I might have missed Friday’s press conference where the Nationals introduced Matt Williams as their new manager, but I didn’t miss the quotes where Williams discussed how he wants the Nats to be aggressive under his watch.
From the sound of things, Williams wants to put pressure on the opponent, be it on the basepaths, at the plate or in the field. The more that the Nationals can press the teams they’re playing, the more that they can force mistakes and gain an edge.
That’s the way Williams sees things, anyway.
“We’re going to try to take advantage of the situation that presents itself to us,” Williams said on Friday. “We’re going to try to ... If a guy’s slow to the plate, we’re going to run. We want to put guys in motion and hit-and-run. We want to do some things that are maybe outside the box in getting a guy in from third base. Certainly, that’s a process. But that’s what I think. You can’t score unless you touch the plate, so we got to go. And we got to defend that plate with everything we’ve got as well.”
Personally, I like that message. I like the idea that a team will get a few guys thrown out at the plate because they’re putting their foot on the proverbial gas pedal. I like aggression on the field, because you’re putting pressure on teams.
It sounds like Williams likes that, too.
Make them slow you down. Make them make the great play.
I also personally like the idea of bringing in a defensive-focused coach, as the Nationals did. Williams is bringing over Mark Weidemaier with him from Arizona to serve as a seventh coach responsible for defensive positioning based on advanced scouting reports, a job he handled for the Diamondbacks for three seasons.
The Nationals employed very few defensive shifts under Davey Johnson. We rarely ever saw three infielders on the right side of second base when a pull-happy left-handed hitter was at the plate. We didn’t see many dramatic overshifts based on a hitter’s tendencies to slap the ball down the line.
It seems like with Weidemaier around, the Nats will be doing more of that.
“He’s referred to as the seventh coach,” Rizzo said of Weidemaier. “He’ll be in uniform, around the team, in the dugout, hitting fungos and BP, in the dugout during the games and really be the guy who positions the defenders and to do other things. But his primary responsibility will be defensive alignments and taking all the advanced information from our advance scouts in the field and our two advance video scouts with the team.
“He’ll take that information and filter it and distribute it to the various coaches that need the information.”
On another note, Brian Goodwin went 1-for-5 with a caught-stealing in the Rising Stars Game last night, which was aired on MLB Network.
The 23-year-old Goodwin, whose birthday was also yesterday, has been playing well out in the Arizona Fall League, and was named to his second straight AFL All-Star game after hitting .304/.339/.411 with one home run, three doubles and two stolen bases in 13 games for the Mesa Solar Sox.
Baseball America voted Goodwin as the third-best prospect in the Nationals’ minor league system, and even though he didn’t put up monster numbers this season while playing for Double-A Harrisburg (.252/.355/.407 with 10 homers, 40 RBIs, 19 doubles, 11 triples and 19 stolen bases in 30 tries), it was just his second professional season.
Goodwin still has lots of raw ability, and those out in Arizona have seen that over the last few weeks.