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Here come the moves

So this just dropped in from the Nationals:

"The Washington Nationals today reinstated left-handed pitcher Mike O'Connor from the 60-Day Disabled List and optioned him to Harrisburg of the Double-A Eastern League. To make room for O'Connor on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Ryan Wagner was transferred from the 15-Day DL to the 60-Day DL. Nationals Vice President/General Manager Jim Bowden made the announcement.

O'Connor made two rehabilitation starts for Harrisburg last week, tossing 3.0 innings of one-run ball June 10 vs. Altoona (Pirates) and 4.0 innings of one-run ball Friday vs. Binghamton (Mets). He combined to strike out seven and walk two. The 26-year-old began the year on the 15-Day DL after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow November 7, 2006, when a small cartilage defect was discovered.

O'Connor went 3-8 with a 4.80 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) for the Nationals in 2006. He was one of eight National League rookies who made at least 20 starts.

Wagner had season-ending surgery on his right shoulder June 5, when Dr. James Andrews repaired torn labrum in the shoulder. The 24-year-old went 0-2 with a 5.74 ERA in 14 appearances before going on the 15-Day DL May 8, retroactive to May 7, with right rotator cuff inflammation."

What it means: O'Connor's rehab is going well. But it doesn't necessarily mean he's in the majors in a couple weeks. Because he had options left, he can remain on the 40-man roster and be sent to the minors, which is what happened today.

The other guys on rehab assignments -- Patterson, Bergmann and Williams -- all have 30 days to complete their rehab. Then, they must be either placed on the 25-man roster or sent to the minors. Bergmann has options remaining to be sent to the minors; Patterson and Williams do not, I believe. Still, this should all work itself out based on the health and performance of the players. As Jim Bowden is fond of saying, "Players make the decisions." That makes sense.

Nick Johnson running sprints in the outfield. I really wish there was a better way to gauge when this guy's going to be ready, but it's just impossible. He can hit now, but he can't do the necessary things in teh field to be able to play first base. As Manny Acta said the other day, "This is not the American League." He can't DH. He has to play. And as Nick said, "I don't want to just be out there." He wants to be himself.

Still, it's frustrating. The team is on a 21-14 run with its most polished hitter on the shelf. One wonders whether that run can be sustained -- especially with Detroit and Cleveland coming to town.

One more note: Washington's record last year after 69 games was 30-39. That's the same as this year. Historically bad? I guess not.

Here's the Nationals lineup tonight:

Guzman -- 6
Lopez -- 4
Zimmerman -- 5
Young -- 3
Kearns -- 9
Church -- 7
Schneider -- 2
Logan -- 8
Chico -- 1

Battle of lefties, with Mike Maroth going for the Tigers. Did anyone see Nook Logan's right-handed at-bats against Roy Halladay the other night? Yikes. Going to ask him about that today. He's facing his old 'mates, too, as is Dmitri Young.

See you out here.

By Barry Svrluga  |  June 18, 2007; 2:29 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Nationals and Fragility (with "Where's The Podcast?" explanation)
Next: Three former Tigers, three different stories


What are the Nats going to do with all the pitchers they have once the injured guys come off the DL? I guess the timing couldn't be better...healthy pitchers back in time for the trade deadline...

Posted by: Wigi | June 18, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Next few days are really gonna be rough. Chico and company are really gonna be tested.

Hope springs eternal.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 18, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I've been watching Nook and as much as I enjoy his base running, something about him makes me think of a ball player that just doesn't have his head in the game. Still prefer Ryan Langerhans and would like to see him lead off for a few games. He seems to have a good eye and nobody else seems to want to lead off.

My lineup would be:

Langerhans -- 8
Guzman -- 6
Lopez -- 4
Young -- 3
Zimmerman -- 5
Kearns -- 9
Church -- 7
Schneider -- 2
Chico -- 1

I think everyone would hit better.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 18, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I am not sure that I would hit Langerhans first, but you gotta admit, Langerhans for Snelling was a heck of a trade.

Posted by: Wigi | June 18, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

At the time, I wasn't too happy because I didn't think Snelling got a fair shot, but Langerhans has impressed me with his defense and baserunning. Plus, he's bringing his average up (had no place else to go)and I think he's gonna be okay.

Posted by: Dancer13 | June 18, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

"He can hit now, but he can't do the necessary things in teh field to be able to play first base."

Barry, you wrote "teh!" You blogging master!

Dancer13, How much would you expect Lopez to improve, hitting between Guzman and Young? If Guzman's continues to struggle in the leadoff spot, why not try Langerhans? You could keep Zimm hitting 3rd and drop Lopez to 7th.

BTW, Barry, does Manny Acta consider radical lineup changes or just tweaks? I recall Frank Robinson's bench coach, Eddie Rodriguez, saying he saw lineup cards in his dreams.

Posted by: BrianH | June 18, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Barry, I often wonder this during the chats and when reading your daily gamer, notebook, supplemental pieces in the 35 cent version, and Journal postings-- how many WPM do you type? And, related question-- how many cups of coffee per day?

Thanks as ever for the fan-friggin-tastic coverage. Last night's column in particular was a gem. And a shout out to all my "Barry's blog" companions whose added insights keep me company throughout the workday. :)

Posted by: JennX | June 18, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

When they went 1-3 against the Twinkies, they then swept the O's.

Seeing as they went 1-3 against the Blue Jays, heck, doesn't karma dictate that they sweep Detroit?

Okay, maybe karma laced with some really good North African hashish... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | June 18, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Not to happy about Logan being in the line-up instead of Langerhans...But I guess its out of respect since we are playing his ol team but still I wish we could just end the Nook Logan experiment!!

Posted by: Marcus | June 18, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Nook Logan seems to be a talented ahtlete with little or no understanding of baseball's small points. He also may have no batting eye. Like the time he was caught off second base for no good reason a month ago. He seems to sport a puzzled look on his face much of the time, particularly after watching called third strikes. But he sure does cover center field.

Posted by: JohnR(VA) | June 18, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I agree. I really think that Logan has proven that he just can't hit. We've tried it and it's just not working. As for Langerhans, he is getting better with the bat and is no longer an automatic out and we can't say that for Logan. Plus, he's a good baserunner, he can steal a base or two and is great in the outfield. He's a much better asset to the team than Logan, IMO.

The pitching situation is getting interesting. Once we have all (or most) of our guys back, I do wonder what the team will do. I can't imagine they'd bench Bowie, he's been good and the team has won everyone of his starts. As the others, I would bench them and send the down, if and only if our starters are back to form.

As for this series (and the next), I'm just praying the Nats don't get swept in both. One win in each, that's all I ask, just like when the Padres and Dodgers were here and the pitchers we'll be facing won't be nearly as good for the most part. Unfortunately we'll be dealing with much stronger offenses than either LA or San Diego and I don't think ours can quite match up. Guess we'll see.


Posted by: Anthony D. Langford | June 18, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Me thinks they were 2-1 agsinst the Twinkies, so, how about 2-1 against the cat nappers.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | June 18, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Crap, yer right, SC Nats Fan. Shame on me for such a short memory... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | June 18, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

The first move is easy. Mike Bascik, bless his heart, is not a major league pitcher. The second one may be harder. Levale Speigner is not a major league pitcher right now & starting may not be helping his development. The question is do you bail on him completely & maybe lose him (Rule 5), or keep him on the roster & send down someone else who may be more helpful. Given the "Plan" I'd guess Abreu is gone, unless there's a trade. Ray King needs to keep working so he can be traded. Right now his market value is depressed.

Posted by: Section 418 | June 18, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I think the first pitcher to go when a healthy one comes back is Bacsik...if Ayala comes back first, Id think either Traber or Abreu get sent back to Columbus.

Posted by: Andrew Stebbins | June 18, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Once the "regulars" return:

King will be dealt before the deadline. Every contender can use a veteran lefty in the bullpen even if he is struggling right now.

Bacsik will be sent down/released. Agree with Sec 418. Bacsik is not a major league pitcher.

Abreu will also be sent down.

Bergmann and Patterson will be activated shortly. Speigner will be kept but moved back to the bullpen where he belongs. Hill is still a few weeks away.

SP (in no particular order):
John Patterson
Jason Bergmann
Matt Chico
Jason Simontacchi
Micah Bowie

Levale Speigner
Saul Rivera
Billy Traber
Jesus Colome
Luis Ayala
Jon Rauch
Chad Cordero

Come end of July/early August, you can count on JPat and/or one more starter and maybe 1-2 relievers to get hurt. Just in time for Shawn Hill to come back from rehab. Mike O'Connor will stay in the minors until he can replace one of the other injured starters. I don't think we'll see Jerome Williams again (unless more injuries occur in the next 30 days).

Posted by: e | June 18, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Lots of sentiment for releasing Bacsik before doing anything with Speigner.

I'm not prepared to argue that Bacsik's ready, or ever will be, to contribute long-term to an MLB rotation. But he has shown he can eat innings and can protect younger arms like Speigner's. That'll be tough to recreate if he's just let go.

As for Speig, get him back to the pen as soon as a rehabbed pitcher comes back, before he loses all confidence. The rest of the future looks murkier, but that is a slam dunk.

Posted by: Hendo | June 18, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully Nook can get it going -- his waving attempts at contact have been reminding me of how Brandon Watson was looking just before they gave up on him last year.

A few more weak efforts like that and I wonder if Brandon gets another chance.

Posted by: Chevy Chase Fan | June 18, 2007 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I just don't think that Nook (willie mays hayes) Logan is a solid everyday starter, cept maybe at Columbus. Not sure about Watson either. He had a look, and perhaps deserves September. J Pat needs more than 1 or 2 good starts a season. Perhaps expectations from 2005 were a bit much for him. His mindset just doesn't project to a #1 starter. Maybe a 4 or 5. Don't think we can expect the Mashionals pitching of late to be able to keep up the quality innings they've shown thus far. I hope I'm wrong, we'll see. Once the trades happen before 7/31, I'd expect a bit of a downturn in this season. Remember, the future of this club isn't about 2007, or probably 2008, but 2009 and beyond. What say ye

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | June 18, 2007 6:45 PM | Report abuse

If I weren't convinced that Nook is a liability to this team, I would be now. I knew, absolutely knew, that he would hit into a double play and bring and end into what should have been a big inning for the Nats. Can we end this platoon thing and put Langerhans out there now?

Posted by: Anthony D. Langford | June 18, 2007 7:51 PM | Report abuse

... just in from the airport and discovered "9 - 1" Yikes!! But hey, the Nats are not a good team ... yet. We all know that. There are a few markers which define that truth; two are:

1/ lack of consistency: 1-3 against Minny, then 3-0 against Baltimore, follwed by 1-3 up here north of 48. We'll get better as we get to be more consistent and predictable.

2/ confusion which reigns supreme even when good things happen: We are all looking forward to the return of a couple of good arms, yet that very anticipation is tempered by the nagging doubt that it will mean an upswing in te team's fortunes, and the undeniable fact that even these returns can throw things into a turmoil, requiring more work from Manny and Randy to get back to an even albeit tenuous keel.

... good to back home with youse'all.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 18, 2007 8:47 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree with everyone calling for the end of the LangerLogan experiment. Logan is hitting an abysmal .215, and I know Langerhans is hitting .172 but he is .236 so far as a national. His 12 RBIs are good for 8th on the team, ahead of Guzie even. And his bat is definitely waking up, all three of his HRs were to straight away center. He has also shown that his CF range is just as good, which is the only reason we really stuck with Logan.

Let the comeback begin...

Posted by: natsinthevalley | June 18, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

You always be happy the Nats are not the Orioles. . .

Posted by: Tom | June 18, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Nookie has had an entire career to prove that he's just intriguing enough to stay on the roster of a bad team. Nothing but potential. Too bad he's not young. Batting average-nope. OBP-not really. Power-joke, right?. Bunting skill-uh, ugly. Defense-as long as it's not hit in front of him. Speed-yep. Baserunning-not so hot. Sort of have to give Bowsten a nod for giving him a long trial, not giving up on him like Sledge. I can't imagine that Manny will want to keep a bad player with a weak brain around this bunch of hard workers as the moves between now and the trading deadline get done. Not that anyone will take him, just that it's a chance to rework the roster a bit.

Posted by: Geezer | June 18, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

... I don't retract my earlier statement about the Nats as a 'bad' team, but I will add quckly that teams such as this year's Nats are exciting and thrilling to watch because of the very fact of their inconsistency and predictability.

... it's "9 - 8". GO NATS!!!

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 18, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh Meat-Hook, Meat-Hook, Meat-hook, WHY did ya swing at that ball???

That strikeout's gonna be eating at him for a while.

Posted by: Juan-John | June 18, 2007 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Well, damn. Can't fight back much harder than that. We'll get 'em tomorrow.

Posted by: Hendo | June 18, 2007 10:04 PM | Report abuse

WAH! That's what the term "heart-breaker" was invented for.

Posted by: JennX | June 18, 2007 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Still and all...I turned Gameday off after the 5th. Thank GAWD I turned it back on. Can you BELIEVE these guys??? Held them runless the last 4 innings and scored themselves 7 runs! Wahoo!! Way to stay hard in the game boys!! It would have been so easy to give up when it was 9-1. Man o man. I feel just as good as if we HAD won.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 18, 2007 10:13 PM | Report abuse

and I'm sure Nook is a swell guy, and he can't help that look on his face, but he cost us at least 2 runs tonight, maybe 3.

Posted by: cevans | June 18, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Those are some very scrappy guys, which is why I love 'em. I'm very proud of Deez Nats tonite for coming almost all the way back. As Hendo says, we'll get 'em tomorrow.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 18, 2007 10:22 PM | Report abuse

scrappy is exactly right. way to fight, boys. i'm still shaking.

Posted by: gretchen | June 18, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Send down Nook and give Brandon Watson another shot? He's earned it and the hitting streak is over so they would not be interrupting. And Nook could learn to hit righties right-handed in the minors instead of the majors. I like Nook, but I think it might be the right move at the right time.

Posted by: NatBisquit | June 18, 2007 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Man, if not for a couple of boneheaded plays early on, the Nats would have this game. I really, really want Nook "Automatic Out" Logan to work out, but I'm with everyone calling for him to be moved anywhere else. Thanks to a superior lesson from all of you, I understand that the point of the 8th batter is to make sure the pitcher is never the first batter up in the next inning and Logan is even failing at that job.

Sad to see Chico get so roughed up tonight, I hope it doesn't get to him. We can't have a loss of confidence now!

Also, how about some terrible calls tonight? Is there any stat on bad calls that anyone keeps? I'm feeling like there's at least one big bad break every game, but maybe that's because it's my team. Still, umps have been known to give the benefit of the doubt to the better player. Any thoughts?

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 18, 2007 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Somewhere on the net, there is a video of Nook going thru picture day in Viera. I'm sure most of you saw it. He didn't strike me as having a lot on the ball even then. Yeah, I know it's easy to look back now. 20-20 hindsight and all, but still...He misplayed that ball in the first inning. You can't give extra outs, it always comes back to bite you. Can Torri Hunter hit the FA market soon eneough?

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | June 18, 2007 11:48 PM | Report abuse

And how about Lopez? About a week ago I was seeing him as an easier out than the pitcher. Now, it's good to see him actually getting some hits.

And I'll echo what was said above. If they gotta lose, ain't no shame in losing like this. I'll be there Tuesday night.

Posted by: Juan-John | June 19, 2007 12:07 AM | Report abuse

It wasn't just Nook last night.

Church's throw to Schneider from left was way off line, and Schneider had to do a jiu-jitsu move to swipe at the runner coming in from third. I think the ump gave the runner the call because he figured there was no way Schneider could do what he did with that errant throw--tag the guy out. The throws from the outfield by Kearns and Church are generally in the direction of home plate, but rarely on target. Schneider has no idea what he'll be getting. I would like to see outfielders with accurate arms.

Then there's Guzman, taking himself out by running to third on a hit to the SS. There were two or three gift runs presented to the Tigers last evening, and they said "thank you." This sort of mindless baseball put on display all too frequently by a number of the Nats is troubling.

Posted by: JohnR (VA) | June 19, 2007 7:18 AM | Report abuse

They didn't start their comeback last night until I left the office. I suppose that should tell me something. I've seen too much work lately and not enough Nats. While I've been distracted Barry has become teh real blogger. Sweet.

I'm not ready to argue for or against Bacsik, and if people were completing their rehab stints today I'd keep Speigner but put him back in the pen ... but it seems to me that Winston Abreu should go. The only thing I can say for him is that he doesn't walk a lot of hitters.

I've gotta say, I love the kibitzing in this group ;)

Posted by: i hate walks | June 19, 2007 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Nice gamer, Barry. No punches pulled, as usual, as we expect and appreciate.

Re Watson: Sorry, NatBisquit, but I'm not sold on Watson. Behind that batting average and hitting streak are little patience and less power (arguably nil). I'd rather see Langerhans get more CF time.

The gift runs were troublesome but not panic-inducing. When mistakes crop up, blowouts happen -- and last night was not a blowout. Dispassionate analysis will measure whether these muffs were aberrations or chronic risks.

I'd be far more troubled if I were a fan of a team riddled with bullpen woes that fired its manager and then promoted its bullpen coach to the helm. (On the bright side, hope of an MLB skippership springs eternal for guys like Mark Gardner, Joe Kerrigan and Lester Strode.)

Posted by: Hendo | June 19, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Last night notwithstanding I think I'd send Traber down before Abreu. The couple times I've seen him put in, it took maybe a handful of ugly pitches (read: hits, 4-pitch walks) before he was yanked back out again.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 19, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Clarification: I'm not calling for Watson to start. Langerhans absolutely should be the starter. I just think Nook needs to go down and Watson has earned a shot at being the backup. I'd say Escobar, but that would only last a week until he got hurt so why not go straight to Watson. (This is more cynical than I really like to be, but seriously Alex Escobar is more prone to injury than Gerald Ford (enter Chevy Chase stage right)).

Posted by: NatBisquit | June 19, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

While I'm managing the roster here I would send down Abreu and, Bakslic(sp) when the next two pitchers get healthy (Patterson and Bergmann?). When the third (Williams?)is ready you send down Traber and move Bowie back to the bullpen (he's been great) and use him and Speigner as long/middle relievers. When we have a glut of qualified starting pitchers in mid July (seriously, the Nats could have a glut - think about it!) you trade a couple for whatever you can get (A level prospects?).

Posted by: NatBisquit | June 19, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Hendo, the Os could get CHANCE the Gardener, NANCY Kerrigan, and WOODY Strode, and it would be an improvement. Who was it called the (Johnny Oates) Orioles "the most passive-aggressive bunch of people I ever saw" or words to that effect? It was one of the players ...

Posted by: Willie Gandebol | June 19, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

there's no point in sending Nook down and bringing Watson up so he can platoon with Langerhans. Both Langerhans and Watson are left-handed batters. I'm guessing the Nats are waiting until Alex Escobar is healthy enough so he can be platooned with Langerhans.

Posted by: e | June 19, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Here's a point to platooning Langerhans and Watson: Watson can hit. Both sides of the plate. Instead of neither side of the plate. Then, later in the game, put in Langerhans to catch the ball. He's not much worse than Logan With Head In the Game and a lot better than Logan Backing Up When Ball Is In Front of Him.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 19, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I would ditto the Escobar/Langerhans platoon idea. If Esco could somehow overcome his prone to injury, he might be the answer. He has so much talent, it's a shame his body won't let him display it for more than a minute.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | June 19, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Boy, we're quick to vilify Logan. It wasn't THAT long ago he was hitting pretty good right-handed. I agree he hasn't taken off like expected, but there are others who have been in worse slumps this year without a peep about it.
That said. What IS the story on Escobar?

Posted by: NatsNut | June 19, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse


How about a cheer for Manny arguing a call last night? Okay, maybe not "arguing", but at least standing up and having a friendly chat with the Ump

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 19, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Hey Barry,

In this morning's Post ($.35) you failed to list when and where Patterson is pitching next. Did you forget about him? (ignore him and maybe he'll go away?) If he is pitching for the P-Nats, I want to go and see him, but I need to know when. Please tell us. Thanks.

Posted by: gilsfan | June 19, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

One of the OPs (other papers) said that Patterson would pitch on Thursday for the P-Nats.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 19, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

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