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Matt Williams will be installing a merry-go-round in Nats Park once Bryce Harper returns

Jun 19, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

Matt Williams

Not a real one of course, though that would be awesome. Rather, a lineup merry-go-round in order to accommodate Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon once Harper returns from the DL. Here’s Adam Kilgore of the Post, relaying what Williams now says his plan is:

Zimmerman will move between left field, first base and third base; Harper could see starts at all three outfield positions; and Rendon will play both third base and second base. Williams would use the versatility to create advantageous match-ups and to give players rest. Under that scenario, center fielder Denard Span, right fielder Jayson Werth and first baseman Adam LaRoche would all receive occasional days off.

This is a change from his earlier plan, which was to have Harper play left, to move Anthony Rendon to second base and to move Danny Espinosa to the bench.

It’s Williams’ team, so he can obviously do whatever he wants. And his plan — the more elaborate one — may maximize his ability to rest guys and play the hot hand. One wonders, though, whether a first-year manager will have both the will and ability to carry through with a plan that moves a lot of veterans around and makes them frequently change positions and take days off. If the Nats keep winning, sure, easy. If not, that is often a recipe for grumbling players.

  1. bisonaudit - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    They play 6 1/2 days a week for 6 months and managers have been playing the B squad on Sunday afternoons for decades. Ryan Zimmerman has set the tone as a veteran being willing to move to both the outfield and first base without complaint. If there’s a problem because of this it’s not on Matt Williams. It’ll be on whichever jerk makes it about themselves instead of the team.

    • jaguar0413 - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:42 AM

      I agree 100%. After the professional way that Zimmerman handled the move to left/1B, what player could look at him, as the longest tenured member of the franchise and a cornerstone player, and then complain?

    • tmc602014 - Jun 19, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      Right on! It took Zimmerman to shine a light on how petty Kemp was here in LA

  2. greymares - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    Harper will be on the ” CLOWN ” bench.

    • marvinband9 - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      The Harper haters at it again. greymares you are a joke.

      • greymares - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:42 PM

        Not a hater the comment was on his “clown ” comment but he doesn’t deserve the Mickey Mantle status he’s receiving

      • karlkolchak - Jun 19, 2014 at 2:36 PM

        Who exactly is comparing him to Mickey Mantle? Name one name.

      • bisonaudit - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:02 AM

        Mickey Mantle status? That’s a laugh. The young Mickey Mantle’s only status was that he wasn’t Joe DiMaggio.

  3. stupidusername - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Whatever they’re going to do, keep Zimmerman out of LF. A base hit to left and a guy scores from 2nd without even a throw to home. It looked painful when he threw the ball (sidearm, nonetheless). Fast runners are going to start taking 2B on singles to left.

    • jaguar0413 - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      Zimmerman does not have a weak arm. His shoulder problems caused him to have accuracy issues throwing across the diamond. That won’t happen in Left Field on longer throws. I doubt anybody is going to run on him in the manner you describe.

      • danaking - Jun 19, 2014 at 12:02 PM

        Longer throws will be more accurate, even though a small discrepancy in the throw will be magnified over distance?

      • roundballsquarebox24 - Jun 19, 2014 at 12:25 PM

        This is wrong. His shoulder problems have caused him to have throwing problems, period. If you watch him play left field, it makes you cringe whenever he has to throw. Now, I think and hope that his injury is just healing and his arm will be serviceable in LF or 3B. But, at the moment? It’s hard to watch. I’ve seen several plays already where a 3rd base coach will wave a subpar baserunner on home from 2nd base like if he was Billy Hamilton on a one-hopper to Zimmerman in shallow left. People are definitely running on Zimmerman until he proves that his arm is back and he can throw people out from back there.

      • jaguar0413 - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:47 PM

        danaking The throw from left field is a totally different throw than the one across the diamond and you know it. For the most part, when you are throwing out of left field, you are not throwing on a line like you would be from third base. Also, if you’re going to the plate, you are taught to bounce the ball into the catcher. This reduces the issue that Zimmerman had of throwing wide and high when trying to go across his body to first base.

      • jaguar0413 - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:49 PM

        roundball, Do you really think Michael Morse had any better of an arm in 2012 with his lat problems? I don’t remember people running on him like crazy. Left field is the easiest position to play. Even Adam Dunn could kind of do it.

      • stupidusername - Jun 19, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        The play I describe with the guy scoring from 2B actually happened last night. That’s not something I made up. He threw the ball sidearm. I said it looked painful because I know he has shoulder issues and it looked like he didn’t want to throw the ball hard at all. Forget him playing 3B because the condition his shoulder is in right now doesn’t look like he could throw anyone out on a groundball… The play I mentioned, the runner had not even reached 2B by the time Zimmerman fielded the ball and there wasn’t even a play at home. I’m not sure he threw the ball more than 100 feet. Any smart player with any sort of speed can and should be trying to take 2B on a single over or to the left of the SS.

    • bisonaudit - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      Offense has to be the overriding priority. You hide the defensive liabilities as best you can and late and close you substitute to improve your fielding and protect the lead.

      • roundballsquarebox24 - Jun 19, 2014 at 12:32 PM

        That is one way to do it. Not saying that it is a wrong philosophy. But, this is not the only way to win a lot of games. Some teams do it backwards. Have a really, really tight defense and protect home plate with your lives. Try to allow little or no runs, while trying to notch in a few manufactured runs. Of course, it never hurts to have “hitters” who can use the entire field and drive the ball. But, a team can definitely focus on defense and having their pitchers keep the ball low and they will win a lot of games.

      • bisonaudit - Jun 19, 2014 at 12:56 PM

        Nationals have given up the 3rd fewest runs in baseball despite any defensive problems they may have.

        They’re 18th in runs scored. They need the bats.

      • kevinbnyc - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:09 PM

        That worked out pretty well for the Tigers last year.

      • bisonaudit - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:30 PM

        My stuff doesn’t work in the playoffs.

      • stupidusername - Jun 19, 2014 at 2:25 PM

        I would take the offense, also, but not if his defense in LF is costing the team more runs than he’s creating on offense. I don’t know how much pain he is in right now but that looked bad last night.

        I feel like people are responding without actually seeing the throw he made last night.

  4. jaguar0413 - Jun 19, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    I don’t think Nats players are going to complain about this idea because it means more playing time for everybody. Instead of benching Span or Espinosa, players will be able to rotate through the different positions so that each guy gets enough ABs to keep him happy.

    The real question is: With the constant rotation of positions, will the Nats be able to play adequate defense? They already struggled mightily earlier in the season.

  5. luz56 - Jun 19, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    What a buffoon… Taking a very good team and combining it with a crappy manager you get this years Washington Nats

    • bisonaudit - Jun 19, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      Rush to judgement.

      I’m certainly not a fan of all his decisions but it’s way to early to know if he’s making more bad choices than you’d otherwise expect and I think this particular decision is a good one.

  6. natstowngreg - Jun 19, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    All this assumes there won’t be more injuries. That, once Harper and Ramos return, the same 9 guys will be available to play 8 positions. For the rest of the season.

    That would be great. Experience says, it’s not very likely.

    • tmc602014 - Jun 19, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      You’re right, Nats. All offseason, preseason, early season, the question at Dodger Stadium was who are you gonna trade? How are you gonna keep four starting outfielders happy?

  7. zackd2 - Jun 19, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Michael Young would not approve

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