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The Nationals' Outfield


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I'm sure most of you have noticed this already, but it looks like the Nationals have plenty of options for outfielders heading into this season. I almost want to use the term, "stacked." This is the current list:

-Adam Dunn

-Lastings Milledge

-Elijah Dukes

-Austin Kearns

-Josh Willingham

-Wily Mo Pena

-Willie Harris

-Corey Patterson

In a league with no designated hitter, it's going to be tough getting all of those guys at bats. Harris and Patterson might not make the team, but the other guys are all capable of starting and putting up decent numbers. Dunn can probably also get some time at 1B when Nick Johnson needs a day off (or makes his annual trip to the disabled list).

In an interesting bit of trivia, Dunn, Kearns and Pena were all in a similar crowded outfield situation in Cincinnati a few seasons ago. Ken Griffey Jr. and Ryan Freel were also on that team.

Also, Harris had his best season in 2007 after being recalled from AAA by the Braves. He took the roster spot opened up when Ryan Langerhans was traded to Oakland. Langerhans is now also an outfielder in the Nationals' organization.

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I'll somewhat echo Sean in that I find it hard to understand why the Nats brought Corey in. It's a wasted space.

Kearns would probably be cut if the Nats weren't so reluctant to eat his contract. Harris made some big plays as a role player last year. I'd hate to see him go. I've been a fan of his since Bowie.

Does Wily Mo serve any purpose on that club?

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I'll somewhat echo Sean in that I find it hard to understand why the Nats brought Corey in. It's a wasted space.

Kearns would probably be cut if the Nats weren't so reluctant to eat his contract. Harris made some big plays as a role player last year. I'd hate to see him go. I've been a fan of his since Bowie.

Does Wily Mo serve any purpose on that club?

Fills a DL spot?

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I'll somewhat echo Sean in that I find it hard to understand why the Nats brought Corey in. It's a wasted space.

Kearns would probably be cut if the Nats weren't so reluctant to eat his contract. Harris made some big plays as a role player last year. I'd hate to see him go. I've been a fan of his since Bowie.

Does Wily Mo serve any purpose on that club?

Helps add to the team's strikeout total? With him and Dunn on the roster, that number could grow pretty quickly.

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My first thought was that a Dunn, Milledge, Willingham defensive outfield might make one pine for the days of Gerhart, Lynn, and Sheets.

I hadn't seen Dunn play much outfield before the WBC, but there were some balls hit to the corner where he looked like I wouldn't have played him there in a rec league softball game. I really don't think I'm exaggerating when I say my old Pax River softball team had 3-4 outfielders with more range.

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Good thread... here's how I see it breaking down:

-Adam Dunn (starting 1B - regardless of how poorly he looked in the WBC - when Nick Johnson is unavailable)

-Lastings Milledge (Starting CF)

-Elijah Dukes (Starting LF)

-Austin Kearns (Bench player, spot starter)

-Josh Willingham (Batting less than .200 in ST and looks to possibly miss OD roster)

-Wily Mo Pena (he's as good as gone)

-Willie Harris (good talent with nowhere to play. He'll start the year in AAA)

-Corey Patterson (Having a dreadful spring. He won't make the squad).

Right now the starting outfield will be Dukes, Milledge, Dunn with Johnson at 1B... but people expect Johnson to go out with an injury (he always does) moving either Dunn or Dimitri Young (who is still around) to 1B and possibly freeing up a spot for Willingham or Kearns.

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Good thread... here's how I see it breaking down:

-Adam Dunn (starting 1B - regardless of how poorly he looked in the WBC - when Nick Johnson is unavailable)

-Lastings Milledge (Starting CF)

-Elijah Dukes (Starting LF)

-Austin Kearns (Bench player, spot starter)

-Josh Willingham (Batting less than .200 in ST and looks to possibly miss OD roster)

-Wily Mo Pena (he's as good as gone)

-Willie Harris (good talent with nowhere to play. He'll start the year in AAA)

-Corey Patterson (Having a dreadful spring. He won't make the squad).

Right now the starting outfield will be Dukes, Milledge, Dunn with Johnson at 1B... but people expect Johnson to go out with an injury (he always does) moving either Dunn or Dimitri Young (who is still around) to 1B and possibly freeing up a spot for Willingham or Kearns.

So what happens to Dunn if Johnson is healthy for 2-3 months? No way in heck they're going to sit their big free agent acquisition and 40-homer guy on the bench.

I doubt they're going to release Willingham. He's 30 with a career OPS+ of 117. They have to be looking at a trade.

Does Harris have any options? Won't he be exposed to waivers, or refuse a minor league assignment?

I guess I see you don't have a starting RFer... is that spot Dunn's?

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So what happens to Dunn if Johnson is healthy for 2-3 months? No way in heck they're going to sit their big free agent acquisition and 40-homer guy on the bench.

I doubt they're going to release Willingham. He's 30 with a career OPS+ of 117. They have to be looking at a trade.

Does Harris have any options? Won't he be exposed to waivers, or refuse a minor league assignment?

I guess I see you don't have a starting RFer... is that spot Dunn's?

When I read his last paragraph, he has Dunn starting in the outfield unless Johnson gets injured. Thus opening up an outfield spot for Kearns or Willingham. He doesn't have Dunn on the bench. So yeah, I believe he has Dunn in right.

I see it shaping up like this:

Dunn LF

Milledge CF

Dukes RF

Johnson 1B

If Johnson stays healthy, and Willingham or Kearns hit their way into the starting lineup, then I wouldn't be surprised to see Dukes go to CF if Milledge is struggling.

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Looking at their roster,

I could see them keeping 6 outfielders, with the idea that one (Willingham most likely) will be their backup 1B.

OF

Dunn

Dukes

Milledge

Willingham

Kearns

Harris

1B Johnson

2B Herndandez

3B Zimmerman

SS Guzman

sub- Belliard

C

Flores

Nieves

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When I read his last paragraph, he has Dunn starting in the outfield unless Johnson gets injured. Thus opening up an outfield spot for Kearns or Willingham. He doesn't have Dunn on the bench. So yeah, I believe he has Dunn in right.

I see it shaping up like this:

Dunn LF

Milledge CF

Dukes RF

Johnson 1B

Exactly... Dunn will be starting in the OF until Nick Johnson gets hurt, making the odd men out Willingham and Kearns. They are trying to trade Nick but can't get anyone to take him and the Willingham situation is a pure mystery.

Keep in mind that their crazed GM who put them in this predicament (including signing a "backup" 1B in Dimitri Young through this year), is now gone so the Nationals are left with a bunch of random pieces. They really have no direction right now... just a bunch of promising talent. Jim Bowden really screwed this team up in more ways than one.

If Johnson stays healthy, and Willingham or Kearns hit their way into the starting lineup, then I wouldn't be surprised to see Dukes go to CF if Milledge is struggling.

Milledge is the closest thing to a sure thing in the Nats OF. He should start more games in the OF than any other National this year (assuming Dunn plays more at 1B). He's been named the leadoff hitter by manager Manny Acta and appears to be the most consistent of the young OF. Anything's possible with injuries and how people are playing, but Kearns is the least talented right now and Willingham has had the worst spring.

Does Harris have any options? Won't he be exposed to waivers, or refuse a minor league assignment?

I honestly have no idea... he's coming back from a hip injury and has had a horrific spring. He's a long shot to make even the 40 man roster at this point and I don't know if they have the option to send him to AAA or if he'll accept.

I could see them keeping 6 outfielders, with the idea that one (Willingham most likely) will be their backup 1B.

I don't think they'll keep Harris and the Nationals have been saying since the Winter that Dunn will be the option at 1B if needed... not Willingham.

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With Harris having been given a two year deal, Anderson Hernandez headed for the DL and Belliard slowed by his ankle, I think Willie will probably make the club based on versatility.

That's true... Harris can play a little 2B so perhaps he makes the squad as well... I haven't mapped out the starting 25 or anything so I don't know what their roster will shape up to be.

It's difficult to project, however, because just about everyone is having a rotten spring in Nationals' camp. Elijah Dukes is really the only hitter having a decent Spring Training.

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