What's the Nationals' Defense Strategy?

Thomas WestContributor IJuly 25, 2009

Mike Rizzo, GM of the Washington Nationals, likes defense. He showed it last month by picking up Nyjer Morgan from Pittsburgh. Hopefully, it's just the beginning. 

And everybody knows why.

The Nats are last in baseball in errors, fielding percentage and fifth lowest in "RngR" (or "Range Runs," meaning the percentage of balls-in-play fielders get to).

Which is pretty insulting, if you think about it: not only do they screw up more often than any other team, but they've had one of the fewest opportunities than any team to do so. 

But that changed when Morgan came to town. Not only does he rank second overall in defensive "UZR" in baseball (see here) but he does cool things like this and this

But an up-the-middle defensive upgrade shouldn't stop there. According to reports, the Nats sent representatives to both the Giants' Double-A Connecticut Defenders and to the Tigers' Double-A Erie presumably for young pitchers. 

But how about second base? The Giants are loaded with young second baseman. 

While Matt Downs isn't exactly lighting it up in his Major League debut season, he's still young, solid with the glove (.983 fielding percentage) and a surprize for the organization. Behind him are Emmanuel Buriss and 20-year-old stud Nick Noonan.

(EDIT: Nick Noonan is the top prospect--5 overall in the Giants' system, according to Baseball American--not Matt Downs, who is currently starting for the major league club, but struggling with a .184 batting average. Burriss is out for the year)

But neither play at Double-A Connecticut. Brock Bond does, however.

Bond may be a little old for a big-time prospect (24 in September) but his .344 batting average and .439 on-base percentage are near the top of the Eastern League and he's shown productivity throughout his three-year minor league career.

So, are they scouting Bond? Maybe. If not, they should look at another middle-infielder. With shortstop Ian Desmond playing well at Triple-A Syracuse, the Nats' could use a buddy on the opposite side of second. Maybe Bond's the man.

'Course, the rumor is the Giants are looking for a right-handed, outfield bat and a first baseman. Maybe Bond, and Jonathan Sánchez for Nick Johnson and Josh Willingham?

If not, the next second baseman could be a free agent pickup. But let's hope not.


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