clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Washington Nationals: Why Not Ian Desmond?

In a late October edition of the Notes from NatsTown blog's "30 Players in 30 Days" series, Washington Nationals' shortstop Ian Desmond's 2009 season is examined and the author concludes that, "As of now,":

"Desmond looks to be the shortstop of the future for the Nationals, potentially moving Cristian Guzman over to second base. In preparation for this, Desmond will spend time in the Dominican Republic this winter playing for the Licey Tigers with teammate Elijah Dukes."

Desmond, who'd hit for a .256 AVG with a .321 OBP, a .408 SLG, 15 doubles, 12 HR's and 42 RBI's in two stops (RK, AA) in the Nationals' system in 2008, followed up on that somewhat disappointing season in which he'd committed 23 errors and put up a .950 FLD%, with a 2009 campaign that saw the 24-year-old shortstop hit for a combined .330 AVG at Double AA Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse where he posted a .401 OBP with a .477 SLG, 24 doubles, 3 triples, 7 HR's and 32 RBI's in 97 games before earning the opportunity to make his MLB debut five years after the Montreal Expos made the then-18-year-old infielder the 84th pick in the 3rd Round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. As the author at the NatsTown blog points out though, Desmond's fielding did not improve along with his offensive output:

"While [Desmond] has a strong throwing arm, he has cast some doubts due to his recklessness, collecting 28 errors in the Minors and six in the Majors. However, he is a good athlete and has great range in the field."

After hitting .280 with 7 doubles, 2 triples, 4 HR's, 12 RBI's, a .318 OBP and a .561 SLG in 21 games with Washington, Desmond struggled in his stint with the Tigres del Licey, committing 3 errors and hitting just .213 with a .231 OBP in 17 games and 61 AB's with the Tigres, in which he hit 2 doubles, 1 triple and 1 HR, while walking just twice and striking out 17 times, which would seem to explain the presence's Bill Ladson reported on, in an article entitled, "Desmond ready to take over at shortstop", of, "One front office person," who is said to be of the opinion that, "...Desmond needs a half season in the Minors before making another appearance at Nationals Park. His belief is that the 24-year-old needs to improve his defense at shortstop." 

When asked by a fan why the Nationals don't just go with Desmond as their shortstop as opposed to signing a free agent, Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell responded, in an article transcribed by Washington Post writer Alexa Steele entitled, "Chat Excerpt: Boswell on the Nationals", that it was, "a tough call":

"Desmond hit poorly in winter ball. In the minors he made a tone of errors. But no worse than Jeter, Tedjada and several others in the minors. But still, when throws it away, we duck in the press box, and that's six levels up. 

"Rizzo really likes Ian's range and his ability to make the spectacular play. 'He'll make 20 errors, but he'll also make a lot of range plays (that Guzman probably wouldn't).' But would he make 40 errors? He made 34 errors in 118 games at all levels last year. That's 47 in 162 games.'"

The Nationals may or may not be willing to give free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson a two-year deal, but in light of developments with Desmond it might make sense to have the shortstop of the future start the season in Syracuse, while Cristian Guzman, who's in the last year of a two-year extension, plays short instead of switching over and either Hudson or the other infielder Washington's reportedly looking at, Adam Kennedy, plays second alongside Guzman and then Desmond once Guzman's gone and before the next shortstop of the future Danny Espinosa pushes Desmond over to second...