As *(*S(Ded off as I am right now, I want to make some thoughts on this decision.
#1 Rick Ankiel is a top 5 outfielder in the National League. You simply cannot name more than 5 outfielders today who have a better overall combination of offensive, defensive, base running, and arm throwing capability, than Rick Ankiel, period.
#2 The Nats started improving when Rick Ankiel showed up.
#3 The Nats will start declining now that Rick Ankiel is not here.
#4 The Nats just blew a 9-0, NINE TO NOTHING, lead the first game that Rick Ankiel was not on this team. Coincidence???? I think not!!!!!!!
Enjoy your 2nd half skid down to the 3rd or 4th position in the East Nats fans, because Rick Ankiel is going to get picked up by another team, and every time he plays against the Nats (if it's in the NL) he's going to stick it up your F'in butts.
>>"I think not!!!!!!!"<<
Ricky Ankiel was in effect his own worst enemy. He sorely lacked plate discipline, but the times he DID exhibit a modicum of it you could immediately see his ability, power and athleticism. I shudder to use the word "potential" because it's tossed around as a buzzword for players who don't cut the mustard.
What I don't understand is how Davey "Spittoon" Johnson told him that centerfield was his...only to bench him because of the arm by which the opposition's pitcher threw the ball. Davey should have shown some courage by ignoring the "Manglement by Recipe" book written by Tony LaRussa.
If you never expect a LH batter to hit against a LH pitcher, then keep doing what you're doing. Most coaches I've experienced personally seem to have a nasty expectation that you will improve your weaknesses...or else. That means batting against a lefty if you're a lefty, so be it, or hit the bench...for a LONG time.
In my own (brief) professional career, a slight physical deformity made it difficult for me to use my left foot/leg as well (or close to) my right. That did NOT impress my coach, who told me 3 months before practices began that I'd be using my left foot for long passes and shooting with equivalent precision as my right. His reign of terror paid off, too, since during my final season I scored more goals with my left foot than my right.
So, DJ, it CAN be done. Enough of the silly switch-hitting superstition...managers don't freak when a rightie faces a rightie...Ankiel is yet another victim of this baseball voodoo doodoo.
I posted during the off-season that Ankiel was the type of player that would keep teasing you with his potential, he would show just enough flashes and stretches to make you hope he had progressed enough to 'make it' at the top level and get another chance to start, but then he would go into another extended period of poor production. At some point the balance tips and the periods of very little production aren't slumps anymore, they are simply the norm, interspersed by an occasional hot streak.
Davey knows what he's doing and he certainly doesn't need to be putting a 33 year old thru a learning process (over and over again) in hopes that he will finally improve against lefties during a pennant race. Rick had 434 official at-bats in his Major League career .vs left-handed pitching with a .228 BA. He has a .248 career BA .vs righties in 1,359 at-bats, so even against righties alone that wasn't enough to be an everyday player, or even to justify a place on the bench.
The Yankees have some interest in picking up Rick Ankiel according to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post (on Twitter). Earlier this week we heard that they didn't have any interest in the outfielder, but Brett Gardner is out for the year with an elbow issue and Nick Swisher left last night's game with a leg problem.
Ankiel, 33, was designated for assignment by the Nationals a few days ago. He hit .228/.282/.411 with five homers in 171 plate appearances this season, including .237/.299/.437 in 148 plate appearances against righties. Ankiel signed a one-year deal worth $1.25MM with Washington this past offseason.