Back in early September, long before yesterday's announcement of Jim Riggleman's promotion to full-time status on the bench in Washington, the Nationals' then-interim manager told Washington Post writer Chico Harlan, in an article entitled, "Seven Things To Know About the SS/2B situation", that the decision on whether or not Cristian Guzman would switch over to second in twenty-ten wasn't Guzman's:
"'As far as him being open to it,' Riggleman said, 'that's really not even a factor. We'll make a call on that the player doesn't make the call on that... It's a pretty natural thing. A lot of times we think, 'Oh, heaven forbid, we don't want to ruffle any feathers with a ballplayer.'"
Yep, that's the new manager, an old-timey feather ruffler...(ed. note - "Hey Frank didn't coddle and I always liked him..."). DC GM Mike Rizzo was quoted in the same article stating that though Guzman was originally, "...taken by surprise [by the suggested position change]", but after Mr. Rizzo recited what he referred to as a "laundry list" of players who had successfully switched from short to second, "...it kind of sunk in, and made some sense," to Guzman.
Of course, as late in the season as September 28th, MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in a blog post tellingly entitled, "Guzman not sure he will play second base", wrote that the Nationals' soon-to-be 32-year-old infielder had, "...talked to (his) agent Stanley King, about the situation, but will not talk about his plans until after the season." In 135 games, all played at short, Guzman hit .284 in '09 with a .306 OBP (25 walks? the first of which didn't come until May 18th...aka game #38), a .390 SLG, and a .696 OPS, 24 doubles, 7 triples, 6 HR's, 52 RBI's, and a (-2.6) UZR/150 rating (ed. note - "...which is actually an improvement over the two previous season's in defiance of what everyone sees...or were we all complaining about Guzman's defense back then too...probably...right?").
But as Mr. Riggleman made clear again today, the decision is not Guzman's...MLB.com's Bill Ladson followed up on the position-switch-story today, in an article entitled, "Riggleman: Guzman a second baseman", where he quoted the now-permanent field manager saying that the Nationals' brass had already made a decision:
"We were talking to our staff -- [general manager] Mike Rizzo and everybody -- and we all came to the conclusion that [Guzman's] future is going to be at second base. If a person on the ballclub doesn't allow us to do that, then put him at short."
The "person on the ballclub" that would allow the Nationals to move Guzman to second, is obviously Ian Desmond, who's currently plying his trade in the Dominican League with the Tigres del Licey, but not everyone is convinced Desmond's ready for the Majors right now, with even Mr. Riggleman telling MLB.com's Mr. Ladson, "'I don't if Desmond will be the shortstop...but as I stand here right now, I would be happy with it, because I know what kind of effort I'm going to get." FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, however, are reporting that the Nationals aren't taking for granted that Desmond will be ready, writing in an article Thursday entitled, "Thurday's latest news and notes", that the Nationals, according to "major league sources", "...are interested in two slick-fielding free agent shortstops,":
Who's going to be the Nationals' starting shortstop on Opening Day? The in-house candidate, Ian Desmond? Alex Gonzalez? Danny Espinosa?(No, not yet!), Adam Everett? Or someone else from this list, which MLBTradeRumors.com has compiled? What do the two players the FOXSports.com writers mentioned have in common? Neither qualified for Type A or B free agent status, so they wouldn't cost DC any draft picks...? Orlando Cabrera?. Type A, with a caveat...(ed. note - "According to a Rotowire.com note on Yahoosports.com,"...(Cabrera's) current contract doesn't allow the Twins to offer him arbitration. As a result, his Type A status shouldn’t be an issue this offseason because no team will have to give up a draft pick to sign him.") Orlando Hudson? Type A...and no one on the MLBTraderumors' list is under 30-years-old...How does that fit in with a rebuilding (still) ballclub? Is Rizzo going to have to deal for an infielder?