For this spring, that meant re-signing Ankiel with a minor league deal. (The Nationals, Rizzo said, were surprised Ankiel could be had for a non-guaranteed contract.) Ankiel won the center-field job last season, convincing the Nationals to trade Morgan to the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite two stints on the disabled list, Ankiel provided excellent defense; Nationals scouts and statistical analysts alike graded him highly.Ok, first off, why were the Nats surprised that Ankiel could be had for a non-guaranteed contract? He's a 33 year old who can neither get on base or slug anymore. He was the 24th best CF in the league (by Fangraphs WAR) last year and that had everything to do with an oddly productive defensive year. I looked through all the teams and found two that may have wanted him for a CF (given his bat wanting him for LF or RF seemed like a non-starter). The Marlins (currently projected to start Emilio Bonaficio) and the White Sox (someone named de Aja). Sooo pretty obvious here - Ankiel could be had on a non-guaranteed contract because 27 teams had obviously better options available, 2 of the other 3 had chosen another direction, and his bat and primary skill (rocket arm!) don't make him worth a guaranteed bench deal.
Second, did Ankiel winning the job really convince the Nats to trade Morgan for a guy who has a last name that sounds familiar? (who incidentally karaoked with Jamie Lynn Sigler the other night and doesn't even get an off-hand mention from the Sports Bog. That's how meaningless this guy is right now to the Nats). Really? Or did Nyjer wear out his welcome and Rizzo kick him to the curb to satisfy his obsession with "clubhouse" guys? I know which way I'm betting.
Third. I'm gonna go ahead and HOPE that the scouts and stat analysts had him graded highly defensively. Not because that makes any sense, as the lifetime numbers peg him as average to slightly below average, but at least they could tease out a defense to... no no on second thought if you are gonna use the word "highly" you can't even defend that. You can defend "not embarrasing", "acceptable", "best available at the money the Nats are willing to dole out", maybe even "good enough that they thought he could squeeze out one decent year at this age" but not "highly". The scouts and stat guys might know what they are doing in other places, but if they really graded out Ankiel highly - they need new guys to do their CF scouting and analysis.