Nationals.com favored us with a whole pillow factory of fluff today. Bulgaroktonos has already weighed in, and the Filibuster used the stuff to put up about twenty posts today without resorting to any mention of the Puppy Bowl. I don't know why I put up those links, because they said first what I'm going to say, but what the hell. I'm going to ignore the Spring Training quick hits and focus on the other story which is pretty much the same thing. I feel for you, MLB.com's Bill Ladson. There's nothing going on and you've got content to provide. Don't overlook the Puppy Bowl for filler material.
Last season, Castilla and Guillen each drove in 100 runs, while Guzman hit a respectable .274.Did Tom Boswell ghostwrite this? Way to cherry-pick meaningless stats.
All three, however, have question marks going into 2005. Castilla, for starters, has a reputation of not hitting well outside of Coors Field. Though he did slug 21 home runs and drive in 51 runs on the road last season, it came along with a .218 batting average.Those 21 homers are the only thing separating the road version of Vinny from Tony Batista. If you double all of Castilla's road stats, Batista has more hits, doubles, and RBI, and the same number of triples and runs. Castilla had a flukey HR total last year, and he won't come anywhere close to doing that again. I'm pretty confident in predicting that he'll actually be an offensive downgrade from Batista last year.
"Jose Guillen comes with extra baggage off the field," the scout said. "If he decides that he's going to play a full year, Guillen is going to hit 35 to 40 home runs and he's going to drive in a bunch of runs.Here's a complete list of every season in which Guillen has hit at least 35 homers: .
Vidro missed the last several weeks of the season after undergoing knee surgery. He said a few weeks ago that the knee is 75 percent healthy and he plans to rehab even further during Spring Training. A revamped Vidro could deliver 20 home runs and close to 100 RBIs.Vidro isn't going to play 150 games in 2005. I can feel it in my bones. He's going to watch a lot of singles skid past him, as well. That said, he's a rad hitter for a middle infielder. I'd be listening to trade offers if I were the Nats.
Robinson has already called Sledge a complete player. In 2003, Sledge showed for the first time that he could hit for power and drive in runs in the minor leagues. It carried over to the Major League level in 2004, as Sledge finished third on the team with 62 RBIs, including 24 in his last 22 games. His 15 home runs tied for second among National League rookies.Sledge was a 27-year-old rookie with a .336 OBP. You'd be pleased with that from a shortstop, but Sledge is a corner outfielder, and it's not like he makes up for it with prodigious power. Sledge can be a useful player if used correctly, but he'll never be a starter on a good team.
To sum up: the Nationals are carrying three offensive black holes in the lineup. We don't have a great hitter to make up for it, either. Before you jump all over me for slighting Brad Wilkerson, consider that if B-Wilk had played on the Cardinals last year and put up the same line he did with the 'Spos, he would have been the fifth-best hitter on the team, and that's without adjusting for position. Not one of the 2005 Nats slugged .500 last year except Castilla, and he doesn't count (.493 on the road). If our bench is good, it's only because Frank's not starting the right guys. MLB.com's Bill Ladson seems to think the pitching is the problem ("The Nationals can hit all they want, but they will finish near the bottom of the National League East if they don't get quality starting pitching"), so I'm sure he'll be surprised when we score fewer runs than Pittsburgh.