I'm Going With "The Hammer", "Super Dukes" and "Lasto" Left To Right...
Taking for granted that someone will offer Adam Dunn a deal that will pay him more than Washington is willing to, and assuming that he would play first even if he was signed by DC since Josh Willingham was acquired in a trade and told he'd play left, where I really doubt Manny Ramirez will be playing this season, since he is too old (sorry), too old for DC, and too expensive, looking for more than a two-year deal...etc....Who would you pencil into the Nationals' outfield if the season were to start today?
The Washington Nationals' Official site has Josh Willingham in left, Lastings Milledge in center and Elijah Dukes atop a list of prospective right fielders that includes Austin Kearns and Justin Maxwell, (and I think the fact that they're listed alphabetically is just random luck, meaning I thinks Dukes is supposed to be starting in right in the Depth Chart's opinion, because no other position is organized by last name, but who knows whose opinion this chart is based upon?...)...Dukes is also listed second in center above Willie Harris and Roger Bernadina, (who will most likely start the season at Triple-A with at least 4 or 5 players ahead of him on the OF depth chart...at least by my own estimation...)
In a mid-November poll, the readers of federalbaseball.com voted decisively (with 64 of 155, or 41% of the votes cast) in favor of the Willingham, Dukes, Milledge outfield, left to right, but maybe their opinion was swayed by an article, published in late September, by Washington Post writer Chico Harlan, entitled, "Milledge may be placed in corner for '09", where Lastings Milledge was quoted in the first paragraph asking a question , "Do I play shallow, deep?", (that still has me wondering here in December)...? Has your opinion changed? Is Milledge back in right where he played the majority of the time with New York...?
-- Josh Willingham played just 102 games last season for the Florida Marlins, lowering his career average a bit with a .254 '08 campain in which he collected 21 doubles, 5 triples, 15 HR's and 51 RBI's after seasons of 32/4/21/98 in '07 and 28/2/26/74 in '06, though he met most of his career averages in terms of OBP, SLG and OPS, where he's now been statistically proven to finish around, .361/.472/.833 per 162.
-- Elijah Dukes played 38 error-free games in center for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in '07, assisting on 3 outs, with one double play, but Dukes played only 1 game in center last season for DC, playing mostly right, committing 5 errors, and assisting on 9 outs in 69 games over which he hit .264 with 16 doubles, 14 HR's, 44 RBI's, a .386 OBP, .498 SLG, and .877 OPS.
-- Lastings Milledge played 24 of his first 50 MLB games with the Mets in right field, making only 1 error as a 21-year-old rookie in the Big Apple in '06, (or at least outside it, in Flushing, Queens, where Shea Stadium is being slowly dismantled to make room for Citi Field which opens this April and which Washington will visit in the last week of the month...), and Milledge only played 14 games in center in '07 in place of an injured Carlos Beltran, while spending 28 games in right and 11 in left, and committing just 2 errors in 52 games...but Washington acquired Milledge to play center, and they put him out there, uncomfortable as he seemed at times, for 134 games in which he committed 5 errors, while hitting .268 with 24 doubles, 2 triples, 14 HR's and 61 RBI's, a .330 OBP, .402 SLG, and .731 OPS.
Is that your '09 Washington Nationals' outfield? The Hammer, Super Dukes and Lasto? What should DC do with Austin Kearns? Do any of the young players, Justin Maxwell or Roger Bernadina, or Kory Casto (he can play LF/RF?) have a shot in the outfield? Don't forget Wily Mo Pena. Upstart Leonard Davis? Willie "WILLIE HARRIS WANTS TO PLAY" Harris? That's all the outfielders currently on the Nationals' 40-Man Roster? Give me your best Manny Acta and list your starting outfield in the Comments section...
Two Opinions on The Nationals' New Starter...
Sporting News' writer Ryan Fagan has an article at Yahoo! Sports.com entitled, "Little deals can make a big difference", where Mr. Fagan examines the four MLB starters who have signed 1-year deals, including the Washington Nationals' newest starter Daniel Cabrera, with Mr. Fagan writing that, "The Orioles are as pitching-poor in 2009 as any club...and they just cut Cabrera loose. That should tell you something," though Mr. Fagan does come down on the side of it being a good risk/reward situation for DC's Nationals.
Dave from the Nationals New Network checked in with a FANPOST entitled, "Nats announce Cabrera deal", which linked to his article entitled, (with the federalbaseball.com friendly title), "Nationals Officially Announce Cabrera Deal", where he takes a close look at Cabrera's #'s and concludes that he's on the decline, writing, (with a hint of sarcasm):
"It's the worst of both worlds. He's a lousy pitcher getting worse that takes the ball every fifth day (unless it's injury accounting for the drop in velocity and Ks). Oh goody."
What? I didn't promise a balanced discussion...The Sporting News' writer kinda liked the Cabrera signing...for DC at least...you try to find someone who's enthusiastic about it...
DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE UPDATE..
Prospective DC second baseman Anderson Hernandez made the MiLB.com front page after going 3 for 5 with a triple and 3 RBI's Tuesday night as the Tigres del Licey defeated the Azucareros del Este 10-8 in spite of a late rally which saw the Azucareros score 5 runs in the final two innings. (Still no Ronnie Belliard in the Licey lineup after a HBP this weekend). Hernandez now has 5 RBI's in 4 DWL Playoff games, in which the Tigres are now 3-1.