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Expanded minors report

So I talked to Bob Boone, the guy in charge of player development for the Nationals (who also happens to be scouting for the upcoming June draft, etc.) about a couple of guys yesterday.

One is John Lannan, a lefty for Class A Potomac who was that affiliate's pitcher of the month for April. Lannan is 4-0 with a 2.65 ERA, and Boone said he is a favorite of Nationals pitching coordinator Spin Williams, who has seen him more than Boone has. I'll give Spin a call about him in the future, but Boone said he's a power guy who can place his fastball. He's 22, and would be a candidate to move up to Class AA at some point this season.

Another is Joel Hanrahan, who is much more likely to appear in Washington uniform this summer. "We think he's a major league pitcher," Boone said. Hanrahan is pitching for Class AAA Columbus, where he is 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA. But there are some more impressive numbers over his first four starts: in 21-1/3 innings, he has 22 strikeouts, with just 20 base runners (13 hits, seven walks) allowed in that time. Opposing hitters are hitting .171 against him.

"He's commanding his fastball, a power guy," Boone said. The problem: He's battling something of a groin problem, which has kept him from pitching deep into games. He has pitched more than five innings just once. But he's worth watching. The safe bet is you'll see him at RFK Stadium this summer.

Bad news at Columbus: First baseman Larry Broadway was placed on the disabled list yesterday with a left ankle sprain. This has been a very rough spring for Broadway, who could have been in the majors had he had a tremendous spring training. When he went down, he was hitting just .171 with three homers and nine RBI in 22 games for the Clippers.

Also at Columbus: Right-hander Jason Simontacchi is on the hill tonight vs. Rochester, opposing Twins hot prospect Matt Garza. Simontacchi threw five innings of one-run ball in his first outing for the Clippers after coming back from a groin strain of his own, and he's the logical choice to make the start in Jerome Williams's place next Tuesday in Milwaukee. I'll let you know how he did tomorrow.

The organization gave out its minor league player and pitcher of the month awards the other day. Here they are (and keep in mind these stats are through April 29):

Class AAA Columbus:
RHP Chris Booker - 0-1, 1.93 ERA, 6 saves
3B Tony Batista - .282, 6 2B, 2 HR, 12 RBI

Class AA Harrisburg:
LHP Mike Hinckley - 3-1, 2.45 ERA in four starts
1B Josh Whitesell -- .354, 3 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBI

Class A Potomac:
LHP John Lannan - 3-0, 2.63 ERA in four starts
OF Dee Brown -- .372, 7 2B, 1 HR, 11 RBI

Class A Hagerstown:
RHP Josh Wilkie - 1-1, 1.84 ERA
2B Leonard Daniel -- .298, 7 doubles, 2 HR, 10 RBI

One more note: Chris Marrero, last year's first round pick (along with RHP Colton Willems) is holding his own at Class A Hagerstown, though he's only 18. Through 21 games, he's hitting .296 with two homers, 12 RBI, four doubles and an OPS of .742. The organization really believes in him. Will be interesting if he advances to high-Class A Potomac later in the summer.

And one final thing: The Columbus Clippers currently have this guy, Manny Alexander, who is 36. You might remember him as a major leaguer with the Orioles, among other teams, who was involved in moving Cal Ripken to third base. He was also busted for steroids in 2000. He was signed on April 19. He's currently hitting .143.

He also could be out of a job now that D'Angelo Jimenez has cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Columbus, which happened today. Jimenez has accepted the assignment.

Hope that helps. Will get you lineups from the park when I get there. Will the Nationals win their first series of the year tonight?

By Barry Svrluga  |  May 2, 2007; 3:55 PM ET
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Next: A trade!! Nationals acquire Langerhans



... you reported:

"The Columbus Clippers currently have this guy, Manny Alexander, who is 36. ... busted for steroids in 2000. ... currently hitting .143."

... which clearly begs the question: Why? Why is he in the organisation? Maybe he is in possession of some interesting photos??

Posted by: david f watts | May 2, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Reporting that a Balcomore Oriole was busted for steroids is almost redundant. When referencing former Os, you only need to note the ones who were not connected to 'roids.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | May 2, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

It sure is tough to get a read on how the organization really feels about Hinckley . . .

Posted by: Prospects can be frustrating! | May 2, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

From the AP:
Left field power alley: 377 feet
Left field line: 332 feet
Center: 409 feet
Right field line: 335 feet
Right field power alley: 370 feet

Posted by: The New Park | May 2, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Was the hagerstown pom "mike" daniel or leonard "davis"? "Leonard daniel" appears to be an amalgamation of those two names.

Posted by: Ric | May 2, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Barry, have you done any research on that Fox story that says the Nats organization is all screwed up? It seems like they're trying to overplay a few things, but also that there should be some significant issues there.

Posted by: fox story | May 2, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey, fox story. As I said in the thread below, yes, I've read it. Ken Rosenthal is one of the most respected reporters in the business.

As I said below, we will remain vigilant in reporting on how the transition to new ownership goes, how the franchise is run, etc. Doesn't mean we'll respond directly the next day to a story like Ken's, but we will address lots of issues.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | May 2, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Rosenthal is read closely by other baseball writers and broadcasters. His article will trigger more national coverage of the Nats' problem in the coming weeks. At that point, I predict, the Post will finally come to the plate and ask the tough questions.

Why hasn't the Post tackled the issues exposed in the Rosenthal report?

Many reasons:
1. A staff of nationally-oriented columnists (Wilbon, Wise, Kornheiser, Jenkins) who could care less about the Nats. They write about the Skins because it's the biggest show in town, but the other local teams are of lesser interest to them. They would rather write about teams and developments that get them air time on ESPN, etc. There's little incentive to write about the locals.

2. Tom Boswell, who does writes about the Nats, might as well don the Screech costume when he's in the newsroom. He sees blue skies even when snow is piling up on the doorstep.

3. Our boy Barry is a talented beat writer, but I suspect that he's under some constraints here. He can't rattle the cages too much or he will be frozen out by Nats management. And no stories mean less coverage in the paper, which means no career advancement. I also don't think the Post editors would back him up; they are hardly critical of the Skins either.

4. Washington Post Radio broadcasts the Nats game and the contract was nearly cancelled by Stan Kasten. Is there a conflict here? Perhaps.

5. The Lerners have many, many friends in DC and I suspect that includes some top editors at the Post who are willing to give them a pass -- at least for awhile.

Posted by: swanni | May 2, 2007 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Barry and Fox Story,

... clearly it is a difficult tightrope to walk being assigned to cover a team while wondering how critical you can be about it. That's the beauty of being a fan, especially a fan with a soap box as the Post has provided here. While Barry strains to watch his p's and q's, making sure to dot every i and cross every t, we have the luxury of stating our mind openly and without reservation.

... as one of those fans, I can and will say that when I heard the name Jim Bowden first used in connection with my heart and soul - The (Expos) Nationals, my first reaction was "How the mighty have fallen".

... Ken R. hit the nail squarely on the head when he opened his column by stating one solid fact: a lot of baseball people do not like Jim Bowden ... period. And when you are not liked (even if that dislike is built on falsehoods, which is certainly NOT the case here), you have put the team further behind the eight ball than it needs to be. Jim Bowden has a lot to answer for, and the Nationals will be the eventual loser when those chickens come home to roost.

Posted by: david f watts | May 2, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

The Journal still exists. Who knew? Looked for it a half-dozen times before I found it by accident. The .com technorati are dissing you and Achenbach and you should join forces to make them give you your props or else you will take your ball and go home.

My question: Belliard's current OPS is .711, almost average, and his lifetime is .748. Maybe + for a 2B-SS. You've been raving about how he will strengthen the bench. How is it better to have him on the bench, one at-bat every 2-3 games, while Porky Guzman (lifetime OPS .670) gets 4-5 AB every day? Is Ronnie that useless at 2B?

Posted by: wpc | May 2, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Hey Barry,

I am a big fan of yours but as you might have caught I am disappointed that you and the WP have not done any digging on the state of the Lerner ownership, how they are viewed by their peers and where all the money is going.

I hate to have to read Fox Sports to get any details and quotes about what is going own with the NATS front office.

We can see for ourselves what is going on the field, but we need someone to get us information about the off the field developments. What was reported today by FOXSprots about OUR home team requires OUR home team paper to follow up.

I for one as a Season Ticket holder can see the whole off the field opperation is a mess. The problems at RFK, Ticket Office, Marketing and promotion are clear to us who sit in the stands each night. It is also clear to me that big changes were needed over the MLB ownership. What I can not tell yet is whether or not the Lerners are making good decisions on the changes they are putting in place. They sure do not show in the Fan Experience YET.......

Please get us some perspective on the whole Fox Sports sounds like the Lerners are in over their head and headed in the wrong direction. Tough to say but that is what I see so far from my seat at RFK, the fan experience side of things sucks right now, and is worse than 2005 or 2006. Is it a deep dip or a long term trend?

Posted by: JayB | May 2, 2007 7:32 PM | Report abuse

WPC: In short, Acta said the Nats will play Guzman because of his contract.

Posted by: BrianH | May 2, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

I for one, trust the Learners. Part of that trust is earned by seeing good businesses that they have run in the past (see: tysons corner, one of the most successful shopping areas in the world) and part is because i have no choice but to trust them. They own the team and that's not going to change any time soon. Do i think it is neccissary for an owner to spend money when it comes to helping the team? Yes. However, when an owner and staff tell the fans and the world that they are saving money in order to be able to put a superior product on the field in the future, i think it might be a good idea for them to follow that plan instead of blowing it on Juan "i make everything look better then it actually is" pierre.

Posted by: Nats fan Down Under | May 2, 2007 8:26 PM | Report abuse

... my views about Jim Bowden remain firm, but let's be clear about the overall problems with this team. They stem from a time before the Nationals existed, as Ken R. ought to know.

... in 1994, it was an accepted fact the Expos had the absolute best farm and player development system in the MLB. They pioneered scouting in Latin America and the Dominican training complex Ken mentions in his story was created by the Expos, if memory serves me correctly, and was considered a marvel in international player development. One look around the league today (or a couple of years ago) will reveal a virtual plethora of fine baseball talent that was developed by the Montreal Expos.

... in 1994, the Expos and the Yankees were the jewels in the MLB crown and were destined for the WS. Then came 'the strike'. Much ink has been spilled over the effects that fiasco had on MLB overall, but for the Expos, it marked the beginning of a very long and drawn out end. The infamous fire sale took place at the hands of team president Claude Brochu. And after he was through gutting the admittedly, best team in baseball, he sold it to the new saviours, Jeffrey Loria and his son David Samson, in 1999. The best thing you can say about these silver-tongued devils is they didn't stick around long ... just long enough to play the fans like a fiddle with their new downtown stadium promise, while in the background they syphoned off the cash that should have been used to maintain the team's minor league development.

... as much as it hurts me to say this, the problem with the Expos/Nationals, when they were handed off to the league to administer in 2002, was not all Bud Selig's fault, although I think it must fall on him directly that the team played many 'home' games during their last two seasons, in ... Puerto Rico!

... so Ken is correct when he outlines the situation with the Nationals, as least as far as the now-almost-defunct farm system goes, but that is something MLB inherited from Loria, and simply passed on to the Lerners. Fans ought not point fingers at the present administration too quickly over that aspect of the team.

... end of history.

Posted by: david f watts | May 2, 2007 8:33 PM | Report abuse

To Swanni and anyone else who would like things to change,

I dont know you personnaly so i cant be sure if youve ever actually watched the orioles play. Nor can i tell if youve ever followed Dan Snyder's take on sports ownership. However, this current Nat's ownership seems to be doing the antithesis to both. If nothing else, this could be deemed as intellegent management.

Yes it would be nice if the Lerners threw in some money towards the team this year, however THAT IS NOT WHAT THEY PLANNED TO DO OR SAID THEY WOULD DO!!!!

I dont know how many times this must be pummeled into the ground before people start to realize, WE ARE A BAD TEAM! in every respect. But the PLAN is to try to get better.

Ramon Ortiz was BAD (lead majors in HR allowed) last year, if he'd pitched like this the nats wouldnt have been able to afford him, plus nobody thought he would do this. Also remember that he has plenty of time to regress to the mean and raise his era by 4 points and i'd be happy to bet you that he will. (seriously... 50 bucks says he'll be below the league average by the end of the season)

Juan pierre may be better then logan, who could be as bad as brandon watson, but the point is we dont KNOW for sure yet, and its worth trying to find out. We've seen now that any of the guys in the rotation CAN pitch, and that Hill and Bergmann can do it consistantly. If we can string together 5 guys for the future maybe we'll win something.

However the point is not to win now. We need to rebuild the farm system that once owned such great prospects as all stars grady seizmore and jason bay, not to mention larry walker and vlad guerrero. The best way to do that? DRAFT PICKS, high ones, gotten by losing and letting free agents go. It sucks, but we'll lose and then we'll get better. That's why crappy teams get good picks. Signing big free agents makes you lose picks instead of gaining them.

If you want to argue this more i'd be happy to, but i dont know if the journal is the best spot. I'd be happy to write you an essay on why this COULD work. Can i guarentee it? No, but i'd rather go with something that's worked in the past (see any team who'se done anything close to rebuilding) as opposed to things that have failed locally and miserably in the present (see redskins and O's)

Posted by: Nats fan Down Under | May 2, 2007 8:37 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for the minors report, i live for these things. Glad to see Hinckley is doing well, i always liked that kid. I'd like to see one on how the nats new aquisitions (minor league FAs, trade prospects, draft picks, etc) are doing down in the minors as well.

As always, keep up the good work and thanks!

Posted by: Nats fan Down Under | May 2, 2007 9:00 PM | Report abuse

To the people that are alarmed by the Rosenthal piece... Three things...

First... we all like Barry, and think he's an extremely competent journalist (this is really me, but I think that most people who are regular readers of NationalsJournal would agree), who lives this stuff for six plus months a year... he's there with the team, has access to the players and management, and I think it is safe to assume that if there was something to report, Barry would be reporting it.

Second... there's nothing of substance in that piece that we didn't already know. As for Belliard's bats, or travel reimbursements or per diem, if any of those things had ANYTHING to do with the success of ANY organization, much less the on-field success of a baseball team, then a ton of people wasted money and time getting MBAs. Digruntled old-guard employees quitting because they can't use FedEx? Sounds like a blessing to me.

Third... It's FOX for chissakes!

Posted by: Wigi | May 2, 2007 9:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm beginning to think our friend swanni is one of those disgruntled fired employees....

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

As far as I can tell, the only substantial criticism of Bowden in the Rosenthal piece was this:

"The problem, according to his critics, is Bowden's unpredictable nature. He can be kind and loyal one moment, impulsive and threatening the next."

And I think about the nature of the game and I wonder what it must be like for a player to get traded and still find the fire to go out and play hard to win. Even to someone who gets traded away from a team they like they must play hard for their new team. I suspect Bowden is in a similar situation. Playing the game hard from the GM position. Using intellect, intimidation, and savvy to achieve his ends. So what if that ticks people off? As long as he doesn't tick off current players or the fans.

I guess I'm defending Bowden, which is something I'm not quite sure I'm ready to do. Mainly I want to say that I don't see this FOX piece as all that devistating.

Posted by: i hate walks | May 2, 2007 10:11 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering the same thing. Or an Angelos flunky, or -- Jorge, is that you?? I do wonder whether there's a hidden agenda behind Natgate (Batgate?). Who is Deep Throat (Deep Pockets)?


I'm beginning to think our friend swanni is one of those disgruntled fired employees....

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 3, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I'm a 81-game season ticket holder who's spent nearly $10,000 on this team in the last three years. I think that gives me the right to be impatient and be inquiring.

Posted by: Swanni | May 3, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for being a SUCKER! I mean fan. Continue to pay us your hard earned dollars while we field the best AAA team in MLB and charge you above average prices. You are a great SUCKER! I mean fan. Thanks for pledging your money, I mean Allegiance.

Posted by: Stan Kasten | May 3, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Just stumbled on this. Rosenthal is having a chat about his piece at 1 p.m. today on the Post site.

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 3, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Watts -- don't YOU start with the "begs the question" illiteracy, too. You're a Canadian, d@mmitt--speak English (when you're speaking English).

Posted by: cevans | May 4, 2007 1:25 AM | Report abuse

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