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Nats Turn Back On Ryan Church

[February 11th] -- Ryan Church had a very good 2005 season; had he not been injured, it might have even been a great season. He batted .287-9-42 with a .353 on base percent and a .466 slugging average in 268 at bats. Had Church not been injured, he would have hit 20 home runs and driven close to 90 runs. A lefty, Church actually hits left-handers better than righties, and his defense is solid. He struck out too much in 2005, but he only had 63 at-bats in the major leagues before last season, so his strikeout total will likely go down as his experience increases. At 27, Church seemed ready to become a fixture in the Nationals' outfield for the next decade.


Nationals' general manager Jim Bowden continues to try to trade Church. During the MLB winter meetings, he thought he had an agreement that would have sent Ryan Church, Jamie Carroll and a minor leaguer to the Diamondbacks for pitcher Javier Vasquez, but Arizona pulled out of the deal at the last minute.

Jim Bowden doesn't question Ryan Church's talent; he questions his heart. According to Bowden, he couldn't answer the "bell" on opening day because of a slight groin pull and had to be replaced by Terrmel Sledge. A run-in with an outfield wall in Pittsburgh and a Ramon Martinez fastball in Cincinnati forced him to the disabled list twice in 2005. Bowden, and manager Frank Robinson to an extent, believed that Church wasn't hurt that badly and should have played through the pain. Church disagrees, saying that he knows his body better than anyone else.

Ryan Church knows that the team wants Brandon Watson to start in the outfield in place of him. He realizes that if Sammy Sosa signs a Nationals' contract, he'll be the teams 4th outfielder or on another team, probably the latter. Yet, Church isn't upset. "It is what it is," Church said. "They are signing guys to create competition. There's nothing wrong with that. You always want some healthy competition in Spring Training."

If given the opportunity, Church could give the Nationals a .300-20-85 season with a .365 on base percent. But he likely won't be given that opportunity, because his boss thinks he isn't tough enough.

C'mon Jimbo, stop being so subjective. Ryan is the 3rd best outfielder the team has. Let him play.

Bowden wouldn't know talent if it hit him in the face. Church is three times the player that Watson is. Ever time I saw Watson bat last year, he struck out on three pitches.
Watson could be good, but Church was good. Why choose the potential over the actual? The only good reason I can come up with is the age difference (Watson is 25 this year - Ryan 28) but 25 isn't much of a "prospect" age either.

The toughness question is ridiculous. Wilkerson and Guillen both played hurt and were awful when they did so. You should only go out there if you are going to help the team on the field, not to prove something.
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