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Viera, Day IV: The Strasburg reports

Good morning from Viera. Let's start things off with a hot cup of randomness.

* First, some (very Strasburg-centric) linkage: Here's my fishwrap story on the man, the myth, the 21-year-old... The NYT story... the Philadelphia Inquirer story... and audio of Strasburg's interview session. Also, make sure to check out Toni Sandys' fantastic photo gallery of spring training shots. There's something truly captivating about wide green ballfields, especially when they're dotted with guys wearing numbers liked 66 (Atahualpo Severino), 60 (Ryan Mattheus) and 62 (Derek Norris). Ahh, spring training!

* Second, manager Jim Riggleman indicated this morning that reliever Drew Storen, the other 2009 first-round draft pick, will most likely begin this season in the minors.

Here's the full back-and-forth from the interview session with Riggleman.

Q: You hesitated yesterday to say that (Stephen) Strasburg was competing for a starting rotation spot. Would you say Drew Storen is competing for a bullpen spot?

Riggleman: That's an interesting question. He did pitch some in the minor leagues last year, but I would say that, again, pretty much the answer is the same way. We respect the development system and the great staff we have down there and probably would lean to him starting down there. But you hear such great things about what he's done -- his delivery, his strike-throwing, his putaway breaking ball. So you know... we're open-minded about it.

Now I have a feeling Storen will be fine with that arrangement, but for now, he's simply soaking in the big league life. His locker is surrounded by vets -- guys like Shawn Estes and Eddie Guaradado. He's talked to all of them. This morning, Storen, 22, spent a good five minutes talking to Ron Villone, 40, about preparation. Storen, for the record, just listened.

"You're watching these big leaguers and you realize the work they put in," Storen said. "It's not like, Oh, they just show up and play. Like another thing -- I showed up at 7 a.m. [Sunday] thinking I'd be the first person here. And Brian Bruney was already here, working out, busting his [tail]. It's like, 'Hmm, okay, now I see.'"

* Third, the list of pitchers throwing in the bullpens today:

Group 1B
John Lannan
Shairon Martis
Matt Capps
Atahualpo Severino
Eddie Guardado
Juan Jamie

Group 2B
Scott Olsen
Garrett Mock
Jason Bergmann
Ron Villone
Logan Kensing

Group 3B
JD Martin
Collin Balester
Brian Bruney
Luis Atilano
Drew Storen

By Chico Harlan  |  February 22, 2010; 9:44 AM ET
 
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Next: A quick post-bullpen chat with Steve McCatty

Comments

I like Storen and would not be surprised if he is in the majors before Strasburg.....time to step your game up Bergmann.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | February 22, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I would love to hear what tips Storen is picking up from the veterans.

Slam the signings of the older vets all you want but any good team needs some veterans around to help out with the young guys...even if it is just to show and teach the young guys something.

Posted by: derwink | February 22, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I thought that the below. Rizzo quote from the Inquirer story was quite interesting. I don't think I've seen it in any of the local reporting. In my view it is essentially an admission by Rizzo that the pre-'09 drafts under Bowden were bombs.

"It will take about three more drafts to put our signature on teams," [Rizzo] said. "To establish enough of a foundation to sustain injuries, and guys who you think are going to make it and don't. We pick first again this year, and I hope this is the last time we pick first."

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | February 22, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I would not take Rizzo's quote that way at all, CoverageIsLacking. Keep in mind that Rizzo had a heavy hand in the choice of who was drafted in the Bowden years. Bowden may have been the final decision maker, but the raw data he was using in making those decisions was much more Rizzo's doing than Bowden's. If anything, Rizzo's contributions toward evaluating potential draftees will probably be lessened now that he has all the other GM duties to attend to. So future drafts will actually be much less Rizzo-influenced than drafts during the Bowden years.

What Rizzo's quote says to me is that building a team through the draft is not something that can be done in only a few years. It's an ongoing process. Drafting players is basically an educated crapshoot at its best, so with that uncertainty combined with injuries and other setbacks (think the A's had any idea they'd lose a top prospect to the priesthood?) there are no guarantees of quick success via the draft.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 22, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

ABM, I agree that there are no guarantees of quick success via the draft. Which has been my biggest concern about "The Plan's" almost-exclusive reliance on the draft, especially as implemented in the half-assed way it was under Bowden. But a good rebuild of a minor league system can absolutely be accomplished in 4 years, perhaps 5.

I don't care who you want to pin the blame on for that--Bowden, Rizzo, Kasten, Lerners, or whether you want to chalk it up to bad luck. But the fact remains that the Lerners and Kasten put all their eggs in the "build through the draft" basket, and Rizzo's statement is further acknowledgment that they're not close to getting there.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | February 22, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

It certainly seems to me that Rizzo was saying it will take more time. I read nothing more into it than that - a simple statement of fact. I think you would have to have preconceived notions or an agenda to read anything more into it. :)

Posted by: natbiscuits | February 22, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

And if they wanted to build through the draft, it didn't help that they bungled their first pick two year ago, either. That non-signing coupled with the fact that the Nats are responsible for nearly a quarter of all MLB arbitration cases since 2006 (including 2 of 8 this year) indicates that the Learners are cheap crowd, a mob which I have sadly joined recently, are right. And now I fear they are nickel and dimming Dunn... but we shall see about that in time.

Posted by: NatsFly | February 22, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

natbiscuits, I guess my agenda is that I want the Nats to be a good organization, and my "preconceived notions" are the factual recognitions that the Nats have lost 205 games the past 2 seasons and by accounts still have a well-below average minor league system.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | February 22, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo is going to have a hard time rebuilding if he has to keep reaching for signable guys in the draft like Holder, instead drafting the best guy on the board, regardless of his agent or stance on signing.

That sits squarely on the Lerner's.

After 3 years under the Lerner's we have Strasburg and Storen and a bunch of maybe's and AAAA guys.

And that ain't "preconceived notions" or an "agenda", that is fact.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 22, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"natbiscuits, I guess my agenda is that I want the Nats to be a good organization"

That's not an agenda, it's a desire. Your agenda is that you never want to miss an opportunity to point out the many ways the organization has failed to meet your desires. In some circles, that kind of thing is known as kicking a man while he's down.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 22, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Who desires to watch 100 lose team year after year? It's called being a die-hard fan who is frustrated having to watch a crappy underfunded product.

The only people that are getting kicked while they are down, are the fans and the DC Gov't, who put the money up for tickets and the stadium. And the people doing the kicking are the same people that ABM defends at every turn, the billionaire Lerner's.

They continue to put a doo doo brown product on the field while spending a fraction of the money needed to run a MLB franchise.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 22, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

The Lerners are ruthless business people. To them there is no difference between owning strip malls, office bldgs and industrial parks and a sports franchise. "Its not personal Sonny, its business"

The Lerners are used to brow-beating what they consider inferior products, thats why they have had no problem bringing arbitration cases to the table. Business people always enjoy telling their competition/employees that they stink! Until the Lerners figure out the Nats are not Tysons Galleria or White Flynt Mall then arbitration is the vehicle of choice to set the score in their favor.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | February 22, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Can we stop b*tching about the Lerners and start getting excited about the best Nats team we have probably ever seen. I know thats not saying a lot but I cant wait for this season to start so the Nats can prove all the naysayers on this blog and around the country wrong.

The Nats are going to win 85 games and finish 2nd in the NL east.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | February 22, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Tippy -- the Lerners treat this club like a purely economic pursuit, they have no zeal to win. They have been hoping to get lucky. Looking to wander into the playoff hunt for a while with a club playing over its head and cash-in on the nice attendance and revenue from having a competitive club. Given the history of the club's roster moves and payroll levels, that appears to be the real plan.

But I do not think it fair to knock the club for having arb hearings (lots of clubs go to arbitration with players over a few Hundred Grand). And especially seeing how they won both hearings.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 22, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The Nats are going to win 85 games and finish 2nd in the NL east.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | February 22, 2010 12:56 PM
___________________________________________________________

I hope you are right, believe me. However, I think you may need to put the bong down.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 22, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

They won their cases in arbitration. Clearly its not about being cheap, its about defending the assigned value they have on that player. Yes, feelings get hurt, but when it comes to business, it ain't about feelings. And its funny because I think a lot of you getting all mad do the same bargain shopping when it comes to purchasing things like automotive repairs, diapers, or other comodities and services. Doesn't make you cheap either it just means you don't want to pay prices for things you don't think are worth it. However, the opposing view would be buying 1ply toilet paper and passing it off as 3ply quilted is another story.

Posted by: lpatashn | February 22, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Kearns = 1 ply

Posted by: SpashCity | February 22, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Actually, it is fair to knock them over arb because they are so far out of line with other clubs--out of the 30 MLB teams one (our Nats) accounted for one quarter of the cases. That illustrates Tippy's point about wringing every last advantage out of people. They "won" their cases this year (and most of the others too) but who wants to come play for owners who, unlike the rest of the MLB, don't understand that the cost of taking a player to arb isn't accounted for solely in dollars?

All that said, I also am looking forward to watching the team. It will definitely be improved, and I hope and expect to enjoy my partial ST package more this year than the last two.

Posted by: NatsFly | February 22, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I am being wildly optimistic but that is what spring training is all about. But we do have a solid to possibly very good lineup and what should be a solid bullpen, so what if Wang is healthy and dominate again, Marquis has another all-star season, Olsen finds his form and pitches like he did when he first came up, Strasburg is what everyone says he is, Lannan wins 15 - 20 games now that he is not going against every other teams best pitcher, and Stammen or Chico or Mock or Detwiler or one of our other young pitchers step up and finally become big league pitchers.

It is still February, if the Phillies get some injuries we could challenge for a pennant, anything is possible.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | February 22, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

As long as we end up with better records than the Mets or O's I will be happy.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | February 22, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"who wants to come play for owners who, unlike the rest of the MLB, don't understand that the cost of taking a player to arb isn't accounted for solely in dollars?"

That's a total non-issue. Players who are in the arbitration process are those who had no choice about coming to play for a team. They are either draftees from within the organization or players that were acquired in a trade. That's why they are said to be under team control - because they as players have no say in where they play.

The only players who can choose where they play are free agents, who for the most part are beyond the arbitration process and therefore really don't care how a team handles its arb cases. The only exception to this would be players like Wang and Capps who were already non-tendered by one team, making them free agents before their time. Those guys having been burned by one team already are unlikely to care much about how another team that actually wants to hire them is going to handle their arbitration. They just want a job.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 22, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

The Nats cannot challenge for a Pennant without an Ace. Not possible.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 22, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

There's a big difference between bargain shopping for a TV or diapers - those are inanimate objects that aren't offended by the process.

The numbers drive the fact that many teams do not like to go to arbitration because it can be counter productive to have to denigrate a player to his face. Before the Giants signed Lincecum, there was a runor that the Giants were sending a representative and were going to let MLB present the case. Cheap Lerners have gone to arbitration more than any other owner during the time in which they've owned the team.

And really, going to arbitration over a $250K difference?

Posted by: comish4lif | February 22, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Nunof1: Did you compare complaining about the Nats' bad management acts to kicking a man when he is down? Knocking Nats management is a less than a fair thing to do? Wow.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 22, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Y'all should go argue someplace else...

Like the new post...

Posted by: OldDude | February 22, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Nunof1,

I understand the difference between under control and free agent. My point was that while players want a job, the ones who have a choice in jobs will prefer to work for an organization whose owners don't nickel and dime their employees every chance they get.

Posted by: NatsFly | February 22, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

$250K is a lot of toilet paper. And little amounts add up. I think they saved enough for two major league minimum's which can be productive players. And let's be honest, I don't think the Lerner's care about some of their player's feelings. They aren't good enough. Clearly they care about other's as they avoided arbitration with Willingham. So, really guys, arbitration is kind of a non-issue. All the multitude of cases really say to me is that they had some players that thought they were better than who they were, and they weren't good enough (as far as team chemistry and overall happiness level) for the FO to give into their demands. (As an aside, the only arbitration case I wouldn't have gone into was for Chad Cordero, since at the time he was considered an integral part of the team. But his performance didn't suffer due to the process, btw.)

Posted by: lpatashn | February 22, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

As long as we end up with better records than the Mets and O's I will be happy.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | February 22, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

"My point was that while players want a job, the ones who have a choice in jobs will prefer to work for an organization whose owners don't nickel and dime their employees every chance they get."

Yes, I suppose that's why Capps and Wang (both of whom will have to go to arbitration next year) chose to sign with the Nats. Right? Other clubs must nickel and dime their employees every chance they get, and the Nats must not.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 22, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

The Nats thought enough of Willingham to avoid arbitration this year - but they did take him to arbitration last winter.

Since 2006, the Nats have been a party to 7 of 32 cases that went to arbitration - that's more than 21% being allotted to a single club. Cheap Nats.

Posted by: comish4lif | February 22, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Saw this article:

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/2456/why-do-players-suffer-arbitration-hearings

and I'll ask the same question.

Why do players even attend the arbitration hearings?

Posted by: SpashCity | February 22, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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