Pre-game thoughts, BULLET-POINT STYLE!
- Manager Jim Riggleman made some interesting obsevations in his pre-game press conference this morning. He said that Scott Olsen was done, that trying to warm up the other day he just had too many "aches and pains" in his shoulder, and that "this bullpen situation just isn't working for Scott." He said Olsen needs a good 15 minutes or so to get warmed up, and he just doesn't have that luxury in the pen. I would be shocked at this point if the Nats tender him after the season.
- On Michael Morse, Riggleman said he likes the way Morse has been succesful in the opportunities he's been given, but they've been careful in managing his at bats, protecting him against some of the harder throwing starters in the league. He said "it's not [a question about] physical strength, it's bat speed." Morse's long swing makes him susceptible against harder throwers, but he'll get his opportunities against Halladay and Oswalt this week, two real tough right-handers.
- On Danny Espinosa leading off: "I think he could hit in a lot of places in the lineup." Riggs went on to say that "On base percentage is key for that leadoff spot," and that between Espinosa, Desmond, Morgan and Bernadina the team has to find someone who will OBP .350 in that leadoff spot. Riggs said he prefers Morgan in the no. 2 spot, but did not indicate specifically why he prefers that.
There will be plenty of time for introspection once the season is over, but there are some significant issues the team faces this off-season, and a lot of it depends on the player they think Nyjer Morgan is.
Is he an "everyday" center fielder and lead-off hitter? Or will they see his limitations against left-handed pitching and get him a right-handed platoon partner? Does he hit leadoff, or at the bottom of the order?
I don't think it was coincidental that the Nats had their season-high winning streak with Espinosa and Desmond hitting 1-2 while Morgan was out. While neither are "traditional" lead-off hitters, they both -- despite their lack of Major League experience -- have better on-base skills on Morgan, who relies almost solely on his speed.
As for Morse, he could be a late bloomer (a la Jayson Werth) who magically turns into a 20-homer guy, but I think more likely the Nats would prefer to keep managing his opportunities to maximize his production. Morse and Bernadina have both shown this season that put in the right situations, they can help this team. The Nats could do a lot worse than running Bernadina and Morse in a platoon out in right field next season.
Of course all this debate takes a backseat to the Adam Dunn situation at first, the biggest question mark heading into the off-season.