Washington Nationals Offeason Checklist (Bench Edition)

20131109-231730.jpgBefore last season even started, everybody had high hopes on the 2013 Washington Nationals. Many people had them winning the NL East, and some people even had them winning the World Series. Davey Johnson had very high hopes for this team, saying the the now infamous phrase, “World Series or Bust” during spring training. However, a lackluster offense and key injuries to Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, and Stephen Strasburg had the Nationals far from the numerous “World Series” predictions, finishing at 86-76. This offseason, the Nationals will try to become favorites once again by doing several key things. We will look at these thing as part of a three day breakdown of the Nationals offseason. :

1. REVAMP THE BENCH

One of the biggest weaknesses of the Nationals last year was their bench. A combination of Roger Bernidina, Steve Lombardozzi, Tyler Moore, Scott Hariston, and my favorite, Chad Tracy had a combined WAR of about -3. Thats not good to say the least. In 2012, those same players (minus Scott Hariston) had a combined WAR of 3.4. That is about a 6 game WAR swing from our bench alone. In order for us to get back to where we were in 2012, the Nationals must change the bench. They have already improved substantially by losing dead weight Chad Tracy. So, what else should the Nationals do? Let’s look at each of the bench players from 2013 (not including Roger Bernidina and Chad Tracy)

Tyler Moore (2013 stats): .222 BA, 4 HRs, 21 RBIs, -1.2 WAR

According to WAR, Tyler Moore was the worst Washington National in 2013. Yes, even worse than Yunesky Maya. However, Moore’s struggles were mostly early season ones. From April until July 7th, Moore was batting .151. After a month long trip to the minors, Moore’s offense improved drastically, so much so that by seasons end, he was starting some games at first over Adam Laroche.

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO: STAY

Steve Lombardozzi (2013 stats): .259 BA, 2 HRs, 22 RBIs, -.7 WAR

I think the stat that describes Steve Lombardozzi is his OPS, which was .616. Lombardozzi couldn’t hit for extra bases, only having 18 XBHs all of last year in 307 PA’s. He also didn’t draw many walks. He only had 8 all of last year. While Lombardozzi is very versatile defensively, his defense at those positions isn’t especially good; he was a negative with the glove according to DRS. Steve Lombardozzi is basically useless with Zach Walters and Jeff Kobernus waiting in the wings. However, neither of them are fully polished yet.

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO: STAY (FOR NOW)

 Jhonatan Solano (2013 stats): .146 BA, 0 HRs, 2 RBIs, -.2 WAR

All that we can hope for is that Wilson Ramos never gets injured (which will likely not happen). Solano didn’t get much playing time in 2013, with Kurt Suzuki and Wilson Ramos playing like workhorses. Although, what we did see from Solano was underwhelming. Solano’s offense was nonexistent and his defense was just meh. However, the Nats don’t really have anything else better in their farm system, and unless they sign another catcher, look for Solano back as the backup in 2014.

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO: STAY 

Scott Hariston (2013 stats with Nationals) .224 BA, 2 HRs, 7 RBIs, -.2 WAR
Acquired at the trade deadline for bits and pieces, Hariston came to the Nationals for one reason and one reason only, he mashes lefties. In 2013, Hariston hit all 10 of his homers against lefties. His splits against righties in 2013? .097/.147/.129. Against lefties? Not great, but much better. .214/.259/.484. But look at that slugging percentage. 10 of Hariston’s 27 hits against lefties in 2013 were homer runs. Hariston will return for a full year in 2014 because he is still under contract in ’14.

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO; STAY

Jeff Kobernus (2013 stats) .167 BA, 1 HR, 1 RBI, -.4 WAR
As the old adage goes: speed kills. And that is basically all Kobernus was good for in 2013. Especially in September, Kobernus was exclusively used as a pinch runner. Kobernus is versatile in the field, being able to play all three outfield positions, 2B, SS, and 3B. Kobernus’s status for 2014 is up in the air, but he will most likely start the season in AAA.

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO: GO

Zach Walters (2013 stats) .375 BA, 0 HRs, 1 RBI, .1 WAR
Out of all of the players listed, Walters had the shortest tenure in 2013. Coming up for a cup of coffee in September, Walters look impressive. His minor league numbers were very solid. Walters hit 29 HRs while hitting .255. Walters is basically Steve Lombardozzi with power. However, his skills are not yet fully polished. While he might start the season in the minors, look for him to come up sometime in late May, early June.

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO: GO

Another candidate for our bench is Danny Espinosa. Espinosa struggled greatly when he was in the majors, hitting a cool .158 with 47 strikeouts in 44 games. On June 4th, Espinosa was sent down to AAA, where he still struggled hitting .216 with 2 HRs in 75 games. He also struck out 101 times. If Davey Johnson was still our manager, I would say Danny could be a bench spot, or even a starter. However, with new manager Matt Williams, it is unclear how Danny will be used. Let’s just put it as status unclear for now.

That leaves us looking at the free agent options. Some players that intrigue me include former National Jerry Hariston Jr, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Roberts, and Skip Schumaker. All of those players play multiple positions, and would be solid off the bench. Of all of those players, Kelly Johnson would be the one that l would
want the most. Johnson, 32, hits for decent power and plays the corner outfield positions, 1B, 3B, and 2B. While he would be a good signing, he will probably want a lot of money and a good amount of playing time.

The bench was a mess in 2013. If the Nats want to be contenders again in 2014, the bench is one place that is going to need to be fixed.

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3 thoughts on “Washington Nationals Offeason Checklist (Bench Edition)

  1. Lombo’s got those intangibles, man. Just a real gritty scrapper out there, ya know? He runs out every softly hit ground ball to the right side, he makes those routine plays as routinely as possible. He might not have the best ability to get on base or hit for any kind of power but damn it can he lay down a bunt for you when you need it the most, or pinch run even though he isn’t incredibly fast, or play a position he has no business playing like left field, because he might not be the biggest guy out there, but he’s got the most heart. He’s just a little guy who’s out there doing the little things not for himself, not for his paycheck, not even for his own fucking family; he’s doing it for the team. Because that man right there is Stephen Paul Lombardozzi, Jr., and he is a god damn baseball player. PERIOD.

  2. Pingback: Washington Nationals Offseason Checklist (Rotation Edition) | Serious Jammage

  3. Pingback: Your 2014 Washington Nationals Preview | Tao of the Original Tracy Tran

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