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Maxwell Demoted To Class AAA; Gonzalez Recalled

The Nationals today made a roster move that changes the look of their bench and thins their depth in the outfield until Elijah Dukes returns from his hamstring injury. In advance of tonight's game against the Phillies, the Nationals optioned OF Justin Maxwell to Class AAA Syracuse and recalled Syracuse SS Alberto Gonzalez.

Maxwell's second stint in the big leagues this year began on May 20, when Dukes was sent to the disabled list with a hamstring injury. But since then, Maxwell, who started five games with Washington, went 0-for-16 with 10 strikeouts. For now, the 25-year-old's defense remains way ahead of his hitting. He robbed a home run, most notably, in a May 23 game against Baltimore.

Gonzalez is back with the Nationals for the second time this year. He began the season on the 25-man roster, but was returned to Syracuse after committing six errors at shortstop in 98 innings (11 games) at the position. He was hitting .271 (13-for-46) at the time of his demotion, and with the Chiefs, the 26-year-old went 28-for-90 (.311).

By Chico Harlan  |  May 30, 2009; 1:22 PM ET
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I like Maxwell, but this time keeping him up here wasn't the move. He hadn't hit well enough in Syracuse to justify the move and he wasn't going to work on shortening his swing. They should look at guys like Langerhans with big league experience for the short term outfielder fill-in role.

At Maxwell's age, it's hard to think of him as a major outfield prospect at this point. Milledge's regression, Maxwell's struggles at the plate, and Bernardina's lack of pop suggest that the Nationals need to be in the market for some long term talent in the outfield.

Posted by: souldrummer | May 30, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

So, the Nats are sending down one of their prospects.

Meanwhile, the O's keep bringing up prospects who are getting the job done at the MLB level.

It can't be any more obvious which of the two area teams are actually pointed in the right direction.

Posted by: Os_Exec | May 30, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Os_Exec. It must be awesome to be you guys.

Posted by: soundbloke | May 30, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Os_Exec. It must be awesome to be you guys.

Posted by: soundbloke | May 30, 2009 1:49 PM |

Someone sounds a little bitter.

How'd Daniel Cabrera and the rest of the O's cast-offs work out so far? Alex Cintron and Freddy "Boom-Boom" Bynum tearing it up?

Posted by: Os_Exec | May 30, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Are you also posting about how clever you are on Sox boards? How about the Yankees? No? Jays? Hmm. At least you can still gloat over the Rays. Oh wait.

Posted by: soundbloke | May 30, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Another SS/IF. Any trade rumors out there? Could a trade be in the works? Johnson's name has been in the rumors lately but maybe it's Guzman.

Posted by: derwink | May 30, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

O's Exec - Your franchise has proved with Angelos at the top that the best you will do is fight each year for 3rd place. Big deal.

Very happy for the individual players as Adam Jones, Wieters, Markakis are a good young core and maybe even Reimold will be the real deal but your problem is your starting rotation is way behind the AL East so good luck with that.

This site is for Nats fans so stick a Polish sausage in your mouth and find the Baltimore Sun!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | May 30, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

So its Harris in center? Is Kearns the backup?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 30, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they will deal for Pie. Not the player, just something baked. Fully baked, not like a JimBo trade.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 30, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Harris in CF until Dukes comes back.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | May 30, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I imagine that they're giving Guzzie a couple of days off since his bat has cooled off and his defense is pretty horrendous. Hopefully AG got over his mental mistakes and he'll limit the errors.

I'm a big fan of AG. When he first came up last season he seemed so smooth and natural at SS. I'm thinking he can get back to that form. You don't just wake up one day and suck all of a sudden. He's got a decent bat, but he needs to be more consistent.

I guess what I'm trying to say is....if we trade Guzzie, I won't lose any sleep. As long as we get a couple of decent prospects.

Posted by: FloresFan | May 30, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm with adding Langerhans to the roster. don't know who'd be dropped at this point, but LAngerhans worked well with Eckstein in the minors last year and knows how to work the count and draw walks.

I'll ignore his SLG and BA if his OBP is OK and his UZR is positive.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 30, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Gotta agree with Os exec here. The Orioles kept Wieters down in the minors just to save an arbitration year and kept the all star catcher Chad Moeller, who was unable to crack the 2008 Nats lineup in Spring Training. Meanwhile, the much sought after prospect Felix Pie hits on the interstate and Nick Markakis attempts to find some personality. Meanwhile, the Nats promoted JZimm in April based on performance, notwithstanding arbitration rights, extended Ryan Zimmerman's contract, and are about to draft the most sought after pitching prospect in recent years. No wonder O's exec is gloating.

Posted by: raymitten | May 30, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Someone suggested Nick for Chris Davis in one of the back threads. Davis long term is either their DH or 1st baseman. Blalock is most likely gone after this year, so Smoak is not blocked. They certainly have enough offense to carry any adjustments Davis is going through, and he is still hitting home runs.

I still think that if Nick is traded, it either has to be for 2 A ball / rookie level prospects plus a lower upside, major league ready AA/AAA middle reliever or a youngish, preferably established, major league MR who could close. Delcarmen, Parnell, maybe Jensen Lewis or Jesse Crain, Santiago Casilla, maybe Shawn Kelley. If it were Texas, I'd think about CJ Wilson. Some of those deals I'd also try to get a CF or 2B prospect who shows plate discipline, something the organization lacks as far as I know.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 30, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Put Kearns in center. He is the best defensive OF on the team.

Posted by: raymitten | May 30, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Raymitten - Os Exec has every reason to gloat over that outfield. They handled Wieters precisely right. The Nats really are not gaining much from rushing Zimmmermann and Detwiler before they had a chance to dominate in AAA. Yes, it kind of goes against LAC, but it MacPhail runs circles around Kasten/ Rizzo / JimBo. Their handling of Tillman is better for his long term development than our handling of Zimmermann and Detwiler. There simply is no comparison of pitching prospect depth in these organizations.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 30, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Guz has gone straight downhill since he broke his walkless streak against Pittsburgh on May 18. He was hitting .392 at that point, and he's hit .136 since.

I think this is kind of similar to when a weak hitting infielder hits a home run, and starts swinging for the fences every at bat afterwards -- obviously, Guz let that walk go to his head, and he's being way too selective now.

Eckstein needs to tell him to go up there and swing at the first pitch no matter what (used to be, you didn't have to tell him, he just did it naturally).

He needs to unleash his inner Dominican and go back to hacking.

Posted by: joebleux | May 30, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse


I suggested the NJ/Davis trade earlier. I hear what you are saying, but if Texas were game, would you do it? I don't think you get that many prospects for NJ, but I would be happy to be wrong.


Posted by: Willy2 | May 30, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I hate to say this (I've had a string of "I hate to say this" posts), but the Nats offense was probably due for a correction. Several of the hitters have had unusually high batting averages for balls in play (or BABIP). BABIP excludes home runs and thus is a measure of "hits dropping in." BABIP tends to even out for players over their careers, with deviations when their mix of flies, liners, and groundballs change. Hitters do not gain a big spike in BABIP over the long term due to grounders going through more, for example.

Guz, Nick, FotF, Jesus, and ED all had big spikes in BABIP. Guz's best 2 full seasons were .343 (2001) and .337 (2008). To date, he's .377. Nick was considered the most snake bit hitter in baseball last year in April in light of the good contact he was making and his .241 BABIP. His career norm is .312. This year, his BABIP is .387. Can anyone say sell high? For the other 3, it may be tougher to say what is the career norm due to the shortenss of their careers so far, but they are all far above league average of .297.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 30, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

If Texas were to agree, I'm certain the Nats would. Texas would likely insist on more. Frankly, Lannan may be of more interest to them because of his groundball tendencies. I don't think they'd do it for Lannan, either.

Davis's downside is that he still may strike out too much, but he hit 17 HRs last year in only 317 ABs. Teams just do not give up on guys like that who have options, even if they have a cold April and May.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 30, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

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