Hey, it's not my idea!
We Natospherians say some crazy crunk about young Brendan; why, we might love the guy as much as the GM hates him. But, with Professor Bacon as my witness, I can't recall anyone ever dreaming Harris can handle an outfield corner position. Yet, that is the precisely what Paul Swydan of Baseball Prospectus recommends today---that a 25 year-old 'tweener second/third baseman who slugged .417 in the Pacific Coast League this past season should be manning left field for a major league club.
How on earth did Swydan come to make that recommendation?
Darned if I know, but the central proposition of his article (or the part that dealt with the Nats, at least) was pretty sound, in my estimation: Marlon Anderson, who signed a two-year deal to serve as a pinch-hitter extraordinaire, does not represent Jim Bowden's shrewdist move this offseason and potentially limits the Nats' roster flexibility. Swydan strikes me as a competent analyst, and his look at the Nats' bench options is valuable for its broad strokes of analysis. However, the article also reveals a particular weakness I have perceived in Baseball Prospectus' team-by-team analyses: the writers apparently read the work of the teams' beat writers only minimally, if at all, prior to submission.
Perhaps I should not generalize. I suppose I can speak fairly only of BP's coverage of the Nats, but this article---as fine as the analysis was on a more detached level---serves as an object lesson. Among other things, it:
- provides a mainly intellectual exercise of creating a regular position for Harris, when indications are he's a long-shot to make the team and will perhaps be dealt;
- assumes Brad Wilkerson will be the centerfielder even though Wilkerson is on record as preferring left field and clearly tired of taking one for the team by playing center;
- assumes the arbitration-eligible Wilkerson will even be a Nat next season, even though the team has apparently soured on him and it is not a sure thing his services will be retained;
- makes no mention of the not-so-hushed rumors that Bodes is hot for Juan Encarnacion to play fill an outfield position and that Encarnacion considers Bodes & Co. "among the leaders" for his services;
- mentions that it's "safe to say" Byrd will remain with the team, even though that is no certainty;
- states that Brian Schneider "could probably use a platoon partner," apparently not noting that Frank Robinson strictly platooned Schneider for much of the second half of the '05 season; and,
- appears to portray Ryan Church as an odd man out, even though Church, while an injury concern, is the one guy out of the Wilkerson/Sledge/Church lefty outfielder glut almost assured of staying with the team.
But I seek not to nitpick. Instead, I surmise there's a reason why a writer would even entertain ten minutes of his time noodling the idea of Brendan Harris being given any significant shot in this organization, much less in left field. And, not to be harsh about it, I offer the reason is that the writer---while writing with the best of intentions---does not know much about the team.