Years and years ago, I did one of the few projects that won an award in my sports writing career. It was about knees and the many things that can go wrong with them. Part of the project was a look at two football teammates. They were essentially the same guy in terms of size, etc. They suffered identical knee injuries and had identical surgeries.
One came back to the same level he was before the injury. The other never played again. No logical explanation, the doctor said. Bodies are different. Some react well to injury/surgery. Some don't.
Nick Johnson would be the guy who never played again. There's no logical explanation. He just gets hurt a lot. In 2005, he missed a month when he hurt his heel stepping on the plate. The 2006 leg thing was brutal and would have felled anyone for a long period. But his "jinx" has reared its head again with a wrist injury that will keep him out the rest of this year.
Love the guy and I hope he gets well. But it should be obvious by now that the Nationals are setting themselves up for disappointment if they keep counting on Johnson as their 1b.
Marrero is clearly the guy they've pegged for the future. After seeing him earlier this year, I put his arrival date at 2011 and that's being optimistic. He's only 19. He has a ways to go. With his current injury, I now put 2012 down as an optimistic arrival date. Which leaves the Nats with 09, 10 and 11 to worry about a first baseman.
Next year, since they're both under contract, I'm sure the Nats will try the Johnson-Young thing again. Which means Young because Johnson will get hurt at some point, guaranteed. And, as I've noted before, it leaves the Nats in bad shape because Young is an awful defensive first baseman. Just awful. Can't move. Can't save errors like Johnson can. Can't get to balls that Johnson gets to with ease. And clogs up the bases when he does get on. I'm sure he's a fine guy and his story is inspirational. But I don't want him out there.
What's the alternative? Wily Mo is Dmitri without the hitting. I don't see Casto as a first baseman and Boone isn't an everyday guy either. Belliard? No thanks. Great bench guy. Broadway? He'd be there by now if that was a real option.
You know where I'm going with this because I've said it before. Why not give Luke Montz a look there? He's not the catcher of the future. The catcher of the future is already playing. If Montz is indeed for real as a hitter, he has to be out there somewhere. So let's try first and see how it works out. If it doesn't, what's lost?
If there's a better alternative, please share. I'm open to just about anything. As much as I'd love to be able to count on Nick Johnson, I just can't do it anymore.