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The Nationals offense comes alive

Morning roundup

As the Nationals consider their offensive surge the past 11 games, it may inspire a pair of questions: Where has this been all season? And where would they be if they had found it sooner?

From opening until Aug. 25, the Nationals scored 3.94 runs per game, 26th out of 30 in the majors leagues. Since, the Nationals have scored 85 runs in 11 games, a cool 7.73 runs per game, by far best in the majors over that span. In less than two weeks, the Nationals have moved from 26th in runs per game for the season to 22nd, now scoring 4.24 runs per game for the year.

The Nationals surpassed the previous 11-game high for runs in team history by getting production from their entire lineup. One of the main catalysts has been Ian Desmond, who while hitting second has been pounding the ball and setting up Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman.

Hitting coach Rick Eckstein agonizes when the Nationals aren't scoring runs, but his analytical mind won't let him do anything rash. When he needed to make changes with certain hitters, he did, but he didn't alter anything too drastically. It finally clicked for the Nationals over the past dozen days.

"It's like anything else," Eckstein said. "You go about your day. You work hard. You plan, and you have a plan. When it works and it executes, everything is great. When you're not getting that key hit, when you're not doing that, it goes back to evaluating what adjustments you need to make. Sometimes, you've got to say, 'Nope, we've got the right plan. We've just got to keep plugging away.' The guys have done a nice job to battle and be real tough at the plate and execute."

FROM THE POST

Danny Espinosa went 4 for 5 with two homers and a grand slam in the Nationals' 13-3 romp over the Mets, a memorable home debut.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Pawtucket 4, Syracuse 3: Pete Orr went 2 for 4 with a home run. Jamie Burke went 1 for 3 with a home run. The Chiefs finish the season 76-67, second place in the International League.

Harrisburg 6, Binghamton 5: The Senators clinched a playoff berth with the win. Josh Johnson went 2 for 3 with a game-winning home run in the top of the ninth. Michael Burgess went 2 for 4 with a double and was hit by a pitch. Tanner Roark allowed two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings on eight hits and one walk while striking out 10.

Potomac 7, Kinston 6: Robert Jacobsen hit a two-RBI, walk-off single. Tyler Moore went 2 for 4 with a home run and a walk. Nicholas Moresi went 2 for 4 with a home run. Marcos Frias allowed no runs in six innings on six hits and no walks, striking out eight.

West Virginia 7, Hagerstown 3: Sammy Solis allowed no runs in two innings on two hits and no walks, striking out two. In the first two starts of his career, Solis hasn't allowed a run in four innings. Rick Hague went 2 for 4 with a triple and a home run. Eury Perez went 2 for 4. The Suns finished the second half 29-41, sixth in the South Atlantic League.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Jim Callis of Baseball America ranks his top 10 Nats prospects within this chat.

The Nationals Enquirer provides screen grabs of Danny Espinosa getting hit in the face with a pie by John Lannan.

Mark Viera looks at how the Nationals are dealing with the eventful past two weeks.

By Adam Kilgore  |  September 7, 2010; 9:35 AM ET
 
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Next: Today's lineup

Comments

Is it just me, or anyone else notice that they painted the press box blue before yesterday's game? Wasn't it red before? Same for the wall lining the concession stands on the second level in RF -- it used to be green, now it's a dark navy. What gives?

Posted by: cdstej | September 7, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Hey guys. So I've been on vacation the past 2.5 weeks. Did I miss anything? Heh heh heh.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | September 7, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

No. The coverage has been lacking. It's NFL exhibition season. Get your priorities straight.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 7, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

So when Espinosa hits his slam, Dunn, Bernadina and Morse all scored ahead of him. As usual, they all wait at the plate for the guy that brought them in. But instead of congratulating him, as he got close, they all turned and walked away, as if nothing special had happened. Espinosa walks behind them, a confused grin on his face.

Kinda fun.

Video - http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100906&content_id=14352736&vkey=recap&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

Posted by: Sunderland | September 7, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Really wish I could see Maya pitch tonight, but I'll be stuck in class until 10. Lets hope he's as good as advertised.

Posted by: futbolclif | September 7, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, some of the change is just the normal statistical vagaries of the game. You don't score precisely 4.24 runs per game; instead, you can go two weeks and score 10 runs in 11 games and then go two weeks and score 80 runs in 11 games. It sure makes a difference when Dunn is hitting, though.

It is always interesting listening to Charlie and Dave when, during a hot streak, everyone is 10 for 20 or so. It always hurts to listen to them when everyone is 5 for 40. They are very good at telling you who is streaking, good or bad!

Posted by: Section314 | September 7, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

What's the chance Michael Burgess gets an invite to spring training? He has been playing well in Harrisburg since the promotion. In those 21 games since moving to Harrisburg he has a .391 OPB, .649 SLG, 1.039 OPS, 11 runs, 15 RBI's, 6 Dingers, and 21 hits. His only problem is he strikeouts too much 27 K (166 for the year) to 10 walks.

Just think, in a year or two we could have "The Killer B's" outfield Bernie, Burgess, and Bryce; combine that with an emerging dynamic infield, Nats Town might be a groovy place to be.

Posted by: hansenjo | September 7, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Sunderland,

Thanks for that, has to be in the top three of highlights for the year. Dare I say we have of our Uggla?

Posted by: hansenjo | September 7, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

cdstej, The press box was painted blue just recently. Supposedly it helps the right and center fielders see balls. That's what the guy on Nats call-in said in response to a caller question.

Posted by: longhorn64 | September 7, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I think there's a "tipping point" function at work here.

You can have four or five good hitters in the lineup, but if your 6-9 spots are weak, opposing pitchers can work around your good hitters. So if your 1-5 aren't all clicking, you're not going to score many runs.

That's what we had at the beginning of the season - weak bats in right field, center, second, and (1/3 of the time) catcher.

What's changed since opening day?

Left field - lost Hammer, but Bernie has been more than adequate as a replacement.

Right - Morse is playing there regularly now, instead of Willie.

Second - Joe Hardy

So suddenly, we're down to two relatively weak spots in the batting order, at catcher and center field. Nowadays, you'd BETTER get Nyjer and Pudge out, because the rest of the lineup is going to hurt you.

That's why I'm salivating at the thought of next year, with Bernie in center, replacing Nyjer, Hammer back in left, and Ramos behind the plate. Look at this lineup and point to the automatic outs, if you can:

CF Bernadina
2B Espinosa
3B Zimmerman
1B Dunn (please!!!)
LF Willingham
SS Desmond
RF Morse
C Ramos

Argue with the batting order if you want, but you can't point to ANYONE in that lineup and say, "Yeah, there's your automatic outs."

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 7, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

cdstej, The press box was painted blue just recently. Supposedly it helps the right and center fielders see balls. That's what the guy on Nats call-in said in response to a caller question.
Posted by: longhorn64 | September 7, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Also from a paint perspective, I could easily see in 5-10 years the red painted box would be bleached from the sun. Blue paint will hold up better.

Posted by: alex35332 | September 7, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Also from a paint perspective, I could easily see in 5-10 years the red painted box would be bleached from the sun. Blue paint will hold up better.

Posted by: alex35332 | September 7, 2010 11:04 AM

Wonder if they used a good primer, or just painted over the old color?
Any info on that? Or should we head over to the Sherwin Williams blog?

Posted by: Sunderland | September 7, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

CF Bernadina
2B Espinosa
3B Zimmerman
1B Dunn (please!!!)
LF Willingham
SS Desmond
RF Morse
C Ramos

Argue with the batting order if you want, but you can't point to ANYONE in that lineup and say, "Yeah, there's your automatic outs."

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 7, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Thats a solid linup so long as you keep in mind that your are going to probably see Ramos and Pudge still splitting time at Catcher and if Morgan isn't let go, he will probably still see some playing time, which is far better than putting Willie Harris out there to give guys a day off.

Posted by: alex35332 | September 7, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

It's that special time of the year right as the rosters expand where pitchers are almost completely whipped. They're just hanging on, waiting for the reinforcements to take some of the load off of them. I believe that this is the sole reason for having expanded rosters - so the teams can bring pitching in. The extra position players just get in the way most of the time.

Posted by: Brue | September 7, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

gilbertbp,

Hate to burst your bubble but Rizzo has clearly said that he thinks this year is a fluke for Nyjer (abnormally low BABIP I believe) and that he expects Nyjer to bounce back to his 2009 form next year. He thinks Nyjer is the catalyst we need at the top of the lineup. Hence insistence of Nats' management that Bernie's best position is LF 9got to make room for Morgan). Where does that leave Willingham? At 1B, I'm afraid, as we wave bye-bye to big Adam.

Is Rizzo changing his mind as he watches the development of Desi and Espinosa as potential top-of-the-order catalysts? Will the Lerners come to their senses and re-sign Dunn? One can only hope so.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | September 7, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Looks to me like AK is pointing the finger of blame directly at Riggleman for the earlier offensive struggles What this says is that If Riggleman hadn't been so stubborn about sticking with Guzman in the #2 hole and had put Desmond there things would have been different. Assuredly putting Kennedy in the lineup instead appears to have improved the offense as well. And then there is his lack of use of Morse as well.

Which may be why he has been told to alternate Ramos with Pudge (leaving Nieves on the bench) and to play Espinosa.

Given the offensive makeup of the 3,4,5 Riggleman's misuse of his players has to be the reason why this team did not perform up to expectations offensively.

Posted by: periculum | September 7, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

peric - i completely and fully agree.

I firmly believe Riggleman's desire to keep his veterans happy is the main reason we performed so dismally for most of the summer.
As soon as Rizzo took Guzman away from Riggleman, we saw ID and Kennedy almost everyday, and for both their offense and defense improved.
Riggleman insisted on jugling all 3, and it hurt the performance of all 3.

Riggleman also insisted on playing Wille harris over Michael Morse, and Morse has only gotten regular playing time since Willingham got hurt.

Riggleman completey botched this season.
He's been too focused on keeping people happy. He's afraid or unable to lead, and he's afraid or unable to correct mistakes.
(Recall - he asked some of his veteran players if they thought we should retaliate after the Marlins hit Nyjer. that's lame, passive leadership).

Posted by: Sunderland | September 7, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Next season, I hope we have a legit leadoff man instead of Nyger. I hope that Rizzo comes to his senses and Bernadina is our starting CF on opening day. It also helps to have a No. 2 guy who can hit like Desmond. I expect Espinosa will probably hit No. 6 in next year's lineup assuming Dunn is re-signed. This should be a much stronger everyday lineup from top to bottom.

Posted by: wizfan89 | September 7, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

alex and CapPeterson - I didn't say my lineup would be what we'll see next year; it's what I'D like to see.

As regards Nyjer. If Rizzo is right and Nyjer's just been really unlucky this year (i.e., the Johnson Effect), then having him in the lineup is fine, except that leaves a power hitting outfielder (Willingham or Morse) on the bench or platooning. I still don't see Hammer as an adequate replacement for Dunn.

Think about this: The decision whether Willingham is the regular left fielder hinges on whether Dunn or Morgan is gone next year. If Morgan goes, we have a lineup that hits at every spot 1-8. If Dunn goes, we have a hit-or-miss leadoff guy and we lose Dunn's productivity. For his career, Nyjer creates 0.17 runs per out used up (4.6 per 27 outs). Dunn creates 0.28 runs per out (7.4 per 27 outs). Willingham is two runs per 27 outs better than Morgan, at 6.8.

I see no reason to prefer Morgan over ANYONE in the outfield. He may get to a few more balls in CF than Bernadina (though Roger's no slouch either), but his paltry offensive career stats don't justify it (and Roger has a much better arm).

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 7, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to DC "Danny Boy", to bad its Sept. Guy arrives in town, first game at home, blasts the cover off the ball and probably had to search google to get any highlights on local TV/radio. Oh yeah thats right DC is a football town, what was I thinking?

BTW word gets around, MLB players know where they will toil in virtual obsecurity vs the towns that treat them like stars. Since most athlets have gigundo ego's very the amount of ink or microphones they get shoved in their face actually means something if they decide to move. Oh this is NatsTown the LernerStank don't sign FA's, so no reason to worry about ego's.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 7, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Tippy, "Danny Boy" is the name used in reference to the owner of Washington's NFL team. Please don't use it to refer to anyone playing for the Nats.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 7, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

There have been two clear tipping point dates this season - June 8th and August 24th. In the 68 games between those two dates, the Nats W-L record was 26-42 (.382). In the 70 games outside those two dates, the record is 34-36 (.496). And of course those two dates are Strasburg's first start and the day he was put on the DL. Clearly Strasmania was not good for the Nationals.

Posted by: FeelWood | September 7, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I vote that we adopt "Espy" as the official nickname for Danny. It is consistent with the pattern of adding a 'y' to the end of ballplayer's names, it sounds cool, and best of all it invokes the image of him winning many sports-related accolades. Thoughts?

Posted by: catie-boy | September 7, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Gilbertbp's lineup would be really fun to follow next year, and he correctly notes that there is no automatic out if that team is fielded. Without Dunn's power, it will be much less effective at the plate. Love the Hammer, but he isn't a replacement for Dunn. In fact, nobody out there is an adequate replacement for Dunn. When you look at the lineup we could have next year, along with potentially strong starting pitching (if our walking wounded are really back to healthy) an above .500 year would appear to be attainable in 2011. That Dunn has not been signed, given how close to a good team the Nats may actually be, is inexplicable to me (well, other than that cheap problem). Ray Knight was saying yesterday that Dunn still very much wants to stay in DC. Hopefully the Lerners will pry open that famously stiff wallet and sign him. Then again, maybe they will fire Knight for daring to say he hopes Dunn stays.

Posted by: NatsFly | September 7, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

gilbertbp,

I hear you. If I were the GM, my 2010 lineup would look pretty much like yours. Of course we'd still have Rizzo's problem of getting the ownership to sign off on our decisions.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | September 7, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

It's fun to watch the future develop when it's looking bright.

Posted by: shanks1 | September 7, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

You'd think by now, Rizzo would have enough bona fides with the ownership to be able to say to them, "Look what I've done with this team in the 1-1/2 years since StanK fired Jim Bowden. You're this close" (thumb and index finger 1/4" apart) from having a GOOD team, and Dunn is a major piece of that team. I'm telling you, Dunn is worth the money. If you think my judgment is sound, then pull the trigger and sign Dunn."

There's an implicit threat in that "...if you think my judgment is sound..." The unstated rest of that thought is, "If you DON'T think my judgment is sound, there are other teams who I'm sure would love to have me."

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 7, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

There has been a lot of call-ups who have performed well while i think little E is a keeper let's wait until he gets a longer look before we had him the all-star mvp.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 7, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Sorry that should have been hand him the all star mvp.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 7, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

gilbertbp,

It will be tough on Rizzo, the team and the fans if Dunn walks. How to handle it, if that happens? First, leak it through Ladson that the Nats are going hard after Carl Crawford. Then, just miss on Crawford, falling only a couple million short. (That can be arranged.) Obviously, the Nats can't be cheap if they were willing to offer Crawford several million more than what Dunn was willing to sign for. The Lerner-bashers will have to shut their traps! Then sign Carlos Pena for maybe one-third Dunn's price and pocket the difference. Next step: gloat about Harper's AFL numbers, Espinosa, etc. The future is bright.

Posted by: EdDC | September 7, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

EdDC, you forgot to work in the gunman behind the fence on the grassy knoll, Bush's complicity in the 9/11 attacks, and Obama's secret daily mosque appearance.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 7, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

oof! I agree...calling someone "Danny-boy" is fightin' words! Espy is much better!

Posted by: 1of9000 | September 7, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Agree about the bullet proof lineup, agree that Morgan is not the answer, agree on the need to keep Dunn assuming the price is somewhere near reasonable, and especially agree that Riggleman's Little League approach to getting everyone in the game really hurt the offensive production.

@FeelWood: Interesting point, and I had thought about that too, but I really think the Nats season started to fall apart with those disastrous games in Houston and then the collapses against the Orioles. After that, they never recovered their balance. I don't think Strasburg was a distraction. Can't help wondering right now what 2011 might have looked like with him. Maybe Maya will give us a hint tonight whether he can help plug that hole in the rotation.

PS: Speaking of the rotation (and I know this is an issue from a different thread), but Olsen is an idiot. Rather than complain about not getting his usual warm-up tosses, maybe he should consider changing his warmup routine, stop complaining, and earn his way back into the rotation. Pitching four innings of no-hit ball is a significant improvement over what we've been seeing from him.

Posted by: Meridian1 | September 7, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Danny Espinosa Fan Nickmname:

So far we have:

Danny Boy

Espy

little E

Eazy-E

Myself I like Eazy-E cuz he makes things look eazy. Combine that with Ian Desmoney you have a double play combo of Eazy-Money.

Posted by: hansenjo | September 7, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

gilbertbp: oooops! I forgot about that Danny. Sort of tells you that I for one ignore his over-hyped and underwhelming product. I hear he predicts a record crowd on Sunday, hmmmm are they busing them in from Dallas? Oh thats right, that only happens in NatsTown and its usually Philadelphia filth that gets bused in! Thanks StanK!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 7, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

The DP combination shall henceforth be named Desi-to-Despi-to-Dunn.

Ipse dixit.

(Plus it scans exactly the same as Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance.)

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 7, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

gilbertbp,

3-D sound better

Posted by: hansenjo | September 7, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Just to be belligerent, what if Riggleman's approach to playing everyone is actually a lot of the reason why they're suddenly breaking out the offense? You have a whole team full of guys who are actually comparatively well rested, if they've made it this far without being injured or traded. Desmond got most of a year to learn the ropes without having the 100% pressure of having to produce every day, same for Bernadina & maybe Morse, largely due to Riggleman's juggling. Add to that a new guy (this year it's Espinosa) with talent making his first time around the league, and the fact that they're playing against a lot of AAAA and AAA pitchers being brought up to see what they're like, and the final issue that most of the Nats are playing hard because if they don't prove themselves to get a job here next year they know they're not as likely to get one elsewhere - well, no wonder the Nats turn it up in September, like they seem to every year (7 game year-ending winning streak last year, punchout of Mets the year before, etc.) It's kind of a shame that he had to use .170 hitters like Maxwell, Harris and Nieves to spell them earlier in the year; imagine if he had had real hitters then.

Posted by: jonb5 | September 7, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

You know, it's funny how many of the posts around here are premised on trusting Rizzo, and assuming that the Lerners and StanK are not listening to him or are disrespecting his analysis if they don't sign Dunn... But some of the same folks simply want to write of Nyjer from next year's line-up even though the same evaluator -- RIZZO -- hand picked him and continues to profess his commitment to him. Seems like a double standard.

Posted by: cdstej | September 7, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

dargreg is right. I'm enthusiastic about Espinosa as well, but we all would be well-served to temper that enthusiasm, and to not pile on the expectations too high. Two years ago NatsTown was all abuzz about the DP combination of the future in the guise of Gonzalez and Bonifacio. And then of course we've got Future All-Star Kory Casto...

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | September 7, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

CiL: And two years ago, that smoke was being blown at us by that PTBarnum wannabe, JimBow.

Posted by: BinM | September 7, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

cdstej - I like Rizzo, I do trust him, in negotations, talent evaluation, drafting, all the GM-y kinda things.

One thing I do not trust?
Anything he says publicly.
I don't necessarily believe it, and I don't necessarily discount it. It's just the way it is with sports execs, they say what is appropriate and necessary, they do not say what is really on their minds.

So, Rizzo can say Riggleman is fully deserving to come back in 2011. That's a fine ting to say. Doesn't mean at this point it's a done deal. Doesn't mean anything.

And Rizzo can say he likes Nyjer, likes his play, likes his hustle, Nyjers our CF, Nyjers our leadoff guy, whatever.
It doesn't mean anything.

So, I look with my own eyes at what Nyjer has done this year.
He has the worst OPS of any regular player outfielder in all of MLB. The worst. Well worse than 2nd worst.
Said another way, he is the worst offensive producer of any of the 67 MLB outfielders who have 3.1 PA's per game played by their team.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/stats/byposition?pos=LF,CF,RF&conference=MLB&year=season_2010&qualified=1&sort=25

He has a arm that can only politely be described as 'minus'.

He leads the league in caught stealing (as he did in 2009 also!).

I trust Rizzo.
"hand - picked" is going too far. He swapped two of our problems with Pittsburgh for two of their problems.

I think our team would be better off without Nyjer.
Nothing at all to do with the pending suspensions. Everything to do with his baseball talents and instincts and abilities.

Double standard? No way.

What's Rizzo supposed to say. He doesn't really like Nyjer's play, gonna spend the winter looking for a replacement? Don't be naive.

Posted by: Sunderland | September 7, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

CiL--Man, you're bustin our bubble! Team not performing well for much of the season, Jeezus out for a year, Dunn not signed, and now you warn us that September will break our hearts. Which may be true, but didn't Espy look fine yesterday?

Posted by: NatsFly | September 7, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I can go with Nyjer if he is the best the Nats can get in CF. He is having a down year but could rebound the next year. My guess is that he will. As of now I prefer Bernadina in CF and the OF is too weak at the plate if both start.

As Boswell said in a recent column, Nyjer would make a 5th OF on a lot of teams and wouldn't make the roster on others. So it is not inconsistent to want to upgrade as much as you can. I trust Rizzo will make the upgrade in the OF at one position at least, maybe two.

Posted by: EdDC | September 7, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

BinM, when it comes to their public statements about players in the system, in his own scout-out-from-the-bushes manner, Rizzo blows smoke as well as--if not better than--Bowden. Just look at his recent comments on Nyjer.

While I'm in no way comparing Bonifacio and Espinosa, you're wrong to just dismiss the hype around Bonifacio as smoke coming only from PT Bowden. We heard a lot from Rizzo too, including how Bonifacio was his guy, a former "untouchable" whom he had scouted in Arizona. Here's what was written by Chico when the trade was made:


"Similar to the Guzmán deal, the trade for Bonifacio was layered in history. For more than a year, the Diamondbacks had expressed interest in Rauch. For just as long, the Nationals had kept an eye on Bonifacio -- who, until two months ago, was "untouchable," Rizzo said. The Diamondbacks' recent bullpen problems ratcheted up their need for Rauch, 4-2 with 17 saves and a 2.98 ERA for the Nationals. (He pitched a scoreless ninth inning for Arizona in Tuesday night's victory over the Cubs.) In turn, Arizona's willingness to deal a player Rizzo called "the fastest player in all of baseball" loosened.

"Rizzo first saw Bonifacio when the latter was a 16-year-old, trying out at the Diamondbacks' complex in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. As part of the drilling, players were asked to run a 60-yard dash. Rizzo watched a blur, looked at his stopwatch and gasped: Bonifacio had run a 6.22.

"I said, 'Is this 60 yards legit?' '' Rizzo recalled Tuesday. " 'Or is this a Dominican 60 yards?' '' They re-measured the distance and confirmed its accuracy.

"The Diamondbacks signed Bonifacio. Since then, because Arizona has Orlando Hudson at second, Bonifacio has played several positions, including center field. Some 10 days ago, Rizzo paid a visit to Class AAA Tucson to watch him play both. "A refresher course," Rizzo said.

"But all along, Rizzo and others in the front office were convinced that Bonifacio belongs at second. Acta, who knows the prospect because of his ties to the Dominican winter league's Licey Tigers, compared Bonifacio to Luis Castillo of the New York Mets. "

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | September 7, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-Well!...Beeen following you all, enjoying it as always...just haven't had much to say beyond what I either say all the time...or you guys are saying it for me. Good to see some of the Old Gangsters back , though (Swanni, Meridian, Tippy, etc....where's doveline and JayB!) as well as some new stalwarts (gilbert comes to mind). Any hoo....I hate to start slingin' kudos because I could go on for ever...and I always feel irked when I think of those I fergot to mention.
NOW...as far as the future...as you know, I've been pretty critical of the Slows. So now that we appear to have a legit chance to be in the mix, I really think it's imperative to keep Dunn. Defensive issues aside, IMHO he's just too much offense to lose. Hope the Slows finally graduate to the Slow-lies...but sure-lies!
And so yea...I really think we're gonna flirt with 90 wins next year. It's best case, good luck based-but I figure we're due for some of both. And as for Nyjer (a much beaten horse-or pony...he ain't that big, y'know?)I still have faith in the '09 version. If Rizzo thinks he's got what it takes....well, I'll trust his judgement. Lets not forget that he's gone from a quirky bit role in the Burg to starting in The Nations Capitol. Pretty big change. Here's hoping that the adjustments/maturation required, the needed lessons learned, will be in place next year-when it'll be important to us. Didn't much care for the "look at me" WWE "heel' exit the other nite, but I LOVED the whole brawl! The morning after, I heard Mike Schmidt (yea, THAT one) saying the Marlins were all wet about not stealing when you're behind.
Anyway, that's old news.
Looks like we've REALLY got something to be excited about here (other than reading the Gang).
And I got through a whole post without mentioning....oh, who's that new HOFer at 2nd base? HA!!!
92-70
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | September 7, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

NatsFly, yes, he looked awesome. I am just as excited as you appear to be, but I'm also trying to keep my expectations realistic and measured. The pressure and expectations that are put on the young "prospects" of losing teams can often be out of control, because there's little else to get excited about. That's how guys like Kory Casto end up getting touted way more than deserved.

Espinosa has been good, but hardly dominant, in the minors. I think a bit of perspective and restraint is warranted here.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | September 7, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Trying hard to add a little realism to this cocktail I've been swilling for the past few days (a little Rum and Espinosa, I believe it is), and it's a good thing to do that. But while it's smart to acknowledge we're getting excited about just a few days work, it's still hard to deny that this team has more good young players on hand than ever before. They have real depth of legitimate major league talent, maybe more than ever before.

Now, do they have enough guys who will go on to be good players for an extended period of time and complement each other enough to make this team a contender? Not yet. That's what the winter and spring training are for. But as for now, I'm enjoying this very much and hope to enjoy tonight's game just as much.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 7, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Sunderland - I don't really disagree with you. And I can appreciate any analysis of Nyjer's season based on his play (and not souped up and contrived angst about his "attitude"). Plus, you're absolutely right -- anything Rizzo says is only true until it isn't (i.e., until something better comes along).

But what I really find curious is the assumption that if Dunn doesn't get re-signed, it's because of cheapness, etc... I really like Dunn, want him re-signed and even agree with those who say that if the last year in a 4-year deal is a bust, so what. But maybe Rizzo himself doesn't agree. Maybe he's much more reliant on building a solid defensive infield and thinks he can find power in other spots. Maybe he's been given a budget by the Lerners (even a reasonable one) and doesn't want to allocate too much to a defensively challenged 1B. I found his statements when the didn't trade Dunn to be decidedly circumspect -- we didn't get "value", etc... Odd way to express excitement about one of your stars...

Anyway, just saying that if we trust Rizzo, then perhaps we have to consider that jettisoning Dunn is part of his plan for improvement.

Posted by: cdstej | September 7, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

"The DP combination shall henceforth be named Desi-to-Despi-to-Dunn.

Ipse dixit.

(Plus it scans exactly the same as Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance.)"

Or lions and tiger and bears. At least "oh my" popped into MY head when I read the original post.

Posted by: zimbar | September 7, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

CiL, you disappoint me. Everyone knows Espy's gonna hit .600, slug 2.000, and turn ten or fifteen unassisted triple plays next year.

Have a little faith to go with the Kool-Aid the rest of us are drinking.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 7, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

cdstej - yep, pretty much with you.

Off to the Stadium, got to support the cuban invasion.

Posted by: Sunderland | September 7, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

It seems that some of the posts are quite conservative regarding Espinosa's readiness and potential impact. No need to be conservative. Ray Knight is absolutely correct in his assessment - one of the most exciting players that have come down the pike in many, many years. His bat speed is incredible (similar to Bryce Harper's swing in a lot of ways) with great discipline at the plate, in the field and in his demeanor. Reminds me a lot of David Wright except with the bonus of more speed and is a switch hitter to boot.

Also, I have found the posts over the last 2-3 months against Morgan excessive - nothing wrong with his aggressiveness or style. He just needs to harness his talents a tad and that .260 BA turns to .295 mighty quick. And a better slide into 2B would help!

Assuming Dunn is signed, my next year's lineup would be:

Morgan
Desmond
Espinosa
Zimmerman
Dunn
Willingham
Bernadina
Ramos/Pudge

Notice the hitters: L-R-Switch-R-L-R-L-R
Hard to manage against that.

Mark my words - this team will compete for a playoff position next year.

Posted by: hersheyman | September 7, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

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