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The List: Favorite Obscure Ex-Nats

Can you believe it? We're already in our fifth season of baseball's return to Washington, which means a couple of things: One, it's time to stop blaming Omar Minaya for the Nationals' woes. And two, nostalgia for the franchise's good old days is officially permitted.

This week on The List, we bring you our Favorite Obscure Ex-Nats, those charming souls who passed through Washington for a cup of coffee or two, then quietly disappeared into the ether. Here are our five picks. Feel free to weigh in on them, or suggest your own:

5. Robert Fick (2006-07). He once made an all-star team (look it up: 2002 with the Tigers) and got 362 plate appearances with the Nationals across two seasons, so he stretches the definition of "obscure." But this laid-back SoCal dude with the sardonic wit and quick-strike temper was a favorite of beat writers, managers, teammates and fans alike.

4. Mike Bacsik (2007). Gregarious, bald and paunchy, this unremarkable lefty might be lost forever to obscurity were it not for one pitch he made on August 7, 2007--a down-the-middle fastball to Barry Bonds that resulted in Bonds's record-breaking 756th career homer. Bacsik's embrace of the moment--he tipped his cap to Bonds as the slugger rounded the bases, visited Bonds in the Giants' clubhouse afterwards to get a bat autographed, and turned his newfound celebrity into semi-regular stints on TV and radio--didn't sit well with some in Washington. But we loved him.

3. Julian Tavarez (2009). This notoriously flaky right-hander, who once claimed he would have been a porn star if he hadn't made it in baseball, produced an early contender for quote of the year after signing with the Nationals late in the spring, comparing the franchise to a "600-pound" woman you try to pick up at last call. But his time in Washington was short, lasting only... Wait--what's that you say? He's still here? Oh, well, let's check back in another month.

2. Matt LeCroy (2006). We'll always remember this good-natured catcher/first baseman with the South Carolina drawl for his ineptitude at both ends of the stolen base: As a baserunner, he holds the distinction of having had 1,388 career at-bats (eighth-most all-time) without stealing a single base. And as a catcher, he was so bad at throwing out baserunners that, following one particularly gruesome game, he literally made Frank Robinson cry.

1.Rick Short (2005). After 11 years in the minors and one more in Japan, he emerged as one of baseball's feel-good stories of 2005, earning, at age 32, a long-awaited promotion to the majors after hitting .400 for two months in Class AAA. He had a pinch-hit RBI single in his debut, and hit homers off John Smoltz and Dontrelle Willis (back when he was still good), but was sold back to Japan after the season, where, at last glance, he still plies his craft for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

By Dave Sheinin  |  April 8, 2009; 9:23 AM ET
 
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Comments

You can head out to Hagerstown to say hi to LeCroy. He's managing the Suns this year.

Posted by: Brian_ | April 8, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Rick Short was the first who came to mind.

If we're gonna include Fick, can we include one of my fave ex-Nat utility guys, Jamey Carroll? Always had time to sign autographs for the kids, played where he was asked to without complaint, and just seemed like an all-around good guy.

How about Tony Batista? There's the batting stance for one, and the fact that he'd visit churches on the when he was paid on the road so as to donate 20 percent of his paycheck to them (pretty cool, IMO).

Joey Eischen was quite colorful, IMO.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 8, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Solid list.

My favorite "obscure" ex-Nat was Joey Eischen. Funny guy, but hated to lose.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 8, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I was just thinking the other day about how much I liked Carlos Baerga.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 8, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Eischen. I once saw him with his wife and kids at the Giant on a rainy night in April or May in 2005 when the game was cancelled.

I was also there the night he landed on his wrist. Reminded me of the Joe Theisman injury it looked so gruesome.

Sec314

Posted by: arlingtontwb | April 8, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Baerga running the bases. Priceless.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 8, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

That's a poor list, Dave.

Those guys aren't obscure.

You want obscure? Try Joe Horgan, Matt White, Matt Cepicky, JJ Davis, Mike Vento, Deivi Cruz -- to name a few.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | April 8, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

If we're talking obscure, how about Joe Horgan, Sunny Kim and Mike Vento?

Yeah, I've put too much thought into this over the years...that's why my fantasy baseball teams are named "the Rick Short Rollers"

Posted by: iishoagie07 | April 8, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Impressive, Uncle_Teddy, you beat me to it!

And Matt White is pretty obscure for a billionaire:
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2007/news/story?id=2783310

Posted by: iishoagie07 | April 8, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Please don't give any more press to Bacsik. He grooved a BP fastball right down the middle of the plate, of course Bonds would hit it out. And then to accept a Bonds' autographed bat? What is he, 5?

I don't know who the "we" are in the "we loved him statement." Most of us could care less about a terrible player who would have rather given up the homerun than strike Bonds out.

Posted by: dclifer | April 8, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Honorable mentions:

Micah Bowie, because he was married on the pitcher's mound between games of a Durham Bulls double-header. Dude.

Nook Logan, for inspiring one of the best...radio calls...ever... (what was he thinking?)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 8, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Henry Mateo. Brought up as a defensive sub, but he couldn't raise his arm above his shoulder!

Posted by: JhonnyBheGhood | April 8, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I was always a Gary Majewski fan. My friends and I had a plan to grow ridiculous facial hair and dress up as the Majewsketeers and go to games, but sadly he was traded before we ever made it.

Posted by: Dntheman1 | April 8, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Jamey Carrol, Melvin Dorta, Nook Logan (same reason as above), Gary Bennett, of course! I'm sure there are others I'm not thinking of at the moment.

Posted by: misschatter | April 8, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Ramon Castro(?), the pitcher who had a near-no-hitter and hit a home run in the same day at RFK.

Posted by: Juan-John | April 8, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Or was it Ramon Ortiz? Can't remember his last name...

Posted by: Juan-John | April 8, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Ortiz.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 8, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I liked Tex, too. Maybe we'll see him with the Phillies at some point this season (right now he's with their AAA affiliate, I think).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 8, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Tony Blanco is my all-time favorite Obscure Nat. But I have some other faves from the 2005 squad - Keith Osik, Wil (Don't Call me Chief) Cordero, Junior Spivey, TJ Tucker, Hector Carrasco, Zach Day, Ryan Drese, John Halama, CJ Nitkowski, Darrell Rasner, Jeffrey Hammonds (the last Nats player to wear No. 11 before the FotF, I believe), Kenny Kelly, and Terrmel Sledge (who hit the first Nats HR). Thiose were the days, my friend...

Posted by: leetee1955 | April 8, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Is someone who started 33 games really obscure?

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | April 8, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Good times, can't believe this is the 5th season! Seems like yesterday I was hoping the Expos would really move.

I have to take Rick Short. Loved that guy. All he did was hit .300 w/ a little power everywhere he went and no one would put him in a lineup. Why we had Robert Fick or Nook Logan get regular at bats but not give Rick Short a long look was one of the bigger mysteries to me. He seemed like a lock to be a very solid utility infielder/outfielder/pinch hitter. I've checked on him over in Japan several times. Keep hoping someone else will give him a chance.

Posted by: Avar | April 8, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

@U_T

If you saw most of those 33 starts, you know that Ortiz deserves obscurity.

Posted by: leetee1955 | April 8, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

In terms of his Nat tenure, Endy Chavez is pretty obscure. I couldn't even remember his name when I was trying to remember, who did we trade to the Phillies for Marlon Byrd?

Posted by: joebleux | April 8, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse


Endy Chavez fame:
Best clutch playoff catch ever!
Still can't believe it.

Posted by: HaikuMan | April 8, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Brandon Watson. I'll never forget his 2-for-5 debut with a double and a homer. I thought he was gonna be great. Sadly, it was his only big league dong, I believe.

Posted by: WrongDog | April 8, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

joebleux, I looked here for a refresher before making my picks:

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teams/washington_nationals.shtml

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 8, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

A couple of pitchers are so obscure their names escape me.
Starter, was once with the Cubs. Went like 0-4, got hurt, never heard from again.
Reliever, Rodriguez? Awful. Went on DL, never heard from again.
I saw Matt White's start.
Wasn't Junior Spivey briefly a Nat?

Posted by: NFBLooser | April 8, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

1a, that's where I made my mistake -- I looked at the 2005 roster on nats.com (the official National's MLB website), and Chavez isn't even listed there. I had to go back to the 2004 roster to find him. Weird.

Posted by: joebleux | April 8, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I liked Terrmel Sledge - they really tried to market him and until he tore his hamstring, I thought he was going to be a nice piece of the Nats of the future. Then they traded him in the offseason and that was that.

Posted by: combedge | April 8, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I'll go for CJ Nitkowski as well. Remember when the Nats first got him, he had a website and responded personally to every fan's message welcoming him to the Nats.

Posted by: BunRabs | April 8, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Oh and did you know that in the span of just over a month, Terrmel was involved in two trades that included Alfonso Soriano, Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Young (the pitcher), and Armando Galarraga?

Thanks baseball-reference!

Posted by: combedge | April 8, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

NFBL:
Jerome Williams and Felix Rodriguez?

I liked Felix. Remember the game where the Mets beaned 5 or 6 of our guys and he hit one of theirs and got tossed?

Spivey was a Nat-we gave up Tomo Ohka for him.

Has anyone said Pedro Astacio yet?

Posted by: iishoagie07 | April 8, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I was thinking Williams was the guy, too.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 8, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Nitkowski's got a blog from the Korean League he plays in now at CJBaseball.com

Posted by: iishoagie07 | April 8, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

How about Damian Jackson? He played just about every infield and outfield position at one point. Didn't he throw a chair in the locker room once?

Posted by: ilikeike | April 8, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"One, it's time to stop blaming Omar Minaya for the Nationals' woes."

Not so much.

You don't like Lastings Milledge in CF. Well it could have been Al MVP candidate Grady Sizemore except for Omar.

Top of the rotation got you down. Nothing that reigning AL Cy young award winner Cliff Lee couldn't fix except for Omar.

Wish for some more production from 2B? How about 20/20 guy Brandon Phillips? Whoops. Omar dealt him too.

Would Jason Bay have been an upgrade in left for the last few years? If you say yes, you have Omar to thank for missing out. But that's small potatoes next to the Lou Collier Experience!

Want the list of MLB players Omar drafted for us?

2002 -- Darrell Rasner, Mike O'Conner and Jason Bergmann.

2003 -- Chad Cordero, Jerry Owens, Kory Casto, Daryl Thompson and Luke Montz

2004 -- Bill Bray and Brett Campbell??? Look him up. He pitched 4 1/3 innings in 2006 for the Nats.

Oh, by the way in case you are wondering if it makes a bit of difference to have an incompetent running your draft, see 2002. Clint Everts 5th overall. Who was 6th? Zach Grienke. 7th? Prince Fielder. How about 17th? Cole Hamels.

How about that brilliant Erik San Pedro pick at #54 in 2004? Care to guess who went back to back at 64 and 65? Hunter Pence and Dustin Pedroia.

In other words, there is precious little to reap in 2009 because nothing of value was sown in 2002-2004. (For those who can't see the connection, imagine an 18 year old drafted in 2002 who's now 25 and in the prime of his career.) And you have to imagine it because there is nothing of the sort in the Nats organization.

All I can say is, thank god he's running the Mets. They are in for a Loooooonnnnngggg dry spell.

Posted by: traderkirk | April 8, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

If you're gonna rail on Omar's drafting record as an Expo, that's fair! What, you think MLB provided him with a huge scouting budget with 20 scouts???

Back in those days, his MLB (i.e. "Money-Loving-Bastards") budgeted scouting was someone who called payphones at High School/College fields. If anyone answered he'd ask "Hey, who's doing good?"

And even then he had to call off-peak.

Of course it was an ex-Expo F.O. guy, Lacava, who wanted to work for more than minimum wage, hired by the Injuns, who got them to ask for Phillips/Sizemore/Lee.

Posted by: VladiHondo | April 8, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Umm...What about Sledge? Wilkerson? Jamey Carrol? Jerome Williams? Royce Clayton? Batista? Henry Blanco? Larry Broadway (used to be the future at 1B, then disappeared)? All these guys should be on the list. Nobody you mentioned is of any interest. Very poor list.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | April 8, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Levale Speigner?

Posted by: JEp1 | April 8, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

How about plus-sized relievers Chris Booker from 2006 and Jonathan Alabladejo from 2007?

Posted by: VaNat | April 8, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Santana Slayer, you mean?

---

Levale Speigner?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 8, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

dclifer, did you watch the Bonds at bat when he hit 756? If you did, you'd know it was like the 7th or 8th pitch of the atbat. Bacsik threw everything he could at Bonds that at bat. He absolutely did not purposely "groove" one down the plate.

Posted by: tboss | April 8, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh come on, who is the only Nat other than Zimmerman to start opening day at 3rd base?

Vinny Castila

I have a commerative upper deck box set for the inaugural season and I only recognize about 7 of the names, who the heck was Sunny Kim?

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | April 8, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

petey, I believe that Kim was a pitcher who got on Frank's bad side.

Vinny's swell, but I wouldn't call him obscure.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 8, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Someone beat me to the Sun Woo Kim punch...let's not forget and my favorite GEORGE LOMBARD! I always wanted to make a whole group called The Lombard Support Section.

youdeaddawg.blogspot.com

Posted by: BergmannonMan | April 8, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Castilla is anything but obscure, he had 320 career HR!

Posted by: iishoagie07 | April 8, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh I thought by obscure we meant in the sense of the contribution/tenure with the Nats, not for their career.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | April 8, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone remember jeffrey hammonds having 32 at bats with the Nats in 2005?

I don't.

Oh and I did love toma ohka, great name but not that obscure

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | April 8, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

found one, Kenny Kelly with only 14 career at bats.

Yes he's real baseball almanac says so:
http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=kellyke01

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | April 8, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

The Tacch

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | April 8, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Who on the 2009 Nats will be on this list in 5 years?

My vote is for Bard or Anderson Hernandez

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | April 8, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I'd guess Hernandez, Nieves, Gonzalez and Terrell Young.

Posted by: iishoagie07 | April 8, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

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