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Smoker Has Shoulder Surgery

This just in, from the AP:

Washington Nationals pitching prospect Josh Smoker has had surgery to remove a bone spur from his throwing shoulder and is expected to be ready for spring training.
Dr. James Andrews performed the operation Tuesday.
The left-handed Smoker, who turns 20 this month, went 0-4 with an 11.50 ERA at Class A Hagerstown and 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2008.

By Tracee Hamilton  |  November 12, 2008; 3:55 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: O's Have Bigger Makeover (Update)
Next: The Promised Smoker Update


Tracee, what is this bullpucky?! Dr. James Andrews is not on the Nationals, this is a Nationals only blog!

Posted by: Section506 | November 12, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

The left-handed Smoker, who turns 20 this month, went 0-4 with an 11.50 ERA at Class-A Hagerstown and 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2008.

So the question is this: Does the 0-4 record and 11.50 ERA reflect the shoulder difficulties or the level of competition he faced. If it is the latter, that's trouble...

Posted by: TimDz | November 12, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Do we have a medical analyst here? A bone spur in the shoulder - is this somethiing that affects the labrum or rotator cuff? Anything with the shoulder sounds serious, especially for a 20 year old. This sounds like a stitch in time, perhaps, and maybe prevents more serous injuries. Anyone knowledgeable out there?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | November 12, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

What is this junk? Minor league pitching? WashPost's coverage is totally lacking. We moved on from the O's update without any kind of detail, for example on the thread count of the new uni's. Is Angelos sending these guys out in inferior fabric? Or is he spending money on high quality uniforms? How does it compare to the thread count those cheapskate Learners pay for?

If this lack of depth in the baseball coverage continues much longer, I'm leaving this blog (and the paper) forever.

Posted by: wahoo2x | November 12, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

The report on said that Andrews said the rotator cuff and the labrum looked good. It strikes me as odd for a not-yet-20-year-old who pitched 44.1 innings in the minors this summer to develop a bone spur. But I am no doctor.

(BTW, has him pitching 18 innings the past two professional seasons but that's not what I find at baseball (48.1).)

Posted by: Tracee Hamilton | November 12, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse


Well wouldn't that be a shame.

Posted by: soundbloke | November 12, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Now let me get this straight. One of the Washington Nationals' top prospects has shoulder surgery, and the Post gets its account from the AP. The team up the road decides to put the name of its city on its uniforms, and the Post has a reporter on hand. O-kay.

Actually, not okay.

Posted by: nunof1 | November 12, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Soundbloke, it strikes me as at least possible that Wahoo2x might have been employing a linguistic device that rhymes with "shark."

JCA, I found this for you:

"Another common site for bone spurs is the shoulder. Your shoulder joint is able to move in a number of directions due to its complex structure. Over time, the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that make up your shoulder can wear against one another. The muscles that allow you to lift and rotate your arm (called the rotator cuff) start at your shoulder blade and are attached to your upper arm with tendons. As these tendons move through the narrow space between the top of your shoulder and your upper arm, they can rub on the bones. Bone spurs can form in this narrow area that, in turn, pinch the rotator cuff tendons, resulting in irritation, inflammation, stiffness, weakness, pain, and sometimes tearing of the tendon. This condition, rotator cuff disorder, commonly occurs with age and/or repetitive use of the shoulder. It is also common in athletes, especially baseball players, and in people such as painters who frequently work with their arms above their heads."

So, at the end of the day, it sounds more like a cleanup job to prevent future injury as opposed to cause for imminent concern.

Posted by: BobLHead | November 12, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I dunno, BobLHead, I re-read that post a couple times and it was definitely not bark.

Posted by: Section506 | November 12, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

And of course all of you (Tracee included) totally miss the real issue with what Tracee did re the Orioles uniforms. There's no problem with the Post covering that if they find it newsworthy, which they did in their Baseball Insider blog. There's no need though for her to rush right in and stick a pointer to it in Nationals Journal as she did. If Post readers are interested in baseball in general, presumably they're already reading Baseball Insider and will see it there anyway. If you don't get it, you don't get it. And sadly the Post does not yet get it. Will they catch on before the print edition finally expires? It will be a horse race, that's for sure...

Posted by: nunof1 | November 12, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the info, Bob, and thatnks for the laugh, 506.

Posted by: JohninMpls | November 12, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Can someone please explain to me why people here feel the need to trash a blogger (Tracee) who is providing Nats/baseball news? Good God, hold your scorn for bigger things like the financial market meltdown.

Posted by: AshburnVA | November 12, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Have you ever typed something like "thatnks" and hit submit, only to realize your blunder in that fateful pause between clicking and publication?

It's like locking your keys in your car. There's that brief moment just beore the car door shuts when you realize what an idiotic thing you've just done.

Is there a word for that realization?

Posted by: JohninMpls | November 12, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Kinda like right after voting for Obama?
It's like locking your keys in your car. There's that brief moment just beore the car door shuts when you realize what an idiotic thing you've just done.

Is there a word for that realization?

Posted by: TimDz | November 12, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

thanks for the update Tracee. This is the type of stuff that belongs in this blog, in my opinion.

Hopefully Smoker's "rwady for ST" timetable holds.

Posted by: MrMadison | November 12, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

oh my god.

I now know how you feel, JohninMpls.

"rwady"? really?

that should say "ready"

Posted by: MrMadison | November 12, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse


You beat me to the punch, I was thinking the same thing myself.

Posted by: Section505203 | November 12, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I forget who it was from, but I saw and entry somewhere about Smoker having lost some velocity this year, hopefully this was the cause and he didn't develop a permanent case of "sucking".

Back to the hot stove and Olsen/Willingham debate; I still love this trade, but we do need to be realistic about how much value we have added to the team. Hopefully the Nats Brain Trust feels the same way.

I like Willingham as a replacement for Kearns and potential replacement for Johnson if/when he goes down.

I like Olsen as a replacement for Chico/Martis/O'Connor et al as the #4 pitcher. Teamed with Lannan we have two solid lefty pitchers.

I think we hold onto Redding until the trade deadline when (God willing) we'll have other options for the #1 slot. Balester looks like a good #3 pitcher with some growth potential and I'm betting Jordan Zimmermann is the #5/swing man out of ST with Clippard and Martis on standby in AAA.

The outstanding issue is still another lefty bat to augment/replace Nick Johnson. Without Nick we have absolutely NO lefties in the line-up and only slap hittings from that side at all.

We have pieces to trade, and without getting into our blue chip prospects like Marrero, Burgess, Gonzales, etc. I see Belliard as a sure bet to be traded, Redding is possible (though as I mentioned above next year is better if he can have another good first half, plus he's a good mentor and provides some stability and insurance). I believe Kearns still has some value if healthy, his OBP is pretty good, he's a plus defender and he might regain his power stroke in a favorable park, say Philly or Texas among others. What might Redding and Kearns (and $5mil) return from the Rangers?

Posted by: estuartj | November 12, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I think there is a word for that, JiMpls, and I think that we've even discussed that very phenomenon on here before. Natsfan1a, the resident historian, may be able to bring that conversation forth from the archives.

In the meantime, I'd offer that "type-d'oh!" (in other words, the Homeresque version of typo) covers the thought fairly well for online postings.

I absolutely love your parallel to the car door situation, though. The height of such moments for me came when I was in high school and the family minivan (yes, my ride was unbeatable) had a dead battery one evening. Confident that I could take care of the problem if I just flagged somebody down in the parking lot to give me a jump, I put the key in the ignition, popped the hood, and locked the doors before getting out of the car to look for a potential benefactor. And as the door swings shut, that realization you so aptly described dawned...

To this day, I have never been able to figure out why, oh why, did I ever lock the doors?

Posted by: faNATic | November 12, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Tracee, I'd like to belabor a point based on what I feel is your ineffectual update.

I go to to find Keith Law stating Bowden blew off two media sessions during the GM meetings. I go to to find Perotto mentioning the potential 10 yr/$200 million offer to Teixeira. According to's Tim Brown, Bowden is telling everyone (except the WP?) the Nats will be players in the Manny bidding. This is all within the last week. And now we hear from the omnipotent AP about Smoker's surgery. A Nats insider must have contacted everyone national sports news agency before leaking the Olsen trade to the WP. Or did you guys just cut and paste what Gammons initially reported?

I can appreciate notice of a rare logo change as much as the next guy (5 different primary BAL logos since Angelos took over...thats rare?), but I can't appreciate what appears to be little desire by the WP to provide insight on the Nats.

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | November 12, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and as we regenerate the hot stove chatter, I liked this (non-subscription-required) article at Baseball Prospectus re: the needs and foreseeable moves of the NL East. It has some post-trade analysis for both sides of the deal buried within.

Posted by: faNATic | November 12, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I was looking at Texas' roster and I think the Kearns to TX idea has merit. If healthy Austin would be an improvement on David Murphy or Nelson Cruz. I've already argued the Redding to Texas option to death, but I'm at a loss as to what Texas has to offer us, Blaylock is an option if Texiera isn't signable, although I'm hesitatant to add yet another 1B only player (except for Texiera of course!).

Texas does have a Dominican pitcher is AA I like, Neftali Feliz, who has a 2.69 ERA in 127.1 innings this year. However, with the state of TX's pitching he is likely untouchable. Saltalmaccia is an interesting option being a switch hitter and able to play some 1B, but I don't think the organization puts as much of a premium in #2 catcher as I would (why have roster spot for a guy who only plays once a week? (Although if Willingham can be your emergency catcher you have more flexibility to PH your backup catcher).

Posted by: estuartj | November 12, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

It strikes me as at least possible that Wahoo2x might have been employing a linguistic device that rhymes with "shark."

Posted by: BobLHead | November 12, 2008 4:29 PM


I promise you it was not shark (much less any sort of serious suggestion that this site has jumped one). It wasn't a bark, at least not at Tracee. It was more a modest remark that certain thin-skinned coverage-is-lacking folks might want to retreat to an ark (or at least the Times).

True, with Chico's vacation we're a bit in the dark, and yes the O's uniform coverage was an unfortunate lark. But it never ceases to amaze me how much folks really seem to give a fark -- not about events at the park, but only when they feel wounded by coverage they think is wide of the mark.

So yes, it's true, I think the O's silliness today was deserving of snark.

Posted by: wahoo2x | November 12, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of catchers says that Arizona Catcher Miguel Montero may be available for a 2nd baseman. I was thinking Belliard and Ian Desmond to ARI for Montero who (being a lefty) would make a good platoon mate with Jesus Flores.

Montero (who is only 25) hit .255/.330/.435 in 207 plate appearances this year. He's under team control through 2012.

Posted by: estuartj | November 12, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Good find estuartj. Hopefully we could just offer Belly for Montero straight up.

I think we were trying to pry him loose from ARI last off season as well?

Also, I nominate the most recent wahoo2x for post of the day.

Posted by: NattyDelite | November 12, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to try logging in and posting again, though the other day my computer connection died after I did so (coincidental, perhaps, but bad majo for my 'puter).

Nice word play by wahoo.

faNATic, I do recall a discussion about such posting instances but can't recall the term that was used. Postus interruptus comes to mind, but that may have been for instances when one responds to a post only to find that an intervening post has fogged the context. Can't recall who came up with the term either.

Oh, and I'm with those who don't care to read Borioles news here, though I take the point about the DC connection. Heck, I may even give Angelo$ some of my hard-earned money next year so I can watch my new favorite AL team (no, not them, silly - the Rays) play at Baltimore.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 12, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

By the way, weren't the bad guys in "Waterworld" known as "The Smokers"?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | November 12, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Neftali Perez is 20 years old, and, at least by CBS sprotsline, rated as the top TX prospect, ahead of Elvis Andrus and Max Ramirez. That's pretty high, but if they really needed Kearns, maybe not too high. However, I'd think they'd bring back Milton Bradley first, and I have a hard time seeing TX trade yet another of their best pitching prospects after Danks, Volquez, and Young. Then again, if their dumb enough to trade Danks and Young, then . . .

Baseball America had him listed as the #2 prospect in the Midwest (highA? lowA?) league. No updated top 10 for the Rangers yet on BA's site.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | November 12, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Type-d'ohs galore. Neftali Feliz, CBS Sportsline, . . .

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | November 12, 2008 7:42 PM | Report abuse

>I like Olsen as a replacement for Chico/Martis/O'Connor et al as the #4 pitcher. Teamed with Lannan we have two solid lefty pitchers<

Makes you wonder if they should throw those two back-to-back in the rotation. That way, your chances increase that they throw in the same series to the same team. I mean, how many times do you have to go against lefties back-to-back? Almost never. They both have excellent changeups. The hitters can have flashbacks. And Olsen has the heat. He really is nasty to gauge, he's tall, so the ball comes down or in and out at an extreme angle anyway, and now he's pitching in all three spheres - fastball, slider/breaking ball, and changeup. I mean, life ain't bad when you're 24, and you've just mastered your changeup grip. The only thing he has to look forward to is mastering another changeup.

Posted by: Brue | November 12, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Bruce i wouldnt say that Olsen's changeup is mastered he just learned it.

Posted by: j-dog1 | November 12, 2008 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Not from the Washington Post:

"Yesterday, Yahoo's Tim Brown suggested the Nationals and Jim Bowden were "promising everyone they're going to be players in the Manny bidding." However, Bowden sent an email to's Bill Ladson today: "We are not pursuing Manny Ramirez."

Ladson says the Nationals are still in the market for a lefthanded slugger - Mark Teixeira, Adam Dunn, and Prince Fielder remain on the radar. And despite their abundance of outfielders, they've expressed interest in new Rockie Carlos Gonzalez."


Posted by: LosDoceOcho | November 12, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

That typo thing -- I think it's called a gr@mblfr%tz$nj@hn!nmpls

Posted by: fischy | November 12, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

"I was looking at Texas' roster and I think the Kearns to TX idea has merit."

I thought they didn't like Austin in Dallas...

Posted by: Section506 | November 13, 2008 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Found it, faNATic! But I really like "type- d'oh" as well (and yes, I probably should get a life).

What is the term for the period between the moment when one hits "submit" and the moment when one notices a typo in one's posting (such as an omitted end parenthesis)? :)
Posted by: natsfan1a | January 21, 2008 5:08 PM

"What is the term for the period between the moment when one hits 'submit' and the moment when one notices a typo in one's posting (such as an omitted end parenthesis)? :)"

That would perhaps be an "ignisecond," also defined on as follows:
"The overlapping moment of time when the hand is locking the car door even as the brain is saying, 'my keys are in there!'"
Posted by: Hendo | January 21, 2008 5:24 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 13, 2008 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Man, that's weird. I must've read that, because I was clearly channeling it when I wrote my post yesterday.

So what's the word for when you think you're saying or asking something original, but you're unintentionally pulling from some past, forgotten knowledge?


Posted by: JohninMpls | November 13, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Austin, Dallas - all those places south of the Occoquan are the same ;-)

Slight diversion, but below is a link to another column (I'll update the EE# at the start of next season) discussing 2 points - (1) just how bad a team can go signing FA starters to long contracts, and (2) the difficulties in projecting bullpen performance.

Suggests Burnett is looking for $16 - 18 million and years, and notes his health problems. Sliva is noted, and the FA class of 2006 is cited as a particluar disaster. 2006 had 10 - 15 starters sign multi-year contracts, and the only ones who have consistently pitched "well" have been Lilly, Meche, and (I need a Red Bull to watch him) Dice-K. Mussina, it should be noted, was on a new 1 year contract last year. The bullpen discussion points out the difficulty in projecting performance year to year due to small numbers.

Relevant to the Nats, this would suggest Olsen may be worth a roll of the dice at controlled costs rather than getting drawn into overpaying for non-elite starters. Of the FAs pitchers, you have to a good understanding of Burnett's and Sheets's physical problems before committing big bucks to them. Can CC stay healthy at that weight and with his innings load? Is Dempster a flash in the pan? Lowe has been reliable health-wise, but he is 36.

Burnett threw a ton of innings last year after being hurt the "prior" (pun intended) years of his contract. Of the above, I might be tempted to gamble if I had confidence in his health. I might pass on Sheets and Dempster unless the market falls for them. CC and Lowe I don't think are realistic.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | November 13, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

That's good, John! Another possibility might be "originot."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 13, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Chirp-chirp. T-minus 14 hours until FA season opens.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | November 13, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Dear Tracee, Chico, Dave, and all the fine reporters at the Washington Post:

Thank you for your fine work on this Blog and the MLB Insiders Blog. I am very appreciative of every little post you add. For me, every baseball kernal whether directly related to the Nats or not is much appreciated. My browser allows me to blow right past any information that I am not interested in, but to be honest you have not to date provided anything that I was not delighted to read.

Please keep up the good work! Your work brightens my day!

Posted by: natbisquit | November 13, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if the next step in our off season plans is to re-stock the farm system selling of MLB talent. Belliard, Kearns and Redding all could draw interest in the right circumstance (and we would have to eat at least half of Kearns '09 salary). Both Kearns and Redding would likely be selling low, but trading Belliard seems a sure bet since he hit very well last season, is a FA after '09 and is very affordable this season. Anyone looking for some veteran leadership in the infield and/or insurance at multiple infield positions would find Belli very attractive.

Posted by: estuartj | November 13, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I hope not... that's what the last 2 years have been about and goes against all of the public rhetoric coming from the FO so far this off-season. They've been pretty consistently saying they need a #4 hitter. They haven't gotten that yet.

Of the 3 you mentioned, Belli has the most value. Redding has value at least from a durability/consistency perspective. You can reasonably assume you're getting 6 innings from him every 5th day. OTH - Kearns is in the same category as Nick - he's got to prove he's healthy and productive before you get any value for him - and as our OF gets more and more crowded with younger players, it's getting harder and harder for me to see where he gets any regular playing time. Those opportunities are even fewer if they go after Gonzalez as well. You have to figure at least one of Dukes/Millidge/Willingham/Kearns/Pena has to be included in any package for Gonzalez.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | November 13, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Rickety, please don't think that I think they should be "Done" on improvements for '09, I do think that they need to clear out some of the "dead wood" on the roster to make room for players like Texiera. DFA'ing WMP and Casto is probably the very next step, but as you say, Kearns and Belliard aren't going to see much playing time so even though trading Kearns would be selling low (plus the anguish of eating at least half his salary) his value is only going to go down when he only plays 2 days a week or as an 8th-9th inning defensive replacement. I think tradeing any of the 3 for MLB players will be tough, but if all 3 were traded this off-season they could return a half dozen or so decent prospects, say guys in the line of VanAllen and Desmond rather than a Marrero, Zimmermann or Burgess.

Posted by: estuartj | November 13, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Amusing myself at lunch time:

Milledge played in 138 games, batted .268 in 538 atbats with 38 walks and 14 HBP fir a .330 OBP. He stole 24 bases and was caught 9 times for a 72% success rate. He also had 24 doubles and 14 HR for a .402 SLG. He batted .272 vs RH pitching and .258 vs LH pitching. At home he was .279 with 7HR and away .255 with 7HR.
He batted .245 in the first half and .299 in the second half. He'll be 24 on April 5th.

Those of us who watched him play defense all year can generally agree on the following observations: 1) He has trouble judging balls hit directly at him in CF; 2) His fielding fundamentals got better as the year went on; 3)he is capable of covering alot of territory when he gets a good jump; 4) he doesn't always get a good jump; and 5) his arm is not strong enough for CF, but was generally accurate.

He also improved as a baserunner over the course of the year. Early on he ran without looking up. As the year progressed he relied (and followed) his coach more faithfully (something that was only marginally better given Tim Tolman was a poor judge as 3B coach). He still has some progress to make as a base stealer, but he is fast enough and coachable enough to improve significantly.

Personally I am hopeful that Lastings remains on the team and is given the opportunity to continue to improve. I believe he can be a .280 hitter with 25+ HR and 30+ SB consistently for the next 10 years. That won't earn him an MVP, but it will likely give him an opportuntiy to play a major role on a winning team. I also think that his youthful energy will blossom into veteran leadership over the next few years.

Posted by: natbisquit | November 13, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

estuartj - I think we're both on the same page. There's a glut in the OF that needs to be handled one way or another. I'm having a real difficult time understanding the Gonzalez rumors unless a move to get him either includes another OF'r or is closely followed by one or two falling to the headsman. Let's face it, in order to add any real value in trade for a #4 hitter they're going to have to dig into their pitching prospects. Imagine the mixture of excitement and angst should something like that be pulled off.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | November 13, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't see them being willing to give up the prospects needed to get a "True" lefty clean-up hitter. Far far better to give up the 2nd round draft pick for a Texiera or Dunn then to give away half the minors for Prince Fielder.

I do think they can get some interesting prospect back for the 3 I mentioned and maybe some ML role players like Montero (ARI Catcher), Saltalmaccia (TX Catcher) or a middle of the rotation pitcher (any more ideas?) without giving up everything in the cupboard.

Posted by: estuartj | November 13, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Stupid responsibilities at work... made me miss my 10 hour mark. Oh well...

Chirp-chirp. T-minus 9 hours 55 minutes until FA Season opens.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | November 13, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Agreed... I think the asking price on Fielder is going to be too steep in terms of prospects. I'm glad they're at least talking about the big guys out there. I also agree on the potential return for Belli and Redding. I just think they're going to have a hard time moving Kearns. I think if he's moved it's during ST if he shows he's healthy and playing well.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | November 13, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

New post!

Posted by: JohninMpls | November 13, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

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