Wednesday, December 31, 2008
While you're over here, check out my new-ish blog, Decision-A-Day. No really, do it.
There hasn't been much Nats news lately, so I wanted to post up something quick on the Caps. It's been almost 3 months since I've mentioned them, which is surprising, considering the fact that I hold them in as high (if not higher) esteem than the Nats. I don't really know why I don't blog about them, I guess when you have a well put-together team there is less to gripe about.
But anyways, the Caps won game number 9 of 10 tonight, defeating Buffalo 4-2. They did this without any Alex Ovechkin points, which is promising. Buffalo is a good team. When you can beat them even when the best player in the league is a non-factor and many other key players are out (Semin, Poti, Fleischmann, Federov, etc.), you are a good team.
But anyways, I'm proud of my 2nd-place Caps. They're the only of my favorite pro teams that I really have much to hope for in the coming few years.
On a side note, everyone have a safe and happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
What is the point in wasting money on a pitcher like Daniel Cabrera, who has a career ERA over 5.00 and did not win more than 10 games in the past four seasons? What am I missing here?
-- Alex C., Montreal
You're missing the fact that he has so much "upside" and "potential."
Sarcasm aside, you can't be a successful pitcher in the ML if you give up an abnormal amount of hits AND walks. The amount of hits allowed are pretty hard to change, so he'll have to lower his walks to be worth it. Looks like JimBow made another stupid move...he's the pitching equivalent of Nook Logan. A change in scenery will supposedly benefit Cabrera...yeah, just like a change in scenery benefited Jose Vidro.
Why haven't the Nationals given third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, the team's most respected player, the contract he deserves?
-- Eileen S., Arlington, Va.
It's been a while since I've really paid attention to the subject, but last I saw Zimmerman wanted to be paid like so-and-so player and the Nats wanted to pay him like Troy Tulowitzski. Problem is, both players (forgive me for forgetting Zim's "comparable") were in completely different situations when they signed those contracts, either in the number of years of team control left or in actual performance. So without a precedent, these things will take time. Be patient, I have full faith that Zimmerman will be around past his final arb-eligible year.
A leadoff hitter has always been a problem since the Nationals arrived in Washington. Is free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson on the radar?
-- Rogers C., New Carrollton, Md.
Oh goodness, I hope so. Imagine what this team could do if they signed Hudson, Dunn and a starter like Randy Johnson. Trade Milledge for a young pitcher and you have a team that might actually be able to compete.
What is Elijah Dukes' future with the Nationals?
-- Phyllis D., Tampa, Fla.
His future with the Nationals coincides with his future in professional sports. If he stays out of trouble, he's ours for a long time, and he will be a force. I am not afraid to go out on a limb and say Elijah Dukes will be in the Hall of Fame if he stays out of trouble.
I know Wily Mo Pena is back because he exercised his player option, but with so many outfielders, what do you think the team is going to do with him?
-- Dan H., Aspen Hill, Md.
He'll befriend Riggleman on the bench, I suppose.
I know the Nationals have a lot of young talent. Which Minor Leaguers do you see battling for a Major League job?
-- Austin D., West Hartford, Conn.
Zimmermann, Balester, Atilano, Martin, Mock, Montz and maybe Bernadina/Maxwell if an OF is dealt.
Don't forget that it wasn't Nick Johnson's fault that he fractured his leg in 2006. He crashed into his own player. He should be back at full strength in 2009. I wouldn't give up on him. He has heart. He's working out every day to be stronger and ready to resume his position. He'll recover from the torn sheath in his right wrist just as he did with the fractured leg. The Nationals should save themselves $160 million dollars and put it where it's needed: pitching.
-- Johnson J., Sacramento, Calif.
Ladson was right on one part and wrong on the other. Johnson gets hurt almost every year. It's usually a "freak injury", but his injuries simply never heal quickly. Simple injuries that take other players a few days or weeks to recover turn into weeks or months for Johnson. Which is where Ladson made his wrong point. I'll just point you to FJB for the explanation for the "Johnson and David Ortiz had the same injury" dealio.
Is there any chance that the Nats will go after Willy Taveras? He steals bases and can play the outfield.
-- Dalton C., Olympia, Wa.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
If he is guaranteed a spot at all in the majors let alone a rotation spot, this is an awful signing. I don't care how hard he throws. He simply is not a good pitcher. Maybe converting him to a reliever or something would work, but a ton of walks plus a ton of hits is never a good combination.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Why would the Nationals non-tender a guy like right-hander Tim Redding, but offer a contract to an injured pitcher such as Shawn Hill?
-- Ross B., Highland, Md.
Hill is a better pitcher than Redding, hands down. Redding was going to cost twice as much as Hill. It depends on what you want-180 mediocre innings or a gamble between probably 50 and 150 excellent or mediocre innings. I like the gamble.
Should the Nats give up on first baseman Nick Johnson because he gets injured every year? I could definitely see the Athletics or Giants come calling in a hurry.
-- Brian F., Sacramento, Calif.
I love Nick. He's a tremendous player and has so much value to the team, putting up the two best individual seasons (according to FJB, at least) in Nationals history in 2005 and '06. But he's been the least valuable player for the last two years, with 38 games played. We just can't afford to count on him anymore, I'm sorry. If there is decent interest in him, trade him. If not, hold on to him, let him build up his value, and then play it by ear from there.
In one of the previous mailbags, you said that Wily Mo Pena is recovering from shoulder surgery and should be ready for Spring Training. But is there any real need for the Nationals to keep him? It seems like they have an abundance of outfielders and Pena wasn't very productive last year.
-- Kristen L., Rockville, Md.
"There isn't a need for Pena. But you have to remember one thing: the Nationals declined a $5 million club option on Pena, who subsequently exercised a $2 million player option for the 2009 season last October." Thank you, Bill.
Any chance the Nationals would sign Dunn to play first base?
-- Fritz S., Rockville, Md.
Well they sure wouldn't signing him to play shortstop...
With Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero gone, who will be the Nationals' closer in 2009?
-- Rodney B., Greer, S.C.
Hanrahan. Don't believe the Fuentes BS...Mr. Lerner must have naked pictures of Ladson to get him to print that.
I know the Nationals don't plan on spending much money on pitching this offseason, so what do you think about bringing Livan Hernandez back? He might not be the best pitcher in the league, but he is a free agent and, if nothing else, he's an innings-eater.
-- Will R., Rose Haven, Md.
If we don't keep Redding at ~$2 mil, we will not bring Livo back at anything more than a minor league deal with a ST invite.
That's all there is...kinda a dissapoingly lame mailbag. Step it up with your questions, blogosphere!
One other note-the live chat with Jim Bowden is tomorrow at 11 am. I will be at work then, but enjoy! I'd appreciate it if someone asked Jim how the complexion of the game would change if trading draft picks were allowed, so if anyone is around the computer and wants to ask, they get an A+ for the day!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I'm leaning toward liking this move, or at least agreeing with it. You know what you're getting with Redding: roughly 180 innings of 5-ish ERA ball. I think we can get something similar out of guys from our system, though, and not just the obvious names...I'm talking minor league FA's. This move really opens a door for J.D. Martin (and to a lesser extent, Preston Larrison) to challenge for a spot in Spring Training and I have a sneaking suspicion he'll end up on the Opening Day roster. There's my fearless prediction.
NFA classified the Guzman signing as "A nice gamble for a team that can afford to give it a shot."
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Arguments can be made that this is a good move. Tons of money is wasted every year on lousy pitchers who get signed by teams in desperation. I would understand if they said they wouldn't go after guys looking for so-and-so amount of money or so-and-so years. But no ML guarantees? I mean seriously, come on. With the economy the way it is (and the deepest SP market in recent history), the market is never going to get better. There is a ton to choose from, and it will probably come semi-discounted.
Don't try to tell me Ben Sheets or Oliver Perez couldn't fit into the plan. Don't try to tell me Randy Johnson couldn't help Olsen and Lannan scout batters or help them with their pickoff moves. This is ridiculous (to put it nicely) and until a report comes out saying otherwise, I'm blaming it all on the Lerners. We know Bowden and Kasten aren't trying to screw the team over (even though with JimBow, it appears so a lot of the time). This kind of report reeks of CHEEEEEEEAP! I hope the Hannukah fairy gives them a gift that characterizes them best: a sack of crap. And don't give me the "well we'll trade for our pitching" crap. Nobody wants to trade any decent young pitcher for anything less than a king's ransom (except for the Marlins). I don't want to give up Ryan Zimmerman, Lastings Milledge and Jesus Flores to fill out the dang rotation.
As much as I love to sit here and make my "Who should we sign posts," I'm not even gonna bother continuing the series with the "Major League Arms" edition, since we won't sign any. Just refer to my "Minor League Edition" and try to find this year's Odalis Perez. Your choices are the likes of Jeff Weaver, Claudio Vargas and Matt Cassel's brother. Finding one needle in a haystack is tough enough, but by the looks of things, we'll need at least 2, maybe 3. Nice move, Nats.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
According to MLBTR, Jim Bowden apparently explored the idea of trading for Royals starter Zack Greinke. Tim Dierkes of MLBTR did speculate the following, however: "Of course, that could've just been a phone call inquiry from Jim Bowden to Dayton Moore that went nowhere." I doubt we have the right pieces to sniff a Greinke deal, but it's nice to see a name pop up that would be a good idea for the club, even if it won't happen. Also, the original article (from ESPN.com) notes some other names Bowden has asked about, most notably (or most conceivably) Joey Votto. The Reds took 1B Yonder Alonso seventh overall this year. Alonso is apparently very close to major league-ready (especially having signed a Major League contract, thus putting him on the 40 man roster), which could make Votto expendable. But the question remiains-will the Reds answer JimBow's calls?
Frank Howard is a free agent. I agree wholeheartedly with Dave Shenin of the Post...the Nats would be idiots to pass up this PR opportunity. It's falling right into their laps...so let's see how the (mis)management can screw it up.
The Nats named a new strength and conditioning coach as well as a new physical therapist today. John Philbin, the new S&C coach, spent 1992-2000 in the same capacity with the Redskins. Does anyone remember whether or not the Skins looked "fit" in that timeframe?
Monday, December 1, 2008
If they sign a first baseman like Mark Teixeira, what are the Nationals' plans for Nick Johnson?
-- Don T., Milwaukee
Start him and bench Teixeira, durrrrrrr. But in reality, I think we'd ship him off to an AL team who can DH him (Oakland has reportedly been interested and I could see the Yankees in on him if they lose on Tex).
Knowing the Nationals had one of the worst ERAs in the National League last year, would you rather get a high-priced slugger or a pitcher?
-- Matt S., Farmingdale, N.Y.
I'd rather have a good pitcher than a good slugger but at the same time I'd rather have a high-priced slugger than a high-priced pitcher, if that makes sense. I think with a slugger you're more likely to get production in the latter years of those big contracts.
Given the glut of outfielders on the Nats' roster, do you see one of them possibly moving to first base?
-- Chris W., Woodbridge, Conn.
Willingham is the only one I can see moving to 1B. Kearns and Dukes are too valuable defensively in the outfield and I don't think Milledge or Pena could handle 1B.
Did Ryan Wagner re-sign with the Nationals after electing free agency?
-- Kristen H., Alexandria, Va.
Yes. Info was cloudy on this at first, but Baseball America seemed to have confirmed it a while ago. Funny how a certain Nationals.com reporter never said anything about it...
I would like to see the Nats sign Pedro Martinez to a one-year deal. Although he has been hurt often, Martinez has shown he can be dominant at times. I also think he could be a good mentor for Collin Balester or Jordan Zimmermann. What are your thoughts?
-- Eric R., Shullsburg, Wis.
I wholeheartedly agree with this idea. Sign 2 pitchers with injury risks-Pedro and Ben Sheets. Between the two of them, you might get 300 innings of Cy Young pitching. Or you might get 100. Money is the only risk, but these guys come at a discount. These are the types of moves that we need to be making-take chances on guys with immense talent and hope that they stay healthy. The difference would be that we would (probably for the first time ever) have decent plan B's if these guys go down with injuries. We have several capable starters already: Balester, Redding, Lannan, Bergmann, Zimmermann, Olsen, Hill Martis, etc. but It's safe to say Sheets and Pedro would be 1-2. That would leave us with probably Lannan, Olsen and Balester, with Redding as a long reliever, Bergmann put in the pen where I think he belongs, Hill on the DL and Zimmermann and martis with more time in AA/AAA. EDIT-I forgot about Randy Johnson. I wholeheartedly support signing him.
Why not put Ronnie Belliard at first base? In limited time, he has put up decent offensive numbers.
-- Andy S., Fairfax, Va.
He's not tall enough, simply put.
Do you see the Nats trying to sign any veteran starting pitchers?
-- Andy S., Fairfax, Va.
"Yes, I do. Who that is, I don't know." Answer of the year, Ladson. Ideally, as I said, the Nats would bring in Pedro and Sheets. I think a retread like Mike Hampton is more likely, however (although his lefthandedness might keep the Nats from doing so...any ideas on another guy? I had a list at some point that I'll dig for). EDIT-Hampton signed with the Astros, so we really will need to look elsewhere.
What's Wily Mo Pena been up to this offseason?
-- Dan D., Washington
He's gotten as many hits this offseason as he did last season, that's for sure.
"A couple of weeks ago, general manager Jim Bowden told the local media that Pena is slowly recovering from shoulder surgery and it has prevented him from playing winter ball this offseason. Pena is expected to be ready for Spring Training, however."-Ladson
Do you think Ian Desmond has a chance to become the Nationals' regular shortstop in two years?
-- Gary G., North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
No. He can't hit. I'm done being optimistic with this guy...until he can prove me wrong (a la Mike Hinckley), I'm sticking to my gut and saying no, Ian Desmond will never be a starting shortstop in the major leagues.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
First, the mailbag. Before I answer the questions, I'd like to point out how bad Ladson was this week. Three out of the seven questions asked were either "I can't answer right now," "I can't judge Montz," and "I don't know at this time." I appreciate the honesty, Bill, but I'm sure there were more than 7 questions in your email inbox. If you don't know, skip them and answer a different one. So without further ado, the mailbag, followed by some minor league free agency signings.
I've been an Austin Kearns fan for years, and he hasn't really lived up to the hype because of injuries and slumps. With his rough season in 2008, is this the end for Kearns as a starter?
-- Chad B., Hitchins, Ky.
The end? No. Kearns will probably not begin the year as the full-time starter, but he'll be backing up two guys in Dukes and Willingham in which you can pretty much count on a DL stint or two. Once he gets in a groove, he'll get a permanent starting job and either be dealt or Willingham will move to 1B permanently.
What are your thoughts on catcher Luke Montz?
-- Louis G., Washington
To be honest, I think his 2008 numbers in AA were a fluke. I certainly hope I'm wrong, but his AAA numbers weren't impressive. Once I see numbers at AAA and ML, I will be convinced. I'm rooting for ya, though, Luke! Prove me wrong!
There seems to be a lot of people getting on Lastings Milledge and his play in center field. I thought he improved dramatically over the course of the season. Why are people writing him off as a corner outfielder?
-- Justin E., Potomac, Md.
"Improved" is a relative term. In Milledge's case, he "improved" from being probably the biggest waste of talent (in his case, talent=range) since Barry Sanders played for the Lions to being simply below average defensively.
Will Ronnie Belliard be playing for the Nationals next season? If so, do you think he will start?
-- Clare M., Mechanicsburg, Pa.
It would be news to me if Belliard wasn't on the Opening Day roster. He won't start, but I do see him getting 30-40% of the innings at 2B, maybe more once Anderson Hernandez comes back down to Earth.
In the two years Manny Acta has been the manager of the Nationals, no starter has pitched a complete game. This is mind-boggling. Why is this? You would think that in two years, at least one pitcher would be able to go the distance.
-- Dave F., Seaford, Del.
Ladson: "Actually, Jason Bergmann and Tim Redding pitched complete games this past season." Delaware Dave=PWNED!
But honestly, I don't really buy into Manny's whole "take them out before they get shelled and, in result, get their feelings hurt" dealio. Let them pitch until they show signs of pending ineffectiveness.
Considering they have a first-base opening, could the Nationals try to pick up a veteran with strong name recognition, such as Nomar Garciaparra, until a young player can take over in September?
-- Keith S., Arlington, Va.
The Nats will probably to to pick up a younger veteran with strong name recognition. Adam Dunn, Mark Texeira, etc. Nomar Garciaparra hasn't been a "strong name" since he was dealt at the 2003 trade deadline.
Where does Kory Casto fit into next year's plans?
-- Bill L., Columbia, Mo.
And here are your 2009 Syracuse Chiefs! Starting in left field, number 5, Kory Casto!
In other news, Baseball America announced in their weekly Minor League Transactions post that the Nats have resigned RHP Ryan Wagner, RHP Dan Leatherman and OF Jemel Spearman while signing RHP Preston Larrison and 1B Brad Eldred.
I've always thought in the back of my mind that Wagner would become a force again. I doubt it more and more every day, but It's a good career move for him to resign with an organization so weak in ML-ready relievers.
I don't have much to say on Leatherman, but he did have really nice numbers in Hagerstown this year. Maybe we'll challenge him with Potomac and possibly Harrisburg around the all-star break.
Spearman's got speed and a decent AVG/OBP combo, but has only 60 career PA at AAA or above at age 28.
The Larrison signing has gotten a lot of love, both from Baseball America and Beyond the Box Score. Here's what BA had to say: "The 28-year-old Larrison is the pick to click in this group. A Tigers’ second-round selection in 2001, he’s pitched in 100 Triple-A games and racked up a solid 3.49 ERA and just 84 strikeouts to go with 57 walks in 134 innings. However, he’s given up just seven home runs in that time, as he’s got one of the better—if not the best—sinkers on the market. His groundout-to-airout ratios in the past two seasons: 2.7 (Buffalo, ‘08), 3.0 (Toledo, ‘08), 3.0 (Toledo, ‘07). Yes, the double play will always be in the back of opposing managers’ minds." And what BtBS says: "I absolutely love this move for Washington. Call him Chris Schroder deluxe. Larrison finally found his way out of the American League Central after a season with Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate and into an organization that should use him at the highest level. Holder of a 69.1% groundball percentage last season, Larrison gets ant killers at an alarmingly high rate. Larrison's swinging strike rates are also enough to make one ecstatic, although not giddy. The tRAs aren't overly impressive, but as a situational reliever with batted ball average flukes, he's a fine addition to the Nationals organization."
And last but not least, Eldred. He's got fantastic power numbers but a beyond-awful BB/K ratio. Hit .244/.305/.546 with 35 HR, 100 RBI, 28 BB and 144 K with CHW's AAA affiliate in 2008. I can hear the shrieks from SoCH already!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
RHP Brandon Medders-29-Rough 2008 in AAA but has a 3.52 career ML ERA in 151 IP.
OF Jeff DaVanon-35-career .259/.349/.400 slash line in the majors ain't bad at all. Pretty good plate discipline as well.
RHP Jeff Weaver-32-Not good since 2005, but why not throw him a bone?
3B Morgan Ensberg-34-Had 20+ HR in 3 of his 4 full seasons in ML. Draws a lot of walks, doesn't strike out TOO much...could be this year's Aaron Boone (but better).
RHP Oscar Villareal-28-Won 10 games out of the Diamondbacks' bullpen as a 21-year-old rookie in 2001. Rough 2008, but still worth having around...you can NEVER have enough relievers!!! Career 3.86 ML ERA in 336 innings tells me to give this man a job.
RHP Tim Corcoran-31-Had a decent 2006 in ML but a bad '05 and '07. Wasn't too bad in '08 in AA/AAA and was pretty good in '07. Maybe the former 44th rounder has something left in the tank.
RHP Jack Cassel-28-"Cassel is Carlos Silva - his fastball tops out at 88, he’s got a sinker that gets an average amount of groundballs, he doesn’t have an out pitch, but he tries to make up for it by pounding the strike zone. Maybe you don’t think we need two Carlos Silva’s, but at the very least, he should stand as a glaring example of how stupid it is to throw money at veteran guys whose best skill is “eats innings”. Cassel’s every bit as good, and unlike Silva, he doesn’t cost $48 million to sign."-U.S.S Mariner. Matt Cassel's brother fared pretty well in his rookie year in 2007 with San Diego, but was knocked around for Houston in 2008. Cassel isn't going to strike out (or walk) too many guys, but he gives up a ton of hits (although most are singles).
RHP Mike Koplove-32-ML career ERA+ of 120 (with only 2 seasons under 100, one of which he only pitched 6 innings) to go with an ERA of 3.82. Had nice 2007 and '08 campaigns in AAA, with 2.50 and 3.46 ERA's, respectively. Doesn't walk many guys, decent amount of K's and could provide a veteran presence in our young bullpen. EDIT-signed with Philly.
LHP Erasmo Ramirez-32-Decent K rate, not many walks, hittable. Too bad he gets righties out better than lefties!
RHP Scott Strickland-33-Career ML ERA: 3.34. Had some injuries, but in 2006 and 2008, he posted ERA's of 2.10 and 3.53, respectively to go with WHIP's of 1.07 and 1.16. Worth a shot.
Former top prospects
RHP Tim Spooneybarger-30-Cool name, still recovering from 2005 Tommy John surgery (7 and 1/3 innings pitched in 2008, 3 from 2004-07...no really, 3 total innings pitched from 2004-07), in a band with A.J. Burnett (according to Wikipedia).
RHP Franklyn German-29-Huge (6'7", 298 lbs), throws 100 MPH, has more career BB than K, but still a 4.25 career ML ERA.
RHP J.D. Martin-26-"Martin is a command specialist who throws strikes and has a good enough change-up to miss bats occasionally. He came back from a long series of arm injuries to carve up Double-A, and while his stuff makes him more of a swing-man/long relief type, he could potentially turn into an okay #5 starter option."-U.S.S. Mariner. Good career ERA (3.50), better 2008 ERA (2.41). 35th overall pick of 2001 ML draft. EDIT-Signed with the Nats!
OF Freddy Guzman-28-Speed? Check. Patience? Check. ML success? Nope. But a .277/.355/.371 career minor league slash line and a .272/.337/.394 slash line this year (with 71 steals) makes him worth taking a chance on. Lots of doubles and triples, too.
RHP Jose Capellan-28-Called a "flamethrower" by Mets Today, can throw 100 MPH according to Wikipedia. Maybe Randy can straighten him out.
RHP John Van Benschoten-28-The 8th overall pick in the 2001 draft has been LeVale Speigner-esque in his parts of 3 seasons in the bigs, allowing 100 runs (92 earned) in only 90 innings pitched. Ouch. His minor league numbers continue to get worse little by little, but they're still decent enough to make me think he's got SOMETHING in the tank. Maybe try him out as a reliever? EDIT-signed with the Chi Sox.
OF Chris Duffy-28-Decent ML slash line of .269/.328/.361 for his career. Beyond the Box Score says Duffy is worth 1.3 wins in either corner outfield spot. Nice, but only if we don't keep Langerhans, who is better with the bat and the glove.
Career minor leaguers
OF Bronson Sardinha-26-Looks like an average player across the board, with a .268/.348/.407 career slash line. Usually good for around 10-15 HR and SB. Drafted as a SS, but hasn't played infield since 2004. We could use our own "Flyin' Hawaiian."
RHP Matt Peterson-27-His Achilles heel has always been walks, with 376 career free bases in 867 and 1/3 innings pitched. In 2008, however, he only had 6 in 30 and 2/3 innings. Did he finally figure out how to throw the ball over the plate or was it the small sample size? Worth a shot, IMO.
OF Adam Greenberg-28-With one career PA in the bigs, it's hard for me to put him under "former Major Leaguers" but with his story, you can't really call it more than that. He got beaned in the head in his only major league at bat in 2005. He had an awful 2006, hitting .209/.342/.272, but I would have to believe that was because he was scared of getting nailed in the head again. His numbers rebounded in 2007 to .266/.373/.428 before falling back to .271/.361/.347 this past season, but the high OBP makes me believe he would be a worthwhile pickup.
1B/OF Mitch Jones-31-The epitome of a career minor leaguer: 200 career HR, but 0 career ML games. Career AAA slash line of .262/.345/.527, but with more than 1 K/game over his career, not sure that he would be anything more than a AAAA guy (although with 35 HR in 385 AB in the last 2 years, he might be worth a shot anyways). EDIT-signed with the Dodgers.
OF Joe Gaetti-27-Believe it or not, Gary Gaetti's son is probably a better hitter than he was. Joe has hit (and hit well for that matter) at every single level he's played at, with a sub .800 OPS once (in 49 games at AA in 2007, the same year where he had an .845 OPS in 74 AAA games). With a .903 OPS in 2008, he's definitely worth a shot.
Former Nats farmhands/players
RHP Emiliano Fruto-24-Acquired in the Jose Vidro trade, dealt for Chris Carter who was dealt for Wily Mo Pena. Hasn't been good since 2006. Ranked by NFA as the Nats' #6 prospect in July of 2007.
OF Jason Dubois-30-Spent time in Columbus in 2008 (and sucked), moved along to play for the Cubs' AAA affiliate, put up .307/.399/.664 slash line.
RHP Tomo Ohka-33-Traded to Milwaukee for Junior Spivey in 2005, ironically the last year he was effective. Maybe now that Frank is gone, we can convince him to come back. A switch-hitter. EDIT-signed with Cleveland.
1B Matt Whitney-25-2007 Rule V draftee, not as impressive in 2008 (10 HR, .760 OPS) as 2007 (32 HR, .909 OPS). Walk numbers are up, strikeout numbers are down, and with Broadway and Jimenez likely leaving the organization, we'll have room for him. EDIT-Whitney signed with the Nats. Who called it? :)
3B/OF Tony Blanco-27-Am I kidding? Strangely, no. The 2005 Nats' Rule V draftee spent almost all of 2008 with the Tulsa Drillers, the AA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. They taught him to drill the ball there, because a .323/.385/.587 slash line, 67 XBH and 88 RBI in only 103 games is pretty darn good. Okay, it was as a 26-year-old in AA, but maybe he's finally turning that raw talent into on-the-field performance?
1B/OF Val Pascucci-30-"Pascucci is a right-handed Todd Linden with worse defense. He can hit a fastball a long way, though, and he’s good enough to be someone’s platoon partner."-U.S.S. Mariner. Career slash line of .285/.404/.524 in AAA, including a .280/.403/.508 line this year. We have to find a spot for this guy (note-he was drafted by the Expos and played with the organization through 2004).
2B Bernie Castro-29-I don't know why, but I always loved this guy. Maybe it's because his name is Bernie. Maybe it's because Bernie is short for Bernabel. Or maybe it's just because I have a heart for little guys who are fast (basically the anti-me). His batting average went down a little in 2008, so for a contact hitter it made all of his stats look awful. But his BB and K numbers are rapidly moving toward each other, which is a great (and promising) sign. Bring Back Bernie!!
OF Brandon Watson-27-Again, I don't know why, but I liked Watson as well. After I got past his stupid "Hollywood" attitude, that is. As much as I hate guys like Nook Logan who could never get on base but had great speed, I always beg for them on my team. Please, for the sake of the Nationals, keep Willy Taveras out of my grasp!
2B/3B/SS D'Angelo Jimenez-31-I will never forget the nice little .245/.379/.373 line he put up for the Nats in 2007. Sure, it's nothing special, but after hitting .040/.172/.040 through his first 31 plate appearances, it was a pleasant surprise (for a reference point, he hit .312/.442/.481 in his 97 plate appearance after that awful start...and unrelated, but semi-similar-Elijah Dukes hit .038/.188/.077 in his first 32 plate appearances as a National and .293/.413/.528 in his 298 plate appearances afterwards).
Royce Ring-28-"Ring didn't pitch too much for the Braves, but was decent, not nearly as good as his major league career totals indicate he could be however. The former San Diego State closer throws in the upper 80's and has pitched for three teams since 2005."-Beyond the Box Score
"Ring is a former first round pick with a nasty curveball and a sinking fastball that gets a lot of grounders. His command is a problem, but he’s got two major league pitches and he’s left-handed. For a team short on bullpen lefty’s, he’d be a nice NRI to spring training."-U.S.S. Mariner
Carmen Pignatiello-26-rough 2008 campaign but still did okay against lefties. Walks a lot of lefties but strikes out more.
Ian Ostlund-30-"Ostlund is 30 years old and a Tommy John Surgery survivor (yes, survivor). Last season he got 11% swinging strikes and had a 2.94 FIP, impressive, add in a 2.18 BB/9 and there is little to question, except his GB%. Ostlund only gets 36.55 grounders, but he didn't give up a ton of homeruns. Odds are that changes a bit in the majors, but there's something decent about him considering the swinging strikes amount."-Beyond the Box Score.
I guess TJ surgery is the reason this guy has never gotten a shot in the majors. Career 3.18 ERA in the minors (2.87 in two AAA seasons). VT grad. EDIT-Ostlund signed with STL.
Mark McLemore-28-No, not THAT Mark McLemore. Extreme fly-ball pitcher. Looks like he missed all of 2008. Injured? Retired? Who knows...
Carmen Cali-30-"Cheap left-handed reliever candidate. Gets a lot of ground balls, but control is spotty"-OutPerSwing.com "Cali is a 30 year old who sits in the lower-90's. Last seen in the majors with the Twins in 2007, and the Cardinals in 2004/2005 Cali's control has abandoned him in his major league stints. He gets nearly 11% swinging strikes, and nearly 55% groundballs. Cali is at least worth a look as a non-roster invitee. Also has the best name of the list: Carmen Salvatore Cali."-Beyond the Box Score. EDIT-signed with the Dodgers.
Stephen Randolph-34-"Randolph...last spent time in the majors for the Astros in 2007, and in 2003/2004 for the Diamondbacks. He too sits in the low 90's, but got the most strikes swinging of anyone else on this list last season with 15.9%, he walked quite a few (nearly 6 per nine) but gave up only 0.38 homeruns per nine despite a 38 GB%."-Beyond the Box Score. A forgettable part of his forgettable 2005 campaign was for the Nats' then-AAA affiliate, the New Orleans Zephyrs, where he allowed 31 earned runs in 29 innings (think LeVale Speigner in 2007, but worse). My opinion on Randolph isn't incredibly favorable...He's almost 35-if he was ever going to be a productive major leaguer, it would have happened by now. Then again, so could have been said about Type A free agent Darren Oliver...
Sean Henn-27-former top prospect, has been pretty awful in the majors, but minor league numbers are still semi-promising. Could become another Charlie Manning...woohoo?
Aaron Boone-types (Corner IFs who can hit)
1B/3B/OF Mike Cervenak-32-He's about as old as Aaron Boone and has 0.3% of Boone's ML experience, but who cares about experience anyways? Good AVG, ok plate discipline, doubles power. EDIT-Resigned with the Phillies.
Mike Restovich-types (AAAA 1B/OF types)
1B Scott Thorman-26-Pretty awful for the Braves in 400+ AB's from 2006-07. LH hitter, will keep getting chances as a platoon guy, especially at his age. EDIT-signed with Milwaukee.
1B Kevin Barker-33-has had 4 cups of coffee (1999, 2000, 2002, 2006). Career .272/.356/.476 line in the minors (to go with 226 career HR), LH hitter, VT grad. EDIT-signed with the Reds.
1B/OF Todd Linden-28-"Linden is one of those classic tweeners; a guy with just enough bat to kill Triple-A but not enough to earn a job as a corner OF/1B, especially since he’s not a great defender. But he’s a switch hitter, he can take a walk, and has at least gap power. If anyone’s a candidate to pull a Ryan Ludwick and develop late, it’s Linden."-U.S.S. Mariner. The career .231/.303/.335 major league slash line won't cut it, but he definitely wouldn't be a bad guy to have hanging around AAA for when Nick Johnson gets hurt. And you can ALWAYS use a switch-hitter.
OF Nick Gorneault-29-Spent the last 4 years in AAA hitting .275/.350/.489. Good enough with the bat, good enough with the glove, could be a nice 5th OF. We could definitely do worse than Gorneault...looks like a Restovich clone to me.
OF Ray Sadler-28-Classic AAAA outfielder...20ish homers, way too many K's, not enough BB's to outweigh them.
OF John-Ford Griffin-29-Called a "free swinging AAAA outfielder" by Mets Today, Griffin is pretty much as advertised. He hits righties very well (.305/.387/.557 this year) but basically just loses his power against lefties (.333/.377/.386). Not too shabby. In 23 career ML at-bats, Griffin has a .304/.370/.696 slash line. If we weren't overrun with outfielders, I would definitely say go for him, but if we can teach him 1B, he could become a valuable lefty bat off of the bench.
2B/3B/SS Robinson Chirinos-24-Could be even more rare-apparently training at C in Arizona. That blog post also speculates Chirinos will return to the Cubs, as they wouldn't send him to Arizona only to have him leave as a minor league FA. Hasn't hit much above A, but still couldn't ignore the .283/.431/.475 slash line he put up in 120 A+ AB's this year.
2B/SS Erick Almonte-31-I don't really know why I like this guy so much (maybe I have him confused with Danny Almonte?), but once again you have a guy whose walk numbers are finally rising and strikeout numbers are falling. Might be too late for him to turn it around, but it's not like we have great organizational depth at SS.
2B/3B Adam Morrissey-27-Good batting average/OBP combo. Not much power, but he's a 2B so that's semi-expected. Top Prospect Alert said something probably 4 or 5 years ago that might hold true: "Odds are, Morrissey will be a player that is slow to break into the big leagues, probably earning a regular roster spot closer to age 26 or 27 than age 24. He may very well have a decent major league career, but it is doubtful that he will ever earn much more than a utility role with a big league team." He's 27 now, so it's make or break time for that prediction of him.
C J.D. Closser-24-You know, .239/.320/.367 in the majors for a catcher isn't really that bad. His power seems to have left him over the years, but he also hasn't played a full season...ever? But with only 148 games played over the past 2 seasons, I think it might be safe to assume injury sapped some of his power. I want this guy to compete for a backup job. He can hit...and at the very least, if his hitting starts to suck, he at least can walk (and doesn't strike out too much).
-2009 Opening Day age listed
-The 2001 sandwich round will be made famous by my list: #34-Bronson Sardinha, #35-J.D. Martin, #37-John Rhinecker, #41-Todd Linden. Not to mention #33-Jeff Mathis and #38-David Wright.
With the acquisition of Josh Willingham and rumors swirling about the Nats wanting Carlos Gonzalez, I can't help but notice that the team has a lot of outfielders. What do they plan on doing with all of them?
-- Pat R., Oakton, Va.
Well...most teams carry 5 outfielders. Either Pena or Kearns will be moved by Opening Day I bet. I'd rather hold on to all 5 (Pena, Kearns, Dukes, Willingham and Milledge). All of them spent time on the DL in 2008 (Milledge played 138 games, Willingham played 102, Kearns played 86, Dukes played 81 and Pena played 64. That's a total of 471, whereas 3 outfielders multiplied by 162 starts a year equals 486, so that might not even be enough depth! Resign Willie and Langerhans!
How do you think Scott Olsen will impact the clubhouse dynamic? He's not known for his cool.
-- Unidentifed Nats fan, Washington, D.C.
FishStripes, a Marlins blog, has (on at least 3 different occasion) stated Scott Olsen has been given an unfair shake in the media, saying things like:
"There are too many comments by his present and former teammates to lead one to believe he his a jerk," (Feb 2008)
"Scott isn't a bad person and actually he is a good kid, warts and all. Just try to find one of the off-season meet the players functions where he isn't there. Olsen made more fan appreciation and charity events scheduled by the team than any other player last season. That alone doesn't qualify you for good kid status, but his teammates state emphatically that he is, and they should know," (Aug 2007)
Do the Nats have a legitimate chance at landing Mark Teixeira, or is it just talk?
-- Chris E., Glendale, Calif.
If they put up the money, they have a legitimate chance. Here was my reasoning that I posted on the comments of MLBTR.com back on Nov 9: "The Nats have some decent up-and-coming prospects. Nothing too amazing, but they could be able to hit .500 this season with him if the right players get healthy and the young guys improve. Tex could go down in history as the guy who turned the Nats from a loser to a winner. Or he could go down in history as the guy who played first base for the Yankees after Jason Giambi." I know it won't necessarily work out that way, but I'd like to think the Nats would be a better fit for him than most teams.
Now that Emilio Bonifacio has been traded to the Marlins for Olsen and Willingham, do you think trading Jon Rauch to the D-backs for Bonifacio was a good trade? The Rauch trade never sat well with me, and I think this confirms the Nationals lost out in the deal.
-- Will R., Rose Haven, Md.
I went back and forth on the deal for a while, but in the end, I don't think it was a good deal. I do think that the deal was salvaged by the Olsen deal. My initial (documented) opinion was kinda non-commital: "My first reaction is that we got a decent player in a position of need. I think we could have gotten more for Rauch (perhaps another low-level prospect), but if this was Rauch's market, I'm happy. I heard rumors of Reid Brignac for Rauch, which would have made me happier, but this is fine." I went back on July 30th and changed my mind: "I tried to rationalize it for a while, but it simply wasn't a great trade for the Nats. Now that being said it could end up being a win for the team, but Rauch is worth more than Bonifacio. They should have (and definitely could have) gotten more than Emilio." One note-Nats Journal commenters ended up voting 61% to 39% in favor of the trade. I know I originally voted in favor. Would be interesting to see Chico run a new poll over there.
I agree with you that the Nats should play the kids. But is there any indication they will? They have a lot of young outfielders and now they have more. No matter how good they are, I don't see a place for Roger Bernadina, Leonard Davis or Justin Maxwell.
-- Garry F., Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Canadian math: Bernadina+Davis+Maxwell>Milledge+Dukes
Uhhh. I think not. Maxwell's always hurt, Davis hasn't proved much above AA so far and Bernadina was awful his first time around in the majors (and only decent his second time there). If we were talking someone of Burgess' talent level that was ready, I would agree. But none of these guys project as starting ML outfielders in my opinion.
What are your thoughts on the new jerseys? Will they amount to more wins in 2009?
-- Michael S., Mount Airy, Md.
As for more wins-does anyone feel like crunching some numbers to see if there is any correlation between getting new uniforms and getting more wins? It would be a coincidence, but an interesting coincidence in my opinion.