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12/20/07 Ronnie Belliard and Cristian Guzman, Guzman and Felipe Lopez, Belliard and Lopez?...

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     I called my brother Scout, Braves fan and Source For All Things Baseball and brought up my post from yesterday regarding Ronnie Belliard's role on the '08 Washington Nationals roster. I argued the Belliard's .290 AVG, 35 doubles, 9 HR's and 58 RBI's should guarantee his starting spot at second when the season begins...

     mlb.com's Bill Ladson wrote yesterday, in his article entitled, "Notes: Lopez looks to bounce back", that:

          "The Nationals' depth chart has Lopez(Felipe) as a backup
          second baseman and shortstop, but privately, the team
          believes he could rebound and be the leadoff hitter."

     The Nationals switched Felipe Lopez to second to start the '07 season to accomodate Cristian Guzman, who was returning from injury, and when Guzman was again injured, Belliard filled in admirably at second, while Lopez returned to short.

     None of the outfielders the Washington Nationals have acquired in the offseason seem well suited for the leadoff spot, so Nationals Manager Manny Acta will have to pick someone from the infield for the role.

     Ronnie Belliard has taken 1,263 at bats in the leadoff spot in his 10 MLB seasons, with 92 doubles, 10 triples, 25 HR's, 122 RBI's, 139 walks, and a .268 AVG in his career and a .342 OBP.  Cristian Guzman, 705 AB's in 8 seasons, 35 doubles, 24 triples, 10 HR's, 37 walks, and a .279 AVG with a .317 OBP at the top of the order. Felipe Lopez...7 seasons, 1,011 leadoff at bats, 44 doubles, 10 triples, 22 HR's and 84 RBI's, with 88 walks and a .308 OBP...

     "Ronnie Belliard has always had a hard time nailing down the starting jobs," Scout interjects, "The Cards chose to go with Aaron Miles after winning the World Series with Belliard and Miles splitting time..."(Belliard's '06 postseason #'s .240 AVG with 12 hits in 50 at bats, 1 double, 4 RBI's... In '07 Aaron Miles hit .290 with 16 doubles, 2 HR's and 32 RBI's for the Cardinals.)

     After Ronnie Belliard hit .211, with 13 doubles, 3 HR's and 28 RBI's in his fourth season with the Milwaukee Brewers, who had drafted Belliard in the 8th Round of the '94 Draft, the Brewers allowed Belliard to walk as a free agent to make room for Rickie Weeks...

      After a one-year stop in Colorado, where Belliard hit .270 with 48 doubles, 12 HR's and 50 RBI's, the Rockies released Belliard to make room for AARON MILES, acquired by the Rockies in a trade from the Chicago White Sox and Colorado's '03 Rule 5 Draft pick Luis A. Gonzalez.

     Belliard signed with Cleveland and hit .282 AVG with 48 doubles, 12 HR's and 70 RBI's in '04,  and .284 with 36 doubles, 12 HR's and 70 RBI's in '05, but the Indians traded Belliard to St. Louis during the '06 season, and Belliard helped the Cardinals win their World Series before being released again and signing on with the Washington Nationals.

      Can Belliard stake his claim on second this season? Will Felipe Lopez be on the '08 Opening Day roster, or will the oft-rumored trade scenarios prove true...Is Belliard, now 32, ready to be a bench player? Can Guzman last through a season? Belliard or Lopez at second?...Nationals' Manager Manny Acta is going to have to take a long look this Spring...

*LINKS AND LINKS AND...*

mlb.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Notes: Lopez looks to bounce back", at washington.nationals.mlb.com:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071219&content_id=2333243&vkey=ne ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was