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Scott Olsen 'blown away' by decision, intent on return

To say that Scott Olsen was surprised today when the Nationals sent him to Class AAA Syracuse would be an understatement.

"We were pretty blown away," said Matt Sosnick, Olsen's agent, in a telephone conversation.

Olsen had been competing at the end of spring with Garrett Mock, whom the Nationals named the final piece of their rotation. Olsen struggled at the start of spring as he returned from the major shoulder surgery that ended his 2009 season. But he made a strong argument in his final two starts, particularly Friday against the Red Sox. He allowed one run on five hits while striking out seven, hitting 91 mph on one scout's radar gun.

"What they were hoiping was as spring training progressed, his velocity would get higher and his stuff and his command would get sharper," Sosnick said. "It seemed like his last two starts were much more indicative of his careeer than his" beginning to spring.

Despite his disappointment, Sosnick said, Olsen will report to Syracuse with the intent on making a swift return to the Nationals.

"I wouldn't say he's ready," Sosnick said. "But he's going. He has the option, and the team has the right. It's very surprising on our end. It's also reasonable. Both guys have an option. They have a right to make the choice as to who's going to start the season as the fifth starter. It seems like spring training is about trying to peak your spring training performance at the end. It would seem to me like, if he was a stock, then he was a stock that was much higher now than it was two weeks ago.

"They were positive about it. Just because we were surprised by the decision doesn't mean both of us don't like Mike [Rizzo] and Brian [Minniti]."

Mock finished spring training with a 5.79 ERA. In Mock's last start, he allowed five earned runs on five hits and seven walks.

"I've got to imagine that even Mock was surprised," Sosnick said.

Sosnick predicted Olsen having a similar year to Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco's 2009. The Marlins sent Nolasco, then 26, the same age as Olsen now, to Class AAA, where he dominated for two starts before heading back up to Florida.

Olsen "has too much too pride and too much confidence in himself to go down and pitch lousy," Sosnick said. "I certainly anticipate Scott is going to make 30 starts in the big leagues this season."

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 3, 2010; 10:20 PM ET
Categories:  Pitching rotation , Scott Olsen  
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Next: With one day left, predict the Nationals season


"....Mock, 26, was 0-4 with a 5.79 ERA in five spring training starts."

And Mock is named the 5th starter?!?
oh boy. This is gonna be another loooong losing season.

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | April 3, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

30 Starts? Yeah maybe for Syracuse, not in DC as long as Wiggelman and Rizzo continue their man-crush on 0-4 Mock!

I have been s STH since day one, and like everyone who loves the game you want to be positive however...., this is a bad team folks. Its so depressing to watch re-runs over and over and thats what this organization is a "re-run"

Posted by: TippyCanoe | April 3, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Way, way too much negativity for April. Let's get behind our team people. This is a time of hope and anticipation. It might not be perfect, but I'll take it.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | April 3, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

i think this is Mock's last chance as a starter, if this isn't successful he goes down to be a reliever for the Nats or is traded.

Posted by: wrw0601 | April 3, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Very professional of Olson and his agent.

It seems like Riggleman had Mock in mind all along. He doesn't change his mind easily, does he?

Boy, the Red Sox looked good today, didn't they. I wonder if they could part with any of their right fielders???

Posted by: paulkp | April 3, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

I like Riggs, but this is starting to remind me of Manny's totally over-the-top love affair for AK, which cost Willingham 100 at-bats while Kearns was striking out without being able to hold a bat with two hands. I give Mock three starts (at most) and it's down to SYR.

It's Lannan and Marquis, and pray for Jesus.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | April 4, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

I suspect they sent down Olsen to make sure that he does not push himself too hard in a start in the majors. As I recall, he did not tell anyone he was hurting last time and tried to stay in the game. Perhaps the team simply has his best interests in mind here. Make him prove he is healthy in the minors first.

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 4, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Good point, Natsbiscuits. If that indeed is the case, I give Rizzo-Riggs points for psychoanalysis. Which for this bunch is very necessary.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | April 4, 2010 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Well, here we go into another season, so I want to put out my disclaimer, one that I imagine applies to most of us: No matter what bad or negative things I might post about this team, I truly hope for its success and that some day soon, instead of being the butt of jokes, I can be a fan of a team that's actually in the race for the playoffs.

Let's go, Nats!

Posted by: nats24 | April 4, 2010 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Natsbiscuits, I think you are absolutely right. I also think agents are boneheads. Nice comments from Sosnick, he sounds like Olsen was entitled to the job. While I think Olsen's a better player, there are good reasons for this move (and it could be Mock's last chance).

Adam, stick to talking to the players. These clowns are to biased to offer anything substantial.

My Prediction? The Nats finish in fourth, with a lot of help from the Mets.

Posted by: CajunD | April 4, 2010 2:12 AM | Report abuse

mock sucks, livan?! come on what a loser...adam dunn strikes out sometimes!!! and lannan's era is like almost 4...and desmond is young and makes some errors and zimmerman doesnt always hit walk off HRs!!! seriously its unbearable to read some of this garbage

Posted by: formerlylove1 | April 4, 2010 2:42 AM | Report abuse

I'll admit that I was surprised by this decision to keep Mock over Olson also. I really don't understand it. I'm not surprised by it that much though as I've witnessed many questionable decisions over the few years the team has been in existence in DC. All we can do as fans is shake our heads, hold our noses and look from afar. GO NATS

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 4, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

This is where Rizzo starts to be accountable for his own decisions vs. what he was stuck with.

He had many choices:
1) Trade Willingham & improve defense in LF
2) Releasing Dukes
3) 2nd base. Kennedy or Orlando Hudson
4) SS, Guzman or Desmond
5) The aging veteran Pudge at catcher
6) Matt Capps as your closer and the rest of the bullpen
7) Choices for the #3, #4, and #5 in the rotation

Not sure how this will all play out. Some will work out, and some may bite Rizzo in the a$$.

Watching Willingham in LF was like watching Lastings Milledge and Gulliver's Travel. Willingham didn't get a good read on Tug Hulett's line drive that went for a double over his head. This will show up in the boxscore as a double but what it doesn't say is that it should have been caught. If this was in the beginning of the game, it would be even worse costing his pitchers extra pitches while working out of a possible jam.

Rightfield will be a question mark and Willie Harris played a double in the corner like a guy who acted like he never played there before and lacked hustle.

Middle infield looked good.

The bullpen looked shakey. Just have to hope they improve.

The starting rotation is made up of finesse guys except for Mock who can be an attack type of pitcher. Stammen pulled it back together his 2nd time through the lineup. How long until Strasburg gets here?

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 4, 2010 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Adam- Thanks for talking to the agent about this. I am in the camp that thinks you should talk to as many people as you can to get as many perspectives as you can.

I was shocked, as well, although the sample size is still too small to be sure Olsen is back. That is the best reason I can think of, and it isn't a bad one. Let's see Olsen pitch at 91 consistently, and even above, and then we can be more confident that he truly is back from his injury.

As much as I like Willie Harris and bemoan Willie Taveras, I welcome the news that the Nats have tried to trade for a RF for a reason this post brings up. If things break more right than wrong, Rizzo is going to have some tough decisions to make. Bruney, Burnett, Clippard, Bergman and Walker are all out of options - that's a big chunk of the bullpen. English will be sent down to let Livan on the 40-man roster.

That makes it hard to keep Stammen or Mock on the team and in the bullpen if Olsen comes up. If Detwiler, Wang and Strasburg show they should come up, then someone needs to be on the disabled list, or released. I know it is unlikely that everyone will pitch well, but it does indicate that Stammen, Mock, JD Martin or Olsen could be logical trade chips.


Posted by: kevincostello | April 4, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Garret Mock does not belong on a ML roster.

Ergo, he's a Nat.

Posted by: JohnRDC | April 4, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse


Who thought coming into ST that Jesse English would make his MLB debut before Drew Storen? Stand up and take a bow!


Posted by: kevincostello | April 4, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Keep in mind that the core of this pitching staff for many more years is:

John Lannan
Stephen Strasburg
Jordan Zimmermann

and then if you can find 2 more out of the rest of the guys in the Minors that can step up, this is the future strength of the Nats.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 4, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse


If C-M Wang is back to form, he needs to be included, because he only turned 30 a few days ago (Happy Birthday!).


Posted by: kevincostello | April 4, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

"Keep in mind that the core of this pitching staff for many more years is:

John Lannan
Stephen Strasburg
Jordan Zimmermann"

* * * *

Don't count your chickens before they hatch.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 4, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Mock should be a reliever. Olson should take the demotion. The guy who should be starting in the Nats rotation was demoted to Harrisburg. So, if Olson thinks he should be the number 5 starter, he'd end up in 'Cuse as soon as SS hits June.

Posted by: 6thandD | April 4, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

The Nats just do not have all of the starting pitcher spots covered with bona fide major leaguers or young guys with mow-'em-down stuff going into Opening Day. It looks like two of the slots in the rotation are covered.

The closer position is not covered going into the season.

The RF position is not covered with a major league starter.

Hopefully, Pudge at his age can still hit well enough so that we can say that the Nats covered the catcher spot.

The bench strength is not really covered, from an offensive standpoint, by major league standards.

Looking on the bright side, the Nats have a majority of their positions and pitcher slots covered with major leaguers. And the Nats have done so with almost no budget, by major league standards.

What's lacking in the off-season moves? What about all the fun trades JimBo gave us?

The past off-season may not have been very exciting with Rizzo as GM. Mike essentially replaced Zimmermann with Marquis and filled in many of the other open slots on the team with low-budget players who have a chance to be fairly productive. Nonetheless, Mike's methodical style should get more and more positions covered with major leaguers as this and other seasons progress. So I am somewhat hopeful and looking forward to the June draft and the call-ups.

Posted by: EdDC | April 4, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Like everye else, trying to make sense of the Olsen decision. Best theory put forward, as I understand it, is that both Olsen and Mock had an option remaining, and time is running out for both of them before reinforcements start to arrive in June. Therefore, Mock, as the unknown quantity, should get MLB starts now to determine whether he can hack it at this level. Seems Olsen might get one advantage out of this: as the "ace" (if this term means anything at AAA level)of the Syracuse rotation, he should be pitching regularly every fifth day, whereas timing of Mock's starts in the early going could be irregular. BTW, let's not ignore Rizzo's part in this decision: clearly he believes in Mock--drafted and developed him in Arizona, engineered his trade to DC, etc.

On the positive side, how about Dunn's glovework at 1B yesterday?

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | April 4, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Of all the roster moves, this may be the least significant. It is easily changeable, it affects the team in only one game out of five (actually slightly less), and the rotation will probably look very different by mid-season.

What is of greater concern is whether the team will be dead and buried by mid-season, or earlier, like last year. I have been very slow to jump on the "Lerners are cheap" bandwagon, but I am starting to climb on. Like others have said, it's not so much the refusal to sign big-ticket free agents (I believed from the start that letting Soriano go was the right move), as it is the small-market approach to everything, especially the draft.

That we are looking at these AAA retreads this many years into "the plan" in one of the largest markets in the US is ridiculous. To be looking at this RF situation after last year's mistake with Austin Kearns and now the Dukes release is even more ridiculous. It is even hard to understand from a business perspective, since a relatively modest additional investment is likely to reap huge returns if the team becomes more competitive.

The Lerners and Kasten compound the problem by appearing completely tone deaf to the concerns of their franchise's most dedicated fans, either engaging in happy talk, trying to distract people's attention to 2011 before the 2010 season even starts, or, in the case of the Lerners themselves, simply remaining invisible.

This just doesn't seem the right way to build a business -- baseball, real estate, or anything else. It's really hard to understand any other way than simply believing the Lerners are unwilling to invest what is necessary to make it successful.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 4, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

CapPete - I think you're on it.
Given the way Mock have thrown the last two weeks, his .308 BAA from 2009, his 4.3 BB/9 from 2009, if Mock went to AAA we'd likely never see him again.
So we keep Mock, let him start a few and see if we can deal from there.

Posted by: Sunderland | April 4, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang.....WELL-it's TIME for another go round....Regarding Olsen-regardless of Mocks' worthiness, I figure the chance for Olsen to keep getting stronger is the reason he's not here. Seems like all these pitchers who have serious surgeries-although capable of pitching-really require at least a year to fully get their "groove" back (I know-that presupposes Olsen ever HAD a groove!). So even though I tend to believe he's already BETTER than Mock-what the hey, send him down in the hopes that when he's closer to his full capabilities, you can bring him back and maximize his potential.Maybe be something more than just another placeholder til the "real" rotation arrives...along the same lines, while J.Zimm may be able to pitch later this season, likewise I don't see him REALLY returning to form until LATE in 2011.
I actually have a soft spot for Olsen...while I'm a big fan of FJB, anyone who pisses Steve off because he smokes....well, that's a point in his favor! Just hope O takes it as a chance to fully get it together rather than reverting to past churlish behavior...
Ahhh, the dilemma of having all these number 6 starters! Our cup runneth over!
Go Nats!!!!!

Posted by: zendo | April 4, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse


You are right, of course. DC has the 8th largest region, but the Nats act as it they are much smaller than Cincy, Milwaukee or Minnesota--or just about anyone else. Just about all the Nats' moves, from saving money on the draft, to trades for low-salaried guys only, to the cheap international signings, to the lack of free agent moves, are absurdly low-budget.

The bright side I see is Mark Lerner. Ted has realized he has a nice money-maker model with his approach to spend low and still attract 20,000 fans to his free ballpark. And Ted is right in that regard, solely from a short-run perspective.

Mark is wisely supporting his father publicly (see today's Metro column). However, Mark is part of the Leonsis investment group and is undoubtedly learning how to become a top major league owner. He is learning from this region's best owner in Leonsis.

We all wish Teddy great health and a long, happy life. When Mark takes over, whenever that may be--and hopefully with the talented Stan Kasten by his side--the Nats may then be able to truly begin the long climb to the championship level with major league-level investments.

Posted by: EdDC | April 4, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

"It is even hard to understand from a business perspective, since a relatively modest additional investment is likely to reap huge returns if the team becomes more competitive.

The Lerners and Kasten compound the problem by appearing completely tone deaf to the concerns of their franchise's most dedicated fans, either engaging in happy talk, trying to distract people's attention to 2011 before the 2010 season even starts, or, in the case of the Lerners themselves, simply remaining invisible.

This just doesn't seem the right way to build a business -- baseball, real estate, or anything else. It's really hard to understand any other way than simply believing the Lerners are unwilling to invest what is necessary to make it successful."

* * * * *

This is exactly right. It seems as if none of this bothers them, and there is no sense of urgency. If they can build a contender on the cheap--Strasburg excels as hoped for, Zimmermann grows into a stud, Wang has an amazing recovery, etc.--then sure, that's great, they'll be happy and the money will flow. But they certainly aren't doing anything special or out of the ordinary to make their team into the world-class organization that they promised to create when they bought it.

I think we fans are going to be amazed at how small the season ticket holder base is this season once the dust settles in a couple weeks. For a preview, go on to the Nats' web site right now: you can buy 4 season tickets behind the Nats' dugout, less then 15 rows from the field. That's just one example. And this season is the last season on the initial contracts for luxury suites and Presidents and Diamond Club seats. If there's another 100 loss season, the promise of Strasburg isn't going to be close to enough to keep many of those fat cats on board. Then the death spiral begins and we really start hearing the excuse of low revenues prohibiting the Lerners from spending.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 4, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

You put the best 25 out there, mind games be dammned Riggleman should know better Mock's got no business on this roster period, listen he's not even triple A material in my opinion. Mike Rizzo is beginning to make me wonder if Riggleman's got picture's of him and some ladies of the night, first the Dukes fiasco and now this do either one of these guy's have a clue?

Posted by: dargregmag | April 4, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I can understand how Olsen feels, as it does rather seem as though they had their minds made up about Mock all along.

and special to dargramps, inspired by your previous posting re. Dukes:

Times have changed. It's not like the Old Days, when we can do anything we want. A refusal is not the act of a friend. If Riggleman had all the judges, and the politicians in DC, then he must share them, or let us others use them. He must let us draw the Kool-Aid from the well. Certainly he can present a bill for such services; after all... we are not Communists. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 4, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

They just want to see if Mock really can get big league hitters out so they can stick him in the bullpen on the big club. Or cut him. Normally, in a good organization, the young pitchers would all pretty much start in the bullpen on the big club, then once they got used to the bigs, they could step in as starters. Since the ONLY homegrown player they have in the bullpen is Clippard, they needed to go out and buy a bullpen (again). And as was mentioned, those guys don't have options, so they're stuck with them. What they're gonna have to do is wait for one or more of them to fail, then put one of our terminal prospects in there. Olsen's main problem is that he wants to win - he'll never last here, they'll find somebody docile who has an agent who keeps his mouth shut. Do you see anybody on this roster getting angry - ever? Team loses 100 games two years in a row and nobody even bothers to throw some gatorade on the field? You develop a personality on the field. Just because you're laid back off the field doesn't mean you can't be nasty on it. They're all a bunch of losers just happy to be drawing a fat paycheck.

Posted by: Brue | April 4, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I said it back then and i'll say it now MLB picked the wrong ownership group period, end of story. The only thing the Lerners know about owning a MLB franchise is absolutely nothing that's right nothing and Rizzo and Riggleman are perfect dupes for these cheap-azz owners one is a lifelong yes man, and the other just happy to have a job.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 4, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Well, when you've got 9,000 fans, paying attention to the (often contradictory) ideas of the "most dedicated" (100? fewer?) of them might seem like a good idea. But there's two things for sure: the football team owns DC, and winning will fix whatever can be fixed.
But that assumes winning is the goal. For the fans, it is, but for a business, it's secondary. If you know you can turn a profit without winning, and you risk some serious red ink by trying to be competitive year after year, you've got a built-in cognitive distortion between you and your customers: you don't share goals.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 4, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse


You are right in DC's case. But every once in a while an owner comes along with the same goals as the fans. And why not, if the owner is so rich that he doesn't give a sh-t about making a few extra million? You are only around on the planet but for so long, and then you go. You can have fun and build a winner.

So I do agree with you about the conflict in goals between fans and owners--but in many other towns you don't see as much of a conflict. For example, the Twins' owners are going nuts in trying to win. They don't have half the regional resources to work with as DC does.

Posted by: EdDC | April 4, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

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