Wow, a ton of Ladson inboxes so far this year! This is great! Here’s the 4/8/16 version.
A: Wow, Ladson and I agree! I absolutely want Jayson Werth in the lead-off spot right now. Why? Because more and more it seems like Werth’s power has left him in his advancing age. I’ve said it before in this space several times, but yes I believe Werth would be a great lead-off hitter. Short version: sees a ton of pitches (4.16 P/PA last year, which would make him top 10 if he qualified … and that’s WAY down from normal). Great OBP (.365 for his career, and while 2015 was an aberration the three years before he was in the .380 to .390+ range), and when he was coming back from his wrist injury and batting lead-off for the team in 2012 his splits batting lead-off were fantastic (.309/.388/.450). When you put Werth in the middle of the order, he’s going to try to hit like a middle-of-the-order bat. What if he can’t do that anymore? Then you end up with a guy who we may be seeing right now; flailing at the ball, trying to drive it at the age of 36-37). If you put him at the top, and ask him to be a leadoff hitter, I think his advanced bat skills make him a great option there. Ladson says the same things I do; working the count, seeing lots of pitches.
Q: When are you going to give Danny Espinosa some credit? He is off to a good start. You always write about Trea Turner.
A: Yeah, great start. He’s 3 for 9. But he was awful all spring. Can you spell “Short Sample Sizes?” Nobody in the league or the organization has any question that Trea Turner is the future and Danny Espinosa is just holding the spot for now. If he continues to earn playing time, so be it. I’ll take an extra year of control if Turner hangs out in Syracuse for 2-3 months. The fact is though that at some point somebody’s getting hurt (Ryan Zimmerman? Anthony Rendon? Both are good bets) that will require some infield coverage/shifting around, and at that point Turner makes perfect sense to bring up and see what he can do with full time playing time. Ladson gives Espinosa some love.
Q: With Bryce Harper saying that he doesn’t view himself as a leader on the team, who do you think is the “official” leader of the Nationals’ clubhouse?
A: I’m pretty sure this is Harper‘s way of being deferential to the veterans on the team without proclaiming himself as the leader. But lets not kid ourselves; this franchise has had one MVP and he’s it. Who is the leader? I think there’s several leaders; there’s four significant veterans on this team: Werth, Zimmerman, Max Scherzer and Jonathan Papelbon. Not all of them have been here forever like the FotF has, but they’re the ones that have been around the league, who are on the 8-figure deals, and they’re the ones who seem to dictate the pace of the clubhouse. Ladson also mentions Murphy and Ramos; arguable. I only name Papelbon because in the span of a few weeks he went from being the last guy hired to being the unquestioned leader in terms of tenure both here and in the league.
Q: Were you surprised Sean Burnett wasn’t put on the 25-man roster?
A: Yes and No. On the one hand, the team had two solid lefties in Felipe Rivero and Oliver Perez already under contract, and keeping Burnett would have meant sending down Treinen basically thanks to options issues. And that would have been a non-starter. If Burnett had 8th inning stuff, perhaps. No, i see the Burnett signing and tenure as a “favor to a long standing former player” trying to help him get back on his feet in this league. Ladson mentions we already had two good lefties.
Q: What do you think of outfielder Victor Robles?
A: I think he’s young, apparently talented, on pace to perhaps be a solid 5 tool player. I also think he’s years away from helping this team. So its great that he’s potentially great … but that doesn’t do much to help this current team win while it still has Strasburg and Harper under contract. Ladson has glowing words for the 18-yr old.
PS: I was heading to the game today before they cancelled it due to … the threat of snow? I dunno; its chilly right now but clear. We’ll have to wait to get to our first game