Offseason Q&A–Adam Kilgore
Spring Training is underway down in Viera, Florida on the ol’ Space Coast. Look for updates from Nats camp as Kevin and I come to you live from camp. We’ll have all sorts of goodies. Maybe even candy.
Since we are not there yet, we figured we’d give you a primer from one of the best sources for Nats news, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (AdamKilgoreWP on Twitter).
Jason Benetti: What do you think the chances are that Bryce Harper starts the season in Washington?
Adam Kilgore: I don’t think they’re that good. I think there’s some reasons why you’d want him on the team. His talent. He’s a really talented guy. He gives them a powerful bat in the middle of the lineup. The reasons against are stronger. Despite the fact that he is so talented, he’s never played a full professional season because he got hurt last year. Also, he doesn’t have 600 at-bats as a professional. That’s if you count spring training and the fall league. He doesn’t have that much experience and he’s never played above Double-A. We all know that Mike Rizzo is really adamant about developing players fully before they get to the majors. He believes correctly that the way to make a mistake is to leave a player in the minors too long as opposed to bringing him up too soon and having to send him back to the minors. That can be a catastrophe with a player’s confidence. He would have to have to do everything pitch perfect this spring and probably then some to make the team.
On the business side of things, where if you just wait a month, you’re basically ensuring another year that he’ll play for the Nationals before free agency. You could be sacrificing one year at 25 for one month.
JB: What positions are up for grabs in spring training?:
AK: There’s three spots. One would be the utility infield spot between Steve Lombardozzi and Andres Blanco. For Lombardozzi, if he makes it, the challenge would be getting him enough at-bats. You don’t want to curb his development. They want to take advantage of what he brings, they don’t want to make it completely difficult with Zimmermann, Espinosa and Desmond.
Number two would be the last bench spot, Blanco, Lombardozzi, Jason Michaels, Brett Carroll, the non-roster guys. They probably want that to be a right-handed bat.
The last spot would be the last guy on the pitching staff, probably the last guy on the pitching staff which, if healthy, probably has to be Wang because he has no options left. Detwiler no options. Lannan does have an option.
One pitcher, two bench players and that’s pretty much it. In years past, they didn’t even know if they had five starting pitchers and that’s a sign of a team that’s going nowhere. That that’s settled in mind-February is a sign of how far they’ve come.
JB: So then what are you focused on this spring?
AK: Good question. I’d like to see how the team comes together. It’s kinda not been talked about too much, but how Desmond and Espinosa progress. That’s gonna determine a lot of how good this team is going to be if they can take the next step.
Morse playing in left. Going back to the outfield. How does he handle year two? Is he more comfortable?
I’m also really excited to see what Edwin Jackson can develop like. See if he can make the changes the Nationals want in his delivery. They think he might be 1) tipping pitches and 2) showing the ball too early to hitters from the wind.
JB: Davey Johnson: what does he do differently in year two?
AK: No, I think he’s going to be a lot different. He wasn’t really comfortable with the team based on the way Jim Riggleman managed the bench and the bullpen. Maybe less defense on the bench, more hitting. He wants to feel really comfortable as far as innings go in the bullpen. Last year they basically had no long men. He wants to have two this year (Gorzelanny and Detwiler). They might have the swagger he brings to the team. Even though Davey comes off as a folksy 70-year-old guy, he’s actually really cocky. I think that’s going to rub off on the Nationals in a good way. He wants guys who aren’t afraid to challenge other teams.
JB: Finally, how much do you think the Nationals harmed their farm system in the Gio Gonzalez trade?
AK: Ultimately they feel like they gave away three guys you could find. Peacock is probably a third or fourth starter. Milone is probably a fourth or fifth starter. It’s not like they gave up talents they won’t be able to find elsewhere every year in the free agent market or in a trade. Derek Norris, I would say the same thing, they like him but this guy has not hit much higher than .200 his past couple of years despite some really awesome on-base percentages.
The one guy, if you gave them a lie detector test, said who are you most worried about in that trade, they’d say no doubt A.J. Cole. He has the highest ceiling. 6’5″, they paid him two million dollars to sign, they drafted him in the fourth round. He has a huge upside.
Coming up Thursday, Kevin does Annie Hall. Angst and wit.