AFL Update: November 4, 2011

Is it possible that the hype about Bryce Harper may actually be understated? After yesterday’s 3-for-3 outing with two walks, a run scored, a home run, and three RBI, the recycling of the 2008-era Matt Wieters facts is certainly a possibility. Oh, wait – too late.

Now the question turns to whether or not Bryce Harper can make the 2012 Opening Day rosterfor Washington, not Syracuse. Well, it’s not really a question so much as sportswriters doing what they’re paid to do: write about what’s on their minds while simultaneously catering to their readers.

Bloggers do the same, even if they’re not paid, and so I’ll repeat what I usually write when folks get too excited about a prospect. Wait until the league gets a second crack at him. In this environment, that’s probably not going to happen. There are less a dozen games left on the slate and Harper will sit for some of them. So we’re looking at a winter of heightened expectations.

The more intelligent question: If this kind of performance isn’t unexpected, why should plans change? Those, if you’ll recall, were for Harper to master every level (well, except maybe for High-A, but I digress) before he makes it to The Show. For all his offensive prowess, folks also need to be reminded that Harper has only played outfield full-time for one (1) season.

I do think there are some tea leaves that can be read from his continuing appearances in left field (all 37 games in Harrisburg, for example). Could Harper spend the first two months of the 2012 season delaying his Super Two eligibility honing his defensive skills? Absolutely.

Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned about GM Mike Rizzo, it’s that whenever there is a scenario in which something can be plausibly denied, it will be. It has mystified me, by the way, why Rizzo gets the pass from the fans even if he shares that trait with the departed Stan Kasten.

P.S. Zach Walters also appeared in yesterday’s game, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored while playing first base in relief of injured Phillies prospect Darin Ruf, who was removed from the game after trying to beat out a groundout to short. Walters made an error but also made eight putouts. Scottsdale won the game, 10-6. Sorry to bury it so deep, but therein lies my ambivalence with young Mr. Harper.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

9 thoughts on “AFL Update: November 4, 2011”

    1. Perhaps the better question is “if,” not “when.” Pithy dodge aside, I don’t know. My guess is that they’re not going to trot him out there until they feel like whatever adjustment he needs to make has been made.

      Solis is scheduled to start tonight, and Purke last pitched a week ago yesterday. That’s time enough for at least two or three side sessions, so tonight is a possibility.

  1. Maybe I’m just cynical, but I’ve tended to view obfuscation (lying) as part of the job description for managers and even more so for GMs. Look at all the BS that flies around at draft time and the trade deadlines.

    It would be fun to put truth serum into the Winter Meetings and see what happened. It would make the movie “Liar, Liar” look understated. Can you imagine a manager saying “[x] player sucks, but we’re stuck with his contract so what can you do?” or a GM started a trade discussion with “look, we’re desperate.”

    So Rizzo’s close-to-the-vest obfuscating ways really don’t bother me that much. Especially if he maintains the upward arc of the franchise.

    1. Agree, but it’s sad how few people understood that Kasten had to be disingenuous for the very same reasons. He couldn’t very well say “Well, things are suck for the next couple of years because we need to hit rock-bottom before we can possibly undo the damage that was done to this franchise before we ever opened up shop in RFK.” Likewise, I’m very fearful that people will buy into Davey Johnson’s proclamation about the Nats being pennant contenders without considering that it’s the manager’s equivalent to “I’m in the best shape of my life.”

      1. Beautiful. You’re right, the “pennant contenders” line is the equivalent of INTSOML proclamations in spring. Well played, Dinem 🙂

      2. I respect Kasten in some ways, because he did what he had to do as the ‘used car salesman’ for the team. But going on the radio in Philly to sell seats at 1/2 Street was his Remagen / Waterloo.

  2. I would be very content to have Harper, regardless or in spite of ST perfomance, to start out at Harrisburg, move to Syracuse in mid-June, July 1st, and get a September call-up (never to leave the NATS again).

  3. I don’t know if this has been covered elsewhere, but Baseball America has posted a list of players who are minor league free agents.

    Players listed for the Nationals:
    RHP: Luis Atilano (AA), Jimmy Barthmaier (AA), Sam Brown (Lo A), J.D. Martin (AAA), Carlos Martinez (AA), Shairon Martis (AA), Garrett Mock (AAA)
    LHP: Oliver Perez (AA)
    C: Devin Ivany (AA), Carlos Maldonado (AAA), Brian Peacock (Hi A), Miguel Perez (AA)
    1B: Michael Aubrey (AAA)
    2B: Tug Hulett (AAA)
    3B: Matt Antonelli (AAA), Adam Fox (AA), Tim Pahuta (AA)
    SS: Seth Bynum (AAA), Josh R. Johnson (AA)
    OF: Gregor Blanco (AAA), Buck Coats (AA), Leonard Davis (AA), Jeff Frazier (AAA), Archie Gilbert (AA), Jonathan Tucker (AA), Jesus Valdez (AAA).

    I don’t see any names on there that I’d truly miss. Other than Matt Antonelli, of course 🙂

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