Wednesday, September 07, 2005


The injuries to Nick Johnson and Jose Vidro came, to put it mildly, at an inopportune time. Vidro's injury has kept Cristian Guzman in the lineup on a regular basis, which is keeping the Nationals from fielding a legitimate major leaguer at all nine positions. With Vidro back, the Nationals could start Deivi Cruz at shortstop and bench Guzman and his sub-.200 batting average.

What could the Nationals do with Johnson back? Assuming that Marlon Byrd continues to hit as he has since he was recalled from AAA New Orleans, the Nats would pencil him in as their starting left fielder and Guillen as their starting right fielder. With Brad Wilkerson moving back to center, Frank Robinson would have to decide what to do with Wilkerson and Preston Wilson.

Robinson could platoon them. Wilson's numbers suggest that a platoon would do the Nationals well. His OPS against left-handers is a healthy .954, but it's only .759 against right-handers. Unfortunately, Wilkerson's numbers don't support the platoon idea because he has a better OPS against left-handers (.843) than he does against right-handers (.743). In other words, a platoon doesn't make much sense.

We think that Robinson should sit Mr. Wilkerson. Given that Wilson hits better against both left- and right-handers, what's the argument for sticking with Brad? And Wilkerson lately has been flailing away at the plate. His OPS in July and August was .653 and .751, respectively. Wilson's OPS in July and August was .793 and .803, respectively. In the first week of September, Wilson (.978 OPS) has been much hotter than Wilkeson (.700). Sure, the September numbers are based on only twenty at bats, but we're now at the point of the season where a streaking hitter should be in the lineup because there aren't many at bats left.

It's taken us four paragraphs to say that it would be really good if Johnson and Vidro would get back into the lineup quickly. Yes, we can be pretty wordy at times. When will they be back? The Post reports that both Johnson and Vidro took batting practice and fielded balls yesterday. Vidro will wait "through the weekend" to decide when he can come back and Johnson isn't sure when he'll come back. The team's playoff chances may depend on them coming back soon, so let's hope that medical science works its wonders on them FAST!

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