First of all, I would be the youngest GM of all time. But that's not important. I'm going to avoid a long intro (I'll save my good introductions for when I actually sit down and write a feature) and cut right to the chase.
There are 25 players on the Nationals' Active Roster, for those who don't know. Out of those 25, 6 should not be: Jesus Colome, Charlie Manning, Willie Harris, Ryan Langerhans, Rob Mackowiak and Ryan Zimmerman. Before you stop reading the post, I named Zimmerman because he needs to go on the DL to get everything (meaning his shoulder) together. It would be retroactive to his last game, 5/25, so he would only have another 8 days before he could return. I will also note that Harris will stay because they need him in the utility spot until Belliard's return, which could be soon.
For those of you who can't figure out how many players are on the Nationals' 40-man roster, I wonder how any people from Philly came across my blog (it's okay, they don't know I'm making fun of them. They can't read sentences that don't include "cheesesteak," "Utley," "E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!" or "f#$%"). But in all seriousness, the capacity of 40 players has been met. For many of my proposed moves (and there are many), a corresponding move must be made. Guys like Langerhans, Sanches, Manning and O'Connor should slip through very easily. Even Johnny Estrada could make it through (but he's on the DL)
Anyways, here is what I think would be best for the Nationals:
To Washington (ML)
1B/3B/OF Kory Casto (from Columbus, already on 40-man roster)
OF Kenny Lofton (FA signing, must be added to 40-man roster)
OF Alex Escobar (from Columbus, must be added to 40-man roster)
SP Garrett Mock (from Columbus, already on 40-man roster)
RP Zech Zinicola (from Harrisburg, must be added to 40-man roster)
RP Chris Schroder (from Columbus, already on 40-man roster)
To Columbus (AAA)
OF Ryan Langerhans (from Washington)
IF/OF Rob Mackowiak (from Washington)
RP Jesus Colome (from Washington)
RP Charlie Manning (from Washington)
RP Brian Sanches (from Washington)
To 15-Day DL
3B Ryan Zimmerman (from Washington)
Outrighted off of the 40-man roster
OF Ryan Langerhans (has been done before)
RP Jesus Colome
RP Charlie Manning
SP Mike O'Connor (has been done before, only if needed)
IF/OF Rob Mackowiak
Okay, to start the defense of some radical moves:
Zimmerman is hurt. He needs to go on the DL. There is no use rushing the franchise player during a season that the team is going nowhere. This is the reason for the Casto move. Boone is hitting, but he's 35 and needs a day off (and a day at 1B) here and there to keep going. Young is hitting .224. Casto didn't hit well (.130) in his stint in our Nation's Capital in 2007, but he certainly deserves another shot for 4 reasons: his age (26), his handedness (hits lefty), his batting average in AAA (.333) and the fact that he had exactly 0 AB's above AA when he made his ML debut.
Out of every 4 games,
Boone gets 2 starts at 3B and 1 at 1B.
Casto gets 2 starts at 3B.
Young gets 3 starts at 1B.
With KKKKK-angerhans and MacKKKKKowiaKKKKK down and Escobar and Lofton up, the outfield would take a different shape. There is little doubt in my mind that Escobar deserves another shot at the Majors after tearing it apart in 2006 (.356/.394/.575). I'm not positive Lofton would accept the role I'm looking to put him in-mentor/4th OF, but he's been unemployed for a few months so he may bite. Someone needs to teach Lastings how to play CF, and I think Lofton can do it. With the OF hitting as poorly as it is, something needs to get in there and shake them up. I'm also willing to keep one of the KKKKK brothers up as a 5th OF/lefty off the bench and send down Dukes if playing time is an issue.
Out of every 5 games,
Milledge gets 3 starts in CF, 1 start in LF
Dukes gets 3 starts in RF
Pena gets 3 starts in LF
Lofton gets 2 starts in CF
Escobar gets 2 starts in RF and 1 in LF
If one of the KKKKK brothers stays and Dukes goes down to AAA, shift 1 of his starts to Lofton, 1 to Escobar and 1 to the remaining KKKKK brother.
This is where a lot of you are going to think I'm crazy. Why call up Mock when we have 5 solid starters? To be honest, we don't have 5 solid starters. We have 4 solid starters: Perez, Lannan, Redding and Bergmann. Then we have one, Shawn Hill, who scares us the night before his starts into thinking he's not pitching the next day and the night after his starts into thinking he's not pitching the next year.
It's time to turn Shawn Hill into a dominant reliever. He's got so many arm problems these days, there is no reason in my mind that we shouldn't turn him into something useful before he throws out his elbow and is out of professional baseball at 30 (see Patterson, John). Look at Hill's career splits. Over his career, he allows a .229/.286/.306 line against him for the first time opposing batters face him in a game. That inflates to .299/.364/.447 the second time around, and baloons to .282/.352/.492 for the third time around and after. Hill is ridiculously good in the first inning he pitches (.191/.248/.200 against) and pedestrian after that (opposing OPS' of .851, .806, .751, .792, .840 in innings 2-6, only 47 career PA against after 6 innings). With Jon Rauch pitching as great as he is, he's going to get dealt to a contender and we're going to need someone to step in to both the closer and set-up roles (trust me, I'm not counting out The Chief). Hill's chances of being something special are significantly better if he is converted into a reliever rather than staying as a starter.
So now that we've established Hill to the bullpen, who do we insert into the rotation? Look no further than the better of the Rizzo Diamondback Boys, Garrett Mock. His numbers are finally starting to match his good stuff (3.31 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 3.5:1 K:BB ratio). He's already on the 40-man roster. Give the kid a shot.
I'm sure you know one of my call-ups, Chris Schroder. He's been up and down 3 times already this year, and is eligible to be brought up immediately assuming Zimmerman is placed on the DL (not a safe assumption in reality, however). The normal 10-day rule that states a player cannot be called up for the first 10 days after being optioned to the minors would not apply (that would coincidentally expire Monday) because Schroder would take the roster spot of a player put on the DL. Positions don't have to match (read more about the rule here) so Schroder gets the call. But he's actually getting the call to replace Brian Sanches. While Sanches has pitched decently well in his time in Washington (3.00 ERA, 6 K in 3 innings), Schroder proved with his stats last year (3.18 ERA, 15 BB, 43 K in 45 and 1/3 IP) that he can handle ML bats on a regular basis, while Sanches' 2007 stats with the Phillies (5.52 ERA, 12 BB, 9 K in 14 and 1/3 innings) proved pretty much nothing to help his case. Sanches should be an injury contingency plan, whereas Schroder should be an ML pitcher in almost all circumstances.
The other reliever who I want to call up is not a familiar face in DC. Zechry Zinicola, a 24 year old righty, was dubbed "on the fast track" for the majors until he was derailed with an average performance in AA last year (5.46 ERA in 57 and 1/3 innings). Now that he's got his walks down (2.84 per 9 innings this year as opposed to 5.62 per 9 last year), he seems to be back on the right track. With 26 K and only 19 hits allowed in his 25 and 1/3 innings split between A and AA ball this year (1.07 ERA!!), I think it's safe to say he deserves his shot in the bigs now. He replaces Colome, another guy who had control problems last year (3.68 BB/9). The difference? Colome's control problems are worse this year (5.70 BB/9, 59% of pitches thrown are strikes). Manny doesn't even trust him anymore, as Colome has thrown 1 inning in the last week. Send Colome down to rest his buttocks (sorry, couldn't resist...link is SFW, no worries) and get a handle on his live arm.
One last point: We don't need a lefty in the pen. Why not? Because none of the lefties we have in ML or AAA can get lefty batters out! O'Connor's career OPS against while facing left-handed hitters is .732. Chico's is .854. I can't find Manning's minor league splits, but seeing him give up homers to Adrian Gonzalez and Jody Gerut makes me want him to never pitch in the Majors again (unless it's against us).
Can Mock be consistant?
Can Lofton teach Milledge CF?
Will any of these players get claimed if waived?
When are we going to FIRE LENNY?!?!?
Let me know if you have any thoughts on the subject.