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Making decisions and morning links

By tomorrow morning, the Nationals will have made a final decision on at least their first four starters for the regular season. Craig Stammen's spot seems secure. Scott Olsen, today's starter against the Braves, is seemingly down to his last chance.

At the outset of the spring, the Nationals counted on Olsen as one of their starters, so long as he was healhty. Well, he hasn't not been healthy, but he also hasn't proved the effects of shoulder surgery last summer are behind him, either. He has allowed 23 hits in 9 1/3 innings, and the velocity on his fastball, while improving, is stuck below 90 mph.

No matter what Olsen does today, the Nationals will likely face decision with Olsen other than whether or not he belongs in the rotation. If Olsen remains with the team past March 31, pitching the majors or minors, they Nationals will owe him his $1 million salary. If they release him, they'll owe him 45 day's pay. If they believe Olsen may help them eventually, they could suck it up and let him regain full strenght. If not, they could cut ties and risk losing a 26-year-old lefty who's throw 200 innings in a big league season.

That's one tough call for the Nationals. Others are happening, too, and the roster is starting to come into focus for the Nationals. On the minor league side, Chris Marrero is waiting for his chance. The Nationals pop up often in this list of trade rumors. People in Harrisburg are buying gobs of tickets and guessing when Stephen Strasburg will pitch.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 28, 2010; 7:38 AM ET
 
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Next: Ian Desmond named Nationals starting shortstop

Comments

All things considered, a million dollars is not that much. The Nats should send Olsen to Syracuse and see if he can straighten things. If he can, you have a guy who can give you 200+ innings and win 12-15 games. If, not you're out a million bucks. Seems like an easy decision to me.

Posted by: chris88 | March 28, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I agree about Olsen. He hasn't put himself in a position where even a single good outing could make the difference. If he has an option (and I think he does), send him to Syracuse. If they don't keep him, someone else will certainly give him a try.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | March 28, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Maxwell has been optioned to Syracuse this morning...

Posted by: Barney001 | March 28, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Maxwell's demotion makes sense. The only firm conclusion you can draw from his spring performance is that he needs some time where he plays every day. And that wasn't going to happen on the 25 man roster.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 28, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Should be a fair bit of roster shuffling over the next three days. Pitching decisions still to be made on Atilano, English, JD Martin, & Olsen, with roster space needed for Batista & Livan.

With Maxwell being sent down, two or three positions are still in flux - Desmond/Guzman, Gonzalez/Bruntlett, Bernadina/Taveras.

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Does the pre-March 31 rule only apply to arb. eligible players like Olsen? If not, might that be a way to avoid paying $8 million to have Guzman be a statue at SS or a grump on the bench?

Posted by: jp2000 | March 28, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

jp2k

I think that Guzman's salary is guaranteed, based on his 10/5 service length.

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

10/5 has nothing to do with it. It's totally the arbitration factor. Last year Dmitri Young and Austin Kearns still had to be paid whether they were cut or not, and neither of them was a 10/5 guy.

Posted by: TBCTBC | March 28, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

$1M is not that much in the grand scheme of things, but the Nats in years past have cut the likes of Hill and Patterson so that they wouldn't have to pay them LESS than what Olsen is owed.

You have to think they'll be keeping him in the fold. Lefty starters in their mid 20s who have shown success in the past do hang around over righties with comparable fastballs. I think we should 15-day DL him, keep him in extended spring, keep throwing him against our minor leaguers and see if he improves.

Posted by: tboss | March 28, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Guzman signed a guaranteed contract, he would be owed his full salary even if they release him. I can't remember if Olsen's was an arbitration deal or a non-guaranteed deal. Either way, the Nationals only owe him a prorated portion of his deal if he is released before the end of the month.

Olsen will and should be released. He isn't just throwing below 90 MPH, he's throwing well below that. From what I've heard, his fastball is only topping out at 85 to 86 MPH. I also heard that he's thrown his curve at less than 70 MPH. He's not worth keeping.

He'es also not worth sending down. He's had a bad attitude in the past and probably wouldn't react well to being sent down. Its best to cut ties with him now.

As it relates to Stammen, they never should have put pitchers like Olsen, Livan, Mock or Detwiler ahead of him. Stammen should have been the 5th starter from the beginning.

Posted by: jeffreyt211 | March 28, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

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