WASHINGTON — Nationals manager Dusty Baker has elected fill Jayson Werth’s spot in the lineup with bats off the bench, rather than sliding Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon forward one slot in the order, and Grant Paulsen isn’t having it.
In the six games since Werth was placed on the disabled list (retroactive to Sunday, June 4), Baker’s had Brian Goodwin batting second three times, Ryan Raburn twice, and Wilmer Difo once.
Related: Werth to DL, Nats Select Raburn
Raburn, a 36-year-old fringe Major Leaguer, brings plenty of experience to the Nats lineup, although he’s gone 1-for-9 with two strikeouts since earning his first big league assignment of the season on Monday.
The Sports Junkies noticed their coworker’s outrage on Twitter and carved some time out of their Tuesday broadcast to discuss it.
“Grant Paulsen was having a conniption on Twitter, I guess, about who was batting No. 2 in the lineup,” John-Paul Flaim said.
“Well, he’s not happy with who?” Eric Bickel asked. “Who do they have right now?”
“Not happy with Dusty Baker,” Flaim said. “Because Jayson Werth went to the 10-day DL, and I think they inserted the guy they called up as the No. 2 instead of moving Rendon into the two-spot.”
“Well, I think Grant’s always had his thing for Rendon potentially hitting two,” Bickel said. “And I think Dusty doesn’t like him at two.”
“Yeah, I think the Grant and Danny Show’s still not really convinced that Dusty Baker’s the right guy for the job,” Flaim said with a laugh.
“Yeah,” Bickel said. “They don’t really respect those 1,800 wins.”
Related: Goodwin Finding His Role With Nats
Rendon, for what it’s worth, ended up hitting a home run in his first at-bat out of the sixth spot Monday, to give the Nats an early 1-0 lead over the Dodgers in the second inning. Raburn grounded out to third base in the first and went 0-for-4 in the game, while Rendon finished the day 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Most important, the Nats won 4-2.
Flaim suggested Paulsen may still have a gripe with the Nats for hiring Baker over Bud Black, who’s now managing the Rockies, after firing Matt Williams following the 2015 season.
“How’s Bud Black doing, by the way?” Flaim asked.
“He’s killing it with the Rockies,” John Auville said. “Look at their record. He’s killing our sweat bet!”
“That’s the whole deal,” Flaim said.
“Raburn’s a vet. Raburn’s like 36, 37 years old,” Jason Bishop said. “He’s been in the league forever. I don’t know why [Baker] decides to hit him two, but there’s no problem having Rendon bat sixth. You know guys are going to be on base, you know what I mean?”
“Raburn, then Harper, Zimmerman, Murphy, Rendon — I mean there’s no weak spot there,” he added. “Wieters, Taylor. They won the game! What are people complaining about?”
“GP, for whatever reason, likes Rendon, I think, at two,” Bickel said. “Or he at least wants him to be considered there.”
“If I were the manager, I probably would hit Rendon two as well,” Bishop conceded. “But Dusty Baker knows a little bit more about baseball than GP.”
Anyhow, this isn’t a new gripe for Paulsen. By any means.
Nor is his hostility reserved for lineup decisions involving Rendon, or the second spot in the order, for that matter.
It probably won’t be the last time Paulsen picks this nit, either. On Friday, he suggested on 106.7 The Fan he and co-host Danny Rouhier should take up a daily cause to “update what the two-hole in the order is now hitting since Jayson Werth’s injury.”
“Just so we’re all on the same page, in the, I believe it’s five games, since Werth went down, the two-spot in the order, occupied solely by guys who are more Syracuse Sky Chiefs than they are Washington Nationals — that’s Wilmer Difo, Brian Goodwin and Ryan Raburn, all spending more time in the minors than the Majors this year — a combined 2-for-20,” he said.
“So while Anthony Rendon, and Ryan Zimmerman, and Daniel Murphy, and Bryce Harper, and any other player that isn’t the catcher in the Nationals lineup — like Michael Taylor, who’s been hitting more effective lower in the order — 2-for-20 is now the new number while Dusty continues to hit minor leaguers in the two-spot in the order,” he added. “A pretty pivotal spot in the batting order.”