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Brian Kenny: ‘No Disrespect to Denard Span,’ Bryce Harper Should be Playing CF

by Chris Lingebach
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Center fielder Denard Span #2 of the Washington Nationals makes a catch on the run and saves two runs in the process on a ball off the bat of Nolan Arenado (not pictured) of the Colorado Rockies for the third out of the first inning at Coors Field on July 22, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Center fielder Denard Span #2 of the Washington Nationals makes a catch on the run and saves two runs in the process on a ball off the bat of Nolan Arenado (not pictured) of the Colorado Rockies for the third out of the first inning at Coors Field on July 22, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) —  MLB Network analysts may or may not have it out for the Washington Nationals.

Earlier this month, Greg Amsinger called out Jayson Werth for his lack of leadership, and the Nationals as a whole for lacking an “it factor.”

On Wednesday, Brian Kenny, asked by the Junkies how Matt Williams should shape the Nationals lineup moving forward without Ryan Zimmerman — who left Tuesday’s game against the Rockies with a right hamstring strain — said the Nationals still have a “complete team,” and if anything, Zimmerman’s injury may actually alleviate some of the manager’s pressure to get all his guys in the game.

Also buried at the tail end of Kenny’s response was a caveat for Zimmerman’s inevitable return, which seems in agreement with Bryce Harper’s June 30 pot-stirring comments, in which he omitted Denard Span’s name when mentioning the Nationals’ ideal defensive lineup.

“I mean, everybody deals with injuries, so everybody’s missing somebody – a guy here or there – and certainly the Nationals had their share of injuries early,” Kenny said. “But, no, they’re still a complete team. In fact, having one guy hurt might make things easier all the way around.”

“I think the best lineup for the Nationals, and I’m surprised they haven’t done it, and no disrespect to Denard Span – who’s kind of league-average, offensively, which is good, and defensively, he’s above average – but I think the way to go to really empower your young star and make them the best possible team, is to put Bryce Harper in center field, put Ryan Zimmerman in left field, and then play your defensive infield, and let these guys go to town,” he said. “I think that’s the best way of doing it going forward with Bryce Harper, and it also gets Ryan Zimmerman away from third base, cause, it’s not like he’s such a disaster there, but you guys know; you’re playing in a one-week series, when you have one error in a game, it’s a disaster.”

“You can’t let that chance happen. The odds of that happening are just too great that he makes a throwing error,” Kenny went on to say.

“By the way, that’s what Bryce wants,” said show host JP. “There was a little mini-controversy here – I’m sure you’re familiar with it – that that’s basically what Bryce wanted when he kind of returned to the lineup was a lineup that meant Denard Span was the odd man out.”

“Yea, and he’s looking out for himself. Is that so terrible?” Kenny asked. “I know like he wasn’t supposed to say that, but he’s looking out for himself, and he has to look out for himself. That whole thing is separate. I mean, he was asked that, like, ‘What’s the best lineup?’ and he gave it out. I guess in the future, he’ll say things like, ‘Ah, shucks, I don’t know. I just let the skip do that,’ and everybody will be happy. But he just actually gave an honest answer; I don’t think he meant to ace anybody out, but he’s right. That is the best lineup to put out there.”

“Yea, I just respectfully disagree with you on that, Brian,” said show host Lurch. “I mean, I know you’re gonna throw the metrics at me, and you study all that stuff – you certainly know what you’re talking about – but I think the best lineup is the guy at the top, even though Span’s on-base percentage is lower than what you’d like. But I think defensively, now I don’t know what the metrics say about him defensively, but he doesn’t commit errors and he gets to balls, and I think that you would lose that if you put Zimmerman in left every day, cause you are gonna give up more runs with balls hit to the outfield, with Zimm there, because he’s just not gonna get to balls.”

None of this matters, really, until Zimmerman returns. The team confirmed today he’d been put on the 15-day DL.

Kenny also seems to have made an omission of his own — ignoring the offensive tear Span’s been on in the last month.

Update:

Brian Kenny on Nats Lineup

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