The Nats acquired Mike Cameron today, because who doesn’t need outfielders that are almost 40? In reality, he’s probably signed to a bench role, and while normally you’d like to give a young guy a shot, there aren’t too many in the farm system that appear to be ready to do that. The guys that are decent need consistent playing time because they aren’t really knocking on the door. So what will Cameron bring?
Last year, Cameron hit an uninspiring .203/.285/.359, which makes you wonder why they’d even go after him. He probably isn’t that bad of a hitter, and unless he’s totally done, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to do something like his .252/.339/.441 from the previous two seasons. And hidden in that 2011 slash line is an ISO of a little over .150, which is pretty good. Of course, Cameron rarely hits over .250, so that’s still not adding up to a great slugging. If you take it for granted that his bat will be a bit better, than his ISO may recover as well. He may be a platoon candidate, as he’s always hit lefties better than righties. And their current CF on the roster, Roger Bernadina, does hit righties better. So it’s possible he starts in CF against lefties.
As for his fielding, he is probably one of the few 39 year old major leaguers who can still play CF. UZR is tricky, especially in smaller samples, but his numbers were basically awful in 2010 and great in 2011. So that doesn’t tell us too much. Before that, though, he was mostly better than average, even in his recent seasons. His range looked good last year, bad in 2010 and good in 2009. So the thought is that he won’t be Rick Ankiel out there, but he may be more suited to the position than anyone else they have.
I don’t think he’s penciled in as anything more than a starter versus lefties, if that. He can still field, and still has some pop in his bat. As long as the Nats don’t think this is their answer for CF, then he isn’t awful to have on the bench. If he returns to what he did before 2011, he’s a better bench player than Hairston was, in terms of hitting, although he’s limited to the outfield. All in all, this isn’t something to get too excited or worked up over, it’s just the team finishing up their roster. Once they missed out on the Endy Chavez sweepstakes, they were stuck anyway.