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Josh Willingham wants to stay a while

In today's birdcage liner, I wrote about Adam Dunn, the most prominent National off to a light-hitting start. Not all of them, though, have stumbled out of the gate. Josh Willingham certainly hasn't.

Again, it's important to realize how inconsequential a week's worth of stats are. But Willingham's first week was excellent -- he slugged .739, tying him for seventh in the National League. His emergence batting fifth may be key to jump-starting Dunn, who should start seeing more hittable pitches if Willingham stays hot.

As far as future concerns, Willingham hopes to reach a multi-year contract extension before the end of the 2011 season, his agent, Matt Sosnick, said.

"His hope is that this year, next year, whenever, he wants to say in Washington," Sosnick said. "He wants to sign a multi-year deal."

Willingham expressed similar sentiment this spring. Willingham is also OK with waiting for the Nationals to come to him, which is probably a good thing. An extension is likely going to have to wait. The Nationals control Willingham through the 2011 season, after which he will be eligible for free agency. So there's no immediate urgency for the team. The Nationals would not likely broach an extension with Willingham until this offseason.

The only risk for them in waiting is that Willingham has a monster 2010, driving up his value. To get an idea of Willingham's ceiling, there is this fascinating comparison between Willingham and Jason Bay, done this winter by Dave Cameron at FanGraphs. The bottom line is that nothing is imminent, but it is interesting to know that Willingham wants to be a National.

FROM THE POST

Here's that story on Dunn staying relaxed despite a tough hitting start. While Dunn made his first error at first base this weekend, he also made a pair of nice plays Monday, particularly a backhand scoop on a threw from Adam Kennedy. "I'm starting to feel good over there," Dunn said. "I'm not having to think as much over there, which is a good thing."

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse 4, Buffalo 3: J.D. Martin allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings on seven hits and one walk while striking out three. In relief, Atahualpa Severino rebounded from a horrible first outing to retire all four hitters he faced, striking out two. Chase Lambin went 4 for 4 with two doubles and three RBI.

Bowie 2, Harrisburg 1: Starter Jeff Mandel allowed two runs on three hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings. Reliever Rafael Martin retired all five batters he faced, striking out three. Bill Rhinehart went 2 for 4 with a double.

Potomac 5, Winston-Salem 4 (12 innings): Robinson Fabian allowed one run in five hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings, striking out four. Jose Lozada scored the game-winning run without benefit of a hit in 12th. Lozada walked, moved to second on a bunt by Charlis Biride, moved to third on a grouner by Robert Jacobsen and scored on a wild pitch.

Hagerstown 2, Lakewood 1 (10 innings): Jeff Kobernus went 4 for 5 with a double and two RBI, including the walk-off game-winner in the 10th. Kobernus, 21, is 9 for 16 this year. Daniel Rosenbaum allowed three hits and a walk in six shutout innings. Rosenbaum, 22, has not allowed an earned run in 11 1/3 innings while striking out 10.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

It appears the Nationals won't have to contend with Jimmy Rollins for this series, with Rollins likely headed to the disabled list.

I'm so glad there's video of this. The Phllie Phanatic dances around Pat Listach, who, rightfully, looks like he wants to run the mascot over with its ATV.

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 14, 2010; 8:20 AM ET
 
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Next: Deck McGuire among top college pitchers available with No. 1 pick

Comments

I think the Dunn contract needs to be taken care of or else they need to be upfront with him that he is on the trading block to a contender sometime during the season.

Posted by: Tom8 | April 14, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

It may be Willingham getting his wish to stay depends on how the trade market looks, but also how re-signing Dunn comes along. Without Dunn, they'd be more inclined to keep Willingham, I think.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 14, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

So has Bay been overvalued or Willingham been undervalued?

If Willingham is going to cost Jason Bay type money, I think it's better to let him walk.

Posted by: SpashCity | April 14, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

SpashCity I agree, but look at it this way; if the Hammer leaves then our corner outfielders are Harris and Tavares. Dunn, if not extended (which I believe we should do; he has his faults but by all accounts is a great clubhouse guy in addition to his skills) should be traded rahter then either letting him walk or trying to extend him later and taking the chance of letting him walk. After that, at least see what the hammer wants for another two years; we'll have to overpay but lets be serious, we have to overpay anyone to be here at this point.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | April 14, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

sign them both. the idea of having Zimmerman Dunn and Willingham in the 3-4-5 spots for the next few years sounds like a good semblance of one of these "plan" things.

Posted by: alex35332 | April 14, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

On the subject of future corner outfielders, I saw this morning that Maxwell had a nice first couple of games in Syracuse (5 for 15, 2 doubles, 1BB, 1K), but has missed the last few on bereavement. I don't know details, but I'll say a little prayer for his family, and then I'll hope he comes back with a clear head and a hot bat. Poor ST aside, he can be a nice piece of the OF if he puts it together this year.

(Aside for the Posties: GREAT idea to have the MiLB boxes linked on the daily post. So easy to track the youngsters!)

Posted by: natinbeantown | April 14, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely, SCNatsFan. It's great that we control him for this year and next. We get to see where the Nats are as a team, and where Willingham is as a player (He will be 33 at that point). If Espinosa can move up quickly and Desmond's defense at SS does not improve, he could end up in LF or RF.

Posted by: SpashCity | April 14, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Hey, maybe somebody could ask Ray William Johnson to highlight that video. Or not. :-)

I really like Hammer Slammer, although I also understand that as regards team "inventory" decisions, "it's not personal, it's business."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 14, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Not that I like it, btw, but I do understand it.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 14, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to see Dunn and Willingham locked up for three years. Dunn has been looking better at 1B, and Willingham has always been criminally underrated.

It'd also make it easier to assemble a lineup, because then we'd really only need to focus on RF and 2B.

Posted by: CapitolWill | April 14, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Brian at NFA reports "Note: Maxwell will be leaving the team temporarily in order to be there for the birth of his daughter" I think the classification as bereavement is merely a technicality, at least I hope so.

Posted by: sjt1455 | April 14, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Thanks sjt, that's much better news!

Willingham, Guzman, Maxwell... lots of Nats babies this spring!

Posted by: natinbeantown | April 14, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Question for the future....

Let's say Kobernus is the real deal. What will this do to Espinosa and Desi? We have all figured one would play SS the other 2nd base. Could we see this happining?

Kobernus 2nd
Espinosa SS
Desi RF

Posted by: hansenjo | April 14, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

"Question for the future....

Let's say Kobernus is the real deal. What will this do to Espinosa and Desi? We have all figured one would play SS the other 2nd base. Could we see this happining?

Kobernus 2nd
Espinosa SS
Desi RF"

Don't get ahead of yourself. The Nats will be extremely lucky if even 2 of them prove to be bona fide major leaguers.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 14, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Don't get ahead of yourself. The Nats will be extremely lucky if even 2 of them prove to be bona fide major leaguers.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking

Absolutely correct, CiL. So many people fall in love with prospects that I dare suggest none of us has ever seen play in person even once, much less over the course of a season. Then there's the up-and-down factor, i.e., Maxwell looking great last September and totally lost this spring. I fear Desmond may be the same. Prospects, even "Can't Miss" types like Jesus, can all go south. Then there's the injury factor. This team in five years has produced one legitimate homegrown 162-game-a-year talent: Zimm.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | April 14, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

There is no news at all in "Player X wants to keep playing with his current team." Nobody ever says "I'm going to keep my options open", even if that's what they're doing, unless they really don't care if they look like a jerk.

Posted by: tailwagger | April 14, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Milton Bradley might disagree.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 14, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see what our "baby-Nats" (larvae?) are up to. Thanks for posting not only the scores but highlight performances.

Posted by: luv2bikva | April 14, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Rosenbaum and Mandel? A good start for a law firm.... ;)

Posted by: fischy | April 14, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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