So much for a quiet off-day in spring training.
By now, you've all read the reports. Rick Ankiel has won the centerfielder job. Matt Stairs has a place on the bench. Jayson Nix could very well be a backup outfielder.
And now, for the coup de grace, the Washington Nationals have signed LHP Oliver Perez to a minor league deal.
It's enough to make one wonder about the decision-making process in NatsTown.
To be polite, Ankiel's best days (not that they were all that great to begin with) are in the past. In 2008, the then 28 year old Ankiel completed a remarkable transition from left-handed fireball pitcher to Major League outfielder, hitting .262/.337/.506 with 25 home runs and 71 RBIs for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The tragic story of a pitcher that lost the ability to throw strikes had its happy ending.
Since then though, Ankiel, 32 in July, hasn't come close to replicating those numbers. He hasn't hit 25 homers combined in the last two seasons and his career .248/.312/.441 over eight seasons describes a journeyman struggling to hang on.
Nix, 30, is the very definition of journeyman, working on his fourth organization. His slash line (.243/.286/.425) is even worse than Ankiel's in his eight big league seasons.
At least both Ankiel and Nix play a decent outfield and are capable of manning center, though both are more suited for left field.
Matt Stairs, however, is a pinch-hitter. Only. He's 43 years old and can no longer play the field with any acumen. He is the Major League record holder for career pinch-hit home runs, and is seems like extending that record is the only thing that keeps him hanging on.
In the last two seasons, his 240 plate appearances have netted 11 home runs, but with a slash line of .213/.333/.426, suggesting his approach is homer or bust in every appearance. 21 of his 43 hits the last two years resulted in doubles or home runs.
Oh, and all three are left-handed hitters. It would make sense for the Nats to carry one older, more experienced part-time outfielder bench player on their roster. But three?
If all three make the roster, it spells doom for others in the system, namely Nyjer Morgan and especially Roger Bernadina -- two younger, more athletic left-handed hitters.
Nyjer Morgan, 30, has his fans -- and detractors -- in the organization. There are those that feel he really is the player that was showcased for ten weeks in 2009 after the trade that brought him over from the Pirates, when he hit .312/.373/.401 with 34 steals. There are an equal number that have grown tired of him misplay balls in the outfield, get thrown out on the bases and generally sulk his way to a .253/.319/.314 slash line last season.
His maturity issues add a whole another level of complexity to his rosterability.
But the real victim in all of this rush to add big league experience to a roster that should be in a full-blown youth movement is Roger Bernadina.
The Shark may never be anything more than a fourth outfielder. But he has an intriguing combination of pop and speed -- 11 HR, 16 SB/2 CS in 461 plate appearances in 2010, his first full season in the majors. And he is entering the prime of his career, turning 27 in July.
He's a guy that virtually screams "breakout player", yet it seems like the Nats are going to allow him to languish in Triple-A instead of finding out if they actually have a big leaguer on their hands.
Ankiel, Nix and Stairs almost certainly will not be on this team next season, and definitely not in 2013, when the bulk of the Nats talent should be mature enough to actually compete in the National League East. Bernadina, on the other hand, could be a contributing member of that squad in the prime of his career.
But the Nats, in their desperation to win as many games as they can in 2011 to justify Jayson Werth's horrible contract, won't know what they have with Bernadina, if they retain his services at all.
This Nationals team is EXACTLY the type of team that should be playing its youngsters. They threw Ian Desmond to the wolves last year and he responded, and Danny Espinosa will be given the same treatment this year.
Bernadina showed some promise last season before running out of gas in the longest season of his professional career. He apparently lost a share of the left field position due to Michael Morse's hot spring, and since he has an option remaining on his contract, will in all likelihood be sent down to make room for a couple of re-treads trying to hang on in the name on "professionalism" and "Major League experience".
As for the signing of Perez? Heaven help the Nationals if he actually steps foot in Nats Park. Too many things have to go abysmally wrong for Perez to be an option. The organization is already touting his relationship with Spin Williams, their minor league pitching coordinator, with whom Perez worked in Pittsburgh.
But there's no covering up the fact that Perez has walked six batters per nine innings the last two season, nor the fact that his very public complaining about being relegated to the bullpen with the Mets led to his release.
But Perez is a Scott Boras client, and Mike Rizzo has yet to meet a Boras client he wasn't willing to sign, as the Nats now have 11 on the roster.
Seems like the more things change around NatsTown, the more they stay the same.