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The Nationals' teeming scrum of humanity

More players trickled into the Nationals' spring training camp this morning -- pitchers Matt Capps, Joel Peralta and Bradley Meyers, and catchers Jesus Flores (who did not work out) and Derek Norris. There were some staff members also present on the back fields, including coaches Rick Eckstein, Steve McCatty and Randy Knorr, and front-office types Bob Boone and Doug Harris.

One thing is beginning to come into focus -- the sheer number of starting pitchers in this camp, most of them legitimate big leaguers, vying for very few big league jobs. In this morning's print edition, I wrote about one of those pitchers, Matt Chico, and made reference to the "teeming scrum of humanity" trying to win rotation jobs.

The Nationals pretty much have three rotations' worth of starters in camp. Think that's an exaggeration? Well, let's see:

Rotation No. 1 (and I don't mean for these to be taken as literal rankings of everyone's standing): Jason Marquis, John Lannan, Craig Stammen, Scott Olsen, Garrett Mock.

Rotation No. 2: Ross Detwiler, J.D. Martin, Collin Balester, Matt Chico, Shairon Martis.

Rotation No. 3: Chien-Ming Wang, Stephen Strasburg, Chuck James, Miguel Batista...

Okay, well, perhaps they don't have three full rotations' worth. (And yeah, I know Batista is more accurately described as a reliever at this point, and that Wang won't be ready until June, and James is also coming off surgery, etc.) But it's close. And some of the pitchers in camp are certainly starting to take notice. One pitcher told me he expects a trade or two to come down before too long, because "there just aren't enough innings [available in spring training] for all these guys."

Obviously, it is never a bad thing to have too much pitching -- and it sure beats the alternative.

By Dave Sheinin  |  February 18, 2010; 12:13 PM ET
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Next: Detwiler has hip surgery, out for 10-12 weeks


Juan Jaime, Aaron Thompson, Luis Atilano: are they not invited?

Posted by: lerici | February 18, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Reposting since, of course, there's a new post:

How about 1:00 pm Friday for an NJ "Spring Training is Finally Here" celebratory lunch, at the Kingstowne Town Center Panera Bread? I'll be the guy wearing the red Nats Cap.

This link might help you get there, if it works:,+DC&view=text&ei=GGh9S6DgEo7dlAfc4fCcBQ&sa=X&oi=local_group&ct=more-results&resnum=4&ved=0CCAQtQMwAw

Posted by: Section222 | February 18, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Mebbe Chinese at some point?

Ten Good Luck Foods for the Chinese New Year.

1. Tangerines and Oranges. Displaying and eating these fruits is said to bring wealth and luck.
2. Long Noodles. If noodles are served, then “keep them as long as possible for long life,” says Lum.
3. The Tray of Togetherness. Put out for visiting relatives to snack on, or given as a gift, the eight (“a traditionally symbolic lucky number,” explains Dunlop) compartments of the tray are filled with things such as preserved kumquats for prosperity, coconut for togetherness, longans to bring many sons, and red melon seeds for happiness.
4. Nian Gao. “Nian gao means year cake, but gao sounds the same as the word for tall or high,” says Dunlop. Hence the cakes symbolize achieving new heights in the coming year.
5. Pomelo. This large citrus fruit is popular, writes Gong, because it is thought to bring “continuous prosperity and status.”
6. Jai. This vegetarian dish is eaten because it’s “part of the Buddhist culture to cleanse yourself with vegetables,” says Lum. Chinese black mushrooms to “fulfill wishes from east to west”; and more.
7. Long Leafy Greens and Long Beans. Gong writes that leafy greens, such as Chinese broccoli, are “served whole to wish a long life for parents.”
8. Whole Fish. The Chinese word for fish sounds like the word for abundance, says Lum. It’s important that the fish is served with the head and tail intact, writes Gong, “to ensure a good start and finish and to avoid bad luck throughout the year.”
9. Sweets. Serving desserts brings a sweet life in the new year.
10. Yuanbao (Jiaozi). “In North China, everyone eats the jiaozi dumplings,” says Dunlop. “ Gong writes that during New Year celebrations jiaozi are called yuanbao, a reference to the ancient, ingot-shaped Chinese currency, and that eating them is said to bring prosperity.

Posted by: lerici | February 18, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Is lerici Latin for "periculum lite" by any chance? Or did you just do your "how to cut-and-paste useless information" training with the master?

Posted by: nunof1 | February 18, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Never a bad thing to have too much GOOD pitching is the key. The Nats have had oodles of SP's in camp before, has not exaclty worked out so well in the past -- this MIGHT be the year. We'll see.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 18, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, sec 222, but I may wait until the weekend so that my hubby can come along with me. Maybe more people could attend a weekend gathering?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 18, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Oh, sorry about that ...

So, Mr. nunof1 I found this cut-and-paste ... is this really you?

To mark the momentous occasion of the trade of Lastings Milledge, I just wanted to drop by and give a special shout-out to our very own Village Idiot here on NJ, a man who needs no introduction and who goes by many names, the one and only:

An Briosca Mor/Sec417/SpamCastin/DCCapsfan/RDS, the list goes on.

My favorite of the excerpts below is the last one, where by May, even after Milledge was demoted you continued to act like a know-it-all jerk. Your arrogance is unparalleled, except for maybe by the Village Idiot of NatsTown. Don't you owe something to JayB now that you were proven utterly and completely wrong?

Here it is, in all of our friend's glory:

They're not going to trade Milledge.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 19, 2009 10:54 PM

And they're not going to trade Milledge.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 26, 2009 7:09 PM

Doesn't matter whether I think he understands baseball, or whether you think he understands baseball. All I've said is that they're not going to trade him. Because they're not. They don't care whether you understand why or not.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 26, 2009 8:11 PM

And in case you haven't already figured it out, they're not going to trade Milledge.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 30, 2009 1:12 PM

They're not going to trade Milledge.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 31, 2009 12:07 PM

And they're not going to trade Milledge.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 31, 2009 11:26 PM

And they're not going to trade Milledge.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 2, 2009 3:02 PM

Tell me, has he been traded yet? Nope. All I ever said was that he wouldn't be traded. I never said why.

And it's still looking like he won't be traded, isn't it?

Posted by: nunof1 | May 4, 2009 12:59 PM

Posted by: LernersARECheap | June 30, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: lerici | February 18, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Although I realize we'd miss pitchers and catchers day that way.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 18, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Ah, I see. lerici means "he with too much time and not enough meds on his hands." Go ahead then, CTRL-X and CTRL-V away. Don't let me stop you if that's what it takes to exorcize your demons. Bandwidth is cheaper than meds, after all.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 18, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Ok 1a1, if you're not coming, then I won't trek all the way down to Kingstowne tomorrow unless there's a groundswell from others here that want to do it tomorrow. Feel free to suggest another time.

Posted by: Section222 | February 18, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Ok Peeps, well I just bought my first tickets of the season. So I'm officially excited.
Will see you all at the Stadium Friday night in April against the Dodgers. Figured we'd get in early while the games still meant something and hopefully even see Manny.

Posted by: dovelevine | February 18, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, Olney says that Dodgertown is the place to be if you're a starter looking for a job:

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | February 18, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Here's a question. Would love to have a few responses.

In this coming season, what percentage of innings pitched will be thrown by the same set of pitchers we had last year?

Last year we threw about 1,425 innings.
Marquis will throw 200+.
Capps & Bruney, perhaps 100 combined.
Maybe another 50 from some of the new RP's.

Biggest unknown, how many innings from Matt Chico, from CMW, from Strasburg?
If Chico is solid, this could be 350 innings? I'll swag this at 275 innings.

So I'm guessing 800 innings thrown this year from guys who threw for us in 2009.
This is about 60%.

Think more? Less?

Posted by: Sunderland | February 18, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

More bodies creates better competition. This is easily the best group of pitchers as a whole that we have seen in natstown in a while.
Heres to a successful recovery to Zimm.

Posted by: Stu27 | February 18, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

How many starters are capable of throwing 200+ innings? How many do you think will be able or permitted to throw 100-120?

Posted by: lerici | February 18, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

The bullpen will most likely look completely diffrent. The only two relievers that are locks right now from last year were possibly the two best performers, Burnett and clippard. Hopefully we wont be using clippard in these marathon 3 inning details. I think he could be a great set up guy possible closer in the future.

Posted by: Stu27 | February 18, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse


With all of those aliases and well, infamy you must be on numerous blogs associated with this paper. I could be wrong but It sure seems to me like you may be an individual with too much time on your hands? And perhaps that your "drug of choice" are these blogs?

Posted by: lerici | February 18, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

such petulance.

Spring Training is here - even Chico (the pitcher not world traveler) has a chance to play a part in the Nats future. How can anyone not be of good humor and optimism.

Posted by: natbiscuits | February 18, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't know, I look at that list and see two middle-of-the-rotation starters (Marquis and Lannan) and then just a bunch of question marks.

Sure, we have a lot of starters in camp, but we don't have very many proven ones. Stammen is young and coming off surgery. Olsen threw 60 innings last year and posted an ERA over 6 before having season ending surgery. Mock, Detwiler, Martin, Balester and Martis might fill a slot, but are just as likely to be in Syracuse. Same story for Chico, but add the fact that he's coming off surgery. Ditto for Wang and James. Batista is a reliever. And we're all hoping Strasburg is all that, but we don't know yet.

Two starters and a teeming scrum of question marks, in my book.

Posted by: BobLHead | February 18, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure I would go so far as to say that most of those names are legitimate big leaguers, but the Nats sure do have a ton of better-than-AAA-but-not-quite-MLB starting pitchers this year for sure.

Posted by: vash462 | February 18, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

This was a thoroughly enjoyable post, from "teeming scrum of humanity" to your link to "the alternative." I literally laughed out loud when I clicked on the link.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 18, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Still time for Rizzo to trade and take on some salary for something closer to a 1 or a 2 healthy, been in MLB last year starter, and there are a bunch of guys out there to be had. Not saying it is going to happen, as it would mean, dare I even think it, taking on payroll, but it sure would be nice to see. Lineup can play with anyone in the NL, bullpen looks like it coulld perform well, if only the front end SP was legit. Nats could add a $10M contract and still be in the bottom third of payrolls. Why not?

Posted by: dfh21 | February 18, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

dfh, I want another pitcher too. I was promised two, and I don't think Wang counts.

Posted by: Scooter_ | February 18, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

We may differ on this point, though, dfh: I think you've been pining for an Ace this winter. Unfortunately, an Ace is Not Something the Team ever Said they were Looking for. The sense I always got was that they wanted two "reliable starters."

Now, I'd love to add an ace. When the Nats are going for the World Serious, I very much hope they'll have at least two. All I'm saying is, if I had to guess whether it's coming, I'd guess no.

Posted by: Scooter_ | February 18, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Sunderland -
A good question, but difficult to answer specifically (by pitcher) right now. In general, I think a team would hope for 900+IP from their rotation (210+,200+, 180, 170, 160), with the remainder from spot starters & the bullpen.

Posted by: BinM | February 18, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse


Just wondering, when you say there is a bunch of guys out there to be had, who do you have in mind?

Free agents?
Washburn seems like the best available. He says he wants to retire, or perhaps pitch in Seattle or Minnesota.
Pedro? He ain't coming here, he wants to pitch in October.
Smoltz? We couldn't call adding Smoltz an improvement, could we?
Braden Looper? He could eat innings, but he gives up lots of runs too.

My guess is, all we have to offer in trade in a few of our AA / AAA starting pitchers. I'm doubting that the plan would allow Rizzo to deal a few of them for a middle of the road starter.
And we don't have the bait (or the stomach) to deal a load of prospects for a top notch starter.

So I'm with you, I'd really like to see one more reliable arm in the rotation. I'm just not sure where it's coming from at this point.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 18, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Come on, is nunof1 also A-BM and
An Briosca Mor?

Is that confirmed anywhere?

I love the transparency of the internet. Like another site I am on a couple of guys talk of their days playing college baseball and the Minor Leagues and you have to wonder how many of these guys are just BSing.

You can really be anything or anyone you want to be until you make bold predictions and know-it-all statements that come back to bite you in the butt like the Milledge stuff above or all the negative souls that were crying that Strasburg wouldn't be signed.

Then you have those guys that repeat the same thing over and over again and they can't be taken too seriously. Its like a bad whine.

Posted by: dmacman88 | February 18, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Inside Pitch seems to think that the "surprise" of camp will be Ross Detwiler. While the "disappointment" will be Scott Olsen, because of his shoulder. Releasing him will cost $1 million. But the project him in the rotation along with Miguel Batista?

Posted by: lerici | February 18, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the Milledge trade. Yeah, I didn't see that one coming. Still rather amazed Rizzo pulled it off. So?

Posted by: nunof1 | February 18, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

To everyone asking the Lerners to pay another $10 or $20M this year. First, the Lerners pretty much run their businesses the old fashioned way: borrow when the time is right but put away money for the future when it isn't. Do you really think that this year's the year? I don't think hardly any of us do. But perhaps they'll be close enough next year that that $20M buys an ace, to add to a couple of other stud starters; and the rest of the team will have had a little time to be seasoned, see what it's like to win - THAT's the opportune time to spend extra to put them over the top. (And that was always Kasten's method in Atlanta). And second: for what? This year's another mostly lousy free agent crop; sure they could have signed or found one of the three or four really good ones, but that doesn't follow argument 1 above. And the rest are middling (we got one, Marquis) or crapshoots (we got one, Wang).
One valid counterargument is that they need to spend more to make a serviceable team this year, to keep from alienating fans. I don't think that's necessary: I think most of us agree this team ought to get 75 wins or more, which ought to do that part. Is it worth $20M to get up to say 79 wins rather than 75? I kind of doubt it. But it would be worth to move them up from 87 wins to 91, and possible playoffs. Let them spend the money when the time is right. Something tells me they won't be cheap when they've got a winner going.

Posted by: jonb5 | February 18, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"My guess is, all we have to offer in trade in a few of our AA / AAA starting pitchers. I'm doubting that the plan would allow Rizzo to deal a few of them for a middle of the road starter.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 18, 2010 3:15 PM"

Well, unless you're specifically talking about like a really old starter, who's only good for one year, then I could certainly see trading a few kids to get one finished product. Does "middle of the road" mean average? Like Marquis? Then yeah.

What's more, I think that'd be well within The Plan(tm) -- young pitchers aren't just for pitching; they're also for trading to get what you actually want. I don't think the team ever believed all of these kids would actually *pitch* for them.

Posted by: Scooter_ | February 18, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Lerici - They make that bold statement on Scott Olsen being a camp disappointment, and I see what you are talking about. They have Olsen as the #3 starter in the Opening Day rotation. How can you take USA Today's article seriously...


1. LHP John Lannan

2. RHP Jason Marquis

3. LHP Scott Olsen

4. RHP Miguel Batista

5. LHP Ross Detwiler

Posted by: dmacman88 | February 18, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Mark Z says Detwiler is out 10 weeks, hip surgery.


Posted by: Sunderland | February 18, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Not a very inauspicious start ....

If you should venture to a hotel in Italy, one will find that the 13th floor is never skipped over. In fact, a gold charm of the number is given to Italian infants to ensure good luck and prosperity.

A backward swastika, black and the number 13? Perhaps those would work as a talisman or "whammy" to get the Nationals out of the NL East basement?

It sure seems like they may need one?

Posted by: lerici | February 18, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

So much for the USA Today's projection and thank goodness for the depth of the young starters as I see Stammen as the young guy in the rotation and didn't see Detwiler initially.

Posted by: dmacman88 | February 18, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Something tells me they won't be cheap when they've got a winner going.
I actually find that point to be the most interesting part of the debate over whether the Lerner's are cheap -- same data for everyone; pretty good, in fact perhaps foolish, level of attention, but you have at least three camps: the Lerners are doing ok, the Lerners have really messed this up, but maybe they'll get it figured out (this includes me), and the Lerners are in it for the cash flow and don't care about winning. So the discussion may tell us more about the speakers than about the Lerners.

Posted by: markfromark | February 18, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the "disappointment" so far is Ross Detwiler due to the injury and consequent surgery. Hopefully the "surprise" will be Scott Olsen?

Posted by: lerici | February 18, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link to Zuckerman's site, Sunderland. That Nats Insider ought to be added to the Natosphere links to the left, preferably near the top.

Posted by: jonb5 | February 18, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Let's hope the bullpen and defense are shored up this offseason; I feel the starting lineup has been productive in the reality that so many young guys have been forced into duty...I hope J. Zimmerman recovers well. He could make a great closer like Isringhausen did...Isringhausen was a decent starter until he needed surgery.

Posted by: derbyparty007 | February 18, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I agree with natbiscuits, spring is in the air (in FL) and hope springs eternal. We are due for some good luck - hope Detwiler's injury doesn't start a trend.


Posted by: alm1000 | February 18, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Looking at the pitchers on the 40 man roster according to When you figure out the career average w-l for all the pitchers we have right now its a .440 winning percentages.

Granted that does not factor in Strasburg or any of the guys who have yet to pitch in the majors.

Posted by: alex35332 | February 18, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Bought tickets for opening day this morning. I love the sound of that - opening day for my Washington Nationals.

Been to every opening day since 05. CAN NOT WAIT.

Go Nats!

Posted by: alm1000 | February 18, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

BTW, weather forecast for Monday April 5. Bright, sunny and warm, in the low 70's. You'll be able to see all the way to September 2011, and a playoff race.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 18, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I don't normally cut and paste, but I just needed to forward this piece that came across the SABR listserve:

"I'm curious as to what finer minds than mine think the D-Backs "avoided" by agreeing to a two-year contract Sunday night with Edwin Jackson. According to news reports, the recent acquired right-hander will be paid $13.35 million as Arizona "buys out his final two years of arbitration eligibility."

Jackson was asking for $6.25 million in arbitration, while the Snakes had countered with an arb-offer of $4.6 million. With the agreement, he'll receive an $800,000 signing bonus and make $4.2 million this season ($5 million), plus $8.35 million in 2011. So Arizona pays him $400,000 more for this year than they were offering in arbitration, and over two years will pay him more than twice the amount that Jackson himself sought for 2010.

The only thing I can figure out is that Arizona is confident of a monster year out of him, which they'll get for $1.25 million less than he asked for. Then they will have to pay him "only" $8.35 million next year, when, based on the monster year, he could command much more? Do Jackson's stats -- in three years as a starter, only last year was he anything better than No. 5 in the rotation -- make such a year seem likely?"

Who knows, maybe those who think that the Lerners are cheap haven't figured out, yet, that they have the ability to do simple math.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | February 18, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

My noting that SP guys are avilable is based upon clubs looking to dump contracts for pitchers that are MLB proven and healthy and pricey. Lowe, Chris Young, Robertson/Bonderman, Meche, etc. The Nats would not have to mortgage the future in terms of giving away big prospects to get a guy like Lowe who is owed a ton of cash. Or maybe even a guy coming off injury but expected to be solid could be had at a discount, Westbrook from the Tribe maybe (but that is more like what we're working with now).

As to whether the time is right to add payroll, that begs the question of when will the time to add payroll ever come? Does the club have to be a contender before we can add the pieces to make it a contender? It has been years, payroll has remained steadily very low despite the new par and the good market.

The lineup will score, the bullpen is much improved, the bench is good, Lannan and Marquis are very nice 3 hole type starters and Wang could come back to be dominant as front end guy. IF the club had Harden or Sheets or Wolf or someone of that ilk, then management could actually say that the Wild Card was not some laughable pipe dream. And the idea that the time to spend has not yet come sort of presumes that the money not spent today is banked and then spent later, which we know is crazy talk as the Nats never spend beyond the bottom 5 or so (the Lerners have not yet spent more than MLB did on payroll in 2006 when they owned the club).

Posted by: dfh21 | February 18, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Mikecatcher - I'm not agreeing, I'm not disagreeing, I'm just syaing it's more complicated than "simple math".

The Lerners signed Jason Marquis for $15MM over 2 years. He's been pretty steady for 10 years, you have a good idea what you'll get out of him. He's good, not great.

Last year, Edwin Jackson outpitched him in almost every way. Pitching in the AL, where more runs are scored, he had a better ERA (3.62 v 4.04) a better WHIP (1.26 v 1.38), more strikeouts, more K's per 9, better K:BB ratio, etc.

So if the D'Backs signing the 27 year old Jackson for 2 years and $13.35MM is foolish, what can we say about the Lerners signing the 32 year old Marquis?

I'm not yelling "Lerners are cheap". But it ain't a matter of simple math. The D'backs have done a ton of things right over the past 10 years (many of them thanks to Mike Rizzo).

Posted by: Sunderland | February 18, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Oh. I guess everyone already new about the knew post.

Posted by: Scooter_ | February 18, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

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