December 18, 2006

The Vidro Vacuum: Winners & Losers

Now that the trade is official, it's time to hastily and arbitrarily declare winners and losers. Aside from the obvious, Natspos win/Gran Marniers lose, the sudden (and sizeable) absence of Vidro from the infield creates more opportunity for some remaining Nationals and less for others.

Big Winners:

Cristian Guzman - GUZMANIA '07: The Comeback Tour, is off to an auspicious start. Vidro's departure means FLopez moves to 2B, clearing a spot at SS for you-know-who. Some people might not consider this a good thing, but all true adherents to the cult of 15 know that a rested, surgically-enhanced Guzman is a GOOOOZ primed for a mid-career breakout.

Bernie Castro - With a wave of Trader Jim's magical vodka bottle, "Lil' Fidel" just became the most experienced 2B on the Nats roster; which is somewhat akin to noting that Kory Casto is our sturdiest potential LFer. Still, in the race for that one utility infielder slot, a weekend with Bernie is infinitely preferable to the Jose Macias doing his best impression of Henry Mateo starring in the Damian Jackson story.

Larry Broadway - In addition to being a loveable immobile lump at second, Vidro was our nominal backup 1B too. Throw in the inevitable recovery period for Nick "The Limping Stick" Johnson, and Larry's chances of seeing big league at-bats are significantly improved. Of course, it would be just like the Nats to re-sign Robert Fick to vulture Broadway's "reserve 1B/LF" slot. Youth movement my eye.

Big Losers:

Ryan Church - Poor Ryan. Since mid-2005 he's been labelled too callow and gimpy to be an everyday player. Now the Nats have gone and added a younger, gimpier, corner OF. What's a guy to do? If only he could play 1B, maybe he could vulture Larry Broadway's roster spot. Best case scenario: Church forms an offense/defense and lefty/righty platoon with Nook Logan in CF. Most likely scenario: Adios, Ryan; Hola, fungible 4th SP.

Kory Casto - The Nats outfield just got a little more crowded, and Kory just got a little more likely to be left standing when the music stops. Unlike Church, Snelling and (I'm pretty sure) Escobar, Casto's got minor league options left. Which means he could start the year in AAA and shuttle back and forth replacing the injured Escobar/Snelling/Church. On the plus side, he's the only legitimate backup 3B on the roster. But hey, Zimm can play 320 games in his first two full seasons, right?

Jason "Harvey" Bergmann - Or any of the other replaceable, back of the bullpen righty relievers. The addition of Fruto, and the inexplicable selection of LeVale Speigner in the Rule 5 draft, means there's two more right-handers competing for a spot in what's fast becoming a crowded bullpen. Add Ray King to the mix, and slots for the Bookers, Schroeders, Riveras and Bergmanns of the world will be hard to come by.

The Big Question: Rauch to the Rotation?

big right-hander has been a starter for most of his career, and while he thrived in the set-up man role last season, the Nats have a number of candidates (Ryan Wagner, Beltran Perez, Luis Ayala v. 2.0) to fill that slot. Lest we forget, Rauch battled John Patterson tooth-and-nail for the 5th starter spot in Spring Training '05, (behind such luminaries as Zach Day and Tomo Ohka.) If JimBo were willing to lay out a little cash we could reassemble 3/5 of our 2005 Opening Day rotation in '07. Somebody find Antonio Osuna and T.J. Tucker, STAT. But I digress...

Of course, if Rauch had ever excelled as a starter he probably wouldn't have bounced between the minors and the bullpen for the last few seasons. But hey, a solid third or fourth SP looks pretty good right now, no?


Watson said...

Schneider: [Reading Nate's Post] Woah, he calls you "callow" in here.

Church: You say that like it's bad.

Schneider: It means frightened and weak-willed.

Church: Really? Damn. That was the only part of the letter I thought was complimentary.

Basil said...

Of course, it would be just like the Nats to re-sign Robert Fick to vulture Broadway's "reserve 1B/LF" slot. Youth movement my eye.

Well, I'll be!

(Nats say Fick won't stand in Broadway's way. Fick says he's expecting 300 ABs. You make the call.)

Nate said...

Watson: Well played, sir. Well played.

Basil: I just think it's a shame that Larry B. will, in all likelihood, exit the organization as a 6-year free agent, without every getting a fair shot to even crack the bench.

Much of that can be laid on his injury-prone shoulders, but it's unfortunate all the same. That said, Fick's ability to don the tools of ignorance make him a better choice for that 2nd utility IF role.