Washington Nationals Dave Martinez Is A Good Manager

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 24: Manager Dave Martinez #4 of the Washington Nationals looks on against the Colorado Rockies during the third inning of game one of a doubleheader at Nationals Park on June 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 24: Manager Dave Martinez #4 of the Washington Nationals looks on against the Colorado Rockies during the third inning of game one of a doubleheader at Nationals Park on June 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The 12th Man

The final roster spot allotted to position players has been a rotating cast of injured veterans (Zimmerman), non-effectual miscast backups (Taylor, Wilmer Difo), top prospects rushed into action (Carter Kieboom), and benchwarmers that Davey treats like stepsons (Jake Noll, Andrew Stevenson, and most-commonly, Adrian Sanchez) – which is to say he doesn’t know what the hell to do with them, so he ignores them.

It’s no secret that the Nationals have done a poor job of building depth as an organization. Martinez might be the perfect man to manage the Nats, because he doesn’t know what to do with a full roster. With an already-shortened 4-man bench, one would think each guy could have a role. Not so. Not the 12th man.

More from Call to the Pen

Heading into the dog days of August, it’s probably not reasonable to assume that Turner/Rendon/Soto will continue to play each and every inning. As I’ve written about before, their inability to replace Turner when he went down early in the season already may have cost them their shot at the playoffs. But to not even have someone on the roster capable of spelling Turner is borderline negligent.

Enter Asdrubal Cabrera. The Nats scooped up Cabrera as soon as he became available in what is exactly the kind of move I’d been hoping they’d make all year. I know, I know, that’s pathetic. Cabrera does not move the needle. He might not even, like, help. But it’s still a good move.

He can hit from both sides of the plate, and there’s a comfort level in DC from the half season he spent as a Nat in 2014 (and we thought he was washed then).

Not for nothing, he can capably spell Rendon or Turner should they need it. God willing, they won’t. But if the Nats stars, in fact, turn out to be human, and they need a day of rest sometime over these final 50 games, Cabrera is now the best option on the roster.

By September, Kieboom might be ready and then it’s kind of a moot point, but he’s not coming up now, which is why snagging Cabrera on the cheap makes sense. He started 63 games at third base for the Rangers this season. Kendrick, the lone backup for Rendon before Cabrera, has 33 career starts at the hot corner.

He’s not a shortstop anymore, but he hasn’t been nearly as horrible as you might expect (-5 DRS, 5.7 UZR/150). More to the point, the man has started over 1,000 games at the position in his career. He can handle a spot start.

If Turner or Rendon goes down for any significant amount of time, the Nationals are probably screwed anyway. But in the meantime, Cabrera gives them a capable bench bat who won’t be cowed by the moment.

Cabrera bagged 0.7 fWAR over the first half of the season with the Rangers. He’s produce plus fWAR for every season of his 13 season career. The list of offensive players on the Nationals worth negative fWAR in 2019 includes, Zimmerman, Taylor, Difo, Kieboom, Sanchez, and Noll. Stevenson has been worth 0.1 fWAR.

Martinez isn’t about to start pinch-running with Stevenson, or using Taylor as a defensive replacement, or double-switching Kendrick into the outfield. He’s gonna set him lineup and let the kids go play. But Cabrera is the exact type of player that he knows how to use. They’ll talk about it, and by the end of week one, Cabrera will likely know his role.

Next. Nats DFA Tony Sipp. dark

When the bullpen blows a lead and the Nats find themselves needing a big hit in the 12th, and the Washington Nationals need a professional at-bat, they won’t have to turn to Adrian Sanchez. They’ll turn to Davey Martinez, because he’s the guy this team trusts to make the decisions. Whatever he decides at the moment, his players are sure to understand the thinking behind it, because he’ll do what a good manager would do, and tell them.