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Eighth Inning: O's 4, Nats 1

The transactional circumstances of Wednesday made this a big game for Washington's first two pitchers, Shairon Martis and Wil Ledezma. Because of Shawn Hill's release, the Nationals have a void in their starting rotation. Because of Joe Beimel's signing, the Nationals have a smaller hole for additional, unproven bullpen arms -- but they still want a left-handed specialist.

Martis is trying to make this team as a starter.

Ledezma, a lefty who's spent parts of six big league seasons with Detroit, Atlanta, San Diego and Arizona, is trying to make this team as a reliever.

The Nats, for sure, like Martis. They also like the idea of a lefty in the pen behind Beimel, who won't be used as a left-handed specialist.

Today, Martis looked good -- 5 IP, 2 R. Three times he retired the side in order. Twice, he needed just nine pitches to complete an inning.

Ledezma? He was good until the very end. After retiring the first five batters he faced, Ledezma walked one and then allowed back-to-back doubles by phenom prospect Matt Wieters and Robby Hammock. The O's scored two in two innings against Ledezma, and now lead 4-1.

Earlier this morning, Manager Manny Acta mentioned that Ledezma's work has impressed him this spring. In his previous four appearances, he'd allowed just one run in 4-1/3 innings, walking one and striking out six.

Another lefty candidate for the 'pen, Mike Hinckley, is pitching now, and just finished off a scoreless eighth.

I'll post again if the Nats manage a comeback.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 19, 2009; 2:48 PM ET
 
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Next: An Unseen Comeback For The Ages

Comments

[from last]

" ... but no one can say that they didn't at least give him a chance."

... you're right about that, nunof1, and for me, that's what makes the way it ended so disappointing. In the cold light of day, I recognize that the team did nothing wrong in making this decision, so that leaves only the impassionate vicissitudes of fate ... and who can argue effectively against that.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 19, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

"I recognize that the team did nothing wrong in making this decision, so that leaves only the impassionate vicissitudes of fate ..."

...did you consult your astrology chart too? I am not concerned about whether they "wronged" Shawn Hill. IMO, they "wronged" the team. They let go of a pitcher who had a chance, even if it was unlikely, to be one of OUR three best starters by June or July. And all to save some money. I do not buy the roster-spot argument. There were several others who should have been removed from the roster before Hill. If it didn't work out, nothing lost except for an insignifant amount of payroll. If it DOES work, much needed starter gained. In short, what they "did wrong" was take away a possible decent starter from an already extremely shallow rotation to save a some bucks.

Posted by: kfisher32 | March 19, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

IF they manage a comeback? Oh ye of little faith. Final 5-4. Nats win! Nats win!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 19, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Also, well played, Stinger.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 19, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Goes to www.dictionary.com

Looks up the word "vicissitudes."

Will THEN see if I can argue effectively against that...but don't hold your breath...

Posted by: TimDz | March 19, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Just noticed that the Baseball Insider has a poll up re. who will sign Hill.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 19, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"I do not buy the roster-spot argument. There were several others who should have been removed from the roster before Hill. "

Name them. And for every one you name, a cogent argument can be made that they will have at least as much chance of adding as much or more value to the team this year and into the future as Shawn Hill would have. Even for WMP, a rational argument could be made. He won't make the team, but someome MIGHT trade for him, and if not he'll be cut to make room for Tavares or someone else who can play NOW. Shawn Hill, while talented, is nothing now except potential that needs time to MAYBE come around. He can't play NOW.

Shawn Hill was a victim of the numbers game, sure, but those numbers weren't preceded by a dollar sign. There simply is not room for "projects" on this team any more. That's a good thing - for everyone but Shawn.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 19, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

@nunof1: I take it you will not back up your claim, then? I have asked you twice (why you believe they would only have had to pay him ~190K if they cut him at the end of ST, which is contrary to Chico). And LOL, let me know when you find that suitor for WMP. We will suck NOW anyways, I would rather use a roster spot on someone who MIGHT be VERY GOOD later this year (HILL) when "the plan" starts to further materialize (if in fact it ever does)and we might start winning.

Posted by: kfisher32 | March 19, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

For argument's sake, let's say the Nats didn't release Hill. And let's say it's the very end of ST and Hill is till on the team. Chances are at that time, he would have pitched, what, 10 innings tops if he remained "healthy."

So, the regular season is about to start, what do you do with Shawn Hill? Is he on the 25-man active roster? At that point, he won't be able to go more than 4 or 5 innings when his turn comes up in the rotation since he hasn't been stretched out enough in ST. Do you skip his turn, hoping that by the end of April he'll be ready to go (basically playing with 24 men for the first few weeks of the season)?

Do you DL him? He would either have to be on the 15-day (probably not enough time for him to be completely ready to go), or the 60-day (too long to wait to see if he'll be ready).

You can't have him start the season in AAA because he's out of options, so they would have to DFA him and try to sneak him through waivers, and chances are someone would swoop in and pick him up.

By releasing him, the Nats have in essence allowed Hill to choose whatever club he wants to sign with (assuming more than one club contacts him).

So, if they don't release Hill, where would you have him start the season?

Posted by: erocks33 | March 19, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't think saving salary was a major motivation re releasing Hill, but there is no financial benefit to releasing WMP - we owe him $2 million this year regardless, so he may as well stick around ST and see if he does anything that impresses anybody who might want to trade for him - benefit to us is that they would pick up all or part of the salary.

Posted by: Traveler8 | March 19, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Erocks makes a very good argument, I think. It's not that Rizzo or the Nats think that Hill CAN'T be a good pitcher, or that he WON'T (and that's what was different about him and Patterson) - it's that you can't live with the uncertainty. You need to make decisions - hard ones - about what to do with ZNN, Martis and Balester, whether to trade some of the OF/1B surplus for pitchers or prospects or pitching prospects, and having a starter who may give you a grand total of 14 IP this year complicates things. There's no place on the 25-man for a "Hey, just see how it goes" kind of guy. The bullpen is going to be taxed enough as they try to limit the innings of three young guys, and if Hill's going to have this constant "Maybe he'll go; maybe he won't" thing, it makes it too hard to do roster management.

That you save money by cutting him when you did is a bonus; that you give him a chance to catch on with another team is also a bonus. It's a hard call, and it hurts me, because I like Hill, but I think it's the right one.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | March 19, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

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