Back to the future


Last September it was shortstop Ian Desmond who made it to the Major Leagues, hitting .280 and making the good first impression that led to a solid rookie season in 2010. We all know, and so does Ian, that the errors have to be cut back considerably in 2011 for the Nats to have a “can’t wait to see ‘em together” left side of the infield that will prosper for years to come.

But, wait a minute! Will this September’s infield newcomer Danny Espinosa give Desmond a run for his job at short, or settle in at second base?

Danny has made an indelible first impression of his own with great hustle, a live and loud bat, plus great hands and arm wherever he plays up the middle.

For a ballclub in the Nats’ position, this is what September is all about; finding those gems in the minor leagues, getting them to the majors and letting them show what they can do.

There are differing views on whether baseball teams at this level should even be able to expand their rosters come September. Many baseball people disagree on whether the last month of the season should be played differently than the other five months, especially those clubs contending for postseason play.

Jim Riggleman shared an idea with me today that I think is brilliant regarding September. Go ahead and expand the rosters, he says, but every day name the 25 who will be eligible for that day or night’s game, and play with the same number of players you do during the season. It’s what hockey does every game and they make it work. I know it’s some more daily paperwork for Major League Baseball, but doesn’t this make things fair for contenders and non-contenders every day? I think so.

You could even add one spot and go to 26 in case of injury just before or during the game.

With Espinosa and Desmond looking solid for the future, plus arms like Jason Marquis, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler making comebacks, 2011 looks solid as another step toward being a contending team. Sure, the loss of Stephen Strasburg hurts, but there are other young men on the way to help the Nationals take that next step.

It should be a fun walk!