CHURCH IS DEMOTED, BYRD IS DEPRESSED, WATSON IS DE' STARTER. HUH?
Byrd, obtained for Endy Chavez last spring, out performed Brandon Watson in virtually every measurable statistic this spring, yet heard Frank Robinson tell the press yesterday that he'd be using Watson as an every-day player, hitting regularly against lefties. That leaves Byrd to cull only the late-inning defensive replacements, because he's never going to see a pinch-hit at bat, not with Matt LeCroy on the team.
Both Church and Byrd are stunned by the team's decision. Church has done something the Watson hasn't; succeed as an every-day major leaguer. Marlon Byrd had an outstanding rookie year with Philadelphia, and has recently found something in his bat that Brandon Watson doesn't have; power. Ryan Church was on his way to a 23 homer season before being injured last summer. Jim Bowden has repeatedly said that since working with Mitchell Page in New Orleans last summer, Marlon Byrd has become a "25 homer a year guy." So, let me see if I got this right. The Nationals have essentially benched 50+ homers this year in favor of a guy who has four career minor league homers in 2400+ at bats. Yet, when you ask either Frank or Jim what the team needs most, the answer is always the same, "more power!"
Well, be not afraid, my fellow Natheads. Just as a body rids itself of unwanted foreign "bodies," so too will major league pitching rid teams of incapable hitters. If we are right about Watson (and we are), we'll see a change in the outfield picture sometime in early-to-mid May. Ryan Church will be back, Marlon Byrd will be in the rotation, and all will be right with the the world.
Well, not "right" with the world. Jim Bowden will still be in Washington. Let's call it "better" with the world for the moment...
Notwithstanding all the baseball analysis, I strongly suspect that the R. Church move was not motivated by his on-field performance, but other factors, as has been mentioned elsewhere. The majority of the lineups are known before Spring Training even begins so enjoy them in camp while you can, but you can pretty much guess who's going north.
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