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Who Is Brad Eldred?

Some of you have asked about Brad Eldred. I'll say this about him: He's large. Stands 6-foot-5, listed at 270 or 275, and that's not a Dmitri-like 270 or 275. This guy is solid. And he's turning a few heads simply because he has two homers in his past two games, both of them absolutely crushed -- one out to left to win Monday's game against the Astros, the other out to right-center against the Mets' John Maine on Tuesday.

"He's a big strong guy," Manager Manny Acta said. "When he puts good wood on the ball, there's no ballpark that's going to hold it."

Some background:

Eldred is 28, played at Florida International, and came up through the Pirates' system. He played parts of the 2005 and 2007 seasons with the major league Pirates, and in 2005 he had 12 homers in just 190 at-bats in the bigs. The problem: He struck out in 77 of those 190 at-bats, a staggering rate. In his brief major league tenure, he averages a strikeout per 2.5 at-bats.

Last year, he signed on with the Chicago White Sox and played for Class AAA Charlotte. There, he homered 35 times and drove in 100 runs in only 427 at-bats. But check out those strikeouts: 144 of them. Indeed, over a minor league career that began in 2002 and spans 610 games, Eldred averages a strikeout every 3.2 at-bats.

He is, though, having fun right now. "It's awesome," he said Tuesday after his three-run shot off Maine. "This is how you want it to go."

Though Acta has responded to questions about Eldred's future with the Nationals by saying, "You never know," you pretty much do know. He has almost no chance to make the major league team. The list of people who can play first that would be ahead of him include Nick Johnson, Dmitri Young, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Ronnie Belliard and perhaps even Matt Whitney.

"I can't worry about that," Eldred said. So he is not. These stories happen every spring training, some guy coming out of nowhere and making a splash. Remember that big kid from last spring, the first baseman who kept hitting homers? Name of Luis Jimenez. He went on to split the year between Class AA Harrisburg and Class AAA Columbus, homering 15 times. Perhaps a similar fate awaits Eldred.

Poll: I think the most interesting results have been for the last question, about what you all would like to see happen by the end of spring training. With more than 700 votes in, there appears to be nearly a dead heat between signing Zimmerman to a long-term extension and acquiring a reliever. How about both? That would be a nice start for the Mike Rizzo Era, such as it is.

Tomorrow: Nationals at Braves in Disney. I'm pretty sure it's Scott Olsen on the hill, but I am not 100 percent sure. First of three straight road games, so some of the regulars will have to make one or more of the trips. I'll talk to you from the land of Mickey Mouse. (May try and sneak out to see "Slumdog Millionaire" right now.)

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 11, 2009; 3:43 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: A Mid-Spring Journal Poll
Next: Nationals Sign RHP Kip Wells


Awesome. Thanks Barry. In the long run Eldred may not be a significant story, but love to hear about him and others like him during ST.

We'll get plenty of stories about the final 25 later anyway and the standard storylines can get old quick in ST (What's your opinion on the bullpen? How's Hill's arm?, for example), so getting side stories on people we don't know about make the reading a little richer.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 11, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Let's see -- career minor leaguer, crushes the ball but never makes it to the bigs. have you seen this movie?

Is very bad, drink Jobu's rum. Is *very* bad. (Are you in good hands?)

Posted by: Section406 | March 11, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Ahh, Jesus, I like him very much, but He no help with curveball." - Serrano.

Posted by: trezmartin | March 11, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

It's Danny Cabrera tomorrow.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | March 11, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Dave Johnson on WTOP kept referring to him as "Cal Eldred" this morning.

Posted by: arlingtontwb | March 11, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

For Zimmermann, I like Broken FotF, to go with FotF Classic, New FotF (Dunn), Future FotF (Dukes) . . .

Hendo on his blog speculated about a month ago that the #4 slot would pitch about 160 innings if it were skipped when the turn came up on an off day. That might be a reasonable bump up in innings, but it would be the outer limit. I'm OK with him starting in AAA for a month and a half, with controlled innings (4 -5 per start), to prolong his availability once he is called up.

Repost from 2 or 3 threads back, responding to estuartj:
"I tend to think Nick will bring more than a C level prospect. The money commitment is not great. There is also a school of thought that 100 - 120 games of outstanding play wins you more games than 150 games of average play. This is the argument for JD Drew (disregarding the contract).

"If Nick is healthy, he should have value to a contender / pretender needing a 1st baseman. For example, if LDO is out there, would Nick be an upgrade over Kendry Morales? Would a Morales / Johnson platoon put the LAA level of play ahead of Giambi & Nomar? The LAA have Sean Rodriguez, a 2d baseman with a decent track record in the minors (.279 / .371 / 483 over 6 seasons, last 2 at Salt Lake in the PCL - AAA .304 / .397 / ,645). I'd aim for him.

"Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 11, 2009 4:00 PM "

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 11, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Bump in innings for Broken FotF

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 11, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I saw this post by a fan at espn conversation, not sure who it is, but they make a great case;

"It was mostly the guys not on the roster this year(or at least no expected to be) that destroyed the teams offense last year. If you add up all the at bats given to Boone OPs .683, Bonifacio OPS .649, Lopez OPS .619, Orr OPS .589, lo Duca OPS .581, Mo Pena .509, Mackowiak OPS .462, J Estrada .370. The above names combined for 1276 at bats. That is more than 2 full time players worth of at bats without much hitting at all."

Imagine those 1276 at bats being replaced by Adam "The Dude" Dunn, Nick The Stick Johson and Josh "The Hammer" Willingham. Those 3 have career ops of .899, .852 and .833 respectively.

How many wins is that worth?

Posted by: estuartj | March 11, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

D Young and 275lbs have not been in the same room for two years Barry.

If we were to have a pool on it I would put $5 on 320lbs

Posted by: JayBeee | March 11, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

jca, the problem with your argument IMO is that what constitutes a healthy Nick Johnson for us and for a potential buyer are much different.

Right now he wouldn't get us Smiley Gonzalez in return, and if he's healthy come the trade deadline, do we want to give him up?

Posted by: estuartj | March 11, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

JayB, I believe that was the joke. Meat was actually listed as 275 at some point not that long ago and we all had a good laugh here.


D Young and 275lbs have not been in the same room for two years Barry.

Posted by: JayBeee | March 11, 2009 4:28 PM

Posted by: NatsNut | March 11, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, one more. Estuartj on the last thread pointed out how many at bats went to abominable hitters last year who no longer are on the roster.

Let's also not miss the huge defensive upgrade our infield will get with health. Even if you assume it will be Dunn instead of Nick at first, Dunn probably is no worse than Casto / Boone / Meat / Belli. If it is Nick, then you go from a range less hole manned mostly by midgets to a plus defender. If you assume that AH is the 2d base man, that would be another huge upgrade, and having FotF for a full season instead of 2 slices is another big improvement.

In the OF, Dunn vs Willie is a big defensive down grade, but otherwise, we should improve with experience and a low baseline (Milledge) in CF, and in RF, health (Kearns), and health and experience (Dukes).

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 11, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

It's not the Ks that keep Eldred from a big league career . . . its the lack of walks.

In 2008, he walked 28 times in 427 ABs. He career high in walks in a season was 2004 when he walked 41 times in 482 ab.

"When he gets good wood on it . . . " well major league pitchers can pretty much make sure you can't get good wood on it if you swing at anything near the strike zone.

Posted by: traderkirk | March 11, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Barry. NatsNut pretty much summed it up for me (thanks).

Posted by: PattyinSJ | March 11, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

It's sad that I miss the guys playing on a day off in Spring Training. I clearly have it bad. I am excited for Eldred having a good spring, but I guess the real thing to look forward to is the day that our minor leagues are packed enough that we shed Brad Eldreds for lesser teams to give a chance to.

However, for now, his is the kind of story Spring Training is all about. I admit that I also even wondered if Yurendell de Caster is still in our system. I think the answer is that he is not.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 11, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I played against Brad Eldred my freshman year in college. I am 6'4 and 265 and that man made me feel tiny. I was thinking 6'6" easily. He also hit the furthest ball I have ever seen with a metal bat, a line drive that was going up as it passed the 420 ft sign. I do remember that he had a huge leg kick and a long swing however which could lead to his strike outs.

Posted by: bigcountry22 | March 11, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I believe that de Caster is with the Tigers now, PHS (minor leagues).

Also, new post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 11, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Let's see -- career minor leaguer, crushes the ball but never makes it to the bigs. have you seen this movie?

Is very bad, drink Jobu's rum. Is *very* bad. (Are you in good hands?)

Posted by: Section406 | March 11, 2009 4:00 PM

I was thinking Crash Davis, but Jobu works, too.

Posted by: fischy | March 11, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Eldred is a very big guy with a very big hole in his swing. That's all anyone really needs to know.

Posted by: dfh123 | March 12, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

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