Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo went on "Overtime" on 106.7 The Fan last night, and among the things he discussed was the team's veteran, but poor-producing bench of Matt Stairs, Jerry Hairston, Laynce Nix and Alex Cora. All four of those are well past their primes, which was something the hosts brought up to Rizzo on the show.
Rizzo's answer here, via Dan Steinberg, was interesting. After listening to it, I kind of agree with him.
"These guys are the mentors of these young players. We have a good core of good young players, and believe me, the addition of Matt Stairs and Laynce Nix and Jerry Hairston Jr. - along with [the fact that] they're pretty darn good baseball players, know their roles and have excelled at the role of being a bench player - that is one of the big reasons that these guys are on the club, is to teach these good young prospect players how to be Major Leaguers.
"You know, it's impossible to run out there young players at every position, have a young bench, nobody with experience in teaching these guys how to be Major League players. So none of those players that you mentioned is gonna take one at-bat away from a prospect.
Alright, so I don't agree with the premise that they're "pretty darn good baseball players." But otherwise? Rizzo is right. None of them are going to take the jobs away from the young prospects that need to be developed, and none will complain about their role. In a season where wins and losses aren't as important as player development, what's wrong with those things?
Of course, if they are here again next season, all bets are off.