With a lot on our plate heading into the season opener, I asked the estimable Doghouse to answer a few questions from Amazin Avenue, the SB Nation's New York Mets site for a series preview Q&A. I was actually sitting across a table from him as he gleefully snarked back at our sister site. What follows are two questions and two answers from said conversation and a link below that takes you to the rest of the Q&A. Enjoy. Is it 4:05 yet?
Amazin' Avenue (AA): Denard Span, Jayson Werth, and Anthony Rendon will miss this opening series due to injury. Who replaces each player and what sort of impact will their absences have on the Nats?
Federal Baseball (FBB): Young phenom Michael Taylor looks ready to spell Span in CF--you know, he hit TWO HRs off of Verlander in a Spring Training game-- Taylor has plus defense, speed, and AA-dominant hitting. Small-sample-size Spring stats have him at a 1000+ OPS, but we'll have cross our fingers on that 7-1 K:BB ratio.
Is major-league pitching that much different than the minors? Taylor will be fun to watch, and Span should probably try to get better quickly if he knows what's good for him. As per Werth's own assessment, he only needs 5 ABs to get back into MLB-ready hitting form, so I figure to see him on Opening Day, since he's already played in a few minor league games.
Rendon, however, is an absence that's less subject to glib dismissal. He's basically the sleeper Harper, so every game he's not in the lineup is costing us wins. We'll likely see Yunel Escobar at 3B, with Danny Espinosa at 2B, which is only probably a wash defensively, but a big drop off in terms of offense. We will be lighting candles every game that Rendon doesn't start.
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AA: Mets killer Adam LaRoche is thankfully gone and the Nats have shifted Ryan Zimmerman over to first base. How has Zimmerman looked over there and do you think he'll adequately replace LaRoche? Related, how has Yunel Escobar looked at 2nd so far?
FBB: Who? Just be thankful we didn't dig up Chipper Jones' corpse and stick it at first base this season. Zimmerman will likely turn out to be just about the same as ALR. He hasn't played the other corner before, but his soft hands and quick reflexes will probably translate into plus 1B defense that's maybe a little better than LaRoche. Zimm isn't as big a bopper as you'd like over there, but he will probably provide almost as much offensive production. Of course, he probably won't provide as many venison steaks for team cookouts, so that's a definite loss.
As far as Escobar, it's going to be a few games until we actually see him at 2B--as per the Rendon discussion above, Escobar will likely be the starting 3B. I think he has nearly 20 games of experience at the position from 7 years ago, so...