Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: AdamKilgoreWP and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  E-mail alerts: Sports and Redskins  |  RSS
Posted at 4:37 PM ET, 01/19/2011

By adding Tom Gorzelanny and Jerry Hairston, Mike Rizzo creates competition

By Adam Kilgore

The Nationals' rapid-fire acquisitions over the few days have made for an overflow roster, adding more options and some intrigue. What their rotation lacks in star power, it makes up for in parity and depth. There will be real competition for spots in the bullpen and on the bench.

With Todd Coffey, Tom Gorzelanny and Jerry Hairston in the fold, the Nationals must remove four players from their 40-man roster as contracts become official, and that's without counting Alex Cora, who signed a minor league deal. They started this afternoon by unconditionally releasing right-hander J.D. Martin, which corresponds to Adam LaRoche's contract being approved by MLB.

The moves also created more competition across the board. Gorzelanny gives the Nationals eight potential starters for five spots: Livan Hernandez, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Yunesky Maya, Ross Detwiler and Chien-Ming Wang.

"We're going to have a good competition there," General Manager Mike Rizzo said. "And we're looking forward to it."

The extra depth was not necessarily a response to missing out on a frontline starter, which "we certainly tried" to attain, Rizzo said. "Whether we got a no. 1 starter or not, we felt [trading for Gorzelanny] was a solid deal for us."

Gorzelanny is out of options, and Rizzo said he is "going to be a rotation starter for us. He's going to positively affect the ball club." In addressing the Gorzelanny trade for the first time, Rizzo said Gorzelanny had his best velocity in 2010 since 2007, a conclusion reached after three of his "best talent evaluators" saw Gorzelanny pitch multiple times.

"We think there's still some upside to this guy," Rizzo said. "We think he's going to have a big rebound year."

Rizzo said Wang is currently working out in Arizona and throwing off a mound. He expects Wang to come to spring training ready and healthy. "He's not in rehabilitation mode right now," Rizzo said. "He's in preparation mode to get ready for spring training."

On the bench, Rizzo said, Hairston could play a number of roles, including possibly playing center field against tough left-handed starters in place of Nyjer Morgan. Rizzo said he's known Hairston -- "a Chicago boy with deep roots in baseball," he called him -- for a long time. Rizzo cited Hairston's "clubhouse presence" as a reason for his signing, a common refrain.

"I think every move we've made since I've been here, that has come into the equation," Rizzo said. "I've been around long enough and been around championship-caliber teams long enough to know that makeup takes you a long way."

Hairston's addition seemingly changes things for Alberto Gonzalez. The Nationals want bench players who are willing to accept their role, and Gonzalez showed signs of dissatisfaction with limited playing time last year. Both Cora and Hairston would presumably be willing to contribute off the bench, but, then again, Gonzalez has also been a more productive player than Cora recently. If the Nationals feel comfortable with Cora, though, it stands to reason Gonzalez could be a candidate to be traded.

Coffey gives the Nationals a veteran presence and fills the sixth slot in the bullpen. Collin Balester seemingly has the edge for the last spot, but he has an option remaining and there's also Rule 5 pick Elvin Ramirez, Craig Stammen, Luis Atilano and others, including maybe Detwiler and Maya if they do not make the rotation and the Nationals decide they want/need a long reliever.

After the flurry of moves this week, the Nationals have crossed most of the T's and dotted most of the i's of their winter. They could make a few small moves and add some non-roster spring training invitees, but the major alterations appear to be done.

"I think we've had a terrific offseason," Rizzo said. "I think we've accomplished a lot of our goals. We've constructed a team that's going to be a big upgrade from 2010 and be a very, very solid ball club that's going to contend very positively in the National League."

By Adam Kilgore  | January 19, 2011; 4:37 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Nationals sign Jerry Hairston Jr.
Next: The (late) skinny on this year's NatsFest

Comments

Calling it a "terrific offseason" certainly overstates things quite a bit. However, I hope that in spite of what looks to be diminished offense and the lack of a SP, I hope that the offseason moves nevertheless result in an improved (albeit only slightly) team. At least the error rate should decrease.

Posted by: NatsFly | January 19, 2011 4:44 PM | Report abuse

J.D. Martin should always be remembered for that AB after a long rain delay, when he wasn't going back out to pitch -- he worked a walk, which sparked a 5-run Nats rally and a victory, even though it wasn't his. He could have just flailed at 3 pitches and gone to the showers.

Good luck, J.D.

Posted by: nats24 | January 19, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I think this is finally starting to look like a MLB roster with real competition for spots. I like the moves and don't think we are done yet but I'm sure we are done with signings except for minor league deals. I still think if you move Lannan, Norris and Clippard you can get a solid starter for those guys and free up room on the 40 man, if you believe Flores shoulder is healed.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | January 19, 2011 5:10 PM | Report abuse

jerry hairston >>> willie harris

but

alberto gonzalez >>> alex cora

therefore

riggs needs to convince senor gonzalez that his future is as a utility IF

Posted by: DCPowerGator | January 19, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Get rid of Alberto. I had more impact on games from my couch than he did with his bat.

Posted by: NatyPete | January 19, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

>>Great clubhouse guys...chemistry....

Wasn't that the exact same thing they said about Kennedy last year. Sometimes better players make for better chemistry because peeps like winning. NO one's getting rid of ARod cause he's a bad clubhouse guy.
Cora over Gonzalez?
Puleeze.

>> Hairston "a Chicago boy"

Boy? Really? Oh no he dint.
Last I looked Hairston was 34 or so. Sounds kinda racist to me.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | January 19, 2011 5:52 PM | Report abuse

BTW where is the so-called competition again?
3B- No.
SS- No.
1B- No.
C- No (except for backup).
RF- No.
CF- No. (Except for backup).
Lf- No. (Except for backup).
2B- Maybe (And backup).

So this is a whole lotta nothing except for maybe 2B and a bunch of 2nd tier pitchers. And this was a great off-season?
Uh OK.
Looks like Rizzo really learned the talk from Bowden and Kasten.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | January 19, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Competition is only a good thing when the players competing are respectable. All the players brought in by the Natinals are scrubs, hasbeens, or never weres.

Natinals will go around 55-107 in 2011.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | January 19, 2011 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Competition for positions is overstating a bit (except for the pitchers), imo. What this whirwind of signings does is add a layer of depth to the MI-OF positions that hasn't been there in prior years.

With the Nationals now two (soon to be three) players over the 40-man, you could think that a trade (or two) is in the wind. Maybe something with the Giants, Braves, Indians, or Angels; Maybe not.

Posted by: BinM | January 19, 2011 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Must be tough for the BlOw's fans watch this team keep making good moves while the sit on the sideline

Posted by: SCNatsFan | January 19, 2011 7:15 PM | Report abuse

@skins_fan_22

four of the positions you listed above have competition. Even if its for a back-up slot, its competition. competition pushes everyone, even starters.

And the majority of the competition will be on the pitching staff, which is exactly where we need it. Think before you write. Please.

Posted by: jmurray019 | January 19, 2011 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Hey Nats Fans, you gotta like that Rizzo's not setting on his hands waiting for 2012. I mean, he is cracking a-- building a squad that is checking egos at the door, and are solid baseball players. Rizzo knows talent, and anyone who has played sports knows that a locker room of players heading in the same direction is a force of reckoning. Nats fans have to be excited about opening day and 2011. Looks like a springboard year. Go Nats!

Posted by: patsgrill4U | January 19, 2011 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Hey Nats Fans, you gotta like that Rizzo's not sitting on his hands waiting for 2012. I mean, he is cracking a-- building a squad that is checking egos at the door, and are solid baseball players. Rizzo knows talent, and anyone who has played sports knows that a locker room of players heading in the same direction is a force of reckoning. Nats fans have to be excited about opening day and 2011. Looks like a springboard year. Go Nats!

Posted by: patsgrill4U | January 19, 2011 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Just a quick comment. 7 starters for 5 spots. Unlike TJ surgery, with its 95+% success rate, shoulder repairs are, at best 50%. What that means (and I'm not a doctor and don't play one in the dugout) is that Rizzo is basically betting that either Marquis or Wang won't be back as a major league pitcher.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | January 19, 2011 8:16 PM | Report abuse

@mikecatcher50 - Agree 100% with the CMW/JM assumption. I may look like a complete baffoon in 6 months but I'm saying CMW's contributions to the '11 Nats is greater tham JM's. Why? Dunno other than CMW is starting from a higher historical ceiling than JM, that and CMW is a full year+ removed from shoulder surgery and was called "nasty" in fallball.

I believe this is the heart of the reason why Rizzo dropped out of the Webb sweeps. I don't believe he was ever serious about signing both off shoulder surgery.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | January 19, 2011 8:25 PM | Report abuse

"Why? Dunno other than CMW is starting from a higher historical ceiling than JM, that and CMW is a full year+ removed from shoulder surgery and was called "nasty" in fallball."

But he hasn't pitched in over 2 years. TWO YEARS IS HUGE. At age 30+! The likelihood of Wang being an effective starter capable of 200 innings is extremely slim. I really can't see him getting as far as 100 and so a bullpen slot might be in his future.

My guess right now given what Wang himself has said is another stint on the DL this spring ... working a rehab stint in the minors and then some major league starts.

Rizzo expecting him to be ready? Well that's a bit like expecting Maya to come right in with only a handful of minor league innings and pitch in the bigs last year. Didn't Rizzo just say that was a mistake?

Sorry but I'm calling Rizzo on this one.

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 8:45 PM | Report abuse

I thought Marquis problems were bone chips in his elbow not his shoulder, recovery is much higher from that and Marquis recovered, and pitched, last season.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | January 19, 2011 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Not much upgrade being directly added at CF position, but Rizzo sure seems to sending a clear message to Nyjer: Step up or step out!

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | January 19, 2011 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Many of the skins fans who jump over here are used to
the silliness of Redskins Park.

"BTW where is the so-called competition again?"

3B- Backup YES. Uh whaddaya do if Zim gets hurt? Doh! Gonzalez? I don't think so? Morse? This could actually be a real weakness.
SS- YES. Espinosa just might win this job. You never know. Doh!
Is the Hairston the guy you want if Desmond can't go? Is it
Gonzalez? How about Bixler?
1B- BACKUP. What happens if LaRoche gets hurt? Morse? Who?
Perhaps you didn't notice but Michael Aubrey is a
non-roster invitee ... just like Cora, Bixler, etc? What about
the future?
C- YES. IRod isn't getting any younger. He will get hurt. Who's up? Ramos, Flores, and how close is Norris? These are things you need to find out starting in spring training.
RF- YES. Is Werth in center or right field? What happens if he goes down? Bernadina? Non-roster invitee Frazier how does he look? How does Corey Brown look?
CF- YES. Who are Brown, Bernadina? Is Morgan ready or do you need to replace him? Who is his backup?
LF- YES. Bernadina, Werth, Morgan, Morse, Brown, and Frazier.
YOU never know?
2B- YES. Is it Espinosa or Desmond? Gonzalez is also there and
could be good enough? Hairston? Cora? Bixler?
UTIL. Hairston, Gonzalez, Cora, Bixler.

And you also look at the minor leaguers to see where they stand in comparison to the guys on the major league roster. How far away are they? Scouts use major leaguers as guideposts to measure how far along players are.

What if Lombardozzi looks really close ... to Espy and Desmond. And Desmond or Zimmerman go down. Or Espy goes down? Do you go with the veterans or do you have guys who are ready?

Rizzo is not known for rushing people ... although in the case of Wang ... I guess he's decided he's either ready or he's not and if he's not he is going to release him before the March 29th deadline.

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 9:03 PM | Report abuse

@periculum - all good reasons why I may indeed look like a baffoon in 6 months. It's just a gut feeling; perhaps tainted by my own feelings towards CMW. I had a huge fan crush on him circa 2007/2008. Unfortunately the same can be said of DC's 2nd degree Albatros DM5 - who I consistently drafted as my QB in fantasy football despite him being a stinking Eagle. That one hasn't worked out so well. Here's hoping that CMW's story has a better ending in DC.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | January 19, 2011 9:05 PM | Report abuse

The 2011 Natinals are gonna stink worse than present I just dropped off in the toilet.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | January 19, 2011 9:25 PM | Report abuse

"Here's hoping that CMW's story has a better ending in DC."

Of ALL THE pitchers Rizzo has directly applied the greatest amount of pressure to Wang to prove he can in Spring Training. And last I looked Spring Training ain't in May. And that's when Wang said he might be ready.

There are two points of view on this ... Wang probably should spend some time in the minors FIRST. To get back into pitching after a long layoff. How can that be done? That was what was supposed to happen last year and instead it was entirely wasted, along with the previous year on rehab. Riggleman has even said he isn't sure Wang would be ready in ST from his "football injury". He too mentioned May.

Well, there's a problem. The Nats only have 40 slots on their roster. And only 25 can be active. They need and have needed starting pitchers that can go longer than six innings and hopefully make at least 20 starts for them. Wang does not look one.

Perhaps Rizzo feels as if the Nats have paid Wang enough with little to show for it? Maybe Wang just has to show he still has what it takes in ST, then go on the DL and get sent down to work some more on getting back into pitching again. Rehab starts inclusive? Or? If Wang doesn't show enough in ST? Does Rizzo release him on March 29th? Or before?

One of our intrepid pundits starting with Boz needs to ask him that question.

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 9:29 PM | Report abuse

"The 2011 Natinals are gonna stink worse than present I just dropped off in the toilet."

@Poopy,

The same one your kids dropped off in that pool in Arbutus? Wasn't that why you had to rush to pick them up after they were 86'ed?

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the internal "competition", here's how I see it right now...

CA- Pudge is #1 to open 2011, with either Ramos or Flores as his backup; The loser in Viera goes to SYR to get the bulk of GP/PA there (both should have options).
1B- LaRoche; Marrero is possible 'trade-bait', but Morse is an adequate stand-in when he needs a day off.
2B- Espinosa, AGonz, or Hairston; Might be the softest position offensively, but is solid defensively.
3B- RZim, then a huge drop-off to either AGonz/Morse/Hairston.
SS- Desmond, then Espinosa, AGonz, or Hairston as subs.
LF- The Bernadina/Morse platoon, then Morgan, Ankiel, Brown, or Maxwell.
CF- Morgan, then Ankiel, Brown, Bernadina, Werth, Hairston, or Maxwell.
RF- Werth, then Bernadina, Brown, Morse, or Maxwell.

Starters- Livo, Lannan, JZimm, Marquis, then one of Atilano/ Broderick/ Detwiler/ Gorzelanny/ Maya coming out of Viera; My bet is on either Gorzelanny or Detwiler. Wang starts the year on the DL, but could join the staff in May-June, and Maya is probably the 1st 'call-up' from SYR.

Bullpen- One of Stammen/ Gorzelanny/ Gaudin[NRI] as a LR-SpotS; Clippard, Slaten, & Rodriguez in MR roles, then a back-end of Coffey/ Burnett/ Storen to start the season. Balester, Carr, or Kimball or others are only a day away in SYR, should anyone stumble.

Posted by: BinM | January 19, 2011 9:55 PM | Report abuse

"Bullpen- One of Stammen/ Gorzelanny/ Gaudin[NRI] as a LR-SpotS; Clippard, Slaten, & Rodriguez in MR roles, then a back-end of Coffey/ Burnett/ Storen to start the season. Balester, Carr, or Kimball or others are only a day away in SYR, should anyone stumble."

Hmmm, I forgot about Ankiel and Maxwell. I doubt that Stairs makes the team because Riggleman appears enamored with Ankiel. Just on that you wonder if perhaps he wins the left field job?

Your bullpen list needs Elvin Ramirez. He is too good to return to the Mets ... they will keep him on the roster unless he is another Bruney. Borderick I think goes back to the cards.

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Bullpen: Storen, Clippard, Slaten, HRodriguez, Ramirez, Burnett Coffey; Livo as the eventual innings eater if the other starters prove their mettle in the spring.

In any case looking at the numbers and the rule 5/no options issue one has to think there is still a multi-player trade involving players on the 40-man in the offing.

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 10:03 PM | Report abuse

My guess on the trade partner is the Rays.

They need to replenish their bullpen. The Nats, last year, had one of the "cheapest" and best. They seem to have plenty of inventory. While the Rays could again be very competitive with a bullpen and for them replenishment is as soon as June with 13 picks in the first 90 draws.

The Rays also need help at DH, first base, and catcher.

Instead of Lannan to the Yankees, perhaps he goes to the Rays along with Clippard, Stammen, and Morse, Marerro for Jimmy Shields.

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Lannan isn't going to the Rays, at least not as a starter - the reason they dealt Garza is because of the talent they have (Hellickson, etc) moving into the rotation.

On competition, there's lots of it on this team and that's a good thing. And however it plays out, the bench is NOT going to include Harris, Mensch, Kennedy, Maxwell, Nieves. It's likely to be Ankiel, Morse (who will get a lot of PT at a lot of positions I expect), Hairston, Ramos/Flores and possibly Stairs. That's a LOT better. Pinch hitting actual major league hitters will be a lot better than sending up someone hitting at or below the Mendoza Line will help the offense. So even though the team doesn't have Dunn and Willingham, it will have Werth and LaRoche, which (with the benefit of the bench) should be roughly comparable. Add fewer at bats from "GIDP" Pudge will be a bonus to the offense, and Morgan will either be better or be gone - he was epic fail as a leadoff hitter last year, and he and Guzman in the #1-#2 slots last year really hurt the 3-4-5 spots.

I expect Maxwell to be one of the players let go when all of the roster moves settle out (my money is on Martis to go, too).

Posted by: JCCfromDC | January 19, 2011 10:48 PM | Report abuse

"Lannan isn't going to the Rays, at least not as a starter - the reason they dealt Garza is because of the talent they have (Hellickson, etc) moving into the rotation."

Lefty Jake McGee should be in that rotation instead of either Niemann or Shields at this point. Not sure but Niemann might cost them less. Perhaps they could acquire McGee? He is ready and sits close to the top of their prospects list.

In any case they need relievers. The Nats have plenty. They need a young DH. The Nats can throw Marerro their way ... he is 22 and under team control for the foreseeable future. It might be hard but fan favorite Michael Morse could really help the Rays I suspect. The only hangup. The Rays do need another catcher. I'm not sure the Nats can afford to let any of Ramos, Flores, and Norris go. Especially Norris. They may also need a second baseman. They aren't sure about Zobrist. And their top MI prospect Beckham has been floundering in the minors.

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Nats organizers you have done very well in 1 offseason, when 2 weeks ago it looked liked same old lose more wannabe fans. This year you need unNatlike health and the teams coaches to take charge and lead. If you don't lead them they will be MLB players instead of WASHINGTON NATIONAL PLAYERS. Look in the mirror if you are hesitate to do what you know it takes. For 30 years I've watched my DC sport-teams change are blue-collar fight you til we didn't know we died, and since have and deserve no respect. I'd love to show you all I ain't crap but nobody is better than me.

Posted by: CTaylor42 | January 20, 2011 4:06 AM | Report abuse

I want Washington National players. You pull the punch, not me tonight. Our H.O.F. catcher played like he had our opponents back and wanted to make sure they knew "hey don't worry it's okay". Ouch--cut him and eat the contract Mr. Billionaire, or have a bad NAT. Case Open---Case Closed.

Posted by: CTaylor42 | January 20, 2011 4:27 AM | Report abuse

For 30 years I've watched my DC sport-teams change are blue-collar fight you til we didn't know we died, and since have and deserve no respect. I'd love to show you all I ain't crap but nobody is better than me.

Posted by: CTaylor42 | January 20, 2011 4:06 AM | Report abuse

What does this mean????? Hope this isn't THE Charley Taylor

Posted by: bosco3 | January 20, 2011 7:50 AM | Report abuse

BinM says that JMax is in the mix for outfield backup. The guy just can't seem to him ML pitching. I love him and think he had the potential, but in the time he's been with the Nats he's shown me nothing at the plate other than two grand slams. JMax + clutch hitting = ZERO. Sorry, but perhaps he can be bound up in a prospects trade. I wish him well...with some other team.

Posted by: luv2bikva | January 20, 2011 7:58 AM | Report abuse

@luv2bikva: Maxwell is in the mix only because he's still on the 40-man. I truly believe it's time for him to move on, and wish him well in the future.

Posted by: BinM | January 20, 2011 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I think Rizzo earned the right to sleep in this morning

Posted by: SCNatsFan | January 20, 2011 9:27 AM | Report abuse

@luv2bikva: Actually, Maxwell has THREE grand slams - and I believe about eight career MLB home runs! That's just nuts - he's 3-4 with 3 HR with the bases loaded in his career. There are real major leaguers who play for years who don't have three grand slams to their credit.

That said, I'm in favor of cutting losses with him. We now have Corey Brown in the "toolsy prospect who may or may not hit" category, and JMax has pretty much answered the question about hitting.

Posted by: JCCfromDC | January 20, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

"I want Washington National players. You pull the punch, not me tonight. Our H.O.F. catcher played like he had our opponents back and wanted to make sure they knew "hey don't worry it's okay". Ouch--cut him and eat the contract Mr. Billionaire, or have a bad NAT. Case Open---Case Closed."

"What does this mean????? Hope this isn't THE Charley Taylor"

Someone who was either drinking or in a different time zone. Given the Sonny-and-Billy-over-the-hill-gang. Both are possible.

I wouldn't put it outside the realm of possibility.

The man is right in what he says. I think and hope Rizzo is going to lay down the law where that is concerned ...

I wouldn't worry so much about Pudge ... and it is rather more accusation one could levy at gentleman Jim Riggleman. He is going to give veterans their due even if it means losing games. Which is why I sincerely hope Matt Stairs does not make the 25-man. Livan and Pudge actually contribute to winning ... he is going to play Cristian Guzman and make him the starting utility guy ... even if it means losing games ... no matter what.

And it absolutely should END this season ... it should not be tolerated in any shape or form. There's always a new manager available.

Posted by: periculum | January 20, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company