To many Nationals fans, a perfect baseball world would have Ian Desmond 100 percent ready to take over full-time operation of the shortstop position, Adam Kennedy back to his 2005 form, and for Cristian Guzman to just disappear.
Unfortunately for Washingtonians and this isn't a perfect world.
Ian Desmond was outstanding in 2009 but has a tradition of disappointing. He posted BABIP'S of .371 and .425 in AA and AAA before reaching Washington at the end of the season, which leads one to believe he may be up for a relapse. Adam Kennedy had a come back year in 2009, but prior to that he had struggled in his two-year stint with the Cardinals and was inevitably released. Cristian Guzman at this point in his career isn't a very good fielder, hitter, or thrower, and walks only slightly more at the major league level than I do. The Nationals are forced to at least play him a little bit though, as they are paying him $8 million this year.
So what can the Nationals do? They have three middle infielders that at most, in my mind, I only have 66 percent confidence in. They have a budding young star that they want to give playing time, but an old over paid shortstop who they are paying to produce, and a second basemen that hopefully will be a guy who can give them the consistency they need in that position, but no guarantee's.
So here's the solution Mr. Rizzo and Riggleman. A plan that will allow all three players to play, and an opportunity to help them all excel.
I propose a three-way (I thought the giggles stopped with Wang, oh-well) platoon.
Adam Kennedy, a left-handed hitter, right-handed thrower, was horrendous against lefties in 2009. Kennedy batted .241/.303/.333 against southpaw's in 2009 compared to .306/.363/.437 against righties. In fact, in his whole career Kennedy has only batted .245/.303/.329 against left-handers and .291/.348/.409 against righties.
Cristian Guzman, a switch hitter, preformed poorly against righties in 2009 but well against lefties. Against righties in 2009 Guzman hit .277 but only reached base at .301 and slugged .379. Against lefties (and batting right handed), Guzman hit .307/.323/.425, a large improvement than on his other splits. It may be wise for Guzman just to make the move to bat as a righty full-time.
Ian Desmond, a young player, is about equal against both righties and lefties for all intensive purposes, and at his age shouldn't be limited against which pitchers he hits against.
With these stats it seems to me the solution is simple. Against right handed pitching, play Adam Kennedy at second base, and play Ian Desmond at shortstop 60 percent of the time while having Guzman get 40% to work on hitting right handed batting from the right side. Eventually as the Nationals get more comfortable with Desmond playing full-time, they can give him 100% playing time at short against righties.
Then, when the Nationals face a lefty, have either Guzman or Desmond (preferably Guzman) play second base, the other short, and have Kennedy sit.
While this strategy may seem hard to manage, to me it seems like the best way to get the most out of the three players while still keeping in mind several key principles. Them being:
1. Ian Desmond needs to play, but cant be relied on yet.
2. Cristian Guzman needs to be a valuable asset with his contract, this may be the best way to capitalize on him
3. Adam Kennedy kills right handed pitching but can't handle the lefties, this makes him the most effective.
What do you think? Is this plausible? Would it work? Is it missing something fundamental and important?