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The Roster Puzzle's Final Pieces

The latest batch of cuts is coming today, but don't expect all that much clarity... yet. That said, a lot of the questions concerning the roster are concentrated toward the bottom of the depth chart; already, we have a pretty sound idea of Washington's everyday team. I've spent the morning trying to sort things out, and for the moment, it's looking like at least 18 players (barring trades and injuries) are locks to make this team:

Starting pitchers (3) John Lannan, Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera; Relievers (3) Joel Hanrahan, Joe Beimel and Saul Rivera; Outfielders (5) Adam Dunn, Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, Josh Willingham and Austin Kearns; Infielders (6) Ryan Zimmerman, Cristian Guzman, Anderson Hernandez*, Nick Johnson, Ronnie Belliard and Willie Harris; Catcher (1) Jesus Flores.

So, that's 18. Which leaves space for seven more. Even here, the allotment of those seven spaces is fairly clear-cut.

Washington needs:

> One backup catcher.
> Four bullpen members.
> One starting rotation member... and this becomes two on April 19, once the Nats expand to a five-man rotation
> One more "wild-card" position player... and this spot disappear on April 19, once the Nats take on a fifth starter.

For the moment, Anderson Hernandez's hamstring injury presents the opportunity for another potential position player to take a roster spot. That is, if Hernandez begins the year on the DL. So let's just settle the Hernandez question right here, before moving on. (By the way, we'll get an injury update on Hernandez today.) I think the variables here are almost nil. If Hernandez can't start the year, either Alex Cintron or Alberto Gonzalez makes the team. If Hernandez is healthy, both Gonzalez and Cintron enter the back end of the discussion for that "wild card" spot.

Putting Hernandez aside, here is what we're left with, category by category:

Backup catcher: It's either Wil Nieves or Josh Bard. Probably a toss-up. Don't expect Javier Valentin to factor too seriously into the discussion. Bard has a stronger bat, but Nieves has a good, established rapport with the staff.

Bullpen: Jason Bergmann has shown enough this spring (9-1/3 IP, 0 R) to be very close to sealing up a job, so that's the fourth man in the pen. The lefty spot -- and I think it will just be one -- will go to either Wil Ledezma or Mike Hinckley; Ledezma has the edge here. In the mix for the final two bullpen spots: Steven Shell, Garrett Mock, Julian Tavarez, Jesus Colome. Those whose chances are no longer worth a wager at this point: Ryan Wagner, Terrell Young, Gary Glover.

Starting pitcher: Jordan Zimmermann is pretty darn close to sealing the deal as the No. 4 starter. Whether he belongs in the big leagues is no longer a question. Shairon Martis has a tremendous edge over Balester for the other rotation spot, once it opens. Only an 11th-hour acquisition -- a trade, for instance -- would threaten Martis's job. Kip Wells has not shown enough to be a factor here.

The "wild card" spot: There are a few intriguing names that belong in this discussion. Does the team want to clear space for a sixth outfielder? Probably not. Wily Mo Pena has done little to show he belongs on this team. His .276 spring average is OK, but that belies his persistent inability to hit breaking balls and an absolute disappearance of gap power. Seven of his eight hits this year have been singles. He's not worth keeping around. Kory Casto is out of options and deserves a look here. Gonzalez and Cintron are also in the mix, and both have an advantage over Casto because they can play shortstop. (Without Gonzalez or Cintron, the team has no natural back-up behind Guzman.) So long as he's earning $5 million, Dmitri Young cannot be forgotten; you can half-imagine him evolving into a late-inning pinch-hitting specialist, ala Lenny Harris, but Young's lack of speed stands in the way of making this role ideal. Outfielder Corey Patterson is still in camp, and provides good speed and defense, but not enough bat. He won't make this team.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 27, 2009; 10:56 AM ET
 
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Comments

Dmitri Young doesn't even make the discussion, yet he's being added to the 40 man roster in place of someone else. Great.

Posted by: JhonnyBheGhood | March 27, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

So if Terrell Young doesn't make the 25-man, they have to send him back to Cincinnati, right? Think the Reds would notice if the Nats shipped them Dmitri Young instead?

"Ummm, here's your pitcher back. Sorry about the weight gain. What? This isn't the right guy? You sure? This is who Bowden came back with when Stan told him right before the Rule 5 draft that the plan was to get young..."

Posted by: spamcastin | March 27, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

My guess for the last 7:
J-Berg
WIL NIEVES! (of all the highlights they palyed in the intro to charlie & dave's broadcasts, the shouting of this name after the walkoff against the cubbies was the best)
Colome
Casto
Jaw-Z
Martis
Da Meat Hook. Yes, Da Meat Hook.

Posted by: nattaboy | March 27, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I think that Gonzalez makes this. He is a much needed late inning defensive sub. What's more we are stacked with ground-ball pitchers and his defense will be very useful.

Posted by: soundbloke | March 27, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Wait, add Ledezma and Mock, subtract Jaw-Z (for the first 2 weeks at least) and... Casto.

I just really want Meat to make the team

Posted by: nattaboy | March 27, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

The final 7:
Bergman
Ledezma
Hinckley
Tavarez
Nieves
Zimmermann
Gonzalez (this becomes Martis on April 20, when we need a 5th starter, and Hernandez is healthy again).

Posted by: usmc53 | March 27, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Chico - one factor you don't mention much (other than Casto) is the option situation. Any idea if Shell still has an option? I figure Mock does, and AG does as well. do they have the flexibility to send Cintron down?

Why I ask is I saw an interesting piece (OK, it was on Fangraphs if you can't guess from my posts) on use of the 25th roster slot. Essentially, they suggest teams can fluctuate between 11 and 12 man pitching staffs through the use of guys with options, and keep a 14th player around except when the bullpen is worn out or there are a string of games when you think they'll have wear.

With the Nats having several pitchers who could rotate through the 7th slot in the bullpen (Mock, Hinckley, and posisbly Shell if he ahs options), and a few guys who might be useful extra bench players (Casto, Langerhans, Patterson, Cintron among the guys w/o options, and Gonzalez, Maxwell, etc . . . among guys with options), the Nats might be able to go with 14 players more than they currently are talking about.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 27, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

WILD CARD [FELLAHS]!!!!!!!!!!!!


Where's Cricks?

Posted by: Section506 | March 27, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Bard

Bergmann, LeDezma, Colome, Tavarez

Zimmermann, Martis (hey, I'm a realist)

Wild card while the 5th pitcher is not needed - Dmitri

AG is AH's replacement if AH is DL'd, I/M/O.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 27, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I don't care what they say, that was funny nunof.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 27, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Rotation:

J. Lannan l
S. Olsen l
D. Cabrera r
S. Martis r
(5th - J. Zimmermann) 3/19

Bullpen:
J. Hanrahan (CL)
J. Beimel (SU)
S. Rivera MRP
S. Shell MRP
W. Ledezma LH.S.
J. Bergmann MRP
J. Tavarez LRP

Starting Position Players:
c: J. Flores r
1b: N. Johnson l
2b: A. Hernandez s
3b: R. Zimmerman r
ss: C. Guzman s
lf: A. Dunn l
cf: L. Milledge r
rf: E. Dukes r

Bench:
J. Bard c s
J. Willingham lf/1b r
R. Belliard 2b r
A. Kearns of r
W. Harris inf./of l
25th man - A. Cintron inf. s 3/19 demotion.

Debated having Gonzalez instead of Cintron because he's all ready on the 40-man. Eliminated Montz, Desmond, and Pena. That takes care of Alex, Tavarez, and Ledezma. I would NOT add Dmitri and instead add Matt Chico to the 60day DL and call up Zimmermann. Wait - he's not all ready on it, is he?

Posted by: AnonymousSources | March 27, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

oops, I meant spamcastin'. laughing out loud on the Terrell/Dmitri switch.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 27, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

yeah, sorry, i omitted Dmitri from the initial discussion. that was my oversight. by the way, i love the way alberto gonzalez has looked this spring -- tremendous glove, especially. but the team seems to prefer that he gets everyday experience, which probably books him for class aaa if/when AH is healthy.

Posted by: chicoharlan | March 27, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

What was funny?

Posted by: nunof1 | March 27, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

by he I mean Chico, on the DL.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | March 27, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Like jca's idea, interesting.

What about the weapon. I still have him on the 40 man. There's your spot for the Meat. Even with his troubles there is infitely more chance that the Meat helps this team than there is Pena helps them.

I wish we had more inventory of SP. If/when someone misses some starts (happens to every team every year) it would be great to have a solid 150 IP veteran or two in there to eat up some innings. I guess the plan is to rotate through the young guys. Then when rosters expand, you start alternating guys in the 4/5 spots?

Posted by: Avar | March 27, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Predictions-

Trade Kearns, eat salary. yum!
Harris as 5th OF. Gonzalez utility IF.
WMP will be removed from the 40-man and crush bombs at AAA, because that's where he belongs. No one shake his hand on the way out.

Kasto sits at AAA if (until) NJ gets injured or Zimm's shoulder issues return. No options left right, they could pull a Shaun Hill and let him go.

Hinkley not Ledezma. Why send L down if he's having success with St. Claire? B/c he's not on the 40-man.

Nieves not Bard. Mark my words, Bard will become a clubhouse problem if chosen.

Mock and Terrell Young. I don't think they'll be able to work out the trade to keep him in time.

Posted by: dclifer | March 27, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

How quick the talk of Dunn at first has died. Why? Because he got three errors in a single game at the WBC? Are we baseball fans?

Posted by: Section506 | March 27, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

It is hard to do the final evaluations without knowing for sure who has options remaining or those who for any reason would not have to clear waivers if they don't make the team. Take Mock, for example, he is a prime candidate to be sent down because he should still have remaining options.

That would be good information to have for those on the bubble, that is, who gets exposed to waivers or who is able to request free agency if they don't make the team.

Posted by: Section314 | March 27, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I thought WMP would be the obvious one to go in order to make room for Zimmermann on the 40-man. Now that that ain't happenin' (since WMP will have to go to make room for Dmitri) I figure young Michael O'Connor's time on the 40-man roster is just about up. That's okay, because I can't see any reason why another team would claim him.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 27, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

So, if WMP does not make the team do the Nats outright release him, or offer him a stint in AAA? We have to pay him either way, but I'm not opposed to paying him to stay AWAY from the team. Can we give him a bonus if he signs with the Mets, Braves or Phillies?

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | March 27, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I saw enough of Martis last year and i've watched enough of him this year to know he should be in the starting rotation Zimmerman too if St.Claire has got a clue both of these pitchers should be going north never mind that bull krap about minor league seasoning just let em pitch.Now as far as Dmitri is concerned he is an experienced bat that might be valuable in say, a late inning contest score tied runner at second and he's a switch-hitter(NO! not that kind)so he gives the manager an edge but he needs to get in some kind of shape, pronto.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 27, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Be fair to him Section506, that was basically a spring training game at a position he is not all that used to. Not that I'll say he'll ever be a gold glover but, I think he goes to first the second Johnson goes down.

Also on the subject of the roster: Er, what dclifer said.

Posted by: soundbloke | March 27, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"How quick the talk of Dunn at first has died. Why? Because he got three errors in a single game at the WBC? Are we baseball fans?"

Talk of Dunn at first was misguided to start with. Willingham is the obvious choice for backup 1B. They were only working out Dunn at 1B early on because it wasn't clear yet that Johnson was healthy. Now that it appears that he is, Dunn at first is only a last gasp insurance policy. If Johnson and Willingham both go down, Dunn might have to play first. But if Dmitri shows up healthy in Syracuse they might even bring him up to play first before they put Dunn there.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 27, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

@dargregmag

Would you rather have 1.5 months of 23 year old ZNN or a full season of 28 year old ZNN?

It's a no-brainer. Send him down until June 1st. That way you can limit his innings, and push free agency one year later.

Posted by: Section138 | March 27, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, that's what I was hinting at soundbloke. A baseball fan realizes that one game doesn't make a trend, mental errors are the most frequent and can be caused by a huge variety of factors, and - most of all - April lies (and by extension, so does March).

Posted by: Section506 | March 27, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I think you had it right the first time, NatsNut.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 27, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to keep track of monikers sometimes, though. Heck, there must be at least 419 posters who comment from time to time.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 27, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I think you're too quick to dismiss Wells' chances of figuring into the discussion -- either in the rotation or, more likely, in the bullpen. I think they might want to keep him around, in case one of the starters falters.

Other than that, the analysis seems spot on to me.

Posted by: fischy | March 27, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Chico the pitcher, right anon?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 27, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I always figured NatsNut and natsfan1a were the same poster. Thanks for confirming it!

Posted by: nunof1 | March 27, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Now *that* was funny.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 27, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Great take on the final seven spots.
Bergmann has earned the long relief spot and in emergency pinch could start and go four innings.
Wilfred Ledzema has mid 90's heat
Jesus Colome has pitched well
Julian Taveras for the final spot
Martis for now- Zimmermann in June\ someone else between April 19th and June 1stmaybe Kip Wells\Wells ,Mock and Shell can start the year in triple A and be around if arms break down(when)
So that leaves the final three spots.
Utility infielder and someone who can play short Gonsalez fits the bill.
Nieves\ Baird hard to pick
Wild Card \ Not Mo Pena
Whoever it will be out of spring training will be temporary till Zimmermann comes up in April or June.
Actually the most interesting decision here for the Nats is Zimmermann or Martis???

Posted by: sposfan | March 27, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

he he. I actually do have another moniker I post under sometimes, but it ain't 1a. She's WAY more polite than me.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 27, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

It's a good position to be in, I suppose, but I really wish we had one Livan Hernandez-type to plug in at SP5. If you had that, I'd give Martis the SP4 nod over JoZim; a)a little more big league experience, b)JoZim has a slightly higher upside, making it a safer pick to let him season in AAA another season or two. I wouldn't even make him my first SP callup, just let him get 170 innings against close-to-major-league talent.
But, we don't have that luxury right now, but I still say Martis = SP4, JoZim = SP5 in a few weeks.

As for DaMeat - how many sure-bet 1B DL'ers do we need on this team? He stays in AAA.

As for the rest of the bullpen, I'd like to see options before I make those calls, but I do hope to see Hink make the team, even if it means having 3 lefties (Biemel, Ledezma, Hink) - he showed A LOT of poise and promise last year, and he should get a real shot.

Posted by: ajtrue78 | March 27, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I do too. It's JayBeee.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 27, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

A Livian Hernandez type would be good. Or even an Odalis Perez type. Dammit. Dammit to hell!!!

Posted by: soundbloke | March 27, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Go figure, NatsNut is SOCH. Who knew? I guess this means we only have 418 other posters, 1a.

Posted by: lowcountry | March 27, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I might have missed this discussion over the past few days, but is there any possibility of Martis becoming a super 2 and starting his arbitration clock early? Everyone is discussing Zimmermann, but Martis is quite young and showing some pretty good talent as well.

Posted by: NeedANatsFix | March 27, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

@506 - tick-tock sir... how sharp's your razor?

Posted by: RicketyCricket | March 27, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"I might have missed this discussion over the past few days, but is there any possibility of Martis becoming a super 2 and starting his arbitration clock early? Everyone is discussing Zimmermann, but Martis is quite young and showing some pretty good talent as well."

The problem with trying the same thing with Martis is that he was a Sept. call-up last year and already has 28 days of ML service time. So you'd have to add a month to the dates that would effect FA or super two status. So you'd have to keep him down until mid-may to delay FA and to Late June/early July to delay Super Two. While I hope that they still try to limit his innings he did pitch more than Zimm last season. So he is a better option than Zimm full a full season in the rotation.

Posted by: Steveo11 | March 27, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Would you rather have 1.5 months of 23 year old ZNN or a full season of 28 year old ZNN?

It's a no-brainer. Send him down until June 1st. That way you can limit his innings, and push free agency one year later.

Posted by: Section138 | March 27, 2009 11:57 AM
----------------------------------------------

That's why I say it's premature to rule out Wells. Using him as a starter for a couple of months, while Zimmermann holds in the minors makes some sense. If the Nats were a serious contender, it would not make sense. No point in keeping your best pitcher in the minor leagues for over a month to stall his free agent clock, if there's a chance of winning now. (Tampa?) But, with this team, it probably makes some sense. Let's have Zimmermann, Strasburg and Martis together for as long as possible.

Posted by: fischy | March 27, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I still wouldn't mind seeing Bergy open the year in the rotation for two months...unless we can get someone in a trade.

Posted by: Steveo11 | March 27, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

The Bard/Nieves question is the only tough one. Manny made a comment about how managers want a "catch/throw guy" on the bench in that position. I'm all for good catcher defense, but I think Nieves has to be significantly better defensively than Bard to justify it. In addition I'd like to hear why dclifer thinks Bard will "be a clubhouse problem."

My fear is that with Nieves and Flores that position offensively basically becomes an 0-4 every time the team faces a good RHP. That's a lot of games. With Bard, there may be a little more offense.

Lastly, does anyone know the rules about MLB pension vesting. Does DY's move to the 40 man have anything to do with that? I know he's vested, but does this add service time ( and money)? I'm just trying to figure out why DY made a point of asking for it, and JimBo gave it to him. He gets his $5 million regardless, right?

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 27, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I thought everybody's alternate moniker was 419+1.

And Cricks... THEY... DREW... FIRST... BLOOOOOOOOOOOD

Posted by: Section506 | March 27, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"I'm just trying to figure out why DY made a point of asking for it, and JimBo gave it to him"

It's a good question to ask, just don't rule out the possibility that he asked because he really wants to play.

Posted by: Section506 | March 27, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Also, the choice of 1 1/2 months of JZimm now v. 1 year later is a false one. That implies there is no chance of signing him to a long term deal or signing him when he becomes a FA. It doesn't accelerate him leaving the club, just when you have to start paying him big money. Hopefully if he's worth it, he'll want to resign and the Nats will fork over the money. It's very defeatist to say they won't have him after his walk year.

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 27, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

506:

Of course he wants to play. I don't believe for a second that DY doesn't want to play.

The point is that JimBo and DY had a conversation in which JimBo used this carrot to soften the blow of being dropped from the 40 man. There has to be something to the promise beyond improving his chances of playing. Am I missing something?

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 27, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

fischy I agree I think you look at the future and the ability to pick a rotation out of Lannan, Olsen (yeah i know alot of people are down on him but lets give him at least half a year before we give up on him) Strasburg, Martis, Zimmermann, Detwiler (hey he could turn it, i think he could have a break out minor league year) and whatever pitcher we draft at 10. That could be a very good rotation and if everything goes right (Olsen, Detwiler) we could have some big time trade value. I think we should save a year for Zimmermann...it makes perfect sense. And there is no logical reason not too.

Don't give me he's dominated ST. Spring numbers don't matter too much...look what Kearns is batting right now??? you think he can keep that up? Don't tell me he's dominated the minors, beacause Ian Kennedy and Homer Bailey had much better minor league numbers than Zimm but have struggled in the majors. Also while he has good stuff and in the eyes of some very good stuff, few people would say that he's gonna dominate from day one. Remember the Bos article talked about even the successful pitchers (Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan ect) struggled in their first few years in the majors. By keeping him down you can give him a dry run in the majors without burning up a year towards free agency. One last point is as we've talked about in this thread about the 40 man and the possible additions and subtractions...if we keep Zimm in the minors the nats can hold off on making a decsion until June. By that point it may be easier to add Zimmermann, we'd get a longer look at some boarderline guys...or maybe a spot will be open due to a guy on the 60 day D.L.

Posted by: Steveo11 | March 27, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

No, SOCH is not NatsNut. He's just a nut.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 27, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

On the question of options...Shell, Hinckley, Casto all do not have options. Bergman, Mock have at least one option left.

Posted by: fanofnats | March 27, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

fanofnats-

I am surprised that Hinckley has no options, since he made his major-league debut last year. Does it have to do with the number of years he has already been in the minors?

Thanks,

+1/2St

Posted by: kevincostello | March 27, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Hinckley was on the 40 man for three years and optioned all three years then removed and signed to minor league free agent contract. Same with Shell who spent three years on the Angel's 40 man roster and optioned all three years.

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

You may have a point in your most recent post, nunof.

p.s. I can only aspire achieve the greatness of NatsNut.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 27, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

It's very defeatist to say they won't have him after his walk year.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Agreed, #4, agreed. That said...you never know who's gonna sign, and who's gonna jump at free agency.
Plus...we're all Nats fans, so I think most of us always have a defeatist attitude.

Posted by: Section138 | March 27, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

*to* achieve

Is it game time yet? What? There's no game tonight, either? Whimper.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 27, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh. 7:05. Never mind.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 27, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYtjpIwamos

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHAAAAWW!!!

Posted by: RicketyCricket | March 27, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

"Also, the choice of 1 1/2 months of JZimm now v. 1 year later is a false one. That implies there is no chance of signing him to a long term deal or signing him when he becomes a FA. It doesn't accelerate him leaving the club, just when you have to start paying him big money. Hopefully if he's worth it, he'll want to resign and the Nats will fork over the money. It's very defeatist to say they won't have him after his walk year.

#4"

This is not a false premise #4. Having him under team control and cost control for an extra season adds leverage in potential extention negotiations and adds value for a potential future trade. Lets just say in a few years b/c of some of our young pitchers we have a surplus of starters. So its after the 2012 season and we want to get some young hitters in a trade for Zimmermann who has been a good pitcher for the Nats. If we start him opening day this year he'd have less trade value than if we wait two months. That extra year of team control means so much in terms of trade value.

Look at Santana, Bedard and Haren all being traded in the same offseason. At the time Santana was by far the best of the three than followed by Bedard (small knock for the injury potential but was dominate the year before) than came Haren who was considered a solid number two starter but not the ace the other two were. The difference between the three came down to the number of years they were still under team control Haren (3), Bedard (2) and Santana (1). And thats what it came down to in trade value. Haren returned a lot more talent than Santana did.

Now i'm not saying that we will trade him or not just pointing out the added value of team control and COST control that the arbitration process provides. Santana had no market b/c he was considered a rental and only 3 teams could really potentially afford him. Bedard had a larger market b/c their were two years left that he was under team control. And Haren had a huge market b/c everyone could have afforded him if they wanted him.

Remember even if the Nats wanted to resign Zimmermann to a long term deal he might not want to stay.

Posted by: Steveo11 | March 27, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

While we're waiting, there's a Strasburg piece on Baseball Insider.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 27, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"The point is that JimBo and DY had a conversation in which JimBo used this carrot to soften the blow of being dropped from the 40 man. There has to be something to the promise beyond improving his chances of playing. Am I missing something?"

You aren't missing anything. I think it speaks to the way Bowden operated. IMO, letting things get too personal. Obv, we all wish the best for DY, but sometimes tough love works too. i.e. don't say you're removing him from the 40-man but will add him next Spring. Say you'll add him IF he gets his act together. Bowden couldn't do that.

re Bard. I was wrong. I confused him with Barrett who was his teammate on the Padres.

Bard's numbers aren't off the charts, btw, but yes, they are better than Nieves. We're also talking about a back-up catching job here, so I don't think the offensive upside shouldn't determine the decision. We're talking 1 (maybe 2) starts per week. I see a good clubhouse guy, good game-caller, etc being more valuable with this young staff.
http://www.rotoworld.com/content/playerpages/player_main.aspx?sport=MLB&id=3526

Posted by: dclifer | March 27, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Again with the good clubhouse guy. By that I was referring to continuity and that last year, Nieves seemed like a positive influence in the clubhouse.

Posted by: dclifer | March 27, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

If Wil doesn't make the team I might go all stabby on the decision makers.

J/K guys. Please don't revoke my season tickets. Pretty please!

But I really do love me some Wil the Thril.

Posted by: Section138 | March 27, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Steveo11:
Only problem with that is Bergy's shown he can't get through a lineup the 2nd or 3rd time. I love him as a reliever, and hope he can establish a decent career there.
Wish they would have considered SHill for that role as well, but money might have been more of a consideration there.

Posted by: ajtrue78 | March 27, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Breaking News on Matt Wieters going to AAA:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090327&content_id=4074818&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

For the people bashing the Lerner's if they sent down Zimmermann for 60 days, does this move make Angelos CHEAP???

To me it becomes a contradiction. They overpay Markakis based on what would even seem reasonable on the FA market and then they send down Wieters strictly to move back his Arb clock.

There was a previous discussion on Wieters being the Baseball America #1 Prospect and pre-season Rookie of the Year front-runner. Someone thought if he has a year like Ryan Braun he can still achieve all the Rookie hardware while others thought missing 2 months usually hurts your chances.

Anyway, I don't think JZim and Wieters would really be the same situation comparing a young pitcher to a position player, but definitely wasn't unexpected given the Balt Sun article 2 weeks ago.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 27, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

"Steveo11:
Only problem with that is Bergy's shown he can't get through a lineup the 2nd or 3rd time. I love him as a reliever, and hope he can establish a decent career there."

You are right about that i can't argue that point but my point is Zimmermann hasn't shown he can either. In spring training he wasn't going through the line-up...and those weren't even "major league" line-ups.

Posted by: Steveo11 | March 27, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

On Nieves/The Bard: Keep Wil. You're trying to develop a young pitching staff, and Nieves is a good handler of pitchers. Plus, his bat is not the total 0-for-4 that it used to be. The Bard reminds me of something Casey Stengel used to say of Choo Choo Coleman: "He's the fastest in the majors in chasing passed balls to the backstop."
Wil Nieves, forever. Or at least 2009.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | March 27, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Steveo11:

Your points are good about trading leverage, but have nothing to do with how many games he pitches for the Nats. That's why the question, "would you rather have 1 1/2 months now or 1 year later" is a false choice. You can have both. The question of sending him down for a couple of months only has to do with how much money you'll need to pay him to do it. That's the point I was making.

In fact, if they sign him to a long term deal, you could argue that by keeping him in the majors now, they are trading 1 year of a contract to a broken down 33 year old for 1 1/2 months of a fresh 22 year old. I would also add that given the way salaries are expected to decline in the short term and increase probably in the long term, getting a guy to free agency sooner rather than later may not be a bad thing.

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 27, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

>How quick the talk of Dunn at first has died. Why? Because he got three errors in a single game at the WBC? Are we baseball fans?

It's because Nick's healthy, genius.

Posted by: Brue | March 27, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

>Only problem with that is Bergy's shown he can't get through a lineup the 2nd or 3rd time.

It's not his stuff so much as it's his emotional makeup. He can't stand the down time in between starts, he's too introspective. He's better when he stays on his toes out of the bullpen.

Posted by: Brue | March 27, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

>On Nieves/The Bard: Keep Wil. You're trying to develop a young pitching staff, and Nieves is a good handler of pitchers.

That's a stretch. Nieves has one of the worst swings I've ever seen. He hits like he's still in high school. They didn't pay Bard all that money to cut him.

Posted by: Brue | March 27, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

>You are right about that i can't argue that point but my point is Zimmermann hasn't shown he can either. In spring training he wasn't going through the line-up...and those weren't even "major league" line-ups

Zimmerman will do fine until he runs out of gas after the all-star break because his arm's never been stretched that far. He's got plenty of stuff, don't kid yourself. It's just a question of how many innings he can throw, because he's definitely going to hit a wall.

Posted by: Brue | March 27, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I hope that they keep Wil Nieves!! He was a great back-up catcher last year and has proven the same in spring training. He works well with the young pitchers and they trust him. He has the best attitude on the team too which goes a long way.

Posted by: ilovethenats | March 27, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Brue - "They didn't pay Bard all that money to cut him." The Nats won't have to pay him if he doesn't make the 25-man roster. They signed him to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training and Bard would earn $600,000 if he makes the 25-man roster.

Posted by: ilovethenats | March 27, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I'd feel more comfotrtable w. the Bard as the backup. I hope first that the backup, whoever he is, is going to play more than once a week. There's not many catchers who hold up well under the grind of catching 140 games a year--why put that pressure on a young, developing player like Flores, who does struggle against tough RHPs? The Bard as I recall is a cerebral type, should be able to handle pitchers well, and maybe most important, could supply some pop (well everything is relative) from the left side.

Posted by: CapPeterson | March 27, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Cap has hit on something. As I recall, it gets pretty hot and muggy in DC during the summer. Jesus fell off the cliff offensively second half of the year. I'll specualte that being physically worn down had something to do with it.

We ought to view the backup catcher as someone who can take more of a load off of Jesus so that he can maintain his effectiveness. Bard has been a starter 3 of his 6 years in the majors. He can take 2 or 3 starts a week and lessen the load on Jesus. Wil basically is enough of a liability offensively that no one will play him 50 games a year. My guess is Bard wins the backup job.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 27, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

>The Nats won't have to pay him if he doesn't make the 25-man roster. They signed him to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training and Bard would earn $600,000 if he makes the 25-man roster.

Ah, I see. They wouldn't have signed him or Valentin if they were happy with Nieves. He's just go too many holes. Being a nice guy isn't enough.

Posted by: Brue | March 27, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

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