One of the privileges of being a fan is that there’s little consequence to voicing your opinion about your team and the decisions that they make. Actually, that freedom is enjoyed by anyone with the right to free speech. If a player stinks, I can call for his job and tell the ownership to put him on the next train out of town.
In general, I try to avoid these types of proclamations because 1) you’d have to be pretty callous to want someone to get cut (especially if they don’t have a guaranteed contract) and 2) you would run out of people to talk to as a writer if you were constantly writing that everyone you talk to should be fired (this one doesn’t apply to me since I’m a lowly fan blogger and don’t actually interview players).
With that said, could the current Nationals please start hitting?
It’s hard to pinpoint just one player who is over his head, washed up, or needs to repair his mechanics. Futility at the plate seems to be the rule, not the exception for the Nats.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to justify cutting one of the struggling hitters loose without an obvious alternative. If you drop Matt Stairs because he only has four hits (one for extra bases) in 43 at-bats, who are you going to give his pinch-hit at-bats to? Rick Ankiel (when he’s not starting) and his .197 batting average in over 150 plate appearances?
What about down at Syracuse? Well, Chris Marrero has a .761 OPS, which ranks 39th in the International League among qualified players. All the other Chiefs on the leaderboard are there because of the fact that they qualify, not because you’d ever mistake their statistics for leading. Michael Aubrey might deserve a chance. He has an .821 OPS, which will be a pretty solid number once he has enough plate appearances to qualify. He’s also 29 years old, so he’s not quite a prospect.
The Nationals chose the bench of Alex Cora, Jerry Hairston Jr., Laynce Nix, Matt Stairs and Pudge Rodriguez and only Nix has been what you’d call a pleasant surprise at the plate. You reap what you sow. Cora has had one season in his 14 year career where he’s been above average at the plate. Hairston did him two better. Matt “The Bat” Stairs was above average last year, but you’re playing with fire if you expect a plus-40-year-old player to duplicate success at the plate. Even though you expect Cora, Hairston, and Pudge to contribute in other ways than with their bat, their problems at the plate are magnified when the rest of the offense stalls.
The return of Ryan Zimmerman will help, but this team is what we can now see they were built to be: improved on defense and bad at the plate. Since this is a bridge year anyway, hopefully the Nats will keep the defensive pieces in the starting lineup in place and load up on bats on the bench during the offseason.