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A Few Pre-Game Notes

Good afternoon from PNC Park, where in several hours Craig Stammen (3-5, 4.46) will oppose Virgil Vasquez (1-5, 6.21), and where several hours thereafter -- right after the game -- both will be replaced by Jo Dee Messina. If you're wondering why we'll see a big crowd at the yard tonight, it's because of Messina, who will perform a concert after the game. If you're looking for abundantly meaningless statistics, Washington is already 0-1 in games followed by concerts. On June 13, the Nats lost at Tampa, 5-3, an occasion that preceded 55 minutes of Ludacris music.

A few other notes...

* In the top of the eighth on Friday, Adam Dunn singled and was replaced by a pinch-runner, Austin Kearns. In the bottom of that inning, Kearns went to right field and Josh Willingham, for the first time all year, played first base. Just take note, because with Nick Johnson gone, we might see this more often now. Prior to Friday, Willingham had played exactly three innings at first base, not appearing there since 2006.

* With Johnson's departure, only three current Nats were a part of the 2005 team, the first after the move to Washington. Cristian Guzman signed with the team as a free agent in November 2004. Ryan Zimmerman cameo'd in the big leagues late that year after being drafted in June 2005. Then there's Jason Bergmann, who debuted in the big leagues on Aug. 28, 2005. Given that Bergmann was drafted in 2002, he has, by far, the longest tenure with the organization.

By Chico Harlan  |  August 1, 2009; 3:14 PM ET
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Next: Lineups From PNC Park


Was it just me, or did the team seem a little soul-less last night? Altho' I was all in favor of trading Nick, he was the last Expo-Nat, and thus a bit of a historical figure that has been lost.I am sure there was a sad emptyness in the clubhouse last night, because there sure was in my (club)house.
And Dukes will do less than zero on filling that void.

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | August 1, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Yes, and adding Dukes back into the mix? I'm just not so sure that was a good idea. EXCEPT, everyone acts like this is the last trade for awhile and Rizzo didn't do enough. He appears to be setting things up to make more deals perhaps before September. He isn't done yet ... the farms are still depleted ... pitching has improved but there really is a dearth of position players in 'A" and "AAA". Perhaps the hope was the Kobernus would leap up fast as Storen and Holder have. Perhaps without the injury he may have. Now, with the injury he can't be considered a "shiny new" prospect.

Rizzo has a lot of work to do to replenish a depleted franchise. Its not going to happen overnight Loverro. Its going to take time. So far his moves have been quite canny!

And everyone is on display for a potential trade, including Dukes and Sosa.

Posted by: periculum | August 1, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I don't have a problem with Loverro being critical about the team, if that's what he believes. But his column today was incoherent and amateurish. In fact, amateurish might be an undeserved compliment in this context, seeing as how there are amateur Nats bloggers who write better than he does--or did, at least in this column.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | August 1, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I like what Rizzo did at the deadline and his approach in general as well.

None of the three pitchers impress particularly, but there seems a fair chance that at least one will pitch at the major league level?

Tommy John can be overcome. Who knows in Matheus' case?

Fabian (Kookie, Kookie) is kind of interesting at his 150 lbs. Raw and skinny, his BB/9 from Rookie to Short Season to A: 5.2, 3.0, 2.8, 2.3. He gives up a lot of hits. Someone feed him, bulk him up and let's see a season at Harrisburg. If he gets rocked there at 175 lbs., then we know.

And in the case of Thompson, the Fish did not get their way, and we dodged the Ryan Tucker bullet. That's something to relish.

Rizzo: Keep the character guys (Nick may be back and Elijah is the exception that proves), grow the arms, buy the bats later.

We'll trade some of our stockpile of arms at some point for some decent position guys.

Norris, Storen, and Hood.

Norris: "Coming into the season, Norris was a disciplined hitter, but the Nationals wanted him to be more aggressive with two strikes. Now Norris is unleashing an aggressive assault ..."

Storen: great attitude, great attitude, great attitude, K/BB was infinity til yesterday? McGeary, Stanford, Brodie, Zim connection.

Hood: he caught 85 balls for the Tide; if he is our WR, Dukes is our LB. Both incredible athletes, and Elijah will be just fine. Thuggy, thugee, but upside to the moon. Stop ragging on him. At least one of the b....s set him up. I know, I know, there were/are half a dozen of them. Nobody's perfect. He's a rocket-armed RF, with 35, 120 in his future. And ours. He completes our current Negligent Homicider's Row.

Let's try Willingham and Dunn at 1B until the end of the season. Give them both a lot of starts there. Who picks better gets the job, until Nick is back.

I like what Rizzo did at the deadline and his approach in general as

Posted by: nova_g_man | August 1, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: nova_g_man | August 1, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I am ok with the trades other than salary.
Why do the Nats still have to pay all of Nick's salary?
The Rockies got Joe and "cash considerations."
Thats several Million Dollars that could have gone toward the Strasburg negotiations.
I know it may not seem like much with what Boras is asking but this could come back to haunt us on August 17.

Posted by: jeremybozz | August 1, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Guys, Ted Lerner is the 197th richest person in the world. The money to sign Strasburg IS there if he is willing to spend it. (Not that I personally think they should if the price goes higher than 20-25 mil.)

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | August 1, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me. Ted Lerner is #191. By contrast, George Steinbrenner is #377.

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | August 1, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Talking about Strasburg, the player that holds the record for the largest signing bonus ever is out of work again.

Mark Prior hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since Aug. 10, 2006 and was hanging out for $15K a month in the Padres Minor League system, and he was just DFA'd!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | August 1, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Talking about people who have not signed how is Aaron Crow doing .....hmmmm not signed yet what is he waiting for .....maybe it is just someone with a ohhhh I don't know what is it called ????

Posted by: CBinDC | August 1, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

@periculum -

So nice to see you here. A couple days ago you were constantly on about Dukes somehow needing to learn to take walks. Well, I finally looked it up. Here are some interesting numbers for you (just for you).

2008 NL
League average RF: 9.5 BB/100 PA
League average CF: 8.3 BB/100 PA

Elijah Dukes: 15.0 BB/100 PA

That's in a bigger sample of playing time than we have this year, when Dukes clearly has been uncharacteristically impatient. But for his career he's already shown that he knows more about plate discipline than the average NL RF or CF.

Just thought you might like to know that, since it sounds like you weren't around last year.

Posted by: B2O2 | August 1, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Strasburg....15M tops. One way tkt to Japan otherwise.

Posted by: cokedispatch | August 1, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Re: Strasburg... Tom Boswell did a nice piece a few months ago rattling off the startlingly awful history of #1 pick pitchers. I already knew of the Ben McDonald and Mark Prior type stories, but even I was surprised. I'm all for picking up young talent, but personally I would cut ownership some slack if we got up into the $40 mil range as some are talking.

There is just so much uncertainty with pitching prospects. You stare at them in college and they have it all. Then two years later they look quite a bit different. Just sayin.

Posted by: B2O2 | August 1, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

CoverageIsLacking, I agree totally with your review of Loverro's column. I'm still disappointed that the Nats didn't do more before the deadline but it's just a recognition that without making the big deal they either didn't consider or couldn't pull off, there's only so much to do to make this team better in the short term.

Meanwhile, in my opinion, Dukes was a different hitter this year than last. Much more willing to chase breaking pitches low and away which took away some of his patience. I think that will be a big key to how well he does the rest of the way.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 1, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree with CokeDispatch. $15 mill max. Any more and you might as well spend it on a high priced Free Agent with a proven track record and get your 1A next year in the 2010 Draft.

Now if Bora$ wants to put hefty incentive clauses, then no problem. As we have seen, projecting a MLB career on College numbers don't usually work for pitchers.

The Lerners gave Bora$ a number (none of us know that number) and seem to be following the Manny Ramirez strategy by the Dodgers. The difference is Manny was a Free Agent and Strasburg only has 1 MLB option for 2009.

Bora$ needs to suck it up and get his client to sign if that offer is anywhere close to $15 mill.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | August 1, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

15, 20 , 25 ..... going, going ... free and fair warning ... final call ... SOLD!

June 28, 1968, Friday
Tim Foli, the Number 1 pick in the recent free-agent baseball draft ... yesterday signed a contract with the New York Mets for a bonus reported to be about $75,000.

One bonus boy managing another bonus boy?

Posted by: nova_g_man | August 1, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

First time posting on here but I have been reading all your posts for some time and thought this needed to be shared.

For all you Rizzo haters and NJ lovers this sheds some light.
I loved Nick here as a Nat, however the old adage, "this is a business" definitely comes in to play here. Face it Rizzo got the best he could for NJ. Ill trust Rizzo because the guy is EXTREMELY well respected in the scouting world. He held out and got, in his mind, the better of the two prospect from the Marlins. Those of you who are screaming for his head because the guy is stocking our farm system with pitchers and no position players, here is a little GM lesson for you can never had too many arms!!! They are what give you the resources to trade for quality, AAA MLB ready middle infielders in the future.

Rizzo is a known as a old school baseball guy, with a proven track record. I'll trust his choice in prospects here. I give the guy credit for having the balls to try and get Young Jr from the Rockies when there clearly was a weak market for NJ. Guess what, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the market wasnt much better for Joey Hair.

Posted by: jkraeg | August 1, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Lineups up.

Posted by: leetee1955 | August 1, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

jkraeg - All good points. Keep in mind that in 60 days the season is basically over and Nick Johnson will be testing the water as a Free Agent. It isn't like Nick was under contract for 3 more years.

If Rizzo traded Nick in June, people would be complaining why didn't you wait till the deadline. Can you ever win with the armchair GMs. No.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | August 1, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

GGG no kidding. The negativity on here is pretty bad at times. He would have been a Type C FA, we get nothing for him if you dont deal him. He didnt want to negotiate an extension with us anyway. If his value is still low after the season i wouldnt be surprise if he ended up back in our laps. If that is the case, thanks fish for a potential good arm basically for a 60 day rental.

Posted by: jkraeg | August 1, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

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