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Nats Make 11 Cuts

In the Space Coast Stadium clubhouse, the lockers closest to the exit belong to the young guys, those with minimal (or nonexistent) big league experience. Today, more and more of those lockers don't have nameplates at the top. The 11 cuts the Nationals made this morning cleared the roster of what Marco Estrada called "mostly younger guys." Estrada, indeed, was one of them.

"I mean, I saw it coming," he said this morning, while putting his belongings in a duffle bag. "I didn't pitch too well when I was up in the big leagues last year. It is disappointing. I thought I had a little bit of a chance [at a bullpen spot]. But it's probably the right choice. Now I've just got to go up there and work hard."

Of the 11 cuts, six were on the 40-man roster. (Thus, the 'optioned' terminology.)

Reassigned to minor league camp:

* P Josh Towers
* C Gustavo Molina
* INF Freddie Bynum
* INF Joel Guzman
* OF Jorge Padilla

Optioned to Class AAA Syracuse:
* RHP Tyler Clippard
* RHP Marco Estrada
* OF Leonard Davis
* OF Justin Maxwell

Optioned to Class AA Harrisburg:
* RHP Luis Atilano
* INF Ian Desmond

By Chico Harlan  |  March 16, 2009; 10:37 AM ET
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Next: Lineups From Roger Dean Stadium


J-Max to AAA? That's mildly interesting.

Posted by: BobLHead | March 16, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Chico. Timely post with stuff we want to know. Excellent.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 16, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I was newposted:

OldDude- Thanks for the info on broadcasts.

I think what Lastings needs most right now is for the season to start. The only way to get people to accept his approach will be to succeed following it. I do hope that Marquis Grissom gives him a lot of personal attention, and that he is willing to put in the time when the attention is offered.

The one difference for me in discussions of Lastings and Elijah is that I am almost afraid to mention Dukes' name. Like the butterfly flapping in Mongolia having an effect on the weather a hemisphere away, I fear that mentioning or even thinking of Dukes could start a chain of events that would lead him to trouble. I think Lastings will simply exasperate at times, but hopefully fulfill his potential in the meantime.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 16, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

@Bob - I always take those levels optioned to with a grain of salt. Some of it is procedural. It will be interesting to see how everything shakes out when all of the moves have finally been made.

Posted by: Brian_ | March 16, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

OK, proving my density again:

It isn't necessarily right to say that guys that were optioned "were on the 40-man roster," is it? They won't be on the 25-man roster, but they still may be on the 40-man roster. Some will have to be removed to make room for non-roster invitees that make the team, but not yet.

Please let me know if I am wrong.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 16, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

The only players that have to be optioned are on the ones on the 40-man. That transaction removes them from consideration for the 25-man.

If a player is not on the 40-man, he only need be re-assigned

Posted by: Brian_ | March 16, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone see the WBC USA game last night? After Dunn mashed a double to right-center, Rick Sutcliffe made a statement to the effect of...I don't understand how this guy strikes out 190 times a year.

Sutcliffe also praised Dunn's focus at the plate. Dunn is obviously hitting very well right now, but why is he (career-wise) so bad with runners in scoring position? Is it a lack of focus? Is he trying to do too much?

Posted by: dclifer | March 16, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse


It is because Dunn was saving his career years for the Nats.

Let's hope.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 16, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse


Thanks. I understood it correctly, and Chico's phrasing was unlikely meant to say that those 6 were removed from the 40-man roster.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 16, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

"It's strange to watch Milledge at the plate. He is constantly gesturing, nodding, and making little faces. It's as if he is trying to impress some other presence that is watching him, or as if he's in a little morality play or something.

It is classic ego-centered, narcissistic behavior. It allows him to send constant messages out about how nonchalant he is. It is also extremely immature."

This is all so much poppycock. It's quite simple what Milledge is up to at the plate. He's just throwing it down to try and get some play on Can you blame him?

Posted by: nunof1 | March 16, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

It's strange to watch Milledge at the plate. He is constantly gesturing, nodding, and making little faces. It's as if he is trying to impress some other presence that is watching him, or as if he's in a little morality play or something.

Posted by: ThinkingOne | March 16, 2009 10:49 AM

I've said it many times here before, but I'll repeat. The kid can't take his eyes off of himself on the jumbotron. And when the camera's on him right before he steps in the batter's box, he'll steal a quick glance up, but try not to show it.

Like I said before, the first 50 times he did it, it was funny and charming. Young kid getting used to The Show and all.

But after awhile it became ridiculous and a little worrisome. Like, "enough already, worry about your play, not how good you look."

Posted by: NatsNut | March 16, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

The analysis that Dunn has a low batting average with runners on base is misleading. He has a low batting average all the time. His OBP and SLG percentage are actually quite high with runners on base and even higher with runners in scoring position. His productivity (% of runners driven in) is also quite high.

The confusion is caused by looking at a single statistic instead of a full range of statistics. Dunn always works the count waiting for his pitch. He takes more pitches than almost any other player in baseball - thus looking at a high number of strike three pitches. But when he makes contact, he crushes the ball. 100 RBI seasons don't happen unless the batter is performing in the clutch.

Posted by: natbisquit | March 16, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I think that there is a significant difference between Milledge and Dukes. My sense of Dukes is that he is more talented and works much harder at his game. He tends to do the little things well - draw walks, hit cut-off men, etc. He is potentially (there's that word again) both a better offensive and defensive player. I've never heard anyone question his work ethic. Yes, his personal life has been a mess, but I think he suffers inappropriately by being linked to Milledge is a discussion about work ethic.

There was a lot of cringe-worthy material is today's article. I can't say I agree with you, nunof1, about your "15 good minutes is enough" argument. I think most great hitters are spending at least an hour or more a day on their hitting, separate of on-field BP. Between video work, hitting off the tee, and soft toss in the cage, Lastings' self-professed "20 minutes" isn't really enough. I was also uncomfortable with his "argument with my wife" comments at the end. I understand and mostly agree with his sentiment, I guess - namely that his personal life should remain personal and not public. Still, I would have liked a little more discretion. It would have showed some much needed maturity.


Posted by: db423 | March 16, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Good move on JMax as he needs the work in the Minors. Next year this outfield will shape up differently with Kearns and WMP out of contract and Dunn possibly moved to 1st base with Nick Johnson out of contract.

Looks like on this years roster it will be Bernadina and Kearns competing for the last roster spot which Kearns probably gets.

Posted by: dmacman88 | March 16, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

How great is baseball when we can have this kind of spirited, in-depth discussion about a team that lost over 100 games last year. Life without baseball would be sad indeed.

Posted by: kfisher32 | March 16, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

“they are coddled and catered to and thus develop an attitude that makes it difficult for them to accept accountability.”

“they” includes lastings, for sure. others that “they” includes: scott olsen as poster child for “adjustive dissonance (dysfunctionality incarnate, coined here).” this jim b-reclamation-brat-for-life, light-in-the-ass, confrontational menace to club chemistry has lost 3-5 mph from his not-so-fast-fastball, so that vaunted slider of his better be a good one this year. add 0.5 to his ERA for the move from florida. can you say “shellacked,” scotty? anyone remember his best friend, older brother randy messenger, who gave the 6-5, skinny, pencil neck, only child brat a black eye a few years back? "He never really had to share with anybody throughout his childhood. It makes a difference, whether you think it does or not. We've always told him he was selfish. He'd say, 'I'm not selfish.' You're selfish. … I think that's a big part of it, not having another sibling to be there with him." little scotty calls his mommy every day, because as scotty says they are “very close.” duh. ya think? i hope my grandchildren grow up to be just like him: cigarette-smoking (parliaments), disrespecting national anthems (hi lastings!). who will be the first nat teammate to have a physical confrontation with scrawny, baby-faced, shellacking scotty olsen? one of the du boys, either adam or elijah (biblical names a propos). the first to charge the mound? chase utley.

“they” includes elijah, yes, but every team can handle one of this type, especially in light of his huge upside. "I know what those guys are capable of doing," teammate Willie Harris said. "Especially Dukes. I think Dukes, his upside is a lot higher, his ceiling is a lot higher than Milledge's” (lastings’ “visual spatial skill deficits”).

two three, four, five guys like that (the attitude, not the vssd) and you have a pack, a critical mass in training, an adjustive dissonance thread running wild throughout the club. dunn plays with a broken hand. lastings gets his “work” in, all 45 minutes worth. scott olsen is tasered, drunk, on a plastic chair in his front yard.

any differences between adam, elijah and these two clowns?

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 16, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Anyone want to talk about opening day rosters and who wins these pitching competitions? As I see it, we have 4 ongoing pitching competitions going on this spring:

- last rotation spot: Martis, Balester, Hill.
- Setup: Shell or Rivera.
- Loogy: Hinckley, Chacin, JJones, Ledezma.
- Longmen Bullpen: Bergmann, Chacin, Colome, Mock

(though you could argue that the whole bullpen is up for grabs right now).

My thoughts: Hill proves unhealthy, starts season on DL and Martis gets 5th spot. Club dumps Hinckley for Chacin for LOOGY because Chacin has flexibility to also be a long man/spot starter. Shell beats out Rivera for 8th inning job, and Colome forces Bergmann to AAA for longman.


Posted by: tboss | March 16, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I love it when the armchair Hunter S. Thompsons free-associate their magnum "Fear and Loathing in Viera" opuses here. Imagine how good they'd be if these guys actually dropped some acid themselves!

Posted by: nunof1 | March 16, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

There's no fear and loathing in Viera. More like beer and boating.

Posted by: BobLHead | March 16, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

BobLHead, are you saying that the Nationals have signed Fred Smoot?

Posted by: nunof1 | March 16, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

My only Milledge story is also a Kearns story. I know I told it here once before, so feel free to skip over it if you've heard this one before.

I went to a Sunday game during my trip back East last year. Part of the afternoon festivities included a DC area youth baseball team. The little guys were announced prior to the Nats taking the field, and they ran out of the dugout and took their positions.

The Nats followed, and each player ran to his corresponding little leaguer. Some were obviously more into it than others, and there were various levels of interaction and engagement. Milledge, though, ran right past his kid, who was just past the infield dirt (they kept them close so they could get off the field quickly).

Instead of jogging out to right field, Kearns ran directly to his corresponding player and had a chat. When he noticed the young(er) center fielder unattended, he made a point to go over to the kid and talk to him, too.

It was a touching moment, and just more evidence that Kearns "does things the right way." It's really not worth castigating Milledge over the ordeal - there's a good chance he just failed to see the kid standing there. But I should admit that a part of me did wonder how cool it would be to see someone with Milledge's skills and Kearns's thoughtfulness and attentiveness.

He'd probably still be in NY if that were the case, though.

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 16, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"As I see it, we have 4 ongoing pitching competitions going on this spring:"

I think Julian Tavarez will surprise you, when he is used in a regular role he does a nice job, he could be the set-up man this team needs.

Posted by: skippy1999 | March 16, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I forgot Hill pitches today. I wish he were pitching more than an inning.

Poor guy will be bombarded tomorrow with the 2,759th iteration of "how does your arm feel?"

Posted by: NatsNut | March 16, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Lastings Milledge ... sounds a lot like me.

... I’m an old guy but I’m not someone who looks back on what used to be. I don’t care how things were ten years ago, or last year, or last month or last week. yesterday is already dead and gone. It’s today and tomorrow that matters. I don’t care how they used to do things – and I think that’s how Lastings feels.

... now about team traditions and rituals – same as in society. If there are good reasons for certain things to occur – showing up early before games, just hanging out ‘with the guys’ wasting time (oops, I mean ‘bonding’), then make it a rule. Make it clear what time anyone – rookie or veteran – is expected to show up prior to a game. That’s how humans operate in community – they follow the rules. They don’t expect each other to behave like they do, simply because everybody watches everybody else and takes their cue from that.

... Lastings is right. he’s cocky because he knows that as long as he’s allowed to, he can and will succeed – within the rules. But don’t shift the rules on him. Don’t tell him this is how we do things around here, if those things aren’t explained clearly and at the start, and especially if those things are laid out specifically as ‘the rules’.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 16, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Chico thanks for the Milledge write up. I do not really mind his personality and I surely do not care about his "wife or girl friend relationships....What I care about his production on the field and that is the problem. He was the second worst CF in National League by most stats. He costs us runs....lots of them. He runs into outs......He swings at the first pitch after a walk.....Chico that is the facts and Milledge’s response is telling.....If I am not good enough doing it my way then I don't care to improve doing it anyone else’s way......Ouch...give me Church and Brian Back.......

Another problem with those comments is he is trying to associate himself to Dukes. Dukes is the real deal. He is very polished, he is very good....Lastings seems to be trying to leach off his talent by association. The two are worlds apart in baseball skills.

Chico, what needs to be asked is about his performance. No one would care how much time he spends in the Cage or in CF drills is he produced and improved....He does not and is going down hill fast based on what I saw Sunday and in September .....You need to follow up and ask him about Sunday's game and his performance....the base running, the strike outs, the weak arm, the two bad jumps....Ask him about that because that is what you said we should do.

Posted by: JayBeee | March 16, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Aw heck, maybe that's why I like him so much.


Lastings Milledge ... sounds a lot like me.

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 16, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Milledge has not done himself any favors with the Q&A with Chico,he should have declined gracefully,hopefully he doesn't read the blogs, you guys are killing him and the season is still three weeks away but hey i get it he kind of opened his mouth and inserted his foot!

Posted by: dargregmag | March 16, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

"If I am not good enough doing it my way then I don't care to improve doing it anyone else’s way......Ouch..."

It's not all that often that I agree with JayBee, but this is what I took away from Lastings' comments as well.

Posted by: BobLHead | March 16, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I'll second dargremag on that, particularly as regards the armchair psychoanalysis. It's one thing to weigh in on one's observations/perceptions regarding a player's actions; it's another diagnose him from afar.


Milledge has not done himself any favors with the Q&A with Chico,he should have declined gracefully,hopefully he doesn't read the blogs, you guys are killing him and the season is still three weeks away but hey i get it he kind of opened his mouth and inserted his foot!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 16, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

OK LM, I'll play by your rules. I actually agree with you on this. I've been thinking too hard. I won't think anymore about your age, work ethic, coaching relationships, physical or mental skill set, personality traits or how you hold your face in the on deck circle. I'll judge you only by what happens on the field. But be careful what you wish for, it cuts both ways.

By that standard you're an inferior outfielder and baserunner and an at best incomplete hitter. As pro athletes, you are most definitely not "all the same." It's a tough competition and a lot of guys play better than you.

So do it your way or any way you want. Not my business. But get better.

Posted by: utec | March 16, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

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