VIERA, Fla. - Of all the roster moves the Nationals made today, the one that seems to be drawing the most ire from all of you in the Natosphere (are we still using that term?) is the team’s decision to option Roger Bernadina to Triple-A Syracuse. I understand some of the fuss over that decision - manager Jim Riggleman himself said the Nationals still think Bernadina can get 450 to 550 at-bats a year in the majors, and he could be a serviceable fourth outfielder. But there are a few facts to keep in mind here:
* First, Bernadina got a shot last year, playing 134 games in the majors, and that came after he was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to start the year. He was back on April 14, and stayed in the majors the rest of the year. So it’s not as though he’s been banished to the minors for the entire year, never to return.
* Second, he didn’t exactly run away with a starting job, either last year or this spring. He hit .246/.307/.384 last year, and when the Nationals signed Jayson Werth, they moved Bernadina to left field thinking he would platoon, at best, with Michael Morse. He only hit .245/.310/.340 this spring, while Morse - who outhomered Bernadina last year in 168 fewer plate appearances - hit nine homers and ran away with the job.
* Third, while Riggleman said Laynce Nix would have gone to the minors, the fact that Bernadina had a minor league option left certainly played into the decision. They can play him every day in the minors, rather than having him get a handful of at-bats during the week in the majors, and they wanted a more veteran bat off the bench.
That’s some of the logic and reality behind the decision. Now, I’d like to hear from some of you: What’s your main gripe with Bernadina going to the minors? Let me know in the comments section.