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Shawn Hill Signs With Padres (And Other Notes)

* Let's start things off with news about Shawn Hill. The right-hander, released by the Nationals on Wednesday, has just signed with the San Diego Padres. It's a non-guaranteed minor league deal, Hill said.

* Adam Dunn and Joel Hanrahan are traveling back to Viera, Fla., today -- fresh off the WBC -- and will be with the Nats tomorrow. Manager Manny Acta promised to work both back into the mix quickly, especially because of the glut of off days they got with Team USA. "We need those guys to go right in there," Acta said. "We only have a few days left, so they need to come over here and get to work."

* We spoke briefly with acting GM Mike Rizzo this morning during batting practice. Your official Q&A follows below. He said, most interestingly, that "we're not out combing the wires or making a lot of phone calls looking for starting pitchers."

---

RIZZO

Q: There are two weeks now until Opening Day, with a lot of decisions still to be made. How much are you guys still looking at what's happening on the field these next two weeks, and how much will be based on what you've already seen?

Well, I think there's still a lot of competition for a lot of spots, and that is a good thing. I think camp has gone well. I think the players have been performing well, and it's good and refreshing to be battling for spots instead of kind of reaching for options.

Q: Specifically with the outfield, are there enough roster spots that you could go into the season without having to deal somebody away?

Yeah, I think there are scenarios where we could carry the glut of the outfielders.

Q: Is that not the ideal scenario?

It's not the ideal scenario, but it's also -- we're not going to make a bad baseball trade just to alleviate one of the outfielders. So, we're going to do what's best for the club short-term and long-term.

Q: When you look at the last two spots of the rotation, do you feel comfortable at this point filling it with 22-year-olds, or do you prefer to use a trade to bring in a veteran?

Well, the first part of your question, I feel comfortable with the in-house candidates for the fourth and fifth spot, but are we looking to improve ourselves if there was a deal out there that would improve us short-term and long-term? Certainly.

Q: But to pin you down, would starting pitching at this point be the priority for acquisitions?

Well, yeah, it's always important to acquire starting pitching whenever you feel you have an opportunity to get a good starting pitcher, but we're not out combing the wires or making a lot of phone calls looking for starting pitchers.

Q: With Lastings as your lead-off guy, what makes you think he's the guy?

Well I think he's a good, young offensive player that has speed. I think he's really making an attempt to look at much more pitches and be selective at the plate. I think he's gonna grind on many more at bats than he did even in the two-hole position. Certainly he's a work-in-progress as the lead-off guy, but he has all the ingredients to be a good lead-off hitter... He gives you a speed guy at the top of the order.

Q: How would you describe the trade market at this point? Is it active? Is it the kind of thing where teams are waiting 'til it gets closer?

Yeah, I think teams are waiting to see how things play out in their own camps; injuries always have a big part of it. And several deals you would have in the works would be pending on the health of the players on the prospective ballclubs.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 23, 2009; 1:06 PM ET
 
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Comments

I'm glad Shawn got a job, but I still have a knot in my stomach about it.

It's like we broke up with him, but it still hurts to see him with another woman.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 23, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"but we're not out combing the wires or making a lot of phone calls looking for starting pitchers."

No, only doing that for catchers...

Posted by: dclifer | March 23, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

> No, only doing that for catchers...

Actually, they're probably done with that.

Posted by: spamcastin | March 23, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

> Let's start things off with news about Shawn Hill. The right-hander, released by the Nationals on Wednesday, has just signed with the San Diego Padres. It's a non-guaranteed minor league deal, Hill said.

Get your tickets now for his grand return to Nationals Park with the Padres July 24-26. Or will he still be in the minors or back on the DL then?

Posted by: spamcastin | March 23, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

So, Rizzo-philes, what do you think of this:

"Well I think he's a good, young offensive player that has speed. I think he's really making an attempt to look at much more pitches and be selective at the plate."

That's very similar to statements Bowden has uttered about one of the less liked Bowden acquisitions (though that is all relative, isn't it?), but here's Lord and Savior Mike Rizzo saying the same thing. Thoughts?

Posted by: Section506 | March 23, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

When did Bowden ever say such things about Nook Logan?

Posted by: spamcastin | March 23, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Lazy outfielder alert: Anyone catch Dunn's act last night against Japan. On at least 3 different occasions he could be seen simply jogging after a ball in the outfield while runner were rounding the bases. On one ball which he should have fielded, he simply jogged and let it go by to the centerfielder, who fieled it in right field. Come on, man. How about some hussle. It isn't like it was a meaningless Spring Training game. He also seems unwilling to swing at anything except HIS perfect pitch.

I'm just not sure about him yet. He has a lot to prove to this fan. Hitting 40 HR and not doing much else does not thrill me like it does some.

Posted by: kfisher32 | March 23, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

These cryptic messages have me scratching my noggin even more.

"Yeah, I think there are scenarios where we could carry the glut of the outfielders."

This is going to have to shake out in the next week with regards to Wily Mo Pena and a few others.

The overall MLB market is so bad right now for trades that unless it is a freebie like Shawn Hill or Bard there just isn't many teams that will take a WMP or Kearns unless the team eats all the salary so your choice is keep the "Glut" or outright release them.

There have to be so many teams shopping their big salary guys that are under-performing with hopes of getting ready some payroll, but like I said there aren't any takers at this point.

In July, I would suspect some teams will take on some of these guys for playoff runs so for now the Nats will have some very expensive bench sitters.


Posted by: dmacman88 | March 23, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

No, Bowden would have compared Milledge's eye at the plate to a young Ted Williams. He would added that his defense was approaching Willie Mays and he was on the verge of a Jonas Salk like breakthrough in the war on cancer.

Posted by: Brian_ | March 23, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Not to complain, but...

One thing I am tired of is people who criticize managers and GMs who don't "tell the truth" about their own players. The quickest way to tear apart your clubhouse is to rip one of your own players publicly. I would criticize Rizzo and Acta is they buried any one of their guys in the press. That would be stupid management.

Right now Milledge is probably the best lead-off man they got. Install him there; say positive things; hope for the best; keep looking for better options.

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 23, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

> "Yeah, I think there are scenarios where we could carry the glut of the outfielders."

> This is going to have to shake out in the next week with regards to Wily Mo Pena and a few others.

Dunn, Dukes, Milledge, Willingham and Kearns are the glut. Pena is the dregs. He won't be carried anywhere except out the door.

Posted by: spamcastin | March 23, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

@Sec 506: No one ever said Logan was a "good young offensive player with speed." Their claim was Logan was a good yound DEFENSIVE player with speed. Their mistake was thinking he would get better with the bat or bunt for 150 hits a season.

Posted by: kfisher32 | March 23, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I didn't say a darn thing about Nook Logan, that was somebody else. I was speaking only about Milledge, which has been hated on as a Bowden mistake in these here parts and now Rizzo says the same thing.

Brian's snark on the subject is greatly appreciated.

And I agree with #4 wholeheartedly.

Posted by: Section506 | March 23, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Section506,

... my take on Mike's statement is simply this. With this assessment as with any others, he may possibly be correct in his own right. I can't see how the connection can be made to Bowden merely through the similarity of thought. It's quite possible - on any number of occasions - for Mike to feel the same as Bowden, but still be a much different GM.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 23, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I actually think Milledge for Schneider and Church was one of the better trades Bowden made. I think Milledge will continue to improve and don't have a problem with him (yet). I just wish they would put him in left field where he belongs.

Posted by: kfisher32 | March 23, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

To the point that it's Post of the Day!

It's been a while. Shouldn't we technically have one of these every day?

-----

Brian's snark on the subject is greatly appreciated.

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 23, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

> I think Milledge will continue to improve and don't have a problem with him (yet). I just wish they would put him in left field where he belongs.

They need to put Adam Dunn in left. He doesn't fit anywhere else. RF? 1B? Did you see the WBC?

Posted by: spamcastin | March 23, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I don't get the connection between Rizzo's comments and Bowden. Bowden was the master of hyperbole, while Rizzo made a reasonable assessment of Milledge's strengths. I was a little worried that Rizzo would follow Bowden's lead when, talking about Kip Wells' physical, he said something to the effect of 'he passed it swimmingly in all respects', but his later comments have seemed better. We'll see if he is the right guy for the job, but he appears appropriately balanced in his comments to me.

Posted by: Willy2 | March 23, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

@spam: No, no, I understand on THIS team he has to play center because of Dunn, but my point is I think is correct position is LF. Dunn is an absolute mess defensively. Last night was HORRIBLE, not to mention the 1B debacle last week.

Posted by: kfisher32 | March 23, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Chico, I appreciate your follow-up question.

-----

Q: But to pin you down, would starting pitching at this point be the priority for acquisitions?

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 23, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

They have a centerfielder. Justin Maxwell. Just have to finish his development.

Probably see Dunn at first eventually and Millege moving to left to make room for Maxwell.

Posted by: periculum | March 23, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I would be quite happy to see Austin Kearns take his overpaid...right out of here. He's a nother Bowden Bust.

Posted by: ridgely1 | March 23, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm happy for Hill that he's getting a shot somewhere. Will be rooting for him.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 23, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm happy Shawn landed in San Diego,hopefully he does well i thought we gave up on him too soon(inretrospect maybe not)but he had flashes of potential all be it not enough to keep him here, so Good Luck Shawn!!

Posted by: dargregmag | March 23, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

A non-guaranteed minor league deal? The Nats couldn't have offered him that, instead of sending him packing????

Mark Texeira made the right call. This is still a Mickey Mouse organization.

I've seen Little Leaguers who look better in center field than Milledge. And, I've seen Little Leaguers who look a lot better than Dunn looked last night.

Cellar-dwellers.....

Posted by: fischy | March 23, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

San Diego? What happened to Toronto?

Posted by: garyolney | March 23, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I wish Shawn all the best and hope things work well for him in San Diego. Will continue rooting for him.

Posted by: tanglee | March 23, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I still don't understand why the Nats release Hill vs sending him to Syracuse or Harrisburg. Since he cleared waivers, wouldn't it be Hill's choice to either accept assignment or take his release if the Nats didn't release him?

I just don't see the $600k of salary being that big of a deal. All of the articles say the Nats released Hill, but is there perhaps another side to the story that Hill or his agent wouldn't go for the assignment?

Posted by: sniz15 | March 23, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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