Kids Are Alright

First Boswell questions Jim Bowden's roster call-ups, now he's advocating playing rookies. Welcome to the Dark Side, Boz, we've been waiting for you. And better yet, he realizes one simple fact that "...the players about whom the Nats most desperately want answers -- Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Church, Marlon Byrd and ... Rick Short -- are also the players who give them the best chance to score runs for a change and maybe make some noise down the stretch." It only took him until the middle of September with less than 20 games remaining to realize that the typical everyday lineup for the Nationals cannot get it done. Be it injuries (Wilkerson, Vidro, etc), age (Castilla), or overall suckitude (we all know who that is), the lineup that Eddy Rodriguez gives Frank is barely adequate. While Castilla may still be solid defensively, his knee injury has turned him into a liability at the plate. He can still drive the ball but he cannot run the bases. In last Thursday's game against the Marlins, I watched Castilla drive a ball to the gap in left center, an easy standup double. But Vinny's gimpy gait made the play a whole lot closer than it should have been. I still believe Vinny can help the team, but it's best handled as part of a platoon with Zimmerman. Let Dutch get out there ... at third base ... at least 3 games/week. He already looks smooth with the glove. Marlins' manager Jack McKeon confirms it, "I've been watching this game a long time. Sometimes, you can tell just by the way they move, the way they react to situations. Zimmerman is going to be good." And he has held his own with the bat against Dontrelle Willis and John Smoltz. More playing time is only going to help. Many of us have been advocating regular playing time for Ryan Church and Marlon Byrd all year. Byrd cannot hit RHP (209/258/282 in 110AB) but can hit LHP (338/393/473 in 74AB). Meanwhile Church can hit RHP (291/342/451 in 213AB) and ... well, actually he can hit LHP too, when he gets the chance (345/406/621 in 29AB). Playing Church regularly against LHP might allow the Nats to see what they have. But if that's not the case, we know what Preston Wilson, a RH hitter, brings to the table and Brad Wilkerson, a LH hitter, is struggling with an arm injury. Perhaps allowing Byrd and Church to start a few games not only woldn't hurt but also might provide the offensive spark the Nationals need. First, Boz criticizes Bowden and Tavares. Now he's in support of playing rookies. Whatever will he do next? Frank Robinson better be looking over his shoulder, there's an angry old sportswriter waving his big foam finger closing in. -------- UPDATE: Basil over at Nationals Inquirer points out a great slam of Bowden. Give in to the Dark Side, Boz.

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