Anthony Rendon Gets The Call To Washington

No, I Said The White PhoneFirst the straight news…

Washington Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the 15-Day DL today with a strained left hamstring, following an MRI taken this afternoon. Taking his place on the MLB is roster is Anthony Rendon, the team’s top-rated prospect and first-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Rice University.

Rendon had been hitting .292/.462/.500 with two home runs and seven RBI with AA Harrisburg. The 22-year-old Texan is expected to make his major-league debut on Sunday, playing third base and perhaps batting sixth or seventh against the New York Mets, a game that is currently not nationally televised.

Manager Davey Johnson told reporters that doctors said Zimmerman needs roughly 10 days of rest for the injury to heal, thus it’s possible that Zimmerman could be activated as early as May 3rd. GM Mike Rizzo said he expects Rendon to be sent back to the minors upon Zimmerman’s return from the DL, though cited the caveats of “keeping an open mind and letting the situation play out.”

Now, for the opinion…

Folks are excited about this. I get that. This is the team’s No. 1 guy, a talent that might not have gone #1 overall but probably should have, joining another phenom who made the same move almost a year ago.

And that’s what worries me.

People keep asking me when is Player X gonna get promoted, and I keep telling folks that it’s a new world order, that it’s a level a year until guys hit AA with the Rizzo FO.

Then Bryce Harper gets jumped from Low-A to AA in 2011, same for Brian Goodwin in 2012. So those are two exceptions, right? No biggie.

What happens if Rendon doesn’t have success early and often? What if he’s like Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. — who I saw more of than Rendon, for what it’s worth, but was no less convinced of his potential to make it to The Show — and struggles after an initial burst?

We’re told that Rendon will be sent back to further his development, that they don’t like to bring young guys up just to make them sit. Well, which is it?

If this is just a promotion to keep the team from being short-handed, why not just call up Will Rhymes or Carlos Rivero from AAA Syracuse and let them sit the bench while Chad Tracy and Steve Lombardozzi handle third base? They can’t be added to the 40-man roster or risk being lost on waivers?

In short, this doesn’t pass the sniff test — and given how the beat writers were lied to* by unnamed Nats officials when reports of Rendon being scratched from the Senators lineup, folks ought not to take what’s being said as gospel.* Before folks feel too sorry for them, being lied to is part of the job of being a reporter. It sucks, but it happens.

It’s okay to be excited. We’re supposed to be as fans. Even if this is too much, too soon. Rendon (and JBJ) is supposed to have the makeup to be able to endure the failure. But I question taking the risk, except as a PR move.

It pains me to write this, but this is something I’d expect from the previous GM.

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.

16 thoughts on “Anthony Rendon Gets The Call To Washington”

  1. I don’t see it as a PR move at all. I see it as the team thinking that Chad Tracy starting for 10 games is a horrible idea. Rendon may need more seasoning, but he is better right now at just about everything than Tracy or Lombardozzi.

  2. Dude, seems like you are being a little over critical here. While I think everyone was shocked to see Mr. Rendon’s named called to fill Zimmerman’s shoes, I think that there is a fairly straight forward answer here that you are glossing over: Anthony Rendon gives the big league club the best chance to win ballgames.

    I am not a GM, so I don’t know all the calculus involved in their thinking, but I can see some (just a few) of the reasons that ran through Rizzo’s mind.

    Think about the likely outcomes of calling up any of the given options. If you called up Rovero or Rhymes, they would likely sit on the bench and do nothing. They might get a start or two, but would not likely impact any games–they would be warm bodies. Chad Tracy or Lombo would play third, thus providing some useful but likely uninspiring at bats while simultaneously thinning the Nats bench. Who does Davey want to call on to hit in the 8th inning with a runner in scoring position with two out? Chad Tracy or Wil Rhymes?

    There is a chance that Rendon comes up and takes it on the chin like many other great prospects have. But there is also a good chance that he gets on base and collects a few extra base hits, all while playing excellent defense. To me it seems like Rizzo is gambling that this will be the case. What is the worst case scenario? Rendon doesn’t hit? That might also be a blessing in disguise, because then everyone clamoring for his promotion will lose a lot of their ammo (for the time being).

    Another factor is likely that Rendon is already on the 40-man roster. Obviously, the Nats have space to call up a Walters, Rovero, Knoberous, or Ryhmes, but then would have to pass those players through waivers if they wanted to reduce their salary again when they send them back down.

    While I can’t say that I would have done the same thing if I were Rizzo, I can’t say that I don’t understand what he is doing here. People inside and outside the organization know how good this kid can be, so maybe that provides a shot in the arm. If nothing else, this is a ten-day low-pressure test run on a top guy in the organization.

    I’m interested to see how this plays out.

    –Nats Fan in Vietnam

    1. “Dude, seems like you are being a little over critical here.”

      Well, somebody has to. You make a lot of good points, except for this being “low pressure.” It’s one (1) game against the Mets, then Rendon will join the team for series against the Cardinals, Reds, and Braves. I’m not glossing over Rendon giving the team the best chance to win, I’m questioning whether it’s being done at the expense of prolonging his time in the minors, and calling them out for being a slutty hermaphrodite and trying to have it both ways.

      And a reminder: Carlos Rivero has already passed through waivers in the past four weeks.

  3. “What happens if Rendon doesn’t have success early and often?”

    They send him back down. Big deal.

    Espinoza did succeed early, and they kept him in the bigs. He has been on a steady slide down to mediocrity until he is now the team’s semi-permanent representative on the All-Mendoza team.

    Rendon, like Harper, is a special talent. He doesn’t need another year in the minors any more than Harper did.

  4. The team needs an energy boost . Something beyond 5 hours and without the after effect drop.
    The good thing about Anthony is that he is Rice pedigree and not Stanford so the failure index is way down. Lol!

  5. A nice response to the call up was Senators scoring 7 runs against Altoona with a small ball line up.
    Plenty if utility guys pitching on now on the farm with injuries and promotions.
    Time for Destin Hood to show his stuff in Sens 3 hole!
    Sunny Sunday with Ray on Pot bump!

  6. I see Davey’s hand in this more than Rizzo’s. I recognize that Rizzo is the boss, but when it comes to Davey it seems like he defers to his opinion. Either that or Zim will be out for longer than they are suggesting…

  7. I see that being addressed as dude bugs you as much as it would me, Luke. Well, maybe not quite as much as it would me.
    Aside from that though, if my memory serves me correctly (which might be a stretch for a 72 year old) you had somewhat the same stance about Harper last year. But don’t the Nats lose a year of Rendon by making this move or have they waited long enough.

    1. Not necessarily (on both dude and arbitration). I think what bothers me about this is the duplicity and speciousness of it all. Looking through the comments of the Harper call-up post, Richard nailed it: “But can we drop the ‘dominate at every level” shtik? Why not simply ‘when I and my team think it’s time to bring a kid up based on stats and our gut feeling, then it’s time?'”

  8. I think the logistics behind the move are pretty straightforward: We lost our 3B to injury and Rendon is literally the only guy on the 40-man roster who can take his place like-for-like. I don’t expect him to sit; I expect he’ll play 10 straight games at 3B (unless they have a game against an ace right hander, when Tracy/Lombardozzi would make more sense). But this moves sounds like a Rizzo move; he probably saw the mobility limited Tracy lumbering around at third and said to himself, “I want a better defender there.”

    Rivero just got DFA’d off the 40-man, which should tell us as much as we need to know about him. When even a team like Houston or Miami passes on a free player, you come to the conclusion that he’s not MLB worthy. Meanwhile Rhymes (while hitting well in AAA) would also require an addition to the 40-man roster. Needlessly in my opinion; Rendon proved in Spring Training he could handle his own and is a better option than either player.

  9. Again, good points. But it does beg the question: if Chad Tracy is only capable of pinch-hitting and playing first, how much longer can the Nats afford to carry a DH without having one in the lineup?

  10. Hmmm, surprisingly enough I like the analysis and the take and appreciate it very much … its why I read this blog. Excellent.

    I agree. But I don’t think Rizzo is into PR. What I think he “is into” is a managing partner owner (let’s just call him the owner) who is 87 now. He wants to get his owner a world series. Both he and Davey have seen enough of Rendon to believe that he can provide the kind of spark needed to get what turned out to be a VERY complacent team off of their fannies. They needed to stop ‘just going through the motions’.

    Now, you just might see Adam LaRoche hitting like there’s no tomorrow because he must see what Luke and all of us see … he knows he might be benched or traded. The same is true to a lesser extent for Danny Espinosa.

    And its not like its lost on Jayson Werth (who should be hitting his contract’s worth right?) or Denard Span for that matter who have Tyler Moore right behind him.

    The question I would ask if Anthony Rendon should play every day why not Tyler Moore?

  11. And Todd Boss’ contention about how, as Luke often observed, that this move doesn’t require any change to the 40-man roster is a very good one. What is that Luke likes to say? Rizzo makes changes to the 40-man roster as frequently as glacier growth?

  12. if Chad Tracy is only capable of pinch-hitting and playing first, how much longer can the Nats afford to carry a DH without having one in the lineup?

    I guess they would have to have a left-handed bat capable of being a pinch hitter and spot starter at those positions? Matt Skole seems like a good choice but he won’t be back for months. Marerro is doing well and Davey liked him but he is right-handed like Tyler Moore? Is Rhymes a possibility? He must might be better?

    And then there’s Dan Haren. Danny Rosenbaum is again starting and pitching lights out today. Nate Karns is doing well in AAA. How long will they keep trotting Haren out there?

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