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A Bit More On Wells

Wow, sneaking out to a movie on the off day turns out to be a bad idea. However, thanks to Sheinin for getting up the news (texting from an empty theater during "Slumdog Millionaire" felt like using a lifeline), and I have a bit more.

Here's one thing you have to know about Kip Wells: His pitching coach during his most successful days in Pittsburgh was Spin Williams, who now coordinates the Nationals' minor league pitching program. From 2002-03, Wells posted a 3.43 ERA in 64 starts for the Pirates.

"He had his greatest success with Spin," Mike Rizzo just told me. "He thinks we can do something with him. With Spin and Randy [St. Claire] being two real good delivery-type of pitching coaches, I think we can get this guy in the right frame of mind and focus to help us either as a fifth man in the rotation or a swing guy or as inventory" in the minors.

Rizzo said he has always liked Wells's stuff, but "different things have prevented him from putting things together."

The idea is the old low-risk, potential reward equation. Wells would make $500,000 if he made the major league team, and would go to Class AAA Syracuse if he doesn't. I'll have a bit more on it in the $.75-edition.

(And if you haven't, see "Slumdog Millionaire." I'm sure most of you have, but wow, fantastic.)

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 11, 2009; 6:44 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Nationals Sign RHP Kip Wells
Next: Off To Disney -- And The Lineup


Barry: Nice follow-up - He's inexpensive, but have the Nationals really gained much with this signing? Granted, he has "history" with Williams, but: 1)He's 31, 2)he's historically a right-handed starter, 3) is he really looked on as more than a "stop-gap" solution for the LR slot until M. Chico proves healthy?

Posted by: BinM | March 11, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I haven't been following baseball for some years now, but I'm back now. It is interesting to see the success of Bert Blyleven with the Dutch team. Did he teach any of those youngsters his approach to that devastating curve of his? In relation to the Nats, Bob Boone had this to say about Blyleven and our own Jack McGeary: “The day we were watching him was great from a scouting standpoint because the backstop was right there. You’re right behind the catcher. I’m sitting down there trying to remember what it was like to catch, and Jack was throwing. The first curveball he threw, I got buckled. I thought, ‘Geez, he let go a high fastball.’ Then all the sudden it turned it into a curveball, turned it into a strike. The last one I’d seen like that, I was hitting against was Bert Blyleven’s. One of the few pitches I couldn’t hit very well was Bert Blyleven’s curveball...I was very impressed.”

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 11, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

So, Slumdog Millionaire did just win the Best Picture Oscar. In Viera, even better?

Posted by: nunof1 | March 11, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

OK getting back to guys who WILL be on the roster;

I see Adam Dunn is playing RF again for team USA. Does anyone have a take on his defense in RF vs LF? If he has the arm to play RF it opens up some options for us if Milledge struggles in CF, how about instead of Dunn/Milledge/Dukes across the outfield you start Milledge/Dukes/Dunn?

Assuming Dunn is a push on LF/RF it puts your best athlete in CF and Millege would be a plus defender in LF vs at best a push in Center.

Posted by: estuartj | March 11, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

"With Spin and Randy [St. Claire] being two real good delivery-type of pitching coaches, I think we can get this guy in the right frame of mind and focus to help us either as a fifth man in the rotation ..." - Mike Rizzo

... ah, the sweet optimism of spring training. But you know what? I like it; I like that kind of positive attitude, and I hope it becomes infectious and spills over onto and into everyone in and around the team. If the Nats are ever going to develop a 'Nats ethos', it will have to start with a positive self-image.

... and Barry, about the SlumDog. I have to say it wasn't my cup of tea (veiled East Indian reference), but I'd agree it was certainly a very good flick.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 11, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

... well, it seems as though Adam Dunn will indeed be 'the Monument'; Dave O'Brien has given him that monicker tonight as he calls the game between USA and Venezuela.

... works for me.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 11, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

How can anyone be against adding a guy named Kip to the team. The last two (at least that I can think of) guys whose named ended in "-ip" in DC were Rip Hamilton and Chip Lohmiller,,,both were solid. The pressure's on Kip!

Speaking of movies...wasn't Napoleon Dynamite's super dorky brother named Kip? Barry, can you see what traits our Kip has with the movie Kip? Does he have a pet Alpaca? Does he like tots (tater that is)? Does he have a girlfriend with large earrings? And has he mastered the martial arts? For those who haven't seen Napoleon Dynamite, its worth watching.

Posted by: jfromPG | March 11, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Re: Kip.

You gotta like a guy with this kinda moxie...

(From Napoleon Dynamite)
Napoleon Dynamite: Stay home and eat all the freakin' chips, Kip.
Kip: Napoleon, don't be jealous that I've been chatting online with babes all day. Besides, we both know that I'm training to be a cage fighter.
Napoleon Dynamite: Since when, Kip? You have the worst reflexes of all time.
Kip: Try and hit me, Napoleon.
Napoleon Dynamite: What?
Kip: I said come down here and see what happens if you try and hit me.

Can't wait til Kip tells David Wright to try and hit him. Go Nats!

Posted by: jfromPG | March 11, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Did he ever play for the Ligers?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 11, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

My gut (no research) tells me that Dunn is OK in RF, with a good-to-great range CF & a decent 1B-2B combo alongside him; otherwise, put him in LF & hope for the best.

Posted by: BinM | March 11, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Made the point earlier about Nick and the value of 120 games of star level can be better than 150+ of lower level. this article says the same thing, except it says 126 games of Milton Bradley and 36 games Francouer would be better than 162 games of Jeff Hamilton or Ryan Braun last year. Nick still has a ton of value if you think he can play 3/4 of a season.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 11, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Off pure Spring Training numbers, the OF currently looks like: LF- Dunn, CF- Dukes, RF- Kearns - Bench = Milledge,Willingham.

The Nationals' still have two-thirds of ST to get through - I'm sure there will be some changes between now & then.

Posted by: BinM | March 11, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I gotta believe St. Claire would like to work with actual talent at some point instead of constantly being asked to put lipstick on a pig.

Posted by: SSB1 | March 11, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Totally off-topic here, but I haven't seen anything about this in the comments...

So, Barry, any reaction from Acta about the Dominican being out of the WBC? I bet Manny's got some things to say about that!

Posted by: beardo1 | March 11, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

I know it's early but does anyone else get the feeling that the team's currently way ahead of prior years at the same point in ST? By that I mean much less anxiety and way fewer question marks?

Posted by: NatsNut | March 11, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Well, that does it for USA.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 11, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Where is everyone? Did I miss the party?

Posted by: NatsNut | March 11, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Let me get this right ,Mets release D. Sanchez, Nats sign Wells. At first glance I thought they they went deep into the hole and signed David Wells. Oh its Kip Wells, yeah I remember him, he was the best the Pirates had, but that was a long time ago. I thought the scrap heap and retreads philosophy died when JimBo was shown the door, guess not. Geeze, maybe the Nats are ready to JPAT, Hill and let Wells get his head beat in until around Aug when Mr. Strausberg should be ready to take the ball.

Did anyone hear Manny Acta on XM175 MLB Homeplate tonight around 8:30? He was supposed to be on with that dunce Holden Kushner. Kushner is the same guy that goes on a 10 minute diatribe almost every night about what a horrible team the Nats are and how dysfunctional the organization is and what a failure baseball is in DC and then has the nerve to interview Manny Acta. Go figure!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | March 11, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

I know pitching has been devalued but wait until Wells actually faces guys with real bats in their hands 60'6" away. Get yer meatballs heeeyah!

Posted by: leetee1955 | March 11, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I just spent 4 hours at a choir concert (my daughter's choir sang 3 songs in total- much watching other peoples' children- so I wasn't listening to XM for that. I would like to know what went on- Kushner has been harsh.

I am glad that the Nats signed Kip Wells, though. As a Type L free agent, the signing means that the Nats also take the 13th pick from the last team Wells was any good for.

OK, that wasn't true. Still, I see no harm in this, as long as the team still considers signing a middle reliever.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 11, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

No worries, NatsNut: tonight's game was significant for seeding only, as USA and Venezuela had already clinched advancing to round 2.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 11, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

"How can anyone be against adding a guy named Kip to the team. The last two (at least that I can think of) guys whose named ended in "-ip" in DC were Rip Hamilton and Chip Lohmiller,,,both were solid. The pressure's on Kip!"

Good point jfromPG. Don't forget Skip Hicks - he had one decent year with the Skins. And Tip O'Neil got the job done for a while.

Posted by: MoMonroe | March 11, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

There was also Kip Miller, who was a member of the Capitals from 02-03 to 03-04. Not as good as his brother, Kelly, who is still third all-time in games played for the Caps, but an -ip nonetheless.

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 11, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Yu Darvish, Barack Obama, and Scott Olsen all smoke cigarettes. Coincidence? I think not.

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 11, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

I don't know which is more insulting, the poster in the last thread calling him "garbage" or the acting GM calling him "inventory"?
OTOH, he's got a nice mid-six figure salary, so...

Posted by: CEvansJr | March 12, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Classic Milledge over at the Times today.....glad new coaches can help in improve CF defense "without having to work too hard".....problem last year was he worked too hard (yea that was it).......CF is easy, no need to make it hard or work at it too will just come to him at some point.....he loves Acta because he has always just given him the CF job, he believes in me and at somepoint that will pay off type stuff......

Posted by: JayBeee | March 12, 2009 4:35 AM | Report abuse

thanks for that, 1a. Good to hear. I couldn't seem to find the full bracket so had no idea.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 12, 2009 7:04 AM | Report abuse

I don't normally look at the Moonie paper, but since JayBee mentioned they were writing about Lastings Milledge, one of my favorite players, I decided to sneak over to their website just now. But I must have found the wrong article, because these quotes just don't fit in with JayBee's review at all.

"He's working very hard at it," Acta said. "He's taking it as a challenge. He knows he's got the athleticism to play there. Those guys are a big help to him, but you've got to give credit to the guy. He's listening, and he's working hard."

"It does help that he's behind me 100 percent," Milledge said. "But I know I have a lot of work to do."

Ben Goessling the writer - who I'm pretty sure has actually seen Milledge play this spring (unlike JayBee) - had this to say: "On top of that, he hasn't looked bad defensively this spring. Fly balls-turned-misadventures are much less frequent. Milledge says he's more comfortable in center after learning hitters' tendencies last year. It's a spot he's growing into - and one he doesn't plan on giving up."

As much as it pains me to say this, I actually believe what I read in the Washington Times today. I don't think I'll ever believe anything this JayBee guy writes, though.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 12, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

You know, if Jim Bowden had signed Kip Wells, the blog would be burning police cars, looting music stores, and on its way to being tear-gassed by the National Guard this morning.

Hope you win Rizzo, because, if you don't, this will be the first condemnation listed on

Posted by: Section506 | March 12, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

This is how bullpens are filled. You hope your scouting dept. has done a good job evaluating Wells and he can be a servicable reliever or, as Rizzo mentioned, 5th starter.

Closer, setup, and lefy specialist are the roles where give up talent or spend big bucks to acquire.

Posted by: pwilly | March 12, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

You're welcome, NatsNut. Here's a bracket link:

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 12, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Torches and pitchforks do come out on NJ from time to time, 506, but let's leave the looting to Phoolies Phans, shall we? ;-)

That said, point taken. BTW, have you searched for the URL that you mentioned? If I recall correctly, it was your intrepid research that turned up the original FJB petition.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 12, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse


Upon further review, your assessment of the article is correct. Where does it say that Milledge doesn't work or is looking to put it on cruise control and coast by?
The cynicism and questionable interpretations of JayB are once again on display. And in case you care for some clarity with my comments JayB, I'm saying your take on the article is somewhat awry.

"Jesus wept" meant that he cried because he was upset, not because he was cutting onions.

Keep working Lastings. Go Nats!

Posted by: jfromPG | March 12, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Barry has a new (not really goofy but kinda Mickey Mouse) post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 12, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe the Nats don't have anyone else among their "inventory" of pitchers who couldn't be better than Wells. This guy is 29 games beloe .500 lifetime - 65-94 - with a career ERA of 4.67. He's only had two decent season in his career going 12-14 with a 3.59 ERA in 2002 and 10-9 with a 3.28 ERA in 2003 both with the Pirates. To counter those numbers he was 8-18 5.09 with Pittsburgh in 2005 and 7-17 5.70 with the Cardinals in 2007. Additionally, his lifetime WHIP is 1.52

Posted by: leetee1955 | March 12, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

>I know it's early but does anyone else get the feeling that the team's currently way ahead of prior years at the same point in ST? By that I mean much less anxiety and way fewer question marks?

Different set of questions. The club is a lot less delusional than last year at this time. They're not trying to shill a team to the public, they know they still have work to do. Whether the problems with the pitching staff are fixed or not, it remains to be seen. I guess we'll see how observant the new brass is, and that's the #1 barometer for measuring their skills (fixing the pitching). Their lineup is certainly better than what they had coming out of ST last year. At least they've gone from the loser's 'if everyone stays healthy' to having competition at most spots. That's the first difference when it comes to moving up the ladder - competition. Because if you have that, then you can cover injuries and still get production. But imo, the pitching has a bunch of red flags right now. Like you said, there's still time to work things out, and they have an extra week to do it this year.

Posted by: Brue | March 12, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

>Where does it say that Milledge doesn't work or is looking to put it on cruise control and coast by?

That probably comes from last year when Harris stated that he couldn't get Milledge to look at any video until late in the season. He also was showing up barely on time, and late in a few instances as the year wore on. Apparently he never showed up early.

Posted by: Brue | March 12, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Was it Dukes or Milledge who had a lateness issue last year?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 12, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

>Was it Dukes or Milledge who had a lateness issue last year?

I read that it was Milledge. He was working on producing an album or something and got too caught up in it or whatever.

Posted by: Brue | March 12, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

After some Googling, I found pieces on each of them having been benched by Acta after being late (links in the new post if you're interested).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 12, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I picked my quotes and you picked yours from the Times...they are both there. Difference is you used Acta's view and I used Milledge's words. I do not trust Acta when it comes to Milledge in CF. We know Jimbo and many others including Acta's own coaching staff were way down on Lastings work in CF at the end of last year. We know that Acta was saying Milledge was doing great when others on his own coaching staff were saying they had to play him two steps in from the warning track because he had regressed in Sept on balls hit over his head.

Acta will never tell us the truth about a player and in the case of Milledge, Acta is not impartial and he seems to let his personal feelings cloud his judgment.

I will be in FL this weekend so I will let you know what I see first hand if he has improved.

Posted by: JayBeee | March 12, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I know, I've been overposted several times over, but fwiw

"Milledge said he hasn't changed his preparation much, only asking new first-base coach Marquis Grissom about how to improve without overworking himself. If anything, Milledge said that's what he did last year, taking fly balls by the bucketload to make up for lost time."

OVER-working. As in, not trying too hard, which will always mess with your baseball.
Lastings is doing this right. Jaybeee, you're stretching it beyond justification; no fair.

Posted by: CEvansJr | March 12, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Milledge can take all the fly balls he wants, he'll always have a candy arm, and he won't hit for a lot of power. I mean, I used to play CF, and tracking balls down is great, but it's only a piece of what you need out there.

Posted by: Brue | March 12, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Carrying forward for jca and CE (that's what I get for working instead of following the game):

Better that than a deceased parrot, I suppose. I'm hoping for a phoenix at the ballpark this year, though.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 12, 2009 3:58 PM


Natsfan1a1 - since you are something of a bird watcher, and the Nats play on an estuary, do you suppose we will see an Albatross vendor at Nats Park?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 12, 2009 1:41 PM

What flavor is the albatross?

Posted by: CEvansJr | March 12, 2009 2:23 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 12, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

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