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The future of Flores and Schneider -- and Bergmann to the D.L.

Well, Friday morning in Manhattan, a couple hours before taking the 7 train out to Flushing, and a bit of time to kill while waiting on a Dmitri Young announcement - which, as I said yesterday, I'm not sure will come today. I am, however, sure that they have agreed to the extension at least in principal. I really don't know what the hold-up is. Nats are not big talkers when it comes to deals - until afterward.

Here's your (predictable) announcement on the pitching staff, straight from the Nats a bit ago:

The Washington Nationals today placed right-handed pitcher Jason Bergmann on the 15-Day Disabled List, retroactive to July 25, with left hamstring tightness. Tomorrow, the Nationals are expected to recall right-handed pitcher Joel Hanrahan from Columbus of the Triple-A International League. Nationals Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden made the announcement.

Hanrahan is currently 5-4 with a 3.70 ERA (31 ER/75.1 IP) in 15 starts with Columbus . The 25 year-old leads the Clippers with 71 strikeouts, has fanned 8.5 International League batters per 9.0 innings pitched, and has posted a stingy .226 (65-for-188) batting average against this season. Hanrahan, who has never pitched in the big leagues, signed with the Nationals as a minor-league free agent on November 6, 2006. He was originally the Dodgers' second-round selection in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.

Bergmann, 25, is 2-5 with a 4.56 ERA in 14 starts with Washington this season. He last pitched on July 25 at Philadelphia , but was removed in the third inning due to the left hamstring injury.

Me again: So your rotation against the Mets looks like this: Bacsik on Friday, Redding and Hanrahan on Saturday, Traber on Sunday. Roll that one around in your mind a couple of times.

Lot of discussion about Hunter Wendelstedt yesterday, which isn't that surprising. But as interesting as I thought Wendelstedt's comments were in the gamer - "My hands were tied," he said (thanks to mlb.com's Bill Ladson for serving as a pool reporter when none of the Philly guys were available - I continue to think Manny Acta's comments about ejections are equally interesting. I know some people thought Acta had to get ejected there as a way of showing support for his team. Manny disagrees. "I didn't win the battle," he said.

They did, however, win the game. And coming off of Wednesday's debacle - man, did Church and Langerhans feel bad about that one - they needed to.

The most significant thing, nationally, to come out of yesterday's game was Chase Utley breaking his hand. The craziest thing was John Lannan's ejection in his major league debut. The big story of the day for the Nationals was the pursuit of the Dmitri Young extension.

But really, maybe what everybody should be talking about this morning is Jesus Flores. Not just what I wrote about in the notebook, a topic that is well worth pursuing in a longer story. But specifically - and I'm never going to stop harping on this theme - if this year is about the future, about building a winner in 2009, 2010 and beyond, who is the catcher over the next few years?

I happen to be a guy who buys into Brian Schneider's value. When the pitching staff gives him a chance, he is among the best in the business at throwing out runners. Philadelphia's Michael Bourn had stolen all 16 of his attempts until Schneider threw him out the other day, and he also threw out Jimmy Rollins in the same game. Both throws were in the only spot you could put the ball if you wanted to retire the guy.

I also happen to be a guy who buys into Schneider's value to this pitching staff. When Livan Hernandez and Tony Armas and some other stubborn, set-in-their-ways guys were around, Schneider wasn't so much calling his own game as guessing what his pitcher wanted to throw in spots. Frank Robinson used to second-guess his game-calling, and I think that rattled Schneider some. Acta doesn't do that, and Schneider is taking these guys by the hand and leading them along. The young pitchers may not know it, but he's sometimes using one pitch to set up the next, or a pitch in one at-bat to set up one in the next at-bat. The point is, he's 30 years old, has played in parts of eight major league seasons, has appeared in 712 games. He is no longer a young up-and-comer. This is what he is, a very solid defensive catcher who hasn't developed into the consistent .270 hitter they thought he might be (a very sub-par .229 this year, .253 in his career).

The team had no problem going along with Schneider as the starting catcher for the next two years. He's signed through 2009, making $3.5 million this year and $4.9 million in both 2008 and '09. Not a huge contract, but decent money.

So what to do with Flores? There are people within the organization who believe he could be an everyday catcher as soon as next year. In spring training, on the face of it, I would have thought that was crazy. But I would say this even if he hadn't hit that three-run homer yesterday: He has impressed at every step. He has not looked over-matched in his at-bats. He has played well defensively. And he has done it while getting only one or two starts a week, a very difficult role to handle, one usually reserved for veterans.

Flores played 120 games last year in Class A with the Mets, and he hit .264 with 21 homers and 69 RBI. Decent numbers. But could you expect him to hit .264 - as he is now - in the majors. He has just 101 at-bats spread out over 101 games.

The question: Do you send Flores to the minors next year just so he can play every day, so he can truly develop, even if you think he's ready, even if he has shown he can be a very good backup catcher? Do you keep him in the same role behind Schneider? Do you make them a straight platoon, giving Schneider the starts against right-handers and Flores the starts against lefties?

Discuss, if you're so inclined.

One more tidbit: Mets lefty Tom Glavine is at 299 career wins, but he won't start any of the four games over the weekend against the Nationals. This creates a bit of a problem for Nationals President Stan Kasten, who has made a vow to be at Glavine's 300th win. He made the same vow to Greg Maddux, who also pitched for him with the Braves, and he kept it, though it took a couple of starts.

Glavine's next start will be Tuesday in Milwaukee. Tuesday also happens to be the trade deadline. I asked Kasten yesterday if he was still planning to go, and he said it was up in the air. The trade deadline's at 4 p.m., and it's possible we could get past it, he could talk to us idiot beat writers for a few moments about what they did or didn't do, and then catch a non-stop flight from National to Milwaukee in time for the start. Lotta loyalty from Stan to his old war horses on the Braves. Maybe some day he'll be pushing a walker up a ramp somewhere to watch John Lannan win his 300th game. Only 300 to go!

Talk to you from Queens.


By Barry Svrluga  |  July 27, 2007; 11:05 AM ET
 
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Comments

joebleux -

Do you have any more details of the "Jesus, framing too long story?" If he was doing that, it is a quick way to an ump's dog house. Who was the umpire? Did you see it enough to judge whether Jesus was guilty or was it an umpire being a jerk? I agree a warning would be more appropriate in that situation, but umps usually choose to squeeze the pitcher to make their point. It gives them a sense of power.

Hendo -

I'd love to hear your take on pitch counts, pace of play, and the health of pitcher's arms. My sense is that you and I share some similar feelings on it.

natsfanla -

I didn't mean to "label" anyone. Sorry if you took offense.

Posted by: #4 | July 27, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

#4: Sorry, I can't remember the exact game. I know either Don or Bob commented on it. Jesus was definitely "guilty" of it, though. He still does it a little bit too much (for a rookie).

Not condoning the umpire's attitude, but that's reality in the big leagues, and Jesus will have to adjust to it (and I'm sure he will).

Posted by: joebleux | July 27, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

"Discuss, if you're so inclined."


Riiiiiight ;)

I'm a huge Schneider fan and I have been since the Nats came to DC. I've also been impressed by Flores since spring training and I think it is awesome that we have a solid second catcher. That's a key element on a winning team.

The tough question in my mind is this: how much work (how many at bats) does he need to stay sharp and grow? Will he be able to get that up in the bigs? Will the value of working alongside Schneider be worth having fewer at bats? What of the value to Flores spending time with the pitchers who will wear our AAA uniforms next year? Presumably several of those guys will be pitching to Flores when the pennant/league/series is on the line.

I'm already saving up for a Flores jersey to platoon with my Schneider jersey.

Posted by: i hate walks | July 27, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Nice post Barry. I was thinking along the same lines after yesterdays game. While the focus seems to be on the Dmitri v. Nick question - the more immediate concern seems to be Flores and Schneider. I'm a big fan of Schneider and a firm believer that having a catcher who can handle pitchers adeptly (especially) young pitchers is mroe improtant than having a catcher who hits 20 HRs. That said, I think Flores has earned more of a look. I don't think it is even a question of what to do next year just yet - I think we need to see what he can do this year.

It makes for a tough call for Acta. Given the pitching staff he has to roll out there right now - I'd want Schneider behind the plate every night too. But how long can you keep Flores's bat on the bench?

Posted by: lowcountrynatsfan | July 27, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Me thinks Flores to AAA next year. That seems to make the most sense. Schneider handles the staff to well not to be the starter. Get another catcher via FA to back up Schneider in 08. Still haven't read anywhere about Lannan going back to AAA or not. I think he should get another shot. Perhaps he'll serve up number 756 to Bonds...YIKES...did I say that!!

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | July 27, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I've been very disappointed with the amount of playing time Flores has gotten this season. He's been solid when he starts, and Schneider needs more frequent days off, in my opinion. It's not a rap on Brian to want to keep him fresher and not grind him down over the long season.

We have a young, talented guy who has proved through his play on the field that he deserves more time. I have to say that Manny's conservatism here is irking me.

Posted by: tomterp | July 27, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I think Schneider should play a role with Flores like Joe Girardi did for Jorge Posada on the late-'90s Yankees. Jorge basically learned from Girardi on the job in '97 (appearing in 60 games), taking over as the virtual starter in '98 and '99 with still a good dose of Girardi (who caught 60-ish games in those two years). Girardi was a couple years older then than Schneider is now. But to me, it seems pretty clear that Schneider (as much as I like him) isn't the future catcher - that looks like Flores - if so, maybe you shuffle him in as the most-time starter next year, with Schneider platooning, catching one game out of three. I'd also listen to trade offers for Schneider, if his bat doesn't make him untradeable.

Posted by: Marc | July 27, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

SC - then maybe he will bean Bonds the next time he comes to the plate ;)


YIKES ... did I say THAT?!

Posted by: i hate walks | July 27, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

SC - then maybe he will bean Bonds the next time he comes to the plate ;)


YIKES ... did I say THAT?!

(I'm only kidding -- just because one guy is an unsportsmanlike jerk doesn't make it okay for someone else to be that way)

Posted by: i hate walks | July 27, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Hadn't thought about that. Great point.

-----

What of the value to Flores spending time with the pitchers who will wear our AAA uniforms next year?

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 27, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

... well now we know, the voice of the fans can be heard - an important lesson to learn and remember in the future. Both Ronnie and Dmitri are secured in curly W caps, and I'm happy about that.

... now therefore, I would say to JimBow that any deal which he can make now which improves the team is fine with me - and that includes Church, Johnson, Kearns, Lopez, Bergmann, Hill, or anyone out of the pen including Cordero. (Please hang onto Chico and Flores however.)

... when I look at the team now, I see a team which will have a very intense spring next year where a whole bunch of double- and triple-A guys will seriously vie for any number of positions. And who knows who might be a walk-on find (like Young and Belliard were)?. A couple of hot-shot rookies, one or two credible pick-ups, with Ronnie, Dmitri, Zimm and Chico as a solid core. It will be a good time for the team and we'll look pretty good coming north next year.

... so right now, any trade should be simplistic, possibly on a minor scale, and nothing of any risk.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | July 27, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Why not a different sort of platoon? Give Schneider the three pitchers that need the most help on pitch calls and Flores the two that need the least.

The way Schneider (reportedly) jumped out to take on the Phillies crowds throwing things at Lannan is more proof on how the team needs him. We talk about Zimmerman, Kearns, and Lopez as leaders (or failed leaders), but of the big four promoted as the pivots of the team in Spring Training, Schneider is the one that's really taken on the roll of leading.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | July 27, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Flores:

... after noting Barry's comments about the value of Schneider - all of which I agree with - I would ask: why would you not keep Jesus up here where he can learn and absorb Schneider's influence first-hand?

... for me, it's a no-brainer. Keep them both on the big team, and let Jesus work himself into a platoon situation next year, reducing the stress on the 30-year old Brian and leading him towards a coaching role, while keeping Jesus where he can learn while doing. If he needs more playing time, give it to him in the bigs.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | July 27, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"Leading 7-5, the Nationals still had to survive Chad Cordero's normal nail-biting ninth, one in which Philadelphia scored one run and had runners at first and third with two outs. But Cordero got Abraham Nuñez to ground out to second."

Forgot to give Barry props for my favorite line of the gamer.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | July 27, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Flores Revisited:

... Jesus is Rule 5, meaning he has to stay in the bigs all year. So my question is this: what did the framers of the constitution ... oops, I meant, the framers of Rule 5 have in mind when they created that rule?

... did they expect the guy to be such a phenom that he would play regularly; did they expect him to sit all year and rot away (as a kind of punishment for signing him); did they expect him to be good enough to play every third day or so?

... what should the Nats do with him in 2007 to reflect the intent of Rule 5?

Posted by: natscan reduxit | July 27, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

natscan askes, "what should the Nats do with him in 2007 to reflect the intent of Rule 5?"

Clearly, natscan is Canadian. If he were an American he would know that the Framers intended whatever it is that I want to do.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | July 27, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

#4, I responded in the old thread -- oops. That's okay, I misinterpreted, then. Thanks.

natsfanla -

I didn't mean to "label" anyone. Sorry if you took offense.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 27, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Careful, Natscan. You're not supposed to use "Flores" and "frame" in the same sentence...

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 27, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Part of me is very happy about Dmitri's extension. The other part, however, is having trouble suppressing thoughts of other possibilities... such as playing Flores at first base several games per week after the trade...

Posted by: natsagain | July 27, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Barry, for the intriguing post. I've always liked the Schneid and have sometimes felt that he, and catchers generally, are underrated as far as their contribution to a team.

Sect. 506, I agree on the leadership aspect, too. I heard Schneider's confrontation of the fans mentioned on the radio broadcast but haven't seen it mentioned elsewhere.

On what to do with Flores next year, I'm not sure at this point. I *do* think he's a keeper, though. I like what I've read about his work ethic, his desire to learn, and the pride he seems to take in his work behind the plate.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 27, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

So I've gotten to thinking about this year, and I'm wondering how we'll sum this up in years to come. Clearly, last season was about Soriano and 40-40, and the 2005 season was about that great first half and the excitement of baseball in Washington.

So what's the one-line summary for this season? I've come up with a few, feel free to add your own:

1. Speigner outduels Santana. No, seriously.

2. The DL: lower extremity infections and beyond.

3. Wendelstedt!

4. Bowden: We're not trimming the fat; we want Belly and The Meat.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 27, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

To follow up on a posting on an obsolete thread:

http://www.umpireschool.com/

Be afraid, be very afraid...

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 27, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves with Flores. He has had a great year in a limited role, but I would expect a significant Sophmore slump next year once pitchers get to see him more.

Let's see how the guy does the rest of the way, probably with more playing time down the stretch, and then see him in Winter Ball and Spring training next year before we judge where he belongs for 2008.

Posted by: estuartj | July 27, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

The purpose of the Rule V draft as I understand it is to make sure that players who are of big league caliber don't rot away in someone's minor league system. It's a way of giving guys who are prospects stuck behind two great guys in the big leagues a shot at the show. That's why teams HAVE TO keep the player in the big leagues all year or send him back to his original team. The idea is that team A has misevaluated player A, so Team B is willing to give him a chance. Flores has to stay in the big leagues for the entire 2007 season or be offered back to the Mets for next to nothing - obviously something the Nats don't want to do.

As far as 2008 goes, he should stay with the major league club only if he's going to get 200-250 ABs. He should be the platoon guy v. LHP, the day game after a night game guy, and a PH off the bench. That probably gets him to that many ABs. I thought the Giradi/Posada comparison was excellent. The bottom line though is that Schneider is the guts of this team. Subordinating him to a secondary role before 2009 or 2010 would be a mistake.

Posted by: #4 | July 27, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

John, my nomination for a one-line summary for the year is courtesy of Ronnie Belliard:

Probably next year, things will be better.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 27, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

As we talk about Schneider vs. Flores I think the Young vs Johnson vs Church/Kearns vs FA outfielder (Dunn, Jones, etc?).

I believe (if it does happen) that Young is being signed to be #1 an outfielder and #2 a safety net for Johnson's hip. Look at the money Johnson is getting GUARANTEED and I think you'll agree that as soon as he can put one foot in front of the other he'll be starting at 1B.

Personally if I was a betting man, which I am not, I would say you'll see and outfield of Dunn, Watson, Young (with Kearns off the bench) next year and an infield of Zim, Guz, Belliard & Johnson (with Lopez off the bench).

The question for Bowden right now is if Church will get more value before the 31st or at the Winter meetings...

Posted by: estuartj | July 27, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

natscan: The Rule 5 draft was intended as a way to keep teams from stockpiling too much talent. It allows the weaker teams to take a player who isn't one of another team's 40 best and keeping him as long as he's one of the weaker team's 25 best. It's a means of promoting a little competitive balance.

Posted by: Simon Oliver Lockwood | July 27, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

First off, I love Schneider. A better-than-average defensive cathcer that calls a good game. Offensively, not so great, although I have noticed that he hits better on the road than at RFK (.254 away vs .203 home). But then again who doesn't?

I'm beginning to really love Flores. I think keeping both next year in a platoon role is the best way to go. Here are Schneider's splits so far:

vs. Left:
.173 avg; .298 obp; .213 slg

vs. Right:
.249 avg; .313 obp; .351 slg

Here's Flores' splits:

vs. Left:
.326 avg; .415 obp; .522 slg

vs. Right:
.200 avg; .250 obp; .244 slg

Seems clear to me that Schneider should be facing RHP and Flores face LHP (and maybe start this for the rest of this season?)

Posted by: e | July 27, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

natscan: I believe that in speaking of Jesus's rule 5 status the appropriate reference would be to the Pharisee's interpretation of rule 5 - not the framers. That would be in line with the other "non-secular" posts from yesterday!

Posted by: lowcountrynatsfan | July 27, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Kearns and Lopez off the bench? Are you nuts?

Posted by: NatsTerp | July 27, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Great pull. Let's hope, in the context of the future, we won't be using that line with any amount of irony.

-----

Probably next year, things will be better.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 27, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

NatsTerp

Not nuts, but what have Lopez or Kearns done this year to deserve automatic starting roles next year?

I think you going to see a lot of the players on the team now moving to backup roles as better personel are added (either that or leaving completely - and I mean you Robert Fick).

Posted by: estuartj | July 27, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Barry -- MLB's "Trade deadline page" reports that the Cubs are talking again to the Nats about Church. Do you know anything about it? Who are we supposedly trying to get, Sean Marshall perhaps?

Flores v. Schneider -- I think the best idea is to platoon them both. All the points others made about Schneider's leadership capabilities are well taken, and this team needs a prime-of-their-career leader, so no way you get rid of Schneid. I think Schneider's hitting goes south because he gets worn down with the overwork, so his hitting will be better if Flores gets in more games. Flores has done well enough this year to have earned a spot on the big club in '08 and nothing in his '07 performance merits a demotion to AAA.

Posted by: Ray | July 27, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Alfonso Soriano.

-----

Do you know anything about it? Who are we supposedly trying to get, Sean Marshall perhaps?

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 27, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

"1. Speigner outduels Santana. No, seriously."

Speigner? Who's Speigner? Which position did he play? ;-)

Posted by: Juan-John | July 27, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

This may well be true. Just don't suggest that his lack of production is due to a possible injury.

"I'm not [RF]ing hurt! I'm not [RF]ing hurt!"

-----

I think Schneider's hitting goes south because he gets worn down with the overwork, so his hitting will be better if Flores gets in more games.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 27, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

We'll take him!

-----

Alfonso Soriano.

-----

Do you know anything about it? Who are we supposedly trying to get, Sean Marshall perhaps?

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 27, 2007 01:13 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Having spent more time than I care to remember wearing mask, chest protector, and shinguards with either a mitt on my left hand or an indicator in it, I think that I can reasonably comment.

Framing is an art, as well as a skill. It takes a long time to perfect the ability to frame a pitch and not look obvious. Problem with developing that skill is that, until you perfect it, each time you try you tell the umpire that you think that the pitch is a ball. On top of everything else, some guys just don't have the artistic talent to pull it off. They can be good catchers, just not top tier.

I know that Schneider is only 30 and has caught less than 1,000 ML games, but let's remember that he caught in the minors. He caught in the bullpen. He caught before he was signed. Your knees, shoulders (yes, they take a longterm beating), and your elbow is worn (look at a proper catcher's throw...all from the shoulder/elbow/wrist). All of this is cumulative.

My vote would be either a platoon thing or AAA for Flores. It depends on which of the "real" prospects are where. If a couple of them are in the majors, stay up. If they are all in the minors, let him be with them.

In another two years, Schneider will have to either be traded or moved to first base. And, yes I'm a serious Schneider fan, but I'm also realistic.

Posted by: Catcher50 | July 27, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

estuartj -

I agree with you about Lopez's and Kearns' production, but if they are bench players, I'll eat my 1970 Paul Casanova Topps card for dinner. JimBo will never have them as bench players, since they are the symbols of his supposed "trading genius".

Posted by: #4 | July 27, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I just don't think guys like Lopez or Kearns are meant to come off the bench. That is more of a veteran thing. Kearns is too good in RF to be on the bench. He just needs to bat lower in the order. Lopez is coming around in the leadoff spot, I think he'll be back at 2nd. Then you have Belliard as pinch hitter option A.

But what do I know...I am rooting for the Nats to pick up Wily Mo.

Posted by: NatsTerp | July 27, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

e's point is well taken--I'm a huge Brian Schneider fan, but he can't hit lefties. This year isn't a fluke, you can look it up. Next year, I'd keep Flores on the roster & give him some more ABs--catching 6 days a week isn't helping Schneider, IMO, & I think Flores learns what he needs to learn defensively better in DC than in Columbus.

Two other points--The two best catchers I've ever seen--Bench & Rodriguez--didn't spend much time in the minors & were regulars earlier than age 22. Not that I'm saying Flores is in their league, but it shows that having someone catch a full year at AAA is not necessarily needed to assure development. Also, hitting 21 HR in the Fla State League is more impressive than it would have been if he did it elsewhere--I think the stats show that it's a pitchers league with not a lot of dingers.

Posted by: Section 418 | July 27, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

418's right. 21 knocks in the FSL is a big number.

Posted by: #4 | July 27, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

#4

Even if Lopez and Kearns are off the bench, he would still be a genius since we gave up 3 players who aren't in MLB (Bray is on the DL, Majewski is in the minors and I think the other guy (SS who's names escapes me) is out of baseball.

Posted by: estuartj | July 27, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Natsterp

You might be right about Kearns in RF, to be honest I don't know who would replace him. Assuming (and this is a big assumption) Bowden signs Dunn and Young is set for the outfield - who plays LF and who plays the others. I don't think Dunn can play CF effectively and I wonder if either has the arm to play RF without being a major liability (which Young would be anyway at LF).

Posted by: estuartj | July 27, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

"I think the other guy (SS who's names escapes me) is out of baseball."

Royce Clayton is playing for the Blue Jays .254/.346/.305 in 66 games (he was out with a foot injury)

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | July 27, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Don't you mean Brendon Harris? He's currently on the active roster for the Devil Rays. That may count for some to be out of baseball, but he's still getting a paycheck.

http://tampabay.devilrays.mlb.com/team/roster_active.jsp?c_id=tb

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 27, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I updated the shirt to reflect recent developments. See the back of the shirt...

www.cafepress.com/dameat

Posted by: Mr. 300* | July 27, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Yikes - Dunn and Dmitri in the same outfield... How's that for a horror show!?

Teams can often get away with one liability in left field (see Bonds, Barry) by supporting with an excellent CF but to have two defensive liabilities with limited range is way difficult to do successfully.

Signing Da Meat to an extension hopefully means all the Dunn trade talk is ... DUNN.

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | July 27, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

estuartj -

I could be completely wrong on this, and I've been known to make ridiculous statements I later regret, but ... I still bet in 5 years when we look at this trade that Majewski, Bray, and Harris will have accomplished more useful things in the big leagues than Kearns and Lopez. The only possible argument is that the only depth that the Nats organization has is in the bullpen, and Bowden gave up the right guys. Still I'm not so sure.

Posted by: #4 | July 27, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Unless Flores tears it up in spring training, it seems like it would be very smart to get him in either AA or AAA to be catching for Balester, Detwiler, Gibson, et. al. The "plan" for the future might just be the chemistry that he can develop with the young guns of the future. If he spends time in the minors getting daily work with those young pitchers and is hitting very well then the Nats should consider bringing him up in July or August and giving him more time to learn with Schneider at the end of next season

Posted by: NeedANatsFix | July 27, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Mr 300 - thanks for the reminder about the t-shirt. I meant to get one last week and forgot, and with the recent news, there's no time to wait people!

FYI, CafePress is having a promotion for $5 off your first purchase with a referral. The person referring has to pass along the $5 coupon to at least two people, from what I can tell. I don't want anyone posting their actual email addresses but would send the coupon offer to anyone else who wants to buy the t-shirt!

You'll see me with it next week against the Cards (maybe the Reds too, depending on work).

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | July 27, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

It was Clayton, not Harris. From Royce's bio on MLB.com:

"On 7/13 was acquired from the Nationals in an 8-player deal that sent SS Felipe Lopez to Washington..."

Clayton at the plate this year: .254/.346/.305, .976 fielding percentage
Lopez at the plate this year: .243/.343.300, .965 fielding percentage

So a minor (probably statistically insignificant) trade down, if you don't care about those missed games.

Mr. 300*, LOVE the update to the Tee-shirt. I'm working on getting my Cubs-fan girlfriend to get one. She loves the meat.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | July 27, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, 506, for the correction on the trade.

Posted by: #4 | July 27, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Great idea on the tee update, Mr. 300*!

I'd already purchased and received mine, so I may need to take the indelible marker to it in order to modify it...

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 27, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I'd just like to recount that day game this spring when Jesus came in either to pinch hit or maybe was in the lineup, but in either case I'm pretty sure it was the first time we saw him at RFK. That first swing, and all I could say to all of those around me: that is one beautiful swing. To see it on a rookie was awesome (in the true spirit of that word). A rarity that swing, and I sure hope one way or the other, it stays here.

Posted by: x-stix-holder; fan4ever | July 27, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

If I am correct, and who knows, ....the Nationals have had not 1, not 2, but at least 3 Rule 5 guys on the team this year. Flores, Speigner, and .... Ayala. I'm under the impression that Ayala joined the Expos as a rule 5 guy. Can anyone confirm? Ayala is a pretty valuable guy as is Flores. Speigner may be Ayala-like within a year or two. Her certainly was valuable as a reliever before being forced into the rotation before he was ready. Anyway, if you could add a rule 5 guy next year (outfielder?) it would be nice.

Posted by: NatBisquit | July 27, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

#4

You could be very right about last years big trade. Bray especially is still very young and has closer-esk velocity (plus he's a lefty).

Kearns and Lopez are still very young too though (27 each I believe) and can still grow. Both have had bad years at the plate, but then again who (besides Young and Belliard) hasn't for the Nats this year. Batting averages are cumulative, for the player AND for the team so if a couple guys struggle it affects the rest of the line-up (and moving around in the line-up can hurt too). So you might see a big rebound next year.

Posted by: estuartj | July 27, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

ShawNatsFan

No kidding about Young and Dunn. I wonder if Bowden might have his eye on someone like Andruw Jones? I think we need to see a major upgrade in the outfield and I don't think Young is it.

If it was up to me I would trade Young if possible, or take picks in return if he leaves via FA, but he will be way too expensive to keep as a backup to Johnson and too much of a defensive liability at LF.

I'm sure the wrath of the whole community is coming down on me for doubting The Meat, but I'm headed to the airport so I won't see it :-)

Posted by: estuartj | July 27, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

GET HIM!!!

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | July 27, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Re. the offensive struggles, I was going to post this half in jest the other day but forgot (so what else is new?). Doesn't Mitchell Page have a book and/or video out on hitting techniques? It would not be the same as having him there, no doubt, but if the Nats don't have a bunch of copies of those in the clubhouse, maybe they should...

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 27, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Just gotta find my pitchfork and torch. Okay, let's roll! ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 27, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

If you look at the numbers, even tangentially, you have to believe the Flores should be in the majors and play a LOT MORE often. Schneider has some sort of 'halo affect' in DC. His defensive prowess is often exaggerated and the truth is the team wins more when he does NOT catch. So his intangibles and leadership is not evident in the record of the team. If he wants to be a leader he can become an assistant manager. If he wants to bat in a major league line-up, he needs to start hitting, getting on base and driving in runs. From an outsider perspective, you have to wonder why Flores isn't the starting catcher right now.

Posted by: Maximus | July 27, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I can see it all now....next year the left field bleachers become...DA MEAT LOCKER

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | July 27, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

NatsBisquit asks: "I'm under the impression that Ayala joined the Expos as a rule 5 guy. Can anyone confirm?"

From thebaseballcube.com:

Dec 16,2002 - Selected by Expos from Diamondbacks in Rule 5 major league draft.

Posted by: e | July 27, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/transactions/index.jsp?c_id=mlb&year=2006&month=7

Washington Nationals
Acquired OF Austin Kearns, SS Felipe Lopez and RHP Ryan Wagner from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for RHP Gary Majewski, LHP Bill Bray, INF Brendan Harris, SS Royce Clayton and RHP Daryl Thompson; Purchased the contract of RHP Roy Corcoran from Triple-A New Orleans; Optioned RHP Ryan Wagner to New Orleans.

Posted by: Transaction Nerd | July 27, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Re: Speigner in the pen

My recollection was that he was not particularly special in the pen. Here's some stats:

3.86 ERA (1-0) in 12 appearances, 6 runs on 14 hits, 6 strikeouts and 12 walks.

BUT, this doesn't include inherited runners scored, as Hendo often points out. In particular, I remember a Sunday game against the Chicago Cubs that is listed in Speigner's game log as a 0 runs allowed appearance where he walked home at least one runner (maybe two).

Anyone with a better stats program access care to let us know how many inherited runners Speigner let score?

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | July 27, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Here are Daryl Thompson's stats in 20 combined starts in Low-A and High-A ball:

9-4, 3.19 ERA, 98.2 IP, 89 H, 24 BB, 89 SO, .242 oppBA, 1.15 WHIP

Seems to be a pretty decent prospect at 21 years old.

Posted by: e | July 27, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Section 506 asks "Anyone with a better stats program access care to let us know how many inherited runners Speigner let score?"

Looks like he inherited 15 runners and 7 scored.

Saul Rivera: Inherited 31, 9 have scored

Ray King: 23/5

Billy Traber: 16/10!


Posted by: e | July 27, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Just for the record, I wasn't alleging the Nats had traded Harris and not Clayton. I was responding to the original "out of baseball" comment. I had actually completely forgotten about Clayton (go figure).

So both of us were right, 506 (AM). Thanks for the diligence, Transaction Nerd. Either way, neither of these two guys are playing for the Reds. If we're looking at what Washington got versus what the Reds got, we're essentially looking at Kearns/Lopez/Wagner versus Bray/Majewski. I have my hunches about which group will prove to be better assets to their respective teams, but it might sound stupid.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 27, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Schneider v. Torres, DaMeat, 2008, etc. -

Even though Torres may net yet be ready to handle the grind as the everyday starting catcher next year, I firmly believe that he does need to be here and not down on the farm somewhere. He can learn a lot from Schneider as far as calling a game is concerned so that when Detwiler, et al make it to "The Show", he'll be ready and able to handle them. I think that he will also benefit from seeing the pitchers around the league again and in doing so, avoids the "sophomore slump". Is that what has happened with Ryan "low and away / swing / and / strike three" Zimmermann?

Most catchers' performance at the plate suffers over the course of the year. The wear and tear simply from the constant up and down KILLS knees! (how many squats can you do?) Nevermind the foul tips, especially the ones that bounce straight back and down and then up into you know where - DOH!

Cup check my A$$, that hurts, period.

I think that if Schneider were to start taking infield over at first, he could be the insurance policy behind DaMeat as I think Nick is, unfortunately, done.

If, and it may be a very big if, DaMeat comes to Spring Training minus 20 pounds, moving back to the outfield is not at all out of the realm of possibilities.

Belliard is a great emergency fill-in at first but let's face it, he's too short! At his salary, he obviously knows his role is not as a starter and he accepts it. The main thing is that he is ready to play, everyday.

Dunn? Er, not! JimBow needs to get over his Cincy fetish, and quickly. Lopez and Kearns have been HUGE disappointments offensively and hopefully they can begin the bounceback now. We will be able to see what they are made of during August humidity at RFK. As everyone is available for trade except Zimm, and now perhaps Flores, there's no reason that we can't move Kearns and / or Lopez at the end of the year if they don't pick it up.

Do we miss Guzman or what?! He came back on a mission this year and I think next year will be even more special. The strongest human emotion is the need to be needed. He could have mailed it in and simply collected his $4 mil. Instead, he had laser surgery and worked his tail off. I saw him in Spring Training and believe me, this guy is BUILT! Nevermind the baggy Mannyesque uni. Believe me, this guy may be our All-Star rep next year.

Just think, we should have back to back "Comeback Players of the Year". This year obviously "DaMeat" and next year Guz. You heard it here first.

(took the afternoon off so I'm rambling, bear with me)

'08:

Fick, Thanks, but good-bye. I have no idea what his contract status is but I don't see any way short of catastrophic injuries that he's here next year.

Nook, will probably be given every opportunity over the final 2 months to prove that (a) he wants to be a part of this and (b) that he deserves to be a part of this. Actually, he only has a month or so, as with the September call ups, Brandon Watson will be back.

Langerhans (sp) - all I can say is that if the Braves, who have one of the top scouting staffs in the majors gave up on him this early, there's a very good reason. Namely, he can't hit! Granted, he has come through in a couple of spots but hitting at the ML level is about being consistent not a once in awhile close your eyes and let it go thing. For goodness sakes, even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in awhile. Because of this inconsistency, he's not reliable as a PH and his defense is not so flawless to deserve a starting spot. See: Brandon Watson.

My projected '08 Starting Line-up & Batting order:

CF - Brandon Watson
SS - Christian Guzman
3B - Ryan Zimmermann
1B - DaMeatTree Young
RF - Ausin Kearns *only if he hits in Spring Training
LF - TBD - a Free Agent perhaps?
2B - Felipe Lopez * same note as Kearns
C - Brian Schneider - unless Flores just goes NUTS in Spring Training
P - Ross Detwiler - Why the Hell not?

Posted by: FRANK 20 | July 27, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

OOPS! Forgot about Escobar playing left next year. Church is gone for prospects.

Posted by: FRANK 20 | July 27, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Much understandable hand-wringing about what to do with Flores and Schneider, much good analysis too.

"Who is the catcher over the next few years?" The answer long-term (2010 onward) is probably Flores, if he stays healthy. The answer short-term is (e), no answer to the stated question is possible on the basis of the given information.

Not to have enough information seems impossible in the midst of the current sabermetric spree. But all the past performances in the world can't hurry up the clock. And the answer to this question won't be available before March 2008.

This is what I would be asking at that time, assuming that Flores (almost certainly) and Schneider (maybe, maybe not) are around then.

- How's Schneider's health?
- What's Schneider's glide path?
- How's Flores looking, health-wise and otherwise?
- Is Fick still available? If not, is there another utility player who can fill the role of third catcher?
- Where are the pitchers now whom Flores will probably be catching in the early 2010s?

We can't answer those questions now, except maybe the last one with a reasonable guess. (Good call by NeedANatsFix, Catcher 50 and others.)

What we can do in July 2007 is draw up a list of divergent scenarios and state the decision we'd make if each of them came to pass. That's too much like work, to be sure, and is making me yawn; but it is the work of Nats management, who if they were smart enough to locate and land Flores are smart enough to work through the next stage of analysis.

Posted by: Hendo | July 27, 2007 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Barry but Flores needs more playing time.

Schneider has been a black hole at bat and his defense, no offense, is not exactly enough to justify taking the bats away from a kid who can do what few Nats have been this year - a consistent power threat.

Posted by: Zach | July 27, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Consistent power threat? Flores has two HR's, both in July.

Don't get me wrong, I like the swing and the potential. But one thing that consistently happens in sports today is that all fans get enamored with potential until it becomes reality...and more often than not a disappointing reality. This kid has a lot of talent and potential, but he still has a lot to learn.

If he stays up and plays in the majors it might be a few seasons before he sniffs .300 and 20+ HR's but if he goes down to the minors for a season and gets some confidence he might come up in 2009 ready to be a difference maker in the line-up. Not to mention the chemistry he can start creating with with the future staff of the Nats.

Posted by: NeedANatsFix | July 27, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

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