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Bullpen Day

The Nats lost 5-2 today. The rain never came. The radar misled us. We were duped. As a result, we got an interrupted "bullpen day," where seven guys fighting for jobs in the Area of Greatest Uncertainty split the eight innings.

Were this box score turned into a modified stock ticker, you'd see big, bold north-pointing arrows next to the names of Mike Hinckley and Steven Shell. You'd see a big, fat south-pointing arrow next to the name of Julian Tavarez. The rest? Well, it's harder to say.

Here are the seven who threw today:

Tavarez - 1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Rivera - 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Hanrahan - 2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Hinckley - 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Shell - 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Colome - 1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Ledezma - 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

Of those seven, only two -- Rivera and Hanrahan -- are guaranteed jobs in the 'pen. The rest is up for grabs. Numbers aside, there's a reason Hinckley and Shell should like their chances. Although their respective ERAs aren't so eye-catching -- Hinckley has a 6.52; Shell has a 4.09 -- both are pitching at their best as camp ends. Remember, in spring training, because of the small sample size of innings, relievers' ERAs can inflate with one bad appearance. So, the numbers can deceive. Hinckley has allowed one run in his last five appearances (4-2/3 IP). Shell has allowed just one run in his last six (8 IP).

Asked if spring numbers or 2008 performances would have a greater impact on determining the bullpen winners, Manny Acta said, "I think what they did last year obviously has some bearing on the decision we're making here. Especially if they come to camp and they don't just blow up from Day 1. If they come to camp and show some consistency, it doesn't have to be perfect or exactly what they did last year, then we have a better indication. So yeah, you do have to take into consideration what they did last year."

So, does that mean somebody like Hinckley -- who didn't allow a run in 13-2/3 innings after his September '08 call-up -- have a built-in edge over Wil Ledezma, who has impressed this spring after signing a minor league contract?

Evidently.

"Oh, there's no doubt that the guys that were here before -- and pitched well -- have an upper hand on the guys that just came in," Acta said.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 29, 2009; 3:58 PM ET
 
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Comments

Well I gather that what was said means that the bullpen has 5 guys set:
Hanrahan
Beimel
Rivera
Hinckley
Shell

The rest:
Tavares
Ledezma
Mock
Bergmann
Wagner
Colome

At this point I would venture one of Bergmann Mock and Ledezma over the other 3

Posted by: Anatsphan | March 29, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

No, the only guarantees are:

Hanrahan
Beimel
Rivera

Take out Tavares and Wagner, that means six are competing for three spots. Who do you choose?

Shell
Ledezma
Mock
Bergmann
Colome
Hinckley

(Remember a lefty spot is guaranteed--Hinckley or Ledezma)

I'll say Shell, Colome and the lefty. Bergmann and Mock to AAA as starters.

If Cabrera struggles or gets hurt, I wouldn't be surprised to see either (probably Bergmann) starting again in the 5th spot.

Posted by: inthestreetindustry | March 29, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Why take out Tavarez? He had a great outing yesterday, same as Biemel, but for whatever reason was thrown out there again today when he's had very little conditioning this spring, seems like he needs to be given a bit more of a chance.

Posted by: skippy1999 | March 29, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

inthestreet- I think think think that Bergmann is out of option and demoting him would expose him to waivers, where the Padres are sure to pick him up.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | March 29, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Keep Bergmann. Good man to have in the 'pen.

Hanrahan
Beimel
Rivera
Bergmann
Hinckley
Ledezma
Whoever else as #7.

At some point, we're going to need a better closer than Hanrahan.

Posted by: usmc53 | March 29, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Box score says that Millege got picked off at 1st Base. What a shock.
Trade him, plus a prospect or two, for some pitching!!

Posted by: usmc53 | March 29, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Out of the bullpen, Hanrahan, Rivera, & Beimel are locks. For the remaining four positions, the inside track points to Bergmann & Shell as LR-MR, with Colome [SU], Taverez or Mock [LR], Ledezma &/or Hinckley (both LH) as possibles for the other two slots. The last week of ST still has its drama, yes?

Posted by: BinM | March 29, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Tavarez, 35, thought the tape recorders were off and didn't think the media would use the comments. But Tavarez's words were circulated around the country, which didn't please the Nationals.

mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090329&content_id=4085128&vkey=news_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was&partnerId=rss_was

Posted by: thom202 | March 29, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

@thom202:

Really old news - we in NJ (and the team) have moved on since that comment.
Since we're on the subject, Taverez didn't show a lot of "bounce-back" in today's outing. He may still be on the outside looking in, but has another week to prove he belongs with the big club.

Posted by: BinM | March 29, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't exactly say that I've moved on myself. But let's see what happens on the field.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 29, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

He apologized today. Hardly old news BinM.

Posted by: thom202 | March 29, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

He apologized today. Hardly old news BinM. Nice to know you speak for the entire NJ BinM.

Posted by: thom202 | March 29, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

I do appreciate that he did so.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 29, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

BinM was right for us, in that we digested that news and satisfied ourselves with "beer goggle" jokes and got beyond it.

We in The Constituency, or Nats Town, or Nats Nation, NJ, or whatever, are representative of the hardcore fans, but that is sadly pretty small so far. We should hope that the FO will make the decisions for the best baseball, and not our mood. They certainly shouldn't make decisions on the percentage of our posts asking for something or the other.

We need this forum to vent, and to give the Nats FO a sense of what the fans are thinking. Such a thing matters a lot more for the teams with established hordes of fans (I purposely didn't say "big market", since I reject that Washington isn't one), but I believe Stan actually keeps a finger on the pulse, at the very least.

+1/2St/

Posted by: kevincostello | March 29, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

@Anonymous

Bergmann's safe, I think. (He has less than five years experience).

But looking at Cabrera, I think it's a good bet management is thinking backup plan should he get hurt (like he was today) or if he ends up being god awful.

In either case, what do you do?

Most likely, keep Bergmann warm--in AAA as a starter.

Posted by: inthestreetindustry | March 29, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

street- I'm still pretty sure he is out of options. Bounced around in 06, 07, and 08. That's 3 years, 3 options.

He's out.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | March 29, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

When is someone going to say something about the Spring that Ryan Zimmerman is having? I see that he is now hitting .196, has I think no HRs, one maybe two doubles. He was awful at the plate last year, looks ready to exceed it this year. What is his problem? What is the Post's problem in not mentioning it?

Posted by: johnknapp2 | March 29, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Due to postal intervention, some clarification. I appreciate that JT apologized.

---

I do appreciate that he did so.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 29, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Also, I must say that I would have serious reservations about the wisdom of the Nats FO if I thought that they were factoring comments posted to Nationals Journal into their decision-making process. It's fun to postulate and all but come on. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 29, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

@Anonymous

You might be right. But it looks like he's eligible for a fourth year since he has less than five years experience. (But maybe I'm reading this wrong. I'm no expert.)

Here's what I'm looking at:

"A player may be eligible for a fourth option year if he has been optioned in three seasons but does not yet have five full seasons of professional experience. A full season is defined as being on an active pro roster for at least 90 days in a season..."

http://tinyurl.com/4w8pem
(at the bottom)

Posted by: inthestreetindustry | March 29, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Zimmermann for Cabrera?

I'll say it again: Zim and Dunn should be swapped in the order for Dukes and NJ. Zim was a much better hitter (and bunter!) in the #5 spot. Now he is just overswinging and pressing.

To have the MLB SO king batting #4 is absurd.

Posted by: paulkp | March 29, 2009 11:56 PM | Report abuse

@ Anonymous

Forget to mention: he debuted in 2005, but since he was up with the team less than 90 days (as a September call-up) it doesn't count towards his option years.

I think.

(s****'s confusing...)

Posted by: inthestreetindustry | March 30, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

@John

You have a point.

I think it's Zimm's persona. He's a good guy. Clean cut, well-manned. The golden child! And I think that makes it tough for writers to criticize him--but they will.

He's having his troubles at the plate this Spring, but he's also a stud in the field and hell, only 24. He also hit over .300 the last two months of '08 and finished at .283 for the year.

Don't worry, if he's hitting under .200 in May, we'll get the articles


Posted by: inthestreetindustry | March 30, 2009 12:10 AM | Report abuse

>I'll say it again: Zim and Dunn should be swapped in the order for Dukes and NJ. Zim was a much better hitter (and bunter!) in the #5 spot. Now he is just overswinging and pressing.

To have the MLB SO king batting #4 is absurd.

You also have to look at the fact that Dunn hasn't been here all spring hitting behind Zimm. That's one thing that will be different during the season. They'll probably weed Zimm and Milledge out, and put them in the bottom half of the order eventually. But I think it would be worth a shot to have Zimm hit with some protection to see if that's the problem or whether he's just too impatient at the plate trying to make something happen.
They're gonna probably have to accept the fact that Milledge doesn't care enough about just getting on, and put Guzman in the leadoff with Nick at #2. The rest of the lineup they can sort out, but you need to get something going at the top.

Posted by: Brue | March 30, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

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