Yesterday on this blog, Will wrote an outstanding article about what Prince Fielder could bring to the Washington Nationals this season. The first base situation got increasingly complicated after Bill Ladson of MLB.com tweeted, "#Nats 1B Chris Marrero will not start Spring Training on time because of a torn left hamstring. #MLB"
Many expected Chris Marrero to be the team's back up first baseman to start the season. The starter would either be Adam LaRoche or Michael Morse if LaRoche wasn't ready to start the 2012 campaign. This has all changed in a big way with Marrero down for the count for the next several months. That means no offseason workouts, no training. It's not a good situation for Marrero, who was hoping to break through to the 25-man roster on Opening Day for the first time in his extended minor league career.
Now, Chris Marrero and Adam LaRoche are essentially off the trading block because of their injuries, creating an unexpected log jam on the first base depth chart for the Nationals and opening some new options for the team to consider. Here are some of them, bullet-point style.
- Sign Prince Fielder: This scenario may have gotten a bit more plausable with Marrero's injury. If the Nationals sign Fielder, it gives Michael Morse time to focus on his outfield defense to prepare for the 2012 season. The team can worry about the backup, hopefully Marrero is ready by Opening Day, a bit later on. LaRoche would be put on the trading block or possibly even released.
- Wait on LaRoche: Despite people sort of forgetting about him, Adam LaRoche is one of the best defensive first basemen in baseball, and he provides power from the left side when he's not suppressing a significant shoulder injury. His talent level doesn't compare to Fielder, but he also doesn't cost nearly as much money. The Nats could wait on LaRoche, hope he returns to 2010 form (.261/.320/.468, 25 HR, 100 RBI), and see what happens from there. This is, I'd imagine, the likeliest scenario.
- Put Morse at First: This is another interesting possibility. Morse had significant success at first base last season, and he will be far less of a defensive liability there than in left field. This would create a need for a left fielder that could be temporarily filled by Roger Bernadina until June, when Bryce Harper could make his MLB debut. Or you could forgo the entire Bernadina situation and bring up Harper on Opening Day, but that's not the likeliest scenario. Plus, you still have Adam LaRoche to deal with or move. This is not entirely out of the question if LaRoche isn't ready by Opening Day.
So what say you, readers? Like any of these options or have others to suggest? Hit up the comments.
Yeah, LaRoche has become a burden in Nats Fans eyes. I just hope we could dump him somewhere without losing those Millions of dollars.
To me the biggest problem with starting LaRoche is that while his numbers (261/.320/.468, 25 HR, 100 RBI) may be solid in a vacuum, for MLB first baseman it isn't exactly excellent. In fact in 2010, when LaRoche posted those numbers, he ranked 24th in the MLB among first basemen in WAR.