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Hill's second surgery; two more outrighted

So Shawn Hill's surgery was, miraculously, labeled a success. You'll recall that this was the second of two procedures, the one to clean up his left shoulder, which was originally injured when he dove back to a base in Florida in April, then aggravated the following month when he was covering first and Dmitri Young threw wide and he dove and fell on it awkwardly.

Noted orthopedist James Andrews repaired a partially torn labrum in the shoulder, one that Hill believes affected his mechanics and certainly limited his ability to swing the bat or field choppers back to the mound. The procedure follows a surgery on his right elbow to decompress a nerve there, one which caused him discomfort in his right forearm.

The club says Hill should begin a throwing program in two months (mark the date, Dec. 12) and should be ready for spring training. We shall see.

Two more roster moves: Tony Batista and D'Angelo Jimenez outrighted to Columbus. That puts the 40-man roster at 32, with eight openings.

A bit about these procedures. The Nationals are not only going to be open to trades, but they will, again, be very aggressive in the minor league free agent market, the place they found people like Joel Hanrahan last season. (Not saying that's a good thing. Just sayin'.)

Outrighting guys like they have this week - Bacsik, Batista, Jimenez, Simontacchi, Watson, Abreu, Munoz, Booker - doesn't necessarily mean they won't sign back with Washington. They could. Their job - or the job of their agents - is to look for the best opportunity to make a big league club. In the case of guys like Batista and Jimenez, that could well be the case. If the Nationals don't go out and sign other players to improve their bench, then Batista and Jimenez could return. This will all sort itself out later, I would think, like in late November and early December at the earliest.

The point is that the Nationals want the space on the 40-man, because if there's a minor league free agent they really want, they want to be able to offer him a 40-man spot (which comes with more assurances than a minor league contract). They did this with Billy Traber a couple years ago and Hanrahan last year. The point: We could see these guys again, we might not.

All right, I'm off to the Arizona Fall League. Sheinin should have something for you from Boston later on.

By Barry Svrluga  |  October 12, 2007; 12:07 PM ET
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Next: ALCS Game 1: The Big Dance


With all the roster moves and surgery maybe we can have an update on injured player in the long break between the CS and WS?

I have the Sox in 5 and Rox in 4 so that a lot of days off....

Posted by: estuartj | October 12, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

That should have read playerS, I'm specifically interested in Nick Johnson (running yet?) John Patterson (pitching winter ball yet?) and others like Guzman, Wagner etc.

Posted by: estuartj | October 12, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

BARRY - I've heard a wild, unsubstantiated rumor from somebody who is actually working close to the team that the Nationals have requested MLB to allow them to use an all grass infield with just a small area of dirt around the bases, much like some turf fields have. I figured I'd ask, is there any truth behind this?

Posted by: ? | October 12, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

With all this outrightin' goin' on, any idea why they haven't outrighted Fick? He was at least as useless this year as Jiminez and Batista, if not more so. Is it the "third catcher" thing that keeps him hanging on?

Posted by: Section 419 | October 12, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

this guy lists his personal rankings on each MLB teams' management personnel and organziation cohesion (not necessarily on-field talent), and their likelihood to contend for playoff spots in the near future:

While the Nats are bunched in the middle with a "C" grade, I rather enjoyed his take on our neighbors to the north:

"The Baltimore Orioles have a meddlesome owner, a front office that lacks necessary power, outdated analytical techniques, and, oh yea, they play in the A.L. East. Barring a one season fluke where everything just breaks right, I'm not sure Baltimore makes the playoffs in the next 10-15 years. If you're raising a child near the nation's capital, make them a Nationals fan."

Posted by: e | October 12, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for getting us a Nats update in the middle of all your playoff work. Hope you get a good vacation soon, so you don't burn out on all this stuff.

Posted by: Ashburn | October 12, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

In college I played a few games on "Constelation Diamonds", but they were all astro turf fields, I've never seen or heard of one with all grass - it would take a real beating on the first to second basepath I think, but more importantly it just wouldn't LOOK RIGHT!

Posted by: estuartj | October 12, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

And could someone please explain to me why Langerhans remains on the 40-man roster? In the past Barry has written of his defense and his value as a pinch runner, but his career numbers (.233/.328/.376) don't suggest any short- or long-term potential.

Posted by: Bratislava, Slovakia | October 12, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I think the when it's announced that a player has been outrighted it means that they cleared waivers and can now become FA or accept their assignment, depending on their contract status. The team probably send down a whole host of player, likely including LangerFick, but the other teams can clear players at their own pace (MLBs rules on how this works seems overly involved and secrative). We'll probably hear about those two being outrighted (or claimed?) In the next few days.

I don't think either Langerhans, Fick, Batista or Jimenez have much chance of making the 25 man roster next year, Jiminez spot is needed for Guzman, Fick's for Johnson and Langerhans for Pena - and that's before they bring in and new blood, either internally or via FA (major or minor league).

Posted by: estuartj | October 12, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I think ESJ is right, players that are out of options have to clear waivers before they can be sent down (outrighted).

They might not waive/outright Fick until they know about Nick J. and/or decide what to do about Flores next season. So basically, yeah, it's the third catcher thing (Fick saves a roster spot by playing both roles.)

Posted by: Bob L. Head | October 12, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse


thanks for the link, that was pretty interesting. later in the comments section, the writer dave notes that the nats have a strong organization, but that the long pole in the tent is jim bowden and THAT will always hold the team back.

barry, it'd be really interesting if you did a thing on GM's and where they rank with the rest of the field. i know you're doing your position by position pieces in the offseason. looking forward to what you have on the front office and where they're perceived to rank with the rest of the league.

Posted by: G-town | October 12, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I look at Jim Bowden the same way as I did the wheeler dealer down the street when I was a kid. You thought he was a jerk, but he always was finding a cool car to drive.

I think that until the Nats don't need freecycle anymore, that Bowden is the guy... Being a GM isn't a popularity contest.

Posted by: Wigi | October 12, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Fick, my guess (but I can't find any contract details to back this up) is that he has been on a year-to-year contract. So they either resign him or don't, I would imagine. There wouldn't be any optioning/outrighting involved. But again, I don't know for sure.

Posted by: misschatter | October 12, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Mile High Stadium have an all-grass infield (as opposed to Astroturf, which lots of teams have used for indoor fields)?

Posted by: c(!)evans | October 12, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

1) Thanks much for the Nats Updates. I'm suffering serious withdraw already. Just 120 days to Spring Training.

2) Ease off the Fick bashing. :) He may not be a great hitter, but he is far from useless. You really cannot underestimate the value of having good teammates. Plus his hitting in September when he got consistent at-bats was up to very respectable numbers. And BTW, Jiminez was much more useless than Fick.

3) I would like to understand better what the impact of putting a minor league player ON the 40 man roster means. I assume that once you are on the roster, the team risks losing the player if you take them off. So if you added a marginal minor leaguer to the 40 man and then needed the space back for someone else, do you run a greater risk? I assume that a big part of the current 40 man movement is to create space for players that the Nats don't want to lose to rule 5. Correct?

Posted by: NatBisquit | October 12, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

No Fick bashing here, trust me! I think the guy's a hoot!

Posted by: misschatter | October 12, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Great quote in the print edition from Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, discussing his young closer, Manny Corpas:

"He's a burglar. He's there and he's gone, and then the job's done."

Posted by: Bob L. Burglar | October 12, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"Ease off the Fick bashing. :) He may not be a great hitter, but he is far from useless. You really cannot underestimate the value of having good teammates. Plus his hitting in September when he got consistent at-bats was up to very respectable numbers. And BTW, Jiminez was much more useless than Fick."


September stats
Fick: .319/.396/.404
Jimenez: .395/.489/.684

Season stats:
Fick: .234/.309/.305 5 errors
Jimenez: .245/.379/.373 3 errors

I'm not making a case to keep either one, but I don't agree that Jimenez was much more useless than Fick.

If Fick is such a great clubhouse guy, then hire him as a coach or ballboy or something. Just don't waste a roster spot on him.

And I don't think the Nats will keep him just because he gives them that 3rd catcher option. Look at most of the teams in baseball and just about all of them only carry two catchers on their roster at any one time. The need for a 3rd catcher is useless.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 12, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

So say Schneider finally goes down. Who would spell Flores? I think the question is, how does Fick stack up against what we have in the minors?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 12, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Fick's value as a 3rd Catcher is that he allows you to pinch hit whoever of the Schneider/Flores isn't behind the plate that game.

I'd still put my money on Flores starting the season in AA with Detwiler, J-Max, Desmond and Daniels or maybe Marrero.

It's a long drive up to Harrisburg, but it might be worth it a couple weekend next summer....

That would mean Fick might Stick, but they're more likely to sign a true backup catcher to take Flores spot and hopefully someone like LeCroy to be a PH and emergency Catcher or 1B man.

Come to think of it I think LeCroy himself might be available now...

Posted by: estuartj | October 12, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

New post from the busy Blogfather.

LeCroy? Just so he doesn't have to throw out any baserunners.

Fick Sticks has a nice ring to it.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh wait, make that Blogfather II, the sequel.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

"Fick's value as a 3rd Catcher is that he allows you to pinch hit whoever of the Schneider/Flores isn't behind the plate that game."

Yeah, except you could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times Manny did that this year. I bet he sent Fick himself up as a PH more often than he used Schneider and Flores as a PH combined. And that doesn't even factor in the way too many times he used Fick as a defensive replacement for Dmitri in the late innings, which ended up with him basically serving as a de facto pinch hitter for Dmitri the next time his turn rolled around. Really, for what Fick offered at the plate and in the field most of this year, he was playing way, way too much. Some may say he redeemed himself in September, but then again so did Jiminez and that didn't stop him from getting outrighted.

If Fick belongs anywhere on this team, it's up in one of the broadcast booths.

Posted by: Section 419 | October 12, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Just stumbled across Justin Maxwell's journal via the team site. There's a link that can be used to email questions to him. He writes well, IMO.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

"The point: We could see these guys again, we might not."

Sure glad I took the time to read this post......with reporting like this it is no wonder the NJ is getting it's but kicked by DC United......

Posted by: Insight? | October 12, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

If Fick is on this team next year than we have been lied in the worst way for what 2008 is promised to be!!!

NO WAY should he be on the Nats and I doubt anyone in baseball other other than the Nats of 2007 would have had him at all.

Think People.... we are building a winner and Robert Fick is not part of this teams future. If he is better than any the other catchers we have then guess what? Time to get some catchers and fast!

Posted by: Are you people joking? | October 12, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Ha! Finally some Nats news and discussion. Coool! : )

I'm personally more humbled that another poster (natsfan1a) would use my idea for Barry's nickname.

Ha. Here's another awful logo for the bad t-shirt idea.

Blogfather III - Just when you thought the season was over... Svrluga brings you back.

Posted by: Viva Livan | October 12, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Dear DC Council-

Please reject the stadium for DC United once and for all so they move and we don't have to hear about them anymore.


Posted by: United against United | October 12, 2007 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Lay off our Svrluga...his insight is unpretentious.

And, please don't equate a decision to keep or not keep Fick or any other utility player as some sort of proof of honest intentions. The promise all along has been to improve and be competitive.

Not improving in at least one starting position or not improving the rotation should give us pause, but a utility player is not going to make the difference.

Posted by: NatBisquit | October 12, 2007 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Fickistas -- if you're a stats-essentialist, there is no way to quantify "clubhouse value," so it is undefinable, and therefore doesn't exist. Now, that may or may not be valid, but it doesn't leave any grounds for argument between the camps.
FWIW, I think they have alternatives, but the ad hominem attacks got old a long time ago. Dishing for the sake of dishing, in an anonymous blog, is gutless.
Kids today. Whaddaya gonna do?

Posted by: cevansJr | October 12, 2007 10:56 PM | Report abuse

I love the nickname, Vivo Livan! I couldn't remember who had coined it. I like the tee idea, too.


I'm personally more humbled that another poster (natsfan1a) would use my idea for Barry's nickname.

Ha. Here's another awful logo for the bad t-shirt idea.

Blogfather III - Just when you thought the season was over... Svrluga brings you back.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2007 11:01 PM | Report abuse

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