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More On Balester

Just one more post on Collin Balester -- a little epilogue to his four-inning, five-run outing today, if you will. First of all, he's not yet resigned to some sort of extended Class AAA Syracuse sentence, but he knows it's become more likely. He's prepared himself, too, to handle such a demotion, knowing that the hardest part of arriving where you want to be (like, say, the big leagues) is making a straight turn back to where you came from.

"I mean, some people come up and go down and they never are the same, because once they get up in the big leagues they think, Oh, I'm going to be there forever," Balester said.

His point: He won't let that happen.

Asked what he's seen from Balester this spring, Manny Acta said, "Inconsistency, which is expected out of a 22-year-old guy. We expected that coming in. We saw that last year. Hey, this kid is still very young. Let's not forget that. We're going to be patient with him. That's what he needs overall."

Balester's spring ERA now stands at 7.80. He's pitched five games, starting four. In those 15 innings...

H -- 20
ER -- 13
BB -- 7
K -- 9
HR -- 5

Balester did enough today to remind us why he's got the tools. He threw a few really wicked curveballs in innings 1-3. He froze Gary Sheffield with a low fastball, just hitting the outside corner, in the second. Really, the inning in which he fell apart (the fourth) was triggered by something preventable. Balester was unable to turn a sharp comebacker to the mound into a 1-6-3 double play (the ball deflected off his glove and died behind the mound -- a tough play, not an error) opening the floodgates for a four-run inning.

"I thought he made some progress today," Acta said. "It was just a rough inning, but every ballgame is lost in one inning."

Which is the primary problem with Balester right now. He's making too many mistakes. And he doesn't have the sort of mid-90s fastball to get away with that. Balester will get at least one or two more starts this spring, so his bid for a rotation spot isn't over. But today, it took a serious hit.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 20, 2009; 6:37 PM ET
 
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Comments

No Manny. What he really needs is better command and more than a pitch-and-a-half repertoire.

Posted by: leetee1955 | March 20, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Balester & Mock have both been fighting with giving up the long-ball in ST. Option them both out, with an understanding of what they need to work on (staying down in the zone), and the probability that they're on the short-list of callups, should they prove themselves in SYR.

Posted by: BinM | March 20, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

I was at the game and Balester looked so good and the all of a sudden its 5 to 0!!
The botched double play was key though.
He gets that and he pitches into the fifth inning giving up only 1 run.
Oh a game of inches!!!

Posted by: Spinman | March 20, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Dice-K against USA Sunday night?

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 20, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

@nova_g:

Could be, but it would also be Oswalt vs. Japan, yes?

Posted by: BinM | March 20, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

>What he really needs is better command and more than a pitch-and-a-half repertoire.

He needs to shorten his stride -- because you overthrow the breaking balls, hold onto the ball too long, and your fastball ends up coming in high at the same time. He's too much arms and legs and chance. Got the arm to succeed. No doubt in my mind, he just needs to zero in on the mitt and cut down on the movement.

Posted by: Brue | March 20, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

So when are we going to see Tavarez & Beimel in games? I understand that Beimel is already a given in the b'pen, but I'd like to see something out of Tavarez before we annoint him as the LR for the 2009 Nationals.

Posted by: BinM | March 20, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

This is no knock on Balester; as Chico said, he's just a kid and still has time to mature into a solid major leaguer.

Since 2006, his minor league ERA has been between 3.84 & 5.20 (except for a 3 game stay at Harrisburg in 2006).

In other words, he's never shown that he is a true prospect. We're told he's the "real deal," but he's yet to show it at any level.

I think he was considered a top prospect because at the time, the team had no one else in the minors with any real talent.

Now that Martis, Zimmermann et. al. are ready for the major leagues, Balester just doesn't look that great.

At least, for the moment.

Posted by: rushfari | March 20, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Balester & Mock have both been fighting with giving up the long-ball in ST.

Posted by: BinM | March 20, 2009 7:20 PM
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
At times it has looked like BP.

The Expos/Nats have been a system that has allowed opportunities for the young and marginal to get real MLB time that they couldn't get in other organizations.

That is starting to change so unless these guys start to get serious especially in the off-season they will be the way of guys like Mike Bacsik, Mike O'Connor, and a few others.

Observations like this and my previous comments CB made last year to Nick Johnson on MASN show how he feels about himself and they usually become that self-fulfilling prophecy for failure "He's prepared himself, too, to handle such a demotion..."

I think Collin Balester needs those books on Positive Mental Attitude and Killer Instinct.

Not a big Mock fan. Just haven't seen it, but wish them both good luck.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 20, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

>but I'd like to see something out of Tavarez before we annoint him as the LR for the 2009 Nationals.

Like another quote? My over/under for the # of outrageous quotes he has this year is 4. But that's only if he sticks for the entire season. Otherwise it's 6. Because if they cut him, he'll churn out some extra.

Posted by: Brue | March 20, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Let's make an offer to Pedro.

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 20, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

>Let's make an offer to Pedro.

Cy Expo. Anytime. His arm is loose>

Posted by: Brue | March 20, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

You want the Nats to bring back 2006 fireballer Pedro Astacio? LOL

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 20, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

15 days left in ST...

For the starting staff, the only decision left is whether to option Martis or Zmm to start the season, or keep them both.

In the bullpen, things are a bit more up-in-the-air; Hanrahan, Rivera, & Beimel [LH] currently constitute the "back-end" of the bullpen. That leaves 10 pitchers contending for 4-5 spots with the big club. Let's take a snapshot view of each of the contenders...

Bergmann [40-man] - Former SP, settling into MR/LR role nicely (6.3IP, 0:4w/k, 11:5GO/FO, 0.00ERA).

Colome [STI] - Vying for a roster spot (7.0IP, 0:5w/k, 10:10GO/FO, 2-0 W/L, 3-4 SV, 1.29ERA).

Glover [STI] - Vying for a roster spot (6.3IP, 3:7w/k, 9:3GO/FO, 1-1 W/L, 1BS, 1.43ERA).

Hinckley [LH, 40-man] - Had a couple of rough outings in ST to-date (7.3IP, 2:2w/k, 10:10GO/FO, 1Hold, 8.63ERA).

Ledezma [LH, STI] - Vying for a roster spot, has had a couple of rough outings in ST {including Italy} (8.0IP, 3:11w/k, 6:6GO/FO, 4Holds, 5.63ERA).

Mock [40-man] - Gave up some long-balls early, but coming around (8.0IP, 3:4w/k, 11:12GO/FO, 2Holds, 1SV, 6.75ERA).

Shell [40-man] - One bad outing in ST to-date (9.0IP, 3:4w/k, 11:11GO/FO, 1Hold, 5.00ERA).

Tavarez [STI] - Signed 3/13/09, waiting for Work Visa (no appearances).

Wagner [STI] - Vying for a roster spot; One bad outing in ST to-date (6.0IP, 4:4w/k, 10:4GO/FO, 1Hold, 6.00ERA).

Young, T. [40-man, RuleV] - Trying to hold a roster spot off Rule-V claim from CIN (9.0IP, 6:4w/k, 11:12GO/FO, 1Hold, 1BS, 4.00ERA).

Abbreviations =
IP = Innings Pitched
w/k - Walk / Strikeout ratio (includes HBP & IBB)
GO/FO = Ground-out / Fly-out ratio
BS = Blown Save
SV = Save
ERA = Earned Run Average

Posted by: BinM | March 20, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

@rushari: In other words, he's never shown that he is a true prospect. We're told he's the "real deal," but he's yet to show it at any level.

Absolutely, I agree. This kid Balester, right now, is a run-an-inning guy, and was most of last season in the bigs as well. As Manny sez, there are flashes, but that's it.

But I loved Manny's line that "every ball game is lost in one inning." Well, Mr. Genius, just leave out that inning.

The more Manny speaks, the more he sounds like Dead Man Walking. Or Stupid Man Talking.

This team starts its usual 6-and-19, he's gone by May 15...

Posted by: jdschulz50 | March 20, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

We need a starting pitcher. We have a lefthander and a righthander, Lannan and NN. Olsen will do OK in April and May (4-3), then WATCH OUT. Martis will keep us in games. but he's a year away. Trade Millege and others for a starter, NOW. Our relief pitching looking much, much better.

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 20, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Tavarez, maybe Mock, maybe Rodriguez (give him a start, 4 innings, 4 and a half). I know you don't know who in the eff I'm, talking about, but do it? It's one game.

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 20, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

It's hard for me to stop liking Boni; there are sometimes slow games; then Boni gets on base.

"Over the past few weeks, I've gone from nearly disdaining the guy and the trade that brought him here to thinking we got our worth in right now talent for Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham to marginally liking him."

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 20, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

I saw Wagner pitch last week. He looks very close to being all the way back. Was throwing 89-90 rather than 91 before he got hurt. That could be that he is just short on arm strength or just a difference in the guns.

Not much written about Wagner so far but he looks like he is going to help at some point this year.

Posted by: Section314 | March 20, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

This is still a building and transition year. You get rid of many big salaries that have little to add to this year's team and you get 2 Top 10 Draft Picks.

If the hype is right, the #1 pitcher for the Nats 2010 rotation is there for the taking ---Stephen Strasburg.

Strasburg
Lannon
Olsen
Zimmermann
Martis

The Nats need OF's for next year after this roster shakes out and they need a 1B. Let's see what Milledge does this year. If Dunn can't be transitioned to 1B for 2010 then the Nats will be in search of a 1B again as NickJ goes Free Agent.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 20, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

They're not going to trade Milledge.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 20, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

And what if Marrero has a monster year in Syracuse? He's a 1B with a fair amount of pop....

Posted by: Juan-John | March 21, 2009 12:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm wondering what Jim Hendry would take for Micah Hoffpauir. He's their fifth outfielder, and third or fourth first-baseman now, but hitting something like .350, and apparently that's no spring fluke. Somebody is going to get this kid, and we could use him, bad. They've got Fukudome in center for now---maybe we send them Milledge and Kearns, and take Fukudome and Hoffpauir? Hey, maybe they'd throw in Mike Stanton ...

Posted by: CEvansJr | March 21, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Fukudome? You must be out of your Fukudome mind...ok, not really, just couldn't resist. Seriously--he has one of the worst contracts in baseball--3 years and some $30 million left--no way you take that on even with a promising prospect. Those kinds of moves kill salary/roster flexibility. And where does Fukudome play for the Nats? Does he start over Dunn? Dukes? Willingham?

Posted by: jfromPG | March 21, 2009 1:02 AM | Report abuse

">Let's make an offer to Pedro.

Cy Expo. Anytime. His arm is loose>

Posted by: Brue | March 20, 2009 8:01 PM"

... or, let's not and say we did.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 21, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

"I'm wondering what Jim Hendry would take for Micah Hoffpauir. "

... please. One Micah was one too many.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 21, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

this may be a bit early, but i expect us to make a strong move to add Lackey or Halladay as a free agent. i believe our offense is mostly set for the next year or so.

Posted by: longterm | March 21, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

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