As I said, Kearns has been placed on the DL. He has surgery tomorrow and will be out for 3-4 weeks. Assuming whoever is called up rotates in the outfield with Milledge, Dukes and Pena, here are the pros and cons of everyone we could call up:
Kory Casto (AAA, 26 years old, player page)
Pros: On 40-man roster, 6/14 in first 4 games since return from break in hamate bone (what Zimmerman broke this offseason), "experienced," can play 1B/3B as well.
Cons: Just returned from hamate bone break, can't play CF, 7/54 in ML duty for the Nats last year.
Alex Escobar (AAA, 29 years old, player page)
Pros: Can play all OF positions, hit well in the Majors in 2006 (.356/.394/.575 in 87 AB), hitting .315 in 92 at bats in AAA this year.
Cons: Not on 40-man roster, returned from hamstring injury at the beginning of May, always injured, career .258/.328/.415 hitter, only played in 14 games last year so may not be able to catch up to ML pitching, doesn't run as fast as he used to due to knee/hamstring/leg injuries.
Ryan Langerhans (AAA, 28 years old, player page)
Pros: Excellent fielder, can play all OF positions, hitting .306 in 144 AB this year in AAA
Cons: Not on 40-man roster, you remember last year...(.198/.296/.370 in 162 AB with the Nats...adds up to a .666 OPS...coincidence? I think not), recent hamstring "tweak" (still played tonight), power numbers down this year (isolated slugging of .172 last year with the Nats, .132 this year in AAA)
Mike Daniel (AA, 23 years old, player page)
Pros: Can play all OF positions, hitting .315 in 149 AB in AA. According to NFA: good contact hitter, a little gap power, okay speed and great base-running instincts.
Cons: Not on 40-man roster, no experience above AA, not a whole lot of power, has 2 generic male first names (3 if you include his middle name, John).
Justin Maxwell (AA, 24 years old, player page)
Pros: On 40-man roster, can play all OF positions, local (Sherwood High, UMD alum), tons of potential, proved last year he can hit ML pitching (.269/.296/.500 in 26 AB), patience is way way way up this year (31 BB/27 K as opposed to 50/122 in the minors last year), fast, sexy, etc.
Cons: Not hitting for average this year (.248 in 138 AB), hasn't started since May 17 (NFA suspects either injury or being held out for a call-up), historically old for his level (could lead to some statistical inflation).
Roger Bernadina (AA, 23 years old, player page)
Pros: On 40-man roster, can play all 3 OF positions, fast, hitting .321 in 129 at bats in AA.
Cons: Career minor league line of .255/.340/.370 uninspiring, 2007 line of .259/.338/.356 also uninspiring, little power.
The Verdict: First the disclaimer: the 40-man roster stands at 38 right now, so it shouldn't be a huge deal adding someone to it at this point. I suppose that could still theoretically work against Daniel, but Langerhans and Escobar have both passed waivers at some point, so unless they tear up the majors, they'll probably be able to slip through once again.
Here's how I rank them:
1) Maxwell-Assuming he's healthy and gets semi-regular at-bats. He's our best talent and he's on the 40-man. Why not?
2) Escobar-Assuming he's healthy. Good candidate to pump up value and deal at the deadline. Would have to add to the 40-man.
3) Langerhans-We know what we'll get out of him, so I'd prefer to get more answers from the others. If his hamstring leaves him less than 90%, a definite no. Would have to add to the 40-man.
4) Casto-We don't really need another 1B/3B/corner outfielder since we have Boone, Mackowiak, Pena to cover those. He does deserve another shot in the majors, though, and is still only 26.
5) Daniel-Why start his service time and add him to the 40-man now? He needs a full season (or at least from now till the beginning of August) in AA/AAA at the very least before he's ready to face ML pitching.
6) Bernadina-Looks too much like an Endy Chavez/Nook Logan clone. But he does look like a better fielder at this point. Still too early to start his service time, he needs more than 129 at bats of .321 average to annul his .259 average last year against AA/AAA pitching.
Ideally, I'd like the Nats to send Elijah Dukes down to AAA and call up Justin Maxwell and Alex Escobar. Dukes and Maxwell both have tons of potential, so I'd like to see them flip-flopped. Escobar can spell the new outfield of Pena-Maxwell-Milledge when needed.
UPDATE-5/23, 1:25 AM
Just noticed the Harrisburg Senators (AA) are playing in Connecticut. Might be difficult to get a guy to Washington in time if they don't announce it soon (or if it doesn't leak soon). I wouldn't count out the AA guys but I'd say it's about a 5-10% better chance an AAA guy gets the call now as opposed to before.