The Washington Nationals last night discarded one of the most celebrated additions from last offseason, third baseman Vinny Castilla, and all but certainly thrust rookie Ryan Zimmerman into the Opening Day lineup for 2006 when they traded Castilla to the San Diego Padres for right-hander Brian Lawrence.This is a breathtakingly good deal. Here's why:
- We are rid of Vinny Castilla, who wasn't good enough to start in front of Dutch Zimmerman or versatile enough to do anything but play third.
- We have added a solid, innings-eating starter. Brian Lawrence isn't really "good" (I called him "the very embodiment of mediocrity" back in January), but he's exactly what we need and costs us nothing. If Esteban Loaiza were to sign elsewhere, the presence of Lawrence would take a lot of the sting off the loss.
Bowden said the move to trade Castilla and essentially put Zimmerman in the starting lineup was made easier by the performance of infielder Brendan Harris in the Arizona Fall League. Harris, who briefly appeared with the Nationals over the summer, is leading the league with a .397 average, and he could prove a useful insurance should Zimmerman struggle, Bowden said." Finally, Bodes seems to realize what he has in Harris. With Zimmerman and Jose Vidro around, he shouldn't be starting, but it's a very good thing to have insurance for, respectively, a rookie and an injury-prone vet.