Friday, February 03, 2006

Nick Johnson to be Backed Up by Fick or Ward

If you are willing to go to war with a highly touted but oft-injured first baseman in one of the worst hitters' parks in MLB -- which is a very big if -- then the Washington Nationals Nick Johnson is your man, and you'd better get him cheap. And if you get Johnson, you might want to caugh up a buck, but not a penny more, for either Robert Fick, who made the Nats 40-man roster, or Daryle Ward, a Nats non-roster invitee. Johnson has never been able to play a full season in the majors and may be expected to miss significant time again this year. That leaves reclamation projects Fick and Ward, both lefties, to battle for Johnson's playing time when Johnson is hurt. Fick, 32, posted his best numbers for Detroit in 2001, when he hit 19 homers in 401 ABs with a .272 BA. Ward, 31, had his best year for Pittsburgh in '05 when he batted .260 with 12 homers in 407 ABs, and during a hot streak or two actually found himself on a few fantasy rosters. Ward can play first or outfield -- sort of -- and Fick can play first, outfield and catch, perhaps making him more valuable to the Nats than Ward. If the Nats keep both Fick and Ward and you don't know which to draft as your emergency backup, don't worry. If you took Johnson, your team is probably already in trouble anyway.