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Marrero Invited To Camp

Based on the current situation, few positions for the Washington Nationals will receive more attention this spring than first base. It's a hole where an injury-prone veteran, Nick Johnson, is for now the best option. It's a hole the Nats might yet be able to fill with a free agent signing.

But now, there will be another reason to keep an eye on first base this spring. That's because Chris Marrero -- likely the Nats' first baseman of the future -- will be in camp. Marrero today became a late addition to Washington's roster of spring training invitees, and will attend his first big league camp, which opens on Feb. 14.

Marrero, 20, was Washington's first-round pick in the 2006 draft. He's coming back from a fibula injury that ended his season last June, just as his bat was starting to get hot. His final stats from 2007, spent entirely with Class A Potomac: .250 AVG, 256 AB, 15 2B, 11 HR, 38 RBI, .325 OBP, .453 SLG.

By Chico Harlan  |  January 29, 2009; 9:05 PM ET
 
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Comments

I like this invitation, as it gets him ready for what the grind will be like in (hopefully) 1 or 2 years.

What might be interesting is if he shows he is capable of 1) playing the position well (I believe he started at 3B, then OF?) and 2) If his bat can hit ML Pitching.

If the answer to both of those is yes, then have him platoon with Johnson. This let's Johnson teach him how to play the position well defensively, and also help develop his eye to the ML level.

All of this is obviously predicated by a huge "IF." But it's the offseason, a man is allowed to hope!

Posted by: NattyDelite | January 29, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Let me change the above a bit:

A Nats fan is allowed to hope!

That's more amenable for the whole crowd, and some of the better posters here as well I hope!

Posted by: NattyDelite | January 29, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

hate to be a poopy pants, but Marrero to spring training is a nothing-burger announcement. Teams will invite players to camp just so they can hang out with the major leaguers and their coaches, eat good meals, fill in for scrimmages, and just get a flavor for the major leagues. If Marrero advances to AA and has some success, he gets a September call up. Short of that, he's not even on the 40 man roster until 2010.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 29, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

jca-poopypants, er...crystal city. I completely agree with you. I tried to state that in my first sentence/line.

I just haven't seen any other announcement or news thread that's inspired anything in me lately! Marrero is my only real thread to the something new and hopefully good at 1B!

Posted by: NattyDelite | January 29, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

The lack of news means that Trader Jim is hard at work.

With an ego like Bowden's, I can't believe that he doesn't closely follow the news about his team and himself. His minor league rankings plummeting, fans on the team's case about the lack of changes, his own ranking as the "worst GM".

Something's up. Chico? Any inklings?

Posted by: nattydread1 | January 30, 2009 1:04 AM | Report abuse

I'm with poopypants. This is nice for the kid, but doesn't really change much - until he shows differently, he was a .778 OPS player in A-ball. I hope the taste of the bigs (even in spring training) motivates him to fulfill the goals he has, but for the big club this year, this really probably means nothing.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | January 30, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

If the team is to be believed, there will be no major free agent pitchers signed and they are content to go into the season with a nominative rotation of Olsen, Lannan, Cabrera, Balester, and Zimmermann. Among other things that seems to say that Odalis Perez, Tom Glavine, and Mark Mulder are off the table. I thought they might show interest in trading for Rich Hill but that has not percolated up to date. It seems no team in baseball is interested in trading a prospect right now. Overpaid and overstocked pitchers are probably available but it's not clear that the Nationals would see value in the player when the other team does not. So unless they sign another minor free agent seeking to bounce back from injury or underperformance, the team will enter spring training with the above mentioned rotation plus Hill, Towers, Chacin, Clippard, Bergmann, Chico, Detwiler, and Martis competing to break through. I'm currently viewing Cabrera as the weak link there, but Balester needs improved control as well,

Randy St. Claire is a good solid pitching coach but he will have his work cut out for him.

Posted by: natbisquit | January 30, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Slight switch of topics, but my usual pre-work (ok, during work is usual too) browsing of fangraphs came across a nice article and set of comments on the value of the classic "innings eater" John Garland who can give you 200 innings of mediocre performance v. say 120 innnings of superior performance from an RJ or a Sheets. Seidman makes the case you can get more wins above replacement from the Supernova and 80 innings of a replacement starter as you can from 200 innings of yawn inducing Garland types. There is some vigorous counterarguments and a good back and forth. Take a look:
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/a-replacement-b

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 30, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

NatsBisquit - I think you've hit it on the rotation. I'm sure there will be some cheap veteran comeback signees available in March that would be the equivalent of Redding and Perez last year, but I think the team has given every indication that they view this year as a year to blood the young'ns and see what they have. In that spirit, I think both Olsen and Cabrera are more of a crap-shoot than Lannan, Balester, and Zimmermann. JimBo decided that if they were going to bring in vets who could go innings, bring in ones who have been eratic but possess an upside rather than steadier ones. Kind of why I'd like to see two more relievers brought in, becuase the Nats are going to need them.

In a way, it kind of begs the question as to why Perez and Redding were not traded last July. Redding's ERA was still under 4 on 7/31. I think he had a horrible start right before the trade deadline, but that more or less shows JimBo got caught holding the Lehman stock and not dumping it in time.

So, we've said you need to go into the year with at least 7 starters between your rotation and high minors. My guess is that, behind the 5 front runners, 6-7-8 are Hill, Martis, and Bergmann. Martis has options, so he starts in Syracuse. Hill and Bergmann might be more difficult to stash if healthy, so perhaps with Hill especially it is "He's healthy, he's in the rotation" and JZ gets a managed workload in Syracuse before a callup in May/June, and if Hil isn't healthy, it's the 60-day DL again. With Bergmann, it's longman stashee on the 25 man.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 30, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

this is nice news, does it solve our problem at first base? no. one easy indicator if the Nats are taking this season seriously is if they make a REAL move to have a solid first baseman ready to go on opening day. Nick is a nice guy, but he's played 38 games in 2 seasons. Not exactly Mr. Reliable...

Posted by: dcvoterboy | January 30, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

A state of affairs from an optimistic perspective-By 2010, it is entirely possible the Nats could have a #1 pitcher in Strasberg, a #2 in Zimmermann, a #4 or 5 in Lannan. I truly believe at least one of Ballester, Martis, Olsen, Mock, Atilano or Cabrera(big doubts on this one) could be a decent #3 or 4 picher in the big leagues by 2010. I leave out Deitweiler for now. Then maybe a FA pitcher. I don't see putting big money into FA pitchers generally. It is fraught with disappointment and besides, 2009 shold be a year to find out what the Nats have in this department.
The position players are promising as well, at least in the outfield. Dukes can be a star (if he keeps it together), Millledge has tons of promise and is already contributing. Maxwell, if healthy, I feel is the real thing. Even Bernadina had a breakout year in the minors. Zimmerman, again, when healthy is one of the better third basemen in baseball. Flores is promising, with Norris on the rise. Middle infield is a concern but we have a good offensive shortstop for the next two years and I think we sometimes forget that Desmond is only 23, and had started to come around offensively before he was injured. Hernandez had a heck of a debut with the Nats (330BA) and followed it up with a superb fall. Even first might have a top notch hitter by 2010. Marrero just might surprise everyone big time this year-if healthy. (Gosh I'm tired of saying that)
This team is a lot more promising than many people are saying, and I, for one, am looking forward to the season. 2009 will answer a lot of questions but we have to see what the kids can do.
And Jason B, I haven't forgot you and how terrific you can be. Now, if only you can overcome the baseball demons that plague you at times. You're a hell of a pitcher. Mr. Hill, fellow Canadian, I wish you health. The rest, for the Nats would be gravy.
Jeeves

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 30, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Woah! jcampbell1 = Katsen? Or does he just plagiarize him?

"I don't see putting big money into FA pitchers generally. It is fraught with disappointment and besides, 2009 shold be a year to find out what the Nats have in this department."

Posted by: jctichen | January 30, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Astute analysis of the rotation, jca. I think Hill is in if he's healthy. Bally and Zimmermann will have to fight it out for the last slot - I don't think either is a lock at this point.

I do think Bergmann can be stashed in the 'pen and used as a spot starter. There's a good chance the team has given up on the idea of him in the permanent rotation. I hope he has a good Spring Training, 'cause he's got the potential to be a very nice back-of-the-rotation starter and competition in the spring can only be a positive.

If he's not starting, I would consider thinking about him for the setup role. Right now, the Nats have nothing of the sort.

It might help Bergie's confidence to have the Nats turn to him every other day or so, and he wouldn't have to pitch multiple innings per game. I know this role does demand a lot from the pitcher psychologically, and the knock on the guy has always been that he's his own worst enemy. But if Spring Training was starting tomorrow, I'd be considering it.

-----

With Bergmann, it's longman stashee on the 25 man.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 30, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

(new post)

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 30, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Who would have thought that Jeeves is Stan "The Plan" Chico may need to investigate that.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 30, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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