Monday, March 8, 2010

The Guzman Conundrum

Nationals Journal
- Cristian Guzman, the Nationals' No. 2 hitter

Why worry about the abysmal pitching so far this spring? Hopefully it's just the chaff getting separated early (although it doesn't explains Marquis' 2nd Inning)

What's more interesting at least right now is what to do about Guzman. His contract and his veteraness means he's probably destined to start but everyone with eyes and a calculator (not necessarily in that order) can see Ian Desmond is a much better choice.

Now that's not to say Desmond is destined to carry his Sept '09 and early ST '10 success forward for an entire season. But we do know this: it's an almost mortal lock that the best possible season from Guzman will be barely replacement level (taking sub mediocre hitting and defense into account.)

That would be fine for a team needing to not have a sucking chest wound in the middle of its infield. One that may contend for example. But that's not the Nats. The Nats need to use the precious PA's they have to gamble on a younger talent, to see if he's the answer or just a future Willie Harris.

We in the internet ether can only speculate on why such an obvious choice is ignored. After all, we don't sign Guzman's paycheck. It's not our $8m down the drain if he doesn't play, if his lack of playing time causes clubhouse dissent. It is worth wondering exactly why the organization would choose to make that decision.

Figuring out why they make the wrong choice would go a long way toward understanding if they will ever be able to make the smart choices (and hard choices by definition) necessary to build a consistent winner. If they are cheap ass bastards, we can expect a Oakland-like trajectory as the high point (might be contenders for year or two before starting over) or Pittsburgh/Kansas City on the down side.

Nothing I've seen from the Lerner's gives me any encouragement that we're looking at an Arte Moreno/John Henry/Stenibrenner big market dominant type franchise. Exhibit A: Henry was willing to eat Mike Lowell's crap sandwich of a contract to make his '10 team better. He is going to eat it in a slightly different way now but we know what Henry will do to win. Guzman's status will tell us one piece of what we need to know about the Lerner's and I'm afraid I won't like the answer.

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