My story today on MASNSports.com follows up on the quotes from Mike Rizzo Monday night, when he went on 106.7 The Fan and answered questions about the Washington Nationals roster construction this season, specifically about the bench players he acquired.
Rick Ankiel, Jerry Hairston, Laynce Nix, Matt Stairs and Alex Cora are all veterans that Rizzo said, "know their roles and have exceed at the role of being a bench player."
But production should still count for something, and if you take the trouble to look at the stats you can decide for yourself if the players Rizzo chose are an upgrade over what they had last year, or let go, or traded this spring. Every spring training battle this year the winner was older and someone signed this off-season. I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing, but it's a thing.
Rizzo also points to these players as mentors "to teach these good young prospect players how to be major leaguers." The Nats have only four position players on the roster 26 or younger: Ryan Zimmerman (26), Ian Desmond (25), Danny Espinosa (24 in two weeks) and Wilson Ramos (23). Does this team need an individual mentor for each of them?
Rizzo also said that none of thoes players will "take one at-bat away from a prospect," which is true I guess if the team no longer considers Roger Bernadina a prospect, despite just entering the prime productive years of his career. Bryce Harper, Chris Marrero, Derek Norris and others still need a full season (or more) in the minors, so they aren't losing at bats.
P.S. Please also read FJB's post this morning on the very same topic. It's good to see he's finding the time to add his particular opinion and voice back into the discussion.