No Hudson? No Problem

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, February 04, 2010 | , , | 1 comments »'s Bill Ladson just tweeted: 
I just learned from a baseball source that 2B Orlando Hudson will not play for the #Nats. He most likely will play for the Twins.
Good for the Twins.  They had a injury to holdover Nick Punto and they really needed to get somebody in there.

But this isn't a Twins blog, it's a Nats blog.

I advocated much earlier this off-season that it was time for the Nats to let Desmond sink or swim at shortstop, and I'll reiterate that opinion here. 
Desmond is not really a kid anymore. He’s 24 years old and has six years in the minors leagues under him. If he isn’t ready to be playing by now, a couple more months in Triple-A isn’t really going to help.
I stand by that 100%.  Bringing in Hudson would have been defensible.  He's been a good player most of his career, has decent on base skills, and apparently is revered by several on the squad.

But it would be a HUGE mistake to block Desmond's playing time this season bringing in a journeyman like Adam Kennedy.  Kennedy is not a good fielder, the primary stated reason Mike Rizzo was trying to lure Hudson here.

The Nats would be much better off, this season and in the long run, allowing Desmond to grow into the position at the major league level.

Sure, Desmond still has some problem with some of the throws from short.  It's not lack of arm strength or range, it's that he sometimes just gets careless.  He can make the difficult look routine and the routine look terrible.

Does that sound like anyone else you know?

The Nationals had to play Ryan Zimmerman from the moment he looked like a major leaguer, which wasn't too long into his professional career.  He was, and remains, the face of the franchise.

But the team allowed him to work through his throwing problems, which lasted seemingly right up until the time that Manny Acta was let go last season.  Not many people remember this now, but on Friday, July 17, Zim was second in the National League in errors.

Not just for third basemen.  In the entire National League.  His fielding percentage at third base was third worst of anyone that qualified at that point.

But because of who he is, and his hitting, Zimmerman was allowed the opportunity to work through his throwing problem, and he did.  His defensive performance in the second half of the season was stellar.  He would commit just five more errors after July 17, and go on to win his first Gold Glove.

I'm not suggesting that Ian Desmond will win a Gold Glove.  But what I am suggesting is that he be given every opportunity this season to prove, or disprove, that he is going to be a viable major league shortstop.

In his tryout last September, one manager Jim Riggleman was reluctant to grant until Cristian Guzman came up lame, Desmond certainly held his own (.280/.318/.561 with four homers in 89 plate appearances).  Rizzo like to caution about September tryouts, but they're major league games regardless.

The Nationals are all about building through the draft, home-growing their players.  Ryan Zimmerman was the first, and remains the only, position player the Nats have developed since moving here from Montreal.

Ian Desmond can become the second, if they just give him the opportunity.


  1. Rob // February 4, 2010 at 3:04 PM  

    Yeah, I agree with your sentiments. Give Desmond the chance to show what he can do. If nothing else, it'll be exciting to watch him develop this season.