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A Nationals roster guess and morning links

By about 11:30 tonight, the Nationals' team plane will have landed in Washington, and by that time the decisions have been made, if not announced. Here's what I think they'll be, minor final roster guess of the spring. I'm going to predict the Nationals will play the opening days of the season without a fifth starter on the roster so they can carry an extra bench player.

1. John Lannan
2. Jason Marquis
3. Craig Stammen
4. Livan Hernandez

1. Matt Capps
2. Brian Bruney
3. Sean Burnett
4. Tyler Clippard
5. Jason Bergmann
6. Miguel Batista
7. Tyler Walker

1. Nyjer Morgan, CF
2. Willie Harris, RF
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Adam Dunn, 1B
5. Josh Willingham, LF
6. Adam Kennedy, 2B
7. Ivan Rodriguez, C
8. Ian Desmond, SS

1. Willy Taveras, OF
2. Mike Morse, RF/LF/1B/3B
3. Alberto Gonzalez, IF
4. Cristian Guzman, IF/OF
5. Wil Nieves, C
6. Roger Bernadina, OF

I predict Roger Bernadina will be optioned to Class AAA Syracuse once the Nationals need a fifth starter, and that fifth stater will be Garrett Mock.

The Nationals will need to do some minor wrangling of their 40-man roster. Willy Taveras, Livan Hernandez and Miguel Batista are non-roster invitees, so three spots on the 40-man need be cleared. The Nats could put Chien-Ming Wang, Ross Detwiler and, if they think he'll be out this long, Jesus Flores on the 60-day disabled list to clear up those three spots. Eric Bruntlett is not on the 40-man, and the numbers crunch is one reason to give Bernadina the nod over him for the first couple days of the season. (For future reference, Drew Storen and Mike MacDougal are not on the 40-man roster.)

There are two important house links to let you know about. Shortly, Tracee Hamilton will host a chat about the Nationals. And you only have until Monday to enter Sheinin's Baseball Insider picks contest.

Elsewhere, the Nationals have completely turned over their bullpen since last year. Keith Olbermann offers up the smuggest preview of the NL East you'll find anywhere. Drew Storen answered questions from fans. The Natmosphere did not seem happy with the notion of Willy Taveras playing on a regular basis.

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 2, 2010; 9:13 AM ET
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Next: Today's lineup


Re: Olbermann's post - the smuggest you'll find anywhere? Really? I didn't find it particularly smug. To paraphrase, I'm not sure that "smug" means what you think it means.

Posted by: TomServo | April 2, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

So you are going with the 7 man bullpen!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 2, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I'm no fan of Olbermann's, but I second the notion that there wasn't anything smug about his preview.

Posted by: gilbertbp | April 2, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I could see Flores moving to the 60-DL, since he still isn't cleared for baseball activities; Detwiler & Wang, not as likely.

The team still needs to create space on the 40/25-man roster for add-ons like Batista, Hernandez, Taveras &/or Bruntlett. Flores to the 60DL creates one; The others will have to come from players being either released or traded.

Posted by: BinM | April 2, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

They are going to go right down to the wire ... the waiver wire before they decide on the right field platoon as a semi-permanent fixture this spring.

In spite of injuries Church's UZR plus a decent bat makes him a better choice than any member of "the platoon" short Bernadina. ESPN Insider Jayson Starke has heard that the Nats are shopping for a power-hitting outfielder. Like most teams have to figure they will look closely at the UZR/fielding ability. They already have 2 weak positions in their lineup at 1st base and left field. Shortstop might not be the best in the beginning as well.

So, Austin Kearns has to look kind of attractive from that perspective but it seems likely he will end up on Cleveland's 25 man.

Posted by: periculum | April 2, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Olbermann may be an irritant to some, but he knows baseball and is ok with most other sports. where do you get smug out of that? His comment about Riggleman? Really? You think it is smug to say he's not a long term manager and that the team might have been better off going younger? It might be wrong, but it isn't smug.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 2, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Thought Olbermann was spot on. I'm still really down on the Nats "plan". Looks like they certainly have some pitching prospects (not as many as some think, though), and very little ML-ready position talent in the minors. Looking at this lineup - the bench maybe the very worst in baseball. I'd like to say I could see some improvement to a competitive team in 2-3 years, but for the life of me cannot.

Posted by: bendersx6 | April 2, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

You really think Mock's the fifth starter? That, to me, is even more scary than Taveras playing regularly.

Hoping Olsen shines today...


Posted by: arlingtontwb | April 2, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Kilgore at heart is still a Red Sox guy, Olbermann is a Yankees guy. Kilgore thinks he's bending over backwards to compliment Olbermann by calling him "smug".

Posted by: nunof1 | April 2, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Re: Olberman - I just think he IS smug, it's just part of his character, it's the way he delivers almost any thought or sentence. Tracy Morgan is funny. Olberman is smug. It's not a knock on him, it's just part of his persona.

Re: 40 man roster.
This is why I did not like the Coste move. Yeah, we MIGHT need him. Buy he takes a 40 man spot as a waiver claim. And he takes a spot away from Bruntlett or MacDougal or Batista or Taveras or somebody. It feels to many like he was "free", but no, we're giving up something of value, a spot on the MLB roster, to stick him in Syracuse as insurance.
We should have found that insurance elsewhere, a true free agent, even if the talent level was a notch below Coste.

The one obvious roster move is Flores to the 60 day DL (right on BinM). That is the move that will be made for Livo.

Another available move (as pointed out by Mark Zuckerman on Nats Insider) is Ryan Mattheus to the 60 day DL (TJ surgery).

Then it's finding people we can release and hope no one claims.

BTW, another impact of the Coste claim.
Let's say in 3 months Flores is ready. We then have 4 catchers on our 40 man roster? No way. Assuming all 4 catchers are healthy, one's gotta go. Goodbye to Wil Nieves. We have to keep the 37 year old part time guy that's down in Syracuse.

Posted by: Sunderland | April 2, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I love Olbermann's politics, but he can't do anything without being smug, fatuous, arrogant or just plain obnoxious.

In the fatuous category, I would put this sentence:

"The ominousness of Daniel Murphy's bat is silent."

What does that even mean?

Smug would be his dismissal of the world champs. arrogant and obnoxious -- his "takedown" of Riggleman.

I also think his segment last night calling out Sen. Lincoln as the Worst Person in the World was fairly typical of his tendency to gloss over important details --calling her a hypocrite, though ignoring the fact the ad he points to said she opposed "the public option health-care bill", not all proposals. That's typical KO smugness, but I digress...

He knows his baseball, so I appreciate the linky thingy.

Posted by: fischy | April 2, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

If you are only looking for a part time RH RF player, and you have some defensive concerns, why not bring in Rocco Baldelli at this point? There may be a few times with back to back lefties that he'd need to skip a game, but he could take most of the starts v. LHP, PH in the NL, and play good defense. Seems light-years better than Taveras, and a more complete option than Dye.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 2, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse


I'm all for a trade, myself. There must be some players out of options we can use. I would expect that this would be a fertile time for trades, and there are some happening. Just none with the Nats yet.


Posted by: kevincostello | April 2, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

"And he takes a spot away from Bruntlett or MacDougal or Batista or Taveras or somebody. It feels to many like he was "free", but no, we're giving up something of value, a spot on the MLB roster, to stick him in Syracuse as insurance."

Any one of those guys you named would pass right through waivers in a heartbeat and then they could be assigned to Syracuse. Any other team claiming them would have to clear space on its own roster for them, and this late in the game there's no team that would do that. And if by chance one of those guys does get lost in a roster move, it would be no big loss anyway.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 2, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

They're already on minor-league contracts; The problem is adding them to the MLB roster means that somebody else gets waived.

Posted by: BinM | April 2, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I could care less what "Keith" has to say i'm more concerned with the fact that we would tell Elijah Dukes to hit the road without so much as a real reason, but yet we kept AK sitting on the bench for a whole season, this team is bereft of real baseball talent but we've got the nerve to keep a Wily Tavares on the 25 man roster while telling Dukes to GTFO,damn! hey i wasn't a big Duke's fan, but secretly? yeah, i was pulling for the kid to succeed. I would love to sit down with the brain trust of this team and find out what's the plan because for the life of me i don't see it.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 2, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

In the end Rizzo is going to have to give up young pitching. If Olsen shines today he (and not Mock) is far better trade bait. Here is a pitcher who has pitched 180 innings and had quality starts. And the big kicker: he's left handed.

Have to almost think that is what Rizzo may have planned. As far as Mock is concerned he ends up in Syracuse as soon as Strasburg arrives. Hopefully Livo/Batista rubber arms will land there or somewhere else when Detwiler/Thompson are ready. Then there's Storen?

The Nats have Bruntlett, Tavares, Batista, Hernandez perhaps Mench all on minor league contracts that could end up taking a vital spot on the 40 that should be occupied by an up-and-coming prospect. This to me seems kind of silly, is the team rebuilding or is Riggleman fantasizing about fielding some sort of competitor? I really can't see Rizzo thinking that.

Speaking of Mench we never hear about him as a possibility in right field but he is still on the ST extended roster going north.

Posted by: periculum | April 2, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse


Okay, but my point is still valid. At this time of the year there's adequate fat on the 40-man roster that can either be slipped through waivers or traded for prospects if claimed to make room for one or two of those guys. And if they do end up losing someone, it won't be anyone that would be any kind of a loss anyway.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 2, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

You're probably right - I'm just a bit gun shy, after seeing some of the choices the team has made over the last month.

Posted by: BinM | April 2, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

To me if you are going to keep a 7 man bullpen which doesn't have to be decided on until the 5th starter is added, then it is a choice between Alberto Gonzalez or Roger Bernadina or Willy Tavares or a bullpen pitcher as to who gets demoted.

The team has an extra week to decide on that.

Tavares isn't going to be long-term with this team as he is on a 1 year deal. Alberto Gonzalez seems to always fizzle out when the season gets going. Bernadina added an amazing drag bunt to his repetoire which along with his speed and fielding is why I think he stays, and he is under team control for 3 more years beyond this season.

All-in-all, we hope that RF works out in this platoon or the team needs to package Mock and a PTBNL to get an established RF. Probably need to wait for a team to have an injury to a starter in their rotation before a trade happens.

BTW, have you seen the back end of the Phillies rotation and their bullpen. 3 guys on the DL!

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 2, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

DAMN STRAIGHT we are pissed off that Taveras is making the team. Dude can't hit his way out of a plastic bag in the majors. Since when does he have the arm for right field? Wouldn't it have made more sense to platoon Elijah Dukes with Willie Harris and cut Taveras? COME ON, RIZZO.

Posted by: nomad2 | April 2, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I would keep in mind that a really strong performance by Olsen today could lead to sending him off in a trade for RF/prospects. Lots of teams looking for a left-handed starter who has made quality starts. Olsen did pitch 180 innings and is still young. They do still have guys like Detwiler and Thompson ... plus Chico.

Trading Mock would make the most sense for the Nats the problem is would another team want to inherit the Nats problems.

Posted by: periculum | April 2, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

In case anyone missed it ... from Mike Rizzo's blog on MASN:

Mike Rizzo: Dear Richard, Scott Olsen is a young (age 26), veteran LHP who logged 180+ innings in the major leagues for several seasons. Left-handed starters like Scott have great value if they're healthy. We have faith in Scott because of his success record, and we are going to be very patient. Presently, Scott is rehabbing from shoulder surgery. I am pleased to tell you he is pain-free at this time and has started to regain arm strength as well as velocity. We believe Scott can and will be available to help us at the major league level sometime during the 2010 season.

A team can never have too many starting pitchers. Our goal was to create a deep inventory of young, talented major league caliber starters. This is necessary not only when a need arises on the major league team but also when acquiring players by trade from other teams. In today's baseball industry, it is enormously difficult to acquire talent the likes of a Jordan Zimmermann from ANY team for ANY amount. A prospect like Jordan Zimmermann is protected like gold.

Posted by: periculum | April 2, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

First point of order - just about everyone will carry a 7 man bullpen. Check the rosters in the USAT this monday.

And second of all. There's no "plan" - I used to believe in the plan - but as I've aged and experienced more things, there's no more a plan than there is an Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.

The Plan was a Harris/Taveras platoon? The plan was Livo/Mock/Martin as the #5 starter.

Posted by: comish4lif | April 2, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

On a different note, I took my Sports Illustrated (Baseball Preview) to bed last night and was momentarily dismayed to see a five page feature on Roy Halladay - five,"he's the greatest pitcher on the planet and a tremendous guy too" pages. My first thought was "I really can't wait until that article's about one of our Nats" but then it came to me - the curse of the SI cover/feature!!!

We are now a dead lock for a W on Opening Day. See everyone out at the Ballpark - I'll be the one waving my SI at Halladay as he walks out to the mound.

Posted by: natslifer | April 2, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Everybody but Zim and Desmond in the starting 8 is at least 29 years old. That means they are probably not going to improve on what they have done before. I'm concerned that Morgan is going to turn into a 280 hitter, Kennedy and Pudge could be washed up with the bat. I just don't see either matching their offesne of last year.

Hopefully Dunn can hit 45 this year and Zim 35. Still need some outfield power, Nyjer and current rightfielders might only total 10.

Posted by: Pensfans | April 2, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

We are now a dead lock for a W on Opening Day. See everyone out at the Ballpark - I'll be the one waving my SI at Halladay as he walks out to the mound.

Posted by: natslifer | April 2, 2010 12:39 PM

Go to Fedex-Kinko's and get it blown up...

Posted by: TimDz | April 2, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

"Kilgore at heart is still a Red Sox guy, Olbermann is a Yankees guy."

New York and Boston, New York and Boston. This is Washington -- we hate BOTH "evil empires," whose acolytes trample upon D.C. natives as it we're Belgium during wartime.

Posted by: VPaterno | April 3, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

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