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Pena Given Unconditional Release

After refusing to accept a minor league assignment, Wily Mo Pena was released tonight by the Washington Nationals, ending the outfielder's tenure with an organization that once viewed him as a centerpiece of its future. Pena had been placed on waivers this weekend, but went unclaimed. He is now a free agent.

Pena, 27, had the body of a slugger but not the swing. Acquired from the Boston Red Sox in August 2007, Pena got off to a tantalizing start, hitting eight home runs in his final 37 games. But last season, while battling a shoulder injury, Pena had a .267 slugging percentage and just two home runs in 195 at bats. This spring, his health was the only improvement. He still struggled to hit breaking balls, and displayed little gap power.

The Nationals, already with a crowded outfield, had no room for Pena, and Pena did not wish to play with Class AAA Syracuse. He will still earn a guaranteed $2 million from Washington this season.

The Nationals made one other move this evening, reassigning relief pitcher Gary Glover to minor league camp. The Nationals active big league roster now stands at 34.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 31, 2009; 8:48 PM ET
 
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Comments

From 36 to 34? Mistype or did something else happen?

Posted by: AnonymousSources | March 31, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering the same thing about 36 to 34 on the roster. I would be glad about that, but I think it might be a typo.

As for WMP- good riddance. He was a mistake, although one I was excited about. I remember writing on NJ, months before he was acquired, that something or other was as sure to happen as Jim Bowden trading for WMP. At the time, the price seemed pretty good. Ignoring the intermediate trade of Chris Carter, it was essentially a trade of Emilano (Emilio?) Fruto, who never amounted to much, either.

Anyhow, here is another part of Cincinnati gone from the Nats. The $2M is gone, and not the fans' problem (right Stan? We don't care what you spend?).

I still think that Kearns might work out (if only in an eventual trade), and of course I am excited about Dunn. It will be great to start seeing more moves with other teams that are now willing to deal with us.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | March 31, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Glover was sent to minor league camp.

Posted by: Roscoe4 | March 31, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

For any other fans of Shawn Hill the Padres-Brewers game will air tonight at 10PM on the MLB Network and Shawn is expected to start and pitch the first 4 innings. Here's wishing this classy pitcher the best of luck as he attempts to secure a spot on San Diego's roster.

Posted by: uscnatsfan | March 31, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Kearns is hitting a lot better, right? Thanks to Eckstein, I assume. So why are folks down on him?

And here's an unrelated question. The exhibition game Sat w/the Orioles was supposed to involve a fan fest, but I haven't seen any publicity about it. Anyone know what's going on? The team doesn't seem to be pushing that game as much as they might. Since we don't have a regular season game at Nats Park till the 13th I think quite a few people wd go if it were well publicized, and the proceeds are for the Nats Dream Fdn, so why the big silence?

Posted by: Section109 | March 31, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the info. The DVR is hereby set.

Posted by: Roscoe4 | March 31, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I guess Wily Mo still counted on that 36 list. So 36 minus Pena and Glover is the 34 figure. Didn't know that.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | March 31, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

The Tigers will owe Sheffield his guaranteed $14 million salary for this year. Team owner Mike Ilitch had to approve the move, Dombrowski confirmed. Assuming Sheffield clears the 48-hour waiver period unclaimed, he'll be free to sign with any team he chooses, with the signing team owing him only the minimum Major League salary.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I guess Angelos will jump on this. League minimum and sell more tickets and be a sideshow like he had with Sammy Sosa in town. Lets see if McFail will try to nix that.....

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 31, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

In Chico's last post, he referred to a question in which Da Meat was "Asked about the team's decision to keep him in Viera for the next few weeks....." which implies that the Nats have placed him on IR and/or extended spring training, which would have taken him off of the active ML roster and, along with the reassignment of Glover, brought the number down from 36 to 34. Did anyone else catch that?

Posted by: zav56 | March 31, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Section109,

They are charging regular season prices for that exhibition game with the O's. I would imagine the sales are not very brisk. If they would have charged half price for tickets, I think more people would go, thus more money made for the Nats Dream Foundation.

Very foolish, IMO.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 31, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

SHeff has some gas in the tank. What will they do with Luuuuke?

Posted by: Roscoe4 | March 31, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I think Sheffield goes to Atlanta (again) or Arizona.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | March 31, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

The Wasteland of Minimal Production? Gone. Da Meat Loaf and Kearns? Hopefully gone after this season as the de-Bowdening of the Nats continue.

Posted by: leetee1955 | March 31, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

@Section 502503--good point about the exhibition game. In light of the economy, a particularly good point.

Posted by: Section109 | March 31, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

The exhibition game Sat w/the Orioles was supposed to involve a fan fest, but I haven't seen any publicity about it. Anyone know what's going on? The team doesn't seem to be pushing that game as much as they might. Since we don't have a regular season game at Nats Park till the 13th I think quite a few people wd go if it were well publicized, and the proceeds are for the Nats Dream Fdn, so why the big silence?

Posted by: Section109 | March 31, 2009 9:34 PM

-----------------------------

The fan fest is an appreciation day for full season ticket holders. I got my tickets in the mail the other day. It goes from 1-4pm and requires both the fan fest tickets and the game tickets to get in. The players will be there to sign autographs (though not Ryan Zimmerman...he's only available for photos).

Not sure what genius scheduled an exhibition game for 6:05pm against the NCAA Final Four that starts at 6:07pm. Plus, it's at night in April...which keeps people away even for regular season games. And to a lesser extent - though it affects me - the game also goes up against a DC United home game.

Not only is there no push for this game - what have you seen for the home opener on the 13th? I haven't see squat. You think they'll be able draw more than 30,000 for that afternoon weekday game?


Posted by: combedge | March 31, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

The "fan fest" on Saturday is for season ticket holders only. They received passes for the event, which is from 1 pm to 4 pm. (Pictures and autograph signing on the field, activities for kids, etc.). You need a pass and a ticket to the game to be admitted. so if you want to go, find a STH on Craigslist who is interested in selling a ticket, and make sure to get a STH Appreciation Day pass for each ticket.

good news on WMP. Hard to believe he was once slated as our starting left fielder.

Posted by: Section222 | March 31, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

In re Martis: “Acta pulled out a copy of the spring statistics, suggesting that numbers proved the point.”

Thrilledge: small sample, yes: 3 for 25, 0 BB, 7K, 1R .120, since the announcement of him as the choice for leadoff.

Keep AK for AD's sake. Trade Thrilledge now.

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 31, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

I am thrilled that opening day is coming soon and although I am not predicting a championship for our Nats, I will find a great deal of joy in measured progress over last year. There is not a single player on the Nats this year that I am not interested in cheering for. (Last year I found it difficult to cheer for LoDucca, Lopez, and Estrada based on the percieved attitude issues).

Here are my modest goals for the Nats this year: 1) starting pitchers that complete more than 6 innings; 2) pitchers that work fast, throw strikes, and field their positinos; 3) fundamentally sound baserunning and base coaching; 4) an infield that finishes in the top five in double plays; 5) a team that finishes in the top 5 in (fewest) errors; and 6) a team that wins at least 76 games. Perhaps unexciting or modest goals by some standards, but the team described above would be very interesting to watch.

Posted by: natbiscuits | March 31, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

"Not only is there no push for this game - what have you seen for the home opener on the 13th? I haven't see squat. You think they'll be able draw more than 30,000 for that afternoon weekday game?"

I received an e-mail just today announcing that tickets are still available for Opening Day, so the push to sell tix is probably beginning. The game is still nearly two weeks off. And I see no reason why they won't have a crowd well above 30,000. Of course if Obama comes it should sell out, but even if he doesn't it should still sell fairly well. Recall that the 2007 opener in the dump that was RFK did not sell out but was only several thousand short. And that was for a team that had no players other than Zimmerman that anybody had even heard of, and which people were seriously predicting would lose 130 games. This year's team is much better than that team, and the stadium is much better too. If people came in 2007, why would they not come now?

Posted by: nunof1 | March 31, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

uscnatsfan, thanks for the heads-up.

Hill pitched 4 innings, around 50 pitches. Didn't look too bad through the first 3; giving up a double that lead to an unearned run and a couple of infield hits. Gave up a double and triple in the 4th that lead to his two earned runs.

It's always wait and see with Shawn, but looks like he's making progress.

Posted by: joebleux | March 31, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Time to eat crow. I posted on here several times that I thought WMP had just as much chance of making the roster as Kearns. That WMP would be healthy with no power whatsoever is a big surprise. Too bad. The 2007 WMP looked like a player worth having. Of course so did Alex Escobar for a month back in 2006.

Why do fools fall in love?

Posted by: ArlingtonNatsFan | March 31, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

And they're not going to trade Milledge.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 31, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

I am thrilled that opening day is coming soon and although I am not predicting a championship for our Nats, I will find a great deal of joy in measured progress over last year. There is not a single player on the Nats this year that I am not interested in cheering for. (Last year I found it difficult to cheer for LoDucca, Lopez, and Estrada based on the percieved attitude issues).

Here are my modest goals for the Nats this year: 1) starting pitchers that complete more than 6 innings; 2) pitchers that work fast, throw strikes, and field their positinos; 3) fundamentally sound baserunning and base coaching; 4) an infield that finishes in the top five in double plays; 5) a team that finishes in the top 5 in (fewest) errors; and 6) a team that wins at least 76 games. Perhaps unexciting or modest goals by some standards, but the team described above would be very interesting to watch.

Posted by: natbiscuits | March 31, 2009 11:13 PM

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Very nicely said especially about fundamentals and lets add pitchers that don't walk the opposing pitcher.

As a former player and coach, I cringe when the simplest of fundamentals are missed. I was at my son's Varsity baseball game tonight when the first baseman snagged a hot line drive and went to double off the kid on 3rd base that was 1/2 way down the 3rd baseline. The 3rd baseman doesn't tag the base rather goes to tag the runner who slid under the tag and was safe. Of course the next batter got a single and drove home that run.

Errors happen but fundamental breakdowns will always seem to bite you in the a%%.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 31, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Ladson doesn't have anything about WiMP's release up yet - he must still be in mourning. I can't believe he thought that Pena was not only likely to make the trip north, but also worthy of competing for a starting spot. IDIOT!

Posted by: BGinVA | March 31, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Attention, all you Shawn Hill lovers:

They're not exactly building a new wing for your man at Cooperstown yet.

His line for his second start with San Diego:
4IP 5 hits 3 runs 2 earned, no K's, 2 walks.

"Hello, Mr. Hill, Dr. Andrews will see you now..."

Posted by: jdschulz50 | March 31, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

I thought he slid in one K in the 4th. It was really weird to see him in another team's uniform.

Posted by: Roscoe4 | March 31, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

"4IP 5 hits 3 runs 2 earned, no K's, 2 walks."

Not quite. He didn't walk anyone.

And, as I noted above, two of the hits were infield hits. Not really so bad for the first time he's stretched out to 4 innings.

Posted by: joebleux | March 31, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Got it backwards. He had 2Ks and no walks.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | March 31, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Roscoe4; right; he actually struck out two -- the one you remember, and the pitcher earlier.

Posted by: joebleux | March 31, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Dallas McPhereson got released from the Marlins today.

He used to be 1st/3rd basemen of the future for the Angels, but lost the job at 3B to Bonifacio for the Marlins. He might be worth a look, a Brad Eldred type with better BA. At the least he can hold down the fort in Syracuse, he's definitely an upgrade over Casto.

Posted by: NattyDelite | April 1, 2009 1:12 AM | Report abuse

And to think we once referred to WMP on this blog as Weapon of Mass Production.

Buh-bye.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | April 1, 2009 3:58 AM | Report abuse

Dallas McPherson, anyone? As a backup 3rd baseman with some power, he seems more interesting than Kory Casto. The Marlins released him, as he is out of options and nobody traded for him.

As MLBTR.com wrote:

McPherson, 28, hit .275/.379/.618 with 42 home runs in 448 at-bats last year at Triple A.

That is better than what Casto did. Casto is also out of options, and I know we have Ronnie backing up third. Still, if there is any thought whatsoever to keeping Casto on the team, it seems McPherson would be a better choice.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | April 1, 2009 7:11 AM | Report abuse

On one of the televised ST games this year, there was a shot of WMP in the dugout joking it up/goofing. And someone in a post a week or so ago said they were down in Florida for a few games and said they saw the same behavior from WMP. The guy obviously had no clue that hard work & focus was the only way he would make the team. Glad to see the Nats finally getting to the point where no one gets on the bus north for free.

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | April 1, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear it willy, I was rooting for you to make it click but guess not.

Posted by: alex35332 | April 1, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Good luck wherever you wind up, Wily Mo.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 1, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

The team's approach to marketing and PR remains confounding, and I don't know whether the blame is Kasten's or the Lerners'.

At a time when the team needs to build a fan base in economically depressed times, they charge regular season prices for an exhibition game and restrict a fan-fest to people who have already made the purchase commitment for season tickets. That makes zero sense.

As with the event in January, the better strategy would have been to generate the broadest possible attendance and give season ticket holders some extras.

And there is still no team store downtown, no effort to generate a presence or excitement within the city. And even now, the only high-visibility relationship they have with another area business is with the new Gaylord hotel in National Harbor, a place that is not Metro accessible and is not even within the District let alone the "entertainment district" in whose development and eventual success the team presumably has a major stake.

From a strictly business perspective, I just don't understand it.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 1, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Since Wily Mo refused the assignment to AAA - why would he still get his $2 million?

I think he gets the prorated protion for attending Spring Trainng - which should be about 1/4 of his salary.

So, are the Nats on the hook for the remaining ~$1.5M? It seems to me that if he reports to AAA he should get paid, if he refuses the AAA asignment, he is declining the remaining $1.5M as well.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 1, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

>Since Wily Mo refused the assignment to AAA - why would he still get his $2 million?

He was out of options. So he's cut, regardless of whether he reports or not. When you're out of options, you're not compelled to report to the minors. You're a free agent. Just because nobody else wanted to pick him up and pay him doesn't mean that he's not entitled to the money. It's the team's decision, thus you get your guaranteed money.

Posted by: Brue | April 1, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

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