Davey Johnson has made no secret of what his main task has been for much of this season. He’s here to fill out the holes, to put the Nationals in the best position to know what they need this offseason and have no ambiguity over where to go and get it if necessary. It hasn’t changed as they come up on the final six games of the season.
As far his views on the team’s offseason needs, he’s of the opinion that bringing in another bat and more help on the offensive side (even if it’s for the bench) is more pressing than filling out a rotation that looks ready to be packed with homegrown youth.
“I think in everybody’s eyes a lot of guys have kind of laid claim to a lot of starting positions in the regular nine,” Johnson said. “We still have some spots that are open. The bullpen has really done a great job and has kind of taken a really definite shape and there’s some spots up for grabs in the starting rotation that some guys are pitching very well for. I think there’s going to be very few questions marks going into next spring, which is a great thing.”
That said, the Nationals have been known to be searching for a center fielder for quite some time and while Johnson has tried Jayson Werth out there and he’s performed extremely capably, the manager still feels it’s one of the organization’s weak spots.
“I still think one of the areas the Nationals are lacking is depth in the outfield position. The minor league system has a lot of good young outfielders but they’re not knocking on the door yet. So that’s an area that if we can pick up somebody that could fill that role that would be good. If we can’t, I think we have them in house and we could deal with that.”
The Nationals have top prospect Bryce Harper learning at the corner outfield positions and another young prospect, Michael Taylor, has also drawn rave reviews from Nationals officials this season. Taylor, a former shortstop, excelled this season at Single-A Hagerstown. After hitting a combined .199 between the Gulf Coast League and the South Atlanta League in 2010, Taylor hit .253 with the Suns this season and has been getting high praise for his speed and athleticism in the outfield. The Nationals also have Destin Hood and Eury Perez, highly-thought of outfielders with Single-A Potomac.
Other than Harper, though, none are considered all that close to the major leagues.
Still, Johnson feels confident, he said, about the way the ballclub appears to be shaping up.
“I’ve heard it form a lot of opposing managers and scouts, they look at this ballclub as a very good ballclub,” he said. “I’m sure when we beat up on a couple clubs (like the Mets and the Phillies) that even sends a more positive message. It’s a very competitive division. You’ve got to be pretty solid all the way through every aspect of your game if you’re going to compete and win this division.”