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Hello, Danny Espinosa. Goodbye, Scott Olsen?

Morning roundup

The brawl last night and Nyjer Morgan's most recent controversial moment overshadowed two significant events in the Nationals' two-field goal loss, one of them a development of immediate significance and then other a sign for the future. Scott Olsen may have pitched himself out of the Nationals, and Danny Espinosa took his first step as a major leaguer.

By surrendering nine runs and recording only five outs, Olsen may have taken himself out of the Nationals rotation. Since he returned from the disabled list July 29, Olsen is 1-6 with an 8.72 ERA, having allowed 45 hits in 32 innings. In Syracuse last night, Cuban right-hander Yunesky Maya made his final Class AAA start, going 5 2/3 strong innings. He is ready to pitch in the majors, and General Manager Mike Rizzo wants Maya inserted into the Nationals rotation. Maya he could seamlessly fill Olsen's spot five days from now.

"Honestly, I have no idea," Olsen said. "That's Rizzo and [Jim] Riggleman's decision. Whatever they decide to do, it's out of my control. I can only control, hopefully, the 2 ½ hours I'm on the field every five days. Beyond that, I've been around long enough to know you just give up on trying to figure anything else out."

Olsen, in the wake of major shoulder surgery, has been excellent at times this season. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning back in May and has allowed two earned runs or fewer while pitching at least six innings in six starts. But the valleys have exceeded the peaks. Twice in his last five starts, Olsen has last five outs.

"I got absolutely killed today," he said. "That's just how it was. I made bad pitches, and they hit them all.

"As a starting pitcher, getting into a rhythm of every five, six days, I would say it's more difficult to come off the DL, be up and down, do all this stuff. By no means is that an excuse. When I'm out there, I'm out there. I'm feeling fine. I just got to be better. It's just the bottom line."

Long after Olsen departed, in the bottom of the fifth, Espinosa jogged to his spot in the infield in the majors for the first time. Espinosa reached with a hustling, unconventional double in his first at-bat and made a smooth turn at second base on a double play, the exact play Rizzo wants him to master as he transitions from shortstop to second base.

"It was a little fast for me," Espinosa said. "I had to slow myself down a little bit. But I had so much fun up here. It was a great time."

In the top of the sixth, Espinosa walked to bat for the first time. He had glanced at a scouting report of Marlins reliever Burke Badenhop. He chopped a bounding ball toward second base, and it took a wicked hop over Emiliano Bonifacio's head.

Espinosa saw the ball skip into the outfield, a clear single. But Espinosa kept his eyes to the outfield as fielder Mike Stanton "didn't come to the ball hard," Espinosa said. "The second I saw him not charging the ball hard, I made my break for second."

He bolted for second and made it in time as Ian Desmond scored. The play is what you can expect from Espinosa. "He's got a ton of talent, but he's also kind of a grinder," said Drew Storen, who played with Espinosa last season and this year in the minors. "He's a dirtball, really." He meant that in the most complimentary way.

Espinosa had his first hit - he would later tuck the ball inside a black duffel bag - not long after his first brawl.

"That was exciting," Espinosa said. "That had to happened. They continued to throw at him. That was exciting for the first night. My heart racing, because I was already nervous. For that to happen the first night, I was really racing."

FROM THE POST

The Nationals allowed 16 runs for only the second time in team history in a 16-10 loss to the Florida Marlins as Nyjer Morgan found himself at the center of another controversy. The Nationals have not won a road series in 17 tries.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse 7, Rochester 2: Yuneksy Maya allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings on six hits and two walks, striking three. Josh Wilkie retired all four batters he faced, striking out three. Jason Botts went 2 for 4 with a grand slam.

Harrisburg 2, New Hampshire 1: Josh Johnson went 2 for 3 with two doubles and a walk. Tanner Roark allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings on five hits and three walks, striking out two.

Potomac 4, Salem 2: Tyler Moore went 2 for 4. Marcos Frias allowed no earned runs on three hits and two walks.

Hagerstown 9, Lexington 1: Second-round pick Sammy Solis made his first professional appearance and pitched two perfect innings, striking out one.

Vermont 6, Brooklyn 4 (Game 1, 8 innings): Blake Kelso went 2 for 3 with a walk. Dustin Crane pitched three scoreless innings of relief on one hit and two walks.

Brooklyn 3, Vermont 2 (Game 2, 8 innings): Russell Moldenhauer went 1 for 3 with a home run.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Ryan Zimmerman told Mark Zuckerman he and Ivan Rodriguez met with Nyjer Morgan about his play against the Cardinals.

Fire Jim Bowden wants to see Morgan gone from the Nats.

The Nats played their craziest game of the year, Ben Goessling says.

By Adam Kilgore  |  September 2, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
 
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Next: MLB reviewing Marlins-Nationals brawl

Comments

If the Nats came back and won that game, would the discussion switch to the pillory of the Marlins, and how Nyjer sparked the team with those steals?

Posted by: joemktg1 | September 2, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Ugly stat: In three separate starts in the last month, Olsen has given up as many or more runs as innings pitched.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 2, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

The Nats need to give both Olsen and Morgan "two tickets to paradise, pack your bags and they can leave tonight"!

With talent like JZIMM, DannyESPI, WilsonRamos, BernieD, Mike Morse and of course the FoF v1.0 who needs these two "no loads"!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 2, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

joemktg1, I don't believe so. You have to look at Morgan as the sum of all the bad decisions he's made this week, and while you can make excuses for each of them individually you can't ignore the direction Morgan is headed.

As for Olsen, when he gets pounded he gets pounded... and as much as he can be 'on' you can't constantly give away games because that night his fastball looks like a beachball.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | September 2, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Tippy going classic rock! A big improvement over "Torn Between Two Lovers..."

Posted by: baltova1 | September 2, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

What does Josh Wilkie need to do before room is made for him on the 40-man? Jeez.

Posted by: gtrain82 | September 2, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Lets get Espinosa in there a lot September. Willing to bet he's a lot better than Kennedy. Hope Ramos gets a lot of playing time too. I want to see what our highly touted prospects can do.

Posted by: futbolclif | September 2, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

joemktg1, I think it's silly to play the "what if" game. What if there had been no history leading up to Nyjer's getting hit in the fourth? Would people really think it's smart to be stealing bases at that point in the game, especially when you got picked off again a few days before? Supposed he tried and got caught? Would it have been a "gutsy, fiery" play or just plain stupid to get caught stealing when your team needs every run it can get?

You can play that game forever. The reality is, Nyjer's performances don't balance his flaws and he's a detriment to the team. I can't believe he'll be back next year.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 2, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Not even Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes made such bonehead decisions. Rizzo has been all about putting the right kind of players out there. We have Bernadina.

Time to DFA Nyjer.

He can't get on base; gets picked off first when he does; has played lousy outfield; and is acting like a punk. I was one of his biggest fans, but enough is enough. DFA him today.

Posted by: NatsWin | September 2, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Agreed on Josh Wilkie... his numbers are so good in AAA... you would think the club would be interested to see if his stuff translates at the big league level in September...

Posted by: Ghost7 | September 2, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Tippy going classic rock! A big improvement over "Torn Between Two Lovers..."

Posted by: baltova1 | September 2, 2010 9:00 AM

With Olsen and Nyjer, it's more like "Torn between Two Losers..."

Posted by: Hoosierdaddy1 | September 2, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, Olsen hasn't controlled what he can control on the field. Nats have given him enough chances. Dump Olsen and his attitude.

Posted by: JamesFan2 | September 2, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I don't comment frequently, but I have to defend Nyjer here. Yes, he's not the best CF in the league, and he has made some dumb decisions in the past (the latest occurring in St. Louis last week), but he's been playing hard since then. And that's what this team needs.

It's weak for the Fins to wait until his second at bat to throw at him, and it's weak for them to throw at him twice, making up some "unwritten" rule about stealing bases after you're plunked. Please.

This is actually the part of Nyjer's game I love: the fact that he would charge a pitcher that has him by 12 inches and 100 pounds when he deserves it. Beautiful. I'm a bigger Nats fan today than I was yesterday.

Posted by: Good2bOK | September 2, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Loved both Olsen and T Plush in better days.

Sadly, Olsen has not recovered from injury, and there isn't much sign that he will. Can't pitch in the bigs this way.

There is something wrong with Nyjer. His play has, like Olsen's, not been MLB caliber Not on defense, offense, or base running. And now he has lost all control. His problems over the last 2 weeks have been discussed in detail. Some are his bad, imo, some not. Last night, I had no problem with his stealing bases in the 4th. Fish don't like it, throw him out. Has not been that hard to do this year. Also guess he had to charge after the throw-behind, but he just looked insane when they pulled him from the scrum and led him off the field. Just insane. The Nats could use some fire and the scrum was not all that bad. But Nyjer won't be here long, nor should he be. Too much downside.

Posted by: NatsFly | September 2, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

The infield is set now with Danny here, the Dunn thing will get fixed one way or another. BTW Congrats to Danny all his firsts.

Road Game
AB
Hit
Double Play
and Brawl

Nyjer is a problem and needs to be gone. The question becomes if Bernie takes over at CF who plays in right in the short term until Harper is ready. Morse could be a short term fix but is better off the bench. You also have to think about LF, because of Willingham and his recovery. Will he be ready for spring, most likely he should be, and will this be a nagging problem next year? The outfield is a mess with no relief in sight.


Lastly, looks like Rizzo is really high on the Solis kid.

Posted by: hansenjo | September 2, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

There's a difference between playing hard and playing reckless and out of control. Morgan has had some out of control incidents the past few weeks.

Adam, what time will we hear from MLB? And what's the Vegas Over/Under on this set of suspensions for Nyjer.

Posted by: comish4lif | September 2, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Olsen's start last night was brutal and didn't do him any favors, but I don't think he completely killed his chances with it. His three starts prior to last night totalled 17IP, 17H, 8ER, 7BB, 12K; That's a 4.23ERA, and a 1.41WHIP over three starts.

He still might get non-tendered in the off-season, but I wouldn't be so quick to write him off just yet.

Posted by: BinM | September 2, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Tough game for Olsen last night. Time to promote Josh Wilkie. What does the kid have to do to get a shot? Maybe he needs to start hitting batters to get some attention from the yo yo mas running the team. Attention Rizzo: Bring up Josh Wilkie. Fans pay lots of money for these tickets and we want to see his debut!

Posted by: natsfan3131 | September 2, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Espinosa and Ramos have been welcomed to the big leagues in Rizzo/Riggleman/Morgan style. That is, like no other club in MLB.

We'd better hope that Rizzo and Riggleman get Morgan under control (although I see no evidence that they are even trying), or the two rookies are going to receive very bad training as to how a major league baseball team conducts itself on the field.

Zimmerman needs to step in and blow the whistle on Morgan's antics if Rizzo and Riggleman aren't going to.

Posted by: JohnRDC | September 2, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Sorry to be nit picky, but I have to wonder if anyone edits this stuff. "... one of them a development of immediate significance and then other a sign for the future..." "Yuneksy Maya allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings on six hits and two walks, striking three..."

These are only two examples of either typos or just bad grammar. The article is also filled with redundancies and odd structure choices.

Normally I wouldn't care, but I found myself re-reading several passages, wondering if it was my brain that was faltering.

I guess I expect more from the Post.

Posted by: scheermadness | September 2, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of lefties, Chapman is hitting 103 on the gun these days and picked up the win yesterday for the Reds. He is just 22 and still learning. He's all upside right now, but there's nothing wrong with building your future. He cost the Reds no players.

While the Reds were termed foolish and desperate by posters to sign Chapman (for $30 mill over 6 years), I would love to see the Nats do something equally imprudent. Wouldn't it be great to see the Nats make mistakes like that, out of desperation to bring winners to this town? Cincy, in a much smaller market, routinely outspends the Nats by a goodly margin because of their desperate mental state (compared to the Nats).

Of course, Chapman was a risk, but maybe not a foolish one. We will see. Chapman can throw twice in the time that it takes Olsen's pitch to get to the plate (I'm exaggerating). That doesn't guarantee success, but who hands out guarantees? Sometimes you need to sign more than one or two live arms (to join SS in 2012 and JZimm).

What would you rather have, Chapman-- or a slightly larger bank account to keep you warm during the off-season? "Foolish" is signing vets for too much money (Jose Guillen, Gary Matthews, Jr., Gil Meche, etc.) but what about a kid with a live arm like Aroldis Chapman?

Posted by: EdDC | September 2, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Who the heck is Tanner Roark? If he makes it to the bigs and does well, there's gonna be a lotta fun sign-making...

Posted by: Juan-John1 | September 2, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Morgan: may not be dirty, but is often making bad decisions...what's wrong? Does the name Jim Piersall strike up a familiar note?

Posted by: Bill-CH | September 2, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

@ Juan-John1: He was one of the two pitchers we got from Texas for Guzman. I don't remember the other ones name, but both have done well so far in AA.

Posted by: TimDz | September 2, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

@scheermadness: This is an on-the-fly blog. It doesn't go past copyreaders or editors, so it's not going to be as smoothly written as a day-after story written for the dead-tree edition. I'm a stickler for grammar and syntax, too, but cut the authors some slack in blogs.

That having been said, I wish dargramps would make occasional use of the period key...

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 2, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

EdDC, the only reason I am rooting for Chapman to explode is so you stop saying in virtually eevry thread we should have signed him. We offered him a ton of money, the Reds offered more. We, like every other team in baseball except the Reds, didn't sign him. Get over it.

I agree wholeheartedly that the Nats need to open the checkbook and sign more then retreads, but you cannot fault them for not signing him for more then 30M. If it was that much of a guarantee then every other team would have been there too, esp. your typical players like the Yanks and Sox.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | September 2, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Congrats to Danny Espinosa! I hope that is one of many hits he has as a National for years to come.

Posted by: markfd | September 2, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

@TimDz, Juan-John: The 'other' kid in the Guzman trade is Ryan Tatusko, who is racking up some pretty good numbers in AA ball, as well. Both are RHSP's; Tatusko will be 26 next season, while Roark turns 25 in October. A couple of names to keep an eye on.

Posted by: BinM | September 2, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

EdDC: IIRC, Rizzo offered a pretty good deal to Chapman's representatives (20M+), only to be out-bid by CIN ($30M/6yr).

Now, if Chapman turns out to be a "stud" #1-2SP for the length of the contract, it will hurt to have missed out on him, and he'll be worth the contract. But, if he turns into a reliever, or heaven forbid becomes another victim of Dusty Baker's pitcher abuse, than that $$$ might have well been used to light cigars. Only time will tell...

Posted by: BinM | September 2, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Was Nyjer Morgan at the Glenn Beck rally. Hell no. I love the kid and his hockey player makeup. I listened to Dave Jaggler cry about it last night and I wanted to puke. Morgan is supposedly wrong for stealing bases when the team is down??? Give me a break. What a bunch of wimps. I liked Espinosa's reaction. He said they were throwing at Morgan all night and the guy did what he had to do. That is what we need, not a bunch of cry babies.

Posted by: Juliasdad | September 2, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I am not ready to give up on Scott Olsen. Let's DL him and see how he comes out next year.

I remember a lot of folks were ready to give up on Marquis as recently as a couple of weeks ago. What say you now?

How's Wang doing? We haven't heard much about him lately.

And as for Morgan, what's the guy supposed to do, just stand there and let pitchers throw at him? I think he did good, and so did Slaten for plunking that jerk Sanchez who clothslined Morgan (THAT guy needs a fine and a suspension. I couldn't BELIEVE they left him in the game). I'm just sorry Slaten didn't aim a little higher.

My question to Morgan is, why the heck did you drop the bat?

Posted by: FergusonFoont | September 2, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

One Stupid Question:

I wounder how Frank Robinson would have handled Nyjer and his Hyjinx?

Posted by: hansenjo | September 2, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't watch the game last night but I was wondering if the Marlins threw at Espinosa his next time up because he was hustling by stretching a single into a double when the Nats were losing?

Posted by: AsstGM | September 2, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

It's OK not to sign Chapman as long as you make your fair share of signings elsewhere. The Nats don't come close to doing that.

It will be fun to see SS in 2012, and see if he still has all his pitches, once every five days. With Chapman, you could have excitement every couple days, starting right now.

No big deal, I guess, to back off of Chapman, but the Reds' move was not desperate or reckless. That's what I was responding to a couple days ago. I would love to see this very prudent, risk-free Nats team do something wild, reckless, stupid and desperate like Cincy was said to do (by Nats' posters) with Chapman. Who knows what kind of career the 22 year old with a 103 mph fastball will have, once he learns the game? He could go anywhere from top to bottom, and that is what makes him a risk. My guess is he will be quite an asset and worth the risk.

And what did the Nats do with all the money they saved by not signing Chapman? Nothing. That is what disappoints me! And no, I don't like seeing the Nats get consistently outspent by little ol' Cincy. If NY or Boston had beat the Nats out, then fine (even though the DC region has more population than the Boston region by almost a million people).

Posted by: EdDC | September 2, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Adam, love the reporting, but you seriously need to consider a better editor. There are at least 6-7 mistakes in this one, short column. e.g.:

Maya he could seamlessly fill Olsen's spot...

My heart racing, because I was already nervous.

Yuneksy Maya allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings on six hits and two walks, striking three. (Hitting three batters doesn't sound like much of a positive.)

Posted by: greggiebaba | September 2, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

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