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The Cuts -- And A Bullpen Possibility

Before we get to the official list of cuts, something just came up that might be intriguing. The Mets cut reliever Duaner Sanchez, who made 66 appearances for New York last year and had a 4.23 ERA. Stunning numbers? No. But a serviceable reliever? Absolutely. How many of those do the Nats have?

Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News told me Sanchez threw 88 mph yesterday, but was struggling with his control. I can tell you that some in the Nats organization met this development with keen interest. It bears watching.

Now, the cuts. The following players were assigned to minor league camp:

LHP Justin Jones
RHPs Bobby Brownlie, Preston Larrison and J.D. Martin
C Javier Herrera
INFs Chris Marrero and Matt Whitney
OF Destin Hood.

LHP Mike O'Connor was optioned to Class AAA Syracuse and LHP Ross Detwiler was optioned to Class AA Harrisburg. These two guys were on the 40-man roster, which is why they had to be "optioned".

Acting GM Mike Rizzo said Marrero needs to get four at-bats a day. (From my observation, Marrero is much, much slimmer this year, and appears in better shape. Not sure how this translates, but ...)

Rizzo on Detwiler: "I'd like to see him take the same step he took from last spring training to this spring training. ... The stuff is there, and it's going to be there. We knew when we drafted him, he wasn't a finished product. He was a stuff guy, and we had to refine his delivery."

They're still in the process of doing that, apparently. One question that lingered about Detwiler when he was drafted still lingers today: Will his frame fill out? I know some in the organization are worried he'll always be a stringbean type, and that might affect his velocity, etc.

First pitch is at 1:05 p.m., and you can hear Charlie Slowes and Dave Florida/Jageler on WFED. And my apologies to Florida, whose name I mis-spelled (as Jaegler) in a woozy post last night. I've been told my name is difficult to spell and pronounce, so I've always tried to take extra care with spellings. My fault, D-Flo.

I'll get you one or two updates during the game. And now, I will get lunch. Must be a place where a fella can do that around here.

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 10, 2009; 11:22 AM ET
 
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Next: Zimmermann: Um, Wow

Comments

D-Flo. That's good.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 10, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

This is great stuff, Barry, thanks. I wonder if Rizzo really thinks Detwiler's stuff is there. In any case though, a lot of this talk from Rizzo now is revisionist history from the Nats. Of course, a lot of the hype back in 2007 could have been due to the typical Bowden bluster, which Rizzo would probably rather we all forget about.

Anyway, here's what you reported the Nats' brass' take on Detwiler to be in 2007, after the draft. Note the discussion then about his build, and comfort with his delivery:

"The Nationals' take on the slender build?

"I didn't want to add any weight to Ron Guidry or Satchell Paige," GM Jim Bowden said. "I really don't understand that. ... He's a sturdy guy. He takes the ball. We're not concerned with it more than any other pitcher.

"And, just to throw another name at you, here's player development guru Bob Boone: "I had the opportunity to catch a pretty good left-hander who had a similar frame." That would be one Steve Carlton, who, if I recall correctly, was OK.

"Just to recap: Detwiler was, in the first seven minutes after he was drafted, referred to in the same breath as Ron Guidry, Satchell Paige, and Steve Carlton. The next great skinny pitcher.

"Delivery: He appears to have action across his body, which would normally be a red flag. But scouting director Dana Brown dismissed it. This guy studies pitchers for a living, something I do not, so I'll take him at his word. Brown said Detwiler gets through his delivery and is able to deliver the ball to the lower part of the strike zone down-and-in to right-handed hitters, down-and-away from left-handers (which is the opposite side of his pitching arm). They talked about it, and they're not concerned about it."

* * * * *

Also, here was the consensus coming from the Nats at the time about how major-league-ready Detwiler was when drafted. Much different from Rizzo now claiming that they knew when they drafted him that he wasn't a "finished product":

"Bowden admitted there could be "signability" issues with Porcello, so they went with a safer pick (who's closer to the majors anyway -- 2008 at some point or 2009 at the latest)."


Sure, draft picks don't pan out, I get that. But let's not let the Nats re-write history on their draft pick here. He was the 6th pick overall, don't forget. And so far, he's been a disappointment.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | March 10, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I would not be opposed to taking a look at Sanchez, as long as it's a minor league deal. He was pretty impressive two years, before he got hurt and considering the state of the bullpen, he'd probably be better than what we have.

Most of our bullpen options are young and inexperienced. Sanchez would add some stablity as a low risk guy.

I was intrigued by the idea of moving Martis to the pen, a la Joba. But with BallyStar imploding, I think Sharon is the new leader for the 5th spot, with Don't-Call-Me-Ryan a shoe in for the rotation.

Posted by: sec307 | March 10, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Because a relatively small percentage of minor leaguers become every day major league players, I don't think it's healthy to worry about how a particular player is progressing through the farm system at a given time.

We all assume that young Detwiler - by virtue of his first-round selection - will not only make it into the Nationals' rotation but will thrive there.

But it's not important who makes it as a starter as long as someone does.

Anyone.

It's very difficult to watch a first-rounder fail, but that failure doesn't matter a bit if someone else, someone who wasn't expected to make it to the majors, takes his place.

John Lannan, looking more and more like the team's ace, was an 11th round draft pick in 2005 and wasn't ever expected to make an impact on the Washington Nationals.

Justin Maxwell (5th round), Ryan Delaughter (6th round), Marco Estrada (7th round), Mike Daniel (8th round), Jack Spradlin (9th round) and Dee Brown (10th round) were all chosen ahead of Lannan in 2005 and only two (Maxwell & Estrada) have even sniffed the major leagues.

I don't think that it matters if the team's top-of-the-rotation starter ends up being an 11th rounder from Siena College instead of a "can't miss" 1st round prize.

Jordan Zimmermann was chosen in the 2nd round as a "project" because of his Division III background and minimal number of innings pitched because of his school's Wisconsin winter.

He may end up being that dominant pitcher the Nationals were searching for when they tabbed Aaron Crow with the 9th pick in last year's amateur draft.

Crow didn't sign and Zimmermann is causing 29 other teams to wonder exactly why they didn't see him as first-round talent.

The Nationals had likely envisioned winning a divisional title with Ross Detwiler and Aaron Crow leading the way.

They will likely win that crown one day, but with Lannan & Zimmermann in their place.

It doesn't matter who that pitching arm is attached to. It just matters that it can win games.

Posted by: rushfari | March 10, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

@CiL:

I follow what you are saying on the spin, but just because he is not in the show already doesn't make him a complete bust. Look at the 2007 first rounders and you will see exactly three other players (four including Detwiler) who have MLB experience. David Price, Eddie Kunz and Tommy Hunter. Sure there are a handful of others showing as much or more promise than Detwiler, but a lot of other first round picks are still on A level teams. Don't write him off just yet...

Posted by: NeedANatsFix | March 10, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Should the Nats be interested in Pedro Martinez? It's not like their starting pitching is overwhelming. With a potential top-rank starter they might actually be a good team.

Posted by: shorowit1 | March 10, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

"Sure, draft picks don't pan out, I get that. But let's not let the Nats re-write history on their draft pick here. He was the 6th pick overall, don't forget. And so far, he's been a disappointment."

God forbid a general manager exaggerate claims about a player he just drafted. Why, that kind of thing should be a firing offense. Instead of pumping up the player, what should he be doing? Saying "we know this guy sucks, but we drafted him anyway"? Geez.

With no effort at all I just pulled this up off the web:

"On the day the Washington Nartonals drafted Ryan Zimmerman with the 4th pick in the 1st Round of the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft, mlb.com's Washington Nationals writer Bill Ladson wrote in his article, 'Nats draft Zimmerman at No. 4', that sources within the organization had, '...already compared him to the likes of Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt and Troy Glaus.' "

So let's compare these two draft day situations. What's the same? Exaggerated claims about the draftee by the general manager. What's different? Ryan Zimmerman has lived up to the exaggerated claims (more or less) while Ross Detwiler hasn't (yet). Coverage is Lacking clearly has an ax to grind here rather than any kind of cogent argument.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 10, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

"Should the Nats be interested in Pedro Martinez? "

... I hope not. IMNSHO, we don't need to rile up the clubhouse any more, especially when it looks as tho' it might be taking a turn for the better at the moment.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 10, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I thought CiL's argument was cogent. Detwiler was projected to be pitching in the rotation by 2008 or 2009. Obviously, he isn't going to be meeting that projection. I think that qualifies as a disappointment "so far." Hopefully Detwiler will start putting things together at AA this year and maybe he'll contribute in 2010.

Posted by: jcj5y | March 10, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

>Coverage is Lacking clearly has an ax to grind here rather than any kind of cogent argument

So, his ax isn't as valid as the ax you use to try to beat anyone down who looks at the way things are instead of how they would like them to look? This team's got a long way to go in some areas. Pitching being the most urgent right now.
And yeah, apparently exaggerating a top pick is a fireable offense. That, along with driving a team into the ground! Yep, sure is. They could sell Bowden pinattas at the ballpark for all I care.

Posted by: Brue | March 10, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

OK, so - the Nats "optioned" Detwlier to the minors. Since he was called up in the end of 2007, does that make 2009 his 3rd - and final - option season?

And, no thanks to Pedro Martinez. I think he's done.

And for Duaner Sanchez, why'd he get cut?

Posted by: comish4lif | March 10, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

@comish - No. He was never optioned down in 2007. His first option year was 2008. This year (2009) is his second option year. 2010 is his third. And since he spent all of the 2008 season in the minors, the Nationals get a fourth option on him in 2011.

Posted by: Brian_ | March 10, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Let's not give up on Balester just yet either. Undoubtedly brought up earlier then one would have liked, he pitched 80 innings last year - he can get major league hitters out.

I think we can say with some evidence that he is prone to the long ball when his FB gets up in the zone - but that shouldn't disqualify him from a major league career. Especially since he is only 22 years old.

We might soon have a starting rotation that feautres Lannan, Zimmermann, Balester, Detweiler, and (maybe) Strasburg. (feel free to argue about those like McGeary that I have left out)

I'm willing to bet that not all of them will win twenty games every year and be inducted into the Hall of Fame - but, considering the potential of each, and relative to the quality of pitching across the league, (think of Detweiler or Balestar as a #5 starter) - I like our chances.

Posted by: lowcountry | March 10, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

">Coverage is Lacking clearly has an ax to grind here rather than any kind of cogent argument

So, his ax isn't as valid as the ax you use to try to beat anyone down who looks at the way things are instead of how they would like them to look?"

I think you've digressed. That's unexceptable revisionist history. Coverage is Lacking is trying to tar and feather the Nats for exaggerating claims about draftees who later don't pan out - like every GM in baseball doesn't do the same thing all the time. Bowden admittedly was flamboyant and flagrant about it, but that's no reason to paint him as something worse than he was. Of course, that same kind of exaggerated blowhardedness does seem to be Coverage is Lacking's stock in trade, so maybe he's subliminally identifying and sympathizing with poor JimBo. If so, I pray for his buttocks and his family.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 10, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

CiL wasn't trying to tar and feather anyone. He just made an observation. Sheesh.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 10, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Sanchez was the one who was trying to come back after a taxi crash, yes?

Now, what's all this talk about axes? Is it related to the Ax Men promos that run on the MLB Network all the time? Oh. Never mind.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 10, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

A pointless observation, yes. So I exaggerated that a bit. Go ahead, tar and feather me. You know you want to.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 10, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Time for baseball. 1500 comes in better (i.e., I can actually hear what Charlie and Dave are saying much of the time) during the day for me. Yay!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 10, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I don't think he was trying to "tar and feather" anyone. You exaggerate worse than Bowden. Zimmerman is not Brooks Robinson or Mike Schmidt. If he starts roiding, he might be a Troy Glaus.

Posted by: dclifer | March 10, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

@NeedANatsFix:

I hear you on not writing off Detwiler just yet. I hope he's able to put things together. The part I don't get--in addition to the spin that you acknowledge--is why the Nats would have drafted at #6 a college pitcher whom, Rizzo now says, they knew to be something of a project at the time they drafted him.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | March 10, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Curious about Justin Jones. Lefty, 5Ks in 11 outs. Know he was a bit banged up earlier but seemed to be having a solid spring.

Wouldn't be surprised to see him back this summer if we need a lefty in the pen.

Posted by: hoo93 | March 10, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Brian, thanks for the clarification - I was under the impression that any move onto or off of the 25 man roster counted as an option. And I thought any year in between counted as well. So, your information is better news.

I had thought that the Nats started the "options clock" on Detwiler on a useless inning back in 2007.

Posted by: comish4lif | March 10, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"Rizzo now says, they knew to be something of a project at the time they drafted him."

It couldn't be possible that this is spin too, could it?

Wheels within wheels...

Posted by: OldDude | March 10, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Options are good for the entire year. You don't use one up with each promotion/demotion within a year.

The reason that Detwiler didn't use an option in 2007 is that he was never on the 40-man roster without also being on the 25. He was never actually "optioned" to the minors that season.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 10, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if I would have said it with the bile that nunof1 did but, I do see his point that GM's paint their 1st round picks as HOF's. NFL and NBA GM's are especially great at this.

I take it with a grain of salt when I hear them bloviate about "how great so and so will be" and I certainly wouldn't hold their feet to the fire on it.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 10, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, OldDude, it could be spin too. What we know is that at the time they drafted him, Barry reported Dana Brown to say they discussed his delivery, and they aren't concerned about it. Now, Rizzo says that at the time they drafted him, they knew that they would need to work on his delivery. Both can't be true. If it's actually the case that when they drafted him they thought his delivery was OK, but since then recognized that it needed to be refined, Rizzo should just say that.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | March 10, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

@comish - There is a difference between service time and options. When the Nationals added Detwiler to the 40-man and 25-man in September 2007, the only thing they started was his service time clock. He accrued roughly 30 days of service time.

Service time is what is used to determine arbitration and eventually free agency. He has not accrued any additional service time since then, holding at 30 days.

As for options

Detwiler was not optioned to the minor league for the first time until spring training 2008. That used his first option year. Since he spent all of 2008 in the minors (i.e. was never recalled) the MLB CBA grants the team a fourth option year. So, the Nationals used his second option year with the move today. Keep in mind, that he could be recalled and sent down multiple times in 2009 and still only use his second option year. Then, as I mentioned before 2010 and 2011 would be his final two option years with the same rule about recall/sending back down holding true.

Posted by: Brian_ | March 10, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Dukes just blasted a 2 run homer...

Posted by: FloresFan | March 10, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Right after I yelled at Milledge for not waiting for Dukes to bat him in.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 10, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Brian, you are a terrific source of knowledge (one of many commenting on this blog, I must say).

Posted by: Scooter_ | March 10, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I love how you could tell from the crack of the bat that that was a home-run. Woot!

Posted by: JennX_ | March 10, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

JennX - aren't you supposed to be studying?

Posted by: lowcountry | March 10, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

5050203--

The point I was making was not about comparisons to Ron Guidry or Steve Carlton. I'm not holding anyone's feet to the fire over that kind of exaggeration. My point was that statements that the Nats are making now--such as, we knew *when we drafted him* that we would need to refine his delivery--don't jibe with the statements they made back when they drafted him. As to major-league readiness, all that can be said is that he is a disappointment so far, as I said earlier. It is pretty hard to dispute that he is behind where he was projected to be, and where the Nats wanted him to be at this point.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | March 10, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

>Bowden admittedly was flamboyant and flagrant about it, but that's no reason to paint him as something worse than he was

I didn't know that was possible.

I could care less about arguing with anybody. Might be a big deal to you, but you've got the wrong guy if you think it matters to me. Only reason I'm keeping an eye on the threads is because it's spring training and there's always something happening. And Jim Bowden ain't one of them.

Posted by: Brue | March 10, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

>It is pretty hard to dispute that he is behind where he was projected to be,

He's going backwards - I never heard a report that he had trouble throwing strikes in college. So, some of the bloviating at draft time was true. Now he can barely find the plate.

Posted by: Brue | March 10, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, the Bog has a few marginally Nats-related posts up, and a tidbit on coverage that may be of particular interest to fishwrap readers.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 10, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

""Rizzo now says, they knew to be something of a project at the time they drafted him."

It couldn't be possible that this is spin too, could it?"

Of course not. If they hadn't viewed Detwiler as a "project", i.e. someone who needed some help with something in order to reach his ultimate potential, he would have been in the rotation from Day One after he was drafted. If he wasn't brought up that September purely because it was a condition of his signing (whether explicit or implicit) he would have pitched more than the one token inning he did. Of course they regarded him as a "project." He needed work. They knew it then and they know it now. Quit trying to paste ominous overtones of spin over perfectly normal comments made by different members of the same front office two years apart. The only revisionist history being played out here is you guys trying to make the Nats seem even worse than they are or have been. Why you want to do that, I don't know.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 10, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

lowcountry: Now while I'm at work. :)

Posted by: JennX_ | March 10, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

What is the option status of O'Connor? He was up last year for a few weeks and had rough time put in bullpen and then one start. hten down to AAA and had era in 2.2 range etc before being ht in face in August? DOes he have options left?

THought he would get a better look after good AAA and since he got yanked around when up last year?

Posted by: oldfande | March 10, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Thank goodness for work!

New Post

Posted by: lowcountry | March 10, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

That should have read "NOT", not "now". Darn multitasking.

Posted by: JennX_ | March 10, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

"'Should the Nats be interested in Pedro Martinez? '

'... I hope not. IMNSHO, we don't need to rile up the clubhouse any more, especially when it looks as tho' it might be taking a turn for the better at the moment.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 10, 2009 12:38 PM "
-----------------
Aw, c'mon Natscan - he'd be a link to the 1994 best team in baseball.

I say we put up a 1994 flag and force MLB to tell us to take it down.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 10, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Barry - If you'll have time to get away from the immediate area for lunch, head to Bonefish Willy's. They have a deck right on the river. Great lunches. It'd take about 20 minutes to get there from Space Coast Stadium, but it's right up US1. It's address is 2459 PINEAPPLE AVE, Melbourne, 32935. Get the "Grouper Willy" sandwich...

There's "Fiesta Azteca" for mexican on Wickham Road, but the "Alamo" on US1 is better, but i don't know that they're open for lunch. Portabella Ristorante on US1 in rockledge is good for authentic italian. ( 4657 Us-1 S, #B, Rockledge, FL 32955 ).

And if all else fails, i live on the other side of 95 from the stadium if you just want to swing by for a beer.

Posted by: ryan_temp | March 10, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

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