I have mixed emotions about seeing call-ups in September. First of all, there are too many, and I hope Joe Torre, baseball’s executive vice president of baseball operations, is sincere and does something about the number. In my opinion, 30 at the most would be fine; five new guys, maybe two in the pen and three on the bench. But it messes up the games in September when you have eight to nine extra men on the bench and eight to nine guys in the bullpen. That’s spring football and spring training baseball, not regular season Major League Baseball.
As I write this, not all of the call-ups by the Nationals have been announced so I’m not going to comment. What if I say a guy should be/will be called up, and someone tells him and then he doesn’t get the call? That’s not good for him or me, as these are people’s jobs we’re talking about. Think how Danny Espinosa feels as several writers have written for weeks that he’s not getting the call.
I think seeing someone for a limited number of at-bats in September is overrated, as these rosters result in weird matchups, especially if non-contending teams play each other. Having said that, the call-up can be a reward for a good Double-A or Triple-A season and I’m all for that - great motivation that filters through the organization.
Most the guys coming up may be limited role players next year, as the Nats have several big names on multi-year deals and jobs are limited. Who plays in September and who sits? Tough calls for manager Davey Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo.
Obviously, Tyler Moore and Anthony Rendon are more than role players for next year, especially Rendon. But I think it’s pretty harsh to tell Adam LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman they’re sitting most of the last month for kids to play. I may be wrong, but this whole “Zimmerman to first base” thing I keep hearing is way premature. Many things have to change and fall into place for that to happen.
There are exceptions to the question about whether a player can prove himself in September. Zimmerman, a few months out of the University of Virginia in 2005, showed he could handle big league pitching, hitting .397 (23-for-58) with no homers and six RBIs in 20 games. And Ian Desmond hit .280 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 84 at-bats over 21 games in September 2009. They were ready.
Losing three out of four to the Mets and Phillies has been a dagger these last several days. The Nats still have a chance, but if they’re six to seven games behind Cincinnati when the calendar gets down below 20 games left, that will be awfully tough.