Thursday, September 3, 2009

2010 Roster Building-Second Basemen

Next in line for my new plan for the Nats is Second Base. Follow along with the series here.

Best combination of idealistic and realistic candidates: Akinori Iwamura and Alberto Gonzalez
Other possibilities in the organization: Leonard Davis and Seth Bynum
I'm not as much of a fan of Akinori Iwamura as some people are, but do think he would be a huge upgrade over what the Nats have now. He's an above average fielder with good on base and bunting skills who packs a little burst of speed, too. His one knock: he strikes out about 20% of his plate appearances. But considering we deal with Adam Dunn's 30%, I guess we can let it slide. Gonzalez is best off spending some time in AAA to try to learn how to take a walk, but with no other real options in the organization, the Nats will probably keep him up (for the record, I don't see them making Harris the backup 2B...I just feel like they see him as a full-time 3B/OF). Davis and Bynum both can't hack it at AAA, so it will likely be up to an outsider, Gonzalez and Harris.
Sleeper Pick (from the organization): Cristian Guzman
Preferably the Nats will trade Guzman in the offseason, but if they don't, it's best for them to shift him to 2B. He simply doesn't have the range to cut it at SS anymore and doesn't hit well enough to make up for his defensive shortcomings. While I doubt they would move him, it could be a nice idea.
Sleeper Pick (from outside the organization): Chone Figgins, Orlando Hudson, Placido Polanco and Jamey Carroll.
I originally picked Figgins over Iwamura, but Figgins hasn't played much 2B since 2005 and wasn't a good defender there in the first place. Having Morgan and Figgins at the top of the lineup would be pretty freakin' cool, though...would it even be fair to horde two of the league's best speed/OBP combinations? Hudson will likely price himself out of the Nats range, and I'm not sure I'd want him anyways, as he would probably command a multi-year deal. Since both Figgins and Hudson are on the wrong side of 30, I wouldn't suggest signing them to anything more than a 2-year deal. Polanco is a good fielder but is fading with the bat...he wouldn't be a bad signing, but I'd prefer having my defensive stud at SS rather than 2B. Jamey Carroll is my favorite, and I would love to bring him back. If he'll accept a backup/utility role, he'd be a perfect candidate.
2009 production by Nats second basemen to date: .247/.306/.331, 5 HR, 52 R, 50 RBI
2010 projection: Considering they can't get any worse offensively and have a lot of room for improvement defensively, I'd say the only way they don't improve in 2010 is for them to stand pat with Gonzalez at 2B.

A list of the Nats currently under contract can also be found at Cot's.
The latest projected Elias Rankings (for Type A/B Free Agent purposes) can be found at MLB Trade Rumors.
Splits for the Nats' 2009 season by position can be found at Baseball-Reference.


  1. How about Ofilio Castro, once he gets back from his PED suspension (probably in May)? Dude doesn't hit the ball hard, but he can take a walk and is a sharp fielder.

  2. Castro is a decent candidate but I think missing the start of the year will hurt his chances. I'm not sure I'm a believer anyways-he's done well when he's been much older than competition. If he can hack it at AAA, I'll give him a shot this time next year.

  3. Excellent point about age, and one I shouldn't have overlooked. This organization has had seen too many struggling minor-leaguers repeat their levels and then exhibit a burst of seeming excellence that is too apt to vanish at the next level.

    Castro, a 25-year-old -- 26 in people years -- who is in his ninth(!) year in the organization, is a poster boy for this approach. Which I think will slowly diminish under Rizzo, but it will take a while to move all the organizational guys up or out.

    The minors will be getting younger, as they should. Whether younger will equal better will be another matter, but it's the way to go.

    In the meantime, move Castro along as soon as he becomes re-eligible in 2010 and be ready to test him under the MLB spotlight as soon as a need presents itself. It's not like they have to be afraid of him costing them the 2010 playoffs, or need to worry about blowing an option -- either he pans out or he doesn't.


Please leave your questions and/or comments here and I'll get back to you ASAP!