Phil Collins said it best in Genesis’ late 1980’s song Land of Confusion:
There’s too many men, too many people
Making too many problems
And there’s not much love to go around
Can’t you see this is a land of confusion?
Washington is surely a land of confusion. Though it certainly reflects on the political climate in the nation’s capital, it also refers to the fantasy baseball climate in the same city. After breaking free from the other 29 owners and getting an ownership group to run the team with the intent of competing rather than being a patsy, the Nationals have made serious leaps and strides to becoming a legitimate contender. Though they are still several years away from being that competitor, they are on their way.
Unfortunately for fantasy owners, they are still providing a lot of confusion. All three of the “up-the-middle” positions in the infield are so overcrowded and undecided that you have to wonder if Genesis was singing about these guys.
There are four guys fighting for time behind the plate and none have the versatility to play any other position. They came into the offseason with catchers Jesus Flores and Wil Nieves already on the roster, then GM Mike Rizzo went out and signed 38-year olds Jamie Burke and Ivan Rodriguez to provide depth. With all these guys battling for playing time, none are likely to have any real value. Burke will likely have the least value with all the rest likely getting less than 300 AB each.
At shortstop, the Nats need to decide if they want to go with a gray beard who figured out what that long wooden thing is used for or the young up-and-comer that might (or might not) be ready for prime time. Cristian Guzman has finally become the hitter many expected him to be when he broke in with the Minnesota Twins in the late 1990’s. Unfortunately, his speed is gone and he has never really developed any power.
The other option is Ian Desmond, who looks like he’ll be a very good shortstop (though probably not great) in the near future. If Desmond gets the nod, he could build up more than 500 AB and some solid numbers this season. If it is Guzman’s job, Desmond will likely be relegated to Triple-A and not get more than 200 AB and be useless to your fantasy squad.
At second base, the Nats will likely turn to Guzman if Desmond gets the gig at short. If Guzman gets the shortstop job, their other options are Willie Harris and someone from the free agent pool. Harris is a nice utility option to play second, center, and left, but he’s not the kind of guy you want to see amass 500 AB. The likely target for a free agent signing is Orlando Hudson, but it is questionable if he would sign to play in D.C.
Of all the players named, Guzman is the most sure thing to get a regular job. And if he is named the starter at second base, then he will get dual position eligibility at 2B and SS. Past that, stay away from all of them, unless you have a bench slot to use on Desmond as a keeper for future seasons.