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D. Young Added To 40-Man Roster

It was a move the Nationals had to make. It was also a move, Acting General Manager Mike Rizzo said, that they wanted to make. Honoring a handshake agreement reached earlier this winter when Jim Bowden was general manager, the Nationals added Dmitri Young to the 40-man roster. The first baseman has not participated in an exhibition game since March 1 because of back problems, an absence that makes his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster "less than 50-50," Rizzo said.

Rizzo acknowledged the existence of the pre-existing agreement, but also emphasized Young's value as a hitter -- provided he continues to work himself back into playing shape. This week, Young has been participating in minor league games.

"This guy has something to contribute to us on the major league level," Rizzo said. "Let's not forget what he can do with the bat. He's a guy that I believe can fall out of bed and hit. He's a guy who gives you good at bats from both sides of the plate."

Young takes Wily Mo Pena's spot on the 40-man roster.

A few other notes here on a newsy day...


* During the team's off day Thursday, Rizzo and President Stan Kasten took a one-day trip to Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, to supervise progress on the team's new facility. The two spent the day meeting with staff and players. On April 7, Rizzo said, the Nationals will bring nine of their 31 Dominican players to the States to participate in the team's extending spring program. Kasten said that the availability of Carlos Alvarez, the prospect previously known as Esmailyn Gonzalez, remains in doubt. "There is still a chance he winds up playing here," Kasten said. "It would need to be soon, and so I wouldn't rule that out at all. But things have to happen first."

* Interesting passage from a conversation with Rizzo about Shairon Martis.

Q: Why do you think Martis has never really appeared on the prospect rankings of industry publications? Why has he stayed so under the radar?

Rizzo: Yeah, I think the publications' rankings are directly correlated to the people who talk about him. He doesn't knock your eyes out with the radar gun. He's a sinker-slider pitcher. He's a command guy. And he's a poise guy beyond his years. And he's a 22-year-old pitcher that doesn't throw 95 mph. He gets you out by commanding four quadrants of the plate with three pitches, and those aren't the guys who really are the sexy type of prospect. So I think that's the reason why he was under the radar. He certainly was not under the radar when we made the trade for him, and he certainly was not under the radar this winter when we talked about the long-term plan for the Nationals.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 28, 2009; 12:13 PM ET
 
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Comments

BoBOlsen faces the Astros, who rank 30th out of the 30 teams in BA. Little Scotty's chance to shine? Naaaaah. Stros have won 7 in a row and then there's that Tejada thing, the one with the big, bulging eyes when he sees an 87 mph "fastball."

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 28, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Hahaha

Posted by: theredskin | March 28, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

D Young takes one step closer to the MLB roster.......On my comparing Milledge this year to Lo Duca, Lopez and Estrada of 2008......I see it as the same thing not because he is a high priced vet but because the is playing CF and Leading Off not because he has proved he is the best for the job but because of Politics and personal a relationship with Acta going back 4 years. When you play do not play the best players you are just asking for trouble. Dukes in CF with Kearns and Harris backing up is our best team. Sorry, just like WMP or countless other Jimbo moves......Milledge needs to be placed based on his performance on the field.....That would be AAA. This is just like Lo Duca, Lopez and Estrada...they should have been cut in May but due to politics and personal relationships they hurt the team for 2 more months......I see the same thing coming this year.....Milledge will be in AAA ball by July.....after hurting the team for 3 months.

Posted by: JayBeee | March 28, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

... look. I like Dmitri as much as the next guy, and I was quite happy with the chance(s) the Nats gave him, no matter whose hands were shaken.

... but something about this smells. he hasn't played a game since March 1; he has a bad back; although no one has said he's in bad shape, no one has raved about how much in top form he is neither.

... if I'd made a deal with someone by shaking his hand, I'd expect to do my part (in this case, by giving the guy a roster spot). But I'd equally expect him to do his (in this case by being able to play).

... I don't know he isn't ready to play, but nothing said or written so far this spring gives me any indication he is.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 28, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

JayBee -- Is that a macro that you post, or do you type it out individually each time?

If it's the latter, I'm sure someone could spit out the code for you if you ask nicely.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 28, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Dmitri Young can be a huge factor for the Nats if he loses weight, improves his fielding dramatically, adds a power stroke, and works on his baserunning speed. Sure, it would be better if he was not past his prime, but that's a small negative when you consider all the plusses he brings.

Posted by: EdDC | March 28, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

JayB- I have seen your comments all over the place bashing Milledge since the Nats traded for him (at various times posting about his defense, work ethic, questioning his moral character, etc.). He is still very young, and this team isn't going anywhere this season- so why not put him out there and see if he can step it up?
Your comparison to LoDuca, et al. is also misplaced. Part of the reason they were signed was to potentially trade them for prospects- in order to have any trade value they had to play. It's not like Manny played LoDuca because of a personal relationship, and I don't see how he is playing Milledge because of a personal relationship. Milledge needs to play CF every day so the team can evaluate his long term potential. Kearns and Dunn (probably) won't be around for the first great Nats team- so why not see if Milledge could be part of that team?

Posted by: Offense-offensive | March 28, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

You can choose to close your eyes to the facts but if you just watch the games this spring as I have and will in April each day you will see what I am talking about. Being a fan to me means watching the game carefully and looking for ways to improve the record. Give it a try....there is lost of room for improvement in the Nats. They have good talent coming up...I watched it for several days in minor league camp. Giving a guy a job when he has not earned it hurts the team.

Posted by: JayBeee | March 28, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Saw the question earlier about JZimm's roster status. No, he has not yet been placed on the 40-man.

Posted by: Chico Harlan | March 28, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

JayBee - I always call myself a Milledge fanboy, so you probably can expect some counterargument from me. I think we do agree on one thing - this year should be make or break.

I'm wondering what we've seen that convinces people that Dukes will be a good glove in CF? To my eye, and yours is better, he seems to have a lot of trouble with balls over head in right. I'm not sure putting him in a more exposed spot is the answer. I guess I see them both as experiments in CF.

If Dukes were in CF, I'd much rather see Kearns in right than Willingham. I'd want one guaranteed quality defensive outfielder. I'm willing to say that last year's fall off was injury related for Kearns and not his true level of hitting and throwing. He looks decent at the plate in this spring, and, as much as Milledge has earned a spot on the bench in some people's minds, Kearns has earned the right to replace him (with Dukes shifting to CF).

I'm still thinking that what we saw offensively 2d half of the year from Milledge is closer to the real level of play than his first half stats. I look at PECOTA, Bill James, CHONE, and ZiPs that make me feel like less of an idiot for saying this. But I agree that he's not a lock, and that those projections are as likely to be high than low.

From a team structure point, I think Dukes is part of the future so long as he is healthy and stays out of trouble. Milledge I see as possibly a movable part, especially if Maxwell stays healthy. I think convincing people that Milledge is an adequate CF can only happen by playing him there in the majors. I say that knowing that you have picked up some telltale signs that playing him will just expose his weaknesses. If in unpacking the logjam in the OF he gets moved in a trade before 4/1, then that's OK by me too.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 28, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Jaybee

There is also the possibility that Acta wants Milledge at centre because Dukes is his only viable RF choice. Neither Willingham or Dunn have the arm for right field. So if Dukes has to play there, then Milledge becomes our only choice in centre. And then there is the long list of Bowden-a-rific slugish LF-ers.

Posted by: soundbloke | March 28, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Lo Duca, Estrada, Lopez all were playing because of Politics and personal relationships with Jimbo.

Jimbo is gone....Milledge is playing because of Acta....As a new GM or Rizzo get power from Stan, Acta will have to be held accountable for giving a job to someone who does not understand the game, does not make decisions based on the what the team needs, and as he has said.....will do it his way only...if that means he fails....so be it......do you think this is someone who will ever win?

Posted by: JayBeee | March 28, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

You didn't really address the point I made. We don't have a right fielder if Dukes plays at centre. And I think they know that Milledge isn't the best centre fielder which is why we sniffed around so many this off season.

One thing is for certain. Milledge may one day be good enough to play on a team that could compete in the world series. He may not. Willingham never will. So if this team has any ambition we need to start finding out which or our rocks can be polished into diamonds. And quite fast because as you yourself demonstrate, there are a lot of angry fans getting impatient for a good team.

Posted by: soundbloke | March 28, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Hahahaha. Your opinions are now considered "facts," eh? I did watch some of the games this spring and I have watched the minor league talent too. There is no one in the minors that I would rather see play than Milledge- there is no talent that he is blocking right now. That might change, but we aren't there yet. He is still young enough to improve and I don't think giving up on Milledge is a good move.
When responding to a different opinion, please stick to the content of the post rather than some fictionalized background that you create. I am a critical Nats fans and will always look for ways that the team can improve. Milledge is not playing because of a personal relationship with Acta, he is playing because he is the best option the team has.

Posted by: Offense-offensive | March 28, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I see your point that Milledge needs to play to prove he can improve his CF and Lead off skills. Yet as a season ticket holder for now 5 years ..... I am no longer interested in statements like......Nationals are not going anywhere and some point in some future year someone learning the game in the MLB could be a part of the first great team. That has lead to only losing and learning how to lose. Time is come to win and win as much as possible. AAA is where you learn to play CF and Lead Off not in the Major Leagues.

Posted by: JayBeee | March 28, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Dukes is the best option by a lot....if you do not see that then you do not know baseball.

Posted by: JayBeee | March 28, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

JayBee - Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Statements like "if you don't know x, then you don't know baseball" only serve to diminish your own opinion.

Posted by: Brian_ | March 28, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

"Lo Duca, Estrada, Lopez all were playing because of Politics and personal relationships with Jimbo."

JayBeee - please stop dredging up the past to justify your views of current players. JimBow is gone; PLoD, Estrada & FLop are gone. Would you be happier if the Nationals' just went ahead & purged all the players acquired since they came to town? At times, it certainly seems that way.

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Agreed....my mistake...I apologize....Brian...do you think Dukes is the better choice for CF?

Posted by: JayBeee | March 28, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

well put brian.

Posted by: longterm | March 28, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Dukes is probably a better option for CF than Milledge but that leaves RF to Kearns. I don't believe that Willingham, Dunn or Milledge are the correct choices for RF, none have the arm that you want to see there. Willingham is a LF and it seems unlikely he would edge out Dunn under any circumstance

The Nationals choices are realistically(from LF to RF)

Dunn-Milledge-Dukes
or
Dunn-Dukes-Kearns

Posted by: Brian_ | March 28, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Why is it important to Dmitri that he be placed on the 40-man? I understand the "agreement" aspect of it, but if he is going to be playing in Syracuse to start the season anyway, why does it matter if he is on the 40-man now, or not?

He gets paid the same, so I don't get it. Obviously he would need to be put on the 40-man if he were going to get called up and put on the 25-man, but that's not happening any time soon. So why the significance of putting him on the 40-man now?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | March 28, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

@JayBeee:

Next time, try not to be such a condecending p**** when somebody calls you out on an opinion. It might help you earn some respect for more of your opinions.

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

@CiL:

It might have to do with days served on an ML 40-man roster. The "Gentlemen's agreement" w/ Bowden might have been to give him every opportunity to get the vested option on his contract.

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

So Brian why have we not seen Dukes in CF but one time this spring?

What is making Milledge the only choice?

Which of your two "realistic" outfields gives the Nats the Best chance to win now?

Finally, what did you think of Milledge's bunt the other night? Do you think he has the mind set to handle lead off duties when he does not seem to understand that you have the option to pull the bat back when bunting for a hit. That ball was at his eye level!

Posted by: JayBeee | March 28, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Opinions are like rear-ends, everybody has one. Mine is that Milledge is an asset that needs to be developed. In an ideal situation he would neither be a leadoff hitter nor a centerfielder, but given the dynamics of this roster I understand why he is serving as both.

The trade that brought him here was a good one. I doubt anyone could have gotten more for Church and Schnieder. Now that they have him, they need to play him. Same with Dukes. The right thing to do is to play Dukes as regularly as possible.

I do wish the Nats could trade one of the outfielders for more pitching or simply an upgrade at another position, but its a buyers market for outfielders this time of year. Wait two months and some team is going to be ready to pick up an injury replacement. I really can't see Josh Willingham being kept out of a major league lineup for long.

Posted by: natbisquit | March 28, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

My guess is that the Nationals are using this as Milledge's make-or-break year as a CF. I was hoping to see someone like Dukes or even Kearns given a shot in CF but it appears the Nationals wanted to provide Milledge with every opportunity to show positive signs of development.

I'd probably lean towards Milledge over Kearns more for the speed upside. Kearns, Dunn, Johnson, and Zimmerman are not fleet of foot and having at least a threat to run has its value.

As for the bunt, I was out and did not see it so I cannot make any sort of judgment.

Posted by: Brian_ | March 28, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

JayBeee. The man. The Macro. The Legend.

Posted by: AnAppallingLackOfBaseballKnowledge | March 28, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

nova_g_man. Don't look back, JayBeee. He may be gaining on you.

Posted by: AnAppallingLackOfBaseballKnowledge | March 28, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Brian.....lucky you on the bunt.....it would have made you cry....have not seen anything like it above High School let alone Major Leagues.

Posted by: JayBeee | March 28, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

So what's the deal with Hanrahan not pitching yet? Is he hurt? Are they holding a grudge against him for going to the WBC? This is crazy, it's not like you wait for save situations in Spring Training!

Posted by: NoVaNatRat | March 28, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

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