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The Nats get smart: they move Guzman to second and seek a glove for short

Nov 13, 2009, 9:55 AM EDT

The Nationals have made a lot of smart moves since tossing Jim Bowden over the side last year. Giving the reins to Mike Rizzo is one. Setting aside their Boras-phobia and paying for Strasburg was another.  Sticking with Jim Riggleman was the right move in my mind as well. 

The latest?  Making it clear that Cristian Guzman is not their shortstop anymore.  They’re going to stick him at second, Riggleman said yesterday, and it’s the smart way to go.  Any young, building team (there is no “re” about it in their case) needs solid defense in order to get the young pitching staff through their inevitable early struggles.  The classic example of this is the Braves chucking any hope at offense and putting Rafael Belliard at short back in 1991. The Nats aren’t there yet — this is still very much like the 1988-89 Braves we’re dealing with here — but if the Nats put a solid glove at short next to the Gold Glove-winning Ryan Zimmerman, they’ll really be doing themselves — and their pitchers — a favor.

So who goes to short?  Rosenthal reports that Rizzo is looking at Adam Everett and Alex Gonzalez. Riggleman mentions prospect Ian Desmond. Desmond has been described as having excellent range and a great arm, though he has been erratic at times.  He showed some nice hitting skills in his brief callup last year, but if I’m the Nats, any offense I get from short is gravy.

If Everett or Gonzalez can be had on the cheap, sure, plug ’em in on a one-year deal and give Desmond a little more time to ease into things.  If not, just take the plunge with Desmond.

What’s the worst that’ll happen?  The Nats will lose some games?

  1. Old Gator - Nov 13, 2009 at 11:07 AM

    Alex Gonzalez would be a great choice with a team like the Gnats. His defense is a given. But perhaps more importantly, his offense is appropriately sporadic to play in Washington during the Obama decision-making period for Afghanistan. If Riggleman has a few offseason chats with Davey Johnson – the man who made “laptop” mean something more in baseball than it used to during the guys’ nights out on the road – about how to use statistical probabilities to calculate in which years Alex is going to have one of his decent offensive seasons, he can really structure the lineup to get some mileage out of him.

  2. lar @ wezen-ball - Nov 13, 2009 at 11:27 AM

    Craig Counsell might be a good move for them as well. The only problem with him is that he can’t give you 150 games at short anymore. His defense is still great, his “veteran leadership” would fit well for the Nats, and he had a great year offensively last year (relatively speaking). Even if his bat goes back to what it’s always been, that’s the kind of guy a team like the Nats should want – unless they’re hoping to be young at all positions. I don’t know what kind of contract Counsell is looking for, but I bet it’s around 2 yrs/$6 mil (maybe $10 mil on an optimistic day) or something…

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