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Wilkie Deserves the Nod

Good for Josh Wilkie, making the Rising Stars roster. He had the fifth best ERA in the AFL through Thursday's games. He's been nearly as good as Drew Storen in the less glamorous middle relief role.

I had two long talks with Wilkie in Phoenix and was so impressed with him. (You'll be seeing more on him soon.) He's an undrafted free agent out of GW, of course, which gives him a local connection. But he is truly a Washingtonian these days -- he lives here in the offseason, and he hopes one day to be able to ride the Green Line to work,

He's got one true major-league level pitch -- the changeup -- but in the AFL his command has been outstanding. So he doesn't have a fastball to match Strasburg's, for instance, but he puts it right where he wants it. Will a tremendous changeup and good command be enough to get him to the majors? (He ended last season at Syracuse.) Paul Menhart thinks so. New VP Roy Clark is eager to see what he does in Florida next spring.

I'm eager to see both him and Storen tonight (8:15, MLB Network), or rather, Sunday morning on the DVR. (No way I'll make it to the ninth.)

Here's the link to the column in the dead tree edition, in case you missed it. And the news story includes the info about Austin Kearns being bought out.

By the way, I wouldn't read too much into Strasburg's neck strain -- I don't think it means he's soft, for instance. I think the Nats are going to be super cautious with all his aches and pains for awhile, with good reason. There's no reason to risk messing the guy up in November. Just none.

However, Menhart told me before the injury that there also was no chance the Nats would shut Strasburg down early in the fall league, so expect him to stay for the duration, including the playoffs, if the Devil Desert Dogs make it. They are in good shape at the moment.

Enough Saturday morning ramblings. Please check back Monday morning; I'll have more from my chat with Clark.

By Tracee Hamilton  |  November 7, 2009; 9:30 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Strasburg Scratched with Neck Strain [UPDATED]
Next: Talking with Nats Veep Roy Clark


Thanks much, Ms. MVP/Blogmom. I'm looking forward to watching tonight's game, though it's also doubtful that I'll make it to the 9th (unless I'm present on the sofa but in sleep mode). Throw strikes and work fast, boys, and no lollygagging in the batter's box, either. :-)

For those without DVR/Tivo options, the MLB Network schedule lists a rebroadcast at 4 p.m. Monday, followed by another airing at 12 a.m.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 7, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Nice column today on the pitching prospects, Tracee. You are putting Chico to shame. Keep those nuggets flowing...

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | November 7, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

In other MLB Network news, the new season of Studio 42 with Bob Costas will start with a Bud Selig sit-down on Tuesday night ("sit-down" always sounds very Sopranos to me, but I digress). Excerpt from the site's description of that show:

"In the premiere episode, Costas and Selig discuss umpiring, stadium ticket prices, competitive balance, scheduling, performance enhancing drugs and former MLB player and manager Pete Rose."


Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 7, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

"Try the veal. It's the best in the city."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 7, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

It's nice to look ahead on a day when the Nats did house cleaning to close the chapter on previous mistakes. Austin Kearns and Dmitri Young had their single decent year each, but I hope that Mike Rizzo can get more out of the players he brings in from now on.


Posted by: kevincostello | November 7, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Tracie, you seem to be the only one working at the post with any interest in Nationals so I will ask you to comment on the following......Acta and Jimbo were both on XM last night. It was amazing to hear......Jimbo defending Acta to the hilt and saying he could never win with the Nationals talent.....The last time I heard both these two in person was at the Season Ticket Lunchon last January.....Both have sure changed their story sence then. At the time they both said this was the best talent the Nats had ever had and that they were ready to get to .500.......Is this revisionisht history at it's best?

On a similar not, I decided to call in and ask Jimbo to explain the two contrary views......The call screener said Jimbo did not like to take calls on his days as Nats GM......I asked to stay on hold anyway in case he changed his mind......They were bagging for calls....filling time, repeating themselves after each break. I just put my phone on speaker and did some work.....never took the call........Tracie, can you get Jimbo to talk about what went so wrong with his plan for 2009?

Posted by: JayBeee | November 7, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

1/2st......would it even be possible to get less from close to $15 million over two players.....they have to be the worst spend of money in baseball last year......I would have rather had Dice K.

Posted by: JayBeee | November 7, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse


Nice try on getting Jimbo to answer some tough Q's. He's a flippin' wuss for not manning up and taking some Q's about his past with the Nats, especially, if they weren't getting many calls and were just filling time with babble.

Posted by: Section505203 | November 7, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Give it up, guys. Bowden and Acta are both gone, never to come back. They've moved on, why can't you? No matter how much you b*tch and complain, you're never getting those years back. Why waste time reliving them over and over and over again?

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | November 7, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

JayBeee: What, did you really think JimBow was going to state that he was channeling PT Barnum ("There's a sucker born every minute") here in D.C? Or that he would admit to taking a flawed, but competitive team with a great bullpen & turn it into the worst team in MLB in just four years?
Nice try.

Posted by: BinM | November 7, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Fair points....I guess I was expecting him to say that he was greatly disappointed late Lastings never grew up fast enough to take advantage of his talent. That he was let down by D Young who wasted his last chance. That he was surprised that Kearns never learned to adjust his swing to the gasping whole he developed on the inside pitches. That he never expected the coaching staff he put in place would be unable to develop even a marginal level of fundamentals and defensive basics needed to play even poor MLB defense. I expect him to blame the Learners and Kasten for not supporting his plans with a higher pay role. Well to be fair that is exactly what he said without the names attached when he talked about why Acta should not be held accountable.

Posted by: JayBeee | November 7, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

The Nats gave Austin Kearns his $1M and they have parted ways. See ya, AK...

Posted by: thepostischeap | November 7, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I second the Eclipse.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 7, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Really want to sweep 3 years of incompetence under the rug and hope that it does not happen again and trust Lerner and Stan and not question why it happen in the first place? What a surprise......I need to get some of what you are taking it seems.

Posted by: JayBeee | November 7, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Just want to put in a word for Tracee. A few commenters (commentors?) have suggested that she replace Chico as the beat reporter. Please, no. As a columnist, she has Boswell's knowledge, savvy and love of the game, coupled with the wit of a Kornheiser minus the ever-present angst (not to mention his utter disregard of baseball as a sport). In short, she's extraordinary at what she's doing now... let's not jeopardize that. It would be our loss.

Posted by: MikeH0714 | November 7, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

JayBeee: In hindsite, looking at the coaching under the Bowden era, I'd have to call out StClair as one of the worst offenders. He may have destroyed more careers (Chico, Cordero, Hill, Majewski, Patterson, and others) than he ever salvaged by messing around with their "mechanics". Another one was the Lenny Harris experiment as a hitting coach - Yikes!
If you take a look at some of the player moves during that period, it seems to me that Bowden would "overload" at one or two positions each year, while all but ignoring ML-level pitching. Outfielders & 1B were the favorites in 2006-2007; Middle infielders & catchers in 2007-2008, then back to corner Outfielders in 2008-2009. It always seemed to be a "band-aid" approach at the ML level, and drafts built on "toolsy" players & signable choices, regardless of position played.

OTOH, Rizzo has seemingly had to work twice as hard, having to both 1)re-build the minor league feeder system through the draft and 2)try to put a competent team on the field in DC through trades & waiver moves.

I'm just glad JimBow is gone; SoCH saw it long before most of the rest of us did.

Posted by: BinM | November 7, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

@MikeH: I think that those of us here on planet NJ want an active blog, and a responsible (and responsive) beat writer. Tracee is great as a Columnist & occaisional blog contributor, as is Boswell; Even Sheinen's Eeyore-like (doom & gloom) input toward the Nationals is appreciated (sometimes).
CHarlan's contibutions to the beat are by-and-large well-written, but whee he falls short of the Blogfather (Svrulga) is in terms of the # of updates & inside the clubhouse and Front-office information.

Posted by: BinM | November 7, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

"But he is truly a Washingtonian these days -- he lives here in the offseason, and he hopes one day to be able to ride the Green Line to work"

I don't need to hear another thing about him. I want him to succeed, and I hope he's not one of those people who thinks that just because he has a bag of baseball equipment, he gets to take up both seats.

Posted by: 20009matt | November 7, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

In other news, I wonder when the Gold Glove announcements will be made? In the past few years its been in the first week of November, I think, but the series went later this year.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 7, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

1a1: It seemed that in years past, all the major award winners (MVP, Cy Young, Gold Gloves) were announced during, or directly after the WS. Maybe Mr. Selig is slowing up the release due to the ratings bump from this years' WS?
It's a sorry state of affairs when the fans have to wait this long for results that were voted on and balloting closed in the 1st week of October.

Posted by: BinM | November 7, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

That's what I was thinking, BinM. The other day I did find programming information related to some awards (the BBWA ones, I think) on the MLB Network site, but I did not see any mention of the Gold Glove, which is I believe is voted on separately, by managers and coaches.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 7, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Just fyi, here's a link to the MLB Network calendar (wish you could view more than one day at a time).

Looks like the network's first awards coverage is scheduled for November 12 (Silver Slugger and Clutch Performer). The next one I found was for November 17 (NL Cy Young). I toggled through the month the other day but didn't see anything about Gold Glove award coverage. No doubt it's coordinated with the announcement dates for each award. I suppose timing is also complicated by the fact that the Silver Slugger, like the Gold Glove, is voted on by managers and coachers, while other awards, like MOY, MVP, ROY, and Cy Young, are voted on by the BBWA.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 7, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

1a1: Still, all those votes were supposed to be received by the Commissioners' office by the end of the regular season. Does it really take that long for an accounting firm to tally the votes & produce summary reports? The two of us probably could have done that in two or three workdays, including crosschecks & certification of results. A spreadsheet program really isn't rocket science.

Posted by: BinM | November 7, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

I agree, BinM. It shouldn't take long to compile the results. I can understand their waiting until after the series ends, but beyond that, I'm not sure what their rationale is.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 7, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Looks like there's a new Sheriff in town. And Mike Rizzo is going to do his best to put a quality product on the field year in and year out.

Posted by: periculum | November 7, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

But ... the Howard the Duck movie worked so well!
First a Stooges movie, and now this. Don't mess with the classics, kiddies. ;-)
Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 7, 2009 9:33 AM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 7, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

But why would you expect that? You certainly don't respect his opinion or expertise, and if he said anything else, you wouldn't reconsider your positions, you'd just say he was full of it. It doesn't matter that I'd probably agree with you--the point is, you seem to be looking to a guy you don't respect to validate your own opinions, and there's no point in that.
Fair points. I guess I was expecting him to say that ....
Posted by: JayBeee | November 7, 2009 12:06 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 7, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

and it's not "sweeping it under the rug," it's putting the trash out by the curb and letting the garbage truck haul it away.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 7, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Ok...we have the west and east...who the hell am I rooting for here?

Posted by: TimDz | November 7, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Finally get to see Storen.

(A spoiler follows, Tracee.)

I know he gave up the lead with a 2-run dinger in the eigth, but I liked him afterwards. This weekend armchair scout liked his offspeed and breaking pitches more than his fastball.

He was a better pitcher after giving up the long ball. A bit of s snarl on this kid.

Posted by: JohninMpls | November 7, 2009 11:22 PM | Report abuse

The AFL Rising Stars game will be re-shown on the MLB network on Monday @ 4PM.

Posted by: big_game_lannan | November 8, 2009 3:25 AM | Report abuse

Snarlin' Storen? I think I like it. I managed to stay awake to see him, too, (for the most part, and with an assist from Cuppa, Joe). From the way the game started, I thought it might end as a blowout. Not so much.

Overall, it was fun seeing all of the teams' prospects, and now I really wish I could get out there. Maybe next year. BTW, the 4 p.m. airing on Monday will be followed by another at 12 a.m., for all of you night owls.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 8, 2009 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Is anybody at the Post bothering to keep tabs on what is happening - or not happening - on the hire-a-manager front? Hello...

Posted by: truke | November 8, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Well, I managed to jinx Storen. Heck, I jinxed Strasburg before the column even hit the website. I am a curse and should go away.

But before I go, thanks, MikeH, for the very kind words! :)

Posted by: traceeh | November 8, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

The next steps for the Nationals...
1) Hire a Manager - Riggleman's probably the odds-on choice, since Mattingly declined an interview.
2) Decide on Tender / non-Tender to Arb-eligible players (Nieves, Willingham, Olsen, Rivera, Bergmann, Burnett, MacDougal; Looks like Flores, Morse & Slaten fall short of "super two" status).
3) Fill ML coaching staff positions.
4) Set targets for trade / Free Agent acquisitions going into Winter Meetings.
5) Offer extensions to Dunn & Lannan.
6) Persue targeted trades / Free Agents to fill needs (#1SP/CA/MI/Bullpen).
7) Assign Manager / coaching staffs for MiLB franchises.

My personal opinions on the Arbitration players would be: Nieves = yes, Willingham = yes, Olsen = maybe, Rivera = no, Bergmann = maybe, Burnett = yes, MacDougal = yes.

Posted by: BinM | November 8, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

No, Tracee, don't go. We'll be good. We promise.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 8, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

@1a1: FWIW, your quote "Try the veal. It's the best in the city." is from the Godfather (spoken by the Turk to the Police Captain, before Michael whacks them both), not the Sopranos (Tony Soprano was never that elegant).

Posted by: BinM | November 8, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Mattingly doesn't want the job, the GM says they're working on it and Riggleman is a candidate. Unless somebody was seen or overheard to be interviewing somebody for the job, it's still just early and there's nothing to expect, nevermind report. Relax, it's a long offseason.
When neither dog nor man bite anybody, it's still not news.

Is anybody at the Post bothering to keep tabs on what is happening - or not happening - on the hire-a-manager front? Hello...
Posted by: truke | November 8, 2009 8:55 AM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 8, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

although when a dog doesn't bark, sometimes that *can* be significant.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 8, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I know, BinM. I threw in two mafioso cultural references for the price of one there.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 8, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Although I did feel it was a Godfather reference in the final Sopranos episode where the onion rings were referred to as "the best in the city." This pop culture interlude brought to you by Nats Fans, Inc. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 8, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Make that Bored Nats Fans, Inc. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 8, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

In other news, there's a game story and some video from the AFL Rising Stars game here:

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 8, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

The delay in the announcement of the awards is obvious...Bud Selig is, personally, counting each vote. Problem is that every time he gets to ten he needs to take off his shoes and socks.

I'm back with Rizzo on the go slow process. If what I read is correct, between the usual crop of F/As and the number of players who are non tendered because they are up for arbitration, there might be an extraordinary number of relatively young players available to be signed and you can only take so many. Also, with the new CBA coming up, some of the rules may change (maybe no extra drafts for type A or B F/As?).

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | November 8, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

For what its worth, released its top 50 free agent has the Nats signing Orlando Hudson, Carl Pavano and Benjie Molina.

Posted by: jfromPG | November 9, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I like Benji Molina, but I believe he is a Type A and I just can't see the Nationals forfieting a draft pick for a 35 year old catcher. And Molina may be the slowest player in the majors right now. I'd rather see them pursue a lesser catcher on the free agent market.

I really think players like Molina and Cabrerra - Type A, and over 35 - are going to have a hard time getting contracts this year. But if you sign them and lose a high draft pick next summer you could easily end up on the wrong side of the scales.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 9, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Strasburg's supposed sleeping injury -- and for those who missed HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm last night, it turns out there are only 2 ways to hurt your neck. One is in a car accident, and the other is well-known to cunning linguists.

Posted by: fischy | November 9, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I think signing Bengie Molina would be great for the Nats. Sure, they'd have to give up their 2nd round pick, but Molina would give you a solid defensive veteran behind the plate, who also calls a great game (just look at who he's caught the past few years!). He's also still a decent hitter (no walks, but can still pop one out of the stadium).

I'd sign him also as insurance for Flores. I'd assume that Flores won't be ready for the start of the season. Signing Molina would allow Flores to take his time to come back 100% (no need to rush him). Then, hopefully, Flores will be ready come May/June. If he's 100% healthy (a BIG IF) and is anywhere near what he's capable of playing, then the Nats can trade Molina in July to a contending team that needs a top catcher for a couple of prospects.

So, basically trading a #2 pick for a half-year rental of Molina, allowing our top catcher time to heal properly, then trading Molina for prospects wouldn't be that bad of a deal for the Nats ...

Posted by: erocks33 | November 9, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

erocks33, pretty much everything you just said about Molina could have been said about Paul LoDuca at this time two years ago. How'd that one work out anyway?

Posted by: section309 | November 9, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

The next step for NJ denizens...

1) Read the new post.


Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 9, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Molina may have just had a really good year in 2008, making 2009, which was off by career norms but not so much to make you wonder about the B-12 shots. If the Giants had kept him, he'd have been on for $7.5MM.

He might well have to take less in 2010, considering Adam Dunn's experience last winter.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 9, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

In case anybody's looking back at old NJ posts, I thought I'd break out the old sportswriting chops and provide a couple of grafs on Monday night's Arizona Fall League game between the Phoenix Desert Dogs and the Peoria Javelinas, a game in which Josh Wilkie played a key role.

Danny Espinoza fielded well. Chris Marrero hit well. And Josh Wilkie...

Well, as the song goes, "two out of three ain't bad."

Wilkie lasted just two-thirds of the sixth inning and gave up all of Peoria's tallies as the Javelinas came from behind to defeat the Phoenix Desert Dogs 4 to 3. Wilkie had trouble getting anything but his changeup over the plate; the result resembled batting practice.

Meanwhile, Marrero cracked two hits, including a run-scoring double, and hit the ball hard each time at bat. Espinoza wasn't as successful at the plate but had a solid night with his glove at shortstop.

Posted by: greggwiggins | November 10, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

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