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Post-Trade Reading Material

In sum, in the hours between 2:50 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday, two players departed the Nationals (Nick Johnson and Joe Beimel), two joined or re-joined (Elijah Dukes and Jorge Sosa), and three were added to the organization's minor league system (Aaron Thompson, Ryan Mattheus and Robinson Fabian). That's a lot of moving parts, even when you consider that one of those moving parts, Mattheus's Tommy John'd elbow, doesn't work so well for the moment. But hey, Johnson and Beimel were gonna leave anyway in two months. Dukes will get a chance to play every day. And the minor league guys will bulk up the pitching "inventory" -- Mike Rizzo's term for it -- on the farm.

That's one way to look at the flurry of action, at least.

Here's a rundown of perspectives, thoughts, etc., from a busy day.

My main trade story focuses primarily on the departures of Beimel and Johnson, and how those final hours before the deadline unfolded in the clubhouse.

Tracee Hamilton says the moves made sense.

The Washington Times' Tom Loverro questions the deals, especially the acquisition of three pitchers. "The so-called plan to bring glory to the Nationals calls for young pitching prospects, but have you looked at the minor league system lately? The system has no position players remotely close to the major league level -- only long shots and disappointments at best."

SI's Ted Keith, adhering to the unwritten rule of journalistic post-trade deadline decorum, looks at the winners and losers. (But wait, where are the Nats? Forgotten? Too insignificant for a mention?)

Hanley Ramirez's response when he heard about the deal for Nick Johnson? Absolute delight, according to the Miami Herald. Also note the chain-reaction of Johnson's addition. "[Jorge] Cantu will move from first base to third base, the position he played last season. And current third baseman Emilio Bonifacio will become what Gonzalez described as a ``super utility'' player, filling in at a variety of positions the way Alfredo Amezaga did before he was injured."

Herald columnist Israel Gutierrez writes about how the Fish became buyers.

The Denver Post's Troy Renck writes that "Beimel became a realistic target when Washington backed off its demand for Triple-A second baseman Eric Young Jr."

By Chico Harlan  |  August 1, 2009; 8:46 AM ET
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Next: A Few Pre-Game Notes


I absolutely agree with Tom Loverro.

They needed to get Eric Young, Jr included in the deal for Beimel.

Last night, Gonzalez made two more fielding blunders. He and Hernandez belong in AAA. But I don't see a potential 2B in our system anywhere. Jeff Kobernus was looking good but he went down with a knee injury.

Posted by: longhorn64 | August 1, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Tom Loverro doesn't realize that Johnson and Beimel aren't worth good position players. We got a fair low risk, high reward pitchers. Perfectly equal value for 2 month rentals.

Longhorn64- I wanted Eric Young Jr as well but the Rockies weren't gonna trade him just for a 2 month rental in Beimel. If you wanted to get Eric Young Jr we probably would have had to trade one of our young pitchers with Willingham or Dunn.

Posted by: hleeo3 | August 1, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Tracee is 100% right on. Stay classy.

Posted by: hleeo3 | August 1, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Look ur not going to get much with two 2 month rentals. One an injury prone first baseman and another a half decent left handed situational bullpen pitcher - who pitched on more than just situation spots for our bp obviously.

I mean I am just glad we got something for these guys. I really trust in Mike Rizzo's judgment. I mean I like how he didnt budge on the player he wanted from the Marlins and waited till the last minute until they succombed to his demands..

He definetly deserves a chance.

Posted by: Cartaldo | August 1, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Slow morning. That's okay, though; looking at the number of comments yesterday, I think a bunch of y'all could use a little down time.

I usually don't click through to the other papers' coverage in these morning-reading posts, but it was gratifying to read how excited the Marlins are to get our Nick.

Posted by: Scooter_ | August 1, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I think it is probably better to take a chance on a real prospect who is injured than to simply accept marginal talents. There is no way to guess how it will turn out, of course. When the Nats traded Daryle Ward for an injured Luis Atilano, they took the same chance. Atilano is only 5-7 for the Harrisburg Senators, having progressed from low A ball to AA. Will he ever make it to the majors? Who knows?

Posted by: kevincostello | August 1, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

If Thom Loverro would step away from the buffet table for a second, he would realize that a surplus of pitching prospects down the road can easily be traded for major league ready position players. The other way around, not so much. Case in point: The Marlins just traded a pitching prospect for a major league first baseman named Nick Johnson. The Red Sox just traded pitching prospects for a major league catcher/1B named Victor Martinez. Down the road, the Nationals will be able to do the same kind of thing to fill in their middle infield gaps. Loverro is just mad that he may have to miss his midnight snack sometime to have to learn about new players instead of writing about his old reliables like Nick Johnson and Cal Ripken.

Posted by: nunof1 | August 1, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Reading Loverro's "column" is an amazing reminder of the junk that passes for sports journalism in this town.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | August 1, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Certainly agree with CiL. And I agree with Tracee this morning. Stockpile these young arms and deal with strength. I thought Beimel was a joke, certainly a pale shadow of his LA days. Nick was fine but "fragile" is putting it mildly. He could misstep deplaning in Miami and never play an inning for the Marlins. Seriously. We got younger and possibly better. Great analysis, Tracee, you're spot on. As usual.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 1, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Just an interesting point in the ongoing Lerners are cheap discussion -- they did pick up the remainder of Nick's contract ($1.8 million less the prorated veteran's minimum that the Marlins will pay). They saved far less than that by moving Beimel. So they were willing to do the deal and eat some cash... Hopefully a good sign?

Posted by: cdstej | August 1, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Thom Loverro is an idiot. Awful article.

Posted by: BillyBeane | August 1, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

The Cliff Lee trade brought some decent payback for what was given up. Not like prior years where there have been dozens of deadline deals.

Given the bad economic times teams know they need to home grown some talent at $400,000 per season rather than $4,000,000. That $3.6 mill in savings takes a lot of pressure off of the ticket sales group.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | August 1, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

@nunof1: Yes, I don't usually have a problem getting seats the day of--a "benefit" of our team's record. I just don't like to wait in line, so I usually take a trip to the box office during the week.

Also, in contrast to RFK, the only handicap parking is $40. So I end up taking the RFK shuttle, and I'm pretty exhausted by the time I get to the park. When I came with my girlfriends, one of whom uses a walker, I paid the parking for them.

From what I've seen, the ADA seats at the ballpark tend to be the last to fill up, across the board. Since you're making your way to the ballpark anyway, the box office is right there by the gate and I'd think you'd have your choice of seats even if you waited until the day of game to buy them.

Posted by: nunof1 | August 1, 2009 11:18 AM

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 1, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Just want to clear up something misleading someone said in another post about Dukes:

"Nobody has more raw talent than Elijah Dukes on this team although we only see flashes of his skills and not all 5 tools all the time. His arm is a cannon, speed, and power. Plate discipline is a must to keep that BA up."

Okay, so plate discipline is a must. Good thing then that he just about LED National League centerfielders in that area last year.

2008 NL
League average CF: 8.3 BB/100 PA
Elijah Dukes: 15.0 BB/100 PA

Yep, nearly twice the walk rate of the rest of the league at his position.

Folks, here's a tip. The year that's printed on your calendar at any given moment? That's actually NOT the totality of the statistical record we have to go on It's actually a tiny sliver of reality. Dukes' career record says that, over the long haul, plate discipline is NOT one of his problems. Not even close. Discipline in his personal life maybe, but not at the plate.

I hope that clears that up.

Posted by: B2O2 | August 1, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

"Okay, so plate discipline is a must. Good thing then that he just about LED National League centerfielders in that area last year.

2008 NL
League average CF: 8.3 BB/100 PA
Elijah Dukes: 15.0 BB/100 PA

Yep, nearly twice the walk rate of the rest of the league at his position."

(a) Dukes isn't a centerfielder.

(b) Using the fact that he leads the league in some batting stat for those at his fielding position really doesn't say much. Center fielders are only 1/8th of the guys who are expected to produce at the plate. What about the other 7/8ths?

I hope that clears that up.

Posted by: nunof1 | August 1, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

These are minor trades, they'll be lucky if any of these guys can be turned around in a trade. Or make the big leagues. Loverro's right, the lack of position players in the minors is galling. Like was said here, if they really wanted a decent hitting prospect, they would have had to sweeten the deal - then again, maybe the Rockies weren't interested in any of our prospects that were being offered for Young because the Nats have been overvaluing their young pitchers and the rest of the league isn't convinced they haven't stopped doing that.

Posted by: Brue | August 1, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Loverro's piece wasn't bad (or good) until I clicked through to the second page.

Did he think we were going to trade those two for Cliff Lee? No? Okay, so what was the point of all that?


I'll point out that as of now there is one (1) comment on his page. I'm no Steinberg, but that says something about how many people care what he says. Ahem.

Posted by: ihatewalks | August 1, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Off-topic, But I like the way the pitching is shaping up for the remainder of 2009. Lannan-Stammen-JZimm (when he comes back)-Balester-Martin are good for now; Throw Martis, Detwiler & Estrada back into the mix in September, while easing off Stammen & a couple others. If the team signs Strasburg, and Olsen is able to come back and pitch well in 2010, that's just more arms for 2010.

The bullpen might be turning upward as well, with Clippard-Burnett-Bergmann and maybe Chico looking like viable pieces for 2010, Mock in a set-up role, and MacDougal in either a closer/set-up slot if Storen continues his progression.

Posted by: BinM | August 1, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

@ihw: Maybe nobody comments because nobody reads him? I've heard enough of Loverro on the radio to have a feel for what his opinions are about anything the Nationals might do. I won't say he has an agenda, but he's not real crazy about the Nationals.

Posted by: BinM | August 1, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

@brue: Loverro might have a point about the lack of positional depth in the minors, but understand that the MON/WSH franchise was basically an expansion franchise on the minor-league side by 2006. There was next-to-nothing of value left; The prior owner (Loria) and MLB (Selig) had gutted it for contraction before finding a gullible host city (D.C.) and buyer (the Lerner group) in 2006.

Rizzo, imho, has done a very good job in "restocking the shelves" over the last three years. The team is still short in specific orginizational depth at 2B, 3B, LF, RF, & SS, but shows depth in SP, C, & OF.

Posted by: BinM | August 1, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

>Rizzo, imho, has done a very good job in "restocking the shelves" over the last three years. The team is still short in specific orginizational depth at 2B, 3B, LF, RF, & SS, but shows depth in SP, C, & OF.

Posted by: BinM

Well, I guess it's good to be optimistic. But there just isn't any hitting in the minors. After five drafts, they should have come up with more than one or two players. And as was said, those guys are a couple of years away. So, outside of Zimmerman, it will have taken in excess of 7-8 years to get only one or two hitters out of the system. You can only dangle so many mediocre pitchers in front of another team without that team looking at it like taking on all those arms in a trade would only be clogging their system. Everybody's got some pitching. They must, because they all have better records than the Nats. Plus, the Nats have to wait on the pitchers they have to develop so that they know what they're trading. If they're the real thing, people will want them, but if they're just AAAA players bouncing up and down between the minors and MLB, the other teams will know it and stay away. That's the problem with having only pitching to offer, it takes awhile to develop them and make them attractive. You can't just say, 'hey this raw kid throws low 90's with a good breaking ball' because everybody has some of those. I'm surprised that they haven't drafted any college bats just to fast track them to the majors and put them on the bench of the big club in order to push the veterans. Instead they get Belliard, who is useless on all fronts and will be gone soon. It's a wasted roster space. They haven't created any competition for the regulars, and the team has suffered for it.

Posted by: Brue | August 1, 2009 3:31 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 well.

Posted by: nova_g_man | August 1, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

..."I'm surprised that they haven't drafted any college bats just to fast track them to the majors and put them on the bench of the big club in order to push the veterans." ...
Posted by: Brue | August 1, 2009 3:31 PM
@Brue: Fair statement. The few College players/bats drafted i.e. Rhinehart (1B-2007), Lombardozzi (2B-2008), Espinosa (SS-2008), Pahuta (1B/3B-2005), Lyons (2B/SS-2007), Seuss (OF-P-2007), et al have been slow in moving up to-date.
In 2007 to 2009, Rizzo has helped draft & sign over a dozen college players/bats, including players like Rhinehart (1B-2007), Espinosa (SS-2008), Lombardozzi (2B-2008), Kobernus (2B-2009), & Nicol (SS-2009), who are a year or two away.

Posted by: BinM | August 1, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse


Actually, comparing Dukes' walk rate to others at his defensive position is the most widely-used and reasonable apples-to-apples approach. It's how most knowledgeable analysts would do it. And in fact, he's been primarily a CF this year. Last year he played more in RF, okay. The NL average for RFers was 9.5 BB/100 PA. Dukes was a full 58% above average for that position. Outfielders provide the most offense in general anyway. Would you prefer I compare him to catchers or pitchers?

Just admit it. You are determined to find some way to run the guy down. If you want to that bad, you'll find a way I'm sure.

Posted by: B2O2 | August 1, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

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