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The Minor League Report Returns

When we spoke yesterday, Nats PR man Bill Gluvna admitted that this week's minor league report didn't exactly have the best puns. But hey, that's understandable. It's like movie releases with respect to the Academy Awards. Sometimes, it's all about timing. Anyway, Gluvna -- who authors the report every week -- will be under a lot of pressure to maintain last year's absurdly high level of linguistic playfulness, especially with the Zimm Reaper now up in the big leagues.

But hey, at least he's still got Luke Montzster.

OK...

NATIONALS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

This Week's Top Headline

FEAR HIM! : SS Danny Espinosa ranks among Carolina League leaders in nearly every offensive category, including doubles (2nd, 7), walks (2nd, 13), stolen bases (t-2nd, 5), OBP (t-3rd, .519), runs (t-4th, 10), OPS (6th, 1.031) and batting average (9th, .333)...the 21-year-old has reached base safely via hit or walk in 12 of 13 games this season...Espinosa entered the season as the Best Defensive Infielder among Nationals prospects according to Baseball America ...he was selected in the 3rd round of the 2008 Draft out of Long Beach State University.

Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs
International League North Division
6-5, 3rd Place , 4.5 Games Back

STAMMEN'S JAMMIN': RHP Craig Stammen allowed one run and just 3 hits in 6.0 strong innings to earn his first win of the season, Saturday vs. Buffalo (Mets)...the 25-year-old is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 2 starts this season...Stammen, who is scheduled to make his next start on Friday at Buffalo, was selected in the 12th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

SETH'S SIZZLIN': SS Seth Bynum has homered in each of his last 3 games, and leads Washington farmhands with 4 home runs...last season, he finished 3rd among Washington minor leaguers with a professional-best 21 home runs...in 2009 thus far, Bynum is hitting a combined .333 with one double, one triple, 4 homers, 8 RBI and 6 runs scored thru 10 games with Double-A Harrisburg and Syracuse...he signed with the Nationals as a non-drafted free agent out of Indiana University in May 2004.

SURF'S UP: Last night vs. Lehigh Valley (Phillies), RHP Collin Balester fired 6.0 innings of one-run ball, but was rendered a no-decision...he struck out 6 and did not walk a batter...Balester, 22, made 15 starts at the big league level last season with Washington.

Double-A Harrisburg Senators
Eastern League Southern Division
2-9, T-5th Place , 7.5 Games Back

THE ZACK ATTACK: In 4 appearances, RHP Zack Segovia has allowed just one earned run in 9.1 innings (0.96 ERA)...he's fanned 8 and has not issued a walk... Segovia , 26, signed with Washington as minor-league free agent, June 18, 2008.

ZECHMATE: RHP Zech Zinicola has not allowed an earned run in 4 appearances (4.1 innings)...Zinicola, selected in the 6th round of the 2006 Draft, owns a .176 (3-for-17) batting average against...the Arizona State University product was tabbed as Washington's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2006.

Single-A Potomac Nationals
Carolina League Northern Division
7-6, 3rd Place , 1.5 Games Back

MARRERO'S MASHING: 1B Chris Marrero has hit safely in 10 of his first 13 games, batting at a .320 clip with 5 doubles, 2 home runs, 11 RBI and a .904 OPS...the 20-year-old ranks among CL leaders in doubles (3rd), RBI (t-4th), total bases (5th, 24) and slugging (5th, .596)...Marrero entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect -the top hitter- in Washington's system...he was the Nationals' top selection (15th overall) in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

TOMMY BOY: LHP Tom Milone , 22, is 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA (1 ER/11.1 IP) in 2 starts with the P-Nats...he owns a 5.5/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (11 K/2 BB)... Milone, a 10th-round pick in the '08 Draft out of the University of Southern California, is scheduled to toe the rubber tonight vs. Winston-Salem (White Sox).

Single-A Hagerstown Suns
South Atlantic League Northern Division
5-6, 6th Place , 3.0 Games Back

DEREK IS DANGEROUS: C Derek Norris is tied for first in the South Atlantic League with a team-best 3 home runs...the 20-year-old is hitting .300 with 3 doubles, 8 RBI, 7 walks and a .600 slugging percentage in 11 games...per Baseball America , he entered the season rated as the No. 6 prospect and top overall catching prospect in Washington's system...Norris was selected in the 4th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Goddard (KS) High School.

SHOWING HIS FEATHERS: RHP Brad Peacock owns a 1.08 ERA (2 ER/16.2 IP) in 3 starts, but has yet to receive a win...he has fanned 14 and walked only one...last night at Delmarva (Orioles), Peacock allowed one unearned run and 4 hits in 5.2 innings...Peacock, 21, was a 41st-round selection in the 2006 Draft.

By Chico Harlan  |  April 23, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
 
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Comments

Oh man, Bill "Gold" Gluvna is back!

If this can't salve the wound of a walk-off walk, nothing can!

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 23, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Can someone explain to me what "hit safely" means - what would an unsafe hit be (other than the bat shattering)?

Posted by: Traveler8 | April 23, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

One very notable omission from this blue-skies report: Thrilledge.

Hope you're enjoying those late-night bus rides, chump.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 23, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I love these updates. They are so corny that it is worth posting a shameless press release. Three cheers for the Gluvna!

CiL, I didn't intend for the 2007 comparison to be for optimism, though I can see why some would find it optimistic. I meant for it as a season start that's roughly comparable to this one.

Top 10 SO, in order

Flores, 16
Dukes, 13
Zimm, 13
Dunn, 11
Milledge, 10 (but in only 7 games, not 13 or 14)
Johnson, 10
Kearns, 8
Hernandez, 7 (7 games)
Guzman, 6 (7 games)
Belliard, 5 (8 games)
Willingham, 5 (10 games)

Posted by: Section506 | April 23, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"Can someone explain to me what "hit safely" means"

My uneducated guess is that it's the phrase from which the baseball term "hit" was derived. "hit safely" as opposed to, say, "hit into a double play".

Posted by: joebleux | April 23, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Can someone explain to me what "hit safely" means - what would an unsafe hit be (other than the bat shattering)?

----

had a least a one single, double, double, triple or Home Run. i.e 1 for something in a game

Posted by: kgwcoach | April 23, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I will feel much better about Chris Marrero when he has numbers like that in AA or AAA.

The Nats have a big hole at 1st base next year as Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young are both Free Agents unless they move Adam Dunn to 1st base then there will be a huge hole in the 2011 season.

Let's hope Rizzo has a plan for 1st base.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 23, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

"Can someone explain to me what "hit safely" means"

"Hit safely" is when Julian Tavarez has a successful transaction with J-Lo at closing time. As opposed to what you call it when he has a successful transaction with a 600-lb woman at closing time. That particular expression is NSFW.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 23, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

"The Nats have a big hole at 1st base next year as Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young are both Free Agents unless they move Adam Dunn to 1st base then there will be a huge hole in the 2011 season."

Or unless they lock up Johnson for additional years at some point during this season. Assuming he makes it through the All Star break healthy, I wouldn't put it past them to do that.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 23, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

JiM, I'm nitpicking here but it wasn't quite a walk-off-walk because the Braves weren't the home team.

I know, it doesn't make it any less painful, but there it is.


Posted by: NatsNut | April 23, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Understood, 506. I think one question that merits consideration is why Manny's teams have started each of his 3 seasons so horribly--in '07 and '08, even worse than their full-season suckitude. Poor discipline and fundamentals right off the bat. At least this year, we haven't gotten as much of the "it's still early" nonsense from Manny that we got the last 2 seasons. I think either Rizzo or Kasten must have knocked him upside the head after his idiotic "we won't go oh-for-April" remark.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 23, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Now that most of you have happily drummed Lastings out of town can we give it a rest you know the kid is suffering right now,yeah I know he brought it on himself but, as my dad use to say "a hard head makes a soft azz".... the better to ride the bus with!!

Posted by: dargregmag | April 23, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

"Or unless they lock up Johnson for additional years at some point during this season. Assuming he makes it through the All Star break healthy, I wouldn't put it past them to do that."

Or unless Jimbo promised Dimitri a lucrative extension via handshake and no one knows about it yet...

Posted by: dclifer | April 23, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Nick Johnson's expiring contract...

There is no one else in the Nats' system that is capable of taking over first base at anywhere close to the level that Nick plays at. If he makes it even half way through the season please sign him. Nick may be the most under-appreciated player on the team in regards to the fans. However, I would bet that the other infielders would just love to have him back. Zimmerman will never ever get a Gold Glove award unless Nick is fielding his throws at first base.

Posted by: driley | April 23, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, as a season ticket holder, I am going to be painfully reminded of Lastings every time I see his mug pictured on one of my tickets. For some reason he is featured on tickets for far more games than any other Nats player--at least 5 games.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 23, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Let's hope Rizzo's plan for 1st Base is to re-sign Nick Johnson. Based on Rizzo's work so far -- the Shawn Hill debacle -- I'm not especially optimistic on that front. Nicky is exactly what the Nats need. He makes a shaky infield decent. How many errors has he prevented already this season -- errant throws he's corralled? Plus, he's a really good hitter. Maybe, he doesn't have the power you'd love to have at that position, but we can wait a few years until Marrero is ready.

I look forward to a double-play combination in a couple of years with rookies Espinosa and Bynum getting it over to Johnson.

As for the others -- I'm hoping Zinicola lands in the Nats' bullpen later this year. Stammen should deserve a look for the rotation next year.

Thanks for the report.

Posted by: fischy | April 23, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Nick is a perfect fit for Oakland, for many reasons, including off-field ones. Plus, he wants to win (which may not be a reason for signing with the A's, but certainly isn't a reason for him to re-sign here). I can't see him re-signing with the Nats unless he has no other options. And if he makes it through this year healthy, it's a good bet that he will have suitors.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 23, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Shawn Hill debacle? Isn't it a little early to make that proclamation? He's averaging only 5 innings a start and it's a good bet he doesn't make it to the All Star break before he winds up back on the DL. Very talented guy but not worth waiting for. I think time will vindicate Rizzo on this one.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 23, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

The team should trade Nick Johnson if anyone is willing to take him. Willingham can play first this year and next year if Dunn is a diaster.

If NJ isn't traded, or in a body cast, we should try to sign him to nothing more than a one year deal. If he wants more, let him walk and hope he gets tagged as a type B free agent.

Nick Johnson has played in 51 games since the 2006 season. He's on the wrong side of 30. Let him walk.

Maybe Matt Holliday could pick up NJ's slack. He's having a down year and its a recession. Maybe we could get him in a Dunn type situation.

Posted by: BillyBeane | April 23, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I agree on Hill....I am not one to defend the front office too often but time will show that Martis or Olson both will last all season and both will be better than average.....Hill....DL by May 15.

Posted by: JayBeee | April 23, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

" I think one question that merits consideration is why Manny's teams have started each of his 3 seasons so horribly--in '07 and '08, even worse than their full-season suckitude. "

Frank's 2006 team started 5-9, even worse than its full season suckitude. Also, Frank's 2006 team - which was a reprise of the 2005 team everyone loved so much with an extra helping of Soriano - still started only 5-9, which is only slightly better than Manny's worst team. Why was that? You would think he could have built off a successful previous year with very few changes to his team to produce a hot start. Yet he didn't. Manny on the other hand has every year basically had to run tryouts during spring training to determine the makeup of large portions of his team. Even into the early part of the season the tryouts have continued. A team of 25 men, if it coalesced at all, didn't happen until well into each season. The result of that is seen in things like lack of fundamentals, lack of teamwork, and ultimately losses. But is all this Manny's fault? I wouldn't say so. He's not the one who gathered the mismatched set of hodge-podge parts that every year needed to be put together into a team. He's just the one who was forced to do it, for better or worse.

Similarly, I don't get all the "Rizzo is finally cracking down on Manny" attitude that's going around this year. Two things happened independently of each other that people insist on linking together - namely the replacement of Bowden with Rizzo, and Manny changing his approach - but I don't see them linked at all. This year there has been a huge improvement in the quality of the mismatched parts Manny was given to work with, which one would have to think would merit a change in Manny's approach to them - and which I'm sure Manny figured out all by himself. Whereas in the past he was forced to baby his fragile parts because if they broke there was nothing he could put in behind them, this year he can afford to be tough and indeed is being tough with his guys because for the first time he can truthfully tell them that if they don't do the job he'll bring in someone else who can. And so that's what he's doing. And he'd be doing it whether Bowden was still here or not.

This is why you really have to look beneath the admittedly poor starts each year to see what's behind them. Sometimes things that look the same on the outside are radically different when you take a deep look inside them.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 23, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the comments on "hit safely". It seems to me that "hit safely" becomes redundant if it simply means, "got a hit", so the tie-in to not hitting into a double play, or more likely, a fielder's choice, makes some sense.
Since Julian Tavarez is an adult, I have no comment on his conduct in his own time.

Posted by: Traveler8 | April 23, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm the President of the Nick Johnson fan club and would love to see him at first for years to come. However, if he stays healthy for the first half of the year and doesn't re-ink an extension by July, then he's gone at the trade deadline for a pitcher. Too many teams will have some interest and the future is too murky (would he sign here in the off season and will he be healthy in 2010 and 2011).

Posted by: macman3 | April 23, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

One year of Dunn at first, or perhaps Willingham if he's willing, is an adequate transition to Marrero in 2011, assuming Marrero is ready. If you do sign Nick this summer, then Marrero has to be traded. He'd be blocked. That's bass-ackwards, I/M/O.

I have never stopped being in Nick's corner, and as wrong as I was about Milledge being a leadoff hitter, I'll take the JayBee credit about insisting Nick should be #2 in this line up. Nevertheless, he should be able to yield in trade more than what a sandwich Type B compensation pick would yield. If the front office believes he will be a Type B, and they can't get a better offer, then offer him arbtration and be happy either way.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 23, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"Unfortunately, as a season ticket holder, I am going to be painfully reminded of Lastings every time I see his mug pictured on one of my tickets. For some reason he is featured on tickets for far more games than any other Nats player--at least 5 games."

It's pretty clear that the entire organization was banking on Milledge having a breakout year this season. In addition to his picture on the tickets, he is one of four players pictured on the front of the media guide, and I think I remember hearing that early on in the team store they had lots of Milledge jerseys and shirts and even Milledge bobbleheads for sale. (Although of course now there are none. Only Flores and Zimmerman.)

It's because of this that I find ludicrous all the comments that claim Manny Acta was holding on to Milledge for dear life and bucking everyone else in the organization to do it, until they finally knocked some sense into him. Manny (and probably Bowden/Rizzo) surely have no little or no input into the yearly promotions juggernaut, yet there it is. Milledge all over the place. With all that, it's more likely that Manny was being forced by the organization to give Milledge a long look than it is the other way around. Ultimately, though, it's Milledge who ended up blowing his chance.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 23, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

On a sidenote: We went to opening game in Florida. And one really great thing they have at that stadium (even if no one shows up) is a giant scoreboard (equal to the one the Nats have in center) behind third base as well as in the outfield.

That way the people sitting in the outfield can see the same stuff.
I remember how disappointed I was last season when I sat behind the RF bullpen and we couldn't see any scoreboard and get any info.

So that's something folks in charge should think about.
If your puttin seats in the outfield, put in a big infield scoreboard. It's really great.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 23, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Willingham is not a first baseman. And, from the fact that they shift Dunn to right rather than move Josh out of his comfort zone in left, I would guess he's not particularly adaptable to new positions in general.

Posted by: joebleux | April 23, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Nick Johnson's . . . on the wrong side of 30. Let him walk.
Posted by: BillyBeane |

Hmmm, Nick IS 30. Is 30 the wrong side of 30?

Posted by: VladiHondo | April 23, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I bet those two giant scoreboards in Florida are there because that's the Dolphins football stadium, not because of the Marlins.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 23, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"It's pretty clear that the entire organization was banking on Milledge having a breakout year this season. In addition to his picture on the tickets, he is one of four players pictured on the front of the media guide, and I think I remember hearing that early on in the team store they had lots of Milledge jerseys and shirts and even Milledge bobbleheads for sale."

And yet after just 7 games he was sent down, where he is neither (a) batting leadoff, nor (b) playing center field. I don't have a problem with them sending him down, I think it was the right move. But the other stuff I don't get--unless they have now given up on him completely and are showcasing him in Syracuse in the spots where he does "best" (left field and middle of the order) in order to get the best trade possible for him.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 23, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

nunof1 I REALLY liked your comments.

Manny's approach the first two years was more like a minor league manager, because that was the task given to him. "Try to make a respectable showing with prospects and retreads while the farm system gets rebuilt".

This year the talent is there to grow into a decent major league team and there are enough replacements in the pipe line to manage the team like a major league team.

Because it isn't yet a cohesive veteran team he makes moves that appear to the fan as idiotic, but he has to establish roles for all 25 players on the team and live with the mistakes some of the younger ones make as they learn and grow into their roles. He could have done a couple of things that might of helped us eck out 1 or 2 more wins now. But not growing the players would cost us 5 -10 wins down the road.

Posted by: kgwcoach | April 23, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"But the other stuff I don't get"

What other stuff don't you get? All the Milledge promotional hype? I think it's pretty clear that they took an organizational gamble there and lost. They no doubt have a long lead time for all that stuff, and had to pick players to feature this year. They thought Milledge was a good bet, and now they're stuck with his face all over the place. Kind of like what happened to MASN a couple years ago when they had all those commercials featuring John Patterson and "What do you say to THAT, Albert Pujols?" running for the entire season even though Patterson was history.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 23, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

From a strictly fielding standpoint, if NJ were traded or hurt (I know -- there's no chance of that), I'd rather see Belly playing first than Dunn or Willingham. But surely management would realize another option is needed (or would the Nats play it like was done '05, going the last month and half with just 3 starting pitcher)

Posted by: nats24 | April 23, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Lacking, I agree that Manny is raising his level of expectation with the players. They're building a franchise here and his approach is increasingly more demanding as the organization matures. I think folks blogging here -- devoted fans, all of them -- really need to get off Manny. The guy's a pretty good manager, a strong baseball man. He has this team in position to win every night it seems... but he doesn't swing a bat, throw a pitch, or field a position. These guys have to take that last big step where they make that critical play. He's placed them all in a position to succeed -- now it's up to them.

As for his choices defensively or out of the bullpen, that's got to fall largely on Bowden/Rizzo, and Kasten. Manny can only manage the talent (or lack thereof) at his disposal. If the bench players or last man out of the 'pen aren't good enough to do the job, that's an organizational problem, not a Manny problem. I'm not saying Manny's right every time -- no manager is -- but he plays the hand he's been dealt as well as anyone could.

Last night's loss was classic: We can slam Hinckley til the cows come home but no baseball team in the long history of the game ever won with ZERO runs on the board. Jurrjens was superb last night but there were ample opportunities to plate a run. The players, not their manager, failed to execute. Not to let him off the hook because he failed utterly to do his job, but even if Hinckley got out of that jam the Nats still wouldn't have won the game.

I think this team has tremendous potential... they play tough every night and they're in every ball game. They have big holes on the roster and weaknesses that hurt them. The manager isn't one of them.

As for Milledge, I don't think they're giving up. He's a superb athlete but not yet a baseball player. And his immaturity complicates the learning process... he doesn't recognize that hitting and throwing and catching aren't all that make up a baseball player. He doesn't understand that showing up at a certain time and adhering to certain time-honored traditions are all part of what a baseball player is. When he embraces the full spectrum of skills and traits that a ball player possesses, instead of picking and choosing the ones who prefers like he's in a buffet line, he'll develop into a really extraordinary player.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 23, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I bet those two giant scoreboards in Florida are there because that's the Dolphins football stadium, not because of the Marlins.
Posted by: nunof1

Probably right since there aren't many fans in the outfield seats let alone the entire stadium. But either way, it's a great thing and equalizes the enjoyment for everyone.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 23, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

As far as Milledge, that entire affair was a joke. And that's on Acta. That's what spring training is for. Milledge didn't do anything differently the first 7 games than he did all spring training. It was obvious he wasn't right for leading off. But where most teams get the hint during the preseason and make their adjustments, somehow the Nats missed all the signs and decided to turn the regular season into an extended spring. That's the main problem. This stuff shoulda been handled in March.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 23, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

nunof...CiL meant that he didn't understand why Milledge would be playing a position other than center, and hitting in a slot other than leadoff, if he was the heir apparent to both spots on the big team. I think, also, that probably indicates that they have decided he is a corner outfielder and will hit somewhere other than leadoff.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | April 23, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"What other stuff don't you get? All the Milledge promotional hype?"

No. Read the rest of what I wrote. What I don't get is why they now aren't having him work in Syracuse on playing center and batting leadoff--unless, as I stated, they have given up on him completely and are showcasing him for an eventual trade.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 23, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

They haven't given up on Milledge "completely. However, I hope they have "completely" given up on the idea of Milledge as a center fielder. Not everyone can judge balls in center field -- very hard to do. Milledge can't do it. Now, he needs to learn how to be corner outfielder. Leadoff hitter? Who knows?

Posted by: fischy | April 23, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Milledge does not have the arm to be a right fielder. Left is a logjam for the Nats with Dunn and Willingham. Maybe the Nats do have something in mind for Milledge long-term in left, but it seems unlikely to me given Milledge's age and the pieces the Nats have already.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 23, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I think that the "other stuff" that CiL is talking about (with regards to Milledge in AAA), is that after the Nats pronounced him the CF in spring training and put him in the leadoff spot of the order - he is doing neither in Syracuse. Lastings has batted 3rd and played Left Field in the last 3 Syracuse games.

As for guys complaining about the pictures on the tickets, that sounds like complaining for the sake of complaining.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 23, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Willingham is not a first baseman. And, from the fact that they shift Dunn to right rather than move Josh out of his comfort zone in left, I would guess he's not particularly adaptable to new positions in general.

Posted by: joebleux | April 23, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

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

Wait a minute - Willingham came to the majors as a catcher. I think he could figure out 1B (he played 1B in 2 games for the Marlins). The unwillingness to put him RF may be the quality of his throwing arm (?).

Posted by: combedge | April 23, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone was complaining about Milledge's pic being on a lot of the tickets. I raised it initially because I think it's funny, maybe my sarcasm was a bit too subtle.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 23, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

"Absurdly high level of linguistic playfulness?" Wow. I had no idea Chico's standards were that low.

Posted by: Wooden_U_Lykteneau | April 23, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Well, if he's using our comments as a basis for comparison...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 23, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Milledge leading off and playing center was the long term plan. Milledge has always been projected as a corner outfield, middle of the order 30-30 type. But the FO left Manny with no legitimate CF or leadoff man. I believe they hoped batting leadoff -- for now, until a real leadoff man is acquired/developed -- would force him to be more patient at the plate and work on pitch recognition. I mean, this team is clearly a work in progress so why not let him learn plate discipline at the MLB level? But Milledge was having none of it.. he was bound and determined to do things his way. No plate discipline. Not taking pitches to help his teammates out and force the opposing pitcher to show his stuff early. Not worried about OBP.

As for playing CF, Bowden/Rizo gave Manny 5 corner outfielders this year. 6 if you count Wily Mo. Dukes is clearly a better option but the team gave up 2 players to get Milledge (wouldn't they LOVE to have Church back, playing CF?). Thus Milledge was given the chance to prove himself there.

If he'd shown even a shred of commitment to the team and a hint of professionalism he'd still be here.

Instead he's in the minors. Where he belongs.

On a side note, I'm very impressed with Dukes. It's possible he's got his head on straight now. What a talented kid... if he stays on the straight and narrow he'll go far.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 23, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

We have our CF for the present and future, and it's Great Falls LL Man of the Year, Elijah Dukes. Thank god the FO big-footed Manny on this one, and shipped Thrilledge out so that Dukes can get a chance at 30-30 as well as making more sliding catches in two weeks than Thrilledge made in his career.

One tiny nit-pick from a recent post:
Somebody wrote MASN kept running house ads featuring Patterson all season "even though Patterson was history."

No, the current NJ style, of course, is that Patterson wasn't history. He was Pattersoned.

And, folks, don't go Fed-Exing that Cy Young trophy to Shawn Hill quite yet. He's had two five-inning starts, obviously is being babied, and I'm all but certain has a few frequent flyer miles left to visit Dr. Andrews in Alabama.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 23, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty clear that they have decided that Milledge is not the centerfielder or leadoff hitter of the future. They gave him enough of a shot at both of those roles, and he played himsef out of both of them, despite coaching from new guys (Grissom, Eckstein) this year. I have no problem with them extending his tryout seven games into the season. Many people have said all along in respect to others that soring training stats don't count - and in many senses that's true. If you really want to see if a player can do the job in the games that count, you have to let him play in a few games that count. They did that with Milledge, and he failed the test. Now it's salvage time. He's not completely worthless after all, like say Nook Logan was.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 23, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"No, the current NJ style, of course, is that Patterson wasn't history. He was Pattersoned."

Actually, at that point he hadn't been Pattersoned yet. That came later. He was just history as far as that season went, off getting treatments from Canadian quacks in hyperbaric chambers.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 23, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, Nick IS 30. Is 30 the wrong side of 30?

Posted by: VladiHondo |

I know he is 30. The second he turned 30 last september he was on the wrong side of 30, just to clarify. He'll be 31 as a free agent, which makes him on the wrong side no matter how technical you want to get.

My main point was paying someone injury prone like Nick Johnson into his 30's is irresponsible for the team that has the worst record in Major League Baseball.

Posted by: BillyBeane | April 23, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Here's what I don't get about Milledge and the Nats. They declared him the CF and ladoff batter late in Spring Training. And then abondoned the approach 7 games in.

I know ST stats are next to worthless. And a 7 game tryout at the start of the season, isn't long enough either.

Which says to me... that they saw enough of his bad approach at the plate and his shortcomings in CF (defensively) during ST, but didn't like their other options and gave him the chance to fail at the MLB level.

Now, 7 games is not a long tryout if you want to look at stats, but if a guy is not following the "approach" and is striking out too much, not walking enough and not taking pitches and playing the role of leadoff hitter, than maybe 7 games is plenty long.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 23, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I think the demotion after 7 games had more to do with Milledge's attitude and lack of commitment. Had he been busting his tail to improve in CF, if he'd been trying to work the count, scratching and clawing to get on base... he'd still be here. Even if he wasn't doing it well. But when you're performing poorly AND not following direction... down to the bus leagues you go.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 23, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Pick away, NatsNut. It's a fair point. Thanks for the clarification.

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JiM, I'm nitpicking here but it wasn't quite a walk-off-walk because the Braves weren't the home team.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 23, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

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