The Washington Nationals‘ new manager Matt Williams along with his boss, President of Baseball Operations GM Mike Rizzo, have a plan. They are building a team that has a strong bench so that the team’s everyday stars will get days off. That way when the drive for the playoffs comes around their stars will be fresh.
Everyone knows the outfield of Bryce Harper in left, Denard Span in center and Jayson Werth in right is set in stone. But with that said the presence of Scott Hairston and the addition of Nate McLouth means days off for the big three without losing quality in the outfield.
Once again the infield is set with Ryan Zimmerman at third base, Ian Desmond at short, Anthony Rendon at second and Adam La Roche at first seeing most of the action, barring injury of course. The Nationals will spell those guys from time to time this season with Danny Espinosa, whose defense has never been a question, and expect to see him at both short and at second this season. First base will become Tyler Moore‘s spot replacing La Roche when need be, and at the moment Rendon, whose natural position is third, will spell Zimmerman.
The Williams/Rizzo plan is to keep their stars fresh while making sure that their bench gets enough game action to keep them sharp. It also will help them see enough live pitching so that when they do pinch hit there won’t be much rust on the bats.
Wilson Ramos, the team’s starting catcher, is for the moment without a veteran backup. But the Nationals are kicking the tires on John Buck and looking at other options to make sure there is depth at that position as well.
As a former star player himself, Williams knows the toll a 162 game season can take on a player. His plan is for the starters to each get between 15 to 20 days off over the course of the long season. The key is to make sure when each player gets that day off and the balance of keeping all 25 men on the roster sharp. That is indeed why the manager gets the big bucks, but the Williams/Rizzo plan is a winning one. The hope is that is will get Washington another division title and allow the team to go deep into the playoffs.
Rant Sports columnist James Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award winning producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Wordmandc and add him to your Google circles.