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Nats sign crane, insert him immediately

In the top of the first, with Jason Bergmann on the mound and two outs, Cleveland's Franklin Gutierrez hit a ball to center field that Lastings Milledge dove for, but it fell in. Just as Gutierrez was chugging into second, a giant crane -- the locals called it a sandhill crane -- swooped in and landed just behind second base.

I kid you not.

This might very well be much more amusing to those in attendance than those in, say, Washington D.C., but I follow the general philosphy that if a giant bird lands on the field in the middle of a baseball game, and you are covering that baseball game, and you have a blog, then you are some how -- if not contractually, then perhaps morally -- obligated to blog about it.

The crane set up shop in short right field, just behind Ronnie Belliard, who wandered over toward it, but then decided the Nats could use another defender. So Bergmann pitched to the next hitter, Jhonny Peralta, who grounded to third. And darned if the crane didn't do what he's supposed to do in such situations. He backed up first.

(Note: I am now officially writing about the wildlife here instead of the three-run homer that Cristian Guzman just crushed to center, making it 6-0 in the top of the second. Of course, I'm a kinda a lame duck, so bear with me.)

With the Nats coming to the plate, the crane wandered over into foul (fowl? (stolen from Mark Zuckerman of the Washington Times) territory down the first base line, where a bunch of Nats coaches and instructors sit on stools, just outside the dugout. Jose Cardenal initially tried to shoo him away with some pebbles. The crane moved closer. Jose Rijo went to the clubhouse, got a plate with some food and an cup of orange Gatorade, and placed it on the warning track dirt, all of three paces from the coaches.

The crane wandered over, checked it out, but then meandered back -- obviously more interested in the game. During Nick Johnson's at-bat (he hit a sac fly to left), the crane moved down the line, checking out every single National leaning against the dugout. By the time Austin Kearns came up (he hit a double off the wall in left), the crane was walking right at bench coach Pat Corrales.

Corrales had knee replacement surgery in the offseason. There was, for about 90 seconds, a 50-50 chance that Corrales could have been pecked to death in front of a large crowd at HSCS.

That did not happen. Also during Kearns's at-bat, the crane flew across behind the umpire to the Indians' on-deck circle. He later flew down the left field line and appeared to be signing autographs for fans. Screech, it should be mentioned, has made no effort to interact with the crane.

It is now the top of the third. Bergmann is throwing quite well. The crane is down by the tarp on the left fled line.

We can only hope that this does not happen.

I will, of course, keep you posted on a need-to-know basis. And I would like you all to consider the question:

What is your favorite bit of Space Coast Stadium fauna -- the Raccoon of '07 or the Crane of '08?

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 9, 2008; 12:32 PM ET
 
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Comments

As a birder I would say that this is a very nice bird to see. I've never seen one in the wild (they are not one of the usual suspects in the D.C. Metro area).

Also, Game Day link for Space Coast:

http://www.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/#20080309

Click on the Game Day icon to the right of the game listing.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

p.s. When I saw the headline, I assumed a construction crane. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

So did I. A construction crane landing behind second base sounded pretty terrifying.

I hope someone took a picture of the crane.

Posted by: Tank | March 9, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I'd have to go with the crane (laughing at "fowl" territory).

---

What is your favorite bit of Space Coast Stadium fauna -- the Raccoon of '07 or the Crane of '08?

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

From the Game Day, it seems like Bergmann is really on, with 1 hit, 16 strikes, and 0 balls through 3.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

For future reference, Sandhill Cranes aren't much for Gatorade :-): All cranes are omnivorous. Sandhill Cranes are generalists and feed on a wide variety of plant tubers, grains, small vertebrates (e.g. mice and snakes), and invertebrates such as insects or worms.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Actually, pretty much everybody calls them sandhill cranes. They are migrating up for the summer now. Surprised you haven't seen them before, Barry.
They're pretty friendly, esp. compared to, say, Canada geese, so I don't think Corrales has to worry.
And they aren't *that* big -- about as tall as a Canada goose, and considerably smaller bodies. It's not as if they were great herons, or something.
If they're migrating up from Mexico, that would perhaps explain the crane's obviously in-depth understanding of positioning.

Posted by: Mr. IB | March 9, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

If a crane shows up at a Nats game when Screech is present and tries to horn in on some of Screech's act, I would not be upset at all. But if Ryan Seacrest were to show up at a Nats game when Clint is present and tried to horn in on Clint's act, I would be very, very afraid.

Posted by: Section 419 | March 9, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

This is hilarious. I love how the game action is in parentheses. And how you're *morally* obligated to write about it.
LOL!!!

I think the crane of '08 definitely tops the raccoon of '07.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 9, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Actually, if it is a Sandhill Crane, it is larger than a Canada Goose and closer in size to a Great Blue Heron (3 to 5 feet).

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the gameday link, natsfan1a. I was grouchy because GameDay AUDIO advertised for and gives the lineups for the Cleveland @ Washington game, but the actual audio is ther other one. But having Gameday up makes up for it.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 9, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

And the obligatory Tin Yurl for those who care: http://tinyurl.com/24x6qh

Posted by: CE | March 9, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, NatsNut.

If I'm reading the Game Day correctly, Guzman needs a double for the cycle?

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

and for the new or CRS-challenged: Tin Yurl for the Racoon Story (Mark Zuckerman's)
http://tinyurl.com/yvac8p

Posted by: CE | March 9, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Never mind. It's 2 HR. I thought I saw a 1B, 3B, and HR for him earlier.

---

If I'm reading the Game Day correctly, Guzman needs a double for the cycle?

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

natsfan1a,
no, it looks like Guzzie has a single and two homers. He'd still need a triple and a double.

Still. He's on fire today.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 9, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Is the crane somehow taking the ball off of Guzman's bat and depositing it over the fence???? 2 HR's for the Guz? What gives?

Posted by: joNAThan | March 9, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

"For future reference, Sandhill Cranes aren't much for Gatorade."
Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 01:01 PM
******************
But I understand butterflies love the stuff. It's like Butterfly Chow at the new Smithsonian B'fly exhibit.
The things you can learn here...

Posted by: CE | March 9, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I corrected myself. I could have sworn he had a 3B in the boxscore earlier.

---

no, it looks like Guzzie has a single and two homers. He'd still need a triple and a double.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Chico Special in the 4th....4 pitch walk to the #9 hitter to load the bases with 2 outs.....that could not be intentional could it? Chico Special #2....back to back homers in the 3rd....

Posted by: JayB | March 9, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Christian Guzman is not the new Rickey, but he ain't bad.

Posted by: Rickey | March 9, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I kind of like Chico's approach, but he has no Major League pitch and no control yet...and I just hate bad baseball!

Posted by: JayB | March 9, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

back to back is good, keeps them to one run.

Posted by: no, really. | March 9, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

and it puts lots of pressure on the next guy, gets him to overswing.

Posted by: seriously | March 9, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

In addition to the crane, there was evidently a Crowe in right field. :)

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Kearns and WMP have their averages above .200 now. Let the thaw begin.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 9, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Whew, for a minute there I thought you meant K.C. Herrin http://tinyurl.com/2d5n57

Posted by: Mr. InBetween | March 9, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Guze = .458

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

So when the crane took the field were they whooping it up in the press box?

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Man, the A-team's sounding like it's gelling.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 9, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Like Magellan. :)

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Gameday froze after 5 1/2. What has happened next?

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 9, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

not "like a felon" ?

Posted by: MIB | March 9, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm wondering whether there is a game delay because of rain? Ayala pitched in the top of the 6th: GO, BB, DP.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

currently 66 and sunny in Melbourne, FL

Posted by: CE | March 9, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but then they changed the commercial. Not PC enough, I guess.

---

not "like a felon" ?

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Yea, I can't get GameDay to refresh after the top of the 6th. What's going on?

Posted by: NatsNut | March 9, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, CE, I was just about to check the radar. Crane delay?

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

... while WE're not expecting to see 60 degrees at any time during the next two weeks.
Sigh.

Posted by: CE | March 9, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

The boxscore link via the team site shows the same time warp.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I noticed Dr. Sholl's dropped that one quick enough to hear the writer get fired.

Crane delay -- good one!

Posted by: MR IB | March 9, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Rule 5 Whitney finally got a hit- a triple to score the Nats' first run in the scrub game.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 9, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

7th inning, they'll play Edith Piaf's version of "No Egrets"

Posted by: MIB | March 9, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

That's good, MIB. I was trying to think of a way to work that one.

---

7th inning, they'll play Edith Piaf's version of "No Egrets"

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

You're in fine form today punsfan1a.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 9, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Per WTOP radio, 9-0 in the bottom of the 8th.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, NatsNut! :)

---

You're in fine form today punsfan1a.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

No, waaaaaaiiiiiiittttt - punsfan1a, that's funny!

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

puns are number one
the thing about number one:
nothing is lower

Posted by: G Thompson | March 9, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Nice that they're on the scoreboard.

---

Rule 5 Whitney finally got a hit- a triple to score the Nats' first run in the scrub game.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Noted, G. Thompson. ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Deactivate fowl pun initiator. Post new blog entry with score update.

Posted by: Beat Writer RC | March 9, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Wow- That made Gameday work again. Good remote control.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 9, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks. :)

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Double for Lastings. Go man, go!

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 9, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

JayB - Apologies. I went away for a cup of coffee and a trip to Borders to pick up BP and a fantasy baseball mag, and while I was sipping my drink, I dope slapped myself and said "$5m - $2.8m = $2.2m. Doh!!" I vowed to post this before even looking to see if you replied. At a $2.2m savings, its a better argument, but Everett is a one position guy, so he has to start, making Guzman another guy who has to be moved at his $4.2m, and it still leaves you short of the utility backup at middle infield. So, the Scutaros, J. McDonalds, Chris Gomezes, etc . . . are the guys we should be talking about, as well as perhaps 28 year old AAA guys who can be signed for the major league minimum (we talked a lot about minor league FAs in the fall - my guy, JJ Furmaniak, went to Japan).

Posted by: PTBNL | March 9, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Is it Ichabod Crane, maybe Ben?

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | March 9, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Ichabod, good one. Should we quit while we are ahead? :)

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

WTOP radio let me down on the 3:45 update - no baseball.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Construction crane. How funny. Just got back from a drive down to the new ballpark. Seems like I wasn't the only guy with the same idea. We came down 295 from the Beltway, crossed the Douglas Bridge then when right on M. I took another right at 1st Street SE and there I found the traffic jam. Must have been 15 to 25 cars all lined up with sightseers just like me. Made it as far as 1st and N SE where the MPD had us making a big looping U turn - very orderly I might add. As I made the U, I looked back up 1st Street toward M to see another 25 cars lined up for an attempt at a peek. Too funny. Build it, and they will come.

Posted by: 6th and D | March 9, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

A squad wins 9-0.

B squad loses 5-2.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

PTBNL, Which Borders were you at? I ask because I have a part-time job at one of them.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 9, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

"The crane set up shop in short left field, just behind Ronnie Belliard, who wandered over toward it"

I think you meant short *right* field.

Posted by: volunteer copywriter | March 9, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Probably not Frasier or Niles. I hear that both throw like girls.

---

Is it Ichabod Crane, maybe Ben?

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Cranes are one thing. Just don't let it be geese.

I've done games at various local fields where there were a family of geese with goslings in the outfield. After being attacked a couple of times, we came to an agreement on grounds rules and fear may not have struck out, but neither did it allow chasing after hits to the outfield.

Posted by: Catcher50 | March 9, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Thank Heaven! The Senators, err Rangers, signed Ponson.

Posted by: Catcher50 | March 9, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Yes, geese are very aggressive. They are actually used as guard animals in some places.

---

I've done games at various local fields where there were a family of geese with goslings in the outfield. After being attacked a couple of times, we came to an agreement on grounds rules and fear may not have struck out, but neither did it allow chasing after hits to the outfield.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Chris - having read your post (and JayB's), I do think the Everett v Guzman would have been the issue, not Everett v Lopez. Your argument makes a lot of sense. For $2.8 million extra, those might have been some cheap wins.

JayB - no argument that there were other ways to go this off-season regarding the middle infield utility guy. I think you weren't the only one on this board to say "don't offer him arbitration, bring in a cheaper minor league FA or the like." Maybe even I said that;-) but I'm incognito.

The issue at this point is, do you trade for a backup infielder or o you hope for a bounce back. You probably discount his 2005 and 2006 too much. While he got help out of Cinci's ballpark in 2005, his away numbers were pretty good too (7 homers, 7 steals, .335 OBP, and .435 SLG) In 2006, he maintained his .350+ OBP even when he came here. I'm just saying maybe last year was the fluke, and that if you traded him now there's a good likelihood you are selling low. I'm not defending his performance from last year, nor his reported attitude. I'd just think the way you maximize his value is to see if he bounces back to career norms and move him mid-year to a team that needs middle infield depth.

Posted by: PTBNL | March 9, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Pentagon City. Wore an Evil Empire #2 hat.

Posted by: PTBNL | March 9, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

photos...

http://www.carolinanature.com/birds/sandhillcrane.html

Posted by: natsagain | March 9, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

interesting potential MI trade prospect... from keith law's top 100 prospect list. wonder what colorado will be looking for as the season wears on.

===
77 - Chris Nelson - SS
Colorado Rockies
TOP '07 LEVEL: A (Modesto)
age 22
Nelson's career had been a disappointment before 2007 due to injuries and poor performance, but he re-established some value with a big year in the hitter-friendly California League. He does several things well but lacks a single outstanding tool; he should hit for some average and some power; he's an above-average runner but not a burner; he's adequate at short but not a Gold Glover. This doesn't affect his rating, but he is also hopelessly blocked in Colorado behind Troy Tulowitzki.
===

Posted by: 231 | March 9, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

OR is Lopez the Dot.COM stock you rode down to the bottom?

Posted by: JayB | March 9, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

OR is it the home you can not sell because of a bad neighborhood but you decide to put in $5 Million in upgrades in hopes you can sell it

Posted by: JayB | March 9, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Barry, Maybe you could combine updates on the crane with the dining review?

Posted by: dcbatgirl | March 9, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

231....no...... now 6 months after continuously pointing out the flaws in keeping Lopez (while you and others insisted keeping him was the best course of action)....no now all the FA options are signed and gone....best I can tell.....but I am not Jimbo who gets paid to make deals.....and Jimbo is on the hook for Lopez (his Reds guy) so maybe he will look harder now.

Posted by: JayB | March 9, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Yah, Lopez could be valueless. But cutting him now ensures he's valueless. I'll take the uncertainty.

Sometimes you hold Worldcom, but sometimes you hold Schwab and enjoy the bounce back even if it it 50% of its peak.

Posted by: PTBNL | March 9, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

for the last time: there were NO legit free agent options at SS. JayB, if you think Jamey Carroll is the answer, then I choose to politely suggest that you're an idiot and more pertinently point out that you're overlooking his inability to hit in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball (Coors Field) since being moved from the Nationals and his gaping 0-for-3 today and .100-something average this spring. Players like Jamey (as much as we love them for their pluck, effort and likeability) are nobody's idea of long-term solutions at the big-league level. And that is the only kind of player that was available this off-season.

Also, Eckstein, one of your favorite suggestions is a joke of a player, in the sense that he is vastly overrated for most of the same reasons that Jamey Carroll is. He happens to be less mediocre at a few things (like getting hit by pitches) and was lucky enough to play on a World Series-winning team, but that's pretty much all that can be said for him.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 9, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

People in this space said the same thing about JP this past off-season. But in reality it is just as easy keep the crappy player and hope it turns out for the best. Its the jimbo strategy.

Now, that doesn't mean I wouldn't welcome a wonderful trade for some actual talent, younger preferably...

Posted by: natsinthevalley | March 9, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Adam E seemed like a nice choice for what $1.5 Million.....Looks like we are about to pay $5 Million of Lopez to sit the bench and not hit or field. At least he is still a great defensive SS. I don't know Blue Jays are seem like a good team and David E is playing for them. Chris at CP did a whole long write up on the Free Agent and likely tradable SS back in November...But like you say....I'm an idiot and your not.

Posted by: JayB | March 9, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

That is not polite.

---

then I choose to politely suggest that you're an idiot

Posted by: Ms. Manners | March 9, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Folks-

Everett was never an option. I was excited when he was not tendered, but he signed with the Twins withing a day or two. I heard him interviewed on XM the other day. There was no other team he even considered. You can discuss how he would have been a good choice in the abstract, but the two parties made a beeline for each other, and the Nats never had a chance to be in the conversation.

Sometimes an "opportunity" is only n illusion.

In the meantime, both Marrero and Burgess had doubles today, and Burgess had an RBI. There is the real opportunity for this team, even if it is a year or two off.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | March 9, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

I think where there is cash there is a way.

Nats could have traded for him rather than having the Astro's non-tender him or they could have offered more money than the $1.5M. They paid Lopez $4.9 Million and Paul L $5 Million. I think we could out bid the Twins....

Posted by: JayB | March 9, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

On #2 hitters:

I agree that they should not be guys who can bunt, etc. Ideally they are patient hitters, who can run, and hit with some pop. If the lead off hitter is a base stealing threat, they'll see a lot of fastballs. It's nice to have someone there who can sit dead red and hit that out of the yard. NJ would be good although he clogs the bases with his lack of foot speed. The best combo if they perform to capability is Lopez #1, Milledge #2, Johnson #3, and Zim #4.

As far as the SS debate goes, one thing that should not be discounted is continuity. If the Nats had moved Guzman or Lopez they would have changed 3 of the 4 up the middle positions. That's hard for any team to absorb in one year. I've been as critical as anyone in the past of Lopez, but I support giving him one more year to see if he can be.a piece to the puzzle. Too much change can wreak havoc.

Posted by: #4 | March 9, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

There are two main things that kept FLop on the Nats roster this year:

1) PO-tential - a word tossed around to describe FLop more times than anyone can count this offseason. How many times did we hear something like "we all know he has potential, he just has to prove he can produce".

2) Time - the Nats have one or two years before they are going to realistically compete for a division title or post-season berth. A productive FLop is better than any of the retreds that were available on the FA 2B market this offseason. The Nats have the luxury of time and can afford to be patient with FLop for one more year to see if he can live up to his PO-tential.

I think FLop has a better chance of being signed to an extension with a successful season than does Guz. I think JBow wants to distance himself from that move as quickly as possible.

Posted by: MKevin | March 9, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

JayB - where are you getting $1.5 Million for Adam Everett? Cots has $2.8 million. Here is the link:
http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2005/01/minnesota-twins_17.html

And here is a link on MLB.com that also has him at $2.8 million.
http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071213&content_id=2324836&vkey=news_min&fext=.jsp&c_id=min

We all make mistakes (see my math issue above).

Posted by: PTNBL | March 9, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

JayB is wonderful. He simply falls into that large group of unrealistic and not particularly knowledgeable fans who manage to say: Oh, all we have to do is offer x to team y and they will give us player z. Alternately, just make player A an offer without realizing his value (and don't forget he has an agent)in the open market or taking account the realistic free agent market.

And, oh, by the way, there are another 29 GMs out there, many of whom have staffs that have been in place for a number of years.

Now, I enjoy speculation as much as the next guy, but when someone accuses a JimBow of not doing something, when there were truly limited options, it just points up that guys ignorance and lack of perspective.

Posted by: Catcher50 | March 9, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

as +.5St. mentioned earlier, both Marrero and Burgess got their very first hits in a major-league game. Sure, it's only ST, but it still counts. Oh, and they were both doubles, to boot!

Way to go Chirs and Mike! Keep it coming and we'll see you up in DC in no time!!!!!

Posted by: e | March 9, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Doesnt offering Everett more money (than the $2.8 mil he signed for) to "outbid" Minnesota then counteract your point about Lopez being an expensive bench player?

Besides, general managers dont essentially waive a 27 year old SS/2B thats two years removed from a .291/.352/.486 line, regardless of the park he played in.

As for allowing The Jesus to start at catcher, why would the Nats hold him back? The team has obviously shown a willingness to advance prospects quickly. If the staff feels he's not ready, why have him on the major league roster as a backup? Why not allow him to develop with a full season of game experience in AA/AAA?

Personally, I'm not a fan of Bowden. I don't think he's the right guy, longterm, to build a team through player/prospect development.

Yet to continually question management's decisions, especially the Util INF & 5th starter on a 25 man roster, given where this team was a year ago is misguided. Were there options to the preceding course of action? Sure. Heck, the Nats could have drafted Tulowitzki instead of Zimmerman and then traded for Rolen or Glaus this past offseason. Problem solved.

Its easy to be a shoulda/coulda/woulda months down the road, especially when timelines are massaged and memories are short lived & selective. But all GM's make mistakes. Whether its Towers in SD (most recently with the Cameron non-signing) or Cashman in NY (Igawa, Pavano, Jaret Wright, etc), even the most tenured GM's have a history of (minor) failure. It's the nature of the business.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | March 9, 2008 8:45 PM | Report abuse

"Now, I enjoy speculation as much as the next guy, but when someone accuses a JimBow of not doing something, when there were truly limited options, it just points up that guys ignorance and lack of perspective.Now, I enjoy speculation as much as the next guy, but when someone accuses a JimBow of not doing something, when there were truly limited options, it just points up that guys ignorance and lack of perspective."

Or how much that guy's perspective is clouded by his personal dislike of Jim Bowden...

Posted by: Section 419 | March 9, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Interesting speculation about Belliard from Ken Rosenthal via mlbtraderumors.com:

The Nationals are dealing with a surplus at second base, and Rosenthal believes that Ron Belliard is the most logical piece to move, what with his $1.6MM salary this season, and his $1.9MM for next. Rosenthal pinpoints the Rockies (perhaps too little range on the right side with Jeff Baker and Todd Helton), Cardinals, Twins, and White Sox as potential trade partners.

The Rockies appear to have the best/deepest farm system among the four according to Sickels, Baseball America, Law & Baseball Prospectus.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | March 9, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Barry hit it out of the park again with a beautiful piece on Kearns and Johnson.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 9, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

interesting, Los Doce Ocho, especially after what i posted about Chris Nelson, the #77 prospect on keith law's list, who's blocked by tulo in colorado. wonder what we'd have to add to belliard to get nelson?

Posted by: 231 | March 9, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

a lefty starter prospect? Just guessing.

On the (misguided) assumption all teams have blogs like this one, I wonder what the Rox fans would say they'd take?
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wonder what we'd have to add to belliard to get nelson?
Posted by: 231 | March 9, 2008 09:40 PM

Posted by: CE | March 9, 2008 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Thats interesting. At this time of the year with roster cuts looming, it appears as though Belliard has less value than he did in July before the deadline. Especially with Boone/Lopez/Harris as 25 man roster options at 2B.

I'd imagine Belliard and a reliever could get Nelson and a lower level minor league arm.

Seems like Nelson and Desmond are on similar career paths...started off strong with lots of hype after the 2004 draft, then had several off years with a recent bounce back year and both are headed to start in AA.

I'm sure all teams see the roster crunch the Nats have for the last several spots on the 25 man roster and would welcome a "buy low" type trade or signing a guy the Nats ended up waiving. Thats gotta hurt the Nats trade leverage.

I hope Bowden is able to juggle the roster and keep as many assets as possible. Based on the injury history of many of the SP's & INF's, the team will need the depth. Plus, trading a guy at the deadline for a Shairon Martis/Jhonny Nunez type is a good thing.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | March 9, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

I realize you aren't saying they're equivalent, but if they are similar, why get Nelson?
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Seems like Nelson and Desmond are on similar career paths: started off strong with lots of hype after the 2004 draft, then had several off years with a recent bounce back year and both are headed to start in AA.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | March 9, 2008 10:25 PM

Posted by: CE | March 9, 2008 10:35 PM | Report abuse

or more to the point, why give up pitching and a proven starter to get him?

Posted by: CE | March 9, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

maybe a similar path with desmond, but nelson seems to have come through it more successfully. he's hit much better in the minors (100 career OPS differences, altho some of that could be due to differences in leagues). and he's at least on one top 100 prospects list.

who knows, tho. they're both in fairly low levels. we're so light in MI prospects, though, i'd be happy to see them both in there.

Posted by: 231 | March 9, 2008 10:39 PM | Report abuse

well. belliard isn't part of the future of this team. if we have alternatives to him and he brings a part of the future, it's worth considering.

and i think there's evidence (stats and rankings) to say that nelson is better than desmond. or at least considered better right now.

Posted by: 231 | March 9, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

I wasnt suggesting trading for Nelson, only answering a question on a potential Belliard for Nelson deal.

I'd trade all the players caught in a roster crunch for pitching. Pick up a young arm or two or three and let St Claire, Rick Tomlin and Randy Tomlin coach them up.

I doubt any of the last couple spots on the Nats 25 man roster could be traded for a high level middle infield prospect straight up, though, which is where the Nats are sorely lacking.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | March 9, 2008 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Another Rosenthal via mlbtraderumors.com tidbit on Belliard:

An update to the Ken Rosenthal article discussed earlier suggests that either Esteban German or Ron Belliard would be better, cheaper alternatives for the Dodgers than Joe Crede or Brandon Inge. It would take less to get Belliard or German, they're paid less, and either of them could backup Jeff Kent, 40, at second base in addition to playing third. Both players are "attracting the Dodgers' interest" according to Rosenthal.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | March 9, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

hmm...

now i need to troll the dodgers' prospect lists...

Posted by: 231 | March 9, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

btw, another top SS prospect from the rockies (ranked 95 overall by baseball america), hector gomez. nelson wasn't on BBAs list.

http://www.todaysprospect.com/d03.05

Posted by: 231 | March 9, 2008 11:33 PM | Report abuse

An interesting guy for COL is Joe Koshansky. He's been blocked by Helton at 1B for a couple years. He's a local guy who went to Chantilly HS and UVA and has put up some pretty strong minor league #'s. He is a big guy, so I doubt he could play OF, but he could be another option if COL was interested.


Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | March 9, 2008 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Catcher50 says...."JayB is wonderful. He simply falls into that large group of unrealistic and not particularly knowledgeable fans who manage to say: Oh, all we have to do is offer x to team y and they will give us player z"

In the case you speak of I was pointing out the Astro's cut (non-tendered) Adam E....so is it "unrealistice and not particularly knowledgebable" to say they would have accepted say Mike O'Conner instead of nothing?

Please enlighten us all with your wisdom Catcher 50 because I clearly have none?

All this starts with my premise that Nats can improve on decisions made and others saying that "nobody is avaliable and Jimbo has done everything possible and this is the best that there is.....which approach is as you call it " unrealistic and not particularly knowledgeable"?

Posted by: JayB | March 10, 2008 4:32 AM | Report abuse

The Rosenthal article gets even more interesting down the page:

"The Nationals, dealing with a surplus at second base, should have little difficulty trading Cristian Guzman, Ron Belliard or Bret Boone. The Orioles, for starters, might need a replacement for Roberts. Several other clubs also could stand to improve at second.

Start with the Rockies, who lost free agent Kaz Matsui to the Astros. At the moment, Jeff Baker is outhitting Jayson Nix, a defensive specialist, but a Baker-Todd Helton combination might leave the team with too little range on the right side.

The White Sox are looking at Juan Uribe, Danny Richar, Pablo Ozuna and Alexei Ramirez. The Twins are trying to decide between Brendan Harris and Nick Punto. The Cardinals aren't all that happy with Adam Kennedy.

Belliard, earning $1.6 million this season and $1.9 million next season, is perhaps the most logical player for the Nationals to trade. Guzman is too expensive at $4.2 million, and the Nats already employ Boone's father, Bob, in the front office, and brother Aaron, as an infield reserve.

A comeback by Bret would be difficult to resist."

It really does sound like our man Belliard makes sense to trade, but it is interesting that he started by saying the Nats should have no trouble trading one of them. Again, although the Guzman signing has been a failure, a trade of either Belliard or Boone would be yet another buy-low, sell-high for Bowden. I really love these kinds of moves.

Posted by: Positively Half St | March 10, 2008 5:41 AM | Report abuse

Hmm. It seems NJ is not yet observing Daylight Savings Time.

Posted by: Positively Half St | March 10, 2008 5:43 AM | Report abuse

One more thing- Is anyone getting close to revising their projected starting rotations to replace Matt Chico? He is going to need a solid start or two to make the team.

Posted by: Positively Half St | March 10, 2008 5:45 AM | Report abuse

Backing up Barry -- I was in the stands and cussed myself for leaving my camera in the condo. Barry, you should have mentioned the faux pax by the Space Coast Stadium scoreboard operator who erroneously posted #00 Blue Heron" on the board when the bird did its thing. Quite a sight.
PS Sandhills cranes do pass through the DC area on their migration. There's a good exhibit on them at the US wildlife refuge somewhere near Laurel, just off BW Pkwy.

Posted by: Sandhills Native | March 10, 2008 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Barry, great article in today's 50-cent edition on friendship between Nick and Austin. Boy am I going to miss you. P.S. I vote for crane over raccoon.

Posted by: Section 109 | March 10, 2008 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps the heron was a pinch runner for the crane?

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Barry, you should have mentioned the faux pax by the Space Coast Stadium scoreboard operator who erroneously posted #00 Blue Heron" on the board when the bird did its thing.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 10, 2008 7:37 AM | Report abuse

I see the annual spring training bashing of Christian Guzman is in full swing. This year we have Lopez to kick around as well.

While I agree that Guzman has limited range as a shortstop, his financial compensation is not over market prices. He was well on his way to a comeback player type performance last year when his thumb was bent back. Switch Hitter, above average baserunner. His numbers last year were much closer to his career average (higher). He's not old. If he stays with the Nats he will likely hit 30 doubles and ten triples. Maybe 10 HR and 10 SB as well. I'm not exactly sure where we would find better. Lopez has slightly better range, but less consistency with his throwing at SS. He's tradeable - particularly if he starts to hit (still 2 weeks left in ST). The Orioles should take him. They need him. The Reds, Giants, and all the other teams mentioned that are looking for a 2B.

Put Guzman between Zimmerman and gold glove Boone and his range issues are not so bad. He makes the plays he gets to.

Posted by: NatBisquit | March 10, 2008 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Put Guzman between Zimmerman and gold glove Boone and his range issues are not so bad. He makes the plays he gets to.

Posted by: NatBisquit | March 10, 2008 07:41 AM
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How much range does the 38 year old Boone have at second? I can't imagine he could play better than average defense at this stage in his career. Maybe average, but I would think his range factor would be considerably less than Belly or FLop or any other second baseman out there.

Posted by: e | March 10, 2008 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Exactly NatBisquit. I wondered, in another post, why Guzman was not being mentioned for his brief but excellent season last year as well as his, once again great spring. He did have shoulder and eye problems. Maybe, just maybe, he's for real. Of course, My comments were shot down by at least one of the resident experts, but I guess that's to be expected.
Also,I have a good feeling about Desmond, who has potencially more to offer than Nelson, or some of the other prospects mentioned.
And I'll take Zimmerman over Tulowitski any day of the week. Ah, it feels good to vent.

Posted by: Jeeves | March 10, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

...to be continued in the new post :)

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 10, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Don't know whether this refers to my "not one of the usual suspects" quote but to clarify, a Sandhill Crane sighting in our area is a rare-bird-sighting-hotline-type of bird and thus not one of the usual suspects. I believe that sightings are more common now than they were 20 years ago (according to the 3rd edition - 1987 - of Virginia's Birdlife: An Annotated Checklist, there were 9 records of sightings for the state from 1965 to 1986. (We now return you to your regularly scheduled Nationals Journal, but until next time, "enjoy our wild America." :-))

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PS Sandhills cranes do pass through the DC area on their migration. There's a good exhibit on them at the US wildlife refuge somewhere near Laurel, just off BW Pkwy.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 10, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

All I can say is: There you have it: the nominee for pulitzer award for sports writing.

Posted by: kball | March 10, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

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