Desperate times call for desperate measures, and there are few measures more desperate than playing Paul Lo Duca at third base and in the outfield. But that’s exactly what the Washington Nationals plan to do. Lo Duca went on the DL for 36 games and, in his absense, Jesus Flores has been hot. So now the Nationals are looking for new ways to get the 36-year-old catcher in the game.
The Nats could use Lo Duca to spell Aaron Boone at third. Boone is filling in for Ryan Zimmerman (and his sub-.300 OBP). Zimmerman is out with a tear in his left shoulder and may require surgery. The Nats could use Lo Duca at first, where Dmitri Young has diabetes and Nick Johnson is still out with a wrist injury. They could use him in the outfield where neither Lastings Milledge, Elija Dukes or Willy Mo Pena have distinguished themselves (though Milledge has been hot lately).
But regarless of where they play Lo Duca, the Nats will likely still find themselves short on offense. They have the fewest runs scored in the majors. They are getting below average production from every position on the diamond except shortstop. And the shortstop, Christian Guzman, is a free agent after this season and will likely not return.
Then there’s the team’s pitching, which isn’t as bad as the offense, but won’t be confused with the 1995 Braves anytime soon. John Lannan has been decent this season, posting a 3.36 ERA, and at 24 he represents a young arm with some upside. Jason Bergmann had a stretch of three games where he didn’t give up a run, but his era on the season is 5.48. It would take a real optimist to look at this rotation and see reason for hope.
So what do the Washington Nationals need? Patience. But not patience at the plate, like Sarah is advocating for the Yankees. No, the Nats need the kind of patience a mother has for her son, or a fed chief has with a struggling economy. Teams don’t go from laughing stocks to winners overnight. And Washington won’t be an exception.
Washington should shop closer Chad Cordero as soon as he establishes that he’s healthy. And they should shop Guzman, who could help a team like the Dodgers now that Rafael Furcal is out until July and is facing the prospect of season ending back surgery.
But mostly, Washington should focus on coming up with some awesome promotions. Because I don’t think fans are going to pay to see this team play baseball anytime soon.